Cliff Lee, World Series 2010: How San Francisco Giants Took Lee in Game 1

October 28, 2010

Last night’s game was not the total shock many people think. I figured the San Francisco Giants would score a couple runs early against Lee, but was surprised the way they knocked him around.

The Giants pitchers also neutralized Mickey Mantle Jr, I mean, Josh Hamilton.

The Giants game plan with those two players were the key to winning Game 1. 

1) Cliff Lee vs. Giants Hitters

The key in getting to Cliff Lee is to be aggressive in the batters box. I have long discussed that on this site. Hitters cannot continue to take early strikes, get behind in the count and then have to react to any on of four different pitches he throws with two strikes.

Lee starts most hitters off with a fastball. He then mixes in cutters, curves and an occasional change up. He is also more likely to throw his curve ball with two strikes.  

And why not? It is harder to control that either the fastball or cutter and you do not have to throw it over the plate with two strikes, just get in low in the zone and you can be successful.

But the Giants are a very aggressive group of free swingers. They like to hack at lots of pitches early in the count, both in and out of the strike zone.

Against Lee, the Giants were aggressive, but mostly on pitches inside the strike zone, more specifically right over the middle of the plate.

They did not chase the high fastball. One of Lee’s important pitching traits is that he moves the ball around, changing the eye level of the hitters.

He works low and away, then up and in. He will throw the two-seamer or curve low, then throw a normal 91 MPH fastball up, many times out of the zone.  

But unlike the Yankees hitters, the Giants lineup did not chase the pitch up and out of the zone. The right-handed hitters also did not offer at the many pitches Lee threw just off the outside corner. That is why Lee probably threw very few changeups.

This forced Lee to work from behind in the count, and then have to come over the plate with his pedestrian fastball.

And that usually gets hit…and hit hard. While there were many hard hit balls, especially in that fifth inning, there were even more fat pitches which the Giants aggressively attacked yet fouled back.

Andres Torres, Juan Uribe and Cody Ross all missed fat fastballs over the middle. Lee threw too many pitches over the middle of the plate. The Giants hitters were also looking to hit the ball the other way, with right handed hitters hitting the ball to the right side.

That allows the ball to travel deeper and the hitter can see the ball longer. Going to right field hurts Lee’s pitching game plan. He thrives on teams like the Yankees who are looking to pull the ball, but the pesky Giants hurt him. Another reason why Lee likely threw very few changeups.

The Giants aggressive nature works well with pitchers who throw lots of strikes. That is why the Giants have beaten Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and now Cliff Lee in this postseason.

Watch for the Giants to continue to be aggressive on pitches in the zone, and their key to winning is to stay off the pitches out of the strike zone. Even Uribe took two pitches before hammering his three-run home run.

Credit the Giants hitting coach, Hensley Muelens, for putting together a good game plan for the hitters last night and will likely have another good one for tonight.

Tonight’s starter, C.J. Wilson, has one of the highest walk rates in the American League. The Giants will continue to be selectively aggressive.

2) Josh Hamilton vs. Giants pitchers

Right now Josh Hamilton has a long swing. He doesn’t have very quick hands and mostly swings with his arms. Does it have something to do with his rib injury from a month ago?

Since most teams pitch him away (like the Yankees always did in the ALCS), Hamilton continuously looks (and leans) out over the plate.

But the Giants pitches have worked Hamilton differently. They have thrown lots of off speed pitches away, but they also challenged Hamilton. 

And they challenged him inside where his long swing can not catch up even with a normal major league fastball.

In Hamilton’s first at bat, Tim Lincecum had to pitch to him with men on first and second.

But Lincecum got Hamilton to meekly ground out on pitches away.

Next time up, Lincecum jammed Hamilton on an 89 MPH fastball up and in.

Third time up, Hamilton was worked outside again and weakly grounded out back to Lincecum.

Fourth time up, Casilla blew an up and in fastball right by Hamilton then got him to fly out again on a fastball in.

The Giants pitchers got Hamilton out twice away and twice in, moving the ball around and not just trying to keep the ball away all the time.

Like the Yankees did, Joe Girardi worked scared against Hamilton. Most of the hard hit balls Hamilton had were on pitches out over the plate when the pitchers were constantly working away.

