Author Archives: Big Mike

Big Mike was born and raised in Rochester, NY. A graduate of the University of South Carolina where he briefly played football. Big Mike is a verified sports handicapper and has been blogging for years on the Red Sox, Gamecocks, sports gambling and sport simulation games.

SouthCarolinaClemson

Are Clemson and South Carolina Headed for Another Showdown?

The NCAA committee has done it again, they have made it possible for the Gamecocks and the Clemson Tigers to meet in June in tournament baseball.

The programs have met six times in June with the Gamecocks winning all six of the meetings. Four of these meetings took place in Omaha in the College World Series.

After the Gamecocks beat Clemson twice in the 2010 College World Series, the NCAA Tournament committee decided they wanted these match-ups more often. In 2011 the Gamecocks and Clemson were both hosting regionals with a shot to face each other in Columbia in a Super Regional. Clemson did not live up to their end of the bargain as they lost their regional at home to the #2 seeded Connecticut Huskies. At the time it seemed embarrassing for Clemson to lose at home to a northeast school without much of a baseball history. It turns out that Connecticut team was pretty special. Their ace pitcher was Matt Barnes and their best player was a guy named George Springer. UCONN would get swept the next weekend by the Gamecocks in Columbia but those games were far from easy.

In 2012 the committee decided to put Clemson in the Columbia regional. They would face off twice with the Gamecocks winning an epic game on Saturday 5-4 in 12 innings. They would meet again on Sunday in another great game in which the Gamecocks would hold on for a 4-3 win.

In 2013 the committee once again put Clemson in the Columbia regional. This was the year that Clemson came to Columbia in June and did not lose once to the Gamecocks. Then again, they never played each other. Clemson went 1-2, losing to Liberty twice and never facing the Gamecocks.

It is now 2016 and it is Clemson with the national seed. The Gamecocks and Clemson could finally meet in June away from Columbia and Omaha. Will the committee get what it wants? We will see. We do know this, the Gamecocks have always made the College World Series whenever they have played Clemson in June or lined up to play them in June. Can the streak continue?

MonteLee

Clemson Has Arrived and They Aren’t Going Anywhere

Sometimes you are smart and sometimes you are lucky. Clemson got lucky when they hired Monte Lee.

Gamecock fans held their breath hoping that they wouldn’t get rid of Jack Leggett. When Clemson did, Gamecock fans were hoping either Kevin O’Sullivan or Tim Corbin would take the job. After all, they were the top two choices for that trusty Clemson brain trust.

Gamecock fans knew who we didn’t want them to get and that was Monte Lee. Corbin and O’Sullivan turned down Clemson and Monte Lee fell into their lap like a winning lottery ticket picked out from the garbage by a homeless man.

Monte Lee is the real deal and I wish I said this sudden surge by Clemson baseball in just one season is shocking to me. It is not. Most Gamecock fans knew this was coming.

When I interviewed Aaron Fitt to preview the college baseball season, I expressed my concerns to him:

Big Mike: They say keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Don’t tell anyone but I am worried about Clemson. I think Monte Lee is really good and Clemson baseball could be a force soon. Please tell me I am wrong on this….or just tell me the truth. What can we expect from Clemson this year and beyond?

Aaron: Your instincts are spot-on — Monte Lee is a rising star, and he’s going to do very well at Clemson. That said, I think this year could be a bit trying, just because they’re really short on proven arms over there. The offense should be pretty solid, the defense is very questionable, and the pitching is on the thin side. It’s a team that would be good enough to make a regional most years (and it may very well do so this year), but I think the ACC is 10 quality teams deep, and Clemson would be at the back of that 10-team group for me. And the ACC has never gotten 10 bids before, and it won’t this year. That said — the future is very bright for Clemson under Lee. The best rivalry in college baseball will continue to be very compelling for years to come.

Why do I always have to be right? It is a curse. The NCAA Baseball Tournament starts Friday. Clemson is in our sights. Get used to it. Let the rivalry resume.

Chick-Stahl-800x478

A Homer and a Suicide: The Life of a Gay Red Sox Outfielder?

Ted Williams homered in his last at bat off Jack Fisher of the Baltimore Orioles. Williams was supposedly the only player in the history of baseball to retire after sending one deep. The great John Thorn found that hard to believe and through research discovered others who homered in their final at-bat. You can read his piece on that right here.

