10/31/2007

Quickly from the main website...

There was a new Rattler Alumni Report late last week.

The latest playoff memory was posted yesterday. There were plenty of rallies and at the end it was Taylor Time.

Aumont vs. Australia

You never know what is going to pop up in a google alert. Take the following story from The West Australian about a potential future Rattler in a matchup between Canada and Australia...

Heat need to keep out of arm’s way
The earthworms at Baseball Park in Thornlie are wearing hard hats today.

Team Canada’s $2 million man is getting ready to cut off Perth Heat batters at the ankles with his vicious, 150kmh sinking fastball in a four-game series, starting tonight.

Major League scouting reports note Phillippe Aumont, 18, is as raw as a rump steak still on the hoof. They also note he stands 200cm, with a right arm that generates lightning.

Put these attributes on the pitching mound and the result is a nasty, downward-angled thunderbolt with a natural dip towards the end, a bottom-of-the-strike-zone weapon that earned him a topshelf contract with the Seattle Mariners earlier this year.

I'm going to have to read Australian sports writers more often.

156 Days to Opening Day 2008

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 156 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is Dracula by Bram Stoker. Appropriate on October 31, eh?

The excerpt from page 156, which is itself an excerpt from the journal of Jonathon Harker.

26 September – I thought never to write in this diary again but the time has come. When I got home last night Mina had supper ready, and when we had supped she told me of Van Helsing’s visit, and of her having given him the two diaries copied out, and of how anxious she had been about me. She showed me the doctor’s letter that all I wrote down was true. It seems to have made a new man of me. It was the doubt as to the reality of the whole thing that knocked me over. I felt impotent, and in the dark, and distrustful. But, now that I know, I am not afraid, even of the Count. He has succeeded after all, then, in his design in getting to London, and it was he I saw. He has got younger, and how? Van Helsing is the man to unmask him and hunt him out, if he is anyhing like what Mia says. We sat late, and talked it all over. Mina is dressing and I shall call at the hotel in a few minutes and bring him over…

Put today’s entry into a baseball context.

10/30/2007

157 Days to Opening Day 2008

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 157 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is TR: The Last Romantic by H.W. Brands. This is a comprehensive biography of Theodore Roosevelt.

The excerpt from page 157 is about a trip out to the Badlands and tells a lot about how Teddy made decisions and put faith in other people. The ‘they’ in the excerpt are Sylvane Ferris and Bill Merrifield, prospective business partners of Teddy.

When they explained their situation, he offered to buy them out: contract, cattle, and kit. They said they’d have to go to Minnesota to talk to their employer, but they liked the idea.

They liked it even more when Roosevelt pulled out a checkbook and scribbled off a draft for fourteen thousand dollars. This was to cover their expenses, to buy a few hundred cattle beyond the 150 they were already managing, and generally to get the operation going. They were flabbergasted at Roosevelt’s dash and decisiveness – and at his trusting nature. When they asked if he wanted a receipt, he replied that if he didn’t trust them – whom he had known a total of several hours – he wouldn’t be going into business with them. Decades afterward, Merrifield still wondered at the event. “We were sitting on a log up at what we called Cannonball Creek. He handed us a check for fourteen thousand dollars, handed it right over to us on a verbal contract. He didn’t have a scratch of a pen for it.” To which Sylvane Ferris added, “All the security he had for his money was our honesty.”

Put the today's entry into a baseball context.

158 Days to Opening Day 2008

Okay, I messed up this one.

Tried to do this in advance and wound up with The Great Gatsby again. It was 158 days to Opening Day on October 29.

159 Days to Opening Day 2008


Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That was 159 days from October 28. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

The book from 10/28 was The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Roaring 20’s and all it entails.

The excerpt is from page 159, which happens to be the final page of the edition of the book that I have. Nick, the narrator, reflects on Gatsby in the final three paragraphs of the novel.

And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther….And one fine morning ------

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Put the October 28 entry into a baseball context.

160 Days to Opening Day 2008


Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That was 160 days from October 27. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

The book from October 27 was Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose. This is an account of the Lewis & Clark expedition. Ambrose uses the journals – spelling and all – of the party and many other historical documents to tell the story from start to finish.

The excerpt is from page 160 and recalls the death and memorial service of Sgt. Charles Floyd near modern day Sioux City, Iowa.

Sergeant Charles Floyd had been desperately ill the past few days. Lewis had diagnosed his disease as “Biliose Chorlick,” or bilious colic, and had nothing effective to treat it with – but, then, neither did Dr. Rush back in Philadelphia. On August 20, Floyd died, most likely from peritonitis resulting from an infected appendix that had perforated or ruptured.

Sergeant Floyd was the first U.S. soldier to die west of the Mississippi. The expedition carried his body to a high round hill overlooking an unnamed river. The captains had his body buried with all the honors of war and fixed a red-cedar post over the grave with his name and title and the date. Captain Lewis read the funeral service over him. Clark provided a fitting epitaph in his journal: “This Man at all times gave us proofs of his firmness and Deturmined to doe Service to his Countrey and honor to himself.”

Click on the link to go to the web site for the Sergeant Floyd Monument.

Put the October 27 entry into a baseball context.

Where I've been....

First there was here....



Next it was here....


Well, not at a Big Country concert, but in a big country.

Still there but soon moving on to here....



Will be catching up on the countdown next and the regular posts and some pictures will be some time on Saturday.

10/26/2007

Ex-Rattler action (10/25)

Photo Credit: Boston Globe/Bill Greene

World Series. Boston 2, Colorado 1. The Sox are up 2-0 in the series. David Ortiz ('96) went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Brian Fuentes ('97) retired Ortiz on a flyout and allowed just one hit over two scoreless innings. Day off today for the Series with Game Three set for Saturday night.

Arizona Fall League. Peoria Javelinas 8, Team USA 6. For the Javs: Yung Chi Chen ('05) was 1-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored; Matt Tuiasosopo ('05) was 0-for-3 with a walk; and Mumba Rivera ('05) allowed one run on one hit over two innings.

Hawaii Winter Baseball. Waikiki BeachBoys 5, Honolulu 3 (F/7). For the BeachBoys: Mike Wilson ('05) was 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored and Josh Womack ('04, '05) was 1-for-3.

Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional. Caribes at Lara was rained out.

Today's schedule:
Arizona Legue Rising Stars Game
Waikiki at West Oahu
Lara at Magallanes

A few quick pictures from the trip so far...

Not much that you haven't seen before on the first leg of the trip. Plus, a traffic backup that started less than 10 minutes into the trip put me about 2 hours behind schedule. But, I did want to share a few pictures of the key landmark from my alma mater. Oh, and look who is along for the ride...





Yep, that is the David Ortiz bobblehead from a few years ago. In that first picture, he thought that he could hit a ball from there to the "M". In that last picture, he thought he could hit a ball from the top of the "M" to Iowa. I did not disagree.

Get the Lowe Down

Mark Lowe ('05) is the subject of the following article from the Kitsap Sun.


Lowe Ready to Return to M's Bullpen

Mark Lowe was on his way to becoming the Seattle Mariners' feel-good story of 2007 when something ruined it.

Lowe's right arm was killing him.

About a year after major surgery to repair a cartilage defect in his throwing elbow, Lowe returned to the Mariners in late July bent on reclaiming his place in the bullpen as a much-needed 97-mph-throwing reliever.

