Year In Review : 2003 American League

O ff 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).

I n 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.

I n 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).

A round 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.

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

align="center">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

align="center">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



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@BaseballAlmanac18 Jan
Willie Mays, in 1955, had 51 HRs & 24 SB, 1st in #MLB history with a 50-20 season. Brady Anderson, born OTD1964, di… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac17 Jan
Carl Hubbell went 23-12 in '33, won MVP & signed a new contract OTD1934, a $6,000 raise. On #BaseballAlmanac, you c… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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TRIVIA TIME: He died OTD1965. He set the still-standing #MLB record for triples in a season by a rookie. [Answer:… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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OTD1974: The Baseball Writers' Association of America (@officialBBWAA) put Mickey Mantle & Whitey Ford in the Hall… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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Happy Birthday Brooks Conrad. Born OTD1980, he hit a walk-off super slam, making a little #MLB history, making a li… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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CURT FLOOD: OTD1970 he filed a $1 million lawsuit against Commish Kuhn & MLB, alleging violation of federal antitru… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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It's only "Haderade" days until Opening Day 2020! Number 71 has been worn 70 times, first by Johnny Hodapp in 1929.… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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NOT A TOPPS TYPO: Mike Marshall, born OTD1943, appeared in 106 games in 1974, setting NL / MLB record for most game… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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OTD1942: The President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, sent his "Green Light Letter" to the Commission… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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Baseball Movie Checklist: When "For The Love of the Game" was released, in 1999, we built this page, and we now hav… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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@expos_exposed You nailed it! The name stuck with him, and clearly inspired him to record the song later in his life.
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#TuesdayTrivia: You know who that future #HOF pitcher is on the left (@ClaytonKersh22), but did you know Kersh face… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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OTD1928: Alfred James Reach passed away. His business, A.J. Reach Company, was once the largest manufacturer of spo… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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Happy Birthday to Terry Forster. DYK he once appeared on the David Letterman show AND he once recorded a novelty so… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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You are welcome Kyle, and if we can EVER make that piece of cake even better, please don't hesitate to let us know… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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Bob Forsch: Born OTD1950. DYK he was the first pitcher in MLB history to win a Silver Slugger Award? Read about his… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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Searching through OLD issues of The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) courtesy of Newspapers (@_newspapers) to find a sol… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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Why is Bill Madlock happy? Because today is his birthday! And, he won four batting titles. And, he once made a litt… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac11 Jan
UPDATED: Patsy Tebeau. Added GREAT quote about his perspective on the way baseball should be played. Then, I integr… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac11 Jan
@rip_mlb @baseball_ref I appreciate you tagging us. We were using the date from his actual death certificate, but I… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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