Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Tragedy of 2014

Like all seasons the 2014 season had some great moments, as we reviewed last week.  Of course, as with every year,  it also had some sad and some controversial moments.  Not all the moments listed were tragic but the moments listed below were definitely the negative moments of the year.

Alex Rodriguez:
It seemed, for quite some time, that this was the story that would never go away.  Alex Rodriguez was threatening to sue everyone in the world.  Even after his suspension was announced he still said he was going to show up to the Yankees' Spring Training camp.  Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 season and has not been heard from in months.  What will happen when his suspension is lifted?  No one knows.

Jean Segura's infant passes:

Jean Segura is an up and coming shortstop with the Milwaukee Brewers. His name is not one the casual fan necessarily knows immediately, but Segura was in the middle of a great season (his second straight great season) when his whole life changed.  Segura's son, just short of his first birthday, passed away suddenly. As the rest of the league was heading home for the All Star Break, Segura was heading home for his son's funeral.

Fernando Rodney's hat:

Fernando Rodney wears his hat slightly cocked to the side.  He is not the only person.  There are  plenty of players who wear the hat just slightly off center.  It has been questioned as far as the fashion sense but no one ever really had a problem.  Rodney had alternately described his reasoning as a tribute to his deceased father or just a fashion choice.  The controversy arose when Joe Buck stated during the All Star Game that Rodney had said he did this to confuse the batter.  Since the pitcher is not permitted to deceive the batter the hat became an issue.  In the end the talk about the hat was loud on sports talk radio but not really a blip on the league's radar to this point.

Wainwright's All Star Game:
Adam Wainwright was chosen sot start the All Star Game for the National League.  There were many who felt that the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw was the better choice and that Wainwright was only chosen because his manager Mike Matheny was the manager of the NL team.  It is a controversy that happens at least once a year.  The real controversy came when social media ran with a story that Wainwright implied that he had grooved a pitch to Derek Jeter, making his final All Star Game appearance.  The fact that there was a controversy over a simple base hit in an All Star Game shows that baseball gets it right when it comes to their All Star Game.

Jerry Coleman (9/14/1924 - 1/5/2014):

Coleman played nine years in the Major Leagues, all of them with the New York Yankees.  In 8 of those nine years he played on a team that reached the World Series.  In six of those seasons he saw time in the fall classic and won.  He finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1949 (behind Roy Sievers of the Browns and Alex Kellner of the A's).  He was an All Star in 1950 and he was a popular player in the Yankee locker room.  Coleman had also lost several years worth of baseball time while serving in the military in World War II and the Korean War.  Coleman spent several years in the front office of the Yankees and did play by play for the pinstripes as well as CBS' Game ofthe Week.  He really gained his notoriety in San Diego.  From 1972 until 2013 Coleman broadcast the Padres' radio games and put his personal touch on each game.  He became famous for his humorous statements, much in the vein of Yogi Berra.  Some examples were saying a player was "not hurt as much as he is"  or that a player "started out here with the Astros and before that was with the Orioles" and that someone "stole second standing up.  He slid but he didn't have to". Listening to Coleman was always entertaining and it was a tremendous loss to the Padres' organization.  It was just the start of a dark year for the Padres.

Jim Fregosi (4/4/1942 - 2/14/14)

Fregosi managed for 15 years.  He twice won the Manager of the Year (1988 and 1993). He managed the Angels to their first ever playoff appearance in 1979 and the Phillies to their first World Series appearance in 10 years 1993.  That is how our generation knows him but he was much more than that.   He also played the game for 18 years with the Angels, Mets, Rangers and Pirates. He was a 6 time All Star, received votes for MVP 8 times and won a Gold Glove.  At one time Fregosi was considered potentially one of the great Short Stops of all time.  Fregosi was one of the first Angels' stars but was traded to the Mets as part of a deal that brought Nolan Ryan to Anaheim.  Later, when Ryan was dominating the AL for the halos, Fregosi was his manager.  Few managers in the 1980's and 1990's were more sought after.  Fregosi suffered a stroke this past winter and passed away.

Ralph Kiner (8/27/1922- 2/6/2014)

Ralph Kiner played 10 years in the Major Leagues and made 6 All Star Games and received MVP votes seven times.  Kiner led the National League in Home Runs every year from 1946-1953 and finished his career with 369 Home Runs.  At one time the Pirates organization was not sure of the direction Kiner's career would take.  Fortunately for him Hank Greenberg, in his only year in Pittsburgh, took Kiner under his wing and helped him reach his potential.  Following his retirement Kiner entered broadcasting and broadcast for the Mets beginning in their first year of 1962.  He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975.

Bob Welch (11/3/1956 - 6/9/2014):

Bob Welch played 17 years in the Major Leagues and won more than 200 games.  He was a two time All Star, 1990 Cy Young Award Winner and played on 8 playoff teams.  Starting with the Dodgers in 1978 Welch made a postseason impact as a rookie when he struck out Reggie Jackson in the World Series.  It would be the first of many great postseason moments for him as he helped the Dodgers win the 1981 World Series.  He was traded to the A's in 1987 as part of a giant three team trade.  He teamed with Dave Stewart to help the A's dominate the American League from 1988-1990.  Welch was also the pitching coach for the 2001 World Series Champion Arizona Diamondbacks. He passed away from a heart attack at only 57.

