Author Archives: Andrew Martin
We’re barely two weeks past the 2016 MLB All Star Game and it is already appropriate to say that this has been a truly strange baseball season. Every year there are stories that unfold that cause outsiders to do a double take to make sure they understood correctly but this year seems to have had a disproportionate amount with more than two months of the season left to go.
Here are some of the most unforgettable:
At the age of 40, Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is playing in his final and perhaps best season of a 20-year major league career. He is providing a grand finale for what may well end up being an eventual induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Although such impressive exits from the game are rare, there have been others who retired with a bang instead of a whimper.
If the 2016 season were to end today, it could be reasonably argued that Ortiz truly did go out on top. Thus far, in 89 games, he has hit .332 with a league-leading 35 doubles, 24 home runs, 81 RBIs and a 182 OPS+, which represents a career high. He also leads the league in on base percentage (OBP) and slugging, all while walking (52) more than he has struck out (45).
Keep reading for some other outstanding final seasons. Eligibility was determined by players who voluntarily retired, as opposed to those like Shoeless Joe Jackson (who hit .382 in 1920 with 218 hits, 121 RBIs and just 14 strikeouts but never returned to the game after being suspended for life); injury (Sandy Koufax and Kirby Puckett had tremendous final seasons before retiring suddenly for health reasons), or death (like Roberto Clemente, who hit .312 and won a Gold Glove in 1972 but was killed during the offseason in a plane crash).
Before Babe Ruth, another mega star dominated the baseball landscape. His name was Hal Chase and he was a supremely talented and flawed athlete and human, who was ultimately overtaken by his demons and unceremoniously cast out of the majors because of his penchant for gambling and allegedly throwing games—which possibly included involvement in the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal. Detailing his rise and fall is Donald Dewey and Nicholas Acocella, with their excellent The Black Prince of Baseball: Hal Chase and the Mythology of the Game (University of Nebraska Press, 2004/2016).
Minor League Baseball issued the following press release today:
Minor League Baseball Remains a Budget-Friendly Entertainment Option
Family of four can attend a game for an average of less than $65
PETERSBURG, Florida — Minor League Baseball announced today that attending one of its games is, yet again, one of the most economical forms of family entertainment available. The average cost for a family of four to enjoy a Minor League Baseball game this season is only $64.97; a price that includes parking, two adult tickets, two child tickets, four hot dogs, two sodas and two beers.
Ray Schalk has one of the most impressive baseball resumes one can find when combing through the annals of the game. The catcher had a distinguished 18-year playing career and was a “Clean Sox” on the infamous 1919 Chicago Black Sox before moving on to a career in coaching. He was ultimately inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955 but nearly didn’t live to see that moment because of the time he was taken hostage by armed robbers at his bowling alley.
The San Diego Padres have struggled to find their identity in recent seasons, finishing above .500 just three times in the last decade, entering the 2016 season. They last appeared in the playoffs in 2006 and don’t look like they will break that streak this year. However, if some of their young talent pans out, there may be a very bright future ahead. One of the young players who may play a role in the turnaround is speedy outfielder Auston Bousfield.
The Major League Baseball draft recently concluded and another batch of young players joined the ranks of professionals. Every step along the way from when they first started playing as children has essentially weeded out those with less talent. Those who can prove themselves and hang in there have the potential of becoming a big leaguer and realizing dreams that are years in the making. Seattle Mariners pitching prospect Zack Littell still has his dream alive and well. Entering his fourth season in the organization, he is right on pace for becoming one of the lucky ones.
The (tied for) first-place Boston Red Sox have had a lot of reasons for their success so far this season. The headlines have been dominated by their young breakout stars (Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.), and the swan song of their venerable veteran, David Ortiz. Lost in all that positivity has been the reemergence of second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who is quietly putting together another of his signature seasons after seeing his production dip in recent years.
The 2016 Major League Baseball Draft is mere hours away. The Boston Red Sox have the twelfth overall selection in the first round; the third time in four years they have picked inside the top 15. Rumors are rampant as to who the team will choose. In 50 years of drafting, the team has run the gamut with the success of their first round picks. Here are some of their biggest hits and misses (keeping in mind that they currently have one of the best farm systems in baseball with a number of former first rounders either just making their mark (Jackie Bradley Jr.) with the club or on the verge of doing so (Andrew Benintendi).
Still widely remembered as the finest center fielder to ever play baseball, Tris Speaker was as dangerous a hitter as he was a fielder. Inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame on their second-ever ballot in 1937, he nearly missed seeing that tremendous honor because of a near-fatal flower box accident he suffered that year.