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Follow live: Astros, Yankees square off in opening game of ALCS

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Tim Kurkjian Baseball Fix – Babe Ruth hit more home runs than entire teams

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You love baseball. Tim Kurkjian loves baseball. So while we await its return, every day we’ll provide you with a story or two tied to this date in baseball history.

ON THIS DATE IN 1935, Babe Ruth hit the final home run of his career.

That day in Pittsburgh, Ruth didn’t just hit home run No. 714. He also hit 712 and 713. His final three home runs came in the same game. He would play five more games, going 0-for-9; he was 40, he was fat, he was done. He retired as, at least statistically, the greatest player ever, a man whose power saved the game in the wake of the Black Sox scandal.

The full “On this date …” archive

The game was reeling in 1920, but Ruth brought it back with tape-measure homers and overwhelming charisma. He became the first player to glamorize the home run, hitting 54 that season, more than the next three home run hitters in the American League combined. Still, critics said he’d never hit that many again. In 1921, maybe the greatest season by any player ever, Ruth hit 59, with 177 runs scored, 168 RBIs and a 1.359 OPS.

“There’s only one greatest player ever,” said Paul Richards, who spent 55 years in the game, “and it’s Babe Ruth.”

Ruth was the first to hit 30, 40, 50 and 60 homers in a season. In 1921, he hit his 137th home run, passing Roger Connor as the all-time home run king: the next 577 only added to his record. When he retired with 714 home runs, no one in the game had half that many. In certain seasons, he hit more home runs than complete teams, from 1926 to 1932, he out-homered the Washington Senators, 343-327. Ruth finished with a career slugging percentage of .690. No active player has ever had a single-season slugging percentage of .690.

But Ruth was more than a slugger even though movies made about him depict him as a non-athletic clown; they turned the greatest player of all time into a cartoon character. Ruth was a great athlete. He was a great basketball player, quick and agile for a big man, He could run; he had 136 triples, more than any active player, and 130 more than Mark McGwire. Plus, Ruth was the best left-handed pitcher in the AL when he decided to become only a hitter. Ruth’s record for scoreless innings (29⅔) in World Series play lasted nearly 42 years. Ruth still has as many career shutouts as Pedro Martinez (17).

The final homer of his career that day in Pittsburgh was the first one ever to clear the right-field roof in the 26-year-old history of Forbes Field, a fitting finale to an amazing career. In 1982, I asked Burt Hawkins, a baseball writer who covered the game starting in the 1920s, to name the best player ever.

“Buddy boy,” he said, “I’ll take Babe Ruth, and you can have the next three.”

Other baseball notes for May 25

  • In 1981, the Rangers’ Bill Stein made it seven hits in seven consecutive at-bats as a pinch hitter.

  • In 1982, I saw Rangers manager Don Zimmer give Stein the hit-and-run with the bases loaded, the only time I’ve ever seen that call made. It did not end very well.

  • In 1935, author W.P. Kinsella was born. His brilliant book led to the making of the movie “Field of Dreams.” So many great lines and scenes. No, Ray, it was you.

  • In 1966, Dave Hollins was born. He was a good player, a good third baseman, but in 1993, he had an injured elbow. Of course, he played through it. But he had trouble making the throw to second on the double play. So, the Phillies turned two 5-4-3 double plays that year. And they won the pennant.

  • In 1979, pitcher Chris Young was born. Good pitcher, brilliant guy, great guy. And the tallest player (6-foot-10) in major league history to hit a triple.

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Who MLB’s most valuable players of the 2020s will be

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Usually, the ol’ ZiPS projection system gets a much-needed break at this time of the season. After all, there are actual games of baseball to talk about. Except with the 2020 season significantly delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic, all the games, at least of the MLB variety, are purely theoretical ones.

So why not look into future MLB seasons, which will consist of 162 games and a surfeit of toilet paper and hand sanitizer? One of the things I’ve tweaked in the ZiPS model the past few years is getting future MVP probabilities. Obviously, these can only envision the presence of current players; there’s no projection system (or person) alive who really knows if 14-year-old Jimmy who toilet-papered their house last Halloween will be a six-WAR phenom in 2028.

So, who will win the most MVP awards over the 2020s? It’s still a bit of a different question than who the best player will be; while the year-end awards are far closer to what advanced metrics say than they were even 10-15 years ago, things like Triple Crown stats do still have some sway among a good chunk of the voters.

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KBO Weekly — Dominant Dinos rule over Power Rankings

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The NC Dinos continue to make the KBO season look like a walk in Jurassic Park as they hold a firm grip on the top of the standings and our power rankings.

Here’s a look at what went down in KBO last week and what we’re looking forward to this week.

ESPN’s KBO Power Rankings

1. NC Dinos: 14-3 (Last week: 1) — The Dinos keep rolling along as they haven’t lost a series this season. Jin-Sung Kang in particular has been on a tear, with four homers, 15 RBIs and a 1.428 OPS (although he’s a few plate appearances shy of qualifying among the league leaders).

