Saturday, July 25, 2020

MLB20 Update

Here's my current projection for pairings in the best-of-three Wild Card Series in the 2020 Major League Baseball playoffs:

-- Houston Astros (1) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (8)
-- Oakland A's (4) vs. Cleveland Baseball Team (5)
-- Minnesota Twins (3) vs. Boston Red Sox (6)
-- New York Yankees (2) vs. Texas Rangers (7)
-- Los Angeles Dodgers (1) vs. Atlanta Braves (8)
-- Chicago Cubs (4) vs. San Diego Padres (5)
-- New York Mets (3) vs. Miami Marlins (6)
-- St. Louis Cardinals (2) vs. Cincinnati Reds (7)

I'm basing this on current standings, with last season's regular-season performance breaking ties. My initial two thoughts about the pairings are, one, that Cardinals-Reds series would be huge around here, and, two, if I were a Dodgers fan, I would be a little wary of the Braves after they charged out of nowhere to take the National League's eighth berth.

The A's are 1-0, and I stayed awake until right before they actually won it. I have an anonymous source who emailed the following (italicized) observations as the glorious, 7-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels played out. He might choose to GOaHEAd and reveal himself, but I am not going to divulge.

Subject: I'm watching the A's and the Angels
Date: July 24, 2020 at 10:51:16 PM CDT
I would guess that approximately 80 percent of the A's games I've watched over the last 10 years involved the Angels.

This was the first of Oakland's 60 regular-season games, probably 45 of which will be against the Angels.

Baseball Reference is amazing. So, as previously noted, is the internet. I'm sitting here in my living room in Madisonville, Kentucky, watching the MLB74 All-Star Game on YouTube while also browsing  Mike Trout's career splits against different opponents (and checking out some gorgeous custom-made, 1970s-style football cards).

Richard Justice is ga-ga for Mike Trout, and Richard Justice is great.

I believe Richard Justice, but I do not have my own authentic sense of the greatness of Mike Trout's career. Because the only games I watch on TV are A's games or playoff games, and because the A's play the Angels two out of every three games and the Angels do not participate in the playoffs, my sense of Mike Trout is based only on his thousands of games against the A's, and Mike Trout has been better against the rest of the league than he has against the A's.

For example, Mike Trout's on-base percentage ((hits plus bases on balls plus + times hit by pitch) divided by (AB plus BB plus HBP plus sacrifice flies)) is .396 in 613 career plate appearances against the A's. That's really good. Carl Yastrzemski led the entire American League with an OBP of .395 in MLB65. However, Mike Trout has led the American League in OBP for each of the last four seasons with nothing lower than last year's .438. His career OBP is .500 against teams with less than a .500 record and .406 against above-.500 teams. He's played eight career games against the Milwaukee Brewers, and his OBP against them is .594!

(Oh, my gosh, Barry Bonds's OBPs were .515 in MLB01, .582 in MLB02, .529 in MLB03 and .609 in MLB04. No one has had an OBP above .500 since, and no one had one in the 1900s had one other than Ted Williams, Babe Ruth and Rogers Hornsby—and none of those guys got close to .609. Cheating is the worst.)

So, back to Mike Trout, Mike Trout to me is a very good player but not nearly as great as Richard Justice knows him to be. (And, again, I do know that Richard Justice, who watches all of the baseball games, is correct.)

Mike Trout has played most of his games against the A's, Mariners and Rangers, who have always been in his division. The A's have intentionally walked Trout a lot less than those other two teams have, but they did so last night.

Subject: The A's no longer have a flagship radio station
Date: July 24, 2020 at 10:53:43 PM CDT
They've gone to a streaming model, although there are still 11 stations in Northern California (mostly in rural areas) that still carry the games.  I can still get the radio broadcasts online, so I'm fine.
On my scoreboard at home, I've decided to go with all logos from the 1970's as much as possible.  I also have the Angels listed on the scoreboard as "Cal."

I had to look up what the Angels are calling themselves now. I seriously thought they were currently going by "Anaheim."

