Sunday, November 14, 2004

Where are they Now?

Last week we took a look at Randy Bush, a player that spent his entire career in a Minnesota Twins uniform. This weeks feature is on a player, Chuck Knoblauch, who should have spent his entire career with the Twins. Chuck Knoblauch stepped into the Twins starting line-up in 1991 and transformed the Twins weakest positions into one of their strongest.

The 1990 Minnesota Twins finished in last place in the American League West. They had a platoon of second basemen in Al Newman, Fred Manrique and Nelson Liriano that combined for a .243 average and a .295 on base percentage. The next season chuck Knoblauch stepped in and batted .281 with an OBP of .351 on his way to Rookie of the Year honors. In the post season his remarkable play continued as he hit .326 while getting on base .423. Knoblauch helped take the Twins from worst to first.

His career in Minnesota continued to thrive. In 1994 he was on pace to break Earl Webb's major league record of 67 doubles before the season was cut short due to strike. He finished the season with 45 doubles in 109 games. Knoblauch hit career highs in homeruns and batting average in 1996 as he hit .341 with 13 homers. He had become the best second basemen in the league. Chuck Knoblauch played the game the way it was meant to be played, with 100% pure hustle. He was a great role model for any youth learning the game.

In August of 1996 Knoblauch said he wanted to be Twin his entire. He then signed a longterm contract with the team. The following year he stole a career high 62 bases and won the Gold Glove award. However, by the end of the 1997 season the losing in Minnesota started to get to Chuck. His relationship with Tom Kelly was on the rocks and an incident with a Twins fan gave him a bad rep in Minnesota. In September Knoblauch demanded a trade to a contending team. That offseason he was dealt to the Yankees. He finished his Twins career with an average of .304, an OBP of .384 and 276 stolen bases.

His first two years with the Yankees looked promising. Knoblauch hit 17 and 18 homeruns and the Yankees won two World Championships. However, two years removed from his gold glove season Knoblauch developed a mental tic in the field. After fielding the ball he would hesitate before making a throw to first. This caused a career high 26 errors. Midway through the 2000 season it was clear that Knoblauch would nolonger be able to play second base and he was moved to left field.

Returning to the Dome in 2001 marked one of the saddest moments I ever had as a Twins fan. Never before in my life was I embarrassed to call myself a Twins fan, but that was the case when Knoblauch returned. Here was a guy who helped lead the Twins to a World Championship, stole more bases then anyone else in team history, hustled his butt off for seven seasons and did everything that was asked of him. When upper management would not surround him with any other players he asked to leave. How did we repay Knoblauch? By throwing batteries at him in left field. He was booed and tormented to the point that Tom Kelly had to escort him to his position to get fans to stop throwing foreign objects.

After his downfall at second base Knoblauch's career quickly ended. By the start of the 2002 season he was playing with the Royals. His limited playing time and lack of production led to his retirement following the season. Where is Chuck Knoblauch now?

Today Knoblauch is still retired and at the age of 35 is watching more baseball then he had when he was playing in the majors. He is loving retirement and enjoys watching games from his home in Houston. He has been following the career of another Yankee very closely. Bubba Crosby was coached by Knoblauch's father growing up and Crosby helped lead his father's team to a state title in his final season of coaching at Bellaire High School. Bubba Crosby credits the Knoblauch's with a lot of his success today. In fact before the 2004 season began Chuck had Bubba Crosby over for dinner. Bubba's chances of making the Yankee roster were pretty slim. Knoblauch told him not to let the Yankees cut him. Bubba did just that. Having a great spring training he made the final roster (although he was sent down to the minors later in the season).

Knoblauch has been sited at many ballparks around the country. Only this time in the stands, not on the field. His return to the majors is very unlikely, but I will always cherish the years he spent in Minnesota. Hustling around the base paths and making great plays at second is his trademark. Part of me always hoped that he would make a Blylevenlike return to Minnesota, but Chuck has insisted that those days are behind him. Who knows, maybe one day he will be spotted at a Twins game cheering on his old team.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Once Again Johan Santana is Lights Out

Even when it came to Cy Young voting this year Johan Santana was lights out taking a clean sweep of the first place voting. Personally I thought there would be at least one idiot out East who would give Curt Schilling a first place vote. While Johan Santana wins his first Cy Young award let's take a look at the brilliance of his season.

Johan finished the season with 20 wins, a 2.61 ERA, 265 strikeouts, a .92 whip, opponets batting average of .192 and only 54 walks in 228 innings. He was lights out in the playoffs against the Yankees pitching 12 innings allowing just one run and striking out twelve. The most amazing thing about Johan's season is that at the All Star break he wasn't even playing well enough to be an All Star.

