The Hippo


Jul 16, 2019








Dave Long

Sports Glossary

Lou Gehrig: Best fun fact from the Iron Horse’s archive is that the heavy-legged slugger had 10 different seasons with double digits in triples, including going for 20 and 18 back-to-back in 1926 and 1927. 
Warren Spahn: Elastic lefty with the exaggerated high leg kick who lasted in the majors until 44. A product of a different era who won 20 games an astonishing 13 times between 1946 and 1963, won 20 six straight years between 1956 and 1962. Overall it was 363 wins in 21-year career against 245 losses 
when the ERA was 3.09. And those aren’t even the career highlights, as the biggie was participating in and surviving World War II’s famous Battle of the Bulge. 
Juan Marichal: Classy righty for the 1960s SF Giants with an even more exaggerated leg kick in the delivery. Despite winning 20 six times, a season high of 26 and 243 overall, he never won a Cy Young, because he pitched with Koufax, Gibson, Seaver and others in baseball’s greatest generation of pitchers. The local note is he spent 1974 with the Sox, and went 5-1. 
Don Sutton: Unlike his contemporary Marichal, the very good but never great Sutton managed to pile up 326 career wins despite winning 20 just once. That, my friends, is called amazing consistency and durability especially when you consider that he didn’t get above .500 for good until his seventh year in the majors.

Baseball hits season midpoint

By Dave Long

 With all the teams hitting their 81st game of the season over the weekend, it’s time for the annual baseball mid-season review.

If he continues on his current pace, David Ortiz will finish the season with around 465 homers, meaning he’ll need a big year in 2015 to reach 500, or else he’ll have to play in 2016 to reach the magic mark.
Giancarlo Stanton Update: Many are harboring desires the Sox can somehow trade for him. But in the unlikely event it ever happens it’ll cost a lot more than Kevin Love would cost the Celtics. The 6’6” 240 right fielder was hitting .303 with 20 homers and 58 RBI at mid-year and is figuratively a monster.
Speaking of “monsters” in another way: How can Bartolo Colon at 288 pounds and 41 years old still be bringing it like he is doing? At the half he had 8 wins with a 3.68 ERA for the under-.500 New York Mets. 
And this one should hurt: Josh Beckett’s ERA was 2.28 in L.A.
Robinson Cano certainly didn’t fold, a la Carl Crawford, under the weight of his huge new deal. He was hitting .325 and rising. Though with just four homers, that big Seattle park is taking its toll on his power stats.
Where does Victor Martinez fall into Theo Epstein’s list of whopping mistakes? He’s still hitting four years after Theo let him walk — .330 with 20 homers and 50 RBI at the midway point. And just think, renting him for 18 months only cost them Justin Masterson.
Speaking of Theo, he’s not the only one whose reputation has taken a hit from that vaunted club of statistics-loving whiz-kid executives he had in the basement at Fenway Park. Former second in command Josh Byrnes just got fired by San Diego, for the second time already as a failed GM, and his predecessor, Josh Hoyer of Plymouth, N.H., just beat it out the door before Byrnes arrived to join Theo with the moribund Cubs. 
So how would the Sox look now, if instead of falling in love with Adrian Gonzalez’s statistics and “approach” at the plate before spending $175 million and three prospects to get him, Theo had put Victor at first, and instead of moving Kevin Youkilis to third, they’d traded him and just re-signed Adrian Beltre? And he would have saved $50 million to boot, proving it’s now how much you have, it’s how you spend it.  
I like Theo and want him to do well, but he was a disaster after the Orlando Cabrera trade, which was hidden to a degree by the Sox’ massive payroll that helped cover up his many mistakes.
The career win total is a little light, but seeing 38-year-old Tim Hudson with an ERA 2.62, I’ll ask this question: Is he a future Hall of Famer? Like Don Sutton, I never considered him great, but he’s been very good for a very long time.
But if he gets in, shouldn’t Mike Messina?
Ryan Braun has 10 homers in 247 at-bats and is hitting .273 at the midpoint. In the last two full seasons before getting caught on the juice he hit an MVP-like 33 and 41 homers and .331 and .319.  That sure makes it seem like that stuff does make a difference, doesn’t it?
Of course it hasn’t seemed to bother Nelson Cruz. But even with him among the AL homer leaders, doesn’t the chatter saying Ben Cherington blew it by not going after him seem like classic second-guessing? Yes the hitting has been anemic, but (a) he was a steroids guy and no one was quite sure what the numbers would be when clean and (b) after left field platoon worked so well and Shane Victorino was in the clutch in the postseason, who suspected the corner outfield positions would have the problems they have?
The Sox ain’t the only ones nosediving offensively. After hitting 53 homers last year, Baltimore’s Chris Davis was hitting .218 with just 12 homers before beating the White Sox with a pinch-hit ninth-inning three-run homer last week.
If you ain’t been paying attention: Jacoby Ellsbury was hitting just .277 with four homers, 31 RBI and 21 stolen bases.
Wednesday, July 2, was the 51st anniversary of when Juan Marichal and Warren Spahn incredibly dueled shutout inning for shutout inning until Willie Mays ended it with a walk-off homer to give the Giants a 1-0 win in 16 innings. And it’s not like the extra work hurt either, as Marichal and Spahn went on to win 25 and 23 games respectively. And, oh yeah, I haven’t even told you the most amazing part — Spahn was 42 when he went his 15.1!
Today it probably would have ended in regulation instead, as the (micro) managers would have started a parade of less worthy relievers after the seventh who would have coughed up the shutout (s). So my question now, as it always is, is if those guys could go 16 strong 51 years ago (with people giving the effort little fanfare beyond “nice job by the way”), why can’t pitchers from the bigger, stronger, faster of two generations later do it now, instead of getting an IV drip after going seven innings? 
Speaking of anniversaries, Friday, July 4, is the 75th anniversary of one of baseball’s greatest moments, Lou Gehrig’s remarkable “Luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech, which came just after he learned he had the fatal illness that now carries his name. It was July 4, 1939, and his grace under fire still gives me a lump in my throat every time I hear it. If you never have, YouTube it.
As I write this the Red Sox are six back in the race for the second wild card spot. So even as bad as it’s been, it’s not over yet.
Have a great Fourth.
Email Dave Long at
As seen in the July 3, 2014 issue of the Hippo. 

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