Sunday, November 20, 2011

Game 6 Collapses Lead to Temporary Game 7 Hope

The Texas Rangers' historic 2011 Game 6 collapse - two of them in one game, actually - is one of the all time greats.  It will be remembered forever.  The Rangers were one strike away from winning the World Series two innings in a row with two run leads to start each inning.  Yet the ultimate in horrifying took place.  Not only did they crumble to lose Game 6 in devastating fashion, the Rangers seemed to do the inevitable: lose Game 7 as well.

After such a Game 6 collapse, a Game 7 win seems as doomed as the Game 6 choke was shocking.  But upon further review, something interesting happens.  With the four most famous Game 6 collapses (that I can remember), the losing team went on to take an early lead in Game 7.

In the 2011 World Series, the Rangers shook off the loss to take a 2 run lead in the top of the first inning in game 7.  But fate overcame their lead and the Cardinals won.

Now for the other three Game 6 collapses I remember.  In 1986, the Boston Red Sox, up 3 games to 2 over the New York Mets, took a two run 10th inning lead.  In the bottom of the frame, they got the first two outs before disaster struck.  Three straight Mets singles scored a run and put the tying run at third.  With two strikes, the Sox were one strike from winning the World Series.  A game-tying wild pitch uncorked by Bob Stanley was the replacement.  The third out then went through Bill Buckner's legs, completing the Game 6 catastrophe.  But the Sox shed the pain and took an early 3-0 lead in Game 7 that lasted until the 6th inning before the Mets completed their comeback.

In the 2003 NLCS, the ever cursed Chicago Cubs held a 3 games to 2 lead over the wild-card expansion Florida Marlins.  With their ace on the mound, the Cubbies took a 3 hit shutout into the 8th inning with a 3 run lead.  Five outs from their first World Series in a million years, Cubs fan Steve Bartman interfered with Cubs outfielder Moises Alou's attempt to catch a foul ball at the wall.  The Marlins answered with 8 runs, dashing the hopes for the evening, and no doubt for another several decades.  But although the Cubs were the only one of these four teams to not score first in Game 7, they did score five unanswered runs to take an early 5-3 lead before the Marlins completed their comeback.

Now for the largest, latest collapse in baseball history.  The 2002 San Francisco Giants were thrashing the Anaheim Angels (or whatever they were named back then) in Game 6, 5-0.  Their ace was on the mound with a two-hit shutout in the 7th inning, just 8 outs away from their first World Championship in almost 50 years.  A couple of singles brought a pitching change.  A brain-freeze low-inside target given to a low-inside hitter resulted in a 3-run homer, cutting the lead to 5-3 before getting out of the inning.  The 8th inning saw the best bullpen - and most overworked - melt down for another 3 runs to the surging Disneylanders after cutting the countdown to five outs away.  Robb Nen's career ending arm blowout was the red carpet to the G-Men's crash and burn.  In Game 7, the Giants scored first, early, but that didn't last as Livan Hernandez responded with a Psychology 101 mental breakdown case study, giving up four runs to eventually complete the flushdown.

[Note to whiny Cubs fans: Quit complaining that Dusty should have taken the pitcher out during Game 6.  He DID take the pitcher out in Game year earlier, and look at the results!!!  You were doomed either way.]

These Game 6 meltdowns seem to reveal that the teams could rebound, take the field the next day, and perform well enough to take the lead in Game 7.  But the ultimate result is a less extreme come-from-ahead loss in Game 7.

[Update: I neglected to include the umpire induced Game 6 meltdown of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1985 World Series.  Essentially two outs away from a Cards ring, Don Denkinger botched a call at first base that triggered a 2-run Royals game winning rally.  The Redbirds were shutout the next day 11-0.  I guess this shows my theory is only good from 1986 on.]

Friday, October 28, 2011


Well, I never.  I was at work on swing shift and didn't get to see game 6 tonight, but I heard about what happened.  I knew the Rangers were one strike away from winning the World Series in two different innings before coughing it up twice.  I knew they lost it on a lead-off walk-off homer in the 11th.  On the way home I was listening to the radio and there was some serious criticism of Ron Washington for not putting his best gloves in the outfield for the ninth inning.  He replaced Nelson Cruz later in the game anyway, so why not in the 9th?

Okay, I was able to piece together that Cruz had a hand (or maybe just the opposite) in the Rangers' crushing defeat, but I didn't know what that was.  After I got home I was able to watch some highlights.  Disbelief.

Nelson Cruz should have caught that ball on the warning track to win the World Series.  But he didn't.  He reminded me of Jose Canseco out there, the worst outfielder I've ever seen.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Big Dogs Home for LCS

The ALCS and NLCS are being played without the presence of the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Giants, Braves and Rays.  All of the teams that are supposed to be there aren't.  It's also the first LCS since 2005 without an Eastern division team in either series.  Although this is generally welcome to me, the absence of my Giants is specifically troubling.

In any case, I'm reverting to rooting for the lesser of the remaining evils.  That means the Milwaukee Brewers are my choice to win it all.  If I had to pick a pecking order of the teams still in it, I would pick the Brewers first, then the Tigers, then Rangers and lastly the Cardinals.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Phillies Ratcheting Decline

The Philadelphia Phillies have been experiencing a strange ratcheting decline the last four years.  They have fallen precisely one notch per year.  In 2008 they won the World Series.  In 2009 they lost the World Series.  In 2010 they lost the NLCS and in 2011 they lost the NLDS.

