A's Enter 2022 Season With Rookie Pilot
ALSO: SOME HALL OF FAMERS MISSED WORLD SERIES, OTHERS DOMINATED
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Did you know…
It’s Jan. 19, 1960 and the crew of the USS Seadragon (SSN-584) plays ball at the North Pole — after making the first submarine transit of the Northwest Passage. Sailors laid out a softball diamond with the pitcher's mound on the Pole so that batters who hit a home run could “circumnavigate the world” as they passed through all time zones while rounding the bases. Batters could also feel like major-league sluggers as they hit balls into tomorrow . . .
Some 61 years later, Houston’s Framber Valdez enjoyed an eight-inning stint — longest by any pitcher in the MLB postseason — in Game 5 of the ALCS . . .
Jordan Alvarez hit .522 (12-for-23) to win MVP honors in that series, then fell flat on his face against Atlanta in the World Series that followed . . .
The Astros roared from behind, outscoring Boston 22-1 after trailing 2-1 in the eighth inning of Game 4 and two games to one in the best-of-seven series . . .
Cito Gaston of the 1992 Toronto Blue Jays was the first black manager to win a World Series, beating the Atlanta Braves that year and again a year later.
Beyond Lockout Issues, Oakland A’s Face Season of Uncertainty in 2022
By Rich Campbell
Baseball’s lockout-induced off-season of quiet continues. For baseball fans in general, that means there is a great deal of uncertainty. What will a new collective bargaining agreement look like? Will there be a salary cap? A salary floor? Changes to free agency? A universal DH?
Will spring training start on time? Will the 2022 season be abridged?
These are just a few of the questions that have replaced the usual winter chatter about trades and free agent signings/departures for all baseball fans.
Fans of the Oakland A’s, specifically, face additional questions. Topics foremost in A’s fans’ minds are about 1) the uncertainty of finally getting a new ball park on Oakland’s waterfront and 2) the uncertainty about whether the Matt Chapman-Matt Olson-Sean Manaea-Chris Bassitt core be disbanded as each of those players becomes more expensive and inches toward free agency.
But some certainty has emerged in the wake of Bob Melvin’s departure to San Diego after a decade at the helm. The A’s hired Mark Kotsay as manager in the week leading up to Christmas. So perhaps, given the timing, his hiring was somewhat overlooked as the sports media landscape revolves around bowl games and the NFL season’s late stages in December of each year.
What does Kotsay bring to the table? No one can be sure, as he has never managed before. In fact, he is the first full-time skipper in Oakland without previous managerial experience since the team came west in 1968.
So in that way, the uncertainty story continues. But his hiring does signal some ongoing stability, as Kotsay was promoted internally and kept most of the coaching staff personnel. But in the continuing uncertainty story, several staff members were shifted to new roles: Mike Aldrete, Darren Bush and Eric Martins. Pitching coach Scott Emerson and bullpen coach Marcus Jensen continue in their roles.
Two new members of the staff come from outside the organization: two-time manager Brad Ausmus as bench coach and long-time minor league coach Chris Cron (and father of CJ Cron) as assistant hitting coach.
The other new coach is hitting coach Tommy Everidge, who was promoted within the organization, having served in the same role with AAA Las Vegas Aviators last year.
So, what does all this mean? Until the macro-level questions about the CBA are settled, it is difficult to surmise what the roster will look like heading into spring training. Until the roster is constructed, it is difficult to know what the manager and coaches will be charged with. Is it a one-last-run-with this-core season or a rebuilding effort?
Thus, we end where we started: uncertainty.
Rich Campbell is a Marketing Professor at Sonoma State University by day and A’s fan by night. He has previously been a sports business contributor at Forbes.com and his academic writing has appeared in Sport Marketing Quarterly. Say “hi” to him on Twitter @RichCampbellPhD.
Many Hall of Famers Missed World Series
By Dan Schlossberg
Ernie Banks wasn’t the only member of the Baseball Hall of Fame who got there without benefit of World Series performance.
He was just one of a surprising 54 players who found their way to Cooperstown without passing GO or collecting World Series shares.
