Sunday, September 3, 2017

Worst Best – Most Pathetic League Leaders in MLB History

I think we all know that Barry Bonds hit 73 dingers, Hack Wilson had 191 RBIs, and Nolan Ryan set a modern record with 383 strikeouts. Needless to say, they were all league leaders.

At the same time, though, somebody’s got to lead the league every year, right?  Even when it’s just not that great a year for homers, or steals, or saves, somebody’s still gonna get credit for being the league leader.

So, how bad can it be?  Let’s take a look …


On the face of it, this should be pretty straightforward.  There were, though, a few years where MLB did not have a complete season. 2000, 1995, and 1981 were all strike-shortened, and 1918 was shortened by World War I. It just didn’t seem fair to give credit for low homers or RBIs or wins when players only had 144, 140, 129, or 110  games to do it in.

I also eliminated the deadball era. I mean, there were years when HR leaders couldn’t break double digits. In other words, I’m looking at stats from 1921 on.

Oh, I also just limited stats to basic, traditional stuff, like HRs, RBIs, wins, saves … So, no defense-independent component ERA, fielding runs above replacement, player empirical comparison and optimization test algorithms, etc.

Alright then, here they are – from most to least believable.

#10 – WHIP, Herb Pennock, 1926, Yankees, 1.265

Now, this one doesn’t sound that bad.  Overall, there were 9 leaders who couldn’t break 1.200.  Interestingly, all but 1 was in the AL. And all of this (lack of) action took place mostly in the 20s and 30s.

What I find particularly ironic about this one is that Pennock is a Hall of Famer, a place where I’m not sure he really belongs. In fact, the only time he led the league in anything was for 2 WHIPs in the 1.200’s. Career-wise, has him coming up a little short. None of their HoF stats have him matching the averages for players actually in the Hall (with some of them falling far short). 

Oh, he was a Yankee? Why didn’t you say something?  Right this way!

#9 – RBIs; 105; Al Rosen, Indians, 1952 / Willie McCovey, Giants, 1968

Well, at least they broke 100. 

Once again, we’ve got another Hall of Famer. This time, I think he deserved it. In fact, hitting over 500 dingers is definitely a free ride. 

As for Rosen, I think you can make an argument that he should be in Cooperstown as well. He led the league in a major category a total of 5 times. Unfortunately, he was up for only 7 real seasons. Interesting to see what he could have done given a little more time, and a lot fewer injuries.

#8 – Average, .301, Carl Yastrzemski, Red Sox, 1968

Hmm, 1968 again. Yup, it was the Year of the Pitcher. Just as an example … Would you believe that Yaz was the only AL player that year to bat above .300?

That year was also quite a falling off for Yaz from 1967, when he won the Triple Crown, MVP, and pennant. He did, however, also lead the league in walks, OBP, and OPS in ‘68.

And, yes, we do have another Hall of Famer here. And I’m pretty sure he deserves it too.

#7 – ERA, 3.20, Early Wynn, Cleveland, 1950

Man, I woulda thunk this would be a lot closer to 3.00. Actually, in addition to Wynn, there were 6 other pitchers who won it all with an ERA over 3.00. And, believe it or not, 3 of those were in this, our current, century.

Another Hall of Famer, Early Wynn has always been one of my favorites. A 300-game winner, he played in 3 decades, for 23 years total. Quite the character too.  

#6 – Runs, 93, Carl Yastrzemski, Red Sox, 1968

Aaahhhh!  It’s 1968 again. How else could someone lead the league in runs and not break 100?!?!

So, what was all that about anyway? Well, when Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1961, the powers that be got all worried that the BALANCE OF THE GAME was out of whack. So, they enlarged the strike zone, then stepped back and watched offense tank. 

After that all bottomed out in 1968, they lowered the pitching mound from 15” to 10”. Balance was – finally, thankfully, assuredly – restored.

#5 – Wins, 16, 8 different guys, 1994 & 2006

This one really surprised me. I was actually surprised that there was even any under 20, let alone that there was this plethora of losers at 16. 

Okay, let’s count ‘em out … 1994: Ken Hill, Expos; Greg Maddux, Braves / 2006: Aaron Harang, Reds; Derek Lowe, Dodgers; Brad Penny, Dodgers; John Smoltz, Braves; Brandon Webb, Arizona; Carlos Zambrano, Cubs. 

