Tagged: nationals

Game 4- Washington Nationals

Game 4 recap a few days late. We were in Washington DC for the Nationals vs Marlins at Nationals Park. We have driven 1,524 miles so far. The Nationals blew out the Marlins 18 to 1. The home team is finally winning games. A day to relax in DC before driving south to Atlanta. 30 Games in 30 Days continues.

DJ

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. 

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
July 16July 17
St. Louis
Cardinals
Cincinnati
Reds
July 18July 19July 20July 21July 22July 23July 24
Philadelphia PhilliesWashington NationalsAtlanta
Braves
Tampa Bay RaysMiami
Marlins
Houston
Astros
Kansas City Royals
July 25July 26July 27July 28July 29July 30July 31
Minnesota
Twins
Chicago
Cubs
Cleveland SpidersBaltimore OriolesBoston
Red Sox
Buffalo
Blue Jays
Pittsburgh
Pirates
August 1August 2August 3August 4August 5August 6August 7
New York
Mets
New York YankeesDetroit
Tigers
Milwaukee BrewersChicago White SoxColorado
Rockies
Los Angeles Dodgers
August 8August 9August 10August 11August 12August 13August 14
Oakland AthleticsSan Diego
Padres
Los Angeles AngelsSeattle
Mariners
San Francisco GiantsArizona DiamondbacksTexas
Rangers

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. 

DJ

Planning 30 in 30

I love traveling and planning trips. However, planning 30 teams in 30 days was on a different level. It is not easy to carve out 30 days to undertake such an adventure. The biggest scheduling obstacles were the All Star Break, my daughter’s birthday in the middle of June, and the beginning of the school year in the middle of August. Each was spaced out just enough to limit our options on the timing of the trip. 

We found our window from July 16th to August 14th. Our road trip begins on the first full day of games after the All Star Break and ends the Saturday before the start of the upcoming school year. We literally had one 30 day window to make this happen. 30 days of baseball, the first day of school could be a challenge. 

Time is your friend in the planning process. The more time you have to plan, the more solutions you can find to problems that present themselves. We needed to find a successful route, but more time meant we could find better routes. After waiting seemingly all Winter, MLB finally released the 2021 schedule. There was one tiny detail missing, game times. We could guess that most games will be in the evening, except for Sunday and get away games. We muddled through the schedule, taking educated guesses, waiting for official game times. 

Such a large undertaking becomes overwhelming if it is not broken into smaller pieces. After creating a visual to understand the schedule and determining which teams are within a single day’s drive of one another, it was time to create our route. The first goal was simple, find a route, any route. After several failed attempts we had a route. 30 games in 30 days was possible. This spurred us to find the perfect route. 

View like this await us at all 30 MLB stadiums (TheWinningRun/ DJ)

The perfect route exists, but the schedule did not align perfectly this year. The shortest route is 11,192 miles and 173 hours of driving. This is 373 miles and 5:46 of driving every day for a month. Even in the best case scenario, 30 in 30 is a lot of driving. Our focus was on minimizing the miles and drive time. The hope was to keep the drive under 16,000 miles, average less than 8 hours per drive, and minimize the drives over 500 miles. We wanted to utilize Los Angeles, New York, and/or Chicago to create a break in our schedule. A day without driving would reinvigorate us. Day games would allow us to make any necessary long drives between games. My personal wish was to drive from my home to the first game the day of. One last sleep in my bed before starting the grand adventure, and save a few dollars. The cost of the trip was always something we were mindful of during planning. An increase in cost for one game would probably mean an increase for others, if not all. An extra $5 becomes $150 at the end of the trip. 

Reality of how to construct the trip set in quickly. We could not make more than two cross country crossings due to a lack of teams in the middle of the country. We would need to start and finish on the West Coast or do it all at one time. Endless tinkering slowly took us to our route. 

There were two best routes. We selected these routes from the 86 we successfully created. The final scheduling challenge was where would the Blue Jays play their home games. They are not playing in Toronto, so we knew we were going to Dunedin or Buffalo. The city the Blue Jays called home dictated our schedule. Our two schedules were similar to minimize changes as the Nationals, Braves, and Blue Jays would be the only games impacted. The other games would remain in place, allowing us to buy tickets as they became available. Amid all the uncertainty, it was good to have a mostly set schedule. 

