Sunday, November 24, 2013

Why Are So Many 1990's Cub Pitchers Dying Young?

As someone who tries to keep up-to-date on the latest passings, particularly in the baseball world, I was saddened to hear about the death of Frank Castillo earlier this year. He was a solid pitcher for the Cubs right around the time I began following baseball regularly, and his near no-hitter against the Cardinals in 1995 was perhaps my fondest memory of him.

Most unfortunately, Castillo's death made him the sixth Cub pitcher from the 1990's to die. He's been preceded in death by the following five:

Rod Beck (June 23, 2007, age 38, suspected cocaine overdose)
Geremi Gonzalez (May 25, 2008, age 33, struck by lightning)
Kevin Foster (October 11, 2008, age 39, renal cancer)
Dave Smith (December 17, 2008, age 53, heart attack)
Jessie Hollins (July 9, 2009, age 39, drowning)

Eerie that those first five were within a 25-month span. And now we can add:

Frank Castillo (July 28, 2013, age 44, drowning)

I don't believe any other team has lost this many players at the same position from the decade of the 1990's. This is mostly just bad luck, of course, but for those of us who remember these guys, it hits home. Their participation on the field is still fresh in our memories, and it's too soon for us to say goodbye to them. Hopefully, this outlier will revert to the mean and the rest of the Cubbie mound crew will stick around for a while.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Top Ten Baseball-Reference Sponsorships: 2013 Edition

Another year, another exhaustive scouring of Baseball-Reference! Like last year, the pickings were a bit slim, but there were still some good ones to highlight. Let's not waste time with chatter, let's get to the list! After all, that's why you're here, isn't it?

10. Dae-Sung Koo
Mr. Koo's Wild Ride sponsor(s) this page.

Mr. Koo was awesome because of one thing: his ringing double off of Randy Johnson and the ensuing trip around the bases. It's the most improbable baseball thing you may ever see and our lives are all better for it having happened.

As a fan of Korean baseball and a lover of the underdog, I had to find out what this was all about. Fortunately, there's a video of it on YouTube, so why don't I just embed it?

The 35-year-old who'd spent his career in DH leagues and had a platoon disadvantage against a future Hall of Famer indeed registered a double and later took home on a heads-up play. You always love it when these guys get their moments.

One annoying thing about that video though...Joe Buck. His name in Korean is 구대성. It'd be pronounced "Day-Sung Koo," not "Die-Sung Koo." Doesn't anyone know how to read?

9. 1886 Washington Nationals
A Fan of the Site sponsor(s) this page.

Only in Washington can a team feature 2 future Hall-of-Famers and finish with this poor of a record! Congrats to Hank O'Day, HOF 2013!

Washington is indeed known for its misuse of resources. But in fairness, O'Day got in as an umpire, and the other Hall of Famer (Connie Mack) got in as a manager, so they probably couldn't have been expected to have contributed that much to a winning cause. Still, a .233 winning percentage is pretty bad. Much worse than the 1966 Cubs'.

8. Bill Lee
Spaceman League sponsor(s) this page.

You're supposed to sit on your ass / And nod at stupid things / Man, that's hard to do. / And if you don't, they'll screw you. / And if you do they'll screw you too.

The late Warren Zevon's brief tribute to one of baseball's biggest flakes is always worthy of a quote. Heck, since I'm embedding YouTube videos here, why not do another one?

7. Brad Wilkerson

Justin Glessner --- The worst at fantasy advice sponsor(s) this page.

Brad Wilkerson is my Napoleon's Russia for fantasy baseball. He's the epitome of my fantasy failures. He's the forbidden fruit I sought, only to be doomed to an eternity of inept managerial skills.

I've never been able to get into fantasy sports. I just care too much about who wins and loses to worry about some individual guy's numbers. At least Mr. Glessner here elevates discussion of fantasy sports to a semi-literate tone, an area in which we can surely agree fantasy sports discussion is lacking.

6. 2004 Milwaukee Brewers

The Brew Crew Project sponsor(s) this page.

Ben Sheets had a career year and Milwaukee was introduced to Russell Branyan. As long as you ignore the second half, 2004 was a pretty good season.
I'm not sure whether this was intended to be humorous, but it strikes me as such. In the same vein, as long as you ignore my lack of frequent updates and the fact that most of my content is frivolous, I think I have a pretty good blog here.

5. Dick Tidrow

Friends of the Message Board at Bleacher Nation sponsor(s) this page.

Dick Tidrow's beer is made from the fermented tears of everyone he comes in contact with. When Dick Tidrow squints, people cry. Come join the Message Board at Bleacher Nation for more discussions of beer, tears, Dick Tidrow, and, most of all, Chicago Cubs baseball!

Dick Tidrow is becoming the latest Chuck Norris, I see. Couldn't happen to a more worthy guy.

4. Ronald Belisario

A Fan of the Site sponsor(s) this page.

Noriega's face. 80's Robin William's nose. Kevin Brown's sinker.
I had to give this one points for creativity. "A Fan of the Site" must be one of those scientists who breaks compounds down into individual elements.

3. Clay Zavada

Michelle and Shane / Southern Comfort Blues Band sponsor(s) this page.

I have an overwhelming desire to draw mustaches on the current pictures of Clay Zavada!

You remember Clay Zavada, right? That guy who had a pretty good year for the Diamondbacks in 2009?

Nice facial hair, huh? So just what does Clay Zavada look like now?

Jonathan Silverman's baseball dreams finally come true!

2. Otis Nixon

Steve Treder sponsor(s) this page.

On behalf of Robert in Manhattan Beach, who says that Otis Nixon fulfilled two of his teenage fantasies, making "the catch" and nailing Pebbles. With those lines on his resume, other stuff can be overlooked.

Robert in Manhattan Beach sure has some odd fantasies. But yes, crack cocaine usage is mitigated by such achievements.

1. Jeff Reboulet

Chris Mueller, 93.7 The Fan Pittsburgh sponsor(s) this page.

"I was capable of playing every damn position on the field, and my mustache was rugged, yet classy. Let's see an advanced statistic track those intangibles." ---Jeff "JReb" Reboulet

I had to make this one #1, because when I read it, it put a smile on my face. I never knew much about Jeff Reboulet when he played, but he seems like a chap with a good sense of humor and a sharp wit. Hats off to you, Mr. Reboulet, for giving us a quote that deserves to be preserved.

And there you have it for 2013. I hope that 2014 will bring us a fresh crop of entries that are worth highlighting here. Sponsor some pages, everyone!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Award Pages Updated

Another season, another round of awards. All the interesting ones are in the books, so the following reference pages have been updated:

Which Team Had the Most Cy Young Winners?
Rookie of the Year Facts
The Second-Place Award Winners