BBRT August Wrap – Rookies Make a Splash, Umbrella Night Rained Out, Big Papi Keeps Stormin’

CalAugIt’s September first and that means it’s time for Baseball Roundtable’s look at the month of August – winners, losers, streakers, pacesetters and more. Here’s just a few of the things we saw in MLB during the “Dog Days” of August:

  • 2016’s sixth triple play (Phillies) and first 500-foot home run (Giancarlo Stanton);
  • Ichiro’s 3,000th MLB hit;
  • Rockies’ rookie David Dahl opening his career with a MLB record-tying 17-game hitting streak;
  • Red Sox’ Mookie Betts tying the AL record for three-homer games in a season (Okay, it’s only two, but it puts him in some pretty good company);
  • The Orioles bashing four home runs before making their first out – and still losing the game;
  • Five AL playes topping ten home runs for the month – three of them Orioles (Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo and Manny Machado);
  • The Brewers beccoming just the 19th team to score in every inning of a game;
  • The Rockies’ DJ LeMahieu hitting an amazing .439 for the month, taking over the NL batting lead (held most of the season by the Nats’ Daniel Murphy) and still not capturing BBRT player of the month;
  • In six August starts, Yankees’ right-hander Masahiro Tanaka striking out 38 batters (in 39 innings) versus only one walk. 
  • Twins’ 2B Brian Dozier leading all of MLB with 13 August home runs, while also topping the ALin runs scored (27) and RBI (27 – tied) – and the Twins still going 9-20.
  • Giants’ shortstop Brandon Crawford tying a NL record with seven hits in a game
  • David Ortiz becoming the oldest player to hit 30 home runs in a season – and looking to set more age 40 records).

You can read the details on these accomplishments (and more) in this post (and also find my stats then you may want to consume); but first, let’s look at BBRT’s August Honors.


AL Player of the Month – Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees

Photo by apardavila

Photo by apardavila

Okay, it’s usually a surprise when a rookie is Player of the Month.  But, let’s face it, Yankee rookie Gary Sanchez’ performance has been truly surprising. Called up from Triple A Scranton Wilkes Barre on August 3 (where he was hitting .282, with 10 home runs and 50 RBI in 71 games), the 22-year-old Dominican’s previous MLB experience included two games (two at bats/no hits) last October and a zero-for-four performance in one game for the Yankees this May.  Note:  The Yankees did include Sanchez on the roster for the 2015 Wild Card Game, but he did not play in that contest.  Despite giving away those three games, Sanchez became the fastest player ever to 10 home runs and 30 hits (22 career games), and the first MLB rookie to win his league’s Player of the Week honor two consecutive weeks (August 15-21 and August 22-28).  For the month, Sanchez (also considered a plus defensive backstop) hit .389, with 11 home runs (second in the AL) and 21 RBI in 24 games.  How much has he meant to the Bronx Bombers? The day Sanchez first took a place in the Yankee lineup, New York’s record stood at 53-53.  Since that time, the Yankees have gone 16-10. Also in the running were Twins’ 2B Brian Dozier (.302, with an MLB-best 13 August round trippers) and and Tigers’ RF J.D. Martinez (.404-7-15) for the month. 

NL Player of the Month – Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies

Nolan Arenado photo

Nolan Arenado provides lumber AND leather for the Rockies. Photo by jenniferlinneaphotography

It was a tough call for BBRT Player of the Month in the NL. You had  Rockies’ 2B DJ LeMahieu, who hit .439 and passed the Nationals’ Daniel Murphy for the batting lead, as well as Rockies’ CF Charlie Blackmon, who hit .360 and led all of MLB with 30 runs scored (and led the NL in August home runs with 11).  BBRT, however, chooses to honor Rockies’ 3B Nolan Arenado – who continued his Gold glove defense and also hit .356 in August, while leading MLB in August RBI (36), hitting ten round trippers (tied for second in the NL), and scoring 27 runs (third in the league). BBRT note:  Arenado also got an edge as my current favorite MLB player (I played almost alll my baseball and softball at 3B – and grew up in the Eddie Mathews’ era.) For those unfamiliar with what Arenado brings to the table, last season he led the NL in home runs and RBIs and earned his third Gold Glove (in three MLB seasons).

AL Pitcher of the Month (tie) – Danny Duffy, LH, Royals/Masahiro Tanaka, RH, Yankees

Danny Duffy was a key part of the Royals’ August surge, going 5-1, 2.51.  He also helped keep the pressure off the Royals’ vaunted bullpen, averaging just over seven innings per start. Duffy led the AL in wins for the month (tied with Corey Kluber) and was third in innings pitched and tenth in strikeouts (39 Ks in 43 innings, with just nine walks).

Masahiro Tanaka also had six starts, going 4-1, 3.00. For the month, he threw 39 innings and fanned 38 hitters – versus (and this is what earned him this tie) only one walk.

Also on BBRT’s scope were the Indians’ Corey Kluber (5-0, 2.43 for the month, with 44 whiffs in 40 2/3 innings) and  the Red Sox’ Rick Porcello, who topped seven innings per start over six starts, and went 4-1, 2.61.  Porcello, who tossed 44 2/3 innings, fanned 41 batters against just four free passes.

NL Pitcher of the Month – Kyle Hendricks, RH, Cubs

It was a tough call in the NL, but BBRT gives a slight edge to the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks.  Hendricks went 4-0 in six starts (no NL pitcher won more than four games in the month) and had the lowest August ERA among MLB starters at 1.28, as well as the third-lowest WHIP (0.78). He also averaged seven innings per start and fanned 36 hitters (versus seven walks) over 42 1/3 innings.  Also in the running were the Nationals’ Max Scherzer (4-1, 3.05 with an NL-leading 51 strikeouts); the Cubs’ Jon Lester (3-0, 1.71); and Cubs’ closer Aroldis Chapman (tied for the MLB August lead in  saves with 11, sporting a 1.38  ERA, 22 strikeouts in 13 innings).

AL Team of the Month – Kansas City Royals

The Royals were the only AL team to reach 20 wins in August (20-9) – and they did it primarily on the strength of their pitching staff.  For the month, Kansas City finished ninth in runs scored (132) in the AL, but gave up the fewest runs in their league (90 ).  With an August ERA of 2.71, the Royals were the only AL team with an ERA under 3.00 (next best was Toronto at 3.63).  KC got strong starting performances out of the likes of Ian Kennedy (3-0, 1.86), Danny Duffy (5-1, 2.51) and Yordano Ventura (3-0, 2.55), supported by a lights-out bullpen – including Kelvin Herrera (10 saves and a 2.35 ERA for the month), Matt Strahm (no earned runs in 11 games), Brian Flynn (no earned runs in nine games), and Pete Moylan (1.00 ERA in 15 games).  The Royals big month brought them back into the Wild Card chase (three games out – after being 8 ½ out at the end of July).

NL Team of the Month – Chicago Cubs

Wrigley be "Wrockin'" in 2016.

Wrigley be “Wrockin'” in 2016.

The Cubs’ did it all in August – scoring the NL’s third-most runs (143) and giving up the league’s fewest tallies (85).The Cubbies boasted MLB’s lowest August ERA, a miniscule 2.66. The MLB average was 4.33 – and the AL Royals were the only other team under 3.00.  Just consider the mound staff’s August results: three starters with August ERAs under 2.00 – Kyle Hendricks (4-0, 1.28), John Lackey (1-0, 1.66) and Jon Lester (3-0, 1.71); as well as a bullpen led by the likes of Aroldis Chapman (11 saves, 1.38 ERA in 15 appearances); Justin Grimm (0.82 ERA in 12 appearances) and Trevor Cahill (1.93 in seven appearances). On offense, they looked to the likes of Kris Bryant (.383-10-22), Anthony Rizzo (.324-2-14); Addison Russell (.250-7-23); and Dexter Fowler (.263-2-7, with 26 runs scored).  The Cubs now enjoy a 15 -game lead over the NL Central second-place Cardinals – up from 7 ½ a month ago – Wrigley be Wrockin’.

Wins and Losses

While the Cubs and Royals were the only teams to reach 20 wins in September (see Teams of the Month, above), the Rangers had a solid month at 18-10 – despite middle-of-the pack numbers (eighth in the AL in ERA and tenth in runs scored for the month). Four teams picked up 17 wins August: the Yankees, Blue Jays and Nationals (all at 17-11) and the Red Sox (17-13). Minnesota was the only MLB team to earn less than ten wins (9-20), despite scoring the AL’s fourth-most August runs (142, just eight less than Boston’s league high for the month). Ah, but there’s the pitching.  The Twins gave up a n MLB-high 192 runs in August and were the only team with an ERA over six (6.21) for the month.

The San Francisco Roller Coaster

The San Francisco Giants – who came into August with a 61-44 record and a two-game lead in the NL West – went 11-16 and fell to second place, 1.5 games behind the Dodgers.  There have been plenty of ups and down in the Bay City, this season. Here are the Giants’ month by month 2016 records: April … 12-13; May … 21-8; June … 17-10; July … 11-13; August … 11-16).

If the season ended August 21, your playoff teams would be:

AL:  Rangers; Blue Jays; Indians. Wild Cards: Red Sox; Orioles/Detroit (tie). The AL East is the most competitive race, with the top three teams separated by just four games as of August 31; and the Orioles just two games out of a Wild Card spot. 

NL: Cubs; Nationals; Dodgers. Wild Cards: Giants; Cardinals.  The Dodgers and Giants are locked in the most competitive battle for a division title (NL West); with San Francisco trailing LA by 1 1/2 games. 


It Has Indeed Rained on Our Parade

Umbrella Night rained out.

Umbrella Night rained out.

On August 10, the Minnesota Twins scheduled Umbrella Night. What transpired was pretty much a microcosm of the Twins’ 2016 season – it rained on their parade.  Yes, on Umbrella Night, a truly major league downpour stopped the game in the top of the third inning, with the Twins up 5-0 over the Houston Astros. After a 2 ½-hour rain delay, the game was postponed and the Twins’ lead washed away. The game was replayed the following day, with the Twins losing 10-2 (after losing that day’s regularly scheduled contest 15-7). The storm was a portent of things to come, The Twins were 6-3 in the first nine days of August (after a promising 15-11 June), although still 19 games under .500.  After the rainout, they went 3-17, finishing August with an 49-84 record, the worst in the MLB (and riding an active 13-game losing streak). Ouch!




Runs Scored

AL: Red Sox (150); Yankees (148); Rays (144)

NL: Rockies (173); Nationals (157); Cubs (143)

Only the A’s and Marlins scored fewer than 100 runs in August – at 99 and 97, respectively. Miami also hit the fewest home runs of any team in August (21).  Clearly the Fish miss Giancarlo Stanton. Oakland and Miami also had MLB’s lowest August team batting averages (.235 and .250, respectively).

Batting Average

AL: Indians (.280); Red Sox (.276); Yankees (.274)

NL:  Rockies (.298); Nationals (.279); Reds and Cubs (.276)

Home Runs

AL: Orioles (55); Blue Jays (47); Yankees (42)

NL: Cardinals (46); Mets (45); Brewers and Rockies (40)

Stolen Bases

AL: Indians (34); Royals (26); Rangers (17)

NL: Brewers and D-backs (42); Reds (31)

The Orioles doubled their stolen base total from July – stealing two bags in August.

A few other stats of interest:

  • When it comes to striking out, the Brewers did it more than anybody in August, 288 times to be exact. At the other end of the spectrum were the Angels, whose hitters fanned just 188 times.
  • Milwaukee spent a lot of time not putting the ball in play – leading all of MLB in August in both strikeouts (see bullet point above) and walks (129 – one of only four teams to draw 100 free passes).
  • No one used the sacrifice to move runners up more than Kansas City – with 14 sacrifice hits (bunts) in August. The MLB average was five.


