The View From Wisconsin

Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Top 20 Most Outs in MLB History

Here they are, courtesy of

Ripken Jr.Cal198120013001128838893

* - Active.

By the way: Correlation between Hall of Fame Standards scores and Outs is at about .74. 

Sunday Morning Comin' Down

There is this huge gob of rain, rain, rain, RAIN sitting over Wisconsin right now. It's been raining for about 10 hours or so, and it's probably going to be raining all day today. I'm a-gettin' tired of it. It's also not doing anything for my physical OR mental health.

Guess we need to blog a bit to get it out of our system...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

That Time Of Year Again

Packer season officially starts today. Or, as we like to call it here in Milwaukee, "The day we start to ignore the Brewers until next April."

The Brewers, of course, are doing their best to make sure we forget them without any compunction or remorse; losing four out of our last ten, and 12-16 since the All-Star Break.

No one has a real feel for how the Packers will do this year; we could struggle to get to .500, we could bottom out with a 4-12 record, or we could win the division. You can't really tell; it depends on how well the young kids do.

This Jackson kid isn't doing bad right now, though.

Caps and More Caps

Baseball cards and game programs aren't the only things I collect in the game of baseball. I have a rather large collection of baseball caps that I've garnered through the years, from a really old Milwaukee Brewers ball-in-glove logo to a new cap that I just got in the mail yesterday.

That particular cap was one I won as a prize from and the promotion that they have with card manufacturers Upper Deck and Topps (who I fervently hope remain apart - but that's another blog post). You get game pieces in select packs of their card sets (series 2 and later), and enter the codes on the website.

Every card is a "winner" - at the least, you get a digital download of a wallpaper of a player of your choice. The first one that I entered was an "instant winner" of a free baseball cap. When I looked at the entry, I realized there wasn't an option for "team selection". Guess what - that was intentional. They send out a random adjustable MLB cap to you.

I was holding my breath waiting for the cap to show up, which it did yesterday. It was a Colorado Rockies cap. I don't have a big problem with it, but it's probably not going to be an every-day cap for me - though I'll probably wear it for a bit to "wear it in."

Anyways - I have 61 different caps:
  1. 2002 All-Star Game (MLB)
  2. Alan Kulwicki Winston Cup Champion
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks (1998)
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks 2001 World Series Champions
  5. Badger Showdown CCM
  6. Boston Red Sox (2004)
  7. Brooklyn Dodgers (1955)
  8. Cactus League Spring Training 2002 Brewers
  9. Chicago Blackhawks Bud Ice (2003)
  10. Chicago Cubs 2003 Central Champs
  11. Chicago Cubs Mesh, Baseball (1984)
  12. Chicago Cubs St. Patrick's Day, (2005)
  13. Chicago White Sox (Home 1983)
  14. Colorado Rockies (2007)
  15. Florida Marlins (Teal, 1993)
  16. Florida Marlins (Black, 1997)
  17. Green Bay Packers 1996 NFC Champions
  18. Green Bay Packers Super Bowl XXXI Champs LRH
  19. Hard Rock Café Phoenix (2002)
  20. Houston Astros (Home, 1977)
  21. Kenosha Twins (1982)
  22. Memphis Maniax XFL (2001)
  23. Mickey Mouse Denim
  24. Milwaukee Admirals (2004)
  25. Milwaukee Admirals 2004 Calder Cup Champs
  26. Milwaukee Admirals/Brewers (2007)
  27. Milwaukee Bears (Negro Lg.), Baseball (1923, Reproduction)
  28. Milwaukee Braves (1957)
  29. Milwaukee Brewers (1970)
  30. Milwaukee Brewers (1982)
  31. Milwaukee Brewers (1998)
  32. Milwaukee Brewers (2000)
  33. Milwaukee Brewers (2002)
  34. Milwaukee Brewers 1982 Road
  35. Milwaukee Brewers Franchise (1989)
  36. Milwaukee Brewers Practice (1998)
  37. Milwaukee Brewers Practice (2000)
  38. Milwaukee County Stadium 1953-1999
  39. Minnesota Twins (2005)
  40. Nashville NHL Predators Logo (1999)
  41. Nashville Predators (2000)
  42. Nashville Predators (2002)
  43. Nashville Predators CCM Hockey (2001)
  44. Nashville Predators skull logo (2002)
  45. Nashville Sounds 5950 (1990)
  46. NHL Total Access (2003)
  47. Oklahoma University (2002)
  48. Peanuts Joe Cool (2006)
  49. Saint Louis Blues Central Division (2006)
  50. San Diego Padres (2002)
  51. Seattle Mariners (1977 )
  52. Seattle Mariners Practice (1997)
  53. Univ. of Tennessee (2007)
  54. UW Badger Head (2006)
  55. UW Badger Paw (2005)
  56. UW NCAA Hockey Champions (2006)
  57. UW-Whitewater (new logo, 2006)
  58. W the President (2004)
  59. Washington Nationals (2005)
  60. Washington Nationals DC Alternate (2006)
  61. Washington Senators (1969)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

