Wednesday, October 26, 2016


World Series Canadians

This article is copied from the archives of Michael Murray. Michael lives in Picton, Ontario, and winters in Cape Coral, Florida.  I am grateful to him for allowing me to reprint his work here.

Johnny Rutherford, who pitched in the Series for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1952, later earned a medical degree. Peter Carver and I interviewed him at his home north of Detroit.

Twenty different Canadians have played in the World Series since 1884. The modern World Series didn't start until 1903, but MLB did host World Championships prior to that. Of those twenty players 11 won the World Series. Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer George Selkirk has won the most Championships with 5 titles.

*Arthur Irwin Providence 1884

*James Tip O'Neill St. Louis Browns 1885, 86, 87, 88

Fred Lake Boston Beaneaters 1897

Bill O'Neill Chicago White Sox 1906

*Jimmy Archer Detroit 1907, Chicago Cubs 1910

*George Gibson Pittsburgh 1909

*Larry McLean NY Giants 1913

*Jack Graney Cleveland 1920

*George Selkirk NY Yankees 1936, 37, 38, 39, 41, 42

Johnny Rutherford Brooklyn 1952

*Ron Taylor St. Louis 1964, NY Mets 1969

*John Hiller Detroit 1968

*Reggie Cleveland Boston 1975

Rob Butler Toronto 1993

*Larry Walker St. Louis 2004

Jeff Francis Colorado 2007

Eric Gagne Boston 2007

*Matt Stairs Philadelphia 2008, 09

John Axford St. Louis 2013

Ryan Dempster Boston 2013

Bolded means won World Series that year

* means inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

Best World Series performances:
Tip O'Neill 1886 – G-6, R-4, H-8, T-2, HR-2, RBI-5, BB-4, SB-2, OBP .500, SLG .900, AVG .400
Larry McLean 1913 – G-5, H-6, RBI-2, OBP .500, SLG .500, AVG .500
George Selkirk 1936 – G-6, R-6, H-8, T-1, HR-2, RBI-3, BB-4, OBP .429, SLG .667. AVG .333
Ron Taylor 1964/1969 – G-4, ERA 0.00, SV-2, IP-7, H-0, SO-5
Larry Walker 2004 – G-4, R-2, H-5, D-2, HR-2, RBI-3, BB-2, OBP .438, SLG .929, AVG .357
Hall of Famers Jimmy Archer and Jack Graney (right) are the only two Canadians to play for the Cubs and Indians in the World Series.

Archer played 1st base and catcher in 3 of the 5 games in the 1910 World Series that Chicago lost to Philadelphia. Jimmy had 11 at-bats, 1 runs scored, 2 hits, 1 double and 4 strikeouts in the series.

Graney played in 3 of the 7 games in the 1920 World Series beating Brooklyn. Jack had 3 pinch hit at-bats with 2 strikeouts in the series and played in the outfield.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


The 2016 World Series

The most anticipated World Series in the history of the event opens tonight in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians played host to the National League champions, the Chicago Cubs from Illinois. It is the baseball championship that will be, especially for Americans, a wonderful distraction from another battle taking place in their country. There is a presidential election in a couple of weeks in the United States, and most Americans are weary from the frenzy leading up to election night. It has been a long, nasty, and arduous campaign for both the Democrats and the Republicans.

The Indians and the Cubbies have spent some time preparing for the event. The Cubs have not seen a World Series banner raised in their home ball park in 108 years. They left their Spring Training camp with more anticipation in that regard than ever before. It has only been 75 years for the Indians. Both teams are mighty hungry.

In April, I touched on the fact that we might see the Cubs in the Fall Classic. The management of the team had placed a very strong roster on the field, and had given themselves a chance at the title. Understandably, there are those unanticipated factors that can derail a team before they ever get to the final: injuries, suspensions, slumps, and countless other distractions that will add up to failure. Both the Indians and the Cubs have managed to survive the tests of time, up until the present.

A brief tale of the tape will shed a little light on what to expect over the next week of baseball. Bear with me.

Behind the plate, I like Willson Contreras from the Cubs. He is batting .400 in the post season, and handles pitchers well. Roberto Perez is doing a fine job behind the plate for the Tribe, but his .174 batting average is anemic. Both teams have outstanding pitching, from start to finish. And both teams need to send “Thank You” cards to the New York Yankees after the season is over. The Yankees traded away two pitchers during the season. Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman are the best relievers in baseball. Chapman consistently throws pitches to the plate clocking at over 100mph for the Cubs, and Miller is not too far behind.

Corey Kluber starts for the Indians, most effectively. Trevor Bauer hopes his finger will heal before the Series concludes. The Blue Jays caught a break when he could not get out of the first inning against them; however, Cleveland had enough in the tank to put the Jays away quite handily. John Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and Jake Arrieta are the starters for the Cubbies, and will likely make the difference in this Series.

