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.”

DiMaggio’s Streak Will Never Fall!

Hey baseball fans!

Jackie Bradley Jr. of the Boston Red Sox just had his hitting streak stopped at 29 games last night against the Rockies. With this streak stopped, let’s take a look back at some historic hitting streaks since Joe DiMaggio’s record-setting 56 consecutive games with at least one base hit.

Pete Rose came very close to breaking Willie Keeler’s NL record for consecutive games with a hit, but only tied the record at 44 games in 1978. Rose had a chance to extend the streak against the Braves on August 1, but he went 0-4 with a strikeout in a 16-4 Atlanta drubbing of Rose’s Reds.

Paul Molitor had a decent 39-game hitting streak going in 1987, but it came to an end on August 26, 1987 in interesting fashion. Molitor led off for the Milwaukee Brewers on that day against the Indians at home, but didn’t have a hit through nine innings. However, the game remained tied at zero and went into extras. Molitor had a chance to be up in the bottom of the tenth, but pinch hitter Rick Manning hit a walk-off single to give the Brew Crew the win over Cleveland with Molitor warming up on deck. Brewers fans were very angry that Molitor couldn’t extend his streak, but the Brewers star’s 39-game hitting streak is the longest since Rose’s 44-game hitting streak.

There are four players who have had 34-game hitting streaks in their careers, but the only one I want to mention is Dom DiMaggio’s. If the last name doesn’t sound familiar, Dom was Joe’s brother and was an All Star for the Red Sox (ironically). Dom DiMaggio’s hitting streak of 34 games could’ve been elongated, but Joe had to step in to preserve his record. On August 9, 1949, the Yankees and their DiMaggio rolled into Boston to face the Red Sox and their DiMaggio at Fenway Park. Dom had a good chance to continue his streak, but Joe robbed him of a hit with a spectacular catch in center field.

Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak will probably never be broken, but if there is one player who is currently playing in the MLB who has a chance at doing it, I’d say it’s Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros. Who do you think could get a hit in 57 straight games? 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.”

A BwM Book Review: “50 Moments That Defined Major League Baseball” by Rocco Constantino

Hey baseball fans!

As you can probably tell from my posts, I love lists, which is why I was so excited when I was asked to read and review the book, “50 Moments That Defined Major League Baseball” by Rocco Constantino. Constantino is an NCAA athletics administrator at Bloomfield College and baseball historian, but he also does some freelance writing and this book shows how good of a writer and journalist he really is.

“50 Moments That Defined Major League Baseball” is a book that does exactly as advertised: tells the reader 50 moments in baseball history that were so iconic, that they changed the way America’s pastime is perceived and played. The book includes all of the regulars, like Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, and Hank Aaron and their respective milestones, but it also includes some pretty obscure names and moments that the average young baseball fan probably wouldn’t know, like Dave Stieb’s numerous attempts at pitching a perfect game or Mark “The Bird” Fidrych’s quirks that made him a national superstar on the mound. But no matter what the topic is, Constantino does a great job at narrating the scene, telling the reader why the moment is so captivating and why it has altered baseball’s future. One of my favorite chapters in the book is about Mike Schmidt’s 500th home run because Constantino eloquently captures what Schmidt, who is my favorite player in baseball history, meant to the city of Philadelphia, the city in which the Hall of Fame third baseman played his entire career, and how he saved the Phillies’ franchise.

One of the ways that Constantino conveys his messages about each moment is via interviews. The book has a lot of them and each contribute to the telling of any of the 50 stories in their own unique ways. Some of the interviews are with a subject’s teammate or rival or even an umpire that witnessed the story firsthand. The perspectives that the reader is given while reading the book are both fun to read and interesting. The reader gets a better view on the magnitude of the event, which I enjoyed a lot.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about baseball, wants to relive past memories of the game, or anything in between. The 50 stories are great on their own and collectively they show why America has loved baseball for over a century. Thanks for reading this book review. If you’d like to pick up the book on Amazon, click here. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

The 20-Strikeout Performances

Hey baseball fans!

The other day, Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals struck out 20 Detroit Tigers in a 3-2 Nationals win, tying the record for the most single-game strikeouts in baseball history! But who is he tied with and how many people? Well, in this post, I will explore the answer to that question.

Roger Clemens twice struck out 20 batters in a game. The first year was 1986, the year he made his first All Star Game and won his first of a record seven Cy Young Awards. On April 29, 1986, Clemens started at Fenway Park against the Seattle Mariners, a team that would finish the ’86 campaign with the second-worst record in the major: 67-95. Clemens mowed through the Mariners’ lineup with ease, striking out each starting player at least once. Seattle left fielder Phil Bradley actually struck out a team-high four times that day. The Red Sox ended up winning the game, 3-1, and Clemens got his fourth win out of the 24 eventual wins he would collect in 1986.