On Barry

What was once uncertain, thought of as a remote possibility, not completely comprehendable to the average baseball fan, has finally come to fruition.


A number that, until about a year ago, no one ever thought would be attained.

And on one swing of the bat in the San Francisco night, it finally happened.

Barry Lamar Bonds, son of the late Bobby Lee Bonds, godson of Willie Howard Mays Junior, hit a home run to right-center field of AT&T Park in the China Basin area of the city by the Golden Gate to surpass Henry Aaron for the all-time career home run lead.

40 years ago, no one could have even imagined someone getting this far. 10, 20, 30 years ago – same thing.

Then came the 1998 season, and Mark McGwire's exploits with Sammy Sosa. And, of course, the reports of creatine, and something called "Andro".

Which was short for one thing: Steroids.

In the ensuing seasons, the talk became louder and louder as suddenly 60 homers were ho-hum yawners of a season. Wake me up when you get near 70.

And that's what Barry Bonds did. But the steroid talk got around to him as well – and, as it appears, rightly so. Books have been written, grand juries have been called, accusations made, and the boos have been long and loud around the country.

Still: 756 home runs.

What to make of it all? The stathead claims, rightfully, that even without the home runs, Barry is still one of the greatest players of all time. He was able to do more with what he had than practically anyone in the long history of the game.

There are other arguments, of course: he was already a great player before 1998; there is evidence to the affirmative that pitchers and other players were also taking steroids, which "levelled the playing field", so to speak; the shrinking size of the ballparks themselves should also be considered (going from the cavern of Candlestick to the wedged-in bandbox of PacBell/SBC/AT&T Park, for example).

But there is one question that no one has, at least to this point, bothered to ask. Not of Barry, of course – he's already the home run king, and has already made his choices that led to this point.

No, the question is this, and is simple – would the men he chased down have done any different?

Babe Ruth was far from being a saint. Anyone can tell you that. His reported "bellyache" was a supposed cover for a case of either syphillus or some other socially-contracted venereal disease. He ate, drank, screwed and cavorted with wild abandon. At the end of his career, he wanted nothing less that to extend his career – first by switching leagues, then by trying to become a manager (something that would help a later record-chaser, Pete Rose, in his quest of baseball immortality).

One could almost imagine back in the late 1930's, when Ruth was persona non grata in New York, and he was exiled to Boston to play not with the Red Sox, but with the Braves – the Braves! – and seeing him, sitting sullen in the dugout, wondering to himself how he could manage to keep going.

The question is, if someone like Victor Conte came along – or even someone else, who was just trying to act in a sympathetic manner – and told Ruth that he could conceivably extend his career by five more years if he only followed a strict, regimented training plan and took some "supplements" that would enhance his diminished swing and keep him hale and hearty even as he was reaching his mid-40's, would he have done so?

The same, too, of our Mr. Aaron. I've always wanted to ask Henry that same question: Hank, if someone would have told you back in 1975, right after you looped that fly ball that landed just over the fence at County Stadium on that summer night, that by doing some exercises and taking some pills – and maybe a steroid cream or a shot or something – you would be able to keep hitting those home runs, even as your vaunted wrists began to fail you – would you have done it?

