My Experts Predict the 2017 World Series

“An hour before Game 5, [Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony] Rizzo has broken out his pregame inspirational and comedic presentation, quoting motivational lines from movies with no clothes on. The Cubs won, so Rizzo did it before Game 6, too. They won again, so he did it prior to Game 7 as well.” ~ Tom Verducci in The Cubs Way

There may be eight-million stories in the Naked City, but that’s city’s not Chicago and Anthony Rizzo won’t be Lady Godiva’ing his way to another World Series. Not this year anyway.

 

Sorry, Anthony.

How can I be so sure?

Because my crackerjack team of experts told me so and they’re awesome, smart, incredibly good looking, and I believe them. (And, you want to believe them, too. That’s why you’re still reading.)

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My Experts Are Way Better Than Your Experts

Last April, I asked several non-baseball “experts” to predict the post-season. To be one of my experts, the bar was set pretty high (or low depending upon which direction you’re looking). You simply needed to not know anything about baseball and not be a fan.

That April post is here: My Experts Predict the 2016 World Series

When one of my experts complained that he didn’t understand why the NEW YORK Giants were in the NL West, and I had to explain that the New York Giants played football, which is an entirely different sport, I had just the crack team of unpaid, uncaring experts that would make my predictions perfect.

When some of “my team” insisted that not only did they not know anything about baseball, but that they actively “hated” the sport, I knew I’d done well.

As the regular season came to a close yesterday, I want to commend my team of experts, because, quite frankly, they were often spot-on better than the paid baseball “experts” on TV, and on blogs, and in Twitter-ville.

Not to brag, but my guys are way better than your guys.

Who had the Red Sox winning the AL East?

Did you? Of course, you didn’t.

But, Clinton did.

Clinton picks the Red Sox

Who had the Orioles in the Wild Card?

You didn’t. (I knew you were wrong about that, but you were being stubborn.)

Hats off to Lindsey. She knew.  (So did I.)

Lindsey and Sarah pick the Wild Cards

(Lindsey’s daughter Sarah had the Braves in the Wild Card, which is sort of sweet. Wrong, but sort of sweet.)

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Sweep. Swept. Swupt.

You may not think “swupt” is a word.

You are wrong. (Technically, you are right. But, today, you are wrong.)

To be swupt is to lose all four games of a four-game series to the Boston Red Sox. Which is what the Baltimore Orioles did this week.

Losing 2-5, 2-5, 1-5, 3-5. Or, to simplify things, losing the series 8-20.

(Orioles Magic? Orioles Tragic.)

Losing ugly and losing, at least for the moment, their hold of a post-season wild card spot.

With just one week left in the regular season, there aren’t many moments left to right this shaky ship.

Broadcasters and managers and players will tell you that it is very hard to win all four games of a four-game series. (They will also tell you that visiting teams hate four-game series for weird reasons … like players don’t like to stay in the same hotel and town for so long. It’s four games. It’s one game more than a typical three-game series. Are players seriously that sensitive that playing one more day is such a burden? You know what’s a burden? Watching your very most favorite team in the whole wide entire world give up five – FIVE! – unearned runs in a single game and then lose that game to the Red Sox, 5-1.)

The Red Sox must have been miserable this week what with the burden of this four-game series and all.

Here’s rookie Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi overcoming the sadness of a four-game series by celebrating following one of their wins this week by dancing like Michael Jackson.

benintendi

Look how happy they are! (The Orioles were happy once.)

Just for the record, the University of Virginia kept Benintendi, then a center fielder at the University of Arkansas, hitless during the 2014 NCAA Regionals Tournament.

I know, because I was there. Here’s an ESPN screen cap of the Baseball Bloggess and Editor/Husband watching it happen.

uva-vs-arkansas-regionals-2014

Sure, no one looks very happy, but Virginia shut out Arkansas that day 3-0.

The Orioles are seven games back and in third place in the AL East. They are a half game back of the second Wild Card spot.

Dear Orioles, There are nine games left to play. Fix this.

 

 

David Ortiz & Some Unlucky Piñatas

Some folks think I’m too hard on the Red Sox.

They think I just live in the past … just re-posting and re-watching this clip from 2011, one of my favorite baseball moments, over and over and over.

