Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A (Sort of) Interview with Ty Cobb!!! 2/25/15

Hey baseball fans!

Today I have a special interview! It's with the Hall of Famer who has the best lifetime batting average of all time (.366), Ty Cobb! But wait: Ty Cobb has been dead since 1961, so how could I have possibly interviewed him? Good question. Remember my "interviews" with Jackie Robinson and Babe Ruth, where I asked someone who knew a lot about one of the hitters to answer questions as if he was him? Well, I did the same thing with this interview. The person who answered my questions as if he was Cobb is Norm Coleman, an actor who actually plays Ty Cobb on stage for the past eight years in the play "Tyrus Cobb." Norm's answers were awesome and I think they sound exactly like how Cobb himself would answer the questions.

The real Ty Cobb below:

Norm below in Ty Cobb character:

But before I present the interview, click here for a quick bio on the Georgia Peach. The link will actually take you to where you can buy my book, "Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers: An Introduction to Baseball History, " which I highly recommend. If  you flip to chapter three in the book, you will see a whole section on "Cantankerous (meaning argumentative) Cobb." Hope you find the biography interesting. Anyway, let's get to the interview.

Matt: You faced a lot of tough pitchers during your playing days, but who was the toughest to hit against?
Ty: The two most difficult pitchers for me to handle were Babe Ruth when he pitched for Boston and Walter Johnson of the Washington Senators. Both entered the Hall of Fame with me in 1936. The Babe threw only two pitches, fastball, up high and in tight, and a curve, low and away. You knew they were coming and sometimes he’d yell at me, telling me what was coming. He dared you to hit it and if you got a hit, he’d scream at me, "You got lucky Ty." I went 22 for 67 with a batting average of .328 against George. No one threw faster than Walter Johnson. If they had radar guns back then, his fastball would clock near 100 mph. Johnson feared hitting a batter, afraid he might kill him if he hit the batter in the head. So I would step in closer to the plate, making Walter throw a little outside, making it a little easier for me to hit the ball to left and get 120 hits in 328 at-bats for an average of .366. Every hitter has one guy he can’t hit. For me, there was a little fellow named Bill Bayne (pictured below), pitched for the St. Louis Browns between 1919 and 1924. I faced him 36 times and got only 5 hits, which was a batting average of .139. I never could figure him out.

Matt: How do you think you would fare against the pitchers of today if you played in 2015?
Ty: Probably hit about .125 because I am 129 years old now. But seriously, playing today, in my prime, about .365. There are some great pitchers throwing today, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, Madison Bumgarner to name a few, but I would have no problem hitting if I played today.

Matt: Which way of hitting is the one that will win teams championships for many years to come, small ball or power?
Ty: The game today is power, fans like to see home runs. But, give me a team with 3 top starters, a strong bullpen, strong fielding up the middle, a strong bench, team unity and a smart manger who can handle all the millionaires playing and that team will win championships. For example, the San Francisco Giants. No one hitting 40 home runs on that team, but they play smart small ball at its best.

Matt: Not including you, who do you think is the best Tiger of all time?
Ty: That’s a tough question because there were so many great Tiger hitters. To name a few of my all-time favorites, I would start with two men who played with me, Sam Crawford (pictured below) and Harry Heilmann, who hit over .390 four times and .400 once. Moving up to the modern era, the slugging Hank Greenberg, who hit 58 homers in 1938, almost beating Ruth’s record. I'm also a big fan of Al Kaline and, from today, of course Miguel Cabrera.

Matt: Do players of today deserve such huge contracts? Why not?
Ty: That’s the American way. Capitalism at its best. Not many people complain when CEO’s make millions, or top Hollywood actors make $20 million a movie, or top rock bands charge $400 a ticket or top entertainers in Las Vegas make big money. Thanks to television contracts, owners and players are reaping the benefits. And free agency. It is the average fan who suffers, unable to pay the high ticket prices. Besides, no one is holding a gun to the owners' heads when they sign a player to a 7 or 8 year contract for multi-millions. That is a mistake in my opinion. Think A-Rod or Barry Zito with the Giants.