Then the pain returned to Lowe's elbow.

"I couldn't even pick up a ball the next day," he said.

In the 10 weeks since he threw his last pitch for the Mariners, Lowe endured a period of compete rest, then rehab and a throwing program to rebuild strength in the elbow. Through most of that process, there was no guarantee he would avoid needing another surgery.

This week, however, Lowe appears to have cleared his hurdles.

He threw a simulated game on Monday at the Mariners' training complex in Peoria, Ariz., and was cleared Tuesday to take part in a normal offseason workout regimen.

Good news for Lowe, good news for the Mariners. Read the whole article to read a bit about Lowe's decision between cortisone and complete rest.

Another new team for Snelling

Former Timber Rattler Chris Snelling is now with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays...

The Rays claimed Australian outfielder Chris Snelling off waivers from the Oakland Athletics. To clear room on the roster, the club released right-handed pitcher Jay Witasick.

Snelling 25, batted a combined .246 with one home run and seven RBI in 30 games last season for the Washington
Nationals and Athletics before suffering a season-ending left knee injury on May 10 (underwent surgery on July 3).

He was the Nationals’ Opening Day leftfielder and hit .204 in 24 games before being traded to the A’s on May 2 for
outfielder Ryan Langerhans. He started each of his first six games with Oakland at the time of the injury.

Snelling was a Rattler in 2000. I hope he can get healthy and stay healthy in Tampa. The post notes that he has had a lot of success at Tropicana Field.

Injuries have limited him to 582 professional games over nine seasons, including 89 at the major league level, where he holds a career average of .240 with six home runs, 19 RBI and a .357 on-base percentage.

That includes a .375 career mark at Tropicana Field (6-for-16) with a home run.

The post does not note that he had his success against Devil Ray pitching....Kidding, kidding. Good luck, former broadcast partner.

161 Days to Opening Day 2008

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 161 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is Zodiac by Robert Graysmith. This is the book upon which the recent movie on the Zodiac killings in San Francisco was based.

The excerpt is from page 161. Graysmith recalls an anecdote and a bit of the background about San Francisco Chronicle crime reporter Paul Avery.

As a former war correspondent in Vietnam and a licensed private eye, Avery could handle himself pretty well. But Chief Nelder decided not to take any chances and issued him authority to carry a .38 caliber revolver, and let him work out on the police target range with the gun.

“Chron Newsman Paul Avery is living dangerously,” wrote Herb Caen, “His investigative reporting into the activities of the Zodiac killer have won him the accolade of a message from Zodiac, warning ‘You are doomed,’ as a result of which several Chron newsmen – including Avery – are wearing lapel buttons reading ‘I Am Not Paul Avery.’ Meanwhile, Avery has applied for personalized license plates reading ‘Zodiac.’ And that isn’t the smartest move I ever heard of…

Put today’s entry into a baseball context.

10/25/2007

Thursday Motivation (10/25)

I'd normally go with one of the new demotivators from despair.com, but I just don't feel like it today.

Instead, off to Successories.com:

Like a bridge, faith requires only that we trust in its ability to carry us where we are meant to be.

I'll be around.

The Week ahead

I'm heading out on vacation again in about an hour. I'll probably have some posts tomorrow, but there may not be any after that until Tuesday.

Just check back when you have a chance and I'll have a few more pictures and a report from the road.

One more post today and then it is off to...

A new visitor to Grand Chute

The Seattle Mariners have named their new minor league pitching coordinator. He'll probably be popping up around Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium a few times in 2008.

Wallace to work with M's prospects
One day after filling most of their Major League coaching vacancies, the Mariners on Tuesday named Dave Wallace as their Minor League pitching coordinator.

He replaces Pat Rice, who had held the position for the past eight seasons.

While his primary responsibility will be to oversee the pitchers and pitching coaches throughout the Minor League system, Wallace also will be available to assist general manager Bill Bavasi "as needed."

...

Wallace spent this past season as the Astros' pitching coach, a position he held with the Red Sox from midway through the 2003 season until the end of the '06 campaign. He also had stints as a pitching coach with the Mets in 2000 and the Dodgers from 1995-97.

Here is Wallace's page at The Baseball Cube.

Exhibition in Grand Rapids

The Two-Time Defending Champion Midwest League Champion West Michigan Whitecaps will open their season with Grand Valley State on April 2.

Before the West Michigan Whitecaps open the 2008 Midwest League season April 3 in South Bend, Ind., they will play an exhibition contest against Grand Valley State University on April 2 at Fifth Third Ballpark.

This is the second year the contest has been scheduled, but last season's game was snowed out.

"Instead of taking batting practice, we felt this game would spice up things a bit, and Grand Valley was a natural fit," said Jim Jarecki, vice president of Whitecaps. "Plus, the game will be good for our staff, creating game-like conditions and everyone will have an opportunity to get used to the cold."

The rest of the schedule for the Two-Time Defending Midwest League Champion West Michigan Whitecaps has also been released. Some of the new acts...

Some of the new entertainment Oropallo has uncovered includes chain saw juggler Mad Chad (Tuesday, August 12) and The Amazing Christopher (Monday, July 14) who uses his four life size puppets to recreate classic ’70s songs and dances, including the YMCA.

Well, the original Amazing Christopher will actually be there with the Rattlers July 23-25, a Wednesday through a Friday with a fireworks show...on a Wednesday.

Ex-Rattler action (10/24)

Reuters Photo

World Series Game 1: Boston 13, Colorado 1. David Ortiz ('96) was 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored for Boston. Brian Fuentes ('97) did not get into the game for the Rockies.

Arizona Fall League: Peoria Javelinas 9, Phoenix 5. Jeff Clement ('05) was 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored for the Javs. Yung Chi Chen ('05) drove in five runs with a 2-for-2 day with Peoria. Ricky Orta ('07) was the first reliever for the Javs and allowed one run on four hits with a pair of strikeouts over 1-2/3 innings for a no decision.

Hawaii Winter Baseball: Honolulu 8, Waikiki BeachBoys 3. Mike Wilson ('05) was 2-for-3 with a run scored as the only ex-Rattler who got in for the BeachBoys.

Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional: Lara at Zulia was postponed by rain.

Thursday's Schedule:
Colorado at Boston
Team USA at Peoria Javelinas
Honolulu at Waikiki
Caribes at Lara

162 Days to Opening Day 2008

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 162 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is Have a Nice Day by Mick Foley. This one of the funniest sports autobiographies out there.

The excerpt is from page 162. Mick has just done very well in a tryout match against the Steiner brothers and is offered a job by Ric Flair. WHOOOOOOOO!

Many of the guys who had never seen me wrestle were impressed with both my big elbow and my character, and they were patting me on the back and giving me encouragement. Arn Anderson, who on that very day was making his return to WCW after a year with the World Wrestling Federation, walked by with a strange look at this strange kid who had just dove seventeen feet onto a concrete floor. “Cactus Jack,” he began in his distinctive north Georgia drawl, ‘you just don’t have any sense.”

I thought about what he’s said and gave him an honest appraisal of the situation by replying, “No, but I don’t have any dollars either.”

“Point well taken,” replied Arn. Arn was the king of the putdown, and I quickly learned that it was a compliment and not an insult to be put down by Arn.

