Monday, August 31, 2015

Keep Your Eyes on the Ball!!!

Yes people are getting injured at the ballgame. They have been getting injured since the game decided they could make money charging "fans" admission to the daily contest.

You knew right from the start, that to avoid injury you had to pay attention to what is going on in THE GAME!!!! Keep your eye on the ball was something the fans had to do as well as those in uniform on the field.

If you choose to feast on whatever delicacies the venue has to offer you may not be in position to make a play on a foul ball headed in your direction. It was originally thought that if you brought a glove you would have the protection you needed (provided you were "watching the game!").

I hear all this "netting" and other protective devices to protect those who just are in no position to protect themselves from an orb flying at the speed of sound. A sound that becomes a hush, the instant it smacks someone.

Heck, at AT&T, there is an area, next to the Big Glove, where a slide is in constant use by children. These people are probably out of range of one of those flying orbs but against the Washington Nationals, Ian Desmond, smacked one that landed in the vicinity. Close enough to let those "sliders" and their guardians know that you are at a place where things can happen that have little or nothing to do with what you are doing. I mean, come on, you go to AT&T to play on the slides? If you're the guardian of that little boy or girl, shouldn't you be paying attention to the immediate surroundings at all times? So when you hear the "crack of the bat" you had better know where the ball is?

If you're reaching over to catch a ball being tossed to you by a player or ball person, hadn't you be paying attention to the possibility of falling if the throw causes you to lean out over the railing? How badly do you need that ball if your life is at stake?

I can see a mesh type of netting going from foul pole to foul pole but that totally eliminates the chances of capturing a foul ball or going to the game early enough to see batting practice so your odds of getting a foul ball increase dramatically.

Sure, leave nothing to chance. Be all about safety. But also know that for those who ARE paying attention and did bring their glove, this is a sad day in baseball. The lifer, "old school" fan who took pride in doing everything the right way now has to take a back seat to fans who are at the game like it's some sort of amusement park. A place where they eat expensive foods and drink and have little regard for those around them.

Haven't we already experienced this sort of thing with the people who choose not to speak in the native tongue English/Spanish when they visit the United States of America? (Hint: What language is the print of the signs you see?)

Now we lifers must move over for Daddy and Mommy Warbucks. People with the money to spend on all the exorbitant food prices and souvenirs a ballpark has to offer. I understand that not everyone disrupts the flow of how things run but enough of these Joanie/Johnny come lately's and an uproar is bound to happen.

Since we're on the topic of fan safety, how about the broken bat issue? Think maybe the makers of these bats might want to go to Phineas J. Whoopee, the man at the chalkboard, one more time to see if their product can hold up to a 95 mph fastball?

Kevin J. Marquez

Monday, August 17, 2015

Leads the League in "Getting Runners Thrown Out or Holding 'em When they Should've Been Sent" or How Much Do We Miss Tim Flannery?

Baseball is a sport in which followers of the game are fascinated by statistics.

We know the leader in home runs (HR), runs batted in (RBI), runs scored (R), and the batting leader (AVG). But do we have a statistic for a third base coach? As in, how many runners has he held up that did not score? Or how many runners has he gotten thrown out at home plate?

Roberto Kelly began this season replacing one of the better third base coaches in major league baseball (Tim Flannery). Manager Bruce Bochy knows there will be growing pains. But what can be seen by the young/old man in the 22nd row is whether or not Mr. Kelly can utilize his knowledge of the situation (strength of outfielder's arm, speed of the player running the bases, ability of runner to run bases properly- use as little area to get from one base to the next- and the arms of those receiving the cutoff throw) to make an accurate decision in holding-up or sending the runner at any given time.

Is Roberto Kelly guessing? Rolling the dice on enough situations may possibly create a distance between the runner and their coach because of the "too frequent negative outcomes." Some runner (s) may have a tendency not to trust his decision making process and be thinking versus reacting to what the coach is demanding of the runner. And in the worst case scenarios these players may choose to ignore the coach and make their own decision by stopping when the coach is "waving them in" or running through the coach's stop signal.

