Monday, November 21, 2016

Melog Rankings: Post-Finals 2016

One of the things I like most about tennis is the way it rewards long-haul performance. So many other sports seem to be all about the playoffs; you can win 116 games in a baseball season (like the 2001 Mariners), or 73 games in a basketball season (like last year's Warriors), and still have people scoff at you if you get upended in a short playoff series (or, like the 18-1 2007 Patriots, one game of football).

Tennis is different. While it has its own version of the playoffs, taking the top 8 players of the year and matching them up with each other in the World Tour Finals, it does not automatically designate the winner of that event to be the champion of the year. Instead, the World Number One is the player who performed best through the grind of the ten-month tennis season.

That designation is often secured very early - in 2015, for instance, Novak Djokovic clinched the top spot by winning the US Open in early September. Through the first half of the 2016 season, it looked like we'd have another blowout, as Djokovic won the first two Slams of the year, and three of the first five Masters. After he wrapped up the French Open title (completing the career Slam, and making him the first player in nearly 50 years to hold all four Slams at once), his lead in the 2016 points race was over 3000.

And after that... well, after that, Andy Murray had the run of his life, winning seven titles from nine events stretching from Queen's Club to Paris. Djokovic won only one title in that span, and entering the World Finals, Murray held the #1 spot by a margin of just over 400 points - a gap that could easily be closed using the points available in the Finals.

The event played out perfectly, as Djokovic and Murray both swept their round robin groups and won their semifinal matches, bringing up a first in tennis history: the last match of the Tour Finals would result in the year-end #1 ranking being awarded to the winner, whichever player that was.

Murray won the match, and the title, and the year-end #1 ranking. And given how the Melog ratings have looked during the last couple of updates, the top of the upcoming table should come as little surprise...

Thursday, November 10, 2016

2016 MLB Postseason: The statistical view


It's been just over a week and it still hasn't fully sunk in. But I'll try to cut through the haze of post-title bliss and be as rational as possible in breaking down what the numbers have to say about the highly memorable 2016 postseason.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Melog Rankings: Pre-Paris 2016

Here we go.

Andy Murray won the 500-point title in Vienna last week, further narrowing the gap between himself and Novak Djokovic. Novak still leads by nearly 2000 points in this week's ATP rankings, but there's a caveat to that: he's the defending champion at both the Paris Masters and the World Finals, and because of a quirk in the ATP rankings (the previous year's Finals are removed a week before the next year's take place, which is a week earlier than any other event), Murray could leapfrog him in the rankings as early as this week and grab #1 for the first time in his career.

There's action down the line as well, particularly from last week's other titlist, as Marin Cilic grabs the Basel crown and climbs into the ninth spot in the 2016-only rankings, which will determine entry into the World Finals. (The player occupying the #9 spot will qualify for the eight-man field because Rafael Nadal, who's in the top 8, has shut down for the year due to injury.)

And there's a strong argument to be made that neither of those things was the coolest event of the last fortnight. The week before last in Stockholm, Juan Martin del Potro secured his first title since January 2014, further cementing his comeback after years of health problems.

With all of that in the books, let's get to the numbers!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Melog Rankings: Post-Shanghai 2016

The Asian swing is usually one of Novak Djokovic's favorite parts of the tennis season. In particular, he has dominated the 500-point tournament in Beijing like nothing else, having never lost a match there. In 2015, he won both Beijing and the Shanghai Masters, providing yet another exclamation point on a season full of them.

This year? This year, Djokovic pulled out of Beijing with an injury, and lost in the semifinals in Shanghai. And that actually overstates his performance; there were so many early upsets in Shanghai that Djokovic didn't face an opponent in the top 40 until the semifinals, where he lost in straight sets to Roberto Bautista Agut. Meanwhile, both the Beijing and Shanghai titles were instead captured by Andy Murray. Murray, who entered the month over 2000 points behind Djokovic in ATP ranking points for 2016, returns to Europe trailing by just over 900, within relatively easy striking distance of the year-end number 1 spot.

And in the Melog ratings. the upheaval is even bigger.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Game of the Day (10/6/91)

On the last day of the 1991 baseball season, all four division titles were locked up, and there were no other playoff spots up for grabs because no other playoff spots existed.

So there wasn't much at stake in any of the games played on this particular date - except, of course, for professional pride. And in the case of Brewers 6, Red Sox 3, there were two starting pitchers looking to put exclamation points on excellent seasons - Milwaukee's Bill Wegman hoping to extend his career high total of 15 wins, and Boston's Roger Clemens trying to seal a third Cy Young award after having been robbed in the previous year's voting.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Game of the Day (10/5/91)

On October 5, 1991, the Atlanta Braves won their eighth game in a row, 5-2 over the Astros, while the Dodgers were shut out 2-0 by the Giants for their third straight defeat. The results put the Braves two games ahead of the Dodgers in the standings - and since October 5 was the second-to-last day of the season, the Braves wrapped up the year's final division title.

Meanwhile, in the American League, the dreadful Yankees were facing the Indians, who were much worse. The starters were Eric King, who would pitch seven seasons in the majors (including four in which he was almost exclusively a starter) without ever qualifying for the ERA title, and Eric Plunk, who was making the last start of his career but would spend the remainder of the '90s in major league bullpens. If you had asked me to guess which man started for which team, I would have picked Plunk on the Indians (he pitched there for seven years), and I would have been wrong.

But these two unimpressive squads combined to produce Indians 7, Yankees 5 (12), which sounds pretty impressive... and was actually better than it sounds.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Game of the Day (10/4/91)

Tigers 4, Orioles 2 (14). Detroit's Scott Aldred and Baltimore's Mike Mussina were born almost exactly 6 months apart, and were 23 and 22, respectively, when this game took place. Both pitched partial seasons in 1991 - Aldred started 11 games, Mussina 12. And... well, Mussina pitched about 50% more innings, and Aldred gave up more runs. Which gave a pretty accurate indicator of how their respective careers were going to play out.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Melog Rankings: Early October 2016

There were no Grand Slams played in the last three weeks. Nor were there any Masters events, or any 500 point events. There is no Grand Slam in the immediate future, either. So based on the ESPN school of tennis watching, not much is going on at the moment.

On the other hand, the last three weeks have included the Davis Cup semifinals, in which Argentina defeated the defending champion British on the strength of Juan Martin del Potro upending Any Murray in five sets, and in which Marin Cilic and Croatia upset France. And after that,there were four 250-point events played, two in Europe and two in Asia - and three of the four were won by players claiming their first title, the oldest of whom is 22 - and two of those three titles were secured with victories over top-10 players in the final, including one upset of the recently-crowned US Open champion.

The lesson is the same as usual, really: There's always something going on in tennis.

Game of the Day (10/3/91)

There were only five major league games played on October 3, 1991. When the total is that low, the selection is often not terribly impressive when it comes to excitement.

