erik lundegaard

Baseball posts

Monday October 01, 2018

Who's Due? Anybody but the Yankees

This isn't exactly shocking, but of the five remaining teams vying to win the AL pennant this season, the Yankees have won more World Series titles than the other four combined: 27-20. This despite the fact that the AL teams with the second- and third-most titles (A's and BoSox, respectively) are still in the mix. 

TEAM World Series Titles How Often Pennants How Often Last Went Last Won
Yankees 27 4.1 40 2.8 2009 2009
Athletics 9 12.5 14 8.1 1990 1989
Red Sox 8 14.1 12 9.4 2013 2013
Indians 2 56.5 6 18.8 2016 1948
Astros 1 55.0 2 27.5 2017 2017

(For those who could guess that the A's had the second-most titles in the AL, take a bow. That's actually a good trivia question. Feel free to use it.)

(And for those who care, the Tigers are the fourth-most successful AL team in this regard—with four titles. Then it goes: Orioles, Twins and White Sox with three each; Indians, Royals and Blue Jays with two each; Angels and Astros with one. Bringing up the rear, with bupkis, is the Rangers, Rays, and our Seattle Mariners.)

Anyway, looking at the above, you could make an argument that the Yankees are in fact due. Throughout their history, they‘ve averaged a pennant every 2.8 years and a title every 4.1 years, and they haven’t gotten either in eight whole years. Poor Bronx. Poor fans. They‘re used to crushing and they haven’t crushed in so, so long they‘ve almost forgotten what it’s like. But, of course, no, they‘re the last team I’d root for. If they went through 50 years of bottom-dwelling pain they'd still be the last team I'd root for. Riffing off Joe E. Lewis, rooting for the New York Yankees is like rooting for white people. They don't need help.

BoSox? They were the best team in baseball during the regular season, and I kinda like seeing such teams make it to the World Series. Plus a BoSox victory would sting Yankee fans the most. Astros won just last year but they‘re fun, and they’ve only won once in 55 years, and no non-Yankee team has gone back-to-back since the ‘92-’93 Jays. Indians? Look at that painful history. They‘re so, so due. A’s, meanwhile, have the lowest payroll in baseball. How can you not root for that? 

As for the NL? The historically most victorious team there, the St. Louis Cardinals, with 11 rings, were eliminated last week. This is our lineup:

TEAM World Series Titles How Often Pennants How Often Last Went Last Won
Dodgers 6 18.83 20 5.65 2017 1988
Cubs 3 37.67 11 10.27 2016 2016
Braves 3 37.67 9 12.56 1999 1995
Rockies 0 n/a 1 19 2007 n/a
Brewers 0 n/a 1 48 1982 n/a

In a way, all those teams are due. Not a lot of winning in that group. But few teams are due like the Brewers are due. Call it the Curse of the Pilots. Or the Curse of Bud Selig. Shouldn't have moved the team, Bud! Shouldn't have moved the team.

You often don't know who to root for until you start watching, and, as of now, I still have nine possibilities. But I am partial to teams with Lorenzo Cain on them

Here's to October baseball. 

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Posted at 11:06 AM on Oct 01, 2018 in category Baseball   |   Permalink  
Saturday September 22, 2018

Alas

ESPN's David Schoenfield has a nice piece on the top 10 stories in baseball this year, beginning with Shohei Ohtani (couldn't agree more), continuing through the remarkable rookie years of Ronald Acuna and Juan Soto (fun), and the second-half surges of the A's and Rays (yep), and ending, sadly, with this:

July 3
The Mariners were 55-31, a half-game out of first place and eight games ahead of the A's for the second wild card. The team with the longest playoff drought—that's 2001 for you non-Mariners fans—was playing over its head, but certainly appeared headed for a postseason trip. Alas, there was more season to play. To my fellow Mariners fans: Next year, my friends.

Indeed, there are only four teams who haven't made the postseason this decade:

  • White Sox: last went 2008
  • Padres: 2006
  • Marlins: 2003
  • Mariners: 2001

The M's have had the title since the Blue Jays made it back to the postseason in 2015. We‘re now part of a long tradition of ineptitude. 

