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C O N T E N T S

September/October 2017 — Volume 76, No. 5

F E A T U R E S

9 Warmup Tosses by Bob Kuenster


Who will close out 2017 as World Series champs?

12 Managers Who Paid Price


for World Series Failure
Winning doesn’t always translate into job security
by Bruce Levine and Joel Bierig

21 Baseball Profile by Rick Sorci


Brewers infielder Jonathan Villar

22 Great Postseason Defense


Often Ignites Victory by Larry Stone
Big plays with the glove can help lead teams to title

26 Pinch-Hitting Heroics in October


by Tom Haudricourt
Substitute hitters play vital roles during postseason

30 20 Great Playoff Pitching Duels


by Stuart Shea
Memorable mound matches in postseason history

36 Lineup Protection—Does It Exist?


Batters, pitchers and coaches offer their take
by David Laurila
DANIEL MURPHY
40 Defensive Efficiency by Mike Berardino Washington second
Winning and losing often determined baseman is rated among
the best at his position,
by how a team performs defensively page 44

44 MLB’s 10 Best Second Basemen


Houston’s Jose Altuve and Seattle’s
Robinson Cano rank at the top by Bruce Miles

50 Turn Back the Clock


The incredible 1967 American League pennant race
by Thom Henninger

55 The Game I’ll Never Forget


Former Yankee recalls his grand slam in
Game 3 of 1960 World Series
by Bobby Richardson as told to Marty Appel

D E P A R T M E N T S

4 Stat Corner COMING IN


BASEBALL DIGEST:
6 The Fans Speak Out 2017 Awards Issue
Cover Photo Credits
48 Baseball Quick Quiz Photos by SportPics
58 Rules Corner by Rich Marazzi
SportPics

59 Crossword Puzzle by Larry Humber September/October 2017 3


BASEBALL STAT CORNER

World Series Homers


with Different Teams
wenty-one players have hit a World Series

T home run for two franchises. Only Matt


Williams has stroked a World Series homer
for three different teams.

Player Teams
Miguel Cabrera Marlins, Tigers
Kiki Cuyler Pirates, Cubs
Darren Daulton Phillies, Marlins
Lenny Dykstra Mets, Phillies
Jim Eisenreich Phillies, Marlins
Kirk Gibson Tigers, Dodgers
Joe Gordon Yankees, Indians
Dave Henderson Red Sox, A’s
Matt Holliday Rockies, Cardinals
Reggie Jackson A’s, Yankees SportPics
Roger Maris Yankees, Cardinals
Joe Morgan
Eddie Murray
Reds, Phillies
Orioles, Indians MIGUEL
Manny Ramirez Indians, Red Sox CABRERA
Jimmy Ripple Giants, Reds
Frank Robinson Reds, Orioles
Bill Skowron Yankees, Dodgers
Enos Slaughter Cardlinals, Yankees
Reggie Smith Red Sox, Dodgers
Matt Williams Giants, Indians, D-backs
Rudy York Tigers, Red Sox

LUIS GONZALEZ

David Durochik/SportPics

How Players with 50 HR


Fared in World Series
itting 50 homers in a season has been accomplished

H by 28 players on 43 occasions. Only nine times has


a slugger clubbed 50 homers and appeared in the
World Series in the same year.
Season WS
Year Player, Team HR HR
1961 Roger Maris, Yankees 61 1
1927 Babe Ruth, Yankees 60 2
1921 Babe Ruth, Yankees 59 1
2001 Luis Gonzalez, Diamondbacks 57 1
1961 Mickey Mantle, Yankees 54 0
1928 Babe Ruth, Yankees 54 3
1956 Mickey Mantle, Yankees 52 3
1995 Albert Belle, Indians 50 2
David Durochik/SportPics
1998 Greg Vaughn, Padres 50 2
4 September/October 2017
How Batting Champs
Fared in World Series Norman Jacobs
ince the World Series began in 1903, a league Publisher

S batting champion has appeared in that year’s


Fall Classic 37 times. Listed below are those
batting title winners with their batting averages for
David Fagley
Associate Publisher
both the regular season and World Series.
Only four times have the two league batting champs Bob Kuenster
faced off in the World Series—1909 (Ty Cobb, Tigers Editor
vs. Honus Wagner, Pirates), 1931 (Al Simmons, A’s vs.
Chick Hafey, Cardinals), 1954 (Willie Mays, Giants vs. Thom Henninger
Bobby Avila, Indians), and 2012 (Buster Posey, Giants Editor
SportPics
vs. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers).
Rob Wyszkowski
BUSTER Regular World Art Director
POSEY NATIONAL LEAGUE
Year Player, Team
Season Series
BA BA
Dale Jacobs
1903 Honus Wagner, Pirates .355 .222 Production Manager
1909 Honus Wagner, Pirates + .339 .333
1919 Edd Roush, Reds + .321 .214
David Durochik
1927 Paul Waner, Pirates .380 .333
Contributing Photographer
1931 Chick Hafey, Cardinals + .349 .167
1941 Pete Reiser, Dodgers .343 .200
1943 Stan Musial, Cardinals .357 .278 Richard Kent
1945 Phil Cavarretta, Cubs .355 .423 Circulation Manager
1946 Stan Musial, Cardinals + .365 .222
1949 Jackie Robinson, Dodgers .342 .188 Murray Jacobs
1953 Carl Furillo, Dodgers .344 .333 Customer Service
1954 Willie Mays, Giants + .345 .286
STAN 1960 Dick Groat, Pirates + .325 .214 Business and Editorial Office
990 Grove St. Evanston, IL 60201-6510
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1984 Tony Gwynn, Padres
.326
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2002 Barry Bonds, Giants .370 .471 Advertising Sales
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SportPics September/October 2017 5


WHAT ABOUT . . . ?
The article on MLB’s 10 Best Third Basemen in the
July/August issue missed the mark by omitting Tribe third
baseman Jose Ramirez, who is better than at least half of
the players named, as affirmed by
his selection as the A.L. hot corner
All-Star.
Cleveland fans know that
Ramirez, and not Francisco Lindor
(who in the same issue is the sub-
ject of a feature article), is the best
position player on the Tribe.
Ramirez’ language skills and
charisma may still need develop-
ment—and may account for his rel-
ative anonymity—but he is the bet-
ter overall player. Mike Urban
Stow, OH

With all the great shortstops


mentioned in your article on

SportPics
MLB’s 10 Best Shortstops in the
May/June Baseball Digest, I think
JIM KAAT one was missed. Zack Cozart of the
GOOD, NOT GREAT, PART II Cincinnati Reds is an underrated
In the “Fans Speak Out” section of the July/August 2017 player. He started his career as just
Baseball Digest, a reader wrote about Jim Kaat and Tommy a defensive whiz, but his bat has
John not being quite good enough to be in the Hall of caught up with his glove. Zack
Fame. I actually agree, however I believe there was a least Cozart deserves to be on that list,
one statement he made that was factually incorrect. or at least mentioned.
The letter writer stated, in part, “A team with either as its Matt Alban,
SportPics
best pitcher in a given year seems unlikely to have won a Newark, OH
pennant.” JOSE RAMIREZ
In 1980 with the Yankees (A.L. pennant) and in 1977 with STANTON TO SOSA
the Dodgers (N.L. pennant), John was the best pitcher on How many home runs away is Giancarlo Stanton from
those teams. In 1965, it could be argued that Kaat was the Sammy Sosa to become the letter “S” HR leader?
best pitcher on the A.L. champion Twins. Although Micah Adam Lynn
Mudcat Grant fans would also have a good argument. Gastonia, NC
If both men didn’t suffer serious arm injuries, they Through Aug. 4, Giancarlo Stanton had 243 career home
would more than likely be in the Hall. Especially Kaat, who runs—366 behind Sammy Sosa’s career mark of 609. At this
pitched in an era before advanced surgical procedures like writing, Stanton ranked 25th in lifetime home runs among
... well “Tommy John” surgery. What do you think? players whose last name begins with the letter “S,” trailing
Mike Lanier some other well-known sluggers that include Mike Schmidt
Stafford Springs, CT (548), Gary Sheffield (509), Willie Stargell (475), Alfonso
You make a valid point. Although both pitchers suffered Soriano (412) and Duke Snider (407).
arm injuries, they still performed remarkably well following
their ailments.
John went 124-106 with a 2.97 ERA and 28 shutouts in the
12 seasons before the injury that forced him to miss the 1975 SAMMY
campaign. When he returned, John pitched 14 additional SOSA
years in the majors, posting a 164-125 record, a 3.66 ERA
and 18 shutouts.
Kaat injured his arm, tearing the ligaments loose in his
left elbow in the ulnar collateral area, during the penulti-
mate game of the 1967 season. Up to that point, his career
mark was 114-96 with a 3.31 ERA and 14 shutouts. Kaat
never had surgery, but instead had 30 cortisone injections to
mask the pain. He said it took him several seasons to gain
David Durochik/SportPics

full strength in his pitching arm again and finished his


David Durochik/SportPics

career with 283 career victories. GIANCARLO


If John and Kaat never went through serious arm injuries, STANTON
SportPics

both hurlers could have surpassed the 300-win barrier and


earned entrance into the Hall of Fame.

6 September/October 2017
MOST 20-HR HITTERS JUDGE VS. HOWARD
You forgot the 1961 Yankees—pre-DH and pre-PED. I know how big Aaron Judge is
They had six players with 20-plus home runs—Roger because every baseball announc-
Maris (61), Mickey Mantle (54), Bill Skowron (28), Yogi er or “expert” keeps indicating his
Berra (22), Elston Howard (21) and Johnny Blanchard 21. size. How big was Frank Howard?
True, they didn’t have that seventh guy, but for us “old He played for the Dodgers,
school” guys, they are the most legit. Senators, Rangers and Tigers.
Reading your publication for over 50 years. Keep up the David W. Bevill
great work. Cesar Pellerano, MD Pontotoc, MS
Miami Lakes, FL Frank Howard is 6-foot-7.
We didn’t forget the 1961 Yankees because they did not During his prime years as a major-
have seven players with 20 or more home runs. They did not league slugger, he weighed 255

SportPics
qualify for the chart. pounds. Judge stands 6-foot-7 and
Prior to the designated-hitter rule, which came into effect AARON JUDGE weighs 282 pounds.
in 1973, two other clubs featured as many as six players with
20 or more home runs in a season—the 1964 Minnesota
Twins and 1965 Milwaukee Braves. MUSIAL NEMESIS
The Twins lineup included Harmon Killebrew (49), Bob In looking at your list of pitchers who held star players
Allison (32), Tony Oliva (32), Jimmie Hall (25), Don Mincher hitless in the most at-bats in the May/June issue of
(23) and Zoilo Versalles (20). The Braves had Hank Aaron Baseball Digest, I believe you have made a big mistake
(32), Eddie Mathews (32), Mack Jones (31), Joe Torre (27), regarding Stan Musial.
Felipe Alou (23) and Gene Oliver (21). Mike Budnick, according to your information, is the
pitcher who held Musial hitless the most at-bats during his
GRAND SLAMS career, at eight.
What team has the longest streak of games in which it Several years ago, I was listening to a sports talk show on
hit at least one grand slam? Lance Walton a St. Louis radio station and I distinctly remember the host
Strasburg, VA saying that a pitcher, whose name I can’t recall, held
Through July 31, 2017, the most consecutive games with a Musial hitless in 49 at-bats over his career. This shocked
grand slam by a single team are three. The record was set by me that Stan the Man could be so dominated by any pitch-
the Milwaukee Brewers in 1978 and equaled by the 1993 er, since he was one of the all-time greats.
Detroit Tigers and 2006 Chicago White Sox. If you could do additional research and find out the
The Brewers set the mark on April 7 (Sixto Lezcano), 8 name of the pitcher who stymied Musial to the tune of 0-
(Gorman Thomas) and 9 (Cecil Cooper), 1978. The Tigers for-49, I’d greatly appreciate it. Tommy Davis
executed three slams on August 10 (Dan Gladden), 11 (Dan Lawrenceburg, TN
Gladden) and 12 (Chad Kreuter), 1993. The White Sox According to our research through retrosheet.org, right-
matched the others on June 23 (Scott Podsednik), 24 (Joe handed pitcher Mike Budnick, who pitched in 42 major-
Crede) and 25 (Tadahito Iguchi), 2006. league games for the New York Giants, held Musial hitless in
eight at-bats, the most at-bats a single pitcher has held the
PAINFUL RECORDS Cardinals legend hitless.
A recent issue showed comparisons of reaching base by Among major-league hurlers who Musial had at least 10
getting hit by a pitched ball and walks. at-bats against, 19 kept him to a batting average below .200.
Here’s some interesting sidelights: In 1904, Chicago Cubs See the accompanying chart.
first baseman Frank Chance was hit by a pitched ball five
times in one day. The Cubs played a doubleheader and PITCHERS WHO MUSIAL STRUGGLED AGAINST
Chance was hit by a pitch three times in the first game and
twice in the second contest. Pitcher AB H SO BA
SAM JONES
In modern times, Ron Hunt, who played for the Mets Sam Jones (R) 51 6 12 .118
and Expos, was hit 41 times in a season. Yes, for both play- Dick Littlefield (L) 39 7 4 .179
Don McMahon (R) 21 4 0 .190
ers it was a weird “achievement” for what is probably one
Fred Baczewski (L) 18 3 1 .167
of the most painful records in baseball. Bill Henry (L) 18 3 3 .167
Jay Becker Clyde King (R) 18 3 0 .167
Syosset, NY Steve Ridzik (R) 18 3 1 .167
As you indicate, in a game played on Harry Taylor (R) 18 3 1 .167
May 30, 1904, Chance was hit by a Tommy de la Cruz (R) 17 3 0 .176
pitch five times in a doubleheader Hank Gornicki (R) 16 3 1 .188
against the Cincinnati Reds. Jim Hughes (R) 16 3 2 .188
Larry Jackson (R) 16 3 3 .188
Regarding Ron Hunt, he holds the sin-
Hal Schumacher (R) 16 3 0 .188
gle-season mark for times hit by a pitch Karl Spooner (L) 12 2 1 .167
with 50. Don Ferrarese (L) 11 1 1 .091
He established the record in 1971, playing Dennis Bennett (L) 11 2 4 .182
for the Montreal Expos and surpassing the Bob Milliken (R) 11 2 1 .182
previous high of 31 set by Steve Evans of the St. Ray Prim (L) 11 2 0 .182
KARL SPOONER
Louis Cardinals in 1910. Chris Short (L) 11 2 2 .182

FRANK CHANCE September/October 2017 7


DH DEBATE CONTINUES
It appears the majority of baseball fans are in favor of
bringing the DH into the National League, as the A.L. did
back in the 1970s. The main reason for having the DH, fans
say, is that it provides more offense and reduces the pitch-
er’s chance of getting injured.
I would be in favor of not adding the DH to the N.L.
because the leagues’ differences make them unique and
interesting—not to mention the
long history the N.L. has had with- ALBERT
out the designated hitter. PUJOLS
I also enjoy watching pitchers hit
because it brings an entertaining

David Durochik/SportPics
element to the game during inter-
league contests that are played in
N.L. ballparks. And when a pitcher
does perform well as a hitter, it is
really intriguing to watch the man-
WRIGLEY FIELD agerial element of when to pinch-hit
FOUL POLE DISTANCE for the pitcher.
Can you tell me if there is a minimum distance required Do you think the DH will be insti-
from home plate to the foul poles in major-league ballparks? tuted in the N.L. or will MLB stick
Warren Isaacs with the current system?

SportPics
Yonkers, NY Andrew DeAngelis
The official rules do not specify a minimum distance from Richmond, RI
home plate, but MLB does mandate a minimum distance of With Major League Baseball and
250 feet and recommends a minimum distance of 320 feet to the Players Association under a new labor agreement through
the foul poles and 400 feet to center field. the end of the 2021 season, the DH will most likely remain in
Here are the distances (in feet) to the left- and right-field the American League only. Both sides are open to discussion
foul poles at each MLB ballpark: about the DH rule, so a change could be made in the future.

AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING TITLE BELOW .320


Park Team LF RF How many times has a player
Camden Yards Orioles 333 318 won a league batting championship
Fenway Park Red Sox 310 302 with an average below .320?

David Durochik/SportPics
Yankee Stadium Yankees 318 314
Ruth Dunne
Chris Bernacchi/SportPics

Tropicana Field Rays 315 322


Rogers Centre Blue Jays 328 328
Arlington, TX
Guaranteed Rate White Sox 330 335 Eight batting champions won titles
Progressive Field Indians 325 325 with an average lower than .320. Five
Comerica Park Tigers 345 330 did so in the American League and
Kauffman Stadium Royals 330 330 YANKEE STADIUM three in the National League. Red Sox CARL YASTRZEMSKI
Target Field Twins 339 328 Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski holds
Minute Maid Park Astros 315 326 the distinction of posting the lowest batting-title average
Angel Stadium Angels 330 330 (.301) in 1968, the Year of the Pitcher.
Globelife Park Rangers 332 325
Oakland Coliseum A’s 330 330
Safeco Park Mariners 331 326 BATTING CHAMPS BELOW .320
NATIONAL LEAGUE AMERICAN LEAGUE
Park Team LF RF Year Player, Team BA
SportPics

AT&T Park Giants 339 309 1905 Elmer Flick, Indians .308
1945 Snuffy Stirnweiss, Yankees .309
SportPics

Busch Stadium Cardinals 336 335


Chase Field D-backs 330 335 FENWAY PARK 1966 Frank Robinson, Orioles .316
Citi Field Mets 335 330 1968 Carl Yastrzemski, Red Sox .301
1972 Rod Carew, Twins .318 FRANK ROBINSON
Citzens Bank Park Phillies 330 329
Coors Field Rockies 347 350
Dodger Stadium Dodgers 330 330 NATIONAL LEAGUE
Great Amer. Ballpark Reds 325 328 Year Player, Team BA
1988 Tony Gwynn, Padres .313
SportPics

Marlins Park Marlins 340 335


Miller Park Brewers 344 345 1991 Terry Pendleton, Braves .319
Nationals Park Nationals 336 335 2014 Justin Morneau, Rockies .319
TONY GWYNN
Petco Park Padres 336 322
BASEBALL DIGEST WELCOMES LETTERS FROM READERS.
SportPics

PNC Park Pirates 325 320


Full name, city and state or province must be included. Mail to:
Suntrust Park Braves 335 325 The Fans Speak Out, Baseball Digest, 990 Grove Street, Evanston, IL
Wrigley Field Cubs 355 353 CAMDEN YARDS 60201-4370 or email to: letters@baseballdigest.com

8 September/October 2017
WARMUP TOSSES By Bob Kuenster

WHO WILL CLOSE


OUT 2017 AS WORLD
SERIES CHAMPS?
he most predictable thing about Major League the things we see players do every day. I can say our guys put

T Baseball is its unpredictability, especially as the calen-


dar turns to October.
Decades ago, when September was winding down, the
in a lot of work... They have a lot of talent, but they work to
get better, make the right plays and win ballgames every day.
“Right now, I like how we’re playing. Our starting pitching
pennant races were usually between two or three teams in is good and our bullpen, outside a couple of hiccups, has
each league. Now, with expansion seeding the majors with been strong,” Maddon continued. “But to win on a consis-
30 teams, six divisions and four wild-card invitations, the tent level, you need everything going for you from pitching
excitement has escalated to several clubs battling for a play- and hitting to defense and baserunning.”
off spot in both leagues.
So, what does it take for a major-league team in a heated BASERUNNING
race, in the final days of September, to earn a playoff spot “I’ve always wanted our guys to know that good baserun-
and advance in October? ning wins one-run games, good baserunning wins champi-
“What we’re looking for is playing good baseball on all onships,” said Maddon. “You don’t have to get the hit; the
levels... good defense, pitching, baserunning and hitting,” ball can be hit or you could advance on a ball in the dirt.
said Joe Maddon, manager of the defending World Series Good baserunning skills are so valuable, I’ve always been on
champion Cubs, who struggled with consistency most of the that page and I think it’s under-coached.
first half of the 2017 campaign. “I don’t know whether there’s a ton of good baserunning
It may sound simple and the players at the major-league coaches out there, quite frankly, but some organizations
level certainly make the game look easy, but there is more to it believe in it more than others. A couple of years ago, when I
than making a defensive play, delivering the right pitch, col- got into the sabermetrical component of not making outs on
lecting a key hit or getting a good read to take an extra base. the bases and homers and station-to-station kind of philos-
“This game is hard,” said Maddon, “it’s not that easy to do

 BASERUNNING
KENLEY
JANSEN

 HITTING
 PITCHING
 DEFENSE
With a healthy Kenley Jansen, the backend
of the Dodgers bullpen could be the club’s
ace in the hole this postseason.
SportPics

September/October 2017 9
WARMUP TOSSES

ophy, I was really bummed out because I didn’t like that at PITCHING
all. When you’re preparing against a team that won’t do any- Through the first 105 games this season, the Dodgers won
thing on the bases and have no good baserunners, it’s so 74 with an improved offensive attack—especially against
much easier to prep, especially from a pitcher’s perspective. left-handed pitchers—and with solid defensive play and out-
You don’t even worry about the runners because all your standing pitching.
focus is on home plate. Los Angeles was in prime position to capture its first N.L.
“We don’t have great team speed, but overall we run the pennant since 1988 with a well-balanced team that arguably
bases pretty well. You don’t have to be fast to be a good has the game’s best starting pitcher (Clayton Kershaw) and
baserunner. Give me a team that hustles on every play, and best closer (Kenley Jansen) on its roster.
I’ll show you a team that will steal some runs. I like runners But with recurring back ailments sending Kershaw to the
to be aggressive and smart on the bases, because it’s impor- disabled list in late July, the Dodgers will rely on other
tant to winning one-run games.” starters to step up their game.
“In today’s playoff format, teams need
MAX
HITTING three solid starters and a deep bullpen,”
SCHERZER
Having a fundamentally sound said Dodgers pitching coach Rick
baserunning team that is aggressive and Honeycutt. “The bullpen is only as
helps create runs makes a team’s offense strong as your starters are. Our starters
a more dangerous weapon when com- have been very consistent, led by
bined with an all-around hitting attack. Kershaw, who before his injury was
“We’re getting contributions from every unbelievable, and our other guys have
player,” said Houston manager A.J. gone about their job, going 5-6
Hinch, whose club was leading the majors innings—and that allows the bullpen to
in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, batting have more flexibility.
average, on-base percentage and slugging “The bullpen is going to be relied
percentage through the end of July. upon for a lot of key outs for sure,”

Photos by SportPics
“Our lineup has been productive from Honeycutt continued. “Our guys have
top to bottom this year. Springer is having been extremely good. We have a lot of
an unbelievable season from the leadoff depth and we have that back end
spot, scoring runs, driving in runs and anchored by Kenley. And that solidifies
hitting homers. He ignites our offense not only the pitching staff but the
and our ability to generate runs has been GEORGE team, knowing you have a guy who can
a huge part of our success. We have confi- SPRINGER come in and secure a victory late in
dence in every player on our roster to close games.”
contribute. And when you have that, “We have five quality starters,” said
you’re going to win a lot of ballgames.” Maddon, “a deep bullpen and a go-to
Colorado manager Bud Black had sim- guy in Wade Davis to close games out.
ilar sentiments about the Rockies, who We expect our pitchers to put in a lot of
have been one of the top MLB teams in innings and get big outs. Getting to the
2017. “We’ve been fortunate to be playing playoffs is tough, man, and when you
well all season and have a lineup that get there, it doesn’t get any easier to win
generates a lot of runs. Not only has our a series, so you have to have reliable
pitching been outstanding, but our pitching to advance.”
defense is strong and our hitters are The key to postseason success for
relentless—and that winning attitude many clubs is having a rotation to get
keeps us in every ballgame.” the ball to a versatile bullpen that can
After the Cubs struggled offensively finish games. The Cubs, Dodgers and
prior to the All-Star break, Maddon several other contending teams are well
looked for his hitters to generate the consistency that equipped for playoff baseball with quality relievers.
Houston and Colorado have maintained. The Yankees have Dellin Bettances and Aroldis Chapman,
“I’ve already seen a better offensive approach—getting on the Indians are stacked with Bryan Shaw, Andrew Miller and
base, scoring runs with singles and getting doubles to right Cody Allen. The Astros can call on Chris Devenski and Ken
center. I’ll take that,” Maddon said. “You can never score Giles, the Red Sox boast a formidable tandem in Joe Kelly
enough runs, and using the whole field is what I’m looking at. and Craig Kimbrel, and the Rockies have Chris Rusin and
That’s what we’re trying to achieve offensively and we have to Greg Holland.
play that way—use the whole field. We just can’t go with pull “I’m sure a lot of people looked at us as a team that was
hitters on the left side and pull hitters on the right because just hot at the time,” Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado
teams become easy to pitch to under those circumstances. said in June. “But I think we’re showing people we can play,
“So, it’s a combination of having a good approach at the and we can play with anybody. We’re pitching well and our
plate and hitters using the whole field, spraying the ball all pitchers are giving us a chance to win ballgames. And to have
over… that’s going to be the key to our success.” a guy like Holland to lock down games, it feels really good.”