(You don’t need to watch it. Seriously. It’s a couple years old and, really, while it is one of my favorite moments in the history of baseball, you don’t have to waste one minute to watch this clip no matter how magical that one minute will be for you.)

I don’t hate the Red Sox.

I’m not angry at them. You know, this kind of angry …

David-Ortiz-Smashes-Phone-With-Bat-After-Ejection

That’s Red Sox DH David Ortiz answering the dugout phone at Camden Yards in 2013.

Actually, I think I’m pretty fair to every team.

And, in that spirit, and because it is brilliant, here’s a new commercial of David Ortiz and piñatas.

(I hope he’s trying to earn enough money to buy Baltimore a new dugout phone.)

Three Mookies

There are lots of good baseball names.

Where else can you find a Yogi and Chipper and Moose and Boog?

(Spaceman and Satchel. And, Catfish and Goose. Campy and Crush. Oil Can and Babe.)

And, Mookie.

Mookie is beyond a good baseball name.  It’s a great baseball name. There are no Mookies in football. (If there are, there shouldn’t be.)

Mookie’s a good name for the kid who mows your lawn, the wiry old jazz musician who never caught a break, the mysterious water-witcher with no fixed address, and the guy who stops when your car breaks down, digs around in the back of his truck for a piece of cable, ties something up under your hood, makes your car start, and then disappears before you can say thank you.

Mostly, Mookie’s perfect for baseball.

Like Mookie Wilson of the New York Mets.

In the 10th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, outfielder Mookie Wilson hit the ball that dribbled between Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner’s legs, allowing the winning run to score, tying up the Series, and leading to the Mets’ “destiny” win in Game 7.

To one Curse of the Bambino, add one dash Mookie. Stir and serve.

Watch 

mookie wilson buckner

“We shoulda lost that game.”

Oh, that Mookie Wilson.

You may think I’m sharing this simply to stick it to the pesky Red Sox who beat the Orioles Friday night 7-0, and then again last night 8-0.

I’m not. If I were sticking it to the Red Sox, I would share this video instead.

(But, I’m not. So don’t watch that second video. Really, I’m serious. Don’t.)

Mookie is known for his heart and his hustle, especially on the base paths.

Here he is with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show last year. Watch 

mookie on the daily show

“You were the one guy everybody loved and nobody ever worried about.” 

But, there’s another Mookie now: 22-year-old Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts.

How can you not like a Mookie who does this on Opening Day? Watch

mookie bases

He’s safe! And … he’s safe again!

A Mookie who does amazing things in the outfield. Watch

mookie at the wall2

Yes, he stole a “certain” two-run homer from the Orioles’ Chris Davis on Friday night. But, it was so awesome, how can I be mad?

(For pete’s sake, Crush, you couldn’t hit it a little higher?)

Mookie excelled at baseball and basketball in high school. He’s 5’9” and can dunk.

Plus, he was named Tennessee Boys Bowler of the Year in 2010.

He bowls!

And, if all that weren’t enough, he does Yoga to warm up before games.

OK, sure, almost all of them do nowadays, but this photo of mine from last season is one of my favorites.

Mookie Betts Yoga

© The Baseball Bloggess

How can you not love a guy named Mookie who is so happy to be warming up? How can you not forgive him for being a Red Sox?

But, today there’s another Mookie.

When you live in the country, feral cats show up in your barn. Ten percent of the ferals are old tom cats, with crooked faces and matted fur. The tips of their ears are often missing and their tails take funny turns in weird directions. These toms are stealthy and you’ll usually only catch glimpses of their back ends in the mornings as they slink from your barn and disappear into the grass of the nearby pasture. They know they are squatters and they do their best to stay unseen.

But, 90 percent of the ferals that show up in your barn are pregnant females. They will have kittens in your barn and then dare you to kick them out.

You can’t. You just can’t.

And, when you finally start to catch the ferals, for fixin’ and re-homing, you wonder if one – just one – will be able to make that challenging jump from wild thing to indoor cat.

And, when one does … with purrs so loud that they rumble through the room like the freight trains that pass through the edge of town at midnight …

Mookie2

© The Baseball Bloggess

You name him Mookie.

Because, he seems so happy.