On the other hand, sometimes five-game days give you White Sox 13, Twins 12 (12). Minnesota started Kevin Tapani, who was closing out a season in which he had arguably been the best starting pitcher on a division champion; Chicago started Greg Hibbard, finishing up a year in which he had barely held onto his spot in the rotation.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Game of the Day (10/2/91)

Mets 9, Pirates 6 (11). New York's Pete Schourek and Pittsburgh's Randy Tomlin were both reasonably effective, reasonably young starters. For no reason that was immediately apparent at this point in time, Schourek's career would last just about twice as long as Tomlin's.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Game of the Day (10/1/91)

Phillies 6, Cubs 5 (13). Chicago's Frank Castillo faced Philadelphia's Tommy Greene. Both were young pitchers, and both would end up between 5 and 10 WAR for their careers. Greene had the bigger highlights (a no-hitter, a 16-4 season for a pennant winner), but Castillo would last over twice as many innings.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Game of the Day (9/30/91)

Mariners 3, Rangers 2 (11). Seattle's Erik Hanson was 26 years old, and struck out 143 hitters in what was a fairly solid season. That strikeout total was about 70% of his opponent's mark in 1991 - and less than 40% of what Nolan Ryan had done when he was Hanson's age.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Game of the Day (9/29/91)

We've spent the last few days completely ignoring active pennant races in this space, so let's check back in on the year's best contest. Entering play on September 29, the Dodgers led the Braves by a game in the NL West. They spent the first six innings of their game that day getting shut out by Bryan Hickerson, who I presume you have never heard of, because he wasn't particularly good and didn't last long in the majors. But in the eighth and ninth, they rallied from a 2-0 deficit to pull out a key 3-2 victory, with Darryl Strawberry delivering the walkoff.

And they needed it to stay ahead, too, because their pursuers played Braves 6, Astros 5 (13). The starters were Steve Avery for Atlanta and Pete Harnisch for Houston; both were pretty good young pitchers who would go on to pretty good careers.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Game of the Day (9/28/91)

Tigers 5, Orioles 4 (10). Detroit sent out veteran Bill Gullickson, who at age 32 was on the way to his first and only 20-win season. Baltimore replied with Mike Mussina, who was 22 and making the eleventh start of his career; he would go on to a Hall-of-Fame-worthy 18-year tenure in the majors, and would exceed Gullickson in many categories, including length of wait before finally winning 20 games in a season.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Game of the Day (9/27/91)

Expos 12, Pirates 8. It is inevitable that at some point when writing up one game every day of a baseball season, you will run out of things to say about pitching matchups. This game pitted Montreal's Mark Gardner against Pittsburgh's Zane Smith. Both men were pretty OK; they were similar ages (Smith a year and two months older), but their 13-year careers were offset by five years anyway. And that's all I've got.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Game of the Day (9/26/91)

Pirates 4, Mets 3 (15). Pittsburgh started Randy Tomlin, who lasted five years and looks to have been pretty effective most of the time despite a very low strikeout rate. New York replied with David Cone, who spent considerably more than five years in the majors, and had a notably higher K rate than Tomlin - to wit, he was just about to finish his second consecutive league lead in strikeouts.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Game of the Day (9/25/91)

Entering play on September 25, there were two divisional races that could be considered closely contested. One of those was in the NL West, where the Dodgers led the Braves by two games - at least before the day began. But the Dodgers were thoroughly thrashed by the Padres, and the Braves were looking at a doubleheader against the unimpressive Reds. They took the first game, 2-1 in 10 innings, and with LA's loss, a sweep would have brought then within half a game of first place.

Instead, the nightcap went Reds 10, Braves 9 (10). The pitching matchup was an interesting one: Atlanta's Steve Avery, a 22-year-old in his third season as a full-time starter, faced Cincinnati's Randy Myers, a 28-year-old in his seventh year, but serving his first stint as a starter; this was his 12th start of 1991 after his entire career had been previously spent in the bullpen.

Myers's rotation stint worked out so well that this was the last game he would start in his entire career; he would remain in the majors until 1998, and spend the next seven years camped out in the bullpen.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Game of the Day (9/24/91)

Pirates 10, Mets 8. The starters were both veterans whose best years had been in the '80s, and who would end their careers with records around 25 games over .500. But there's still a wide range of quality possible with those two descriptions, and Pittsburgh's Bob Walk was significantly lower on the available spectrum than New York's Frank Viola.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Game of the Day (9/23/91)

Rangers 11, Mariners 4 (11). The pitchers were Texas's Brian Bohanon and Seattle's Randy Johnson. It was not a particularly even matchup at the time, and it would appear far less so as the decade progressed.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Game of the Day (9/22/91)

Yankees 7, Red Sox 5 (10). New York's Pascual Perez was 34 and pitched less than half a season, averaging barely 5 innings per start in the 14 starts he managed to make. Boston's 22-year-old Kevin Morton started a little more and pitched a lot worse. Counting this game, both men had exactly three major league appearances remaining in their careers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Game of the Day (9/21/91)

Angels 4, White Sox 3. California started Kyle Abbott; he was the second Abbott on their pitching staff in 1991, and the less effective of the two. Which is... let's just say it's not the most noteworthy difference between the Abbotts, and move on. He was opposed by Chicago's hyper-veteran knuckleballer, Charlie Hough.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Game of the Day (9/20/91)

A's 6, Blue Jays 5 (11). In 1990, Oakland's Bob Welch went 27-6 and won the Cy Young. Toronto's Todd Stottlemyre went 13-17 and exceeded Welch's ERA by nearly a run and a half (in the bad direction).

In 1991, Stottlemyre was the better pitcher of the two. Betting on consistent pitcher performance is not typically a winning proposition.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Game of the Day (9/19/91)

Phillies 5, Expos 4 (10). Montreal's Brian Barnes was 24 and putting the finishing touches on a fairly unimpressive season in which he just missed qualifying for the ERA title; Philadelphia's Andy Ashby was 23, and pitched both less and worse. Neither pitcher's results looked terribly promising in 1991, but Ashby would go on to a solid 14-year career while Barnes would be out of the league after three more campaigns.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Game of the Day (9/18/91)

Blue Jays 5, Mariners 3 (12). The pitching matchup comprised two pitchers who generally had no idea where the ball was going, for very different reasons: Toronto knuckleballer Tom Candiotti and Seattle flamethrower Randy Johnson.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Game of the Day (9/17/91)

Mariners 5, Blue Jays 4 (11). Toronto started Juan Guzman, an outstanding rookie who was called up partway through the season, against Seattle's Erik Hanson, a solid veteran. (It's a bit of September role reversal, as one might expect the promising youngster to be a recent promotion for a .500 team, facing the tenured pitcher on the contender.)

Friday, September 16, 2016

Game of the Day (9/16/91)

Dodgers 6, Reds 5 (12). Both starters in this game would narrowly exceed 100 innings for the 1991 season. LA's Orel Hershiser was a recent ace slowly working his way back into form after destroying his shoulder a year earlier; Cincinnati's Scott Scudder took the more conventional path to that total and was just a mediocre swingman.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Game of the Day (9/15/91)

Before we get to the actual contest here, it's worth pointing out that the most important game of the day was actually the least-dramatic: Braves 9, Dodgers 1. The NL West race between these two teams was the closest divisional contest of the year, with the Braves entering the day leading by only half a game. It quickly became clear that the margin was about to increase, as Sid Bream hit a first-inning grand slam and Atlanta led 8-0 after three, with Steve Avery throwing a complete-game four-hitter. Not only was it the least-exciting game of the day by WPL, but at 0.70, it ranks as the second-least engaging contest of the year.

Which is to say that context is always important in statistics.