Fast forward to September 18, 1996, where Clemens would again strike out 20 batters, this time against the Detroit Tigers, who, in 1996, posted one of the worst win-loss records in baseball history at 53-109. Once again, Clemens struck out each member of the Tigers’ starting lineup at least once, with the strikeout leader being shortstop Travis Fryman with four strikeouts on the night. The win marked Clemens’s tenth win on the season and the 78th win for the Sox.

Before Scherzer, the last 20-strikeout performance in a game was by Kerry Wood of the Chicago Cubs against the Houston Astros on May 6, 1998. Unlike Clemens’s 20-strikeout games, Wood struck out every single batter who appeared for the Astros at least once, pinch hitters and all. Actually, had Wood not given up a single to Ricky Gutierrez in the top of the third, he would’ve pitched a perfect game. The Cubs ended up winning the ballgame (obviously) by a final score of 2-0, as Wood picked up his third win of the young season.

I almost forgot to mention: Randy Johnson collected 20 strikeouts against the Reds on May 8, 2001 while pitching for the Diamondbacks, but he actually let up an earned run and the game went to extras tied at one. The D-Backs eventually won the game, but Johnson didn’t get to win. So yes, he did reach the 20-strikeout milestone, but he didn’t get the “W.”

Some performances, huh? Seriously, congratulations to Max Scherzer for join such a exclusive club! Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

The Crime Dog

Hey baseball fans!

Lou Gehrig sure did play in a lot of consecutive games, 2,130 to be exact, and during that time, he hit a lot of home runs, 493 to be exact. Actually, Gehrig shares his spot on the all-time home run list with  a hitter who isn’t in the Hall of Fame, but scared pitchers to death when they faced him. His name is Fred McGriff.

Fred “Crime Dog” McGriff played for 19 years in the MLB from 1986-2004 with the Blue Jays, Padres, Braves, Cubs, Dodgers and Rays. The five-time All Star first baseman was feared by pitchers all across baseball for one reason and one reason only: his power. In 15 seasons, McGriff hit 20 or more home runs and, in ten of those years, hit 30 or more home runs, leading the league in the category in 1989 and 1992. But he wasn’t all about the long ball. McGriff scored 90 or more runs in four seasons and drove in 90+ runs in a season 12 times, with eight of those times being more than 100 RBIs. Of course, no hitter is complete without his ability to smack the ball all over the field, which Crime Dog could do as well. During his career, he collected 2,490 hits and batted .284 lifetime.

McGriff put up some great statistics, but what’s arguably more compelling about his career is the outcomes of the trades in which he was involved. First, after the 1990 season, the Blue Jays shipped him and Tony Fernandez to the Padres for future Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar and 1993 World Series hero Joe Carter. Without that trade, Alomar might not have a plaque in Cooperstown and the Jays wouldn’t have won the ’93 World Series. If you think I’m done with important trades involving the Tampa, Florida native, then you’re wrong! In July of 1993, Toronto traded McGriff to the Atlanta Braves. Without that trade, Atlanta probably wouldn’t have beaten out the San Francisco Giants in one of the tightest races for a divisional championship in baseball history. With the Braves in 1993, McGriff hit 19 home runs in 68 games and came in fourth in the MVP voting!

Like I mentioned before, Fred McGriff is not in the Hall of Fame, but hopefully, he will someday deservedly get into the Hall. I think he should get in because he was so close to 500 home runs and even if he didn’t make it to the big 5-0-0, he was still one of the best sluggers of his generation. 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 State MLB Standings (And Champion)

Hey baseball fans!

I recently saw this website that had the starting fielders, if the all-time greats of the game played for their home states. As I read this site (which you can access by clicking here), I thought to myself, “What would happen if these super-teams played each other in a 162-game season?” Well, I’m going to answer that question in this post. I’ve organized the 25 teams mentioned in the article into five divisions of five teams and predicted how each state would do based on the team listed in the article. So, without further ado, here are the All-Time Home State MLB Standings.

Northeast: 
Pennsylvania 99-63
Maryland 93-69
New York 89-73
New Jersey 86-76
Massachusetts 70-92

Southeast:
Alabama 102-60
Arkansas 85-77
Georgia 84-78
Florida 80-82
North Carolina 75-87

Midwest:
Ohio 95-67
Illinois 90-72
Minnesota 81-81
Michigan 73-89
Indiana 67-95

South:
West Virginia 85-77
Nebraska 83-79
Virginia 82-80
Oklahoma 81-81
Missouri 77-85

West:
California 104-58
Texas 93-69
Washington 80-82
Canada 75-87
Oregon 69-93

Now it’s time for the playoffs! The All-Time Home State MLB Playoffs will function like half of the regular MLB format. The five seed will play the four seed in a Wild Card round of one game and the winner of that game will face the number one seed in the best-of-five semi-finals. In the other semi-final, the two and three seeds will play and in the finals, the winners of the two semi-final series will face off in a best-of-seven series. The winner of the finals will be declared the champion.