Just like Mookie.

My Experts Predict The World Series …

“They’re picking us last again which is beautiful.” ~ Baltimore Orioles Manager Buck Showalter in January.

Congratulations, Seattle Mariners. Congratulations, Washington Nationals. You’re going to the World Series!

Thank you for an exciting 2015 season! Man, it flew by.

The experts picked you and experts don’t lie. That’s why they’re experts. (Expert is derived from the Latin word for “try.” All that trying has made them smart. So smart that the World Series is already decided and we can just move on to Christmas. “Dear Santa, Please help the Orioles win the World Series in 2016.”)

Yes, I mean you – all you smarty-pants with your fancy stats and box scores and hours of analysis and number crunching.

What the FIP is a wOBA?

Yet, despite all that hard work, the experts are almost always wrong.

Admit it. Giants over Royals in last year’s Series? You had no idea. NO idea.

No stats gazing for me. I’m too lazy for that. (I also hate math.)

Instead, I looked for a few folks around town who don’t care a bit about baseball. For them WAR is good for absolutely nothing and ERA is a laundry detergent.

era

They’ve got better things to do this summer than watch a team play 162 crummy games of baseball.

(For the record, I don’t have anything better to do.)

They picked the 2015 division winners.

American League East ~ Boston Red Sox

andrew al east

Andrew is a server at The Lightwell, one of our favorite go-to spots in Orange, Virginia. (Black bean burger with avocado, dee-lish. Also, very nice cheesy grits. I didn’t even know I liked cheesy grits.)

Andrew doesn’t follow baseball and will spend his season working and his spare hours hiking through Virginia’s beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

Why the Red Sox? “My mom is from Boston.”

American League Central ~ Detroit Tigers

scout al central

Scout, a first grader, was hanging out with her family at the barber shop on Main Street.

Scout will watch her brother play baseball, but that’s about it. She prefers picking flowers, playing with her puppy, and riding horses.

Why the Tigers? Because I asked her to circle one of the teams and she circled Tigers. Good enough for me.

American League West ~ Oakland Athletics

gloria al west

Gloria was born in Chicago. North side, so Cubs all the way. Her dad took her to Wrigley a few times when she was young. It was a long time ago, but she still remembers sitting in the right field bleachers.

She’ll watch the standings during the season just in case this becomes the year the Cubs win the World Series. She doesn’t want to miss that. (Aren’t Cubs fans cute?)

She also reads my blog.  “I liked it at first for the pictures of the cats, but I like it for the baseball history now.” See, what a nice person Gloria is?

Why the A’s? “They were on the middle of the page.” Gloria also noted that, logically, athletes should be better ballplayers than angels, astronauts, mariners, or rangers.

National League East ~ Atlanta Braves

sean nl east

Sean is a local lawyer. (I told him I would assure you that he is a very good lawyer. He set up my business LLC and, look, I’m still up and running … so there you go.)

Does he follow baseball? “Vaguely.”

Why the Braves? “My cousin played for the Braves. He came in as a pinch hitter, struck out, and lost a World Series game.”

tommy gregg

Sean’s cousin is Tommy Gregg, who played about 10 years in the majors, including six in Atlanta. In Game 2 of the 1991 Series versus the Twins, Gregg pinch-hit for Mark Lemke with two out in the bottom of the ninth, the tying run on first. He struck out looking. The Twins went on to win the Series, though you can’t blame Gregg’s one strikeout for that.

(You could, however, blame this … )

Gregg had a steady career, much better than that one strike out would have you believe, and he’s currently the hitting coach of the Omaha Storm Chasers, the Triple A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.

National League Central ~ St. Louis Cardinals

george nl central

I found George working out at the local Racquetball Club in Orange.

(There’s a lovely Yoga studio upstairs. Nice teacher, too.)

George isn’t much of a baseball fan. Football’s his game. He was a defensive end at Virginia Tech and went on to coach at Tech, William and Mary, and 23 seasons at the University of Maryland.

While he claims to not follow much baseball, he was awfully quick to remind me that Tech’s baseball team swept the University of Virginia last month.

Why the Cardinals? No reason.

