December 10, 2023

Ohtani Announces He's Signing With The Dodgers: 10 Years, $700 Million

10 years. $700 million.

Those are the eye-popping numbers on the unprecedented contract Shohei Ohtani will be signing with the Dodgers. The 2023 unanimous AL MVP made the announcement himself on Saturday afternoon.

The $700,000,000 is obviously the largest player contract in sports history – and will likely hold the top spot for a while. The inner workings of the deal involve deferred payments, so Ohtani's annual salary (reflected in LA's annual payrolls) will be in the $50 million range.

Ohtani, who turns 30 next July, had elbow surgery in mid-September and will not pitch in 2024. Which will hurt his chances to be crowned the unanimous NL MVP next fall.

The 2023 Dodgers became the first team to win 100+ games in four consecutive full seasons (106, 106, 111, 100). And now they've added the most complete player in baseball history.

In other news, the Red Sox made a rare deal of substance with the Yankees, sending Alex Verdugo, who completely wore out his welcome with manager Alex Cora, to the Bronx for a trio of right-handed pitchers (Richard Fitts, Greg Weissert, and Nicholas Judice). Fitts was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year for 2023.

The MFY also traded for Juan Soto, who is set to become a free agent after next season. With any luck, this will simply be a one-year rental. But it sucks, no matter how you slice it. Maybe Verdugo can do us a favour and sabotage some shit over there.

Hey, Yoshinobu Yamamoto . . . umm, you wanna come to Boston and finish in last place?

December 2, 2023

The Yankees Are "Profoundly Saddened" That An Unrepentant War Criminal
(A "Lifelong Friend" Who "Will Be Deeply Missed") Died Yesterday At Age 100

Of course they are.

There are many reasons why the Yankees' home field has long been called Stade Fasciste. This is yet another one.

Some reactions:
@kidsmoke21: The Yankees will be honoring Mr. Kissinger with Napalm Night on May 17 vs the White Sox. Bring the whole family!

@LibrarianJoe_: Couldn't Randy Levine just tweet about his war criminal friends on his own page?

@jamisonfoser: This is why people hate you.

@BFSkinnerstan: Too busy mourning war criminals to actually build a functioning roster

@vlodddy: This is why the Yankees are the worst organization in the world

@ThomasTheCorgi: The Yankees were sad at the outcome of the Nuremberg trials too.

@JacsonBevens: do Pol Pot next

@HardFactorNews: Adding Henry Kissinger to Murderers Row sounds appropriate

@aric_isaacs: And to think, you could have said absolutely nothing

@savvy_uwu: What a beautiful day to be a Sox fan

@HumanistReport: eat shit

@CubeIsHorse: Guess I'll mark "Yankees miss a war criminal that they were besties with" off of the bingo card I didn't even know I had.

@OwlWithAGuitar: I already hate the Yankees, so I can't threaten to abandon them over this. What I can do here is share the words of a genuinely great New Yorker.
Nick Turse, The Intercept, November 29, 2023:
Kissinger helped prolong the Vietnam War and expand that conflict into neutral Cambodia; facilitated genocides in Cambodia, East Timor, and Bangladesh; accelerated civil wars in southern Africa; and supported coups and death squads throughout Latin America. He had the blood of at least 3 million people on his hands, according to his biographer Greg Grandin.

There were "few people who have had a hand in as much death and destruction, as much human suffering, in so many places around the world as Henry Kissinger," said veteran war crimes prosecutor Reed Brody.

A 2023 investigation by The Intercept found that Kissinger — perhaps the most powerful national security adviser in American history and the chief architect of U.S. war policy in Southeast Asia from 1969 to 1975 — was responsible for more civilian deaths in Cambodia than was previously known, according to an exclusive archive of U.S. military documents and interviews with Cambodian survivors and American witnesses.

The Intercept disclosed previously unpublished, unreported, and under-appreciated evidence of hundreds of civilian casualties that were kept secret during the war and remained almost entirely unknown to the American people. Kissinger bore significant responsibility for attacks in Cambodia that killed as many as 150,000 civilians — up to six times more noncombatants than the United States has killed in airstrikes since 9/11, according to experts.
Turse is the author of Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, a profoundly distrubing and essential book of US history that was sparked by Turse's discovery of "a previously unexplored cache of documents in the basement of the National Archives that detailed allegations of atrocities in Vietnam".

November 2, 2023

WS 5: Texas 5, Diamondbacks 0

Texas   – 000 000 104 – 5  9  0
Arizona – 000 000 000 - 0 5 1
After six innings of a pitchers' duel that included Arizona's Zac Gallen throwing six no-hit innings, Texas finally broke through with three hits and the game's first run. Texas scored four more times in the ninth. The Diamondbacks, who had five hits and six walks, failed to get a big hit, leaving nine men on base in the first five innings. They had only two runners in the final four innings.

Texas' 5-0 win in Game 5 was its 11th consecutive road victory in this postseason (11-0; they were 2-4 at home) and gave the franchise its first World Series championship. The team began as the expansion Washington Senators (2.0) in 1961 before moving to Texas in 1972. So . . . it's Texas's first title in 52 years and the first title in the franchise's 63 years.

Texas, which tied for first atop the AL West, was the American League's fifth seed (I hate using that term in relation to baseball) and is the lowest playoff seed to win the World Series . . . so far. They tied for the sixth-most wins in MLB. Arizona was tied for 12th.

To absolutely no one's surprise, Corey Seager – who ended Gallen's no-hit dreams – was voted MVP. He went 6-for-21 (.286) with home runs in three of the five games, one double, three walks, six RBIs and six runs scored. He's the fourth player to win the award twice, joining Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson and Reggie Jackson. (The award was introduced in 1955.)

Texas, which lost 102 games in 2021, became the third team to win the World Series within two seasons of losing 100+ games, joining Boston's NL team in 1914 and the 1969 Mets. 

The Diamondbacks squandered numerous chances to score in the first five innings, leaving three men at third base and four at second. Nathan Eovaldi (6-4-0-5-5, 97) continually got his team into and out of trouble and became the first pitcher to win four road starts in a single postseason.

In the early innings, it looked like it would be Arizona's night, if they could get a few runs. Gallen (6.1-3-1-1-6, 83) breezed through the first four innings, throwing only 35 pitches (13-7-7-8). The Diamondbacks' night of batting woes began right away. In the first inning, Corbin Carroll walked and stole second. He was on third with one out, but Gabriel Moreno and Tommy Pham both grounded to shortstop. Events in the second were similar. Lourdes Gurriel opened with a single and took second on a groundout. Eovaldi then got Evan Longoria to line to left and Geraldo Perdomo to fly to right.

Carroll began the third with a single and was trying to steal second again when Ketel Marte took ball four. (Marte walked three times and his postseason hitting streak ended at 20 games.) A bunt put runners on second and third. Christian Walker fanned on a 96 mph fastball just off the middle of the plate and Pham poked a routine grounder to short. You couldn't help but think there was a good chance these LOB-tomies would haunt the Diamondbacks.

With two outs in the fourth, after Longoria's pop fly down the right field line landed fair for a double, Perdomo struck out looking. A walk, single, stolen base, and another walk loaded the bases for Arizona with two outs in the fifth, but Gurriel stranded all three runners by grounding out to short.

Gallen retired the first 14 batters before issuing a walk. Seager got Texas' first hit leading off the seventh: an opposite field single to left through the third baseman's vacated spot (Longoria was playing well over by shortstop).

