This year it’s different being a Dodger fan. I see more Dodger blogs, merchandise, games, and chatter about them. If they don’t win this year that is alright…it was nice seeing that win back in October.
Between 2004 the Dodgers were owned by Frank and Jamie McCourt…better known to Dodger fans as McBroke. The last three years of their reign were heart breaking for Dodger fans. Fans stopped going to the games while Frank and Jamie were going through a divorce. Finally the Commissioner …Selig finally intervened and stopped the non-sense of them both draining the Dodgers dry and attempting to under sell their Fox TV contract by getting quick money…but Selig is NOT without blame in this. Although McCourt was denied for buying the Red Sox…he was approved buying the Dodgers from Fox with a loan from…you guessed it…Fox.
While all of this was going on, Clayton Kershaw kept fans watching the Dodgers. He was maybe the best pitcher in MLB between 2011 and 2014. His stats were 72-26 with a 2.11 ERA with 3 Cy Young Awards and a second place finish to R.A. Dickey. He would have had more wins but most years the bullpen was awful…and that bullpen would cause some of those post season failures. He would be on the ropes in the 8th inning but he would be kept in because the bullpen was not to be trusted. That didn’t cause all of his troubles but it added to them greatly.
On April 11, 2021 he won his 177th career game against 77 loses. He is 100 games over at this point in his career and he looks like he has plenty in the tank at this point. It’s not just his great pitching either…more importantly from all accounts he is a nice decent human being. Fans of other teams who hate the Dodgers seem to like Clayton Kershaw. I saw Giants fans happy to see him win…only him though…and that’s the way it should be. Vin Scully was the other person associated with the Dodgers who was loved by rival teams.
Clayton is great for the game of baseball and the Dodgers. I’ve tried not to take him for granted because players like him don’t come along often. Clayton is only 33 years old and my hope is he remains a Dodger until he is ready to hang them up. If he quit today he should be Hall of Fame bound.
In past off seasons Kershaw and his wife Ellen go to Africa and help build and rebuild villages and give relief to poverty stricken areas. They formed a charity called Kershaw’s Challenge.
My friends Hanspostcard and Dave did this in the past few days. I’ve never been good at this but I’ll give it a shot. This will be my first attempt and we will see what happens. I read over Fangraphs, pecota, and just the eye test.
I think the Braves could surprise some and win the NL. I also think the Yankees have a lot question marks and unless everything goes perfect I don’t see them making the World Series. Although I’m a Dodger fan I honestly think they are the most balanced and stacked team in the MLB this year…of course that only means they will probably lose.
I think the White Sox will gel this year and make some noise.
When I was 10 years old I started to follow the Dodgers for the first time in my life. It was 1977 and Tommy was the manager and they had one of their greatest teams with a great core.
That is still MY team. When I think of the Dodgers that is what comes back to me…not Piazza, Kirk Gibson, or even Kershaw…but that seventies and early eighties team with Lasorda as manager. His name went with the Dodgers… he was with them since the 50s…and so was Vin Scully. Those two will forever be Dodgers. I would love to catch a Dodger-Giants game on tv in Candlestick park and watch the Giant fans boo Lasorda as he changed pitchers…he loved the attention.
In September of 1976 the quiet and understated Walter Alston stepped down and the loud and boisterous Lasorda became the manager. Lasorda was a brawler…he loved to fight but O’Malley told him he would have to calm down especially when he was manager. Tommy never really calmed down a lot…but the fist fights did. He managed them from 1976-1996.
I disagreed with many of his managing decisions but he did win 2 World Championships…My favorite being 1981 by beating those Reggie Jackson Yankees. They had lost to them in 1977 and 1978…and of course the other championship in 1988 with the Kirk Gibson homerun.
My favorite Lasorda moment? After Dave Kingman hit three homeruns against the Dodgers…a reporter asked him his opinion of Kingman’s performance.
There have been some new rules in MLB this year. I don’t argue much because of the situation. I don’t see a problem with funky rules this year because of the sixty game regular season. I’m happy they are playing because it gives us some normality…a little we can all hold on to.