When the taping was over, I was approached by Sullivan and Flair. Sullivan was not shy about his high ambitions for me and Flair seemed impressed, if slightly stoic. “We’re going to put you on the road in about a month,” Flair informed me. “In the meantime, we’d like you to make out next TV tapings in the Carolinas. I’m not sure what you will be making, but it will probably be in the neighborhood of a grand a week. I can’t guarantee that, but I can guarantee that you’ll be making a comfortable living.” Comfortable…! At a grand a week, I would be rich.

Put today’s entry into a baseball context.

10/24/2007

Wednesday Movie Quote (10/24)

"The Babe": Remember kid, there's heroes and there's legends. Heroes get remembered but legends never die, follow your heart kid, and you'll never go wrong.

Rattler Playoff memories countdown

The countdown is at #4. This entry on the list looks back on Game Three of the 2005 Championship Series against South Bend.

A couple of hints. Robert Rohrbaugh pitched a gem and Chris Colton knocked in the only run of the game with a little patience.

New guys at the top

The Seattle Mariners named a bunch of new coaches yesterday.

McLaren picks a veteran staff
The Mariners officially unveiled four of their five new coaches Monday, and manager John McLaren expressed confidence that Larry Bowa will soon be added as third-base coach.

If and when that happens -- Bowa has a personal matter to resolve -- McLaren's first hand-picked staff will be long on experience.

It also will include coaches with whom McLaren has long personal associations, something lacking with the staff he inherited from Mike Hargrove.

Those new, non-Larry Bowa coaches are:

...Jim Riggleman, 54, the new bench coach, each have managed two different major-league teams.

New pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, 65, had a long and decorated tenure on Joe Torre's Yankees staff (1996-2005) and also served as pitching coach for the Mets and Astros.

Eddie Rodriguez, 48, the first-base coach, has had nine seasons on major-league staffs, including Toronto, Arizona and Washington. He managed the Mariners' Class AA West Tennessee team last year.

This will be the first major-league coaching job for bullpen coach Norm Charlton, 44, who became close with McLaren during three stints in the Mariners bullpen. Charlton spent the past four years as a special-assignment coach for Seattle, and had scouting duties.

The lone holdover from Hargrove's staff is hitting coach Jeff Pentland, another veteran.

Denver Baseball Champions

The World Series between the Red Sox and Rockies starts tonight. The most casual baseball fan knows that the last two baseball championships for the Red Sox were 2004 and 1918. But, what about Denver's last baseball championships?

Denver was home to minor league baseball for years. There were teams in the Western League, Pacific Coast League, and American Association. They were first known as the Bears and later as the Zephyrs. The final season of minor league baseball in Denver was 1992 and at the time, Denver was an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.

The 1991 Zephyrs team won the American Association championship with Tony Muser as the manager. They had players like Pat Listach, Dave Nilson, Cal Eldred, and Doug Henry. John Cangelosi, a recent inductee into the Appleton Baseball Hall of Fame, also played for that Zephyrs team.

The 1983 Denver Bears were a White Sox affiliate and won the American Association with Jim Mahoney as the skipper. Daryl Boston, Chris Nyman, Tim Hulett, Chuck Johnson, and Juan Agosto were just some of the ex-Rattlers on that team.

The 1980 Denver Bears went 92-70 and was rated as one of the Top 100 teams in Minor League Baseball History, but lost in the finals. Follow that second link for a lot of history of baseball in Denver and more about the team. For example:

The city of Denver, Colorado, located a mile above sea level in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, joined the minor league structure in 1886 when a team called the Mountain Lions joined the Western League. In its first foray into Organized Ball, the team won the pennant with a 54-26 record. In its remaining five years in the league, the team won one more flag in an abbreviated 1888 campaign. The city closed out its 19th century baseball involvement in 1895, when it fielded a replacement team for Omaha in the Western Association, which was in turn replaced by Dubuque.

In 1900, Denver rejoined the Western League, this time for an 18-year stay. The high point of this run was a three-in-a-row championship cluster from 1911-13, including a Top 100 team in 1911. Following a four-year absence from 1918-22, Denver returned to the Western League in 1923. As the only Colorado entry, they had to give visiting teams an additional share of the gate receipts to make up for the extra travel costs. This time the Bears stayed until 1932. In 1933, the low point of the Great Depression, Denver and Pueblo, which had returned to the Western League in 1928, were dropped to cut travel expenses. Denver owner Milt Anfenger sued the league for $150,000 for the loss of his franchise, but he lost the suit.

In the 1930s, the Denver Post sponsored a semi-pro tournament that attracted the strongest teams in the country and drew good crowds. In 1941, Denver was a member of a Class D organization, also called the Western League, which had changed its name from the Nebraska State League two years earlier. That circuit disbanded after the 1941 season.

In 1947, the Class A Western League was revived with U. S. Senator Edwin C. Johnson (D-CO) as president. With one exception, Lincoln replacing St. Joseph, it was the same six cities that comprised the league in 1900. Denver played in old Merchants Park until August 14, 1948, when new 16,000-seat Bears Stadium opened. It was enlarged to 25,000 in 1963 and expanded through the years until it reached a capacity of 76,000 in 1977. The facility, which had also become the home of the NFL Denver Broncos, was renamed Mile High Stadium in 1969. It remained the home of Denver baseball, minor and major league, until the opening of Coors Field in 1995. On July 4, 1982, the Bears drew 65,666 for the annual Fireworks Game, a minor league record for a single game.


A couple of notable players on that 1980 team:
The American Association batting title was won by 20-year-old second baseman Tim Raines, who beat out Oklahoma City’s Orlando Gonzalez by .0002, .3543 to .3541. In addition, Raines set a league record by stealing 77 bases and tied for the league lead in triples (11). His stolen base total would have been higher had he not spent 18 days with Montreal in July-August. He was named to the American Association and National Association Class AAA All-Star teams, was voted the league’s Rookie of the Year and was chosen The Sporting News’ Minor League Player of the Year. In 1981 he moved up to the majors where he stayed for 19 years, the first ten with Montreal.
...
Designated Hitter Randy Bass (.333) completed the Triple Crown for the Bears, leading the league in home runs (37) and RBI (143), as well as in runs scored (106) and slugging percentage (.644). His home run total topped the minors. Bass was named to the league and National Association Class AAA All-Star teams, was voted the American Association’s Most Valuable Player, a rare distinction for a DH, and was the National Association’s Minor League player of the Year.
Bass would be better know for his time career in Japan. Jerry Manuel and Tim Wallach were also on this Bears team.

What about the pitching?

Denver’s leading pitcher was 26-year-old right-hander Steve Ratzer (15-4, 3.59) who led the league in wins and percentage (.789). Ratzer started the season in the bullpen and was a perfect 6-0 with two saves before moving into the starting rotation where he went 9-4. He was named to the league All-Star team and was chosen the American Association Pitcher of the Year, giving Denver a sweep of the circuit’s end-of-the-season individual honors. He made only a brief appearance in the majors, going 1-1, 7.17 in 13 games for Montreal in 1980-81.