If this trend continues, in 2012 they will lose the division title.  Whether this means they will still make the playoffs as a wildcard or they will lose the division title in game 162 when Ryan Howard makes the final out again remains to be seen.  It stands to reason that if they make it as the wildcard, they will lose the NLDS again.  But the result would be the same as this year, so I'm thinking they would lose the division title on game 162.  If the trend continues, of course.

Philly fans are more than frustrated with this turn of events.  Seconds after the final out the other night, the fans booed their Phils for a disappointing season end.  Of course they're the fans who once booed Santa Claus.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Shutting Philly Up

This has nothing to do with the outcome this evening, but it is simply amazing just how quickly 46,000 raving lunatic fanatics wearing red can become mute.  The deafening roar changes to recording studio hush at the crack of an opponents bat like no other venue in sports.  I wonder why that is?

The raucous rooters in Philly were silenced tonight by the Cardinals' rally.  It reminded me of the Giants effect on the crowd last year in the 2010 NLCS.  The contrast is simply stunning.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Realignment #2 - My favorite

A few weeks ago I wrote about realignment and listed just one idea.  I've been thinking about it for a while and I think I've come up with a great idea for realignment.  I think it's far better than all others I've encountered.  This is because it solves many of the problems with the current alignment and baseball schedule, and also it creates some new and much needed rivalries and is sure to increase attendance and revenue.  It's a win-win-win situation I believe.

First I'd like to list problems with the current alignment and schedule:

  • Each league has a different number of teams.  But this is because to have an odd number of teams in each league would require an interleague series every day of the season.
  • Divisions have different numbers of teams, either 4 (AL West), 6 (NL Central) or 5 (all other divisions).  An AL West team has a 50% greater statistical chance of winning the World Series than an NL Central team simply by being in a 4 team division.
  • Unbalanced numbers of teams in each division make it so that teams play each other different numbers of times than other teams.  Because of this, weird adjustments need to be made to make a total of 162 games.  Examples are:  often when the Giants and Cardinals play their 6 games against each other, they are split so that 4 games are played in one park and 2 in the other.
  • Intra-divisional play results in some teams playing 18 games against each other, some others 19 and even others 20.  Inter-division play results in 6, 7 or 9 games against other teams.  There is no uniformity, balance or symmetry.  The schedule playing field isn't really level. 
  • Because of an unbalanced number of teams in each division, when two divisions play each other in interleague play, every team in one division doesn't play all teams in the other.  Sometimes a team plays only 3 or 4 of the 5 teams, etc.  This also creates odd matchups.  The A's this year (AL West) played the NL East.  They played only 3 teams - Mets, Phillies and Marlins - but not the Braves or Nationals, but to make up space to total 162 they also played the D-Backs (NL West).  Go figure.
  • Interleague play was designed so that teams in the other league will get to see the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs etc.  Yet after 15 years of interleague, the Cubs finally visited Fenway for the first time.  The last time the NL West played the AL East, the Giants completely missed the Yankees, playing them neither at home nor on the road.
  • Interleague metro and intra-state "rivalry" games create an unlevel playing field among teams competing for the same division title.  As an example, the Mets and Marlins are both in the NL East.  For over a decade, the Marlins got to play six games against the hapless expansion Rays while the Mets had to play six games against a historic dynasty Yankee team.  That's a good two to three game swing in the standings just because of your schedule.  Hardly fair.
  • Also, far too many games are played in different time zones.  West coast fans are still at work when East coast night games start, and East coast fans are in bed when West coast night games start.  Airline travel is greater with the current schedule as there are fewer groupings of teams that make sense to economize.
  • There are more problems that I won't go into, but the totality of them warrants a re-thinking of alignment.  Which brings me to my proposed solution:

Here's my solution for all this nonsense.  It works out beautifully and symmetrically, using traditional baseball numbers, creates new rivalries and enhances existing geographic rivalries.

First, I'm going to start with the idea proposed earlier this year with the Houston Astros going to the American League West to even every division at five teams.  I'll put them in with Seattle, Oakland, Anaheim and Texas.  Other than that I'm going to keep the existing divisions in tact.  BUT...

What is going to be different is in how I organize the divisions into leagues.  Instead of two leagues with three divisions in each league, I'm going to invert this to result in three leagues of ten teams each with two divisions of five teams in each league.  I'm going to invert the names also.  The three leagues would be called Western League, Central League and Eastern League.  In each league there would be an American Division and a National division.  The beauty of this is that it concentrates games within regions rather than being spread out over the country.  And it is all perfectly symmetrical.

Here's a breakdown of the leagues and divisions:


American Div.   American Div.   American Div.

LA Angels       Cleveland       Baltimore
Oakland         Detroit         Boston
Seattle         Chi. White Sox  NY Yankees
Houston         Kansas City     Tampa Bay
Texas           Minnesota       Toronto

National Div.   National Div.   National Div.

Arizona         Chicago Cubs    Atlanta
Colorado        Milwaukee       Philadelphia
San Diego       St. Louis       Washington
Los Angeles     Pittsburgh      New York Mets
San Francisco   Cincinnati      Florida

Now for the math.  In each division, each team would play the other four teams in that division a total of 18 times.  This is a traditional number dating back to 10- and 12-team leagues after expansion in 1961-62 and 1969.  So, 18 games x four other teams = 72 intra-division games.  Now, each team in a division will play each team in the other division in that league a total of 12 times.  Another traditional number of games played against teams in the other division that came along with the 12-team leagues.  So, 12 games x five other teams = 60 intra-division games.  This totals 132 games, and when subtracted from 162 leaves 30 games.  There would still be "interleague" play.  Each division would play one of the other four divisions not in their league per year, rotating each year for four years.  With 30 games to play against 5 teams in the other league's division, each team will play the other team six times, three home and three road!  So every team will play every other team home and away every four years, guaranteed!