Bochy and his braintrust need to figure out something soon or it'll be another odd-year season they come up short.

Kevin J. Marquez

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Is Cain Able?

Seeing balls leave the ballpark is becoming more and more commonplace with Matt Cain. He has an okay game and then he serves up the tasty meatball for the batter to dig into. Makes me wonder if the teams he does okay against are closer to minor league level (due to the dilution of talent because there are so many teams in the major leagues) than if he is effective.

Listening to ballgames with Cain on the mound can really test one's patience. How he usually jumps ahead in the count, say no balls and two strikes and then the batter fouls one, two, three pitches off because Cain cannot get the ball past the hitter. Then he misses the strike zone (of the home plate umpire for that particular game) on the next two pitches and now the count is two balls and two strikes.

Again, Cain tries to slip one past the batter but the batter fouls yet another pitch off. The next pitch is too close to take and the batter manages to get a piece of the ball keeping the count at 2-balls and 2-strikes. This is getting to be the theme of Matt Cain on the mound, as the usual continuum of batters battle him until they get a pitch they can handle and the ball goes such a long way that it inspires the announcer to say something like, "... And you can tell it GOODBYE!"

All too often Cain struggles to get his pitch past the batter. So much so I'm beginning to think the batter is more adjusting to the umpire's strike zone than anything Cain is doing. He battles with each hitter and by the fifth or sixth inning he puts himself in a precarious position that makes him highly susceptible to throwing a gopher ball. (Definition of gopher ball: a pitch that is hit for a home run.)

This may be the Matt Cain we may come to expect until his contract expires.

Kevin J. Marquez

Saturday, July 4, 2015

"Nip It!"

Once again the strike zone cost a team a chance at winning the game. In the nation's capital, the Giants saw a pitch called "Ball four," put a runner on base before the next batter hit one out of the park.

"Ball four" for a pitch across the belt. Nowadays, with a good number of major league umpires, ACROSS THE BELT is "high". Whatever happend to the "letters or armpits" being the limit to high strike? (the home plate umpire was John Hirschbeck)

In the following day game, Will Little, again opted for the low strike zone. How low? Across the ankles was deemed hittable by the aptly named Little, as in ye of little strike zone!

Home plate umpires take the wind out of the game's sails when they have no clue of where the pitch is going. They're not good enough to be calling balls and strikes in the major leagues if the zone is changed frequently and one pitcher is seen better than another. It's all about CONSISTENCY!!!

The installation of umpires was to see that fair play would take place in the game. But it isn't fair when one pitcher is getting the low strike while his opposing hurler is being squeezed into getting very few calls.

I don't know exactly what the grading system is for the umpires and how diligently the powers that be, doing the grading, are sticking to rewarding consistency and penalizing inconsistency.
Let's face it, some umps are consistently inconsistent. Much the same way a switch-hitter decides he ought not bat from both sides due to the dramatic decrease in productivity umpires who are consistently inconsistent behind the catcher, behind the plate, should simply umpire third - second - and first base. If that isn't fair for his fellow umpires then he should be demoted to Triple A and someone should be called up from Triple A.

In the words of Bernard "Barney" Fife, we have to "Nip It" before it costs too many teams games and their chance of making the post-season.

Kevin J. Marquez

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Work in Progress

(Video technology to track pitches started to be installed in every major league ballpark in 2007.
The system is called PITCHf/x5
. The fabulous thing for you and your students is that the data is
provided at no cost by Major League Baseball (although it is copy righted). Alan Nathan has a
good web site ( to describe how to download
the data and what the quantities actually mean6
. The easiest way to get the data is from Dan
Brooks’s web site PITCHf/x Tool7 (

They are already coming up with equipment to call balls and strikes. Because I believe the consensus is the powers that be and most fans don't appreciate that the umpires in major league baseball all have their own interpretation of what a strike is and consistency is lost in the shuffle.

