Do some research before posting crap…

The Internet has its obvious advantages – which I don’t have to tell you about. It, however, has its disadvantages as well, and one of the biggest is that anybody can post things online.

Take this guy who “tried out for the Phillies in 1987.” He was commenting on whether or not Barry Bonds would have broken the major-league home run record….

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If this guy was a baseball fan as he suggests, then how come he didn’t realize that 1994 was the strike season? Read the following excerpt:

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Now, the guy clearly was referring to 1994 as one of the seasons Bonds went on the DL. Uhm, no. That year, the Giants played 115 games before the strike hit. Bonds appeared in 112 games. So, nice try.

Learn to do proper research – heck, none was needed to begin with because most baseball fans remember ’94 as the strike year – before posting crap.

Gutless.

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A whipping boy for each team…

On Wednesday, news broke that the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani might require Tommy John surgery, and I had an interesting discussion with a friend about baseball.

Now, I’ve thought all year that the Angels were a team capable of sneaking into the playoffs, and I said this on TSN1040 earlier in the summer even when Seattle had jumped out to a huge lead in the wild-card race. I’m no fan of either ballclub, but I just thought the Mariners were pretenders and the Angels might be a team to catch them.

Regardless, I said from day one that there was too much hype about this Ohtani kid. He’d suffered injuries in Japan prior to coming to North America, and from what i understand, the schedule in Japan is not the same as the 162-game grind in Major League Baseball. So, for me, the fact that Ohtani has had injuries this season is no surprise.

Then, the discussion became the fact that I’ve often criticized Ohtani on the Angels and James Paxton on the Mariners. And Doug Fister, on every team he has pitched for. I acknowledged the fact that on every team, there’s probably a favorite whipping boy for me to pick on.

But I then commented that Mark Shapiro, the president of the Blue Jays, would not be such a person for me – despite the fact that many Toronto fans whom I know like to crucify him.

Why would I not pick on Shapiro? Simple. As a journalist-type, as a writer, I don’t have any bias when it comes to liking or hating various teams. I try to look at it as being objective. I root for people, individuals who have been kind enough to help me along the way.

The writing journey that I’m currently on first began when I was writing Tom Candiotti’s biography. At that time, I emailed or sent letters to players, managers, and executives who had had dealings with Candiotti during his career. General managers and managers such as Joe Klein, Art Howe, Pat Gillick, Doc Edwards, Fred Claire… and Shapiro responded and were receptive to my interview requests.

For me, I don’t forget that. I certainly appreciated their time and the fact they were willing to spend a few minutes chatting with me about that book.

So, in my book, Mark Shapiro is a first-class human being, a guy that I would root for. At the end of the day, it’s not about wins and losses. It’s about the human side of things. Mark Shapiro, in my book, is a Hall of Famer – to me.

I don’t forget these things.

Possible talking points for next radio show or in the future…

Okay, so I have all kinds of ideas and opinions, but when I go on air, sometimes I forget the points or don’t have a chance to express them. Moving forward, I will try to update those thoughts right here – so that I refer back here as a reference for myself. This time, I included the 1994 Expos because they were a talking point in Vancouver as the local Single-A Canadians wore throwback jerseys featuring Montreal’s former baseball team.


Speaking Points:

Mariners. Give Shantel Chand some credit. Weeks ago we were all in this studio, and Shantel suggested that Oakland might be a dark horse. But I looked at the standings on Tuesday (July 24). And what jumped out was that Seattle was 20 games over .500 but the run differential was plus 1.

The Angels’ run differential was plus 22 and they weren’t even .500. Again, I checked the standings a couple days ago and noted this. And the thing is, the Angels had allowed fewer runs than the Mariners, and scored more runs. But the Angels had a worse record! So, I’m going to say that Seattle has been lucky.

And James Paxton. Again, I talked about this, on this show, before. He has never pitched a full season in the majors. He’s been on the DL almost every year. He’s got a history of injuries. If that’s your staff ace, you’re not making the playoffs. I mean, as Lou discussed a couple of weeks ago, this rotation is a bunch of no-names with ERAs not that impressive. They’ve been getting the job done for the most part, but not a playoff-type rotation, not one that can get you into the playoffs.

