Thursday’s Den: 13 baseball careers that deserve another look

13) Vada Pinson:
— Had 2,757 hits in 18 years, mostly for Cincinnati
— From 1959-67, he played in 154+ games every year.
— Led NL in hits twice, doubles twice, triples twice, runs scored once.
— Arguably the best player not in the Hall of Fame.

12) Octavio Dotel— July 1999, Dotel is a rookie for the Mets; he is pitching on a Saturday afternoon against the Cubs. I’m in my dad’s hospital room; he had cancer surgery four days earlier, and now, the nurse is struggling with one of the tubes in his right arm.

My dad lets out a yell, the nurse jumps and asks if she hurt him. He waves his left arm and says “Its not you. The Cubs have the bases loaded.”

Got up, went up and got a Coke out of a vending machine and stopped worrying about him.

— Played for 13 different teams, in a 15-year career.
— Was with Astros for five years; didn’t play more than two years for anyone else.
— Started 30 games his first two years, started only four more games in his career. He wound up with 109 saves.
— Made the playoffs five times, for five different teams.

11) Al Oliver
— One of the most underrated hitters ever: hit .303 in an 18-year career.
— Made All-Star Game seven times.
— Played 10 years for the Pirates, then bounced around to six other teams.
— Led NL in RBI’s in 1982, when he was 35.

10) Tommy John: He actually had two different careers:
— 1963-74 , before the surgery: 124-106
— 1975— Sat out entire season
— 1976-89, after the surgery: 164-125
— From 1977-82- Made playoffs five times in six years, his only playoff appearances.

9) Nolan Ryan
— Threw seven no-hitters, with last one coming at age 44. 
— Spent 27 years in majors; pitched in ’69 World Series at age 22, but never got back.
— Led AL in strikeouts four years in row from 1987-90, at ages 37-40.
— How the hell did someone this good lose 292 games (324-292)?

8) Jamie Quirk
— Played 18 years in majors, batted 250+ times in only one season.
— Played for eight teams, playing 11 years in Kansas City.
— Made playoffs four times, winning a ring with ’85 Royals.
— .645 career OPS; he must’ve been a good receiver.

7) Mike Morgan
— Morgan started a game against the Orioles three days after his high school graduation, at age 18. He lost 3-0 on a Sunday afternoon.
— Wound up lasting 22 years in the majors, for 12 different teams.
— In 1991-92, he went a combined 30-16 for Dodgers/Cubs, his best stretch.
— Made playoffs twice, with ’98 Cubs, ’01 Diamondbacks.

6) Matt Stairs
— Played 19 years in the majors for 12 different teams.
— Hit 265 home runs, had career OPS of .832.
— Played five years for the A’s, only team he played with for more than 3 years.
— Won a World Series ring with the 2008 Phillies. 

5) Jose Vizcaino
— Played 18 years in majors for eight different teams.
— 434 games at 2B, 226 at 3B, 947 at short, 355 as a pinch-hitter.
— Never made an All-Star Game, but earned $26M in his career.
— Made playoffs six times, three times with Houston. 

4) Gary Sheffield
— Played 22 years in big leagues, for eight teams.
— Hit 509 homers, had a career OPS of .905.
— Hit .312, had .998 OPS in four years with Dodgers.
— Made nine All-Star Games, played in playoffs six years.

3) Gaylord Perry
— Played for eight teams in his 22-year career.
— Went 314-265 in his career, with 303 complete games.
— Went 21-6 for the ’78 Padres, when he was 39 years old.
— Wrote a book in 1974; Me and the Spitter. He admitted he cheated.

2) Bartolo Colon
— Was the last active major leaguer who had played for the Montreal Expos.
— Once threw 38 consecutive strikes in a game at Anaheim.
— Played for 21 years with 11 different teams; he spent six years in Cleveland.
— Went 247-188 our his career, made four All-Star Games

1) Rickey Henderson
— All-time greatest base stealer, with 1,406 stolen bases.
— Played 25 years in majors for nine teams; he played 14 years in his hometown of Oakland, in four different stints.
— Led off 81 games with home runs, 27 more than anyone else.
— Had a career on-base %age of .401; in 1990, he had a .439 OB%. 

