Results tagged ‘ Willie McCovey ’
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America will decide whether Curtis Granderson is the American League Most Valuable Player or not, but Yankees fans can have a big say about whether the center fielder should win the Hank Aaron Award as the AL’s top offensive player.
Granderson is the Yankees’ nominee for the award that was established in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s career home run record, a mark that now belongs to Barry Bonds. Log on to Yankees.com or MLB.com to register your vote.
For the second consecutive year, a special panel of Hall of Fame players led by Aaron himself will join fans in voting for the award. Aaron added new Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar and another all-time great second baseman, Joe Morgan, to this year’s panel to join holdovers Tony Gwynn, Paul Molitor, Willie McCovey, Billy Williams and Robin Yount.
Granderson had a spectacular year for the Yankees, batting .262 and becoming the first player in major league history to get at least 40 home runs, 10 triples and 25 stolen bases in the same year. Curtis led the majors in runs (136), ranked second in home runs (41) and extra base hits (81) and third in RBI (119) and total bases (332). He was the first player this season to get to 100 runs and 100 RBI and did so in his first 126 games.
Yankees players who previously won the Hank Aaron Award were Derek Jeter in 2006 and 2009 and Alex Rodriguez in 2007. A-Rod also won two twice when he was with the Rangers, in 2001 and 2003. Andruw Jones, currently with the Yankees, was the National League winner in 2005 when he was with the Braves.
Winners of the 2011 Hank Aaron Award will be announced during the World Series. It would be terrific if Curtis could pick up the award while the Yanks were in the Series. It’s up to you, fans.
It doesn’t take long for the guys and girls at Baseball.Reference.com, a sensational web site, to dig up history related to a contemporary event. Less than 10 hours after Yankees rookie Kevin Whelan had walked four batters in two-thirds of an inning Friday night against the Indians, Steve Lombardi had posted a list of 12 pitchers since 1919 who had pitched two-thirds of an innings or less and walked four batters in their big-league debuts.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi tried to comfort his young pitcher Friday night when he removed him from the game, smiling at Whelan as he took the ball and saying, “Hey, we have all gone through this.” He meant fighting the heart-pounding that comes with playing in the majors for the first time.
Whelan might also be comforted with knowing that the list included several pitchers who went on to some success in the major leagues. In fact, Friday marked the 67th anniversary of the first game pitched by the youngest player to appear in a big-league game. Lefthander Joe Nuxhall gave up six runs on two hits and five walks June 10, 1944 for the Reds against the Cardinals in an 18-0 Cincinnati loss.
It was understandable, considering Nuxhall was only 15 years old at the time. His appearance was among the oddities during the World War II years when rosters were depleted because of military service. Nuxhall returned to the majors in 1952 and had a 135-117 record over a 16-season career before becoming a fixture behind the microphone as a long-time broadcaster of Reds games.
The only other Yankees pitcher on the list was Karl Drews, who gave up six runs on two hits and four walks in the second game of a doubleheader Sept. 8, 1946 in a 9-8 loss to the Washington Senators. His contract was sold to the St. Louis Browns during the 1948 season. The righthander from Staten Island went on to pitch also for the Phillies and Reds and compiled a 44-53 record in eight seasons.
The best pitcher of the lot was Fred Hutchinson, who broke in with the Tigers May 2, 1939 and was clocked for eight runs, five hits and four walks in a 22-2 shelling by the Yankees. “Hutch” lost five seasons to military duty during WW II but returned to post a 95-71 record and 3.73 ERA in 10 big-league seasons, all with Detroit.
He later became a manager, notably with the Reds, and was their skipper when Cincinnati lost the 1961 World Series in five games to the Yankees. Hutchinson was diagnosed with cancer during the 1964 season but continued to manage the team. He died after that season at the age of 45.
The Hutch Award has been presented annually since 1965 to a player who has embodied the spirit and determination of Hutchinson as a fund raiser for cancer research. The first recipient was Mickey Mantle. Other former Yankees honored have been Tommy John, David Cone, Jim Abbott, Jason Giambi and manager Joe Torre. In addition to the Mick, other Hall of Famers who have been recipients were Sandy Koufax, Carl Yastrzemski, Al Kaline, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, George Brett, Johnny Bench, Paul Molitor and Andre Dawson.