The Denver pitcher who went on to the most successful major league career was 21-year-old, 6’3”, 225-pound right-hander Bill Gullickson. When reporting to spring training in 1980, Gullickson was 20 pounds underweight and complained of being tired. Tests revealed he had diabetes. After undergoing treatment in the hospital for a week he rejoined the club and soon regained the lost weight and his strength. He started the season going 6-2, 1.91 with five complete games and two shutouts in nine starts, striking out 64 and walking 29 in 66 innings. On May 30 he was promoted to Montreal and finished the season with a 10-5, 3.00 record, winning nine of his last eleven starts. On September 10, at Montreal, he struck out 18 Chicago Cubs batters, a major league record for a rookie. He was named The Sporting News’ National League Rookie Pitcher of the Year and was runner-up in the Baseball Writers Association Rookie of the Year voting.

...

The Bears’ top reliever was 27-year-old, 5’8 ½ “ left-hander Jamie Easterly who had a 9-8, 3.63 record with 15 saves. Easterly pitched 13 years in the majors with a 23-33, 4.62 record and 14 saves. On July 14, 1979, he pitched only the third perfect game in American Association history, for Denver against Iowa at Des Moines, a seven-inning game in which he struck out four batters.

Ex-Rattler action (10/22)

Arizona Fall League: Scottsdale 7, Peoria Javelinas 6 (F/10). Yung Chi Chen ('05) was 1-for-5 and Matt Tuiasosopo (WI '05) went 0-for-3 with two RBI for the Javs.

Hawaii Winter Baseball: Waikiki 6, Honolulu 5. Mike Wilson ('05) was 1-for-3 with a pair of runs scored, Josh Womack ('04, '05) was 0-for-4 for Waikiki, and Harold Williams ('06, '07) pitched a scoreless inning with two walks and a strikeout.

Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional: Lara 11, Zulia 3. Wladimir Balentien ('04) was 0-for-4 for Lara. Ivan Blanco ('05) pitched three scoreless innings, allowed two hits, and got a save.

Today's Schedule:
Colorado at Boston
Phoenix at Peoria Javelinas
Honolulu at Waikiki
Lara at Zulia

163 Days to Opening Day 2008

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 163 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. I can honestly say that I have read the book and not seen the miniseries.

The excerpt is from page 163, the beginning of a chapter. Jake has just let down Gus and Call again and he is just entering the Dry Bean Saloon.

The minute Jake stepped in the door of the Dry Bean Lorena saw that he was in a sulk. He went right over to the bar and got a bottle and two glasses. She was sitting at a table, piddling with a deck of cards. It was early in the evening and no one was around except Lippy and Xavier, which was a little surprising. Usually three or four of the Hat Creek cowboys would be there by that time.

Lorena watched Jake closely for a few minutes to see if she was the cause of his sulk. After all, she had sold Gus the poke that very afternoon – it was not impossible that Jake had found out, some way. She was not one who expected to get away with much in life. If you did a thing hoping a certain person wouldn’t find out, that person always did. When Gus tricked her and she gave him the poke, she was confident the matter would get back to Jake eventually. Lippy was only human, and things that happened to her got told and repeated. She didn’t exactly want Jake to know, but she wasn’t afraid of him, either. He might hit her, or he might shoot Gus: she found she couldn’t easily predict him, which was one reason she didn’t care if he found out. After that, she would know him a lot better, whatever he did.

But when he sat down at the table and set a glass in front of her she soon realized that it was not her who had put the tight look on his face. She saw nothing unfriendly in his eyes. She took a sip or two of whiskey, and about that time Lippy came over and sat down at the table with them as if he’d been invited.

“Well, you’ve come in by yourself, I see,” Lippy said, pushing his dirty bowler back off his wrinkled forehead.

“I did, and by God I intend to be by myself,” Jake said irritably. He got up and without another word took his bottle and glass and headed for the stairs.

Put today’s entry into a baseball context.

10/23/2007

Clement, Woerman on Rising Stars Roster

The Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game is Friday. Jeff Clement ('05) and Joe Woerman ('06) will be appearing for the West Division.

The roster is HERE as a PDF.

The announcement is at Rising Stars gather in Surprise
The second annual Rising Stars Showcase will take place at Surprise Stadium on Friday, Oct. 26 at 7:05 p.m. MST. If the Arizona Fall League has the top talent the Minor Leagues has to offer, then the Rising Stars Showcase is simply the best of the best. The 50 players representing the East and West divisions are all considered to have very bright big-league futures ahead of them.
I originally had this as an All-Star Game. My bad.
This is not, as some might think, a league All-Star Game. Strong performances in the AFL are a nice bonus, but not a requirement for being invited to play in this game. Rather, these are rosters filled with players believed to have the most upside potential and are thus "on the rise."
Not an All-Star Game. Got it.

Lance Painter, Colorado Rockie

The Denver Post is getting ready for the World Series by checking in on Rockie Alumni. Today they catch up with Lance Painter. But, not to talk about his starting for the Rockies in a 1995 playoff game against the Braves. More about his pinch hitting appearance one game earlier.

Time doesn't dim 1995 cameo at plate.

Lance Painter probably is as happy as anyone else about the rise of the Rockies and their sensational rush over the past month to the World Series.

For 12 years, Painter had carried the burden of being one of only a few notable memories of a Rockies player in the postseason. Painter was a left-handed pitcher on the 1995 Rockies team that reached the playoffs as a wild- card team, gaining the postseason on the last day of the regular season with a 10-9 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

But Painter didn't gain notoriety as a pitcher. His short claim to fame came as a hitter - a pinch hitter, no less - against the Atlanta Braves and closer Mark Wohlers, the premier fireballer of the day with 25 saves in the regular season. It was the first game of the best-of-five series, and the Braves were leading 5-4.

"I was in the clubhouse charting pitches because I was starting the next game," Painter said. "I saw where Wohlers hit 102 on the speed gun on one of his pitches. I got a call from (Rockies hitting coach) Art Howe telling me to get my uniform on and get up to the dugout. I thought I was going to pitch the 10th inning."

But when Painter reached the dugout, Howe told him to grab a bat.

The circumstances were hectic. The Rockies had the bases loaded, but manager Don Baylor had gone all out to win the game and had used up his bench. Painter was considered a good hitting pitcher and became the last resort. Hard-hitting third baseman Vinny Castilla was supposed to hit in that spot, but he had been removed earlier for a pinch runner.

"I struck out on three straight fastballs," Painter said. "I had no chance. On the last pitch, I saw the ball leave Wohlers' hand, but by the time I swung, Javy Lopez (Atlanta's catcher) was standing up and saying, 'We won."'


'We won.'? That's what Javy Lopez said? Really, Lance?

Would you consider a good hitting pitcher someone who went 1-for-9 during that 1995 season or 10-for-65 (.154) in his career?

Ex-Rattler action (10/22)

Arizona Fall League: Surprise 2, Peoria Javelinas 0. Joe Woerman started for Peoria and pitched three scoreless, hitless innings. Mumba Rivera ('05) worked two scoreless, hitless innings for the Javs. Jeff Clement ('05) and Matt Tuiasosopo ('05) both went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

Hawaii Winter Baseball: Waikiki was off on Monday.

Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional: Lara was off on Monday

Today's schedule:
Peoria Javelinas at Scottsdale
Honolulu at Waikiki
Lara at Zulia

164 Days to Opening Day 2008

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 164 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is Morning Drive by R. Brian Berkey. Never heard of it? Rick was the first radio broadcaster for the West Michigan Whitecaps. He wrote this mystery novel and had it published through onefinebook.com, a currently inactive website. Rick writes about what he knows: Radio and Grand Rapids, Michigan

The excerpt from page 164 and it is just after the early morning murder of one of the suspects in another murder. The Macintosh in the passage below is the security guard in the building in which the second murder takes place. Macintosh is a security guard with a gun – an unloaded gun.

