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.”

MLB Expansion: The Nadel Rules

Hey baseball fans!

NBA2K17 just announced that you will now be able to expand the NBA in the video game’s “MyGM” mode. Considering MLB expansion has been a pretty prevalent topic over the last several months in newspapers across the nation, I thought it would be a good time to give you all of my rules on how MLB expansion should work for incoming teams.

1. Team location, name, and color schemes will be decided at least one full season prior to the offseason in which they will officially join the league.

2. There would need to be two teams added at once to keep the balance of the number of teams between the two leagues.

3. The two teams would get five draft selections per round in the MLB Draft directly prior to the season they are set to join the league to build up their farm system. In the next MLB Draft, they would get two draft picks per round. The places in which they would pick would be decided by a lottery.

4. Once the offseason’s Winter Meetings have ended during the offseason before the two expansion teams begin their inaugural seasons, the already-existing MLB teams will get to save eight position players and seven pitchers. The expansion teams will then pick the players they want from the existing teams, except for the saved players.

5. There is one exception to the above rule. The players in the previous All Star Game “final vote” would be able to join the team in their league if they weren’t a free agent and if the expansion team actually wants them. For example, if a new American League expansion team wants to sign Rays’ third baseman Evan Longoria next offseason, they can do so as long as Longo says he wants to join the team. Then, his former team would have to restructure his contract to allow him to leave. An expansion team would be allowed to sign only one of these “final vote” players per league.

6. The MLB standings would be rearranged so that there are four divisions per league with each division having four teams. There would still be two Wild Cards per league and the playoffs would be structured like that of the NFL.

What do you think of my new rules? Would you implement them? Let me know in the comments section below. 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.”

Potential MLB Award Names?

Hey baseball fans!

Yesterday, during the pre-game ceremonies of the 87th annual MLB All Star Game, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred officially announced that the AL and NL batting titles have been renamed after Rod Carew and Tony Gwynn, respectively, two of the best hitters in baseball history. This got me thinking: what other awards could be named/created after former players? Here are some of the ones I came up with:

League leader in home runs: Mike Schmidt Home Run Award
Why? Some people would have Babe Ruth here, but I have him for another award. Schmidt is second all time only to Ruth in career home run titles with eight and is 16th on the all-time home run list with 548 career dingers.

League leader in slugging percentage: Babe Ruth Slugging King
Why? Ruth is number one all time in terms of career slugging percentage (.690) and led the league in slugging percentage 13 times. Also, the winner of this award would be called the “slugging king” because Ruth had many regal nicknames, most famously the “Sultan of Swat.”

League leader in saves: Mariano Rivera Saves Award
Why? Rivera is the all-time leader in saves, games finished, and ERA+. Enough said.

Best player on a non-playoff team: Ernie Banks Award
Why? Banks never got to play in the playoffs, let alone the World Series, yet he was always in the MVP conversation and won the award twice. Because the MVP is usually given to a ballplayer on a winning club, this award is designed especially for hitters and pitchers who don’t get to go to the postseason, but still had an unbelievable year.

Manager with most wins in a given season: Connie Mack Award
Why? Mack is the winningest manager in baseball history and it’s not even close. He collected 3,731 career managerial wins, while second place John McGraw only won 2,763 games as a manager.

Should these awards be renamed/implemented into the MLB record books? Let me know what you think of the names 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.”

 

An Interview with 1996 ALCS hero, Jeffrey Maier

Hey baseball fans!

Who’s ready for another Baseball with Matt interview?! I know I am. This time, it’s with Jeff Maier! Derek Jeter and/or Yankee fans definitely know that name, but for those of you who don’t know him, allow me to explain.

It was Game One of the 1996 ALCS at Yankee Stadium, where the Yanks were hosting the Baltimore Orioles. Both teams had not been to a World Series since the 1980s and were yearning for a trip back to the Fall Classic. Derek Jeter, the Yankees’ rookie starting shortstop at the time, came up to bat in the bottom of the eighth inning with one out with New York down 4-3 facing Orioles reliever Armando Benitez. On the first pitch of the at-bat, Jeter sent a high fly ball to deep right field. Orioles right fielder Tony Tarasco ran back to the warning track to make the catch and settled under the fly ball in time to do so. However, from the stands, a 12-year-old boy by the name of Jeff Maier reached over the wall and brought the ball into the stands.

