Billy-Ball Daily: 2008-7-22

7/22/2008
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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By Baseball Newstalgist, Bill Chuck

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The only spin here is on my screwball

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Top of the 1st
JEROME HOLTZMAN
I describe myself as a “Baseball Newstalgist,” that is someone who combines news, history and nostalgia hopefully to help readers by informing, illuminating, and reflecting on baseball events of the present and past. I gave myself that title because the title “Jerome Holtzman” was already taken.

Jerome Holtzman, the Hall of Fame baseball writer who created the saves rule and later became Major League Baseball’s official historian, died Saturday at the age of 82. Holtzman worked at the Chicago Sun-Times and the Daily Times, its predecessor, before joining the Chicago Tribune in 1981. “The Dean” retired in 1999, when his friend commissioner Bud Selig named him MLB’s official historian. When I was a kid I read his work in the Sporting News and I feel like my entire baseball life I’ve been reading his words.

Holtzman attended Northwestern University and the University of Chicago and began his newspaper career as a 17-year-old copy boy and, following two years with the Marines during World War II, returned to The Daily Times in 1946 to cover prep sports for 11 years. Holtzman began covering baseball in 1957. Membership cards issued by the Baseball Writers Association of America are numbered sequentially, and the standard crack at later reunions with Holtzman was to claim that his number was five.

Amongst other things, Holtzman wrote the annual recap of the preceding season for The Official Baseball Guide, and contributed to countless magazines. He was the Cal Ripken Jr. of The Sporting News, writing more than a thousand consecutive weekly columns for the one-time “Bible of Baseball.”

“As a baseball writer, columnist and historian for more than 50 years, Jerome Holtzman was a beloved figure and made an incredible impact on the game,” Commissioner Bud Selig said Monday. Holtzman won the J.G. Spink Award, an award is given annually to the one baseball writer who has exhibited “meritorious contributions” to baseball writing, and a spot in the Hall of Fame in 1989.

Feeling that earned run averages and won-lost records were not the most accurate reflection of relievers’ effectiveness, Holtzman created the formula for “saves” in 1959, which was adopted by the game’s Official Rules Committee in 1969. “In the case of Jerome, every one of the closers over the last 30 years … should take out their checkbooks and write a gigantic check to whatever foundation or charity the family directs,” broadcaster and former White Sox pitcher Steve Stone said. “He’s really the person responsible for being able to quantify what has become one of the most important positions on the field.” In my mind, the saves leader should now receive the Jerome Holtzman Memorial Award.

Here’s how Holzman wrote about saves for MLB.com in 2003 (http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article_perspectives.jsp?ymd=20030916&content_id=529112&vkey=perspectives&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb), “…in 1959, Elroy Face of the Pirates was the rage. Face was 18-1 in relief. It was and still is generally acknowledged as the greatest season for anyone coming out of the bullpen. The 18 victories in relief is still the Major League record.

I was suspicious and checked the scorebook of a Pittsburgh beat writer and discovered that 10 of Face’s wins came after he had given up the tying or lead run. In effect, they were blown saves. The Pirates had a strong hitting team, known as the Pittsburgh Lumber Co., and took Face off the hook with late-inning rallies. Because he was the pitcher of record he got the win. There is no other way a reliever can win 18 games.

The year before, in 1958, Face had a better year. He had a 5-2 won-loss record. But if my system had been in effect, he would have had 26 saves, which probably would have led the league. In those days the only important stat for a reliever was his earned-run average, and even that wasn’t an accurate measure of his effectiveness because, then as now, many of the runs scored against him are charged to the previous pitcher. Generally, a relievers’ ERA should be 1.00 lower than a starter.

I was then a correspondent for The Sporting News and wrote a letter to J.G. Taylor Spink, its editor and publisher, and enclosed my saves formula. Spink jumped on it. He gave me a $100 or a $200 bonus. I don’t remember which but I do recall him telling me I should be sure to call him if I had any other ideas. I have been barren ever since.”

Holtzman wrote seven baseball books including the classic “No Cheering in The Press Box” which was reissued with six new chapters in 1995. He also authored “Three and Two,” a biography of National League umpire Tom Gorman; “The Commissioners;” “Jerome Holtzman on Baseball”; and “Fielder’s Choice,” an anthology of baseball fiction. His other books, co-written with George Vass, were “The Chicago Cubs Encyclopedia” and “Baseball Chicago Style.”

In a year in which seminal figures like George Carlin, Jim McKay, and Tim Russert, we just lost another one in Jerome Holtzman.

