One could stump a lot of people with this question: who is the active leader in strikeouts among right-handed pitchers?
It will soon by Roy Halladay, who stands at 1,980, but for now, Kevin Millwood is tops. The Mariners veteran fanned six Yankees in a 6-2 win Sunday, upping his career total from 1,998 to 2,004.
Javier Vazquez ended last season as the active strikeout leader with 2,536. Since he’s now out of the league, the list is topped by two left-handers who actually didn’t pitch at all in 2011: Jamie Moyer (2,429) and Andy Pettitte (2,253). CC Sabathia (2,070) is third and rising. Millwood is fourth even though he’s finished in the top 10 of his league in strikeouts just twice: a fourth-place finish in 1999 and and a 10th-place showing in 2002.
Millwood today spoiled Pettitte’s return to Yankee Stadium with his best effort of the season. He allowed just one run and three hits to earn his first win in seven starts and lower his ERA from 5.88 to 5.09. Pettitte gave up four runs in 6 1/3 innings and took the loss.
The Yankees have played “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch since 9/11. The version they play is the most famous version, recorded in 1939 by Kate Smith. As of today they will no longer be playing the Kate Smith version, however.
Why? The New York Daily News reports that it’s because “the Yankees were made aware of Smith’s history of potential racism.” Which is a rather interesting way of putting it, because there’s not much “potential” to this:
Smith was a famous singer before and during WWII who recorded the offensive jingle, “Pickaninny Heaven,” which she directed at “colored children” who should fantasize about an amazing place with “great big watermelons,” among other treats. She shot a video for that song that takes place in an orphanage for black children, and much of the imagery is startlingly racist. She also recorded, “That’s Why Darkies Were Born,” which included the lyrics, “Someone had to pick the cotton. … That’s why darkies were born.”
I’m guessing this information was available in some Kate Smith biography or is in the memory of some of her big fans who may still be alive, but it was news to the Yankees until recently and once they learned it they decided that going with a version of the song NOT sung by Kate Smith was better. Good call!
I’m sure someone will complain about this, but I feel like there are better hills to die on than “the Yankees should continue to play the racist lady’s version of the show tune that, despite what we think of it now, was never meant as an actual patriotic anthem.”
If you feel like dying on that hill, be my guest. But please, show your work.