Earned Run Average

AL: Royals (2.71); Blue Jays (3.63); Tigers (3.64)

NL: Cubs (2.66); Pirates (3.41); Giants (3.88)

Pitching, pitching, pitching.  The two teams with the best August ERA’s also had the best Augut Won-Lost records.


AL:  Astros (274); Rays (272); Indians (266)

NL: Cubs (254); Mets (245); Nationals (237)

Other August stats of interest:

  • Despite pitchers batting in the NL, the top four pitching staff in strikeouts were in the AL.
  • The Cubs and Astros were the only teams to be among the top three in August strikeouts, as well as among the three best in terms of fewest walks allowed.



Now, let’s look at some  individual highlights for August. 

They Call Him the Streak  —

  • From July 25 through August 12, Rockies’ rookie left fielder David Dahl hit in 17 straight games. A nice little streak, but nothing that special (after all, DiMaggio hit in 56 straight) – unless you consider that those 17 games were the first 17 games of Dahl’s MLB career, giving him a share of the MLB record for the longest hitting streak to start a career. (Dahl went zero-for-four in his 18th MLB game). The 22-year-old rookie collected 24 hits in 70 at bats (.358) during his streak – including one double, three triples and three home runs.  Over the 17 games, he drove in ten runs and scored 17. For more on Dahl and his streak, click here.
  • From his second at bat August 25 until his second-to-last at bat August 27, Red Sox’ 2B Dustin Pedroia collected hits in 11 straight at bats – just one short of the MLB record shared by: Johnny Kling (Cubs, 1902); Pinky Higgins (Red Sox, 1938); and Walt Dropo (Tigers, 1952). During his streak, Pedroia collected ten singles and a double, scored twice and drove in three. Pedroia raised his average 15 points during the streak (.306 to .321). Despite Pedroia’s streak, the Red Sox lost two of the three contests.
  • Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello started six games in August, going 4-2 and proving just how much he likes home cooking. He won all four starts at Fenway and lost both road starts.  It ran Porcello’s 2016 record to 18-3 (leading MLB in victories). It also raised his 2016 record at Fenway to 13-0, 3.03 in 14 starts.  On the road, he is 5-3, 3.49 in 13 starts. This 13-0 home record puts Porcello just two wins away from the modern MLB record for an undefeated season at home. Last season, the Astros’ Dallas Keuchel went 15-0, 1.46 at Minute Maid Park.
  • On August 11th, Orioles’ closer Zach Britton not only recorded his 35th save in 35 opportunities this season, he also notched his MLB-record 39th straight appearance without allowing an earned run. He stretched that record to 43 games (41 1/3 innings), before allowing an earned run in an appearance against the Nationals on August 24.

Off to a Good Start – The Finish, Not So Much —

On August 19, the power-packed Orioles (leading the majors in home runs), set a major league record (first time since 1900) by hitting four home runs before making their first out of the game.  It went like this: after the Astros scored once in the top of the first inning, the Orioles sent CF/leadoff hitter Adam Jones to the plate against Houston starter Collin McHugh.  Jones hit McHugh’s first pitch of the game over the LF fence.  (Notably, Astros’ leadoff hitter RF George Springer had also started the game with a homer). Orioles’ LF Hyon Soo Kim followed with a single to center, after which 3B Manny Machado homered to center.  Then 1B Chris Davis homered to right center and RF Mark Trumbo hammered one out to center. DH Pedro Alvarez grounded out to second to end the hit parade – and McHugh gave up two more singles before getting out of the inning trailing 5-0.

Despite the fast start, the Orioles lost the game – which featured nine home runs – by a score of 15-8.

More #Why I Hate the DH —

On August 5, Cardinals’ southpaw Jaime Garcia went eight strong innings (three hits, one walk, 11 strikeouts) in beating the Braves 1-0 in Saint Louis.  AND, Garcia had one of only two Cardinal hits – driving in the winning run with a single in the second inning.

Three Times the Charm – and Good Company —

Mookie betts photo

Photo by Dennis Heller

On Augst 14th, Red Sox’ RF Mookie Betts belted three home runs (and a single) as the Red Sox topped the D-backs 16-2 at Fenway. Betts scored four runs and drove in eight in the contest. He also tied the AL record for games with three (or more) home runs in a season (two). The last (only other) Red Sox hitter to accompliah that feat was Ted William in 1957. Other American Leaguers to have two three-home-run games in a season: Doug DeCinces, Angels, 1982; Joe Carter, Indians, 1989; Cecil Fielder, Blue Jays, 1990; Geronimo Berroa, A’s, 1996; Carlos Delgado, Blue Jays, 2001.  The record? Sammy Sosa, three games of three home runs for the Cubs in 2001.



Lucky Number Seven —

On August 9, Giants’ SS Brandon Crawford tied the National League record for base hits in a single game – going seven-for-eight as the Giants topped the Marlins (in Miami) 8-7 in 14 innings. Crawford’s seventh and final hit – a single to center in the top of the 14th inning drove in the go-ahead run – tying the record and winning the game.  Crawford’s seven hits included five singles, a double and a triple – and he scored once and drove in a pair of runs. For more on his day – and an incredible nine-hit performance, click here.

How About a Game of 500? —

On August 6, Marlins’ RF Giancarlo Stanton hit the only (thus far) 500-foot home run of the 2016 season – a 504-foot solo blast in the fifth inning of the Marlins 12-6 road loss to the Rockies.  Note: Statcast had the home run at 504 feet, ESPN Home run Tracker at 495.

Lucky Number Three —

On August 7, the Philadelphia Phillies turned a nifty 5-4-3 triple play (Maikel Franco to Cesar Hernandez to Tommy Joseph), the sixth triple killing this season (a single-season record-tying three by the White Sox already). The play came in the seventh inning of the Phillies’ 6-5 win over the Padres in San Diego.  (BBRT note: The record for total triple plays in an MLB season is 11 – 1924, 1929, 1979. The only years in which MLB saw no triple plays were 1961 and 1974.)

MLB Post Season Schedule Announced – Nothing Like November Baseball —

Major League Baseball has announced is 2016 post season schedule.  Here are a few key dates:

  • AL Wild Card game – October 4
  •  NL Wild Card game – October 5
  • AL Division Series – Opens October 6
  • NL Division Series – Opens October 7
  • AL Championship Series – Opens October 14
  • NL Championship Series – Opens October 15
  • World Series – Opens October 25
  • World Series seventh game (if necessary) – November 2.

Movin’ On Up —

  • On August 7, Ichiro Suzuki notched his 3,000th Major League hit – a triple off Rockies’ reliever Chris Rusin in the seventh inning of a 10-7 Marlins win in Denver. He became just the second player to hit a triple for hit number 3,000 (Paul Molitor is the other). The 3,000th safety put Ichiro at number-thirty on the MLB “hit list.” By month’s end, he added 12 more hits, moving up to number 27. Next target: Rafael Palmeiro at 3,020. Making Ichiro’s feat even more impressive is that he made his MLB debut at age 27 – after collecting 1,278 hits in Japan.
  • Angels’ DH Albert Pujols started August with 20 home runs on the season and 580 in his career – putting him at number 12 all time. In August, he added six home runs, moving up to number nine.  Next target: Sammy Sosa at 609.
  • A shout out to Indians’ top catching prospect Francisco Mejia of the High A Lynchburg Hillcats on his 50-game hitting streak, which started May 27 and came to an end August 14. It was professional baseball’s fourth-longest streak ever.  For details on the record 69-game hitting streak, click here.  During his streak, the 20-year-old Mejia hit .386, with eight home runs and 42 RBI.

Trumbo Goes Deep – Or not at All —

From the seventh inning of Baltimore’s August 11th 9-6 win over Oakland (when he hit a Grand Slam) until his first inning single in Baltimore’s August 23rd game against Washington (won by Baltimore 8-1),  Orioles’ right fielder Mark Trumbo went 7-for-36 (.195), which probably shouldn’t rate a mention here.  However, all seven of Trumbo hits in that span were home runs (three solo shots, one two-run long ball, a three-run homer and the Grand Slam). This made Trumbo the first Oriole to collect home runs on seven straight hits, four short of Mark McGwire’s 11 straight (MLB record) in 2001.

Trumbo’s streak covered 11 games – and included four hitless contests.  Baltimore went 5-2 in games featuring a Trumbo home run during the streak, and 0-4 in games in which he didn’t go deep.  As August closed, Trumbo was leading MLB with 40 home runs.

Mark McGwire – All or Nothing Times Eleven

Mark McGwire photo

Photo by drcliffordchoi

From The sixth inning of a Cardinals’ 17-11 loss to the Astros on July 18, 2001 (when he hit a solo home run) until hitting a single in the fifth inning of a Cardinals’ 8-4 win over Reds, Mark McGwire collected 11 hits – all of them home runs – setting the MLB record for consecutive hits that were home runs.  During that span, McGwire appeared in 21 games, going 11-for-66 (.166) and driving in 17 runs. (Note: The 11th home run came in the 18th game of the streak – August 12 – but McGwire had two hitless games before collecting the single.) During his streak, McGwire had 11 hitless contests.  During the stretch, the Cardinals went 8-2 in games in which McGwire homered and 4-7 in games he was held hitless. McGwire finished the season (his final MLB season) with a .187 average, 29 home runs and 64 RBI in 97 games. The four-time HR champ retired with a .263 career average, 583 home runs and 1,414 RBI.

You’re Only as Old as You Feel —

On August 24th, David Ortiz smacked his 30th home run of the season – a two-run shot (bringing Big Papi to the 100 RBI mark in this, his final, season). The long ball came in the top of the first inning (in a game Boston eventually lost 4-3 to Tampa Bay in 11 innings.)   As you might expect, it marked another milestone for the Boston DH.

With the home run, Ortiz became the oldest player in MLB history to reach the 30-home run mark – at 40 years, nine months and six days.  It was also Ortiz’ 10th 100-RBI season, and made him the only player to reach the 30-home run, 100-RBI mark in his final campaign. (BBRT is assuming he will follow through on his retirement announcement.)

How good has Big Papi’s farewell season been? He closed August hitting  .313 – 31-102, with an AL-leading 42 doubles and even two stolen bases.

Just One Moore Would Have Been Nice —

On August 25th, Matt Moore, acquired by San Francisco at the trade deadline, picked up his first win as a Giant – and he did it in (nearly) spectacular fashion, coming within one out of no-hitting the rival Dodgers. With two outs in the ninth, Moore had given up no hits, no runs, with three walks and seven strikeouts.  Up stepped Dodger SS Corey Seager – on what just happened to be Corey Seager Bobble Head Night. Seager hit a soft line drive to right field for a single – ending the no-hitter and Moore’s outing. (Moore was relieved by Santiago Casilla, who got the final out.)

No Circles for the Brewers —

On Thursday, August 11th, the Milwaukee Brewers refused to be denied – becoming just the 19th MLB team (since 1900) to score in every inning of a ball game. The Brewers collected 14 hits in the 11-3 win over the Braves and the line score looked like this:

Braves     0 0 0   0 0 2     1 0 0       3   9   1

Brewers   2 1 1     1 1 3      1 1 X      11 14   0

The Brewers’ attack featured home runs by 1B Chris Carter, 2B Scooter Gennett; and RF-3B Hernan Perez.


Now, how about a look at individual stat leaders for August?


Batting Average (minimum 75 at bats)

AL: Dustin Pedroia,  Red Sox (.406); J.D. Martinez, Tigers (.404); Gary Sanchez, Yankees (.389)

NL: DJ LeMahieu, Rockies (.439); Joey Votto, Reds (.394); Neil Walker, Mets (.389)

Among players with at least 75 at bats in August, the lowest average belonged to the Royals’ Raul Mondesi at .160 (13-for-81).  The lowest average (again at least 75 at bats) in the NL went to the Marlins’ Marcel Ozuna at .162 (17-for-105). Thirteen players with at least 75 at bats hit under .200 for the month – including MLB home run leader (on the season) Oriole Mark Trumbo, who hit .184, but with ten homers and 21 RBI.

