Before the Cy Young Award – 2

(No wonder I hadn’t seen any “Likes” for Part 1 – I loaded it into Drafts, but forgot to publish it! So you get TWO posts today! Hooray.)

You may have noted that although I considered the short-lived Federal League, there’s no sign of the Negro Leagues. This was deliberate. I felt that since Major League Baseball didn’t recognize their existence as “real” leagues at the time, they would never have thought of giving awards to those players when the Negro Leagues were active. There’s also the possibility that the Negro Leagues themselves may have given out individual achievement awards (I haven’t checked).

In any case, I leave it as an exercise to the reader to find players in the Negro Leagues worthy of receiving a Most Valuable Player or “Best Pitcher” award. Now that the stats are on Baseball Reference (thanks in large part to the researchers at Seamheads), it shouldn’t be too hard.

1931

AL: Lefty Grove was even better this year with a 31-4 record and 2.06 ERA. Only 175 Ks, but he still led the majors in all of those categories. If that’s good enough for the MVP award….

NL: A much closer race. The Cardinal’s Paul Derringer had the league’s best record at 18-8, but teammate Bill Hallahan led the league in strikeouts with 159, and his 19-9 record was almost the same. Bill Walker of the Giants led the league in ERA with 2.26, and his record of 16-9 wasn’t too shabby. I’ll go with Walker thanks to his major league leading 6 shutouts.

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Before the Cy Young Award – 1

After the death of Cy Young in 1955, Major League Baseball decided to honor the greatest pitcher of all time by naming an award after him, and giving it to the best pitcher in the game (according to a poll of writers). It was soon doubled to cover both leagues.

But like the World Series Most Valuable Player Award, there were a lot of years and pitchers before the award was instituted.

So, what better way to kill some time in the off-season than wonder who might have won the award if it began in 1912, the year after Cy Young retired?

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On the 2022 Hall of Fame Ballot – III

In addition to the regular Hall of Fame ballot that pretty much all baseball fans are following, there are two special committees that will examine the cases of several players who either never got their proper due, or were somehow overlooked.

The “Early Era” committee looks at players and people from before 1950. The “Golden Days” committee covers the years from 1950-1969. Each committee has sixteen members; nominees must get twelve votes to be inducted.

Here are the nominees on the Early Era ballot:

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On the 2022 Hall of Fame Ballot – II

In addition to the six mentioned the last time, there are two dozen other players on the Hall of Fame ballot:

Returning candidates are Omar Vizquel, Andruw Jones, Andy Pettite, Tim Hudson, Billy Wagner, Jeff Kent, Mark Buehrle, Todd Helton, Manny Ramirez, Torii Hunter, Scott Rolen, Gary Sheffield, and Bobby Abreu.

The other newcomers are Carl Crawford, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Tim Lincecum, Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, Jake Peavy, A.J. Pierzynski, Jimmy Rollins and Mark Teixeira.

All deserving of the nomination, but it’s hard to see anyone who clearly is a Hall of Famer.

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On the 2022 Hall of Fame Ballot – I

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum has announced this year’s candidates for the Hall of Fame. It is now up to members of the Baseball Writers Association of America to decide who gets the bronze plaque in the “shrine” in Cooperstown.

There are six names on the ballot that are, well, “problematic”, to put it mildly. Four people who are on their last chance to be voted in, and two newcomers.

Those with having their last shot are Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, and Sammy Sosa. The newcomers are David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez.

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On the 2021 World Series

Well, that was….. a “best of seven” series.

We can’t expect every Fall Classic to be a Fall Classic, but this one was still rather dull. Half the games were pretty much over by the fourth inning. Only two could be considered interesting. Would the Astros ever get a base hit in Game 4, and holy crap did the Astros find their offense in Game 5!

But that was it.

One of the problems was that the announcers continued to include the stats from the earlier playoffs in a “Post-Season” bucket. This made the World Series seem like just another round of playoff games and NOT the Championship Series. I can understand doing it in the first two games, when the players haven’t accumulated enough appearances for any stats to be meaningful, but once Game 3 starts….

It would have also been nice to mention which players were appearing in their first World Series, or who was in their third or more WS.

You want to make the World Series a special event – treat it like something special.

Another problem – that wasn’t anyone’s fault – was the lack of “star power” on the teams. When the biggest names on the teams are Freddie Freeman and Jose Altuve, you’re not going to get much interest from the casual fan.

