Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Shoebox Superstar - Lou Brock

1964 Topps #29
Lou Brock – Chicago Cubs

On the back of the card:
In Lou's first year in the minors, he led the Northern League in runs, hits, doubles and batting. His explosive bat quickly earned him a shot with the Cubs. Noted for this speed on the bases, the outfielder swiped 16 bases as a rookie.

One of the most infamous deadline trades in history, the Broglio-Brock transaction between the St Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs, will always live in infamy for most Cubs fans mostly for its “lopsided” nature.

It was definitely a “steal” for the Cardinals, but lopsided?

Before the trade, Brock was a 2-plus-year outfielder for the Cubs who had barely stolen 50 bases yet was batting around .257 with an OBP of about .300 from 1962 until the trade deadline in 1964. Ernie Broglio was a 21 game winner with an ERA of 2.74 and was a Cy Young candidate in 1960, coming off of an 18-win 2.99 ERA season in 1963.

The Cubs were originally thought to have gotten the better end of the deal. The Cardinals were barely scratching .500 in the division before the trade, afterwards…well, damn, I think everyone knows about Brock, Broglio, and the other dugout fodder involved in the transaction, but let’s review the nuggets just one more time courtesy of daveyball.com

Lopsided though? Sure that’s what history tells us, and history is pretty much spot on about what we know happened. Could Brock have been such an asset to the Cubs? Maybe so – even Ron Santo felt like he could have, but I’m not so sure. Something seemed to light up for Brock immediately after smelling that sweet St. Looie air and once he had the opportunity to frolic in the most large cement confines of the ol’ Busch Stadium. In his first 15 games with the Cardinals, his line was .364, 7HR, and 17RBI – in his entire 1963 season as a Cub, he hit 9HR and 37RBI. Let’s face it, being a Cub just wasn’t working out for Lou.

Did Lou play a big part in the Cardinals’ 1964 and 1967 World Series campaigns? Sure he did. Would it have been the Cubs there instead, if Lou had stayed? I really don’t think so. But we will never know, will we?

What I like best about this card, besides the less-than-subtle reminder of how fragile the Cubs’ chances for winning have always seemed to be since 1908, with or without guys like Lou Brock, is that the original owner was thoughtful enough to update this card after the trade…look closely, you can see the crossing out of “CUBS" and the well-rounded penciling in of “cardinals” by one who today is probably at least 10 years my senior:

Life is good...

We will never know if Lou Brock would have made it better.

Eien no tomodachi,

Monday, May 30, 2011

5/30/11 Games Posted UPDATE

In case you missed some updated games I've scored and posted recently, here's a recap:

4/1/11 Los Angeles Angels @ Kansas City Royals
Kila Ka-aihue's walk off win (my voodoo dance works!)...

4/8/11 Chicago Cubs @ Milwaukee Brewers
The Cubs visit "Wrigley North" for the first time in the 2011 season and face you-know-who. And if you don't know who you-know-who is, then don't worry, Len and Bob will keep reminding you and I really just wish they would stop it.

4/23/11 Los Angeles Dodgers @ Chicago Cubs
Double Stealing, Castro and Barney Show highlights, and some scorekeeping notes on "obstruction" calls...WOW!!

4/23/11 Kansas City Royals @ Texas Rangers Oh Gosh, Oh Gee...the Rangers...

4/24/11 Omaha Storm Chasers @ Nashville Sounds
Zack Greinke runs laps, pitches 2 innings of rehab baseball...great photos by Gage Matthews!!

5/3/11 Chicago Cubs @ Los Angeles Dodgers
Carlos Peña's first HR as a Cub!!

5/10/11 Vanderbilt Commodores @ Louisville Cardinals
Check out my first college game ever; the #1 team in the country against another very good team; I took a buttload of photos. Pitchers galore!!

5/14/11 Buffalo Bisons @ Louisville Bats
The Casual Fan meets the Baseball Enthusiast...Dontrelle Willis is an aggressive baserunner!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

5/29/11 Pittsburgh Pirates 2, Chicago Cubs 3

Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL
Game 3 of 3

Yes, the Pirates continue to pwn the Cubs in 2011, but the good news here is ”Yes, Virginia, there is an Aramis Ramirez…” and he can hit Home Runs now and then.

“Cubs Nemesis” Neil Walker remained more silent than usual, with the Pirates’ sole source of offense being Lyle Overbay’s 1st inning 2RBI double (following back-to-back bases on balls by Ryan Dempster). This early inning dump would be the only time in the game the Pirates would score.

Walker does hit safely in his 15th straight Cubs game in the 6th inning…he is still CUBS NEMESIS Neil Walker.

Fortunately, the Cubs responded quickly with 2 more runs in the 2nd inning, incited by Aramis’ lead-off solo shot…his first HR since April 6th of this year. It was a BEAUTY.