10 September/October 2017
MOOKIE ANTHONY
BETTS RIZZO

Boston also had a good with solid defensive work, it


feeling during the summer benefits the offense by not
months. The Red Sox rotated having to come from behind
a solid starting corps featur- to squeak out a victory.
ing Chris Sale, David Price, Good defense instills confi-
Drew Pomeranz and Rick dence in a team’s pitching

Photos by SportPics
Porcello. Not many teams are and hitting, while helping
as deep as the Red Sox in create a winning attitude.
starting pitching, and their Maddon stressed that
trump card, closer Kimbrel, with t-shirts that read “D-
has been phenomenal in locking down victories. peat,” which he handed out to players in the spring.
There are many components that need to come together
DEFENSE for a team to sustain tremendous consistency throughout the
Good pitching and defense feed off each other. When a 162-game regular season and win a least 11 more matchups (12
club has solid pitching, the defense plays at its best. And for a wild-card team) to capture a World Series title.
when a defense makes spectacular plays to keep runners off Former White Sox slugger Paul Konerko had this to say fol-
base, pitching can look unbeatable. lowing the 2005 postseason, when he helped lead Chicago to
“You can’t win without good defense,” said Maddon. an 11-1 October record to capture the World Series title:
“Defense wins championships. We expect the routine plays to “We’re different from a lot of teams that win the World
be made, and we’ve done that. When outstanding plays are Series. We’ve got a bunch of low-key guys. We’re not a team
made, it totally deflates the other side—it’s almost like hitting that was a lock to win. We could start the playoffs tomorrow,
a home run, regarding the energy it creates in your dugout. and get knocked off in three games because we aren’t some
“We feed off our defense. When we make a play, the whole unbelievably great team. We’re just a team that played our
bench goes nuts. We’re noted to have a really good offensive best baseball when we had to.”
ballclub, but I’m more enamored with our defensive side of So, for team’s entering the playoff grind, it’s worth remem-
the game.” bering that the most important ingredient to winning is
The old adage “the best offense is a good defense” is accu- team unison, based on the principle that the sum is greater
rate. When a team can prevent an opponent from scoring than its individual parts. BD

September/October 2017 11
After Giants manager
Dusty Baker fell one win short
of a World Series title in 2002,
club managment did not
renew his contract.

Steve Moore
DUSTY
BAKER

Managers
Who Paid
the Price for
World Series
RON
WASHINGTON
SportPics
Failure
Despite success during
a long pennant-winning
season, falling short
in the championship bout
can be costly
12 September/October 2017
By Bruce Levine and Joel Bierig

ntil last season, the Chicago Cubs hadn’t won a lying on his bed with a pillow over his head. “Slow...

U World Series in 108 years. But guess what? In this


age of social media, criticism of their manager's
moves in the Series may go on longer than the Cubs went
things... down,” he reminds himself.
“I do believe,” Maddon will tell you, “that whatever you
want to focus on in the morning you can manifest in the
between titles. course of the day—whether it’s being calm or courageous.”
This star-crossed franchise ended the longest champi- That’s what got him through his move in the fall of 2014
onship drought in sports. Yet, for everyone who wanted to from small-market Tampa Bay to a historic franchise that
buy Joe Maddon a steak, there seemed someone who hadn’t won a World Series since 1908. Exhaling before his
wanted him tied to a stake. introductory press conference, he remembered to invoke
Imagine if the Cubs had lost. Would Maddon have been perhaps his favorite slogan: “Don’t ever let the pressure
cooked well done or just medium rare? exceed the pleasure.”
The World Series may be baseball’s Promised Land, but And that’s what got him through the World Series—as
the mere act of getting there rarely soothes the savage beast well as the second-guessing that followed the Cubs’
known as the public. Nor, for that matter, does it quench the exhausting 8-7, 10-inning victory in Game 7.
competitive thirst of the participants. Never mind how “In the moment, you might ask yourself, ‘What did they
unlikely the trip might have seemed on Opening Day. see that I didn’t see?’” Maddon said of the critics. “But the
Losing on the sport’s greatest stage may not cost a man- farther I’ve gotten away from it, the more I feel strongly
ager his livelihood, as it did New York Yankees skippers about what I did do as being the right way to do it. And I
Casey Stengel and Yogi Berra in the 1960s. But oh, what a think it’s one of those things where as the years pass by,
job it does on his psyche. the negative dialogue lessens and maybe the more posi-
“It was horrible,” said Kansas City manager Ned Yost, tive components ascend.”
describing how he felt after his Royals lost the 2014 World Had the Indians lost to any other team but the Cubs—
Series to Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants whose championship seemed to generate worldwide cele-
in seven games. “I went home, went on my farm and locked bration—Francona might have faced more heat for not
the gate. I kept thinking in a week or two it will get better,
and it didn’t get better. I’m thinking maybe in a month it Mike Hargrove
will get better, and it didn’t get better. It never got better.” managed the
Well, not for a year, at least. Yost, it turned out, guided Indians to five
his team to a World Series championship in 2015—mark- consecutive
division titles
ing the first time in 26 years that a team had won a World and averaged 94
Series the year after losing one. wins per year
In 2014, however, Yost found little solace in having led from 1995-1999,
the Royals to their first World Series in 29 years. But for but was fired
before the 2000
the grace of the baseball gods, defeat in the postseason season.
classic can leave a manager feeling as if he’s visited the
Land of No Return.
Before the Royals went back to the World Series in 2015
and beat the New York Mets, four games to one, the 1989
Oakland A’s had been the last team to win a year after los-
ing. Given the rarity of that occurrence, what if deciding
Game 7 of the 2016 World Series had gone to Terry
Francona’s Cleveland Indians rather than Maddon’s Cubs?
Would Maddon have been toasted—or roasted—for
merely providing the team’s first World Series appearance
since 1945? Would he have been cheered or jeered for rally-
ing the Cubs from a 3-games-to-1 Series deficit and carry-
ing them to the threshold of victory—only to fall short in
the decisive game, which the Cubs led 5-1 after 4.2 innings?
Would reaching the World Series—in the fifth year of
architect Theo Epstein’s rebuild—have been seen as a part
of a steady progression that began with an NLCS appear-
ance in 2015? Or would another round of “Wait till next
year” have pushed Cubs fans over the edge?
Maddon, 63, is a positive thinker who looks forward, not
back. So, as simplistic as it sounds, maybe the Cubs pre-
vailed because—in the heat of the moment, regardless of
what anyone thought of his strategies—Maddon was
focused on winning, not losing. MIKE
HARGROVE
Steve Moore

For the better part of a decade, Maddon has practiced


modern techniques of Transcendental Meditation. He
tries to spend 20 minutes each morning in contemplation,
September/October 2017 13
WILL DUSTY BARRY
CLARK BAKER BONDS
Steve Moore

During his managerial career in San Francisco, Dusty Baker posted a .540 winning percentage and led Giants to three postseason appearances.

delivering Cleveland’s first title since 1948. Now that the “In Atlanta there’s one writer who points to our one World
onus is off the Cubs, the Indians’ 68-year famine is the Series and calls us losers. These are people who don’t
longest in the majors. understand baseball who call you a loser if you don’t win
Francona, though, is anything but a loser. He was the World Series. From our standpoint, we’ve won more
Epstein’s manager when the Boston Red Sox ended an 86- games than any team in baseball over that period, been to
year World Series title famine in 2004. And he managed the World Series (five times), won one of them. We kind of
the Bosox to another championship under Epstein in 2007. think we’ve been successful.”
That did not, however, make the 2016 outcome any eas- Cox’ first World Series appearance—in 1991—ended in
ier to swallow. Francona couldn’t bring himself to watch defeat, yet it was quite a ride for a team that had finished
replays of Game 7. last the previous season. The Braves succumbed to the
“I don’t spend a lot of time on what has already hap- Minnesota Twins, another worst-to-first team, in arguably
pened,” he said. “It doesn’t do any good. I had my hip the best Game 7 in Series history—a 10-inning, 1-0 loss in
replaced a few days after, so there were probably four or which the Twins’ Jack Morris pitched a complete game.
five days where I was on the pain meds and thought we “We played in five World Series, and I thought we could
won. I was waiting for the parade.” have won (a few) of them,” Cox said of teams that includ-
On a serious note, he said, “I didn’t have huge disap- ed Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John
pointment. I think pride won out for me.” Smoltz (Chipper Jones, a likely 2018 inductee, was part of
In Francona’s position, would Maddon have been able to the last three.) “In fact, I thought we played better in two
say the same? or three of them than we did when we won in ’95. It just
The Cubs, in their quest to build a solid franchise under didn’t go the way we wanted it to go.”
Epstein and staff, admire the Atlanta Braves, who made 14 Still, getting to the World Series and losing isn’t worth
consecutive postseason appearances beginning in 1991. much if Charlie Dressen is used as a measuring stick. The
Despite capturing only one World Series championship in Brooklyn Dodgers manager overplayed his hand after con-
five tries over that period, the Braves established them- secutive losing appearances against the Yankees in 1952
selves as an exemplary organization. General manager and 1953. Those failures had been preceded by a painful
John Schuerholz has followed manager Bobby Cox into the defeat against the New York Giants—on Bobby Thomson’s
Hall of Fame, where Cox—who spent 25 of his 29 manager- “Shot Heard ’Round the World”—in a playoff for the 1951
ial seasons in Atlanta—ranks fourth all-time in victories N.L. championship. Interestingly, Dressen managed to
behind Connie Mack, John McGraw and Tony La Russa. keep his job after that disappointment, which came after
Based on the difference in markets, it’s questionable the Dodgers held a 13-and-a-half game lead on Aug. 11.
whether Cubs fans have the demeanor to patiently After the ’53 Series (and a franchise-record 105 regular-sea-
embrace the Atlanta model. Schuerholz once remarked, son victories), Dressen sought a multi-year contract instead

14 September/October 2017
of the standard one-year deal that the Dodgers gave their next-to-last in 2002 to within five outs of the 2003 World
managers. Owner Walter O’Malley basically told Dressen to Series. “In Dusty We Trusty,” the slogan went—at least
take a hike, and the Dodgers tapped Walter Alston, their until the 2003 NLCS collapse against the Florida Marlins.
Triple-A manager, to replace him. Alston wound up signing The focus quickly shifted from the Cubs’ amazing rise to
23 consecutive one-year contracts and winning four of seven their inglorious fall. Thereafter, negativity prevailed, and
World Series appearances on his way to the Hall of Fame. it was all downhill for Baker. He failed to reach the post-
Still wondering how Maddon would have fared had he season in the final three years of his Cubs tenure and was
lost the Series? First, consider history. Dusty Baker, in his let go after a last-place finish in 2006.
first year as Cubs manager, led a team that had finished Ironically, being on the losing side of the 2002 World

Maddon Craves His Duties as Manager


Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I’m sixty-four.
—The Beatles

SportPics
f Joe Maddon—a young 63—can survive seven more years as a

I big-league skipper, someone might just tell him he’s too old to manage.
That’s what the Yankees intimated to 70-year-old Casey Stengel after he
lost the 1960 World Series on a walk-off home run by Pittsburgh’s Bill until I was 51. So I spent a lot of time learning different things and watching
Mazeroski. other people either succeed or fail. I have a lot of experience to draw from
“I’ll never make the mistake of turning 70 again,” said Stengel, who had when things aren’t going well.”
guided the Yanks to 10 pennants and seven World Series titles in 12 years. Nevertheless, Maddon was surprised—at least initially—by the amount of
Little these days shocks Maddon, whose moves were sliced and diced criticism he received for his moves after winning the World Series.
even though he achieved the feat of the century—guiding the Cubs to their “I really was, and I think a lot of the narrative was generated by media, by
first World Series title in 108 years. guys on TV saying something or guys on the radio saying something—and then
On the surface, he seems to take it all in stride. all of a sudden, fans repeating what they’d heard,” Maddon said. “I’m actually
“The job I have here is probably the best in baseball, but everybody, and amused by some of the negative stuff that’s thrown out there. I don’t absorb it. I
not just the managers, is scrutinized in much don’t take it home. I take it for what it is. It’s very
greater detail today by so many more people and JOE
superficial. A lot of times it is nonsense. So, a lot of
different methods,” Maddon said. “There is a lot MADDON it I’m really easily able to toss aside.”
more platform to be critical than there was when Maddon’s patience and composure never cease
it was just newspapers, very little TV and really to amaze 2016 World Series MVP Ben Zobrist, who
no sports shows and not much talk radio. has spent 11 seasons playing for him.
“But it’s OK. It’s part of the entertainment “To be honest, I don’t know what it felt like for
industry. In and outside of sports, the negative Joe to be asked all those questions,” Zobrist said.
component sells a lot more than the positive “But he’s always confident in his decisions.
component. A lot of that drives sales and adver- Sometimes it works out and sometimes it does-
tising, I think. So if you’re going to be in the n’t, but he can live with that because he prepares
position of being a manager, you’ve got to expect and has a reason for doing what he does. And
that stuff.” he’s been around the game long enough to have
If modern managers face more stress, they confidence in his abilities and processes.”
also are better compensated. Before the 2015 Zobrist shook his head.
season, Maddon left the Tampa Bay Rays to sign “Did anyone know who Joe Maddon was 20
a five-year, $25-million contract with the Cubs. years ago? No,” Zobrist said. “But he has re-
They were coming off three years of rebuilding spected the game, he’s been in it long enough,
under president of baseball operations Theo and he’s done just about every job that there is to
Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer— do (so) that he’s garnered the respect of the
averaging 95 losses per season. game itself and everybody that’s in it.”
SportPics

Maddon’s 2015 team made it to the National How Maddon might have reacted to losing the
League Championship Series before his 2016 World Series is pure speculation, even for the
squad achieved the ultimate. The World Series manager himself.
championship triggered an escalator clause in his Part of Joe Maddon’s success as a big-league “The one thing I tell myself, particularly through
contract. It boosted his $5-million annual salary manager is his “stay in the positive” attitude that helps bad moments, is that I need to be consistent when
to $6 million for the final three years of his deal. keep the players on his team focused on winning. I walk in the door,” Maddon said. “In good or bad,
That tied him with the Angels' Mike Scioscia and they need to see the same guy they saw yesterday.
the Giants' Bruce Bochy for the highest managerial salary in the majors. On a daily basis during the season, I believe in ‘win hard for 30 minutes’ and
The Cubs manager finds it fascinating that Hall of Famer Walter Alston— ‘lose hard for 30 minutes.’ I’ve seen groups that lose hard for 72 hours and all
who led the Dodgers to seven pennants and four World Series champi- of a sudden lose three games in a row because of it. I’ve never understood that
onships from 1954-1976—signed 23 consecutive one-year contracts. method. Being in the big leagues is something we’ve all wanted to do since we
“Alston was in a good position with the Dodgers because they had such were kids. Why carry negativity or bad vibes into a ballpark on a daily basis?”
a great farm system,” Maddon said. “They had good teams on a consistent Will Maddon be too old at 70?
basis that probably permitted him to take one-year contracts knowing they “Perhaps what the job entails today does lead to a shorter shelf life,”
were going to be pretty good again. Maddon said. “But I would think as long as you crave it like I crave it now,
“And while I wasn’t there, I don’t think the scrutiny was nearly as you continue to do it. Of course, it’s incumbent on me to take care of myself
intense. His job on a daily basis didn’t require everything that is required of a physically and mentally, and how I go about my life to even think of managing
manager today, and I don’t mean that to be disparaging in any way. But today until I’m 70 years of age. And a lot of it depends on your willingness to put
it’s different from the minute you arrive at the ballpark than even when I up with the noise that comes with the job. I think the moment it starts
started (as a major-league coach) with the Angels more than 20 years ago.” impacting you to where you feel it and start reacting to it and feel like you
How does Maddon cope? might have to lash back, then you might want to consider getting out.”
“I’m fortunate,” he said. “I didn’t get my first job as a (big-league) manager —by Bruce Levine and Joel Bierig

September/October 2017 15
Series was what had made Baker available to the Cubs. that was only 11 years old. And in capturing the A.L. East
Had his Giants held off the Angels to win the first and only with 97 victories, the Rays had soared from worst to first,
championship of Baker’s career, Peter Magowan, then the showing 31-game improvement over 2007.
team’s managing general partner, might have felt pressure But Chicago was a different animal; the Cubs had been
to re-sign him—despite their strained relationship. cursed over the years by the likes of billy goats, black cats and
The Giants held a 5-0 lead with eight outs remaining in Bartmans. And, had the Cubs lost the 2016 Series, the ques-
what would have been a clinching Game 6. tionable nature of Maddon’s moves might
They were on the brink of their first World have made him the franchise’s next goat.
Series title since moving to the West Coast One critic, former Cubs pitcher and cur-
from New York in 1958. Instead, they ended rent Giants analyst Mike Krukow, went so
up losing 6-5 and dropped a 4-1 decision— far as to describe Maddon’s “overmanaging"
and the Series—the following night. as “arrogant,” adding: “He was trying to put
The Game 6 roof caved in on the Giants his signature on what was going to happen.”
after Baker removed starting pitcher Russ As it was, Maddon endured surprising
Ortiz with one out and two men on in the heat from long-suffering fans for the stress
seventh. Baker clearly had not anticipat- he put them through before the Cubs sal-
ed disaster. He had handed the ball to vaged their one-run, extra-inning victory
Ortiz, in the manner of a keepsake, as the in the World Series clincher. Among the

SportPics
pitcher left the mound. bones of contention were his “overuse” of
Maddon took part in that Series as bench NED YOST closer Aroldis Chapman in the final three
coach for Angels manager Mike Scioscia. games (97 pitches, 5.1 innings) and his
Little did he know that 14 years later he would be on the decision to lift Game 7 starter Kyle Hendricks with a 5-1 lead
World Series hot seat himself. after two outs in the fifth inning.
The 30-year Angels organization man still led a Maddon said his plan all along had been to use Hendricks
charmed life in 2008, when he directed the Tampa Bay for five innings, followed by starting ace Jon Lester and
Rays to the World Series in his third year as a big-league Chapman for two each. But after Hendricks issued a two-out
manager. There was little wailing or gnashing of teeth walk in the fifth, Maddon got itchy and went to the lefty
after the Philadelphia Phillies knocked off the Rays in five Lester to counter Jason Kipnis. Maddon didn’t want to
games. It was, after all, the maiden postseason voyage for regret leaving Hendricks in to possibly allow a two-run
a small-market, budget-strapped Tampa Bay franchise homer to the dangerous left-handed hitter. As it was,

Ned Yost managed through many lows and highs in Kansas City, but stayed the course to lead the Royals to a World Series title in 2015.

