Category Archives: @Phl_inphielder

WEDNESDAY NIGHT BASEBALL- TAKE ME OUT TO THE BRAWL GAME

In the eighth inning of the Memorial Day game between the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants, Bryce Harper took exception to what he thought was a deliberate attempt by Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland to hit him with a fastball.  Harper charged the mound and threw his batting helmet at the San Francisco hurler.  Both benches emptied as a result, and the brawl was on!  Both players were ejected from the game. Harper was suspended for three games, Strickland will sit for six contests.

Washington’s Bryce Harper charges Giants’ pitcher Hunter Strickland.

 

This latest incident made me reflect and think about some of baseball’s most notable battles.  Here are the three most notable fights in my opinion:

The bout that comes in at number three happened on October 12, 2003.  At historic Fenway Park in Boston, the Yankees and Red Sox intense rivalry turned ugly.  It happened during Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.  The Yankees erased a 2-0 first inning Red Sox lead with two second inning runs and a Hideki Matsui homer in the third. In the top of the fourth, Boston pitcher Pedro Martinez took out his frustrations on New York’s Karim Garcia.  After taking his base, Garcia would run into Red Sox second baseman Todd Walker to break up a potential double play.  Manny Ramirez would lead off the bottom of the fourth.  Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens threw a pitch that came in high and tight on Ramirez.  Manny took exception to this and charged at Clemens.  Both benches emptied and the fight was on!  The most memorable moment of this melee occurred when Pedro Martinez decked Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer!  The 72-year-old coach had  charged at the Red Sox pitcher in the heat of the battle.

Image result for Pedro Martinez decks Don Zimmer

Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez takes down New York Yankees 72-year-old bench coach Don Zimmer.

The Martinez-Zimmer bout seemed to be a big mismatch, but the scuffle that I rate at number two was almost as lopsided.  This one also involves a team from the Big Apple in Game 3 of a League Championship Series.

It happened on October 8, 1973, in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the National League Championship Series at New York’s Shea Stadium.  Cincinnati Reds’ baserunner (one well built baserunner) Pete Rose slid hard into second base and attempted to take out a much smaller Mets shortstop in Bud Harrelson.  Harrelson may have been a little on the small side compared to the mammoth Rose, but Bud was no pushover.  He yelled at the Cincinnati baserunner that it was “a cheap shot” since he came in a bit high after the slide into second base.  Words were exchanged, punches were thrown and history was made.  As Rose took his position in left field in the bottom of the inning he was pelted with batteries and other debris by the Flushing Faithful.  Reds manager Sparky Anderson threatened to pull his team off the field as a result.  Mets icons Tom Seaver, Willie Mays, and Yogi Berra physically went out to left field to appeal for order to be restored.

Image result for Pete Rose fights Bud Harrelson

The battle of 1973 between Pete Rose and Bud Harrelson.

The top melee on my countdown involves an old New York City rivalry that headed west in 1958.  The Dodgers and, to come full circle in this article, the Giants, have been bitter rivals since the days of Brooklyn vs. Manhattan.  The intensity of this rivalry has not waned since the Dodgers left Brooklyn for Los Angeles and the Giants bolted from Manhattan for San Francisco.

Things boiled over at  Candlestick Park in San Francisco on August 22, 1965.  Future Hall of Famer’s Juan Marichal and Sandy Koufax were to hook up in a key late season game. The pitching matchup ended up taking a back seat to the headlines.

Marichal was famous for pitching inside through most of his career.  He was in rare form on this day, so much so that Dodgers’ catcher Johnny Roseboro took exception to it.  With Marichal at the plate in the third inning, Koufax threw a ball inside that Roseboro dropped.  After picking the ball up, the LA catcher threw the ball back to the pitcher. Here’s the key though, the ball whizzed by the Giants’ hurler’s ear.  Years later Roseboro would admit to doing in on purpose.  Marichal would contest that the ball grazed him.

 

Image result for Juan Marichal and Johnny Roseboro fight

Giants pitcher Juan Marichal hits Dodgers catcher Johnny Roseboro with a bat.

Marichal turned around and confronted Roseboro, words were exchanged and in the ugliest incident in Major League Baseball history, Marichal struck Roseboro with his bat.

Much like take out slides and home plate collisions, pitchers and batters will always battle.  These battles will always flare up from time to time.  That’s basebrawl!

Advertisements

IT’S BASEBALL SEASON!