National League West ~ Los Angeles Dodgers

tim nl west

Tim is a longtime UPS driver. He has delivered all sorts of crazy things to us over the years, including this jar of official baseball rubbing mud

rubbing mud

Yes, I paid money for a jar of mud. So?

… this Moe Drawbosky card …

Moe Drabowsky

World Series hero, 1966.

… and several jars of Manny Machado salsa

manny machado salsa

Actually, not bad.

Tim was a pitcher in high school. He might watch a game or two during the season, but won’t really get interested until playoff time, when he and the 90 other UPS drivers he works with, including those who know nothing about baseball, will “start talking crap” about games.

Why the Dodgers? During the Lasorda Era, Tim would occasionally catch late night West Coast Dodgers games on TV.

*     *     *     *

With the divisions set, I took the remaining teams to my Wild Card experts, my two English friends, Chris and Michelle.

They became citizens last summer and are still getting the hang of this America thing. They still stick unnecessary u’s in words, insist that English chocolate is superior, and won’t admit that the U.S. bailed Britain out of two world wars.

Just the non-expert experts I was looking for.

American League Wild Card ~ Texas Rangers

chris al wildcard

Note the Union Jack teacup. 

Chris’s work with rock bands has taken him through a number of baseball stadiums over the years, so he knows his way around balls and strikes. He’s been to an actual game, but found it pretty dull. “I went one time. I’ll never go back.”

Why the Rangers? “They’re always there or thereabouts every year. I figure they could definitely be in the wild card market.”

National League Wild Card ~ Arizona Diamondbacks

michelle nl wildcard

Michelle is a competitive equestrian, but is currently recuperating from an injury. She would like to point out she was a bit woozy while making her pick.

Here’s what Michelle can tell you about baseball:

1) It’s a cross between rounders and cricket.

2) Players chew tobacco and spit.

3) They wear short pants and long socks, and

4) “In Boston, the Green Meanie is the scoreboard.”

(Dear Boston Red Sox, If you rename the Green Monster the Green Meanie, I promise I will stop posting this video every season.)

Why the Diamondbacks? “They were the longest name on the list.”

*     *     *     *

With the post-season set, we mixed the teams up in special American League and National League caps.

??????????

POSTSEASON is set 2015

Editor/Husband picked the pennant winners.

red sox win the pennant 2015

“I can’t believe I just picked the Red Sox.” 

the braves win the nl pennant

“I can’t believe I just picked the Braves.”

There’s your 2015 World Series.

To pick a champion, I called upon the always adorable Stevie. Until a can of sardines learns to throw a baseball, she doesn’t care who wins. (But, she’s sweet on Mike Trout.)

braves red sox world series 2015

She circled around the two teams a few times (perhaps signaling a five-game series? Or, maybe just looking for that can of sardines) before settling down next to the Braves and, in the process, knocking the Red Sox over with her generous backside.

stevie pushes the red sox out 2015

braves win the world series 2015

(Somewhere down in spring training, at that very moment, David Ortiz felt an unexplained heavy sadness come over him.)

And, that is why the Atlanta Braves will win the World Series.

stevie says 2015

Still, it’s a little disappointing. Although I’m pleased that the Braves’ Nick Markakis, beloved former Oriole, will finally win a World Series ring, what fun is it now that the season is over before it has even begun?

Baseball is a beautiful, most perfect game. On Opening Day, every team is tied for first … at least for a few hours. Who can know who will win a World Series that is seven months and more than 162 games away?

I have no idea … no idea …

i go orioles

 

This Is About The Red Sox (& Yoga)

I am not a traitor.

Although, I admit, this might not look too good.

I’ve been sitting around for weeks waiting for the Baltimore Orioles to just get on with things and re-sign Nick Markakis.

How hard can it be? It’s not like he’s asking for $300 million. Or, 13 years.

Really, guys, sign someone. Anyone.

But, mostly Nick.

This happens every year. Thanksgiving comes. Thanksgiving goes. Christmas comes. Christmas goes. New Year’s …

Other teams spend money. The Orioles sit tight.

Patience is not my strong suit.

I was planning on a silent protest. Not saying a word on here until the Orioles did something.

(I know, that’d show ‘em.)

But, I miss you. So, I’m cancelling the boycott.

