Archive for category Baseball
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.
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!
Yes, we’re almost a month into the 2016 season and this is only the first post of the new campaign here on A Life of Knuckleballs! (I guess our coverage here is just like “The Baseball Network” way back when – haha.) Yes, we know that Steven Wright of the Red Sox has surprised quite a few people with his strong start to the season – albeit with a losing record of 1-2 despite his 1.40 ERA – and it’s no surprise to me personally that R.A. Dickey continues to struggle, but the first post of the year deals with a couple of knuckleball pitchers from the 1980s and 1990s.
And yes, I realize that it was 21 years ago this week that the Red Sox signed Tim Wakefield. But c’mon, he gets a lot of press – and has gotten plenty of accolades over the years – so I’ll take a pass on that one other than to mention this piece of history in one line.
What we’re going to do instead here in this first post is post an interview that Seamheads.com, which covers the Red Sox, did with Tom Candiotti this week. As mentioned near the end of the hour (after Candiotti left), the guys noted the ex-Indian and Dodger knuckleballer averaged only one wild pitch per 30 innings for his career – great control for a knuckleball pitcher.
And we pay tribute today too to Charlie Hough as he pitched the first game in Marlins history and beat Orel Hershiser and the Dodgers back in 1993:
We’ll post more stuff throughout the season, so catch up with you later!
Had the opportunity to chat baseball and about my book “Tom Candiotti: A Life of Knuckleballs” on Vancouver Canadians Game Day with Rob Fai on TSN 1040.
Here’s the part of the program where I talked about the book and about the Blue Jays:
To me, there’s no comparison with Tom Candiotti on the 1991 Blue Jays and R.A. Dickey on the 2015 team. As I’d mentioned on the program, Candiotti in 1991 was looked upon to lead the young pitching staff (one that included rookies Mike Timlin and Juan Guzman as well as youngsters David Wells and Todd Stottlemyre). His innings took pressure off of the bullpen as well as the other starters. Candiotti, in fact, nearly won the 1991 American League ERA title – losing it to Roger Clemens in the final week of the season. (Candiotti, who led the ERA race in late September, finished at 2.65 while Clemens was at 2.62.)
As for Dickey? As I’d noted, he’s basically a six-inning pitcher and he might not even be part of the postseason starting rotation (assuming Toronto makes it to the playoffs).
I got cut off when I was talking about rooting for a guy like Candiotti, but what I’d wanted to say there was that how can one not root for the guy? He was a guy who went undrafted, developed elbow problems that required surgery before he even got to the big leagues, underwent Tommy John surgery and became the second player to ever appear in the majors after the operation, and reinvented himself by throwing a knuckleball after two seasons in the bigs where he was a conventional pitcher. The guy nearly won the ERA title twice, and finished his career with more than 150 victories. How can one not root for a guy like that? Had social media existed then, his story would have been more recognized and remembered.
A couple of items from Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez’s autobiography, Pedro (by Martinez and Michael Silverman):
The first excerpt is Martinez talking about what led to his first MLB start.
Even though I never had any physical issues with my right shoulder while I was a Dodger, I sensed that there was more to me being parked in the bullpen and not in the rotation. They said they did not have a vacancy there, but things got weird.
In the middle of September, the Dodgers did ask me to start, in Colorado. It was Tom Candiotti’s turn, but either he or the Dodgers or both decided that a knuckleballer at mile-high altitude was a bad idea. So they told me I’d get my first big-league start at Coors Field. And I had nothing—I blew up like a balloon. Maybe it was pitching on five days’ rest after five months of pitching every other or every day, maybe it was the thin air, maybe it was both.
—Page 78, Pedro
When Martinez then was traded from the Expos to the Red Sox, he made his Boston debut on Opening Day in 1998 against Candiotti and the Athletics in Oakland.
The Athletics started my old Dodgers teammate, the knuckleballer Tom Candiotti. … Seeing Candiotti also reminded me how he was the starter who Tommy Lasorda decided to rest late in the 1992 season, when we were in Colorado and Tommy thought the Coors Field bandbox would be a good place to make my first major league start.
—Page 138, Pedro
Well, that’s very convenient, blaming the knuckleballing Candiotti for his having to get lit up in Colorado.
- At the time, the Rockies played at Mile High Stadium, not Coors Field.
- Martinez’s first start was in 1993, but for some reason “1992” was written on page 138.
- And finally, Tom Candiotti didn’t bail out of his start in Colorado. A simple check on Baseball-Reference.com reveals that Candiotti actually pitched earlier in the series, so Pedro obviously misremembered and nobody bothered to fact-check. Just blame the knuckleballer, right?
And besides, if you’ve read Tom Candiotti: A Life of Knuckleballs, you would already know that Candiotti’s start in Colorado late in that 1993 season was one of the reasons the knuckleball specialist lost the National League ERA title that year!
But to blame a knuckleball pitcher for your failures…it seems that’s what always happens.