Look for Matt Cain tonight to continue to pound Hamilton inside with fastballs, but also showing him some stuff away for effect.

The Giants neutralized both of Texas‘ main weapons, Lee and Hamilton, and won big in Game 1. If they continue to play smart baseball and do the same things they did in Game 1, they will have an good time in Game 2.

Except for his high walk rate, C.J. Wilson is a similar type pitcher as Lee and can be approached the same way. Wait him out to come over the plate.

And the job of Cain and the able bodied bullpen is to bust Hamilton inside.

He can’t handle that pitch, and the Giants will continue to exploit it.

Advertisements

Why the Cliff Lee Deal Will Take the Texas Rangers To the World Series

August 3, 2010

There were quite a few trades made at this year’s non-waiver deadline, but not as many moves as I thought there would be.

With so many equally talented, but non-impact players available after the big guns—Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Roy Oswalt—were gone, it became a buyer’s market.

Some teams, like the Toronto Blue Jays, would not trade any of their valuable commodities (Scott Downs, Jose Bautista, Jason Frasor) unless they received top dollar and/or equal return back.

Second-tier prospects do not make a good team better, and many teams knew that. Many teams also valued their young players much higher (and thus cheaper in cost) than the buying teams.

Of all the trades, however, the most important to go down was the first one: Cliff Lee to the Texas Rangers. This is important for many reasons.

First, it gives the Rangers a legitimate No. 1 starter for the first time as a playoff contending team. They never had an ace in the late 1990s when they made the playoffs three times, nor any of the decent teams they had scattered throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Please do not confuse guys who had a decent year or two like Aaron Sele, Rick Helling, Ken Hill, and Bobby Witt with the term “ace.”

Lee is a true ace, a pitcher who will go up against the best. He has stacked up against some of the best teams so far, including the Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox, and pitched well.

His performance for the Phillies in last year’s playoff push and postseason classified Lee as an ace.

Second, an ace on top of the rotation takes a team to different heights, pushing them to play better and feel more confident. For example, when your team’s ace is starting, don’t you feel better about that particular game?

So do the players playing behind him.

I remember when Ron Guidry was pitching in 1978, and every time his turn came up in the rotation, you just knew the Yankees would win. And they usually did.

I specifically remember one day a group of us were playing stickball and someone asked who was pitching for the Yankees that night. Another kid said “Guidry” and I said out loud, “Well, that’s another win for the Yankees.” After all, Guidry was 13-0 at that point in early July.

Unfortunately, the Milwaukee Brewers beat up on “Louisiana Lightning”, and handed Guidry his first loss. While the Yankee starter was mentioned, no one bothered to say that Yankee-killer Mike Caldwell was pitching for the Brewers that night.

I might not have proclaimed a Yankee victory that quickly.

Steve Carlton had that same knack with his teams playing better behind him. How can you explain that his 1972 Philadelphia Phillies team? That year the Phillies won a total of 59 games, but managed to win 27 of his starts that season.

When pitchers throw strikes and work quickly, they keep their fielders in the game. And when fielders are happy and not bored in the field, they usually perform better.

Despite Lee only being 1-2 in his five Rangers starts, the team has picked up 3.5 games on the second-place Angels since Lee’s arrival. The arrival of Lee has set a different tone for this franchise and its players.

They have more overall confidence and know they are a true contender.

Third, the Rangers made this move FOR the playoffs, not to get to the playoffs. Although they have increased their lead with Lee in the fold, I still believe the Rangers would win the AL West regardless of if they acquired Lee or not.

This trade is similar to when the Angels traded with the Atlanta Braves for Mark Teixeira prior to the 2008 trading deadline.

The Angels had a great lead that year, but wanted to bolster their lineup for the potential matchup against one of the behemoths from the AL East. 

The Lee trade will work out much better than the Teixeira deal did for the Angels. As a proven, dominant ace, Lee will have a more influencing force upon a playoff series than does a single hitter in a lineup.

Lee has already shown he can dominate a World Series-winning lineup like he did last season against the New York Yankees. Overall, in four postseason starts, Lee was 4-0, with a 1.56 ERA and 0.818 WHIP, including two victories over the Yankees.

