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Passing Zone Ahead: Major Milestones

There is a saying that goes something like “Rules are meant to be broken”… er, that’s not the quote I wanted to apply to A-rod…

“Records are made to be broken”. There that’s the quote I was looking for. And breaking records Arod is trying to do prior to his unbelievable contract expiring in New York.

ARod passed Willie Mays for 4th all-time on the career HR list with his homer on May 7th (He has 3 since then for a total of 664, or 98 behind Bonds). And then 20 days later (May 37), ARod passes Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig for 3rd all-time on the career RBI list at 1995 RBI (only 302 more to go to break Hank Arron’s all-time record).

Steroid asterisk aside, its always incredible and jaw dropping to see records be broken or nearly broken. To be a sports fan witnessing history just makes for great story telling. I can remember the McGwire/Sosa home run chase and watching the game live when McGwire send a line drive out of the park to break the record (against Sosa and the Cubs no less). Then a few days later, Ripken ended his Ironman streak at 2632 games played. A few years later, I watched Bonds break the McGwire mark with 71 homers in a season followed by breaking the Hank Arron 756 home run mark.

When the Brewers were bad (similar to this season), I can remember even cheering on Jose Hernandez to break the single season strikeout record as a hitter (which Mark Reynolds has destroyed since then). He promptly benched himself 1 shy of the record for like 4 out of the last 5 games so that he wouldn’t be cheered for when striking out.

Good times down memory lane. But let’s look ahead to the future. What players should you be paying attention to this season as they near significant MLB milestones.

  • Alex Rodriguez:
    • 3000 hits – Projected June 20th. Currently at 2982 hits.
    • 8th All-time Runs Leader – Projected June 1. Currently at 1947 runs. 3 away from overtaking Stan Musial.
  • Albert Pujols:
    • 17th All-time Home Run Leader – Projected June 27th. Currently at 529. 6 away from overtaking Jamie Foxx.
    • 20th All-time Doubles Leader – Projected July 3rd. Currently at 568 doubles. 7 away from overtaking 20th place.
    • 16th All-time Home Run Leader – Projected July 9th. Currently at 529. 8 away from overtaking Mickey Mantle.
    • 19th All-time Doubles Leader – Projected July 30th. Currently at 568 doubles. 11 away from overtaking Wade Boggs.
    • 18th All-time Doubles Leader – Projected August 27th. Currently at 568 doubles. 16 away from overtaking Robin Yount.
    • 17th All-time Doubles Leader – Projected September 8th. Currently at 568 doubles. 18 away from overtaking Rafael Palmeiro.
    • 15th All-time Home Run Leader – Projected September 20th. Currently at 529. 20 away from overtaking Mike Schmidt.
  • David Ortiz:
    • 20th All-time Doubles Leader – Projected October 2nd. Currently at 555 doubles. 20 away from overtaking 20th place.
  • Ichiro Suzuki:
    • 38th All-time Steals Leader – Projected July 28th. Currently at 490 SB. 6 away from overtaking Willie Keeler.
    • 3000 Hits – Projected early 2016 season. Currently at 2876 hits.

No News, Old News, And New News

Wow… A MONTH! A month without any news from the greatest commissioner.

I know you were worried based on all the concerned emails, comments, and tweets I received. No need to fret. Yours truly is A-OK. But now that football is returning and having already completed 2 fantasy drafts with 2 to go (yep, sold my soul to the football devil), I have reunited with my one-true-love… Baseball (after my wife of course).

I didn’t ever turn my shoulder on baseball these year. I only gave the cold shoulder to blogging about it. So let’s recap what has been on my mind and not shared with you, the Sultans of Swat. The Free Swinger Groupies. The Juggernaut Jury. The Royal Family of Cork. The Blog’s Fans.

