201 pitches

That’s how many pitches were thrown by 42-year-old Warren Spahn 53 years ago today. Willie Mays homered on Spahn’s 201st to break a scoreless tie. In the bottom of the 16th.

“He ought to will his body to medical science,” said Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell, who was in attendance at Candlestick Park for the epic duel won by Juan Marichal, who threw 227 pitches. But he was just 25.

Marichal was scheduled to bat third that inning. (Orlando) Cepeda later recalled the moment in a 1998 memoir. Manager Alvin Dark asked Marichal if he had had enough. Cepeda remembered Marichal barking at Dark, “A 42-year-old man is still pitching. I can’t come out!”4 Dark accepted — or was startled into acceptance by Marichal’s ardor — and let him bat. Marichal flied out to complete the inning, and the game pushed forward.

Seven Hall of Famers appeared in the game. The Cooperstown-bound moundsmen fared best; Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Mays, Willie McCovey and Cepeda were a combined 4-for-26 against Marichal and Spahn.

Five days later, Spahn — did I mention he was 42 — shut out the Houston Colt .45s. Naturally, he went the distance

Atlanta Braves Outfielder Rico Carty

Peculiar oversights in #Braves HOF

No offense to Don Sutton, but is he really more deserving of a berth in the Braves Hall than Andruw, McGriff, Joe Torre, Rico Carty and Leo Mazzone?

Andruw hit 368 homers for the  Braves and is the best defender in team history. McGriff belongs in Cooperstown, and the best years of his long career were spent in Atlanta, posting a .885 OPS over five years. Torre hit .294 with 142 homers in 9 years with the Braves, then managed them to respectability and a division title in the early 1980s. In 8 years with the Bravos Carty hit .317 with a .388 OBP and .496 slugging percentage. And Mazzone was ranked as the best assistant coach in any sport by ESPN.

Sutton was once an informative analyst but more often than not seems to be mailing it in, wallowing in a forced folksiness that some mistake for “colorful.” He’s not in the class of Skip, Pete and Ernie, not even close.

And it’s not like there’s plenty of other options. You could make persuasive cases for TP and Bob Horner as well. But not Sutton.


Maddux and Glavine, in bullets

  • Even though strikeouts were not his bread and butter, Maddux had more K’s (181) in 1995  than hits and walks combined en route to his fourth consecutive Cy Young.
  • Mad Dog didn’t make it past the 4th inning in 2 of his first 5 starts as a Brave in 1993.  He pitched at least 5 innings in every start that followed through Sept. 10, ’95, when he was lifted early due to a minor injury.
  • Glavine averaged 3.1 BB/9 IP over his career, contributing to a WHIP a little higher than most HOF pitchers. But in his second season, a 23-year-old Glavine walked only 40 in 186 innings, good for a 1.140 WHIP — second only to his 1.097 WHIP in ’91.
  • Tommy G. and Ron Gant were nearly traded to Boston in the late 1980s for Mike Greenwell. The deal was nixed when Bobby refused to include Kent Mercker.
  • You know he was smart. But did you know Glavine had been accepted to Harvard after high school. He chose the Braves over the Crimson — not to mention the L.A. Kings.
  • Add three more innings over two seasons and Maddux would have 20 seasons of 200 or more IP
  • From July 31, 1993, through August 4, 1995, Mad Dog had 56 quality starts in 57 games pitched.
  • Maddux and Glavine weren’t taken until the second round of the 1984 draft, Glav was selected 16 picks after Mad Dog. The Braves took Drew Denson in the first round that year; the Cubs, Drew Hall. Also chosen ahead of the HOF’ers: Shawn Abner, Cory Snyder, Alan Cockrell, Oddibe McDowell, Pete Smith,  Terry Mulholland, Scott Bankhead and Mike Dunne.
  • In May 2001, a 35-year-old Maddux became the first pitcher since 1919 to record two 1-0 complete game shutouts in the same month.
  • In a game that lasted 2:07, Mad Dog threw just 76 pitches in a complete game victory over the Cubs.
  • Glavine completed three of his first four World Series starts. In 58.1 career Fall Classic innings, he allowed just 33 hits.
  • Right-handed batters had a .697 OPS vs. Glavine; lefties, .696.
  • Maddux had a .0936 WHIP in his 355 wins.
  • Mad Dog at Fulco: 38-15-2.33 ERA, 0.949 WHIP; at Turner Field: 72-31-2.68, 1.083 WHIP.



