Thursday, April 30, 2015

Willie Mays Hits Four Round-Trippers In One Game April 30, 1961

On This Day in Baseball History April 30, 1961: Facing the Milwaukee Braves for the third consecutive game and looking down the barrel of an 0-7 slump, San Francisco Giants outfielder Willie Mays broke out of his slump with force. Mays became the ninth player (at the time) to hit four homeruns in one game. In clubbing the Braves with four homeruns, Mays drove in eight runs while homering in the first and third off Lew Burdett, in the sixth off of Seth Morehead and in the eighth inning off of Don McMahon. The opportunity to hit a fifth homerun in the game was oh so close for Mays but he would be stranded on the on-deck circle as the last out of the ninth of at 14-4 game was made by Jim Davenport.

In the article Mays, 0 for 7 Against Braves, Feared Slump Would Continue from the New York Times dated May 1, 1961 was quoted as saying the following of his achievement:
"I don't know what happened to me," he said afterwards. "When the game started, I didn't feel I would come out of my slump. But on my first time at-bat, I was seeing the ball better. No, I didn't use a different bat." 
"When you hit two homers in a game that's something you don't expect anymore," Mays said. "Hitting four is hard to believe!" 
He admitted that he "might have pressed" if he had gotten another time at bat in the ninth, knowing that he could break the record 
No player has ever hit five homeruns in a game. Here is the list of the players (and dates) that hit four homers in a game before and after Willie Mays did it on April 30, 1961
  1. Bobby Lowe (05-30-1894)
  2. Ed Delahanty HOF (07-13-1896)
  3. Lou Gehrig HOF (06-03-1932)
  4. Chuck Klein HOF (07-10-1936)
  5. Pat Seerey (07-18-1948)
  6. Gil Hodges (08-31-1950)
  7. Joe Adcock (07-31-1954)
  8. Rocky Colavito (06-10-1959)
  9. Willie Mays HOF (04-30-1961)
  10. Mike Schmidt HOF (04-17-1976)
  11. Bob Horner (07-06-1986)
  12. Mark Whiten (09-07-1993)
  13. Mike Cameron (05-02-2002)
  14. Shawn Green (05-23-2002)
  15. Carlos Delgado (09-25-2003)
  16. Josh Hamilton (05-08-2012)
The article #TBT: Mays hits 4 home runs in one game by Chris Haft of has a series of anecdotes from some of Mays' teammates at the time including Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda about the four home run game.

Here is the boxscore for the April 30, 1961 game between the San Francisco Giants and the Milwaukee Braves from the New York Times dated May 1, 1961.

With the current power outage in MLB post-PED's, who do you think will be the next player to hit four homeruns in a game. Mike Trout? Nelson Cruz? Giancarlo Santon? We'll have to see if, and when, that happens.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- The Boxscore for the April 30, 1961 matchup between the San Francisco Giants and the Milwaukee Braves from Baseball Reference

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Browns Send 2 Players to Japan As an 'Independence Day' Gesture April 28, 1952

On This Day in Baseball History April 28, 1952: In an interesting (and possibly) first time event between Major League Baseball and the Nippon Professional Baseball League, the St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck sends John Britton Jr., a third baseman and James Newberry a right-handed pitcher to the Hankyu Braves of the Pacific League of the Nippon Professional Baseball League. 

The article Browns Send 2 Players to Japan As an 'Independence Day' Gesture from the New York Times dated April 29, 1952 quotes Browns owner Bill Veeck:
"As Japan gains its independence, as the world's newest Democracy, we of the St. Louis Browns are happy to aid the mutual relations between the United States and Japan by sending two of our American ball players to the Japanese pro leagues. In Japan, as well as in America, baseball is the national game, and we feel this gesture of the part of American baseball will go a long way towards cementing good relations with the Japanese."    
Veeck was always one prone to hyperbole as part of the entertainment side of the game, Perhaps he was sincere in his statement.

What I found curious is why was Abe Saperstein involved in the negotiations. Now I already knew that Saperstein was the owner and coach of the world famous Harlem Globetrotters but the article stated that he was also a stockholder in the St. Louis Browns. After a little research online, I found out something else. Saperstein was the owner of the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues. The article Birmingham Black Barons from the Black Past website states:
Photo Courtesy of Agate Type
The Black Barons played in three different Negro Leagues throughout their 40-year baseball career, including the Negro Southern League (1920-1923, 1931-1940), the Negro National League (1924-1930, 1941-1955), and the Negro American League (1956-1960).  In the 1930s, the team was bought by Tom Hayes in Memphis, Tennessee which forced the Black Barons to move back to the Negro Southern League.  However, in 1940, the ownership switched again to Abraham Saperstein, who moved the Black Barons back up to the Negro National League.  Under Saperstein's ownership, the team flourished in the Negro National League, winning three Negro National League pennants.  Much of the credit of the Black Barons' success can be given to all-star pitcher Satchel Paige and rookie outfielder Willie Mays.
Both Britton and Newberry were Negro League veterans who played for the Black Barons. The Baseball Reference Bullpen listings for Jimmy Newberry states:
Jimmy Newberry pitched in the Negro Leagues for 9 seasons, the Manitoba-Dakota League for 3 and the minor leagues for three. He made history, though, as the first black pitcher in Nippon Pro Baseball after World War II. He was briefly the staff ace of the Birmingham Black Barons and was one of the favorite players of owner Abe Saperstein, who often gave him advances on his salary.
In terms of John Britton, his listing on the Baseball Reference Bullpen states:
John Britton was a Negro League infielder for 11 years and played two years in Japan, where he made several notable firsts. He was a third baseman.
There was a mention of both players in September 11, 1952 issue of Jet Magazine under the headline Negros in Japanese League To Return Home stated:
Infielder John Britton and pitcher Jim Newberry, first American Negro players in Japanese professional ball, are slated to return home. Britton, playing third for the Hankyu Braves of the Pacific League, was hitting .320 while Newberry had won 10 and lost 7 games for the same club. Both are St. Louis Browns property.
So how did they do in the Land of the Rising Sun? According to the aforementioned Baseball Reference Bullpen listing for Britton:
Britton went to Nippon Pro Baseball in 1952 along with Jimmy Newberry. He was sent by the St. Louis Browns to the Hankyu Braves, making it the first deal of a MLB team sending players to a team outside of the US or Canada. Britton was the first gaijin in Hankyu club history. He hit .316/.338/.416 in 1952, not almost entirely as a contact hitter. He was the first foreign player ever picked for an All-Star team when he was on the Pacific League squad that year. He finished 5th in the PL in batting average.
Britton slipped in 1953, batting .276/.286/.331 with only 3 walks in 448 plate appearances; he only struck out 13 times, though. That was Britton's final season in professional baseball.
Baseball Reference Bullpen listing for Newberry states:
In 1952, Jimmy was signed by the St. Louis Browns and sold with John Britton to the Hankyu Braves. The first black pitcher in Nippon Pro Baseball since World War II (Jimmy Bonner had played briefly in 1936), he went 11-10 with a 3.22 ERA. He was 9th in the Pacific League in ERA and made the PL All-Star team.
While Britton retired after the 1953 season, Newberry would play for a number of of teams in the Texas minor league system. He would stop playing professional baseball after 1956.