Now, let's move on to our daily helping of also-rans: Expos 6, Cubs 5 (10), pitting Chicago's Rick Sutcliffe, who lasted a long time and had extreme highs and lows, against Montreal's Mark Gardner, who was basically Sutcliffe if his highs were flattened out to ERA's less than 10% better than league average.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Game of the Day (9/14/91)

Mariners 4, Royals 3 (11). Seattle's Bill Krueger was approaching the end of his career as a decent left-handed swingman. KC's Kevin Appier was just starting out in his tenure as a right-handed ace.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Game of the Day (9/13/91)

Royals 3, Mariners 2 (12). The pitchers for this game look like at least a bit of a mismatch, as Kansas City's hurler had an ERA over a run lower than Seattle's. That was artificially induced by his having spent much of the year in the bullpen, but even if you just take him as a starter, the Royal pitcher was more effective.

Sadly for Luis Aquino, he did not remain superior to Randy Johnson for the entirety of their respective careers.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Melog Rankings: Post-US Open 2016

So... that happened.

For now, I will leave aside any ruminations on what the recent US Open says about the participants' places in history; that discussion will be better served by a post about Slam Scores, which will be forthcoming within the next couple of weeks.

Instead, let's just see what Stan Wawrinka's third Slam championship means for the Melog ratings.

Game of the Day (9/12/91)

Angels 7, White Sox 4. The Angels started Chuck Finley, who would go on to pitch in over 500 games in his career, with 467 of them being starts. Chicago countered with Roberto Hernandez, who would pitch in nearly twice as many games as Finley, exceeding 1000 for his career - but only start three of them. In fact, this was the third appearance of Hernandez's career - and his last start. His next game began a streak of 1007 consecutive relief appearances.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Game of the Day (9/11/91)

Quick question before we get down to this: If you were told that the Atlanta Braves threw a no-hitter in 1991, who would you guess was the pitcher responsible?

If your guess was "no single pitcher, but Kent Mercker was the starter," congratulations on probably already having known the answer!

That contest isn't the Game of the Day for two reasons. First, combined no-hitters aren't as cool as the individual efforts (scientifically speaking, of course). And second, even with the benefit of my arbitrary no-hitter adjustment, it loses out anyway, falling victim to Rangers 11, Angels 9 (12).

Texas's Brian Bohanon was in his second MLB season, and would go on to be a solidly below-average pitcher for the next decade, ending with a career ERA of 5.19 that was not helped by his last three years, which were spent in Coors Field at its most extreme. And yet, he still fared better overall than California's Scott Lewis, a fellow second-year hurler who would depart the majors for good after five seasons and under 200 total innings.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Game of the Day (9/10/91)

White Sox 3, A's 1. Chicago's Charlie Hough faced Oakland's Mike Moore. I've done the "he makes a veteran pitcher seem like a whippersnapper" bit with Hough already this year, so let's move on to something these two have in common - they combined to lead the AL in batters faced three times in a four-year span from 1984-87. Notably, both Hough in '84 and Moore in '86 led the league in batters faced without leading the league in innings. Uncoincidentally, both of those seasons also led the AL in hits allowed.

By 1991, Hough was solidly on the downside of his career; Moore was having a fine season, but would join Hough in decline a year later.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Game of the Day (9/9/91)

Pirates 12, Cubs 10. Pittsburgh's John Smiley and Chicago's Danny Jackson ended up with very similar careers - both were lefties, both ended up with over 100 wins and losses, with ERAs very close to league average and career innings totals in the neighborhood of 2000.

But in 1991, Smiley was having one of his best seasons, and Jackson was having one of his worst.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Game of the Day (9/8/91)

Red Sox 17, Mariners 6.

Just kidding. That is the actual score of the last game of the four-game series between the two teams, but it occupied the opposite extreme to the other three; it was actually the least-dramatic game of the day.

The actual winner is Rangers 7, White Sox 6, yet another matchup of the two most dramatic teams of the season so far. The starters were an interesting pair - Jack McDowell for Chicago, Kevin Brown for Texas. McDowell was a year younger, and his career was off to a better start (39-29, 3.61 through 1991, compared to 35-32, 3.82 for Brown), a difference that would increase over the next two years (in which McDowell finished second and first in AL Cy Young voting). But Brown moved to the NL after the '95 season and went on to win a pair of ERA titles, and McDowell's effectiveness totally collapsed at exactly that moment. Brown would eventually exceed McDowell's career by nearly 1400 innings, and over 80 wins.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Game of the Day (9/7/91)

Red Sox 11, Mariners 10. Are you tired of these two teams yet?

Like the first game in the series, this one included one of the best starting pitchers of all time. It was not Boston's Kevin Morton, who somehow managed a winning record and an ERA only slightly worse than average in 1991 despite walking almost as many batters as he struck out - but was promptly exiled from the majors after completing his rookie year.

The Hall of Famer was Morton's fellow wild lefty, Randy Johnson, who was on his way to the second of three consecutive AL leads in walks issued. His control would improve at least slightly as his career went on.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Game of the Day (9/6/91)

Red Sox 6, Mariners 5. Seattle started Bill Krueger, who would eventually spend 13 years in the majors, play for eight teams, and split time between starting and relieving while never really distinguishing himself in either role (his career high in wins, set in 1991, was 11; he would amass a total of four major league saves).

His list of achievements still betters that of Matt Young, his opponent in this game. Young would spend 10 seasons in the majors (half of them for Seattle, in fact), and also split them roughly evenly between starting and relief. And in those ten seasons, he had a losing record in nine of them - often hugely so (12-19, 8-18, 0-4, 1-6, 3-7). His career ERA was only slightly worse than league average - but his record was 55-95.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Game of the Day (9/5/91)

Red Sox 4, Mariners 3 (10). Seattle's Erik Hanson was a fine pitcher. In 1990, he had gone 18-9 with an ERA over 20% better than the league average. 1991 was a bit of a step back, but his ERA was still a solid 3.81, and he was on his way to a winning career record and above-average ERA in over 1500 innings.

Boston started Roger Clemens, whose career would encompass over three times as many innings as Hanson's and almost exactly four times as many wins. So... yeah.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Game of the Day (9/4/91)

Expos 8, Braves 4. Atlanta's Steve Avery was 21 and on the way to 18 wins in his second major league season. In his third year, Montreal's Mark Gardner was also heading for a to-date career high in victories... with nine. At the age of 29.

So it probably won't surprise you to learn that... Mark Gardner ended up throwing more innings than Steve Avery? Actually, that might surprise some people.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Game of the Day (9/3/91)

Pirates 5, Giants 3 (10). Pittsburgh's Bob Walk was a veteran nearing the end of a fairly long, fairly respectable career. San Fran's Trevor Wilson was nearly a decade younger, generally not as good, and on his way to a shorter career.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Game of the Day (9/2/91)

Cardinals 7, Dodgers 4 (11). St. Louis started Ken Hill, who is something of a veteran of this feature, having started the Games of three previous Days in 1991. LA's Bob Ojeda had only made two GotD appearances in '91 before this - but also had four in 1984, so he's not exactly in unfamiliar territory either. So it's enough for now to say that both men were good pitchers, in 1991 and for the balance of their careers.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Game of the Day (9/1/91)

Phillies 5, Braves 4 (10). Philadephia's Bruce Ruffin was generally not as good as fellow lefty Charlie Leibrandt, Atlanta's starter for the day. That characterization also applied in 1991. But he was at least close enough that a start featuring the two of them wasn't an utter mismatch.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Game of the Day (8/31/91)

A's 9, Tigers 8 (10). Detroit's Walt Terrell faced Oakland's Mike Moore. So it's the same two teams as yesterday's homerfest, but with worse starting pitchers going.

