Thursday, July 3, 2014

#244 Denny Neagle

About the Front: This is a pretty cool behind-home-plate angle of Denny Neagle winding up, with center field at Three Rivers Stadium looming behind him. I couldn't begin to guess whether the blurry quarter of a catcher in the foreground is Don Slaught, Mike LaValliere, or Tom Prince.

About the Back: Were there actually ten teams in the Big Ten in 1988? They're up to 14 members now. The NCAA drives me nuts.

Triple Play:

1. Neagle peaked in 1997, going a league-best 20-5 while posting a 2.97 ERA for the division-winning Braves. He walked only 49 batters in 233.1 innings and finished third behind Pedro Martinez and Atlanta teammate Greg Maddux in Cy Young voting.

2. Though Denny won just one postseason game in 13 career outings (seven starts), he had a solid 3.44 ERA in playoff and World Series action. That lone win was a four-hit shutout of the eventual World Champion Marlins in Game Four of the 1997 NLCS.

3. Here's a heading you don't want on your Wikipedia page: "Colorado Rockies, Tampa Bay Devil Rays and legal troubles". Most notably, in 2004 he was nabbed in Denver for soliciting a prostitute for oral sex (thereby allowing the Rockies to invoke a morals clause to void the last year of his five-year, $51 million contract).

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I took a good deal of pride in claiming Denny as a local player, even though I didn't know at the time where Gambrills was. Over the past few years, I've driven down Route 301 to visit friends in Southern Maryland way too many times. Now I can tell you that Gambrills is a hop, skip, and a jump away from Annapolis.

Bill James Said: "After briefly re-acquainting himself with minor league hotel rooms he remembered some things like throwing strikes and using his slider to change speeds, and pitched much better after his return (3.38 ERA over the second half)."

On This Date in 1993: July 3. "Curly Joe" DeRita, ancillary member of the Three Stooges, dies of pneumonia at age 83.

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