Hank's answer might not have been the same as Ruth's, of course. The absolute hell that Henry went through just to get to 755 was more than any man should endure. To think what even a handful to a dozen more home runs would have cost him, not physically but mentally, is beyond comprehension.

Legalities and grand juries aside, the truth still lies on the field, and in the numbers, and in the play of Barry Bonds. He did it – regardless of how he got there, he got there. There are those who begrudge the Cincinnati Reds of their 1919 World Series title, or Roger Maris of his single-season record of 61 home runs, or of Pete Rose's 4,260 hits, or of the Florida Marlins' 1997 World Series championship, or Mark McGwire's 70 home runs. The truth, however, is that each of those persons and groups achieved what they did. It is the end result, inevitably, that we have to face head-on.

Orenthal James Simpson was the first running back to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season in football. His subsequent legal issues were of no consequence at the time. Tyrus Raymond Cobb's 4,191 career hits and ferocity at the plate and on the basepaths were legendary – and yet to say he was greatly disliked in his own time is an understatement. Wilt Chamberlain accomplished a feat no one thought possible in scoring 100 points in an NBA game – and did so before anyone questions how often he scored off the court.

Barry Bonds is the all-time home run king – for now, as some are pointing out. A youngster across the continent, wearing the pinstripes and the number 13 of the Yankees in the Bronx, has passed 500 homers in his career and looks to be headed towards the record Bonds will set with each remaining sweet swing of the bat. Whether that total is one more or 100, many believe – or hope, perhaps – that it won't be a record held long.

Of course, people thought that the record held by Roger Maris wouldn't be around as long as it was. And many thought that if anyone was going to catch Babe Ruth, it would have been Barry's godfather and not the soft-spoken Aaron. The person who finally "catches" Bonds – if ever, of course – may not even be a gleam in the eyes of his parents right now.

756 is exactly what it is – the new record for most home runs in a career. At least until Barry hits another.

In the end, that's what's important to remember – it is just a number. They're all "just numbers" – be it 660, 714, 755, or 880.

880, of course, is the alleged total number of career home runs by Josh Gibson, a catcher in the Negro Leagues who never got the chance to play major league baseball alongside people like Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, or Williams.

In truth, it's more of a shame something like that happened in the history of the game (and of our nation) than is the storm clouds surrounding Barry Bonds.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


I was going to consider putting something up here about the Brewers' slow slide down the standings in the NL Central, but I decided to instead tackle something a bit more serious.

I don't know about you, but I spend a good chunk of my work commute on an Interstate highway. A little under six miles, maybe 11 and a half round-trip. During that time, I don't cross any major rivers, but I do know that there's at least one overpass on that stretch. As I'm driving to work, I don't generally think much about what I'm driving on, or what's going on around me.

Not that I don't notice when something's going on with construction; this is, after all, Wisconsin, where there's two seasons - Winter and Road Construction. About a decade back, they spent three years reconstructing the interchanges with County Highway SS and Highways G/TT, which involved what I like to call a "long chicane" that essentially diverted most of the traffic on I-94 to what eventually became the eastbound lanes. The interchanges were an improvement, of course, but they're once again doing construction on the section just to the East of this now - right before I get on the Interstate.

Noticing the construction isn't the major issue, of course. What is the issue, especially after what happened on I-35W in Minneapolis, is when there's a major screw-up. When they were doing the dual interchanges a decade ago on I-94, the only screw-up was that they waited until December to finish the work - and we promptly had three straight Monday snowstorms that canceled further construction until April.

I guess we here in Waukesha County are fortunate; that screw-up by WIDOT wasn't major catastrophic failure. Not like we haven't had that before (see the Hoan Bridge section collapse). But there has been all the talk about the High-Rise bridge and the Marquette Interchange construction. You wonder, especially after this little incident in Minneapolis, how sound that section of freeway might be. The High-Rise is even higher off the ground than the I-35W bridge was in the Twin Cities - anyone who's ever driven through the area knows that - and if something happened to that bridge...

It does make you wonder, though.