Billy-Ball Daily: 2008-6-19

6/19/2008
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

Billy-Ball – From the diamond to your desktop…
By Baseball Newstalgist, Bill Chuck

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The only spin here is on my screwball

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Top of the 1st
OH-FER CRYING OUT LOUD
It doesn’t take much to distract me. Today it was a simple statement regarding the 0-20 slump that Chase Utley of the Phillies finds himself in, ” “Ted Williams went 0 for 20,” Phils’ manager Charlie Manuel said. “Those are things you work through. It’s all part of it. It’s the everyday grind.”

It was Manuel first part of the comment, “Ted Williams went 0 for 20,” that sent me down the Google Highway. When did Ted Williams go 0 for 20?

I found Ted talking with Leigh Montville about hitting slumps, particularly the one Tony Gwynn was experiencing at the time of the interview (August, 1998):

LM: What would bring a slump to you – a little change in your mechanics?
TW: I might run into a little period where I’m really ripping the ball and pulling it good and hitting them 420, now I’m gonna hit one 450 and all of a sudden I’m uggh too much and all of a sudden I’m getting pitched tough to. I’d lay in bed and I’d think, “Oh boy, why am I not hitting? I remember a couple weeks ago I was hitting real good and I remember a couple pitches I hit that boy I was really quick on that.” Then things would start coming back to me and I’d say, “I’m getting too big, I’m not keeping my head on the ball.” And all of a sudden I might get out f it but you can’t do it sometimes for a long period, just like Gwynn today. He’s been in this thing he’s in for three weeks.
LM: You would never swing at a ball out of the strike zone.
TW: I tried not to. I got criticized. One of the biggest writers in the country, and one of the smarties I think, George Will, politically I’m with him all the way, but baseballically he don’t know too much about hitting or playing.

I found that in 1947 was slumping and he told Time magazine, that omeone suggested that he back away from the plate a few inches more. “Snarled Williams: “I get all that sort of advice from newspapermen who can’t hit, from pitchers and from .250 hitters. I’m not changing my position at the plate.””

I read that Babe Ruth said, “Scallions are the greatest cure for a batting slump ever invented.”

I read about William Aloysius “Bill” Bergen who played for 11 years (1901-1911) and had a career batting average of .170, the all-time lowest for any position player who was a legitimate regular. Between June 29, 1909 and July 17, 1909, Bergen went 0 for 46, the record for the longest consecutive hitless streak, 46 at bats.

I learned that Pete Siegel, a Southern California hypnotherapist who has worked with numerous major leaguers, said, “A slump is a life-crippling, life-crushing experience,” said including Damion Easley, Tim Salmon and Scott Spiezio.

Hall of Famers went into slumps, even Cal Ripken, Jr. had a streak of 0-for-29 stretch in April, 1988. Mike Schmidt topped that going 0 for 30 for the 1988 Phils. That’s nothing compared to Looie Aparicio who went 0 for 44 with the Boston Red Sox in 1971.

Robin Ventura, in his rookie season in 1990, had 41 hitless at bats with the White Sox. Last season, with the Red Sox, Julio Lugo went hitless in 33 straight at-bats between singles on June 14 vs. Colorado and July 3 vs. Tampa Bay. Boomer Scott went 0 for 35 with the 1978 BoSox.

In 2005, Ichiro went 0-24 for the M’s and Andruw Jones last season went 0-21. Jose Cruz, Jr. holds the Pirates record going 0-37.

This season, New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano had a hitless streak of 17 at-bats and Yankees’ catcher Jose Molina had a 0-23 streak earlier this season as well. In 2004, Yankees captain Derek Jeter broke a 0-32 slump with a home run. That was the longest slump for the Yankees since Jimmy Wynn went 0 for 32 in 1977. Yogi Berra had an 0-32 stretch which he also broke with a home run. Bernie Williams once went 0-23 and Don Mattingly went 0-21 from 4/21 to 4/25/1993

Alex Rodriguez had a postseason hitless streak of 18 at-bats that he broke in 2007. Gil Hodges went 0-21 in the 1952 World Series prompting call for prayers in churches all over Brooklyn. In 2000, the Mariners’ catcher Dan Wilson’s soft single stopped a record 42 at-bat hitless streak for him in postseason play and a 26 at-bat hitless streak in the LCS. Marv Owen went 0-for-31 for Detroit in 1934 and ’35 post-seasons.

Willie Mays went 0 for his first 12 major league at bats before homering against Warren Spahn. Barry B*nds worst oh-fer was 0-22. Fellow steroid user, Jose Cans*co went 0 for 40 when he was the A’s in 1980.

In 1984, Mets exec Tony Bernazard was playing for the Indians and he went 0 for 44. The manager he helped fire, Willie Randolph went 0 for 30 with the Yanks in 1988 to end the season. In 1989, he started off 0 for 3 compiling a 0 for 33 streak altogether.

Larry Stone wrote in an article for Baseball Digest (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FCI/is_10_64/ai_n15756682/pg_1) that when Tim Naehring was mired in an 0-for-39 slump with the Boston Red Sox in 1991, he had his barber carve “hit” into the back of his scalp. Ozzie Guillen sprinkled eyedrops on his bats “so they could see the ball good.”

Dave Campbell, the baseball analyst/broadcaster, once went 0 for 45 in 1973, doing it for three teams. He started it with the Padres, was traded to the Cardinals for whom he wen 0 for 21 and ended it with the Astros. On the subject of broadcasters, Joe Morgan when he was with the Phils in 1983 went 0 for 35 and Buck Martinez went 0 for 32 with the Brewers in 1978.

No hitless conversation would be complete without pitcher Bob Buhl’s 1962 season. Buhl started the season with Milwaukee Braves and went 0 for 1. He had ended the 1961 season with Braves 0 for 2 so when he was traded to the Cubs he was in a 0 for 3 “slump.” Pitching for the Cubs that season, Buhl was 12-13. At the plate he was 0 for 69 making him 0 for 72. In his 16th at bat of the 1963 season, on May 8, Buhl singled off the Pirates’ Al McBean. Buhl finished his career hitting a robust .089.

But my searching to this point has not been able to verify Charlie Manuel’s statement about Teddy Ballgame. So now it’s your turn, email me (Bill@Billy-Ball.com) and share with me what you can dig up about hitting slumps and next week, I’ll write a follow-up article.

Oh-fer goodness sakes, somebody should be able to find this, don’t you think?

Top of the 2nd
GOODBYE MCLAREN
The Seattle Mariners have fired manager John McLaren, replacing him with bench coach Jim Riggleman. In 156 games over two seasons with McLaren as manager, the Mariners were 68-88. Entering Thursday, Seattle, which many observers thought had the talent to compete for the American League West, was last in the division with a 25-47 record — 17