Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Story of "The Bird" 7/18/20

Hey baseball fans!

The Detroit Tigers are one of the most storied franchises of the American League, originating as a part of the AL's inaugural season in 1901. With this history comes many Hall of Famers, but no Detroit legend, whether it be Hank Greenberg or Al Kaline, can compete with the meteoric rise and fall of "The Bird," Mark Fidrych. 

Mark Fidrych was a non-roster invitee for the Tigers in 1976, officially joining Detroit's MLB roster in late April. He was lanky and curly-haired, which is how he got his nickname from Big Bird from Sesame Street. "The Bird" made his mark on the baseball world on May 15, when he allowed a single run in a complete game against the Indians at Tigers Stadium in Detroit. Throughout the game, Fidrych would talk to the ball and pat down the mound repeatedly, idiosyncrasies that elevated his celebrity status to levels that you could say have never been seen since. Fidrych continued to dominate the American League with his weird tendencies and masterful pitching. By the All Star break, his seasonal ERA was under 2 and was elected to start, the second rookie in MLB history to be named an ASG starting pitcher. Fidrych would finish the season with a 19-9 win-loss record with a league-leading 24 complete games and 2.34 ERA. He obviously finished in first place for AL Rookie of the Year voting, but also came in second for the Cy Young Award behind the Hall of Famer pitcher for the Orioles, Jim Palmer. Throughout this amazing year, Fidrych was asked for curtain call after curtain call, as fans fell in love with the quirky future of the American League. To this day, he is the only baseball player to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. 

Sadly, Fidrych suffered an injury before the 1977 season and was never the same pitcher again. It was diagnosed in 1985 as a torn rotator cuff, a surgery that could've saved Fidrych's career from imploding the way it did, had the injury been dealt with sooner. "The Bird" only pitched professionally for another four years after that amazing 1976 season, but lived a quiet, fulfilling life at his Massachusetts farm until his untimely death in 2009. So, this begs the question: what if "The Bird" continued flying after '76? Well, he would've had a lot of fun with 1984 Cy Young Award and AL MVP recipient, Willie Hernandez, who helped the Tigers win the World Series that year, but overall, he would've been a superstar pitcher, mesmerizing fans with his precise control, until he was elected into the Hall of Fame. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Five Alternative Team Names for the Indians and Braves 7/4/20

Hey baseball fans!

The NFL recently opened discussions about changing the name of the Washington Redskins to something more appropriate. This has prompted the MLB to consider the Cleveland Indians, who got rid of their red-faced Native American mascot and logo, Chief Wahoo, in 2018 (on Columbus Day, of all days). The Redskins moniker is definitely worse than Cleveland's, but it still begs the question: if the Indians change their name, to what will it be changed? I'll be proposing five of these potential names, three for Cleveland and two for the Atlanta Braves, a team that also has a questionable name, thanks more in part to the culture of the team (the Tomahawk Chop and their defunct mascot, Chief Knockahoma) rather than the team's actual name.

The Cleveland...

Cleveland is known as a blue-collar city with a vibrant industrial life that made it inviting for immigrants during the 20th century. Blow-up hammers at games for children might get a little annoying, but this also makes for some potentially excellent home run puns. 

There's a better name to epitomize the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's home in Cleveland, but I can't think of it right now. Still though, with music's soulful connection to baseball that dates back decades, this name seems like a great fit. 

A random name to some, sure, but there used to be a team called the Cleveland Spiders that played in the 19th century. The team was absolutely putrid, posting the worst win-loss record in baseball history in 1899 (20-134), but used to have a lesser-known pitcher named Cy Young in their rotation. The name is original, fearsome, and a merchandising goldmine. 

The Atlanta...

Atlanta's history with music is extremely vast, with artists of all different genres calling Atlanta home. The same logic that makes the Rockers name logical applies here. Musicians just love singing about baseball. 

I'm stealing another former baseball team name, this time from Seattle in 1969 (the Seattle Pilots moved to Milwaukee and became the Brewers just a year into their existence), to honor the world's busiest airport. Yes, sports names involving flying vehicles, whether it be birds or airplanes, are seen across the sporting landscape, but Atlanta's airport is the king of air traffic. 

What other names should the Indians and Braves consider? 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 have a great July 4th!