Tag Archive | "Pittsburgh Pirates"

Movie Review – No No: A Dockumentary


Originally published on BaseballdeWorld.com

There was a lot of talk around the baseball world a little over a year ago when  documentary premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. No No: A Dockumentary was the film in question and was just recently added to Netflix.

Before hearing of the film I knew just a little about Dock Ellis. I knew he was a very good pitcher with the Pittsburgh Pirates back in their heyday of the early 1970s. I had also heard all of the stories of drug use. He has said many times, including in the film, that he never pitched without being under the influence of some drug.

When I first heard of the film I thought it was all about the game in San Diego in 1970 when he reportedly pitched a no-hitter under the influence of LSD. However, it was more than just this incident and in fact a documentary on Ellis’ life.

The story about the no-hitter was an interesting one and something that I can’t even imagine taking place in today’s game, or anytime for that matter. But what made the film great was the insight into his life during and after his playing career.

Before watching the film I looked up Ellis’ stats. I thought going into watching it that he was maybe close to a 200 game winner and had a solid career. That really wasn’t the case. He was good, but mostly for a short time. Perhaps it was the drug use that shortened the effectiveness of his career.

He did have a nice career. He pitched over 12 years in the big leagues, pitching for five different teams. Most of his success came early on with Pittsburgh, but he did have good years later in his career both with the New York Yankees and even a decent year with the Texas Rangers.

But the biggest thing I found from the documentary, and what was the most touching, was the work he did after his playing days were over. There is a good bit on that as well as he eventually got clean and began working with others that were in need of help. He had a lot of experiences to share and became quite a councilor from the sound of it.

Over all it was a great documentary and I really enjoyed it. It is one that will be added to my collection, and I highly recommend it to any baseball fan. It also reminded me that I wanted to read the book The Pittsburgh Cocaine Seven by Aaron Skirboll. Of course that is a story for another day and one that I hope to bring soon.

In the meantime, if you have Netflix watch No No: A Dockumentary. It is just under two hours and it is really good. You can also rent it on Amazon streaming.

Here is the trailer from www.NoNoADockumentary.com:

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Who Would Have Thought…..


Who would have thought…..

There are several of these this season so far. I think the biggest one is who would have thought the Baltimore Orioles would be this good?

Heading into tonight’s play, the Orioles are atop the AL East with a 27-15 record which is the best in the American League. Not only are they in first but the whole division seems to be turned upside down with the Yankees and Red Sox in 4th and 5th place.

There seems to be a surprise in just about every division.

AL Central

Who would have thought the Detroit Tigers would be under .500 and trailing not only the Cleveland Indians but the Chicago White Sox?

AL West

I think everyone though the Rangers would be at the top of the division, but who would have though the Angels would be bringing up the rear? They are 8 games out of first and 6 games under .500 already this season. Albert Pujols just hasn’t hit yet but they could easily turn it around. Maybe.

NL East

I think we thought the Washington Nationals would be good, but this good? They are trailing the Braves by a half game and have played really well this season. Perhaps the bigger surprise is the fall of the Phillies. So far they are in last place 5 games out and a game under  .500 but they have had a lot of big injuries.

NL Central

Not any huge surprises here. Cincinnati and St. Louis are tied for first, but Pittsburgh and Houston are next in the standings which might be the biggest surprise.

NL West

The Los Angeles Dodgers have the best record in baseball. Not sure anyone saw that coming with all the off the field issues they have had. They are hot of late (8-2 in last 10) and are almost unbeatable at home going 19-4.

I think the Orioles are the biggest surprise so far. I hope they can keep it up. It’s nice to see teams that haven’t won in a few years return to the top of the league. It’s time for some new blood in the playoffs.

What do you think is the biggest surprise so far?

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2012 MLB Predictions


The 2012 MLB season starts in less than 24 hours for most teams. With the rosters set, I’d thought I’d take a stab at who will win what this year. I probably won’t get close, but it’s always fun to predict and see how far off you came.

