Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Remembering Red Munger

July 23, 2017

Red Munger


Today marks the 21st anniversary of an important Houston baseball figure’s death.

Twenty-one years ago, on July 23, 1996, native Houstonian George “Red” Munger passed away at home from diabetes at the age of 77.

God Bless the Soul at Rest Today That Still is Remembered and Loved as George “Red” Munger. He was a former Houston Buff

Red had a 10-year MLB history (1943-44, 1945-52, 1956) with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates, posting a career record as a right-handed pitcher of 77 wins, 56 losses, and an ERA of 3.86. His best season records were all achieved as a Cardinal in 1943, when we went 11-3 with a 1.34 ERA; in 1947, when he went 16-5 with a 3.37 ERA; and 1949, when he went 16-8 with a 3.87 ERA. Red also won 152 minor league games, a long road that included time with the Houston Buffs in 1937-38 and a 23-win season for the PCL Hollywood Stars in 1955 at the age of 36.

His biggest moment, however, came in 1946, when Red Munger and lefty Harry Brecheen provided the St. Louis Cardinals with the kind of pitching needed to topple the heavy-hitting Boston Red Sox in a seven-game World Series. – Yes, that’s right. The same kind of pitching we know the Astros may have to overcome in 2017 to keep the same fate from felling our hopes for the 2017 Astros in a short series playoff or World Series situation this fall.

The memory of Red Munger came back strong today through an exchange of comments with Red’s son, David Munger, on another column link about Astros hitting.

Here is the brief column exchange that leads to a comment there that deserves to be a column of honor to the memory of Red Munger here.

Thanks again for the memories, Red Munger! And thanks for the memory jog, David Munger!

Your dad will be special to baseball history forever.

The Comment Sequence

David Munger Says:

The 1946 Red Sox lost in 7 games, Harry Brecheen won 3 games for the Cards and some Houstonian who had been recently discharged from the Army won the other. His name slips me.

David Munger Says:

Bill, I thought you would get a kick out of that. Today is the 21st Anniversary of his death, damn time flies.

Bill McCurdy Says:

That picture I took of your dad, Red Munger, in his Cardinal cap, was taken about a month earlier than his 7/23/96 date of death. His foot was giving him fits on the follow-up day I came back to bring him a copy of the picture, but he was feeling chipper and still loved talking baseball. That last visit was exactly three weeks prior to his death.

When your dad started talking about Eddie Stanky taking over as manager of the Cardinals, it was pretty obvious that Red didn’t waste any Christmas cards on the man, but I had to ask, anyway:

“Red, what did you really think about old Stanky?”

Your dad’s face spread into a wide smile as he relaxed in his easy chair, with hands intertwined before him, staring beyond the room at a memory from a distant past day.

“Old Stanky,” Red finally said. “What a turd he was!” A period of recollection along those lines then followed.

On my previous visit, Red said he wanted me to have his Cardinal cap as a souvenir. I told him I couldn’t take it. Red’s generosity already had cost him a lot to professionals who had mined his generosity and acquired whatever he once kept as original uniforms from his playing career.

There’s got to be a special place in hell for those people who take advantage of older people and, now that I’m actually in Red’s old age neighborhood, I feel even more strongly about it.

Anyway, I accepted the cap because Red wanted me to have it and I knew it was only a reproduced version of the ’46 Cardinals cap.

He still wouldn’t sign it for me. Said “I’m not going to mess up a perfectly good wearable cap by writing on it,” so, we settled for me taking that picture of him.

In fact, I had brought Red a copy of that picture and one to sign for me on what turned out to be our last visit in the short time I had the good fortune of knowing him. Being as I am, and as things turned out, it’s also why I eventually wanted you have the cap your dad gave away and that special red-frame version copy of the last Red Munger photo.

God bless Red Munger on this special day! And may God Bless You, David, and all the other Mungers who had the good fortune of having this good man as your father from childhood through your latter years.


Bill McCurdy


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle


AL Batting Average Leaders 07/22/17

July 23, 2017

Marvelous Marwin Gonzalez
“The Man That Makes Things Happen!”




