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True Life: I’m A Sub .500 Fan

Originally Posted July 2, 2010:

Cue the entry audio to MTV’s True Life.

Fans come in all different sorts of intoxicating personalities. We all know of the Fair Weather Fan. They join the party after the party has already started. They jump on the band wagon after the wagon has made its 100th winning stop. They can tell you the time they watched their team win the 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000 World Series, but not their rosters.

Then there are the Casual Fans. They can tell you the big three on the team, but they can’t name who the starting catcher is. Or who replaced the struggling superstar closer. Or who filled in for the team’s famous broadcaster when he was out for heart surgery.

I think more annoying than casual fans are Homer Fans. These fans, no matter how pathetic their team is playing, still think their team is God’s gift to Earth and there losing season is to blame on this guy. You can’t even confront these fans about their team without receiving a reaction like this.

But let’s face it, the greatest type of fans are the DieHard Fans. No matter what they are doing, they will drop everything for a chance to watch their team play. No matter their team’s performance, they are behind them 110% for the entire season and off-season. They don’t just sit and agree with the GM’s moves, they analyze, criticize, and scrutinize all the moves and makes their voice heard.

I would like to encourage everyone to at least be a diehard fan for one season (of course, please assess the situation… marriage and family should still be top priority, by a small margin). Follow a team, any team, pick a new team, any sport, and follow each and every play as if it were their last.

The greatest moment in a sports fan life is to follow your team to the championship from the beginning when their record was 0-0 and watching them win it all… But, winning isn’t just about bringing home the bling. Sometimes, winning is just about making it to the championship, just barely making it into the playoffs, just finishing above 0.500 for the first time in 12 years. I can honestly say that following a losing team for years as a diehard fan pays the biggest dividends in the end. Some fans have never seen a losing season (the last Yankees losing season: 1992. Yankee fans under 21 years of age definitely can’t remember that). Some have only seen losing seasons. The diehard that sticks through sub 0.500 winning percentages from their team year after year get butterflies in their stomach when their team is even competing for a wild card spot (some fans look at contending for the wild card a losing season). Welcome to my life as a Brewers fan since the late 80’s.

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction
If you root for the following teams year after year despite finishing in the red, you have earned your badge which gives you access to the greatest circle of fans in the baseball community.

Baltimore Orioles / St. Louis Browns / 1901 Milwaukee Brewers
For the Rest of the Story: Follow the Jump…

DH or Not to DH. That is ‘The’ Question

OH MY GOD! Everyone LOOK! A pitcher got injured playing baseball so let’s all over react and say that a baseball player shouldn’t perform duties that the other ~70% of players have to perform.

Here we go again. People complaining about not having a DH in the National League. All because an athlete got injured performing a task he is weak at. Yup, Adam Wainwright was injured Saturday night when he tore his achilles as he left the batter’s box trying to run to first base.

I get it. Freak accident. Need something to blame. Blame the task you were doing because you aren’t very good at it and now you can’t do the tasks you enjoy doing and are good at it. If David Ortiz got injured playing 1B in an interleague game, would we start talking about not letting DH’s play in the field ever. Bad example, he shouldn’t be playing 1B if there is a DH in both leagues. Should we put a rule in play to not allow a position player to come in during the 17th inning to pitch because the last guy blew out his arm?

People are going to say I’m biased since I’m an National League fan. But let me lay out the facts:

No DH DH
Pitchers swing a limp noodle. Most sacrifice bunt. DH is usually the power hitter. Leads team in RBI and HR.
Pitchers get pulled in the 5th due to scoring opportunity and need a better hitter. Pitcher goes until he reaches a jam or his pitch count.
Bullpen and bench players get lots of use for strategic changes. Usually no one left to play by 13th inning. Always surprised by some new player pulled off the bench or the bullpen because they play once a month.
Double Switches!!! Two light switches???
Pitchers have to deal with revenge for ‘Chin Music’. Pitchers send out their position players to pay for their ‘Chin Music’.
NL teams lose out on good hitters that are horrible defenders. AL sign players that are not athletic enough to perform tasks by most players.
NL teams lose out on good pitchers that are horrible hitters. AL sign players that are not athletic enough to perform tasks by most players.

I get people tend to enjoy offense more than quality pitching and strategy. I get the fact that if it weren’t for the DH we wouldn’t be watching guys like A-Rod and Ortiz. Do other sports prolong athletes’ careers by letting them only perform a single task in the game? I never saw Michael Jordan come in to only shoot 3-pointers or free throws and then head back to the bench. I never saw Joe Montana come into games to throw a hook-and-ladder to Rice and then go back to the bench. Did Gretzky ever come onto the ice just to shoot a wrist shot and then go straight back to the bench?

Simply put, the DH ruins the game and only adds a bit of flare. The National League plays the game of baseball. They use strategy.

Scenario #1, your pitcher has only given up two runs in 6 innings but there are 2 men on with 2 outs your team is down 2-0 and the pitcher is up to bat. What do you do? Pull the pitcher and put in a hitting specialist and then have to pull that sub from the game to bring in the next pitcher? Let the pitcher attempt to hit and help his own cause?

Scenario #2, man on 2nd base. 1 out. Have the pitcher bunt and move the runner to 3rd? Let him swing away?

Scenario #3, 2 outs, men on the corners and your pitcher has thrown 110 pitches and his spot is up to bat first in the next inning. Burn a relief pitcher to maybe face a single batter and then have to substitute in a batter for him in the next inning? Double switch and move the RP to the previous batter who was your #5 batter? Leave the pitcher in and hope he gets through this last batter?

I could keep going. But the fact is that in any of those scenarios, an AL team wouldn’t have to think about what they would do. The pitcher never bats. The DH would swing away. They bring in a RP whenever they want and he can face as many hitters without thinking twice.

What am I not seeing? Why do people like the DH so much? I’m sure that people who like the DH also hate the shift (I’m not a fan of the shift, but until players start to beat shifts I would also stack the defense in my favor). And no Scherzer, I would much rather see you swing a wet newspaper than pay an athlete a ton of money who can only perform a single task.

If I’m wrong, tell me in the comments. If I’m right, tell me in the comments. Comment on this topic!!!