It is known that Roger Clemens took notes and studied the umpires. I would like to think all pitchers did this, since their livelihood depends very much on the way an umpire calls balls and strikes. You would have to know the umpire's preferences just as you would have to know a hitter's tendencies.

I recall recently listening to a ballgame in which the announcer suggested that Tim Hudson may have a long day ahead because Hudson is a low-ball, sinker pitcher, while that day's umpire was a "high strike" balls and strikes guy. This is exactly the sort of thing in which those capable of devising methods/machinery could come up with/discover a method of accurately and more consistently determining balls and strikes, if queued up precisely.

There are scientists and engineers out there who love the game of baseball and they have the acumen and intelligence to pool their ideas together to come up with a way to make the game better by assuring consistency to a game that needs its human elements but not where interpretations of the rules are concerned.

We're already talking to automated voices when paying bills or needing further assistance on matters that companies have no trouble passing off to the robotic voices asking us to enter whichever number or asking us to speak clearly into the phone. Not taking into account that accents or misinterpretations may get lost in the translation and this could dramatically remove their effectiveness.

(I will leave references for those interested in pursuing this subject. It's where I got the idea for this piece.)

Kevin J. Marquez

Footnotes to the aforementioned highlighted site at

The author makes no apology for the use of English units throughout this paper. After all, they
are the traditional units of the National Pastime!
An amazingly sharp 30-frames/second video of Bonds hitting the ball can be found at Video of the entire at bat as well
as just the last pitch can be found by searching Major League Baseball’s site
3 is their home page
4 is their home page. You may want to check out their Gameday feature that uses
this data at
Sportvision’s description is at
Ironically, just before this fateful pitch, the pitcher requested a new baseball. He tossed home
to the catcher and this event fooled the software into thinking it was an actual pitch. The data
from this toss is what you will get if you use PITCHf/x Tool. MLB has put the corrected data on
its server and that is where the author collected it.
The author has made little effort to track significant figures because the data from PITCHf/x
has little regard for them. Just keep in mind that trajectory data is good to about one-to-two
See Nathan’s web site,, for an explanation.
several physics of pitching references

Can We Talk?

On May 31,1968, the San Francisco Giants were in Los Angeles to resume their rivalry with the Dodgers from their days of playing in the boroughs of New York. With the Giants in Coogan's Bluff, Upper Manhattan and the Dodgers in Brooklyn.

On this night Don Drysdale was embarking on setting the new major league record for consecutive innings without allowing a run as the shadow of Walter "Big Train" Johnson hovered as history might be re-written.

As the game entered the ninth inning, Drysdale was three outs away from accumulating enough innings to surpass Johnson's 56 consecutive scoreless innings. Hall of Famer Willie McCovey led off with a base on balls. Jimmy Ray Hart then singled him over to second base. Next to bat was Dave Marshall and he too walked to load the bases. Three runners on and nobody out. It would take a fortuitous act now to save Drysdale's bid to set the major league mark. (Note: Marshall would later be traded with Ray Sadecki to the New York Mets for Jim Gosger and Bobby Heise. Sadecki was the player the Giants acquired for Orlando Cepeda. Ouch, that trade still stings.)

Up came Dick Dietz. With a two ball and two strike count on him, Drysdale (who made a living of taking as much of the plate as he could feeling it was his and not the batter's)came inside to Dietz and the Giant's catcher was flummoxed as the ball plunked him. As he made his way to first base home plate umpire, Harry Wendelstedt told Dietz to get back in the batter's box. Dietz and the Giants argued but this was Wendelstedt's fifteen minutes of fame moment. No way Wendelstedt was missing this opportunity. He explained that Dietz made no attempt to get out of the way, as stated in rule 6.08 (b). (The rule 'if the ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a strike, whether or not the batter tries to avoid the ball. If the ball is outside the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a ball if he makes no attempt to avoid being touched.'

