Tagged: San Francisco Giants

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

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
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

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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.  

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 

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RaysWhite ElephantsYankeesYankeesAthleticsYankees
Black SoxSouthsidersSoxRaysWhite SoxRays
YankeesTwinkiesAsA’sYankeesA’s
MoneyballGod’s Waiting RoomJaysChiSoxTwinsWhite Sox

National League Divisional Series

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DodgersBravosDodgersDodgersBravosDodgers
PadresGnatsCincyPadresDodgersPadres
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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BravesBravosDodgersBravesCardinalsBraves
PadresYou want a hot apple pie with that?PadresPadresBravesPadres

World Series

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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

United States of Baseball- California

California has produced 2,338 Major League players, more than any other state; nearly 1,000 more than the second most productive state, New York. Only truly special players rise to the top in the Golden State. California’s greatest pitcher is Tom Seaver. His 106.02 career WAR ranks 8th among state leaders. The greatest position player is Barry Bonds, who ranks 2nd with 162.76 career WAR. Their combined 268.78 career WAR ranks California 3rd among all states and territories.

Tom Seaver for many was the perfect pitcher. He combined dominance with longevity. The Fresno native pitched 20 seasons in the Majors for the New York Mets (1967-1977, 1983), Cincinnati Reds (1977-1982), Chicago White Sox (1984-1986), and Boston Red Sox (1986). He won 311 Games, threw 231 Complete Games, 61 Shutouts, Struckout 3,640 batters, with a 2.86 ERA, 1.121 WHIP, and 127 ERA+. Seaver was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1967, a 12 time All Star, World Series champion with the 1969 Mets, won three National League ERA titles (1970-1971, 1973), three National League Cy Young Awards (1969, 1973, 1975), and was a first ball Hall of Famer in 1992. 

Tom Seaver made a career out of frustrating batters. (Focus on Sports via Getty Images)

There were so many great seasons in Tom Terrific’s career, it is difficult to pick which was his best. His three Cy Young seasons are the most logical, but his 1971 campaign is equally as dominant. Pitching for the 83 win Mets, he started 35 Games, threw 21 Complete Games, 4 Shutouts, in 286.1 Innings, allowed 61 Walks, while Strikingout 289 batters, posting a 20-10 record, 1.76 ERA, 0.946 WHIP, and 194 ERA+. Seaver was a tremendous pitcher, who despite all the accolades is still underrated. 

Barry Bonds is one of the greatest hitters of all time. Ignoring the PEDs, Bonds could hit. Yes his peak and the distance he could hit a baseball were unnaturally extended, no drug can help you hit a round ball with a round bat squarely. Bonds is a first ballot Hall of Famer if not for the cloud of PEDs. The Riverside native’s resume is ridiculous. He was a 14 time All Star, won 8 Gold Gloves, 12 Silver Slugger Awards, two National League Batting Titles (2002, 2004), and a record 7 Most Valuable Player Awards (1990, 1992-1993, 2001-2004). 

Bonds played 22 seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1986-1992) and San Francisco Giants (1993-2007). He collected 2,935 Hits, 601 Doubles, 77 Triples, 762 Home Runs, 1,996 RBI, 2,227 Runs scored, 514 Stolen Bases, 2,558 Walks, 688 Intentional Walks, with a .298 BA, .444 OBP, .607 SLG, 1.051 OPS, and 182 OPS+. Bonds holds the Major League record for most Home Runs, Walks, and Intentional Walks. If not for his connection to PEDs and blackballing after surpassing Hank Aaron’s Home Run record he would have reached 3,000 Hits and increased his records. 

