Billy-Ball Daily: 2009-3-20

3/20/2009
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

Billy-Ball-Weakly – From the diamond to your desktop…
THE WEEKLY COMPENDIUM OF BASEBALL AND MUSIC
By Baseball Newstalgist, Bill Chuck

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The only spin here is on my screwball

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tomorrow’s the first day of spring, let it rock – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dh3gGQfyVyw

ONE AWAY
Willie Mays, Roy Campanella, Rich Gedman, and Paul Molitor.

All of these gentlemen are well known ballplayers; yet each of them could have achieved fame, or infamy, far beyond what they had ever, or would ever, reach. Each were just one away.

The scene is the 1962 World Series, Game 7, 9th inning as the Yankees’ Ralph Terry is defending a 1-0 lead. It should be remembered that Terry was on the mound in the 9th inning of Game 7 the prior year and given up Bill Mazeroski’s walkoff homer.

Pinch-hitter Matty Alou leads off with a bunt single. Matteo’s brother Felipe and Chuck Hiller both strike out and up steps Willie. If Mays makes an out, he will be remembered for making the last out; if he homers, it would be the first walkoff come-from-behind homer in World Series history. Willie doubles and becomes the winning run at second as the tying run reaches third. Up steps Stretch and forever Willie McCovey is the one remembered for hitting the screeching liner to second grabbed by Bobby Richardson. Mays was one away.

Roy Campanella is one of the greatest of stars of major league baseball and of the Negro Leagues. He played on Brooklyn’s only World Championship and he played the following season as the Dodgers tried to defend their title against the Yankees. The situation was Game Five and the teams were tied 2-2. In this game, the Yankees were leading 2-0 and it was the 9th inning at Yankee Stadium.

Carl Furillo led of the inning with a fly out to right field and up stepped Campy. He then meekly hit a roller to Billy Martin at second for out number two. If you know your baseball history, you know the next batter. His name was Dale Mitchell and when his half-swing was called strike three, Don Larson completed the only perfect game in World Series history. Campanella was one away.

It’s 1986, and the Curse of the Bambino is in full bloom. It’s Game 6 of the World Series and its Boston versus New York, the Mets are the New Yorkers this time. The champagne was on ice in the visitors’ clubhouse at Shea Stadium because with a three game to two lead and a 5-3 lead and two outs in the bottom of the 11th, the Red Sox were on their way to celebrating. With two strikes, Gary Carter singled. With two strikes, pinch hitter Keith Mitchell singled. Ray Knight then singled and the score was now 5-4 as Mitchell went to third. Up stepped Mookie Wilson, the name might be familiar. Bob Stanley was on the mound and he threw a pitch that some say was a spitball, but I’ve watched it over and over and I still claim the Boston catcher, Rich Gedman, missed what should have been called a passed ball. Mitchell scored the tying run. On the tenth pitch of the at bat Mookie hit a roller down the first base line and Billy Buckner’s name became forever etched in our brain. Had he fielded that ball cleanly, he would never have been noticed in that sequence of events. Gedman was one away.

Phillies fans can handle this next story now thanks to their current World Championship, but they’ve been waiting since 1993. On October 23 we watched Game 6 go into the 9th all tied up at the Skydome. Rickey Henderson led off the inning for the Jays with a walk. One out later, up stepped Paul Molitor who has been known to be able to hit for extra bases. With Henderson on base, the chances are excellent that his speed would have allowed him to score from first on a double. Molitor singled. Up stepped Joe Carter and he didn’t need Henderson’s speed. Williams, as he often was, was wild in the strike zone and Carter blasted a pitch into the history books. The Blue Jays were the World Champs. Molitor was one away.

I mention this because of the death of Whitey Lockman. You may not have heard of him even though he played for 15 years and managed the Cubs for parts of three seasons. Carroll Walter Lockman made his major league debut with the New York Giants as an outfielder, hitting a home run in his first at-bat in 1945. By the 1951 season he was the starting first baseman for the Giants.

In the third game of the playoff series against the Dodgers at the Polo Grounds on Oct. 3, 1951, Lockman came to bat in the bottom of the 9th with one out, facing starting pitcher Don Newcombe, as the tying run. He hit a run-scoring double that cut the Dodgers’ lead to 4-2. In came Ralph Branca in relief, up stepped Bobby Thomson who hit a shot heard `round the world and as Russ Hodges screamed, “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!”

Lockman was one away.

