Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Captain Retires - My Tribute to Mr. November 9/28/14

Hey baseball fans!

Today was Derek Jeter's last game as a professional baseball player. Although it's sad, he is just one step closer to being immortalized in the Hall of Fame. Why should he be in the Hall of Fame? I thought you'd never ask.

Jeter was drafted by the Yankees with the sixth pick of the 1992 MLB Draft. He was brought up to the majors in 1995 due to injuries on the Yankees' roster, but didn't become a full-time player until 1996. In '96, he won Rookie of the Year and led the Yankees to the World Series to face the Atlanta Braves and eventually won it, giving Jeter his first ring. 1998 was Jeter's first year of 200+ hits (his first of eight) and his first All Star Game (he would play in 14 during his career). He helped New York to the best record in AL history up to that point with 114 wins and the team eventually won the Fall Classic against the Padres in a sweep. 1999 was probably Jeter's best year offensively, batting .349 with 24 home runs, 102 RBIs, and 219 hits. The Yanks again won the World Series (ring number three for Jeter) and they would do the same the next year against the Mets. In fact, Jeter made history that year when he became the first man to win All Star Game MVP and World Series MVP in the same season after having a great 2000 World Series.

Jeter was always a great opposite field contact hitter, but his fielding gets a little lost when people talk about his greatness. The Yankee captain from 2003-2014 collected five Gold Gloves at shortstop. He also had some power, winning the Silver Slugger Award for shortstops five times.

From 2001-2008, Jeter never batted under .290 in a season, never had less than 150 hits, and never scored less than 85 runs in a season. He was doing phenomenally, but the Yankees weren't winning championships. Luckily for Jeter and the Yanks, that all changed in 2009. The Bronx Bombers won 103 games and the AL East title, while Jeter took sole possession of first place on the all-time Yankee hits list, passing Lou Gehrig for the title on September 11th, 2009. With the help of Derek, New York won its first World Series since 2000. That's one of the things that people love about Jeter: he helped his team win by hitting in the clutch, earning him the nickname Captain Clutch.

On July 9th, 2011, Derek collected hit number 3,000 on a homer off David Price of the Rays, becoming just the second man to hit a home run for his 3,000th hit (the first was Hall of Fame teammate, Wade Boggs). Jeter currently stands at sixth all time in hits with 3,465, along with a .310 lifetime batting average. He is also tenth all time in runs scored with 1,923.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to talk about his famous plays. Who could forget his clutch game-tying homer in Game One of the 1996 ALCS against Baltimore (with the help of Jeffrey Maier, of course)? Who could forget the Flip he made to Jorge Posada to get Jeremy Giambi of the A's out at the plate in a critical Game Three of the 2001 ALDS? Who could forget his walk-off home run in Game Four of the '01 World Series against the Diamondbacks, the first home run in the history of the MLB in November? And finally, who could forget Jeter's dive into the stands to prevent Trot Nixon from getting a hit in a tough Summer game at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox? (See the picture below of the "Dive" that will be appearing forever on the bottom center of the cover of my upcoming book, Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers - An Introduction to Baseball History.) All of these plays will be forever remembered in baseball lore and it's amazing that Derek Sanderson Jeter was the player who executed all four of them.

Again, it's very sad that Jeter is retiring, but he gave his heart and soul to the game and I have to give him RE2PECT for that. Anyway, thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mr. Tiger Isn't Named Tony 9/24/14

Hey baseball fans!

Today is a really special anniversary for Tigers fans: it's the 40th anniversary of Al Kaline's 3,000th career hit! Who is Al Kaline, you ask? Well, I am about to tell you.

Al "Mr. Tiger" Kaline played his entire 22-year career with the Detroit Tigers from 1953-1974. Kaline could definitely hit for power, smashing 399 career home runs, but he was more so a contact hitter, and a good one, too. Averaging about 137 hits per year, Mr. Tiger collected 3,007 career base hits, 27th on the all-time list. He led all of Major League Baseball in hits (200) and batting average (.340) in 1955 at the age of 20, becoming the youngest man to win a batting title, a record that he still holds.

