How a pitcher can get a hold and a loss

By Nick Veronica

Cardinals relief pitcher Matt Bowman earned a unique, if unfortunate, stat line this week, picking up both a hold and the loss in a game against the Diamondbacks.

That was initially confusing – how can you a earn a hold for protecting the lead and still be charged with a loss?

Turns out it’s not that unheard of, but it can only happen in one way. And it’s always the next guy’s fault.

Here’s how this statistical phenomenon happens, in five tweets:





So there you have it. Blame the next guy.


Ex-UB pitcher Geltz earns first major league win

By Nick Veronica



Former UB pitcher Steve Geltz earned his first major league win Tuesday for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Geltz entered a 2-2 game with two outs in the bottom of the sixth before retiring Toronto’s top four hitters — Jose Reyes, Dalton Pompey, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion — over the next 1 1/3 innings.

Tampa took the lead in the top of the eighth inning on Desmond Jennings’s sacrifice fly, which made Geltz the pitcher of record. Grant Balfour came in for the hold and Kevin Jepsen nailed down the save, giving Geltz his first win in 17 career games, dating back to 2012.

Geltz evened his career record at 1-1 after picking up a loss last September.

A graduate of Wilson High School, Geltz played three years at UB until 2008, when he signed with the Angels organization. He still holds a share of UB’s career record for saves (16).

Geltz made his big league debut with the Angels in 2012, was traded to Tampa in 2013, got suspended in 2014, and made the Rays’ Opening Day roster this year. Through 5.2 innings so far, Geltz has an ERA of 1.59 and a WHIP of 0.71.

Mills’ halfcourt buzzer-beater ranks among top finishes

The team piled on Mills after the shot went in.

The team piled on Mills after the shot went in.

Two thousand school children roared for Tiahana Mills as she ran down the court as fast as the legs on her 5-foot-5 frame would take her. The freshman dribbled four times as the clock ticked from three seconds down two and then one.

Mills took one last stride and launched a half-court shot fractions of a second before the buzzer sounded and was pummeled by her teammates after the ball banked off the glass and went in, giving the Canisius women’s basketball team a 65-62 win over Siena Friday in another wacky and wildly exciting Kid’s Day at the Koessler Athletic Center.

Kid’s Day games are always something special, and Mills’ buzzer-beater ranks Friday afternoon’s game as the best finish I’ve seen in my four years at Canisius.

Mills said her high school teammates used to put up half-court shots after practice and she once made one before halftime of an AAU game, but this was her first true buzzer-beater.

“Its amazing. When the team fell on me at half court, I never had that before,” Mills said.

Here’s a look back at the Top 5 best finishes I’ve seen in four years at Canisius:

2. Hockey 3, RIT 1, Oct. 20, 2011

Continue reading

Sandusky is pinnacle of generation shaped by scandal

I never understood what people meant when they said “it’s a different world.” Different from what? When I was growing up, all that meant was my mom never let us buy anything from the ice cream man.

Slowly but surely, I started to get it. I was 10 years old in August 2002, when Major League Baseball was hours away from canceling the remainder of the season. A strike? I thought that was when you threw a pitch over the plate. I didn’t know you could go on one.

The players and owners reached a last-minute agreement to save the season — and my elementary school faith in the world.

I was a little bit wiser by September 2004, when the NHL announced the cancellation of the entire season because of the lockout. I still didn’t know anything about labor unions or collective bargaining, but my middle school brain was able to understand that there was some type of problem that both sides needed to work on.

I remember December 2007 like it was yesterday. I darted out of ninth-period math class and missed my shot at asking a pretty girl to the winter dance because I was in a hurry to get home and read the Mitchell Report — 409 pages of never-before-seen information about illegal use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, the result of a commission led by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

I obviously didn’t read the entire thing that afternoon, but I remember it being the first time I seriously thought ESPN was lying to me. I couldn’t believe how many “good guys” were connected with the stuff. In total, seven former MVPs and 31 former All-Stars (covering all nine positions) were named in the report.

