Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Big Unit 4/29/15

Hey baseball fans!

The Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2015 features three amazing pitchers: John Smoltz, the fan favorite in Atlanta who shined in the postseason, Pedro Martinez, the all-around star fireballer, and one of the best pitchers of the last 25 years, Randy Johnson.

Randy "The Big Unit" Johnson (his nickname is the Big Unit because of his height: six-foot ten!!!) pitched for mainly the Seattle Mariners and the Arizona Diamondbacks from 1988-2009. In his 22-year career and with the use of his fastball that could get to speeds of 100 miles per hour, the ten-time All Star won 303 games and only lost 166. His amount of career wins ranks 22nd on the all-time wins list, while his winning percentage ranks 28th. But the Big Unit wasn't only about racking up wins; he did other stuff as well. His career earned run average is at a very respectable 3.29, but his strikeout total is absolutely insane: 4,875, second on the all-time strikeouts list only to Nolan Ryan. He even led the league in K's nine times!

Randy pitched well for teams like the Mariners, Expos, and Astros, but his best stuff came when he was pitching home games in the Arizona desert. In the midst of his stay in Phoenix, specifically from 1999-2002, he won four consecutive Cy Young awards, tied for the most consecutive Cy Youngs won ever with Greg Maddux. Earlier in his career, Johnson won another Cy Young award, putting him in second place only behind Roger Clemens for the most Cy Young awards won in baseball history.

Besides being considered the best pitcher in the NL for four straight years, Johnson did a couple of other great things with the D-Backs. He pitched the 17th perfect game in MLB history on May 18, 2004, becoming the oldest pitcher to every throw a perfecto and the fifth pitcher to throw a no-hitter in both the American and National Leagues. Second, Randy was a great postseason pitcher and probably the best playoff stats he ever put up was in the 2001 World Series. He won three games, including the famous Game Seven, and had an ERA of 1.04! How insane is that? To top it all off, he won co-World Series MVP with fellow All Star,  Curt Schilling.

Randy Johnson received 97.3% of the Hall of Fame voter's votes in his first year of eligibility and will be eternally enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame this July. If he wasn't voted in first ballot, it would have been a travesty. Anyway, thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Click here to see a really funny Big Unit All Star Game moment and click here to see him do the virtually impossible to an unsuspecting bird. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Overlooked Game Seven of the 1986 World Series 4/21/15

Hey baseball fans!

So believe it or not, the 1986 World Series didn't end on Bill Buckner's blunder on the Mookie Wilson grounder to first. That walk-off error just tied the '86 Series between the Mets and Red Sox at three games apiece and considering the World Series is a best-of-seven series, one more game was played. Yes, it was a bit anticlimactic compared to the thrilling ending to Game Six, but let me tell you a little bit about Game Seven of the 1986 Fall Classic.

Game Seven featured a great starting pitching matchup: All Star Bruce Hurst for the Sox against All Star Ron Darling for the Mets. Hurst was actually already 2-0 in the Series coming into that seventh game, while Ron was 1-1 and the one game that he lost during the 1986 World Series was against Hurst. Anyway, the game took place on October 27, 1986 in Shea Stadium in New York. A crowd of 55,032 fans watched to see if the Red Sox could finally put the Curse of the Bambino to rest.

The Red Sox opened up the scoring on Darling in the top of the second inning. Dwight Evans and Rich Gedman hit back-to-back homers and later in the inning, Hall of Famer Wade Boggs hit an RBI single, scoring Dave Henderson. Ron Darling went another inning and two-thirds, but then was relieved by Sid Fernandez (pictured below), an All Star in '86 who was a part of a very good Mets starting pitching staff. There was no scoring on either side until the bottom of the sixth, when the Mets finally got on the scoreboard. Keith Hernandez had a 2-RBI single, scoring Lee Mazzilli and Mookie Wilson. Later on in the inning, Hernandez scored on an RBI groundout by Hall of Fame catcher, Gary Carter. So, after six innings, the game was tied at three runs apiece.

New York quickly grabbed the lead in the bottom of the seventh, this time facing Boston pitcher, Calvin Schiraldi. Ray Knight cracked a solo homer to give the Mets the lead, 4-3. Then, Rafael Santana  smacked a Lenny Dykstra-scoring single to right field, which was followed up by a Keith Hernandez sacrifice fly. But the game was not over. In the top of the eighth, Dwight Evans collected his second and third runs batted in on the game on a two-run double off Mets reliever Roger McDowell.

The Mets had a slim lead, 6-5, but they knew they needed insurance runs and insurance runs they got. Long-time Met, Darryl Strawberry, cracked a dramatic solo home run to right, giving the Amazins a two-run the cushion. But the runs didn't stop there for New York. Three batters after Strawberry, Mets closer, Jesse Orosco, singled to center field, scoring Ray Knight! The Mets now had a pretty comfortable lead on Boston and let Orosco finish off the Series, which he did in the top of the ninth. The Mets won the game 8-5 and the Series in seven games. It was their second Fall Classic championship and the Red Sox's fourth World Series loss since 1918.

