WASHINGTON NATIONALS SHOCK THE WORLD

2019 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS

By Steve Kallas


In the first World Series ever where every game was won by the road team, the Washington Nationals, who started the 2019 season at 19-31, shocked the world in Game 7 (their fifth facing-elimination game in this postseason) by coming back from a 2-0 deficit to win, 6-2.


While Stephen Strasburg (who started and won games 2 and 6) won the MVP (more on this later), it was one of those total team efforts highlighted, in this writer’s opinion, by the play of Juan Soto, Adam Eaton, Anthony Rendon and Howie Kendrick.


And the most important three innings in the career of Patrick Corbin.


HOW DID THEY DO IT?


Well, all teams will tell you that “we never give up” or “we always play to the final out” or “we don’t get worried when we get behind” or something like that.  But this Nationals team really practiced what they preached. From coming from behind in the Wild Card Game against the Brewers to score three in the eighth to win 4-3, to coming back from being down 2-1 in games against the unbeatable Dodgers (Howie Kendrick’s grand slam in the 10th inning on the road to win the NLDS), right through last night’s Game 7 comeback, the Nationals did things throughout their postseason run that were simply hard to believe.


SO, WHAT HAPPENED IN GAME 7?


The home team Astros took a 2-0 lead but the Nationals chipped away with a Rendon home run in the top of the 7th against Zach Greinke, who had pitched incredibly well up to this point. When Greinke walked superstar-in-the-making (at 21 years old), Juan Soto, Astros manager AJ Hinch brought in reliever Will Harris. 


While that move has been criticized by many, the reality is that Harris threw an excellent pitch (down and away at 91 mph, literally on the lower left-hand corner of the strike zone “box” that Fox puts on the screen) to Kendrick who, with an incredible piece of hitting, hit the ball right down the line in right field, hitting the foul (fair?) pole screen for the go-ahead home run.


The Nationals never looked back.


In the top of the 8th inning, Soto singled in a huge run to make it 4-2 and, in the top of the 9th inning, Eaton singled in two more to pretty much put it out of reach at 6-2.


WAS PATRICK CORBIN THE MVP OF GAME 7?


That might be a bit of a stretch, but one can certainly make a case for him. Down 2-0, Max Scherzer (after getting a cortisone shot in his neck that caused him to miss his start in Game 5) pitched well, but was on the short end of the 2-0 score when he left the game. Patrick Corbin, who hadn’t been quite the pitcher the Nationals had hoped for (including this postseason) when they signed him for a boatload of money (six years, $140 million), came into the game in the bottom of the sixth and pitched like a star.


He faced 10 batters in three innings, recording nine outs without giving up a run. That set the stage for the heroics of Rendon, Kendrick and Soto. With Corbin in the game, the Nationals went from a 2-0 deficit to a 6-2 lead. He certainly deserved the win.


And Daniel Hudson came in to close it out in the ninth inning, striking out Astros’ stars Jose Altuve and professional hitter Michael Brantley to clinch the World Series for the Washington Nationals.


WAS STEPHEN STRASBURG REALLY THE MVP?


You can certainly make a good case for Strasburg. He pitched 14.1 innings, giving up only 12 hits and four runs while striking out fourteen and only walking three. He won both of his starts.


Once upon a time, when pitchers worked on three days (rather than today’s four days) of rest, a starter could start three games in a World Series. If a pitcher started and won three of the four victories, he usually would deserve the MVP. As one example, Mickey Lolich of the Detroit Tigers (and not Denny McClain, who was 31-6 that year) won three games in the 1968 World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals and deservedly got the MVP.


This writer thinks it’s a little different when a pitcher is on the bench for half of the victories in a World Series.


JUAN SOTO FOR MVP?


Soto was awesome in the World Series. In Game 7, he drew a walk right before the Kendrick home run that gave the Nationals the lead. In the next inning, he singled in a huge insurance run to make it 4-2.


Overall in the Series, he had some staggering statistics. He batted .333 (9-27, the most hits on his team), with an on-base percentage of .438 and a slugging percentage of .741 for an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of 1.179. These are video game numbers.

