Clearing out the notebook

It’s amazing some of the things that you hear and find out at the ballpark.  Earlier today I was flipping through my notebook and realized that most of the information that I discover getting ready for a game goes unused.  Conversations in the clubhouse, chats in the dugout during BP, factoids gleaned from reading whatever I can find … all of that stuff frequently gets lost in the ether. 
 
Well, not today.  Today is the day that I clear out the notebook.
 
Russell Martin’s fingernails are painted white.  Hong-Chih Kuo had a hard time seeing the signs on Monday, so Russell painted his nails white.  It’s not nail polish … he found some White-Out in the clubhouse and is using that.
 
My buddy Ethan Cooperson of Stats.Inc came up with this beauty.  Matt Kemp is third all-time in Batting Average – Balls in Play (minimum 1000 balls in play)… trailing only Ryan Howard and Babe Ruth.   I know, its a quirky stat category .. but its still pretty cool to be just percentage points behind Babe Ruth in anything.   BABIP is simply batting average with strikeouts taken out of the equation.  Fundamentally it’s a gauge as to how hard a batter is hitting the ball.  Entering Tuesday’s game, Ryan Howard was .414, Babe Ruth .406 and Matt Kemp .405.  You can spin numbers a lot of ways, but this is still kind of neat.
 
Of the 50 active players in the Dodgers/Cardinals series this week, only two have homered in their first career big league at-bat.  Stunningly both are pitchers.  Adam Wainwright in 2006 off of SF LHP Noah Lowery and Guillermo Mota in 1999 while playing with the Expos.  When I asked Guillermo about it he remembered it vividly, telling me that Orlando Cabrera was intentionally walked to get to him.  Red Sox LHP Mark Guthrie threw him a fastball, a curve and then another fastball that he pounded for the homer.  I checked his memory on Baseball-reference.com http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MON/MON199906090.shtml, and he’s right on.
 
St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright grew up with and played middle school basketball with former Laker Kwame Brown.  They both went to Glynn Academy in Brunswick, GA. 
 
IF Mark Loretta came on to pitch for the second time in his career Tuesday in St. Louis.  Loretta has not given up a run in 1.2 innings of work in career.  When I asked him, he knew that he struck out Ruben Rivera and Chris Nichting back in 2001.  I guess some things you don’t ever forget.
 
Loretta’s number at Northwestern University is not retired.  But Joe Girardi’s is.
 
Speaking of retired numbers.  The Cardinals have a bunch of numbers retired.  Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter, Red Schoendienst, Bob Gibson, Dizzy Dean, Ozzie Smith, Bruce Sutter, Ken Boyer, Lou Brock and Rogers Hornsby but for some reason Joe “Ducky” Medwick hasn’t been honored.  Medwick is the last National Leaguer to have a Triple Crown season.  He’s a Hall of Famer and a Cardinal World Series Champion.  I’m sure there is a reason for the omission, but I haven’t uncovered it yet.
 
James Loney tells me that he can still throw a 90-mph fastball.  James was a big-time prospect as a left-handed pitcher coming out of high school.  He thinks he still has it.
 
Joe Torre had a monster 1971 season here in St. Louis, winning the NL MVP with a .363 batting average, 230 hits and 137 RBI.  Albert Pujols is a phenomenal player, but Joe’s BA and hit total are higher that anything Pujols has ever put up … and the 137 RBI are tied with Pujols’ best.
 
The notebook is now clear. 
 
– Eric Collins

4 Comments

I know you let the old vet, who’s a season or two away from hanging it up, throw to a batter or two during a blow out, but were you like me– wanting to see James Loney’s stuff off the mound?

I noticed your blog that pointed to the fact that Loney still thinks he has his stuff. Is James going to have to wait until he’s 15-16 yrs a big leaguer, during a blow out, and by then, his stuff’ll be just a distant memory?

I hate to say it, but I kinda wanna see the Dodgers get blown out one more time this year and have big James come off the mound against a slew of lefties, and see him strike out the side.

Oh yeah, nice work in the booth, Collins, despite what they’re saying.

You’re voice is beginning to become familiar to us fans now. (Although I remember I thought you were a hex when you started out in Houston and the Dodgers got slapped around for a couple)

I was flipping channels one day and heard you calling the World Womens Softball Tourney, and right off the bat, I said ” Hey that’s Collins.” It was nice to hear someone other than John Kruk in the booth for womens softball. Sometimes Kruky doesnt come off as a sensitive guy, like you do. I think Kruky had to hold his tongue a few times in the booth during some of those games as to not offend his female counterparts.

Hey Eric, I just have to say I was a little disappointed by what Steve said about Cardinal fans and how they are “smart baseball fans” when you guys were discussing how they booed Manny everytime he came up to bat. I doubt they would boo Mark Mcgwire if he came back to Busch Stadium. I also dont think that the fans that cheer for Manny are dumb. I’m hoping thats not what he meant.

Hey Eric,
I got onto LATIMES.com yesterday and saw an early edition of a story written by Chris Erskine, where he was critical of your broadcasting performances thus far. He made a very inaccuarate comment, penning you as the broadcaster who hangs the term “mr tinkle” on Matt Kemp. In so many words Erskine said that the immortal Vin Scully would never say those words knwoing what they meant.

I was a bit peeved, because we all know that Lyons was the one who came up with the whole “tinkle”-idea and it was obvious from the get go that you were always the reluctant one to attach yourself to the term. Sure, you may have used it a couple times on your own, but that would be more as an homage to Lyons, as anything else.

I wrote a letter to Erskine that same day and he had it taken out of the story by Wednesday AM. Are you sick of people already trying to grade you based off of Scully? No one will ever replicate Vin, because he’s his own talent. What you and Steve got going on is kinda the norm these days (2-man team, the former ballplayer color guy and the straight laced play-by-play guy with the clear pronunciations and the bravado voice). Personally, I think it’s clicking pretty good between you two. If you heard Steiner and Lyons towards the middle to the end of last year, they were ripping into each other with arguments that would last several batters and sometimes several innings at a time. So maybe getting Steiner onto radio was a good move. Monday and Steiner are a great tandom. In fact, listening to Steiner do play-by-play is pretty darn exciting (too bad he thinks every foulball or mid-deep fly balls a homerun).

Keep up the good work and we’ll tune you in when the Dodgers play the Reds at the end of the month.

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