Anyone who says size does not matter has clearly missed out on some key moments in baseball history.
In the early 1900’s, President Roosevelt borrowed an old African proverb by stating, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” And while he may not necessarily have been referring to baseball, the saying seems to have made impact on the sport anyway.
The following is a list of the top 10 “big” moments, statistics and feats in baseball throughout the years.
The Biggest Bat
Babe Ruth played in the major leagues for 22 seasons, from 1914 to 1935. The 714 home runs he hit in that time span were smacked using the biggest bat in baseball history.
The 52 ounce bat swung by Ruth is the largest recorded bat size ever. Most players today use bats that average around 34-36 ounces in weight.
The Biggest Paycheck
The 10-year, $275 million contract broke A-Rod’s previous record of $252 million.
The Biggest Stature
The tallest player in Major League history is relief pitcher Jon Rauch, who measures six-feet, eleven inches in height.
Currently a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, Rauch first took the field on April 2, 2002. This year, Rauch will be competing for the closer role with the Jays.
The Biggest Mass
In 2005, first baseman Walter Young crushed the competition, weighing in at a whooping 322 pounds with a body mass index of 38.2, also the biggest in baseball.
Officially the heaviest player ever to grace a major league field, Young played only 15 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 2005 and batted .303.
Young played in the minor leagues until 2009. Currently, Young serves as a shift sergeant at the county jail for the Forrest County Sheriff’s Department in his home state of Mississippi.
The heaviest current MLB player is pitcher CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees who weighs in at 290 pounds.
The Biggest Home Run
Considered “the longest home run ever,” this ball is estimated to have travelled around 643 feet and was hit against the Detroit Tigers at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, Michigan.
However, the longest verifiable home run distance is about 575 feet, which was hit by Babe Ruth on July 18, 1921, to straightaway center field at Tiger Stadium (then called Navin Field). It landed across the intersection of Trumbull and Cherry.
Since 1982, when the technology for accurately measuring home runs was put in place, the longest homer stands at 535 feet. That ball was hit by Adam Dunn against Jose Lima of the Dodgers on August 10, 2004.
The Biggest Dollar Amount Ever Shelled Out For A Baseball
Mark McGwire’s 70th home run baseball, which was hit on September 27, 1998 off pitcher Carl Pavano, fetched a gigantic $3,054,000 dollars at Guernsey’s auction house in New York City.
Sold on January 12, 1999 to action figure and comic book creator Todd McFarlane, his collection also includes McGwire’s #1, 63, 67, 68 and 69 home run Balls, along with Sammy Sosa’s #33, 61 and 66 home run balls.
The over $3 million dollar payment is the most money ever shelled out for a baseball.
The Biggest Payroll
In the year 2010, the New York Yankees continued their streak of breaking the bank with a total team payroll of $206,333,389.
The next closest payroll was that of the Boston Red Sox at $162,447,333. That is a difference of almost $44 million dollars.
The Biggest Arm
Prior to the 2010 season, the fastest reliable recorded speed which a baseball had ever been pitched was 100.9 mph by Nolan Ryan of the California Angels at Anaheim Stadium in California on August 20, 1974.
Since that time, Ryan’s record was broken by Reds rookie Aroldis Chapman on September 24, 2010 at PETCO Park in San Diego. That pitch was clocked at 105.1 mph.
The Biggest Hitting Streak
Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees began an unprecedented hitting streak on May 15, 1941. 56 games later on July 16, the streak ended. This record still stands today.
The only other player who came close was Pete Rose in 1978. His 44 games hit streak lasted from June 14 to August 1, just 12 games short of the record set by DiMaggio.
The Biggest Determination
He is not called the “Iron Man” for no reason. Third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles, Cal Ripken Jr. set the record for the most consecutive games ever played with 2,632. The streak lasted from May 30, 1982 until September 19, 1998, spanning 16 seasons.
This feat blew away the previous record which was set by Lou Gehrig from 1925 to 1939 with 2,130 consecutive games.
Ripken played his entire career with the Orioles and retired after the 2001 season.
A-Rod photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Mantle photo by Wikimedia Commons
In a shocking move, Jayson Werth has signed a 7-year deal with the last place Washington Nationals, snubbing higher-profile teams like the Red Sox. After losing Adam Dunn to the White Sox and star rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg to Tommy John surgery, the Nats needed a seat-filler. Attendance in DC has been pathetic over the years due to a lack of success for the team and very high ticket prices.
