Yesterday Johan Santana threw a no-hitter for the NY Mets. As most people now know, it was the first no-hitter in the 50 year history of the organization. Despite some close calls by Tom Seaver and others, the Mets had gone 8,019 games without holding another team hitless.
The new current streak for games without throwing a no-hitter resides with San Diego. The Friars have gone 6,895 games without throwing a no-hitter. In fact, that number is equal to the number of games that the Padre organization has played and they are now the only current team in MLB to never throw a no-hitter.
As amazing as the Mets and Padres streaks are, there is one more streak currently active that should also be noted. There is one team that has gone 7,390 games without having a no-hitter thrown against them. The team with that current longest streak is the Cubs.
The last time the Cubs were no-hit was September 9th, 1965 in Los Angles by the Dodgers. You wanna talk about a great pitchers duel, check out this game.
Starting for the Dodgers that day was Sandy Koufax. All he did was throw a Perfect Game. Koufax struck out 14 Cubs that day, including Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, and Ron Santo a total of 6 times.
Almost as good that day was Chicago starting pitcher Bob Hendley. Hendley allowed just 1 hit to the Dodgers in the complete game 1-0 loss. The one hit didn’t even factor into the only run scored that day.
Hendley was matching Koufax and was perfect through 4 innings; then in the bottom of the fifth he walked the lead-off hitter Lou Johnson. Johnson was then sacrificed to second on a bunt by Ron Fairly. With future Cubs manager Jim Lefebvre at the plate, Johnson made an attempt to steal third base. Rookie catcher Chris Krug threw the ball away and Johnson scored the only run of the game on the error.
The only hit of the game came two innings later when Lou Johnson got a two-out double.
And that was the last time the Cubs were no-hit. The second longest current streak belongs to the Reds at 6,497 games.
I’ve never seen the kid play before tonight. My only knowledge of him is through articles I’ve read and the few highlights I’ve seen.
Based on that limited exposure, I had a negative impression of Harper going into the game. After watching him play……… I’m not sure how I feel.
Everything about this kid screams “Look at me!” From the haircut, to the flipping off of his helmet as he ran the bases, to the grey painted bat. And make no mistake, it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a bat that color. It reminded me of the first time I ever saw a player use a black painted bat- George Foster mid 70’s.
What also screamed look at me? That bullet of a line drive that he hit to dead center over Matt Kemp’s head and the way he busted his ass down to second base. And then on defense, the laser throw he made from left field to home plate on a single to left. His throw beat the runner but Ramos dropped the ball.
I sorta get the feeling that he is a “Pete Rose”. He is gonna play hard…..tonight….tomorrow……every game ……every pitch. And if you don’t like him or the way he plays…… too bad for you because he doesn’t care.
It’s gonna make him a very polarizing player, like Rose was.
Now he just needs to put up the numbers.
One week until every team is in first…..at least for a day
One week until the Angels begin life with the best right handed hitter in the game
One week until the beginning of Chipper Jones’ farewell season
One week until Stephen Strasburg tries to recapture his rookie year magic
One week until the Pirates try to end a streak of 19 straight losing seasons
One week until Paul Konerko is just 4 homers away from 400
One week until the Theo Epstein era begins in Chicago
One week until Prince Fielder questions money over Comerica Park’s 420ft Center Field fence
One week until the ‘Carlos Zambrano Meltdown Watch’ starts
One week until Bobby Valentine tries to prove he’s the smartest guy he knows
One week until Kenny Williams questions why he traded Sergio Santos
One week until Kansas City fans look at the starting lineup and say “who’s that?”
One week until Magic Johnson wonders what $2 Billion just bought
One week until the fans actually listen to the starting lineup announcement
One week until Ryan Braun tries to prove it was all legit
One week until the Houston Astros become National League lame ducks
One week until the New York press declares the Mets out of the division race
One week until a first pitch ball outside will get a huge cheer
One week until I duck my head when an F-18 skims the top of Wrigley after our National Anthem
One week until the Red Sox don’t eat fried chicken during the game
One week until this passion we call baseball begins
One week until Opening Day!!!
Realignment of baseballs teams is not something new, but it’s getting looked at anew after last weeks ESPN report that Major League Baseball and the Players Association are discussing the options of realignment.