Technically, this play should’ve been called an out on account of fan interference, no questions about it. Just click here to see for yourself. Despite the obviousness, right field umpire Rich Garcia called it a home run, probably because he was looking at Tarasco and didn’t see Maier reach his glove over the wall. Tarasco, Benitez, and Orioles manager Davey Johnson all protested the call, but it was ultimately upheld. The Yankees would go on to win the game, series, and World Series that year, their first championship since 1978. The Yankees made some other clutch plays throughout their playoff run, but most people cite Maier’s incident as the catalyst for the Yankees’ late-1990s dynasty.

So now that you know a little bit about Jeff Maier, here’s the interview:

Matt: When did you start getting into baseball? Did you play as a kid?
Jeff: As early as 4 years old. Yes I played from TBall through college.

Matt: Who was your favorite Yankee on the ’96 squad?
Jeff: Jeter.

Matt: How much of a chance did you think the Yankees had in the ’96 playoffs?
Jeff: They were a very good team. Most folks likely had Atlanta favored. The Yankees added key pieces as the year unfolded. They were gritty and a special group.

Matt: Describe what was going through your mind during Jeter’s at-bat and when his fly ball flew in your direction.
Jeff: I knew with a hard throwing righty like Benitez and a batter like Jeter who had a knack for hitting the ball to the opposite field that there was a chance for action in right field. Once the ball was in the air; I can’t remember much. I’d like to think most folks (children or adults) would have similar instincts take over in pursuit of a potential foul ball or HR souvenir.

Matt: What was the atmosphere like in your section after your catch and the homer?
Jeff: Pretty raucous. Lots of folks cheering and high-fiving.

Matt: How did the national attention affect you after the incident?
Jeff: I have terrific parents that kept me and the situation grounded. Long term; I’d like to think that it didn’t impact or alter the man I am or have become. Short term; I think it forced me to mature and experience something most 12 year olds will not.

Matt: Do you keep in touch with Jeter today?
Jeff: No, but I hope he is enjoying retirement and new challenges with the Players Tribune and other post-career hobbies.

Matt: How influential do you think the incident was in jump starting the Yankees’ dynasty of the late ’90s and early ’00s?
Jeff: They were a great team and subsequently an amazing core group of players that did incredible things on the field. I’m sure winning that game was helpful; but they were special and destined to do great things nonetheless.

Thanks for reading this interview and I hope you enjoyed it. And a very special thank you to Jeff for such a great interview!! Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

July 4th Fell on a Monday

Hey baseball fans!

Yesterday was July 4th! Happy birthday, America! To celebrate the anniversary of the birth of our nation, here is a little patriotic story about America’s pastime.

The date was April 24, 1976 and the Cubs were playing the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Rick Monday started in center field that day for Chicago. Entering the bottom of the fourth, the Cubs were up 1-0, when suddenly, two men walked into center field with the intention of burning an American flag. Monday was throwing a ball with his fellow outfielders to practice for the upcoming inning, but as soon as he saw these two men about to burn the flag, he ran over and snatched it from them. He ran from the outfield all the way to the Dodgers dugout and handed the flag to Dodger pitcher, Doug Rau. Here’s the link to the video.

When Monday stepped out to bat in the top of the fifth, he received a standing ovation from the LA crowd. On the message board of Dodger Stadium, it read in capitalized letters, “RICK MONDAY… YOU MADE A GREAT PLAY…” The two men, William Thomas and his 11-year-old son, were fined and charged for trespassing. The Dodgers would go on to win the game by a final score of 5-4 on a walk-off, tenth-inning single by Ron Cey, but really, it was America that won that day.

Rick Monday never put up Hall of Fame numbers, but that moment will forever be engraved in baseball history as one of the most patriotic acts any ballplayer has ever done on the field. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

A BwM Book Review: Nine Innings to Success by Jim Palmer and Alan Maimon

Hey baseball fans!