Wendelstedt may have gotten the call right but much like an official scorer cannot assume how a play was made and rule an error due to degree of difficulty, Wendelstedt ruled on Dietz's intent not allowing for the fact that perhaps "the Mule" was fooled by the movement of the pitched ball.

Now, had Dietz leaned into the pitch then Wendelstedt would have had every right to order the batter back into the batter's box.

(Fast-forward forty-seven years)
Unfortunately, on June 20,2015, home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski failed to do as much and Jose Tabada was allowed to take a base (first base) he most certainly did not deserve. Ending Max Scherzer's attempt at pitching a perfect game.

Kevin J. Marquez

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Dagnabbit !!!

The year is 2015, umpires are not automatons, they are human so you cannot expect Umpire Davis to have the same strike each and every fifth game it is his turn to be behind (the catcher) home plate. (The rotation is counter-clockwise: home to third to second to first.)

Every day major league baseball has a game you have the potential of a Gerry Davis strike zone. On May 27, 2015, with the Giants in Milwaukee ( according to Giants’ announcer Jon Miller) he had a strike zone that used how the catcher framed his pitches as opposed to whether the ball entered the rulebook strike zone or not.

The strike zone was adjusted a few seasons back when it amended an interpretation to read that a pitched ball can be no more than the width of two (2) baseballs above the belt (of the batter).

There are thirty (30) major leagues teams so there can be as much as fifteen (15) umpires at the helm of distinguishing balls from strikes, or vice versa, on a fully scheduled day of baseball. ‘They’ say you always see something new at a ballgame, well, I wonder if all 15 umpires calling balls and strikes have their own interpretation? You better believe they do and if you had the capability of watching each and every one of them bungle the strike zone I’d bet you would be outraged by the inconsistencies of each umpire. The standard of umpiring has fallen off over the years and I believe it is due to the allowance of umpires to have their “own” interpretation of what a strike is versus the rulebook definition of what a strike is… It’s there in print for all to read and yet they choose to ad lib this portion of the rulebook.

In the Memorial Day game, also at Milwaukee, Khris Davis of the Brewers hit a home run off of Tim Lincecum but failed to touch home plate. Someone on the Giants alerted Manager Bruce Bochy and before Lincecum made his next pitch he stepped off the rubber and appealed that the batter-runner had missed home plate. The home plate umpire ruled the batter-runner OUT!!

Feeling like he must have been in a dream, Milwaukee manager, Craig Counsell wanted to challenge the call. The umpires went to the area where the headphones are plugged into New York’s Replay Central (for all disputed calls) and awaited the verdict. A couple of minutes later the umpire-in-charge gave the safe signal showing that the home plate umpire of the game, the person with the best view of any camera angle was over-ruled.

This is all conjectural because decisions from New York’s Replay Central come without explanation.

Why the secrecy? Let the fans know what determined the decision, dagnabbit!
There is no need for confidentiality here. These aren’t someone’s medical records it’s a game people paid good money to see. They have a right to know, as does everyone watching the game, what the deciding factor was in over-ruling the original call or why the call was not changed.

It’s the mysterious handling of arriving at the decision that makes both Major League Baseball and the National Football League suspicious in their appalling actions.

Kevin J. Marquez

Friday, May 8, 2015

Baseball has Zero Tolerance for Careless Behavior

The arbiters of baseball have their jobs because the game controls wreckless behavior because it represents health
hazards. It's up to the arbiters of the rules (umpires) to pay close attention to any shenanigans some mindless player sees fit to attempt because "anything goes" as long as your team wins, right? It is of  utmost importance that the umps put a player's safety first and foremost.

When the rookie for the Angels' was hit by his teammate's line drive (Matt Joyce) he was called out because the fielder did not have an opportunity to field the hard hit ball.

It's all about fair play.  If a runner goes out of his way to get in the way of a fielder he will be called out as well as the batter-runner.

