Reds Make Changes in the Off-Season PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sam Kossoff   
Wednesday, 08 September 2010 16:04
Cincinnati, OH -- Owner Sam Kossoff grimaced as he approached the podium where the national radio services positioning microphones and flash bulbs errupted.

"I am here to confirm the rumors that began yesterday afternoon. The Cincinnati Reds organization has been in negotiations for a period of time with the Cleveland Indians about several players. However, yesterday evening, after a telephone call with Vance Violante of the New York Yankees, several revised deals have emerged.

The Cincinnati Reds have dealt George Myatt and AAA pitcher Bob Carpenter to the Yankees for their first round pick in the upcoming draft. This move was made under the difficult condition that neither the Reds organziation nor Mr. Myatt wanted the event to occur. The reality of finances have come into play. Goerge believed he was deserving of star quality pay come the end of his rookie contract. At no time did George suggest that he would hold-out or refuse to play. But he made it clear that the proposed arbitration numbers were lower than his expectation for a long term deal.

We recognized that George represented the ideal lead-off man for our organization. He is exactly the kind of player we wanted in that roll and he was good at it. George was on base more than 40% of the time. He stole bases and he played well. Certianly Mr. Myatt recognized he need to improve his often iron hands, but he was young and getting there.

We just had no room to fit George into our long term plans with the contracts that are coming of age in the next few years. George understood it was a matter of dollars and nothing more than that. We certainly wish him well, until the point he plays the Reds in the World Series. I think the Yankees will be thrilled with George's speed on the basepath and lok for him to give AL pitchers some fits."

As for the Cleveland deal. The Reds and Indians have been talking all season long. Much fo the concern in Cleveland surrounded the aging level of some of its players. There was some internal arguements, valid arguements, that both Mr. West and Mr. Madjeski were going to return on one year deals if possible. However, the Indians also recognized that that solution did not provide for a Division win this season either. Thus the Reds cost cutting measure become the Indians forturne. The Reds send Veteran catcher Cliff Bolton, who has played his enitre career in Cincinnati. Cliff was quite dismayed this season when he learned that AAA Joe Grace was going to assume his role in 1941 and that he was likely out of a job come next season. Bolton figured he was headed to free agency and was fustrated by the prospect of moving far from home for the season. While Cleveland was not ideal, it was a short off day train ride home or reasonable to meet the family in Columbus. So bolton agreed to sign a deal and be traded north in to the AL. Joining Cliff will be fellow teammate Ted Petrosky. Petrosky has been a solid slap hitter in center for several years. However the emergence of the huge rookie class of two years ago, forced Ted into a backup role that was often fustrating for him and McCosky who was ahead of him. Ted wanted a regular starting job back, and Clevealnd gives him that shot. It was also a bit obvious that Ted was one of those bubble players come the off-season of 1941 going into 1942. It was likely that Petrosky was going to be on the FA market regardless. So Ted and Cliff join a couple of fella's from AAA and switch to the AL . We think that this is the beginning of the house cleaning that the Red's are going to be forced to deal with.

In the short term we expect that Tommy Hendrich will be released as he becomes too expensive a luxury for the Reds. We also think that at least one pitcher and perhaps even Johnny Mize might see themselves caught in the salary purge frenzy.

As for the Red's they hope that addtion by subtraction will work for them. With three first round picks the Red's should be able to retool.
 
Cleveland Wins! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sam Kossoff   
Tuesday, 06 July 2010 11:38

Cleveland, OH -- The crisp fall air whipped through Cleveland Stadium Wednesday night. The smell of popcorn and warm crackerjacks filled the air. Indians fans from all over Northeast Ohio piled into their seats and the excitement nearly powered the overhead lights on its own. The Indians players moved around the dugout in their bright white uniforms with the large C on the left pocket. The Phillies, knowing their backs were to the wall practiced their swings in the traveling greys with Phillies across the chest and their dark blue caps upon their heads.

Cleveland, who had been so close for so many years, was on the cusp of a potential World Series Championship. The long bus rides, train rides, hot summer days were all winding down as the beginnings of winter we around the corner.

