2008 Major League Baseball season

The 2008 Major League Baseball season began on March 25, 2008 in Tokyo, Japan with the 2007 World Series champion Boston Red Sox defeating the Oakland Athletics at the Tokyo Dome 6-5 (in 10 innings) in the first game of a two-game series, [ [http://oakland.athletics.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071026&content_id=2283518&vkey=news_oak&fext=.jsp&c_id=oak A's likely to open '08 in Japan] from [http://mlb.com/ MLB.com] ] [ [http://oakland.athletics.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2008_03_25_bosmlb_oakmlb_1#boxscore Boston-Oakland box score] , March 25, 2007] and ended on September 30 with the host Chicago White Sox defeating the Minnesota Twins in a one-game playoff to win the AL Central division. The Civil Rights Game, an exhibition, in Memphis, Tennessee took place March 29 when the New York Mets beat the Chicago White Sox, 3–2.

The All-Star Game was played on July 15 at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, New York, with the AL winning 4-3 in 15 innings. The road to the World Series began on October 1 with the League Division Series, then came the League Championship Series which started on October 9, then to be followed by the Fall Classic beginning October 22. If the 2008 World Series goes the full seven game limit, the season (barring postponements due to inclement weather) would end October 30.

Final 2008 Standings

American League

X - Clinched Division Title Y - Clinched Wild Card Z - Clinched Home Field Advantage

National League

Y - Clinched Wild Card X - Clinched Division Title Z - Clinched Home Field Advantage

Playoffs

Teams

*On September 10, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim became the first team to punch their ticket to October, coupled with a win over the New York Yankees and a Texas Rangers loss to the Seattle Mariners, giving them the AL West title. The Angels clinched home field on September 26 when the Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Detroit Tigers.
*On September 20, the Chicago Cubs became the second team to get their passport to October with a win over the St. Louis Cardinals, clinching only their fifth divisional title in team history. This will mark the first time since 1907 and 1908 that the Cubs will be in consecutive postseasons, the latter two being part of a three year streak which began in 1906. Two days later, the Cubs clinched the home field advantage through the National League Playoffs by beating the New York Mets. Also on September 20th, the Tampa Bay Rays guaranteed a spot in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history by beating the Minnesota Twins at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay won its first American League East title six days later.
*On September 23, the Boston Red Sox clinched a playoff spot, their fifth in the last six years. The Red Sox' win also eliminated the Yankees from the post-season for the first time since 1993, ending the 13-year streak the team had of being in the playoffs. On September 26, the Yankees handed the Rays the American League East title by beating the Red Sox by a 19-8 score, making Boston the Wild Card.
*On September 25, the Los Angeles Dodgers clinched the National League West when the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 12-3 at Busch Stadium.
*On September 27, the Philadelphia Phillies clinched the National League East title for the second straight year with their win over the Washington Nationals, 4-3. This marks the first time they would play in consecutive postseasons since the 1980 and 1981 seasons, the 1981 appearance made possible by the split season due to the players' strike.
*The Milwaukee Brewers clinched the NL Wild Card with a 3-1 win over the Chicago Cubs, while the Florida Marlins, on the final day of the season for the second straight year eliminated the New York Mets from post-season contention in the final game played at Shea Stadium, 4-2. The previous season, the Marlins beat the Mets while the Phillies beat the Nationals on the last day to knock the Mets out of the postseason as the Phillies won the NL East.
*The Chicago White Sox beat the Minnesota Twins in a one-game playoff by 1-0 at U.S. Cellular Field on September 30, becoming the winner of the American League Central.Note: Major League Baseball's playoff format does not allow the No. 1 seed to play the Wild Card winner in the Division Series if they are from the same division, instead having the No. 1 seed play the next lowest seed, the No. 3 seed. Hence, Milwaukee and the Chicago Cubs did not face each other in the NLDS.

League Division Series

:In scores, home teams are in "italics", winning team is boldface.

American League

*(1) Los Angeles Angels vs. (4) Boston Red Sox:Boston wins series 3-1::10/1 - Red Sox 4, "Angels" 1::10/3 - Red Sox 7, "Angels" 5::10/5 - Angels 5, "Red Sox" 4 (12 innings)::10/6 - "Red Sox" 3, Angels 2

*(2) Tampa Bay Rays vs. (3) Chicago White Sox:Tampa Bay wins series 3-1::10/2 - "Rays" 6, White Sox 4::10/3 - "Rays" 6, White Sox 2::10/5 - "White Sox" 5, Rays 3::10/6 - Rays 6, "White Sox" 2

National League

*(1) Chicago Cubs vs. (3) Los Angeles Dodgers:L. A. Dodgers win series 3-0::10/1 - Dodgers 7, "Cubs" 2::10/2 - Dodgers 10, "Cubs" 3::10/4 - "Dodgers" 3, Cubs 1
*(2) Philadelphia Phillies vs. (4) Milwaukee Brewers:Philadelphia wins series 3-1::10/1 - "Phillies" 3, Brewers 1::10/2 - "Phillies" 5, Brewers 2::10/4 - "Brewers" 4, Phillies 1::10/5 - Phillies 6, "Brewers" 2

League Championship Series

::"All Times US EDT"

American League

*(2) Tampa Bay Rays vs. (4) Boston Red Sox:"Boston leads series, 1-0."::10/10 - Boston 2, "Tampa Bay" 0::10/11 - at Tampa Bay, 8:22 PM::10/13 - at Boston, 4:22 PM::10/14 - at Boston, 8:22 PM::10/16 - at Boston, 8:22 PM*::10/18 - at Tampa Bay, 4:22 PM/8:22 PM*::10/19 - at Tampa Bay, 8:22 PM*

