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News Flash: Joc Pederson Got A Hit That Didn’t Go Over The Fence

(Gus Ruelas / AP)

Well some people may consider Joc Pederson’s 0.264 batting average (9-for-34) with 16K’s over the past 10 days a failure.

Joc Pederson says the heck with them because 7 of those 9 hits were home runs. In fact, he had 7 hits in a row that were all home runs. He ruined that streak today by going 1-for-4 with a single against the Brewers.

Thanks to that streak of home runs, the rookie is on pace for 52 home runs this season, which would barely beat the record for a rookie which was 49 homers by Mark McGwire (was he on roids that early???). I love early season projections because only Hanley Ramirez, Mark Teixeira (both at 58), and Nelson Cruz (81) are projected to hit more and would be an awesome home run chase reminiscent of the 1998 chase.

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

Cactus League Stadiums – Camelback Ranch Stadium

With the Australia MLB opener complete, the MLB Sunday Night Opener beginning, and the big opening day less than 24 hrs away, I’m running out of time to finish my reviews of the Cactus League spring training stadiums. I’ve completed Municipal Stadium, Diablo Stadium, Cubs Park, Salt River Fields, Maryvale Baseball Park, and Goodyear Ballpark. Next, I move to the biggest SuperPark in the Sun Valley which is fitting that it houses the Dodgers and the largest payroll in Major League Baseball.

Camelback Ranch Stadium – Dodgers and WhiteSox

Camelback Ranch Stadium

    If you walk in through the centerfield entrance, you will know you are entering a completely different type of Spring Training stadium. With the fountains in the 2-acre lake and the lush grass and trees lining the walkway, this entrance makes you forget you are in a desert and instead makes you feel like you are strolling through a state park. It is kind of a hike from the parking lot in centerfield, but it was free parking (at least for the night game we went to) and the views make up for it.

    Once you are in through centerfield, you won’t be able to see the field because of the large trees and the hitter’s eye blocking the view. But the trees are a welcome form of shade and the grass around them house the carnival games and allow kids to crawl around. Going left takes you to rightfield which holds the scoreboard and visitor’s bullpen. Rightfield has the home team’s bullpen and a small patio with tables, chairs, and umbrellas.

    Once you see the inside of the stadium, you will be in awe of how large it feels and its architecture. The entire outfield has elaborate landscaping that makes you feel like you are watching a game in a small town park. The rock formations line most of the outfield and allows for leaning against for a ledge while standings and watching the game on one side and a back rest while watching the game on the other side. The grass seating wraps around both foul poles which maximizes seating for low-cost seats. This also allows a large area to peer into both bullpens and chat with coaches and players as well as get a free souvenir.

    After analyzing the outfield, you will notice the rusted exposed steel I-beam architecture of the second tier seating and press-boxes. They provide ample shade for the infield seats from 3rd base to 1st base and shades the concourse below. The concourses feel small and narrow with a lot of buildings inside the park. The infield seats have plenty of room but there is a walkway about 10-13 seats from the field which pushes all the higher rows further away from the field.

    The area itself is nice. Its on the west edge of the Sun Valley metropolis which puts it at the base of the mountains (there is a neat park for hiking only a few miles further West). But it lacks anything to do pre/post game. There are some big box stores a few blocks away along with some fast food. In order to get to any shopping areas, you have to drive a bit further West. For a bar, you have to go about 3-5 miles either East or West, but there isn’t anything within walking distance.

    This entire stadium is amazing and one of my favorite places in the Cactus League to watch a game. It’s actually more fun to walk around and enjoy the stadium than watch the game. I think the biggest reason for this is due to how large the field feels. You feel kind of removed from any portion of the game except for what’s happening in your vicinity. If you decide to watch a game here, either pay the money for the close seats or enjoy the game by walking around and watching from all different areas.

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.

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).

Vote Matt Kemp For Prom King

Really? Really?! Are baseball ‘fans’ really back in high school? Where popularity contests decide every outcome important to a hormone raging teenage girl.

Did baseball fans, once again, get too much authority and go on a power trip? I think so.

Folks, lets meet our National League All-Star Game starting outfielders: Carlos Beltran, Melky Cabrera, and Matt Kemp. (See the rest of the players voted in by the fans here)

Ok, let’s play our favorite Sesame Street game: Which one isn’t like the others? Cue the music and the timer… Ready?! GO!

Time’s up. The answer is Matt Kemp.

