Category: Derek

Game 6- Tampa Bay Rays

Game 6 was a day game in Tampa with the Rays hosting the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field. The 12:10 start made for an early morning. We have driven 2,687 miles so far. The dome meant for once we did not have to worry about the weather as we watched our first American League game of the trip. It was also the first game with just Kevin and I. 30 Games in 30 Days continues.

DJ

Game 5- Atlanta Braves

Game 5 brought us to Atlanta with the Braves hosting the San Diego Padres at Truist Park. We have driven 2,189 miles so far. The weather was touch and go, but it was a beautiful night for baseball. It was great to catch up with family and friends before heading further south. 30 Games in 30 Days continues.

DJ

Game 2- Cincinnati Red

Game 2 took us to Cincinnati for the Reds vs Brewers at Great American Ball Park. We have driven 746 miles so far. The Reds game was more fun the the Cardinals and gave us plenty of firsts for the trip. Kevin has taken a 2 to 0 lead in our predictions of the winner of each game, as the home team is still searching for their first victory. Leaving early for our next game in Philadelphia. 30 in 30 continues.

DJ

United States of Baseball- Minnesota

Minnesota has had its share of baseball glory. The Twins have put the Land of 10,000 Lakes on the baseball map with players like Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett, and Joe Mauer. The fear of contraction is gone. On the field the state of Minnesota has been well represented. The greatest pitcher born in Minnesota is Jerry Koosman. His 56.96 career WAR ranks 24th highest among state and territory leaders. Paul Molitor is the greatest Minnesota born position player. His 75.71 career WAR ranks 23rd highest. Minnesota’s combined 132.67 WAR ranks 24th highest among all states and territories.

Jerry Koosman would have been a helicopter pilot in Vietnam if not for a military dentist transferring him to Texas and the son of a Mets usher pointing a scout in the right direction. The Lefty from Appleton pitched 19 seasons in the Majors with four teams: New York Mets (1967-1978), Minnesota Twins (1979-1981), Chicago White Sox (1981-1983), and Philadelphia Phillies (1984-1985). Koosman pitched in 612 career Games, made 527 Starts, Finished 43 Games, threw 140 Complete Games, including 33 Shutouts, collected 17 Saves, Pitched 3,839.1 Innings, allowed 3,635 Hits, 1,608 Runs, 1,433 Earned Runs, 290 Home Runs, 1,198 Walks, 2,556 Strikeouts, posted a 222-209 record, 3.36 ERA, 1.259 WHIP, and 110 ERA+. He was a two time All Star. Koosman is the last pitcher to win 20 Games one season and then lose 20 the next. In 1991 he failed to receive 5% of the vote for the Hall of Fame and was removed from the ballot. 

Jerry Koosman was a key figure in the Mets winning the 1969 World Series. (Getty Images)

Koosman helped build the Mets into a winner. He pitched behind Tom Seaver and helped lead the Amazin’s to the World Series in 1969 and 1973. In the Fall Classics, Koosman made 4 Starts, threw 1 Complete Game, Pitched 26.1 Innings, allowed 16 Hits, 7 Runs, 7 Earned Runs, 2 Home Runs, 11 Walks, 17 Strikeouts, posted a 3-0 record, 2.39 ERA, and 1.025 WHIP. He was on the mound when the Miracle Mets of 1969 brought a World Series title to Queens. 

The best season of Koosman’s career was the year of the pitcher. In 1968 he pitched in 35 Games for the Mets, made 34 Starts, threw 17 Complete Games, including 7 Shutouts, Pitched 263.2 Innings, allowed 221 Hits, 72 Runs, 61 Earned Runs, 16 Home Runs, 69 Walks, 178 Strikeouts, posted a 19-12 record, 2.08 ERA, 1.100 WHIP, and 145 ERA+. Koosman’s 7 Shutouts set the then Mets record. He was an All Star and finished second for the National League Rookie of the Year, one vote behind Johnny Bench. He also finished 13th for the MVP. In the Year of the Pitcher, Koosman was not strongly considered for the Cy Young despite having an outstanding season. 

