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Passing Zone Ahead: Major Milestones

There is a saying that goes something like “Rules are meant to be broken”… er, that’s not the quote I wanted to apply to A-rod…

“Records are made to be broken”. There that’s the quote I was looking for. And breaking records Arod is trying to do prior to his unbelievable contract expiring in New York.

ARod passed Willie Mays for 4th all-time on the career HR list with his homer on May 7th (He has 3 since then for a total of 664, or 98 behind Bonds). And then 20 days later (May 37), ARod passes Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig for 3rd all-time on the career RBI list at 1995 RBI (only 302 more to go to break Hank Arron’s all-time record).

Steroid asterisk aside, its always incredible and jaw dropping to see records be broken or nearly broken. To be a sports fan witnessing history just makes for great story telling. I can remember the McGwire/Sosa home run chase and watching the game live when McGwire send a line drive out of the park to break the record (against Sosa and the Cubs no less). Then a few days later, Ripken ended his Ironman streak at 2632 games played. A few years later, I watched Bonds break the McGwire mark with 71 homers in a season followed by breaking the Hank Arron 756 home run mark.

When the Brewers were bad (similar to this season), I can remember even cheering on Jose Hernandez to break the single season strikeout record as a hitter (which Mark Reynolds has destroyed since then). He promptly benched himself 1 shy of the record for like 4 out of the last 5 games so that he wouldn’t be cheered for when striking out.

Good times down memory lane. But let’s look ahead to the future. What players should you be paying attention to this season as they near significant MLB milestones.

  • Alex Rodriguez:
    • 3000 hits – Projected June 20th. Currently at 2982 hits.
    • 8th All-time Runs Leader – Projected June 1. Currently at 1947 runs. 3 away from overtaking Stan Musial.
  • Albert Pujols:
    • 17th All-time Home Run Leader – Projected June 27th. Currently at 529. 6 away from overtaking Jamie Foxx.
    • 20th All-time Doubles Leader – Projected July 3rd. Currently at 568 doubles. 7 away from overtaking 20th place.
    • 16th All-time Home Run Leader – Projected July 9th. Currently at 529. 8 away from overtaking Mickey Mantle.
    • 19th All-time Doubles Leader – Projected July 30th. Currently at 568 doubles. 11 away from overtaking Wade Boggs.
    • 18th All-time Doubles Leader – Projected August 27th. Currently at 568 doubles. 16 away from overtaking Robin Yount.
    • 17th All-time Doubles Leader – Projected September 8th. Currently at 568 doubles. 18 away from overtaking Rafael Palmeiro.
    • 15th All-time Home Run Leader – Projected September 20th. Currently at 529. 20 away from overtaking Mike Schmidt.
  • David Ortiz:
    • 20th All-time Doubles Leader – Projected October 2nd. Currently at 555 doubles. 20 away from overtaking 20th place.
  • Ichiro Suzuki:
    • 38th All-time Steals Leader – Projected July 28th. Currently at 490 SB. 6 away from overtaking Willie Keeler.
    • 3000 Hits – Projected early 2016 season. Currently at 2876 hits.

Bee is for Baseball

Bees have become baseball fans. But I don’t think the bees feel welcomed by the baseball community and protests seem to becoming more and more prevalent with some turning aggressive. We need to start including bees as fans to bring back the peace. Its a win-win for both the bees and baseball. The bees can be counted in the popularity counts which would put baseball back on top as the most popular sport in America.

Don’t Bee-lieve me that the bees aren’t an organized protest (OK, I’m done with the Bee comments)? Take a look at the timeline below:

  • July 2, 2009 – PETCO Park San Diego – The Astros and Padres are delayed for 52 minutes when 2000 bees swarmed Kyle Blanks in left field in the 9th inning. A bee keeper was called in to take care of the unexpected fans. Its too bad too because those bees would have put the attendance over 25000. Something the Padres are hoping more of in 2015 after spending a lot of money in the off-season on big names.
  • May 18, 2012 – Coors Field Denver – A camera man is evicted from his camera well when thousands of bees take it over in the 5th inning. The umps must of had important dinner plans with their wives because they barely halted the game and demanded the teams keep playing. A vacuum showed up in the 6th inning and relocated the bees outside of the stadium.
  • Sept 22, 2013 – Angel Stadium Anaheim – Felix Hernandez runs screaming like a little girl when bees start taking over the field. After the bees successfully scare the King, they move to the outfield and scatter the players out there. After 23 minutes, a man with a Gatorade cooler full of honey and wielding a broom takes care of the bees just long enough for them to terrorize the Angels outfield in the next half inning. No one was harmed but the bees are getting more aggressive in their fly in protests.
  • March 16, 2014 – Salt River Fields Scottsdale – Bees swarm the left field fence padding between the Brewers and the Diamondbacks. Left fielder Parra wanted nothing to do with the bees and headed to the infield waiting for them to leave. Many believe this upset the bees whom were simply looking for autographs. Now they just felt excluded.
  • March 18, 2014 – Steinbrenner Field Tampa – Things are starting to get ugly. Bees invade left field causing the Red Sox to panic. Teixeira decides to try distracting the bees by leading them out of the stadium with a trail of honey. But the inexperienced ground crew decide to use chemical warfare on the bees causing casualties over a 7 minute span. This may be considered the shot heard ’round the world for bees vs baseball.
  • April 3, 2014 – Chase Field Phoenix – Upset by the attack the previous month, the bees try to protest in center field but the game starts anyways. Angel Pagan sends a warning shot out into them when AJ Pollock charging. The bees retreat and plot their attack.
  • March 8, 2015 – Diablo Stadium Tempe – Bees decide to avoid the players and just sit with the other fans at a Royals vs Angels game. However, the fans avoid them and masked man comes charging in with chemical warfare. Bees lives were lost that day.
  • March 20, 2015 ‘B Day’ – Elk Fields Utah – The bees have had it. No more peaceful protests. Thousands of bees descend from left field and start attacking fans. One family sustained the most injuries when the mother was stung 15 times, the son was stung 40+ times, and the father was stung over 400 times… in the face!. Firefighters were called in and due to the aggressiveness of the bees, they had to take to chemical warfare. Bees lives were lost but let’s not forget their message or the war may never end. Bees are for baseball!

Cactus League Stadiums – Diablo Stadium

We continue the review of the Tempe/Phoenix area stadiums. The second stadium, Diablo Stadium, is about 5 miles to the south of the first stadium I reviewed, Municipal Stadium.

Diablo Stadium – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim??? of California???

Diablo Stadium

    I’ll be honest. This stadium is a bit blurry in my memory. I know some of the guys will say its because we hit up a local OTB/Bar early in the morning and then had cab races, but I’m going to blame it on my visit being two years ago. The first thing you will notice about this stadium when you walk up to it is the amazing front entrance. It looks and feels like a professional MLB park. But after that, it’s hard for me to get too excited about this park. The games are typically packed as well do to the close proximity to Los Angeles which gives easy access to weekend trips to baseball games. So you may want to try to get in a weekday game at this stadium.

    Like most of the other Cactus League stadiums, there is lawn seating at Diablo Stadium. The problem with the lawn seating is that it is only in left field which makes it crowded and sometimes sold out. The rightfield foul line has bleacher style seating but I can’t vouch for how comfortable they are. And for the most part, the concourses are open but are more narrow than some of the other stadiums. Once you get near home plate, the concourses are covered which provides some shade for fans with pasty white skin. The open areas of the concourse allow for views of the surrounding foothills, but business always trumps nature and there are several office buildings too close for my liking.

    If you want to get close to the players, stick to the leftfield lawn seats along the foul line and the right field foul line bleachers. The bullpens are located here out on the field but the seats are so close it almost feels like you are in the bullpen. And because you can get so close, you can have conversations with the players and easily snag game balls from them.

    The surrounding area has a lot to be desired as well. There is plenty of parking and is typically well policed to allow for quick entry and exit. Another option is to park further away and take one of the many peddle cabs outside the stadium. As mentioned earlier, there are more office buildings than anything. You can find plenty of options of fast food in the nearby blocks, but if you are looking for a sports bar or restaurant, get ready for a drive. The expressway is right by the stadium, so getting to other locations in the city is easy. Perfect for going to a different game.

The Commish Awards – Cactus League Spring Training

Do you hear that?! The slap of the ball hitting the catchers mitt. The crack of the ball coming off the bat. The sizzling of pale white skin being burned by the sun of people who haven’t seen sunlight in 4 months. Isn’t it great?! If you haven’t got the chance to experience spring baseball live, you need to put it near the top of your bucket list right now.

