Monday, August 31, 2020

Did Yanks Turn Season Around vs. Mets?

UPDATE and Spoiler Alert: No, they didn't.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced postponements in Major League Baseball to the point where the Yankees had to play 5 games against the Mets in 2 days -- or, as it turned out, 39 innings in a span of 48 hours, with the doubleheader games limited to 7 innings.

The Friday games turned into utter disasters for the Pinstripes. Jordan Montgomery pitched 5 strong innings in the opener, and was given a 4-0 lead after just 2 innings, including a home run by Clint Frazier.

But Montgomery got shaky in the 6th, and then Chad Green finished blowing the lead. The Mets scored 5 runs, and won it, 6-4. WP: Walter Lockett (1-0, and, no, I'd never heard of him, either). SV: Edwin Diaz (2, and you know you've had a bad game when you let Edwin Diaz nail down a save). LP: Green (2-2).

*

The nightcap was even worse. Because this was the rescheduling of a game that was meant to be played at Citi Field, the Yankees were officially the visiting team: Still wearing their home Pinstripes, but batting in the top halves of the innings.

Jonathan Loaisiga was, in effect, an "opener," and allowed just 1 run over 3 innings. But, because Brian Cashman is the operational manager of the Yankees, and Aaron Boone is just his press secretary, taking the hard questions so that the coward Cashman doesn't have to, Boone had to pull Loaisiga.

At first, this worked, as Adam Ottavino pitched a scoreless 4th. So, leave him in, right? Wrong: Cashman told Boone to pull him, and bring in Nick Nelson, to protect a 3-1 lead. He allowed a run. Then Cashman told Boone to bring in another relief pitcher, in this case the known unreliable Luis Cessa. He was okay in the 6th.

But for the 7th and last inning, Cashman told Boone to bring in another relief pitcher. Seriously: How many pitchers does it take to pitch 7 innings? It should only take one.

This time, which pitcher was being brought in was understandable: Aroldis Chapman, the closer. Except...

Cliche Alert: Walks can kill you, especially the leadoff variety. Chapman walked the leadoff man, Jeff McNeil. Then he gave up a home run to Amed Rosario. Game over. Mets 4, Yankees 3. WP: Jared Hughes (1-1). No save. LP: Chapman (0-1).

A walkoff home run for the Mets, over the Yankees, at Yankee Stadium. That had never happened before, in either Yankee Stadium.

The preceding Monday, the Yankees were 16-6, and led the American League Eastern Division by 2 1/2 games over the Tampa Bay Rays. Now, they were 16-13, and 4 games behind the Rays.

Seven straight losses. Including 2, at home, in ghastly fashion, to the Mets.

The season was looking over. It looked like, for all their complaints about their own general manager, Brodie Van Wagenen was the best GM in New York baseball.

And the thought of firing Brian Cashman has still never crossed Hal Steinbrenner's mind. Maybe he was adopted.

*

The Saturday game would be the only game intended as 9 innings. And it looked like the Yankees would lose their 8th straight game. Every team in Major League Baseball has had at least one losing streak of at least 8 games since 2007 -- except the Yankees, who hadn't had one since 1995.

But DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela were back, off the Injured List. This would turn out to be huge. Huger still: J.A. Happ, the Yankees' worst starter so far this season, pitched beautifully, going into the 8th inning (but only 90 pitches, so maybe Cashman didn't feel like he was having a stroke), allowing no runs on 3 hits and no walks, striking out 5.

And then Boone, probably on Cashman's orders, took Happ out after getting the 1st out in the 8th. Worse, he brought in Ottavino. As Papa Bear would say in the Berenstain Bears stories, "That is what you should not do. Now. let that be a lesson to you." The score was only 1-0, thanks to an early Luke Voit home run. Ottavino gave up a homer to Wilson Ramos. Tie ballgame.

It was still 1-1 in the bottom of the 9th. Who comes in to pitch for the Mets? Ex-Yankee Dellin Betances. Cliche Alert: Walks can kill you, especially the leadoff variety. He walked Clint Frazier. He struck Brett Gardner out, then allowed a single to Jordy Mercer, a longtime journeyman for the Pittsburgh Pirates that the Yankees had recently signed. Frazier got to 3rd.

And, with backup catcher Erik Kratz at the plate, Betances threw a wild pitch. Frazier came home. Ballgame over, Yankees... You know the rest.

Yankees 2, Mets 1. WP: Chapman (1-1). No save. LP: Betances (0-1).

What a Mets way to win the game. So much so that John Sterling did not turn to Suzyn Waldman and say, "You know, Suzyn, you just can't predict baseball." The Mets will never be a complete surprise with the way they lose games. They will always be a team with its roots in the 40-120 inaugural season of 1962, when former Yankee manager Casey Stengel said, "Come and see my amazing Mets! I been in this game 100 years, but they've shown me ways to lose I never knew existed before."

*

Did that game turn the season around for the Yankees? Mike King started yesterday's opener, and he was a little shaky. Brooks Kriskie came in to relieve, and he was a lot shaky. Between them, Ben Heller and Green pitched 3 scoreless innings.

It didn't seem to matter. Rick Porcello, given up for dead by most baseball fans, allowed only 2 runs over 5 innings, and it looked like the Yankees didn't deserve to win. They went into the bottom of the 7th and last inning trailing 7-2, and it looked hopeless.

But among the things that can cause as much damage as a leadoff walk is a leadoff error, and Andres Giminez mishandled Mike Ford's leadoff grounder to 3rd. Hughes got the next 2 outs, but then, well, here comes that cliche about walks again. He walked Tyler Wade. Then he loaded the bases by hitting Thairo Estrada with a pitch. Voit singled home 2 runs.

Met manager Luis Rojas brought in his closer, Diaz. Estrada scored on a wild pitch. And then Aaron Hicks hit a screamer that just got over the right field fence. Tie ballgame.

It went to the 8th, which, under the current rules, takes the form of the 10th, and it starts with a runner on 2nd base. I don't like this rule, and it should go before next season. This time, though, it helped the Yankees. The runner on 2nd was Mike Tauchman. With 1 out in the 8th, Ford worked Diaz for a walk. Diaz got Gardner to fly out to center, but Urshela singled Tauchman home.

Yankees 8, Mets 7. WP: Green (3-2). No save. LP: Diaz (1-1).

As John Lennon would have said if he were a baseball Met fan, "Nobody told me there'd be Diaz like these. Strange Diaz, indeed. Most peculiar, Mama!"

*

The nightcap, also with the Yankees serving as the visiting team, featured the major league debut of 21-year-old Dominican righthander Deivi García, one of Cashman's precious "prospects" he's been building around since the infamous Trade Deadline Surrender of '16.

He didn't allow a baserunner through the 1st 3 innings, and the Yankees gave him a boost through a home run by Tyler Wade leading off the 3rd. But an error by Voit in the 6th led to the Mets tying the game, and denying García the victory. Jonathan Holder pitched a scoreless 7th.