In the last two years, the Nats ranked 24th and 23rd place for attendance out of 30 teams. The acquisition of Werth should produce a spike in season ticket plans, not to mention a spike in team batting average and runs scored. The exact terms of the contract have not yet been disclosed, but it is in the area of $126 million dollars.
The real shock is that Werth chose to sign with a last-place team. The Nats are trying to build a winner, but realistically, this will not happen overnight. In fact, their biggest obstacle may be the Phillies who have won the division 4-straight years now. But Werth has his ring already so maybe winning is now lower on his list than money and stability.
As for the Phillies, they now have a huge, gaping hole in right field to be filled. With Domonic Brown leaving Winter Ball early today due to being “tired and sluggish,” big questions remain as to his ability to fill the spot. Worst case scenario is that the left-handed Brown will have to platoon with righty Ben Francisco.
Another right-hander who may be able to platoon with Francisco or even Ross Gload is John Mayberry Jr. In 11 games with the big club in 2010, Mayberry batted .333 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI. He has been working on his stroke in AAA and, if Brown is not ready, Mayberry might be a better option.
There is a list of free agents as well that may also be able to fill the hole. The top choice for Charlie Manuel is probably Matt Diaz. The two men live in the same neighborhood and spend time together in the offseason. Diaz is a lifetime .301 hitter who got little playing time with the Braves last season. However, Diaz did find time to tackle a rouge Phillies fan on the field back in September. He is almost a folk-hero in Philly already after that feat.
A few other options include Jeff Francoeur, Carlos Quentin or Scott Hairston. With a little more creativity, the Phillies may wish to consider former Phillie Aaron Rowand. The Giants have indicated that Rowand is not in their plans going forward and may be willing to eat his huge salary just to get rid of him. Rowand struggled last year at AT&T Park. Perhaps the smaller, friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park can revive his bat?
A few other long-shot free-agents might be Willie Bloomquist, Joe Inglett or Jose Guillen. Whichever way the Phillies decide to go, it is clear that Werth has left very big shoes to fill. He will be missed.
Yes, Ryan Howard saved some Mets fans from certain death…on TV anyway. Last night both Howard and Chase Utley made guest appearances on the show “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” Howard may have gotten the biggest laugh of the night when he stopped one of the characters from attacking a few Mets fans:
Utley did not have many lines, which is probably a good thing. So while a career in acting is out, at least his hair looked terrific. And Howard got the best line of the night with, ” I just saw you bite that dude.”
Crossing Broad has the video of their segment, in case you missed it.
Free Agent News With a Dash of Sarcasm
– Pitcher Kyle Kendrick and outfielder Ben Francisco were both tendered contracts yesterday in order to keep them with the Phillies and out of free agency. Francisco was a no-brainer. And due to a lack of starting pitching depth, signing Kendrick makes sense as well…unless his 27.51 ERA with 2 outs and runners in scoring position bother you.
– The San Francisco Giants have asked Pat Burrell to return and signed him to an undisclosed amount. Apparently his 0 for 13 with 11 strikeouts World Series performance prompted the signing? Here is another fun Burrell fact; Pat “The Bat” has two World Series rings and only one World Series hit. It is good to be The Bat.
– Adam Dunn and his 38 home runs in the 2010 season signed a four-year, $56 million dollar deal with the White Sox. The Washington Nationals collective batting average immediately dropped about 100 points. Attendance will likely drop to a 15 fan per game average.
– Star closer for the Yankees, Mariano Rivera, 41, has been signed to a new two-year deal. As part of the contract negotiation, Rivera will still be allowed to use his Senior Citizen discount at the team gift shop.
– Jayson Werth has still not signed with the Phillies and hell has not yet frozen over. Coincidence?
Have a great weekend!
With both the division and home field advantage wrapped up, the plan for the Phillies back-up players this week is simple: Make the post-season roster. With the September call-ups plus the usual bench players, the Phillies have a lot of spare parts. A few of those will make the roster; the rest will sit and watch. After tonight against the Nationals, there are 4 games remaining to decide who will fill the roles.
A few position players who made a good case in tonight’s game were Domonic Brown in right field and Ben Francisco in center. Francisco went 2 for 4 and should be a lock for the roster. Brown had 1 hit, a stolen base and a walk; he will likely be competing with Greg Dobbs for a roster spot. Dobbs did not help his case with an error at third base tonight, no hits and he also dribbled a ball in front of home plate for an easy force out with the bases loaded and only one out.