Home Runs

AL: Brian Dozier, Twins (13); Gary Sanchez, Yankees (11); Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo and Manny Machado, Orioles (each with 10)

NL: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies (11); five with 10


AL: Jose Altuve, Astros; Mookie Betts, Red Sox; Brian Dozier, Twins (each with 27)

NL: Nolan Arenado, Rockies (36); Ryan Braun, Brewers (28); Joey Votto, Reds (26)

Runs Scored

AL: Brian Dozier, Twins (27); George Springer, Astros (25); Alex Bregman, Astros (23)

NL: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies (30); Kris Bryant, Cubs (29); three with 27

Stolen Bases

AL: Rajai Davis, Indians (9); Jose Ramirez, Indians (9); Elvis Andrus, Rangers (7)

NL:  Billy Hamilton, Reds (19); Jonathan Villar, Brewers (15); three with eleven

No one fanned more in August than the Red Sox Jackie Bradley, Jr. – with 39 whiffs in 106 at bats.  Bradley hit .198-5-13 for the month.  In the NL, the Giants’ Brandon Belt (.237-3-17) and Padres’ Will Myers (.216-3-9) each fanned 37 times in 97 at bats.


Earned Run Average (minimum 25 innings pitched)

AL: Carlos Rondon, White Sox (1.47); Ian Kennedy, Royals (1.86); Jose Quintana, White Sox (2.29)

NL: Kyle Hendricks, Cubs (1.28); John Lackey, Cubs (1.66); Jon Lester, Cubs (1.71)

The highest ERA among pitchers who tossed at least 25 innings in August goes to the Indians’ Josh Tomlin (11.48 in six starts). Over in the NL, Jimmy Nelson of the Brewers started six games and produced an ERA of 9.00.


AL: Corey Kluber, Indians (5-0); Danny Duffy, Royals (5-1); eight with four

NL: Ten with four


AL: Chris Sale, White Sox (52 in 46 2/3 IP); Chris Archer, Rays (47 in 38 2/3 IP); Carlos Carrasco, Indians (46 in 36 1/3IP)

NL: Max Scherzer, Nationals (51 in 41 1/3 IP); Brandon Finnegan (41 in 37 1/3 IP); Robbie Ray, D-backs (38 in 30 IP)


AL: Edwin Diaz, Mariners (11), Kelvin Herrera, Royals (10); three with eight

NL: Aroldis Chapman, Cubs (11); Tory Watson, Pirates (10), Kenley Jansen, Dodgers (9)

August Observations:

  • Chris Sale led all of MLB in strikeouts (52), had a 2.89 ERA in six starts and led the majors in complete games (2) – and still won only once against three losses. On the other hand, the Cardinals’ Jaime Garcia went 3-2 with an ERA of more than 5.00.
  • Aroldis Chapman (Cubs) and Edwin Diaz (Royals) tied for the MLB lead in saves – yet Diaz’ ERA was nearly three times as high as Chapman’s (3.95 versus 1.38).
  • The three lowest NL ERAs (at least 25 August innings) went to Cubs (Kyle Hendricks, John Lackey and Jon Lester). In 14 August starts, their combined ERA was 1.51.
  • The Phillies’ Hector Neris led MLB in August “holds” with eight. He pitched in 14 games (14 2/3 innings) and gave up just one earned run.


Now, a look at a few Year-to-Date Stats.


Batting Average 

AL: Red Sox (.285); Tigers (.266); Indians (.265)

NL: Rockies (.275); Marlins (.268); D-backs (.263)

No one pinch hits like the “fella’s from Missouri.” Only two teams have pinch hit batting average over .300 on the season:  The Cardinals (.348/64-for-184) and the Royals (.303/19-for-33). The MLB overall pinch-hitting average (through August) was .210, and 13 teams have PH averages below the Mendoza Line (sub-.200).

Runs Scored

AL: Red Sox (724): Blue Jays (653); Indians (646)

NL: Rockies (709); Cubs (672); Cardinals (650)

No team has put fewer runs on the board this season than the Phillies (492 as of August 31). The Phillies also have the second worst team batting average (.238, the Padres are at .236).

Home Runs

AL: Orioles (209); Blue Jays (196); Mariners (179)

NL: Cardinals (189); Mets (178); Nationals (176)

Stolen Bases

AL: Indians (106); Royals (89); Astros (88)

NL: Brewers (147); Reds (114); D-backs (112)

The Orioles clearly have power (as attested by their MLB-leading 209 home runs; on a pace for 255).  Speed, however, is a different story.  The Baltimore Birds do not fly – they are dead last in stolen bases with 15 on the season. No other team has less than 30. 


Earned Run Average

AL: Blue Jays (3.79); Indians (3.81); Astros (3.90)

NL: Cubs (3.13); Nationals (3.44); Mets (3.63)

Through August, the Twins and D-backs have the worst ERA’s in their respective leaguues – both at 5.12.

Complete Games

AL: Red Sox (8); White Sox (6); Indians (5)

NL: Giants (9); Cubs (4); Dodgers (3 – Don’t they miss Kershaw?)


AL: Yankees (1,160); Astros (1,155); Indians (1,138)

NL: Dodgers (1,225); Nationals (1,219); Cubs (1,177)


AL: Orioles (46); Rangers (46); Mariners (41)

NL: Marlins (46); Mets (45); Pirates (45)

The Chicago White Sox lead all of MLB in Blown Saves through August with 26 – against 38 saves. 


Now, the individual leaders.


Batting Average (minimum 400 plate appearances)

AL: Jose Altuve, Astros (.351); Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox (.323); Mookie Betts, Red Sox (.320)

NL: DJ LeMahieu, Rockies (.345); Daniel Murphy, Nationals (.341); Martin Prado, Marlins (.319)

The lowest average among players with at least 400 plate appearnces belongs to White Sox’ 3B todd Frazier at .212. However, he also has 33 home runs, 83 RBI and ten stolen bases. 

Runs Scored

AL: Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays (106); Mookie Betts, Red Sox (103); Mike Trout, Angels (102)

NL: Kris Bryant, Cubs (111); Nolan Arenado, Rockies (98); Charlie Blackmon, Rockies (90)

Home Runs

AL: Mark Trumbo, Orioles (40); Edwin Encarnacion, Bluye Jays (36); two with 34

NL: Nolan Arenado, Rockies and Kris Bryant, Cubs (36); Chris Carter, Brewers (30)


AL: Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays (106); Albert Pujols, Angels (103); David Ortiz, Red Sox (102)

NL: Nolan Arenado, Rockies (115); Daniel Murphy, Nationals (98); Anthony Rizzo, Cubs (93)

Stolen Bases

AL: Rajai Davis, Indians (30); Jose Altuve, Astros (26); Mike Trout, Angels (21)

NL: Billy Hamilton, Reds (54); Jonathan Villar, Brewers (50); Starling Marte, Pirates (46)


Earned Run Average

AL: Jose Quintana, White Sox (2.77); Aaron Sanchez, Blue Jays (2.88); Cole Hamels, Rangers (2.91)

NL: Kyle Hendricks, Cubs (2.09); Madison Bumgarner, Giants (2.49); Noah Syndegaard, Mets (2.55)


AL; Rick Porcello, Red Sox (18-3) J.A. Happ, Blue Jays (17-4); three with 15.

NL: Jake Arrietts, Cubs (16-5); Stephen Strasburg, Nationals (15-4); Max Scherzer, Nationals (15-7)

Chris Archer of the Rays leads MLB in losses through August(8-17, 4.10). 


AL: Zach Britton, Orioles (39); Fernando Rodriguez, Tigers (37); Dave Robertson, White Sox (33)

NL: Jeurys Familia, Mets (44); Kenley Jansen, Dodgers (40); Mark Melancon Nats/Pirates (37)


FINALLY, the standing as of August 31. 

MLB Standings Through August 31 (Won-lost for August in parentheses)

                             Won      Lost     Pct.     GB      Aug. Record


Toronto                  76            57         .571      …     (17-1l)

Boston                  74            59         .556      2.0     (17-13)

Baltimore              72             61         .541      4.0    (13-16)

New York               69           63         .523       6.5     (17-11)

Tampa Bay            56          76          .424      19.5     (14-15)


Cleveland               76           56          .576       …      (16-14)

Detroit                    72           61          .541      4.5      (15-15)

Kansas City            69            64         .519       7.5      (20-9)

Chicago                  63            69         .4xx     13.0      (12-15)

Minnesota              49             84         .368     27.5      (9-20)


Texas                     80           54           .597      …         (18-10)

Houston                  71           62           .534      8.5        (16-13)

Seattle                   68            65           .511     11.5        (16-13)

Los Angeles            59           74           .444      20.5      (12-16)

Oakland                  57          76            .429     22.5       (10-18)



Washington           78            55           .586       …       (17-11)

New York              69            64          .519      9.0       (15-14)

Miami                   67            66          .504      11.0       (10-18)

Philadelphia          6o             73         .451      18.0       (12-14)

Atlanta                  50             83        .376       28.0      (13-15)


Chicago                  85            47          .644       …        (22-6)

St. Louis                 70              62        .530     15.0       (14-13)

Pittsburgh               67              64        .511     17.5       (15-13)

Milwaukee              57               76       .429     28.5       (10-20)

Cincinnati               55               77        .417     30.0      (13-15)


Los Angeles           74               59         .556        …        (15-13)

San Francisco        72               60         .545       1.5        (11-16)

Colorado                 64               69         .481      10.0       (12-16)

Arizona                   56                 77        .421      18.0      (13-15)

San Diego               55                77         .4xx      18.5      (10-17)


Whew!  Still with me?  If so, thanks!!

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.



Moore Loses No-Hitter with Two Out in the Ninth – How About Losing a Perfect Game at that Late Juncture

Matt Moore photo

Matt Moore, moved from Tampa Bay to San Francisco for the stretch drive, notched a near no-no yesterday. Photo by Keith Allison

Yesterday, August 25, Matt Moore picked up his first win since his trade to the San Francisco Giants – giving up just one hit (a single to Dodgers’ shortstop Corey Seager) in  8 2/3 innings (no runs, one hit, three walks, seven strikeouts.)

Despite the masterful performance and the 4-0  win over the rival Dodgers, there was a tinge of disappointment to the game.  You see, Seager’s hit (on Corey Seager Bobblehead Night) came with two-outs in the bottom of the ninth – spoiling Moore’s no hit bid.

Losing a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth is truly disappointing, but what about the ultimate let-down – losing a perfect game with two outs in the ninth? Appropriately, this has occured fouteen times in MLB history.  To read the stories of those “oh-so-close-to-perfection” outings click here.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance. 

Ray Caldwell – An Electrifying (or denying) Hurler

CaldwellWe’ve all seen baseball fans reward a player (with a loud round of applause) for getting up, dusting himself off and trotting to first base after getting hit by a pitch.

But how about a player who get up, dusts himself off and continues to play – after getting leveled buy a lightning bolt.  It happened on this day (August 24) back in 1919, when hard-nosed, hard-living, Cleveland Indians’ hurler Ray Caldwell was knocked out by a lightning strike – only to get to his feet, “shake it off” amd complete the game. Note:  BBRT commented on Caldwell’s feat in a 2013 post, but a lot of readers have been added since them, and I think Caldwell deserves another shout out for his grit (and I’ll add a few details on his career.)

“Pitcher Ray Caldwell, who recently joined the Cleveland team, making his first appearance here was knocked down, but soon recovered and remained pitching.”

New York Tribune

August 25, 1919



Bain News Service photo.