This game is very overlooked due to the dramatics of Game Six, but it was just as important. It was a must-win game for both clubs, but the Mets came out on top in the end. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Brothers of Baseball Hall of Famers 4/18/15

Hey baseball fans!

Some would say that the ability to make it onto a professional sports team comes from training hard, while others will say it's hereditary. In the case of the ballplayers you'll be reading about in today's post, it's definitely the latter. So, I'm sure that you've heard of Hank Aaron, Christy Mathewson, and Honus Wagner, right? Well, did you know that their brothers also played baseball? Yes, Tommie Aaron, Henry Mathewson, and Albert "Butts"  Wagner all had at least a little MLB experience, but they were nothing compared to their bros.

Tommie Aaron had the most major league experience out of everyone I'm going to talk about in today's post. In his seven years in the MLB, he batted .229 with 13 home runs and 94 RBIs. Just like the Alou Brothers, Tommie and Hank were actually teammates, as they played together in the Braves organization in all of Tommie's seven years of big league ball. Although Hammerin' Hank has better stats basically all across the board compared to his little brother, there's one major statistic where Tappin' Tommie (the alliteration doesn't really work) has the Hall of Famer beat: fielding percentage. Hank's lifetime fielding percentage is .982, while Tommie's is .985.

Henry Mathewson only pitched two seasons in baseball, both years for the New York Giants, but at least he was on the same team as his brother, Hall of Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson. During those two years, 1906 and 1907, Henry started just a single game, but lost it. He appeared in two more contests during his career, but then that was it. Henry, who is six years younger than Christy, finished his very short career with an ERA of 4.91.

Albert "Butts" Wagner may have only played one year in baseball, 1898, but unlike Tommie Aaron and Henry Mathewson, Wagner's younger brother, Honus, was the Hall of Famer in the family. In Butts's 74 games in professional baseball, he batted .226 with a homer and 34 RBIs. To put that into perspective, Honus Wagner's 1898 season was subpar, at least for his standards. The Flying Dutchman batted only .299 with only 176 hits. Momma Wagner must have been a very proud mom. While I couldn't find the origin for Albert's unique nickname, here's an interesting poem that I found entitled, At Least You're Not Butts Wagner, which was written by Theodore Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss).

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

P.S. My next book signing is on April 26th at noon at the Barnes & Noble in Springfield, NJ. Hope some of you can make it.

Monday, April 13, 2015

My First NJ Book Signing 4/13/15

Hey baseball fans!

My book tour keeps on rolling along. Yesterday, I did my first book signing in my home State of New Jersey. It was held at the very cool Words bookstore in Maplewood, NJ.

Lots of family and friends came, as well as some people who I didn't know but just wanted to read my book.

The afternoon started with a Q&A session by Walter Friedman, my publisher, and then some audience questions.

Following the Q&A, I sat down at a table they set up for me to sign books.  Overall, it was a great time.

For those of you who missed it, my next book signing is on April 26th at noon at the Barnes & Noble in Springfield, NJ.

And tune in again soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, April 11, 2015

10 Random Facts About the World Series 4/11/15

Hey baseball fans!

Are you ready for ten random facts about the World Series? Well, you better be, because here they come!

Fact #1: The first pinch-hit home run in World Series history was hit by Yogi Berra. He smacked the gonner in Game Three of the 1947 World Series against Dodgers pitcher, Ralph Branca. Yogi's Yanks lost the game, but eventually won the Series in seven.

Fact #2: The teams with the most World Series championships without ever losing one are the Blue Jays and Marlins. Both teams have won two Fall Classics.

Fact #3: Whitey Ford holds the World Series record for the most consecutive scoreless innings pitched: 33. The previous record-holder was none other than Babe Ruth, who pitched 29 2/3 innings of scoreless World Series baseball.

Fact #4: Deacon Phillippe has a record for the most innings pitched in a single World Series: 44. He set this record in the 1903 Fall Classic while pitching for the Pirates, going 3-2 with an ERA of 3.07.

Fact #5: The Boston Red Sox made it to four World Series during their 86-year long World Series championship drought (1946, 1967, 1975, 1986) and every one of them went to seven games.

Fact #6: Former Yankee managers, Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel, each won a record seven World Series during their managerial careers.

Fact #7: The Braves are the only baseball team to win the World Series while playing their home games in three different cities: Boston in 1914, Milwaukee in 1957, and Atlanta in 1995.

Fact #8: Only two teams have never gone to the Fall Classic: the Seattle Mariners and the Washington Nationals.

Fact #9: Out of the teams that have both won and lost at least one World Series, the Pittsburgh Pirates have the best winning percentage at .714, having won five Series and only losing two.

Fact #10: The World Series has been won by a Wild Card team six times. The Marlins have won both of their World Series (1997, 2003) as the National League Wild Card team.

Thanks for reading these ten World Series facts. I hope you enjoyed them and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Vander Meer Shines on Opening Day 1943 4/8/15

Hey baseball fans!

