Hold the Rope…..

One of the great things about living in Florida is that as February begins, we are now entering our third week of baseball season. In one more week the real games will begin! Nothing much better than the fact that high school baseball in Florida is actually a “winter” sport. Well, technically they call it a spring sport but in reality two of the four months it is played take place while our northern friends are shivering and shoveling.

It is an exciting time for prep baseball and that includes the troops at Venice High. There are few things more gratifying than working with a group of young men who are dedicated, committed and passionate about their lives and baseball, the game they play, the greatest of games.

The past couple of weeks as the Indians are preparing for their 2016 season, we have been visited by a few alumni.

Nick Longhi, a 2013 graduate and a member of the ’12’ and ’13’ State Championship teams, is back, working out and lending a hand hitting fungoes and working in the outfield. This year he is slated to play at the Red Sox high ‘A’ affiliate in Salem Virginia.

Matt Tellor, a 2011 Venice graduate played at Southeast Missouri State and in 2014 was a 10th round pick of the Atlanta Braves. He played last year in Rome in the South Atlantic League. He’s been working out and with the young Indians at first base.

 

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Aaron Rhodes, another 2011 grad, went on to Florida, an SEC championship and a visit to the College World Series. Drafted by the Angels last June, he spent the summer in Utah with the Orem Owls. He has been at the field throwing and giving tips to members of the Indian mound crew.

It is gratifying to watch these young men, pursuing their dream, returning to their roots. They return to work, they return to stay sharp and they return to give back. It is serendipitous that this particular year we have these guys in our camp. For as I watched them this week I was struck by what it means to these guys to be part of the Venice Indian program. It is a powerful statement to today’s Indians to see the pride that these professional players carry in their Venice Indian heritage.

There is a common denominator to the tradition of “excellence on and off the field” that is Venice High School Baseball. That common denominator is this guy.

faulknerfrontCraig Faulkner begins his 18th year as Venice High head coach.

The serendipity lay in the fact that as Faulkner begins another year of team building, motivating and teaching, he does so having just penned a book, his first. It is a book that he actually began about 30 years ago when he played for one of college baseball’s greatest motivator, “Skip” Bertman.

As many of you are aware, this is a self publishing effort and as of this morning we are halfway to the goal. So this morning, is a peek at the book; a favorite story on building a team.

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HOLD THE ROPE-EVERYONE IS IMPORTANT

This is a story of team unity which can only come from trust and can be used at any time during the season or before.

This story can either be used just before the season starts or before a game where it becomes applicable; preferably early in the season. A rope should be used as a visual aid can be effective in the telling of this story and all it should be held in front of the group or dangled over a desk.

After presenting the rope you choose a player and ask this question; “If you were dangling off the end of a cliff and holding on to this rope, which player on this team would you choose to have holding the other end?” You add the caveat, “Remember you must choose someone who you know would not ever let you go; no matter how tired they got or how much pain they had to endure.”

It is most likely that they will choose the biggest and strongest kid on the team. They will also probably take some time looking about as they decide whom they would choose. It does not really matter who they choose because your response will always be the same. “Men when you do not hesitate in your response to that question and you can simply and unequivocally state;” It does not matter who holds the rope as long as it is one of my teammates, I don’t care who it is, I know none of them will let me fall.” It is then and only then that we will be where we need to be as a unit, as a team.

This is the kind of trust we must develop among us. It must be unwavering, it must be complete and it requires 100% commitment from each and every one of us. Trust is not something we can buy, it is not something we get from last year’s team; rather it’s something we earn, earning from each other day in and day out. Players earn it from coaches, coaches earn it from players and players earn it from each other. We will succeed only when each member of the team is trusted.

We earn it, one from each other, by putting the needs of the team ahead of all else. We earn it with an attitude that says simply, what can I do to make US BETTER? Gentlemen we are a family and from this day forward we will treat each other as such both on and off the field.

So thanks to all who have got behind this project and if you have not seen this yet, take two minutes to hear Coach Faulkner tell this story and if you are so motivated, click on the K in the upper left hand corner and climb on board.

And so it is on this day, February 3, 2016, the precipice of another year of BASEBALL, the GREATEST of GAMES.

 

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“Love Wins Mitch, Love Always Wins”….. Morrie Schwartz

I have never been one of the celebratory New Years Eve types; always looking at the start of a New Year as a time of reflection and introspection. Solemnity, more than revelry, has always seemed  far more appropriate for the occasion.

This year was particularly poignant, for the Christmas Season brought sorrow to the world of a loved one, as my daughter lost a dear friend. Amanda was 32, and a labor and delivery nurse at Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital. She was struck by car while running near her home; training for the Boston Marathon which she was running for a charity. An excruciating week ended, when life support was discontinued and, in the true spirit of a caregiver, three people received their miracle in organ donations from this bright light. She left an eight year old son and scores of people who love her. Her 32 years left an indelible mark upon the people she touched and her family and friends who loved and were loved by her.

Hanover nurse Amanda Turner Russell has died from injuries she suffered when she was struck by a car Dec. 23.

