Year In Review : 2004 National League

O ff the field...

The Olympics returned to their birthplace (Athens, Greece) amidst a stream of controversies involving the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs. Despite the resulting suspensions and stripped titles, many experts believed the 2004 Games would be remembered for the improvement in drug testing which allowed honest athletes to prevail. One Greek newspaper summed up the media's bemusement at the number of cheaters discovered with a cartoon depicting a young boy, with a gold medal round his neck, being surrounded by microphones saying: "I am only a volunteer, but everyone else has tested positive."

During the summer of 2004, North America, Central America and the Caribbean experienced one of the deadliest hurricane seasons ever recorded. During the months of August and September alone, four major storms (Jeanne, Ivan, Frances, Charley) pounded the southeastern part of the globe killing well over 2,000 people and leaving hundreds of thousands more homeless. As a result, a record setting number of tornadoes (173 in August, 247 in September) were also spawned as the left over tropical depressions moved inland and up the eastern coast. The total cost in damage from winds and flooding was estimated to run well into the multi-billions and was spread from the island of Haiti to upstate New York.

2004 also marked one of the most widely anticipated presidential elections in recent history. Republican President George W. Bush, son of former President Bush, made a run for a second term after being elected in the hotly contested 2000 campaign. At that time he was mid-way through his second term as governor of Texas, a position he assumed in 1994. Prior to running for governor he spent several years in the oil business and as the managing general partner of the Texas Rangers baseball team. His opponent, Democratic candidate Senator John Kerry was a decorated Vietnam War veteran who returned from the conflict to become one of the most outspoken opponents of the war. After entering politics in 1982, when he was elected lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, he ran for U.S. Senate on a campaign that refused contributions from political action committees. He was reelected in 1986, 1990, 1996 and 2002.

I n the American League...

Baltimore Oriole Miguel Tejada won the 2004 Home Run Derby after edging the Houston Astros' Lance Berkman with five homers in the final round. The All-Star shortstop set two MLB records in the process by hitting a total of twenty-seven round-trippers for the night and fifteen in the second round. Amazingly, Tejada's final five blasts came after five outs, half of the requisite total.

Seattle Mariners sensation Ichiro Suzuki broke George Sisler's 1920 single season hitting record during an 8-3 victory over the Texas Rangers. With fans still cheering, Suzuki ran to the first-base seats and shook hands with Sisler's 81-year-old daughter and other members of the Hall of Famer's family. After Suzuki's record breaking 258 th hit, he scored his 100 th run of the season when the Mariners batted around in the third, taking a 6-2 lead on six hits.

The Cleveland Indians scalped the New York Yankees with a record-setting 22-0 massacre on August 31 st . With the defeat, the Bombers lost their fifth consecutive game in the Bronx for the first time since May of 2003. The twenty-two runs allowed were the most ever given up by the Yankees in their home ballpark and the most runs allowed since 1928, when the Indians won a 24-6 decision (one of two eighteen-run defeats in New York history). The loss also tied the largest margin of defeat in a shutout since 1900, equaling the mark set in 1975 by the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 22-0 win over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

I n the National League...

San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds continued his relentless assault on the major league record books in 2004. His season highlights included: (September 17 th ) Hit his 700th career homer, off San Diego's Jake Peavy. (September 11 th ) Broke his own record for walks in a season and became the first player to earn two-hundred free passes in one campaign. (August 29 th ) Recorded his sixty-eighth career multi-homer game, passing Mark McGwire for second all-time. (August 13 th ) Singled in his 1,813 th run, passing Frank Robinson for fourteenth on the all-time RBI list. (July 10 th ) Broke his own record for intentional walks in a season with the first of three in the game. (July 8 th ) Passed Eddie Murray (5,397) for eighth place on the all-time total bases list. (July 4 th ) Received two walks from the Athletics to tie and break Rickey Henderson's all-time walks record. (June 13 th ) Hit his 500 th homer as a Giant. (June 12 th ) Homered off the 400 th different pitcher of his career, Baltimore's Rodrigo Lopez. (May 28 th ) Hit his tenth career walk-off homer, a two-run shot off Colorado's Tim Harikkala. (April 29 th ) Hit his 668 th career homer, giving him and his late father Bobby a combined one-thousand home runs. (April 17 th ) Scored his 2,063 rd run, putting him alone in seventh place all-time, with a solo homer off Los Angeles' Darren Dreifort. (April 13 th ) Hit his 661 st career homer, off Milwaukee's Ben Ford, to assume sole possession of third place on the all-time list. (April 12 th ) Hit his 660 th career homer, off Milwaukee's Matt Kinney, to tie godfather Willie Mays for third on the all-time list.

After enjoying a brief, seventy-eight day retirement, Roger Clemens returned to pitch with friend and former teammate Andy Pettitte on their hometown Houston Astros. For more than a year, "The Rocket" had insisted that 2003 would be his final season, but all bets were off after the Yankees lost the World Series and Pettitte left New York. Remarkably, the forty year-old, six-time Cy Young winner, returned better than ever becoming a NL Cy Young candidate en route to the National League Championship Series.

