Tagged: Chicago Cubs

MLB, NPB agree to new free agent posting system

MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball have agreed in principle to a new posting system, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. As Sherman notes, the final step prior to approval is for MLB’s executive council to sign off on the deal, which is expected to happen soon.

As for the details, it’s likely as expected: The NPB team posting a free agent will reportedly be able to name a posting fee up to $20 million. At that point, all interested teams will agree to the posting fee, and the free agent in question will then be allowed to negotiate with the teams that have consented to the specific fee. However, only the team that signs the free agent will owe the posting fee to the player’s former NBP club.

This new system is a win for MLB, as the old format permitted posting fees much higher than $20 million — Yu Darvish’s $51.7-million tab and Daisuke Matsuzaka’s $52.1-million fee, for notable instance (ugh..!).

All of this means we’ll probably soon have some clarity regarding the status of coveted Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who’s generally regarded as the top potential free agent pitcher on the market. Tanaka’s current team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, have in the recent past hinted that they may consider not posting their star under the new rules, but that stance seems to have softened this week. The general feeling is that if Tanaka wishes to make the jump, then he’ll be allowed to do so.

Masahiro Tanaka

On that front, it’s worth noting that Rukuten’s team president, according to Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan, is set to arrive at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday. The Yankees, Cubs, Mariners and Dodgers are among the teams believed to have strong interest in the 26-year-old Tanaka.

One would have to believe that under the new system, the idea of parity between MLB’s ‘Haves’ and ‘Have Nots’ will be at least, a little, improved.  Teams who otherwise would have sat back and watched due to the idea of paying over $50 million (in some cases a third of annual payroll for the ‘Have Nots’) for the right just to talk to the player may now be more inclined to take a chance and upset their division norm, whatever that norm may be.

If the Astros (it’s just an example, calm yourself) can take a leap and snag an import centerpiece to build upon, they can stand alongside the likes of The Dodgers, Bombers and Scarlett Hose… at least until they’re forced to trade that centerpiece for a bag of fungo bats, cash and some prospects.

Well, it has been a while….

The opportunity to see the Boston Red Sox win a World Series at home for the first time in a lifetime has turned Game 6 at Fenway Park into the most expensive local ticket in the city’s history.

As of 10 a.m. ET Tuesday, the average list price on the resale market for a ticket to Wednesday night’s game was $1,860, according to TiqIQ, a ticket tracking company.

Fenway in her WS glory 2013

Bleacher seats to the game, which could have been had for $300 last week, were selling for $1,100 on Tuesday morning.

On Monday night, someone who wanted two of the best seats in the house paid $24,000 on StubHub for a pair of tickets in the first row in a dugout box between home plate and one of the on-deck circles.

“There was this type of excitement in 2004 for the Red Sox home games because people thought it would never come again,” said Jim Holzman of Ace Ticket, a Boston-based brokerage that has been in business for 33 years.

The Red Sox went on to win the World Series in 2004 and again in 2007, ending it on the road both times. The last time the Red Sox won it all in Boston was with a victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 11, 1918.

Monstah Seats

“People want to see them win it here,” Holzman said. “That’s what has made this the biggest ticket we’ve ever seen. It’s the Super Bowl except people don’t have to pay $1,000 for a hotel and $2,000 for airfare.”

Holzman said fans began buying tickets in earnest Monday night after the Red Sox scored in the top of the first inning during their 3-1 Game 5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

“Prices were going up $50 an inning,” Holzman said.

 

Let’s take a look back some highlights of that infamous 1918 Series:

1918 Red Sox

The 1918 World Series featured the Boston Red Sox, who defeated the Chicago Cubs four games to two. The Series victory for the Red Sox was their fifth in five tries, going back to 1903. The Red Sox scored only nine runs in the entire Series; the fewest runs by the winning team in World Series history. Along with the 1906 and 1907 World Series, the 1918 World Series is one of only three Fall Classics where neither team hit a home run.

The Series was held early in September because of the World War I “Work or Fight” order that forced the premature end of the regular season on September 1, and remains the only World Series to be played entirely in September.

1918 Logo FenwayThe Chicago home games in the series were played at Comiskey Park, which had a greater seating capacity than Weeghman Park, the prior home of the Federal League Chicago Whales that the Cubs were now using and which would be rechristened Wrigley Field in 1925. The Red Sox had played their home games in the 1915 and 1916 World Series in the more expansive Braves Field, but they returned to Fenway Park for the 1918 series.

Game 1 of the 1918 World Series marked the first time “The Star Spangled Banner” was performed at a major league game. During the seventh inning stretch, the band began playing the song due to the fact the country was involved in World War I. The song would be named the national anthem of the United States in 1931, and during World War II its playing would become a regular pregame feature of baseball games and other sporting events. The winning pitcher of Game 1 was none other than Babe Ruth, who pitched a shutout.

Ruth warming up 1918

The Red Sox, who had won the American League but lost the Series in 1946, 1967, 1975, and 1986, finally won the World Series in 2004 and then won again in 2007.  The drought of 86 years was often attributed to the Curse of the Bambino. The alleged curse came to be when the Red Sox traded the superbly talented but troublesome Babe Ruth (who was instrumental in their 1918 victory) to the New York Yankees for cash after the 1919 season.

Game 6

Wednesday, September 11, 1918 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts

Attendance for Game 6 at Fenway on Wednesday, September 11, was down from over 24,000 on Tuesday to a mere 15,238, but the Red Sox went home happy. Max Flack’s third-inning error allowed two Sox runs to score, which were all they needed for a 2–1 victory and the World’s Championship of 1918 behind Carl Mays’ second win of the Series.