The Cubs have so many wonderful young players. They are destined to remain contenders for many years: Anthony Rizzo is a quality first baseman; Alex Rodriguez flatly stated that second sacker Javier Baez is headed to the Hall of Fame; Addison Russell is only 22, but is a wonderful shortstop; Kris Bryant just completed a season worthy of MVP status; and the Cubs have advantages in the outfield as well.

                                                                   Eddie Robinson
Eddie Robinson is the last surviving member of the Indians team that won the World Series in 1945. He is now 95 years old, and still enjoys the game. He is waiting for the Tribe to call him, and invite him to the Series.

But Blue Jay fans took notice of the power and speed of the Indians recently, as the Jays limped to defeat winning only one game out of five. This will be a Series to remember, one not to miss. It will be chilly baseball weather. Let's hope the rains hold off.

And that is why it is dubbed, “The Fall Classic”. Enjoy.

James Hurst
October 25, 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016


Augusta James-Bath, Ontario

The Case for Augusta James Earning a Card


Augusta James
Photo Credit: ©2016 Scott A. Miller

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Hockey Nights in South West Florida

                                                       Everblades Coach Brad Ralph

The Florida Everblades opened their 2016-2017 season last weekend with a nice birthday present for new Head Coach Brad Ralph. Ralph celebrated his 36th birthday yesterday. The Blades defeated the Greenville Swamp Rabbits on Friday and Saturday night.

Friday night's game was a barn burner. Trailing 2-0 with less than three minutes remaining, Ralph pulled goalie Anthony Peters for an extra attacker. Zack Kamrass scored to cut the margin to one goal. Mike Aviani scored in the last minute to tie the game, and defenceman Matt McKenzie scored with 18 seconds remaining in the game to seal the deal. Pretty exciting stuff in front of more than 5 000 fans.

                                     Former Wellington Duke Anthony Peters

On Saturday night, the Blades completed the weekend sweep with a 5-3 victory that went a little easier on the coach. They scored the first three goals, but let the Rabbits back in the game, leading 3-2 at the end of the second period. Two Everblades' markers extended the lead, and that was enough for the victory.

The Blades now head out for their first road games this coming weekend against the Orlando Solar Bears at the Amway Arena. Naturally, in order to keep costs down, the Blades play most of their road games in their own general geographic area: Atlanta Gladiators, South Carolina Stingrays, Orlando Solar Bears, Cincinnati Cyclones, and Norfolk Admirals in the south. The Eastern Division opponents: Adirondack Thunder, Wheeling Nailers, Elmira Jackals, Reading Royals, Brampton Beast, and Manchester Monarchs.

In February, the Blades will travel to Brampton on a northern swing, and in March they will face Toledo and Fort Wayne from the Western Division. Other teams in the west include Utah, Colorado, Idaho, and Alaska! Some road trips!!

A quick check on, the most invaluable of all hockey sites, tells us that coach Ralph retired from active play in 2009. He began his junior career with Kanata in the CJHL, and moved on to play three years with the Oshawa Generals. He is a member of the “one game wonders”, those individuals who played one game in the NHL. He spent most of his career in the ECHL with his last stop in Charlotte.

Altshuller earned his first win on Saturday night. He also played in Oshawa, and enjoyed a cup of coffee with the Belleville Bulls. He is sharing goaltending duties with Anthony Peters, a goaltender who had a stint with the Wellington Dukes, and the Belleville Bulls.

The greatest challenge for any coach at the beginning of the season is to find the appropriate chemistry for his players. At this level, it is most difficult, as there is always movement up to the American Hockey League for some, a transition to European teams for others. Coaches strive to find the ideal fit for players on lines and on defence pairings. Just before Friday night's game, nine players arrived, looking for work.

It would be like fitting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, trying to find the perfect fit, without resorting to scissors.

Ralph enjoyed his playing years in the ECHL, then began his coaching career with the Augusta River Hawks of the SPHL. Last season he coached the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League.

As is the case with all hockey nuts, it was great to be back after the summer recess.

The Blades play in Orlando Saturday night, then return to the Germain Arena to face South Carolina on Friday, October 28th. See you there!!

James Hurst
October 18, 2016


Tim Hortons Hockey Cards 2016-2017

Once again this year, collectors have been given the opportunity to put together a set of hockey cards, while sipping their coffee.

There are 100 cards in the Tim Hortons collection, beginning with # 1 Tim Horton. These cards came out as the World Cup of Hockey was getting underway in Canada. Naturally, one of the key cards in the set is that of Sidney Crosby. He is the marquee player in the set. His image is on the front of each and every pack.

He certainly has re-established himself as the best player in the game today, following his Stanley Cup victory last spring, and his fine play in the World Cup. Unfortunately, he is prone to concussions, and the Penguins announced today that he has suffered yet another concussion.

If you happen to like insert cards, there is a heap of them in this set: local leaders checklist cards, game day action, pure gold, clear cut platinum, franchise force, 2016 NHL Draft, Tim Hortons cash prize cards, autographed cards, jersey cards, etc.