On a side note, the listing for Newberry makes a mention of a ballplayer of the name of Jimmy Bonner who briefly played in Japan in 1936. Bonner played for Dai Tokyo of the JPBL. According to the informative post Jimmy Bonner from the Agate Type blogpage dated October 12, 2014:
Thanks to Rod Nelson, the other day I read this piece by Dexter Thomas, Jr., part of his “Negroes in Tokyo” series.  As it turns out, Jimmy Bonna was really James E. Bonner, a 5’10”, right-handed submarine pitcher who was signed by the Dai Tokyo club of the new Japanese professional league with a great deal of fanfare. He was said in the Japanese press to have gone pro immediately after graduating from middle school, and to have played for the Oakland Oaks of the PCL (though this couldn’t be correct—the Oaks certainly weren’t hiring black players in the 1930s). He had supposedly once struck out 46 batters in three games played over two days, whiffing 22 in one game. 
Unfortunately, Bonner didn’t live up to the hype. He was wild, walking 13 batters in four games, while striking out only two. His final record was 0-1, with a 10.24 ERA—although he did bat .458, 11 for 24 (as a left-handed hitter). Dai Tokyo finished in the cellar, 5-21. He last time up in Japan he tripled but got thrown out at home. He was released on November 18, and left for the United States on the same day. Bonner would never appear in Japan again. The next black American players to join the Japanese league were Johnny Britton and Jimmie Newberry in 1952.
It is amazing to read that a black ballplayer played in the Japanese Leagues a decade before Jackie Robinson broke the color line in MLB.

I'm going to post this on the Pro Yakyu community page on Google+ to see if the gals and gents of that community can add anything else to this post.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- EARLY BLACK BALLPLAYERS IN JAPAN from the Agate Type blogpage dated February 20, 2013
Japan’s First Black Baseball Player by Dex Digital from the Negros in Tokyo dated October 7, 2014
- John Britton career statistics from Baseball Reference
- James Newberry career statistics from Baseball Reference
- Jimmy Bonner Bullpen page from Baseball Reference

Monday, April 27, 2015

Week Three Points and Highlights

Week Three of the 2015 season is in the books and here are a few things I came across.

- Nelson Cruz
The other day I posted the following tweet:
I think I have to amend that tweet. With every homerun Nelson Cruz hits, the entire Seattle Mariners team's smiles get bigger and bigger. What a difference a year makes.

Last season I made mention that while I understood why Robinson Cano signed with the Mariners, I questioned the decision since he would not have much in the way of protection in the lineup. Well, things change this season with the offseason signing of Nelson Cruz. Again, what a difference a year makes.

Last season, Cruz signed for a budget $8-million with the Orioles coming off a 50-games suspension resulting from the Biogenesis scandal and put up an MVP caliber season for the Orioles. Now Cruz is batting after Cano in a lineup that is re-markedly improved along with a solid rotation. For the season Cruz is putting up a slash line of .324/.361/.750 with 9 homers and 20 RBI. So far the M's are sitting tied for 4th place at 7-11 with the surprising Houston Astros sitting pretty a-top the American League West 11-7. I can see the Mariners righting the ship and starting to club the ball. We'll see what happens as the season moves along.

- How About Those New York Mets
I mentioned that last week I would talk about the Metropolitanos. Well, the Mets ripped off an 11-game win streak including a 10-0 homestand against division rivals Philadelphia Phillies, Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves. In doing so, the Mets tied a franchise record set by the 1969, 1972, 1986, and 1990 who all put up 11-game winning streaks. It stopped at 11-games when the Mets lost the first game of the Subway Series against the Yankees.

What I find impressive is that the Mets have done so without a number of players including captain David Wright and starting catch Travis D'Arnaud who both are missing time on the DL. In their place is Eric Campbell and rookie catcher Kevin Plawecki and both are producing. And what can I say about The Dark Knight: Matt Harvey. Its hard to believe that Harvey missed a season to Tommy John surgery. This kid is a total stud.

So far he's gone 4-0 with a 3.04 ERA with 22 hits allowed, 31 strikeouts and only 3 walks for a WHIP of 0.94. His swagger and confidence seems to be slowly seeping into the entire team. As Travis D'Arnaud said during the Mets vs. Yankees telecast on ESPN, the team believes that they can will. Who knows, if they can continue to win as division rivals Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins struggle, the N.L. East might just be their's to lose.

- A brief history of the Mets' eleven-game winning streaks by Chris McShane from Amazin

- Didi Gregorious and Tino Martinez
People fail to realize that it is very difficult to step in the shoes of a Baseball legend. Some might say that it is even harder when the legend plays for the New York Yankees. I notice that Yankee fans are being critical of Didi Gregorious' performance so far with the Yankees at shortstop. Not only is he learning a new league, he's doing it in the long shadow of future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter.

Look at the back page of the New York Daily News the day after the Yankees traded for Gregorious. Just the headline alone shows the expectations that have been placed on Gregorious. And this was before the season started and Gregorious was struggling. The situation reminds me of how Tino Martinez struggled at first base for the New York Yankees at the beginning of the 1996 season.

Martinez was traded from the Seattle Mariners to the Yankees in a December 7, 1995 trade with Jim Mecir and Jeff Nelson for Russ Davis and Sterling Hitchock. Martinez was already a solid first-basemen for the Mariners and similarly to Gregorious, his performance at first was shadowed by recently retired career Yankees legend Don Mattingly. Again, as with Gregorious, Martinez struggled amid great and lofty expectations but as the season progressed, he settled in and was a main player in the 1996 Yankees World Series Championship season.