1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 369 130 27 2 14 .352
2 JEAN SEGURA SEA 295 98 18 0 6 .332
3 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 359 118 30 5 17 .329
4 BEN GAMEL SEA 293 94 19 2 6 .321
5 CARLOS CORREA HOU 325 104 18 1 20 .320
NR * MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 253 80 16 0 18 .316
6 ERIC HOSMER KC 364 114 20 1 14 .313
7 AARON JUDGE NYY 336 105 13 3 32 .313
8 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 365 114 22 0 27 .312
9 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 327 102 17 3 13 .312
10 DUSTIN PEDROIA BOS 318 99 16 0 6 .311
11 COREY DICKERSON TB 376 117 27 3 18 .311
13 JOSH REDDICK HOU 295 90 23 3 9 .305
19 YULI GURRIEL HOU 325 97 27 0 13 .298
NR * EVAN GATTIS HOU 209 61 16 0 10 .292


ASTRO~NOTES: With the rise of Evan Gattis to a BA of .292, the Astros now have seven starters, including the DL assigned Carlos Correa, hitting .292 or better. Gonzalez and Gattis both lack the number of AB’s needed to qualify them, otherwise, the Astros would fill six of the twenty spots open in the American League’s very top spots, with C/DH Gattis also now making noise as though he expected to join them soon. …. Bland expressions can be deceiving. The poker-face of Marwin Gonzalez, for example, is nothing less than a mask for the volcanic trigger finger that this man’s soul holds and usually pulls in the Astros’ most dramatic moments of need. When he came into Saturday nights’ game in relief of the injured Colin Moran and blasted that 3-run dinger that regained the lead from the Orioles, I almost wanted to see the baseball god’s script who wrote that little fun into the game for us. It also made me think of an historic moment that awaits the Astros in both the playoffs and the World Series. Each projected instance is a game to be remembered by future generations as clearly as the Mazeroski blast is forever recalled in Pittsburgh.

Let’s zoom straight away to Games 7 of the World Series. It’s the Dodgers and Astros at Minute Maid Park – and Dallas Keuchel versus Clayton Kershaw for all the marbles. Both star pitchers are so much on top of their games that it almost feels like a cultural mist from the 1930’s has rolled into the open-roof Halloween night coolness of the ballpark and turned the place into a throwback competition between Lefty Grove and Lefty Gomez. Nobody’s going anywhere – and not many batters are reaching base. Each team has a couple of singles going into the bottom of the 9th. Keuchel has 10 punch-outs and Kershaw has 13. Neither man has walked a single batter and nobody’s tired.

Relief? Forget about it. Both men are rubber-armed strong. The way bodies used to be.

Then something strange happens. After Kershaw quickly fans Gattis and Bregman for the the first two outs in the bottom of the 9th – and his 14th and 15th K in the game, Nori Aoki is due up, but maybe not. Hinch is making a change. And why not? Aoki is going for his fourth K of the day if he repeats here and Hinch wants no part of that possibility. Hinch is pinch hitting the impassive-looking Marwin Gonzalez for Aoki.

Dallas Keuchel takes a quiet tired-looking glance at the change. Is he also hoping what we are all hoping?

Of course he is. He simply can never admit it. Bu that’s OK. There’s no time here to waste on angst and clubhouse honesty codes.

ON-THE-VERY-FIRST-PITCH-FROM KERSHAW, Marwin Gonzalez takes a Ruthian cut at an untypical Dodger Ace directive. It arrives as a fastball in the mistakenly center of the plate at 96 mph.

And it absorbs instant wooden contact with Marwin’s quick-eye club and departs from home plate toward left center field at 110 mph.

The ball climbs the sky as though there really is a stairway to heaven. It leaves the building, still ascending as it crosses Crawford – and it rises high up against the wall of the luxury apartments across the street. Lights flicker on and off briefly in a couple of the windows impacted by the force of Gonzalez’s blast – as the briefly hushed cardio-condition of the crowd seems to hold it all inside until they too see the ball caroming into our neighbor’s wall.

The roar that follows far exceeds anything The Lion King may have once upon a time imagined for himself.


If you like that movie, keep playing the movie from the point we’ve descriptively reached here. As far as we are concerned, nobody deserves to have that moment any more than “Marvelous Marwin”!


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Astros Now Have Six .300 Hitters, Thanks to Yuli

July 22, 2017

Yulie Gurriel got his lucky head of hair massaged again last night in Baltimore.