Evan Carter followed with a double to right and Mitch Garver's groundball single to center gave Texas a 1-0 lead. The three hits came in a span of only five pitches, and after Gallen struck out Josh Jung, his night was over.

The night was pretty much over for the Arizona bats, as well. Aroldis Chapman issued a one-out walk in the seventh and Josh Sborz gave up a single with two down in the eighth. Neither runners advanced and those were the Diamondbacks' last two baserunners.

Texas left the bases loaded in the eigthth. Facing Paul Seward in the ninth, Jung and Nathaniel Lowe singled. Jonah Heim also singled and an error by Alek Thomas in center scored two runs. Seward got two outs, but Marcus Semien hit a two-run shot to left-center for two more runs.

Here are the five current teams without a World Series championships.
Padres 1969 Lost in 1984 and 1998
Brewers 1970 Lost in 1982
Mariners 1977 Never played in a WS
Rockies 1993 Lost in 2007
Rays 1998 Lost in 2008 and 2020

November 1, 2023

WS 4: Texas 11, Diamondbacks 7

Texas   – 055 000 010 – 11 11  0
Arizona – 000 100 042 - 7 12 1
After making history by becoming the first team to score 5+ runs in consecutive innings in a World Series game, Texas went on to beat Arizona 11-7 in Game 4 and is now one win away from its first championship.

Texas was without Adolis García's bat in its lineup, but that hardly mattered on Tuesday evening. The AL champs hit for the cycle in the second inning, grabbing a 5-0 lead. Josh Jung doubled and after Nathaniel Lowe struck out, the Diamondbacks went to the pen. Miguel Castro relieved starter Joe Mantiply (1.1-1-1-1-1, 28) and got the second out. But then Leody Taveras walked and Travis Jankowski singled in one run. Marcus Semien tripled into the left field corner (the ball got past Lourdes Gurriel, who stumbled after it). Kyle Nelson took over on the mound and for some reason, Arizona decided to pitch to Corey Seager. The soon-to-be-named WS MVP crushed a 1-0 pitch to deep center. When his third home run of the WS landed 431 feet away, Texas led 5-0.

With one out in the third, Jung got things started again. He singled to left, Lowe grounded a single to center. The Diamondbacks tried their luck with another pitcher: Luis Frías. Jonah Heim reached on an infield error by first baseman Christian Walker, who bobbled a ground ball and ended up unable to make a play. Frías struck out Taveras but, again, that third was elusive. Jankowski doubled home two runs and Semien hit a three-run dong to left.

Texas led 10-0, having scored all 10 runs with two outs. The only team to score more runs with two outs in a WS game is the 2007 Red Sox, with 11 in Game 1. The Dodgers also scored 11 two-out runs in Game 3 of the 2020 NLCS.

The Yankees are the only other team to score 5+ runs in two innings of a World Series game (Game 2 in 1936 and Game 5 in 1961).

No one is watching this World Series. Game 1 was the least-watched WS opener since records have been kept (AP: "since at least 1969"). Games 2 and 3 were the least-watched games ever, according to Nielsen records. . . . I fear this state of affairs may inspire Rob "I Hate Baseball" Manfred to invent some more shitass gimmicks to fuck up the game and make even more loyal fans turn away from the game they loved.

After three innings, I was busy with trick-or-treaters and although I checked in on the game a few times, I never went back to my scorecard. I'm assuming the final score made the game seem a lot closer than it was. Texas is now 10-0 on the road in this postseason, which is a record; the 1937-42 and 1996-97 Yankees had each won nine.

No team had hit for the cycle in a World Series inning since Atlanta did it in 1991 -- in the fourth and eighth innings (!) of Game 5. Texas also homered in its 16th consecutive postseason game (all this season), the third-longest streak of all-time. They can tie Arizona (2007-23) at 17 games tonight. The 2019-22 Yankees hold the record at 23 games.

Sarah Langs has a few more "fun facts" (which have been slightly rewritten):
Corey Seager has homered in consecutive WS games. At least one player has homered in back-to-back games in each of the last eight World Series. The last time it didn't happen was 2015.

Texas is the 10th team to hit for the cycle in a World Series inning. During the regular season, it happened 19 times, but none of those were by Texas.

Texas had 10 runs by the end of the third inning. That's the third-most runs scored through the first three innings of a World Series game, behind only the 2001 Diamondbacks (Game 6, against the MFY!) and the 1968 Tigers (Game 6), with 12 each.

Texas is also 10-0 when they score first this postseason. That's tied for the longest win streak within a single postseason when scoring first, along with the 2004 Red Sox, 2018 Red Sox, 2012 Giants, 2017 Astros, and 1998 Yankees.

Ketel Marte's postseason hitting streak is now at 20 games. With 16 straight this postseason, Marte broke a tie with Alcides Escobar at 15 in 2015 for the longest single-postseason hitting streak. Marte has also (of course) reached base in all 20 postseason games he has played. That's the third-longest on-base streak to start a postseason career, behind only Boog Powell (25 games, 1966-71) and Daniel Murphy (21, 2015-17).

October 31, 2023

WS 3: Texas 3, Diamondbacks 1

Texas   – 003 000 000 – 3  5  0
Arizona – 000 000 010 – 1 6 0
After back stiffness forced Texas starter Max Scherzer (3-2-0-2-1, 36) out of the game after three innings, Jon Gray (above) was unexpectedly rushed into action. He pitched three innings of impressive relief (3-1-0-0-3, 30), needing only 30 pitches to sail through the middle innings. Corey Seager again came through with a big blow, a two-run homer* that carried Texas to a 3-1 victory Monday evening in Game 3.

The Diamondbacks shot themselves in the foot in the second inning when Christian Walker, having begun the frame with a double to right-center, got a late jump from second base on Tommy Pham's hard single to right and then ran through his third base coach's stop sign and was an easy out at the plate. Not only that, but he was running on Texas right fielder Adolis García, who has thrown out more runners over the last three seasons (37) than any other outfielder in MLB. All in all, it was a magnificently bone-headed decision. In addition to those bone-headed Instead of runners at second and third with no outs, Arizona had a man at second and one out. Having blown a golden opportunity to get on the board first (teams scoring first are 30-9 in this postseason), The Diamondbacks did not get another runner to second base until the seventh inning.

García, Texas's hot-hitting right fielder (though he is 0-for-6, with two walks, since his Game 1-winning dong), left the game in the eighth inning with left side tightness after an awkward swing. His status for Game 4 is unknown.

Arizona scored in the eighth off Aroldis Chapman, and the potential tying run was at the plate with no outs, but Corbin Carroll struck out looking, frozen on a breaking ball down the middle, and Ketel Marte (who extended his record postseason hitting streak to 19 games with a single in the sixth) grounded into a double play. 

Against José Leclerc in the ninth, Gabriel Moreno grounded to third and Walker and Pham struck out.

Texas is now 9-0 on the road in this postseason.

*: Seager's homer had an exit velocity of 115 mph, which MLB International play-by-play man Dave Flemming touted as "one of the hardest hit balls in the history of the World Series . . . in the Statcast Era". Which began in 2015. So . . . 119 World Series have been played and that home run was "one of the hardest hit balls" in the last nine of those series. Not even the hardest hit ball in the most recent nine World Series, but one of the hardest hit. 