Before the season started Santana lost arbitration and made only $1.6 million. After offseason surgery Johan started the season with a 2-3 record and 5.46 ERA through May. At this point in the season I knew something just wasn't right. From then on Johan went 18-3 with a 1.51 ERA and 211 K's in a 167 innings. Even more amazing is what Johan did from July 17th on. He was 13-0 with a 1.21 ERA and a 129 K's in 104 innings. Toward the end of the season he had a stretch of 34 straight scoreless innings in which he allowed only 14 hits, 2 walks and struck out 47 batters.

Hopefully the Twins will be able to lock Santana up to a multi-year contract this offseason. Not only is Johan a great baseball player, but he is also a community leader. He is a strong supporter of Twins Fest and works with a local pastor to improve the lives of many from his home country of Venezuela and younster in the metropolitan area.

Something that sets Johan aside from other major league players of his caliber is his humbleness. After winning the award Johan said, "I'm surprised this has been a unanimous decision. I thought this was going to be a real tough race." He went on to say, "It was amazing. To me, (Schilling) was just a hero. He did great things for Boston and for baseball. That's a role model for a young baseball player to follow."

At the start of the 2005 season Johan will be 26 and coming off four consectutive seasons of vast improvement. Look for him to continue his dominance as he strives to become the best pitcher in baseball. Every Twins fan knew this day was coming in the middle of the 2002 season when Johan first became a starter. As a 22 year old kid he was going out and making veterans look foolish using raw talent. He continues to develop his pitches and his ability to call his own games. Congratulations Johan and good luck next year. Keep wowing your opponents and go out and win Minnesota another World Series.

Lehman Named 2006 Ryder Cup Captain

As the US looks to snap their Ryder Cup woes they appointed Tom Lehman as their captain for the 2006 match played in Ireland. Many people think that Tom Lehman is an underachiever in comparison to past Ryder Cup captains as he won only 5 times on tour. 1996 clearly marked the high point in Lehman's career as he won the British Open and the Tour Championship. He also won player of the year and was the money leader. He had a chance to win all four majors that year finishing in the top 10.

What sets Lehman aside from the captains of the past two years is his ability to win in the Ryder Cup. The Ryder Cup was much bigger then major championships to Tom Lehman and it shows as his record is 5-3-2 including 3-0 in his individual matches. He's already that he'll select players who are winning. If someone steps up big toward the end of the summer and is playing hot Lehman won't be afraid to make that player a captain's pick. That will include himself. We have not had a Ryder Cup captain play in the event since 1963 when Arnold Palmer played at East Lake. Watch out Europe, the last thing you want to see is a fired up Lehman playing on Sunday of the Ryder Cup.

Sim League Sports

Recently I was introduced to Sim League Football on Although friends had been pushing me to join baseball sim league in the past I never made the commitment. Finally, I threw down ten bucks and signed a team up for sim league football.

Nothing has brought me this much enjoyment since my first year of fantasy football. I am not sure if you can remember your first fantasy football experience but mine came as a 6th grader back in 1992. I could not wait for Sundays to come around. The experience was so new, so fresh and nothing could beat it. At last something has beat that fantasy football experience.

Sim league football is a different type of thrill with more strategy involved. In fantasy football the most important part of the season is the draft. Obviously one can improve their team after the draft using early pick ups and making trades. However, after the draft very little strategy is needed. Sim league football is just the opposite. While the draft is still important, there is a lot of strategy that goes into each game.

Instead of drafting from a pool of professionals in the game today you can draft any player from any era. For example, if you loved watching the Packers growing up, as with my father, then Jim Taylor may be your main man in the backfield. For those Redskins fans out there that know Joe Theismans career was cut way too short now you have the chance to let him play again. There are no limitations to the players you can have on your team other then the $60 million dollar salary cap.

After teams are selected you can decide what type of defensive and offensive schemes you will run. Whether you want to be a pass happy or pound the ball down their throats. On defense you can bring the house or sit back in coverage. You can shut down the run or play the pass. You decide when to use the dime package or the nickel back or even if you want to stack eight in the box to shut down the likes of Barry Sanders, Jim Brown and Eric Dickerson.

After you have set up your schemes the computer simulates games based on how you run your offense and defense. Using players stats from the past they figure out how much you can run the ball with certain players or pass with others. Some guys like to draft Troy Aikman to see what his career may have been had he passed 35-45 times a game. Others try to pound the run using a great offensive line and a solid 2000 yard rusher. Whatever you style of football is sim league will get you there, but once the season starts then you can see if you style wins out.

