Baseball Phrases for Everyday Use

July 3, 2015
If that's the ball the catcher is gripping in his glove, it lokos like this squeez play is well on its way to suicide.

If that’s the ball the catcher is gripping in his glove, it looks like this squeeze play is well on its way to suicide.


The language of baseball is extremely pliable. As we roll into Independence Day Eve, looking forward to all the big colorful fireworks and party doings of tomorrow, here are simply a few bang-bang examples of how easily so many baseball terms and phrases fit so comfortably into another lexicon of descriptions for the kind of stuff that happens in our everyday lives. If you have some favorites in mind, or even some other descriptions for the phrases we’ve used here, The Pecan Park Eagle invites you to leave them as comments on this column in the section of this post that always follows each publication.

And Happy Special Friday, July 3rd, to One and All! Tomorrow is America’s Big 239th Birthday Celebration!  Here’s Our Early Happy Birthday Salute!



Ten Baseball Terms and How They Also Apply to Everyday Life in America

Intentional Walk: if we are physically able, it’s an exercise we need to engage daily for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Home Run: Something we quickly do if we drive away from the house and suddenly realize we’ve left our wallet and driver’s license on the kitchen table.

Squeeze Play: A condition someone on a tight budget may experience annually when they find a way (which s getting easier by attraction in 2015) to renew their season tickets for Houston Astros games.

Texas Leaguer: Any purchase from a retail store whose products are slightly overpriced, but also a little bit short of good taste and quality.

Conference at the Mound: Something that happens when a homeowner and his consultant pest exterminator meet at the enormous fire ant bed that the former has discovered in his backyard to discuss a plan of action.

Hit and Run: The action progression that unfolds when a little kid sucker punches the much older  neighborhood bully in the mouth with no confidence that the action will even phase the big thug.

Double Play: When you are young and your first love is one of two identical twin sisters and you invite them both out for a first movie date – just to make sure you got the right one.

Triple Play: When you are young and your first love is one of three identical triplet sisters and … (See Double Play above).

Can of Corn: Whether your first date is with one, two, or three girls, it is the container which holds every funny thing you came prepared to say during the evening. Sadly for you, you brought a can opener.

One Bounce Out (an 1860 base ball rule that gave fielders credit for a put out, if they captured a struck ball on the first bounce): In contemporary terms, it’s what wives do to unfaithful husbands whom they catch them cheating the first time.

The Pecan Park Eagle Says: "HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!"

The Pecan Park Eagle




Bill Gilbert: Seventy Three Days and Counting

July 3, 2015
Veteran SABR researcher and distinguished guest columnist for The Pecan Park Eagle offers his June Results Report on the 2015 Houston Astros

Veteran SABR researcher and distinguished guest columnist for The Pecan Park Eagle offers his June Results Report on the 2015 Houston Astros

Seventy Three Days and Counting

By Bill Gilbert

On April 19, the Houston Astros defeated the Los Angeles Angels, 4-3 and moved into first place in the American League West Division. Seventy three days later, they are still there. At one point in May, they led the division by 7 games and finished the month 5 games ahead. They encountered some rough spots in June including a 7–game losing streak, some injuries and a few bullpen blowups, but they still finished the month ahead by 4 games with a record of 46-34. They were 15-14 in June, their third straight winning month.

The Astros success in 2015 has been due to a number of factors. They are playing consistently well in most facets of the game, hitting, pitching and defense. While the team batting average (.240) and on-base percentage (.308) rank near the bottom, their slugging average (.426) ranks near the top of all major league teams. They were the first team in the major leagues to reach 100 home runs and are currently on top with 113. They rank third in the majors and first in the American League in stolen bases with 61 and have scored an average of 4.45 runs per game, ranking sixth in the majors. However, they lead the majors in striking out with 742 which has them on a pace for 1502, slightly less than the major league record of 1535 which the Astros set in the forgettable 2013 season.

Pitching has been surprisingly strong all season. They have allowed 3.73 runs per game and the team ERA is 3.50, ranking 8th in the majors and third in the American League. The bullpen wavered a little in June but the relief pitchers have an ERA of 2.56 for the season, ranking 4th in the majors and behind only Kansas City in the American League. Astro pitchers have allowed only 1.17 walks and hits per inning pitched (WHIP), the best figure in the majors.