Did you notice that all of these guys were in the NL? And they all happened in only 2 years? Weird, huh? I tell ya, ya can't make this stuff up.

#4 – Saves; 4; Guy Bush, Cubs / Johnny Morrison, Pirates; 1925

Now, here’s one that’s not quite apples and oranges. Saves were simply not something MLB teams cared about all that much way back when.

In fact, let me share with you a little graph I put together. It shows the MLB leader every year in saves from 1921 to 2016:

See how that goes up and up, like a stock that you might just retire on? 

Bush? Morrison? Ah, they was nobodies.

#3 – Strikeouts, 106, Lefty Grove, Athletics, 1925

Holy cow! This is barely over 3 figures. Hard to believe, but it’s less than a third of the record, Nolan Ryan’s 383, set less than 50 years later.

Needless to say, Lefty Grove is another Hall of Famer. In fact, he would lead the league in K’s 6 more times. His 2,266 career strikeouts, though, would only net him 54th on the all-time list. I guess they weren't striking out too many batters back in those days ... though it seems Lefty was doin' most of it.

#2 – Home Runs, 21, Hack Wilson, Cubs, 1926

What’s odd about this one is that some guy over in the AL hit 47 that year. And the year after that, that same guy would hit no less than 60! I think his name was Roof or something.

Wilson would go on to hit 56 himself 4 years later. That’s also the year he would drive in an absolutely unassailable 191 runs. That year alone seems to have been enough to get him into Cooperstown.

#1 – Stolen Bases, 15, Dom DiMaggio, Red Sox, 1950

Most anyone acquainted with a little baseball history knows that steals were something more associated with the Dead Ball Era, dropped off after baseball discovered the long ball, and didn’t really come back into fashion until the 1960s. What’s striking, though, is how low the totals were (4 were in the teens) and how long they lasted (arguably, from ’27 through ’59).

By the way, Dom’s the one with the glasses. Vince was the oldest one. Joe’s the one who’s in the Hall of Fame.

Final embarrassing total:  9 Hall of Famers / 10 nobodies

Monday, August 28, 2017

World Series Winners’ Winning Percentage – Trending Downward …

There was a time when baseball’s postseason actually involved only one series.  They called it the “World Series.”  And that particular setup lasted no less than a mind-boggling 65 years.

After that, they switched things up – oh, every ten years or so.  First, there were 3 playoff games (including the World Series, that is), then 7, then 9.

So, what I’m wondering is whether that affected the quality of the teams that played in the final showdown.  In other words, if you’ve got only 2 teams competing, you’ve got a pretty good idea that those 2 will have the best records around.  If, however, you’ve got 10, what’re the chances that the World Series will actually have the best 2?

Well, let’s take a look …

1 Game (1903-1968)

Over those 65 years, the worst team to win the World Series was the Boston Red Sox, in 1916.  They were 91-63, for a winning percentage of 59%.  

This guy pitched a 14-inning complete game win in that one

3 Games (1969-1993)

In 1969, both leagues expanded to 12 teams.  With all those teams, additional playoffs actually made a ton of sense.

During these 23 years, the worst team to win it all was the 1987 Twins.  They went 85-77, for a mark of 52%.  Quite a difference.

Interestingly, the best record of all 4 teams in the playoffs that year was the Tigers, with a record of 60% - a difference of 8 percentage points and 13 whole wins.  They won only a single game those Twins.

First series where the home team won every game.
Who woulda thunk it?

7 Games (1995-2012)

More expansion.  This time, we’re going to 30 teams.  And that’s a lot. 

So, even more playoffs do make sense.  And the idea of getting the team with the 2nd best record in 3 different divisions involved makes a ton of sense as well.  

Just as an illustration …  In the 17 years the 1-wild-card-team idea ruled, 14 of those years had a wild-card team with a better record than at least one of the division leaders.  So, like I said … not a bad idea.

Oh, the worst team to win a World Series in that era?  Forgot all about that …  How about St. Louis, in 2006, with another 52% winning percentage.  

And, just like with the Twins and Tigers back in 1987, there was an 8% difference (and 14 wins) between the Cards and the best team that didn’t make it (this time that was both New York teams, the Mets and the Yanks).

9 Games

No expansion this time.  Just some lamebrain’s idea of a way to introduce some extra excitement into the game.  A play-in game.

Now, that’s fine if it’s March madness, and it’s the University of North Dakota at Hoople versus Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration.  Otherwise …

So, on with our show ...  And the award for worst WS winner goes to San Francisco, with a 54% record in 2014. Whoa – 2% better! 

