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2015 All-Star Preview: The NL vs… The Royals???

I can’t even comment on the Hack-a-thon that the Cardinals organization is putting together right now… you just wonder why did they hack the Astros instead of someone like the Dodgers or Nationals??

I’d rather talk about how stupid homer and bandwagon baseball fans are instead of how stupid the evil empire is.

Yes, you read that right. I’m calling out all homer, bandwagon, one-day baseball fans out there. That or MLB has to be dealing with a hack or autobot of its own. Why am I calling them (some of you) out?! 8 of the 9 projected players (including a DH who will not start in the All-Star game) are from the Royals… 8!!!!!! The only starting position player that wouldn’t be a Royal is Mike Trout (well, atleast there are enough Non-Royal fans voting for the same person to overtake them).

I wouldn’t have a problem with 8 players from a single team assuming that the players were a top-3 player at their position between the dates of the last All-star game and today (or even just this season). But that’s not the case with players like Omar Infante who has a -0.2 WAR. NEGATIVE 0.2 Wins Above Replacement. Meaning he could be substituted by 18 other 2B this season and the Royals would have at least 0.2 more wins this season. And one of those other 18 2B is Jason Kipnis who actually has the 3rd Highest WAR among ALL players this season. Kipnis is behind Infante by almost 3 million votes. 3 Million!!! At least Altuve is within 300,000 of Infante…

Or how about Eric Hosmer at 1B. Ya, he’s having a decent year at 30+ Runs/RBI, 7HR, and almost a 0.300 BA. But I can name 3 other American League 1B that are having much, much better years and their WAR rating agree. How about Teixeira with 18HR and 48RBI. Or Pujols who looks like he’s back in St. Louis and just keeps homering with 19HR. Or how about the top 1B in the AL, Miguel Cabrera who has 14HR, 38RBI, and a 0.345 BA.

Let’s pick another position on the diamond. Outfield. The Royals have 3 of the top-4 outfielders in the current All-Star voting. Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon, and Alex Rios. I can’t argue with Cain, he’s a legitimate All-Star this season. Gordon is close but he is a top-5 AL outfielder this season so he’s fine in my books as well. But Alex Rios has played 20 games total and is batting 0.213. There are probably at least 35-40 other starting outfielders more deserving than him (and if you did the math, there are only 42 other starting OF in the AL that aren’t Royals).

Don’t get me wrong, I like the fact that fans get to vote for the All-Stars. What I don’t like is when fans don’t vote for the players that are the most deserving. It’s like we are in a high-school popularity contest. MLB needs a way to fix this issue because it hurts the die-hard fan base more than the casual fan base. I would say that any ballot that has 5 or more players from the same team selected, you just throw that ballot in the trash. Or maybe MLB limits the maximum number of players from a single team being able to start the All-Star game. Or maybe MLB just corrects the issue itself by fudging the numbers for the players that are the most deserving. Seriously, I would be ok with a sudden, unexplainable up-tick in votes over the next 15 days that dethroned several of these Royals players.

I like the Royals, but I also have an understanding of what it means to be an All-Star player.

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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:

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!!!

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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.

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Baseball: An Adult’s Game???

Bob Lemon once said “Baseball was made for kids, and grown-ups only screw it up.”

This comment is oh so true to all professional sports. When it’s no longer a game and it’s your source of income, the priorities shift from having fun to making money. I think this is why I like Minor League games so much. They keep fans entertained with weird gimmicks. In between innings, they have some off-the-wall game where fans might have to roll kegs from first to third after spinning around a bat 30 times. Even teammates in the minors seem to have more fun. For instance, the entire Padres AAA affiliate had Jeff Francoeur believing his teammate Jorge Reyes was deaf. And this prank went on for days if not weeks before they finally told him. Seriously, watch that video in the last link. This is what baseball is supposed to be… a child’s game.

Why do I bring up the topic of Baseball being a children’s game? Because of all the commotion that the Brewers and Pirates bench clearing brawl has stirred up. Every year it’s like picking open an old scab. And similar to every year, everyone has to take sides and point fingers at who started it and who deserves what penalties and who got off too easy… blah, blah, blah.