Yuli Gurriel’s big 4 for 5 game in last night’s 8-7 Friday opener win over the Orioles in Baltimore finally has pushed the Astros into having six legitimate .300 plus hitters on their roster for the first in history at this point in any previous MLB baseball season. Unfortunately, Correa (.320) is now on the long-term DL with hand ligament surgery and Gonzalez (.311) still lacks the “AB” totals he needs to be ranked. Otherwise, the Astros could have had six .300 hitters, all ranked among the Top 18 in the American League, all starting at the same time.



1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 364 128 27 2 14 .352
2 JEAN SEGURA SEA 290 98 18 0 6 .338
3 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 356 116 30 5 17 .326
4 CARLOS CORREA HOU 325 104 18 1 20 .320
5 BEN GAMEL SEA 288 92 18 2 5 .319
6 ERIC HOSMER KC 362 114 20 1 14 .315
7 COREY DICKERSON TB 372 117 27 3 18 .315
8 AARON JUDGE NYY 332 104 13 3 31 .313
9 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 323 101 17 3 13 .313
10 t DUSTIN PEDROIA BOS 315 98 16 0 6 .311
10 t GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 360 112 22 0 27 .311
NR * MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 251 78 15 0 17 .311
14 JOSH REDDICK HOU 290 88 22 3 9 .303
18 YULI GURRIEL HOU 320 96 27 0 12 .300


Last night was the first time I’ve noticed Yuli Gurriel wearing glasses during a game and, if anything was said about it, I didn’t hear. All I know is what I see and hear. And what I’ve been seeing in Gurriel is a guy who studies the pitchers as closely as they seem to study him. Rarely does a pitcher get Gurriel to make the same mistake twice in the same game – and never, in my observations of him, twice in the same time at bat. And he can hit with power – or spray the ball to any part of the field the defense is leaving open. What a cool guy to have in the lineup – at any place in the lineup. He, nor can anyone else, can really make up for the absence of Carlos Correa in our game, but he is sure helping to make the pain of that more bearable.

With the collapse of the pen in the 9th, Yuli Gurriel is one of five names that jump to mind as last night’s saviors of a game our beleaguered relief staff almost gave away at the very end. The first, of course, was Mike Fiers, whose 1 run allowed over 7 innings was the flat-out welcomed rarity of “good pitching gone deep.” The next was Yuli Gurriel, who also kicked in an early HR and 2 RBI as big payoffs from his 4 hits – and then rookie call up Colin Moran, whose triple and 8th inning HR accounted for 2 RBI – and Brian McCann, whose 6th inning solo shot proved itself as yet another measurable difference maker in the end.  – And finally, thank you, Ben Giles, for throwing that punch-out dagger with two already down in the 9th. The sigh of relief you brought to us last night was wonderful.


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle


Opportunity vs Security: Baseball’s Best Example

July 21, 2017


It is now an old and treasured story in baseball history.

On the morning of September 28, 1941, young Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox is waking up to a big decision he soon faces at Shibe Park in Philadelphia. It is the final day of the baseball season and the Red Sox will be facing the Athletics in a quirky final afternoon doubleheader against the home club Athletics.

There’s not much at stake for the two teams getting ready to hum the final bars of the 1941 season in the City of Brotherly Love. The A’s already are death-rattled tied to 8th place and cellar-locked to finish 37 games behind the usual champion New York Yankees. The Boston Sox also have 2nd place cinched, but they will wrap the season a full 17 games back of the Yankees.

So what’s the big deal for young Mr. Williams?

Ted is sitting on a decision that Boston manager Joe Cronin is leaving up to his young star.

Williams goes into the final day double bill with 179 hits in 448 times at bat. That’s good enough to give him a batting average of .39955, one that mathematically rounds into a .400 batting average for the 1941 season. With no other player challenging him on the last day for the batting title, “Teddy Ballgame” can sit out both games and take home the rounded-off rare .400 batting mark as the jewel in the crown of his latest and largest early career batting accomplishment.

There apparently is never any doubt in young Ted Williams’ mind about he wants – and what he doesn’t want. And it is a decision we all have to make about many things in life, albeit, with few exceptions, about large and small choices in which we have to pick between security and opportunity.