In short, 18 games against teams in your own division, 12 games against teams in the other division in your league, and 6 games against the teams in an interleague division on a four year rotation.  Total: 162.

Now to spell out some great advantages.  Since each league is constructed regionally instead of spread out across the country, divisions in that league contain natural rivalries.  All five metro area rivalries (NY, LA, Chicago, San Fran and DC/Baltimore) and all four intra-state rivalries (TX, FL, OH and MO) will have those teams playing at least 12 games against each other per year, with Texas and Houston playing 18 since they're now in the same division.  Imagine the Cubs and Sox playing 12 games against each other every year, or the Yankees and Mets, or the Giants and A's, or the Reds and Indians.  Not only is this a great advantage, but other regional rivalries will be created as well.  Just imagine the Phillies and Red Sox playing 12 games every year.  Or the Yankees and Braves.  Or the Mets and Red Sox.  Or the Cards and White Sox.  Not only will the Brewers play 18 games against the Cubs every year, they'll also play 12 games against the White Sox.  The A's and Dodgers, Giants and Angels.

Also, since leagues are arranged regionally, long flights to the opposite coast will only happen once every two years during the "interleague" play against those divisions.

Now a question is raised about the All-Star game.  With three leagues, how will that be arranged?  Well, the traditional league format could be kept in tact by choosing players from the three American divisions combined to play against players from the three National divisions combined.  The game will retain an "American vs. National" flavor.  And post-season play could be similar.  Each division would advance its winner to the playoffs with a wild-card with the best second place record of the three American divisions and another from the three National divisions.  National division teams could play off against each other and so could American division teams.  The World Series then could be a matchup of an American division team and a National division team, with each year rotating for home field advantage.

Overall I think this realignment idea would improve baseball to a good degree.  I think I'll push for it to become more popular.  Maybe write the commish?  I'd love to get any feedback on this idea, so if you have any, please comment.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Realignment #1

Realignment was a big baseball topic a month or so ago.  I'm just now getting to it.  I believe realignment needs to happen and there are a number of ways to accomplish it that are better than the current alignment.  As I've written before I'm for balanced divisions and an unbalanced but symmetrical schedule.  I'm for an unbalanced schedule because with a balanced schedule, divisions make no sense whatever.  I AM for a symmetrical schedule because it gives all teams the same level playing field as it were.  Baseball has always had an unbalanced schedule.  From 1901 to 1996, there were two leagues of teams that never played each other at all.  Many games against your own league, zero against the other.  Unbalanced.

Here are some ways to realign, and I will give the first one here.

Realignment #1:

Move an NL team to the AL and have 15 teams in each league, with 5 teams in each of the six divisions.  This would almost guarantee an interleague series always happening throughout the year, but this could be done in a simple way.  Series at the beginning or end of the year could be played between teams that finished last or near last from the year before.  In this format, each team could play the other 4 teams in their division 18 times each (which is a traditional number easily divisible by 3)(for a total of 72 games), each other team in its own league six times (3 home and 3 road, for a total of 60 games), and each team in one division in the other league six times each (3 home and 3 road) for a total of 30 interleague games.  This totals 162.

More in a coming post...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Best Team

The best team doesn't always win the World Series, but I would say that the best team did win it the last four years running.  The Giants were arguably the best team in baseball last year in 2010 - and certainly in the second half - while the Yankees were the year before.  The 2008 Phillies lived up to expectations and the 2007 Red Sox ran away with it.

In 2006, the Cardinals barely had a winning record, the 2005 White Sox were very good, the 2004 Red Sox were a wildcard storybook team, the 2003 Marlins and 2002 Angels were WC teams, too.  The 2001 D-Backs had a great 1-2 rotation built for October and I'm not positive they were the best, but the 1998-2000 Yankees were.  So, it had been a while since the best team won, now four in a row.  Will the best team win again?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Victory Outfit

And that's why the Giants are World Champs.  What a form-fitting game.  Cain tosses seven innings of one-run ball (unearned) and the bullpen mops up.  Wilson heard every four letter heckle there was in the 'pen.  Yet another low scoring one-run game, 2-1.  Yet another Philly frustration.  Their fans probably think it's because their lineup wasn't hitting well.  But we know better.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Expanded Playoffs With More Teams?

There's a proposal for expanding the playoffs for 2012.  Each league would have an additional wild card team.  Normally I would be opposed to such a thing, as I think there are more than enough teams in the post season as it is.  I don't like the wild card either.  Eight out of 30 teams make it (more than 25%), and that's too many.  But depending on how the format works, I might just be for it.

What would work for me is to add an additional wild card team for each league, but the two wild card teams in each league could have a one game play-in the day after the regular season is over to determine who plays in the regular format.  That way, no wild card team could feel safe with a late season surge to gain the wild card that carries over into post season and ends up winning the World Series just because they're the hottest the latest.  But an additional series between those two teams that allow all other teams an extended time off?  No way.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Busted Posey

It's been quite a while - blog time speaking - since Buster Posey was injured at the plate by Scott Cousins.  One thing I did was listen to every side possible and come to a conclusion after that.  I didn't see the play live, but heard the radio account, then listened to the post-game show, interviews with various baseball people, and lots of talk radio.  I didn't see a replay immediately and wasn't able to view one for about three days.  So I heard others' opinions of the play before I saw it.

