Sunday, December 29, 2019

Some of the Best Individual Seasons of the 2010s 12/29/19

Hey baseball fans!

The 2010s are officially coming to a close, so let's examine some of the best seasons of the decade by individual players! Note: these seasons might not be the ultimate best, but they're ones I'd like to shout out.

Joey Votto, 2010
Votto's NL MVP 2010 season put him on the map for what would end up being the entire decade. He made his first of six career All Star Games and set career highs in home runs (37) and RBIs (113). He also made his impressive on-base percentage numbers known, leading the NL in 2010 with a .424 OBP, his first of four consecutive seasons leading the league in the category.

Justin Verlander, 2011
Your 2011 AL Cy Young Award and MVP winner sure did have a season to remember in '11, winning the pitching Triple Crown and leading the Tigers all the way to the ALCS. His 24 wins and 2.40 ERA that season are both career highs.

Miguel Cabrera, 2012 and 2013
Arguably the best player in baseball for the first half of the decade, Cabrera became the first hitting Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 and again won the batting title in 2013. He was a back-to-back MVP, averaging 44 homers, 138 RBIs, and a .338 batting average over that two-year stretch. The 2012 World Series alluded him, but that doesn't detract from his Hall of Fame candidacy in the slightest.

Clayton Kershaw, 2014
The second same-season Cy Young and MVP of the decade was Clayton Kershaw in '14 and, boy, was he unstoppable. 21-3 record. A 1.77 ERA. 239 strikeouts. If only he performed better in the postseason.

Bryce Harper, 2015
Call him overrated, but his 2015 MVP campaign made him the $300+ million dollar man he is today. He batted .330, with 99 RBIs and a league-leading 42 homers, .460 OBP, and .649 slugging percentage. Bam Bam fell back to Earth in later seasons, but 2015 has been his crowing achievement.

Max Scherzer, 2016
The 2016 Cy Young Award recipient continued his Hall of Fame campaign with 20 wins and a 2.96 ERA. What's amazing about this year for Scherzer is that it definitely wasn't his best, but he won the Cy Young anyway. It just goes to show you how good Mad Max really is.

Jose Altuve, 2017
Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton deserve acknowledgements as well, but the best second basemen of at least the second half of the 2010s deserves just as much praise. Altuve only had 204 hits this year, but that number and his .346 batting average both led the AL. The Astros' first World Series championship cements this season as one of the best in Houston's history.

Christian Yelich, 2018
Remember when we thought Yelich was just fine on Miami? Well, he elevated his game to astronomical levels in Milwaukee. In his first season with the Brew Crew, Yelich led the league with a .326 batting average, while also collecting 36 homers and 110 RBIs. He became one of the best hitters in the league after showing little power for the first few years of his career with the Marlins.

Mike Trout, 2019
You thought I'd leave Trout off this list, didn't you? The 2019 MVP set a career high in home runs (45), while also leading the league in OPS (1.083). He was a shoe-in for MVP from the beginning of the season, only because he's always a shoe-in. Let it be known that Mike Trout was the best player of the 2010s. The funny part about that statement is that he didn't play in the entire decade. Who knows what he'll do in the 2020s?

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

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Spanish Voice of the Dodgers 12/18/19

Hey baseball fans!

Vin Scully is arguably the most recognizable voice in baseball history. His sweet tone entertained Dodgers fans for well over half a century, producing some memorable sound bytes in the process. But a different voice that's almost as long-lived as Scully's continues to fill the Los Angeles air today, except this voice fills the air not with English, but with Spanish.

This post is devoted to Jaime Jarrin, the Spanish play-by-play broadcaster of the Dodgers since 1959. He was the Ford C. Frick Award winner in 1998, an award given to the broadcaster who has made major contributions to baseball. Since Scully retired in 2016, Jarrin is the longest-serving MLB broadcaster, but Jarrin wasn't always a baseball fan. Most broadcasters grew up listening to ballgames and honing their craft from a young age, but Jarrin came to the US from Ecuador in 1955 without ever watching a single game of baseball. When the Dodgers moved to LA in 1958, he was working at KWKW, the radio station that coincidentally acquired the rights to broadcast the Dodgers in Spanish. The stars aligned and Jarrin became "la voz" of the Dodgers.

Jarrin's contract is up after the 2020 season, so we might be seeing the end of one of the greatest careers in baseball broadcasting. But either way, I love what Jarrin does for the Spanish-speaking community of Los Angeles, allowing them to enjoy baseball as much as any English-speaker. I just wish more people knew of Jarrin before because I only found out about him this year on a random googling spree of broadcasters. But it just goes to show you how the unsung pioneers of baseball are just as revolutionary as the more famous ones. Thank you, Jaime Jarrin, for everything you're doing for Spanish-speaking baseball fans and for baseball fans alike.

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

Monday, December 9, 2019

My Thoughts on the 2020 MLB Hall of Fame Class (Part 1) 12/9/19

Hey baseball fans!

The Modern Era Veterans Committee has officially elected Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller into the Hall of Fame! Let's talk about the vote, what I think went right, and what I think went wrong.

They got Simmons and Miller right
I predicted Ted Simmons getting into the Hall and he deserves every bit of his induction in July. The eight-time All Star catcher from the 1970s and 1980s didn't seem to be hindered by the possible Thurman Munson comparisons, as the Cardinals and Brewers great ended up with 13 of the 16 possible votes.

I didn't talk about Miller in my Hall of Fame predictions post because he wasn't a player, but that doesn't mean he couldn't relate to the players. Marvin Miller was the first ever Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, turning it into one of the strongest unions in the United States. His influence on player culture was felt heavily as player contracts exploded throughout the 1970s due to free agency. There's a reason why the biggest stars in baseball today are paid so much and that reason is Miller. He received the minimum amount of votes (12 out of 16) required for induction, but that doesn't mean he wasn't as revolutionary to baseball as any other MLB pioneer.

No one else came close
Dwight Evans and Dave Parker were third and fourth, respectively, in terms of most votes on the Modern Era ballot. I thought that Parker had at least a shot, but didn't think Evans had the stats. I'm surprised that these guys were considered by barely half of the voters because they really were both great players. Dale Murphy, however, rightfully deserved little to no Hall of Fame consideration.

Steve Garvey deserved more than six votes
I was SO CONFIDENT in Steve Garvey getting into the Hall of Fame, but he ended up with only six votes in his favor, the same amount as Lou Whitaker! No offense to Sweet Lou, but Steve Garvey deserved at least twice the amount of votes that he got. He's a Southern California baseball treasure, having collected numerous accolades and accomplishments with both the Dodgers and Padres.

The Yankees got no love
Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly, and Tommy John all had interesting shots at making the Hall this year, but all three got absolutely destroyed by the voters. I had my faith in John, but was really quite surprised to hear that he didn't get a lot of love from the Committee.

Who do you think should've gotten into the Hall via the Modern Era Committee this year? Leave your thoughts in the comments 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."

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Roberto Alomar's Two Big Contracts: Were They Worth It? 11/30/19

Hey baseball fans!

With the Winter Meetings fast approaching, let's again dive into some of baseball's most famous free agency moves to see their outcomes. Reggie Jackson was the topic of my last post, but now we're going to another Hall of Famer, this time a slick infielder: Roberto Alomar!

Roberto Alomar is one of the greatest second basemen in baseball history. In 17 big league seasons, he amassed over 2,700 hits and batted .300 on the dot. He began his career with the Padres in 1988, made his first All Star Game in 1990, then got traded with Joe Carter to the Blue Jays prior to the 1991 season. I could do an entire post about that trade alone, but it would be too simple to say that the Blue Jays killed the Friars in the deal. Toronto won both the 1992 and 1993 World Series, thanks largely in part to Carter's playoff heroics (particularly in Game Six of '93) and Alomar's skillful play in the regular season. In his career with the Blue Jays from 1991-1995, Alomar made five All Star Games, won five Gold Gloves, and averaged 166 hits a season.

This post will be a double-feature because Alomar signed two big free agency deals during his career. The first came in December of 1995, when he signed a three-year contract with the Orioles. The O's hadn't won a World Series or been to the playoffs since 1983 and were looking to make a push for the AL pennant in '96. Alomar had a great three years in Charm City, winning two more Gold Gloves, making three more All Star Games, and averaging 165 hits a season. He was more injury-prone during his time with the Orioles, but they still managed playoff berths in 1996 and 1997. Nonetheless, the Orioles couldn't make it to the World Series in either year and still own the longest active World Series appearance drought among AL teams that have made the World Series (sorry, Mariners).