TEAM W/ LONGEST POSTSEASON DROUGHT   PERIOD   YRS
St. Louis Browns 1903-1944 41
Boston Braves 1914-1948 34
Philadelphia Phillies 1915-1950 35
Chicago White Sox 1919-1959 40
Pittsburgh Pirates 1928-1960 32
Phil/KC/Oak Athletics 1931-1971 40
Chicago Cubs 1945-1984 39
Cleveland Indians 1954-1995 41
Texas Rangers 1961-1996 35
Mon. Expos/Wash. Nats 1981-2012 31
Kansas City Royals 1985-2014 29
Toronto Blue Jays 1993-2015 22
Seattle Mariners 2001-? 17

What’s the phrase? Wait till next year. 

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Posted at 05:21 AM on Sep 22, 2018 in category Baseball   |   Permalink  
Wednesday August 15, 2018

‘One of the Best Things We’ll See All Year'

“In baseball's odd parlance, we say that Laureano has a hose on him. In less euphemistic terms, we dub that a cannon. Either way, it's an absurd throw—321 feet on the fly, perfectly on target, dumbfounding everyone involved. It's not just the best thing you or I or anyone else saw this week; it's one of the best things we‘ll see all year. It makes you want to rush home and tell your friends.”

SI’s Jon Tayler on rookie Ramon Laureano's throw from center field that doubled up Eric Young Saturday night. I like the little cap tip Young gives him afterward. I assumed Laureano had been up all year and I just hadn't heard of him but it's only his fifth game in the Majors. No matter. We'll be talking about it for years. 

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Posted at 02:27 AM on Aug 15, 2018 in category Baseball   |   Permalink  
Tuesday May 15, 2018

Frank Quilici (1939-2018)

Frank Quilici, Met Stadium, 1970

Frank Quilici and my brother Chris on Camera Day, 1970.

When I was a kid, and time went slowly, second baseman Frank Quilici seemed a mainstay on the Minnesota Twins. If you'd asked me last week how long he'd played for them, I would‘ve guessed seven years. Something like ’67 to ‘73. Maybe longer. 

Nope. He was a semi-regular for only three seasons: ’68-‘70. His last game was the third game of the 1970 ALCS—a few months after the above photo was taken. The Orioles, who had swept the Twins in the ALCS the previous year, were already up two games to none, and were beating my boys soundly 5-1 in the top of the sixth when Rich Reese drew a two-out walk against starter Jim Palmer. Twins manager Bill Rigney, hoping to get something going, subbed in former star Bob Allison for light-hitting second baseman Danny Thompson. Allison popped to short. Now Rigney needed a new second baseman, so Quilici came in. (Why not Rod Carew? He had been injured halfway through the ’70 season and was used only twice in the ALCS—both times as a pinch-hitter.) Later, when it was Quilici's turn at bat, in the top of the ninth with one out and Rich Reese again on first, Rigney brought in Danny Alyea as a pinch-hitter. He struck out. Then another pinch-hitter, Rick Renick, grounded out and there went the season.

That was Quilici's last appearance as a player on a Major League field: as a defensive sub who was subbed for a pinch-hitter. 

I also assumed Quilici was fairly solid but his career numbers are as follows: .214/.281/.287 hitter. That's why he only lasted parts of three seasons. But I have fond memories. The above photo was taken on Camera Day, 1970, at Met Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota. The kid with him is my older brother, Chris, who was wearing a Camp Kichi Yapi t-shirt. Apparently Quilici's son went there? That's in my head anyway. They spoke, and it led to this great photo.

Two years later, in the summer of ‘72, I was at a different camp, Cathedral of the Pines, when I heard Quilici was replacing Bill Rigney as the Twins manager. That made me happy. Rigney was grumpy-looking and at the helm when the Twins began their downhill slide, so I blamed him. I thought Quilici would turn things around. He didn’t. In 3+ years, the Twins went 280-287 under his leadership. That's actually not bad, considering the core of our team was dropping like flies: Killebrew old, Tony-O injured, Tovar traded. Only Rodney Cline kept coming through. 

