Bonderman could join rare group

With two more losses, Jeremy Bonderman could enter the record books alongside Hall of Famer Red Ruffing.

Originally Published: September 9, 2003
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com

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:

FIRST PRIZE
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:

Bonderman
Bonderman

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:

Pitcher Year Losses Age
Red Ruffing 1928 25 24
Eddie Rommel 1921 23 23
Joe Bush 1916 24 23
Elmer Myers 1916 23 22
Lee Meadows 1916 23 21
Pete Schneider 1915 19 19

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.

SECOND PRIZE
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?

THIRD PRIZE
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.

Fassero
Fassero

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.

FOURTH PRIZE
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?

FIFTH PRIZE
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.

Colon
Colon

Burkett
Burkett

OK, now this really gets good. Winning and losing pitchers in the first of those games: John Burkett and Bartolo Colon. Winning and losing pitchers in the second: John Burkett and Bartolo Colon.

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:

Terry Adams, Cubs -- Aug. 25-28, 1997 (vs. Marlins)
John Franco, Mets -- July 28-30, 1995 (vs. Pirates)

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.

    This year, it was done by Toronto's Reed Johnson, on June 15. That was the first time any team had done it since June 25, 2000, when both the leadoff and walkoff bombs were hit by Darin Erstad.

    Before that, a team did it two other times in the 2000 season -- Brady Anderson leadoff, Cal Ripken walkoff for the Orioles on May 23, and Shannon Stewart leadoff, Tony Batista walkoff on April 3.

    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

    Useless contributions
    Useless Tigers info:
    You may remember earlier in the year that exceptionally loyal reader Cab Treadway wondered whether the Tigers were going to have a team batting average higher than their winning percentage.

    Well, we now have that answer: Just about no chance.

    Their team batting average, through Sunday: .237. Their team winning percentage: .261.

    So the Tigers would have to go 1-19 the rest of the way for their winning percentage to submerge below .237. And that's unlikely, even for them.

    But Treadway didn't stop there. He wondered about the last time any team's batting average was higher than any other team's winning percentage. And the answer, not surprisingly, was 1962, when 13 teams had higher batting averages than the '62 Mets' legendary winning percentage, of .250.

    Last time it happened in the AL: 1939, when the Browns (43-111, .279) had a lower winning percentage than four teams' batting average.

    Useless Mets info:
    Loyal reader Mike Franzago keeps looking at the Mets' stats and noticing that only two players -- the unlikely duo of Ty Wigginton and Roger Cedeno -- have assembled enough plate appearances even to qualify for the batting title. (That takes 3.1 PA per game.) He wondered how unusual that was.

    Turned out, it's not that strange. Elias reports that the Mets are one of three teams that have just two qualifiers on their roster at the moment. The others are the Tigers (Dmitri Young, Bobby Higginson) and the Diamondbacks (Luis Gonzalez, Steve Finley). By the way, this makes two years in a row in which the Tigers have had two (although Carlos Pena has a shot to make it three this year).

    Useless Bob Gibson info:
    You never know what you'll learn by listening to ESPN Radio. Loyal reader Charles Azzolina was listening to the Dan Patrick Show one day and found out that Bob Gibson finished his career with more complete games (255) than wins (251). He wondered how unusual that was.

    Well, we used Lee Sinins' Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia to look at all the pitchers who won at least 150 games in the last half-century, and we found just one other -- Juan Marichal (244 CG, 243 W). If we go back another 10 years or so, Warren Spahn (382 CG, 363 W), Robin Roberts (305 CG, 286 W), Hal Newhouser (212 CG, 207 W) and Bob Feller (279 CG, 266 W) all join the list.

    One thing you can be sure of: We'll never see this done again. The only active pitcher with at least 50 career wins who is even within 100 is Curt Schilling (79 CG, 162 W).

  • 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:

    1990 Dodgers
    Barry Lyons // Lenny Harris

    1991 Dodgers
    Gary Carter, Darryl Strawberry, Barry Lyons, Bobby Ojeda, Roger McDowell // Lenny Harris, Dennis Cook

    1992 Dodgers
    Darryl Strawberry, Bobby Ojeda, Roger McDowell // Mike Piazza, Lenny Harris

    1993 Dodgers
    Darryl Strawberry, Roger McDowell // Mike Piazza, Lenny Harris

    1994 Dodgers
    Roger McDowell // Mike Piazza

    2001 Dodgers
    Jesse Orosco // Dennis Springer

    2002 Dodgers
    Jesse Orosco // Mike Kinkade, Dennis Springer

    -----

    1989-90 Phillies
    Lenny Dykstra, Roger McDowell // Dennis Cook

    1992 Phillies
    Lenny Dykstra, Wally Backman // Todd Pratt

    1993-4 Phillies
    Lenny Dykstra // Todd Pratt

    1995 Phillies
    Lenny Dykstra, Kevin Elster, Sid Fernandez // Dennis Springer

    1996 Phillies
    Lenny Dykstra, Sid Fernandez // Todd Zeile

    -----

    1995 Rangers
    Roger McDowell // Dennis Cook

    1996 Rangers
    Kevin Elster // Darryl Hamilton, Dennis Cook

    1998 Rangers
    Kevin Elster // Todd Zeile

    -----

    1995 White Sox
    Barry Lyons // Robin Ventura

    -----

    1991-95 Athletics
    Ron Darling // Mike Bordick, Rickey Henderson (Kurt Abbott, also, in 1993)

    1998 Athletics
    Dave Magadan, Kevin Mitchell // Kurt Abbott, Jorge Velandia

    -----

    Useless uniform info
    In our last edition of Useless Reader Information, we mentioned a game in which the Expos' first, second and third hitters in the lineup wore the numbers 1, 2 and 3, in that order. We then asked if anyone out there could top the first three.

