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Diamond Dawg's Baseball Blog

Reflections on the National Pastime -- with the emphasis on the "Past" -- by a lifelong baseball junkie. The focus is on the Perfect Game's great moments, the personalities, the eternal arguments, the legends and the lore.

Updated: 2014-10-04T21:21:44.765-07:00


Baseball Can Be A Dangerous Game


I was thumbing through a recent addition to my baseball library -- The Baseball Anthology: 125 Years, edited by Joseph Wallace -- and came across a couple of pages devoted to the tragic death of Ray Chapman in 1920. A common misconception is that Chapman was killed right there on the field of play. According to David Nemec and Peter Palmer in 1001 Fascinating Baseball Facts, he was "the only on-field fatality in major league history." According to at least one eyewitness, though, he died not on the field but in a hospital several hours after the event. And I can think of several ballplayers who died in similar fashion. James Creighton, the 19th-century pitching phenom, comes immediately to mind.The Kentucky-born Chapman played for the Cleveland Indians/Naps from 1912 to 1920, primarily as a shortstop. He was an average fielder for the time, and a good hitter -- a .278 career batting average. He was best known as a base stealer, collecting 233 base thefts in his nine seasons. Well, make that eight-and-a-half. Because, on August 16, 1920, Chapman played his last game. He and his first-place Indians were visiting the Polo Grounds to take on the Yankees. Pitching for New York was one Carl Mays, who used an underhanded delivery that was, they say, difficult to pick up in the best of conditions. That day, though, was foggy and drizzling, and one assumes that Chapman, who was leading off the fifth inning, did not see the ball in time. It struck him in the temple, and killed him.Fred Lieb was sitting in the downstairs press box, fifty feet behind the umpire. "I had a perfect view of the action," wrote Lieb. "A right-handed hitter, Chapman crouched over the plate more than any other batter of his era. I saw May's 'submarine' pitch rise, from the near-ground level where it was delivered, on a straight line towards Chapman's head. A batter has about a half second to react to a ball that may hit him. As soon as he was hit I thought, 'Why didn't he react, duck, throw himself to the ground?' But he didn't. He froze."There was a sickening thud as the ball hit the left side of Chapman's head at the temple. He got up after a few seconds, and I could see the left eye hanging from its socket. With a ball player's instinct, he took two steps toward first, then fell in a heap. He never regained consciousness. Cleveland players carried him to the center-field clubhouse, and from there he was rushed to a downtown hospital. He died at 3:30 A.M. the next morning, the only big leaguer to be a fatal victim of a pitched ball."May was exonerated from any wrongdoing. F.C. Lane, in his 1925 book, Batting, wrote: "What added to the tragedy was the maze of rumor and criticism which sought to hold Mays responsible for the affair. Mays himself explained his part in the proceeding. He said ... 'It is an episode that I shall always regret more than anything else that ever happened to me. And yet, I can look into my own conscience and feel absolved from all sense of guilt. The most amazing thing about it was the fact that some people seemed to believe I did this thing deliberately. Now I am a pitcher and I know some of the things a pitcher can do and some he cannot do .... [T]o kill a man it is not enough even to hit him on the head. Walter Johnson, with all his terrific speed, has hit batters on the head and yet they did not die. There is only one spot on a player's skull where a pitched ball would do him fatal injury. That is a spot about his temple which isn't half as large as the palm of my hand. Suppose a pitcher were moral monster enough to want to kill a batter .... Christy Mathewson in the days of his most perfect control couldn't have hit a batter in the temple once in a thousand tries.'"Two days after the tragedy, the New York Times chimed in: "Headgear for ball players, to use while batting, is being considered by club owners and players as a result of the unfortunate accident which resulted in the death of Ray Chapman this week and it will not be surprising if batsmen of the future go to the plate with a covering on that side of the head that is [...]