I sat at my computer and kept hitting the refresh button. I wanted the page to change, but every time it gave me the same grave report. Roger Clemens’ MLB-record seven Cy Young Awards? Reported to be helped by steroids. Eric Gagne’s consecutive saves record? Tainted. Barry Bonds’ and Rafael Palmeiro’s record-breaking home run totals? Those were in question even before the report, but this really did them in.

Living through the Steroid Era changed the way sports fans view the world. We question every accomplishment and second-guess every athlete. If someone has a breakout season, my first thought is “What’s he on?” The Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista had never hit more than 16 home runs in a season over the first six years of his career, then exploded for 97 over the last two seasons. I want him to be a cool story about a hard-working guy, but “naive” isn’t even beginning to describe someone who isn’t at least considering PEDs.

College athletics were the last haven in all of sports — and then those crumbled too. USC and Ohio State headlined an extensive group of programs with major violations that went all the way to the top of the institutions. Not trusting professionals was one thing — it’s all money, money, money with them — but college kids weren’t supposed to be that way.

We’re drawn to good stories in sports and we flock to athletes who manage to retain their innocence. People have mixed feelings about Duke but everyone respects Coach K. and what he’s done for that program. Tebow Mania swept the nation as he ran through SEC defenses while staying humble and devoted.

Joe Paterno’s Penn State football program was the last of a dying breed. It had character. It had respect. The Nittany Lions’ no-nonsense uniforms were a reflection of the discipline that was the backbone of the program.

And now it’s dead.

A new story comes out about Jerry Sandusky every day, about the children he abused and the adults who didn’t do enough to stop it. It’s not going to get any better. I won’t understand any recruits who still choose to attend PSU in the fall — recruits can be released from their NLI’s if the coach is fired — and I won’t understand any current players who stay with the program instead of transferring.

I tried to read the Grand Jury report on Sandusky, but I just couldn’t do it. It makes me sick. I got to page 2 before reading that he performed and received oral sex from an 11-year-old and had to stop.

Penn State finally hired a PR firm that specializes in dealing with dire situations, but it’s a little too late for that. That should have been the first thing the school did. I’ve already talked to students in public relations classes who are doing projects on how not to handle a situation: the Penn State story. The school just needs to start over; clean house and rebuild from the top.

Joe Paterno had coached Penn State since 1966, being a beacon of character and honesty through the murk of big-time college athletics. And in a matter of days, his school and his reputation crashed and burned amid a scandal that keeps getting worse. The last program we thought we could trust went up in smoke — and we won’t be trusting anyone again any time soon.

Mr. 3,000

Derek Jeter stands just two hits away from reaching a batting landmark that others can only dream of. But for him, does it really matter? Michael Heiman/Getty Images

Three hundred wins. Five hundred home runs. Three thousand hits. All of these statistical milestones are said to be the benchmarks for no-doubt status as a Major League Baseball Hall of Famer.

Every eligible member of the 300-win club is in the Hall of Fame. The only three eligible members of the 500-home run club not enshrined — Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro — have steroid allegations, and the only players with 3,000 hits not in Cooperstown are Craig Biggio (hasn’t been retired long enough), Palmeiro (steroids) and some guy named Pete Rose (who I’d put in the HOF, but that’s another story for another time).

As Derek Jeter approaches the 3,000-hit plateau, his Hall of Fame status is imminent. A contract extension this summer would make him the face of the world’s most successful franchise for a nearly 20-year period. Love him or hate him, Jeter will go down as one of the most successful athletes in history, in terms on-field production, championships, and I guess what Rod Tidwell called “the quan”: “Love, respect, community… and the dollars too. The entire package.” Derek Jeter is Mr. New York Yankee, and soon enough he may be Mr. First Ballot Hall of Famer.

Jeter is in a tier with immortals of our sporting culture: the Larry Birds, the Mario Lemieuxs, the John Elways. When I think of these players, the next word to come to mind is “greatness.” It’s a greatness that goes beyond statistics, though they have the numbers to back it up, anyway.