JAMES “I felt like a guy who went out


SHIELDS on a date and got dumped by
his girl. Heartbroken. What am I
“There going to do next? I stayed in my
are always bed. I couldn’t move.” —Jarrod Dyson
skeptics
who question JARROD
the moves DYSON
you make
no matter
what.”
—James Shields
Photos by SportPics

16 September/October 2017
Cleveland scored two runs before the new battery of Lester three as a Yankees player and one as their manager. He
and David Ross settled in and ended the inning. guided them to a championship in 2009, his second year
Then, with the Cubs leading 6-3 with two out and a run- as skipper. Now in his 10th season, he still is waiting for a
ner on first in the eighth, Maddon summoned a fatigued return trip to the World Series. Four other postseason jour-
Chapman. Brandon Guyer greeted him with an RBI dou- neys have come up short of the Fall Classic.
ble, and Rajai Davis followed with a tying two-run homer. “There’s an expectation that you’ll always repeat, even
Only after a dramatic 10th inning, in which the Cubs though you could have a totally different club the next
outscored Cleveland 2-1, was Maddon off the hook. year,” Girardi said. “And your players want to repeat. But
“I’m usually a process-based person, not outcome- sometimes people forget how hard it is. I think during the
based,” said Epstein, the Cubs’ president of baseball oper- course of the season how many things need to go right.
ations. “But when you win the World Series, I love being And it’s magnified during a short series.”
outcome-based.” Pitcher James Shields twice has witnessed the pressure
“I think there’s a zero-percent chance we win 200 games managers face in a losing World Series effort—first while
over two years and win the World Series without Joe,” pitching for Maddon in Tampa Bay in 2008 and later with
added general manager Jed Hoyer. Yost’s Royals in 2014.
Maddon also refuses to consider what-might-have-beens. “There are always skeptics who question the moves you
“The only reality I know is that we won,” he said. “If you had make no matter what,” said Shields, who accounted for
done something differently, would it have turned out bet- Tampa Bay’s only victory in the 2008 Series. “At the end of
ter? But better than winning, I don’t know what that is.” the day, it doesn’t matter, because Joe Maddon’s got a ring
As Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, “They won. That’s on his finger and he helped break the Cubs’ curse.”
the bottom line. So obviously he did something right. But Based on the philosophy that all’s well that ends well,
it’s a job that we all love, and you’ve got to be able to shut Maddon could begin mapping the next mission—trying to
those things out.” make the Cubs the first repeat World Series champion since
Maddon offers no argument. “You accept all the differ- the Yankees won three consecutive titles from 1998-2000.
ent caveats attached to it when you accept the job,” he The task seemed a lot easier when World Series cham-
acknowledged. pagne clouded the Cubs’ locker-room goggles. Once the
Girardi, for his part, is perfect in four World Series— euphoria evaporated and the business of 2017 began, the

Losing Title Can Be Difficult to Handle


arv Levy’s wife once mentioned that the NFL coach es slept in their offices after dissecting film. Like Levy, he

M sometimes would roll over in bed and punch the


mattress. In general, she described him as a joyful
man who sang while shaving. But his occasional grumpi-
refused to let the outcomes of games shorten his life.
“We got paid. We won. We came back and we won
again and again,” Grant said. “But you have to remember
ness over little things—such as missing a turn or getting one thing. Football is entertainment; it’s not life and death.
caught in traffic—made her wonder if he was happy in their Once the game is over, you’re already talking about next
marriage. year and the draft. It’s just entertainment. It’s like going to
“Did you ever think I might be frustrated over the loss a play: When it’s over, you walk out the door and it’s over.
of the last four Super Bowls?” Levy replied. There are no residuals to it. You’ve got to start all over
Levy is one of three NFL coaches who went 0-4 in again.”
Super Bowls. But unlike Bud Grant and Dan Reeves, he Levy was asked before his fourth Super Bowl appear-
lost four in succession—all with the Buffalo Bills—from ance if the game was a “must-win.”
1991-94. “This is not a must-win,” the U.S. Army Air Force vet-
That’s just one reason why Levy, a Chicago native and eran replied stoically. “World War II was a must-win.”
Cubs fan, truly savored his team’s 2016 World Series title, He and Grant both are in the Hall of Fame, but Reeves
which broke the franchise’s 108-year championship isn’t—even though Reeves is eighth all-time in victories
SportPics

drought. Few knew better than Levy the pressure facing with 190. Grant (158) and Levy (143) are 17th and 21st,
MARV LEVY Cubs manager Joe Maddon. respectively.
“I don’t know him personally, but I really have been Reeves coached in three Super Bowls with the Denver
impressed with the way he handled the situation, the way Broncos before making another appearance, in 1999, with
the Cubs reacted to the adversity they faced,” said Levy, the Atlanta Falcons, who lost to the Broncos.
now 92. “He’s what every coach/manager should be.” “Getting there is great,” Reeves, now 73, once said.
In every respect, few grasped the gravity of the moment “But one of the most difficult things and hardest things to
better than Levy. In 1945, he attended the decisive seventh handle is losing that game. You go there knowing you’ve
game of the Cubs’ previous World Series appearance, got only one task, and that’s winning.
against the Detroit Tigers. He’d been on furlough from the “Very few people can tell you who the losing Super Bowl
armed services after the end of World War II. team was three years ago. They can tell you who won it, but
If it’s true that winning isn’t everything—it’s the only they have a tough time remembering who lost. After a
thing—what does it mean to reach a Super Bowl and lose? while, you fall into that category. There are (30) other
It can hurt just as much as losing the World Series—if teams wishing they were where you are, but nobody con-
you let it. siders them losers. That’s just the way it is. It’s always been
Grant took the Minnesota Vikings to Super Bowls in that way, and it’s not going to change.”
1970, ’74, ’75 and ’77, but lost each time. Levy’s wife said she sometimes got angry that his players
“If winning or losing is going to determine your life, didn’t win a Super Bowl for him. As she said of her husband
SportPics

you’re on a rough road,” Grant, now 90, said last year. in a magazine story after the fourth loss: “He’s such a good
BUD GRANT To his credit, Grant never took himself too seriously. He guy. I don’t know how he can be. But God bless him.”
was home eating dinner with his family while other coach- —by Bruce Levine and Joel Bierig

18 September/October 2017
Cubs’ youthful hitting nucleus was exposed as still devel- like I had the answer beforehand.”
oping. World Series hero Kyle Schwarber struggled below Depending on the circumstances, losing the Fall Classic
.200 as a replacement for departed leadoff man Dexter can cast the dugout boss as fall guy. Literally. Jim Frey
Fowler. He eventually had to work out his issues at Triple- managed the Royals to the World Series in 1980, his first
A Iowa. And a pitching rotation that led the majors in 2016 season as a big-league manager, but was fired in midsea-
suddenly reflected age and wear, if not the effects of an son the following year. Would Frey have had more job
apparently livelier baseball. Consequently, the Cubs were security if the Royals hadn’t lost the Series in six games to
scuffling to be better than a .500 team—their fortune Dallas Green’s Phillies?
being that a weak N.L. Central still seemed winnable. Frey, who replaced Whitey Herzog as Kansas City’s man-
Even so, the pressure on Maddon paled next to what he ager, had led the Royals to a 3-0 sweep of the Yankees in
might have faced had he dropped the epic seventh game of what was then the best-of-five ALCS. Herzog’s team had
the World Series. On the other hand, would losing have made lost to the Yanks in the LCS three years in a row (1976-78),
this 2017 team more resolute, determined to continue a grad- prompting his dismissal after the '79 season.
ual climb that began with the NLCS appearance in 2015? Regardless, when the Royals stumbled during the strike-
“It’s such a heartbreak for the players because you real- interrupted 1981 season, general manager Joe Burke fired
ize how much time you’ve put into Frey, who previously had spent 10
it, all the games you’ve played, and YOGI BERRA years coaching for Earl Weaver in
then you have to start over from Baltimore. Despite praising Frey’s
Square One,” the Yankees’ Girardi work ethic, Burke called the hiring
said. “But it can be a real motivat- “a mistake” and added: “He was the
ing factor for the players to get type of manager the players here
there and have a taste of it and then just didn’t respond to. I don’t think
lose, because getting a taste of it is they were responding to him last
special. You don’t realize how great year, either, but it wasn’t evident
it is until you actually get there.” because all the players were having
That seemed the case with Yost’s such remarkable seasons.”
Royals. In 2014, they made the play- Frey had, however, made a posi-
offs as a wild-card team and streaked tive impression on Green. Before
to an 8-0 postseason record to reach the 1984 season, Green, who had
the World Series. In Game 7, they left become the Cubs’ GM, named Frey
the tying run on third base against to manage his club.
Bumgarner, who pitched five shutout Throughout history, harsh treat-
relief innings on two days’ rest. ment of a World Series manager
David Durochik/SportPics

Royals first baseman Eric has not been uncommon. After the
Hosmer needed several days to 1964 Series, a first-year Yankees
muster the energy to book a flight manager named Berra was re-
home. Outfielder Jarrod Dyson placed by Johnny Keane, whose St.
couldn’t get out of bed. Louis Cardinals had toppled the
“I felt like a guy who went out on a Yankees in seven games.
date and got dumped by his girl,” said Dyson, now with the Keane—feeling unappreciated by Cardinals owner Gussie
Seattle Mariners. “Heartbroken. What am I going to do next? I Busch, who reportedly had been courting Leo Durocher to
stayed in my bed. I couldn’t move.” replace him—actually had drafted his resignation letter
Shouldn’t Yost have felt like a hero after going to the before the end of the regular season. But he waited until
Series with a team that had averaged 92 losses per season after the World Series, just before a news conference at
in 2010-12—his first three years at the helm? which the Cardinals planned to give him a contract exten-
Shields, now with the Chicago White Sox, will never for- sion, to deliver the envelope to Busch. Three days after
get the story that Yost told at the press conference intro- Keane’s resignation, the Yankees hired him.
ducing Shields and Wade Davis after their arrival in a A midseason bus incident involving Phil Linz, a har-
December 2012 trade with Tampa Bay. The manager con- monica-playing infielder, had fueled Yankees manage-
fessed that he would use the name “Frank” when ordering ment’s perception that Berra lacked control of his players.
coffee at Starbucks. General manager Ralph Houk insisted the decision to
“I didn’t want them staring at me—‘Drink for Ned!’— remove Berra, then 39, had been made before the World
after losing 90 games a year,” Yost said. Series. In reality, however, the instrument of Berra’s
Shields, who lost to Bumgarner in both his starts during destruction was more likely the World Series loss than
the 2014 Series, wasn’t around for the Royals’ 2015 World Linz’ noisy harmonica.
Series title—having signed a big free-agent contract with “They asked me to take (the job) for a year and see if I
San Diego. liked it. Sometimes I did, and sometimes I didn’t,” Berra
But in 2015, rather than slipping in as a wild card, the said in typically Yogi-esque fashion.
Royals won their division by 12 games. Nor was it a plum job for Keane, who inherited a team in
“I saw our players come into spring training with the decline. His 1965 squad suffered the Yankees’ first losing sea-
same determined attitude,” Yost said. “They were con- son in 40 years, and he was fired 20 games into the ’66 season.
vinced it was going to be our year. So, for me, it was just In 1960, the Yankees’ brain trust had used a seven-game
September/October 2017 19
Series loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates—on Bill Mazeroski’s back Series teams, admires the resiliency Washington
famous walk-off home run—to make the point that a 70- showed in managing through those disappointments.
year-old Stengel was too old to manage. It didn’t matter “Going through the ups, he did a good job of keeping us
that Stengel had won 10 pennants in 12 seasons, including feeling that way, and when we were down, he never let it
seven World Series. School was out for “The Old take us down,” said Holland, now with the White Sox. “I’m
Perfessor,” who, after a one-year hiatus, began a new sure from a manager’s standpoint it’s frustrating. You
tenure across town with the expansion Mets. work so hard and try so hard to get there and then don’t get
Berra, after his own firing by the Yankees, joined the results you want. You can send your guys out there, but
Stengel’s Mets as a coach. Yogi wound up spending seven you can’t always control the way they perform or what you
years as a big-league manager—taking over the Mets in run into from the opposition.
1972 and later returning to the Yankees. In 1973, he steered “In terms of how people look at managers, it’s always
a Mets team that was in last place as late as Aug. 30 (“It ain’t about what’s going on now. But at the same time (hopeful-
over till it’s over,” Berra said famously) to the World Series. ly) they’re always going to look at his accomplishments
The Mets lost in seven games to an Oakland dynasty that and the great things he did for the organization. You can
captured the second of three consecutive Series titles. never take that away from him.”
At least Berra could look back on 1964 and say he wasn’t Still, in their 56-year history (the first 11 as the
“one-and-done” as a World Series Washington Senators, the next 45
manager. The only World Series in in Texas), the Rangers have yet to
John McNamara’s 19-year manage- MIKE win a World Series title. Their
HARGROVE
rial career resulted in a storied 1986 drought is the second longest,
collapse by his Red Sox against the behind Cleveland’s.
Mets. On the verge of its first cham- Mike Hargrove, the second-win-
pionship in 68 years, Boston blew ningest manager in Cleveland his-
Game 6, which is remembered tory behind Lou Boudreau, ulti-
mostly for Mookie Wilson’s deci- mately paid the price for losing his
sive 10th-inning groundball only two World Series appear-
through Red Sox first baseman Bill ances—in 1995 to the Braves and in
Buckner’s legs. The Mets also went 1997 to the Marlins. He was fired in
on to take Game 7 and the Series. 1999 when—after winning 97
Criticism has died down in the games in the regular season—his
wake of Red Sox World Series titles Indians blew a 2-0 series lead to
in 2004, 2007 and 2013. Even so, Boston in the best-of-five ALDS.
fans still question McNamara for Hargrove remained haunted by
leaving Buckner in the pivotal the Game 7 World Series loss to
Steve Moore

Game 6 rather than removing him Florida in ’97. Closer Jose Mesa
for defensive replacement Dave failed to protect a 2-1 ninth-inning
Stapleton. They also rue the deci- lead. And an 11th-inning error by
sion to lift starting pitcher Roger Clemens for a pinch-hit- second baseman Tony Fernandez set up the deciding run
ter in the top of the eighth (more controversy arose when in a crushing 3-2 loss.
the choice was rookie Mike Greenwell instead of veteran “I had a guy ask me that next spring training how long it
Don Baylor), as the Red Sox tried unsuccessfully to pad a took me to get over Game 7,” Hargrove, a special advisor for
3-2 lead. Whether Clemens was developing a blister and the Indians since 2011, recalled during last year’s World
needed to leave the game—something the pitcher has Series. “I told him, ‘As soon as it happens, I’ll let you know.’ I
denied—is still debated. had a guy ask me two months ago how long it took me to get
“You go on the best you can and try to put it behind you over Game 7 and the way we lost it, and I told him, ‘Well, just
and not let it kill you,” McNamara reflected 25 years later. as soon as it happens, I’ll let you know.’ It’s something you
He made that comment after watching the 2011 Texas never forget. It’s not as often anymore, but it’s still there.”
Rangers—following the tragic blueprint of his ’86 Red McNamara has been able to offer few words of wisdom,
Sox—twice come within a strike of a clinching Game 6 vic- other than those he has used to console himself.
tory. Instead, they lost that contest, as well as Game 7, to “You put it in the proper perspective, by what it means,”
the Cardinals. he said. “It wasn’t meant to be.”
It was the second year in a row the Rangers had finished Yost was more expansive.
as World Series bridesmaids. In 2010, they had fallen to the “I look at it like you’re trying to climb Mount Everest,” he
Giants. said. “It’s a long, grueling haul. Seven weeks of spring train-
“When opportunity is in your presence, you can’t let it ing, 162 games. Then you get into the playoffs and take that
get away, because sometimes it takes a while before it next step. Then you win and take that next step, and teams
comes back,” said Ron Washington, who managed those are getting knocked off and rolling all the way back to the
Texas teams and now is third-base coach for the Braves. bottom of the hill and they’ve got to start again. Then you
To their credit, the Rangers kept Washington on as their get to the point of Game 7 of the World Series, where you’re
manager before he resigned in September 2014 because of four steps from getting to the top of that mountain, and you
personal problems. get knocked all the way back to the bottom.
Pitcher Derek Holland, who played on those back-to- “All that work really comes down to nothing.” BD

20 September/October 2017
®

PROFILE By Rick Sorci

JONATHAN VILLAR
Full Name: Jonathan Rafael Villar Roque Throws: Right Bats: Both HT: 6-1
Age: 26 Born: May 2, 1991 Home: La Vega, D.R. WT: 215
in La Vega, Dominican Republic Status: Married Nickname: Gabby

Life outside baseball: I like to spend most of my time


in the offseason with my family.
Sports hero when I was young: Manny Ramirez
People who influenced me most: Definitely my parents.
When I was growing up and wanted to be a baseball player,
they always encouraged me.
Best advice anyone ever gave me: Work hard
Players, past or present, I’d pay to watch play: Manny
Ramirez, Miguel Tejada, Robinson Cano, Mike Trout
Hobbies: I don’t have any hobbies.
Type of car: Infinity
Favorite movie: I don’t have any one particular movie,
but I like scary movies.
Favorite actor: Harrison Ford
Favorite TV show: I don’t really have any favorites.
Favorite music: Dominican music, salsa
Favorite food: Chicken, beans and rice
Favorite ballparks: Miller Park (Milwaukee) and
Minute Maid Park (Houston)
True sign of success: Making it to the major leagues MANNY RAMIREZ
and signing a four-year extension Tomasso DeRosa/SportPics

Player I learned the most from: There really wasn't one player.
There were several who helped me when I came up to the major
leagues. I think that’s the case with most players when they
come up. They learn from many players and coaches.
Three favorite cities on the road: Houston, Miami and
New York
Characteristic I admire in a person: Loyalty
Favorite sports team outside baseball:
Cleveland Cavaliers
Best time of my life: Right now. Playing baseball
and being able to spend time with my children.
Biggest disappointment: I really don't have
any at this point. Life has been good.
Most important attribute a baseball
player needs: Everyone here (in the major
leagues) is good. You need to work hard
and have dedication besides talent.
If I could change one thing about
baseball: Nothing, I like the game the
way it is.
I’m most proud of: My family
Behind my back they say: I'm funny
If not a baseball player, I would have
been: A basketball player
Toughest pitcher I’ve faced: Dallas Keuchel
What will life be like after baseball:
Spend lots of time with my family. I’ll have In 2016, Villar led the major
people come over to my house and play dominoes. leagues with 62 stolen bases,
Most embarrassing baseball experience: joining Tommy Harper (1969)
and Scott Podsednik (2004)
When I was a rookie, the veterans made us wear as the only players in Brewers
funny clothes on an airplane. franchise history to lead the
My most memorable game: On Mother's Day last major leagues in steals.
year (2016), I had a homer and a double. I did it again this SportPics
year on Mother's Day. . . a home run and double. DALLAS KEUCHEL
SportPics

September/October 2017 21
GREAT
POSTSEASON
DEFENSIVE
PLAYS
IGNITE
VICTORY
Throughout MLB playoff
history, outstanding glove
work has often been crucial to
capturing a championship
By Larry Stone

roach the topic of postseason heroics, and your

B brain is likely to leap immediately to offensive


exploits. The epic World Series-clinching homers
of Bill Mazeroski and Joe Carter, certainly. Or the pennant-
winning blast of Aaron Boone, the pinch-hitting magic of
an injured Kirk Gibson, or perhaps the clutch walk-off hits
by the likes of Edgar Renteria, Luis Gonzalez, Francisco
Cabrera, Chris Chambliss and David Freese.
However, let’s save some love for the glove men who
rise to the moment just as gloriously when the stakes are
at their highest. Some of the most indelible moments in
playoff history have occurred on the defensive side of the
game, and they have had no less impact on the results.
Just think back a year ago, in fact, when Cubs infielder
Javier Baez emerged as a breakout star, and not just
because he hit .375 in the Division Series, .318 with five
RBI in the NLCS, and displayed daring dashes on the
basepaths. Baez was an absolute wizard at second base
throughout the postseason, hugely influential in the
Cubs’ ending their 108-year championship drought.
It became a routine, almost nightly event to see Baez div-
SportPics

ing, rolling, charging and sprawling en route to one brilliant


play after another. After one, in which he appeared to rob

22 September/October 2017
the Giants’ Denard Span of a hit on a ball up the middle, the
announcer spoke for everyone when he said, “That’s barely
humanly possible.” The out call was overturned upon
review, but Baez may have shined even brighter with a sen-
sational tag of Span when he tried to steal second. Perhaps
Baez’ signature play, however, was a bare-handed scoop
while charging in to nail Adrian Gonzalez trying to bunt for
a hit at a key juncture of the NLCS.
For many, it brought to mind the exploits of Orioles third
baseman Brooks Robinson in the 1970 World Series. That’s
high praise, indeed, considering that Robinson’s succes-
sion of spectacular plays to thwart the vaunted Big Red
Machine—and provide Earl Weaver with his only World
Series victory—is widely regarded as the greatest sustained
defensive performance in postseason history.
It validated Robinson’s nickname, “The Human Vacuum
Cleaner,” as well as earning him a new car from Toyota after
being named the World Series MVP. (He also hit .429 with 17
total bases, a new record for a five-game Series.)
A frustrated Johnny Bench responded, “If we had
known he wanted a car that badly, we’d all have
chipped in and bought him one.”
It’s hard to single out one play by Robinson—he
seemingly robbed at least one Red of a hit in each
game—but the one that has endured was a tone-
setter against Cincinnati first baseman Lee May in
Game 1. With the game tied 3-3, May hit a smash
that appeared headed down the third-base line for
extra bases. But Robinson made a sensational back-
handed stop and somehow managed to twist his body and
make a strong, one-hop throw all in one motion to nail May
by a step. May would say later, “Where do they plug Mr.
Hoover in?”
Of course, any discussion of postseason defense can’t
get this far without a mention of the most legendary play
of them all—and you can take away the “postseason”
qualifier. It’s arguably the greatest and most significant
catch ever made. In fact, it’s simply known as “The
Catch.” But the fact that it happened in the World Series
just enhances what Willie Mays pulled off in 1954 against
Cleveland’s Vic Wertz.
Wertz’ drive at the Polo Grounds came in the eighth
inning of Game 1, the game tied 2-2 and runners on first
and second. We’ve all seen the grainy video of Mays’
With timely hitting
sprinting back to miraculously snare the ball near the cen- and outstanding
ter-field wall with his back turned to home plate. But we defensive play at
still marvel every time at not only that feat but what fol- second base,
lowed: Mays whirling and firing the ball back to the infield Javier Baez earned
to keep the go-ahead run from scoring. The Giants eventu- co-MVP honors in
the 2016 NLCS.
ally won the game in the 10th on Dusty Rhodes’ three-run,
pinch-hit home run, and swept Cleveland in the World
Series. Players pointed to Mays’ catch as the emotional
impetus that turned the momentum in the Giants’ favor.
“I don’t know, man,” Mays told John Shea of the San
Francisco Chronicle in 2014, the 60th anniversary of his
play. “It wasn’t a lucky catch. I used to catch flyballs like
that all the time, but you’re talking about a World Series.
You’re talking about something that doesn’t happen all
the time. Even if you make a catch like that, which I did in
the regular season... but to catch it in a way that the world
SportPics

is looking at you, it’s remarkable, I think.”