Alomar was again granted free agency after the 1998 season and signed with the Indians. He ended up getting traded from Cleveland in 2001, so this stint was also three years. The Indians needed a boost after losing the World Series in both 1995 and 1997, keeping their World Series championship drought alive (which is still active, lasting since 1948). So they needed someone to put them over the AL giants like the Yankees, who were in the midst of a dynasty. Alomar put together arguably the best three years of his career while in Cleveland. In '99 and '01, he placed within the top five in MVP voting and set career highs in home runs, RBIs, and runs scored. However, the Indians didn't win anything with Alomar, so Roberto's only career World Series rings come from north of the US border.

It's quite tough to say, but I don't think Alomar's contracts were worth it in both Baltimore or Cleveland. Don't get me wrong: Roberto Alomar is one of the few faces of baseball in the 1990s, but the Orioles and Indians didn't win, despite Alomar's help. But what if he signed with the Braves, Mets, or back with the Padres after his time in Toronto? Would he have led those teams to championships? Leave your thoughts in the comments 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."

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Jackson to the Yankees: Was It Worth It? 11/19/19

Hey baseball fans!

We are officially in the baseball offseason! In honor of this, the next couple of posts are going to be about some of the biggest free agent signings in MLB history and if they were worth it or not. In this first post, let's focus our attention on Mr. October himself, Reggie Jackson!

Jackson was one of the best sluggers in baseball in the late 1960s and early 1970s, mostly with the Oakland A's. In his time with the A's (and Orioles in 1976), excluding 1967, he averaged 31 homers and 91 RBIs a season. He was a member of Oakland's back-to-back-to-back championship rosters from 1972-1974 and was a particular help in '73, when he took home regular season and World Series MVP honors. But after his 1976 season, Jackson was granted free agency. Looking to make an impact and boost his already-big ego, he made lots of noise by signing with the New York Yankees in one of the first big free agency signings in MLB up to that point. The Yankees had been pretty putrid for most of the decade and thought that Jackson would bring them back to the Fall Classic. Spoiler alert: he sure did.

Jackson's time in New York from 1977-1981 was on par with what he did on the West Coast, for sure. As a Yankee, he averaged 29 homers and 92 RBIs a year, along with a .281 batting average. He came in second in the MVP voting in 1980, hitting .300 with 41 homers and 111 RBIs, all highs for his time in the Bronx. The Yankees, themselves, also benefited from Jackson's five-year stint. They won the AL East every year, except 1979, and even made the World Series in 1977, 1978, and 1981. Although they lost the World Series in '81, 1977 and 1978 were the Yanks' 21st and 22nd franchise championships, milestones that only the Yankees and Montreal Canadiens have tasted in American professional sports. Jackson made his presence known in the '77 Series against the Dodgers, hitting three homers on three consecutive swings in the clinching Game Six, giving him MVP honors for the Series, making him the first player in baseball to win the World Series MVP on two different teams.

Although Jackson is the all-time leader in strikeouts by a hitter, he still showed an insane amount of power during his 21-year career. He was so great, in fact, that he is in the Hall of Fame. And guess what logo is on his plaque in Cooperstown? That's right, the Yankees' "NY." So, yeah, I think this signing was worth it for the Yanks, even if former manager Billy Martin might say otherwise. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Who's In, Who's Out: The 2020 Modern Baseball Era Hall of Fame Ballot 11/7/19

Hey baseball fans!

The MLB just released its 2020 Modern Baseball Era Hall of Fame ballot, which consists of players who played their careers from 1970-1987. Naturally, I have to give my predictions and opinions on who's getting into the Hall on the ballot, so that's what this post is about!

Most Likely to Get In: Steve Garvey
Why? The ten-time All Star is the National League's Lou Gehrig, playing in an NL-record 1,207 consecutive games. A legend in the Dodgers and Padres organizations, Garvey helped his teams to five pennants, establishing himself as one of the best contact-hitting first basemen in baseball history. Out of everyone on the Modern Era ballot, he's got the best shot at induction.

The Yankees Who Have a Shot: Don Mattingly, Tommy John, and Thurman Munson
Why? Three Yankee legends are on the fence regarding the Hall. Mattingly had a great seven years, so his JAWS is fantastic, but wasn't himself for the latter half of his career due to back problems. Munson was one of the best catchers of the 1970s, but a fatal plane crash in 1979 cut his career short. John, in my opinion, has the best shot of getting in out of these three. His 288 wins rank 26th on the all-time list and is 3.34 career ERA is totally HoF-worthy, especially considering he pitched for 26 years.

Others Who Deserve a Look: Dave Parker and Ted Simmons
Why? Parker had an extraordinary swing that terrorized pitchers for years and is one of the tougher decisions on the Modern Era ballot this year because of his versatility. He batted .290 lifetime with 339 career homers and 1,493 career RBIs. Simmons is an interesting case, too. He was essentially Thurman Munson's NL counterpart, batting .285 lifetime and collecting 2,472 career hits, both excellent stats for a catcher.

The Others: Lou Whitaker, Dwight Evans, and Dale Murphy
Why? Sorry, Braves fans, but I'm not a big Dale Murphy fan. He had a great start to his career, but completely fizzled out by the time he retired. Whitaker put up good stats in Detroit alongside my Hall of Fame birthday buddy, Alan Trammell, but the class is too stacked with guys who deserve induction much more. Lastly, Evans has the Gold Gloves, but unless you're Ozzie Smith, you don't get inducted into the Hall of Fame on just your fielding skills.

So, my prediction for who gets in is as follows: Garvey, John, and Simmons. Do you agree or disagree? Leave your thoughts in the comments 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."

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Baseball with Matt's 2019 MLB Awards Predictions 10/31/19

Hey baseball fans!

Congratulations to the Washington Nationals on their first World Series in franchise history! Now that the season's over, it's time to talk about awards. As per usual, in this post, I'll be giving you my predictions for the winners of the four major MLB offseason awards in each league: Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP. So, without further delay, let's get to the predictions!

AL Manager of the Year: Rocco Baldelli, Twins
Why? Manager of the Year is always the hardest award to predict, so I'm giving it my best shot here. In his first season as manager of the Twins, he led them to 101 wins and the AL Central title. Not bad, considering the Indians had that division in the bag before the 2019 season started. The Twins really came out of nowhere.

NL Manager of the Year: Dave Martinez, Nationals
Why? I know voting takes place before the playoffs, but having twice as many wins as losses for two-thirds of the season is extremely impressive. Martinez should be very proud of his 93-win Nats, especially after last night's Game Seven.

AL Rookie of the Year: Yordan Alvarez, Astros
Why? 27 homers in 87 games as a rookie is very impressive, but he batted .313 and had an OPS of 1.067. That's insane, even for Mike Trout (more on him later). John Means and Brandon Lowe were contenders for this award at the beginning of 2019, but Alvarez tore it up as soon as he got called up.

NL Rookie of the Year: Pete Alonso, Mets
Why? He set the rookie home run record at 53. I wouldn't be surprised if he wins this award unanimously. Sure, Mike Soroka is a future star, but 53 home runs isn't done every season, even by the most experienced of sluggers.

AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander, Astros
Why? It's very close between Verlander and his teammate, Gerrit Cole, but I'll give the edge to Verlander on the basis of two categories that he led the AL in this year, WHIP (.80) and Batting Average Against (.172), both otherworldly numbers, especially considering JV's home run problems this year.

NL Cy Young: Jacob deGrom, Mets
Why? Poor run support will limit deGrom's votes, but his league-leading strikeouts and being second in ERA and WHIP will help him beat out Jack Flaherty, Max Scherzer, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and many others. DeGrom is just towards the top of the most categories out of all the contenders.

AL MVP: Mike Trout, Angels
Why? It's the safest option, but a good one, nonetheless. Trout led the league in OPS (again) and set a new career high in home runs. Had it not been for a late-season injury, Trout would've won the MVP handedly. Now, it's a little closer with Alex Bregman.

NL MVP: Christian Yelich, Brewers
Why? Your 2019 NL leader in OPS and batting average was also up there for home runs and stolen bases. Cody Bellinger and Anthony Rendon have strong cases, too, but I think this is going to Yelich.

What do you think of my predictions? Leave your thoughts in the comments 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." And lastly, happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

A Comparative Look at the 2019 and 2015 MLB Playoffs 10/22/19

Hey baseball fans!

The 2019 World Series is officially set, but the ways the Astros and Nationals got there reminds me of another MLB postseason that happened just a few years ago. Are you unfamiliar with what I'm talking about? Well, allow me to explain!