National League

*(2) Philadelphia Phillies vs. (3) Los Angeles Dodgers:"Philadelphia leads series, 2-0."::10/9 - "Phillies" 3, Dodgers 2::10/10 - "Phillies" 8, Dodgers 5::10/12 - at L. A. Dodgers, 8:22 PM::10/13 - at L. A. Dodgers, 8:22 PM::10/15 - at L. A. Dodgers, 8:22 PM*::10/17 - at Philadelphia, 8:22 PM*::10/18 - at Philadelphia, 8:22 PM*

2008 World Series

:"All telecasts will start at 8 PM US EDT."::10/22 - at Rays/Red Sox::10/23 - at Rays/Red Sox::10/25 - at Phillies/Dodgers::10/26 - at Phillies/Dodgers::10/27 - at Phillies/Dodgers*::10/29 - at Rays/Red Sox*::10/30 - at Rays/Red Sox*

* - If necessary.

League leaders

American League

Batting leaders

Pitching leaders

multicol-end

Accomplishments

Career milestones

*Iván Rodríguez, at the time a catcher for the Detroit Tigers, but currently with the New York Yankees, recorded his 2,500th hit April 9 against the Boston Red Sox. [cite web|url=http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/recap?gameId=280409102|title=ESPN - Tigers vs. Red Sox - Recap - April 09, 2008 ]
*John Smoltz of the Atlanta Braves recorded his 3,000th strikeout against Felipe López of the Washington Nationals April 22. [cite web|url=http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080422&content_id=2569411&vkey=news_atl&fext=.jsp&c_id=atl|title=The Official Site of The Atlanta Braves: News: Smoltz enters exclusive 3,000 K-Zone ]
*Kenny Rogers of the Detroit Tigers became the all-time career pickoff leader with 92. On May 9, Rogers picked off Wilson Betemit of the New York Yankees, passing Mark Langston. [cite web|url=http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/recap?gameId=280509106|title=sports.espn.go.com/mlb/recap?gameId=280509106 ]
*Greg Maddux, at the time with the San Diego Padres but since becoming a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, recorded his 350th career win against the Colorado Rockies on May 10. [cite web|url=http://mlb.mlb.com/news/gameday_recap.jsp?ymd=20080510&content_id=2678080&vkey=recap&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb|title=The Official Site of Major League Baseball: News: Major League Baseball News ]
*Brad Ausmus of the Houston Astros recorded his 1,500th hit on May 12 against the Giants. Along with his 101 stolen bases, he became 1 of 8 catchers in MLB history that have achieved at least 1,500 hits and 100 stolen bases.
*Omar Vizquel of the San Francisco Giants played his 2,584th game as a shortstop on May 25, breaking the record previously held by Luis Aparicio. [cite web|url=http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080524&content_id=2763041&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb|title=The Official Site of Major League Baseball: News: Vizquel breaks shortstop record ]
*Philadelphia Phillies left handed pitcher Jamie Moyer became the sixth pitcher in Major League Baseball history to defeat all 30 teams on May 26 by defeating the Rockies 20–5. [cite web | title = Utley drives in six as Phils pound Rox | publisher = Phillies | url = http://mlb.mlb.com/news/gameday_recap.jsp?ymd=20080526&content_id=2776620&vkey=recap&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb | accessdate = 2008-06-06]
*Manny Ramírez, who was a member of the Boston Red Sox hit his 500th career home run off of Chad Bradford of the Baltimore Orioles on May 31. Ramírez became the 24th player to hit 500 career home runs. [cite web|url=http://sports.myway.com/news/05312008/v0146.html|title=sports.myway.com/news/05312008/v0146.html ] Ramírez was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-way trade that also involved the Pittsburgh Pirates in July. Ramirez then recorded his 500th double, and became the first player to record fifty RBIs in the same season in both leagues.
*Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks recorded his 4,673rd career strikeout when he struck-out Mike Cameron of the Milwaukee Brewers on June 3. With this strikeout, Johnson passed Roger Clemens for 2nd on the All-time Career Strikeout Leaders. [cite web|url=http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080603&content_id=2831374&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb|title=mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080603&content_id=2831374&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb ]
*Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves hits his 400th career home run on June 5 off of Ricky Nolasco of the Florida Marlins
* Ken Griffey, Jr., at the time a member of the Cincinnati Reds, hit his 600th career home run on June 9, a two-run shot off Mark Hendrickson of the Florida Marlins, becoming only the sixth player to reach this plateau. On July 3, Griffey hit a home run off of Jason Bergmann that gave him 5,000 career total bases, becoming the 18th player to do so. Griffey, who was since traded to the Chicago White Sox on July 31st, hit his 610th career home run on September 23rd, passing former White Sox player Sammy Sosa for fifth on the all-time list. He's also hit his 500th double as a member of the South Siders.
*Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals hit his 300th career home run on July 4, a screaming line drive against the left field foul pole off the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium. Also in the season, he recorded his 1,500th hit. He also became the third player in Major League history to begin his career with eight straight 100-RBI seasons, joining Hall of Famers Al Simmons and Ted Williams. [ [http://stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080911&content_id=3459160&vkey=news_stl&fext=.jsp&c_id=stl Pujols drives in 100 for the 8th straight year] ]
*Carl Crawford of the Tampa Bay Rays stole his 300th career base on July 7 against the Kansas City Royals, making him only the ninth player in history to steal that many before age 27. [cite web|url=http://tampabay.rays.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080707&content_id=3085312&vkey=news_tb&fext=.jsp&c_id=tb|title=Crawford steals 300th base vs. Royals|publisher=MLB.com|accessdate=2008-07-08]
*Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees hit his 200th home run. [cite web|url=http://www.nj.com/yankees/index.ssf/2008/07/yankees_jeter_hits_200th_home.html|title=Yankee's Jeter hits 200th home run|accessdate=2008-08-05]
*Jonathan Papelbon of the Boston Red Sox recorded his 100th career save on July 13 against the Baltimore Orioles [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/stats?playerId=6373 ESPN - Jonathan Papelbon Stats, News, Photos - Boston Red Sox ] ]
*Grady Sizemore of the Cleveland Indians hits his 100th home run and stole his 100th base.Fact|date=July 2008
*Jeff Kent of the Los Angeles Dodgers passed 1500 RBI. [cite web | url=http://www.upi.com/Sports_News/2008/07/20/MLB_Arizona_3_LA_Dodgers_2/UPI-47661216528467/ | title=MLB: Arizona 3, LA Dodgers 2 | accessdate=2008-08-01 | publisher=UPI | date=2008-07-20]
*Ichiro Suzuki broke the Seattle Mariners franchise record for stolen bases of 290 previously held by Julio Cruz. He also recorded his 3,000th hit when combining his records in MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball, Japan's major league.
*Mike Mussina of the New York Yankees recorded his first 20 win season at the age of 39, becoming the oldest player to do so for the first time.