The rules were set for just this year because of what is going on but I know that Manfred sometimes wants to change for the sake of change…I guess to leave his mark… The rules are italicized in bold below and my responses are below each one. I’m sure some of you will disagree with me and that is fine…who ever reads this is probably passionate about the game…all opinions are welcomed.
Now to the rules…
1: Universal DH (No need for the official wording in this) – Ok all of you American League fans… I know that most of you like it and that is fine. I like it also…for the American League. Personally I don’t want to see this go past this year for the NL. I don’t understand why it’s so bad for the leagues to be different. I like the leagues different…at one time they had two sets of umpires…one for the AL and one for the NL… The reasons for and against doesn’t change but I have a feeling Manfred will try to pass this one. This one I don’t want to see change. I like ball parks all different and the leagues different…it separates baseball from the rigid normality of the other major sports…It’s ok to be different MLB.
2: Wet Rag- Pitchers will be permitted to carry a small wet rag in their back pocket to be used for moisture in lieu of licking their fingers. Pitchers will not be able to access the rag while on the rubber, and they must clearly wipe the fingers of their pitching hand dry before touching the ball or the rubber. Water is the only substance that will be allowed on the rag.
I don’t see a reason why this shouldn’t be in place for ever more. I want the pitchers that have 90 mph fastballs to have decent control. Yes I know someone will try to cheat the system… hey it’s baseball…but I don’t see this as a big problem.
3: Runner on second to begin extra innings During the regular season, every half-inning after the ninth will begin with a runner on second base. If that runner scores, the pitcher won’t be charged with an earned run.
The runner placed on second base at the start of each half-inning will be the player in the batting order immediately preceding that half-inning’s leadoff hitter, or a pinch-runner. However, if the player in the batting order immediately preceding that half-inning’s leadoff hitter is the pitcher, the runner placed on second base may be the player preceding the pitcher in the batting order. This rule will not be in place for the postseason.
Over the past five years, 8.26% of all regular-season games have gone to extra innings. There were 208 extra-innings games in the 2019 regular season, counting for 8.56% of all games.
I thought this was a joke when I saw this rule… even for only this year. I’ll quote Clayton Kershaw…”No, it’s not great, it’s Mickey Mouse garbage that belongs in the minor leagues and ONLY the minor leagues.” Is this really worth it for only 8.56% of the games? It’s not baseball and there should not be a valid reason to keep this. This reminds me of wiffle ball we played while we were younger…what’s next MLB? Ghost runners?
They say baseball is too long…have you ever watched a NFL game? They also can last 3 hours or more. Try watching the NBA in the last 2 mintues…you can raise a family in the time it takes them to finish it. This is the rule I disagree with the most…
4: Suspended games If weather forces a game to be cut short before it is official, it will be continued at a later date rather than started from scratch.
I don’t mind this one at all… it makes sense to me. The famous game that comes to my mind is the George Brett pine tar game…they started that game when it ended…of course weather had nothing to do with that one.
5: Position players pitching There will be no restrictions on position players pitching in 2020.
A rule change installed this past offseason would have required teams to designate every player on the active roster as either a pitcher or a position player, and position players would have been unable to pitch unless it was extra innings, their team was ahead or trailing by more than six runs, or they had qualified for the “two-way” designation. That rule won’t be in place during the 2020 season.
I think this should stand. If the player is alright with pitching under emergencies why not let him? If he is ok with it I don’t see a problem. Personally I like seeing some position player pitch…some like Russell Martin did really well. Yes they could get hurt but the player either says yes or no.
Ok this is just my two cents but the recent intentional walk rule. Why make it automatic and the batter go to first? I have seen pitchers make wild throws and games were decided because of it. I have seen pitchers fool the batter into thinking it was an intentional walk and strike them on a 3-2 count…and batters lean over and hit the ball…and who can forget the A’s fooling Johnny Bench with a fake intentional walk in the World Series? This one doesn’t have anything to do with this year but I wanted to get it in.
I can speak about the Dodgers because I lived it… What are the worst trades your favorite team made? If you want…comment below…I would love to see them.
