- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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It's scary even to contemplate this, but the more sensational tidbits we get from you folks out in cyber-land, the more we're getting concerned you've got a better grasp of this useless-information concept than we do. Which is great for us, dangerous for you. But keep it coming. We can all get professional help for our useless-info addiction after the season.
Here's the best of our latest influx of classic useless reader info:
We're not sure if the Tigers are going to let Jeremy Bonderman follow Mike Maroth into the dark netherworld of 20 Loss Land. But if he does, loyal reader James Alexander has the best 20-game-loser question of the year:
When was the last time a pitcher had as many losses as his age?
Hmmm. Bonderman is 20 years old. And if he loses 20, he'll be in the weirdest 20-20 Club in many a decade. With the help of Lee Sinins' Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia CD-Rom (available at baseball-encyclopedia.com), we determined that no pitcher has had as many losses as years on earth since ...
Would you believe 1928?
That year, Red Ruffing -- a future Hall of Famer, by the way -- lost 25 games, at age 24. He's one of only six pitchers who have lost their age since the start of World War I. Here they are:
Rommel and Schneider really deserve asterisks because they had birthdays late in that season. So Rommel was actually 24 on the day he lost his 23rd, and Schneider was 20 the day he lost his 19th. But hey, close enough.
A bunch of other pitchers accomplished this feat before 1910. One of them was Walter Johnson (25 losses at age 21, in 1909), who was so traumatized, he only went 385-231 afterward.
But since Rommell, only three pitchers have come within two losses (or years) of this Lost Their Age Club:
Dick Ellsworth, 1962 -- 20 losses at 22
Clay Kirby, 1969 -- 20 losses at 21
Frank Tanana, 1974 -- 19 losses at 20
Randy Jones, 1974 -- 22 losses at 24
Bonderman is already within two. And he might get back into the rotation. So stay tuned.
We don't know what it is about Armando Benitez, but our useless-info fan club can't get enough of him. Loyal reader Tom Mariam checked in to report that there was only one week this season in which the Yankees had both Benitez and Aaron Boone on the roster. But for that week, at least, they had two members of the National League All-Star team on their roster from this year. Very weird.
His question: Has that ever happened -- one team having two members of that year's All-Star team from the other league? And the answer, courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau, is: Nope. The Yankees are the first team ever. And why does that not surprise us?
It's hard to say where Jeff Fassero will be pitching next season, if anywhere. But wherever it is, if they ever find themselves in a 15-inning game against the Cardinals, they should immediately tell Fassero to leave the stadium.
Here's why, thanks to loyal reader Jeremy Chartrand:
On Sept. 2, Fassero gave up a game-winning home run to Sammy Sosa in the 15th inning of Game 1 of that endless Cardinals-Cubs doubleheader. And if you're paying attention, you know Fassero pitched for the Cubs last year.
OK, stay with us here. Three years ago -- on Aug. 1, 2000 -- when Fassero was pitching for the Red Sox, he gave up a game-winning home run in the 19th inning to Mike Cameron of the Mariners. If you're still paying attention, perhaps you also know that the year before that, Fassero pitched for (who else?) the Mariners.
So that makes twice in a little over three years that Fassero has given up a game-winning home run in the 15th inning or later -- to the team he pitched for the previous season. And that, friends, is the epitome of useless information.
Aramis Ramirez's version of Ground Hog Day this season went like this: Every time he woke up, he was about to play against the Astros.
OK, not quite -- but just about. As loyal reader Brett Jones points out, back when Ramirez was with the Pirates, they played their entire season series -- all 16 games' worth -- against the Astros before he got traded to the Cubs. But the Cubs had another 10 games left with the Astros after the deal. So Ramirez wound up playing 25 games this year just against Houston. (And teammate Kenny Lofton, who made the same Pittsburgh-Chicago journey, played 22.)
Ramirez hit .294, with a .385 on-base percentage, against the Astros as a Cub -- versus only .200, with a .258 OBP, as a Pirate. But that isn't the note of the day. The note of the day is the answer to Jones' question: When was the last time any player played that many games against one team in the same year?
Well, according to Elias, the correct response would be 1976 -- when Wayne Garrett played exactly 25 games against the Cubs, in a season in which he got traded from the Mets to the Expos (with Del Unser, for Pepe Mangual and Jim Dwyer) on July 21. And how tremendous -- not to mention thoroughly useless -- is that?
We find Red Sox fans to be serious devotees of pricessly useless information. So we're awarding a tie for fifth prize to two of them.
One is loyal reader David Lento. He reports that Boston's record in its first 69 games this year was 40-29. The 40th win came in Game 69, in a June 17 victory over the White Sox. So what was Boston's record in its next 69 games? Exactly 40-29. Again. And again, the 40th win (or 80th of the year) came in Game 69, in a victory over the White Sox on Sept. 2.