I prefer the Cactus League. A) Because the Brewers play there. B) Because all the teams are within 30-40 minutes of each other which makes it possible to see multiple games in a day, visit a lot of different teams, and find your favorite hang out spot. And because of the second reason and after my annual trip to the Arizona Valley, I have enough intell on most of the stadiums in the Cactus League that I can offer up my favorite hang outs for enjoying baseball in the hot, scalding Cactus League sun. I’ll be posting longer and more in-depth reviews of each stadium I have visited in the Phoenix area throughout the next week, but time to hand out some of my Cactus League Stadium rankings.

So here we go, time for The Commish Awards for the Cactus League (Disclaimer: I can’t give awards out to Scottsdale or Peoria stadiums as I haven’t visited those two yet):

Award For Best Things To Do Before or After Baseball

  • Winner – Glendale 9 Drive-In:
    Who doesn’t like going to the movies?! Now what if the movies were OUTSIDE in a comfortable 60 degree starry night? My childhood included several excursions to the outdoor theater with all the siblings packed into a backed up mini-van with seats removed for sprawling sleeping bags out in the back. So why not bring back those memories and create new ones at the Glendale 9 Drive-in movie theater which seems to be a dying fad across America. It’s reasonably priced, most movies are double features, and if you scan channels long enough you can even get some bonus movies on the screens around yours.
  • Runner-Up – Hiking any one of the surrounding mountains:
    The Phoenix metro area is called ‘The Valley’ for a reason… its surrounded by mountain ranges. If you do enough research, you can find hundreds of trails in parks that are free or have a minimal vehicle fee under $10. And if you are brave enough to park a distance away from most gated trail heads, you can catch a sunset or sun rise from the top of one of the peaks. My recommendations for trails are: trail 44 at North Mountain, trail 300 at Piestewa Peak, any trail at White Tank Mountain Regional Park, and the Hidden Valley trail at South Mountain.
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Glendale Drive-In 9

Award For Largest Stadium

  • Winner – Camelback Ranch Stadium (home of the WhiteSox and Dodgers):
    This stadium feels GIA-NORMOUS. It has two-levels of seating but seems to boast a plethora of rows on the first level. The extremely large concourses and extravagant landscaping also contribute to the vastness of the stadium. If you are looking for an MLB style stadium and experience, don’t miss this stadium on the far West side of the metro area.
  • Runner-Up – Cubs Park:
    The new Cubs stadium is a large step up from their past spring training facility. The new stadium has a very deep grass-seating section and also boasts what is probably the most 2nd level seating in the Cactus League. Combine that with the Wrigleyville rooftop experience in left-field and you have a park for one of the largest baseball fan bases in the country. Now if the stadium could just help the team win in the regular season.
  • Worst – Phoenix Municipal Stadium (home of the A’s):
    The stadium in the heart of Phoenix has a lot of unique quarks about it, and one of them isn’t large number of seating options. With only a single level of seating that doesn’t even allow seats in the outfield. So if you are looking for a chance at snagging a Cespedes HR ball, better look somewhere else.
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Camelback Stadium

Award For Best Views

  • Winner – Phoenix Municipal Stadium (A’s):
    One benefit of no outfield seats is not having to stare at people. It’s a shame that the stadium chose to cover up some of the local nature with large billboards. But, the stadium still offers up an experience like no other, the experience of a diamond erected in the middle of the Rockie Mountain desert (and its actually in the middle of metro Phoenix less than 5 miles from the airport). Left field has some great rock formations, right field has a ton of trees that are part of a local park containing the zoo, and the rest of the outfield ground is layers of the great red desert dirt. It feels like the last place on earth you would be watching a game of baseball with the most elite of players.
  • Runner-Up – Diablo Stadium (home of the Angels):
    Similar to Phoenix Municipal, its the only other stadium with rock formations near the stadium. But they just aren’t as impressive and the rest of the surrounding views are just so-so. It has the same distant mountain views of most of the other Cactus League Stadiums, but what it does have over the others is a view of the Tempe city skyline in center field. The stadium also has a pretty awesome entrance that would rival any MLB stadium.
  • Worst – Goodyear Ballpark (home of the Reds and Indians):
    It was a toss up between Goodyear Ballpark and Maryvale Stadium. But because I’m a Brewers fan Goodyear could have had an amazing view of mountains on all sides of the stadium but to the East and then they chose to build it so center field faces East just killed that great opportunity. The rest of the mountain views are still there but are tough to see due to the concourse shaders and the press box suites.
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Phoenix Municipal Stadium

