Around the Bases – Vol VII: Interleage Play and Does Curt Schilling Deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?

Schill After our second go-around of inter-league play this season, we saw some very interesting things.  Once again, we were witness to the American League’s total domination over the National League as they took the overall season series 149-102.  We saw an American League pitcher hit a grand slam, we saw a National League hitter set a record as a DH in an AL ballpark for RBI, and we saw possibly the craziest thing we could see, a team allow no hits in a game and still lose.

 This is where we start our look this week Around the Bases.

 *  For the 5th consecutive season, the AL has taken the inter-league series from the NL.  The closest the NL has come in that time span was in ’04 when the AL led 127-125.  The most the AL dominated by in that span was in ’06 when they crushed the NL 154-98.  Overall, the AL is 133 games over .500 for that time span.

 The AL has only 2 teams under .500 against the NL this season, Cleveland (6-12) and Toronto (8-10).  That’s one less than they finished with last season.  The KC Royals, amazingly, went 13-5 against the NL.  They’re only 12-14 against their own division.  Maybe they should consider a move?  Likewise for Detroit, who also went 13-5 against the NL.  They are only 10-19 against their own division so far this season.  By the way, the only two NL teams to go over .500 against the AL were the NY Mets and the Cincinnati Reds, who both had identical 9-6 records.

 *  It had to be inter-league play to allow the following odd things to happen:

     Last Monday, Seattle pitcher Felix Hernandez, hitting since they were playing at Shea Stadium, a National League park, hit a grand slam.  Now, this wasn’t any grand slam.  This actually was a first for many things:  This was King Felix’s first HR of his career, one which previously he had gone 1-9 with a single.   It was also the first HR by any Mariners pitcher, ever, and the first grand slam ever hit by a pitcher in any interleague game. 

 And, the slam didn’t just come off of any opposing pitcher.  Hernandez hit it off of Johan Santana.  What makes this such a big deal is that Santana had given up exactly one (1) grand slam in his entire big league career (Michael Young, Sept. ’05) prior to Hernandez abusing him. 

king felix

 For the record, Felix Hernandez became the first pitcher to hit a grand slam since Dontrelle Willis in 2006.  According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first grand slam by an AL pitcher since Cleveland’s Steve Dunning went yard against Oakland’s Diego Segui in May ’71.

     As amazing as Hernandez’s feat was, it wasn’t the first HR hit by an AL pitcher this season.  That honor goes to Cleveland Indians hurler C.C. Sabathia.  C.C. hit his HR a few days earlier off  of Dodger’s pitcher Chan Ho Park.  And it wasn’t a cheap HR either.  Sabathia put all of his 6’7’’, 290 pounds into it.  This ball was a rocket that traveled an estimated 440 feet. 

 Sabathia became the first AL pitcher since July ’02 (Gaylord Perry) to hit a HR and strike out 10 batters in the same game.  He also became the first AL pitcher to hit 2 HR in interleague play.  His first came off of Red’s pitcher Elizardo Ramirez in ’05. 

      On Friday afternoon, the NY Mets and NY Yankees had a make-up game in Yankee Stadium before they started their actual weekend series on Friday night at Shea Stadium.  In the make-up game, Carlos Delgado set a new record for most RBI by a DH (9), since he was playing in an AL stadium. 

      –  Then, last Saturday, one of the rarest of all baseball feats occurred in Chavez Ravine.  The LA Dodgers were no-hit by the duo of Jered Weaver and Jose Arredondo, and still won, 1-0.  How did this happen, you wonder?  An error by Weaver allowing Matt Kemp to get on first (a very strange play in itself that could have easily been ruled a hit), followed by a stolen base and subsequent throw past second base into the outfield and a jog to 3B, followed by a sacrifice fly that brought Kemp home. No hits, one error, one unearned run.  Dodgers 1, Angels 0.   
In the 7th inning, with a runner on 2B, Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia put in a pinch hitter for Weaver, who still hadn’t given up a hit.   If they were playing in Anaheim, Weaver might have gone the distance.  Scioscia wouldn’t have had to pull him for a pinch hitter, he wouldn’t have been hitting. 