And there’s no way they woulda done it without this guy

That said, we have had this silly thing going on for only 4 years.  So my guess is is that somebody’s going to take home all the silverware one of these days with a record just over .500 – say, 82-80.  

I mean, it almost that did actually happen back in 1973.  That year, the Mets made it to the Series with a measly record of 82-79.  Fortunately, they lost the A’s, though it did go to 7.

Friday, July 14, 2017

All-Star Game Home Field Advantage?

So, the All-Star Game will no longer decide home field advantage for the World Series? Now, is that a big deal, a total non-event, or maybe something in between?

I guess we’ll just have to see.  That said, there is some data from the past.  Let’s take a look …

Home Field Advantage Not Based on All-Star Game

There’s actually a couple of ways to slice this data.  One of the most obvious ones is pre- and post-playoffs.  


From 1903 through 1968, it was all pretty straightforward.  The team with the best record in one league played the team with best record in the other.  And the one with the better record got home field advantage.

How did that go?  Well, it was actually pretty even.  The home team won at a 52% clip. That’s a 52/48 split.

1937 AL All-Stars
(Gehrig, Cronin, Dickey, DiMaggion, Gehringer, Foxx, Greenberg)

Now, there’s an interesting wrinkle with this however. Until 1924, there seemed to be no real order to the schedule. One year, the teams might travel after every game. The next, it might have been 2-2-1-1-1, or 3-4, or even 3-4-1 or 2-3-2-1 (yup, there were a couple of years where they played 8 games). It was only 1924 and after that they agreed on the standard 2-3-2. 

That didn’t really seem to make any difference though. From 1903 to 1923, the split was 51/49. From 1924 to 1968, it was 52/48.

Playoff Era

Now, how does this compare with the playoff era?  Well, that is a big difference.  For those 33 years, the split was 62/38

How did that come about? Well, you got me …

Ah, the 70s

Home Field Advantage Based on All-Star Game

So, which split does the All-Star era follow? Interestingly, it’s a lot closer to the pre-playoff era, with a 55/45 split. 

And that, of course, seems more legit than those particularly skewed numbers from the post-playoff / pre-All-Star era (1969 – 2002). In other words, what we all thought would result in some real skewing actually had just the opposite effect.

Of course it was Bud Selig's idea

Why is that the case? And how do you explain those weird numbers from 1969 to 2002. Once again, I haven’t a clue.

That said, I am happy that the “this time, it’s for real” thing has been dropped. It just never seemed right. Now, if we could only get rid of that damn play-in game.  I’ve pretty much given up on the designated hitter.

Monday, June 19, 2017

How Many Springfields Are There in the US?

Answer: many. How many? It depends. Here, let’s dive right in …

No Soap (9)

Yup, there are some states out there that simply have neither hide nor hair of anything resembling a place called Springfield. Here’s the list, from least-likely-to-have-a-Springfield to most-likely:
  • Hawaii
  • Alaska
  • New Mexico
  • Arizona
  • Montana
  • Wyoming
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • Connecticut

It Depends (6)

Now, this group may or may not have a Springfield. In particular, I was able to find something out there. But what that might be is another question. In other words, some site out there (Trulia, WhereiS, MapQuest, even Google) might show a dot on a map somewhere, but tell me next to nothing about population, features, etc. So, a little hard to say if it’s really a town or not. Anyway, these are those …
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Delaware
  • Maryland

Ghost Towns (2)

So, we’ve finally got a couple of places that we know are for real. Unfortunately, they were only real in the distant past.

Not a lot on Springfield, Nevada.  Founded in 1875, it was abandoned in 1876. says it has “pretty scenery,” but that “only the ruins of one small stone cabin remain.”

Springfield, Texas has a little bit more on it. In fact, you can find pretty much everything you ever wanted to know about it right here. Or here:

Though that last one might be a little hard to decipher

Real Places (34)

So, here they are – in increasing order of population …

North Dakota (pop. 35) tells me the population of this place, but not much else. Looks like it’s in the northeast part of the state, not too far from the Canadian border.

By the way, it’s actually a township, and not really a town per se. What’s a township? It’s basically a grid that divides up the whole state.