Jim Palmer, one of the best pitchers of all time, accompanied by Alan Maimon, had his new book published about a month ago called “Nine Innings to Success: A Hall of Famer’s Approach to Achieving Excellence.” I just finished it, and boy was it good!!

“Nine Innings to Success” discusses Jim Palmer’s working life, from when he was an All Star on the field to an All Star in the booth. His stories are funny, sad, and inspirational all at the same time, but the best part about this book was the ‘nine innings.’ Palmer has a certain way he does things and he highlights that way in a clear-cut fashion in this book. Because the book is about Jim Palmer, the things he does must be working. Included in his success story are anecdotes about other sports legends, like fellow Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. and fellow broadcaster Al Michaels, and lessons he learned from other people along the way, like his longtime Hall of Fame Orioles manager Earl Weaver. From the corporate world to public speaking, Palmer goes into depth on how his to-do list to success works in a multitude of fields and justifies his points by, you know, being Jim Palmer.

As someone who will be going to college soon, this book really helped me out a lot. It has changed how I think about carrying myself and taught me some valuable life lessons that I will be using in many situations to come. The book really makes you say: “If I follow these steps, I can be as successful as Jim Palmer,” which says a lot. It bestows confidence in you while also giving you a checklist of what to do to be the best and how to do it. I enjoyed reading “Nine Innings to Success” not just because it was a good book to read, but because it’s a good book to follow for the future.

I definitely recommend buying this book, which you can do on Amazon by clicking here. Thanks for reading this book review and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

The “Maddux”

Hey baseball fans!

Last Sunday, Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels pitched the first “Maddux” of 2016! I know, when I read that he did that, I didn’t know what a “Maddux” was either. After some research, I found that a “Maddux,” named after the great Greg Maddux, happens when a pitcher pitches a complete game shutout while only throwing 99 pitches or less. The term was coined by journalist Jason Lukehart, who loved to watch the Atlanta Braves legendary pitcher play, in 1998, when he came across a game in which Maddux pitched a complete game shutout while using less than 100 pitches.

The the top five pitchers who have pitched a “Maddux” the most in the Maddux Era (1988-present) are as follows:

1. Greg Maddux   13

2. Zane Smith        7

3. Bob Tewksbury 6

t4. Tom Glavine     5

t4. Roy Halladay    5

To finish up this post on a new and cool statistic, here are five facts about pitchers pitching a “Maddux.”

1. The active leaders in pitching a “Maddux” are Henderson Alvarez, Bartolo Colon, and James Shields, who each have four.

2. Obviously, walks are pretty detrimental when it comes to pitching a “Maddux,” which explains why 57.7% of them (172 of 298) have been accomplished walk-less.

3. Roy Halladay pitched the only extra inning “Maddux” on September 6, 2003 against the Tigers. He went ten innings on 99 pitches that day and his Blue Jays won, 1-0.

4. Don Larsen’s perfect game in Game Five of the 1956 World Series was a “Maddux,” having only thrown 97 pitches that day in the Yankee win. In fact, there have been four other “Maddux” perfect games. Those were thrown by Dennis Martinez, Kenny Rogers, David Cone, and Philip Humber.

5. John Lieber holds the record for the fewest pitches pitched during a “Maddux” with 78. This amazing performance came on May 24, 2001 when he was pitching for the Cubs against the Reds. He held Cincinnati to just one hit all game.

Isn’t this an interesting stat? I certainly think so. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

Five of the Greatest-Hitting Pitchers Ever

Hey baseball fans!

Recently, NL pitchers Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta have been asking the MLB to include them in the Home Run Derby during the All Star festivities in mid-July. This got me thinking: who are some of the greatest hitting pitchers in baseball history? Well, here are five of those pitchers in no particular order.

Number One: Don Larsen
Why? Yeah, the guy who pitched the only perfect game in World Series history in 1956 with the Yankees wasn’t that bad of a hitter. He batted .242 in 596 career at-bats with an astounding slugging percentage (for a pitcher) of .371.

