Stan Musial, baseball legend passes away at 92 UPDATED Legendary Orioles manager Earl Weaver passes away at 82

One of the all-time greats is gone. R.I.P.

Stan Musial, one of baseball’s greatest hitters and a Hall of Famer with the St. Louis Cardinals for more than two decades, died Saturday. He was 92.

Stan the Man won seven National League batting titles, was a three-time MVP and helped the Cardinals capture three World Series championships in the 1940s.

The Cardinals announced Musial’s death in a news release. They said he died Saturday evening at his home in Ladue surrounded by family. The team said Musial’s son-in-law, Dave Edmonds, informed the club of Musial’s death.

Musial was so revered in St. Louis, two statues of him stand outside Busch Stadium. He spent his entire 22-year career with the Cardinals and made the All-Star team 24 times — baseball held two All-Star games each summer for a few seasons.

A pitcher in the low minors until he injured his arm, Musial turned to playing the outfield and first base. It was a stroke of luck for him, as he went on to hit .331 with 475 home runs before retiring in 1963.

Widely considered the greatest Cardinals player ever, the outfielder and first baseman was the first person in team history to have his number retired. Ol’ 6 probably was the most popular, too, especially after Albert Pujols skipped town.

UPDATE! Earl Weaver also is gone this day

A hot-tempered bantam who screamed curses at umpires and sometimes at his own players, Earl Weaver made the Baltimore Orioles into a baseball powerhouse during his 17 years as manager.

He was infamous for his explosive diatribes, which got him thrown out of almost 100 games, and for nervously smoking cigarettes throughout games, but no one could deny that the “Earl of Baltimore” was one of the greatest managers in baseball history.

Orioles officials announced that Mr. Weaver died Friday while on a team-sponsored Caribbean cruise with many of his former players. He was 82. A report on theMLB.com Web site attributed his death to an apparent heart attack.

Known as the “little genius,” Mr. Weaver had an inventive baseball mind and used every imprecation in his colorful vocabulary to inspire his players. Once, when one of his pitchers was struggling on the mound, an exasperated Mr. Weaver implored, “If you know how to cheat, start now.”

He was a crafty strategist who preached a simple formula for baseball success — good pitching, solid defense and three-run homers.

MLB playoffs updates

Giants top Red 6-4 advance to NLCS

Not just any comeback would get San Francisco back to playing for a pennant. It would take one of Giant proportions.

And Buster Posey believed it could happen. Even after the Giants left the West Coast down two games, the National League batting champion insisted his team could pull it off, despite the long odds.

With one swing, he got everyone else believing it, too.

Posey hit the third grand slam in Giants’ postseason history on Thursday, and San Francisco pulled off an unprecedented revival, moving into the championship series with a 6-4 victory over the Cincinnati Red.

Nats beat Cards 2-1 on Jayson Werth homer even series at  2-2

The Washington Nationals signed Jayson Werth to show them how to win. His game-ending homer Thursday night extended their surprising season.

Werth led off the bottom of the ninth inning by driving Lance Lynn‘s 13th pitch into the left-field stands to give the Nationals a 2-1 victory over the defending World Series championSt. Louis Cardinals and force a Game 5 in their NL Division Series.

As he circled the bases, Werth raised his right index finger in a “No. 1″ gesture while the announced crowd of 44,392 roared with delight.

O’s edge Yanks in 13 innings, even ALDS

With midnight approaching, the Baltimore Orioles‘ bats awoke one more time.

Now they have a last shot to finally overtake the New York Yankees.

J.J. Hardy hit an RBI double in the 13th inning, and Baltimore bounced back from a demoralizing loss to outlast the Yankees 2-1 on Thursday night, forcing a deciding Game 5 in the AL Division Series.

Tigers end A’s Cinderella season, advance to ALCS

Already an ace and MVP, Justin Verlander proved to be the Detroit Tigers‘ ultimate closer, too.

Verlander struck out 11 in a four-hitter, pitching Detroit into a second straight AL championship series a day after Jose Valverde failed to hold a ninth-inning lead with a 6-0 win against the Oakland Athletics in the decisive Game 5 of their division series Thursday night.