I can only hope that more people will share in the thrill of sim league sports.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Where are they Now?

Last week we took a look into a clutch Minnesota hitter in Brian Harper. Harper was a player that achieved success in the limited amount of time he started in the big leagues. Randy Bush, or you probably know him as Bush Commander Randy, was another clutch performer for the Twins.

Randy Bush was a second round pick (37th overall) of the 1979 amateur baseball draft. He broke into the big leagues three years later, just in time to ruin Jim Clancy’s chance at a perfect game. Pinch hitting in the ninth inning Bush singled off Clancy and broke up his perfect game no hitter. Pinch hitting would be Bush’s specialty. In 1986 Bush tied an AL record with back to back pinch hit homeruns and in 1991 he led the AL with 13 pinch hits. This would be a trend that Minnesotans would get use to. Bush stepping in off the bench and delivering.

Although Bush played 12 major league seasons, he was full time player for only six. Of those six seasons he reached double figures in homeruns five times despite never having more then 400 at bats. His power was respected by others teams and was never more evident then it was in 1988 when he recorded 14 intentional walks.

Fielding never came easy for Randy Bush and it really limited his playing time in the big leagues. He was a full time outfielder for 4 seasons but was a liability in the field. He was not particularly fast and did not have a great arm. Even Tom Brunansky beat out Bush as the full time right fielder for the Twins from 1982 to 1987. That is saying a lot because Brunansky himself was a not a particularly strong outfielder. Desperately trying to get Bush more at bats lead to him filling at first base when Hrbek needed a rest. However, the majority of Bush’s career games were played as a DH.

After the 1993 season Bush decided to hang up his mitt. He played his entire career with the Minnesota Twins and apart of two World Series Championship teams. He was the first player ever to hit a ball of the roof of the Metrodome (it was caught for an out in fall territory). He also tied the club record for RBI’s in a single game with 8. Where is Randy Bush now?

Today Randy Bush, 45, is enjoying the life of a retired baseball player/coach. This summer marked the fifth and final season for Randy as the head coach of the University of New Orleans. His resignation was a move that shocked the entire program. In his first season as head coach Bush led UNO to their first Sun Belt Conference title since 1988 and their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1996. He was a great role model for the young men in the program as their welfare, both academically and athletically, was always his first priority. Now he is enjoying retirement with his wife Cathy and will continue to host the occasional hitting clinic. However, something tells me we haven’t heard the last of Bush Commander Randy.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Harsh Words about a Horrible Human Being

After mocking Ray Lewis with a dance in Sunday's 15-10 victory over the Ravens, Terrell Owens wasn't done. Wednesday he had a few words about Ray as well.

During his weekly press conference Owens said, "It's discouraging at times that I get labeled and put in that same mold and that I'm the worst guy that ever put on a uniform. It's funny. I listen to all the comments and it baffles me.

"You have a guy like Ray Lewis, who, I mean, I thought pretty much he was my friend. I mean, this is a guy, you know, double-murder case, he could have been in jail. Seems like the league embraces a guy like that. But I'm going out scoring touchdowns, having fun, but I'm the bad guy."

In very few instances can I say that I agree with Terrell Owens. In fact this is probably the first, but Owens makes a legitimate case. Here we have a guy less then five years removed from a murder trial in which he rolled over on two of his buddies and got off nearly scott free. By no stretch of the imagination would I call Ray a poster child for the NFL, but the media, announcer and just about every one in the league embraces this guy. One year after the murders took place the league gave him the Super Bowl MVP when other guys, namely Trent Dilfer, were just as deserving if not more. I found this to be an extremely embarrassing time for the NFL and was proud of Wheaties and Disney World for not allowing Ray to be apart of their advertising.

Ray Lewis has shown absolutely no remorse for his actions. He has not owned up to any of the wrong doing. He obstructed justice. He hung his friends out to dry. Worst of all, he has done nothing to heal the wounds of the victims’ families. In fact he has spun the whole thing to make it look like a personal trial God put him through. Give me a break Ray.

I have absolutely no respect for this guy. Ray, you need show some sympathy and remorse for the families of the victims. You need to say you're sorry. You need to offer anything you can to help them heal. You need to own up to what you did. You need to tell the truth for crying out loud.

Instead Ray hides behind his coaches and players anytime the media brings up these events. Ray Lewis might be a great player, but he is a horrible human being. Terrell Owens might be an idiot. But at least we don't hear about him driving drunk, smuggling drugs, raping women, or worse yet getting wrapped up in murder cases. When Terrell Owens is on the field he is a total jerk. However, jerk doesn’t even begin to describe what Ray Lewis is as a person.