The back end of the starting rotation has been a potential problem area but received a shot in the arm with the performance of rookie Lance McCullers who recorded an ERA of 2.11 in his six starts in June. Fellow rookie, Vince Velasquez also showed promise, recording a 3.72 ERA in his four June starts.

Offense in June was up, largely due to the eagerly anticipated arrival of the beginning of the Carlos Correa era. Correa, the number one pick in the 2012 draft, considered by most to be the top prospect in baseball, earned his promotion to the majors with outstanding production in two minor league stops to begin the season. In his first month with the Astros, he batted .287 with 5 home runs, 15 RBIs and 4 stolen bases. On three occasions, he needed only a triple to hit for the cycle.

George Springer had a strong month, batting .321 with 6 home runs. Backup catcher, Hank Conger, also had a strong month batting .310. Luis Valbuena and Chris Carter provided power with 9 and 6 home runs respectively, but both remain below the Mendoza Line at .199 and .197. Jose Altuve slumped early in the month but finished strong on a 9 game hitting streak.

The Astros minor league teams continue to do well. All four of the full season teams have winning records and three are in first place in their divisions. Several prospects have been promoted to higher levels including 2013 No. 1 pick, Mark Appel. However, Appel was hit hard in his first start at AAA Fresno. There was hope that he would be able to help at the major league level this year but his inconsistency now makes it unlikely.

The Astros faced a tough schedule the last two weeks of June with an 8-game road trip west followed by home series against the Yankees and Royals. They split the road trip 4-4 thanks to the luxury of facing the Colorado Rockies batting practice pitchers for two games and also split the Yankee series 2-2. They finished the month with 2 wins against Kansas City.

The going doesn’t get any easier. The Astros began the month of July by finishing the 3-game sweep of Kansas City before leaving on another road trip which takes them to the All-Star break. They will not have another home game until July 17. Unfortunately, they may be without Springer who was hit in the wrist by a pitch in the final game of the Royals series.

Bill Gilbert


The Forever Unfinished Lexicon of Baseball Hits

July 2, 2015
When bat meets ball, so many things may then happen. Over the years, we have never run out of words to describe all the very different results that are potential to that simple fulcrum point of all baseball games.

When bat meets ball, so many things may then happen. Over the years, we have never run out of words to describe all the very different results that are potential to that simple fulcrum point of all baseball games.

The Forever Unfinished Lexicon of Baseball Hits

Baltimore Chop: Originated by the turn of the 20th century Baltimore Orioles, it was a ball that a batter intentionally hit down upon at the plate for the purpose of creating a bounce that was high enough to get him to first before the ball came down and could be thrown to first base in time to beat him out of a single, while advancing all runners. It was a popular strategy when the Orioles had a runner on third base. – Mark Wernick, 7/03/15.

Blue Darter: a streaking fast, freaking hard, almost invisible-to-human sight line drive that usually is only catchable by luck or reflex, especially by pitchers, who see more than their share of these motoring missiles up the middle.

Board Rattler: a hard crashing double or triple that rattles the boards of the outfield fence from the force of its blow.

Can of Corn: just as it metaphorically suggests, it is a lazy fly ball to the outfield that should be as easy to catch as opening a can of corn for the dinner table.

[also] “The phrase [Can of Corn] is said to have originated in the nineteenth century and relates to an old time grocer’s method of getting canned goods down from a high shelf. Using a stick with a hook at the end, the grocer could tip a can so that it would fall for an easy catch in his apron.” –Glossary of Baseball.- Tom Hunter, 7/02/15.

Dribbler: a ball that rolls down the baseline like the last drop of water from your garage apartment kitchen faucet after service at your graduate school pad has just been cut off due to a delinquent utility bill.

Infield Fly: [primary] an infield pop fly with 0 or 1 outs with a runner or runners in force-able position in which the batter is declared out to prevent the infielders from allowing the ball to drop for the sake of starting an easy double play to end the evening. [secondary] When the Astrodome first installed AstroTurf in its infield by sections that zipped into connected contact with each other, Mickey Herskowitz of The Houston Post gave this term its forever much funnier secondary definition. Mickey wrote that “now Houston’s Astrodome has the only built-in, infield fly in professional baseball.”

Infield Fly Rule Clarification: “Bill, that is a nice glossary. Thank you for compiling. I do think the infield fly definition needs additional clarification. As you, and most of your readers know, the infield fly rule applies with less than two out and multiple runners in a force situation – i.e. with runners on first and second or with the bases loaded. It does not apply if there is only a runner on first because it is presumed the batter will reach first base safely if the ball is not caught and therefore no double play will result.” – Tal Smith, 7/02/15.

