Tagged: Cubs

Predictions That Did Go Wrong 7.0

Another season of baseball, another year of being completely wrong about how the season played out. We did fairly well, by our own standards, in the Postseason, but continue to fall short as a whole. Despite our best efforts the Sisyphean task continues. 

A scoring system is necessary to determine who made the best predictions. Scoring for the Regular Season is straight forward, one point for each correct prediction. A correct prediction is the team’s final divisional standings. A perfect Regular Season is 30 points. We were not close to perfection. 

American League East

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
YankeesGod’s Waiting RoomYankeesYankeesYankeesYankeesRays
RaysSpankiesDudein JaysRaysPoutineRaysRed Sox
Snow BirdsSorrysDevil RaysFlorida BirdsRaysBlue JaysYankees
Red SoxBaltimoreSad BirdsRed SuxRacistsRed SoxBlue Jays
Dead BirdSoxFenwaysBmoreOh DearOriolesOrioles

American League Central 

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
Black SoxTwinkiesChiSoxChiSoxTwinsWhite SoxWhite Sox
TwinkiesSouth SidersTwinkletittesTwinklesWhite SoxTwinsGuardians
MonarchsTeam to be named laterQuarter PoundersClevelandRoyalsRoyalsTigers
SpidersTigersCleveland Football teamRoyalsSpidersSpidersRoyals
Motor City KittiesMonarchsDetroit Why Am I HeresTigersTigersTigersTwins

American League West

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
MoneyballWhite ElephantsLA’s other teamA’sBeane BallersAthleticsTrastros
TroutHouston Astr-hosMoneyballTrash CansAngelsAngelsMariners
Trash CansAngelsCheatersAngelsCheatersAstrosAthletics
Ranger DangerNolan Ryan Hot DogsSea hagsStarbucksMarinersMarinersAngels
MarinersGriffey Used to Play HereAgent ZerosChuck NorrisRangersRangersRangers
The White Sox won the Field of Dreams game and were aiming for more in October. (NBC Sports)

National League East

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
BravesBravosAtlanta BallclubBravesBravosBravosBraves
NatsFishFlorida FishMetsMarlinsMarlinsMets
MarlinsAmazins2019 ChampsNatsNationalsNatsMarlins
PhanaticsPholliesSad HarpersPhilliesPhilliesPhilliesNationals

National League Central

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
Red BirdsCincy…..why not?ArenadosMiller TimeCardinalsCardinalsBrewers
Red LegsCardsDrink pretty goodCardinalsBrewersBrewersCardinals
Brew CrewBrewcroodsShitcagoRedsCubsRedsReds
Teddy BearsBuccarooniesCincincincin…..CubbiesRedsCubsCubs
Burn the ShipsNorthsidersNice stadiumsBonds’ ex-gfJack SparrowsPiratesPirates

National League West

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
DodgersYou want a hot apple pie with that?BettsDodgersPadresDodgersGiants
DaddyThe over hyped LA teamPadresPadresScullysPadresDodgers
SnakesSILVER BULLET!!!!!!!!GentsGiantsRattlersGiantsPadres
Jolly GreensScam Fram BricsoQuarterbacksDbacksGiantsDiamondbacksRockies
Rockie Mt HighI’m a snakeIt Smoke Pretty GoodRockiesRock BottomsRockiesDiamondbacks

Beginning in the Junior Circuit, John completely whiffed on his beloved American League East. No one else did much better. Jesse correctly guessed Tampa Bay to win the East, while Derek, Kevin, Bernie, and The Winning Run knew the Orioles were destined for the cellar. Moving to the heart of the country and the Central, this time it was Jesse and Bernie striking out. Derek, John, Kevin, and The Winning Run kept the faith with the White Sox and Tony La Russa. Kevin added another point with the Royals finishing fourth. Out west Jesse’s second missed division was joined by Derek. John, Kevin, Bernie, and The Winning Run managed to predict the Rangers’ last place finish. The Junior Circuit was a struggle, but things turned around in the National League.

Historically, the National League East is our strongest division as we mostly follow these teams. Everyone predicted the Braves to win their fourth consecutive East title. Gold stars for everyone. Derek found another point with the Marlins in fourth place, and Kevin picked up a second point from the amazin Mets in third place. The Central was our strongest division. Derek picked up two points with the Cubs and Pirates at the bottom of the division. Jesse  grabbed a point with the Cardinals in second place. John picked up a point thanks to the Pirates in last place. Kevin ran the table with a perfect division, the only perfecto of the season. Bernie also got a point from the lowly Pirates. The Winning Run grabbed three points from the Reds, Cubs, and Pirates on the wrong side of the division. The National League West was a two team race for months. Did we see that coming? Nope. Derek, John, Kevin, and The Winning Run missed the entire division. Jesse was a magician with two points thanks to the Dodgers in second place and the Diamondbacks in last. Bernie also had the Dodgers in second place. The Senior Circuit was kinder, but still not great. 

Buster Posey helped lead the Giants to 107 wins and one last trip to the Postseason before riding off into the sunset. (NBC Bay Area/ Sports)

The standings at the end of the Regular Season: 

  1. Kevin- 11
  2. The Winning Run- 7
  3. Derek- 6
  4. Bernie- 5
  5. Jesse- 5
  6. John- 4

If you make it to the Postseason, you have a chance. October is when you can run up the score. The scoring system changes in the Postseason: two points for predicting the Wild Card, four for the Divisional Series, eight for the Championship Series, and 16 for the World Series and the Champion. A perfect Postseason is 120 points. 

American League Wild Card

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
RaysYankeesJaysRaysWhite SoxTwinsRed Sox
TwinsSouthsidersRaysTwinklesBlue JaysRaysYankees

National League Wild Card

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
PadresThe over hyped LA teamMetsPadresMetsBrewersCardinals

American League Divisional Series

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
RaysWhite ElephantsYankeesYankeesAthleticsYankeesRed Sox
Black SoxSouthsidersSoxRaysWhite SoxRaysRays
MoneyballGod’s Waiting RoomJaysChiSoxTwinsWhite SoxWhite Sox

Nationals League Divisional Series

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
BravesCincy…..why not?PadresBravesCardinalsBravesBraves
CardinalsYou want a hot apple pie with that?CardsMiller TimePadresCardinalsBrewers

American League Championship Series

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
Black SoxWhite ElephantsYankeesYankeesYankeesYankeesAstros
RaysTwinkiesChiSoxChiSoxWhite SoxWhite SoxRed Sox

National League Championship Series

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
PadresYou want a hot apple pie with that?PadresPadresBravesPadresDodgers

World Series

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
Black SoxBravosYankeesYankeesCardinalsBravesBraves

The Wild Card round is the most unpredictable part of the Postseason. Jesse was the only one to have a team in the American League Wild Card game, the Yankees. He got another two points for the Dodgers in the National League Wild Card game, as did Bernie. The rest of us were shutout, but that soon changed. Derek, Jesse, Kevin, and The Winning Run grabbed eight points from the Rays and White Sox in the American League Divisional Series. John and Bernie also had the White Sox, but missed Tampa Bay. Derek, Bernie, and The Winning Run saw the future of the Braves and Dodgers in the National League Divisional Series. Jesse had the Braves and John had the Dodgers. Once again Kevin was the top of the class by predicting the Braves, Dodgers, AND Brewers. 