We don't know quite why Lento is breaking the season down into 69-game blocks. But all of us useless-information fans are glad he did.
He shares this award with loyal reader David Rouille, a guy who obviously gets seriously jittery every time he sees Byung-Hyun Kim enter a game against the Yankees.
In that Red Sox-Yankees series at Fenway in late July, Kim pulled off the closer's quadruple crown: In the same series, he had a win, a loss, a save and a blown save. And Rouille couldn't help but wonder how rare that is.
Turned out, it's more rare than you think. According to Elias, he's only the third pitcher since 1990 to do it. The others:
Favorite reader box-score line of the week
You know you've got a box-score classic on your hands when two different readers check in with the same box-score line. And loyal readers Joe Bogucki and David Miller both loved this one, by Twins reliever Juan Rincon, Sept. 3 vs. Anaheim:
0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
On the surface, it would seem to be mathematically impossible to have more strikeouts in a game than outs. But that's why we love baseball. Not only is it possible (thanks to the fabulous strikeout-wild pitch), it's the second time this year it's happened.
The other, according to Elias' Randy Robles, came in the Astros' six-pitcher no-hitter against the Yankees on June 11 -- when Octavio Dotel racked up four strikeouts but only three outs.
Last pitcher before Rincon to record a strikeout but no outs: Reds reliever Joey Hamilton, vs. Arizona, on Aug. 20, 2002. Sensational!
Sultan's readers corner
It isn't often that a reader's question is inspired by Wiffle Ball. But loyal reader Austin Gillis played a Wiffle Ball game recently that started with a leadoff homer and ended with a walkoff homer. And he wondered how unique that is. The answer, according to the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR home run historian David Vincent is: Not common, but not as unique as you might think.
What's odd is that the last two times a team has done that, the same player hit both the leadoff and the walkoff. And before that, the same player had done that only twice in history.
The only other two players in history to do it themselves before three years ago:
Billy Hamilton May 17, 1893
Vic Power May 7, 1957
When the Royals' Aaron Guiel led off a game Thursday with a home run off Randy Johnson, the Baseball Tonight crew was wondering if any left-handed hitter had ever previously led off a game against the Unit with a home run. And the answer turned out to be: Negative.
But the Sultan reports that nine other players have hit leadoff homers against Johnson, all from the right side, even though he went seven years without allowing one at one point. Here they are (quite a group):
July 19, 1990 Mike Felder
June 10, 1991 Ellis Burks
Sept. 23, 1998 Pat Kelly
May 15, 1999 Neifi Perez
June 20, 1999 Gerald Williams
July 10, 1999 Tim Raines
Sept. 20, 1999 Quilvio Veras
May 16, 2002 Jimmy Rollins
June 20, 2002 Melvin Mora
Useless Mets teammates
Finally, in our last Useless Reader Info column, we also mentioned that the Yankees had united the 1986 Mets' World Series closer, Jesse Orosco, with the 2000 Mets' World Series closer, Armando Benitez. Then we invited readers to check in with other instances in which 1986 Mets were teammates with assorted 2000 Mets.
Well, you folks sure have a lot of free time on your hands, because we were blown away by how many responses we got. Four particularly loyal readers actually looked up every single one of these instances -- Aaron Cohen (who originally posed this question), Jim Poserina, Dan Rivkin and Clayton Freeman.
We couldn't possibly list every single email we got on this. But before we present the complete list, a few cool notes:
(From Freeman) There were a bunch of playoff teams that had both '86 Mets 'and '00 Mets on them, but only one World Series team: the 1993 Phillies (Lenny Dykstra in center, Todd Pratt backing up Darren Daulton).
(From Poserina) Teammates who played on three different teams together: Dennis Cook and Roger McDowell.
(From Poserina) Earliest combination of teammates: Dennis Cook and Kevin Mitchell, 1988 Giants.
(From Poserina) Last combinations of '86-'00 teammates before Orosco and Benitez this year: 2001-2002 Dodgers (Dennis Springer; Jesse Orosco); 2001 Padres (Rickey Henderson, Bobby Jones, Bubba Trammell; Dave Magadan).
(From Poserina) Teammates together the most seasons (five): Armando Benitez and Jesse Orosco (also played together in Baltimore), Mike Bordick and Ron Darling, John Franco and Kevin Elster, John Franco and Dwight Gooden, Rickey Henderson and Ron Darling, Pat Mahomes and Rick Aguilera.
(From Poserina) Team with the biggest single connection: 1990 Mets, with 10 from 1986 (Darling, Gooden, Fernandez, Elster, Johnson, Lyons, Magadan, Ojeda, Strawberry, Teufel) and one from 2000 (Franco).
(From Poserina) Biggest multiple connection: 1991 Dodgers, with five from 1986 (Carter, Ojeda, Strawberry, McDowell, Lyons) and two from 2000 (Harris, Cook).