Many were saying that Giants players resigned to the idea that it was a legit taking out of the catcher who was blocking the plate.  So I was expecting to see a Rose/Fosse type of play, or a Snow/Pudge type of play or a Schierholtz/Chinese catcher type of play.  But when I saw it, I was shocked to see Posey not even close to blocking the plate, and Cousins veering completely out of his way (not even trying to score), crossing the foul line and throwing his entire body across the inside of the plate in order to take Posey out.  The video matched essentially nothing that I heard about it on the radio.

The "old school" types flexed their egos and said this is the way baseball has always been played.  Really?  Going out of your way to take somebody out?  I understand old school toughness of taking out the catcher...IF he's blocking the plate.  But all the other "comparative" plays that were mentioned had one thing in common with each other that wasn't present in the Cousins/Posey play.  In all the other plays, the catcher was blocking the plate.

Now I'm not advocating what GM Sabean said, either, that it would be fine with the Giants organization if Cousins never played again at the major league level, being the 25th man on the Fish roster.  Yes, it was an act of backing up his guy, but is just as much a part of baseball as the collision.  I'm wondering what will happen in Florida later in the season if Cousins is still on the roster.  Chin music is part of baseball, too.  But one thing is clear.  You don't run on Schierholtz.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Giants Record Projection Through May 31

May 16 through May 31: (note: projected record in orange)

L 22-18 .550, 89-73; L 22-19 .537, 87-75; W 23-19 .548, 89-73; W 24-19 .558, 90-72; W 25-19 .568, 92-70; W 26-19 .578, 94-68; W 27-19 .587, 95-67; L 27-20 .574, 93-69; L 27-21 .563, 91-71; L 27-22 .551, 89-73; W 28-22 .560, 90-72; L 28-13 .549, 89-73; L 28-24 .538, 87-75; W 29-24 .547, 89-73; L 29-25 .537, 87-75.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Giants Record Projection Through May 15

May 1 through May 15: (note: projected record in orange)

L 13-14 .481, 78-84; L 13-15 .464, 75-87; W 14-15 .483, 78-84; W 15-15 .500, 81-81; L 15-16 .484, 78-84; W 16-16 .500, 81-81; W 17-16 .515, 83-79; W 18-16 .529, 86-76; W 19-16 .543, 88-74; W 20-16 .556, 90-72; W 21-16 .568, 92-70; L 21-17 .553, 90-72; W 22-17 .564, 91-71; ppd 22-17 .564, 91-71.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Month?

It's been about a month since I've blogged here.  I could never have imagined such a thing.  I need to get on it and post.  It shouldn't be too much longer.  Lots to talk about, except those things are now distant history, social networkingly speaking.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Giants Record Projection Through April 30

April 16 through April 30, 2011 (Note: projected record in orange)

W 8-6 .571, 93-69; L 8-7 .533, 86-76; W 9-7 .563, 91-71; W 10-7 .588, 95-67; L 10-8 .556, 90-72; L 10-9 .526, 85-77; L 10-10 .500, 81-81; L 10-11 .476, 77-85; W 11-11 .500, 81-81; L 11-12 .478, 77-85; W 12-12 .500, 81-81; L 12-13 .480, 78-84; W 13-13 .500, 81-81.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Trouble In Tinseltown

So the owners of the Dodgers are in deep financial trouble.  Bud Selig is having MLB take over the team in an attempt to rescue them from disaster.  This reminds one of the Montreal Expos woes prior to their moving to Washington.  But that was the Montreal Expos.  This is the...the...the...Dodgers.  And it's so bad that last I heard the ownership might not be able to make it's payroll for employees for the month of May.

Guess my resume won't be going there.  First, winning the World Series, now the Dodgers in almost ruin?  Interesting time to be a Giants fan.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Over .500

As of yesterday, judging by the major league standings, only 10 of the 30 teams have records above .500.  I figure this to change a bit over the season, but one never knows.  I wonder what percentage of teams have winning records each year throughout history.  I could figure that one out, but I'm not so without a life as to try.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Giants Record Projection Through April 15

March 31 through April 15, 2011:  (Note: projected record in orange)

L 0-1 .000, 0-162; L 0-2 .000, 0-162; W 1-2 .333, 54-108; L 1-3 .250, 41-121; L 1-4 .200, 32-130; W 2-4 .333, 54-108; W 3-4 .429, 69-93; W 4-4 .500, 81-81; L 4-5 .444, 72-90; L 4-6 .400, 65-97; W 5-6 .455, 74-88; W 6-6 .500, 81-81; W 7-6 .538, 87-75.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

2011 Giants Record Projection

For the last three seasons I've done a game-by-game projection for either how many wins or losses the Giants are projected to have at the end of the season keeping the same win-loss percentage.  I started this in 2008 mainly because I knew the Giants really stank, and I wanted to see how bad the year would go.  So I projected the number of losses.  I continued it in 2009, but to my surprise they had a winning season, so the loss projection didn't help as much.  So I switched to a win projection in 2010, and decided I would do the following seasons win or loss projection based on whether they had a winning season or losing season the year before.

This year I've decided to change all this to a record projection, showing both wins and losses.  Like in years past, I think I'll update this running projection on the 15th and last days of each month.  There should be 12 such projections.  So, starting with next Friday's game, I should have the first couple of weeks projected out.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Opening Day For The World Champs

Today is the home opener for the San Francisco Giants.  They get to raise the championship banner.  Tomorrow night, they'll be handing out the World Series rings.  Things are in a frenzy here baseball wise.  And today, with the raising of the banner, the Barry Bonds trial - just several blocks away - goes to the jury for deliberation.  Any Giants fans on the jury?