What Mays did 63 years ago established a standard to
September/October 2017 23
which every great postseason play since has been compared.
One of the few that actually spawned a legitimate debate was
made by center fielder Devon White of the Toronto Blue Jays
in Game 3 of the 1992 World Series, a game the Jays would
win, 3-2, en route to a six-game Series triumph.
As with Mays’ catch, the opponent—the Atlanta Braves—
had two runners on base. Like Mays, White sprinted back
toward the wall to track, and then snare, the drive by David DEREK

SportPics
Justice. Unlike Mays, White smashed into the wall as he JETER
made the catch, adding to the degree of difficulty. For that
reason, White’s teammate Roberto Alomar has always
insisted that White’s catch was even better than Mays’. and then tagged out Otto Miller, the runner on first who
Announcer Vin Scully, who witnessed both, made the had strayed too far off the bag. Cleveland won the game, 8-
same claim, pointing out that Mays had more open terri- 1, and took the best-of-nine Series, five games to two. Bill
tory in the vast Polo Grounds and thus didn’t have to Wambsganss, who had a .259 career average, would have
worry about the wall. Like Mays, White also had the pres- faded to obscurity long ago, if fate hadn’t intervened.
ence of mind to get the ball back in quickly, almost lead- Certainly, there are those who credited fate, or perhaps
ing to a triple play. Terry Pendleton, the runner at first, magic, for the Miracle Mets’ shocking World Series tri-
was called out for passing lead runner Deion Sanders, umph in 1969. And maybe there was some kismet
whom the Blue Jays then caught in a rundown. Sanders involved. But in baseball terms, a large assist goes to the
got back safely to second, though replays showed that Mets’ brilliant defense, most notably outfielders Ron
Toronto third baseman Kelly Gruber clearly tagged Neon Swoboda and Tommy Agee.
Deion on the foot as he dived back into the base. Just seven years after their bumbling 120-loss debut in
Had replay existed back then, the Jays likely would have 1962, the Mets—after surpassing the collapsing Cubs with
pulled off just the second triple play in World Series histo- a 100-win season and then knocking off the Braves in the
ry. The first one certainly deserves mention in the pan- very first NLCS—vanquished the mighty, 109-win Orioles
theon of postseason defense—one of just 15 unassisted in five games. But the Series still hung in the balance, tied
triple plays in major-league history, making it a rarer feat at one game apiece, when Agee saved at least five runs
than a perfect game. with two amazing plays in Game 3, a 5-0 Mets win.
You have to go back to the 1920 World Series and With two aboard in the fourth, Agee made a backhand-
Cleveland Indians second baseman Bill Wambsganss ed catch in deep left-center to rob Elrod Hendricks, and
(often appearing in box scores as Wamby—and who could then made a headfirst diving catch with the bases loaded
blame scorekeepers for that?). In Game 5 against the in the seventh, taking away a hit by Paul Blair and thwart-
Brooklyn Robins, with two on and no out, Brooklyn’s ing a Baltimore rally. Swoboda’s enduring play came in
Clarence Mitchell hit a line drive right at Wamby, who Game 4, a tense 2-1 Mets victory. The Orioles were rallying
caught it, stepped on second base to retire Pete Kilduff, against Tom Seaver in the ninth, with back-to-back singles
by Frank Robinson and Boog Powell putting runners on
the corners. Brooks Robinson hit a sinking liner to right
WILLIE
MAYS that Swoboda caught backhanded at nearly ground level
after a full-out dive, saving the game.
“I just thank him for not hitting it right at me,’’ Swoboda
would tell The New York Times 40 years later. “If I had
caught it easily, nobody would remember me.”
A great defensive play with the spotlight shining in
October—or nowadays, in November—is a surefire way to
ensure that your name is never forgotten. Here are 10
more examples:

Kirby Puckett, Twins


1 1991 World Series, Game 6
In the third inning with a man aboard, Atlanta’s Ron
Gant hit a blast to center that seemed certain to give the
Braves, one victory shy of a title, their first run of the
game. But Puckett made a perfectly timed leaping catch
against the center-field Plexiglas wall to thwart the rally.
The significance of the play became apparent when the
game went to the bottom of the 11th, tied at 3, at which
point Puckett hit a leadoff home run to force Game 7. Jack
Buck’s famous call, “And we’ll see you tomorrow night!”
would not have happened—nor would have Jack Morris’
masterpiece in Minnesota’s clinching Game 7 win—had
not Puckett caught Gant’s drive.

24 September/October 2017
Mickey Mantle, Yankees Dwight Evans, Red Sox
2 1956 World Series, Game 5
Another epic baseball moment, Don Larsen’s perfect
5 1975 World Series, Game 6
This was certainly one of the greatest games ever played,
game against the Dodgers, was saved by the glove. In this capped by Carlton Fisk famously urging his game-winning
case, it was Mantle’s sprinting catch in deep left-center to home run to stay fair. But Fisk may not have even had his
rob Gil Hodges in the fifth inning. Thirteen outs later, opportunity in the 12th if Evans, in the 11th, hadn’t made a
Larsen had achieved immortality. brilliant catch near the visitors’ bullpen in deep right to rob
Joe Morgan with a man aboard. Evans then doubled off Ken
Sandy Amoros, Dodgers Griffey, the baserunner on first, to keep the Red Sox alive.
3 1955 World Series, Game 7
Same two teams, one year earlier. The Dodgers finally Derek Jeter, Yankees
achieved their elusive title after five excruciating losses in
the Fall Classic, all to the Yankees between 1941 and 1953.
6 2001 ALDS, Game 3
This play is emblazoned front and center in Jeter’s gallery
But it might not have happened if Amoros hadn’t saved of clutch, heady plays. When Shane Spencer overthrew the
the day in the sixth inning of the clincher. The Dodgers cutoff man as Oakland’s Jeremy Giambi rumbled around the
were clinging to a 2-0 lead—the eventual final score— bases in the seventh inning, Jeter was in the right place at the
when Yogi Berra hit what appeared to be a certain double right time, racing in from shortstop to grab the errant throw
deep down the left-field line with two aboard. But Amoros and flip it to catcher Jorge Posada. Posada tagged out Giambi,
made a miraculous catch in the corner, and then fired the who inexplicably didn’t slide. The Yankees, who led 1-0 at the
ball into shortstop Pee Wee Reese, whose throw to Hodges time, had been on the brink of elimination but came back to
doubled Gil McDougald off first. The Boys of Summer win the final three games. Jeter’s play has become legendary.
would soon have their first (and only) Brooklyn title.
Graig Nettles, Yankees
7 1978 World Series
Much like Brooks Robinson in ’70, Nettles gave a clinic
on third-base play with at least five astonishing plays that
thwarted potential Dodger rallies as the Yankees won the
World Series in six games.

Chase Utley, Phillies


8 2008 World Series, Game 5
Game 5 was tied at 3 when Utley made a seventh-inning play
credited with saving the Series for the Phillies. With Jason
Bartlett at second and two outs, Tampa Bay’s Akinori Iwamura
hit a dribbler up the middle that caused the second baseman
to range far to his right to field. Realizing he had no chance to
nail Iwamura, Utley pump-faked to first, whirled and fired
home to throw out Bartlett, who thought he had a free path to
the plate. The Phillies, buoyed by Utley’s heady maneuver,
scored a run in the bottom of the inning for a 4-3, Series-
IVAN
SportPics

RODRIGUEZ
clinching victory.

Ivan Rodriguez, Marlins

4 Al Gionfriddo, Dodgers
1947 World Series, Game 6
9 2003 NLDS, Game 4
Few playoff series have had a more exciting ending, short
Yet another historic catch in yet another Dodgers- of a walk-off hit. With the Marlins clinging to a 7-6 lead in the
Yankees showdown. The fact that Joe DiMaggio was the top of ninth, the Giants’ J.T. Snow tried to score from second
player robbed of a hit is one reason this play has achieved on a base hit as Florida left fielder Jeff Conine unleashed a
such stature. Another is that Gionfriddo was a little- perfect throw to the plate. Snow barreled into Rodriguez,
known reserve who had just entered the game as a defen- bowling him over backward. But Pudge held onto the ball,
sive replacement, making for an unexpected star turn. But raising it up to the umpire as he scrambled back onto his feet.
mostly it’s because of the sheer majesty of Gionfriddo, Snow was called out, and the Marlins celebrated their NLDS
who ran down Joltin’ Joe’s shot toward the left-field triumph en route to winning it all over the Yankees.
bullpen. Here was Red Barber’s famous call:
Joe Rudi, A’s
“Swung on, belted... it’s a long one... back goes
Gionfriddo, back, back, back, back, back, back... heeee
makes a one-handed catch against the bullpen! Oh, Doctor!”
10 1972 World Series, Game 2
The A’s would go on to beat the Reds in seven games for
Even the even-tempered Joe D was so frustrated he the first of their three consecutive championships. A piv-
kicked dirt near second base after he was robbed by what otal moment came when Rudi went up against the left-
turned out to be the final catch of Gionfriddo’s career. He field wall in the ninth inning of Game 2 to take an extra-
didn’t play in Game 7, as the Yankees wrapped up the title, base hit and possibly game-tying RBI away from Denis
and then retired after the season. Menke, as the A’s held on for a 2-1 victory. BD

September/October 2017 25
PINCH-HITTING

HEROICS
IN
OCTOBER

Coming through with a


clutch home run as a
substitute batter is a lasting
postseason memory

26 September/October 2017
O
By Tom Haudricourt
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
f all the challenges players face at the major-league level,
coming through as a pinch-hitter in a key moment might
rank at the top of the list.
You’ve been sitting on the bench for most of the game,
and the manager tells you to grab a bat and go up there
and get a big hit. It’s a one-shot deal with no redemption.
If you hit a screaming liner right at a fielder, you have
failed. Never mind the great swing.
Take that task and add the postseason spotlight, and
the pressure ramps up to a new level. Nothing on the line
In the first game of the 2016
NLCS between the Cubs and
but a possible World Series ring, if everything goes right.
Dodgers, Miguel Montero No guarantee you’ll even get a pitch to hit.
clubbed a two out, pinch-hit All of which makes successful pinch-hit performances
grand slam in the bottom of in the postseason moments that often live on forever
the eighth inning to lift more. Way back when there were no layers of playoffs—
Chicago to an 8-4 victory.
just the World Series—Yogi Berra became the first player
to come off the bench in the postseason and whack a
home run.
The year was 1947, and both Berra and racial pioneer
Jackie Robinson were rookies. The Yankees and Dodgers
met in the Fall Classic, and New York took the first two
games before falling behind, 9-7, in Game 3 at Ebbets Field.
In the seventh inning, manager Bucky Harris sent the
young Berra to hit for catcher Sherm Lollar. Berra
smacked a home run off Ralph Branca, who four years
later would give up a much more famous home run to the
Giants’ Bobby Thomson. Alas, the Yankees lost, 9-8, but
went on to claim the World Series in seven games.
Berra would go on to bigger World Series fame, primar-
ily winning an amazing 10 championship rings. But, as
history would tell us over time, others who delivered big
pinch hits in the postseason were far more anonymous.
Enter Chuck Essegian in 1959. The former college foot-
ball star began that season with the St. Louis Cardinals
before being sent down to Rochester, then traded to the
Dodgers in mid-June. He was dispatched to Spokane of
the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, but injuries to Carl
Furillo and Duke Snider in early August led to Essegian
being summoned to Los Angeles.
Essegian accumulated only 46 at-bats, serving primar-
ily as a pinch-hitter for manager Walt Alston. It was in
that role that he would make a name for himself in the
World Series against Chicago’s “Go-Go” White Sox. The
Dodgers were pummeled in Game 1, 11-0, and were trail-
ing, 2-1, in the seventh inning of Game 2 when Essegian
batted for pitcher Johnny Podres.
Jumping on a 3-1 pitch from Bob Shaw, Essegian blast-
ed a home run far into the left-field bleachers to tie the
score, and the Dodgers went on to win, 4-3.
Asked afterward about going to Essegian, Alston said,
“I wanted somebody who could hit the ball out of the
park. I like the way Essegian swings the bat. He doesn’t
hit very often, but I thought he might hit one out.”
And Essegian wasn’t done. With the Dodgers comfort-
ably ahead, 8-3, in the ninth inning of Game 6 and only a
few outs away from a World Series crown, Essegian hit
another homer off the bench. Just like that Essegian
entered the record books as the first player with two
pinch-hit blasts in the Series.
SportPics

It was a feat Boston’s Bernie Carbo would match 16


years later. Everybody remembers Carlton Fisk’s arms-
September/October 2017 27
World Series Pinch-Hit Home Runs
Player, Team Year Gm Inn. ROB Opposing Pitcher Outcome
Yogi Berra, Yankees 1947 3 7 0 Ralph Branca, Dodgers Cut Dodgers lead to 9-8
Johnny Mize, Yankees 1952 3 9 0 Preacher Roe, Dodgers Cut Dodgers lead to 5-3
George Shuba, Dodgers 1953 1 6 1 Allie Reynolds, Yankees Cut Yankees lead to 5-4
Dusty Rhodes, Giants 1954 1 10 2 Bob Lemon, Indians Walk-off 3-run HR
Hank Majeski, Indians 1954 4 5 2 Don Liddle, Giants Cut Giants lead to 7-3
Bob Cerv, Yankees 1955 5 7 0 Roger Craig, Dodgers Cut Dodgers lead to 4-2
Chuck Essegian, Dodgers 1959 2 7 0 Bob Shaw, White Sox Tied game, 2-2
Chuck Essegian, Dodgers 1959 6 9 0 Ray Moore, White Sox Increased Dodgers lead to 9-3
Elston Howard, Yankees 1960 1 9 1 ElRoy Face, Pirates Cut Pirates lead to 6-4
Johnny Blanchard, Yankees 1961 3 8 0 Bob Purkey, Reds Tied game, 2-2 CHUCK ESSEGIAN YOGI BERRA
Bernie Carbo, Red Sox 1975 3 7 0 Clay Carroll, Reds Cut Reds lead to 5-3
Bernie Carbo, Red Sox 1975 6 8 2 Rawley Eastwick, Reds Tied game, 6-6
Jay Johnstone, Dodgers 1981 4 6 1 Ron Davis, Yankees Cut Yankees lead to 6-5
Kirk Gibson, Dodgers 1988 1 9 1 Dennis Eckersley, A’s Walk-off 2-run HR
Bill Bathe, Giants 1989 3 9 2 Gene Nelson, A’s Cut A’s lead to 13-6
Chili Davis, Twins 1991 3 8 1 Alejandro Pena, Braves Tied game, 4-4
Ed Sprague Jr., Blue Jays 1992 2 9 1 Jeff Reardon, Braves Gave Blue Jays lead, 5-4
Jim Leyritz, Yankees 1999 4 8 0 Terry Mulholland, Braves Extended Yankees lead to 4-1
Jason Giambi, Yankees 2003 5 9 0 Braden Looper, Marlins Cut Marlins lead to 6-3
Bobby Kielty, Red Sox 2007 4 8 0 Brian Fuentes, Rockies Extended Red Sox lead to 4-1

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Eric Bruntlett, Phillies 2008 2 8 0 David Price, Rays Cut Rays lead to 4-1
Eric Hinske, Rays 2008 4 5 0 Joe Blanton, Phillies Cut Phillies lead to 5-2 HIDEKI MATSUI
Hideki Matsui, Yankees 2009 3 8 0 Brett Myers, Phillies Extended Yankees lead to 8-4

waving, 12th-inning home run that won Game 6 against said in that interview.
Cincinnati, but how many recall that it was Carbo’s home “I played every game high. I was addicted to anything
run off the bench that set that stage for that oft-replayed you could possibly be addicted to. I played the outfield
bit of history? sometimes where it looked like the stars were falling from
Both the Reds, who hadn’t won a World Series since the sky.”
1940, and the Red Sox, whose drought extended to 1918, You never know when pinch-hitting lightning will strike
were looking to end years of agony that fall. Cincinnati in the World Series. Los Angeles’ Kirk Gibson later would
took a 3-2 Series lead into Game 6 in Boston, which was be named the 1988 Most Valuable Player in the National
postponed three days by rain. League, but when Game 1 of the Fall
The Reds took a 6-3 lead into the Classic began against the Oakland
eighth inning and were four outs A’s at Dodger Stadium, Gibson was
away from the crown when Boston held out of the lineup by manager
manager Darrell Johnson sent Tommy Lasorda because of ham-
Carbo to bat for reliever Roger string and knee issues.
Moret with two men on base. With Oakland leading 4-3 and
Everyone expected Cincinnati the Dodgers down to their last out
manager Sparky Anderson to bring in the bottom of the ninth, Lasorda
in lefty Will McEnaney to face the decided to roll the dice and sent
left-handed hitter, but he stuck Gibson to bat for Alejandro Pena
with righty Rawly Eastwick. with Mike Davis on first base.
Barely staying alive by fouling Gibson looked overmatched when
off a 2-2 offering, Carbo got hold of A’s closer Dennis Eckersley fired
the next pitch and drove it out to two fastballs that he fouled off,
center for a game-tying home run. falling behind in the count, 0-2.
Fisk would make the highlight Gibson stayed alive by dribbling
reels for years to come with his a ball foul down the first-base line
game-winning blast in the 12th, BERNIE and Eckersley fired a fastball wide
but without Carbo’s heroics off the CARBO for a ball. With Davis breaking off
bench, that everlasting memory first base, Gibson again spoiled a
never would have happened. pitch to stay alive. Eckersley deliv-
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, it only postponed a ered two more outside fastballs, with Davis stealing sec-
heartbreaking ending. The next day, the Big Red Machine ond on the second.
won Game 7, 4-3, on Joe Morgan’s bloop single in the With the count full, Gibson stepped out of the box to col-
ninth. Carbo, who also homered off the bench in Game 3, lect his thoughts. As he did, he recalled something Dodgers
made a stunning admission to the Boston Globe in 2010 advance scout Mel Didier told the hitters in a pregame
that he had been doing drugs during that World Series. meeting. Didier said if any of them faced Eckersley with a
“I probably smoked two joints, drank about three or four 3-2 count, look for a back-door slider on the next pitch.
beers, got to the ballpark, took some (amphetamines), Gibson stepped back into the box, and sure enough,
took a pain pill, drank a cup of coffee, chewed some tobac- Eckersley threw a backdoor slider. Bad wheels and all,
co, had a cigarette and got up to the plate to hit,” Carbo Gibson leaned across the plate and got enough of the pitch

28 September/October 2017
to line it out to right field for a game-winning, two-run
homer, one of the most electrifying moments in World KIRK
GIBSON
Series history.
As Gibson limped around the bases, pumping his fist,
Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck proclaimed, “I don’t
believe what I just saw!”
It indeed was almost impossible to process what the
gimpy-legged Gibson had just done, against one of the
most dominant closers in the game. Energized by that dra-
matic moment, the underdog Dodgers went on to knock
off Oakland in five games.
In an interview with MLB.com to celebrate the 25th
anniversary of that iconic pinch-hit homer, Eckersley said
he regretted throwing the slider instead of another fast-

SportPics
ball, but added, “The last thing on my mind was a home
run. I shouldn’t have thrown him that pitch, but the more
amazing part was how far he hit it, flat-footed.
“Ultimately, that was supposed to happen. It was in the the eventual world champions to an 8-4 victory.
stars.” It was only the third pinch-hit slam in postseason histo-
The Dodgers were on the other end of a series-changing, ry, and you are a devout baseball fan if you knew the other
pinch-hit home run in the 2016 National League two. Cincinnati’s Mark Lewis slugged one in Game 3 of the
Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs. Game 1 NLDS against the Dodgers in 1995, and the Yankees’ Ricky
was tied 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning when Los Ledee pulled off the feat in Game 4 of the 1999 ALCS
Angeles skipper Dave Roberts summoned veteran reliever against the Red Sox.
Joe Blanton, who had a fantastic regular season. But Montero’s was the only one of the three that gave his
With two down and two on, Blanton intentionally walked team the victory. And, much like Gibson’s blast, it was the
Chris Coghlan to bring up closer Aroldis Chapman’s spot in first step in the Cubs going on to win the series, four games
the batting order. Cubs manager Joe Maddon sent left- to two. It had been a rough season for Montero, who ceded
handed-hitting catcher Miguel Montero to bat for playing time to veteran David Ross and the rookie
Chapman, and was prepared to switch off to either Willson Contreras, but on this night he was a postseason hero.
Contreras or Albert Almora if Roberts summoned a lefty. “That’s the beauty of baseball,” Montero said afterward.
But Roberts stuck with Blanton, which appeared to be a “You just have to take it one day at a time and take what
good decision when he quickly got ahead in the count, 0- they give you.”
2. But Blanton fatefully hung a slider that Montero drove Which is a pretty good approach for any pinch-hitter, no
into the right-field bleachers for a grand slam, propelling matter the stakes. BD

League Championship Pinch-Hit Home Runs


Player, Team Year Gm Inn. ROB Opposing Pitcher Outcome
Jerry Martin, Phillies 1978 1 9 0 Bob Welch, Dodgers Cut Dodgers lead to 9-5
Bake McBride, Phillies 1978 4 7 0 Rick Rhoden, Dodgers Tied game, 3-3

Chris Bernacchi/SportPics
John Lowenstein, Orioles 1979 1 10 2 John Montague, Angels Walk-off 3-run HR
Pat Sheridan, Royals 1985 2 9 0 Tom Henke, Blue Jays Tied game, 4-4
Harry Spilman, Giants 1987 3 9 0 Todd Worrell, Cardinals Cut Cardinals lead to 6-5
Mike Pagliarulo, Twins 1991 3 10 0 Mike Timlin, Blue Jays Gave Twins 3-2 lead
Eric Davis, Orioles 1997 5 9 0 Paul Assenmacher, Indians Gave Orioles 3-2 lead
Greg Myers, Padres 1998 5 9 1 Kerry Ligtenberg, Braves Cut Braves lead to 7-6 CHRIS BURKE
Ricky Ledee, Yankees 1999 4 9 3 Rod Beck, Red Sox Extended Yankees lead to 9-2
Jay Buhner, Mariners 2001 3 9 0 Jay Witasick, Yankees Extended Mariners lead to 13-3
Erubiel Durazo, D-backs 2001 5 5 1 Tom Glavine, Braves Gave D-backs 3-1 lead
J.D. Drew, Cardinals 2002 1 8 0 Tim Worrell, Giants Cut Giants lead to 9-6
Eduardo Perez, Cardinals 2002 2 8 0 Jason Schmidt, Giants Cut Giants lead to 3-1
Mike Lowell, Marlins 2003 1 11 0 Mark Guthrie, Cubs Gave Marlins 9-8 lead
Ruben Sierra, Yankees 2003 4 9 0 Scott Williamson, Red Sox Cut Red Sox lead to 3-2
Troy O’Leary, Cubs 2003 7 7 0 Josh Beckett, Marlins Cut Marlins lead to 9-6
SportPics

Mike Lamb, Astros 2004 1 9 0 Julian Tavarez, Cardinals Cut Cardinals lead to 10-7
Chris Burke, Astros 2005 1 7 1 Chris Carpenter, Cardinals Cut Cardinals lead to 5-2
RUBEN SIERRA
Chris Duncan, Cardinals 2006 5 6 0 Pedro Feliciano, Mets Extended Cardinals lead to 4-2
Matt Stairs, Phillies 2008 4 8 1 Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers Gave Phillies a 7-5 lead
Orlando Hudson, Dodgers 2009 5 5 0 Cole Hamels, Phillies Cut Phillies lead to 6-3
Shane Robinson, Cardinals 2013 4 7 0 J.P. Howell, Dodgers Extended Cardinals lead to 4-2
David Durochik/SportPics

Oscar Taveras, Cardinals 2014 2 7 0 Jean Machi, Giants Tied game, 3-3
Michael Morse, Giants 2014 5 8 0 Pat Neshek, Cardinals Extended Giants lead to 4-2
Andre Ethier, Dodgers 2016 1 5 0 Jon Lester, Cubs Cut Cubs lead to 3-1
Miguel Montero, Cubs 2016 1 8 3 Joe Blanton, Dodgers Gave Cubs a 7-3 lead

In the League Division Series, there have been 18 pinch-hit home runs, including one grand slam and two walk-off blasts.
The grand slam was hit by Cincinnati's Mark Lewis in Game 3 of the 1995 NLDS against Mark Guthrie of the Dodgers. MIKE LOWELL
The two pinch-hit walk-off homers were hit by George Vuckovich of the Phillies (1981) and Trot Nixon of the Red Sox (2003).

