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.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

? No. 30: Bombers in Blue

I'm currently reading The Bronx Is Burning, which is all about NYC circa 1977. Of course, the Yankees play a big role in that story, as does racial tensions, the city's near-bankruptcy, the mayoral race, and a certain serial killer. At work, I am supposed to be editing a book right now on the team the Yankees played that year in the Series, the Dodgers. This book was to focus on L.A.'s vaunted infield of Garvey, Lopes, Cey, and Russell. But one of those four wouldn't agree to be interviewed for the project, so we shelved the book. Looking at that great Dodger team of 1977, which featured a steady veteran rotation and an explosive offense, one thing stands out statistically: They had four guys hit 30 or more home runs. Who were they?

Yesterday's Answer: Not Nellie Fox, who died in 1975. It's former Red Sox 2-bagger Bobby Doerr, who is 89. Lee MacPhail is the oldest member of the Hall. He's also 89 but has Doerr beat by six months or so. In the on-deck circle for players is 88 year-old Bob Feller.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

? No. 29: The oldest living legend

The oldest living Hall of Famer is now dead: The Scooter, Phil Rizzuto, passed away at the age of 89. Rizzuto makes the case for the disbandment (or at least the reconstruction) of the Veterans Committee, who continue to allow players with suspect Hall of Fame credentials entrance into the Big Hall, while barring others who are more deserving. Rizzuto benefited mightily from his team's success: The fact that the Yankees won nine World Series titles during Rizzuto's career undoubtedly raised his profile considerably. How else can you explain a guy with a career .706 OPS gaining entrance? Rizzuto, a shortstop, is often credited as having played the game the right way, i.e. he was fundamentally sound and did a lot of the "little things" that don't always show up in the box score, like sacrifice hit and bunt. He is also noted as having gotten the most out of his talent, i.e. he was a short, skinny man. So does that mean David Eckstein belongs in the Hall, too?

I don't mean to be too harsh on the guy on the day that he died. So lets change gears. With Rizzuto's passing, who is now the oldest living Hall of Fame player? A few clues: He was also inducted by the Veterans Committee, was Rizzuto's peer, and was also a middle infielder who played his entire career for one AL team. No peeking, just guess.

Yesterday's Answer: Congrats to Jason for deducing Mr. Eddie Murray as the correct answer. Steady Eddie was recently let go by the Dodgers.

Monday, August 13, 2007

? No. 28: Name that player on unemployment

Only two players pop up on the following Top 10 lists for career numbers: intentional walks, sacrifice flies, RBIs, total bases, and ground into double plays. One is Hank Aaron. Who is the other? A couple clues: This player never hit more than 33 homers in a season, and he was recently fired.

Yesterday's Answer: Ankiel hit two home runs on Saturday, and in doing so equaled the total number of homers he had hit as a pitcher. He's got 3 now as a MLB position player versus 2 as a pitcher.