Sharing the spotlight with Crosby is Nathan MacKinnon. One of the commercials promoting the cards has the pair of them seated in a restaurant. Crosby holds up a MacKinnon card to trade, and MacKinnon says, “You're going to trade your best player?” It really breaks Crosby up. He is speechless. Quite well done.

There are pin codes inside each pack. Collectors are encouraged to enter the codes to collect the set on line. If a card pops up that you already have in your collection, you can trade it with another collector. You are encouraged to thank the person who supplies you with the card you needed.

Every 24 hours, you are also rewarded with three free cards without purchasing any product. Even though I was not sure about this concept when I first began, I did enjoy the activity. Mind you, I have only collected about half of the cards. I am uncertain as to the length of the activity. I could use another month of free cards.

The cards are manufactured by Upper Deck, and are spectacular. They contain the statistics for the players for the past five seasons. Card # 16 is Max Domi's card. Last year was his rookie season, and the card tells us he had 18 goals and 34 assists. He was in the running as the rookie of the year, but was overshadowed by the remarkable Black Hawk rookie Artemi Panarin.

St. Louis Blues' rookie Robby Fabbri also had 18 goals last season, and 37 points. The Blues are expecting big things from him this season. This could be a banner year for the Oilers' Connor McDavid. He will be playing in a new barn, with an exciting young team.

If you are interested in obtaining a set of these cards, get in touch with me in early December. They become readily available following the big card show in Toronto.

James Hurst

Monday, October 03, 2016



Bird migration has become a topic of some discussion in these parts lately. Apparently, the Orioles are not quite ready to head south, and are planning to hang around the Metropolitan Toronto area for the next couple of days. The Blue Jays have consented to stay around, and join them for a friendly game. It is a wild card game, and it was a wild ride just getting there!!

I am going to focus on two players who might make the difference in the game. Mind you, when you read this, one of those two teams is heading somewhere to play again. The other team is heading to the golf course.

Roberto Osuna gets to pitch for the Blue Jays near the end of the game. He is know as a "closer". It is his responsibility to shut down the offence of the opposition to preserve wins. Closers usually throw very fast, and have a couple of other exceptional pitches. They throw heat, and have nasty out pitches. Osuna has pitched brilliantly most of the season. He falters occasionally, and that is never a good thing. You could compare him to a goaltender in the last five minutes of a hockey game. If he is sharp, you win. If he starts to fight the puck, dire consequences. Both the goalies and the closers are the last line of defence.

Mind you, there are eight other players on the field to help the closer. In their last game of the season, both Donaldson and Tulowitzki made brilliant plays to preserve the Jays' victory. A bobble on either one of those ground balls, an errant throw, and the season would have been in jeopardy.

Ultimately, it is up to the closer to shut the door. He is given the ball to pitch with a lead, and he must preserve that lead. For many years, the best at it was Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees. Opponents were never happy to see him strolling from the bullpen to lock down the game. He did it with guile, not speed, and he did it successfully.

The Baltimore Orioles rely on Zach Britton, with good reason. He has been called upon many times this season to preserve wins for his team. Not once has he faltered. He relies on a "power sinker" to take care of the opposition. He has been perfect this season, and may be in line to receive the Cy

Young Award as the best pitcher in the American League. Rarely is it doled out to a reliever; in this case, it might be justified. This is by far his best season as well. He had pitched in 183 games up to the beginning of this season, and had an ERA of 3.70. Not too shabby. But his ERA this year is under one, something like 0.99., meaning that teams have averaged less than one run over nine innings when he pitches.

Naturally, the trick for the Blue Jays is to avoid Britton. If they have a large lead heading into the latter stages of the game, that helps.

In a recent game, Osuna prepared to face a Red Sox batter, with a runner on third base. All of a sudden, the umpire jumped out from behind home plate and gestured to the base runner to head home. There was a large collective gasp in Beantown. Osuna had balked! The score was tied. The Jays were on the ropes. Fortunately, they recovered sufficiently to earn the berth in the Wild card game.

There is a variety of illegal motions that a pitcher can do to necessitate a balk call. There are 15 different scenarios in this regard. Most have to do with trying to fake out a base runner. It is called quite rarely, and is always controversial. Osuna's balk was obvious. He made motions to pitch, then seemed to change his mind.

Steve Carlton hold the record for the most balks in a career-90. While pitching for Oakland in 1988, Dave Stewart had 16 balks, the most in a regular season. Bob Shaw had five in one game, at a time when umpires were trying to decide on the definition of a balk. The most famous balk took place in an All Star Game in 1961.

The winds were swirling in Candlestick Park. They were so strong that they caused pitcher Stu Miller to sway erratically, resulting in the balk call.

By the time you read this, the Jays' fate for 2016 will be sealed. Hopefully, not by a silly balk.

James Hurst October 3, 2916 

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