NL East – You can see a more detailed explanation here.
1.Philadelphia Phillies 96-66
2.Atlanta Braves 90-72
3. Washington Nationals 87-75
4. Miami Marlins 72-90
5. New York Mets 68-94

NL West
1. Arizona Diamondbacks 91-71
2. Los Angeles Dodgers 85-77
3. San Francisco Giants 80-82
4. Colorado Rockies 80-82
5. San Diego Padres 65-97

NL Central
1. Cincinnati Reds 90-72
2. St. Louis Cardinals 87-75
3. Milwaukee Brewers 84-78
4. Pittsburgh Pirates 76-86
5. Chicago Cubs 75-87
6. Houston Astros 61-101

AL East
1. New York Yankees 97-65
2. Tampa Bay Rays 91-71
3. Boston Red Sox 85-79
4. Toronto Blue Jays 82-82
5. Baltimore Orioles 70-92

AL West
1. Texas Rangers 95-67
2. Anaheim Angels 90-72
3. Seattle Mariners 84-78
4. Oakland A’s 70-92

AL Central
1. Detroit Tigers 98-64
2. Cleveland Indians 85-77
3. Kansas City Royals 84-78
4. Chicago WhiteSox 68-94
5. Minnesota Twins 65-97

Playoffs

NL WC Playoff Atlanta def St. Louis

NLDS Philadelphia def Atlanta 3-1

NLDS Arizona def Cincinnati 3-1

NLCS Arizona def Philadelphia 4-2

AL WC Tampa Bay def Anaheim

ALDS Tampa Bay def Detroit 3-2

ALDS Texas def New York 3-1

ALCS Texas def Tampa Bay 4-2

2012 World Series Texas Rangers def Arizona Diamondbacks 4-0

I just have the feeling the Rangers will be back with a vengeance this year and will accomplish what they have never done before. Who knows what will happen, but I know it will be fun watching it all unfold.

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Two For Tuesday – Baseball Injuries


With the recent injuries to Kendry Morales and David Huff, it got me thinking of some of the worst injuries that I have seen in the past. I have seen my share on the field and on TV, but there are a few that stand out to me.

The first one that comes to mind is former All-Star Dave Dravecky. In 1988, Dravecky was diagnosed with cancer in his arm. He underwent surgery in late 1988 and was told he would never pitch again. Dravecky worked hard and was determined to get back to the mound, which he did in August of 1989. He pitched brilliantly in his comeback going 8 innings and winning against Cincinnati. Five days later tragedy would strike in Montreal. In the 6th inning on a pitch to Tim Raines, Dave Dravecky broke his arm. It was a gruesome sight and one I will never forget.

Two years later the cancer would return. With his arm continuing to deteriorate, Dravecky was forced to have his arm and shoulder amputated. Today Dravecky is a motivational speaker. You can see part of this in the short video below which includes video of his arm breaking in Montreal.

The other injury that comes to mind is the one Jason Kendall suffered on July 4, 1999 in Pittsburgh. As Kendall crossed first base he suffered a compound dislocation his ankle. It was a horrifying sight to see. Ankles are just not meant to bend in that direction. He wound up missing the rest of the season but came back strong the following year. I don’t have video of the injury, but there is a grisly picture below.

What are some of the injuries that you remember best? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts on the best, or worst, injuries.

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Hello Win Column!


I have been looking into adding some regular posts and figured I would start with a segment I will call, Hello Win Column!  This will be a periodical look at the standings, power rankings, and other things such as great wins.

This week I thought I would take a look at the standings for the first 36 games (22.2% of the season).  So let’s go through division by division and see where the surprises and disappointments are.

AL East

I think here we have one of the biggest surprises so far.  The Tampa Bay Rays are not only in first place, but have the best record in baseball.  Now don’t get me wrong, in no way is them having a good record surprising.  I think everyone felt this team would contend, but I don’t think they thought this team would play this good so far.  The Yankees are right behind the Rays which is not surprising, but the order of the next two teams is.  Toronto, with hot hitting Vernon Wells, is in 3rd while Boston is struggling around .500 in 4th.  The Red Sox are scoring runs, but giving up more.  And with little fanfare the Orioles are in the basement of the East with the worst record in baseball.

AL Central

Before the season I felt this division was wide open.  So far it is a two team race that could come down to the wire.  Right now the Twins lead Detroit by 1.5 games.  This could stay like this for most of the year, but don’t count out Chicago getting back in the race later on in the season.  I wouldn’t put must stock into K.C. or Cleveland as they will vie for the cellar here.

AL West

Another wide open race to begin the year, it is shaping up to be a three team race.  It could be wide open come summer with all four teams looking to take the division, but I don’t see Seattle getting back in it.  Right now the Rangers lead the West by 2 over Oakland.  I look for the Rangers to win this division, but it should be a good race all year long.

