December 11, 2016

Introducing the New Negro Leagues Database

December 5, 2016 by · 2 Comments 

It’s been over five years since we originally launched the Negro Leagues Database. Over that time, there have been significant additions to the database, in terms of new seasons and statistics. But the website and the presentation of these statistics have largely remained the same. In May of 2015, I overhauled the Major League part […]

Why Branca? Assessing Dressen’s Options

November 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Ralph Branca passed away at the age of 90 on the day before Thanksgiving. It was a singular moment in time—he was called in by Brooklyn manager Charlie Dressen to protect a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth in the third and deciding game of a playoff to determine the National League pennant-winner […]

Five Changes For the Fans

November 15, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

When I left Sports Illustrated in 1986, I knew I’d be spending as much time in the stands as in the press box. So while baseball scribes like SI’s Tom Verducci suggest ways (see: lowering the mound) to improve play, I have my own five recommendations to enhance conditions for fans. Every time a pitcher […]

Playoff and World Series Observations – 2016

November 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It doesn’t seem right when a team battles through a 162-game season to receive a wild card, that it can be eliminated in one game.  However, the wild card games are among the most interesting in the post-season. Buck Showalter’s reputation as a manager took a serious hit when he failed to use Zach Britton, […]

World Series Recap

October 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It is finally happening. We have all seen the countless memes and useless facts about how the world has changed since this last happened, but we are all finally here. The Chicago Cubs will be hosting a World Series game at Wrigley Field. This is not a drill. The North Side of Chicago will be […]

Hardball Retrospective – The Worst In-Season Trades Since 1950

October 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The in-season deal in modern baseball is typically proposed under the following circumstances: A team may wish to trade a potential free agent that will likely sign with another team in the upcoming off-season. The expected return is minor-league talent. Two teams wish to make a deal to upgrade at a specific position without weakening […]

Can the Same 2016 Nationals Realistically Beat the Cubs in 2017?

October 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Yes, there are going to be big changes coming to Washington that spring from a fulcrum point in early November. But not THOSE kind of changes. There is a whole other kind of transition team that–beginning in November, after the last pitch of the 2016 World Series–will look to build a better future for the […]

A Tale of Two Cities

October 9, 2016 by · 2 Comments 

In the 1930’s two adolescent boys worked the score board at old Griffith Stadium: Bowie Kuhn and Ted Lerner.  Both grew up in the Washington, DC suburbs and both came up watching the slow demise of the old Washington Nationals as they went from perennial contender to the goats of baseball for thirty years.  Kuhn […]

Boston Red Sox Ending 2016 Regular Season on Many High Notes

September 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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 […]

Planting the Flag

September 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Washington Nationals have all but clinched their third National League East title.  Their 1-0 win at Nationals Park last night over the Mets planted a flag square among the throng of New Yorkers there for the game. With a scant 16 games left to play in the 2016 season, the Nats have a 10 […]

Why the Mets Signing Tebow Pisses on the Idea of Fairness in Baseball

September 9, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

One of the best reads in baseball is not a sports article but a 1975 law review article entitled “Common Law Origins of the Infield Fly Rule” by William S. Stevens.  He connects the dots between common law and morality to baseball’s evolutionary attempts to be fair, evidenced with the 1890 infield fly rule preventing […]

Be Prepared To Wait For The Next 500th Home Run or 300th Win

August 29, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

Without counting steroid speculation, a player who hit 500 home runs or recorded 300 wins was a lock for the Hall of Fame. The last pitcher to record his 300th win was Randy Johnson in 2009, while last season David Ortiz was the latest player to join the 500 home run club. If you look […]

Hardball Retrospective – The Journey From Expansion to Competitive Team

August 10, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

In the comments section from one of my recent articles, “nocaBall” posed the following query: “I would like to ask your opinion of how many years it takes an expansion team to develop a complete team? I do not mean using players who were part-timers, or who pitched less than a full season, but a […]

Negro Leagues DB Update: 1941 NNL & NAL

August 6, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

For the second year in a row, the Negro Leagues’ best player, Josh Gibson, played in the Mexican League instead of with the Homestead Grays. For the standings at least, it didn’t matter as Homestead finished first for the fifth consecutive year. The Grays were a very veteran team by 1941. Thirty-three year old first […]

Mike Rizzo Gives Nationals Chance to Win it All on Back Nine

July 30, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Washington Nationals got their man today when they traded for Mark Melancon of the Pirates. The trade is not yet official, but apparently Washington has dealt Felipe Rivero and Taylor Hearn to Pittsburgh for Melancon. The trade constitutes is a Coup d’etat right here in Washington, DC.  The ruling elite who predicted that Washington […]

The Best Pitchers Who Never Threw A No-Hitter

July 21, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

The no-hitter remains one of the rarest feats in Major League Baseball as only 237 complete game no-hitters have been hurled since 1901 (roughly 1.5 no-hitters per year). Let’s examine a group of pitchers who have never twirled a no-no despite possessing excellent hits-to-innings pitched ratios. The register includes pitchers with Hall of Fame credentials, […]

Big Papi and the Iron Horse—Best World Series Performers Ever?

