Tag: Rickey Henderson

Mattingly V. Henderson: Is the Table-Setter or the RBI Man More Valuable?

It isn’t mentioned much because the New York Yankees didn’t make the playoff series, but the 1985 season produced an unanswerable question. So has almost every season in baseball history.

Which type of player has greater value to his team—the one who gets on base and sets the table to start a rally or the player who drives in the table-setter?

The 1985 Yankees finished two games behind the Toronto Blue Jays. They won 97 games, which was six games more than the Western Division Kansas Royals won.

Don Mattingly had a tremendous season. He hit .324/.371/.567 with 35 home runs and 145 RBIs. 

Rickey Henderson had a tremendous season. He hit .314/.419/.516 with 99 walks and 146 runs scored. Henderson stole 80 bases and hit 24 home runs, but batted in only 72 runs. 

Many believed that Mattingly was the MVP. Others supported Henderson.

When Yankees manager Billy Martin was asked if the table-setter or the RBI man was more important,  Martin demonstrated why he was one of the great managers ever.

”They’re both very important,” he said. ”You have to have both—the guy to get on and the guy to drive them in.” 

”Everybody can’t drive in runs,” Don Bayor said. ”But a lot depends on where you put a guy in the lineup. Tommy Herr never drove in a lot of runs before this year, but now he’s in a spot where he can drive them in.”In 1985, Tommy Herr hit eight home runs  He drove in 110 runs. The reason? Herr batted third, behind Vince Coleman and Willie McGee.

”You get the first guy or two on and it generates so much on the bench,” Baylor said. ”It filters down to everyone else. The guy who gets on is a more valuable asset. You get that guy on and it starts the flow of everything else.”

Future New York Mets manager Willie Randolph agreed with Baylor. Of course, Randolph usually batted lead off.

”Without a doubt, the catalyst sets the tempo,” Randolph said. ”Without him, the big men can go up there and swing all they want and nothing happens. You have to have somebody to drive him in, but you can create a run with a leadoff man who’s aggressive.”

Reggie Jackson didn’t say it directly, but he thinks there is more pressure on the player who must drive in the runs.

”I’d rather be a guy where all I had to do was get on base,” Jackson said. ”It’s different driving in that guy.”

The “experts” don’t have any problems with the question. Mattingly received 367 votes, including 23 for first place, and easily won the MVP.

Henderson received 174 votes to finish third, behind George Brett. Henderson did not receive a single first-place vote.

Baseball-Reference lists each players WAR (Wins Above Replacement).

Henderson’s WAR was 10.0, Brett’s was 8.0 and MVP Mattingly’s was 6.4. 

Would Henderson have won if the vote were taken today?

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

5 Things the Oakland Athletics Are Thankful for This Year

Though Thanksgiving has come and passed, the period of giving thanks and self-reflection for what we are fortunate to have in our lives continues.

Athletes, sports franchises and owners are no different. Once in a while, they need to set aside some time for introspection. And in the end, they get to cherish all that they have going for them in the tumultuously wild world of sports ownership.

Surprisingly, the Oakland Athletics organization, one of the worst teams in Major League Baseball, has a lot to be grateful for. Despite the worst five-year stretch since their move to Oakland, the A’s should be happy this holiday season. Here are five things the Athletics organization is thankful for.    

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Out at the Plate: Glenn Burke’s Baseball Legacy Transcends Gay-Straight Barrier

On Wednesday, the San Francisco Giants will be taking the field against the Texas Rangers in the 106th edition of baseball’s World Series. The players will be trotting out to their respective positions, digging into the batter’s box and toeing the pitcher’s mound with only one thing on their minds: winning.

Yet 33 years ago, the starting center-fielder for the National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers had a lot on his mind. Granted, it was Game 1 of the 1977 World Series. He was technically still a rookie, and was being touted as the Dodgers’ version of Willie Mays.

He was facing one of the most experienced World Series pitchers of all time in Don Gullet, and he was playing his first game ever in historic Yankee Stadium. 

Oh, and he was gay. 

Glenn Burke, still accepted around sports as the first and only player in the big four sports (NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA) to come out to his teammates while he was still playing, was in the majors for only four years before his lifestyle seemingly drove him out of the game. Three decades after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, Glenn Burke attempted to break the gay barrier, but sadly their paths were not parallel.

Burke, an Oakland native and Berkeley High two-sport star, was one of the best Bay Area athletes to come out of high school in the 1970s. Remember, this is a region and decade that also produced Rickey Henderson and Claudell Washington, who have played a combined 42 Major League seasons to Burke’s four. And according to them, Burke was still the best talent out of all three.

Burke may have had the talent and the star power personality to match, but when he began to reveal glimpses of his sexuality to his teammates and management, it started him down a slippery slope that was simply to steep to climb back up.

Out. The Glenn Burke Story is an exclusive Comcast SportsNet documentary that chronicles his descent from the World Series to being traded to the Athletics to a voluntary retirement and down into the abyss of drug abuse, homelessness, and AIDS that eventually took his life, and shows how much his story affected many people who have until now been silent. 

Featuring interviews with Dodger teammates Dusty Baker, Davey Lopes and Rick Monday, among others, as well as A’s teammates Claudell Washington, Mike Norris, and Shooty Babitt, Out gets into the nitty-gritty of Burke’s athletic and post-athletic career.

According to almost everyone interviewed, Burke was run out of baseball because he was gay. The Dodgers apparently offered to pay for his wedding and honeymoon if he got married, and when he refused, he was promptly traded to the Athletics. The situation was no better there with manager Billy Martin, and Burke took a leave of absence from the team to clear his head. 