Top of the 2nd
GRAND CENTRAL
Randy Johnson pitched seven scoreless innings to improve to 13-0 in his career against the Cubs, the third-best record by a pitcher vs. any opponent in MLB history outdueling Rich Harden in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 2-0 victory. Harden, in his second start for Chicago, allowed only one hit in seven innings, Alex Romero’s first major league home run to lead off the 6th. It was the first run Harden allowed in 10 1/3 innings since joining the Cubs. Both teams had a total of two hits each, the first time two squads had two hits or fewer in a nine-inning game since the Padres beat Cubs 1-0 on June 16, 2007.

Bill Hall’s 10th inning homer off Ryan Franklin helped the Milwaukee Brewers beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-3 last night. Milwaukee is now 4-0 on its seven-game trip and a National League best 35-19 since May 20. Milwaukee has homered in a season-high 17 straight games; the team record is 19 straight set from June 11-30, 1996. This is the 12th extra-inning game of the season for both teams, only the Pirates (13) have played more. The Cards have lost four straight extra-inning games. The win moved the Brewers percentage points ahead of St. Louis for second place in the NL Central behind Chicago.

Top of the 3rd
BIDDING FOR THE CUBS
The Wall St. Journal reports that at least three bids had come in for the Cubs and its other assets, with offers due by this Friday. The team’s owner, Tribune Co., was expecting offers from as many as nine separate groups.

THE WSJ reports that two of the bids came from major financial players in Chicago: John Canning, the head of private-equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners LLC, who has assembled a group that includes McDonald’s Corp. Chairman Andrew McKenna. The other was from Tom Ricketts, chief executive of investment firm Incapital LLC and the son of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. founder J. Joe Ricketts. Canning is a part-owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, the team once controlled by Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. Canning and Selig remain close friends.

Another bid came from a New York group representing Sports Properties Acquisition Corp. and led by Andrew Murstein, whose family amassed a fortune in the taxi-financing business. The company has raised $215 million in an initial public offering for the purpose of acquiring a sports franchise or similar assets.

The bidding is expected to reach around $1 billion for the team, Wrigley Field and a 25% interest in a regional sports cable-television network.

The buyer will have to produce much of the sale price in cash. Major League Baseball allows buyers to finance only roughly 10 times earnings — in this case, about $340 million. Renovations to 94-year-old Wrigley Field, which lacks the amenities of most modern ballparks, could run from $200 million to $400 million for the team’s new owner.

Gee, if only all my money wasn’t tied up in…well, everything we need to survive.

Top of the 4th
ALL STAR GAME LEFTOVER
Pete Abraham compiled this list of Hall of Famers who didn’t make it to the ASG:
Sparky Anderson
Johnny Bench
Jim Bunning
Bobby Doerr
Carlton Fisk
Monte Irvin
George Kell
Sandy Koufax
Joe Morgan
Stan Musial
Nolan Ryan
Red Schoendienst
Tom Seaver
Duke Snider
Carl Yastrzemski

Top of the 5th
MANNY IN SEATTLE
After the Sox 4-0 victory over the Mariners last night (Jon Lester becoming the ace of the staff) Manny had a moment with Seattle police. As a preface, Seattle is serious about no jay walking. I remember being lectured by an officer and had to limp to the corner to cross the street.

Geoff Baker in his Seattle Times blog this morning shares this story:

“Seems that Boston slugger Manny Ramirez was leaving the ballpark, with headphones on trying to look inconspicuous and quickly get away from the crowds still leaving the stadium. He started to cross South Royal Brougham Way, against the signals of a traffic cop who was directing pedestrians. The police officer demanded that Ramirez open his wallet and show identification. He warned him that he could face a $500 fine and possible arrest for disobeying a police officer.

It became clear to those watching that the policeman had no idea who Ramirez was. He didn’t ask for an autograph or anything, but did ask Ramirez if he’d attended the game. After the brief lecture, and no argument from Ramirez, the police officer let him go with no further trouble.

Ah, maybe baseball needs a higher profile in this town? Or, maybe Ramirez has to sit around and talk to the media like everyone else on his team, so he doesn’t get caught up in post-game foot traffic? I don’t know, I just thought it was a funny story.”

Me too.

Top of the 6th
BILLY-BALL-SITE-OF-THE-DAY
Curious as to when Bob Gibson, Joe Garagiola, Jr. or Ernie Banks were on the game show, “To Tell The Truth”? Check out: http://tttt.home.att.net/ our site of the day.