Clinging to the stairway wall like a spider, Macintosh carefully slipped down the steps toward the ground floor, pausing and listening for sounds every two or three steps. When he reached the windowless ground level exit door, he looked across the carpeted entrance and through the solid glass double doors leading to the first-floor hallway. Seeing the doors undamaged and presumably still locked, he felt a sense of relief realizing that whoever fired the shots was almost certainly still outside. His reprieve was momentary as he suddenly considered for the first time the basement level of the building directly below him, where a stairway lead to some equipment and utility rooms. If the gunman had entered the building after firing, he could be just two flights and less than 25 feet from him now. The same drive which sent him down the stairs in the first place kept him from racing back up, although part of his conscience screamed for him to do just that. After catching his breath and feeling his heart pounding through his powder blue company shirt, he leaned against the wall out of sight from the basement level and tried a curious approach to the dilemma.

“The police are on their way!” he screamed. “Throw down your gun!” Or I just might throw mine at you.

Put today’s entry into a baseball context.

Changing the order...

Nothing huge. Just moving the Countdown to Opening Day 2008 post to the first post of the day...Well, it'll be second today, but it'll lead off tomorrow and for the rest of the off season.

10/22/2007

165 Days to Opening Day 2008

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 165 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper, a book that makes a terrific movie.

The excerpt from page 165 describes the scenery as Natty Bumpo leads his small band of survivors away from the capture of Ft. William Henry.

A frightful change had also occurred in the season. The sun had hid its warmth behind an impenetrable mass of vapour, and hundreds of human forms, which had blackened beneath the fierce heats of August were stiffening in their deformity before the blasts of a premature November. The curling and spotless mists, which had been sailing above the hills towards the north, were now returning in an interminable dusky sheet that was urged along by the fury of a tempest. The crowded mirror of the Horican was gone, and in its place the green and angry waters lashed the shores as if indignantly casting back its impurities to the polluted strand. Still the clear fountain retained a portion of its charmed influence, but it reflected only the sombre gloom that fell from the impending heavens. That humid and congenial atmosphere which commonly adorned the view, veiling its harshness and softening its asperities, had disappeared, and the northern air poured across the waste of water so harsh and unmingled that nothing was left to be conjectured by the eye or fashioned by the fancy.

Put today’s entry into a baseball context.

A Review of The Final Season

No, not mine. That would have involved leaving the house this weekend.

The Final Season is the baseball movie based on the story of a high school baseball team in Iowa. QCTimes.com has the following review.

Iowa-made 'Final Season' goes down swinging

It never hits a home run. But “Final Season,” an adequate movie about an above-average baseball team, isn’t a loser, either.

It’s too bad the script isn’t stronger because the true story of the Norway Tigers is a good one. The show is set in Norway, Iowa, near Cedar Rapids, which had a population of about 600 in the 1990s.

The town lives and breathes high school baseball, and everyone loves the tough, winning coach, Jim Van Scoyoc (Powers Boothe), who spouts sports movie clich├ęs at, well, the drop of a hat: “Baseball’s the only game on earth where the object is to get home,” he says. And “We grow baseball players like corn.”

Where does it rate?

Last night's game between the Red Sox and Indians was the thirteenth Game 7 in the LCS history.

In this post, I rated the previous twelve.

I would put the 11-2 Red Sox win of 2007, between the Red Sox-Angels game in '86 and the Braves-Cardinals game in '96.

Nothing scientific to the rating. Just a general gut feeling.

There is no off-season

The Tacoma News Tribune has this story on the non-stop baseball season for prospects...

Offseason? Not for hopeful prospects
When the season ends for 22 of the 30 major league teams, baseball doesn’t.

Eight teams move on to the postseason – and virtually every team uses the down time to take longer looks at special prospects and turn fall and winter baseball into hard-core training.

The Seattle Mariners, for instance, have more than 60 of their prized players spread across leagues in Arizona, Venezuela and Hawaii. And they’re not playing just to pick up a little extra cash.

Some, such as catcher Jeff Clement, need extra at-bats. Some, such as left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith, are beginning the transition from reliever to starting pitcher.

Others have more detailed goals.

Greg Hunter, the Mariners’ director of minor league operations, has about 45 of his young players on fields in one place or another. It began in late September with what used to be called instructional league.

Last season, for instance, left-handed pitcher Edward Paredes, 20, went 7-6 with a 3.99 ERA at Single-A Everett. The Mariners believe if he learns to command his fastball, he could jump Double-A by midseason.

So Paredes started a game in Arizona on Thursday and threw 65 pitches – 61 of them fastballs, three curves and one change-up.

...


Seattle had an 18-year-old shortstop at Single-A Wisconsin last season, Juan Diaz. Wonderful hands, aggressive hitter – perhaps too aggressive. His mission in instructional league?


“Playing in Wisconsin can be a a difficult cultural transition for a young Latin player,” Hunter said. “Diaz is from the Dominican Republic. This fall we have him in English classes two, three times a week. And to help him learn the strike zone and worry less about hitting with two strikes, we have a plan ...”

At least once each game, in an at-bat of their choosing, Mariners coaches send Diaz to the plate with orders to “take” all pitches until he gets to two strikes. In theory, taking the pitches he might normally swing at helps him learn whether they’re balls or strikes.

Ex-Rattler action (10/21)

Getty Images Photo/Al Bello

ALCS: Boston 11, Cleveland 2. David Ortiz ('96) was 0-for-5 for the Red Sox. Asdrubal Cabrera ('05) went 1-for-4 for the Indians. Ortiz and the Sox will take on Brian Fuentes ('97) and the Colorado Rockies in the World Series.

Arizona Fall League: The Peoria Javelinas were off on Sunday.

Hawaii Winter Baseball: North Shore 9, Waikiki BeachBoys 4. Josh Womack went 0-for-2 with a pair of walks for the BeachBoys. Aaron Jensen ('05) pitched 1-2/3 innings without allowing a run and giving up one hit with two strikeouts for Waikiki.

Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional: Zulia 4, Lara 1. Wladimir Balentien ('04) was 0-for-3 and Oswaldo Navarro ('04, '05) was 0-for-2 for Lara.

Liga de Beisbol Dominicano: The Sunday scoreboard is HERE.

Today's Schedule:
Surprise at Peoria Javelinas

10/21/2007

165 Days to Opening Day 2008

Just a note. Today's book for the excerpt was chosen before the news broke about Max McGee.

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 166 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is Instant Replay by Jerry Kramer (with Dick Schaap). Kramer, a guard for the Green Bay Packers in the Lombardi Era, kept a tape recorded diary during the 1967 season. This was the year that ended with The Ice Bowl, a victory in Super Bowl II, and the end of Lombardi’s days as the coach of the Packers.

The excerpt from page 166 is as the Packers are getting ready to play the New York Giants at Yankee Stadium on October 22, 1967.