Here comes a long winded rant:

    Umps are profiling all TB pitchers (AP)

  • Did a pitcher really get thrown out for too much pine tar? I can’t remember the last time pine tar was even relevant since the great pine tar incident of 1983 (That event was very interesting, I highly recommend all baseball fans read how it ends). What is funny with Peralta is that he got called out, was found guilty, booted from the game, and then Joe Maddon was allowed to investigate one opposing team’s pitcher. The National’s pitcher was clean and then Fernando Rodney came in to save the game for TB but made sure to walk to the mound with his hands up and glove between his legs… hilarious.
  • I’ve started my application process to trademark “This is a Clown Competition, Bro.” If Bryce wasn’t already in line to make millions, he will now be taking his smart ass mouth all the way to the bank. Really? A 19-year old phenom who hasn’t figured out how to keep his swagger alive since the All-Star break is going to trademark a phrase he gave to a Canadian reporter. I’ll keep you all posted on when the “This is a Clown Competition, Bro” shirts will hit the KoC merchandise store.
  • As if Jim Thome hasn’t made enough cash in his career, he got a $5K bonus check from teammate Papelbon for getting Papelbon off the hook for a blown save. I’m still waiting for my $5K check from my co-workers for getting them out of a tight deadline. You still think athletes aren’t overpaid?
  • Mike Trout deserves to win Rookie of the Year and MVP at the age of 21. He is a stud… enough said.
  • Umps do not have the easiest jobs in the world. On any close play, he upsets hundreds of people (players, coaches, fans) regardless of which way the call goes. But it seems umps are missing the easy calls this season. Really, Really, Really easy calls. First, the Helton play where Helton missed first base by more than 3 feet. Then, Carlos Santana (the catcher, not the singer) gets called safe when he was obviously walking into second base. But then came the worst when Dewayne Wise came from the stands with NO BALL IN HIS GLOVE. But some how he still got the catch, and more importantly, the third out. These all bring to mind the popular Little League chant “I’m Blind, I’m Deaf, I want to be a Ref”.
  • Seattle’s Safeco field is a great place to watch a baseball game. The stadium is new. The fans and people of Seattle are friendly. The garlic fries are AMAZING. I had the opportunity to enjoy this great stadium and great city this season (and almost had a chance for Big Papi’s 400th career HR which fell just short of my front row seats in RF). I highly, highly recommend a trip to the city of Seattle and if you happen to be in town while the Mariners, Seahawks, or Sounds are playing, I recommend catching a game in the city’s great sports complex. I had only two disappointments in Seattle: there fan support for the Mariners is lacking (especially on a night I saw King Felix pitch). And the stadium could have been built with an amazing view (the architects must have had a hangover when they put the walls up to hide the mountains).
  • Whatever happened to good cartoons? No wonder why most of our kids are brain washed. They don’t get to enjoy great cartoons like Tiny Toons, Garfield and Friends, Scooby Doo, Anamaniacs, Sonic, Transformers, Duck Tales, Darkwing Duck, Felix the Cat, Inspector Gadget, and the list goes on. Are there even cartoons on after school or on Sunday morning anymore? Instead kids are stuck watching crap like Judge Judy, Rachel Ray, Jerry Springer, or Maury.
  • Did Atlanta really sign Ben Sheets the man with the glass arm? Sheets has only pitched over 160 innings in a single season 4 times in his 10 year career (being a Brewer fan, that seems like a lot) and is trying to come back from his second tommy john in 4 years. His last comeback failed in Oakland but Sheets looked amazing in his first 5 starts for Atlanta (giving up only 5 earned runs). Then, someone threw a rock at his glass arm and we now see the Sheets we all know… the one sitting on the DL.
  • I’m in the middle of a major home renovation project and I’m still looking for my retirement fund in the walls. Seriously, where do these people keep finding this hidden gems. $3 Million in pristine baseball cards… ok, they may have exaggerated a bit in the first story.
  • Do you know how bad ass Brian Wilson is? He is dating a Sasquatch.
  • Baseball is known as the child’s game that adults get paid to play. Well, some of the players are still kids at heart and that makes them some of the most loved in baseball. Adam LaRoche (star of Outdoor Channel’s Buck Commander) is one of those players and his Ozzie Guillen/Bryce Harper combo prank was priceless this season. Nothing like making an unsuspecting Rookie look like he’s rubbing a seasoned manager’s face in Pine Tar.
  • What’s with teams giving the worst birthday gift to their players? “Can I see you in my office? Ya, we decided to go a different route. You are going to be cut. Oh, Happy Birthday.” This not only happened to the ex-pitcher, now power hitting OF, Rick Ankiel but also to Brewers’ flame-throwing Randy Wolf (flame-thrower might be a bit of a stretch… Wolf threw a curve ball 49 MPH).
  • Let’s talk about some rare home run feats because this is a home run blog after all. How often does a pitcher hit a home run? Maybe 10 a year. Maybe. How often do starting pitchers hit homers in the same game? Once every 10 years. How often do opposing starting pitchers hit homers in the same inning? Once every 20 years. That’s just what happened when Hamels and Cain both connected on pitches in the same inning. Kind of cool to help yourself out in the game. Not so cool when you give it right back to what is suppose to be the easiest out in the NL lineup. Even more rare… how bout brothers hitting not just their 99th but also their 100th career home runs on the same night. SAME NIGHT! That’s just what the Upton brothers did. But at least they hit home runs, unlike Carlos Gomez who trotted all the way around the bases only to find out he hit a long foul ball. Then, proceeded to strike out.