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chicago 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 2
Boston 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 X 2 5 0
WP: Carl Mays (2–0)   LP: Lefty Tyler (1–1)

After Game 6, it would be some 87 years until the Cubs and Red Sox would play again. A three-game interleague matchup at Wrigley Field began June 10, 2005 and was Boston’s first ever visit to the park. The Cubs would not return to Fenway Park for nearly 94 years until a three-game interleague matchup beginning May 20, 2011.

 

 

 

 

Believe it or not….

Yes, that really was Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio serving as a coach on the Oakland A’s bench. 

And for as many folks who either never realized it, or forgot, it was a duty that ‘Joltin’ Joe’, the ‘Yankee Clipper’, never performed in New York.

In 1967 Kansas City Athletics owner Charlie Finley hired the Hall of Famer as the team’s vice-president. DiMaggio would also serve as a coach for the newly transplanted Oakland Athletics.  DiMaggio needed two more years of baseball service to qualify for the league’s maximum pension allowance.

So, while there was a monetary reason (as there was usually was in Joe’s motivation) for Joe D.’s service to the relocating Bay Area A’s, he also stated a few times over his life that he wasn’t asked by the Yankees to take any type of official personnel position.

And if you didn’t know about Joe, than you may have not known or just forgotten about another Hall of Famer, forever linked to his single team, who was never asked to take an official personnel position… that’s right, Ted Williams.

When Ted retired from the game in 1960, many thought he was headed for a lifetime of fishing.  Williams helped new Red Sox left fielder Carl Yastrzemski in hitting and adapting to life as the left-field superstar in Boston.  Though he mostly (sometime’s to Carl’s frustration) talked and taught about hitting.  That was the case for a few years until new Washington Senators owner Bob Short came calling.

Short. who outbid a group headed by Bob Hope, then named himself general manager and wanted, no needed Ted to manage his struggling Senators.  Ted wasn’t interested.  Short tried again.  Teddy said no again.  Short brought in AL President and former Red Sox manager Joe Cronin for help.  Joe called Ted in Florida and told him, “baseball needs you.”  How could Ted say no to his former manager and a salary of $1.25 million over five years?

On April 7, 1969 Ted Williams managed his first game as the skipper of the Senators.  Although Williams had never coached or managed at any level of baseball, he seemed to light a spark under the once-moribund Senators. Williams kept them in contention for most of the season, finishing above .500 for the first time in franchise history; their 86–76 record  would be its only winning season in Washington.  As you would expect from the greatest hitter of all time, Ted’s immediate impact on the Senators came with the hitters.  In that first season the team’s batting average went up by 25 points. Attendance soared and he was chosen “Manager of the Year” after that season.  Unfortunately the following years did not go as well.  1970 brought pitching problems to Washington and the Senators were below .500 once again at 70 – 92.  Year three of Teddy’s regime was even worse with the club making bad trades and finishing the season with a record of 63 – 96.  The honeymoon was over and Bob Short wanted out of Washington.  He petitioned and won approval to move the team to Arlington, Texas.  Ted spent one year in Texas with the Rangers, hated it and resigned at the end of the 1972 season.

Like many great players, Williams became impatient with ordinary athletes’ abilities and attitudes, particularly those of pitchers, whom he admitted he never respected.

I find it interesting how Hall of Fame players can be treated or handled by their teams following their playing days.  Is it ego? Is it a control factor? Are irritable prima-donna’s on the field just as bad on the end of the bench? Or do God’s just not make good managers?  Sure, you want guys like Ted and Joe or Babe Ruth as spring training instructors, guest-roaming organizational coaches and so on… but take a look at Ryne Sandberg.  A Hall of Famer for the Cubs, he made it expressly clear his intention to manage in the majors… and manage the Cubs.  While accumulating great minor league numbers, credentials and championships, Chicago let him walk.  If anything, Ted’s tenure as Washington/Texas manager (like Wayne Gretky’s in Phoenix) goes to show that a manager’s HOF credentials aren’t always as important as the talent they have to direct on the field.

The Honored Numbers…

Going back to my post on ‘Retired Numbers’ I wanted to expand upon my thoughts a little further.  This is a short list of players and their uniform numbers who should, in my opinion (and maybe in a few of yours as well) be honored (not retired) by the Red Sox.  Yes, most are members of Red Sox Hall of Fame, but having something more publicly displayed (aside from the red and blue banners on the Right Field/3rd Base exterior) for people in the stands and folks in the viewing audience certainly couldn’t hurt.  After all, in such a historic venue as Fenway Park with such a history laden team as the Boston Americans not everything in view needs to be an advertisement. 

For players whose numbers are being honored, place their number in road uniform coordinated navy blue and gray as opposed to the retired number coordination of the home red and white.  Equally coordinated would be the player’s name, in road font, above the number but equally placed on the border of the gray circle.  Should be fairly simple, right?

For players who didn’t wear a number and are being honored, find an equally coordinated way to either place their name in the gray circle or maybe just place them on a higher section of the wall displaying the honored numbers (I recommend the right field bleachers).  They do something similar at Comerica Park in Detroit.

I know there will be at least one controversial pick….