No one needs to talk about the American League Championship Series. We missed it, not a single correct prediction. We had Yankees vs White Sox, except Jesse with Oakland vs Minnesota. A rematch of last year’s National League Championship Series got us back on track. John had the Dodgers returning to defend their National League crown, while the rest of us saw the Braves returning for another chance at the Pennant. We also saw the Padres there too. We are not great at reading the National League’s future. Finally, the Fall Classic. Derek, Jesse, Kevin, and The Winning Run had the Braves reaching the World Series. John and Bernie saw the Yankees playing the Dodgers or Cardinals. Derek, Jesse, and The Winning Run had Atlanta winning the World Series. Maybe our fandom got in the way, regardless we predicted the World Series champion. 

The Atlanta Braves made out predictions and dreams come true by winning the World Series. (Johnny Angelillo/UPI/REX/Shutterstock)

Tracking our predictions round by round:

Regular Season 

  1. Kevin- 11
  2. The Winning Run- 7
  3. Derek- 6
  4. Bernie- 5
  5. Jesse- 5
  6. John- 4

Wild Card

  1. Kevin- 11
  2. Jesse- 9
  3. Bernie- 7
  4. The Winning Run- 7
  5. Derek- 6
  6. John- 4

Division Series

  1. Kevin- 31
  2. The Winning Run- 23
  3. Derek- 22
  4. Jesse- 21
  5. Bernie- 19
  6. John- 12

Championship Series

  1. Kevin- 39
  2. The Winning Run- 31
  3. Derek- 30
  4. Jesse- 29
  5. Bernie- 27
  6. John- 20

World Series 

  1. The Winning Run- 63
  2. Derek- 62
  3. Jesse- 61
  4. Kevin- 55
  5. Bernie- 27
  6. John- 20

After not making predictions in 2020 due to the uncertainty of the season, we returned for another season of our collective baseball predicting powers being superior to our individual abilities. The Winning Run wins for the second consecutive season. We are terrible at predicting baseball’s future, but it is always fun to try. See you in the Spring. 

DJ, JJ, JB, KB, and BL

Game 11- Chicago Cubs

Game 11 was in Chicago at Wrigley Field. No other stadium is like Wrigley. Every baseball fan needs to experience a Cubs home win. It is baseball at its best. Chicago was great after our first full night’s sleep in several days. We have driven 5,741 miles so far. A quick sleep before a day game in Minnesota awaited us. 30 Games in 30 Days continues.


The 30 in 30 Schedule

The baseball schedule is a grind. Day after day, game after game. 162 games is no easy feat. Neither is 30 games in 30 days. We have our schedule for seeing all 30 teams in 30 days. It is not for the faint of heart. 

After much time and research, here is the schedule we will follow for our 30 in 30 baseball road trip. 

July 16July 17
St. Louis
July 18July 19July 20July 21July 22July 23July 24
Philadelphia PhilliesWashington NationalsAtlanta
Tampa Bay RaysMiami
Kansas City Royals
July 25July 26July 27July 28July 29July 30July 31
Cleveland SpidersBaltimore OriolesBoston
Red Sox
Blue Jays
August 1August 2August 3August 4August 5August 6August 7
New York
New York YankeesDetroit
Milwaukee BrewersChicago White SoxColorado
Los Angeles Dodgers
August 8August 9August 10August 11August 12August 13August 14
Oakland AthleticsSan Diego
Los Angeles AngelsSeattle
San Francisco GiantsArizona DiamondbacksTexas

In 30 days we will drive 15,611 miles and roughly 237 hours. We have 11 drives over 500 miles. This includes three drives over 500 miles, three over 700 miles, and five over 1,000 miles. We will be driving a rental car, no sense destroying our own cars. There will be long days where we do not want to drive. However, it will be worth it in the end. 

This is one of the truly great baseball road trips. The most common reaction from people has been shock at the enormity of the trip and the amount of driving. Kevin and I both understand and are thankful Bernie will be joining us later in the trip to be our third driver. Hopefully knowing the end is in sight energizes us. 

There are two types of challenging drives. Difficulty because of game start time and distance. The two drives that are difficult because of start times are early in the journey. Our third game is the Phillies with a 1:05 PM start time. It is 576 miles and almost 9 hours from Cincinnati and Philadelphia. The easy solution would be to drive some after the Reds game. However, I live in Cincinnati so it makes more sense to sleep in my own bed before leaving. This means we will hit the road around 3 AM. Rise and drive. The second challenging start time is in Tampa. We will be coming from Atlanta, 493 miles and almost 8 hours away. The Rays game starts at 12:10 PM. Again the easy solution is to start driving the night before, but finances play a role. I am from Atlanta so we will stay with my family, plus hang out with Jesse and John. You cannot pass up free lodging. Kevin and I will have another 3 AM departure. Great for beating traffic, but no one wants to wake up that early. 

We are hoping for nothing but blue skies, green grass, and baseball. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

The second category of difficult drives is the distance between teams. Try as we might, some teams are isolated or at dead ends. The Marlins and Rays present a problem. The Braves are the only close team so we knew there would be a long drive to or from Florida. We will have a mostly free day in Miami, and free lodging thanks to our friend Jason, so we should be rested for the drive to Houston. The Astros are 1,186 miles and 17 hours away. Unfortunately Miami has a night game, so another short night before setting off around 2 AM. The change from Eastern to Central Time helps, but a 17 hour drive is tough. Miami to Houston is our longest drive of the trip. 

The West Coast could make or break the trip. Our limited window and the schedule gave us limited options. The trip west begins after seeing the White Sox. We will drive 1,004 miles and 14 and a half hours to Denver. The time zones again help. After the Rockies game we have to keep moving, our next game is in Los Angeles. Dodger Stadium is 1,022 miles and almost 15 hours away. Back to back 1,000 mile days will be brutal, but our baseball guardian angel, Bernie, joins us at the perfect time. After a few days driving up and down California we face a drive from Anaheim to Seattle. The Mariners are 1,163 miles and 18 hours north. While it is a few miles shorter than Miami to Houston, California traffic can be a nightmare. The key is simply getting out of Los Angeles.  The final long drive is to our final game. We head 1,047 miles and 15 hours east from Phoenix to Arlington for the Rangers game. The time zones will work against us. The final leg will either have us completely spent or we will be hyped as we complete the most ridiculous trip of our lives. The only thing that will matter is watching our 30th game in 30 days. 

There will be plenty of difficult drives along the way, but we know these are the ones that will test our commitment to completing 30 in 30. Having an off day in Miami and New York should reenergize us. The short drives between Milwaukee and Chicago as well as San Diego and Los Angeles will give one of us a day off. This is our schedule to see 30 games in 30 days. Hopefully we hit minimal traffic and avoid rain delays and rain outs. 


