A look at the broadcast and celebration from the biggest day of Pete Rose's career.
There is a secret haven of MLB gems hidden in iTunes right now. Under the heading "Baseball's Best," you can find over 150 games ranging from the 1952 World Series to Mark Buehrle's perfect game in 2009. The games feature no-hitters, record-breakers, classic postseason battles and more. Best of all, these games are available in their full, original broadcast (including everything but the commercials) for only $1.99. Today we look at one of these gems: the San Diego at Cincinnati match on September 11, 1985, when Pete Rose finally surpassed Ty Cobb for the title of All-Time Hit King.
It's Wednesday night at Riverfront Stadium. The night before, over 51,000 Reds fans had watched 44-year-old player/manager Pete Rose face off against Padres pitcher LaMarr Hoyt in an attempt to break his tie with Ty Cobb atop the all-time hits leaderboard with his 4,192nd career base hit. Rose was hitless in four at-bats, popping out each time he came to the plate. Tonight, it's 47,000 people cheering their lungs out at the ballpark (bringing the season-long attendance to an "outstanding" 1.6 million). Everyone in Cincinnati is ready to explode in celebration when the moment 23 years in the making finally happens. Luckily for Rose, he has a sympathetic manager penciling in his .267 average and .329 slugging percentage into the number two spot in the lineup (to be fair, Rose's OBP in early September was still a very solid .389).
A former BP author returns from his adventures in baseball consulting with a slightly different perspective on sabermetrics.
Russell A. Carleton wrote for Baseball Prospectus from 2009 to 2010, and prior to that (2007-2009) wrote at Statistically Speaking. He served as a consultant to a team in Major League Baseball for two years. Beginning today, his work will once again be appearing at BP on a regular basis.
There's not much to be gained by ranking across generations.
I have a confession. I suppose it’s not a very juicy confession. But all the same, I feel like I need to confess that I love All-Time teams. Or, at least, I used to love them. I used to make them when I was bored in school in the backs of my notebooks. All-Time Twins. All-Time Yankees. All-Time Guys Named Mike. And I was a sucker for other people’s All-Time teams too. Babe Ruth made a team of what he thought were the greatest players in baseball history back in the 1930s and named Hal Chase and Ray Schalk to it. Walter Johnson, and Rogers Hornsby and Ty Cobb published their dream teams too. Cobb put Buck Weaver at third base, while The Big Train honored both Chase and Johnny Kling. One of my first baseball books I owned as a kid was an old library book from 1963 that listed Pie Traynor as the greatest 3B in history. I’d read any of that stuff.
Which is why I was excited to hear about Graham Womack’s All-Time Dream Project, which asked fans to vote on the greatest players in baseball history and got heavy-hitting writers like Craig Calcaterra, Josh Wilker, and Dan Szymborski to write about them. Graham’s project, which is also raising money to run journalism workshops for kids, is great. And I don’t want to take anything away from it. But in the afterglow, Craig wrote about how the results illustrated that we may be overvaluing the past, saying “We get locked into older things first, and it’s that much harder for us to appreciate more recent greatness…. I think [voters] pick Rogers Hornsby over Joe Morgan because their father said he was the best and because the pictures of him are in black and white and, boy, if that ain’t history, I don’t know what is.”
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Who tops the charts as the best Hall-enshrined double-play duo in history?
Buoyed by the occasion of Bert Blyleven's election, I had hoped to make the trip to Cooperstown to attend this year's Hall of Fame inductions for the first time. The dream died when my ride backed out, and so I settled for watching Pat Gillick, Roberto Alomar, and Blyleven reap their reward on television, in front of an estimated crowd of 17,500 on a clear, warm day. It was still a joy to behold, not only the three inductees' speeches but also the introductory videos, with Sandy Alomar Jr. narrating his brother's clips—which included as good a defensive highlight reel as you'll see this side of Ozzie Smith—and Jim Kaat narrating Blyleven's. To these ears, the Dutchman's speech was the funniest and therefore the most memorable, but all three had their poignant moments, with the first two more visibly overwhelmed by the emotion of the occasion.
