Thursday’s Den: Doing some thinking out loud…….

13) Hitting in the major leaguers is harder than it has ever been; big part of that is because these days, hitters just don’t see the same pitchers very often— starting pitchers don’t stay in games as long now.

Here is some data for you:
— This is Mike Trout’s 11th full season in the big leagues. Here are the pitchers he has faced the most in his career:
88— Felix Hernandez
53— Hisashi Iwakuma
48— Derek Holland, Dallas Keuchel
41— Yu Darvish
40— Justin Verlander
37— Sonny Gray

Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner played ten years in the majors (1946-55). Here are the pitchers he faced the most in his career:
131–- Russ Meyer
126— Larry Jansen
113— Robin Roberts
109— Johnny Sain
102— Jim Hearn
100— Warren Spahn
93— Ralph Branca

The more a hitter sees the same pitcher, advantage hitter.

12) Putting Ralph Branca on the list reminds me of a story, one of the most fun things I ever did.

1990 or so, a mall eight miles from here in the Albany area had former Dodger pitcher Ralph Branca appear to sign autographs; it was at a weird time, like 7:00 on a weeknight.

My dad grew up in New York City, was a huge Brooklyn Dodger fan; I knew more about the Dodgers by the time I was ten than a little kid should know. But the one story that stood out was the day that Bobby Thomson hit a walk-off home run against Branca in a 1951 playoff game. My dad explained that Branca was a very good pitcher who just had a bad moment.

I called my dad and told him to be ready at a certain time; we were going somewhere, but I didn’t tell him where. Just told him I promised he would enjoy it (I did tell my mother, so she would make sure he was ready).

Anyway, the mall is eight miles from his house, so on the way I tell him where we’re going, and when we get to mall, no one is near Mr Branca’s table. Perfect!!!

I introduce myself to Ralph Branca and tell him what a big Dodger fan my dad was, then I stepped back and for like 15 minutes, I just listened to the two of them talk about the old days. It was tremendous, like the two old friends meeting for the first time.

Ralph Branca confirmed a few of the stories my dad always told me, especially one about an old catcher named Ernie Lombardi and how hard he hit the ball. I had often scoffed at that story, so now the joke was on me.

Anyway after 15 minutes or so, some other people came up to the table, so we said our goodbyes and went home. I’m pretty sure my dad really enjoyed it, I know I did. 

11) Back to Ralph Kiner for a second; David Cone was broadcasting the Baltimore-New York game Wednesday, he told a story about when he played for the Mets, he appeared on Kiner’s Korner, which was the post-game show after Mets’ games on Channel 9 back in the day.

Kiner was a great ballplayer who did Mets’ TV for a long time; he seemed like a genuinely nice person, especially for someone with his pedigree. He hit 369 homers in his 10-year career, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975. He also dated Elizabeth Taylor, so his life off the field was also Hall of Fame-ish

Anyway, Cone says his gift for appearing on Kiner’s Korner was a Weed Eater, those things that you use to cut the weeds in your backyard. “It even came in the original box” Cone is laughing.

Michael Kay asks him if he ever used the Weed Eater. “No, I lived in a high rise” and now they are both laughing. Cone was very respectful talking about Ralph Kiner, which was cool. 

10) Angels 9, Guardians 5:
— Angels’ OF Taylor Ward has a .531 on-base %age right now; he is 15-38 with 11 walks, off to a tremendous start.
— Mike Trout had two doubles, knocked in two runs.
— Cleveland has lost six games in a row.

9) Cleveland’s Franmil Reyes is having a bad week; he struck out eight times in a row, then grounded into a double play, then struck out again. Slumps suck, but they do end.

8) Orioles’ Opening Day starter John Means had Tommy John Surgery this week, is done for a year or so. 

7) Further proof that the NFL is king of sports: There are 13 major league baseball games Thursday; 11 of them are day games, with the NFL Draft on TV at night. 

6) Speaking of which, it makes me queasy that people bet on the NFL Draft; what exactly do people use for information to base their wagers on? Teams are deceitful on purpose so no one knows who they’re going to draft. Why would anyone bet on this? 

5) Palms Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas opened this week, for first time in 2.5 years, so that is good news for Las Vegas. 

4) Bad news for Las Vegas; the NHL’s Golden Knights lost their last three games, all three in shootouts. Knights went 0-17 in shootouts in those games, the first team since Florida in 2011 to lose three games in a row in shootouts, without scoring a goal in a shootout.

3) For tonight’s draft, the NFL has a red carpet stage that was built over the water in front of the fountains at the Bellagio. I’m guessing the next three days will be quite the production.

2023 draft is in Kansas City, 2024 in Detroit. This year will be a tough act to follow.

2) Arizona Cardinals picked up the 5th-year option in QB Kyler Murray; he will make $29.7M in 2023. Murray is 22-24-1 in three years as Arizona’s quarterback. 

1) A’s 1, Giants 0:
— Chad Pinder led game off with a homer; that was the only run of the game.
— Last time this happened in the major leagues was when Arizona’s Gerardo Parra homered in Miami, May 18 2013, leading off a game that ended 1-0.
— Three weeks into the season, A’s are 10-9, showing spunk and surprisingly good pitching.

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.