October 29, 2023

WS 2: Diamondbacks 9, Texas 1

Arizona – 000 200 232 – 9 16  0
Texas – 000 010 000 – 1 4 0

Arizona pitcher Merrill Kelly quieted the top American League offense on Saturday evening (7-3-1-0-9, 89), allowing only one runner to advance past first base. His teammates got on the board in the fourth and then stepped on the gas against Texas' bullpen en route to a 9-1 win, evening the World Series at one game apiece.

Ketel Marte went 1-for-5, singling home two runs in the eighth inning and thereby setting a new MLB record by hitting safely in 18 consecutive postseason games. Tommy Pham went 4-for-4, with two doubles and two runs scored. Seven different Diamondback players scored one run each.

Kelly retired the first 10 Texas batters before Evan Carter dumped a single into short center. Mitch Garver began the home fifth with a dong to left and later in the inning Josh Jung reached on an infield single. That was all Texas could do against Kelly, who struck out five of his last six batters.

The MLB International announcers – Dave Flemming (play-by-play) and Ryan Spilborghs (additional talking) – were gushing over Texas starter Jordan Mongomery like he was the second coming of Sandy Koufax. The free-agent-to-be has been so good lately, Spilborghs explained, that this winter, "he might as well back the Brinks truck up to his house". Montgomery then proceeded to allow three hits (and two runs) to the next four batters. Oops. My issue with Spilborghs's comment is that it's the TEAM that drives the truck full of money to the superstar's house. The player doesn't drive the goddamn truck!

Montgomery ended the top of the sixth by picking Pham off second base. He gave up a double and a run-scoring single to start the seventh and was pulled for Andrew Heaney, who allowed the inherited runner to score. In the eighth, Chris Stratton gave up a single and got two outs before Texas manager Bruce Bochy called for Martín Pérez. Why he chose to do this, I do not know. Pérez was exactly league average in 2023 (4.45 ERA); he had a 10-4 record, but Bochy wouldn't be fooled by that (right?). I remarked out loud that Pérez was going to suck and that's exactly what happened. I'm not giving myself any credit for prognostication; it wasn't a very outlandish prediction. Needing only one out, Pérez walked his first two batters, which loaded the bases, then gave up two singles which brought all three runners home, effectively putting the game on ice for Arizona.

Texas fans thought one of Pérez's pitches to his second batter, a 2-2 offering to Geraldo Perdomo, was a strike. It was inside and not a strike (though it was close) and plate umpire Quinn Wolcott correctly called it a ball. Wolcott had blown several calls throughout the night, so the fans perhaps had an uncertain image of the strike zone. Or they simply wanted a fuckin strike to end the inning with no runs scored and their team trailing 1-4. But Wolcott got the call right, so the inning continued, and Pérez kept Pérezing until the game was out of reach.

Speaking of Wolcott, in the second inning, Flemming said he was "very accurate to what we might call the Statcast rule book strike zone". (Otherwise known as the "rule book".) Flemming was correct. In 2023, Wolcott was the best ball-strike umpire in MLB, calling 96% of pitches correctly.

Other Announcer Nonsense:

A first-inning graphic showed the "Youngest Players To Hit Third In Batting Order, World Series History". Texas left fielder Evan Carter was 2nd (21 years, 59 days), behind Mickey Mantle (20-347, 1952) and ahead of Joe DiMaggio (21-310, 1936). This graphic was nothing but visual pollution. Why not show us "Youngest Players To Leadoff Top Of Fifth Inning, World Series History"?

Spilborghs pointed out the presence of "human emotions" among the players because this is the World Series!

You may have noticed in recent years, broadcasts love to show players yelling or clapping or pounding their chests in super-slo-mo. This is one of baseball broadcasting's greatest mysteries. Seeing a batter scream while punching himself in the chest adds absolutely nothing to my knowledge or enjoyment of the game. Why not show the home run? Why not show the inning-ending strikeout? Why not show a wide shot of the entire field? Shit, I'd even prefer a glimpse of a C-list actor or an instantly-forgettable country-pop musician. The announcers were extolling the pitching talents of Merrill Kelly at the end of the seventh inning when a super-slo-mo clip appeared of Kelly pounding his throwing hand into his glove with his mouth wide open in a pure animalistic roar. Spilborghs said, with not an insignificant amount of awe and admiration in his voice, "Look at this."

Spilborghs also praised Texas pitching coach Mike Maddux for always, when making a mound visit, putting his right hand on the pitcher's shoulder. This came in the eighth inning and the pitcher was Pérez, after the two walks. Maddux's kind but firm hand produced no magic this time, however.

The bottom of the eighth ended with Arizona first baseman Christian Walker stretching as far towards the plate as humanly possible while still keeping part of his cleat on the bag to snare a wide throw from shortstop Perdomo. The best angle of the bag was from a left field camera and I thought I saw some infield dirt between the white of the bag and the white of the shoe, but the call was upheld. It was pretty remarkable play. Walker made a fantastic play in the fifth as well. Jonah Heim grounded down the first base line, where Walker was behind the bag. The ball struck the bag and caromed much higher than Walker was expecting. He stuck out his bare right hand and more or less caught the ball (it bounced from his hand a couple of inches for a fraction of a second, but he grabbed it) and shovel-tossed tit to the pitcher for the out.

After his stretch ended the eighth, Walker led off the top of the ninth. I thought we had finally reached (in recent years) that stage of evolution where baseball announcers mention the hoary quip about how the guy who makes a great play to end the inning leads off the next inning because they heard it all through their youth - only as a dumb joke. It's always presenting ironically. Well, guess what? Evolution does not proceed in a linear fashion. 

The count was 1-1 on Walker when we heard this: "You see this all the time, Dave, somebody makes a sparkling defense play, they usually lead off the next inning, and sometimes they end up rewarding themselves with a hit." He was as serious as a heart attack. And Walker hit a single to center!

In the bottom of the ninth, Arizona reliever Luis Frías came in with one on and one out. He struck out a pinch-hitter, but walked Adolis García on five pitches, while also throwing over to first, with the first baseman not holding the runner and standing 20 feet away from the bag. He fell behind 2-0 on Garver. AZ pitching coach Brent Strom headed to the mound. I wondered if Strom would put a calming hand on Frías's shoulder. Not exactly. He walked up to the pitcher, faced him, and put a hand on each shoulder. Two hands! But it did not seem completely friendly. His mouth was blocked from the camera, so I don't know what he was saying, but I'll bet it was along the lines of "You're up by eight fuckin runs, you  fuckin need one fuckin out, so fuckin throw some motherfuckin strikes so we can get the fuck out of here. Okay?" Whatever he said, it worked. A called strike, a foul, and a line out to third.

Sarah Langs brings the stat factoids:

1) After a home run in Game 1, Pham produced again on Saturday, becoming the 18th player in World Series history to go 4-for-4 in a game. He was the first to do so since Pablo Sandoval in his three-homer performance in Game 1 in 2012. The only other instances in the Wild Card era were Matt Holliday (2007) and Tim Salmon (2002), each in a Game 2. . . .

3) The D-backs combined for 16 hits, the most in a World Series game since the Giants had 16 in 2014 Game 4. The only other team to reach that mark in the last 20 World Series was the Red Sox, with 17 in 2007 Game 1.