 Unfortunately, it wasn’t an official no-hitter.  Due to MLB Regulations, an official no-hitter occurs “when a pitcher (or pitchers) allows no hits during the entire course of a game, which consists of at least nine innings”.  Since the Angels only pitched eight innings, it wasn’t a no-hitter.  And, this isn’t the first time this has happened.  In fact, it’s the third time it’s happened in the expansion era (1961).  The last time was in ’92 when Red Sox pitcher Matt Young didn’t throw a no-hitter against the Indians. 

 So, as far as everyone is officially concerned, it was just a win by the Dodgers and a loss by the Angels.  But it was one of the strangest games anyone involved can ever remember being in.

 *  There is a very strong possibility that five years from now, distinguished members of the Baseball Writers of America will be presented with quite a question:  Is Curt Schilling deserving of their Hall of Fame vote?  Sure, his shoulder surgery was deemed successful and his doctors say that he will be able to pitch off the mound by January, but will he want to?  And what team might want to take a chance on him?  So, let’s play with the idea that he does retire and his name does, in fact, appear on the Hall of Fame ballot in January, 2013.  What is one to do?

 No matter where Curt Schilling has been, he’s been nothing short of spectacular.  No, he’s never won a Cy Young Award, and I am well aware that he only has 216 wins.  But it’s what he’s done with those wins that’s so impressive.  He’s always been known as a workhorse, and his work ethic is legendary.  But, did you know that he has 83 complete games.  The only pitcher who comes close in the same time period is Greg Maddux (58). 

 Amongst right handed pitchers, Schilling ranks 3rd in strikeouts (3,116) to only Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez.  And I told my good friend Cary that Schilling had the 3rd best K/BB ratio in history, but when I looked it up, I was wrong.  Schilling’s K/BB ratio (4.38 K / each BB) is the best among all pitchers since 1900.  The legendary Tommy Bond, who played on three different teams from 1874 to 1884, including the Brooklyn Atlantics, the Hartford Dark Blues, and the Boston Red Caps, had Schilling slightly beat for the best ratio in baseball history (4.44 K / BB).

 Now, take a look at the post-season.  Find a more dominating post-season pitcher.  I dare you to.  ’01, ’04, and ’07.  Three post-seasons that made a man into a legend.  Few people outside of Arizona and New York talk about the ’01 Series very much, beyond Luis Gonzalez’s 7th game, bottom of the 9th single off of Mariano to win it. But the fact remains, Schilling was the World Series Co-MVP, and with good reason.  Yeah, he only had one win in that series, but he pitched 21.1 innings and struck out 26 while only walking 2.  He finished the Series with a 1.69 ERA after giving up only 4 earned runs in his 3 appearances.  Amazing stuff.

 But that pales in comparison to what he did in the ’04 post-season for the Red Sox.  It wasn’t necessarily the numbers that were so good, although he did blank the Cardinals in the Series, but only had a very uncharacteristic six Ks and 4 BBs.  It was the guts and determination that he pitched with, the refusal to let a serious injury stop him from doing his job that he will be remembered for and that is what the voters should consider.  In the ALCS against the NY Yankees, Schilling had minor surgery on the tendon in his foot literally sewing his tendon to the bone, in case you forgot) that would allow him to pitch, knowing that it might further extend the damage of the ligament. 

 His overall numbers in the post-season are staggering: 11-2, 2.23 ERA, 120 K, 20 BB.  If you take out the first game against the Yankees in the ’04 ALCS where he played injured, his ERA drops to 1.86, second only to Christy Mathewson in the past 100 years for pitchers with over 100 innings pitched in the post season, and he ranks 1st in winning percentage (11-1, .916).

 If the Big Schill is done pitching, the Baseball Writer’s of America have quite a daunting task ahead of them come one January morning in 2013 when they open their mailboxes.  They really should start thinking about it now, just in case.


 Curt Schilling has never won a Cy Young Award, although he has came in second place three times.  In both 2001 and 2002, he came in 2nd to Arizona Diamondbacks teammate Randy Johnson.  Who bested him in 2004, his first season in the AL? (Please don’t check the internet, that’s just too easy).

winnerFill out the form below to submit your answer. The winner will be drawn at random from all correct entries. First prize is Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show DVD, courtesy of New Line Home Entertainment.



Of ACTIVE players, Ken Griffey Jr. is the RBI leader with 1728.  Who is 2nd in RBI among ACTIVE players?



