My two favorite things are math and baseball

On this day in 1928, one Edward Charles Ford was born in New York City. You know him better as Whitey, and he passed away two weeks ago just shy of his 92nd birthday. (Read here for more.)

When I was a kid, Whitey Ford had the highest winning percentage of any pitcher in the history of the game. Well, sort of. There were two qualifications to the list: 1.) must have played after 1900; and 2.) must have at least 200 decisions. That second one is the “Spud Chandler Rule,” named for the one-time Yankee ace who finished his career with a .717 winning percentage, but pitched more than a dozen games in only seven big-league seasons. Ford’s career “winning percentage” (I always enjoy pointing out to my students that these are never expressed as percentages) is .690, which I always thought was kind of cool because that number is also Babe Ruth’s career slugging percentage.

Also a record.

Also not a percentage.

But much safer as records go.

Enter one Clayton Edward Kershaw. (You may have seen him on the mound last night.) “Kersh” just finished his 13th major league season, and his career winning percentage is .697. He is, in fact, the game’s all-time leader in winning percentage, even considering the 200-decision rule. Kershaw’s lifetime record is 175-76, a few wins shy of Whitey but a better percentage nonetheless.

There’s just one thing…

With a few notable exceptions (they’re notable because they’re infrequent), everyone tails off at the end of his career. Even Whitey Ford. Had Ford stopped pitching in 1964, not 1967, his lifetime record would have been 206-84. That’s .710. He was a sub-.500 pitcher his final three seasons.

Pedro Martinez actually had old Slick beat when he retired in 2005. Except he didn’t retire in 2005 with a career winning percentage of .701. He threw four more years (at more than $10 million a year), tacking 22 wins and 16 losses on his career record. Not bad for your average pitcher, but .579 doesn’t get you in the record books. His final tally was .687.

Let us begin the “Kershaw watch.”

Say Clay pitches a few more years and matches Whitey’s win total of 236. He’ll have to do it with 30 losses or fewer. Sixty-one and twenty-nine is .678. That’s good for an aging pitcher, and I’d hardly call Kid K aging yet.


But without a World Series ring, nobody gonna care anyway.

Still good in the end

Coronavirus cheated us out of more than 100 games of regular season action for each team this MLB season.

Postseason? I do not feel cheated.

Two seven-game series that end with–I think–the best teams in baseball going to the World Series. Yup, even in shortened seasons the best teams really do rise to the top.

And with the Rays and Dodgers facing off we are guaranteed either the city of Los Angeles or the city of Tampa Bay will come away with the unprecedented (and hopefully never duplicated) “double” of two major sports championships in a month’s time.


It’s been a weird year, but yeah, this is going to be good.

Whitey Ford, 1928-2020

Among the most famous persons ever to spend time in my hometown of Binghamton, New York, was one Edward Charles Ford, who spent the summer of 1949 hurling for the Binghamton Triplets baseball club.

The Triplets were the Single-A farm team of the New York Yankees, and you know the pitcher better as “Whitey.”

Whitey Ford died last week, 13 days shy of his 92nd birthday.

It’s hard to know exactly where to begin listing accolades when describing Whitey Ford. Ten-time All-Star, six-time World Series champion, Cy Young Award winner, World Series MVP, Hall of Famer…

How about winningest pitcher in the history of the New York Yankees?

Yeah, that’s a pretty good tag.

I’d love to say it all started in Binghamton, but actually it started in New York City, where young Edward was born in 1928. He grew up a few miles from Yankee Stadium, where folks like Ruth and Gehrig were cementing the game’s place as our national pastime. Ford was signed by his hometown club in 1947, playing in the minors before bursting on the big league scene in 1950. By then he was known as “Whitey” for his light-blond hair, and after the 1950 World Series everyone knew the kid from Astoria, Queens. But he was already a legend in Binghamton, where he’d led the Triplets of 1949 to the Eastern League title after joining the team mid-season. Ford made 19 starts and won 16 games. His 1.61 ERA (some books call it 1.64) was the lowest in all of organized baseball that year. A young sportswriter for The Sun-Bulletin was also in his first season with the club that and got to document it all, years later telling the stories to his grandson.