An upstart National League East team somehow made the playoffs after a second-half surge. Once in the playoffs, this team beat the Dodgers in five games in the NLDS, then swept the NL Central champions in the NLCS to reach their first World Series in a while (or ever). Meanwhile, the number one seed in the AL needed five games to beat the Wild Card team in the ALDS, then won a tough, six-game series against the AL East champions en route to their second World Series in a short period.

The above paragraph could describe two World Series matchups: the Astros and Nationals of the 2019 World Series or the Royals and Mets in the 2015 World Series. In case you need a refresher on the '15 matchup, here you go!

The Mets surged to the top of the NL East by season's end, thanks in part to their midseason trade for Yoenis Cespedes. They beat the Dodgers in the Division Series and the Cubs in a sweep in the Championship Series to reach their first World Series in 15 years. The number one seeded Royals needed five games to beat the Wild Card Round-winning Astros in the 2015 ALDS and six games to beat the AL East-winning Blue Jays in the ALCS, but eventually made it to their second consecutive World Series.

What's funny about these two matchups is that they're the only two World Series to feature only expansion teams. But do you think the 2019 World Series will end in similar fashion to the 2015 one, a five-game victory for the AL pennant winners? Let me know your opinions on the subject in the comments down below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

My 2019 Analyses for the Potential World Series Matchups 10/15/19

Hey baseball fans!

We are down to our final four teams for the 2019 MLB season! However, instead of giving my predictions for the remainder of the playoffs, I thought it would be more appropriate for this blog to go over the potential World Series matchups and talk about why they matter historically.

Astros vs. Nationals
This World Series matchup would mark just the second occurrence in baseball history of an all-expansion team World Series. The Astros joined the MLB in 1962, then known as the Houston Colt .45s, and the Nats joined in 1969, then known as the Montreal Expos. The first all-expansion World Series took place in 2015, featuring the Royals (est. 1969) and the Mets (est. 1962). This would also be the first AL West vs. NL East World Series since the establishment of the Wild Card in 1994.

Yankees vs. Cardinals
At five times, this matchup is the third-most frequent World Series matchup of all time, sitting only behind Yankees vs. Giants (seven times) and Yankees vs. Dodgers (eleven times). However, with 38 combined championships, this is the most decorated matchup a World Series could possibly see.

Yankees vs. Nationals
If the Yankees face the Nationals in this year's World Series, they will have faced all but two NL teams in the World Series (the Brewers and Rockies). This would also be the first New York vs. DC baseball championship matchup since 1933, when the New York Giants beat the Washington Senators (present-day Minnesota Twins).

Astros vs. Cardinals
The only other major American sports championship to feature a former division rivalry was Super Bowl XLVIII, which saw the Seahawks (formerly in the AFC West) beat the Broncos (currently in the AFC West). The Astros and Cardinals duked it out almost 20 times a year from 1994-2012 in the NL Central, but their rivalry faded when the Astros moved to the AL West in 2013. This matchup would reignite that rivalry in a big way.

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

Monday, October 7, 2019

The Flip: Jeter's Magical Play Versus the A's 10/7/19

Hey baseball fans!

The MLB postseason has officially kicked off! I'm going to save my playoff predictions once we get to the Championship Series, but let's talk about one of the best Division Series moments of all time: Derek Jeter's flip in 2001 against the A's.

In the season following a half-decade of Yankees dominance that included four championships in five years, the Bronx Bombers continued to thrive, winning the 2001 AL East title with 95 wins, but were not favored to win it all. That distinction belonged to the Mariners, who broke the Yankees' three-year AL single-season wins record with 116 W's in '01. The Athletics made it in as a Wild Card with 102 wins, while the Indians snuck into the playoffs with 91 wins and first place in the AL Central. Because the Mariners and A's were in the same division, the Yanks had the honor of facing Billy Beane's squad in the ALDS, while the Tribe and Seattle squared off in the other series.

It looked like the A's would end the Yankees' reign of superiority, as they quickly went up two-games-to-none in the best-of-five series and were only losing 1-0 entering the bottom of the seventh inning in Game Three in Oakland. Yankees ace and Hall of Famer Mike Mussina was in the midst of a gem, when Terrance Long came up to bat with two outs and Jeremy Giambi (yes, Jason's brother) on first base. Long smashed a grounder down the first base line that went all the way to the right field corner. Yankee outfielder Shane Spencer fielded the ball cleanly, but overthrew his cut-off men. Meanwhile, Giambi, as slow as he was, rumbled around the bases. It looked like he was going to score, which would've tied the game, until Derek Jeter came out of nowhere, streaking across the infield, fielding the ball on a hop, and flipping the ball effortlessly to catcher Jorge Posada. Giambi didn't bother to slide, making Posada's tag that much easier. The Yankee lead was preserved and the score would stay at 1-0 for the remainder of the game.

Had Jeter not made his spectacular play, the A's could've won Game Three and effectively the series. Instead, all of the momentum shifted to the Yankees, who came back from the 2-0 deficit and eventually made it all the way to the World Series. They would end up losing the seven-game Fall Classic to Arizona, but Jeter's flip has still remains as one of the most legendary fielding plays of the 21st century, thus far. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, September 28, 2019

My 2019 MLB Historical Postseason Preview 9/28/19

Hey baseball fans!

The final series of the regular season is here and we have our official ten teams for the 2019 MLB playoffs, which means it's only appropriate for me to give some historical perspective on what the 2019 MLB postseason could mean for baseball's present and future, but especially its past.

Yankees vs. Twins: Part 6
For the sixth time in the 21st century, the New York Yankees will face the Minnesota Twins in the MLB postseason. Each time this matchup has occurred in October in the past, the Yankees have won the series. This includes four ALDS series victories (2003, 2004, 2009, and 2010) and a Yankee Wild Card Round win just two years ago, meaning that the Twins are out for revenge. If they make it to the World Series, it will be their sixth AL pennant in franchise history (including the times they were the Washington Senators) and could lead to their fourth World Series title ever and first since 1991. The Yankees, meanwhile, have made 40 pennants and won 27 World Series, the most US sporting championships ever, three ahead of the NHL's Montreal Canadiens.

A Pennant in Each League
The other AL divisional winner is the Astros, who could win their second AL pennant ever, having won the World Series in 2017 against the Dodgers. When they made the 2017 Fall Classic, they became the first team to win an American and National League pennant, having played in the NL from 1962-2012 and winning the 2005 National League pennant. The Brewers are the other team in baseball to have switched leagues, moving from the AL to the NL in 1998. They last won a pennant in 1982, meaning that if they make the World Series, they could become the second team to win a pennant in each league.

The Rays and Nats: The Losers
The Tampa Bay Rays and the Washington Nationals have never won a World Series, two of the three teams out of this year's ten to fall under this dubious category (the other being the Brewers). The Nats actually haven't even been to a World Series before (the other MLB team that hasn't reached the Fall Classic is the Mariners), while the Rays haven't made it since their five-game Series defeat in 2008 to the Phillies. A championship for either squad would break some interesting geographic droughts: no Florida team has won the World Series since 2003 (Marlins over Yankees) and no DC team has won the World Series since 1925 (Senators, aka Twins, over Giants).

Non-Aquatic California Droughts
The A's and Dodgers haven't won the World Series since the late 1980s. The Dodgers have lost each Series of the last two years, while the A's haven't even made the World Series since 1990, when they lost to the Reds. If the A's win the World Series, they will become the third MLB team with double-digit championships and will move into sole possession of second place in the AL in the category, while the Dodgers could move into sole possession of second place in the World Series appearances category for all of Major League Baseball if they make the 2019 World Series. If they lose it, though, they will become just the second franchise in baseball history to lose the World Series in three consecutive years (the first being the 1911-1913 Giants).

Braves vs. Cardinals: A Historical Matchup
Two of the six original MLB teams in this year's postseason bracket (the others are the Yankees, Twins, A's, and Dodgers) will most likely battle it out in the National League Division Series this year. The Cardinals last won the World Series in 2011, while the Braves last won in 1995. A victory for the Cardinals in the 2019 World Series would put them in a tie with the Giants for the second-most World Series championships in the 21st century with three, while the Red Sox are leading the category with four. The Braves are looking to become Atlanta's first sports champion of the 21st century, as the Atlanta Hawks and Falcons haven't won their respective championships in a while, if not ever.

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

Monday, September 16, 2019

My Top 5 Favorite Current Baseball Stadiums That I've Visited 9/16/19

Hey baseball fans!