Starlin Castro is a fantastic shortstop. Watch this amazing defensive play as he charges a wobbly ground ball to assist in the second out of the top of the 9th with one on and one out.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

5/28/11 Cincinnati Reds 6, Atlanta Braves 7

Turner Field, Atlanta, GA
Game 2 of 3

Image borrowed from Talking Chop blog

Extra-innings mayhem in Atlanta!! No pitching duel story here…both starters chocked early and left early, leaving the bullpen to restrain the offensive blasts from both sides of the field.

This was my first real look at Jonny Venters, who was amazing despite the fact that in this outing he allowed his first hit in 47 batters faced. Venters has a significant amount of movement in his pitches, I was truly in awe.

Louisville Bats pitcher Jeremy Horst makes his MLB debut for the reds, working 2.2 innings, allowing 2 hits and 1 earned run (a Brian McCann HR). That being said, he can pitch to Chipper Jones!!

McCann had a great game, with 2HR and 4 RBI…but the real stud tonight was the old guy most baseball fans love to hate.

In the bottom of the 12th inning, with the score still locked at 6-6, Carlos Fisher walks the first two batters (Schafer and Prado) and Chipper Jones enters the box…Fox commentators Thom Brenneman (ugh) and Eric Karros comment that Jones has 11 career walk-off wins. Jones takes the first pitch outside, the next pitch is drilled into right field and just like that…Chipper Jones now has 12 career walk-off wins.


Friday, May 27, 2011

5/27/11 Camden Riversharks 3, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs 7

Regency Furniture Stadium, Waldorf, MD
Game 1 of 3

Michael Schalct has been pitching very well for the Blue Crabs…today he earned his first W.

A very nice outing by Schlact, plus some formidable run support from his fellow Blue Crabs, frames this exciting game that was nearly doomed by the rain (AGAIN).

Brandon Pinckney, Yunesky Sanchez, and Travis Garcia led the offensive charge for the Blue Crabs; knocking in 2 runs apiece with HRs during a ferocious 2nd inning outburst that left Riversharks starting pitcher Christopher Mason a little bit more than sore. Casey Benjamin homered on his own with a 1-out solo shot in the 5th, also off Mason.

Schlacht, in the meantime, worked 6 solid innings, only getting touched for 5 hits and 2 earned runs, walking two, striking out two, and putting up 10 ground-outs on the board. Schlacht also assisted in an extremely unusual pick-off of Drew Macias on third base as Macias left the bag early on what would have been a Sacrifice by Brian Burgamy. Excellent putout, sir…that’s what I call excellent defensive pitching!!

As usual, I watched this on the IBN Sports Network via the Blue Crabs landing page, the game was called by Josh Caray (who is still one of my favorite announcers…if you are reading this Josh, keep up the good work!!).

Many of you may already be following Schlact on Twitter (@michael_schlact), there are other Blue Crabs on Twitter as well: Catcher Christian Lopez (@ChristianL5) and OF Richard Giannotti (@JustMeGee). Just a reminder, please read check out Schlact’s MLBlog as well.

If you haven’t been paying any attention to Independent League Baseball, well…why not? You can watch any games (home and away) on the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs homepage…the schedule is posted here with links to box scores and game recaps. FREE BASEBALL IS GOOD, and the Blue Crabs are a great team to follow to get started!!!

The Blue Crabs are doing very well this year…congratulations, and especially hats off to Mr Schlact on his first W for the team!!

Blue Crabs 3B Travis Garcia at bat, RF Ben Harrison on deck

Christopher Mason on the mound for the Riversharks, delivers the HR ball to Travis Garcia

Ladies and Gentlemen, baseball fans everywhere…I present to you the thrilling “Michael Schlact Pitching Sequence”!!!

Riversharks RF Ruddy Yan faces Charlie Manning in the 7th inning

Swingandamiss! ”He got ‘im!!”

Charlie Manning fires to Riversharks CF Drew Macias

Blue Crabs 1B Ryan Mulhern at bat

Blue Crabs LF Casey Benjamin at bat

LHP John Bale on the mound in relief for the Riversharks…only 2 years ago I saw Bale pitch in relief during his brief stint as a Kansas City Royal in this game (from the BIL Tour) against the visiting Cleveland Indians!

Riversharks C Raul Padron at bat, facing Steve Palazzolo

Hey Hey!! Blue Crabs C Christian Lopez is on deck(and probably chewing gum)

John Bale delivers to Blue Crabs 2B Brandon Pinckney

Blue Crabs PH/CF Jeremy Owens (he replaced Richard Giannotti, who left the game after the 1st inning, in the lineup, batting 2nd)


5/27/11 Pittsburgh Pirates 4, Chicago Cubs 2

Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL
Game 1 of 3

A sad footnote to the Doug Davis Series...his 300th career appearance, his 280th MLB start, and another forgettable performance...

