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...