September/October 2017 29
20
ROY
HALLADAY

Great SportPics

Postseason
Pitching
Duels
By Stuart Shea
REVIEWING SOME OF THE
MOST MEMORABLE PITCHING
BATTLES IN PLAYOFF HISTORY

he old-time pitcher’s duel has largely disappeared. went the route, “Iron Man Joe” allowing five hits and three

T Starting pitchers are now conserved for long-term


use, with bullpens pitching more innings. But while
complete games have largely vanished from the scene, the
walks while an unlucky “Gettysburg Eddie” surrendered
five hits and two walks. In the home fourth, New York’s
Sam Mertes reached on shortstop Monte Cross’ error and
2016 postseason proved that the game’s best hurlers can two outs later scored on Billy Gilbert’s single. The game
still air it out when a season is at stake. took just 1:55 to complete. The Giants won the Series the
It would be easy to create a list of great postseason following day. In a Fall Classic in which Christy
pitching duels from only the dead-ball era, when runs Mathewson fired an amazing three shutouts, this game
were scarce. But there are giants in these days, too. was the best match of opposing pitchers.
Here are 20 great pitching duels since the start of the
modern “postseason” in 1903, plus 20 more terrific 1916 WORLD SERIES GAME 2
matchups for completion’s (and argument’s) sake. Red Sox 2, Dodgers 1 (14 innings) at Boston
Brooklyn’s Hi Myers homered in the first inning off
1905 WORLD SERIES GAME 4 Boston starter Babe Ruth… who then held the Dodgers
Giants 1, A’s 0 at New York scoreless on five hits for the next 13.1 frames. Sherry Smith
Hall of Famers Eddie Plank of Philadelphia and Joe of Brooklyn kept Boston off the board save for the third
McGinnity of New York were at their best. Both pitchers inning, when Ruth’s grounder scored light-hitting Everett

30 September/October 2017
JOHNNY
CUETO

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JON
LESTER

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Mike McGinnis/SportPics

Scott, who’d tripled. Both pitchers tossed complete games, ninth did more than one Giant reach base, and Hoyt then
each working through jams caused by errors. In the home induced a game-ending double-play grounder.
ninth, Boston threatened, but runner Hal Janvrin was
thrown out at the plate by Dodgers center fielder Myers at 1930 WORLD SERIES GAME 5
the back end of an 8-2 double play. In the last of the 14th, A’s 2, Cardinals 1 at St. Louis
Smith walked Dick Hoblitzell. One out later, pinch-hitter With the Series tied 2-2, the clubs squared off at
Del Gainer stroked a single for the game-winner. Sportsman’s Park. Fireballing George Earnshaw of
Philadelphia and Burleigh Grimes, St. Louis’ spitball
1921 WORLD SERIES GAME 2 specialist, traded blanks for seven innings; neither team
Yankees 3, Giants 0 at New York got a man past second. In the eighth, the A’s loaded the
Waite Hoyt of the Yankees and Art Nehf of the Giants bases but came up empty and had to pinch-hit for
tossed complete games, allowing only five hits between Earnshaw. Lefty Grove—who’d pitched a complete-game
them. Hoyt ceded two singles and five walks, while Nehf 3-1, five-hit loss the previous day—took over. In the A’s
was tagged for three hits and seven walks—and was ninth, Mickey Cochrane walked and one out later,
bedeviled by Giants fielding errors that led to a pair of Jimmie Foxx bashed a tremendous homer off Grimes.
unearned runs. The Yanks scored twice on groundouts Grove set down the side for the win and the Athletics
and the third on Bob Meusel’s steal of home. Only in the clinched the Series in Game 6.
September/October 2017 31
DON
DRYSDALE

1948 WORLD SERIES GAME 1


Braves 1, Indians 0 at Boston
In his first World Series game, Bob Feller allowed one
hit and one walk through seven innings. To start the
eighth, however, he walked Phil Masi. With two out and
Masi on second, Feller threw to second to pick off the
runner, but umpire Bill Stewart missed the call. Given a
reprieve, Boston capitalized on Tommy Holmes’ popfly
RBI single for a 1-0 victory. Johnny Sain for Boston was
even better than Feller, surrendering four measly sin-
gles, fanning six and walking nobody in a complete-

SportPics
game performance. Cleveland, however, won the Series
in six games.

1949 WORLD SERIES GAME 1


Yankees 1, Dodgers 0 at New York
In his first Series game as Yankees manager, Casey
Stengel sent out Allie Reynolds, and “The Chief” blazed
through nine innings, allowing just two hits, fanning nine
and passing four. Don Newcombe was even more impres-
sive for Brooklyn, allowing five hits and no walks through
eight and striking out 11. The Yankees pulled the game out
in the ninth when first baseman Tommy Henrich stroked
a line-drive homer into the right-field seats. The following
day, the Dodgers got their only win in the Series, a 1-0 vic-
tory in which Preacher Roe outdueled Vic Raschi.
BOB JOHNNY
1950 WORLD SERIES GAME 1 FELLER SAIN
Yankees 1, Phillies 0 at Philadelphia
National League MVP Jim Konstanty, a reliever, starred
in Game 1 for the Phillies and allowed only one run on four
hits over eight. He registered no strikeouts, getting 15 of
his 24 outs in the air. Fortunately for the Yankees, one of
those air outs was Jerry Coleman’s fourth-inning sacrifice MIKE
fly that plated Bobby Brown, who had doubled and moved SCOTT
to third on another deep fly. Vic Raschi went the distance
for New York, holding the Phillies to two singles and a
walk. He fanned five and retired the final 11 hitters in
order.

1950 WORLD SERIES GAME 2


Yankees 2, Phillies 1 (10 innings) at Philadelphia
David Durochik/SportPics

The next day, Allie Reynolds and Robin Roberts went


the distance, which this time took 10 innings. Gene
Woodling and Richie Ashburn drove in their team’s first
run, and the knot held through regulation time. Leading
off the 10th, Joe DiMaggio crushed a Roberts offering into
Connie Mack Stadium’s left-field upper deck to lift New
York to the win. The Yankees swept the Phillies, who
JACK
scored just five runs in the four games. MORRIS

1956 WORLD SERIES GAME 5


Yankees 2, Dodgers 0 at New York
Don Larsen of the Yankees set down 27 straight Dodgers
hitters on 97 pitches, etching his name into baseball histo-
ry. He fanned seven, set six men down on groundouts, and
got the other 14 men via the air. But nearly forgotten in the
David Durochik/SportPics

Larsen story is that Brooklyn’s Sal Maglie was also terrific,


pitching eight innings and allowing only two runs on five
hits and two walks. Mickey Mantle’s fourth-inning solo
shot and Hank Bauer’s sixth-inning RBI single spelled the
end for the Dodgers.

32 September/October 2017
MIKE
CUELLAR

1956 WORLD SERIES GAME 6


Dodgers 1, Yankees 0 (10 innings) at Brooklyn
The following day, facing elimination, the Dodgers came
up big. Clem Labine scattered seven hits and battled the
Yankees for 10 scoreless innings, while Bob Turley of New
York also went all the way. The Yankees righty allowed just
four hits but walked eight and struck out 11. With one out
in the 10th, Brooklyn’s Jim Gilliam drew a pass. Following
a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk, Jackie Robinson
lashed a liner over left fielder Enos Slaughter’s head for a
dramatic walk-off win; it was Robinson’s final major-
league hit. New York clinched the Series the next day.

1966 WORLD SERIES GAME 4


JIM Orioles 1, Dodgers 0 at Baltimore
PALMER The Orioles swept the Dodgers to gain their first World
Series title. Southpaw Dave McNally, not yet 24, neutral-
ized the Dodgers on four singles and a pair of walks.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers’ Don Drysdale did his best to
keep his team in it. The Orioles’ sole score came when
Frank Robinson lashed a line-drive homer to left in the
fourth. Otherwise, Drysdale was superb, allowing three
singles and a base on balls. This game featured home-run-
robbing grabs by both center fielders: Paul Blair of
Baltimore and Willie Davis of Los Angeles. The Dodgers
did not score a run in the final 33 innings of the Series.

VIDA 1973 ALCS GAME 3


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BLUE A’s 2, Orioles 1 (11 innings) at Oakland


In one of the very best postseason duels, lefties Mike
Cuellar of Baltimore and Ken Holtzman of Oakland held two
hot-hitting teams in check. Holtzman was nearly perfect,
firing all 11 frames and allowing only Earl Williams’ second-
DWIGHT inning solo homer, a walk, and two singles. He fanned
GOODEN seven. Meanwhile, Cuellar held Oakland to a hit and three
walks until the eighth, when two singles knotted the score.
In the bottom of the 11th, Bert Campaneris blasted a walk-
off home run for an Athletics win. It was only the fourth hit
off Cuellar, who fanned 11. The two teams combined for just
seven hits and four walks in a crisp 2:23.

1974 ALCS GAME 3


A’s 1, Orioles 0 at Baltimore
Sal Bando of Oakland clubbed a fourth-inning homer off
Jim Palmer, and that was all she wrote. Palmer went all the
SportPics

way, allowing just three more singles. But as good as he


was this day, Palmer couldn’t top Oakland’s Vida Blue.
Baltimore could only touch Blue for two singles, one in the
fourth and one in the seventh. The Orioles didn’t even get
JOHN
SMOLTZ
a man to second base. Oakland captured the A.L. pennant
with a 2-1 victory the following day.

1984 ALCS GAME 3


Tigers 1, Royals 0 at Detroit
Looking to eliminate the Royals, Detroit sent Milt Wilcox
to the hill—and he delivered, holding the visitors to two
singles and two walks in eight innings. Baffling K.C. with
breaking stuff, he fanned eight. In the second, the Tigers
Rob Holt/SportPics

touched Charlie Liebrandt for two singles and a run-scor-


ing forceout; Detroit gathered just one more hit. In the
ninth, leading 1-0, Tigers manager Sparky Anderson
brought in closer Willie Hernandez. With two out, Hal
September/October 2017 33
McRae singled, but Hernandez retired Darryl Motley for 10th and was rewarded in the home half. First, Dan
the pennant-winner. In this game, with regular A.L. Gladden doubled off Atlanta reliever Alejandro Pena.
umpires on strike, six replacement umps were used. Then, following a bunt and two intentional passes, the
Twins won the World Series when Gene Larkin lofted a fly-
1986 NLCS GAME 1 ball single to left.
Astros 1, Mets 0 at Houston
Dwight Gooden of the Mets was good, allowing seven 2011 DIVISION SERIES GAME 5
hits over seven innings, including Glenn Davis’ second- Cardinals 1, Phillies 0 at Philadelphia
inning homer. He fanned five and walked three. But Mike In the deciding fifth game, each team played its ace.
Scott of Houston—often accused of throwing illegal pitch- Phillies starter Roy Halladay made two mistakes—to the
es—was far better, striking out 14 New York batters in a first two hitters of the game. Rafael Furcal tripled and Skip
complete-game five-hit masterpiece. The Mets put two Schumaker followed with a double. And that was all the
men on in the eighth and had the tying run at third in the scoring, as the Cardinals did nothing more with Halladay,
ninth, but Ray Knight fanned to end the game. Scott who threw eight frames of six-hit, seven-K ball. Meanwhile
admitted, years later, that he had indeed scuffed the ball Philadelphia could not touch St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter,
during his career, which accounts for at least part of that who faced only four men above the minimum. He ceded a
unhittable “splitter.” double, two singles and a hit batter while generating 18
groundball outs.
1986 NLCS GAME 5
Mets 2, Astros 1 (12 innings) at New York 2016 NL WILD CARD
Gooden again took the slab, this time against Nolan Giants 3, Mets 0 at New York
Ryan. In the top of the fourth, the Astros parlayed a dou- Through seven innings, starters Madison Bumgarner
ble, single and walk into a run. New York immediately and Noah Syndergaard were as well matched as could be.
answered as Darryl Strawberry belted a homer off Ryan to Bumgarner had allowed the Mets three hits and two walks;
knot the score—which remained 1-1 until the 12th. This Syndergaard fanned 10 and held the Giants to two singles
day Gooden threw 10 excellent innings. Ryan was spectac- and three passes. But Syndergaard departed after seven,
ular; following Strawberry’s homer, he allowed New York while Bumgarner remained. In the eighth, the Giants
just a single and a walk, striking out 12 in nine innings. The loaded the bases but did not score; in the ninth, they blew
difference this time was the bullpens. Jesse Orosco tossed it open with a double, walk and Conor Gillaspie’s three-
two perfect innings for New York, while in the bottom of run homer. Bumgarner retired the Mets in the bottom half
the 12th, Houston’s Charley Kerfeld allowed an infield sin- and San Francisco went on to the playoffs.
gle, then made a wild pickoff throw. With two out, Gary
Carter grounded a single up the middle to plate the win- 2016 DIVISION SERIES GAME 1
ning run. Cubs 1, Giants 0 at Chicago
The Giants led off the first three innings with a single, and
1991 WORLD SERIES GAME 7 doubled and singled in the fourth, but did not score.
Twins 1, Braves 0 (10 innings) at Minnesota Chicago’s Jon Lester then retired the next 13 batters.
With everything at stake, Atlanta’s John Smoltz and Meanwhile, Johnny Cueto had allowed the Cubs only a sin-
Minnesota’s Jack Morris dueled for seven innings, neither gle and a double over seven innings. Rookie Javier Baez
pitcher allowing a run. Both pitchers worked out of jams shattered the scoreless tie in the home eighth with a homer
and stiffened as the innings flew by. In the home eighth, into the left-field basket. Aroldis Chapman closed out the
two Twins singles knocked Smoltz from the game. Neither game for Chicago—a game that featured 15 combined
team scored, though, through nine. Morris, who gave up strikeouts from the starting pitchers, 10 by Cueto, and only
seven hits and struck out eight, breezed through a 1-2-3 nine baserunners. BD

20 HONORABLE MENTIONS 1990 World Series Game 4:


Dave Stewart and the A’s can’t avoid a four-game
1906 World Series Game 4: 1957 World Series Game 5: sweep as they fall to Jose Rijo and the Reds, 2-1.
Cubs even the Series at two when Mordecai Brown Braves take 3-2 Series lead after Lew Burdette 1997 NLDS Game 1:
defeats Nick Altrock and the White Sox, 1-0. defeats Whitey Ford and the Yankees, 1-0. Darryl Kile of Astros two-hits Braves, but loses as
1914 World Series Game 2: 1962 World Series Game 7: Greg Maddux pitches 2-1 complete-game gem.
Braves score game’s lone run in ninth as Bill James Ralph Terry and Yankees squeeze title away from 2001 ALDS Game 3:
defeats A’s hurler Eddie Plank, 1-0. Giants with a 1-0 victory in Series finale. Mike Mussina and Mariano Rivera of Yankees over-
1918 World Series Game 1: 1969 ALCS Game 2: come Barry Zito’s two-hit performance to lead New
In another 1-0 epic battle, Red Sox ace Babe Ruth Orioles take 2-0 series lead after Dave McNally hurls York to a 1-0 win.
outpitches Cubs left-hander Hippo Vaughn. 11 shutout innings to defeat Dave Boswell and the 2001 NLDS Game 5:
1920 World Series Game 6: Twins, 1-0. In deciding game, Curt Schilling goes the distance
Unknown Indians pitcher Duster Mails shines in 1-0 1972 ALCS Game 5: for D-backs and Matt Morris works eight innings for
victory over Brooklyn’s Sherry Smith. With series tied at two, A’s clinch pennant with 2-1 Cardinals in Arizona’s 2-1 win.
1939 World Series Game 1: win over Tigers as Blue Moon Odom and Vida Blue 2003 World Series Game 6:
Yankees’ Red Ruffing and Reds’ Paul Derringer lead Oakland to victory over Woodie Fryman and Josh Beckett leads Marlins to Series-clinching 2-0
battle in 1-1 game before New York gets walk-off John Hiller. victory over Andy Pettitte and the Yankees.
win in 9th. 1974 ALCS Game 4: 2013 ALCS Game 3:
1940 World Series Game 7: Jim Hunter pitches seven shutout innings to earn Boston’s John Lackey and Detroit’s Justin Verlander
Cincinnati’s Derringer outduels Detroit’s Bobo 2-1 victory and clinch pennant over Mike Cuellar battle in 1-0 contest won by the Red Sox.
Newsom, 2-1, in Series finale. and the Orioles. 2014 NLDS Game 2:
1944 World Series Game 5: 1986 World Series Game 1: The Giants and Nationals combined for only 17 hits
With Series of St. Louis knotted at two, Cardinals To set up an exciting seven-game Series, in an 18-inning marathon that witnessed San
ace Mort Cooper defeats Browns and Denny Red Sox and Bruce Hurst defeat Ron Darling and Francisco hurlers outdueling Washington’s bullpen,
Galehouse, 2-0. the Mets, 1-0. 2-1.

34 September/October 2017
By David Laurila MIKE
TROUT
ommon sense tells us that lineup protection exists. If

C Henry Aaron is behind you, you’re probably going to


get good pitches to hit. No pitcher in his right mind
would work around you to get to “Hammerin’ Hank.”
Conversely, if Mario Mendoza is behind you, the pitcher
may choose to nibble a bit. If you happen to get on
base, he’ll simply attack the man for whom “the
Mendoza line” was coined.
Those are of course extreme examples—
real-life differences are much more subtle—
but you get the idea. Who is standing on deck
influences the quality of pitches you’re going
to see in an at-bat.
Or is that actually not true? Studies have been
done on the subject, and evidence exists to show
that the impact is negligible at best.
James Click, a renowned analyst who now works in
the Tampa Bay Rays front office, is among those who
have explored the question. Writing in the seminal book
SportPics

Lineup Protection
Guarding a team’s best hitter with batters who will allow him to face quality pitch
BRIAN
DOZIER

JACKIE
BRADLEY JR.
JACKIE
BRADLEY JR.

SportPics SportPics

“Pitchers are going to pitch to each individual player according to “To use a cliché, it is what it is. It’s definitely there. And I think a
his scouting report, but at certain times, different scenarios in the lot of intangibles are in effect, so to speak—how hot each hitter
game might change how they’re going to pitch. But generally, yes, is. If I’m struggling, and he’s hotter, even though our track
I think you can get better pitches depending on lineup protection.” records may say different.”

36 September/October 2017
ALBERT
PUJOLS
Baseball Between the Numbers, Click concluded, “Protection
is overrated… There is no evidence that having a superior
batter behind another batter provides the initial batter
with better pitches to hit; if it does, those batters see no
improvement as a result.”
SportPics In the opinion of many people within the game, that
stat-driven premise is false. Spreadsheets may say it doesn’t
matter, but spreadsheets don’t stand in the batter’s box
and face 95-mph fastballs, biting sliders and mesmerizing
changeups. Nor do they stand on the mound deciding how
to deploy those offerings.
With that in mind, we queried a cross-section of on-field
personnel to see what they thought. Does lineup protec-
tion exist?

Jackie Bradley Jr, Boston Red Sox outfielder: “There’s a


good possibility. Pitchers are going to pitch to each indi-
vidual player according to his scouting report, but at cer-

–Does It Exist?
offerings from an opponent is logical, but some indicate it doesn’t really work
MIKE
SCIOSCIA

CHASE
HEADLEY

SportPics David Durochik/SportPics

“I’ve never really noticed how I’m hitting affects the guy in front of “We like to have our lineup deep enough, with those layers, so that
me. That doesn’t mean there’s not something to it—it just means that if one guy doesn’t do it, there’s another guy who can swing. You try
I’m paying attention to what I’m doing, and trying to do the best job I to make sure that the hitters you’re counting on to drive in runs are
can. But in general, I think a lineup helps a lineup. When you have a at least getting pitched to, and not pitched around or walked.”
bunch of guys who are hitting, it makes it easier for everybody.”
September/October 2017 37
Lineup Protection—Does it Exist?
tain times, different scenarios in the game might change
PHIL
how they’re going to pitch. But generally, yes, I think you
HUGHES
can get better pitches depending on lineup protection. At
the same time, they might stick to their game plan. You
don’t really know for sure.”

Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins infielder: “To use a


cliché, it is what it is. It’s definitely there. And I think a lot
of intangibles are in effect, so to speak—how hot each hit-
ter is. If I’m struggling, and he’s hotter, even though our
track records may say different… I think that plays into it
more than anything. I’m not going to say pick your poison,
but if one guy is hotter, it makes sense to pitch to the other
guy. It’s definitely not just the name on the jersey.”

“I don’t know if
that’s true, at least BRANDON
GUYER
where I’ve hit in the
order, which for the
most part has been
lower. I always joke
around with guys,
like ‘Hey, you’re
hitting behind me
today, so I’m going
SportPics

to get some great


pitches to hit.’”

Doug Fister, Boston Red Sox pitcher: “That’s always a


factor—it’s a factor in situations—but it’s not a be-all
end-all. It’s a thing to be aware of, but I know what I need
to do to get the guy at the plate out. It’s just a matter of
executing. It’s not always about who’s behind them, and
who’s not.
“It’s usually more about what the guy is doing today, and
so much historically. It all becomes a probability question
of what’s in your favor. At the same time, you have to have
confidence in every pitch. It doesn’t matter what lineup it
is—every guy is a threat. In the back of your mind, you
have to know that, but seven out of 10 times, that guy is
SportPics
going to fail when he puts the ball in play.”

Brandon Guyer, Cleveland Indians outfielder: “I don’t “You have to pay attention to the fact that you have to get through
know if that’s true, at least where I’ve hit in the order, which certain guys, so there is a protection aspect to it. Ask any hitter
for the most part has been lower. I always joke around with who has a guy who is really accomplished behind them, and they’re
guys, like ‘Hey, you’re hitting behind me today, so I’m going going to tell you they get more pitches to hit. They’ll tell you, ‘I’m
to get some great pitches to hit.’ I’m just messing around. going to get a ton of fastballs.’ I think that’s pretty universal.”
But I don’t really know. I haven’t really seen a huge differ-
ence—nothing crazy that jumps out, anyway.”
it—it just means that I’m paying attention to what I’m
Chase Headley, New York Yankees infielder: “Sometimes doing, and trying to do the best job I can. But in general, I
I see different pitches, yes. It’s situational. Depending on think a lineup helps a lineup. When you have a bunch of
who’s hitting behind you… I have to think that whoever is guys who are hitting, it makes it easier for everybody.”
hitting in front of Aaron Judge right now is seeing more
fastballs than they would otherwise. At least that would be Phil Hughes, Minnesota Twins pitcher: “You have to
my guess. pay attention to the fact that you have to get through cer-
“I’ve never really noticed how I’m hitting affects the guy tain guys, so there is a protection aspect to it. Ask any hit-
in front of me. That doesn’t mean there’s not something to ter who has a guy who is really accomplished behind

38 September/October 2017
Ron Johnson, Norfolk Tides (Orioles Triple-A) manager:
RON
“There’s no question it exists. You try to get guys in front
ROENICKE
and behind. Barry Bonds always used to say it wasn’t the
guys behind him, but the guys in front. If they get on base,
he knows he’s going to get pitched to. So I think it’s a com-
bination of both.
“We’re going against a left-hander today, and I’ve got Pedro
Alvarez hitting in the four-hole. I put right-handers behind
him, because I want Brian Johnson to go against Pedro
Alvarez. I don’t want him in a position where he’s not getting
pitched to. You have to put your guys in the right spots.”

Ron Roenicke, Los Angeles Angels coach: “It’s there a little


bit, but not as much as people think it is. The first year I had
Prince Fielder, Casey McGehee was behind him, and Casey
didn’t have a good year. Prince walked less that year than he
did the year after, when he had Corey Hart behind, with
Corey having a good year. Protection-wise, that tells me that
something isn’t quite there like everybody thinks it is.
“There are times, no doubt, where we go through the
lineup in a game and there’s a guy we don’t want to let beat
us. But when you say, ‘Oh, this guy is going to get more
fastballs because he has so and so behind him’… I don’t
think that’s necessarily the case. You pitch to that guy. If
the plan is a lot of offspeed pitches, you probably throw
him a lot of offspeed pitches. If the plan is a lot of fastballs,
you probably throw him a lot of fastballs.”

Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles Angels manager: “Your bat-


ting order is certainly important. We believe in setting the
table for the guys in the middle that can drive the ball. We
like to have our lineup deep enough, with those layers, so
that if one guy doesn’t do it, there’s another guy who can
swing. You try to make sure that the hitters you’re count-
ing on to drive in runs are at least getting pitched to, and
not pitched around or walked.
“There’s an element of importance there, and I think
there are a couple of ways to do it. You can get guys to
swing the bat by getting action in front of them. If we have
runners on first and second, they’re going to have to pitch
to Mike Trout. The other way is having Albert Pujols
swinging the bat well. They’re adding fuel to the fire, by
still having to pitch to a really good hitter.”
Rob Holt/SportPics

Chris Young, Boston Red Sox outfielder: “Not every at-


“There are times, no doubt, where we go through the lineup bat, but if you have 600 in a season, I guarantee you that
in a game and there’s a guy we don’t want to let beat us. But 50 will be affected. If it’s a big situation and you have one
when you say, ‘Oh, this guy is going to get more fastballs of the best hitters in the game hitting behind you, you can
because he has so and so behind him’… I don’t think that’s be more certain that he’s going to come to you—or at least
necessarily the case. You pitch to that guy.” he’s going to try to come to you. Whether or not he can exe-
cute the pitch is on him. Pitchers are definitely trying to go
after whomever they feel is the weaker link.
them, and they’re going to tell you they get more pitches to “If you have nobody on, and there are two outs, they’re
hit. They’ll tell you, ‘I’m going to get a ton of fastballs.’ I going to pitch to you like they’re going to pitch to you. But
think that’s pretty universal. if there are runners on second and third, and two outs,
“On the other hand, there have been guys in the past they’re not going to want to walk you to get to a guy who is
who have been on tears—or they’re really accomplished a hot hitter. Normally, teams are trying to avoid at least
hitters—and for whatever reason, I don’t have much prob- one hitter in a lineup. You hear it all the time: ‘Don’t let so
lem. And then there are guys who maybe aren’t hitting all and so beat you.’ If the game is on the line, you don’t have
that well, but they have success against me. That dictates much choice but to go after the guy hitting in front of him,
how I approach it as much as anything.” and that’s going to give you better pitches to hit.” BD
September/October 2017 39
Defensive
Efficiency
Improving in the win-loss column can often be
directly related to how a team progresses defensively
By Mike Berardino

he bar was set during the first week of the 2017

T season. That’s when Byron Buxton and his fel-


low Minnesota Twins outfielders started openly
sharing their new mantra of confidence and
determination: “Nothing falls but the rain.”
“That’s his line, not my line,” first-year Twins outfield
coach Jeff Pickler says with a chuckle. “I’m not big on one-
liners. I think Byron brought that with him from Triple-A,
and it’s a good one. If they want to embrace that, I think
that’s great.”
Playing a step or two more shallow than most other out-
fields, the youthful trio of the 23-year-old Buxton in cen-
ter, 24-year-old Max Kepler in right and 25-year-old Eddie spots as
Rosario in left had maintained a standard of defensive well, from 25th
excellence that had helped the surprising Twins remain in to 22nd, as 34-year-old
contention through the All-Star break and beyond. Joe Mauer (14 scoops) was saving
According to BaseballProspectus.com in late July, errors for the club’s youthful left side of the
Twins outfielders had converted 89.4 percent of flyballs infield, third baseman Miguel Sano and shortstop
into outs, ranking them eighth-best in the majors. Just a Jorge Polanco, friends since their earliest baseball days in
year earlier, when the Twins posted a franchise-worst 103 the famed Dominican Republic town of San Pedro de
losses, their outfielders had converted flyballs into outs Macoris.
just 88.0 percent of the time, third-worst in the majors. Twins third-base coach Gene Glynn, who coordinates
No longer were Twins pitchers forced to watch harmless the infield, says Mauer is as good defensively as any first
flares fall in for demoralizing singles, now with diving baseman he’s worked with in his long career, and that
grabs becoming the norm. At the same time, Buxton’s includes the likes of Mark Grace, Andres Galarraga, J.T.
complete disregard for his own health and safety in throw- Snow and Todd Helton.
ing himself into outfield walls across the league went a Overall, the Twins’ defensive efficiency had climbed
long way toward earning him his first nod as the Twins’ from 29th out of 30 big-league teams last season to 13th
Heart and Hustle Award winner, as voted by members of this season at the All-Star break, and the Twins see even
the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association. more potential on that side of the ball.
“You go as hard as you can while you can,” Buxton says. “I think we can be better, to be honest with you,” Twins
“I know I can’t play this game forever, so I just go out there manager Paul Molitor says. “Our outfield has played well.
and play as hard as I can and try to get everything I can.” Our infield, particularly the left side, has played better
How much pride do Twins outfielders take as a group in than expected. As good as our defense has been, I still
their defensive abilities? think there’s room for improvement.”
“We take it very seriously to go out there and help our The Twins are hardly the only surprise playoff con-
pitcher out any way we can to keep his pitch count down, tenders riding defensive improvement to their newfound
as well to get back in there and swing the bats,” Buxton perch. Similarly, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado
says. “Any play that could possibly be close, we’ve been Rockies, bidding to grab both National League wild-card
diving for. Even if we miss it, we know we’ve got backup.” spots, have surged on the defensive side with a few subtle
Defensive efficiency on the infield had crept up a few tweaks and improved use of the shift.

40 September/October 2017
BYRON
BUXTON

Photos by SportPics
MAX
The defensive KEPLER
improvement of
the Minnesota
Twins in 2017
helped keep the
club in contention
in the Central
Division during
the first half
of the season.

September/October 2017 41
“Absolutely, as a
NOLAN
ARENADO
group we’re taking
more pride and
we’re making our
plays. I think our
pitching has been a
big part of that, our
(increased) ground-
balls. Winning helps,
too. When you’re
in the lead you go
DJ LEMAHIEU a little bit harder
because you want to
make sure you
secure that lead.”
—Nolan Arenado

The Diamondbacks went from dead last in defensive Veteran manager Bud Black, in his first year with the
efficiency last season to seventh at this year’s break. Rockies along with bench coach Mike Redmond, has
“I didn’t know those numbers, but now that you men- empowered his fielders by actually easing off the shift at
tion it, yeah, it definitely makes sense,” D-backs third times.
baseman Jake Lamb says. “We’ve been playing some pret- “The good thing is Bud Black hasn’t totally bought into
ty good defense all around. I think our positioning is bet- the shift,” Arenado says. “We like doing it, but not as
ter, our shift and having confidence in those shifts.” much. He’s kind of old-school with the double plays and
First-year manager Torey Lovullo, bench coach Ron making sure everybody’s still in double-play order, which
Gardenhire and infield instructor Tony Perezchica have I like. It’s a credit to the pitchers. They’re getting ground-
helped Arizona infielders grow more comfortable with the balls and giving us a chance to make plays. In the past, it
shift. was either balls in the gap or home runs.”
“Even at times where we’re not sure, Torey has so much Rockies closer Greg Holland, who signed during the
confidence in what he says that you just believe him,” offseason, knows what a top-level defense can mean
Lamb says. “Sometimes you might not agree with him, but from his time with the Kansas City Royals. You can’t
he’s so confident and then it ends up working out. That’s fault him for having flashbacks—the good kind—while
the first lesson: Don’t doubt the skipper.” trying to end an eight-year postseason drought at Coors
The Rockies had improved 10 spots in overall defensive Field.
efficiency during the first half, jumping from 28th in 2016 “I’ve been spoiled in my career so far,” Holland says. “I
to 18th. Their rate of converting groundballs into outs had knew the Rockies had a good defense before I signed
gone from 19th in the majors to fifth. there, but you can’t fully enjoy what Nolan does at third
“Absolutely, as a group we’re taking more pride and base or what DJ (LeMahieu) does at second base until you
we’re making our plays,” says Rockies third baseman get to see it live. We’ve got guys all over the field that are
Nolan Arenado, favored to win his fifth straight Rawlings just really good and really athletic.”
Gold Glove Award. “I think our pitching has been a big That nightly show has helped the Colorado pitching
part of that, our (increased) groundballs. Winning helps, staff shave its batting average on balls in play from last
too. When you’re in the lead you go a little bit harder year’s .317, third-highest in the majors, to .299 this season
because you want to make sure you secure that lead.” as of July 21, good for a jump of eight spots among MLB

42 September/October 2017
“We have
great defenders.
We have amazing
guys in the infield,
MARWIN
guys who are
GONZALEZ
fast in the outfield
that can run it down,
that can throw it.
CARLOS
CORREA
That has a lot to
do with it, too.”
—Lance McCullers

Photos by SportPics
clubs. In Arizona, the defensive BABIP had dropped 27 analytics, and I’m a huge fan of all the groundbreaking
points, while the Twins had lowered their mark by 23 technology that we have and that the game continues to
points. unveil.
“I think the biggest thing is understanding most teams “But I think when the shift came along, it was a good
aren’t going to get five or six hits in a row to beat you, so idea, it was a good concept. But I think now we have a bet-
don’t walk anybody,” Holland says. “Make them put the ter understanding of how to shift and the guys who may
ball in play because you’ve got a good defense behind you. adjust to the shift and try to hit through it, which I think is
You don’t really understand just how good the defense is why now, in season three or four of the full-time shift,
until you see it work.” we’re seeing a lot better defensive metrics.”
Similarly, after winning an average of 85 games the past Pair that with some of the best athletes in the game,
two seasons, the Houston Astros took a major step forward including a highly underrated super utilityman in Marwin
this season in part because of vastly improved defensive Gonzalez: “Marwin is an unbelievable defender,”
efficiency. McCullers says. “He legitimately could win a Gold Glove at
After ranking 26th overall in that department in 2016, like three different positions.” And the Astros’ rise to elite
the Astros, last seen obliterating the competition in the status was almost unavoidable.
American League West, had soared all the way to 14th. “We have great defenders,” McCullers says. “We have
They had accomplished this with solid progress in both amazing guys in the infield, guys who are fast in the out-
the outfield (27th to 21st) and infield (10th to fourth), field that can run it down, that can throw it. That has a lot
where Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve and friends were scoop- to do with it, too. I just think, when it comes to the shift,
ing up 77.3 percent of grounders and converting them into there’s a better feel for it now. There’s more data, there’s
outs. more things coaches can go back to and they can see and
As a result, Astros pitchers had seen their BABIP drop they can understand instead of just automatically shifting
from .306 a year ago to .293 this season, through games of everyone.” BD
July 21.
“I think we have kind of found a nice blend of the shift,” Mike Berardino covers the Minnesota Twins for the St.
Astros All-Star right-hander Lance McCullers says. “I’m Paul Pioneer Press. He is a frequent contributor to Baseball
going to be careful. I’m a huge fan of sabermetrics and Digest.
September/October 2017 43
MLB’S
BEST
SECOND
BASEMEN
Heading the list of the top second sackers at the
big-league level are Houston’s Jose Altuve,
Seattle’s Robinson Cano and Washington’s Daniel Murphy

DANIEL JOSE
MURPHY ALTUVE
Photos by SportPics

Robinson Cano (8), Jose Altuve (5) and Daniel Murphy (3) have all been selected as All-Star performers
and each has captured the Silver Slugger Award as the top offensive player as a second baseman.

44 September/October 2017
By Bruce Miles
en Zobrist has a unique perspective. The do-

B everything man and reigning World Series MVP


from the Chicago Cubs has played a lot of second
base and seen a lot of second basemen in both leagues.
He also knows that while second base has become more
of an “offensive” position over the years, it’s an underrated
position defensively. Shortstops are considered top ath-
letes and third base is “the hot corner.”
But things get pretty heated at second when a runner is
bearing down trying to break up a potential double play.
“I always found it, as a shortstop, that it’s easier to turn the
double play from the shortstop position than second base,
just because of the change of directions and having to learn
how to protect yourself when you can’t see the guy at all
coming at you,” Zobrist said. “You’ve got to feel the timing of
the runner. Know the runner. Know the play as it develops
where you need to be around the bag and then, of course,
find the ball when it comes out of the player’s hand. All of
those things, I think, make the turn at second base proba-
bly one of the toughest plays to make in the infield.”
So there’s a lot going on with second basemen. With
that in mind, here is a look at a list of today’s top 10
second basemen:

1
JOSE ALTUVE, HOUSTON ASTROS
Altuve indeed proves the adage that
good things do come in small packages.
At 5-foot-6, 165 pounds, Altuve is the shortest
player in the major leagues, but inch for inch
and pound for pound, he’s one of the top
players in the game at any position.
All Altuve has done since making his 2011
debut for the Astros is win batting titles in
2014 (.341) and 2016 (.338). He also led the
American League in hits each year from
2014-16... and was pacing the A.L. with 151
hits through Aug. 3 of this season. He started
the 2017 All-Star Game in Miami, making him a
five-time All-Star in seven big-league campaigns.
Altuve also has become an on-base machine,
upping his walks total from 33 in 2015 to 60 last year.
He has flashed good pop at the plate, with 24 homers
last year, contributing to a .928 OPS. Much of Altuve’s
early development with the Astros came under hit-
ting coach John Mallee, who became the Cubs hit-
ting coach before the 2015 season.
“The kid didn’t have the fear to make the adjust-
ments,” Mallee said. “He could have been con-
tent with a .280 the year before (.283 in 2013). We
met in spring training and I said, ‘This is what
you need to improve. You want to keep doing
what you’re doing, and you’re going to be a real-
ly good player.’ He said, ‘I want to be the best
player.’ I said, ‘OK, let’s go.’ He didn’t have the
fear of taking two steps back to make this one
step forward. That’s one of the reasons he
ended up becoming the batting champion.”
His defense has come along, too.
“I think when he first came into the
league, he wasn’t as good as he is now,
defensively,” Zobrist said. “I think he’s got-
ten a lot better the last few years.”
September/October 2017 45
3
DANIEL MURPHY, WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Murphy burst onto the national scene by tearing
up the National League playoffs in 2015, hitting
three homers against the Dodgers in the Division Series and
four against the Cubs in the NLCS.
Murphy was another player who raised eyebrows when
he signed a three-year, $37.5-million deal with the
Washington Nationals in January 2016.
DUSTIN All he has done is make two All-Star teams in the first two
PEDROIA
years of the deal. He led the N.L. in doubles (47) last year,

SportPics
and also contributed 25 homers, 104 RBI and a National
League-leading .985 OPS.
Although Murphy doesn’t have the defensive reputation

2
ROBINSON CANO, SEATTLE MARINERS as other second basemen, his offensive production is too
Oh, how the critics howled when Cano signed a 10- good to ignore.
year, $240-million contract with the Seattle Mariners “He swings the bat better than anybody right now at sec-
in December 2013, leaving the New York Yankees. ond base, I think even better than Altuve,” Zobrist said.
No way, the critics said, would Cano thrive offensively in “Altuve has been phenomenal with the bat for several years
Safeco Field. now, but I think Murphy the last two years, obviously a
Those critics were wrong, and Cano may have been hap- switch has been flipped and he’s turned into such an offen-
pily pointing at them when he rounded the bases celebrat- sive threat from that position. I think he’s better than any-
ing his 10th-inning home run that lifted the American body right now.”
League to a 2-1 victory in this year’s All-Star Game.

4
Cano’s power numbers took a slight dip in his first year DUSTIN PEDROIA, BOSTON RED SOX
with the Mariners, but they’ve risen each year. He hit 39 Pedroia turned 34 in August, but still has the
homers a year ago and had 17 this year at the break. undying respect of a veteran like Zobrist.
Now an eight-time All-Star, Cano, 34, has surpassed 2,300 “I think he’s really, really, really good,” Zobrist said. “He’s
hits, 500 doubles and was closing in on 300 homers—and always been really solid there. He is hard to beat. He turns
appears to be on his way to Cooperstown. the ball really well, gets to a lot of plays. He comes in on the

DJ
LEMAHIEU Second Basemen Who
Have Won Batting Titles
(1901-2016)
AMERICAN LEAGUE
Year Player, Team BA
1901 Nap Lajoie, A’s .426
1902 Nap Lajoie, A’s/Indians .378
1903 Nap Lajoie, Indians .344
1904 Nap Lajoie, Indians .376
1910 Nap Lajoie, Indians .384
1935 Buddy Myer, Senators .349
1937 Charlie Gehringer, Tigers .371
1945 Snuffy Stirnweiss, Yankees .309
1954 Bobby Avila, Indians .341
NAP LAJOIE
1960 Pete Runnels, Red Sox .320
1969 Rod Carew, Twins .332
1972 Rod Carew, Twins .318
1973 Rod Carew, Twins .350
1974 Rod Carew, Twins .364
1975 Rod Carew, Twins .359
1991 Julio Franco, Rangers .341
2014 Jose Altuve, Astros .341
SportPics

2016 Jose Altuve, Astros .338

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Year Player, Team BA ROD CAREW
1915 Larry Doyle, Giants .320
1920 Rogers Hornsby, Cardinals .370
1921 Rogers Hornsby, Cardinals .397
1922 Rogers Hornsby, Cardinals .401
1923 Rogers Hornsby, Cardinals .384
1924 Rogers Hornsby, Cardinals .424
1925 Rogers Hornsby, Cardinals .403
1928 Rogers Hornsby, Braves .387
1949 Jackie Robinson, Dodgers .342
SportPics 2015 Dee Gordon, Marlins .333
2016 DJ LeMahieu, Rockies .348 ROGERS HORNSBY
46 September/October 2017
7
ball probably better than anybody.” DJ LEMAHIEU, COLORADO ROCKIES
Pedroia is a four-time Gold Glove winner, and if there’s The number of former Chicago Cubs or Cubs
one thing you can say about his offense, it’s that he has been prospects keeps growing on this list. LeMahieu was
remarkably consistent for his career. His batting average has part of a trade by the then-new Theo Epstein regime, which
hovered near .300 over the years, his on-base percentage sent LeMahieu and others to the Rockies for third baseman
has been in the mid- to high-.300s, and his OPS has been in Ian Stewart.
the high .700s or well into the .800s. That did not work out well for the Cubs.
He also has the intangible of being a “heart-and-soul” All LeMahieu has done is capture a Gold Glove, win a bat-
player that teammates love. ting title and make two All-Star teams for the Rockies.
While LeMahieu isn’t going to wow anybody with his

5
JOSH HARRISON, PITTSBURGH PIRATES defense, baseball people say he is as fundamentally sound a
The Chicago Cubs may not have known what player as there is in the game, and that his throws to first
they were giving up when they traded then- base are always “right there.” That’s perhaps a result of his
prospect Harrison to the Pirates in a deal that brought baseball upbringing at LSU.
pitchers Tom Gorzelanny and John At the All-Star break, LeMahieu was a
Grabow to Chicago. Neither of those .301 hitter for his career. He hit .348 last
pitchers made an impact with the Cubs, year to win the N.L. batting title in a season
but Harrison has become a mainstay in in which he also ranked second in the
Pittsburgh, and he has made two All- league with a .417 OBP and posted a career-
Star teams. best .495 slugging percentage. Never a big-
Harrison’s power numbers are on the time power threat, LeMahieu hits hard line
rise this season. He had 10 homers by the drives, a big plus for any player who plays
All-Star break after hitting only four in his home games at Coors Field.
each of the past two seasons. His OBP at

8
the break (.361) was higher than it was JONATHAN SCHOOP
during his previous All-Star season of BALTIMORE ORIOLES
2014, when he had an on-base reading of While everybody was watching
.347. Altuve and Cano in the American
He ranked third in Wins Above JONATHAN League, they had quiet company at this
Replacement (WAR) among second base- SCHOOP SportPics
year’s All-Star Game in Schoop.
men at the break, behind only Altuve Schoop, who turns 26 in October, was
and Murphy. signed as an amateur free agent by the
O’s in 2008, out of Curacao. After clubbing 25 homers and

6
STARLIN CASTRO, NEW YORK YANKEES driving in 82 runs in 2016, he had 24 homers and 79 RBI
What will it take for Starlin Castro to get any through Aug. 3 this year. But more impressive has been his
respect? For much of his early career with the increased walk rate and markedly higher OBP.
Cubs, he was labeled as a great talent, but one who did not

9
always focus. JASON KIPNIS, CLEVELAND INDIANS
Don’t look now, but Castro now has made four All-Star It would be hard to write off Kipnis because of a bad
teams (three as a shortstop), and was almost halfway to first half, so we won’t do that here. If anyone can be
2,500 hits at the break at age 27. Despite two stints on the called one of the faces of a franchise, it’s Kipnis in Cleveland.
disabled list late in the 2017 season, Castro had 12 first-half Last year, Kipnis helped lead the Indians to within one
home runs and an OPS of .835, which would be a career game of a World Series championship before the Cubs came
best. He also held a .307 batting average through his first 79 roaring back to win it. He had concentrated on lifting the
games, which would mark his highest since 2011. ball, and it paid off with a career-best 23 homers.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon benched Castro for a short This season Kipnis has been bothered by shoulder, neck
time in 2015, and then moved him off shortstop to second and hamstring injuries. He started the year on the DL and
base to accommodate Addison Russell. It may have been the then started slowly at the plate, but had been swinging the bat
best thing for Castro, who found a home at second after the well before a mid-July return to the DL for a hamstring strain.
Cubs traded him to the Yankees.