So, here’s the traitor thing. With no Orioles news to report, this post is about the Boston Red Sox.

As an Orioles fan, I’ve got no love for the Red Sox. Those are the rules.

That’s why I post this video from 2011, the only highlight in a lousy Orioles season, on here from time to time.

curse of the andino 2011

Just to relive a moment when we weren’t supposed to, but we beat the Red Sox anyway.

This weekend, the Red Sox apparently spent nearly $200 million to sign free agents Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval(Why, Panda, why?)

And, they’ve still got money to throw around.

The Orioles swept up a few minor leaguers last week, which is sweet and all, sort of like a hot night out at the Dollar Store. But, it’s always so sad to watch the free agent list scroll by … “nope” … “nope” … “can’t afford him” … “nope” … “nope” … “too expensive.”

Bye, bye Andrew Miller. Bye, bye, Nelson Cruz, too. (Probably.)  We’ll miss you.

I hate all this off-season money business. But, this post isn’t about money.

(Well, it’s not anymore.)

In September, my Red Sox-loving, baseball guru Jay arranged for us to go down on the field for batting practice when the Sox played the Orioles at Camden Yards.

So, while I wait for the Orioles to get Nick to sign on the dotted line, here are the Red Sox doing Yoga.

Second baseman Mookie Betts was so joyful in his stretch that this photo has become one of my favorites.

Mookie Betts Yoga

© The Baseball Bloggess

 Mookie Betts doing a modified “Cat Tail Asana.”

Lavarnway Yoga

© The Baseball Bloggess

 Ryan Lavarnway moving into “Supta Padangusthasana.” (That’s fancy talk for leg stretch.) 

Jackie Bradley Yoga1

© The Baseball Bloggess

 Jackie Bradley, Jr. reaching into “Janu Sirsasana.” (That’s head to knee pose.)

How can I dislike a team that has a Mookie doing Yoga?

Now, how about some “Free Agent Sign-asana”, Orioles, so I can stop writing about the Red Sox?

Nick Markakis ALCS

© The Baseball Bloggess

Photos: Red Sox vs. Orioles, September 20, 2014 & Royals vs. Orioles (ALCS Game 2), October 11, 2014.  Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore. © The Baseball Bloggess

 

Babe Ruth. Ballplayer. Brownie. Mom.

babe ruth makes good headlineOn July 11, 1914, George Herman Ruth played his first major league game. He had recently joined the Boston Red Sox and was already known as “Babe”.

He pitched seven innings, gave up three runs (two earned), and got a no decision in a 4-3 win over the Cleveland Naps (later the Indians).

He went 0-for-2 at the plate. His first major league at bat? A strike out.

Babe Ruth, Pitcher

SDN-061193, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum. (1917)

He became the greatest ballplayer ever. (This is not even worth arguing over.)

If you want the stats, you can find plenty online.

But, how about some other Ruthian notes on this auspicious day?

He Was Born In Baltimore (And Lived In Centerfield)

According to the plaque at Baltimore’s Camden Yards: “During the early 1900’s, Babe Ruth and his family lived at 406 Conway Street in what is now centerfield of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Babe’s father operated Ruth’s Café on the ground floor of the residence.”

The Café? A polite way of saying saloon.

Adam

Adam Jones, Orioles Centerfielder. Camden Yards.

Ruth Was A Catcher (Before He Was A Pitcher, Before He Was The Sultan of Swat)

While at St. Mary’s – a reform school/orphanage for wayward boys where Ruth was sent by his family for being “incorrigible” – he began to play as part of a formal school baseball league. He was a star of the league and played catcher – a lefty catcher (a rarity then and now).

Babe_Ruth_-_St._Mary's_Industrial_School

Public Domain image. (1913)

Babe Ruth, Catcher. St. Mary’s. Back Row, Center.

He later moved to pitcher and in 1913, his last year at St. Mary’s, according to historian Robert Creamer, he homered in nearly every game he played and was undefeated in every game he pitched.

The Baltimore Orioles Signed Ruth To His First Professional Contract (But, Not Those Orioles)

Yes, the Baltimore Orioles did sign Babe Ruth to his first professional baseball contract in 1914. (His salary: $100 a month.)