As soon as we settled into the locker room, Coach Lombardi came over to me and nudged me and said, “Why don’t you take some of the younger boys out and show them around Yankee Stadium?” We hadn’t played in New York in five years, so I walked around with Anderson and Grabo and Crutcher and a few of the rookies, showing them The House that Ruth Built, the plaques of Ruth and Gehrig and DiMaggio. I’m not much of a baseball fan myself, but the first time I came into Yankee Stadium, in 1959, I was really impressed. The place had so much history; so many great athletes had played in it. Andy and Grabo have been exposed to the big city, so they didn’t seem too impressed, but Tommy Joe kept gaping at everything. “Boy,” he said, “this here place would sure hold a lot of hay.

No need to put today’s entry into a baseball context.

Over at the main website....

Last week, the Rattler website unveiled #6 and #5 on my list of favorite Timber Rattler playoff games.

Number 6 was the complete game shutout at Beloit by Cha Seung Baek in 2000.

Number 5 was a win over Quad City in 2001 that featured a flurry of Clint Nageotte strikeouts.

While I'm on the topic

Since tonight is Game Seven of the ALCS, here is a look at all of Game 7s in the Championship Series since 1985. Again in Chronological order

1985 ALCS: Kansas City 6 @ Toronto 2. The Royals had been down 3-1 in the series. They had a 2-0 lead on early offense from Jim Sundberg. The KC catcher had an RBI single in the second and a solo homer in the fourth off Dave Steib. Brett Saberhagen got the start for the Royals and went three scoreless innings . Then, Charlie Leibrandt entered the game. Willie Upshaw doubled in a run in the fifth. The Royals loaded the bases in the sixth inning and Sundberg tripled for a 5-1 lead. An RBI single by Frank White put this game away for the Royals.

'86 ALCS: California 1 @ Boston 8. All Red Sox in this one as they also erased a 3-1 series deficit. John Candelaria was let down by his defense and the seven runs scored off him in the first 3-2/3 innings were all unearned. Roger Clemens allowed one run in seven innings to get Boston into the series for the first time since 1975.

'87 NLCS: San Francisco 0 @ St. Louis 6. The Giants failed to score for the second game in a row and the Cards won the series. Jose Oquendo hit a three run homer off Atlee Hammaker in the bottom of the second inning for a 4-0 lead. Danny Cox pitched a complete game 8-hit shutout with no walks and five strikeouts.

'88 NLCS: New York 0 @ Los Angeles 6. Orel Hershiser laughed at mere mortals in 1988. A complete game 5-hit shutout to get the Dodgers into the Series. A run in the first and five in the second were more than enough off Ron Darling for LA and Hershiser.

'91 NLCS: Atlanta 4 @ Pittsburgh 0. Another Game Seven shutout. John Smoltz tossed a complete game 6-hitter with a walk and eight strikeouts. Brian Hunter's two-run homer off John Smiley capped a three-run first for the Braves. Hunter would knock in one more run later in the game and the Braves were in their first World Series since 1958.

'92 NLCS: Pittsburgh 2 @ Atlanta 3. This was setting up to be another Game 7 shutout and a Pirate win to get into the Series for the first time since 1979. Pittsburgh led 2-0 with a pair of runs (1st inning and 6th inning) off Smoltz. Doug Drabek was working on a 5-hit shutout through eight innings. Terry Pendelton doubled, David Justice reached on an error, and Sid Bream walked. (You all know where this is going, right?). Stan Belinda came into the game. Ron Gant's sac fly to left got the run home. Then, Damon Berryhill walked to reload the bases. Hunter, a hero of he '91 Game Seven, came in as a pinch hitter. But, he popped out. Jeff Reardon was due up next, but this Cabrera guy...um Rafael Cabrera stepped in as a pinch hitter. Single to left. Justice scores. Bream just beat the throw from Barry Bonds and the Braves win! Braves win!

'96 NLCS: St. Louis 0 @ Atlanta 15. Back to the shutouts. Braves scored six in the bottom of the first off Donovan Osborne. Tom Glavine gave up three hits in seven innings and drove in three runs in four at bats. Fred McGriff, Andrew Jones, and Javy Lopez all homered as the Braves erased a 3-1 series deficit.

2003 NLCS: Florida 9 @ Chicago 6. Do you remember that the Cubs had a lead in this game? Florida scored three in the first against Kerry Wood on a Miguel Cabrera homer. The Cubs scored a run in the second and tied the game on a two-run homer by Wood later in the inning. A two-run homer by Moises Alou in the third inning made it 5-3. The score stayed that way until the fifth. A double by Ivan Rodriguez tied the game, and RBI grounder by Cabrera, and an RBI single by Derek Lee made it 6-5. Florida tacked on a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh to deny the Cubs.

'03 ALCS: Boston 5 @ New York 6 (F/11). Aaron Boone never has to buy a drink in New York again. Boston was up 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth. A David Ortiz homer in the top of the eighth gave the Red Sox that three run lead. New York got something brewing in the bottom of the inning. Should Grady Little pull Pedro Martinez or keep him in the game. Pedro stayed and the Yankees rallied for three to tie the game. Bernie Williams singled in the first run. Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada followed with back-to-back RBI doubles to tie the game 5-5. The game stayed that way until the first pitch of Yankee half of the eleventh. Boone hit a Tim Wakefield pitch out to left and New York went back to the Series.

'04 NLCS: Houston 2 @ St. Louis 5. Houston had a 2-1 lead...until the bottom of the sixth. Clemens got the start for the Astros and he was facing the following situation: Tying run at third, two outs, Albert Pujols at the plate. Pujols doubled in the tying run and Scott Rolen homered for a 4-2 Cardinal lead. Game over pretty much at that point as Houston only got one base runner over the final three innings.

'04 ALCS: Boston 10 @ New York 3. Boston came all the way back. Down 3-0 in the series, they come back to win the pennant for the first time since 1986. This one was over early as they had a 6-0 lead after two innings: Ortiz with a two-run homer in the first and Johnny Damon with a grand slam in the second. Kevin Brown lasted just 1-1/3 innings in the loss and Derek Lowe allowed one run on one hit in six innings for the win.

'06 NLCS: St. Louis 3 @ New York 1. Tied 1-1 in the top of the ninth inning at Shea Stadium. Scott Rolen singles with one out. Yadier Molina homers. Cardinals lead 3-1. Bottom ninth. Adam Wainwright comes into close out the game, but the first two Mets reach base on singles. Wainwright gets the next two, but walks Paul LoDuca to load the bases. Carlos Beltran at the plate. Wainwright strikes Beltran out looking. Cardinals are in the World Series.

'07 ALCS: Cleveland @ Boston???

Of the dozen Game Sevens in LCS history that have been completed, I'll rate them like this:

12. Braves-Cardinals '96
11. Red Sox-Angels '86
10. Cardinals-Giants '87
9. Dodgers-Mets '88
8. Red Sox-Yankees '04
7. Braves-Pirates '91
6. Royals-Blue Jays '85
5. Marlins-Cubs '03
4. Cardinals-Astros '04
3. Cardinals-Mets '06
2. Red Sox-Yankees '03
1. Braves-Pirates '92

How would you rate them? Where will tonight's game rank?

Where would it rate?

One of the benefits of not having a life is that any random thought that pops along my train of thought has the possibility of becoming a blog post.

Remember yesterday's post that just listed classic Game Sixes that had nothing to do with teams from New York or Boston?

