Classic Scorecards: 1965 World Series Game 7

Last summer I read a great book about Dodgers Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax by Jane Leavy. In the book she detailed just how bad Koufax was hurting near the end of his career. She really went into detail about the 1965 season, and how much pain he must have been in every time he took the hill. The Dodgers tried to protect him by going to a five man rotation. Of course today this seems normal. After throwing a complete game in Spring Training his arm turned black and swelled up. He was told that he would be lucky to pitch once a week, and that he would eventually loose the use of his arm. Newspapers were predicting the demise of Sandy. Of course he went on to throw 335 innings and strike out a record 382 men. He also led the league in wins and ERA. He also threw a perfect game in September. I guess pain is what you make it. When asked about throwing in pain Koufax just said “my heroism is greatly overstated.” With this in mind it makes it even more improbable that Koufax was pitching in game seven against the Twins. He sat out game one because it fell on Yom Kippur. He the pitched game two, and lost to Jim Kaat. With the series tied at two he pitched a complete game shutout in game 5. With his arm troubles many would have predicted that this was the last time Koufax would pitch in 1965. The Dodgers had another great arm on full rest in Don Drysdale so he would probably get the ball. Manager Walter Alston rolled the dice though and put Koufax on the mound on only two days rest. Continue reading

A Small Tribute to Jackie Robinson

For someone born in my time it is just hard to fathom how segregated the country was just a few years ago. In fact 64 years ago today Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball. I just have a lot of trouble believing how he was even treated. A couple of years ago I read a great book called Opening Day about how Jackie broke into the majors. It is unbelievable some of the things that he put was forced to contend with just to play baseball. We still aren’t where we need to be 64 years later, but the gap is closing. Every year Major League Baseball does a great job remembering Jackie. This year they started a site called iam42.com to have anyone who wants honor Jackie. This is just my little way of honoring what Jackie did for the country and baseball.

In 1997 Major League Baseball retired Jackie’s number 42 across the board. Nobody will every where that number again for the season after Mariano Rivera retires. I really wanted to go to the Sox game tonight to see the players honor Jackie, but the weather forced me to reconsider. Maybe next season. For now I put together some photos showing how I have seen Jackie honored across baseball.

Jackies uniform on display at the Civil Rights game in 2009

Continue reading

Classic Scorecards: April 8, 1974 Hank Aaron’s 715th Home Run

 

Hank Aaron running the bases after passing Babe Ruth for most home runs all time

Thirty seven years ago today Hammerin’ Hank hit #715 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hank spent the entire off season just one home run shy of the Babe. The buildup of pressure during those months had to be something else. Hank came out on Opening Day and tied the Babe. That set up this game, and the moment that we all know so well. Barry Bonds has since passed Hank, but for some reason the record by Hank means more to me. Growing up the numbers 714 and 715 meant something. They still do today. Continue reading

Another Baseball Legend is Lost

Today while watching the Dodgers game on the MLB Network they announced that Duke Snider had died. “The Duke of Flatbush” was 84. He was the last big name player from the famous ‘Boys of Summer’ teams of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was also immoritlized in the now famous song “Willie, Mickey, and the Duke.” All three of those centerfielders played in New York in the 50′s. Could you imagine one city having three Hall of Fame outfielders now? It was something truly special that brings you back to the glory days of baseball. I am not old enough to remember them firsthand so all I can do is go by what I have read and heard. It had to be a great time to be a fan of the sport, and one more hero from that era is now gone. Willie Mays is now the lone surviving member of that great New York outfield.

Who To Root For in the Playoffs (2009 Edition)

Last season I tried to find a team to root for in the playoffs once the White Sox were eliminated. This year I can try this from the start. Here are the eight teams that have made the postseason this season.

American League
New York Yankees
Minnesota Twins
Boston Red Sox
Los Angeles Angels

National League
St. Louis Cardinals
Philadelphia Phillies
Colorado Rockies
Los Angeles Dodgers

I will start my process by picking the teams that I have seen play this season in person. This eliminates the Bronx Bombers, the Phillies (who were my 2009 pick), and the Rockies. The other five teams I was able to watch live this season. It is a lot easier to root for a team that you have seen play. Now comes the hard part. How do I get these five teams down to one that I can root for? Well, I root for the White Sox so I can just check the 40 man rosters of each of these teams to find players that once played for the palehose. The team with the most former Sox players wins.

Minnesota Twins (3)
Jon Rauch
Joe Crede
Orlando Cabrera

Los Angeles Angels (0)
None. But I feel as though Chone Figgins is a former player the way his name is batted around each offseason.

St. Louis Cardinals (0)
I still may root for them a little.