The schedule coming together hit hard as to just how large of an undertaking this trip truly is. Driving between games will be more than a full time job. We will need plenty of entertainment. Books, music, podcasts, and random pit stops along the way. Piece by piece 30 in 30 is coming together. The most important pieces are in place, now we are working on the finer details that will impact us day to day. Everything is critically important when we are constantly on the go. One missed detail can have painful ramifications. 

DJ

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

DerekJesseJohn Moving Co.KevinBernieThe Winning Run
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

DerekJesseJohn Moving Co.KevinBernieThe Winning Run
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

DerekJesseJohn Moving Co.KevinBernieThe Winning Run
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

DerekJesseJohn Moving Co.KevinBernieThe Winning Run
BravesBravosAtlanta BallclubBravesBravosBravos
MetsGnatsCohensMarlinsMetsMets
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

DerekJesseJohn Moving Co.KevinBernieThe Winning Run
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

DerekJesseJohn Moving Co.KevinBernieThe Winning Run
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.  

Postseason

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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MetsGnatsPadresMarlinsDodgersPadres
PadresThe over hyped LA teamMetsPadresMetsBrewers

American League Divisional Series 

DerekJesseJohn Moving Co.KevinBernieThe Winning Run
RaysWhite ElephantsYankeesYankeesAthleticsYankees
Black SoxSouthsidersSoxRaysWhite SoxRays
YankeesTwinkiesAsA’sYankeesA’s
MoneyballGod’s Waiting RoomJaysChiSoxTwinsWhite Sox

National League Divisional Series

DerekJesseJohn Moving Co.KevinBernieThe Winning Run
DodgersBravosDodgersDodgersBravosDodgers
PadresGnatsCincyPadresDodgersPadres
BravesCincy…..why not?PadresBravesCardinalsBraves
CardinalsYou want a hot apple pie with that?CardsMiller TimePadresCardinals

American League Championship Series

DerekJesseJohn Moving Co.KevinBernieThe Winning Run
Black SoxWhite ElephantsYankeesYankeesYankeesYankees
RaysTwinkiesChiSoxChiSoxWhite SoxWhite Sox

National League Championship Series

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BravesBravosDodgersBravesCardinalsBraves
PadresYou want a hot apple pie with that?PadresPadresBravesPadres

World Series

DerekJesseJohn Moving Co.KevinBernieThe Winning Run
Black SoxBravosYankeesYankeesCardinalsBraves
BravesTwinkiesDodgersBravesYankeesYankees
BravesBravosYankeesYankeesCardinalsBraves

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

Frank Robinson- Integrating the Managers Office

It is both a great honor for Frank Robinson, and a failure for baseball, that he was the first African-American manager in the American League AND the National League. His leading the way for fellow African-American managers is a testament to the relentlessness that made Robinson a Hall of Fame player. African-Americans, and all minorities, deserve more opportunities to demonstrate their leadership abilities. Too often they do not receive a second opportunity if they are unsuccessful. While Robinson did not enjoy overwhelming success, he was critical in furthering racial equality in baseball.

Frank Robinson’s desire to become baseball’s first African-American manager was not a secret. He was nearing the end of his playing career, when the California Angels traded him to Cleveland. Robinson was named player/manager, playing sparingly for the next two seasons and retiring following the 1976 season. Robinson, now just the manager, lasted just 57 games into the 1977 season on the shores of Lake Erie. In Cleveland, he led the team to back to back fourth place finishes and a 186-189 record. Robinson’s next opportunity to manage was a few years away. 

The 1981 Players Strike interrupted the season, with no Regular Season games between mid June and mid August. The tumultuous season also featured the first African-American manager in the National League. Robinson again broke the managerial color barrier. His tenure with the San Francisco Giants was more successful than in Cleveland. He guided the Giants to a 56-55 Strike shortened record, finishing fourth in the National League West. San Francisco followed with a 87-75 season in 1982, finishing third, just 2 games behind the division winning Atlanta Braves. The Bay Area was hopeful the Giants would finally bring a World Series championship to San Francisco. Unfortunately, the Giants regressed to a 79-83 campaign in 1983 before Robinson was fired with a 42-64 record in 1984. Robinson guided the Giants to a 264-277 record in four seasons, but October remained elusive. 