1…1993 Pedro Martinez The number one bad trade – 3 words… Delino for Pedro. No Dodger fan will forget/forgive this trade that involved Delino DeShields from the Expos going to the Dodgers for Pedro Martinez. If free-agent second baseman Jody Reed agrees to a multiyear contract and returns to Los Angeles, this doesn’t happen. It’s not like they didn’t know Pedro was good… in 1993 he appeared in 65 games (two starts) and went 10–5 with a 2.61 ERA, including 119 strikeouts and 57 walks in 107 innings…then Fred Clair traded him…because of his size Lasorda didn’t think he would hold up and he would be a bullpen guy. Then GM Fred Claire takes responsibility for this though.
2… 1998 Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile to the Florida Marlins for Manuel Barrios, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich, Charles Johnson, and Gary Sheffield. Yes, they did some quality back with Sheffield more than anyone else…but Piazza was the face of the franchise and a future Hall of Famer.
3…1998 Paul Konerko traded for Jeff Shaw – This was stupid. Yes, the Dodgers needed a closer that part is true and they had Eric Karros at first but he didn’t have anywhere near the career Konerko had with the White Sox. Paul was given 54 games to show what he had with the Dodgers. When he had all of that time to hit…he was traded. Tommy Lasorda was made GM for a very short time…I’m thankful it was short…and he did this. To be fair Shaw was a successful closer but he was not worth the price.
4…1983 Ron Cey to the Chicago Cubs for prospects Vance Lovelace and Dan Cataline. This trade made NO sense. Living by Branch Rickey’s logic…better to get rid of someone one year too early than a year too late…great advice but Cey wasn’t near being done. Cey would end up knocking 84 home runs for the Cubs in the next 4 years. Al Campanis really messed up with this one. Third base would be a wasteland for the Dodgers for years and years after Cey left. Adrian Beltre did great briefly but then…they didn’t resign him. Justin Turner is the first good regular third baseman the Dodgers have had since Cey was traded in1982.
5…1982 Rick Sutcliffe traded to the Cleveland Indians for Jack Fimple, Jorge Orta and Larry White. All because Sutcliffe rearranged Lasorda’s office. This was in 1981 and he just won the Rookie of the Year in 1979.
Honorable Mention…I will lump 3 trades together… Juan Guzman traded by the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Toronto Blue Jays for Mike Sharperson a utility player… Sid Fernandez with Ross Jones to the New York Mets for Bob Bailor and Carlos Diaz…and John Franco to the Cincinnati Reds for Rafael Landestoy. Three very good pitchers for not much at all.
In the summer of 1981, I was a 14-year-old 3rd baseman and pitcher for the immortal “Tucker’s Big Star”13-14 age group baseball team. A grocery store sponsored baseball team that featured orange uniforms with white pinstripe…yea they were hideous.
Although I grew up in Tennessee we all knew Fernando Venezuela. He was huge in the baseball world and his popularity was growing with the masses that summer. He was a 20-year-old Mexican pitcher for the Dodgers. Being a Dodger fan I was rooting for him. The 1981 MLB baseball season was played in two parts. An MLB strike started on June 12 and play wasn’t resumed until August 19th.
It was a split season and playoffs had an extra round. It was my favorite Dodger team and they finally beat the Yankees with the help of Fernando. Fernando came out of nowhere. He was born in Navojoa Mexico and discovered by a scout named Mike Brito. He came close to being signed by the New York Yankees but the Dodgers signed him for 120,000 dollars.
Pitcher Bobby Castillo taught him how to throw the Screwball. A pitch that wasn’t common in the Major Leagues. He started the 1981 season 8–0 with five shutouts and an ERA of 0.50. He ended up with a 13-7 record with a 2.84 ERA that year.
Like the Bird Mark Fidrych a few years before he was a huge draw in every park he pitched in. Unlike the Bird, he enjoyed a 17-year career. He won game 3 in the 1981 World Series. He didn’t have his control or best stuff but he hung on to win. He pitched a ridiculous 146 pitches in the complete-game victory.
