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Orioles Broadcaster Geoff Arnold Ranks the Best of the East

Geoff Arnold knows the East. Not only do the Baltimore Orioles, the team he serves as a play-by-play announcer for, compete in the American League East, their inter-league schedule this year is solely comprised of the National League East. As a result, Arnold has been getting regular looks at two of the game’s most intriguing divisions. Surprises, both pleasant and not so pleasant, are present in both.

How would Arnold rank the teams and players he’s seen this season? That was the crux of a conversation I had with the radio (and sometimes TV) voice of the Orioles prior to last night’s game.

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David Laurila: Which is the best team you’ve seen this year?

Geoff Arnold: “The best team I’ve seen this year is probably the Tampa Bay Rays. They’ve got a really good starting rotation. We saw Tyler Glasnow when he was at his absolute best, and Blake Snell has obviously got great stuff. They’ve also got some hitters that can really make you pay for mistakes. They’re an extremely patient team; they get to 3-2 counts and work these long at-bats. I think their batting average on 3-2 counts might have been the highest in baseball when we last saw them.

“What Kevin Cash has done managing that bullpen… there were some guys they’d bring in and it was like, ‘I don’t know who these people are,’ yet he knew how to slide them into these specific roles — just like he figures out how to get enough production from their offense. Kevin Cash seems to know every right button to push. I’d say the Rays are the toughest team I’ve seen in the AL East, and probably the best overall.”

Laurila: What about in the NL East? Read the rest of this entry »


SABR CEO Scott Bush on the Business of Minor League Contraction

Minor league contraction is imminent, with 40 teams expected to lose their affiliated status once the Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) between Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball expires at the end of this month. Part of a ‘One Baseball’ concept being formulated by the Commissioner’s office, this dismantling and rearranging of the minor league landscape is controversial. To a certain extent, it’s also not well-understood. That’s particularly true on the business front, where myriad factors are at play for nearly everyone involved.

Scott Bush has a solid understanding of what’s involved. Currently the CEO for the Society for American Baseball Research, Bush formerly served as Assistant General Manager for the St. Paul Saints, as well as a Senior Vice President for Business Development with the Goldklang Group, a sports entertainment consulting and management firm that is intricately involved with Minor League Baseball.

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David Laurila: What are your general impressions of the proposed contraction — good for baseball, or bad for baseball?

Scott Bush: “I think it’s going to be difficult to measure the impact of this for several years. With the focus on geographic proximity and the ability for teams
to have more access to players, there’s going to be the potential for improved player development. There’s also going to be, from a minor league perspective, the potential for improved relations with the parent clubs. And if there is an emphasis on geographic proximity, one could assume more meaningful regional ties between the minor league teams and their parent clubs.

“But there’s certainly going to be, at minimum, a short-term loss in terms of interest in baseball. We’re going to see communities lose access to baseball, and that can’t be a good thing. So the unknown — and one of the things that everyone is waiting for — is: Will there be a meaningful replacement? What does that look like? How long will it last? For me, that becomes the crux of starting to answer whether this will be good or bad for baseball overall.”

Laurila: Can you elaborate on the relationship between affiliates and parent clubs? Read the rest of this entry »


A Conversation With Former Braves and Reds Outfielder Mike Lum

Mike Lum was good enough to have played parts of 15 big-league seasons. That he was rarely a full-time starter comes with a caveat. From 1967-1981, Lum was typically on teams that featured All-Star quality in front of him. An outfielder and later a first baseman, the left-handed hitting Honolulu native counted numerous Hall of Famers, batting champions, and Gold Glove winners among his teammates. Prior to appearing in 41 games with the Chicago Cubs at the close of his career, Lum played exclusively with the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds.

A long-time hitting coach, and most recently a special assistant for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Lum discussed his playing days over the phone last month.

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David Laurila: How would you describe your playing career?

Mike Lum: “I was never a star, but I contributed. I played mostly off the bench, and I thought I did a pretty good job. In my younger days I’d play a lot of defense for Rico Carty, who was the left fielder, and then I started pinch-hitting a lot [Lum had 102 career pinch hits, including 10 home runs]. I prided myself in those roles. Yes, it’s to nice to play every day, but there were guys in front of me who were much better. One thing I learned early on is that it takes 25 guys to win, so I just accepted my role.”

Laurila: Do you ever wonder how differently your career might have played out had you not been on teams with so many All-Star quality outfielders? You could have ended up with a thousand more at-bats.

