I went to the Giants/Dodgers game on opening night this year. While walking to my car after the Dodgers’ victory, I was nearly hit by a little person in a motorized wheelchair swerving wildly among pedestrians while blasting hip hop. Based on his driving, he was either drunk or really, really excited by the victory. And that’s why this is my favorite rivalry in baseball. You almost never see little people in motorized wheelchairs blasting hip hop after Red Sox/Yankees games. Onto the Sunday Night Baseball box score:
I was looking up attendance figures for the 1982 season the other day — exciting life, you’re jealous — and noticed this: In nine games hosting the Dodgers, the Giants drew 36,395 fans per game. In the rest of their games that year, they drew an average of 12,130.
Lately, the rivalry has been pretty lopsided, at least from a rivalry standpoint. For instance, the Giants side recently did this:
That’s like bringing a metaphorical knife to a literal gun fight.
So, another story. A postal worker walks into a bar called Diamond’s Cafe. The bartender is William Diamond, 28, whose father works as a prison warden and also owns this bar. Frank Krug, an accountant with the state’s emergency relief bureau, is in town to visit his father, and he’s having a drink. Charles Miller is waiting tables.
The Dodgers have just won 13-5 over the Giants, snapping a 10-game losing streak against the Giants. The Dodger fans were desperate for the win — “Plezzz beat the Giants,” somebody wrote in chalk outside the stadium before the game — and Dodger fan Joyce is ecstatic at the result. He wants to celebrate. He orders a drink, finishes it, orders another. But his friend Diamond, also a Dodgers fan, won’t let him feel good about the team, which still trails the Giants by 15.5 games.
“Whoever called them the Bums is right,” Diamond says, according to one account.
“Why don’t you root for a real team,” the Giants fan Krug taunts Joyce.
The pair keep teasing him for an hour, until Joyce has had 18 beers and starts screaming at them to shut up. He gets up to leave, mumbling something about getting even, while the rest of the bar’s 20 patrons laugh at him.
He goes to post office Station V, a few streets away, where he works. He breaks into the post office’s gun-safe and takes two revolvers. He goes back to the bar just after midnight, walks in, and shoots Diamond. Miller wrestles the revolver from him and runs outside to flag down a police officer. But Joyce pulls the second gun, takes aim, and shoots Krug through the heart, killing him. Diamond, shot through the left side, would die later.
Joyce flees, but he’s caught by a police patrol two blocks away. He tells the district attorney he doesn’t remember the shooting. “I must have gone haywire,” he says.
That was in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Seven months later, on Feb. 2, 1939, a jury convicted Joyce of murder.
Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness tweeted: “The best part of Huff’s horrendous night? Neither play goes in the books as an error.” Indeed, but this still deserves a GIF.
Orel Hershiser has really done a good job explaining pitching on ESPN games this year. But the famously nice Choir Boy is going to have to work on his meanness. “It’s really exposed the fact that Aubrey Huff is an average Major League outfielder,” he said after the above play.
Orel’s partner Bobby Valentine, however, has the critical role down.
Dan Shulman: “A couple plays that weren’t made that might have been made by a guy with more speed or more time in the outfield.”
Bobby Valentine: “Or more talent.”
Orel Hershiser: [prays for Valentine's soul]
Winning pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.
Hiroki Kuroda ranks ninth all-time in Wins Above Replacement for Japanese-born pitchers. He’s nowhere near catching Hideo Nomo, and neither is anybody else. This would be way cooler as a Sporcle quiz, but this will have to suffice:
- 9. Kuroda, 4.8
- 8. Hideki Okajima, 6.3
- 7. Aki Otsuka, 7.0
- 6. Masato Yoshii, 7.6
- 5. Daisuke Matsuzaka, 9.8
- 4. Takashi Saito, 10.2
- 3. Shigetoshi Hasegawa, 10.5
- 2. Tomo Okha, 10.7
- 1. Hideo Nomo, 20.6
Tomo Okha! (Source, obviously: Baseball-Reference.com.)
I love this video of Kuroda facing Hideki Matsui in 2002. The at-bat takes nearly 10 minutes, and after almost every pitch they have this great replay angle that lets you see Kuroda’s grip up close.
Pablo Sandoval, zero walks.
Pablo Sandoval is pretty funny. He’s funny because he swings at everything. He’s especially funny when he decides he’s going to be all patient like and he goes up there with a plan, and that plan is to take whatever pitch they throw even if it’s right down the middle. So, yes, it’s only three days, but you get this:
O-Swing is how often he swings at pitches outside the strike zone. Z-Swing is how often he swings at pitches inside the strike zone. So it’s only three games, but it’s three hysterical games, as he has somehow managed to swing far more often at balls than he does strikes.
Here are the 11 pitches he swung at on Friday. Two of them were swings and misses; two of them were singles; and the rest were foul balls and one flyout. Think you can guess which two were whiffs and which two were hits? (Sorry for the poor quality on a couple of them. MLB.tv was meh that night.)
Answers at the bottom.
Home run off Jonathan Broxton.
Game announcer Dan Shulman:
“There are those who think ever since Matt Stairs took him deep in the 2009 National League Championship Series that (Broxton) hasn’t quite been the same.”
Sure, except that, on June 26 of last year, Broxton had a 0.83 ERA in 32 innings. He had 48 strikeouts — that’s 14.5 per 9 innings — and five walks. If he’d kept it up over the course of a full season, that would be the 12th best ratio in major league history (minimum 50 innings). He hadn’t allowed a home run. So if we’re going to look for correlations as causes, we might consider things that happened between June 26, 2010 and June 27, 2010 — after which he has an ERA of nearly 8. Could it be:
- The partial lunar eclipse on June 26?
- The hospitalization of Dick Cheney that day? Maybe Cheney and the Project for the New American Century were behind Broxton’s success all along, just like 9/11? (JUST KIDDING!)
- The start of the G-20 summit in Toronto? Broxton is emotionally compromised by discussion of a global bank tax?
I always figured it was that Broxton threw 48 pitches against the Yankees on June 27, after pitching in three of the previous four games and warming up in the other one, and that he’s been secretly hurt ever since. But his velocity was the same before and after that outing, so now I’m assuming it’s the eclipse.
Bonus stray facts I picked up while working on all of this:
- Four people per year are killed in soccer fan-on-fan violence in Argentina.
- The umpire in the Dodgers’ win the night Joyce shot Krug was named Ziggy Sears.
- By Wins Above Replacement, Jose Canseco is the 14th most valuable Cuban-born pitcher ever, out of 23. And Dave Roberts — one of 215 players who were both Giants and Dodgers — is the third-most valuable Japanese-born position player ever.
Answers to D: Reading left to right, the whiffs are pictures 2 and 3. The hits are pictures 8 and 11. Yes, 11.