Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Tale of Two Danny Ainges 1/27/15

Hey baseball fans!

Sticking with the theme of basketball stars who were once baseball players, there was a shooting guard for the 1980s Boston Celtics NBA Finals-winning teams that actually first played baseball before stepping a foot onto an NBA court. I'm sure Bostonians know his name: Danny Ainge.

Ainge, a native of Eugene, Oregon played basketball professionally from 1981-1995 with the Celtics, Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers, and Phoenix Suns. However, prior to his NBA career, he had a short MLB career. In 1977, Danny Ainge was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 15th round of the '77 amateur draft. After rising through the minor leagues, Ainge finally got his first taste of big league ball in 1979 with Toronto.

He was only a role player in his baseball career from 1979-1981 with the Blue Jays, but he performed nicely. In his first season, Danny hit .237 in 87 games and smacked his first and last two career home runs. In 1980, he only appeared in 38 games, but raised his batting average to .243. Finally, in 1981, Ainge played only 86 games, batted .187, and retired from baseball at the old age of 22. But he retired for good reason; just a few months into the 1981 MLB season, specifically on June 9, 1981, Ainge was drafted 31st overall to the Celtics in the '81 NBA Draft.

So although Danny Ainge didn't have the greatest MLB career, at least he made a name for himself in the National Basketball Association. Anyway, thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Friday, January 23, 2015

Big D in the MLB?! 1/23/15

Hey baseball fans!

Today is my dad's birthday! In honor of this special day in the Nadel household, I'm going to talk about a Hall of Famer on my dad's childhood favorite basketball team: the New York Knicks.

In the NBA2K games, there is this mode called MyTeam, where you pick up players from all across NBA history and play with them against other opponents online. One of the players who I had on my NBA2K14 MyTeam roster was Basketball Hall of Famer, Dave DeBusschere. Big D, as he was nicknamed, played with the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks as a forward in the National Basketball Association from 1962-1974. But did you know that he actually played in the MLB before he became an NBA star? Just to let you know, just like NFL Hall of Fame member Deion Sanders, DeBusschere was a two-sport athlete that was a HoFer in the sport that wasn't baseball. However, he still played America's Pastime professionally.

So Big D signed with the Chicago White Sox as an amateur free agent before the start of the 1962 season as a pitcher and during his White Sox career from 1962-1963, he was used mostly as a reliever, but did start ten career games on the mound. DeBusschere finished his first MLB campaign with an ERA of 2.00 in 18 innings pitched. In his second and final MLB season, he started ten games, appeared in 24, and posted a record of 3-4. One of his wins in '63 was actually a shutout of the Indians. On August 13th, 1963, Dave pitched the full nine innings against Cleveland at Comiskey Park, gave up six hits and a walk, and struck out three. He retired from baseball after the 1963 season to pursue a full-time career in the NBA.

Thanks for reading this post and if you see my dad today, wish him a happy birthday. I hope you enjoyed this post and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Monday, January 19, 2015

What would Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner & Willie Mays be paid in 2015? 1/19/15

Hey baseball fans!

With the offseason upon us, money is a big topic in many of my baseball-related conversations. Should this player be paid more? Should this player be paid less? Should this player sign a bigger contract? I have heard these questions daily for the past couple of months and I've answered them differently depending on who the player is. Then I got to thinking: if a Hall of Famer from back in the day played now, how much would he be paid? In today's post, I'm going to answer such a question about three different MLB Hall of Famers from three totally different eras.

Hall of Famer One: Babe Ruth
His Average Salary per Year During Career: About $40,590
How Much I Think He Would Be Paid in the Current MLB: At least $40 million per year
Why? $30 million dollars a year is a pretty big number even for today, but Ruth definitely deserves that and then some. Miguel Cabrera and Giancarlo Stanton have contracts going into the 2020s that are worth about $30 million a season and they're two of the best ballplayers the current MLB has to offer. But considering Ruth was probably the best player in baseball history, he would get much more than Cabrera and Stanton. A $40 million a year contract is absolutely unheard of, but any team would pay that kind of money for the Bambino.

Hall of Famer Two: Honus Wagner
His Average Salary per Year During Career: About $6,595
How Much I Think He Would Be Paid in the Current MLB: At least $21 million per year
Why? Andrew McCutchen, probably the best hitter on the Pittsburgh Pirates, gets paid about $14,000,000 a year. So Wagner, who also played for the Pirates, would get more than 14 mil a season. Now, considering he was the best contact hitter of his generation, he probably wouldn't get the money that big sluggers make today. However, he does deserve the annual salary of one of the best contact hitters to ever play the game: Derek Jeter. Jeter, from 2006-2010, got paid around $21 million a season. Wagner undoubtedly would get the same and probably even more.

Hall of Famer Three: Willie Mays
His Average Salary per Year During Career: Around $88,410
How Much I Think He Would Be Paid in the Current MLB: At least $36 million per year
Why? Out of all the hitters in the MLB, I would have to say that the Say Hey Kid is most like Mike Trout. Both are amazing five-tool players. Trout will be getting $34 million a year from the Angels from 2018-2020. Because Mays is one of the best pure hitters of all time and shares some characteristics with Trout, I think he would be paid at least a couple more million a year than LA's outfielder.