Soto, who was 20 when the Series started and 21 when it ended, also became the youngest player in baseball history to hit at least three home runs in a World Series, while leading his team in that department as well.

Not to quibble with the selection of Strasburg, but Juan Soto could easily have been the MVP.


DID GEORGE SPRINGER LOSE THE WORLD SERIES FOR THE ASTROS?


No, he didn’t. But his baserunning blunder in Game 1, where, if he had run hard out of the box late in the game when the Astros were down two runs and he was the tying run, was a mistake for the ages. Coupled with that weird post-game comment (paraphrasing, sometimes you don’t want to run as hard as you can) where he intimated that he might have run by a runner who was tagging up at second, it was a negative play for the ages.


If Springer, a bona-fide star, had run hard, he might very well have tied up the game (had he been on third base, as he should have, he would have scored on Altuve’s fly out to right). Of course, you never know what would have happened had he been on third but, if he tied up the game, the Astros would have had a chance to win Game 1 and the numbers are now, of the last 32 World Series, the team that wins Game 1 is 26-6.


While Springer reportedly called his manager after the game because he was so upset about the play, the reality is you run hard on anything. The new disease in baseball is to watch to see if you hit a home run. How it’s become accepted in baseball is beyond this writer’s knowledge of baseball.

Whatever you think of it, it cost the Astros in Game 1.


CONCLUSION


All credit to the Nationals. Dave Martinez, who many said should have been fired early in the season, gets an award of his own: the second Puerto Rican manager (after Alex Cora) to win the World Series. Martinez, who had a heart issue about six weeks ago, stayed calm (except when he got thrown out of the game in Game 6 for arguing that ridiculous interference call against his team), stayed the course and led his team to victory.


He, and the Nationals, richly deserved it.


© COPYRIGHT 2019 • BY STEVE KALLAS • ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

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100 Years Later, A Question

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson: How Soon Can We Get Him Into In the Hall of Fame?

By Steve Kallas


Editor's Note:

This year and last, 2019 and 2018, are  landmark years for many events. Women's suffrage; assassinations of MLK, Jr. and JFK; Woodstock;  the Stonewall riot; establishment of women's clubs throughout Westchester County; and many other notable events. But do you know about an important sports event that happened in 1919?


Yeah, it’s one of the great travesties in the history of American sports.


“Shoeless” Joe Jackson, who clearly did NOT fix the 1919 World Series, should have long ago been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. But he lost pretty much all chance in 1991. That is when the powers-that-be at the time, fearful of the notion that popular Pete Rose would be elected to the Hall of Fame after his “lifetime” ban from baseball, had a sham meeting to pass a sham rule whereby no one who had been banned forever could be considered for the Hall of Fame.


This happened, despite the fact that the late Commissioner of Baseball, Bart Giamatti, had explicitly stated that Rose’s ability to get into the Hall of Fame would be dependent on the baseball writers and no one else.

How could such a thing happen? Read on (and stay with it – it’s complicated).


What Happened to “Shoeless” Joe?


As many of you know, Joe Jackson was one of the greatest players ever. With a lifetime average of .356, he was third-highest ever with a .423 OBP on-base percentage. Babe Ruth told Grantland Rice in 1919, “I copied my swing after Joe Jackson’s. His is the perfectest [sic].” Jackson was banned for life after allegedly throwing the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds while he played for the Chicago White Sox (forever after known as the “Black Sox”).


Jackson’s Hall of Fame candidacy was discussed by author Kostya Kennedy in his 2014 book, “Pete Rose: An American Dilemma.” Unfortunately, Kennedy seemed to dismiss the notion by simply quoting some of Jackson’s grand jury testimony (the players allegedly involved in the fix would be indicted, charged and acquitted at trial).


Kennedy quotes a few questions and answers from that testimony. In it, Jackson admitted that he was supposed to receive $20,000 to throw the World Series but had only received $5000. Another question/answer quoted by Kennedy from Jackson’s testimony was:


Q: Then you went ahead and threw the second game … is that right?

