Useless Tigers Information
The Iraqi information minister just called to tell us the Detroit Tigers are actually undefeated this year.
But while we seek independent verification of that, we're going to work on the assumption that the Tigers are still off to the second-worst 30-game start of any team in modern times. (Only the 1988 Orioles, at 4-26, can top -- or bottom -- that.)
|Tigers manager Alan Trammell must be close to wit's end.|
The record doesn't tell the whole story, though. It's been worse than 5-25. The Tigers don't even want to know how much worse ... but we'll tell them anyway:
At 5-25, they were (gulp) six wins behind the pace of the '62 Mets after 30 games.
And that's not the only area in which the '62 Mets have these Tigers whomped. At the Tigers' current pace, their team batting average (.198) would be 42 points lower than the '62 Mets' average. The Tigers also would score 185 fewer runs (617-432) and would hit 58 fewer homers (139-81) than a team that went 40-120.
But it gets worse, the Tigers were also two wins behind the 30-game pace of the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, a team that made the '62 Mets look like the '98 Yankees. The Spiders finished an almost hilarious 20-134, thanks to kind of a tough finish (i.e., 1-40). Nevertheless, the Tigers are on a pace to score 97 fewer runs than the Spiders, too.
Just as alarmingly, the Tigers will really have to pick it up to pull even with the losingest team in American League history -- the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics (36-117). The Tigers were eight games behind them in the all-important loss column after 30 games.
But we'll concede it's not always fair to compare teams from different eras. So how about this: The Tigers are 1-7 against teams that lost 100 games last year (1-2 vs. Tampa Bay, 0-5 vs. Kansas City).
Also, these Tigers already have had three losing streaks of six games or more. The Yankees, on the other hand, have had three losing streaks of six or more in their last 1,596 games (starting Sept. 20, 1992). Which was so long ago, the Yankees' first win in that span actually tied them with the '92 Tigers in the standings.
Or put it this way: Alan Trammell had more losing streaks of six games or more in his first 30 games as Tigers manager (three) than Joe Torre had in his first 1,162 games as Yankees manager (two).
One way the Tigers make life easy is: You almost never have to ask if they're winning. They pretty much never are. Only Jeremy Bonderman's astounding April 23 win over Barry Zito in Oakland has kept the Tigers from saying they've trailed in every game this year.
Worst 30-decision starts
1884 KC Cowboys
The good news for the Tigers is that their pitching is too good for them to be outscored by the 718 runs the 1899 Spiders were. But the bad news is, the Tigers are on a pace to have the worst run differential since. At their current rate, their opponents would score 389 more runs, which would break the modern record held by Smead Jolley's Lawson's 1932 Red Sox (43-111), who were minus-349.
The Tigers have used 12 pitchers, and the 12 of them combined still have fewer wins (five) than the Yankees' Mike Mussina (six). We know this can't happen, but nevertheless, we're obliged to report that only one team since 1900 has been out-won by any pitcher -- the 1904 Senators, who finished three wins behind Jack Chesbro (41-38).
And as recently as Friday, the Tigers were also tied in homers with the AL home run leader, Juan Gonzalez. They've since pulled ahead of him by four. But for the record, the last team to get out-homered by the league home run champ was Carden Gillenwater's '48 Senators, who finished eight behind Joe DiMaggio (39-31).
As the great Danny Knobler, Booth Newspapers' Tigers beat man, reports, Brewers bopper Richie Sexson not only had a three-homer game before the Tigers did, he
had a three-homer game before they had a two-homer game.
Knobler also reports that the 67 runs the Tigers scored in their first 28 games were the fewest they'd scored in any 28-game stretch in 98 years. In 1905, a slightly different Tigers team scored 61 runs in 28 games in July and August. Then they called up an 18-year-old hitting prospect ... named Ty Cobb.
It took the Tigers just 27 games to get shut out for the seventh time. That's not as fast as the 1987 Royals, who were shut out seven times in their first 21 games. But it's the fastest any Tigers team has racked up that many shutouts in the franchise's 102-year history. Obligatory Yankees comparison: The Yankees have been shut out seven times in their last 304 games.