Amanda Turner Russell

Her passing is a cruel reminder of the fragility of life and the need to capture each moment. I found myself more grateful for my blessings and holding loved ones just a little closer.

As 2015 sank into the sea of yesterdays, the Red Sox lost two legends when Dave Henderson (Dec, 27th) and Frank Malzone (Dec. 29th) passed away. Henderson, 57, succumbed to a heart attack in Seattle nearly two months after receiving a kidney transplant; while Malzone, 85, died in his home in Needham Massachusetts. And with them, went a piece of my childhood, a piece of my youth.

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Dave Henderson was rarely, if ever, seen without a smile on his face.

Frank Malzone is the only Red Sox third baseman to win a Gold Glove.

These two men left their indelible marks upon the Red Sox and the city and did so in decidedly different ways. They came from different eras, one a highly touted first round pick, the other toiled for seven years in the minor leagues before making it to the show. One was a bolt of lightning, the other a steady, constant force.

Dave “Hendu” Henderson was the Seattle Mariners first round pick in 1977. He made his debut with the Mariners in 1981 and joined them to stay the following year. He toiled in Seattle until late in the 1986 season, August 19th to be exact. The Red Sox were in first place, 5 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees in the AL East when they added “Hendu” as a fourth outfielder and to gain some right handed pop off the bench.

Boston Red Sox outfielder Dave Henderson, left, jokes with quarterback Doug Flutie prior to the start of Game Six of the American League Championship series against the California Angels in Boston, Oct. 14, 1986. The Chicago Bears have acquired the rights to Flutie from the Los Angeles Rams for an unannounced future draft choice, Bears' general manager Jerry Vainisi announced Tuesday. (AP Photo/Peter Southwick)

Boston Red Sox outfielder Dave Henderson, left, jokes with quarterback Doug Flutie prior to the start of Game Six of the American League Championship series against the California Angels in Boston, Oct. 14, 1986. The Chicago Bears had just acquired the rights to Flutie from the Los Angeles Rams for an unannounced future draft choice. (AP Photo/Peter Southwick)

Dave Henderson came to bat 51 times for Boston during the 1986 season. He had but 10 hits for a .196 average. He hit a home run, drove in three and he struck out 15 times in those 51 at bats, nearly 30% of the time. All in all, rather non-descript.

The Red Sox prevailed in the AL East setting up the best of seven series against the Angels. California led the Series three games to one and were ahead in the fifth game 5-2 when the Red Sox came to bat in the top of the ninth. Bill Buckner led off with a single and Dave Stapleton ran for him. I was on the phone with my brother when Jim Rice was caught looking for the first out. We were lamenting yet another Red Sox post-season disappointment, when Don Baylor hit a two run homer, it was 5-4. There was a flicker of hope. We said goodbye. Evans popped out and Rich Gedman stepped in and was hit by a pitch. Police on horseback circled the outfield as the Angels and their fans prepared to celebrate their first ever trip to the World Series. Dave Henderson came to the plate.

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His dramatic home run put the Sox ahead 6-5 and the Angels tied the game in their half of the ninth. In the 11th inning the Red Sox scored on a sacrifice fly by, guess who? That’s right, Dave Henderson. The win sent the Series back to Fenway and the Red Sox won game six, 10-4 and game seven 8-1. It was on to the World Series.

Red Sox fans remember the horror of the “86” Series, however few will remember that “Hendu” hit .400 in that Series, hammering out 10 hits with two homers, five RBI and a team leading 1.208 OPS.

He played only 75 games with the Red Sox in 1987 and was traded to the Giants before the end of the season. In 2000 Dave Henderson’s bolt of lightning was immortalized when his home run was officially recognized as one of the franchises Memorable Moments in the Red Sox Hall of Fame.

Frank Malzone was signed by the Red Sox in 1947, out of Samuel Gompers High School in the Bronx. He made $175 a month his first year and his minor league journey took him through: Milford Delaware, Oneonta NY, Scranton PA, Louisville KY and finally San Francisco before arriving in Boston to stay in 1956. His career, like so many of his era, was interrupted for two years of military service during the Korean War. Playing in Oneonta in 1949, he met his future wife Amy Gennerino.

“Malzie made his debut in 1955 playing six games. He arrived to stay in 1956 and in ’57’ he hit .292 with 15 homers and 103 RBI. He finished 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting and seventh in the vote for AL MVP.

My dad called him “Malzie” and he was a particular favorite in the Sinibaldi household. A son of an Italian immigrant, his dad came from Salerno Italy and worked for the water department in New York city. My dad had a particular affinity for his Italian brethren. That affinity trickled down to his son.

He became a star and was a bridge between the eras of Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski. A teammate of both Hall of Famers, he played with Ted the last four years of his career and with Yaz the first five of his.

Eleven of his 12 years in the Big Leagues were played in Boston where he was a bona fide star on teams that never won more than 84 games and finished an average 24 games out of first place.

His accomplishments were many. He was a six time all star and the first ever recipient of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award at third base. That first year the award was for both leagues and he followed it up with back to back AL Gold Gloves in 1958 and 59. He is the only Red Sox third baseman to win a Gold Glove and he is the Red Sox career leader for home runs and RBI by a third baseman.