As a sports fan there is no opening of a season that is more of an event than in baseball.  It’s upon us folks!  At 1:00 this afternoon when the Yankees and Rays take the field in St. Petersburg, Florida it will signal newness not seen since New Year’s.

Today, and Wednesday I will preview the upcoming season.  Today I start with the American League.

Let me begin with the American League East and the aforementioned Yankees and Rays.  In 2016, the Boston Red Sox won this division after a last place finish the year before.  Was 2015 an aberration?  Did the real Sox show up last year?  The big hole to fill in Fenway Park this year will be the absence of David Ortiz.

The Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles followed the Red Sox into the post-season, taking home both American League Wild Cards.  The Blue Jays lost Edwin Encarnacion and R.A Dickey, while the Orioles picked up Seth Smith.

The New York Yankees could be playing second fiddle once again in the Big Apple this year.  Off-season pickups were Aldoris Chapman (who was only gone long enough to win a World Series in Chicago), Matt Holliday, and former Met Ruben Tejada.  The Yankees biggest subtraction had to be the retirement of Mark Texiera.  Rising star Gary Sanchez seems to be taking over as the leader in the Bronx.

Image result for Cleveland Indians win ALCS

Cleveland Indians win the 2016 American League championship.

 

The Cleveland Indians seemingly came out of nowhere last year to win the American League Central.  Little did we know how far the Tribe could go.  If anything this team got even stronger in the off-season.  Can the team who now holds baseball’s longest championship drought (68 years) get the monkey off of their backs?.

Toronto’s loss was Cleveland’s gain.  Edwin Encarnacion signed with the Indians in the off-season.  He will replace Mike Napoli at first base.  Also gone was “almost World Series hero” Rajai Davis (who’s home run sent Game 7 into extras).

As for the 2015 champs, the Kansas City Royals lost pitcher Edinson Volquez while picking up Brandon Moss.  The Tigers, White Sox, and Twins are all long shots in making the post-season.

Out west it seems that the Mariners, Astros, and Rangers all played “can you top this?”  The Rangers re-signed Carlos Gomez, brought in Dillon Gee and James Loney.  Yovano Gallardo headlined a bunch of new players in Seattle.  A pair of former Yankees head to Houston as Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran join the Astros.

As for the two teams in California it could be a long season.  The Angels continue to get older and the Athletics are still in rebuilding mode.

So, now I give you my predictions.  Baseball is a long season, with many twists and turns.  Everyone has a shot beginning this week!

Eastern Division

Boston

Baltimore

Toronto

NY Yankees

Tampa Bay

 

Central Division

Cleveland

Kansas City

Detroit

Chicago White Sox

Minnesota

 

Western Division

Houston

Seattle

Texas

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Oakland

 

I am picking the Royals and Orioles to win the Wild Cards.  My pick for the American League championship…..The Cleveland Indians!  Can this be the year to end another drought????  Stay tuned.

Wednesday night I tackle the National League and my pick for the 2017 World Series champion.

Pull up a chair and enjoy the openers!

WEDNESDAY NIGHT BASEBALL A CHANGE IN THE SPORTS SEASON

Now that Sunday’s epic Super Bowl is behind us and the Patriots have partied with their fans, it’s time to turn the page.  Since the National Football League settled on the first Sunday in February to stage it’s championship, it became the perfect lead in to Spring Training.

The transition from football to baseball has become a new tradition on social media.  In the waning moments of the past few Super Bowls, baseball fans post and tweet about how many days it is until pitchers and catchers report.  Major League Baseball, and the teams themselves also take to Facebook and Twitter.

Growing up in Queens Spring Training brought on a different dimension.  Hearing Bob Murphy’s voice on the radio signaled the end of a long cold winter.  Never mind the fact that he was in Florida and it was still wintry in New York.  Murphy’s voice brought about a calm and a warmth that made me think of longer days and nicer weather.  It was a beacon of Spring, a rite of passage that warmer and lighter days were right around the corner.

Image result for Bob MurphyBob Murphy, voice of the New York Mets 1962-2003.

Now that I call South Florida home, February means that baseball begins in my backyard.  Next week pitchers and catchers will convene in Florida and Arizona.  All over both states winter will symbolically end.  The pop of the glove will be heard from Tampa to Port St. Lucie, from Disney World to West Palm Beach.  The desert that houses the greater Phoenix area will also be alive with the sound of baseball!  Soon after, it will be time for the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues to open for business.