Frank Robinson was the first African-American manager in both the AL and NL. (Diamond Iages/ Getty Images)

Robinson served as a coach and worked in the Baltimore Orioles’ Front Office while waiting for another opportunity. The Orioles fired Cal Ripken Sr. following an 0-6 start in 1988, naming Robinson as his replacement. Baltimore finally won its first game of the season on April 29. Their 0-22 start remains the worst in Major League history. The Orioles finished 54-101, last in the American League East, a mere 23.5 behind sixth place Cleveland. 1989 was better for everyone in Baltimore. Robinson guided the team to a 87-75 record. A dramatic turn around, which earned him the American League Manager of the Year award. Once again Robinson’s team was two games short of October. The Orioles finished fifth in 1990 and Robinson was fired after a 13-24 start in 1991. He led Baltimore for four seasons, posting a 230-285 record in what appeared to be his final managerial stop. However, Robinson would return to the dugout one more time. 

The 1994 Players Strike helped kill the Montreal Expos. The star studded team was 74-40, six games ahead of the Braves, with the best record in baseball when the season came to a crashing halt. After the Strike, the Montreal ownership had a fire sale from which the franchise never recovered. MLB took over ownership of the team after a failed contraction attempt. The Expos began playing some home games in Puerto Rico before moving to Washington and becoming the Nationals in 2005. Amid the turmoil MLB named Robinson manager, giving him the near impossible task of producing wins while the team was uncertain season to season where they would play or if they would exist. The Expos won 83 games in each of Robinson’s first two seasons before a 67 win season on the way out of Montreal. He managed the Nationals in their first two seasons in Washington, winning 81 and 71 games, before he was fired. In five seasons with the Expos and Nationals, Robinson went 385-425 in his final managerial stop.

Frank Robinson is not the greatest Manager, but the pain of pulling Matt LeCroy in the middle of an inning sums up the man. LeCroy was catching for the Nationals in Robinson’s last season in Washington. Despite some injuries LeCroy went behind the plate to help the team. Seven stolen bases and two throwing errors later, Robinson made the painful decision to pull LeCroy in the middle of an inning. His body could not meet the demands of the game. Pulling a position player in the middle of an inning virtually never happens. The story could have been about embarrassing LeCroy, instead it was about the anguish and torment Robinson felt for doing what was best for his team and player. Baseball is a tough game played by tough people, but humanity does exist within the game.

The abilities that sent Frank Robinson to Cooperstown did not translate to managing. He was not a terrible leader, but his accomplishments playing baseball far outpace those managing. Robinson managed four teams: Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, Baltimore Orioles, and Montreal Expos/ Washington Nationals. In 16 seasons he posted a 1,065-1,176 record. No Robinson led team ever won the division or made the postseason. His teams stole Third, laid down Sacrifice Bunts, issued Intentionally Walks, and Substituted players more than other teams. Ultimately Robinson’s legacy is breaking the managerial color barrier in both leagues. It was long overdue and Robinson paved the way for other African-Americans to follow. Baseball still has work to do, but Frank Robinson helped move the game forward.  

DJ

Error of Their Ways

Putting the ball in play puts pressure on the defense. A fielder can drop a fly ball, boot a grounder, or throw the ball away. Even the most routine play is not automatic. However, are all Errors bad? Are they the mark of a poor defender? Could they be a sign of a good defender?

Herman Long holds the record for most career Errors, 1,096. The logical assumption is he was a terrible defender. However, there is a reason he played 16 seasons in the Major Leagues. Long played Shortstop from 1889 to 1904 for the Kansas City Cowboys, Boston Beaneaters, New York Highlanders, Detroit Tigers, and Philadelphia Phillies posting a 16.8 dWAR, 83rd highest all time. In 11,881 Chances, he made 4,450 Putouts with 6,335 Assists, and turned 785 Double Plays. Long had a career .908 Fielding % (Fld%), 5.86 Range Factor per 9 Innings (RF9), and a 5.73 Range Factor per Game (RFG). Range Factor is the number of plays a player is involved in per game or per 9 innings. It is especially useful when comparing players from the same era. Herman Long’s contemporaries at Shortstops posted a .904 Fld%, 5.67 lgRF9, and 5.50 lgRFG. Long was better by .004 Fld%, 0.19 RF9, and 0.23 RFG. These differences are a few plays over a long season, but they can alter a tight pennant race. 