Award For Most Comfortable

  • Winner – Salt River Field at Talking Stick (home of Rockies and Diamondbacks):
    This stadium is one of my favorites. Its located in Scottsdale so you know its nice. It’s just outside the Talking Stick Resort so you know its even nicer. Combine that with some of the most gentle sloping and expansive grass seats, lots of room on the large covered concourses, and plenty of patio seating. It just doesn’t get much more comfortable than this stadium.
  • Runner-Up – Surprise Stadium (home of the Royals and Rangers):
    You want large sprawling concourses?! Well, this is the stadium for you. These concourses are lined with great food and beverage tents. Grass seats are extremely comfortable with plenty of room (except for the right field Home Run deck, but it creates a nice backrest for some lucky grass seat viewers). The only drawback from this stadium is that there is very little shade cover for the box seats.
  • Worst – Phoenix Municipal Stadium (A’s Stadium):
    If you are into little league seating or are shorter than 3 feet tall, you will find Municipal Stadium extremely comfortable. If you don’t fit into those categories, then get ready for uncomfortable bleacher seats with no leg room and cozy neighbors. I will say I have had some of my best baseball conversations with strangers and have made more friends at this stadium than any. Basically because you are forced to know whose lap you are sitting on.
Talking Stick Stadium

Talking Stick Stadium

Award For Most Intimate Baseball Experience

  • Winner – Maryvale Park (home of the Brewers):
    Come on you wouldn’t think I wouldn’t toss an award to my homies?! The Brewers stadium is my favorite. Sure the view is less than desired (what a chain link and cement fence isn’t what you want). Sure the grass seats are super steep. But it has the best beer selection and even better is that the fans are almost on the field of play. The grass seats feel like they are the outfield and there is no second deck and very few rows of box seats that every seat is the best seat. This isn’t me playing favorites here, Maryvale Park is probably my favorite stadium to watch a professional baseball game because you feel like you are on the field with the team.
  • Runner-Up – Phoenix Municipal Stadium (A’s Stadium):
    Well what did you expect when I told you this stadium was cozy. Its probably more cozy than Maryvale, and less comfortable, and has no outfield seating. If Phoenix Municipal had the grass seating and had more comfortable infield seats, I would have to argue that this venue could be one of the best stadiums to watch a baseball game. But it will have to take a 2nd place finish in this category until it upgrades its comfort level.
  • Worst – Camelback Stadium (home of the Dodgers and WhiteSox):
    This stadium won the award for largest stadium and its also the nicest stadium in the Cactus league. But, it feels like a real MLB stadium. Meaning, if you aren’t paying the big bucks for the seats close to the field, you might need to bring a pair of binoculars in order to tell who’s playing shortstop.
Maryvale Stadium

Maryvale Stadium

Award For Best Surrounding Area

  • Winner – Scottsdale Stadium (home of the Giants):
    I’ve never been to the physical stadium but I have been to its surrounding area in Scottsdale. Old Town Scottsdale is a quaint little outdoor shopping area about 5-8 blocks west of the stadium. There’s lots of small unique local shops, including one of the best ice cream places. In the same area there is a small park that houses the historical and contemporary art museums of Scottsdale. And if you are up for a 3 block walk to the North is another shopping area called the 5th Avenue Shops. There are also plenty of bars and restaurants around that typically cater to the Giant fans. This entire area has a unique small old town feel and its a great area to enjoy the weather outside before or after a game.
  • Runner-Up – Cubs Park:
    Being the newest stadium, the Cubs were smart to move the stadium to the local shopping plaza in Mesa. It feels like you are going to buy a new car when you are headed to the Cubs park thanks to all the dealers and big box stores. But it offers up a lot to do near the stadium. Bass Pro Shops is just down the street. Toby Keith’s bar is right next to that. There are plenty of other restaurants and bars plus all the mecca big box stores you would need to people watch prior to laughing at Cub fans.
  • Worst – Maryvale Park (home of the Brewers):
    Maryvale is not a pretty area and the park seems to have been built in the local subdivision. Walmart and Walgreens are nearby, but if you want anything else, have fun driving. I will reveal one of my favorite establishments in the nearby strip mall… the Purple Turtle. I know it sounds like a Male Exotic Club. That’s what we thought at first too based on no windows on the building. But its actually a pool hall that also is an OTB site for horse racing. They do cater to Brewer fans in spring training so it doesn’t feel too creepy in the bar at 11 am.
Old Town Scottsdale