A: We went ahead and threw the second game.


Authos's note:

Interestingly (see below), Jackson answered the last question with a “We” instead of an “I.”


Kennedy states in his book that, “It remains hard to get past some of the things that Jackson said under oath to the grand jury in Cook County.”


In Reality, It’s Not Really Hard At All

Joe Jackson’s 25-page Grand Jury Testimony (given on September 29, 1920) is published in its entirety in Harvey Frommer’s book, “Shoeless Joe Jackson and Ragtime Baseball.” Take a look at the following questions and answers:


Q: [questions here are referring to Game 4 which the White Sox lost] Did you make any intentional errors yourself that day?

A: No, sir, not during the whole series.

Q: Did you bat to win?

A: Yes.

Q: And run the bases to win?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: And fielded the balls at the outfield to win?

A: I did.


Later in his testimony, Jackson was asked questions about the entire World Series:

Q: Did you do anything to throw these games?

A: No, sir.

Q: Any game in the Series?

A: Not a one. I didn’t have an error and make no misplay.


When one looks at Jackson’s actual performance in the 1919 World Series, it doesn’t seem that there is any proof that he did anything wrong in terms of losing games. He hit .375, higher than any regular on BOTH teams. That average was 24 points higher than his 1919 regular season average of .351. That has to count for something, doesn’t it?


But wait! There’s more! Jackson led all players on BOTH teams in hits (12), led his team in runs batted in (6), hit the only home run (by either team) in the eight-game series, and didn’t make an error in the field (16 putouts, 1 assist, 0 errors). His 12 hits were the most ever in a World Series. He would have had 13 hits, but one of them was later changed to an error.


That’s an awful lot of trying-his-best evidence.


This may not mean much, but in his only other World Series appearance (1917), Jackson batted .304 and slugged .304 with an OPS (on-base % plus slugging %) of .658. In the series he supposedly threw two years later, Jackson hit .375 and slugged .563 with an OPS of .956.


And remember, 1919 was the last year of the so-called “dead-ball era.”


So, What Did Joe Jackson Really Do?


Well, it says here that he cheated the cheaters. He double-crossed the double-crossers. If he was promised $20,000 and given $20,000, maybe he would have hit .220 and made four errors. That we will never know.

But since he was given just one-quarter of what he was promised and he didn’t receive that until after game four (according to his grand jury testimony), it seems pretty clear what he did: he played hard before he got the money and he played hard after he got the money.


While some (like author Kennedy) seem to think that it’s meaningful testimony that Jackson said “I put it in my pocket” after he was asked what he did with the $5000, that really doesn’t mean a thing with respect to his play on the field. In fact, there are reports that, the day after the final game of the 1919 World Series, Jackson tried to give the $5000 to White Sox owner Charles Comiskey, but Comiskey refused to see him. By the way, if Comiskey hadn’t been such a cheap owner (allegedly depriving pitcher Ed Cicotte of a promised $10,000 bonus, for example), there probably never would have been a Black Sox scandal.

Joe Jackson took the $5000, stiffed the gamblers, and played his best.


Need More Evidence?


No problem. Eliot Asinof, in his 1963 book on the 1919 World Series entitled, “Eight Men Out,” wrote the seminal book on the actual playing of that World Series. A review of that book for the sole purpose of trying to figure out what, if anything, Joe Jackson did to “throw” the series, only shows one reference that Jackson played too shallow in left field one time and a batter hit a double over his head.

If that’s the worst thing that he did, then it’s hard to believe that anybody could seriously think he threw the series. In fact, it’s pretty good evidence that he did nothing of real substance (hitting poorly, fielding poorly, etc.). Backed with his incredible World Series statistics, nobody can even make a reasonable case that Joe Jackson threw the 1919 World Series.


The Black Sox scandal also gives rise to one of the great trivia questions of all time: What did Joe Jackson bat in 1920, the year after he allegedly “threw” the World Series? Many people think it’s a trick question: how could Jackson (and the other eventually indicted members of the White Sox) have played in 1920? But the reality is that they weren’t arrested and accused until late September of 1920.