This will be the second Opening Day I've missed in as many years.  I'm sure it will be on TV somewhere, and it will always be on the radio.  They got off to a less than desirable 2-4 start on the road in LA and SD.  Maybe once the hoopla is over they can get back to winning Torture style.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Opening Day on the Schedule

For some reason baseball started one series earlier this year.  Normally, the season would have started this coming Monday.  But due to the early start this last Thursday, it is realized that the NCAA basketball final won't be interfering with Opening Day this year.  Usually the NCAA final is the night of Opening Day, and media feel some kind of obligation to cover it, cutting into the Opening Day coverage.  So, maybe this is a good thing this year.  I'll have to see how it goes having the season ending on a Wednesday.  Sounds totally strange.  But maybe baseball is trying to capitalize on putting any last-series pennant races on weekdays that usually have lower attendance.  Who knows.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Opening Day

Okay, Opening Day was yesterday.  As of this writing, two games have been played by most teams.  I missed writing about it a few days ago as I had some pressing projects.  But baseball is back again.  Spring training is one thing, but Opening Day is something completely different.  Each team has an opening day, and so does baseball overall.

It means that every game now means something.  Even if it doesn't mean anything, it still means something.  And it will continue for about 180 games including the post season.  So, here's to enjoying another season of memories.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Texas Cainsaw Massacre

If you take the "h" out of "chain" in the famous event "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" then you end up with "Texas Cainsaw Massacre."  Apparently, that's the nickname given to Matt Cain's 9-0 mowing down of the Texas Rangers in Game 2 of the 2010 World Series.  I heard this on the radio today from a caller, and it seemed somebody also has a Facebook page by that name commemorating the event.  Not only is this true - I checked it out myself - but there's a t-shirt and a poster to go along.  And the original sign was made up the day before the event and brought to game 2.  Now that's cool.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Six Year Old Knows His Stuff

Our six year old son is a nuclear powered baseball nut.  Mrs. Scott and I are fans, but we decided before having kids that we wouldn't force sports (i.e. baseball...i.e. the Giants) on our kids.  But, one day when he was 18 months old, a Giants game was on TV, and he became instantly engulfed.  He learns all the players, collects cards, pastes newspaper clippings all over his room.  On and on it goes.  He's been playing pee-wee ball since he was four and even tried out while he was still three.

Two pee-wee teams he has played for have been the Red Sox and Cardinals.  So, on top of being a Giants fan, he's taken some interest in whatever pee-wee team he's on.  He just got drafted this winter on to the A's.  Anyway, when with the Cardinals, he was handed uniform #5, which is Albert Pujols.

Today, there was a spring training game on TV between the visiting Cards and the home Sox.  He knows all the channel numbers, too, so I walked into the room with the telecast already on.  As they gave the starting lineups, he noted all the players he knew from just having an interest in those teams.  As the last infield warmup throw went to first base, the camera zoomed in on the Red Sox first baseman as he tossed the warmup ball to the dugout.  He asked, "Dad, didn't that guy play for the Padres last year?"  Simply amazing.

Division Alignment Problems

I'm no fan of the current division alignment in major league baseball.  Each league has a different number of teams, and there are three sizes of divisions.  When MLB went to the current three-division alignment in 1994, each league had 14 teams arranged in divisions, one with four teams and two with five.  With the 1998 expansion, each league added a team and the Brewers moved from the AL to the NL.  The AL now has 14 teams and the NL 16.  The AL has division sizes of 4, 5 and 5, while the NL has sizes of 5, 6 and 5.

This poses a bit of a problem for the post season picture.  It is easier to win a division with fewer teams in that division, in terms of straight odds.  And it is also easier to finish second in that division and have a shot at the wildcard.  Now for some geeky math.  The odds of a team winning its division are 1/x, where x is the number of teams in that division.  That's obvious.  But the odds of finishing in second place is also 1/x.  Since there are three divisions, the odds of making the playoffs by finishing second (wildcard) are 1/3 of 1/x, or 1/3x.  The odds of a team making the playoffs are the odds of winning the division plus the odds of winning the wildcard.  So, that would equal 1/x + 1/3x, or 3/3x + 1/3x = 4/3x, with x being the number of teams in that division.  For teams in a four-team division, the odds are 4/3(4) = 1/3, or 0.333.  For teams in a five-team division they are 4/3(5) = 4/15, or 0.267.  For teams in a six-team division they are 4/3(6) = 4/18, or 2/9, or 0.222.

Making the playoffs gives each team (roughly) the same odds of winning the World Series.  So, for teams in a four-team division, the simple random odds of winning the WS are 50% greater than those teams in a six-team division.  Is this what baseball wants?  I think it better to balance the number of teams in each division, even if it means screwing up interleague play, than to create artificial favorites.

Friday, March 11, 2011

No Beer In The Bleachers

I was just reminded of something by a slip of the tongue.  Somebody on TV made reference to the bleachers at Dodger Stadium.  Then, I recalled that my entire life has been lived without beer being sold in the bleachers in Dodger Stadium.  Bleachers?  Well, Excuuuuse me!  La-ti-da!  There are no bleachers in Dodger Stadium.  That section behind the outfield fence is called the Pavilion.  No beer in the Pavilion.  I took a picture of such a sign once.  I should try to find it.