Team milestones

*The Philadelphia Phillies notched two 20-run games in one season for their first time since 1900.Fact|date=October 2008
*The Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres played a game that took 22 innings to complete on April 17 at Petco Park, lasting 6 hours, 16 minutes, marking the longest game (in terms of innings played) in the history of both franchises. The Rockies won 2-1. [cite web |url=http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SDN/SDN200804170.shtml |title=April 17, 2008 Colorado Rockies at San Diego Padres Play by Play and Box Score - Baseball-Reference.com ] The Padres would later play another long home game on May 25, this time an 18-inning affair against the Cincinnati Reds. The game, which ran five hours, 57 minutes was the longest game (time wise) in the Reds' history.
*The Chicago Cubs won their 10,000th National League game on April 23, [cite web |url=http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2008_04_23_chnmlb_colmlb_1&mode=wrap |title=Cubs notch 10,000 victory |accessdate=2008-06-18 |publisher=mlb.com |date=2008-04-23] defeating the Colorado Rockies 7–6 in 10 innings. The Cubs also won 77 games during their time in the National Association (1871-1875), a predecessor of the National League, but those wins are not counted by Major League Baseball. The San Francisco Giants are the only other professional sports team with more than 10,000 wins, having reached that milestone in 2005.
*The St. Louis Cardinals achieved a franchise record of 18 wins for the month of April. [cite web |url=http://mlb.mlb.com/news/gameday_recap.jsp?ymd=20080430&content_id=2615228&vkey=recap&fext=.jsp&c_id=stl |title=Cards notch club-record 18 April win |accessdate=2008-06-05 |publisher=mlb.com |date=2008-04-30 ]
* The Florida Marlins had their best start in franchise history, with a record of 22–14.Fact|date=May 2008
*The Tampa Bay Rays had their best start in franchise history, with a record of 55–32, 23 games over .500. Along with their best start, they are the first team since 1900 with the worst record in baseball the previous year to have the best record on July 4. [cite web |url=http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/recap?gid=280704130 |title=Jackson’s pitching, Pena’s hitting pace Rays win |accessdate=2008-07-08 |publisher=Yahoo! Sports |date=2008-07-04] On August 10, the Rays earned their 71st victory in a 11–4 win over the Seattle Mariners. This bests the franchise's previous best of 70 wins in 2004. They would ultimately win 97 games by the end of the regular season, 27 more then their previous record. The Rays reached the postseason for the first time in the Franchise's history.
*On August 12, the Boston Red Sox scored ten runs in the first inning, but had to come from behind to beat the Texas Rangers, who had overcome two ten-run deficits in this game, by a score of 19-17. On September 8, the Red Sox set a Major League Baseball record for the longest consecutive streak of home-park sellout games with their 456th consecutive sellout.Fact|date=October 2008 The previous record had been held by the Cleveland Indians, who sold out 455 games between June 12, 1995 and April 2, 2001.Fact|date=October 2008 The streak began on May 15, 2003, in a 14-3 blowout against the Texas Rangers. The Red Sox are only the fourth team to sell out every home game of an entire season, the others being the 1996 Colorado Rockies and the 2000 San Francisco Giants.Fact|date=October 2008
*On September 10, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim clinched the American League West division title, becoming the earliest team to clinch that division in its history. On September 28, the Angels won their 100th game of the season, beating their previous record of 99 back in 2002.
*The Seattle Mariners lost 100 games for the first time since the 1983 season, a span of 25 years. They are also the first team to lose 100 games with a US $100 million payroll. Meanwhile, they had company as the Washington Nationals also registered 100 losses, marking the first time since the 1996 season, when the franchise was known as the Montreal Expos, that they would reach this dubious mark.
*The Milwaukee Brewers secured their first playoff berth since 1982 by winning the NL Wild Card berth.
*The Chicago White Sox broke the club record for grand slams in a single season with 12. The White Sox also became the first team ever to win their last three games of the season against three different teamsFact|date=October 2008: 5-1 vs. Cleveland Indians in the scheduled season ending game on September 28, 8-2 vs Detroit Tigers in a make-up game from a rainout on September 29, and a one-game playoff on September 30 1-0 vs Minnesota Twins respectively.