We are two weeks away from the postseason, but we are also two weeks away from the Rangers' last home game at their current stadium, Globe Life Park in Arlington. Now, I've never been to this stadium, but I certainly wish I had visited! One of the items on my life's bucket list is to visit every baseball team's home stadium at least once. I've already been to 13 different stadiums (not counting the Old Yankee Stadium) and, because I'm almost halfway there, I figured I'd give you guys my opinion on my favorite ballparks I've visited.

But first, numbers thirteen to six:
#13: Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago (White Sox)
#12: Angels Stadium, Los Angeles (Angels)
#11: Fenway Park, Boston
#10: Yankee Stadium, New York City (Yankees)
#9: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City
#8: Nationals Park, Washington DC
#7: Citizen's Bank Park, Philadelphia
#6: Rogers Centre, Toronto

#5: Citi Field, New York City (Mets)
Yes, Citi Field trumps Yankee Stadium. Don't get me wrong, I love watching my Yankees in the Bronx, but Citi Field has a much better vibe and better attractions. The apple that pops up for Mets homers is always endearing and the blue and orange coloring, representing the flag of New York City and the Mets' uniforms, is a cool aesthetic.

#4: Oracle Park, San Francisco (then AT&T Park)
The home of the Giants will always be AT&T Park to me, but I'm sure older baseball fans will say it will always be Pacific Bell Park. Either way, I loved walking around the concourse, seeing McCovey Cove in right field and the giant glove/slide in left field. But I think what really makes this stadium great is the fans. Look at the yearly MLB attendance rankings. San Fran always gets huge crowds, even when they aren't the best team.

#3: Wrigley Field, Chicago (Cubs)
The most classic of National League parks sure does live up to its reputation in real life. The ivy along the outfield is awesome, along with the stands on the buildings across the street. Knowing its history made it even better, though, as it's the oldest park still standing in the NL. Here's something cool: while at Wrigley, I saw my very first inside-the-park home run by Tony Campana of the Cubs.

#2: PNC Park, Pittsburgh
PNC Park is objectively one of the best stadiums in Major League Baseball, as it seems to be towards the top of everyone's "Favorite Stadiums" list. Walking along the Roberto Clemente Bridge was awesome and the feel within the ballpark was too. I happened to go when the Pirates were doing really well, so the environment was also insane, as MVP candidate Josh Harrison was a key part in the Pirates' tight win against the Reds that day.

#1: Camden Yards, Baltimore
The architecture really makes Camden Yards the best ballpark. It's got Wrigley's ivy, Ebbets Field's iconic right field scoreboard, and has plenty of other landmarks too, like the warehouse just outside the stadium. It's got the overall best atmosphere out of any park I've been to and, if you don't believe me, go to Baltimore and see the O's play here. It's truly mesmerizing.

What do you think of this list? Leave your thoughts in the comments 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, September 4, 2019

Nolan Ryan Never Pitched a Perfect Game 9/4/19

Hey baseball fans!

Yes, Nolan Ryan pitched seven no-hitters during his Hall of Fame career, but you, along with around 7 billion people, have as many perfect games pitched as Nolan Ryan has at zero! This post is inspired by a recurring joke I have with my baseball fan friends, so it's time I share it with you in the form of some fun facts!

Same amount of World Series rings as Ted Williams: Williams may be "the greatest hitter that ever lived" (according to people who are wrong), but he played for the Red Sox in the middle of the Curse of the Bambino. Thus, no rings. He can, however, hold his 1946 World Series appearance over all of our heads, but his Sox lost the '46 Fall Classic to the Cardinals in seven.

Same amount of MVPs as Derek Jeter: Derek Jeter is one of my all-time favorite hitters. He's sixth on the all-time hits list and brought the Yankees five rings. However, Jeter never won an MVP Award during his entire 20-year career. He came close, though, placing in the top five three times.

Same amount of Cy Young Awards as Phil Niekro: Phil Niekro was one of the most durable pitchers in all of baseball. The knuckleballer and Hall of Famer pitched for 24 years in the majors, yet he never won a Cy Young Award, despite finishing in the top six for the award in five seasons.

Same amount of batting titles as Craig Biggio, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Rickey Henderson: All three are members of the 3,000 Hits Club. All three are Hall of Famers. All three are baseball legends. But, all three never won a batting title.

Same amount of home run titles as Frank Thomas: Frank Thomas was one of the most prolific hitters of the 1990s, slugging his way to five straight All Star Games from 1993-1997 as a member of the White Sox. His 521 home runs are tied for 20th-most on the all-time list, yet somehow, The Big Hurt never led either the AL or the MLB in home runs in any season.

See? You put up Hall of Fame numbers just by being a human being. You just have to look at Hall of Fame benchmarks a little bit differently. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, August 25, 2019

The 2011 AL "Wild" Wild Card Race 8/25/19

Hey baseball fans!

We're coming down to the final month of the 2019 MLB regular season and playoff seedings are starting to shape. However, as the great Yogi Berra said, "it ain't over 'til it's over." About eight years ago, a comeback in historically one of the most competitive divisions in MLB history shocked the sports world, making the 2011 AL Wild Card race one to remember.

It was September 1, 2011. The Red Sox were nine games up on the Rays in the American League Wild Card race, with the Yankees leading the AL East. The Sox were expected to do well in 2011, having acquired veteran All Stars Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford (from Tampa) in the offseason. The Rays were three years removed from their first AL pennant in team history, with much of the same core still on the roster, including all-time great member of the Rays, Evan Longoria, and the since-added 2010 AL Cy Young runner-up, David Price. Boston had actually led the AL East for much of the year, only to relinquish it to the Yankees late in the season. But as I said before, by September 1, they had the only AL Wild Card spot pretty much locked up. Remember: the Wild Card Game wouldn't debut until 2012, so there was one Wild Card team per division at this point in the history of baseball.

But the Red Sox caught the injury bug and had massive pitching issues during baseball's final month. Meanwhile, the Rays soared into autumn, with the help of hitters such as the versatile 2015 World Series MVP, Ben Zobrist, Melvin Upton Jr., Casey Kotchman, and Matt Joyce, among others. Their pitching was also incredible. Price, James Shields, and Jeremy Hellickson all had ERAs south of 3.5. By the time the final series of the season arrived, the Sox still controlled their own destiny, but would need to come up clutch against the Orioles to seal the deal. Elsewhere, the Rays would have to take down the division-winning Yankees if they wanted a chance at the World Series for the second time in franchise history.

It came down to Game 162, with both teams tied at 90 wins. The Yankees looked to be ending the Rays season, leading 7-0 entering the bottom of the eighth at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. The Red Sox, playing in Baltimore, also had a lead entering the later innings at 3-2. In Tampa, the Rays magically scored seven runs in the final two innings, thanks to a three-run shot by Longoria in a six-run eighth and a game-tying solo shot by Dan Johnson in the ninth. In extras, Longoria finished off the game with a walk-off homer in the twelfth that just snuck over the left field wall, giving the Rays 91 regular season wins. The Sox and O's had been in a rain delay, so whatever happened in Camden Yards was out of the Rays' control. But miraculously, the Orioles scored two in the ninth, the second one on a botched sliding attempt by Crawford in left, giving the Orioles the win and the Rays the AL Wild Card spot.

So, what does this show you? Anything can happen when the playoffs are on the line. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Monday, August 12, 2019

Commerce Comet Comin' In Hot! 8/9/19

Hey baseball fans!

Mike Trout just celebrated his 28th birthday! I know I'm the one guy who doesn't want to include him in the conversation for "Best Hitter Ever," but it's only because he hasn't played that long. But if he continues at his current pace, he will surely have a better career than the hitter who is always compared to him, Mickey Mantle!

Hall of Fame centerfielder Mickey Charles Mantle played from 1951-1968, all with the Yankees. In fact, he's on the Yankees' Mount Rushmore, along with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe DiMaggio. Not only is he good enough to be alongside those greats, but his career overlaps DiMaggio's (1951), whose career overlaps Gehrig's (1936-1939), whose career overlaps Ruth's (1923-1934). Mantle and DiMaggio played in the outfield together during the 1951 World Series, when Mantle injured his knee while moving away from a Willie Mays fly ball that DiMaggio was ready to catch. It was the start of a string of injuries that prevented Mantle from becoming one of the all-time greats. He actually played his entire career with a torn ACL! But let's get to the numbers he did put up.

