Billy-Ball Daily: 2006-9-21

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Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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Happy birthday, Sudden Sam McDowell

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Top of the 1st
We all know when a batter is hot and we all know when a better is not, but last night a ballplayer who’s been dead for almost 40 years just had a bad day.

He was known as “the righthanded Babe Ruth” both for his prodigious presence at the plate and the massive home runs that he hit, and he hit a lot of them, 532 to be exact. He was just the second player past the 500 mark (at age 32 years, 11 months, and two days, is still the youngest ever to reach that mark). Foxx hit 30 or more homers in 12 consecutive seasons. Jimmie Foxx was an enormous force to be reckoned with.

Not only did he hit many homers, he drove many, many runners home. Like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, he drove in over 100 runs in 13 seasons. Double XX ended up with 1,921 RBI in 2,317 games over his 20-year career. He was a.325 lifetime hitter.

Foxx was known as “the Beast” because he was that at the plate. He won the Triple Crown in 1933 (.356, 48 HR, 163 RBI), one of three seasons he led the league in RBI; his best RBI mark was 175 in 1938, when he would have captured his second Triple Crown if not for Hank Greenberg’s 58 HR (In 1932, Foxx hit 58 homers). He was the HR champ four times despite competition from Ruth, Gehrig, Greenberg, and DiMaggio.

He was a nine-time All-Star and won the American League Most Valuable Player Award in 1932, 1933 and 1938. Primarily a first baseman (he split time also catching and playing the outfield), Foxx played for the Philadelphia Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox.

Foxx was feared at the plate both for his bat and his persona. H holds the record for most walks in a big league game with six on June 16, 1938. Ted Lyons said of him, “He had great powerful arms, and he used to wear his sleeves cut off way up, and when he dug in and raised that bat, his muscles would bulge and ripple.” Lefty Gomez once said, “He (Jimmie Foxx) has muscles in his hair.”

Foxx wound up his career with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1945 filling in at first and third, pinch hitting, and compiling a surprising 1-0 record and 1.59 ERA over 22 2/3 innings while pitching 9 games. He worked as a minor league manager and coach after his playing days ended, including managing the Fort Wayne Daisies of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Tom Hanks’ character Jimmy Dugan in the movie A League of Their Own was largely (but loosely) based on Foxx.

Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1951, Foxx was broke by 1958. Foxx died in July, 1967, at age 59, when he choked to death on a piece of meat while dining with his brother. So you ask how could this guy, dead so long, have a bad day?

Well, to start with Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz hit his 50th home run of the season on last night, tying the franchise record that stood since Jimmie Foxx set it in 1938. Ortiz homered off Minnesota’s Boof Bonser over the Boston bullpen in right-center with two outs in the 6th inning to break a 1-1 tie. He circled the bases to the strains of “Simply the Best” (I guess there is no song representing a tie) while his teammates applauded from the top of the dugout. Between Foxx and Ortiz, the only player to hit home run No. 50 or more of a season at Fenway was Mickey Mantle, who hit his 51st homer of the 1956 season there, and the last of his 54 homers in 1961. It was Ortiz’s 43rd homer as a DH this year, tying the major league record he set last year.

What is particularly impressive about the Ortiz/Foxx feat is the length of time that Foxx held the Red Sox team record. In this era of inflated totals, the Foxx record held up for 68 seasons. Jimmie Foxx still holds the top mark for the Athletics having hit 58 in 1932 (surviving onslaughts from Cans*co and McLiar). Hank Greenberg still holds the record for the Tigers with 58 in 1938 and Ralph Kiner is still the Pirates record holder with 54 in 1949.

Then, later in the evening, Barry B*nds lined a pinch-hit RBI single to highlight a five-run rally in the 8th inning as the Giants topped the Colorado Rockies, 7-4. For B*nds, it was his 1,923rd career RBI to pass Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx for seventh place on baseball’s all-time list.

When you’re hot, you’re hot and when you’re cold, you’re cold, make that especially cold when you’ve been dead for 39 years.