Yes, I’m a major Brewers fan, but I’m not taking sides in this one over who started it. A verbal disagreement is one thing, but throwing punches deserves some form of penalty because these players are role models to kids. They shouldn’t be teaching the youth how to play the game of knockout. They should be teaching them how to play a game for entertainment and enjoyment.

What I will and am taking a side on is that the game of baseball is meant to be fun. It’s meant to entertain. Everyone is so uptight about other’s feelings and good sportsmanship that they have forgotten about the emotion and feelings of the individual player. No, I’m not advocating that players should go gloat in the opponents face. But let them have some fun out there. Let them enjoy themselves. If pitchers can fist pump after striking out a batter with the bases loaded or on the final out of a game after receiving a save, then batters should be able to admire how far their hits go (even if it doesn’t leave the park… Gomez). They should be able to make gestures back to their team’s dugout after a two RBI triple to take the lead in a game. They should even be able to have a team celebration after a walk off win (I still enjoyed the season the Brewers would untuck their jerseys rounding the bases after a walk off win). This isn’t poor sportsmanship. This isn’t disgracing the game’s forefathers. This is simply the players enjoying themselves. This is them letting their emotions for the game show.

And for crying out loud, let the batters do bat flips. This is one of my biggest desires in the game of Baseball for the entertainment. I mean look at these bat flips from Japan… It’s just FUN to watch.

So as I get down from my high horse, I leave you with one last quote:

“When baseball is no longer fun, it’s no longer a game” – Joe DiMaggio

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Miami Marlins President Doesn’t Survive Off-Season

Happy first day of real baseball… that’s right, spring training games started today. I can’t wait til I’m watching live baseball in 80 degrees in Arizona. Because all this TV time due to the polar vortex is making me go insane. For those of you who don’t know me outside of my baseball personality, I’m a sucker for competition reality TV. Big Brother, Amazing Race, Redneck Island, Top Shot, etc… I like them all. But Survivor is one of my all-time favorites. I can remember VHS recording (the primitive DVR) the first season and watching naked Richard Hatch walk around like he owned camp followed by the greatest Survivor speech ever ‘The Rat vs The Snake‘.

So I was a bit excited to see when the casts were announced that David Samson, owner of the Miami Marlins, was going to be part of the Brains team. What was even better about this announcement was what was stated in his released game biography under his claim to fame. And I quote, ‘Got local government in Miami to contribute over 350 million dollars to a new baseball park during the recession.’

WOW!!! That’s some balls. I know I would be furious if I was reading that in Miami. And for a guy, who is always in the media’s listening ears, to state that not knowing it would come back to bite him. He doesn’t seem that brainy to me. He also sent his team’s strongest player packing, or so he thought, within minutes of meeting them. I hope he decides to do the same with the Marlins strongest player, Giancarlo (straight to the Brewers). So it’s not so ‘unbelievable’ that the Brains team voted him out as the first loser of Survivor this season.

Don’t worry David, you get to come back to a winning baseball team… only until April, when your team’s record is no longer 0-0.

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No News, Old News, And New News

Wow… A MONTH! A month without any news from the greatest commissioner.

I know you were worried based on all the concerned emails, comments, and tweets I received. No need to fret. Yours truly is A-OK. But now that football is returning and having already completed 2 fantasy drafts with 2 to go (yep, sold my soul to the football devil), I have reunited with my one-true-love… Baseball (after my wife of course).

I didn’t ever turn my shoulder on baseball these year. I only gave the cold shoulder to blogging about it. So let’s recap what has been on my mind and not shared with you, the Sultans of Swat. The Free Swinger Groupies. The Juggernaut Jury. The Royal Family of Cork. The Blog’s Fans.

Here comes a long winded rant:

    Umps are profiling all TB pitchers (AP)

