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Sitting down to talk to the Tigers great about umpiring, pitchers from his day, and baseball in Detroit.

Willie Horton is a Detroit baseball legend. A graduate of the city's Northwestern High School, Horton signed with the Tigers in 1961 and went on to play 14 of his 18 big league seasons in Detroit, slugging 325 home runs. A star in the 1968 World Series, Horton famously walked, in full uniform, through the 1967 Detroit race riots in an attempt to restore peace to his besieged hometown. Currently a special assistant to the team's President and General Manager, Dave Dombrowski, Horton has had his number 23 retired by the Tigers and has been honored with a statue in Comerica Park. David had a chance to sit down and talk with Willie this summer.

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David chats with former Oriole backstop Andy Etchebarren about different pitchers he's caught, what it means to be a good catcher, and what he enjoys most about teaching young players.

David Laurila: What are the most important attributes of a good defensive catcher?

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October 21, 2007 12:00 am

Prospectus Q&A: Dave LaRoche

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David Laurila

Former big leaguer Dave LaRoche is currently serving as pitching coach in the Toronto system. He talks with David about his successes with both his fastball and eephus pitch.

While he had a mid-90s fastball when he was an All-Star closer for the Indians and Angels, a much slower pitch comes to mind when many people think of Dave LaRoche. A flame-throwing left-hander for most of his 14 years in the big leagues (1970-1983), LaRoche reinvented himself when he joined the Yankees late in his career, often throwing a pitch that arced 20 feet in the air. The father of two big leaguers--Adam and Andy--LaRoche is now a pitching coach for the Blue Jays' Double-A affiliate, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

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Dan uses MLBAM data to reconstruct the no-hitter that wasn't.

"We are approaching a new age of synthesis. Knowledge cannot be merely a degree or a skill... it demands a broader vision, capabilities in critical thinking and logical deduction without which we cannot have constructive progress."
--Li Ka Shing


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May 28, 2004 12:00 am

You Could Look It Up: Rundown and Out

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Steven Goldman

One of the values of knowing history is that you can recognize repeat situations when they arise. We humans are pretty creative, but somehow every generation has to work itself into some scrape that a previous class already tried out. Sometimes it's a historical blunder on the scale of invading Russia from the west with winter coming on; other times, it's just hiring Raul Mondesi. The benefit to recognizing a repeat situation as it manifests is that you can call it off before, say, you trade this year's Jay Buhner for this year's Ken Phelps, or your Iraq becomes your Vietnam, and consequently someone else's problem. In some cases, it's just fun to know that even if you missed something the first time around, chances are it will come up again so you can see it for yourself. For example, it's safe to say that none of our readers were in attendance at Game Six of the 1917 World Series between the Chicago White Sox and the New York Giants, and so they didn't see the controversial play that iced the championship for the American League. Fortunately, Monday's Angels-Blue Jays game was just as good as a time machine--and not just any time machine, but the deluxe model with the cruise control, the heated mirrors, and the side mirrors that fold down when passing through a dangerously narrow aperture, handy for automotive proctological exams and navigating the capillaries of longtime smokers. The score was tied 5-5 with two out in the bottom of the 10th at Toronto and two runners on. Chris Gomez was standing on second. He had reached on a fielder's choice, then was pushed into scoring position by Eric Hinske's walk. Simon Pond came to the plate. Pond grounded to first baseman Casey Kotchman, who dove for the ball and knocked it down. Pitcher Ben Weber stood at first, waiting to receive the ball for the 3-1 put out. Gomez rounded third, trying to score. Second baseman Adam Kennedy picked up the ball and fired it to catcher Ben Molina. Gomez was now in a rundown. Molina chased him up the line, then threw the ball to third baseman Alfredo Amezaga. Gomez reversed field and headed back towards home. Amezaga threw the ball to...he didn't throw it to anyone, because there was no one to throw it to. Gomez scored. Game over.

