Author Archives: Andrew Martin
The Boston Red Sox have a fan base and teams that create memories unlike most sports teams. Often, the two inform and feed off the other. Herb Crehan’s The Impossible Dream 1967 Red Sox: Birth of Red Sox Nation (2016, Summer Game Books) celebrates the 50thanniversary of one of those greatest collaborations, which was so memorable it spawned a team name for the history books and launched an identity for those on the sidelines that persists to this day.
The Boston Red Sox are one of the most successful franchises in Major League Baseball. Their consistent winning ways, playing in a big market and having a broad fan base all translate to them annually having one of the highest payrolls in the sport. As long as the team is winning the particulars of where the money is going never seems to matter as much. However, some of the players Boston will be cutting checks to in 2017, and the amounts, may come as a surprise.
Once a ballyhooed free agent signing, Pablo Sandoval’s 2016 season with the Boston Red Sox ended after a total of three games and an unacceptable number of trips to the dinner plate. Plagued with shoulder issues and an alarming weight gain, the third baseman barely made it on the field to try and follow up on a miserable 2015 campaign that was his first with the team. Now noticeably slimmer and reportedly healthy, his bid for a comeback is being aided by his team, which has put him in the best possible position to succeed.
Some paths to the major leagues are longer and more winding than others. Just being drafted is far from a guarantee that any success will ensue. Hard work and an ability to take and adapt to instruction are just as important as having raw skill. Left-handed pitcher John Halama knows only too well what it takes to work his way up from a mid-round draft prospect to a successful major league career.
Trash talking in professional sports is something that seems to have its genesis in the most recent of generations. However, that is simply not true, as athletes, including major league baseball players have enjoyed sniping at each other over the years. An early example of this was catcher Lou Criger, who came out swinging in the press more than a century ago about his major disdain for legendary outfielder Ty Cobb.
Baseball has an ability like no other to provide infinite anecdotes and recollections. Tim Kurkjian’s I’m Fascinated by Sacrifice Flies: Inside the Game We All Love (2016; St. Martin’s Press) captures that unique proclivity. The renowned ESPN personality/journalist has accumulated some of the best stories and oddities that he has collected during his decades of close involvement and observation of the game and turned them over to the fans for their own enjoyment.
Now that we are in a new year, spring training is right around the corner. The Boston Red Sox made some big moves this offseason but like all teams can never count on what will happen with injuries, player production and other factors that will impact their success in 2017. Although their roster is packed with stars they invite a number of non-roster players to camp each spring. While most end up being warm bodies, they are all worth a look and sometimes end up getting big league time before the year is over. Here is a look at the non-roster invites the Red Sox have lined up so far for this year.
Later this month the newest class of the Baseball Hall of Fame will be announced via the voting of the Baseball Writers’ Association of American (BBWAA). The ballot is packed with big names, and although I personally don’t have an official vote, I still wanted to get in on the fun. So, keeping in mind that each voter can choose up to 10 inductees, here is who I would cast my lot for if I had the opportunity.
In baseball, young players are rushed to the majors all the time for a variety of reasons. This can be especially true for expansion teams, who are attempting to stock their rosters with any semblance of big league talent. Sometimes it ends up working out for the player and other times, like in the case of infielder Ernie Fazio, things just don’t up clicking and leading to a lengthy career.
Connie Mack is one of the most enduring figures in the history of baseball. The Hall of Famer spent 15 years playing professionally as a catcher and then went on to manage and own the Philadelphia Athletics for 50 seasons. To say that he knew the game would be quite the understatement. That’s why when he gave his opinions it was best to listen—including the time he talked about his all-time team of players who debuted prior to 1900.
In 1944, Mack was getting towards the end of his illustrious career (he stepped down as manager following the 1950 season) but had been on hand to have observed a major portion of baseball history to that point. Therefore, when he was asked by the AP’s Chip Royal to compile a list of the best players who started their career prior to 1900 to ever play the game, it was fascinating to see his answers. Keep reading for his full roster.
Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz rode off into the sunset at the end of the 2016 season after spending 14 historical years with the team. He can never be truly replaced but the lineup will have a huge hole if a reasonable successor is not identified. Fortunately, Boston seems to be hot on the trail of a tremendous candidate in veteran Carlos Beltran.
The Minnesota Twins last made the playoffs in 2010. They have lost at least 92 games every season except once since and are still rebuilding in an effort to reclaim their former success. One of the young players they are hoping will contribute to that overhaul is third base prospect Trey Cabbage.
The World Series just concluded in historic fashion, meaning another baseball season is in the books. With many exciting moments and performances, there was plenty to keep fans busy in 2016. Soon, the sport will announce the winners of its awards, and there is plenty of competition for the top honors. Without further ado, here is my (unofficial) ballot.
The illustrious career of the Boston Red Sox’s David Ortiz has come to a close. Given what he has meant to one of the flagship franchises of Major League Baseball for the past 14 years, his departure will create a crated-sized void. He will leave behind quite the legacy; one that had never been seen before and will never be seen again.
Yesterday marked the 60th anniversary of one of baseball’s most cherished feats. On October 8th, 1956, New York Yankees starting pitcher Don Larsen threw the first and onlyperfect game in the history of the World Series (and playoffs). Not only is it one of the major gold standards in the sport, it also still captivates fans as much today as it did six decades ago.
The right-hander’s perfect came in Game 5 at Yankee Stadium against the Brooklyn Dodgers, giving the Bronx Bombers a 3-2 Series lead. They ultimately took the championship two days later in the 7th and deciding game. Here are some interesting facts about Larsen and his perfect game.
In shortstop Xander Bogaerts, the Boston Red Sox have one of the most exciting young players in baseball. The native of Aruba has blossomed into a true star, showing five-tool talent and still clocking in at the tender age of 24. Although some fans may not realize it, not that long ago, the team was fortunate enough to have two Bogaerts in their organization, with Xander’s (fraternal) twin brother Jair making up the other half of the tandem.
Details are sparse at this point but the death has been confirmed by multiple sources. Baseball has lost one of its youngest and brightest stars.
The 24-year-old right-handed native of Cuba (later came to the United States) came to the Marlins as a first-round draft choice in 2011 out of high school. He made the majors just two years later, and despite undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014, came back as good as ever.
The Boston Red Sox have put their fans in a glass case of emotions this year. The time is quickly counting down on the illustrious career of beloved slugger David Ortiz. Additionally, even though they are currently in first place in the American League East, the team is still fighting for their playoff spot with their finger nails, as a veritable pack of hopefuls nip at their heels. That being said, no matter what happens the rest of the way there are a number of positives that will come out of the 2016 campaign and can be applied to the future.
He died too young, passing away at a young age with enormous untapped potential. When he was found in his mother’s house, unresponsive from a beating suffered during a mugging and a subsequent heart attack, he had just turned 36. Despite having had a career in show business, and even a brief stint as a major league baseball player, he never found the comfort or respect most would expect from such opportunities. Insecurity, alcohol and always feeling on the outside all contributed to his lot in life leading up to his final days. As it turned out, Eddie Gaedel wound up being as overlooked in death as he was in his much too brief life.
PRESS RELEASE from Minor League Baseball
PETERSBURG, Fla. — Minor League Baseball today announced the August Player of the Month Award winners for each of its 16 leagues. Each player will receive an award from Minor League Baseball in recognition of the honor.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies) right-hander Phil Klein led the International League in strikeouts (46), batting average against (.154) and WHIP (0.65) in August. He was 4-0 with a 1.06 ERA during the month as he allowed 18 hits and four walks over 34.0 innings pitched. Klein, 27, was originally selected by Texas in the 30th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Youngstown State University.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of Major League Baseball’s flagship franchises, going all the way back to when the team called Brooklyn, New York its home. For years, relying on flashy players and sometimes even flashier managers, they have traditionally been in the national spotlight. In particular, the 1977-78 teams were among the most entertaining and talented, and yet unfulfilled. Author Michael Fallon has dived in with a deep examination with Dodgerland: Decadent Los Angeles and the 1977-78 Dodgers (University of Nebraska Press, 2016).