United States of Baseball- Iowa

“Is this heaven?” “No, it’s Iowa.”

Field of Dreams is one of the best baseball movies ever made. It shines a light on Iowa and its contribution to the game. The Hawkeye State has sent 222 players to the Major Leagues. There are several terrific pitchers from Iowa, but Red Faber is the best. His 67.67 career WAR ranks 21st among state and territory leaders. Cap Anson is the greatest position player from the Hawkeye State. His 94.28 career WAR is the 13th highest among state and territory leaders. Faber and Anson give Iowa 161.95 WAR, 17th highest among all states and territories. 

Red Faber was on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Opening Day roster in 1911, but was sent to the minors before pitching in a game. In Minneapolis, of the American Association, the Cascade native hurt his arm in a distance throwing contest. If not for learning to throw the spitball, his career would have been over. Urban Clarence Faber was later one of 17 pitchers grandfathered in when the spitball was made illegal before the 1920 season. He would be the last spitballer to play his entire career in the American League. 

Sometimes in life you are at the right place at the right time. A group of All Stars embarked on an Around The World Tour in 1914. They hoped to spread the game and create more business for Al Spalding’s sporting goods company. When Christy Mathewson backed out over concerns of seasickness, Faber replaced him. It was the break of a lifetime. White Sox owner Charles Comiskey was impressed by the young right hander and bought his contract for the 1914 season. Faber would spend his entire 20 season career with the White Sox (1914-1933). He pitched in 669 Games, made 483 Starts, threw 273 Complete Games, including 29 Shutouts, pitched 4,086.2 Innings, allowed 4,106 Hits, 1,813 Runs, 1,430 Earned Runs, 111 Home Runs, 1,213 Walks, 1,471 Strikeouts, posting a 254-213 record, 3.15 ERA, 1.302 WHIP, and 119 ERA+. He pitched three career One Hitters, but never a No Hitter. Faber pitched in four games and won three for the White Sox in the 1917 World Series. He did not pitch for the Black Sox in the tarnished 1919 World Series as he recovered from the flu and multiple injuries. He twice led the American League in ERA (1921-1922). Faber was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964 by the Veterans Committee. 

Red Faber reached Cooperstown by impressing Charles Comiskey, learning the spitball, and avoiding the Black Sox. (Charles Conlon/SN Archives)

Faber’s best season was in 1921. He pitched in 43 Games, made 39 Starts, threw 32 Complete Games, including 4 Shutouts, pitched 330.2 Innings, allowed 293 Hits 107 Runs, 91 Earned Runs, 10 Home Runs, 87 Walks, 124 Strikeouts, posted a 25-15 record, 2.48 ERA, 1.149 WHIP, and 170 ERA+. He led the Junior Circuit in Complete Games, ERA, WHIP, and ERA+. Faber’s 25 Wins accounted for 40% of Chicago’s wins in the aftermath of the Black Sox Scandal. 

Cap Anson was baseball’s first superstar and the face of racism in baseball. Adrian Constantine Anson alone did not prevent African-Americans from playing Major League Baseball, but his stature and fierce racism helped solidify baseball’s color line. The Marshalltown native played First Base and Managed for most of his career. In 27 seasons, Anson played for three teams: Rockford Forest Citys (1871), Philadelphia Athletics (1872-1875), and Chicago White Stockings/ Colts (1876-1897). He managed three teams in 21 seasons: Philadelphia Athletics (1875), Chicago White Stockings/ Colts (1879, 1880-1897), and New York Giants (1898). He was a fierce competitor, winning five National League pennants and posting a 1,295-947 record, .578 Win%, as a manager. Anson was the second manager with 1,000 wins, after Harry Wright, and the first player to collect 3,000 Hits. 

The ferocity that made him such a great player also made Anson plenty of enemies. He was an outspoken opponent of the Players League, and sought to undermine it. Anson later believed former members of the Players League conspired to deny him multiple pennants after the Players League’s collapse. He never let go of a grudge. 

Cap Anson was baseball’s first superstar. A talented player and manager, he is forever linked to baseball color line. (National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Cap Anson was the last barehanded first baseman, finally wearing a glove in 1892. He helped lead the 1914 Around the World Baseball tour with his good friend Al Spalding. In his legendary career, Anson played in 2,524 Games, collected 3,435 Hits. 582 Doubles, 142 Triples, 97 Home Runs, 2,075 RBI, scored 1,999 Runs, 277 Stolen Bases, 984 Walks, 330 Strikeouts, .334 BA, .394 OBP, .447 SLG, .841 OPS, and 142 OPS+. When he retired, Anson was the all time leader in Games Played, At Bats, Runs scored, Hits, Doubles, RBI, and Managerial Wins. Over 120 years after he last played for the Cubs, he remains the franchise leader in Hits, Runs scored, Doubles, and RBI. Anson won four Batting Titles (1879, 1881, 1887, and 1888). He remains 9th all time in Runs scored, 7th in Hits, 22nd in Doubles, 5th in RBI, and 4th in Singles. Defensively at First, Anson is 7th in Games Played, 2nd in Putouts, and 1st in Errors. Anson was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939.

In his long career, Anson had plenty of great seasons, but his 1886 season with the White Stockings was his best. In 125 Games, he collected 187 Hits, 35 Doubles, 11 Triples, 10 Home Runs, 147 RBI, scored 117 Runs, 29 Stolen Bases, 55 Walks, 19 Strikeouts, .371 BA, .433 OBP, .544 SLG, .977 OPS, and 180 OPS+. He led the National League in RBI. Anson’s greatness on the field is difficult to confine to a single season, but 1886 provides a useful comparison to the modern game.

Iowa continues to play an important role in the growth of baseball. The Hawkeye State has seven native sons in the Hall of Fame: Cap Anson, Dave Bancroft, Fred Clarke, Red Faber, Bob Feller, Dazzy Vance, and J.L. Wilkinson (Executive). More will surely follow. Next week the United States of Baseball moves to the Great Plains and the Sunflower State. Kansas is next. 


30 Teams in 30 Days

There will be moments where we question why we are doing this. Why would two people subject themselves to endless hours of driving just to watch baseball? The goal is simple, see all 30 MLB teams, in their home ballparks, in 30 days. All done by driving, no flying. It is crazy and I have wanted to do it for years. Others have done the ultimate baseball road trip, but I wanted my own adventure. 

The first task was to find someone to go with me. It is physically impossible to do this trip solo. Everyone needs a break from driving. If I could not convince someone to join me, the trip was over before it began. I began talking about the trip with friends. Most were shocked by the idea and several wanted to join, but could not take 30 days off work. I am a teacher, so my summers are relatively free, other than umpiring baseball. Success came when I talked to Kevin. He has the ability to work from the road and can take some time off. Copilot secured, now the real nightmare begins. 