During his prime from 1951-1964, Mantle had a .309 batting average, along with 32 homers, 93 RBIs, and 144 hits per season. His career batting average dipped to .298 by the end of the '60s, but Mantle still finished his career with 536 homers and 1,733 RBIs. He was the sixth member of the 500 Home Runs Club and that home run mark currently sits as the 18th-highest mark for an individual hitter in baseball history. Mantle was also a master of OBP, leading the league in walks five times and on-base percentage three times. His .421 career on-base percentage is good for 18th on the all-time list.

But Mantle was all about the dingers. He hit 30 or more homers in eight straight seasons from 1955-1962, with a couple of milestones along the way. In 1956, Mantle led the league with 52 homers, 130 RBIs, and a .353 batting average, his only career batting title. In other words, Mantle hit for the Triple Crown in '56, winning his first of three AL MVP Awards and his fourth of seven World Series championships with the Bronx Bombers. In 1961, Mantle and teammate Roger Maris took part in a historic race to catch Babe Ruth's record of 60 single-season home runs. Mantle finished with 54 out-of-the-parkers, while Maris topped the record, hitting 61 homers. Mantle still finished second in MVP voting that year, also leading the league in slugging at an astounding .687 mark. In fact, Mantle is 18th (again with the "18!") on the all-time slugging percentage list with a lifetime slugging percentage of .557.

Mantle got his nickname, "The Commerce Comet," from his fiery bat and his hometown of Commerce, Oklahoma. Mike Trout is from Millville, New Jersey, which explains his celestial nickname, "The Millville Meteor." I'm excited to see what Trout can do for the next several years, but for now, let's admire the statistics of the greatest guy to wear the #7 in Yankees history. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Logic of the Trade Deadline 7/31/19

Hey baseball fans!

The MLB Trade Deadline is here, making it the final couple of hours that teams can conduct trades for the rest of the season! It's also the last moments of the season that we'll really get to see how teams value their players and prospects for the future, so let's talk about that.

Baseball is all about the future. Unlike other sports, once you get drafted onto an MLB team, you do not automatically go straight to the MLB; you have to go to the minors first. Yes, I'm aware of the G-League in basketball and minor league hockey, but most greats in those sports go straight to the highest leagues, while even Derek Jeter spent time in the minors.

Most teams aspire to have a great minor league system, otherwise known as a farm system. There is, however, the free agency approach, but not every team has the money to keep on buying replacements for their departing free agents. Teams with a young championship team and a promising farm system have the most trade leverage out of any team. Take the Braves and Astros, for example. Both teams are leading their divisions, with plenty of star power in their minor league affiliates. They're set for a long time.

Every year, at the deadline, certain teams designate themselves as buyers or sellers. Buyers are generally teams that are on the edge of playoff contention and are looking for one final piece to propel themselves into October. Sellers, on the other hand, are underperforming teams with a couple of All Stars that have no chance of competing for the rest of the season. Sellers trade their All Stars for prospects in order to improve their long-term future.

At the writing of this post, the only major trade of the 2019 Trade Deadline that has happened is the Trevor Bauer trade, so let's break it down a little bit. Trevor Bauer got traded from the Indians to the Reds, Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes went to Cleveland from Cincinnati and San Diego, respectively, and Taylor Trammell went from the Reds' Double-A affiliate to the Padres organization. Cleveland was looking to add some power to their lineup and Bauer is a free agent at the end of the season who was rumored to be traded ever since the beginning of 2019. Hypothetically, if Cleveland really wanted to, they could sign Bauer during free agency. Cincinnati's pitching is one of the best in baseball, making one of their strongest areas stronger, and, because Puig's behavior is so erratic, he was expendable. In addition, the Padres have a LOADED farm system, so Franmil Reyes was also expendable, especially for one of the top prospects in baseball in Trammell.

I will admit that the Trevor Bauer trade is a complicated example of buyers, sellers, and trade value, but it's most definitely topical. Who knows what Puig and Reyes will do on the other side of Ohio, especially considering the Indians' aspirations to catch the Twins in the AL Central. All we know, as baseball fans who understand trade value, is that, in the minds of the GMs of the Indians, Reds, and Padres, this trade was fair. It might not be objectively fair (there's usually a winner and a loser in all trades), but it was fair to the teams involved, which is what made the trade happen.

What trades do you think should be made? Who should be buyers and who should be sellers? Leave your thoughts in the comments 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."

Friday, July 26, 2019

The Meikyukai: A Baseball Hall of Fame Benchmarker's Dream 7/28/19

Hey baseball fans!

I'm all for Hall of Fame benchmarks when it comes to baseball. The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown isn't always so, but the Golden Players Club in Japan is. What's the Golden Players Club, you ask? Let me tell you about it!

Created by Japanese Hall of Fame pitcher Masaichi Kaneda in 1978, along with several others, the Meikyukai (or the Golden Players Club, which is how I will refer to it) is not the same as the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame. While the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame inducts players for a multitude of reasons, much like the National Baseball Hall of Fame does, the Golden Players Club has a couple of restrictions for its inductees. Each club member has to have been born during the reign of Emperor Hirohito, which was from 1926-1988. Additionally, they have to achieve one of these three career statistics: 2,000 hits, 200 wins, or 250 saves.

The Golden Players Club is exactly that: a club. Members of this club participate in offseason events, like charity golf tournaments and volunteering for the Red Cross. However, some former Japanese players have declined membership, like Hiromitsu Ochiai, who didn't want to be part of the organization because Kaneda and other founders criticized him throughout his career. That being said, it is still an honor to become a member, much like it is to be a member of the MLB's 500 home runs or 300 wins clubs.

Should the MLB have something like this? If so, what would be your benchmarks? Would guys with the initials BB, SS, MM, or RC be welcomed into your club with open arms? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Congrats to all of the 2019 Hall of Fame inductees, by the way, and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, July 20, 2019

The History of the Shift 7/20/19

Hey baseball fans!

I've recently talked a lot about the Rays' analytical intelligence and implementation, so I thought that it would be a good time to discuss how their baseball savvy really got started: the infield shift.

Most hitters pull the ball, meaning that they hit the ball to the same side of the field towards which they swing. Righties hit the ball to the left side of the field, while lefties hit the ball to the right side. Some hitters, like Derek Jeter, are known for their ability to hit the ball across the field, but these hitters are few and far between. That's why implementing a fielding shift might be advantageous depending on the hitter, which is exactly what former Rays manager Joe Maddon thought in 2006.

The then-named Devil Rays were about to go up against David Ortiz and the Red Sox. Ortiz was a dead pull hitter who batted lefty and was coincidentally the most powerful hitter in the Red Sox lineup at the time. Maddon noticed Ortiz's pulling tendencies and told his fielders to shift to the right side of the field when Ortiz was batting. Other teams took notice of this tactic and Ortiz's batting average slowly descended through the rest of the '06 season. The Rays continued to implement the shift for other dead pull hitters and the rest of the league soon followed Tampa's ways. Nowadays, shifting has become such a popular style of play that many baseball fans have complained that it should be made illegal.

But this wasn't actually the first time a team shifted its fielders in a specific direction in order to limit a batter's potential damage. Player-manager and Hall of Fame shortstop Lou Boudreau (pictured below) tried to shift his Cleveland Indians infield in July of 1946 against Hall of Famer and lefty pull hitter, Ted Williams. Boudreau later stated that the shift was meant to be more psychological than tactical, but the results were similar to Maddon shifting against Ortiz. The Boudreau shift was later used by the Cardinals in the 1946 World Series against Williams, again as a psychological ploy, and Williams batted just .200 in the Series, helping the Cardinals win the championship. But again, this wasn't actually the first implementation of a shift. Another lefty outfielder named "Williams," Cy Williams, was shifted against in the 1920s. Cy Williams was one of the first real power hitters of the National League and is second only to Babe Ruth in home runs from 1923-1928.

Should baseball ban the shift? Let me know in the comments 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."

Friday, July 12, 2019

Relocation: Saving Franchises that Can't Bring in Fans 7/12/19

Hey baseball fans!

I've talked about potential MLB expansion before on Baseball with Matt and I just discussed the Rays playing in Montreal, but let's talk about relocation in general.

It's no secret that Major League Baseball has an attendance problem. Commissioner Manfred, MLB Network, ESPN, and baseball fanatics everywhere are aware of this problem wholeheartedly. But digging deeper into the problem, you may find the following: 18 teams bring in an average of 25,000 fans per game in 2019. The teams on the lower end of that range are problematic, but 25,000 fans for 81 games trumps the amount of fans any NBA, NFL, or NHL team might attract in a season by a long shot, no matter how you look at it. Yes, I'm aware that MLB attendance is declining and that this decline is a bigger problem than just generally bad attendance, but stay with me.