Category: Baseball News  3 Comments  Tags:

MLB Transformers: The Ultimate Hitter’s and Pitcher’s Parks

Originally posted July 17, 2010:

Something to read while you are waiting for the perfect, bright, and vivid double rainbow or you are jamming out to the double rainbow remix (seriously, if there are only two links you click in this entire blog ever, it should be those two). Or you are waiting for the great Chicago Cubs fire sale (you could get a life-size, life-like Aramis Ramirez to fill out your personal trophy case for a small chunk of change).

Growing up Transformers was one of my favorite cartoons. It was so futuristic. Based on a robot war of good vs evil, the Autobots and Decepticons, the two spacecrafts crashed on earth four million years ago. A volcano eruption awakened (or rebooted) the sets of robots and they continued their war on Earth. I can even remember pushing around my Optimus Prime and Bluestreak action figures around the house blowing up my sisters’ Barbies. Heck, we had more than twenty guys crammed into my freshman dorm room watching the 1986 Transformers: The Movie (which has the best 80’s soundtrack that played through the entire movie) on my top-of-the-line desktop computer. Now, the new Transformers movies have a bunch of action and some awesome digital effects (not to mention a great looking cast). The new movies gave me an idea. What if all the MLB stadiums could transform into two completely different stadiums. One that benefits hitters, while the other benefits pitchers.

Most of you have heard how Colorado’s Coors Field is a hitter’s park and how San Diego’s PetCo Park is a pitcher’s park, but has anyone ever thought to build the Ultimate Hitter’s and Pitcher’s parks? What if someone took every active MLB stadium and transformed them into ultimate stadiums, similar to Bruticus Maximus. Well… we did just that here at Kings of Cork. Not only did we take into account stadium fence distances (we did not account for wall height, just distance) but we also accounted for location and foul territory. And you may be surprised to find what stadiums contribute to the Ultimate Stadiums.

The Ultimate Pitchers Park: Decepticon Park

The new trend in MLB stadiums is to create excitement for fans and the game. And as the true home run king, Henry Aaron, said the most exciting hit in baseball is the triple. Thus, more stadiums are designing obscure fence lines to give the ball unpredictable caroms causing the outfielders to trip over their own feet resulting in a triple for the batter. This usually leads to deeper ball park fences as well to limit the number of home runs and increase the amount of physical energy used to get around the bases (less home run trots and more sprints, unless of course you are the Cincinnati Reds Adam Rosales and you sprint around the bases on a HR anyways).

Most parks don’t want to eliminate the home run, but they want to boost the difficulty of the field just enough to make the games more exciting. So what if we took all 31 (including Hiram Bithorn Park in Puerto Rico the Marlins play on from time to time) and combined all the fence lines but only kept each fence location that resulted in the longest playable field. The definition of ‘playable field’ is the amount of earth between home and the fence. Thus, it does not take into account the height of the wall. Sure, you may argue that the height of the wall should matter, but does it really? For example, a ball hit on a rope to a CF wall of 400ft but the height of the fence is 18ft will most likely carom off the wall as an extra base hit vs being a home run for a 8ft tall fence at 410ft. But take that same scenario and make it a fly ball, the ball would still hit off the taller fence, but the deeper fence would allow a possible play on the ball by the outfielder. Yes there is a bunch of physics that could argue both sides; but because we didn’t want to spend a year running the scenarios through our simulators (and because Hit Tracker supplies their field models as distance to the wall), we will assume the deeper the fence, the more pitcher friendly the park will be.

What would this ultimate park look like… below is a representation with the corresponding stadium next to it’s portion of the wall. Notice the several nooks and crannies out in right center field… a nightmare for not only a hitter looking for a home run but for a fielder trying to read a ricochet.

The Ultimate Pitchers Park

The Ultimate Pitchers Park

(stadium dimensions and home run data were found at HitTracker.com)

Here are some interesting facts about the Decepticon park:

  • Both left and right field corners come from Wrigley. Combine the distance (355ft down left, 353ft down right) with the Ivy and the 16ft walls, pitchers will be more than willing to give up shots down the line that their fielders can make plays on.
  • Left field to left center comes from PNC Park in Pittsburgh which makes the power alley 389ft from home. That will take a good poke from any batter to hit one out of the stadium near the gap.
  • Coors Field may be considered a hitter’s park, but it’s also boasts one of the most spacious outfields and owns the deepest portion from left center to center field in the big leagues. Its power alley is 390ft to 420ft on a straight line to center.
  • Center field is almost entirely owned by the new Comerica Park with the exception to the trademark hill from Minute Maid Stadium just slightly right of dead center. Comerica’s left and right center nooks are close to 430ft, while Minute Maid’s hill is at 435ft straight away center.
  • The Mets’ new home field, Citi Field, was made to be pitcher friendly (and Jason Bay has proven that with his power decline). Therefore, it’s no surprise to see Citi Field’s fence owning the first (about 410ft) and fourth (about 385ft) right field crevices from center field.
  • AT&T Park has a piece of its same high right field wall in both the Ultimate Pitcher’s and Ultimate Hitter’s park (which you will see below). This portion in right center is a lefty’s nightmare by making the power alley 421ft from home.
  • Turner field owns the largest section of wall in right center from 390ft to 400ft before trailing off into…
  • Fenway is the other park that has portions of its outfield wall in both ultimate parks as well. The curvaceous right field portion makes for an interesting look and gives right field some distance at 380ft.
  • If every single home run of the 2513 hit so far this 2010 MLB season were hit exactly the same in this park, they would result in about half as many home runs.
  • With the help of some cheap photo editing and Google Earth’s 3D warehouse, below is a 3D model of what the Ultimate Pitcher’s Park may look like from an aerial view (click the photo for a larger view).
Decepticon Stadium

The Ultimate Pitcher's Park

But we won’t stop simply at the distance of the fence creating the most pitcher friendly environment. Let’s explore the location of the stadium and the foul territory.

Foul Territory: The logic is simple; the more foul territory a field has, the more opportunity fielders have to make a play on a ball hit into the foul territory. Which active stadiums boast the largest areas of green between the foul lines and the fans… Well, the portion behind home plate would belong to the new (and old since measurements were kept the same from the “house that Ruth built”) Yankee Stadium with 84ft from home to the back stop. This provides plenty of room for catchers to roam for foul balls, but it’s also a curse for “Wild Things” passed balls which could lead to more runners advancing. The rest of the foul territory would belong to the Coliseum’s football accommodating foul territory. Just look at the room down both the 1st and 3rd base lines. As mentioned above, the area is so large due to the requirement of accommodating the Oakland Raiders as well (the foul territory was actually reduced in size during the 1996 renovations). This spacious foul territory has been found to reduce batting averages by 5 to 7 points. Not only that, but the larger amount of grass outside the lines allows pitchers to pitch fewer pitches and try to force hitters to hit more foul balls for outs.