It goes without saying that of all the times I've been to Dodger Stadium, I've never sat in the "Pavilion."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Baseball Detectives

Douglas Dinsmoor at his Open Stance blog writes a piece about being a baseball detective.  It seems a movie was filmed in Boston with a Red Sox game figuring into the equation.  Using all sorts of clues from the movie, a reader was able to pinpoint which Red Sox game was being filmed, the inning, who was on base, etc.  Douglas applied that to his foul ball and home run baseball collection.  He pieces info together from the ball, his memory, ticket stubs and so forth to figure out which game he snagged a particular ball.

I've done the same thing, and it's really fun.  I just remembered as I started typing this that I used to tag each ball - including batting practice balls - with a piece of masking tape that had all the info on it.  Date, inning, who hit it, all of that.  I kept them all in a big box.  Over the years, the masking tape lost its stickiness, and many of the tape pieces fell off.  So I've had to do some pretty detailed detective work to get the proper labels back to their rightful owners.  Some of the clues are whether it's an AL ball, NL ball or the newer MLB balls.  Who's signature appears on the ball and when was he the league president?  Was umpire's mud rubbed into the ball?  This may help distinguish the ball as a game ball or batting practice ball.

Dinsmoor's is the first baseball blog I ever read and his was an inspiration, both in layout and content.  We have quite a lot in common, baseball wise, and some things not.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Hat

It was my birthday this week, and my oldest son got me a new Giants hat.  The Sunday hat with the orange bill.  I haven't had one of those since 1982 when they had a similar hat.  That one was a cheap hat for a promotional hat day, and it wasn't constructed very well.  But this one is the official hat.  Thanks, son!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Baseball Is On The Radio!

It's that time of year again!  The first radio broadcast of a spring training game.  The familiar voice of the long time announcers are music to the ears.  I'm glad that this will last all the way through October.  Sonic therapy.

Cliff Lee #31

Cliff Lee is #31.  No, not his uniform number.  He is ranked as the 31st best baseball player right now according to the MLB Network's show about the 100 best players right now.  It's interesting that with all the Cliff Lee hype during the post-season and off-season that he wouldn't have been ranked in the top 10 or top 5.  The rankings were done by several panels of experts, so the list went through many hands.  I guess the consensus of people in the know is a bit different than the consensus of what the media portrays.

During all the free agent hype, I wanted to ask some of the media types if there were any rumors around that had the Giants jumping into the Lee circus to sign him as their #5 starter.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Yellow A's Uniforms

The Oakland A's will be adding a twist of lemon, so to speak, to their look in 2011.  One of their alternate jerseys is yellow with green piping.  Click here to view it.  This is a slightly different take on their Sunday uniforms of the early 80's with the green piping on a white jersey (the jersey I'm talking about is the second from the left on the 1981 and '82 plates and the lead uni on the '83).  I heard about the new yellow threads, but hadn't checked them out until now.  I'm actually a bit more excited about them once I saw them.  I was anticipating more of a lemony type of yellow, one that looked closer to their tops from that earlier era.  Marketing plays into this decision, I'm sure.  So, shine Athletics.  Color seems to be back a bit more in baseball lately.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pitchers and Catchers Report

Okay, it's old news by now, but that's what I blog about when I get busy.  For the other 29 teams, pitchers and catchers reported this last week.  Not for my team.  No.  World Series Champion pitchers and catchers reported.  A huge banner reminding them of this was hung in Scottsdale, AZ.  Of course, this means beards, shoe polish, peach fuzz 'staches and pony tails.  Go Giants!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Grabbing Some Pine

Back in the late 80's, the left field bleachers at the Oakland Coliseum were old school.  Wooden benches with something resembling seat numbers stamped into them.  Bench edges and corners were worn.  Those benches were installed in the late 60's after all.  The lower half of the bleacher sections not next to the foul poles were portable and rectangular.  The bleachers formed the curve of the outfield fence, meaning that the sections could come together in a straight line across the outfield parallel to a football sideline.

The benches were for the most part made of hard wood.  No duh, but at that time, there were no alternatives like aluminum, or form-fitted plastic molded seat bottoms arranged in benches.  None of that.  Just wood.  Wood that split, wood that cracked, wood that, well, did whatever wood did.  One piece of wood out there, wood that formed our front row bleacher bench, had a knot in it.  And the wood around that knot deteriorated over time, causing a large split in the bench.  Soon, fans with pens and other objects started digging and gouging around that knot, making a small dent each homestand.  One day, the digging broke daylight through to the bottom of the bench.  And it continued over time so that not much was left holding that bench together.  Maybe the knot was the glue that kept the bench intact.

One fateful day, the Royals were in town, and we were there during batting practice.  Bo Jackson hit a big fly that eluded the faithful shaggers, and lo and behold, the ball hit that knot in the bench square...or as square as a falling fly can be square.  In the same action as the ball hitting the knot, the knot popped through and the piece of wood that was hanging by a single strand of wood fell to the bleacher floor.  It was about six inches wide by about 24 inches long.  Nevermind the Bo Jackson souvenir, I pounced upon the fragment of booty support I came to love all those years.  Yes, a hunk of wood was as good a souvenir as any ball.  The underside was kind of gross, and some kid I'm guessing was the one who stashed his wad of gum underneath it as if he were avoiding the wrath of ruler bearing school teachers.  I really need to post a photo of this hunk of history.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Foul Weather Fan

I am a self-described foul weather fan.  Not a fair weather fan, mind you, but a foul weather one.  I'm as much a fan of winning a World Series as anybody else, and I wouldn't trade this one for anything else in baseball.  But there's a big cost of being a fan of a winning team.  Take the recent trophy tour.  The Giants WS trophy was taken on a city to city tour.  Thousands of fans waited in line for hours just to get a glimpse of the trophy.  FanFest yesterday saw tens of thousands in attendance, and the line from the ballpark extended down The Embarcadero all the way to the Bay Bridge - just to get in.  I'll have to wait for the dust to settle and view the hardware sometime during next season when it's (hopefully) on display somewhere within the stadium.