  • Did a pitcher really get thrown out for too much pine tar? I can’t remember the last time pine tar was even relevant since the great pine tar incident of 1983 (That event was very interesting, I highly recommend all baseball fans read how it ends). What is funny with Peralta is that he got called out, was found guilty, booted from the game, and then Joe Maddon was allowed to investigate one opposing team’s pitcher. The National’s pitcher was clean and then Fernando Rodney came in to save the game for TB but made sure to walk to the mound with his hands up and glove between his legs… hilarious.
  • I’ve started my application process to trademark “This is a Clown Competition, Bro.” If Bryce wasn’t already in line to make millions, he will now be taking his smart ass mouth all the way to the bank. Really? A 19-year old phenom who hasn’t figured out how to keep his swagger alive since the All-Star break is going to trademark a phrase he gave to a Canadian reporter. I’ll keep you all posted on when the “This is a Clown Competition, Bro” shirts will hit the KoC merchandise store.
  • As if Jim Thome hasn’t made enough cash in his career, he got a $5K bonus check from teammate Papelbon for getting Papelbon off the hook for a blown save. I’m still waiting for my $5K check from my co-workers for getting them out of a tight deadline. You still think athletes aren’t overpaid?
  • Mike Trout deserves to win Rookie of the Year and MVP at the age of 21. He is a stud… enough said.
  • Umps do not have the easiest jobs in the world. On any close play, he upsets hundreds of people (players, coaches, fans) regardless of which way the call goes. But it seems umps are missing the easy calls this season. Really, Really, Really easy calls. First, the Helton play where Helton missed first base by more than 3 feet. Then, Carlos Santana (the catcher, not the singer) gets called safe when he was obviously walking into second base. But then came the worst when Dewayne Wise came from the stands with NO BALL IN HIS GLOVE. But some how he still got the catch, and more importantly, the third out. These all bring to mind the popular Little League chant “I’m Blind, I’m Deaf, I want to be a Ref”.
  • Seattle’s Safeco field is a great place to watch a baseball game. The stadium is new. The fans and people of Seattle are friendly. The garlic fries are AMAZING. I had the opportunity to enjoy this great stadium and great city this season (and almost had a chance for Big Papi’s 400th career HR which fell just short of my front row seats in RF). I highly, highly recommend a trip to the city of Seattle and if you happen to be in town while the Mariners, Seahawks, or Sounds are playing, I recommend catching a game in the city’s great sports complex. I had only two disappointments in Seattle: there fan support for the Mariners is lacking (especially on a night I saw King Felix pitch). And the stadium could have been built with an amazing view (the architects must have had a hangover when they put the walls up to hide the mountains).
  • Whatever happened to good cartoons? No wonder why most of our kids are brain washed. They don’t get to enjoy great cartoons like Tiny Toons, Garfield and Friends, Scooby Doo, Anamaniacs, Sonic, Transformers, Duck Tales, Darkwing Duck, Felix the Cat, Inspector Gadget, and the list goes on. Are there even cartoons on after school or on Sunday morning anymore? Instead kids are stuck watching crap like Judge Judy, Rachel Ray, Jerry Springer, or Maury.
  • Did Atlanta really sign Ben Sheets the man with the glass arm? Sheets has only pitched over 160 innings in a single season 4 times in his 10 year career (being a Brewer fan, that seems like a lot) and is trying to come back from his second tommy john in 4 years. His last comeback failed in Oakland but Sheets looked amazing in his first 5 starts for Atlanta (giving up only 5 earned runs). Then, someone threw a rock at his glass arm and we now see the Sheets we all know… the one sitting on the DL.
  • I’m in the middle of a major home renovation project and I’m still looking for my retirement fund in the walls. Seriously, where do these people keep finding this hidden gems. $3 Million in pristine baseball cards… ok, they may have exaggerated a bit in the first story.
  • Do you know how bad ass Brian Wilson is? He is dating a Sasquatch.
  • Baseball is known as the child’s game that adults get paid to play. Well, some of the players are still kids at heart and that makes them some of the most loved in baseball. Adam LaRoche (star of Outdoor Channel’s Buck Commander) is one of those players and his Ozzie Guillen/Bryce Harper combo prank was priceless this season. Nothing like making an unsuspecting Rookie look like he’s rubbing a seasoned manager’s face in Pine Tar.
  • What’s with teams giving the worst birthday gift to their players? “Can I see you in my office? Ya, we decided to go a different route. You are going to be cut. Oh, Happy Birthday.” This not only happened to the ex-pitcher, now power hitting OF, Rick Ankiel but also to Brewers’ flame-throwing Randy Wolf (flame-thrower might be a bit of a stretch… Wolf threw a curve ball 49 MPH).
  • Let’s talk about some rare home run feats because this is a home run blog after all. How often does a pitcher hit a home run? Maybe 10 a year. Maybe. How often do starting pitchers hit homers in the same game? Once every 10 years. How often do opposing starting pitchers hit homers in the same inning? Once every 20 years. That’s just what happened when Hamels and Cain both connected on pitches in the same inning. Kind of cool to help yourself out in the game. Not so cool when you give it right back to what is suppose to be the easiest out in the NL lineup. Even more rare… how bout brothers hitting not just their 99th but also their 100th career home runs on the same night. SAME NIGHT! That’s just what the Upton brothers did. But at least they hit home runs, unlike Carlos Gomez who trotted all the way around the bases only to find out he hit a long foul ball. Then, proceeded to strike out.