AP Photo/Frank Franklin

Maybe it’s the quan, or perhaps even the eye-test, but these players also have the respect that goes with being great. Just as Bird certainly isn’t Michael Jordan, Jeter is not Babe Ruth, yet their names are idealized as if they were the greatest to ever play the game. Is Barry Bonds the best hitter ever to walk the Earth? You could argue that. But is he the greatest to ever play? Few people would support you there, largely because he also happens to be one of the biggest jerks ever to put on a uniform. Greatness cannot be achieved without respect, and it’s a trait Jeter has by the boatload. It also happens to be just as important as stats when looking back on a player.

An awful big deal is being made about Jeter’s quest for hit No. 3,000. It’s a marketing opportunity for the Yankees, but as a student of baseball (and even as a guy with Jeter’s face on my bedroom wall), I’m really not sure it matters. Currently sitting on 2,998, he’ll have one more hit than before when he gets 2,999, and one more than that when he reaches 3,000.

This is Derek Jeter we’re talking about. He’s not a borderline guy like Mike Mussina, whose HOF stock would’ve drastically improved had he reached a major milestone like 300 wins. Even if he gets in an accident on the way to Yankee Stadium this weekend and can never play again, Derek Jeter is a first-ballot Hall of Famer who goes down as one of the best to ever play the game.

Even those who knock Jeter’s defense can’t argue against how great his offense was and is, especially in a position that was not known for hitting. Jeter’s offensive wins above replacement is the third-best ever among shortstops, only behind Alex Rodriguez, who switched to third base so Jeter could play shortstop, and Honus Wagner, whose rookie season was 1897. In terms of regular WAR, even with his weaker defensive abilities in a normally defensive position, he is still 55th all-time, and every player ahead of him a Hall of Famer, save Pete Rose (banned), Bill Dahlen (rookie season 1891), Barry Bonds (steroids), and the players who haven’t been retired long enough yet to qualify.

In the movie Mr. 3000, Stan Ross comes out of retirement to collect the last three hits in his 3,000 that were taken from him when a counting mistake was uncovered after he went of the Hall of Fame ballot.

The sportswriters didn’t vote him into the HOF probably because he was a jerk, and without 3,000 hits they could point to that as a reason for rejection. He needed the last three base knocks to potentially elevate his Cooperstown status, as well as secure the chain of “Mr. 3000” stores he owned in Milwaukee.

Derek Jeter doesn’t need any of that. All he has left to do is pick out a head shot for his plaque in Cooperstown, and,this may just be a hunch, but I don’t think he’ll have to worry about money after retirement. Unlike Stan Ross, Jeter is married, and has his life together. The spotlight has never been too big for him and he has always handled the media very well.

Another milestone for Jeter is like buying a Christmas present for someone like him: what do you get a man who has everything? Three thousand hits is nice, but not only does it not matter to Jeter, it doesn’t mean that much to anyone else in his position who achieves the feat. Anyone who gets that far already has a slew of achievements, and the 3,000-hit club is the least exclusive of three major milestones.

There was hardly as much fuss about 3,000 hits when Craig Biggio became the club’s 27th member; most of the hype is because the player is the captain of the Yankees, not because it matters that much.

Twenty-five players have hit 500 home runs and 24 players have won 300 games. When Jeter becomes the 28th player with 3,000 hits, you might say 28 isn’t that far from 25 and 24, but it is when you take into account the differences in today’s game. Baseball may never have another 300-game winner. CC Sabathia currently has the best shot, but he is just over halfway there. It looks as if a few players could surpass 500 home runs, but with steroids finally on the way out, long ball totals will taper off, as we are already seeing this season.

However, 3,000 hits is a milestone that will be passed again. A-Rod, for example, will be in the chase towards the end of next season. Will anyone care?

If a lesser player (say, Johnny Damon) ever achieves the milestone, he may need to have “3,000 hit club” flashed next to his name on ESPN to give him credibility when they’re discussing his name for HOF potential. For players like Jeter and A-Rod? ESPN will have a hard time fitting that one in.