People need to give Gregorious a chance. I mean a REAL chance. Not a month. Not two months. At the very least give the kid a full season to show his mettle. He's not going to be Derek Jeter. We've already seen him play. We just need to see Didi Gregorious play his game. Maybe he excels. Maybe he becomes the Yankees version of Royce Clayton.
who had the dubious honor of having to replace Ozzie Smith at shortstop for the Cardinals in 1997).

Nearly 20 Years Later, Another Yankees Replacement Is Struggling by Billy Witz from the New York Times dated April 18, 2015

- Waino done for the season?
The news coming out of St. Louis is not good. Reports state that Adam Wainright was placed on the DL with an left ankle/achilles tendon injury. If he tore the achilles tendon, his season is done. The Cardinals always seem to be able to fill spots due to injuries and according to the article Martinez, Wacha and Lynn Allow Cardinals to Absorb Adam Wainwright Injury by Anthony Witrado from Bleacher Report dated April 25, 2015, Witrado believes that:
There might not be a team in Major League Baseball more equipped to absorb the blow of losing their ace right now than the Cardinals. They have a rotation packed with front-line pitchers in their 20s, and all three of them have sub-2.00 ERAs through each of their first three starts this season.
Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez—both 23 years old—and Lance Lynn, 27, have helped Wainwright pitch the Cardinals to a 12-4 record. Those four are the reasons the rotation led the majors with a 2.06 ERA entering Saturday, a number lowered to 1.97 by Wainwright's four shutout innings before the injury.
It would seem that Cole Hamels would be a suitable replacement for Wainwright in the rotation. The question is, are the Cardinals willing to trade from their surplus of prospects in order to get Hamels. Since in this situation, the Phillies hold the seller's advantage, the Cardinals might have to overpay if they want Hamels services. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's see what happens after Wainwright's MRI.

AS OF 7:30PM ON 4/27: Adam Wainwright was diagnosed with a torn left achilles tendon which will cause him to miss 9-12 months. 

- Kansas City Royals are a-fighting
So the Royals have started the 2015 season with three bench clearing incidents. Week one had Yordano Ventura jawing with Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. Then in week two you had a back and forth plunking matches and three straight days of bench clearing between the Royals and the Oakland A's including Yordano Ventura getting ejected when he hit Brett Lawrie with a pitch after Josh Reddick homered. Week three was capped with a full blown brawl started by words being exchanged between Yordano Ventura and Adam Eaton of the Chicago White Sox which led to the suspension of six players including Ventura who was given a seven day suspension.

You see a pattern here? Like I told my friend Melvin the other day: Ventura is young, full of piss and vinegar. I mean, he's become the ace of the staff after James Shields signed with the San Diego Padres. So he must be on cloud nine and is showing his swagger every start. But he needs to dial it down before someone gets hurt.

This is where old time baseball people bemoan the DH since retribution can't be exacted on the guilty party. I think if this was in the NL, Ventura would be a bit more cautious in his plunking of opposing players and his excitable mannerism. Back in the day, he would have taken one to the ribs. I know the Royals want to show the entire league that their World Series appearance was not a fluke. But someone needs to take Ventura aside and let him know that not only is an opposing player at risk of getting hurt due to his behavior, a fellow teammate can get hurt through Baseball's form of retribution. Whether he learns or not is something we'll have to keep an eye on after he serves his suspension.

Well that's all for this week. I'll be back next week with my POV on the fourth week of the MLB season.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

Babe Ruth Day at Yankee Stadium April 27, 1947

On This Day in Baseball History April 27, 1947: In front of 58,339 fans, the New York Yankees hold "Babe Ruth Day" to honor the ailing baseball legend.

The article 58, 339 Acclaim Babe Ruth in Rare Tribute at Stadium by Louis Effrat from the New York Times dated April 28, 1947 quoted the Babe as saying:
Painting by Graig Kreindler
"Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen," he began. "You know how bad my voice sounds. Well, it feels just as bad. You know this baseball game of ours comes up from the youth. That means the boys. And after you've been a boy, and grow up to know how to play ball, then you come to the boys you see representing themselves today in our national pastime." Now the Babe's big smile was visible to everyone. Still a very sick man, he emphasized his remarks with a clenched fist and a wave of the hand.
"The only real game in the world, I think, is baseball," he continued. "As a rule, some people think if you give them a football or a baseball or something like that, naturally, they're athletes right away. But you can't do that in baseball. You've gotta start from way down the bottom, when you're 6 or 7 years old. You can't wait until you're 15 or 16. You've gotta let it grow up with you, and if you're successful and you try hard enough, you're bound to come out on top, just like these boys have come to the top now.
"There's been so many lovely things said about me, I'm glad I had the opportunity to thank everybody. Thank you."
Babe Ruth's number 3 jersey would be retired at a ceremony at Yankee Stadium celebrating the Silver Anniversary of Yankee Stadium on June 13, 1948. Babe Ruth would pass away two months later on August 16, 1948.

Here is the newsreel of Babe Ruth Day from Yankee Stadium April 27, 1947 from YouTube:

Though I don't need to say it, we'll never see another player like Babe Ruth. Ever.
Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Nolan Ryan Ties Bob Feller April 26, 1990

On This Day in Baseball History April 26, 1990: Nolan Ryan ties Bob Feller's major league record of 12 one-hitters as the Texas Rangers defeated the Chicago White Sox 1-0. Ryan struck out 16 batters while allowing a second inning single to Ron Kittle.

Ryan would finish his Hall of Fame Career with 7 no-hitters, 12 one-hitters and 18 two-hitters.

And that is considering that Ryan was a power pitcher well into his 40's. I don't think we'll see another dominant power pitcher reach the lofty heights that Nolan Ryan reached amidst the specialized pitching system that seems to be part of MLB these days.  But, then never know.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Nolan Ryan's career statistics from Baseball Reference
Click Here to access Bob Feller's career statistics from Baseball Reference

The M&M Boys Start Their Epic Home Run Race April 26, 1961

On This Day in Baseball History April 26, 1961: On a frigid Detroit Wednesday, a sparse crowd of 4,676 fans braved the elements at Tiger Stadium to see the epic 1961 home-run race take its first steps.