Jay recaps the careers of the soon-to-be-HOF-inducted Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven.
The Hall of Fame induction weekend is upon us, and while I've taken issue with the way the institution is treating this year's recipients of the Frick, Spink, and O'Neil awards, I'm particularly excited to see this year’s class of BBWAA and Expansion Era Committee choices—Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, and Pat Gillick—honored. Having watched both Alomar and Blyleven excel with multiple teams over the years, it was both a privilege and a labor of love to advocate their election to Cooperstown.
Due to reader response, the annotated list continues with 21st through 31st best seasons of all time, featuring Mike Piazza, Ernie Banks, and more third basemen of the 1970s.
Our collection of BP-flavored single-season WARP scores currently goes back to 1950. Now that we’ve added fielding runs to the sortable choices, you can easily see the combination of offense and defense that made the top players during this period so valuable, and in some cases dragged them down from even higher perches.
On Monday, I used the newly revised list to take a look at the top 20 seasons of the last 60 years. Due to reader enthusiasm and the fact that I find this kind of thing to be tremendous fun, I’ve expanded the scope to include the top 50, continuing today with the player-seasons that rank 21 through 31.
21. Frank Robinson, OF, 1966: 11.0
Robinson, newly arrived with the Baltimore Orioles after the Reds called him “an old 30,” won the triple crown, joining Mickey Mantle ’56 and Carl Yastrzemski ’67 in the top 50. He picked up a unanimous MVP award, Given how much grief the voters have deservedly taken over the years, it’s reassuring to see how many of these great seasons have won. Of the top 11, the voters rewarded all but three, and one of those was Sammy Sosa's ’01, who the voters passed over in favor of Barry Bonds' ’01, which was even better. Here are the other occasions to this point in the rankings where the voters failed to reward one of the 20 best seasons in history:
A deal that shocked the baseball world helped fuel the Big Red Machine.
It was a quiet day at a very quiet winter meetings, this November 29, 1971, that would change the history of baseball. Writers were milling around the lobby at the Biltmore Hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona, not a story in sight.
They knew not that Bob Howsam, the general manager of the Reds, had been hard at work for some time on a trade and that he had just completed it. He gathered his staff around him—manager Sparky Anderson, right-hand man Dick Wagner, scout Ray Shore, farm director Chief Bender, and public relations director Roger Ruhl.
Do closers really have a hard time holding runners on base?
To watch the top of the ninth inning of Sunday night’s thrilling (in a minimal-postseason-implications kind of way) Yankees-Red Sox game was to witness the great Mariano Rivera’s undoing, at least to hear ESPN’s broadcast team tell it. Though the Yankees salvaged an extra-innings victory to ensure the addition of at least a 163rd game to their schedule, Rivera failed to protect the lead he inherited, turning a single-run advantage into a one-run deficit, and forcing his teammates to fight for their lives against Jonathan Papelbon in the bottom half of the inning.
Rivera’s rare show of weakness didn’t result from anything as anxiety-inducing as a drop in velocity or a lapse in his customary near-impeccable control. Rather, the Achilles’ heel that the Red Sox allegedly exposed in front of a national audience was Rivera’s lackluster approach to controlling the running game. Granted, the Sox made Rivera look bad, but they managed all of two singles off of the future Hall of Fame closer. Should his performance be considered a cause for concern as his most important innings of the season draw near?
The cases to make for the best on the ballot at first and second base.
The BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot has been out for a few weeks, and by now just about everybody who's got an opinion on the subject of which candidates are worthy of election has beaten the Christmas rush by weighing in on Rock, Hawk, Rik Aalbert, and friends. While the cabal which sent Jim Rice to Cooperstown last year might like to believe that I've told my spreadsheet to shut up, the reality-deadlines for this year's annual impeding my progress-is much more mundane. There's still time to beat the Christmas rush, however, so away we go.