4) They also barely struck out, doing so just twice at the plate. The D-backs became the third team to strike out two or fewer times in a World Series game in the Wild Card era, joining the 2010 Rangers in Game 2 (two) and 2002 Angels in Game 2 (none). Only five other teams have had at least 15 hits and two or fewer strikeouts in a Fall Classic game: those '02 Angels in Game 2, the 1987 Twins in Game 6, 1928 Yankees in Game 4, 1912 Giants in Game 7 and 1910 A’s in Game 3. . . .

8) It wasn't all hits, though. The D-backs became the first team with three sacrifice bunts in a World Series game since the Cardinals in Game 5 of the 2011 World Series, also in Texas. They were the first team to win a World Series game with at least three sacrifice bunts since the A's in 1974 Game 1. Only one team had a game with three this year in the regular season: the D-backs, on May 6.

9) As great as the offense was, so was Kelly, who went seven innings with nine strikeouts and no walks. Only four pitchers have had more strikeouts with no walks in a World Series game: 2017 Clayton Kershaw (11), 1949 Don Newcombe (11), 2009 Cliff Lee (10) and 1903 Deacon Phillippe (10) – all in Game 1s. Phillippe's was the first World Series game.

10) With the split in Arlington, this is the 11th consecutive World Series that will not end in a sweep, with the last one coming by the Giants in 2012. Eleven consecutive World Series without a sweep is the second-longest stretch in World Series history, behind a 12-year streak from 1977-88 that saw no teams record a World Series sweep.

Outdated Cultural Reference Dept.:

When Adolis García (0-for-3, walk) fouled off a 2-2 pitch in the seventh, his left foot slipped in the batters box and he fell down. He sat on his ass for a second or two before getting up. Spilborghs remarked that he "looked like a broken wagon wheel". Forget the lame 45-year-old pop music references. This is more like a 155-year-old reference! It made no sense, but I liked it.

While looking for pictures of wagon wheels, I saw this picture from 1908 ("Fred Pearson and family, Johnson County, Kansas). Note the dog has elegantly crossed her front paws for the picture.

October 28, 2023

WS 1: Texas 6, Diamondbacks 5 (11)

Arizona - 003 110 000 00 - 5  8  0
Texas - 201 000 002 01 - 6 9 0

The Arizona Diamondbacks were two outs away from a 5-3 victory in Game 1 of the 2023 World Series. They were 7-0 in the postseason when leading after seven innings.

But with a runner on first base, courtesy of pitcher Paul Seward's leadoff walk to Taveras, Corey Seager – who had walked twice and scored twice in the early innings – crushed a first-pitch, game-tying, two-run home run to right.

Seward would hit a batter and issue an intentional walk before getting out of the inning. Texas stranded two runners on base in the tenth. With one out in the bottom of the eleventh, Adolis García hit an opposite-field, walk-off home run off Miguel Castro, giving his team a 6-5 victory.

It was the 17th walkoff homer in World Series history and first since 2018. It was also García's 22nd run batted in of this postseason, which set a new major league record. This is a record that needs a lot of context, of course. For roughly 70 years, the postseason (it was simply called the "World Series" back then) lasted a maximum of seven games. With the 2023 postseason schedule, a team could potentially play as many as 24 games.

García has collected his 22 RBI in 13 games and 59 plate appearances. The record he broke was set by David Freese of the 2011 Cardinals, who had 21 RBI in 18 games and 71 plate appearances. (St. Louis beat Texas in seven games in that World Series.)

García is the second player to hit a walkoff home run in his first World Series game. Dusty Rhodes of the New York Giants did it (as a pinch-hitter in the 10th inning!) in Game 1 of the 1954 WS, against Cleveland.

García has now homered in five straight games, tied with Carlos Beltrán (2004), George Springer (2017-18), and Giancarlo Stanton (2020) for the second-longest streak in postseason history. Daniel Murphy donged in six straight games in 2015.

García has an RBI in seven straight games, tied for the second-longest streak in a single postseason, with Alex Rodriguez (2009) and Murphy (2015). The record is eight games, set by Ryan Howard in 2009.

García is also the third player with 2+ RBIs in four consecutive postseason games, joining Reggie Sanders (2005) and Stanton (2020).

Texas scored two runs in the first inning off Diamondback starter Zac Gallen (5-4-3-4-5, 99), who has struggled in the first innings of his starts this postseason. He's now given up nine runs in the first innings of his six starts. Gallen walked Seager before giving up a double to Evan Carter and a single to García.

Nathan Eovaldi (4.2-6-5-1-8, 89) started strongly for Texas, retiring the first six Snakes, four by strikeout and two on grounders to first. In the third, however, the bottom of the order got to him. Alek Thomas and Evan Longoria singled and Corbin Carroll lined a one-out triple to the base of the wall in right-center. Carroll scored on Marte's grounder to first when Nathaniel Lowe's throw to the plate was wide. 

Longoria's single was his first World Series hit since October 27, 2008 – 5,478 days ago. It's the longest span of days between WS hits in history, surpassing Tony Gwynn's record of 5,117 days (October 13, 1984 to October 17, 1998).

Texas tied the game 3-3 in the third, as Gallen issued three walks, including one with three on base.

Tommy Pham homered off Eovaldi to start the fourth and Geraldo Perdomo singled, stole second, and scored on Marte's double to right-center in the fifth. That gave Arizona a 5-3 lead, which is how things stayed until the ninth.

This is the third World Series to feature two wild card teams. Arizona has the third fewest wins of any World Series team (84-78). Only the 1973 Mets (82-79) and 2006 Cardinals (83-78) won fewer regular season games. I believe Rob "Piece of Metal" Manfred will not be satisified until the World Seris is won by a team with a losing record.

Texas became the first team to win a World Series game despite trailing by two or more runs in the ninth inning (or later) since 2015. It was the 11th such win in World Series history, and Arizona has been on the losing end of three of those games. The Philadelphia A's are the only other team with more than one such loss (1911 and 1914).

Arizona's Ketel Marte has a 17-game postseason hitting streak, tied with Hank Bauer (1956-58), Capt. Intangibles (1998-99), and Manny Ramirez (2003-04). Marte is the only one to hit safely in his first 17 postseason games. asked 58 writers for their WS predictions:


Texas: 30
Arizona: 28

# of Games:

7 games: 27
6 games: 27
5 games: 4

Game 2 starters: Merrill Kelly / Jordan Montgomery

October 25, 2023

Red Sox Hire Craig Breslow As New "Chief Baseball Officer"

The Red Sox have hired former Cubs assistant general manager Craig Breslow as the team's new chief baseball officer*. Breslow replaces Chaim Bloom, who was fired after four seasons, three of which ended with Boston all snuggly, but far from content, in the AL East basement.

*: Is it necessary to mention "baseball" in his job title? Isn't that more or less implied?

Breslow pitched for the Red Sox (and six other teams) during his 12-year career (2005-06, 2008-17). He was a member of the 2013 World Series champions.


I couldn't be more excited to return to the Boston Red Sox, an organization that means so much to my family and to me. I am humbled by the opportunity to lead baseball operations and to work alongside so many talented people. I'd like to thank John Henry, Tom Werner, Mike Gordon, and Sam Kennedy for entrusting me with executing the vision we share for this organization. I know firsthand how special winning in Boston is, and I look forward to once again experiencing that passion and success with our fans.

Great. Enjoy the rest of the day, because tomorrow morning, it's right into the fuckin hot seat, pal.