Line Drive: a hard hit ball, hit on a line, but without the power to reach the wall or leave the park. It may result in either a catchable fly ball or a hit of some kind, dependent upon where it travels, relative to where the defense was playing the batter.

Moon Shot: [primary] a ball hit so high that it often evokes broadcasters into saying something like “this should be an out, if it ever comes down.” [secondary] any home run by former major leaguer Wally Moon.

Pop Fly: the infielder’s version of an outfielder’s can of corn.

Pujols: another variation of the Ruthian Rainbow Drive. This one is hit by an opposing player in the ninth inning and has the effect of crushing the hopes and dreams of the home crowd (though sometimes that effect can be temporary). – Rick B. 7/02/15.

Punch and Judy Hitter: (also a description of the kind of base hit struck by such a batter, i.e., a “punch and judy single”) the term describes a hitter that slaps the ball to all fields with no power. – Mike Mulvihill, 7/02/15.

Rainbow Drive: a Ruthian rainbow arching home run shot that everyone, with the probable exception of Ty Cobb, has enjoyed since Babe Ruth himself made them popular back in the 1920s.

Rammycackled: as when a ball is crushed, usually for long distance or at a great speed. “He rammycackled that ball to deep left field.” Can also be used to describe savagely hit line drives, whether caught or not. – Greg Lucas, 7/02/15.

Rope: a hard hit line drive that leaves the bat on a low, but gradiently ascending trajectory that clears the up-stretched glove of an infielder the size of Jose Altuve before it rapidly reaches and rises over the outfield wall before climbing to its landing spot in the second level deck of the bleachers as a home run. The difference between a rope and an ordinary line drive is easy to describe: Line drives are catchable. Ropes are not.

[also] Dizzy Dean referred to Ropes as “Frozen Ropes”. – Tom Hunter, 7/02/15.

Seeing Eye Single: a ground ball base hit through the infield that seems to happen as the result of this baseball’s power of sight and acute peripheral vision for the sake of avoiding capture on its roll to safety between two crossing infielders.

“Stick a fork in him, he’s done”: bad if you hear that from your opponents dugout while pitching. – Mike Mulvihill, 7/02/15.

Texas Leaguer: a softly hit parabolic fly ball that lands just beyond the reach of a retreating infielder and just short of a catchable reach by a charging in outfielder, and as a result, kissing the grass safely in descent for a base hit.

Toy Cannon Shot: pretty much the same as the Ruthian Rainbow Drive, but former Houston favorite Jimmy Wynn holds the trademark on this one.

Worm Burner: a hard hit ground ball that singes the grass and dirt on its lickety-split g-force journey through the infield to the outfield, and in the process, sizzling all the near surface worms on its heated path.

Wush Pitch: one a pitcher threw up there and wush he hadn’t. – Tom Hunter, 7/02/15.


The above list will do for starters. There are many others, of course. If you care to add any, please leave your favorites by name and definition as comments on this column and, unless they are duplicates of names already on the list, we shall add them to the above Lexicon with credit to you as the contributor. – Just keep it clean and complete with a definition. We will not use bad taste words or descriptive phrases without a coherent definition of what it means.


Some Less Favorable Baseball Rules

July 1, 2015
THE OFFICIAL RULES OF BASEBALL Unless these rules came down Mount Sinai from a Power Far Greater Than Ourselves, perhaps a few could stand some re-writing.

Unless these rules came down Mount Sinai from a Power Far Greater Than Ourselves, perhaps a few could stand some re-writing.

1) The Basis for Awarding Wins to Pitchers. We cannot quote you the exact rules governing wins, but we know the general framework of how it works. A starting pitcher must pitch a minimum of 5.0 complete innings and leave the game with his club holding a lead that they never relinquish to earn the “W” win credit for victory. If the starter’s club then surrenders the lead after his departure, but regains it in time to salvage the win, the “W” is then awarded to the pitcher who was in the game when the lead was regained and nevermore again surrendered.