Pulling off 30 teams in 30 days is a logistical nightmare. First you have to figure out the schedule so you can hit every team within a 30 day window. If one team is not at home or has an off day the entire schedule is ruined. The east coast is fairly easy, teams are close enough together to skip around and still hit every stadium without too much hassle. Florida presents a challenge as Atlanta is the only team close enough to reach Tampa or Miami without a long drive. The west coast is the most difficult portion of the trip to plan. Seattle is off by itself and Colorado is in a no man’s land between teams. The trip requires the ability to string together isolated cities. If one team is not home on a certain day, the chain is broken and the entire schedule must be reworked.

Bernie will be joining Kevin and Derek for different sections of their journey to all 30 ball parks in 30 days. (The Winning Run/ BL)

Connecting teams creates the second challenge of the trip. What teams can you feasibly drive to each day and still arrive in time for first pitch? The grind of a month on the road will wear down even the most excited baseball fan. Planning has to account for the realities of exhaustion and the desire to not drive all day, every day. Connecting two teams with a short drive is critical for maintaining energy and sanity. Even better is if both teams in Los Angeles, Chicago, and/or New York are home at the same time. A glorious day out of the car. Your body and mind will thank you. 

The logistical nightmares are not confined to the baseball schedule. You have to plan where you will sleep each night. Always staying in a hotel is financially impossible. Creativity and personal relationships are key. We will stay in a hotel some nights. However, the majority of the nights will be spent crashing with friends and family or camping under the stars. Sleep is critical to safely pulling this off. 

Doing 30 in 30 this year is made a little more difficult because of limited tickets due to Covid protocols. Normally we would have bought tickets to every game by now. Instead we are left waiting. Everything is falling into place, yet so far we only have tickets to the Cincinnati Reds. We have also had to create two routes as it is unclear where the Blue Jays’s home will be during our trip. 

There are many moving parts to this trip. The logistical nightmares will continue throughout the trip. The best plans rarely hold up once they meet reality. Traffic, weather, exhaustion, and other unknown factors could derail or alter the trip. Time will tell how 30 in 30 comes together. We have already put months of work into the trip. We will start the trip the Friday after the All Star game. The summer heat will follow us around the country as we watch baseball in all 30 MLB ballparks. I have long dreamed of this trip. There is still work to be done. At times I question why I ever wanted to do this, but in the end it will be something that will always bring a smile to my face. 


United States of Baseball- Illinois

The Land of Lincoln is one of the most fertile states for producing Major League players. Illinois has sent 1,069 players to MLB. There are great players born in Illinois. Robin Roberts is the greatest pitcher born in Illinois. His 86.05 career WAR ranks him the 14th among all state and territory leaders. Rickey Henderson is the greatest position player born in Illinois. His 111.20 WAR ranks him 8th among state and territory leaders. Combined Roberts and Henderson give Illinois 197.25 WAR, ranking the Land of Lincoln 11th among all states and territories. 

Robin Roberts was born in Springfield. The Right Handed Pitcher spent 19 seasons in the Majors, pitching for four teams: Philadelphia Phillies (1948-1961), Baltimore Orioles (1962-1965), Houston Astros (1965-1966), and Chicago Cubs (1966). Roberts was dominant during his time in Philadelphia and continued pitching for several more seasons as a crafty veteran. In his career, Roberts appeared in 676 Games, made 609 Starts, threw 305 Complete Games, including 45 Shutouts, pitched 4,688.2 Innings, allowed 4,582 Hits, 1,962 Runs, 1,774 Earned Runs, 505 Home Runs, 902 Walks, 2,357 Strikeouts, posted a 286-245 record, 3.41 ERA, 1.170 WHIP, and 113 ERA+. Roberts was an All Star in seven consecutive seasons, 1950-1956. He finished in the top seven for the National League MVP in five of the seven All Star seasons. Roberts was the only pitcher to win against the Braves in their three home cities: Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1976. 

Robin Roberts’ easy motion hide the fierce competitor on the mound. (www.mlb.com)

There are plenty of great seasons in Robin Roberts career, but 1952 was the most consequential. Pitching for the Phillies, Roberts appeared in 39 Games, made 37 Starts, threw 30 Complete Games, including 3 Shutouts, pitched 330 Innings, allowed 292 Hits, 104 Runs, 95 Earned Runs, 22 Home Runs, 45 Walks, 148 Strikeouts, posted a 28-7 record, 2.59 ERA, 1.021 WHIP, and 141 ERA+. He led the National League in Wins, Games Started, Complete Games, Innings Pitched, and Hits allowed. Roberts won 20 of last 22 Starts and 17 of his last 18. He also began a streak of 28 straight Complete Games from July 20, 1952 to June 14, 1953. Roberts was named an All Star and finished a close second to Hank Sauer for National League MVP. Commissioner Ford Frick later told Roberts he wanted to create an award, the Cy Young award, to honor pitchers, in part due to Roberts’ 1952 MVP snub. 

Robin Roberts was a terrific player on the field and served as the Phillies player representative during negotiations with the owners. He fought for higher pay, better pensions, and benefits. Roberts later served at the head of the National League players representatives. He, along with fellow future Hall of Famer Jim Bunning, approached Marvin Miller about serving as the first Executive Director of the Players Association. They knew the players needed a full time advocate. This choice of Miller led to greater benefits, free agency, and higher salaries, among other areas of progress for the players. 

The Man of Steal never lacked self confidence. Everyone in the stadium knew Rickey Henderson was going to steal, yet the opposing team could rarely stop him. The Chicago native played 25 seasons with nine teams: Oakland Athletics (1979-1984, 1989-1993, 1994-1995, 1998), New York Yankees (1985-1989), Toronto Blue Jays (1993), San Diego Padres (1996-1997, 2001), Anaheim Angels (1997), New York Mets (1999-2000), Seattle Mariners (2000), Boston Red Sox (2002), and Los Angeles Dodgers (2003). Henderson was a one man wrecking crew. In 3,081 career Games, he collected 3,055 Hits, 510 Doubles, 66 Triples, 297 Home Runs, 1,115 RBI, scored 2,295 Runs, 1,406 Stolen Bases, 335 Caught Stealing, 2,190 Walks, 1,694 Strikeouts, .279 BA, .401 OBP, .419 SLG, .820 OPS, and 127 OPS+. He is the All Time leader in Runs scored, Stolen Bases, and Caught Stealing. Henderson was a 10 time All Star, won a Gold Glove in 1981, three Silver Slugger awards, the 1989 American League Championship Series MVP, won two World Series (1989- Athletics and 1993- Blue Jays), and the 1990 American League MVP. He led the league in Stolen Bases 12 times and stole at least 50 Bases 14 times. Henderson led the league in Runs scored five times and scored at least 100 Runs 13 times. He led the league in Walks four times and drew at least 100 Walks seven times. He struck out more than 100 times just once, at age 39, but also drew 118 Walks that season. Henderson hit over .300 eight times. His unequalled resume earned him induction into the Hall of Fame in 2007. 