 

James “Jimmie” Foxx, was the second major league player to hit 500 career home runs, after Babe Ruth. Attaining that plateau at age 32 years 336 days, he held the record for youngest to reach 500 for sixty-eight years, until superseded by Alex Rodriguez in 2007. His three career Most Valuable Player awards are tied for second all-time. ‘Double X’ played six years for Boston, including a spectacular 1938 season in which he hit 50 home runs, drove in 175 runs, batted .349, won his third MVP award, and again narrowly missed winning the Triple Crown. Foxx is one of nine players to have won three MVPs; only Barry Bonds (7) has more. On June 16, 1938, he set an American League record when he walked six times in a game. In 1939 he hit .360, his second-best all-time season batting average. His 50 home runs would remain the single-season record for the Red Sox until David Ortiz hit 54 in 2006. Jersey #3

 

 Nomar Garciaparra is a six-time All-Star (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006).  Garciaparra was originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 5th round of the 1991 draft, but did not sign.  Garciaparra was a first round pick of the Red Sox in 1994 following a successful career at Georgia Tech. He played in the Red Sox minor league system for three years (1994–Sarasota, 1995–Trenton, 1996–Pawtucket).  He made his Major League debut on August 31, 1996, as a defensive replacement against Oakland. His first Major League hit was a home run off of Oakland pitcher John Wasdin on September 1. Nomar would then ultimately take Wasdin deep a record thirteen times over his career. Garciaparra is known for his idiosyncratic tics when batting. This habit includes an elaborate routine of glove adjustments and alternating toe taps on the ground prior to an ensuing pitch.  At the time, Boston’s starting shortstop was John Valentin, who finished ninth in MVP voting in 1995. By late 1996, Nomar won the job. Garciaparra’s talent was enough to displace Valentin, who was moved to second base (then third base) to make room for young Garciaparra, who batted .241 with 4 home runs, 16 RBI, and 5 stolen bases in his initial stint with the club near the end of 1996. As a rookie in 1997, he hit 30 home runs and drove in 98 runs, setting a new MLB record for RBIs by a leadoff hitter and most homers by a rookie shortstop.  His 30-game hitting streak set an A.L. rookie record.  He was named Rookie of the Year in a unanimous vote, competed in the Home Run Derby, and finished eighth in MVP voting.  He also won the immediate admiration of Red Sox fans, who referred to him in Boston accents as “NO-mah!”. His popularity in New England was reflected in the Saturday Night Live “The Boston Teens” sketches, where Jimmy Fallon’s character Pat Sullivan always wore a Garciaparra T-shirt and would repeatedly reference his admiration for him. Garciaparra even appeared in one of the sketches, where he was introduced as the boyfriend of Sully’s sister (played by guest host Kate Hudson).  He finished with 35 home runs and 122 RBI in 1998, and placed as the runner-up for AL MVP. Garciaparra then led the American League in batting average for the next two years, hitting .357 in 1999 and .372 in 2000, finishing in the top ten in MVP voting both years. He is one of the few right-handed batters to win consecutive batting titles, and the first since Joe DiMaggio. He hit safely and scored a run in the first five games of his post-season career (1998–99), and is joined by Ian Kinsler (2010) as the only other player to start his post-season career in that manner.

In February of 2001, Garciaparra appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, with the headline “A Cut Above… baseball’s toughest out”. The week after the issue hit newsstands, Garciaparra suffered a broken right wrist that would ruin his season and alter the trajectory of his career. He recovered by the start of the 2002 season and drove in 120 runs while hitting a league-leading 56 doubles. However, he had a difficult time playing as strongly defensively as before, and his batting average dipped substantially, though it was still an excellent .310.  Before the 2002 season, a new ownership group purchased the Red Sox. The baseball operations staff, led by Theo Epstein, stressed on-base percentage on offense and strong defense, two areas where Garciaparra was about to decline precipitously from his pre-2001 levels. Still, Garciaparra recovered from an injury-filled 2001 season to bat .310 with 24 home runs and 120 RBIs in 2002. The star shortstop was up for a contract extension following the 2004 season and hoped for a deal before that deadline. Still considered one of the best shortstops in baseball, he hoped to receive salaries similar to peers Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.  In 2003, Garciaparra had a good season in which he was second in the majors in triples, fifth in the AL in hits, and second in the AL in runs scored. Unfortunately, a September slump caused his batting average to dip, but it still ended at a very good .301. He followed that with a poor post-season, contributing zero home runs, one RBI and ten strikeouts in 12 games against the Oakland Athletics and rival Yankees, who eliminated the Red Sox in a thrilling seven-game series.  Meanwhile, new stars and cult heroes, led by David Ortiz and Kevin Millar, began to emerge in Boston. Millar convinced nearly every player on the roster other than Johnny Damon and Garciaparra (whose wedding with Mia Hamm followed the season) to shave his head.

After the 2003 season, Red Sox management explored trading Manny Ramírez to the Texas Rangers for shortstop Alex Rodriguez.   However, the MLB Players’ Union objected to Rodriguez’s willingness to sacrifice a huge amount of his $250 million contract to facilitate a deal to Boston, and the New York Yankees then struck a deal with Texas to bring A-Rod (who gave up $14 million with union approval) to their team. The Red Sox then had covert trade talks involving Nomar with the Chicago White Sox, but the subsequent agreement to trade Garciapara and others for a package centered around Magglio Ordóñez quickly became public. Garciaparra thus returned to Boston for the start of the 2004 season in the final year of a contract signed in 1997, and it quickly became clear that he was enraged with the team and would not return to Boston after the season. On July 31, 2004 (the MLB trading deadline), Garciaparra was the key player involved in a four-team deal that sent Nomar and Matt Murton to the wild card leading Chicago Cubs. The Red Sox received Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz. Nomar expressed his appreciation to Red Sox fans in a speech to the media, and left for the Windy City. At first, Garciaparra was assigned jersey number 8, because Cub catcher Michael Barrett wore number 5.  A few days later, they switched numbers.  On March 10, 2010, Garciaparra signed a one-day contract with the Boston Red Sox to retire as a member of the organization.  On May 5, 2010, The Red Sox hosted “Nomar Garciaparra Night”, honoring Nomar before a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He was given two official seats from Fenway by Johnny Pesky, one bearing Nomar’s own #5, and the other bearing Pesky’s #6.