The Security<->Opportunity Continuum. What is this thing? Its roots are much deeper in philosophy, but they also are early 20th century ancient to the specialized field of industrial psychology. The Security<->Opportunity Continuum boils down to these simple building blocks:

  1. In life, security and opportunity represent the polar extremes that govern everything we desire from work, home, lifestyle, money, and aspiration.
  2. If we only want security, we will gravitate toward career situations in which our well-being or salary are guaranteed by some form of standardized education or expectation.
  3. If we only want opportunity, we will gravitate toward career situations in which our rewards stem from the opportunity for individual accomplishment.
  4. Security need extremists often become successful as government bureaucrats or corporate 9-5 minions at fixed rate salaries.
  5. Opportunity need extremists incline themselves toward the development of their highly special skills as performers, athletes, entrepreneurs, or inventors.
  6. Most of us find our own balance points of need for security and opportunity somewhere in the middle.
  7. To make our peace with our own balance of needs, however these may shift, one way or the other, over time, we simply have to first make our peace with the fact that we are riding on a continuum that dictates this transient truth as well: If we have to have 100% security, we have to understand that it comes with 0% opportunity – and vice versa.

The Ted Williams Sec<->Opp Assessment for the Morning of September 28, 1941: Ted Williams wasn’t interested in finishing the season with a batting championship that rounded off to a batting average of .400. Had he needed any of that security, he would have stayed in the dugout for both of the two final games.

No. Williams wanted the opportunity to post a legitimately over-the-top .400 batting championship for 1941. And, boy, did he get it!

The following table shows in three rows how totally Williams was committed to opportunity in his last day doubleheader performance. It shows what Williams could have settled for in the first row, had he made his game of 9/27/1941 his last game of the season. Next it illustrates how he elevated things by going 4 for 5 in Game 1 of the 9/28/1941 doubleheader. Then it concludes with how he finished the season in Game 2 on the same date with a 2 for 3 performance:

Ted’s Last Day of the 1941 Season

9/27/1941 4 1 448 179 .39955 .400
9/28/1941 G1 5 4 453 183 .40397 .404
9/28/1941 G2 3 2 456 185 .405701 .406

As long as we are traveling this profile of Ted Williams as one of the most daring opportunists in baseball history, it’s also interesting to note a bookend irony to the Williams story. Whereas, the young Ted Williams had no interest in ending the 1941 season early in protection of his “rounded up” .400 batting average, the retiring Ted Williams of 1960 actually ended his final season a series early after hitting a home run in his final time at bat in his last game at Fenway Park, exactly nineteen years later, on September 28, 1960.

Once Williams hit his celebrated 8th inning goodbye 29th homer of the season off Orioles reliever Jack Fisher, the Red Sox rallied for two more runs in the bottom of the 9th to defeat Baltimore by 5-4 and send Ted off to a final series in New York with nothing left to gain or lose.

In 1960, Williams elected to quit while he was ahead, and to allow his last shining moment in Boston be everyone’s last memory of his final big league game and home run. He didn’t even make the team trip to New York for the last three games. In 1941, Williams had refused to sit out the last game for the sake of security. This time he would refuse to play for the sake of service to opportunity. He couldn’t tip his cap to the fans, but he definitely wanted them to have their best opportunity for remembering him – as he wanted to be remembered, and not because of some long lurking security need. A security based star would have milked that last home run in Boston like the cash cow it never was for Ted Williams. Even then.

Some ancient baseball stories are like great fine wine. They do get better with age. Especially as the truth clears.


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle



Strange Probabilities and Top 10 Hitters

July 20, 2017

July 17, 1914:

For further information on the longer list and other stats, check out the ESPN link for yourselves. It’s usually up-to-date by the mornings following each date of games played:



Through Games of Wednesday, July 19, 2017:

1 Jose Altuve HOU 360 127 27 2 14 .353
2 Jean Segura SEA 280 97 18 0 6 .346
3 Jose Rameriz CLE 352 114 29 5 17 .324
4 Carlos Correa HOU 325 104 18 1 20 .320
5 Ben Gamel SEA 279 89 16 2 5 .319
6 Avisail Garcia CWS 319 100 17 3 13 .313
7 Aaron Judge NYY 327 102 13 3 30 .312
8 Eric Hosmer KC 356 111 20 1 13 .312
9 Starlin Castro NYY 308 96 14 1 12 .312
10 Dustin Pedroia BOS 306 95 16 0 5 .310


HYPOTHETICAL IMPROBABILITIES: Changes or other rare and unusual facets in the rules of baseball over time have produced some almost non-existent probabilities that still remain with us, nevertheless, as possibilities.