Here’s the part that bothers me most about this rule, by hypothetical example: A home club starting pitcher could leave a no-hit performance after 8.2 innings because of an injury in a 0-0 tie and be replaced by a reliever who then gives up three consecutive home runs, before he finally gets the third out on a great outfielder catch on a leaping grab over the wall. When the home club then scores four runs in the bottom of the 9th inning to capture the game, the “W” goes to the very ineffective reliever because he was the active pitcher of record when the winning rally concluded. Meanwhile, the starter who worked 8.2 innings of no-run, no-hit ball gets no credit at all.

It probably wouldn’t do any good to change the rule and allow the starter to get the “W” in instances like the one cited in our example, unless baseball, or SABR, wanted to take on the daunting, possibly impossible purgatorial task of re-working all the assignment of “W”s, “L”, “H”s, “Sv”s, etc in MLB history for the sake of maintaining comparative meaningful statistical data – and inevitably being forced somewhere into tinkering with the iconic numbers of so many great Hall of fame pitchers.

So be it. The “W-L” assignments may just have to continue as one of those stats that we take with the largest grain of salt available.

2) When runners reach base on an error and score, or any runner simply scores, both because of an error by the pitcher, why shouldn’t those runs be treated as earned – since it was the pitcher himself who caused them to happen? We have to give reader and baseball researcher and historian “StanFromTacoma” for waking up this ancient call to “baseball rules unfairness” indignation on this old echo. I will stand with Stan on this one by cutting and pasting a comment he left at another column in The Pecan Park Eagle:

“I think a pitcher’s fielding error should count as an earned run. If the pitcher sails his throw over the first baseman’s head I see no reason why the runner who reaches base on that error should not count as an earned run if he eventually scores.” ~ StanFromTacoma, June 26, 2015, comment to The Pecan Park Eagle on the column entitled, “Rule Change Kills Stat Comparisons Over Time”, published June 26, 2015.

What do you think? And are there any other rules that bother you? And last, but probably most importantly, do you think that serious changes in the way the game is scored, merited or not, are worth the damage it does to our ability for comparative statistical analysis of the game’s production over time – and would it even be worth the effort, or even possible, to retroactively adjust past records to conform with what we might hopefully consider as new permanent fairer rules on scoring wins, errors or any other measurable game factor?


Baseball Note from a Simpler Time

June 30, 2015
Base Ball To Day Beeville, Texas By William O. McCurdy 1 Somewhere in Time

Base Ball To Day
Beeville, Texas
By William O. McCurdy I
Somewhere in Time


Beeville Has a Club

Beeville, Texas, June 29. – D.B. Soffold, depot agent for the Gulf, Western Texas and Pacific (RR) at this place, organized a Beeville baseball club yesterday. The club will immediately go into training for the purpose of playing a match game at the Port Lavaca base ball park in about three weeks from (this) date. A big excursion will be run from here to Port Lavaca when the game is played, and Beeville expects to win the championship for Southwest Texas.

~ Houston Daily Post, June 30, 1897 (and most probably excerpted from a local news telegraph transfer report from either, my grandfather, William O. McCurdy’s newspaper, The Beeville Bee, established in 1886, or from  news put forth by The Beeville Picayune, the paper started by the McFarland brothers in Beeville in 1890.)


It was a simpler time, but my birthplace and deep family history in Beeville tells me that our town was good and ready for a local base ball team by 1897. The coastal bend area of South Texas still is home to some ardent baseball fans, ones who will proudly point out that Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan may be claimed by Alvin, Texas, but that nothing will ever change the fact that he came into this world at Refugio, Texas, one of the places the Beeville club may have passed through on their base ball excursion to Port Lavaca.

Without further research, we cannot be sure how all this resolute formation of a Beeville base ball club played out, but we do admire and somewhat envy the simplicity of their championship plans. Forget other regional towns and the problems of keeping a league alive for a full season of league play without all but two or three winning clubs disbanding long before season’s end.  Beeville’s plan, courtesy of depot agent and base ball club organizer D. B. Soffold, was very straightforward and supremely confident: (1) Organize a base ball team from the men who showed up for a meeting to discuss same; (2) Fire them up with rhetoric about their abilities to play winning base ball and how much fun it will be to really stick it to the folks down at Port Lavaca on the bay; (3) Practice for about three weeks after all the livelihood cowboy, farming, and mercantile work was done for the day; (4) Set a game date at Port Lavaca, since their neighbors already had a venue they called a base ball park; (5) Whip up enthusiasm among Beevillians for generating a large excursion of Beeville Base Ball cranks to travel with the club on their road to triumphant destiny in Port Lavaca; (6) Go to Port Lavaca and show them all how the game of base ball is supposed to be played;  (7) After winning at Port Lavaca, declare Beeville to be the undisputed Base Ball Champions of Southwest Texas; (8) Get the word out through the Beeville Bee and Beeville Picayune that other Southwest Texas towns that cared to contest Beeville’s swift ascendancy to the top should make a line to schedule challenge matches; and (9) Cities or towns that wish to join the challenge line that is sure to be there sometime fairly soon after the Beeville @ Port Lavaca match game may do so by telegraphing RR Depot Agent D.B. Soffold in Beeville. And while they are at it, they should inquire of Mr. Soffold about his special Beeville Base Ball Rail Road Excursion rates for parties of 100 or more desiring transportation to Beeville for their town’s turn at the base ball championship challenge.

