The Seattle Mariners, as every baseball fan knows by now, hired Scott Servais as the Seattle Mariners new manager. The concern was that he had no managerial experience. It sounded scary to many. What, he has never done this before. My God, what will happen?
It seemed the hidden thought behind any one who mentioned it, and brought it up as a concern, was I wonder if he knows as much about baseball as I do. As we know the people who know the most about baseball are fans and media people. Why else would Tom Verducci criticize Terry Collins in the World Series about a pitching change? Sorry Tom, but I don’t care what you think. Can we have someone like John Smoltz in the booth who knows far more than Verducci and Harold Reynolds.
Obviously Tom knows what moves to make. And why else would fans call sports talk radio and complain that their manger can’t run a bullpen, that the manager used the wrong pinch hitter, and on it goes. We all know better, right?
What fans and some in the media forget at times is that there is more to managing than going by the book pinch hitting a lefty against a righty, and all the so called obvious moves based on percentages. The thing with numbers is that they tell you what happened, not what will happen. In baseball games, odds are beaten in every game by somebody doing something where the odds indicate otherwise.
In-game moves by a manager have more to do with the obvious and in the end those moves are not the main reason he is in the dugout. A manager today must be a leader, must have the respect of his players, must be a good communicator, and must be firm in his resolve. When a superstar jogs halfheartedly to first on a grounder, bench him, don’t cater to his status. A leader leads, not letting players dictate the goings on.
Scott Servais has been in baseball as player all his life. I don’t care how he manages during a game (not yet anyway), but if he is a leader and the players respect him, that is what matters most.
I did not do the math, but I trust 710 ESPN Seattle who gave out the information. The sports talk host said Felix had 118 starts where the Mariners had given him one run of support.
At this writing Felix has 319 starts, so 118 starts equates to 37% and with Felix averaging 34 starts in his career, three years would be 102. That leaves 16 starts. So for three and one half years Felix has had one run to work with and that means a lot of stress innings trying to hold the opposition close while waiting-and 37% of the time waiting in vain-for his team to score runs.
I do not know what pitcher has had the worst run support in his career, but King Felix must be at or near the top. And consider we are talking only run for three and a half years. What about two runs?
To go out and pitch the way Felix does requires great determination and desire knowing he can’t afford any mistakes every five days, week after week, month after month, year after year. And Felix never complains, never carps, never bitches, remaining as positive as Seahawk coach, Pete Carroll. The difference of course is that Carroll has reason to be optimistic, Felix has none.
Perhaps the closest pitcher to Felix, if not surpassing him for frustration, is Hall of Famer Walter Johnson. He pitched 21 seasons for the Washington Senators from 1907-1927, one of the worst teams of that era (like the Mariners). Walter won 416 games, 110 by shutout, a major league record never to be broken. He shutout the opposition in 26% of his wins. And his record in shutouts has set records. Consider that 38 of his 110 shutouts were 1-0 scores, a major league record. And he was the losing pitcher in 65 shutouts, a major league record, and 26 of those were 1-0 games. His record in 1-0 shutouts was 38-26. Sixty-four games of 1-0 duels is also a record. 110-65 in overall shutouts. And not all of his career was in the dead ball era.
Walter got to the World Series in 1924 and 1925 when he was 37 and 38. I doubt Felix will pitch that long. And the way the Mariners fail to hit year after year, Felix, like Ernie Banks, may have a Hall of Fame career but no World Series.
I am a 12. I love the Seahawks, have for years. The way the Super Bowl was lost by the Hawks on Sunday was devastating, crushing, depressing, unreal, unbelievable. The local talk radio airwaves are filled with fans ranting and raving in despair and anger. It was the wrong play they say. Of course they wouldn’t say that if the play worked. But the Beast should have been given the ball.
There is a cure for the Seahawk blues and that is for the Mariners to have a great season. By doing so our minds will be diverted from pain. I won’t say anything about healing process. The wound will go away, but the scar will remain until we are buried-or cremated. I want my ashes in either a Mariner or Dodger urn and given to the Hall of Fame. Either that or have my ashes put in a rosin bag.