Barry Bonds could hit, regardless of PED usage. (Phil Carter-US PRESSWIRE)

Like Seaver, it is difficult to select Barry Bonds’ greatest season. However, 2004 is one of the most ridiculous seasons in baseball history and deserves some recognition. At 39 years old, Bonds played 147 Games with 617 Plate Appearances and 373 At Bats, 135 Hits, 27 Doubles, 3 Triples, 45 Home Runs, 101 RBI, 129 Runs scored, 6 Stolen Bases, 232 Walks, 120 Intentional Walks, 41 Strikeouts, with a .362 BA, .609 OBP, .812 SLG, 1.422 OPS, and 263 OPS+. He led the league in Walks, Intentional Walks, BA, OBP, SLG, OPS, and OPS+ on his way to his 7th MVP award. He set the single season record for both Walks and Intentional Walks. Bonds has the top three single season Walk totals (2001- 177 walks, 2002- 198 walks, and 2004- 232 walks). He also has the top three single season Intentional Walk totals, and six of the top ten (1st 2004- 120 IBB, 2nd 2002- 68 IBB, 3rd 2003- 61 IBB, 6th 1993 and 2007- 43 IBB, 9th 2006- 38 IBB). Teams were always terrified of Bonds swinging the bat, but in 2004 opposing teams refused to pitch to him, leaving voters little choice with their MVP votes. 

California is a hot bed for baseball. Both Seaver and Bonds were first ballot Hall of Famers, unfortunately only one enjoyed the honor. The Golden State has produced the second most Hall of Fame players. The 24 California born Hall of Fame players are: Gary Carter, Frank Chance, Joe Cronin, Joe DiMaggio, Bobby Doerr, Don Drysdale, Dennis Eckersley, Lefty Gomez, Joe Gordon, Tony Gwynn, Chick Hafey, Harry Heilmann, Trevor Hoffman, Harry Hooper, Randy Johnson, George Kelly, Tony Lazzeri, Bob Lemon, Ernie Lombardi, Eddie Murray, Tom Seaver, Duke Snider, Alan Trammell, and Ted Williams. The Golden State also produced Hall of Fame Executive Pat Gillick and Umpire Doug Harvey. California has been wonderful to baseball. 

The United States of Baseball is heading for higher ground. Next week we examine baseball in Colorado. 

DJ

The United States of Baseball- Alabama

United States of Baseball

After an abbreviated 2020 season, hopefully a normal 2021 season lies ahead of us. The loss of normalcy due to Covid has made us all appreciate the good in our lives and what brings us together. In this effort The Winning Run will examine the greatest players from every state of the United States. Each Wednesday we will examine each state’s best pitcher and position player based on career WAR. 

This is not to diminish the contributions of non-American born players. They will have their own spotlight later. We hope you enjoy this journey through the United States of Baseball.

Alabama

Alabama does not have a Major League team, but it has produced 341 Major League players. Success on the field has led 11 players from the Yellowhammer state to Cooperstown. The greatest Alabama pitcher is Don Sutton and the greatest position player is Willie Mays. Both players are enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Their combined 224.51 WAR, gives Alabama the sixth highest WAR. 

Born in Clio, Alabama, Don Sutton is the town’s only Major Leaguer. He compiled 68.29 career WAR in 23 seasons pitching primarily for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has the 18th highest WAR among pitching state leaders. Sutton made at least 31 starts in 20 seasons, with his best season coming in 1972. In 33 Starts, he went 19-9 with 18 Complete Games, 9 Shutouts, throwing 272.2 Innings, with a 2.08 ERA, 0.913 WHIP, and 162 ERA+. He was an All Star and finished fifth in National League Cy Young voting.

The 1972 season began five seasons of dominance. Sutton went 93-51, with a 2.73 ERA, 1.054 WHIP, and 125 ERA+ during his peak. He finished in the top five of Cy Young voting in each season. 

Don Sutton was both dominant and had a long healthy career on the way to Cooperstown. (Focus on Sport/Getty Image)

The five seasons of dominance coupled with a long and healthy career enabled Sutton to join the illustrious 300 Win club. His 324 Wins are tied with Nolan Ryan for 14th most. He started 756 Games, threw 178 Complete Games, 58 Shutouts, in 5,282.1 Innings, with a 3.26 ERA, 1.142 WHIP, and 108 ERA+. Sutton won the 1980 National League ERA title with a 2.20 ERA. 