  • Still think Bonds didn’t have some help with steroids? Of course not. But do you want more proof that he should have an asterix next to those 762 home runs? I give you “The Clear” evidence to the right…
  • Social Media is getting a little too creepy. No one wants to know what your doctor said about your endoscopy. No one wants to know about your bowels. Social media was only created for stalkers (don’t deny it, we all are guilty of the stalking). This couple took social media creepy and odd to a whole new level. Kind of cool to see strangers come together for the love of a team. But a little creepy that it was documented on social media. I can’t decide which adjective should be used to describe the outing. What’s your thoughts?
  • Speaking of social media, what the heck is Shell thinking by letting the public make advertising for the company. Some of those are funny but just plain wrong (like, “Birds are like sponges… for oil”). Another random thought about social media, why does everyone want to hack into celebrities’ accounts and posting crap. At least this hacker had something funny to say (odds are he wasn’t a Yankees fan).
  • This season it seems something has crawled up every umpires’ you-know-what hole. Every little thing seems to trigger their ejection finger these days. But this umpire must have had something wedged up there extra far. Who ejects the sound guy? The home team should have been given an extra run for the sound guy’s creativity, but instead they lost their PA. Again, the saying goes “I’m BLIND, I’m deaf, I wanna be a ref”.
  • The sound guys haven’t been the only ones getting creative. There have been a few fans that have taken creativity to a whole new level. Take this fan for example who rode into McCovey Cove to catch a few Giant home run swings. A Delorean is cool enough, but a Delorean Hovercraft is insanely awesome. Who knew it only took a flux capacitor to get on television these days. Or how about the Lucha Libre at the Orioles game. The fact that he was made even creepier by making it on TV over Getz left shoulder is awesome. And if you are one of those fans who wants to propose at a baseball game just make sure your bride to be isn’t away getting you a beer. There will be plenty of time for that after she says ‘yes’.
  • Hail to the King! King Felix pitched the 3rd perfect game of 2012 and the 23rd in MLB history and the 1st for the Mariners organization. What’s even more impressive is that that 1-0 win was King Felix’s 3rd 1-0 win in the month of August… three! It’s going to be hard to not vote for him as the Cy Young this season (unless Verlander continues to lead the Tigers to a pennant). But what’s even more impressive than Hernandez’s perfect game is that a 9-month-old boy has now witnessed TWO perfect games in his life. Most fans just hope to watch one on TV from first pitch to last let alone hoping to see one live. And it’s not like this kids parents have taken him to every Mariner game this season, he’s only been to TWO games ever. Yep, two games, both perfect. Better wrap that kid up and ship him of to Boston. The Red Sox are going to need all of this kid’s luck and more if they want to see a post-season in 2012.
  • Someone finally caught the ‘Milk Man’ cheating with their loved one… baseball. Melky Cabrera admitted to a positive Performance Enhancing Drug test which will result in him sitting out the final 50-regular season games for the Giants (guess that’s better than testing positive for Meth which doesn’t enhance your game like these 3 Rays minor leaguers). But he will get to play again in October (assuming the Giants can hang on to a playoff spot). What’s even more ridiculous than allowing Melky to help his team in the postseason? He can win the batting title WITHOUT having to bat in another regular season game. You thought Jose Reyes benching himself in the final game was a cheap way to win a title, how about admitting to cheating, serving a suspension, and still winning it. Let’s hope Andrew McCutchen can dethrone the Milk Man before October rolls around.
  • Speed Round: Literally, Speed. Billy Hamilton is a name you need to get to know. He has a legitimate shot at breaking Ricky Henderson’s MLB record of 130 in a season, if Hamilton ever reaches the big leagues. What has he already accomplished? He broke the minor league record of 145 set by Vince Coleman in 1983. He currently sits at 155 SB in 192 attempts… 192 attempts!!! Even more impressive is that he needed 3 to break the record and he stole 3 bases in the first 3 innings. This kid is quick. Hopefully his day comes in the majors because I can’t wait to see a 100 SB season.
  • What is Roger Clemens trying to prove? Either that or it’s a gimmick for the Sugar Land Skeeter’s to make some last minute bucks on the soon to be ending 2012 minor league season. He should probably stick to his over-50 softball league.
  • After getting sold, the LA Dodgers are All-In for the 2012 season. They were the most active team during the trade deadline. Picking up Victorino, Beckett, A-Gon, Punto, Carl Crawford and most of the remaining money on their contracts (great news for the Red Sox who may now be looking at a HUGE off-season acquisition). The Dodgers aren’t even leading the NL Worst West or own either of the NL Wild Cards. But with these acquisitions, the Dodgers should own the NL West title by October (I mean it’s inevitable when A-Gon homers in his first at-bat as a Dodger). The Dodgers will also own a for-sale sign in 2014 when all of these outrageous contracts start hitting their back end loading.
  • Don’t you wish that all of your employers and competitors honored you with gifts when you retired? That’s exactly what Chipper Jones is seeing as he makes his baseball farewell tour this season I would have to say that Yahoo’s #2 ranked gift is the coolest. You all know I’m not a Cubs fan, but anything that’s associated to Wrigley Field is an amazing peace of history and baseball memorabilia.