Yup… this guy. Thanks, Grandpa.

Though he’d done a little coaching and a little broadcasting in his post-pitching days Whitey Ford mostly played the role of “baseball ambassador,” and he wore the title well. He made a few trips back to Binghamton in his post-playing days too, usually at the urging of longtime friend Billy Martin. (Billy met a girl from here, of course, and lived his final years just north of town.) Ford was also enshrined in Binghamton’s Baseball Hall of Fame, which might not be as big a deal as its counterpart in Cooperstown, but then again, with fewer members, technically it’s more exclusive than the one 90 minutes up the road.

Here’s to Whitey Ford, consummate pro and gentleman of baseball.

Even made Binghamton look good.

Say what, MLB?

This is not how I expected the MLB Playoffs to go. I’m pretty sure the wrong two teams are winning, no? To say nothing of the fact that they’re doing it so quickly… MLB needs to sell more ads, guys!

And seriously, if it’s Tampa Bay and Atlanta playing in the World Series? What kind of World Silliness is that? The Tampa Bay double (Lightning/Rays) would be somewhat noteworthy, but hardly worth tuning in for. Just way too many other good shows on TV these days.

L.A. Story

Now that’s how I expected the NBA Finals to go… none of that Miami-wins-a-game-somehow silliness. (Gotta put one more game on TV, right, L.A.?)

For better or worse, yesterday, I also witnessed the expected result when my local professional football team (that would be the “Washington football team”) came up woefully short against their counterparts from the aforementioned Los Angeles.

Tonight I fully expect to see L.A.’s contribution to the baseball world, the Dodgers (nee Trolley Dodgers of Brooklyn), give a Tinseltown-worthy performance in Game One of the NLCS.

Yeah, things are pretty much right with the world now.

Sort of.

Center stage

Thank goodness for the New York Yankees, eh? TV executives gotta hand it to the Bronx Bombers, forcing a Game Five tonight and giving baseball fans a product to see on TV.

You’re welcome, America.

TV execs drooling over this one

Despite last night’s setback against the Tampa Bay Rays, I still believe the team of my youth, the New York Yankees, will make it to this year’s World Series for the first time in more than a decade. I imagine they’ll join the shoo-in choice, the Dodgers of Los Angeles, formerly of a little borough known as Brooklyn.

TV executives are drooling over this one.

A Yankees-Dodgers World Series? New York versus L.A.? An L.A. that will (likely) be competing for its second sports championship in less than a month? (I’m calling the Lakers-Heat series right now.)

More than it ever has been the 2020 MLB season is all about TV revenue and advertising. This one will bring in big bucks, no question. “Rake in the money” is step number two for those aforementioned TV and marketing executives.

Step number one is making sure Tampa Bay doesn’t take this series. A Lightning-Rays hockey-baseball double, though interesting, just wouldn’t have the same cache.

How close are we to the Wild Card?

Until about 11:00 last night I had today’s post written: Still in first place with 1-3 record.

Well, it’s still pretty funny that a team with one win is on top of a division a quarter of the way through the season. Thank God for ties, eh, Eagles fans? And thank God my hometown team plays in that pathetic division now known as the NFC Least.

How bad would it have to be before they just straight-up denied a division winner a playoff spot?

Is this the most wonderful time of the year?

I’m still recovering from Wednesday night’s game between the team of my youth, the New York Yankees, and the team of bad politics, the Cleveland Indians. Karma or not, the Yanks won 10-9 in what turned out to be the longest nine-inning baseball game of all time. Even with the reasonable start time of 7 p.m. (though delayed by rain) it ended about 1:15.

And October is just beginning.

No debate here

My newsfeed this morning tells me there was some kind of public debate last night?


Couldn’t hear it over MLB playoffs, the prospect of the NBA Finals, and Season Four of Fargo.

So many better things in the world to do than debate politics.