Somehow or other, though, it does merit its own t-shirt 

Idaho (pop. 330)

Not much more on this one either. It’s in the eastern part of the state, not too far from Pocatello. It does sound, though, like it gets some tourists – the American Falls Reservoir and Springfield Bird Refuge are nearby. It’s still mostly agriclutural though – potatoes, wheat, and lettuce, in particular.

Maine (pop. 400)

Now we’re getting into the big time. This place has its own website, as well as a building on the National Register of Historic Places (see below). It is also the “birthplace of A. O. Lombard, inventor of the Lombard log hauler and other thing [???].”  This Springfield dates all the way back to 1834. It’s inland, not too far from the Canadian border, and has Millinocket as its closest city.

Springfield Congregational Church (1852)
A particularly good example of the Gothic Revival

Louisiana (pop. 500)

Well, this historical plaque pretty much says it all:

What they don’t mention, though, is that this place probably has only 500 people because the town fathers, “fearing a lawless element,” declined the offer of having the railroad run through their little burg. And, back in the 19th Century, that was a sure way to put your town on the road to obscurity.

South Carolina (pop. 500)

Springfield, SC, on the other hand made the right bet on the railroad. Actually, the town started (in 1887) only when the railroad came through. Their big thing is a Frog Jump, modeled after the much better-known one in California.

Unfortunately, I could not find those shirts online

West Virginia (pop. 500)

Springfield, WV is in the far northeast corner of the state (but not quite in the little “hook”). It dates back to 1790, and is named after the Revolutionary War Battle of Springfield (New Jersey).

A little history for you

California (pop. 900)

Springfield, CA almost made it into the Ghost Town section. It’s in Gold Country, and was once more than twice as big. 

Needless to say, a Google Images search on “springfield california” returns a lot of these

Iowa (pop. 1,100)

Well, looks like we’ve got another township on our hands.  Actually, it looks like we’ve got 3! Are Iowans just a particularly boring and unimaginative people? 

Only one of those, though, has enough data out there that I could list a population for it. And that one is in the eastern part of the state, pretty much halfway between Davenport and Cedar Rapids.

New Hampshire (pop. 1,300)

Settled in 1769 and originally names Protectworth (?!?!), Springfield, NH changed its name in 1794. It’s in the western part of the state and includes Giles State Forest. It also represents our first real famous resident – former general and CIA director David Petraeus.

Good lord – they even have their own cop car!

New York (pop. 1,350)

Springfield, NY was settled in 1778, and named in 1797. It was once famous for its hops, and today claims a big 4th of July celebration, one that has been going on for over 100 years. Wikipedia lists 4 famous residents, none of whom I have heard of.  Nor do any of these “celebrities” have their own Wikipedia articles. Hmm … It looks like the town’s halfway between Schenectady and Syracuse. Nice!

Colorado (pop. 1,450)

Looks like we’ve got our first county seat. In fact, this Springfield also doubles as the most populous town in Baca County as well. Both are in the very southeast corner of the state. The town was named after Springfield, MO, where most of the early settlers had come from. It dates back to 1887.

Springfield’s one brush with national attention came during the Dust Bowl

Arkansas (pop. 1,600)

The Wikipedia entry for Springfield, AR has a mere 62 words. Interestingly, 56 of them are about its one “notable person”:

Rick Beck (born 1956), Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives for Conway and Perry counties since 2015, electrical engineer born in Little Rock and a former resident of Springfield. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton.

Something tells me Rick might have put this in himself.

I don’t think this very picturesque old railroad bridge has anything to do with Rick however

Nebraska (pop. 1,600)

Springfield, NE is another railroad town. It sprung up from the prairie in 1873 when the Missouri Pacific came through. Current-day highlights include its:

  • Having a genuine, old-fashioned soda fountain
  • Being the site of the Sarpy County Fair
  • Being the filming location for the video for Lady Gaga’s “You and I”

It’s real near Omaha. Lotsa corn.

South Dakota (pop. 2,000)

Springfield, SD is located in the southeast part of the state, on some bluffs overlooking the Missouri River. One “famous son” is Mel Tjeerdsma, past president of the American Football Coaches Association.  The town’s motto is “the best kept secret in South Dakota.” 

Springfield is also home to the Mike Durfee State Prison. In fact, of the town’s 2,000 people, 1,200 of them are actually behind bars.