Roger Maris coming off his 1960 American League MVP season, hits his first of sixty-one homers off of off Paul Foytack in the fifth inning. We all know how the race ends with Maris out slugging Mantle 61 to 54 to break Babe Ruth's single season homerun record, but on this day, Mantle holds the distinct lead in the homerun race. Mantle bangs out his seventh and eighth homeruns for the season. His 7th dinger came off of Jim Donohue in the eighth inning and his 8th came off of Hank Aguirre to take the lead for the Yankees in the 10th. Mantle hit a homerun from either side of the plate for the eighth time in his career.

The 1961 season, as immortalized in the 2001 HBO movie 61* by Billy Crystal would be one of the most exciting seasons on record with many Baseball fans rooting for the favored Mantle to break the record while the shy and often times reclusive Maris wanting to avoid all the hoopla and just wanting to go out and do his job.

The race would be redone in 1998 when both Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals and Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs chased Roger Maris' 61 homerun season. With the power numbers being reduced in recent years, will we ever see another single season homerun race?

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
Yanks Set Back Tigers in Tenth on Mantle's Second 2-Run Homer by John Drebinger from the New York Times dated April 27, 1961
- The boxscore for the Wednesday, April 26, 1961 game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at Tiger Stadium from Baseball Reference

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Rick Monday Saves The American Flag April 25, 1976

On This Day in Baseball History April 25, 1976: In front of a crowd of 25,167 fans watching the Chicago Cubs against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Dodger Stadium, Cubs center-fielder Rick Monday stops two men from burning the American Flag on the field in between innings. Nothing that I can write can replace what Rick Monday said in the article Monday's act heroic after 30 years by Ben Platt from dated April 25, 2006:
"In between the top and bottom of the fourth inning, I was just getting loose in the outfield, throwing the ball back and forth. Jose Cardenal was in left field and I was in center. I don't know if I heard the crowd first or saw the guys first, but two people ran on the field. After a number of years of playing, when someone comes on the field, you don't know what's going to happen. Is it because they had too much to drink? Is it because they're trying to win a bet? Is it because they don't like you or do they have a message that they're trying to present?
"When these two guys ran on the field, something wasn't right. And it wasn't right from the standpoint that one of them had something cradled under his arm. It turned out to be an American flag. They came from the left-field corner, went past Cardenal to shallow left-center field.
"That's when I saw the flag. They unfurled it as if it was a picnic blanket. They knelt beside it, not to pay homage but to harm it as one of the guys was pulling out of his pocket somewhere a big can of lighter fluid. He began to douse it.
"What they were doing was wrong then, in 1976. In my mind, it's wrong now, in 2006. It's the way I was raised. My thoughts were reinforced with my six years in the Marine Corp Reserves. It was also reinforced by a lot of friends who lost their lives protecting the rights and freedoms that flag represented.
"So I started to run after them. To this day, I couldn't tell you what was running through my mind except I was mad, I was angry and it was wrong for a lot of reasons.
"Then the wind blew the first match out. There was hardly ever any wind at Dodger Stadium. The second match was lit, just as I got there. I did think that if I could bowl them over, they can't do what they're trying to do.
"I saw them go and put the match down to the flag. It's soaked in lighter fluid at this time. Well, they can't light it if they don't have it. So I just scooped it up.
"My first thought was, 'Is this on fire?' Well, fortunately, it was not. I continue to run. One of the men threw the can of lighter fluid at me. We found out he was not a prospect. He did not have a good arm. Thank goodness.
"Tommy Lasorda was in his last year as third-base coach before he took over for Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston. Tommy ran past me and called these guys every name in the longshoreman's encyclopedia."
"A lot of people don't know this, but he beat me to the flag," recalls Lasorda. "I saw Rick start running over from center field to left. I didn't know what it was, but as soon as I saw him start, I took off and I ran out there, and of course, by that time, Rick had picked up the flag and continued running. When I got there, I see these two guys and I told them, 'Why don't one of you guys take a swing at me?' because there were 50-something thousand people in the ballpark and I only wanted them to swing at me, so I could defend myself and do a job on them."
Monday continued, "Doug Rau, a left-handed pitcher for the Dodgers at the time, came out of the dugout and I handed the flag to him. The two guys were led off the field through the Dodger bullpen.
"After the guys left, there was a buzz in the stands, people being aghast with what had taken place. Without being prompted, and I don't know where it started, but people began to sing 'God Bless America.' When I reflect back upon it now, I still get goose bumps."
Watch Rick Monday give his version of what happens in the following video Greatest Baseball Play -- Rick Monday, April 25, 1976:

The thought of the burning of the American flag on the field of play at the National Pastime just doesn't seem right. Thank you Rick Monday for doing the right thing.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- Here is the boxscore for the April 25, 1976 game between the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers

Monday, April 20, 2015

Ted Williams Debuts For The Boston Red Sox April 20, 1939

On This Day in Baseball History April 20. 1939: 20-year old Boston Red Sox rookie outfielder Ted Williams made his debut against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Williams would start in Right Field and bat fifth in the lineup. Williams would get his first career hit, a double and went 1 for 4 with three putouts in the field in a 2-0 loss.