No player in baseball history was as feared on the bases as Rickey Henderson (www.mlb.com)

Rickey Henderson’s MVP season may not be his greatest season, but it is still worth examining. Playing for the Oakland Athletics in 1990, he appeared in 136 Games, collected 159 Hits, 33 Doubles, 3 Triples, 28 Home Runs, 61 RBI, scored 119 Runs, 65 Stolen Bases, 10 Caught Stealing, 97 Waks, 60 Strikeouts, .325 BA, .439 OBP, .577 SLG, 1.016 OPS, and 189 OPS+. He led the American League in Runs scored, Stolen Bases, OBP, OPS, and OPS+. He was eight seasons removed from his record 130 Steal campaign, and was combining his otherworldly speed with power. In his 12th Major League season, many assumed Henderson was at his peak. Few imagined his career would continue for more than a decade after his MVP season.

Illinois has been critical in the development of baseball. Cooperstown is filled with 23 natives from the Land of Lincoln: Al Barlick (Umpire), Ed Barrow (Executive), Jim Bottomley, Lou Boudreau, Charles Comiskey (Executive), Jocko Conlan (Umpire),  Billy Evans (Umpire), Warren Giles (Executive), Will Harridge (Executive), Rickey Henderson, Whitey Herzog (Manager), Freddie Lindstrom, Joe McGinnity, Hank O’Day (Umpire), Kirby Puckett, Robin Roberts, Red Ruffing, Ray Schalk, Red Schoendienst, Al Spalding (Executive), Jim Thome, Bill Veeck (Executive), and Robin Yount. Growing the game happens on and off the diamond. Next week the United States of Baseball visits Illinois’ neighbor. The Hoosier State is next, Indiana. 


United States of Baseball- Idaho

There is more to Idaho than potatoes. The Gem State is full of unspoiled beauty that everyone who enjoys the outdoors should experience. Idaho has also produced 30 Major League players. The greatest pitcher born in the Gem State is Larry Jackson. His 52.56 career WAR ranks him 26th among state and territory pitching leaders. Harmon Killebrew is the greatest position player born in Idaho. His 60.42 career WAR ranks him 33rd among position players. Killebrew is the only Idahoan in the Hall of Fame. Jackson and Killebrew combined to give Idaho 112.98 WAR, 34th most among all states and territories.

Larry Jackson was born in Nampa. The Right Hander pitched 14 seasons in the Majors for three teams: St. Louis Cardinals (1955-1962), Chicago Cubs (1963-1966), and Philadelphia Phillies (1966-1968). In 558 career Games, Jackson made 429 Starts, threw 149 Complete Games, including 37 Shutouts, pitching 3,262.2 Innings, allowing 3,206 Hits, 1,405 Runs, 1,233 Earned Runs, 259 Home Runs, 824 Walks, 1,709 Strikeouts, posting a 194-183 record, 3.40 ERA, 1.235 WHIP, and 113 ERA+. Jackson was a five time All Star and the first from Idaho. 

Jackson’s best season was in 1964 with the Chicago Cubs. In 40 Games, he made 38 Starts, throwing 19 Complete Games, including 3 Shutouts, pitching 297.2 Innings, allowing 265 Hits, 114 Runs, 104 Earned Runs, 17 Home Runs, 58 Walks, 148 Strikeouts, posting a 24-11 record, 3.14 ERA, 1.085 WHIP, and 118 ERA+. He led the National League in Wins. Jackson finished 12th in the MVP voting. He also finished 2nd for the Cy Young award, then given to a single pitcher, not one per league. 

Larry Jackson was just short of elite during his career before turning to politics in retirement. (Belleville News-Democrat)

In Philadelphia, Jackson is most remembered for being part of the trade that sent future Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins to the Cubs. Later, the Montreal Expos selected Jackson in their expansion draft. He knew he was close to the end of his career, Jackson wanted to play for a west coast team closer to home. Instead of reporting to Montreal, he retired and returned to Idaho. Jackson served four terms in the Idaho House of Representatives and as the Executive Director of the Idaho Republican Party. He ran for Governor, finishing fourth in the Republican Primary despite campaigning by fellow Idaho players Harmon Killebrew and Vern Law.

Harmon Killebrew struck fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers. The Payette native played 22 seasons for the Washington Senators/ Minnesota Twins (1954-1974) and Kansas City Royals (1975). In his career, Killebrew played in 2,435 Games, collected 2,086 Hits, 290 Doubles, 24 Triples, 573 Home Runs, 1,584 RBI, scored 1,283 Runs, 19 Stolen Bases, 1,559 Walks, 1,699 Strikeouts, .256 BA, .376 OBP, .509 SLG, .884 OPS, and 143 OPS+. Killebrew was a great hitter who opted to forgo hitting for average and use his power to help his team.

The best season of Killebrew’s career was his 1969 MVP season with the Twins. In 162 Games, he collected 153 Hits, 20 Doubles, 2 Triples, 49 Home Runs, 140 RBI, scored 106 Runs, 8 Stolen Bases, 145 Walks, 20 Intentional Walks, 84 Strikeouts, .276 BA, .427 OBP, .584 SLG, 1.011 OPS, and 177 OPS+. He led the American League in Games played, Home Runs, RBI, Walks, OBP, and Intentional Walks. Killebrew season was a terror at the plate. His MVP came in the middle of Killebrew’s five year run where he finished in the top five for the MVP four times. 

Harmon Killebrew terrorized the American League with every swing. (Associated Press)

Killebrew was a 13 time All Star, finished in the top 10 for the MVP six times, won the 1969 American League MVP award, the 10th player to join the 500 Home Run Club, and the first Twins player elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984. He was the first player elected as an All Star at three different positions (Third Base, First Base, and Left Field). Killebrew posted eight 40 Home Runs seasons, second only to Babe Ruth’s 11. Killer had nine 100 RBI seasons and seven 100 walk seasons, leading the Junior Circuit four times in free passes. When he retired Killebrew had the fifth most Home Runs. The legendary slugger became a beloved broadcaster for several teams in retirement. 

Idaho has given baseball several solid players and a Hall of Famer. The Gem State continues building its baseball legacy and hopes to send more players to Cooperstown. Next week the United States of Baseball heads east across the plains to the Land of Lincoln. Illinois is next.


Predictions Sure To Go Wrong 7.0

Baseball is back. The 162 game Regular Season grind is back. So too is the unpredictability of the season. No single player can dominate so completely that they carry their team to a World Series title. Baseball is different, the best player does not always come to bat with the game on the line. The Angels would love to send Mike Trout to the plate in every big moment, but that is not how baseball works. The game is back to normal and if we know anything our predictions will foretell what will not happen this season. Your guess is as good as ours for the 2021 season.

