Entries Tagged as 'pirates'

Links to ponder or ignore

For a quick WTF, here’s a photo of John McGraw with a baby leopard in his arms.  Even more amazing, he’s actually smiling.

I collaborated a tiny bit with PitcherHit8th.   Yes, they’re a Cardinals blog and podcast but they do a good job over there and it’s worth a plug.  If you’re a Redbird fan, check them out.

Interesting bit of digging by Illinois Loyalty.  Seems that the firm that was hired by the University of Illinois to consult them on the search for a new Athletic Director (Parker Executive Search) was paid $90-105 grand by University of Tennessee to do the same job.  No word on how much the U of I is paying but I bet we’re not getting a discount.

Finally, some are pushing for the Pirates to be the lucky (?) ones to move to the American League.  What now, when they are having a winning season?  The Pirates haven’t had a winning record this late in the season since 1999. 

RIP Chuck Tanner

Chuck Tanner Former MLB manager Chuck Tanner died yesterday after a long illness at the age of 82. 

Tanner ranks 27th all-time among managers in wins with 1352.  Unfortunately, he has 1381 losses just barely giving him a losing record for his career.  Of course, his crowning jewel was his World Series victory in 1979 with the Pirates. 

He was described as “upbeat” by the media and that was collaborated by my friend, Todd the Ump, who is a die-hard Pirates fan.

When I got home my son was watching the Pens post game show and they started showing clips of the 1979 Pirates and Chuck Tanner.  My son said, "Oh yeah, he died."  I didn’t believe it.  Chuck Tanner is not supposed to die.  He is the eternal optimist who said "You must never ever ever ever quit."  Other than the normal happiest days of my life (i.e. kids being born, day I got married – yes I actually do love my wife) the day I met Chuck Tanner and had my picture taken with him at PNC ranks right up there. 

You couldn’t help but like Chuck Tanner.  He never said a bad word about any player and you never heard a player say a bad word about him.  Looking back it’s hard to believe that when he skippered the Buccos to the ’79 Championship that he was only a few years older than I am now.  Yet when I met him a few years back he didn’t seem to be any older than he was in 1979.

I hope the Pirates do the right thing and retire his number 7 this coming season.  After all, he quite possibly will be the last man to lead them to a World Series title.

I don’t think anyone could have said it better.

Game 7 of 1960 World Series to be shown on MLB Network

Pirate fans, Yankee-haters and baseball history buffs rejoice!  Game Seven of the 1960 World Series will be shown on television this off-season

All thanks to Bing Crosby who reportedly had the last copy of the game:

The copy had been in a vault Crosby built in his home and was discovered last year by an executive of Bing Crosby Enterprises. No other copy is known to have existed for nearly 40 years.

The game will be broadcast on MLB Network sometime this off-season.

Animated short about Dock Ellis’ drug enhanced no-no



This animated short about Dock Ellis’ no-hitter while he was on LSD definitely has its elements of humor.  But creator James Blagden from No Mas, a NY-based repository of sport and cultural art, did his homework, too. Doc Ellis and The LSD No-No was fueled by research done by Blagden. 

He scoured interviews done with Dock Ellis a year before he passed away last year.  In those interviews, Ellis pretty much a moment-by-moment account of his infamous no-hitter.  Apparently, Blagden used much of this info in this animated short. 

Oh, Dave Cash is quite the funny in the video, in my opinion. 

Throw Another Log on that Old Hot Stove

curtis-granderson-stealsSo far, the biggest trade was the three-way deal involving the Yankees, the Diamondbacks, and the Tigers.  New York got All Star centerfielder Curtis Granderson, enough said, they got the best player in the deal.  Arizona got starting pitchers Edwin Jackson & Ian Kennedy.  While Detroit landed centerfield prospect Austin Jackson, starting pitcher Max Scherzer, and a couple of lefties for their bullpen Phil Coke & Daniel Schlereth.