As a ballplayer, Ray Caldwell was known as someone who played hard – on and off the field.  The 6’2”, 190-pound, right-hander was thought by many to be a potential team “ace” on the mound.  However, his career was derailed by ongoing arm troubles and a penchant for “living large.”  His days in MLB were marked with multiple fines and suspensions related to alcohol and absenteeism.  As New York Yankees’ manager Miller Huggins described it, “Caldwell was one of the best pitchers that ever lived, but he was one of the characters that kept a manager in constant worry.”   Reflecting on Caldwell’s career, sportswriter Fred Lieb (credited with labeling Yankee Stadium “The House that Ruth Built” wrote (April 27, 1933, The Sporting News), “He was one of the playboys of his time. Caldwell loved baseball, but he loved the high lights better.”

Caldwell, like most pitchers of his day (his MLB career lasted from 1910 though 1921), like to finish what he started.  He, in fact, finished more than 70 percent of his starts (184 complete games in 259 starts).  Not only was it difficult for opposing hitters to drive him from the mound, even Mother Nature couldn’t get the best of him.

On August 24, 1919, Caldwell made his initial appearance for the Cleveland Indians (after being released by the Red Sox, with a 7-4 record and 3.94 ERA).  Cleveland manager Tris Speaker, in a tight pennant race with the White Sox, thought he could handle the problematic Caldwell, and it turned out he was right – Caldwell went 5-1, 1.71 in six starts down the stretch, including a September 10 no-hitter against the Yankees.  (He also hit .348, 8-for-23, with four doubles in his six starts for Cleveland.)  But let’s get back to that August 24 game.

Caldwell started his first game in Cleveland – against the lowly Philadelphia Athletics – and, despite threatening weather, was cruising along with a four-hitter and a 2-1 lead.  With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Caldwell faced not only the A’s number-five hitter (shortstop Jumpin’ Joe Dugan), but also dark skies, rumbling thunder, occasional lightening and intermittent rain.  As witnesses reported, with Dugan at the plate, a lightning bolt blazed from the sky, hit near the press box, traveled down the ball park railings, exited and crossed the infield, dropping Caldwell (some said that it hit him in the top of the cap) as though he had been struck by a line drive.

The fans gasped, some even screamed, and the umpires rushed to the mound, where Caldwell lay face up, arms outstretched. Caldwell slowly sat up, then got to his feet and shook his head to clear the cobwebs. – refusing suggestion that he leave the mound.   Instead, he demanded the ball and retired Dugan on a grounder to third base on the very next pitch.

As noted, Caldwell finished 1919 strong for Cleveland and, in 1920, his 20-10, 3.86 season helped Cleveland capture the AL pennant.  By 1922, at the age of 33, however, Caldwell’s history of arm and disciplinary problems had brought his major league career to an end.  He kept playing, however, logging a dozen  more minor league seasons – and despite two twenty-win minor league campaigns, never again toed a major league pitching rubber.

Ray Caldwell – Some Highlights

In addition, to bouncing back to complete a game after being hit by lightning, Ray Caldwell had some other electrify career moments:

– On June 10 and 11, 1915, Caldwell was used in consecutive games as a pinch hitter for the New York Yankees.  He delivered consecutive home runs – a solo homer and a three-run shot. (This was in a year when the AL leader stroked only seven long balls.)

–  On June 23, 1917, Caldwell started both ends of a Yankees/Athletics doubleheader – winning both games.  He pitched six scoreless innings in Game One (leaving with a 9-0 lead in an eventual 10-4 Yankees’ win); then he threw a complete game six-hitter in Game Two (as the Yankees won 2-1). A good day at the office, for sure.

– In 1915, Calwell started 36 games and completed 31.

– He was a 20 game winner (20-10, 3.86) for the Indians in 1920.

– In 1914, he won 18 games for the Yankees and posted a 1.94 ERA (fourth best in the league).

– In 1915 he finished fifth in the AL in pitching victories (19), and fourth in home runs HIT (4).

– His career batting average was .248 and in 1918 and 1919, respectively, he hit ..291 and .296. 

Caldwell’s final MLB stats (Yankees, Red Sox, Indians)  included a 134-120 record and a 3.22 ERA.  In addition to his 20-win season with the Indians, he went 18-4, 1.94 for the 1914 Yankees and 19-16, 2.89 for the 1915 New York AL club.  A versatile athlete, Caldwell was also often used in the outfield, first base or as a pinch hitter. In 1918, he pitched in 24 games (21 starts) for the Yankees and also hit .291 in 169 at bats – playing in 65 games and taking the field at first base and in all three outfield positions (most often center field).  In 1915, his four home runs were ninth in the AL (Braggo Roth led the league with 7), despite Caldwell having 200 at bats fewer than anyone else in the top ten.  (League leader Roth hit his seven homers in 384 at bats; Caldwell hit his four homers in 155 at bats. )

Ray “Slim” Caldwell – not even a lightening bolt could drive him from the mound.


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance. 

Ballpark Tours 2016 – Day Ten – Is this Heaven? No, it’s Iowa.

Principal Park - Des Moines - home of the Iowa Cubs.

Principal Park – Des Moines – home of the Iowa Cubs.

Ten days of care-free baseball travel are coming to an end.   For the past week-and-a-half, our band of 32 has gotten up each morning facing only three important questions:  1) Do I have a bus to catch?  2) Who is playing today?  3) What t-shirt and/or hat should I wear?

On the final day of our trip, we left Kansas City at 8:30 a.m. – after enjoying the Country Club Plaza’s breakfast buffet – headed for Des Moines and the 1:08 p.m. Iowa Cubs/Memphis Redbirds tilt.

BLEACHER BUMS XXXIV – What we did, as a group and on our own.

 – Our trip took approximately 230 hours and covered 2,500 miles.

– We saw nine baseball games (one rainout) in seven cities in four states in ten days.

– We tok in Independent-ball, A, AA, AAA and major league

– We visited barbeque joints, breweries, Irish pubs, blues bars and honky tonks.

– We enjoyed the Negro Leagues Museum, Graceland, the National Civil Rights Museum and more.

– In addition to our Sugar Loaf coach, members of our group traveled via horse-drawn carriage, hotel shuttles, Uber and taxi.

– We ate, drank, shopped and celebrated on/in Beale Street, Printers Alley, Westport, 18th & Vine and the Honky Tonk Highway.

– In the ball parks, we enjoyed fireworks, Elvis Night and zombies – and even a spirited game of Jenga.

– Our ball park food ranged from hot dogs and brats to Fried Moon Pies and “The Bacon Explosion.”

– We set up on-board Bloody Mary and Mimosa stations.

– While traveling our “baseball highway,” we shared Chex Mix, Chicago Mix, cookies, candy, chips, cheese and crackers – and lots of baseball stories.

– “In port,” we ate everything from Crawfish Etouffee to barbeque to oven-fired pizza.

– Meals in our on-the-road lunch stops covered everything from meatball sandwiches to Maid Rites (and more, even Chinese at one stop).

– We guessed how many runs would be scored, answered a baseball trivia quiz and played the cup game.

– We purchased nearly every souvenir imaginable … lapel pins, jerseys, hats, bats.  You name it, we bought it, and now we have to store it.

– We even took part in a baseball book exchange.

– We renewed old friendships and forged new ones.

– We had FUN, FUN, FUN!

10 maid

The stop at Maid Rite proved popular for several membes of our touring group.

Our Sunday morning bus ride included a rest stop at an Amish store that included a Maid Rite restaurant.  For those of you unfamiliar with Maid Rites (called by some loose-meat sandwiches), they are basically seasoned, crumbled hamburger on a bun –  delicious and increasingly difficult to find.  (Unless you are on a Ballpark Tours bus.)  Even though I had enjoyed a multi-plated breakfast buffet, I couldn’t resist a junior Maid Rite.

We arrived at Principal Park in Des Moines about 45 minutes prior to game time.  The park is located at the confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers – and you get a great view of downtown and the gold-domed state capitol building beyond the outfield fences.



Just your average Bloody Mary.

Just your average Bloody Mary.

On entering the park, I was pleased to find a bar serving Bloody Mary’s right near the gates.  Check one item off the BBRT list.  The Bloody Mary was $8.00 – and just average.  A good, pre-made Bloody Mary mix, but no added condiments or spices.

We had great seats – between home plate and third base.  All the seats in the park – which holds 11,500 – appear to be close to the action. The weather, by the way, was as good as the seats – mid-70’s, sunny with a light breeze, perfect for the last game of our tour.

The scorecard ($1) was one of the best on the trip.  It included a handout that provided: team rosters and numbers; the day’s starting lineups; full stats on each player; current PCL standings; the upcoming schedule; and “News and Notes.”  Kudos to the Iowa Cubs.

The "Out of Towners" were taking on the "Local Boys."

The “Out of Towners” were taking on the “Local Boys.”

A bit more about the ball park before I get into the game itself.   The scoreboard is a unique blend of old and new.  It has a large, clear video screen that provides plenty of information on each hitter (including their Twitter addresses), as well as replays of key plays.  Beneath that is a set of center field bleachers and an old-school, inning-by-inning line score (you know, the kind where you post the runs, hits and errors by hand) that labels the two teams ”OUT OF TOWNERS” and “LOCAL BOYS.”

Principles on Display at Principle Park

Some of our group thought the park should be named Principle Park, since the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is proudly displayed as you enter the ballpark.  The sign, I learned, was the idea of the team’s majority owner Michael Gartner – a former journalist.  

A brader park sandiwch the size of a catcher's mitt.

A breader pork tenderloin  sandiwch the size of a catcher’s mitt, served on a bed of fries for $11.

The concessions earned approval from our group as a whole – in particular the juicy Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich, the massive Pork Tenderloin Basket and the Bacon Explosion (summer sausage stuffed AND wrapped with bacon).  The walk-in beer cooler – fans can walk into the cooler and select their cold brew – is thought to be the only one of its kind at a ball park.

So, how about the game?

It was a close contest (2-1 after seven innings), eventually won by the Memphis Redbirds 4-1.  The Redbirds got to Cubs’ starter Jake Buchanan early, scoring twice on a single and two doubles in the first inning. He then settled down and held Memphis scoreless until giving up an unearned run in the seventh.

Mike Mayers, who started for the Redbirds, went a solid five innings – giving up just six hits and one earned run, while walking one and fanning eight. (In his last three starts, Mayers has walked just one and fanned 21 in 17 innings). Overall, the game featured 18 strikeouts – eleven by four Redbirds’ pitchers and seven by three Cubs’ hurlers.

If I had to name offensive stars for the game – offense was pretty light – they would be the Redbirds’ SS/leadoff hitter Breyvic Valera and Cubs’ 3B/cleanup hitter Jeimer Candelario.  Valera had three hits (all singles) and an RBI. It was his seventh three-hit game of the season and he ended the contest hitting .363.  Candelario had two of the Cubs’ seven hits (all the Cubs’ hits were singles), giving him a nine-game hitting streak and a streak of 28 consecutive games reaching base.

We did see a nifty 6-4-3 double play, a couple of running catches in the outfield, a leaping catch at the  centerfield wall, a nifty bunt single and a single on a lazy fly lost in the sun (We all thought it should have been scored an error).

Let the Pitchers Hit

As regular BBRT readers know, I am not a fan of the Designated Hitter.  Well, in the Iowa/Memphis game, the pitchers came to the plate.  The rules dictate that if either team is affiliated with an American League team, the DH is used.  However, if neither team is affiliated with an AL squad, the pitchers hit.  Memphis and Iowa are Cardinals’ and Cubs’ affiliates, so we got to see the pitchers take a few swings. Overall, the hurlers went two-for-five and – as you will read in the Cup Game aside – that worked out pretty well for me.

All in all, a well-played game – although fielders did have trouble with the high sky and there were some adventurous plays on fly balls and pop-ups.

The Cup Game and an Unlikely Win

Every so often, our touring group likes to add a little excitement to the contest with “The Cup Game.”  It goes like this – a cup is passed, in a specific order, among the participants (we had nine this time) – changing hands with each new batter.  If the hitter at the plate does not get a hit or a walk, you put in a quarter and pass the cup to the next participant. If your batter walks, you pass the cup, but put in no money.  If your batter gets a hit, you get the contents of the cup, and then pass it on.  If your batter hits a home run, you get the contents of the cup and an extra quarter from each participant.  Finally, whoever has the cup when the last out is made, gets its contents.  