Fernando had a good career which probably could have been better if not for overuse. Fernando was worked like the town pump.
This is a long article but what a story. It’s about the bat that Roberto Clemente used to hit his 3000th hit. More than that…it upped my respect for the man if that was possible. It has more twists and turns than most stories.
It’s an excerpt from a book (A Drive into the Gap) by Kevin Guilfoile. His dad Bill Guilfoile, was the PR man for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1970-1978. Kevin is a writer and he also worked in public relations with the Astros for a while…he also was an intern for the Pirates in the 90s.
I am a child of the 1970s. My teen years were in the 80s but 1970s baseball is closer to my heart. These are my top 10 pics for third base. I’m going to cover all the positions and then have an all 70’s team.
I pitched a little and caught a little but I mostly played 3rd base in little league, 13-14, 15-16 and High School so that is where I will start. My favorite modern player at the time was Ron Cey…he was the reason I wanted to play 3rd base.
I will list WAR on these…but I don’t go just by that. I think WAR is a great tool but not everything about a player.
I first list their career WAR and at the end list their 1970’s only WAR.
Which ones do you agree with or disagree with? Thank you baseball reference!
Mike Schmidt – 106.8 WAR – His 1980s stats were just as good as his 70s stats and that is saying something. …he is probably the best of all time…not just the seventies. 50.3 1970’s WAR 1970s
George Brett – 88.7 WAR – George’s swing was a thing of beauty. He was the Pinetar man but much more than that. 31.5 WAR 1970s
Graig Nettles – 68 WAR – This guy could beat you defensively just as much as offensively. Nettles had just as much to do with beating the Dodgers in the 77 and 78 World Series than Reggie Jackson did. I think he should be in the Hall of Fame as painful as that is to say. 54.5 WAR in the 70s…the leading WAR third baseman in the 70s.
Sal Bando –61.5 WAR – Sal was the captain of those great Oakland A’s teams of the 70s and had good power. 49 WAR 1970s
Ron Cey – 53.8 WAR – The Penguin had a great batting eye and was the best power hitter the Dodgers had not named Reggie Smith. He was clutch in the postseason. He was the MVP (one of 3) of the 1981 World Series. 35.6 WAR 1970’s
Buddy Bell – 66.3 WAR – I remember Buddy Bell from the eighties more than the seventies. He languished with the Indians and Rangers in the 70s. He never played in the postseason. 31.41970’s WAR
Bill Madlock – 38.2 WAR – This man could flat out hit. He played with a lot of teams in his career. I remember him most with the Pirates and he was part of their 1979 We Are Family championship. He was injured quite a bit in his career. He had a career batting average of .305. 20.8 1970’s WAR
Don Money – 36.5 WAR – Don played with Philadelphia and Milwaukee. I remember him with Milwaukee and he had some pop. 28.8 1970’s WAR
Richie Hebner –33 WAR – I remember Richie with the Pirates and Phillies but mostly with the Phillies but he spent the bulk of his career with the Pirates and won a championship in1971 with them. 25.3 1970’s WAR
Pete Rose –79.7 WAR – Pete only played third from 1975 – 1978 for the Reds…that is why he isn’t higher. 19.9 WAR 1970s as a 3rd baseman
In 1973, the Oakland A’s owner Charles Finley…decided to essentially fire a player during the World Series.
During game two, Oakland’s second baseman Mike Andrews made two errors in an inning. With the Mets leading 7-6 in the twelfth inning…a ball went through Andrew’s legs allowing two runs to score. The next batter hit a ground ball to him and his throw pulled first baseman Gene Tenace off the bag allowing another run to score.
Charlie Finley was not a happy owner after the game. Andrews had a previous shoulder problem but it was not bothering him. Oakland knew this when he was signed in July of 1973. Finley forced Andrews to sign a medical statement stating that medically he could not play the rest of the series which was not true. Mike Andrews told Finley he made the errors and it wasn’t because of any injury. Charlie bullied Mike into signing the statement and then he headed home.
