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.)

Monday, June 13, 2016

Grand Slam Scores update: Mid-2016

As has been mentioned previously here (and in many, many other places), Novak Djokovic won the French Open. That completes the career Slam for him (and the consecutive Slam), making him the first player since a lot of different people to do a lot of different things. (Among others, he's the first since Rafael Nadal to complete the career Slam, the first since Jim Courier to win the Australian and French in the same year, and the first since Rod Laver to hold all four Slams at once.)

So let's check and see what Grand Slam Scores now think of his career as a whole. (And, you know, everyone else. But mostly Djokovic, come on.)

Game of the Day (6/13/91)

Cubs 4, Giants 3. San Francisco's Trevor Wilson, who was in the middle of the best year of his mediocre and fairly brief career, took on Chicago's Bob Scanlan, who was in the first year of his also-mediocre and even briefer career.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Game of the Day (6/12/91)

Expos 10, Reds 9. Cincinnati started Jack Armstrong, who had started the previous year's All Star game. Montreal countered with Oil Can Boyd, who was (deservedly) in the last year of his career.

Montreal still had the advantage in the pitching matchup. Jack Armstrong, All Star starter, is one of the weirdest footnotes from this period in baseball history.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Game of the Day (6/11/91)

Giants 8, Cubs 6 (10). San Francisco started Bud Black, who was on his way to leading the NL in losses in 1991, but who was a generally solid pitcher; he would post a winning record and above-average ERA in his 15-year career, and won a World Series with the 1985 Royals. He would go on to be an apparently decent manager for the Padres for parts of nine seasons before being fired last year.

In fact, to this point in their respective careers, Black had earned over three times as many WAR as his Chicago opponent. But since said foe was the young Greg Maddux, Black's advantage would be short-lived.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Game of the Day (6/10/91)

White Sox 3, Rangers 2 (13). Chicago started Ramon Garcia, who would throw just over 300 innings in his major league career. Texas responded with Kevin Brown, who would throw over 10 times that many.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Game of the Day (6/9/91)

Giants 3, Cardinals 2. St. Louis started Jose DeLeon, who was approaching the end of a highly-variable but ultimately solid career. San Francisco responded with John Burkett, who was just starting out on a more consistent, but eventually similar MLB tenure.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Game of the Day (6/8/91)

Mets 4, Astros 3 (11). Houston sent rookie Darryl Kile, who was making the second GotD start of his young career. He was opposed by Met swingman Wally Whitehurst, whose career would last less than a quarter as many innings.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Game of the Day (6/7/91)

Phillies 5, Reds 4. Cincinnati started Jack Armstrong, who had been the NL's starting pitcher in the All-Star game a year earlier. Philadelphia countered with Tommy Greene, who had posted a 5.08 ERA in 1990.

The Phillies had the clear advantage in this pitching matchup. Which goes some distance toward establishing the frailty of quality pitcher performance.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Melog Rankings: Post-French Open 2016

Novak Djokovic won the French Open yesterday. That completes not just the career Slam, but also the consecutive Slam; he currently holds all four Grand Slam titles in men's singles, which nobody has done since Rod Laver, who completed the feat the same year that man first walked on the moon.

Djokovic was already a titan of the game in historic terms, and his accomplishment of a feat that neither of his great rivals (Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal) ever managed indicates that he may well be priming for a run at the title of greatest player ever.

We'll get to that more in another post, as we update Grand Slam Scores from the Roland Garros results. For now, let's take a look at the current Melog ratings and see if we can figure out why the greatest moment of Djokovic's career caused his rating to... drop?

Game of the Day (6/6/91)

Royals 4, Rangers 3 (18). The Royals started Bret Saberhagen, who could reasonably have been considered one of the most famous pitchers in the game in 1991; he was a two-time Cy Young winner and a World Series MVP. Not many opponents would be able to make him the less-recognizable starter in a game.

One of those few, however, was Nolan Ryan.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Game of the Day (6/5/91)

Phillies 12, Braves 11 (12). Atlanta started John Smoltz, who is best known as a member of the Hall of Fame trio of Braves starters from the 1990s. Philadelphia countered with Jason Grimsley, who is most famous for being investigated for steroid use.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Game of the Day (6/4/91)

Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2 (11). LA started Orel Hershiser, who was making only his second start of the season; it was the beginning of a comeback from an injury that cost him nearly all of 1990. St. Louis responded with Jose DeLeon, who was also staging a comeback of sorts; he had lost 19 games the previous season (for the second time in his career, no less; he was an appalling 2-19 in 1985), but '91 restored some level of respectability to his production, likely by limiting his innings (less than 6 per start in his 28 appearances, with a 2.71 ERA being the result).

Friday, June 3, 2016

Game of the Day (6/3/91)

Blue Jays 5, Yankees 3. Toronto started Jimmy Key, a fine pitcher making his second GotD start in a very short amount of time. New York countered with Tim Leary, who was not as good as Key, but was at least experienced in starting interesting games; it's his fourth Game of the Day so far in 1991.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Game of the Day (6/2/91)

Cubs 4, Expos 3. Much like the previous day's best outing, this one matched up a pair of young pitchers who were having some trouble settling in as regular starters.

Very much unlike the last Game of the Day, neither of the starters in this one (Shawn Boskie for Chicago, Brian Barnes for Montreal) would last over 1000 innings in the majors.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Game of the Day (6/1/91)

Mariners 12, Rangers 8. As you might expect based on the score, neither of the starting pitchers in this game had a particularly effective 1991; the younger of the two regressed from his two preceding solid seasons to post a losing record and a 4.40 ERA, while the elder maintained an ERA slightly better than league average despite being the wildest pitcher in the league. The first starter would lead the AL in hit batters in 1991, the second would lead in walks (for the second of three consecutive years).

Things improved somewhat for the pair after the end of 1991, however, and by the time their careers concluded, Kevin Brown and Randy Johnson would combine to win 514 games and six ERA titles.