October 2, 2023

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 […]

A Big Deal for the 1945 Cubs (And the Rest of Those Guys)

October 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Just before the trade deadline this year, on July 25, the Cubs traded with the Yankees for fireballing relief ace Aroldis Chapman. Their lead in the NL Central standings at the time was 7 games. The deal was forward-looking to the post-season. Nearly exactly 71 years before trading for Chapman, on July 27, 1945, the […]

The Last Time They Were There: Cubs’ Road to the 1945 World Series

October 16, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

The Chicago Cubs are one flight of dugout steps to the playing field of their first World Series in 71 years. The last time they were there, in 1945, the Second World War had ended less than two months before the October 3 start of the World Series. And major league baseball had just played […]

The Unforgivable Sin

December 18, 2015 by · 2 Comments 

Commissioner Manfred did not deliver Pete Rose the holiday gift he had hoped for. Rose is still officially banned from having any role in major league baseball, other than appearing at certain events. Although Manfred made clear there was a distinction between Major League Baseball and the Hall of Fame, for all intents and purposes […]

60 Years Ago (1955): Indians in Weak Command

September 13, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

When the Indians swept the Senators in a doubleheader on September 13, 1955, they took a two-game lead in the American League over the Yankees. With their record now at 90-55, they had played 145 games and had just 9 to go. The Yankees had 11 games remaining. The two teams would face off no […]

60 Years Ago (1955): Whitey Ford’s Back to Back One-Hitters

September 8, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

Whitey Ford won his 17th game of the 1955 season on September 7, allowing just one hit in beating the Kansas City Athletics, 2-1. It was his second consecutive start pitching a complete-game one-hitter. Five days before, Ford had defeated the Washington Senators, 4-2, giving up just one hit. In between, he pitched an inning-and-a-third […]

60 Years Ago (1955)–The Scooter’s Comeback

August 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Casey taketh away and Casey giveth back. On August 10, 1955, Stengel wrote Phil Rizzuto back into the Yankees’ line-up as the starting shortstop in the midst of a tight four-team race. It was 111 games down and 43 to go for the third-place Yankees who were one game behind the White Sox, half-a-game behind the Indians, and […]

Billy Pierce

August 3, 2015 by · 4 Comments 

Billy Pierce passed away on Friday. One of baseball’s premier pitchers in the 1950s, the southpaw Pierce, along with his teammate Minnie Minoso, was among those players from major league baseball’s “golden era” being considered for Cooperstown immortality last year by the Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee. Neither player, nor anyone else on the list […]

60 Years Ago–No Spahn Sighting in Brooklyn

The Milwaukee Braves pulled into Brooklyn on July 22 in second place for what would be a make-or-break-the-season four-game date with the Dodgers. Having played 92 games to a less-than-impressive 50-42 record for a second-place team, the Braves had only 62 to go and trailed by 13½. Anything less than winning three of four would likely […]

At the All-Star Break 60 Years Ago: Yankees Look Poised to Run Off With AL Flag

July 13, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

At the end of play on Sunday, July 10, 1955, when the major league baseball season adjourned for the annual All-Star Game, the pennant races in both leagues had a clear favorite to advance to the World Series. On the strength of their 22-2 start to take a 9½-game lead as early as May 10, the […]

Opening Day 60 Years Ago: Status Report on Integration—The American League

April 13, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Sixty year ago, when the 1955 season opened on April 11, there were 36 blacks on the opening day rosters of the sixteen major league teams, but only nine on five American League teams. This is the second of four articles on the status of integration in the major leagues nine long years into the […]

60 Years Ago, When the Wait for “Next Year” Finally Ended: 1955 Pre-Season Pennant Race Handicaps

March 28, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

“Wait Till Next Year.” Sixty years ago, that was the mantra at Ebbets Field because the Dodgers had lost every World Series they had been in—1916, 1920, 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, and 1953—not to mention having lost the first two playoffs ever for the National League pennant, in 1946 and 1951, and not being counted […]

Do Managers Make a Difference in One-Run Games?

March 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The argument for one-run games being a possible indicator of a manager’s skill and effectiveness in game-on-the-line circumstances is that these are the games where his decisions would have the most obvious impact, as suggested by several exciting games of the 2014 post-season mentioned in my previous article. The prevailing view among sabermetric analysts, however, is […]

Of Bagwell, Mize and McCovey

January 10, 2015 by · 2 Comments 

A subsidiary storyline from this year’s Hall of Fame balloting was which player who fell short might have been best positioned by the vote for election in 2016, when the ballot will include for the first time Ken Griffey, Jr. The answer is … Mike Piazza. But why not Jeff Bagwell–arguably the best first baseman […]

The Minnie Minoso Dossier

December 3, 2014 by · 3 Comments 

Minnie Minoso, who turned 89 on November 29, is being considered for the second time in recent years by the Veteran’s Committee for inclusion into baseball’s Hall of Fame. Although often remembered for the sideshow of playing three games as a designated hitter for the White Sox in 1976 at the age of 50 and pinch […]

Alvin Dark and the Persistence of Racial Stereotypes

November 20, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

It was inevitable that Alvin Dark obituaries after he passed away on November 13 would include the controversy provoked by a pair of Long Island (New York) Newsday columns in the midst of the 1964 pennant race in which, as manager of the competing San Francisco Giants, he was quoted as saying that “Negro and Spanish-speaking players […]

Nationals vs. Giants (1933)

October 3, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

The last time the Nationals and the Giants faced off in the post-season was in 1933. Of course, Washington was in the American League and playing in Griffith Stadium … the Giants were in New York playing at the Polo Grounds … they met in the World Series … and they were on opposite trajectories. […]