On Mad Dog’s curious decision to go no logo

I’ll never criticize Mad Dog. It’s surprising he chose not to be inducted as Brave, for whom he toiled 11 years. But he was a Cub for 10 years, so let’s not minimize his attachment to the team that drafted him.

And it was the Cubs, not the Braves, who hired Mad Dog as a special adviser after his career was over. The Braves didn’t seem interested in tapping a baseball mind second to none. Could that have played a role in his decision?

Maybe. As we’ve seen with Glavine and Smoltz, the current regime has a habit of pissing off the franchise’s greatest stars.

In other news today the Brewers signed Matt Garza and the Rays brought Grant Balfour back to Tampa. And the Gavin Floyd signing looks less inspired by the day.

Will this shitty winter ever end?


Rowland’s HOF ballot, or why ESPN’s Ian O’Connor (and MLB’s Ken Gurnick) shouldn’t have one

UPDATE: Ken Gurnick, who covers the Dodgers for MLB, had only one name on his HOF ballot: Jack Morris, probably the least worthy  candidate. His reasoning:

Morris has flaws — a 3.90 ERA, for example. But he gets my vote for more than a decade of ace performance that included three 20-win seasons, Cy Young Award votes in seven seasons and Most Valuable Players votes in five. As for those who played during the period of PED use, I won’t vote for any of them.


Of the 17 HOF voters employed by ESPN, O’Connor was the only one not to vote for Tom Glavine. But he did vote for Jack Morris, who had 51 fewer wins,  2 less Cy Young Awards and an ERA nearly one-third a run higher.

Oh, but he was great in Game 7 of the ’91 World Series. True, but outside of that series he was a pedestrian October hurler in fewer appearances, with an ERA exactly one-half a run higher.

Glavine’s performance in Game 6 of the ’95 World Series may have been better, considering he allowed but one hit to a line-up in which Manny Ramirez batted 6th, followed by Jim Thome. The second best left-handed pitcher ever to wear a Braves uniform had a lower ERA in the playoffs than in the regular season, and in the Fall Classic few were better.

Glavine completed 3 of 8 World Series starts for a 2.16 ERA. He allowed just 33 hits in 58.1 IP. Yes, he walked 20, but a WHIP below 1.00, in the World Series, is about as impressive as it gets.

Curt Schilling’s October heroics are a big reason why he’s on my ballot — 11-2, 2.23 ERA in 133 innings is sustained excellence on the biggest stage. His 3.46 ERA and 1.137 WHIP, during the steroid-era, is also Hall-worthy.

Rowland doesn’t vote for cheats; after all, the HOF is a privilege, not a right. So no Bonds or Clemens on my ballot.

For those with lingering questions about their possible use of PEDs, there’s no law saying they have to get in Cooperstown now. Better to keep Bagwell and Piazza waiting then finding out in a year or so that, yes, they were indeed dirty.

No one thinks that about Fred McGriff, who shouldn’t be victimized by the inflated numbers of his peers. Not that his numbers were weak; the Crime Dog hit more homers and drove in more runs than Bagwell.

McGriff’s average season: 32 homers, 102 RBI, .377 OBP and a .509 slugging percentage. And in 188 postseason AB’s, the Crime Dog batted .303, with 10 homers and 37 RBI, good for a .917 OPS (.989 in 12 World Series games).

Anyone with 3,000 hits deserves induction, so Biggio makes my cut. But Tim Raines, the second-best lead-off hitter in modern history, is even more worthy.

So is Edgar Martinez, who had a career .312 BA, .418 OBP and .515 slugging percentage. Needless to say Frank Thomas, Martinez with better power, gets in, along with some guy named Maddux.

Mussina and Alan Trammell are near-misses.

My ballot:

  • Maddux
  • Glavine
  • Thomas
  • Raines
  • Biggio
  • Schilling
  • Edgar Martinez
  • McGriff

Bobby in the HOF

We assume Mad Dog and Glavine will join him. And, perhaps, Pete Van Wieren in the broadcaster’s wing.