Top of the 2nd
The Yankees lost on the field last night, 3-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays, but celebrated in the clubhouse as they clinched their 9th consecutive AL East crown (and their 12th straight playoff berth), when the Twins defeated the Red Sox, 8-2.

The New York Yankees had a wild champagne celebration, “It doesn’t get old,” Derek Jeter said, just before getting drenched by a swarm of teammates. “This is something that’s not easy to do. If it was easy then everybody would be doing it.”

The Yankees became the second team to qualify for the playoffs, overcoming major injuries to Hideki Matsui, Gary Sheffield and Robinson Cano this season. The crosstown Mets wrapped up their first NL East title since 1988 on Monday night.

“It didn’t look good at the beginning, but these guys persevered,” said Sheffield, who came off the disabled list Tuesday. “I’m just so happy. We can’t leave nothing on the table this time,” he added. “This is the year.”

For internet registration for post-season tickets, go to A drawing will be held to select registrants (not all registrants will be selected) who will be notified via email tomorrow. All selected registrants will have an opportunity to purchase two tickets to one of the ALDS or ALCS games at beginning Sept. 25 at 11 a.m., subject to availability. ALDS tickets are priced at $91 for Field Box seats; & $71 for main and tier box seats; $66 for main reserved seats; $61 for loge box seats; $48 for tier reserved seats; and $22 for bleacher seats.

By the way, the last time two New York teams finished the regular season in first place was 1956, exactly 50 years ago. The World Series was Brooklyn versus New York and you might remember Game 5.

Top of the 3rd
NL batting leader Freddy Sanchez matched a career high with four hits, Shawn Chacon outpitched Greg Maddux, and the Pittsburgh Pirates took a 6-4 victory over the Dodgers. Pirates’manager JimTracy managed the Dodgers for five years before parting ways with them following last season, said, “That was a game with obviously a lot at stake for the Dodgers. And I say that only because it’s also great for us,” Tracy said. “For our young players to be exposed to this type of atmosphere, with what is at stake and to be able to play in an environment like this, it’s just a tremendous arena for our kids to be in at this time of the year.” Then he started giggling uncontrollably.

Los Angeles lost for the 11th time in 17 games and fell into a tie with Philadelphia for the NL wild-card lead. Brett tossed his first complete game in 13 months and Chase Utley hit a two-run homer to lead Philadelphia to a 6-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs. The Phillies (79-73) won for the seventh time in nine games and pulled even when Los Angeles lost to Pittsburgh a few hours later. It’s the first time this year Philadelphia has held a share of the wild-card lead. Myers (12-6) gave up two runs, six hits and tied his career high with 12 strikeouts in winning his fourth straight decision. He is 6-1 in 10 starts since losing to Florida on July 28. It was his sixth career complete game and first since Aug. 20 last year against Pittsburgh.

Edgar Gonzalez held San Diego to six hits in seven innings while his teammates knocked around David Wells, leading the Arizona Diamondbacks to an 8-2 win. The Padres remained a half-game ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Wells (0-2) gave up four runs and a season-high 11 hits in 6 1/3 innings, losing his second consecutive start. The Padres lost for the third straight time with the big lefty on the mound. With San Diego trailing 3-1, manager Bruce Bochy pulled Wells after Luis Gonzalez beat out an infield single with one out in the seventh. As Wells walked off the field, he tossed his glove high into the air and into the seats behind the Padres’ dugout.

Top of the 4th
The Detroit Tigers have been atop the AL Central since May 16. Their 10-game lead from early August has nearly evaporated, but their playoff hopes are as strong as ever after they beat the Chicago White Sox 6-2 last night. The Tigers won two of three in Chicago and all but ended the defending World Series champions’ chances of returning to the postseason. Detroit’s Magglio Ordonez homered Wednesday night, his third of the series against his former team, and so did Ivan Rodriguez.

The White Sox lost for the fifth time in six games. With 10 games left, they trail the Tigers by six games in the division and Minnesota by 5