It turned out that the Yankees did not trade a future American League Rookie of the Year Award winner to get Curtis Granderson from the Tigers 11 months ago.
Austin Jackson, a highly-touted prospect in the Yankees’ system, went to Detroit along with relief pitcher Phil Coke in the three-team trade also involving the Diamondbacks Dec. 8, 2009 that brought Granderson to the Bronx and included sending pitcher Ian Kennedy to Arizona.
When Jackson got off to a smoking start for the Tigers as their center fielder and leadoff hitter, Rookie of the Year talk surrounded him for much of the first half. Jackson tailed off somewhat in the second half, although he still had a fine year. It just was not as good as that of Rangers closer Neftali Feliz, who set a rookie record with 40 saves and was the choice of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America for the Jackie Robinson Award that was announced Monday.
Felix, 22, was listed first on 20 of the 28 ballots submitted by two writers in each league city, second on seven and third on one to amass 122 points, based on the 5-3-1 tabulation system. Feliz’s saves total broke the previous rookie mark of 37 by 2000 winner Kazuhiro Sasaki of the Mariners.
Feliz, who had a 4-3 record with a 2.73 ERA in 70 relief appearances, is the first Dominican pitcher to win the award and the third winner from the Dominican Republic overall, joining Alfredo Griffin and Angel Berroa. Dominican-born winners in the National League were Raul Mondesi, Rafael Furcal, Albert Pujols and Hanley Ramirez.
A closer has won the AL award three times in the past six years. Oakland’s Andrew Bailey won in 2009 and Huston Street in 2005. Feliz is the fifth closer honored. The first was the Orioles’ Gregg Olson in 1989. Yankees pitcher Dave Righetti, now the Giants’ pitching coach, was a starter when he won the award in 1981. Feliz is the second Rangers player to win the award. The other was first baseman Mike Hargrove in 1974.
Jackson, who received the other eight first-place votes and was the runner-up in the balloting with 98 points, led all AL rookies in runs (103), hits (151), doubles (34), triples (10), extra-base hits (48), stolen bases (27) and total bases (247). Jackson batted .293, stole 27 bases and scored 103 runs, but he struck out 170 times, a very high total for a player who hit only four home runs.
In the National League, Giants catcher Buster Posey beat out Braves right fielder Jason Heyward for the award. Posey, 23, was named first on 20 of the 32 ballots cast by two writers in each league city, second on nine and third on two to finish with 129 points. Posey hit .305 with 18 home runs and 67 RBI and handled a pitching staff that helped the Giants win the NL West title. His 21-game hitting streak from July 4-28 was the longest of the season by a rookie in either league.
Heyward (.273, 18 HR, 72 RBI) received nine first-place votes and was the runner-up with 107 points. Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia (13-8, 2.70 ERA) got one first-place vote and placed third with 24 points. The other two first-place votes went to Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez (.273, 19 HR, 85 RBI), who finished fourth with 18 points.
Posey was the sixth NL catcher honored, joining Johnny Bench, Earl Williams, Benito Santiago, Mike Piazza and Geovanny Soto. Catchers who won the award in the AL were Thurman Munson, Carlton Fisk and Sandy Alomar Jr. Other former Giants winners were Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, Gary Matthews and John Montefusco.
The victories by Feliz and Posey marked the third time since the award’s inception in 1947 that the winners were opponents in the World Series. The other years were 1981 when Righetti and the Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela started Game 3 at Dodger Stadium and 1951 when Mays and Yankees infielder Gil McDougald played in all six games of the Series.
It should have happened in 2003 with the Yankees’ Hideki Matsui and the Marlins’ Dontrelle Willis, but Matsui lost out to Berroa in a disputed election.
Did Cliff Lee hurt his bargaining power with his two losses in the World Series? Although he pitched brilliantly for six innings Monday night, the three-run home run Lee allowed to Edgar Renteria in the seventh essentially lost the World Series for the Rangers, who will have to dig deep into their pockets, which aren’t exactly Texas size, to retain the lefthander bound for free agency.
The Yankees haven’t made any secret of their interest in Lee, who beat them twice in the 2009 World Series and again in Game 3 of this year’s American League Championship Series. General manager Brian Cashman tried to trade for Lee in July and almost had a deal in place before the Rangers swooped in and grabbed him from Seattle.