Approaching milestones

*Gary Sheffield of the Detroit Tigers is one home run away from 500.
*Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees is five home runs away from 400.
*Frank Thomas of the Oakland Athletics is five doubles away from 500 and 32 hits away from 2500.
*Garret Anderson of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is 13 doubles away from 500.
*Jim Thome of the Chicago White Sox is 16 RBIs away from 1500.
*Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals is 27 RBIs away from 1,000 and 56 runs away from 1,000.
*Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks is five wins away from 300.
*Jason Isringhausen of the St. Louis Cardinals is seven saves away from 300.
*Todd Jones of the Detroit Tigers is 18 games away from 1,000. However, on September 23 in an article published in The Sporting News, of which he is a columnist, Todd Jones announced he would retire following the season's completion.

Other accomplishments

Pitching

No-hitters

*Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox threw the team's 18th no-hitter on May 19 against the Kansas City Royals in a 7–0 victory.
*Carlos Zambrano of the Chicago Cubs tossed the team's first no-hitter since Milt Pappas threw one against the San Diego Padres on September 2, 1972 on September 14 against the Houston Astros in a 5–0 win. The accomplishment was historic as it was the first no-hitter ever hurled at a neutral site, in this case, Milwaukee's Miller Park, which was made possible because the Astros' home, Minute Maid Park was unavailable due to damage in the Houston area from Hurricane Ike.

Other notable accomplishments

*Edinson Volquez of the Cincinnati Reds tied a Major League record by going eight starts without allowing more than one earned run. It is the first time this feat has been accomplished since Mike Norris did it for the Oakland Athletics in 1980. [cite web|url=http://frontier.cincinnati.com/blogs/redsinsider/2008/05/thats-record-or-something-hr-drought.asp|title=Reds Insider: That's a record or something, HR drought ]
*On June 28, Jered Weaver and Jose Arredondo of the Los Angeles Angels pitched a combined eight innings, allowing no hits in a 1–0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. This became the fifth time in Major League history, and the first time since 1992, that a team has held its opponent hitless in a losing effort. This was not an official MLB-recognized no-hitter, however, because the rulebook states that a no-hitter occurs when a pitcher (or pitchers) holds their opponent hitless over the course of a whole game, which consists of at least nine innings.
*On July 27, rookie pitcher Brad Ziegler of the Oakland Athletics set a Major League record for most consecutive scoreless innings to start a career by pitching his 26th and 27th consecutive scoreless innings in a game against the Texas Rangers. [cite web|url=http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/recap?gid=280727111|title=A's Snap Skid Against Rangers With 6-5 Win |accessdate=July 30 |accessyear=2008 |author=Associated Press/Yahoo! Sports]
*Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez recorded his 58th save of the season on September 13, breaking the single season record previously held by Bobby Thigpen. "K-Rod" would end the season with 62 saves.
*Oakland Athletics reliever Joey Devine finished the season with a 6-1 record and a 0.59 ERA. That's the lowest single-season ERA in Major League history (since ERA began being recorded in 1912) for a pitcher with a minimum of 40 innings. [cite web|url=http://oakland.athletics.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080928&content_id=3566724&vkey=news_oak&fext=.jsp&c_id=oak|title=Devine sets mark for 40 innings or less |accessdate=October 6 |accessyear=2008 |author=Bob Sherwin / Special to MLB.com]

Hitting

*José López, a second baseman for the Seattle Mariners, became the 12th player in Major League history to hit three sacrifice flies in a single game, doing so during an April 16 game against the Kansas City Royals. The Mariners also became only the third team in Major League history to hit five sacrifice flies in a single game. [cite web|url=http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/6420ap_bba_royals_mariners.html|title=seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/6420ap_bba_royals_mariners.html ]
*Chase Utley, a second baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies, tied a team record with home runs in 5 consecutive games that lasted from April 17 to April 21. He hit home runs against the Astros, Mets, and Rockies during the streak. [cite web|url=http://philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/news/gameday_recap.jsp?ymd=20080421&content_id=2565387&vkey=recap&fext=.jsp&c_id=phi|title=The Official Site of The Philadelphia Phillies: News: Philadelphia Phillies News ]
*On June 23 at Shea Stadium, Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez became the first American League pitcher to hit a grand slam in modern Interleague play (the last grand slam hit by an AL pitcher occurred before implementation of the designated hitter rule), as well as the first pitcher in Mariners franchise history to hit a home run.
* Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz became the fifth player in Major League Baseball history to hit two home runs in the first inning with a pair of three-run four-ply swats on August 11th against the Texas Rangers.
*The Chicago White Sox tied the major league record for most consecutive home runs hit in an inning with four consecutive dingers against the Kansas City Royals in the sixth inning of their game on August 14 Jim Thome began the two-out swatfest with a three-run dinger, which were followed by solo home runs by Paul Konerko, Alexei Ramìrez and Juan Uribe.
*Mark Kotsay, Atlanta Braves center fielder, hit for the cycle on August 14th against the Chicago Cubs. However, the Cubs got the win, 11–7. Kostay became the first Brave since Albert Hall did it in September 1987.
*On September 1, Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew and Seattle Mariners third baseman Adrián Beltré each hit for the cycle in their respective games, the first time two players accomplished the feat on the same day since the Detroit Tigers' Bobby Veach and the New York Giants' George Burns did so in by|1920.
*Ichiro Suzuki recorded his 200th hit of the season on September 17. This marked the eighth consecutive season he reached the milestone, tying the record set by "Wee" Willie Keeler from by|1894-by|1901
*Mark Reynolds, the Arizona Diamondbacks' third baseman, broke the record for most strikeouts by a batter by whiffing for an unprecedented 200th time on September 25 against the St. Louis Cardinals. The previous record was set one year earlier by Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, who had 199.
*On September 29 Chicago White Sox 2nd-basemen Alexei Ramírez hit his 4th grand slam of the season, breaking the record for most in a season by a rookie. This same hit also broke the franchise record for most grand slams in a single season.