Location: We can rule out the Mile High City on this one. Most everyone with an 8th grade education knows that an object will fly further through air that is less dense. So the lower the altitude, the more dense the air, the more drag on the ball, thus less distance. Out of the cities that have current MLB stadiums, six cities are less than 25 feet above sea level (Boston – 20ft, Seattle – 10ft, Philadelphia – 9ft, Miami – 15ft, San Diego – 13ft, Washington – 25ft). But elevation isn’t the only aspect that makes air less dense, humidity plays a large factor. Less humidity results in a higher density air due to the fact that a water molecule has less mass than both Nitrogen and Oxygen molecules. So a drier city results in more drag on the ball. Out of the six cities listed above, the driest city is Philadelphia at an average humidity of 76% during the AM and 55% during the PM hours. Thus, Decepticon Park would be located in the City of Brotherly Love. But, the ultimate location would be Death Valley, CA. At 282ft below sea level, it is the lowest elevation in the US and has a very low average humidity. If the location of the Ultimate Pitcher’s park was in Death Valley, CA and the winds of Chicago were also incorporated, this stadium would be impossible to hit at.

The Ultimate Hitter’s Park: Autobot Stadium

A hitter’s park is defined as the opposite of a pitcher’s park. It is where hitters thrive and enjoy the soaring statistics of home runs, RBIs, and inflated batting and slugging percentages. One of the most recent cases that prove the surrounding baseball environment can greatly impact players’ statistics is Jason Bay. This past offseason, Jason Bay went from hitter friendly Fenway (with the short left field for righties) to the gargantuan Citi field. Bay went from averaging 31 HR over the past five seasons to only have 6 HR through the All-Star break in 2010. Sorry Bay fans (and Bay fantasy owners), he will not be slugging more than 20 HR this season.

Compared to the Ultimate Pitcher’s park, the Ultimate Hitter’s park is not quite as diverse or exciting. Using the same process and assumptions as the Pitcher’s park, the 31 MLB stadiums were combined and the shortest distance to the combined fences were kept. What is left looks something like this:

The Ultimate Hitters Park

The Ultimate Hitters Park

Here are the facts on Autobot stadium:

  • Left field is no surprise with the Fenway’s Green Monster being the shortest left field wall at 315ft down the line and about 325ft to straight away left. Pop flies and line drives won’t be caught if hit deep enough. Instead players will have standup singles.
  • At the transition of the Green Monster to the shorter fence in Fenway’s left center, a small section of the Coliseum sneaks in at about 370ft before Fenway’s left center fence continues to center field.
  • A small portion of the Coliseum fits into center field at 390ft before the new Nationals Park goes from dead center to slightly short of right center with their electronic scoreboard.
  • The Coliseum, even with its vast foul territory, is quite a short field and the left side of the right field power alley is the last bit of the Coliseum in the Ultimate Hitter’s park before the short porch in Yankee Stadium’s right field becomes the shortest RF fence in the bigs at 344 ft.
  • The right field fence is surprisingly made up of the same two stadiums that make up a portion of the right field fence in the Ultimate Pitcher’s park. AT&T park makes it a breeze for hitters to hit water balls into McCovey Cove, where kayakers wait with fishing nets. The right field corner directly down the line belongs to Fenway at 302 ft. Coincidently, in both the Ultimate Hitter’s and Pitcher’s parks, the right field and left field lines belong to the same stadium (Fenway for the hitter’s and Wrigley for the pitcher’s)

Foul Territory: As mentioned above, not as much diversity and interesting fence lines like the Ultimate Pitcher’s park. But it would still be interesting to watch big hitting teams like the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Rangers hit at a ball park like this. Scores would push upwards to double digit runs for both teams and the rules may need to be changed back to the original rule of a team must score 21 runs to win. The foul territory for the Ultimate Hitter’s park would be as small as possible to get foul balls out of play quicker. Thus, this stadiums foul territory would come from two stadiums: one of the oldest and one of the newer stadiums. The foul territory down the lines would belong to Boston’s Fenway Park. Boston likes their fans up close and personal (that and so they can rain louder boo’s on their opponents). Combine Fenway’s foul territory outside the lines with the backstop from San Francisco’s AT&T park and there will be very few foul ball plays (AT&T’s backstop is a meager 48ft from home plate).

Location: Similar to the pitcher’s park above, location matters. Of course, there is little surprise where the highest elevation exists among current MLB stadiums. That belongs to the Mile High City, Denver, CO home of Coors field. Air humidity can’t even factor into this decision as the second highest stadium is at 1082 ft above sea level (Chase field). But where would the ultimate location be… Mt. Whitney, CA at 14,505 ft. That’s right, the Ultimate Pitcher’s park, which would be located in the Badwater Basin in Death Valley CA, and the Ultimate Hitter’s park would be located only 76 miles apart. Sure the highest elevation in the US is Mt McKinley, but the temperature there is almost never above freezing. That makes it hard to play baseball even in the Ultimate Hitter’s park.

What might the stadium look like… Here is a batter’s eye view of what the Ultimate Hitter’s park could look like at the dish (click the photo for a larger view).

Autobot Stadium

The Ultimate Hitter's Park

Like it was mentioned above, this field has nothing exciting as the right field in the Ultimate Pitcher’s park. But, I would still enjoy seeing any slug fest at a stadium like this. However, it would be very hard for the home team to secure any big pitchers and some teams have a hard enough time with this already. I would prefer to watch a game at the Ultimate Pitcher’s park over this one; or the two stadiums could be combined into one park that would be similar to the old Polo Grounds. Now that would be awesome.

Transformers: Robots in Disguise… Enjoy.

Are You A Baseball Fan… Five Must Knows For All Baseball Fans

I’m going to bust out some of my favorite posts from the past. Not because I’m lazy or too busy. Mainly because the information is so interesting that even when I re-read the articles I always come away wondering something different which drives me to research more into it.