Sutton retired after the 1988 season. He finished his career with the Dodgers following stints with the Angels, Brewers, Astros, and Athletics. He was elected to Cooperstown in 1998 with 81.6% of the vote in his fifth year of eligibility. 

Westfield, Alabama has one Major Leaguer, the legendary Willie Mays. In 22 seasons, Mays compiled 156.22 career WAR for the Giants and Mets. He has the third highest WAR among position player state leaders. Nearly 50 years after his final game, Mays is still considered by many the greatest player ever.

Choosing the greatest season of Willie Mays’ career is impossible. His two MVP seasons are the easy choices, but 1955 was equally impressive. Mays’ first MVP season was 1954. In 151 Games, he collected 195 Hits, including 33 Doubles, 13 Triples, 41 Home Runs, 110 RBI, 119 Runs scored, with 8 Stolen Bases, 66 Walks, 57 Strikeouts, .345 BA, .411 OBP, .667 SLG, 1.078 OPS, and 175 OPS+. He led the league in Triples, BA, SLG, OBP, OPS, and OPS+. In 1955, Mays played 152 Games, collected 185 Hits, including 18 Doubles, 13 Triples, 51 Home Runs, 127 RBI, 123 Runs scored, 24 Stolen Bases, 79 Walks, 60 Strikeouts, .319 BA, .400 OBP, .659 SLG, 1.059 OPS, and 174 OPS+. He led the league in Triples, Home Runs, SLG, OPS, and OPS+ to finish fourth in MVP voting. A decade later, with the Giants now in San Francisco, Mays won his second MVP. He dominated in 1965, playing 157 Games, collecting 177 Hits, 21 Doubles, 3 Triples, 52 Home Runs, 112 RBI, 118 Runs scored, 9 Stolen Bases, 76 Walks, 71 Strikeouts, .317 BA, .398 OBP, .645 SLG, 1.043 OPS, and 185 OPS+. He led the league in Home Runs, OBP, SLG, OPS, and OPS+. In the ten seasons between MVPs, Mays finished outside of the top six in MVP voting once. 

Few, if any, players have ever played baseball better than Willie Mays. (AP Photo)

A Hall of Fame career is not built in a few good seasons, it requires consistent and sustained success. In 22 seasons, Mays collected 3,283 Hits, 523 Doubles, 140 Triples, 660 Home Runs, 1,903 RBI, 2,062 Runs scored, 338 Stolen Bases, 1,464 Walks, 1,526 Strikeouts, .304 BA, .384 OBP, .557 SLG, .941 OPS, and 156 OPS+. In addition to his MVPs, Mays won the 1951 National League Rookie of the Year, the 1954 World Series, the 1954 National League Batting title, 12 consecutive Gold Gloves, and was a 24 time All Star. In 1979, Mays was elected to Cooperstown in his first year of eligibility with 94.7% of the vote

Beyond Sutton and Mays, 10 more Hall of Famers were born in Alabama: Hank Aaron, Monte Irvin, Heinie Manush, Willie McCovey, Satchel Paige, Joe Sewell, Ozzie Smith, Mule Suttles, Billy Williams, and Early Wynn. Alabama’s rich baseball history continues. 

The next stop for the United States of Baseball is The Last Frontier, Alaska.

DJ

The Sixth Lousy Day of Baseball Christmas

On the Sixth Lousy Day of Baseball Christmas the baseball gods sent to me: the most times Caught Stealing without a Stolen Base, the most Hits without an RBI, the most Innings Pitched without a Win or Save, the most Games Managed without finishing first, the most Home Runs without a Triple, and the most Complete Games without a Shutout.

If at first you don’t succeed, try try try again. Failure is part of baseball. Successful batters fail seven out of ten times. Pitchers do not always throw strikes. Umpires miss calls. It is part of the game. When a runner fails on the bases, they can kill a rally. The undisputed Stolen Base king, Rickey Henderson, is also the Caught Stealing king. Success comes with risk. Unfortunately for Oscar Robles, he took the risk without any reward. He was Caught Stealing the most times without a successful Stolen Base, 0 for 8. 