(All right, to be fair, Moore had a very good 1991, and Terrell wasn't completely terrible.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Game of the Day (8/30/91)

A's 6, Tigers 3 (10). Detroit's Frank Tanana had once been great, but was now 37 years old and had less than 400 innings left. Oakland's Ron Darling had never really been great, but he had been very good. At age 30, he predictably had more time left than Tanana - but not that much more, as he would be out of the league after about 650 post-'91 innings.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Game of the Day (8/29/91)

Cubs 5, Giants 4. Both teams started 25-year-old pitchers who were on the way to career high innings totals (to this point, at least).

Which is about as much similarity as I can claim between San Francisco's Trevor Wilson and Chicago's Greg Maddux.

Melog Rankings: Pre-US Open 2016

The year's final Slam, the US Open, starts today. And the lead-up to the Open has been unsettled at best; each of the usual favorites comes in with some kind of red flag.

Novak Djokovic, still comfortably #1 in the world and the defending US Open champion, lost in the first round of the Rio Olympics (albeit to about the toughest draw imaginable for a first-round match), then withdrew from the Cincinnati Masters with a wrist injury. If the wrist is still less than 100%, he could run into problems as early as the fourth round, when he likely faces either John Isner or Richard Gasquet.

Rafael Nadal is in the second quarter of the draw, and scoffs at Djokovic's injury worries; his own wrist issues are also on the left side, but since he's left-handed, that's rather more important for him. He reached the Olympic semis before losing back-to-back matches to miss out on a medal (although he did win gold in doubles); more troubling, he lost decisively in the Cincinnati round of 16 in a match that was almost certainly affected by injury. His segment of the bracket isn't overpowering, but Roberto Bautista Agut is a possible fourth-rounder, and he made Djokovic work quite hard at the same stage of the tournament last year. Likely foes beyond that point are Milos Raonic and Gael Monfils, both of whom have played formidably well this year.

Andy Murray is in better physical shape than the other two, and was on a run of some of the best tennis of his life, winning Queen's Club, Wimbledon, and Olympic gold in succession. He then cruised into the Cincinnati final - and lost in straight sets to Marin Cilic, who had never before made the semifinal of a Masters. Cilic is certainly capable of brilliant play at times, but Murray entered that match with an 11-3 record against him and the longest winning streak of his career, and... fatigue or no, that's probably a match he should have won.

But all three of them are better off than Roger Federer, whose knee-driven absence from the tour continues, and really starts to take its toll on his ranking this week.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Game of the Day (8/28/91)

Eleven years before the 1991 season, the Astros and Phillies met in the NLCS. Even though it led to Philadelphia's first World Series title, that series is not widely remembered today; recollections of baseball around that time tend to focus on a few great teams (including the Royals, who faced the Phillies in the subsequent World Series), and the Astros are not one of them.

Remembered or not, the 1980 NLCS is one of the greatest playoff series of all time. It lasted the full five games (the LCS round was best-of-five until 1985), and four of the five contests went into extra innings. Three of them included at least two lead changes from the eighth inning on, often in swings of multiple runs at a time.

Just over a decade later, those two teams had fallen on harder times; their fortunes were looking up for the future, but both had losing records as of late August 1991. But on this particular date, they treated their fans to a performance that served as a belated encore to that fateful October week: Phillies 11, Astros 10 (10). The starting pitchers were Ryan Bowen for Houston and Terry Mulholland for the Phils; we've seen both of them before in 1991, and Mulholland, at least, would be seen again regularly by the fans of quite a few different teams over the course of the next decade and a half.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Game of the Day (8/27/91)

Cardinals 5, Giants 4. San Francisco started John Burkett, a young right-hander whose career looks very light on strikeouts by present-day standards (5.7 K/9 in 1991, 6.0 over the course of his 15-year career). St. Louis opposed him with Bob Tewksbury, who was significantly less K-prone even than Burkett, or basically any other successful pitcher from Tewksbury's time or ours: 3/5 K/9 in '91, 4.0 for his career.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Game of the Day (8/26/91)

Mariners 5, Brewers 4 (14). By the standards of pitchers who spent 13 years in the major leagues, Seattle's Bill Krueger is rather anonymous. He pitched just under 1200 innings in his career, splitting his 301 appearances fairly evenly between starting and relief. He qualified for the ERA title only twice. 1991 was probably his best season, featuring 175 innings pitched, a 3.60 ERA that was 14% better than the park-adjusted league average, and a career-high 11 wins. If that's your best season, you're not just flying under the radar; you're flying stealth.

And yet, Krueger was far more notorious than his opponent. Milwaukee's Mike Ignasiak was making the first start of a career in which he would pitch less than 150 innings, most of them out of the Brewer bullpen and many of them rather ineffective.

Little-known decade-long pitchers suddenly look much better when they're compared to the dozens of pitchers with much shorter careers. And the hundreds of pitchers who never make the majors, and the thousands who never play professionally...

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Game of the Day (8/25/91)

Rangers 8, Royals 4 (11). Texas's Bobby Witt and KC's Mark Gubicza both had careers over 2000 innings long and won over 130 games. So it would be something of an understatement to say that both of them had their share of good moments in the majors.

But virtually none of those good moments came in 1991 for either pitcher; neither would qualify for the ERA title and Gubicza's 5.68 ERA was the lower among the two of them.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Game of the Day (8/24/91)

Phillies 6, Braves 5. Philadelphia's Danny Cox, who had once been a capable regular starter and was now struggling to come back from injury, faced Atlanta's John Smoltz, whose career would eventually include stretches of both of those types - and several others as well.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Game of the Day (8/23/91)

Blue Jays 6, Yankees 5. Toronto had acquired Tom Candiotti at midseason; the knuckleballer would spend 16 total years in the majors, but this was his first and last season with the Blue Jays.

New York's Wade Taylor was in his first and last big league season, period. Which, given his 6-plus ERA, doesn't come as a shock.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Game of the Day (8/22/91)

Twins 5, Mariners 4 (10). Seattle started Rich DeLucia, who was on the way to a 182-inning season that more than doubled his second-highest seasonal total. Minnesota replied with Jack Morris, who would exceed DeLucia's career high innings workload in 13 of his 18 seasons in the majors.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Game of the Day (8/21/91)

Braves 10, Reds 9 (13). Atlanta started Armando Reynoso, a rare weak spot in their generally excellent rotation. Cincinnati responded with Kip Gross, who wasn't exactly a strong point himself - a status that was all too common among the starters for the defending World Series champs.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Game of the Day (8/20/91)

Phillies 6, Pirates 5. Pittsburgh's John Smiley and Philadelphia's Tommy Greene were both having seasons that would generally be considered at least among their best, and arguably their best (though WAR would disagree with the latter assertion); Smiley won 20 games, while Greene threw a no-hitter and was generally solid outside of it as well.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Game of the Day (8/19/91)

Cubs 3, Expos 2 (11). Both starting pitchers were in their mid-20's, and both of them had started Games of earlier Days in 1991.