And one more from Knobler: On an off day April 28, Trammell went to Toledo and saw his Triple-A farm team score 11 runs. Until Sunday, the Tigers hadn't scored 11 runs in any series this season.
But give those Tigers credit. After going 8½ months without winning two games in a row (counting the offseason), they then won three in a row before the Indians, Devil Rays and Brewers. The '62 Mets kept pace, though. They also put together their first three-game winning streak in the 29th, 30th and 31st games of the season. (Postscript: The Tigers have won four in a row before the Mets, Reds, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Padres, Devil Rays, Indians, Rangers.)
Oh, and I don't know what you want to do with this, but Dmitri Young was only the fourth player in history to hit two homers and two triples in one game. The others were Willie Mays in 1958, Lew Fonseca in 1929 and Lou Gehrig in 1928.
Useless No-hitter Information.
Kevin Millwood has now done something Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz never did in Atlanta -- or Steve Carlton, Robin Roberts and Curt Schilling never did in Philadelphia: throw a no-hitter. Here are a few tidbits on Millwood's masterpiece:
|The Giants are developing a Kevin complex when it comes to no-nos.|
The Giants hadn't lost any of their previous 18 regular-season series (over two years) and had a .783 winning percentage (18-5) until Millwood showed up. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that's the best winning percentage in history by a team that then got no-hit (minimum: 20 games into the season). Here are the top four:
April 27, 2003 -- Giants (18-5, .783) at Philadelphia (Kevin Millwood).
June 11, 1990 -- A's (38-17, .691) vs. Texas (Nolan Ryan).
June 4, 1964 -- Phillies (27-15, .643) vs. Los Angeles (Sandy Koufax).
May 11, 1963 -- Giants (19-11, .633) at Los Angeles (Sandy Koufax).
But the Giants might like to know that 10 teams have been no-hit and still won the World Series. Those 10:
1988 Dodgers (by Tom Browning).
1981 Dodgers (by Nolan Ryan).
1974 A's (by Dick Bosman).
1973 A's (by Jim Bibby).
1971 Pirates (by Bob Gibson).
1969 Mets (by Bob Moose).
1958 Yankees (by Hoyt Wilhelm).
1952 Yankees (by Virgil Trucks).
1940 Reds (Tex Carleton).
1917 White Sox twice (by Ernie Koob, Bob Groom).
Ricky Ledee homered in this game for the winning (and only run). Ledee, who also homered in David Cone's 1999 perfect game, became the first player to homer in two no-hitters since Charles Johnson (for Al Leiter on May 11, 1996 and for Kevin Brown on June 10, 1997).
But according to Elias' Randy Robles, Ledee is still one short of the modern record. The two players who have homered in three no-hitters since 1900:
Terry Pendleton -- Sept. 11, 1991 (combined), April 8, 1994 (Kent Mercker) and May 11, 1996 (Leiter).
Tim Wallach -- May 10, 1981 (Charlie Lea), April 21, 1984 (David Palmer, rain-shortened *) and Sept. 17, 1996 (Hideo Nomo).
(* -- Palmer's no-hitter isn't regarded as an "official" no-hitter because it wasn't a nine-inning game.)
Ledee was also just the fifth player in the last half-century (and ninth ever) to homer in a 1-0 no-hitter. The others to do it since 1953, according to Elias:
1991 Terry Pendleton, Braves (combined).
1968 Ron Hunt, Giants (Gaylord Perry).
1965 Leo Cardenas, Reds (Jim Maloney).
1958 Gus Triandos, Orioles (Hoyt Wilhelm).
Loyal reader Doug Greenwald reports that Barry Bonds was the first 600-homer man to be in the lineup in a game in which his team was no-hit. But all three of the other 600-plus homer men were in uniform for a no-hitter:
Hank Aaron had a day off in Phil Niekro's no-hitter for the 1973 Braves. Ditto Willie Mays in Bill Stoneman's 1972 hitter against the Giants. And Babe Ruth was a coach for the 1938 Dodgers team that was victim No. 2 in Johnny Vander Meer's back-to-back no-hitters.
If you caught this note in Wild Pitches last week, we apologize for repeating it. But it's still one of the weirdest no-hitter notes ever: The Giants' last three no-hitters have all come against Kevins (Millwood, Brown, Gross). So how come no other team has ever been no-hit by a pitcher named Kevin?
