Sunday, August 7, 2016

Shields Are Down

What could go wrong? I can't count the number of ways.
You could be mauled or burned for starters.
You could still drown in knee-deep waters.
That's enough to hold up and  hide in this cave.
Shields, "Big Business"

It Bites: Could it get any worse? It did—once in the past 103 years.

Today, James Shields started against the Baltimore Orioles. He wasn't good.

Shields retired four batters. He also gave up home runs to four batters.

Shields was tagged for eight earned runs in just 60 pitches.

That's brutally bad, historically bad—almost worst-ever historically bad.

Shields finished the game with an impossibly-low game score of -15.

Recall that the game score of an average start is 50. A truly brilliant start would range from the 70s up to 100. A putrid washout would drop a guy's game score down to the 20s, maybe teens.

But almost before Robin Ventura could even finish one of his patented long yawns in the dugout, Shields's doleful drubbing had descended him to the historical depths of a -15 game score.

In baseball history dating back to 1913, there have only been 16 worse game scores than -15. And believe it or not, one of them was spun by a Pale Hose hurler, the famed Ted Lyons.

Jim Margalus at South Side Sox identified it, a 16-2 evisceration at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. It was a battle of third and fourth-place teams, but the Senators created just a bit  of separation between the two clubs by pounding Lyons, who was struggling through his rookie season. Washington jumped out 6-0 in the 1st, made it 12-0 by the 3rd, and led 16-0 before the South Siders finally put a two-spot on the board in the top of the 8th.

The White Sox committed a whopping seven errors in the loss, yet somehow 14 of Lyons' 16 runs were earned. It could have been even worse; Senators were nabbed in three of their four steal attempts.

Lyons went on to Hall of Fame election; this debacle was just the 20th in what would become a 484-start career. Lyons retired in 1942, notching a 5.1 bWAR and finishing 12th in MVP voting.

"Big Game James" is merely a hurler on his last legs, who has topped that age-41 season of Lyons' in bWAR only twice, and never finished higher than 16th in MVP voting.

The last word on Big Game James is best left to a namesake, James Fegan of BP Southside:
Whatever, it is over now and we are still alive.
Not without scars; Fegan sat in the center-field bleachers for the game.

Something tells me the current No. 25 jersey will not be immortalized here.

Oh, and Lyons also has had his No. 16 jersey retired by the White Sox. 

The last player to wear that jersey? Ken Williams.

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