Nation STATion: Talking baseball . . . to myself

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Nation STATion: Talking baseball . . . to myself

By Bill Chuck
Special to CSNNE.com

I talk to myself.

There, I admitted it. Does it make me feel any better? No, not really. Ive said it to myself numerous times.

You see when you write baseball like I do, often seven days a week, you need to stay fresh, innovative -- okay, different. Writing about stats too often can be dull, dreary or maniacal. I believe that stats can be interesting and can tell stories. It all depends on what questions they ask or answer.

And thats when I start talking to myself. I ask myself questions that I find interesting based on what goes on in the current baseball scene. Then, I try to think about the questions that you would enjoy reading about as well.

Here is a typical conversation I had with myself.

Hard to believe that the old guy is proving to be one of the rocks of the team. Thank goodness for Tim Wakefield, huh? That was another really steady, innings-eating performance last night. Wake now is 5-3 and has 198 wins, heres my question to you, Bill: How many different teams has Wake beaten?" Tim Wakefield has beaten 27 out of the 30 MLB teams. He has a 0-0 record against the Astros in two starts and 0-1 record in two starts against the Pirates. The only team he has never faced is his Sox. Hes won 21 games against the Rays and now18 against the Jays and 17 against the Tigers.

"Well, it may have been unnerving again, but Jonathan Papelbon picked up another save last night. He now has 19 saves on the season. Who is the Sox all-time leader in 20 save seasons?"
I guess we are going to have to proclaim Pap as the greatest reliever in Sox history. He leads the club with 207 saves all-time and his next save will give him six seasons of at least 20 saves. Dick Radatz (104 saves) had four seasons, Jeff Reardon (88 saves) three and Derek Lowe (85 saves), Lee Smith (58 saves) and Bob Stanley (132 saves) had two each.

"Derek Jeter picked up a double last night in the Yanks loss to Cleveland. He needs three hits to get to 3,000 and hopefully will do it this weekend against Tampa so we dont have to hear about the chase after the All-Star break. Nobody should begrudge the great Yankee, Derek Jeter, getting his 3,000 hits. He has been a role model and a great representative for the game of baseball. But I was wondering: Which team has given up the most of Jeters hits?"
If you guessed Boston . . . Youre wrong! The Orioles have given up 303 hits. The Sox have surrendered 286, one more than the Blue Jays.
"Okay, Bill you have me interested in 3,000 hits now. The last member of the Sox to reach the 3000-hit mark was the Sox captain Carl Yastrzemski. Who did Yaz pick up his 3000th hit against?"
If you said the Yankees . . . Youre right! The date was Sept. 12, 1979 and it was a ground ball just out of the reach of Yankee second baseman Willie Randolph with two outs and no one on in the bottom of the 9th inning of a 9-2 loss. Yaz became the 15th major leaguer to reach the milestone. Derek Jeter will be the 28th member of the club. By the way, even the great ones feel the pressure. Prior to the big hit, Yaz had been 0-for-10, 1-for-18 and 13-for-78.

"Lance Berkman is having a terrific career revival with the Cardinals. Hes hitting .290 and Tuesday night, the Big Puma hit his 23rd homer of the season and the 350th of his career, tying him with Chili Davis for fourth on the all-time homer run list for switch-hitters. Do you know who the top five Red Sox switch-hitter home run hitters are?"
I didnt, but I do now:1. Jason Varitek 1872. Reggie Smith 1493. Reggie Jefferson 504. Carl Everett 485. Bill Mueller 41
"It was weird not having Adrian Gonzalez in the lineup last night. Prince Fielder played for the Brewers yesterday against the D-Backs. And, why do you care? Well, now since the start of the 2006 season Fielder has played in 885 games and Gonzo has played in 884. (Okay, that is a tad maniacal to be tracking that.) Numbers cant measure how much we love Adrian Gonzalez. He is my clear choice for the first-half AL MVP (yours too, I presume). He is hitting .348 with 16 homers and 75 RBI. The question here is what kind of numbers does Gonzo have to put up to be the Sox leader in the Triple Crown categories since 2000?"
In 2000, Nomar Garciaparra hit .372. In 2002, Manny hit .349. In 2006, David Ortiz hit 54 homers. In 2005, Big Papi hit 47. In 2005, Ortiz had 148 RBI and Manny had 145.

"Ill withhold comment on those last two categories other than to say, I would love to see A-Gon reach the 50150 mark.

There was another rain delay last night, this one was a brief 40 minutes. I wonder what other people do during these breaks in the action. I know, when Im not at the park talking over the music that attempts to drown out conversation, I surf other games. I also try to think of other little statistical nuggets that are interesting. So, heres my final question: What do these pitchers have in common: Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter, Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins, Jack Morris, Mike Norris, Jim Perry, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Matt Keough?"

They are the pitchers who gave up Jerry Remys seven career homers.

"Good one. By the way, did you ever notice that the RemDawg never talks about what it was like to face Dennis Eckersley? Maybe its because Jerry was 1-for-14 against the Hall of Famer. Remy did a lot better against another HOF-er, Goose Gossage, hitting .345 (10-29).

Okay Bill, thanks for your time.

Thank you, Bill. Its been a pleasure as always. See you next week.

And, Ill see you next week.

Bonus Stat

According tohttp:www.hittrackeronline.com here are the true distances of the six Sox homers Thursday night against the Orioles pitchers:
Ortiz - 424 feet
Gonzo - 421 feet
Pedey - 418 feet
Reddick - 413 feet
Jacoby - 405 feet
Salty - 388 feet

That's almost half a mile (.467), the equivalent of walking from Yawkey Way and Van Ness to Beacon and Park Drive.

