Year In Review : 2003 American League

Off the field...

After the U.N. repeatedly failed in its efforts to uncover weapons of mass destruction or identify links between Saddam Hussein and international terrorists, the United States and a group of coalition forces joined together for a pre-emptive strike aimed at disarming Iraq. On March 19 th , the U.S. launched what would become known as Operation "Shock and Awe" as a "decapitation attack" aimed at the Iraqi President and other top members of the country's leadership. More than forty satellite-guided Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from U.S. warships in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf with support from multiple squadrons of F-117 stealth fighters, carrying 2,000-pound bombs. Although the initial attack failed to eliminate Saddam, it only took twenty-one days for coalition forces to eliminate the Republican Guard and take the capital city of Baghdad. For the first time in history, people from around the world were able to watch the war effort live via embedded war journalists and strategically placed web cams.

Tragedy struck the NASA Space Program after the space shuttle Columbia broke up during re-entry fifteen minutes before its scheduled landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Those killed on the ill-fated flight were commander Rick D. Husband; pilot William C. McCool; payload commander Michael P. Anderson; mission specialists David M. Brown, Kalpana Chawla and Laurel Clark; as well as Israel's first astronaut, Ilan Ramon. An investigation into the explosion later revealed that a piece of foam designed to protect the vehicle from heat had dislodged during take-off, striking the left wing. Columbia, the oldest of NASA's shuttle fleet, had first launched in 1981 and was completing its twenty-eighth mission. Ironically, the accident occurred less than a week after the anniversaries of two other deadly space program disasters: the seventeenth anniversary of the explosion of the shuttle Challenger (January 28) and the thirty-sixth anniversary of a launch pad fire that killed three Apollo astronauts (January 27).

In the American League...

New York Yankees ace Roger Clemens joined one of the most exclusive clubs in sports after becoming the twenty-first pitcher in Major League history to win three-hundred games. After announcing his intentions to retire at the end of the 2003 season, Clemens went on to complete his quest for three-hundred by defeating the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-2, in front of a sold-out crowd at Yankee Stadium. In doing so "The Rocket" became the first pitcher since Nolan Ryan in 1990 to reach three-hundred wins, tying Hall-of-Famers Early Wynn and Lefty Grove for nineteenth place on the all-time victory list. Later he joined another "pitching fraternity" after striking out the four-thousandth batter of his career. Only Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Steve Carlton (4,136) had more strikeouts than Clemens (to date), who had ten on the night. Ironically, Carlton had also won his three-hundredth against the Cardinals in 1983.

The ongoing rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees came to a head during Game 3 of the American League Championship Series after both dugouts emptied twice due to what some felt was "overly-aggressive" pitching. The ensuing argument was first instigated after Boston ace Pedro Martinez struck Yankees' designated hitter Karim Garcia in the back and was fueled by Manny Ramirez who took offense to a high pitch thrown by Roger Clemens. As both dugouts cleared, New York's bench coach Don Zimmer charged at Martinez who promptly reacted by throwing the sevent-two year-old to the ground. After several minutes of suspended play, both teams went back to business until a second brawl erupted in the Yankees bullpen between Jeff Nelson, Garcia and a member of Fenway Park's grounds crew. Following the 4-3 Yankees victory, Major League Baseball issued fines to Martinez, Ramirez, Garcia and Zimmer while the Boston Police issued additional charges on Garcia and Nelson for their involvement in the bullpen altercation.

In the National League...

The entire baseball world was shocked after one of its most beloved athletes Sammy Sosa was ejected in the first inning of a Chicago Cubs versus Tampa Bay Devil Rays game after umpires found cork in his shattered bat. Sosa, who had recently joined the five-hundred home run club and gained national prominence in 1998 during his home-run battle with Mark McGwire, apologized to fans, his teammates and the Commissioner of Baseball. Stating that the corked bat had been strictly used for batting practice and mistakenly taken to the plate, Sosa received a seven-game suspension following an appeal. Sosa's other bats, which had been confiscated by security personnel and turned over to Major League Baseball, showed no signs of tampering. Still, many doubted the integrity of Sammy's previous accomplishments and it would be some time before he would be back in the fan's favor.

Los Angeles Dodgers closer Eric Gagne set a new Major League record after converting fifty-five saves to top Boston's Tom Gordon, who had previously converted fifty-four in a row from April 19, 1998, to June 5, 1999. Practically "un-hittable" throughout the season, Gagne had increased the velocity on his fastball from ninety-two miles-per-hour to ninety-seven and complemented it with a hard eighty-seven mile-per-hour changeup that dropped much like a split-finger pitch. His forty-first consecutive win gave him the longest saves streak to start a season in Major League history and he also became the first relief pitcher in history to tally one-hundred more strikeouts (137) than hits allowed (37).