That is about all that Montreal's Brian Barnes and Chicago's Greg Maddux have in common.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Game of the Day (8/17/91)

Dodgers 8, Astros 7 (10). LA started Bob Ojeda, who I did not know had ever pitched for them. Houston started Ryan Bowen, who I'm unfamiliar with altogether. (Not without reason; the only time he exceeded 100 innings in a season was for the expansion '93 Marlins.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Game of the Day (8/16/91)

Twins 5, A's 4 (12). Oakland's Mike Moore and Minnesota's Kevin Tapani were at inverse stages of their careers; Moore had been in the league for a decade and had four more seasons left, while Tapani was in his third year in the majors, but had ten to go. So it might come as a mild surprise that the age difference between them was only four years and change.

Or maybe not; their careers are really only offset by about two years in age, which is hardly all that uncommon for pitchers. Let's get to the recap.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Melog Rankings: Post-Olympics 2016

So, over the last two weeks, not much has happened on the ATP World Tour. The first week of August saw Nick Kyrgios win the second title of his career by dethroning John Isner in Atlanta, and a week later we visited the opposite end of the age spectrum when the venerable Ivo Karlovic knocked off Feliciano Lopez in the final in Los Cabos. There was some interesting stuff in Challengers as well (young American Frances Tiafoe won his first Challenger title, while even younger Canadian Denis Shapovalov made a quarterfinal and a semifinal in back-to-back events), but outside of that, there's very little to report...

Oh, wait: The Olympics also occurred - and they were rather interesting, to say the least. Andy Murray won his second gold medal, making him the first men's singles player to do that. Kei Nishikori continued establishing himself as a second-tier star by grabbing the bronze; his victory in the third-place match came against Rafael Nadal, whose triumphant return from injury also included a gold in doubles.

And all of that was deservedly upstaged by Juan Martin del Potro, who upset #1 Novak Djokovic in the first round, edged Nadal in the semifinals, and made Murray work pretty hard to secure the gold.

Del Potro entered the Olympics ranked #141 by the ATP, which is not uncommon for a quality player who's working his way back from an injury. And after his stunning run in Rio, he is ranked... #141, because the ATP decided not to award points for the Olympics this year. (In 2012, the silver medal was worth 450 points; Delpo would be in a tie for ATP #53 if the Games were counted the same way this year. Which is a pretty big difference.)

But we're not all bound by the ATP's decision. So let's see what Melog, which does count the Olympics, has to say about the current state of the men's tour as we approach the US Open.

Game of the Day (8/15/91)

Cubs 7, Expos 6. Chicago's Bob Scanlan was a rookie making the twelfth start of his career (and his first in about a month and a half; he'd been demoted to the bullpen for the intervening period). And yet, he was the more experienced of the two hurlers, as Montreal's Chris Haney was making his eighth start (with no relief appearances). Both pitchers would extend their careers into the next century, but neither would exceed 1000 innings in his MLB tenure.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Game of the Day (8/14/91)

White Sox 9, Tigers 8. By any standard, Detroit's Walt Terrell was a veteran pitcher in 1991; it was his tenth (and second-to-last) year in the league, and in his previous start, on August 10, he had won the 100th game of his career.

Chicago's Charlie Hough was a decade older than Terrell, and had been in the league twelve years longer. And his arm still had three more years in it to Terrell's one.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Game of the Day (8/13/91)

Orioles 4, Rangers 3 (12). Texas's Brian Bohanon was a mediocre pitcher who would spend over a decade in the majors and start over half of his games, but averaged less than 100 innings per season. Baltimore's Bob Milacki spent less time in relief - but also made fewer starts than Bohanon did in his career, which fell just shy of 800 innings.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Game of the Day (8/12/91)

Pirates 4, Cardinals 3 (11). Pittsburgh's Zane Smith was 30 years old and spent his 13-year career floating consistently around average. St. Louis's Jose DeLeon was also 30-years old, and would also end up with a 13-year career. His production varied wildly between seasons - and overall, ended up right around average. Both men would end within 25 total innings of each other, and with significant losing records despite above-average ERAs.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Game of the Day (8/11/91)

Cubs 3, Mets 2 (14). New York's Sid Fernandez and Chicago's Rick Sutcliffe were both capable pitchers - and both had seen much better days than they were having in 1991.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Game of the Day (8/10/91)

Giants 4, Dodgers 3. San Francisco's Don Robinson was 34 and in the second-to-last of his 15 major league seasons. LA's Ramon Martinez was 23 and in the fourth of 14. (It was also the last year before his brother, who was also a pitcher of some note, debuted.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Game of the Day (8/9/91)

Giants 1, Dodgers 0 (13). LA's Tim Belcher was on his way to a fine career that lasted nearly 2500 innings and would include league leads in complete games and shutouts (good), as well as earned runs allowed and losses (not as good). San Francisco's Trevor Wilson debuted three years younger than Belcher (22 to 25), but would end up with a career of less than a third as many innings, mostly thanks to injuries.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Game of the Day (8/8/91)

Tigers 4, Blue Jays 0 (14). Detroit's Bill Gullickson was on the way to the only 20-win season of his decade-plus MLB career. Toronto's Tom Candiotti had managed to escape the dreadful Indians in a midseason trade; despite rather similar overall performances for teams of wildly varying quality, he somehow managed to post both a winning record in Cleveland and a losing record with the division-winning Jays, ending up at 13-13.

Despite the difference in their records, Candiotti's seasonal ERA was over a run lower than Gullickson's. Go figure.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Game of the Day (8/7/91)

Phillies 5, Cubs 4 (11). The matchup was two eventual journeymen, Chicago's Mike Bielecki against Philly's Terry Mulholland. Both men were on their second teams; Bielecki would eventually pitch for five, Mulholland for eleven (including multiple stints for the team he opposed in this game).

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Game of the Day (8/6/91)

Phillies 6, Cubs 2 (11). Chicago's Rick Sutcliffe was a former Cy Young winner. Philadelphia's Bruce Ruffin hadn't posted an ERA+ better than 81 since 1987. But in 1991, both of them were basically average pitchers.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Game of the Day (8/5/91)

Astros 2, Padres 1 (12). Houston's Pete Harnisch and San Diego's Greg Harris were both having excellent years. It was Harris's first time as a full-time starter, and Harnisch's first time posting an ERA better than league average, and both were young enough that their production could have been taken as a highly promising sign. Neither pitcher would ever really be a star, but both ended up with creditable careers.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Game of the Day (8/4/91)

Mariners 5, Angels 2 (12). The two starting pitchers in this game were not particularly similar in terms of performance... but both of them debuted with the Mariners, and both of them had four-letter first names that included the letters R and K in that order, along with last names that included A, N, S, O, N, also in that order.

On the other hand, Seattle's Erik Hanson was a 6-foot-6 right-hander who would end up throwing barely half as many career innings as California's Mark Langston, a notably shorter and significantly slimmer left-hander.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Game of the Day (8/3/91)

Cardinals 6, Pirates 5 (10). St. Louis's Bryn Smith was 35 and had left his best years behind him; after the '91 season, he had about 50 innings left in his career. Pittsburgh's Doug Drabek was on his way to 22 wins and the Cy Young. The matchup wasn't as uneven as it sounds, but it wasn't particularly even either.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Game of the Day (8/2/91)

Phillies 6, Expos 5 (11). The Phillies started Danny Cox, who had fairly recently returned to the majors after a two-year absence. The Expos responded with Dennis Martinez, who had very recently thrown a perfect game. So... not the most even of matchups.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Melog Rankings (Pre-Olympics 2016)

The tennis schedule is a mess right now - and as a result, so are the rankings.