Decisions in the bullpen will be a bit more complicated. After a fairly awful year, Danys Baez pitched mostly okay in one inning tonight, although he did walk a batter. David Herndon looked better with two easy outs in the 7th. The two lefties JC Romero and Antonio Bastardo each pitched one scoreless inning. Bastardo is going to have an electric arm if he learns to control it; but the problem with him and all the other bullpen pieces we saw tonight is a lack of consistency.
But under pressure against the Nats knowing he was competing for a roster spot, Bastardo turned up the heat and struck out the side. If a decision had to be made tonight, I would take Bastardo over Baez, keeping the two lefties.
Roy Oswalt started the game and pitched 5 innings allowing only an unearned run after the Dobbs error. Sadly, he did not get a win as he left the game with a 1-1 tie score after a Raul Ibanez home run. So Oswalt, if he does not pitch again in the regular season, will end with a 13-13 record. 12 of those 13 loses came when he was with the Astros.
Jimmy Rollins finally started a game tonight for the first time since September 8th. He moved well in the field and went 1 for 3 at the plate. Rollins played 5 innings total and should see more playing time as the week goes on in order to prepare him for the playoffs. The hamstring injury did not appear to be an issue tonight…fingers crossed!
While the Phillies had a few hits in the game, it was still a 1-1 tie in the 9th. Jose Contreras pitched the final inning for the Phils and threw only 3 pitches. Adam Dunn mashed a long home run off Contreras, giving the Nats a 2-1 walk-off win. While the loss makes little difference at this point, the performance by Contreras was not a good thing. However, Contreras has been fairly reliable most of the year.
The battle of the back-ups will continue tomorrow in DC; game time is 7:05pm.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Leading the NL East by 3 games, the Phillies started a very important home stand tonight. And while the Nationals are in last place, it seems that the Phillies, like the Braves last week, always struggle against this team. That was not the case tonight.
Roy Oswalt had a shaky start, allowing a run in the first inning. But after that, he got out his fly swatter and smacked the happy right out of the Nats. Over the next 5 innings, Oswalt did not allow another run. He struck out 7 and walked only one batter over 6 total innings.
Oswalt was even a threat with the bat tonight. In the bottom of the 1st, the Phillies went on a swatting spree, knocking Nats pitcher Jason Marquis all over the yard. Of 6 singles in the inning, one of them was from Oswalt who also collected his first RBI of the year on that hit. Later, Oswalt reached base again on a Nats error.
After 2 runs had scored in the first with one out, Wilson Valdez tried his best to hit into his 20th double play of the year. But his attempt was thwarted by the 2nd base umpire who got nicked with the ball, which then ricocheted away from the Nats fielder. One run scored before it was called a dead ball and the Phillies went on to score 6 runs in the inning. Who says umpires cannot be helpful?
Every starter in the game got a hit, except poor Chase Utley who had a hit stolen when first baseman Adam Dunn did a belly flop on a ball smacked up the 1st base line. It wasn’t pretty, but it was an out. It was also one of the few bright spots for the Nats who must have had sore backsides after getting swatted all night.
Although Valdez, with his stellar defense, prefers the head shot for a quick kill:
Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez led the offense with 2 hits and 2 RBI each; one of Werth’s hits was a solo homer. Carlos Ruiz also had 2 RBI on a home run in the 8th that extended the Phillies lead to 9-1. The bullpen held down the lead so the Phillies will remain 3 games in front of the Braves.
Tomorrow night at 7:05pm, the Phillies will try to repeat tonight’s performance with Kyle Kendrick on the mound.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The afternoon started out sunny, with the Phillies receiving their National League Championship rings before the game against the Nationals. While it was a tad anticlimactic when compared to last year’s World Series ring unveiling, it was still a nice celebration of a very good 2009 season. The ring is made of 14 carat white gold with rubies and diamonds, showing the NL trophy on one side and 2008, 2009 pennant flags on the other side. A baseball diamond on front has the Phillies script logo across it. Charlie Manuel’s ring is seen here to the right.
Today’s game was started by JA Happ who still seems to be struggling with his pitch location, although he only allowed 1 unearned run over 5 1/3 innings. But his pitch count was mounting as he had issues throwing strikes and fell behind a lot of batters. He should be going deeper into games; expect this to improve over his next few starts. In all, he got the job done by keeping runs off the board.
The Nationals pitching staff kept the red hot Phillies offense at bay for most of the game.