Herman Long received just one Hall of Fame vote, others have entered team hall of fames or Cooperstown due to their skill with the glove. The Human Vacuum, the Wizard, and the Blade are among the best defensive infielders ever. Brooks Robinson spent his entire 23 season career in Baltimore stationed at third base for the Orioles. The Human Vacuum committed 264 Errors, compiled the third highest career dWAR, 39.1, and won 16 Gold Gloves. Robinson was an institution at the hot corner. In 9,196 Chances, he made 2,712 Putouts with 6,220 Assists, and turned 621 Double Plays. He had a career .971 Fld%, 3.20 RF9, 3.08 RFG, and 293 Total Zone Total Fielding (Rtot). Rtot is the number of runs above or below average a player is worth based on the number of plays made. The other third basemen of Robinson’s era had a .953 Fld%, 3.09 lgRF9, and 3.10 lgRFG. Robinson surpassed his contemporaries by .018 Fld% and 0.11 RF9, but had a -0.02 RFG. 

Ozzie Smith is possibly the greatest defensive Shortstop in baseball history. He won 13 Gold Gloves while creating the highest dWAR ever, 44.2. During the Wizard’s 19 season career, he had 12,905 Chances, made 4,249 Putouts with 8,375 Assists, turned 1,590 Double Plays, and committed 281 Errors, 285th most all time. It is easy to assert a player’s greatest, but do the numbers back up your opinion. Smith had a career .978 Fld%, 5.22 RF9, 5.03 RFG, and 239 Rtot. The other Shortstops had a .966 lgFld%, 4.78 lgRF9, and 4.77 lgRFG. Smith outpaced his contemporaries by .022 Fld%, 0.44 RF9, and 0.26 RFG. The Wizard of Oz was more than backflips. If he could not make a play it was probably impossible.

Ozzie Smith flipped the baseball world upside down with his defense. (Post-Dispatch/ Gary Bohn)

Less heralded than Robinson and Smith, Mark Belanger was a defensive master. He won 8 Gold Gloves and his 39.5 dWAR is second behind Ozzie Smith. In 18 seasons, Belanger had 9,082 Chances, made 3,040 Putouts with 5,831 Assists, and turned 1,061 Double Plays, against just 211 Errors. His defensive excellence ranks him outside the top 400 in career Errors. Belanger’s career .977 Fld%, 5.16 RF9, 4.50 RFG, and 241 Rtot far outpaced his competition. Other Shortstops had a .964 Fld%, 4.93 lgRF9, and 4.92 lgRFG. The Blade was better, .013 Fld%, 0.23 RF9, and -0.43 RFG. Belanger’s long and productive career with the glove did not however take him to Cooperstown like Robinson and Smith, receiving 3.7% of the vote in 1988, his only year on the ballot. 

Baseball teams rely on their defense to make routine plays every time and incredible plays whenever possible. Players do occasionally boot routine plays or try to do too much. Baseball history is littered with examples. Currently Starlin Castro and Elvis Andrus are locked in a fight for most Errors among active players. Both have quietly built strong careers, but have taken different paths to this point.

Elvis Andrus arrived in Texas as part of the Mark Teixeira trade with Atlanta. In 12 seasons with the Rangers, Andrus has had 7,210 Chances, made 2,529 Putouts with 4,487 Assists, turned 1,064 Double Plays, and committed 194 Errors. He has a career .973 Fld%, 4.47 RF9, 4.31 RFG, and 52 Rtot. Other Shortstops have a .973 Fld%, 4.17 lgRF9, and 4.14 lgRFG. The Fld% is identical, but Andrus has a higher RF9 and RFG, 0.30 and 0.17 respectively. This greater Range has produced a 10.7 dWAR, 211th all time. Elvis Andrus has helped Texas defensively by creating more Chances and thus more outs.