American League East

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YankeesGod’s Waiting RoomYankeesYankeesYankeesYankees
RaysSpankiesDudein JaysRaysPoutineRays
Snow BirdsSorrysDevil RaysFlorida BirdsRaysBlue Jays
Red SoxBaltimoreSad BirdsRed SuxRacistsRed Sox
Dead BirdSoxFenwaysBmoreOh DearOrioles

The American League East is the Yankees to lose. Gerrit Cole makes any team better, but New York signed him to be the workhorse in October. If the training staff can keep the pinstripes healthy the rest of the division is in trouble. The Tampa Bay Rays seemed to get worse by trading away Blake Snell. However, it is hard to count the Rays out as they seem to find underrated players who exceed expectations and put Tampa in the thick of the Postseason race. The biggest question for Tampa is will they have a World Series hangover. The Toronto Blue Jays could be snow birds for the entire season. There has been no official word on when the team can return to Canada. They will play their home games in Dunedin, Florida for the foreseeable future. Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will provide plenty of excitement wherever they play. The Red Sox traded away Andrew Benintendi and lost Jackie Bradley Jr. to the Brewers in free agency to complete the teardown of one of the most exciting outfields in recent memory. Boston fans are still excited about the financial flexibility the Mookie Betts trade gave them. Baltimore is a great baseball town. The Orioles are in the middle of a painful rebuild. They will not contend this season, but Baltimore is on the rise…finally.

American League Central

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Black SoxTwinkiesChiSoxChiSoxTwinsWhite Sox
TwinkiesSouth SidersTwinkletittesTwinklesWhite SoxTwins
MonarchsTeam to be named laterQuarter PoundersClevelandRoyalsRoyals
SpidersTigersCleveland Footbal teamRoyalsSpidersSpiders
Motor City KittiesMonarchsDetroit Why Am I HeresTigersTigersTigers

The South Side of Chicago will have plenty of fireworks. The reigning American League MVP in Jose Abreu. The always exciting Tim Anderson. A pitching staff that can compete with any team in baseball. Can Tony La Russa harness Chicago’s potential or will a clash between old school and new school derail the White Sox. The Minnesota Twins continue to be a great Regular Season team. Their signing of Andrelton Simmons might be the most underrated free agent move of the offseason. Can they figure out a winning formula in October? Kansas City has quietly built a solid team on a budget. Signing and trading for Mike Minor, Andrew Benintendi, and Carlos Santana with Whit Merrifield and Salvador Perez already on the roster will create plenty of wins for the Royals. Is it enough to compete with the White Sox and Twins for the division? Cleveland could be a very good team, but in a tough division good is not good enough. They still have Jose Ramirez and Shane Bieber, but the team needs more if they want to contend. The Detroit Tigers continue rebuilding. Miguel Cabrera’s continued ascent up the record books will draw fans. Wins will be difficult to come by, but the Tigers have a bright future ahead, but Detroit should not expect a trip to the Postseason in 2021.

Tim Anderson is never boring on the diamond. (www.si.com)

American League West

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MoneyballWhite ElephantsLA’s other teamA’sBeane BallersAthletics
TroutHouston Astr-hosMoneyballTrash CansAngelsAngels
Trash CansAngelsCheatersAngelsCheatersAstros
Ranger DangerNolan Ryan Hot DogsSea hagsStarbucksMarinersMariners
MarinersGriffey Used to Play HereAgent ZerosChuck NorrisRangersRangers

Could this be the year the Astros lose their grip on the division? George Springer is gone and Justin Verlander is out with Tommy John surgery. Houston is still a competitive team, but the division is catching up. Bang the trash can slowly. Oakland has a dynamic duo in Matt Olson and Matt Chapman. The young and hungry A’s are built to compete and the team is posed to deliver. Mike Trout deserves better. The best player in baseball for almost a decade has been stuck in Los Angeles as the Angels keep turning potential into disappointment. Shohei Ohtani is healthy and Albert Pujols can still hit. The Angels owe it to Mike Trout to finally deliver him to the Postseason, but he cannot do it alone. This was not the offseason Seattle wanted. The ire of an entire sport focused on the stupidity spewed by their now former President and CEO about the team’s young talent has not set the team up for success. The Mariners have not played in October since 2001. Seattle has drafted and signed prospects that appear set to be the future stars for the Mariners. The Robinson Cano signing told Seattle it cannot rely on a single player with a monster contract. Lesson learned, they are a few seasons away from winning. It will be a long hot summer in Texas. The Rangers have some good pieces, but not enough to matter. At least their new stadium has a roof so the players and fans do not cook in the Texas heat. 

National League East

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BravesBravosAtlanta BallclubBravesBravosBravos
NatsFishFlorida FishMetsMarlinsMarlins
MarlinsAmazins2019 ChampsNatsNationalsNats
PhanaticsPholliesSad HarpersPhilliesPhilliesPhillies

The National League East is the toughest division in baseball. Atlanta was 1 game away from the World Series last year. Instead of hoping for better results the Braves got better by signing Charlie Morton and will get Mike Soroka back from his torn Achilles. Their offense is led by reigning National League MVP Freddie Freeman and future MVP Ronald Acuna Jr. The Amazin’s are a force to reckon with, especially after adding Francisco Lindor, Marcus Stroman, Carlos Carrasco, and Taijuan Walker. The question is can the Mets win enough. The Marlins have finally built a team internally. Miami bought two World Series championships but those were short term successes followed by fire sales and long rebuilds. The young Marlins will be fun to watch and are building towards October. The Nationals may have the best rotation in baseball. The keys for Washington are keeping everyone healthy and can the offense, besides Juan Soto, keep up with the pitching. Philadelphia has Bryce Harper, but one player cannot put an entire team on his back. The Phillies will be good, but in a deep division they could be the best last place team in baseball. 

National League Central

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Red BirdsCincy…..why not?ArenadosMiller TimeCardinalsCardinals
Red LegsCardsDrink pretty goodCardinalsBrewersBrewers
Brew CrewBrewcroodsShitcagoRedsCubsReds
Teddy BearsBuccarooniesCincincincin…..CubbiesRedsCubs
Burn the ShipsNorthsidersNice stadiumsBonds’ ex-gfJack SparrowsPirates

Yadier Molina is an ageless wonder. 17 seasons behind the plate for the Cardinals and he is still among the best catchers in baseball. St. Louis is set at the corners with Paul Goldschmidt and the nearly acquired Nolan Arenado. The Central crown runs through St. Louis. Milwaukee got better by signing Kolten Wong away from their divisional rival Cardinals. The Brewers are one of the more underrated teams in baseball and have a real chance at the Postseason in an already tight division. Cincinnati made it back to the Postseason in the shortened 2020 season. The Reds have the pitching and offense to return this season. The division may be too difficult to win, but the Wild Card is within reach. This could be the final season of Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Baez at Wrigley. Looming free agency makes it nearly impossible for Chicago to retain all three players long term. The Cubs will be good, but change is coming. The Pirates are barely a Major League team. It was a little surprising MLB did not cull them with the other Minor League teams this winter. They have a projected team payroll of $46 million, with nearly a quarter of it tied to Gregory Polanco. Ke’Bryan Hayes provides hope for the future but the Postseason is out of the question.