 

1994 Expos–So many people in Canada cry about how the 1994 strike screwed the Montreal Expos. First of all, there was no guarantee they were going to make the playoffs. There were almost 2 months left. In 1991, the Dodgers were 9.5 games ahead of Atlanta at the All-Star break. The Dodgers missed the playoffs. In 1993, the Giants were 10 games ahead of Atlanta in July. The Giants missed the playoffs. In 1995, the Angels would have an 11.5-game lead over Seattle. The Angels collapsed. How do we know the Expos wouldn’t have collapsed? Those teams had great players too.  

Pedro Martinez. As a rookie in 1993, Pedro threw 107 innings for the Dodgers. 1994 was his first full season. He wasn’t going to pitch effectively for the entire season. He was 11-5, 3.42 at the time of the strike. People forget this, so I’ll tell you guys here. In the month of July in 1994, Pedro’s ERA was 6.89 in six starts. So, there were signs that he was showing fatigue. Half of those starts were mediocre or horrendous. There was no guarantee that he was going to pitch effectively down the stretch. And I mean, Randy Johnson once lost 7 consecutive starts in the playoffs. So, anything can happen.

John Wetteland. He was the 1996 World Series MVP with the Yankees. But people forget in 1995, in Wettleland’s first taste of postseason baseball, he was so bad that Buck Showalter refused to put him into the game against Seattle in Game Five, and David Cone gave up the lead and the Mariners won it in extra innings against Jack McDowell. Wetteland gave up the go-ahead grand slam to Edgar Martinez the night before and had looked bad earlier in the series. So, Wetteland was the closer for Montreal in 1994. Had the Expos made the playoffs in 1994, Wetteland was no sure thing for Montreal.

Felipe Alou. He took the 2003 Giants to the playoffs. They had the best record in the National League. Lost in the first round to the Marlins. Their RF Jose Cruz was a gold glove player in the regular season. Dropped a flyball in extra innings in game 3. THings like that happen. It cost the Giants the series. Felipe Alou was the manager. There’s no guarantee in any playoff series who’s going to come out on top.

Trades. There were a lack of trades. I remember because it was on the sports news at the time. The Dodgers had a horrendous bullpen. They wanted to trade for Randy Myers from the Cubs. But that didn’t happen because teams knew there was a strike coming so nobody made any significant deals. Atlanta could have bolstered its lineup the way it did with McGriff in 1993. I mean, Randy Milligan was the Expos’ first baseman. So.

Unfortunately, too many people in our society think like THIS guy….

Last Sunday, news broke about the death of former NHL goaltender Ray Emery. Here’s what one person – who refers to himself as “Beep Beep Ribby Ribby” – decided to write on Twitter:

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That’s disgusting – but, you know, there are lots of people out there who think like that. It just goes to show that some of us don’t treat others like actual human beings. There are those who, unfortunately, look at other human beings as inferior or unworthy.

There are also those who view celebrities – whether they’re athletes or politicians or entertainers – as people to attack and lash out at, particularly on social media. There have been attacks on Twitter and other social media on musicians because of their unwillingness to criticize politicians. There have been attacks on athletes for not making the clutch plays – and even for deciding to go to a new team.

A lot of people out there do not have compassion for other human beings. That’s just plain wrong.

A look-back at the career of 1993 Cup champion Paul DiPietro

Let me first say this to get it out of the way: I’m not a Habs fan and I have never been a Habs fan. Growing up, I loved the Bruins and I thought Denis Savard (who played for Montreal in the early 1990s) was awesome – but I never rooted for the Canadiens in 1993. 

Having said that, the Canadiens’ 1993 Stanley Cup run is a part of hockey history, and that championship is magnified every spring when the last Canadian-based team alive is eliminated – as no Canadian team (not Montreal Canadiens, but Canadian, period) has won a Cup since then. Even if I am not – and was not – a fan, it’s a story that still must be discussed. 

June 9th, 2018, marks the 25th anniversary of the Cup clincher. To “celebrate” that, here’s sportswriter and blogger Rajan Nanavati with a guest post, discussing the career of forgotten Cup champion Paul DiPietro – an unsung hero who was a key contributor during Montreal’s 1993 run. 