The Texas Rangers traded starter Kevin Millwood to the Orioles in exchange for reliever Chris Ray and Rule V selection Ben Snyder, the move was designed to free up money so Texas could sign free agent starter Rich Harden.  The Rangers had enough money left over to acquire thirdbaseman Mike Lowell for catching prospect Max Ramirez from the Red Sox.  Boston is interested in signing free agent thirdbaseman Adrian Beltre.

Pirates reliever Jesse Chavez has to be wondering whether it’s safe to unpack his bags, as he’s on his third team this offseason.  He was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays, who just dealt him to the Atlanta Braves for reliever Rafael Soriano.  The Braves no longer needed Soriano, since bringing in Billy Wagner & Takashi Saito.

The Chicago White Sox brought in former Seattle Mariners closer J.J. Putz to replace Octavio Dotel, whom they chose not to retain.

AFL Rising Stars Game Has Me All Stoked

yonder alonsoBefore watching the Rising Stars Game last night on the MLB Network, I really didn’t know what I was going to see on my trip to Arizona.  After seeing a sampling of the talent out there, my bags are packed, & I’m stoked.

The Cincinnati Reds are going to have a tough decision at firstbase.  Joey Votto played there for the big club, batting .322 with 25 homers & 84 RBIs, he’s arguably their best hitter.  But their best hitting prospect is Miami’s Yonder Alonso.  Alonso posted big numbers at Miami, hitting .370 with 24 long balls in only 211 at bats, walking 76 times, while striking out only 35 times.  Last night he demonstrated his line drive swing, going 3 for 4, with a double, 2 ribbies, although he did K.

Another hitter in the Reds system, batted cleanup in the game, Chris Heisey, an outfielder, was the 504th player chosen in the 2006 draft.  He played at Messiah College, is from Lancaster, PA, and was signed after a tryout.  He got the scoring going for the West with a first inning home run off Tommy Mendoza, then later in the game added a double.

19 year old shortstop Starlin Castro of the Chicago Cubs was 2 for 3 in the game, showed great speed, seems to have baseball instincts, and should move Ryan Theriot over to secondbase in the near future.

Speaking of 19 year old shortstops, the Red Sox had Cuban prospect Jose Iglesias in this game and although he looked overmatched it was obvious the talent this kid possesses.  He should follow in the footsteps of Nomar Garciaparra & Hanley Ramirez, both out of the Bosox system.

One pitcher who didn’t have it was Atlanta’s Mike Minor, a first rounder out of Vanderbilt, 2/3 IP, 7 hits, 7 runs, & 1 walk, he was hit HARD.  The lefty was on Team USA, was the ace of the staff, and allowed only one unearned run in 12 1/3 innings versus Cuba, he was dominant.

Another pitcher who didn’t look good was Daniel Moskos of the Pittsburgh Pirates, taken in the 1st round in 2007, 2/3 IP, 4 runs on 5 hits, he got ROCKED.  Moskos is another soft throwing lefthander in the Buccos tradition of Zack Duke, Tom Gorzelanny, & Paul Maholm.

ASU’s Mike Leake showed some STUFF, working one inning, allowing one hit, and striking out three.  The Reds drafted this kid in the first round of the 2009 draft.  The AFL is his first experience in pro ball, he was 16-1, with a 1.71 ERA, and 162 strikeouts in 142 innings for the Sun Devils this past season.

LA’s own Danny Gutierrez brought his own cheering section, it seemed to help as the kid struckout the side in his one inning on the bump.  Danny was selected in the 33rd round of the 2005 draft by the Kansas City Royals.  Now this 6’2″ righthander out of Riverside Community College is pitching in the Texas Rangers organization.

There are so many more prospects that I could tell you about, but I have to save something for my trip out west, really looking forward to it, can’t you tell?!?!  Oh, BTW, the West Stars beat the East Stars, 8-7 on a late Matt McBride two run dinger, but none of that really matters.

Manager Connie Mack

connie-mack-hof-1Here is another fact off my tear-off White Sox trivia calendar.  Who holds the record for most years as a Major League manager?  Connie Mack (53 years)

He is the longest-serving manager in MLB history, holds records for wins (3,731), losses (3,948), & games managed (7,755), with his victory is almost 1,000 wins more than any other manager.  Mack was the manager of the Philadelphia Athletics for the club’s first fifty years before retiring at the age of 87 in 1950.