NL East

Philly is the class of the division here.  I am not sure what is more surprising, Atlanta in last place or Washington in 2nd.  I don’t think the Braves will end up in the cellar, at least not with the Mets in the division.  Philly is clearly the head of the class here and should have no real issues winning the East.

NL Central

One of the bigger surprises in the NL is Cincinnati.  They trail the Cardinals by only .5 game.  In the long run I think the Cards will take the Central, but it will be a fun summer if the Reds can make it a race in the end.  They are young and exciting to watch.  Mike Leach is on his way to a great season.  I would say ROY if Jason Heyward wasn’t in the race as well.  No big surprise that the Astros, Cubs, Pirates, and Brewers aren’t in the race for now.  Unless there are some changes I don’t see any of them contending.

NL West

The biggest surprise in the NL to me is the Padres leading the West.  I think everyone thought that the Dodgers and Giants would compete for the division here. The Dodgers are on a winning streak, but have lost one of their better players to a broken finger in Andre Ethier.  In the end this division will be wide open.  Look for the Dodgers, Rockies, Padres, and Giants to all contend.  In the end I like the pitching of the Giants, but don’t count anyone out.

I look forward to the next month and a half to see where we are come All-Star break.  I do think we will see some changes in the division leaders by then.  It is shaping up to be a great summer of baseball.

For those of you who didn’t grow up listening to Ranger games, the title of this may not have much meaning.  Mark Holtz was the radio play-by-play announcer from 1982 to 1994, then he moved into the television booth until 1997.  After every Ranger win, Holtz would display his signature phrase, “Hello Win Column!”

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Baseball Salaries vs Values


I was recently sent a story from Forbes about the value of MLB teams, and I started to wonder how that list corresponded to the salary list.  So let’s take a look at the top 10 most valuable MLB franchises according to Forbes.

Top 10 MLB Team Values

Home Plate at the Ballpark in Arlington

  1. New York Yankees
  2. Boston Red Sox
  3. New York Mets
  4. Los Angeles Dodgers
  5. Chicago Cubs
  6. Philadelphia Phillies
  7. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  8. St. Louis Cardinals
  9. San Fransisco Giants
  10. Chicago White Sox

The top 5 on the list out distance the rest of the clubs by a long shot.  The Yankees weight in at $1.6 billion with the Red Sox in 2nd at $870 million.  A big drop off is seen after #5.  The Cubs come in at $726 million, but there is nearly a 200 million drop off to #6 in Philadelphia. So how does this translate to salary levels?  Below is the top 10 MLB salaries according to cbssports.com.

Top 10 MLB Team Salaries*

*bold teams on both lists
  1. New York Yankees
  2. Boston Red Sox
  3. Chicago Cubs
  4. Philadelphia Phillies
  5. New York Mets
  6. Detroit Tigers
  7. Chicago White Sox
  8. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  9. Seattle Mariners
  10. San Francisco Giants

Only 2 teams valued in the top 10 by Forbes are not on the list of the top 10 salaries for 2010 (Los Angeles Dodgers & St. Louis Cardinals).  The Dodgers come in at #12 on the salary list, while the Cardinals come in at #13.   The Seattle Mariners (#14 on the Forbes list) and the Detroit Tigers (#22 on the Forbes list) are the only teams not in the top 10 of value that are in the top 10 in salary.

So we can see that the majority of the highest valued teams also have the highest payrolls, but it is the same with the lower valued teams?

Bottom 10 MLB Teams in Value according to Forbes

  1. Baltimore Orioles
  2. Detroit Tigers
  3. Milwaukee Brewers
  4. Kansas City Royals
  5. Cincinnati Reds
  6. Toronto Blue Jays
  7. Florida Marlins
  8. Tampa Bay Rays
  9. Oakland Athletics
  10. Pittsburgh Pirates

This really isn’t too surprising a list.  Most of these teams have not won for many years.  Despite a few having new stadiums, more are playing in older parks built at least 15 years ago.  But how does it translate to salaries.

Bottom 10 MLB Teams in Salary*

*bold teams on both lists
  1. Tampa Bay Rays
  2. Toronto Blue Jays
  3. Washington Nationals
  4. Cleveland Indians
  5. Arizona Diamondbacks
  6. Florida Marlins
  7. Texas Rangers
  8. Oakland Atletics
  9. San Diego Padres
  10. Pittsburgh Pirates

Most of the teams down at the bottom of Forbes list in terms of value are on the list of the lowest payrolls.  I find it interesting to see how the two list compare with one another.  For the most part a team with low value has low payroll and vice-versa.  There are however exceptions to the rule.  Detroit is a lower valued team but is spending.  The Texas Rangers are a higher valued team (#12) but are not spending much on payroll.  Of course, they are going through an ownership change that can’t come quick enough.  There will always be exceptions, but as a general rule it looks as though the higher the value team, the more spent on payroll.

Perhaps the most telling sign is the difference between the Yankees at #1 and the Pirates at #30.  The Yankees payroll comes in at just over $206 million, while the Pirates top out at just under $35 million.  When you break it down per player that is $8.2 million to $1.2 million.  There are all sorts of stats that simply blow you away like how the top 4 individual player salaries are all Yankees.  Their salary added up for this year is more than 21 teams.  I really can’t think of how that is good for baseball.

So, does this money spent translate into wins?

The biggest favorites for a World Series title this year come from the teams that are on the list of the higher payrolls.  Looking at possible playoff teams from the lower third of the payroll, you can still find one or two possible playoff teams, but none that you would expect to contend for a World Series title.   This has got me thinking about what teams have won in the playoffs being in the bottom third of league salary levels.  I am going to do some research and get back to you on that.

What are your thoughts on these lists?  I have some more thoughts on salaries, but I will save that for later.

The two lists that I used.

The Forbes.com List of Baseball Team Values

CBSsports.com MLB Salaries List

20. Kansas City Royals $72,267,710 $2,491,990
21. Tampa Bay Rays $71,923,471 $2,663,832
22. Toronto Blue Jays $62,689,357 $2,089,645
23. Washington Nationals $61,425,000 $2,047,500
24. Cleveland Indians $61,203,967 $2,110,482
25. Arizona Diamondbacks $60,718,167 $2,335,314
26. Florida Marlins $55,641,500 $2,060,796
27. Texas Rangers $55,250,545 $1,905,191
28. Oakland Athletics $51,654,900 $1,666,287
29. San Diego Padres $37,799,300 $1,453,819
30. Pittsburgh Pirates

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Baseball Memories


One of my best memories of baseball is from the 1992 NLCS.  I had long cheered on my Braves during the lean years of the 1980s.  In 1991, they finally made it to the World Series and it looked like things would really turn around.  Going from worst to first that year was very exciting.  The ’91 Series went to 7 games and was one of the most memorable Series in recent history.  If not for Lonnie “Skates” Smith’s running error in the top of the 8th of Game 7, the Braves might have brought home the title.

The next season brought a lot of hope for the Braves after coming so close to winning it all in ’91.   The Braves once again won the West (still strange to think they were in the West at one point) and faced off with the Pittsburgh Pirates once again in the NLCS.  Game 6 was a hard one for the Braves as they lost 13-4 and faced a do-or-die Game 7.  Through eight and a half innings, the score stood Pirates 2, Braves 0.  It looked as though they would fall short once again.  Then magic struck.  Terry Pendleton led off the bottom of the 9th with a double.  David Justice followed it up by reaching on an error from normally sure handed second baseman Jose Lind.  Sid Bream walked and all of a sudden the bases were loaded.  The Pirates finally took out starter Doug Drabek and brought in Stan Belinda.

Ron Gant quickly greeted Belinda with a sacrifice fly to make the score 2-1.  Damon Berryhill then walked to reload the bases.  With one out, pinch-hitter Brian Hunter popped out to shortstop Jay Bell and it looked like the Pirates might escape with the win.  Then Bobby Cox sent up Francisco Cabrera, the last man on the Braves bench.  And Skip Caray took it from there…..

A lotta room in right-center, if he hits one there we can dance in the streets. The 2-1. Swung, line drive left field! One run is in! Here comes Bream! Here’s the throw to the plate! He is…safe! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!…Braves win! They may have to hospitalize Sid Bream; he’s down at the bottom of a huge pile at the plate. They help him to his feet. Frank Cabrera got the game winner! The Atlanta Braves are National League champions again! This crowd is going berserk, listen!”

If you want to see the play, and hear this famous call, the link below will take you to MLB.com where the video is hosted.

 1992 NLCS Skip Caray Call

That is my favorite baseball memory.  I can still remember sitting at the end of my bed barely able to watch.  I would peak through my hands as they covered my face while I nervously watched.  So what is your favorite baseball memory?  Leave a message and let me know.

TBJM

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There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem - once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit. ~Al Gallagher, 1971

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