Subject: The A's have designated their field
Date: July 24, 2020 at 10:57:54 PM CDT
As "Rickey Henderson Field."
I would have gone with "Reggie Jackson Field."

One thing they said on ESPN last night that surprised me is that Marcus Semien has more opening-day starts at shortstop than any other A ever. That is great! I absolutely would've guessed Bert Campaneris, who was my favorite of the '70s A's. But I'm very happy for Marcus Semien, who was born Sept. 17, 1990, in San Francisco, just a few weeks before the A's were swept by the Reds in the World Series. I watched those games with a bunch of Reds fans in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and those guys still remind me of it two or three times a season.

Subject: The A's have crowd noise on their radio broadcast
Date: July 25, 2020 at 12:06:50 AM CDT
It's quite good -- they have organ music, and a PA announcer, and you can hear the crowd reacting to the events in the game.  If you were only listening to the radio, you would think it was a normal game.

I particularly enjoyed the pictures of people in the seats. Tony La Russa and Sal Bando were among those. It's so great to have baseball back.

Subject: 3-3 after 9
Date: July 25, 2020 at 12:33:04 AM CDT
The A's and Angels become the first teams in Major League history to start the 10th inning with a runner on second base.

This is when I turned it off to go to sleep. I was really tired, and, besides, my wife wanted to show me a video of Lin-Manuel Miranda playing one of those arcade games where the claw drops down and grasps at a stuffed animal or whatever. He's really good at it!

Subject: A's walk off the Angels with a GRAND SLAM
Date: July 25, 2020 at 1:02:58 AM CDT
A's win 7-3 in 10, move to 1-0 on the year.



  1. Oh, wow, I just heard the radio broadcast, and the canned stadium sound after the walk-off grand slam is so great! "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang is a masterpiece.

  2. Well, heck. The A's just lost, 4-1, to the Angels, so, given the 60-game season, it's pretty much like we opened with three-game win streak and got me all excited and now lost three games in a row and sent me into despair. Obviously, this is a major hit to our playoff chances. #GreenCollar.

  3. Astros (1) vs. Rangers (8)
    A's (4) vs. Rays (5)
    Twins (3) vs. Indians (6)
    Yankees (2) vs. Red Sox (7)

    Cardinals (1) vs. Cubs (8)
    Dodgers (4) vs. Nationals (5)
    Braves (3) vs. Brewers (6)
    Padres (2) vs. Mets (7)

  4. Here's a featured headline from today, from a report on Sunday's Angels-A's game:

    What can't he do? A first for Mike Trout
    3-0 count? No hesitation from the three-time AL MVP

    This headline was for a story on Oakland's 6-4 victory in its third game of MLB20. The A's improved to 5.4-2.7 on the season.

    Astros (1) vs. Tigers (8)
    A’s (4) vs. Rays (5)
    Twins (3) vs. Indians (6)
    Yankees (2) vs. Orioles (7)
    Braves (1) vs. Giants (8)
    Cubs (4) vs. Padres (5)
    Rockies (3) vs. Marlins (6)
    Cardinals (2) vs. Dodgers (7)

  5. 8.1-2.7. #GREENCOLLAR! Later, Angels.

    Astros (1) vs. Royals (8)
    A's (4) vs. Yankees (5)
    Twins (3) vs. Indians (6)
    Rays (2) vs. Orioles (7)
    Cubs (1) vs. Mets (8)
    Cardinals (4) vs. Rockies (5)
    Marlins (3) vs. Braves (6)
    Padres (2) vs. Dodgers (7)

  6. Twins (1) vs. Blue Jays (8)
    Indians (4) vs. Rays (5)
    Astros (3) vs. A's (6)
    Yankees (2) vs. Tigers (7)
    Rockies (1) vs. Padres (8)
    Dodgers (4) vs. Braves (5)
    Marlins (3) vs. Brewers (6)
    Cubs (2) vs. Mets (7)

    The A's lost to Colorado again, so, now through a tenth of their season, they are 3-3 (8.1-8.1). Today is their first day off of MLB20, so I'm turning back to the MLB74 All-Star Game on YouTube.