Chad Jennings, The Athletic:

According to multiple people with knowledge of the process, Breslow was the only candidate to receive a second interview. He's been described as a favorite of Red Sox ownership from the very beginning, and — perhaps not coincidentally — also a favorite of former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, whose opinion still carries weight in the organization and who has long touted Breslow's potential as an executive.

"We don't have a predetermined set of qualifications necessarily that we're looking for," [Red Sox president Sam] Kennedy said at the end of the season. "But we do have a targeted list of individuals that we think will be able to help get us back where we belong in the American League East."

Many of those individuals declined to interview for the position, which is not unusual for this sort of hiring process, but the extent of it did catch the attention of many in the industry who felt the Red Sox were having a hard time rounding up qualified candidates. In retrospect, some now see Breslow, 43, as a favorite for the job all along. He checks a lot of boxes the Red Sox seem to value.

For one, Breslow is familiar with the Boston market. . . . [H]e's continued to live in nearby Newton, Mass., and worked remotely from home through much of his Cubs tenure. He's also a Yale graduate, often noted for his intelligence and for his familiarity with analytics and technology, two essentials of the modern game. . . .

Breslow is also a former player, specifically a pitcher, and pitching development has been a Red Sox organizational weakness for several seasons under multiple heads of baseball operations. . . .

Some in the organization have expressed concern about Breslow's relative lack of experience and the potential that he could keep pushing the team further to the analytic side of player evaluation and roster construction.* . . .

Jon Lester debuted in 2006 and Clay Buchholz in 2007, but after that the Red Sox went more than a decade without drafting and developing another consistent, long-term big-league starter. . . .

The organization in recent years shifted its player development philosophy to be more proactive and aggressive with its pitching prospects, and the team might have graduated its latest rotation fixture in 24-year-old Brayan Bello . . . The rise of Kutter Crawford and the second-half performance of prospect Wikelman Gonzalez are also signs of progress on the mound. . . .

[E]arlier this offseason . . . the Red Sox let go of longtime pitching coach Dave Bush, who'd been a key voice in the organization's pitching program for eight years . . . [and they] decided not to bring back Triple-A pitching coach Paul Abbott, who'd been working in the organization for 13 years.

Clearly, the organization was working toward a pitching overhaul regardless of the person in charge.

Now the person in charge is a former big-league pitcher who worked extensively to overhaul the pitching program of his previous franchise. It's not hard to compare Breslow to first-year [Texas] general manager Chris Young, another former pitcher with an Ivy League education who had little front-office experience before replacing Jon Daniels as the head of baseball operations late last season. Young already has [Texas] in the [2023] World Series.

*: Oh, the fuckin horror of it all! The very thought that Breslow might consider facts and weigh probabilities is a cause for "concern"!! Who the hell is clutching pearls because of that? Jesus, it amazes me still (after many decades of observing the world) the way intelligence and an open mind is consistently portrayed like drowning puppies and kittens or being possessed by the goddamn devil.

Matthew Kory ponders this Breslow news at Sox Outsider:

There are a lot of Assistant GMs in baseball and it's not like the Cubs, while a good team in 2023, have had a run of excellence where teams are lining up to hire their front office people. . . . [I]t seems Breslow's big selling point was his role in revamping the Cubs pitching program. . . .

Using fWAR as a quick 'n dirty metric, the Cubs went from 29th in team pitching in 2021 to 26th in 2022 to ninth this past season. That's ahead of the Dodgers, Brewers, [Atlanta], Astros, and Guardians, as well as a certain team you might be aware of that resides in Eastern Massachusetts. . . .

Even so, these things are always kind of nebulous. In baseball, you can do the right thing and get wrong results. You can do the wrong thing and get right results. That's just how the sport works. And that applies on the field, in the draft room, and in the front office. . . .

Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, who broke this story and who you should absolutely be reading if you care at all about the Red Sox, points out that the Cubs pitching staff wasn't the only thing Breslow had going on. He was also involved in other aspects of the major league roster in Chicago.

That is good . . . because Breslow is going to have to hit the ground running in Boston. . . .

I don't think anyone thinks he can't do the job, and there were some reported candidates who I would've asked that question about. Still, being a smart and capable person isn't anything close to a guarantee of success in Boston. . . . Before Theo's two World Series, there was the belief that winning one championship would mean a job for life. We now know that's not true . . .

[I]t seems pretty clear this wasn't the [hiring] process the Red Sox thought they were going to conduct. . . . The Red Sox, I think, had eyes on a few different people to start with, including GM of the Dodgers Brandon Gomes, POBO of the Diamondbacks Mike Hazen, Phillies GM Sam Fuld, and Head of the Twins Derek Falvey, among others. All refused interviews for the job. Oops. . . . 

Previously the Red Sox hadn't really opened things up like this before, so I think they were likely surprised at their inability to attract top names. . . . So this might have been a bit of a wake up call for Red Sox ownership.

You might think all that would give Breslow a bit more slack but I doubt it.

Dan Secatore, Over The Monster:

[Breslow] has held precisely one front office job in his life: he ran the Chicago Cubs pitching development program for the past four years. It looks like he did an outstanding job in that role. . . . Cubs minor league pitchers collectively threw harder than the pitchers of any other organization in 2023 and were graded to have the second-best stuff. Meanwhile, homegrown Cubs pitchers tossed 417.1 innings last year, after totaling just 178.1 innings between 2013 and 2019 combined. It seems like he's really, really good at running a pitching development program.

But, notably, Breslow's role appears to have had little to do with roster construction, free agent signings, or trades (though there are reports that he had become part of the Cubs front office "inner circle," beyond his role in pitching development). In light of the fact that many speculate that Bloom was let go because ownership didn't think he had what it takes to aggressively pursue the Major League talent required to take the Red Sox to the next level, hiring someone with an indiscernible track record in that area is certainly an interesting choice.

So is he any good? No one knows yet, but let's hope so.

October 7, 2023

ALDS / NLDS Begin Today
Also: Predictions From and The Athletic

Eight teams remain.

The Dodgers are the first team in major league history to win 100+ games in four consecutive complete seasons (i.e., disregarding strike- or plague-shortened seasons, such as 2020 (though LA was on pace for 116 wins that year)). A majority of around 100 MLB players predict Shohei Ohtani will wear a Dodgers' uniform in 2024: LA 57.2%, Angels 11.4%, Padres/Mets 7.2%, Yankees 6.3%.

The Astros are trying to play in their seventh consecutive ALCS (they have not missed it since 2016).

Eleven writers predict the rest of the postseason. You can find each writer's picks are at the link. I added them all together:


Orioles over Texas 9-2
Orioles in 3 games (1 vote), 4 games (4), 5 games (4)
Texas in 4 games (1), 5 games (1)

Twins over Astros 6-5
Twins in 4 games (3), 5 games (3)
Astros in 4 games (2), 5 games (3)


Phillies over Atlanta 6-5
Phillies in 4 games (2), 5 games (4)
Atlanta in 4 games (1), 5 games (4)

Dodgers over Diamondbacks 11-0
Dodgers in 3 games (1), 4 games (9), 5 games (1)


Twins in 6 games: 4
Orioles in 6 games: 4
Astros in 6 games: 3


Phillies 6, Atlanta 3, Dodgers 1
Phillies in 6 games (3), 7 games (3)
Atlanta in 6 games (2), 7 games (1)
Dodgers in 6 games (1), 7 games (1)


Phillies 6, Atlanta 3, Dodgers 1, Astros 1
Phillies in 5 games (1), 6 games (3), 7 games (2)
Atlanta in 5 games (1), 6 games (1), 7 games (1)
Dodgers in 5 games (1)
Astros in 6 games (1)


Bryce Harper, Phillies – 3
Trea Turner, Phillies – 3
Ronald Acuña, Atlanta – 2
Freddie Freedman, Dodgers – 1
Kyle Tucker, Astros – 1
Matt Olson, Orioles – 1

Eighteen writers at The Athletic weighed in with their DS picks:

Orioles (12 votes), Rangers (6)
Astros (9), Twins (8)


Atlanta (12), Phillies (6)
Dodgers (14), Diamondbacks (2)
Seriously? People Are Still Arguing About This Nonsense In Late 2023?