Lee was not exactly lights out for Texas during the regular season (4-6, 3.98 ERA) after a terrific start with the Mariners (8-3, 2.34 ERA). That’s a combined record of 12-9 with a 3.18 ERA, which is not all that imposing. Lee is looking for CC Sabathia-type money, but those statistics aren’t CC Sabathia-type numbers.
Speaking of numbers, Lee went from 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in the 2009 World Series to 0-2 with a 6.94 ERA in the 2010 World Series. Now I’m not forgetting his two victories over the Rays on the road in the Division Series or his Game 3 gem against the Yankees in the ALCS, also on the road. In fact, Lee did not lose on the road or win in Texas in the post-season, so maybe Rangers Ballpark In Arlington is not the place for him.
One thing the Yankees have to be careful about is how they look at a pitcher who has been successful against them (9-4, 3.81 ERA, including post-season play). Not to pick on A.J. Burnett, but his attractiveness to the Yankees two off-seasons ago was based a lot on how he pitched against them. The problem is that if a player goes to his “cousin,” then he doesn’t have that “cousin” anymore.
Don’t get the idea that I’m ranking on Lee. He would be a great addition to the Yankees. I’m just saying his price tag may have to be re-arranged a bit.
For old-time Giants fans, the ones still sore at their leaving the Polo Grounds for San Francisco in 1958, you will have to admit that the Curse of Coogan’s Bluff is over now that the Giants have their first championship in the Bay Area. The 1962 Giants of Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal couldn’t do it. The 1989 Giants of Will Clark, Kevin Mitchell and Matt Williams couldn’t do it. The 2002 Giants of Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent and Robb Nen couldn’t do it. Managers as talented as Alvin Dark, Roger Craig and Dusty Baker couldn’t do it.
It came down to the Bruce Bochy-directed Giants of Renteria, Juan Uribe, Aubrey Huff and Cody Ross, plus a string of excellent young pitchers Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, plus an exceptional rookie catcher Buster Posey, plus a paint-it-black bearded closer Brian Wilson, not to be confused with the Beach Boy.
Lincecum outpitched Lee in Game 5, which was also characterized by Bochy out-managing Ron Washington. In the sixth inning, Mitch Moreland led off with a single for the Rangers in what was then a scoreless game. Instead of playing for one run against the overpowering Lincecum, Washington eschewed the sacrifice and had Elvis Andrus swing away on a hit-and-run play, but he lined out to center and Moreland had to scurry back to first base. Again, no bunt with one out, and Michael Young flied out to center as well.
In the seventh, when the Giants put their first two runners on with singles by Ross and Uribe on two-strike pitches, Bochy ordered the bunt from Huff, who did not have a sacrifice in a 13-season career. A pro, Huff got the ball down and put the runners in scoring position. Lee got the second out by punching out Pat Burrell, who had a brutal Series (0-for13, 11 strikeouts).
Again, Washington blundered by not ordering Renteria walked intentionally and let Lee go after Aaron Rowand. Lee appeared to be pitching around Renteria, but why take the risk of a pitch going awry, such as the 2-0 cutter that the Giants shortstop clubbed for a three-run homer? Never mind that Lee didn’t want to walk Renteria; who’s running the club, the pitcher of the manager?
It was the second game-winning hit in a World Series clinching game for Renteria, who won the 1997 Series for the Marlins against the Indians with an 11th-inning single. Only two other players have done that in Series history, both Yankees – Lou Gehrig (Game 4 in 1928 against the Cardinals and Game 6 in 1936 against the Giants) and Yogi Berra (Game 4 in 1950 against the Phillies and Game 7 in 1956 against the Dodgers). Joe DiMaggio also had two game-winning RBI in Series clinching games (Game 4 in 1939 against the Reds and Game 5 in 1949 against the Dodgers), but the latter was not on a hit but a sacrifice fly.
Renteria’s were far more dramatic than the others because in each case the hits broke ties from the seventh inning on. The Giants simply shut down the Rangers after Texas got back into the Series by winning Game 3. The Rangers scored one run (on Nelson Cruz’s seventh inning solo homer off Lincecum) in the last 21 innings and did not get a single runner in scoring position in Game 5.
It was hard to believe this was the same team that had, in Cashman’s word, “manhandled” the Yankees.
