Keeping the Faith
Earlier this week, Carl Beane, Fenway Park's PA announcer, came to my place of employment to show people his ring. (Carl's wife works here and has been fielding inquires about when Carl might come in to show it off.) He was very gracious, allowing (even encouraging) anyone who wished to handle it, try it on, and take pictures. As people rotated through the room, he gave what he called the "guided tour" pointing out the various features of the ring. I knew most of it already, but I don't think I realized that each ring has 86 diamonds for the 86 years we had to wait between championships.
The real ring is obviously much more beautiful than the replica I was photographed wearing at Fenway Park last week. Carl's ring is also quite a bit smaller, so it felt much more comfortable on my finger. I could get used to wearing one.
"An old-fashioned pitchers' duel" is how WBZ radio's weekend sportscaster described Saturday's Red Sox loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The score was 2-0, which on the surface would seem to indicate a well-pitched game. But how much of a duel could it have been with a total of 16 hits, 9 walks, and 26 stranded baserunners in 9 innings of play?
Offensive production is up throughout MLB fairly steadily since the 1950s, according to numbers posted by one user on baseball-fever.com. So in the current era of quality pitching stretched thin, a 2-0 scoreor any shutoutis rare. Saturday's game was the first shutout of the Red Sox this season. Even shutouts by the Sox comprise less than 10% of their games this season and 15% of their wins. But most of those games were one-sided; there was but a lone 1-0 score among those 6 games, and the average number of runs scored by the Sox was 6.3. "Duels" they were not.
Nor is a low score by itself an indication of pitching achievement. There are eight other guys on the field at any given time whose job it is to prevent runs from scoring. On Saturday, we can safely say that it was the fielders, at least as much as the pitchers, who kept the score down. Shame on a reputable news organization like WBZ for getting it so wrong.
You're right/a true Pitcher's Duel, wouldn't have a ton of walks & hits like that. In the 1965 Perfect Game by Sandy Koufax, vs the Cubs, there was only one hit by the Dodgers & 1 Unearned Run Scored. LOB, for the Dodgers was 1.
Now, back in 1970, someone with a 3.84 ERA, was usually sent back to the minors, with more frequency. Considering that MLB is watered down with 30 Clubs, with coverage on FOX, except for Blue Jays on CTV, there have been 14 franchises coming into MLB since 1961.
I can't believe that someone who's pitching w/a 4-7 record & higher than 4ERA, can make $12M per season.
Hot off a three-game sweep of the hapless Cincinnati Reds, I popped into the Reds message board this morning to see what the fans were saying. There I found this:
From: micheal dean 10:25 am
This series was a total joke. The Boston Red Sox play a entirely differnet [sic] sport than the Reds do. Just look at their pay roll [sic]. We should start calling them the Boston Yankees. When a professional team competes against another and spend [sic] $100 million more than ther [sic] competitor I gaurantee [sic] you can predict the victor. It's like the Reds playing the D-Rays. What has baseball become? It's getting so predicatable [sic] it's beginning to bore me.
It is to be expected that the Red Sox would be criticized for their high payroll now that they have won the World Series (though it is interesting that such criticism was hard to find when they were losing). Still, the frustration of this Reds fan got me thinking about payroll disparity in Major League Baseball and, even more interesting to me, how wisely each teams spends its payroll dollars. Which teams are most effective with their spending? Who gets the most wins for their millions? Are there efficiency machines who win in spite of lower spending, and what does that say about the clubs who spend and spend but still lose?
I got some 2005 payroll data from onestopbaseball.com and crunched the numbers. In response to my Cincy friend's contention, I pointed out that the Red Sox don't come close to topping the Reds' payroll by $100 million. But in any event, the Reds simply aren't performing as well as they could be with the payroll they have:
[B]efore you start singing the blues about the poor Reds, you ought to consider that while your team has about half the dollars to work with than the Red Sox (and less than one-third of what the Yankees have), blaming the payroll discrepancy doesn't quite get your team off the hook. The fact is they are doing less with what they have than several other teams. While they rank 18th of 30 in payroll, they are way down at 27th place in terms of their current win/loss record. If you look at payroll as a measure of what the team SHOULD be able to accomplish, the Reds should be in 4th place in their division, not last place. If they were getting as many wins for their payroll dollars as the Pirates, the lowest payroll team in the National League, they would have 48 or 49 wins right now instead of 26. (I admit that isn't realistic - the best team in MLB only has 43 wins right now - but it gives you some idea of how little bang for the buck the Reds get compared to the NL's poorest team.)