For most of the game, I found myself receiving an empty cup and passing on one with my quarter in it. Then in the ninth inning, the cup came into my hands with about $3.50 in it.  Unfortunately, Memphis pitcher Dean Kiekhefer was at the plate. Of course, it would be a pitcher. Well, Kiekhefer hit a slow roller down the third base line (How hard do pitchers usually run on these plays?) – and he hustled down the line to beat it out for an infield hit (and a pocketful of quarters for me). I say again, let the pitchers hit.

I should add that the Iowa Cubs are not long on promotions between innings.  They do fire a lot of t-shirts into the crowd, and there was a costumed hamburger race (featuring youngsters from the crowd who were really competing). Most of the remaining between-inning activities consisted of fans (youngsters) answering questions about agricultural products and production. (This is Iowa after all.) It was actually refreshing not to be bombarded with one between-inning contest after another.

So, there is our trip.  For the reports on Day One, click here. Day Two, here; Day Three, here; Day Four, here;  Day Five, here; Day Six, here; Day Seven, here; Day Eight, here; Day Nine, here.

Alas, when I got up this morning, there was no ball game to get to (but a blog post to write).  Life is so routine.  I think I’ll take in a Saint Paul Saints Game tomorrow.

By the way, Ballpark Tours still has a September Chicago/Milwaukee trip and a December Cuba adventure planned.  Click here to get to their site.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research; The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance. 

Ballpark Tours 2016 – Day Nine – The Negro Leagues Museum and A Bad Beat Down

Day Nine – also known as August 19th to those not “on the bus” – sees us still in Kansas City, hoping to make up for leaving last night’s game (which, with the rain delay, went to 2:16 a.m. today) early.  Click here for Day 8 details.

This proved to be a very good day, starting with a 10:00 a.m. cab ride to 18th and Vine – and visits to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the American Jazz Museum ($10 admission for each museum, $15 if you visit them both. Less if you, like me, are over 65.)

9 NL museumIf you are a baseball fan, you can’t afford to miss the Negro Leagues Museum, which gives you a look at some of the richest – and some of the most poignant – times of our baseball history. Located in the 18th and Vine district, the museum takes you through the history of the Negro Leagues – and individuals of color –  across baseball history.  The story is told with a wide range of films, audio visual exhibits, photographs and memorabilia of all kinds. It is indeed a history lesson. You’ll learn a lot not just about baseball, but also about American history, race relations and attitudes.

Satchel Paige pitches to Martin Dihigo, with Josh Gibson catching - on the Field of Legens.

Satchel Paige pitches to Martin Dihigo, with Josh Gibson catching – on the Field of Legens.

While the museum includes exhibits honoring Negro League greats, its centerpiece is the Field of Legends – a museum-sized baseball field manned by nearly life-sized bronze statues of key figures from the Negro Leagues’ history.

There is so much here – honoring players and teams – that it is impossible to do it justice in the space of this blog.  My recommendation, take the time to take this trip through a very important part of both the past and future of our national game.






9 jazzFrom the Negro Leagues Museum, we made our way to the American Jazz museum (housed in the same building) – where we were able to get and eyeful and earful of the greats from this unique American music genre. The museum included plenty of listening stations to enjoy the greats (and even separate the music into the parts that make up the whole) and visual impressions of the history of jazz (from photographs and films of jazz greats to album cover art to jazz club neon). If you are a fan of jazz, this visit is a must.

9foodAfter our museum visit, we took the advice of the locals and headed to Danny’s Big Easy – practically across the street from the museums – for Cajun food.  There were four of us in our group and the reaction was unanimous – WOW!  Great, and we really mean great, Cajun food; as well as a server whose “life is a party and you are all invited” attitude made the experience even more enjoyable. Among the items we had: Crawfish Etouffee; Jambalaya; Catfish Po’ Boy; mac ‘n cheese; wings; specially seasoned house fries; and hush puppies.  We washed it down with wine, but when one of our group asked about a beverage called “Living Easy,” they brought us a free one with four straws.  (Also of interest was the fact that they had Kool-Aid on the menu for three dollars.)

We were at Danny’s Big Easy for lunch, but in the evening, the bar/restaurant features a variety of entertainment – Blues, Zydeco, Jazz, R&B, Funk, Reggae, Salsa and more.  We were wishing we didn’t have a ball game tonight; we could have spent the evening at Danny’s.  Five stars, without a doubt.

Later, I learned that other tour participants took in such attractions as the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (just about a block from the hotel) and the National World War I Museum (2 1/2  miles away, but within range of the hotel’s shuttle service). In addition, small groups took advantage of both the Westport and Country Club Plaza area shopping and dining opportunities.

A great night for baseball. The game  not so much.  Unless you were a Royals' fan.

A great night for baseball. The game not so much. Unless you were a Royals’ fan.

And then, there was the game.  I’ve already touched upon Kauffman Stadium (see Day Eight, here). Let me just say that tonight was a great night for baseball – clear skies, temperatures in the 70’s and seats in right field near the fountains.

After two innings, it looked like a pretty good game, with the Royals’ Ian Kennedy and the Twins’ Hector Santiago locked in a 0-0 duel.  In the bottom of the third, however, the Royals turned three doubles (SS Alcides Escobar, 3B Cheslor Cuthberth and LF Lorenzo Cain) and a single (2B Christian Cuthbert) into three runs – and the rout was on. The Royals held the Twins scoreless (Kennedy went eight innings and gave up just four hits and no walks, while fanning six), while tacking on one run in the fourth, four in the fifth, one in the sixgth and one in the seventh.  The final: Twins – no runs on four hits and no errors; Royals – 10 runs on 17 hits and no errors.  Of the Royals’ 17 safeties, nine were for extra bases: six doubles and three home runs (two for RF Alex Gordon, one for C Salvador Perez).  Our Minnesota-centric group suffered greatly,  We did, however, win a challenge on a close play in the bottom of the sixth – they can’t take that away from us.

Yesterday, I promised a bit more about Kauffman Stadium concessions.  I did observe that the funnel cakes were very popular with locals, as was the Topsy Popcorn (which I tasted and would agree had just the right “buttery” flavor). Also high on the list if you are visiting Kauffman should be the the Jamaican jerk sausage sandwich, served on a toasted baguette with mango habañero salsa, green apple slaw and coconut chutney – at the reasonable price of $13.  I’d follow that with the a Berrie Kabob dessert.

So, there’a a look at Day Nine.  It’s off to Des Moines at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow for an Iowa Cubs game – the last game on our ten-day tour.

For more on Day One, click here; Day Two, here; Day Three, here; Day Four, here; Day Five, here; Day Six, here; Day 7, here, Day Eight, here.


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT.

Member Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance. 

Ballpark Tours 2016 – Day Eight – Called Up to the Show

If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it still make a noise?

Why I ask, you ask!  Because Day Eight of Ball Park Tours Bleacher Bums XXXIV was defined as much (or more) by what we didn’t see, than by what we saw.

Let’s start by talking a little baseball – Twins baseball, because we are now in Kansas City, taking in a pair of Royals/Twins tilts. Yes. after just six minor league games, we’ve been called up to “The Show.”

Kauffman Stadium before the monsoon.

Kauffman Stadium before the monsoon.

We arrived, by bus, at Kauffman Stadium under ominous skies and even more ominous weather reports.  Predictions were that a major storm front would roll in about 9:00 p.m. (7:15 game time) with significant rainfall, high winds and plenty of lightening.  We were well-armed for the confrontation, with umbrellas, Ballpark Tours 30th Anniversary windbreakers and ponchos (many bought at the Chattanooga Lookouts game).

The game started on time, with the Twins’ Jose Berrios (2-3, 9.32) facing off against the Royals’ Edison Volquez (9-10, 4.95).   We didn’t expect a pitchers’ duel – and we didn’t get one.

The Royals struck first, in an ugly second inning. Berrios started the frame by fanning Royals’ DH Kendrys Morales.  From that point on, things fell apart. C Salvador Perez singled; LF Alex Gordon walked; SS Alicides Escobar singled in a run; 2B Raul Mondesi walked, loading the bases.  Then Berrios walked CF Jarrod Dyson AND 3b Cheslor Cutberth – forcing in two runs (no more exciting play in baseball than the bases-loaded walk) – before getting RF Lorenzo Cain to end the inning on a 6-4-3 double play. Three runs on two hits and four walks – not a good sign.

The Twins came back on a long home run by 2B Brian Dozier (his 28th) leading off the third.  But, the Royals countered in the fourth, producing a run on a walk (of course) and two singles.

Then in the top of the fifth, with storms threatening (and eventually arriving), the Twins rallied with: a double by CF Eddie Rosario; a run scoring double by C Juan Centeno; a strikeout by LF Danny Santana; a single by Dozier (who then stole second); and a two-run single by SS Jorge Polanco – tying the game at 4-4.  It was at precisely that time, with Joe Mauer coming up, that the skies began to open up, the tarps came out and game went into a rain delay.

That’s what we saw.  Here’s what we didn’t see.

Rainfall fallout in the lobby.

Rainfall fallout in the lobby.

First, having studied, the weather reports, we didn’t wait too long before heading back to the hotel on the bus.  (Our early departure was the rule, rather than the exception, among fans at the game.) From there, some of our  folks headed out on the town, while others watched on smart phones to see if the game would resume – the stakes were high, there had been some friendly wagering on whether we would see any more rainouts (after the Day One washout) on this trip.  The speculation was accompanied by adult beverages in the lobby, where discussions touched on such topics as that night’s game and suspended versus cancelled game rules, Pete Reiser, Kaufmann Stadium concession prices, Mike Trout and the Twins’ pitching staff.

Shortly before midnight, when the lobby was pretty much empty (bar closed at 11:30) – and after a three-hour-plus rain delay – play resumed.  Twins’ 1B Mauer walked to put runners on first and second (remember the Polanco double that tied the game); 3B Plouffe popped up; and RF Max Kepler was called out on strikes to end the fifth inning.  The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the 11th inning, when Kansas City pushed across a run to win it by a 5-4 score – AT APPROXXIMATELY 2:15 a.m.  Yes, we missed an exciting game.  Yes, some of us might (and that’s a big MIGHT) have stayed.  But it takes a village to do a baseball tour – and there are times that community interests must prevail.  Plus, we still have baseball on the slate for Saturday and Sunday.

Now, a brief look at the day (I have to wrap this post up early, a group of us are headed to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum this morning).

Breakfast and a show.

Breakfast and a show.

On Day Eight, we had an early morning departure from the Marion (IL) Holiday Inn Express (8:30 a.m.), so the free buffet breakfast was pretty well attended.  Two highlights from breakfast (which included the usual items like scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, cinnamon rolls, toast, biscuits and gravy, etc.): 1) They had a pancake machine.  (You know, the ones that shoot out pancakes like a copier – or, as I like to say “Breakfast and a show.” 2) One of our tour group walked to a nearby Krispy Kreme and brought back warm donuts. Glazed donuts and coffee, great start to the day.

The trip to Kansas City was about six hours – including a lunch stop – and much of it was spent retelling tales from earlier in the trip (and discussing the scoring possibilities related to the extra inning “gift” runners in the Frontier League).  The lunch break was near a truck plaza, so we had our choices of fast food offerings.  I selected Arby’s and it proved a good decision.  Remember that meatball sandwich I couldn’t get in Marion?  The limited time special at Arby’s was – wait for it – a meatball sandwich.   The baseball gods apparently were smiling down on our maroon coach.

Oh, a little coach story here.  We are traveling on a Sugar Loaf (name of company) coach and some of our participants overhead local residents at one of our stops talking about the bus, speculating that “Sugar Loaf” was a touring country band.  I guess we are traveling in luxury – and we did stop in Nashville. Next gig, Kauffman Stadium.


8singAn additional bit of information on Day Seven – for the full day, click here.  I noted yesterday that the Frontier League has adopted rules that have each team starting any inning after the tenth inning with a runner on second – and wondered about the scoring. After a deeper look, I have found that the “gift” runner is designated on the scorecard as (ITB) – indicating a runner put on via international rules.  I also found that, while the pitcher who allows such a gift runner to score can still take the loss, the ITB runner’s tally is not considered an earned run.

Also, here is a photo of the Ballpark Tours group leading the seventh-inning rendition of Take Me Out to the Ball Game.  Given that the entire Southern Illinois Minors field is artificial turf (even the “dirt” portions), it might have been more appropriate if we had lip-synched the tune.  

We checked into the Holiday Inn Country Club Plaza in Kansas City at about 4:00 p.m., with the bus slated to head to the ball park at 6:00 for a 7:15 game.  You’ve already read about the game – which is also how we found out about most of it.  So, let’s look at the ballpark.

8 foundtainArriving at Kaufmann Stadium, you first notice the higher level of security (as opposed to all our minor league stops) … bag searches and metal detectors were the order of the day.  Once inside the stadium, which opened in 1973 and underwent significant renovation in the late 2000’s, you notice the steep upper deck, massive “Crown Vision” scoreboard/video board in center field and the right field fountain area.

Our group also noticed the concession prices – reporting paying $11 for a beer and $7 for a bottle of water.  Sticker shock quickly set in (of course, we had just come off the $1 beer, hot dogs and peanuts in Marion). I’ll try to have more on concessions at Kaufman Stadium in my Day Nine post. I didn’t have a lot of time for sampling after visiting the Royals Hall of Fame, picking up my Bloody Mary, acquiring ($1) and filling out the lineup on my scorecard, finding my seat and then joining the hoards fleeing the storm.

NOTE: Spoiler Alert – Given our Saturday/Sunday schedule, I may have to combine Days Nine and Ten into one final report. 

A talk on uniforms of the past was part of the Royals HOF experience.

A talk on uniforms of the past was part of the Royals HOF experience.

If you are visiting Kauffman, I would suggest that, before you take your seat, you visit the Royals Hall of Fame Museum (open until the top of the ninth inning). It’s located on the plaza  in the right field corner. You’ll find lots of great memorabilia, as well as plaques for the Royals (team) Hall of Fame members.  The biggest attraction seems to be the opportunity to have your picture taken with the 2015 World Series trophy – there was a long line of still giddy Royals’ fan waiting for that photo op. I was impressed with the big number five constructed out of 3,154 baseballs – one for every George Brett regular season hit.

Our seats were in the lower deck, down the right field line, good sight lines, but (as expected) further from the action than in the minor league parks we had visited. But then again, we had been called up to “The Show.”  There looked to be about 30,000 fans in the house (reported attendance was 28,463) and they were a loud and enthusiastic lot.  (Although it was hard to tell, since we were seated very near a set of speakers that blasted out the “Get Loud” music at almost painful decibel levels).

8 bloodyThe Bloody Mary – $10 at the Boulevard Pub – was adequate: good pour; spicy, but not over bearing (it could have used a touch more tabasco and a bit of celery salt); it included a lime wedge, but I do like more substance in a Bloody Mary (maybe a celery stick, olives or a pickle spear.) Still at $10, it was a better bargain than the $11 beer.  (One of our group reported paying $27 for two beers and a bag of peanuts.)






8 kabobOne popular concession item with our group was the “Berrie Kabob” – available for $7 at a nearby concession stand or from strolling vendors. They consisted of chocolate dipped strawberries, bananas and brownies (in various combinations) on a stick – and were delicious.  If you are looking for dessert, this one is a hit.



That’s it for Day Eight. For the reports on Day One, click here; Day Two, here; Day Three, here. Day Four, here; Day Five, here; Day Six, here; Day Seven , here.

The Day in MLB

A big day for home runs in MLB yesterday – a total of 49 round trippers in 15 games (only one in our game, but at least we were there for it). A few observations;

  • In Baltimore, the Orioles bashed four round trippers before they made their first out – in a losing cause. (They lost 15-8 to the Astros.)
  • The Cardinals tied an MLB record with their ninth consecutive multi-homer game, hitting a pair of long balls as they topped the Phillies 4-3 in 11 innings.
  • In Baltimore, both leadoff hitters started their team’s offense with first-inning home runs (George Springer, Astros/Adam Jones, Orioles). Not to be outdone, the leadoff hitters for the Cubs and Rockies (Dexter Fowler, Cubs/David Dahl, Rockies) matched the feat.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Members:  Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.



Ballpark Tours 2016 – Day Seven – A Scorebook Challenge … and Barbeque

Rent One Park, Marian Illinois, home of the Southern Illinois Miners.

Rent One Park, Marian Illinois, home of the Southern Illinois Miners.

I was all set to focus my Ballpark Tours 2016 Bleacher Bums XXXIV Day Seven post on the key plays and players in the (independent) Frontier League April 18 extra-inning contest between the Gateway Grizzlies and home team Southern Illinois Miners (at Rent One Park in Marion, IL) – with a short aside on how our Ballpark Tours group led the crowd in Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the seventh inning stretch.

Then came the eleventh inning – and once again, I couldn’t bury the lead.  Very simply, the Miners topped the Grizzlies 3-2 in a manner that: 1) I’ve never seen before; and 2) defied both logic and my scorecard capabilities.

Here’s how it unfolded.  After eleven innings, the score was tied 2-2. The Grizzlies had two runs and eight hits; the Miners two tallies and nine hits. It was the announced that – in accordance with Frontier League rules (enforced after 10 innings) – each team would start their eleventh inning at bat with a runner on second (and no outs, of course). Note:  As events unfolded, we determined that the runner would be the player who made the last out the previous inning.

Trying to score the 11th inning. What is the designation for "gift" runner?

Trying to score the 11th inning. What is the designation for “gift” runner?

So, here’s how it ended.  In the top of the eleventh, the Grizzlies started with the player who made the last out in the tenth (1B Seth Heck) on second. Miners’ pitcher Adam Lopez (the fifth hurler for Southern Illinois) retired 3B Zach Lavy on a ground out (pitcher to first), with Heck moving to third.  Lopez then got DH Craig Massoni on a hard grounder down the third bases line, with Miners’ 3B Steve Marino making nice play, holding the runner at third. Lopez then fanned C Tyler Tewell to get of the rules-generated jam.  The questions seemed to be, how do you note the sidden presence of the runner on second on the scorecard – and, if he had scored, would the pitcher be charged with and earned run? Lopez dodged that bullet – and so did those of us keeping score.

In the bottom half of the inning, the Miners started with 2B Shane Kennedy on second base, which seemed a pretty fortuitous situation, since Kennedy already had two stolen bases in the game. Grizzlies’ pitcher Will LaMarche got Miners’ DH Toby DeMello on a grounder to first base (after a failed sacrifice attempt), but Kennedy moved over to third. Miners’ RF Nolan Early was intentionally walked to set up the double play.  (More than one person in our group – myself included – wondered why they didn’t walk the bases full to set up a force at home and create some margin for error.) The next hitter – 1B Alex De Leon grounded to short. The Grizzlies got the force out at second (6-4), but failed to get the runner at first.  The winning run – scored by the “gift” runner – came across.  Earned or unearned?  And, LaMarche, we assume, took the loss when a runner he had nothing to do with crossed the plate.

Overall, it was a pretty well-played game, with the Miners taking the lead with two runs in the fourth (on four hits and a sacrifice fly – leaving two on) and the Grizzlies coming back with two in the fifth (on four hits and two walks – leaving three on.) The rest of the scorecard was pretty clean – and the scoreboard showed all zeroes. If I had to chose an offensive star, it would be the Miners’ Shane Kennedy with three hits, two stolen bases and two runs scored (including the one for which he was”gifted” second base.) On the mound, Grizzlies’ starter Vimcent Molesky impressed, going 7 2/3 innings and giving up just two runs on eight hits, two walks (four strikeouts).  He wasn’t overpowering, but he was effective when he needed to be.

Now, let’s again take a semi-chronogical look at the events that led up to the game.

Our home away from home.

Our home away from home.

We pulled out of Chattanooga at 9:30 a.m. sharp, Thursday, a relatively quiet crew (a number of participants had found a small, nearby blues bar and literally soaked up some local culture and atmosphere after the Lookouts/Biscuits game.  The conversation, however, became more lively about two hours into our 5-6 hour drive to Marion, IL.  Two factors were probably involved – the normal process of waking up and the fact that a Mimosa and Screwdriver bar sprung into operation at the back of the bus.


A goold time at the 17th Street Grill in Marion Il.

A goold time at the 17th Street Barbeque in Marion, Il.

We arrived in Marion a bit early for check-in (about 2:00 p.m.), but our tour leader (as usual) had a plan.  We disembarked at Marion’s 17TH Street Barbecue – about two blocks from the hotel.  A great stop for ribs, brisket, sausage, chicken, pulled pork – plus a wide range of sides including collard greens, okra, coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, baked potatoes (white and sweet), hush puppies, garlic bread and more.  And, of course, the full bar didn’t hurt.  The staff was well prepared for us – and I heard nothing but rave reviews for the quality of the food, size of the portions, price and service.  A fun stop and, again, way better than waiting in a hotel lobby.





7bpouitThen it was on to the Holiday Inn Express, literally the width of one street from the parking lot of Rent One Park – home of the Frontier League Southern Illinois Miners.

I’ve already commented on the game.  Here’s a bit about the ball park.

  • The park, which seats 3,400 and was built in 2007, has a very modern (slate grey brick) look.
  • We had great seats, along the third base line.
  • The score/video board was a little difficult to read – we are a veteran crew.
  • It was Throwback Thursday – $1 beers, soft drinks and hot dogs. Our group took full advantage.
  • The concessions, overall, were good with several “build-your-own” offerings – burgers, chicken sandwiches and nachos, as well as “signature: sandwiches (pork chop, cajun burger,  steak, etc.)
  • The park was out of a promised specialty item – a meatball sandwich which signaged indicated was available Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. (It was Thursday). The worker at the concession stand indicated they had been out of meatballs all week,.
  • The parking was close, ample and only $3.
  • The prorgram/scorecard was free.
  • Our group was chosen to be “on the big board” and lead the crowd in the seventh inning rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” (Photos to come.)
  • A good time was had by all.

So that is Day Seven – 8:30 a.m. departure for Kansas City (Twins/Royals) tomorrow.  For more on the ten-day, ten-game, seven-city trip: Day One, click here; Day Two, click here; Day Three, click here; Day Four, click here. Day Five, click here; Day Six, click here.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member:  Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance. 

Ballpark Tours 2016 – Day Six – Strikeouts and Moon Pies

We had a “chance-to-sleep-in” 10:30 a.m. departure from Nashville, which got us into Chattanooga a bit early for check-in.  Fortunately, our illustrious tour operator is always prepared – and we were booked into the Big River Grille and Brewing Works (just a few blocks from the hotel) for pre-check-in lunch and beverages.

A good time was had by all - but, then again , it was a brew pub (and 98 degress outgside).

A good time was had by all – but, then again , it was a brew pub (and 98 degress outside).

It was a welcome and satisfying stop.  Plenty of handcrafted brews, oven-fired pizzas and sandwiches and entrees made from scratch – plus a nice selection of wines and cocktails.  The oldest brew pub  in Chattanooga, Big River Grille and Brewing Works offered an extensive line of hand-crafted beers – from Southern Flyer Light Lager to Iron Horse Stout – as well as a nice selection of wines, and cocktails ranging from classic martinis to pomegranate peach punch.




They take beer flighnts seriously at Big River.

They take beer flights seriously at Big River.