The 18-time All Star who batted .297 lifetime is also known for his glove. He won the Gold Glove Award as an outfielder ten times, seven of them consecutive from 1961-1967. Despite all of this regular season greatness, Kaline appeared in just one World Series during his playing days (and the Tigers won that Series), but boy, did he have a fine 1968 Fall Classic against the Cardinals: .379 batting average, 11 hits, a pair of homers, and eight RBIs in seven games.

As I mentioned before, on this date in 1974, Al got hit number 3,000 of his career against Dave McNally in a 5-4 Detroit loss to the Baltimore Orioles in the Charm City. Six years later, Mr. Tiger was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, receiving 88.3% of the vote.

Anyway, thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Doc's No-No's 9/20/14

Hey baseball fans!

I'm going to stick to the theme from my last post and talk about some more no-hitters. To be more specific, I'm going to talk about the most recent pitcher to throw a no-no in the playoffs: Roy Halladay!

No-Hitter Number One: Phillies vs. Marlins
When? May 29th, 2010
Where? Sun Life Stadium
What Happened? Halladay had an incredible day on the mound for the first place Phillies, striking out eleven and not allowing a single man to reach base in the 20th perfect game ever pitched in MLB history. It was the second perfect game thrown in the MLB in 20 days (Dallas Braden of the A's threw a perfecto on May 9th, 2010), but it was the first National League perfect game thrown since Randy Johnson in 2004. It was also the tenth no-hitter pitched in Phillies history and the second perfecto thrown by a Phillie in the history of the franchise. The only run of the game was an error made by Marlins center fielder Cameron Maybin in the top of the third, which allowed Phillies shortstop Wilson Valdez to score in a 1-0 Philadelphia win.

No-Hitter Number Two: Reds vs. Phillies
When? October 6th, 2010
Where? Citizens Bank Park
What Happened? Had Doc not walked Jay Bruce in the top of the fifth inning in this game, Halladay could have pitched the second perfect game in the history of the MLB postseason! But alas, he "only" pitched a no-hitter, the first one in postseason play since Don Larsen of the Yankees in the '56 World Series. The final out was made on a Brandon Phillips dribbler just in front of the plate, which was scooped up by catcher Carlos Ruiz and thrown to first baseman Ryan Howard to secure Roy Halladay's first postseason appearance and victory and a 4-0 win in Game One of the 2010 NLDS. The Phillies went on to win this playoff series against Cinci, but eventually lost to the Giants in the NLCS.

In case you didn't notice, Halladay's no-no's were pitched in the same year. He became just the fifth man to ever accomplish that feat. Anyway, thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sandy's No-No's 9/17/14

Hey baseball fans!

Today, I feel like talking about Sandy Koufax, but I don't want to talk about him in general. Today's post is going to be about all four of the Left Arm of God's no-hitters.

No-Hitter Number One: Mets vs. Dodgers
When? June 30th, 1962
Where? Dodger Stadium
What Happened? Koufax walks just four batters while collecting a whopping 13 strikeouts in a 5-0 Dodger win. The Dodger offense is led by right fielder Frank Howard, who homers and drives in two in the victory. 

No-Hitter Number Two: Giants vs. Dodgers
When? May 11th, 1963
Where? Dodger Stadium
What Happened? Facing rival pitcher Juan Marichal, Koufax only strikes out four, but walks just a single batter in an 8-0 destroying of San Francisco. Ron Fairly brings home three runs and Wally Moon homers in another two, helping Los Angeles get to 16-15 on the young season.

No-Hitter Number Three: Dodgers vs. Phillies
When? June 4th, 1964
Where? Connie Mack Stadium (in Philadelphia)
What Happened? Again, Sandy only walks a single batter, but this time strikes out 13 batters. Frank Howard hits a three-run shot for the only runs of the game in a 3-0 win for LA.

No-Hitter Number Four: Cubs vs. Dodgers
When? September 9th, 1965
Where? Dodger Stadium
What Happened? In arguably his best pitching performance of his entire career, Koufax strikes out 14, walking no one. This is the first and only perfect game that he ever pitched in the Bigs. The only Dodger hit was a Lou Johnson double in the fifth. He then proceeded to steal third and then scored the only run on an error. It was definitely a close contest, as both pitchers pitched amazingly in this 1-0 game, but it was Koufax who got the perfect game. This may have been the lowest combined WHIP ever by two pitchers in one game in MLB history, as Sandy had a zero WHIP and the other pitcher, Bob Hendley, gave up just one hit and one walk over eight innings, for a WHIP of 0.25!!