Robles split his time between Shortstop and Third Base in three seasons for the Los Angeles Dodgers (2005-2006) and San Diego Padres (2007). 2005 was his best season, playing 110 Games, hitting .272, collecting 99 Hits, including his 5 career Home Runs, and 8 Stolen Base attempts. 

Oscar Robles tried to help the Dodgers by stealing a base, but was out every time. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

Success comes to those who try and Robles tried. On June 4th against the Milwaukee Brewers, Robles Singled off Victor Santos. The Dodgers tried to hit and run with Antonio Perez, but Perez struckout and Damian Miller threw Robles out at Second. Two weeks later in Chicago against the White Sox, Robles walked in the 2nd Inning. He then tried to steal Second against Freddy Garcia, but A.J. Pierzynski’s arm was faster than Robles’ legs. Out at Second. In the 9th Inning Cliff Politte walked Robles, who tried to steal again. Pierzynski’s throw beat Robles. Tadahito Iguchi caught the ball and ran Robles back to First, tossing the ball to Paul Konerko for the tag. 0 for 2 on the day. 

Robles was not deterred. On July 10th in Houston Brad Ausmus threw Robles out. In his final three Stolen Base attempts his teammates failed to protect him. Robles was part of a Strike Out Throw Out Double Play on July 15th against the Giants with Mike Matheny catching. On August 12th against the Mets, Jeff Kent struckout and Mike Piazza completed the Double Play. Danny Ardoin threw Robles out on August 23rd after Hee-Seop Choi whiffed against Colorado’s Jamey Wright. Oscar Robles’ final attempt was on September 5th against the Giants. Mike Edwards struckout and Yamid Haad threw Robles out. 

Half of Robles’ Caught Stealings were part of Strike Out Throw Out Double Plays. His teammates failed him. Unfortunately, Oscar Robles is saddled with the record for most Stolen Base attempts without success. His futility on the bases demonstrates how difficult baseball is to play. Some players are just dealt bad hands.

Happy Sixth Lousy Day of Baseball Christmas.

DJ

Collision Course

Hunter Pence’s retirement closes an incredible career with the Astros, Phillies, Rangers, and Giants. Pence had many amazing hits, catches, and throws in his own unique style. He did not move like other players on the diamond. There are more beautiful swings and throws, but it would be difficult to find someone who brought more passion and love to the ballpark every day.

On occasion I have had brief encounters with players. My encounter with Hunter Pence was brief, had nothing to do with baseball, and was thankfully not painful. My wife and I were in the middle of our honeymoon, a three week cross country road trip in 2017. We were staying on a sailboat just outside of AT&T Park in San Francisco. We watched the Giants lose to Cleveland on a cold San Francisco summer night. The game was messy, but the stadium was beautiful. The game also ended the 530 consecutive sellout streak for the Giants, a National League record. After the game we were walking around the outside the park, slowly making our way back to the sailboat. Suddenly a guy on a segway whips around a corner heading down The Embarcadero. We literally jumped out of the way to avoid a collision. The guy turns his head and apologizes as he rides away. The street light caught his face just right. It was Hunter Pence. We almost got run over by Hunter Pence on a segway during our honeymoon. 

Hunter Pence brought passion and joy to the ballpark everyday. (Getty Images)

This encounter with Hunter Pence was a singular moment. No photos, no hellos, no autograph, just an apology. I have had more enjoyable experiences with professional athletes, however the image of Hunter Pence riding off into the San Francisco night on his segway after nearly running us over will forever be etched in my memory. We went from WATCH OUT to that’s ok to Hey that was Hunter Pence, in the blink of an eye. Pence was hitless in four trips to the plate with three strikeouts that night. It would be understandable if he was distracted after a tough day at the office, but the simple apology was greatly appreciated.

Thank you for sharing your passion for the game with everyone who saw you play. Enjoy your retirement and thank you for not running us down on our honeymoon.

