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Wednesday, 27 April 2022 09:29

Miguel Cabrera joins 3,000 hit club

One of the most exclusive clubs in Major League Baseball history has added a new member.

Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera became the 33rd player in MLB history to reach at least 3,000 hits, accomplishing the feat with a first-inning single against Colorado Rockies pitcher Antonio Sentzatela in a game in Detroit on April 23. He’s the first Venezuelan player to reach the milestone and just the seventh Latino.

And hey, if you’re into exclusivity, well, here’s an even smaller club that Cabrera enters with this hit. He becomes just the seventh player in history to achieve the 3,000 hit/500 home run career combo, joining a handful of guys whose names might ring familiar – Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols. Pujols is the only other member of the 3,000-hit club still active.

Published in Sports
Monday, 04 April 2022 15:29

Play ball! A 2022 MLB season preview

Believe it or not, Opening Day is almost upon us.

In just a few days, Major League Baseball will hit the field for the start of the 2022 season. Sure, it’s a little later than it might have been, thanks to the still-inexplicable lockout that resulted in an offseason packed with uncertainty only to land on a meet-in-the-middle compromise that probably should have been reached back in December, but whatever. We’re getting baseball!

The bat will still crack. The glove will still pop. Blazing fastballs and towering home runs will be abundant. Familiar faces will display their usual excellence and unknowns will display unexpected transcendence. And for the more data-driven – the numbers will continue to tell you the truth. The joy of that part of baseball is that there will ALWAYS be more numbers.

We all love it for different reasons.

So we’ll see if the Atlanta Braves can become the first back-to-back World Series winners in a generation. We’ll see what two-way talent Shohei Ohtani does to follow up on an MVP year. Can Bryce Harper win his second MVP in a row and third overall? What about Cy Young winners Robbie Ray and Corbin Burnes? We’ll find out which young phenoms are the real deal and which are fool’s gold, which long-timers are out of gas or still have a little left in the tank.

And so, in my ongoing futile quest to look ahead at what is to come, here is one man’s opinion on how the upcoming season might play out. One thing is for certain: there will be some surprises. There always are. Baseball is back, folks – better late than never.

Play ball!

(Division winners = x; Wild Card = y)

Published in Cover Story
Wednesday, 30 March 2022 12:24

Possible MLB milestones for 2022

Baseball is a game that has always held its own history in high regard. And one of the best ways to keep track of that history has been through statistical milestones, numbers that have come to act as a sort of distillation of greatness. Round numbers that represent on-field brilliance in an easy-to-understand way.

Granted, changes in the game are in turn changing these milestones. The way the game is played and the meaning of the numbers being tallied isn’t what it once was; the sabermetric revolution has altered how we look at these statistics. Still, there’s something undeniably special about those iconic career marks. While their relevance may fade someday, we’re not there yet.

All that said, we have a handful of players who are looking at potentially reaching some significant statistical thresholds during the 2022 season.

Let’s have a look at some of the big ones looming this year.

Published in Sports

Achieving excellence in the athletic arena is incredibly difficult. And with each rung one advances on the ladder, that difficulty increases exponentially. So to be recognized as the best at what you do at the athletic pinnacle is impressive indeed.

Now, a single outstanding season is not enough to place you among the immortals. Indeed, the history of every professional sport is littered with singularly transcendent stat lines by people who would never again reach those heights.

Take MLB’s Cy Young Award. To be named the Cy Young winner is to be placed among the very best to ever take the mound. For some, the award is a box checked on the way to Cooperstown. And yet … there are also many Cy Young winners whose careers prove that elite season to be the outlier rather than the norm.

In Doug Wedge’s “Pinnacle on the Mound: Cy Young Winners Talk Baseball” (Rowman & Littlefield, $32), we get a closer look at some of the men who won baseball’s preeminent pitching award. There are conversations with 10 Cy Young winners whose historic seasons span over half-a-century, devoted to shining a light on the particularities that allowed these hurlers to be, for one season at least, the very best in the game.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 23 November 2021 14:40

Who’s heading to the Hall in 2022?

It’s time to talk Cooperstown.

The 2021 ballot has landed, with the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) preparing to cast their votes for the players who will join the immortals of the game with plaques hanging in Cooperstown. The electees from this ballot – plus any added to the roll by the Early Baseball Era and/or the Golden Days Era committees – will have their day in the sun at the Baseball Hall of Fame in July of 2022.

