Monday, June 30, 2014

Mookie Betts and Uncle Terry Shumpert

Mookie Betts and Uncle Terry Shumpert

Infielder/outfielder Terry Shumpert appeared in 894 major-league games over 14 seasons. He played in the field in 698 of them (mostly second base, third base, and left field), and the other 196 as a pinch hitter or pinch runner. As a batter, he hit for a career .252 average, with a .315 on-base percentage. He hit 49 homers and drove in 223 runs. He scored 295 times. Shumpert began his career with Kansas City and played for them from 1990 through 1994, coming to the Boston Red Sox for 1995. He hit .234 for the Red Sox in 51 plate appearances; he played in 35 games in Pawtucket (.271) and entered free agency after the season. He did not play in Boston's 1995 postseason.

Come the 2004 season, Shumpert was signed by the Red Sox on February 3, but tore his hamstring and was released on the last day the team was in Fort Myers at the end of spring training, on March 31. He played for the Nashville Sounds in 2004, in the Pirates organization. It was his last year in pro ball.

Mookie Betts was born in the Nashville suburb of Brentwood in 1992. His mother Diana had played high school softball, and Mookie was given the name Markus Lynn Betts, specifically to give him the initials M.L.B.  

In 2004, the year Mookie turned 12, Uncle Terry was able to bring him into the Nashville Sounds clubhouse and let him have a taste of the game from the inside. He's kept working with Mookie as he grew as an athlete. Shumpert told Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe, “For my family, I was the pioneer, I was the first one to journey towards those steps. So I was able to teach him and talk to him about some of the pitfalls that I believe were obstructions to my career.” (June 6, 2014).

Betts was a fifth-round selection by the Red Sox in the 2011 draft. He rose quickly in the system and debuted on June 29, 2014 in a game at Yankee Stadium. His first time  up, he grounded into a double play, but singled his next time up, and later drew a walk and scored a run. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Baseball at midnight - without lights! The Midnight Sun Game, not too far south of the Arctic Circle

One of the advantages of a Summer Solstice visit to Fairbanks, Alaska is to see the Alaska Goldpanners play the Midnight Sun Game - a tradition that started in 1906. Last night, I got to see the 109th annual Midnight Sun Game, and the Goldpanners beat the Lake Erie Monarchs, 13-6.

The day before I had flown with four other passengers to Coldfoot, Alaska, about 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle and then we drove back to Fairbanks. We got back to town in time to see the sun set (only because the mountains provided a place to hide behind for a while. It never really gets dark; you can definitely sit outside and read a book 24 hours a day.

Last night, for the game, it was cloudy and there was a little spitting of rain that caused a delay of a few minutes before the Goldpanners themselves went out on the field to remove the tarps and get ready to start the game.

There were a few thousand people in attendance. The game is played with wooden bats and truly represents the highest level of amateur baseball in America. For those who have seen play in the Cape Cod League, it's a very similar experience - but there aren't any Cape Cod League games played at midnight without lights.

Two bits of information that provide a good idea of what a high level of play is represented:

More than 200 former Alaska Goldpanners have gone on to play in the major leagues.  Among them are (in no particular order): Tom Seaver, Dave Winfield, Barry Bonds, Rick Monday, Dave Roberts, Dave Kingman, and Adam Kennedy.

The very first player ever selected in the draft, when Major League Baseball instituted the draft in 1965 was Rick Monday, the #1 pick in the nation. The Kansas City Royals drafted Monday.

To date, 1,164 Goldpanners have been drafted by major-league teams.

Last night's game at Growden Park in Fairbanks began about 10:37 PM and ended at about 1:14 AM.

I was pleased to spend dinner beforehand with Evan Petty, a Newburyport, Massachusetts recent graduate of Syracuse interning with the team this year as a sports journalist. Then it was a pleasure to climb two flights of wooden stairs and join Evan in the press box for an inning, and then spend a couple of innings talking about SABR and baseball in general with GM Todd Dennis, in between him announcing players. The GM is also the PA announcer.

Partway into the game I had asked Evan who was selecting the music because I thought it was first-rate. That turned out to be Todd, too.

A base on balls in the later innings prompted Patsy Cline's, "Walking After Midnight."  You don't often get to hear Bo Diddley sing, "I'm A Man."  The seventh-inning stretch song was "Happy Boy" by the Beat Farmers.

Todd's father Don Dennis talked before the game. He's been running the game since 1967. He talked about the history, letting us know this was personally his last year. The game, of course, will continue.