Frank Malzone and Willie Mays during the 1960 All Star game at Yankee Stadium. Malzone said his greatest thrill in baseball was hitting a home run off Don Drysdale in the 1959 All Star game, a 5-3 AL win.

Returning back home to Boston following his last playing year with the Angels in 1966, he became a scout, friend and mentor to scores of players who followed him. His influence spanned more than six decades and the mark he left on so many extends far beyond the diamond and many talked about Frank Malzone, the man.

“When I first came to the big leagues in 1961, Frank was the guy who took me under his wing,” Carl Yastrzemski said. “I struggled when I first came up, and he took care of me and stayed with me. He was a real class guy, a very caring guy, and I owe him a lot. You aren’t going to find too many people like him.” Dwight Evans met him his rookie year in 1972. “He may not have been one of the coaches on the team, but he was a coach for me, instructing me on the finer parts of the game… In some ways, Frank was like a big brother. I loved him as a man and as a mentor. He will be sorely missed.” Mike Lowell played five years as the Red Sox third baseman and was the MVP of the ’07’ World Series. He offered, “Frank was always there to give me a smile and a great word of encouragement every time… He was always a symbol to me of what a professional and standup member of the organization should be.”

He was a charter member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame which opened in 1995. Inducted along side the likes of Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Joe Cronin, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Tom Yawkey and Cy Young. His legacy cemented in Red Sox lore.

Last Sunday was a 41 degree Florida morn. Regardless, I made my way to the links to hack it around with these guys.

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We have not played together since early November. I got to don one of Dad’s old sweaters and there were reflections of Red Sox days, past, present and future. As the chill of dawn melted into a perfect day I was reminded of the light in my world and all those who contribute to it.

So God speed to those who left us and from the little boy and the young man in me thanks to Malzie and Hendu. And from today’s man who stands on the precipice of his winter, God Bless, Amanda, and I will take some solace in knowing that Addy, Reagan and Quinn, three of my brightest lights, have the beacon of your spirit watching over them.

The year 2016 will find me continuing to chase the light, grateful evermore for all who have illuminated my way; even those who fear the wonder of their own inner glow and know not, how bright it burns.

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And thus it should be, for love wins…Love always wins.

And so it is as 2016’s first month draws to a close. The work of Bill Nowlin and Peter Abraham contributed to this story.

Thanks so much to all who have jumped on board, we are 30% towards our goal to self publish. If you are a coach, know a coach or simply want to read some inspiring motivational stories, check us out! We would love to have you with us.

 

 

 

 

 

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“Commitment is What Transforms a Promise into Reality” Abraham Lincoln

Last weekend I made my first post in quite a while. It had been since my trip to Cooperstown for a book signing at the Hall of Fame and the induction of the class of 2015; that included the incomparable Pedro. FullSizeRender (8)

Of course I had my thoughts, observations and opinions on a lot that went on in the baseball world. I had all kinds of ideas for posting, but the truth is, I was totally immersed here.

Real deal Baseball

Having joined forces with Venice High School head baseball coach Craig Faulkner and infield coach Joe Komaroski, we have written a book of motivational stories. This book had its beginnings back in the 1980s when Faulkner played at LSU for the legendary college coach Skip Bertman. Bertman, who wrote the book’s foreword, is recognized today as one of colleges all time greatest coaches. Faulkner remembers him as an outstanding motivator and mentor. It is Bertman’s coaching and motivating style that Faulkner has emulated and brought to his home town of Venice Florida. At the helm since 1999, he has guided his troops to seven trips to the state Final Four and four State Titles, three in the last four years. And beyond that, and far more important, his players have amassed over 20, 000 hours of community service. Each year brings a community commitment which includes time and energy focused on community service projects. Among them are Habitat for Humanity, Little League Challenger Baseball and visits to local nursing homes.

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Faulkner returned home to Venice FL following nearly a decade of pro ball in the organizations of the Orioles, Cardinals and Brewers. Since taking the helm in 1999 he has built one of the most successful prep baseball programs in the country.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.cgi?id=faulkn001cra

http://venicehighschoolbaseball.com/

He has been gathering and writing motivational stories since his college days.

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Coach K, bat in hand, is an innate motivating force unto himself.

Joe Komaroski graduated from Venice High School in the 1970s, where he played baseball. New Jersey born, he moved to Venice as a kid and he is entrenched in the community he loves. In fact, let there be no doubt, Venice green blood runs through his veins. A truly American story, Joe K is the embodiment of the American entrepreneurial spirit; having built two successful businesses in Venice. Today, when he’s not at the baseball field, he owns and operates an All State Insurance Agency. He is tenacious in finding ways to set, goals, motivate and teach his players the true meaning of Coach Faulkner’s motto of “Excellence on and off the Field.”

https://agents.allstate.com/joe-komaroski-insurance-agency-venice-fl.html

And then there’s me.

At Fenway

At Fenway Park in November 2013.