But back to the matter at hand. Seahawk 12’s need diversion, something to cheer about. Without it we will go insane with grief and sorrow. Or go into a violent rage out of frustration. The Mariners need to step up and help Hawk 12’s by winning. Not just having a good season, not just falling one game short of the playoffs as in 2014. No they must win, win win. They must crush the Boston Red Sox in the playoffs, then beat whoever in the World Series.
If the Mariners fall short, even worse, not make the playoffs (I will never attend an M’s games again if not in playoffs) then Seattle reverts to that city of sports failure. The Sonics were stolen by the 21st century version of carpetbaggers. The Seahawks blew the Super Bowl. The Mariners continue to flounder like a dying seal in Elliot Bay.
The baseball season can not come soon enough. We need to be rescued from the sea of despair by the Mariners.
Baseball fans know about the dramatic finish to the 1960 World series when Pittsburgh’s Bill Mazeroski hit a walk-off homer to beat the New York Yankees. But in 1927 the Yankees and Pirates had another wild finish, though not as dramatic.
There have been debates on whether the 1927 or 1939 Yankees were the best team in baseball history, so it is no surprise that the 27 Yankees dominated the first three games against Pittsburgh in the World Series, winning the first two games at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, 5-4, and 6-2. They had no days off back then, and the next day at Yankee Stadium, the Yanks won 8-1. Then came game four.
Carmen Hill, 22-11, took the mound for the Pirates and rookie Wilcy Moore, 19-7 for New York. It was the best season either pitcher would have.
Both teams scored one run in the first. The Pirates came on an a single by shortstop Glenn Wright, and the Yankees run on a Babe Ruth single. In the bottom of the 5th, Babe struck again, this time on a two-run homer. In Pittsburgh’s 7th, Pirate catcher Earl Smith led off and reached on error by Moore, Emil Yde pinch ran, and Fred Brickell, batting for Hill, reached on Tony Lazzeri‘s error. Lloyd Waner then bunted them to second and third. Clyde Barnhart, the left fielder, followed and singled in run and Paul Waner hit a sacrifice fly that tied the game, 3-3.
Bottom of the 9th Johnny Miljus, 8-3, 1.90 ERA, was beginning his 3rd inning of relief work. Earl Coombs led off with a walk. Mark Koenig then reached on a bunt single. Miljus uncorked a wild pitch with the Babe at the plate. I would not doubt that Miljus was feeling some anxiety about facing the Babe who hit 60 home runs that season. With runners at 2nd and 3rd, he gave Babe a free pass. But that brought up another problem, that being Lou Gehrig who drove in 175 runs in 1927. You think Miljus might be feeling more jitters with the World Series winning run at third base and no outs? If he was nervous facing Gehrig it didn’t show as Gehrig struck out, as did the next batter Bob Muesel. That had to bring a sigh of relief. Now there were two outs, one out from extra innings and a chance for the Pirates to salvage at least one game. The batter was Lazzeri who made a big error in the Pirate 7th. But Lazzeri was not the hero. There was no heroics. Miljus threw a wild pitch, Coombs scored, and the Yankees swept the Pirates.
The Pirates got their revenge in 1960 with an even wilder finish.
If you are baseball fan you are either a Yankee lover or Yankee hater. There is no in-between. People hate the Yankees for the same reason they hate major corporations, mainly pinstripes, symbolic of money, corporate greed, the rich and powerful. The Yankees have won 27 World Series titles out of the 40 Fall Classics they have played. The St. Louis Cardinals are second with a mere 11 titles. Chances are by the end of this century they will still be the leader.
But is it not time to look at the Boston Red Sox as the new team on the block to despise, to hate, to root against. Are they the ‘new’ Yankees, the team with too much success?
It was fun in 2004 when Boston swept the Cardinals for their first title since 1918. They were the sentimental pick, the pick for those that love the underdog, the cute, cuddly pick. But things have changed.
Since 2004 Boston has won three titles, the Yankees one. After sweeping the Cardinals in 2004, they swept the Rockies in 2007 and took four of six from the 2013 Cardinals. That is a 12-2 World Series record in their last three appearances. Dominating. Of course those type of numbers appeal to the type of neutral fans who are front runners, the type who only pull for top teams. These type of fans are to be avoided. There is something wrong with these folk.
True, the Yankees have won 951 games in the last ten years and Boston 910. In 2012 Boston won only 69, but if you take their average season for the other nine years and replace the 69 with the 93, they still fall short of New York.