Number Two: Carlos Zambrano
Why? Zambrano may have been mostly known for his fire on the mound, but he could hit with fire, too. His six home runs in 2006 tied a Cubs franchise record, first set by Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins in 1971. Big Z actually hit out 24 home runs during his rocky career, which ranks tied for seventh on the all-time list of most homers hit by a pitcher.

Number Four: Don Drysdale
Why? He’s in the Hall of Fame for his pitching ability, but his 29 career home runs sit right atop Zambrano on the all-time list. He reached double-digit RBIs in five seasons, posting a high of 19 in 1965.

Number Two: Walter Johnson
Why? Johnson, one of the greatest pitching pitchers of all time, is also one of the best hitting pitchers of all time. His 23 homers and 255 RBIs can only be described as legendary. He batted a career-high .433 at the age of 36 in 1925 with 20 RBIs in only 97 at-bats. Wow!

Number Five: Wes Ferrell
Why? Wes Ferrell was such a great hitter that his position description on his Baseball Reference page reads, “Pitcher and Pinch Hitter.” His 38 career home runs are tops among all pitchers in history and his .280 lifetime batting average is not too shabby as well.

Honorable Mention: Bartolo Colon
Why? Because it’s Bartolo Colon.

If these pitchers along with other great-hitting pitchers participated in a Home Run Derby of their own, what do you think would happen? 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.”

Boy, Could That Fish Pitch!

Hey baseball fans!

Hall of Fame pitchers pitch for a long time, on average. Usually, their careers last about 20 years, which is a sufficient amount of time to pick up as many accolades as possible. However, there are a couple of pitchers who have pitched for a lot less than 20 years and are still immortalized in Cooperstown, one of them being the great Catfish Hunter.

Jim Hunter, better known as Catfish for his love of catching catfish, was awesome. His career from 1965-1979 with the Kansas City/Oakland A’s and New York Yankees may have been short for a Hall of Famer, but it featured so many accomplishments, it’s hard to remember all of them. Hunter actually didn’t start off too well, as he began his career with five straight seasons of a .500-or-less winning percentage. Nonetheless, he still made two All Star appearances in 1966 and 1967 as a member of the Athletics. In 1970, his numbers started to look good, posting an 18-14 record and getting another All Star appearance. From that season on, he was unstoppable.

From 1971-1975, he never won less than 21 games in a season and his highest ERA during the 5-year span was 3.34. He even led the league in ERA in 1974 with a 2.49 ERA. That season, Hunter won 25 games and the AL Cy Young Award. After the 1974 season, Hunter became one of the first must-have pitchers in the free agent era. He ended up signing with the Yankees and played for them for five seasons. His first season with the Yanks saw his last year of 20 or more wins, but he still led the league with 23 of them. He would continue to dominate on the mound until his retirement in 1979. He finished his career with a record of 224-166 with a 3.26 ERA.

Hunter’s playoff performances were also pretty solid. He appeared in six World Series, three with the A’s and three with the Yankees, and posted a record of 5-3 with a 3.29 ERA. His best World Series was in 1974. After saving Game One, he started Game Three and put up a masterful performance. Hunter went 7 1/3 innings, allowed only one earned run, and struck out four in an eventual 3-2 A’s win over the Dodgers. Because of his great pitching and the juggernaut teams he played with, he won five World Series championships during his career. Oh, and I haven’t even gotten to his best career accomplishment: his perfect game! Hunter started for the A’s on May 8, 1968 at home against the Twins. That day, he didn’t allow a single runner to reach first base and struck out 11 batters. He was just 22 years old when he pitched the perfecto, making him the youngest pitcher even to throw a perfect game in the World Series era.

Hunter, deservedly so, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987 and has his #27 retired by the A’s. I hope you enjoyed this post and thanks for reading it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

Baseball as Good Medicine

Hey baseball fans!

Last month, I was asked to speak at the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC where the theme was Yankees v. Red Sox and how baseball is good medicine. All the proceeds from the event went to the Made Visible Foundation charity.  There were six speakers (no poems were required) and, guess what?? I actually won!! It was a lot of fun and I would definitely do it again.

Here’s a link to the video of the event highlights. Check it out.

And tune in again soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

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