Indeed, the answer to the question is that Jackson hit .382 in 1920, with a .444 OBP (on-base percentage) and a slugging percentage of .589 for an overall OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of 1.033. This was the first year of the “live-ball” era but the last year for Joe Jackson. At the age of 32, what a disgrace.

 

What About the Fact That He Knew About It?


Yeah, he did. But he was acquitted at trial. (Do you think if that happened today, as opposed to 100 years ago, a present-day commissioner could ban eight acquitted players for life? Not a chance.) Nevertheless, Jackson was banned by Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Landis was viewed by many to be a racist and was a leading figure in keeping African-Americans out of baseball from 1920 until his death in November 1944. Indeed, it was only after the death of Landis that Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to eventually break the color barrier in baseball.


Landis in the Hall of Fame. 

Joe Jackson not in the Hall of Fame. Yes, down is up, up is down.


Knowing about a "maybe fix" and not participating in it isn’t grounds for a lifetime ban. In addition, under present-day rules, Jackson could have applied for reinstatement after a year.


How Did Pete Rose Make Things Worse for Joe Jackson?


Another travesty is the fact that Pete Rose isn’t in the Hall of Fame. All of the commissioners since Bart Giamatti have jumped through hoops to try and justify the fact that Rose shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame. They’ve talked about his gambling (betting on his team to win, not lose), his inability to “reconfigure” his life (something Giamatti himself talked about in 1989 when Rose agreed to a lifetime ban), etc. But they all forgot (or purposely ignored) one thing: Bart Giamatti’s own words.


In the Kennedy book on Rose, (pp 227-231), Kennedy talks about the meeting that led to the then-new 1991 rule that anybody on the ineligible to play list could not be considered for the Hall of Fame. The “special committee,” led nominally by the president of the Hall of Fame at the time, just months before Rose would be eligible for the Hall, was, according to the only two baseball writers invited to the meeting as members, a “sham.” Everybody knew it was to keep the popular Rose out of the Hall.


This was 100% AGAINST what Bart Giamatti had expected with respect to Rose and the Hall of Fame. Here’s what he said, as quoted from the Kennedy book in the footnote (yes, this is actually buried in a footnote) at page 229 of the hardcover edition:


“When asked at the press conference announcing Rose’s ban from baseball whether the expulsion would have bearing on the Hall of Fame, Giamatti had dismissed the idea, saying he saw no place for intervention: “YOU,” he said, addressing the baseball writers [who vote for the Hall of Fame], “WILL DECIDE WHETHER HE BELONGS IN THE HALL OF FAME.” (emphasis added).


It couldn’t be clearer. In Giamatti’s mind, NOTHING about the lifetime ban had ANYTHING to do with the Hall of Fame. Yet, since Giamatti died nine days later, people like Fay Vincent (Giamatti’s number two who became commissioner) and those that followed him, completely ignored what Giamatti said. That eventually led to the “sham” meeting, the “sham” rule and the barring of Rose (and Joe Jackson) from ever being considered for the Hall of Fame.


An incredible travesty.


So, Where Are We Now?


Well, we’ve only gone backwards. When, a few years ago, Pete Rose’s lawyers made an appeal to present-day commissioner, Rob Manfred, to at least allow Rose to be considered for the Hall, Manfred punted the problem over to the Hall of Fame. Manfred, maybe realizing and actually caring (a little) about what Giamatti had said back in 1989 (that the writers will decide the Hall of Fame worthiness of Rose), simply said it wasn’t his place to decide.

Of course, that’s absurd on its face. If Commissioner Giamatti said it was up to the writers, why can’t Commissioner Manfred? Maybe he read the Kennedy footnote and/or a few pro-Rose articles pointing out the obvious. In any event, he punted the question to the Hall of Fame committee.


That committee then had a meeting. 


The president of the Hall, Jeff Idelson, had a conference call (yeah, this was all done on the phone) where the Hall’s board of directors “ratified” the 1991 resolution to not allow anyone deemed permanently ineligible to be considered for the Hall of Fame. So they ratified a rule that arose out of a “sham” meeting, the sole purpose of which was to keep Pete Rose out of the Hall of Fame.