Lum: “No doubt. And a lot of people don’t realize that when you play off the bench, and don’t get consistent at-bats, hitting can be difficult. And it becomes a mind game after that. If you look at my stats, the one year I had over 500 at-bats, I did really well [a 119 wRC+ and 16 home runs]. In my worst year, I had something like 125 at-bats. It’s difficult. That’s why I think guys who can come off the bench like I did can be very valuable to a team.”

Laurila: You mentioned Rico Carty. Other outfielders you played with in Atlanta included Hank Aaron, Felipe Alou, Dusty Baker, and Ralph Garr. Read the rest of this entry »


Sunday Notes: Giants Rookie Caleb Baragar Is Gobbling up a Lot of Decisions

The San Francisco Giants have 23 wins on the season. One week ago today they won for the 20th time, with the decision going to Caleb Baragar. It was the rookie left-hander’s second W in two days, and his fifth on the year to go with one loss. This isn’t 1972 Steve Carlton we’re talking about either. Baragar is a reliever who has pitched all of 17-and-two-thirds big-league innings.

Has a pitcher ever recorded six decisions — moreover five wins — in so few innings to begin a career? I wasn’t able to find an answer in time for this column — a call to the Elias Sports Bureau went for naught — but there is a pretty decent chance that Baragar holds a unique distinction.

The 27-year-old Jenison, Michigan native is taking his newfound habit of gobbling up Ws with a grain of salt.

“It’s a stat — ‘winning pitcher’ — that doesn’t always tell the whole story,” said Baragar, who has received some good-natured ribbing from Giants starters. “It’s not something where I’m walking around saying, ‘Hey, I have five wins in the big leagues.’ For me, they’re important because the team won, and this is a shortened season where every game matters. It’s by no means a personal stat that I’m holding my hat on.”

The first of his wins came in his big-league debut on August 25. Notably, it came against the best team in baseball. Having no fans in the stands worked to his advantage.

“Giants-Dodgers is obviously a huge rivalry,” said Baragar. “We were in Dodger Stadium, on a Saturday, and it would have been a whole lot louder if the place was packed with fans. In a way, it almost felt more like a spring game than an actual regular-season game. I was way calmer than I expected to be, and I think that was a big reason why.”

Baragar entered in the fifth inning with the Giants up 5-1, and proceeded to pitch two clean frames in a game that finished 5-4. Aware that a starter needs to go at least five to qualify, he assumed he was in line for the win.

He was also in line for a celebratory ritual.

“For your first win in the big leagues, they throw you in the laundry cart and pour beer all over you,” explained Baragar. “They kind of did it from far away because of COVID, but I still got the treatment. They threw beer on me in the shower, too.”

An equally-enthralling experience came two days before the start of the season. Baragar was called into manager Gabe Kapler’s office, and the news he received came as a surprise.

“It was crazy,” said Baragar, whom the Giants drafted in the ninth round out of Indiana University in 2016. “I assumed it was going to be your typical exit meeting, the only difference being that it was from summer camp. Instead, they told me that I’d made the team. I remember having a mask on and being really happy that I did — nobody could see my jaw drop to the floor.”

Seven weeks later, Baragar has the most wins on a team competing for a playoff berth. With the six decisions in 17-and-two-thirds innings, he may also have an obscure big-league record. Further research is required.

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Matt Foster’s habit of being in the right place at the right time to log wins was chronicled here at FanGraphs nine days ago. The rookie reliever was 4-0 in 17 innings at the time, his ERA a stingy 1.59. Not mentioned in the article was his best offering, which he’s been utilizing at a 37.3% clip.

“I throw a two-seam kind of changeup, but when I release the ball it’s spinning on a sideways axis and breaks down to the right,” explained Foster. “A lot of guys throw changeups that fade — it runs to their arm side — and while mine will do that occasionally, the majority of the time it’s kind of like an opposite slider.”

Foster went through “six or seven” changeup grips before he found one to his liking, his admittedly small hands making the quest a bit more challenging. As for the movement he gets, that’s God-given with maybe a hint of a twist.

“I mostly just let the grip do the work,” claimed Foster. “The only thing I do is concentrate on throwing it downhill, and I try to push my back foot into the ground as hard as I can when I throw it. For whatever reason, that works for me.”

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RANDOM HITTER-PITCHER MATCHUPS

Home Run Baker went 0 for 7 against Lew Brockett.

Lou Brock went 10 for 41 against Ernie Broglio.