Finally, we know what you're wondering: What's the closest Maddux, Glavine or Smoltz has ever come to a no-hitter as a Brave? And the answer is ...
Maddux -- 7 no-hit IP vs. Houston on May 28, 1995 (Jeff Bagwell HR).
Glavine -- 6 1/3 no-hit IP vs. San Diego on Aug. 12, 1989 (Chris James HR).
Smoltz -- 8 1/3 no-hit IP vs. Philadelphia on May 27, (Lenny Dykstra double).
Really Useless Information.The annual Last Guy to Get a Hit competition is down to two contestants -- backup Angels catcher Jose Molina (0-for-4) and Milwaukee's Rule 5 pick, infielder Enrique Cruz (0-for-12).
But the big news in the LGTGAH derby is that the guy who would have won last year's competition, Gerald Williams, finally got his first big-league hit in 19 months.
Williams was 0-for-17 last year with the Yankees last year, and had out-0-fered every player on an Opening Day roster -- but then got released in June.
Boxscore Line of the Week
Box-score lines don't get much more bizarre than Ryan Dempster's April 30 line at Coors Field:
1 1/3 IP, 1 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 6 BB, 1 K, 50 pitches, 19 strikes.
Dempster was the first pitcher to give up seven runs on one hit since ... uh-oh ... himself, back on Oct. 5, 2001, against the Braves. His line that day was an almost identical 2/3-1-7-7-6-1, with 45 pitches and 14 strikes.
What made this start totally weird, though, was that he ripped through a 1-2-3 first inning on eight pitches (six strikes) in this game, then got one out on his next 41 pitches (13 strikes).
Quote of the day from Dempster: "That was terrible, just ridiculous. I should to go the Gulf Coast League -- or they should put me to sleep."
Finally this year, on April 20, three organizations later, he laid down a ninth-inning bunt single for the Marlins against his old teammate, Mike Stanton. Which ended an 0-for-15 stretch this year -- and an 0-for-35 skid since his previous big-league hit, on Sept. 21, 2001. He's still 0-for-22 this year when he swings away.
Miguel Tejada hit .161 in April. This just in: That ain't good. For anybody. But for an MVP, it's almost unheard of.
With the help of Elias and Retrosheet, we looked at all the MVP winners over the last 25 years. So that's 50 award-winners (actually 51, counting the NL MVP tie in 1979). Only three others had batting averages below the Mendoza Line the following April -- Barry Bonds in 1991 (.177), Ryne Sandberg in 1985 (.192) and Mike Schmidt in 1982 (.167).
Of the other 47 winners, two were hurt the next April, three were pitchers, 20 hit over .300, two hit over .400 (Frank Thomas in '95, Bonds in '93), and five more were over .290. The only AL MVP who even came close to submerging below .200 the next April was (surprise) George Brett, who barely topped .200 (.208) in 1981, following a season in which he almost topped .400.
That Roger Clemens-Barry Zito duel Sunday in New York marked only the fifth matchup since 1987 of the AL Cy Young winners from the previous two seasons -- and Clemens has been involved in all five of them. His loss to Zito dropped him to 2-2 in those mano-a-manos, with one memorable no-decision. Here are the previous four Cy Young-Cy Young showdowns:
June 14, 2000 -- Clemens (1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB) vs. Pedro Martinez (6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 7 K) in New York, a mega-hyped 2-1 Yankees win in which Clemens pulled the plug on the drama by leaving with a strained groin.
May 28, 2000 -- Clemens (9 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 13 K) vs. Pedro (9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 9 K) in Yankee Stadium, in the fabled Sunday Night ESPN game in which Trot Nixon's two-run homer off Clemens won it with two outs in the ninth.
July 13, 1989 -- Clemens (8 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 5 K) vs. Frank Viola (8 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 K) in Minnesota, a spectacular duel won by the Red Sox, 3-1, with two in the eighth.
July 31, 1987 -- Clemens (9 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 4 K) vs. Bret Saberhagen ((6 2/3 IP, 11 H, 4 R, 2 K, 3 HR) in Kansas City, in a game Ellis Burks led off with a home run and Clemens pitched with a lead from his first pitch to his last.