Congratulations to Joe Lichman, who was selected amongst a few of the correct answers submitted.


*  The voting for the 2008 All-Star game ended at midnight last night in what is being called the tightest voting in All-Star history.  This year’s voting also surpassed all prior voting records with 214.7 million votes from 16.5 million ballots on and at stadiums around the country.  That’s approximately 40% higher than any previous past total number of ballots cast.   In the last 24 hours alone, more than 41 million votes were cast eclipsing the previous single-day record of 26 million votes set on the last day of voting in 2005.

And what does all that voting mean?  I guess we’ll find out on Sunday at 2:00 PM.  That’s when the All-Star Selection show will be aired on TBS.  It will be hosted by former ESPN’s Baseball Tonight analyst and former player Harold Reynolds, a 2-time All-Star himself. 


Most of the races went right down to the wire, especially in the AL.  Twins catcher Joe Mauer was in a tight race with Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek for the starting slot.  The last ballot showed Mauer pulling away and leading by nearly 145,000 votes after a strong push from voters in the last week.


Another race that was very tight between a Sox player and a Twins player was at 1B where Kevin Youkilis and Justin Morneau were in a battle.  In the past week, Youkilis has surged and at last ballot count led by almost 274,000 votes.


The third outfield spot is still very much up in the air as well.  Less than 263,000 votes separate current 3rd outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and 6th place J.D. Drew, with Vlad Guerero and Bobby Abreu sandwiched between them. 


Here is the latest AL balloting:

AMERICAN LEAGUE (as of June 29)




1. Kevin Youkilis, 1,915,376

1. Dustin Pedroia, 1,669,216

1. Alex Rodriguez, 2,518,067

2. Justin Morneau, 1,641,467

2. Ian Kinsler, 1,485,530

2. Mike Lowell, 1,313,090

3. Jason Giambi, 1,098,246

3. Robinson Cano, 1,040,835

3. Joe Crede, 726,593




1. Derek Jeter, 2,507,534

1. Joe Mauer, 1,632,338

1. Manny Ramirez, 2,409,388

2. Michael Young, 1,478,283

2. Jason Varitek, 1,487,390

2. Josh Hamilton, 2,327,467

3. Edgar Renteria, 692,232

3. Ivan Rodriguez, 1,014,879

3. Ichiro Suzuki, 1,397,460



4. Vladimir Guerrero, 1,187,273

1. Alex Rodriguez, 2,518,067

Alex Rodriguez, 2,518,067

5. Bobby Abreu, 1,141,618

2. Hideki Matsui, 1,567,847


6. J.D. Drew, 1,134,658

3. Jim Thome, 825,808



The NL races aren’t nearly as tight as the AL, with the exception of outfield and shortstop.  The spot for the 3rd outfielder is the tightest of all races in either league.  At last count, the Cubs’ Kosuke Fukudome leads Houston’s Ryan Braun by a mere 33,000 votes.  At shortstop, Florida’s Hanley Ramirez is leading Astros’ Miguel Tejada by less than 169,000 votes.  The rest of the positions appear to be pretty set.

Here is the latest NL balloting:

NATIONAL LEAGUE (as of June 30)




1. Lance Berkman, 2,132,663

1. Chase Utley, 2,645,027

1. Chipper Jones, 2,433,753

2. Albert Pujols, 1,408,622

2. Mark DeRosa, 1,139,698

2. Aramis Ramirez, 1,373,565

3. Derrek Lee, 1,383,909

3. Dan Uggla, 947,245

3. David Wright, 1,165,590




1. Hanley Ramirez, 1,483,875

1. Geovany Soto, 1,827,279

1. Alfonso Soriano, 2,120,635

2. Miguel Tejada, 1,315,240

2. Brian McCann, 1,149,247

2. Ken Griffey Jr., 1,917,739

3. Ryan Theriot, 1,114,336

3. Jason Kendall, 1,089,604

3. Kosuke Fukudome, 1,783,983



4. Ryan Braun, 1,751,058

1. Chase Utley, 2,645,027


5. Matt Holliday, 1,069,940



6. Carlos Lee, 1,052,114

Philadelphia Phillies’ 2B Chase Utley currently leads all players in votes with 2,645,027 at last balloting.