The game went to the 8th inning, with Gardner as the man starting on 2nd. Drew Smith was on the mound for the Mets, and, well, what do I say about leadoff walks? He walked Frazier. He got Urshela to fly to left, but it was enough to advance the runners. He intentionally walked Tauchman to load the bases and set up an out at any base.

Boone sent Gary Sanchez to pinch-hit for Kratz, and Yankee Fans everywhere lost their minds, because Sanchez has been hitting so poorly. Sanchez crushed a grand slam deep into the left-center Bleachers. Michael Kay said, "Boy, did he need that!"

Holder got a strikeout to start the bottom of the 8th, but walked a batter. Uh-oh... He got a forceout, but then allowed an RBI single, and another single, and Boone had to take him out. And he put in Cessa. There was no reason to do that: Chapman hadn't pitched all day. But Cessa struck Ramos out to end it.

Yankees 5, Mets 2. WP: Holder (1-0). SV: Cessa (1). LP: Smith (0-1).

*

So the Yankees lost the 1st 2 games of this series with the Mets, and won the last 3. They could have lost all 5, but then, they also could have won all 5.

Now, the Rays come in, and the Yankees trail them by 3 1/2 games, but just 2 in the loss column. There are 28 games to play.

If we can just get through today's trading deadline without Cashman trading any established major league players for a bunch of prospects...

Friday, August 28, 2020

Yankees Lack the Mental Strength; Lute Olson, 1934-2020

A week ago, the Yankees and their fans were on an emotional high after sweeping the Boston Red Sox 4 straight.

Then they dropped 3 straight at home to the Tampa Bay Rays, making it 6 losses in our last 7 games against them. Then we had to postpone the interleague Citi Series/Subway Derby with the Mets, due to COVID-19 restrictions. Then we lost 2 games against the Atlanta Braves, including Gerrit Cole's 20-game winning streak coming to an end, scoring just 2 runs in the process.

Now, we have to face the Mets 5 times in the next 3 days, without sending either Cole or Masahiro Tanaka out there. Or any other good starting pitcher, for that matter, because of our injuries and suspensions.

We were in 1st place in the American League Eastern Division. Now, we're 2 1/2 games behind the Rays, although we're dead even with them in the all-important loss column.

There are 28 games left in this most irregular of regular seasons, assuming we play at all, between the restrictions and the boycotts due to racist white cops shooting unarmed black suspects.

The Yankees aren't physically ready to play these games, given all their injuries. I don't know if they're mentally ready to play these games, given that, thanks to the acquisitions and other maneuvers of Brian Cashman, Yankees don't seem to have what former Arsenal manager manager Arsène Wenger called "the mental strength."

Plus, for the last 4 days, we've had to listen to Donald Trump and his lackeys tell lie after bigoted lie on national television. That's enough to sap anybody's mental strength.

Anybody really ready for baseball at this point?

*

Lute Olson died yesterday, from complications of a series of strokes, at the age of 85. Born on September 22, 1934 in Mayville, North Dakota as Robert Luther Olson, he was only the 2nd-greatest basketball coach to come from North Dakota, behind Phil Jackson. But he was the best one at the college level.

A graduate of Augsburg College, an NCAA Division III school in Minneapolis, the closest big city to the Dakotas, he wasn't drafted by an NBA team. So he went right into coaching, at high schools, from 1956 to 1969.

In 1969, he became the head coach at Long Beach City College outside Los Angeles. In 1973, he was hired by nearby California State University, Long Beach (usually listed as "Long Beach State" for sports purposes). After just 1 season there, winning the 1974 Pacific Coast Athletic Association title, he was hired by the University of Iowa. He took the Hawkeyes to the 1979 Big Ten Conference regular-season title, and to the NCAA Final Four in 1980. He remains the best basketball coach the school has ever had.

Which is saying something about his abilities, because that's not the school he's best remembered for. In 1983, he was hired by the University of Arizona. He led them to the Pacific-10 (now Pacific-12) Conference regular-season title in 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2005. He won the Pac-10 Tournament in 1988, 1989, 1990 and 2002 -- meaning he won both, what English soccer fans would call "The Double," in 1988, 1989 and 1990, 3 straight seasons.

He got the school to its 1st Final Four in 1988, marking the 1st time any school from the State of Arizona had made it. He did it again in 1994, and again in 1997, winning the National Championship. His Wildcats defeated the Kentucky Wildcats in the Final, stopping them from winning 3 straight National Championships. He got Arizona to another Final Four in 2001. He also coached the U.S. national team, still all-amateur back then, to the 1986 FIBA World Championship.

He retired due to health issues after the 2008 season, with a career record of 781-280. Overall, he won 13 Conference Championships, 4 Conference Tournaments, and 8 league and 2 national Coach of the Year awards. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2001, his wife Bobbi, formerly Roberta Russell, died of cancer, and the playing surface at Arizona's arena, the McKale Center, is named the Lute and Bobbi Olson Court. A statue of Lute stands outside the arena.

Lute and Bobbi had 5 children. After she died, Lute married twice more. His daughter Jody Brase is a high school principal. Her son Matt Brase played for his grandfather at Arizona, then became an assistant coach at the school, and is now an assistant with the Houston Rockets. Jody's daughter Julie Hairgrove played for the Arizona women's team, and is now an assistant with the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury.

*

Days until Rutgers University plays football again: Unknown. They were supposed to kick off the 2020 season on September 5. Then the Big Ten Conference canceled all nonconference games, pushing the season opener ahead to September 26. Then they canceled all Fall sports, with the hope of playing the 2020 football season in the Spring. Who knows.

Days until the next Rutgers-Penn State football game: Unknown. It was supposed to be the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, November 28.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: Unknown. They were supposed to kick off the 2020 season on September 3. Then it got pushed back to October 2. Now, nobody knows.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge football game: See the previous answer. The Big Green's season opener was supposed to be against the Purple Bastards.

Days until the next U.S. national soccer team game: Unknown. Currently, neither the men's nor the women's team has any matches scheduled.

Days until Arsenal play again: 1, tomorrow, at 11:30 AM New York time, in the Community Shield, English soccer's annual season-opening exhibition game at the national stadium, the new Wembley Stadium in West London, between the winners of the previous season's FA Cup, in this case Arsenal; and the winners of the previous season's Premier League title, in this case Liverpool.

Days until the New York Red Bulls play again: 1, tomorrow night at 8:00, against the New England Revolution, at the MLS "bubble" outside Orlando.

Days until the Red Bulls play another "derby" game: See the previous answer.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 3, this Monday night, at Fenway Park.

Days until the 1st Presidential Debate: 32, on Tuesday night, September 29, in Cleveland. Joe Biden and Donald Trump will also debate on Thursday night, October 15, in Miami; and on Thursday night, October 22, in Nashville. If, that is, the cowardly Trump shows up.

Days until the 2020 Presidential election: 67, on Tuesday, November 3. Under 10 weeks. As the old saying goes, and it really is true this time, "This time, vote like your life depended on it."

