SHOULD THE RED SOX CARE ABOUT WINNING 117 GAMES?
The Major League Baseball record for the most wins in a regular season is 116 – by the 1906 Chicago Cubs and the 2001 Seattle Mariners.
The Boston Red Sox are 86-36 (.705 winning percentage) and would need to go 31-9 in their 40 remaining regular-season games to finish 117-45.
I don’t think they’ll do it. For one thing, 31-9 is a .775 winning percentage – significantly better than their current ridiculously good winning percentage. And the top position players, pitching ace Chris Sale and bullpen closer Craig Kimbrel figure to get plenty of off days to freshen up for the postseason.
Finishing with the most regular-season wins in history would be an exclusive and impressive feat but it wouldn’t be nearly as significant as winning the World Series.
For the record, the 1906 Cubs were upset 4-2 in the World Series by the American League champion Chicago White Sox – the weak-hitting “Hitless Wonders”.
The 1906 Cubs had a 116-36 record (.763) and outscored opponents by 381 runs (704-381). The White Sox were 93-58 (22 ½ games worse than the Cubs) and outscored opponents 567-460 (+107).
The Cubs bounced back from their embarrassing 1906 World Series loss by winning their first two world championships in 1907 and 1908.
The 2001 Mariners were derailed by the New York Yankees 4-1 in the American League Championship Series.
The Mariners, managed by Lou Piniella, were 116-46 (.716) and outscored opponents by 300 runs (927-627) in the regular season. Top hitters included Bob Boone, Edgar Martinez, John Olerud and Mike Cameron. Top pitchers included Jamie Moyer, Freddy Garcia, Aaron Sele and Paul Abbott.
The Yankees were 95-65, 20 games worse than Seattle, and outscored opponents by 91 runs (804-713).
A RED SOX PROBABLY WILL BE AMERICAN LEAGUE MVP...BUT WHICH ONE?
The case for Mookie Betts – He’s leading MLB with a .352 batting average (140-for-398). He also leads in OPS with 1.108 (.440 on-base percentage + .668 slugging percentage)...He’s scored 99 runs and has 35 doubles, 5 triples and 27 HRs. He’s 24-for-27 stealing bases...He’s the catalyst at the top of MLB’s most-productive lineup and is a Gold Glove in right field.
The case for J.D. Martinez – He’s leading MLB in HRs (37) and RBI (104) and his .333 batting average is second only to Betts...He could be a decent left- or right fielder if he were not primarily the team’s designated hitter.
Apologies to Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez (.302; 36 HRs, 89 RBI, 27-for-32 stealing bases and 1.045 OPS), but – at this point – I believe Betts/Ramirez should be 1-2 for league MVP – or 2-1.
WOULD WINNING THE TRIPLE CROWN GIVE J.D. MARTINEZ THE EDGE FOR MVP?
Leading a league in batting average, HRs and RBI is a tremendous feat. It has been accomplished only 14 times by 12 players in baseball’s modern era (post-1900) – and only Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012 has done it since Carl Yastrzemski did it for the Red Sox in 1967.
Here are the Triple Crown winners and the league MVPs in those Triple Crown seasons (the official MVP awards began in 1931):
1901 – Nap Lajoie (Philadelphia AL): .426 batting average; 14 HRs; 125 RBI (no MVP award)
1909 – Ty Cobb (Detroit AL): .377; 9 HRs; 107 RBI (no MVP award)
1922 – Rogers Hornsby (St. Louis NL): .401; 42 HRs; 152 RBI (no MVP award)
1925 – Rogers Hornsby (St. Louis NL): .403; 39 HRs; 143 RBI (no MVP award)
1933 – Jimmie Foxx (Philadelphia AL): .356, 48 HRs, 163 RBI (won AL MVP)
1933 – Chuck Klein (Philadelphia NL): .368, 28 HRs; 120 RBI (won NL MVP)
1934 – Lou Gehrig (New York AL): .363, 36 HRs, 137 RBI (Mickey Cochrane was AL MVP)
1937 – Joe Medwick (St. Louis NL): .374; 31 HRs; 154 RBI (won NL MVP)
1942 – Ted Williams (Boston AL): .356; 36 HRs; 137 RBI (Joe Gordon was AL MVP)
1947 – Ted Williams (Boston NL): .343, 32 HRs, 114 RBI (Joe DiMaggio was AL MVP)
1956 – Mickey Mantle (New York AL): .353, 52 HRs, 130 RBI (won AL MVP)
1966 – Frank Robinson (Baltimore AL): .316, 49 HRs, 122 RBI (won AL MVP)
1967 – Carl Yastrzemski (Boston AL): .326, 44 HRs, 121 RBI (won AL MVP)
2012 – Miguel Cabrera (Detroit AL): .330, 44 HRs, 139 RBI (won AL MVP).