Hard to believe, but they have a frog jump too

Minnesota (pop. 2,100)

Guess what? Yup, another railroad town, this one dating back to 1877. This particular one is in the southwest corner of the state – in some pretty intense and particularly rich farm country. There are some connections to Laura Ingalls Wilder. It’s also the birthplace of Bernie Bierman, former Golden Gopher football coach and member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

That’s Bernie, by the way … not Laura … just in case you were wondering

Kentucky (pop. 2,650)

Another county seat, Springfield KY is pretty much smack dab in the center of the state. It dates back all the way to 1793. Notable sons and daughters include:

  • Former NFL quarterback Phil Simms
  • The Lincolns, Tom and Nancy, parents of President Abraham Lincoln

I believe this is our first Springfield to have its own newspaper, the Springfield Sun.

Bet you didn’t know the Lincolns were avid golfers, did you?

Wisconsin (pop. 2,750)

There are actually no less than 5 Springfields in the Badger State. And I thought Iowans were boring!

The particular Springfield, WI I’m featuring here is the most populous one. In fact, it looks like it outnumbers all the others combined. It’s in the south central part of the state, just northwest of Madison. Its one “famous son” appears to be Bernard Esser, whose “accomplishments” include serving:

  • As the Springfield clerk, assessor, and  treasurer
  • In the Wisconsin legislature
  • As Dane County Clerk of Circuit
  • On the Dane County Board of Supervisors

You go, Bernard!

Georgia (pop. 2,800)

Springfield, GA is part of the Savannah Metropolitan Statistical Area (bet you didn’t know there was even such a thing). It’s the county seat of the wonderfully named Effingham County. Though it’s been the county seat since the 18th Century, it only really started growing – once again – when the railroad came through, back around the turn of the 20th Century. These days, it’s growing even more – as something of a bedroom community for the expanding metropolis of Savannah.

The old courthouse
(which is, actually, kind of cool looking)

Alabama (pop. 4,000)

Unfortunately, we’ve got the old multiple Springfields problem again. This time, it looks like I can spot 4. The one I’m going to concentrate on, though, is that megalopolis of 4,000 people in the northeast part of the state. It’s most famous son is undoubtedly Hank Patterson, who played Fred  Zifel, owner of Arnold Ziffel, on Green Acres. 


That's Fred on the left,
Arnold on the right

Michigan (pop. 5,300)

Springfield, MI is an “enclave of the city of Battle Creek,” and is just west of the big city. Its main attraction appears to be the disc golf course at Begg Park, which hosted the Disc Golf World Championships in 2008.

Oh, almost forgot – it was also the scene of a mysterious, massive crow die-off

Vermont (pop. 9,000)

Our oldest Springfield to date, this one goes all the way back to 1761. At one time, it was a major producer of machine tools. Springfield’s Wikipedia entry includes 28 “notable people,” including an Olympic gold medal winner, a couple of governors, and a vice-president of the US of A (Levi P. Morton, who served under Benjamin Harrison). Most importantly, though, Springfield, VT was selected – out of all the Springfields out there – to host the premiere of The Simpsons Movie.

Florida (pop. 9,300)

Florida’s Springfield is just east of Panama City. If you’re not familiar with your Florida geography, that is not the capital of the country of Panama, but part of the Panhandle. 

This entry from Wikipedia is possibly the most priceless thing I’ve ever found on that site:

Unlike much of Bay County, Springfield has been mostly left out of the recent real estate boom, possibly due to the large and odoriferous chemical mill and paper plant on the city's waterfront.

Possibly. What do you think?

Looks like there are amusement parks in the Sunshine State as well

Tennessee  (17,000)

Holy cow!  We are now officially over 10,000 people.

Springfield, TN is just a little north of Nashville.  Their motto is, “Minutes from Nashville, miles from ordinary.” There’s not a lot out there on the town, so I’m assuming it’s a bit of a bedroom community.

New Jersey  (pop 17,500)

As mentioned before, this Springfield was the site of a Revolutionary War battle. You’ll be happy to know that the Murcans won, whipping the evil Hessian General Wilhelm von Knyphausen. 

These days, the town looks dangerously close to NYC. In fact, it’s just to the west of garden spots such as Elizabeth and Newark. 

They do have a swanky golf club, though – the Baltrusol. It’s hosted the PGA Championship and 7 US Opens.

