Sports Outside the Beltway

Manager Tony La Russa announces retirement

This news comes less than three days after the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series.

Tony La Russa is calling it a career after 16 seasons as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.

La Russa, 67, only days removed from winning his third World Series title, made the announcement during a Monday morning news conference.

La Russa had hinted at a possible return during the NL championship series against the Brewers, expressing excitement about the Cardinals’ talent in place.

But apparently claiming his second World Series ring with the Cardinals — his 1989 Oakland A’s team also won it — was enough of a capstone.

La Russa’s 2,728 regular-season victories over 33 seasons as a manager rank third on the career list behind Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763).

Mack stayed on at least a decade too long. Illness was the cause of McGraw’s resignation and he would die two years later The Giants last World Series appearance with McGraw came eight years previously.(But the Giants did go to the WS the year after McGraw’s resignation) La Russa chose to get out while on top, and I think he made the right decision.


Former Pittsburgh Pirate IF Pete Castiglione dead at 89

He also played for the St. Louis Cardinals and served in the United States Navy during World War II. RIP.

Peter P. Castiglione was born on February 13, 1921 in Greenwich, Connecticut. A high school baseball star he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization in 1940 and played for the Carthage Pirates of the Class D Arkansas-Missouri League. Castiglione


Castiglione returned to home in January 1946 and played for the Selma Cloverleafs of the Class B Southeastern League that year. Following a strong season in which he batted .342 with 81 RBIs, he moved up to the Indianapolis Indians of the Class AAA American Association for 1947, and was called up by the Pirates in September.

Castiglione made his major league debut on September 10, 1947. He appeared in 13 games and hit .250. He was back with Indianapolis for 1948, but after another strong year in which he batted .308 with 88 RBIs, he secured his place with the Pirates.

Castiglione spent the next four-and-a-half years in Pittsburgh as a utility infielder. His best season was 1951, when he played 132 games and batted .261 with 42 RBIs.

At 32, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in June 1953, where he ended his major league career the following year. Castiglione continued to play in the minors until 1958 with Toronto, Buffalo, Binghamton and Little Rock.

Pete Castiglione moved to Pompano Beach, Florida, where he became a letter carrier for the Postal Service. He always kept active in the sports community, refereeing and umpiring. He also acted as a scout for the Pirates, and wrote a column for the Pompano Town News. In 1967 he coached the Cardinal Gibbons High School baseball team to a fifth place finish in the state. He also coached the American Legion team.

Pete Castiglione passed away in Pompano Beach on April 22, 2010. He was 89.


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.


Former MLB Outfielder Willie Davis dead at 69

Willie Davis was an excellent defensive center fielder and a very good player overall but this was obscured by a variety of reasons.

The three errors he made in one inning of a 1966 World Series game
That he played his prime years in a pitcher’s era(the late 1960′s
That Davis made his living trying to hit in Dodger’s Stadium, one of the toughest hitter’s parks in baseball during his time.

Davis still amassed very good numbers. 2561 career hits, .279 career batting average, and more. I grew up watching and remember Davis very well. Thanks for the memories Willie and RIP.Willie Davis

Known as “Three Dog” for his ability to often hit triples and because he wore number three on his uniform for most of his career, Davis played on the Dodgers’ World Series championship teams in 1963 and 1965.

Davis set a Dodgers team record in 1969 with a 31-game hitting streak and remains the franchise’s all-time leader in hits, extra-base hits, at-bats, runs, triples and total bases.

“He was beloved by generations of Dodger fans and remains one of the most talented players ever to wear the Dodger uniform,” Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said in a statement.

“Having spent time with him over the past six years, I know how proud he was to have been a Dodger. He will surely be missed and our sincere thoughts are with his children during this difficult time.”

Davis was found dead in his California home on Tuesday by a neighbor who often brought him breakfast, Burbank police told Reuters. There were no signs of foul play and police said they expect Davis died of natural causes.

Davis spent his first 14 seasons with Los Angeles from 1960 to 1973 before going on to play for Montreal, Texas, St. Louis, San Diego and California.

During his career, Davis won three Gold Glove Awards, led the league in triples twice, and stole 20 or more bases in 11 consecutive years.


Former MLB Pitcher Jim Bibby dead at 65

I remember Bibby quite well. He was a good MLB pitcher who went 111-101 in a 13-year career. He was most remembered for his time in Texas and Pittsburgh but played for St. Louis and Cleveland also. Here’s something you probably won’t hear in reports on his death.Jim Bibby

He was originally in the New York Mets organization. A poor man’s black version of Nolan Ryan. Hard throwing righty with arm and control issues. The Mets gave up on Bibby at the same time they did the same with Ryan. Ryan went to California for Jim Fregosi and Bibby went to St. Louis for among other others Jim Beachump and Harry Parker. A pinch hitter and long reliever respectively on the 1973 pennant winning Mets but hardly compensation for a pitcher who went on to win 111 games. The Mets made a lot of bad trades and this is one of them though it was lesser known than others.

Thanks for memories Jim Bibby. RIP.

Community Funeral Home in Lynchburg said Wednesday that Bibby died Tuesday night at Lynchburg General Hospital. The cause was not disclosed. The family asked for privacy but said a statement would be released later.

Bibby played 12 years in the majors and pitched the first no-hitter in Texas Rangers history, beating Oakland 6-0 in 1973.

He was a member of the Pittsburgh team that won the 1979 World Series, starting two games against Baltimore — including the deciding seventh game.


Crystal Ball Time

My annual sports predictions for the upcoming year. Due to some unknown reason, I skipped doing this a year ago. What matters is I came back, right?

