"He scored the go-ahead run that first day in the major leagues, and we’ve been trying to catch up with him ever since."
— Bill Clinton, as baseball retires Jackie Robinson’s No. 42
(Source: Sports Illustrated)
Well, on the bright side, Stephen Strasburg will be nice and fresh for the 2013 season.
"Get in here, everyone get in here… Look into each other eyes, now! Look into each others eyes, I want one more day with you, it’s the most fun, the best team I have ever been on, and no matter what happens we must not give in. We owe it to each other, play for each other. I need one more day with you guys. I need to see what Theriot will wear tomorrow, I want to play defense behind Vogelsong because he’s never been to the playoffs. Play for each other not yourself, win each moment, win each inning, it’s all we have left."
— Reverand Hunter Pence
Folks, this is playoff baseball.
"It was all part of the plan."
— Billy Beane
And on the final day of the 2012 season the Oakland A’s rally from a 5-1 deficit to sweep the Texas Rangers and capture the AL West title. A team full of rookies out playing the best team of the regular season. If you squint a little bit and back away from your screen you could convince yourself Yoenis Cespedes is a right handed Mr. October.
Randy Johnson was a nasty, gritty, durable pitcher. He pushed down cameramen and exterminated birds with extreme prejudice but above all else he was intimidating. The Big Unit stood 6-foot-10, with a low release point and a biting slider that was truly terrifying.
The 1997 All-Star Game took place in Cleveland’s Jacobs Field. One of the hottest hitters in the league was the Rockies all-star representative, Larry Walker. Earlier in the season the Rockies met the Mariners for a regular season Interleague game. In this particular game Larry Walker was hitting at .398 clip and Randy Johnson was scheduled to pitch. Flirting with four hundred, Larry declined to face mean old Randy and secure his red hot average. However, in the second inning of the All-Star Game there was no avoiding Randy Johnson. Larry, a left-handed hitter himself, stepped up to the plate and met the tall lefty on the mound. The first pitched sailed right over his head.
“It was kind of humid out there. The ball just slipped out of my hand. You saw it. I went right to the resin bag. I guess it was kind of apropos that it slipped while Larry Walker was up.”
— Randy Johnson
Larry got the gag and knew just how to play it. He stepped out of the box, turned his batting helmet backwards and moved into the right side of the box. The joke was on Randy, Larry took three more balls and eventually drew a walk.
(Source: Sports Illustrated)
Rick Monday, a California native, found himself back in Los Angeles for series against the Dodgers. It was 1976 — the Vietnam war ended, America was celebrating the Bicentennial and Rick Monday played center field for the Chicago Cubs.
During this particular game at Dodger Stadium one fan chose to pay tribute to America by running onto the field with his 11-year-old son. Upon reaching the outfield the pair unfurled an American flag and doused it with lighter fluid. That’s all Monday, a one time Marine Corps Reserve, needed to see. Monday sprang into action and ran towards the men, considering his options. He could bowl the men over, that would certainly stop them. Or if he cold just get to the flag he might be able to get it away from them. As his luck would have it the wind blew the first match out. Before they could light the second match Monday was there and snatched the soaking flag right out from them, crisis averted.
It was the greatest play in baseball history. Rick Monday’s own words best capture the moment.
"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."
When Monday got up to bat in the following half-inning, he received a well deserved standing ovation. The scoreboard behind the left-field bleachers flashed, “RICK MONDAY… YOU MADE A GREAT PLAY…” To this day, Rick Monday still has the flag he rescued. He’s been offered a million dollars for it but has stated that this particular flag is not for sale.
Indeed, God bless America.
Chris Davis was having a horrendous Sunday. He couldn’t remember how to hit and went 0-8 at the plate. In those eight plate appearances he stuck out five times and grounded into a double play. That means he recorded nine outs — that’s three innings worth of outs and he was the designated hitter. Of course, this was all possible because the Orioles and Red Sox played a marathon six hour and seven minute game that totaled 17 innings.
Chris Davis’, first basemen by trade, day could have turned even worse when Buck Showaleter told him to head to the bullpen to warm up. The Orioles were out of pitchers, so were the Red Sox for that matter. Chris Davis came in to pitch the 16th inning. Imagine the head space he was in. He couldn’t do anything with the bat for the last six hours and now he was expected to pitch.