Days until the New Jersey Devils play again: Unknown, as the NHL hasn't yet made out its 2020-21 season schedule. That's understandable, given all the uncertainty with trying to wrap up the 2019-20 season. Last I heard, the League was talking about starting next season on or around December 1. If that is the date, then it's 95 days, or a little over 3 months.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: Unknown, although it's unlikely that their 1st game of the season, or even their 1st home game, will be against a traditional rival.

Days until the next North London Derby: 99, on Saturday, December 5, at 10:00 AM New York time, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in North London. This game will likely be moved, either to another time that day, or to the next day, or maybe to the Monday night, for TV and ratings purposes.

Days until a new Congress convenes, hopefully fully Democratic: 129, on Monday, January 4, 2021. A little over 4 months. Ordinarily, it would be January 3, but that's a Sunday next year.

Days until the next Presidential Inauguration: 145, on Wednesday, January 20, 2021. Under 5 months. Liberation Day.

Days until the COVID-delayed Euro 2020 opens in Paris: 287, on June 11, 2021. Under 10 months.

Days until the COVID-delayed 2020 Olympics open in Tokyo, Japan: 310, on July 4, 2021. A little over 10 months.

Days until Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz become eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame: 501, on January 11, 2022. Under 17 months until we find out whether lying about having been caught taking steroids, as Big Papi did, is better than telling the truth about it, as A-Rod did.

Days until the next Winter Olympics open in Beijing, China: 525, on February 4, 2022. A little over 17 months.

Days until the next World Cup opens in Qatar: 815, on November 21, 2022. Under 27 months.

Days until the next Women's World Cup opens, a joint hosting by Australia and New Zealand: 1,046, on July 10, 2023. A little over 34 months.

Scores On This Historic Day: August 28, 1968, Riot at the Democratic Convention

August 28, 1968: The Democratic National Convention is in progress, held at the International Amphitheatre, at 4200 South Halsted Street on the South Side of Chicago. Anger over the Party's role in the Vietnam War has led to the incumbent President, Lyndon B. Johnson, dropping out of the race for what would have amounted to a 2nd full term.

Given the way things were set up at the time, with Primaries not yet having the influence they would have -- the 1968 nomination process would lead the Democratic Party to change the process for 1972 and thereafter -- once LBJ dropped out, the nominee was always going to be the Vice President, Hubert Humphrey.

It was not going to be Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York, brother of John F. Kennedy, the President whose assassination in 1963 led to the rise of LBJ from Vice President to President. RFK had won key Primaries, but Johnson, no longer a candidate but still the leader of the Party, controlled the Delegates. RFK was shot and killed mere minutes after claiming victory in the California Primary, but even if he had lived, the chances of his winning the nomination over Humphrey were not good.

It was not going to be Senator Eugene McCarthy of Wisconsin: He was a single-issue candidate, and once Bobby Kennedy got into the race, he became "the peace candidate," and McCarthy was finished.

With RFK dead, and McCarthy only running half-heartedly thereafter, there was no real challenge to Humphrey. And people who wanted the war over were furious. They demonstrated in Chicago's Grant Park, which the main hotel for Convention Delegates, the Conrad Hilton Hotel (now the Hilton Chicago), overlooked.

And, egged on by agitators Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin -- who were more interested in making trouble than peace -- the demonstrators challenged the Chicago Police. The Police charged, and there was a riot. It became known as "the New Battle of the Midway" and "the Melee on Michigan Avenue."

A week later, former Vice President Richard Nixon, already nominated for President by the Republican Party, rode in an open car down Michigan Avenue, and was wildly cheered. Nixon may have been the only person who went to Chicago that Summer and got his reputation enhanced.

Republicans have long blamed Nixon's very close 1960 loss to John F. Kennedy on shenanigans by officials in Chicago. In 1968, events in Chicago made Nixon the 37th President of the United States.

Scores of Major League Baseball games on that Wednesday, August 28, 1968:

* The New York Yankees were actually in Chicago that night, a mile and a half to the northeast, at Comiskey Park. They lost to the Chicago White Sox, 3-0. Rookie lefthander Jerry Nyman got his 1st major league victory, outpitching Mel Stottlemyre. The only Yankee hits were singles by Mickey Mantle, Horace Clarke, and 2 by catcher Frank Fernandez. Nyman would make his last big-league appearance just 2 years later, with a career record of 6-7.

* Back in the Big Apple, the New York Mets hosted a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds at Shea Stadium, and got swept, losing the 1st game 8-3, and losing the 2nd game 5-2.

* The Atlanta Braves sweep the Philadelphia Phillies in a doubleheader at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia. The Braves win the 1st game 9-2, and the 2nd game 2-1.

* The Washington Senators beat the Baltimore Orioles, 3-2 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.

* The Oakland Athletics beat the Boston Red Sox, 5-3 at Fenway Park in Boston.

* The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 8-0 at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.

* The Cleveland Indians beat the Minnesota Twins, 3-2 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

* The Detroit Tigers beat the California Angels, 6-1 at Tiger Stadium in Detroit.

* In a doubleheader at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Dodgers lost the 1st game to the Chicago Cubs, 7-4, but won the 2nd game, 8-4.

* And the San Francisco Giants beat the Houston Astros, 4-3 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

Scores On This History Day: August 28, 1963, the March On Washington

August 28, 1963: The March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom is held at the Lincoln Memorial. A crowd usually listed as 250,000 or 300,000 attends.

It is organized by A. Philip Randolph, the leading figure of the black wing of America's labor movement, who had canceled a similar march in 1941 after getting concessions from President Franklin D. Roosevelt; and Bayard Rustin, who had organized the anti-segregation Freedom Rides in 1961.

Mahalia Jackson, then America's greatest living singer of gospel music, sang "How I Got Over." Marian Anderson, who had sung at the Lincoln Memorial in an Easter concert before 75,000 in 1939, sang "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands."

Joan Baez sang "We Shall Overcome," Bob Dylan sang, "Only a Pawn in Their Game," and, then a couple, together they sang Bob's song "When the Ship Comes In." Peter, Paul and Mary sang "If I Had a Hammer" and Bob's song "Blowin' in the Wind." Odetta sang "I'm On My Way."

Other celebrities on hand: Singers Josephine Baker, Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis Jr., Diahann Carroll, Lena Horne, Judy Garland and Bobby Darin; actors Sidney Poitier, Marlon Brando, Burt Lancaster, James Garner, Robert Ryan, Rita Moreno, married couple Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, married couple Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, and, surprising many people only old enough to remember him as a conservative and a gun-rights advocate, Charlton Heston; novelist James Baldwin; and baseball trailblazer Jackie Robinson.

The highlight of the demonstration was the speech by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Already famous since his role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama in 1955 and '56, he had written Letter from Birmingham Jail earlier in the year, so his speech was highly anticipated.

Early in his speech, he said some things that many white Americans did not want to hear -- and probably still don't, because they are largely still true:

In a sense, we have come to our Nation’s Capital to cash a check. When the architects of our great republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.
This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given its colored people a bad check, a check that has come back marked "insufficient funds."
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and security of justice.
A little later, he said:
We cannot be satisfied as long as a colored person in Mississippi cannot vote, and a colored person in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.
No, no we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
When he seemed to be wrapping up, Mahalia Jackson remembered a speech he had given a few weeks earlier, in which he spoke of a dream he had. She said, "Martin, tell them about the dream." He did:
I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that, one day, this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that, one day, out in the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that, one day, even the state of Mississippi, a State sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.