 

Dominic DiMaggio, nicknamed “The Little Professor”, played his entire 11-year baseball career for the Boston Red Sox (1940–1953). He was the youngest of three brothers who each became major league center fielders, the others being Joe and Vince.  An effective leadoff hitter, he batted .300 four times and led the American League in runs twice and in triples and stolen bases once each. He also led the AL in assists three times and in putouts and double plays twice each; he tied a league record by recording 400 putouts four times, and his 1948 totals of 503 putouts and 526 total chances stood as AL records for nearly thirty years. His 1338 games in center field ranked eighth in AL history when he retired. His 34-game hitting streak in 1949 remains a Boston club record.  7× All-Star selection (1941, 1942, 1946, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952)  Jersey #7

 

Roger Clemens nicknamed “Rocket”, broke into the league with the Boston Red Sox whose pitching staff he would help anchor for 12 years. Clemens was drafted 19th overall by the Boston Red Sox in 1983 and quickly rose through the minor league system, making his major league debut on May 15, 1984. In 1986, his 24 wins helped guide the Sox to a World Series berth and earned Clemens the American League MVP award for the regular season. He also won the first of his seven Cy Young Awards. Hall of Fame slugger Hank Aaron angered the pitcher by saying that pitchers should not be eligible for the MVP. “I wish he were still playing,” Clemens responded. “I’d probably crack his head open to show him how valuable I was.” Clemens remains the only starting pitcher since Vida Blue in 1971 to win a league MVP award. On April 29, 1986, Clemens became the first pitcher in history to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning major league game, against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park. Only Kerry Wood and Randy Johnson have matched the total. Clemens attributes his switch from what he calls a “thrower” to a “pitcher” to the partial season Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver spent with the Red Sox in 1986. Clemens accomplished the 20-strikeout feat twice, the only player ever to do so. The second performance came more than 10 years later, on September 18, 1996 against the Detroit Tigers at Tiger Stadium. Clemens’ second 20-K day occurred in his third-to-last regular season game as a member of the Boston Red Sox. Clemens recorded 192 wins for the Red Sox, tied with Cy Young for the franchise record.

No Red Sox player has worn his #21 since Clemens left the team in 1996.

 

Luis Tiant.  The Braves signed him to a minor league contract to play with their Triple-A Richmond, where he pitched well, and was acquired by the Louisville Colonels, a farm team of the Boston Red Sox.  He was quickly called back up to the majors, and despite struggling through 1971 with a 1-7 record and 4.88 ERA, he would soon become one of the greatest and most beloved pitchers in Red Sox history and a great idol in Boston.  Starting to be known as El Tiante at Fenway Park, in 1972 Tiant regained his old form with a 15-6 record and led the league with a 1.91 ERA. He would win 20 games in 1973 and 22 in 1974.  Though hampered by back problems in 1975, he won 18 games for the American League Champion Red Sox and then excelled for Boston in the postseason. In the playoffs he defeated the three-time defending World Champion Oakland Athletics in a 7-1 three-hitter complete game, then opened the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. His father and mother, having been allowed to visit from Cuba under a special visa, were in Fenway Park that game to watch their son defeat The Big Red Machine in a 6-0 five-hit shutout. All six Red Sox runs were scored in the seventh inning; Tiant led off that inning (the designated hitter was not yet in use in World Series play) with a base hit off Don Gullett and eventually scored on Carl Yastrzemski’s single for the first of those six runs.  Tiant won Game 4 as well (throwing 163 pitches in his second complete game in the series) and had a no-decision in Game 6, which has been called the greatest game ever played, after Carlton Fisk’s dramatic game-winning walk-off home run in the 12th inning.  Tiant went 21-12 in 1976, 12-8 in 1977, and 13-8 in 1978.   Tiant is only 1 of 5 pitchers to have pitched four or more straight shutouts in the 50-year expansion era, with Don Drysdale (six, 1968), Bob Gibson (five, 1968), Orel Hershiser (five, 1988) and Gaylord Perry (four, 1970) being the others.  He was inducted to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1997.  Jersey # 23

 

Dwight Evans nicknamed “Dewey”, started his career by winning International League MVP honors, but in his early major league career, he was primarily a defensive standout with a modest bat. In the second half of his career, he became a powerful batter.  Evans made his Major League Baseball debut for the Boston Red Sox on September 16, 1972 in a game against the Cleveland Indians.  The Red Sox won 10-0 behind the pitching of Luis Tiant who threw a 3-hit complete game. Evans pinch ran for Reggie Smith in the 6th but was stranded at 2B, he played in right field where he recorded 1 PO. Evans went 0-1 at the plate in his debut. Evans played in 18 games in 1972 for the Red Sox, and had 57 plate appearances (.263 BA, 15 H, 2 R, 6 RBI, 1 HR).  Despite the strike-shortened 1981 season, Evans had his best all-around year. He paced the league in total bases (215), OPS (.937), walks (85), times on base (208), and tied Eddie Murray, Tony Armas and Bobby Grich for the home run title with 22.  He also ranked second in runs scored (84) and on-base percentage (.415), and third in slugging percentage (.522). He added a .296 batting average with 71 runs batted in. In 1987, at age 35, Evans recorded career highs in batting average (.305), HRs (34) and RBI (123). 

Evans was named an Outfielder on The Sporting News AL All-Star team in 1982, 1984 and 1987 and was also tabbed as an Outfielder on the AL Silver Slugger Team by The Sporting News in 1981 and 1987. Evans would win the Gold Glove award in 1976, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, and 1985.  In his 20-year career, Evans batted .272, with 385 home runs, 1384 RBI, 1470 runs, 2446 hits, 483 doubles, 73 triples, and 78 stolen bases in 2606 games. Only Carl Yastrzemski (3308) played more games for the Red Sox than Evans (2505).  From 1980 through 1989, Evans hit more home runs (256) than any other player in the American League. He also led the A.L. in extra base hits over the same period of time. He is the only player to hit 20 or more home runs during every season of the 80’s (1980–1989).  Evans hit a home run four times on Opening Day. On April 7, 1986, he set a major league record by hitting the first pitch of the season for a home run, eclipsing the mark held by the Chicago Cubs’ Bump Wills, who hit the second pitch for a home run on April 4, 1982.  He spent his final season with the Orioles, batting .270 with six homers and drove in 38 runs in 101 games.  In 2000, Dwight Evans was selected to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame.