Lee will start two games in the first round, and depending how the games play out, could go three games in each of the seven-game series rounds.

If he pitches like he is capable (and why even doubt it?), an opponent has to pretty much guarantee it will win all the other games Lee does not pitch.

And with Lee in the No. 1 spot, all the other good Rangers pitchers slide down into the No. 2 and No. 3 roles.

Yankee fans? Do you feel confident with AJ Burnett going up against Rangers young 8-1, 3.31 ERA dynamo Tommy Hunter* with a Lee win already in the Rangers’ pocket? How about the rejuvenated C.J. Wilson firing BB’s against the lefty-suspect Yankee lineup?

New Yankee Austin Kearns better have a great night that game on National TV! No, I don’t believe he is up for that challenge.

*Hunter is a pretty darned good pitcher who breezed through the Rangers minor leagues. He was the ace at the University of Alabama when David Robertson was the Crimson Tide closer.

In fact, K-Rob blew the Super Regional against North Carolina in the ninth inning of a game which Hunter started and somewhat out-dueled Daniel Bard.

Just like how a good hitter acquired lengthens an already good lineup, Lee lengthens the pretty good starting rotation the Rangers already had.

That spells trouble for the opposition.

Fourth, as an economical pitcher who throws strikes, Lee regularly will pitch into the eighth and sometimes the ninth innings. For example, last year in his four postseason games, Lee threw two complete games, reached the ninth inning one start, and into the eighth in the fourth.

That means that in the other games Lee does not start, the Rangers will have a rested bullpen. And this side of the San Diego Padres, the Rangers have perhaps the best bullpen in the major leagues.

Lastly, Cliff Lee wants the damn ball.

He will not be babied by Ron Washington like a young hurler on an innings limit or pitch count. The Rangers know this is their window to the World Series, as Lee will likely not re-sign with Texas after this season.

And he will not ask out of a playoff game like Johan Santana did as a member of the Minnesota Twins back in 2004 against the Yankees. An elimination game, no less!

You might have to pry the ball out of Lee’s hands this postseason.

And what about coming to the Rangers in the July 9 deal?

“You want to pitch against the best teams,” Lee said. “You want to be the guy that’s expected to take the ball. You want that challenge. It’s a challenge. It’s the highest level. It’s playing against the best. It’s what you should want to do.”
I like that confidence.
The Rangers already had a great offense led by Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero, Nelson Cruz, and Michael Young. They already have a great bullpen with Neftali Feliz, Darren O’Day, Darren Oliver (two Darren’s make me want to watch a Bewitched marathon), and Frank Francisco.
And their starting rotation with Hunter, Wilson, and Colby Lewis was pretty good, too.
But the trade for Lee makes the Rangers the team to beat in the American League, and quite possibly in all of baseball.

Johnny Damon May Have Overplayed his Hand

December 12, 2009

I thought he was better than this. I thought that this time it would be more about the team, more about the fans, more about the prestige of putting on the Yankee Pinstripes.

I was wrong.

With Johnny Damon, no matter what he said in November after helping the Yankees win the World Series, is still only about the money.

And that is just plain stupid of Damon.

I wrote a piece recently saying it would be in Damon’s best interest to stay with the Yankees as long as he can. To stay hitting behind Derek Jeter, who gets on base an average of 40% of the time, and to hit in front of Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez would greatly enhance Damon’s career stats.

And after winning two rings and making $100 million during his career, Damon’s only section to fill on his career resume is consideration for the Hall of Fame. And playing in New York always increases your chances for the Hall consideration. (Sorry Padre and Royal fans). This is not to say that Damon is HOF material (I don’t believe he is Hall worthy), but other voters might see differently if Damon hangs on to get 3,000 hits. Check out his stats here.

And padding career stats would be easier in that Yankee lineup rather than say, the Chicago White Sox lineup or the San Francisco Giants lineup.

Damon is saying through his windbag agent, Scott Boras, there are teams who might be willing to pay for 3 or even 4 years of his services. Even now, after the Winter Meetings trade which brought Curtis Granderson to Yankees, reports indicate Boras and Damon are insisting on four years and around $45 million, while the Yankees are looking at two years at the most.

Damon and Boras thought they could outlast the Yankees.