I have a dream that my four little children will, one day, live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by their character. I have a dream today.

He went on a little longer with this point. And his closing was unforgettable: 

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But, not only that, let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

"My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died. Land of thy pilgrims' pride. From every mountainside, let freedom ring."

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every State and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual, "Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last."

Watching the speech on television, President John F. Kennedy told the others in the room, "He's damn good." Afterward, Dr. King was among the figures from the demonstration invited to meet him at the White House.

*

I don't know why this demonstration was scheduled for a Wednesday afternoon, instead of a weekend. There were baseball games scheduled for this day, and these were the results:

* The New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox, 4-1 at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees hit no home runs. The only Boston run came on a homer by Dick Stuart, the slugging 1st baseman whose fielding was so bad, he was known as "Dr. Strangeglove."

Whitey Ford pitched a complete game, outpitching Earl Wilson. In spite of the Red Sox' poor record on race relations, a year earlier, pitching for them, Wilson became the 1st black pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the American League. (The 1st in the National League was Sam Jones of the Chicago Cubs, in 1959. Like an earlier white Yankee pitcher named Sam Jones, he was known as Sad Sam.)

* The New York Mets lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 7-2 at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.

* The Baltimore Orioles beat the Kansas City Athletics, 3-1 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.

* The Chicago White Sox swept a doubleheader from the Cleveland Indians at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, winning the 1st game 8-3, and the 2nd game 3-1.

* The Detroit Tigers beat the Los Angeles Angels, 2-1 at Tiger Stadium in Detroit.

* The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Chicago Cubs, 8-7 at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

* The Milwaukee Braves beat the Houston Colt .45s (who became the Astros in 1965), 9-1 at Colt Stadium in Houston.

* The Cincinnati Reds beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 9-5 at Dodger Stadium.

* And the San Francisco Giants beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-3 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Scores On This Historic Day: August 25, 1944, The Liberation of Paris

August 25, 1944: The Allies liberate Paris, the capital of France, ending the Nazi occupation after 4 years and 2 months. It is no longer a question of if the Nazis will lose World War II, but when.

Major League Baseball scores on this historic day, a Friday:

* The New York Yankees beat the Washington Senators, 4-2 in 11 innings at Griffith Stadium in Washington.

* The New York Giants beat the Brooklyn Dodgers, 10-2 at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan.

* A doubleheader was played at Shibe Park (later renamed Connie Mack Stadium) in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Athletics swept the Boston Red Sox, winning the 1st game 6-1, and the 2nd game 9-4.

* A doubleheader was played at Braves Field in Boston. The Philadelphia Phillies won the 1st game, 9-7. The Boston Braves won the 2nd game, 4-3.

* The Cleveland Indians beat the Chicago White Sox, 10-2 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

* The Detroit Tigers beat the St. Louis Browns, 1-0 at Briggs Stadium (later renamed Tiger Stadium) in Detroit.

* The Cincinnati Reds beat the Chicago Cubs, 2-0 at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

* And the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-0 at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

How Many More Years of Failure Will You Accept, Before You Accept That Cashman Must Go?

To paraphrase Billy Joel, himself a Yankee Fan:

In the space of less than 3 full days, the Yankees went from the Mountains of Faith to the Valley of Fear, the Jungle of Doubt, and, especially (given comments by alleged Yankee Fans on social media) the Desert of Truth.

We were on such a high after sweeping the Boston Red Sox 4 straight. Then we lost 3 straight to the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that shouldn't even exist.

I'll spare you the details of things like losing pitchers, blown leads, failed comebacks, et al. Suffice it to say that none of these losses should have happened.

Injuries is no excuse. I don't care if we're down to the Scranton lineup: The New York Yankees should be able to win at least 1 game of a home series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

This as followed by the next series, against the Mets, being postponed because Met players had tested positive for COVID-19. For once, it looks like the Yankees and their fans who benefited more from the postponement.

Officially, the Yankees are still in 1st place in the American League Eastern Division -- tied with the Rays, but, having played fewer games, a game ahead of them in the all-important loss column.

But this makes 6 out of 7 recent games against them lost.

Why?

Because general manager Brian Cashman has assembled a roster incapable of beating the Rays.

I saw some Yankee Fans blaming field manager Aaron Boone for it. I saw one Twitterer write, "It's over. The Boone love affair from "savages in the box" is over. Fun while it lasted."

We will always love Boone, because of one swing of the bat in 2003.

But it has become obvious that he is not the actual manager of the New York Yankees. He is merely the press secretary for the real manager, Cashman. Boone is there to take the hard questions as to why the Yankees aren't winning, so Cashman doesn't have to.

Cashman gets to take the praise from making the transactions that look like they will build a World Champion. Boone has to take the bullets for when they don't.

Joe Girardi got tired of being treated like this, and when his contract ran out, he wasn't given a new one. Now, he is the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, and is probably the one man for whom facing the Philadelphia media must feel like a piece of cake.

It seems like every player on the Yankees is either injured, or a gutless wonder, or both.

Brian Cashman built this team, but he didn't build this team on rock and roll.

Meanwhile, Didi Gregorius is batting .299.

Until the Yankees fire Cashman from all roles within the organization, they will not win a Pennant.

He is to the Yankees what Jeff Wilpon is to the Mets, and what James Dolan is to the Knicks and the Rangers. You know the old saying, "The (Name of Team) is just one man away from a title"? For the Yankees, that one man is Brian Cashman.

There are idiots on Facebook pages who tell me Cashman is the best GM in baseball; that, if the Yankees fired him, any other team would hire him immediately.

Based on what? His record? Not his recent record. 10 years of failure. He has won nothing without George Steinbrenner's money and Gene Michael's players. He gets no credit for the World Series wins of 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009; and the Pennants won, but World Series lost, of 2001 and 2003.

They tell me he's built a team that puts the Yankees in position to win every year. But they don't win, any year. This is the New York Yankees. This is not the New York Mets, who infamously had owner Fred Wilpon say the goal was "playing meaningful games in September." This is not the Atlanta Braves, for whom winning the Division is enough -- and there's only been 3 Division titles in those 10 years.

Here's his record since George Steinbrenner died on July 10, 2010:

* Lost the AL Championship Series in 2010, 2012, 2017 and 2019.

* Lost the AL Division Series in 2011 and 2018.

* Lost the AL Wild Card Game in 2015.

* Missed the Playoffs completely in 2013, 2014 and 2016.

* The Houston Astros won 2 Pennants, including their 1st-ever World Championship, thanks to a trade Cashman made (and some cheating).

* The Chicago Cubs won their 1st World Series in 108 years, and their 1st Pennant in 71 years, thanks to a trade Cashman made.

* The Cleveland Indians won a Pennant, only the 6th in their 116-year history, thanks to a trade Cashman made.