Old Town Scottsdale

The Commish’s Overall Rankings For Cactus League Stadiums

  1. Maryvale Stadium – Intimate + Cheap + Best Beer Selection + Sausages + Sausage Races + Roll Out The Barrel = Awesome.
  2. Camelback Stadium – A Spring Training Facility That Rivals MLB Stadiums. Landscaping Is Amazing.
  3. Talking Stick Stadium – Close To Second. Just Missing The Extra ‘WOW’ Factor.
  4. Surprise Stadium – Needs More Shade, But Concourse And Grass Seats Are Near The Best.
  5. Cubs Park – Well Shaded, Large, And New, But Lacking Uniqueness And Located In A Shopping Center.
  6. Diablo Stadium – Lacks Room In OF, Nothing To Do Nearby, Lots Of Bleacher Seating.
  7. Phoenix Municipal – Cheap And Intimate, But Old, No OF Seats, Tight Seating, Hope You Like Bleachers.
  8. Goodyear Ballpark – Located In Middle Of Nowhere, Lacks Uniqueness.
  • N/A – Scottsdale and Peoria Stadiums are unranked due to lack of visiting.

Off-Season Outlook

Well, it’s finally November. And there is no baseball to watch… wait, what is this?! The Arizona Fall League is being televised with expanded replay on the MLB network. Baseball isn’t dead yet.

This also means that I may have baseball thoughts and comments that require me sharing with the entire world (because I know all of you care what I have to say). And I’m going to start with teams and players to pay attention to this off-season.

  • First, go over to MLB Trade Rumors and sign up for your favorite team’s message alerts. You can get tweets, text messages, rss feeds, apps, what ever you want. I use the text messaging service through twitter and it’s awesome. Every time some one breathes the name ‘Brewers’ in a player acquisition rumor, I know within 1 minute. Here’s a link on how to use the site to its max. And while you are on the MLB Trade Rumor site, make sure you sign up for the yearly free agent prediction contest. You only have to try and predict where the top 50 free agents go this off-season… super easy.
  • Now, where to start concentrating your off-season energy. I would recommend monitoring the actions of the St. Louis Cardinals. One thing everyone saw in 2013 was the depth of their pitching. Lance Lynn, Wacha, Shelby Miller, Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, and Joe Kelly are just the common names at the moment. They have a ton of options in pitching and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them shipped out for a SS or an outfielder. Kozma isn’t bad but he’s not great. And I don’t see them keeping Beltran roaming the OF. Craig needs to shift to RF. Matt Adams needs to play 1B. I see the Cardinals as one of the few teams with a lot of big trade chips already at the professional level caliber required to play today.
  • The next team I am going to be watching is the LA Dodgers. Why? Because they have the money. The Yankees are no longer the big spenders of the MLB. The Dodgers ownership are the ones emptying their pockets (banks will give loans to anyone these days). They have already signed a Cuban sensation at 2B this off-season, so they won’t be in on the Cano dealings. But their OF is very crowded and I see them adding some big names to their starting rotation (not that their rotation isn’t already filled with big names). One being the sensation from Japan, Masahiro Tanaka, who just pitched a regular season record at 24-0 and pitched a complete game at 160 pitches in the playoffs.
  • There are some big name free agents but there really is only 1 real big name that I think is going anywhere new… and his name isn’t Cano or Granderson. Where will Jacoby Ellsbury end up?! One idea is a team I already mentioned, the Cardinals. Sure, they already have Jon Jay, but it’s Jon Jay. I already talked about how the Cardinals have plenty of prospects but this is a guy they can sign without having to give any of them up. They can then save those trade chips for a SS. The other team that that I would guess could own Ellsbury in 2014 is the Seattle Mariners. I hope the Mariners land him because I would love to see the Mariners return to stardom and the playoffs and they have the pitching staff in place but need a spark on offense.
  • Another name I’m excited to watch is David Price. I know, I know, he isn’t a free agent, but he’s about to make a lot of money and TB doesn’t pay anybody because they are so good with the talent they find for cheap. Where will Price go? Definitely to the West Coast. More specifically, Los Angeles. I will put the Dodgers at the front but the Angels should be in the discussion on Price as well. I just think the Dodgers have the money and the prospects available. Could you imagine a Kershaw, Greinke, Price, Ryu, and Tanaka rotation? You may get to see it in reality in 2014.
  • Lastly, as much as I’m sick of it, the A-rod vs MLB case. Yes, I’m sick of this whole thing but this is actually getting entertaining. I mean, this hearing is turning into a good ol’ fashioned mud-slinging political he-said-she-said debate. Check out this link to the New York Times story that summarizes what’s happening in the case when it’s on hold until November 11th. This whole thing is currently a bash session with key terms of ‘MLB’, ‘A-Rod’, ‘leaks’, ‘spying’, and ‘Bosch’. I just can’t wait for the rulings because it’s going to destroy the loser. Whether its A-rod or the MLB organization, this is like watching a train wreck because we just can’t turn away.

