Tag Archives: MLB

“Man Of Steal”- Rickey Henderson And His Career Stolen Bases Record

On this day in 1991, Oakland Athletics outfielder Rickey Henderson broke Lou Brock’s career stolen bases record.  This historic event happened in a day game against the St Louis Cardinals in Henderson’s home stadium in Oakland, CA.  Henderson stole his 939th career base breaking Brock’s previous record of 938.  Immediately the game was stopped and a ceremony was performed to commemorate the record breaking moment.  Henderson was given the base he stole just moments before and an address to the fans in attendance were he proclaimed “I am the greatest of all time”.

henderson

Rickey Henderson was drafted by the A’s in the 4th round of the 1976 MLB Draft.  He would make his Major League debut for the A’s after about 3 years in the Minor Leagues.  During his debut against the Texas Rangers on June 24th 1979 Henderson stole his very first base in the Majors.  It was just a preview of what would become and incredible career.

Rickey Henderson played from 1979-2003.   During his 4th season he stole a record 130 bases, it became the new record for a single season that still stands today.  Henderson stole the most bases in Major League baseball 12 different seasons. He was on two World Series Championship teams the first in 1989 (Oakland A’s) and the second in 1993 (Toronto Blue Jays).  One of his most outstanding achievements other than breaking career stolen bases record would have to be being named the American League MVP in 1990 while playing for the A’s.

Rickey Henderson’s amazing career came to an end on September 19th, 2003.  When he hung up those blazing cleats he had stolen 1,406 bases during his career.  Henderson will go down in history as the most amazing base stealer ever.  His career stolen bases record is one that will be very hard to break.

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The 1994 MLB Players Strike: The 20th Anniversary

On August 11, 1994 the final game of the 1994 MLB Season was played between the Montreal Expos and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates were victorious on that day winning by a score of 4-0. Twenty years ago today the history of baseball changed forever. There have been strikes in the game of baseball before but none of them were as damaging to the game as this one.

Here is the short story of what transpired prior to August 11, 1994. The MLB Players Association had been going back and forth with the MLB Oweners for almost one year over a proposed salary cap. The Owners claimed it was necessary to have a salary cap in place for small market teams to survive the current state of MLB.  The salary cap combined with local television revenues would sustain the smaller market teams and thus benefit all of MLB. The players were not willing to agree to the terms the owners had set and after numerous negotiations decided as a group to sit out the rest of the season. On top of all of the problems between the two sides there had not been an official commissioner presiding over baseball since 1992.  Baseball needed a commissioner that could moderate between the two sides.

The lock gate of a MLB stadium during the 1994 Players Strike. (Getty Images)

The locked gate of a MLB stadium during the 1994 Players Strike. (Getty Images)

On August 12, 1994 The strike officially began and America would not see Major League Baseball action until the strike ended on April 2, 1995. Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the United States District Court for the Southern District, New York, issued an injunction that ended the strike. Judge Sotomayor ruled that the players and owners were bound by the expired collective bargaining agreement until a new deal could be reached. The strike lasted a total of 232 days and reduced the 1995 season to 144 games from the traditional 162 games.

The sight that awaited the players when they returned to the diamond following the 1994 Players Strike. (Getty Images)

The sight that awaited the players when they returned to the diamond following the 1994 Players Strike. (Getty Images)

Throughout the 1995 MLB Season the fans showed their displeasure with the strike that had tainted the game that they love.  Many fans saw it as two greedy side fighting for more money.  Fans all over the country showed their disdain for the players in their own ways.  Many fans decided not to go to games or buy any MLB merchandise, while other fans decided to show up and let the players know how they felt by throwing objects at them and taunting them.  Baseball did not see much gain in popularity until the steroid driven home run fest of the late 1990’s.  The “Steroid Era” further damaged the game of baseball when it was made public in the mid 2000’s.

Because of the 1994 MLB Players Strike there was no World Series played that year, it was the first season without a World Series since 1904. There were many casualties of the strike of the 1994 Strike. The most notable were the Montreal Expos who were having their best season in team history and lead baseball with a 74-70 record when the strike ended. The Expos would have likely reached the MLB Playoffs and possibly even the World Series but instead faded into obscurity. The franchise would not reach the post season until the team became the Washington Nationals more than a decade later.

There are many lessons that have been learned from the 1994 Players Strike. The most important of those lessons is that no League can disregard the fans and still profit greatly from them. Many felt the financial impact that the strike had on the game due to raising the fans ire. Baseball was considered America’s most popular sport prior to the strike. It fell behind the NFL in popularity a few years after the strike and has never grabbed its old position back from football since. The game of baseball is a beautiful game but in 1994 it was tainted by greed and the fans were the biggest victims of the dispute between the owners and the players.