Another former Brave player and manager, Joe Torre, was unanimously voted in by the Veteran’s Committee, as was Tony LaRussa, who played nine games at second base for the ’71 Bravos.

Speed is to steroids as pot is to heroin

Ken Davidoff of the New York Post is an idiot, as evidenced in this exchange with John Schuerholz.

KD : I have one question, one challenging question for you. You know how much I respect you, but one thing I’ve read that irks me a little. I think you’ve had some ceremonies where the team introduces Hank Aaron as “The real home run king” or “The true home run king.” Am I right on that?

JS : Yeah.

KD : Are you OK with that? Is that your domain?

JS : Listen. If you were in Atlanta and you worked for our organization, you would feel the same way. He’s without dispute, people in baseball would look at him as the guy they say is the quote-unquote real home run champion. There’s no questions about how he hit his home runs.

KD : But he admitted to using amphetamines . He used illegal PEDs, just like Bonds did.

JS : I’m not going to make a big deal out of this. He is for us the real home run champion. It’s our view. He’s our home run king. It’s our opinion. And we honor him for that. And I’m not going to stop saying it about him.

Good for JS, though I wish he had said, “Listen, moron. No one ever hit the ball further by taking greenies. Hank didn’t have the best seasons of his career after his 35th birthday, when Bonds, who hit a HR every 16.1 AB’s, began hitting them every 8.5 AB’s (from ’99-’04). Nor did he undergo an unprecedented growth spurt more than 20 years after puberty.

From “Game of Shadows”:

For his part, [equipment manager Mike] Murphy could document Bonds’ physical changes via the changes in his uniform size. Since joining the Giants, Bonds had gone from a size 42 to a size 52 jersey; from size 10 ½ to size 13 cleats; and from a size 7 1/8 to size 7 ¼ cap, even though he had taken to shaving his head. The changes in his foot and head size were of special interest: medical experts said overuse of Human Growth Hormone could cause an adult’s extremities to begin growing.

Regrettably, such false equivalences are repeated as gospel by many in the sabermetrics crowd, baseball’s version of the tea party.

Witness these insipid comments on Hardball Talk, which addressed the Davidoff Q&A:

Holy smokes, [JS} completely handwaves away the fact that Aaron did essentially what Bonds did. That’s some amazing cognitive dissonance. He’d make a great politician.

Why is Greg Maddux a first ballot hall of famer? Is he 100% clean? Really? How do you know that? If Maddux gets in, then Clemens and Bonds have to get in since they failed the same # of drug tests as Maddux…zero.

I demand scientific proof from you that steroids makes you hit a ball farther. That is my challenge to you. Do you accept? Yes or No.

It’s difficult arguing facts with people who chose to ignore them.

Now, as for the effects of speed, have you ever seen a big meth addict? Speed, or greenies, don’t build body mass. Those making the comparison frame the argument as one of morality, or legality. That’s irrelevant. I’m opposed to Bonds’ induction into the Hall because he used artificial means to create an unfair advantage, not because he broke the rules.

Conflating greenies with steroids is willful ignorance, and to what end? To ensure the enshrinement of known cheaters?

Rowland’s HOF ballot: Part I, the Jon Shibleys

As in, “the biggest no-brainers in the history of Earth.”

1. Tim Raines. All the things the stat geeks say about the Hall voters regarding PED’s is true when it comes to Raines’ candidacy. The difference is that morality has nothing to with steroids — its performance enhancement. Cocaine didn’t make Raines a better player.

There’s no other reason to exclude Raines, who’s overshadowed by Rickey Henderson though the disparity between the two isn’t that great.

Raines: .294 BA, .385 OBP, .425 slugging, 123 OPS+ 808 SB, 146 CS, 2605 hits

Rickey: .279, .401 OBP, .419 slugging, 127 OPS+, 1406 SB, 335 CS, 3055 hits

Rickey is the best lead-off hitter ever, but Raines was a slightly better hitter with a tad more pop. Just being the conversation with Rickey merits induction.