Felger: Crazy can be good, but Sale needs to harness it

Felger: Crazy can be good, but Sale needs to harness it

Chris Sale brings with him to Boston some attitude. He also brings a measure of defiance and, perhaps, a little bit of crazy.

All of which the Red Sox starting staff just may need. And if Sale pitches as he has for much of the past five years, he'll probably be celebrated for it.

I still wonder how it will all play here, especially if he underachieves.

What would we do to him locally if he refused to pitch because he didn't like a certain kind of uniform variation the team was going with? What would we say if he not only refused to pitch, but took a knife to his teammates' uniforms and the team had to scrap the promotion? Sale did exactly that in Chicago last year, after which he threw his manager under the bus for not standing by his players and attacked the team for putting business ahead of winning.

All because he didn't want to wear an untucked jersey?

"(The White Sox throwback uniforms) are uncomfortable and unorthodox,'' said Sale at the time. "I didn't want to go out there and not be at the top of my game in every aspect that I need to be in. Not only that, but I didn't want anything to alter my mechanics. ... There's a lot of different things that went into it.''

Wearing a throwback jersey would alter his mechanics? Was that a joke? It's hard to imagine he would get away with that in Boston.

Ditto for his support of Adam LaRoche and his involvement of that goofy story last March.
 
LaRoche, you'll remember, retired when the White Sox had the nerve to tell him that his 14-year-old son could not spend as much time around the team as he had grown accustomed to. Sale responded by pitching a fit.

“We got bald-face lied to by someone we’re supposed to be able to trust,'' said Sale of team president Kenny Williams. ``You can’t come tell the players it was the coaches and then tell the coaches it was the players, and then come in and say something completely different. If we’re all here to win a championship, this kind of stuff doesn’t happen.”

On what planet does allowing a 14-year-old kid in a clubhouse have anything to do with winning a title? In what universe does a throwback jersey have anything to do with mechanics? If David Price had said things that stupid last year, he'd still be hearing about it. And it won't be any different for Sale.

Thankfully, Sale's defiance and feistiness extends to the mound. Sale isn't afraid to pitch inside and protect his teammates, leading the American League in hit batsmen each of the last two years. He doesn't back down and loves a fight. And while that makes him sound a little goofy off the field, it should play well on it.

In the meantime, the Sox better hope he likes those red alternate jerseys they wear on Fridays.

E-mail Felger at mfelger@comcastsportsnet.com. Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 FM. The simulcast appears daily on CSN.

With trade rumors finally over, Sale shifts attention to dominating in Boston

With trade rumors finally over, Sale shifts attention to dominating in Boston

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Chris Sale had been the subject of so many trade rumors for the past year that he admitted feeling somewhat like "the monkey in the middle.”

On Tuesday, the rumors became reality when Sale learned he was being shipped to the Red Sox in exchange for a package of four prospects.
    
It meant leaving the Chicago White Sox, the only organization he'd known after being drafted 13th overall by Chicago in 2010. Leaving, he said, is "bittersweet.''
     
Now, he can finally move forward.
     
"Just to have the whole process out of the way and get back to some kind of normalcy will be nice,” said Sale Wednesday morning in a conference call with reporters.

Sale had been linked in trade talks to many clubs, most notably the Washington Nationals, who seemed poised to obtain him as recently as Monday night.

Instead, Sale has changed his Sox from White to Red.

"I'm excited,” he said. "You're talking about one of the greatest franchises ever. I'm excited as anybody. I don't know how you couldn't be. I've always loved going to Boston, pitching in Boston. (My wife and I) both really like the city and (Fenway Park) is a very special place.”
     
It helps that Sale lives in Naples, Fla., just 20 or so miles from Fort Myers, the Red Sox' spring training base. Sale played his college ball at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.
     
"Being able to stay in our house a couple of (more) months,” gushed Sale, “it couldn't have worked out better personally or professionally for us.”
     
Sale joins a rotation with two Cy Young Award winners (David Price and reigning winner Rick Porcello), a talented core of mostly younger position players and an improved bullpen.

"There's no reason not to be excited right now,” said Sale. "You look at the talent on this team as a whole... you can't ask for much more.”

Sale was in contact with Price Tuesday, who was the first Red Sox player to reach out. He also spoke with some mutual friends of Porcello.

That three-headed monster will carry the rotation, and the internal competition could lift them all to new heights.
     
"The good thing in all of this,'' Sale said, "is that I can definitely see a competition (with) all of us pushing each others, trying to be better. No matter who's pitching on a (given) night, we have as good or better chance the next night. That relieves some of the pressure that might build on some guys (who feel the need to carry the team every start).”

But Sale isn't the least bit interested in being known as the ace of the talented trio.

"I don’t think that matters,” he said. "When you have a group of guys who come together and fight for the same purpose, nothing else really matters. We play for a trophy, not a tag.”

Sale predicted he would be able to transition from Chicago to Boston without much effort, and didn't seem overwhelmed by moving to a market where media coverage and fan interest will result in more scrutiny.

"It's fine, it's a part of it, it's reality,” he said. "I'm not a big media guy. I'm not on Twitter. I'm really focused on the in-between-the-lines stuff. That's what I love, playing the game of baseball. Everything else will shake out.”

After playing before small crowds and in the shadow of the  Cubs in Chicago, Sale is ready to pitch before sellout crowds at Fenway.

"I'm a firm believer that energy can be created in ballparks,” he said. "I don't think there’s any question about it. When you have a packed house and everyone's on their feet in the eighth inning, that gives every player a jolt.”