Baseball is no stranger to having those connected to the game being called out for insensitive and/or inappropriate comments. From the 1999 John Rocker Sports Illustrated feature and ensuing suspension, to the more recent termination of Curt Schilling from ESPN, among others, there is an unfortunate history. One of the first such incidents that rose to national attention occurred in 1938 when New York Yankees outfielder Jake Powell caused wide-spread furor over racist comments he made on the radio while doing a live dugout interview prior to a game.
Texas Rangers slugging first baseman Prince Fielder has announced that he is retiring from Major League Baseball due to having recently undergone his second spinal fusion surgery in the past three years. He was a star for much of his 12 big league seasons but will likely not go down as an all-time great. That being said, he was a tremendous player who has never been fully appreciated for his influence and place in the game.
The Oakland Athletics are in the midst of their second straight season of floundering in the second division, on pace for a 70-92 record. Accordingly, they recently saw their struggles translate into a higher draft pick than normal. They capitalized, grabbing massive University of Florida left-handed pitcher A.J. Puk with the sixth overall selection in the 2016 draft; giving them the kind of top-tier prospect that teams can only usually dream about.
We’re barely two weeks past the 2016 MLB All Star Game and it is already appropriate to say that this has been a truly strange baseball season. Every year there are stories that unfold that cause outsiders to do a double take to make sure they understood correctly but this year seems to have had a disproportionate amount with more than two months of the season left to go.
Here are some of the most unforgettable:
At the age of 40, Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is playing in his final and perhaps best season of a 20-year major league career. He is providing a grand finale for what may well end up being an eventual induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Although such impressive exits from the game are rare, there have been others who retired with a bang instead of a whimper.
If the 2016 season were to end today, it could be reasonably argued that Ortiz truly did go out on top. Thus far, in 89 games, he has hit .332 with a league-leading 35 doubles, 24 home runs, 81 RBIs and a 182 OPS+, which represents a career high. He also leads the league in on base percentage (OBP) and slugging, all while walking (52) more than he has struck out (45).
Keep reading for some other outstanding final seasons. Eligibility was determined by players who voluntarily retired, as opposed to those like Shoeless Joe Jackson (who hit .382 in 1920 with 218 hits, 121 RBIs and just 14 strikeouts but never returned to the game after being suspended for life); injury (Sandy Koufax and Kirby Puckett had tremendous final seasons before retiring suddenly for health reasons), or death (like Roberto Clemente, who hit .312 and won a Gold Glove in 1972 but was killed during the offseason in a plane crash).
Before Babe Ruth, another mega star dominated the baseball landscape. His name was Hal Chase and he was a supremely talented and flawed athlete and human, who was ultimately overtaken by his demons and unceremoniously cast out of the majors because of his penchant for gambling and allegedly throwing games—which possibly included involvement in the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal. Detailing his rise and fall is Donald Dewey and Nicholas Acocella, with their excellent The Black Prince of Baseball: Hal Chase and the Mythology of the Game (University of Nebraska Press, 2004/2016).
Minor League Baseball issued the following press release today:
Minor League Baseball Remains a Budget-Friendly Entertainment Option
Family of four can attend a game for an average of less than $65
PETERSBURG, Florida — Minor League Baseball announced today that attending one of its games is, yet again, one of the most economical forms of family entertainment available. The average cost for a family of four to enjoy a Minor League Baseball game this season is only $64.97; a price that includes parking, two adult tickets, two child tickets, four hot dogs, two sodas and two beers.
Facial hair is all the rage these days for those many, who spend inordinate amounts of time and money cultivating beards, mustaches and other elaborate whiskery concoctions. Although many ball players currently sport all manners of hair on their faces, it’s something that has not always been tolerated. An early opponent was Hall of Famer Fred Clarke, who came out swinging heavily in the press in 1905 when the question of mustaches was broached with his team.