(Note: It is an unwritten rule in baseball that you not say "I got it!" if you're running the bases and a pop-up happens in the vicinity of your whereabouts. That's also bad sportsmanship.)

Kevin J. Marquez

Friday, April 24, 2015

Fortunately the Umpire Has Been Around

The play in Wednesday night's 3-2 Giant victory in which Brandon Belt singled Gregor Blanco over to third base from second base that Don Mattingly felt was Interference by a Coach was correctly not ruled as interference by Fieldin Culbreth. It was fortunate for the Giants that Culbreth has been around because had he been the ump who called balls and strikes on Wednesday (Manny Gonzalez) it may have been a different story.

I was at the game and when Belt rapped a line drive to a pulled-in Andre Ethier, I immediately looked to Blanco (number 7) and watched what he was doing. He didn't hesitate. He stopped at third base. Roberto Kelly, a newcomer at the third base coaching gig, just got caught up in the moment and stood too close to the bag. Now, I understand it could still have been perceived as interference but there was absolutely no intent. And Culbreth got the call right. I couldn't believe Mattingly moaned and groaned on that call. He was the one who orchestrated bringing Yasiel Puig in from right field to third base when Joe Panik was up to bat. There were only 2 outfielders and the one with the best arm was the guy he moved to third base. Just so happens Panik hits a high fly ball to right-centerfield, not deep but deep enough for Blanco to score on Joc Pederson's arm. But had it been Puig the game may very well have gone extra-innings. That was what cost Mattingly the game. His bonehead re-alignment of his players.

Rule 7.09(h) states "It is interference by a batter or a runner when (in the judgment of an umpire) the basecoach at third base, or first base, by touching or holding the runner, physically assists him in returning to or leaving third base or first base."

Seems the new, unknown umpires have a need to "be known" when calls like this occur on their watch. Who can forget the time when Harry Wendelstedt ruled that Giant's batter Dick Dietz had failed to make an attempt to get out of the way of a Don Drysdale pitch that would have forced a run home and ended Drysdale's consecutive scoreless innings streak? It was such a ludicrous call that to this day I still think it is in the Top 3 of all-time worst calls by an umpire.

(Note: The coup de grace was reading how Wendelstedt used to hound Tommy Lasorda for tickets to events that Lasorda had access to. It just proved that Wendelstedt enjoyed the limelight and was the perfect candidate for pulling off a shenanigan like the one he did in a 1968 game at Dodger Stadium. He was on a stage and took full advantage of that moment, the BUM!)

Sure, it's a wild hair in my nose. I remember first learning about the game of baseball when the umpires were: Al Barlick, Foghorn Bradley, Ollie Chill, Nestor Chylak, Jocko Conlan, Shag Crawford, Satch Davidson, Augie Donatelli, Billy Evans, Lee Fyfe, Tom Gorman, Doug Harvey, Jim Honochick, Alamazoo Jennings, Bill Klem, Bill Kunkel, Stan Landes, Bill McGowan, John P. McSherry, E. Durwood Merrill, Edward M. Montague, Larry Napp, Jerry Neudecker, Hank O'Day, Orval Overall, Chris Pelekoudas, Frank Pulli, Dutch Rennert, Edward P. Runge, Paul Runge, Al Salerno, Marty Springstead, Dick Stello, Ed Sudol, Terry Tata, Ed Vargo, Lee Weyer, and Emmett Ashford.

These were the backbone of the umpiring fraternity. Guys who made the call and there were no if's, ands, or buts. Not like today with all this apparent need to be captured on film and shown over and over on ESPN until you want to puke.

If you don't see someone on this list, like Bruce Froemming, it's because I didn't like his style. This is my list of names I saw mentioned in a book on baseball or how I remember their flash, style, and grace between the foul lines. This is my list and it's personal. I respect the game and those players who gave their all only to have some skibozo squelch their moment of glory by blowing an otherwise obvious call.