The New York Times article Yanks Blank Red Sox Before 30,278 at Stadium Opener dated April 21, 1939 makes nary a mention of Williams. The only time he is mentioned is in respect to catching a line drive, that the fading Lou Gehrig hit with runners in scoring position, that seemed to "lack the old Gehrig depth". Since the paper didn't say much about Williams, I decided to go straight to the source. According to pages 60 and 61 of Ted Williams' autobiography My Turn at Bat: The Story of My Life:
I'll never forget that day sitting on the bench watching the Yankees take batting practice. I'm all eyes and ears. Lou Gehrig was still on the club, the only time I ever saw him play. He was already sick, and nobody knew it. He looked tired just walking up the stairs after the game. But there they were, Frank Crosetti and Charlie Keller and DiMaggio and Tommy Heinrich and Bill Dickey. A hell of a lineup. And Joe Gordon. I'm watching them, studying them all, and I remember so distinctly - this was one of those ten days - I said to myself, I know I can hit as good as these guys. Just a young kid's reaction, seeing the greats, building up his confidence.
Painting By Graig Kreindler
Red Ruffing was the Yankee pitcher. I watched him warm up - a big guy, I mean big, but a real easy-going style, like he didn't give a damn. When he came in with it though, the ball whistled. I got up the first time and fouled one off, then he threw me a little curve and I fouled that one off too, then he struck me out on a high fastball. The second time up the same thing: curve, curve, high fastball, strike three
Well, here's this smart-talking kid rookie from California striking out in his first two times up, and burning. I got to the bench and plopped down, and out of the corner of my eye I see ol' Jack Wilson, one of our pitchers, coming to me. We'd be needling each other all spring, and I'd been telling him how I was going to wear Ruffing out, and Jack's really got the old needle out now. He says, "Whata ya think of this league now, Bush?"
By this time I'm boiling. I said, "Screw you. That is one guy" - pointing to Ruffing - "I know I am going to hit, and if he puts it in the same place again, I'm riding it out of here."
Well it so happened the next time up Ruffing hot it high again, and I hit one to right center just a foot from going into the bleachers. I'd gotten under it a little bit or it would have gone out.
When I got to second base, there was Gordon. We played against each other on the coast in 1937, and he came over smiling. "You nervous?"
I said, "Boy, am I. Nervous as hell."
It turned out to be a wonderful first year for me.
Well that's an understatement. Not only was it a wonderful first year for Williams, it would be one of the best first years for any player. In 149 games, Williams finished his rookie season with a slash line of .327/.436/.609 with 185 hits (44 2B/11 3B/31 HR) and 145 RBI. Williams walked 107 and struck out a career high 64 times.

To me, out of all of Williams' rookie statistics, this is the one that stands out to me. He never struck out more than 64 times in a season AFTER his rookie season. The most he struck out after 64 times was 54 times and that was the NEXT season. Most players as they age and continue to develop their power stroke end up gaining more strikeouts. Not so for Ted Williams.

He would finish 4th in the Most Valuable Player race after Joe DiMaggio, teammate Jimmie Foxx and Bob Feller. It would be one of the only two seasons (along with 1952 when Williams served in the Korean War) that Ted Williams wouldn't be an American League All-Star.

Here is the box score of the Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees game of April 20, 1939:

To look at Ted Williams' career statistics is just mind boggling. Give them a look: Ted Williams career statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference. We'll never see a hitter like Ted Williams ever again.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

Fenway Park and Navin Field Open April 20, 1912

On This Day in Baseball History April 20, 1912: With the nation shrouded in the somber mood following the R.M.S. Titanic tragedy, the new home parks of the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers open for business. After a rain-out the day before in both cities, Fenway Park would play host to the New York Highlanders (aka Yankees) while Navin Field (later known as Tiger Stadium) would play host to the Cleveland Naps (aka Indians). Both home field fans were treated to exciting 11-inning games where the home teams would be victorious.

In Boston, a record 27,000 fans crammed into the new ballpark in order to see the debut contest of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. The article ANOTHER DEFEAT FOR THE YANKEES from the New York Times dated April 21, 1912 stated:
The opening of the American League's new grounds in this city, Fenway Park, was marked by the largest attendance ever recorded here, 27,000 people crowding the stands and bleachers and standing behind ropes drawn about the outfield. It was, too, the first appearance at home of McAleer's Red Sox, which added to the enthusiasm.
The Red Sox would win the game in 11-innings by a score of 7-6.

In Detroit, Navin Field was opened with another 11-inning match-up that was also won by the home team. The Detroit Tigers defeated the Cleveland Naps by a score of 6-5. The article 24,000 in New Navin Field from the New York Times dated April 21, 1912 stated:
A record crowd of over 24,000 people jammed Navin Field which replaces Bennett Park, which cost $200,000 and which seats 23,000 people in its steel and concrete stands. 
The box scores of both games are below


As we know, Fenway is still in use by the Boston Red Sox. Navin Field which was later known as Briggs Stadium and Tiger Stadium was replaced by Comerica Park in 2000 and torn down in 2009. The only thing that remains is the actual field of play from the stadium which is the center of a movement to restore it for community use. I'll come back to that movement in a future post.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

Week Two Points and Highlights

Week two of the MLB season is in the books here are a few things that stood out to me:

- Kris Bryant Gets The Call Up
Chicago Cubs phenom Kris Bryant finally got the callup to the big league team on April 17th (which happens to be the anniversary of Mickey Mantle's debut in 1951) and proceeds to go 0-4 in with three strikeouts against the San Diego Padres. What does that mean? Not a damn thing. Chalk his debut to nerves. Bryant finished the weekend batting .300 with three hits including a double. He showed plate discipline by walking three times and only striking out four times, with three of those in the first game he played in. I think Bryant will be fine as long as people realize that he is indeed only 23-years of age.

The expectations by the Cubs faithful need to stay realistic. Winning will take time with the young team they have. They need to do things taking baby steps at first and then developing into a winning team. That takes time and patience. I mean the Cubs haven't won a World Series in over 100-years. What's waiting a few more to get it done right.

- Red Sox’s Rusney Castillo Sidelined Indefinitely With Shoulder Injury
While the buzz is high in Chicago with the promotion of prospect Kris Bryant, the buzz is down with Boston's phenom Rusney Castillo. The word on Castillo wasn't if he was getting called up but when. To the point that on a recent ESPN broadcast, the analysts were debating on which current Boston Red Sox outfielder would become the odd-man out when the eventual call-up was made.

Now the word from Beantown is that Castillo has been shut down due to a shoulder injury. According to the article Red Sox’s Rusney Castillo Sidelined Indefinitely With Shoulder Injury by Ricky Doyle from NESN dated April 14, 2015, Castillo's had an An MRI which revealed only inflammation and no structural damage in Castillo’s right shoulder.

Unlike the aforementioned Bryant who is under contractual control by the Cubs at a bargain rookie rate, Castillo is not. Castillo was signed last August by the Red Sox as a free agent at the tune of seven-year, $72.5 million dollars. While I'm sure there are many a member of the Boston faithful wondering if the Bosox will get their money's worth from Castillo, patience needs to be shown. This injury didn't come through negligence. It came while on the field.