Randy Johnson, of the Arizona Diamondbacks, turned his back on the clock on his amazing career after pitching a perfect game against the Atlanta Braves on May 18 th . In doing so, the forty year-old became the first ace to toss a perfect game since David Cone of the New York Yankees accomplished the feat in 1999. He also became the oldest pitcher in baseball history to do so, followed by Cy Young who had reached perfection at the age of 37 in 1904. Johnson's masterpiece came in a 2-0 win at Turner Field that took only two hours and thirteen minutes to complete. Afraid to "jinx" the outcome, neither the scoreboard nor public address system noted the history in the making and only displayed Johnson's picture and stats after the final pitch had been made.

A round the league...

America's "National Pastime" returned to the capital for the first time in thirty-three years after Major League Baseball approved the relocation of the Montreal Expos to Washington DC. Ironically, the announcement came one day before the anniversary of the original Washington Senators' final game (before moving to Texas) in 1971. The relocation of the Expos was subject to certain contingencies, including a vote by team owners in November and passage of legislation by Washington's City Council to build a ballpark on the Anacostia River waterfront.

One day after the death of former baseball star Ken Caminiti (an admitted steroid user) U.S. lawmakers passed legislation allowing tighter government regulation of steroid precursors. In doing so, the Anabolic Steroid Control Act added androstenedione, norandrosterone and similar testosterone-production enhancing substances to a list of anabolic steroids regarded as controlled substances. Caminiti, who had played in the major leagues for fifteen years, died of an apparent heart attack at age forty-one. He had admitted to using steroids during his Most Valuable Player season in 1996, when he hit .326 with forty home runs and one-hundred thirty runs batted in for the San Diego Padres.

"I'm very proud of him (Greg Maddux) and I'm proud I had the opportunity to play with him. He was the epitome of consistency over his career. He's done a wonderful job to get to the point he's at. Those who know him will probably show much more excitement and emotion over it than he will. At some point, though, he'll break down and let everyone know what his career has meant to him. But I don't anticipate it at three-hundred."- New York Mets Pitcher / Former TeammateTom Glavine on MLB.com (August 7, 2004)
2004 National League Player Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

San Francisco

232

Batting Average

San Francisco

.362

Doubles

Milwaukee

53

Hits

Florida

221

Home Runs

Los Angeles

48

On Base Percentage

San Francisco

.609

RBI

Colorado

131

Runs

St. Louis

133

Slugging Average

San Francisco

.812

Stolen Bases

Milwaukee

70

Total Bases

St. Louis

389

Triples

Florida

12

Philadelphia

Pittsburgh

2004 National League Pitcher Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Montreal

9

ERA

San Diego

2.27

Games

San Francisco

89

Saves

Florida

47

St. Louis

Shutouts

Philadelphia

3

San Francisco

Strikeouts

Arizona

290

Winning Percentage

Houston

.818

Wins

Houston

20

2004 National League

Team Standings

Atlanta Braves

96 66 0 .593

--

$88,507,788

Philadelphia Phillies

86 76 0 .531

10

$93,219,167

Florida Marlins

83 79 0 .512

13

$42,118,042

New York Mets

71 91 0 .438

25

$100,629,303

Montreal Expos

67 95 0 .414

29

$43,197,500

St. Louis Cardinals

105 57 0 .648

--

$75,633,517

Houston Astros

92 70 0 .568 13 $74,666,303

Chicago Cubs

89 73 0 .549

16

$91,101,667

Cincinnati Reds

76 86 0 .469

29

$43,067,858

Pittsburgh Pirates

72 89 0 .447

$32,227,929

Milwaukee Brewers

67

94

0

.416

37½

$27,518,500

Los Angeles Dodgers

93 69 0 .574 -- $89,694,167

San Francisco Giants

91 71 0 .562 2 $82,019,167

San Diego Padres

87 75 0 .537 6 $54,639,503

Colorado Rockies

68 94 0 .420 25 $64,590,403

Arizona Diamondbacks

51 111 0 .315 42

$70,204,984

2004 National League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

San Francisco

705

Batting Average

St. Louis

.278

Doubles

Colorado

331

Hits

St. Louis

1,544

Home Runs

Chicago

235

On Base Percentage

San Francisco

.357

Runs

San Francisco

855

Slugging Average

St. Louis

.460

Stolen Bases

Milwaukee

138

Triples

Pittsburgh

39

2004 National League Team Review

Pitchin Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Montreal

11

ERA

Atlanta

3.74

Fewest Hits Allowed

Chicago

1,363

Fewest Home Runs Allowed

Pittsburgh

149

Fewest Walks Allowed

San Diego

422

Saves

St. Louis

57

Shutouts

Florida

14

Strikeouts

Chicago

1,346



The last National League pitcher to join the 300 Wins Club was Steve Carlton of the Philadelphia Phillies on September 23, 1983 . The Mad Dog, Greg Maddux , returned to the Cubs rotation and won his three-hundredth game on August 7, 2004, versus the San Francisco Giants .

On April 6, 2004, David Aardsma of the San Francisco Giants played in his first ever major league ballgame and as he stepped onto the field, he was booed loudly. Why? Aardsma alphabetically now replaces Hank Aaron at the top of the baseball biographical player list .

Ken Griffey, Jr. of the Cincinnati Reds joined the 500 Home Runs Club on June 20, 2004, putting three (3) of the four (4) active five-hundred home runs club members in the Naitional League in 2004 Barry Bonds , Ken Griffey, Jr. & Sammy Sosa .

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