2. Craig Biggio. The 3060 hits should be enough. The stellar defense, .363 OBP and 414 SB make him a no-brainer. His case requires as little defense as I’m giving it.

Next, the should-be’s.



PED apologists violate their own liturgy

Familiar language from ESPN’s Christina Kahrl, who claims the HOF is already compromised by PEDs.

I mean, c’mon, no Mike Schmidt or Hank Aaron in the Hall of Fame? By their own admission they broke the same baseball rule on the books that Bonds did, and they did so for the same reason — to enhance their performance.

She’s talking about amphetamines, which were once doled out like Morrison’s peppermints in most, if not all, of baseball clubhouses. That doesn’t make it right, but they weren’t consumed in the shadows. Eddie Mathews wasn’t snorting lines with Hank in a toilet stall, for instance, a la Canseco injecting McGwire. Greenies didn’t give one player a significant advantage over another.

Besides, it’s ridiculous to compare the banned substances.  The proof is in the stats, yet the apologists ignore the evidence. Perhaps because it totally destroys their argument.

What else explains Bonds’ production in the twilight of his career? Bonds’ lowest OPS, in four seasons from ages 36-39, was 1.278. His highest OPS in the prime of his career, from ages 26-29: 1.136. He had 69 more homers from ages 36-39.

Fortunately, someone else crunched the numbers typically required by the statistically obsessed.

Below are the top 15 OWPs of all time, regardless of age. Before 2001, no player had reached .924, Bonds’ OWP for the whole period that covers ages 36-39. Notice how unusual it is for someone aged 36-39 to have such a great OWP. It appears that no one has aged as well as Bonds.







Barry Bonds





Barry Bonds





Barry Bonds





Mickey Mantle





Babe Ruth





Fred Dunlap





Ted Williams





Barry Bonds





Babe Ruth





Babe Ruth





Ted Williams





Babe Ruth





Ted Williams





Pete Browning





Babe Ruth




Dare I mention the freakish guns and engorged head?

Apparently none of this is sufficient proof for the likes of Kahrl, who writes of “the purported performance-enhancing benefits of PEDs.”

This from the group that sneers at those who ignore the irrefutable evidence found in the numbers.

Does anyone besides Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens want to see their HOF induction speech?

Outside of Suzyn Waldman, that is.

Otherwise, who’s going to make the trek to Cooperstown to see two unrepentant frauds take their place among baseball’s greatest players. (Yes, there are some genuine louts in the HOF, and other players who probably shouldn’t be there, but why add more?)

Can you imagine a more soulless induction ceremony? Actually, you can, granted you were among the masochists who watched Barry Bonds break baseball’s greatest record. I wasn’t watching and, if I’ve even seen a replay I’ve forgotten it — out of sight, out of mind. Without looking it up, do you even know the name of the pitcher who gave up No. 756? Or what team he pitched for/

(Mike Bacsik of the Nats, for the record.)

The Hammer was more gracious than he should have been, offering videotaped congratulations. But he didn’t watch.

A woman who answered the phone at Aaron’s home in Georgia shortly after Bonds’ homer said that Aaron was asleep.


Tonight’s reading assignment

Terrific column by ESPN.com’s Howard Bryant — so good he almost makes up for Rick Reilly — on this year’s Hall of Fame balloting. Much to recommend here, particularly this excerpt:

[B]ecause of the steroid era, the baseball writers are going to guess who deserves enshrinement based on who had big muscles or who had a suspicious career year. Thus, goes the thinking, the system must change. It is a disdainful mindset that doesn’t just miss the bull’s-eye, but the entire target altogether. It is the great MacGuffin of the game, and reveals a complete lack of respect for voters who for years have done the work, covered the games, and taken the privilege seriously.

The truth is that the writers are reduced to being a mop, left with cleaning up a colossal mess created by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association for enormous profit. The fans also must take their share of responsibility simply because professional sports franchises respond only to loss of revenue. To the people watching, steroids were always someone else’s problem, not an issue to get in the way of the fun and games — until their guy was accused or their team wronged. The journalists whose job it was to hold the institution accountable failed, too, for too little reporting allowed a corrupt culture to flourish. The emerging Generation M, influenced by its Godfather, Bill James, and his capo, Billy Beane, is also deeply culpable for allowing their calculations to blissfully ignore steroids and, through that omission, attempting to legitimize the whole dishonest era (and themselves) by attempting to make the game revolve around only numbers. It is no surprise, then, that two of the Gen M standard bearers, power and on-base percentage kings Manny Ramirez and Jason Giambi (directly linked to Beane and James) were both disgraced by steroids.