Nothing could have worked simpler.

And, oh yes! Thanks again to Darrell Pittman for sharing this published news of Beeville’s baseball path with us. The source awakened the muses to the path of presumptuousness that may have taken root from the energy, initiative, and all-out cock-sureness of one small rail road depot clerk who started a late 19th century base ball team in an even smaller town.


Sunday Baseball Lagniappe

June 29, 2015


Astros Have Shot at World Series Record in 2015

If the Houston Astros reach the 2015 World Series, they will become the first franchise in MLB history to reach the World Series as members of both the American and National Leagues.

The Milwaukee Brewers are the only other MLB club with a dual league membership history. The Brewers have been to the World Series twice as AL members, but it doesn’t seem likely from their current residence in the 2015 NLC basement that they are going to finally bag their first NL pennant this year. The City of Milwaukee already is represented in World Series history by AL and NL clubs, but their NL champion was the Braves, not the Brewers.

Milwaukee already is on record as the only one-franchise-at-a-time city in MLB history to have their town’s name registered as World Series champions from both leagues, but by totally different franchises. (Correction: Thanks to Rick B. – My error, I brain-welded the Brewers and Twins in my mind at the moment I was writing and gave Milwaukee credit for the Minneapolis World Series win of 1987. Milwaukee’s only trip to the World Series was in 1982, when they lost to the Cardinals in 7. This truth means that the door remains open only for Washington to become the first “city” with a future chance at winning the World Series in their town’s name as a member of both leagues. As the predecessor of the Minnesota Twins, the AL Washington Senators won in it all in 7 games over the NY Giants in 1924 – and are now eligible to win it as the successor to the Montreal Expos of the NL as the Washington Nationals. Neither Houston nor Milwaukee is in the running to take the dual league “city name” prize as winners from both leagues because both these clubs lost in their only previous tries as members of the opposite league to the present league construction for each circuit.)

Other traditionally simultaneous dual AL/NL cities like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, and St. Louis have all had World Series clubs from both their AL and NL franchises.

None of the other franchises qualify as clubs with dual league membership history. – Thanks again, Bud Selig! You will always be the one who used your own dual seat power as acting commissioner/and club owner back in 1997  to move your Milwaukee Brewers from the AL to the NL, in effect, if not declared as such – “in exchange for an NL franchise to be named later” – and, even though it took the better part of fifteen years to complete, “the club that got named later under new owner’s buying condition pressure from Commissioner Selig was – who else – our Houston Astros!

SABR Was Recognized in Print by The Sporting News for the First Time Back in 1973

Check out his link that friend and fellow researcher Darrell Pittman forward to me. Since Sunday, June 28th, was the rap and go home day from our National Convention in Chicago, this is an especially good time to recognize how much growth our SABR group has experienced in the 42 years that have passed since this fabled TSN ink was spilled in our behalf for the first of many times to come. At our SABR convention here in Houston in 2014, we had an attendance that was three to four times greater than our groups total membership was back in 1973.

What Does the Rule Book Say?

During this afternoon’s 3-1 Astros win over the Yankees, my grown son asked me for a ruling on this hypothetical circumstance:

“If a player hits an ordinary home run and then goes into his normal trot around the bases, what happens if he suddenly realizes about midway to third that he totally missed touching second base? Does he have the right to back-track and touch second base before continuing, or would he be called out for back-tracking and be better off just continuing on his way as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened?”

My answer during the game was: “I don’t know. – I’ve never seen that happen,” but now, hours later, my guess is this one: He would have as much right to retreat as any runner retreating from a captured fly ball, but he would be subject to an “out” call if reached third base and touched it before retreating to second base. On the other hand, if he simply ignores the situation and keeps running, he will be called out when he passes third, if the umpire saw him miss the bag at second. That’s one of the things they pay umpires to watch.