So enjoy some posts from the past over the next few days.

Originally posted on Aug 22, 2010:

Between practicing your moonwalk and trying not to get caught on Chatroulette, you may consider yourself an avid baseball fan even though you duck from an incoming foul ball and let it hit the only girl you had a shot with. You may know who won the past five championships, or who owns the home run record, or how the Oakland A’s GM has changed present day baseball (It’s soon to be a movie as well). But here are Five must knows that many baseball fans may not know, but should know.

5. Baseball is just using what Mother Nature gave us:

Pine Tar and Delaware River Rubbing Mud

Delaware Rubbing Mud

Delaware River Rubbing Mud


Have you noticed how many baseballs are used in One Major League game? Numbers vary, but the Pirates report more than nine-dozen per home game. And more than 900,000 Rawlings baseballs a year for all 30 big league clubs. But, have you ever observed the condition of one of those 4,548 foul balls you caught (seriously, check out the “baseball collector”. He may need a girl friend… or a job. Who am I kidding, I’m jealous). That’s right. A “new” baseball isn’t even close to those smooth, slippery, white, shiny Rawlings baseballs given to you by your Little League Umpire. Instead, they are dirty, dingy, gritty baseballs with 0 pitches on them. You may be asking “Seriously, they come out of the box in that condition?” The answer is: No. The MLB has a contract with a family owned company out of New Jersey to purchase aged mud from the Delaware River. This Lena Blackburne mud is then applied by some pour bum / sap the umpire attendant at the baseball stadium to EVERY baseball. The umpire attendant can only pray that the game doesn’t go into extra innings and has to rub another 100 baseballs.

It’s believed that the mud rubbing story begins back in 1920 when Ray Chapman got beaned in the head and became the first MLB player to die from a baseball game related injury. This tragic incident led officials to search for a solution to baseballs slipping from a pitcher’s grasp and heading in a wayward direction. They tried chewing tobacco, shoe polish, crazy glue infield dirt, etc. Pitchers didn’t mind these solutions as they roughed up the cover of the baseball allowing the ball to have more drag resulting in more movement. But officials weren’t pleased with the results. Cue Lena Blackburne, a manager for the Philadelphia Athletics. He decided to cure and age some mud from his favorite fishing hole and rub it onto some baseballs. Before he knew it, every MLB team was requesting his “special” mud. For the entire story, click here. (seriously, why can’t I be making my living selling mud I found on some river bank)

Pine Tar
Some of us may remember seeing the “Pine Tar Incident” on the local news. Well others of us may remember seeing the highlights a years later. Well even others may not even have the slightest idea what the “Pine Tar Incident” was or what Pine Tar even has to do with baseball. With recent advancements in batting gloves (they can even wick moisture away from the hands), pine tar has become almost irrelevant in the new age of baseball. But there are still some players out there that bat “au naturel” (ie. no batting gloves): Jason Kendall, Jorge Posada, Vladimir Guerrero are just a few. Pine Tar used to be extremely prevalent in baseball locker rooms. It was liberally applied to bat handles just above the batter’s grip. The purpose: leaving excess pine tar above the player’s grip allowed him to apply some Pine Tar to his grip to increase his grip during his at-bat. However, a rule prior to the mid-80’s stated that pine tar could not extend past 18 inches from the knob of the bat (Brett’s was 23 inches). After the game, the American League president overturned the call and the game was finished later that year. And after the season, the rule was revoked (there still is rule 1.10(c) but the bat is simply removed from the game for any substance extending past 18 inches from the knob of the bat). There are several speculations on how this rule came to be. Some sources say it was to protect the batter (Pine tar would accumulate on balls hit in play allowing the pitcher more grip and snap to increase ball movement). While other sources attribute the rule to a cheap owner (Calvin Griffith, owner of the Washington Senators) who was sick of paying for replacement baseballs that accumulated the pine tar (how upset would he be now having to buy at least 6 dozen balls a game). No matter the rules, Pine Tar is a tradition in baseball that I hope never dies.

4. Records that won’t be broken

Mark Spitz said “Records are meant to be broken”, but he forgot to mention that there are some records that physically can’t be broken. Every sport has them and most of the records that can’t be broken typically come from the early era of the sport. For example, no one will beat Cy Young’s record of most career wins with 511 wins which was mounted during the 1890’s. Let’s put that record into perspective. No pitcher in the 2009 season won 20 games; and in the current era of baseball, a pitcher would have to win 20 games for 25 seasons and he would fall 11 short of the record. That fact alone is the reason why the coveted pitcher’s award at the end of the season is named “The Cy Young”. Now that doesn’t mean all the unbreakable records came from the 19th century. Most are familiar with the name Nolan Ryan. The “Nolan Express” is in the midst of a bidding war on ebay purchasing the Texas Rangers (and recently won), but Nolan Ryan is known most for his ability to make the ball miss a batter’s bat. His 5714 career strikeouts will never be touched by another pitcher (Mark Reynolds could potential top that as a batter).

Other pitching records that will never be touched:

  • In 1904, Jack Chesbro won 41 games in a single season for the New York Highlanders.
  • Cy Young has 749 complete games while throwing a total of 7356 Innings Pitched. The current active complete games leader… Roy Halladay with 57.
  • Speaking of Innings Pitched, Ed Walsh pitched a staggering 464 innings in 1908. That’s almost twice what the league leader throws in the current era.
  • The 2010 season may be the year of the no-hitters, but Johnny Vander Meer’s 2 consecutive no-hitters is even more impressive than the 2 (should have been 3) perfect games thrown by Braden and Halladay in 2010.
  • As impressive (if not more) than two consecutive no-hitters is having Walter Johnson’s record of 110 career shutouts. This record won’t be broken unless a pitcher always gets to pitch against the TB Rays on their off days (the Rays have almost been no-hit 7 times in 2010)

In my opinion, a pitcher’s dual is an exciting game to witness. But a good ol’ fashioned slug fest between two teams usually means more baseball gets to be watched and fans seem to be more involved. You don’t see any fans sitting in the stands with signs reading “Sub 1.00 ERA” for Josh Johnson or Ubaldo Jimenez. Or signs reading “perfect game” for Armando Galarraga (I believe that’s a no-no in acknowledging you are witnessing a no hitter and jinxing the pitcher, see un-written rules section below). You do see “600” signs every where these days. A-rod finally got his, while Milwaukee should just take down theirs as they jinxed Hoffman. There was a lot of commotion recently on unbreakable hitters records with the 1998 home run chase between Sosa and McGwire chasing Roger Marris’ single season home run record. Then there was the talk about Hank’s unbreakable career home run total which Bonds beat (and A-rod will get shortly). But there are some truly remarkable batting records that will never be broken. Here are a few:

  • Let’s start with one we are all familiar with. Cal Ripken’s 2632 consecutive games played. The current active streak belongs to the fattest vegetarian, Prince Fielder at 294 consecutive games for the BrewCrew.
  • Carl Crawford is the current active leader in career triples with 99 and he’s only 28 yrs old. But even on that pace, he has to play almost 30 seasons to catch Sam Crawford’s career record of 309 triples. Unless they bring back the Polo Grounds, I don’t see this record being broken for a while.
  • George Brett (mentioned earlier for loving pine tar) amounted an amazing 0.390 batting average in 1980. And is the last player to even challenge a 0.400 season batting average. Rogers Hornsby’s record of a 0.424 batting average in the 1924 season is completely safe.
  • Joe Joe Dimaggio is one of the greats. And he has solidified his immortality with his 56 game hit streak in 1941. Players seem to be celebrating 2 game hit streaks these days.
  • Contrary to what some people may think, Eddie Gaedel and his one and a half inch strike zone was not the toughest player to strikeout. That honor belongs to Joe Sewell with 114 career strikeouts in 7132 at-bats. In 2009, a total of 51 players had 114 or more strikeouts. Mark Reynolds almost doubled that with 223 (a single season record itself) in 2009 and hes on pace for 228 K’s in 2010.
  • Recently (on July 30), the Rockies did the unthinkable against the Cubs by scoring 12 runs with two outs in one inning with 11 consecutive hits. But even more impressive for a single inning feat is Fernando Tatis’ 2 grand slams in a single inning in 1999. And both were against the same pitcher (Chan Ho Park). That will never be repeated… ever.

3. Unwritten Rules

Dallas Braden's New Fasion Line

You all know the rules of baseball or you probably wouldn’t be reading this post. But what some may not know is that there are several “rules” that are observed by players which are not included in the official rule book. These are the unwritten rules that most players respect. Some fall into the baseball basics, like left and right fielders conceed any ball the center fielder calls. Some are out of superstition and well known, such as “Don’t talk to the starting pitcher who is actively pursuing a no-hitter.” In fact, you aren’t even suppose to udder those words if you are a fan watching the game or the game may end like this or this.

But there are many more rules that are part of the ‘unwritten code’ among baseball players. One was brought up recently this year and sparked a lot of controversy (and a new t-shirt line). While Dallas Braden of the Oakland A’s was on the mound facing the New York Yankees, A-rod made an out at third base and proceeded back the first base dugout. The shortest route: across the pitcher’s mound. However, that is a big no-no. No player is ‘allowed’ (by the unwritten code) to set foot on the pitcher’s mound during the inning. And Braden made sure A-rod knew he broke the rule (Braden then proceeded to pitch the first perfect game of the 2010 season during his next start).

Most players/coaches say that new unwritten codes are written each day (some say they didn’t know about the one A-rod broke), but there are several that are well known by most all players. One is to never try to break-up a no-hitter by bunting for a base hit. This also happened recently as Evan Longoria tried to bunt for a single in the 5th inning while Dallas Braden still had an active perfect game going (this is the same perfect game mentioned earlier… this guy was the center of controversy earlier in 2010). And Longoria and his coach defended the choice. I do, however, have some issues on this ‘rule’. Does this mean the first few batters in the first two innings can not attempt to bunt for a single? Isn’t the leadoff batter suppose to have the team’s speed and his goal is to successfully make it to first base, so can he bunt in his first at-bat?

Other well known ‘codes’ are:

  • Don’t swing at the first pitch after a pitcher has given up back-to-back home runs
  • Don’t swing for the fences on a 3-0 count
  • Don’t taunt the pitcher that just gave up the home run you hit (Prince Fielder learned this one after the bowling pin incident)
  • Pitchers stay in the dugout at least until the end of the inning in which they were pulled
  • When hit by a pitch, don’t rub the mark
  • Relievers take it east when facing other relievers
  • Don’t walk between the pitcher and catcher (or Umpire) when walking into the batter’s box

The list continues. There is even a book published (just bought on the Kindle) on this topic as well as several other articles on what the most well known are (some strategic codes, others superstitious codes). Yahoo’s Sports Blog also has several good articles I recommend reading.

2. Waivers Isn’t a Fantasy Baseball Term

Fantasy sports has come a long way since their beginning (Check out the ESPN 30 for 30 film on the first Fantasy Baseball Rotisserie League) when scores had to be computed by hand and mailed out to all the participants. Now that Al Gore invented the internet, the fantasy business has boomed with a reported 15 million people playing fantasy football in 2003 and reportedly being an estimated $4 Billion industry. What ever sport or format you play (baseball rotisserie is my personal favorite), you would have heard of the waiver wire.

The most common form of the waiver wire is players dropped by one fantasy team can not be picked up immediately. The player must pass through a waiting period (typically 2 days) where any team (except the one that dropped the player) can put in a request for the player. After the waiting period, the team that has the highest waiver priority that put in a request for the player receives the player. The waiver priority is typically the reverse order of the draft order (last pick gets 1st waiver priority, etc) and a successful request moves your team back to the end of the line. But there is also another popular setup where the waiver order is the reverse order of the leagues standings. The great thing about fantasy waivers is that it wasn’t created by fantasy sports. Waivers is a real process and is accomplished in a very similar matter in Major League Baseball.

Baseball waivers is a complicated process that many fans just don’t understand. It’s a process that allows MLB teams to execute trades after the trade deadline. A process that allows teams to cut payrolls. A process to allow teams to block competitors from making that team more competitive. And surprisingly, most MLB players end up on waivers before the end of August.