  • Still think Bonds didn’t have some help with steroids? Of course not. But do you want more proof that he should have an asterix next to those 762 home runs? I give you “The Clear” evidence to the right…
  • Social Media is getting a little too creepy. No one wants to know what your doctor said about your endoscopy. No one wants to know about your bowels. Social media was only created for stalkers (don’t deny it, we all are guilty of the stalking). This couple took social media creepy and odd to a whole new level. Kind of cool to see strangers come together for the love of a team. But a little creepy that it was documented on social media. I can’t decide which adjective should be used to describe the outing. What’s your thoughts?
  • Speaking of social media, what the heck is Shell thinking by letting the public make advertising for the company. Some of those are funny but just plain wrong (like, “Birds are like sponges… for oil”). Another random thought about social media, why does everyone want to hack into celebrities’ accounts and posting crap. At least this hacker had something funny to say (odds are he wasn’t a Yankees fan).
  • This season it seems something has crawled up every umpires’ you-know-what hole. Every little thing seems to trigger their ejection finger these days. But this umpire must have had something wedged up there extra far. Who ejects the sound guy? The home team should have been given an extra run for the sound guy’s creativity, but instead they lost their PA. Again, the saying goes “I’m BLIND, I’m deaf, I wanna be a ref”.
  • The sound guys haven’t been the only ones getting creative. There have been a few fans that have taken creativity to a whole new level. Take this fan for example who rode into McCovey Cove to catch a few Giant home run swings. A Delorean is cool enough, but a Delorean Hovercraft is insanely awesome. Who knew it only took a flux capacitor to get on television these days. Or how about the Lucha Libre at the Orioles game. The fact that he was made even creepier by making it on TV over Getz left shoulder is awesome. And if you are one of those fans who wants to propose at a baseball game just make sure your bride to be isn’t away getting you a beer. There will be plenty of time for that after she says ‘yes’.
  • Hail to the King! King Felix pitched the 3rd perfect game of 2012 and the 23rd in MLB history and the 1st for the Mariners organization. What’s even more impressive is that that 1-0 win was King Felix’s 3rd 1-0 win in the month of August… three! It’s going to be hard to not vote for him as the Cy Young this season (unless Verlander continues to lead the Tigers to a pennant). But what’s even more impressive than Hernandez’s perfect game is that a 9-month-old boy has now witnessed TWO perfect games in his life. Most fans just hope to watch one on TV from first pitch to last let alone hoping to see one live. And it’s not like this kids parents have taken him to every Mariner game this season, he’s only been to TWO games ever. Yep, two games, both perfect. Better wrap that kid up and ship him of to Boston. The Red Sox are going to need all of this kid’s luck and more if they want to see a post-season in 2012.
  • Someone finally caught the ‘Milk Man’ cheating with their loved one… baseball. Melky Cabrera admitted to a positive Performance Enhancing Drug test which will result in him sitting out the final 50-regular season games for the Giants (guess that’s better than testing positive for Meth which doesn’t enhance your game like these 3 Rays minor leaguers). But he will get to play again in October (assuming the Giants can hang on to a playoff spot). What’s even more ridiculous than allowing Melky to help his team in the postseason? He can win the batting title WITHOUT having to bat in another regular season game. You thought Jose Reyes benching himself in the final game was a cheap way to win a title, how about admitting to cheating, serving a suspension, and still winning it. Let’s hope Andrew McCutchen can dethrone the Milk Man before October rolls around.
  • Speed Round: Literally, Speed. Billy Hamilton is a name you need to get to know. He has a legitimate shot at breaking Ricky Henderson’s MLB record of 130 in a season, if Hamilton ever reaches the big leagues. What has he already accomplished? He broke the minor league record of 145 set by Vince Coleman in 1983. He currently sits at 155 SB in 192 attempts… 192 attempts!!! Even more impressive is that he needed 3 to break the record and he stole 3 bases in the first 3 innings. This kid is quick. Hopefully his day comes in the majors because I can’t wait to see a 100 SB season.
  • What is Roger Clemens trying to prove? Either that or it’s a gimmick for the Sugar Land Skeeter’s to make some last minute bucks on the soon to be ending 2012 minor league season. He should probably stick to his over-50 softball league.
  • After getting sold, the LA Dodgers are All-In for the 2012 season. They were the most active team during the trade deadline. Picking up Victorino, Beckett, A-Gon, Punto, Carl Crawford and most of the remaining money on their contracts (great news for the Red Sox who may now be looking at a HUGE off-season acquisition). The Dodgers aren’t even leading the NL Worst West or own either of the NL Wild Cards. But with these acquisitions, the Dodgers should own the NL West title by October (I mean it’s inevitable when A-Gon homers in his first at-bat as a Dodger). The Dodgers will also own a for-sale sign in 2014 when all of these outrageous contracts start hitting their back end loading.
  • Don’t you wish that all of your employers and competitors honored you with gifts when you retired? That’s exactly what Chipper Jones is seeing as he makes his baseball farewell tour this season I would have to say that Yahoo’s #2 ranked gift is the coolest. You all know I’m not a Cubs fan, but anything that’s associated to Wrigley Field is an amazing peace of history and baseball memorabilia.

