Sports Outside the Beltway

Former Baseball Manager Sparky Anderson dead at 86

He managed both the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers to World Series Championships. He played Major League Baseball for exactly one season, 1959, with the Philadelphia Phillies. He spent a long time in the Brooklyn Dodgers organization as a player and began managing in the minor leagues in Toronto.

I grew up as a kid watching baseball in the 1960′s and 70′s, so I got many memories of Anderson led Reds teams. Though my favorite team was the New York Mets. The Reds and Mets played a NLCS in 1973. After a fight broke out between Bud Harrelson and Pete Rose, Met fans started throwing garbage on the field. Anderson pulled his team from the field for safety purposes. I didn’t blame him then or now.

Anderson was nicknamed Captain Hook because of his tendency to pull starters quickly while managing the Reds(Wouldn’t you if your best pitcher was a Don Gullet who couldn’t be worked too hard, backed up by Fred Norman, Jack Billingham, and Gary Nolan?) but in his later days he swung to the other extreme. He stuck with his mediocre starters in Detroit. RIP George Anderson.

Anderson, who directed the Big Red Machine to back-to-back championships and won another in Detroit, died Thursday from complications of dementia in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He was 76. A day earlier, his family said he’d been placed in hospice care.

Anderson was the first manager to win World Series titles in both leagues and the only manager to lead two franchises in career wins.

“Sparky was, by far, the best manager I ever played for,” said former Reds star Pete Rose, the game’s career hits leader. “He understood people better than anyone I ever met. His players loved him, he loved his players and he loved the game of baseball. There isn’t another person in baseball like Sparky Anderson. He gave his whole life to the game.”

Anderson’s teams in Cincinnati — featuring Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Rose — won crowns in 1975 and 1976 and rank among the most powerful of all-time. Led by Kirk Gibson and Alan Trammell, Anderson won with the Tigers in 1984.


Roy Halladay throws second no-hitter in postseason history

The only other took place in 1956. From AP-

Roy Halladay threw the second no-hitter in postseason history, leading the Philadelphia Phillies over the Cincinnati Reds 4-0 in Game 1 of the NL Division Series on Wednesday.

Don Larsen is the only other pitcher to throw a postseason no-hitter. He threw a perfect game for the New York Yankees in the 1956 World Series against Brooklyn. The 54th anniversary of Larsen’s gem is this Friday.

“It’s surreal, it really is,” Halladay said. “I just wanted to pitch here, to pitch in the postseason. To go out and have a game like that, it’s a dream come true.”

Halladay took the Year of the Pitcher into the postseason. The excitement spread beyond Citizens Bank Park — the last two outs were shown on the video board at Target Field, where the Twins were preparing to play the Yankees, and Minnesota fans cheered.

The All-Star right-hander, who tossed a perfect game at Florida on May 29, dominated the Reds with a sharp fastball and a devastating slow curve in his first playoff start.

The overmatched Reds never came close to a hit. Halladay allowed only runner, walking Jay Bruce on a full count with two outs in the fifth, and struck out eight.

I’m going to say this again. 2010 is not t he year of the pitcher when it comes to baseball history. 1968 wins it hands down. How many hitters hit over .300 this year in the AL? More than one that was the 68 total. Did 1/5th of the games played this year end in a shutout? No. Was either league batting average below .235? No. The thing is, it isn’t even close.

That rant is over.

Halladay is arguably the best pitcher in baseball. It is very remarkable IMHO that there have been just two post season no-hitters. World Series and playoff teams have been no-hit in the regular season, some even during a pennant race.(The 1969 NY Mets were done in by Bob Moose in 1969 for example.)


Former Cy Young winner Mike Cuellar dead at 72

I remember Cuellar very well. He was the ace of the 1969 Baltimore Orioles pitching staff that faced off in Games 1* and 5 against my favorite team, the New York Mets. Do I really have to recall what happened in that World Series?Mike Cuellar

Cuellar was dominating then. A left-handed screwball pitcher. He was tougher on righty batters than lefties, or at least Cuellar was in 1969. Cuellar was a mainstay of the Orioles pitching staffs from 1969 to 1974. He ended his Baltimore career with subpar years in 75 and 76 and apparently complained to manager Earl Weaver. Weaver replied “I gave Mike Cuellar more chances than my first wife.” Cuellar was a very good pitcher(but not strong enough for the who ended his career in 1977 with the California Angels and tallied 185 career victories. RIP.

*- Cuellar made his first WS appearance in 1969. He was on the roster(along with NY Met Ron Taylor who also pitched in Game 1) of the 1964 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. Cuellar didn’t appear in the post season that year.

Mike Cuellar, a crafty left-hander from Cuba whose darting screwball made him a World Series champion and Cy Young Award winner with the Baltimore Orioles, died Friday. He was 72.

The Orioles confirmed Cuellar’s death, but did not release other details. According to The Baltimore Sun, Cuellar died of stomach cancer at Orlando Regional Medical Center in Florida.

Cuellar made his major league debut in 1959 and bounced around Cincinnati, St. Louis and Houston for almost a decade before a trade sent him to Baltimore. Wearing the black-and-orange bird logo, he blossomed as part of one of the most imposing pitching staffs in baseball history — in 1971, he was among the Orioles’ four 20-game winners.