- Alex Rodriguez's Performance
I had a brief discussion about this early last week. It really is hard to root for Alex Rodriguez. For years I rooted for him. I felt that he had hit rock bottom with his admission of PED use in 2009 and that he a reached redemption with his performance coming back from injury and helping the Yankees win the 2009 World Series. But the shenanigans from the last few years including those that led to a circus of a hearing which led to a year long suspension really soured me on him. The joke among Yankees fans was that Derek Jeter was retiring to avoid the A-Rod media circus that would start upon his reinstatement for the 2015 season. But I have to admit, throughout Spring Training and in the first two weeks of the season, A-Rod has been an exemplary and productive member of the team.

He's played everywhere manager Joe Girardi has asked him to play and he has been very productive at the plate, showing flashes of plate discipline and the powerful swing that propelled him to the superstar level in MLB. A-Rod finished this weekend with a slash line of .316/.447/.711 with 12 hits in 38 at-bats including three doubles and four home runs. He does have 15 strikeouts but also 9 walks so he is showing discipline at the plate.

Perhaps A-Rod has gotten tired of the media circus and the drama that he seems to bring upon himself. Maybe he can redeem himself with a productive end to his illustrious and disappointing career, walking off into the sunset with his head held high.

- Defending Champs Losing Ways
Giants' fans are wondering what has happened to their three time World Series Champions. The Gigantes have had a bit of a rough stretch in terms of both injuries to vital players and in games lost. Its best to have a losing streak in April rather than one in September. I know many like to invoke the "Odd Year Curse" for the Giants. In case you don't know what that is, since 2010, the Giants have won the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014 with a second place 86-76 season in 2011 and a fourth place 76-86 season in 2013. Both odd year seasons resulted in no post-season appearance for the Gigantes. Now if you believe in that sort of thing, then you might as well stop watching now. Even thought the NL West is reloaded for bear this season, the 2015 campaign is only two weeks in. So climb off the ledge fans of the Gigantes and have faith in your team.

- Mike Trout becomes the youngest player to 100 homers and 100 stolen bases
Trout reached the 100 homers/100 stolen base plateau this past Friday night. In doing so, he became the youngest player to do so. at 23-years and 251-days old, he eclipsed the aforementioned Alex Rodriguez who was the prior fastest to 100 homers/100 stolen bases. Rodriguez did so at 23-years 309-days old in 1999. According to Alden Gonzalez in his article Trout Smashes 100th Career Home Run from dated April 17, 2015, Trout is the second player in Angels history with triple digits in homers and steals. The other Angel is Darren Erstad who had 114 homers and 170 stolen bases.

Trout had a 30/30 season in 2012 with 30 homers/49 stolen bases and narrowly missed another 30/30 season in 2013 with 27 homers/33 stolen bases. Last season Trout's stolen base production dropped significantly as he became a major run producer. He had 36 homers with only 16 stolen bases. Will Trout utilize his speed more this season to try and steal more bases or will he just focus on driving in runs with his power. That will remain to be seen.

- The Kansas City Royals Finally Lose
And in the most surprising news of the fledgling 2015 season, the American League Champion Kansas City Royals had their hopes for a 162-0 season dashed in a loss against the Minnesota Twins. The same way I tell Giants fans to just chill out about their team losing, I need to tell the same thing to those jumping off the Royals bandwagon after not only losing one game against the Twins, but losing two games and the series to the Twinkies.

Its good that the Royals are feisty (having a bench clearing incident against Mike Trout and the Angels) and are winning games but let's be honest. Its only two weeks in. Historically, how many teams have gone undefeated in the first week or two of the season and not make the playoffs. Probably quite a few. I'm not saying this is what will happen to the Royals. But eight straight wins is only roughly 5% of the games played in the season. There are WAY too many games to be played to stress out. They are playing good ball. Enjoy it!!! We'll check back and see where they are in June.

I know some Mets' fans will take me to task for not mentioning their current run. I don't want to jinx the Metropolitanos. I promise to mention them in the post for the third week of the Major League season.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

Saturday, April 18, 2015

First Baseball Game Played at Yankee Stadium April 18 1923

On This Day in Baseball History April 18, 1923: Colonel Jacob Ruppert's ballpark in the Bronx opened up for business in front of 74, 200 spectators. The anticipation for the stadium's opening was so intense that 25,000 spectators were turned away. 

Yankees starter Bob Shawkey threw a 3-hitter and as a sign of many to come, George Hermann Ruth aka The Babe hit a home run helping the Yankees defeat the Boston Red Sox 4-1. The article 74,200 SEE YANKEES OPEN NEW STADIUM from the New York Times dated April 18, 1923 described the fateful at-bat by the Babe that could be the impetus for the old Stadium eventually being christened as the House that Ruth Built:
Only one more thing was in demand, and Babe Ruth supplied that. The big slugger is a keen student of the dramatic, in addition to being the greatest home run hitter. He was playing a new role yesterday-not the accustomed one of a renowned slugger, but of a penitent, trying to "come back" after a poor season and a poorer world's series. Before the game he said he would give a year of his life if he could hit a home run in his first game at the new stadium. The Babe was on trial, and he knew it better than anybody.
He could hardly have picked a better time and place for the drive that he hammered into the bleachers in the third inning. The Yankees had just broken a scoreless tie by pushing Shawkey over the plate with one run. Witt was on third base, Dugan was on first, when Ruth appeared at the plate to face Howard Ehmke, the Boston pitcher. Ruth worked the count to two and two, and them Ehmke tried to fool him with one of those slow balls the Giants used successfully in the last world's series.
The ball came in slowly, but left quite rapidly, rising on a line and then dipping suddenly from the force behind it. It struck well inside the foul line, eight or ten rows above the low railing in front of the bleachers, and as Ruth circled the bases he received probably the greatest ovation of his career. The biggest crowd in baseball history rose to its feet and let loose the biggest shout in baseball history. Ruth, jogging over the home plate, grinned broadly, lifted his cap at arm's length and waved it at the multitude.
How bad was Ruth's 1922 season that he needed redemption? In 110 games Ruth batted .315 with 35 homers and 96 RBI. Not too shabby right? So why the drama? Well, consider that in 1920 Ruth hit .376 with 54 homers and 135 RBI and 1921 he hit .378 with 59 homers and 168 RBI. Amazing. I know. Even more amazing was that in both 1920 and 1921, Ruth wasn't the league leader in batting average. George Sisler of the St. Louis Browns led the American League in batting with a .407 average in 1920 and Harry Heilmann hit .394 for the Detroit Tigers in 1921.

