Monthly Archives: May, 2015

Want sports excitement? Try Game 7 overtime in the NHL!

Game7

Of the four major professional sports in the U.S. (MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL), the NHL probably ranks last on the sports fan interest list. But if you are not a hockey fan, and specifically, an NHL fan, you are missing out on one of the most exciting aspects of sports: the Game 7 overtime game… hockey’s version of sudden death.

On May 13, the New York Rangers Derek Stepan scored an overtime goal in Game Seven of the Rangers series against the Washington Capitals. That goal advanced the Rangers into the Eastern Conference Finals.

That Game Seven OT goal was the 14th time since 2000 that an NHL series was decided in the final game of the series on an overtime score. It was also the fifth straight year that at least one NHL playoff series ended with a Game Seven OT goal; in fact, there were two such games in the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 NHL playoffs. With three NHL playoff series remaining to be played this season, could their be a second such game/series this year?

What makes these NHL Game Seven OT games so special is that they happen far more frequently than the other three sports. The NBA has had only two Game Seven series end in overtime since 2000; MLB has had only one seven-game series end in extra innings in Game Seven since 2000. (Of course, the NFL does not have multiple-game series, but there have been 17 playoff games that have ended in overtime this century.)

Here’s a brief look at some other stats from Game Sevens and overtime in the four major professional sports since 2000:

* There have been 66 series that have gone to a seventh game in the NHL since 2000.

* There have been 45 playoff series that have gone to a seventh game in the NBA since 2000. The only two series that ended in overtime of the seventh game since 2000 were in 2002 when the Lakers defeated the Kings in the Western Conference finals and in 2006 when Dallas won game seven in OT in their Western Conference semifinals against San Antonio.

* The only MLB seven-game series to end in extra innings since 2000 was in 2003. The New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 6-5 in 11 innings to win the American League Championship Series and advance to the World Series. They lost to the Florida Marlins in six games in the World Series that year. There have been 12 series that went seven games in the MLB post-season since 2000; four happened in the World Series, four happened in the ALCS, and four happened in the NLCS.

* Of the 17 NFL playoff games that have ended in overtime, four were a conference title game (the last was this past season when the Seahawks defeated the Packers), seven were in a divisional playoff contest, and six were in a Wild Card game. None of the Super Bowls since 2000 ended in OT; in fact, no Super Bowl game has ever gone into overtime.

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MLB players blessed with speed and a great eye at the plate

 

rickey-henderson

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to discover the secret to Rickey Henderson’s success in baseball: He had great speed and a great eye at the plate. That translated to a career where Henderson is not only the MLB career leader in stolen bases with 1,406 (he is the only player with more than 1,000 career steals) but he is also second all-time behind Barry Bonds in walks with 2,190.

That combination of speed and discernment at the plate makes Rickey the only player in MLB history to have over 1,000 steals and walks. But there are a few other players who have taken advantage of their own double-barreled threat at the plate and on the base paths. In fact, there are 10 players in MLB history who have at least 500 stolen bases and 1,000 walks. They are:

Player, Stolen Bases, Walks (last MLB season)
Barry Bonds, 514-2558 (2007)
Brett Butler, 558-1129 (1997)
Max Carey, 728-1040 (1929)
Ty Cobb, 897-1249 (1928)
Eddie Collins, 741-1499 (1930)
Rickey Henderson, 1406-2190 (2003)
Paul Molitor, 504-1094 (1998)
Joe Morgan, 689-1865 (1984)
Tim Raines, 808-1330 (2002)
Ozzie Smith, 580-1072 (1996)

Of the 10 players above, seven are in the Hall of Fame; the three that are not: Bonds, Butler and Raines.

Looking at today’s players, there are eight players who were active in 2014 that have 250 career stolen bases and 500 career walks. The eight:

Player, Stolen Bases, Walks
Melvin Upton, 264-531
Ichiro Suzuki, 490-573
Jimmy Rollins, 456-768
Alex Rodriquez, 322-1258
Hanley Ramirez, 262-514
Rafael Furcal, 314-643
Coco Crisp, 297-506
Carlos Beltran, 311-978

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Corey Kluber’s 18-strikeouts, no walks game a classic

CoreyKluber

In his first seven starts this season, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, Cleveland Indians pitcher Corey Kluber, had an 0-5 record and didn’t look anything like the dominant pitcher he was in 2014.

That all changed last night. Kluber pitched eight innings of one-hit ball against the St. Louis Cardinals in his team’s 2-0 win. Kluber had 18 strikeouts and no walks in the game.

Kluber became the 20th pitcher since 1914 to fan 18 or more in a game and the first since Milwaukee’s Ben Sheets had 18 K’s against Atlanta on May 16, 2004. It was also the 30th game where a pitcher had 18+ strikeouts. Four pitchers have fanned 18 or more in multiple games: Nolan Ryan (five), Randy Johnson (four), Roger Clemens (three) and Sandy Koufax (two). One interesting note about Kluber’s 18-strikeout performance is that he is only the second pitcher to amass that many strikeouts in a game while pitching less than nine innings. The other was Randy Johnson.

Kluber’s gem last night was the 238th game in MLB history where a pitcher had 15 or more strikeouts. It was also the 38th game where a pitcher had 15 or more strikeouts and no walks. The last time it happened was just four days ago when the New York Yankees’ Michael Pineda had 16 strikeouts and no walks in his team’s win over Baltimore.

The 18-strikeout, no walks performance by Kluber was only the eighth time in MLB history that a pitched fanned that many in a game without giving up a walk. This was the first such game since May 8, 2001 when Randy Johnson fanned 20 and walked none in that game.

Here are the eight pitchers who have now struck out 18 or more in a game with no walks.

Corey Kluber, 5/13/2015, 18 strikeouts
Randy Johnson, 5/8/2001, 20 strikeouts
Roger Clemens, 8/28/1998, 18 strikeouts
Kerry Wood, 5/6/1998, 20 strikeouts
Randy Johnson, 6/24/1997, 19 strikeouts
Roger Clemens, 9/18/1996, 20 strikeouts
Roger Clemens, 4/29/1986, 20 strikeouts
Luis Tiant, 7/3/1968, 19 strikeouts

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2015 NBA champion will be a new title face for the league

Bulls1998

This year’s NBA champion will be a team that has not won a title this century.

Of the eight teams remaining in this year’s playoffs, the Chicago Bulls last won a title in 1998, the most recent championship of any of the eight teams. In fact, three of the eight (Atlanta, L.A. Clippers and Memphis) have never won a title, and two franchises, Golden State and Washington, last won titles prior to 1980.

Since 2000, the NBA has had six champions: Boston, Dallas, Detroit, L.A. Lakers, Miami and San Antonio. The Lakers, Spurs and Heat have won 12 of those 15 titles since 2000, with the Celtics, Mavs and Pistons each winning one apiece. Those six champions are the fewest of the four major sports; MLB has had nine different franchises win a World Series since 2000, both the NHL and NFL have had 10 different teams win a title since the start of the century.

Of those NBA six teams that have won titles since 2000, three did not make the playoffs this year (Lakers, Pistons and Heat) while the other three (Celtics, Mavs and Spurs) each lost in the first round of the playoffs this year.

Here’s a look at the eight current teams in the NBA playoffs and the last time they made it to their conference title games, they last time they made it to the NBA Finals, and the last year they won an NBA title.

Team…conference finals…NBA Finals…Won title

Atlanta           1970…1961…1958
Chicago          2011…1998…1998
Cleveland       2009…2007…Never
Golden State 1976…1976…1975
Houston         1997…1995…1995
L.A. Clippers  Never…Never…Never
Memphis        2013…Never…Never
Washington   1979…1979…1978

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Brewers players with three home runs in a game

Ben Oglivie hit three home runs in a game three times for the Brewers

Ben Oglivie hit three home runs in a game three times for the Brewers

At this point in the 2015 Milwaukee Brewers season, the pitching staff has allowed twice as many home runs as the offense has hit (allowed 42, hit 21). Not a great stat to hang your hat on for the team.

But there have been times in the past when the home run has been an important part of the team’s success. And, there have been a few times when one player has supplied significant power at the plate all by himself.

There have been 19 times in the team’s history that a Brewers player has hit three home runs in a game. Thirteen different players have homered three times in a game for the Brewers on at least one occasion. Here’s a handful of stats re: Brewers players who have hit three home runs in a game.

* The first Brewer player to hit three HRs in a game was Ben Oglivie on July 8, 1979.

* The Brewers are 18-1 in games when one of their players has a three-HR game. The only loss was on May 12, 1982 versus Kansas City when Paul Motitor had three HRS in a 9-7 loss to the Royals.

* Oglivie holds the Brewers record with three games with three homers. Four other players have hit three homers in two games for Milwaukee: Jeromy Burnitz, Geoff Jenkins, Richie Sexson and Ryan Braun.

* Burnitz and Sexson hit three home runs in the same game on August 25, 2001, a 9-4 win over Arizona.

* The last Brewers player to hit three jacks in a game was Braun on April 8, 2014.

* Most RBIs in a game when a Brewers player hit three HRs is seven; both Corey Hart (5/23/2011) and Braun (4/8/2014) had seven RBI in their three-HR games on those dates.

* A Brewers player had hit three-HRs in a game three times against the Detroit Tigers, most of any opponent.

* A Brewers player had a three-HR game four times in 2001, most of any season.

* Of the 19 times a Brewers player hit three HRs in a game, 11 happened at home, eight happened on the road.

* Here’s a look at which months these 19 occurrences happened for the Brew Crew: April-5, May-5, June-1, July-4, August-1, September-3.

* Of the Brewer players who hit three HRs in a game, six were playing left field in the game, five were playing first base, four were playing right field, two were playing third base, and one each were playing second base and shortstop.

* Of the Brewer players who hit three HRs in a game, five were batting third in the order, four each were batting fourth or fifth in the order, two were hitting in the sixth spot, one each were hitting first, second, seventh and ninth in the order. Dale Sveum was hitting ninth in the order when he had three HRs on July 17, 1987.

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