A four-time All-Star, Cuellar was 185-130 overall with a 3.14 ERA. He was voted into the Orioles’ Hall of Fame.

“He sure was an ace,” Hall of Fame teammate Brooks Robinson told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Friday night. “He had a way of making good hitters look bad, making them take funny swings.”

Cuellar joined the Orioles in 1969, and that year became the first Baltimore pitcher to win the AL Cy Young Award, sharing the honor with Detroit’s Denny McLain.

Cuellar went 23-11 with five shutouts that season, including a game in which he held Minnesota hitless until Cesar Tovar’s soft, leadoff single in the ninth inning.

Cuellar helped pitch Baltimore to three straight World Series appearances from 1969 to 1971. He finished off that run by teaming with Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Pat Dobson to become the only staff other than the 1920 Chicago White Sox with a quartet of 20-game winners.


Toronto Blue Jays Edwin Encarnacion burns face in firework mishap

A error prone 3rd baseman coming off a injury and his worst ever season, isn’t helping his career with off the field mishaps and attitude problems. From ESPN-

Toronto Blue Jays infielder Edwin Encarnacion was released Saturday from a Miami hospital after being treated for minor facial injuries caused by fireworks during the New Year’s festivities in his native Dominican Republic.

Encarnacion suffered first- and second-degree burns in the forehead and the right side of his face when a rocket firecracker hit him in the jaw and exploded near his mouth while celebrating with family in his home of La Romana.

“Thank God everything is OK with my face. I don’t have any fractures or serious injuries and I won’t need any kind of surgery,” Encarnacion told on the phone while leaving Jackson Memorial Hospital.

According to Encarnacion, one of his brothers lit a rocket firecracker and instead of flying upwards it moved laterally, hitting Encarnacion.

“The doctors say that I’ll have to spend one week out of the sun, but that I’ll be able to work out without any problems in two weeks,” Encarnacion said.

That’s good to hear. Personally, I lost interest in firecrackers as I got older. My wife, who was born in the Philippines, enjoys those things. Probably the one and only area I’m more grown up than she is.


Former NY Giant P Larry Jansen dead at 89

He won over 100 games in his 10-year major league career. After his playing days were over, Jansen worked as a pitching coach for the Chicago Cubs. RIP.

Larry Jansen, the winning pitcher for the New York Giants in the 1951 playoff game decided by Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” has died. He was 89.Larry Jansen

The San Francisco Giants said Jansen died at his home in Oregon on Saturday.

Jansen spent nine years in the major leagues, making his biggest mark with the Giants during their pennant-winning season. He won 23 games in 1951, including one of the biggest in team — and baseball — history.

Jansen, in relief of Sal Maglie, struck out two batters in the top of the ninth before the Giants rallied with four runs in the bottom half of the inning to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 5-4 in the third and deciding playoff game.

Jansen won 21 games as a rookie in 1947 and finished with a 122-89 career record and 3.58 ERA. He spent eight seasons with the Giants before pitching briefly for Cincinnati in 1956.

He allowed Mickey Mantle’s first World Series hit — a bunt single in Game 2 of the 1951 Series — and gave up a double to Joe DiMaggio in the eighth inning of Game 6, the final at-bat of the Hall of Famer’s career.

Jansen was the losing pitcher in Game 2 and Game 5 of that Series.


Battered- Chris Carpenter hits grand slam, gets 17th win, St. Louis beats Cincinnati 13-0

It was his first career home run. From AP-

Chris Carpenter took it upon himself to get the Cardinals back on track.

The St. Louis ace hit a grand slam and set a team record for pitchers by driving in six runs as the Cardinals rolled to a 13-0 rout of the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday.


Carpenter’s first career homer capped a five-run second inning for the Cardinals, who had lost five of six — including three straight since clinching the NL Central title with a win at Colorado last Saturday. He added a two-run double during a four-run fifth to match the career RBI total he brought into the game.

I know from my days of youth league and middle and high school baseball, that when you’re pitching and a real bad batter is at the plate, you may want to just throw it down the middle. That guy can’t hurt you. Which is what may have happened here. Kip Wells put out out over the middle of the plate and Carpenter connected.

Carpenter’s grand slam was the 10th by a Cardinals pitcher and first since Kent Mercker connected at Florida on Sept. 2, 1998.

The previous major league pitcher to hit a grand slam was Jason Marquis for the Chicago Cubs off New York Mets left-hander Jonathon Niese on Sept. 22, 2008, at Shea Stadium, according to STATS LLC.

A little bit of Grand Slam history. The only National leaguer in the first 100 years of the league’s history to hit two bases loaded homers in one game, was a pitcher. Tony Cloninger did it for the Atlanta Braves in 1966.


Nobody cares? Cincinnati beats Pittsburgh 4-1 in front of sparse crowd

The Pirates have won only 3 of 21 games they have played this month. From AP-

Bronson Arroyo limited Pittsburgh to one run over seven innings and the Cincinnati Reds completed their second sweep of the plummeting Pirates in less than a month, winning 4-1 on Thursday to push the Pirates closer to a 100-loss season.