The game itself paused in the half-inning closest to midnight for a rendition (by Hurricane Dave) of the Alaska state song, and a second ceremonial first pitch.  This was thrown by a dedicated traveler whose thing was to make first pitches in as many ballparks as he could - he's over 200.  The ball made it most of the way to the plate.

The earlier first pitch was from Allan Simpson, founder of Baseball America and former sports editor of the Fairbanks News-Miner.

At age 61, Bill Lee (no longer a college student, admittedly) won that year's game. He himself had first pitched in Fairbanks in 1967.

I'm hoping Evan will write a book on the history of baseball in Alaska, and the Midnight Sun Game in particular. It would be a good complement to Lew Freedman's Diamonds in the Rough.

Now, for me, time to head to Denali National Park for two nights.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Jackie Bradley Jr. on defense

·        After that great play last night, it's worth noting that his six assists lead all major league rookies and are tied for the ML lead among center fielders (also ARI’s A.J. Pollock)...He has the most outfield assists by a Red Sox rookie since Bob Zupcic turned in 11 in 1992.

·        His 4 double plays top all ML outfielders, the most by a Red Sox rookie OF since Faye Throneberry in 1952 (5) and most by a Sox rookie CF since at least 1914.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

it's another one-game winning streak!

Let's hope they can extend this one.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Last night's game-winning homer by David Ortiz

The three-run homer that boosted the Red Sox to a 5-3 lead and proved the winning runs was Ortiz’s 16th career game-deciding home run in the ninth inning or later during the regular season (11 walk-offs at home, and his fifth on the road).

Friday, June 6, 2014

Red Sox seem to be stocking up on high school players in this year's draft

Very interesting. Let's see how it all plays out by the time the draft is over.

Red Sox draft picks of the past 50 years

TOP RED SOX DRAFT PICKS 1965-2014 YR PLAYER Round/Pick 1965 OF Billy Conigliaro 1/5 1966 LHP Ken Brett 1/4 1967 RHP Mike Garman 1/3 1968 OF/C Tom Maggard 1/20 1969 OF Noel Jenke 1/13 1970 3B Jimmy Hacker 1/16 1971 OF Jim Rice 1/15 1972 SS Joel Bishop 1/16 1973 SS Ted Cox 1/17 1974 SS Eddie Ford 1/20 1975 1B Otis Foster 1/15 1976 LHP Bruce Hurst 1/22 1977 RHP Andrew Madden 1/13 1978 3B Edward Connors 4/102 1979 C Marc Sullivan 2/52 1980 RHP Mike Brown 2/48 1981 OF/SS Steve Lyons 1/19 1982 1B Sam Horn 1/16 1983 RHP Roger Clemens 1/19 1984 C John Marzano 1/14 1985 RHP Dan Gabriele 1/21 1986 OF Greg McMurtry 1/14 1987 RHP Reggie Harris 1/26 1988 LHP Tom Fischer 1/12 1989 OF Greg Blosser 1/16 1990 RHP Frank Rodriguez 2/41 1991 RHP Aaron Sele 1/23 1992 OF Tony Sheffield 2/56 1993 OF Trot Nixon 1/7 1994 SS Nomar Garciaparra 1/12 1995 RHP Andy Yount 1/15 1996 RHP Josh Garrett 1/26 1997 LHP John Curtice 1/17 1998 SS Adam Everett 1/12 1999 OF Rick Asadoorian 1/17 2000 LHP Phil Dumatrait 1/22 2001 C Kelly Shoppach 2/48 2002 LHP Jon Lester 2/57 2003 OF David Murphy 1/17 2004 SS Dustin Pedroia 2/65 2005 OF Jacoby Ellsbury 1/23 2006 OF Jason Place 1/27 2007 LHP Nick Hagadone 1C/55 2008 RHP/SS Casey Kelly 1/30 2009 OF Reymond Fuentes 1/28 2010 INF Kolbrin Vitek 1/20 2011 RHP Matt Barnes 1/19 2012 SS Deven Marrero 1/24 2013 LHP Trey Ball 1/7 2014 SS Michael Chavis 1/26 * Players in bold played in MLB with the Red Sox. List includes players selected in the June draft.

The top three Red Sox draft picks

Club Also Takes Right-Handed Pitcher Michael Kopech in First Round
And First Baseman Sam Travis in Second Round on Day 1 of the Draft

BOSTON, MA—The Boston Red Sox selected shortstop Michael Chavis out of Sprayberry High School Marietta, GA with their first-round pick (26th overall) in the 2014 June Draft on Thursday night.  The club also took right-handed pitcher Michael Kopech from Mt. Pleasant High School in Texas in the first round (33rd overall, compensation for Jacoby Ellsbury), and first baseman Sam Travis from Indiana University with their second-round selection (67th overall). 