They’ve also got more notable people than I can shake a stick at, but – once again – I’ve never actually heard of any of them. That said, however, we certainly could never overlook:

  • Dan Avidan, lead singer-songwriter of Ninja Sex Party and Starbomb
  • Jeannette DePalma, murder victim found in Houdaille Quarry whose unsolved case has become a matter of significant controversy thanks in part to coverage in Weird NJ magazine
  • Zygi Wilf, owner of the Minnesota Vikings

Can't tell for sure if this is Ninja Sex Party or Starbomb

Pennsylvania (pop. 24,000)

Continuing our suburban theme, Springfield, PA is just west of Philadelphia. It’s also our oldest town so far, dating back to 1686. Interestingly, it was originally called Amosland (?!?!). I actually know two of its famous people this time – baseball Hall of Famer Mike Scioscia and early American painter Benjamin West. Hard to believe, but there are actually 9 Springfields in the Keystone State.

Virginia (pop. 30,000)

Here’s a place that I actually know! I’m from Northern Virginia originally, and still have a number of relatives in the area. 

Apart from my relatives, Springfield’s main claim to fame is the Springfield Mall. Like the nearby Tyson’s Corner, it seems to have an almost iconic presence in the DC area. 

The town itself dates back to 1847, and got its first post office 30 years later. It only really changed from a sleepy country crossroads after WWII, with the coming up the first subdivisions.

Like I say, iconic

Oregon (pop. 60,000)

Springfield, OR is in the southern Willamette Valley. It was settled in 1848, and incorporated in 1885. It was formerly known for lumbering and for its hazelnut orchards. It would probably be much larger than it is today, but the town fathers (like those in Louisiana) bet against the railroad, with the line going through Eugene instead. Actually, local lore has it that the town fathers of Eugene helped the decisioning along with a little pecuniary encouragement (AKA, a bribe).

These days, the town seems a little on the crunchy side, with connections to Ken Kesey, the Grateful Dead, and early Gay Rights legislation. More importantly, however, Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, once let out that this particular Springfield was actually the one he had in mind!


Ohio (pop. 60,000)

Founded at a site on the Mad River in 1801, Springfield, OH grew into a major industrial player (Kelly Springfield Tire started here). It’s also where 4-H clubs got their start; boasts a Frank Lloyd-Wright home; and includes famous sons and daughters such as photographer Berenice Abbott, silent film actress Lillian Gish, and a surprising number of major-league baseball players. Finally, it’s our first Springfield to feature a real, live university – Wittenberg University, to wit.

Unfortunately, recent times have not been that good. And here’s what Wikipedia has to say on that front:

In 2010, Springfield ranked third worst in a national wellbeing survey conducted by The Gallup Organization. In 2011, Springfield was named the "unhappiest city in America" by another Gallup survey. In 2015, Springfield was ranked the least healthy city in Ohio by 24/7 Wall St.

Illinois (pop. 117,000)

Hey, our first (and only) state capital! 

You’ve probably already heard of this Springfield’s most famous son. In fact, Abraham Lincoln is something of a local industry here. The city features his home, library and museum, and tomb. 

Here are some other interesting facts about Springfield:
  • Reputed home of the corn dog
  • Site of the oldest fast food drive-thru
  • Starting point (to continue our eating theme) for the Donner Party

Massachusetts  (pop. 154,000)

Springfield, MA appears to have a lot going for it.  It was the first Springfield in the New World, is the fourth largest city in New England, and has no less than 3 nicknames: 

  • City of Firsts – “because of its many innovations”
  • Hoop City – because it’s where basketball was invented 
  • City of Homes – honestly, I have no idea (I mean, you could say that of pretty much any city out there, right?)

Unfortunately, like Springfield OH, Springfield MA seems to be another victim of Rust Belt malaise. Wikipedia gets right to the point, stating that, “During the 1980s and 1990s, Springfield developed a national reputation for crime, political corruption and cronyism.” Ouch!

Can’t forget that it's the hometown of Dr. Seuss now, can we?

Missouri (pop. 165,000)

Springfield, MO is in the southwest part of the state, going by the nickname “the Queen City of the Ozarks.” It’s the third largest city in the Show Me State, behind only St. Louis and Kansas City.

It’s also the home of Missouri State University, the site of several Civil War battles, and is known as the “birthplace of Route 66.” Finally, it’s the headquarters of Bass Pro Shops, O’Reilly Auto Parts, and the Assemblies of God.

It was also a huge center of country music,
All of which has pretty much migrated to Branson (shown)

Why Springfield?

It’s simple, isn’t it? Just think of the two main things early settlers might be looking for – water and flat, cleared ground. Bingo!