But, no, it was not the historic 1890s-era Baltimore Orioles that eventually moved to New York and evolved into the Yankees. (They were long gone by 1914.)

And, no, it wasn’t the current Baltimore Orioles. They have only been in Baltimore since 1954, and were previously the St. Louis Browns.

The Baltimore Orioles that signed Ruth were a minor league team in the International League – a team that was originally based in Montreal.

The Orioles weren’t even the most popular baseball team in Baltimore that year. They played a woeful second fiddle to the Baltimore Terrapins, a Federal League team.

They couldn’t compete with the popular Terps and Ruth was quickly sold to the Boston Red Sox. The next season, those Orioles packed up and headed to Richmond, Virginia.

babe ruth red sox

SDN-061536, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum. (1918)

Babe Ruth and two other Orioles were sold to the Red Sox in July 1914 for a reported $25,000.

Baby Ruth Candy Bars Were Not Named For Babe Ruth (Except That They Were)

baby ruth bars

The Curtiss Candy Company always claimed they named the Baby Ruth bar for Ruth Cleveland, President Grover Cleveland’s daughter who died at age 12 in 1904, which was nearly 20 years before the candy bar even appeared.

More likely is that the Curtiss Candy Company jumped on the Babe Ruth bandwagon, but Ruth Cleveland was a convenient back story that would allow them to avoid paying Babe for his image, likeness, name, and endorsement.

Should you wish to argue that Babe Ruth and Baby Ruth are two completely different names: Reporters of the day would, on occasion, refer to the Babe as “Baby Ruth” and here’s some proof of that.

baby ruth headline

In the 1990s, Nestlé, which now owns the brand, contracted with the Ruth family to use the Babe’s image in their marketing.

Although, Nestlé seems to have put Baby in the corner these days – Baby Ruths aren’t even listed on their chocolate page. (Aero Bars? They’re horrible.)

But, if you dig around, you can uncover this Gooey Baby Ruth Brownie recipe!

brownies

A candy bar melted into a brownie? With cream cheese? The Babe would definitely put his name on that!

Ruth Played Where The Sun Don’t Shine

In 1922, Ruth lost a fly ball in the sun while playing left field at New York’s Polo Grounds.

After that, Ruth determined what position he would play from game to game, based on where the sun would shine in the outfield in every stadium – always avoiding the “sun field.”

At the Polo Grounds and in Yankee Stadium, for instance, he would always be in right field.  At Boston’s Fenway Park, however, he would forever after play in left.

I wonder where he would have played at the Trop?

Yankee Stadium — The House That Ruth Built

He didn’t literally build it. He did, however, have basic tailoring skills and while at St. Mary’s briefly worked at a shirt factory. His job was to attach collars and he was paid six cents a collar.

I’m Related To Babe

Seriously. But, not Babe Ruth.

My mom was named Julie at birth, but everyone in the family and most everyone in town knew her as Babe. Her high school yearbook lists her as Babe, too. She was called Babe, she said, because she was the youngest in her family and the youngest in her class.

Sadly, her daughter’s witty jokes about her being named for Babe Ruth or Babe the Blue Ox were wholly unappreciated.

But get this …

In the 1930s, Babe Ruth discovered that he was a year older than he had been told he was, when he had to produce a certified birth certificate in order to get his passport.

In the 1990s, Babe, my mom, discovered that she was a year older than she had been told she was, when she had to produce a certified birth certificate in order to get Social Security.

Coincidence?

_____________________________

“It Didn’t Take A Feather Out Of Me.”

july 15 spokane press 1905

One of the greatest games in baseball history happened on the Fourth of July.

It really did.

On July 4, 1905, the Philadelphia Athletics and the Boston Americans played a doubleheader at Boston’s Huntington Avenue Grounds.

Doubleheaders, in those days before stadium lights, began bright and early in the morning.

huntington avenue grounds

(1910) Public Domain image.

Huntington Avenue Grounds

The A’s took the morning game 5-2. At some point late in the game, the A’s quirky lefty Rube Waddell came in, pitched in relief, and got a couple outs.

This would be of only passing note, except that Waddell then started the afternoon game. And, pitched a 20-inning complete game. And, won. Beating Cy Young (who also pitched all 20).