Fielding

*Kevin Youkilis, a first baseman for the Boston Red Sox, set a new Major League record by playing 237 consecutive errorless games at first base. He broke Steve Garvey's 193 game streak record on April 2 against Oakland. [cite web|url=http://www.projo.com/redsox/content/sp_bb_soxjo03_04-03-08_LC9KGAM_v8.33ceb44.html?npc|title=Flawless Youkilis sets mark at first base | Boston Red Sox | projo.com | The Providence Journal ]
*Asdrúbal Cabrera, a second baseman for the Cleveland Indians recorded the fourteenth unassisted triple play in baseball history May 12 against the Toronto Blue Jays in the nightcap of a doubleheader at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio. Cabrera caught a Lyle Overbay line drive, then stepped on the bag to retire Kevin Mench and then tagged the incoming Marco Scutaro to complete the triple play. It was the first unassisted triple play in Indians history since Bill Wambsganss' historic 1920 World Series Game 5 event against the Brooklyn Dodgers. [cite web|url=http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080513/sp_mn/baseball_tripleplay_dc_1|title=news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080513/sp_mn/baseball_tripleplay_dc_1 ] However, the Tribe lost to the Blue Jays by a score of 3-0 in 10 innings.

Managerial changes

Off-season

The big story among the managerial changes involved the Yankees, with Joe Torre, their manager for the last 12 seasons, and their most successful since Casey Stengel. Torre walked away from the Yankees after his contract, which paid him $7.5 million (US) after rejecting a one year deal worth two-thirds the value of his previous contract, but would have received a $3 million bonus had the team reached the World Series. Former Florida Marlins manager Joe Girardi, who was sacked after the 2006 season and won National League Manager of the Year honors that season, replaced Torre, signing a three-year, $6 million pact. Girardi had spent the 2007 season as a color commentator on YES Network and WWOR-TV for Yankees games telecast on those stations. With that deal done, Torre replaced Grady Little as the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Other managerial changes had Dusty Baker back in the dugout to manage the Cincinnati Reds after a one year respite, while the Kansas City Royals named former Nippon Ham Fighters manager Trey Hillman as Buddy Bell's replacement, and former catcher John Russell as the new manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, replacing Jim Tracy after two seasons. They joined three managers who had finished the 2007 season as replacements for their former leaders – Dave Trembley of the Baltimore Orioles, Cecil Cooper with the Houston Astros and John McLaren of the Seattle Mariners – as they embarked on their first full season as skippers of their clubs.

During the season

On June 17, the New York Mets named former American League Manager of the Year Jerry Manuel as interim manager after the late night sacking of Willie Randolph, who presided over a historic 2007 collapse and a lackluster start to the 2008 season. Two days later, the Mariners named Jim Riggleman as their interim manager after the dismissal of McLaren, who at the time of his firing had the worst record in MLB. It also gave the Mariners their third manager in two years, as McLaren succeeded Mike Hargrove a year earlier.

The following day, Cito Gaston, who had led the Toronto Blue Jays to back-to back World Series championships in 1992 and 1993, was lured out of retirement to replace the fired John Gibbons. The Jays were 10½ games behind the division-leading Boston Red Sox and in last place in the American League East at the time of the change. Gaston has signed a two-year extension into the 2010 season since then.

The Milwaukee Brewers fired Ned Yost on September 15, citing their late season slump amid a playoff race, and named third base coach Dale Sveum as interim manager.

tadiums

pring training

The 2008 Spring Training session was marked by the final at-bats for three stadiums that had been mainstays in the Grapefruit League, as the spring training sites in Florida are called.

The first to end its run was Holman Stadium, longtime home to the Los Angeles Dodgers. On March 17, the Dodgers played their last game in Vero Beach; they lost to the Houston Astros, 12–10. [cite web|url=http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080317&content_id=2432364&vkey=spt2008gamer&fext=.jsp&c_id=la |title=Furcal gives top performance in finale |accessdate=May 1 |accessyear=2008 |author=MLB.com] It has been rumored that the Baltimore Orioles might move into the facility.

The next stadium to close its doors was Chain of Lakes Park in Winter Haven, home of the Cleveland Indians. On March 27, they lost their final game in the stadium to the Tampa Bay Rays, 9–7 in 10 innings. [cite web|url=http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080327&content_id=2461419&vkey=spt2008gamer&fext=.jsp&c_id=cle
title=Tribe leaves Florida with 10-inning loss |accessdate=May 1 |accessyear=2008 |author=MLB.com
] Both the Dodgers and the Indians left their longtime Florida homes for new stadiums in the Cactus League in Arizona.

The oldest of them all, Progress Energy Park in St. Petersburg, was retired on March 28 with the Tampa Bay Rays losing to the Cincinnati Reds 6–3. [cite web|url=http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080328&content_id=2463355&vkey=spt2008gamer&fext=.jsp&c_id=tb
title=Rays lose Al Lang Field finale to Reds |accessdate=May 1 |accessyear=2008 |author=MLB.com
] The Rays, unlike the other teams to close stadiums before them, are staying in Florida; they are relocating their spring training home to the Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte. As for the facility formerly known as Al Lang Stadium, plans are for the faclilty to be razed and become the new Rays Ballpark with a retractable roof. However, on June 25, plans for a ballot vote in St. Pete to call for that was postponed.