Just a couple of days ago was Opening Day for the 2015 Major League Baseball season! In honor of this, I want to tell you a little bit about one of the best Opening Day performances of all time. So, I invite you on a magical journey to 1943, where together we will witness the superhuman feats of Reds pitcher and master of the no-hitter, Johnny Vander Meer.

John Samuel Vander Meer had a very respectable pitching career with the Reds, Indians, and Cubs from 1937-1951 (he missed 1944-1945 due to the army). His claim to fame is that he is the only pitcher in history to throw two no-hitters in two consecutive starts, which he accomplished on June 11 and 15, 1938. However, those weren't the only stellar starts he had during his 13-year career. In fact, his Opening Day start in 1943 against the Cardinals is ranked as one of the greatest performances on Opening Day in MLB history.

Vander Meer took the mound for the Cincinnati Reds on April 21, 1943 to face the St. Louis Cardinals and their starting pitcher, Mort Cooper (pictured below), at Crosley Field in Cinci in front of roughly 27,000 excited fans. Although the spectators probably wanted a slugfest, they got the complete opposite of it. Johnny was doing great after eleven straight innings of shutout baseball, but Mort was doing just the same, until he gave up a walk-off single to Reds right fielder Max Marshall that won the game for the Queen City, 1-0. It was a valiant effort on both sides, but it was Vander Meer who got the win, while Cooper was stuck with the loss. Besides not giving up a single earned run, Johnny Vander Meer also kept the Cards off the base paths, only giving up two hits and five walks to go along with his three strikeouts. Not a bad way to start the season!!

Johnny went on to have a pretty good season in 1943, going to the All Star Game and finishing the season with a record of 15-16 and a league-leading 174 strikeouts. 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, April 3, 2015

The Babe 4/3/15

Hey baseball fans!

The Sultan of Swat. The Caliph of Clout. The Behemoth of Bust. The Bambino. The Babe. All of these nicknames are attributed to one man and one man only: George Herman “Babe” Ruth, perhaps the greatest hitter to ever play the game of baseball. But believe it or not, he actually started off as a pitcher. If you want to learn how he transitioned from the mound to the batter’s box, read ahead.

Babe Ruth was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He was a very mischievous kid and was forced by his parents to live and study in St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. There, he learned how to play the game that would eventually make him famous: baseball. So, like I said before, Ruth started out as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox in 1914 and actually wasn’t that bad. In his Sox pitching career, he went 89-46 with an ERA of 2.19 and even set a record (that has since been broken by Whitey Ford) for the most consecutive World Series scoreless innings pitched (29 and two thirds). However, due to a shortage of players on the Sox roster because of World War I, Ruth had to switch to the outfield, where Ruth did pretty well, leading the league in home runs in both seasons he was in Boston’s starting lineup. However, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee was not happy with the Babe’s loud and rambunctious personality and because of this, in 1920, he was shipped to the New York Yankees in exchange for $100,000, which at the time was a lot of money. Even though Frazee and the Red Sox did get a lot of money for their former pitching star, the Yankees got the better end of the deal by far. For 86 years, from 1918 until 2004, the Red Sox won exactly no World Series and the fans blame this on the Ruth deal, aka the “Curse of the Bambino.”

Ruth hit 54, 59, and 35 home runs, respectively, from 1920-1922, for the Yanks. In the two later years, the Yankees even reached the World Series, but lost both of them to the Giants. But everything changed in 1923. The Yankees opened up a new stadium, Yankee Stadium, and Ruth hit the first home run there. Eventually, the Yankees did get their first of 27 World Series wins by beating the Giants in the ’23 Fall Classic in six games. Babe continued to put up monster home runs year-after-year and it all came together for him and his team in 1927. Not only did the ’27 Yankees win 110 games and the World Series that year, but Babe Ruth also hit a then-record 60 home runs!!

The transcendent hitter continued to post excellent statistics all across the board for the next several years, but the most memorable and recognizable moment of his career was the “Called Shot.” In Game Three of the 1932 World Series versus the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, Ruth took two called strikes from pitcher Charlie Root, and then supposedly pointed to center field as if saying "I'm gonna hit the next pitch into those seats," and miraculously, he did. It’s one of the most disputed gestures in baseball, but the "Called Shot" was said to be true by Ruth himself. Two years later, in the first ever All-Star Game in 1934 at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Ruth hit the first ever All-Star game homer!

Babe Ruth changed the game of baseball. He made home runs relevant because he hit so many of them, 714 to be exact, which is now third on the all-time list. He also batted an amazing .342 lifetime, drove in 2,214 career RBIs, and set the record for the highest slugging percentage in baseball history (a record that still stands today) at .690. Obviously, he was one of the first five players elected into the first Hall of Fame class in 1936 (along with Christy MathewsonTy CobbHonus Wagner, and Walter Johnson) and is considered one of the best players in baseball history. There will never be another Babe Ruth because the Bambino was just that great.

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