This was touched on briefly last time, but I probably didn't quite give it the emphasis it deserved. The Olympics are coming up, and the tennis schedule was radically adjusted to compensate for their presence; there will be only one 250-point event this week (Atlanta), and one next week (Los Cabos). The Rogers Cup (held in Toronto this year) would normally have been scheduled to take place next week, but was shifted two weeks earlier, also to adjust for the Olympics - and as usual, no other ATP event can take place in the same week as a Masters.

The results of all those machinations were... interesting. Here is a table showing what the schedule between Wimbledon and the Cincinnati Masters has looked like each of the last two years. (The table is color-coded by surface - hopefully in self-explanatory fashion; blue is hard, brown-orange is clay, green is grass. Davis Cup quarterfinals were played on varying surfaces so they're left in black. Week 3 for 2016 was just completed.)

Newport; Davis Cup QF
Bastad; Hamburg; Newport; Davis Cup QF
Bastad; Bogota; Umag
Gstaad; Kitzbuhel; Umag; Washington
Atlanta; Gstaad; Hamburg
Toronto Masters
Kitzbuhel; Washington
Atlanta; Rio Olympics
Montreal Masters
Los Cabos; Rio Olympics

Bastad and Gstaad were both held a week earlier than usual. Hamburg, Washington, and Kitzbuhel were both held two weeks earlier than usual, as was the Rogers Cup. Atlanta, meanwhile, is a week late, and Los Cabos, which replaces Bogota on the schedule, is three weeks late.

What that means is that as of now, the ATP rankings (and my rankings, for that matter) include two Rogers Cups (Novak Djokovic won one and lost the final in the other, and temporarily gets 1600 points for the combination), along with two Washingtons and two Kitzbuhels, but no Atlantas or Bogota/LosCaboses. (They also include no Olympics - but that will still be true two weeks from now, as no ranking points are being given for the Olympics this year.)

All of this will come out in the wash two weeks from now... kind of. But the compressed post-Wimbledon clay schedule (especially moving Hamburg to the week after Wimbledon) will have consequences that last for the next twelve months, as the fields in those events were severely diluted (players outside the top 100 received direct entry into several of those 250-point events).

Put it this way: The top seed in the 500-point event in Hamburg was Philipp Kohlschreiber, who came into the event ranked #22 in the world by the ATP. In the first week of this year, the tournament held in Brisbane had all eight of its seeds ranked in the top 20 - and yet Milos Raonic gets only 250 points for winning that title, and Martin Klizan gets 500 from his victory in Hamburg.

(Or put it this way... the final in Kitzbuhel this year was Paolo Lorenzi over Nikoloz Basilashvili. After that match, both of those men lost before the semis in the events they played the next week - which doesn't sound all that uncommon until you realize that both of them were playing Challengers.

Let's get into the mess.

Game of the Day (8/1/91)

Royals 6, Brewers 5 (11), KC's Mike Boddicker made over 300 starts in his career. Milwaukee's Jim Hunter made six. But hey, a third of Hunter's starts were Games of their respective Days, and I'm fairly confident that Boddicker can't say that...

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Game of the Day (7/31/91)

July 31 brought the year's two most exciting teams together again. The AL West rivals in Chicago and Texas played one of the best nine-inning contests of the year to date, in which the score went from 1-0 to 1-1 to 4-1 to 5-4 to 5-5 to 8-5 to 10-8, with the last change coming courtesy of a walkoff grand slam from a young star off of a Hall of Fame closer. It was exactly the kind of game I love writing about.

And it was exceeded, easily, by Red Sox 11, A's 10 (14). The pitching matchup was Oakland's Dave Stewart, posting a disappointing season in the midst of a solid career, and Boston's Dana Kiecker, posting a terrible season that ended his justifiably brief career. (This was actually Kiecker's last career start; he made a few relief appearances later in the year and then was done in the majors for good.)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Game of the Day (7/30/91)

Reds 6, Cubs 5 (10). Cincinnati started Tom Browning, who once threw a perfect game. Chicago responded with Greg Maddux, who never even managed a measly no-hitter.

See, if you try hard enough, you can make any pitching matchup sound even! (Seriously, though, Browning was decent, and Maddux, while very good, was not MADDUX quite yet.)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Game of the Day (7/29/91)

Giants 6, Expos 5. Montreal's Brian Barnes was over two years younger than San Fran's John Burkett, and if you didn't look too closely, you might think they were similar pitchers. In actuality, Burkett was solidly better (as indicated by his peripheral numbers in '91), and proved it by lasting nine years past the end of Barnes's career.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Game of the Day (7/28/91)

Expos 2, Dodgers 0. Montreal's Dennis Martinez was 37 years old, but playing on only the second of what would eventually be five teams. LA's Mike Morgan was over half a decade younger, and yet had already played for more teams (six) than Martinez would join in his entire lengthy career. Oh, and his travels were only half over.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Game of the Day (7/27/91)

White Sox 10, Red Sox 8 (14). Chicago's Greg Hibbard was a fairly decent, fairly young lefty who was becoming both older and less decent. Boston's Roger Clemens was on the way to the third of what would eventually be seven Cy Young awards.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Game of the Day (7/26/91)

Tigers 3, Rangers 2 (10). Detroit started the declining Walt Terrell; Texas, the young Kevin Brown. As of this point in time, there was absolutely no guarantee that Kevin Brown would end up with a career as good as Walt Terrell's.

(Spoiler: He did. In fact, he ended up being rather better.)

Game of the Day (7/25/91)

Cubs 5, Reds 4 (13). Cincinnati started Jose Rijo, who was kept under 2000 innings by injuries, but still managed to be an All-Star and receive MVP votes in two separate seasons (not counting his World Series MVP win in 1990). He was opposed by Greg Maddux, an even better pitcher whose career was not shortened at all by injuries (or by anything else, really).

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Game of the Day (7/24/91)

Cardinals 4, Astros 3. Houston's Pete Harnisch and St. Louis's Ken Hill were both right-handed pitchers in their mid-20's and were both on the way to nearly identically solid careers. (Seriously, it's almost alarming how similar they are - they're both among each other's top 5 similar pitchers per Baseball Reference, and that doesn't account for the fact that they both pitched for exactly the same years, 1988-2001.)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Game of the Day (7/23/91)

A's 10, Indians 7. Oakland's Bob Welch was the reigning AL Cy Young winner and an eventual 200-game winner. Cleveland's Rod Nichols would go on to throw less than 500 innings in his career and post a record of 11-31.