But what matters is the World Series. And with three dominating championships in ten years I no longer find the Red Sox the cute and cuddly choice. They are too good, too dominating, too powerful. The only thing missing is pinstripes. The pinstripes may not be visible, but they are there in spirit and intent.
It is time for new cute and cuddly choices. Some team needs to step up like the Cubs or the Mariners. Okay, neither team can step up quick enough, but at least Boston provides true fans with someone to root against come October.
For the record I am not a Yankee fan. I grew up a Dodger fan, now I am a fan of losers.
When you consider the Boston Red Sox were 5-0 in World Series play, having won the flag in 1903, 1912, 1915, 1916, and 1918, before losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1946 and throw in two more October meetings in the Fall Classic, you see they have history between them.
In the 1946 opener, the Cardinals led 2-1, but in the top of the 9th inning, Tom McBride hit a 2-out single scoring pinch runner Don Gutteridge to tie the game, then in the 10th Bobby Doerr hit a 2-out homer to give the Sox a 3-2 win. The Cardinals, however, would win games six and seven to claim the title. McBride, by the way, had only one more hit in the Series, going 2-12 with that one game tying rbi.
Boston would not get to the World Series again until 1967 when once again they faced the Cardinals. This was during an era when the games were played during the day, not at night, thus assuring high school boys, such as yours truly, would skip school, go to a friends house, where a dozen of us watched the games. Sometimes teachers would allow someone in the class to play their transistor radio so everyone could hear the game. The World Series was bigger then, more like the Super Bowl today, and school obviously more fun.
But I digress. The 67 opener saw the Cardinals Bob Gibson beat Boston 2-1, then shutting them out in game four, 6-0, and winning game seven 7-2. Gibson was dominant in World Series play, going 7-2, losing to Mickey Lolich and the Tigers in game seven of 1968 and to Mel Stottlemyre and the Yankees 8-3 in game two of the 1964 Classic.
So Boston after going 5-0 in World Series championships had now lost two straight, both to the Cardinals, and both in seven games. Boston would lose to Cincinnati in 1975 and to the Mets in 1986, and losing both in game seven.
The Cardinals had sent the Red Sox into a tailspin, but in 2004, the curse of the Bambino ended when Boston got their revenge and swept the Cardinals in four games. No doubt they knew a game seven would be fatal.
The Cardinals are 11-7 in the World Series, the Red Sox are 7-4. The way Boston played in the 2013 opener they are trying to avoid another game seven. We shall see how history writes this Series.
I pulled for the Detroit Tigers during the recent ALCS, mainly because the Boston Red Sox, has become, like the Yankees, a team you root against. They keep winning like a machine, and that is irritating. But I also like Jim Leyland, former Tigers manager. He is a baseball man, the type that lives and breathes baseball. Crusty in a lovable curmudgeonly way at times, he never publicly threw his players under the bus.
But will he become a Hall of Fame manger? After eleven years with the Pittsburgh Pirates and three divisional titles, he won his only World Series in 1997, the first of two seasons with the Florida Marlins. In his eight Tiger years he won two pennants and three straight division titles. Not to bad.
It was a homecoming of sorts for Leyland when he became the Tigers manager in 2006. The Tigers signed him as a catcher in 1963, spending seven seasons in their minor league system, batting a woeful .222. He managed in the Tigers minor league system from 1971-1981, taking his teams to the post season six times and winning three league championships. He won Manager of the Year in 1977 an 1978 in the Florida State League and in 1979 won the award in the American Association.
Leyland is and has been a Tiger for most of his baseball career.
He certainly has the respect of Hall of Fame voters, has won three pennants, and a World Series, but there is one drawback, if the voters consider managerial numbers. In his 22 years as manager-another plus for the Hall- he won 1769 and lost 1728. That comes out to a .506 winning percentage, barely over .500.
One manager has a winning percentage of .486. That is Connie Mack who owned and managed the Philadelphia Phillies for 53 years but head some great pennant winning teams in the days of yore. Bucky Harris managed 29 years, mostly for the Washington Senators, and won two World Series titles, but had a .493 percentage. Beloved Yankee manager Casey Stengel‘s winning percentage was .508 and Wilbert Robinson was .500.
So does Jim Leyland belong in the Hall? I am sure they are preparing his plaque as we speak.