July 14, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

In 2016, David Ortiz may end up with the best season anyone has ever had as a 40-year old.  Papi is hitting .332 with 34 doubles, 22 home runs, and 72 RBIs.  His .426 OBP and .682 slugging percentage means that he has an OPS  of 1.107, which not only is the best in baseball, […]

Biggest Snubs from the 2016 All-Star Game

July 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

After the fans decided to elect Michael Saunders and Brandon Belt in the All-Star Final Vote, the American League and National League All-Star rosters were set. Saunders and Belt beat out four candidates from their respective leagues, but it’s safe to say the other Final Vote candidates were deserving of chances to play in the Midsummer […]

Ike Futch on Life in the 1960s Minor Leagues

July 2, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Two years ago, I interviewed Ike Futch, who played second base, mostly, for a variety of Yankee minor league teams from 1959 through 1964, about his experiences as a minor leaguer in the Yankee organization at the tail end of its long dynasty. Ike, after graduating high school in Louisiana, always hit .300+ while playing […]

Lazzari’s Vault: Remembering Phil Rizzuto

June 27, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

Looking back, I’d have to say that Phil Rizzuto was the “voice” of my youth. It was the “Scooter’s” unmistakable, high-pitched voice that would be resounding throughout the steamy living room during those summers in the late 60’s when I first started following America’s pastime. Whether it was his trademark “Holy Cow!” (which, at times, […]

Bullpen Barbie Dolls

June 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Washington Nationals pitching staff reminds me eerily of my daughters’ doll collections when they were very young.  They were lucky enough to have a collection of American Girl dolls.  Each one had a special place of reverence in their bedroom. Those were the starters. American Girl dolls came with distinctive names and back stories. […]

Fun Facts About Inside-the-Park Home Runs

June 8, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

One of the most exciting plays in baseball is the inside-the-park home run. The ITPHR is a rare event in today’s game due, primarily due to smaller field dimensions. It can involve a diving attempt at a fly ball that comes up just short, a collision between fielders, a ball that ricochets off the fence […]

Old Dogs and New Tricks in DC

June 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The season flies past like a train gathering speed as it leaves the station. The cold spring days are a memory and the ball is starting to carry in the early summer heat. Mookie Betts and Cory Seager are etching their names into the list of young sluggers to be taken seriously, but in Washington […]

The Pirates Can Contend in 2016, but Only If…

May 30, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Pittsburgh Pirates, the team I chose as my favorite when I was a six-year old in 1979, have finally become a consistently good team these past few years. They’ve not been able to get to the World Series, and 2016 could be more of the same — since the National League has no shortage […]

Reviewing the Pete Rose Literature

May 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Pete Rose frequently said that he wrote more books than he read and that is probably true. He has had more major release books published than any baseball player of his era. With Cincinnati fans looking forward to the return of their prodigal son–for induction into the team’s Hall of Fame–this summer, I thought this […]

A-Hunting We Did Go

May 18, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

It was a cold, gray Saturday afternoon on the South Side, not a good day for a ballgame, and that was just as well because the White Sox were in New York. The game was being shown on the TVs scattered about the picnic area beneath the outfield of U.S. Cellular Field as Sox fans […]

The Strasburg Signing is a Twofer

May 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The recent road trip for the Washington Nationals is a microcosm of their season so far. They played ten games in three cities against teams that want to be in the playoff picture come late September. They won five and lost five, sweeping the Cardinals in St. Louis, beating the World Champion Royals in Kansas […]

Taking the Extra Base:  The Teams

May 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The following entry complements my preceding article, “Taking the Extra Base: The Players”. I will review my findings with respect to team baserunning outcomes. Inspired by the Texas Rangers chapter in the “Bill James Baseball Abstract 1984” entitled “Running The Bases” (pages 156-159), the following study uncovers the top base running teams in the past […]

Negro Leagues DB Update: 1940 NNL & NAL

April 25, 2016 by · 7 Comments 

After two years of relative stability, 1940 proved to be a difficult season for the Negro leagues, as the trickle of players defecting to Venezuela or (especially) Mexico became a flood. Many of black baseball’s biggest stars—Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Willard Brown, Leon Day—spent most or all of 1940 south of the border. Compounding […]

Knowing When You Have Reached the Promised Land

April 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

For forty years Washington Baseball wandered in the wilderness, maybe longer. Yet deliverance is upon us–the Washington Nationals have the best record in the early going of the 2016 season and the team as a whole is playing well. Are those who have suffered for so long ready for their own redemption? Rumors popped up in […]

Lazzari’s 2016 MLB Predictions

April 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Ahhh, yes, spring is in the air and it’s time for that annual crapshoot better known as baseball predictions. And if you ever come across a sportswriter/columnist who is EXTREMELY comfortable with his/her picks, then that scribe HASN’T been following the game long enough. Here’s how they MAY finish in 2016, my friends……… AL EAST […]

White Sox Opening Day: Snowflakes, Fistfights and Fault Lines

April 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Chicago White Sox opened the 2016 season by winning three-of-four in Oakland due to great pitching, timely hitting, smart defense and a suspect opponent. The Sox then came home to Chicago’s South Side and were greeted by a winter blast which they only made worse with a woeful performance. The Sox looked cold in […]

When Past is Prologue and When it Ain’t

April 4, 2016 by · 2 Comments 

Watching the ESPN opening night game between the Royals and Mets, the conversation was understandably about whether the two teams would make the post-season again in 2016. The Mets have a great rotation, a lousy bullpen, and a lineup that is better than the one they began 2015 with. But was the second half of […]

Negro Leagues DB Update: 1939 NNL & NAL

March 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

This week we’re adding further results of our collaboration with the Negro League Researchers and Authors Group (Larry Lester and Wayne Stivers) with the unveiling of the 1939 Negro league season. We’ve got both leagues, the Negro National League and Negro American League, plus the postseason series. This represents the first NAL season we’ve done […]

Taking the Extra Base:  The Players

March 16, 2016 by · 3 Comments 

Stimulated by the Texas Rangers chapter in the “Bill James Baseball Abstract 1984” entitled “Running The Bases” (pages 156-159), the following study reveals the top base runners in the past 85 seasons (1930-2015) with respect to taking the extra base on a clean single.* I will post a companion article in the near future to […]

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