Matt: If you were MLB's commissioner, what rules would you add or change to the MLB?
Ty: Outlaw the DH. Cut back on Inter-League play. Outlaw the All Star Game winner deciding which League gets home field advantage in the World Series. A truly dumb rule. And like gambling, if you are caught using steroids, you are banned for life. Go back to alternating in the World Series. That worked well for over 60 years.

Matt: Do you prefer regular Coke or Diet Coke? [Note from Matt: Ty Cobb was an early investor in both Coca Cola and General Motors]
Ty: Regular Coke. I never acquired a taste for the diet stuff.

Thank you to Norm Coleman for emulating Ty Cobb so well in your answers. Click here if you would like to learn more about what Coleman has done, does, and will be doing in the coming future. Anyway, thanks for reading this interview and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Why Alan Trammell Belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame 2/22/15

Hey baseball fans!

Yesterday was my birthday, so you know what that means: an Alan Trammell post! For those of you who don't know it, Trammell and I share a birthday (February 21st) and he's the only person in baseball who I share a birthday with that should be in the Hall of Fame. So, for this Trammell Birthday post, I'm going to give three reasons why the Detroit Tigers shortstop from 1977-1996 should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Reason Number One: More All Star Games than fellow AL shortstop, Robin Yount:
Look, I don't want to be mean, but Robin Yount was only an All Star for three seasons: 1980 and 1982-1983. Trammell, who played in 20 seasons in the MLB, just like Yount, went to six All Star Games: 1980, 1984-1985, 1987-1988, and 1990. Also, in the two of the three years that Yount was voted into the ASG, Trammell had a better batting average than him (in 1980, Trammell batted .300, while Yount batted .293 and in 1983, Trammell batted .319 and Yount batted .308). Yes, Robin has over 3,000 hits and Trammell doesn't, but both of their lifetime batting averages are .285. Considering Yount is a Hall of Famer (and a deserving one), Trammell should be one also.

Reason Number Two: 1984 World Series MVP recipient:
I know what you're thinking: what does winning the '84 WS MVP have to do with anything? Well, let me put it this way: the 1984 Tigers were absolutely stacked. In their regular hitting lineup were All Stars Lance Parrish, Lou Whitaker and Trammell, along with star hitters Kirk Gibson, Chet Lemon, and Darrell Evans. However, despite all of these great names on offense, it was only Trammell who was recognized as the best hitter on the Tigers during the 1984 Fall Classic against the Padres; he batted .450 with a pair of home runs and six RBIs. Alan was probably the biggest reason why Detroit won its fourth World Series in franchise history -- because on the biggest of stages, he performed at the highest caliber, making him a "clutch" hitter. If you can come through in the clutch in a tough situation, just like Trammell did in 1984 for the Tigers, that's yet another reason why you deserve a plaque in Cooperstown.

Reason Number Three: WAR and JAWS:
To summarize what each of these sabermetric stats are, WAR (or wins above replacement) is the amount of wins a team would not have won if a specific player was replaced in the lineup/rotation, and JAWS (or Jaffe WAR Score system) measures a player's Hall of Fame worthiness by averaging a player's career WAR with his seven year peak WAR. Trammell's WAR is 70.4, meaning that if he was replaced in the lineup by another player, his Tigers teams would have won 70.4 less games. Now, you would think that a guy who played for 20 years would have a higher WAR, but out of all of the shortstops in MLB history, Trammell's WAR is actually better than Derek Jeter's and 14 Hall of Fame shortstops', including Barry Larkin, Joe Cronin, and Joe Sewell. In addition, his JAWS number is 57.5. The average of 21 Hall of Fame shortstops is a WAR of 66.7 and a JAWS of 54.7, so Trammell is higher than these HOF averages!! So, considering that JAWS and WAR are correlated statistics, Trammell is very worthy of being in the Hall of Fame.

What do you think? Have I convinced you that Alan Trammell belongs in the HOF? Leave your comments below. Thanks for reading and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Phone Interview with the Last 30-Win Pitcher, Denny McLain!!! 2/18/15

Hey baseball fans!

