Saturday, February 25, 2017


Can the Cubs Do it Again?
Now that they’ve broken baseball’s longest standing curse, there are plenty of people wondering if it’s going to be another hundred years before the Cubs capture a World Series title. This seems highly unlikely. The team is relatively young and last year’s roster remains intact (for the most part). Power-hitting prospect Kyle Schwarber is expected to fill the hole left by the departure of center fielder Dexter Fowler. Aside from that, there are few question marks this year. Have no fear Wrigley Field faithful! The Cubs should definitely contend again in 2017.

Baseball’s New Loveable Losers
The Cleveland Indians have taken over as major league baseball’s longest suffering franchise. They’re on a roll with four consecutive World Series losses dating back to 1954. The last time the Indians emerged victorious in a Fall Classic, Harry Truman was President and the cost of a new car was just over $1,200.  But there’s reason to be optimistic. Like the Cubs, the defending American League champions are a young team with an intact roster. In fact, they look even better this year with Andrew Miller anchoring the bullpen and Edwin Encarnacion signed as a DH. Carlos Santana will take over for Mike Napoli (lost to free agency) at first base and the transition should be seamless. Not only is Santana a decent fielder, but he reached career-high marks in nearly every offensive category last year.  The Tribe will almost certainly have another good run in 2017.

Pujols Securing His Legacy
With sixteen years of major league service behind him, Albert Pujols has distinguished himself as one of the greatest hitters of a generation. This year, he is poised to join the 600 home run club—a milestone reached by only eight other players before him (three of which have been linked to steroids). Another 100 RBI campaign will tie Pujols with Alex Rodriguez for the most seasons reaching the century mark (14).  

Beltre’s Quiet Ascension to Greatness
One of the best players no one ever talks about, Beltre needs 58 more base hits to join the 3,000 hit club. Barring a major injury or statistical collapse, he should also reach 600 career doubles and 1,500 runs scored. Those numbers compare favorably to every third basemen currently in the Hall of Fame. Additionally, Beltre will be going for his sixth Gold Glove—a feat matched by only six other players at his position.

The Ageless Wonder
In November, right-hander Bartolo Colon signed a one-year contract with the Atlanta Braves worth over $12 million. It will be interesting to see if he has anything left in the tank. At forty-three, the Dominican control specialist is the oldest player in the major leagues. 10 more wins in 2017 will tie him with Hall of Famer Juan Marichal. 15 victories will move him into the top fifty of all time behind Cooperstown incumbents Vic Willis and Bob Gibson. Colon is a savvy player and has developed a sense of humor about himself that is contagious. It’s fun to root for the old guys!

Monday, February 6, 2017


 In the early part of the twentieth century, only four pitchers reached the 20-win mark while playing for last place teams.

1901- Noodles Hahn Cincinnati Reds (22-19)

1918- Scott Perry Philadelphia A’s (20-19)

1923- Howard Ehmke  Philadelphia A’s (20-17)

1924- Sloppy Thurston White Sox (20-14)

In 1951, Ned Garver pulled off the impossible, becoming the first and only pitcher to post 20 wins for a club that lost more than 100 games. He accomplished this unusual feat while playing for the lowly St. Louis Browns. At the time, the Browns were owned by Bill Veeck, a self-proclaimed “hustler” who often resorted to wild publicity stunts in order to draw fans to the ballpark. In his most famous gag, Veeck sent a 3-foot-7 circus performer named Eddie Gaedel to the plate to face Tigers hurler Bob Cain. Ned Garver was the Browns’ most reliable pitcher in 1951 and Veeck knew it. “There was almost nothing Ned could do to get knocked out of a game short of allowing ten runs in the first inning,” Veeck remarked in his 1962 autobiography. “We’d take him out then so we could start him again in a day or two.”

 Highly durable, Garver worked at least ten innings in a game on seventeen occasions. A finesse pitcher, he used various arm slots to produce an assortment of curve balls and sliders. He was an excellent hitter, compiling a .258 batting average and .328 on-base percentage over portions of five seasons with the Browns. In 1951, he put forth his finest all around effort, hitting .305 with 5 extra-base hits and 10 RBIs. By the All-Star break, he had won 11 games. In stark contrast, the Browns had lost 52 and were sitting 25 games out of first place. Despite the lackluster play of his teammates, Garver had 15 wins to his credit by the end of August. Under strict orders from Bill Veeck, St. Louis manager Zack Taylor started Garver every fourth day and left him on the mound for as long as possible. Garver made 8 starts in September and was the pitcher of record in all of them. From September 7 through September 30, he logged 6 consecutive complete games, leading the league in that category for the second year in a row. On the last day of the season, he gave up 11 hits and 2 walks to the White Sox yet still managed to record his twentieth win. The Browns finished with a 52-102 record. 

 In August of '52, Garver was traded to the Tigers in a deal involving eight players. He finished with double digit win totals five more times before retiring. Because he spent the majority of his career with lackluster clubs, he posted a lifetime .451 winning percentage. During his time in St. Louis, he accounted for 22 percent of the team's total victories.