Showing posts from November, 2022

A TO Z: I is for...

Ichiro ... a unique and dynamic player who downplayed his last name and is likely to become the first Japanese player to be inducted in our Baseball Hall of Fame in 2025.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the master of contact hitting joins his onetime Yankee teammate Mariano Rivera as the only unanimous selections. AL Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in his North American debut year, 2001, Ichiro Suzuki hit over .300 with more than 200 hits and made the All Star teams in each of his first 10 seasons.  Case closed.  

A TO Z: H is for...

Harrison Bader , the gifted but injury-prone centerfielder who went from the Cardinals to the Yankees at the 2022 trade deadline.  The Bronx faithful had to be impressed by the Westchester County native who grew up 20 minutes from the Stadium and sparkled during the post-season, smacking a surprising five home runs.  And you've got to be impressed by his range -- a big factor in winning a Gold Glove in 2021. But his track record makes one a little hesitant about a long-term commitment.  He's never played 140 games in a season, his healthiest year was back in 2018.  Could home cooking or playing for the team he rooted for as a kid be a positive factor?    

A TO Z: G is for...

Gabe Kapler , the analytics maven and outside-the-box thinker, whose managerial record has been surprisingly ordinary. After managing the 2018 and '19 managing the Phillies, but failing to finish above .500... he moved west, and led the Giants to a franchise-record 107-win season in 2021 -- bookended by non-winning years in 2020 and '22. The L.A. native played for six teams in his playing career -- highlighted by 2004, when he played for the curse-busting Red Sox and was one of the nine players on the field when they won their World Series championship.

A TO Z: F is for...

Ferguson Jenkins , the greatest Canadian pitcher of all time who ranks just behind Seaver and Gibson among the greatest righthanders of the '60s and '70s. The seven-time 20 game winner earned the 1971 Cy Young Award with the Cubs while posting 3192 career strikeouts.   That 1966 deal in which the panicky Phillies sent him to the Cubs -- with John Herrnstein and Adolfo Phillips for past-their-prime Bob Buhl and Larry Jackson --  is in the conversation for the worst trade ever made.  Imagine Fergie co-anchoring a Connie Mack Stadium rotation with Jim Bunning or being Steve Carlton's teammate at The Vet. I snapped this photo of Jenkins when he threw out the first pitch before a 2007 Marlins spring training game in Jupiter, Florida.

A TO Z: E is for...

Earl Weaver , the Orioles skipper, whose 1480 victories, four pennants and the 1970 World Series championship earned his place in Cooperstown.  Under his feisty leadership, and future Hall of Famers such as Frank and Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer, the O's became an American League powerhouse -- following his mantra of "pitching, defense and the three-run homer." We can't overlook his umpire-baiting personality, which led to over 90 ejections, including two before the games even began! This image is from the 2008 All Star Parade in New York up Avenue of the Americas.  

A TO Z: D is for...

Dansby Swanson , part of this winter's stellar class of free agent shortstops.  Coming off his best season ever, the 2022 All Star and Gold Glove winner turns 29 over the winter.  Having grown up less than 30 miles from Atlanta, you'd think the Braves ownership (led by Liberty Media) would prioritize keeping the hometown star at home.  But then again, it didn't mind Atlanta fixture -- and 2021 World Series MVP -- Freddie Freeman signing with the Dodgers. A surprising fact: despite his Georgia roots, Swanson wasn't drafted by the Braves.  Originally in the Diamondbacks organization, he was the key player in one of the most one-sided trades of the previous decade.  Arizona sent him along with centerfielder Ender Inciarte to Atlanta for a pitchers Shelby Miller and Gabe Speier.

A TO Z: C is for...

Chase Utley ... who will be a borderline Hall of Famer when he becomes eligible in 2024.  The six-time All Star was a core player on the Phillies previous run of success.  Will his gritty on field play, along with five great and two very good seasons be enough to land the franchise's greatest-ever 2nd baseman in Cooperstown?  Stay tuned.

A TO Z: B is for...

Barry Bonds , who remains the most divisive name in baseball.  Back in the buzz this week when he was included on the ballot for a Hall of Fame voting committee, his statistics and character will bear an asterisk for many fans and media members. Is it time to move on and accept his achievements without question? Or does the cloud of suspicion remain? Did he elevate the game or soil it? Feel free to hit the comment button and share your opinion. This image is from 2016, when he served as the Marlins hitting coach.  

A TO Z: First Pitch

The off-season is here... time to try something a little different. Still baseball, of course.  But let's get away from the headlines and hot stove -- instead, I'm launching a series that follows a theme. Today, Albert Pujols leads off my A to Z -- an alphabetical spotlight on players and baseball figures worth sharing.  Coming off one of the best "victory lap" seasons ever, the future Hall of Famer completed his 22 seasons with 703 home runs alongside three MVPs and the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year.  Up top, it's a  Spring Training 2007  image facing the Orioles... and below, from a Yankees/Angels game in 2018.


The Astros, sporting baseball's deepest bullpen and a potent collection of contact hitters -- who could generate plenty of power -- completed their climb to a World Series championship Saturday night. With a lineup that caught fire once their leadoff man Jose Altuve emerged from an extended slump, they took the last three games -- capped by two close, tension-filled one-run contests, to post their second title in franchise history.  And to many of us, their first clean one.  No trash cans, no supposed buzzers.  Just good, smart baseball. I hadn't seen Houston in person since 2019... when I snapped this Yankee Stadium image of Altuve. Hopefully, I'll catch them in spring training for a look at ALCS and World Series MVP Jeremy Pena. It also means I've yet to get a chance to see Dusty Baker in an Astros uniform.  Does the Astros' championship assure Altuve and Baker's future place in the Hall of Fame? Share your opinion by hitting the "comment" button b

If Your Birthday is November 4th...

Image share it with  Dick Groat , the shortstop on a pair of  World Series champions, the 1960 Pirates and '64 Cardinals. The 1960 NL batting champ (seen here in the Cards 1965 Yearbook) also holds an offbeat honor... he's one of just four stars to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated wearing the uniform of 3 different teams -- the others are LeBron James, Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin. He's also a member of another exclusive club, the 2-sport athlete.. This onetime Duke basketball standout played the '52-53 season for the NBA's Ft. Wayne Pistons before concentrating on baseball, when Pirates officials convinced him his future was best served on the diamond. Carlos Baerga , Cleveland's 2nd baseman was an emerging star with in the early and mid-'90s, but his production fell off after a 1996 trade to the Mets for Jeff Kent and Jose Vizcaino. The switch hitter made history on April 8th, 1993, when he became the first player ever to homer from both s

Mister 1000

"An avalanche of slugging": what better way to describe World Series game three?  The still-underdog Phillies crushed five home runs -- tying the most ever in a single WS game, and all off Lance McCullers Junior -- but one truly made history in their 7-0 domination of the Astros.   Alec Bohm  (seen October 21st in the NLCS) led off the bottom of the 2nd inning with a laser over the left field fence for the 1000th home run in World Series history.  ( The first came in the inaugural 1903 Fall Classic, the Pirates' Jimmy Sebring crafting an inside-the-park job off Cy Young . Yes, the most famous pitcher ever .) The barrage began in the bottom of the 1st inning, when Bryce Harper connected with Kyle Schwarber on 1st base. Bohm, Brandon Marsh and Schwarber (with a bullet that nearly drilled a hole in the ivy above the center field wall) rounded out the sweet quintet. Five home runs. A terrific five inning start from Ranger Suarez.  Phillies 7 - Astros 0.  Now, let's circl