Finley wanted to use Andrew’s previous shoulder injury as an excuse. Manager Dick Williams and the rest of the team were furious over this. They boarded the plane going back to New York for game three and the entire team united in their dislike of O’Finley who they didn’t like at the best of times.
For game three most of the A’s wore “17” (Andrew’s Number) with medical tape on their jerseys until the Commissioner Bowie Kuhn ruled that Andrews be placed back on the team.
By this time it was national news and Andrews rejoined the team in New York. During game four Dick Williams sent Andrews up to bat, against Finley’s orders, and Andrews got a standing ovation from Mets fans at Shea Stadium who were well informed of what was going on. He grounded out to second base and he didn’t play in another game in the series but he was with the team.
Dick Williams told the team after game three that this would be his last year managing Oakland win or lose. He couldn’t take Charlie Finley another year.
Oakland ended up winning the World Series that year 4 games to 3 in Oakland. Mike Andrews never played in the majors again. In 1975 he tried to play in Japan before retiring. He later became the chairman of the Jimmy Fund in Boston.
Reggie Jackson talking to Joe Garagiola about Charlie Finley and the Mike Andrews situation.
At 16:36 you can see the errors. The replay of the last error shows that it was probably a missed call because of Tenace’s foot appears to stay on the bag.
David was called “The Next Sandy Koufax” as he was drafted straight out of high school with the number 1 pick in 1973. I’m not so sure he would have been another Sandy Koufax but because of greed he never found out. David was a can’t-miss prospect who was 18-0 with a 0.18 ERA as a Westchester senior who went just 18-33 as a major leaguer.
The Texas Rangers had moved from Washington because of bad attendance and settled in Texas. In 1972 they had low attendance and the owner Bob Short wanted a boost in attendance and the plan was to start his new draft pick David Clyde in two games and then send him to the minors after that.
Twenty days after pitching his last high school game, Clyde won his first-ever Major League start before over 35,000 fans in Arlington Stadium, the first sellout in stadium history. David pitched well in his second game until a blister forced him out in the 6th inning. Now he was scheduled to go to the minors to learn and develop. Short, though, had other ideas after 33,010 fans flocked to Arlington Stadium for Clyde’s second start, a six-inning, no-decision performance against the White Sox.
Clyde remained a Ranger and got battered, going 4-8 with a 5.01 ERA for a 57-105 team.
Whitey Herzog the manager pleaded with Short to send Clyde to the minors. Like many young pitchers, Herzog says, Clyde started throwing his curveball too hard and lost control of it. Then hitters began sitting on his fastball. Herzog says Clyde could have regained his control and confidence in the minors.
At the end of 1973 Billy Martin was let go by the Detroit Tigers and Rangers owner Bob Short told his manager, Whitey Herzog, that he would fire his own grandmother to have a chance to hire Martin…well he fired Herzog and got Martin. Herzog’s reply was “I’m fired, I’m the grandmother.”
Martin argued to send David Clyde to the minors for seasoning the next year but he still started 21 games. He was sent and later on developed arm troubles and was traded to Cleveland in 1978
He threw his last major league pitch on Aug. 7, 1979, as a 24-year-old Cleveland Indian, 37 days shy of qualifying for MLB’s pension plan. He has tried to act as a coach to get the 37 days but no luck so far.
Many people claim that David Clyde saved the Rangers Franchise from moving elsewhere.
I remember watching this when it happened. Game 5 of the 1977 ALCS between the Royals and the Yankees. In the bottom of the first Brett hit a triple with Hal McRae on first. It went over the head of Mickey Rivers and Brett slid in at 3rd base and got in tangled with Graig Nettles…Nettles did a dirty kick to the face of Brett and George came up swinging.
Everyone got in on the action including pitcher Ron Guidry and then Thurman Munson came over. Thurman had seen Nettles kick Brett in the face and although Nettles was a teammate…Munson’s sense of fair play took over.
Thurman gets into the pile and covers Brett and sticks his glove over Brett’s head to avoid any cheap shots. George Brett said Munson told him: “Don’t worry, George, I won’t let anybody hit you when you’re down.” And they didn’t. “Thurman is my hero.” This quote surprised me quite a bit since Thurman was known to be crusty at the best of times.
