Pittsburgh Pirates Battle of 98-win teams: 1991 vs. 2015

It is going on 40 years since the last time the Pittsburgh Pirates won a World Series and that number doesn’t look to end anytime soon under current owner Bob Nutting. Since the Pirates last won the World Series, professional franchises with even longer championship droughts came to an end such as: the Chicago Cubs, the Boston Red Sox, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Houston Astros, the New Orleans Saints, the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Pirates last World Series championship was in 1979. The years 1990-1992 and 2013-2015 were the only seasons the Pirates made the playoffs since 1979, only to come up agonizingly short each time. Within each of those three consecutive playoff years, the team’s high point was a 98-win season. Those two 98-win teams were the best Pirate teams in the past 40 years. In a seven-game series, which would prevail: The Pittsburgh Pirates of 1991 or the Pittsburgh Pirates of 2015?

How did both teams get there?  The 1991 Pirates were the National League Eastern Division champs but lost to the Atlanta Braves four games to three in the NL Championship Game Series. The Braves starting pitchers of Steve Avery, John Smoltz, and Tom Glavine silenced the Pirates bats in the series.  The 2015 Pirates finished second to the 100-win St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central Division and lost the Wild Card Playoff Game to the 97-win Chicago Cubs and that year’s National League’s Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta.

The Pirates from 1990-92 won the NL Eastern Division each year with 95, 98 and 96 wins respectively. The Pirates from 2013-15 finished as a Wild Card each season, finishing second each year in the NL Central Division with 94, 88, and 98 wins respectively. How do the teams compare position by position? 1991 as compared to 2015:

Catcher –  Mike LaValliere vs. Francisco Cervelli

LaValliere hit .289 in 108 games behind the plate for the ’91 Buccos. Cervelli had taken over the catching position in 2015 as Russell Martin left via free agency and turned out to be more than an adequate replacement for the departed Martin. Cervelli hit .295 and provided a little more pop in his bat than LaValliere. Slight Edge: ‘15

First Base –  Orlando Merced vs. Pedro Alvarez

Merced hit .275 with 10 home runs and 50 runs batted in to Alvarez’s .243 and even though Alvarez struck out 131 times in 2015, his 27 home runs led the Pirates in that category and he drove in 77 runs that year. Edge: ‘15

Second Base – Jose Lind vs. Neil Walker

Lind had superior range defensively than Walker did at second base, but the analytics worked so well positioning Walker that he wasn’t a liability in the field. At the plate, Lind hit .265 and Walker .269 but the edge in power numbers belong to Walker, 16 home runs to three, and 71 runs batted in to Lind’s 54.  Edge: ‘15

Shortstop – Jay Bell vs. Jordy Mercer

If one didn’t look at their respective season’s statistics, one would think this one is even, but Bell scored 96 runs, hit 16 home runs and drove in 67 runs hitting .270 in 1991. Mercer scored 34 runs, hit three home runs, drove in 34 runs and hit .244 in 2015. Edge: ‘91

Third Base – Jeff King vs. Jung Ho Kang

Bonilla played the most games at third base for the ’91 Pirates with 67 and while King only played 33, Bonilla saw action in right field in 104 games. That is why for this comparison, Bonilla is listed in right field and King at third base. In 2015, in the 126 games that Kang played, Kang showed the Pirates flashes of what he might one day be capable of. Kang had 24 doubles and 15 home runs driving in 58 runs and hitting a solid .287. King’s batting average was .239 in 1991.  Edge: ‘15

Left Field –  Barry Bonds vs Starling Marte

1991 was another great year for Bonds. He scored 95 runs, hit 25 home runs, drove in a team high 116 runs, stole 43 bases and hit .292 on the year. Marte was no sloth for the 2015 Pirates. Marte stole 30 bases, hit 19 home runs and drove in 81 runs and hit .287. However, one can’t deny the edge here goes to Bonds. Edge: ‘91

Center Field – Andy Van Slyke vs Andrew McCutchen

In 1991, fan favorite Andy Van Slyke hit 17 home runs, drove in 83 runs and hit .265, but he wasn’t Andrew McCutchen.  2015 was another year the Pirates came to expect from Cutch. He scored 91 runs, hit 23 home runs, drove in 96 runs and hit .292 while patrolling spacious center field at PNC Park. Edge: ‘15

Right Field – Bobby Bonilla vs Gregory Polanco

Bonilla led the Pirates with 44 doubles and 102 runs scored, and he also hit 18 home runs, drove in 100 runs and hit .302 on the year.  Right Field at PNC Park belonged to Gregory Polanco in 2015 and he hit nine home runs, driving in 52 runs and stole 27 bases with a .256 batting average. Edge: ’91

Bench:  Gary Redus, Don Slaught, Gary Varsho, Curt Wilkerson, Lloyd McClendon, Steve Buechele and John Wehner vs. Josh Harrison, Sean Rodriquez, Aramis Ramirez, Chris Stewart, Mike Morse and Travis Ishikawa.

Redus hit .246 for the ’91 Bucs, and Don Slaught gave Leyland a right-handed bat when spelling   LaValliere and hit a solid .295 that year. Varsho hit .273, Wilkerson only .188, McClendon .288 and Buechele .246 and Pittsburgh-native Wehner hit .340 in 106 at-bats.

Harrison was a catalyst for Hurdle’s club filling in all over the field hitting .287. Rodriquez gave Hurdle a tremendous amount of flexibility as well. Rodriquez could also play a lot of positions but he hit only .246. Ramirez’ fine career was coming to a close as he hit only .245. Stewart’s hitting was a pleasant surprise as his batting average was .289 in 2015. Morse saw playing time at first base and hit .275 and Ishikawa hit .224.  Edge: ‘91

Starting Pitching –  John Smiley, Doug Drabek, Zane Smith, Randy Tomlin and Bob Walk vs. Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, A.J. Burnett, Jeff Locke, Charlie Morton and A.J. Happ.

Smiley was the ace of the staff winning 20 games and losing only eight with a 3.08 ERA, Smith went 16-10 with a 3.20 ERA and Drabek was 15-14 with a 3.07 ERA. Walk won nine while losing only two with a 3.60 ERA and Tomlin was 8-7 with a 2.98 ERA to round out the starting pitching for the ’91 Bucs. Having your fifth starter with an ERA under three says a good bit about  the depth of the 1991 Pirates starters.

Cole was the ace of the 2015 Pirates pitching staff with a 19-8 record, and a 2.60 ERA. At times, Liriano looked like an ace and had a 12-7 record and 3.38 ERA. Burnett was 9-7 with a 3.18 ERA, Happ was outstanding with 7-2 and a 1.85 ERA, Locke was 8-11 with a 4.49 ERA, and Morton was 9-9 on the year with a 4.81 ERA.  As their records would indicate, Locke and Morton were inconsistent and if needed to be called upon in this series, could be a liability for the 2015 Pirates.  Edge: ’91

Bullpen – Neal Heaton, Bob Patterson, Bob Kipper, Stan Belinda and Vicente Palacios vs. Tony Watson, Arquimedes Caminero, Jared Hughes, Vance Worley and Astonio Bastardo.

Belinda was 7-5 with 16 saves for the ’91 Bucs with a 3.45 ERA. Heaton was 3-3 with a  4.33 ERA, Patterson 4-3 with a 4.11 ERA, Kipper 2-2 with a 4.65 ERA and Palacios was 6-3 with a 3.75 ERA for the ’91 Bucs.

Watson was exceptional out of the bullpen with a 4-1 record and 1.91 ERA in 77 appearances. Caminero was 5-1 with a 3.62 ERA, Hughes was 3-1 with a 2.28 ERA and Bastardo had a 4-1 record with a 2.98 ERA. Worley was 4-6 and had eight starts in 2015 with a 4.02 ERA. Significant Edge for the ’15 Bucs.

Closer – Bill Landrum vs Mark Melancon

Landrum was 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA with 17 saves. Melancon appeared in 78 games for the Bucs in 2015, with a 2.23 ERA and 51 saves. Big Edge: ‘15

Manager – Jim Leyland vs. Clint Hurdle

Leyland would go on to win a World Series with Florida and was named Manager of the Year three times. Hurdle has not won a World Series and likely never will while managing for Pirates owner Bob Nutting.  Edge: ‘91

The edge clearly belongs to the 2015 Pirates if they can get the lead to their bullpen of Watson and Melancon. Could Leyland get enough offense from Bonds, Bonilla and Van Slyke against the 2015 Pirates starters?

So how does this series play out?  This would be a tight, low-scoring seven-game affair with the seventh game tied at two and the 2015 Pirates batting in the bottom of the ninth. With two outs and no one on base, Neil Walker battles Bill Landrum fouling off four two-strike pitches before doubling into right center. With the potential series-winning run at second base, Leyland plays a hunch and decides to bring in Stan Belinda. The raucous, blackout-clad crowd at PNC Park greet Belinda with chants of, “Stan-ley, Stan-ley, Stan-ley.”

With only one left-handed batter on the bench, Hurdle chooses to send up Ishikawa to pinch hit for a struggling Polanco in this series. Trying to pull the ball, Ishikawa fouls off a couple of fastball offerings from Belinda. After laying off two outside pitches, Ishikawa is just trying to make contact and keep the inning going. Ishikawa reaches on another outside offering from Belinda and connects getting the ball gets past Pirates shortstop Jay Bell into left field!

Inexplicably, LaValliere lines up a few steps up the first-base line rather than in front of home plate or on the third base side to force Walker to go through or around him. With Sid Bream-like speed, Walker lumbers around third! Bonds charges the ball and looks and throws to where LaValliere has positioned himself up the first base line. The throw is just a step offline to the right of where LaValliere had positioned himself. LaValliere reaches right, catches the throw, dives back, the hometown-kid slides……

What do you think would be the result of a 7-game series between the 1991 Pirates and the 2015 Pirates?

Barry Bonds Photo credit: Oldmaison on Visual hunt / CC BY-SA

Andrew McCutchen Photo credit: Keith Allison on Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

Read about the match-up of Pittsburgh Pirates World Series Champions 1971 versus 1979 that can be found at: https://johnbaranowski.wordpress.com/2019/04/27/pittsburgh-pirates-battle-of-world-series-champions-1971-vs-1979/

John Baranowski is a sports historian and contributor to newspapers, sports publications and sports websites. This and other articles written by him can be found on his blog:

https://johnbaranowski.wordpress.com/

 

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Pittsburgh Pirates Battle of World Series Champions: 1971 vs. 1979

It is going on 40 years since the last time the Pittsburgh Pirates won a World Series and that number doesn’t look to end anytime soon under current owner Bob Nutting. Since the Pirates last won the 1979 World Series, other professional sports franchises with even longer championship droughts have come to an end. Teams such as: the Chicago Cubs, the Boston Red Sox, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the New Orleans Saints, the Houston Astros and the Philadelphia Eagles all won their sports championship after even longer playoff droughts than the Pirates current one.

The Pirates last two World Series championships were in 1971 and 1979.  To conjure up those pleasant memories, how would those two teams have fared against one another in a seven-game series, in a battle of World Series Champions 1971 versus 1979?

How did both teams get there?  The 1971 Pirates won the National League Eastern Division with a 97-65 record. They then went on to defeat the 90-win San Francisco Giants in the NL Championship Series three games to one. That Giants club had four future Hall of Famers on it in Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry. The Pirates then went on to defeat a Baltimore Orioles squad that repeated as American League Champions in the World Series four games to three. That Orioles squad had one of the greatest starting pitching staffs of all time with four 20-game winners on their pitching staff.

The 1979 Pirates won the National League Eastern Division with a 98-64 record. They went on to sweep the 90-win Cincinnati Reds in the NL Championship Series. That Reds team had three future Hall of Famers on it in Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tom Seaver. The Pirates once again faced Baltimore in the 1979 World Series and defeated the Orioles four games to three.

How do the two Pirates championship teams of the ‘70s compare position by position? 1971 as compared to 1979:

Catcher – Manny Sanguillen vs. Ed Ott & Steve Nicosia

Sanguillen was in his prime in 1971 and hit .319 and drove in 81 runs. Sanguillen was an All-Star in 1971 and finished 8th in the National League’s MVP balloting. Ott appeared in 117 games and hit .273. Nicosia appeared in 70 games and hit .288. Edge: ‘71

First Base – Bob Robertson vs. Willie Stargell

Obviously, an edge to Stargell on this one but Robertson was no slouch. Big Bob had 26 home runs, driving in 72 runs and hit .271. The Captain was National League co-MVP in 1979 sharing the honors with Keith Hernandez. It seemed like Stargell came through whenever a big hit was needed in 1979. Stargell hit 32 home runs with 82 runs batted in and hit .281 on the year. Edge: ‘79

Second Base – Dave Cash vs Phil Garner

Cash took over the position from long-time Pirate second baseman Bill Mazeroski and hit a solid .289 in 1971, scoring 79 runs and stealing 13 bases. Cash’s fielding percentage was .983 compared to Garner’s .966. Garner was a spark plug for the ’79 Pirates scoring 76 runs, hitting 32 doubles, stealing 17 bases and hitting .293 on the year. Garner had more power than Cash hitting 11 home runs to four and Scrap Iron drove in 59 runs to Cash’s 34. Edge: ‘79

Shortstop – Gene Alley & Jackie Hernandez vs Tim Foli

Even though Hernandez is remembered in the ’71 World Series, Alley played in 114 games compared to Hernandez’ 88 during the 1971 season. Alley hit .227 and Hernandez .206. Foli was very steady in the field and hit .291 for the Pirates in 1979. Edge: ‘79

Third Base – Richie Hebner vs Bill Madlock

Hebner appeared in 112 games in 1971 hitting 17 home runs, driving in 67 runs and hit .271 on the year. The Mad Dog was a key addition to the ’79 club coming over from the San Francisco Giants and played in 85 games with the Bucs, Madlock hit .328 and stole 21 bases while playing a solid third base. Edge: ‘79

Left Field – Willie Stargell vs. Bill Robinson

Stargell had a tremendous year in 1971 finishing second in the NL MVP vote to Joe Torre. Stargell led the league with 48 home runs, drove in 125 runs and hit .295. Stargell did strike out 154 times in 511 at-bats. Robinson was a solid performer and in 1979 hit 24 home runs, drove in 75 runs and even stole 13 bases but the edge here definitely goes to Stargell. Edge: ‘71

Center Field – Al Oliver vs. Omar Moreno

Oliver had 31 doubles and hit .282 with 14 home runs and 64 runs batted in for the ’71 Pirates. In addition to playing center field, Oliver also played 25 games at first base in 1971. The Antelope had a terrific year in 1979, often getting on base and setting the table for Tim Foli to bunt him over and then get singled home to give Manager Chuck Tanner an early lead. Moreno scored 110 runs with 196 hits, hitting .282 and led the National League with 77 stolen bases while driving in 69 runs. Moreno’s speed enabled him to cover a lot of ground in the outfield defensively and finished 15th in the National League’s MVP balloting. Edge: ’79

Right Field – Roberto Clemente vs Dave Parker

At age 36, the Great One still hit .341 with 178 hits and drove in 86 runs playing in only 132 games and Clemente finished fifth in the National League MVP voting. Parker was in his prime in 1979 and was one of the best players in all of major league baseball. The Cobra scored 109 runs, had 193 hits, 45 doubles, 25 home runs, drove in 94 runs, stole 20 bases and hit .310 while playing in 158 games. Parker had a terrific arm defensively but few, if any in major league baseball history, equaled Clemente’s. Parker finished 10th in MVP balloting in 1979. Edge: ‘71

Bench:  Gene Clines, Vic Davalillo, Bill Mazeroski, Milt May, and Jose Pagan vs Rennie Stennett, John Milner, Lee Lacy, Manny Sanguillen, Mike Easler and Matt Alexander.

Manager Danny Murtaugh used his bench effectively in 1971. Clines hit .308 playing in 97 games and led the team with 15 stolen bases. Davalillo hit .285 and played in 99 games and stole 10 bases for the Buccos. Clines and Davalillo played all three outfield positions and Davalillo also played first base in 16 games providing Murtaugh with some flexibility with his lineups. May provided another left-handed bat off the bench and hit .278. Pagan provided Murtaugh with a right-handed hitting third baseman and hit .241 while Mazeroski hit .254.

Milner provided some left-handed power for Chuck Tanner’s Bucs in 1979 hitting 16 home runs, driving in 60 runs and hitting .276. Lacy gave Tanner a right-handed hitter and Lacy hit .247 in 1979. Stennett hit .238, Sanguillen hit .230 in 74 at-bats and Easler hit .278 in just 54 at-bats. Alexander gave Tanner a fast pinch-runner and stole 13 bases on the year.

Clines, Davilillo and May gave Murtaugh three players that saw a good bit of playing time and hit better than .278. Only Easler hit .278 for the ’79 Bucs off the bench and that was with only 54 at-bats. The ’79 bench had more power due to Milner’s presence but since you usually use pinch-hitters to get on base as opposed to hitting a home run. Edge: A slight one to the ’71 Bucs.

Starting Pitching – Steve Blass, Dock Ellis, Luke Walker, Bob Johnson, Bob Moose and Bruce Kison vs. John Candelaria, Bert Blyleven, Jim Rooker, Bruce Kison and Don Robinson.

Ellis went 19-9 with a 3.06 ERA for the ’71 Bucs with 11 complete games while Blass went 15-8 with a 2.85 ERA and had 12 complete games and five shutouts. Moose, Walker and Johnson won 11, 10 and nine games respectively with a combined 14 complete games between them. Moose’s ERA was 4.11, Walker’s 3.55 and Johnson’s 3.45. Kison was 6-5 with a 3.40 ERA.

The Candy Man was the ace of the staff with a 14-9 record and a 3.22 ERA with eight complete games for the ’79 Bucs. Blyleven was 12-5 with a 3.60 ERA and Kison was 13-7 with a 3.19 ERA. Robinson was 8-8 with a 3.87 ERA and Rooker was 4-7 with a 4.60 ERA. Edge:  Even

Bullpen – Nellie Briles, Mudcat Grant, Jim Nelson, Bob Miller, and Bob Veale vs. Jim Bibby, Enrique Romo, Dave Roberts, Grant Jackson and Ed Whitson.

Briles would prove to be a key figure for the Bucs pitching staff in 1971 winning eight games with a 3.04 ERA and pitched 136 innings and was a spot starter with 14 starts in his 37 game appearances and four complete games. Grant was 5-3 with a 3.60 ERA, Nelson was 2-2 with a 2.34 ERA, Miller 1-2 with a 1.29 ERA, and Veale was 6-0 with a 6.99 ERA (that’s not a typo).

Bibby provided spot starts, starting 17 of his 34 games he appeared in and went 12-4 for the ’79 Pirates with a 2.81 ERA and had four complete games. Romo appeared in 84 games and had a 10-5 record with a 2.99 ERA, Roberts was 5-2 with a 3.26 ERA and Jackson appeared in 72 games with an 8-5 record and a 2.96 ERA and had 14 saves. Whitson was 2-3 with a 4.37 ERA. Edge: ‘79

Closer – Dave Giusti vs. Kent Tekulve

Giusti finished 14th in the National League’s MVP balloting, the highest of any relief-pitcher and the only pitchers to finish higher in the balloting than Giusti were Ferguson Jenkins and Tom Seaver. Giusti was 5-6 with a 2.93 ERA and saved 30 games in 1971 for the Pirates and won the Fireman of the Year Award in the National League as the league’s top reliever.

Tekulve appeared in 94 games and had 31 saves in 1979 with a record of 10-8 and a 2.75 ERA. Tekulve finished eighth in the National League MVP balloting. The only other pitchers to finish higher were Joe Neikro and Bruce Sutter. Edge: EVEN

Manager – Danny Murtaugh vs. Chuck Tanner

Murtaugh rates a slight edge over Tanner as Murtaugh won two World Series titles, each time as an underdog and with two entirely different clubs in the ’60 Bucs and the ’71 Bucs. Edge: ’71

The 1971 Pirates led the National League in runs scored with 788, home runs with 154 and were second in hitting .274 on the year. Only three Pirates (Clines, Cash and Davalillo) had 10 or more stolen bases on the season.  The 1979 Pirates also led the National League in runs scored with 775, second in home runs with 148 and second in hitting with a .272 team batting average. One big difference is the ’79 Pirates were second in the league with 180 stolen bases, the ’71 Pirates only stole 65 bases.

How does this series play out?  The ’71 Pirates pitching staff will need to keep Omar Moreno off the base paths where he can set the table for the ’79 Pirates. Each manager just wants to get the ball in the hands of their outstanding closer with a lead. It’s hard to imagine Clemente not having another great series showcasing his great ability and almost singlehandedly leading his team to victory. Captain Willie Stargell in ’79 displayed his greatness as well in leading the Bucs to a World Series title. I see this one going the distance and to a seventh game with Clemente being the difference.

If you’re too young to remember these two teams, you may enjoy reading how the Pirates two 98-win Pittsburgh Pirate teams in 1991 and 2015, but didn’t get to the World Series, would have fared against each other. You can find that article at: https://johnbaranowski.wordpress.com/2019/04/27/pittsburgh-pirates-battle-of-98-win-teams-1991-vs-2015/

Roberto Clemente Photo credit: dbking on VisualHunt / CC BY

Willie Stargell Photo credit: podolux on Visualhunt / CC BY-SA

John Baranowski is a sports historian and contributor to newspapers, sports publications and sports websites. This and other articles written by him can be found on his blog:  https://johnbaranowski.wordpress.com/

 

My review of John Moody’s Book: Kiss it Goodbye. The Mystery, the Mormon, and the Moral of the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates.

I recently finishing reading John Moody’s book entitled, “Kiss It Good-bye. The Mystery, the Mormon, and the Moral of the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates” written about Moody’s boyhood-hero Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Vernon Law. Two overriding themes jumped out at me as I read the book.

The first was Mr. Moody’s devotion to Law is such that he suggests the ridiculous notion that if Law would have not been hurt on the bus celebrating the Pirates clinching the National League pennant in 1960 (the Mystery) and that had Law went on to win 20-games for the next seven seasons (1961-1967) that he would be in Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame. If that were true, he most certainly would be as that would have given Law eight consecutive 20-win seasons including the 1960 season.

Moody wrote on page 227: “Lets assume that Law had been healthy after the 1960 season and that he had won 20 games in each of his seven remaining seasons with the Pirates….Instead of the 60 games that Law won from 1960 through 1967, let’s assume he won 140 more, for a total of 242, and that he lost the same number as he really did 147….Those kinds of numbers would have put him in the realm of Juan Marichal….” Talk about a stretch by Moody!

To put that preposterous notion in perspective, the great Sandy Koufax had only three 20-win seasons in his entire career. Tom Seaver had only five 20-win seasons in his Hall-of-Fame career never having more than two consecutive 20-win seasons. Marichal had six 20-win seasons in his entire career winning 20 games four consecutive times.

Roger Clemens had six 20-win seasons in his career, never more than two consecutively. Randy Johnson had three 20-win seasons in his career. Pedro Martinez had two 20-win seasons in his career. Bob Gibson, a contemporary of Law’s had five 20-win seasons in his career, three of which were in consecutive seasons. Jim Palmer had eight 20-win seasons, four of which were consecutive. One can see how Moody’s devotion to Law impairs his thinking and judgment.

Secondly, what jumped out at me, is Moody’s contempt and dislike for the Pirates Hall-of-Fame right fielder Roberto Clemente. Multiple times Moody goes out of his way to express his disdain for Clemente, in of all places an autobiography of his boyhood hero Law.

Moody wrote things I have never read written about Clemente in any previous book. For example:

On page 289: “The book on Clemente was that he was a coward. Buzz him up by the skull and he had the manner of a pup who’d just been whipped.”Throughout the book, Moody cannot help himself in hiding his dislike for Clemente. On page 253: “Clemente got beneath the drive, gloved it with his infuriatingly casual, palm-up basket catch, and the game was over.” Would Moody call Willie Mays’ same-style of palm-up basket catch infuriating as well? Has anyone else ever done so of either Clemente or Mays? Evidently, it was infuriating only to Moody.

Even when praising Clemente’s undeniable talents and athletic ability, Moody injects his subjective negativity. On page 151: “The club also had a cocky and super-talented new right fielder named Roberto Clemente.” Clemente’s talent was recognized by everyone that ever watched him play, but cocky is strictly Moody’s opinion and he must have felt compelled to interject his negativity towards Clemente. Was it truly necessary?

On page 165 and 166: “When he was fit and motivated, Clemente answered criticism with accomplishment.” When was Clemente non-motivated? I have never encountered any writer ever claiming that Clemente was ever non-motivated.

Moody continued: “He challenged pitchers with an arrogant wave of his head, as if daring them to throw the ball past him.” Again, note Moody’s use of the negative adjective arrogant. I recall no one ever stating Clemente waved his head arrogantly.

On page 241, Moody wrote: “Watching Clemente on tape now – the arrogant way he made himself at home in the batter’s box…..”

On page 283, Moody wrote: “Shantz made Face go to a full count, then lifted a high fly ball to right, which Clemente put away with his arrogant basket catch.”

By my count, Moody used the following negative adjectives and terms regarding Clemente: cowardly, infuriating, arrogant (3x), cocky, and unmotivated, in a book not about Clemente, but he felt it necessary to write those things about Clemente in a book about his idol Vernon Law?

No other player in the book is subjected to as many, if any, negatives in Moody’s book. For me, this detracted a great deal from Kiss It Goodbye.

John Baranowski is a sports historian and contributor to newspapers, sports publications and sports websites. This and other articles written by him can be found on his blog:  https://johnbaranowski.wordpress.com/