When your team stinks, and attendance is almost lacking altogether, there's an ease to baseball.  Show up anytime and get a box seat close to the field.  The concession lines are very short, as are the restroom lines, if there are any at all.  You almost get your own personal vendor in the stands.  Arriving and leaving is easy, and foul balls (and fair!) rattle around in empty sections of the ballpark, ripe for picking.  Since the crowds are so small, you can yell loudly and heckle players and everybody can hear you.  I remember once sitting in the left field bleachers and yelling at a beer vendor behind the first base dugout.  He heard me and came all the way out to the bleachers to sell to me.  Autographs are easier to get, and souvenir stands never run out of anything.  The fans that are there are more likely to be knowledgeable about baseball and less likely to ask, "Who's number 48?"

Yes, winning it all in 2010 will result in paying for it in 2011 and beyond.  But it's a trade off that needs to be done.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It's Almost February

February means pitchers and catchers reporting.  It's a short winter when you win the World Series.  So I'm not itching to get the 2011 season going.  I'm fine to remember over and over what the Giants did last year.  The title of "reigning world champs" can be allowed to hold still for a longer period of time for all I'm concerned.  Still, time will march on.  Before we know it, it will be 20 years from now and I will look back on now as something grand.

Twenty years ago I used to wonder what it would be like 20 years from then.  Now I know, but, what will it be like 20 years from now knowing the Giants won 20 years ago?  I hope there are many more trophies between now and then.  A dynasty would be most welcome.  It's about time for one.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Welcome To The New From the Bleachers Site

Welcome to the new From the Bleachers blog.  I have created a new site with a new address.  Actually, it's the same old blog, with the same old posts and comments and categories, but at a new address.  The old address is  A blogspot address I always wanted - fromthebleachers - which mirrored the title of this blog, had been taken for years, but has recently become available.  So I snatched it and updated the format of the blog to bring it up to current technology.  The new address is

I can now do more things and have more power over how I organize and how I link to things.  I hope you enjoy the new format with the photo background.  The background is a photo I had personally taken at a Giants game at AT&T Park.  The blog design editor allows me to "tile" the photo.  I cropped it in such a way as to minimize the obviousness of the tile seams, so it looks kind of like one huge, infinitely extending crowd shot.  I'm not done with the design of the blog page, and hope to add a small number of visual upgrades as time goes on.

I look forward to posting at this new address and hope you enjoy reading it.  Feel free to comment any time.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

All 30 Major League Teams Totally Stink

All thirty teams in baseball are completely lame.  Why do I say that?  Well, when I take the opinions of the fans of those teams into account, that is simply an easy conclusion.  Starting with the obvious cases, the Pirates were going to the World Series, and one pitch to a nobody named Francisco Cabrera took the Series away from them, Barry Bonds became a free agent, and the team plunged immediately into a record 18 consecutive losing season streak.  The Nationals suck, too.

Now, there are some other teams that are obvious, but then there are the teams that actually had some promise.  The Mariners come to mind.  Division contenders flailed, losing over 100 games.  The Tigers had the greatest team to do nothing at all.  The Mets have the worst payroll-to-performance ratio in baseball.  The Brew Crew were supposed to make the playoffs.  Supposed to.  The Angels vaporized.  The mighty Red Sox limped to a third place finish.  The Padres, arguably the best team in baseball for 137 games, lost ten in a row and collapsed under the feet of the team they owned all year long.  They even took two of three in the last series and still lost to the Giants.

Even the playoff teams were lousy.  The Twinks folded under pressure of a Bronx curse.  The Reds' bats never left Louisville.  The Yankees had the greatest lineup in history, but their pitching was a lead balloon.  CC and Mariano were awesome bookends to a lousy pitching library, and they got spanked by Ranger bats.  During the NLCS I surfed many a Phillie Phan blog.  It was amazing to learn just how awful the Phillies were.  Jimmy Rollins was AWOL, Utley was a mere shadow of his former MVP self.  Howard had a hole in his bat, and the offense was anemic.  How such a pathetic group of clowns managed to compile the best record in baseball on their way to what was hoped to be their third consecutive World Series is hard to imagine.  And dammit, why did they not sign Cliff Lee again earlier?

Then there's the Giants, stuck in their wet paper bag.  No offense whatsoever, and what little there was was led by the slowest catcher in history.  The richest pitcher in history was not even on the playoff roster, and the five slot in the rotation was a question all year.  They couldn't hit against anybody, and their 56 year drought was going to be 57 real quick.  The GM's of each of these teams are morons and idiots.  So are their field managers.  It was amazing to see any of these teams win anything at all.  They were all lame according to their own fans.  But what a year they gave us.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Top Fan Moments in History

I enjoy the MLB Network.  One of their "top" lists is a show about the top fan moments in history.  I love baseball fans and how they fit into the fabric of a game and into the mosaic of history.  When I'm at a game, I pay special attention to fans.  I'm a people watcher.