Joe Jackson, thanks to the “Pete Rose” rule, gets the shaft again.


Can Anything Be Done Now?


Well, baseball hopes that this just all goes away. But one has to read the pages in the Kennedy book to see what a joke the original meeting was (it was fixed, no pun intended, before the meeting took place). Here is the first paragraph from the Kennedy book on that meeting:


“They gathered together, ten men in a meeting room in a hotel in the center of New York City, or eight of those men the purpose and intent of the gathering was clear: To keep Pete Rose out of the Baseball Hall of Fame.” (p. 227)

You can’t make this stuff up.

So, maybe somebody with a brain, some power and a real sense of justice can point out to the present day Hall of Fame board of directors what Bart Giamatti said in 1989 -- that the writers, not the commissioner, not the board members of the Hall of Fame, but the writers, will decide Rose’s fate.


Of course, probably none of them even gave a thought to Joe Jackson.


But if these voters, by “ratifying” a “sham” rule that goes against everything Bart Giamatti said, don’t understand what they did, they should take another look and take another vote, once they have all of the facts.


And then Joe Jackson, one of the 10 greatest players who ever lived, could finally get his just due.



© COPYRIGHT 2019 BY STEVE KALLAS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Sports Spotlight

Yankees Lose. by Steve Kallas

Judge’s Baserunning Mistake (and John Smoltz’s Errant Analysis);

Lemahieu’s Incredible Homer

Chapman Gives Up the Game Winner

                                                

 

Give the Houston Astros credit.  They beat the Yankees, 6-4, and now move on to the 2019 World Series.  While there is so much to digest in Game 6 and in the entire series, we’ll keep the analysis to one play and two at-bats.

Aaron Judge’s Baserunning Mistake

A five-tool player, Aaron Judge, when healthy, is already a superstar in major league baseball.  But baserunning can be very nuanced -- not always black-and-white -- and sometimes it takes quick thinking to understand what to do on the bases.


By now you’ve probably seen the great catch and throw that Michael Brantley made with one out in the top of the seventh inning.  Judge had singled and Gleyber Torres had made the first out.  Now, Aaron Hicks, on a 3-2 pitch (Judge not running), hits a bloopto short left field.  


Alex Bregman going out, Brantley coming in, it certainly looked like there was a good chance that the ball was going to drop. At the last instant, Brantley dove to make an incredible catch in short left field.


Where was Aaron Judge?

Well, Judge took off with the crack of the bat and actually had his foot on second base when Brantley caught the ball.  Brantley got up and, from short left field, threw a one-hop strike to first base.  Judge was out by about eight feet.


Here’s what John Smoltz said after the play: “Judge was in such an impossible no-man’s land.  When Brantley dove, Judge touched the base and tried to get back.  Brantley made a good one-hop throw.”  While Smoltz is a pretty good analyst, it’s hard for a pitcher to comment on subtle base running plays, which is what this play was (given the circumstances).


Of course, the real question is why was Judge touching second base?  Where, exactly, was he going?  While some called it an “aggressive” play by Judge, to what end was it aggressive?  Judge could not have made it to third on that play.  It was a bloop.  It wasn’t a line drive that was going to roll past Brantley.


The proper way to run the bases in that situation is to give yourself enough room to run to second if the ball drops in for a bloop single.  But also to give yourself enough time to get back to first if somebody (Brantley or Bregman) makes the catch.


In other words, Judge should be about 15 feet from second when the ball is coming down.  If it drops, he runs to second (no chance to get to third).  If a great catch is made, he sprints back to first.  Since he was out by about eight feet, he would have made it back if he didn’t run all the way to second base.  Again, nothing was to be gained (an additional base could not be taken) by being “aggressive.”

Great baserunning, like bunting, is a lost art in major league baseball.  A difficult play to make in this situation?  Absolutely.  But nothing was gained or could have been gained by being on second when the ball was caught.  Nuanced?  Absolutely.  But instead of a base runner on first and two outs, the inning was over. 


