By Joel Alderman
Apparently, there is not enough to write about in the major league pennant races these days. A new type of journalism has been taking over from so-called hard news. Thanks to the computer age, just about every game can have a moment that has either never happened before, or has not taken place since the dark ages.
The Elias Sports Bureau and ESPN Stats and Information are the leading proponents of making something out of nothing, or, at best, out of very little. Maybe some of the fans care, however. So here are just a few of those things we just could not do without, that I like to refer to as bogus records, that caught my attention.
On June 27th Jacoby Ellsbury of the Yankees was the “victim” of catcher’s interference. It was the 29th time he benefited from that kind of free transportation to first base. In so doing he tied the all-time record set by Pete Rose. One more and Jacoby will have it all to himself.
Then we can join in and say, “Congratulations, Jacoby!”
The Golden Age
On June 25th Ichiro Suzuki, winding down a great international career with the Florida Marlins, was the starting center fielder. What did that mean? Simply that he became the oldest to begin a game at that position since 1899. Before Ichiro it was Ricky Henderson, then with the Red Sox, in 2002. Ricky was a “young” man of 43 years and 211 days. Ichiro beat that when he was 35 days older, to set the record (if there is such a record) for starting center fielders.
It may have happened before 1899, but apparently that’s was as far back as Elias’ computers go. Either way, congratulations, Ichiro!
Question: Does this all mean that there are records kept for every starting position?
Here’s another happening that goes back, but only 50 years. Not far enough as far as Adam Ottavino of the Colorado Rockies is concerned. His four wild pitches against the Dodgers that led to four runs made him the first hurler to do that in half a century. He also contributed to a bad mark for his team. The Rockies became the first team in the “liveball” era (that is, since 1920) to allow five runs in a game on wild pitches. Consolation for the Rockies: Maybe it happened to some other team before the live ball era.
Grand slams with KC trailing in the 8th
On June 21st Salvador Perez hit a grand slam for Kansas City in the eighth inning, when the Royals were trailing the Red Sox 4-2. The Royals went on to win 6-4. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Perez was the first Kansas City player to hit a grand slam in the eighth inning or later with the Royals trailing since Frank White in 1986.
Let’s see. The Royals have to be trailing. It has to be at least in the eighth inning. And the batter needs to hit a grand slam. Imagine, all those things coming together for the first time in 21 years. Amazing! Bad enough for the Red Sox that they lost. They must also accept being victimized by such a fluky bunch of circumstances that only a computer could come up with.
Biggest ninth inning
Better news for Boston had come on May 7th. Scoring 10 runs in the ninth inning against the Twins it became the highest run total ever by a Red Sox team in a ninth inning. But did it really matter? A win is a win regardless.
Here’s another gem from the same game- information we absolutely needed. Opposing pitchers Ervin Santana and Chris Sale were just the third pair of starters who each had ERAs under 1.4. Oh yes, that distinction is limited to a minimum of six starts. Before getting too excited about it, we are told that it goes back only to 1982.
Strikeouts to walks in consecutive games
On April 26th Luis Severino became the third Yankee to post double-digit strikeouts without more than one walk in consecutive games. Who would have known? Enough to make Whitey Ford jealous.
Aaron Judge, who is astounding the baseball community with his prolific home runs, in distance and quantity, celebrated his 25th birthday when he became just the third Yankee to homer on his birthday at Fenway Park. The others were Roger Maris in 1966 and Yogi Berra in 1947. I guess there is a section in the record books for what players do on their birthdays. Not everyone is eligible however. One has to be born from March to October. The rest are out of luck.
The name game
On April 14th three guys named Garcia – Willy, Lleury and Avisail – were in left, center and right field for the Chicago White Sox when the game began. It was the first time there was a starting outfield with all three players bearing the same last name. It probably would not have meant a thing if the White Sox hadn’t won 2-1. In fact, it probably didn’t mean a thing anyway, except to Willy, Lieury and Avisail.
More such things coming up?
And so it goes. Quirky pieces of information to fill up the baseball news. The game is full of them. Some odd thing always seems to happen. The computers can come up with them. Maybe there isn’t enough legitimate baseball news to write about, when all the writers had at their disposal were typewriters.