MLB Opening Day: The Only No Hitter

The opening day of the baseball season has been filled with historic moments and happenings.  Moments like Hank Aaron tying Babe Ruth’s home run record and Ted Williams hitting .449 in all of his opening day game appearances.  One of these milestones happened in 1940 and has yet to be repeated on the day that starts the long baseball season, a no hitter.

On April 16, 1940 at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Hall Of Fame pitcher Bob Feller made the history books when he threw his first no hitter.  Completing a no hitter as a pitcher is incredible enough but there is another element that makes this feat even more incredible, this is the only occurrence of a no hitter on Opening Day.  On that day Feller pitched his Cleveland Indians to a 1-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox.  The eventual game winning run was scored by the Indians in the 4th inning when Jeff Heath scored on a Rollie Hemsley hit.  The losing pitcher that day was Eddie Smith.

Bob Feller would have two more no hitters in his career before he retired in 1956.  Those came in the 1946 and 1951 seasons against the Yankees and Tigers.  Bob Feller was inducted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame in 1962.  Feller amassed 266 wins and 162 loses and threw 2,581 strikeouts.  An interensting note to his career is that he also threw 12 one hit games on top of his three no hitters.

On This Day In 1993: Nolan Ryan Put Robin Ventura In A Headlock

Nolan Ryan was 46 years of age when the 1993 MLB season began.  He announced that he would retire at the end of the season.  Nolan Ryan had pitched magic through four decades and was ready to call it a career.  The last big moment in his pitching career came not from his pitches but from his fists.

On August 4th, 1993 the visiting Chicago White Sox were in Arlington to take on the Texas Rangers.  Nolan Ryan was on the mound for the Rangers.  After giving up 2-runs to the White Sox in the first inning he was facing young third baseman Robin Ventura.  Ventura had hit for an RBI single off of Ryan in the first inning.  On his first pitch Ryan beaned Ventura in the elbow.

Nolan Ryan fighting at age 46.  (Getty Images)

Nolan Ryan fighting at age 46. (Getty Images)

Robin Ventura appeared to be walking to first base when he suddenly threw his helmet down and charged at the mound.  Ryan calmly side stepped Ventura and put him in a headlock with is left arm.  Ryan proceeded to punch the 26 year old Ventura in the face approximately 6 times before his catcher Ivan Rodriguez could pull him away.  The teams quickly cleared the bench and a wild brawl ensued.  When the field was cleared 5 minutes later, Ventura and his manager Gene Lamont were ejected from the game by the Umpire.  Ryan would not be ejected due to the fact he never left the mound until Ventura reached him.

Nolan Ryan would leave the game in the seventh inning with his team leading 5-2.  The score would not change and Ryan received the win.  It was his third win of the season.

Nolan Ryan would only pitch for a few more times before his arm was finally thrown out in late September.  This is not only one of the many memorable Nolan Ryan moments but it was the most memorable baseball fight of the 1990s.  The fight was played numerous times on television newscasts the next day.  Everyone was happy to see a 46 year old Ryan school Robin Ventura who was 20 years his junior.  It showed how tough Ryan really was and baseball fans nation wide loved it.  This was an incredible moment for Ryan to end his final season on.

Mike Piazza’s Five games With The Florida Marlins

Mike Pizza began his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a long shot.  The Dodgers drafted him with the 1,390th pick in the 1988 draft.  He was truly a diamond in the rough.  By 1992 he made his Major League debut.  He was named the 1993 rookie of the year.  When his career ended in 2007 he had a lifetime batting average of .308, hit 427 home runs and batted in 1,335 runs.  A 12 time All Star, Mike Piazza was one of the most popular and talented catchers of the 1990s.  One part of his career many people over look or don’t even know about is his time with the Florida Marlins.

On May 15th, 1998 after playing 6 seasons with the Dodgers he was included in a blockbuster trade to the Marlins.  The Marlins still trying to dump players from their World Series team traded 5 players including Gary Sheffield and Bobby Bonilla for Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile.  The deal was a strange one that no one saw coming.  Many were excited to see Piazza play for the Marlins.  His addition gave the fans of Florida a chance for hope after almost all of their players had been sent packing in the infamous 1997 fire sale.

Mike Piazza as a Florida Marlin (Getty Images)

Mike Piazza as a Florida Marlin (Getty Images)

Mike Piazza’s Marlins career would be short lived.  Piazza was traded 8 days later to the New York Mets after just 5 games with the Fish.  During this stint Piazza batted .278, scored 1 run, batted in 5 runs and even landed a triple.  Sure it was not the most exciting run but that only because it was so short lived.  While it is just a small part of his baseball career it will remain an unusual situation and always be a cool trivial fact you can stump your friends with.