After posting it, I thought it needed a little more detail. Then, after watching Boston's 12-2 schellacking (schelaquing? shu-lack-ing?) of Cleveland, I though about rating all of the Game Sixes in League Championship history since it was expanded to a best-of-seven format in 1985.

Here are all of the Game Sixes played in the ALCS and the NLCS in chronological order:

NLCS '85: St. Louis 7 @ Los Angeles 5. The Dodgers pitched to Jack Clark with first base open in the top of the ninth leading 5-4. Clark crushed a three-run homer and the Cardinals clinched the series.

ALCS '85: Kansas City 5 @ Toronto 3. Hal McRae knocks in two. George Brett homered and Dan Quisenberry nailed down the win to send the series to game seven.

NLCS '86: New York 7 @ Houston 6 (F/16). Astros had a 3-0 lead. Mets tied the game with three in the ninth; and took a 4-3 lead in the top of the 14th. Billy Hatcher tied the game with a homer in the bottom of the inning. Mets scored three in the 16th. Astros scored twice in the bottom of the inning, but the Mets held on to end the series.

ALCS '86: California 4 @ Boston 10. Oil Can Boyd got a five runs in the bottom of the third for a 7-2 lead and the Sox cruised to get the series to a seventh game.

NLCS '86: San Francisco 0 @ St. Louis 1. John Tudor and two other Cardinal pitchers cobine on a 6-hit shutout. The only run scored in the game was in the second. Tony Pena tripled and Jose Oquendo knocked him in with a sacrifice fly off Dave Dravecky. The win sent the series to game seven.

NLCS 1988: New York 5 @ Los Angeles 1. David Cone keeps the Mets alive with a complete game win. Kevin McReynolds helped out with a 4-for-4 day that included a homer and three RBI.

NLCS '90: Pittsburgh 1 @ Cincinnati 2. The Reds get a seventh inning, pinch-hit RBI single from Luis Quinones to snap a 1-1 tie. Norm Charlton the win, Randy Meyers the save, and the Reds were in the World Series.

NLCS '91: Atlanta 1 @ Pittsburgh 0. Steve Avery vs. Doug Drabek. Scoreless game until the top of the ninth. Greg Olson's two-out double scored Ron Gant. Alejandro Pena struck out Andy Van Slyke with the tying run at third to end the game and force game seven.

NLCS '92: Pittsburgh 13 @ Atlanta 4. The Pirates kept their season going by pasting the Braves. Barry Bonds, Jay Bell, and Lloyd McClendon all homered for Pittsburgh. Tim Wakefield won his second game of the series with a complete game.

ALCS '92: Toronto 9 @ Oakland 2. The Blue Jays finally got into the World Series. Toronto battered Mike Moore in the first three innings for an early 6-0 lead. Joe Carter and Candy Maldonado both homered for the Jays.

NLCS '93: Atlanta 3 @ Philadelphia 6. The Phillies get in by building a 6-1 lead and holding off the Braves. All six runs were off Greg Maddux.

ALCS '93: Toronto 6 @ Chicago 3. Toronto makes it back-to-back pennants. This was a 3-2 game in favor of the Blue Jays until the top of the ninth. Devon White homered with one out. After the second out was recorded, there was a single, an error, and a two-run triple by Paul Molitor. That White Sox run in the bottom of the ninth off Duane Ward wasn't enough.

ALCS '95: Cleveland 4 @ Seattle 0. The Indians ended the run of the Mariners and got into the World Series for the first time since 1954. Cleveland led 1-0 until they scored three in the top of the eighth inning off Randy Johnson. Two of those runs came in on one passed ball. Dennis Martinez worked seven scoreless for the win.

NLCS '96: St. Louis 1 @ Atlanta 3. Atlanta stays alive behind 7-2/3 strong innings from Maddux. The Cards pulled to within 2-1 with a run in the top of the eighth. But, Rafael Belliard gave a bit of a cushion with an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth. Mark Wohlers got the save.

NLCS '97: Florida 7 @ Atlanta 4. Marlins make their first Fall Classic. They score four in the first off Tom Glavine. But, the Braves get one in the first and two in the second off Kevin Brown. A three-run sixth put the game solidly in Florida's column.

ALCS '97: Cleveland 1 @ Baltimore 0 (F/11). The Orioles had ten hits. The Indians had three. The one hit that counted was a two-out homer by Tony Fernandez in the top of the eleventh. Charles Nagy gave up nine hits in 7-1/3 innings, but did not give up a run. Mike Mussina allowed one hit and struck out ten in eight innings, but it wasn't enough. Indians go back to the Series.

NLCS '98: San Diego 5 @ Atlanta 0. Sterling Hitchcock and four relievers shutdown the Braves on two hits to clinch the pennant. Only two of the runs scored off Glavine were earned.

ALCS '98: Cleveland 5 @ New York 9. Yankees get a 6-0 lead in the first three innings. Cone was cruising, but the Indians score five in the fifth. Derek Jeter triples in two runs and scores himself in the bottom of the sixth. Ramiro Mendoza and Mariano Rivera gave up one hit over the final four innings for a Yankees series win.

NLCS '99: New York 9 @ Atlanta 10 (F/11). The Mets got to play game six by beating the Braves 4-3 in 15 innings in game five. Atlanta scored five runs in the bottom of the first and knocked Al Leiter out of the game. It was a 7-3 game in the seventh and the Mets scored four times off John Smoltz (on in relief) to tie the game. Mike Piazza's two-run homer tied the game. New York took a lead in the eighth, but the Braves tied it again in the bottom of the eighth. Todd Pratt's sac fly in the tenth gave the Mets another lead, but Ozzie Guillen -- yes, that Ozzie Guillen -- tied the game with an RBI single. The Braves won the pennant as Andrew Jones drew a bases loaded walk, the third straight free pass issued by Kenny Rogers.

ALCS 2000: Seattle 7 @ New York 9. The M's led 4-3. But, the Yankees scored six in the bottom of the seventh. David Justice's three-run homer was the big blow. Alex Rodriguez homered in the eighth and the M's got two more runs, but Rivera shut it down the rest of the way to end Seattle's season.

NLCS '03: Florida 8 @ Chicago 3. The Cubs were five outs from the World Series...

ALCS '03: Boston 9 @ New York 6. Sox stay alive with a comeback win. Three in the seventh put them up 7-6 and two in the ninth accounted for the final score.

NLCS '04: Houston 4 @ St. Louis 6 (F/12). Houston sent the game to extra innings with a run in the top of the ninth. Jim Edmonds ended the game --but not the series -- with a two-run homer in the twelfth.

ALCS '04: Boston 4 @ New York 2. Schilling's bloody sock.

NLCS '05: Houston 5 @ St. Louis 1. Astro's first pennant behind a Roy Oswalt gem.

NLCS '06: St. Louis 2 @ New York 4. John Maine and Paul LoDuca keep the Mets alive.

ALCS '07: Cleveland 2 @ Boston 12. JD Drew slams the Indians.

What criteria should be used to rate these Game 6s? Walk-offs, pennant clinchers, pitching performances, forcing game seven, close games?

Of the 27 games above, last night's game six wouldn't rate in the top 20.

Just eyeballing these for a hackneyed Top 10, I would go with this:

10. Yankees-Seattle 2000
9. Cardinals-Giants 1987
8. Braves-Pirates 1991
7. Cardinals-Astros 2004
6. Red Sox-Yankees 2004
5. Reds-Pirates 1990
4. Indians-Orioles 1997
3. Marlins-Cubs 2003
2. Mets-Astros 1986
1. Cardinals-Dodgers 1985

How would you rate them?

