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]