Red Sox Director of Amateur Scouting Amiel Sawdaye made the announcement.

Chavis, 18, hit .580 (47-for-81) with nine doubles, one triple, 13 home runs, 37 RBI, and 21 stolen bases in 28 games, leading Sprayberry High School to an 18-11 overall record and this spring’s 7AAAAA regional championship.  A 5-foot-10, 190-pound right-handed hitter, he was named the 2014 Georgia Gatorade High School Player of the Year and also earned Southeast All-Region First-Team designation.  Named a Perfect Game First-Team All-American, he won this year’s Home Run Derby at the Perfect Game All-American Classic.  Baseball America identified him as the top potential third base prospect available in the draft.  He was also named to the Perfect Game Underclassmen First Team in 2013.  Chavis is just the second high school infielder Boston has selected with its No. 1 pick since 1983, with the other being right-handed pitcher/shortstop Casey Kelly in 2008.  Notable major leaguers that attended Sprayberry High School are right-handed pitcher Kris Benson and outfielder Marlon Byrd.

“Our approach each year is to select the best players available to us and we believe Michael fits that description,” said Sawdaye. “He was undoubtedly one of the best high school hitters in this this year’s class, and we were fortunate to have him.  In addition, we believe his athleticism and defensive versatility will also be an asset to us.”

Kopech, 18, went 3-0 with a 0.44 ERA and a .115 opponent batting average over 11 appearances this season for Mt. Pleasant.  He allowed only four earned runs, 25 hits, and 18 walks all season, and tied for the lead Division 4A pitchers with 129 strikeouts in just 64.0 innings pitched.  The 6-foot-3, 195-pound native of Mt. Pleasant also played shortstop for the Tigers.  This year he was named a First Team Perfect Game All-American and also earned a spot on Perfect Game’s Texas-Region First Team.  He struck out all three batters faced in his only inning of work during the 2013 Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley Field and was named the exhibition’s Player of the Game. 

Travis, 22, hit .347 (85-for-245) as a junior this season with 16 doubles, two triples, 12 home runs, 58 RBI, and 25 walks in 59 games for Indiana University.  A First-Team All-Big Ten selection and Second Team Louisville Slugger All-American in 2014, he led the team in hits, doubles (tied), and RBI, and helped the Hoosiers to the Big Ten Championship and their first College World Series appearance.  As a sophomore in 2013, the right-handed batter ranked second on the team in on-base percentage (.419), home runs (10), and RBI (57), and hit .316 (77-for-244) with 39 walks in 65 games, earning Most Outstanding Player honors at the Big Ten Tournament as well as the NCAA Bloomington Regional.  The 6-foot, 210-pound first baseman played in 19 games for Team USA’s Collegiate National Team in 2013 and was a Cape Cod League All-Star with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox in the summer of 2012.  Travis, a native of Orland Park, IL, was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American in 2012.  He was named The Chicago Tribune’s Illinois Player of the Year as a senior at Providence Catholic High School in 2011 and was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 40th round of the 2011 June Draft but chose not to sign.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

two debuts, both getting hits

ALEX HASSAN and GARIN CECCHINI became the first pair of Red Sox to make their major league debut in the same game since 9/5/93 (Greg Blosser, Jeff McNeely).

They are the first pair of Red Sox to make their ML debut and record a hit on the same day since 9/28/75 (Steve Dillard, Andy Merchant).

--per Red Sox.

and then there's this thing about Jon Lester in 2014....

He's had a decision in every single start.

Two losses

Two wins

Two losses

Two wins

Two losses

Two wins

So, now he's 6-6.

2 major-league records in one game

Not only did the Red Sox win their record-tying seventh consecutive game after a 10-game losing streak, but Brock Holt hit four doubles.  That, too, tied a major-league record.

Maybe Tampa Bay shouldn't have thrown at David Ortiz?

Ya suppose?

winning streak after a losing streak

The major league record for the longest winning streak after a losing streak of 10 or more games is 7.

The Red Sox could match that today.

The 1942 Pirates and the 1989 Tigers share the record.The 1989 Tigers won 7 in a row from September 1-8, 1989 after losing 12 consecutive games, and the 1942 Pirates won 7 in a row from June 5-13, 1942 after losing 10 in a row.

Go Sox!