Friday, May 15, 2015

Teen Kids News -- Baseball Facts with Matt 5/15/15

Hey baseball fans!

As some of you may know, I've been doing a baseball segment for Teen Kids News, a Fox 5 tv show that airs on Saturday mornings at 9:30am in NJ, and at other times around the country.

My segment is called Baseball Facts with Matt.  So far, I've done twelve segments, each lasting around 30 - 45 seconds long.  The segments cover some of the more interesting facts in baseball history, including the Curse of the Bambino, the seventh inning stretch, the All Star Game, Yogi Berra, Ty Cobb and much more. If you want to watch any of these segments, just click here for the entire selection.

I hope you enjoyed this. If you did, guess what? I'm going to be recording more segments soon!! Thanks for watching and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Perfect Mother's Day 5/10/15

Hey baseball fans!

Happy Mother's Day! In honor of this special day, I'm going to talk about a very special perfect game that was pitched on, you guessed it, Mother's Day!

Dallas Braden's mom, Jodie Atwood, never watched her son play in the MLB, but after she passed away from cancer during Braden's senior year of high school, Braden lived with his maternal grandmother. His grandma was basically his mom, and a loving one at that, which is why Dallas's pitching performance on May 9, 2010, a start where his grandmother was in attendance, was so special. Mother's Day 2010 happened to fall on May 9, a day when Braden was scheduled to start for the Oakland Athletics at home against the Tampa Bay Rays. The opposing pitcher was All Star pitcher, James Shields, and the Rays lineup featured All Stars like Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria. Those Rays would go on to win the AL East division in 2010, but lose in the playoffs to the Texas Rangers. The A's would finish the 2010 season at an even 81-81.

Dallas pitched excellently the entire game. He struck out six Rays and after 109 pitches, threw a complete game shutout. Oh, did I forget to mention that he also didn't allow anyone to reach base? Yeah, that's right; Dallas Braden threw a perfect game on Mother's Day with his grandmother in attendance! The perfecto was the 19th in baseball history and the second one in history thrown by an Athletic (the first A's perfect game belongs to Catfish Hunter). The A's won the game by a final score of 4-0 on the back of Braden's pitching and four RBI singles.

Braden would only pitch one more year in the MLB and retired in 2011 with a career record of 26-36. Sure, he didn't have the best career, but Mother's Day 2010 couldn't have been better for him. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz." And if you'd  like to read about the other perfect games in MLB history, check out the Pitch Perfect chapter in my book, Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The 1973 MLB Draft Class 5/7/15

Hey baseball fans!

The NFL Draft was about a week ago, so in honor of that I'm going to talk about one of the best MLB draft classes of all time: the 1973 MLB draft class. The 1973 MLB Draft was only highlighted by a few players, but those players ended up being very great, some of them even Hall of Famers.

Robin Yount
The first notable ballplayer drafted in '73 was a shortstop named Robin Yount, who was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers with the third overall pick in the draft. No one knew it at the time, but Yount would become one of the best hitters of his generation, batting .285 lifetime and amassing over 3,000 hits. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999.

Dave Winfield
Just one pick after the Kid, fourth overall, the San Diego Padres took outfielder Dave Winfield, who was playing for the University of Minnesota. Dave was actually a three-sport star, having also been drafted in the NBA and NFL by the Atlanta Hawks and Minnesota Vikings, respectively. However, Winny elected to play baseball and boy did he make the right decision. After not spending a day in the minors, Dave had an amazing MLB career for the Pads, Yankees, Blue Jays, Angels, Indians, and Twins. Like Yount, the 12-time All Star amassed over 3,000 hits and batted .283 for his Hall of Fame career.

Lee Mazzilli and Steve Swisher
Although not Hall of Famers, both are prominent figures in the MLB. Mazzilli was a fan favorite with the New York Mets and was an important contributor to their 1986 World Series win. Steve Swisher, after being drafted 21st overall by the White Sox, made the All Star Game in 1976 with the Chicago Cubs and is the father of current MLB star and All Star, Nick Swisher.

Fred Lynn
Fred Lynn was drafted in the second round of the 1973 MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox and became the first rookie to win the MVP Award in 1975. Lynn made nine straight All Star Games to start his career and on the 50th anniversary of the All Star Game, 1983, Lynn hit the first and only All Star Game grand slam.

Eddie Murray
The last MLB star taken in the '73 Draft was Eddie Murray, who was drafted by the Orioles in the third round. Steady Eddie, even though he is super underrated, was probably the best player taken in this draft. With mainly the Orioles in a 21-year career, the eight-time All Star batted .287, collected 3,255 hits and 504 home runs, and drove in 1,917 runs. Those are monster stats for someone who was drafted in the third round of any draft of any sport. Obviously, Murray was inducted into Cooperstown in 2003.