After Quilici was replaced by Gene Mauch, he became a broadcaster for a time. Here's his obit in the Star-Tribune. Strib sportswriter Patrick Reusse has a good remembrance, too

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Posted at 01:55 PM on May 15, 2018 in category Baseball   |   Permalink  
Saturday May 05, 2018

3,000 for Albert

Albert Pujols 3,000 hits

32nd to 3,000

I'm an idiot. I'm such an idiot I deserve the Peter Lorre treatment

Thursday night I knew Albert Pujols was sitting on 2,999 hits but I didn't know where the Angels were heading for their next series. I didn't even bother to check. I found out last night around 7:15. They, and he, were in Seattle, at Safeco Field, 1.5 miles from my home—from where I was sitting. It was the bottom of the 1st inning and Albert had ended the top of the 1st with a lineout to short. 

This isn't why I'm an idiot, by the way. It's what I did next. I didn't rush to Safeco Field. Instead I headed to my local watering hole a few blocks away to watch the game on TV.

In baseball history, 31 players have reached 3,000 hits, and Albert, King Albert, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, was about to be the 32nd. A rare event. And there I sat at the bar slowly realizing I'd gone in the wrong direction. True, I'd never seen someone get their 3,000th hit live on TV, either. But live at the game? I doubt I'd ever been in a city where that had happened. And today I had that chance. And I was blowing it. 

That's why I began to root against him. Isn't that awful? I hoped he would go oh-fer so I could go to the next game, today's game, with the chance to see baseball history made. Instead, in the top of the 5th, his third time at bat, Albert made baseball history: He lined a 1-0 pitch to the opposite field for No. 3,000. Most people at the bar weren't paying attention, but I applauded, even as, in my head, Peter Lorre cursed me out.

For a rare baseball event, 3,000 hits has been happening a lot lately. This is the fourth year in a row a player has reached that plateau. How often has that happened? Four years in a row? It's never happened. The previous record was three years in a row, 1999-2001, although four guys did it in that span: Gwynn, Boggs, Ripken, Henderson. 

Put it this way: There was once a 28-year stretch—between Paul Waner in 1942 and Hank Aaron in 1970—when only one guy joined the club: Stan Musial in 1958. The entire decade of the 1980s also saw only one guy enter: Rod Carew, smack dab in the middle, 1985. He's also the midpoint for 3,000 hits. He was 16th to do it and 16 guys have done it since.  

As for the players in the recent stretch? They have a few things in common: their first initials are vowels; together, they‘ve hit for the cycle in reverse order (HR, 3B, 2B, 1B); and there’s the Mariners factor:

YEAR PLAYER HIT MARINERS FACTOR
2015 Alex Rodriguez HR  Ex
2016 Ichiro Suzuki 3B Ex
2017 Adrian Beltre 2B Ex
2018 Albert Pujols 1B Against

It's almost as if the gods let Albert get No. 3,000 here in Seattle as a way of making up for the fact that the previous three were all ex-Mariners but didn't reach the mark as Mariners. It was a sop thrown to us. And I missed it. I missed the sop. 

ESPN has a good statistical breakdown of Albert's achievements. (He hit nearly .500 against Randy? Wow.) Other side, Jay Jaffe over at fangraphs reminds us most guys crawl rather than romp to 3,000.

Will there be five such players five years in a row? Unlikely. Next on the list is Miguel Cabrera with 2,666. He began the season needing 364 and he hasn't accumulated that many hits two years in a row since 2013-14. He's also on the DL again. 

Next in line? Robinson Cano with 2,409. He's signed with the M's for another 5+ years. So maybe I'll get another shot to see No. 3,000 around in, say, 2021. 

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Posted at 10:20 AM on May 05, 2018 in category Baseball   |   Permalink  
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