Saturday, July 7, 2007

? No. 4: Why did I ever dump Sheffield?

I drafted Gary Sheffield in the 8th round of my mixed league fantasy draft this year with pick No. 78. At that stage in the draft his .900+ OPS was a steal, even for an old fart. But he got off to a horrendous start in Tiger blue, hitting .200 in April with just five extra base hits. Thinking his old age had finally caught up to him, I dropped him. For Chris Duncan. Whom I also dropped. For Josh Hamilton. Who hit well for me for a while. But then I dropped him a few weeks ago. For Brad Hawpe. Anyway, you get the picture. Turns out, I dropped Sheffield a bit too soon, because now my arch-rival owns him, and he's hit 18 home runs since the day I dropped him. It also turns out that home runs is the one stat my first-place team is particularly weak in (Derrek Lee — you hear me talking to you?).

So Gary "Yeah, I've got an opinion about that and I'd love to share it with you" Sheffield is the subject of today's trivia question. Gary has played for seven teams — (in order) Milwaukee, San Diego, Florida, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York, and Detroit — in his 20 seasons in the bigs. If he's got another season in him (and it sure looks like he does), he'll likely hit his 500th home run, as he's only 25 away right now. That's impressive considering he's never won a home run crown. Those 475 career dingers places him eighth on the active career list. My question for you is: Name the seven active sluggers who are ahead of him.

Yesterday's Answer: (C) Mike Schmidt. Old Iron Mike hit 38 bombs in 1975 to pace the majors, two ahead of Mr. October and Kingman. Schmidt was somewhat overshadowed by his younger teammate, Greg "The Bull" Luzinski, who hit 34 homers, drove in 120, and hit .300 — besting Schmidt in the latter two by a lot. Of course, Luzinski and Schmidt also combined to strike out 331 times that year. Ouch.

Friday, July 6, 2007

? No. 3: HRs in '75

I'm currently reading Tom Adelman's "The Long Ball," which is all about the 1975 baseball season. I'm only 75 pages in, but I've already learned so much about the characters of that baseball season, especially a couple of Reds — Sparky Anderson and Johnny Bench. The book is written in past-present tense, which is somewhat unique for historical books. Adelman spends much of his time recreating off-field scenes that delve into the personality of the players. Good stuff.

Anyway, today's question is specific to that season. The Red Sox made the World Series that year and faced the Reds in what many consider to be one of the finest World Series battles. Interesting side note about the Sox (and it's true for the Big Red Machine, too): no one on the roster made it to 30 dingers. A young Jim Rice paced the club with 22 homers, followed by a young Fred Lynn with 21. While the team had five others who hit double-digit homers, each of those players hit between 10 and 15. The team total was a relatively low 134, but that was actually good for fourth in the AL. (The Reds, by comparison, totaled just 124, but ranked third in the NL.)

It was a down year for dingers across the board, with the Angels at the bottom of the MLB barrel with 55. My question for you is, Who led the majors in home runs that season, with 38. Again, no googling the answer. Your choices are:

A) Reggie Jackson, Oakland
B) Dave Kingman, NY Mets
C) Mike Schmidt, Philly
D) Bobby Bonds, NY Yankees
E) Willie Stargell, Pittsburgh

Yesterday's Answer: Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, which was first known as D.C. Stadium, opened in 1961 and housed the Washington Redskins. One year later, the expansion Washington Senators debuted at RFK, making it the first of the concrete donuts in the majors. Interesting side note: The original Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Twins in 1960. The following year, baseball expanded due to intense anti-trust pressure and placed a new version of the Senators in D.C. For the team's first year, it played at old Griffith Stadium.

Those other concrete donuts opened as such: Shea ('64), Atlanta-Fulton County ('66), Busch ('66), Three Rivers ('70), Riverfront ('70), and Veterans ('71).

Thursday, July 5, 2007

? No. 2: Ballpark firsts

Concrete donuts have long been bemoaned by baseball fans, and by my count we'll soon have none left to gripe about, as the last of the circular cookie-cutter stadiums — or giant ashtrays — are due to be replaced following this season. Both RFK Stadium and Shea Stadium (which most consider to be part of this group as it shares many similarities, including being a multi-purpose stadium) will join Atlanta-Fulton County, Riverfront, Busch, Three Rivers, and Veterans in the history books as demolished artifacts of the artificial turf era. (For purposes of this question, we'll exclude the domed stadiums, like the Metrodome, the Astrodome, and the Kingdome.)

My question is, which of the above mentioned donuts was the first to host a baseball game? Here's a clue: The first baseball game at the stadium in question got off to a poor start for the home team, as their first three batters each struck out. The home team eventually righted itself, however, and went on to win 4-1. The lone run scored by the visitors was driven in by nine-time Gold Glove outfielder Al Kaline.

No Googling allowed. You should be able to deduce this one without much help. Post your answer in the comments.

Yesterday's answer:
(A) The umpires decided that since no player had ever stole first base before — at least to their knowledge — and there was no rule covering this unique play, that Schaefer should remain at first base and be credited with a stolen base after going from second back to first. After the dispute was settled, on the very next pitch, Schaefer broke for second again. This time the White Sox catcher threw to second, and Milan broke for home from third. Schaefer was safe at second, and Milan scored the game-winning run with a steal of home. Schaefer was credited with three stolen bases.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

? No. 1: Stealing first

Washington Nationals versus Chicago White Sox — July, 1911

With the score tied in the bottom of the ninth, runners on first and third, and Washington at bat, "Flaky" Herman Schaefer decided to force the action. He broke for second hoping that the catcher would throw to second base, which would allow Clyde Milan, the runner on third, to steal home in a delayed steal. But the Sox catcher didn't bother with a throw to 2nd, allowing Schaefer to take the base. But Schaefer wasn't through being the aggressor. With runners on second and third now, Schaefer pushed the action yet again on the next pitch by trying to draw the catcher's throw yet again as he sprinted back toward first base. But the strategy failed again, as the catcher declined to throw to first.

So, what call did the umpire make?

A) Schaefer was credited with stealing first
B) Schaefer stayed at first; no stolen base was credited
C) The umpire scratched his head while thinking to himself, "I don't want that guy on my team"

Without googling the answer, post your guess in the comments section. The answer will be revealed in tomorrow's post.

This question comes from the fine folks at