Originally Evans was assigned the uniform number 40 but quietly he wanted to wear number 24, the number of his idol Willie Mays. In 1973 Sox gave him number 24, the number he wore for the rest of his career in Boston and one year with Baltimore. Other Red Sox players to wear the same jersey number since Evans retired include Kevin Mitchell, Mike Stanley, Manny Ramírez, and Takashi Saito.

 

Wade Boggs hitting in the 1980s and 1990s made him a perennial contender for American League batting titles. Boggs was elected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005. With 12 straight All-Star appearances, Boggs is third only to Brooks Robinson and George Brett in number of consecutive appearances as a third baseman. His finest season was 1987, when he set career highs in home runs (24), RBI (89), and slugging percentage (.588). He also batted .363 and had a .461 on-base percentage that year, leading the league in both statistics. In 1999, he ranked number 95 on the Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.  A left-handed hitter, Boggs won five batting titles starting in 1983. He also batted .349 in his rookie year which would have won the batting title, but was 121 plate appearances short of the required minimum of 502. From 1982 to 1988, Boggs hit below .349 only once, hitting .325 in 1984. From 1983 to 1989, Boggs rattled off seven consecutive seasons in which he collected 200 or more hits, an American League record for consecutive 200-hit seasons that was later matched and surpassed by Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki. Boggs also had six seasons with 200 or more hits, 100+ runs and 40+ doubles. Although he would not win another batting title after 1988 (his batting title that year broke Bill Madlock’s Major League record of four by a third baseman), he regularly appeared among the league leaders in hitting.

In 1986, Boggs made it to the World Series with the Red Sox, but they lost to the New York Mets in seven games. The photo of him fighting back tears, taken by George Kalinsky, photographer for the Mets, emblemized the emotions of many Red Sox fans after their team’s loss at Shea Stadium.  Jersey # 26

 

George Herman Ruth, Jr., best known as “Babe” Ruth and nicknamed “the Bambino” and “the Sultan of Swat“,  originally broke into the major leagues with the Boston Red Sox as a starting pitcher, but after he was sold to the New York Yankees in 1919, he converted to a full-time right fielder and subsequently became one of the league’s most prolific hitters.  After a short stint with the Boston Braves in 1935, Ruth retired. In 1936, Ruth became one of the first five players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

Ruth appeared in five games for the Red Sox in 1914, pitching in four of them. He picked up the victory in his major league debut on July 11.  The Red Sox had many star players in 1914, so Ruth was soon optioned to the minor league Providence Grays of Providence, Rhode Island for most of the remaining season. Behind Ruth and Carl Mays, the Grays won the International League pennant.  During spring training in 1915, Ruth secured a spot in the Red Sox starting rotation.  He joined a pitching staff that included Rube Foster, Dutch Leonard, and Smokey Joe Wood. Ruth won 18 games, lost eight, and helped himself by hitting .315.  He also hit his first four home runs.  The Red Sox won 101 games that year on their way to a victory in the World Series. Ruth did not pitch in the series, and grounded out in his only at-bat.  In 1916, after a slightly shaky spring, he went 23–12, with a 1.75 ERA and nine shutouts, both of which led the league. On June 27, he struck out ten Philadelphia A’s, a career high. On July 11, he started both games of a doubleheader, but the feat was not what it seemed; he only pitched one-third of an inning in the opener because the scheduled starter, Foster, had trouble getting loose. Ruth then pitched a complete-game victory in the nightcap. Ruth had unusual success against Washington Senators star pitcher Walter Johnson, beating him four times in 1916 alone, by scores of 5–1, 1–0, 1–0 in 13 innings, and 2–1. Johnson finally outlasted Ruth for an extra-inning 4–3 victory on September 12; in the years to come, Ruth would hit ten home runs off Johnson, including the only two Johnson would allow in 1918–1919. Ruth’s nine shutouts in 1916 set an AL record for left-handers which would remain unmatched until Ron Guidry tied it in 1978.  Despite a weak offense, hurt by the sale of Tris Speaker to the Indians, the Red Sox made it to the World Series. They defeated the Brooklyn Robins four games to one. This time Ruth made a major contribution, pitching a 14-inning complete-game victory in Game Two.

 Ruth went 24–13 with a 2.01 ERA and six shutouts in 1917, and hit .325, but the Sox finished second, nine games behind the Chicago White Sox. On June 23 against the Washington Senators, after walking the leadoff hitter, Ruth erupted in anger, was ejected, and threw a punch at the umpire, which would result in a ten-game suspension. Ernie Shore came into the game in relief, the baserunner was out stealing, and Shore retired all twenty-six batters he faced, for which he was credited with a perfect game until the 1990s. Ruth’s outburst was an example of self-discipline problems that plagued Ruth throughout his career, and is regarded as the primary reason (other than financial) that then-owner Harry Frazee was willing to sell him to the Yankees two years later.  The left-hander was pitching a no-hitter in a 0–0 game against the Detroit Tigers on July 11, before a single deflected off his glove in the eighth inning. Boston finally pushed across a run in the ninth, and Ruth held onto his 1–0 victory by striking out Ty Cobb. In 1942, Ruth called this game his greatest thrill on the field.  In 1918, Ruth pitched in 20 games, posting a 13–7 record with a 2.22 ERA. He was mostly used as an outfielder, and hit a league-leading eleven home runs. His statistics were curtailed slightly when he walked off the team in July following an argument with Boston’s manager.  Ruth threw a 1–0 shutout in the opener of the 1918 World Series, then won Game Four in what would be his final World Series appearance as a pitcher. Ruth won both his starts, allowing two runs (both earned) in seventeen innings for an ERA of 1.06. Ruth extended his World Series consecutive scoreless inning streak to 29⅔ innings, a record that would last until Whitey Ford broke it in 1961.