Fun fact: in case you didn't notice, all four of Sandy's no-no's were in consecutive seasons. Now, that's what I call consistent. Anyway, thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, September 14, 2014

MLwwB: What if Mike Trout Was Drafted by the Yankees? 9/14/14

Hey baseball fans!

I just put up another ML"what would"B post on More Than A Fan! In every ML"what would"B post, I discuss what would have happened if a famous event in baseball history had gone differently than it did in reality. For my latest post, I wondered what would have happened if Mike Trout was drafted by the Yankees in the 2009 MLB Draft. If you want to know the answer, just click here.

Thanks for reading the ML"what would"B and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The 2009 World Series 9/11/14

Hey baseball fans!

A lot of people ask me: 'Have you ever been to a World Series games, considering that you know all of the teams that won them?' The answer is yes, I have been to a World Series game. I attended Game One of the 2009 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies at the new Yankee Stadium. The real bonus of this game for me was that I went with my dad and both my grandfathers (Phil and Aron) and it was the first time any of us had been to a World Series game. The game itself wasn't my favorite, as the Yanks lost the game 6-1, but I definitely want to talk about this Fall Classic because it was the first one that I followed very religiously.

The 2009 New York Yankees were a great team. They won 103 games and six of the team's hitters hit more than 20 home runs. They got to the World Series by beating the Twins and Angels in the ALDS and ALCS, respectively. The 2009 Phillies were also a great team. They had just won the '08 Series against the Tampa Bay Rays and finished the 2009 regular season in first place in the NL East with 93 wins. They then proceeded to beat the Rockies and the Dodgers in the NL playoffs to face the Yanks in the World Series. This was not the first time that these two teams met in the Fall Classic, however. They played against each other in the 1950 World Series, and the Yankees swept that Series. Now, let's get into details about each of the six games played in the 2009 World Series.

Game One:
First-year Yankee C.C. Sabathia gave up two home runs to Phillie All Star Chase Utley. Philadelphia pitcher Cliff Lee held the Yankees to one unearned run in a complete game win. Lee became the first pitcher to strike out ten batters, walk none, and allow zero earned runs in a World Series start. The Phillies won the game 6-1, putting the eaters of the cheesesteak up in the Series, 1-0.

Game Two:
Both A.J. Burnett of New York and Pedro Martinez of the Phils pitched great, but Martinez did a little bit worse. New Yank Mark Teixeira and Yankee favorite Hideki Matsui went yard and Mariano Rivera got his first save in World Series play in nine years. The Yankees beat the Phillies by a final score of 3-1. After Game Two, the Series was tied at one game apiece.

Game Three:
This was the first game in the Series held in Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia and it would be one that Phillies fans would quickly want to forget. Nick Swisher, Alex Rodriguez, and Matsui all crushed homers off of 2008 WS MVP Cole Hamels in an 8-5 win for New York. Andy Pettitte gave up four runs in six innings pitched in his first World Series start since 2005. The Yanks led the Series two games to one after three games played.

Game Four: 
C.C. took the hill for the Yankees in Game Four, this time going up against Joe Blanton of the Phillies. Several runs were exchanged between the two teams and entering the top of the ninth inning, the game was tied at four. However, key hits by A-Rod and Yankee great Jorge Posada surged the Yanks to a 7-4 victory. Mo got his second save of the Series and New York led the Phillies in the '09 World Series, 3-1. Important note: Chase Utley hit a homer in the game, his third of the Fall Classic.

Game Five: 
A.J. Burnett got rocked early and often with six runs allowed in the first three innings. Utley hit two more homers, raising his Series total to five, and Raul IbaƱez hit one of his own. Although the Yankees tried to come back in the later innings, Philly prevailed and won the game, 8-6. The World Series then moved back to New York for a (spoiler alert) great game by the eventual World Series MVP.

