Archive for July 30th, 2009

Fandom Auctioned: SOLD! for $14.99

bandits mascot jcBanditsI’ve managed to come down pretty decisively on one side of most of the sports arguments of my day (I’m against municipal levies to pay for ballparks; I don’t mind the designated hitter), but this one still gets me into ferocious internal arguments with myowndamnself.

Should a fan ever renounce his love for his team? For me, personally, the answer is no. How can I expect to hang with my wife for the rest of my life if I can’t even put up with the mild agita that each doomed Royals season brings me? And yet, there’s a part of me that says it might be OK for the more feckless amongst us, because some owners render teams unworthy of undying love, and I hate to reward that kind of behavior. The old “small market!” chestnut has been blown to pieces as the likes of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays turn burgeoning farm systems into quality major-league contenders. It simply appears that some billionaire owners are too cheap to give back to their fans in any meaningful way.

Pittsburgh Pirates fan Brad Davis, fed up with the Buccos’ tendency to trade away every player that ever gave the team a fighting chance to win, put his fandom up for auction on eBay. The slightly tattered artifact was picked up by the Low-A Quad Cities River Bandits, who know how to spot a value pick in this constricted market. They paid just $14.99 for a slightly-used vintage fan. And Brad gets a friendly small-town Bus Leagues club with an awesome stadium to call his very own.

There’s only one real problem I have with the way this played out. The auction story was cute and all, but I can’t help feeling that Davis could have stayed within his own farm system if he wanted to see great Pirates draft picks before they were traded. But I guess he needed a clean break.

Word of warning, though. Once you go Bus Leagues, you’ll never go back, Brad.

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Perfect Pitchers Get All The Glory, While Their Catchers Get None

On the heels of yesterday’s post about Felix Cespedes’s near-perfect game, I got an email from a fellow writer that made me do some thinking about perfect games.  One of the things I found myself wondering: who were the catchers for each of the eighteen perfect games in major league history?

This list is taken from the Encyclopedia of Baseball Catchers and fact-checked against Baseball-Reference.com when possible.

1. Lee Richmond (June 12, 1880) – Charlie Bennett
2. Monte Ward (June 17, 1880) – Emil Gross
3. Cy Young (May 5, 1904) – Lou Criger
4. Addie Joss (October 2, 1908) – Nig Clarke
5. Charlie Robertson (April 30, 1922) – Ray Schalk
6. Don Larsen (October 8, 1956) – Yogi Berra
7. Jim Bunning (June 21, 1964) – Gus Triandos
8. Sandy Koufax (September 9, 1965) – Jeff Torborg
9. Catfish Hunter (May 8, 1968) – Jim Pagliaroni
10. Len Barker (May 15, 1981) – Ron Hassey
11. Mike Witt (September 30, 1984) – Bob Boone
12. Tom Browning (September 16, 1988) – Jeff Reed
13. Dennis Martinez (July 28, 1991) – Ron Hassey
14. Kenny Rogers (July 28, 1994) – Ivan Rodriguez
15. David Wells (May 17, 1998) – Jorge Posada
16. David Cone (July 18, 1999) – Joe Girardi
17. Randy Johnson (May 18, 2004) – Robby Hammock
18. Mark Buehrle (July 23, 2009) – Ramon Castro

Look closely and you’ll notice something interesting: seven Hall of Famers (I’m counting Johnson in that group) have pitched perfect games; three Hall of Famers (I’m counting Rodriguez, but not Posada) have caught perfect games. No Hall of Fame catcher, however, has ever caught a perfect game pitched by a Hall of Fame pitcher.

And then there’s Ron Hassey. Catching one perfecto is cool; catching two is off the charts, especially when you realize he was only behind the plate for five more games (plus four appearances as a pinch-hitter) after Martinez’s gem.

And Suddenly, My Childhood Comes Rushing Back

I went to the West Virginia Power’s web site tonight to see if Charleston could somehow manage to salvage something from this four game series (West Virginia won the first game on a walkoff homer, the second on a combined no-hitter, and the third on a combined one-hitter) – they did, winning 8-7 despite nearly blowing an 8-2 lead – when pure awesomeness reached out and punched me in the face.

Guess who’s coming to Appalachian Power Park on August 7?  MR. BELDING!

saved by the bell

Dennis Haskins, who played Mr. Belding on Saved By The Bell for about a hundred years, will sign autographs and host a postgame karaoke party when the Power hosts Kannapolis on Back To School Night.  (The game is sponsored by the West Virginia Lottery – gamble early, gamble often, kids!)

Mr. Belding and fireworks?  Be still my heart!  What’s the fastest way from New Hampshire to West Virginia?

(Okay, I need to know: how the hell did Max get into that picture?  Did they just want an even number of people and he was available?)