What galls me about the stat geeks, outside of the smug uniformity, is their willingness to rationalize away fraud. The game deserves better than that.

Not all cheaters the same

http://cbsnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/clemens_bonds.jpg?w=300I don’t believe Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens deserve enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. Cheaters shouldn’t prosper.

But it’s unfair to lump them together. No question Bonds makes it to Cooperstown without ‘roids. The case for Clemens is much less definitive.

In 1993, a 30-year-old Clemens posted a 4.46 ERA with a 1.263 WHIP. He was effective in the strike-shortened ’94 campaign but decidedly mediocre in his final years with the Red Sox:

(’95) 10-5, 4.18 ERA, 1.436 WHIP

(’96) 10-13, 3.63 ERA, 1.327 WHIP

Power pitchers usually don’t improve with age, but miraculously a 34-year-old Clemens had one of his best years after signing with Toronto, winning 21 games in ’97 with a 2.05 ERA and a career-best 292 strikeouts. He won 162 games after leaving Boston, and it’s fair to say those victories were tainted.

It’s believed Bonds began juicing at around the same age as Clemens. Prior to that he was still a premium player, compiling a 1.047 OPS when he was 33.

Kevin Brown is a more apt comparison to Clemens. The surly middle Georgian was a dominant pitcher over a 10-year period but will never make it into Cooperstown.

Neither should Clemens.

Last chance to vote for Skip and Pete

If you don’t have a Facebook account sign up for one — it’s free, and it’s the least you can do for the voices of the Braves.


Fan voting for the 2013 Ford C. Frick Award ballot ends at 5 p.m. ET on Friday. Cast your vote on Facebook for your favorite broadcaster!


Dumbest question of the day w/ a predictably stupid answer

I watched as much as a I could tolerate of the interminable Kevin Millar show on MLB. He and co-host Chris Rose agreed that Big Fraud-i should go into the Hall of Fame.

Like Red Sox fans everywhere — and The Nation‘s fawning ass-lickers in the sports media — Millar and Rose conveniently forget that Ortiz IS A CHEATER. Just like Manny Ramirez. Not only does it taint the two sluggers but also the Sox’s two World Series wins.

I know if Mad Dog and Glavine had juiced I wouldn’t feel so great about the ’95 world championship.

Ortiz, widely viewed as an ambassador for baseball, is the biggest phony in the game. In the last two weeks alone he’s whined about his contract and the Boston media.

To quote Nelson Muntz (or Jimbo Jones, I can’t remember): “CHARLATAN!”

Five HOF’ers in one decade

Here’s a question I hope someone with the time and inclination can answer:

The news of Chipper’s retirement means the Braves, in all likelihood, will send four players and one manager to Cooperstown in one decade. Has any franchise ever produced five Hall of Famers inducted in such a short span of time?

They may end up sending six, if HOF voters ever come around on the Crime Dog, who is definitely worthy.

HOF robs Skip, inducts annoying gasbag

I knew it.

Tim McCarver, who has been a national analyst on television networks for three decades and simultaneously shined as part of broadcast teams with four big league clubs, was named on Wednesday the 2012 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually for excellence in baseball broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Hard to take any committee seriously (click the link above to find out who’s responsible for this absurdity) that inducts Milo Hamilton but has no room for Skip, Ernie and Pete.

Cross your fingers for Skip

The HOF will announce the winner of the Ford  C. Frick award tomorrow (not today as originally scheduled). Skip is among the finalists, along with a bunch of guys I’m not familiar with and one with whom we’re all too familiar.

If Tim McCarver gets in over Skip then I suggest we pool our resources to send Deion and a bucket of water to the home of each voter. I’m pessimistic, considering this is the same group responsible for inducting Joe Garagiola and Milo Hamilton.