Tag Archives: dodgers

The greatest Red Sox / Dodger

After game 2 it was already clear this was an NLCS so great it had to go seven, and it did.  But game seven wasn’t a great game seven.  After six hard-fought games, the Brewers never really mounted a threat, and went down 5-1.  Keenest pain of all was that I got what I’d been waiting for the whole series; a chance for my beloved Jonathan Schoop to be the hero.  He came in to pinch hit for starter Joulys Chacin in the bottom of the second, with two on and two out and the Brewers down by 1.  Schoop grounded out.  He was 0 for the postseason in 6 plate appearances.

So here we have it, a Red Sox / Dodgers series, and so it’s time for my annual post about what player had the best combined career for both teams.  (Last year:  Jimmy Wynn was the greatest Astro/Dodger.)

The greatest Red Sox / Dodger?  A player I’d never heard of, even though he was just a little before my time:  Reggie Smith.  Played in one World Series for the Red Sox (1967) and three for the Dodgers (1977,1978,1981).  Went to the All-Star Game with both teams.  Hit 300 home runs, cannon of an arm in the outfield, got 0.7% of the vote the one and only time he was up for the Hall of Fame.  Well, here’s his all time distinction; with 34.2 WAR for the Red Sox and 19.4 for the Dodgers, he’s the greatest Red Sox / Dodger of all time.

Surprisingly, given how old these teams are, the top Red Sox / Dodgers of all time are mostly recent players.  Derek Lowe is the top pitcher (19.4 WAR for Boston, 13.3 for LA.)  Adrian Gonzalez, Manny Ramirez, and Adrian Beltre are also worthy of mention.   The only old-time player who was a contender was Dutch Leonard, who actually pitched for Boston in the last Red Sox – Dodgers World Series in 1916, notching a complete game win.  But that guy never actually pitched for the Dodgers!  My search got confused because it turns out there were two Dutch Leonards, the second of whom was a Dodger to start his career.  Doesn’t count!

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The greatest Astro/Dodger

The World Series is here and so it’s time again to figure out which player in the history of baseball has had the most distinguished joint record of contributions to both teams in contention for the title.  (Last year:  Riggs Stephenson was the greatest Cub/Indian.)  Astros history just isn’t that long, so it’s a little surprising to find we come up with a really solid winner this year:  Jimmy Wynn, “The Toy Cannon,” a longtime Astro who moved to LA in 1974 and had arguably his best season, finishing 5th in MVP voting and leading the Dodgers to a pennant.  Real three-true-outcomes guy:  led the league in walks twice and strikeouts once, and was top-10 in the National League in home runs four times in the AstrodomeCareer total of 41.4 WAR for the Astros, and 12.3 for the Dodgers in just two years there.

As always, thanks to the indispensable Baseball Reference Play Index for making this search possible.

Other contenders:  Don Sutton is clearly tops among pitchers.  Sutton was the flip side of Wynn; he had just two seasons for Houston but they were pretty good.  Beyond that it’s slim pickings.  Jeff Kent put in some years for both teams.  So did Joe Ferguson.

Who are we rooting for?  On the “ex-Orioles on the WS Roster” I guess the Dodgers have the advantage, with Rich Hill and Justin Turner (I have to admit I have no memory of Turner playing for the Orioles at all, even though it wasn’t that long ago!  It was in 2009, a season I have few occasions to recall.)  But both these teams are stocked with players I just plain like:  Kershaw, Puig, Altuve, the great Carlos Beltran…

 

 

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Novel World Series matchups

Next to the Yankees, the Cardinals, Dodgers, A’s, Tigers, and Red Sox are the teams with the most pennants, and all are still in the playoffs.  So you might think we’re very likely to see a World Series matchup we’ve seen before.  If the Cardinals win the pennant, that’s true:  they went up against the A’s in 1930 and 1931, the Tigers in 1934, 1968, and 2006, and the Red Sox in 1946, 1967, 2004.

But the Dodgers have never faced the Tigers or the Red Sox in the World Series.  Basically, they won lots of pennants but just played the Yankees again and again.

I’m still holding out hope for the Pirates to take the National League pennant.  If they do, they’ve got a chance to get revenge for their loss in the very first World Series, in 1903, 5 games to 3 to the team then known as the Boston Americans, now called the Red Sox.

 

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Marianne Moore, the baseball fan

I just learned from Chris Fischbach, publisher of the great Coffee House Press, that Marianne Moore once threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium.  I always thought she was a Dodger fan!  My hope is that she threw the pitch and then said “I, too, dislike them.”

I forgot that there was actually baseball in this poem!  See:

the same thing may be said for all of us, that we
                   do not admire what
                   we cannot understand: the bat
                             holding on upside down or in quest of something to
eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless wolf under
        a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse that feels a flea
                                                                                         the base-
       ball fan, the statistician—

 

(line breaks kind of destroyed by WordPress, sorry)

I’m actually not sure how to read this — I think the catalog here is not delineating who “we” are, but rather what we cannot understand and thus do not admire.  What makes a baseball fan hard to understand?  Maybe this makes more sense in 1924, when the first version of the poem is written, and we’re not so far from the point where the term “fanatic” for a baseball rooter acquired its permanent abbreviation.  But why is it hard to understand the bat looking for something to eat?  The other animals in the poem are, indeed, engaging in some weird repetitive unparseable motion, but the endless quest for food seems like something we fail to admire precisely because we do understand it.

The appearance of the “bat” before baseball is presumably on purpose but I don’t really understand the work it does.

Also, the famous phrase from this poem, “Imaginary gardens with real toads in them,” is not so far off as a description of mathematics.

Anyway, per BaseballLibrary, Moore was a Dodger fan for most of her life but felt so betrayed by the team’s move to Los Angeles that she switched to the Yankees.  Understandable but unforgivable.  She’s the baseball equivalent of those people who repent for their youthful liberal overreach by becoming right-wing culture warriors.

 

 

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