And That Happened: Classic!

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Note: due to the All-Star break, we now bring you a special “Classic” version of “And That Happened.” The following originally ran on July 14, 1932

Yankees 5, Browns 3: A home run for Babe Ruth, his 25th on the season. Ruth is the power-hitting sensation the sport desperately needs these days. Let’s hope he’s clean. Sorry, but even in this Prohibition era, it’s impossible not to be suspicious when someone continues to show up to the ballpark in last night’s clothes, reeking of gin, cigar smoke and the scent of loose women. Ruth is a great story. Let’s just hope he’s legit.

Senators 15, White Sox 4: The game was delayed some two hours, as the city’s streets had to be cleared for Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur, as he and two cavalry units marched to clear the Bonus Army off the Anacostia Flats. When the dead and injured were removed, it was a wonderful day for a ballgame. Heinie Manush had a triple, four RBI and an assault beef, after he socked two wiseacres for laughing at the name “Heine.”

Dodgers 5, Cubs 4: This game was delayed as well. Hobos. Hobos as far as the eye could see. Happens so often anymore, however, that none of the players seemed too upset by it all.  At any rate, after the hobos were rounded up and placed on a westbound freight, play resumed.  Only problem: the Dodgers’ starter — Sloppy Thurston — was himself mistaken for a hobo, likely due to his name. This led to a longer delay. Eventually Sloppy was returned.

Phillies 3, Reds 2: I was going to take the train down to Cincinnati for this one, but I had another engagement. There was a meeting of the  Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform here in Arch City, and I for one would never pass up the opportunity to meet Ms. Pauline Sabin, who (a) is single and; (b) is doing God’s work. Snipe Hansen and Pinky Whitney were the heroes of this one for the Phillies. Which isn’t surprising, because when you think of a hero, you can’t help but think of Snipe and Pinky.

Braves 5, Pirates 1; Braves 10, Pirates 5: This doubleheader was not entirely necessary. Boston has been visiting Pittsburgh for several days now and could very well have completed this series in single games. It was deemed appropriate by President Hoover, however, that in light of the current economic strife, that the clubs stimulate the economy with concentrated economic activity like this whenever possible. “Some may construe mild suggestions to the private sector such as these to be a brand of socialism,” President Hoover said, “and I am not unaware of the danger of this level of governmental meddling in private affairs.  But desperate times call for desperate measures, and if the very meek entreaties of a sitting President to our nation’s evil, bloated plutocrats has even the slightest hope of helping matters, I am willing to risk the potentially destabilizing side effects that this intervention might cause.”

Cardinals 6, Giants 2: after 30 years with John McGraw at the helm, the Giants are still adjusting to new manager Bill Terry following McGraw’s retirement a little over a month ago. Winning games without constantly baiting the other team, the umpires and the fans into horrendous donnybrooks is not part of the Giants’ makeup, so it will certainly take time to adjust.

Red Sox 8, Tigers 2: The Red Sox’ win — the second in a two-game winning streak! — brings them to within 36 games of first place. This win was nice, but it’s just sad to see a team from a town as small as Boston trying to compete with the big boys from up-and-coming juggernaut cities like Detroit.

Indians 7, Athletics 5: Three days after the ridiculous game in which Eddie Rommel gave up 29 hits — and won — and in which Johnny Burnett went 9-for-11 — and lost — the Indians and Athletics play a relatively tame one. Lefty Grove takes the loss in a relief role. I say, the man just simply doesn’t know how to win baseball games.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.