Los Angeles Dodgers (3)
Jon Garland
Charlie Haeger
Jim Thome

Boston Red Sox (1)
Brian Anderson

So here is where we stand right now. The Cardinals and Angels have zero former Sox players on their team. What are they thinking? The Red Sox have one, and it is even a member of the White Sox this season in Brian Anderson. The Dodgers have three which ties them for first, and they have a player that was a member of the Sox this season in Jim Thome. They also have one of my favorites in Jon Garland. That just leaves the Twins. They have three former Sox players as well. Orlando Cabrera did not make many friends in Chicago last season, but he is a winner. Joe Crede will always be one of my favorite Sox players of all-time. He was clutch. How do I break this tie for my loyalty? They are in separate leagues so I guess I am rooting for a Twins/Dodgers series. If that does happen I have one way to break the tie. I have seen the Twins three times this season including once in their stadium. I saw the Dodgers a couple of days after that trip in Milwaukee. That is a 3-1 vote for the Twins. Also the Twins have a former Irish pitcher (Jeff Manship), and one of the coolest MLB bloggers out there (Pat Neshek). I think we have a winner. The team that I will root to win it all is the Twins? Can a White Sox fan do this? I guess we will see. It is easy to root for them now as they are facing the Yankees. Nobody wants them to win. Well maybe a few. When it comes down to it though can I be a Twins fan for a couple weeks? Stay tuned.

Thome Has a New Home

Last night Kenny Williams waved the white flag after the Sox started this road trip 1-7. He traded Jose Contreras to the Rockies for another player! They received Brandon Hynick for the struggling pitcher. In a move that shocked me they also traded away slugger Jim Thome. They received prospect Justin Fuller for him. Fuller is a 25 year old that is still in A ball. Gentleman Jim gets traded in the twilight of his career for a nobody. I loved watching Jim crush the ball during his time with the Sox. He hit some of the longest homers I have ever seen hit in The Cell. He also seemed to be a genuinely good guy. He will be missed. This move opens up the door for Scotty Pods at the DH spot. So long Jim, we will miss you. The only question I have about the trade is where will Jim play in Los Angeles? He has not played first base in a couple of years. Do they just use him as a pinch hitter until they make the World Series? He did not do well in that role during interleague play this season. He does give them a good bat off the bench that could change the game with one swing. I will have more on this trade later I am sure. It is just starting to sink in.

Jose Contreras on the other hand needed to go. When I met him while he was playing for the Charlotte Knights this season he made me a fan of his. His pitching over the course of his Sox career has made it hard for me to like him. He was one game under .500 during his time with the Sox. He won some big games for us, but he was not the ace of the staff by far.

The White Sox are now four games under .500 with two more games in Minnesota left, and then four with the Red Sox at home after that. In between those series is the game that was supposed to have playoff implications, but now is just a measure of which team has fallen farther. This team could easily be 10 games under .500 in the next week.

Manny, Dodgers Beat the Brewers to Continue the Streak

The away team has won every game this roadtrip. I don’t know if this trend will continue tomorrow when I am technically at home, but going to another game. I really need to take a break from baseball games after this. The main reason that I wanted to see this game was to see if Manny could pass Mickey Mantle on the all-time home run list. I saw Sammy do this in 2003, and thought it could be a possibility. Manny hit a drive in the first that had a chance. Corey Hart must have had his sunglasses on at night because he missed what seemed like an easy play on the ball. He just let it hit the ground, and Manny was on base. The picture to the left is Manny following through on the double. The next picture in the series (which is not shown) shows Manny watching his shot. Typical Manny, watching the ball instead of running. I saw many young kids in the stands wearing Ramirez jerseys. Is this the guy we want our youth looking up to? When your kid does something wrong will you just say “That is Johnny being Johnny”? He had a good game going 3 for 3 before being replaced by Juan Pierre in the 7th as part of a double switch.

During the game I was talking to the guys about how the Sox were rumored to be in on Orlando Hudson in the off season. I couldn’t figure out why. As if to show me he hit two home runs in the game. Apparently he is a good ball player. He made a couple nice catches in the field, and Ryan Braun loves hitting him the ball. Clayton Kershaw pitched six solid innings only giving up one run on two hits. His main downfall was the five walks he gave up. Yovani Gallardo on the other hand gave up 5 runs in 5 innings. The Brewers had a chance in the ninth to tie the game, but Braun popped out once again. That was too bad because if they had tied the game Trevor Hoffman was warming up in the bullpen, and may have come in the game. It would have been nice to see the all time saves leader in action. The road trip ended with a game at a beautiful park. We did not have much invested in either team so we could just enjoy the baseball game. Manny did not hit his milestone homer, and we did not see Trevor but we still had a good time. We spent the last couple innings in the upper deck behind the plate. From that view you can take everything in. This park is much nicer than I remember it. Maybe that had something to do with the roof being open. Tomorrow night the madness continues at the Railcats game where I will hopefully get to meet Fergie Jenkins.

Another Set of Reasons for Why I Am the Sports Junkie

Over the next few days the Sports Junkie will be busy. We are leaving tonight to go on a baseball roadtrip. Stops will include Midway Stadium (home of the St. Paul Saints), the Metrodome (for a Sox/Twins game), and on the way home a game at Miller Park (Brewers/Dodgers). The following is just my little way of getting pumped up for the trip. I have been to all three stadiums, but with regrets each time of things that I did not see. This time I will take care of all of those.