* The Texas Rangers won their 1st 2 Pennants, partly due to beating the Yankees thanks to Cashman's obsession with bringing in a "lefty one out guy"; and won another Division title thanks to a trade Cashman made.

* The San Francisco Giants won 3 World Series, including their 1st in 46 years, their 1st since moving from New York.

* The Kansas City Royals won their 1st Pennant in 29 years, and the next year, their 1st World Series in 30 years.

* The Los Angeles Dodgers won their 1st Pennant in 29 years, and then another.

* The Washington Nationals won the 1st Pennant and World Series in the franchise's 51-year history, the 1st Pennant for a Washington team in 86 years, and the 1st World Championship for a Washington team in 95 years.

* The Boston Red Sox have cheated their way to 2 more World Championships. Since 2000, they are 4-0 in the World Series; the Yankees, 1-2.

* And even the New York Mets have won a Pennant more recently.

How does Cashman's record look now?

Here's another question the Cashman fanboys refuse to answer:

How many more years of failure are you willing to accept? How many more years of not winning the Pennant is acceptable to you?

One more year?

Two years?

Five years?

Ten years?

Twenty years? Are you still going to be on social media in 2040, telling Yankee Fans not yet born, "Give Cashman a chance, he knows what he's doing" when he hasn't won so much as a Pennant since 2009?

Today is August 23, 2020. At this point, supporting Brian Cashman is like supporting Donald Trump: We have to ask you the question, "What the hell is wrong with you?"

Scores On This Historic Day: August 23, 1927, Sacco & Vanzetti Are Executed

August 23, 1927: Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are executed in the electric chair at Charlestown State Prison in Boston. They were convicted of murdering a guard and a paymaster during the robbery of the Slater and Morrill Shoe Company in Braintree, Massachusetts, south of Boston, on April 15, 1920. Sacco (on the left in this photo), a shoemaker, was 36 years old. Vanzetti, a fishmonger, was 39.

They were almost certainly innocent. As their appeals ran out in 1927, demonstrations opposed to their impending execution were held around the world, including on Boston Common. But they were foreigners, Catholics, and known anarchists, and it was the Roaring Twenties, so they never had a chance at a fair judicial process. Bigotry prevailed over justice.

Governor Alvan T. Fuller refused to pardon them, although he did convene a committee to re-examine the evidence. For all the good that did: The committee concluded that Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty. President Calvin Coolidge, himself a former Governor of Massachusetts, refused to listen to protests.

The prison was closed in 1955. The Bunker Hill Mall was built on the site. In 1977, Governor Michael Dukakis, who became the Democratic nominee for President in 1988, issued a proclamation stating that "any disgrace should be forever removed from their names." He did not issue a pardon, because that would have presumed guilt.

Major League Baseball scores on this Tuesday:

* There was only 1 game played. The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 13-3 at Baker Bowl in Philadelphia.

So I will list the games played the day before, Monday, August 22, 1927, their last day on Earth, and the height of the vigils for them:

* The New York Yankees lost to the Cleveland Indians, 9-4 at League Park in Cleveland. The Yankees went 110-44 on the way to winning the World Series, so this was a rarity for them.

* In Boston itself, at Braves Field, the Boston Braves beat the Chicago Cubs, 5-3.

* The Cardinals beat the Phillies, 1-0. The very close right-field wall made 1-0 games at Baker Bowl another rarity.

* The Detroit Tigers swept a doubleheader from the Washington Senators at Navin Field in Detroit, later to be renamed Briggs Stadium and Tiger Stadium. The Tigers won the 1st game 4-2, and the 2nd game 7-3.

* The Chicago White Sox beat the Philadelphia Athletics, 9-6 at Comiskey Park in Chicago.

* And the following teams were not scheduled: The Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Browns in the American League; and, in the National League, the Brooklyn Dodgers, the New York Giants, the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Scores On This Historic Day: August 21, 1968, The Prague Spring Is Crushed

August 21, 1968: Soviet tanks roll into Prague, the capital of Czechoslovakia, to put an end to the Prague Spring. For the 2nd time in 30 years, following the Munich Agreement of 1938 that allowed Nazi Germany to invade, the Western democracies saw the Czechs being invaded, and chose to let it happen.

This marked the end of the Prague Spring, which began on the preceding January 5. On that day,
Alexander Dubček was elected First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. He began a series of reforms, including a loosening of restrictions on the media, speech and travel, and a partial decentralization of the economy. The Soviets didn't like that, and they acted.

Dubček was arrested, but when the Soviets found out he had told his people not to resist, they kept him for only 6 days. His most lasting punishment was his expulsion from the Communist Party in 1970.

It would be 1989 before the "Velvet Revolution" truly freed the country from the Soviets' grip. Dubček
lived long enough to see it, dying in 1992. Two months later came the Velvet Divorce: The country was split into the Czeck Republic, or Czechia, and Slovakia.

Major League Baseball scores on this Wednesday:

* The New York Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins, 2-1 at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, outside Minneapolis. Al Downing outpitched future Yankee broadcaster Jim Kaat. Rocky Colavito, whom we don't usually think of as a Yankee, hit a home run off Kaat. Mickey Mantle, whom we do, played 1st base, and went 1-for-4. Both Mantle and Colavito would play in the major leagues for the last time on the following September 28.

* The New York Mets lost to the San Francisco Giants, 13-3 at Shea Stadium.

* The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 8-3 at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia.

* The Cleveland Indians beat the Boston Red Sox, 8-2 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

* The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds, 19-1 at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.

* The Detroit Tigers beat the Chicago White Sox, 3-2 in 10 innings at Tiger Stadium in Detroit.

* The Chicago Cubs swept a doubleheader from the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field, 5-4 and 13-5.

* The Houston Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 6-1 at the Astrodome.

* And the Baltimore Orioles beat the California Angels, 4-3 in 15 innings at Anaheim Stadium.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Scores On This Historic Day: August 18, 1920, Women Get the Right to Vote

August 18, 1920, 100 years ago: The legislature of the State of Tennessee ratifies an Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, granting women the right to vote in all American elections.

Previously, only 4 States had granted women the right to vote, and that was just in State and local elections, not for federal offices such as President and Congress.

The Constitution prescribes a procedure for amending it: A proposed Amendment must pass each house of Congress by a 2/3rds majority, and then must pass 3/4 of the State legislatures. Under today's format, that means 290 out of 435 in the U.S. House of Representatives, 67 out of 100 in the U.S. Senate, and 38 out of the 50 State legislatures.

In 1920, there were 48 States States, and Tennessee became the 36th State to ratify the proposal, making it the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. At least, all women at least 21 years of age who were U.S. Citizens could vote. (The 26th Amendment, in 1971, lowered the voting age to 18.)

Major League Baseball scores on this historic day, a Wednesday:

* New York Yankees 4, Cleveland Indians 3, at the Polo Grounds in New York. This was a continuation of the series in which, 2 days earlier, Indians shortstop Ray Chapman was hit in the head with a pitch by Carl Mays. He died the next day, August 17.

* Philadelphia Athletics 1, Chicago White Sox 0, at Shibe Park in Philadelphia.