The twelve teams that don't top 25,000 fans daily are a mix of bad teams, bad markets, and, sometimes consequently, bad franchises. There's no one way to fix this problem because each individual team's attendance woes vary greatly from the next, but there is a proven way to fix this problem that hasn't happened in baseball in a while: relocation. The Expos moved to Washington DC in 2005 and their attendance, slowly but surely, soared. In this day and age, at least in my opinion, all a city needs is a franchise to love and as long as that franchise gets good within the decade, fans will flock to the stadium. I am of course aware of the expenses of relocation, but new cities are getting ready for baseball teams anyway, so let's talk about some hypothetical team relocations.

Tampa Bay to Montreal
I won't get too much into this because I just talked about it, but Montreal deserves a good franchise. The Expos just never caught fire, so the fans didn't show up, so the team had no money, so the best players didn't re-sign when their contracts were up, and the cycle continued until their move to DC. With Tampa's quality management and talented roster, a permanent move to Montreal should work. Ok, now onto some other franchises!

Oakland to Las Vegas
The Raiders are already moving to Nevada in 2020, so why not move the silver and black's stadium-mates with them? The success of the Golden Knights in the NHL has opened up a whole new sports scene in the Betting Capital of the World, so I can see the A's having success here, thanks to a larger and more supportive fan base. And let's be real: a 34,000-seat stadium, which is in the A's future plans, will never work. That's smaller than Fenway.

Seattle to Portland or Vancouver
The Cascadia feeling won't leave the franchise, but I think it's time we all realized that Seattle and baseball don't mix. The franchise has threatened to leave before and was only saved by a wild 1995 run at the AL pennant. Now, with the team rebuilding, it seems as if the Mariners are in big trouble. However, Portland has wanted a baseball team for years and has investors already lined up for an expansion franchise. Regarding a potential move to Vancouver, why not?

Miami to Charlotte
I will never understand how professional baseball in Florida has never worked, but that's the fact of the matter. The Marlins have struggled with attendance and mismanagement since their inception in 1993 and it doesn't look to be getting better. Charlotte has brought in superb minor league attendance for years and the area is fueled by sports. Just ask college students at UNC and Duke if you don't know what I'm talking about.

Any team to San Antonio
Texas may be a football state, but it's a very populous state in general. The Astros have skyrocketed in the attendance rankings ever since they got good in 2015, so taking a team like the Reds or Indians, teams with talent in poor markets, and moving them to one of the most underrated metropolitan areas in the United States, would surely prove profitable in the long run. Yes, those two Ohio examples have been staples ever since Major League Baseball was formed, but it's no shock to anyone to see each of those two teams in the bottom half of the MLB attendance rankings.

Which other teams would be reinvigorated by a move to a different city? Leave your thoughts in the comments 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."

Monday, July 8, 2019

The Case for Mark Grace 7/8/19

Hey baseball fans!

Two weeks ago, arguably the best contact hitter of the 1990s celebrated his birthday. No, this wasn't Craig Biggio, Tony Gwynn, Roberto Alomar, or Ken Griffey Jr. Those Hall of Fame hitters might be high on the list of hitters with the most hits of the last decade of the second millennium, but no one had more hits in the '90s than Mark Grace.

Who's Mark Grace, you ask? Well, he was a longtime first baseman for the Cubs and Diamondbacks who happened to have been good at baseball. Grace played from 1988-2003, averaging 153 hits per season over that 16-year span. The three-time All Star batted .303 lifetime, winning three Gold Gloves on the right side of the diamond. And yes, as I mentioned before, Grace led all major league hitters in the 1990s with 1,754 hits, seven more hits than the hitter in second place, Rafael Palmeiro.

When Grace became eligible for Hall of Fame induction in 2009, he received 4.1% of the vote, eliminating him from future ballots (you have to get at least 5% to stay on). Now, I don't believe that Mark Grace should've been a Hall of Famer on his first try, but 4.1% for the 1990s hits king seems a bit low.

Here's the thing: generally, when a hitter doesn't get to 3,000 hits and plays less than 20 years, the hitter has to be well on his way to 3,000 by the time he retires. Vlad Guerrero is a good example, purely just based on his hits numbers. But Grace, as mentioned before, only averaged 153 hits in 16 seasons, while Vlad averaged 162 hits over 16 years.

Nonetheless, I still think that Mark Grace is a Hall of Famer. In a time when everyone was pounding balls over the fence, Grace found an alternative way to drive in runs, 1,146 runs to be exact. I'm not saying that he's a better hitter than Biggio, Gwynn, Alomar, or Griffey, but Mark Grace is the 1990s hits king and they aren't.

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

Friday, June 28, 2019

The 1987 Minnesota Twins 6/27/19

Hey baseball fans!

As some of you might know, I've grown up in New Jersey for about 95% of my life. Because of this, I've been a New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets fan since I was around 8, so you can imagine how excited I was this past NBA season to see my Nets make the playoffs for the first time in what seemed like forever. Every time I describe the current Nets to other people, I always call them a collection of "cult players," not to say that they all take part in pagan rituals, but rather that following the team is very niche and esoteric, in a way.

The very best example of this phenomenon in baseball right now is the Minnesota Twins, who, thanks to some insane seasons from many not-generally-insane players, have vaulted to the top of the AL Central and are tied for the best record in the American League as of the writing of this post. That being said, however, this isn't the first time that a Twins team has unexpectedly been great. Let's jump back to 1987 to talk about the first team to bring a World Series trophy to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

For starters, the 1987 Twins weren't actually great; they only finished with a record of 85-77, which somehow beat the rest of the AL West. If they were in the AL East, they would've come in a distant fifth. That being said, though, their lineup that year was pretty interesting. Kirby Puckett, the only Hall of Famer in the batting order, collected a league-leading 207 hits to go along with his .332 batting average, 28 home runs, and 99 RBIs; first baseman and lifelong Twin Kent Hrbek contributed 34 homers and 90 RBIs of his own; third baseman Gary Gaetti topped 30 homers and 100 RBIs; and right fielder Tom Brunansky hit 32 bombs and knocked in 85 runs. Besides Puckett, I'm sure that most of you younger folk don't recognize the other three names I just mentioned. On defense, the pitching staff wasn't exceptional, but did feature Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven and All Star Frank Viola, along with should-be Hall-of-Fame closer Jeff Reardon.

But the best explanation for why the Twins were so good in 1987 was their home stadium. The Twins went an astounding 56-25 while playing in the homer-happy, boisterous Metrodome, but only won 29 of 81 contests outside of the Gopher State. After a five-game drubbing of the Tigers in the ALCS, home-field advantage was all the rage in the World Series against the Cardinals. The 1987 World Series was the first seven-game Fall Classic in which the home team won every game. The fact that the Twins had home-field advantage in the series was the only reason that they won, but they won nonetheless, bringing the franchise its first championship since 1924 (the Washington Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Twins in 1961).

Much like the 2018-2019 Nets, the 1987 Twins had absolutely no business being in the playoffs, but unlike the Nets, made the most of their opportunity. The '87 Twins (and the 1991 Twins, for that matter) prove that not every winner in sports needs to be a dynasty. Sometimes, it just helps to have a Cinderella season. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Friday, June 21, 2019

Explaining the Rays in Montreal 6/21/19

Hey baseball fans!

Some major news just came out yesterday about how the Rays might play some of their regular season games in Montreal. There is no further information about how many games the Rays will play in the province of Quebec or how soon this move could happen, but I'm here, as always, to give a historical breakdown on this huge MLB development.

The Rays have only attracted over 20,000 fans per game in their home stadium, Tropicana Field, for four years in the club's 20-year history. In the year they went to the World Series (2008), they averaged 22,370 fans per game at the Trop. To put that into perspective, the Cardinals haven't dipped below 30,000 fans per game in a season since 1995. In other words, the Rays have a huge attendance problem and have not been able to shake this problem since their inception.

Meanwhile, the Montreal baseball fans that are still left have been yearning for a new team ever since the Expos moved from Canada to our nation's capital and renamed themselves the Washington Nationals. However, it should be noted at this point that the Expos, leading up to their move to D.C. before the 2005 season, had some of the worst attendance numbers anyone could imagine, even worse than Tampa's now.

Nonetheless, the Expos' attendance woes of the 1990s and early 2000s had a lot to do with how the team performed and how the front office dealt with that poor performance. The Nationals, with the help of their excellent teams of the past, have posted pretty good attendance numbers over the last several years, even before the Bryce Harper years. So, the real issue that the Rays face right now is a bad market because they are one of baseball's best teams now and can't seem to bring fans to St. Petersburg. No offense, Rays fans.