Further analysis, carried out for my own interest, reveals some other interesting tidbits about other teams. First, the raw numbers:
To put salaries in perspective, compare the teams at either end of the payroll spectrum:
You can argueand many people havethat high-payroll teams are "buying" success. While they are trying, are they succeeding? And are the poorest teams failing? Not necessarily:
If you want to look at teams in order of how much success they really are getting for their payroll dollars, you begin to see some surprises:
There you have it: proof positive that, at least to this point in 2005, spending money is not necessarily the same thing as spending it wisely. While George Steinbrenner tries to win by signing the 25 best players (individuals), other teams (like the 2004 Red Sox) had more success by putting together the best 25 players (group). The latter costs much less than the formerwhich is why teams like the White Sox, Orioles, and Nationals are the teams to watch through the summer.
So for all you Reds fans (and Mariners and Astros and Giants fans), you may very well be stuck with an unfair payroll structure for some time to come. But before you complaint about it as the cause of your failures, look inward and understand that, like the welfare family that subscribes to digital cable TV, even the poor can be wasteful.
Kelly, I, who lives in the Borough of Queens, in NYC, actually realize what caused the NY Mets, to spend like drunken sailors, over the past few years;
There had been a feud between Mets Owners, Nelson Doubleday, & Fred Wilpon.
This starts to get nasty after the 2000 World Series, involving the NL Champion Mets & the AL Champion(& Future '04 ALCS Chokers, the NY Yankees);
While the Yankees were spending money to retool, towards the Last Night of The Yankee Dynasty, Doubleday & Wilpon, were at war.
Under Doubleday, bringing in more Star-Calibur Players, was his goal, while Wilpon was getting his reputation, for being "Freddie Coupon", in getting Class B Free Agents(2 to 3 Stiffs for The Price of One Legitimate Star).
@ The Centre of The Controversy, was the Signing of a Mr(Or is that Ms) Alex Rodriguez(Now known as DORA & Slappy McBluelips).
Rodriguez is a proven to be Superstar, & grew up rooting for The Mets.
Wilpon, meanwhile, was plotting to buy out Nellie Doubleday.
In '01, outside of Mr Michael Piazza, the Mets had little to no offense. SS Rey Ordonez was no offense @ all, causing for losses of 1-0, often to pitchers, who had 7.05 & 9.27 ERA.
One Pitcher, had a 1-7 WL Record by May, '01, & was sent to NorfolkAAA, because he couldn't pitch to save his life(Steve Trachsel), but, came back, pitching to standing ovations @ Shea Stadium(10-7 rest of the 2nd Half of Season in '01).
Wilpon bought out Doubleday, & became Sole Owner.
He tied the hands of his GM, Mr G. Stephen Phillips(The Same Guy from "Baseball Tonight" on ESPN). He tied the Hands of Mgr, Mr Robert Valentine, now back in Japan. Valentine couldn't stand his Pitching Coach, in 1999 & 2000, because he was an amigo of Philips, namely Mr Dave Wallace, the Current Pitching Guru of the '04 WS Champion Boston Red Sox. '99 & '00, were the best years the Mets would have in the Valentine Tenure.
However, the Assistant to Philips, was Omar Minaya(Now Mets GM). Much of The Contending Mets Team, had The Minaya DNA, hence, he went home to NY.
As for trading to get Robbie Alomar & Mo Vaughn, these were panic moves, as attendance @ Shea Stadium, was dropping.
Tactically Bad decisions, on the part of Fred Wilpon, is the Cause of The Return of Minaya, with an attempt(A Good One) to return the Mets to some Winning Form. Minaya remembered his days as a Kid, growing up in Elmhurst, Queens, & Going To Shea Stadium. Another Kid, growing up in Brownsville, Brooklyn, used to pay his way into Upper Level in that same Stadium &, now gets Paid to sit in Dugout Seats, in the Same place. His Name? Willie Randolph(Yes, he grew up rooting for The Mets).
Now that the team will have a NESN Style TV Network, in '06, that's why there was a signing of the Pedro Martinez Variety. Pedro's been fabulous. He's also got people wanting to go to Shea Stadium, again.
The NY Mets, the NL Club, born in 1962, the team which Red Sox Nation, watches in NYC, is beginning to make some good moves.
Yankee Fans-Please-don't come to Shea-You're NOT WELCOME.
Kelly & The Sistahs-You most-definitely, are Welcome in Corona, Queens.
(Photo by MrsBeasley)
Exceptionally pleasant & wonderful to look @, Kelly, as well as quite an anylist. You would do a far better job @ being FOX Sport's Lead Baseball Colourman, Tim McObvious.
Kelly? That Ring is Really You!
With talk of the Cubs series, many Red Sox fans are thinking historically. One historical note about this match-up is that both teams have been continuous participants since the inception of their respective leagues and have played in one city throughout their histories. How many other such teams are there in major league baseball today, the Triumphant Red Sox Fan wondered?