In 2005 I knew that I was leaving Iowa soon, and that I needed to hit some of the stadiums in striking distance before they became farther away. One of those stadiums was Midway stadium. With all of the publicity surrounding the Saints, this was on my wishlist anyway. As you can see by the picture they had a seat with my name on it waiting for me (Remember they say the camera adds ten pounds). The Saints are known for their gimmicks during the game. Owner Mike Veeck is the son of former Sox owner Bill Veeck (as in Wreck). He has brought his fathers sense of showmanship to St. Paul. They have everything that you could ask for at the game. A pig even brings the balls out to the umpire between innings. They are now training a young pig “Slumhog Millionaire” to do just that task. “Boarack Ohama” the last ball pig must have met an untimely end. Besides Veeck another one of the owners of the team is actor Bill Murray. He has been an owner since the team resurfaced as part of the Northern League in 1993. On opening night in St. Paul he was selling programs out front of the stadium, throwing out the first pitch, and even coaching first and third base. The man is a phenomenon. We are going to the game on German night. I don’t know what that will mean for our group. Hopefully they do not find out that I am Polish.

I made my first trip to the Metrodome in 2004. I saw two games in two days in a great environment. I wrote about the games in a previous article on here. Follow the link if you missed it the first time. In the first game Brad Radke was on the mound. On Saturday night he will be on the field again to be inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame. For some reason I have always admired Radke. He came to work every 5th day, and gave it everything that he had. I was able to see him pitch several times in his career. It always seemed like he came up in the rotation when I was going to be at the game. That night in the dome he was matched up against Neil Cotts. The result should be obvious.
This will more than likely be my last time in the Metrodome. They are going to tear it down at the end of the season. Part of me will miss it. It was so different than the other stadiums that I grew up with. The part of me that is a Sox fan though will be glad to see it go. No more running the air system to help your own team. The pitching matchup will be Gavin Floyd going against Nick Blackburn. The last time I saw Blackburn pitch was at the one game playoff last September. He was tough that night only allowing one run, and has been pitching decent of late. Floyd could either pitch a no-hitter, or get bombed. He has great stuff, and when he is on he is one of the best out there. Hopefully he has it on Saturday. My goal is to get a ball from the field with the commemorative logo on it. With my track record that could be hard to do.

In 2003 I was bored on a rain day so I drove up to Milwaukee to catch a Brewers/Red Sox game. It was pouring down rain so I did not get to really tour the outside of the stadium. I have always regretted that. I was able to see the game though thanks to a retractable roof. This is a great stadium, but it is missing the charm of old County Stadium. The game that I saw had the obligitory stadium packed with Red Sox fans. I had a group that came from Boston to Milwaukee for the game, and a bachelor party. Those fans went crazy when Manny Ramirez hit a solo shot to tie the game in the 6th inning. Those same fans took a beating when the Brewers answered with five in the bottom of the same inning. One of those runs was a shot off the top of the center field scoreboard by Richie Sexson. That may be the longest home run that I have ever seen in person. I have seen Sammy crank some out of Wrigley, but this was a bomb. The game also marked the first time that I would see Scott Podsednik play the game of baseball. He went 1-4 with a single and a run scored in the game. He was still a couple years away from fame in Chicago. I had a great time at the game, and can only hope this game against the Dodgers will match up to that. Another reason to get excited about the game is the fact that the fans entering the ball park get a Brewers key chain. Not really. The real reason that I am excited is that my terrible streak of not getting a ball at the park might be ending. I have a strategy. There is a fellow blogger out there who ball hawks at Brewers games among others. His name is the Happy Youngster, and he gained some noteriety at a Brewers/Marlins game earlier this year. I will let you read about that on his blog. Anyway he pulls many balls every game he goes to. Maybe if I can find him this streak will end. It would be about time. The pitching matchup here is scheduled to be Clayton Kershaw against Yovani Gallardo. This is a matchup of the Brewers ace of the first half against one of the Dodgers up and coming arms. It was not too long ago that Kershaw was pitching up in Michigan for the Great Lakes Loons in the Midwest League. This should be a great game to watch. Could it be the game of the weekend?

Hawks Give Away All of Thier Bats

Today I decided to go to the Silverhawks game at Coveleski Stadium to see the Hawks take on the Great Lakes Loons. The promotion today was the Hoosier Bat Giveaway. This was one of the cooler Minor League Promotions that I have seen. They gave away 1,000 full size Hoosier Bat to the first 1,400 kids at the game. I think they must have run out of bats to give the kids, and started raiding the dugout. The Hawks were only able to squeeze out 7 hits, but they left 11 men on base. They were walked into great situations, but could not get the big hit. The Loons were no hit until the fourth when they erupted for four runs on four hits. They only had six hits total on the day, but they made them count. It was a beautiful day for a game, and I am glad that I went even though the score was not what I would have liked. I moved around the stadium quite a bit, and took in the views like it was my first time. The Hawks are 26-35 on the season, and will have a losing record for the first half. The good news about the Midwest League though is that they can start fresh next week. Maybe these young guys can get it together and make a run in the second half. If not they have some good promotions to draw the fans to the games.