Baseballs first major realignment took place in 1969. Prior to that; each league, American and National, had one division each. From 1901 through the 1968 season each league sent the winner of their division directly to the World Series. And while the overall number of teams in baseball increased slightly from 16 in 1901 to 20 in 1968, the structure of the leagues didn’t alter. But that all changed in 1969 when Major League Baseball expanded with the addition of 4 new teams (Seattle Pilots, KC Royals, Montreal Expos and San Diego Padres). Instead of 2 twelve team leagues, each league separated their teams into 2 six team divisions. A new round of playoffs was created and now 4 of the 24 teams made the post-season. Although a couple of teams moved over the next few seasons, Seattle to Milwaukee and Washington to Texas, the leagues remained the same until the next round of expansion.
In 1977 two new ball clubs were added to the American League, the Toronto Blue Jays were added to the AL East and the Seattle Mariners went to the AL West. The American League now had 14 teams and the National League had 12, and this is the way it stayed until 1993 when the NL expanded to 14 teams with the addition of the Florida Marlins in the NL East and the Colorado Rockies going to the NL West. But the overall system of two divisions in each league remained unchanged, albeit for only one season.
In 1994 baseball decided to break each of their 14 team leagues into 3 divisions. Each league created the 5 team East and Central divisions, as well as a 4 team West division. With the advent of 3 division champions, the leagues also added a “wild card” team to the playoff structure. Each league would now send 4 teams into the post-season. A new round of playoffs was created, the League Division Series.
This 3 division system is the same that MLB employs now, although since 1994 two new teams have been added, Arizona and Tampa Bay in 1998; one team changed leagues from the AL to the NL, Milwaukee, also in 1998; and another team just moved, Montreal to Washington.
And now we’ve reached 2011 when the talk of realignment has started again. Although there has been sporadic talk over the years of doing something with the league structure, I believe that the current drumbeat to do something is the loudest it’s been. The main reason that this talk is gaining traction is because, according to reports, the Players Union is on board with making a change.
The first thing we should look at is, why? Why realign at all? I think the main reason is fairness, or balance. In the current configuration of teams, at the beginning of any given season a team from the 4 team AL West has a 31.8% chance of making the playoffs while a team from the 6 team NL Central only has a 23.1% chance at post-season. There are other reasons as well, competitive balance and geography to name a few, but those factors are not being looked at in regards to the current realignment proposals.
So if “fairness” is the goal, the obvious solution is to make all divisions equal. But how?
So here are the two potential options being thrown out.
Two leagues of 15 teams, with 3 divisions of 5 in each league. Each league would have 3 division winners and 2 wild cards.
Two leagues of 15 teams, with just one division of 15, the top 5 teams from that league making the post-season.
My initial reaction to both plans was; No, I don’t like it.
With 30 teams, it’s easy to create six 5 team divisions. But that leads to two 15 team leagues. That’s something that baseball has always avoided because of the odd number which makes scheduling league play impossible. But with the advent of inter-league play 15 years ago, the thought of playing teams from the other league during the regular season became a reality and is now common place.
But do we want teams playing inter-league games on the last weekend of the season? And just to be clear, some teams will be playing inter league games then; there’s no way around it. As my friend posed this question to me; The Cubs are 1 behind the Cardinals with three games to play, do you really want to be playing those last three of the season against the Royals? And of course my first reaction was no; that would be horrible. But as I thought about it more I realized that it’s not a valid question. The question presupposes that if it weren’t for the 15 team league and inter-league play throughout the baseball season that the Cubs would be playing the Cardinals on that final weekend. Nothing could be farther from the truth. This year the Cubs end the year against the Padres, not even a division opponent. In fact, of the current 1st and 2nd place teams in the six divisions right now, only 2 of the 6 sets of teams are playing against each other the final weekend of this season. So if the final opponent of the season doesn’t matter in the scheduling, that removes the barrier to leagues with an odd number of teams.
So then the question becomes; One 15 team division or three 5 team divisions?
Again my initial response was, three divisions of five.
Let’s keep the rivalries intact, I want those September Cubs-Cards matchup’s to have extra meaning. But you know what? I was wrong. One of the things that give those games meaning is the close location of the two cities, and that won’t change. The other thing that can make those games special is a tight race in the standings. But they don’t have to be in the same division to be close in the standings. If it’s the last weekend of the season and the Cubs and Cards are tied for the fifth spot in the playoffs, I have a feeling the excitement would be just as great as if the two teams were playing for first in the NL Central.