In the years 1915–1917, Ruth had been used in just 44 games in which he had not pitched. After the 1917 season, in which he hit .325, albeit with limited at bats, teammate Harry Hooper suggested that Ruth might be more valuable in the lineup as an everyday player.  In 1918, he began playing in the outfield more and pitching less, making 75 hitting-only appearances. Former teammate Tris Speaker speculated that the move would shorten Ruth’s career, though Ruth himself wanted to hit more and pitch less. In 1918, Ruth batted .300 and led the A.L. in home runs with eleven despite having only 317 at-bats, well below the total for an everyday player.  During the 1919 season, Ruth pitched in only 17 of his 130 games. He also set his first single-season home run record that year with 29 (passing Ned Williamson’s 27 in 1884), including a game-winning homer on a September “Babe Ruth Day” promotion. It was Babe Ruth’s last season with the Red Sox. 

 

Denton True “Cy” Young,  joined the American League’s Boston Americans in 1901 for a $3,500 contract ($92,092 in current dollar terms). Young would remain with the Boston team until 1909. In his first year in the American League, Young was dominant. Young led the league in wins, strikeouts, and ERA, thus earning the colloquial AL Triple Crown for pitchers. Young won almost 42% of his team’s games in 1901, accounting for 33 of his team’s 79 wins. In February 1902, before the start of the baseball season, Young served as a pitching coach at Harvard University. The sixth-grade graduate instructing Harvard students delighted Boston newspapers.  The Boston Americans played the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first modern World Series in 1903. Young, who started Game One against the visiting Pirates, thus threw the first pitch in modern World Series history. The Pirates scored four runs in that first inning, and Young lost the game. Young performed better in subsequent games, winning his next two starts. He also drove in three runs in Game Five. Young finished the series with a 2–1 record and a 1.85 ERA in four appearances, and Boston defeated Pittsburgh, five games to three games.

After one-hitting Boston on May 2, 1904, Philadelphia Athletics pitcher Rube Waddell taunted Young to face him so that he could repeat his performance against Boston’s ace. Three days later, Young pitched a perfect game against Waddell and the Athletics.  It was the first perfect game in American League history.  Waddell was the 27th and last batter, and when he flied out, Young shouted, “How do you like that, you hayseed?”  Waddell had picked an inauspicious time to issue his challenge. Young’s perfect game was the centerpiece of a pitching streak. Young set major league records for the most consecutive scoreless innings pitched and the most consecutive innings without allowing a hit; the latter record still stands at 24.1 innings, or 73 hitless batters.  Even after allowing a hit, Young’s scoreless streak reached a then-record 45 shutout innings. Before Young, only two pitchers had thrown perfect games.  Young’s perfect game was the first under the modern rules established in 1893. One year later, on July 4, 1905, Rube Waddell beat Young and the Americans, 4–2, in a 20-inning matchup. Young pitched 13 consecutive scoreless innings before he gave up a pair of unearned runs in the final inning.  Young did not walk a batter and was later quoted: “For my part, I think it was the greatest game of ball I ever took part in.”  In 1907, Young and Waddell faced off in a scoreless 13-inning tie.  In 1908, Young pitched the third no-hitter of his career.  Three months past his 41st birthday, Cy Young was the oldest pitcher to record a no-hitter, a record which would stand 82 years until 43-year-old Nolan Ryan surpassed the feat.  Only a walk kept Young from his second perfect game.  After that runner was caught stealing, no other batter reached base. At this time, Young was the second-oldest player in either league. In another game one month before his no-hitter, he allowed just one single while facing 28 batters.  On August 13, 1908, the league celebrated “Cy Young Day.” No American League games were played on that day, and a group of All-Stars from the league’s other teams gathered in Boston to play against Young and the Red Sox. 

In 1956, about one year after Young’s death, the Cy Young Award was created. Originally, it was a single award covering the whole of baseball. The honor was divided into two Cy Young Awards in 1967, one for each league.

On September 23, 1993, a statue dedicated to him was unveiled by Northeastern University on the site of the Red Sox’s original stadium, the Huntington Avenue Grounds. It was there that Young had pitched the first game of the 1903 World Series, as well as the first perfect game in the modern era of baseball. A home plate-shaped plaque next to the statue reads:

“On October 1, 1903 the first modern World Series between the American League champion Boston Pilgrims (later known as the Red Sox) and the National League champion Pittsburgh Pirates was played on this site. General admission tickets were fifty cents. The Pilgrims, led by twenty-eight game winner Cy Young, trailed the series three games to one but then swept four consecutive victories to win the championship five games to three.”

 

 

Where are they now..?

How about a Red Sox pitching staff edition of “Where are they now?”

 

Matt Young.  Young would pitch for the Red Sox for two seasons before being released days before the start of the 1993 season. He became part of baseball history during his tenure with the Red Sox. On April 12, 1992, Young faced the Cleveland Indians in the first game of a doubleheader, allowed two runs on seven walks and an error by shortstop Luis Rivera en route to the fourth no-hitter by a losing pitcher.  On that day Roger Clemens pitched a two-hit shutout in the second game of the double-header, giving Young and Clemens the Major League Baseball record for the least number of hits (2) allowed in a doubleheader. While Young sent the ball to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, Major League Baseball, in a rule created prior to the season, did not recognize the performance as a true no-hitter, as Young, playing for the losing team on the road, only pitched eight innings in his complete game loss. According to Seymour Siwoff, who was on Baseball’s Committee for Statistical Accuracy, the feat could not be listed with the “pure” no-hitters because “Young didn’t get the chance to go out and pitch the ninth…who knows what would have happened if he did.” Had the no-hitter been officially recognized, it would have been the first no-hitter by a Boston pitcher since Dave Morehead did so in 1965, also against the Indians, and was the fifteenth time, at that point, that a Red Sox pitcher had completed a game without allowing a hit.

