An open letter to my fellow owners in the Nightcap Football League (NFL):
Congrats to the finalists, commissioner Zito and Cali Iverson. May the best team win.
You didn’t want to face the Dutchess Dawgs in the playoffs. Not this year. Remember the Dawgs. The team which won the championship last year and quashed all bridesmaid talk. Also the guy who finished in the money the past four years – 1st in 2013, 3rd in 2012, 3rd in 2011, and 2nd in 2010.
Count yourselves lucky, but the Dawgs were overdue for some rough sledding this season. The big pups were peaking at the close of the year, scoring more than 100 in each of their last three games. And they beat the champs of each division.
But they wound up out of the playoffs, in the consolation ladder. Which is no consolation. Hey, stuff happens. Simply explanations, not excuses:
1. There’s no defense in fantasy football – Well not really, you do have a defense/special teams unit (D/ST), which can score points for you. But you have no control over the team you are playing. and in 2014 the Dawgs’ opponents scored 1230 points in 13 games, more than a hundred more than the next ranked game. So even though the Dawgs scored 1285 points, the second highest total in the league and just 11 points behind the leader, they failed to make the playoffs. .
2. The fantasy screw – There are games where one opposing player can run your best-laid plans. Games where Joe Flacco throws five touchdown passes…in the first quarter. Games where Marshawn Lynch scores four TDs. And the killer, when Justin Forsett, another Raven, whips up on an opponent and knocks the Dawgs out of the playoff hunt.
3. The law of averages – The Dawgs are a contender every year. Since 2010, they have finished third, first, fourth and third in overall scoring. But here’s the rub. In the same timeframe, they were 11th, 9th, 12th and 11th in points against – where 12 is the best number. The law of averages caught up with me.
4. Oh, those injuries – Yeah, it’s football, and every team suffers injuries. But some are more galling than others. Like the busted collarbone on his first carry of the game, a 53-yarder that knocked out B.J. Spiller for the season. And even worse, led to a one-point loss for the Dawgs.
5. Tight ain’t right – The Dawgs played six different tight ends in the regular season – Jordan Reed, Dwayne Allen, Jared Cook, Owen Daniels, Charles Clay and Greg Olsen. And they didn’t score a single touchdown between them.
On yes, then there’s my creed – reality beats fantasy. Not gonna root against the New York Giants for anything, not even for a fantasy title. There’s fantasy, and then there’s reality. And never the twain shall meet.
Remember, if you can’t run with the big Dawgs, stay on the porch.
Madison Bumgarner, aka Bum, rang up one of the great World Series performances of all time when he led the San Francisco Giants past the Kansas City Royals. Great stuff, but MadBum and all the rest take a back seat to the New York Giants right-hander and Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson, who pitched three complete game shutouts to lead his team to a five-game win over the Philadelphia A’s in the second World Series ever in 1905.
Matty, pictured above, threw a four-hitter in Game 1 as the Giants won 3-0. He followed that up with another four-hitter in a 9-0 New York win in Game 3. And he closed the deal two days later at the Polo Grounds, allowing just five hits as the Giants won 2-0. All five games in the 1905 Series ended up in shutouts – Chief Bender for the A’s in Game 2 and Joe McGinnity for the Giants in Game 4.
Mathewson’s 1905 WS line was 27 innings pitched, 13 hits allowed, 18 strikeouts and one walk. He even had a couple of base hits. For his career Mathewson won 373 games, nearly twice as many as he lost, with a lifetime 2.13 ERA. He set modern National League records for wins in a career, wins in a season (37) and consecutive 20-win seasons (12), records that still stand today.
Mathewson was nicknamed Big Six when sportswriter Sam Crane compared him to New York City’s Big Six Fire Company, “the fastest to put out the fire.” Matty served in France in World War I where he was a captain in the Army’s Chemical Warfare Division. While there, Mathewson was exposed to mustard gas during a training exercise. He suffered from tuberculosis the rest of his life, and died in 1925 as the World Series was being played.
It’s tough to top Matty’s World Series heroics in 1905, but here are 10 who made history in their own rite, in chronological order.
2014: Madison Bumgarner evoked memories of immortal and fellow Giant Matthewson as he almost single-handedly silenced the Royals. MadBum, shown at left, stopped the red-hot Royals and their eight-game playoff win streak in the opener, and then pitched a complete-game shutout in Game 5 for his second win. With the season on the line in Game 7, he threw five innings of two-hit ball to earn the save in a 3-2 Series clinching win. Overall MadBum allowed nine hits and one run in 21 innings, an 0.43 ERA.