The Rays are notably one of the most creatively-managed teams in baseball. Joe Maddon famously popularized fielding shifts, while Kevin Cash has implemented the opener rather successfully. The only reason they have to be so savvy is because they don't have the money to bring in big-name stars. With the analytical attitude that they already possess, the good lineups they put out every day over the last year-and-a-half, and the excited Montreal baseball fans, the Montreal Rays (or Expos 2.0) would be a great idea and, personally, I think they should permanently move to Montreal.

What are your thoughts on this news out of Tampa? Is the Trop really as bad as people make it out to be? Let me know in the comments 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."

Thursday, June 13, 2019

A Milestone for the Hall 6/13/19

Hey baseball fans!

June 12th marks a very important anniversary for a specific event in baseball history, an event that happened 80 years ago yesterday: the opening of the Baseball Hall of Fame!

Yes, you read that correctly. On June 12, 1939, Cooperstown, New York got a lot more popular, as along with the opening of the physical Hall of Fame museum, was the inaugural Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The ceremony featured some of the greatest names in baseball history, like Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Cy Young. But what's more interesting about the opening of the Hall of Fame is why and how it opened.

1939 was towards the end of the Great Depression in the United States and two years before the US entered World War II, even though Europe would be engulfed by war just a couple of months after the Hall's dedication. The Great Depression had hit the upstate town of Cooperstown hard and many businesses lost a lot of money due to this financial crisis. That's when local hotel owner Stephen Carlton Clark, a former World War I Lieutenant-Colonel, had the great idea to found (and pay for) what ended up becoming the Baseball Hall of Fame. How did he attract customers to this new New York State landmark, you ask? By relying on the findings of the 1907 Mills Commission report on the history of baseball.

While the origins of baseball continue to be debated today and while their may be many people who had a hand in it, the person who received the credit from Mr. Clark was Abner Doubleday, a Civil War general and former resident of Cooperstown, based on the Mills Commission report's statement that the "first scheme for playing baseball, according to the best evidence obtainable to date, was devised by Abner Doubleday at Cooperstown, NY in 1839."

The Hall of Fame is a wonderful place that has inspired some of my best blogging. So thank you Mr. Clark for founding it. And a very happy birthday, HoF! Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, June 2, 2019

The Warrior: Paul O'Neill 6/2/19

Hey baseball fans!

As you should know, I love the New York Yankees, so I've naturally seen a lot of their games on TV. The play-by-play announcer for YES Network, the television home of the Yankees, is Michael Kay, and he is joined by a gaggle of color commentators, all with some connection to the Yankee franchise. But by far, my favorite YES Network color commentator is Paul "The Warrior" O'Neill.

Paul was drafted in the fourth round of the 1981 MLB Draft by his favorite team growing up, the Cincinnati Reds. He became a regular in the Reds lineup in 1988, three years after making his major league debut in 1985. O'Neill was a hitter who got better as he got older, as he made his first All Star Game in 1991, hitting 28 home runs and collecting 91 RBIs. After the 1992 season, O'Neill was traded to the Yankees and that's when he became a household name. From 1993-2001, all with New York, Paul averaged 21 homers and 95 RBIs a season and batted .303 over that span.

O'Neill never batted under .280 with the Yanks until 2001, the last year of his career. He also went six straight years of 90 or more RBIs per season, which took place from 1995-2000. There are two years worth mentioning in particular regarding O'Neill's time in the Bronx. First, in the strike-shortened 1994 season, O'Neill led the American League with a career-high .359 batting average and 83 RBIs in only 103 games, leading him to a fifth-place finish in the MVP voting of that season. But O'Neill's best season came in 1998. In a year in which the Yanks won 114 games, Paul made his fifth and final career All Star Game by batting .317 with 24 homers and 116 RBIs, helping the Yankees to the World Series. Speaking of which, O'Neill didn't put on a huge showing in the World Series (even though he's a five-time champ), except in 2000 against the Mets, when he batted .474 with nine hits in the five-game set.

I have two pieces of information for you before I finish this post. First of all, click here to see Paul O'Neill's coolest career play. Second, did you know that the Warrior is the only hitter in baseball history to be on the winning side of three perfect games? He even made the final out of David Wells' perfecto in 1998. Well, as they say, the more you know... Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Padres' No-Hitter Drought 5/22/19

Hey baseball fans!

The San Diego Padres have not thrown a no-hitter in their franchise history. No, it's not that they haven't thrown one since the 21st century or since their first pennant in 1984; they have not thrown a single no-hitter since their inception in 1969. But there are some interesting things to note about this drought that I'd like to point out.

Have they ever come close?
Yes, plenty of times. The Padres have actually thrown 30 one-hitters, including six that were no-hitters entering the eighth inning. But there have also been some other close-but-no-cigar moments. On July 18, 1972, Steve Arlin was one out from a no-hitter against the Phillies, when he gave up back-to-back singles to finish with a two-hitter. On July 9, 2011, the Padres almost had a combined no-hitter, but lost it with an out to go and eventually lost the game, too.

What's the problem?
Well, the Padres are notorious for their droughts. Besides their empty World Series trophy case, the Padres took almost 45 years to record a cycle. Matt Kemp finally broke that stretch in 2015. They also don't have a single Hall of Fame starting pitcher in Cooperstown.

Are they a bad franchise?
Absolutely not. They have one of baseball's most innovative ballparks, they operate like baseball's biggest small market team, and have a killer mascot and uniform set. In addition, with their big signings of Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer, you could see the Friars back in the postseason this year for the first time since 2006.

Pirates pitcher Doc Ellis (pictured below) threw a no-hitter against the Padres while under the influence of hallucinogenics? 

I should probably mention that this streak of no no-hitters is the longest such active streak in baseball and no other baseball franchise has had to wait this long for their first no-no. Hang in there, Padres fans. We're here for you if you need us. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Case for Justin Verlander 5/17/19

Hey baseball fans!

I'm officially done with sophomore year of college! In honor of this, it's time I tackle a subject that has been debated by myself, my friends, and my family for as long as I can remember: pitching Hall of Fame legitimacy. And which pitcher will I be using to demonstrate this legitimacy? Justin Verlander, of course!

Unlike the 3,000 hit cub and the 500 home run club, which are filled with hitters from across baseball's storied timeline, certain pitching clubs have been pretty exclusive for quite some time. The best examples of this is the 400-wins club and the sub-2.00 ERA club, which haven't been touched in almost a century. That being said, however, there are pitchers who have been elected into the Hall of Fame over the past 100 years (surprising, I know) based on other benchmarks. Yes, I could go into the advanced pitching statistics, but you know I love going back to the basics.

Winning 300 games is an automatic Hall of Fame bid, but so is 250 and 200 wins, depending on the era and competition. The same thing goes with an ERA lower than 3.00, 3.5, and even 3.75. It honestly depends on the pitcher, but combining some Hall of Fame pitchers' statistics gets you to Justin Verlander's numbers, including his mid-career slump and his late-career resurgence. For a direct visual of JV's stats, click here.

Roy Halladay's Win Total
Halladay will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame this July and it was no shock that he got the required 75% for induction. He totaled 203 wins during his 16-year career and a winning percentage of .659. The key number there is really "16." Halladay topped 200 career wins in his final season, but Justin Verlander already has 200+ career wins (211 to be exact) and he's only played 15 years. Of course, wins is a very controversial statistic at the moment, but you can't deny the validity that the stat still provides. On top of this, Verlander is likely to climb the wins and quality starts leaderboard even more before he retires.

Mike Mussina's ERA
Mussina was the second pitcher elected into the Hall via the BBWAA this past January, but his election was met with skepticism. A lot of people didn't want him in the Hall because of his 3.68 ERA. The people who did want him in the Hall contended that he faced an extremely tough AL East division throughout his entire career. I admittedly was a part of the former group, but Mussina's in the Hall. Verlander's career ERA is a solid 3.37, which also puts him ahead of Halladay (3.38), who pitched in the same era as Verlander and also faced a tough AL East for a majority of his career. Verlander's divisional opponents haven't been as great as that of Mussina or Halladay, but a 3.37 ERA is objectively good, plain and simple.

Other Accolades
Verlander is a two-time AL wins leader and a seven-time All Star and he was also an MVP! Additionally, he's on his way to 3,000 career strikeouts, which is an achievement that not even 20 pitchers in baseball history have reached. There are also the intangibles. I bet you that guys like Joe Mauer and Paul Konerko, two borderline Hall of Famers, will tell you that Verlander was one of the best pitchers they ever faced.