What do you think of my conclusions? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

An Interview with the President and CEO of Little League Baseball, Stephen Keener! 1/14/15

Hey baseball fans!

I have a very exciting interview for you today with Stephen Keener, the CEO and President of Little League International! However, before I get into the Q&A, here is a quick bio on Keener.

A graduate of Westminster College, Stephen Keener joined the executive staff of Little League Baseball in 1980 and became the league's president in 1994. During his term as president, he has done some great things for Little League. He expanded Little League Baseball to 20 more countries and more than 3 million kids are involved with this youth organization today. Keener has also contributed to making the game less harmful to the kids, creating numerous rules that, for example, limit the amount of pitches a pitcher can throw per game or state how long a pitcher is required to rest based on his/her age. Mr. Keener has also made sure that everyone can watch Little League games, signing TV contracts with ABC Sports and ESPN, so that all the young baseball stars get the exposure they definitely deserve.

Now that you know a bit about what Stephen Keener has accomplished as the President of Little League Baseball, Inc., here is the interview.

Matt: What team did you play for when you played in Little League? What position?
Mr. Keener: Milo's Sub Shop in the Loyalsock Little League near Williamsport as a pitcher and second baseman.

Matt: What is your favorite Little League moment (as a player and as the President)?
Mr. Keener: In Little League, hitting my one and only home run. As the President, when I get the opportunity to visit local Little League programs and see so many kids having fun playing this great game.

Matt: What sports did you watch while growing up?
Mr. Keener: Baseball, basketball, and football.

Matt: What is your job as the President and CEO of Little League?
Mr. Keener: My job as Little League's President and CEO is simple - make sure that all kids have the opportunity to have an enjoyable and beneficial baseball or softball experience. Our staff at Little League works very closely with our dedicated volunteers to make sure that happens. And whether it's at one of our nine World Series events during the summer or at a local Tee Ball game in the spring, we want to ensure that children are not only learning the fundamentals of the game, but also learning life lessons of team work, dedication, and sportsmanship, that will help them grow into future leaders.

Matt: Do you think you would have had success back when you were in Little League, if you had faced Little League star Mo'ne Davis at the plate?
Mr. Keener: Thankfully, I didn't have to face pitchers with a 70-mile-per-hour fastball when I played Little League. Mo'ne is not only a great example of how hard work can pay off on the field, but also how important it is to be a well-rounded athlete and excel in the classroom. She is one of the many Little Leaguers to have had the opportunity to compete at the Little League Baseball World Series and create many lasting memories.

Matt: How important is it for you to have celebrated recently the 75th anniversary of Little League?
Mr. Keener: Our 75th Anniversary year at Little League will go into history as one of our most successful years ever. At major milestones in the history of an organization, it is important to look back at what has been accomplished and achieved over the years, but, more importantly, to look forward at how we can continue to grow and improve. We had many highlights celebrating our Diamond Anniversary, from first pitches at Major League Baseball's World Series and All-Star Game to lighting the Empire State Building to wonderful news stories and a documentary telling many great stories of the history and future of Little League. But what we're most proud of is the work we accomplished to ensure that our celebrations can continue and that Little League can continue to provide the best youth sports experience for all boys and girls around the world.

Matt: What do you want to see happen for Little League in the near future?
Mr. Keener: We want to make sure that Little League stays true to the mission that has guided the organization for 75 years, to provide a fun, healthy experience for all children. We have some exciting new programs that have launched recently, like the Little League Intermediate (50/70) Baseball division to provide 11- to 13-year-olds the opportunity to transition from the Little League field to the conventional field and the revamped Tee Ball Program that focuses on fun, fitness, and fundamentals. But, we're also growing and expanding our opportunities in Little League Softball and the Little League Challenger Division. We have launched a Senior League Challenger Division, which will allow all individuals with physical or intellectual challenges, regardless of age, the opportunity to play baseball. We continue to grow our Little League Urban Initiative to provide support to communities in need. As the world of youth sports evolves, all of these programs are so important in providing resources for parents and volunteers, so they can continue to give children in their community the opportunity to have wonderful, meaningful Little League experiences.

Thanks so much to Mr. Stephen Keener for taking the time for answering my questions. I hope you enjoyed this interview and thanks for reading it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Best Russian in Baseball History 1/10/15

Hey baseball fans!

Some countries are known for their baseball players, like countries in the Caribbean and South America, Japan, Taiwan, and the United States. However, you don’t usually see a Russian professional baseball player every day, especially in Nippon Professional Baseball, Japan’s official baseball league. But today, I’m going to talk about exactly that: a Russian pitcher who played in the Japanese Baseball League (the name of NPB prior to 1950), but this was not an ordinary pitcher; the pitcher I am about to tell you about was the first ever 300+ game winner in Japanese professional baseball. His name was Victor Starffin.

Starffin and his family immigrated from the Russian Empire to Japan during the Russian Revolution. Starffin grew up in Japan and graduated from Asahikawa High School. When he was attending Waseda University in Tokyo, he was being scouted by the Tokyo Kyojingun (the current Yomiuri Giants) for his pitching abilities. The Kyojingun eventually drafted Starffin and Victor officially began his Japanese professional baseball career in 1936.