Greg Brock went 9 for 25 against Mike Boddicker.

Brock Davis went 5 for 17 against Steve Blass.

Brock Holt is 11 for 17 against Dylan Bundy.

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With space considerations in mind — the interview ultimately comprised 2,200 words — quite a bit was left out from last week’s conversation with Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster Joe Block. Given a pair of Milwaukee Brewers pitching performances that have since ensued, a few of those cuts merit mention here. In short, Block called Brandon Woodruff “a legitimate ace, or close to that.” He also suggested that Corbin Burnes “looks like he might be on his way to being special.”

In the days following Block’s comments, Burnes threw seven one-hit inning with 11 strikeouts, while Woodruff threw seven one-hit innings with 12 strikeouts. Neither walked a batter, nor allowed a run.

Unrelated to his prescient pitching observations, Block also weighed in on former Pirate — and current Philadelphia Phillies — outfielder Andrew McCutchen.

“He’s one of the handful of Major League Baseball players whose off-the-field talents come close to matching his on-the-field talents,” Block told me. “He’s a great artist. He’s funny. He’s thoughtful and engaging. He’s got things to say that people ought to listen to. That combination is special. There are very few players in baseball today, at least that I know of, who are like that. “

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A quiz:

In the modern era, only one pitcher with at least 50 career plate appearances has a batting average higher than .330. Who is it?

The answer can be found below.

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NEWS NOTES

Effa Manley, former owner of the Negro League Newark Eagles and the only woman elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, has been honored with SABR’s Dorothy Seymour Mills Lifetime Achievement Award. Information can be found here.

Junior Noboa has been appointed baseball commissioner of the Dominican Republic (per ESPN’s Enrique Rojas).

Mark Newman, who played a significant role in the New York Yankees organization from 1989-2014, died earlier this week at age 71. Newman primarily worked in scouting and player development.

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The answer to the quiz is Terry Forster. A left-handed pitcher for five teams from 1971-1986, Forster had 31 hits in 78 at bats for a .397 average. All told, he came to the plate 86 times.

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2020 STAT NOTABLES

The Twins have been charged with 14 errors, the fewest in the majors. The Pirates have been charged with 40 errors, the most in the majors.

The Mets’ Michael Wacha has a .408 BABIP, the highest among pitchers with at least 20 innings. Toronto’s Thomas Hatch has a .119 BABIP, the lowest among pitchers with at least 20 innings

Tampa Bay’s Willy Adames has a .442 BABIP, the highest among hitters with at least 100 plate appearances. Adames’s Tampa Bay teammate Hunter Renfroe has a .134 BABIP, the lowest among hitters with at least 100 plate appearances.

Red Sox rookie Bobby Dalbec has six home runs, four singles, four walks, and 20 strikeouts in 43 plate appearances. His TTO rate is 70%.

Red Sox rookie left-handers Matt Hall and Kyle Hart have combined to throw 19-and-two-thirds innings this year. They’ve allowed 41 hits, 20 walks, and 39 runs.

Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola and Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo both logged their first career complete game on Friday. The two have combined to make 223 big-league starts.

Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera got his first stolen base since 2015 on Friday. The future Hall of Famer has 39 career steals, one more that Manny Ramirez, and nine more than Joe DiMaggio.

Matt Moore has won two of his three decisions for NPB’s SoftBank Hawks. The former MLB southpaw was on the mound for Friday’s 4-2 win over the Seibu Lions.

Tatsunori Hara got his franchise record 1,067th win as Yomiuri Giants manager. An infielder for the Giants from 1981-1995, Hara had homered 382 times during his playing career.

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Deion Sanders scored on a 68-yard punt return for the Atlanta Falcons on September 10, 1989. Five days earlier he’d homered for the New York Yankees. Playing in his first NFL and MLB seasons, ‘Neon Deion’ quickly established himself, along with Bo Jackson, as the most-prolific two-sport star of our lifetimes.

Sanders went on to have far more success on the gridiron, as evidenced by his 2011 election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. On the diamond, he amassed a modest 6.2 WAR over parts of nine seasons.

How good could he have been had he devoted himself to baseball? We’ll never know, but in the opinion of Buck Showalter, Sanders’ ceiling was sky high.

“He could have done about just about anything he wanted to,” opined Showalter, who managed Sanders in the minors, and coached him in the majors. “He was on a different level of foot speed than anybody I’d ever seen. He had some pop. He could throw. He didn’t bail on left-handed pitching. And he also had a big competitive button. From my perspective, Deion was baseball’s loss.”

