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“Shoeless” Joe Jackson And The 1919 World Series

On October 1, 1919 the World Series began at Redland Field in Cincinnati, OH in front of a crowd of 30,511 fans.  The teams on the field were the Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds. No one knew that day that what they were witnessing would later beconsidered the most controversial World Series ever.  When the Series was finished on October 9, 1919 the Reds were crowned Champions by winning five games in the best of nine Series.  Baseball fans all over the country were shocked ass the White Sox were considered the best team in baseball by many.  What unfolded in the next 2 years following the 1919 World Series has been chronicled very heavily in the last ninety years.  

In 1920 it became public the that eight players on the 1919 Chicago White Sox team might have intentionally thrown the World Series.  The allegation was that these players had conspired with gamblers to throw the Series in exchange for a payoff of $5,000 each.  The case was later investigated by a Grand Jury to determine what exactly happened and if any criminal acts had been committed.

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson. (Getty Images)

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson. (Getty Images)

The most prominent of those eight players was “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.  Jackson’s involvement made the story even more interesting.  Jackson is considered one of the greatest baseball players to ever play the game.  In his 23 season career he batted .375, collected 1,772 hits, 54 home runs and 785 RBI’s.  

In 1921 the Grand Jury convinced in Chicago and eventually acquitted all eight players of committing any crime.  Shortly thereafter The Commissioner Of Baseball Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned all eight players from the game of baseball for life.  Landis logic was even though the players had been acquitted, they left a black eye of the game of baseball and must be thrown out in order to clean up baseball’s image.  Because of this action one of the greatest baseball players ever is not allowed in The National Baseball Hall of Fame, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.

His performance during the 1919 World Series was very impressive.  During the eight games Jackson had 12 hits, batted .375 and committed no errors.  He had the most hits and highest batting average of any player on either team.  To think he was involved in the throwing of the world series is unfathomable.  His play told a completely different story, one of a man playing his heart out and trying to help his team win.

The fact that a Grand Jury acquitted the eight players is also a strong statement.  Landis felt like he had to make a statement about the supposed infraction that had occurred.  Landis went too far by banning the players for life and ruining any possibility that these players could be immortalized in the Hall of Fame.  Many baseball fans hold out hope that one day the ban will be lifted by a future Commissioner of Baseball and “Shoeless” Joe will be able to take his place where he deserves to be, the Hall Of Fame.

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.

 

 

 

“Get Smart” Trivial Sports Facts #1 (Baseball)

Everyone who is a sports fan wants to appear smarter and more knowledgeable than anyone else.  Sports provide so many historical moments and stats.  I will bring you closer to the high level of sports learning you seek.  I will do all of the hard research so you  can become the ultimate sports fan. Each edition will be on one particular sport.   You may know some of the events but I will open your eyes to something about them you may not yet know.   I bring to you the 1st edition of “Get Smart”  So let’s get started.

Joe Dimaggio’s 56 Game Hit Streak

In 1941 Joe Dimaggio had  56 straight games with a hit.  This record still stands in 2012 and is widely considered the most elusive of all sports records.  The final and 56th game of the streak occurred on July 16th against the Indians at Cleveland’s famed Municipal Stadium.  The pitchers in that game were Al Milnar and Joe Krakauskas, Dimaggio went 2 for 4 and scored 3 runs.  The great streak came to an end one day later July 17 in a game also against the Indians.

Joe Jackson And The Throwing Of The 1919 World Series

In 1919 one of the worst happenings in the history of Baseball occurred.  The heavily favored Chicago White Sox threw the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds.  The truth came out two years later that some of the White Sox players were involved with gamblers and payed off to lose.  In 1921 eight players from the White Sox were found guilty of intentionally losing the series and banned from baseball for life.  The most notable of those player was the sure Hall Of Fame candidate “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.  Jackson is considered one of the best short stops to ever have played the game.  The puzzling fact of Joe Jackson’s involvement in the throwing of the Series are his stats.  The stats Jackson had in that series do not look like that of a man that was intending to lose.  Jackson batted .375, had 5 runs scored, hit a home run and batted in 6 runs.  Jackson played no different than he usually did at the plate and made no critical fielding errors.  It has been said that he was aware that the games where fixed but did not actively participate in the plan. We will truly never know if he was involved but if you judge it by the numbers the answer looks like he was not.