1 Cleveland beats the LA Lakers for the NBA Championship
2 Indianapolis defeats Arizona in the Super Bowl Crystall ball
3 San Jose defeats Washington for the Stanley Cup
4 St. Louis beats the Los Angeles Angels in the World Series
5 Tiger Woods returns to golf, wins at least one tournament but no major championships. That is a risky prediction in light of the fact that Tiger has won majors on 3 of this year’s host courses.(Augusta National, Pebble Beach, St. Andrews)
6 Phil Mickelson wins the US Open
7 Michelle Wie wins at least two tournaments, one of which is a major championship
8 Ji Yai Shin is LPGA player of the year
9 A non-Korean golfer will be LPGA rookie of the year
10 Yu-Na Kim wins figure skating gold at the 2010 Olympics
11 The Miami Dolphins don’t make this year’s playoffs but have a winning 2010 season
12 The Miami Heat make the playoffs but lose in the 1st round
13 The Florida Marlins have a winning record but don’t make the playoffs
14 Urban Meyer doesn’t return as coach of the Florida Gators
15 Joe Paterno announces his retirement after the 2010 Penn State season is complete
16 The Florida Panthers don’t make the playoffs
17 The Florida Panthers trade Goalie Tomas Vokoun
18 Manny Pacquiao loses to Floyd Mayweather
19 Kansas defeats Purdue for the NCAA Basketball Championship
20 Texas defeats Alabama in the BCS Championship game
21 Army has a winning football season and gets a bowl invitation
22 Washington Redskins fire Coach Jim Zorn
23 Serena Williams wins at Wimbledon
24 Versus and Directv finally settle their dispute
25 A North American horse racing track closes its doors.
26 Sebastian Vettel wins the Formula World Drivers Championship
27 New York Rangers fire Coach John Tortorella
28 The New Jersey Nets don’t finish with the worst record in NBA history
29 Connecticut defeats Tennessee for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship
30 At least half these predictions are wrong

We’ll come back on December 31st 2010 and see how I did.


Texas Rangers sign P Darren Oliver

This will be his third stint with the team. From the Dallas Morning News- Darren Oliver

The agreement between Darren Oliver and the Rangers is now official. He will receive $3 million in base salary this season with a vesting option worth $3.25 million. The option would vest if Oliver appears in 59 games in 2010. He has averaged 58 games a season over the last three years. If the option is not picked up, Oliver would receive a $500,000 buyout, guaranteeing him at least $3.5 million.

Oliver is a good acquisition in my opinion. Originally a starting pitcher, he has been a reliever of late. And not a left handed specialist, Oliver has been tough on right handed hitters during his career. The last two years of which was spent with the Los Angeles Angels where he went 12-2 with an ERA under 2.85.

A little known fact about Oliver is that he swings a pretty good bat. He has a .221 lifetime batting average. Of course in the Designated Hitter ruled American League Oliver is unlikely to be called upon to hit.

Note- I’ve always liked Oliver. Partly due to the fact he was a pitcher on my first ever Star Tournament Championship team back in October 2000.


Philadelphia Phillies sign IF Placido Polanco

He previously played for the Phillies from 2002 to 2005. From ESPN-

Placido Polanco is returning to the Philadelphia Phillies, signing a three-year, $18 million deal, with a mutual option for a fourth year.

The 34-year-old infielder arrived in Philadelphia on Thursday morning to take a physical, and told NBC-10 TV’s John Clark that he’s “excited to join a championship team.”

Before Wednesday, the Phillies appeared to be locked in on three potential free-agent third basemen — Polanco, Adrian Beltre and Mark DeRosa. But talks intensified with Polanco’s agents Wednesday, a day after his old team, the Tigers, declined to offer him arbitration.

Polanco is a Type A free agent, so the decision to not offer him arbitration means the Phillies signed him without losing their first-round draft pick.

Polanco played for the Phillies from 2002 to 2005. And their mutual familiarity appeared to be a major force driving their pursuit.


The Phillies declined the option on third baseman Pedro Feliz last month to see if they could find a righthanded-hitting offensive upgrade who could help balance their left-leaning lineup. They envision Polanco hitting second behind Jimmy Rollins, a move that would drop Shane Victorino lower in the order.

Polanco batted .337 at Citizens Bank Park while with the Phillies, with more walks (23) than strikeouts (20).

Philadelphia likes Polanco’s plate discipline. I think the signing was a good move. Polanco a more than solid Major League Baseball player.


Albert Pujols sets new record for 1st basebman assists.

He broke the previous mark set by Bill Buckner in 1985. From AP-

Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals has set the major league record for assists by a first baseman, getting his 185th of the year in the regular-season finale against Milwaukee.

Pujols topped the record set by Boston’s Bill Buckner in 1985, flipping to pitcher Joel Pineiro covering the bag on Jody Gerut’s groundout leading off the fifth. He earlier eclipsed the National League record of 180 assists by Mark Grace of the Cubs in 1990.

Pujols, a Gold Glove winner in 2006, received a long standing ovation after the Cardinals announced the achievement on a scoreboard.

A high assist total doesn’t automatically mark a 1st baseman as either a good or bad gloveman. Bill Buckner had bad ankles which caused his mobility to be limited and his defense to be subpar. Dick Stuart, Marv Throneberry were poor defensive players with high totals of assists. On the other hand Keith Hernandez was a perennial gold glover and had above average assist totals.

The most common assist for a first baseman is to the pitcher, but he also garners them with throws to 2nd(The shortstop) and to the catcher at home plate. The location of where the 1st baseman gets his assists is important to determining based on his stats if his defense is good or not.

Sound confusing? Welcome to the world of baseball defensive statistics.


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.


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