October 2, 2023

2023 Postseason Begins Tuesday

The 2023 postseason begins tomorrow, with four Wild Card games on both Tuesday and Wednesday, with any third games on Thursday. The ALDS and NLDS will begin on Saturday. (Day-by-day schedule.)'s Anthony Castrovince ranks each postseason team's offense and pitching staff, a task he says is "usually senseless" and "bound to blow up in our faces", but "it's fun". (I added the rankings out of curiosity.)
Atlanta 1 8 9
Phillies 6 4 10
Blue Jays 8 2 10
Rays 5 6 11
Astros 4 7 11
Dodgers 3 9 12
Brewers 11 1 12
Orioles 7 5 12
Twins 9 3 12
Texas 2 11 13
Diamondbacks 10 12 22
Marlins 12 10 22
ESPN's Jeff Passan points out: that the team with the best regular season record "rarely" wins the World Series. "Over the 54 seasons since MLB went to divisions, only 14 times has the team with the top record won the World Series." That's only 26%. I hope it's true for this year. Passan predicts Atlanta over the Rays:
Atlanta is "the best team in baseball, and it's not particularly close. The offense scored 947 runs, the most by an NL team since the 2000 Colorado Rockies — and the most by an NL team not in absurdly thin air since the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers. . . . Atlanta's starting pitching is plenty. While the bullpen is nobody's idea of dominant, [Atlanta] relievers are striking out the most batters in the NL . . . They can win the World Series because they are better than the other 29 teams in baseball, on paper, and the gap is not insignificant.
The Twins have not won a postseason game since October 5, 2004; that was ALDS Game 1. They have lost 18 consecutive postseason games (13 (!) of them to the Yankees).
2004 - Lost ALDS 1-3 to Yankees (2-0, 6-7 (12), 4-8, 5-6 (11))
2006 - Lost ALDS 0-3 to Athletics (2-3, 2-5, 3-8)
2009 - Lost ALDS 0-3 to Yankees (2-7, 3-4 (11), 1-4)
2010 - Lost ALDS 0-3 to Yankees (4-6, 2-5, 1-6)
2017 - Lost ALWC 0-1 to Yankees (4-8)
2019 - Lost ALDS 0-3 to Yankees (4-10, 2-8, 1-5)
2020 - Lost ALWC 0-2 to Astros (1-4, 1-3)
Will Leitch ranks the top 50 players in the postseason, based on "a mix of 2023 form, track record and health". Here's the Top 10: Mookie Betts, Ronald Acuña, Corey Seager, Freddie Freeman, Matt Olson, Bryce Harper, Justin Verlander, Corbin Carroll, Clayton Kershaw, and Luis Arraez.

Freeman finished this season with 59 doubles, coming up one "Baltimore dong" short of being the first player in 87 years to hit 60. Five of the six times an AL/NL player hit 60+ doubles in a season occurred within a span of only five seasons.
67  -  Earl Webb, Red Sox (1931)
64  -  Joe Medwick, Cardinals (1936)
64  -  George Burns, Cleveland (1926)
63  -  Hank Greenberg, Tigers (1934)
62  -  Paul Waner, Pirates (1932)
60  -  Charlie Gehringer, Tigers (1936)
The Sporting News "has produced a model that simulates the entire MLB postseason 10,000 times. The model then tallies the winners of each series, then seeing how often the teams win each series to calculate the win probabilities. The model results are based on production during the season by each team."

American League Pennant
Astros       26.2%
Orioles 23.4%
Rays 14.4%
Twins 13.1%
Texas 12.7%
Blue Jays 10.1%
National League Pennant
Atlanta      32.7%
Dodgers 29.1%
Phillies 12.4%
Brewers 9.3%
Diamondbacks 8.7%
Marlins 7.8%
World Series
Atlanta      22.1%
Dodgers 17.1%
Astros 12.3%
Orioles 8.9%
Rays 7.3%
Texas 6.9%
Phillies 6.2%
Twins 6.0%
Blue Jays 4.2%
Diamondbacks 3.3%
Brewers 3.0%
Marlins 2.8%

October 1, 2023

RIP Tim Wakefield (1966-2023)

Tim Wakefield died today. He was 57.

I'm speechless. It's horrible news. Fifty-seven is an obscenely young age.

Wakefield underwent surgery a few weeks ago in an attempt to slow the progression of the cancer, which was very aggressive. It's horrific that he and his family were forced to experience the unwanted publicity of his diagnosis in what turned out to be the final days of his life. Wakefield is survived by his wife Stacy (who reportedly is also dealing with a form of cancer) and children Trevor and Brianna.

Red Sox principal owner John Henry:

Tim's kindness and indomitable spirit were as legendary as his knuckleball. He not only captivated us on the field but was the rare athlete whose legacy extended beyond the record books to the countless lives he touched with his warmth and genuine spirit. He had a remarkable ability to uplift, inspire, and connect with others in a way that showed us the true definition of greatness. He embodied the very best of what it means to be a member of the Boston Red Sox and his loss is felt deeply by all of us.

Wakefield was originally signed as an infielder by the Pirates. His one major league home run came in 1993.

Wakefield pitched 17 seasons for the Red Sox (1995-2011), in every conceivable role. Only three players had longer careers with Boston: Carl Yastrzemski (23 years), Ted Williams (19) and Dwight Evans (19). Wakefield made more starts (430) and pitched more innings (3,006) than any other Red Sox pitcher, and his 186 wins ranks second in team history. (I really wanted him to win 193 and grab the top spot.) With his Pittsburgh stats, he finished with an even 200 major league wins.

Three posts from Sons of Sam Horn:


Tim Wakefield is uniquely a multi-generational Red Sox, from 1995-2011 playing a significant part of every single season. From the heartache to beyond the realm of reality (2 titles!) and into the downturn again. So many fans from an age of memory/relevance, roughly 35-65 year old and beyond, remember vividly, of the mastery of Tim Wakefield.


Summer of 1995 was a transition year in my life, and Wake was appointment viewing. I'll always be grateful for what he brought that year.

In subsequent years we watched him have highs and lows, particularly struggling through the lows to find it. He'd turn over every rock, talking to other knuckleballers, mostly retired. He fought through it back to the highs. It was like he could be any one of us, trying to figure out life and career. Having good days and bad days, working through it. Not some Adonis with an arm touched by God. He felt like one of us. . . . The kind of guy who could be your next door neighbor.