Wild Card Round: 
Ohio beats West Virginia

Semi-Finals:
California beats Ohio in a sweep
Alabama beats Pennsylvania in five games

Finals: 
Alabama beats California in seven games

ALABAMA WINS!!!!!!

So why do I think that Alabama would win this league’s championship? It’s simple: Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. Enough said.
Do you agree with my predictions? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoy it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

 

Some Very Punny Hall of Fame Surnames

Hey baseball fans!

The MLB season is officially under way and baseball’s home run leader so far is a rookie for the Colorado Rockies named Trevor Story. When I saw Story’s home run numbers skyrocket, I could already envision all of the puns that Rockies fans could make when he hits one out of the park, like “It’s Story time!” or “Boy, do I have a Story for you!” But what if all Hall of Famers had punny surnames? Well, I’ve come up with some pretty good ones. Take a look!
Original Name: George Herman “Babe” Ruth
Punny Name: George Herman “Babe” Kingsley
Why? Ruth was the all-time home run king for a very long time and I’m sure actor Ben Kingsley would be more than happy to share his last name with one of the all-time greats in baseball history.
Original Name: Hank Aaron
Punny Name: Hank Hammerschmidt
Why? For those of you non-House of Cards fans, Tom Hammerschmidt is a journalist on the Netflix political drama and was casually nicknamed “The Hammer.” Wouldn’t you know it that Hank Aaron’s nickname was “Hammerin’ Hank?”
Original Name: Willie Mays
Punny Name: Willie Smiles
Why? It is impossible to find a video of “The Say Hey Kid” not smiling. Also, with this new name, people could say, “He’s all Smiles.”
Original Name: Stan Musial
Punny Name: Stan Mann
Why? His nickname was Stan the Man. Take out the “the” and the new punny name works.
Original Name: Randy Johnson
Punny Name: Randy Rocket
Why? He’s got a rocket for an arm, so I think this name fits.
Original Name: Dennis Eckersley
Punny Name: Dennis Clutch
Why? You have to be able to pitch in the clutch in order to be one of the greatest closers of all time, which is exactly what Eck did for his entire career. Fans would say, “He’s so clutch!”
Honorable Mention: Vin Scully
Punny Name: Vin Angel
Why? He’s been a broadcaster in the city of angels since 1958 and if I could use one word to describe Scully’s voice for broadcasting, it would be heavenly.
What other names can you come up with? 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 New York Football Yankees

Hey baseball fans!

Besides baseball, I am a very big football fan and I’ve always wondered where some of the greatest Yankees of all time would play on the football field. In today’s post, I’m going to create a Yankees football team. If you’d like me to do this with other teams, let me know in the comments section.

Quarterback: Lou Gehrig

Why? Gehrig isn’t known for his arm, but his leadership is unparalleled in not only Yankee history, but also baseball history. He would be the best two-minute drill quarterback ever because of his calm attitude and his strong management skills. And he played football at Columbia.

Running Back: Joe DiMaggio

Why? DiMaggio would glide across the field as a RB. His speed and elusiveness would easily get him 1,000+ yards a season.

Wide Receiver: Mickey Mantle

Why? He’s basically a clone of DiMaggio, but his catching ability is just a little better than The Yankee Clipper. He would be hampered by injuries, but when he’s healthy, he would be a star.

Tight End: Dave Winfield

Why? He’s a 6’6″ Gold Glove outfielder. Enough said.

Offensive Lineman: Jorge Posada

Why? There aren’t many “offensive lineman-big” Yankees, but Posada is a catcher, a position that requires the ability to block the plate, much like how an OL must block the quarterback. Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra would be in the conversation if they weighed over 200 pounds.

Defensive Lineman: Babe Ruth

Why? Ruth was pretty big, powerful, and wild. Even if he didn’t sack the quarterback at all, he would draw so much attention from opposing offensive lines because of his reputation that his fellow defensive linemen would breeze past the offensive line.

Linebacker: Bernie Williams

Why? Linebackers need to be quick, have tackling ability, and lead the defense at its core. What better person to choose than Williams, who was a powerful, agile staple in the Yankees outfield for 16 seasons?

Cornerback: Willie Randolph

Why? Cornerbacks don’t have to be so tall; they just need to be fast. Randolph is 5’11”, which is around the quintessential height for a CB, and was one of the greatest base stealers in Yankee history.

