Wednesday, September 5, 2007

? No. 37: A bag of baseballs

The old saying, "Let's trade him for a bag of baseballs" is given credence by a certain Oakland A's minor league prospect, who in 1983 was dealt to the Tigers for $100 ... and a bag of baseballs. This left-handed pitcher eventually made the majors and enjoyed a brief career as a reliever, spending most of his days with the Padres and Mariners in the late-'80s. Who is he?

Yesterday's Answer: Welcome back Listmaker. You are correct, Glenallen Hill it is!

Friday, August 31, 2007

? No. 36: Arachnids out to getcha

Sorry for the delay. I'd love to blame it on a 4-day bender, but alas, I've just been busy. Today's question is an odd one*. In 1990, this Toronto Blue Jays outfielder had a nightmare about spiders attacking him. While dreaming, he began sleepwalking and eventually toppled into a glass coffee table. The fall didn't wake him up, and he continued crawling across the floor — through the broken glass. He sustained several serious cuts which landed him on the DL. Said outfielder was a rookie that season, and wasn't a member of the Blue Jays World Series teams. He enjoyed his best season in 1995 with the San Fran Giants, and in his 13-year career he also played for the Indians and Cubs in a largely platoon role. Who is he?

Yesterday's Answer: Alex Rodriguez.

*And comes courtesy of the book, The Unofficial Guide to Baseball's Most Unusual Records.

Monday, August 27, 2007

? No. 35: Happy birthday to me

Since it's my birthday today, I'll stick with a birthday themed question. White Sox outfielder Carlos May made sure he would never forget his birthday when he selected his jersey number, 17. The back of his jersey read "May 17", which just happened to be his birthday.

But he's not the subject of today's trivia question. Tell me who this player is: He hit a walk-off grand slam on his birthday in 2002, giving his team a 10th-inning victory over the A's. Three other facts about this player: 1) His middle name is Emmanuel; 2) He's won a Gold Glove and a Sliver Slugger; 3) He has since switched teams once.

Yesterday's Answer: A couple pitchers have actually topped Owings' 6 RBIs. In a game I remember seeing the highlights of on SportsCenter, Robert Person notched 7 RBIs in the Phillies 18-3 drubbing of the Expos in 2002. He had two longballs in that game. But the record is held by the Braves' Tony Cloninger. In a game that I've read about in a book I edited, Cloninger collected an astounding 9 ribbies off three hits, two of them homers. Atlanta beat San Francisco 17-3 that day, and Cloninger pitched a complete game. Person's feat was a bit more remarkable, if only because he only lasted 5 innings in his game and hence had just four plate appearances to Cloninger's five. Cloninger clubbed 11 career home runs, but he was only a mildly successful hitter. For whatever reason, he hit the cover off the ball in '66, smacking 5 homers and collecting 23 RBIs and 7 multi-hit games. Two other pitchers have tied Owings' mark: Blue Moon Odom (a very good hitting pitcher) and Dave Giusti, both in the '60s.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

? No. 34: Pitchers swinging a mighty stick

Getting back to pitchers that can hit a little, last week D-backs rookie pitcher Micah Owings went 4-for-5 with two home runs, four runs, and six RBIs at the plate and got the win on the mound, allowing three runs on three hits while striking out seven over seven innings. He is the first pitcher with four hits, four runs, and six RBIs in the same game. No player over the past 50 years has hit three home runs in a regular season game. But plenty have hit two. And three pitchers have even accomplished that feat twice. Today's question: Has any pitcher in the past 50 years topped Owings' RBI total in a game?

Yesterday's Answer: Seems I jinxed Mr. Webb, since he lost his scoreless streak in the first inning on Wednesday night. Since 1940, only Hershiser, Don Drysdale (58), Bob Gibson (47), and Sal Maglie (45) have thrown more consecutive shutout innings than Webb's 42 and change. That means Terrific Tom Seaver and Ron Guidry are the odd men out from that list. Seaver's longest streak was 19 innings; Guidry's longest streak was 18.1. Guidry did pitch back-to-back shutouts five times during his vaunted 25-3, 1.74 ERA season of 1978.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

? No. 33: Besting Brandon Webb

Last Friday Brandon Webb -- my fantasy league ace right now after Dan Haren has cooled off -- threw his third consecutive shutout. In the process he extended his scoreless streak to 42 innings, dating back five starts. He's just two shutouts from breaking Orel Hershiser's all-time record of 59 innings, which still seems nearly impossible despite Webb's herculean effort to date. He pitches tonight against Milwaukee, and for the sake of both my fantasy team and my Cardinals, I hope he continues his streak. What's remarkable is that Webb's 42 scoreless innings is only the 12th best streak in history (but it is the longest since Orel's). Most of those 10 other pitchers on the list between Webb and Hershiser achieved their feat before 1940. Since '40, only three pitchers (not named Orel) have topped Webb. Two of the following pitchers do not belong to that short list. Who are they?