Am I close to being right here? If you know, and you have a rule citation too, please include it in your public comment here.

Please Comment Publicly

While I do appreciate all the private e-mails these columns produce, please consider leaving public comment here whenever possible. I do understand about privacy concerns on so many levels, but there are also many times when some of you simply share good information privately that would be of benefit to everyone. Thanks. – And have a great new week, everybody


Changes in MMP Next Year Go Beyond Cosmetic

June 28, 2015
The loss of Tal's Hill itself is an unfortunate removal of uniqueness from Minute Maid Park, but it is not the biggest concern that many of us fans have for the way this change is going to effect play in 2016.

The loss of Tal’s Hill itself is an unfortunate removal of uniqueness from Minute Maid Park, but it is not the biggest concern that many of us fans have for the way this change is going to effect pitching and play in the park, starting in 2016.

Before we spill too many tears over the loss of Tal’s Hill at MMP next year, we need to consider the larger loss to the way the park plays after this season. So far, all we’ve heard are some fairly unscientific statements about the consequences of bringing in the depth of dead center field from 436 feet to a distance in the 400-405 feet range. We’ve been told that it  “probably will not produce an increase of more than 10 to 12 extra home runs per season,” but we have seen no objective studies to support that postulation.

Wouldn’t it have been a  greater service to truth if the Astros had done a study of how much the game is going to change in the way it harasses pitcher psyches – and the way the game will be played under these new conditions? We may find that we are about to turn one of the truly unique parks in MLB into the biggest bandbox in play. And how ironic! – In a breakthrough talent-coming-of-age season like 2015, and in the middle of all our shared concerns that we need better starting pitching to stay in the chase this year – those things – may not even matter much in 2016, when pitchers who have learned how to use the grand canyon of our current center field no longer have any advantage at all in the new all-sluggers domination park.

Remember the great catch that Colby Rasmus made early in the Yankees game Friday night, as he glided back to take that long drive only a step away from Tal’s Hill? Check out the following map. Next year, and many other times like that one taken by Rasmus, and far more often than 10 to 12 times per season, the ball caught Friday by Colby Rasmus will next year be a home run. If that same Friday night game had been played next year, the score would have been 1-0, Yankees, after Rasmus watched that long drive sail over the wall – and the young pitcher in that new ballpark would have had to start thinking, “If it’s possible, I don’t want to give up fly balls anywhere in this place, if I can help it.

Wish we could have drawn a line like this on the field this year and been able to see and count the number of new home runs and doubles we about to surrender with the new dimensions next year. Even better, if that Astros had drawn that visible line this year to see if we really wanted to bring in the fences for the sake of new revenue streams.

Minute Maid Parl: Wish we could have drawn a line like this on the field this year and been able to see and count the number of new home runs and doubles we are about to surrender with the new dimensions set for next year. Even better, if the Astros had drawn that visible line this year to study if we really wanted to bring in the fences for the sake of new revenue streams, that would have been so cool to watch this year.

Look, I’m really not as naive as I probably sound here. I know and accept that baseball is a business, an expensive business, and that the Astros need to do all they can bear to produce revenues for all the costs that they have to cover. I also accept that we fans are an all-important revenue stream, but that we are not the ones who get the duns from creditors, if the club doesn’t pay their bills. It works that way in my house too – and we all have to do what is important to the security of our own families and businesses, as long as we keep everything honest and ethical. We all have to adjust to change as change becomes necessary for survival.

As fans, we will adjust to the changes that are going to take place, but we cannot guarantee that we are going to be attracted to games which will be decided mostly by who hits the most home runs – and by Astros clubs that are destined now to live and die even more so in the future by the success or failure of their extraordinary annual searches for pitchers with the special ability for inducing ground balls.

On a closer note about this season, hopefully, the Astros will be able to salvage a split in this four game series with a win over the Yankees on Sunday afternoon.


Jimmy Wynn’s YouTube Record of ’67 Cincy HR

June 27, 2015


Thanks to friend and SABR/professional colleague Mark Wernick for sending me the YouTube clip of Jimmy Wynn’s famous monster home run to left field at Crosley Field in Cincinnati years ago, I haven’t seen it in a while, but it is still breathtaking, even through the fuzziness of black and white pictures from the pre-high definition digital days of small screen television tape.