Is there a chance that Sanders would have foregone football?

“There was a deal to be done,” said Showalter. “He was ready to walk away if somebody would have stepped up and fully committed him to baseball.”

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LINKS YOU’LL LIKE

At CBC News, Karin Larsen told us about an 83-mph pitch pitch thrown by a 15-year-old girl at a high-performance camp in Surrey, British Columbia.

At The Seattle Times, Ryan Divish delved into whether J.P. Crawford is trending toward being the Mariners’ long-term solution at shortstop.

Former White Sox pitcher Richard Dotson learned a family secret that ties him to erstwhile Phillies hurler Turk Farrell. Jayson Stark has the story at The Athletic.

New Jersey Advanced Media’s Randy Miller wrote about how Somerset, currently the home of an independent league team, might replace Trenton as the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate.

Holly Horning wrote about Miguel Cabrera and the Clemente Award at Totally Tigers.

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RANDOM FACTS AND STATS

Bob Gibson hit 18 sacrifice flies, the most for a pitcher in the modern era. Madison Bumgarner, Zack Greinke, and Jeff Samardzija have four sacrifice flies, the most among active pitchers.

Eddie Plank was hit by a pitch 24 times, the most of any pitcher in the modern era. Plank hit 196 batters, the second-highest total behind Walter Johnson’s 203. Johnson was hit by a pitch 13 times, which is tied for seventh-most among pitchers.

Walter Johnson had 15 strikeouts in a game twice in his career, once as a starter and once as a reliever.

Larry Rothschild made seven big-league pitching appearances, the first on September 11, 1981 and the last came September 11, 1982. All came with the Detroit Tigers.

On today’s date in 1953, Bob Trice became the first Black player in A’s franchise history. Making his MLB debut, the former Homestead Grays hurler took the loss as Philadelphia fell to the St. Louis Browns by a score of 5-2.

Willie Mays hit his 500th career home run on this date in 1965. Frank Robinson hit his 500th career home run on this date in 1971.

Players born on this date include Eddie Rommel, who once allowed 14 runs in a relief outing… and got the win. Pitching for the Philadelphia A’s against the Cleveland Indians on July 10, 1932, Rommel worked the final 17 frames as the A’s prevailed 18-17 in 18 innings. It was Rommel’s only win that season, and the last of the 171 he accumulated in his career.

Rebel Oakes played for the Federal League’s Pittsburgh Rebels in 1914 and 1915. Prior to jumping leagues, Oakes manned the outfield for the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals from 1909-1913.

Pittsburgh’s NFL franchise became known as the Steelers in 1940. From 1933-1939 they played as the Pittsburgh Pirates.

To close, a great Stan Musial fact from Jeremy Frank and Jim Passon Jr’s Hidden Ball Trick: The Baseball Stats You Never Thought to Look For, Vol 2: In 1943, Musial batted .357 while the MLB-average position player posted a slugging percentage of .356. He’s the most recent player to post a higher batting average than the league-wide slugging percentage.


Pirates Broadcaster Joe Block Ranks the Best of the Central

Joe Block knows the Central. Not only do the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team he serves as a play-by-play announcer for, compete in the National League Central, their inter-league schedule this year is solely comprised of the American League Central. As a result, Block has been getting regular looks at two of the game’s most evenly-matched divisions. Neither had a clear-cut favorite coming into the season, and by and large there haven’t been many surprises.

How would Block rank the teams and players he’s seen this season? That was the crux of a conversation I had with the TV (and sometimes radio) voice of the Pirates prior to Sunday’s game.

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David Laurila: Which is the best team you’ve seen this year?

Joe Block: “I think it’s a tossup between the three AL Central teams we’ve seen: the White Sox, the Twins, and Cleveland. Cleveland wasn’t hitting when we saw them, although when you look at that lineup they should hit. I don’t know that I can put them lower than anyone else because of their elite pitching. It seems like their bullpen is complete. Their rotation is obviously very good, even with the trade of Mike Clevinger, which happened since we saw them. I’m of the belief that pitching wins in the postseason. You can argue whether it’s relief pitching, or starting pitching like we saw with Washington last year, but I think they have what it takes to go deep in the postseason.