DJ

Beyond Enough

I am a white man in America. I do not, nor can I, understand what it is like to be African-American. I have never had the talk from my parents about how to act around the police so that I leave the encounter alive. I do not conceal carry a weapon, but if I did I would not be concerned about being shot simply for having a legal gun on my person, like Philando Castile. What I do know however is that enough is enough. The Milwaukee Bucks led the way by refusing to play their playoff game. Other NBA teams followed. MLB teams followed. The Brewers and Reds followed. The Mariners followed. The Dodgers and Giants followed. The WNBA followed. MLS followed. The argument that athletes should just do their job is ignorant and racist. Protesting against injustice is messy and uncomfortable. So is racism, but too many people who look like me are fine with not rocking the boat. Jacob Blake was shot in the back. Breonna Taylor was shot while sleeping at home in her bed. George Floyd was choked to death. “Yeah well if they had…” No, none of them posed an immediate threat yet two are dead and a third is paralyzed. The police are not the judge, jury, and executioner. 

Enough is enough. Why go for your gun and not your taser? If you did not have a taser why has the city, county, and/or state not invested in non-lethal weapons? The police reflect American society. Racism exists in every corner of America. Non-white students are experience harsher punishments while often attending schools with unequal funding thus creating unequal opportunities for our children, people of color receive more severe sentences from courts, the police question why a person with darker skin is driving or walking in an area of town “they don’t belong in” such as Elijah McClain. Rayshard Brooks had too much to drink and was killed through neglect and incompetence. How does a man who is too drunk to drive take a taser from two police officers? He was scared of the police. Ultimately his fear was right as he was murdered, shot in the back as he was fleeing on foot. Yes the police kill people of all skin colors and backgrounds. However, there is an imbalance in the number of people the police interact with and use deadly force against who have darker melanin.

Chris Rogers
Say their names. (@chrisrogersart)

Yes the vast majority of police officers are good. There are bad apples, and they ruin the bunch. If there are only a few bad cops why can’t the same be said for Muslims or African-Americans. Not every Muslim is a jihadist. Not every African-American is a drug dealer. People want to lump others into groups because it is easy. They do not want to see the mess that exists in society. The police are an extension of society and our imperfections. We place too many responsibilities on the police, not every problem can, nor should, be solved by them. 

This is the world we live in. It is beyond time to change. Demanding our fellow Americans are treated as human beings. That the color of your skin does not signify a level of danger. This is what must change. Enough is enough. Black Lives Matter, this is a fact. All lives are important, but right now we are focusing on making black lives whole after centuries of unjust racism, discrimination, segregation, slavery, and bondage. Those who resist will find themselves on the wrong side of history. Even if this change is centuries too late, it is better than continuing down this immoral path. 

#BlackLivesMatter

DJ

Duel in the Sun

Doug Eddings settled in behind home plate to call balls and strikes. Entering the game on April 22, 2018, Eddings had worked more than 2,400 games in the Majors, including more than 600 behind the plate. He had seen plenty through his mask. The Giants were visiting the Angels in an early season Interleague game. This game felt no different than any other game. As often happens in baseball, nothing suggested history was just moments away.

Jaime Barria took the mound for the Angels. 11 days earlier in Texas, Barria had given up one hit, a Ryan Rua Home Run, over five innings in his Major League debut to collect the win against the Rangers. Barria looked to build on his successful debut at home. The first San Francisco batter, Second Baseman Joe Panik, singled to Right on the seventh pitch of the game. Not an ideal start, but a lead off single does not signal impending doom.

Brandon Belt strolled to the plate. The Giants’ First Baseman entered the contest hitting .259 on the young season. Belt dug in against Barria. History awaited. 

Here is the pitch-by-pitch breakdown of the longest at bat in Major League history: 

New ball. Martin Maldonado throws the ball to Barria.

1). (0-1)- Foul, 92 MPH, Fastball, thigh high, outer half

New ball. Eddings throws the ball to Barria.