* St. Louis Browns 13, Washington Senators 2, at Griffith Stadium in Washington.

* Boston Red Sox 6, Detroit Tigers 5, in 11 innings, at Fenway Park in Boston.

So all of the Amercan League teams played on this day, but none of the National League teams did: The Boston Braves, the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Chicago Cubs, the Cincinnati Reds, the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals were all idle.

Always Good to Sweep the Red Sox

Last night, I saw some Yankee Fans online saying that it's not as much fun beating the Boston Red Sox when they're a bad team.

They're so wrong. (How wrong are they?) It's always good to beat the Red Sox. The Scum will always be The Scum.

Jordan Montgomery started for the Yankees, and took a no-hitter into the 4th inning. He was boosted by a 2-out rally in the 2nd. Martin Perez, the Boston starter, hit Tyler Wade with a pitch. This was not the usual Red Sox "Let's hit the Yankees on purpose and try to injure them, because we know we can get away with it" maneuver. Aaron Hicks doubled Wade home, and then Luke Voit crushed a home run.

The Sox pulled a run back in the top of the 4th, but Thairo Estrada canceled that out by leading off the bottom of the 4th with a home run. Voit led off the bottom of the 5th with another homer. The Sox scored again in the 6th, but the Yanks got another leadoff homer in the 7th, from Hicks.

Aroldis Chapman, fully recovered from COVID-19, and wearing short sleeves that showed he'd really been working out, made his season debut, and it was a typical Chapman inning: Impressive in some moments, shaky in others. He got Alex Verdugo to line out, ut allows a triple to Jose Peraza, and an RBI double to Jonathan Arauz. Then he bore down, and struck Kevin Pillar and Rafael Devers out to end it.

Yankees 6, Red Sox 3. WP: Mike King (1-1, his 1st major league win). No save, because Chapman came in with a 4-run lead. LP: Perez (2-3).

So we swept the Red Sox. That's always good. Especially when it's 4 straight, instead of the usual 3. In fact, it's our 10th straight win against them, going back to last season. The team record is 12 straight wins over the Red Sox, which happened in 1952 and '53.

Tonight, the Yankees begin a home series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Masahiro Tanaka starts against Blake Snell.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Yankees Happ-en to Beat Red Sox Again

In the 1st 2 games of this home series against the Auld Enemy, the Yankee bats unloaded on the Boston Red Sox. In last night's game, the Yankees didn't score big.

And, with J.A. Happ on the mound to start, that was not encouraging.

Fortunately, Happ pitched like the pitcher we thought we were getting.in 2018. He pitched 5 2/3rds innings, allowing just 1 run on 3 hits and 2 walks, striking out 3. The 1 run he allowed was a home run in the top of the 3rd, by Kevin Pillar, not to be confused with former Red Sock pain in the ass Kevin Millar.

In the bottom of the 1st inning, the Yankees got singles by Gio Urshela, Mike Tauchman and Mike Ford to go up 1-0. Cliche Alert: Walks can kill you, especially the leadoff variety. And Brett Gardner led off the 2nd inning with a walk, and was doubled home by Aaron Hicks.

Pillar's homer made it 2-1 Yankees, but the Yankees struck back in the bottom of the inning, on singles by Tauchman and Gleyber Torres, and a home run by Ford.

Adam Ottavino pitched decently in relief, and Chad Green lowered his ERA to 0.77, proving that he's a middle reliever, not an "opener," as he was used last year. More Brian Cashman stupidity exposed. Zack Britton was shaky in the 9th, allowing a run thanks to a double, a wild pitch and an error, but he finished the Sox off.

Yankees 4, Red Sox 2. WP: Happ (1-1). SV: Britton (8). LP: Chris Mazza (0-1).

Today, the Yankees reinstated Aroldis Chapman, fully recovered from COVID-19, from the Injured List, and designated David Hale for assignment.

The series concludes tonight. Jordan Montgomery pitches to help us get the sweep, and Martin Perez will try to give the Boston bats the chance to avoid it. Come on you Pinstripes!

Sunday, August 16, 2020

You Love to See It: Yanks Smack Sox Around Again

In 2003, the Boston Red Sox just missed winning the American League Pennant. In 2006, they fell apart in August, and finished 3rd in the AL Eastern Division. In 2012, they had a losing season. In 2017, they won the AL East, but lost in the 1st round of the Playoffs to the Houston Astros, including Jose Altuve, a team that we now know was cheating.

Each time, the Sox tinkered with their roster, and found a new way to cheat, and won the next season's World Series.

The thought occurred to me that, with both the Sox and the Astros, especially Altuve, off to lousy starts this season, the Sox could trade for Altuve, find a new way to cheat, teach it to him, and, together, they could win the 2021 World Series. And the baseball establishment, and their willing lackeys in the national media, would insist that it was fair and square.

*

Until then, though, the Sox are getting smacked around by the Yankees. As the kids are saying these days, "You love to see it."

The Yankees didn't waste any time last night at Yankee Stadium. In the bottom of the 1st inning, Luke Voit singled, and Gio Urshela hit a home run to make it 2-0 Bronx Bombers. The Sox took a 3-2 lead in the top of the 3rd, but James Paxton settled down from there, allowing only that damage over 5 innings.

In the bottom of the 4th, Gleyber Torres singled, and Gary Sanchez continued his burial of that awful season-ending start with another home run.

DJ LeMahieu had to leave the game, due to an injury. So, no Giancarlo Stanton, no Aaron Judge, no LeMahieu -- the 1st for most of the rest of the regular season, the latter 2 hopefully not for very long.

The Yankees put the game away in the 6th. Torres led off with a single, followed by Mike Tauchmann hitting a double. Sanchez struck out, but Clint Frazier, playing in right field in place of Judge (and making me nervous every time a ball came his way), hit a screamer that cleared the right field wall. Home run.

It didn't stop there. Brett Gardner doubled, and that knocked out former Yankee Nathan Evoaldi, whom Brian Cashman stupidly got rid of after an injury and came back to haunt us in the 2018 AL Division Series.

Gardner stole 3rd. That proved to be unnecessary, as Tyler Wade, who had gone to 2nd base in place of LeMahieu, doubled him home. 8-3. In the 7th, Frazier singled home 2 more runs, and Gardner got one home on a sacrifice fly.

The game was so much of a laugher, Aaron Boone brought Luis Cessa in to pitch. It seemed like a good idea: Give him work in a game he couldn't possibly blow. Sure enough, he went 1-2-3 in the 8th. But he allowed 2 runs in the 9th, before settling down and ending it in victory for the Pinstripes.

Yankees 11, Red Sox 5. WP: Paxton (1-1). No save. LP: Eovaldi (1-2).

Things I like: These include...

1. The Yankees winning.
2. The Red Sox losing.
3. A combination thereof.

The series concludes tonight. J.A. Happ starts for us, Chris Mazza for them. Happ vs. a pitcher the Yankees have never seen before? In the Sunday night ESPN game? In the words of the immortal Han Solo, "I've got a bad feeling about this!"