And yet, Nichols was in the process of having the better season in 1991.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Game of the Day (7/22/91)

White Sox 5, Brewers 4. Chicago's Greg Hibbard, who was a pretty solid pitcher for just under 1000 innings, faced Milwaukee's Bill Wegman, who was a pretty solid pitcher for just under 1500 innings.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Game of the Day (7/21/91)

Rangers 6, Blue Jays 5. At age 24, Toronto's Juan Guzman was in the first year of a decade-long big league career. A year younger, Texas's Gerald Alexander was in the midst of exceeding 10 innings in a season for the first and last time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Game of the Day (7/20/91)

White Sox 7, Brewers 6 (10). We've seen Chicago's Ramon Garcia in two previous Game of the Day entries this year, and both times, he was facing an exceptional starting pitcher. This time, the pitcher he opposed had his name on a Hall of Fame plaque; it just happened to be a plaque belonging to someone else. The Jim Hunter who was starting this game for the Brewers would never be referred to as "Catfish," at least as far as I'm aware; he would also pitch 31 innings in his career, and give up 26 runs. Which is a lot closer together than you'd usually like those numbers to be.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Game of the Day (7/19/91)

Twins 3, Red Sox 2 (11). Minnesota's David West was a swingman who would spend about a decade in the majors, never qualify for the ERA title, and pitch under 1000 innings split between four teams. Boston's Joe Hesketh would have a highly similar career, just a better version of it (and spent only on three teams rather than four).

Monday, July 18, 2016

Game of the Day (7/18/91)

Angels 5, Indians 4. Both starters were left-handers in their 20's who would end up with careers long enough to lose over 100 games, but not of sufficient quality to approach the Hall of Fame (one of the pitchers made the All-Star team once, while the other received Cy Young votes once). Cleveland's Greg Swindell was the better of the two, but was still rather less famous than his counterpart; becoming a major league pitcher with only one hand will do that.

(California's starter was Jim Abbott, in case that wasn't clear.)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Game of the Day (7/17/91)

Royals 9, Orioles 8 (15). Baltimore's Ben McDonald was 23 and had posted an excellent partial season in 1990. KC's Mark Gubicza was a veteran at 28, and had been an All Star in two of the three preceding seasons.

But we're past the midway point of the season now, and it's time to start talking about how the pitchers were doing in the '91 season itself. In this case, both of them had ERAs over 5.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Game of the Day (7/16/91)

A's 7, Indians 6 (13). Oakland's Dave Stewart, who was coming to the end of a tenure as a successful starter on a team with a great lineup, faced Cleveland's Charles Nagy, who was just about to begin such a stretch.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Game of the Day (7/15/91)

Blue Jays 5, Royals 3 (12). Toronto's Juan Guzman was a promising rookie. Kansas City's Mike Boddicker was also a promising rookie... eight years ago. (He still wasn't too bad in 1991 but didn't have much left after the season.)

Game of the Day (7/14/91)

A's 3, Orioles 2 (11). Oakland's Mike Moore had entered the league at age 22 in 1982 and been a solid starter for several years. In 1991, he was on the way to one of his best seasons, and would hang around for a few more years. Baltimore's Roy Smith had entered the league at age 22 in 1984, and made very intermittent appearances up to this point; he threw over 100 innings in only two seasons, and was to be out of the league at the end of the '91 season.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Game of the Day (7/13/91)

Orioles 2, A's 0. Baltimore's Bob Milacki, a moderately effective, moderately young right-hander, faced Oakland's Eric Show, a much older righty who had once been better than Milacki ever would be, but was now deservedly in the last year of his career.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Game of the Day (7/12/91)

Yankees 2, Angels 1 (10). California's Mark Langston was in his eighth major league season and a firmly-established star. New York's Scott Kamieniecki was making the fifth start in a decent career that would end up encompassing just under 1000 innings.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Melog rankings: Post-Wimbledon 2016

Well THAT was interesting.

It's not necessarily an earth-shaking shock to see Novak Djokovic lose; it was always going to happen eventually, and grass is a surface that's prone to creating upsets, because it's harder to break serve. So in the abstract, losing a four-set match (including two tiebreaks) to a server of Sam Querrey's quality isn't the most appalling thing that could happen to a tennis player; Querrey isn't even the lowest-ranked player Novak has lost to this year. But given that Djokovic hadn't lost a Grand Slam match in 13 months... it's still rather startling.

The loss drives home two points. First, it is REALLY DIFFICULT to do what Djokovic did in capturing four consecutive Slams; you have one bad day against the wrong person, and it's over. And second, nobody is unbeatable - either in the matches themselves or in the rankings. (Don't look now, but Novak's lead on Andy Murray in the ATP's Race to London - which counts 2016 points only - is suddenly less than 1000 points, a very manageable deficit. A strong finish to the year could get Murray to the ATP #1 spot for the first time.)

So let's see what the turmoil of Wimbledon (or at least relative turmoil - the world #2 still won the title, after all) does to Melog's opinion of the world's best tennis players.

Game of the Day (7/11/91)

Astros 6, Cubs 4 (11). Houston's Jim Deshaies, a decent pitcher having a bad year, took on Chicago's Greg Maddux, a great pitcher having a good year.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Game of the Day (7/7/91)

Cardinals 8, Cubs 7 (12). St. Louis began the game with Ken Hill, a starter who would go on to a fairly long career. The Cubs started Les Lancaster, who was primarily a reliever and would have a fairly short career.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Game of the Day (7/6/91)

Blue Jays 4, Mariners 3 (10). The two starters were both lefties in their late 20's who were still struggling to put everything together. Most pitchers in that position don't work out - but teams keep giving them chances, because sometimes they turn into David Wells and Randy Johnson.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Game of the Day (7/5/91)

Expos 4, Pirates 3. The two starters were Pittsburgh's John Smiley, a highly inconsistent pitcher who would end up with a career of nearly 2000 innings, and Montreal's Dennis Martinez, who was only slightly more consistent in a career over twice as long as Smiley's.

In many seasons, this could have been a dud of a matchup; in 1991, it pitted an eventual 20-game winner against the eventual NL ERA champion.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Game of the Day (7/4/91)

Padres 5, Dodgers 4 (12). San Diego's Greg Harris would eventually have a decent eight-year career spread across three teams. LA's Mike Morgan had played for five teams in his first eight seasons; at this point, he was in year 11 and on team 6, and was still just warming up.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Game of the Day (7/3/91)

White Sox 3, Mariners 2 (12). Seattle started Bill Krueger, who was in his ninth reasonably effective major league season and on his fourth team. Chicago's answer was Charlie Hough, in his twenty-second MLB season, but just starting out with his third team.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Game of the Day (7/2/91)

Mets 2, Expos 1. Montreal started Oil Can Boyd, who was doing fairly well for it being his last year in the majors. New York started David Cone, who was also doing fairly well for being stuck pitching in front of a horrible group of fielders. (Per Baseball Reference, his ERA was three quarters of a run higher than his league-best FIP.)