Traded to St. Louis with $50 million, Nolan Arenado will finally play for a winning team. (Getty Images)

National League West

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DodgersYou want a hot apple pie with that?BettsDodgersPadresDodgers
DaddyThe over hyped LA teamPadresPadresScullysPadres
SnakesSILVER BULLET!!!!!!!!GentsGiantsRattlersGiants
Jolly GreensScam Fram BricsoQuarterbacksDbacksGiantsDiamonbacks
Rockie Mt HighI’m a snakeIt Smoke Pretty GoodRockiesRock BottomsRockies

The reigning and defending World Series champions will return to October, but can they fend off the Padres. The championship team is back and will continue racking up wins. Clayton Kershaw is no longer the only pitcher Los Angeles can depend on in the Postseason, the Dodgers should make a deep run to defend their crown. San Diego is built for success now and in the future. Fernando Tatis Jr., Eric Hosmer, Manny Machado, and Chris Paddack are tough to beat every time they take the field. The race for the West will be fun to watch. The gap between the top and bottom of the division is huge. Few teams were as high as the Giants a decade ago, but that is the past now. The rebuild continues in the back end of Buster Posey’s career. How long will he continue playing is unknown, but he is already a San Francisco legend. Arizona is not a bad team, but can they compete with the titans on the coast? The Diamondbacks have plenty of good players, including an underrated Ketel Marte, but they lack a superstar to compete in October. The Rockies managed to enrage their entire fanbase with a single move, trading away Nolan Arenado. Every team makes tough roster decisions, but Colorado decided it was best to rid themselves of the best Third Baseman in baseball and keep a General Manager that has not shown any ability to put a winning team on the field. Yes Trevor Story is still on the team, but his impending free agency will see him shipped out before the season is over. Once Story is gone what is left to build around? Get ready for a long and brutal rebuild Colorado fans.  


The Poseseason is a roll of the dice. A team can come in hot and suddenly turn cold and be gone. A team struggling can suddenly find their footing and go on a tear. The beauty of October baseball is that it is more unpredictable than the Regular Season.

American League Wild Card

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AL Wild CardRaysYankeesJaysRaysWhite SoxTwins
TwinsSouthsidersRaysTwinklesBlue JaysRays

National League Wild Card

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PadresThe over hyped LA teamMetsPadresMetsBrewers

American League Divisional Series 

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RaysWhite ElephantsYankeesYankeesAthleticsYankees
Black SoxSouthsidersSoxRaysWhite SoxRays
MoneyballGod’s Waiting RoomJaysChiSoxTwinsWhite Sox

National League Divisional Series

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BravesCincy…..why not?PadresBravesCardinalsBraves
CardinalsYou want a hot apple pie with that?CardsMiller TimePadresCardinals

American League Championship Series

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Black SoxWhite ElephantsYankeesYankeesYankeesYankees
RaysTwinkiesChiSoxChiSoxWhite SoxWhite Sox

National League Championship Series

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PadresYou want a hot apple pie with that?PadresPadresBravesPadres

World Series

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Black SoxBravosYankeesYankeesCardinalsBraves

Congratulations to the 2021 World Series Champions, the Atlanta Braves. We will find out just how wrong our predictions were in October. None of us have high hopes that we were right. Happy Opening Day!

Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies will lead the Braves to the World Series. (New York Times)

DJ, JJ, JB, BL, and KB

United States of Baseball- District of Columbia

The District of Columbia is home to the federal government of the United States. However, the people who live there have long been under represented. It is not a state, they have only had a representative in the House of Representatives since 1972 and do not have a Senator. Governance of the city remains mostly under the control of Congress. Despite their lack of representation in our national government, the District of Columbia has left its mark on baseball. 102 Major League players hail from the nation’s capital. The greatest pitcher born in the District of Columbia is Doc White. His 47.11 career WAR  is the 32nd highest among state and territory leaders. Maury Wills is the greatest position player. His 39.75 WAR ranks him 42nd. White and Wills give the District of Columbia a combined 86.86 WAR, 40th highest. 

Guy Harris White earned the nickname Doc after graduating from the Georgetown University school of dentistry. The lefty came to the attention of baseball scouts in 1899 when he struck out the first nine Holy Cross batters in a game. White signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1901. He was among the rare players to move from the amateurs to the Majors, skipping the Minor Leagues. After just two seasons with the Phillies, White jumped to the Chicago White Stockings of the new American League. He remained with Chicago for 11 seasons, retiring in 1913. 

In 13 seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies (1901-1902) and Chicago White Stockings (1903-1913), Doc White put together an impressive career. He pitched in 427 Games, making 363 Starts, throwing 262 Complete Games, including 45 Shutouts, pitching 3,041 Innings, allowing 2,738 Hits, 1,118 Runs, 808 Earned Runs, 33 Home Runs, 670 Walks, 1,384 Strikeouts, posting a 189-156 record, 2.39 ERA, 1.121 WHIP, and 113 ERA+. While White was not a Hall of Fame pitcher, he did help build the new American League into a serious rival of the National League. 

Doc White of the Chicago White Sox, throwing at South Side Park, Chicago, Illinois in 1909. (Photo by Chicago Sun-Times/Chicago Daily News collection/Chicago History Museum/Getty Images)

White’s best season on the mound was 1906. He pitched in 28 Games for Chicago, making 24 Starts, throwing 20 Complete Games, including 7 Shutouts, pitching 219.1 Innings, allowing 160 Hits, 47 Runs, 37 Earned Runs, 2 Home Runs, 38 Walks, 95 Strikeouts, posting a 18-6 record, 1.52 ERA, 0.903 WHIP, and 167 ERA+. He led the American League in ERA, WHIP, and ERA+. White helped the White Sox win the 1906 World Series. The Hitless Wonders needed him to pitch three times to claim the championship against the crosstown Cubs. In 3 Games White made 2 Starts, throwing 1 Complete Game, pitching 15 Innings, allowing 12 Hits, 7 Runs, 3 Earned Runs, 7 Walks, 4 Strikeouts, posting a 1-1 record, 1.80 ERA, and 1.267 WHIP. He pitched Game 2, losing 7-1, pitching 3 Innings, allowing 4 Runs, but 0 Earned Runs. In Game 5 he came on in relief of Ed Walsh for the final 3 Innings to nail down a 8-6 victory. White returned to the mound in Game 6, throwing a Complete Game, allowing 3 Earned Runs to beat Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown and clinch the World Series. 

So many great players fade with time, but White’s legacy lived on thanks to Don Drysdale. In 1968 the Dodger pitcher surpassed White’s record of 5 consecutive Shutouts. White congratulated Drysdale on his accomplishment via telegram. Baseball’s long history ensures the legends of the game are not lost to history.

Go, go, go, Maury, go. Dodger fans went wild anytime Maury Wills reached base. Everyone knew he was going to steal. Wills was called up to the Majors thanks to Don Zimmer breaking his toe. Arriving in Los Angeles at 26 years old, the speedster still enjoyed a long career. He played 14 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1959-1966, 1969-1972), Pittsburgh Pirates (1967-1968), and Montreal Expos (1969). The Switch Hitting Shortstop made the most of his opportunities.