1991: Jack Morris was at his absolute best in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. Refusing to come out of the game, the Minnesota Twins finally rewarded his efforts when Gene Larkin’s 10th-inning, walk-off single game the Twins a 1-0 win over the Atlanta Braves. In outdueling John Smoltz of the Braves, Morris allowed seven hits over 10 innings and struck out eight. Morris won Game 1 of the Series and had a no-decision in Game 4. He was 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA in the Series.
1988: Orel Hershiser of the Los Angeles Dodgers maintained his late-season roll with two stellar performances in the World Series. After setting a new record with 59 consecutive scoreless innings in September, Hershiser shut out the heavily-favored Oakland A’s 6-0 in Game 2, then won the Game 5 clincher 5-2 with another complete game. His totals – 2-0 record, 18 innings pitched, 7 hits, 17 strikeouts, and 3-for-3 at the plate.
1968: The St. Louis Cardinals were big favorites, and when Bob Gibson struck out 17 Tiger batters and beat Detroit 31-game winner Denny McLain things didn’t look good. Mickey Lolich to the rescue. The portly southpaw beat the Cardinals 8-1 in Game 2 and hit a home run as well. With the Tigers down three games to one, he won Game 5, 5-3. Finally, pitching on just two days rest, Lolich won his third game of the World Series, outlasting Gibson and the Cards 4-1 in the Game 7 clincher.
1967: The 1967 World Series belonged to St. Louis Cardinals righthander Bob Gibson who doused the Impossible Dreamers, the Boston Red Sox. Gibson was 3-0 with 26 strikeouts and a 1.00 ERA in three complete game showings. He won Game 1, 2-1, and pitched a five-hit shutout to take Game 4. After the Red Sox rallied to tie the Series, Gibson homered in a 7-2 win in the Game 7 Cards wrap.
1963: During a five-year stretch in the early and mid 60s, Sandy Koufax was as dominant as any pitcher has ever been. And the Los Angeles Dodger left-hander, pictured right, dominated the Yankees in 1963, setting a WS strikeout record with 15 Ks to win Game 1, and completing the sweep with a 2-1 victory and eight strikeouts in Game 4.
1957: Yankee castoff Lew Burdette returned to haunt the Bronx Bombers in the 1957 World Series. The Milwaukee Braves right-hander won Game 2 and then proceeded to shut out the Yankees in Game 5. With the Series on the line, Burdette threw another shutout in Game 7 at Yankee Stadium, winning 5-0. Overall, Burdette was 3-0 and allowed just two runs in 27 innings for 0.67 ERA.
1933: The last time Washington was in the World Series, the Senators lost to the New York Giants in five games. New York’s screwball artist Carl Hubbell won the opener 4-2, striking out 10. In Game 4, Hubbell went all the way allowing eight hits as the Giants won, 2-1 in 11 innings. Although Hubbell gave up three runs in the two games, none of them were earned. His ERA in 20 innings was 0.00.
1926: Grover Cleveland Alexander won 373 games in his career, tying Christy Mathewson for the most all-time in the National League. And he was nearly as good as Matty in the 1926 World Series. Pitching for the Cardinals, Old Pete beat the New York Yankees in Game 2, and when he threw another complete game to win Game 6, 10-2, the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer probably figured he was done for the Series. Not so fast. With the Cardinals in front 3-2, two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh inning of Gam 7, Alexander was called on to face Tony Lazzeri. After a loud foul down the left-field line at Yankee Stadium, Alexander struck out Lazzeri. He threw hitless ball the rest of the way, saving the Cardinals first World Championship.
1921: New York Yankee right-hander Waite Hoyt matched the mighty Matty in the first subway Series, with all games played at the Polo Grounds. He pitched 27 innings against the cross Harlem River Giants, and had a 0.00 ERA. Hoyt pitched a five-hit 3-0 shutout in Game 1 in the Yankees first World Series game ever. He allowed a pair of unearned runs in in Game 5 and won again, 4-2. In the finale, Game 8, Hoyt, pictured at left, gave up an unearned run on an error by shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh in the top of the first and then blanked the Giants the rest of the way. However the Yankees couldn’t score and lost both the game, 1-0, and the Series, five games to three.