Verlander tossed his first career postseason shutout and complete game with a 122-pitch masterpiece.

The Tigers will face either the New York Yankees or Baltimore Orioles, tied at 2 games apiece heading into Game 5 on Friday night in New York. Game 1 of the ALCS is scheduled for Saturday.

 

MLB Playoffs set to start

 

There is a lot going on in baseball as the post season starts Friday. We have our first Triple Crown winner, in Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera. We have Boston 86ing Bobby Valentine, and we have two great stories of teams that came from nowhere to make the playoffs, Washington, Baltimore and Oakland. The postseason begins tomorrow afternoon in Atlanta, as the Braves host the defending champion St. Louis  Cardinals, and in Texas, where my Rangers, fresh from choking the AL West title away host those surprising Orioles of Baltimore.

This is a new stage in the playoffs. MLB added an extra Wild Card in each league, and both of these Friday games will be one game elimination, with the winners facing the Yankees, and Washington Nationals in the Divisional Series. In the other Divisionals, Detroit and Oakland face off in the American League, while the Red and Giants square off in the National League.

So, who am I picking? well in the Wild Card Round I have to go with the Cards, and Rangers. Next, in the ALDS I will say Oakland tops Detroit while the Yankees edge the Rangers and in the NLDS I am picking Giants over the Reds, and the Cardinals over the Nats. Now, in the ALCS, take Oakland over New York, and in the NLCS, the Giants over the Cards. That would set up an all Bay area series, which last happened in 1989 with Oakland crushing the Giants in a series interrupted by an earthquake.

Now for some history, the Giants and A’s have met three other times in the Fall Classic back when they were the New York Giants and the Philadelphia A’s.  In 1905, 1911, and 1913. The A’s won in 1911, and 1913, and the Giants took the 1905 series. The 1905 series is unique for several reasons. I 1903, the Boston Americans, later known as the Red Sox, beat the Pittsburg Pirates  yes Pittsburg had no “H” back then 5 games to 3. The next year, the Americans repeated as AL champs, and the New York Giants took the NL Pennant. The Giants refused to play a World Series though, as both the manager John McGraw, and the owner John T. Brush held ill feelings towards the American League. McGraw had been hired as player/manager of the AL’s Baltimore Orioles franchise, no, that franchise is not the same team as today’s Orioles. When McGraw left Baltimore for the Giants, American League head Ban Johnson moved the Orioles to New York, to compete with the Giants. that team was first called the Highlanders, but, shortly, they were renamed the Yankees.

All of this led to no series in 1904, and also to a new deal on an annual series, which is still being played today. That 1905 series is still the only one in which every game was a shutout, and where 9 of the 10 starting pitchers threw complete games. The Giants Christy Mathewson threw three of the four Giant victories. And, another bit of trivia. When you watch the A’s play notice on their jerseys is a white elephant, which is part of their logo. That too sprung from 1905 when Giants manager John McGraw called the A’s white elephants, and some of the A’s gave McGraw a statue of a white elephant during the series.

 

MLB Playoffs set!

Ah yes, I love postseason baseball here is the schedule! Oh, and GO RANGERS!

The American League playoffs became official Sunday afternoon when the Yankees dropped their finale to the Red Sox, thereby pushing the defending World Series champions into the Wild Card spot, with the Rays winning the AL East.

That means Wednesday’s openers of the AL Division Series will have the Rays hosting the AL West champion Rangers and the AL Central champion Twins playing their first playoff game at Target Field against the Yankees, seeking their 28th World Series title.

The Phillies had the best record in the National League this season at 97-65, and the NL top seed was given the opportunity to pick between the eight-day and seven-day Division Series — they chose the eight-day series that begins Wednesday. That means they will open their attempt at becoming the first team to win National League pennants in three consecutive years since the 1944 Cardinals by hosting the Reds on Wednesday.

The Giants, as the NL West champ, and the Braves, as the Wild Card entrant, will meet in the other NLDS, beginning Thursday at AT&T Park.

My picks? In the NL Phils and Braves In the AL Twins and Rangers