Every game your team wins is a great game. But, this really might have been the greatest.

box score

Twenty innings pitched by two of the greatest pitchers ever.

This conversation really happened:

The Baseball Bloggess: “How about that ‘the greatest baseball game on record’ happened on the Fourth of July?”

Editor/Husband: “How about that ‘the greatest baseball game on record’ was 20 innings and was over in three hours and 31 minutes?”

(The average nine-inning game these days – what with all the commercials and instant replay and batting gloves and infield shifting – hovers around the three-hour mark.)

Waddell later estimated that he threw 250 pitches in that single game. Cy Young thought he pitched slightly fewer.

(No one counted in those days.)

“That 20-inning game was the best game I ever pitched,” Waddell said. “But it didn’t take a feather out of me. I felt just as good after the game was over as I did during the contest.”

waddell

(1909) Permission: SDN-055366, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum.

Rube Waddell

“I can’t claim that I did better work than Young,” Waddell said. “I had the luck. … The fact that it was the Fourth of July kept me going, and I guess the shooting of revolvers and the fireworks and the yelling made me pitch better.”

Wait, what? Revolvers?

Fireworks, in the daytime?

Holy crap.

Our great-grandparents were crazy (and dangerous)!

Waddell was nicknamed “Rube” because he was thought to be a little slow, a goofy, country bumpkin. Young was nicknamed “Cy” – for Cyclone – because it was said he threw fastballs so hard they would destroy the wooden grandstand walls.

Waddell loved a good drink and would skip starts to go fishing or wrestle alligators or play street games with neighborhood kids. He could become so distracted on the mound that he would just up and leave. (Fans of other teams suggested that holding a puppy up at a game would distract Waddell from his work.)

But, his pitching itself, including a powerful fastball and deceptive curve, reflected a focus and control that he lacked in other aspects of his life. On at least one occasion, he was so “on” that he shooed his outfielders out of the game and proceeded to strike out the side.

cy young pub domain 1908

(1908) Permission: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division #LC-USZ62-77897 DLC

Cy Young

Cy Young was far less colorful, except when he pitched. He threw the first perfect game of the modern era (against, wouldn’t you know it, the A’s and Waddell in 1904) and won 511 career games, the most by any pitcher ever, which is why pitchers today vie for the Cy Young award and not the Rube Waddell award.

Here’s your 20-second 20-inning recap of that Fourth of July game.

The Americans went up 2-0 in the first. The A’s tied it up with a two-run home run in the sixth. Then, for the next 13 innings, nothing.

Finally, sometime before dark, in the 20th inning, Boston – and Young – faltered. A couple Boston errors, and a batter hit by pitch, allowed the A’s to cobble together two runs, and a victory.

Despite the loss, it was, Young said, “the greatest game of ball I ever took part in.”

waddells glove

The glove Waddell used that day is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

POST-SCRIPT:

Both Waddell and Young are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Their combined 20-inning complete game was a pitching record that stood – for one season. In 1906, the A’s and Americans met again at Huntington Grounds. This time the A’s Jack Coombs and the Americans’ Joe Harris combined for a 24-inning complete game. (The A’s won that one, too.)

The Philadelphia A’s moved to Kansas City in 1955 and Oakland in 1968. They are currently 52-33, the best record in baseball.

The Boston Americans are now called the Red Sox. They are currently 38-47. Their Fourth of July game today with the Baltimore Orioles has been rained out. Doubleheader tomorrow!

Oh, hey … one more thing!

Waddell went 0-for-8 at the plate in that 1905 game. Only one other player has gone 0-for-8 in a game AND gotten the win. And, it was against Boston, too.

The Orioles’ Chris Davis, the designated hitter, was moved to pitcher at the end of a 17-inning game against the Red Sox in May 2012 when the team ran out of available pitchers. He hadn’t ever pitched in the big leagues before. He pitched two scoreless innings. He got the win. He hasn’t pitched since.

(Editor/Husband would want me to tell you this: That 2012 O’s – Red Sox game? It took six hours.)

Watch the two-minute highlights here.

crush

Happy Fourth of July!

Where In The World … ?

In 1903, the Boston Americans won baseball’s very first World Series.

I know, I know – the “Americans” won America’s “World” Series. How not-very-worldly of us.