Connie played eleven years (10 in the NL & one in the Players League) in the major leagues, as a light hitting catcher, .245 career average.  He hit five home runs in 2,931 at bats, three in 1888, when he sacrificed average for power, batting only .187 (his only season below .200).   His best season as a player was in the Players League in1891 when he batted .266 with12 triples, he was HBP 20 times.  His last three seasons as a player, were also his first three as a manager, as he was the Pittsburgh Pirates player/manager (even back then they were trying to save money).

Mack wanted men who were self-directed, self-disciplined, and self-motivated; his ideal player was Eddie Collins.  As a manager, he won nine pennants and appeared in eight World Series, winning five.

Over the course of his career he had three pennant-winning teams.  His original team, with players like Rube Waddell, Ossee Schreckengost, and Eddie Plank, won the pennant in 1902 and 1905, losing the 1905 World Series to the New York Giants.  During that season, New York’s manager John McGraw said that Mack had “a big white elephant on his hands” with the Athletics.  Mack adopted a white elephant as the team’s logo, which the Athletics still use today.

As his first team aged, Mack acquired a core of young players to form his second great team, which featured Mack’s famous “$100,000 infield” of Eddie Collins, Home Run Baker, Jack Barry, and Stuffy McInnis.  These Athletics, captained by catcher Ira Thomas, won the pennant in 1910, 1911, 1913, and 1914, beating the Cubs in the World Series in 1910 and beating the Giants in 1911 and 1913, and losing to the Boston Braves in 1914.

That team was dispersed due to financial problems, from which Mack did not recover until the twenties, when he built his third great team.  The 1927 Athletics may have been the best second-place team in history, featuring several future Hall of Fame players including veterans Ty Cobb, Zack Wheat, and Eddie Collins as well as players in their prime such as Mickey Cochrane, Lefty Grove, Al Simmons, and rookie Jimmie Foxx.  That team won the pennant in 1929, 1930, and 1931, beating the Chicago Cubs in the World Series in 1929 and beating the St. Louis Cardinals in 1930, and losing to the Cardinals in 1931.

The Veterans Committee voted Connie Mack into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937.

TSN names Pittsburgh as top sports city


The Sporting News named Pittsburgh as "The Best Sports City”.  TSN has a pretty good case:

The world champion Steelers were kicking off their title defense against the Titans. The world champion Penguins were down in D.C., Stanley Cup in tow, to meet the president. Native son Dave Wannstedt was at practice on the South Side, preparing his unbeaten Pitt football team for the weekend’s win at Buffalo.

…oh yeah, the Pirates, too

Looking at the local scene, Chicago (who was lumped in with Evanston) came in fourth.  My locale, Champaign-Urbana, ended up #84 solely on the basis of University of Illinois sports (we don’t have much else after that), 

Here is TSN’s full list of 399 cities.

Unlikely Postseason Heroes: The baseball players you didn’t expect to make the headlines


In baseball, the postseason is the time for players to shine, to give everything they got.  More than likely, it’s the big stars who make the headlines but every so often we see the unlikely hero who steps up and gets the job done during the most important games of the season. 

Here are 10 unlikely heroes of the baseball postseason because they are perhaps a little light with the stick, unknown players, or in one case, have no business getting on the field because of injuries.

Ozzie Smith (St Louis Cardinals, 1985 NLCS)

No doubt Ozzie Smith, the defensive whiz and speedster, has had his moments offensively but what happened in the 1985 NLCS must have Ozzie_Smith_suitsurprised even the most die-hard Cardinal fan. With 13 career homeruns to  name, Ozzie made himself a St Louis folk hero with one swing of the bat.