Remember, football is beginning but that doesn’t mean baseball is over. There is still a solid month of regular season ball left (and Home Run Derby) and an entire month of playoffs (that my BrewCrew is trying to make a push for by going 11-3 over their past 14 games).

The Humber Games: Week Of April 16 In Review

How long before junior highs offer a class on “what NOT to post on social media”. Seriously, no one wants to know when you used the restroom or what you are thinking at every exact moment. And if you are going to tell me anyway, at least try not to offend people.

The Hunger Games is the #1 grossing movie for the fourth week in a row but the MLB has its own movie to battle for the #1 spot: The Humber Game.

We are on the cusp of history ourselves here at KingsofCork as we are about to cross some major milestones. Let’s take a look back on the second full week of the MLB season where history was actually made.

If you don’t follow the Big Show on a regular basis, you may have missed the 21st 21st Perfect Game in MLB history this past Saturday, April 21st. Phil Humber was deceptively dazzling against Seattle. He managed to throw only 96 total pitches which is the 7th fewest of the 21 perfect-os. In fact, he didn’t even got to a 3-ball count until the 9th inning when he almost blew the perfect game with a 3-0 count to Saunders before battling back and striking him out. The 26th batter sent a lazy fly ball out to right field where Alex Rios appeared to show boat and catch the fly ball one handed near shoulder height. Probably not Humber’s preferred method. Humber proceeded to work to another full count on the final batter who flailed at a final off-speed offering. Then rather than running to first-base, since the ball rolled to the backstop, he argued that he didn’t go around. The last strike call was questionable, but since the Galarraga incident, on the last strike of a perfect game looming, any bat movement from the batter is going to be called strike three and rightfully so. Now we just have to wait to see what Humber gets for a gift and what he gives as gifts.

Who Can Take Some Fastballs
That Are Letter High
Set A Yankee Record By Taking Three Big Fly
The “Grandy-Man” Can…

Curtis Granderson, aka The Grandy-Man, set a new Yankee record by being the first Yankee to accomplish a feat. Any time a player is the first Yankee to accomplish something, that is a feat in itself. What Granderson did on Thursday April 19 was take his first three plate appearances out of the park. That’s right he had 3 home runs in the first 4 innings. And he became the first Yankee to go 5-for-5 with 3 home runs in a game. Lou Gehrig is the only Yankee with more home runs in one game with the MLB record of 4. Granderson’s performance not only powered the Yankees past the Twins, but helped catapult thirteen teams in the Home Run Derby Standings. One team managed to move 28-places on Thursday.