The date was June 11, 1967. The Astros already had beaten the Reds, 7-4, in the first game of a doubleheader and Jimmy Wynn was coming to bat with a man on base against Cincy hurler Sammy Ellis. Jimmy made contact with an Ellis pitch on every single ounce of its sweet spot and it took off from home plate on a high, hard, fast, and electrically charged “fired-from-a-toy-cannon” arc to left field.

But let’s allow Jimmy Wynn to describe the experience as he did in his book, “TOY CANNON: The Autobiography of Jimmy Wynn”:


The ball took off from my bat on a high speeding arc to left field, changing quickly from ball size to pea size to dot size as I watched it disappearing into the afternoon Cincinnati sky. No way has the ballpark held this one, I thought, so I began my trot at a respectful pace around the bases. Before I even reached first base, I heard a moaning rush of ooohs and aaahs, especially from the stadium seats that held a clear view of the area beyond Crosley Field.

What’s it all about?

When I got back to the stunned congratulations of my teammates, I saw that even their eyes held onto a look of awe that cried out for explanation.

“What’s going on, guys?,” I asked. “So I hit a home run, so what?”

“So what?” their eyes seemed to answer in group chorus.

Then I started to get the story, little by little, from everybody there who either saw it happen, or else survived a first-hand hysterical account of the ball’s travels from someone else. The ball not only left the ballpark, apparently, it also left the grounds. It didn’t just stop there either. The ball landed on a freeway that once ran parallel to the left field stands beyond the grounds of Crosley Field. By some magical extra power, it then took a high bounce off the freeway and headed on its way down a street beyond that leads directly nto a nearby neighborhood.

Here’s where the chills I got from this information went way beyond anyone else’s. If these accounts were true, the ball I it found Colerain Avenue, the very street where I grew up, the same street I used to race down as a kid on my way to and from Crosley Field.

No one ever reported finding the ball, but I like to think that it had enough pep left from the corner to travel another three blocks. Wouldn’t that have been something if some other baseball-loving kid then living at 1917 Colerain Avenue in 1967 found the ball I hit that day in Cincinnati?

~ Excerpt from “TOY CANNON: The Autobiography of Baseball’s Jimmy Wynn” by Jimmy Wynn with Bill McCurdy, pp 84-85, McFarland & Company, Jefferson, NC, 2010


Have a nice weekend, everybody! And, come on, Astros, let’s make up for last night’s unfortunate “fat pitch” New York dinger that resulted in our 3-2 Astros loss! – Go Get ‘Em, Guys! Let’s take this afternoon’s game and tomorrow’s wrapper too!


Rule Change Kills Stat Comparisons Over Time

June 26, 2015


Galveston Daily News June 28, 1888 Submitted by Research Associate Darrell Pittman

Galveston Daily News
June 28, 1888
Submitted by Research Associate Darrell Pittman



Philadelphia, Pa., June 27. – John J. Rogers, secretary pf the tthe joint committee on base-ball rules, announces that the committee has unanimously voted to take base on balls from the error column. The base on balls will remain as a factor in earned runs.

~ Galveston Daily News, June 28, 1888


It’s an old winnable argument that we cannot fairly or accurately compare players from one generation to another based upon statistical performances due to changes in the rules that have governed the playing of the game differently from one era to another – and with no no worse examples than any comparison from recent years to the performances of players from the 19th century – when many of the rules were really quite different.

Today’s note on an 1888 rules change on the scoring of walks thatnoted in the Galveston Daily News on June 28th of that year is an excellent case-making example.

Can you imagine a pitcher today with control problems being charged errors for every walk? If the rules governing runs that score after an inning should have ended applied back in early 1888, a wild pitcher could have built a terrible fielding average, but also complied an E.R.A. approaching 0.00 with a landslide of his own B.O.B./errors opening the door for every run that scored would be correctly noted after three walks as “unearned”. Or something like that!

Wonder how they scored “intentional walks” back in 1887, if, indeed, they even engaged in that kind of intellectual mentoring of the game back in the day. If they did, (tongue in check here), would an intellectual walk have been charged to the pitcher as an error, but then reassigned to the manager s an error, if the strategy didn’t work out?