(thanks to Wikipedia for the ability to look up and find the former umpires who made this game as great as it is despite the camera hogs.)

Kevin J. Marquez

Friday, April 17, 2015

It's Only April

This is not your 2014 San Francisco Giants. The roster has had some changes. We don't have a Panda playing third base and we don't have a suspect left fielder who when he came to bat it was Morse, Morse, Morse. But as with every season, you have changes. And it takes time to find the right mixture of players to make it through the long, six month season, that you push to make into the seventh month.

It doesn't appear the Giants will have a repeat of the Barry Bonds 2001 season or Willie Mays in 1965 in which they both belted 17 homers in one month. (Bonds hit his in May, Mays hit his in August)
But something else will happen that will surely put them among the National League's elite.

After what I've seen in 2010, 2012, and 2014, I will not count a Bochy-led bunch out of any race, unless they are mathematically eliminated. (Note: Of the 8 home runs allowed by Giants' pitching, 4 have been 3-run homers and one was a grand slam. This is something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.)

Kevin J. Marquez

Monday, April 6, 2015

People Who Listen to Baseball Games on the Radio Will Miss You, Lon Simmons

1958-1962 KSFO (560 AM) Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons, Bill King
1963-1964 KSFO (560 AM) Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons
1965-1968 KSFO (560 AM) Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons, Bill Thompson
1969 KSFO (560 AM) Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons, Bill Thompson, Bill Rigney*
1970-1971 KSFO (560 AM) Lon Simmons, Bill Thompson, Russ Hodges**
1972-1973 KSFO (560 AM) Lon Simmons, Bill Thompson
1974-1975 KSFO (560 AM) Al Michaels, Art Eckman
1976 KSFO (560 AM) Al Michaels, Lon Simmons
1977-1978 KSFO (560 AM) Lon Simmons, Joe Angel

Lon did San Francisco 49er games from 1957-1980 and 1987 to 1988. He left the Giants to broadcast Oakland A's games from 1981-1995. I always felt like the Giants got what they deserved when the A's swept the Giants and Lon got to call a World Series champion when KSFO cut him lose without 'splainin' themselves.

His call of Jim Marshall 'running the wrong way' at Kezar Stadium in a 49ers vs. Vikings game was vintage Lon. Or his description of Steve Young 'getting away again' through the ravaged Viking defense to score a 49-yard touchdown in 1988 in what was an amazing run. I should know, I (along with schoolmate Alan Kern) was there!

I used to enjoy the way he would teach me about a player's strengths and how the real good players would turn a weakness into a strength because they were students of the game. They were always looking for ways to be one step ahead of their opponent. Like if they knew the pitcher was throwing to the outside corner, to shade that batter in that direction anticipating the whereabouts of the ball once the batter swung.

Of course, there were always the exceptions to the rule when a batter hit the ball off the end of his bat and the ball squibbed in an unlikely direction. But that was baseball. You learned to accept the unexpected especially when your home field was Candlestick Park.

As one who tunes into the radio to follow a baseball game I miss those announcers who paint the word picture. To me, it IS better than being at the game. I can keep score and tell you exactly what happened because as a listener, a fan of his spoken word, I remembered it as if it were something I myself had written down. And the more I listened to what he had to say I too could anticipate a word or two and just be in sync with whatever story he was telling his audience.

Thanks for the memories Lon. You did the game right.

Kevin J. Marquez

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Rule Needs to be Changed

In the 1930s and 1940s the good hitters of the league almost always had more walks than strikeouts. It was their belief, and should still be held in high regard, that you had to have productive at-bats.

During a cactus league contest in which Gregor Blanco grounded into a double play with less than 2 outs with a runner on first and third base but the run did score to tie the game at 5-5, it was Jon Miller's contention that Blanco did his job. Albeit his at-bat cost his team two outs he did in fact get the runner in from third base.