Splendid Fenway Finale

Ted Williams was not the only player to do it and he wasn’t even the only Red Sox outfielder to do it. Chick Stahl did it first on October 6, 1906 off of Tom Hughes of the New York Highlanders (Yankees). It was Chick Stahl’s 36th and final home-run of his very successful career. He was just 33 years old and had played in his final game. Nobody knew it at the time.

Stahl hit .305 for his career, led the league in triples in 1904 and would be a key player in the Boston Americans (Red Sox) winning the 1903 World Series.

A month after his last game Stahl would get married but in March of the next year he would kill himself by drinking carbolic acid.

Why did he kill himself? Glenn Miller wrote this great piece for the Naples Herald where he goes over all the possible reasons.

“Boys, I just couldn’t help it,” Stahl supposedly said as he was dying. “It drove me to it.”

This happened in Indiana while with the team following Spring Training in 1907.

The first theory is he had impregnated a girl who was blackmailing him. Writer Al Stump wrote about this theory in 1959. Some felt Stump made this story up and Stump’s credibility has taken a hit in recent years as there were many inaccuracies found in his famous book about Ty Cobb.

The second theory is a simple one. Chick was depressed for much of his life and the stress of managing a team and a new marriage got to him.

The third theory is a very interesting one. Was Chick Stahl gay? Chick was known to be like most ballplayers in that era and have a girl in every city. Of course people who try to hide that they are gay tend to be very public about their encounters with people of the opposite sex. Were these ladies just “beards”? Maybe not. In 1902, a woman reportedly was carrying a gun in her jacket with the intentions of shooting Chick Stahl. Cops found out about her plan early enough that they stopped her. Was she mad at Chick because of all the other women or all the other men? Nobody knows. Of course she could have just been a psycho like Harriet Byrd in The Natural. Does anyone know why she felt the need to shoot the great Roy Hobbs? Was it because he didn’t like reading books or because he wanted to walk down the street and have people say “there goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was”? I vote she was just crazy. Back to Chick Stahl.

The gay theory does have more juice though. David Murphy, a close friend of Chick, killed himself two days after Chick’s suicide. Murphy left a note with directions that he wanted to be buried next to Chick. This sounds like more than just friends to me.

It is sad but fascinating story. The Red Sox outfielder/manager who homered in his last at-bat and then killed himself  for mysterious reasons. Check out Glenn Miller’s piece for even more details on the life of Chick Stahl.

Mitch

Life’s a Mitch

Connor Mitch announced he would be transferring. This didn’t shock anyone. That alone is shocking especially if you are reading this after a three year nap.

Connor Mitch was supposed to be special. He arrived in January of 2013 and was billed as the successor to Connor Shaw. He was one of the most prolific high school passers in the history of North Carolina.

He chose the Gamecocks over Alabama, LSU, Auburn and North Carolina. Steve Spurrier loved him and reportedly promised him he would be the coach for the duration of his college career if he came to South Carolina. He was Spurrier’s guy, the one who finally might bring him an SEC title with the Gamecocks. It didn’t happen.

The signs were there early. Dylan Thompson won the starting QB job in 2014. This wasn’t all that surprising. The surprising part was that Mitch wasn’t even establishing himself as the clear number two guy on the depth chart. Spurrier, who likes to change quarterbacks like underwear, never looked to get Mitch any meaningful snaps in 2014 even though fans clamored for it as the season went south.

Mitch would throw just six passes in 2014. Reports began to surface that Mitch was in Spurrier’s dog house from the day he stepped on campus. Mitch was rumored to be someone who liked to party more than he liked to watch game film. More Garcia than Shaw.

Connor Mitch won the starting job in 2015. Some said he cleaned up his act and became more of the QB that Spurrier needed him to be. Others say he never fully dedicated himself. His play was erratic and he eventually suffered injuries.

A new coach was supposed to mean new life for Connor Mitch. The new life looked like the old life though. Perry Orth, a former walk-on, and a guy who should still be in high school, Brandon McIlwain, jumped Mitch on the spring practice depth chart. When news broke that Jake Bentley would be arriving in the fall, Mitch’s career at South Carolina was basically over.