Safety: Derek Jeter

Why? Jeter was fast and aggressive when he played at shortstop, two qualities that are very necessary to be a Hall of Fame-worthy safety. His leadership skills would also benefit him a lot.

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.”

And if you’d like to read up some more on the Yankees, please check out my book on baseball history, Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers, which has a whole chapter on them. And all of my proceeds go to charity!! [Just click on the book name and it’ll take you right to its page on Amazon.]

My Award Predictions for the 2016 MLB Season

Hey baseball fans!

The 2016 MLB regular season has officially started, which means it’s time for my predictions for the major award winners for the 2016 MLB campaign.

AL MVP: Mike Trout, Angels

Why? He might not be on the best team in his division, but Trout has the numbers to be an MVP. In my opinion, Trout’s incredible stats will lead the Los Angeles Angels to a playoff spot, whether that be one of the two Wild Card spots or the AL West crown. I can see him batting over .300 with 40+ homers and 120+ RBIs.

NL MVP: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates

Why? One of the best all-around players in baseball, McCutchen should have a great, MVP-worthy 2016 season for two reasons. First, he’s the best outfielder out of the three outfielders that comprise arguably the best outfield in baseball (Cutch, Gregory Polanco, and Starling Marte). Second, he’s part of such a formidable lineup that even if he doesn’t lead the league in home runs, his RBIs, runs scored, batting average, and walks should all be up this year.

AL Cy Young Award: Felix Hernandez, Mariners

Why? King Felix has consistently been a Cy Young candidate over the past couple of seasons, but hasn’t gotten the run support to back him up. Now, with Robinson Cano having an awesome Spring Training and start to the season, as long as King Felix continues to perform like he has in the past, he should be a Cy Young Award finalist and, most likely, the winner of the award.

NL Cy Young Award: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

Why? It’s plain and simple: he’s Clayton Kershaw. He’s the best pitcher in baseball. Period. And it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down any time soon.

AL Rookie of the Year: Byung-Ho Park, Twins

Why? Park, a designated hitter from Korea signed by the Twins this past offseason, is an experienced, slugging Korean superstar who hit 50+ home runs the last two season in the Korean Baseball Organization. If those stats don’t translate into MLB stardom, then I don’t know what will.

NL Rookie of the Year: Corey Seager, Dodgers

Why? Seager played in 27 games last season for LA and batted .337, which is not half bad. He has the MLB experience and the fans in Chavez Ravine love him, so he should do pretty well in 2016.

Do you agree with my picks? Let me know your thought 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 Mexican Babe Ruth

Hey baseball fans!

Obviously you’ve heard of Babe Ruth, possibly the best hitter in MLB history. You may have also heard of Josh Gibson, who is considered by many to be the best hitter in Negro Leagues history. However, have you heard of Hector Espino, arguably the best hitter in Mexico’s baseball history? Neither did I until I did some research, and boy he put up some stats that Ruth would applaud.

Espino started his baseball career in Mexico in the Mexican League in 1962 with Monterrey, when he hit 23 homers and batted .358 en route to winning Rookie of the Year. He also played winter ball in the Mexican Pacific League and, that winter, batted .402, a record that stood until he broke it ten years later. He took home the league’s MVP honors that year and the year after. Espino won his first summer league batting title in ’64, when he batted .371 while homering 46 times and driving in 117 earned runs. He was so feared throughout the league that he was intentionally walked a record 30 times and his 332 total bases that year were second in league history. All of these accolades made him a target for the MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals, who signed him later that year and sent him to the Triple A team. He did just fine there, but that was the last time he played professional baseball outside of Mexico.

Espino continued to hit the ball at an alarming pace, batting over .330 in each summer season from 1965-1968, but had an “off” year in ’69 when he “only” batted .304. 1970 was one of his least productive years in the summer, but Espino had a killer winter, winning his eighth Mexican Pacific League batting title and third MPL MVP, becoming the first player in league history to win more than two MVPs (and he would go on to win three more MPL MVPs in his career). Espino only batted under .300 in the 1970s once and finished his career in 1984.

Espino was eventually inducted into the Caribbean Hall of Fame, Salon de la Fama (Hall of Fame in Spanish) and was part of the first class of Latino Baseball Hall of Fame inductees in 2010. In total, the Mexican slugger hit over 453 home runs during his career in the Mexican League and is one of two players in the Mexican Pacific League to have a lifetime batting average of .300 or better. It would have been great to see him play in the Majors (maybe even team up with Lou Brock in St. Louis), but it was also great that he got to play in front of him home fans. Thanks so much for reading this and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,838 other followers

%d bloggers like this: