Sunday, November 23, 2014

This Week in Pittsburgh Pirates History - November 23-29

This week in Pittsburgh Pirates history -

1972 Topps Bill Virdon
November 23

1971      Bill Virdon is named to take over for the retiring Danny Murtaugh as the manager of the world champion Pirates. Murtaugh, however will return to the Pittsburgh dugout during the 1973 season to replace his replacement.

November 24

1967      Al Martin, Pirates outfielder, was born.

2008      As a result of being among the top finishers in an Indian reality TV show called the “Million Dollar Arm”, which drew approximately 30,000 contestants, Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel sign free-agent deals to pitch for the Pirates. The two 20-year-old cricket players, who never had thrown a baseball until earlier this year, are the first two players from India to sign a contracts with a major league organization.

2010      After designating him for assignment last week, the Pirates trade left-hander Zach Duke to the Diamondbacks for a player to be named later who will be right-hander Cesar Valdez. The 27-year old southpaw, who burst onto the scene with an 8-2 record along with a 1.81 ERA, has compiled a 37-68 record since his impressive debut with the Bucs in 2005.
1987 Topps Doug Drabek

November 26

1986      The Yankees trade prospects including Doug Drabek to the Pirates for veterans Rick Rhoden, Cecilio Guante and Pat Clements. Drabek will win the Cy Young Award after posting a 22-6 record for the Bucs in 1990.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

This Week in Pittsburgh Pirates History - November 16-22

This week in Pittsburgh Pirates history -

1966 East Hills Roberto Clemente
November 16

1966      Edging out Dodger hurler Sandy Koufax (27-9, 1.73, 317 strikeouts), Roberto Clemente is named the National League MVP. The Pirates right fielder hit .317 with 29 home runs and drove in 119 runs.

November 17

1960      After leading the the league with a .325 average, 30-year old Pirates shortstop Dick Groat is selected as the National League's Most Valuable Player, with Don Hoak, his partner on the left side of the Bucs' infield, being the runner-up to the award. Another teammate, right-fielder Roberto Clemente, is very disappointed being named eighth on the ballot.

2000      Pittsburgh catcher Jason Kendall signs the richest deal in Pirates' history. The $60 million, six-year contract extension, which includes a $4 million signing bonus, starts with a base salary of $6 million in 2002 and peaks at $13 million in 2007.

1887 Jake Beckley Old Judge
November 18

1886      The Pittsburgh Alleghenys leave the American Association to join the National League. After a few name changes, including the Innocents, the team will become known as the Pirates in 1891.

November 19

1962      The Cardinals trade pitcher Don Cardwell and infielder Julio Gotay to the Pirates for shortstop Dick Groat and pitcher Diomedes Olivio. The Redbirds' new infielder will become a central cog in the team's World championship in 1964.

1990      Being named first on 23 of 24 ballots cast by the writers with the other first-place vote being garnered by teammate Bobby Bonilla, Pirates' outfielder Barry Bonds (.301, 23, 114) easily wins the National League Most Valuable Player Award. The future all-time home run king will win an unprecedented seven MVPs, five while playing with the Giants.

2001      In a landslide vote (30 of 32 first-place votes) by the BBWAA, Giants' left fielder Barry Bonds (.328, 137, 73) wins the Most Valuable Player Award for an unprecedented fourth time (1990, 92-93 with the Pirates). Three-time MVPs include Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Joe DiMaggio, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial and Mike Schmidt.

November 20

1985      Jim Leyland, who will become a mainstay in the Bucs' dugout for 11 seasons, replaces Chuck Tanner as the manager of the Pirates. Pittsburgh finished in last place this season, compiling a woeful record of 57-104.

November 21

1991      After raising his batting average over 80 points from last season, Terry Pendleton (.319, 22, 86) wins the National League's Most Valuable Player Award. The Braves' third baseman surprisingly out-distances runner-up Pirate outfielder Barry Bonds (.292, 25, 116).

1936 Jim Weaver with the Waner brothers
November 22

1934      The Cubs trade Guy Bush, Jim Weaver, and Babe Herman to the Pirates for Larry French and Fred Lindstrom.

1954      The Pirates purchase the contract of Roberto Clemente from Montreal, the Dodgers’ AAA farm club.

1977      The Yankees sign free-agent Rich 'Goose' Gossage to a six-year 2.75 million dollar contract. The future Hall of Famer closer had 26 saves and a 1.26 ERA for the Pirates last season.

1977      Terry Forster, the American League saves leader in 1974 with the White Sox, signs a big contract with the Dodgers becoming the team's first free agent. Last season, the southpaw compiled a 6-4 record with a 4.43 ERA pitching for the Pirates and will post an 11-13 record during his 5 years in Los Angeles.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Navy Outruns Georgia Southern on Senior Day

Navy QB Keenan Reynolds
Navy junior quarterback Keenan Reynolds showed why he's one of the most prolific rushing quarterbacks in NCAA history as he rushed for 277 yards and six touchdowns against Georgia Southern.