(The Boston Americans, by the way, included Cy Young, the winningest pitcher in the history of baseball. They would occasionally take spring training in Charlottesville, Virginia – just down the road from me. In 1908, they started calling themselves the Red Sox and are known today for their generous facial hair.)

1903_World_Series_-_Boston_Americans

The Boston Americans (front row) defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates (back row) in the nine-game 1903 World Series. ~ public domain image

My Canadian friend Susie (hi Susie!) always reminds me that Canada “invented” baseball. And, while that’s not exactly true, it is not exactly untrue either, and it’s quite a bit truer than Abner Doubleday’s claim, which isn’t true at all.

But, what is true is that Jackie Robinson’s first professional integrated regular season games were played with the Montreal Royals, the Brooklyn Dodgers’ farm club. And, what is also true is that Robinson called Montreal one of his favorite places because the people there were “warm and wonderful” and treated the Robinson family with respect.

So maybe “World” Series is a bit of a stretch. But, at least the world plays baseball.

You want to talk about a stretch, how about calling the Winter Olympics the world’s games, when nearly half of the world’s population lives in countries that are snow free?

Baseball is nearly everywhere today.

And, while there is no baseball in Antarctica, there are penguins and you can click here to play baseball with them.

Every other continent, not covered by an ice sheet, will have a baseball game going on in some field, or village, or town, or city, somewhere. And, the best of those players might get a chance in the big leagues.

Just look at the free-agent multi-multi-million-dollar signings in recent months – Robinson Cano (Dominican Republic), Masahiro Tanaka (Japan), Shin-Soo Choo (South Korea).

Spoiler Alert: The Baltimore Orioles will win the World Series this season thanks to their off-season pick ups of pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez (Dominican Republic) and Suk-min Yoon (South Korea), and veteran power hitter Nelson Cruz (Dominican Republic, again). They will win despite the fact that they nearly signed, and then quickly unsigned, Grant Balfour, a seasoned, but moody, reliever from Australia.

The 2014 baseball season began this weekend in Australia when the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks kicked off their first game at 4 a.m. EDT on Saturday.

I am an insanely passionate baseball fan. But, I did not get up to watch. The Orioles will play 162 regular season games in 2014, and I will try to watch them all (except when they’re on the West Coast playing and I’m on the East Coast sleeping).

There will be plenty of baseball that doesn’t require a 4 a.m. pot of coffee.

That said, boy oh boy, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw looked sharp.

Clayton Kershaw, sometime around 4 a.m. EDT on Saturday.

Here’s legendary Dodgers’ broadcaster Vin Scully with a koala bear.

vin koala

The two games this weekend were held at the Sydney Cricket Ground that was reconfigured for baseball. The New York Giants and Chicago White Sox played an exhibition game there way back in 1914.

The Giants won that game.

The Dodgers swept the Diamondbacks this weekend.

One of the fellas at the MLB channel called the Cricket Ground a mix of World Cup and Wimbledon.

I love baseball’s international spirit.  I love that players come from all over, and a team may have two or three translators hanging around the dugout to help everyone communicate.

Players from Japan and the Dominican Republic and Cuba are some of the best players in major league ball today.

But, baseball also thrives closer to home in Indian Nation.

I just discovered that Jacoby Ellsbury and Joba Chamberlain are Native American.

National Public Radio’s Only A Game had a wonderful story this weekend about baseball and Navajo Nation.  Click here.

This season, the Class A Spokane Indians will honor the tribes of the Pacific Northwest by wearing the Native American Salish language on their jerseys.

Spokane, in Salish, looks a bit like a cat just ran over the keyboard, or something like this:

Sp’q’n’i

spokane jersey

(I must have one!)

(I think Sp’q’n’i is about to make my spell-checker explode.)

Baseball season is finally here. You know what to do.

Root for your “home” team … whether it’s the Baltimore Orioles (whoo!) or the Toronto Blue Jays (hi again Susie!), or an outfielder from Cienfuegos, Cuba or an infielder from Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, or  a pitcher from Habikino, Osaka, Japan.

Or, the Sp’q’n’i … yeh, especially Sp’q’n’i.

(Road trip, anyone?)