How Major League Owners Justified Opposition to Integration in 1946

September 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Sixty-eight years ago, even as Jackie Robinson was clearly demonstrating he belonged in the major leagues while playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in Montreal, major league owners marshaled the same argument expressed in an internal e-mail by the owner of the NBA Atlanta Hawks—that black fans at his arena were hurting his team’s bottom […]

The ’64 Phillies and the Whiz Kids Precedent: Beware the Big Mid-September Lead

September 2, 2014 by · 2 Comments 

The 1964 Philadelphia Phillies are, of course, famous for blowing a 6-1/2 game lead with only 12 games remaining. Fourteen years earlier, the 1950 Philadelphia Phillies–known as the “Whiz Kids” because of their relative youth and inexperience at the big league level–held an even bigger 7-1/2 game advantage with only 11 games remaining and wound […]

The Radio Guy and The Judge, Cookie and The Brat

August 16, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

We take for granted today that broadcasters on both radio and TV will dissect game situations, offer opinions on strategy, and feel free to second-guess managers and criticize players for mistakes–all of which helps to educate those of us listening at home (or in our cars) on the many nuances of a complex game. It […]

Charlie Dressen’s Worst Day at the Office (Part II): To Walk or Not to Walk Thomson, Was That Ever the Question?

August 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

What if, surely knowing that Bobby Thomson was not a good match-up for Ralph Branca, Dodger manager Charlie Dressen decided to walk him with first base open, putting the potential pennant-winning run on base, and have Branca take on Willie Mays instead? What factors might have led Dressen to make such a decision–the emphasis on […]

Charlie Dressen’s Worst Day at the Office (Part I): Explaining Why Branca and Not Erskine

August 5, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Managers are relentlessly criticized by us passionate fans for decisions made and not made in heartrending losses, but as knowledgeable as we fans like to believe we are, we do not know all the considered factors that go into those decisions. At this year’s annual SABR conference in Houston from July 30 to August 2, […]

The Offensive Efficiency Paradox of the Hitless (Punchless) Wonders

July 17, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Until their offensive rampage against the Yankees in their two games in the Bronx this week, the Mets had been struggling to score runs even when getting runners on base.  A major reason why: the second-lowest total bases in major league baseball.  Brings to mind the hidden reality of the team best known in history […]

50 Years Ago: The ’64 Phillies–Mauch Loved to Sacrifice

The ’64 Phillies passed the first real test as to their competitive mettle on the Fourth of July weekend by sweeping three straight from the Giants with first place at stake. Their one-run victory in the concluding game showcased Gene Mauch’s managerial proclivity to emphasize small ball tactics (sacrifice bunts, hit-and-run plays, productive outs) to […]

No Chance: ’39 Yankees and ’06 Cubs Dominated the Scoreboard

Through Sunday, the Oakland Athletics have scored an average of two runs more per game than their game opponents. With still over 60 percent of the schedule yet to be played, the A’s are very unlikely to sustain that pace. Should that happen, however, they would be in the close-in suburbs of the exclusive neighborhood […]

Back to the ’64 Phillies: Pitching Problems on the Horizon

Fifty years ago, the 1964 Phillies ended the month of May with a 25-15 record. They were in first place, only half-a-game up on the Giants and 2-1/2 ahead of the third-place Cardinals. The Reds–the fourth team to figure in the drama to come–were in sixth, 6 games out. As predicted by many pre-season analysts, […]

Catching Up With the ’64 Phillies: Mauch the Platoonmeister

Fifty years ago, at the end of play on May 1st, the Philadelphia Phillies had gotten off to a 10-2 start and were two games up on the competition.  (San Francisco was second, St. Louis third, half a game behind the Giants, and Cincinnati–off to a 7-7 start and having just lost a two-game set […]

Derek Jeter in Shortstop Perspective

February 23, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

When Derek Jeter retires at the end of the 2014 season, he will do so as the most respected player in the last twenty years, not to mention the model of baseball professionalism and a proven winner. Pending the Yankees’ outcome in 2014, Jeter has played in the post-season every year of his major league […]

Radio Games

January 21, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

The bitter cold in the dead of winter in most parts of major league baseball’s North American empire brings to mind how nice it would be to cozy in and listen to a game on the radio. Cold winter nights are a time to gather around and embrace stories, after all, and every baseball game […]

The Greg Maddux Anomaly, Part II: Maddux at His Best–NL’s Best Pitcher in the 20th Century

December 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Notwithstanding his recognized place as one of the greatest pitchers in history, Greg Maddux is not a name one normally associates with being one of the most dominant pitchers in history.  This Baseball Historical Insight makes a case, however, (which I acknowledge is likely a minority viewpoint) for Maddux when he was at his best […]

The Greg Maddux Anomaly, Part I: Not a K-Man, But Dominant Nonetheless

November 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Greg Maddux, in his first year of eligibility, is among the headliners on the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot.  Even among Hall of Fame pitchers, there are very few whose dominance on the mound is so vastly superior to the average pitcher every year for at least five years running that they count as epic. […]

Multi-Position Regulars

November 14, 2013 by · 3 Comments 

With Miguel Cabrera having won his second consecutive MVP and finishing in the top 5 the three years before that, it is worth pondering, at what position should he take up residence as one of MLB’s all-time greats, his having shifted from third to first and back again in his career.  This Baseball Historical Insight […]

Counterintuitively Successful: Boston’s ‘Teen Years–The 1912-18 Red Sox

November 5, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

Our 2013 World Series champion Boston Red Sox have been described as a team that came out the best in the major leagues with more a workman-like, rather than a star-studded, line-up (notwithstanding Big Papi and Dustin Pedroia), almost as though they overachieved for the talent they had–especially after having lost 93 games last year. […]