There were reminisces aplenty about Tuesday’s 50th anniversary of Ted Williams’ final at-bat in the major leagues in which he hit a home run, career No. 521, which at the time was the third highest total in history behind only Babe Ruth (714) and Jimmie Foxx (534). A lot has changed in half a century. Teddy Ballgame now stands in a three-way tie with Willie McCovey and Frank Thomas for 18th place, and Barry Bonds (762) and Hank Aaron (755) have long since passed the Babe.
As for what Williams did his last time up in the big leagues, thousands of words have been written about the grand style in which he ended his career by lofting one into the right field seats at Fenway Park. That is all well and good, but for me that is just the usual batch of Red Sox Nation tripe.
I have a personal beef about the whole matter from the mindset of a pre-teen who got stood up by the guy they called the “Splendid Splinter.” He wasn’t much of a splinter by then, nor at 42 did he fit his other nickname, “The Kid,” and from my point of view he damn sure wasn’t splendid.
Here’s why. Do you know what little piece of information all those Boston boors leave out of their Teddy’s last at-bat stories? How about this: nobody in the yard knew it was Williams’ last at-bat until after the game. That’s right. The Red Sox still had three more games to play, at Yankee Stadium, but after the game Williams told the writers that he wasn’t going to New York. The Yankees had already clinched the American League pennant, the Red Sox had been dead meat for a month, so there was no point in his making the trip.
Now doesn’t take a bit of the bite out of that story. I mean, it would have rung truer if he had told the press before the game that he wasn’t playing any more. To Red Sox fans, this was the perfect ending to a Hall of Fame career by admittedly one of the game’s greatest hitters. But to Yankees fans holding tickets to games that weekend, it was a big gyp. The only allure of the series was to see Williams bow out, not watch Carroll Hardy in left field.
My uncle, Bill Gallagher, had gotten tickets for the Friday night game Sept. 30, 1960, and we talked about Williams on the ride to the Stadium. I was really into baseball in those days and was amazed at how vital the two great aging stars of that time, Williams and Stan Musial, still were. Musial, in fact, would play three more seasons, and I would get to see him three home runs in one game at the Polo Grounds in 1963 when he was 42.
God bless Casey Stengel, then in his last year as manager of the Yankees. Although the Yankees were already set for the World Series, ‘ol Case started his regular lineup. Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and the rest. The Red Sox? No Ted Williams. What?
Unlike today’s 24/7 media whirlwind, information from out of town came slowly in those days. A man sitting in the seat next to Uncle Bill said that he heard that Williams decided not to accompany the team to town. Truth be told, I had not been much of a Yankees fan to that point in my life, but I cheered my head off for them that night. To make matters worse, the Red Sox almost won the game.
What follows comes from my old, pencil-scribbled scorecard, boys and girls (I still score in pencil).
Bill Monbouquette, a wonderful guy whom I would get to know more than 20 years later when he was the pitching coach for the Mets, was Boston’s best pitcher and took a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth, but he was replaced by lefthander Tom Brewer after Bobby Richardson led off with a single. Brewer gave up a single to Gil McDougald, and the Yankees had a rally going.
Tony Kubek, another terrific person I would get to know years later, flied out, but Hector Lopez and Maris followed with singles to tie the score and put runners on first and third. Mantle had come out of the game earlier, and his spot in the lineup was taken by Bob Cerv, the thickly-built, right-handed hitter.
Boston manager Pinky Higgins brought in a right-handed pitcher I had never heard of, but a year later he would almost be a household name – Tracy Stallard, the guy who gave up Maris’ 61st home run. On this night, Stallard would be done in by his second baseman, a September callup named Marlan Coughtry. Thanks to him, I learned something important about the game – the need to remain calm in a crisis.
Cerv hit a grounder to Coughtry, who considering Cerv’s lack of speed should have thrown to second base to start a double play. Instead, he decided to tag Maris in the base path and then throw to first. Maris, who never got enough credit for being a heads-up player, put on the brakes and went into reverse. Coughtry took the bait. Lopez broke for the plate. The rookie tagged Maris eventually for the second out but in hesitating lost any chance to get the third out as Lopez scored the winning run.
Talk about a satisfying finish! It made me forget all about Ted Williams, who insulted baseball fans in New York so that he could have all his Beantown acolytes wax poetic about his going deep in his last big-league plate appearance.