Just a guy who loves baseball and who got lucky to fall in with a coach and a group of men who share that love and combine it with a passion for teaching the life lessons that it (and all sports) offers young people.

http://www.amazon.com/Raymond-Sinibaldi/e/B007TTJMAY/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_2

The stories are told within the context of a baseball team and they are broken down into five categories: building, bonding and defining a team, the mind of the competitor, adversity that hits every player, the big game and finally working, preparing and making adjustments.

The passion we bring to this game is fueled by the simple fact that sports and competition are the single greatest metaphor for life. Again, these stories are told within the context of the game of baseball because that is what we do. However, each story could be applied to  any aspect of life. They could be used in the boardroom, on the pulpit, in the classroom and sitting around the dining room table.

The book is now complete and we are stepping into the foray of self publishing. So check us out here, click on the K in the left hand corner. We’d love to have you on board.

And so it is on this day, January 22, 2016, 14 days till Venice High Baseball opening day!

 

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“The Energy of the Mind is the Essence of Life”…Aristotle

Hello again, I’ve been away for a while, the whys of which I will clarify in a post this week, but first I must tell you a story. Surprised?

From time to time I have written here about the Venice High School Baseball program in Venice Florida. I am proud and privileged to say I am the voice of the Venice Indians, their designated historian and on occasion I get to knock some fungoes around and throw some BP.

The best part is I get to associate with a great group of young men who are committed, dedicated, hardworking, determined and focused. Their energy, retards that process we call aging.

Back in January of 2013 I wrote a story about one of our most loyal long time supporters, a man named Jack Dundas. A retired Army Colonel with seven, count em seven, Purple Hearts. He was wounded three times at the Battle of the Bulge, twice in Korea and twice in Vietnam. He passed away in November of 2011 and the 2012 team dedicated the season to him. That season ended in a State Championship.

The Eagle, The Colonel and Venice High School Baseball…..

Jacks Plaque

This plaque, which was placed in January of 2013 marks the Colonel’s seat at the ball park.

On the day this plaque was installed, a bald eagle visited the ball park, circled a bit, perched for about 10 minutes and went on his way. A week later, on the first day of tryouts for the ’13’ team, the eagle returned, and watching from the left field light bank, waited for Coach Faulkner to finish his talk with the boys and then moved on.

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The Colonel keeps his eye on troops at Venice High.

The first day of tryouts in 2014 brought yet another visit from the full bird, and 2015 did the same. It grew rather commonplace for the Colonel to make his appearance, ON THE FIRST DAY OF TRYOUTS, sit a while and then, satisfied that all was well, take flight. It kept us all shaking our heads and smiling.

The story took an interesting twist last Monday, January 11th and that twist began last March. As the Venice High team was making their march to what would become their third State Championship in four years; we lost another long time, loyal supporter.

Roy Stevens

Roy was 98 years young when he left us. He tallied the strikeouts for Venice High pitchers by hanging green K’s on the fence from his chair, on the home plate side of the Indian dugout. He too was a veteran of WW II and on the night before he passed, a wide smile came to his face when he was informed that the Indians had eeked out a 2-1 win.

Well last Monday I arrived at THE FIRST DAY of TRYOUTS and as I walked on the field Coach Faulkner came over to me…

Jack and Roy

The Venice High Baseball team has some very special eyes watching over them.

“Roy and Jack are both here.” He said and I didn’t quite understand. He threw his eyes skyward towards left field and there they were. They sat for about five minutes and then they were gone. Yet somehow I think we will see them again.

I’ll keep you posted.

And so it is on this FIRST DAY OF TRYOUTS.

 

 

 

 

 

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Kershaw, Tiant and One Other Guy……

Friday night Clayton Kershaw took to the hill in Pittsburgh sporting his 37 consecutive inning scoreless streak. In a pregame report on the MLB Network, it was stated that Kershaw had joined Luis Tiant as the only pitchers to have consecutive scoreless innings streaks of 35 innings or more in two separate seasons.

The drama lasted exactly one pitch…..As the Bucs right fielder Gregory Polanco took him deep.

http://m.mlb.com/news/article/141793316/clayton-kershaws-scoreless-streak-ends-on-hr

In 2014 Clayton Kershaw flipped 41.2 scoreless innings from June 13th through July 10th. His 2015 streak ended at 37 innings on Friday nights first pitch.

The 27 year old lefty’s streak began this year on July 3rd in the fourth inning against the Mets. It lasted 35 days through five starts, two of which were complete game shutouts; against the Phillies at home and the Mets on the road. The other two starts were eight inning outings against the Nationals in Washington and at home against the Angels last week.

Let’s take a look at his numbers through the stretch. He pitched 37 innings (duh), went 4-0. He struck out 49 and had, ready for this? One walk! He allowed but 17 hits and his opponents hit .135 against him. Of those 17 hits, two were for extra bases, both doubles. His strikeouts per 9 innings was 11.9 and he allowed 4.1 hits per nine innings. His WHIP (walks plus hits/IP) was a microscopic 0.486. To get an idea of just how miniscule that is, the lowest one on record for a single season is 0.737 by Pedro Martinez in 2000.

Last season his streak began in the fourth inning on June 13th in Dodger Stadium against the Diamondbacks. He went seven innings surrendering a run in the third, garnering the win. His following start was against the Rockies and the young lefty made history.