Boy, was his career great. Starffin pitched in Nippon Professional Baseball from 1936-1955 with mainly the Kyojingun. He posted a 303-176 career record, becoming the first pitcher ever to win over 300 games in Japanese baseball history. Those 303 wins now rank sixth all time. Along with a stinging 2.09 lifetime ERA, Starffin won the Best Nine Award in 1940 for his pitching (the Best Nine Award is awarded to the best player at each position) and the Japanese Baseball League MVP twice, in 1939 and 1940. The pitcher nicknamed the “blue-eyed Japanese” still holds the record for single-season wins (42, set in 1939) and career shutouts (83).

Sadly, in 1957, at the age of 40, Starffin died in a car accident, just a couple years after his retirement. However, his legacy lives on. He was voted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1960 and actually became its first member. He also has a stadium named after him, Asahikawa Starffin Stadium, which is located on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. It’s a shame that Victor Starffin had to go so soon, but he is still considered one of the best pitchers in Japanese baseball history. Thanks for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

Monday, January 5, 2015

If I Had A Hall of Fame Ballot 2015 1/5/15

Hey baseball fans!

Hall of Fame voting is tomorrow! I'm so psyched to see who's going to get in, who's going to barely miss the cut, and who surprisingly won't make it. In honor of Hall of Fame voting season, here are the players who I think should get into the Hall in 2015 in their first year of eligibility:

Player One: Randy Johnson
Why? Besides, his 300+ career wins, the Big Unit won five Cy Young Awards (four of them consecutive), went to ten All Star Games, and is second all time in career strikeouts, only behind Nolan Ryan.

Player Two: John Smoltz
Why? Smoltzie has more wins that Don Drysdale and went to eight All Star Games. In addition, besides 213 wins, he has a whopping 154 saves. But for me, in Smoltz's case, you have to look at his postseason numbers: 15 wins compared to just four losses with an ERA of 2.67. His winning percentage and earned run average during October are both much better than the playoff winning percentages and ERAs of his Hall of Fame teammates, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.

Player Three: Pedro Martinez
Why? He only won 219 games, but with a 2.93 career ERA and 3,000+ career strikeouts, he definitely deserves to be in Cooperstown. The three-time recipient of the Cy Young Award and eight-time All Star consistently led the league in WHIP (walks+hits per inning) and was one of the most dominating pitchers of his era.

Just to clear things up, Smoltz, Martinez, and Johnson are not the only players I think deserve to be in the Hall. I also think that Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Curt Schilling, Edgar Martinez, Alan Trammell, Jeff Kent, and Fred McGriff belong in Cooperstown. Anyway, do you agree with my opinions? Leave your thoughts in the comment section. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Two Grand Slams....In the Same Inning...By the Same Hitter?!?! 1/3/15

Hey baseball fans!

On New Years day, Fernando Tatis celebrated his 40th birthday! Tatis played for eleven years in the MLB with several different clubs. He didn't put up Hall of Fame numbers, but if his HoF candidacy solely depended on his April 23rd, 1999 performance, then he is easily a Hall of Famer.

On April 23rd, 1999, the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers met at Dodger Stadium for the first game of a three-game set. The starting pitchers were Jose Jimenez for the Cards and Chan Ho Park (pictured below) for LA. By the way, two and a half years after this game was played, Park gave up Barry Bonds' record-breaking 71st home run of the 2001 season, breaking Mark McGwire's record for the most single-season homers. Anyway, the Cardinals came into the game with a 9-5 record, first in the NL Central, while the Dodgers were sitting at 8-8, good enough for third in the NL West. The game started off well for the Dodgers and Park. After a couple of sacrifice flies, the boys from the City of Angels were ahead 2-0 after two innings of play.

In the top of the third, after two singles and a hit by pitch, Tatis came up to bat with the bases full. He was already 0-1 on the day, having grounded out to second base in the top of the first. But with ducks on the pond in the third, he sent a soaring drive to deep left field that got out of the yard for a grand slam! Darren Bragg, Edgar Renteria, McGwire, and Tatis all scored on the homer, putting the Cardinals up, 4-2. But St. Louis wasn't done yet. In fact, not even close. Still in the third, Eli Marrero slammed a solo shot to make it 5-2. Later, two more runners scored after an error and an RBI single, making the score 7-2. After a fly out, up came Tatis with the bases once again loaded and would you believe it, he hit another grand slam!!!! His second grand slam of the inning scored Jimenez, Bragg, Renteria, and himself for his fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth run batted in of the inning, making the score 11-2. By the way, all of these runs were given up by Park.

The Cardinals ended up winning the game, 12-5, giving them their tenth win on the season, but the main story was Fernando Tatis. He became the first hitter ever to hit two grand slams in a single inning and set a record for the most RBIs in an inning with eight. It is regarded as one of the best single-game performances in baseball history. Tatis finished the 1999 campaign with a personal best 34 homers and 107 runs driven in. Click here if you want to watch the grand slams.

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