Who's ready for another interview?! I hope you are, because the newest one-on-one on Baseball with Matt is with Denny McLain, the last 30-game winner to ever play in the MLB! But before I give you the link to the telephone interview, here's a quick biography on the All Star.

McLain got his career started in baseball when he was signed by the Chicago White Sox as an amateur free agent in 1962, but eventually was signed off waivers by the Detroit Tigers in 1963. After jumping up and down in the minors for a couple of years, McLain made it to the majors for good in 1965, when he finished with a very respectable record of 16-6 with an ERA of 2.61. After an All Star, 20-win 1966 season and a 17-win '67 campaign, McLain had one of the best seasons in the World Series Era in 1968.

First of all, his ERA for that year in a league-leading 336 innings pitched was 1.96, which is a good stat on its own. But there's more; Denny also finished the season with 280 strikeouts and a record of 31-6! 31 wins and just six losses in 41 chances! How insane is that?! He was the last pitcher to win 30+ games in a season since Dizzy Dean won 30 in 1934 and remains that last 30-game winner in baseball history. Naturally, he won the AL Cy Young Award and MVP and his Tigers beat the Cardinals in the World Series in seven games. In 1969, he had another great year, winning a league-leading 24 games and the Cy Young Award again. (He actually shared the award with Orioles pitcher, Mike Cuellar.) After pitching for a few more years, McLain retired in 1972, finishing with career marks of 131 wins, just 91 losses, and an ERA of 3.39.

Now that you know a little bit about him, click here to listen to the exclusive Baseball with Matt telephone interview with Denny McLain. I hope you enjoy the interview and thanks for listening to it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Buehrle Perfecto 2/13/15

Hey baseball fans!

So in my last post, I talked about a catch made by Dewayne Wise that saved Mark Buehrle's perfect game. The reason that I bring this up is that, in this post I want to talk about said perfecto and tell you what happened.

Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox pitched in a game against the Tampa Bay Rays that would eventually become the MLB's 18th perfect game in its history. The date was July 23, 2009 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. The ChiSox came into the game holding the first place spot in the AL Central, while the Rays came in at six-and-a-half games back of the first place New York Yankees in the AL East. Opposing Buehrle was All Star Scott Kazmir, who went six strong innings, giving up five hits and five earned runs.

Mark, on the other hand, was masterful, mowing down the Tampa Bay lineup with ease. He finished the game with six strikeouts and, of course, no runs or men on base allowed. The ending score was 5-0, Chicago. Four of those five runs came on a grand slam by Josh Fields in the bottom of the second inning. That Fields homer was the first grand salami in perfect game history. Here's another fun fact about this game: the catcher for the game, Ramón Castro, had never caught for Buehle before. Speaking of behind the plate, the home plate umpire, Eric Cooper, for the game was the same ump behind the plate for Buehrle's previous no-hitter. That no-hitter took place on April 18, 2007 against the Texas Rangers.

Although Mark doesn't have Hall of Fame statistics, his performance for the Sox on July 23, 2009 will never be forgotten. Anyway, thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Monday, February 9, 2015

Giving Nicknames to Unnamed MLB Moments Part 2 2/9/15

Hey baseball fans!

Today I'm going to continue the topic that I blogged about a couple days ago: giving names to MLB moments that don't have nicknames.

Event #1: Roy Halladay's no-hitter in Game One of the 2010 NLDS against the Reds
My Nickname: Doctober First
Why? In the first postseason start of his career, Roy "Doc" Halladay gave up no hits against the Cincinnati Reds. This no-hitter was the first postseason no-no since Don Larsen's "Perfect Perfect Game." Also, the game was played during October and Doctober sounds really cool.

Event #2: Joe Carter's walk-off, World Series-winning home run in Game Six of the 1993 World Series versus the Phillies
My Nickname: The Canadian Conquerer
Why? This home run hit by Carter in '93 against the Phillies was hit while he was a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, the only Canadian team in the MLB right now. This homer was also the second ever walk-off, World Series-winning home run so, in a way, the bomb "conquered" the opposition. (Yes, the word "conquer" can be used in this way. Look in the dictionary.)