Game Five had Cleveland sophomore Ken Heintzelman, the Indians sole lefty starter, facing righty “Big Joe” Mulligan who had been recently forced up into a starter role due to September injury of Joe Krakauskas. The Phillies had hung their playoff run hopes on the skills of Phil Weintraub, LF Milt Blocek, CF Frenchy Uhalt and Charlie English. The hitting had carried the Phillies a long way this season, coupled with terrific pitching of Si Johnson and Joe Krakauskas. The Phillies hitting managed to guide them through a tough won NL Pennant. As the Phillies prepared for the World Series they knew that hitting would have to lead them to victory.

In game one, the Phillies hitters came through and Cleveland fans felt the noose tighten once again. Owner Mark Kossoff, although ailing, refused to sit and watch the wheels come off again. He called a team meeting before the second game and brought in food for the entire team. The two hour closed door session was called by players and management alike. . .inspiring.

Game two, three and four recharged the Indians who had 14 hits in game two and 16 in the game three dismantling of Philadelphia. Cleveland's Mace Brown had played inspired baseball in 12 innings of pitching he had a 0.73 ERA. Gene Colbertt, who had spent consider time on the DL this season, refused to give on even one pitch during the series to date and was batting .476.

As the umpires took the field for Game 5, Cleveland was confident that the winds of victory were blowing their way. Ken Heintzelman walked confidently to the mound and the fans groaned as the first batter walked, and the second one doubled. With no-one out, the Phillies had men on 2nd and 3rd. And then another walk. . .bases loaded. And another walk. . .walking in a runner. . .the wheels were coming off. The pitching coached headed to the mound to settle things down as nearly 40,000 fans sat in silence and dread. But the Indians settled down and got out of the inning giving up just 1 run on a fly out and double play.

The teams traded hits and runs through the third with things tied up at 3 each. In the fifth a big hit by Cleveland's Salazar scored 3 runs and you could see the Phillies dugout lose their inspiration. Their heads hung as if they had accepted their defeat. The Indians added runs in the 7th and 8th and by the 9th inning the Phillies had conceded the World Series.

From the 8th inning on, the noise was deafening in Cleveland Stadium. Fans were dancing and singing in the aisles. Women and men opening cried as they had waited their entire lives to see a World Series Championship in Cleveland. At the top of the ninth, the entire crowd was on their feet, owner Mark Kossoff gripping the owner's field-level box railing over the Indians dugout and the crowd cheered. Jack Russell, the aging veteran who moved to the bullpen this season, took to the mound for the final inning of the 1939 season. He tipped his cap to the owners box, and then to the fans. . .eliciting whistles and cheers. The Phillies had the top of the order ready to go, but the Phillies had been beat and Frenchy, Bocek and Weintraub, the heart of the Philadelphia bats. . .went down straight.

Pandemonium reigned in the streets of Cleveland, Youngstown, and Akron. From Elyria to Cleveland Heights and everywhere in between. . .fever for the World Series Champion Cleveland Indians was sung out. What must be recognized is the production of players like Gene Colbertt who batted .611 for the series and was named co-MVP with Mace Brown. Rick Ferrell did his part from behind the plate and batting .455 at it. Indians management looked brilliant as they brought back aging veteran Tony Lazzeri for one more year. “Poosh ‘em Up” Lazzeri batted .300 but lead the club as the clubhouse inspiration all season. But if nothing else, the Indians had balance, and the pitching of Brown, Dickinson and Heintzelman can not go un-noticed. In the corner however, was Mace Brown gathering reporters around the quiet Prince Oana. Perhaps Brown said it best, “We all did our part, each of us in our own way, and Prince got us here. I know how badly he wanted to play in this series, but this is his victory as well. . .his wins got us here. We won the division by only two games, so every pitch during the regular season mattered. . .every one that Prince threw mattered. . .his 11 wins are the reason we are here.” As so say it now, and say it proud. .. the Cleveland Indians are the 1939 World Series Champions. On a separate but important note. I want to thank Steve Rackow for a fantastic series and we appreciate how well he managed his team. I also want to give a big Thanks to Mike G. for all his work in doing the sims this season and all his hard work. It was certainly a great season.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 May 2016 16:29
 
Pirates Move to the Head of the Class PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Rackow   
Saturday, 03 April 2010 10:02

                The sigh of relief emanating from Pittsburgh’s hard-luck fans, anxious for months that their collective hearts would once again be broken, could literally be felt as a rush of breeze beginning in Forbes Field and blasting outward to the edges of the city on Oct. 6, 1937, as the Pirates rallied in the late innings to win Game 6 of the World Series, 8-7, and oust perennial AL power Detroit.  The Tigers had bested the Red Sox in 6 games in the LCS, while the Pirates took care of the NY Giants in 5.

 

                Playoff heroics frequently feature some of the biggest individual stars in the game, and fans are often left marveling at the specifics of a trade-deadline deal that brought over this key player or that vital piece to the puzzle, but individuals weren’t the featured part of this group.  This Pirates squad relied on contributions from their entire roster.  Of the five Pirates who batted above .300 in the playoffs (Chet Morgan .412, George Stumpf .375, Willard Brown .348, Hal Trotsky .333, and Billy Werber .319), only Willard Brown managed that feat in the regular season (.306), and no pitcher won more than 2 games in the entire playoffs.

                You want some individual heroics?  Than I will give to you a guy with 2 ABs in the Series, Earle Brucker.  You know, the back-up catcher?  Only got 140 AB this season, and most of those came when starting catcher Frankie Hayes was injured.  What do you mean you never heard of him?  Earle didn’t mope or complain about his lack of playing time, he made the most of it.  In his only 2 plates appearances of the playoffs, not one, but both were walk-off homeruns in the World Series, including the Series-ending blast in Game 6!  Good luck living up to those expectations next time he strolls to the plate in the Series!

 

                The resiliency that the Pirates showed in even making the Series can go a long way to changing perception of the franchise.  A true small-market team, Pittsburgh has struggled throughout their existence to be competitive.  This was only like the sixth time in 37 seasons that the Pirates have posted a winning record, and this wasn’t just the first time they won the World Series, this was the first time they even made the playoffs.  But what an incredible team effort they put forth this season!

                First, they had to overcome their history of failure.  This was more than just an abstract “curse” that needed to be broken, continued failure has a tangible cost.  Less than 900,000 fans (!) came through the gates in 1935, and total 1936 revenue topped out at $51 million.  Contrast that with the recent $80 million-plus payrolls of divisional opponents Chicago and Cincinnati.  Repeated high draft picks only go so far if they move on to greener (and more successful) pastures the first chance they get.

                Second, they had to overcome their tough division.  First Cincinnati, for years the team to beat in the NL West, and now the Cubs, NL World Series representatives the last two seasons and the team with (far and away) the most wins in MLB over the last 3 seasons.  On Monday, Sep. 6, the Cubs were 5 games back entering the final 2 weeks of the season that would culminate with a showdown with the upstart Pirates.  They proceeded to tear through the competition, going 8-1 heading into that final series.  Surely good enough to close the gap enough to give them a chance head-to-head, right?  Sorry, but no.  The Pirates won 12 of 14 leading up to that weekend, carrying a 4-game lead into the 3-game series, clinching and snuffing out the Cubs last hope.  The team that has won at least 96 games each of the last 3 years couldn’t even get out of their own division.

                Third, how ‘bout some injuries.  Injuries tend to define seasons, and usually in the negative, but the Pirates can now look back with pride at how they willed themselves to succeed in spite of a raft of injuries to top players.  Stan Hack, their leader in most offensive categories and third in NL MVP voting, got knocked out for 3 months, including the entire playoffs.  Johnny Vander Meer, PIT’s first round pick, who finished fourth in NL Joe Wood voting and second in NL ROY voting, was 13-6 when he went down for 14 months.  Leon Day SP (18-8), Gene Bremmer SP (18-8), George Stumpf RF (.298), Frankie Hayes C (.269), and Chet Laabs CF (.265) all went down for at least a month.  Billy Werber SS (.286) was also out for 3 weeks.  In spite of this, they managed to keep it together, perhaps even using these obstacles to rally together as a team.

                So now that success has found the Pirates after so many years, what is to become of them?  The spike in attendance and revenue that the playoff run has had for the franchise can give them financial tools they have lacked in the past, but they will be short lived unless success on the field is continued.  One-hit wonder, or the dawning of a new dynasty?  It remains to be seen.

                Congratulations to the reigning BOY champs, the 1937 Pittsburgh Pirates!

Last Updated on Sunday, 04 April 2010 06:19
 
Never Say Die, Yankees Are Flyin’ High PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dave Schwaller   
Sunday, 23 May 2010 09:08

The Bronx erupted Tuesday night as the Yankees put the final nail in the coffin of the National League Champion Reds, 7-2.  Fans are going to start expecting late inning, comeback victories as this has been the norm during the 8-game streak the Yankees dropped to finish the 1938 post-season.  One could say they’ve made it look easy, but the players and coaches know better.  The road was long and hard, and didn’t start in game 4 of the ALCS.

 

Unlike the Cleveland Indians, the New York Yankees came into the season the favorite in their division.  Also unlike the Indians they struggled to start the season.  This can probably be chalked up to some significant early injuries, most notably losing starting pitcher Russ Bauers for a year to elbow surgery.  The injury trend didn’t slow down and team trainers watched player after player limp through their doors, 34 times in all.  Leading the team was Cleo Carlyle with 6, followed closely by Dusty Cooke with 4, and Bud Hafey and Vince DiMaggio racking up 3 trips a piece.  Including the starting rotation, five starters did not play in the World Series…and they only gave up 5 runs.  Ace Leroy Matlock won the first and the last games in the Series and was the rock that the entire team gained their strength from.  Coming off a disappointing season in ’37, the veteran lefty had a solid year that included a career high 5 shutouts.  He kept batters guessing which of his 6 pitches was coming their way, and walked only 36 in 310 innings.  If Matlock was the sensei, then AL Rookie of the Year Joe Gordon was the student.  He posted 26 dingers and drove in 107, was named to the All-Star team, and won a gold…well not so much but he’s working on it.  As for other individual standouts, you won’t come up with much.  York continued his powerful career with another 27, and Kirby Higbe went 15-6 but with an ERA north of 4 it was obviously a team effort every time he pitched.  It was truly a team effort this year, and I’d say that was what management was planning on.

 

Let’s look at those “team” stats a little more.  Second best record in the AL, 49-41 in the division, and a dominating 47-30 home record.  They lead all of baseball in attendance at 3.25 million, had the lowest AL payroll, and lead the league with 83 steals, and no single player had more than 20.  These little things add up to a solid team that can put just about any lineup on the field and compete.  You can see how they weathered the injury storm.  Looking forward to next year you’ll see nothing but blue skies, children playing, and some nervous AL East opponents.  Their core group is signed for years to come.  Cap space allows for a big free agent push or a mid-season trade.  No holes in the starting rotation or the field.  This Yankee club will be tough to beat.

 

Looking around the rest of the American League it’s going to be hard to get past Cleveland in the West.  They were the most dominant team in baseball last year, and that was mainly due to a key group of four.  One could say they were the opposite of the Yankees and there should be no doubt who the best player in baseball is.  His name is Henry Kimbro.  Kimbro dominated from game one, not just in one or two categories.  Besides taking the home run and RBI crown H-Bro watched his name bubble to the top of 9 other offensive categories.  He also stole 22 bases and went errorless in the field in 442 chances in left and center field.  The only thing between him and the triple crown was teammate Tony Lazzeri, and that was only by a point.  Lazzeri was the catalyst that fused with Kimbro to make a winning lineup the way T.C. worked with Magnum.  On the pitching side, Joe Wood award winner Mace Brown baffled opponents with surgical finesse and Prince Oana seemed to always be next to the ‘W’ in the boxscore.  Let’s see if the White Sox can live up to their promise and give them a run for their money.

 

In the AL East, the Red Sox, A’s, and Nationals seem a little off kilter due to inconsistent play, patchy major league ability, and aged mediocrity respectively.  As far as the National League goes, there seems to be no reason the revolving door on divisional winners should stop.  Both divisions are competitive, at least at the top.  The Phillies, Dodgers, and Giants are solid clubs with Brooklyn topping this reporters list in ’39.  Solid pitching should prove to be the difference maker.  On the west side you’ll find the best trio of teams in baseball, with the Reds, Pirates, and Cubs.  The Reds are young and looking to get younger with 4 first round and 2 second round picks.  The Pirates are only a year removed from the title and were in the lead most of the year, only to fall late to the surging Reds.  The Cubs are always a team to be reckoned with and actually have a first round pick this year, even if it isn’t theirs.  That along with cap space should signal a different looking lineup this time around.  The Cardinals improved this year with a sub-$40M payroll and with Teddy-Baseball joining the team they should get well fast.  This ink stained wretch is too vain to try to pick between the three at the top.

 

So ‘Congrats’ to the Yankees, the team you either love or hate.  The stretcher seems to be the only thing that could get in their way of a repeat.