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
AL
Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees, 7:05 pm
(R) Kevin Slowey (6-6) vs. (R) Darrell Rasner (5-7)
Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles, 7:05 pm
(R) Shaun Marcum (5-4) vs. (L) Garrett Olson (6-5)
Oakland Athletics at Tampa Bay Rays, 7:10 pm
(L) Dallas Braden (1-0) vs. (R) Andy Sonnanstine (10-4)
Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals, 8:10 pm
(L) Kenny Rogers (7-6) vs. (R) Kyle Davies (3-1)
Texas Rangers at Chicago White Sox, 8:11 pm
(R) Luis Mendoza (2-3) vs. (L) Mark Buehrle (7-8)
Cleveland Indians at LA Angels of Anaheim, 10:05 pm
(R) Matt Ginter (1-0) vs. (R) Jered Weaver (8-8)
Boston Red Sox at Seattle Mariners, 10:10 pm
(R) Daisuke Matsuzaka (10-1) vs. (R) R.A. Dickey (2-4)

NL
Atlanta Braves at Florida Marlins, 7:10 pm
(R) Charlie Morton (2-2) vs. (R) Rick Vanden Hurk (0-1)
Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets, 7:10 pm
(R) Joe Blanton (0-0) vs. (L) Johan Santana (8-7)
San Diego Padres at Cincinnati Reds, 7:10 pm
(R) Jake Peavy (7-6) vs. (R) Johnny Cueto (7-9)
Pittsburgh Pirates at Houston Astros, 8:05 pm
(L) Paul Maholm (6-6) vs. (R) Jack Cassel (1-0)
Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals, 8:15 pm
(R) Jeff Suppan (5-6) vs. (R) Kyle Lohse (12-2)
Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies, 9:05 pm
(L) Clayton Kershaw (0-2) vs. (R) Ubaldo Jimenez (5-9)
Chicago Cubs at Arizona Diamondbacks, 9:40 pm
(R) Jason Marquis (6-5) vs. (R) Yusmeiro Petit (0-1)
Washington Nationals at San Francisco Giants, 10:15 pm
(R) Jason Bergmann (1-6) vs. (L) Barry Zito (4-12)

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Royals reserve infielder Tony Pena Jr. pitched a perfect 9th including striking out Ivan Rodriguez but it was too little too lat as Detroit edged KC, 19-4. He was the first Royals position player to pitch in a game since Shane Halter on July 19, 1998 at Seattle.

Jimmy Gobble, the third of five Kansas City pitchers, allowed 10 Tigers runs in the 8th. Gobble retired only three of the 14 batters he faced, allowing seven hits and walking four, including two with the bases loaded. Gobble’s ERA soared to 11.31.

It was the third time this season that the Tigers scored 19 runs. The Boston Red Sox were the last team to accomplish that feat, scoring 19 or more four times in 1950 according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Detroit beat Texas 19-6 on April 23 and Minnesota 19-3 on May 24.

Top of the 9th
HARRIS NL POTW
Willie Harris as its National League Player of the Week for the period ending July 20. For the season, Harris has played six positions, hitting .248, but last week, the 30 year-old Harris batted .583 (7-for-12) with a double, triple, homer, NL-best 7 RBI, one stolen base, 5 runs scored, 4 walks, a .688 on-base percentage and a 1.083 slugging percentage. His 6 home runs this season are not only a career high, they are only one shy of his career total (7) entering the 2008 campaign.

Harris has started games at 2B, LF, CF, RF and has also appeared defensively for Washington at 3B and SS in 2008.

By winning NL POTW, Harris becomes the first Washington National to earn the citation outright. Two other Nationals shared the award with other players: 1B Nick Johnson (June 6, 2005, shared with STL’s Albert Pujols) and 3B Ryan Zimmerman (August 5, 2007, shared with ARI’s Brandon Webb).

Bottom of the 9th
BUY THE BOOK
Bill Chuck is the creator of Billy-Ball.com and, with Jim Kaplan, is the author of the book, “Walk-Offs, Last Licks, and Final Outs – Baseball’s Grand (and not so Grand) Finales,” with a Foreword by Jon Miller available now from ACTA Sports.

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Information provided in Billy-Ball has been gathered from A.P. reports, espn.com, sportsline.com, mlb.com and numerous other e-sources. Opinions expressed in Billy-Ball are obviously solely the opinions of the author of Billy-Ball and do not reflect those of source material no matter how off the wall they may be.