The benefit to recognizing a repeat situation as it manifests is that you can call it off before, say, you trade this year's Jay Buhner for this year's Ken Phelps, or your Iraq becomes your Vietnam, and consequently someone else's problem. In some cases, it's just fun to know that even if you missed something the first time around, chances are it will come up again so you can see it for yourself. For example, it's safe to say that none of our readers were in attendance at Game Six of the 1917 World Series between the Chicago White Sox and the New York Giants, and so they didn't see the controversial play that iced the championship for the American League. Fortunately, Monday's Angels-Blue Jays game was just as good as a time machine--and not just any time machine, but the deluxe model with the cruise control, the heated mirrors, and the side mirrors that fold down when passing through a dangerously narrow aperture, handy for automotive proctological exams and navigating the capillaries of longtime smokers.

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It's awards season again, with people across the country anxiously awaiting the results of the Oscars, the Pulitzer Prizes, and of course the most prestigious award of them all. Yes, it's time for the third annual Golden Gun Award, honoring last year's most valuable catcher arms. The winner is the major league leader in Stolen Base Runs Prevented (SBRP), which measures the number of runs a catcher saves his team by throwing out opposing basestealers. It is calculated from the number of opponent steals (SB), the number of runners the catcher throws out (CS), and the number of runners the catcher picks off (CPO), using this simple formula: SBRP = 0.49*(CS+CPO) - 0.16*SB And the winners are...

It's awards season again, with people across the country anxiously awaiting the results of the Oscars, the Pulitzer Prizes, and of course the most prestigious award of them all. Yes, it's time for the third annual Golden Gun Award, honoring last year's most valuable catcher arms. The winner is the major league leader in Stolen Base Runs Prevented (SBRP), which measures the number of runs a catcher saves his team by throwing out opposing basestealers. It is calculated from the number of opponent steals (SB), the number of runners the catcher throws out (CS), and the number of runners the catcher picks off (CPO), using this simple formula:

SBRP = 0.49*(CS+CPO) - 0.16*SB

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In response to one of last week's Box Lunch articles, one reader asks: "I see the intellectual interest in all the detective work of reconstructing an inning from a box score, but in this day and age, who would do that instead of clicking on the game log provided right next to the box score at ESPN if you really want to know what happened?" Maybe some of the same people who think it's still worthwhile to cook their food on a stovetop. Also, newspapers don't publish game logs. Box scores are portable, foldable, markable.

Maybe some of the same people who think it's still worthwhile to cook their food on a stovetop. Also, newspapers don't publish game logs. Box scores are portable, foldable, markable.

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Keith Scherer kicks off the first in a weekly series looking at box scores from the past seven days. In his review of the boxes, he'll scan for trends and tendencies, using the names and digits you see in agate type every day.

April 1

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February 7, 2003 2:28 pm

Breaking Balls: Breaking Balls: Jack Quinn

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Minding my own business while doing research the other day, I came upon one of the weirdest, coolest pitchers ever. Looking into Tom Glavine and his 242 career wins--which puts him at No. 50 all-time--I found a guy named Jack Quinn, at No. 44 with 247. I love these kinds of random findings; you could be talking to someone you know about Gaylord Perry, and he might in passing mention the last legal spitballers, Quinn being among the best of 'em. I had no idea Quinn was so interesting. He wasn't a star, and he pitched from 1909-1933, pre-dating my baseball consciousness by about five decades.

 Minding my own business while doing research the other day, I came upon one of the weirdest, coolest pitchers ever. Looking into Tom Glavine and his 242 career wins--which puts him at No. 50 all-time--I found a guy named Jack Quinn, at No. 44 with 247. I love these kinds of random findings; you could be talking to someone you know about Gaylord Perry, and he might in passing mention the last legal spitballers, Quinn being among the best of 'em.

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Special thanks to Retrosheet

Injuries to pitchers are not a new phenomenon. They date as far back as the rule change that allowed pitchers to throw overhand, and so do the attempts to restrict the workload of pitchers to a safe level.

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June 19, 1998 12:00 am

Pitcher Abuse Points

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Rany Jazayerli

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