Example # 1: It already happened in an All Star Game back in the 1940s, I think, but I do not recall the exact instance at print time here. – A pitcher was called into a game with men on base in a tie game with two outs. Before he threw a single pitch to his first batter, he picked the runner off first base to retire the side. His club then scored a run for a lead they would never surrender and he was replaced the very next inning on the mound. He wound up getting the win credit, however,  as the pitcher of record when the lead run scored, even though he never threw a single pitch in the game. – If you can cite the instance in which this rarity occurred, or if you know of any other times it actually has happened, please share that knowledge with the rest of us in the comment section that follows this column. Thanks.

Example # 2: Because of the DH, it is now possible for a really good hitter to earn his way into the Hall of Fame over a career in which he never plays a single defensive pitch in the field. As more of these types now emerge as possibilities over time, the more the probabilities ascend that some of us will live to see this one happen in our lifetimes.

Example # 3: This last one’s hope of ever happening only lives on as a technical possibility. With the recent change that allows a batter to take first base by a wave of the umpire’s hand, it is possible that some new player may come along at any time and have one of those “Eddie Gaedel Single Time At Bat Careers” in which he reaches base on an intentional walk, thus becoming the first player in history to be recorded as a legitimate former major leaguer, but one who never saw a pitched ball on offense or defense.

Ouch! That’s enough for one day!


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle


Thru July 18, 2017: Top 10 AL Batting Averages

July 19, 2017



February 1909: “EXTRA! ~ EXTRA!


According to ESPN, here’s the list of the qualifying Top Ten American League hitters by Batting Average for games played through the date indicated in this column title.Because of our interest in Jose Altuve and a handful of others that may have a shot at this still auspicious annual hitting accomplishment, The Pecan Park Eagle will try to present an up-to-date picture of this race as often as possible for the rest of the season – in addition to our other presentations. We regret that Carlos Correa will almost certainly lose his opportunity to qualify for any chance at the title because of the lost times at bat that are going to start piling up during his time on the DL, but, sadly, that’s how this old game works over the long season of even the most promising careers. A few other things in life work out the same way, even for those who’ve never picked up a baseball – or even heard of one.

For further information on the longer list and other stats, check out the ESPN link for yourselves. It’s usually up-to-date by the mornings following each date of games played:


Through Games of Tuesday, July 18, 2017:

1 Jose Altuve HOU 356 125 27 2 14 .351
2 Jean Segura SEA 276 95 18 0 6 .344
3 Jose Rameriz CLE 348 112 29 5 17 .322
4 Ben Gamel SEA 275 88 16 2 4 .320
5 Carlos Correa HOU 325 104 18 1 20 .320
6 Avisail Garcia CWS 316 100 17 3 13 .316
7 Eric Hosmer KC 353 111 20 1 13 .314
8 Aaron Judge NYY 326 102 13 3 30 .313
9 Starlin Castro NYY 304 94 14 1 12 .309
10 Corey Dickerson TB 364 112 26 3 17 .308

Astro Notes: Jose Altuve used another 3-hit game to reclaim the AL BA lead from Seattle’s Jean Segura in their clubs’ second series game against each other in Houston. Carlos Correa at .320 still owns the #5 spot for now, while Josh Reddick (#12, .306) and George Springer (#14, .304) hang in there with chances to move up on a hot streak or two. Marwin Gonzalez‘s current .310 would be good enough for the #9 spot here, but apparently he needs a few more AB’s to qualify. With Correa’s long absence now upon us, those extra times at bat for Marwin are sure to come, if he also can stay healthy. – Yulie Gurriel (#18, .295) got a brief squint of .300 from the .299 ledge earlier this week, but he then slipped back a mite. He’s still a good bet to make .300 before this battle is done. He hits smart and he hits hard. I really like the guy.

(I used to love reading this kind of stuff in both The Sporting News and the Post WWII Houston Post. Now I’m finding that I enjoy doing these kinds of pieces too. Hope you get something enjoyable out of it too.)


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

0ld Fashioned Stats Still Shine

July 18, 2017

Jose Altuve fell to 2nd place in the AL batting average race last night to Seattle’s Jean Segura.


As one who grew up playing and following baseball during the Holy Grail .300 batting average adoration era, Mickey Mantle’s sorrow over the slippage of his career BA at the the end to .298 was my shared, over-identified grief with his disappointment. “.300” always rode hard as the bottom line on greatness for hitters back in the day, especially for guys who received their first nose-sniffing taut for the Hall of Fame as an 18 year old first-time camper with the New York Yankees.