Around the League...

Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler collapsed at the team's spring training complex in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on February 16 th and died the next day. Following an autopsy, it was determined that the twenty-three year-old had suffered a "heart attack-like event" after taking a dietary supplement containing ephedra. His widow later filed a $600 million lawsuit against the manufacturers while bringing national attention to the dangers of using potentially harmful weight loss aids. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, called the product Xenadrine RFA-1 a "poisonous cocktail" unsafe for human consumption.

Major League Baseball's marketing division attempted to restore the fan's faith in the All-Star Game and make amends for the 2002 debacle that had ended in a 7-7 tie after both leagues ran out of available pitchers. To add more meaning to the fledgling exhibition, the 2003 Midsummer Classic slogan read "This Time It Counts" and for the first time in professional baseball history, home-field advantage in the World Series would be granted to the winner. The enticing proposal initially appeared to be more than just a marketing ploy as the last team to overcome the "home-field curse" was the Pittsburgh Pirates, who had beaten the odds (and the Baltimore Orioles) while away in 1979. However, despite winning 7-6, the American League later proved that home-field advantage was overrated after the Florida Marlins toppled the New York Yankees in Game 6 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium.

After years of less-than-stellar ratings, record audiences finally tuned in to the Major League Baseball postseason, making it the most-watched playoffs ever on cable. Fans also flocked to the ballparks setting a new attendance mark with over 1,858,979 tickets sold. Many attributed this renewed interest to the playoff's storybook backdrop that featured two of baseball's most beloved underdogs, the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs. Both teams had surprised the experts by making the post season and each continued to shock their opponents by battling back in their respective leagues time and time again. After surviving the Divisional round, generations of long-suffering fans from both ball clubs reveled in the possibility that the curse of both "The Bambino" and "The Goat" was finally coming to an end. The baseball god's apparently had other plans and both teams fell just five heartbreaking outs short of making it to the Series.

Baseball Almanac Top Quote

"George Steinbrenner cares about one thing: winning. Everything about him — his checkbook, charm and formidable will — serves that goal. This is a man who peppers sports talk with quotes from Douglas MacArthur, declaring, 'Victory is essential.' " - Stuart Miller in The Sporting News

2003 American League Player Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls
New York
129
Batting Average
Boston
.326
Doubles
Anaheim
49
Toronto
Hits
Toronto
215
Home Runs
Texas
47
On Base Percentage
Boston
.427
RBI
Toronto
145
Runs
Texas
124
Slugging Average
Texas
.600
Stolen Bases
Tampa Bay
55
Total Bases
Toronto
373
Triples
Minnesota
14

2003 American League Pitcher Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games
Chicago
9
Toronto
Oakland
ERA
Boston
2.22
Games
Toronto
79
Saves
Oakland
43
Shutouts
Toronto
2
Oakland
Anaheim
Oakland
Seattle
Strikeouts
Chicago
207
Winning Percentage
Toronto
.759
Wins
Toronto
22

2003 American League

Team Standings

New York Yankees 101 61 1 .623 -- $152,749,814
Boston Red Sox 95 67 0 .586 6 $99,946,500
Toronto Blue Jays 86 76 0 .531 15 $51,269,000
Baltimore Orioles 71 91 1 .438 30 $73,877,500
Tampa Bay Devil Rays 63 99 0 .389 38 $19,630,000
Minnesota Twins 90 72 0 .556 -- $55,505,000
Chicago White Sox 86 76 0 .531 4 $51,010,000
Kansas City Royals 83 79 0 .512 7 $40,518,000
Cleveland Indians 68 94 0 .420 22 $48,584,834
Detroit Tigers 43 119 0 .265 47 $49,168,000
Oakland Athletics 96 66 0 .593 -- $50,260,834
Seattle Mariners 93 69 0 .574 3 $86,959,167
Anaheim Angels 77 85 0 .475 19 $79,031,667
Texas Rangers 71 91 0 .438 25 $103,491,667
2003 American League Final Standings

2003 American League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

162
5,487
736
1,473
276
33
150
687
2,265
476
838
129
61
.330
.413
.268
163
5,665
743
1,516
277
24
152
695
2,297
431
902
89
36
.323
.405
.268
162
5,769
961
1,667
371
40
238
932
2,832
620
943
88
35
.360
.491
.289
162
5,487
791
1,445
303
19
220
766
2,446
519
916
77
29
.331
.446
.263
162
5,572
699
1,413
296
26
158
660
2,235
466
1,062
86
61
.316
.401
.254
162
5,466
591
1,312
201
39
153
553
2,050
443
1,099
98
63
.300
.375
.240
162
5,568
836
1,526
288
39
162
781
2,378
476
926
120
42
.336
.427
.274
162
5,655
801
1,567
318
45
155
755
2,440
512
1,027
94
44
.341
.431
.277
163
5,605
877
1,518
304
14
230
845
2,540
684
1,042
98
33
.356
.453
.271
162
5,497
768
1,398
317
24
176
742
2,291
556
898
48
14
.327
.417
.254
162
5,561
795
1,509
290
33
139
759
2,282
586
989
108
37
.344
.410
.271
162
5,654
715
1,501
298
38
137
678
2,286
420
1,030
142
42
.320
.404
.265
162
5,664
826
1,506
274
36
239
799
2,569
488
1,052
65
25
.330
.454
.266
162
5,661
894
1,580
357
33
190
853
2,573
546
1,081
37
25
.349
.455
.279
2003 American League Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