Where are They Now?

Last week’s feature on Tom Nieto took a look at a great defensive catcher. This week we look at a catcher who went on the offensive for six seasons with the Twins. Brian Harper had a great career with the Twins and had he become a Twin sooner may have put up great career numbers in the big leagues.

In his senior year of high school Brian Harper hit .490. This was good enough to earn a full ride scholarship to Pepperdine University. For the non-baseball fans out there Pepperdine is a baseball powerhouse. Harper decided to decline the offer in favor of playing major league baseball for the California Angels. He was a 4th round pick in the 1977 amateur draft.

In Harpers first year of professional baseball he hit .293 with 24 homers and 101 RBI at Quad City. Then in 1979 playing in El Paso he hit .315 with 37 double and 90 RBI followed by another great season batting .350 with 45 doubles, 28 homers and 122 RBI in the Angels AAA Salt Lake City. However, after five impressive seasons in the Angels minor league system he was traded to Pittsburg.

This trade made absolutely no sense as Harper was forced to play behind a great catcher in Tony Pena. After three seasons as Pena’s backup, he went to St. Louis and backed up Nieto. He bounced through Detroit and Oakland before finally landing with the Twins in 1988.

By the time the ’89 season rolled around Harper beat out Tim Laudner as the Twins starting catcher. Playing nearly full time he batted .325 with 32 extra base hits and 57 RBI. In six years with the Twins Harper never batted lower then .294 and went on to hit .307 for the Twins. He was a big part of the 1991 World Championship team as he hit .391 in the World Series.

Looking back at Harper’s career, perhaps the saddest thing that happened to him was not being given the chance to play. By the time he finally became a starter he was nearly 30 years old. When he left the Twins in 1994 he was 34 and his better years were behind him.

Something interesting about Brian Harper’s career was his ability to put the ball into play. Harper finished his career with only 188 strikeouts. This breaks down to 1 strikeout every 17 at bats. To put this in perspective Adam Dunn finished the 2004 season with 195 strikeouts or nearly 1 every 3 at bats.

However, something even more interesting about Harper was his inability to walk. Usually hitters that don’t strikeout often walk more frequently. Harper finished his career with only 133 walks. Ty Cobb had over 1200 walks and struck out about 400 times. Wade Boggs had about 1400 walks while striking out around 700 times, and Tony Gwynn walked nearly 800 times while striking out about 400 times. All three of these hitters were hitters who did not strikeout often, but all three finished their careers with nearly a 2 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio.

So where is Brian Harper now? Since he finished his career in 1995 Harper has become a great teacher of the game. His passion for the game has not diminished one bit. He coached high school baseball in Scottsdale for 4 seasons before becoming the manager of the Mesa Angels in 2002. He continues to put on hitting clinics and loves working with kids. I wish the best of luck to Brian Harper as he continues his career in professional baseball and will continue to follow his Mesa Angels for years to come.

Monday, October 25, 2004

It Was Worth the Wait

The last time the Cincinnati Bengals played on Monday Night Football was October 19, 1992. Twelve years went by between visits and a lot has changed. George Bush was in office, not George W. Bush.

The Toronto Blue Jays were on their way to wrapping up the World Series. The Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, and San Diego Chargers were all in first place. The New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks were in last place. The Cowboys won the Superbowl over the Buffalo Bills.

David Schula was coaching the Bengals. Tim McGee and Carl Pickens were the Bengals leading receivers and who other then Boomer Esiason was taking the helm. Harold Green rushed for 1,100 yards and the Bengals finished 5-11.

Twelve years ago Bengals lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 20-0. It was Bill Cowher first season as head coach of the Steelers. Tonight was another story. Cincinnati came into the game 1-4. After an impressive 8-8 last year, this year has gotten off to a rocky start. Tonight's match up looked pretty lopsided on paper. The Bengals were taking on a Broncos team that was 5-1 and had the best defense in the league. But the Bengals came out hungry and shocked the Broncos 23-10.

Chad Johnson caught 7 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown while Rudi Johnson added 119 on the ground with a touchdown.

It was an exciting game and lets hope for the folks of Cincinnati that they do not have to wait another twelve years to play on Monday Night. And hopefully it will be a lot less then fifteen years before they host another Monday Night game.

The Perfect Way to Spend a Beautiful Sunday Afternoon

I could not have found a better way to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon then watching the North Dakota State Bison soccer team battle the University of Minnesota at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was the closest the Bison had to home game this year. As playing in their first year of Division 1 soccer called for 17 road games. The turn out for NDSU was tremendous. They drew nearly as many fans as the Gophers.