Patriot_Reign shared this story:

I know many people here generally despise Gerry Callahan but I occasionally listen to his podcast. Earlier today [last Thursday, September 28]. . . GC was leading off with the Wakefield news so I gave it a listen for a bit. He talked about how Wake was far and away one of the largest contributors to the Jimmy Fund and how many of the celebrities were happy to show up when cameras were rolling to get that credit. But Wake would show up unannounced in his game jersey and hand out gloves or baseballs just because.

Then he told this story about how an event was taking place at the hospital and there was one kid who was Wake's biggest fan but when he got there the kid was unavailable because he was receiving treatment. Someone mentioned this to Wake.

So he went to the kid's room and waited three hours by himself until he got back.

Imagine on one of your many worst days of your life going back to your hospital bed and your favorite baseball player is just hanging out waiting for you.

Considering how the 2003 season ended, no one deserved to win a World Series title in 2004 more than Tim Wakefield. (No Red Sox fan blamed Wakefield for 2003, of course, but he initially feared he would forever be a pariah.) Wakefield was also a member of the 2007 World Champions.

September 28, 2023

Tim Wakefield Was Privately Fighting An Aggressive Form Of Brain Cancer
(But Curt Schilling A Repulsive Asshole Decided On His Own To Tell The World)

The Boston Globe reports that Tim Wakefield and his wife Stacy are both suffering from cancer. Wakefield, 57 years old, "is fighting an aggressive form of brain cancer that was recently discovered".

This horrible news was first announced to the world on Thursday morning – without Wakefield's knowledge and without his permission – by Curt Schilling, who admitted on his podcast "this is not a message that Tim has asked anyone to share and I don't even know if he wants to share it". Rather than checking with the Wakefields, Schilling opted to publicly blurt out the information.

Catherine Varitek spoke for all decent human beings everywhere:

The Globe's Chad Finn tweeted that Doug Mirabelli had told Schilling the Wakefield news in confidence. . . . So much for that. . . . Who by this time doesn't know Schilling is a first-ballot Hall of Fame Repulsive Piece of Shit?

A statement released by the Red Sox, which was approved by the Wakefields, stated in part:

Against Wakefield's wishes, former teammate Curt Schilling put out that news on his podcast. He also revealed that Wakefield's wife, Stacy, has a different form of cancer. . . . We are aware of the statements and inquiries about the health of Tim and Stacy Wakefield. . . . Their health is a deeply personal matter they intended to keep private as they navigate treatment and work to tackle this disease.

Schilling also confirmed that he continues to present as a delusional narcissist by using the announcement to glorify himself as a supremely religious man, just as he used to do during his playing days when he would – right before the first pitch – make a calculated show of praying on the backside of the mound. (Has Curt ever familiarized himself with Matthew 6:5-8?) It should be obvious there is not even one cell in his Nazi-memorabilia collectingtaxpayer-money stealing, hate-filled, racist body that has any relation to actual Christianity.

Kevin Slane wonders: "Is it possible to revoke someone's induction into the Red Sox Hall of Fame?" . .  That is an idea worth exploring.

I hope Red Sox management makes a special point of excluding Schilling from any and all celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the 2004 Red Sox's World Series championship next season.

With Four Games Left, Revisiting The 2023 W-L Contest

The 2023 Red Sox are in Baltimore and will close out their season with four games against the Orioles.

With Boston at 76-82, here are the relevant entries from 2023 W-L contest.
John G. 80-82 David F. 79-83

September 25, 2023

Schadenfreude 348 (A Continuing Series)

The Diamondbacks beat the Yankees on Sunday 7-1, mathematically eliminating the MFY from the postseason. Yankee Elimination Day has been celebrated 22 times over the last 23 seasons.

Yankee Elimination Days
YED 2001 - November 4
YED 2002 - October 5
YED 2003 - October 25
YED 2004 - October 20
YED 2005 - October 10
YED 2006 - October 7
YED 2007 - October 8
YED 2008 - September 23
YED 2010 - October 22
YED 2011 - October 6
YED 2012 - October 18
YED 2013 - September 25
YED 2014 - September 24
YED 2015 - October 6
YED 2016 - September 29
YED 2017 - October 21
YED 2018 - October 9
YED 2019 - October 19
YED 2020 - October 9
YED 2021 - October 5
YED 2022 - October 23
YED 2023 - September 24
Yankee Elimination Day is the day the New York Yankees (a) are eliminated from making the postseason or (b) lose a postseason series. This often happens late at night, so YED is celebrated the following day. Bottoms up! (Red years above are seasons in which the Red Sox directly eliminated the Yankees.)

Greg Joyce, Post:

What has been apparent for over a month is now official: The Yankees will be watching the playoffs from home. . . .

A season that began with World Series aspirations will now end next Sunday and go no further. . . . [T]he Yankees (78-77) will enter a critical offseason in which Hal Steinbenner has promised they will take a hard look at all aspects of their operation.

"When you don't show up and you don't produce and you get kicked out like this in the regular season, that's a big failure right there," Aaron Judge said. "We got a lot of work to do . . . [there is] a lot of stuff going on around here that needs to be fixed. . . . There's a lot of stuff we gotta work on and improve . . ."

[T]he only hint of intrigue over the final week of the season will be whether they can avoid their first losing record since 1992. . . .

It was a fittingly miserable Sunday afternoon in The Bronx, with rain and wind picking up throughout the game in front of a sparse crowd.

In an all-too-familiar trend, the Yankees offense was hardly heard from, mustering just six hits — a handful of them wind-aided — as they narrowly avoided being shut out by scratching across a run in the ninth inning. . . .

They were a season-high 11 games above .500 at 36-25 on June 4 . . . Since that high-water mark, the Yankees have gone 42-52 . . .

"What could go wrong has kind of gone wrong," said DJ LeMahieu . . .

Jon Heyman, Post:

The Yankees are wisely hiring an outside agency to pinpoint all their many issues . . . [L]et me save them some time and provide some Cliffs Notes to highlight the biggest problems.

Before we get to the most obvious and crushing issue, let's list some other important but secondary stuff:

1.    The Yankees remain as unhealthy as ever. Heading into the weekend, they were tied with the Reds with 37 injured list placements, behind just the Giants (42) and notoriously star-crossed Angels (38). They were third in IL days lost with 2,009, behind the Dodgers (2,345) and Angels (2,197). The Dodgers overcame their many injuries with overperformance and characteristic depth. The Yankees' depth is something less than amazing — they are more like the famously top-heavy Angels. And only one player seriously outperformed, AL Cy Young favorite Gerrit Cole.

2.    They are unathletic and unexciting. The Yankees are 20th in stolen bases (96), tied for 25th in triples (13) and dead last in doubles (206). They still somehow draw fans as they always do. Those fans are as loyal as they are angry.

3.    They don't appear to have enough big league-ready kids to spark a turnaround. Jasson Dominguez, in his recent cameo, looked like a revelation before he, too, wound up in sick bay (after Tommy John surgery, he should be ready sometime early next season). The others have had moments, but appear something short of saviors. . . .

[I]t'll take a lot to turn the Yankees back into contenders. Let's face it, not even a certain Cy Young season by Cole and another great year (two-thirds of a great year, anyway) by superstar Aaron Judge could lift them into contention. . . .

OK, now for the real issue, which is that they can't hit. Yes, they still homer now and again . . . but they have the lowest batting average among all major league teams.

Technically, the team that's hoping to go to Las Vegas, is slightly lower at .224. But the Athletics shouldn't be counted, as they obviously weren't trying this year (or at least their owner wasn't trying).