In addition, the lunch menu covered everything from Lobster and Shrimp Enchiladas to a BBQ Brisket Stuffed Burger to a wide selection of oven-fired pizzas (on beer-infused, rustic-ale pizza dough.)  Needless to say, a good time was had by all – and, from comments I heard, everyone loved the food.







T6 roomhen it was on to check-in at the Read House Historic Inn – originally opened in 1872 and rebuilt in 1926.  It boasted beautiful (and historic) rooms, complemented by the most up-to-date amenities.  Sitting in the elegant, high-ceilinged, chandeliered lobby, you half expected Winston Churchill of Al Capone – both previous guests – to come strolling in.

After check-in and a little down time, it was off to AT&T Field (not to be confused with AT&T Park in San Francisco)  for the Montgomery Biscuits versus the Chattanooga Lookouts contest. Opened in 2000 (as BellSouth Park), AT&T Field’s placement at the top of “Hawk Hill” offers some nice views of surrounding hills.  It was about an eight-block walk from the hotel to the part – on a humid, 90+ degree evening – so we were pleased to see the outdoor escalator which carries fans the last, steep 100-feet or so.


AT&T Field … the rain was on the way.

This really is a “blue collar ball park.” The only bells and whistles are on the Chattanoogo Choo-Choo, which (we were told) emerges from behind the right field wall for every Lookouts’ home run.  There were no long balls in our game, so the train remained unseen.  I’d suggest they run it either at the start or end of each game, so fans are guaranteed at least one view per contest.  Concession offerings were limited, but our group agreed the prices were right and the serving generous.

Now, to the game.

Starting for the Lookouts was 22-year-old southpaw Stephen Gonsalves – considered (by the number-four prospect in the Twins’ system (behind only Jose Berrios, Tyler Jay and Nick Gordon). Gonsalves didn’t disappoint, but Lookouts’ manager Doug Mientkiewicz did.

The 6’ 5”, 213-pound Gonsalves threw six strong innings, walking two and fanning nine – giving up no runs and NO HITS.  He was a pleasure to watch; mixing a solid fastball and effective slider. (I couldn’t get a line on his speed, a malfunctioning stadium  system consistently logged his fastball at 44-to-55 miles per hour. Gonsalves, however, is said to have a mid-90s heater.)  Mientkiewicz pulled the youngster (after 105 pitches) and brought in reliever Alan Busenitz to open the seventh.  Busenitz hit the first batter he faced (1B Jake Bauers) and walked the second (3B Patrick Leonard), before getting RF Justin Williams on a fly out.  The next batter, CF Cade Gotta, singled in Bauer to put an end to the shutout and the no-hitter. Busenitz gave up one more hit and two more runs – and the top of the seventh ended with The Lookouts up 5-3. Needless to say, there was a range of opinions about the appropriateness of pulling the starter with a no-hitter still in progress.


One of our own took part in the usual minor league hoopla – winning at “What’s in the box?”

The Lookouts, by the way, got out of the gate fast – and never looked back. In the bottom of the first, after leadoff  hitter CF Zack Granite was retired on a great play on a grounder up the middle (by Montgomery 2B Juniel Querecuto), DH Ryan Walker doubled, 3B Niko Goodrum doubled Walker home, LF Travis Harrison singled home Goodrum, RF Edgar Corcino walked, and C Stuart Turner grounded into a double play.  First inning: two runs on three hits and a walk.

Chattanooga tacked on two more runs on four hits in the fourth; one run on two hits in the sixth; and one on two hits and a walk in the seventh. The final:  Chattanooga six runs on 11 hits and one error. Montgomery: three runs on two hits and no errors.

A few highlights:

  • Chattanooga pitchers were dominant – giving up just the two hits (and three runs) in the seventh and striking out 14 Montgomery hitters (versus four walks).
  • Lookouts’ lefty Mason Melotakis, who has had injury problems in the past (Tommy John surgery in 2014), came out to start the seventh, but threw only one pitch before being replaced by Zack Jones – as the game ended, we had not heard an update.
  • Zack Jones picked up his first save for the Lookouts, going two innings, giving up no hits, walking one and fanning four – and showing a glove-popping fastball.
  • The offensive star of the game was Lookouts’ 1B T.J. White, who went two-for-three, with a walk, a run scored and two RBI.
  • Gonsalves ran his record with Chattanooga to 6-1, with a 1.81 ERA in 10 starts. The lefty has fanned 72 hitters in 59.2 innings at AA.
  • There was a 44-minute rain delay in the top of the eighth – and when play resumed probably less than 100 of the announced attendance of 1,765 were still in the park.  The gift shop did a brisk business in $5 Lookouts ponchos.
  • After the hot walk to the ball park, we found the free shuttle on the late night trek back to the hotel.
  • There were no Bloody Mary’s

In the Majors

Yesterday (August 18), the Blue Jays’ A.J. Happ became the major league’s first 2016 17-game winner, as the Jays topped the Yankees 7-4 in New York. Happ went 7 1/3 innings, giving up seven hits, four runs, one walk and fanning nine.  His record now stands at 17-3, 3.05.  The 33-year-old Happ, in his tenth MLB season, came into 2016 with a 62-61 record and a career-high 12 wins in 2009

The Fried Moon Pie

6PieFor those not familiar with it, a Moon Pie is a confection – popular in the southern states – that is basically a portable “s’more.” The traditional Moon Pie consists of two round graham crackers, with marshmallow filling in-between, dipped in chocolate.  The dessert has been around since 1917 and, for reasons unknown, there is a southern tradition of washing them down with RC Cola.  In fact, at least two musical groups have had minor hits with songs based on the RC Cola/Moon Pie combination.  Moon Pies, by the way were born and are still produced by The Chattanooga Bakery.  They now come in Chocolate, Caramel, Banana, Vanilla and Strawberry.

Why are Moon Pies in this baseball blog? It’s because the Chattanooga Lookouts honor the community’s Moon Pie heritage with a Deep Fried (chocolate) Moon Pie – the popular dessert dipped in corn dog batter, deep fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar.  This specialty concession item is a recommended bargain at just $3.00. Warm, sweet and gooey – I’d rate this offering a home run.  But be ready for the post-Moon Pie sugar rush.  

For more on Ballpark Tours 2016, click here for Day One; here for Day Two; here for Day Three; here for Day Four; here for day five.


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research; The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

Ballpark Tours 2016 – Day Five – I Saw Elvis at the Ball Park

Day Five of Ballpark Tours 2016 (and our time in Nashville) is now in the rear view mirror.  It’s on to Chattanooga for a Lookouts (Twins’ farm team) game.  But first, let’s reflect (another mirror analogy, even at this early hour) on Day Five of Bleacher Bums XXXIV. In the post on Day Two (click here to review), I introduced the journalistic rule – Don’t Bury the Lead – which falls only slightly behind Commit to Accuracy and Tell the Who, What, When, Where and Why.  So, let’s get right to the lead.

I saw Elvis at First Tennesse Park.

Large Elivis belts one out - and it was a big bvelt - at the Sound Game

Large Elivis belts one out – and it was a big bvelt – at the Sound Game

That’s right; it was Elvis Night at the Nashville Sounds Game. While it was generally agreed that most of the high-end “Elvi” must have been back in Memphis for Elvis Week, a pair of Elvis impersonators did entertain throughout the game, there were a smattering of Elvis “wannebe’s” in the crowd and “Booster,” the Sounds rooster mascot was appropriately attired.  And, as you would expect, the music was good.

Best line from The King? When the Sound Wave dance line came out, the larger of the two “Elvi” – dressed all in black (perhaps slated for a Johnny Cash tribute later) – commented something along the lines of “These girls area about six years older than Priscilla when I started dating her.”  Side note:  We did see a young man with a football in the crowd, so maybe the cheer leaders/dance line is starting to make some sense.

 Having dispensed with the lead, let’s look at Day Five of Ballpark Tours 2016 in a somewhat chronological order.

Music everywhere, as our tour group hit the honky tonks.

Music everywhere, as our tour group hit the honky tonks.

We had the day free in Nashville and, as usual, individuals and groups set out to explore and experience the host city. The most popular locations seemed to be the Honky Tonk Highway/Broadway Historic District and Printers Alley – both prime areas for music, food, beverage(s) and shopping (pretty much from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.) and both also an easy walk from the hotel.  Also high on the list were the Musicians Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

I opted for Honky Tonk Highway and Printers Alley, and found considerably more activity early in the day in the Honky Tonk Highway area.  There were literally dozens of opportunities to enjoy live music (no cover) and in the few spots I tried (yes, beginning before noon), the performers ranged from one guy with a guitar to a four-piece country rock band.  The music was a bit uneven, but overall pretty good – and there was no cover charge.

Grilled Bologna and Cheese. I took one for the team on this one.

Committed to doing the day in true Nashville fashion, I opted for a lunch of a grilled bologna and cheese sandwich (a Nashville specialty I am told), onion rings and beer, while listening to a two-player, harmonizing group at Honky Tonk Central (a bar restaurant “with three stories, three stages and three dance floors.”)  Now, where did I put my boots and hat?  BBRT recommendation – when it comes to grilled bologna and cheese, being a “specialty” doesn’t make something “special.”

Jenga - not really a contact sport.

Jenga – not really a contact sport.

Game time was 7:05 p.m. and by shortly after six p.m., most of the Ballpark Tours crew was “in the building.”  There was, of course, the mysterious “draw of the Elvi,” but many also heard The Band Box Bar, comfy lounge and “up at the lake” seating recreation area in right field calling.  Despite the availability of such energetic options as foosball, ping pong, bean bag games, shuffle board and mini-golf), the Ballpark Tour boys opted for cold beverages and a spirited game of Jenga – totally avoiding any likelihood of concussion syndrome.  I should add that the recreation area was pretty well packed and everyone seemed to be enjoying the opportunity for some pre-game competition of their own – of course, the adult beverage offerings of the well-appointed bar didn’t hurt (especially on another sweltering day.)

5 ballparkNow, to the game.  The Tacoma Raniers were in town – meaning we were seeing two first-place teams (Raniers 71-51, first in the Pacific Coast League Northern Division) and the Sounds 70-53, first in the Southern Division), playing for home field advantage in the upcoming playoffs.

The competition proved up to the stakes – with Nashville squeaking by Tacoma 2-1.  It was an enjoyable, pretty well played and competitive contest – although it didn’t start out that way.  After Nashville starting pitcher Jesse Hahn retired the Raniers in order in the top of the first (with two strikeouts), Nashville went to work in the bottom of the inning.  Raniers’ starter Forrest Snow walked leadoff  hitter/CF Arisdmedy Alcantara to open the inning, then gave up a single to RF Jaycob Brugman; struck out LF Renato Nunez; walked 1B Matt Olson; gave up a run-scoring single to C Matt McBride; struck out 2B Joey Wendle; hit DH Rangel Ravelo with a pitch forcing in a run; and, finally, got 3B Colin Walsh on a pop-up.   Eight batters to the plate, two hits, two walks, one hit batsmen and two runs.  It was looking like a long night.

The guitar-shaped scoreboard/video board and guitar-pick shaped signage honor "Music City."

The guitar-shaped scoreboard/video board and guitar-pick shaped signage honor “Music City.”

In the top of the second, the Raniers reinforced that assessment, scoring just once, but collecting two doubles and two walks.  A long night, indeed.

We were, however, wrong.  The pitchers settled down and not another crossed the plate all night. In fact, after the top of the second, we only saw three more base hits (and a total of 19 strikeouts) and only three runners got as far as second base.

Best of the "Elvi."

Best of the “Elvi.”

The final: Nashville – two runs on three hits and no errors; Tacoma – one run on four hits and no errors. Tight and meaningful game in a very nice ball park – a good way to end our stay in Nashville.  For those who track such things, we did have a 4-1 (second base to pitcher) play in the top of the fifth – as Sounds’ 1B Matt Olson and 2B Joey Wendle both went for a grounder off  bat of Tacoma 2B Mike Freeman, with pitcher Angel Castro covering first.