Incidentally, Zito now has matched up with Clemens four times in his brief career, counting the postseason -- and has a 1.38 ERA in those games (26 IP, 19 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 8 BB, 20 K).
Mike Cameron "celebrated" the first anniversary of his four-homer game in Chicago last Friday -- by homering in Chicago. But in between, there wasn't much to celebrate.
Cameron in the calendar year following his four-homer game: .237, 19 HR, 77 RBI.
In the previous year (counting the four-homer game): .266, 32 HR, 114 RBI.
So for curiosity sake, we decided to chart Shawn Green's year before and after his four-homer game last May 23.
Since (through Monday): .295, 37 HR, 100 RBI (but three weeks to go until the anniversary).
In the previous year (counting the four-homer game): .299, 48 HRs, 125 RBI.
They say it isn't how you start, it's how you finish. But tell it to Joe Kennedy. Kennedy gave up a hit to the first batter he faced last Friday (Detroit's Andres Torres), then threw nine hitless innings. He's the fifth pitcher since 1990 to do that on the way to a complete-game one-hitter. The others, courtesy of Elias:
Steve Trachsel, Cubs -- May 13, 1996 vs. Astros (hit to Brian Hunter).
Jack McDowell, White Sox -- July 14, 1991 vs. Brewers (hit to Paul Molitor).
Zane Smith, Pirates -- Sept. 5, 1990 vs. Mets (hit to Keith Miller).
Kevin Appier, Royals -- July 7, 1990 vs. Tigers (hit to Lou Whitaker).
But that was actually the Tigers' third semi-impossible loss in two days. The previous day, they'd been swept in a doubleheader by the Orioles in which the Game 1 winning pitcher (B.J. Ryan) never threw a pitch (picked off Omar Infante to end the seventh inning) and the Game 2 losing pitcher (Mike Maroth) took a no-hitter into the eighth.
According to the Orioles, who asked Stats Inc. to research Ryan's win, there have been no other games in at least the last 17 seasons in which the winning pitcher threw no pitches.
Then there was Expos pitcher Zach Day, who threw his first career shutout last Thursday in (what else?) a day game. So we wondered whether guys named Day actually do perform better during the day.
Well, no. Day is 2-1, 2.58 in his career in day games. But he's 5-1 at night. And the Day before him, legendary Expo Boots Day, hit .222 in day games recorded by Retrosheet -- but .255 at night.
By the way, it figures that the last big-leaguer named Knight (Ray) had a worse average at night (.265) than during the day (.287) in games tracked by Retrosheet.
Strange But True Dept.
Lance Berkman drove in four runs in April, then knocked in six in his first game in May.
Esteban Loaiza and Shawn Chacon, the pitchers of the month in April, allowed a combined nine earned runs in 70 2/3 innings in April. Then they combined to allow nine earned runs in 8 2/3 innings in their first start in May.
Last Thursday, Sammy Sosa hit his first extra-inning home run since 1997. This one was off Tim Worrell. The last one, in '97, was off Todd Worrell.
And hot on the historic heels of becoming the first Redman (Mark)-Redmond (Mike) battery in history, Redmond (Mike) pinch-hit for Redman (Mark) last Tuesday -- and thumped his first triple since April 5, 2000.
Finally, the king of our promotion-chronicling department, David Hallstrom, reports that Saturday was Bobby Hill Baseball Card Day at Wrigley Field. And while they were handing out those cards, Hill went 1-for-3 -- for the Iowa Cubs, where the Cubbies sent him after a rough spring training.
Once we get on these name-game rolls, we can't stop. Sorry. For the fourth time in his career, Casey Fossum pitched against the Royals last week -- and didn't win. So we had to know which of the three active Caseys performs best against K.C. Here goes:
Casey Fossum vs. K.C. -- 0-0, 5.40 in 4 games, 1 start.
Casey Blake vs. K.C. -- .278, 0 HR, 0 RBI in 18 AB.
And your winner: Sean Casey vs. K.C. -- .500 (12-for-24), 2 HR, 7 RBI.
Lots of strange stuff happened in that 20-inning game between the Marlins and Cardinals on April 27. But ESPN research whiz Mark Simon reports this one: The Marlins drew 16 walks in that game. They'd walked 15 times in their previous seven games combined.
