Author Archives: Andrew Martin
Fighting with your boss is usually a losing proposition, no matter who is on the right side. Nobody learned this harder than former right-handed pitcher Dave Davenport, who literally saw his professional career come to an end after a skirmish with his manager with the St. Louis Browns in 1919.
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida — Minor League Baseball today announced its list of Top 25 teams in licensed merchandise sales for 2016, with the combined totals of all 160 teams setting a Minor League Baseball record with more than $68.3 million in retail sales. The $68.3 million total marks a 5.06 percent increase over 2015’s total of $65.1 million, which had been the highest total recorded since Minor League Baseball’s licensing program began in 1992. The numbers are based on total licensed merchandise sales from January 1 – December 31, 2016, and include the 160 teams in the domestic-based leagues that charge admission to their games.
The sheer thrill of playing professional baseball must be enormous. Imagine the feeling one would have after making the major leagues after toiling for seven years in various levels of independent and minor league ball. Former pitcher Matt Miller is someone who is very familiar with this, as he had a lengthy, yet ultimately satisfying journey through his baseball career.
In baseball, it’s hard enough to make it to the major leagues playing the position you were signed for, let along doing so after shifting from pitching to hitting full time. Nevertheless, some players are talented enough to make the switch, including Jeoff Long, whose possible stardom was derailed by an injury in his early 20s.
Major League Baseball was segregated until 1947, when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier by joining the Brooklyn Dodgers. Despite that important first step, the trail blazing athlete was not a cure-all and the game only gradually and begrudgingly trudged towards inclusion. The Boston Red Sox were the last big league franchise to integrate, with backup infielder Pumpsie Green’s appearance on their 1959 roster making them the final team to field a black player. The franchise long battled a wretched reputation when it came to race (which persists to this day), and it might have been even worse if it weren’t for the work of Ed Scott.
The Boston Red Sox’s confounding power right-handed pitcher Joe Kelly is in his fourth season with the team. While boasting a stellar 2.12 ERA in 14 relief appearances, he is walking batters at a high rate and striking out even fewer. What’s the cause of this and what might his future hold? Let’s dig a little deeper to see if there are any answers.
Although they lost the World Series to the Toronto Blue Jays in dramatic fashion, the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies were one of the most iconic teams in baseball history. With a roster comprised of long-haired, grubby outcasts, they captivated the country once they started winning and proved they were no joke. However, they were not built to last and were gone as quickly as they arrived (The Phillies wouldn’t have another winning season until 2001) —with many of their key players never approaching the same level of effectiveness during the remainder of their careers. William C. Kashatus’ Macho Row: The 1993 Phillies and Baseball’s Unwritten Code (University of Nebraska Press, 2017) takes an in depth look at this motley crew and how they impacted the baseball scene for one fleeting season.
Baltimore Orioles star slugger Adam Jones divulged after yesterday’s game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park that he was on the receiving end of racial taunts from fans in the stands. The Red Sox swiftly made a public apology and are reportedly considering issuing lifetime bans for fans who are caught perpetrating such behavior in the future, but reaction needs to be stronger and more widespread.
Baseball is fun as much for the trivia, stories and tidbits of knowledge that accumulate as for the actual action that takes place on the field. The Boston Red Sox are one of the most storied franchises in the sport, and as such have a rich trove of factoids. Here is a sampling.
The 2017 Major League Baseball season has just kicked off but it’s never too early to look ahead to next year. There is an interesting crop of potential free agents, and the Boston Red Sox, who are annual players in the market, may look to go shopping once again. Let’s take a look at what players might be good fits.
In the mid-1980s the Detroit Tigers were one of the most feared teams in baseball. Winning the World Series in 1984, they had an iconic manager in Sparky Anderson, and a roster full of talent, including the likes of Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker. Hoping to keep their momentum going, they also focused on stocking their farm system with young talent to sustain their future. Unfortunately, the team slipped as they moved towards the end of the decade and into the 1990s; unable to develop the prospects to build a dynasty. One of those home grown players was left-handed pitcher Steve Searcy, who never became a star but did make it to the majors in Motown.
In the 1960’s left-handed pitchers ruled baseball, with the likes of Whitey Ford, Sandy Koufax and Warren Spahn patrolling the mound. Needless to say, teams were extremely interested in identifying the next southpaw to potentially take their place in the pantheon. One such prospect was Norm Angelini, who may not have become a star but did accomplish the impressive feat of reaching at pitching well at the major league level.
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.