alifeofknuckleballs

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If only they’d scored more runs….

On this day, September 17, in history, 24 years ago, the Colorado Rockies set an attendance record and also pounded Dodgers knuckleballer Tom Candiotti in the process.

In that September 17, 1993 game, Colorado ripped Candiotti for seven runs–all earned–in just 1.2 innings. Candiotti’s ERA went from 2.58 to 2.88, and his shot at the NL ERA title was essentially done.

Not many people remember this, but going into September, his ERA was 2.43, which lead the major leagues. The Dodgers that year, however, averaged 2.81 runs of support in his starts, according to Baseball-Reference.com, so he was only 8-10 on the year.

Interestingly, though, teammate Kevin Gross was 13-13–despite an ERA of 4.14. How did he manage 13 wins? Well, according to Baseball Reference, the Dodgers gave him an average of 5.22 runs of support in his starts.

Imagine being on the same team but getting completely different kinds of run support!

If the Dodgers had scored five runs in each of Candiotti’s starts in 1993–the same number of runs they averaged for Gross–he could have gone 24-7. He finished with a 3.12 ERA, seventh-best in the NL.

Hey, 24-7 wouldn’t have been a stretch. That same year, the Giants’ John Burkett was 22-7 with a 3.65 ERA. Tom Glavine was 22-6 with a 3.20 ERA. Consider that from May 1 to August 25, Candiotti had a 1.85 ERA in 22 starts–that’s a lot of games he should have won. Instead, he was just 8-2 with 12 no-decisions.

candiotti 93 stats

Anyway, here’s a video of him striking out the Phillies’ Mariano Duncan from April of that season.

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Overly critical and uninformed folks in the Toronto media…

Up in the press box at Vancouver’s Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium, people talk baseball and reminisce a lot.

A few days ago, I was sitting there working the scoreboard when the name “Perkins” was mentioned – a Toronto-based baseball columnist who had since retired.

I perked up when I heard that name and started ranting about that guy.

This goes back to Blue Jays baseball in the mid-’80s, when Toronto lost its first ever ALCS to Kansas City, blowing a 3-1 series lead. In 1987, the Blue Jays coughed up a huge lead in the final week of the season to lose the division to Detroit. In 1989, they made it back to the ALCS but were destroyed by the eventual champion A’s.

So, two trips to the playoffs and two exits in the first round (in those days, only the division winners advanced and played in the LCS for the right to go to the World Series).

In 1991, they made it to the ALCS again despite losing ace Dave Stieb for the rest of the season back in May. Tom Candiotti, the knuckleballer, was brought in and he was outstanding in his 19 starts, pitching to a 2.98 ERA but just a 6-7 mark due to poor run support.

They faced the Twins in the ALCS, a team that had never before lost a playoff game at the Metrodome. In 1987, the Twins had won all their games at home en route to their World Series victory.

Candiotti didn’t pitch well in Game One and the Blue Jays lost 5-4. They won the next game with rookie Juan Guzman pitching.

So, series tied 1-1.

The Blue Jays were now going back home for three straight games at SkyDome. Game Three, Jimmy Key pitched, and they lost in extra innings. Game Four, Todd Stottlemyre started and they were blown out. Game Five, Candiotti started, and left with a 5-2 lead (and inherited runners on base). Mike Timlin, Duane Ward, and David Wells all failed in relief. Jays lost 8-5.

Naturally, the Toronto media, led by that guy “Perkins,” blamed Candiotti for the series loss.

Excuse me? You’re tied 1-1 going home for three straight games, and you blame the Game One starter? In the NLCS that year, Tom Glavine lost Game One for Atlanta vs. Pittsburgh. Guess what? The rest of the starters – Steve Avery and John Smoltz – stepped up and the Braves won in seven!

Did Stottlemyre step up? No. Did Key win his start? No.

And yet Perkins and the rest of the Toronto media – there were plenty of them who did the same thing – assigned blame to the Game One starter.

Did these guys even know baseball? You blame the Game One starter when the series was tied 1-1 and the team lost three straight? What planet were these media people from?

Of course, over the years, when Toronto missed the playoffs and more recently, when the Jays made it back, Perkins and the rest of these idiots bring up Candiotti’s name as the reason they lost in 1991.

Totally biased and ridiculously stupid, these guys were.

Anyway, that was my rant that day in the press box when someone brought that name Perkins up. How dumb were those guys covering baseball in Toronto? Really dumb.

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On TSN Radio to talk sports books…

Here’s an interview that I did on TSN1040 Radio earlier in the week with Vancouver Canadians broadcaster Rob Fai:

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My latest writing project…

I’ve been away from this site for months – so it’s time for an update.

I’d been busy with teaching and writing, and therefore hadn’t had time to post anything here.

The project I’ve been working on is a book on the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s a book about the Dodgers’ last World Championship team – and of course I’m rooting against them this year! So, my book will be more meaningful since it will still be the last ever Dodgers team to win a World Series.

Through the help of former Dodger general manager Fred Claire, I’ve been able to talk to 15 ex-players and coaches for this book. It’s been a terrific experience interviewing them to get their memories about that 1988 team.

Finding a publisher has proven to be tricky. Triumph Books showed interest but ultimately said no – they’d published a book on that team some time ago and it was too soon for a repeat. Another publisher looked at my submission and we had discussions, but they decided against taking on this project.

So, we’ll see what happens as I get in contact with others about this book.

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Doug Jones Story

The Single-A season in Minor League Baseball has just started, and I’m pleased to share that my story on former Indians closer Doug Jones made it into the 2016 Vancouver Canadians program book. Check it out starting on page 48 here.

Get a copy of the program book for $5.00 if you’re at the ballpark!

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