By getting the game-winning hit in the 20th inning that day after going 0 for his first 9, Fernando Vina avoided joining the dreaded 0-for-10 Club. So who's in that club? Through the miracle of Retrosheet, we looked at every 20-inning game since 1972 and found only three 0-for-10ers:
Dodgers outfielder John Shelby (0-for-10, 2 K) vs. Houston in a 22-inning game on June 3, 1989.
Mets infielder Wayne Garrett (0-for-10, 4 K) vs. St. Louis in a 25-inning game on Sept. 11, 1974.
Twins infielder Danny Thompson (0-for-10, 2 K) vs. Milwaukee in a 22-inning game on May 12, 1972.
Then the Cardinals went home and scored 13 runs in back-to-back games against the Mets, propelling the Cardinals on an eight-game winning streak and continuing a five-game losing streak for the Mets. So we wondered: Is it as lucky for a team to score 13 in a row in two straight games as it is unlucky for the team that gives up 13 back-to-back?
Answer: Sure is.
According to Elias, the Cardinals were the eighth team since 1990 to score exactly 13 runs back-to-back against the same opponent. Of the other seven, five made the playoffs (2000 White Sox, 1999 Indians, 1998 Padres, 1996 Rockies, 1993 Braves). And of the two that didn't, the 1997 Rockies roared off on a 10-of-11 win blitz, and the 1995 Angels won eight of their next nine.
Of the previous seven teams to allow 13 back-to-back to the same opponent, only the 1996 Dodgers made the playoffs, but they blew a two-game lead over the Padres with three to play and wound up as the wild card.
Thirty games into the season, the Angels, Diamondbacks, Astros and Dodgers all had losing records. So they can decide whether it's good or bad news that, according to the East Valley (Ariz.) Tribune's Ed Price, of the 48 teams to make the playoffs in the wild-card age, seven had a losing record after 30 games. Those seven:
2002 Cardinals 14-16 (3½ out of 1st, 4½ out of wild card).
2001 Braves 13-17 (4 out of 1st, 3 out of wild card).
2001 A's 11-19 (12 out of 1st, 9½ out of wild card).
2000 A's 14-16 (2½ out of 1st, 3 out of wild card).
1996 Cardinals 14-16 (1 out of 1st, 3 out of wild card).
1995 Yankees 13-17 (6½ out of 1st, 5 out of wild card).
1995 Dodgers 13-17 (3 out of 1st, 5½ out of wild card).
Jim Edmonds mashed his third career walkoff home run just against the Mets, a team he hasn't faced very much, last Thursday. According to ESPN research genius Jeff Bennett, that makes him the third active player with three career walkoffs against one team. The others:
Jim Thome vs. Tigers.
Fred McGriff vs. Giants.
The great Edgar Martinez got his 2,000th hit last week. According to loyal reader Lee Sinins, creator of the stupendous Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia CD-Rom (www.baseball-encyclopedia.com), only three members of the 2,000 hit club got fewer hits in their 20s than Martinez's 561. Here are the top five in that fascinating category:
Player Hits before 30 Career hits
Sam Rice 426 2987
Tony Phillips 531 2023
Hal McRae 560 2091
Edgar Martinez 561 2000
Earl Averill 589 2020
Useless Minor-League Information.The wildest minor-league inning of the week took place Thursday in Trenton where, according to Philadelphia Inquirer minutiaeologist Don McKee, the Thunder batted around against Norwich -- without an official at-bat.
How'd they do that? Easy. Seven straight walks, a hit batter and a sacrifice fly. So their line for the inning was a spectacular SIX runs on NO hits and NO errors (and three left on).
Louisville right-hander Scott Randall, 27, is working on a 17-game winning streak back to last year. According to the Howe Sportsdata historians at SportsTicker, it's the longest winning streak in the minor leagues since Yankees prospect Geraldo Padua won 20 in a row from 1997-99.
In the first at-bat of his 203-game pro career, Richmond pitcher Travis Phelps drove in the game-winning run with a 12th-inning sacrifice fly against Norfolk last Monday.
Minor-league Names of the Week: San Antonio outfielder Jaime Bubela and Erie outfielder Noochie Varner.