Game Six:
The final game of this World Series was all about Hideki Matsui. Matsui collected six RBIs in the contest, tying Bobby Richardson of the Yankees in Game Three of the 1960 World Series for the World Series single-game record of runs driven in by a single hitter. Andy Pettitte had a great pitching performance and Mo closed it out in the ninth to preserve a 7-3 Yankees victory. It was the Yankees' 27th World Series title, the most championships won by a professional sports team. Matsui received World Series MVP honors for his three homers and eight RBIs in the Series.

Although the Yanks haven't won a World Series since 2009, it's always nice to think about that '09 Yankees team. Anyway, thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Five-Tool Player and a Three-Sport Athlete? Insane!!! 9/7/14

Hey baseball fans!

Today was the first weekend of the NFL season! So many incredible games were played and more should-be exciting games will be played tonight and tomorrow night. In honor of this fun and action-packed weekend, I want to talk about a baseball Hall of Famer that was not only drafted into the MLB, but also into the NFL (and the NBA).

One of my favorite Hall of Famers of all time, Dave Winfield played from 1973-1995 with the Padres, Yankees, Angels, Blue Jays, Twins, and Indians. One of the tallest Hall of Famers, standing at 6' 6'', Winfield was one of the best players of his time. The twelve-time All Star batted .283, with 465 home runs and 1,833 RBIs in his great career, but his most famous stat is his hit total: 3,110 career base hits (20th all time). This five-tool player had great years in San Diego and New York, but despite his last name, he never won a World Series with those clubs. However, he helped the Toronto Blue Jays win their first Fall Classic in franchise history in 1992 with a go-ahead hit in the top of the eleventh inning of Game Six of the Series. The seven-time Gold Glove Award winner didn't have to wait long after his retirement to get into Cooperstown, as he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, in 2001.

In case you were wondering, Winfield was drafted by the Padres of the MLB, the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL, and the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA. I wonder what his career would have been like in pro football and/or pro basketball. Anyway, thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The History of the Fish 9/3/14

Hey baseball fans!

The National League East has been a very unpredictable division over the past several years; every team in the NL East has won the division at least once since 2006, except for one team: the Florida/Miami Marlins. Although the Marlins haven't been super great for the last decade, I want to tell you a little about this fairly young baseball team.

The Florida Marlins played their first season in the MLB in 1993. The marlin is the most popular deep water fish in Florida, which was one of the reasons why then-Marlins' owner, Wayne Huizenga, chose the name for the first MLB team in Florida. When they were known as the Florida Marlins (yes, they were renamed, but that will be explained later), they played in the same stadium as the NFL's Miami Dolphins. The stadium went through several name changes, but most people recognize it by its formal name, Joe Robbie Stadium.

The Marlins didn't experience immediate success, but they got their first ticket to the playoffs in 1997 as the NL Wild Card team with 92 wins. After beating the Giants and Braves in the NL playoffs, Florida became the fastest expansion team up to that point to reach the World Series (the Diamondbacks would break that record in 2001). There, the Fish (as the team is nicknamed) faced the powerful Cleveland Indians. Surprisingly, the Marlins actually won that Fall Classic in seven games. The seventh game was very dramatic, as it was won on a walk-off single by Edgar Renteria in the bottom of the eleventh inning.

1998 was a hard year for the Marlins and their fans, as the team couldn't keep most of their players from the 1997 squad due to financial problems. Because of this, they posted the worst record for any team that had just come off of winning a World Series, with 108 losses. They experienced a couple more subpar seasons, but they turned it around in 2003. With the help of star hitters like Ivan Rodriguez and Mike Lowell and star pitchers like A.J. Burnett and Josh Beckett, the Marlins won the NL Wild Card race again and eventually reached the World Series to face the Yankees. Again the underdogs, the Marlins shocked baseball when they beat New York in six games.

After 2003, the Marlins have not had any more exciting treks through the playoffs, but something exciting did happen to the team after the 2011 season: they relocated! The Florida Marlins were renamed the Miami Marlins, moved into their new park, Marlins Park, and switched their teal uniforms for orange uniforms. Miami has not experienced playoff baseball in their new stadium, but they probably will in the near future.

Here's another fun fact about the Marlins: Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers actually started his career with the Marlins in 2003. He played with the team until 2007! Anyway, thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."