Interestingly, Ted Williams, who might have lost MVP honors in his two Triple Crown seasons due to his rocky relationship with baseball media voters, did win two MVP awards in seasons he did not win Triple Crowns (1946 and 1949).
I’m sure J.D. Martinez gets along better with the media MVP voters than Williams did.
SOME HEROES AND ZEROES
Hero – New England quarterback Tom Brady never ceases to amaze me. He turned 41 on August 3 and still loves to play and does it exceedingly well...Starting quarterbacks seldom play more than a series or two in Game 2 of the preseason – to reduce the risk of injury in a meaningless game. Thursday night, in the Patriots 37-20 victory over Philadelphia, Brady started and played the first half as the Patriots took a 27-7 lead in a rematch of Super Bowl 32. Brady was 19-of-26 for 172 yards, with 2 TD passes, 0 INTs and a 116.2 passer rating. (Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles of Philadelphia left Thursday night’s game with a sore shoulder after suffering one of New England’s eight sacks}...Brady obviously still has it – the skill and the fire. As long as he’s healthy, the rest of the AFC East will be chasing the Patriots for yet another season.
Zero – Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred Jr., for signing off on a ridiculously lenient six-game suspension to Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Urena for drilling red-hot Atlanta rookie Ronald Acuna Jr., leading off the bottom of the first inning Wednesday night. Urena should’ve been suspended for the rest of the season...Throwing at an opponent because your team can’t get him out is cowardly and uncalled for. It wasn’t a mere brushback. It was intended to hit and hurt...Unfortunately for the Marlins, Urena will miss one only start. He’s 3-12 with a 4.74 ERA and opponents are hitting .263 against him.
HERO – Kobe Bryant, for showing as much promise as a sharp businessmen as he showed as an all-time top-10 (?) NBA player...We learned this week that Bryant was one of the early investors in Body Armor sports drink in 2014. Coca-Cola this week bought a minority share in Body Armor and Kobe’s $6 million investment now is worth an estimated $200 million. Good for him. We usually only hear about pro athletes getting burned in ill-advised high-risk business deals.
ZERO – Former Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino, who lost his job in part because of a scandal involving exotic dancers and escorts allegedly provided to recruits, owns thoroughbred racehorses and he was at Del Mar Racetrack near San Diego last week to watch one of them run. The horse won but maybe it would’ve been wise for Pitino to steer clear of the winner’s circle picture. The horse’s name is Party Dancer.
RED WINGS NOTEBOOK
Stephen Gonzalves is enjoying a fine season with the punchless Red Wings: 9-3 record, 2.96 ERA, 18 games started, 100 1/3 innings pitched, 65 hits allowed, 55 walks, 95 strikeouts, .187 opposing batting average. The 24-year-old left-hander deserves a long look from Minnesota next spring at the latest. His minor-league career mark for the Twins: 53-20 record, 2.46 ERA, 599 innings pitched, 423 hits allowed, 238 walks, 634 strikeouts.
Byron Buxton played in his 89th game for Rochester (in portions of the 2015-2016-2017-2018 seasons) Thursday night. His numbers are impressive: .308 batting average (107-for-347), 69 runs, 19 doubles, 4 triples, 18 HRs, 46 RBI, 13-for-15 stealing bases), 27 walks and 103 strikeouts.
Kennys Vargas in his last 10 games is hitting .359 (14-for-39), with 4 HRs and 14 RBI. His 17 HRs are seventh in the IL and his 58 RBI rank 10th.