Young would be released by the Red Sox in 1993, appeared in 22 games for the Indians in 1993, spent a month on the Toronto Blue Jays roster before being released a final time in September 1993.

Steve Avery. With his career in a sudden and premature decline, Avery signed with the Boston Red Sox on January 22, 1997. He pitched two years for the Red Sox, going 16-14 over two seasons as the number two starter behind Pedro Martinez. However, his ERA was 5.64, and he was clearly finished as the brilliant pitcher who dazzled fans and batters in 1991.

He signed a one year contract with the Reds for the 1999 season. He was 6-7 when he was lost for the rest of the year in July. He signed with the Braves during spring training in 2000 and again during spring training in 2001, but failed to make the club each time.

In 2003, Avery made a brief comeback with the Detroit Tigers team that threatened to break the 120-loss record of the 1962 Mets. He made 19 relief appearances, including the final appearance of his career on July 20, 2003, at U.S. Cellular Field against the Chicago White Sox. His final pitch was a double play caused when Paul Konerko lined to Avery and he threw Magglio Ordóñez out before he was able to get back to first base.

 

Ramón Martinez. Ramón started the 1999 season in the minor leagues for rehabilitation. He was called up by the Red Sox in August, to pitch again alongside brother Pedro, making four starts for a 3-1 record with an ERA of 3.05. Martinez was less successful in 2000, with a record of 10-8 and a 6.03 ERA, and his option for 2001 was not picked up by the Red Sox.

After his two years with the Red Sox, he signed again with the Dodgers, but they released him at the end of spring training. He played briefly with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2001 before retiring.

 

Ramiro Mendoza.  Mendoza was the only player in the last 75 years to win a World Series ring with both the New York Yankees (1998–2000) and Boston Red Sox (2004) before Johnny Damon and Eric Hinske joined that club in 2009.

After recovering from shoulder surgery during the 2005 offseason, Mendoza returned to the Yankees after September 2005 callups, becoming one of three members of the 2004 Red Sox to play for the 2005 Yankees, along with Mark Bellhorn and Alan Embree. After the 2005 season, Mendoza signed a minor league contract with the Yankees.

He played for Panama in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. In February 2009, he signed a minor league contract with the Milwaukee Brewers and received an invitation to spring training, but departed spring training after failing a physical.  Following his release, he subsequently retired from major league baseball.

 

Matt Clement.  As a member of the Boston Red Sox in the 2005 season, Clement was named as an All-Star Game selection for the first time in his big league career, replacing injured Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay. Clement’s record was 10-2 before the All-Star break, and he finished the season at 13-6 with a 4.57 ERA. On July 26, 2005, Clement was struck in the head by a line drive from Carl Crawford of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Clement made just 12 starts in 2006, posting a 5-5 record with a 6.61 ERA,before having season ending shoulder surgery in September. He was rehabilitated at the Red Sox extended spring training complex in Fort Myers, Florida, but did not make a major league appearance in the 2007 season.

On January 3, 2008, Clement was signed to a major league contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals’ team doctor said that Clement was healthy and would be able to begin the season playing regularly. The Cardinals cited his recent rehabilitation and physical as reasons for adding him to the starting rotation for the 2008 season with no expected limitations upon reporting to Jupiter, Florida for spring training. However, Clement would begin the year on the disabled list after making no appearances in Spring Training. On June 3, Clement made a minor-league rehab start at Single-A Palm Beach, allowing only 1 hit over six innings. He was released by the Cardinals on August 2.

Clement signed a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays on December 12, 2008 and was invited to Spring Training. After being unable to make a spot in the rotation, Clement announced his retirement from baseball on April 5, 2009.

 

John Smoltz.  On January 13, 2009, Smoltz signed a one-year contract with the Boston Red Sox for a reported base salary of $5.5 million with roster time incentives and miscellaneous award incentives which could net as much as $10 million.He made his first start in the Boston Red Sox rotation June 25, 2009, allowing seven hits and five runs through five innings. Smoltz struggled his entire time with the Red Sox posting a 2-5 record over eight games with an 8.32 ERA and no quality starts. He was designated for assignment on August 7, 2009, after a 13-6 loss to the Yankees, giving the Red Sox 10 days to release, trade, or send him to the minors.The Red Sox offered Smoltz a minor league stint in order to prepare him to be placed in the bullpen, but he rejected the offer, leaving the Red Sox the options of either releasing or trading him. On August 17, 2009 the Red Sox released Smoltz.

On August 19, 2009, Smoltz signed with the St. Louis Cardinals. Smoltz made his debut against the San Diego Padres on August 23, 2009. In his first game for the Cardinals, Smoltz went five innings, striking out nine and walking none, while setting a Cardinals franchise record by striking out seven batters in a row.  That win against the Padres with the Cardinals was his only win with them that season. Smoltz finished 1-3 with an ERA of 4.26 with the Cardinals. He was 3-8 with an ERA of 6.35 overall with the Red Sox and Cardinals. In Game 3 of the 2009 NLDS, Smoltz finished with a 4.50 ERA after pitching 2 full innings, giving up 4 hits.