Elvis Andrus has been an elite defender for the Rangers with his terrific Range at Shortstop. (Richard Rodriguez/ Getty Images)

Starlin Castro broke in with the Chicago Cubs as a 20 year old, playing 123 games his first season. He has played 11 seasons for the Cubs, Yankees, Marlins, and Nationals. Castro has not enjoyed the same defensive success as Elvis Andrus as they approach 200 career Errors. In 6,170 Chances, Castro has 2,197 Putouts with 3,778 Assists, turned 757 Double Plays, and committed 195 Errors. He has career .968 Fld%, 4.22 RF9, 4.05 RFG, and -32 Rtot. Compared to his contemporaries at Short and Second, Castro has not fared well against their .976 Fld%, 4.29 lgRF9, and 4.26 lgRFG. He is behind in all three measurements, -.008 Fld%, -0.07 RF9, and -0.04 RFG. Castro transitioned from Shortstop to Second Base after spending roughly 60% of his career games at Short. The move to Second has hidden some of his lack of range. However, Castro is barely an above defender, posting a 1.2 career dWAR. His first four seasons in the Majors saw him commit 27, 29, 27, and 22 Errors. While Castro has improved, at best he is league average. 

Fielding statistics are not simply counting Errors. Fielding must be compared against other players from the same era. Baseball Reference lists the top 500 single seasons for Errors. Only 14 of the top 500 seasons occurred since 1920, and none since 1941. Resting atop this dubious leaderboard are Herman Long (1889) and Billy Shindle (1890), each committing 122 Errors. 

Starlin Castro is not the best with the glove, but his bat has kept him in the Majors. (Chris Humphreys- US PRESSWIRE)

In 1889, Long set the record with 122 Errors. He had 983 Chances, made 355 Putouts with 506 Assists, and turned 59 Double Plays. Despite his apparent struggles, Long was an above average Shortstop. He had a .874 Fld%, 6.60 RF9, and 6.36 RFG against the league’s .873 Fld%, 5.32 lgRF9, and 5.13 lgRFG. Long had a .001 Fld%, 1.28 RF9, and 1.23 RFG advantage. Long, like Andrus, made plays at a league average rate but created more Chances due to his greater Range. The following season Billy Shindle also committed 122 Errors. He had 834 Chances, made 268 Putouts with 444 Assists while turning 67 Double Plays. Shindle posted a .862 Fld%, 5.62 RF9, and 5.45 RFG, whereas his opponents posted a .868 Fld%, 5.27 lgRF9, and 5.13 lgRFG. Shindle converted Chances into outs below the league average, -.006 Fld%, but he fielded more balls in play, 0.35 RF9 and 0.32 RFG. Creating Chances improves a team’s likelihood of winning by limiting their opponent’s scoring opportunities.

Players can commit Errors on Chances that others watch go by for hits. Simply counting Errors does not provide a complete picture of a player’s defensive abilities. Their Range is equally important to their Fielding %. Players must field a ball before they can convert Chances into outs. Errors can happen from bad bounces or throws, but the real value of a defender is can they create more Chances and outs in support of their pitcher and team. Errors are part of baseball, but they are not entirely bad, there is more than meets the eye.

DJ

Baseball Marks The Time

8 years ago we began writing The Winning Run because of our love of baseball. Since then we have chronicled events in and around the game, the statistics the game produces, games we have watched, stadiums we have visited, books we have read, and films we have watched. Baseball has relatively stayed the same since 2012. It remains as exciting as ever. 

We each love the game differently, yet the thrill of baseball draws us back each season for the same reason. Baseball has wrapped itself into our lives. A text about an injury or trade, discussions about why the Mets are their own worst enemy, trips to minor league parks, spur of the moment trips to our local MLB teams. Baseball is never far away.

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Jesse, John, and Derek at the last Rangers game at Globe Life Park. (The Winning Run/ DJ)

Our local teams have changed in 8 years. Derek, Bernie, and Kevin were living near New York City with the Yankees and Mets, while Jesse and John lived in Atlanta with the Braves. Derek and Jesse love the Braves. Bernie and Kevin love their Yankees. John loves both teams. As we have moved, our rooting interest expanded as our local teams are now the Braves, Reds, Nationals, Angels, and Dodgers. Local teams are great, but we never turn down an opportunity to visit a new stadium.