Lucky for those of us living in 2015, the rules governing baseball work pretty darn well today, don’t you think? Now, if we could only reach a universal agreement on the DH rule – and resolve how much scratching and wedgy-rearrangement time batters and pitchers need between pitches, everything might move even closer to Norman Rockwell perfect.



Lawyers: No Wonder Things Are So Screwed Up

June 25, 2015
George Wharton Pepper was the big legal bat for Organized Baseball in the 1921 Anti-Trust Act violation suit posted by Federal League interests in 1921.

George Wharton Pepper was the big legal bat for Organized Baseball in the  Anti-Trust Act violation suit posted by Federal League interests in 1920.

Question: How would you describe a 50-seat bus load of lawyers going off a 500-foot cliff at 80 MPH into the ocean below with 47 seats occupied with these legal eagles?

Answer: The picture described within the question is nothing less than an example of “conspicuous waste”.

Don’t get me wrong. Lawyer guys like Tony Cavender and a few others are some of my best friends and favorite people, but I like oysters too. And some of them have made me awfully sick over the years.

The problem with lawyers is the way they put their legal thoughts into written form as either laws or court room arguments and judicial decisions. By the time that we. the people feel the pain from the gobbledygook the lawyers have written, it is so disconnected from its legal source that we really aren’t sure what just hit us.

And why? Most of the time it’s because people who write in legalese, the language of lawyers, write within their own special context of complexity, trickery, obfuscation, and boredom. For most of us lay people, legalese is too complicated to understand, too boring to keep our interest, or too easy to miss the real meaning in the fine print that is the true intention of the document in the first place. Sort of like the guy who bought a group health insurance policy, but did not find out until he needed to use it that the whole group had to get sick at the same time with the same diagnosis for it to be of any benefit to any single subscriber. – Yes, it was in the fine print of Section 341.4 of Exemption Instances listed in the Benefits Manual Discovery Appendix from the start. The now-out-of-luck sick guy should have read that hard-to-find part before he signed up.

Check out this article that researcher/friend  Darrell Pittman sent me this morning. It’s by a fellow named Gary Hailey and it appears here as “Anatomy of a Murder: The Federal League and the Courts, Part 4.” The earlier parts are traceable through article-internal links provided by the material site.

Anatomy of a Murder: The Federal League and the Courts, Part 4 | Our Game

Before you get lost or tired of reading, please note that Organized Baseball was not given an “exemption” from the federal Anti-Trust Act by these proceedings. What they received was a favorable ruling that baseball, the game, was an event that took place from the first pitch of each contest and then ended with the last out of each separate game. Therefore, baseball did not cross state lines to qualify as interstate commerce, even though it was necessary to transfer players and their equipment across state lines to play each of these separate, but complete games.

How laughable and/or politically biased was that ruling? The whole specious argument falls away with one question: If each individual “game” was all that mattered, why did Organized Baseball bother to keep standings of who won the most games in a singe season and then pair the two clubs with the best records from each league in this annual thing they called “The World Series”?


Try to pay attention to the language used by Organized Baseball attorney George Wharton Pepper in describing his appeal strategy for arguing against the suit by Federal League interests that “OB” was operating in violation of the federal Sherman Anti-Trust Act governing interstate commerce:

I raised at every opportunity the objection that a spontaneous output of human activity is not in its nature commerce, that therefore Organized Baseball cannot be interstate commerce; and that, it not being commerce among the states, the federal statute could have no application….

… [T]he case came on for argument … on October 15th [, 1920]. I mention the date because of the coincidence that on the same day there was being played the final game in the [Dodgers vs. Indians] World Series of that year ….

. . . Counsel for the Federal League made the grave mistake of minimizing the real point in the case (the question, namely whether interstate commerce was involved) and sought to inflame the passions of the Court by a vehement attack upon the evils of [Organized Baseball], a few of which were real and many, as I thought, imaginary. I argued with much earnestness the proposition that personal effort not related to production is not a subject of commerce; that the attempt to secure all the skilled service needed for professional baseball is not an attempt to monopolize commerce or any part of it; and that Organized Baseball, not being commerce, and therefore not interstate commerce, does not come within the scope of the prohibitions of the Sherman [Antitrust] Act.


As a fairly direct aside, we must also ask: Is it in any wonder that the funds most of us have  invested in Social Security over our lifetimes were diverted by Congress for other purposes without us ever knowing about it until after our investments in retirement had been reclassified as an “entitlement” program” of the federal government?

Think about it. And have a nice day, anyway!


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