2003 American League Team Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

77
85
4.28
162
5
9
39
1,431.1
1,444
743
680
190
76
486
980
71
91
4.76
163
9
3
41
1,449.2
1,579
820
767
198
80
526
981
95
67
4.48
162
5
6
36
1,464.2
1,503
809
729
153
76
488
1,141
86
76
4.17
162
12
4
36
1,431.0
1,364
715
663
162
53
518
1,056
68
94
4.21
162
5
7
34
1,459.1
1,477
778
682
179
64
501
943
43
119
5.30
162
3
5
27
1,438.2
1,616
928
847
195
56
557
764
83
79
5.05
162
7
10
36
1,438.2
1,569
867
808
190
66
566
865
90
72
4.41
162
7
8
45
1,462.0
1,526
758
716
187
50
402
997
101
61
4.02
163
8
12
49
1,462.0
1,512
716
653
145
49
375
1,119
96
66
3.63
162
16
14
48
1,441.2
1,336
643
582
140
54
499
1,018
93
69
3.76
162
8
15
38
1,441.0
1,340
637
602
173
54
466
1,001
63
99
4.93
162
7
7
30
1,436.2
1,454
852
787
196
95
639
877
71
91
5.67
162
4
3
43
1,433.1
1,625
969
903
208
63
603
1,009
86
76
4.69
162
14
6
36
1,435.0
1,560
826
748
184
57
485
984
2003 American League Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
Seasonal Events: All-Star Game | All-Star Game | All-Star Game | World Series
Navigation: Year in Review Menu | Previous Season | Next Season
Miscellaneous: N.L. Leaderboard
Retirements | Rookies List
Average Salary: $2,555,476.00
Minimum Salary: $300,000.00
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baseball almanac fast facts

American League fans know that the 2003 Detroit Tigers broke the junior circuit record for games lost during a season , but did you know they also set a new record for most games behind the Central Division leader? Their forty-seven games behind mark surpassed that set by the 1995 Minnesota Twins who finished forty-four games behind the 1995 Cleveland Indians .

On June 29, 2003, Eric Byrnes became the fifteenth Oakland Athletics' player to hit for the cycle ( click here for the full list ), but not without some drama. A single, a double and a home run were "in the books" only to be followed by another double in the seventh inning. The ninth inning triple made it all possible and Byrnes commented after the game, "At first, I was just hoping the ball was going to fall. Once the ball fell in and got by him (a sliding Carlos Valderrama ), obviously, I was thinking triple. It's hard to describe the feeling that went through my body at that point. I just kind of got the chills, especially when I got the ovation."

2003 batting champion Bill Mueller became only the tenth American League player to hit two grand slams in the same game went he went deep with the bases loaded on July 29, 2003, during the seventh & eighth inning.

Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac55m
@Dylan_716 During that exact moment, I was literally getting an "attack" to a script. My host shut down my servers,… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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@tgpschmenk 🤓 - the update took me a little more than an hour, and after I literally confirmed every single one of… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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@paddy0_bronx We do sir. Scroll down a bit. We go pitching stats, hitting stats, fielding stats, then have base run… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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JayGlenda Glenn asked on FB, "were are all these picthers or were any of these position players coming in to finish… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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Updated: Adrián Zabala. #LHP with #NewYork #Giants in 1945 & 1949. Born in #Cuba. Suspended for playing the Mexican… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac04 Apr
UPDATED: Masahiro Tanaka, OTD2014, surrendered HR to 1st batter [baseball-almanac.com/feats/feats23.…], during debut. Today, I a… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac03 Apr
UPDATED: We discovered 38 players who STOLE HOME TEN-OR-MORE TIMES in their CAREER [baseball-almanac.com/recbooks/rb_st…]. We re… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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Was it cork? (🤨) Was it a Wham-O-Ball? (🤣) Here at #BaseballAlmanac, we simply miss watching #baseball games. Image… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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RIP 😢: Bob Lee [baseball-almanac.com/players/player…]. RHP (1964-1968) with #Angels, #Dodgers, #Reds. Updated: Added died on dat… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac31 Mar
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