Event #3: Dewayne Wise's perfect game-saving catch for Mark Buehrle and the White Sox on July 23rd, 2009
My Nickname: The Intelligent Play
Why? Gabe Kapler came up in the top of the ninth inning for the Tampa Bay Rays to face Mark Buehrle of the White Sox, who was three outs away from a perfect game. During the at-bat, Kapler hit a long fly ball to deep left center field that looked like it was going to get out of the yard. As soon as the ball was about to reach the seats, Wise jumped up, caught the ball, bobbled it, and eventually secured it to preserve the perfecto. What an intelligent play by Wise? Get it? Because "wise" and "intelligent" are synonyms?

Do you agree with my nicknames? If you have other names for these events, leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Anyway, thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Giving Nicknames to Unnamed MLB Moments 2/4/15

Hey baseball fans!

There are a lot of famous moments in baseball history that have cool nicknames: Babe Ruth's "Called Shot," Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World," and Willie Mays's "The Catch." But there are a few moments that don't have nicknames to which I would like to give nicknames.

Event #1: Kirk Gibson's walk-off homer to end Game One of the 1988 World Series
My Nickname: The Hobble Homer
Why? Gibby hit his famous bomb against Dennis Eckersley and the Athletics while suffering through some pretty horrible injuries; he had a stomach virus that day and both his legs were badly aching due to injuries suffered during the '88 NLCS. Also, on Gibson's Wikipedia page, it actually says that Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda "unexpectedly inserted his hobbled league MVP." Not his hurting league MVP, but his hobbled league MVP.

Event #2: Jack Morris and John Smoltz go head-to-head in Game Seven of the 1991 World Series
My Nickname: The 0-0 Game
Why? Jack Morris and John Smoltz were throwing their best stuff for the Twins and Braves, respectively, and the game was 0-0 after nine innings. It is considered by many the best World Series pitching matchup of all time because of how great both pitchers were that night.

Event #3: Don Larsen's perfect game in Game Five of the 1956 World Series
My Nickname: The Perfect Perfect Game
Why? Over 20 pitchers have thrown perfect games in MLB history, but no one other than Larsen for the New York Yankees has done it in the World Series. Because of this, his perfect game was more perfect than anyone else's, so I had to add an extra "perfect" to the new nickname.

What do you think of my new nicknames for some of baseball's greatest moments? Let me know in the comment section below. Anyway, thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, February 1, 2015

When Life Gives You A Lemon, You Win A Lot of Games 2/1/15

Hey baseball fans!

The baseball season is still a few months away, which puts me in a very sour mood. Speaking of sour, do you know who Bob Lemon is? If not, just read on and find out.

Robert Granville Lemon pitched in the MLB from 1946-1958 with the Cleveland Indians. He would have played three more years, but he served in the United States Military from 1943-1945. Lemon had an awesome pitching career. In just 13 seasons, he won 207 games and only lost 128, leading the league in wins three times and posting 20+ wins in seven seasons. The seven-time All Star also led the American League in complete games five times, innings pitched four times, and strikeouts once.

The Cleveland Indians haven't won a World Series since 1948 and one of the reasons they won the '48 Fall Classic was Lemon. In 1948, Bob Lemon not only won 20 games and had an ERA of 2.82, but he also pitched a no-hitter. On June 30, he allowed no hits, three walks, and struck out four Detroit Tigers in a Cleveland 2-0 win. The no-no was Lemon's eleventh win and fifth shutout of the season (remember: this happened in June). Then in the World Series, he really came to play, recording two of his team's four wins with a 1.65 earned run average.

Did you know that Bob Lemon was teammates with Hall of Fame pitchers Bob Feller, Early Wynn, and Satchel Paige? Just like his great pitching teammates, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He received 78.6% of the vote in his twelfth year on the ballot in 1976. Two years later, he managed the New York Yankees to a World Series title! After Lemon retired from his playing days, he became a manager in the MLB and won over 50% of the games that he managed! How amazing!

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