  7. I grew up hearing about how great the Dodgers' farm system was, and it was, for sure. But what I don't remember hearing about was how great the Dodgers did on trading for they talent they needed. They got Andy Messersmith from California a season or two ago, and this offseason they traded with Montreal for Mike Marshall and with Houston for Jim Wynn. Those three guys are the Dodgers' top starter, reliever and outfielder, respectively, and they're all N.L. all-stars.

  8. For the American League, the starting pitcher is Cleveland's Gaylord Perry, who is said to be throwing the ball harder than ever at age 35.

    With Pete Rose leading off for the Nationals against Perry, Curt Gowdy notes the Pittsburgh fans' booing him. They also boo second hitter Joe Morgan. Gowdy says it's because N.L. manager Sparky Anderson didn't pick Pirate Richie Zisk as a backup and because Pedro Borbon bit one of the Pirates in a brawl last week.

  9. Gowdy says the Reds on the team have been wearing "Big Red Machine" T-shirts around the N.L. clubhouse and that Rose in particular has been razzing Ron Cey all week that Cincinnati would soon be overtaking the Dodgers in the N.L. West.

  10. Joe Garagiola loves Johnny Bench. He has been talking admiringly how Bench "never makes his pitcher look wild," moving his glove only when he has to and not jumping around behind the plate.

    Perry strikes out Bench. Through an inning and a third, Perry (formerly of the San Francisco Giants) has struck out Rose, Joe Morgan and Bench (and flew out Hank Aaron).

  11. Steve Garvey is the N.L. starting first baseman. He was elected by write-in vote, and Garvey tells NBC, because of that, playing in the All-Star Game is the "happiest day of my life."

  12. With two out in the second, Garvey singles, and then Ron Cey doubles him home. 1-0, Nationals.

  13. Thurman Munson scores on Bench's error, trying to throw out Rod Carew at second, and then Dick Allen singles home Carew. It's 2-1, Americans.

  14. The Americans want to win it. The league president, Lee MacPhail, asked A.L. managers to not throw any of their All-Star pitchers on the Sunday before the break, and the All-Star manager, California's Dick Williams, has said he would keep his best team on the field to win and not concentrate on getting everyone on the roster onto the field.

  15. Indeed, in that last half, Williams did not pinch-hit for Gaylord Perry, instead sending him up to bunt Munson from second to third, which Perry did successfully.

  16. In the fourth, though, Williams does send up a pinch-hitter for Perry, who was hit hard (but for no runs) in the third. It's Al Kaline, who is 58 hits shy of 3,000. Gowdy says Kaline told him he'd come back for MLB75 if he doesn't get the 58 hits in the second half of the season with Detroit.

  17. Williams should've kept Perry in to hit. Kaline did nothing, and then Luis Tiant gave up a single to Bench, a single to Wynn, a double to Garvey and a sacrifice to Cey. It's now 3-2, Nationals.

  18. You can write off to the "Baseball Film Division" in New York for a list of available titles. The clip they show behind this video with its jaunty music is two angles of Pete Rose barreling over Ray Fosse in the All-Star Game.

  19. I really miss Gatorade in the beaded glass bottles.

  20. I don't remember the Plymouth Scamp, but that's a fine-looking automobile.

  21. Lou Brock is amid his major-league-record 10th season of 50 or more stolen bases. He already has 60 at the break of MLB74. He just stole second and advanced to third on Thurman Munson's throwing error in the fifth. And then Joe Morgan sacrifices him in, and it's 4-2, National League.

  22. Roy Clark, Rich Little and Loretta Swit are the scheduled guest stars for this week's Mac Davis Show.

  23. Curt and Joe bring on Pittsburgh Pirates announcer Bob Prince, who takes the opportunity to note the absence of the late Roberto Clemente, leaving "right field to be played by mere mortals."

  24. We're through eight at (rest in peace) Three Rivers Stadium (1970-2000), and the National League now leads, 5-2. St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Reggie Smith whipped a solo home run deep to right field to open the bottom of the seventh, and Los Angeles Dodgers closer Mike Marshall is working on a two-inning save opportunity. Some things from the last several half innings ...

