Yuni Betancourt’s resurgence

Yuni Betancourt was picked off the scrap heap by the Brewers near the end of Spring Training after injuries thinned the Brewer’s infield depth. He responded by having one of the best months of his career. He has been one of Milwaukee’s best run producers so far this season, and all this from a player no one else wanted.

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Carlos Gomez off to hot start

Many people, myself included, have thought that Carlos Gomez could turn himself into a very productive major league hitter. He has shown flashes, especially early in seasons before but never anything like this. He is batting over 100 points higher than his career average, and more importantly he is finally taking some walks. This, coupled with his usual stolen bases, has him off to a start that any Brewer fan would be thrilled with.

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Angels off to slow start

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim made quite a splash in free agency this year, signing Josh Hamilton to a huge money deal. This year’s signing comes on the tail of the signings of CJ Wilson and Albert Pujols before last season. Last year’s team under-performed as well, but the addition of Hamilton and the maturation of Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo was supposed to change that. It didn’t. Last night’s loss to the White Sox meant the Angels had accumulated 14 wins by May 12. Not a good start and the fans can’t be happy that the team management has payed so much to assemble is playing so badly.

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What is going on with Vernon Wells

Vernon Wells hit his ninth home run of the season last night for the Yankees. Yes that Vernon Wells, you know, the one the Angels grossly over paid for and the one that failed miserably to live up to that contract. With him, Lyle Overbay and Travis Hafner playing like their formers selves the Yankees are playing better than anyone expected with out stars Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Good for you Vernon. I hope you keepit up.

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Changing of the Guard on the Mound

The MLB has been trending toward the pitcher in the last few years, with an influx of no-hitters and perfect games.  These have come from established stars like Roy Halladay and Felix Hernandez and from young players who have under performed since, like Dallas Braden and Phillip Humber (who is well on his way to 20 losses this year). This year is no different and the pitchers just keep coming. Shelby Miller of the Cardinals and Matt Harvey of the Mets are having starts to their careers the likes of whichhavent been seen in a long time. And just last night Chris Sale threw a one-hitter, allowing no baserunners other than Mike Trout on a single in the seventh inning. Miller did something similar a couple days prior. Miller allowed a single to lead off the game against the Rockies and retired the next 27 batters. Matt Harvey has taken no-hitters deep into games several times this year.  These performances may not be as fun for fans who only go to the park for the longball, but for many baseball fans nothing is more exciting. Luckily for us, with the likes of Harvey, Miller, Sale and Stephen Strasberg these performances should be happening for a long time.

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MLB Pink Bat Sellout

Every year on Mother’s day some MLB players use pink bats and wear pink wristband or necklaces. It’s a nice way for the league to raise awareness and money (the bats are usually auctioned off) for breast cancer research. This year, however, the MLB signed a deal giving Louisville Slugger the exclusive rights to the pink bat. In the past players could use whatever brand bat they usually did but that is no longer the case. That’s not entirely true I guess, they can still use those bats but they can’t have ribbons or any brand marking on them. This upset several players and understandably so. The MLB Dora a lot of things well but they still think with their wallet too often.

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MLB Umpiring

MLB umpires have gotten a lot of heat lately, and rightly so. From Angel Hernandez’s missed call in Cleveland on what should have been a game tying home run for the Athletics to to the Rays having a game. en on a Joe Nathan pitch that barely stayed in the Ballpark in Arlington. With that said they are right almost every time and they should be acknowledged for that. Orel Hersheiser and John Kruk did a great job of that tonight when the umpire made the right call from the right position as Alexi Ramirez returned to first on a fly ball on Sunday night baseball.

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Minor league Ball

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Took in a little action from the stars of tomorrow (kind of, the River Bandits are an Astros farm team).  Modern Woodman Park in Davenport, Iowa is picturesque and Minor League ball is always fun for me. Not much of a picture but it will have to do.

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Carl Hubbell, the Giants’ giant slayer

Carl Hubbell may not be a household name like Walter Johnson or Cy Young but he is a hall of famer, and he accumulated more than 250 wins while keeping his career ERA under 3. Also, he turned in one of the most impressive feats a hurler has ever accomplished in the 1934 All-Star Game.

1934 was quite a year for Carl Hubbell.  He led the National League in ERA (2.30) Wins (25) and Saves (8). He was named an All-Star that year, as he was eight other times in his career.  And what he did in that All-Star Game is the stuff of legend.  Hubbell was named the starter for that game and he took the hill in familiar territory, the Polo Grounds, home of Hubbell’s New York Giants.  His day got off to a pedestrian start, a single to Chas Gehringer and a walk to Heinie Manush, but he settled in to say the least.  After the walk to Manush, Hubbell struck out Babe Ruth, no small feat as Ruth never had a 100 strikeout season.  After Ruth came the Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig, Hubbell struck him out too (Gehrig never struck out more than 84 times in a single season).  The story was the same when Jimmie Foxx came to the plate with 2 out.  Hubbell struck out the side in the first in spectacular fashion; three of the most feared hitters in the history of the game.  Hubbell was not finished though, he started the second by striking out Al Simmons and completed his feat by fanning Joe Cronin.  That’s five hall of famers in a row, that was never done before Hubbell, and it hasn’t been done since.

How about some statistical context:

Babe Ruth may have been at the end of his career in 1934, but that career is likely the best a hitter has ever had.  Though he only hit .288 in 1934 he was a career .342 hitter, good for 10th all-time.  Ruth is also first all-time in career WAR.

Lou Gehrig had one of the best offensive seasons of all time in 1934.  He won the American League triple crown that year, batting .363, hitting 49 HR and compiling 165 RBI.  He did all that while striking out just 31 times in 690 plate appearances.  Gehrig somehow finished 5th in AL MVP voting that year.

Jimmie Foxx was not too far behind Gehrig in ’34 he batted .334 with 44 HR and 130 RBI.  Foxx also only struck out 75 times in 652 plate appearances.

Al Simmons was also a tremendous average hitter, hitting .344 in 1934 and striking out 58 times in 613 plate appearances.

Joe Cronin had a strange statistical year in 1934.  He struck out just 28 times all year but he hit only .284, making his batting average on balls in play remarkably low, but that is beside the point.  He was one of the toughest men in the American League to strike out that year.

On July 10, 1934 Hubbell struck out 5 batters in a row with a combined 2,218 HR,  9,386 RBI and all of whom batted over.300 for their career. All but Cronin batted over .325 for their career.

Hubbell was no slouch, he struck out 1677 batters in his Hall of Fame career, but none were more impressive than those 5 in a row in the ’34 All-Star Game.

One last fun note on the game, 17 of the 18 starters in the 1934 All-Star game are in the Baseball Hall of Fame, with Wally Berger being the only exception.

(The cards are from my collection, hence the terrible condition)

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Steve

Stats gathered at http://www.baseball-reference.com/

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Costas bites Luda’s rhyme

Like Costas, I too don’t condone the actions described in the lyric. With that said, this is one of the greatest moments in baseball history.

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