Did Spurrier miss on his evaluation of Mitch? Maybe but so did the other big time schools that were after him. Did the Gamecocks do an awful job of developing him? Maybe but if the reports are true about his lack of dedication then what program could have developed him better? Maybe he will figure it out at his next stop and become a very good college quarterback or maybe his dominance in high school was the product of a less than stellar North Carolina high school football system. We will find out soon enough. However, one thing is for sure, Connor Mitch is done at the University of South Carolina.

GamecockFans

Do Negative Gamecock Fans Hurt the Baseball Program?

I addressed this issue with Aaron Fitt when I interviewed him to preview the season. There is a faction of the Gamecock baseball fan base that has become entitled cry babies. You see them all over Facebook and and Twitter. They are relentless when it comes to tearing down the program.

It isn’t just social media either. These fans are also vocal at the games. Apparently, the loud minority has cost the Gamecock baseball team when it comes to recruiting.

A recruiting expert told Jay Philips that fan negativity cost the Gamecocks a top recruit. The recruit visited this season during an SEC series and was put off by fans heckling their own team. This is a team that has been in or near first place all season long yet it still was not good enough for these “fans”.

While 95% of Gamecock baseball fans keep things in perspective, the 5% of morons are being heard. These are the fans who say things like “Our program has gone down hill since Tanner left” or “Holbrook better get to Omaha or he should be fired”

Ray Tanner could do no wrong in the eyes of these “fans”. The three year run by the Gamecocks under Tanner is now an expectation among these “fans”. You try to reason with them but stupidity doesn’t reason and never will. The 95% of reasonable fans needs to become more vocal. They need to drown out the morons. There is strength in numbers. It is time to do our part before another top level recruit decides he doesn’t want to deal with the morons.

 

RoHowell

Rolando Howell Needs Our Help

Rolando Howell, who played in 102 games for the Gamecocks between 2000 and 2004, has been badly injured.

Howell suffered a fall during a seizure and broke his C5 vertebrae, leaving him paralyzed. He has begun intensive medical care for his spinal injury.

He will be attending Carolinas Medical Center Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation program in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The family has set up a Go Fund Me page for Rolando. To get more information about his condition and to donate please click here.

lattimoreInjury

James Andrews on Marcus Lattimore’s Injury: “The Worst I Have Ever Seen”

Marcus Lattimore‘s injury in 2012 looked as bad as it actually was. Lattimore revealed details of his injury in an interview with ESPN.

Marcus Lattimore felt no pain as he sat up on the turf of Williams-Brice Stadium. The damage was done though. His right knee was dislocated, the ligaments were torn and the nerves were damaged. Doctors worried that they might not be able to save his leg and gave him only a 20% chance of walking normally again. James Andrews told Lattimore it was the worst injury he had ever seen.

Despite the long odds, Lattimore spent two years in an NFL camp and while he would never play another down of football again he says he can walk normally and even run if he wants to.

Bogy

Is Xander Bogaerts the Best Hitter in Baseball?

Don’t look now but Xander Bogaerts has become a superstar shortstop. His three run homer yesterday was the difference in a Red Sox victory as David Ortiz got a well deserved day off.

Bogaerts is now leading the American League in hits with 53, his .338 is fourth best in batting average. Even more telling is that he leads every shortstop in batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. Does that make him the best hitter in all of baseball though? According to a catcher for the Oakland A’s it does. Here is a quote from David Ortiz that showed up in this ESPN article:

“The A’s catcher told me the other day that Bogaerts might be the best hitter in the game. He said that to me as I was walking to the plate. He got a two-strike base hit up the middle and he says that to me. When you hear things like that and think back to a guy who two years ago was trying to make it at the major league level. We are talking about guys in their 20s and not even in their mid-20s. The future is in good hands.”

The Red Sox are living in the best of both worlds. They are winning now while building for the future. The core of their team is talented and young. The farm system has more impressive talent on the way. The future looks great but the best part of the future might already be here and playing shortstop.

linescore39

The Greatest Red Sox/Yankees Game You Never Knew Existed

Have you ever heard of the Red Sox/Yankees game that went 15 innings, had a bench clearing brawl and even had an aging and sick Lou Gehrig hit a key three run homer? Probably not, and that is ok because it never actually happened except in the world of Out of the Park Baseball 17. OOTP 17 is the latest and greatest baseball simulation game on the market. We went back to 1939 and this classic game in Yankee Stadium unfolded. Here is the write up from the game:

You can follow other historical baseball simulations using Out of the Park Baseball 17 here.