Outfielder Robbie Grossman Thursday night became the 63rd player to play for the Red Wings this season (35 position players – believed to be a team record, according to Wings PR ace Nate Rowan -- plus 28 pitchers).
The Red Wings, with a 55-66 record, must go 16-3 in their 19 remaining games to finish 71-69 and post their sixth straight winning season. The Wings are 33-30 on the road and 22-36 at Frontier Field.
Rochester is averaging 6,393 fans in 56 home dates. That’s ninth-best in the 14-team International League.
The Red Wings return to Frontier Field Tuesday for four games in three nights against Pawtucket. It will be the second-last homestand of the season.
The Major League Lacrosse championship game – the Dallas (formerly Rochester) Rattlers versus the Denver Outlaws – Saturday, 7 p.m., will be broadcast on ESPNNews.
Westgate Las Vegas already has posted odds on next year’s Masters (April 11-14). Jordan Spieth is the 10-to-1 favorite and Tiger Woods is the second co-favorite, with Dustin Johnson and Dustin Thomas, at 12-to-1. Brooks Koepka, winner of three of the last six majors he played, is tied with Rory McIlroy at 14-to-1.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...
Friday, April 17
Rudy Gay (32)...Dustin Pedroia (35)...David Legwand (38)...Thierry Henry (41)...Jorge Posada (47)...Jim Courier (48)...Christian Laettner (49)...Ed McCaffrey (50)...Dottie Pepper (53)...Jon Gruden (55)...Guillermo Vilas (66)...Boog Powell (77). Sean Penn (58) and Robert De Niro (75) are invited to the birthday party.
Saturday, April 18
Willie Cauley-Stein (25)...Evan Gattis (32)...Jeremy Shockey (38)...Kenny Walker (54)...Geoff Courtnall (56)...Fat Lever (58)...Greg Pruitt (67)...former Red Wings third baseman Mike Ferraro (74)...Matt Snell (78)...Joan Joyce (78)...Rafer Johnson (83). Roberto Clemente was born on this date 84 years ago and died in 1972 at age 38. Edward Norton (49), Madeleine Stowe (60) and Robert Redford (82) are invited to the birthday party.
Sunday, April 19
Kirk Cousins (30)...Patrick Chung (31)...J.J. Hardy (35)...Nate Burleson (37)...Kirk Herbstreit (49)...Butch Rolle (54)...Morten Andersen (58)...Ron Darling (58)...Ricky Pierce (59)...Anthony Munoz (60)...Gary Gaetti (60)...Darryl Sutter (60)...Ned Yost (63)...former Amerk Rod Graham (72)...Jane Blaylock (73)...Bobby Richardson (83). Matthew Perry (49), John Stamos (55) and Bill Clinton (72) are invited to the birthday party.
ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...
85 years ago (1933), Lou Gehrig played in his then-record 1,308th consecutive game...67 years ago (1951), 92,180 watched the Cleveland Browns beat the College All-Stars 33-0 in the 18th NFL Chicago All-Star Game...61 years ago (1957), Richie Ashburn hit fan Alice Roth with two foul balls. The first broke her nose and the second hit her while she was on a stretcher...49 years ago (1969), in their first meeting, the Jets beat the Giants in a pre-season game...45 years ago (1973), Willie Mays hit his 660th and last home run.
54 years ago (1964), South Africa was banned from the Olympics because of apartheid policies...45 years ago (1973), Hank Aaron’s 1,376th extra-base hit broke Stan Musial’s record...36 years ago (1982), Pete rose made his record 13,941st MLB plate appearance...32 years ago (1986), quarterback Jim Kelly joined the Buffalo Bills by signing a five-year, $75-million contract.
109 years ago (1909), the Indianapolis 500 race track opened...97 years ago (1921), Ty Cobb became the fourth player to reach 3,000 hits...67 years ago (1951), 3-foot, 7-inch Eddie Gaedel walked on four pitches as a pinch-hitter for the Chicago White Sox...35 years ago (1983), former LSU football player and Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon was sentenced to five years in prison for counterfeiting...34 years ago (1984), Lee Trevino won his second PGA Championship by four strokes over Gary Player and Lanny Wadkins.