On June 18, 2014 Kershaw no-hit Colorado, punching out 15 and walking nobody in the Dodgers 8-0 win.

Hanley Ramirez’s throwing error leading off the seventh was all that came between Kershaw and perfection.

His 2014 streak covered six starts, one complete game shutout, the no-no, and 41.2 innings. It lasted 27 days and he went 6-0; beating the Diamondbacks, Royals, Padres, Cardinals and the Rockies twice.

Now for the fun stuff, the numbers. He struck out 50 and walked 6 while allowing 17 hits and his opponents hit .121 against him. Of the 17 hits he allowed in this streak three (doubles) were for extra bases. His strikeouts per nine innings was 10.7, his hits per nine was 3.6 and his WHIP was 0.551.

Luis Tiant’s two separate season streaks took place in 1968 with the Cleveland Indians, 41 innings and in 1972 with the Red Sox, 40 innings.

El Tiante’s 41 straight scoreless innings went from April 28-May 17 1968.

On April 20th Tiant was pitching in Fenway against the Red Sox. He took a 1-0 lead into the fourth. Mike Andrews singled to lead off the inning and he walked Joe Foy. After Yaz flied out to center, Reggie Smith took him deep. Down 3-1, Luis was pinched hit for leading off the fifth.

His next start came eight days later in the second game of a double-header in Washington’s DC Stadium. He flipped a two hit shutout. Luis 41 innings covered five starts in a span of 19 days. He went 4-1 during the streak with four complete game shutouts against the aforementioned Senators, Twins, Yankees and Orioles. In his fifth start against Baltimore he hurled five scoreless innings before giving up a three run homer to “Boog” Powell and he would eventually be on the short end of a 6-2 loss.

He had 42 strikeouts and 11 walks while giving up only 16 hits (2 doubles) leaving his opponents with a batting average of .116. His strikeouts per nine innings was 9.2, his hits per nine was 3.5 and his WHIP was 0.658.

Following arm injuries, trades and finally being cut by the Minnesota Twins on the last day of camp in 1971, Luis found himself in the minors; first with the Richmond Braves and then with the Red Sox AAA affiliate in Louisville, appropriately enough.

After going 21-8 in 1968 and leading the league with a 1.60 ERA, arm woes befell Tiant and following a 9-20 “69” season he was traded to the Twins, along with Stan Williams. The Indians received Dean Chance, Bob Miller, Graig Nettles and Ted Uhlaender.

By June of 1971, he was back in Boston as he struggled through the summer bouncing back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen.

It was more of the same in 1972 and on August 16th Luis stood with a respectable record of 6-4 with a 2.95 ERA. He had pitched in 32 games, eight of them starts. He had three saves and four blown saves.

AND THEN….

Three nights later came a start in Chicago. The result, a 3-0, two hit shutout. Luis was off and running again. Forty innings and 20 days would pass before Tiant surrendered another run and in that stretch of five starts Luis went 5-0 with four complete game shutouts in a row. He gave up only 16 hits with two doubles being the only extra base variety.

Throughout this particular stretch, Tiant had 32 K’s, 9 walks and his opponents hit .122 against him. His hits per nine innings was 3.6, his strikeouts per nine was 7.2 and his WHIP was 0.625.

For the next six seasons Luis Tiant as the ace of the Red Sox staff, one of baseball’s best pitchers of the decade and one of the Fenway Faithful’s all time favorite players; a mantle he holds to this day!

Friday night Clayton Kershaw took to the hill in Pittsburgh sporting his 37 consecutive inning scoreless streak. In a pregame report on the MLB Network, it was stated that Kershaw had joined Luis Tiant as the only pitchers to have consecutive scoreless innings streaks of 35 innings or more in two separate seasons.

However, baseball almanac lists another fellow, who was not bad, that the MLB Network seems to have overlooked.

Walter Johnson threw a stretch of 40 consecutive scoreless innings in May of 1918 AND in 1913 he threw a stretch of 55.2 scoreless innings. A major league record he held for 55 years.

So, if I may add an addendum to this story; In the summer of 1972, Luis Tiant joined Walter Johnson as the only two pitchers to hurl consecutive scoreless innings streaks of 40 innings or more in two separate seasons.

That fact remains true!

And so it is on this day in Fenway history, August 10, 2015.

 

 

 

 

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“Pitching always beats batting — and vice-versa.” Yogi Berra

Last Saturday August 1, 2015 baseball history was made. For the first time the reigning league MVP’s faced each other in a game. Well it’s sorta true. Thanks to the not so great idea of interleague play, it happened during the regular season for the first time. Confused?

It took place in Dodger Stadium as the Dodgers and Angels squared off. On the mound for the Dodgers was the 2014 NL MVP Clayton Kershaw.

In centerfield for the Angels was 2014 AL MVP, Mike Trout.

Now the adage goes that good pitching will beat good hitting and in this particular matchup it turned out to be true. Trout faced Kershaw three times: was caught looking in the first, grounded out weakly to third in the fourth and lined out to right in the seventh. He squared up on one ball in three at bats and hit it hard right at Yasiel Puig in right field.