Paul Molitor’s Hall of Fame career almost did not happen. Injuries and a cocaine habit nearly derailed the St. Paul native. Molitor played 21 seasons with three teams: Milwaukee Brewers (1978-1992), Toronto Blue Jays (1993-1995), and Minnesota Twins (1996-1998). He played all over the field, but primarily Third and Second Base. In 2,683 career Games, Molitor collected 3,319 Hits, 605 Doubles, 114 Triples, 234 Home Runs, 1,307 RBI, scored 1,782 Runs, 504 Stolen Bases, 1,094 Walks, 1,244 Strikeouts, .306 BA, .367 OBP, .444 SLG, .817 OPS, and 122 OPS+. He was a seven time All Star and four time Silver Slugger. Molitor was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2004 on the first ballot. After his playing career, Molitor returned to the Twins as their manager for four seasons, winning the 2017 American League Manager of the Year award

Paul Molitor could play everywhere on the diamond and was always dangerous with the bat. (Ron Vesely/ MLB Photos)

Molitor played in two World Series. His 1982 Brewers lost to the Cardinals, while his 1993 Blue Jays defeated the Phillies. Molitor played in 13 World Series Games, collected 23 Hits, 2 Doubles, 2 Triples, 2 Home Runs, 11 RBI, scored 15 Runs, 2 Stolen Bases, 5 Walks, 4 Strikeouts, .418 BA, .475 OBP, .636 SLG, and 1.112 OPS. He was the 1993 World Series MVP after hitting .500 in 24 At Bats. Many thought Molitor’s best years were behind him, but they were wrong.

The best season of Molitor’s career was 1993 with Toronto. He played in 160 Games, collected 211 Hits, 37 Doubles, 5 Triples, 22 Home Runs, 111 RBI, scored 121 Runs, 22 Stolen Bases, 77 Walks, 71 Strikeouts, .332 BA, .402 OBP, .509 SLG, .911 OPS, and 143 OPS+. Molitor led the Junior Circuit in Hits and Plate Appearances (725). He was an All Star and won the Silver Slugger award. He finished second in the American League MVP voting behind Frank Thomas.

Minnesota has plenty of baseball history. The state is represented in Cooperstown by four players: Chief Bender, Paul Molitor, Jack Morris, and Dave Winfield. The Land of 10,000 Lakes continues building upon its great baseball legacy. The United States of Baseball is taking a break as The Winning Run prepares for our 30 in 30 road trip. When we return we will head south to the Magnolia State. Mississippi is next. 

DJ

Roberto Clemente: The Pride of Puerto Rico

Roberto Clemente is revered in Puerto Rico. He is the unquestioned king of Puerto Rican baseball. The legendary baseball player has a nearly mythical status on the island. 

The trail blazing Right Fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates was the first Puerto Rican inducted into the Hall of Fame. Clemente is not just the greatest player from the island, he is among the greatest to ever play the game. Clemente’s career numbers leave little doubt about his place in Puerto Rican baseball history. He played 2,433 Games, had 10,212 Plate Appearances, 9,454 At Bats, collected 3,000 Hits, 440 Doubles, 166 Triples, 240 Home Runs, 1,305 RBI , scored 1,416 Runs, 83 Stolen Bases, 621 Walks, 1,230 Strikeouts, .317 BA, .359 OBP, .475 SLG, .834 OPS, 130 OPS+, and 94.76 WAR. An obvious Hall of Famer. 

Roberto Clemente was a true humanitarian who gave his time and money to help people in need. (Roberto Clemente Museum)

How does Clemente rank among Puerto Rican players? He played the third most Games, had the fourth most Plate Appearances and third most At Bats. He is the only Puerto Rican member of the 3,000 Hit club, with 156 more Hits than fellow Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez. Clemente ranks sixth in Doubles. He easily outdistanced himself as the Triples leader with 166, 72 more than Jose Cruz. He ranks 12th in Home Runs, seventh in RBI, and third in Runs scored. Clemente Stole the 20th most Bases, drew the 10th most Walks, and Struck Out the 11th most times. His career .317 BA is the highest among qualified Puerto Ricans and one of only two with a .300 career BA. Clemente is seventh in OBP, 10th in SLG, and ninth in OPS. His 94.76 career WAR is the highest for any Puerto Rican player and 24.67 ahead of Carlos Beltran. Clemente’s 15 All Star games are the most by any Puerto Rican player. His play on the field made him the pride of Puerto Rico, but his actions off the diamond made Clemente a legend. 