So what is the general rules for waivers:

  • A Player put on waivers can be recalled from waivers only once in August (either no teams put a claim in on the player or a deal couldn’t be worked out with the winning waiver claim team). If he is put on a second time, he will not be coming back to that team again.
  • Any team (and multiple teams) can put in a request for a player on waivers. But similar to fantasy, the team with the worst record in the same league (AL or NL) gets to be the only team to make a deal for that player. If no team in the same league put in a request, the team with the worst record in the other league that made a waiver request for the player gets the only shot at acquiring that player.
  • If no team puts a claim in on the player on waivers, that player can be traded to any team
  • Any team can put in a claim for any reason. If the team wants to block an opponent from acquiring the player on waivers, they can put in a request. But beware, if the team placing the player on waivers is simply trying to dump the players contract to save some cash, the team with the successful waiver claim could get stuck with the player’s entire contract

For a more in depth waiver analysis, check out Jayson Stark’s column on ESPN.

1. The Original Rules

Baseball is a simple game. You get 27 outs. Score the most runs in those 9 innings and you win. Don’t record three strikes against you, don’t hit a ball that can be caught before it hits the ground, and don’t let the ball beat you to first base otherwise you are one of these outs. Well, maybe there are a lot more rules than that (there are only 136 pages of official rules). But did you know that the original rules consisted of only 20 different rules. And some of them were strictly due to courtesy (Rule 1: Members must strictly observe the time agreed upon for exercise, and be punctual in their attendance).

The rules have evolved a lot over the course of baseball history. The original rules were that a game did not consist of 9 innings. Instead, the first team to score 21 runs (aces as they called them) won. Unless they had more “hands” (aka innings) than the other team, in that case, the other team got another chance to score more than the team who scored 21 runs first. Can you imagine how long a game could last? The Cardinals and Mets just played a 6 hour and 53 minute extra inning game in April 2010. The game was scoreless through 18 innings, tied at 1 after 19, and finally the Mets won in the 20th inning by a score of 2-1. Another interesting rule was pitcher’s could not “throw” the ball; they had to “pitch” it (their position was named pitcher for a reason). This means that prior to 1884 pitches were delivered to the batters underhand in a horseshoe type motion. That’s just wrong. Another rule was that foul balls were considered mulligans, not strikes. This allowed batters to foul off pitches just waiting for the perfect pitch. I wish adult softball leagues had this rule, but instead I get to hit 2 foul balls and have it be considered a strikeout.

Another original rule that allowed for loop holes in strategy was if the 3rd strike was dropped, the runner MUST run to first even if its occupied. This allowed a catcher to intentionally drop a 3rd strike, and if bases were loaded, pick it up, step on home, throw to third, and then throw to second for an easy triple play. The rule quickly changed to not allow a runner to advance to first on a dropped 3rd strike if first base was occupied.

Then there was the ability to steal back first base. Yes, ‘Back’ first base. Similar to the strategy today, if a team had runners on first and third, the player on first would steal second trying to draw a throw down to second so the runner on third could score. If the player did not draw a throw by stealing second, he could attempt to steal back first base to try and draw a throw to allow the runner on third to score. This is no longer legal after you have successfully advanced a base and the play is considered dead. Unlike the case of Lloyd Moseby who stole second base… twice… in one play (check out the video here).

Another loop hole in the rules was the ability for a batter to declare himself out on a ground ball to remove the force out with a runner on 1st. This effectively eliminated double plays. Just think, the Minnesota Twins would not be in the playoff hunt this season without their 109 twin killings (aka double plays).

Rules have changed since then trying to make the game fair for all. But there are some rule changes that never made it into the rule book. In 1893, there was a fear that the game was becoming too much a pitcher’s game (they were still 100 yrs away from the steroids era). So it was proposed to move the pitcher mound to 63ft 8 inches or 65ft 9 inches; and changing the count from 4 balls and 3 strikes to 4 balls and 4 strikes.

Here are the original twenty rules.

And those are what I believe to be five must knows for the want to be baseball fan. Hopefully, you read something new and interesting this post. If you didn’t learn anything new, then you truly are a baseball fan.

MLB’s Wokman’s Comp Is Pretty Good

Let’s be honest, we all wish we were professional athletes. Maybe not for the working hours. Maybe not for the travel. Maybe not even for the game. But we all would do it for the money. Professional athletes get ludicrous salaries. Some of them are guaranteed money which means they don’t have to perform at any level and they still get paid. I wish I could get raises based on previous performance and then not have to continue to deliver that level any longer.

If that doesn’t make you jealous or think professional sports business is a little upside down, then let me tell you about a little loophole that allows teams to roster more players but makes MLB look like it may have the best workman’s compensation policy on the planet.

If a player on the 40-man roster gets injured, ideally the team would like to be able to replace that team member so that they can replenish the 25-man roster without having to kick the injured player off the roster and run the risk of losing that player to another team. So, because of a slight loop hole, the team can add that player to the big league 25-man roster and then place him on the 60 day DL. This allows this player to stay on the 40-man roster and since he is now on the DL, the team can then add another player to the 40-man roster.

So what does that mean? Why am I even bring this up? Well, for that injured player being transitioned from the 40-man roster to the 25-man roster, he is now considered a professional level MLB player, so he has to be paid the MLB minimum salary. That’s a pretty good compensation. His base salary is going to jump from 5 digits to almost 7 digits. Just look at Burch Smith of the Tampa Bay Rays. He was a minor leaguer making about $80k and then had the dreaded Tommy John surgery (which is an epidemic in the MLB these days). The Rays wanted to keep him on the 40-man roster so they promoted him the the 25-man roster and put him on the DL. This gave Burch Smith a workmans comp of $500k which is 500% more than his season starting salary.

I will sign up for tommy john surgery right now if it means I get 1 year off of work and I make 500% more than I do now during that time. I think all of us would. And if you are shaking your head as if you wouldn’t, then you are lying to me and yourself.

I don’t blame the industry to give back to the players that have helped the game build a fan base. But how about giving some of that money back to the fans. Ticket prices are outrageous and the majority of the fan base can’t afford to experience as many live games as they would want to. How about lowering ticket prices which unfortunately lowers teams’ incomes, but it will lower the lucrative player contracts. Teams will still be able to make money and maybe even more money if the fans walking into the stadium had more money in their pockets from lower ticket prices to spend on team apparel, food, beverages, etc. As an avid fan, I can only dream that someday I will be lucky enough to be able to afford to go to a World Series game.

Schnide Update

Someone always has to be picked last in dodgeball. And someone always has to be the last one to hit a home run in the Kings of Cork Home Run Derby.