Preseason

On March 15 and 16, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres played a 2-game exhibition series at Wukesong Stadium in Beijing, China, which would later be the baseball venue for the 2008 Summer Olympics. The series marked MLB's first games played in China. The first game ended in a 3–3 tie, and the second ended in a 6–3 win for the Dodgers.

On March 29, as part of the 50th anniversary of the Dodgers' relocation from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, the Dodgers hosted an exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Dodgers' home stadium from from by|1958 to by|1961. Proceeds from the game were donated to the Dodgers' official charity, ThinkCure. The game saw a sellout crowd of 115,300, which broke the Guinness World Record for the largest crowd to ever attend a baseball game. The previous record was an estimated 114,000 for a baseball demonstration during the 1956 Summer Olympics at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. [cite web|url=http://www.lacoliseum.com/content/1/news/press/LADODGERS.pdf|title=Los Angeles Dodgers Set World Record At Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum|format=PDF]

Regular season

The Washington Nationals began the domestic portion of the 2008 season in their new US $611 million home, Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. with a nationally-telecast ESPN "Sunday Night Baseball" game (in a rare one-game series) against the Atlanta Braves on March 30 in the first official baseball game stateside. President Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch while being booed by some of the crowd that night, and joined Jon Miller and Joe Morgan in the broadcast booth for the third and part of the fourth inning of the game telecast. Fittingly, Ryan Zimmerman hit a walk-off home run to give the Nats a 3–2 win. Nationals Park replaced their temporary home, RFK Stadium. Unlike RFK, Nationals Park has been considered to be fair to both hitters and pitchers. Additionally, there was an exhibition game March 29 against their beltway rivals, the Baltimore Orioles, in which season ticket holders were admitted free. The first game, however, was on March 22, when local university George Washington played a home Atlantic 10 college contest against Saint Joseph's at Nationals Park. The Colonials sent their fans home happy by defeating the Hawks 9–5.

This season also marked the last season in New York City for two historic stadiums where the Mets and Yankees reside. Shea Stadium closed in Flushing Meadows, Queens on a down note September 28 with the Mets being eliminated from postseason play for the second consecutive season by the Marlins, 4-2, while Yankee Stadium closed after 83 seasons (the Yankees played at Shea Stadium in 1974 and 1975 while Yankee Stadium was refurbished), with the final home game played on September 21 as the Bronx Bombers defeated the Orioles, 7-3. The teams will move into new ballparks near their current homes - Citi Field for the Mets and New Yankee Stadium for the Yankees - in time for their 2009 home openers on April 13 against the San Diego Padres (Citi Field) and 16th against Cleveland Indians (New Yankee Stadium) respectively. With the closing of these ballparks, Dodger Stadium becomes the largest seating capacity park (56,000) and third oldest baseball stadium (after Fenway Park and Wrigley Field) starting in 2009.

One other change involved naming rights. Starting with the 2008 season, the Cleveland Indians home field was renamed Progressive Field after the insurance company in suburban Mayfield Heights in a deal valued at $57.6 million over the next sixteen seasons. The new name replaces Jacobs Field, named for former team owner Richard Jacobs.

As a consequence of Hurricane Ike damaging the Houston, Texas area, two games between the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs were relocated to Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Although Milwaukee was picked as a "neutral" site whose retractable roof would ensure the game would be played in the event of inclement weather, Miller Park's location 90 miles from Chicago, Illinois resulted in a decidedly pro-Cubs crowd in a series where Houston was officially designated as the home team. Adding to the controversy from the Houston perspective was the fact that Turner Field in Atlanta had been suggested by the players' union as a potential neutral site. [ [http://houston.astros.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080915&content_id=3479166&vkey=news_hou&fext=.jsp&c_id=hou Astros facing 'homefield disadvantage'] ] This would mark the second time in as many years that a series was moved to neutral Miller Park due to weather, as a series between the Los Angeles Angels and Cleveland Indians was relocated there one year earlier as a consequence of snow storms in northern Ohio postponing an entire series between the Indians and the Seattle Mariners at Jacobs Field (now called Progressive Field).

Another naming rights agreement concerned a stadium still under construction. The Minnesota Twins and Minneapolis-based retail giant Target Corporation announced on September 15 that the Twins' new stadium set to open in 2010 will be named Target Field. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Target Field is located not far from another facility of which the discount retailer owns naming rights: Target Center the home of the NBA's Timberwolves.

Instant Replay

During last season, especially the ALCS, several plays were deemed to be considered controversial on whether or not balls were ruled home runs. During a game in the annual interleague Subway Series between the Mets and the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, a home run was taken away and ruled a ground rule double. This led to discussions about introducing instant replay to Baseball games, especially on balls that are ruled fair or foul and home runs. In August, all 30 parks have been wired to send feeds similar to a video goal judge in the NHL, where all video feeds are sent to a central control room at Major League Baseball Advanced Media's home office in New York City to be reviewed, and correct any errors. On August 20, MLB and the World Umpires Association, the umpires union, agreed to start reviews based only on whether or not a ball that is ruled a home run was fair or foul, or whether or not balls that clear walls are home runs according to each team's ground rules. This practice started August 28.