Yankee manager Billy Martin, no stranger to fights, wrapped an arm around the 5’5″ Royal shortstop Freddie Patek and pulled him from the fracas. Billy said to him, “Stay with me over here and we won’t get hurt. Let those guys sort it out.
The reason this fight stuck with me all of these years is because no one got ejected… there were no warnings. Everyone brushed themselves off and played the rest of the game like nothing happened…the Yankees won 5-3 and advanced to the World Series where they beat the Dodgers.
I didn’t start following baseball heavily until 1977. I do remember Detroit Tiger Mark Fidrych well though. Once in a while there will be a player that fans want to see no matter what team he plays for at the time. There are a few that come to mind. Fernando Valenzuela, Bo Jackson, and to a lesser extent Yasiel Puig in his rookie year. We want to see them because they have strong personalities and are usually good to great players.
Mark Fidrych was a joy to watch. He would look like he was talking to the ball, do ground maintenance on the mound, and would congratulate teammates for making routine plays. It was so much fun to see his obvious excitement playing Major League baseball. MLB estimated that in 1976 the 21 year old drew in over `1 million extra attendance across the league. Teams would ask the Tigers if they would change their rotation so Fidrych would pitch in their park to spike their attendance. Can you imagine that happening today?
His nickname “The Bird” came from his blonde thick curly hair and his big feet resembling to Sesame Street’s Big Bird. Fidrych was great in his rookie year. His record was 19-9 with an ERA of 2.34 and he pitched an incredible 250.1 innings with 24 complete games! He didn’t pitch his first game until May 15 that year. That makes it more impressive.
He injured his knee in Spring Training the next year in 1977. He recovered and was doing great until July 4 against the Orioles he felt his arm go dead. He ended up only pitching 81 innings in 1977 and was 6-4 with a 2.89 ERA. He tried pitching through what he could but missed a lot of time…he was out of baseball by 1980.
It was a rotator cuff injury that wasn’t properly diagnosed until 1985 when he was 31 because of medical advancement. There was too much damage already done to his shoulder that prevented him from coming back.
Some teams didn’t like his antics. The Yankees thought he was showing them up but teammate Rusty Staub said “It’s no act. There’s nothing contrived about him and that’s what makes him a beautiful person.” I think that is the reason people did like him so much…he seemed real and was having the time of his life playing baseball.
Fidrych went back home to Northboro, Massachusetts, where he became a licensed commercial truck driver and later purchased a farm. He married his wife, Ann, in 1986, and they had a daughter, Jessica. He made appearances for charity groups and nonprofit organizations over the years, making himself rather accessible to fans who fondly remembered the career of the Bird. Tragically, Fidrych died on April 13, 2009, at age 54, in an accident as he worked underneath a truck.
Baseball needs players like Fidrych…who are genuine and appreciate being a grownup playing a game.
Yips:The yips is the loss of fine motor skills in athletes. The condition occurs suddenly and without apparent explanation, usually in mature athletes with years of experience. … The condition is also experienced by snooker players, bowlers in cricket and pitchers in baseball.
The Yips can come at any time. When Atlanta’s then-manager Bobby Cox was watching his team play the Mets. The Mets catcher Mackey Sasser had problems just throwing the ball back to the pitcher. Cox turned and told his second baseman Mark Lemke that anyone on the field is just one bad throw away from having what Mackey has…Cox had seen the yips before.
It’s so hard to watch as the player totally losses his confidence. Many times players cannot pinpoint when it starts and for some they never find the cure.
I just finished a book about the 1981 Dodgers and it reminded me of Steve Sax who had a problem throwing a ball from second base to first. I thought I would find some more players who had problems. Some lasted just a little while while others it took their career.
It has affected pitchers significantly. They lose the ability to throw a strike and their career along with it.