“Minnesota is coming off a great year. They’ve added to their rotation, and they also have a good bullpen, especially the back end. RomoRogers is a really nice one-two. They obviously hit, and they’re not a team that’s all-or-nothing. They have some good hitters, just plain ‘hitters’ as opposed to softball-style home run, swing-and-miss-type cats. So they’re very much a big part of the picture in the AL Central. If you look at their numbers, they haven’t hit to the degree they have in the past, but they’re dangerous.

“Then there are the White Sox, who we’ve seen for two games. Lucas Giolito threw a no-hitter, and we also saw Dallas Keuchel. They’ve clearly added to their team. It’s always an en vogue selection when you have a bunch of young players coming up at the same time, and go out and get a few key free agents, and in this case it’s warranted. The only possible flaw is that they’ve got a very right-handed lineup, but other than that they don’t have a lot of weaknesses. They’ve got a lot of good young players who — I’m going to use a cliché here — don’t know how to lose. I kind of buy into that a little bit. They’re new, they’re exciting, they’re good — and the veterans they got make sense for that team. They’re very balanced. Read the rest of this entry »


Sunday Notes: Tom Grieve Day Came Without the Wheels

Tom Grieve had a relatively nondescript playing career. From 1970-1979, the now-72-year-old former outfielder logged 474 hits, 65 of which left the yard, and a 100 wRC+. Those numbers came primarily with the Texas Rangers, who had drafted Grieve out of the University of Michigan while the franchise was still located in Washington DC.

Grieve is a product of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and while he grew up rooting for the New York Yankees, one of his biggest thrills came in his home state’s most-famous sports venue. The date was May 5, 1974, and the event itself was proceeded by a certain amount of trepidation.

Billy Martin was the manager at the time,” explained Grieve, who is now a TV analyst for the Rangers. “Jim Fregosi and I had been playing against left-handed pitchers, and Mike Hargrove and Jim Spencer had been playing against right-handed pitchers. Anyway, the people of Pittsfield had called the Red Sox and were somehow able to set up ‘Tom Grieve Day’ at Fenway Park between games of a Sunday doubleheader. Usually when there’s a day for someone at a ballpark, it’s for a Hall of Fame player, so I can remember going to Boston knowing that it was going to happen, and being a little bit embarrassed.”

Not to mention wary of what his manager might think. Not only was Grieve a 26-year-old platoon player, Martin had donned pinstripes for much of his own playing career. Moreover, Martin was notoriously as combative as they come. Read the rest of this entry »


White Sox Rookie Matt Foster Has a Horseshoe in His Hip Pocket

Two decades before Matt Foster was born, Dr. John had a hit single with “Right Place, Wrong Time.” Later covered by the Dave Matthews Band, as well as B.B. King and Bonnie Raitt, the song is true to its title. Funk-fused in sound, “Right Place, Wrong Time” is essentially an ode to misfortune.

Foster has had the opposite experience since debuting with the Chicago White Sox on August 1. Seventeen innings into his big-league career, the 25-year-right-hander has a won-lost record of 4-0. By and large, Foster has been in the right place at the right time.

Which isn’t to say he hasn’t pitched well. The Valley, Alabama native has allowed just eight hits and three runs in his 17 frames, and he’s fanned 21 batters along the way. Making those numbers even more impressive is the fact that Foster is a former 20th-round draft pick who came into the 2020 campaign with limited expectations. Despite a solid 2019 season in Triple-A, he garnered a mere honorable mention on our 2020 White Sox Top Prospects list.

Foster’s first big-league appearance came against the Kansas City Royals, and his initial emotions might be best described as falsely placid.

“When I got on the mound, I was like, ‘I’m really not that nervous,’ said Foster. “Then [Jorge] Soler got the first hit off me, and I was still kind of, ‘Well, OK.’ But then I threw an 0-0 slider to Salvador Perez and he almost took it yard. Then I was like, ‘OK, I’m nervous. This is real.’” Read the rest of this entry »


Rangers Broadcaster Dave Raymond Ranks the Best of the West

Dave Raymond knows the West. The team he does play-by-play for, the Texas Rangers, not only competes in the American League West, their inter-league schedule this year comprises solely the National League equivalent. As a result, Raymond has been getting regular looks at two of the game’s most talent-rich divisions. In terms of powerhouse clubs and marquee players, the West is arguably baseball’s best.

How would Raymond rank the teams and players he’s seen this season? That was the crux of a conversation I had with the TV voice of the Rangers prior to last night’s game.

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David Laurila: Which is the best team you’ve seen this year?