What really surprised me is that Evan Gattis got off the schnide prior to our schnide rider, Cedar Rapids Skip. Gattis currently has 1 HR (thanks to tonight) and 14 strikeouts. That doesn’t sound that awful, until you multiply those numbers by 20 where 280k’s in a season is straight up ridiculous.

Our lone goose egg team Cedar Rapids Skip doesn’t have a bad team. Stanton is the clear favorite in group A. Tulo isn’t on the DL so he should be hitting them out any day. And Cespedes hasn’t lost 90 lbs this offseason. It’s only a matter of time before The Skip gets of the schnide and mounts a comeback towards the top of the standings.

I always like to state that no one is out of this competition after April. And the current leader Cruzin’ for a Bruisin’ is the perfect example. That little *2013* next to their team signifies one of the best comebacks in Kings of Cork history. Their team started May in dead last of the 2013 season after a horrible April. I think their team had like 8 total home runs and their team put the pedal to the metal the remaining months and took home the crown.

So don’t give up if your team is looking pathetic after 10 days of baseball. If you are in the top 10, take a picture because you may not see those beautiful single digit numbers in your team ranking ever again.

Quick Hits: April 9

Things that I noticed in the first few days of the baseball season:

  • Wrigley Field was a shit show Opening Day
  • Sonny Gray looked fantastic taking a no-no into the 8th
  • Who do Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez think they are? Two homers each on Opening Day
  • Rain or Shine, Cubs weren’t playing on Tuesday because of Opening Day shit show
  • Mat Latos got rocked by the rebuilding Braves. 7 Runs in 0.2 innings. Could be a long season for the Marlins
  • Brett Lawrie defied Moneyball. He scored a Golden Sombrero by striking out 4 times on Tuesday while only seeing 12 pitches… That’s called patience
  • Adrian Gonzalez looked like a Padres again with 3-homers in Wednesdays game
  • Cubs and Cards played a barn burner on Wednesday. 2-0 Cubs win with 5 total hits in the entire game
  • Tigers have scored 22 runs in 3 games. Think they have something to prove in the AL Central this season
  • Billy Hamilton is really fast. Really, really fast. He has 7 stolen bases already. Thats a pace of 370+ for the season
  • Not to be out done by Lawrie, Evan Gattis has 2 golden sombreros this season… and in back-to-back games
  • ARod is back! Hit HR #655 on Thursday

It’s About Time: 2015 Baseball Season Is Here

Well we made it. It was touch and go for a while, but we made it through the horrible winter stretch with no baseball.

Opening night was pleasant for some of us, for others, they may be saying “There’s always next year” already, and for a select view, they are praising functioning plumbing.

Most of the rest of the league kicked off the regular season today (Brewer fans at least were drunk and charging up for the Final 4 championship that they didn’t realize that the Rockies destroyed them). And since the season has now officially begun, the Kings of Cork HR Derby Standings has been officially published with all the team details. If you need help figuring out how to use the standings, here is a help guide (but really its as easy as clicking on the team’s names).

We have a record 108 teams in the competition this year. I’ll post a heat map one of these days of where the teams are distributed but it pretty much spans the entire US (with a lot in the upper Midwest). Of the 108 teams, we didn’t have a single duplicate team selection for the 6th straight season (that’s every season for those who are counting).

Before we get to the player selection breakdown, I always like to give props to the teams that are creative with their selection process:

  • This year we have Guys with two first names who selected players from each group that have last names that are used as first names also (also this team is the current leader after day 1).
  • We also have Mariners 3 4 5 6 and Stanton who somehow figured out they could pick almost the entire Mariners lineup except for someone in group A.
  • There were 2 teams that appeared to focus on common letters in players’ names. Kelly’s A-team chose players that have first names beginning with A. And Mega Mashers keyed in on players’ names with the letter M.
  • And we have a few creative team names playing on Jorge Soler’s name: So Long Soler and Soler Powered.

Ok, enough is enough, onto the selection statistics.

Group A
An overwhelming amount of people (42%) went with the obvious choice of Giancarlo Stanton hoping that another fastball doesn’t find his face. Another ~20% of teams went with the other young phenom of Trout. Grand Slam and FRANtastic Five both went out on a limb and were the only teams to select a player (Ortiz and Chris Davis respectively). Only time will tell if their gambles pay off in Group A. The rest of the teams were fairly divided but no player in group A was left snubbed.

  • Stanton – 45
  • Trout – 21
  • Abreu – 10
  • Cabrera/Ecarn/Rizzo – 6
  • Bautista/Carter – 5
  • Goldschmidt – 2
  • Davis/Ortiz – 1

Group B
The majority aren’t afraid that Nelson Cruz is moving to the deep caverns of Seattle. Josh Donaldson was the next most popular selection who is also a popular pick for AL MVP. Next in double digits was the young swing-and-a-miss style hitter George Springer. Hannah Made Me Sign Up and Silly Fish Picks were the gamblers in group B. They were the only teams to select Victor Martinez and Mike Napoli. After that the picks are fairly evenly distributed and the only goose egg goes to Evan Gattis who is playing through a wrist injury right now.

  • Cruz – 22
  • Donaldson – 16
  • Springer – 11
  • Trumbo/Tulo – 7
  • Jones/Pujols – 6
  • Kemp – 5
  • Fielder/Cargo/Moss – 5
  • Beltre/Bruce/Longoria – 3
  • Alvarez/Howard – 2
  • VMart/Napoli – 1
  • Gattis – 0

Group C
As we get down into the lower groups with more player options, more variety in player selections occurs as expected. The popular picks were Kris Bryant (who isn’t even in the majors with no real ETA but smashed like 9+ HR in Spring Training) and Andrew McCutchen (he is not Scottish) with 12 teams choosing them each. It seems like Group C has a lot of the young players with a lot of upside that we are all fasinated by (oooo, shiny objects). Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes, and Bryce Harper seemed to attract the next level of team selections. Lets Play Two was the only team to take Devin Mesoraco and for the 2nd time, Hannah Made Me Sign Up also gambled and was the only team to take Chase Headley. There were 7 non-selections and 2 of them combined for 3 homers on opening day (I can’t believe no one selected Hanley Ramirez).