Roberto Clemente was a true humanitarian. He supported people financially, gave his time, put on baseball camps, and fought racial and ethnic prejudice. Throughout his career Clemente was referred to as Bob instead of Roberto. He hated the anglicizing of his name, he was proud of his Puerto Rican heritage. Despite this, and other slights, Clemente never responded with anything other than kindness. After his tragic death the Hall of Fame waived the usual five year wait period and inducted Clemente through a special election in 1973. In 1971 MLB began presenting the Commissioner’s Award for “The player that best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team”. The award was renamed the Roberto Clemente Award in 1973. Clemente was a dedicated humanitarian and the award helps continue his legacy of selfless service to others. There is no better legacy. 

Retire #21.

DJ

Take It Off

MLB finally decided to tackle the use of foreign substances and in typical fashion it is not going well. Like the Steroid Era, MLB let an issue fester until it was forced to act. Congress forced action on steroids. The lack of offense is forcing action on foreign substances used by pitchers. Foreign substances are not entirely to blame for baseball’s offensive decline. Defensive shifts have turned balls in play that previously were hits into outs. The focus on hitting for power and higher strikeout rates have also caused the decline in offense. The three true outcomes (Home Run, Strikeout, Walk) have taken much of the action out of the game. 

MLB umpires are increasingly under the microscope. They have been much maligned for getting calls wrong. As a whole, MLB umpires are incredibly accurate. Small changes, such as the crew chief announcing the results of a challenge would help maintain confidence in the arbitration of the game. People may not agree with the ruling, but it would be better than the guessing game currently in place. MLB has put the umpires in a terrible position with checking pitchers for foreign substances. Yes, umpires police the game, but MLB created the wild west on the mound. The “punishment” for foreign substances is laughable. A 10 game suspension with pay, a mini-vacation. Baseball should have enforced the foreign substance rule years ago. Players need sunscreen. Mixing sunscreen and rosin does create a foreign substance, maybe mandate rosin only on the hands. Maybe allow the mixing of the two, after all rosin is a legal foreign substance. Batters want the pitcher to know where the ball is going. MLB should allow something that gives pitchers grip, but not an advantage. Player safety is always a good thing. 

Oakland’s Sergio Romo was out to prove he did not use a foreign substance on the mound and gave the Umpires and fans a show. (NBC Sports)

Enforcement has already turned into a bad comedy. Teams are having umpires check pitchers, which is coming close to becoming Adult Only content. Sergio Romo and Max Scherzer have put on a show, as they strip for everyone to see. Opposing teams are asking for checks in an effort to throw off the pitcher. It is a matter of time before bean balls start flying. MLB was asleep at the wheel. The game needed to correct itself from the offensive onslaught that has permeated the game since the Steroid Era. However, Commissioner Rob Manfred and MLB over-corrected. Baseball now owns Rawlings and as such have control over the centerpiece of the game. The league can juice and/or dejuice the balls as they want. Any changes to the baseball is on MLB, not the supplier. It is never good when a player like Pete Alonso suggests MLB is altering the balls based on the upcoming free agent class. These sort of allegations allow the minds of fans and players to run wild. 

MLB should have cracked down on the use of foreign substances a long time ago. The horse is out of the barn. MLB is trying to corral it back inside, but it would have been easier to have simply shut the gate beforehand. Baseball can only blame itself for this problem. 

DJ

United States of Baseball- Michigan

The Great Lakes dominate the landscape of Michigan. The Wolverine State is an outdoor playground in every season. While the snow piles up in Winter, it has not prevented Michigan from sending 444 players to the Majors. The greatest pitcher born in Michigan is John Smoltz. His 68.96 career WAR ranks 17th highest among state and territory leaders. The greatest Michigan born position player is Charlie Gehringer. His 83.75 career WAR ranks 19th highest among state and territory leaders. The Wolverine State has a combined 152.71 WAR, ranking Michigan 18th highest. 