On March 16, 2010 it was announced that Smoltz would serve as a color analyst alongside Joe Simpson for the 45 Braves games on Peachtree TV. Smoltz also tells a joke once a game on Peachtree. John is an analyst for MLB Network and he would also serve as a guest analyst, from time to time, on TBS Sunday Afternoon Baseball.  Smoltz is also part of the TBS post-season coverage.

 

Brad Penny.  On January 9, 2009, Penny signed a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox with a base salary of $5M. Incentives and performance bonuses were included to increase the total deal another $3M.

Penny recorded his 100th career win on June 17, 2009, against his former team the Florida Marlins, in a five inning effort only giving up one unearned run. The win came on the Red Sox’s 500th consecutive sell out at Fenway Park.

During his last five starts with the Red Sox, Penny was 0-4 with a 9.11 ERA. After a disastrous start against the rival Yankees, it was decided on August 22, 2009, that Penny would be replaced in the rotation by veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield who was coming off the disabled list soon. During Wakefield’s August 26 start, Penny was placed in the bullpen as insurance, but was never needed with Wakefield pitching a strong seven inning effort giving up only one run. With Wakefield completing a healthy start, reliever Billy Wagner being added to the roster, and Penny not wanting to be a reliever, the Red Sox granted his wish to be released late that night. During his time in Boston, Penny’s record was 7-8, with a 5.61 ERA.

On August 31, 2009, Penny signed with the San Francisco Giants after clearing waivers. The Giants paid Penny only the pro-rated remnant of a $400k MLB minimum salary (i.e. under $100k), with the Boston Red Sox picking up the remainder of his $5M salary for the year. In his debut, Penny pitched eight shutout innings in a 4-0 win over Philadelphia.

On December 10, 2009, Penny agreed to a one-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. On May 21, 2010, Penny hit his first career grand slam, to give his team an 8-4 lead during interleague play against the Angels. He was pulled the next inning with an injury and therefore did not earn the win. The injury was an aggravation of a pre-existing oblique muscle strain that landed him on the disabled list for the remainder of the season.

On January 18, 2011, Penny agreed to a one-year $3 million contract with the Detroit Tigers.

 

Honorable Mention:

Frank Viola (1992-1994)

Jamie Moyer (1996)

Bret Saberhagen (1997-1999, 2001)

David Cone (2001)

Hideo Nomo (2001)

John Burkett (2002-2003)

Wade Miller (2005)

Back to the Future…. sort of…

I’d say it was a fairly productive weekend….

… Aside from the Bruins playing the role of the ‘Heart Attack Kids’ (I’m a lot happier after tonight’s win) and Saturdays wonderfully distasteful display of ineptitude in the 8th that is.

I honestly believe this Scarlett Hose / Baby Bears rivalry will endure to be a rather historic one, ya’ know… should MLB decide to keep interleague play.  They beat us over the head with ‘Interleague’ and then once we get used to it, build some cool rivalries and deepen the cross town hatreds (NY, LA, CHI, Bay area) and the interstate opponents (Florida, CA, PA, etc..) and look at ancient encounters like Oakland vs. Philly and The Boston Braves.. oops… Braves vs. Sox or ghosts of world series past including Yankees vs. Dodgers so on and so forth.  I’m sure I’ve left many a nice matching such as O’s vs. Nats, Rangers returning to aforementioned Nats, The battle of the Show Me state and more out but you get the gist.  Aside from the historical splendor of the Cubs return to the site of the 1918 World Series (which should really give the baseball folks outside Boston or Chicago an idea of why we’re so rabid and fanatical.. 1918 b!tches), the games themselves were quite meaningful.  If we can put the 8th inning meltdown and those forgettable Clorox Bleach uniforms (or the ‘ubbies road jersey) behind us, it was true baseball. 

And it was almost a flashback of sorts in another way.  Just like 1918, the Sox are a recent multiple time champion, a mecca of baseball and looking like they’ll be competing at a championship caliber with pitching and power for years to come while the Cubs will forever continue to be the Cubs (which is like being the Yawkey Red Sox) with flashes of brilliance under good teams led by great field generals who just can’t carry the team with various holes.  However, this isn’t about poking the caged bear (we here in Boston love baby bears.. right Tim Thomas?) as much as it is genuine fan appreciation.

But the season rolls on and we collapsed against Cleveland tonight.  While Chief Wahoo’s Tribe has been the surprise hit of the season and the game was far from a blow-out and ‘collapse’ may be slightly overreacting.. I don’t care.  Clay pitched well for the weather and Justin “Traded for Detroit’s Victor Martinez” Masterson did comparably well.  Looking back, I hate the f^#%ing  trade.  V-Mart was a great player, an awesome spark plug and a very needed stop-gap playing C/1B/DH in the Big Papi power outages while Mike Lowell hit retirement age head-on due to injury and Varitek just began to hit the wall.  I was sad to see him go but hurt worse by what we gave up in Masterson to get a ‘short-term’ blue chipper.  And hearing the Sox Brass call Salty, who I very much like as a developing player, “The guy we’ve wanted for years”… didn’t help.  Did the Brass have an idea they couldn’t sign him when they traded for him… I wonder.  He was a slightly older centerpiece who couldn’t catch more than a 100 games a season and would soon be reliable DH/1B/C utility player at a centerpiece price and may have made it harder to keep a Papi, Youk and now A-Gon line-up together.  Remember, they’ve been chasing Adrian Gonzalez for years and I have to believe in their eyes V-Mart, like Jason Bay, was a calculated risk.  Obviously not Jeff Bagwell for Larry Anderson, but if Casey Kelly becomes an all-star caliber pitcher or even a reliable Number Two Guy in the Padres rotation, at least we know getting A-Gon long-term was a positive investment.

Of course, I’m the guy who was a bit more keen on the Sox entering the Prince Fielder sweepstakes over Adrian Gonzalez… so what do I know.