Damon and Boras thought wrong. Although Boras has worked with Yankees GM Brian Cashman on several occasions (Teixeira, Alex plus Damon 4 years ago), they underestimated Cash, who had other ideas for the Yankees 2010 outfield.

Cashman traded for Granderson – getting younger, getting faster and getting better defensively. Manager Joe Girardi could easily slide Melky Cabrera to left field and have speedster Brett Gardner as the fourth outfielder. Also, newest Yankee, Jamie Hoffmann, (who is that guy sponsoring his BR.com page?) acquired in the Rule 5 draft is a right handed power bat who can play all three outfield positions. He is really good defensively, too, ranked the last few years as the Los Angeles Dodgers best minor league defensive outfielder.

What Damon and Boras keep spouting is that there is a market for Damon’s services. There isn’t. What teams are going to give Damon three or four years? What teams have seriously looked at Damon at all?

None. The teams often mentioned as possible destinations, the San Francisco Giants and Chicago White Sox, have actually been media speculations based upon team needs, not actual attempts by those teams to sign Damon.

And if the Yankees decide after their internal deadline (likely Christmas) for Damon to accept a one or two year deal, then the Yankees will turn elsewhere. And Damon might end up like Bobby Abreu last season, signing only a one year deal at $5 million. But again, what team is going to pay Damon considerable money like the Yankees?

Many big market teams like the Yankees (why they only want Damon for one year), Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels are trying to nurse through one year of a stop gap in left field. Get through one more year in order to participate in the expected Carl Crawford free agent sweepstakes next off season. Although the Red Sox offered Jason Bay a four year deal to play left field (and still could be interested in Matt Holliday), right fielder J.D. Drew could be gone after next season, either in a Mike Lowell type trade where the Red Sox pick up most of Drew’s 2011 salary, or through two escape clauses the Red Sox put into the original contract regarding Drew’s propensity for injury.

Crawford is widely expected to test the waters in his first opportunity at free agency, but with the prospects of the talented player going to one of those rivals, especially the Yankees or Red Sox, I expect the Rays will come to their senses and sign Crawford to a five year deal for around $80 million to keep him in Tampa. Even though Crawford was upset at the Rays a few months ago, a big contract with the only organization that he has known will soothe any ill will he might hold.

Although I want Damon back in New York in the #2 hole behind Jeter for 2010, what the Yankees should do just after Christmas is go Damon-lite.

With an ever crowded outfield corps with the additions of Granderson and Hoffman, the Yankees should package Gardner and a minor league pitcher (maybe Ivan Nova?) to the Kansas City Royals for LF David DeJesus, a New Jersey product. At 30, DeJesus is six years younger than Damon, a better defender and has been durable the last couple seasons. DeJesus put up a line of .281/.347/.434 with a 106 OPS+ last season and hit 13 home runs, the most he has had in one season. He also hit double digits in homers (12) in 2008.

DeJesus is similar to Damon that he was once a center fielder and was eventually moved to left field. He is a lefty hitter who hits left handed pitching well and would likely put up even better power numbers in Yankee Stadium.

As a bonus, the Yankees would save money, too. In this tough economy, even the Yankees are looking to save dollars (trading Brian Bruney to save $2 million, non tendering Chien-Ming Wang) and DeJesus is signed through next season for $4.6 million with a club option of $6 million ($500k buyout). If the Rays do not sign Crawford, the Yankees would definitely go after him with gusto, but he does re-sign, the Yankees could pick up DeJesus’ option. At that rate, both seasons would cost the Yankees less than it would take to have Damon in the lineup for only 2010 alone.

Johnny Damon is a good player, fits well in the Yankee lineup and would help the team immensely in 2010. But, his presence is not mandatory as the Yankees have other options at their disposal.

Damon has overplayed his hand to his detriment, both for his overall career numbers and possibly his bank account – which is the only thing it appears he cares anything about.


A Dominant World Series Performance while on the Mound at Yankee Stadium

October 29, 2009

An in-his-prime Cy Young Award winning pitcher was making the start in Game One of the World Series on the hill at Yankee Stadium (one of the few stadiums left that does not receive money for naming rights). He completely dominates the Bronx Bombers power laden lineup, and out dueled the Yankees ace left handed pitcher.