    -- When I get a mind's eye picture of those handmade banners in sports from the 1970s, it's Three Rivers Stadium that I see, and, indeed, there are many of them around the place for this game. One of them reads, "WELCOME BACK, DAVE CASH." That's sweet. The Pirates traded the second baseman to Philadelphia before MLB74.

    -- I misspoke a little earlier. The N.L. manager is New York's Yogi Berra, of course, not Cincinnati's Sparky Anderson. (Sparky is serving tonight as Yogi's third-base coach; St. Louis's Red Schoendist is on the job at first.) NBC just had a little clip of Garagiola interviewing Berra, and Gowdy points out that the two former catchers were boyhood friends who played baseball together in St. Louis's Hill neighborhood. I didn't know that.

    -- The game program is available by request with $2.50 to Three Rivers Stadium. That's $13.07 in today's dollars. You can buy the same program now for $15, plus $6.15 shipping, on eBay, and that's a pretty good deal because this one has already been scored.

  25. Knowing these guys primarily through their batting statistics on the backs of their baseball cards, I'm often surprised to see them--Yastrzemski at first, Morgan at second, both Cesar CedeƱo and Reggie Jackson in right--make terrific defensive plays. I was not surprised, however, to see Joe Rudi make a beautiful sliding catch beyond the left-field foul line in the National League half of the eighth. That guy was some outfielder.

  26. Garagiola strikes me as a guy who is frustrated and kind of perplexed/kind of understanding that not everyone is happy as he very often is. Here is a person who campaigned for both John F. Kennedy in 1960 and Gerald Ford in 1976. Here is a person who defended baseball's reserve clause and then reportedly regretted it, a person who started out as a tobacco chewer and then advocated against the vice. I'm not being critical. I'm just saying Garagiola is a person who apparently thinks different things at different times and seems to spends time reflecting on those changes and trying to reconcile them. Many of us do that same basic thing; it's just that most of us don't spend our lives playing and broadcasting major-league baseball, hosting Today and all sorts of other television shows, writing best-sellers and on and on. Garagiola's common quiets were uncommonly out loud.

  27. In this 1974 broadcast from the summer of his 49th year, Garagiola sounds to me like a person who ... again? ... always? ... is grappling with his world and his place in it. There are moments it feels like Garagiola is kind of gingerly toeing in to commentary ... maybe he would like to say more ... maybe he hasn't quite thought it all the way through ... maybe he feels constrained from letting loose ... something.

  28. For example, Garagiola keeps in simmering check his clearly genuine anger with an off-camera disturbance caused by a streaker. He trails off in befuddlement with "people who come to the ballpark to be seen instead of seeing." This came only shortly before or after when Gowdy is showing off Three Rivers' swank "Allegheny Club"--with its air-conditioned, table-clothed dining high over the stadium--and Garagiola remarks that "the good, old days are right now."

  29. And Garagiola talks about race off and on throughout the game ... about how much of a shame it is that we never got to see the Negro League stars in these all-star games ... about how he doesn't want letters complaining about his use of the term "Negro Leagues;" that's what they called them, he says, not the "black leagues" ... about the potentiality of Henry Aaron or Frank Robinson becoming MLB's first black manager. When Tony Kubek talks about Aaron saying that Robinson (and not Dick Williams) should've been offered the Angels' job when it came open this season, Garagiola asks, "He was that straightforward, huh, Tony?"

  30. Well, I always liked Joe Garagiola, and I enjoyed his broadcast. Marshall finished, and the National League ended up winning, 7-2. The end.

  31. I appreciated having this to focus on the last few days, because the MLB20 A's have been struggling. They came from behind to beat Seattle in extra innings last night, however, so ...

    Yankees (1) vs. Rays (8)
    Tigers (4) vs. Orioles (5)
    Astros (3) vs. A's (6)
    Twins (2) vs. Indians (7)
    Cubs (1) vs. Nationals (8)
    Dodgers (4) vs. Marlins (5)
    Braves (3) vs. Brewers (6)
    Rockies (2) vs. Padres (7)