2001: Randy Johnson, Kurt Schilling, two-headed monster, combined to win all four games, three by the Big Unit, as the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in seven games.
1960: Whitey Ford, the winningest pitcher in World Series history with 10, hurled complete game shutouts in Games 2 and 6 and was well on his way to breaking Babe Ruth’s record for consecutive scoreless innings.
1956: Don Larsen. The Yankee righty pitched a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers, nuff said. Larsen got bombed in Game 2, but so what. He’s a perfect fit.
1946: Crafty Cardinal lefty Harry Breechen won three games in this Series, including a relief effort in Game 7 to edge the Red Sox. The Cat finished 3-0 with an 0.45 ERA
1912: Smokey Joe Wood, won three games, including the clincher. The Red Sox flame thrower was 3-1 with a 4.50 ERA
Are the San Francisco Giants a dynasty? Well, if you consider three World Series championships in five years a dynasty – especially in today’s multi-tiered playoff format – then the answer is a resounding yes.
The Giants, who have now won the World Series in alternating years (2010-2012-2014) are just the third team to win three titles in a five-season span since MLB began playoff baseball in 1969. The New York Yankees won three in a row between 1998-2000, and four in five years with their 1996 flag. And the Oakland A’s took three straight World Series beginning in 1972.
The Yankees boast the three greatest dynasties in baseball history. They won a record five straight World Series from 1949-53, and seven in 10 years 12 years if you count the 1947 and 1956 champs. And the Bronx Bombers won four straight World Series from 1936-39, and six in eight years including titles in 1941 and 1943.
Since the first World Series in 1903, only nine teams have managed to win three times in five years. The other dynasties are the Philadelphia A’s who won three out of four (1910-1911-1913), the Boston Red Sox, four out of seven (1912-1915-1916-1918), the St. Louis Cardinals, three out of five in alternating years (1942-1944-1946), and the Yankees, three out of five (1958-1961-1962.)
Seven other ballclubs have won consecutive World Series,but none of them was able to win a third championship in five years. The other repeat champions are the Chicago Cubs (1907-1908), New York Giants (1921-1922), Yankees (1927-1928), Philadelphia A’s (1929-1930), Cincinnati Reds (1975-1976), Yankees (1977-1978) and the Toronto Blue Jays (1992-1993).
The New York/San Francisco Giants have now won eight World Series, tied with the Red Sox for fourth on the all time rings list. The Yankees lead with 27 championships, followed by the Cardinals with 11 and the Philadelphia/Kansas City/Oakland A’s with nine. Overall the Yankees have played in the most World Series (27-13 record), followed by the Giants (8-12 record).
OK, I wasn’t there for the flip play, or Mr. November, or the time he dove into the stands that night at the Stadium against Boston. But I’ve had my moments up close and personal with Derek Jeter. Here are my 10 all-time favorites from games that I attended….and other, shall we say, close encounters or experiences.
1. 2009 – The Catch: This one is easy. In May of 2009, my first game at the new Yankee Stadium, I caught a Jeter home run in the left field stands. Granted it was batting practice, but who’s counting. I’ve attended hundreds of major league baseball games, but this was the only time in my life I ever caught a ball. Later that night, Jeter hit a home run during the “real” game, and the Yankees rallied with three runs in the ninth inning to beat the Twins 5-4. Here’s my story.
2. 2000 – Jenna in the News: Next week my daughter Jenna will make headlines. She’s getting married. But Jenna made headlines back in 2000 at the Yankees victory parade down Broadway. She was quoted in the Daily News, talking about her favorite Yankee. “I blew him a kiss, he blew a kiss at me, I blew it right back at him,” gushed Jenna Bause, 19, a freshman at Dutchess Community College. “It’s in my heart forever.” No, she’s not marrying DJ, but Sam, her husband to be, is a Yankee fan. And that counts for a lot.
3. 1999 – World Champions: Jeter singles to key a three-run fourth inning as the Yankees sweep the Atlanta Braves to win their 25h World Series in the final game of the 20th Century.
4. 1996 – The Rookie: The Yankees then 22-year-old shortstop lines a single up the middle with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th for a wild 12-11 win against the Red Sox.