Remember, football is beginning but that doesn’t mean baseball is over. There is still a solid month of regular season ball left (and Home Run Derby) and an entire month of playoffs (that my BrewCrew is trying to make a push for by going 11-3 over their past 14 games).

STill bElieve bRaun’s pOwer Is createD Synthetically

Here’s two stat lines through the first 62 games of the MLB season.

This player won an MVP award:

228AB 45Runs 71Hits 13Doubles 13HR 45RBI 33Walks 14SB 0.311Avg 0.402OBP 0.566SLG 0.968OPS

This player has only played 62 games this 2012 season:

230AB 42Runs 75Hits 11Doubles 19HR 47RBI 25Walks 11SB 0.322Avg 0.399OBP 0.635SLG 1.034OPS

If the first set of numbers was the pace for the 2011 NL MVP, couldn’t one argue that the second set of numbers is an equivalent (if not better) pace and should warrant MVP considerations in 2012? The second set of numbers are good enough for first in HR, third in OPS, fourth in RBI, and eigth in batting average in the NL.

The only difference between those two sets of numbers? The first set of numbers belong to a ‘clean’ Ryan Braun (numbers were posted before his positive steroids test) and the second set of numbers belong to a ‘tainted’ Ryan Braun. Yes, both of those numbers belong to the Risky Business player to the right (Photo credit to John Axford’s Twitter Feed).

ESPN’s Buster Olney pulled the trigger first on a more controversial Braun topic today (if you are an ESPN insider, make sure you click that link). And ESPN The Magazine printed a great article in it’s recent publication on June 25 on how has the steroid era has evolved based on Braun’s ruling.

If Braun continues his 2012 pace, his stat line would be look something like this:

565AB 103Runs 182Hits 47HR 115RBI 61Walks 27SB 0.322Avg 0.399OBP 0.635SLG 1.034OPS

Those numbers warrant at minimum a top-5 placing in NL MVP voting (if not top 1 or 2). As Buster Olney’s article states, the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) could have a major dilemma this season. The BBWAA handles voting for season end awards and nominating players for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Typically, the BBWAA has ‘banned’ (not directly banned, but just don’t vote for) players who have admitted, been convicted, or are suspected of using PED’s. If Braun continues to perform, will they vote for him in the MVP race? Will he then be snubbed entrance to the HOF? Seriously, if you are an ESPN insider, check out Buster’s great article on this topic.

This post is meant to get all baseball fans to think. And I specifically say ‘baseball fans’ because haters will always be hatin’ regardless if Braun puts up a clean 70HR and 150RBI season. What I want fans to think about is What will it take for Braun to untarnish his baseball name?