Jamie Moyer became the oldest winning pitcher ever in the Major Leagues. He was 81-days older than the previous record holder, Jack Quinn who was a relief pitcher and not a starter. So bonus points to Jamie Moyer and his 78-mph fastball. He managed to strike out 1 batter by lulling the batter to sleep. Moyer isn’t finished either. His record age will just keep increasing this season as I project him to win a minimum of 8-games if he remains healthy. Moyer won’t quit the greatest game on Earth until his fastball speed is lower than his age, which gives him at least 10 more seasons.

Josh Hamilton continued to swing a hot stick this week but more impressively, he hit a towering home run at Fenway on Tuesday that traveled 469 ft in right-center field. What makes this home run so great is that it may be one of the closest home runs hit to the Ted Williams seat at Fenway. The seat commemorates Ted Williams 502ft home run hit on June 9, 1946.

Lastly, Matt Kemp is a beast. He has 9 home runs in 15 games which is a new Dodger record. In fact, his 9 home runs are single handedly keeping some HR Derby Teams in the hunt (Chicks Dig The Long Ball only has a 9-HR total.. all from Kemp). His record pace has him projected to hit 90+ home runs. Not to be outdone, his teammate, Dee Gordon, is on pace for 90+ stolen bases this season. For those that know me personally, I have been proclaiming (even before the season) that Dee Gordon has the best chance to steal 100+ bases this year. The record for a single team duo is a 48HR/75SB season by the 1996 Cleveland Indians Albert Belle and Kenny Lofton. Kemp and Dee got this!

A Cure For Hart Burn

Before you criticize me of my failure, enjoy some rain delay entertainment.

Now for Bud Selig’s The Commish’s failure, the failure to keep you entertained (unlike these guys) for almost the entire month of May. Up to this point of the season, I’m a bigger disappointment than the Minnesota Twins. In my defense, I at least revamped the looks of the standings and added a little “(+X)” next to the players in the standings who hit home runs that day. No more needing to manually go check who hit homers each day.

But to try and revive some of the Kings of Cork fans, I’m going to try and earn a Save by running through what has happened in the month of May by pointing you to some of my favorite articles (that way I don’t have to rewrite them). Here they are starting with my most favorite:

  • Bernie Brewer Heist (May 24) – The Brewers’ marketing department is
    ON FIRE this season. First they had the season tickets promotion, now they finished a scavenger hunt with the “Where’s Bernie Brewer?” promotion. Except everyone did what any recent college graduate could see coming. Stakeouts and robberies to hoard as many gnomes as possible. Last laugh is on the hoarders, you can still purchase a gnome for $50 at the Brewers Clubhouse. No money to be made on a flooded market.
  • DL Charging Station (May 23) – On the same night, multiple power hitters were activated from the DL, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, and Jim Thome. And ALL of them went deep at least once. Thome went big fly twice. Almost everyone in the Derby gave up on Hamilton, the previous leader (Geez) and Swing and a Mrs gave up on Thome out of 3 teams, and no one got a chance to trade Cruz (on the DL 1 day shy of the trade deadline).
  • A Typical Day Off of Work (May 17) – Brian McCann was giving the night off on the 17th but was called in to pinch hit with his team down by 1. With one swing, McCann went yard and forced some free baseball. His next at-bat in extra innings… a walk-off trot around the bases. McCann’s day off was 2-2 with 2HR and carrying his team to victory. McCann probably won’t ever get a day off again.
  • Passing of a Legend (May 17)Harmon Killebrew gave a courageous at-bat against cancer but decided to throw in the towel this month. More than a Twins legend, Killebrew was a hero to all. He will be missed but his legend lives on through the MLB logo. Our tribute to the legend: some old school home run derby of Harmon Killebrew vs Mickey Mantle.

 

Manny Finished Being Manny

Manny Ramirez… when you hear that name do you think of a great baseball player or an on field entertainer?

The answer… it should be both.