The first official use of the Instant Replay system occurred on Wednesday, September 3rd in a game between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field, when Alex Rodriguez hit a home run in the top of the ninth inning with two outs remaining. Tampa Bay catcher Dioner Navarro and manager Joe Maddon initially protested in order to reverse the call as it appeared to be foul. Television replays showed the ball hit Tropicana Field's D-Ring catwalk on the foul side of the attached yellow post; however, the ball was still in fair territory when it left the playing field (passing over the foul pole) and was therefore a home run. Umpire crew chief Charlie Reliford agreed to the review and after a delay of 2 minutes and 15 seconds, the ruling on the field was upheld and remained a home run. [ [http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080903&content_id=3412816&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb Instant replay used for first time] ]

Replay made its National League debut on September 9 at Minute Maid Park in a game between the Houston Astros and Pittsburgh Pirates. Houston right fielder Hunter Pence hit a fly ball to right field that bounced off the top of the fence and back onto the field of play. The umpires on the field ruled a live ball, and Pence was credited with a double. Houston manager Cecil Cooper argued the ball bounced beyond the fence before bouncing back onto the field and was therefore a home run. After a discussion among the umpires, crew chief Tim Welke allowed the review and reviewed the play with his brother Bill Welke, the home plate umpire. After the review the call was upheld as a double. [ [http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080909&content_id=3446254&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb Pence's RBI double upheld by replay] ]

The use of replay created a statistical anomaly Sept. 26, in which San Francisco Giants catcher Bengie Molina hit what was ruled a single off the high wall in right field at AT&T Park in San Francisco, in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Once he reached base, Molina was replaced by pinch runner Emmanuel Burriss, while Umpires conferred on whether the ball had actually hit the roof and bounced back, which would make it a home run. After a replay review, the umpires reversed their call, awarding Molina the home run. Giants manager Bruce Bochy then attempted to retract Burriss from the game, and put back Molina, under the logic that he wouldn't have pulled Molina had the correct call of home run been made in the first place. After a 15 minute delay, the umpires denied Bochy, citing the replacement rule. Burriss was told to complete the home run circuit, making it a two-run home run in which Molina, who had hit it, didn't score.

US and Canadian broadcasts

United States

For the 2008 season, TBS switched from doing Atlanta Braves games (who telecast 45 contests on WPCH-TV a/k/a "Peachtree TV" locally in Atlanta) to a national Sunday afternoon "Game of the Week" format (though some games have involved the Braves). In addition, the TimeWarner-owned cable channel also carried the one-game AL Central playoff between the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox September 30th playoff game as well as the entire League Division Series and the American League Championship Series this season, with TNT possibly carrying some games when there are time conflicts.

Disney-owned ESPN continued to televise games on Sunday nights, Wednesday nights, and (through the first week in August) Monday nights, switching to Friday nights for the remainder of the season, plus multiple afternoon and prime-time games on the traditional Opening Day (March 31) and the annual State Farm Home Run Derby on July 14. Certain games aired on ESPN2 due to scheduling conflicts with the parent network.

FOX Sports continued with a weekly regional Saturday "Game of the Week", the All-Star Game, the National League Championship Series, and the World Series. The "Game of the Week" was expanded in 2007, as for the first time FOX was allowed to air Saturday games for all 26 weeks of the season, marking the first time since 1989, when NBC ended their iconic run of televising America's Pastime on a weekly basis, that a network covered games on a week to week basis for the entire season. Also, all games on FOX were televised in high definition; in previous years, only the primary (or "A") game was in HD.

The limits for telecasts per season (starting in 2008) that any team can make are as follows:
*TBS: 13 times per season.
*ESPN: Five Sunday night games per season.
*FOX: Eight games per season.

ESPN Radio continued as the national radio carrier for Major League Baseball, airing Sunday night games throughout the regular season as well as Saturday afternoon games after the All-Star break, the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby, along with selected Opening Day and holiday games, and the entire postseason.

The biggest change in local rights came as the San Francisco Giants switched their terrestrial telecast rights from longtime home KTVU (Cox Communications-owned Fox affiliate) to NBC Universal-owned KNTV after fifty years, one of the longest in televised sports history. KTVU will continue to air some Giants games as part of the Fox Sports' Saturday afternoon "Game of the Week" package if the team is competitive.

Canada

Baseball games - mostly involving the Toronto Blue Jays - were televised on Rogers Sportsnet, TSN, and CBC. RSN airs Fox and ESPN/ESPN 2 feeds if they do not conflict with the Toronto Blue Jays games, as well as the All-Star Game and the entire post-season.

Uniform changes

*In a ceremony November 8, 2007, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays debuted a new set of uniforms and changed the team name to the Tampa Bay Rays. The ceremony took place in St. Petersburg, Florida and featured a concert by Kevin Costner's band, Modern West.cite web|url=http://tampabay.devilrays.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071018&content_id=2271013&vkey=news_tb&fext=.jsp&c_id=tb|title=The Official Site of The Tampa Bay Rays: News: Movie star joins forces with Rays ]
*Following the death of Colorado Rockies minor league coach Mike Coolbaugh as a result of a foul ball striking him on the neck, all coaches on the first and third base lines began to wear batting helmets as a mandatory rule starting this season.