The Beginning Of The MLB Draft

The amateur draft has a history of good picks by teams but it has a even greater history of players not panning out.   It is the least popular of the drafts amongst casual sports fans.  The die hard baseball fans look forward to it every June.   The first ever MLB amateur draft took place in 1965.  The first team to pick was the Kansas City Royals, who selected outfielder Rick Monday from Arizona State University.  Monday went on to play 19 seasons and retired in 1984 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Monday had a career batting average of .264, 271 Home Runs and 775 RBI’s.  He was also a World Series Champion with the Dodgers in 1981.  After his playing career ended he moved on to Broadcasting.

Andrew McCutchen, Best Bet For N.L. MVP

The Pirates have been changing the perception of their team this year.  After years of dwelling in the cellar of the National Leagues Central Division they seem to have turned things around.  The team currently holds a record of 51 wins and 40 loses and are tied for first in the division with the Cincinnati Reds.  Both teams hold a 5 game advantage over the defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals.  Superb pitching has a lot to do with their success but beyond the pitching is the incredible play of Andrew McCutchen.

The Pirates Andrew McCutchen is having an MVP caliber season heading into August.
(Getty Images)

McCutchen is having a great year and has shown himself to be the team leader.  He has the best batting average in both leagues batting .369 after 87 games played.  He also has 22 home runs, 65 RBI’s, 65 runs and 14 stolen bases.  Producing many walk off game winners and with the lowly Pirates not looking so low combined with his stats shows that he is in the running and possibly the lead to win the National League MVP trophy this year.

McCutchen was drafted by the Pirate in the 1st round of the 2005 draft with the 11th overall pick.  He is in prime position to turn this franchise around for good and be recognized as one of the best baseball players around.  He has added excitement to a team that had nothing to get excited about since Barry Bonds left after the 1992 season.  He has had a few good seasons already but none as dominant as he has been this season.  The fact that the Pirates are in 1st place in late July is amazing in its own right.  The city of Pittsburgh could be transferred from a football city into to a baseball city in just a matter of a couple more years.

The Pirates have a lot to prove still.  Can they make the playoffs for the first time since the early 90’s?  Can they advance in the playoffs?  Can they continue to be a good team year in and year out?  All of those questions ride on the play of McCutchen.  If McCutchen continues this run he will be the N.L. batting champion and should be the N.L. MVP.  Recognition of that level would be incredible for the Pirates franchise.   So if you have not been following this player or this team its time to open your eyes and believe what you are seeing,  its true the Pirates are for real and they have one of baseballs best rising stars.

Should The Fans Vote For MLB All Star Game Starters?

The 2012 All Star Game will be held in Kansas City at Kaufman Stadium on July 10th.  The votes are in and we now know who will make up the MLB All Star Game starting line ups.  Many fans and media disagree with some of the results.

As usual there were some that got snubbed.  Players like the New York Mets David Wright for example will not be starting at Third Base for the National League team.  Wright has a batting average of .354 with 9 Home Runs and 50 RBI’s.  Wright lost the chance to be a starter in the fan voting to the San Fransisco Giants Pablo Sandoval.  Sandoval is batting .300 with 6 Home Runs and 25 RBI’s.  Wright not only has better numbers but is better a fielder.  This is not the first year there has been controversy over starters.

This years All Star Game will have many of baseballs best players starting the game from the bench, all because of fan voting.
(Getty Images)

The debate has rage on for many years whether the fans should be allowed to dictate the starters.  The All Star Game is really just a popularity contest.  Many of the teams in bigger markets get more players voted in.  More importantly many of the teams get their players named as starters.