The baseball gods forgot to tell the irrigation system at Yankee Stadium that its nozzles should not be high-enough, quick-enough, or powerful-enough to bring down a comet from Commerce, Oklahoma on its first fly by a Yankee World Series game. The injury to Mantle on the famous “Pardon me, Mr. DiMaggio” play in the 1951 World Series undoubtedly stands as the major reason that Mickey missed out on .300 as a career batting average achievement. Playing too long did it, as did lifestyle probably contribute, but even those issues alone were not the real measurable BA stat killers. The assassins were the loss of running speed that would have turned so many close outs into hits over time.

Without the presence of those missing hits, Mantle wasn’t dropping to .300 when he played probably four seasons too many. He was dropping from too near .300 to escape its ultimate loss.

On the larger subject of the batting average and its value to building a great team, I still believe what I believed as a kid when my weekly copy of The Sporting News arrived in the mail.

Each week, for the longest time, I would use the weekly reported batting average stats to pick my favorite current All Star teams for the American and National Leagues. My base consideration was the .300 batting average. I looked at power hitting through doubles, triples, HR, and slugging average. I looked at stolen bases as an indicator of speed. I paid attention to runs and RBIs as indicators of production. I looked at BB/K ratios as indicators of the batter’s skill to work the strike zone. And, of course, I was most forgiving of big HR hitters with high K rates.

Want to have some fun, maybe? Below is the current list of Top Twenty Hitters in the American League, through all games of July 17, 2017. If you wish to try, see how deep you can go into an eight-man position and one DH lineup for the AL stars using the players and these stats as your first choices. You may have to drop below .300 to fill the club out in some cases, but that’s OK.

Just remember. It’s all in fun. As it always used to be, when we were kids. I’m betting we can still put together s club based on the fundamental baseball stats that will compete favorably with any of the new geek squad analytic offerings.

American League Top Twenty Batting Averages

Through Games of Monday, July 17, 2017:

1 Jean Segura SEA 272 95 18 0 6 .349
2 Jose Altuve HOU 352 122 27 2 14 .347
3 Jose Rameriz CLE 344 112 29 5 17 .326
4 Ben Gamel SEA 271 87 16 2 4 .321
5 Carlos Correa HOU 325 104 18 1 20 .320
6 Avisail Garcia CWS 313 98 17 3 13 .313
7 Eric Hosmer KC 349 109 20 1 13 .312
8 Corey Dickerson TB 260 112 26 3 17 .311
9 Aaron Judge NYY 322 100 13 3 30 .311
10 Starlin Castro NYY 304 94 14 1 12 .309
11 Dustin Pedroia BOS 296 91 15 0 4 .307
12 Josh Reddick HOU 280 86 21 3 9 .307
13 Trey Mancini BAL 273 83 15 1 14 .304
14 George Springer HOU 349 106 21 0 27 .304
15 Michael Brantley CLE 265 79 17 1 5 .298
16 Yuli Gurriel HOU 309 92 26 0 11 .298
17 Xander Bogaerts BOS 338 100 20 4 6 .296
18 Jose Abreu CWS 357 105 24 3 16 .294
19 Jonathan Schoop BAL 335 98 24 0 18 .293
20 Nelson Cruz SEA 312 91 17 0 20 .292


PS: Marwin Gonzalez’s .308 BA (69 for 124) was not considered enough times at bat to qualify him. Otherwise, he would have ranked #11. Feel free to use Marwin on your picks, if you decide to build s team. And, if you do, please share your picks in the comment section. We always used Innings Pitched, Complete Games, 3.00 ERA or less, and strong SO/K ratios to pick starting pitchers. We simply did not research the Top 20 AL Pitchers for this little exercise.


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

When You’re Smiling! When You’re Smiling!

July 18, 2017

AT&T SportsNet Astros Baseball Telecasters
Geoff Blum (L) and Todd Kalas
Prior to Game One of the Mariners@Astros Series
July 17, 2017


As pictured above, the visible, but largely silent guffaw on the face of Todd Kalas was an immediate reaction to the following amicable greeting exchange of words with partner Geoff Blum. Kalas had not worked the previous Astros home series with Minnesota, as Blum’s friendly biting wit duly notes.


