Tag Archives: Major League Baseball
It’s May 9, and fans of the Astros, Blue Jays, Marlins, Padres, and others are despairing. Their teams are off to terrible starts, and in some cases it’s hard to find hope.
That’s where the St. Louis Browns come in.
The Browns (1902-1951) hold the distinction of being the worst franchise in Major League Baseball history, a team so full of failure that the only time they won a pennant (1944) it occurred when most of baseball’s best stars were fighting World War II. So pathetic were they that a midget was signed as a publicity stunt (in 1951), they employed a one-armed outfielder named Pete Gray (1945), and finished with a winning record so infrequently it’s amazing they actually DREW WELL initially. They moved to St. Louis from Milwaukee in 1902 (they were the American League’s original Milwaukee Brewers) and stayed there until 1951 before slinking off to Baltimore to become the Orioles. They were such an embarrassment that the new Orioles have erased virtually every bit of evidence of their St. Louis past, with the notable exception of retaining the same color scheme.
Notably, the Browns tried to fix the 1910 American League batting title for Cleveland’s Nap Lajoie, orchestrating the infield so that Lajoie could get five bunt hits in six times at bat. When Lajoie reached on an error in the sixth at bat, the manager and another coach tried to bribe the official scorer to give Lajoie another hit. When AL President Ban Johnson found out about the way the Browns tried to fix the batting championship, he ordered the Browns’ ownership to fire both men, informally banning both of them from baseball for life.
Check out the baseball E-Cyclopedia on the Browns and check out their logos therein.
I discuss George Sisler‘s career and note the difference between baseball’s first “Dead Ball Era” (1901-1920) and the lively-ball era that followed, showing the difference in Sisler’s offense numbers.
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Rogers Hornsby (1896-1963) is one of the greatest players in the history of Major League Baseball. Thanks to Babe Ruth (who was the player who saved baseball after the destructive Black Sox Scandal) and Ty Cobb (another contemporary who is the only player to finish his career with a higher composite batting average), Hornsby is one of those players well known only to baseball junkies and historians. The brash, opinionated Texan was the best hitter in the 1920s not named Ruth or Cobb, and for a six year stretch (1920-1925) was absolutely unbelievable. He led the National League in batting in each one of those years, with averages of .370, .397, .401, .384, .424(!), and .403, an unheard-of run that will never happen again. He was also a power hitter, leading the NL in homers in 1922 with 42 (the second-place guy, Ray Grimes, hit only 21.) He regularly boasted OPS (on base average plus slugging percentage) numbers over 1.000. Because of a steep decline that occurred as the 1920s wore down (Hornsby had his share of injury problems), he finished his careeer with 2930 hits, seventy short of the almighty mark of 3000 hits. (more…)
The Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) managed to do something it hadn’t done since 1996: it elected no new members to the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown.
This is an outrage. Pointing at the “steroids era” in which otherwise-qualified players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were denied entry into the Hall- is what caused the lack of consensus. Astro franchise icon Craig Biggio came closest with 68.2% of the vote, and will likely be elected next year. Jack Morris came the second closest with 67.7%. Eventual inductee Jeff Bagwell (also an Astros franchise icon) came in third at 59.6%.
Players Association director Michael Weiner sums up my feelings on the matter:
“Today’s news that those members of the BBWAA afforded the privilege of casting ballots failed to elect even a single player to the Hall of Fame is unfortunate, if not sad,” said Weiner, the executive director of the MLB Players Association. “Those empowered to help the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum document the history of the game failed to recognize the contributions of several Hall of Fame worthy players. To ignore the historic accomplishments of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, for example, is hard to justify.
“Moreover, to penalize players exonerated in legal proceedings — and others never even implicated — is simply unfair. The Hall of Fame is supposed to be for the best players to have ever played the game. Several such players were denied access to the Hall today. Hopefully this will be rectified by future voting.”
Craig Biggio – 3000 hits, plus his unique status as the only man to make an All Star Game as a catcher AND a second baseman
Jeff Bagwell – one of the top five first basemen statistically in the history of the game.
Mike Piazza – best offensive catcher ever, at least in the 2nd half of the 20th century
Tim Raines – GREAT leadoff hitter in the 1980s penalized by the presence of Rickey Henderson, the best leadoff hitter ever.
Roger Clemens – either the best or 2nd best right handed pitcher ever.
Barry Bonds – Home run king. The Hall is a JOKE without him
Sammy Sosa – 609 Homers.
Mark McGwire – 1998, plus 61!
Alan Trammell – best all around shortstop of the 1980s. Better offensively than anyone in his era not named Cal Ripken, and better defensively than anyone not named Ozzie Smith.
Why no Morris? He wasn’t the best pitcher of his Era, never won the Cy Young. He gets consideration entirely for his postseason accomplishments. Reasonable people can disagree, but I’m leaving him off the ballot for me.
Jeff Bagwell: Should he be in the Hall of Fame? I answer that question (and many more) in this episode. Don’t forget to subscribe to the show at http://thebaseballexperience.com/itunes and support the show at http://thebaseballexperience.com/gamefly. You can subscribe to the show through any podcatcher at http://feeds.feedburner.com/thebaseballexperiencespodcast.