But things have gone pretty well for the Yankees so far, in spite of the injuries. Maybe this horrible year will turn out to be a great year in baseball. 

Scores On This Historic Day: August 16, 1977, Elvis Presley Dies

 

August 16, 1977: Elvis Presley dies at his home, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee. He had a massive heart attack, brought on by years of a rotten diet and massive prescription drug use. The man known as the King of Rock and Roll was only 42 years old.

When ESPN made its miniseries about the 1977 Yankees, The Bronx Is Burning, it included this exchange, between Mather Zickel, playing Lou Piniella, and Leonard Robinson, playing Mickey Rivers -- keeping in mind, this was 3 years before John Lennon was shot and killed in New York:

Lou: Presley's dead!
Mickey: Who?
Lou: Elvis Presley! I just heard it on the radio.
Mickey: Somebody shot him?
Lou: No, nobody shot him!
Mickey: Well, what, then? Heart attack? 'Cause, I heard, for a superstar, he had a pretty poor diet.
Lou: No, they're saying, drugs, or something.
Mickey: Well, that just goes to show you.
Lou: Goes to show you what?
Mickey: Well, hell if I know, but it must go to show you something!

And then the Yankees took the field at the original Yankee Stadium, against the Chicago White Sox, and played maybe their craziest game of the year. They led 2-0 after 2 innings, saw the ChiSox tie it in the 4th, took a 4-2 lead in the 5th, saw the ChiSox tie it in the top of the 7th, took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the 7th, extended it to 9-4 in the 8th, then the ChiSox exploded for 6 runs in the top of the 9th to make it 10-9.

Cliche Alert: Walks can kill you, especially the leadoff variety. Thurman Munson led off the bottom of the 9th with a walk. Piniella hadn't started the game, but manager Billy Martin put him in as a pinch-runner for Reggie Jackson, and kept him in right field for Reggie. Lou bunted Thurman over. This turned out to be unnecessary, as the next batter, Chris Chambliss, hit a walkoff home run.

Major League Baseball games played on this Tuesday:

* As stated: New York Yankees 11, Chicago White Sox 10, at Yankee Stadium in New York.
* New York Mets 5, St. Louis Cardinals 1, at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis.
* Baltimore Orioles 6, Minnesota Twins 5, in 13 innings, at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.
* Boston Red Sox 5, Kansas City Royals 3, at Fenway Park in Boston.
* Philadelphia Phillies 7, Montreal Expos 5, at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.
* California Angels 7, Toronto Blue Jays 2, at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto.
* Houston Astros 4, Atlanta Braves 1, at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
* Oakland Athletics 7, Cleveland Indians 3, at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.
* Cincinnati Reds 5, San Diego Padres 1, at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati.
* Seattle Mariners 3, Detroit Tigers 2, at Tiger Stadium in Detroit.
* Chicago Cubs 6, Pittsburgh Pirates 5, in 15 innings, at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
* Texas Rangers 11, Milwaukee Brewers 3, at Milwaukee County Stadium.
* And Los Angeles Dodgers 3, San Francisco Giants 2, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Is Carl Mays a Hall-of-Famer?

August 16, 1920, 100 years ago: The New York Yankees, now in their 1st season with Babe Ruth, are playing the Cleveland Indians at the Polo Grounds in New York. These 2 teams are in a 3-way American League Pennant race with the Chicago White Sox.

Submarine-style hurler Carl Mays hits Indian shortstop Ray Chapman in the head with a pitch. The impact makes such a sound, and the ball comes back to Mays with such force, that Mays thinks Chapman actually hit the ball -- shades of the Roger Clemens-Mike Piazza incident 80 years later -- and throws to 1st base.

This backs up Mays' claim, which he held for the last 51 years of his life, that he did not intentionally hit Chapman, who was known at the time for hanging over the plate.

The audience gasped at the sound -- no batting helmets in those days -- and Chapman got up, and told Yankee catcher Wally Schang, "I'm all right. Tell Mays not to worry." He took some steps, then collapsed, with his left ear bleeding. He never regained consciousness, and died the next day. He was 29 years old.
Aside from the possibility of Mike "Doc" Powers of the 1909 Philadelphia Athletics, whose death may not have been caused by an on-field injury, but was surely worsened by it, Chapman is the only Major League Baseball player to die as the result of an on-field incident.

The Indians won the game, 4-3, and went on to win the World Series in spite of Chapman's death, with rookie Joe Sewell taking his place, and building a Hall of Fame career. They dedicated a monument to him at League Park, but it got lost in the move to Cleveland Municipal Stadium. It was placed in a trunk, and, without anyone still with the team knowing it was in the trunk, it got moved to Jacobs (now Progressive) Field, and was found, and became the centerpiece of the Indians' version of the Yankees' Monument Park, their Heritage Park behind the center field fence.
So the only uniformed person ever to kill another person on a Major League Baseball field, intentionally or otherwise, was a Yankee. Amazingly, this is not often cited by Yankee Haters (Flushing Heathen, Chowdaheads and others) as a reason why they hate the Yankees. It's been 100 years, and pretty much everybody who cared about Chapman and the Indians at the time is gone. But it's still a dark day in Yankee history.

Understandably, despite his protests of non-intent, Mays was vilified by all and sundry, partly because he already had a reputation as a difficult man. People wanted to believe he did it on purpose. It's probably the biggest reason why, despite a career record of 207-126, he's not in the Hall of Fame.

Does Carl Mays deserve election to the Baseball Hall of Fame, in spite of this?

*

Carl William Mays was born on November 12, 1891, in Liberty, Kentucky. When he was 12 years old, his father died, and the family moved to Kingfisher, Oklahoma. He internalized his grief, and never made an effort to make friends. He quit high school to play baseball, even though he seemed not to have a personality that was well-suited to a team sport. He might have been better off as a boxer.

Apparently, though, he couldn't explain it: "I always have wondered why I have encountered this antipathy from so many people, wherever I have been. And I have never been able to explain it, even to myself."

He played for a Class D team in Boise, Idaho in 1912, then a Class A team in Portland, Oregon in 1913. The manager was Joe McGinnity, a star pitcher for the New York Giants, who would make the Hall of Fame. Supposedly, McGinnity taught Mays the underhanded "submarine" delivery. In 1914, he was signed by the Providence Grays of the International League. The nearby Boston Red Sox took notice of him, and signed him after the season.

He helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 1915, 1916 and 1918. So did Babe Ruth, and a few other players who would help build the Yankee Dynasty of the 1920s.


While he was at Spring Training in 1919, his farm house in Missouri burned down. He believed it was arson. He began the 1919 season with a 5-11 record. In a game in Philadelphia, home fans at Shibe Park pounded on the roof of the visitors' dugout, and Mays reacted to this by getting up and throwing a ball into the stands, hitting a fan in the head.

On July 13, against the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park, Eddie Collins tried to steal 2nd base. Catcher Wally Schang tried to throw him out, and hit Mays in the head by mistake. When the inning ended, Mays walked off the field, walked into the clubhouse, changed his clothes, went to the train station, and headed back to Boston. He told Burt Whitman, a Boston sportswriter:

I’m convinced that it will be impossible for me to preserve my confidence in myself as a ballplayer and stay with the Red Sox as the team is now handled. The entire team is up in the air and things have gone from bad to worse. The team cannot win with me pitching, so I am getting out…

Maybe there will be a trade or a sale of my services. I do not care where I go.