    Well, we heard from approximately 1.6 million people who told us the story of the 1929 Yankees. That was the team that actually pioneered uniform numbers by assigning No. 1 to the leadoff man (Earle Combs), No. 2 to the second hitter (Mark Koenig), No. 3 to the third hitter (Babe Ruth), No. 4 to cleanup man Lou Gehrig and so on -- right on through No. 8 (Johnny Grabowski).

    To all the people who wrote in to tell us about that: Thanks. And way to pay attention.

    Only one reader checked in with a uniform-number coincidence involving any other team. That was the heads-up Bart Wilhelm, who ran through the Oakland order in an Aug. 6 game against Detroit and found three players batting in the same spot as their uniform number:

    No. 3 Eric Chavez
    No. 4 Miguel Tejada
    No. 8 Adam Piatt

    They weren't in order. But at least that was the idea. So Bart, good going.

    1994 Orioles
    Sid Fernandez // Armando Benitez

    1995 Orioles
    Sid Fernandez, Jesse Ororsco // Armando Benitez

    1996 Orioles
    Jesse Orosco, Roger McDowell, Randy Myers // Todd Zeile, Armando Benitez -- Managed by Davey Johnson

    1997 Orioles
    Jesse Orosco, Randy Myers // Armando Benitez, Mike Bordick -- Managed by Johnson

    1998 Orioles
    Jesse Orosco// Armando Benitez, Mike Bordick

    1999 Orioles
    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

    ------

    1991 Padres
    Tim Teufel // Rich Rodriguez

    1992 Padres
    Tim Teufel, Randy Myers // Rich Rodriguez

    1993 Padres
    Tim Teufel // Derek Bell, Rich Rodriguez

    2001 Padres
    Dave Magadan // Rickey Henderson, Bubba Trammell, Bobby Jones

    -------

    1995 Astros
    Dave Magadan // Mike Hampton, Derek Bell

    1997 Astros
    Sid Fernandez // Mike Hampton, Derek Bell

    -------

    1993 Marlins
    Dave Magadan // Rich Rodriguez

    1994 Marlins
    Dave Magadan // Kurt Abbott

    ------

    1984 Reds
    Bruce Berenyi // John Franco

    1994, '96 Reds
    Kevin Michell // Lenny Harris
    (1994 team managed by Davey Johnson)

    ------

    1992-94 Brewers
    Jesse Orosco // Darryl Hamilton

    ------

    1988 Yankees
    Rafael Santana // Rickey Henderson

    1989 Yankees
    Stan Jefferson // Rickey Henderson, Al Leiter

    2003 Yankees
    Jesse Orosco // Armando Benitez, Robin Ventura, Todd Zeile

    ------

    2000 Devil Rays
    Dwight Gooden // Bubba Trammell, Rick White

    -------

    1990 Pirates
    Wally Backman // Rick Reed

    1997 Pirates
    Kevin Elster // Mark Johnson

    --------

    1992-96 Twins
    Rick Aguilera // Pat Mahomes

    2003 Twins
    Jesse Orosco // Rick Reed
    Jesse Orosco and pitching coach Rick Anderson // Rick Reed

    --------

    1996 Red Sox
    Kevin Mitchell // Pat Mahomes

    --------

    1990 Mets
    Dwight Gooden, Sid Fernandez, Ron Darling, Bobby Ojeda, Dave Magadan, Howard Johnson, Kevin Elster, Darryl Strawberry, Tim Teufel, Barry Lyons // John Franco

    1991 Mets
    Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, Dave Magadan, Howard Johnson, Kevin Elster, Tim Teufel // John Franco

    1992 Mets
    Dwight Gooden, Sid Fernandez, Dave Magadan, Howard Johnson, Kevin Elster // John Franco

    1993 Mets
    Dwight Gooden, Sid Fernandez, Howard Johnson // John Franco, Bobby Jones

    1994 Mets
    Dwight Gooden // John Franco, Bobby Jones

    --------

    1988 -89 Giants
    Kevin Mitchell // Dennis Cook

    ---------

    1993 Indians
    Bobby Ojeda // Dennis Cook

    --------

    1993-94 Cubs
    Randy Myers // Turk Wendell

    1995 Cubs
    Howard Johnson, Randy Myers // Todd Zeile, Matt Franco, Todd Pratt, Turk Wendell

    1996 Cubs
    Dave Magadan // Turk Wendell

    -------

    1993 Mariners
    Wally Backman, Dave Magadan // Mike Hampton

    Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your Useless Info to uselessinfodept@yahoo.com.

    Jayson Stark | email

    Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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