The Sultan's Corner.After Barry Bonds tied Hank Aaron in multihomer games last week, we got to thinking about this fun, seldom-seen, home run category: Most Games Homered In. Because some guys hit home runs in one-game bunches more than others, it differs from the most-homer rankings. Here with the answer is the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR's David Vincent:
Player Games homered in Total homers
Hank Aaron 692 755
Babe Ruth 640 714
Willie Mays 593 660
Barry Bonds 556 622
Frank Robinson 531 586
Harmon Killebrew 526 573
Reggie Jackson 519 563
Mark McGwire 511 583
Mike Schmidt 500 548
Mickey Mantle 489 536
Ted Williams 481 521
Jimmie Foxx 477 534
Willie McCovey 474 521
Eddie Murray 470 504
Rafael Palmeiro 468 498
Ernie Banks 466 512
Eddie Mathews 462 512
Mel Ott 461 511
By the way, if you're looking for Sammy Sosa, he's "only" at 441 games homered in, thanks to his six three-homer games and 52 two-homer games.
As long as we're on the subject of guys who hit a lot of homers, last week's Cubs-Giants series was only the fourth in history in which a member of the 500-homer club (Sammy Sosa) and a member of the 600-homer club (Bonds) both went deep. Here's a very cool list, courtesy of the Sultan:
JUNE 17, 1970 AT SF -- Willie Mays hits No. 615. Ernie Banks hits No. 504.
MAY 8, 1971 AT SF -- Hank Aaron hits No. 604. Mays hits No. 634.
JUNE 23, 1972 AT LA -- Frank Robinson hits No. 513. JUNE 24 -- Aaron hits No. 652.
APRIL 30, 2003 AT SF -- Bonds hits Nos. 620-621. MAY 1 -- Sosa hits No. 505.
Darren Oliver loves his fellow pitchers. He must, or how do we explain this? Position players have come to the plate against him 137 times this year -- and he has allowed them one home run (to Eric Karros). But pitchers have come to the plate 14 times against him -- and he has allowed them two home runs (by Brian Lawrence and Carlos Zambrano).
Can he keep this up? Well, according to the Sultan, only three pitchers since the 1920s have given up more homers to pitchers than position players over a whole season (minimum: two HRs to pitchers). Here they are:
Pitcher Year Pitchers Fielders
Dennis Lamp 1977 2 1*
Nig Lipscomb 1937 2 1
Ben Shields 1925 2 0
(* -- Homers by Rick Rhoden, Larry Christenson, Mike Schmidt.)
And before we leave this topic of pitchers and their home run trots, three Cubs pitchers have hit a homer already -- Zambrano, Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. The record, according to the Sultan, is five -- accomplished only twice in the DH era, by the 1980 Pirates and 2002 Dodgers. Here are the staffs since 1973 on which four or more pitchers homered:
1980 Pirates 5 (Jim Bibby, Don Robinson, Rick Rhoden, Eddie Solomon, Jim Rooker).
2002 Dodgers 5 (Andy Ashby, Hideo Nomo, Odalis Perez, Omar Daal, Kevin Brown).
1973 Braves 4 (Carl Morton, Phil Niekro, Roric Harrison, Gary Neibauer).
1974 Giants 4 (John Montefusco, John D'Acquisto, Jim Barr, Ed Halicki).
1986 Giants 4 (Vida Blue, Mike LaCoss, Scott Garrelts, Steve Carlton).
Finally, on Sunday, we saw one of baseball's most prestigious records tied -- Most Gonzalezes Homering on One Day (Alex, Alex and Luis). Here, according to the Sultan, are the only other Gonzalez trifectas in history:
May 11, 1999 Juan, Luis and Alex (Marlins).
June 20, 2000 Juan, Alex (Blue Jays) and Alex (Marlins).
April 21, 2001 Juan, Luis and Alex (Marlins).
June 16, 2002 Luis, Alex (Cubs) and the immortal Wiki.
Question: The Tigers are one of six teams (not counting the Devil Rays) that haven't won a postseason game since the 1980s. Can you name the other five?
Answer: Royals, Brewers, Expos (the easy part), Cubs, Dodgers (the hard part).
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.