10
“He’s been great,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said BRANDON DRURY, ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
when his team visited Wrigley Field this season. “He’s It may be hard to get noticed playing in the
had a lot of big hits for us. He’s played very well for us. desert Southwest, but Drury is opening some
He loves to play the game. Those kinds of things you eyes. The third-year man who came over in a 2013 trade with
could see sometimes from afar, but there’s a toughness Atlanta has been consistent at the plate and has shown signs
there within Starlin that I’ve seen that really impresses of steady improvement in the field.
me. Drury batted .282/.329/.458 with 16 homers and 53 RBI last
“I just think it’s his personality. He loves to play. He has year. At the 2017 season’s midpoint, he was halfway to that
fun. He laughs. He smiles. He’s very personable. And he home-run total and had 40 RBI.
plays hard. I think that’s probably the biggest reason. Those Having turned 25 in August, he is just now coming into his
are all good reasons. He’s still young. It seems like he’s been own. Drury has played a big part in the Diamondbacks
playing forever. But he’s still a young player.” emerging as a playoff contender. BD
September/October 2017 47
BASEBALL QUICK QUIZ ANSWERS ON PAGE 62

Collect 10 points for each question answered correctly.


(If you score 80 or better, you’re a Hall of Famer; 70 or better,
MVP; between 60 and 70, All-Star; and 40 to 60, a minor leaguer.)

Since moving to Atlanta for the 1966 season, 10 different


1 players have had a 40-homer season for the Braves.
Collect one point for each of these sluggers you can identify.
ICHIRO
SUZUKI
Thirteen shortstops have won league MVP honors
2 since 1931, when the Baseball Writers’ Association
of America began voting for the award. Collect 10
points if you can identify seven of these 13 shortstops.

Name the five players with 500 or more career


3 home runs who hit a postseason home run as a member of the New York
Yankees. Collect two points for each player you identify correctly.

Despite totaling more than 3,000 career hits, Ichiro Suzuki has never played on
4 a World Series championship team. Excluding Cap Anson, who played before the
World Series started in 1903, nine other members of the 3,000 hit club never played
for a World Series-winning team. Name five of these nine players to collect 10 points.

Rogers Hornsby is one of three men to have a 40-homer


5 season as a player and win a World Series as a manager.
Collect five points for each of the other two men you can
identify who matched this achievement.

Who is the only player to win All-Star Game Most


6 Valuable Player honors and the World Series MVP
Award in the same season: Cal Ripken, Derek Jeter, Reggie
DID YOU KNOW . . . that Jose Altuve CAL RIPKEN
is one of only eight major-league players Jackson or Steve Garvey?
to lead his league in hits for three or more
Which pitcher holds the record for most postseason
consecutive seasons? In 2017, he could join
Ichiro Suzuki as the only players to lead
their league in four successive campaigns.
7 wins with 19: Curt Schilling, John Smoltz, Andy Pettitte or
Tom Glavine?
AMERICAN LEAGUE
No. Player, Team Years Which slugger holds the record for most home runs
5
3
3
Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
Ty Cobb, Tigers
Tony Oliva, Twins
2006-2010
1907-1909
1964-1966
8 in one League Championship Series with six:
Daniel Murphy, Carlos Beltran, Albert Pujols or
3 Kirby Puckett, Twins 1987-1989
3 Jose Altuve, Astros 2014-2016
Nelson Cruz?

Paul Molitor is one of two players who hold


9
NATIONAL LEAGUE
No. Player, Team Years
3 Ginger Beaumont, Pirates 1902-1904 the record for most runs scored in one World
3 Rogers Hornsby, Cardinals 1920-1922 Series, when he crossed the plate 10 times for the
3 Frank McCormick, Reds 1938-1940
Blue Jays in the 1993 Fall Classic. Who is the only
JOSE other player to score 10 runs in one World Series:
ALTUVE Reggie Jackson, Babe Ruth, Pete Rose or
Rickey Henderson?

Former Orioles pitcher Dave


10 McNally hit two World Series
home runs during his career—one in DANIEL
1969 against the Mets and one in 1970
MURPHY
versus the Reds. Who is the only
Photos by SportPics

other pitcher with two home runs


in World Series competition:
Mickey Lolich, Bob Gibson, Ken
Holtzman or Lew Burdette? BOB GIBSON
48 September/October 2017
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TURN BACK
THE CLOCK

A Pennant
Race for
the Ages
When the Red Sox,
Twins, Tigers and
White Sox chased the
prize to the very end

JIM
LONBORG

50 September/October 2017
By Thom Henninger
In 1967, Jim Lonborg and

1967.
Carl Yastrzemski helped
guide the Red Sox to The Summer of Love. The Beatles released
their first pennant in 21 “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” that
years. Lonborg won the
June as the music scene turned psychedelic.
Cy Young Award with a
22-9 record whileYaz won What was a summer of love to some, however, was a long, hot
American League MVP summer for others.
honors and the Triple The day after the 1967 All-Star Game—a National League vic-
Crown, hitting .326 with
44 homers and 121 RBI.
tory courtesy of Tony Perez’ 15th-inning home run in Anaheim—
rioting broke out in a two-square mile area of central Newark.
Soon anger boiled over in African American communities across
America, frustrated by a lack of adequate jobs, housing and polit-
ical representation for their neighborhoods. Violence erupted in
Detroit, Cleveland and Cincinnati, Buffalo and Birmingham,
Nashville, Louisville, Minneapolis and Wichita.
In the midst of that extraordinary summer, four American
League teams staged one of the most dramatic pennant races in
league history. The Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, Minnesota
Twins and Boston Red Sox chased the A.L. flag down to the final
weekend in 1967. The Tigers, Twins and Red Sox battled into the
final hours.
In the heat of the race, Tigers slugger Willie Horton, who grew
up in Detroit’s Jeffries Projects, headed to the inner-city’s war
zone after his team split a mid-July doubleheader at Tiger
Stadium. Still in uniform, Horton stood atop a car on Detroit’s
12th Street and begged people to stop the violence.
In 1966, the Baltimore Orioles, a power-laden club with a
promising young rotation, had swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in
the World Series. A favorite going into ’67, the Orioles were never
a contender and finished nine games under .500. While the O’s
struggled that spring, the White Sox and Tigers started fast.
The White Sox contended with strong pitching and defense.
Starters Joe Horlen, a 19-game winner and the league’s 1967 ERA
champion, Gary Peters and Tommy John pitched quality innings
all season. The 1967 staff posted a 2.45 ERA that remains the
majors’ lowest single-season team mark since the end of the

67
dead-ball era nearly a century ago.
Chicago’s lineup, however, lacked star power and struggled to
score, franchise shortcomings throughout the 1960s. The 1967
club batted a meager .225 and Pete Ward led Chicago with 18
homers and 62 RBI. Yet, the White Sox jumped past Detroit into
first place on June 11 with a doubleheader sweep of the New York
Yankees—a lead the Sox maintained for two months with other
contenders nipping at their heels.
The Tigers had won 89 and 88 games in the two previous sea-
CARL
sons—good for distant finishes in the A.L.—but winning 91
YASTRZEMSKI
games in 1967 kept them in the race to the final out. Earl Wilson,
acquired from Boston in ’66, won a career-high 22 games under
the tutelage of new Tigers pitching coach Johnny Sain in ’67.
Wilson teamed with Denny McLain, Mickey Lolich and Joe
Sparma in the rotation, and Sain, who oversaw career years by
several 1960s pitchers, worked his magic on the young, impres-
sionable McLain.
Unlike Chicago, the 1967 Tigers had plenty of pop. Four Tigers
connected on 20-plus homers—future Hall of Famer Al Kaline,
Norm Cash, Dick McAuliffe and Bill Freehan—and Horton, the
homegrown slugger, drilled 19.
That summer at age 32, Kaline had his last great season, pop-
ping 25 homers and posting a .952 OPS, his highest since winning
the A.L. batting crown as a 20-year-old rookie in 1955. Arguably
1955 and 1967 were his two best seasons in a 22-year career.
After the Twins were a major disappointment in ’66, owner Cal
WILLIE MAYS

September/October 2017 51
1967
he directed a young, injury-ravaged Twins club to the 1965
TURN BACK A.L. pennant. Griffith hired Cal Ermer, which didn’t pay

THE CLOCK immediate dividends, but the Twins won 12 of 15 leading


up to the All-Star break, allowing them to close in on first-
place Chicago.
Griffith dealt two mainstays of his 1965 A.L. champi- The Red Sox, who had lost 90-plus games the three pre-
onship club, Don Mincher and Jimmie Hall. The big prize: vious years, were the dark horse. After the ’66 season, they
a new staff ace, Dean Chance, joining Jim Kaat and Jim hired Dick Williams, a no-nonsense, drill-sergeant type
“Mudcat” Grant to give the Twins three starters with who had never managed in the majors, to run a club that
recent 20-win seasons. The lineup still featured run pro- hadn’t posted a winning record since 1958. That didn’t
ducers Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva and Bob Allison, deter Williams from promising at his introduction: “We’ll
and 21-year-old Rod Carew made the club that spring and win more games than we lose.” In the minds of most
won Rookie of the Year honors. reporters present, that was setting the bar exceedingly
Yet, Minnesota stumbled along near .500 the first two high, bordering on nonsense.
months. Chance almost single-handedly kept the mis- Boston was a .500 club deep into June, an impressive
take-ridden Twins from a lengthy losing streak that could improvement but not a reason to anticipate a second-half
have ended all pennant hopes. After the Orioles roughed pennant push. The club’s pitching was suspect, but 25-
up Chance in his first Twins start, the lanky right-hander year-old Jim Lonborg, a Stanford grad who had foregone
reeled off seven straight wins. medical school to work atop a pile of dirt, broke through
With the Twins stuck in sixth place at 25-25 on June 8, with a career year, leading the A.L. with 22 wins (along
Griffith fired skipper Sam Mele, less than two years after with Wilson) and 246 strikeouts. Gary Bell, who arrived
from Cleveland in an early-June trade, won 12 games as
In September 1967, Boston surged.
Detroit remained in the
pennant race due to The Red Sox were 41-39 and six games off the pace at
strong performances the All-Star break. A 10-game winning streak soon moved
by Mickey Lolich, who them into contention and spurred a league-best 51-31 sec-
went 6-1 with three
ond-half mark.
AL shutouts and a 1.59
At times Carl Yastrzemski seemingly carried the team,
ERA, and Al Kaline,
KALINE who hit .337 over the repeatedly delivering key hits and driving in big runs—
final month. especially after the Red Sox lost young slugger Tony
Conigliaro to a grisly beaning in August. The man who
had replaced Ted Williams in left field six years earlier
was at his best down the stretch and won the Triple
Crown, batting .326 with 44 homers and 121 RBI. Over the
final month, Yaz hit .417 with nine homers and 26 RBI in
27 games.
Tony Perez’ dramatic All-Star Game homer set the stage
for a wild second half. When play resumed, the White Sox
led the Tigers by two games, the Twins by two-and-a-half.
The Red Sox returned to
action by splitting a twinbill
with Baltimore, then ran off
10 straight victories. The
other contenders stumbled
in July, but Chicago’s two-
month run atop the A.L
standings extended into
August.
SportPics

MICKEY LOLICH
SportPics

52 September/October 2017
Sept. 19, only they and the Twins led the league. When
Chance claimed his 20th win in a 9-4 Twins victory over
the Yankees on Sunday, Sept. 24, the Twins were leading
Boston by a half-game, Detroit by a game, and Chicago a
game-and-a-half, heading into the final week.
The White Sox, with their rotation firing on all cylin-
ders, still had a shot at the pennant. They were off to
Kansas City for two games with the last-place A’s before
returning home for three against the below-.500
Washington Senators. But it was on that Sunday, with just
a week remaining, the White Sox won their last game of
1967. They were blanked three times and scored just five
runs in their final five games.
The Tigers opened the final week at Yankee Stadium and

SportPics
JIM LONBORG closed with four at home against the California Angels. They
were in the race to the end, thanks to southpaw Mickey
Lolich, who tossed shutouts in his last three starts. After the
First place was on the line, though, when the White Sox Tigers had dropped both weekend contests to the Senators,
and Twins kicked off a weekend series on Aug. 11 in he kept his team in the race by outdueling Yankees ace Mel
Minnesota. Pennant fever swept through the Twin Cities, Stottlemyre for a 1-0 win on Tuesday, Sept. 26.
and with near-capacity crowds at Metropolitan Stadium, Monday had been an off day for the Red Sox, who still
the Twins swept the three-game set to take a half-game moved back into a first-place tie when the Angels
lead over the White Sox. trounced the Twins, 9-2. Minnesota and Boston now had
First place became a game of musical chairs. Soon the four games remaining and their seasons would end with

67
Twins lost four in a row and the White Sox scrambled back two games at Fenway Park.
to the top. The Twins reemerged on Aug. 25 when Dean The Twins went a game up on Tuesday with a 7-3 victory
Chance no-hit Cleveland, but the Twins fell to Cleveland over the Angels and Boston’s loss to eighth-place Cleveland.
the following day—and when the Red Sox beat up on Joe “We’re running out of tomorrows,” Red Sox skipper Dick
Horlen and the White Sox, they claimed first place. Williams barked after the loss, his team’s third in its last five
Boston’s lead over the Twins was a mere half-game, but games. This was one race, however, when there always was
it was a noteworthy achievement. That day, Aug. 26, 1967, another tomorrow… until the season’s final out.
marked the first time the Red Sox topped the A.L. stand- Both clubs lost the following day, so the Twins headed
ings at day’s end since the final days of the 1949 season, to Fenway Park with a one-game lead and likely needing
when they lost their last two games to the Yankees and just one win in two games to advance to their second
finished second, a game behind New York. After such a World Series in three years. The Tigers still had a chance,
long wait, sole possession of first place lasted a single day. but after being rained out at Tiger Stadium on both
It was only right that on Sept. 7, the four contenders Thursday and Friday, were forced to play doubleheaders
were virtually tied for first place: with the Angels on Saturday and Sunday. They were a
game-and-a-half back.
AMERICAN LEAGUE STANDINGS Fenway Park was a madhouse. After two mostly disap-
(through games of Wednesday, September 6) pointing decades, Red Sox fans came out in full force,
W –L PCT rooting their team to complete what had been tagged
Chicago 78-61 .561 “The Impossible Dream,” after the hit song from the musi-
Minnesota 78-61 .561 cal “Man of La Mancha.” A World Series atmosphere greet-
Boston 79-62 .560 ed the Twins. “I had never heard a crowd holler like that,”
Detroit 79-62 .560 said Twins closer Al Worthington in a 2010 interview.
TOMMY JOHN
“They hollered from the first inning through the whole
The White Sox never held even a share of first place the night.”
rest of the way, though they stayed close and were well
positioned to win the pennant heading into the final BOB ALLISON HARMON KILLEBREW
week. The pitching staff carried the load in September.
Horlen no-hit the Tigers on Sept. 10 at Comiskey Park,
ending Detroit’s four-day stay atop the standings with the
first of six White Sox shutouts in a 12-game span.
The Tigers retook the top spot on Saturday, Sept. 16, but
the season’s penultimate week began with the Red Sox
defeating them in their final two 1967 matchups. Before
large, boisterous crowds at Tiger Stadium, the Tigers
coughed up ninth-inning leads both nights. They fell
from first to fourth and never again led the league, though
they went into the season’s final day with a chance to fin-
ish in a first-place tie.
After the Red Sox defeated the Tigers a second time on
September/October 2017 53
1967
TURN BACK base some way,” Williams said, “any way.”
Acting on his own, Lonborg laid a bunt down the third-
THE CLOCK base line. With Cesar Tovar playing deep at third, Lonborg
legged out a hit. Then everything unraveled for the Twins.
Jim Kaat, with seven straight wins and a 1.56 ERA in Adair, Dalton Jones and Yastrzemski all singled, and Yaz’
September, got the call for Minnesota. Facing elimination, shot over second base chased home Adair and Jones to tie
Williams might have used staff ace Jim Lonborg on two the game. Chance did not survive the inning. Before it was
days’ rest, but instead called on righty Jose Santiago, a over, the Red Sox had tallied five runs, aided by a botched
swingman who had made just 10 starts in 1967 but pitched fielder’s choice play, two Worthington wild pitches and a
brilliantly in August and September. Killebrew error at first.
The Twins stroked three first-inning hits off Santiago to take Lonborg went the distance for the pennant-clinching vic-
a 1-0 lead, but left the bases loaded and lost out on a big inning. tory. Trailing 5-2, the Twins took one last shot in the eighth,
When Kaat threw a third strike past Santiago to open the third, when Killebrew and Oliva singled with two outs to put run-
he felt a pop in his throwing elbow. He had damaged the liga- ners on the corners. Bob Allison came through by pulling a
ment that could be fixed years later by Tommy John surgery. pitch down the third-base line that headed for the corner.
His season was over and he would pitch with the injury for sev- Had the ball gotten by Yastrzemski in the corner, Allison’s
eral years before fully recovering. hit would have scored two and
Nearly 45 years later, Kaat fondly CARL pulled the Twins within one.
YASTRZEMSKI
recalled his contribution to that his- Yastrzemski instinctively dashed
toric pennant race. “I think proba- for the foul line to cut the ball off.
bly the most satisfying month of He backhanded it just as he reached
pitching I ever had was September the grandstand along the line, used
of ’67,” said Kaat. “It was far and the base of the grandstand wall to
away my best month of pitching.” brace his foot, and rifled a perfect
With the Twins still up 1-0, Jim throw to second base to retire
Perry replaced Kaat and kept Allison. Only Killebrew had crossed
Boston bats quiet until Red Sox the plate, making it 5-3, but the
rookie Reggie Smith doubled off rally was over. Within 15 minutes,
the base of the Green Monster lead- the Twins’ season was over, too.
ing off the fifth. Jerry Adair In Detroit, the Tigers won
dumped a bloop single into shallow Sunday’s first game, but the
right to score Smith with the tying David Durochik/SportPics
chance to play again went out the
run, and Yastrzemski put Boston in window when the Angels jumped
front with a hard-hit grounder to on Denny McLain and three reliev-
the right side on which Perry failed ers for eight runs in the nightcap’s
to cover first base. first four frames. The six-month
The Twins scratched for the A.L. marathon finally came to an
tying run in the sixth, but minutes later, Red Sox slugger end when the Angels wrapped up an 8-5 victory.
George Scott golfed Ron Kline’s first pitch over the Green Boston’s celebration began seconds after Sunday’s win.
Monster to put the Red Sox up 3-2. Fans flooded onto the field as Twins and Red Sox players
Boston all but put the game away in the seventh, when scattered to their clubhouses. A horde of fans reached
Yastrzemski launched a three-run homer into the right-field Lonborg on the mound before Boston’s infielders. Lonborg
bullpen for a 6-2 lead. The Red Sox held on for a 6-4 win, and couldn’t make it to the clubhouse and soon found himself
with one game to play, the two clubs were tied at 91-70. hoisted on the shoulders of excitable strangers.
In Detroit, Lolich tossed a three-hit shutout in the first “The whole of New England was on fire,” said Gary Bell,
game, positioning the Tigers to take first place by a half- who saved Saturday’s victory with two innings in relief. “I
game if they could claim the nightcap. But California’s six- lived just down the street in Kenmore Square. I can
run eighth inning erased Detroit’s 6-2 lead and dropped remember after we clinched on the last day there, I walked
the Tigers a half-game back. Still, if the Tigers swept over the bridge and down into Kenmore Square, and there
Sunday’s twinbill, they would finish in a tie with the win- was just nothing but people. Everything was stopped.
ner of the Minnesota-Boston finale. There were people going berserk. It was crazy.”
Sunday’s game at Fenway featured two of the league’s To this day, Yastrzemski, who went 4-for-4 and drove in
three 20-game winners, Lonborg and Chance, who had two runs in the finale, is most remembered by Red Sox
defeated the Red Sox four times in five starts in ’67. Lonborg, fans for his remarkable 1967 performance. It made quite
for his career, was 0-6 with a 7.12 ERA facing the Twins. an impression on teammates as well.
As on Saturday, the Twins scored in the first on Tony “I don’t think I’ve ever seen any ballplayer have a better
Oliva’s RBI double off the Monster. They added an unearned year,” former Twins and Red Sox starter Lee Stange said of
run in the third and still led 2-0 going into Boston’s half of his 1967 teammate. “If we needed to get a guy thrown out
the sixth. With Lonborg leading off, many managers might at second or thrown out at home, he did it. If we needed
have turned to a pinch-hitter. Even Lonborg thought his day somebody to make a heck of a catch, he made it. Needed a
might be over. He glanced at his manager as he approached base hit or needed a home run, and it seemed like he was
the bat rack, but was greeted with encouragement. “Get on always there. The right guy in the right spot.” BD