The Art Of Understanding Heckling

Some outfielders understand the art of heckling.

Tony Gwynn Jr is one:

Vernon Wells is another (the original story came from site that started my infatuation with the HR Derby, their site has since vanished).

Some of your fellow HR Derby competitors also shared a personal experience with heckling Vernon Wells. On a spring training trip last season, the Brewers played the Angels. Vernon Wells took his usual spot in Left Field when a bachelor party group attempted to strike up a conversation with Vernon. It went a little something along these lines over a 2 inning period:

Heckler: “Hey Vernon. Hey Vernon! Come out for drinks with us later.”
Vernon as he peers over his shoulder: “I can’t. I got a game tomorrow.”
H: “It’s going to rain. The game will be cancelled.”
V: “I still have to practice.”
H: “Practice. You don’t need practice. Practice, you want to talk about Practice. Practice…”
V: “Practice. Not a game.”
H: “It’s St. Pattys Day. Come out for shots. Everyone is Irish tonight.”
V as he looks at his forearm: “I ain’t Irish.”

I thoroughly enjoy players who understand the humor of heckling or chatting with fans. I just wish there were more of them.

Begin Launch Sequence…3…2…1…Lift Off

Be sure to take notes on the swing techniques of these big leaguers to help you prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse.

The month of May is coming to a close and the summer air is warming up. That only means one thing… time to let the baseballs fly. We have already seen that Josh Hamilton, Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, and Adam Dunn (yes, this Adam Dunn) don’t care what temperature the air is. They go big fly year round. But what about the rest of the guys who couldn’t make peace with the home run gods in April. Well, some of them are coming around:

  • Albert Pujols – Every Angels fan at once… 1… 2… 3… *Siiiiiigh*. Well that was a giant sigh of relief. Albert Pujols 2012 != Adam Dunn 2011 (your programming nerd is showing). Pujols had his longest home run drought of his career at 110 at-bats earlier this season. But since he lifted one over the left field fence on May 6th, Pujols’ swing is coming around. In fact, Pujols has the fourth most RBI’s in the majors during the month of May with 24 (second in the AL only behind Josh Hamilton). Even more impressive is that he has hit 7 of his 8 total in the past 15 days. Pujols and all of Angels nation (and Pujols’ HR Derby teams) are thankful that the month of April is behind them. The contract is still outrageous due to it’s length. But in the short term, it appears that the contract is going to work out.
  • Alfonso Soriano – The typical male attitude… you want to drive a nail in one swing, get the biggest hammer. Well, Soriano took that logic to home plate. You want to hit the ball far, bring the biggest bat. So Dave Sveum convinced Soriano’s big ego to switch to a lighter bat. And Soriano went from 0 homers in April to 7 home runs in the past 15 days (same as Pujols). It’s amazing what a smaller hammer can do. Now if that hammer was only worth $18M.
  • Giancarlo Stanton – 122MPH… The top speed of a turbo diesel Mini Cooper D and the speed of a baseball of off a Giancarlo home run. Giancarlo is a beast, a beast who was still in hibernation in April with only 1 homer. But guess who leads Group A in the Home Run Derby at the end of May with 13 dingers, Giancarlo. He also had the 3rd most RBI of the month with 30. His bat seems to be turbo charged and it only took the month of April to spool up. Now, there is only one player who can hit a ball harder than 122MPH and it’s Giancarlo himself.
  • Adam Jones – Age 27… There is an urban legend in Fantasy Baseball that the age 27 is a significant year in a player’s career. That magical age is the year that a player puts up his breakout numbers and usually can be bought at a cheap price in fantasy drafts. Well, Adam Jones is trying to make it a fact. Jones didn’t have a quiet month of April as Pujols, Soriano, and Giancarlo. But, he has caught fire recently (up until he took a pitch off his wrist). He just ended a 20 game hit streak and he leads Group D in the Home Run Derby with 16 total homers. Ten of those 16 coming in May. Enjoy the ride Fightin’ Showalter fans because it may be a bumpy re-entry back to Earth in the later months of the season.
  • Andrew McCutchen – 0 to 8 in 4,492,800 seconds… the amount of time it took McCutch to hit his 8th homer of the year. He starter with 0 in the month of April and Home Run Derby fans were a bit depressed on their Group E choice. But the Bucco’s main source of offense has turned it on in the month of May and is now on pace for 26 homers this season. A very respectable number for a Group E player.
  • Carlos Quentin – Injury Prone, synonym: Carlos Quentin. That’s what I envision the baseball thesaurus saying. Having only played over 100 games 3 times in his career, Quentin has just returned from a 50 game DL stint and has finally taken his place in the heart of the Padres batting order. And nothing says “I’m a part of the team” like going 7 for 12 with 3 homers in 3 games. Yes, Carlos is batting 0.583 with a 2.226 OPS. Those numbers won’t last, but if he is somehow still available in any of your fantasy leagues, go get heeem.
  • Dayan Viciedo – Who? Meet Carlos Quentin’s replacement on the Southside of Chicago. And the switch can’t be going much better. He had 3 homers in April but mashed 8 more in the month of May. He is currently sitting at a 0.291 total BA with 24 RBI in May. He is the hot topic in fantasy baseball and is THE most added player in ESPN fantasy baseball (however, Carlos Quentin will catch him by tomorrow). Just as awesome as his month of May stats is his nickname… Tank.