For the first time in recent memory, the writers did not elect anyone; no player received the requisite 75% of the vote. The closest was Curt Schilling, who was less than 4% away. However, this was after a prolific stretch in which the BBWAA voted in 22 players in seven years. Now, with a less crowded ballot, we get to see what happens next, for holdovers and newcomers alike.

Published in Sports

Another long MLB season has come to an end. All 162 regular season games have been played (and we just missed a couple of 163s). And as of this writing, just 10 remain with a chance to take home a World Series championship. Two-thirds of the league’s teams have packed it in and headed home for a long winter of wondering what might have been and awaiting the arrival of next spring and the ever-present hope that that season brings.

But now, it’s time to look ahead to what this postseason might have in store for us.

Rather than trying to put together a series-by-series breakdown, let’s take a more general look at the respective championship chances of the 10 remaining teams, ranking their World Series likelihoods in ascending order.

It’s all guesswork, obviously – heck, if I knew anything, I’d have gotten more than half of these playoff teams in our MLB season preview back in March. Yep – five out of 10, and just two division winners. Not great. Now, I feel reasonably good about these new rankings, so this list will almost certainly turn out to be laughably inaccurate.

But hey – fortune favors the bold.

(Note: As of press time, the two wild card games had yet to be played. Thus, all four Wild Card teams were included on this list, including a Red Sox team about whose chances I am thrilld to have been mistaken.)

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 29 September 2021 12:20

‘The Baseball 100’ an absolute home run

I love baseball history.

As an athletic late bloomer, my initial love of baseball came from its stories. Now, those stories came in different forms. Some were told through first-hand accounts and memories. Others were told through numbers. Both were fascinating to a clumsy kid who loved the game a bit more than it loved him back.

And yet, as much as I love baseball history … Joe Posnanski loves it more.

Posnanski’s new book is “The Baseball 100” (Avid Reader Press, $40), and it’s exactly what it sounds like – a compendium of essays, a list of the greatest players in the long history of the sport, ranked according to the opinions and whims of one man. The book was born of an ongoing feature at the sports website The Athletic, where the first versions of these essays ran.

It’s a wonderful collection of snapshots, purely distilled amalgams of both kinds of stories – memories and numbers – delivered with the unique aw-shucks humility and elevated dad humor of Joe Posnanski. His reverence for the game, his sheer unadulterated love for it, runs through every one of these 100 pieces. From inner circle Hall of Famers to names that might not be as familiar to the casual fan, Posnanski counts us down through the greatest of all time.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 15 September 2021 12:15

Max Scherzer notches 3,000th strikeout

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer joined an exclusive club over the weekend.

Scherzer entered the game against the San Diego Padres with 2,994 Ks. The 3,000th came in the fifth inning against Eric Hosmer; he’d finish the game with nine Ks in eight innings, leaving his total (for the moment) at the delightfully-palindromic 3,003. He is the 19th pitcher in MLB history to cross that threshold.

What’s crazy is there was even more history to be made.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 01 September 2021 11:57

Red Sox Report Card – August 2021

Hey everybody! Remember when the Red Sox were in first place and it looked like they’d coast into the postseason without much of a problem?

As it turns out, there’s a reason they play ALL the games.

August wasn’t a great month for the boys from Beantown. They finished with a sub-.500 record for the month and ceded even more ground to the increasingly dominant Rays while ALSO allowing the dreaded New York Yankees to pass them as well. At this rate, Boston might not even make an appearance in the Wild Card Game; if they’re going to make it, they’re going to need a big turnaround in September.

Specifically, the pitching let them down in a big way last month. The offense was actually pretty solid overall, but the team’s mound work – particularly out of the bullpen – left a lot to be desired. It’s not over yet, but without some kind of drastic improvement, the fat lady will be singing for this Red Sox season soon enough.

On to the Report Card.

(All stats current as of the completion of the Aug. 30 game.)

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 25 August 2021 11:50

Miguel Cabrera joins 500 homer club

One of Major League Baseball’s most exclusive clubs just gained a member.

Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera became the 28th player in MLB history to achieve this historic milestone, hitting a 1-1 pitch from Blue Jays lefthander Steven Matz over the scoreboard in right-center field at Toronto’s Rogers Centre for a home run, his 13th of 2021.

It marks a moment that has seemed inevitable for a long time, yet the journey to get here proved a bit more interminable than anyone anticipated.

Published in Sports
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