54 September/October 2017
THE GAME
I’LL NEVER
FORGET
By

BOBBY
RICHARDSON
as told to Marty Appel

Former Yankees second


baseman recalls Game 3 of the
1960 World Series, when he set
a Fall Classic record with six RBI
in a 10-0 New York victory over
the Pirates
ot many players can name their biggest

N hit and their biggest catch, and have the


good fortune for both to have been in a
World Series with millions looking on.
The biggest catch I ever made was the final out
of the 1962 World Series, when I moved quickly to
my left to snare a line drive by San Francisco’s
Willie McCovey, which gave the Yankees their last
world championship in what would prove to be a
15-year span.
It was sure an important catch, and it wasn’t
easy—it was hit hard by a Hall of Fame slugger.
But let’s face it, it was a play you had to make. It
was obviously within my range, and oh boy, if I
hadn’t caught it, we would have lost that Series
and I would be tucked away in baseball infamy.
So, it was good that I made the play, and good
that it is well remembered (except by Giants fans)
all these years later.
But the game I’ll never forget—because it was
so improbable—was the third game of the 1960
World Series, Yankees vs. Pittsburgh.
This was actually my fifth World Series. I’d had
cups of coffee in 1955 and 1956 with the Yankees,
but wasn’t on the eligible roster for those Subway
In Game 3 of the 1960 Series against Brooklyn. I had been on the roster
World Series, Bobby in both 1957 and 1958 against Milwaukee, but
Richardson set the
record for most RBI in
hadn’t played much—a total of just six of those 14
a Fall Classic contest games, all as a late-inning defensive replacement
with six. The mark has or pinch-runner.
been equaled by Hideki
I had become a regular in 1959, but we finished
Matsui (2009), Albert
Pujols (2011) and third that year. So, 1960 was my first opportunity
Addison Russell (2016). to start every game of the World Series, and hope-
fully, be a key contributor.
The first two games of the 1960 World Series
Hall of Fame

September/October 2017 55
THE GAME I’LL NEVER FORGET

were played at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. The city had not “There was no way I would assume it was gone—
hosted a World Series since 1927, when the legendary I had hit three career home runs at that point (two in
“Murderer’s Row” Yankees had swept the Pirates in four
1959 and one on April 30, 1960, my last one)—and
straight. “Beat ’em Bucs” signs were everywhere; the city
was basking in pennant fever. I had only hit one of those three in Yankee Stadium,
We split those games, losing the first one 6-4 before win- on Sept. 11, 1959. That made 649 at-bats in
ning the second game, 16-3. Much of the talk around the Yankee Stadium with one home run. So, no one
first game was Casey Stengel’s decision to bypass his vet- in the ballpark, including me, and including Betsy
eran ace Whitey Ford, and instead start Art Ditmar, who in the stands, was thinking home run.”
had led our pitching staff with 15 wins. Whitey was only 12-
9. Ditmar didn’t have it, and the second-guessing goes on
— Bobby Richardson
to this day. I batted eighth in both games and went 3-for-4 in Pittsburgh and were now back in Yankee Stadium. My
with a couple of RBI in Game 2. wife Betsy was with me—we had sent our kids home to
We flew back to New York after the 16-3 win, and we were South Carolina—and we still had our season’s rental home
obviously in a great state of mind, having split the games in Ridgewood, N. J. With the kids’ bedrooms vacant, a cou-
ple of teammates stayed with us out there rather than have
to pay for hotel rooms.
WORLD SERIES — GAME 3 On Tuesday morning, Oct. 8, we all drove over the
OCT. 8, 1960 AT YANKEE STADIUM George Washington Bridge, down the Major Deegan
Pittsburgh 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 4 0 Expressway and into the players’ lot on the first-base side
of the Stadium. It was business as usual in terms of these
New York 6 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 x — 10 16 1
routines, but it was different. The chill in the air meant
PITTSBURGH PIRATES
AB R H RBI “World Series weather,” and it meant we would wear our
Bill Virdon, cf 4 0 1 0 dark blue sweatshirts under our jerseys. I liked that look.
Dick Groat, ss 4 0 0 0 I looked at the lineup card taped to the wall of the
Roberto Clemente, rf 4 0 1 0
Dick Stuart, 1b 4 0 1 0
dugout as we headed out for batting practice, and, pre-
Gino Cimoli, lf 3 0 0 0 dictably, I was slotted in at eighth again.
Hal Smith, c 3 0 0 0 I was the team’s player representative, so I had some
Don Hoak, 3b 3 0 0 0
last-minute duties involving family tickets. I was still
Bill Mazeroski, 2b 3 0 1 0
Fred Green p 1 0 0 0 embarrassed that as player rep, I had the job of organizing
Gene Baker ph 1 0 0 0 the team photo for the cover of the World Series program—
Dick Schofield, ph 1 0 0 0 and then I forgot the time and wasn’t in the picture. The
Totals 31 0 4 0 ROBERTO CLEMENTE
programs were sitting in our lockers. I really felt dumb.
I loved all the pregame pageantry, including lining up
NEW YORK YANKEES
AB R H RBI along the baselines for introductions. It was all part of
Bob Cerv, lf 5 1 2 0 what made the World Series magical.
Roger Maris, rf 3 0 0 0 Perfect sunny October baseball weather, Yankee
Yogi Berra, rf 1 0 1 0
Mickey Mantle, cf 5 2 4 2
Stadium, wrapped in red white and blue bunting, packed
Bill Skowron, 1b 5 2 2 1 with over 70,000 people. Mel Allen doing pregame inter-
Gil McGougald, 3b 4 2 1 0 views on the field. Stadium announcer Bob Sheppard call-
Elston Howard, c 4 1 2 1
ing out names like “Mic-key Man-tle,” “Ro-ger Mar-is,”
Bobby Richardson, 2b 5 1 2 6
Tony Kubek, ss 3 0 1 0 “Yog-i Ber-ra” and “Whit-ey Ford.” It just felt like baseball
Whitey Ford, p 4 1 1 0 at its finest. When I heard “batting eighth, the second
Totals 39 10 16 10 baseman, number one, Bob-by Rich-ard-son,” I smiled
MICKEY MANTLE proudly.
2B: Mantle, Virdon; HR: Richardson, Mantle; E: Kubek,
WP: Green, Witt; DP: New York 1; LOB: Pittsburgh 5, New York 9. Whitey started for us at last, and easily retired three
straight Pirates in the top of the first, with Dick Groat, the
PITCHING
PITTSBURGH PIRATES
second hitter, grounding out to me.
IP H R ER BB SO We came up in the last of the first to face an old friend of
Vinegar Bend Mizell (L) 0.1 3 4 4 1 0 mine, Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell. But Mizell faced
Clem Labine 0.1 4 2 2 0 0 only five batters, as Bob Cerv, Mantle and Moose Skowron
Fred Green 3.0 5 4 4 0 3
Red Witt 1.1 3 0 0 2 1 singled, and Gil McDougald walked. It was only 1-0 at that
David Durochik/SportPics

Tom Cheney 2.0 1 0 0 0 3 point, but Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh went to his
Joe Gibbon 1.0 0 0 0 1 0 bullpen and brought in the old Brooklyn Dodger, right-
hander Clem Labine. Labine had faced the Yankees in the
NEW YORK YANKEES World Series in both 1955 and 1956.
IP H R ER BB SO
ROBER MARIS The first batter he faced, Ellie Howard, got an infield
Whitey Ford (W) 9.0 4 0 0 1 3
single, scoring Mantle, moving Skowron to third and
Umpires: Bill Jackowski (HP), Nestor Chylak (1B), McDougald to second. Now it was 2-0, bases loaded, and
Dusty Boggess (2B), Johnny Stevens (3B), Jim Honochick (LF), Stan Landes (RF) my turn to hit.
Time of Game: 2:42 Attendance: 70,001 I half expected to hear Casey yell “hold that gun,” which
was how he sometimes summoned a hitter back to the

56 September/October 2017
drove it pretty nicely down the left-field line towards the
“301” sign at the foul pole.
There was no way I would assume it was gone—I had hit
three career home runs at that point (two in 1959 and one
on April 30, 1960, my last one)—and I had only hit one of
those three in Yankee Stadium, on Sept. 11, 1959. That
made 649 at-bats in Yankee Stadium with one home run.
So, no one in the ballpark, including me, and including
Betsy in the stands, was thinking home run.
But there it went. Pirates left fielder Gino Cimoli had
raced over, but it was beyond his reach. I looked up to see
Dusty Boggess, the second-base umpire, twirling his index
finger, signaling home run. It settled into the third row—
maybe 310 feet from home plate—and one, two, three, four
runners were about to cross the plate. I had hit only the
seventh grand slam in World Series history.
Did I even have a home-run trot? I knew Mickey just
kept his head down and ran it out—never looking to
embarrass the pitcher. I guess that was my example.
Most importantly, we now had a 6-0 lead and would
cruise to a 10-0 victory behind Whitey. I had two more RBI
in the game—for a record six in one World Series game, a
total that has been matched but never surpassed to this day.
There was more to come for me. I wound up with 12 RBI
for the seven-game Series, which remains a record after
more than half a century. I had driven in only 26 runs the
whole regular season.
We lost the Series when Bill Mazeroski homered in the
last of the ninth of Game 7 in Pittsburgh, and that Series
remains one of the most talked about in baseball history.
I was named the MVP and awarded a Corvette by Sport
magazine. I’m still the only player on a losing team to ever
be named World Series MVP, although in 1960, the award
Hall of Fame

was only six years old and not much was made of that fact.
I was also the first non-pitcher to win it, and there wasn’t
another one until Frank Robinson in 1966. For the first 11
During his 10 full seasons in the majors, Bobby Richardson was a seven-time
All-Star, five-time Gold Glove Award winner and three-time World Series champ. years of that award, I was the only hitter to win it.
I’m 82 now, Betsy and I have 16 grandchildren, seven
dugout to send up a pinch-hitter. Pinch-hitting for some- great-grandchildren (more on the way), and not a day has
one in the first inning could be insulting and demoraliz- passed when someone hasn’t brought up that grand-slam
ing, but it’s not like it hadn’t happened before. I’d been in home run to me.
that spot. I’m sure he was thinking, “I’ll send up Enos And you know what? I like that a lot. BD
Slaughter here and break up this game.”
I got to bat, but I was shocked to see third-base coach
WHITEY
Frank Crosetti giving me the bunt sign. Bunt? With Ford FORD
up next? He wanted me to let Ford hit with two out and the
bases loaded rather than let me swing away?
I may not have been Mantle or Maris in that lineup, but
this just wasn’t sound baseball. Casey could be tough to
play for.
I bunted Labine’s first pitch foul. Okay, I got that over with.
I stepped out of the box and again looked at Cro. Bunt.
I couldn’t believe it. And again, I fouled it off. An 0-and-
2 count.
Now Cro abandoned signals and just yelled to me in his
high voice, “Hit the ball to right field! Try to stay out of a
double play!”
I didn’t like that it was 0-and-2 and I was in this spot, but
at least I knew that if I could drive the ball to the right side,
it would likely score Moose and we’d be up 3-0.
SportPics

Here came Labine’s third pitch to me—a high fastball,


just inside a bit. I swung quickly, got ahead of the ball and
September/October 2017 57
broke back toward first base, sliding feet-first into the
bag as Boston attempted to complete a double play.
Bogaerts’ throw clipped Ellsbury on the left leg as he
crossed the base. Because of Holliday’s location,
Moreland appeared to be screened from catching the
ball. Ellsbury was ruled safe by first-base umpire Gabe
Morales, which prompted Red Sox manager John
By Rich Marazzi Farrell to ask crew chief Gary Cederstrom if there had
been interference.
Farrell argued that Holliday interfered with the play
Red Sox and a double play should have been called.
Cederstrom supported the interference call.
Protest Denied The subsequent review in New York City took four
minutes and 59 seconds. The interference part of the
ajor League Baseball rejected the Boston Red play was not reviewable, but the interpretation of rule

M Sox’ protest of their July 15 loss to the New


York Yankees. Here’s a brief review of details:
In the top of the 11th inning, the Yankees had Matt
6.01 (a) (5) was and the Command Center claimed there
was no rule misinterpretation.
Rule 6.01 (a) (5) reads, “It is interference by a batter or
Holliday at first base and no outs when Jacoby Ellsbury a runner when any batter or runner who has just been
chopped a ball to first baseman Mitch Moreland, who put out, or any runner who has just scored, hinders or
threw to shortstop Xander Bogaerts for a force at second impedes any following play being made on a runner.”
base. Holliday stopped between first and second and The Comment to the rule reads, “If the batter or run-
Photos by SportPics

JACOBY
ELLSBURY

JOHN FARRELL

58 September/October 2017
ACROSS DOWN
1 As DH, Kyle _____ had a huge 1 Player who is both talented and talked
2016 World Series about, like Mike Trout
6 Hit really hard 2 ____-____ baseball means staying
9 Alternate at a position alert at all times
10 Afternoon game 3 Hall of Famer ____ Rusie
11 “Charlie Hustle” By Larry Humber 4 Pick up the tab
12 He’s at third with the champion 5 Negligent
Chicago Cubs 6 The Cards used to play their spring ball
14 There’s a card set each year honor- at Al Lang Stadium in St. _____
ing the ____ ____-Star Rookie Team 7 Johan ____ was the A.L. Cy Young
15 On base Award winner with the Twins in 2004 and
18 They play in the shadow of “The 2006
Green Monster” 8 Run from a game
20 To ____ ____ is to make 13 Yu Darvish has a wide ____ of pitches
maximum effort 16 He was World Series MVP in 1956,
23 Bespectacled reliever now with the although he went just 1-0
Cardinals 17 Doesn’t win or lose, gets a no-____
24 Pitcher Russ Van ____ is in the 19 Chuck ____ piloted “The Boys of
books for going 4-for-4 in his major- Summer”
league debut 21 Teams that win in extra innings are said
26 Comes through in the clutch, ____ to ____ their opponents
the bell 22 Clinches: 2 words
27 They have won the Series just 23 Ex-reliever Brian Wilson sported a
twice, in 1920 and 1948 large, black ____
28 Weighted ring used by batters in 25 Hero
warming up
29 Terry ____ was N.L. MVP in 1991 ANSWERS ON PAGE 62

ner continues to advance after he has been put out, he MY OPINION


shall not by that act alone be considered as confusing, I reviewed the situation with a former major-league
hindering or impeding the fielders.” The fact that it took umpire who has an excellent reputation regarding rule
almost five minutes for the Command Center to agree on interpretations. We are both on the same page regarding
the interpretation of the rule, tells me there must have this protest.
been some heavy discussion. I agree that the rule in question did not impact the out-
In explaining why he returned to first, Holliday said he come of the game. You can argue that it affected the bat-
thought Moreland tagged the base to retire Ellsbury ting order etc., but that argument normally doesn’t fly.
before throwing to second, thus eliminating the force out. And because it did not adversely affect the outcome of
The half-inning ended without further incident as the game for the losing team, the protest should not be
both Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius lined out against upheld.
Red Sox reliever Robby Scott. In my opinion, however, MLB’s interpretation of
To view this play, go to MLB.com, July 15, NYY@BOS, Holliday’s “advance” to first base is a flagrant misinter-
“Umpires call for rules check on bizarre play.” pretation of the rule. I agree that you cannot protest
judgment, but in this case I believe the umpires misin-
MLB PROTEST RESPONSE terpreted an interference rule and unfortunately were
MLB used the Comment to rule 6.01 (a) (5) to say that supported by MLB.
Holliday continued to advance and therefore is not auto- There is no doubt that a runner can return to first base,
matically out for being in the way of a throw. MLB con- or any base, if he thinks the force was removed. This hap-
cluded that the word “advance” means both directions. pens often and it usually results in a rundown. However,
Therefore, it was a judgment call as to whether Holliday MLB is not presenting the whole picture in justifying its
intentionally interfered, which cannot be challenged. decision. In the Holliday situation, he interfered with a
MLB further stated that even if it had ruled that it was a play being made on another runner (Ellsbury) when he
misinterpretation of a rule (which MLB ruled it is not), the returned. And this, in my opinion, is a clear violation of
protest would also have been denied because it did not 6.01 (a) (5), which creates a double-play penalty because
adversely affect the Red Sox’ chances of winning the of the actions of the runner (Holliday) who was retired.
game. Intent should not be a factor here.
SportPics

September/October 2017 59
The Comment to the rule reads in relation to a runner
who continues to advance after being putout: “…he shall
not by that act alone be considered as confusing, hinder-
ing or impeding the fielders.” True, returning to the pre-
vious base is legal. But interfering in the process of
returning to the base is not legal. And I think this is where
the umpires and MLB dropped the ball.
Why is MLB ignoring the fact that there was another
runner involved—in this case the batter-runner
(Ellsbury)—who was being played on?
By handing down this interpretation, any runner
advancing from first to second on the 3-6-3 can return to
first and hinder the play on the batter-runner and say
that he thought the force was removed behind him. This
can set a dangerous precedent and put umpires in the
position of ruling runners out for the running the bases
in reverse for the purpose of confusing the defensive
team.
This interpretation can lead to first basemen being
“taken out” like middle infielders during the execution of
a double play. Sounds crazy, but based on this decision,
don’t think a runner won’t try it. It can create a new way
that runners can run the bases.
Although I agree that Holliday thought Ellsbury was
retired at first, his intent should not factor in this play.
Notice that the word “intentional” is absent from rule 6.01
(a) (5). This tacitly says that interference can be called
regardless whether intent was judged. There are several
rules in the Official Baseball Rules where the word “inten-
tional” is mandated. Rule 6.01 (a) (5) is not one of them.
Even if the umpires judged that Holliday had no intent
to interfere, in my opinion it’s a moot point because the
bottom line is: he interfered with a play being made on
another runner.

CLOSING
Simply stated, a runner can retreat to a base as long as
he doesn’t interfere with a play being made on another
runner.
If Holliday never impeded Moreland on his return to
first base, there would be no discussion. But he clearly
impeded Moreland, who was attempting to make a play
on another runner.
In my opinion, a basic fundamental of the interference
XANDER rule was ignored by the highest court in baseball. BD

BOGAERTS Rich Marazzi works as a rules consultant for the Red Sox,
Blue Jays, Rays, Tigers, Royals, Mariners, Dodgers, Cardinals,
SportPics

D-backs, Reds, Brewers and the White Sox TV announcers.


rtmarazzi@aol.com • www.ruleball.com • 203-735-6671

60 September/October 2017
QUICK QUIZ ANSWERS FROM PAGE 48

The 10 Atlanta Braves to club 40 homers in a season are Hank


1 Aaron, Davey Johnson, Darrell Evans, Jeff Burroughs, Dale
Murphy, David Justice, Andres Galarraga, Chipper Jones, Andruw
Jones and Javy Lopez.

The 13 shortstops who have captured league MVP honors


2 since 1931 are Lou Boudreau (1948), Phil Rizzuto (1950), Zoilo
Versalles (1965), Robin Yount (1982), Cal Ripken (1983, 1991),
Miguel Tejada (2002) and Alex Rodriguez (2003) in the American
League, and Marty Marion (1944), Ernie Banks (1958, 1959), Dick
Groat (1960), Maury Wills (1962), Barry Larkin (1995) and Jimmy
Rollins (2007) in the N.L.

Babe Ruth, Alex Rodriguez, Reggie Jackson, Mickey Mantle


3 and Gary Sheffield are the five players with 500 career home
runs who hit a postseason homer for the New York Yankees.

Besides Ichiro Suzuki and Cap Anson, the


4 nine other players with 3,000 career
hits who did not play on a World Series
championship team are Carl
Yastrzemski, Robin Yount, Tony
Gwynn, Rafael Palmeiro, BARRY
Rod Carew, Craig Biggio,
Paul Waner, Nap Lajoie LARKIN
and Adrian Beltre.

Rogers Hornsby, Gil Hodges and


5 Davey Johnson are the only men to
have a 40-homer season and win a World
Series as a manager. Hornsby clubbed 42
homers for the Cardinals in 1922 and led St.
Louis to the 1926 World Series title as a
manager. Hodges had 40-HR campaigns
for the Dodgers in 1951 and 1954 and direct-
ed the Mets to the 1969 championship.
Johnson hit a career-high 43 homers for
the Braves in 1973 and led the Mets to the
World Series title in 1986.

Derek Jeter is the only player to win


6 MVP honors for the All-Star Game
and World Series in the same season, as a
member of the Yankees in 2000.

Andy Pettitte holds the record for most


7 career victories in postseason play
with 19. Smoltz had 15, Tom Glavine 14,
and Curt Schilling 11.

In 2011, Nelson Cruz of the


8 Rangers set a League
Championship Series record with six
home runs against the Detroit Tigers.
Yankees outfielder Reggie
9 Jackson set a World Series record ANDY
with 10 runs scored in the 1977 Series
against the Dodgers.
PETTITTE
SportPics

Bob Gibson hit two World Series home runs


10 during his career with the Cardinals. He
clubbed his first in 1967 against the Red Sox and another
in 1968 against the Tigers.
SportPics

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