Commemorative patches

*With the previously mentioned Nationals, Yankees and Mets stadiums, those teams wore commemorative patches on their home and away uniforms.
*The Cincinnati Reds paid tribute to Joe Nuxhall with a black patch with "NUXY" (his nickname) in white lettering.
*The Atlanta Braves honored their former bench coach Jim Beauchamp with a patch bearing his nickname ("Beach") following his passing on Christmas Day last year from leukemia, and in August added a memorial patch for longtime announcer Skip Caray on their right sleeve following his passing.
*The Yankees, who hosted the 2008 MLB All-Star Game, also wore the game patch on their uniform right sleeves. They added a armband on their left sleeve following the passing of former player and announcer Bobby Murcer from cancer just days before said All-Star Game.
*Both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants wore special patches to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of their franchises moving to California from the New York area - the Dodgers from Brooklyn's Ebbets Field to Los Angeles and the Giants from the Polo Grounds to San Francisco.
*The Arizona Diamondbacks wore a 10th Anniversary patch, celebrating a Decade in the Desert
*The Oakland Athletics celebrated their 40th Anniversary on the East Side of San Francisco Bay.

Throwback/Alternate uniforms

*The Philadelphia Phillies added an alternate uniform that emulates their 1948 uniforms, which was all off-white with no red pinstripes, but have red and blue trim around the neck, sleeve ends and outseams of the pants, and a blue hat with a red "P" and bill. The current alternate hat was dropped;
*The Cleveland Indians added an alternate off-white home uniform, based on the one worn in the late 1950s and early 1960s without player names on the back, replacing their "Chief Wahoo" vest
*The Kansas City Royals added an alternate light blue jersey based those on their successful era from the 1970s and 1980s;
*The Toronto Blue Jays wore a replica of their 1979 road uniform - complete with pullover jersey and belt loops with a blue belt that were not featured in the original outfits (there was a blue/white/blue knit-in belt) to be worn on Friday night home games. The Jays also had a new road uniform with blue lettering and numbers, a change from the gray-on-gray numbering from a year ago;
*Additionally, teams such as the Chicago White Sox, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners wore throwback uniforms in "Turn Back the Clock Day" events as a tribute to a particular year in that team's history;
*The Oakland Athletics brought back their black alternate jerseys (albeit modified) and caps from the 2000 season.
*On June 12, the Chicago Cubs and the Atlanta Braves wore 1948-styled uniforms to commerate the 60th anniversary of Cubs games being broadcast on WGN-TV. The Atlanta Braves wore Boston Braves uniforms because they didn't move to Atlanta until 1966, moving to Milwaukee in 1953. The game, which was played at Wrigley Field was broadcast in black and white, as they did in 1948, for the first two innings.
*On Saturday, July 5, the Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates celebrated baseball's Negro League heritage with each team wearing a jersey representing a Negro League team from that region. Milwaukee wore pinstriped 1923 Milwaukee Bears uniforms, while Pittsburgh wore 1933-38 Pittsburgh Crawfords jerseys and caps.

Military tributes

Several teams wore special uniforms to honor military serving overseas:
*The San Diego Padres wore their camouflage jerseys for every Sunday home game;
*The White Sox and the Reds each honored the military with camouflage jerseys in a "one-off" event during the July 4th holiday weekend;
*All teams during the July 4th weekend and on September 11 wore special caps with each team's cap logo woven into the "Stars and Stripes" (with the exception of the Toronto Blue Jays, whose logo is woven with the Canadian flag). The sales of these caps to the public will benefit Welcome Back Veterans, a group of veterans organizations.

Weather

Through the 2008 All-Star break, there had not been an official game called that was not suspendable. As of the break, every win and loss in the standings for every team represented a game played to its legitimate nine-inning (or more) completion. The streak ended on August 4 in Chicago, however, when the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros were unable to complete their game due to a rainstorm. The Astros were leading the game 2–0, and since that was the score when the 8th inning started, the game was not resumeable to the next day and the Astros were awarded the win. This was the only game to be rain shortened until September 26, when the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Baltimore Orioles in a game curtailed to seven innings, 2-0. The next day, the Jays lost another rain-shortened game against the O's, 2-1 after 6 innings.

Both the Astros and the Cubs were also involved in a rare "rain-in" due to Hurricane Ike postponing the first two games of their three-game series on September 12 and 13; the city of Houston had been evacuated so they were not able to play at the retractable-roof Minute Maid Park. The last rain-in was on June 15, 1976 when the Astros' game at the Astrodome against the Pittsburgh Pirates was called due to heavy flooding in the Houston area. Two of the games were played at Miller Park in Milwaukee on the 14 and 15, the remaining game was canceled outright, one of three games that would be outright canceled, the first being the Oakland Athletics scheduled to play the Orioles on September 7; however, the game was switched due to a conflict with the Baltimore Ravens' NFL season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. This game was moved to September 6 as part of a day/night doubleheader. However, the remnants of Hurricane Hanna called off the afternoon game, and because both teams were not in the pennant races, the game was not made up, in spite of the fact that both teams still had two common off days.

In another weather-related note involving a team playing in an indoor venue, the Tampa Bay Rays had either postponed or canceled a home game on a Sunday in September of a presidential election year three consecutive times due to hurricanes. The streak started on September 17, 2000 and continued on September 5 and September 26, 2004. The streak ended when the Rays played their game against the Minnesota Twins as scheduled on September 21, 2008. They played at home on the final day of the 2000 season, but that game was on October 1, not September.

The 2008 season also marked the first time the Philadelphia Phillies' and St. Louis Cardinals' new ballparks made it through an entire season without a game either being canceled or shortened. The Washington Nationals came close, but canceled their 81st and final home game on September 25.

On September 29, one day after the scheduled final day of the season, the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox made up a game postponed from two weeks earlier, the first such game since 1981, as in 1908 and 1973. The game needed to be played due to the fact the White Sox trailed the Minnesota Twins by a half-game in the AL Central standings, and even then, rain was a problem as the contest was delayed for three hours and four minutes.

Notes and references


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