Having won the prior years World Series, his team was seeking to become the first National League team since the Big Red Machine in 1975-76 to repeat as a World Series Champions. The Yankees meanwhile, had not been to the Series in years and were looking to continue their comeback kid way of the prior playoff series.

However, on this Game One night only the Yankee shortstop and lead off hitter, Derek Jeter, crossed the plate, while a former Boston Red Sox hitter batting second for the Yankees had one of the few hits allowed by this veteran stud pitcher. 

A young slugger for this pitcher’s team hit two home runs, one a mammoth shot whose sound of bat meeting ball reverberated throughout the stadium, that is until the entire stadium went quiet. After the second home run in as many at bats, the way this starter was pitching, it was apparent to Yankee fans knew the game was likely out reach.  

Even this Yankee fan predicted that the Yankees would win Game One.

And on this night, the Yankee bullpen put gasoline on the fire, doing their part to allow that loss to materialize.

This pitcher had the Yankees waving at pitches all night, continuing his utter dominance in the post season. Up to this game, the pitcher started Game One in both prior series, was undefeated with a ridiculously low ERA and WHIP, handily defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers along the way.

His great start and solid offense from his teams lineup gave the Yankees thoughts that the Series might not go as they expected. They knew that even if they won the next couple games, they would have to face this ace once again.

After Game One, a Yankee hitter lamented that the next time his team “might have to beat that guy 1-0 or 2-1 the next time they face him.”

Could the Yankees beat this guy the second time around, likely going head to head again with that lefty Yankee ace on the hill?

Of course they can…and they already did! And that pitching rematch was one of the classic duels in World Series history, and the Yankees went on to win the World Series title.

Cliff Lee and 2009? Hardly.

We are talking about John Smoltz and 1996. He tore through the playoffs that season, and beat the Yankees in Game One , with Andruw Jones smacking the ball over the fence twice. Smoltz and Andy Pettitte both came back again in Game Five with masterful performances, only to see the Yankees win that duel 1-0. 

And that was AFTER the Yankees lost Game Two at home to a magician on the mound named Greg Maddux, similar to a magician the Yankees face tonight in Pedro Martinez.

So, all those prognosticators who think this 2009 Series has already taken a bad turn for the Yankees because of Lee’s dominance should look back at 1996. There was nobody better than Smoltz that season, and the Yankees beat him 1-0 the second time around.

MATSUI’S GAFFE

Anytime a ball is hit in the air within the infield, it is the runners job to get back to the bag. If the ball drops, it is the batter’s job to hustle down the first base line to beat a throw. Do your job and don’t worry about the other guy.

No matter what happened to that mini-pop up hit by Robinson Cano last night, Hideki Matsui should have been on first base immediately after the ball was hit. He never would have been safe on second anyway! Cano hustled down the line and thought he beat the relay throw, but he was actually out on the catch. Matsui needed to be back to the bag (and not on the infield grass!).

And where was the first base coach during all of this? Why was he not yelling to Matsui to come back to first? Stupid play all around and it goes to show that some ballplayers live on talent, and not on brains.

YANKEE HITTERS

Many times last night the Yankee hitters were consumed with home plate umpires Gerry Davis strike zone. Most of the times the strike zone was too tight as Cliff Lee, Phil Hughes and David Robertson were all severely pinched, but Cano and Melky Cabrera showed displeasure when strike calls were made.

Showing disgust toward the ump will get you no sympathy as the umps usually have long memories. As a hitter you will not get many calls your way after complaining.

Disgust on the field also takes the hitter out of his approach at the plate. While now a hitter is thinking about the SOB calling balls and strikes, the hitter should be concentrating on the pitcher and the count.

Don’t ever let the umpire dictate how you approach the at bat. If the zone is bigger than you thought, don’t swing at bad pitches early, but expand the zone with two strikes.

But players need to feel out the umpire and adjust accordingly. I would much rather see hitters voice displeasure than pitchers get squeezed. A bigger zone puts more balls in play. When I first began umpiring (now doing high school and college level baseball), I was told to start out thinking every pitch will be a strike, then after the ball is thrown find a good reason why it should not be.