K.P. Wee


The Interesting, Long-Lasting Hockey Life of Paul DiPietro

By Rajan Nanavati

In life, we tend to be so focused on where we’re going, that we often forget to take a step back and enjoy the journey.

If we could give advice to former NHL player and Stanley Cup champion Paul DiPietro, we would do so. While he was one of the stars of Montreal’s championship in 1993, it was a long and twisted road for DiPietro to get there.

In 1990, the Montreal Canadiens selected DiPietro with their fifth-round pick (102nd overall) in the NHL Draft. Despite scoring 119 points in 66 games as a member of the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), DiPietro lasted that long largely in part because of his size, or lack thereof — he was only 5-foot-9, which didn’t exactly give him the idea frame of someone destined for a long career in the league.

Like most rookies, DiPietro spent his entire rookie season playing with the Fredericton Canadiens — also known as the “Baby Habs” — of the American Hockey League (AHL). But, it didn’t take long for the “big league” Canadiens to realize that they might have a future contributor on their hands. In DiPietro’s rookie season, he had 70 points in 78 games, which included 39 goals.

Clearly encouraged by what they saw, DiPietro spent his next two seasons splitting time between Fredericton and Montreal, playing at last 29 games for the NHL club in both years. In fact, his 17 points in 29 contests during the 1992-93 season solidified a spot for DiPietro on Montreal’s postseason roster, as the Canadiens finished with the third-most points in the Prince of Wales Conference standings.

That decision would unquestionably pay dividends for Montreal. After the Canadiens found themselves in an 0-2 hole against the favored Quebec Nordiques, with the local media even saying that the Canadiens should consider trading away future Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy, Montreal turned the tide in the series, winning the next four straight games. DiPietro would help Montreal clinch the series in emphatic manner, as he tallied a hat trick plus an assist in Game 6 of the series, giving Montreal the 4-2 series win.

In Game 1 against the Buffalo Sabres in the ensuing series, DiPietro picked up where he left off, adding another goal and an assist in Montreal’s 4-3 win. His goal in the first 6:23 of the second period helped give Montreal a 3-1 lead in the game. You could say that helped Montreal start off on the right foot against Buffalo, as they swept the Sabres in a series that lasted only six games.

In the Prince of Wales Conference Finals, DiPietro added two more goals and an assist in Montreal’s 4-1 series win against the New York Islanders. His goal in Game 2 helped tie the score up late in the second period, and Montreal would add another in the third to secure the win. DiPietro scored again in Game 4, though Montreal ended up suffering their lone defeat in the series; he was the only score for the Canadiens in their 4-1 loss.

Montreal then advanced to the 1993 Stanley Cup, giving them their third appearance in the league’s final series in a decade. However, while Montreal did most recently make it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1989, they were on the losing end of the series, suffering a 4-2 loss to the Calgary Flames; it was only the second loss in the Stanley Cup in 33 years for the franchise that has been to and won the most Cups. Montreal had most recently won the Cup in 1986, but nothing after that.

The series had an added layer of intrigue, as Montreal would be facing off against Wayne Gretzky – “The Great One” himself – and the Los Angeles Kings. Gretzky had led the Edmonton Oilers to four Stanley Cup championships, but hadn’t been to the Finals after being traded to the Kings – until now.

Gretzky, Luc Robitaille, and the Kings got off to a fast start, with Robitaille tallying two goals and Gretzky dishing out three assists (and a goal of his own) in the Kings’ 4-1 win over the Canadiens. But LA’s celebration would be short-lived, as Montreal would end up winning the next four games straight.

Ironically, in a series featuring the game’s greatest player in history, DiPietro is the name whom the history books will likely remember, as he scored two goals in the deciding Game 5 of the series, giving Montreal a 4-1 win in the game and the series. DiPietro scored the first goal of the game, and when Los Angeles tried to make a comeback while trailing 3-1 in the game (and the series), DiPietro scored the last goal of the game, which was effectively the nail in the coffin of the Kings.

Members of that Canadiens team that won in 1993 have all lauded how DiPietro emerged as one of the stars for Montreal in that series. Others commented on how DiPietro contributed as a fourth line or reserve player, giving them the types of clutch goals and key plays that are needed from guys deep on the roster in the postseason.

The hero of the 1993 run would go on to play another two seasons with Montreal; in the year after DiPietro helped Montreal win the cup, he registered a career-high 13 goals with the Canadiens. But two seasons later, Montreal traded him to the squad that was “persona non-grata” to any hockey fan in Quebec: the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Unfortunately, DiPietro bounced between the NHL and the minors once again, eventually culminating in the Leafs trading DiPietro to the Los Angeles Kings (in something of an ironic twist). But his career alongside Gretzky was very short-lived, as he spent the vast majority of his time in the IHL, with teams like the Phoenix Roadrunners and Cincinnati Cyclones.

But if you think that was the end of DiPietro’s career, you couldn’t be more wrong. DiPietro went on to play another 16 years of professional hockey, the vast majority of which took place in Switzerland. It wasn’t until 2014 when we officially saw DiPietro retire.

One more knuckleball is one too many (guest post by Drew Farmer)

As I’ve been busy, I haven’t had the opportunity to post more regularly. In the meantime, here’s one from Fantasy Sports insider Drew Farmer.

One more knuckleball is one too many

By Drew Farmer   |   Twitter @DrewMFarmer   |   Facebook @DrewMFarmer

One more knuckleball is one too many… or perhaps one more season in the Big Leagues is too many. For former Major League Baseball player Phil Coke, the knuckleball was an attempt at preserving his Big League career. It was a chance for one more day in the sun as a member of the elite class of the boys of summer. Yet, one more knuckleball is one too many.

Coke’s dream of returning to The Show at 35-years old was spurred on by the befuddling pitch that defies bats, catchers’ mitts and the laws of physics. Coke hoped he could master the greatest pitch in a hurler’s arsenal for one more chance at MLB glory. It is the pitch few attempt and even fewer master. It is an uncontrollable slow-moving bastard of a pitch. But the nine-year veteran of the mound just didn’t have it and the knuckleball was too elusive.

Coke made his MLB debut with the New York Yankees as a relief pitcher. His stuff was average as his four-seam fastball hit the mid-90s and topped out at 97 on a good day. He was hittable, and for the most part, Coke’s ERA showed it. Good left-handed relief pitching is difficult to come by, however. The need for an arm to gobble up innings is a necessity and Coke played the role perfectly for the Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays. His success as a relief pitcher provided Coke with the chance to play in the Big Leagues as a journeyman. The need to play match ups late in games gave Coke an extended career. Perhaps one others haven’t been afforded.

Coke’s best season came in 2010 as a Tiger. He recorded a 7-5 record while posting a 3.76 ERA in 74 games. He also had two saves. But as the arm declined, so did Coke’s chances. Every season was a fight to stay with an MLB team. Every spring there was the fear of being cut. He had to perform on the days he was called upon. Two innings here, four innings there; whatever he could get was a chance to impress. It was also a chance to move closer to the exit, if he gave up runs.

After bouncing around the bigs in 2015 and 2016, playing for four different teams, Coke’s MLB career was finished. He went to Japan and pitched one season for the Orix Buffaloes. It was more of the same for the hurler, and after just one season, the club parted ways with Coke.

Despite registering a 4.56 ERA in Japan, Coke had one last go at an MLB career. In the spring of 2018, he attempted a comeback. He was accompanied by a new pitch; the unharnessed, unreliable knuckleball.

Coke hoped to make a club in spring training, but the best he could do was a contract in Mexico with Acereros de Monclova. The knuckleball didn’t last long, however. Coke was released less than two months after signing on with Monclova.

The lefty reliever wasn’t able to get the knuckleball to work and impress clubs. Nor could he get his knuckleball to defy the bats and batters in spring training or south of the border. The odds of returning to MLB with a new pitch in his mid-30s were always against him. Although Coke is still searching for a team that will let him take the hill just one more time, it looks like one more knuckle ball is one knuckleball too many.