In Davis’ two-innings of work he gave up two hits, one walk and two strikeouts. One of those strikeouts was Adrian Gonzalez, who happens to be one of the best hitters in the league. Not bad stuff for a DH running on fumes. I try to keep my homerism in check but this Baltimore team has been a joy to watch this season. Orioles magic is in the air.
Back at the Stadium for a six-game homestand tomorrow. Can’t wait. There’s only so many times you can wander into the Ring Room at your apartment, make sure all five are still there, then brush them off with a tiny feather duster. It gets boring and repetitive, and then suddenly you’re thinking about Pedroia’s beard again. It’s good to stay busy with games that count.
So many quotable quotes.
You kind of miss the days when Mr. Steinbrenner would blast a guy in the paper after a game like this. But he’s probably up there in the sky calling whatever the Heaven version of the New York Post is and just like shouting crazy expletives at the beat angel, getting all red in the face, saying rude things about Freddy’s mother right now. That’s how he’d want to spend eternity, you know … maybe also firing Billy Martin every afternoon. It’s just a nice thing to think about. It takes the mind off a tough game like this one.
It’s a long season but what Mark Lisanti has here could be the 2012 triple crown winner.
You’ve most likely already heard but Jered Weaver no-hit the Minnesota Twins last night. It was perfect timing. The Clippers-Grizzlies game was winding down, the Capitals-Rangers marathon was ending and you could flip over to see ESPN broadcast the final inning of the no-hitter. Hooray, sports!
It’s a common superstition to not talk about a no-hitter. Well, that’s really only part of it. If you are in the midst of a no-hitter you don’t change or really do anything. You just pitch and pretend that you don’t know what’s going on. When you’re in the dugout you sit there and you don’t talk to anyone. That’s why it was strange when Jered Weaver disappeared from the dugout in the bottom of the eighth.
"I had to pee so bad it was unbelievable. I didn’t know whether to sit down or go do it or what, but I had to go relieve myself, I’m sorry. I had to throw the superstition out the window and just let it go,"
— Jered Weaver
Baseball Nerd, it’s a blog authored by Keith Olbermann for MLB.com. Have you ever heard Keith talk about baseball? He’s a historian of the sport and his encyclopedic knowledge of baseball is frightening.
On Saturday, we saw the first start of 19-year-old Bryce Harper for the Washington Nationals. Keith put this into perspective by drawing similarities to another 19-year-old phenom, Mickey Mantle. Nobody is putting them in the same category just yet but Keith unearthed a fascinating link. Bryce’s first start came against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Similarly, Mantle’s first game came against the Dodgers but in 1951 they were still located in Brooklyn. And guess who was on hand to call each of these games. Vincent Edward Scully.
What a spectacular career Vin Scully has accomplished. Who would have thought 23-year-old Scully would announce Dodgers games in 2012? You should check out Keith’s full blog post as well as the update.
(Source: Sports Illustrated)
Roy Halladay is a control freak. He throws strikes and he throws a lot of them. He doesn’t like incomplete games and he doesn’t like walks.
On Sunday, the wheels came off and Halladay did the unthinkable. Against the San Diego Padres he walked the bases loaded. Incredible, Roy Halladay lost control like no other time in his career. In Doc’s 14 years in the bigs he has never walked back-to-back-to-back batters. That’s 10,000 plus batters he has faced and never walked three straight. Heck, Halladay came into the Padres game only walking four players in this early season. Like I said, control freak.
Fenway Park is a fan favorite. I’ve yet to enjoy the experience that is Red Sox Nation but there’s no doubt a trip to Yawkey Way is high on the bucket list. There are many reasons why the 100-year-old park is so charming, least of which is the hand-operated scoreboard. The way they use plates with yellow numbers to signify innings in play. The way they display Bruins scores during the playoffs. It’s exactly what a sports city as great as Boston should have — after all the scoreboard operator is the most sought after job in Massachusetts.
My favorite story about the scoreboard occurred while the Mariners were in town. Ken Griffey Jr. was still with Seattle and in between innings he snuck into the Green Monster. The Kid rearranged all of the teams in the American League. Junior looked on and laughed while the scoreboard managers hurried to undo all of his work.
Happy 100 years, Fenway Park.
A Chitwood & Hobbs Field Report