  • Does he have to hit 40HR?
  • Does he have to have more than 100RBI for the rest of his career?
  • Does he have to volunteer for monthly tests?
  • Does he have to publicly admit he found a loophole?

Personally, I believe he has already proved his innocence. But again, I’m the easy fan to persuade. I’m a die hard Brewers fan. But facts are facts, Braun has produced the same if not better numbers in 2012 than he did at this point in 2011. And that season he won the NL MVP and had a LARGE bat protecting him. In 2012, he doesn’t have Fielder behind him in the lineup and Braun continues to produce MVP type numbers.

Braun could be guilty. I wasn’t there when he peed into a cup. Braun’s test did highlight a gap in the collection process and has allowed others to have their suspensions dismissed (see Eliezer Alfonzo’s appeal of a 100-game suspension in May). And since those results, the MLB quietly dismissed the arbitrator who had the defining vote in each suspension case, Shyam Das.

So what do the Kings of Cork council believe? What does Braun have to do to clean his name? Or will it always be tarnished? Feel free to post your feelings towards Braun’s 2012 production below.

UPDATE: Here is a link to the June ESPN The Magazine article mentioned above:

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Brains And Braun

Who’s sick of the ranting yet? This guy…

But here we are again and it will be the Kings of Corks mission to help clear Ryan Braun’s name from the tarnish and mud that covers it after Buster Olney broke the story from two leaky sources.

Soon to be the Brewers top selling 2012 jersey

Sure Braun wasn’t proven innocent by arbitrators but Braun’s legal team also didn’t pursue that path knowing the most likely outcome of that defense would be ‘guilty’. No one will ever know what happened with test, but below are some articles which others have written with many more sources and time than this site owner has. Hopefully, the links below shed light on the fact that Braun didn’t get off on a ‘technicality’ but a great defense to prove that his test results were unusual.

As mentioned in previous posts, Ryan Braun’s name will never be cleared unless he continues to preform and volunteer for drug tests. If at all in the next five seasons his numbers decline even slightly, all of the Braun doubters will pound their judicial hammer yelling “Guilty!” If its any consolation to Braun, his name and reputation has been cleared by most Brewer fans.

Edit: The collector released a press statement and it agrees with everything previously stated on this site. No one is going to claim any responsibility in the case. Hopefully, the arbitrator comes forward with all of the information provided that determined his verdict.

Were any interesting Braun articles missed in this post? Let us know in the comments section and they will be added to the list.

Dang It Feels Good To Be A… Wisconsin Fan???

Right now around the world, Wisconsin sports fans are living their own version of the printer scene from Office Space. And I feel bad for that machine if Braun is the one swinging the bat.

Over the past few sport seasons, Wisconsin fans have had a lot to cheer for (at least more than they have had in the past 10-15 years). The Badgers have gone been back-to-back BigTen football champions and have appeared in back-to-back Rose Bowls (unfortunately, losing both). The Packers won the 2010 SuperBowl title and fell 1 game short of attempting to defend their title by losing to the 2011 champion Giants. In 2011, the Brewers won their first National League Division Title. They also won their first post season series since 1982 before losing to the 2011 champion Cardinals in their miracle post season run. Wisconsin even won the Miss America title in 2012. So Braun’s steroid verdict should come as no surprise to Wisconsin sport fans… when life is good, life is good.

The decision came down on Thursday February 23 while I was doing what Northern Midwesterners do best in cold weather… sitting on a frozen lake drinking beer catching fish (what else is there to do in the cold months?). I was in the middle of nowhere (this is why this post is delayed a few days) when my fishing partner and my phones wouldn’t stop making noises. The news came in via massive amounts of texts, Ryan Braun’s suspension was overturned and would be allowed the opportunity to play in every 2012 game. It’s only been 5 days since the decision and I’m already sick of all the comments.

That’s the main purpose of this post… the decision was made, deal with it and move on. No one will ever know what happened to Braun’s steroid sample for the 44 hours it sat in a fridge at the collectors house. I already feel bad for collector now that his name has been leaked to the media. Unless someone comes forward and says “Yes, I doped” or “Yes, I contaminated the sample”, no one should be blamed except for the MLB’s official statement about the results.