Friday, July 1, 2016

Game of the Day (7/1/91)

Cubs 6, Pirates 5 (13). Pittsburgh's Bob Walk had two years remaining in a career that was pretty long and usually fairly solid. He was opposed by Frank Castillo, who was making his second big league appearance, and who would end up with a very similar career.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Game of the Day (6/30/91)

Giants 8, Padres 7 (10). San Diego started promising youngster Andy Benes, who at age 23 had been in the big leagues for two years an dwas on his way to probably his best MLB season. San Francisco countered with a player who was two years older, but had made his MLB debut earlier in the month, and would return to the minors after less than 50 innings. It would be six more years before Mike Remlinger fully established himself in the majors, but he would still go on to a productive career, most of it spent in relief.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Game of the Day (6/29/91)

Rangers 7, Angels 4 (13). California's Chuck Finley was making the 111th start of his distinguished career (or eleventy-first, if you're a hobbit), one which would eventually include 467 starts. Texas responded with Gerald Alexander, who was making start number seven and had four more to go.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Game of the Day (6/28/91)

Braves 3, Dodges 2 (10). Atlanta's Steve Avery was a good young lefty who would get worse with age. LA's Bob Ojeda was a significantly older lefty who had gotten better with age. Which means both of them were good at the time this game took place.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Game of the Day (6/27/91)

Rangers 9, A's 6. We occasionally run into pitchers who are at opposite ends of their careers, but rarely to this extent. Texas's Terry Mathews was making the first start of his big league career (which sounds less impressive when you realize he only ended up making five starts in his career, but it was his fourth appearance overall and he would pitch in over 300 games). Oakland's Andy Hawkins, meanwhile, had less than 10 starts remaining in his decade-long career.

Melog rankings: Pre-Wimbledon 2016

Wimbledon is coming! It's arguably the biggest two weeks of the year in tennis; it's technically no more important than the other three Slams, but there's a certain cachet to Wimbledon that makes it seem weightier, even if it is played on a surface that has practically vanished from the tennis calendar apart from the tournaments they throw in for a few weeks before Wimbledon to give players a chance to remember how to play on grass again after ignoring its existence for eleven months a year.

(Normally, that persistent unfamiliarity also makes it a tournament prone to upsets. But given that the top three seeds in this year's men's draw have a combined 11 Wimbledon titles, plus gold and silver medals won there four years ago, it may be a bit more stable this time around.)

This Wimbledon is a big one. (I mean, they all are. But still.) Novak Djokovic will be going for a third straight title on the turf, and a fifth straight Slam overall. Roger Federer will be facing questions of whether he can still contend for another Slam title, and Wimbledon, as always, represents his best shot. And it may also be Andy Murray's best chance to dethrone the uncontested world #1.

Beyond those three players (and Rafael Nadal, who's sitting out Wimbledon with a wrist injury), there's a ton of movement in the rankings (both Melog and otherwise) for the year so far, and that makes it difficult to pick out other candidates for the title. But big serves have been known to play well on grass in the past, and both Milos Raonic and Nick Kyrgios have had success at Wimbledon before, so they're at least worth watching for the next couple of weeks.

There's a great deal to talk about as Wimbledon begins, so let's spend a bit of time on... things that are not Wimbledon. Namely, the effect of the rest of grass season on the Melog ratings.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Game of the Day (6/26/91)

Tigers 8, Brewers 7 (13). Milwaukee's Jaime Navarro had a very long career as a back-of-the-rotation starter; he was below-average most of the time, but better than anyone you could easily find to replace him. Which doesn't sound that impressive until you compare him to Detroit's Dan Gakeler, who lasted less than 100 innings in the majors, and appears to have deserved it.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Game of the Day (6/25/91)

Orioles 5, Indians 3 (12). Baltimore's Jeff Robinson, who would throw just over 700 innings in his career with an ERA+ of 83, faced Cleveland's Rod Nichols, who would narrowly exceed 400 innings and post a 92 ERA+ in the majors.

Sometimes, I have something interesting to say about a pitching matchup. This is not one of those times.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Game of the Day (6/24/91)

Blue Jays 4, Indians 3. The young Charles Nagy started for Cleveland against Toronto veteran Jimmy Key. Both pitchers were good; Key was better, especially this year.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Game of the Day (6/23/91)

June 23, 1991, scores as the day with the most cumulative baseball-related excitement of the '91 season to date. It featured, among many others, a game in which the Royals pulled ahead 5-0 by the third inning; the Orioles trailed them by that margin for most of the contest, but pulled within one in the eighth. Kansas City then put up three runs in the bottom of the eighth - so Baltimore scored four in the ninth to tie it, then three more in the tenth to win.

And then they played the second game of the doubleheader: Orioles 9, Royals 8 (12). Baltimore's Jose Mesa was called on to start against KC's Luis Aquino; Mesa was an ineffective starter who would later transition very successfully to the bullpen, while Aquino would make that transition in both directions throughout his career, with notably less success.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Game of the Day (6/22/91)

Astros 4, Phillies 3 (10). Houston's Jim Deshaies, who we saw in his last start, took on Philly's Tommy Greene, who we've already seen a couple of times a year. Since we've already met both pitchers, let's get to the game.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Game of the Day (6/21/91)

Through this point in the season, the two most dramatic teams in the league (and by a significant margin) were the White Sox and Rangers. They faced each other for four games in Texas earlier in June, producing one Game of the Day. And now, they were in Chicago, and cranked out another one: White Sox 6, Rangers 5 (11).

The prior GotD selection between these two teams featured very brief major leaguer Ramon Garcia and eventual multiple ERA titlist Kevin Brown as the starters, with a massive career-length edge going to the Texas starter. This time, Garcia was going again for the White Sox. On the bright side for him, he didn't have to face Brown in this contest; the downside was that the alternative was Nolan Ryan, who would have 19 seasons in which he exceeded Garcia's career-high in innings pitched, including two in which he exceeded Garcia's career total in innings pitched.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Game of the Day (6/20/91)

Red Sox 8, A's 7. Oakland's Dave Stewart was on his way to a distinctly unimpressive season. Boston's Mike Gardiner was en route to a distinctly unimpressive career.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Game of the Day (6/19/91)

Padres 6, Pirates 5. The pitching matchup in this game proves that baseball can produce above-average pitchers with fairly long careers from A(ndy Benes) to Z(ane Smith).

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Game of the Day (6/18/91)

Dodgers 6, Cubs 5 (13). Chicago's Bob Scanlan was making the ninth start of his career (and the third Game of the Day start). LA's Tim Belcher had been around a bit longer - and had a lot longer left, as well. Because he was a better pitcher.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Game of the Day (6/17/91)

Expos 3, Astros 2 (16). Houston's Jim Deshaies took on Montreal's Oil Can Boyd. Boyd's career numbers look a bit better overall, but if you remove Deshaies's initial cup of coffee in 1984 and disastrous last two seasons in 1994-95, they're nearly identically mediocre.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Game of the Day (6/16/91)

Rangers 4, Yankees 3 (15). New York started Scott Sanderson, who would end up with a 19-year major league career that encompassed over 160 wins and 2500 innings, but would fly mostly under the radar for that entire time. (In fact, he was on the way to his only All-Star selection in 1991, despite the fact that his first-half ERA would end at 3.93, hardly a stellar figure in this context.)

He was opposed by one of the rare starters whose career would last even longer, albeit with slightly more notoriety attached: one Nolan Ryan.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Game of the Day (6/15/91)

Cardinals 5, Dodgers 4. Why yes, it's the same two teams again! At least they're using different pitchers this time - the aging Bryn Smith for St. Louis, and the young Ramon Martinez for LA.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Game of the Day (6/14/91)

Dodgers 2, Cardinals 1. St. Louis started Jose DeLeon; LA replied with Orel Hershiser. Wait, didn't we do this matchup already?

(Yes, we did, ten entire days ago. DeLeon's start in between these two games was also a Game of the Day. Apparently, watching Jose DeLeon pitch in June of 1991 was guaranteed excitement.)