Kershaw and the Dodgers prevailed as the southpaw went eight innings extending his scoreless innings streak to 37.

Well, the historical significance of this game got me to thinking, so I went a looking. What I had to find first was how many times pitchers were named MVP.

In the National League a pitcher has been named MVP 11 times, the first being Dazzy Vance of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1924 and the last of course Kershaw. The American League has had 13 hurlers earn the league’s MVP award with Washington Senator Walter Johnson being the first in 1913 and the Tigers Justin Verlander the last in 2011. Three pitchers won two MVP awards, Johnson in ’13’ and ’24’, the Giants Carl Hubbell in 1933 and ’36’ and Detroit’s Hal Newhouser earning the award in back to back years of 1944 and ’45’.

Dazzy Vance was 28-6 for the ’24’ Dodgers pitching 308 innings and leading the league in ERA 2.16, complete games 30 and strikeouts, 262. His Wins Above Replacement (WAR) was 10.5, best among pitchers. He was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1955.

Check out his lifetime record and then tell me why Luis Tiant is not in the Hall? But I digress.

Walter Johnson was the first pitcher to be named MVP in 1913. He was 36-7 with a league leading 1.14 ERA. He led the league in wins, ERA, shutouts (11), innings pitched (346), complete games (29) and strikeouts (243). His Wins Above Replacement, WAR was 16, highest in the modern era. He was a member of the Hall of Fame’s inaugural class of 1939.

Neither Vance nor Johnson got to face the other league’s MVP for that could only happen in the World Series. Although they both were MVP’s in 1924, Vance’s Dodgers did not win the pennant as the Senators beat the Giants in a seven game series. The first, last and only World Series won by a team calling our nations capital home.

In fact there have been only eight occasions in which the league MVP’s (one of course having to be a pitcher) had the opportunity to square off against each other. The first coming in the 1931 World Series when the St. Louis Cardinals; led by their MVP Frankie Frisch (The Fordham Flash) faced the Philadelphia A’s led by their MVP Lefty Grove.

Frankie Frisch more than held his own against Lefty Grove in the 31 World Series. He went 4-12 against Grove with a run scored and an RBI. The Cards won in seven games. Frisch was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1947.

Lefty Grove was the 12th 300 game winner in baseball history and the sixth in the Modern Era (since 1900). He did it with the Red Sox in 1941, the only pitcher to record win number 300 in a Red Sox uniform. He went into the Hall of Fame in 1947 with his 1931 counterpart Frankie Frisch.

Three years later the Cardinal’s Gas House Gang returned to the World Series behind MVP pitcher Dizzy Dean. They were underdogs to the Tigers who had won 101 games and they were led by their MVP catcher Mickey Cochrane. The Cards came back from down 3 games to 2 to take the Series. Dizzy Dean threw a six hit shutout in game seven to crown the Cards champs. He silenced his AL counterpart in the Series as Cochrane mustered two hits in 12 at bats (.167), both singles.

Dizzy Dean won game 7 of the ’34” World Series 11-0. And he started the seven run third inning rally with a one out double. He came to bat again and added an RBI single his second time up in the inning.

Two years later MVP Carl Hubbell of the New York Giants faced MVP Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees. This marked the fourth time these two New York teams had faced each other in the World Series and the first time they had done so without Babe Ruth on the field. The Yankees had some rookie named Joe Somethingorother in centerfield.

Anyway, the Bombers dispensed of the Giants in six games and thus Carl Hubbell pitched in only two games going 1-1. Gehrig went 0-3 in game one but more than made up for it going 2-4 with two runs scored and two RBI in the series’ fourth game; including a home run.

The Iron Horse was a two time MVP who played in 34 games in seven World Series. He hit .361 with 10 home runs and 35 RBI. His OPS was 1.214 and the Yankees won six of those World Series. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in a special election in 1939.

The next two times that MVP’s faced off against each other came in the war years of 1942 and ’45’.

Cardinals pitcher Mort Cooper went 22-7 with a league leading 1.78 ERA and hurled 10 shutouts on his way to the NL MVP award in 1942. Meanwhile in the American League one of baseball’s most controversial MVP awards was voted to Yankee second baseman Joe Gordon. Gordon hit a career high .322 with 18 home runs and 103 RBI; a very solid season. He led the league in only two categories; strikeouts and hitting into double plays.

The guy who finished second in the voting won the American League Triple Crown hitting .356 with 36 home run and 137 RBI. He led the league in runs, total bases, on base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+ and WAR. Safe to say, Ted Williams dominated the league, but yet again I digress.

The 1942 MVP’s fell significantly short of MVP performances in the 1942 World Series. Cooper pitched 13 innings in two games going 0-1 with a 5.54 ERA. He surrendered 17 hits in his 13 innings of work. Gordon hit .095 with two hits in 21 at bats and he went 0-6 against Cooper striking out twice and never hitting the ball out of the infield.

Joe Gordon was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 2009.

The last “war year” was 1945 and that year saw Tiger southpaw Hal Newhouser win his second MVP award in a row while in the National League; Cub first baseman Phil Cavaretta captured the coveted trophy. They faced off in the World Series.