In Game 5 winner-take-all, the Cards and the Dodgers were locked up in a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the ninth.  With one out and righty Tom Niedenfuer on the mound, Ozzie batted left.  Not having hit a homerun in his previous 3,009 left-handed at-bats, he did the impossible.  He hit a homerun.  His four-bagger to right won the game for the Cardinals 3-2 and the series 3-2. 


Bucky Dent (New York Yankees, 1978 one-game playoff)

This light hitting but slick fielding shortstop   Dent was never known for his bat.  His highest batting average was .274 in 1974 and for his career he hit .247.  As for power, well, there wasn’t much.  In his 12 year career, he hit forty homeruns with a career high of eight in 1977. 

But Bucky Dent will always have a special spot in every Yankee fan’s heart for what he did in one-game AL East playoff against the hated Boston Red Sox in 1978.  Down 2-0 in the seventh with two runners on, Dent hit a Mike Torrez pitch over the Green Monster to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead and sudden life.  The Yankees went on defeat the Red Sox 5-4. 

Dent wasn’t done.  He batted .417 in the World Series against the Dodgers garnering the World Series MVP award. 


Al Weis (New York Mets, 1969 World Series)

Among everyone on this list, Al Weis provides the widest disparity between his performance in the regular season and in the postseason.  In his 10 year 64topps-168 career, Al Weis was a .219 hitter with only seven homeruns.  For the 1969 Amazin’ Mets, his average was even worse at .215. 

But man, something change in him when it was time to face the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series.  For the Series, Weis not only hit .455 (5 for 11) but also hit a key homerun in the final game.  His at-bat total may seem a bit low for 5 games but that’s because he also led the Mets in walks with four. 

Donn Clendenon won Series MVP rightfully so (he hit .357 with three homeruns) but no one can dispute Weis’ contribution in the ‘69 series.


Kirk Gibson (Los Angeles Dodgers, 1988 World Series)

Rather odd that an regular season MVP would be chosen as an “unlikely” hero.  But  it fits.  Gibson won the 1988 MVP award on the measure of his leadership of the Dodgers plus his good (but maybe not great) stats (.290, 25 HR).  But by the postseason came around, the full season had taken its toll on Gibby’s knees and he was in no shape to play. 

Kirk_Gibson The Dodger’s opponents were the feared Oakland A’s who had among others, Dennis Eckersley who had one of best seasons a reliever ever had.

Do I need to go on?  We’ve all seen it.  Bottom of the 12th.  Gibson vs. Eckersley.  Gibby practically limping to the plate on two hobbled knees.  And the look of pure victory on his face and the fist pumping as he rounds the bases.  And the ecstatic Tommy Lasorda jumping up and down.

The Dodgers won that game, of course.  That was the only at-bat Gibson would have all series.  I’ve talked to Dodger fans who tell me that even though it was only Game One, they knew the Series was won by LA right then and there. 


Jim Sundberg (Kansas City Royals, 1985 ALCS)

This defensive stalwart behind the plate wasn’t known for his offense prowess.  Sundberg was a mainstay behind the plate for the Rangers for 12 years (and one season for Milwaukee) but he never hit the postseason for them.  Once he got to KC in 1985, he got his Championship ring.  And in the 1985 ALCS when the Royals took on the Toronto Blue Jays, he made a difference.

In the seventh and deciding game,  Sunny practically won the game on his own.   He went 2 for 4 with a triple and four rbis to clinch the Series and take the Royals to the World Series. 


Jim Lindeman (St Louis Cardinals, 1987 NLCS)

Probably the least known player on this list, Jim Lindeman was a highly touted St Louis Cardinal prospect who came up in 1986.  He managed to stick around for nine seasons but only accumulated 736 at-bats and 21 homers in his entire career.  That doesn’t matter to Cardinals fans though.  He had his moment in the sun in the NLCS in 1987 against the San Francisco Giants. 

In Game 3 of the series, Lindeman came up to bat in the seventh inning down 4-3 with runners on second and third.  Lindy hit a homerun to right-center and drove in three runs to make it 6-4.  The Cards ending up beating the Giants 6-5 and defeated the Giants in the NLCS 4-3.


Billl Mazeroski (Pittsburgh Pirates, 1960 World Series)

Bill Mazeroski falls into same category as Bucky Dent.  Light-hitting, good fielding middle infielder.  Ok, maybe that’s not fair.  For his time, Maz may have provided more offense than first glance might suggest.  He hit .260 for his career in a pitching-rich era.  Also, Maz did manage to hit 138 homers in his career.

The 1960 World Series pitted the big bully, the empire, the dynasty, the New York Yankees against the upstart, underdog Pittsburgh Pirates.  It’s only appropriate that it end the way it did.

Any baseball buff knows about and has seen photos of Maz’ homerun off Yankee Bob Turley to win the the 1960 World Series.  After all these years, it’s still the only walk-off homerun that has won a World Series.


It’s been rated as one of the most exciting moments in baseball history.


Billy Hatcher (Cincinnati Reds, 1990 World Series)

Billy Hatcher was one of those outfielders from the 80s and 90s that produced just enough to stick around for 12 seasons.  He batted .264 for his career with 54 homeruns.

But boy, the Reds were sure happy to have him around for the 1990 World Series against the Oakland Athletics.  Hatcher just caught fire.  So much so that he broke many offensive records for a four game World Series.  Batting second in the lineup, Hatcher hit four doubles, four doubles and a triple in 12 at-bats.  Nine for Twelve!!

With Hatcher’s bat, Cincinnati went on to sweep the A’s,


Jim Beattie (New York Yankees, 1978 World Series)

I remember when Jim Beattie came up.  Oh how he was going to be the next Ron Guidry!  George Steinbrenner pinned his hopes on him and when he went 9-15 his first two years with the Yanks, he was little “disappointed”.

But Beattie came to the 1978 postseason prepared.  He won his game against KC, pitching 5 1/3 innings.  And in the World Series against the Dodgers, he really showed his stuff.  In the fifth game, he pitched a complete game win allowing just two runs to give the Yankees a 3-2 series edge. 

I’m sure the Boss’ private opinion didn’t change but outwardly he was glad of Beattie performance. 


David Eckstein (Anaheim Angels, 2002 World Series and St Louis Cardinals, 2006 World Series)

At 5’6”, shortstop David Eckstein has had the adjective “scrappy” placed before his name on scouting reports more than anyone.  And it’s probably deserved.  With his ability, comes some ability to win.

This postseason look comes in two parts.  In 2002, David Eckstein was part of the Anaheim Angels World Championship team.  Eck batted .310 in thedavid-eckstein-mvp-trophy-400a-103006 World Series with six runs scored.  All told he compiled 20 hits in the postseason in 2002. 

But it was in 2006 when Eckstein was recognized for his postseason work.  Then playing for the St Cardinals who were taking on the Detroit Tigers, Eckstein actually started out 1 for 11 in the first couple of games. 

Then he caught fire.  In the final three games, he went 7 for 11 and in Game 4 went 4 for 5 with 3 doubles.  For his performance, Eck was named World Series MVP for the Cardinals who defeated the Tigers 4 games to 1.

Honorable Mention:  Scott Brosius (1998 WS), Jose Vizcaino (2000 WS), Wayne Garrett (1969 NLCS and 1973 WS)

Who am I missing?

9/28/09 Linescore of the Day: Andy LaRoche

Pirates Cubs BaseballAndy LaRoche had a career day against his old mates, the LA Dodgers, in the last game in Pittsburgh for 2009.  LaRoche was 5 for 5, with six runs batted in, 2 doubles, 2 homers, & 1 single, were among his hits.  LaRoche said, he knew he was seeing the ball well when he singled his first time up against Hiroki Kuroda.  Truth be told Andy has been seeing the ball well lately, hitting .368 over his past 14 starts, in that span he’s gone deep five times, driving in 13, while hitting safely in each game.  His five home runs are more than he hit in the first half of the season.  He finished his most reason series against the Dodgers going 10 for 18.

Andy LaRoche 5 for 5, 2 2Bs, 2 HRs, 6 RBIs, 4 runs