His six TDs give him 58 rushing touchdowns for his career which is 9th all-time in NCAA history. They also led Navy to a 52-19 win over the Eagles on a day that the Midshipmen recognized 26 seniors that would be playing their final game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Navy needed every one of his rushing yards to match the nations' top rushing football team. Georgia Southern came into the game averaging 386.5 yards rushing per game, 36 more per game than the Mids.

Georgia Southern took the opening kickoff and pounded out a 13-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a two yard touchdown run by L.A. Ramsby.

Navy countered with a 10-play, 62-yard drive of their own that was capped off by Keenan Reynolds' first of his six rushing touchdowns in the game.

For fans of smash-mouth football, this game seemed like an early Christmas present.

The prolific Georgia Southern rushing attack was stymied by Navy's swarming defense and the Eagles wouldn't get back on the scoreboard until just 1:27 remained in the third quarter. Navy defensive coordinator, Buddy Green's troops forced three turnovers in the game and the Navy offense capitalized on each one scoring 17 points off those miscues.

Meanwhile the Midshipmen offense would continue to roll behind Reynolds. Navy put points on the scoreboard on seven of their next 11 series. The end of each half and two punts were all that kept the Mids from scoring every time they had possession of the football.

Austin Grebe booted a 36-yard field goal in the second quarter to give Navy a 17-7 lead. Since becoming the starting kicker on October 11, Grebe has been a perfect 23-23 on PATs and 4-4 on field goals.

For the game, Reynolds had a hand in all seven of the Navy touchdowns - six rushing and one passing. Reynolds hit sophomore wide receiver Jamir Tillman on a 14-yard scoring strike in the second quarter. Reynolds was able to find the end zone with his legs on carries of 1, 22, 1, 27, 15, and 39 yards.

Although they weren't able to put many points on the board, Georgia Southern ran with the Mids yard-for-yard gaining 375 yards on the ground against 394 for Navy. The Eagles were led by sophomore running back Matt Breida.  Breida gained 211 yards on 17 carries including an 88-yard TD run in the third quarter.

With Breida and Reynolds both rushing for over 200 yards, it became just the 7th time in NCAA history that two players rushed for over 200 yards in the same game. The last time was in 2005 when Northern Illinois and Northwestern accomplished the feat.

Keenan Reynolds, with 58 career rushing touchdowns, trails just Eric Crouch (Nebraska) and Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), who each have 59 TDs on the all-time career rushing touchdowns for quarterbacks.

Navy travels to South Alabama on November 28 and then will play Army on December 13.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Previewing the Navy - Georgia Southern Game

Navy and Georgia Southern will meet for just the second when they square off on Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.  Kickoff is set for 3:30 PM. Georgia Southern and Navy last met on September 11, 2010 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The Midshipmen, behind a touchdown from Heisman Trophy candidate Ricky Dobbs and two field goals, took a 13-7 win.

The March-On of the Brigade of Midshipmen will take place at 3:07 pm as 4,400 midshipmen will march on to the field at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium by company.  It is one of the great traditions in college athletics. 

Navy's 26 seniors will be honored in a pregame ceremony starting at 3:22 pm.

Scouting the Eagles

Georgia Southern's beginning into FBS play has been a huge success as the Eagles enter Saturday's game with an 8-2 record and are winners of seven straight contests. 

The Eagles are tied with Ohio State for the fifth-longest winning streak in the country and received one vote in this week's Associated Press Top 25 Poll. 

Georgia Southern's only two losses on the year were at NC State, 24-23, when the Wolfpack scored with 1:37 left and at Georgia Tech, 42-38, when the Yellow Jackets scored with 23 seconds remaining after a Georgia Southern fumble.

Because Georgia Southern is still in a transitional year from the FCS to the FBS, its statistics do not count in the NCAA national rankings. If they did, the Eagles, not Navy, would be leading the nation in rushing as Georgia Southern is averaging an incredible 386.5 yards per game.  That is the best rushing yards per game average in the FBS since Nebraska averaged 392.6 yards per game in 1997.

Sophomore running back Matt Breida has carried the ball 135 times for 1,224 yards and 14 touchdowns and leads the nation with his seven rushes of 50-yards or more.  Sophomore quarterback Kevin Ellison has rushed for 945 yards and 11 touchdowns on 143 carries.  Freshman running back Alfred Ramsby has 10 TDs.

The Eagles have rushed for more than 400 yards in five games in 2014 with a game each above
the 500- and 600-yard mark, including the Sun Belt Conference single-game record of 613 set at Georgia State.

The Eagles have racked up 120 rushing plays of 10 yards or more, most in the nation.