 

Cronin Cracks Five Hits as Red Sox Fall to Yankees

It was a sensational day at the plate for Boston Red Sox shortstop Joe Cronin, but a tough one for the team, as the Red Sox dropped the contest 8-7 to the New York Yankees.

Even with the loss, Cronin was pure misery for the New York pitching staff. He left them shellshocked after going 5-for-7 in an explosive display of hitting.

“It’s always good to get a bunch of hits in a game, but you also want to win,” said Cronin, who is the five-time All-Star .

“Cronin really hit the ball hard and when you do that, you’ve got a pretty good chance to do some damage,” Yankees manager Joe McCarthy told BNN reporters after the game. “I feel like we threw him some pretty good pitches, but he just put some good swings on the ball.”

Joe Cronin singled in the 2nd, struck out in the 4th, hit a solo-shot off Bump Hadley in the 6th, singled in the 8th, singled in the 10th, flied out in the 12th and hit a two-run home run off Marius Russo in the 15th.

BOSTON BATTING LINESCORES NEW YORK BATTING LINESCORES
Player AB R H RBI BB K LOB AVG HR RBI
J. Tabor 3B 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 .235 1 1
B. Doerr 2B 7 0 1 0 0 2 0 .118 0 0
T. Williams LF 7 1 3 0 0 1 0 .353 1 2
J. Foxx 1B 5 3 1 0 2 1 3 .200 1 1
J. Cronin SS 7 3 5 3 0 1 2 .538 2 3
D. Cramer CF 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 .444 0 0
   a-R. Nonnenkamp PR, CF 2 0 0 1 1 0 3 .000 0 1
J. Vosmik RF 6 0 1 1 1 0 4 .385 0 4
G. Desautels C 7 0 1 1 0 0 4 .200 0 3
F. Ostermueller P 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 0 0
   b-J. Peacock PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0 0
   J. Heving P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0 0
   c-F. Gaffke PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0 0
   d-E. Auker P 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0 0
   J. Bagby P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0 0
Totals 56 7 13 6 4 6 17
a – R. Nonnenkamp pinch ran for D. Cramer in the 6th
b – J. Peacock pinch hit for F. Ostermueller in the 9th
c – F. Gaffke pinch hit for J. Heving in the 11th
d – E. Auker substituted for F. Gaffke in the 11thBATTING
Home Runs: J. Cronin 2 (2, 6th Inning off B. Hadley, 0 on, 2 outs; 15th Inning off M. Russo, 1 on, 1 out)
Total Bases: J. Cronin 11 , D. Cramer , T. Williams 3 , J. Vosmik , J. Foxx , B. Doerr , G. Desautels
2-out RBI: J. Cronin , J. Vosmik , G. Desautels
Runners left in scoring position, 2 outs: J. Cronin , G. Desautels
GIDP: J. Vosmik
Sac Fly: R. Nonnenkamp
Hit by Pitch: D. Cramer
Team LOB: 9

FIELDING
Errors: J. Cronin 2 (3) , J. Tabor (2)
Double Plays: 1 (Doerr-Cronin-Foxx)