In conclusion, there is no single benchmark for pitchers, which is why I don't acknowledge a pitching precedent, unlike I do for hitting. Again, you can get into the more new-age stuff to determine precedence, but I consider the situation to be a case-by-case basis, which makes Verlander a Hall of Famer, even if he retired right at this moment. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Baseball Team Name Vocabulary 5/1/19

Hey baseball fans!

You may not realize it, but some MLB team names aren't in the average person's vernacular. So, for everyone who falls under this category, this post is for you.

Team Name: Yankees
Meaning: Either someone from the Northeastern United States or a soldier for the Union during the Civil War.

Team Name: Orioles
Meaning: It's an orange and black bird that happens to be Maryland's state bird. This is more of an "I don't know this bird species" situation rather than a specific definition, but still.

Team Name: Mariners
Definition: A sailor. You can remember it by looking at the root of the word, which is "marine."

Team Name: Mets
Definition: "Met" is short for metropolitan, which refers to an urban area.

Team Name: Marlins
Definition: Another "oriole" situation, a marlin is a fish native to the Caribbean. The name comes from a tool used by mariners (yes, I did mean to use that synonym for sailor) called a marlinspike.

Team Name: Diamondbacks
Meaning: It's full name is the Western diamondback rattlesnake, a snake native to Arizona.

Team Name: Padres
Meaning: I saved the most archaic team name for last. The Padres are named for the Spanish Franciscan friars who founded San Diego in 1769. "Padre" is the Spanish word for the priestly title of "father."

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

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Which Retro Uniforms Are So Bad, They're Good? 4/21/19

Hey baseball fans!

Colin Cowherd recently had a list of his least favorite uniforms of all time, but the list included some baseball uniforms that most definitely did not belong on that type of list. With that, here are five of my favorite uniforms of the past that are objectively pretty ugly, but also the best.

Number One: The Padres' Mustard Yellows
A lot of people say that this uniform is one of the grossest in baseball history, but it's a very nice reminder for Padres fans, as they actually made it to their first World Series in franchise history in 1984 while wearing these condiment-themed uniforms. Couple the mustard yellow with the brown and orange and you have yourself one of the most "throwback-iest" throwbacks in baseball history.

 Number Two: The Astros' Rainbow Look
I actually have zero problem with these 1975-1986 jerseys. I think they're very unique and were a major statement during a time when fashion itself was changing across the United States. When the current Astros wear the rainbows, I always smile a little.

Number Three: The Shorts Experiment
The White Sox wore shorts and collared shirts during games in the middle of August in 1976, thanks to the genius mind of their always-creative owner, Bill Veeck. However, after the ChiSox realized they weren't playing soccer, they switched back to the standard pants look.

Number Four: The Ray's "Faux-backs"
Ok, so this isn't really a retro uniform, but it's still amazing. Because the Rays didn't debut until 1998, they never wore one of those funky uniforms of the latter half of the 20th century. This inspired the Rays to create fake throwbacks, an amazing marketing idea for a team that lacks in attendance.

Number Five: The Brewers' Powder Blues
This should just be their regular uniforms. Coupled with the glove logo, which conveniently is made up of an "M" and a "B," this uniform is one of the classiest of the famed powder blue uniforms of about 40-50 years ago. Please, Milwaukee, bring back this awesome look as the default uniform.

Which retro uniform do you think is the best? Let me know in the comments down below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Mike Trout vs. Babe Ruth: Who's Better? 4/14/19

Hey baseball fans!

I recently read an article discussing Mike Trout's hot start and whenever any article brings up this topic, the "Trout versus Babe Ruth" comparison is always insinuated. Now, as some of you might remember, I called Ruth the best hitter of all time in my "Top 50 Hall of Fame Hitters" series I did over the summer. So of course, I have to defend the Bambino and will be doing so in this post.

The main point of comparison between these two amazing hitters is always wins above replacement, a controversial, yet definitely important statistic to value a player's skills in proportion to his overall team's play. For example, Mike Trout's WAR as of Monday, according to FanGraphs, was 1.2, meaning that because Trout is in the lineup, the Angels had won 1.2 games more games than they would've if he wasn't in the lineup. Trout is famous for having insane WAR seasons, but there's something that is worth bringing up about this new-age stat: wins above replacement is a good indicator of who is deserving of the MVP award, but doesn't always designate who is the best at hitting.

Call my opinions out-dated, but hear me out. Baseball Hall of Fame legitimacy relies on three core statistical percentages, among other stats, which are batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage. These numbers are incredibly important, specifically in that order. My explanation for this ranking is as follows. If I, Matt Nadel, a 5-foot-6, 135lb 20-year-old, were to have 100 Major League plate appearances and was not allowed to swing at all, I would still probably have a fine OBP. Of course patience is important when it comes to batting, but comparably, slugging percentage and batting average are much more important in determining a hitter's skill. These two stats are where Ruth really stands out compared to Trout. Babe Ruth is the all-time leader in career slugging percentage at .690. Mike Trout's slugging percentage at the moment is a "measly" .576. It's really not a bad slugging percentage, but this comparison really just means that no one, and I mean no one, could hit the ball as hard or as far as Babe Ruth. Sure, he was hitting at Yankee Stadium, where right field is notoriously short, but that's where batting average comes into play.

Babe Ruth batted .342 for his career. Hank Aaron batted .305. Barry Bonds batted .298. Mike Trout's career batting average is currently .307. I am well-aware that baseball was quite different back when Ruth played, but you do not win the MVP award if you have a bad batting average. Seriously, look at the MVP winners of the past. Almost every single MVP has a good batting average or has a better batting average than their lifetime one. This may be an extreme coincidence, but especially during a time when batting averages are down across baseball, batting average has been, is, and will always be king. Aaron, Bonds, and Trout can almost go toe-to-toe with Ruth on OBP and slugging, but it's the batting average that makes Ruth stand out.

Oh, and did I mention that Babe Ruth is the all-time WAR leader at 182.4? Yeah, stop with the "Trout vs. Ruth" comparison. Of course Trout's the best hitter in baseball at the moment, but your arguments have been moot for almost 100 years, because without Ruth's revolutionary hitting, there would be no Mike Trout. 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 6, 2019

The Case for Nick Markakis 4/6/19

Hey baseball fans!

I've been very into these "The Case For" blogposts recently, so I'm pumping out another one! Nick Markakis has always been a prolific hitter and is set on a path that's headed straight for Cooperstown, despite only making his first All Star Game last year. Why is he so worthy of the Hall of Fame, you ask? Let me answer that question with some classic Baseball with Matt Hall of Fame precedence.

All Star Games do and don't matter for Hall of Fame consideration. Joe DiMaggio made an All Star Game every single year he played in the MLB, which, due to him only playing for 13 years, arguably pushed him over the edge for Hall of Fame consideration. Jim Thome, on the other hand, only made five All Star Games in 22 years, but is in the Hall of Fame for his 612 career home runs. Markakis definitely falls more under the Thome category rather than DiMaggio's at this current moment for being a player who excels at hitting without the deserving midsummer recognition.

But is Markakis's consistent hitting really comparable to Jim Thome's power? Realistically, probably not, considering 612 home runs is, to put it plainly, insane. However, Markakis's stats are nothing to insult. In just 13 years (excluding 2019), Markakis has 2,237 hits and a .288 batting average. Those averages equal to 172 hits per season, which puts him on track for 3,000 hits towards the middle of his 17th season. As long as he can keep up that pace to reach 3,000, he will be a Hall of Famer. I'm aware that you're tired of hearing this from me, but remember: 3,000 hits is an automatic ticket to Cooperstown.

But here's where things get interesting. Will Markakis's lifetime batting average affect his ability to get into the Hall on his first try? The best comparison for this question would have to be Craig Biggio, who totaled 3,060 career hits (and only seven All Star Games in 20 years), but it took him three years on the BBWAA ballots to get in. Biggio's delayed induction could've been due to steroid skeptics, but it was most likely due to his .281 batting average, the third-lowest batting average out of the members of the 3,000 hit club. However, the hitters who are number one and two, Cal Ripken Jr. and Rickey Henderson, both had other reasons for their Hall of Fame legitimacy and both received voting percentages of over 90% on their first time on the ballot.

Whether it takes one year or ten, Nick Markakis is a Hall of Famer if he reaches 3,000 hits. If he gets more All Star Game appearances under his belt and raises his batting average before he retires, though, the 3,000 hits might not be as necessary for him to see his plaque in Cooperstown. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."