To Judge’s credit, he made an excellent defensive play to save a run in the very next inning.  But this double play, a huge momentum-builder for the Astros, could have been limited to one out.


DJ Lemahieu’s Incredible Home Run

You’ve probably seen this play a dozen times or so.  Top 9, Astros up 4-2, Roberto Osuna in to close.  Manon first, one out, DJ LeMahieu at the plate.  If you’re into baseball, we’re going to go through the entire 10-pitch at-bat.


• Pitch 1, fastball away (95 mph), count is 1-0.  

• Pitch 2, high out of the strike zone (98) but LeMahieu chases, 1-1.  

• Pitch 3, fastball in the strike zone (down and in) (98), fouled off, 1-2.

• Pitch 4, breaking ball (90 mph), off the plate outside, great take by LeMahieu, count is 2-2.  

• Pitch 5, fastball in the lower part of the strike zone (97), fouled weakly down the third base line, still 2-2.  

• Pitch 6, fastball (98), in the strike zone but towards the outside, fouled hard to right field, still 2-2.

• Pitch 7, Osuna goes change-up (85 mph), up and in, a ball, but LeMahieu goes after it and fouls it off, count is still 2-2.  

• Pitch 8, fastball (99), in the middle of the strike zone height-wise but on the outside corner, fouled off, count is still 2-2.  

• Pitch 9, catcher Martin Maldonado wants it up high, half stands up and gives a target arguably above the top of the strike zone, fastball (98), up and in a little, taken by LeMahieu, count full at 3-2.

• Pitch 10, fastball (94 mph), in the strike zone, maybe a little down and a little in (Maldonado wanted it more in), DJ LeMahieu homers to right to tie up the game at 4 in the ninth inning.


Here’s Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz’s analysis after pitch 9 (the high fastball that missed up and in, bringing the count to 3-2): 

“Gotta be real confident if you’re going to go up there that you could make a 3-2 pitch cause the chance of success for getting a strike at the top part of the zone on LeMahieu is not great.” 


Smoltz continued, “You have to have in your mind that you know you’re going to throw the 3-2 pitch if you miss with the 2-2.”


Next pitch: home run.


After the home run, Smoltz -- still on the 2-2 pitch up and in -- said, “Didn’t love the 2-2 pitch; had to come in there with the 3-2 pitch.”  A little later, he said, “Telling you, 2-2 pitch.”

John Smoltz seemed to make the entire at-bat about pitch 9.


But Wait a Minute!


The reality is that pitch 9, with a catcher who clearly wanted it up high, was the FIFTH 2-2 pitch.  Osuna went fastballs (97 and 98 mph) on pitches 5 and 6 (both fouled off), went change-up (85 mph) on pitch 7 (fouled off) and went fastball (99 mph) on the outside corner of the strike zone on pitch 8.


Maldonado or Osuna or manager AJ Hinch must have remembered that, on pitch 2, DJ LeMahieu swung at a pitch about chin high.  The real question is, were they trying to throw a strike or to get LeMahieu to chase again?  The difference in pitch 2 and pitch 9 was that pitch 9 was high and in a little; pitch 2 was high but right down the middle.  Most probably, they wanted a strike at the top of the zone, as Maldonado had tried to frame it as such.


But LeMahieu laid off of it, the count went to 3-2 and, yes, DJ LeMahieu hit one of the greatest post-season clutch home runs in history.


Until the Yankees lost.


LeMahieu’s incredible at-bat/home run reminds this writer a little bit of the incredible sideline catch that Julio Jones made against the Patriots late in Super Bowl 51.  If Atlanta had taken three knees and let Matt Bryant kick a 40-41 yard field goal, they most probably would have won that Super Bowl.  


But, now, it’s pretty much totally forgotten.  As great as it was, that DJ LeMahieu homer will also, eventually, fade from memory.  But an incredible at-bat, nonetheless. 


Aroldis Chapman Gives Up the Pennant-Losing Home Run


Star closer Aroldis Chapman came into a tie game in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 6.  Right away, to catcher Martin Maldonado, he threw four fastballs in the strike zone (97, 98, 99 and 101 mph, respectively), so he certainly seemed to have control of his fastball.


He struck out Maldonado on a nasty slider down below the zone.  He then threw three of his first four pitches to lefty Josh Reddick in the 86-87 mph range (all breaking balls).  He then got Reddick to pop up on a 100 mph fastball.


Then lead-off man George Springer came to the plate.  The first three pitches were all breaking balls between 86 and 88 mph.  With two of the three low and the count 2-1, Chapman returned to his blazing fastball.  But he missed wildly on the 2-1 pitch, as catcher Gary Sanchez couldn’t even catch the ball (it missed by so much) at 98 mph.  The next pitch, ball 4, was 97 and was also way up high.


Here Comes Altuve


So when Jose Altuve comes to the plate, he knows that Chapman is using his nasty breaking ball and throwing it for strikes or down below the zone.  He also knows that the last two fastballs to Springer missed very badly.


And here’s what happens:


The first pitch fastball to Altuve is up and away at 99 mph, not even close.The second pitch fastball to Altuve is up and away at 97, not even close. (And give some credit here to John Smoltz, who suggested you might put Altuve on and had to be careful with him -- Brantley had been pulled for a pinch runner so would not be up next: Jake Marisnick would be next).

So Altuve knows that Chapman has thrown four terrible fastballs in a row and has had command of his slider the whole inning.


Well, the next pitch was Chapman’s worst slider of the day -in the strike zone but up and a little away.  Altuve crushes it and wins the game and the pennant for the Houston Astros.

Was Altuve Looking for the Breaking Ball?


A fascinating question.  Altuve was interviewed right after the game and after lauding Chapman as one of the greatest closers he’s ever faced, he said the following: “Chapman throws 100.  I wanted to be on time for the fastball but looking for something I can handle and it just happened.”

It says here that Altuve was saying he was looking for the slider but didn’t want to come out and say it.


After all, he may be facing Chapman in the same spot next year.

© Copyright 2019 

By Steve Kallas. 

All Rights Reserved.


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Steve Kallas. “Speaking of Sports”

The $1 Million International Trot at Yonkers Raceway Presented by MGM Resorts, Saturday, October 12, 2019

Steve Kallas “Speaking of Sports”

October 10, 2019 Interview with John Campbell: International Trot • Yonkers Raceway by MGM Resorts.

Westchester Bowling Centers

By Steve Kallas

Westchester County Bowling Centers Promote Bowling,  Fun, and College Scholarships for Youth

By Steve Kallas


It’s that time of year again! Winter leagues for youth and adults are starting at five bowling centers aroundWestchester County. There is still time for parents who would like their children to learn to bowl, get a little exercise, make new friends, and even earn money towards college tuition. 


In addition, parents should learn about the SMART account, which allows children to accumulate scholarship monies through bowling participation (in some leagues) and opportunities in tournaments throughout Westchester County and the State of New York. The funds can be used by young bowlers as payment towards college tuition. It’s an amazing program that many people simply don’t know about (for more information on the SMART account, see the article below and visit Bowl.com).


See below for information about the five bowling centers in Westchester County that run youth bowling programs. Leagues for young bowlers are forming now, so be sure to check the starting dates and, IN ALL CASES, call your local lanes for the exact requirements for your child to join a league. Even if the“starting date” has passed, your child might still be able to join.


Homefield Bowl

938 Saw Mill River Road

Yonkers, NY

914-969-5592 • HomefieldBowl.com

Owned and operated by the Limekiller family, Homefield offers four Saturday morning programs for youth from as young as two or three up to the age of 20 (depending on the birthday for the older youth). 


The “Tiny Tots” are ages 2-5 and bowl two games for $8 per week. 

The other three divisions are:

• Bantams, ages 6-10 or 11; • Juniors, ages 10-13 or 14;• Seniors, ages 14-20 (bowlers who will be 20 in 2019 must check with their respective leagues to see if they are eligible).


Children with skill levels far above the average for their age group may be placed in the next older group.

These three divisions are $15 per week for three weekly games, and a SMART account is opened for every eligible bowler in these divisions.


Jo Limekiller has run the junior bowling program at Homefield for over 40 years. She and Tom Solomine of Bowlmor White Plains Bowl are truly the “deans of youth bowling” in Westchester County, with a combined 80 years of experience and dedication. Limekiller told the Westchester County Post: “We’ve been doing this for a long time. Part of the attraction, in addition to making friends and improving as bowlers, is that, at the end of the league year, all of the Bantams, Juniors and Seniors have a check deposited in their own SMART account to start them on their way to some savings for college monies to pay tuition.”


The Juniors and Seniors leagues will begin bowling on September 14, 2019 at 8:45 AM. You can still show up at that time and join the league. The Tiny Tots and Bantams leagues will begin bowling on September 21, 2019 at 8:45 AM. You can still show up at that time and join the league.


The Bantam, Junior and Senior leagues are all named Pagliaroli Scholarship Leagues in honor of David Pagliaroli, who was a junior bowler (and a member of the Westchester County Junior Bowlers Association), who passed away in 2000 at the too young age of 18. Indeed, every February, Joette Healy of Homefield runs a tournament in honor of David Pagliaroli where $6,000 in SMART scholarship money is awarded to youth bowlers.


Bowlmor White Plains

47 Tarrytown Road

White Plains, NY

914-948-2677 • Bowlmor.com

This youth program is run by the afore-mentioned Tom Solomine. The leagues are divided into different groups depending on ability. The cost is $18 per week for three weekly games and it runs from 9:30 AM - 12 PM every Saturday. The program begins on Saturday, September 7, 2019.


Tom Solomine also runs the Junior Bowling Tournaments (JBT) of Westchester County. There is one tournament a month for seven months. The first one will take place at Bowlmor White Plains at the end of September. At the conclusion of the seven JBT tournaments, the top five bowlers receive scholarship money into their SMART accounts. In addition, there are regional tournaments in March; the New York State Finals are held in May in Syracuse, NY, and also award SMART scholarship money.

Paradise Lanes

790 Yonkers Avenue

Yonkers, NY

914-969-2417


Paradise runs their “College Bound Junior Bowler” League every Saturday at 9:30 AM. The cost for three weekly games is $20 a week ($5 if absent). The 6-8 year-old beginners bowl with bumpers; the two other groups are ages 9-12 and 13 and up. Children with skill levels far above the average for their age group may be placed in the next older group.


There is also a Thanksgiving Tournament and SMART scholarship money is available.

Cortlandt Lanes

2192 Crompond Road

Cortlandt Manor, NY

914-737-4550 • CortlandtLanes.com

Junior League costs $12 a week for three weekly games and consists of two 15-week seasons. It begins at 9:30 AM on Saturday, September 14, 2019. A breakfast buffet helps to celebrate the trophy awards at the end. Cortlandt Lanes also has a Friday After School League and a Sunday Parent/Child League. 

Jefferson Valley Lanes

3699 Hill Boulevard

Jefferson Valley, NY

914-245-7770 • www.JeffersonValleyLanes.com


The youth league, which starts at 10 AM on Saturdays beginning on September 7, 2019, is divided into two age groups. The 12 and under group bowls three weekly games for $11 per week. The 13 and over group bowls four weekly games for $12 per week. Jefferson Valley also has a Sunday Adult/Child league. 


Conclusion

In this writer’s opinion, it’s best to show up for the first week if you want to get into a league, but if you can’t, try to join as soon as you can. Some websites have more information about this issue than others, so call the lanes for the most up-to-date information. The five bowling centers have much in common with their league activities, but there are variations among them to discover to make sure you are choosing the center that is the best fit.

Bowling is a great sport, a lot of fun and, as is discussed in the box (see also Bowl.com), can provide some scholarship money to college. It’s a great opportunity for many young children and teenagers.

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Saturday, September 7, 2019 Hartley Park • Mount Vernon

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Hartley Park • Mount Vernon, NY

A Westchester County Boxing Event

Championships and Exhibition

Come support local talent and rising stars!