The All Star Game was created as an exhibition of the best players from the first half of the season.  The one problem is that it is no longer just exhibition game now.  The winning team whether it be the National League or the American League gets home field advantage in the World Series.  Who knows how many World Series Champions were crowned based on their league winning the game played in all the way back in July.  All Star teams that were not comprised of the best in each league.

Something needs to change and boy does baseball commissioner Bud Selig have a lot of things on his list to fix.  When it comes to the All Star Game the fan voting needs to be taken away if baseball wants the winner to have such an advantage in the World Series.  The All Star squads should be picked by the players and managers only.  There is way too much riding on the game for it to be up to fans that only vote for their favorites rather than the players who really have dominated the first half of the season.

Let’s think about the example of David Wright that I brought up previously.  David Wright has put up incredible season numbers and will most likely win the MVP trophy at the end of the year.  It is not right that a player that has been playing the way Wright has would not start the All Star Game.

If the All Star Game is going to be considered an exhibition it should not have important ramifications like it has now.  I am all for making it fun but if its going to be it needs to be just a game in July with baseballs best player and only that.  So Bud Selig a decision should be made.  Either you have a fan vote or a game that could dictate the next World Series Champion not both.

The Highs And Lows From The First Weekend of Baseball

Johan Santana throws out the first pitch on Opening day for the Mets in New York.
(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Baseball is back and the first weekend is complete.  It was an exciting and surprising weekend for many teams.  If you missed any of the action here are some of the highlights and low lights.

For the first time since 1966 both the Yankees and Red Sox started off the season 0-3.  The Yankees were swept by the Rays in Tampa, beating them 3-0 on Sunday.  No need to fear Yankees fans.  The last time the Yankees started 0-3 was 1998, and they ended up winning 114 games and the World Series title.  The Red Sox lost an extra inning game on Sunday 13-12 to complete the sweep by the Detroit Tigers.  The Tigers proved to be as powerful as everyone thought going into the season.  Point proven when Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera both homered in the 10-0 during Saturday’s gave versus the Red Sox.  The Tigers scored a combined 26 runs during their first three games.   I expect both teams to bounce back from their sweeps this week.

The Pirates Andrew McCutchen celebrating on Sunday after a walk off RBI single against the Phillies.
(Getty Images)

Another shocking thing came from this first weekend,  The Pirates took two out of three from the Phillies.  Both of the victories were of the walk-off type.  The first happened on Saturday in extra innings when Rod Barajas drove in Alex Presley for the 2-1 victory.  The second came on Sunday after the Pirates tied the score at 4-4.  Andrew McCutchen drove in the winning run lifting the Pirates over the Phillies by a score of 5-4.  The Pirates could be interesting to watch if you base any value on this first weekend.

The “new” every thing Marlins began the season with a surprising 1-3 start.  They started their first two games with no offense and loses to the Cardinals and the Reds.  The first lose was to the Cardinals in their brand new ballpark in a 4-1 effort.  On Saturday in their third game the offensive power showed up in a 8-3 victory over the Reds, the fish had three home runs in that game.  Sunday brought their third lose of the season when the Reds rallied in the bottom of the ninth.  Scott Rolen came in as the pinch hitter and drove home the winning run to give the Reds the 6-5 victory over the Marlins.  It will be interesting to see how the Marlins play in Philadelphia this week against what many consider to be the best rotation in the league.

Opening Day history was made on Thursday when the Blue Jays went to the 16th inning with the Indians.  J.P. Arencibia hit the game winning three run homer to put the Blue Jays on top of the Indians 7-4 in that game.  The game broke the previous opening day record of 15 innings held by the Tigers and Indians from 1960 and another 15th inning game between Philadelphia and Washington in 1926.  There is something really special about seeing records broken that have stood for so long.