Steve Blass – He may be the most famous case of the yips. He was a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1964 to 1974. He went from a 2.49 ERA in 1972 to a 9.85 ERA to 1973…1974 was his last year. For every 1 strikeout he had 3 walks. Balls flying to the backstop at times… Steve Blass: “I had no control over it, nor did I understand it. I would sit in my backyard 2…3…4 o’clock in the morning thinking, ‘My God, what’s happened to me? What is this? Has someone put a curse on me or something?”
He was only 31 when this happened. His stats were 100-67 with a 3.24 ERA from 1964-1972. He was 3-1 in post season with a 3.10 ERA and a World Series winner in 1971. He ended up with a 103-76 record with a 3.63 ERA.
The Yips have been called by some “Steve Blass Disease.”
Rick Ankiel – Ankiel looked like the real deal. A powerful left handed pitcher that USA Today called “the most promising young left-handed pitcher in a generation.” Tony LaRussa put it to the test and inserted the 21 year old into the 2000 NLDS against the Braves. It was painful to watch. Ankiel walked 6 men in 2.2 innings. He eventually went to the minor leagues and it didn’t get any better…in fact it got worse…but he did do something else about it. He became an outfielder and hit as many as 25 homeruns in one season. He was never as good of an outfielder as he was a pitcher though. He played until 2013…I’ve always wondered what his pitching career would have been like.
Chuck Knoblauch – After being traded to the Yankees in 1998 this second baseman’s trouble started. His errors doubled but hardly any throwing errors in 1999. In 2000 it started and his throws to first base would be wild. In fact… an errant throw sailed into the stands and hit sportscaster Keith Olbermann’s mother in the head.
He returned to second base briefly, but never regained his throwing accuracy. He was moved to the outfield and designated hitter for the remaining two years of his career, including New York’s World Series run in 2000.
Steve Sax – Steve joined the Dodgers in 1981 in the last half of the season. Steve was on the playoff roster for the World Series. His troubles started in 1983 after an error involving Andre Dawson. After that he could not throw accurately to first base. This went on for 2 months and he had over twenty errors before the All Star break. Something his dad said broke the spell.
His father told him, “One day you are going to wake up and this problem is going to be gone,” confessing that he had suffered the exact same problem in high school, but his confidence had eventually returned and he overcame it.
Six hours later John Sax died. It was the last conversation his son had with him. But buoyed by his father’s words, Sax persevered, slowly regaining his confidence over time. Baseball became fun again. Sax didn’t make a single error in the last 36 games of the season.
Years later Sax’s mom, who had known his dad since the fifth grade, told him the truth: His father never had a throwing problem.
“He lied. He didn’t want to see me fail, so he lied,” “He bailed me out on his death bed. And it changed my life.”
Some people also call the yips from a fielder “Steve Sax Syndrome” Steve went on the play with the Dodgers, Yankees, White Sox, and A’s after this and the problem never resurfaced.
There have been other players in the MLB and many other sports to suffer from this.
Vin Scully has said before each post season he would pray…not that the Dodgers would win but that no one on either team would become a goat that would be so hard to live down. After what happened to Kershaw against the Nationals it made me think of some unfortunate players/spectators/umpires failed at the wrong moment.
A few of these people got reminded of these plays the rest of their life…as if their life boiled down to this one moment.
These are in no order
Bill Buckner – Probably the poster boy for scapegoats… Bill’s misfortune happened in the 1986 World Series. I always thought he was unfairly treated. The Sox were leading the Mets in the 10th inning 5-3 with TWO outs. All they needed was one out to win the World Series. After a single, single, single, walk, passed ball… let’s stop here for a second…now they are tied because they cannot get one out. Mookie Wilson is up next and dribbles one down the first baseline and Buckner…who usually was taken out of games because of defensive reasons…misses the ball and the Mets win 6-5. That tied the series up at 3 games apiece.
Game 7 belonged to the Mets after winning 8-5 and they won the World Series.
Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams – This one I felt when they put him in to pitch. Joe Carter took him long to win the World Series in the 9th inning for the Toronto Blue Jays. I remember Curt Schilling always hiding his head under a towel when Mitch pitched which didn’t go over well with the reliever. Williams does have a sense of humor about it anyway.