We now have two months of baseball complete and injuries are starting to compound for some teams. Make sure to check your Home Run Derby team for injuries (or your inbox for injury reminders). Month of May winners will be announced within the week.

#LUUUUUUUUUC

While you and your band mates take a break from arguing who missed their strum, another great Sunday of baseball needs some summarizing (the past few weeks have been busy as summer plans have kicked in at full strength).

  • Brewer Mash-up: The injury plagued Milwaukee Brewers have been beatable at home in 2012 (10-11), which is something they weren’t in 2011 (57-24). Losing Alex Gonzalez and Mat Gamel for the entire season and Rickie Weeks and Aramis Ramirez are slumping, the Brewers offense has been anything but exciting to watch. Until they unleashed their pent up offense on the Twins today. With 16 runs on 17 hits, they didn’t even need Greinke on the mound (who has never earned a loss when he starts at Miller Park… never). What makes the 16 runs amazing is that the Brewers’ skipper put his hot hitting catcher in the cleanup spot behind Braun today. And Lucroy kept his bat’s fire going by hitting in 7RBI with 2 homers (1 a grand-slam). I’m hoping the twitter trend picks up after today. Make sure you have 9-U’s in your tweets… #LUUUUUUUUUC!
  • One Man Arm-y: It’s been awhile since we have discussed Strasburg, so let’s jump right in to today’s game. Strasburg is on track to be an elite pitcher. He’s already showed us that. Currently, he is sitting at a 2.25ERA/1.02WHIP with 64K’s in 53IP, no one can really touch him. What made today’s performance even more memorable for Stras was that he took a hanging curve yard. Yes, Strasburg doesn’t give up homeruns but he will hit them. This wasn’t a Yovani Gallardo performance but still impressive. Stras did leave this game with arm tightness so it will be interesting to see what the Nats do when he reaches his 160IP cap in 2012. If the Nats are in the playoff chase, there is no way you bench a pitcher of this caliber. Time will only tell.
  • Fish vs Fish: South Park taught us to never go Bass to Trout. What happens when Bass pitches to Trout, well Mike Trout took an Anthony Bass’ pitch and deposited it into the left field bleachers (Not to be outdone by a fellow fish name, Mike Carp went yard as well today). Mike Trout is quietly putting up a strong RoY campaign. And by quiet, we mean he isn’t drawing the publicity that Harper is taking on. Trout is a better player at this point and I stick to my earlier posts. You want Trout on your team over Harper right now.
  • The next “K Kid”: This week we said goodbye to “The K Kid” but almost got to knight a new one. Kerry Wood announced his retirement on Friday and came into the game to strike out the only batter he faced with 3 pitchers, which is a very fitting way for him to leave the game. For those who don’t remember, Kerry Wood became 1 of 5… FIVE… pitchers to ever record more than 20 strikeouts in a single game. The list includes Roger Clemens (twice), Kerry Wood, Randy Johnson (extra innings), and Tom Cheney (21 in extra innings). Kerry Wood did it in 1998 against the Astros and gave up only 1 hit. Even more impressive, he did it when he was only 20-years old. He is only the 2nd pitcher to every record as many strikeouts in a game as his age (Bob Feller is the only other pitcher who got 17k’s at the age of 17 in 1936). Well we bid Kerry Wood a fond farewell, Max Scherzer gave Sunday hit best Kerry Wood impersonation only 2 days after Verlander came 2-outs shy of his 3-rd career no-hitter. Scherzer is either lights out or serving up gopher balls in his outings. There is almost no middle ground. Well, Sunday was a lights out performance. He threw 7-innings and struckout 15 Pirates. Its too bad he used 115 pitches to get through his 7-innings. He had a legitimate shot at being #6 on an amazing list that’s more elite than the “Perfect Game”.
  • Giants’ Studs shouldn’t cover home: We all remember what happened last season to a Giants’ star athlete that tried to block the plate as an opponent charged home. Fool Posey once, shame on you. Fool Posey twice, shame on him. Well, Posey learned his lesson but now Lincecum has received the wrong end of an opponent bulldozing home. On a wild pitch in the 4th inning, Lincecum did his duty to cover home. He covered home by basically sitting on it, which earned Lincecum an early exit. There is no word on the extent of the collision, but it didn’t look good. The only thing Giants’ fans and fantasy owners can hope is that Lincecum has his usual 5 days off to recover. Stay tuned for more news.
  • Searching for the Savoy Special: Josh Hamilton hit 9-homers in one week earlier in the month of May, which included a 4-home run night on May 8th (only the 16th player to complete this feat). What many may not know is that these home runs were all with the same bat… his “Wonderboy” you could say. Well on Mother’s Day, Hamilton switched to a pink bat for Breast Care Awareness. The pink bat didn’t have the force and Hamilton went back to his beloved Louisville Slugger. However, the bat didn’t make it through the game and fractured. It received a proper burial and is now enshrined at the Baseball Hall of Fame. But now Hamilton is homerless in his last 8 games over the past week. Hamilton needs to find his “Savoy Special”, and soon.