Albert Pujols went 0-3 in his debut for the Angels in their 5-0 victory over the Royals on opening day.   The Royals ended up taking 2 out 3 games from the Angels this weekend.  Pujols has a .143 batting average to show for his first weekend with his new team.  The Angels have to be surprised how this first series ended with Pujols slumping.  I have no doubt he will continue to be the most feared slugger in the game though.

The A's Yoenis Cespedes going long.
(Getty Images)

There is an emerging star in Oakland.  The high paid Cuban Yoenis Cespedes, has played incredibly during his first series in the Major Leagues.  He is batting .308 with 3 home runs, 7 RBI’s and 3 runs.  He goes against everything “Moneyball” GM Billy Beane has been able to do in the past with little money allowed to him for the A’s.  This year he was able to get big money for this highly touted free agent.  It appears that Cespedes will be worth the money spent if he keeps producing like he the past four games.

The Mets played better than expected by sweeping the Braves in three games.  Its is the first time the braves have started the season 0-3 since 2003.  The Mets were expected to occupy the cellar in the N.L. East and still very well could, but they are looking pretty good coming out of the first weekend.

The Mariners Brandon League celebrates after getting the save against the A's on Saturday.
(Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

Oh yeah, there was good pitching also.  Kyle Lohse had a solid 7.1 inning game against the Marlins on Wednesday and picked up the win.  The Nationals Stephen Strasburg had a great 7 inning game with 5 k’s in Thursdays victory over the Cubs, although he did not get the win.  The Mets Jonathon Niese had a no hitter going into the 7th inning against the Braves on Sunday.  The no-no was ended though, it would have been the first no hitter in the Mets 51 season history.  The Mariners Brandon League picked up 2 saves this weekend.  League could end up being one of the best closers in the A.L. if the M’s can continue to produced solid games for him to finish.  Other than Niese’s possible no hitter there were no amazing moments by any pitcher,  just a lot of solid pitching throughout both of the leagues.  Some experts are calling this season “The Year Of The Pitcher III”, but I think we will have to wait and see about that.

If you take a look at the standings right now there are 5 teams that started the season 3-0.  Those teams are Orioles, Rays, Tigers, Mets and D Backs.  The season is very long though and as we all know a lot of teams fall off by July.  So no one should get too excited or upset at this point.  This first weekend has been very exciting and if its any indication of what is to come I think it will be a great year for the fans.

Miami Marlins grab first win

The Miami Marlins came into Saturday nights game against the Cincinnati Reds, off of two loses to start the season.  There was question of where the offensive power and speed that the team has been built to have was.  It showed up Saturday against the Reds in a 8-3 victory.

The club received three home runs from Omar Infante, Hanley Ramirez and John Buck.  The starting pitching for the Marlins has been tremendous, but Ricky Nolasco was the first of the starting pitchers to win a game for the ball club so far.  The Reds offense was alive but not as much as the Marlins.  The Reds Zack Cozart had a triple and hit a homer in the teams loosing effort.

It was nice to see the Marlins get their first win this season.  This should be a season to remember with the new ballpark, new manager and high paid free agents.  The NL East is tougher than ever this year.  The Phillies will still be bringing great pitching and offense. The Braves have staying power to be in the division race going into September.  The Nationals have the makings of a strong team possibly the best they have fielded since their inception.  But the Mets will probably stay in the cellar even though David Wright should have another All Star season.  I still have the beief that the Marlins can take the division for the first time in franchise history.

The Marlins will be taking on the Reds in the final game of the series on Sunday.  The Reds will be sending Bronson Arroyo to the mound and the Marlins will be sending Carlos Zambrano.  It will be interesting to see how Zambrano will do this season and if he can keep from going insane like he has the past few seasons with the Cubs.  Ozzie Guillen has stated during Spring Training that he will be able to control Zambrano which made many people laugh.  Sundays game starts at 1pm and should be as exciting as Saturdays game.