Miller referred to something Reggie Smith, the former Red Sox, Cardinal, Dodger, and Giant's slugger who belted 314 career home runs, told him while he was a hitting coach. Smith expressed his dissatisfaction that grounding into a double-play with less than two outs but scores the runner does not count for a run batted in. Because the runner didn't pop-up, strikeout or do something in which the runner had no chance to score. His at-bat allowed the runner to score.

Rule 10.04 Runs Batted In
(b) The official scorer shall not credit a run batted in
(1) when the batter grounds into a force double play or a reverse-force double play; or
(2) when a fielder is charged with an error because the fielder muffs a throw at first base that would have completed a force double play.

I got to thinking about this as I was listening to all the player and position changes and I think you have to account for your at-bats. Back in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, players were career minor leaguers if they struck out excessively (in comparison to bases on balls). Regardless if they hit 30 to 40 home runs. Those guys got called up in September and got to show a little of what they were capable of but for the most part they were not given a chance to show, over the long haul, that they were worth the look by the big league club.

Things are beginning to change nowadays. Teams are more willing to sign the Mark Reynolds's in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle. Especially if those constructing the team feel their team has the pitching and defense. If they have players with the ability of making plays to squelch opponents' efforts to build a rally, a batter who strikes out most of the time but does connect often enough to reach 30-HRs and 90-RBIs might be have a place within their budget. Teams are willing to sacrifice the out whereas the contact hitter may ground into a few more double-plays and kill any potential for a big inning which to their way of thinking does a team more harm than good. The team can still pay based on what their numbers produce, regardless if it's inning-ending double-plays or multiple strikeouts per game played.

The player, back in the day, that first came to mind was someone who hit several home runs but who only played one full season in the major leagues. That player was Steve Bilko. In 1953, with the St. Louis Cardinals he hit 21-HR and had 84-RBI. But he also struck out 125 times versus 70 walks. Teams didn't go for the big power numbers if the batter struck out a good percentage of the time.

Bilko was the only player in Pacific Coast League history to win the league's MVP award in three consecutive seasons (1955-57)..In 1956 he won the Triple Crown with 55-HR, 164-RBI, and .360-AVG.

(Note: There is a current ballplayer who has shown he can hit the long ball but has a knack for swinging-and-missing, and that player is Mark Reynolds.)

Rank/ Player (age that year)/Strikeouts/Year/(side of plate player)Bats
1. Mark Reynolds (25) 223 2009 R
2. Adam Dunn (32) 222 2012 L
4. Mark Reynolds (26) 211 2010 R
5. Drew Stubbs (26) 205 2011 R
6. Mark Reynolds (24) 204 2008 R
Adam Dunn (30) 199 2010 L
Ryan Howard (27) 199 2007 L
Ryan Howard (28) 199 2008 L
12. Mark Reynolds (27) 196 2011 R
13. Adam Dunn (24) 195 2004 L
15. Adam Dunn (26) 194 2006 L
16. Ryan Howard (34) 190 2014 L
Adam Dunn (33) 189 2013 L
Rob Deer (26) 186 1987 R
Ryan Howard (29) 186 2009 L
33. Mike Trout (22) 184 2014 R
Mark Trumbo (27) 184 2013 R
Rickie Weeks (27) 184 2010 R
Carlos Pena (34) 182 2012 L
41. Ryan Howard (26) 181 2006 L
46. Rob Deer (25) 179 1986 R
47. Richie Sexson (26) 178 2001 R
48. Adam Dunn (29) 177 2009 L
Adam Dunn (31) 177 2011 L
In the days of Joe DiMaggio (790-BBs,369-Ks) and Ted Williams (2021-BBs,709-Ks) you would see these highly impressive numbers but if the superstar struck out more than he walked he most certainly did not get a raise or, even more startling, got a pay reduction. It was a tough go for those old-timers but I firmly believe their approach was appropriate.(Stan Musial's all-time strikeout to walk ratio was 1599-BBs to 696-K's. He's also the guy with the most incredible statistic ever, of his 3,630 hits, exactly 1815 were at home and 1815 were on the road. How about that!)