(From Poserina) Non-Mets team with most 1986 Mets: 1991 Dodgers, five (Carter, Ojeda, Strawberry, McDowell, Lyons).
(From Poserina) Non-Mets team with most 2000 Mets: 1995 Cubs, four (M. Franco, Pratt, Wendell, Zeile).
(From Cohen) Two trades of '86 Mets traded for 2000 Mets: Franco to the Mets for Randy Myers before the 1990 season, Joe McEwing to Mets for Orosco in the spring of 2000.
And the complete list, most concisely assembled by Rivkin:
Barry Lyons // Lenny Harris
Gary Carter, Darryl Strawberry, Barry Lyons, Bobby Ojeda, Roger McDowell // Lenny Harris, Dennis Cook
Darryl Strawberry, Bobby Ojeda, Roger McDowell // Mike Piazza, Lenny Harris
Darryl Strawberry, Roger McDowell // Mike Piazza, Lenny Harris
Roger McDowell // Mike Piazza
Jesse Orosco // Dennis Springer
Jesse Orosco // Mike Kinkade, Dennis Springer
Lenny Dykstra, Roger McDowell // Dennis Cook
Lenny Dykstra, Wally Backman // Todd Pratt
Lenny Dykstra // Todd Pratt
Lenny Dykstra, Kevin Elster, Sid Fernandez // Dennis Springer
Lenny Dykstra, Sid Fernandez // Todd Zeile
Roger McDowell // Dennis Cook
Kevin Elster // Darryl Hamilton, Dennis Cook
Kevin Elster // Todd Zeile
1995 White Sox
Barry Lyons // Robin Ventura
Ron Darling // Mike Bordick, Rickey Henderson (Kurt Abbott, also, in 1993)
Dave Magadan, Kevin Mitchell // Kurt Abbott, Jorge Velandia
Sid Fernandez // Armando Benitez
Sid Fernandez, Jesse Ororsco // Armando Benitez
Jesse Orosco, Roger McDowell, Randy Myers // Todd Zeile, Armando Benitez -- Managed by Davey Johnson
Jesse Orosco, Randy Myers // Armando Benitez, Mike Bordick -- Managed by Johnson
Jesse Orosco// Armando Benitez, Mike Bordick
Jesse Orosco// Mike Bordick
1989 Blue Jays
Mookie Wilson, Lee Mazzilli // Al Leiter
1990 Blue Jays
Mookie Wilson // Al Leiter
1991 Blue Jays
Mookie Wilson // Derek Bell, Al Leiter
Tim Teufel // Rich Rodriguez
Tim Teufel, Randy Myers // Rich Rodriguez
Tim Teufel // Derek Bell, Rich Rodriguez
Dave Magadan // Rickey Henderson, Bubba Trammell, Bobby Jones
Dave Magadan // Mike Hampton, Derek Bell
Sid Fernandez // Mike Hampton, Derek Bell
Dave Magadan // Rich Rodriguez
Dave Magadan // Kurt Abbott
Bruce Berenyi // John Franco
1994, '96 Reds
Kevin Michell // Lenny Harris
(1994 team managed by Davey Johnson)
Jesse Orosco // Darryl Hamilton
Rafael Santana // Rickey Henderson
Stan Jefferson // Rickey Henderson, Al Leiter
Jesse Orosco // Armando Benitez, Robin Ventura, Todd Zeile
2000 Devil Rays
Dwight Gooden // Bubba Trammell, Rick White
Wally Backman // Rick Reed
Kevin Elster // Mark Johnson
Rick Aguilera // Pat Mahomes
Jesse Orosco // Rick Reed
Jesse Orosco and pitching coach Rick Anderson // Rick Reed
1996 Red Sox
Kevin Mitchell // Pat Mahomes
Dwight Gooden, Sid Fernandez, Ron Darling, Bobby Ojeda, Dave Magadan, Howard Johnson, Kevin Elster, Darryl Strawberry, Tim Teufel, Barry Lyons // John Franco
Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, Dave Magadan, Howard Johnson, Kevin Elster, Tim Teufel // John Franco
Dwight Gooden, Sid Fernandez, Dave Magadan, Howard Johnson, Kevin Elster // John Franco
Dwight Gooden, Sid Fernandez, Howard Johnson // John Franco, Bobby Jones
Dwight Gooden // John Franco, Bobby Jones
1988 -89 Giants
Kevin Mitchell // Dennis Cook
Bobby Ojeda // Dennis Cook
Randy Myers // Turk Wendell
Howard Johnson, Randy Myers // Todd Zeile, Matt Franco, Todd Pratt, Turk Wendell
Dave Magadan // Turk Wendell
Wally Backman, Dave Magadan // Mike Hampton
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your Useless Info to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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