Monday, March 27, 2017

The Tragic 1991 Orioles

With the news we received yesterday about the death of former Major League reliever Todd Frohwirth, most of us probably paused to lament the loss of such a young man. What most people probably didn’t stop to notice was that Frohwirth’s death was the continuation of an unfortunate trend. That trend? Members of the 1991 Baltimore Orioles dying.

In total, 42 players cracked the box score for the Orioles that final season at Memorial Stadium. Only 26 years later, seven of them have already passed on. One out of every six. That rate is staggering by modern-day standards. You’d have to go back to the Deadball Era, when lifespans were shorter, to see anything comparable.

It didn’t start out this way. At the end of 2010, all 42 of them were still with us. Nothing out of the ordinary. A team with all its players living nineteen years later is hardly unusual. The coaching staff, however, had already been hit hard by then. Johnny Oates, who began the season as bench coach and replaced Frank Robinson as manager, had been lost to cancer six years earlier. Three other coaches, Elrod Hendricks, Curt Motton, and Cal Ripken, Sr., had gone to the great beyond by that point too.

Not long into 2011 though, the players started joining them. The first to go was Francisco de la Rosa on January 6. His death didn’t get much attention here in the United States, as he was a relief pitcher whose entire career consisted of two late-season games for a non-contending team and a total of four innings.

The next one came later that year, and hit home with a lot more fans. Beloved pitcher, executive, and broadcaster Mike Flanagan committed suicide on August 24. The former Cy Young Award winner and franchise icon’s unexpected death was the sad end of an era, just before the long-struggling franchise turned the corner and began to contend again.

After that, another former lefty reliever, Kevin Hickey, died after a diabetes-related coma on May 16, 2012. Better known for his time with the White Sox, he spent three years with the Orioles, of which 1991 was the last.

This bunch managed to escape 2013 without losing anyone, but in 2014, it happened again. Once again it was a pitcher, this time right-hander Jeff Robinson. The journeyman hurler died on October 26 from “undisclosed health issues.”

Early in 2015, the ’91 O’s lost their first position player, and their second guy named Jeff, when utilityman Jeff McKnight lost his battle with leukemia on March 1.

As it had been in 2011, August 24 proved to be a fateful day in 2016, as infielder Juan Bell died from kidney disease in his native Dominican Republic.

And now in 2017, we have another to add to the list: Todd Frohwirth on March 26.

Does this amount to anything more than a statistical anomaly? My guess would be no. However, if I were in some way associated with the 1991 Orioles, I’d start living my life to the fullest. You never know who the grim reaper will claim next.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Names of 1950

I'll just throw this list up here. It's the most common name on each MLB team in 1950. There are some cases where a player went by his middle name, or I counted a player who normally went by a nickname, but I made it as logical as I possibly could.

Ah, 1950. It seems a much more straightforward time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Congratulations to Our New Hall of Famers!

The BBWAA Class of 2017 is here, and it includes three people I consider worthy: Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez. Congratulations go out to them!

In their honor, I've updated the Hall of Famers' first ML homers list! Bobby Castillo, Kent Mercker, and Storm Davis join the list of victimized pitchers! Congratulations go out to them as well!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Ultimate Number Players: #16-20

I had a more ambitious post in mind, but I've been too scramble-brained lately to work on it, so maybe it'll go up next month. In the meantime, here's my obligatory post for December, a continuation of the Ultimate Number Players series.

Ultimate #16: Paul Lo Duca

The scrappy catcher is nigh forgotten these days, but he held on to #16 better than any other player in MLB history.

Ultimate #17: Ellis Valentine

I was unable to find a photo of Valentine's brief tenure with the Texas Rangers, but I'll presume that he did in fact wear #17, as various sources report. I will, however, include a photo collage of a close contender for the title of Ultimate #17, Mickey Rivers.

Ultimate #18: Jason Kendall

The greatest catcher in Pirates history, as well as the Ultimate #18, Kendall is one of the more underrated players in baseball history.

Ultimate #19: Curtis Wilkerson

Curtis Wilkerson??? Yes. Curtis Wilkerson.

Ultimate #20: Brad Fullmer

Don Sutton might in fact qualify, but I'm not completely certain. Since I am certain about good ol' Brad Fullmer, I'm going with him here.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Annual Updates, 2016

Another season has come and gone, and the awards are now in the books. Updates have been made to the following posts:

 The Second Place Award Winners
Rookie of the Year Facts
Which Team Had the Most Cy Young Winners?
Back-to-back World Series with different franchises
The Run That Clinched It

It was quite a year, with the Cubs (finally!) winning the World Series, and doing so in a thrilling fashion. As a longtime Cub rooter, it was perhaps my most rewarding moment as a fan. Right up there with the time the White Sox won it. It still hasn't sunk in yet that it really happened. I'll never forget it though. Whether these Cubs become a dynasty, or whether they fall apart like other great young teams have, we'll always have 2016. Flags fly forever.

Also, with Rick Porcello winning the Cy Young Award, the 2014 Tigers' pitching staff becomes a thing of legend, so be sure to check that Cy Young post out.