Before the game Brooke Hartman was honored for her spectacular play and accomplishments over the past 4 years on and off the field. I had no idea that they would be honoring her and although I am a strong supporter of Bison athletics, I would not have been in attendance Sunday if Brooke were not playing. For this reason it was a delightful surprise. Now anyone who knows Brooke knows that she sets out to be the best at whatever she does. For this reason the list of her accomplishments is seemingly endless and took the announcer about 5 minutes to rattle off.

After a wonderful pre game both teams took the field. In the first half the Bison looked strong. They had a couple of scoring opportunities early but just couldn’t put it in. Then the Gophers struck first on a one timer scored by Haley Lentsch. It didn’t take long for the Bison to answer back. In the final minutes of the first half Michelle Martinez scored from about 30 yards out. The ball hit the cross bar, bounced off the ground, hit the cross bar again and went in. It was a great shot and the Bison fans were juiced.

Towards the end of the first half Carly Christensen showed the Gophers that she wasn’t going to take their physical play without a fight. After getting knocked down from behind she stood up and gave a U of M player an elbow to the shoulder. Later in the half she took one of the Gophers down and although she was called for a penalty the crowd rallied behind her.

The second half was looking good until Kelli Reed mishandled an easy shot from Becky Delleria to give the Gophers a 2-1 lead. The Bison continued to work hard, but about midway through the second half they lost Carly Christensen as she broke her nose on a collision with a U of M player going for a header. The Gophers had a chance to put the game away later in the half as Haley Lentsch had a breakaway. However, Brooke Hartman and another Bison player chased her down and made the stop.

Things were just too tough to overcome once Jami Rozell was issued her second yellow card of the game which resulted in an ejection and a one game suspension. The Bison were forced to play a player short the rest of the game and the Gophers added another goal to make the score 3-1.

I was very proud of the North Dakota State women as they fought hard and could have pulled this one off had a couple of things gone their way. My college soccer experience was more then I had hoped for and I have to thank the girls for giving me a great game to watch. The North Dakota State Bison will be playing out the rest of their season in California in two weeks.

Congratulations to Brooke Hartman on a great career at NDSU and good luck with the rest of the Season.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Making Things Interesting

Even when the Red Sox win one somebody has to make the game interesting. When Manny Ramirez stepped up in the 7th inning with runners on first and second, he had a perfect opportunity to finally come through for the Sox in the playoffs. Ramirez laced a single to center. The first big hit he had in eight games. However, instead of hustling down the line, he raised his hand in celebration as he jogged to first. When Edmonds came up throwing to the plate Ramirez was unable to take second while Cabrera easily took third.

David Ortiz then singled in Cabrera. If Ramirez had taken second he probably would have scored. Instead he was stranded at second base to end the inning.

After costing his team a run in the bottom of the seventh, Ramirez was out to blow the game in the top of the eighth. With runners on first and second Renteria hit a single to left. Marquis was held at third. Ramirez then bobbled the ball and Marquis scored.

Larry Walker followed again with runners on first and second. He hit a short fly into left field. Ramirez came on to make the catch. A catch he could have made in stride but instead decided to make a sliding catch. The only problem is he forgot the ball. Ramirez knee caught on his slide and he popped up. The ball landed on the back side of his glove and sprung free.

One runner scored and the Cards had runners on second and third with one out. Luckily for Manny, Kevin Foulke brought his game and retired the final two hitters of the inning.

After botching back to back plays the camera was nearly fixed on Ramirez. He had a look on his face that every ball players has had at one time or another. That look of knowing you let down eight other guys. As the camera stayed focused on Manny, the expression on his face allowed you to feel what he was going through. That torture of knowing that you may have cost your team the ballgame.

Luckily for Manny his teamed rallied back to win the game. I had predicted Ramirez to be the Series MVP and I still think that he will come through in a big way. If he wants a shot at MVP he has a lot of catching up to do.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Mixing It Up With Music

I decided to add a new dimension to my blog. Once a week I will sit down and do a feature on a couple bands that I listen to. I will give a small intro and then look at some of my favorite songs/albums by them.

Less Than Jake
One band that I have always admired is Less Than Jake. These guys bring a sound to the table that no other band can match.

Less Than Jake formed in a the early 1990's with three members (pretty common for a punk band), but added a trombone player and baritone saxophone player to give them a great ska sound. This song is off of their third full length album Borders and Boundaries and is titled Look What Happened. This is my favorite Less Than Jake record, but highly recommend checking them all out.

this is an audio post - Less Than Jake

You can check out more of their songs or their website by clicking on the links below.

