Associated Press

Happy Nolan Ryan-Robin Ventura Day!

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There’s nothing going on today, so let’s celebrate one of baseball’s greatest anniversaries: Nolan Ryan-Robin Ventura Beat Down Day!

It was on this day in 1993, in Arlington, Texas, that Nolan Ryan plunked Robin Ventura with a heater. Why? Hard to say. Ventura singled off of Ryan earlier in the game, but there wasn’t a ton of bad blood here or anything. And Ryan was not known as a headhunter. He only led the league in hit batsmen once in his 27-season career. Indeed, Ventura was the only batter he plunked that entire season. UPDATE: MLB.com’s Cut4 digs a bit into the “why” of it all today.

As for the plunking: Ventura collected himself for a moment. Thought about it and then made the worst mistake of his life: he charged the mound in an effort to mix things up with baseball’s most legendary fireballer. He, of course, got pummeled:

 

It was an instant sensation, going viral before anyone talked about video going viral. Every sportscast, local and national, and a bunch of other TV shows that otherwise wouldn’t feature baseball at all ran that clip. Today it’s the go-to reference for anyone talking about baseball and beatdowns.

Not that there isn’t some dispute as to how big a beatdown it was. A few years back a White Sox fan — obviously still salty over it all — put together a clip trying to rehabilitate Ventura’s fighting reputation, showing the moments AFTER Ryan’s haymakers to Ventura’s head in which Ventura gave back a little to the old Ryan Express:

 

I’ll give him this much: Ventura didn’t crumble and, yes, he gave back some to Ryan. Thing is, though, that Ryan was about 147 years old at the time and Ventura was a strapping young lad. And, as is the case in almost all walks of life, style counts. And there’s way more style involved in stopping a charging bull and putting it in a headlock than there is in wrestling an old man to the ground. Maybe it was more Leonard-Hagler in all of this than it was Hagler-Hearns, but the judges would’ve given this one to Ryan all the same.

Wanna know more? Last year Mike Axisa of CBSSports.com put together a great post setting forth 23 facts about the fight that you may or may not have known. For example: Ryan wasn’t even ejected. Ventura was, though, and then Ryan picked off the runner who took his place at first base.

Ryan would win that game. He’d only have six more starts after that, however, before retiring.

It’s the tenth anniversary of the biggest rout in baseball history

Associated Press
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Ten years ago today the Rangers and the Orioles squared off at Camden Yards. The Orioles built a 3-0 lead after three innings and then all hell broke loose.

The Rangers scored thirty (30!) unanswered runs via a five-spot in the fourth, a nine-spot in the sixth, a ten-spot in the eighth and a six-spot in the ninth. That was . . . a lot of spots.

Two Rangers players — Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ramon Vazquez — hit two homers and drove in seven runs a piece. The best part: they were the eighth and ninth hitters in the lineup. There was plenty of offense to go around, however as David Murphy went 5-for-7 and scored five times. Travis Metcalf hit a pinch-hit grand slam. Marlon Byrd drove in four. It was a bloodbath, with Texas rattling out 29 hits and walking eight times.

On the Orioles side of things, Daniel Cabrera took the loss, giving up six runs on nine hits in five innings. That’s not a terribly unusual line for a bad day at the office for a pitcher — someone will probably get beat up like that in the next week or so — but the Orioles’ relievers really added to the party. Brian Burres was the first victim, allowing eight runs on eight hits in only two-thirds of an inning. Rob Bell gave up seven in an inning and a third. Paul Shuey wore the rest of it, allowing nine runs on seven hits over the final two.

The best part of the insanely busy box score, however, was not from any of the Orioles pitchers or any of the Rangers hitters. Nope, it was from a Rangers relief pitcher named Wes Littleton. You probably don’t remember him, as he only pitched in 80 games and never appeared in the big leagues after 2008. But on this day — the day of the biggest blowout in baseball history — Wes Littleton notched a save. From Baseball-Reference.com:

Three innings and 43 pitches is a lot of work for a reliever and, per the rules, it’s a save, regardless of the margin when he entered the game. Still, this was not exactly a game that was ever in jeopardy.

When it went down, way back on August 22, 2007, it inspired me to write a post at my old, defunct independent baseball blog, Shysterball, arguing about how to change the save rule. Read it if you want, but know that (1) no one has ever paid attention to such proposals in baseball, even if such proposals are frequently offered; and (2) the hypothetical examples I use to illustrate the point involve an effective Joba Chamberlain and Joe Torre’s said use of him, which tells you just how long ago this really was.

Oh, one final bit: this massacre — the kind of game that the Orioles likely wanted to leave, go back home and go to sleep afterward — was only the first game of a doubleheader. Yep, they had to strap it on and play again, with the game starting at 9PM Eastern time. Baltimore lost that one too, 9-7, concluding what must have been one of the longest days any of the players involved had ever had at the office, both figuratively and literally.

Hall of Fame baseball announcer Rafael ‘Felo’ Ramirez dies

Associated Press
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MIAMI (AP) Rafael “Felo” Ramirez, a Hall of Fame baseball radio broadcaster who was the signature voice for millions of Spanish-speaking sports fans over three decades, has died. He was 94.

The Miami Marlins announced Ramirez’ death Tuesday.

Ramirez, who died Monday night, began his broadcasting career in Cuba in 1945 before calling 31 All-Star games and World Series in Spanish. He was the Marlins Spanish-language announcer since their inaugural season in 1993 and was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2001.

He was known for an expressive, yet low-key style and his signature strike call of “Essstrike.”

Several Spanish-language broadcasters, including Amury Pi-Gonzanez of the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants, have admitted to emulating his style.