In the Majors

Segue time. Yesterday, I wrote about the solid season being had by Reno Ace’s left fielder Kyle Jensen, who drove in two runs to reach 105 on the season (in 116 games). Today, I’d like to note that, in Tuesday’s MLB action, Blue Jays’ 1B Edwin Encarnacion went two-for-five with a home runs (his 34th on the season) and three RBI – to become the first major leaguer to reach 100 RBI in 2016. The Jays, by the way, topped the Yankees, by a 12-6 score, in that game. Encarnacion’s line of the season is now .270-34-100. He leads MLB in RBI and is tied for first (with the Orioles’ Mark Trumbo) in home runs. The win, coupled with the Orioles’ loss in Boston, gave the Blue Jays a one-game lead in the AL East race.

Just a few other notes about our time in Nashville.

  • One of the best concession items proved to the “Hot Chicken” from the Hot or Not Chicken stand.  A generous portion of “puts-a-fire-in-your-mouth” chicken on a bed of waffle fries with ranch dressing ($10).
  • Rave reviews were given to the orange-vodka based “Field of Dreamcicle” and Whiskey and Coke Icees available at the right field Band Box Bar.
  • You can have cheesecake (Lavender Cheesecake, I am told) with your “cheesecake” during the burlesque show at Skulls Rainbow Room – very near our hotel. (Those who attended said the show is somewhat “rules-driven.”
  • 417 Union is a great place for breakfast downtown Nashville – and serves a Ballpark Tours-worthy Bloody Mary.  (I may head there right after I finish this post.  After that, it’s back on the bus for the run to Chattanooga.)

How Close to the Big Leagues – and other trivia

It’s totally unscientific, but looking at Monday’s Reno Aces/Nashville Sounds rosters – 17 of the 51 players listed (one of every three) already have spent some time in the big leagues (all or parts of 42 seasons and a total of 1,151 MLB games).  Note: I did not include Sean Doollittle, who is in Nashville on an MLB rehab assignment.  The level of major league experience ranges from three players with as few as three games to the eight MLB seasons and 444 games played (pitched) for former Pirate, National and Twin Matt Capps (MLB record 29-33, 3.52, 138 saves). Since the Twins declined a one-year option on Capps in October of 2012, Capps has not pitched in the major leagues.  He has been in the Indians’, Braves’ and Diamondback’s systems. This season, with the Reno Aces (Diamondbacks), the 32-tear-old reliever is 3-0, with a 5.18 ERA and three saves.

For those with an interest in these kinds of numbers, the oldest player on the Aces/Sounds rosters is 33-year-old Nashville pitcher Angel Castro – who got the win in our Tuesday night game.  Between 2006 and 2016, Castro played 366 games – minors and foreign.  He also appeared in five games for the Oakland A’s in 2015 (0-1, 2.25 ERA in four innings pitched). The youngest player on the rosters is 22-year-old corner infielder Renato Nunez of the Sounds (born April 4, 1994). The Venezuelan, signed as an international free agent in 2010 (at age 16) is in sixth season in the A’s system – and (as of August 15) was hitting .242, with 21 homers and 70 RBI for the Sounds.

For more on Ballpark Tours Bleacher Bums XXXIV: Day one, click here; Day Two, here; Day Three, here; Day Four, here.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT.

Member:  Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Relliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance. 

Ballpark Tours 2016 – Day Four – Craft Beers, Out Stealing, Mort Sahl, Nashville Sounds, Eddie Mathews and more.

It was a short (2-3 hour) bus ride from Memphis to Music City (aka Nashville).  We pulled out of Memphis at the very humane hour of 10:30 a.m., a well-rested and ready-to-go group.  Conversations on the bus focused on the previous day’s game, past Ballpark Tours Trips and – given that this was a fairly veteran (in terms of BPT tour participation) crew, just the past.  I won’t fill in the details, but mentioning just a few of the names and topics that came up can provide some indication of the direction (or lack thereof) that the on-board conversations took:  Soupy Sales; Liberace; Mort Sahl; Tony Kubek; Tony Oliva; The Lovin’ Spoonful (and the Lyrics to Nashville Cats); Country Charlie Pride; Frank Sinatra and Elvis (together); Topo Gigio and Ed Sulllivan; Yankees’ outfielder Bernie Williams, his two guitar albums and Grammy nomination; Mike Trout versus Brian Harper – you get the idea.

The line of the day: “Remember when Liberace was on “I’ve Got a Secret.”  (You need to be old enough to remember the TV show.)

Village Pub

Village Pub and Beer Garden, Nashville.

As noted earlier, we pulled out of Memphis about 10:30 a.m. and, since we would arrive in Nashville ahead of check-in time, our intrepid tour leader chose a stop at the Village Pub and Beer Garden (1308 McGovack Pike) rather than have us wait in the hotel lobby. Great move – great place. Known for its local and regional craft beers, stuffed pretzel sandwiches and locally produced meat and cheese platters, it was the perfect stop for our group.   I went for the  Sausage Sampler Platter (bratwurst and Italian sausages cooked in beer, served on a bed of sauerkraut with garlic paprika Monterey Jack cheese, pepperoncini’s, stone ground mustard, and Silke’s dark bread), the perfect accompaniment for a cold IPA.  Also popular with our group were the Blackened Chicken Stuffed Pretzel and the Southern Meat and Cheese Tray – not to mention the many beer offerings and the fact that it was Moscow Mule Monday. 

4 inpu b As the beverages flowed, the smiles on our group expanded (and the volume of the conversation was amplified) – at least until the food began to arrive. Overall, it was a tasty and refreshing stop on our way into Nashville.





What I like most about Ballpark Tours trips.

“Being able to have almost anyone keep my scorebook while I explore the ball park!”  (NM, Woodbury, MN)

“The people. Seeing everyone again is like ‘Getting the band back together.’ Lots of laugh and memories.”  (TF, Saint Paul, MN)

Finally, maybe too soon, it was on to the Hotel Indigo – an upscale, downtown Nashville hotel with well-appointed rooms, a nice bar/restaurant, fast and reliable internet and (this will set the tone) an armoire instead of a closet, slippers for each guest, a Keurig coffee maker and a full line of Aveda body and hair care products.  Enough said.  We’ll enjoy the stay.

I headed for the ball park about an hour before game time – just a 6-8 block walk.  I may take a different route next time, on this jaunt I passed mostly abandoned buildings (the area is being revitalized) and bail bonds businesses.

4 mascotFirst Tennessee Park –which  opened in 2015 – is home to the Nashville Sounds. The stadium, which holds 10,000, has very sleek design and, most notably, a unique guitar-shaped scoreboard/video board (a tribute to Nashville as Music City). It has a wide concourse that circles the entire field – offering great views from anywhere.  Out in right field, you will find another unique aspect of this ball park – The Band Box, with its full bar and host of free outdoor diversions, including shuffle board, foosball, bean bag games, ping pong and – for a five-dollar fee – miniature golf.  There is also ample seating (couches, lounge chairs, bar stools) and a very “I’m on vacation having a good time” vibe. BBRT recommendation:  If you get here, go there.

Nashville Sounds' Bloody Mary - a solid double, but not a home run.

Nashville Sounds’ Bloody Mary – a solid double, but not a home run.

It was at The Band Box that I grabbed my traditional Bloody Mary ($8.50).  It was a decent pour, nicely spiced (pepper, tabasco and just the proper amount of celery salt) and garnished with a lime.  In the Pacific Coast League, Nashville and Memphis are traditional rivals.  Nashville is ahead in the standings this year – and they also win the Tennessee BBRT Bloody Mary match-up. (Neither, however, is threatening the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers’ lead.)






4gilliamFirst Tennessee Park is located on Junior Gilliam Way. Gilliam – born in Nashville – was an infielder (2B/3B) with the Dodgers from 1953-66; 1953 NL Rookie of the year; a two-time All Star; and key member of seven NL pennant winners (four-time World Series Champions).  Before joining the Dodgers, he was a three-time Negro League All Star (Baltimore Elite Giants) and the 1952 International League Most Valuable Player (with Montreal).  Considered one of MLB’s true gentleman – and a gamer who gave his all for the team – Gilliam is not only honored by with Nashville’s Junior Gilliam Way, he also has a Los Angeles park named in his honor.

4bvallparkWe had good seats once again, down the third base line – and we saw a competitive contest, taken by the Reno Aces (over the Nashville Sounds) 3-2.  Shelby Miller – a 15-game winner for the Cardinals in 2013, but sent down after starting 2-9, 7.14 for the Diamondbacks this season – went 7 1/3 innings, giving up just two runs on ten hits.  He helped himself out with some key strikeouts (a total of nine K’s versus no walks). Miller, reaching the mid-90s, threw 72 of 100 pitches for strikes.  In addition, he got a hand (or arm) from Reno catcher Ronnie Freeman who shut down the Nashville running game, nailing all three Nashville attempted stealers (second, third and fourth innings). The Sounds were, apparently, testing the 25-year-old Freeman, in his first game at AAA since being promoted from AA Mobile.  He passed. There was one other attempted steal in the game.  This one, by Reno, was thwarted by Nashville catcher Matt McBride.   Not a good day on the base paths for either side.

4raceThere were mixed feelings about the Nashville Sound Wave (cheerleaders/dance line). Some of our group questioned whether baseball needs cheerleaders.  I’ll stay out of that one.  Everyone seemed to like the racing country stars – Johnny Cash, Reba and George Jones.

Reno scored one in the fifth on a long home run by DH Peter O’Brien (his 22nd of the season) and two in the sixth on a bases-loaded single by LF Kyle Jensen.  No surprise there, On the season, Jensen is hitting .287, with 26 home runs and 105 RBI in 116 games.  The offensive star for Nashville was leadoff hitter/CF Arismendy Alcantara (say that three times fast). Alcantara (who has played 86 games at the major league level over the past three seasons)  went two-for-four with a double, triple, RBI and run scored.  Overall, a close, well-played game and a nice, clean scorecard.  (Although, I might note that, while Reno starter Shelby Miller went 7 1/3 innings, the Aces used four pitchers to get the last five outs.)

I’ll have more on Nashville and Bleacher Bums XXXIV tomorrow.  We are staying in town and the Tacoma Raniers are coming to town – but I am now off to explore Nashville’s Honky Tonk Highway.  To read about Ballpark Tours 2016 Day 1, click here; Day Two, click here; Day 3, click here.  I will leave you with a final baseball commentary.


4eddieOn this date (August 16) in 1954, the first issue of Sports Illustrated hit the newsstands.  One the cover was BBRT’s  favorite player of all time, Braves’ third baseman Eddie Mathews. The Braves’ third sacker – known as a basher (512 career home runs) and a brawler (he had some memorable conflicts with players like Don Drysdale and Frank Robinson) – was pictured hitting a home run.  He would appear on the cover again in June of 1958 and August of 1994 (40th Anniversary Issue).

A few quotes about Mathews tell his story:

Ty Cobb: “I’ve only known three or four perfect swings in my life, and this lad has one of them.”

Bud Selig:  “When you saw him play, you knew you were seeing greatness.”


Braves shortstop Johnny Logan:  “I didn’t mind starting fights. Mathews was always there to finish them for me.”

Braves pitcher Tony Clonigner: “If you ever wanted to pitch inside, you didn’t have to worry about the batter making it to the mound with Eddie Mathews at third.”

Warren Spahn on Mathews’ fisticuffs with Frank Robinson: “He (Eddie) hit him with three punches that not even Muhammad Ali could have stopped.”


Eddie Mathews on competitiveness: “I’d take on the other third baseman. I wanted to beat him in every department: fielding, hitting, running the bases.  I played that game all my life, and it kept me going.”

Eddie Mathews at his Hall of Fame induction:  “I’m just a beat up old third baseman.  I’m just a small part of a game that is a tremendous part of America today.”


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.