Just as Carl Reginald Smith was accurate in saying Gregor Blanco should be credited with a run batted in. He did his job even if two outs were made during his plate appearance. He wasn't butting heads with the establishment as to why they choose who they choose, he was just saying that the ground out double-play with less than two outs IS a productive out.

And if you look at current lists of batters who went deep more than the average player, but were players who didn't spend a whole lot of time in the majors
why don't these batters get a longer look? Bad glove, one-dimensional, just not meant-to-be, etc. See the following list, these guys didn't get much of a shot to excel at the major league level, despite their minor league totals.

Hector Espino, 484
Nelson Barrera, 479
Andres Mora, 444
Alejandro (Alex) Ortiz, 434
Buzz Arlett, 432
Nick Cullop, 420
Merv Connors, 400
Mike Hessman, 400

I just think productive at-bats always trumps the occasional long ball.

Kevin J. Marquez

Monday, January 26, 2015

Madison's 2014 Series was Fantastic but I Remember Lew Burdette in 1957

Let me clarify. I wasn't born yet but I read a heckuva lot about the game of baseball and this story piqued my interest as much as any other I have been fortunate enough to come across over the years.

In the 1957 World Series a pitcher by the name of Lew Burdette dominated the New York Yankees. For one year somebody other than the Bronx Bombers got to celebrate a World Series crown. (The Bombers would defeat the Braves the following year in the Series)

Burdette was originally signed by the New York Yankees but due to the depth of the Yankees roster he was dealt to the Boston Braves in 1951, along with $50,000 for pitcher Johnny Sain (the other guy with Warren Spahn who you prayed for rain when facing the tough Brave lefties).

Fast-forward to the 1957 and Burdette gets his shot at showing just how bad a mistake the Pinstripes made in dealing the Nitro, West Virginian.

In three games, he shutout the Yankees twice and one other time the Braves won 4-2, all complete games.

The first shutout was against World Series ace Whitey Ford, in which Burdette won 1-0 and in Game 7, subbing for Warren Spahn who had the flu, on 2 days' rest he shutout the Yankees 5-0. Naturally, he was named the Series Most Valuable Player.

Other things of note about Lew Burdette. He was the opposing pitcher in the game on May 26, 1959, when Harvey Haddix pitched a 12 inning perfect game. And although he yielded 12 hits he walked none and was able to pitch into the 13th inning when Joe Adcock hit a homer.

Burdette was forever fidgeting on the mound, wiping his brow, fussing with his cap and jersey and going to his lips, prompting the Braves' manager, Fred Haney, to remark, "Burdette would make coffee nervous." Those machinations, combined with the effectiveness of his breaking balls, brought accusations that he threw a spitter.

While denying that he wet the ball, Burdette said the suspicions helped him by distracting batters.

On a personal note, I always felt like the movie Rio Bravo used Burdette's name for the movie. John Wayne's character (John T. Chance) held Claude Akins (Joe Burdette), a worthless drunken thug, for murdering an unarmed man. Joe's brother Nathan owned a big chunk of the county. Wayne's only help was from Dean Martin (Dude/Borachon) his former deputy who spent the past two years stumbling around in a drunken stupor over a woman that left him.

In a list of characters: 15- bar fly's (all uncredited)
1- bar cowboy watching fistfight (uncredited)
3- henchman
Feathers- Angie Dickinson
Colorado Ryan- Ricky Nelson
Nathan Burdette- John Russell
Stumpy- Walter Brennan

"A small-town sheriff in the American West enlists the help of a cripple, a drunk, and a young gunfighter in his efforts to hold in jail the brother of the local bad guy."

Only in Hollywood. Unforgettable plot but the names, I believe, were borrowed sometimes from heroic ballplayers.

thanks to for my extensive research on this blurb.

Kevin J. Marquez