They did manage to score 3 runs in the 6th inning thanks to a Juan Castro 2-out, 2-run single. Castro had 3 hits on the day and is doing an admirable job filling in for the injured Jimmy Rollins. Greg Dobbs drew a bases loaded walk later that same inning. And earlier, Chase Utley hit a solo home run in the first inning; it was his 3rd homer in 2 games.
So with a decent 4-1 lead going into the 7th inning, the Phillies would have to rely on the bullpen. This was their first real test of the year with a small lead and sadly, they failed. Antonio Bastardo gave up 1 run in the 7th, but the real damage came in the 8th with Danys Baez on the mound.
Baez gave up a solo homer to Adam Dunn on one pitch to start the inning, which was not a good omen. He got one out, but then walked a batter and allowed a 2-run homer from pinch hitter Ryan Zimmerman. Those 3 runs put the Phils in a 4-5 hole. Ryan Madson tried to hold the Nats to just the one run lead in the 9th, but he too faltered, giving up 2 more runs.
Shane Victorino led off the bottom of the 9th with a solo homer, giving the Phils hope. Placido Polanco then got his 2nd hit of the game to give them a base runner. But Chase Utley struck out and then Ryan Howard flied out. Jayson Werth was their last chance and he flew out to center, sending the crowd home very unhappy with a 5-7 loss.
All of the recent wins and big numbers being put up by this Phillies offense have spoiled us a bit so this loss is tough to swallow. I am feeling a bit annoyed about it, frankly; this is the second time the Phillies have lost a game to the Nationals that they should have won. And this is also very bad news for the bullpen; if they cannot hold a lead against the lowly Nats, how will they perform against a real team? Ugh.
But tomorrow is a new day… (she said with a tinge of sarcasm ;o)… and Roy Halladay will make his Philly debut against the Florida Marlins. Game time is 7:05pm.
Castro photo by Jenn
After a depressing 4 game slide against the Astros, the Phillies bats came out swinging last night against the Nationals. Five home runs later, and it looked like this team may be finding its stride again. Raul Ibanez busted out of his slump with 2 of the 5 homers plus a single. The other 3 home runs came courtesy of Jayson Werth, Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley. The Phillies became only the 12th team in history last night to have at least 4 players with 30 or more home runs in a season: those 4 are Utley, Werth, Ibanez and Ryan Howard.
Although the forecast called for rain last night, Pedro Martinez got a break from Mother Nature and was able to pitch 6 2/3 innings uninterrupted. Martinez gave up 3 runs on 7 hits and a walk and did a good job keeping the Phillies in the game. He even showed some attitude when he signaled to a Nationals player that he had his eye on him.
Here are a few shots from the game:
Despite the 5-3 lead going into the 9th inning, the drama was not yet over for the Phillies. As usual and despite his struggles, Brad Lidge was sent in for the save and proceeded to self-destruct once again. A hit, then a hit batter and a walk loaded the bases. With only one out and the game on the line, Charlie Manuel emerged from the dugout, angrily tossed his gum across the dirt and took Lidge out of the game. Ryan Madson bailed him out by retiring the Nationals best hitters in order; Ryan Zimmerman struck out and Adam Dunn grounded out.
It seems to be crystal clear to everyone except Charlie Manuel that Lidge is DONE. He should be removed from the closer role immediately. This has gone on long enough and has turned into a major problem. I respect Lidge as a person and as the guy who got it done for this team in 2008, but this has gone too far. Put him on ice and try it again next year. If Manuel refuses to do what is necessary, then I believe GM Ruben Amaro Jr. needs to step in and take the decision out of his hands. I have never been a fan of GM’s interfering with the manager, but in this case, it appears that Manuel just cannot muster the courage to do the right thing.
I feel for Charlie, really I do. I would not want to be in his shoes, but the manager needs to put personal feelings aside and get this team back on track. Brett Myers has experience closing and he wants to do the job. Right now, Lidge looks like he is dreading having to step on the mound every time out. Myers is capable, he is healthy and last night, he pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings; it was his third straight scoreless outing since returning from hip surgery. Clearly, he is ready, willing and able to do the job.
I understand that Manuel does not want to crush the confidence of his closer, who is going to be with the Phillies for the next two years. However, Lidge will have an entire off-season to get over it. And yes, the Phillies have a lead in the division, but watch how fast that lead disappears when the Phillies do things like get swept in a four game series by the Astros and then nearly blow the next game against the Nationals because Manuel is worried about hurting feelings. No lead is safe when your closer cannot perform.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game….enjoy!
Photos by Jenn