Less Than Jake

Less Than Jake Songs

Mad Caddies
Since I have arleady started with a ska band I will stay on the same wave length this week. The Mad Caddies are another of one my personal favorites.

These kats recorded their first record just out of high school, Quality Soft Core. They're a band that brings tons of energy to the floor with a whopping 10 members in their group. The first song featured here is from Duck and Cover and is titled Macho Nachos. The second is titled Drinking for 11 and is off their Live From Toronto record but was originally put out on Just One More.

this is an audio post - Mad Caddies

this is an audio post - Mad Caddies

You can check more Mad Caddies stuff out at the link below.

Mad Caddies

Hope you all enjoy this little taste of ska/punk music. These bands are both rad to see live, eventhough they're getting a little older. I would recommend buying every record they've put out. I have purchased them at all some point and have not been disappointed. Stay tuned for next weeks feature.

NDSU Women's Soccer takes on the U of M

Tomorrow I will be attending the NDSU women's soccer game in Minneapolis. Don't worry, this will be the first and only time that I will sacrifice a perfect Sunday afternoon of watching football for soccer.

However, I do feel it is more important to support friends when they are in town then to watch football on tv. For that reason I am going to watch Brooke Hartmen and the Bison tear through the Gophers.

Coming into the game the Bison are 5-8-1, losing three of those games in overtime. The Gophers are 6-10 with 8 of their losses coming in conference games. Hopefully the Bison will come out strong and pull off the shocker. Good luck Bison. We'll see you at the game.

Friday, October 22, 2004

On the Brink of a Great World Series

Wednesday night the Red Sox put the finishing touches on the greatest comeback in playoff history.

Last night Scott Rolen knocked Roger Clemens and the Houston Astros out with one pitch.

After two League Championships filled with this much excitement we can only hope that the World Series doesn't let us down.

Since I have not made any playoff predictions to this point, I'll finally throw my hat in the ring and make a couple of World Series predictions. I am trying to be completely objective, which should be pretty easy because I do not care about either of these teams in the Series. However, any fan of baseball should be juiced about this Series as this should be a great match up of two of this years powerhouse teams.

Let us start with the World Series winner. I have a feeling that this Series will come down to the winner of game 7. So here are my game by game predictions.

Game One: Williams vs. Wakefield
The first game will go to Woody Williams. After an unbelievable stretch against the Yankees, the Bo Sox will come out a little flat in game one and the Cards will sneak one early. Wakefield may be affective early, but the Cards will figure him out in the middle innings and get to the bullpen by the sixth.

Game Two: Marquis vs. Schilling
After a rough start in Houston, Marquis will come back and battle well in game two. However, it won't be enough to get his boys the win against Schilling. The Sox will tie things up going into St. Louis.

Game Three: Martinez vs. Morris
After losing home field advantage in game one, Boston will regain it in game three as Pedro will put together a strong start. Morris will dual for a while but Boston will get to the bullpen before the seventh and put the Cards away.

Game Four: Lowe vs. Suppan
Needing game four the Cards will battle back behind Suppan to even up the Series. Lowe will not put together another performance like he did in game seven of the ALCS and the Red Sox bullpen won't be able to keep the game close.

Game Five: Wakefield vs. Williams
Wakefield will drop his second game of the Series as the Cards will put the pressure back on the Big Two of Bo Sox heading back into Boston.

Game Six: Morris/Marquis vs. Schilling
The Cards may opt to use Morris and Suppan in games six and seven to get a little more experience on the mound then Marquis can provide. At any rate whoever takes the bump will be facing a playoff stud and Schilling will once again get it done with the season on the line.

Game Seven: Morris/Suppan vs. Martinez
In seven game sets I always believe that the winner of game six has the advantage in game seven. This is bad news for the Cardinals. However, if the Cards save Morris for game seven and have Suppan coming out of the pen, things could get really interesting. However, I believe that Martinez will come up big and Boston's bullpen will hold off the Cardinals in game seven to finally break the curse of the Great Bambino.

After losing to the Cardinals in ’46 and ’67, the Red Sox will finally get a little revenge against another team that has kept the curse alive for so many years. Ramirez will redeem himself from an ALCS in which he didn’t even drive in a run by winning the World Series MVP honors. Pedro will also make a case for himself with his game seven performance, but it won’t be enough. Dave Ortiz will continue rolling in the Series but it will be the role players for the Sox that make the big difference.