As a participatory fan, I love to see how other fans and fans in general contribute to baseball.  One of the things I think is most lacking about how baseball is viewed throughout history is the lack of attention paid to fans.  We always hear about great players and the Hall of Fame.  We hear about great managers, great ballparks, great seasons and pennant races, great personal achievements.  And yes, we hear about fans, but only sometimes.  We hear about how nasty Yankees fans can be and about how early Dodger fans can leave a game.  How knowledgeable Cardinals or Red Sox fans are, or how few Expos fans there are.  Or were.  But overall, there is relatively little said about fans as compared with other aspects of baseball.

And this is why I really enjoyed a MLB Network countdown on the top fan moments in baseball history.  There were some really great ones.  Tiger fans pelting Ducky Medwick with fruit, vegetables and bottles in game 7 of the 1934 World Series after Medwick slid hard into 3rd base.  Steve Bartman and Jeffrey Maier were also featured.  Chris Chambliss' pennant winning home run through the mob on the field.  Nickel beer night in Cleveland where the drunken fans went wild, storming the field and causing a near riot, forfeiting the game for the Tribe.  A female fan goes nuts after Ichiro reached into the stands for a ball and touched her.  Reading her lips, it was easy to tell that she called her mom from her cell phone to tell her all about it.  Or the fan in Houston that ducked out of the way of a foul ball at the last second, only to have the ball clock his girlfriend.  And of course, the two guys that ran out on the field to congratulate Hank Aaron on his 715th home run during his home run trot.  There was a great video clip of a ten year old kid who made a spectacular catch of a foul ball, only to catch a second one a few pitches later in the same at bat.

But the fan moment that took the cake as the most memorable of all time was the Bill Veeck stunt gone bad: Disco Demolition night in Chicago's Comiskey Park.  Fans got in for a discount if they brought a disco record to be blown up between the games of a double header.  Chicago rock radio DJ Steve Dahl was there to officiate the destruction.  A box of the records was exploded, and rock music fans went wild, storming the field and completely destroying it.  You could see fans from the upper deck slide down the foul poles to the field.  The White Sox had to forfeit the second game of the double header.  Yeah, gotta love the fans.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2010 Season In Review

Wow, what a year.  For me, it started out not being able to buy season tickets for the first time in 26 years due to the economy.  So, I picked the Giants to win the World Series since I wouldn't be there to see it.  And it happened.

Spring training started with the realization that the Giants had little prospect for improving upon their 2009 total of 88 wins.  Although 88 wins could be figured as overachieving, they finished in 3rd place behind a surging Rockies team, and were the only team of the 8 holding a playoff position at the All-Star break not to hold on.  One thing was clear, though.  The Giants had one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball, and the 88 wins without any semblance of an offense proved it.

They started off very strong in the first couple of weeks, as did the A's.  But they faded as time went on, and it was clear that the Padres were a team to be reckoned with, especially with the way they were pitching.  Slowly, the Giants added bats.  First, Buster Posey was brought up from the minors.  Bengie Molina was their cleanup hitter, and Posey took that spot after Molina's trade to their eventual World Series opponent Rangers.  Pat Burrell and Cody Ross were instrumental additions in the team's stretch run.  The pitching staff caught fire in August - racking up numbers not seen in baseball since the 1965 Dodgers.  I was convinced they easily had the pitching staff to win it all, but I was not convinced at all that the Giants would win anything.  The Giants never won anything, and it was not in their nature to ever do so.

The pennant race with the Padres was simply an amazing thing to watch.  "Torture" as we would come to know it was already coursing through our veins, we just didn't have a word for it.  Of course, that last 3-game series had the Giants dropping the first two - and losing a great number of games during the year to San Diego - and winning the West in game 162 was Torture at it's that point.

Of the 32 post-season games played in 2010 between all 8 playoff teams, seven were one-run games.  The Giants played every single one of those seven games, and were 6-1.  Now that's Torture.  All four Braves games, three of the six Phillies games, and not one of the Ranger games.  The Giants simply dominated the post-season, going 11-4.  Brian Wilson was on the mound for all four clincher games - game 162 vs. the Padres, game 4 vs. the Braves, game 6 vs. the Phillies and game 5 vs. the Rangers.  Three of those series ended in strikeouts.  Ryan Howard standing motionless trying to argue with the umpire whilst the Giants dogpiled in the center of the diamond is an image of contrasts I'll never forget.  Swing, Ryan, swing!  Tim Lincecum won game 1's of the NLDS, NLCS, WS and the WS clincher.  Matt Cain had a 0.00 ERA in 3 starts, and Brian Wilson was lights out.  The Texas Rangers, who had the best offense in baseball, were shutout once at home all year.  The Giants shut them out twice, and came one pitch from doing it a third time.  The Rangers totalled one run and six hits in the last two games, and only one Texas player even as much as touched third base.  AL MVP Josh Hamilton was a deer in the headlights and Vladimir Guererro swung not like a madman, but like a little leaguer.  Nelson Cruz whiffed and Cliff Lee was spanked.

Madison Bumgarner, Johnathan Sanchez, Juan Uribe, Buster Posey, Edgar Renteria, Javier Lopez, Aubrey Huff.  Kruk, Kuip, Miller and Flem.  Dave Flemming's cracked voice.  Enough names to remember forever.  I hope I didn't forget anybody.  Bruce Bochy, and the million man march down Market Street.  "Swing and a miss.  And that's it!"  What a season.  The replays are great and will be forever.

Sunday, January 2, 2011