Headed Home?

As a friend of mine wisely suggested, “Sounds like it’s time to move the Dodgers back to Brooklyn.”  I wonder what would be the fan defect rate from the Mets.  Geez, what a mess out in LA.

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The Truth: Yankees and the 80s

The frequent Yankee fan complaint about the drought of the 1980s is about as regular as the tides.  I recently heard that the Yankees actually fared quite well in the 80s, even though they didn’t win a World Series.  By the way, the 1980s are the only decade since the 1910s that the Bronx Bombers didn’t win the Fall Classic.  As the table below shows, the Yanks were clearly still winners.  They compiled a record of 854 wins and 708 losses resulting in a 0.547 win percentage for the 1980s.  They had just two losing seasons, 1982 and 1989.  The Yanks worst finish in the AL East for the period was 5th place, which occurred just three times in the 80s.  The Yankees average finish was 3.4 place in the decade, signaling more winner than loser.  Oh yeah, they won the AL pennant in 1980 and 1981 and lost in the 1981 World Series.  Hmm, not too bad for a “bad” decade.  Soooo, what’s the complaint again?!?

Year Tm Lg G W L W-L% Finish Playoffs
1989 New York Yankees AL East 161 74 87 .460 5th of 7
1988 New York Yankees AL East 161 85 76 .528 5th of 7
1987 New York Yankees AL East 162 89 73 .549 4th of 7
1986 New York Yankees AL East 162 90 72 .556 2nd of 7
1985 New York Yankees AL East 161 97 64 .602 2nd of 7
1984 New York Yankees AL East 162 87 75 .537 3rd of 7
1983 New York Yankees AL East 162 91 71 .562 3rd of 7
1982 New York Yankees AL East 162 79 83 .488 5th of 7
1981 New York Yankees AL East 107 59 48 .551 4th of 7 Lost WS (4-2)
1980 New York Yankees AL East 162 103 59 .636 1st of 7 Lost ALCS (3-0)
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/20/2011.
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Tim Thomas

First off, congrats to Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins on winning the Stanley Cup, the first for the Bruins since 1972.  The big four Boston teams certainly have been on a roll the past decade, with each capturing a championship in their respective sport.  The Tim Thomas story is particularly inspiring.  Google it.  This got me wondering how many baseball Tim Thomases made it to the big show, as it’s seemingly a common enough name.  Turns out it’s zero.  Not even a cup of coffee?!  Both Tim Thomases listed in baseball-reference played at varying levels in the minors.  Coincidentally, Tim Thomas‘ time in the minors with the Detroit Tigers overlapped with that of the Cleveland Indians’ Timothy Thomas.  The NBA’s Tim Thomas fared better, but retired from the Dallas Mavericks the season before they won an NBA title.  While not a Tim, Tom Thomas is my favorite if I had to round up.  He’s got a great nickname, Savage Tom, and has an unexplained four year gap on his playing resume between pitching for the 1894 Cleveland Spiders and 1899 St. Louis Perfectos.  Interestingly, the Perfectos name stuck for only one season, sandwiched in between the Browns (1883-1898) and, of course, the Cardinals (1900-present).

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Meet Mr. Smith

I had a random thought today…what is the most common name in MLB?  Not surname, full name.  Not just today, of all time.  After a bit of research it appears that the most common full name of all time in MLB is (drumroll)…Mike Smith.  Forget Coco Crisp, Milton Bradley, Boof Bonser, Nap Lajoie, Wonderful Terrific Monds, Juan Pierre, Von Hayes, Jair Jurrjens, Waite Hoyt, Eppa Rixey, Moses J. Yellow Horse, or Tristram Speaker.  It turns out that five Mike Smiths played in the majors according to baseball-reference.com.  Curiously, only three are truly Mike Smith by birth.  One player came into this world as Elmer Smith and another as Elwood  Smith.  Amazingly, the remaining three Mike Smiths all have the middle name Anthony.  Also of note, a man simply known as “Smith” who pitched and batted in one 1884 game for the Baltimore Monumentals.