John Smoltz is forever tied to Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine as they led the Atlanta Braves to an unprecedented stretch of dominance in the 1990’s. The Detroit native pitched 21 seasons with three teams: Atlanta Braves (1988-2008), Boston Red Sox (2009), and St. Louis Cardinals (2009). Despite missing all of 2000 due to Tommy John Surgery, Smoltz pitched in 723 career Games, made 481 Starts, Finished 204 Games, threw 53 Complete Games, including 16 Shutouts, 154 Saves, Pitched 3,473 Innings, allowed 3,074 Hits, 1,391 Runs, 1,284 Earned Runs, 288 Home Runs, 1,010 Walks, 3,084 Strikeouts, posted a 210-147 record, 3.33 ERA, 1.176 WHIP, and 125 ERA+. Originally drafted in the 22nd Round by his hometown Detroit Tigers in 1985, he was traded to Atlanta for Doyle Alexander two years later. Smotz’s skills on the mound allowed him to lead the National League in Wins at age 29 and 39, and Saves at age 35. He was an eight time All Star. He was named the 1992 National League Championship Series MVP and won the 1995 World Series with the Braves. Smoltz won the Cy Young award in 1996 and the Silver Slugger award in 1997. After transitioning to the Closer role, he won the 2002 Rolaids Relief award. Smoltz received the 2005 Roberto Clemente Award. In 2015, Smoltz was elected to the Hall of Fame, becoming the then lowest drafted Hall of Famer.

John Smoltz helped the Braves win 14 consecutive division titles. (www.georgiasportshalloffame.com)

Smoltz helped Atlanta reach the Postseason and continued his success in October. In 41 career Postseason Games, he made 27 Starts, Finished 11 Games, threw 2 Complete Games, including 1 Shutout, 4 Saves, Pitched 209 Innings, allowed 172 Hits, 67 Runs, 62 Earned Runs, 17 Home Runs, 67 Walks, 199 Strikeouts, posted a 15-4 record, 2.67 ERA, and 1.144 WHIP. Smoltz gave the Braves an opportunity to win every time he took the mound. 

Smoltz’s best season was 1996. He made 35 Starts, threw 6 Complete Games, including 2 Shutouts, Pitched 253.2 Innings, allowed 199 Hits, 93 Runs, 83 Earned Runs, 19 Home Runs, 55 Walks, 276 Strikeouts, posted a 24-8 record, 2.94 ERA, 1.001 WHIP, and 149 ERA+. He led the National League in Wins, Winning Percentage, Innings Pitched, and Strikeouts. He was named an All Star, finished 11th in MVP voting, and won the Cy Young. Pure dominance. 

Detroit fans voted Charlie Gehringer as the greatest second baseman in the storied history of the Tigers. Fan chose Gehringer over the beloved Lou Whitaker. Gehringer played 19 seasons for the Detroit Tigers (1924-1942). The Fowlerville native played in 2,323 Games, collected 2,839 Hits, 574 Doubles, 146 Triples, 184 Home Runs, 1,427 RBI, scored 1,775 Runs, 181 Stolen Bases, 1,186 Walks, 372 Strikeouts, .320 BA, .404 OBP, .480 SLG, .884 OPS, and 125 OPS+. Gehringer hit over .300 13 times in 14 seasons, with his .298 BA in 1932 as the lone exception. He was named to the first six All Star games, helped the Tigers win the 1935 World Series, and won both the American League Batting Title and MVP in 1937. Gehringer was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1949 in a special runoff election, but was unable to attend as the ceremony coincided with his own wedding. He served on the Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee from 1953 to 1990. The Tigers retired his #2 in 1983.

The Mechanical Man was consistently brilliant for the Tigers. (Getty Images)

Gehringer’s success helped the Tigers reach the World Series three times (1934, 1935, and 1940), winning in 1935. In the World Series, Gehringer played in 20 Games, collected 26 Hits, 4 Doubles, 1 Home Runs, 7 RBI, scored 12 Runs, 2 Stolen Bases, 7 Walks, 1 Strikeout, .321 BA, .375 OBP, .407 SLG, and .782 OPS. Detroit twice lost Game 7, the Tigers were close to dominating all of baseball not just the American League. 

The best season of Gehringer’s career was 1934. He played in 154 Games, collected 214 Hits, 50 Doubles, 7 Triples, 11 Home Runs, 127 RBI, scored 135 Runs, 11 Stolen Bases, 99 Walks, 25 Strikeouts, .356 BA, .450 OBP, .517 SLG, .967 OPS, and 149 OPS+. He led the Junior Circuit in Games played, Hits, and Runs scored. Gehringer finished second in MVP voting while leading the Tigers to the American League Pennant.  

Michigan’s proud baseball legacy continues to grow. The Wolverine State has sent seven native sons to Cooperstown: Kiki Cuyler, Charlie Gehringer, Larry MacPhail (Executive), Hal Newhouser, Ted Simmons, John Smoltz, and Tom Yawkey (Executive). More will surely follow. Next week the United States of Baseball continues it’s exploration of the water in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Minnesota is next. 

DJ