Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Major League Baseball Roundup

Well folks, I'm back at the keyboard of my new beast, ready to blog at you once again. Things have been a bit frantic down on the Farm lately as some home improvement projects have been coming together nicely.

But enough about that. It's time for some post-season baseball, which is even more fun for me since the Red Sox finished first in the American League East for the first time since 1995. The Sox begin their quest for the 2007 World Series championship tomorrow night when the Anaheim Angels come to Fenway. The other AL Division Series features the Cleveland Indians versus the New York Yankees.

The National League had some exciting finishes down the stretch with the Philadelphia Phillies not only sneaking the NL East title from the New York Mets, but denying them a post-season berth in the process. And the Colorado Rockies, who won 14 of their last 15 games, including an exciting 9-8, 13-inning thriller in the playoff game against the San Diego Padres to win the Wild Card, will play the Phils.

By the way, why was there a playoff game to determine this? The reason I ask is that because in 2005, the Red Sox and Yankees both finished at 95-67, in a tie for first place. However, the baseball gods decided that because the Yankees had the superior head-to-head record (10-9), that they would be awarded first place, and the Red Sox second place (and the Wild Card). The Rockies had an 11-8 record against the Padres, so, by 2005 logic, they should have automatically been awarded their spot without having had to play the Padres one more time. Right? I'm just sayin'...

And Lou Piniella's Chicago Cubs take on the Arizona Diamondbacks, who somehow had the best record in the NL at 90-72, despite having been outscored by their opponents by 20 runs for the season. By way of comparison, the Red Sox outscored their opponents by 210 runs (which led all major league clubs). The Indians were +107 while the Angels and Yankees were both at +91. The other NL playoff teams: Phillies +71, Cubs +72 and Rockies were at +102, which led the National League!

2007 was a season of milestones and records either having been broken or tied. Barry Bonds passed Henry Aaron as the all-time home run leader, and has 762 (and he hit his 600th career double and got his 2,500th career walk to boot). Sammy Sosa hit his 600th career homer. Frank Thomas, Alex Rodriguez and Jim Thome (who also struck out for the 2,000th time in his career) each hit their 500th career homers. Todd Helton hit his 300th career homer. Craig Biggio got his 3,000th career hit, but will retire two shy of Hughie Jennings' career record for most times having been hit by a pitch (287-285). Ken Griffey Junior, Gary Sheffield and Luis Gonzalez each collected their 2,500th career hits. Larry Jones, Johnny Damon and Shawn Green each collected their 2,000th career hits. Ivan Rodriguez got his 500th career double. Ray Durham hit his 400th career double. Ten players notched their 300th career double.

On the pitching side of things, William Clemens got his 350th career win (and his 700th career start), and Tom Glavine notched his 300th victory and 2,500th career strikeout. Mike Mussina got his 250th win (and his 500th career start). John Smoltz and Andy Pettite each win their 200th career games. Jose Mesa, Mike Timlin and Roberto Hernandez all appeared in their 1,000th career games. Trevor Hoffman got his 500th career save, and Todd Jones got his 300th. Pedro Martinez got his 3,000th career strikeout while Jamie Moyer got his 2,000th. Greg Maddux, like Clemens, got his 700th career start.

Some other interesting things happened. Frank Schulte of the 1911 Cubs became the first player ever to have 20 homers, doubles, triples and stolen bases in the same season. Willie Mays was the second player to accomplish this feat, having done so in 1957. This season, they were joined by Curtis Granderson of the Tigers and Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies.

Ryan Howard of the Phillies struck out 199 times to break Adam Dunn's 2004 record of 195. And Matt Holliday of the Rockies won the NL batting title with a .340 average while striking out 126 times. That is the most strikeouts for anyone who ever won a batting title. The previous record holder was Derrek Lee of the Cubs who whiffed 109 times while hitting .335 in 2005. I love odd combinations like this, and here is another one: The Tampa Bay Devil Rays became the first team ever to have its pitchers lead the league in strikeouts while at the same time having the worst ERA (How do1194 strikeouts and a 5.53 ERA grab you? No wonder they went 66-96...).

Kevin Youkilis of the Red Sox did not make a single error at first base this season (in 1080 chances over 135 games, though he did make three errors at third base in 13 games). Even more remarkable than that, Placido Polanco of the Tigers handled 683 chances over 141 games at second base without making a single error (and he had 200 hits!).

Well, I could probably go on like this for some time, but I will stop now, since I am in the midst of evaluating my newest music purchases: Venus Doom by H.I.M., Dark Passion Play by Nightwish and After Forever's self-titled release, and reviews will be coming soon. Nightwish and H.I.M will be at the Palladium in Worcester on October 20th and 21st. I hope to see some of you there!

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