Twenty-three of those played prior to the first Fall Classic in 1903, so they can hardly be blamed.
The remaining 31 included catcher Rick Ferrell; first basemen Jake Beckley, George Sisler, and Frank Thomas; second basemen Rod Carew, Napoleon Lajoie, and Ryne Sandberg; shortstops Luke Appling, Ernie Banks, and Bobby Wallace; third basemen George Kell and Ron Santo; left fielders Joe Kelley, Ralph Kiner, and Billy Williams; center fielder Ken Griffey, Jr.; right fielders Andre Dawson, Elmer Flick, Harry Heilmann, and Willie Keeler; designated hitter Edgar Martinez; and pitchers Jim Bunning, Jack Chesbro, Roy Halladay, Fergie Jenkins, Addie Joss, Ted Lyons, Phil Niekro, Gaylord Perry, Lee Smith, and Rube Waddell.
Perry probably came closest; the came up with the San Francisco Giants in 1962 but was not part of the club’s World Series roster. Based on what he accomplished later, the 300-game winner might have made the difference in his team’s disappointing defeat by the New York Yankees.
Whitey Ford, who did pitch in that Fall Classic, remains the Hall of Famer with the most innings(146), wins (10), strikeouts (94), years (11), and consecutive scoreless innings (33) in World Series play.
Mariano Rivera, a later Yankees pitcher, had the most games (24) and saves (11), while Christy Mathewson led in complete games (10), shutouts (4), and consecutive scoreless innings in a single series (27).
Because his team was a perennial World Series entrant, Yogi Berra remains the leader in years (14), games (75), at-bats(259), hits (71), singles (49), and doubles (10, tied with Frankie Frisch) among Hall of Famers, while Mickey Mantle leads in home runs (18), runs batted in (40), extra-base hits (26), walks (43), total bases (123), and runs (42).
Yet another Yankee, Joe DiMaggio, holds the record for the most years playing in every World Series game (10), while Lou Brock and Eddie Collins share the record for most bases stolen in Fall Classic play (14). Tris Speaker and four others had four triples, leading all World Series performers.
In total, 129 position players and 57 pitchers now in the Hall of Fame got there with the help of World Series credentials.
In fact, the career leaders in World Series games played at four of the eight positions are all in Cooperstown: Mantle (OF), Berra (C), Frankie Frisch (2B), and Phil Rizzuto (SS).
The Hall of Fame holds numerous artifacts from World Series play, including more than a dozen from the 2021 battle between the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros.
Among them is the one of the most unusual: the string of pearls worn by Atlanta outfielder Joc Pederson.
Dan Schlossberg has been covering baseball since 1969. He is the author of 39 baseball books, including the forthcoming update When the Braves Ruled the Diamond and a new title called Baseball Zeroes. He’s a national baseball writer for forbes.com and contributor to Latino Sports, Ball Nine, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, and Sports Collectors Digest, as well as Here’s The Pitch. E.mail him at email@example.com.
One for the books: last July 26, when Ranger Suárez [Phillies] yielded a home run to the unrelated Eugenio Suárez [Giants], it was the first time a Suárez threw a gopher ball to another Suarez . . .
When he played for the Yankees in 1991, Don Mattingly was benched for a day because his hair was too long to please owner George Steinbrenner . . .
Hall of Fame candidate Billy Wagner, perhaps the best lefty closer in baseball history, was a seven-time All-Star who finished with 422 saves and a 2.31 ERA . . .
Todd Helton, also on the Cooperstown ballot, had a .316 career average (17 years) and two seasons with more than 400 total bases . . .
Working his way up the same ballot, Andruw Jones had 434 home runs, 10 consecutive Gold Gloves, and a No. 1 ranking among outfielders (and No. 2 overall behind Brooks Robinson) in Total Zone Runs above average.
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HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [firstname.lastname@example.org] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [email@example.com] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [firstname.lastname@example.org] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.
A couple of other instances of similar-name weirdness from 2019: Tanner Rainey (Wash.) beat Tanner Roark (Cinn.) on June 1; Junior Guerra (Milw) beat Javy Guerra (Wash.) on Aug. 17