Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Pete Rose: Eye of two storms
By Jayson Stark
We now offer you the perfect excuse to take a break from snow shoveling (as if you needed one). It's a Super Bowl week edition of the top 10 Useless Information factoids of the week:
10. So you think it's been a stormy month for Pete Rose, huh? Loyal reader Phil Yabut says that should have been no surprise -- since the National Hurricane Center's list of Atlantic storm names last year had these two back-to-back: Peter and Rose.
9. A bunch of readers had a tremendous observation about the note in our last Useless Info column which reported that the last eight American League MVPs had all come from the smallest division in baseball -- the AL West. So which AL West team didn't produce an MVP during that streak? The Angels -- who, of course, were the only team in the division to win the World Series in that stretch.
8. No 300-game winner has ever finished his career with an ERA that matched his win total (well, sort of). But as reader Stuart Finkelstein reports, Greg Maddux is currently at 289 wins with a 2.89 ERA. Meanwhile, Roger Clemens is now at 310 wins with a 3.19 ERA. So they both have a shot. If they're wondering (or anyone else is), here are the closest finishes in that loveably ridiculous category, according to Lee Sinins' Sabermetric Encyclopedia:
Don Sutton: 324 wins, 3.26 ERA
|Greg Maddux is on pace to surpass 300 wins this season, but will his ERA rise accordingly?|
Gaylord Perry: 314 wins, 3.11 ERA
Nolan Ryan: 324 wins, 3.19 ERA
Lefty Grove: 300 wins, 3.06 ERA
Steve Carlton: 329 wins, 3.22 ERA
Incidentally, if Maddux feels like retiring now, he'd be the only pitcher with more than zero wins who has ever pulled off this fascinating feat.
7. Speaking of 300-game winners, we also passed along a note from a reader in our last edition which reported that, with the death of Warren Spahn, Steve Carlton had taken over the crown as the winningest living pitcher. Spahn had assumed the title 42 years earlier, with his 301st win in 1961. But loyal reader Durand Luger reports that Spahn's 42-year reign seems like two weeks, compared with the reign of Grove's predecessor, Cy Young.
Young passed Kid Nichols in 1902 (when he collected win No. 330) and then hung onto that title for an incredible 53 years. So in a period of more than 100 years, just three men could ever say they were the winningest living pitcher -- Young, Grove and Spahn. Hard to believe.
6. It's probably been a long time since you've thought much about the Devil Rays. But Devil Rays media-relations genius Rick Vaughn reports that the 361 combined hits by Rocco Baldelli (turned 22 on Sept. 25) and Carl Crawford (turned 22 on Aug. 5) last year were the most by teammates that young since 1940, when Bobby Doerr and some guy named Ted Williams combined for 366.
5. On the other hand, the Devil Rays became just the second team in modern history to have a higher batting average than its opponents (.265 to .264) and still lose 99 games or more. The other was the 1954 Orioles, who outhit their opponents, .251 to .250, but even topped the Rays -- by losing 100.
4. Here's the perfect note for this joyous election season. Loyal reader Christopher J. Fried reports that it shouldn't have surprised anyone that the Yankees lost the World Series last October. It's all George W. Bush's fault.
Since 1958, the Yankees have played 20 seasons with a Democrat in the White House -- and won eight World Series. But in their 25 seasons after a Republican gave the State of the Union, the Yankees are 0-for-25. They've now lost five straight World Series under Republican administrations. Think George Steinbrenner will vote Democratic this fall after he reads this note?
3. It's hard to imagine a baseball season without Jesse Orosco -- considering that back in the last season without him (1978), Jim Bouton and Wilbur Wood were still active. Among Orosco's fabulous claims to fame is this: He played with six teams after turning 40, not even counting the Diamondbacks (who signed him this winter). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only one other player ever made that six-team tour in his 40s -- Gaylord Perry. Amazingly, he was right-handed.
2. Meanwhile, here's the best way to look at how long Orosco was around. He made his big-league debut on April 5, 1979. Know how many players appeared in a big-league game last season who weren't even alive that day? Would you believe 133 (according to Elias)? We kid you not.
1. Finally, our grand-prize winner this week (even though there's no grand prize except the thrill of appearing in this column) is loyal reader Leo McMichael. He got to thinking about the fact that this year marks the 40th anniversary of the Beatles appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show -- and challenged us to come up with a note befitting that occasion.
OK, here goes. Since 1964, here is the total of players getting at least one at-bat in the big leagues with the name of ...
Pauls (including Josh Paul) -- 50
Johns (including Tommy John) -- about 300 (sorry, too many to count)
Georges (not including Jeff George) -- about 100 (ditto)
Ringos -- 0
McCartneys -- 0
Lennons -- 1 (Patrick)
Harrisons -- 2 (Roric and Chuck)
Starrs -- 0
Now that, friends, is useless information!
WAIT -- SPECIAL SUPER BOWL BONUS FACTOID:
The Patriots are in the Super Bowl two years after winning a Super Bowl -- and one year after missing the playoffs altogether. So how many baseball teams have followed that script -- won a World Series, missed the postseason the next year, then won the World Series the following year? How about five (but none since division play). Here's the list:
1916-18 Red Sox
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your Useless Information to: email@example.com. Click here to send Jayson a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.