Cavaretta had an MVP type World Series hitting .423 with a home run, 5 RBI while scoring 7 runs. He went 6-9 against Newhouser including the home run, three of his five RBI and scoring four of his runs.

Newhouser’s numbers were not that impressive for the World Series. He surrendered 14 runs and 25 hits in 20 2/3 innings of work. However he gave up seven of those runs and eight of those hits in 2 2/3 innings of the Series’ first game. He won game five giving the Tigers a one game edge and he was the winner in game seven giving the Tigers the title of World Champs.

Hal Newhouser is the only pitcher to win back to back MVP Awards, 1944 and ’45’. The Veterans Committee placed him in the Hall of Fame in 1992 and his number 16 is retired by the Tigers; in large measure due to the efforts of noted SABR member Kerry Keene.

It would be 11 years before MVP’s would face each other again and it would come in the 1956 World Series when American League MVP and Triple Crown winner Mickey Mantle’s Yankees faced the Brooklyn Dodgers and their MVP Don Newcomb. Newcomb also was the winner of the first ever Cy Young Award.

Created in 1956, the Cy Young Award was given to only one pitcher each year until 1967. Newcomb was 27-7 in 1956, following a 20-5 campaign in Brooklyn’s World Championship year of 1955.

Mantle hit .353 with 52 homers and 130 RBI becoming the seventh American League Triple Crown Winner.

The 1956 World Series gave us Don Larsen’s perfect game in game five which was followed, the next day, by one of the best pitching duels in World Series history. Dodger right hander Clem Labine locked horns with Bob Turley in a game which went 10 innings and was won by the Dodgers 1-0, on a Jackie Robinson single in the 10th. This set up game seven with Newcomb on the hill for Brooklyn.

Newcomb was pounded serving up five runs on five hits in three innings and the Yanks won 9-0 to take the game and the Series. In fact the Dodger ace had also been hammered in his previous start in game two giving up six run in 1 2/3 innings. His line for the Series was 0-1 while serving up 11 runs and 11 hits in 4 2/3 inning of work. Not exactly MVP caliber. However, he faced Mantle three times, walking him once and striking him out twice.

Seven years later it would again be the Dodgers and Yankees and by this time the Dodgers were in LA. MVP and Cy Young Award winner Sandy Koufax led the Dodgers while Yankee catcher Elston Howard wore the AL MVP crown.

This Series was dominated by Dodger pitching as LA swept the Yankees allowing them a total of four runs in four games and holding them to a team average of .171. In a Series which saw Mantle hit .133, Kubek hit .188, Pepitone hit .154 and Bobby Richardson hit .214; AL MVP Elston Howard went 5-15 (.333) including 3-8 (.375) against Koufax.

Sandy Koufax struck out a record 15 Yankees in game one of the ’63’ Series. He went 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA winning the Series MVP Award as well.

The most interesting MVP World Series matchup came in 1968, the last time it happened. What made it so interesting is the fact that the MVP’s were both pitchers.

This guy…..

Denny McClain, baseball’s last 30 game winner, went 31-6 in 1968 winning the AL Cy Young and MVP Awards.

And this guy…..

Bob Gibson registered a 1.12 ERA in 1968 leading St. Louis to their second straight World Series. Gibson and McClain are the only pitchers to garner both their leagues, Cy Young and MVP Awards in the same season.

“The Year of the Pitcher” is what 1968 came to be known and it led to the lowering of the mound. Carl Yastrzemski was the only AL player to hit .300 leading the junior circuit with a .301 average.

There was quite a buzz as Gibson and McClain faced off in game one of the World Series and that day belonged to Gibson as he shutout the Tigers 4-0. Seventeen Tigers went down on strikes a Gibson broke the World Series strikeout record set five years earlier by Sandy Koufax.

The two MVP’s went at each other in game four but not for long as McClain was gone after 2 2/3 having surrendered 4 runs and six hits as the Cardinals went on to thump Detroit 10-1. McClain batted once in each game against Gibson, striking out in game one and popping out to first in game four. Gibson stood in three times against McClain striking out and laying down a sacrifice bunt in game one and grounding out to short in game four.

They didn’t face each other again in the Series as Detroit came back from a three to one deficit to win it. And it was this guy who was the difference.

Mickey Lolich was the 1968 World Series MVP going 3-0 with three complete game wins and a 1.67 ERA.

With all the talk surrounding the phenomenal years of Bob Gibson and Denny McClain, the Tigers portly southpaw simply stole the show; putting an exclamation point on the Series and the season beating Gibson 4-1 in the seventh game.

So where does that leave us? Well, Kershaw and Trout’s faceoff last weekend was the ninth time an MVP pitcher faced an MVP batter following their MVP seasons. Eight of them occurred in the World Series and in those games, MVP hitters hit a collective .293 (17-58) with two home runs, six RBI and seven runs scored.

The best hitting performance was Cubs first baseman Phil Cavaretta beating up Detroit’s Hal Newhouser in the ’45’ Series going 6-9 (.667) with a homer, three ribbies and four runs scored.