Diamond Dawg's Baseball Game


Last year we had a hurricane pass through, and for three days my son and I -- and Double D -- had no electricity and no place to go (with the roads pretty much impassable). So we passed the time creating a baseball game using our baseball card collection. In the event a hurricane ever renders you housebound, you might want to try it ....Getting Started1. What you need to playa. two diceb. your baseball card collectionc. a boardd. a scorecard2. How to make the boardUse a large sheet of paper or a square piece of cardboard. Draw a baseball diamond on it. Using a baseball card for a template, draw a rectangle around home plate, first base, second base and third base.3. The scorecardHopefully, you have a few blank ones lying around. If not, just keep track of what your players do by inning.Playing the Game1. Picking your teama. Using baseball cards, select a player for each infield position (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS), three outfielders and a designated hitter. Pick cards that feature a career batting average. Below is a sample team.C: A. J. Pierzynski (Fleer '04), .301 ..... 1B: Tino Martinez (Upper Deck '03), .273 ..... 2B: Mark Grudzielanek (Topps '04), .287 ..... 3B: Scott Rolen (Fleer '04), .282 ..... SS: Royce Clayton (Upper Deck .93), .257 ..... OF: Dale Murphy (Donruss '87), .277 ..... OF: Larry Walker (Upper Deck '03), .317 ..... OF: Bobby Bonilla (Leaf '92), .283 ..... DH: Mark Texeira (Topps '05), .270.b. Adjusting the average. Jot down a list of your batters, reducing their BA's to a two-digit number by rounding the last two digits of the number up or down (for example, .250 and up would be to 26, .249 and less would be 24; .311 would be 31, .318 would be 32, etc.) A batter cannot have an adjusted average (AA) of less than 24 or more than 32. If one of your players has a career average of less than .235, he must be given an adjusted average of 24. If the player has a career average of more than 3.25, he must be given an adjusted average of 32.Pierzynski 30 ..... Martinez 27 ..... Grudzielanek 29 ..... Rolen 28 ..... Clayton 26 ..... Murphy 28 ..... Walker 32 ..... Bonilla 28 ..... Texeira 27c. The lineup. Place the nine cards of all in the order in which they will hit.d. Determine who will bat first. That player (Player A) places his # 1 batter's card overhome plate.e. Player A rolls two dice. To determine the result of the at-bat, add the number rolled to the batter's adjusted average and then consult the Result Chart (below).26: hit by pitch27: strikeout28: fly out29: extra base hit30: single31: base on balls32: single33: ground out34: strikeout35: fly out36: ground out37: single38: extra base hit39: strikeout40: base on balls41: fly out42: hit by pitch43: extra base hit44: home runEXAMPLE: Player A's # 1 batter, Martinez, has an adjusted average of 27. Player A rolls a 5 which, added to the AA, results in a 32 -- a fly out.EXAMPLE: Grudzielanek, the # 2 batter, has an AA of 29. Player A rolls a 2, for a total of 31 -- a walk.f. If a batter reaches safely, place his card on the board at the appropriate base.g. Before the next batter's result is determined, (1) Player A may choose to attempt to steal a base, and (2) Player B may choose to attempt a pickoff play. (See below)h. Extra base hits. If the total of a batter's AA and the roll of the dice equals 29, 38 or 43, the batter has an extra base hit. To determine the nature of the hit, the player rolls one dice. If the roll is 1-4 the hit is a double. If the roll is a 5, it's a triple. And if the roll is a 6 it's a home run.i. Stealing bases. If Player A has a base runner, he may choose to attempt a stolen base. Player A rolls one dice. If a 1-3 is rolled, the baserunner is caught stealing and an out is recorded. If 4-6, the baserunner advances. Stealing bases may be attempted for each baserunner prior to determining the result for the batter at the plate.j. Pickoff play. If Player B chooses, he may attempt to pick off any of Player A's base-runners. Player B rolls two dice. If a 12, the baserunner is picked off, the player card is removed, a[...]