When he decided to come back, it was starkly clear to him that, while he still loved baseball and obviously had the physical tools to play the game, there was no place for a gay man in professional baseball. Burke then took the celebrity that he did have and played it up, spending a majority of his time in San Francisco’s famed Castro District.

Yet his fame ran out, and his party lifestyle turned into one of drug abuse. The tragedy was compounded when Burke contracted AIDS in 1994. But in the last years of his life, the same game of baseball that abandoned him came back to support him in his greatest time of need. 

Out. is being premiered for a public screening at the Castro Theater on Wednesday, November 10, and will be replayed exclusively on Comcast SportsNet on Tuesday, November 16. Tickets for the screening are $5, with all proceeds benefitting Marty’s Place, which once provided a homeless Burke with shelter and care as he coped with the effects of AIDS/HIV. 

For more information, and for ticket sales, please visit Comcast SportsNet’s exclusive information page.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Totally Awesome: Schmidt, Boggs and Ripken Lead the Ultimate 1980s All-Stars

The 1980’s cannot be thirty years in the past already, can they?

Surely there’s been some mistake; say it ain’t so, Peter Ueberroth.  Please tell me Cheers and The Cosby Show are still atop the ratings, Bruce Springsteen is still The Boss, and Major League Baseball still has 26 teams, four divisions, no interleague play and no wild card.  Or if you can’t say all that, at least pretend for the sake of argument.

Have you got it yet?  That’s right, all you have to do is forget steroids, imagine Roger Maris and Hank Aaron still reign supreme atop the home run charts, and mentally switch the Brewers back to the American League.  There you go.  See how much better that is?

Well, your mileage may vary as to better or worse, but the 80’s were definitely a different time in baseball.  Whiteyball and Billyball led to record-setting stolen base seasons, teams carried nine or ten pitchers… and the players you’re about to see dominated the diamond.

I’ve spent the last week sifting stats to determine the roster for the ultimate 1980’s team.  I ranked the top 100 players per year, then added those rankings together to find players who excelled consistently throughout the decade.  Remember: We’re looking for the players who performed the best overall, not necessarily the best players to step on the field.  In other words, Roger Clemens might have remained dominant through the 90’s and Tom Seaver might have starred in the 70’s, but that doesn’t matter for our purposes.  All that counts is what happened between 1980 and 1989.

Ready?  Then it’s time to meet the starting lineup…

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The Top 25 Oakland Athletics of All Time

The Oakland Athletics have a history of talented and interesting players.

The club was born in Philadelphia in 1901, left for Kansas City in 1955, and finally settled in Oakland in 1968. They are the proud owners of nine world series titles, trailing only the Saint Louis Cardinals (10) and the New York Yankees (27).

37 Athletics are enshrined in the baseball hall of fame and there are certainly more to come.

My criteria for this list includes: statistics, defense, aura, and longevity with the team.

There’s no scientific formula here, but be assured, I conducted thorough research.

I’ll only take into account players statistics when they were on the A’s, dismissing contributions they made with other teams. The numbers listed will reflect this.

I will also include non-players (managers, announcers, etc.) that had a significant impact on the organization.

Without further ado, here are the Top 25 Oakland Athletics.

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Stealing Home: Or, Why Babe Ruth is a Better Thief Than Rickey Henderson

Baseball is an absurd game. And I think that’s why we love it.

I was reminded of this when I happened across The Sandlot as I was skimming through channels the other day. In an odd sort of bummer, I tuned in at the very end, just after the gang has finally defeated Hercules and Smalls and Benny have their meet and greet with James Earl Jones. Alas, I had missed out on all the fun stuff.

The good news is that I was in time for the money shot.

Now, a proper way to conclude the film would have involved Smalls being mercifully beaten by Dennis Leary for stealing his Babe Ruth ball – a warning to all kids who would dare to recreate Smalls’ tomfoolery. But no. Instead, we get a classically cathartic Hollywood ending. It turns out that Benny and Smalls have both found careers in baseball: Benny as a prolific pinch runner for the Dodgers, and Smalls as his ever-faithful broadcaster. The movie ends when Benny (“The Jet”) takes off from third and steals home just ahead of the tag, thus ending the game. The Dodgers win, and The Jet’s teammates carry him off the field amidst the commotion of a standing ovation. And then we see the grown-up Smalls grinning contentedly beneath the bill of his outrageous hat as he shares a thumbs up with his old friend.

Back in the day, I had to fight back the tears. But I’m older now, and all the nostalgia that was welling up inside my chest was not enough to keep me from scratching my beard. I got a real curious feeling. I understood why the filmmaker’s chose to have a straight steal of home serve as the climax for their film. It is, after all, the most exciting play in sports.

But a straight steal of home to win the game? Has that ever even happened before?

Click “Start Slideshow” to find out about that, and many other stealing home tidbits.

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The Best Trade in the History of Each MLB Team

With one of the most exciting times of the baseball season, the trading deadline, behind us, the contenders should begin to take shape within the next month as we move closer to October baseball.

With so much talk of trades the past several weeks, I decided to look back and name what I feel is the best trade, be it deadline, off-season, or otherwise, in the history of each MLB team.

Some decisions were certainly easier than others, with moves like the Lou Brock and Jeff Bagwell trades a no-brainer. However, for other team’s it was much harder to settle on a best trade. And I will allow you to start thinking now, but a great Dodgers trade is nowhere to be found.

So with that, here are what I feel are the best trades in the history of each MLB team. I hope that this will spark some lively debate, and I encourage you to chime in with any great trade I may have excluded.

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