Adding in Mike Trout taking the collar against Kershaw and the collective batting average dips to .279 but there is good news for both of them. For of the 16 previous MVP’s who squared off versus each other in the same season; 11 of them are in the Hall of Fame!

Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout, future Hall of Famers? A long way to go but they’re well on their way!

So what does it all mean? It means that once again Yogi, the three time MVP, was right!

“Pitching always beats batting — and vice-versa.”

And so it is on this day in Fenway history, August 7, 2015, the Red Sox 59th straight day in the cellar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Show Us The Future PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE…Pretty PLEASE…..

Henry Owens is here!!!!

He finally arrived last night making his debut in Yankee Stadium and overall it was a fairly impressive beginning for the 6’6″ southpaw. Physically sporting a tad of resemblance to Randy Johnson (mullet noted); the kid overcame a tough first inning; showed flashes of brilliance and ultimately took the loss.

Obviously a bit over amped in the first inning, Owens had trouble finding the plate and threw 34 pitches. After striking out Jacoby Ellsbury (remember him?), a single, a walk and a single put him behind 1-0. A visit from pitching coach Carl Willis was followed by a Brian McCann line out to center and a Carlos Beltran pop foul and the kid had his first big league inning under his belt.

Chase Headley led off the second with a single following which Owens became a big leaguer. The next 12 Yankees went down and in the fifth his mates grabbed two runs to give him the lead.

He threw 34 pitches in the first, 17 in the second and then threw a combined total of 37 in the third, fourth and fifth.

Jackie Bradley Jr. had a great at bat in the fifth, battling back from a 0-2 count to get to 3-2 and hitting a sacrifice fly giving Owens and the Sox a 2-1 lead in the fifth.

Coming out for the sixth, Owens faltered hanging a slider to Chris Young who lined a single to left and then leaving a pitch up to Alex Rodriquez who doubled putting men on second and third. By the way, a great defensive play by Bradley kept Young from scoring.

Sox manager John Farrell comes with the hook for Owens in the sixth.

So Henry Owens’ long awaited arrival came and went last night in Yankee Stadium. His line, not really all that impressive; 5 innings pitched, 3 earned runs, 5 hits, a walk and 5 strikeouts. His ERA this morning is 5.40.

Within that line however was 12 straight Yankees going down and going down in an impressive manner on a mixture of Owens’ arsenal of fastball, curve, slider and change.

I, for one, want to see more! I want to see more of him, in fact I would have liked to have seen him try and pitch out of the jam he created in the sixth. I want to see more of Bradley Jr., I want to see more of Brian Johnson.

                                                                                           Brian Johnson

Conversely, I’m tired of a few things as well.

I am tired of David Ortiz never running beyond a home run trot. Has he not figured out that it only works when you hit a home run? Not on a ground ball to the right side. Oh and did you notice last night? He was doubled off of first base on a line drive, back to the pitcher and the best part; he was NOT BEING HELD ON!!!! Yikes.

I’m tired of watching this….Nuf Ced!

I am tired of the fragility that is Clay Buchholz.

I am tired of the performance, or lack there of, of the bullpen. And for that matter what do you think of the idea put forth in the spring that all the starters could be aces? Really?

The Red Sox are 47-60 on pace to equal last years stellar record of 71-91. That will mean for three of the last four years they will have cracked the 90+ loss barrier. Do you know how far back you have to go to the last time that happened? All the way back to 1964, ’65’ and ’66’! That’s right, the days of :Arnold Early , Ed Connolly, Dick Stuart, Lou Clinton, Jim Gosger, Bob Duliba, Don Demeter, Dick Stigman and Pete Magrini. The days when Mike Higgins sat in the GM’s chair and Billy Herman skippered on the field.

Not that anyone has asked but this is what I want to see the rest of the summer. Put Johnson and Owens in the rotation with Rodriquez. Keep Wright there and of course Porcello. Maybe he’ll find some semblance of himself.

Take Joe Kelly and say, “look kid, let’s try you in the bullpen.” See if he can be turned into a one inning guy! I don’t care which inning but good Lord it seems worth the effort. Maybe just having to focus it all to get three outs could be helpful to the kid! Maybe try the same with Masterson. Could it be worse?

                                                         Could Joe Kelly be a future closer? Worth a try!!!

I want Jackie Bradley Jr. to get the rest of the year as the centerfielder. I want to see if in fact he can become a .250-.270 big league hitter! The fact is that they set him back by rushing him to fill Ellsbury’s slot; he’s worked his kiesta off to get back and I think they owe him a shot, a real shot! What’s to lose? 92 games? When Mookie comes back put him at second!

I’m not a big, big fan of Castillo but he’s paid so let’s see what he can do. Truth is, I’ve seen high school hitters with a better approach than him.

I’d also like to see Hanley play some first base. Oh, but he doesn’t want to. UGH!!!!

And I would love to see, love to see David Ortiz RUN!!!!!! Play the game the way it should be played David! You’re better than that!

That’s all for now….. But please, please, please….Give us a glimpse of the future!!! PLEASE!!! The present is just too damned ugly!

And so it is on this day in Fenway history, August 5, 2015; the 57th straight day in the cellar!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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