Mike Smith

Deeper into the rabbit hole reveals there are just three Smiths playing in the majors today:  Joe Smith of the Indians, Jordan Smith of the Reds, and Seth Smith of the Rockies.  But the best first names/nicknames teamed up with the vanilla Smith include:  Brick Smith, Germany Smith, Happy Smith, Klondike Smith, Phenomenal Smith, Pop-boy Smith, and Skyrocket Smith.  Thus far only one Smith is a Hall of Famer, that being the great Ozzie Smith.  This infographic from Flip Flop Fly Ball is a nice, clear summary of the MLB surname frequency trends from 1871 to 2009.

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Sam “Mayday” Malone’s Jersey Number

In my latest bout of insomnia, I happened upon an episode of Cheers that featured Sam “Mayday” Malone heading to Yankee Stadium to pitch to an old nemesis on his day of honor.  Ted Danson portrayed the relief pitcher turned bar owner who pitched for the Boston Red Sox from 1972 to 1978.  Sammy was donning an away Red Sox uniform in the dugout that featured the #16 on the jersey.  That got me thinking, who else was #16?  Well, leave it to the Red Sox Nation to detail such curiosities on the site RedSoxDiehard.  It’s interesting to note that #16 is unclaimed for the 2011 season.  Also, during Sammy’s pitching years #16 was split between Rick Miller and Tom Burgmeier.

It was cool to find that Sports Illustrated ran an article on Sam Malone, complete with pictures from his playing career and a MacMillan Encyclopedia entry. His totals were 16-30 in 207 G (1 GS) with a 4.01 ERA in 312 2/3 IP with 109 BB and 40 SO.

NUMBER 16

Johnny Lucas        1931
Gene Rye            1931
Howie Storie        1931 
Johnny Lucas        1932
Jud McLaughlin      1932
Gordon McNaughton   1932 
Ivy Andrews         1933 
Hank Johnson        1934-35 
Jack Wilson         1935 
Stew Bowers         1936 
Mike Meola          1936 
Babe Dahlgren       1936
Dom Dallessandro    1937 
Emerson Dickman     1938-41 
Al Flair            1941
Tony Lupien         1942 
Vic Johnson         1944 
Lou Finney          1944 
Jim Wilson          1945 
Red Steiner         1945 
Roy Partee          1946-47 
Ellis Kinder        1948-55 
Bob Porterfield     1956 
Harry Dorish        1956 
Haywood Sullivan    1957, 1959 
Bill Jurges         1959-60 (MGR) 
Carroll Hardy       1960-62 
Dick Williams       1963-64 
Jim Lonborg         1965-71 
Bob Bolin           1970 
Rick Miller         1972-77 
Tom Burgmeier       1978-81 
Bill Buckner        1984 
Dave Sax            1985 
Kevin Romine        1985-91 
Bob Zupcic          1991 
Frank Viola         1992-94 
Dave Oliver         1995-96 (COACH)
Joe Kerrigan        1997-2001 (COACH, MGR) 
Bob Kipper          2002 (COACH)
Lou Collier         2003
Ricky Gutierrez     2004
Edgar Renteria      2005
David Wells         2005-06
Luis Alicea         2007-08 (COACH)
George Kottaras     2009
Marco Scutaro       2010
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Gorker

gorker – A term used by Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver for a cheap hit.  “In the ninth, Tippy Martinez…gave up two cheap singles.  ‘You hate to take a guy out after two gorkers,’ manager Earl Weaver said” (Washington Post, June 12, 1983).

Earl Weaver, whose run-ins with umpires became legendary, ranks eighth all-time in managerial winning percentage.

In addition to being a wordsmith, Weaver was ejected from more games than anyone else in history, and deservedly so. Yet behind that boisterous facade was the keen baseball mind of a very successful manager. Only Joe McCarthy compiled more 100-win seasons than Weaver.

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Master Chucker

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