Think about it this way, we already have the ‘one division’ playoff race right now. Every team in the league currently competes for the wild card spot now. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the central or west divisions, if you have the better record, you are in the post-season.
The one division plan also helps alleviate the competitive/economic balance problem. For the past decade the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, and Tampa Rays have been behind the power curve being in the same division as NY and Boston (yes I know Tampa was in the World Series two years ago). But now Toronto could still finish behind both NY and Bos and still make the playoffs.
The thing is, the past two seasons the same 4 teams from each league (3 Div Champs and 1 WC) would have still made the post-season. But in 2008 things would have been different. The LA Dodgers won the NL West with 84 wins, but that was only the 7th best record in the NL overall. The Mets, Astros, Cardinals, and Marlins all had a better record than the Dodgers but didn’t make the post-season because LA was in the weak NL West. The irony here, at least for a Cubs fan, is that the Dodgers swept the “number 1 seed” in the first round of the playoffs that year; of course that number 1 team was the 97 win Cubs.
One of the last issues would be tradition. I’ve talked to a couple of people that say we need to maintain divisions, that they are part of the game. How if we change the system now for “fairness”, it would just be another example of the softening/PC fixing of America. But really, that’s just a matter of perspective. Sure we have had divisions for 40+ years and that’s what everyone is used to, but for the 60+ years before that we only had one division. I’m fairly certain that if the internet was around in the fall of 1968 there would have been plenty of people complaining about how baseball was becoming soft and that they didn’t need any of that ‘flower power hippie stuff’ in their game.
In Conclusion (for all that skipped ahead or those brave enough to have read the entire post), I say baseball should realign. Move one team from the NL to the AL and have just one division of 15 teams with the top 5 teams making the playoffs.
I’d love to hear your opinion and thanks for reading
(Also, this week I will be posting reviews and photos from one White Sox-Mariners game as well as last night’s Cubs-Yankees game)
This is the time of year when people take time to look back
and reflect on the year gone by, and I’m no different. Here are some of my most
memorable moments from the 2010 Chicago Cubs season. There’s more than 10, but
hey, it’s my memories.
4/5: Opening Day; The Braves crush Carlos Zambrano and the
Cubs 16-5 and Jason Heyward hits a monster homerun on his first swing during
his first Major League at-bat.
4/12: Cubs Home Opener; I’m
at the game cheering on the Cubs. But fantasy baseball meets real baseball as I
have both Ryan Dempster and Doug Davis, the games two starting pitchers, on my
fantasy roster. I’m hoping for a 1-0 Cubs win. Instead, both pitchers combine
for 9.2 Inn, 11 ER, and 20 H&W. The Cubs do win the game at least.
5/7: Starlin Castro’s first game; Castro plays in his first game and goes 5 for
5 with a homerun, triple, and 6 RBI. Cubs win 14-7 over Cincinnati.
6/9 & 6/11: Derrek Lee and
Alfonso Soriano both hit their 300th career homeruns just two days
6/13: Cubs, Sox, and Blackhawks at
Wrigley; I’m at the game on a
great night. The NHL Champion Chicago Blackhawks walk around the field before
the game carrying the Stanley Cup. During the game, both starting pitchers, Ted
Lilly for the Cubs and Gavin Floyd of the CWS, take no-hitters into the seventh
inning. In the bottom of the 7th, Alfonso Soriano gets the Cubs
first hit with a double down the line. Soriano eventually scores and the Cubs
lead 1-0. Ted Lilly takes his no-no to the 9th. I’m going nuts
thinking I’m going to see a no-hitter. Unfortunately, ex-Cub Juan Pierre gets a
pinch hit slap single up the middle to end the no-no. Carlos Marmol comes on in
relief and, after loading the bases, gets the last out for a 1-0 Cubs win.
6/24: Carlos Zambrano’s dugout
tirade; Zambrano goes nuts, again, he eventual takes anger management
lessons before having a great second half of the year.
7/25: Largest Wrigley crowd (41,406)of
the season; I’m at the game with
two of my three daughters. It’s ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, Cubs vs Cardinals.
We stay late into the night to watch the Cubs lose 4-3 in 11 innings.