Is this the best draft class ever? Are there ones that are better? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Jackie Robinson of the American League 5/2/15

Hey baseball fans!

Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier, but he broke the barrier as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers, a National League team. So who was the first African American on an AL team? Well, this Hall of Famer played for the Newark Eagles of the Negro Leagues, missed time due to World War II, and then made his Major League debut with the Cleveland Indians on July 5, 1947: Larry Doby!

Larry Doby got his baseball career started in 1942 with the Newark Eagles of the Negro Leagues. His career stats aren't known for certain, but he definitely batted over .300, even though he missed two years of ball due to military service. Doby was a feared hitter across the Negro Leagues and helped his Eagles win the 1946 Negro World Series. Because of Doby's success, the MLB's Cleveland Indians took notice of him and Indians owner, Bill Veeck, had wanted to integrate baseball for quite some time. After Dodgers co-owner Branch Rickey bough Jackie Robinson's contract at the beginning of the 1947 season, Veeck saw the opportunity to do the same with Doby and on the fifth of July of that same year, Larry Doby made his debut for the Cleveland Indians.

Lawrence Eugene Doby played in the MLB from 1947-1959 with the Indians, White Sox, and Tigers. In his 13-year Major League career, the first American League African American put up solid numbers: 1,515 hits, a .283 batting average, 970 RBIs, and 253 home runs. The seven-time All Star (all of his ASG appearances were consecutive, from 1949-1955) also had great stats in the postseason. His performance in the 1948 Fall Classic against the Braves was very respectable; his seven hits, homer, and two runs batted in helped the Indians win their second World Series and first since 1920. Doby had some great seasons that were MVP-worthy, but his best season came in 1954, when he led the league in home runs (32) and RBIs (126)! Not even Jackie Robinson did that!

Doby was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998 via the Veteran's Committee and rightfully so. He made the African American community proud by being one of the best players of his generation. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Big Unit 4/29/15

Hey baseball fans!

The Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2015 features three amazing pitchers: John Smoltz, the fan favorite in Atlanta who shined in the postseason, Pedro Martinez, the all-around star fireballer, and one of the best pitchers of the last 25 years, Randy Johnson.

Randy "The Big Unit" Johnson (his nickname is the Big Unit because of his height: six-foot ten!!!) pitched for mainly the Seattle Mariners and the Arizona Diamondbacks from 1988-2009. In his 22-year career and with the use of his fastball that could get to speeds of 100 miles per hour, the ten-time All Star won 303 games and only lost 166. His amount of career wins ranks 22nd on the all-time wins list, while his winning percentage ranks 28th. But the Big Unit wasn't only about racking up wins; he did other stuff as well. His career earned run average is at a very respectable 3.29, but his strikeout total is absolutely insane: 4,875, second on the all-time strikeouts list only to Nolan Ryan. He even led the league in K's nine times!

Randy pitched well for teams like the Mariners, Expos, and Astros, but his best stuff came when he was pitching home games in the Arizona desert. In the midst of his stay in Phoenix, specifically from 1999-2002, he won four consecutive Cy Young awards, tied for the most consecutive Cy Youngs won ever with Greg Maddux. Earlier in his career, Johnson won another Cy Young award, putting him in second place only behind Roger Clemens for the most Cy Young awards won in baseball history.

Besides being considered the best pitcher in the NL for four straight years, Johnson did a couple of other great things with the D-Backs. He pitched the 17th perfect game in MLB history on May 18, 2004, becoming the oldest pitcher to every throw a perfecto and the fifth pitcher to throw a no-hitter in both the American and National Leagues. Second, Randy was a great postseason pitcher and probably the best playoff stats he ever put up was in the 2001 World Series. He won three games, including the famous Game Seven, and had an ERA of 1.04! How insane is that? To top it all off, he won co-World Series MVP with fellow All Star,  Curt Schilling.

Randy Johnson received 97.3% of the Hall of Fame voter's votes in his first year of eligibility and will be eternally enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame this July. If he wasn't voted in first ballot, it would have been a travesty. Anyway, thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Click here to see a really funny Big Unit All Star Game moment and click here to see him do the virtually impossible to an unsuspecting bird. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Overlooked Game Seven of the 1986 World Series 4/21/15

Hey baseball fans!

So believe it or not, the 1986 World Series didn't end on Bill Buckner's blunder on the Mookie Wilson grounder to first. That walk-off error just tied the '86 Series between the Mets and Red Sox at three games apiece and considering the World Series is a best-of-seven series, one more game was played. Yes, it was a bit anticlimactic compared to the thrilling ending to Game Six, but let me tell you a little bit about Game Seven of the 1986 Fall Classic.