Todd Kalas: “Hi, Everybody, welcome! – Todd Kalas alongside Geoff Blum, to another night of Astros baseball on AT&T Sports Net, and Blummer, when you look at this home stand, it was a nice way to kick things off with a series win over Minnesota.”

Geoff Blum: “First of all, you look at it. – Welcome back!”

Todd Kalas: (the mostly silent guffaw, as Blummer closes his eyes and almost smiles.)


Someone I greatly respect recently reminded me of what legendary broadcaster Ernie Harwell used to say about team broadcasters taking time off while their clubs were still playing regular season games. To paraphrase Harwell, he  said, “days off for baseball broadcasters are what the off-season is for.”

I’m with Harwell on this one.


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over, But …

July 17, 2017

“Hey, Astro fans! Sometimes the easiest way to get the name of the best team in baseball is to go to the sports pages and check out the standings and read the name of the team that’s on top.”
~Ghost of Yogi Berra


It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over, But … as a probability, first place in the AL West is pretty much decided now, as of all the games completed through Sunday, July 16, 2017.

The Houston Astros, at 32 games above .500 ball are, in fact, the only team playing on the sunny side of .500 going into the games of Monday, July 17th.

The following standings reflect all games completed through Sunday, along with the column tabs on how many game already have been played (GP) and how many games remain for play on each club’s schedule for 2017 (GR):

ASTROS 62 30 .674 92 70
MARINERS 46 47 .495 16.5 93 69
RANGERS 45 46 .495 16.5 91 71
ANGELS 46 49 .484 17.5 92 70
ATHLETICS 42 50 .457 20.0 92 70

To better present the picture in easy-to-see math, let’s assume that the Astros only play .500 ball over the course of their remaining 70 games (GR). As improbable as that slight accomplishment is, .500 ball the rest of the way still would allow the Astros to add 35 games to each of their current win and loss columns of 62 and 30, providing the post-season Astros with a complete regular season record of 97 wins, 65 losses, and a winning percentage of .599.

So, if the Astros finish at 97-75, one or more of the other four ALW clubs would then have to win enough games from their variable remaining games to reach a final total of 98 wins, and in so doing, beat the Astros for first place by one game, with a record of 98-74.

Our second table reflects how unlikely that shall be, based upon what they’ve all shown us so far. We’re talking leaps and bounds above .500 ball by the same four teams that have shown significant trouble even reaching up to the bar of .500 ball mediocrity.

If the Astros go .500 from here, what the others would need to overtake them:

MARINERS 46-47 69 Go 52-17
RANGERS 45-46 71 Go 53-18
ANGELS 46-49 67 Go 52-15
ATHLETICS 42-50 70 Go 56-14

Using our first team for greater clarity on the chart, this table carries forth the hypothetical idea that, if the Astros only play .500 ball the rest of the way, they will finish with 97 wins, making 98 the number that each of the other clubs would need to beat them out of 1st place by one win, assuming, also, that all teams play out their full 162 game schedules.

Example: That means the 46-47 Mariners would have to go 52-17 in their final 69 remaining games to beat out the Astros for 1st place in the AL West.

Ad nauseum, variably, with the other three divisional clubs.

It ain’t over ’til it’s over, but, the Astros finishing first in the AL West is looking more and more like the closest thing to a sure thing by the day. Not so sure is – all that other stuff that happens in baseball, like the impact of old and new injuries, losing a short series to dead arms, tired bats, weird slumps among the hitting stars, or crazy bounces – like that grounder that Tony Sipp accidentally slapped into right field for a Minnesota two-spot scoring play in Saturday’s game. Had Sipp not deflected it, Altuve probably could have stopped one of those runs from scoring.

Hang on to your caps, Astros fans. Enjoy, but remember. Until that third out cat is finally in the bag of the last championship trail game, that there are always still some big thorns hiding in the shade of those rapidly sprouting rose bushes that we are all now beginning to sense and scent in so many long and overdue jubilant ways.


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

The Turk at Work: Balls That Talked Trash

July 16, 2017


The preceding historical reprint is an excerpt from the July 21, 1962 New Orleans Times-Picayune.

1962, of course, was the first season of the new Houston MLB club and Richard “Turk” Farrell was only doing what he was prone to do anytime he saw half a crack in the door of opportunity for fun and mischief at someone else’s expense.

Thank you, Darrell Pittman, for another wonderful research contribution to the body and soul of The Pecan Park Eagle.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle