An Intentional Scheduling Mishap

Hey baseball fans!

Did you know that in 1961, American League teams played 162 games while National League teams played just 154? Crazy, right? Yes, but let me explain.

Before 1961, there were eight teams in each league in the MLB. However, the MLB decided to expand in ’61 to compete with the newly proposed Continental League that would actually fold in 1960. The expansion teams of that year were the Washington Senators (the present-day Texas Rangers) and the LA Angels. As great as it was that the MLB was getting larger, there was now a scheduling issue in the American League. Prior to the additions, each team played each other 22 times a season, but with the additions, that number would be way too much. So, it was decided that each AL team would play each other 18 times a season for a total of 162 games played.

There was still one problem: what about the NL teams? Well, they actually stuck with the 154-game season in 1961. The only reason that worked is because AL and NL teams didn’t play each other in the regular season until 1997. Once the National League added the Astros and Mets in 1962, they adopted the 162-game season. Now the argument for why Roger Maris’s single-season home run record was illegitimate in 1961 gets a little more interesting.

Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

My Birth Year’s World Series Winners: The 1999 Yankees

Hey baseball fans!

I was born on February 21, 1999, which means I was born in the same year that the Yankees won the World Series! I think this is really cool because the Yanks are my favorite team and it’s almost as if I was destined to root for them. With that in mind, here is a quick synopsis about my birth year World Series winners: the 1999 New York Yankees.

The ’99 Yankees came into the season with some big expectations, having won 114 games the previous season, an AL record at the time. They didn’t have a lot to improve on in the offseason, considering the team was loaded with stars, but the one key transaction the Bronx Bombers made was trading for Roger Clemens in a four-player trade that most notably sent Yankee fan favorite David Wells to the Blue Jays. Clemens was the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and although he had a down year for his standards, the rest of the Yankee pitchers were solid. They averaged 4.13 runs allowed per game, which was good for second in the American League. Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez led the starting staff with 17 wins, David Cone pitched a perfect game on July 18, and Mariano Rivera collected a league-leading 45 saves.

The Yankee hitting was good as always, placing in the top ten as a team in runs scored, hits, and batting average. Derek Jeter, Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, and Bernie Williams all had over 100 RBIs and Jeter and Williams each batted over .340. Other notable hitters in the lineup included Chuck Knoblauch, who kept up his larcenous ways by stealing 28 bases, and Chili Davis who hit 19 home runs and drove in 78 runs. By season’s end, New York ended up with the best record in the American League with 98 wins. The Yanks would sweep the Rangers in the ALDS, beat the Red Sox in the ALCS in five games, and sweep the NL champion Braves in the World Series to extend their World Series winning streak to twelve straight games.

It wasn’t as awesome as the 1998 season, but the ’99 squad was still scary good. What MLB team won the World Series in your birth year? Leave your comments in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

 

How Well Did Jackie Robinson Do on April 15th?

Hey baseball fans!

April 15th is one of the most important days of the baseball season, because it is on that date in 1947 that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. It was such a momentous occasion in not only baseball history, but also in sports and American history. But how well did Jackie Robinson actually do at the plate on Jackie Robinson Day? Thanks to some rummaging through the Dodgers’ schedules and box scores of the late ’40s and early ’50s, I have an answer.

Including the day that he broke the color barrier, Robinson actually didn’t do as well as some would think on April 15th throughout his career. He only played in five games on that date during his career, because MLB seasons back then sometimes started after April 15th. In those five April 15 games in which Jackie played, he only went 2-12 for a batting average of .167. However, there are some bright spots in his stat line on Jackie Robinson Days. For example, he walked on average once a game, which means that for every game he played on April 15, he was on base at least once. He hit his only Jackie Robinson Day home run on April 15, 1954 against the Pirates, which also plated home Pee Wee Reese. He only struck out once in those five games, which came in 1955 against the Giants. Lastly, and this is probably the coolest statistic, every time the Dodgers played on April 15 with Jackie in the lineup, they won!! So maybe Jackie could’ve done better on his day personally, but the Dodgers as a team did really well.

Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

How is a .435 Winning Percentage Good?!

Hey baseball fans!

Catcher Gary Sanchez of the New York Yankees has just finished one of the greatest months for a rookie in MLB history. I mean, seriously, hitting 11 home runs is impressive even for a ten-year veteran! In honor of Gary Sanchez’s historic rookie month in the Bronx, here is a look at one of the most historic inaugural campaigns for a franchise in MLB history.

The Los Angeles Angels and Washington Senators entered the American League in 1961. It was the first year of the new 162-game season format, so naturally everyone expected both expansion franchises to lose at least 100 games each, which actually didn’t end up being true for both franchises. The Senators fulfilled the predictions by many by losing exactly 100 games in their first season as a team. However, the Angels ended up with a 70-91 record (they weren’t in contention for the postseason, so one of their games wasn’t rescheduled) and that .435 winning percentage is the best winning percentage for any expansion franchise in their first season in the World Series era. The ironic thing about the Angels is that they would have to wait another 40 years before they won their first World Series, while the Mets, who finished 40-120 in their first season in 1962, won their first championship in 1969. Sorry Angels, but just remember that good things come to those who wait.

Do you think an expansion team in today’s MLB could finish with a record better than the 1961 Angels? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

My Top Five Cities for Future MLB Franchises

Hey baseball fans!

With other professional sports leagues expanding and some even becoming more international, like the NHL and NFL, respectively, here is my list of the top five cities in the U.S. and abroad where future MLB franchises should play:

Number Five: Mexico City, Mexico

Why? Like I said before: going international is trending in sports right now and baseball is one of Mexico’s most popular sports. Mexico City has a population of around 20 million people, a little bit more than twice that of New York City and it’s also the capital of Mexico, meaning that putting an MLB team there will only increase the MLB’s popularity around the world.

Number Four: Oklahoma City

Why? OKC only has one professional American sports team right now and, in my opinion, its best years are behind it. Sorry Thunder fans. Additionally, arguably one of the biggest rivalries in baseball right now is between the Rangers and Astros, two Texas teams that have never won a World Series title. Throw another southwestern team into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a very exciting three-team war.

Number Three: New Orleans

Why? There are plenty of great Hall of Famers from the South, like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and a multitude of others. I’m sure the New Orleans Superdome would sell out for many New Orleans baseball games and one of the Big Easy’s most famous characteristics is the same as that of baseball players: being very superstitious.

Number Two: Las Vegas

Why? Prior to the announcement of the new NHL team, there was no professional American sports teams in Sin City and native Las Vegans like Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant have really put the Nevada city on the MLB map. Putting an expansion franchise there would only make the Vegas night life even more exciting, as long as you’re not busy gambling.

Number One: Montreal, Canada

Why? You should’ve seen this coming. Ever since the Expos left Montreal for Washington, D.C., everyone has wanted to see another franchise in the French Canadian city. I mean seriously, the Blue Jays had a packed house at two Spring Training games at Olympic Stadium this past spring. If that doesn’t scream “We deserve an MLB team,” then I don’t know what does.

Do you agree with my picks? Let me know in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

By the way, if you liked my post, maybe you’d also be interested in checking out my book on baseball history, Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers. I’m even giving all of the money to four baseball-related charities.

 

Baseball and Softball in the Olympics

Hey baseball fans!

Baseball and softball will officially be back in the Olympic Games in Tokyo during the 2020 Summer Olympics! I am so excited to watch the world’s best play in Japan. Here is a brief history of Olympic baseball and softball.

For the longest time, the two sports were only considered recreational in the Olympics. There were no medals awarded for the best team and the sports didn’t really gain the recognition they deserved. However, there were some instances that made it apparent that baseball should have been an Olympic sport sooner than it actually became one. An exhibition game between two American teams during the 1936 Berlin Games was watched live by around 100,000 people, almost double the seating capacity at Yankee Stadium, and an exhibition game between the U.S. and Australia during the 1956 Melbourne Games was watched live by 114,000 people, the largest attendance for a baseball game ever to that date.

The 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles were the first games to have a tournament for baseball, but the sport was still considered an exhibition and no medals were awarded for first place Japan or second place United States. The two countries flip-flopped positions in the ’88 Seoul Games, but still no official medals were given out. Finally, baseball became an official Olympic sport in time for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, while softball became one for the ’96 Games in Atlanta. Both sports had eight team round-robin tournaments. The teams with the most wins would face off in semifinals and finals. However, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) voted baseball and softball out of the Olympics for the 2012 Games in London, becoming the first sports to be voted out of the Olympics since polo was eliminated from the 1936 Games. But baseball and softball will be back for the 2020 Tokyo Games after the IOC approved their return on August 3, 2016.

Cuba won the gold in baseball in 1992, 1996, and 2004, while the U.S. took gold in 2000 and South Korea in 2008. Other teams to have placed in the top three include Australia (silver in ’04), Chinese Taipei (silver in ’92) and Japan (silver in ’96 and bronze in ’92 and ’04). In softball, the U.S. won the first three golds, while Japan took gold in 2008. Australia and China have won the other medals during softball’s Olympic history. Pitcher Pedro Luiz Lazo for Cuba is the most decorated baseball Olympian, helping Cuba to four medals from 1996-2008. Pitcher Jennie Finch never lost a game for the U.S. softball team during Olympic play and was on the nation’s gold medal team in 2004 and silver medal team in 2008.


Who else is excited for baseball and softball in the Olympics? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

2001: An Ichiro Odyssey

Hey baseball fans!

The future is bright in the Bronx! Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge hit back-to-back home runs in their first major league at-bats on Saturday against the Rays, the first time that has ever happened in history. In honor of the Baby Bombers and a certain someone just getting to 3,000 hits, here is one of the greatest rookie seasons in MLB history.

Ichiro Suzuki was one of the greatest Nippon Professional Baseball hitters in the Japanese baseball league’s history. Playing for the Orix Blue Wave from 1992-2000, Ichiro batted an astounding .353! His name became known around the baseball world and before the 2001 MLB season, he signed with the Seattle Mariners. Everyone knew he was a star in the making, but no one could’ve ever predicted the year he was going to have in 2001.

The 27-year-old MLB rookie led the league in the following categories: plate appearances (738), at-bats (692), stolen bases (56), batting average (.350), and base hits (242). He became the first player since Jackie Robinson in 1949 to lead the league in batting average and stolen bases in the same season. Ichiro was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, became the first rookie to receive the most votes for the All Star Game due to the MLB allowing voting in Japan, and became the first Rookie of the Year Award winner since Fred Lynn in 1975 to win the MVP in the same year. He is also the only hitter in baseball history to win the RoY, MVP, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, and start in the All Star Game in the same season. Honestly, Ichiro’s rookie campaign was just magical.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention; Suzuki helped his Mariners win 116 games, the most in the American League ever. Sadly, Seattle lost to the Yankees in the 2001 ALCS and are still the only AL team to never reach the World Series. However, Ichiro Suzuki will forever be known as one of if not the greatest hitter in the history of the Seattle Mariners and it all started during that legendary rookie year. Congrats on 3,000, Ichiro. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

The Dominant Ballplayers of My Generation

Hey baseball fans!

Ichiro Suzuki has 3,000 career hits! I am so happy for him because this is a guy who I grew up watching for more than half of his great career. This got me thinking: who are some of my favorite current MLB players whose entire careers I’ve grown up watching since I started following baseball back in 2007? Here are a few in no particular order:

Number One: Dustin Pedroia

Pedroia has always been one of my favorite players in baseball playing now because I was a baseball fan rookie when he was an MLB rookie. I’ve seen him evolve into the All Star and MVP that he is today and have always respected him, even though he’s on the Red Sox. One of the best second baseman in baseball, Pedroia has not just captivated me since 2007, but many other baseball fans across the nation. A .298 career batting average is pretty darn good.

Number Two: Andrew McCutchen

I remember when Cutch was lighting up Pittsburgh in 2009 and I could tell right then and there that he was going to be a star, but I didn’t know what he would specialize in. To my surprise, he is great at all aspects of the game. He’s batted over .300, hit more than 30 homers, stole more than 25 bases, been to multiple All Star Games, won many Gold Gloves and Silver Slugger Awards, and was even an MVP in 2013. He’s a real five-tool player and it’s been really cool to see him dominate the game in so many ways.

Number Three: Clayton Kershaw

I mean, he’s the best pitcher in baseball and it’s not even close. It seems impossible that a pitcher today could have a career ERA of 2.39, but that’s exactly what Kershaw’s is. The LA Dodger has been intimidating hitters since 2008 and I actually remember when he was just good and not legendary. All I know is I would not want to face him in a live game or even batting practice.

Numbers Four and Five: Mike Trout and Bryce Harper

The 1980s had Mike Schmidt and George Brett and the 2010s have Trout and Harper. The 2012 Rookies of the Year in the AL and NL, respectively, have torn up baseball since they joined the league. Trout has had a bit more success overall, but they’re pretty even nowadays. This is the prime battle between two young players at the same position in current baseball over who is the best and I hope it continues for many years to come. When these guys came into the league, they were so hyped up, and now I know that this is justified. Some players, they are.

Who are some of your favorite players that you grew up watching? Write your comments in the comments section. Thanks so much for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

My Top Five Favorite New York Mets of All Time

Hey baseball fans!

Last post, I promised you a Mike Piazza-themed post today. Well, here it is: my top five favorite New York Mets in baseball history.

Number Five : Mookie Wilson
Why? Look, he’s no Hall of Famer, but without him hitting that grounder towards first base in the bottom of the tenth with two outs in Game Six of the 1986 World Series, one of my favorite plays in baseball history would have never happened. He’s a fan favorite in Flushing and for good reason; 327 steals in 12 seasons in the Majors is not too shabby.

Number Four: David Wright
Why? I’ve grown up watching Wright play third base for the Mets and even though he has become very injury-prone in recent years, Mets fans still love him. He’s essentially a version of Derek Jeter, but for the Mets, so how can you not love him? Yes, this is a biased pick, but his statistics are pretty stellar. In 13 years in the MLB, he’s made seven All Star Games, bats .296 lifetime (which is better than Hall of Famers Duke Snider and Barry Larkin), and has hit 242 homers.

Number Three: Mike Piazza
Why? Statistically, he’s the most powerful catcher in the history of the MLB and his 12 All Star Games and 1993 NL Rookie of the Year only help his cause. He would definitely be higher if not for my obligatory hatred towards him because of the little incident with him and Roger Clemens in the 2000 World Series.

Number Two: Gary Carter
Why? Carter is arguably one of the most beloved players in Mets history. This catching predecessor to Piazza surely left the 2016 Hall of Fame inductee with big shoes to fill. Carter made the All Star Game 11 times, hit 324 career homers, drove in 1,225 runs, and was an important contributor to the Mets’ 1986 World Series run.

Number One: Tom Seaver
Why? I never understood why Seaver had the highest Hall of Fame voting percentage (before this year) until I looked at his career stats: a 2.86 ERA, 311 wins, 3,640 strikeouts, 12 All Star Games, and three Cy Young Awards. Wow. Just wow!!

Honorable Mentions: Nolan Ryan, Francisco Rodriguez, Dwight Gooden, Yoenis Cespedes



Do you agree with my picks? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

The All-Time Home Run Derby

Hey baseball fans!

Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mike Piazza are officially MLB Hall of Famers. This post is going to be Griffey-themed, while the next one will be Piazza-themed. Anyway, Ken Griffey, Jr. was an amazing home run hitter, but how would he do in a Home Run Derby against the hitters with the top eight career home run totals in baseball history (he is number six all time, by the way)? Here are my predictions on the aforementioned event.

The Quarterfinals:
Matchup One: Barry Bonds (1) vs. Sammy Sosa (8)
Who would win? In their heydays, Sosa and Bonds were two of the best home run hitters ever, but Bonds only had one year of over 60 homers in a season, while Sosa had three. They both also have one Home Run Derby title each, but Sosa placed in second in two others. So, folks, this matchup ends in an upset. Sosa moves on!

Matchup Two: Hank Aaron (2) vs. Jim Thome (7)
Who would win? Thome finished second in the ’98 Derby to Griffey, but Aaron just has more power. Even though Hammerin’ Hank never participated in one of these tournaments, I think he still takes this one. Aaron moves on!

Matchup Three: Babe Ruth (3) vs. Ken Griffey, Jr. (6)
Who would win? Griffey has won the most Home Run Derbies of all time with three titles, but Ruth would have ate up the spotlight and would probably break some HRD records along the way because of that.  Ruth moves on!

Matchup Four: Alex Rodriguez (4) vs. Willie Mays (5)
Who would win? A-Rod has never finished first or second in a Home Run Derby in his career and, on top of that, Mays probably would have ate up the spotlight like Ruth, due to his exuberant personality. The crowd would’ve pulled for Mays and that momentum would carry the Say Hey Kid over Rodriguez. Mays moves on!

The Semis:
Matchup One: Willie Mays (5) vs. Sammy Sosa (8)
Who would win? Two outgoing personalities. One spot in the finals. I think experience really matters in this competition as you get to the later rounds, so as much as I’m rooting for Willie, I’m going to give this one to Sammy because of his previous Home Run Derbies. Sosa moves on!

Matchup Two: Hank Aaron (2) vs. Babe Ruth (3)
Who would win? This one is pretty tough, to be honest. These two guys both hit so many home runs and, in my opinion, are pretty even in this stage of the competition. The only way to predict who would win is to analyze their career slugging percentages, a category in which Ruth is the all-time leader. Ruth moves on!

The Final Round:
Matchup One: Babe Ruth (3) vs. Sammy Sosa (8)

Who would win? This round is pretty one-sided. Everyone in the stadium would be pulling for the Babe and, naturally, he’d come up in the clutch. No contest.
RUTH WINS!

Would you also predict the Sultan of Swat to win the All-Time Home Run Derby? Let me know in the comments section down below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

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