WORKING THE COUNT – TAKING TOO MANY PITCHES

Rogers Horsnby was the greatest right handed hitter ever . His 1921-1925 seasons were absolutely sick. His first mantra was to GET A GOOD PITCH TO HIT. Ted Williams stuck to this mantra his entire career.

But now the game has changed to taking good pitches to hit. That is a bad move.

The Yankee hitters were taking too many fastballs down the middle early in the game. Do the Yankees really think they are going to pitch count Lee out of the game? This working the count is the biggest crock in baseball, especially the World Series game one. If the game was tight near the end, Charlie Manuel was NEVER going to pull Lee out of the game. He learned that lesson in the NLCS when he pulled Pedro too early and lost Game Two in Los Angeles.

The way to get Lee out of a game like that is to knock him around by spraying balls all round the field. And you do that by going after good pitches to hit early in the count.

You hear the announcers all the time saying, “So and so should be able to go another inning because he has a good pitch count.” Go another inning?

How about demanding to you manager that you will go nine innings and then shove the ball down the oppositions throat. Intimidate the other lineup by letting your ace dominate. Tell the other team, you can’t beat me and I won’t let you ease your minds by allowing the bullpen to come in this game. Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa made that mistake in the NLDS by removing Adam Wainwright after eight brilliant innings against the Dodgers.

UMPIRES

There was almost another umpire mistake on the Cano infield pop up, but the correct call was eventually made. But the real problem is not the lack of umpire knowledge, but that umpires do not like to break that cardinal rule of overruling another umpire, especially a veteran guy.

After the second base umpire called Cano out on Jimmy Rollins’ catch he should have called Matsui out also when he saw Ryan Howard tag out Hideki. He should have rules on the out at first immediately EVEN IF IT IS NOT HIS CALL. he is the only one who clearly saw the catch made, so he should have the say on the first base call, too.

It appears these umps are too timid to make an immediate call, and replay on everything will only make that worse. Umpires should run the game and not worry about feelings or god forbid, worry about the media.

And in the next TV contract negotiations, Major League baseball should tell the networks that the strike zone F/x garbage shown on every pitch should be outlawed. It leads to too many psuedo-baseball fans complaining about every pitch.

AJ BURNETT

I have read many pieces today that all the pressure is on AJ Burnett to live up to that $80 million contract and pitch the Yankees to victory.

Fans at the game should just let the guy pitch tonight without putting more pressure on him. He gets out of whack quickly and fans jumping down his throat will only aggravate the situation.

That is such garbage. Sports contracts are like investments and those disclaimers at the bottom of the prospectus or spoken really fast at the end of a commercial. These disclaimers say that “past performance is not indicative of future results.”

Burnett was paid that money based upon what he did last season, pure and simple. It does not indicate how he will pitch in “big spots” or “pressure games.”

Big contract’s don’t force players to play better. If that was the case, would giving CC Sabathia another $100 million last winter forced him to pitch better last night?

So, before Yankee fans boo every ball out of the strike zone thrown by AJ and boo every out Alex Rodriguez makes, just remember that these guys will be here many more years and as a fan, you are not making it any better or easier.

Let these guys play and leave them alone.

Yankees win tonight 7-3 as Pedro gets knocked around.


New Babe Ruth Footage Shows Rare Glimpse Of the Bambino On Defense

October 13, 2009

Recently, the home movies of a New Hampshire family contained new, never before seen footage of the legendary Babe Ruth.

The footage can be seen here: http://video.nytimes.com/video/2009/10/08/sports/baseball/1247465064285/the-great-bambino-resurfaces.html?th&emc=th

Several amazing factors derive from this new footage. One is that it is new on-field video of the greatest sports figure of all time. While the Bambino was one of the most photographed figures in American History, most of these images were still photos. Very little actual on-field video footage is known.

While the Babe is seen for about 60 seconds, one part reveals the competitive side of Ruth. He is shown striking out in the video, and appears to question the call by the home plate umpire. What is funny to watch is the next batter just wait around while Ruth gets “his two cents in” while the umpire, who does not want to hear anymore, just ambles away. The next batter, however, is not Lou Gehrig but appears to be Bob Meusel, who is taller and thinner. Also, in the video the lefty hitting Gehrig was shown hitting prior to Ruth’s strikeout.  