Diamond Dawg's 2006 Super Team


88Call it Diamond Dawg's 2006 Super Team -- my picks for the best players (by position) of the season. I don't put much stock in post-season performance; it's the consistent superior performance through the day-to-day grind of the regular season that impresses me most.CATCHER: Ivan Rodriguez (DET) or Joe Mauer (MIN)?Mauer is the real deal. He hit .308/6/17 in 35 games and had a .991 fielding pct. in 32 games in his rookie year (2004). There was no sophomore slump for Mauer in '05, which he finished .294/9/55 with a .993 fielding pct. (5 errors) in 116 games. This year he won the NL batting title with a .347 average, 13 homers and 84 ribbies, and a fielding pct. of .996 (4 errors) in 120 games. But has he been in Minnesota long enough to establish the kind of leadership quality that Ivan Rodriguez demonstrated in his 12 years with the Texas Rangers and the last three seasons with Detroit? Offensively, Pudge Rodriguez finished the regular season with marks of .300/13/69. His career BA is .304 with 277 home runs and 1119 RBI. There is no sign that he is slacking off the pace in this, his 16th, season. As backstop this season he committed just 2 errors in123 games for a .998 fielding pct. His career fielding pct. is .991. He is a 13-time All-Star (including this season), 11-time Gold Glove recipient, 7-time Silver Slugger. His passion for the game remains high, and the work he has done with Detroit's very young and very talented pitching staff is exemplary. I expect Mauer to make this Super Team in the near future, but this year I have to go with IVAN RODRIGUEZ.FIRST BASE: Ryan Howard (PHI), Albert Pujols (STL), Mark Texeira (TEX) or Justin Morneau (MIN)?In just his third year in the majors Howard has shown that he is a force to be reckoned with, finishing the year with a .313 BA, 58 home runs and 149 RBI. He committed 14 errors in 1412 innings (159 games) for a .991 fielding pct. Last year he was named the NL's Rookie of the Year and this season he made the All-Star team for the first time. It certainly won't be the last. Pujols hit at a .331 clip in '06, clubbing 49 homers and 137 RBI. He'd have added to those last two stats but for a long stint on the DL. He committed just six errors in 1244.1 innings for a .996 FP. Of course, Prince Albert was an All-Star this year, as he has been every year he's been in the league save for 2002. Among other things, he was the NL-MVP in 2001, and the NL-MVP in 2005. No Gold Gloves yet, but the competition is stiff, and his prowess at the plate overshadows his excellent glovework. Morneau finished the season with .321/34/130 and his fielding percentage is .994, with just 8 miscues in 1346.1 innings. Texeira has the best FP of them all -- .997 with only four errors in 1399 innings. He hit .282 with 33 homers and 110 ribbies. But the sheer power of Howard and Pujols overshadows the others. Like Joe Mauer, Howard waits in the wings, as this year's Super Team first-sacker is ALBERT PUJOLS.SECOND BASE: Robinson Cano (NYY), Placido Polanco (DET) or Orlando Hudson (ARI)?Pujols would like to have his best friend, Placido Polanco, join him on the Super Team. Polanco hit .295/4/52 this year and has career marks (9 seasons) of .300/63/382. He seldom makes mistakes, with just six miscues in 943 innings (108 games) for a .989 FP, just a tad off his .991 career pct. at second. He plays shortstop and third base just about as well. Oddly, he's never gotten the nod for a Gold Glove or an All-Star berth. Cano is the young phenom of that star-studded Yankee cast, hitting .342 this year with 15 roundtrippers and 78 RBI, making the All-Star roster in this, his second, season. He was charged with nine errors in 1009 innings for a .984 fielding percentage. Cano will be wearing the pinstripes long after Giambi and Matsuki and even Jeter are gone, or the entire Yankee front office belongs in a lunatic asylum. Orlando Hudson hit .287/15/67 in 579 ABs (157 games). He committed 13 errors in 1349 innings for a .984 FP. O'Dog won a Gold Glove last year (6 errors, [...]