  • Bryant/McCutchen – 12
  • Puig – 10
  • Cespedes/Harper – 9
  • Braun/J. Upton – 7
  • AGon/Soler/Duda/Cano – 5
  • Frazier/Votto – 3
  • Arcia/Holliday/LaRoche/JD Martinez – 2
  • Headley/Mesoraco – 1
  • Baez/Lind/McCann/Pearce/HanRam/Rosario/Teixeira – 0

Group D
I don’t know if it’s because we have a lot of Brewer fans in the derby or what, but Carlos Gomez must have done his campaigning because 18 teams selected the 5 category stud this season (he’s never hit more than 24 HR in a season). Carlos Santana (not the singer) grabbed 12 selections, Buster Posey got 11, and Kyle Seager scored 10. Surprisingly in the group with the most selection choices, those 4 players added up to be almost 50% of the derby selection. The gamblers in group D were The Rando-mizer (Gyorko), The Patriots don’t deserve… (Morse), Scotts Jogging Shorts (ARod), Guys with two first names (Tomas), The Geezerhawks (ARam), and keeping up with their trend, Hannah Made Me Sign Up (Hart) has another solo pick.

  • Gomez – 18
  • Santana – 12
  • Posey – 11
  • Seager – 10
  • Heyward – 8
  • Desmond – 7
  • Arenado – 6
  • Adams/Freeman/Ozuna – 5
  • Byrd/K.Davis/A.Garcia – 3
  • Beltran/Granderson/Rasmus – 2
  • Gyorko/Hart/Morse/ARam/ARod/Tomas – 1
  • Gallo/J.Hamilton/Hardy/Middlebrooks/Morales/Moreland/Myers/Pence/Quentin/
    Ramos/Rendon/Reynolds/Singleton/Swisher/Wieters/Vargas/Zimmerman/Zunino – 0

Group E
I always like Group E. Mainly due to the fact that it doesn’t really matter who you pick because its all about luck in group E. And second, because I really like seeing write-ins. Players I maybe forgot about or players people are projecting to be a break out star this season. Before we get to those players though, let’s look at the most common picks. Kung-fu Panda (Pablo Sandoval) was selected the most at 14. Brian Dozier and youngster Joc Pederson were chosen 13 and 12 times respectively. And Michael Brantley had 9 devoted fans select him.

Now onto the write-in players. These are the guys that weren’t part of the multiple choice list. Surprisingly, some of the guys were written in more than once. Those guys were Brandon Belt (3), Luuuuucroy (2), and Manny Machado (2). I believe Belt and Machado are coming back from injuries that limited them last season. And if Lucroy turns half of his doubles into home runs, he is an excellent Group E choice. The other solo write-ins are Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez, Logan Morrison, Luis Valbuena, Gregory Polanco, and Steven Souza.

Here are the total break downs in Group E:

  • Sandoval – 14
  • Dozier – 13
  • Pederson – 12
  • Brantley – 9
  • Walker – 8
  • Gordon – 6
  • Cuddyer/Y.Gomes – 4
  • Calhoun/Kinsler/Rios/Werth/Belt – 3
  • Lucroy/Machado/G.Jones – 2
  • Arencibia/Butler/Craig/Francisco/Joyce/Reddick/Peralta/Salty/Smoak/
    C.Young/Hosmer/Perez/Morrison/Valbuena/Polanco/Souza/Utley – 1

Good Luck this season and may the best/luckiest team win the 2015 Kings of Cork Home Run Derby.

Will Smith Fan Mail

There has to be a couple hundred people in the US named Will Smith. But two of them may be attempting a Hollywood Bro-mance.

One is the Brewer’s relief pitcher Will Smith. And he reached out to the most famous Will Smith looking for a new friend.

Straight from Will Smith’s mailbag:

Dear Will Smith,

It’s me, Will Smith! But you can call me Will. How are you? I am well. Did you get my first three letters? I think the post office might be losing the because I have not heard back. I know you’re busy making movies, but I would really like to meet you. I’m a big fan, and not just because we have the same name. Did you know … we have the same name? How are Jaden and Willow? Kids grow up so fast, don’t they? When we meet in person, I think we’ll have a lot to talk about; we might even become best friends.

Besides having the same name, here are some other things we have in common:

• We’re both tall, although I’m taller.

• We both like to get jiggy with it.

• We both look great in black suits.

• We both like Tommy Lee Jones, although now that I think about it, everyone loves Tommy Lee Jones.

• You were in “Wild, Wild West.” I own a cowboy hat.

• We both have short, dorky sidekicks. You have Carlton, I have Tyler Thornburg.

These are just a few of the many things we have in common. Maybe after you get done filming “Bad Boys 3,” you can come to one of my baseball games. I promise, if you come to the game, I will strike out so many batters for you. Please come to Milwaukee whenever you want; Ed Sedar even said he’ll pay for your trip. I can’t wait to meet you and become BFFs.

Sincerely,

The “Other” Will Smith

P.S.: Is it cool if I tell people we hang out all of the time? If not, I’ll stop.

P.P.S.: I have a giant poster of you from “Independence Day” hanging in my locker. And I don’t care if Jim Henderson makes fun of me; I’m not taking it down.

I know if I was Will Smith (the ‘Fresh’ one) that I would definitely reach out to the Brewers pitcher with at least a tweet (#WillMeetsWill). And if I was Will Smith (the not so ‘Fresh’ one), I would get Thornburg, recreate a scene from ‘Fresh Prince’, tape it, and send it to Will Smith (the ‘Fresh’ one) to try and convince him to take a selfie with me.

Regardless the outcome, this is plain awesomeness.

Turn Right. Destination Ahead: Unemployment

Maybe Google Maps should manage the Cubs. Because it seems that they know where to put Edwin Jackson more than the Cubs front office does.

On Tuesday March 24, Edwin Jackson went to the wrong baseball stadium prior to his scheduled start. By the time he showed up to the correct stadium, the game was already nearing the 2nd inning. He entered the game immediately without getting to warm up and promptly gave up 8 runs on 9 hits over 1.2 innings. Jackson said Google Maps took him to the wrong stadium and is blaming the program and not the user.

Edwin Jackson signed a $52 million deal in 2013 and is owed $22 million of that over the next two seasons. He has a 5.58 ERA as a Cub and currently holds a 7.59 ERA this spring. I don’t think Google Maps is the one in the wrong Edwin Jackson…

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