Manny’s Hall-of-Fame career came to an abrupt end when the MLB requested Manny stop being Manny informed Manny he failed an illegal substance test and would face a 100-game minimum suspension. After an $18 million pay cut this off season, Manny has decided to call it quits rather than waiting until 2011 to continue his Hall-of-Fame statistics.

Manny finished in the top-15 for total Career Home Runs in the MLB and has the fourth highest Career Batting Average among the 500-HR club (only behind Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, and Jamie Foxx… all elite players). Not to mention Manny is a 12-time All-Star and appeared in every All-Star game from 1998-2008.

Manny may be remembered as being part of the 2004 Boston Red Sox World Series Champions where they game back from a 3-game deficit to the New York Yankees in the ALCS and then swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Or for leading the Dodgers back to the playoffs in 2008. BUT, what Manny may be remembered most for is “Manny being Manny” (ESPN reports 63% of poll voters agree).

I can remember watching a game where the Dodgers were down by four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning and Manny blasted a solo home run to right center and stared it down like he just hit a walk-off. Or how about the time he decided to take a break in the Green Monster to chat on his cell-phone. Or the time he took a bathroom break in the middle of an inning and almost missed the start of the next inning. Or him taking a break in the off-season to play some Cricket. Or when he cut-off Johnny Damon’s throw in center field. But my favorite has to be his high five double play off the wall catch (see the video below).

Whatever you may remember Manny for, he was an elite player and deserves a place in the Hall-of-Fame. Rumors are that the now retired Manny plans to party with Ricky Williams, Michael Phelps, and Tim Lincecum followed by a late night trip through Taco Bell’s drive through… mmmm chili cheese burritos.

At the Top of the Stairs

Matt Stairs, the human pinball in the MLB, has played for the most teams by a single player in the MLB with twelve (Cubs and Brewers both included). But he is also at the top of another MLB record. On Saturday
August 21st, Matt Stairs hit his 21st home run as a pinch hitter… breaking the ALL-TIME record in the bigs. Watch the video here.

A small group from the Kings of Cork happened to score some front row bleacher tickets for the game and got to see the blast up close and personal.

Matt Stair's Record Setting 21st Pinch Hit HR

This game was an all out slugfest (so was Friday night’s game) with the correct team on the winning end for both games. We figured this home run ball had to be a monumental MLB mark because Chris Dickerson, in right field, quickly rounded the ball up and through it into the San Diego (that’s spanish for a whale’s…) bullpen directly in front of us. It wasn’t until watching SportsCenter Saturday night we found out exactly what the ball’s meaning was (and noticing us sitting comfortably in the front row seats). Where will Matt Stairs be next year? Hopefully a new team so that he can hold the All-time record outright for playing for the most Major League teams in a single career.

A few of us were also quietly hoping the Brew Crew would bring in Hell’s Bells (Trevor Hoffman) for a 1 out save in the 9th to get him to 599 career saves and a possible chance at 600 saves in Sunday’s matchup against his former ball club, but that didn’t happen with Axford taking a 5 out save. Hoffman will get his chances soon enough.

Casey At The Bat

Photo Courtesy of AP

I’m Brewer biased, it’s true.
I really love that yellow and blue.
A championship the Brewer’s have not seen.
But that doesn’t mean Mcgehee can’t hit thirteen… straight hits to set a new MLB record.

I knew I should have become a poet. I won’t quit my day job just yet though.

Casey McGehee has evolved into a baseball monster. A former 10th round pick by the Cubs, he is 28 yrs of age and in 2 full seasons in the Bigs, he has posted very similar numbers (although 2009 was amazing). He is currently in the top 25 in RBI’s and is batting 0.279 with 18 HR. For a guy who was suppose to be a one hit wonder, he currently is a 9 hit straight wonder.

You read that correctly, he currently has 9 straight hits. His streak of hits started with a double in his last at-bat on August 10th against the Diamondbacks. On August 11th, he went 4-4 with a HR in game 2 vs the D-Backs (the D-backs one up’d him by going back-to-back-to-back-to-back of Dave Bush). On August 12th, he went 4-4 again with a HR in the final game vs the D-back. And here he sits with nine straight hits, only 3 off the major league record of 12 set by Pinky Higgins in 1938 and matched by Walt Dropo in 1952.

For the Rest of the Story: Follow the Jump…