Also, since Ruth made his mark on baseball with his bat, 97 percent of the baseball images of Ruth are swinging a bat, or with offense in mind. Many early images of Ruth are of him pitching while a member of the Boston Red Sox. But, there are very few images of Ruth on the defensive side of the ball, giving this new video great excitement.

While Ruth argued balls and strikes with the umpire in this new video, Ruth’s competitive side was very famous from his pitching days. During a game in 1917, Ruth walked the first batter of the game, argued vehemently with the home plate umpire, purportedly slugged him, and was ejected.

Ruth’s replacement, Ernie Shore, promptly picked off the runner on first base, and retired the next 26 batter, finishing an improbable “perfect game.”  

I worked for several years as a writer/researcher for a major sports auction company, and collect old black and white baseball photographs. I have personally seen tens of thousands of original baseball photographs, and only a couple of images of Ruth are known, which depicts him as a defensive player.

And there is no video known showing him playing in the outfield. What is interesting about Ruth and playing right field, is that a right fielder usually has the best throwing arm of all the outfielders. They do have to make the longest throw towards third base to cut runners trying to advance from first to third.

But while Ruth had a pretty good throwing arm, he did not have as good an arm as Bob Meusel, who is thought to have the best outfield throwing arm of all time. But Ruth continued to play right field while Meusel manned left. Why?

Ruth’s vanity issue. Early in his career, Ruth lost a ball in the sun, and never was comfortable playing the sun field. That is why Ruth played right field at Yankee Stadium, which had the notorious sun field in left. Many times, Meusel played right field during away contests to get Ruth out of the sun. 

The two video archivists who were seeking to date the video have so far come up with the year 1928. I agree with that assessment.

This corresponds with three things. First, the Yankee uniforms do not have numbers, indicating the video is pre-1929, the first season the Yankees put numbers on their uniforms. Second, the advertisements around the stadium exactly match those in still photographs of the 1928 season. Third, the throng of a full house with “long shadows” indicates it was later in the day, and during hot weather.

Definitely not World Series or Opening Day, as those games were too cold for light colored shirts and jacketless gentlemen. A huge crowd was in Yankee Stadium during Sept. 9, a double header versus the Philadelphia Athletics, with the Yankees a half game out of first place entering the double header. 

Here are the box scores from each game of the DH. Game 1 and Game 2.

The opposition has light colored uniforms, similar to the A’s at the time, and according to media reports in 1928, the crowd that day was over 85,000.

Also, only for a two week stretch during their amazing careers did Lou Gehrig hit IN FRONT of Babe Ruth. Those were the games from August 25th (during the second game of a double header) to September 20th, when manager Miller Huggins needed the proverbial “something different.”

But what allows me to believe that this video was shot during this double header is the catching style of the man behind the plate. That style is reminiscent of Gordon Stanley (Mickey) Cochrane, the stalwart receiver of those great Philadelphia A’s teams of the late 20’s-early 30’s. And according to the records, Cochrane caught both games of that double header.

Several factors are wonderful about this new video.

First, it shows Ruth in never before seen imagery during on field action. And while Ruth is well known for being easy going, his temperamental nature of arguing on the field sometimes got the best of him.

I believe the game in the video was the first game of that Sept. 9 DH, as the first game was umpired behind the plate by Bill McGowan, one of the best umpires of the day. McGowan was easy going and ejected very few players in his day. That is likely why the umpire walked away from Ruth in the video.

The home plate umpire during the second contest was Brick Owens, a rougher sort. In fact, he was the same umpire Ruth punched out after one batter in that “perfect game” in 1917. With memories being notoriously long in baseball, I would think if Ruth said one word to Owens, he would be tossed from the game. Or maybe, it was Owens walking away from Ruth, and didn’t want to get socked again by the Bambino!

Second, during this time of the baseball season, it has allowed baseball fans to reflect back upon the greatness of the pennant race, one of the most heart stopping aspects of this great game. Two teams going down to the end of the season, playing a big series against each other with each game a matter of life and death.

Also, the fact that almost 10 Hall of Famers (players and umpires) participated in that Sept. 9th double header lends credence to this magnificent beast we call baseball.

And there was no bigger beast in the game than George Herman Ruth.