Don Zimmer (1/17/1931 - 6/4/2014):

Few people have the longevity of a career like Don Zimmer.  As a player Zimmer played in 12 years for the Dodgers, Cubs, Mets, Reds and Senators.  In 1961 he represented the Cubs as an All Star.  His legacy came mostly after his playing days.  He managed the Padres, Red Sox, Rangers and Cubs.  He managed the Red Sox during the 1978 season that resulted in Bucky Dent's famous Home Run.  He also managed the Cubs to the 1989 NLCS.  Zim's impact was most felt as a coach.  Wherever he went success seemed to follow.  He helped Don  Baylor on the Rockies staff as the young organization made the playoffs in 1995.  He more famously served as the bench coach for the Yankees dynasty in the late 1990's-early 2000's.  He passed away this year at 83.

Tony Gwynn (5/9/1960 - 6/16/2014):

It was a tough year for the Padres family. They lost Jerry Coleman in January then lost Tony Gwynn in June.  Both were referred to as Mr. Padre.  Gwynn made his debut with San Diego in 1982 and was an integral part of the team's only 2 World Series teams.  Gwynn won 8 batting titles, made 16 All Star games, won 5 Gold Gloves and 6 Silver Sluggers, 10 times won player of the week, 5 times won player of the month and was an obvious first ballot Hall of Famer.  More than that Gwynn changed the way players approach the game of baseball.  Gwynn was the first player to regularly use video to break down opposing pitchers.  Gwynn was also one of the classiest, most likable players the game has ever known.

Machado vs A's:
This all started with the Orioles-A's series in mid June.  Machado was on his way to third when Josh Donaldson of the A's tagged him out.  Machado took offense to the tag and the benches cleared.  Everything settled but as the series progressed the A's claimed Machado hit the A's catchers with exaggerated back swings.  In the final game of that series A's pitchers started throwing inside to Machado, which he felt was intended as intimidation.  Machado's response was to lose his grip on the bat and send it hurtling towards third base.  The benches emptied again but no punches were thrown.  After the series the A's had plenty to say about Machado and he apologized.  Fast forward to the end of July when the Orioles traveled to Oakland for a weekend series. In the first game of the series Machado hit a late inning Home Run that looked like it would give the O's the win.  Instead, the A's won it with a walk off, 3 run Home Run from Donaldson.  The war of words was an ugly exchange that led to suspensions and was definitely not one of the positive moments of 2014.

Giancarlo Stanton:
The Marlins surprised a lot of people this year (including myself) by hanging in the Wild Card race deep into the season.  The main reason for their success was the leadership and performance of Giancarlo Stanton.  With just a few weeks left in the season Stanton took a fastball to the face, effectively ending what was arguably an MVP season.

Think I missed something from the 2014 season?  Let me know in the comments.

Since we're focusing on the negatives of the 2014 season, we'll make this week's trivia question a negative as well.  Although it is almost two full months since the start of the playoffs I hope everyone still remembers that the Nationals, Cardinals and Dodgers were division winners in the NL with the Giants and Pirates as wild cards.  In the AL the Orioles, Tigers and Angels won their division while the Royals and A's were the Wild Card teams.  So the question is what teams finished in last place in each division for 2014 and which had the worst record?

Answer to Last Week's Question:
The Brewers organization has had some success as an organization although the last 10 years have likely been their most sucessful.  The Brewers last made the playoffs in 2011.  They beat the Diamondbacks in the NLDS and lost to the Cardinals in the NLCS.

The Seattle Mariners went 116-46 in 2001.  It is one of the great regular seasons in history.  They beat Cleveland 3 games to 2 in the ALDS but lost to the Yankees 4 games to 1 in the ALCS.They have not been back since.

The Blue Jays are the youngest team in this group although they have really had the most success historically.  The Jays entered the league in 1977.  Their playoff appearances became fairly regular things.  The Jays made the playoffs in 1985, 1989, 1991, 1992 and 1993 with near misses in 1987, 1988 and 1990.  Toronto won back to back World Series in 1992 and 1993 but have not been back since.

Kansas City reached the World Series this year.  It had been a long drought for the Royals franchise.  The franchise joined the league in 1969 and made the playoffs in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1984 and 1985.  Although they played well in other seasons and came close to playoff berths, the franchise made the post season this year for the first time since 1985.

1 comment:

  1. Great article. I usually agree with you but A-Roid not being around baseball was a positive. Just a little more than two months and the circus starts again. I wish he would retire to Tibet.
    We sure did lose a lot of great players this year.
    The reason Fernando Rodney wears his hat like that is it gets knocked crooked from him turning his head to watch the home runs he gives up.
    The second worse thing was the Machado incident. It just showed a lot of immaturity. Hopefully he turns it around and we talk about his accomplishments and not his temper.
    The worse thing was the Stanton hit by pitch. That was scary and I saw it once and could not watch it again.

    My guess on the trivia is Philadelphia, Chicago, Colorado, Boston, Minnesota and Texas. The only one I'm not sure of is the NL west. Worst record was Texas.



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