Unfortunately, it looks like we’ve got only one, Oregon, where that applies. There are 7 more, though, that at least have the water part – ME, CA, AR, NE, SD, KY, NJ, MN, and MO.

The rest of the Springfields, interestingly, were names after other Springfields. And those are mostly Springfield, MA. I’ve got 3 of those – ME, WV, and OH. 2 others – GA and VA – were named for a local farm or plantation. And 2 more were named for other Springfields. In particular, Springfield CO was named for Springfield MO. 

By the way, there are a couple of Springfields out there that are a little up for grabs. In particular, Springfield MN could have been named on its own or for Springfield MA. And Springfield MO could have been named for Springfield MA, Springfield TN, or independently.  C’mon, people!  Make up your minds!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Billerina: Portmanteau Names for Power Couples Through History

Billary. Brangelina. Tomkat. Bennifer. Even Kimye. It’s such a wonderful and clever idea. I’m a little surprised that it hasn’t been used even more often.

From Days Past

Like historically. Actually, there were a few. Familiar with Desilu? How about Pickfair?

Desilu stood for Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball. It didn’t stand for them personally though, but for their production company instead.

Same thing with Pickfair. This was the name Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, the original king and queen of Hollywood, gave to their mansion. No one ever actually referred to them in that way.

May I Also Suggest …

Like I said, there are just way too few of these things out there, especially historically. So, here are my suggestions to liven things up a little. In fact, I came up with no less than 50 of them. So, let’s get started …

#50 – Robert Browning & Elizabeth Barrett Browning …

… Elizarob? Elizabert is another possibility.

#49 – John Smith & Pocahontas …

… Pocajohn. Of course, Johontas has some possibilities as well.

BTW, that pic is indeed from the Disney movie.

#48 – Ted Hughes & Sylvia Plath …

… Tedylvia? Sylvited? Or, we could just go with last names, and call them the Plughes.

#47 – Paul McCartney & Linda Eastman …

… Paulinda. Why, of course!

#46 – Elizabeth II & Prince Phillip …

… Elizip? Philabeth? Elizalip? Philzabeth? Elizaphil?

#45 – William Masters & Virginia Johnson …

… Willinia, of course

#44 – Louis XVI & Marie Antoinette …

… Loumar? Marlou? Marilou? Any of these would work.

#43 – Joe DiMaggio & Marilyn Monroe …

… Joemar? Marijoe? Marjoe? Once again, these are all good.

Though I do believe that last one is taken.

#42 – Henry VIII & Ann Boleyn …

… Annery. Get it? Sounds kinda cockney, right? See what I did ‘ere? … Ah, never mind.

Oh, and yes, she was not the one who survived.

#41 – John & Abigail Adams …

… Abijohn. You know, like the capital of the Cote d’Ivoire? Er, the Ivory Coast? In Africa? … Oh, forget it.

And, yes, that pic is indeed from the HBO miniseries.

#40 – Tarzan & Jane …

… Tarjane. I’m afraid Janezan doesn’t even come close.

Yup, Disney again.

#39 – Prince Charles & Lady Diana …

… Charlana.  I like it.  

Too bad the whole thing didn’t turn out a little better.

#38 – Bert & Ernie …

… Bernie.  And, wow, looks like somebody else already beat me to it!

#37 – Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine …

… Heleanor. So obvious, right?

#36 – Victoria & Albert …

… Vicbert? Albertoria? Victoribert?

#35 – Chris Martin & Gwyneth Paltrow …

… Chrisneth? Gwnyis?

Sigh ... Another one that didn’t quite work out.

#34 – Mick Jagger & Jerry Hall …

…. Mickerry? Jermick? Jaggery? All sorts of possibilities.

#33 – Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh …

… Laurien? Vivience? Vivilaur? Lauriviv?

Wait a minute … How about last names? Sure enough, That gives us the incomparable Olivileigh.

#32 – Clark Gable & Carole Lombard …

Well, let’s do the last name thing again, shall we? And that would give us the priceless Gombard. Though, I must admit, Lomble isn’t too bad either.

#31 – Perseus & Andromeda …

… Persomeda? Androseus? Just remember to put the emPHASis on the correct sylLABle.

By the by … If you’ve forgotten your Greek mythology, Andromeda was the original damsel in distress (and a wonderful excuse to show the naked female form).

#30 – Othello & Desdemona …

… Othdemona? Desdethello? Hmm … I’m not so sure about these.