Dave Raymond: “I’ve been really impressed with the Padres. They looked really good against us [in mid-August]. We may have gotten them right on the way to their peak — and that might have been us headed right to the trough — but they were really impressive. They have so much great young talent. There are guys like Jake Cronenworth who are hardly even noticed in the shadow of Fernando Tatis Jr. I mean, Cronenworth has to be the top rookie-of-the-year candidate right now, and he doesn’t even stand out on that team.

“Even Manny Machado. It looked like the energy of some of the young players is lifting him a little bit. He made some plays against the Rangers that were were pretty neat. You got a glimpse again of that young Manny Machado who won a Gold Glove and was more of the all-round player.

“But here’s my thought about the Padres: if you look at that lineup, find me the homegrown guy. He’s not there. It’s made up of all these pieces that were plucked from different organizations in trades and free agent signings. In kind of a perverse way, it’s really remarkable. I don’t think anybody sets out to build a championship team almost exclusively from other teams, but that’s kind of what they’ve done. And we just saw them, at the trade deadline, going out and aggressively bringing in even more guys from other organizations. Read the rest of this entry »


Sunday Notes: Andrew Miller Made His MLB Debut on August 30, 2006

Andrew Miller made his MLB debut on today’s date 14 years ago.Two months after bing drafted sixth-overall out of the University of North Carolina by the Detroit Tigers, the lanky left-hander pitched a scoreless eighth inning in a 2-0 loss to the New York Yankees. Five hundred-plus appearances later, he remembers it like it was yesterday.

“I faced some big names in old Yankee Stadium, which is hard to beat,” recalled Miller, who retired Melky Cabrera, Johnny Damon, and Derek Jeter. “It was part of a doubleheader, as we’d gotten rained out the day I was called up, and afterward, [pitching coach] Chuck Hernandez came over and put his hand on my chest. He asked if I was going to have a heart attack.”

A top-step-of-the-dugout exchange with Marcus Thames is also fresh in Miller’s memory. On cloud nine following his one-inning stint, Miller learned that his teammate had four years earlier taken Randy Johnson deep in his first big-league at bat. Ever the pragmatist, Miller acknowledges that Thames’s debut had his own “beat by a mile.” The previous day’s rain-delay poker game in the clubhouse was another story: Miller walked away a winner.

He wasn’t about to get a big head. Not only was Miller joining a championship-caliber club — the Tigers went on to lose to the Cardinals in the World Series — there was little chance he’d have been allowed to. While his veteran teammates treated him well, they also treated him for what he was — a 21-year-old rookie with all of five minor-league innings under his belt.

“It was a shocking experience all around,” Miller admitted. “In hindsight, it’s scary how little I knew, and how naive I was, when I got called up. Thank goodness Jamie Walker called my room and told me to meet him in the lobby to go over some ground rules and expectations. He saved me from a lot of mistakes. Of course, after that Jamie was maybe the hardest veteran on me. It was all good natured, but I couldn’t slip up around him.” Read the rest of this entry »


Fred Lynn on His Time as a Tiger, Part Two

This is Part Two of an interview — the primary focus being his year-plus with the Detroit Tigers— with former All-Star outfielder Fred Lynn. Part One can be found here.

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David Laurila: In 1989 — your one full season in Detroit — the team lost over 100 games. What happened?

Fred Lynn: “It was an older team. They’d also traded Luis Salazar and Tommy Brookens, our two third basemen, and got Chris Brown from the Giants. That didn’t work out so well. Chris got hurt, plus Brookie and Luis had been really popular in the clubhouse. Sometimes you lose something in the clubhouse more than you lose on the field, and I think that was the case with those guys. As professionals you have to move on, but sometimes there’s a hole.

“Tram got hurt that year, too. He had a banged up knee and was kind of hobbling around. That hurt us a lot. Darrell [Evans] was gone, too. So there was a little bit of a changing of the guard, and with a pitch here and a pitch there… a lot of little things can happen that will turn around a season.

“And we didn’t play as well as we should have, to be honest. The pitching was… they had a tough year, and when that happens the offense feels like it has to score more runs. That puts a lot of pressure on the position players. The same thing is happening with the Red Sox right now. The offense feels like they have to score a million, and you can’t do that day in and day out. When the load is like that, it’s a tough one to bear.”

Laurila: Earlier we touched on how underrated Evans was. Chet Lemon is another guy who was better than a lot of people probably realize. Read the rest of this entry »