More baseball news and stories coming soon…

What does $240 Million Look Like?

So what does $240 Million look like? It looks something like this:

Except in an Angels uniform, in a non-World Series dugout…

The point is that Albert Pujols finally got a night off from the Angels’ lineup. It took 108 At-Bats, 21 Hits, a 0.194 BA, and ZERO home runs. Maybe Pujols is in a slump. The worst slump of his life. I know Cardinal fans don’t miss him. Or maybe Pujols is proving a point. That if he is going to get paid less than last season, he will preform less than last season. About 1/4 less ($16 Mill to $12 Mill). So expect 1/4 less hits, 1/4 less home runs, 1/4 less RBI… A line that looks something like: 0.224 BA, 77 Runs, 27 HR, and 74 RBI.

Or Pujols only needs a night off (Coach told him to not touch a single bat) before he starts mashing on the West Coast… time will only tell.

No Homers, No Problem

On a night that the Brewers got burnt on Hot Soup

Albert Pujols not hitting a home run was not the biggest news in an Angels score recap.

In fact, almost no offense would have been required from the Angels thanks to their Ace on the mound… Jered Weaver, who threw a no hitter vs the Minnesota Twinkees Twins. Weaver’s no-hitter is the second of the 2012 season only behind Humber’s perfect game. Had Weaver not walked a man in the eight, the only other blemish on his scorecard was a dropped third strike that Parmelee safely reached first base on.

Weaver becomes the 10th Angel pitcher to throw a no-hitter. Nolan Ryan owns 4 and Ervin Santana owns one from July 27, 2011. It was a little redemption for the White Sox too who got no-hit by the Twins’ Liriano 365 days prior to Weaver’s.

Weaver has been one of the most consistent pitchers since 2010. He has sported almost a 1.00 WHIP the past two seasons and currently sits at a microscopic 0.78 WHIP for 2012. His ERA in 2010 was 3.01 and 2.41 in 2011. Now it sits at 1.61 in 2012 so he seems to be following the right trend. I do believe this could be his season to take home the prestigious Cy-Young award. He may have to pry it from Verlander’s hands but I think he could be the best player to do it.