Last Updated on Sunday, 23 May 2010 09:10
 
Athletics Win World Series Rematch for Club’s First Title PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dave Schwaller   
Monday, 01 February 2010 21:46

Fans of Philadelphia’s AL contingent packed the streets after Game 5 of the 1936 World Series to celebrate the team’s first championship.  It was an emotional end to a season that most people close to the club had been anticipating last season.  What was different this time around?

 

Were the A’s a better team and the Cubs worse this time around?  Both teams had better records in ’35, but the Cubs could hardly be called a worse team while the A’s were definitely not up to the standards they set a year ago.  In fact, the A’s lost 5 points of average and 32 points of ERA in 1936.  Were they hot at the end of the year?  Experts agree, 3-8 does not a hot streak make.  In contrast, the club the A’s faced in the ALCS, the Cleveland Indians, went 8-3 to close the regular season.  Not only that, but their marquee duo of Kimbro and Gehrig went 1-2 on the AL MVP ballot.  With these daunting statistical improbabilities staring the A’s in the face, how did they pull it out?

 

How about clutch play?  The first series against Cleveland was one to remember.  After alternating wins for the first four games, the Tribe banks game 5 and carries a 2 run lead into the ninth.  Not only that, they did it with two outs, bases empty in the ninth.  This is where the back of the lineup stepped up and carried the day…Moses walk, Orsatti double, error for Perkins, Dixon single tied the game.  In the tenth, batting champ Ben Chapman singled to lead off the inning, goes to third on the Demaree single, and scored on an error by Newsome.  Cleveland had to order bodyguards for Newsome after the game as his error in the ninth was the reason extra innings were necessary.  Game 7 wasn’t a contest, the momentum was with the A’s and they followed through.  The fact that they had this run without the aid of their all-star 9 year old catcher Pepper Basset makes this story all the more impressive.

 

How about quality pitching and riding the back of the AL Joe Wood award winner, Ray Prim?  Although the Indians put up some big runs in a couple games, the Cubs could only muster 13 runs in 5 games.  Much lower than their 4.9 runs a game in the regular season.  “Pop” was 3-0 in the playoffs and the team went 5-1 when he started.  The club did not give up a lead in either series.  That’s the definition of a dagger.

 

What about the energy and emotion brought by a new GM?  Sometimes the last piece of the puzzle is an intangible, and Zach Deuel definitely did that.  Getting the right guys is one thing, but putting them in the best possible position to succeed is what separates the cream from the milk.

 

All in all 1936 was an exciting season.  There were tight contests like the NL East which went to a playoff game between Boston and Brooklyn.  Many had these two clubs at the bottom of the division, but the Dodgers came out of the blocks on fire and it took an amazing run by the Braves to catch them.  Big trades were not scarce in Cincinnati.  First went Gehrig, Tiant, and Vosmik to Cleveland for three players and four draft picks.  This deal was definitely good for both clubs as Gehrig had a great season in Cleveland and helped bring them to within an out of the World Series.  Then went Gomez, Dihigo, and cash to Washington for 5 picks and some dead weight.  Look for the Reds to be strong in a couple of years.  We’ll stay in Cincinnati where Max Butcher No-Hit the Cubs on August 14th.  MVP Henry Kimbro of Cleveland burst onto the scene with an outstanding season.  This kid is special and we’ll be hearing from him for years to come.  In Brooklyn the fans had a wild ride as the club sped to a monster lead behind NL MVP Wally Berger, only to run out of gas and lose the one-game playoff to Boston.  Look for this young club to be in many more races, with ace Bob Feller at the helm.  The Cubs almost won 100 games for the second straight season, and this all-star lineup looks poised to do it again in ’37.  Pitching is the calling card for this team as they lead the league in almost all categories, and were second in the rest.  A team ERA of 3.25 and a starter ERA of 3.01 is outstanding.

 

With this championship for the A’s, half of the major league teams have won the World Series.  When will the second half notch their first?  It may be a while with the looks of the A’s and Cubs, but this reporter has his eye on the Red Sox, Dodgers, and Pirates.  The NL has been banking quality draft picks in the past few years and the aforementioned clubs have had the most.  So are the A’s atop the mountain heading down or have they not yet ascended to the summit?  Their core is in place with Leonard, Prim, and Bassett.  I’d take that combo into battle any day of the week.

Last Updated on Sunday, 04 April 2010 06:21
 
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