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This was the anniversary of the final big league game from César Gerónimo in 1983. He’s always included as part of the awesome Big Red Machine lineup of the 1970s, but I’ve never thought he belonged in the photo for any year besides 1976. That year, he batted .307/.382/.414, a 125 OPS+, and was worthy of the other players in the lineup. It was the only year of his career when he managed even 2.0 offensive WAR. Otherwise, he was in the lineup for his glove, with his bat mostly being carried by everyone else. It just always struck me that whatever part of the machine Geronimo was, it wasn’t the “big” part.
I wrote this piece about Kauffman Stadium, which the Royals would very much like to replace, despite having provided no financial data that would prove they need it. They also haven’t provided any assurances that whatever added revenue the park would bring would be spent to make the team better. And the team currently stinks. Overall, not a great way to go ask folks for a billion dollars.
This was the anniversary of George Brett stealing his 200th career base in 1993, at a time in his career when he was wearing a giant brace on his right knee to keep playing.
Did you know that in a 21-year career, Brett only managed to play in 150 or more games five times? He was constantly dinged up, missing dozens of games most years because he threw his body around the field with no regard for his own health. For him to reach the 200-steal milestone, not to mention having over 100 career triples, is pretty astounding. We tend to remember him as just a pure hitter because of that attempt to hit .400 in 1980 and his three batting titles, but Brett’s career was really built on hard work, hustle, and reckless abandon.
I looked at the best player from each decade in an attempt to remind some folks on Twitter that pitchers count as players, and that the Negro Leagues existed. I don’t think people are being malicious in excluding Black stars from those leagues, I think it just comes down to being so used to comparing players based on statistics and we simply don’t have full statistical records for players in the Negro Leagues. It takes some work to do side-by-side comparisons, and it involved projections, and lots of people aren’t comfortable doing that, so they just don’t.
This would have been Ted Williams’ 105th birthday. In celebration of that, let’s consider what his career would have looked like if it hadn’t been interrupted by military service twice.
If we took the years Williams missed during World War II and again during the Korean War, and gave him the average totals he had in the two years before and after each of those wars, here is what his career totals would be (all-time ranks in parentheses):
2,924 Games (16th), 2,367 Runs (1st), 3,420 Hits (T-8th), 675 Doubles (6th), 672 Home Runs (6th), 2,370 RBI (1st), 2,684 Walks (1st), 885 Strikeouts (T-498th), 6,297 Total Bases (2nd), 152.6 WAR (6th), and a batting line of .345/.486/.636.
So, yeah. I particularly like the part where he’d have the most walks in history, but would be tied for just 498th in strikeouts with Omar Moreno.
This week’s installment of Bad Decisions was focused on the terrible decision to deny Alan Trammell the 1987 American League MVP award. It was so terrible because you didn’t need to have advanced analytics or anything else to see that Trammell was better than actual winner George Bell. When the BBWAA can’t award the better player, with the better story, on the better team, it really makes you wonder why they are the group that does the voting in the first place.
A great day of anniversaries for some players with awesome nicknames. “Gettysburg Eddie” Plank, Sal “The Barber” Maglie, “Tom Terrific” Seaver, and so on. We don’t see such wonderful nicknames anymore, do we? I don’t want to become the next Chris Berman, slapping silly pop-culture-based monikers on guys just to amuse myself, but I do think we’re missing some of the character baseball could have. I demand more Billy “Country Breakfast” Butlers!
It’s arguable the the pitch that hit Tony Conigliaro in the face on August 18, 1967, ended what would have been a Hall of Fame career. I’m not sure that’s true, but it’s clear that it altered Conigliaro’s life in a variety of painful ways. He suffered vision problems and headaches for the rest of his life. I don’t think we spend enough time recognizing the long-term physical costs some players pay in order for us to enjoy the sports that we follow.
This is the anniversary of Bart Giamatti’s death. Just eight days after handing down a lifetime suspension to Pete Rose for betting on baseball, Giamatti suffered a massive heart attack while at his vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard.
Whether or not the stress of the Rose gambling situation added to Giamatti’s health issues can never be known. Obviously it didn’t help, but Giamatti was a heavy smoker who may have died young anyway.
Regardless, let’s never forget Pete Rose’s response when that issue was raised with him. He, of course, made it about himself. "Who went through more stress than I did in 1989?" He went on to question Giamatti’s health and intelligence. "Bart Giamatti was one of the smartest guys around. But how smart could you be if you're 70 pounds overweight and smoke five packs of cigarettes a day? He was a walking time bomb."
Please keep Rose’s heartless self-pitying in mind the next time someone suggests he’s worthy of being reinstated and elected to the Hall of Fame.
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