Player AB R H RBI BB K LOB AVG HR RBI
C. Keller RF 5 0 2 0 0 0 2 .588 1 4
   c-F. Zielinski PR 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0 0
   d-J. Gallagher LF 3 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 0 0
R. Rolfe 3B 6 2 2 1 2 0 0 .294 0 3
J. DiMaggio CF 6 0 3 2 0 0 4 .462 0 4
J. Gordon 2B 8 0 2 2 0 0 10 .200 0 2
B. Dickey C 5 1 2 0 2 0 1 .167 0 1
G. Selkirk LF 3 1 1 0 0 1 2 .333 0 2
   O. Hildebrand P 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 0 0
   e-J. Saltzgaver PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 0 0
   M. Russo P 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0 0
   M. Pearson P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0 0
L. Gehrig 1B 4 1 1 3 0 1 2 .222 1 3
   f-B. Rosar PH, 1B 3 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 0 0
F. Crosetti SS 6 2 0 0 1 1 0 .125 0 1
B. Hadley P 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0 0
   a-B. Mills LF 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 .750 0 1
   b-T. Henrich PH, RF 3 1 1 0 1 0 0 .200 0 0
Totals 58 8 15 8 6 4 28
a – B. Mills substituted for B. Hadley in the 6th
b – T. Henrich pinch hit for B. Mills in the 8th
c – F. Zielinski pinch ran for C. Keller in the 8th
d – J. Gallagher substituted for F. Zielinski in the 9th
e – J. Saltzgaver pinch hit for O. Hildebrand in the 9th
f – B. Rosar pinch hit for L. Gehrig in the 10thBATTING
Doubles: J. Gordon (1, 15th Inning off J. Bagby, 2 on, 2 outs) G. Selkirk (1, 4th Inning off F. Ostermueller, 1 on, 0 outs) R. Rolfe (1, 4th Inning off F. Ostermueller, 1 on, 2 outs) T. Henrich (1, 15th Inning off E. Auker, 1 on, 0 outs)
Home Runs: L. Gehrig (1, 4th Inning off F. Ostermueller, 2 on, 0 outs)
Total Bases: J. Gordon 3 , L. Gehrig 4 , J. DiMaggio 3 , B. Dickey 2 , G. Selkirk 2 ,R. Rolfe 3 , C. Keller 2 , B. Mills , T. Henrich 2
2-out RBI: J. Gordon , J. DiMaggio , R. Rolfe
Runners left in scoring position, 2 outs: , J. Gordon 2 , J. DiMaggio , J. Saltzgaver , B. Rosar
GIDP: L. Gehrig
Sac Bunt: B. Hadley
Sac Fly: J. DiMaggio
Hit by Pitch: J. DiMaggio
Team LOB: 14

BASERUNNING
CS: F. Zielinski (1)

FIELDING
Double Plays: 1 (Crosetti-Gordon-Gehrig)

BOSTON PITCHING LINESCORES NEW YORK PITCHING LINESCORES
Player IP H R ER BB K HR PI PS ERA
F. Ostermueller 8.0 10 5 5 3 3 1 139 87 5.63
J. Heving 2.0 0 0 0 2 1 0 28 14 0.00
E. Auker L (0-1) 4.1 4 3 0 1 0 0 60 33 3.38
J. Bagby BS (1) 0.1 1 0 0 0 0 0 5 3 0.00
PITCHING
Game Score: F. Ostermueller 42
Batters Faced: F. Ostermueller 37, J. Heving 9, E. Auker 19, J. Bagby 2
Ground Outs – Fly Outs: F. Ostermueller 10-9, J. Heving 3-2, E. Auker 5-8, J. Bagby 0-1
Pitches – Strikes: F. Ostermueller 139-87, J. Heving 28-14, E. Auker 60-33, J. Bagby 5-3
Inherited Runners – Scored: J. Bagby 3-3
WP: J. Bagby
Hit Batsmen: F. Ostermueller
Player IP H R ER BB K HR PI PS ERA
B. Hadley 5.2 5 3 3 2 5 1 80 52 4.76
O. Hildebrand BS (1) 3.1 3 2 2 1 0 0 59 37 5.40
M. Russo 5.1 5 2 2 0 1 1 64 44 2.84
M. Pearson W (1-1) 0.2 0 0 0 1 0 0 6 2 12.71
PITCHING
Game Score: B. Hadley 50
Batters Faced: B. Hadley 24, O. Hildebrand 14, M. Russo 21, M. Pearson 3
Ground Outs – Fly Outs: B. Hadley 7-4, O. Hildebrand 4-6, M. Russo 6-9, M. Pearson 1-1
Pitches – Strikes: B. Hadley 80-52, O. Hildebrand 59-37, M. Russo 64-44, M. Pearson 6-2
Inherited Runners – Scored: O. Hildebrand 1-0
Hit Batsmen: B. Hadley
GAME NOTES
Player of the Game: Joe Cronin
Ballpark: Yankee Stadium
Weather: Clear skies (53 degrees), wind blowing out to left at 12 mph
Start Time: 2:05 pm EST
Time: 4:10
Attendance: 9262
Special Notes: Doc Cramer and Bump Hadley were ejected in the 6th inning for igniting a bench-clearing brawl.Joe Cronin sets the AL regular season extra-inning game record for hits with 5. Joe Gordon sets the AL regular season extra-inning game record for at bats with 8.