Much press attention was given to how the Braves added a bunch of outfielders at the trade deadline, and then turned out to have an incredible impact on the team’s playoff run. But isn’t that pretty much the same as “buying” a championship? In past years, we’ve looked down on teams that grab “free agents to be” at the trade deadline in order to secure a playoff spot – why are we giving the Braves a bit of a pass this time?

Speaking of free agents, I don’t recall hearing much about how a good number of prominent Astros will be free agents this year, making it pretty much the end of a dynasty that won three pennants in five years. Well, there was mention of the free agency thing, but not about the dynasty. They’d won four divisional titles in five years, but that’s somehow not a “dynasty”. But the San Francisco Giants, who won three WS in five years, despite having won their division in only two of them, and even having losing records in the non-WS years, ARE a “dynasty”.

Well, that’s all for baseball for this year. The awards will be given out in the next week or so, and then the collective bargaining agreement is going to expire, so that may be all the real baseball for much longer than just the winter.

The Worst World Series

It’s a lot of fun at this time of year to reminisce about the great World Series. The great games, the great players, the upsets…

But not every World Series lives up to the expectations.

Sometimes, one team totally overpowers the other, and the Series is done in four or five games. In the era of divisional play, a team with a poor regular season record can get hot at the right time and sneak into the Series. Sometimes, you just have two uninspiring teams with no one to root for. And sometimes, the games themselves are devoid of any interest or excitement.

Here are some (in chronological order) that were the opposite of a “Fall Classic”.

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Baseball’s Best Night Ever

Wednesday, September 28, 2011.

A day that will live in baseball history. Heck, in sports history.

Wild card races and home field advantage for the playoffs had yet to be decided.

Fate decreed that all relevant games would be scheduled to happen at the same time.

The very next day, Major League Baseball posted a highlight video. It was great, except it lacked context. So I added it.

(download link)

There was a lot of wonderful celebratory reporting in the immediate aftermath:

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On the 2021 All Star Game

Let’s get the most important thing out of the way first.

Those uniforms should be collected, brought to an isolated area, burned, cast into concrete, dumped at the bottom of the ocean in an undisclosed location, and never spoken of again.

Their utter blandness is terrible not just from a sartorial standpoint, but from a marketing one. The ASG is supposed to show off the game’s “best and brightest”. But how can you do that when everyone looks the same? In a regular game, it’s okay for everyone on a team to wear the same uniform. You’ll be given plenty of chances to see them and have the announcers talk about them. But in the ASG, a player may be in there for just one inning or one at-bat. How can you show off any player when everyone looks the same? You don’t want fans to be wondering “Who is that guy in right field?” At least when they are wearing their own team’s uniform, fans can ask “Hey, who plays right field for the Cubs?” and narrow things down somewhat.

FOX did OK with their coverage. Continue reading

Are You Ready For Some Baseball?

It’s that time of year again – and this time even more hope is springing eternal in the human breast. A full 162 game season of major league baseball is approaching!

Fans will be allowed in the stands – at limited capacity to start, certainly. But there will be games, and there will be fans present.

The season looks to be a real barn-burner (admittedly, that can be said about every season – but so what). The Dodgers have a really good chance at repeating as World Series Champions – though the Padres are going to have something to say about that. While the Yankees stand a good chance of ending their pennant drought, the Twins are hoping to just win a playoff game. The Pirates are hoping that Ke’Bryan Hayes will be enough of a reason for people to care about them.

Speaking of rookies, there’s the usual crop of young studs that bring excitement to every game they’re in. Juan Soto. Fernando Tatis Jr. Randy Arozarena. Francisco Lindor. Shohei Ohtani. And the veterans that are always worth watching. Are the Angels good enough to get Mike Trout to the playoffs? Can Jacob de Grom win a third Cy Young Award? How good will Clayton Kershaw be now that he’s off the “can’t win in the playoffs” schneid? Will the tweaked ball have any effect on Aaron Judge’s power output? When will Miguel Cabrera hit career home run number 500?

I suppose I should make some predictions, er, best guesses.

The Dodgers and Padres will fight to the last day of the season, but Los Angeles will emerge as division winners. The Braves will come out ahead in a crazy scramble in the NL East. No one cares about the mediocre NL Central. The depth on the Dodgers’ roster will enable them to return to the WS again.

In the AL, the Yankees and Twins will be the teams to beat – and they will face each other for the pennant. The Twins will have already ended their streak of playoff futility, but they will still lose to their October nemesis.

Dodgers and Yankees in the World Series is as far as I want to go here.

Anyway, I’m hoping I’ll be able to get to a game or three this year.

Play ball!