The Pursuit Of Baseball In Tampa

The State of Florida has been the home of Spring Training since the early part of the 1900s. Up until 1993 Florida never had a professional baseball team to call their own.  The Florida Marlins who were based in the Miami area were the first.  The Tampa Bay Devil Rays were soon to follow in 1998.  But Florida has a deep history of pursuing Major League Baseball before they received their teams in the 1990s.
It started in 1983 in the Tampa Bay area when local city officials considered building a baseball stadium to house a pro team.  Construction began in 1986 on what is now known as Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.  It was completed in 1990.  At the time there were no expansion franchises being granted for any city.  So they sought a team the best way they could, trying to lure a team from their current city.
Tropicana Filed,  The stadium that would bring baseball to the Tampa Bay area. (Getty Images)

Tropicana Filed, The stadium that would bring baseball to the Tampa Bay area. (Getty Images)

The Chicago White Sox were the first team that Tampa pursued.  In 1989 The White Sox were not happy in the old Comiskey Park and wanted a new stadium.  They flirted with Tampa for a while before ultimately getting their new stadium and staying in Chicago.
The next team that was rumored was the Seattle Mariners.  The talks did not go very far and the Mariners remained in Washington.
Tampa had their hearts broken in 1991 when they were denied an expansion franchise.  The Miami area won out instead of Tampa and the Florida Marlins came into existence.  The Marlins played the first ever regular season game in Florida in April of 1993.
The closest that Tampa ever came to stealing a team away from a city was in 1993.  The San Francisco Giants owners were looking to sell and a group of investors from Tampa were looking to buy them.   The deal was almost done.  The local baseball fans were already celebrating and then the bad news came.  The sale was vetoed by the National League Owners.  The Giants remained in San Francisco and Tampa was still without a team.
That was until in 1995 when they were granted an expansion franchise.  The Tampa Bay Devil Rays played their first regular season game in 1998.
The past does make one wonder how different things would be if the White Sox, Mariners or Giants would have relocated to Tampa.  If the White Sox or Mariners would have moved would there have been a team in Miami in 1993?  Probably not, there more than likely would have been years later though.  The Giants move would have been interesting.  The city of San Francisco would probably have a different team right now.  There is no way that City would be without a team for too long, not with their tradition and history.

It’s really incredible how things turned out for Tampa.  They took a huge risk by building a stadium without having a team for it.  For many years they looked like failures.  Many in the city thought they would never have a team to call their own.  But Tampa proved to be very persistent and got what they wanted in the end.

The MLB Playoffs Are Quickly Approaching

The long baseball season is nearing its end.  The summer is coming to an end and the Fall season is about to start.  With it will come the Major League Baseball Playoffs.  The first games of the playoffs start next weekend.  So let’s take a look at what teams are approaching the playoffs in this final week of the season.

The American League

The interesting note of the week is that no A.L. teams have clinched a playoff spot yet.  It has been a tight race for all of the divisional spots and especially for the two Wild Card spots.

East

In the East there is great competition between the division leading New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles.  The Yankees only lead that division by one game with the Rays in third place by only 5 games.

Central

The Central division has seen the Chicago White Sox fall quite a bit in the past week.  The White Sox are trailing the Detroit Tigers in the division by one game.  The third place team in the division is held by the Kansas City Royals who are fourteen games behind and have no hope for the playoffs.

West

The Western division has just as tight of a race as the Eastern division.  The Texas Rangers hold the top position with a record of 92-65.  The Oakland A’s have been surging ahead in the final month of the season and are only three games behind the Rangers.  In third place five games behind the Rangers are the Anaheim Angels. The Angels got off to a bad start at the beginning of the season but were able to turn their season around in the summer months.

Wild Card

Only six games separate the top five teams in the Wild Card race.  The Baltimore Orioles and the Oakland A’s are in the top spots.  The Angels are two games back.  The Rays are three games back, while the White Sox are six games back and will likely only be able to enter the playoffs with winning the Central division.

The National League

The almost half of the playoff spots in the N.L. have been claimed.  All but one of the divisions have champions already, which takes some of the excitement away.

East

This is the only division where a champion has not yet been crowned.  With the third place team the Phillies seventeen games back, its between only the Braves and the Nationals for the crown.  The Nationals have shocked the baseball world with an incredible season and they currently hold the top spot.  The braves are trailing by four games and still have a chance at winning the division.  Both the Nationals and Braves have clinched playoff spots.  The only question is which one will be the division champion and which one will be in the wild card position.

Central

The Cincinnati Reds won the division this past week.  They appear to be a team that could contend for the World Series Title in October.

West

The San Fransisco Giants won the division championship just a few days ago.  This team has been a great team built for the playoffs for a few years now.  The Giants won the World Series in 2010 and are looking to win their second in three years.

Wild Card

With the Braves having clinched a playoff birth there is only one wild card spot remaining.  The St Louis Cardinals hold the remaining spot at the moment.  The Dodgers and the Brewers are the only two teams that still have a chance for the remaining wild card.  The Dodgers are three games back while the Brewers are five back.  The Dodgers have been turning downward as September rolls along.  The Brewers have to win their remaining five games to have a chance.  The Cardinals will likely hold their position and go into a wild card playoff game with the Braves.