Ellison has completed 56 of his 97 pass attempts for 806 yards with five touchdowns. Ellison's favorite targets are junior wide receiver BJ Johnson (19-279, 3 TDs) and senior wide receiver Zach Walker (16-214).

Georgia Southern's leading tackler is senior linebacker Edwin Jackson, who has recorded 82 stops and has an interception.  Junior linebacker Antwione Williams has recorded 57 tackles, seven tackles for a loss and three sacks.

The Midshipmen    

Navy's senior class, comprised of 26 players, has compiled a 26-21 record (.553), has won two Commander-In-Chief's Trophies, has gone to two bowl games (with a chance for a third this year), has won a bowl game (with a chance to win a second this year), and owns a 3-0 record against Army (with a chance to go 4-0 on December 13).  Last year, the seniors were part of a team that was just the fifth in Navy's 133-year history of playing football to win at least nine games in a season, beat Army and win a bowl game.

Navy's seniors are:  A.J. Barnaby (Deltona, FL), Pablo Beltran (Humble, TX), James Britton (Rogers, AR), Joe Cardona (El Cajon, CA), Noah Copeland (San Antonio, TX), Kyle Cregge (Alpharetta, GA), Aaron Davis(Pearland, TX), Jordan Drake (Douglasville, GA), Brendan Dudeck (Hamilton Square, NJ), Tanner Fleming(Deltona, FL), Parrish Gaines (Smyrna, TN), Bradyn Heap (South Jordan, UT), John Hendrick (Tampa, FL),George Jamison (Cordova, TN), Chris Johnson (Cape Coral, FL), Anthony Lewis (Ogden, UT), Nathaniel Otto (Houston, TX), Maika Polamalu (Pottstown, PA), Paul Quessenberry (Carlsbad, CA), Shakir Robinson (Brunswick, GA), Quinton Singleton (Davis Station, SC), Obi Uzoma (Wake Forest, NC), Geoffrey Whiteside (Columbus, OH), Ryan Williams-Jenkins (Helena, AL), Joe Worth (Valrico, FL) and Jake Zuzek (Brookhaven, PA).

The Midshipmen need two more wins to qualify for the Poinsettia Bowl.

Navy junior nose guard Bernard Sarra has blocked three kicks this year, which is tied for the most in the country. Sarra blocked a field goal against VMI and two field goals against Notre Dame. 

Navy has turned the ball over 14 times in its nine games after losing just 10 turnovers in 13 contests a year ago.

Navy has had 17 different players carry the football in its nine games, while 10 different players have scored touchdowns.

The Navy offense has scored 30 or more points five times this year and the Mids have won four of those contests. The only loss was to No. 6 Notre Dame, 49-39. Under Niumatalolo, the Mids are 35-10 (.777) when scoring 30 or more points in a game.

The Navy defense has allowed fewer than 30 points three times this year and the Mids have won each of those games. Under Niumatalolo, the Mids are 47-12 when the Mids hold the opposition to under 30 points.

Senior Noah Copeland leads the team in rushing with 740 yards and three touchdowns on 85 carries and is averaging 8.7 yards per carry.

Senior punter Pablo Beltran is averaging 44.9 yards per punt on 28 punts this year with a long of 62. 


Sunday, November 09, 2014

This Week in Pittsburgh Pirates History - November 9-15

This week in Pittsburgh Pirates history -

1993 Topps Barry Bonds - Last Pirate Card
November 11

1992      The Pirates and Barry Bonds agree on a deal which will keep the outfielder in Pittsburgh for another season. The contract is worth $4.7 million which makes it the richest one-year commitment in baseball history.

2002      Barry Bonds becomes the first player in major league history to win the Most Valuable Player Award five times. The 38-year old Giant left fielder, who also won the award with the Pirates in 1990 and '92 and with San Francisco in 1993 and last season, was the National League's batting champion with a .370 average and broke 1941 Ted Williams' on-base percentage record with an amazing .582.OBP.

1979 Topps Willie Stargell
November 13

1979      For the first time in major league history two players are named co-winners of the National League MVP award when Cardinal first baseman Keith Hernandez shares the honor with Pirates outfielder Willie Stargell.

November 14

1956      The Pirates threaten to move the franchise from Pittsburgh unless a new municipal stadium is built to replace Forbes Field. The second division club drew 949,878 fans, the fifth best total of the eight National League teams.

1954 Topps Curt Roberts Rookie Card
1969      Curt Roberts, the Pirates’ first black player, was killed when he was struck by a drunk driver while he was changing a tire on his car.  Roberts was 40 years old at the time of his death. 

November 15

2010      Replacing John Russell, Clint Hurdle becomes the Pirates' sixth manager since 1992, their last winning season. The 53-year-old skipper, who managed the Rockies to the National League pennant in 2007, inherits a team that lost 105 games last season and that has averaged 97 losses over the last six campaigns.