However, a rather startlingly remarkable one from Kevin Correia.  The buccos nearly shut the Cubs out, and would have if not for a 9th inning 2-run blast from Alfonso Soriano off of reliever Joe Beimel.  The Pirates give the ball to Joel Hanrahan, who strikes out the side to end the game, sad trombone.

5/27/11 RSS Feed Favorites, with DECAF

The Return of the OSAKA TIGERS?!?

“Focus on these GREAT SOCKS!!”

Today's pick o' the RSS Feed, going DECAF today for the weekend...

NPB Tracker:
2011 Uniform Roundup, Volume 1 by Patrick Newman
First of a two installment semi-annual review of NPB uniforms so far, check out the assortment of alternate and throwback unis this season…of course, my favorite are the Hanshin Tigers, are you surprised? Those socks, when I first saw them (thanks, Tug!), made me want to sing "Rokko Oroshi" on the spot!!

Kings of Kauffman:
Luke Hochevar: An Infographic by Gage Matthews
This post was my main reason for even doing RSS favorites today, as I actually have other things to do this morning but just had to share this…I really really like Luke Hochevar, when he loses it I am often reminded of the pain I used to feel when Carlos Zambrano would have one of his “bad days” back in 2008 and 2009…before anger management and his amazing and consistent performance since then. But I digress…I am not a fan of printing these things, but I feel obligated to keep a copy of this in my scorekeeping clipboard so it’s handy for games Hochevar is pitching, that way I can understand his tendencies…especially the ones that are pushing my stomach through a paper shredder…

Enjoy your weekend…I’m still getting caught up at updating posts of games I’ve scored, look for a recap soon.

Eien no tomodachi,

Thursday, May 26, 2011

5/26/11 New York Mets 3, Chicago Cubs 9

Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL
Game 3 of 3

Tony Campana's first MLB start, Kosuke Fukudome's first HR of the season.  R.A. Dickey leaves the game early, injured on his way to cover 1B on a play, and Pedro Beato gives the Cubs an early lead by allowing 4 ER in 1.1 innings pitched.

5/26/11 RSS Feed Favorites, with Coffee


Photo by Tug Haines

Today's pick o' the RSS Feed, with a substantial dose of caffeine...

Beyond the Box Score:
How Do Ultimate Base Runs and Equivalent Base Running Runs Compare? by Chris St. John
More fun on the basepaths…I mean it, really! Starting 5/24/11, Fangraphs is adding UBR (Ultimate Base Runs), Baseball Prospectus uses EQBRR (Equivalent Base Running Runs)…so what in the heck is the difference and why in the heck should you care?

Mike Quade and the “two to one” finger thing by Tim Souers
So…what do you think? And BTW, how about them throwback unis? Do you think I can get a Lou Montañez jersey in this style at Wrigleyville Sports
…or no?

Joe Blogs:
Splitt by Joe Posnanski
Joe remembers Paul Splittorff, who died yesterday…

Old Time Family Baseball:
Wilson Valdez may have been brought in to pitch the top of the…
You need to know…fun facts about the Reds @ Phillies 19-inning mayhemic contest from yesterday, 5/25/11

The Greatest 21 Days:
Mike Loggins, Learned French - 187 by Steve78
The part about learning French comes from a statement made by then-Arkansas Razorbacks-freshman Mike Loggins’ assessment of the famous outfield wall at the original George Cole Field, read about the rest of this future Omaha Royal’s career...

Tug Haines: Casual Fan:
BRYCE HARPER by Tug Haines
Tug is taking a few days off…this post was from Monday, but hey…enjoy this wisdom regarding Bryce and his performance during this game!! Do you think you've heard the last word on Bryce Harper? No, you haven't...

Eien no tomodachi,

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Paul Splittorff 1946-2011

Splitt is gone. He confirmed the extent of his illness just last week, and very much like Harmon Killebrew before him, passed so quickly we hardly had a chance to consider the man and his career.

Paul Splittorff was born in Evansville, IN, attended Morningside College in Sioux City, IA, and pitched for the Kansas City Royals for his entire career, 1970-1984. Splitt retired with a 166-143 win-loss record and career 3.81 ERA over 2554.2 innings pitched during his 15 seasons as a Royal and is well-known as “the winningest pitcher” in Royals history.

Splittorff wasn’t the snazziest pitcher in the Royal ‘pen, but his presence was unforgettable. His icy stare as he struck out opposing batters could stop deadly lava flow instantly. He was a solid craftsman with a true heart of gold, one of the hardest working pitchers I can think of…he didn’t have heat but he had a trunk full of uff-da and was adept at using any of his pitches and excellent command when he needed to. He was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame in 1987.

You can revisit Splitt’s 3.2 IP in relief of Dennis Leonard during the 1976 ALCS Game 5 here

Splittorff was great in the broadcast booth, I enjoyed his appearances during pre- and post-game shows as well as during games…even after his voice became slurred, apparently due to his illness. He always seemed like he was actively living the part of being one of the nicest people on earth.
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