FROM THE BILL CHUCK FILES…
By Baseball Newstalgist, Bill Chuck

Time for Elvis, Costellos sans Abbott – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVngzaBsrSM
1. Carlos Beltran is career .306 batter with Runners In Scoring Position and a career .306 batter with the bases loaded.
2. Mike Piazza holds the record for catchers with 35 homers in his first full season in the majors; good luck Matt Weiters.
3. Since he joined the Cubs rotation in 2002, Carlos Zambrano has issued 612 walks second only to Barry Zito’s 620, yet Zambrano’s ERA is only 3.41 over that time thanks to the fact that he holds batters to a .237 batting average with runners on base.
4. Overall, Julio Lugo has a .271 career average with 77 homers and 431 RBI, however since he left the Rays on July 31, 2006, he has only hit .242 with 9 homers and 95 RBI.
5. The Toronto Blue Jays enter this season with an all-time record of 2,428-2,469-3. If they finish the coming season with a record of 102-60 they will have an all-time winning percentage of .50009 (and most likely a post-season berth).
6. In his career Brian Roberts has 23 triples before the All-Star break but only nine after.
7. John Danks pitched 56 more innings 2008 than he did in 2007 and gave up 13 fewer homers and only three more walks.
8. Last season, Roy Holladay made 33 starts and one relief appearance going 20-11, which means he only made three appearances in which he wasn’t involved in the decision.
9. Over the last five seasons, the Tribe’s Victor Martinez leads all catchers with 430 RBI.
10. Last season, Carlos Guillen drew 60 walks in 113 games; Yuniesky Betancourt has drawn 60 walks in his 525 game career.
11. On April 22, 2003, Brandon Webb made his major league debut pitching one scoreless inning in relief. Since that time he has made 197 consecutive starts.
12. Since 1999, J.D. Drew’s first full season in the majors, 75 players have played more than his 1,195 games.
13. Current Dodger Matt Kemp’s first three years are very similar to former Dodger great Willie Davis’ first three years. Kemp has six fewer plate appearances (1134), scored one fewer run (170), drove home one more run (141), drew two fewer walks (71), and they each hit 35 homers. Kemp has a substantial lead in batting average (.299 to .278) and in strikeouts (272 to 130).
14. Jeff Francoeur has 324 career RBI, not bad for a 24-year old (he turned 25 in January). Then again by the time Mel Ott finished his season as a 24-year old, he had 711 RBI.
15. In 2004/05 combined, Trevor Hoffman gave up 8 homers, just like he did in 2006/07 combined and just like he did in 2008 alone.
16. Bobby Abreu needs 20 steals to tie Willie Mays’ lifetime total of 338, he also needs 419 more homers to tie Willie’s 660.
17. Mac Suzuki, the Royals’ first Japanese pitcher, worked out for Kansas City and Cleveland and will audition for the Dodgers as well. He’s spent the last three years in the Mexican League. Does that make him Mex Suzuki?
18. Over the course of his magnificent career, righties have hit the right-handed Mariano Rivera at a .218 pace, while lefties have compiled a .208 average against him.
19. Jayson Werth is the grandson of former shortstop Dick Schofield, who clearly did not pass down his base stealing skills. Werth in his career has successfully stolen 44 of 49 bases, while Ducky in 19 seasons stole 12 bases and was caught 29 times.
20. Here’s an interesting trio: Will Clark (1988), Terry Pendleton (1989) and Jeff Bagwell (1997), each player appeared in 162 games in a season and garnered 162 hits.
Bill Chuck is the creator of Billy-Ball.com (www.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, published by ACTA Sports, and available worldwide.

Bill Chuck is available for radio appearances, and writing for print or the web. Please contact me at Bill@billy-ball.com or by calling 617-566-2784.

INITIAL THOUGHTS
As Rocky used to say, “Here’s something you’ll really like….” http://baseballdigest.com/baseball-history/2009/1754/

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Comes from the less than Chipper Jones who indicated he wouldn’t play in the WBC under its current format, “Just way too many days off,” he said. “We stayed in Toronto for a week and played three games. I don’t know if you’ve ever stayed in Toronto, but it’s not exactly Las Vegas. To say that we were plucking our eyebrows out one at a time would be an understatement.

Enjoy some Wyclef and Mary J
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQvCcRiem9c

SHOULD THIS BE THE LAST WBC?
Jay Mariotti in a “tell us how you really feel” column says it should be (and this was after the David Wright walkoff hit that broke the hearts of GMs and managers all across Florida and Arizona by extending the USA team’s stay). Take a read: http://jay-mariotti.fanhouse.com/2009/03/18/save-baseball-as-we-know-it-kill-off-the-world-baseball-classic/

SNEAK PEEK
Bob Ruffolo had the opportunity to get inside the new Yankee Stadium and posted over 70 pictures from his visit.
http://nyyankeesrumors.com/exclusive-new-yankee-stadium-photos-march-14th-2009/

BASEBALL-BIRTHDAYS
March 21

Only one birthday on my mind this week: tomorrow is Mrs. Ball’s birthday. Without her there is no Billy-Ball, figuratively and literally. I won’t tell you Max’s age but I will tell you this, tomorrow she officially looks 15 years younger than her age.

To wish her well, you can reach her at Max@bczar.com.

I love you, Maxie.
Here’s her favorite song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYwnmjwhnHw&feature=related

WITH 16 DAYS STILL LEFT UNTIL OPENING DAY
Make the World Baseball Classic go away, please. March Monotony must end while we still have some healthy ballplayers left. Bring our boys home!!!!
Here’s something hideous from Tony Orlando – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qMIW6EFXUE

Have fun and please don’t stop the music – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsRWpK4pf90&feature=related

See you next week.

BUY THE BOOK
Bill Chuck is the creator of Billy-Ball.com (www.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, published by ACTA Sports, and available worldwide.

Bill Chuck is available for radio appearances, and writing for print or the web. Please contact me at Bill@billy-ball.com or by calling 617-566-2784.

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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.