Anyway, forget them. The Yankees are at .226, which is their lowest mark since 1968, the year no one hit . . .

They have eight players with at least 50 plate appearances batting under .200. They had two former MVPs (Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Donaldson) batting under .200.

Unfortunately, this is not the year to be needing hitters. The best hitting free agent catcher may be Gary Sanchez, and we know they aren't going there.

September 18, 2023

Red Sox Fire Chaim Bloom As Chief Baseball Officer

The Red Sox fired Chaim Bloom as the team's chief baseball officer last Thursday. Bloom, who was hired in the 2019-20 off-season, had one year remaining on his five-year contract.

While the timing of the announcement may have been unexpected, the decision "did not come as a surprise", according to Alex Speier of the Globe. Under Bloom's direction, the Red Sox were little better than a .500 team (267-262, ranking 15th among 30 teams since 2020) and have a solid chance to finish in the AL East basement in three of Bloom's four seasons. 

They finished last in 2020 (a COVID-compressed, 60-game campaign) and 2022, and [are currently in last place, two games behind the fourth-place Yankees].

The Red Sox enjoyed a joyride in 2021, qualifying for the playoffs on the last day of the season and coming within two wins of a World Series berth. . . .

Bloom was hired in October 2019 at a time when the franchise recognized it would have to endure a period of pain. . . . The Red Sox farm system had been depleted, with no impactful major leaguers on the immediate horizon. . . .

In Bloom, the Red Sox sought a leader to help rebuild the farm system and player development infrastructure, and who also possessed the creativity to build a winning major league roster while pursuing those long-term goals. . . .

The 2021 season, however, seemed to signal a new direction. A number of players acquired in the offseason emerged as key contributors as the Red Sox made a run deep into October. The farm system had improved, and the Sox thought a window could be opening.

Instead, the last-place finish in 2022 and the possibility of another one in 2023 convinced owners to change course. Despite an impressive group of young players in the big leagues (Triston Casas, Brayan Bello, and Jarren Duran) as well as an improving farm system with potentially elite talents (shortstop Marcelo Mayer and outfielder Roman Anthony), the Red Sox are seeking a leader to make bold moves to jump-start contention. Bloom's methodical approach became an imperfect fit.

So, what now?

The baseball operations department will be overseen by O'Halloran and assistant GMs Eddie Romero, Raquel Ferreira, and Michael Groopman. Kennedy said the team will commence an immediate search for Bloom's replacement. . . .

[President/CEO Sam] Kennedy also said the Red Sox will not rush to replace Bloom at the expense of finding the right fit. He described the team as open-minded on questions of backgrounds, prior experience running a baseball operations department, and whether the hire will be internal or external. . . .

Whoever takes over for Bloom will arrive with an obvious sense of urgency to return to the postseason — something that could be extremely alluring, particularly given the Red Sox' considerable resources, and daunting given that Bloom is the third straight head of baseball operations to be fired in the middle of his fourth year in the job.

September 5, 2023

"He's Got A Gun In Right Field" (An Actual Gun)

From the SABR biography of William "Farmer" Weaver (1865-1943), written by Janice Johnson:
Weaver was a nineteenth-century player whose major league years occurred between 1888 and 1894. During that time, he registered a career batting average of .278 and produced 344 RBIs in 753 games, most of which he started as an outfielder for the Louisville Colonels.
At the plate, Weaver was a switch-hitter who exercised fine bat control and had a flair for timely hitting. In the outfield, he defended his territory with skill and finesse, and made the occasional eye-popping play. He brought added value with his versatility as a backup catcher, his heady base running, and his general baseball smarts.

In the view of the Louisville Courier-Journal, Weaver was "a good ball player—not a star, but a good, all-around man, better than the majority in the big League…" He laid claim to one truly exceptional major league achievement, one that was probably underappreciated at the time: he went six-for-six in a regulation game while hitting for the cycle. The six-hit/cycle combination is a feat so rare that not a single major leaguer accomplished it during the entire twentieth century.

Over nearly three decades, Weaver played the game at all levels and tried every role that the sport offered up to him—player, field captain, manager, promoter, scout and umpire—albeit briefly in some cases. Personal failings unrelated to baseball produced the most riveting chapter in his life story, however. In the fall of 1911, Weaver's world imploded in stunning fashion. For years, he had carried a dark secret. When finally exposed, its serious nature brought humiliation, shame, and worse. In quick succession, he became a fugitive, a convicted felon, a prison inmate. . . . 

Weaver married at the age of 18, taking as his wife the very young Dora Dove Dye. She was fourteen years old, fifteen at the most, when they wed in Parkersburg in the fall of 1883. Soon thereafter, the couple followed the lead of Dora’s family in migrating west, to Kansas. . . .

Weaver started his baseball career circa 1885 by joining Olathe's barnstorming town team as a catcher. He soon graduated to the professional ranks, playing in 1886 with the Topeka Capitals of the Western League. In 1887, he signed with the Wellington Browns of the independent Kansas State League, and then with the Wichita Braves of the Western League. On these early teams, Weaver often alternated between catching and roaming the outfield. . . .

By early September 1888, at least three major league teams—Louisville, Cleveland, and Kansas City—had shown an interest in acquiring Weaver. Louisville, of the American Association, was the successful suitor. . . . Weaver had signed with a team soon to leave its mark on history. With a 27-111 record, the 1889 Colonels became the first major league team to record 100 losses. Their defeat-riddled season reached its nadir with 26 consecutive losses, a major league record. . . .

Weaver had a career day in Louisville on August 12, 1890 when the Colonels defeated the Syracuse Stars, 18-4. He completely owned Ezra Lincoln and Ed Mars, the Syracuse pitchers, by hitting them for the cycle in a 6-for-6 outing. His base total for the day was 14, which he reached by hammering out two singles, one double, two triples, and one home run. He scored three runs, and had one stolen base. . . . [It would be 119 years before another major league player matched Weaver. On April 15, 2009, Ian Kinsler went 6-for-6, with two singles, two doubles, triple, home run, five runs scored, four RBI, and a stolen base.]

Weaver's most accomplished season as a fielder came in 1891. In his book Baseball Pioneers, Charles Faber rated Weaver as the American Association's leading outfielder that year. Although some variance exists among sources regarding the 1891 statistics, the 1990 Elias Baseball Analyst reports that Weaver led the league in fielding percentage, putouts, and assists in 1891, a feat not repeated by an outfielder until Gerald Young of Houston did it in 1989.

Two unusual events occurred in 1893, both of which would be unheard of today. On July 4, in a game against Washington, Weaver celebrated the holiday with his own fireworks. He took his post in right field armed not only with his glove, but also with a pistol. When a high fly headed his direction, he fired at the ball as it arced downward, emptying the gun's cylinder. He missed his mark, dropped the gun, then fielded the ball with his glove. He "created a sensation" among the Louisville fans, and must have enjoyed doing it. Two years later on the Fourth of July, he repeated the antic in a minor league game in Kansas City. . . .
This bio also includes a "Chicken Wolf" sighting!

Question of the Day: Is emptying a loaded pistol at a fly ball and then recording the out more amazing than high-fiving a fan while turning a double play? If Weaver had actually shot the ball before catching it, perhaps, but his inferior skill as a marksman inclines me to say . . . No.

[Draft post, January 31, 2020]