#29 – Orpheus & Eurydice …

… Orydice? Eurypheus? I like ‘em both.

And, yes, we’re back to Greek mythology again. Just to refresh your memory … Here’s a great Cliff Notes version from

Orpheus and Eurydice get married, but later that night, Eurydice is bit by a snake and dies. So far, so terrible. Overcome with grief, Orpheus travels to the Underworld to bring her back to life. He convinces Hades and Persephone to let Eurydice go, but her release comes with a catch: Eurydice must walk behind him as they ascend to the upper world, and Orpheus is forbidden from looking at her. Seems easy enough, right?

Unfortunately, Orpheus is overcome with passion just as they reach the exit. He turns to look at Eurydice and she is immediately sent back to the Underworld – forever. Orpheus is devastated (again) and roams around Greece playing sad songs. Eventually, he is ripped to shreds by a group of drunken mad women.

Got it? Major bummer, huh?

#28 – Samson & Delilah …

… Samsilah works pretty well for me

#27 – Odysseus & Penelope …

… Odyssope? Peneleus?

#26 – Tom Brady & Gisele Bundchen …

… I’m thinking … Tomelle!

Talk about your Greek gods, huh?

#25 – Romeo & Juliet …

… Romiet? Juleo? 

Hmm … This is the greatest couple of all time. You’d think they could get a little better nickname than these. Am I right?

#24 – Abelard & Heloise …

Abelise? Heloard? Habelard? Hello Ab?

Drawing a blank? It’s another pretty lengthy tale. These folks aren’t too bad at summing it all up though:

Almost one thousand years ago two people fell in love. Peter Abelard was the tutor of nineteen-year-old Heloise, and nearly twenty years her senior. It was a torrid affair, Heloise fell pregnant, and her guardian, Abbot Fulbert, plotted a hideous revenge. Abelard was seized and castrated. The lovers responded to this catastrophe by retreating into separate religious orders and seeking peace in the service of God. 

Yup, you heard that right. Castrated …

#23 – Ferdinand & Imelda Marcos …

… Fermelda.  Why, of course.

#22 – Tristan & Isolde …

… Tristolde. Easy. At the same time, though, there is something to say for Isostan. Or is that one of those former Soviet republics?

#21 – Lancelot & Guineverre …

… Lancevere? Guinelot?

#20 – Napoleon & Josephine …

… Napophine? Josoleon? Napolephine? Josepholeon? 

#19 – Ronald & Nancy Reagan…

… Why, Roncy, of course.

#18 – Edward VIII & Wallis Warfield Simpson

… Wallward? Yup, Wallward.

#17 – Tommy Lee & Pamela Anderson

… Tomela

I’m not sure who’s classier – Walward or Tomela?

#16 – Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward …

… Paulanne? Jopaul? Pauljo? Newwood? Woodman? It just goes on and on …

Hard to believe, but these two were actually marred for 50 years.

#15 – Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt …

… Frankanor. 

Hey, they were the original Billary, right? I’m sure that conservatives will appreciate that “franken” prefix.

#14 – John Lennon & Yoko Ono …

… Lennono. You know, like the computer?

#13 – Jay Z & Beyonce …

… Jayonce? Jay B? B Jay? Beyond Z?

#12 – Charles & Camilla …

…Charmilla. I’m surprise no else didn’t already think of this.

Let’s hope this one works out.

#11 – Bill & Melinda Gates …

… Billinda!

The pic? That’s their Stanford commencement address, 2014. I love it!

#10 – Georgia O’Keefe & Alfred Stieglitz …

… O’Keeflitz

Quite the May-December romance, by the way. There was 23 years between them.

#9 – Echo & Narcissus …

… Narco

In case you don’t remember, this is basically a story of unrequited love – in particular, what happens when you fall in love with a narcissist.

#8 – Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera …

… Friego

Possibly not the cutest couple out there.

#7 – Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald …

… Fitzelda

#6 – Justin Verlander & Kate Upton …

… Uplander

I hear ya, Justin. I hear ya.

#5 – Ferdinand & Isabella…

… Ferdibella

#4 – Antony & Cleopatra …

… Antopatra

Or am I confusing them with the Italian appetizer?

#3 – Justin Timberlake & Britney Spears …

… Timberspears

#2 – David Beckham & Posh Spice …

… Posh Ham / Spiced Ham

#1 – Liz Taylor & Richard Burton …

… Lizard

Night of the Iguana, right?