On the other side, Pujols will put up more great numbers and Edmonds will continue to make great plays in the field. Womack will keep battling injuries to make an impact for the Cards as well. Jason Isringhausen will have a good Series outside of one pitch, but that pitch will prove to be costly.

Happy viewing and check back for game by game analyses as the World Series continues. Congratulations to both teams for getting this far and Good Luck to Al “Monst” Hipps on his preseason and preseries bets on the Red Birds. For your sake Al I hope I am wrong.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Where are they Now?

This is a new feature in my blog that will take a look at former Twin players and where they are now. For the first few months I will look at players from the 1987 and 1991 Championship teams. The first player we will be looking at is Tom Nieto.

For those of you who have not seen the 1987 Twins Win video, Tom Nieto’s interviews may have been my favorite part. Nieto was a class act who was a great fielder, a fun guy in the clubhouse, but was a sub par hitter (and that's being nice).

Nieto came up with the Cardinals and they believed he would be the successor to Darrell Porter. After batting .279 his rookie season they had high hopes. Nieto’s day in the sun came in 1985 in game four of the World Series. In a two strike count, Nieto laid down a suicide squeeze that scored the third and final run of a 3-0 victory for the Cards. Although the Cardinals went on to lose the series, Nieto would get another shot at a ring a couple years later with the Twins.

After signing with Montreal in 1986, Nieto was thrown in a trade with Jeff Reardon the Twins in 1987. Perfect timing for Nieto as the Twins went on to win the AL West and eventually the World Series. Nieto finally had his ring, although he did not have a single at bat in post season.

In 1988 Nieto went on to have what could be the worst season in major league history. He batted .067, going 4-60 with no extra base hits, one walk and no RBI’s. He did score one run that year. Another interesting fact about Nieto’s career is that he never stole a base. He finished his career with zero steals in three attempts. After trying to think of a reason why you would steal Tom Nieto, I tried to think of other major leaguers who could have finished their careers without a stolen base. Cecil Fielder? Nope, he had two steals in eight attempts. Ernie Lombardi? Nope, he had 8 career steals. Johnny Bassler? He also had 8 steals. Boog Powell? Even he finished his career with 20 stolen bases. As I looked through the slowest players by decade, I could not find a player who finished his career without ever stealing a base.

Nieto wrapped up his career with two more sub .200 seasons batting. His numbers just kept getting worse. After batting .279 his rookie year, he hit .225 in his only full season behind the plate. Then he hit an even .200 the next two season and never reached the .200 mark again.

So where is Tom Nieto now? He is coaching baseball in for the Palm Beach Cardinals in the Florida State league. The Cardinals finished the season 73-61 in Nieto’s second season as their manager and had a season full of excitement. They played 50 one run games and had 11 comebacks in their final at bat. The previous seven years Nieto had spent coaching in the Yankees organization. Nieto has spent a lot of this time developing young catching prospects as he was a great defensive catcher himself. He is now 43 and still enjoys baseball as much as he did when he came up in 1984. Who knows, maybe we will see him in Fort Myers leading the Twins to another championship someday.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

How clutch is Derek Jeter during the postseason?

With the postseason upon us, we have finally reached the peak of the 2004 baseball season. My favorite part of the postseason is watching my hometown Minnesota Twins try to get over the hump and reach the World Series for the first time since ’91. However, the last two years the Twins season has come to an abrupt end as they lost to the New York Yankees in four. Over the last 9 season watching the Yankees in the postseason comes without fail. Listening to announcers ramble on about Derek Jeter being clutch this time of year also comes without fail. Time and again we here announcers call Jeter a “winner” and discuss how clutch he is in the postseason. But just how clutch is Derek Jeter in the playoffs? In order to better understand this question I took a look at a few different aspects of Jeter’s postseason career.

Does Derek Jeter put up better numbers in the playoffs then he does in the regular season? Jeter’s career batting average coming into this season was .317. His postseason average coming into this season was .314, a push. His slugging and on base percentages were .389 and .462 in the regular season; while his postseason numbers were .389 and .469. Another push. In the regular season he scores about .76 runs per game to only .70 runs per game in the postseason, and he drives in .51 runs per game in regular season compare to only .33 runs per game in the postseason. He does have a slightly better stolen base percentage, although only by 2%. As far as statistics go it would appear that Jeter’s postseason numbers are comparable to, although slightly worse then his regular season numbers.