Braun didn’t find a loophole. Braun wasn’t proven innocent. Braun hasn’t cleared his name. Braun simply provided the facts and got his suspension lifted (see video below). Props to the young blogger who posted this news nine days before it went public.

The fact that the MLB used the sample after knowing the sample shipment was late is absurd. A starting pitcher can’t be late to their scheduled start and expect the game to wait for them. An umpire can’t delay the game because he has to stop and pick up his dry cleanings. The MLB made the testing policy guidelines and those were broken by one of their employees. The chain of custody was broken. Everything from when the news broke in December was broken. The samples should have just been discarded and new samples taken at a later date. Instead, they used a sample that sat in an unlocked fridge for 44 hours on a weekend. How many people come to visit on the weekend? How cool would it be to show a friend Ryan Braun’s sample that your father collected? What are the odds the collector went on vacation and a friend or relative who is a Cubs fan wanted revenge?

As I mentioned earlier, no one will ever know if Braun was actually doping or if someone tampered with the sample. The only things known are the facts. The fact that the sample sat unguarded for 44 hours. The fact that the MLB testing policy was neglected. The fact that Ryan Braun hadn’t gained an inch of muscle and remained consistent agility (both of which have been well documented since his minor league career) despite testing five times higher than the average testosterone levels. The fact that his test results were leaked prior to his appeal. The fact that Braun’s career is now tainted forever. He will never be a first year MLB Hall of Fame inductee. In fact if his numbers decline whatsoever over the next 3 seasons even if its due to injury or age decline, he will be accused of doping in 2011 by his critics. Braun had a lot to lose and he lost it. The MLB had a lot to lose and they lost it. No one won in this decision except Brewer fans. Their hope for the 2012 season has been restored and that’s what has some of the public upset. The fact that their team now has to contend against a fully rostered Brewer team. Because of the steroid era, it seems our generations have gone from being in awe of players’ abilities to being the ones to point fingers and yell cheater when the player doesn’t play for their team (see Jose Bautista’s recent power surge). Hopefully, some day the public goes back to admiring physical talent and not accusing of unfair advantage until the results are official.

In my opinion, the biggest problem with the Braun’s situation was that MLB took the wrong road by defending the tests results and disagreeing with the results of the appeal. That and the fact that the positive results were even leaked to the media (ESPN). But the physical competition in the media to be the first to report breaking news will always be a problem as long as people can’t keep their big mouths shut.

So people, let’s move on to baseball season and only bring up the Braun decision once there is evidence of what happened during that 44-hour period.

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Selig Chicks Do Dig The Long Ball

It’s only 7 days into the season and there is already a controversy and this time it doesn’t involve an umpire. It takes a true baseball fan to enjoy a pitchers’ duel of 1-0 where the only run came on a solo home run by the pitcher suicide squeeze. What most fans want to see… The Long Ball.

What is the new conspiracy? Due to a down economy, the MLB has changed the hardness of baseballs to aid in easier to hit home runs (according to a bullpen catcher). You can find an entire story here on yahoo or here on NBC, both stating the same ‘facts’ myths. MLB did officially report that the consistency of baseballs has not changed. And I think some of our Home Run Derby owners can agree that the baseballs aren’t flying out at an unusual rate (Congrats to Pick Me Out A Winner Bobby who was the last team to record a homer, and no FRANtastic Five you may not choose an entirely new team).

To my amazement, the first fingers to point are not pointed at ‘The Clear’ aka Roids. Can we actually say that we have moved on past the steroids era? Rickie Weeks seems to have put on some extra muscle and Howie Kendrick already has a third of his typical season home run total. I’m not pointing fingers, but its only a matter of time before someone important does.

Or what about the bats? This isn’t the first time… or the second time… or the third time equipment has been modified to aid the player wielding it. Maybe the bat makers union has decided they are fed up with the Phillies Fab Four and took matters into their own hands. Or batters are sick of hearing that 2011 is the year of the pitcher.

Or maybe the MLB is just one big script and every season is predetermined from start to finish. We have already covered Strasburg’s Major League debut was scripted. I will seriously question this season if the BoSox come back from 0-6 to win the 2011 World Series in a sweep. I may stop watching baseball… may.

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