5. 2003 – Curses: Jeter’s leadoff double in the eighth sparks a three-run, game-tying rally by the Yankees against Boston ace Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the ALCS. The Yanks would go on to win the pennant in the 11th on a home run by Aaron Boone.
6. 1998 – Perfect: David Wells pitches a perfect game and DJ is perfect too, singling and catching a pop-up in his only chance in the field.
7. 2001 – Mets Killer I: The captain has two hits, including an RBI single in first, and the Yankees beat the Mets at Shea Stadium in the first meeting of Gotham’s rivals since the Subway Series.
8. 2003 – Mets Killer II: In the nightcap of a day-night, two-ballpark doubleheader, Alfonso Soriano and Jeter lead off the game with back-to-back home runs and the Yanks go on to beat the Mets 9-8.
9. 2013 – Captain to Captain: Friends of mine have met Derek Jeter, bought him a Crown Royal and Coke, gotten an autograph. My closest Yankee captain experience was meeting Don Mattingly, his predecessor, for a photo opportunity near my Hopewell Junction home last year. Guess what, we talked about Jeter. Donnie Baseball is a big Jeter fab.
10. 2013 – Mr. Consistency: Coming off a broken ankle suffered in a playoff game the previous October, Jeter plays in just 17 games in 2013. I went to two Yankee games in 2013, and the captain played in both. I’ve seen dozens and dozens of Yankee games in the past 20 years….and Derek Jeter played in every one.
Fifty-six years ago today, September 20, 1958, the Yankees were no-hit by knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm. And discounting Houston’s six-pitcher no-hitter against New York in 2003, the Yankees haven’t been no-hit since – although they came close on numerous occasions.
Eight times since the Wilhelm gem the Yankees have entered the ninth inning without a hit. And each time they managed to break up a no-hitter in their last at bat.
In 1967, on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, Boston left-hander Billy Rohr took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against Hall of Famer Whitey Ford. Rohr was one strike away from history when Elston Howard hit a soft single into right-center field. Rohr beat the Yankees in his next start, but won just one more game in the majors after that.
In the space of one month in 1970, Yankee second baseman Horace Clarke broke up three possible no-hitters in the ninth. Jim Rooker of Kansas City, Sonny Siebert of Boston and Joe Niekro of Detroit were the victims.
Reggie Jackson broke up a Nolan Ryan no-hit bid in 1979 with a one-out single against the Angels’ Hall of Famer. Two years later, Rick Cerone turned the trick against Boston’s Bobby Ojeda. And in 1989, Roberto Kelly ruined Dave Stieb’s perfect game by doubling to left with two outs in the ninth. Kelly then scored on a single by Steve Sax, but Stieb got Luis Polonia to ground out and preserve his 2-1 victory. The last near-miss occurred in 2006, when Robinson Cano hit a line single to left against Baltimore’s Daniel Cabrera with one out in the ninth to break up the no-hitter. Cano was then erased when Bobby Abreu hit into a double play to end the game.
Wilhelm’s no-hitter took place at the old Baltimore Memorial Stadium. Orioles catcher Gus Triandos accounted for the only run of the game with a home run in the seventh inning against Yankee reliever Bobby Shantz, who was pitching in relief of Dan Larsen. Less than two years earlier, Larsen threw the only no-hitter in World Series history as New York beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 2-0.
A total of six Hall of Famers played in the Wilhelm game, Mickey Mantle and pinch-hitters Yogi Berra and Enos Slaughter for the Yankees, and Brooks Robinson, Dick Williams (who made it as a manager) and Hoyt Wilhelm for the Orioles.
Wilhelm was just 3-10 in 1958, splitting the season between Cleveland and the Orioles. He started four games that year, and just 52 in his entire career.
The Astros six-man no-hitter took place on June 11, 2003. Roy Oswalt started for Houston but was injured early in the contest. Pete Munron, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner finished the task.
It was the most pitchers ever to combine on a no-hitter in major league history — twice, four had done the trick. And it was the first time in 6,981 games — the longest streak in major league history – that the Yankees had been no-hit. Between those no-hitter, the Yankees won nine World Series and 15 American League pennants.
Nolan Ryan, baseball’s all-time strikeout king, never won a Cy Young Award. Nor did Don Sutton, a fellow Hall of Famer and 300-game winner. Hall of Famers Bert Blyleven, Jim Bunning, Phil Niekro or Robin Roberts? Answer is no. Not even Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in baseball history, could cop the Cy.