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Derek, Kevin, and Bernie enjoying a Rockies game at Coors Field. (The Winning Run/ BL)

It is difficult to explain to someone what baseball means to you, if they too are not wrapped up in the game. Perhaps Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) put it best in ­Field of Dreams,

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.”

Time and baseball roll on. Our lives change, yet, like baseball, they stay the same. Happy 8th Birthday to The Winning Run. Here’s to many more.

DJ

Back to Baseball

After an off season of scandal, on again off again blockbuster trades, gigantic free agent signings, possible Minor League Baseball contraction, and the Mets being the Mets it is time to return to the diamond. Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring Training, the journey to October begins. 

Expectations are high in the Bronx after signing Gerrit Cole. Houston is out to prove they can win without stealing signs, while the rest of baseball is out for revenge. The on again off again trade of Mookie Betts to the Dodgers showed how far Boston has fallen while searching for financial flexibility. The Red Sox continue searching for a permanent manager to replace Alex Cora after he was swept up in the fallout from Houston. Major League Baseball proposed eliminating 42 minor league teams, which immediately angered the communities potentially impacted, baseball fans, and even Congress.

The Mets once again managed to stay in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Yoenis Cespedes reworked his contract after the revelation that his injury was the result of a run in with a wild boar. The Amazin’s General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen, Cespedes’ former agent, now had to alter the contract he negotiated, but from the other side of the table. Carlos Beltran never made it to his first workout of Spring Training as Mets Manager. His involvement in the Astros scandal followed him to Queens. The Wilpons were unable to sell the Mets because they wanted to continue making team decisions once they no longer wrote the checks. 

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The Cincinnati Reds are poised to climb out of the cellar and into contention after an active Winter. (Kareem Elgazzar)

Anthony Rendon got paid by leaving Washington, Stephen Strasburg got paid to stay with the Nationals. Zack Wheeler left Queens for Philadelphia for a chance to win and a large paycheck. Madison Bumgarner left the Bay for the desert, while Hyun-Jin Ryu left sunny Southern California and moved north of the border. Josh Donaldson added his name to the slugging Twins lineup, a new age Murderers’ Row. The White Sox and Reds loaded up on free agents, vaulting themselves into contention. Hundreds of other moves happened. Time will tell which moves helped teams, and which teams will come to regret. 

Baseball lost the legendary writer Roger Kahn. Few, if any, possess his ability to write about the game. He was baseball’s writer. His ability to put the passion and beauty of the game into print will be missed.

It was an odd and harrowing off season, but now Pitchers and Catchers are reporting to Spring Training. The world is a little more perfect because we are getting back to baseball. 

DJ

Predicting the World Series

Every year The Winning Run attempts to predict the upcoming baseball season. We are comically wrong every time. This year in our baseball group text we tried predicting each World Series game. The winning team and the score. This was purely for fun with no real research, just our gut feelings on which team had the best chance to win each World Series game. We were terrible at predicting single games. The more predictions we make the better, one would assume, we became at them. However, we do not have the budget or resources of the Las Vegas sports betting books, and it shows. The World Series is fading away, so is a good time to revisit our sad game by game World Series predictions. 