A bucket list item for any baseball fan is a trip to either of these two states.  I highly recommend touring the back fields of a team’s training camp.  In a park-like setting you can watch the players go through drills, you can see the pitchers honing their skills in the expanded bullpens.  It’s the best way to meet and greet players.  Most players are available for autographs!  The best thing about this is the price, morning workouts are free and open to the public.

Image result for back fields of roger dean stadium practiceMiami Marlins run an infield drill at Roger Dean Training Complex in Jupiter, FL

The back fields are also the site of “B” games in which younger players, or older invitees play in front of the teams brain trust. These games are almost like an audition for those who may or may not make the opening day roster.  They are played in a very informal setting that is almost Little League like.  In 2004 I experienced a thrill of a lifetime at one of these games.  It was at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida (Spring home of the Marlins and Cardinals), the Marlins were hosting the Mets (who train about an hour up I-95 in Port St. Lucie).  Marlins manager Jack McKeon approached my son and asked him if he would like to be a ball boy!  After my son got settled he was sitting on an upside down sunflower seed pail near the on-deck circle with a few new friends.  Oh and by the way his new buddies were named Jack McKeon, Bill Robinson, and Tony Perez!

As Bob used to say, buckle your seatbelts, and get ready for a ride that starts in Florida and Arizona, goes 162 regular season games and into October!  Will there be another epic season full of surprises like last year?  Only time will tell.

The calendar has turned the page, and the season has changed in the sports world.  The sound of the quarterback calling signals has given way to the pop of the glove and the crack of the bat!  It won’t be long until we hear those wonderful two words “Play Ball!”

WEDNESDAY NIGHT BASEBALL-THE HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2017

Welcome to my new Wednesday night blog.  Nothing but baseball on Wednesday nights!

Although its only mid January,there is so much is going on in the world of baseball!  Free agency is coming to a close, the hot stove is still burning and Spring Training is only a month away.  Join me each Wednesday for news, weekly wrap ups, and of course opinions and discussions!

That being said, earlier tonight the National Baseball Hall of Fame released its class of 2017!  I give you this year’s class:

JEFF BAGWELL:

Image result for jeff bagwell

After years of waiting for this moment, Bagwell earned an overwhelming 86.2% of the vote.  Bagwell has been on the ballot since 2011. He retired in 2005 as a member of the National League champion Houston Astros.

Bagwell was a rarity in today’s times, spending his entire career with the same club.  He hit 449 career home runs, drove in 1,529 runs and had a lifetime average of .297.  He made one trip to the World Series.  Bagwell broke the 40 home run barrier three times in his career, and hit over 30 homer runs eight years in a row. He hit a career high of 47 round-trippers in 2000. Bagwell was the National League MVP in the strike shortened season of 1994.  Bagwell was also known for his defense at both catcher and second base.

TIM RAINES:

Image result for Tim Raines

After 10 long years on the ballot, The Rock gets his plaque in Cooperstown!

For a team that no longer exists, the Montreal Expos will most likely have its logo on three plaques this summer (Andre Dawson and Gary Carter being the other two).  Although Raines played for the White Sox, Yankees, Athletics, Orioles  and finished his career with the Marlins, he is mainly remembered as the Road Runner from Montreal.

He was part of two World Series championship teams in New York (1996 and 1999).  A lifetime .294 hitter, he stole 808 bases in his career. He  joins fellow speedsters Ricky Henderson and Lou Brock in the Hallowed Hall.  Raines was the National League batting champion in 1986 with a .334 average and four-time stolen base champion.

IVAN RODRIGUEZ:

Image result for ivan rodriguez stats

Arguably the best catcher in the Majors during the 1990’s and early 2000’s Pudge was elected to the Hall on his first ballot.

A .296 career hitter, Rodriguez played most of his career with the Texas Rangers.  He won his only World Series ring in his lone year with the Florida Marlins (2003).  He was also one of the best defensive catchers ever to wear the gear.

Pudge was the 1999 American League MVP as a member of the Rangers.  He belted out 199 hits including 35 homers and 113 RBI and hit .332 in that MVP season.

Congratulations Bags, Rock, and Pudge!  See you in Cooperstown this July.

There were also two other inductees.  John Scheurholz, the architect of the Braves teams that finished first in their division 12 straight years was elected.  Also elected was former commissioner Bud Selig.  This writer totally disagrees that Selig deserves this honor.  He doesn’t hold a candle to the likes of Bowie Kuhn.

See you next week as we continue through the off-season.  The warmth of baseball will get us through the cold of winter.