Marichal was 243-142, a .631 winning percentage and a 3.04 ERA during his Hall of Fame career, spent almost entirely with the San Francisco Giants. He won 20 games six times, and three of those were dominant performances, Cy Young type seasons almost any other year.
However Marchial had the bad luck to run up against even more superb performances by Sandy Koufax in 1963 and 1966, and then Bob Gibson in 1968.
In 1963, Juan Marichal was 25-8 with a 2.41 ERA and 248 strikeouts. One of those wins was an epic 1-0, 16-inning battle by the bay against Warren Spahn, in which both pitchers had complete games. But Sandy Koufax was even better, 25-5, 1.88 ERA and 306 strikeouts. Koufax was also the National League MVP that year.
Three years later, Marichal went 25-6, .2.23 ERA and 222 strikeouts. Again he was bested by Koufax, who in his final season was 27-9, 1.73 ERA and 317 strikeouts. From its inception in 1956 until 1967, only one Cy Young was awarded each season. Koufax won it three times – in 1963, 1965 and 1966.
In 1968, Marichal was a career high 26-9, 2.43 ERA and 218 K’s. This time he ran up against Bob Gibson and his 1.12 ERA, the lowest in baseball since Dutch Leonard’s 0.96 in 1914. No pitcher has come close to that mark since. Gibson was 22-9 that year and struck out 268 batters in winning both the Cy and MVP. Marichal was left behind at the altar once again.
Imagine that,winning 25, 25 an 26 games – and losing the Cy Young each time. Marichal failed to garner a single vote in 1963, 1966 or 1968 – Koufax twice and Gibson were unanimous winners.
Marichal also won 20 games in 1964, 1965 and 1969 – and yet did not get as much as a single first place vote in Cy Young balloting any of those years, or in any of the other years he was eligible. Marichal’s highest finish was eighth, tied with Bill Stoneman, in 1971, when he was 18-11.
To say the Yankees are offensively challenged is a gross understatement. Going into action today, the Bronx formerly known as Bombers were next to last in runs scored in the American League (ahead of only the Red Sox.)
The pitching is not the problem. Despite losing 80 percent of their starting rotation for all or most of the season, the Yankee pitching has been consistent. The bullpen, led by David Robertson and Dellin Betances, has, in fact ,been outstanding.
It’s the Yankee offense that bears scrutiny. Only Brett Gardner, who has been their best player in 2014, is hitting above his lifetime average. It’s easy to point the finger at a starting lineup which is hitting a collective .491 points below their lifetime batting averages. Here’s the ugly truth:
Pos. Player 2014 Career Difference
LF Brett Gardner .276 .269 +7
SS Derek Jeter .273 .311 -38
CF Jacoby Ellsbury .273 .294 -21
IB Mark Teixeira .232 .275 -43
DH Carlos Beltran .240 .281 -41
C Brian McCann .238 .274 -36
3B Chase Headley .250 .265 -15
2B Stephen Drew .170 .259 – 89
RF Martin Prado .163 .289 -126
RF Ichiro Suzuki .277 .317 -40
RF Alfonso Soriano .221 .270 -49
Some random thoughts, rants and muses on the hitless wonders:
- Texeira’s batting average has dipped each year since he joined the Yankees in 2009.
- Free agent acquisitions Ellsbury, Beltran and McCann (or is that McCan’t?, pictured above in case you were wondering) have hit a cumulative 98 points behind their lifetime averages.
- Amazingly, Drew is hitting lower with the Yankees (.170) than the Red Sox (.176).
- Discount relative newcomers Headley, Prado and Drew, the cumulative mark is still .261 under the lifetime mean.
- And we haven’t included utility men Brian Roberts (.237, .276, -39) and Kelly Johnson (.219, .251, -32). That brings the cumulative total below lifetime batting average to -.562
- Don’t forget these are current lifetime averages.If you counted those averages coming into the season, the dropoff would be even more precipitous.
- Jeter gets a pass. He’s played exactly one game in his career when the Yankees were mathematically eliminated. Plus he’s a 40-year-old shortstop.
- Yankees haven’t finished below .500 since 76-86 in 1992, 20 games behind the world champion Blue Jays. Since then they’ve captured five World Series and seven AL pennants while winning 14 divisional titles.