A) Don Drysdale
B) Ron Guidry
C) Bob Gibson
D) Tom Seaver
E) Sal Maglie

Yesterday's Answer: The answer is Craig Biggio, who in 1997 went 619 at-bats without grounding into a double play. That's the record Granderson is after. Granderson just passed Corey Patterson, who last season went 463 at-bats without hitting into a twin killing. Both Lofton and Furcal have had seasons where they hit into just one, with Furcal's coming in a season with 664 at-bats.

Monday, August 20, 2007

? No. 32: Avoiding the dreaded GIDP

Jayson Stark recently reported that Tigers outfielder Curtis Granderson could be the first American League player since the division-play era to make it through an entire 162 game season without grounding out into a double play. If Granderson continues his current pace, he would have the most at-bats (627) -- regardless of league -- without a GIDP since GIDP became an official stat in 1939. Take a wild guess as to whose record would he be breaking?

A) Rafael Furcal
B) Craig Biggio
C) Kenny Lofton
D) Corey Patterson

Yesterday's Answer: Here's the (complete?) list of players to have played for both the Cards and Cubs since 1980. The asterisk denotes that the player transitioned directly from one team to the other via trade or free agency.

Bruce Sutter*, Dennis Eckersley, Leon Durham*, Ken Reitz*, Lary Sorensen, Chris Speier, Ivan DeJesus, Bill Campbell, Pat Perry, Steve Lake*, Ray Burris, Lance Johnson, Todd Zeile*, Frank DiPino*, Bob Tewksbury*, Jamie Moyer, Lee Smith, Mark Clark, Mike Perez, Donovan Osborne, Hector Villanueva*, Les Lancaster, Paul Kilgus, Erik Pappas, John Mabry*, Rick Sutcliffe, Danny Jackson, Mike Morgan*, Tony Fossas, Alan Benes*, Gary Gaetti*, Mike Difelice, Delino DeShields, Manny Aybar, Kent Mercker, Kent Bottenfield*, Shawon Dunston, Heathcliff Slocumb, Rick Wilkins, Dave Veres*, Miguel Cairo*, Jeff Fassero*, Joe Girardi*, Tony Womack, Ray King, Julian Tavarez, Mark Grudzielanek*, Jose Vizcaino, Todd Wellemeyer.

Friday, August 17, 2007

? No. 31: From one rival to the other

Here's an easier question -- maybe -- at the request of Mr. Gerard. The Cards-Cubs rivalry gets stirred up again today with a four-game series at Wrigley. There's plenty at stake as these two teams jockey for position in the pathetic Central. It's quite possible that either the Cubs or the Cards -- thought to be nearly out of it by their fan base as recently as two weeks ago -- could end the series in first place. Unfortunately, the Cards won't get a shot at Jason Marquis, a former Cardinal hurler (emphasis on HURL), as Marquis took the mound on Thursday. Marquis is one of many former and current major leaguers to have played for both the Cards and the Cubs. Lou Brock is, of course, probably the most famous. See if you can name five that have played for both the Cubs and the Cards since the year 1980. (Marquis doesn't count!) If you're having a hard time thinking of 'em, relax, it'll come to you: By my count, there's at least 49! (Bonus if you can name five, like Marquis, that went directly from the Cards to the Cubs -- or vice versa -- via trade or free agency.) Remember, since 1980.

Yesterday's Answer: The four 30-homer guys for the '77 Dodgers were: Steve Garvey (33), Reggie Smith (32), Dusty Baker (30), and Ron Cey (30). (Rick Monday was also a good guess, as he hit 32 in the previous year for the Cubs. But he just 15 that year for the Dodgers.) L.A. out-homered its opponents that year by a margin of 191-119.