Game Seven featured a great starting pitching matchup: All Star Bruce Hurst for the Sox against All Star Ron Darling for the Mets. Hurst was actually already 2-0 in the Series coming into that seventh game, while Ron was 1-1 and the one game that he lost during the 1986 World Series was against Hurst. Anyway, the game took place on October 27, 1986 in Shea Stadium in New York. A crowd of 55,032 fans watched to see if the Red Sox could finally put the Curse of the Bambino to rest.

The Red Sox opened up the scoring on Darling in the top of the second inning. Dwight Evans and Rich Gedman hit back-to-back homers and later in the inning, Hall of Famer Wade Boggs hit an RBI single, scoring Dave Henderson. Ron Darling went another inning and two-thirds, but then was relieved by Sid Fernandez (pictured below), an All Star in '86 who was a part of a very good Mets starting pitching staff. There was no scoring on either side until the bottom of the sixth, when the Mets finally got on the scoreboard. Keith Hernandez had a 2-RBI single, scoring Lee Mazzilli and Mookie Wilson. Later on in the inning, Hernandez scored on an RBI groundout by Hall of Fame catcher, Gary Carter. So, after six innings, the game was tied at three runs apiece.

New York quickly grabbed the lead in the bottom of the seventh, this time facing Boston pitcher, Calvin Schiraldi. Ray Knight cracked a solo homer to give the Mets the lead, 4-3. Then, Rafael Santana  smacked a Lenny Dykstra-scoring single to right field, which was followed up by a Keith Hernandez sacrifice fly. But the game was not over. In the top of the eighth, Dwight Evans collected his second and third runs batted in on the game on a two-run double off Mets reliever Roger McDowell.

The Mets had a slim lead, 6-5, but they knew they needed insurance runs and insurance runs they got. Long-time Met, Darryl Strawberry, cracked a dramatic solo home run to right, giving the Amazins a two-run the cushion. But the runs didn't stop there for New York. Three batters after Strawberry, Mets closer, Jesse Orosco, singled to center field, scoring Ray Knight! The Mets now had a pretty comfortable lead on Boston and let Orosco finish off the Series, which he did in the top of the ninth. The Mets won the game 8-5 and the Series in seven games. It was their second Fall Classic championship and the Red Sox's fourth World Series loss since 1918.

This game is very overlooked due to the dramatics of Game Six, but it was just as important. It was a must-win game for both clubs, but the Mets came out on top in the end. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Brothers of Baseball Hall of Famers 4/18/15

Hey baseball fans!

Some would say that the ability to make it onto a professional sports team comes from training hard, while others will say it's hereditary. In the case of the ballplayers you'll be reading about in today's post, it's definitely the latter. So, I'm sure that you've heard of Hank Aaron, Christy Mathewson, and Honus Wagner, right? Well, did you know that their brothers also played baseball? Yes, Tommie Aaron, Henry Mathewson, and Albert "Butts"  Wagner all had at least a little MLB experience, but they were nothing compared to their bros.

Tommie Aaron had the most major league experience out of everyone I'm going to talk about in today's post. In his seven years in the MLB, he batted .229 with 13 home runs and 94 RBIs. Just like the Alou Brothers, Tommie and Hank were actually teammates, as they played together in the Braves organization in all of Tommie's seven years of big league ball. Although Hammerin' Hank has better stats basically all across the board compared to his little brother, there's one major statistic where Tappin' Tommie (the alliteration doesn't really work) has the Hall of Famer beat: fielding percentage. Hank's lifetime fielding percentage is .982, while Tommie's is .985.

Henry Mathewson only pitched two seasons in baseball, both years for the New York Giants, but at least he was on the same team as his brother, Hall of Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson. During those two years, 1906 and 1907, Henry started just a single game, but lost it. He appeared in two more contests during his career, but then that was it. Henry, who is six years younger than Christy, finished his very short career with an ERA of 4.91.

Albert "Butts" Wagner may have only played one year in baseball, 1898, but unlike Tommie Aaron and Henry Mathewson, Wagner's younger brother, Honus, was the Hall of Famer in the family. In Butts's 74 games in professional baseball, he batted .226 with a homer and 34 RBIs. To put that into perspective, Honus Wagner's 1898 season was subpar, at least for his standards. The Flying Dutchman batted only .299 with only 176 hits. Momma Wagner must have been a very proud mom. While I couldn't find the origin for Albert's unique nickname, here's an interesting poem that I found entitled, At Least You're Not Butts Wagner, which was written by Theodore Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss).

Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

P.S. My next book signing is on April 26th at noon at the Barnes & Noble in Springfield, NJ. Hope some of you can make it.