But everybody knows that Jeter actually turns it up another level once his team is in the World Series, right? Not exactly. His numbers in the Series are actually slightly worse then his overall numbers in the postseason. Although he has had some great series, he has also had a couple sub par ones. In 1996 Jeter hit .250 and drove in 1 run. In 2001 he drove in 1 run again, but this time hit only .148. Furthermore, Jeter has never driven in more then 2 runs in any World Series. This leads to two points. One, that Jeter has not been consistent in his World Series performances. And two, that his postseason performances have not escalated in the bigger games.

Then it must be from his clutch performances with the game on the line. The one play that stands out above any other is Jeter throwing Giambi out at home in game 4 of the ALDS. This truly was a great play. However, one play cannot define a player as clutch. Searching for others, I did find that Jeter hit the game-winning homer in game 4 of the 2001 World Series. However, this led me to another question. How many chances has Jeter had to hit a game winning hit in the World Series?

Although I could not come up with an exact number, I estimate it to be around 10-12 chances. He has hit one game winning homerun and also hit a game tying singled on occasion. (Jeter has had game tying hits in other series, but both of them came early in games and for our purposes would not be considered clutch situations.) On these opportunities we know that Jeter was successful twice, but I could not successfully conclude how many times Jeter reached base without scoring a run. However, looking at his number in these games it would appear to be around 3-4 times. Looking at this statistically, that is about the success rate you would expect out of a .317 hitter. This leads me to believe that the big reason that Jeter is dubbed clutch in the playoffs is because he has been given more opportunities then most players and has a success rate similar to the rest of his career.

After taking everything into account, what Jeter has done in the postseason is really what one would expect out of a player of his caliber. It would be a stretch to say that Jeter has not been a contributing factor in four Yankee Championships. However, its also a stretch to give Jeter a nickname like “Mr. November”. His contributions have merely been along the lines of what we would expect out of Jeter. So as you sit back and enjoy the rest of the 2004 postseason, listening to idiots like Tim McCarver and Joe Morgan ramble on about Jeter being a “winner” ask yourself, “Who would you rather have at the plate with the game on the line, Derek Jeter or Kirk Gibson?”

Sunday, October 10, 2004

What happened to Allan Anderson?

The funny thing about researching baseball is how easily one can get sidetracked. Today as I was looking to conclude my study on Derek Jeter, I began to wonder what happened to Allan Anderson. For those of you who are not familiar with the Allan Anderson, he was a promising young left-handed pitcher for Minnesota Twins 16 years ago. However, if you blinked you would have missed his entire career.

Allan Anderson was a 2nd round pick for the Twins out of high school in Ohio. Anderson went 16-9 with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in 1988. This appeared to be the start of a brilliant career as he followed it up with another impressive season in ’89 going 17-10 with a 3.80 ERA. However, his next two seasons were another story as he combined for a 12-29 record with a 4.70 ERA. After six short seasons his career was over.

This led me to wonder what happened to Allan Anderson. I searched the web and tried using baseball library for an explanation. None was given. I know he kicked around a few other farm systems, but never reemerged in big leagues. How could a guy with so much promise have never been given another shot?

If anyone has any information on the whereabouts of Allan Anderson please contact me using my blog or via email at

We Got a First Timer Here...

For those of you who have come across my blog, I am a first time blogger. The main focus of my blogs will usually attain to sports theory. Some will focus on politics. Others may look at personal experience. If something is bothering me about society, it may sneak in as well. Basically, this is my blog and I will write about whatever the hell I feel like.

I would like to congratulate Ichiro on collecting 262 hits this season. It’s always good for baseball to see its old records fall, especially the ones that fall to non-steroid users. My apologies to Bonds. I would also like to congratulate Johan Santana on what could be the most dominating stretch of pitching in baseball history. The Astros made an unbelievable comeback down the stretch as the Cubbies choked away another season. Ninety-six years and counting. It was a great year in baseball and I can only hope that the playoffs finish with a bang. Go any team other than the Yankees.

Speaking of the Yankees, the first item that I will discuss in my blog is Derek Jeter's playoff career. Or more importantly, is Derek Jeter really clutch in the playoffs or does he simply perform well in the playoffs because he is a solid baseball player. My initial thought is that Jeter has simply been to the post season so many times and had so many opportunities that he is perceived to be more clutch then he actually is. Does Jeter succeed more in the playoffs then he does in the regular season? Does he have a higher batting average, more stolen bases, less errors, a higher on base percentage and slugging percentage in the playoffs then in the regular season? Does he really turn it up another level during the playoffs? Or could it be that Jeter is just a great ballplayer and that is what great ballplayers do?

I will attempt to have these questions answered in a few days. So if you care to take a look, stay tuned. Otherwise thanks for stopping.