Midwest League Hurdle

Clint Hurdle did not spring fully formed into the manager of the Colorado Rockies. Jim Sullivan of the Waterloo Courier remembers Hurdle's time in the MWL.

Long before Big Dance, Hurdle was worth watching
Even before he reached the Big Dance, Hurdle's footwork was fascinating and painful to watch. Once considered a can't-miss prospect as an outfielder for the Kansas City Royals, Hurdle never quite lived up to the reputation that landed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Injuries played a role in shortening his playing career. He dealt with personal demons ranging from divorce to alcohol abuse. Later in life, one of Hurdle's daughters dealt with Prader-Willi Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes seizures, among other things.

So it's easy to say that no one saw Hurdle's early rise, hard fall and middle-aged ascension to World Series manager coming. Maybe. But a man who watched Hurdle as a 19-year-old kid play ball for the 1976 Waterloo Royals saw things a little differently. Hurdle took baseball seriously, and he proved he could regroup in trying times.

"I think he studied the game a lot," said Don Kruse, the former Courier sports writer who often covered Midwest League baseball in Waterloo. "He wanted to learn."

Kruse added, "He was really a nice kid here. I had a lot of respect for him. He signed for a good bonus. Everybody knew about him. Yet, when he was here, he didn't seem like a cocky kid at 19. Of course, when you're not hitting, you can't boast very much."

Hurdle indeed struggled early in his season with the Waterloo Royals. A first-round draft pick by Kansas City, Hurdle came to the Midwest League after spending 1975 with the Royals' rookie club in Sarasota, Fla. He hit. 274 in the Gulf Coast League. His average took a dive Waterloo. By June 1, Hurdle was hitting only .201 for a team that ranked as a Midwest League powerhouse.

"He was really struggling," said Kruse. "They were really kind of concerned about him."

Hurdle learned to make adjustments. When he the young outfielder bragged about his knack for drawing walks, Royals manager John Sullivan took him aside and said, "You don't walk to the big leagues. Swing the bat."
...
Meanwhile, Hurdle kept working. His average settled at a mere .235 but the young left-handed hitter swatted 19 home runs and collected 89 RBIs. The Midwest League named him its Prospect of the Year. His team won the league title.
The story points out that one of Hurdle's teammates on that Waterloo team was Dan Quisenberry.

MWLGuide.com has a summary of the 1976 season.

Quickly: Waterloo went 78-52 for the best record in the league. Then, the swept the Quad City Angels in the Championship series 2 games to none.

The Appleton Foxes went 56-74 to finish with the worst record in the MWL that year.

Beckett's Roommate

Josh Beckett was with the Kane County Cougars in 2000. His roommate was Kelley Washington. Washington is playing wide receiver for the New England Patriots. Beckett is waiting to see if he gets to pitch in the World Series.

The Boston Herald had this story from Karen Guregian yesterday.

Washington familiar with Beckett’s drive
Washington played Single-A ball with Beckett eight years ago for Kane County (Ill.) of the Midwest League, and they roomed together for a couple of months. After getting to know Beckett and seeing him play, Washington always envisioned the right-hander having success in big games.

His friend hasn’t disappointed.

“Ever since he was 18 years old, he’s always been good like that,” Washington said. “I always pictured him doing things like that in his career, and he’s doing it.”

Beckett faced the Timber Rattlers twice in the 2000 season. The first time was on April 12 at Elfstrom Stadium...and I didn't get to see it.

At the time, I was still the play-by-play announcer for the Green Bay Gamblers. The Gamblers were in the playoffs and that had a priority in my agreement with both teams. What did I miss?

Beckett pitched five shutout innings, allowed two hits, walked three, and struck out five. But, he got a no decision.

The second time was on July 2 in Grand Chute. Hockey season had been over for a long time and I did not miss this one.

The starting pitcher for the Rattlers that day was JJ Putz. Putz outpitched Beckett and three other Cougar pitchers in a 2-0 win.

Beckett pitched 4-1/3 innings and again struck out five. He gave up four hits, but two of those hits were solo homers and he took the loss. Shawn McCorkle hit a two out homer in the first inning for a 1-0 lead. Justin Leone homered with one out in the fourth inning and that was all Putz needed.

JJ pitched a complete game, 7-hit shutout with one walk and seven strikeouts.

That day, Kelley Washington went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and he made the final out of the game.

Max McGee

JSonline.com File Photo

I saw this quick entry over at The Wisconsin Sports Bar last night after Game Six.
Former Packer great Max McGee died this afternoon when he fell while blowing leaves off his roof.
To say that I was stunned would be an understatement. There is a fuller report at JSonline.com HERE.
Max McGee, a record-setting receiver who helped the Green Bay Packers win five World Championships and later was a popular color commentator on the team's radio broadcasts, died Saturday at his home in Deephaven, Minn.

McGee was 75.

Emergency crews were called to McGee's residence at approximately 5:20 p.m. after a report that a man had fallen off his roof and was unconscious.

Life-saving measures were performed on McGee, but emergency personnel were unable to revive him and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Max McGee and Jim Irwin entertaining voices during some bad years of Green Bay football. They are the reason I listen to the radio play-by-play while watching the television broadcasts. Nothing against Jim Hill and John Dockery, but Jim and Max were far more entertaining and informative than the #6 CBS team that seemed to have every Packer game.

You could tell that Max was having fun when he was working and I always thought that he was a bit more prepared than he let on to the audience.

A couple of my favorite Max stories:

The Replay Game: It was 1989 and the Packers were off to an uncharacteristically fast start -- If 4-4 can be considered fast. It was November 5 and they hosted the Bears at Lambeau Field. After a quick Packer touchdown, the Bears rallied and took a 13-7 lead. That was the score until the final seconds. Don Majkowski hit Sterling Sharpe with a touchdown pass after a scramble. But, a flag had been thrown on the play. The call was that Majkowski had crossed the line off scrimmage and the touchdown was nullified. The Bears would take over and would beat the Packers again.

But, this was a season with replay. The referee, who I think was Jerry Markbreit, announced that the replay official would be looking at the play.

During the long delay, Jim Irwin was describing what was happening and took a brief pause. Max took this opportunity to chime in with the following gem:
"I'll bet you a beer they reverse this."
They did reverse the call and the Packers won 14-13. I never heard if Max got that beer.

The Misheard Chant: The Packers were playing the Seattle Seahawks at Milwaukee County Stadium on December 9, 1990. I was driving a University of Wisconsin-Platteville car heading back to campus from Superior. Myself and three of my colleagues had been covering the Men's and Women's basketball teams on a road trip to UW-Stout and UW-Superior. After an overnight stay in Superior, we headed out on Sunday morning.

At noon we found the Packer game on the radio. The Packers fell behind badly. Majkowski had been hurt in a win over the Phoenix Cardinals and Anthony Dilweg was the starting QB against the Seahawks. But, we kept listening. We are Packer fans. It's what we do.

Dilweg did not look good and the Milwaukee crowd started a chant for Blair Kiel. KIEL! KIEL! KIEL!

Max hears the chant and quips:
"Are they chanting KIEL or KILL?"
Thank you, Max.
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