Willie Davis – Some will remember the day in 1966 when he made three errors in one World Series game. On Oct. 6, 1966, against the Baltimore Orioles, Davis lost three fly balls in the sun at Dodger Stadium. According to reporter Charles Maher’s account in The Times the next day, Davis came back to the dugout after the inning and told pitcher Sandy Koufax, “I’m sorry, I just lost them in the sun.” Koufax said: “Don’t let it get you down.” Pitcher Don Drysdale said: “Hell, forget it. … You’ve saved a lot of games for me with great catches.”
It wouldn’t have mattered much in the long run in all probability. The Dodgers were swept by the Orioles in 4 games.
Fred Merkle – “Merkle’s Boner” In the bottom of the ninth, the Giants and Cubs were tied at 1–1 with two men on base and two outs. Giants outfielder Moose McCormick stood at third base, while Merkle was the runner on first. Giants shortstop Al Bridwell took the first pitch from Cubs southpaw Jack Pfiester and got the ball past second baseman Johnny Evers for a single into center field. McCormick scored and the pennant appeared to belong to the Giants. Fans stormed out of the stands in celebration as Merkle made his way to the dugout, assuming that the game was over.
One problem: Merkle never touched second base… Evers noticed the error and headed over to beat Merkle back to the bag, which would void McCormick’s run for the final out. But this is where it gets even weirder: Evers didn’t have the ball, which was hit and lost in the shuffle of people. Some re–tellings of the play say that Giants pitcher Joe McGinnity, who also served as a first base coach that day, tossed the ball into the stands to a fan, who bolted with his new souvenir. In this version of the story, police officers stopped the spectator and the ball made its way back to the field with a throw from Joe Tinker to Evers. The umpires saw Evers on the bag, and Merkle was called out. Charles Dryden, the Chicago Tribune‘s writer on-site, talked to multiple players that day and tallied 18 assists on the final play.
People never let him forget this through his life. This is what helped The Cubs win their final World Series in the 20th Century in the year 1908.
Steve Bartman – Ok not a player but he caught hell after leaning over to make a catch that a lot of fans will do. People forget that there was actually baseball played after the incident and a few errors that had an effect on the score. One of the biggest came from Alex Gonzalez, his bobble of a routine double-play ball that would’ve ended the inning with a 3-1 Cubs lead ended up turning into an eight-run inning for the Marlins. So, Bartman was an overzealous fan going after a fair ball but the man moved out of Chicago because of the furor of Cubs fans.
He was rewarded with a WS ring in 2016 but when you have a Halloween mask modeled after you…is that really enough?
Scott Norwood – I’m cheating here because this is football but man did I feel bad for this guy! I was watching this Superbowl and will never forget Al Michaels saying “Wide Right” after Norwood’s missed field goal attempt for the Bills that let the Giants win the Superbowl on January 27, 1991 .
Don Denkinger – He blew a huge call during Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. The Kansas City Royals were down one to the St. Louis Cardinals in the bottom of the ninth inning. If the Cardinals win the game, they would have taken the series. Jorge Orta came to the plate and hit a grounder to first. The throw beat Orta to the base, but Denkinger inexplicably called Orta safe. Kansas City went on to score two runs in the inning and tied up the series…..The Royals won Game 7 and the World Series, partially as a result of the blown call.
Frank Pulli – Oh how I disliked this man in 1978. The 12-year-old me learned quickly that life was not always fair.
It was 1978 and the Dodgers were leading the Yankees 3-1 in the 6th inning. The Yankees had runners on 1st and 2nd when Piniella hit a line drive at Bill Russell, who dropped the ball, picked it up and stepped on second for the force out. The ball wound up in right field after he attempted to turn the double play with a throw to first. At that moment Jackson stuck his hip out to deflect the throw, and run was scored on the play. This helped the Yankees tie it with a run in the 8th after which they won in the 10th. All of that helped them even the series. The momentum went to the Yankees after this… Reggie should have been called out for interference. The Dodgers would have had a 3-1 lead in the series and heading back to LA for games 6 and 7.
The Dodgers finally got revenge in 1981 against the Yankees and Reggie Jackson.