Ruth parlayed his opening day home run into a career year where Ruth hit .393 with 41 homers and 130 RBI and his only MVP award. Again, his .393 wasn't good enough to lead the league. Heilmann once again led the league in batting, this time with a .403 batting average.

More important than a batting title for Ruth and the Yankees was the achievement of the franchise's first championship by defeating the cross-town rival New York Giants four games to two in the World Series. In doing so, the Yankees avenged the two consecutive losses to the Giants in the 1920 and 1921 World Series and helped to swing the balance of power in New York City baseball to favor the Yankees.

With that I leave you the box score of that game from the New York Times.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

Friday, April 17, 2015

Hank Greenberg and Jackie Robinson

One of the many stories and anecdotes that stand out concerning Jackie Robinson and his first year in the majors is his meeting the soon to be retired former Detroit Tiger (and at the time Pittsburgh Pirate) Hank Greenberg.

When the Brooklyn Dodgers traveled to Forbes Field for the first time during Robinson's rookie season in May 1947, there were many in both the stands and the opposing dugout who went after Jackie with racial slurs and epithets. Greenberg, who was Jewish and raised in the Bronx, knew first hand how cruel and hateful people could be in terms of their words and actions.

Greenberg came up to the Majors in the 1930's where anti-Semitic slurs could by regularly heard throughout the league by both fans and opposing players. Not only was verbal abuse the norm but physical abuse was often employed as a method to both intimidate and humiliate. Jackie Robinson was continually thrown at by opposing pitchers in his rookie season. During the 1930's, Jewish players (including Hank Greenberg) were the ones being thrown at and beaned. To give you an example of the world that Jewish ballplayers (in general) and Hank Greenberg specifically played in, the book The Baseball Talmud by Howard Megdal states:
But measuring Greenberg has to move beyond simply baseball. For instance, through all of the Jackie Robinson festivities, a secondary point has frequently been made that, while the struggle to integrate baseball was unimaginably difficult, Brooklyn was the perfect place, politically and culturally, for such an endeavor to take place. By contrast, the world, and in particular, the major league city that Hank Greenberg called home when he got to the big leagues, was arguably the toughest time and place a Jew could have gone to establish himself in the public eye. Greenberg got to Detroit to stay in 1933—the year Adolf Hitler took over in Germany. Detroit’s most famous citizen, in fact the city’s raison d’ĂȘtre, was Henry Ford. Ford published a newspaper that unceasingly railed against Jews, and a collection of the newspaper’s columns was published in book form as The International Jew—the World’s Foremost Problem. Reportedly, Hitler was one of his readers and admirers. Ford went on to blame “international Jewish bankers” for World War II after receiving the highest award a foreigner could receive from Hitler’s government. (At least Ford was nice enough to suffer a heart attack when shown films of the Nazi concentration camps, according to a collaborator of his—I suppose it was the least he could do.)
Along with Ford’s presence shadowing Greenberg’s city was the leading voice of reactionary public Catholicism in the 1930s, the Reverend Charles Coughlin, whose weekly radio sermons were estimated to reach more than 40 million people at their peak. Coughlin pinned the Russian Revolution and the Great Depression on the Jewish people from his pulpit in Royal Oak, Michigan, just outside Detroit. Into this situation, and a city ravaged by the Depression and looking for scapegoats, stepped Greenberg. One can only imagine the degree of difficulty...Greenberg, for his career, was the symbol of the Jewish people and all that it entailed.
Reading about what Robinson had to go through in terms of the abuse in his brief time in the majors and handling the abuse in the manner that he did, stood out to Greenberg. According to the book HANK GREENBERG The Story of My Life Edited and with an Introduction by Ira Berkow:
Early in the season, Jimmy Powers in the New York Daily News quoted Greenberg on Robinson: “The more they ride him the more they will spur him on. It threw me a lot when I first came up. I know how he feels. . . . They will keep needling Jackie, and he will react by forcing himself to play over his head. I’ll be awfully surprised if I hear that Robinson fails to hit and hold his job.”
The Brooklyn Dodgers would travel to Forbes Field in Pittsburgh for a three game series from May 15-May 17. It would be during this series that Greenberg and Robinson would meet and give Greenberg a front row seat of the abuse hurled at Robinson. Once again, according to the above quoted Greenberg's autobiography:
Jackie came into Pittsburgh on a Friday afternoon, and the place was jammed. We were in last place and the Dodgers were in first. Our Southern ballplayers, a bunch of bench jockeys, kept yelling at Jackie, “Hey, coal mine, hey coal mine, hey you black coal mine, we’re going to get you! You ain’t gonna play no baseball!” Jackie paid them no mind. He got on the bases and started dancing. It was beautiful to watch. I couldn’t help but admire him. Anyway, we were in last place and these guys were calling a guy on a first- place team names. “We’ll get you next time at bat, you dumb black son of a bitch. We’re going to get you!”

Jackie turned his head. He was like a prince. He kept his chin up and kept playing as hard as he could. He was something to admire that afternoon.

I got to thinking, here were our guys, a bunch of ignorant, stupid Southerners who couldn’t speak properly, who hadn’t graduated from school, and all they could do was make jokes about Jackie. They couldn’t recognize that they had a special person in front of them, a gem. They just kept ragging him and calling him names.

In a way, it was sad that he was so educated because, had he been just an ordinary bumpkin, it might have been easier for him. But the fact that he was a college man, from UCLA, and a football star, a baseball star, and a basketball star made it difficult for him to accept a role of a subhuman being in a world where he felt he was an equal. In every park that he played that spring he was on exhibition. He was the one the fans came out to see, this first black ballplayer in the Major Leagues.
It's not totally clear to me in which game during the series that the collision between Greenberg and Robinson occurred at first base. The article HANK GREENBERG A HERO TO DODGERS’ NEGRO STAR from the New York Times dated May 18, 1947 stated the following concerning the discussion between Greenberg and Robinson:
Jackie Robinson, first Negro player in the Major Leagues, has picked a diamond hero— rival first baseman Hank Greenberg of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Here’s why:

Robinson and Greenberg collided in a play at first base during the current Dodger- Pirate series. The next time Jackie came down to the sack, Hank said,

"I forgot to ask you if you were hurt in that play."
Assured that Robinson was unharmed, Greenberg said:

"Stick in there. You’re doing fine. Keep your chin up."
This encouragement from an established star heartened Robinson, who has been the subject of reported anti- racial treatment elsewhere and admits he has undergone ‘jockeying— some of it pretty severe."