Wednesday’s Den: All-time lineup for NL West teams

All-time rosters, (for players since 1960):
NL West teams
Arizona Diamondbacks
C-  Miguel Montero
1B-  Paul Goldschmidt
2B-  Orlando Hudson
SS-  Stephen Drew
3B- Matt Williams
OF- Luis Gonzalez
OF- Justin Upton
OF- Steve Finley
DH-  AJ Pollock
SP-  Brandon Webb
SP-  Randy Johnson
SP- Patrick Corbin
SP- Robbie Ray
RP- Jose Valverde

Colorado Rockies
C- Chris Iannetta
1B- Todd Helton
2B- DJ LeMahieu 
SS-  Trevor Story
3B- Nolan Arenado
OF- Larry Walker
OF- Matt Holliday 
OF- Carlos Gonzalez
DH- Charlie Blackmon
SP- Aaron Cook
SP- Jorge de la Rosa
SP- Jeff Francis
SP- Jason Jennings
RP- Brian Fuentes

Los Angeles Dodgers
(My friend Luke helped me with this one)
C-  Mike Piazza
1B- Steve Garvey
2B- Davey Lopes
SS-  Maury Wills
3B-  Justin Turner
OF- Reggie Smith
OF- Pedro Guerrero 
OF- Cody Bellinger
DH- Tommy Davis
SP- Sandy Koufax
SP- Don Drysdale
SP- Clayton Kershaw
SP- Don Sutton
RP- Kenley Jansen

San Diego Padres
C-  Benito Santiago
1B- Adrian Gonzalez
2B- Mark Loretta
SS-  Garry Templeton
3B- Ken Caminiti
OF- Tony Gwynn
OF- Dave Winfield
OF-  Carmelo Martinez
DH- Nate Colbert
SP- Randy Jones
SP- Jake Peavy
SP- Eric Show
SP-  Andy Benes
RP- Trevor Hoffman

San Francisco Giants
C-  Buster Posey 
1B- Willie McCovey
2B- Jeff Kent
SS- Brandon Crawford
3B- Matt Williams 
OF- Willie Mays
OF- Barry Bonds  
OF- Bobby Bonds 
DH- Will Clark
SP-  Juan Marichal
SP- Madison Bumgarner
SP- Gaylord Perry
SP- Matt Cain
RP- Rod Beck 

Tuesday’s Den: Words of advice from a great poker player…….

It dawned on me today that I have a lot of books in my house, and I’ve read just about all of them, but most of them I read a long time ago; these days, I’m re-reading bits and pieces of them, and that has worked pretty well.

Today I’m reading “Ace on the River” a book written by the great poker player Barry Greenstein in 2005. If you like to gamble in general, or specifically play poker, there is a lot of wisdom in this book, some of which I’m going to share with you today.

Here are some of the characteristics that Barry Greenstein says “….separate winning poker players from losing players”

— Have a good sense of humor— Winning players have learned to tolerate bad beats that happen. A gallows’ sense of humor may help them endure the bad times.

— The best players must be able to talk their way into good situations and should be gracious to losing players. There are times when they have to be able to speak up for their own best interest. Being able to talk is a plus, and so is knowing when to be quiet.

— Winning players have to formulate strategies and change them when they’re not working. Intelligence is the ability to adapt to one’s environment; an intelligent player knows how to use information to his maximum advantage.

— Most winning poker players are quiet during each hand and maintain the proverbial poker face. Even after losing a hand, they don’t show their disappointment.

— Winning poker players have memorized basic strategy; they remember what worked in the past, and what didn’t. They have a mental catalogue of every opponent’s playing style and idiosyncrasies.

— Winning players aren’t afraid to pull the trigger; they aren’t afraid to make the right play, even if it is risky. They also realize that there is a fine line between being bold and being reckless.

— Even if a good player’s results have been bad, he will continue to make decisions that he believes are the right ones.

— If a game is far more lucrative than usual, a good player will not quit, especially if he is winning. He looks at this as an opportunity to make enough money so he won’t have to work as long on occasions when the game isn’t as juicy.

— Many winning poker players are very scrappy; some were refugees from other countries. They know life isn’t always fair, and they’re used to fighting to survive. They expect obstacles and believe they can overcome them. In the Darwinian sense, winning players are survivors of the poker battle.

— Winning players don’t take anyone’s advice without thinking about it first. Plenty of bad advice is readily available; they don’t submit to peer pressure that will lead them down the bumpy path the majority has followed.

— Winning players are usually big tippers; they don’t place a high value on money because it comes so easily at times that it doesn’t hurt to give some of it away. They are respectful of people who work hard for their money.

— Winning players pay great attention to detail; they remember each pot, how many players were in it, who raised, who had the key cards, who hesitated at key moments.

— Psychologically tough— The best don’t give in, no matter how severe the psychological beating. Psychologically tough players have the mindset that they can win in any situation and can overcome anything. You cannot judge a player until you see how he handles adversity.

Again, the book is “Ace on the River”, written by Barry Greenstein. If you can find it online or in a bookstore, you’ll learn a lot from it.