2). (1-1)- Ball, 92 MPH, Fastball, up and in, Maldonado fakes to First

3). (1-2)- Swinging Strike, 80 MPH, Slider, down and in

4). (1-2)- Foul, 91 MPH, Fastball, belly button high, outside corner

New ball. Eddings to Barria.

5). (1-2)- Foul, 81 MPH, Slider, middle, bottom of zone

New ball, Maldonado to Barria

6). (2-2)- Ball, 83 MPH, Changeup, down and away

7). (2-2)- Foul, 81 MPH, Slider, middle middle

New ball, ?

8). (2-2)- Foul, 92 MPH, Fastball, belly button, inside corner

New ball, Eddings to Barria

9). (3-2)- Ball, 92 MPH, Fastball, high, outside corner

10). (3-2)- Throw to First, Safe, Foul, 92 MPH, Fastball, middle middle

New ball, Eddings to Barria

11). (3-2)- Throw to First, Safe, Foul, 82 MPH, Slider, belt high, inside corner

New ball, Eddings to Barria

12). (3-2)- Foul, 83 MPH, Changeup, down and away

New ball, Eddings to Barria

13). (3-2)- Panik running, Foul, 83 MPH, Changeup, thigh high, outer third of the plate

New ball, Maldonado to Barria

14). (3-2)- Foul, 92 MPH, Fastball, thigh high, outer third of the plate

New ball, Maldonado to Barria

15). (3-2)- Foul, 82 MPH, Curveball, belt high, inside

New ball, Eddings to Barria

16). (3-2)- Throw to First, Safe, Foul, 82 MPH, Changeup, middle, bottom of zone

New ball, Eddings to Barria

17). (3-2)- Foul, 92 MPH, Fastball, belt high, outside third of the plate

New ball, Eddings to Barria

18). (3-2)- Foul, 93 MPH, Fastball, Thigh high, inside

New ball, ?

19). (3-2)- Throw to First, Safe, Foul, 82 MPH, Slider, Thigh high, inner third

New ball, Eddings to Barria

20). (3-2)- Foul, 92 MPH, Fastball, belt high, outside corner

New ball, Eddings to Barria

21). (3-2)- Line out to RF Kole Calhoun running straight in, 92 MPH, Fastball, belt high, inside corner

Barria and Belt battled for 13 minutes and 21 pitches before Belt flew out to Kole Calhoun. Angels Pitching Coach Charles Nagy paid Barria a visit to give him a breather after winning the fight. Two batters in, Barria was at 28 pitches. Jaime Barria and Brandon Belt’s battle surpassed Bartolo Colon and Ricky Guiterrez’s previous record of a 20 pitch at bat. Welcome to the record book. Barria got a breather while Belt was applauded in the dugout.

17 different baseballs were used during the at bat. The Ball Boy resupplied Eddings with new baseballs at least twice. Eddings threw 11 of the new baseballs to Barria, while Maldonado threw four back. There are two new baseballs unaccounted for as the video does not show the ball returning to Barria. Belt fouled off 12 of 21 pitches. Barria’s 21 pitches were 11 fastballs, 5 sliders, 4 changeups, and 1 curveball. Panik scurried back to First on 4 pickoff attempts.

Barria won the battle, but Belt and the Giants won the game 4-2. Barria lasted just 2 Innings, allowed 5 Hits, 2 Runs, 2 Earned Runs, 1 Walk, and 1 Strikeout against 12 Batters Faced. He threw 77 Pitches, 57 Strikes. San Francisco Batters made contact on 41 of Barria’s pitches, 16 by Belt. After the longest at bat of all time, Belt went 3 for 5 with a Home Run, 2 Runs Scored, and 1 RBI against 40 pitches, 33 for Strikes. 

Something unusual can happen everyday at the ballpark. Jaime Barria and Brandon Belt did not expect to face off in a 21 pitch marathon at bat. Both were trying to help their team win, and neither was willing to surrender. Baseball is a strange game and from time to time it gives glimpses of the absurd possibilities within the game.

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. 

RedsSP
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