Tag Archives: Baseball

A Simple Game of Pitch and Catch… or Catch and Pitch

Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Erik Kratz.

The journeyman major leaguer is now the answer to a baseball trivia question.

Ten days ago, Kratz became the first player since 1879 to pitch AND catch for two different major league teams in a single season.

On June 21, the Pirates catcher tossed a scoreless inning after being forced into relief in Pittsburgh’s 15-4 loss to the San Francisco Giants. He allowed two hits, but finished the inning unscathed, and even struck out Brandon Belt. Two months earlier, Kratz took the mound for the Houston Astros to finish out an 11-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners.  In that one,  he allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits. The Astros. The Astros released him in late May, and after a brief stop with the Angels, Kratz was on to Pittsburgh where he made baseball history. Anyone who is the first to do something in 137 years is, well, pretty cool, don’t you think?

usat-erik-kratz-pirates    Erik_Kratz_on_June_15,_2016

Baseball is chock full of Erik Kratzes. Nondescript players by most accounts who end up as historical footnotes. And, perhaps, like cerebral catchers who end up as big league managers (See Mike Scioscia, Mike Matheny, Bruce Bochy, Kevin Cash, John Gibbons, etal).

The moral of the story? If your son wants to be a big leaguer, tell him to be a catcher.




Beating the Odds

“I don’t believe what I’ve just seen.” – Jack Buck, calling Kirk Gibson’s home run in the 1988 World Series
“…The impossible has happened…” – Vin Scully, making the same call.

One of the things we love about sports is that it gives us a chance to witness the improbable, the seemingly impossible. The underdog overcoming all odds to take down the giant. The comeback from a seeming insurmountable deficit to win. The seemingly defeated opponent getting up one more time to fight back. The competitor wrought wtih exhaustion, finding the strength to cross the finish line. It’s why we watch.

The College World Series begins today. Along with traditional powers like Miami, Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma State, the 8 team field includes UC Santa Barbara, making their first ever appearance in the series. But, it’s how the Gauchos got to Omaha that makes sports great.

Last Sunday, UCSB trailed the nation’s #2 ranked Louisville Cardinals, 3-0 in the bottom of the 9th inning. On the mound to close it out for Louisville was their star closer, Zack Burdi, who earlier in the week had been the 1st round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox. Not great odds, right? Right. In fact, Louisville was 47-0 during the season when leading after 8 innings.

Burdi struggled with his control, and UCSB loaded the bases with one out. Up to the plate stepped  freshman catcher, Sam Cohen. Yeah, that Sam Cohen. The guy with all of 26 at bats during the entire season. So, what happens? The freshman blasts a two-strike, walk-off grand slam. Just like that, UCSB is making travel plans for Omaha.


David and Goliath stuff at it’s best.

Only in sports. And the reason we watch.


K is for Kershaw

Is Clayton Kershaw the best pitcher of this generation? He’s certainly making a pretty good case.

On Thursday night the Dodgers left-hander tossed his second consecutive shutout and struck out 13 in becoming the first pitcher in the modern era to string together 5 consecutive starts with 10 or more strikeouts and 1 or fewer walks. Let that settle in. No one since 1900 has done that. And no pitcher has exhibited such a combination of power and control. For the season, Kershaw now has 77 strikeouts and FOUR walks – a 19 to 1 ratio. The best ever ratio for a full season is 11 to 1. Extrapolated over a full season, Kershaw would end up with a mind-numbing 308 strikeouts versus 16 walks.

With 3 Cy Young Awards, an MVP award, and 4 ERA titles already under his belt, he is already in rare territory. His career ERA is 2.40, the best among active players by over half a run (Madison Bumgarner is 2nd at 3.02). He is now 119 and 57 over his seven and a half seasons. His winning percentage is first among all active pitchers and is 8th all time. For six straight seasons now, he has dominated the National League. His run is reminiscent of that of Sandy Koufax’s 4-year stretch from 1963-66, which is still the greatest in modern baseball history. But it’s time for Kershaw’s name to be included in the conversation about pitchers who may end up among the best the game has seen.

It was a great week for pitchers other than Kershaw, as well. Max Scherzer tied the MLB record for K’s in a 9 inning game with 20. And Noah Syndergaard of the Mets blasted two homers in his win over the Dodgers the night before Kershaw took the mound.

Every era has their greats. In the ’60’s it was Koufax, Gibson, Drysdale, and Marichal. The ’70’s had Seaver, Carlton, Palmer and Ryan. We seem to be in another era of dominant pitchers with Arrieta, Hernandez, and the like, but to me Kershaw is clearly at the top.

What do you think?

It doesn’t hurt that he’s also a great guy, committed to making the lives of others better. Check it out: http://www.kershawschallenge.com/



Big Hit

Last night, baseball witnessed it’s version of Halley’s Comet.

New York Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon hit his first career home run, at age 42.  He turned on a James Shields fastball and deposited it over the left field wall, to become the oldest player in history to hit his first career home run, just 3 weeks shy of turning 43.  Coming into the game, the round mound of the mound sported a microscopic .089 lifetime batting average over his 19 seasons.

He surpassed Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, whose first homer came at age 40. He’s only the third Met to homer after turning 40, joining Willie Mays and Julio Franco, baseball’s Methuselah who was 48 when he homered.

Said Colon, “I don’t even know how to explain it.”

Mets’ play-by-play man told the television audience, “The impossible has happened!”

When asked about it, opposing San Diego Padres’ manager, said, “Certain things leave you speechless.”

The crowd went nuts, then watched the portly pitcher take 30-seconds to haul his 283 pounds (or so he is generously listed) around the bases.

The entire scene was definitely one for the ages.



All Wound Up

Check out this video ESPN has posted on some of the most unusual pitching styles in modern Major League Baseball.


The clip shows some of the most unusual of today, along with a few memorable delivery styles from the past five decades. I remember vividly, as a kid, watching Juan Marichal’s super high leg kick, and Luis Tiant’s…well, whatever you want to call all that he did. But I’ve never seen anything quite like Carter Capps. Check out his jump-step on the video, and his ball placement in the image below.


Feel free to insert your own caption.

It seems to work for Capps. And for others. Perhaps the unorthodox delivery is part of their success. The deception, distraction, and unusual timing all can throw a hitter off, and make it difficult to find the ball upon release.

Which pitcher’s delivery is most memorable to you?



thYesterday’s post about athletes and checks they didn’t cash got me thinking about money in sports…which, of course, inspired thoughts about the all-money team in baseball. Here’s what I mean: A lineup of players with names associated with money. Check it out:



Of – Bobby Bonds

Of – Barry Bonds

Of – Travis Buck

1b – Norm Cash

2b – Dave Cash

ss – Ernie Banks

3b – Don Money

C- Jim Price

P – Brad Penny

P – Doug Nickle

P – Lafayette Currence

P – Wes Stock

That’s my team. How about yours?