2. Doosan Bears: 10-7 (3) — It was a .500 week not only for the Bears (3-3), but for Jose Fernandez, who raised his average for the season to .500 (36-for-72), closing with a 7-for-12 spurt that included a six-RBI game Friday vs. Samsung.

3. LG Twins: 11-6 (4) — LG kept its momentum headed in the right direction behind the big bat of Roberto Ramos, whose league-high seventh home run was a walk-off grand slam Sunday as the Twins overcame a 7-4 deficit in the ninth against KT Wiz.

4. Kiwoom Heroes: 10-8 (2) — Not a great week for the Heroes, who had to scrape out an extra-innings win to take their series with last-place SK before dropping two of three to Lotte, making nine errors along the way.

5. Kia Tigers: 10-8 (8) — With Matt Williams at the helm, the Tigers have turned things around behind some solid pitching. In five wins last week, they gave up a total of seven runs.

6. Lotte Giants: 9-8 (5) — The Giants are living off their 5-0 start to the season as they had their second consecutive 2-4 week.

7. KT Wiz: 7-10 (6) — The Wiz, who started the year 1-7, are headed in the right direction thanks in part to Mel Rojas Jr., the son of the ex-MLB reliever. Rojas had four straight multihit games last week, bringing his average to .423 for the year, and the switch-hitter homered from both sides of the plate in consecutive at-bats Saturday.

8. Hanwha Eagles: 7-11 (9) — Despite one of the league’s worst offenses, Hanwha is treading water largely thanks to its top two pitchers — Min-woo Kim and Warwick Saupold, who have a 2.25 ERA and 0.96 WHIP over eight total starts.

9. Samsung Lions: 6-12 (7) — The Lions had their third straight 2-4 week, but they went out on a good note with a 13-0 win over hot-hitting Doosan behind former Phillies righty David Buchanan, who scattered nine hits over seven shutout innings.

10. SK Wyverns: 3-14 (10) — The Wyverns not only snapped a 10-game losing streak, they made it two wins for the week with a 12-inning victory over Kia on Sunday after having allowed the Tigers to tie it in the ninth.

(Selected by Joon Lee, Alden Gonzalez and Dan Mullen)

The week that was and what’s ahead

One thing to know that happened last week: We came within one out of having our first tie of the KBO season. With Sunday’s Wyverns-Tigers game tied at 3 in the bottom of the 12th inning, Soo-Kwang Noh grounded a two-out single into left field to make SK a 4-3 winner. By KBO rules, if the score had been even after 12 innings, the game would have gone in the books as a tie.

One thing to watch this week: As we watch to see if anyone can cool off the Dinos, watching NC ace Chang-mo Koo has become appointment viewing. Over three starts, Koo has a 0.41 ERA (one run in 22 innings), a 25/4 strikeout-to-walk ratio and has held opponents to a .111 batting average. He’s scheduled to face Kiwoom on Tuesday.

Viral moment of the week: Sok-min Park’s reaction to a call by the plate umpire probably wouldn’t go over too well in MLB.

Bat flip of the week: Si-hwan Noh has years to perfect his flip, but this isn’t bad for a youngster.

Chant of the week: Our own Eduardo Perez apparently made KBO history, but why stop there? Maybe he can make it to the top of the charts.

Most impressive stat of the week: Doosan’s Jose Fernandez has 36 hits through 17 games. For comparison, only two MLB players over the past 100 seasons have had 36 hits through 17 team games: Hank Aaron in 1959 and Stan Musial in 1958 (each had exactly 36).

KBO on ESPN broadcast schedule

Stream live KBO games and replays on WatchESPN

(All times ET; in addition to the game replays listed, all KBO League games on ESPN2 will also re-air leading directly into the next live game telecast.)

Tuesday, May 26

5:30 a.m.: ESPN2Samsung Lions vs. Lotte Giants (live)
2 p.m.: ESPN2 — Samsung Lions vs. Lotte Giants (rebroadcast)

Wednesday, May 27

5:30 a.m.: ESPN2SK Wyverns vs. Doosan Bears (live)
2 p.m.: ESPN2 — SK Wyverns vs. Doosan Bears (rebroadcast)

Thursday, May 28

5:30 a.m.: ESPN2Samsung Lions vs. Lotte Giants (live)
2 p.m.: ESPN2 — Samsung Lions vs. Lotte Giants (rebroadcast)

Friday, May 29

5:30 a.m.: ESPN2KT Wiz vs. Kiwoom Heroes (live)
2 p.m.: ESPN2 — KT Wiz vs. Kiwoom Heroes (rebroadcast)

Saturday, May 30

4 a.m.: ESPNKT Wiz vs. Kiwoom Heroes (live)

Sunday, May 31

1 a.m.: ESPNLotte Giants vs. Doosan Bears (live)



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