Joey Votto had a two-run double following Drew Sutton’s RBI double in a four-run third inning against Charlie Morton (4-9) as the Reds won their eighth in a row against the last-place Pirates. The Reds are 15 games ahead of the Pirates in the NL Central standings after falling behind them following a loss on Aug. 22.

Since then, fourth-place Cincinnati is 21-10 — although it remain only one loss away from a ninth consecutive losing season — and Pittsburgh is 5-25. Five more losses by the Pirates will give them 100 on the year.

Pittsburgh, long since assured of a record 17th consecutive losing season, has lost six in a row, nine of 10 and 23 of 26 amid the franchise’s worst September spinout since it was 5-22 in September 1998.

The Pirates have obviously given up for 2009. Speaking from experience, it’s hard to impossible to remain interested in a game or a sport you’re competing in if the outcome is of little or no value. In such situations, the usual inclination is to put up no more effort than is absolutely necessary.

At least for the Pirates’ sake, there weren’t many spectators. The paid attendance was 15,892, but the turnstile count was about 3,000

So Pirate fans are about as enthusiastic as the players are about the closing games of the 2009 season. Or is there another factor at work?

the G-20 summit being staged in downtown Pittsburgh held down the turnout.

The crowd was so small that the Pirates closed PNC Park’s upper deck for the first time since the 38,362-seat ballpark opened in 2001 and allowed fans to sit in the lower level.

Were all fans allowed to sit at field level? May as well, it might encourage people to come back to a game next September when the Pirates are again out of the playoff race.

Crowds of under 1,000 are not unheard of for a MLB game. I remember Atlanta Braves games in the 1970′s being played before such small crowds. A no-hitter in the 1960′s was also played before like 1-2,000 fans.

Fans had to go through metal detectors to enter the park. Combine that with the inconveniences caused by the G-20 summit and the meaninglessness of any games the Pirates play this year, I don’t blame Pittsburgh baseball fans for staying home today.


Former MLB Pitcher Jackie Collum dead at 82

He was a journeyman reliever for six teams. I remember Collum’s name well from my playing of Strat-O-Matic Baseball past seasons. RIP.

Collum, who was born in Victor and lived in Grinnell for much of his life, pitched in the 1950s and 1960s.

He died Saturday at Mayflower Health Care Center in Grinnell. Memorial services were held Thursday.

Collum served in the U.S. Army in World War II in the Philippines. He returned home to pursue his major-league dreams.

As a minor leaguer in St. Joseph, Mo., in 1948, he had a 24-2 record.

Collum reached the majors in 1951 and compiled a 32-28 record and a 4.15 ERA with six teams: St. Louis, Cincinnati, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota, Cleveland and the Chicago Cubs.

Collum played alongside Hall of Famers such as Stan Musial, Sandy Koufax and Ernie Banks.

He pitched until 1958, then had stints with the Twins and Indians in 1962. He was known as a good hitter, too, with a .246 career batting average.

He won a career-best nine games in 1955 with the Reds.


Aaron Boone back playing minor league baseball 5 months after having heart surgery

He hopes to be back playing in the major leagues before the 2009 season is completed. From AP-

Aaron Boone is back playing baseball, appearing in a minor league game in Texas less than five months after open-heart surgery.

Boone batted second Monday night for the Corpus Christi Hooks, a Double-A affiliate of the Houston Astros. He swung at the first pitch and popped up to the first baseman in foul territory. Boone played third base against Midland and was hitless in two at-bats before leaving the game.

“It felt good to get out there and play in a real game,” Boone told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “I felt good physically. I always have nerves whether it’s a spring training game or my first game in Corpus.

“I was excited tonight. I think it went really well. I had a couple of balls come my way and got to face pitching for the first time in a long, long time. A little overwhelming, but a necessary step on the way back.”

The 36-year-old Boone had an operation in late March because of a congenital defect in his aortic valve.

Boone is perhaps best remembered for his game 7 winning homerun in the 2003 ALCS. He was a favorite player of mine during the 2001 Star Tournament season. I platooned him with Eric Chavez at both the Fort Lauderdale and Fall Orlando tournaments where I each finished 2nd.

It sounds as if Boone was born with a bicuspid heart valve and had AVR(Aortic Valve replacement) surgery. Something I have more than a passing familiarity with. I had AVR performed on me one year ago this week. Boone is stronger than me, I don’t know if I would be swinging a baseball bat so soon. I wish him well in his recovery and comeback.


Return engagement- Milwaukee Brewers acquire reliever David Weathers

He is one of the last original Florida Marlins to still be playing in the Major Leagues. From AP-

The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired Cincinnati right-hander David Weathers for a player to be named later.

Weathers is 3-3 with a 3.32 ERA in 43 games. He pitched one inning and got the win in Friday’s 10-5 comeback win over the San Francisco Giants.

The 39-year-old reliever starts his second stint with Milwaukee. He previously pitched for the Brewers from 1998-2001.

Weathers, who first came up with Toronto in 1991, is still putting up decent numbers. Anyone want to take a guess how much longer he can keep on pitching in the majors?


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