The National League, which dates back to 1876, has but one original team remainingthe team now known as the Cubs. The team now known as the Chicago Cubs. But if you look at teams pre-1900 who have been continuously in existence in the league in the same city, there are four:
The existence of the Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh ball clubs predates their participation in the National League, as all three teams played in the American Association first.
For all of you inclined to point out that the New York Yankees were one of the charter franchises in the American League, I would point out that the Yankees franchise began in Baltimore, where they played as the Orioles in 1901 and 1902 before moving to New York as the Highlanders in 1903. The present-day Baltimore Orioles are also a charter AL franchise, though they began in 1901 as the Milwaukee Brewers and then operated as the St. Louis Browns from 1902-53. The current Milwaukee Brewers, on the other hand, are a relatively new franchise, having begun as the Seattle Pilots in 1969. The history of Major League Baseball is rife with such confusing genealogy.
@ 1st, there was The Cincinnatti Red Stockings, from 1869 to 1870. They Then move to Boston, playing in The National Association, then The NL, from 1871 until 1952, then Milwaukee, from '53 til '65, then Atlanta, from '66, until present time. Hence, this makes the Braves Franchise, the longest-running of all the clubs, lasting longest times in 2 state capitals.
Prior to the AL, its' predecessor, the Western League, had a franchise in Buffalo, NY. When the Western League became the AL, the Buffalo Franchise was moved to Boston.
This weekend's three-game series between the Red Sox and Cubs at Chicago's famous Wrigley Field has been called by some a return to Wrigley for the Red Sox. Indeed, the so-called "Friendly Confines" have been home to Chicago's National League baseball team since 1916, when Charles H. Weeghman bought the team and moved them to the two-year-old ballpark that had previously hosted a Federal League team, and the two teams did face each other in the 1918 World Series.
The Series wasn't played at Wrigley, though. Chicago's home games in that series took place across town at the original Comiskey Park because Wrigleythen known as Weeghman Parkwas too small to accommodate the crowds.
So while it isn't a "return" to Wrigley for the Red Sox, it is a return to non-exhibition play against the Cubs. Even if that doesn't mean much to the current players (some of whom recently played for the other team, and none of whom were around for the 1918 World Series), it's a noteworthy event for those of us who revel in the history of the game and our team.
But the significance of the series is diminished by the Red Sox' victory in last year's Fall Classic. No longer is a Red Sox-Cubs rematch any bigger deal than, say, the Red Sox-Pirates rematch was a few years back. It is less so, as a matter of fact, because Boston and Pittsburgh were opponents in the very first World Series in 1903, and that will never change. What has changed is that 1918 is no longer the last Red Sox World Championship.
Don't expect that to alter the way the national commentators play up the weekend series, though. With Saturday's game televised on Fox and Sunday evening's on ESPN, look for lots of garbage about the 1918 Series, all of it designed to compensate for the announcers' lack of any depth of knowledge about the teams they cover. If they actually knew what they were talking about, they wouldn't harp on the Red Sox' and Cubs' mutual dearth of championships over such a long period. Instead, they would highlight every Cubs-White Sox interleague series. Those are the teams that have gone the longest in their respective leagues since winning a World Series championshipand they were the two teams with the longest dry spells even before the Red Sox won it all in 2004. While the Red Sox won the 1918 contest, the White Sox haven't won since 1917.
I once asked a Cubs fan at spring training why he thought it was that all the attention was paid to the Red Sox and Cubs for their respective droughts, while the White Sox are pretty much let off the hook. His response was blunt: "No one cares about the White Sox." Evidently it's the Cubbies who have all the cachet in Chicago, as it was the Red Sox who were the favored team back when the Braves were still in town, the 1914 Miracle Braves being the notable exception. Even in the absence of a cross-town rivalry since the Braves left for Milwaukee after the 1952 season, the Red Sox still own this town over the dormant Bruins, the rebuilding Celtics, and even the perennial Super Bowl Champion Patriots.
That said, this weekend will be special for a number of reasons. We Sox fans will have a chance to see our old friend Todd Walker play his former mates for the first time since he left as a free agent between the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Likewise, Cubs fans will witness the return of Bill Mueller, Mark ballroom, and Matt Clement, though Clement is not scheduled to pitch. For Sox fans making the road trip, the visit to Wrigley, mollifies second-oldest ballpark, will be a unique chance to see our boys play in baseball's other shrine.
So enjoy the weekend series against an unfamiliar opponent in a legendary ballpark. But leave the references to 1918 behind. For Sox fans, it is just another year in which our team prevailed.
www.vintagesportscardmemorabilia.com/ is a great site for serious baseball memorabilia collectors.