Wills was never shy about running. In 1,942 career Games he collected 2,134 Hits, 177 Doubles, 71 Triples, 20 Home Runs, 458 RBI, 1,067 Runs scored, 586 Stolen Bases, 552 Walks, 684 Strikeouts, .281 BA, .330 OBP, .331 SLG, .661 OPS, and 88 OPS+. Wills was elected to seven All Star games, won two Gold Gloves, and won three World Series. In the Fall Classic, he played in 21 Games, collected 19 Hits, 3 Doubles, 4 RBI, 6 Runs scored, 6 Stolen Bases, 5 Walks, 12 Strikeouts, .244 BA, .289 OBP, .282 SLG, and .571 OPS. Wills did not play his best in the World Series, but he played a critical part in the Dodgers winning each National League pennant. 

Maury Wills steals yet another base. (www.truebluela.com)

Unquestionably, 1962 was the best season of Wills’ career. He played in a record 165 Games thanks to a three game playoff series with the Giants to decide the National League pennant. Wills collected 208 Hits, 13 Doubles, 10 Triples, 6 Home Runs, 48 RBI, 130 Runs scored, 104 Stolen Bases, 13 Caught Stealing, 51 Walks, 57 Strikeouts, .299 BA, .347 OBP, .373 SLG, .720 OPS, and 99 OPS+. He led the National League in Games, Plate Appearances, At Bats, Triples, Stolen Bases, and Caught Stealing. Wills broke Ty Cobb’s single season record of 96 Stolen Bases. Commissioner Ford Frick said the record would only count if Wills achieved 97 Stolen Bases in 156 Games, the season length during Cobb’s career. Wills did break the record within the Commissioner’s guidelines and then added on a few more for good measure. Wills was named to both All Star games in 1962, winning the very first All Star MVP award in the first game. After the season, Wills won another MVP award, the National League MVP. 

Wills bounced around in the latter half of his career, but remains one of the great players in baseball history. He appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot for all 15 years of eligibility, never reaching the necessary 75% of votes for induction, topping out at 40.6%. Not every player is a Hall of Famer, but it does not mean they do not leave a lasting legacy. 

If one of the Hall of Fame committees inducts Wills, he would become the first Hall of Famer born in the District of Columbia. Leaving the home of the American government, the United States of Baseball heads south to one of baseball’s great talent hotbeds. We are off to the Sunshine State, Florida is next. 


United States of Baseball- Arkansas

Arkansas’ natural beauty is often overlooked. From the Ozarks to the banks of the Mississippi River the Natural State has plenty to offer. The state has also produced 159 Major League players. They have achieved varying degrees of success on the diamond, but two players reign supreme. Dizzy Dean is the greatest Arkansas born pitcher and Brooks Robinson is the greatest position player. Dean’s 43.90 career WAR is the 35th highest among pitching state leaders, while Robinson’s 78.38 WAR is the 20th highest among position players. Their combined 122.28 WAR gives Arkansas the 27th highest WAR. 

Born Jay Hanna Dean, Dizzy Dean and his younger brother Paul “Daffy” Dean are the only Major Leaguers from Lucas, Arkansas. Dizzy played 12 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals (1930, 1932-1937), Chicago Cubs (1938-1941), and St. Louis Browns (1947). He twice led the National League in Wins, was a four time All Star, won the 1934 National League MVP award and World Series, and was inducted into Cooperstown in 1953. 

Dean’s best season was 1934. He pitched in 50 Games with 33 Starts, throwing 24 Complete Games, 8 Shutouts, in 311.2 Innings, allowed 14 Home Runs, 75 Walks, 195 Strikeouts, with a 30-7 record, 2.66 ERA, 1.165 WHIP, and 159 ERA+. He won the National League MVP award, plus led the league in Wins, Shutouts, and Strikeouts. In the World Series against the Detroit Tigers, he won the first and seventh game, a six Hit Shutout, for the Gashouse Gang. He went 2-1 in 3 Starts, pitching 26.0 Innings, including 2 Complete Games, 1.73 ERA, and 0.962 WHIP.  

Dizzy Dean was a great showman and pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. (AP Photo)

Dean’s career was derailed after a comebacker broke his toe during the 1937 All Star game. He returned too quickly, altering his pitching motion to compensate for the injury. Dean’s effectiveness began declining after he was traded to the Cubs in 1938. He pitched in 317 career Games, Starting 230, throwing 154 Complete Games, 26 Shutouts, in 1,967.1 Innings, with 453 Walks, 1,163 Strikeouts, a 150-83 record, 3.02 ERA, 1.206 WHIP, and 131 ERA+. His final appearance was on September 28, 1947 for the St. Louis Browns. Dean was an announcer for the Browns and complained he could pitch better than the team’s pitchers. On the last day of the season, he proved he was right, pitching 4 Shutout Innings before injuring himself running the bases. A fitting end to a Hall of Fame career

The Human Vacuum created a black hole in Baltimore. The Little Rock native Brooks Robinson played his entire 23 season career with the Orioles, 1955-1977. He was elected to 18 consecutive All Star Games, won 16 consecutive Gold Gloves (1960-1975), helped the Orioles win two World Series, won the 1964 American League MVP, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983.  

Robinson’s best season was 1964. In 163 Games, he collected 194 Hits, 35 Doubles, 3 Triples, 28 Home Runs, 118 RBI, scored 82 Runs, 51 Walks, 64 Strikeouts, .317 BA, .368 OBP, .521 SLG, .889 OPS, and 145 OPS+. Robinson won the American League MVP award and led the league in Games played and RBI. 

If Brooks Robinson could not make the play it was impossible. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Baltimore played in four World Series during Robinson’s career, winning in 1966 and 1970. He played in 39 Postseason Games, collecting 44 Hits, 8 Doubles, 5 Home Runs, 22 RBI, scored 17 Runs, 6 Walks, 9 Strikeouts, .303 BA, .323 OBP, .462 SLG, and .785 OPS. His success in October was a continuation of his success in the Regular Season. 

In 2,896 career Games, Robinson collected 2,848 Hits, 482 Doubles, 68 Triples, 268 Home Runs, 1,357 RBI, scored 1,232 Runs, 860 Walks, 990 Strikeouts, .267 BA, .322 OBP, .401 SLG, .723 OPS, and 105 OPS+. His offensive numbers were good, but were overshadowed by his elite defense at Third Base. In 25,083 Innings, he had 9,196 career Chances, made 2,712 Putouts, 6,220 Assists, 264 Errors, and turned 621 Double Plays. Robinson was an elite fielder, .971 vs .953 lgFld%, with better Range, 3.20 RF9 vs 3.09 lgRF9. The Human Vacuum’s skill with the glove propelled Robinson to finish in the top four for MVP voting five times.

Arkansas has produced excellent baseball players. The Natural State has sent six players to the Hall of Fame. Dean and Robinson are joined in Cooperstown by Lou Brock, Travis Jackson, George Kell, and Arky Vaughan. Elite players come from everywhere, but the United States of Baseball’s next stop is a hot bed. We head west to California next.