Ask any ball player and they’ll tell you the respect of their peers is more important to them than anything generated by baseball fans, reporters or analysts. In terms of respect, the Intentional Bases on Balls statistic is as good a measure of respect as any in the game. Say what you will about Barry Bonds, but for four straight years he was the most feared hitter in baseball. Period. Barry holds not only the Single Season record for Intentional Bases on Balls with 120 in 2004, but he also owns the top three slots in the IBB category: (68 in 2002 and 61 in 2003). Willie McCovey is fourth (45 in 1969) In addition, Bonds also holds the career record for IBBs with 688 and Hank Aaron is a distant second with 293.*
Bonds may never get into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but when it counted on the field he was the most respected hitter of all time.
*IBB was first tracked as a statistic in 1955.
The San Francisco Giants brought their three World Series trophies to New York in January and both Willie Mays and Joe Panik were on hand. It’s worth noting both these Giants made plays that were absolute game changers in the World Series. Willie’s iconic play, forever known as “The Catch,” in the 1954 World Series helped the Giants win Game 1 and sweep the Cleveland Indians in the ’54 World Series. And 60 years later, Panik’s amazing double play (“The Flip”) saved the Giants in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series against the Kansas City Royals. The Say Hey Kid and The Rook: Two World Series heroes, 60 years apart, sharing the stage, and baseball stories in New York. You gotta love this game!
There were plenty of pivotal plays and memorable performances in the 2014 World Series. Great catches, clutch hits and dominating pitching by both teams. But perhaps the real turning point of the 110th World Series between the Royals and Giants was a called strike three by HP Umpire Ted Barrett in Game 4. It occurred in the top of the 3rd inning. At the time, the Royals were up two games to one in the Series and led 4-1. Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong ran into trouble in the 3rd inning with a combination of Giants’ misplays, infield hits and bad luck. The Giants were staring into the abyss when Jean Matchi came on to relieve him with two outs and two on. He walked the first batter Jarrod Dyson to load the bases. Royals’ pitcher Jason Vargas was up next and worked the count to 2-2. The next pitch was called a ball. Vargas thinking it was ball four mistakenly took off to first base. Ooops.
So with the count 3-2, bases-loaded Matchi needed to throw a strike. A walk and the Royals would be up 5-1 with the top of the order coming up and who knows how the inning might have ended. The next pitch was inside and looked like ball four when Ted Barrett called it strike three! Whew…
A few things happened after that. The Giants got a run back in the bottom of the 3rd to make it 4-2. Yusmeiro Petit came in to throw three shut out innings and keep it close for the Giants to comeback. And the Royals never scored another run in San Francisco.
Consider this: If the Royals had won Game 4 they would’ve had a commanding 3-1 lead in the Series. And even with Madison Bumgarner’s shutout in Game 5, the Giants would’ve gone back to KC down 3-2. It all could have ended in Game 6 with the Royals 10-0 rout. Instead there was a Game 7 and Madison Bumgarner became a pitching legend. So thank you Ted Barrett! ;-)