7/31: Cubs trade Ted Lilly and Ryan
Theriot to the Dodgers
8/2: The Brewers crush the Cubs
18-1; Randy Wells starts the game for the Cubs and actually kept
Milwaukee scoreless for the first 3 innings. The Brewers score in every inning
after that and win 18-1 with 26 hits.
Two days later the Cubs score their highest run total of the year,
ending a 7 game losing streak by beating the Brewers 15-3.
8/19: Padres beat the Cubs 5-3;
I’m at the game with my daughters. I can tell my oldest isn’t feeling well
(pre-game pizza, nachos, and peanuts didn’t help). It’s the bottom of the third
and she says she wants to leave. I say ok, right after this batter( I don’t
want to get up during the middle of an at-bat and block people’s view). Carlos
Zambrano is up, the very next pitch after I tell them we are going to leave,
Zambrano swings late on an outside pitch and slices a liner into the crowd. It’s
low and I lose sight of it as it heads straight at us. One second later the
ball pops out from in-between the two guys in front of us. The ball goes screaming
an inch over my daughters head as she’s looking down getting her things
together. She never sees the ball or knows what just happened, Zambrano makes
an out and we leave.
8/22: Lou Piniella retires;
Lou’s last game a Cubs manager, the Cubs lose 16-5 against the Braves, just
like they did on Opening Day. Lou ends career with 1835 wins as a manager, 14th
9/19: Tyler Colvin gets a bat in the
chest; Yikes!! Colvin gets hit with the broken handle of a bat and it
punctures his chest. He doesn’t play again in 2010.
10/3: Houston beats Cubs 4-0;
Last game of the year. Cubs finish in 5th place with a 75-87 record.
Wait til Next Year!!!
Sept 24th, 1957.
The Dodgers beat the Pirates 2-0 in front of 6702 people.
Roberto Clemente is batting seventh in the Pirate lineup
playing Centerfield. He goes 1 for 3.
Roy Campanella is batting seventh for the Dodgers, although no
one knows it; he is just 5 days away from playing in his last Major League game.
He goes 0 for 2 and is replaced in the fifth inning after a ground-out.
Don Zimmer goes 2 for 2, including a walk and a double.
Danny McDevitt pitches a complete game 5 hitter for the
Dodgers and gets the win. It would be the only game he ever won in Ebbets
It is also the last game the Brooklyn
Dodgers would ever play in Ebbets
Field. They would finish out the season with three more games in Philadelphia.
The next year they moved to Los Angeles.
53 years ago today.
Bobby Thomson passed away today at the age of 86.
Thomson is most famously known for the home run he hit off Brooklyn
Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca in the 1951 playoff to determine the National
League pennant winner. The “Shot heard ’round
With the Giants losing 4-1 beginning the bottom of the ninth,
the Dodgers 20 game winner Don Newcombe needed just three more outs to send
Brooklyn to the World Series. But singles by Alvin Dark and Monte Irvin, and a
one out double by Whitey Lockman had made the score 4-2 with runners on second
and third. It was at this point that the lives of two men change forever.
Flashback to two days earlier. What many people don’t
realize is that the playoff between the Dodgers and the Giants was not just one
game, it was actually a three game playoff. In game one on Oct 1st
Ralph Branca was the starting pitcher for the Dodgers. With the Dodgers leading
1-0 going in the top of the fourth, Bobby Thomson hit a two-run homer off
Branca to give the Giants the lead. They would add one more run later in the
game and beat the Dodgers 3-1. Branca pitched eight innings that day and took
the loss. The next day the Dodgers crushed the Giants 10-0 to set up the third
and final game of the series.
Game three was tight until the eighth inning. With the score
tied at one, the Dodgers put together four hits and a walk to score 3 runs.
Newcombe kept the Giants scoreless in the bottom of the eighth to setup the
Of course we know that Branca came on to relieve Newcombe in
the bottom of the ninth and he gave up the game ending homer to Thomson.
Thomson was an all-star the next season, but he never really
enjoyed huge success. He was basically an average player as he played for
several different teams and battled injuries throughout his career. In fact,
although he will always be remembered as a Giant, one of the best seasons of
his career came as a member of the Chicago Cubs.
Thomson was traded to the Cubs on April 3, 1958. He played
two years with the Cubs hitting a combined .274 with 32 HR’s and 134 RBI’s.
RIP – Bobby Thomson