Game 1

Derek- Astros 4-2

Jesse- Astros 4-0

John- Nationals 2-0

Bernie- Astros no score offered

Kevin- Surfing

Real- Nationals 5-4

Game 2

Derek- Astros 7-4

Jesse- Nationals 6-3

John- Praying to Saint Ruth

Bernie- Astros 6-3 

Kevin- Tanning on the beach 

Real- Nationals 12-3

Game 3

Derek- Astros 6-5

Jesse- Nationals 7-2

John- Nationals 5-3

Bernie- Nationals 7-4

Kevin- Nationals 4-3

Real- Astros 4-1

Game 4

Derek- Astros 3-1

Jesse- Astros 3-2

John- Nationals 5-3

Bernie- Nationals 8-5

Kevin- Nationals 6-3

Real- Astros 8-1

Game 5

Derek- Astros 7-3

Jesse- Astros 7-2

John- Nationals 6-4

Bernie- Astros 3-1 

Kevin- Building sand castles

Real- Astros 7-1

Game 6

Derek- Nationals 6-3

Jesse- Astros 6-1

John- Nationals 7-2 The only perfect prediction

Bernie- Nationals 5-2

Kevin- Watching the sunset

Real- Nationals 7-2

Game 7 with MVP

Derek- Astros 7-4, Jose Altuve

Jesse- Nationals 9-7, Juan Soto

John- Nationals 8-3, Anthony Rendon

Bernie- Nationals 6-1, Juan Soto

Kevin- Nationals 5-3, Stephen Strasburg

Real- Nationals 6-2, Stephen Strasburg

Correctly predicting the winning team, game by game:

Game 1: John

Game 2: Jesse

Game 3: Derek

Game 4: Derek, Jesse

Game 5: Derek, Jesse, Bernie

Game 6: Derek, John, Bernie

Game 7: Jesse, John, Bernie, Kevin

Number of winning teams correctly predicted:

Derek: 4

Jesse: 4

John: 3

Bernie: 3

Kevin: 1

Predicting the outcome of a single baseball game is difficult. The World Series is even more challenging. The outcome of a Yankees-Orioles game in July is much easier to foresee. New York was a juggernaut during the Regular Season and Baltimore was looking towards next season during Spring Training. New York won 17 of 19 games in 2019, the outcome was rarely in doubt. Predicting a single game with two good teams is much more difficult.

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The joys of baseball turns grown men into little boys. (David J. Phillip/ AP)

Derek was the only one to believe in Houston in Game 3. He correctly predicted the outcome of Games 3 through 6, but his faith in the Astros led his astray in Game 7. Jesse was the only one to believe in the Nationals in Game 2. His winning ways returned in Games 4 and 5. After missing Game 6, Jesse predicted Washington would win Game 7. John began his predictions on fire, as the only one to predict Washington’s Game 1 victory. However he went cold until crunch time when he predicted Games 6 and 7. His Game 6 prediction was the only perfect prediction as the Nationals won 7-2. Bernie came on late, predicting the final three games correctly. Houston pushing Washington to the brink of elimination in Game 5 and the Nationals responded by winning Games 6 and 7. Kevin was on a three hour delay with his predictions from California, but he nailed his Game 7 prediction and Stephen Strasburg winning the MVP. 

Looking at our inability to predict each game of the World Series should leave little doubt in the accuracy of our 2019 Regular Season predictions. We will revisit those predictions closer to Spring Training. Predicting baseball is hard, but we have fun in our futile attempts. 

Congratulations to the World Series Champion Washington Nationals. If someone claims they knew the Nationals would win the World Series in late May they are one of two things. They are a delusional Nationals fan and a liar. Probably both. This is the beauty of baseball, undying faith in a hopeless cause. The other 29 teams and their fans know next year is their year.

DJ

Road Warriors

Elite pitching was supposed to rule the World Series, someone forgot to tell the batters they were overmatched. Stephen Strasburg pitched like many believed he would as the first overall pick in the 2009 MLB Draft. Justin Verlander continued to struggle in the World Series, continuing the search for that first World Series victory. George Springer and Anthony Rendon sparked their teams at critical moments, while Jose Altuve continued collecting hit after hit as he chased the record for most hits in a single Postseason. Jose Urquidy rose to the moment, providing the Astros with five shutout innings. The Astros took advantage of Max Scherzer’s back injury before Game 5 and sent the World Series back to Houston with a 3-2 lead. Strasburg worked through a tough first inning, throwing 8 ⅓ masterful innings to force Game 7. Dave Martinez lost his mind and was rightly ejected for his over the top argument after Sam Holbrook called Trea Turner out for baseline interference.

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The baseball season is long, winning the World Series is the result of months of hard work. (Cooper Neill/ MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The Nationals and Astros gave baseball fans an exciting World Series with plenty of twists and turns. Not every World Series is exciting. Teams do not always create exciting games, however the 2019 World Series did. Congratulations to the Washington Nationals on winning their first World Series and thank you to both teams for giving baseball fans an exciting end to the season.

DJ