“Class tells. It sticks out all over Mr. Greenberg,"Robinson declared.
Greenberg's autobiography delves further into the conversation between the two future Hall of Famers:
I said to Robinson at first base, “Don’t pay any attention to these Southern jockeys. They aren’t worth anything as far as you’re concerned.”

He thanked me and I said, “Would you like to go to dinner?”

He said, “I’d love to go to dinner, but I shouldn’t because it’ll put you on the spot.”

That was our conversation, and we always were friends after that, even though he was in the National League and I went back to the American League as a club executive after that season.
Greenberg further elaborates on his observations concerning the behavior towards Robinson compared to his own experiences:
Jackie had it tough, tougher than any ballplayer who ever lived. I happened to be a Jew, one of the few in baseball, but I was white, and I didn’t have horns like some had thought I did. Jo- Jo White had said to me, “I thought all you Jews had horns on your head.” But I identified with Jackie Robinson. I had feelings for him because they had treated me the same way. Not as bad, but they made remarks about my being a sheenie and a Jew all the time.
Upon Robinson's retirement from the game after the 1957 season, there were many former and current players who wished Robinson well wishes. One of these was Hank Greenberg. According to the book Jackie Robinson: A Biography by Arnold Rampersad:
Hank Greenberg, writing to praise "your long and illustrious career" and the "exemplary manner in which you have conducted yourself--both on and off the field," called Robinson "a credit to baseball and inspiration" to youngsters "who will attempt to emulate your example."
Both baseball legends would once again be tied historically in 1970, when both Greenberg and a Robinson testified in Federal Court against Baseball's Reserve Clause in the Flood v. Kuhn (407 U.S. 258) aka Curt Flood case.

Jackie Robinson would pass away on October 24, 1972 with Greenberg attending Robinson's funeral. Greenberg himself would pass away on September 4, 1986.

It really is surreal to think that players such as Hank Greenberg and Jackie Robinson had to deal with such blatant racism no more than 70-years ago. That such behavior was deemed to be a part of everyday life. That it was acceptable to treat a person in such a manner because of the color of their skin or due to the religion that they choose to practice.

It really is heartening that a player such as Hank Greenberg, who himself was an object of the hatred and ignorance of others chose to support Jackie Robinson. It would have been easier for Greenberg to just forget his own experiences rather than take the positive step forward to lend support and encouragement to Robinson. Thankfully, Greenberg exhibited the qualities of the decent man that he was in reference to Jackie Robinson and it needs to be a story that is told more than just once a year.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

President Taft Starts a Baseball Tradition

On this day in baseball history April 14, 1910: President William Howard Taft starts a baseball tradition by throwing out the first pitch on Opening Day between the Philadelphia Athletics and the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. 

How did the President like the experience? According to the article Taft Throws Out Ball from the New York Times dated April 15, 1910 describes how it went for President Taft:
The opening of the American League season in Washington to-day between the local and Philadelphia clubs was a most auspicious one. President and Mrs. Taft, Vice President Sherman, and many other notables being present, and the Nationals won by the shut-out score of 8 to 0. For the first time on record, a President of the United States tossed out the first ball, and what was more he sat through the entire nine innings and seemed greatly to enjoy the contest.
Every United States President has thrown out at least one Opening Day first pitch during their respective presidential terms.

Question I have is: What kind of pitch will Hillary Clinton throw if she is elected President of the United States? I'll let you chew on that for a while.  

Monday, April 13, 2015

First Week of the 2015 Is in the Books

The first week of the 2015 season is in the books and here are somethings that stood out to me:

- Miguel Cabrera is back!!!!

Cabrera set the tone for the American League by being on fire. Not counting the first series of the season against the Minnesota Twins, Cabrera against the Indians hit 11-for-14, with a 4-for-4 game on Sunday with two homers, a double and a single. According to the article Detroit Tigers, Miguel Cabrera roll over Cleveland Indians to complete sweep by Paul Hoynes from dated April 12, 2015:
Cabrera's 11 hits are his most ever in a three-game series. He arrived in Cleveland hitting .182 and left hitting .520. In his career against the Indians, Cabrera is hitting .357 (184-for-516) with 31 doubles, 37 homers and 117 RBI in 133 games.
Now yes, it is the first week, but if Cabrera stays healthy and is batting consistently, a .350+ season batting average is not out of the question.

- Adrian Gonzalez is afire!!!!

While Miggy is being Miggy in the AL, Adrian Gonzalez was tearing up the National League in this first week. Though Gonzalez was kept homeless against the Diamonbacks after belting five dingers against the San Diego Padres, he went four for 10 with four walks in the three games, leaving Arizona with a .609 overall batting average. Again, as with Cabrera, it is the first week, but if Gonzalez stays healthy and is batting consistently, a .350+ season batting average is not out of the question.

- Pitching Suspended For PEDs

What's up with two pitchers being suspended for PED usage. And Stanozolol of all things. In know PEDs are somewhat easier to get in the Dominican Republic and both hurlers (Ervin Santana and Jennry Mejia) are Dominican but man, you really have to wonder what they are thinking. The league is serious about testing that they raised the first time penalty for PED usage from 50 games to 80 games. Why run the risk of losing half a season, without pay. We know why they risk it, it was a hypothetical question by yours truly. So much for pitchers not benefiting from PED usage. Maybe they got a different memo.

- The Billy Hamilton Race is On!!!!

Seven stolen bases in six games. What more can I say than let's see how many swipes he has at the end of this month.

- The Royals Are Undefeated

So much for the Royals being let down after their exciting seven game loss in the 2014 World Series. The team is playing confident ball batting behind young stud Yordany Ventura who leads the AL with a 2-0 record with a 2.31 ERA. Now consider that the Tigers are also 6-0 and both teams play in the same division as the reloaded Chicago White Sox and the Cleveland Indians who just happen to be the favorite of Sports Illustrated (SI's World Series pick: Indians will end 67-year title drought in 2015to win the World Series. That AL Central race might be the tightest race in the AL.

Ok folks, that's enough for this week. I apologize for the lack of posts. Work has been a killer on the writing. I'm still working on that 1940's Baseball History post focusing on the St. Louis Cardinals. It'll be done soon. I promise :)

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco