Monthly Archives: June, 2015

Steph Curry misses out on unique NBA ‘Grand Slam’ honor

StephCurry

When Golden State’s Andre Iguodala was selected as the NBA Finals MVP on Tuesday night, it prevented Warriors star and teammate Steph Curry from becoming the ninth NBA player to win a unique version of the league’s Grand Slam.

Curry led the Warriors to the league’s best regular-season record and a title while being named the 2014-15 season MVP. Iguodala, however, was named the Finals MVP. Eight players previously won the league MVP, Finals MVP, and saw his team win the most games in the regular season and win the title.

Here’s a look at those players who won the league MVP and Finals MVP in the same year their team won the most regular-season games and the NBA title.

1970: Willis Reed, New York Knicks
1971: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee Bucks
1983: Moses Malone, Philadelphia 76ers
1984, 1986: Larry Bird, Boston Celtics
1987: Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers
1992, 1996: Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
2000: Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
2013:  LeBron James, Miami Heat

Note: Michael Jordan almost accomplished this feat a third time, but his Bulls tied for the most regular-season wins in 1998 with the Utah Jazz; Tim Duncan in 2003 was league MVP, Finals MVP and saw his Spurs win the NBA title, but the Spurs were tied for most regular-season wins that year with Dallas.

In the 60 seasons the NBA has awarded an MVP Award for the regular season (since 1955-56), the league MVP’s team has played in the NBA Finals that year 31 times. Of those 31 times, the league MVP’s team has won the title 23 times (Curry and the Warriors were the 23rd time).

The regular-season MVP has also been the Finals MVP 15 times: Willis Reed (1970), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1971), Moses Malone (1983), Larry Bird (1984), Larry Bird (1986), Magic Johnson (1987), Michael Jordan (1991), Michael Jordan (1992), Hakeem Olajuwon (1994), Michael Jordan (1996), Michael Jordan (1998), Shaquille O’Neal (2000), Tim Duncan (2003), LeBron James (2012), LeBron James (2013).

One final note: This year was only the second time in NBA history that a regular-season MVP saw his team win the NBA title but he did not win the NBA Finals MVP. The other time was in 1980 when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won the league MVP and the Lakers won the championship that season, but teammate Magic Johnson was the Finals MVP.

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Max Scherzer notches first one-hitter of the season

Scherzer

Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer tossed a one-hitter yesterday against the Brewers striking out 16. It was the first one-hitter of this 2015 season and the first of Scherzer’s career.

Scherzer became the 604th MLB pitcher since 1914 to throw a complete game one-hitter. It was the first one-hitter since the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta had a one-hitter versus the Reds last year on September 16. There were six one-hitters in the majors last year.

Since 1914 there have 185 pitchers who have thrown multiple one-hitters in their career, Topping the list are a pair of Hall of Famers, Bob Feller and Nolan Ryan. Both had 12 one-hitters in their careers. Ryan also had seven no-hitters, while Feller had three no-hitters.

Here’s a look at the pitchers who had four or more one-hitters in their career.

12: Bob Feller, Nolan Ryan

6: Steve Carlton, Bobo Newson (Note: Carlton and Newson both did not have a no-hitter in their careers, giving them the most one-hitters in a career without a no-hitter)

5: Bert Blyleven, Phil Douglas, Jim Maloney, Jim Palmer, Tom Seaver, Dave Steib, Don Sutton

4: Pete Alexander, Vida Blue, Mike Cuellar, Woodie Fryman, Randy Johnson, Walter Johnson, Sam McDowell, Guy Milton, Mike Mussina, Billy Pierce, Ken Raffensberger, Steve Rogers, Anibal Sanchez, Virgil Trucks, Bob Turley, Hippo Vaughn, Lon Warnecke, Rick Wise, Whit Wyatt.

* Thirty-six pitchers have lost a game where they pitched a complete game one-hitter. The last was Detroit’s David Price on August 14, 2014. Price surrendered one hit and an unearned run in the Tigers’ loss to Tampa Bay.

* There have been seven post-season one-hitters. The last one was Roger Clemens on October 14, 2000.

* The last pitcher to pitch a complete game one-hitter in a World series contest was Jim Lonborg on October 5, 1967.

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Houston Astros on target for rare two-year turnaround

Astros

One of the biggest surprises of the 2015 MLB season has been the play of the Houston Astros. From 2011-2013, the Astros had three straight 100-loss seasons, including a team-record 111 losses in 2013. Through the first two months of this season, however, we have seen a different Astros team. Currently, they sit atop the American League West with a 35-28 record (.556 winning percentage) and a 1.5 game lead over Texas.

If the Astros continue at this pace and end the season above .500, they would become only the 17th team in MLB history to go from 100 or more losses in a season to playing over .500 two years later. The last MLB franchise to achieve this was the Tampa Bay Rays. Tampa Bay in 2006 had 101 losses; two years later they were 97-65 (a .599 winning percentage) and made the 2008 World Series (where they lost in five games to the Philadelphia Phillies).

Of the previous 16 teams to go from a 100-loss season to a winning percentage above .500 two years later:

* Six made the playoffs that season; four played in the World Series, two won the championship that year.

* Two won over 60% of their games (the 1914 Boston Braves lost 101 games and then were 94-59/.614 two years later; 1967 New York Mets lost 101 games and then were 100-62/.617 two years later). Both teams won the World Series that year.

Here’s a look at the 16 teams that lost 100+ games one season and then two years later finished the season over .500.

Team, 100-loss season (two years later)

New York Yankees, 103 losses in 1908 (.583 in 1910)
Boston Braves, 101 losses in 1914 (.614 in 1916)
Pittsburgh, 103 losses in 1917 (.511 in 1919)
Philadelphia Phillies, 102 losses in 1930 (.506 in 1932)
Boston Braves, 115 losses in 1935 (.520 in 1937)
Philadelphia A’s, 105 losses in 1946 (.545 in 1948)
Philadelphia A’s, 102 losses in 1950 (.513 in 1952)
Philadelphia Phillies, 107 losses in 1961 (.537 in 1963)
Boston Red Sox, 100 losses in 1965 (.568 in 1967)
Chicago Cubs, 103 losses in 1966 (.519 in 1968)
New York Mets, 101 losses in 1967 (.617 in 1969)
Chicago White Sox, 106 losses in 1970 (.565 in 1972)
Oakland, 108 losses in 1979 (.587 in 1981)
San Francisco, 100 losses in 1985 (.556 in 1987)
Detroit, 103 losses in 1989 (.519 in 1991)
Tampa Bay, 101 losses in 2006 (.599 in 2008)

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Brewers duo make historic pitching debuts as starters

 

Taylor Jungmann

Taylor Jungmann

Within the span of one week, the Milwaukee Brewers had two pitchers make their Major League debuts by making quality starts. In fact, rookie hurlers Tyler Cravy and Taylor Jungmann joined a short list of pitchers who have put up some pretty impressive numbers in their first start in an MLB uniform.

Cravy, starting June 2 against St. Louis, took the loss in the Brewers 1-0 defeat. He did, however, pitch seven innings allowing only four hits and giving up one earned run. Jungmann, starting June 9 against the Pirates, pitched an almost identical game to Cravy, although the Brewers won the contest 4-1. Jungmann got his first major league win by pitching seven innings, allowing only three hits and one earned run.

Cravy and Jungmann became the 131st and 132nd starting pitchers in MLB history (since 1914) to pitch at least seven innings, allow less than five hits and give up one or no earned runs in their MLB debut. It was the fourth time it happened in the majors this season as Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez (7.2 innings pitched, three hits and no earned runs)and Baltimore’s Mike Wright (7.1 innings pitched. four hits and no earned runs) achieved those numbers in their MLB debuts this season as starters.

For the Brewers, it was the third and fourth time a rookie pitcher making his MLB debut reached those numbers. Rickey Keeton on May 27, 1980 pitched seven innings allowing three hits and one earned run in his MLB debut as a starter; Steve Woodard had the best start of a Brewers rookie pitcher making his MLB debut when he on June 28, 1987 pitched eight innings allowing only one hit and no runs in his MLB debut as a starter. The Brew Crew won that game 1-0.Cravy

The Brewers became only the fourth team in MLB history to have two pitchers make their MLB debut as a starter with these numbers in the same season. In fact, with only one week separating Cravy’s and Jungmann’s performances, it was the shortest time between two such games by teammates in MLB history. The other teams that had two rookie starters reach these numbers in their debut in the same year: St. Louis (Michael Wacha and Tyler Lyons in 2013), San Diego (Brian Tollberg and Rodrigo Lopez in 2000) and Anaheim (Brian Cooper and Ramon Ortiz in 1999).

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Where does American Pharoah rank among the greatest horses in history?

Secretariat: The greatest race horse of all-time

Secretariat: The greatest race horse of all-time

 

Now that American Pharoah has become the first horse to win horse racing’s Triple Crown in almost four decades, people are curious about where he ranks among the best race horses ever. Well, here is my unscientific answer to that question.

Let’s start with the fact that 12 horses have now won the Triple Crown. Of those 12, all raced the same length in their victories except for 1919 winner Sir Barton, whose victories in the Preakness and Belmont came at shorter distances than what is now run in those races. So, let’s compare the 11 horses that won all three races from 1930 (Gallant Fox) to 2015 (American Pharoah). All 11 raced the same distance in the three races of the Triple Crown.

The formula is quite simple: We are going to add the times of the three races for one grand total time (I told you it was unscientific). Before we do that, however, I am going to crown the greatest horse of all-time: Secretariat. Consider this… Secretariat has the fastest time in each of the three races, and he did it in 1973, over 40-plus years ago. If we compare Secretariat’s times in each race with American Pharoah, the closest American Pharoah gets to Secretariat is the Belmont; A.P. ran 2:26.65, while Secretariat’s 1973 time was 2:24, more than two seconds faster than A.P. Secretariat was almost five-and-a-half seconds faster in the Preakness and a little over 3.6 seconds faster in the Kentucky Derby.

So with Secretariat as the greatest horse of all-time, where does American Pharoah rank based on adding the times of the three races together? Here are the results.

1. Secretariat (1973) 6:16.4

2. Affirmed (1978) 6:22.4

3. Seattle Slew (1977) 6:26.2

4. American Pharoah (2015) 6:28.13

5. Count Fleet (1943) 6:29.6

6. War Admiral (1937) 6:30.2

7. Whirlaway (1941) 6:31.2

8. Omaha (1935) 6:33

9. Citation (1948) 6:36

10. Assault (1946) 6:38.8

11. Gallant Fox (1930) 6:39.8

It’s also interesting to note that the Triple Crown winners in the past seemed to come in bunches. After Sir Barton won the Triple Crown in 1919, seven horses won each of the three races in 19 years (from 1930 to 1948). After a 25-year drought, Secretariat won the Triple Crown in 1973; when Seattle Slew won in 1977 and Affirmed in 1978, it made it three Triple Crown winners in a span of six years. Now we have American Pharoah’s three-race win in 2015… could is mean a few more in the next years?

Well, that’s my take on this debate. What do you think?

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