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MLB Now: Kris Byrant

I made my first appearance on MLB Now’s new set in Studio 21 on Thursday in an abbreviated installment of the show (due to day games being broadcast on the Network). From the roughly 20 minutes of show we did, MLB has posted this clip discussing what was then the still-unofficial promotion of Kris Bryant on Friday.

For more depth on Bryant, here are the things I have written about him this spring at SI.com:

Preaching patience for talented Cubs trio of Soler, Baez and Bryant (March 11)

Don’t blame Cubs for taking advantage of rules with Kris Bryant (March 18)

For Cubs, there’s no longer a reason not to call up top prospect Kris Bryant (April 16)

What debuts of former top prospects can teach us for Kris Byrant (April 17)

Swing and a miss: Cubs’ Bryant suffers rough day at plate in debut (April 17)

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2015 in My Writing, TV and video

 

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Archives: History’s Bunk!

The following are a selection of links to articles I’ve written that look back at baseball history and the lives of the men who participated in it. This is an active post, the list below is by no means complete, and links may be added as I remember/stumble upon other such pieces. Last updated April 19, 2015.  

99 Facts About Babe Ruth (7/11/13)

Stan Musial deserves to be remembered as one of baseball’s best (1/20/13)

Jackie Robinson was a legend as a player, as well as a pioneer (4/15/13)

Sons of Jackie Robinson: Remembering the players who broke the color line for the other 15 teams of that era (4/15/14)

The 10 most significant steals of home in baseball history (6/29/09)

At his peak, Duke Snider was right there with Willie and Mickey (2/27/11)

The Holy Trinity: 1904 (9/3/05)

The Holy Trinity: 1949 (10/1/05)

Jerry Coleman, war hero and Hall of Fame broadcaster, dead at 89 (1/6/14)

Goodbye, Scooter: Insults didn’t stop Phil Rizzuto from living a wonderful life (8/14/07)

Al Rosen, who may have had the best season ever by a by a 3B, dies at 91 (3/14/15)

Gallery: Ranking the Hall of Fame classes (7/26/09)

Killebrew ahead of his time (5/17/11)

The best player to wear each style of Houston Astros uniform (4/11/13)

Ernie Banks’ place in baseball history goes far beyond ‘Let’s play two’ (1/24/15)

Ron Santo going into Hall long after he deserved it and too late for him (7/20/12)

The 10 greatest baseball games in Wrigley Field history (4/23/14)
Deleted Scene: The early history of Wrigley Field

Reggie Jackson’s Year in Orange and Black: A Lost Classic (1/18/13)
Fake Cards: 1977 Baltimore Orioles

The 10 best seasons of Tony Gwynn’s Hall of Fame career (6/16/14)

Barry Larkin’s underrated greateness goes beyond his place among shortstops (7/21/12)

The Strike: Who was right, who was wrong and how it helped baseball (8/12/14)

Fifteen years ago today, Steve Wilstein first shed light on the Steroid Era (8/22/13)

How important was Moneyball to the success of the 2002 A’s? (9/26/12)

Top studs and duds: The best and worst No. 1 picks in MLB draft history (6/3/14)

The 10 best late-round draft picks ever, led by Mike Piazza, and a new way to measure them (6/9/14)

I believe in curses (10/15/03)

Ten years later, Cubs’ loss in 2003 NLCS is still not Steve Bartman’s fault (10/14/13)

Top Five Moments in Twins-Yankees ALDS History (10/6/10)

Jamie Moyer’s home runs allowed, by the numbers (6/23/10)

Alex Rodriguez and the 600 Home Run Club, by the numbers (8/5/10)

Breaking down Derek Jeter’s march to 3,000 hits by the numbers (7/9/11)

What Ken Griffey Jr.’s stats might have looked like if he’d stayed healthy (6/3/10)

Where Trevor Hoffman ranks among baseball’s best closers ever (1/12/11)

Is Ivan Rodriguez the greatest catcher in major league history? (4/20/12)

The Hall of Fame chances of Jorge Posada, baseball’s Ringo Starr (1/12/12)

Hideki Matsui proved he was one of a kind (12/27/12)

42 things you need to know about Mariano Rivera (9/21/13)

Mariano Rivera: G.O.A.T. (1/13/11)

Watch: Derek Jeter’s 10 greatest moments (2/12/14)

Gallery: Derek Jeter’s Greatest Hits (9/10/11)