His teammates had turned against him. One (I can't find a record of which one) said, "He has the disposition of a man with a permanent toothache." In modern parlance, he was "a clubhouse cancer."

Sox owner Harry Frazee was eager to get rid of him. The Yankees, needing pitching, were willing to make the trade. So, on July 30, 1919, the Sox traded Mays to the Yankees for pitchers Bob McGraw and Allen Russell, and $40,000.

But between his "jumping the club" on the 13th and the trade on the 30th, Frazee had suspended Mays. And Byron Bancroft "Ban" Johnson, President of the American League, and one of its co-founders, ruled that Mays could not be traded while he was suspended.

"Baseball cannot tolerate such a breach of discipline," Johnson said. "It was up to the owners of the Boston club to suspend Carl Mays for breaking his contract, and when they failed to do so, it is my duty as head of the American League to act."

The Yankees went to court, and got an injunction against Johnson's ability to prevent the trade. Mays went 9-3 the rest of the way, finishing the season 14-14. He would win 80 games for the Yankees, helping them win the Pennant in 1921 and 1922, and their 1st World Series in 1923.

The Cincinnati Reds purchased him from the Yankees after the 1923 season, suggesting that, even after 3 straight Pennants and a World Series win, he had worn out his welcome with the now-Bronx Bombers. He had 20-9 and 19-12 seasons with them, and was released in 1928, pitching with the New York Giants in 1929, and then hanging them up.

There was no All-Star Game until 1933. If there had been one during Mays' career, he likely would have been named to it in 1916, 1917, 1918, and, if whoever was voting was judging him solely on his on-field performance, also in 1920, 1921, 1924 and 1926 -- 7 times.

Baseball-Reference.com, a website which is your friend whether you know it or not, and makes writing this blog considerably easier, has a "Hall of Fame Monitor," on which a "Likely HOFer" is at 100. Mays is at 114, meaning he should be in. They also have "Hall of Fame Standards," which is weighted more toward career stats, and on which the "Average HOFer" is at 50. Mays is at 41, which suggests that he falls a bit short.

They also have "Similarity Scores," comparing players, usually at the same positions. Their top 10 most similar pitchers to Mays are Stan Coveleski, Lon Warneke, Chief Bender, Urban Shocker, Jack Chesbro, Art Nehf, Eddie Cicotte, Jesse Tannehill, Babe Adams and Freddie Fitzsimmons.

So that's 3 guys who are in the Hall (Coveleski, Bender and Chesbro), 2 guys who may also deserve it (Warneke and Shocker), and another guy who might have had a good shot had he not been one of the White Sox players who threw the 1919 World Series (Cicotte).

His 6 Pennants and 4 World Series wins should help his cause. The testimonies as to his character may hurt him, though.

It could be argued that Mays is better than some pitchers in the Hall. And, given that he was still an All-Star quality pitcher in 1926, after the introduction of the Lively Ball, we can say with some certainty that his success on the mound was not a product of a certain era.

His career winning percentage was .622. Or, more accurately, .6216. Hall-of-Fame starting pitchers under the 60-feet-6-inches pitching distance who top this are Whitey Ford, Pedro Martinez, Lefty Grove, Christy Mathewson, Roy Halladay, Sandy Koufax, Lefty Gomez, Mordecai "Three-Finger" Brown, Randy Johnson, Dizzy Dean, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Mike Mussina, Jim Palmer, Joe McGinnity, Juan Marichal, Eddie Plank, Bender and Addie Joss. So that's just 18 guys. It's matched by Carl Hubbell. Were they in the Hall, it would also be topped by Roger Clemens, Ron Guidry, Dwight Gooden, Andy Pettitte and Don Newcombe.

His career ERA was 2.92. 1893-2014 HOF starters topping that are Ed Walsh, Joss, Brown, Mathewson, Rube Waddell, Walter Johnson, Plank, Alexander, Cy Young, Vic Willis, McGinnity, Chesbro, Ford, Koufax, Palmer, Tom Seaver, Marichal, Coveleski and Bob Gibson. 19 guys.

His ERA+ was 119, meaning that he was 19 percent better at preventing runs than the average pitcher in his time. 1893-2014 HOF starters topping that are Pedro, Grove, Walter Johnson, Walsh, Joss, Brown, Young, Mathewson, Alexander, Randy Johnson, Waddell, Ford, Maddux, Dean, Halladay, Koufax, Hubbell, Hal Newhouser, Coveleski, Gibson, Seaver, Gomez, Palmer, John Smoltz, Dazzy Vance, Marichal, Mussina, Bob Feller, Plank, Drysdale, Clark Griffith, McGinnity, Red Faber and Bob Lemon. 34 guys. Suddenly, his candidacy looks less compelling.

His career WHIP was 1.207. 1893-2014 HOF starters topping that are Joss, Walsh, Pedro, Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Brown, Marichal, Waddell, Koufax, Bender, Plank, Seaver, Alexander, Young, Catfish Hunter, Fergie Jenkins, Don Sutton, Greg Maddux, Don Drysdale, Chesbro, Hubbell, Robin Roberts, Randy Johnson, Smoltz, Halladay, Jim Bunning, Palmer, Gaylord Perry, McGinnity, Gibson, Mussina, Warren Spahn, Bert Blyleven and Dean. 34 guys. 

His strikeout-to-walk ratio was 1.174. That's not especially impressive: He's barely in the top 1,000 of all time.

But how many of those 60-footer HOFers are ahead of him in all of these categories? 9: Mathewson, Koufax, Brown, Alexander, Palmer, McGinnity, Marichal, Plank and Joss. And only 4 -- Koufax, Alexander, Palmer and Marichal -- also pitched after the introduction of the Lively Ball in 1920. And, due to the injury that cut short the career of Koufax, only Alexander, Palmer and Marichal won more games.

Still, that's a lot of comparisons that have to be thrown in. I have to say that, if I get a vote, then, based on what I've seen, Carl Mays does not get into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Not because of any perception of his character, but because the numbers just aren't quite sufficient.

As for his life beyond and after baseball, he married twice, and had a son and a daughter. He later worked as a scout for several teams. Ironically, the 1st team to hire him as such was the Indians. He was scouting for the Braves when they moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966, and was part of the original scouting team for the Kansas City Royals in 1969. He died on April 4, 1971. A distant cousin, Joe Mays, pitched for the Minnesota Twins, making the All-Star Game in 2001.

He first appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot in 1958, and got only 2 percent of the vote, dropping off. In 2008, following the reformatting of the Baseball Hall of Fame's procedure for voting on the candidacies of long-ago retired players, the Veterans Committee considered him, but he was named on only 25 percent of the ballots. That's the closest he's ever come to election. It had been 88 years since the death of Ray Chapman, so it's unlikely that factored into the voting.