Derek Jeter from A to Z: Looking back at the Captain’s career (9/26/14)

Gallery: Top 10 MLB Games of 2000s (Dec. 2009)

Best moments of the 2012 season (12/25/12)

Gallery: Top 10 New York Mets of all time (11/17/14)

Todd Helton’s Hall of Fame Case (2/26/13)

Jim Thome’s numbers great in any era (8/16/11)

Lance Berkman retires, leaving legacy as a great player but not a Hall of Famer (1/30/14)

Once one of baseball’s most exciting players, Alfonso Soriano retires (11/5/14)

Pitchers to lose a perfect game with two outs in the ninth (4/3/13)

Scary outfield collisions from Babe Ruth to Bryce Harper (5/21/13)

The 20 worst moments from the Pirates’ 20 consecutive losing seasons (9/4/13)

Obstruction, pick-off take place alongside most bizarre finishes in World Series history (10/28/13)

Albert Pujols, Pedro Martinez lead all-time Dominican Republic team (4/28/14)

Palmeiro, Chapman, Tiant headline all-time All-Cuba team (12/18/14)

Livan Hernandez officially retires ending compelling 17-year career (3/13/14)

Where Madison Bumgarner’s stellar World Series ranks all-time (10/30/14)

As Bud Selig steps down, a look back at his biggest successes, failures (1/23/15)

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2015 in Archives

 

TV Party: MLB Now four-pack

MLB.com has posted four clips from my latest appearance on MLB Now with host Brian Kenny, Ron Darling, and my former SI.com colleague Jon Heyman. They are . . .

Quick takes on recent contract talk from Zack Greinke and Jeff Samardzija:

BK’s All-Underrated team and honorable mentions from the panel:

Baseball Prospectus’s Sam Miller on PECOTA predictions for top pitchers, with our takes on Corey Kluber and Justin Verlander and picks for breakout pitchers for 2015:

Round-table interview with Orioles General Manager Dan Duquette:

 

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2015 in TV and video

 

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TV Party: MLB Now and again

Clubhouse Confidential is not returning to MLB Network this offseason, but Brian Kenny is doing his best to keep the spirit of that show alive on MLB Now. He had me on as a guest analyst on Thursday with Ron Darling and Dan Plesac and ran Pablo Sandoval through the shredder:

He also spoke to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale on location at the owners meetings in Kansas City, which set up Plesac, Darling, and myself for some conversation on Justin Upton and Jordan Zimmermann:

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2014 in TV and video

 

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TV Party: MLB Now

I wound up making seven appearances on MLB Network’s “Clubhouse Confidential” this past offseason, as well as one on Al Jazeera America’s “Inside Story” with host Ray Suarez and fellow panelists Rob Neyer and Jonah Keri discussing performance-enhancing drugs and the Hall of Fame. However, MLB.com stopped posting Clubhouse Confidential segments after November, so I never got to properly update this post. I finally have another TV appearance to share, however. I made my debut on the Brian Kenny-hosted “MLB Now” on the MLB Network this past Wednesday, with fellow panelists Eric Byrnes and Joel Sherman, and MLB.com posted one of our segments discussing the Final Vote for the All-Star Game. Incidentally, Anthony Rizzo pulled ahead in the voting later Wednesday evening and eventually won the vote. I can’t take credit for that, but I will anyway.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in TV and video

 

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All-Time DROP Leaders

For my latest post in SI.com’s The Strike Zone blog I created a new statistic designed to identify the best late-round picks in the history of Major League Baseball’s annual amateur player draft. That statistic, DROP (Draft Round Opportunity Points) simply multiplies a player’s career wins above repacement (Baseball-Reference version) by the round in which they were drafted. It’s a blunt tool, but an effective one. You can read more about it and the all-time top 10 in DROP in my Strike Zone post. Meanwhile, here is a more extensive leader list that didn’t fit over there:

Player Team Pos Year Rd Pick# bWAR DROP
Mike Piazza LAD 1B 1988 62 1,380 59.4 3,683
Keith Hernandez STL 1B 1971 42 785 60.0 2,520
Mark Buehrle CWS P 1998 38 1,139 56.8 2,158
Kenny Rogers TEX P 1982 39 816 51.4 2,005
John Smoltz DET P 1985 22 574 69.5 1,529
Ryne Sandberg PHI 2B 1978 20 511 67.5 1,350
Andy Pettitte NYY P 1990 22 594 60.8 1,338
Orlando Hudson TOR SS 1997 43 1,280 30.9 1,329
Albert Pujols STL 3B 1999 13 402 94.5 1,229
Kenny Lofton HOU OF 1988 17 428 68.2 1,159
Roy Oswalt HOU P 1996 23 684 50.2 1,155
Al Cowens KCR SS 1969 75 1,028 15.2 1,140
Brett Butler ATL OF 1979 23 573 49.4 1,136
Jeff Conine KCR 3B 1987 58 1,226 19.4 1,125
Bret Saberhagen KCR P 1982 19 580 59.2 1,125
Mark Grace CHC 1B 1985 24 622 46.1 1,106
Jeff Kent TOR SS 1989 20 523 55.2 1,104
Buddy Bell CLE 2B 1969 16 375 66.1 1,058
Jorge Posada NYY SS 1990 24 646 42.7 1,025
Ken Griffey Sr. CIN OF 1969 29 682 34.4 998
Nolan Ryan CIN P 1965 12 295 81.8 982
 
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Posted by on June 6, 2014 in Lists

 

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Deleted Scenes: The Early History of Wrigley Field

I got a little carried away when I put together my list of the ten greatest games in Wrigley Field history for the old ballpark’s 100th anniversary on April 23, 2014, spilling more than 600 words on the early history of the ballpark before getting to my list. I couldn’t argue when that was excised from the published piece, but still think the fact-heavy intro is worth sharing here.

Commissioned by Charles Weeghman, the proprietor of the Chicago lunchroom chain Weeghman’s Cafés, the ballpark now known as Wrigley Field opened on April 23, 1914 as the home of Chicago’s entry into the new Federal League, a rival league created to challenge the National and American, the latter then entering just its 14th season. Weeghman owned the Chicago Federals and gave his own name to the ballpark at the corner of West Addison and North Clark Streets, which upon its inauguration had a single-decked grandstand and an official capacity of just 14,000 people.

For Weeghman’s Park’s first game, the eighth game of the 1914 season for Chicago, which opened on the road, roughly 21,000 people squeezed into the new ballpark to watch the Joe Tinker-managed Chi-Feds beat the Kansas City Packers 9-1 on a Thursday afternoon behind a complete game by ace Claude Hendrix, a former Pirate who would be the new league’s best pitcher that season. The Chi-Feds finished a close second in the final standings in 1914 and, rechristened the Whales, claimed the Federal League pennant in 1915. That December, the two established leagues bought out the Federal League and, as part of the settlement, allowed Weeghman to purchase the Cubs for $500,000 from former congressman Charles Taft, half-brother of the former president, who had been the team’s caretaker for the previous two seasons.

Weeghman effectively merged the Whales into the Cubs, naming Tinker the team’s new manager, adding several Whales players, including Hendrix, to the Cubs’ roster, and moving the team into his new concrete and steel ballpark from the old, wooden West Side Grounds that had housed the Cubs since 1893. Over the next century, the ballpark would undergo numerous updated and renovations, not to mention name changes.

After Weeghman sold his majority share of the Cubs to minority partner and chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. following the 1918 season, the ballpark was rechristened Cubs Park before ultimately taking Wrigley’s name in 1926. The upper deck was added in 1927. The marquee was installed in 1934. The bleachers and manual scoreboard were installed and the ivy on the outfield walls was planted in 1937, the latter in part by future Hall of Fame owner Bill Veeck, who was then the son of club president William Veeck Sr. The clock atop the scoreboard came along in 1941. Originally reddish-brown, the scoreboard and clock were painted green in 1944. Lights, famously, didn’t bring night baseball to the ballpark until August of 1988.

For fifty years, from 1921 to 1970, the ballpark was home to the National Football League’s Chicago Bears, who derived their nickname from the association with the Cubs after moving into Wrigley (they had previously been the Staleys, after the food-starch company that founded the team). During that time, the ballpark hosted six NFL title games (five won by the Bears), the last coming in 1963. In fact, until 2003, more NFL games had been played at Wrigley Field than at any other venue. Outside of the title games, the most notable football game in Wrigley Field history may have been the Bears’ 61-20 win over the 49ers on December 12, 1965, in which Bears running back Gale Sayers tied a still-standing NFL record with six touchdowns.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2014 in Deleted Scenes, Lists

 

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