Don;t get me wrong. Matt Kemp is an outstanding and phenomenal ball player. With the numbers he was putting up in the first two months of the season, he was on his way to another MVP caliber season (we will revisit that MVP word later).

BUT Matt Kemp has played in 1 game since May 13th. ONE… and he doesn’t plan on playing until after the All-Star game (but he will attempt to hit homers in the HR Derby).

Him getting voted into the starting lineup of the All-Star game is like hiring a plumber who has to borrow your tools. It’s like crapping in a toilet that doesn’t flush. It’s like wiping before you poop… it just doesn’t make sense.

Sometimes shit happens. Sometimes a player lands on the DL just prior to the All-Star Game or just prior to the conclusion of the All-Star election. But a player making the starting lineup who has only played in One Game since May 13 is just ludicrous.

My assumption is that the casual baseball fans saw the name “Matt Kemp” on a ballot. That name triggered their frontal lobe which corresponded to the memory of the numbers Matt Kemp put up in the first month of 2012. Or the numbers Matt Kemp put up in 2011when he was ‘snubbed’ his MVP trophy by a steroid using Ryan Braun.

The results of the All-Star vote further cements the idea that most of baseball believes Ryan Braun is guilty of using steroids. Despite the fact that Ryan Braun is on pace to put up even better numbers than his 2011 MVP campaign where he had protection from the bigger pair of pants bat owned by Prince Fielder.

Or maybe this is the fans’ way of disputing the 2011 MVP results where many believed Matt Kemp was more deserving of the award. Even though the Dodgers failed to make the playoffs. Even though Braun’s Brewers made it the furthest run into the playoffs than the organization has gone in 20 prior seasons. To me, that is an MVP. A player who leads a winning team. Not a player who leads a losing team. Not a player who argues with management or owners.

I enjoy the idea that fans get to vote to acknowledge and award the best players in each league. But abusing this privilege will just lead to baseball communism where the league will choose the privileged players (just see what happened with ESPN’s best MLB stadium vote).

Maybe it’s time to give the power to the baseball experts. Maybe in order to reach the All-Star game a player must be voted in by baseball analysts (hopefully I would qualify). Or maybe the power should be given directly to the players. They would have enough common sense and knowledge to vote in the most deserving players. It would remind me of little league where your team voted which players should go to the little league All-Star game.

The 2012 All-Star Game isn’t the first time this has happened. It happens every season. Maybe this Brewer fan is more frustrated this season because Ryan Braun got snubbed from the starting lineup by the fans that have turned their backs on what will someday be one of baseball’s greats. But other fans should be upset too (Anyone a Rockies fan… CarGo got snubbed by the fans and many others didn’t deserve the starting spot above other players).

So I beg of you so-called baseball ‘fans’, don’t take one of our greatest benefits of being a fan away. Don’t crap in a toilet that doesn’t flush. In the future, vote for players that aren’t on the DL.

Thanks for this consideration.

The Kings of Cork Commish

The Humber Games: Week Of April 16 In Review

How long before junior highs offer a class on “what NOT to post on social media”. Seriously, no one wants to know when you used the restroom or what you are thinking at every exact moment. And if you are going to tell me anyway, at least try not to offend people.

The Hunger Games is the #1 grossing movie for the fourth week in a row but the MLB has its own movie to battle for the #1 spot: The Humber Game.

We are on the cusp of history ourselves here at KingsofCork as we are about to cross some major milestones. Let’s take a look back on the second full week of the MLB season where history was actually made.

If you don’t follow the Big Show on a regular basis, you may have missed the 21st 21st Perfect Game in MLB history this past Saturday, April 21st. Phil Humber was deceptively dazzling against Seattle. He managed to throw only 96 total pitches which is the 7th fewest of the 21 perfect-os. In fact, he didn’t even got to a 3-ball count until the 9th inning when he almost blew the perfect game with a 3-0 count to Saunders before battling back and striking him out. The 26th batter sent a lazy fly ball out to right field where Alex Rios appeared to show boat and catch the fly ball one handed near shoulder height. Probably not Humber’s preferred method. Humber proceeded to work to another full count on the final batter who flailed at a final off-speed offering. Then rather than running to first-base, since the ball rolled to the backstop, he argued that he didn’t go around. The last strike call was questionable, but since the Galarraga incident, on the last strike of a perfect game looming, any bat movement from the batter is going to be called strike three and rightfully so. Now we just have to wait to see what Humber gets for a gift and what he gives as gifts.

Who Can Take Some Fastballs
That Are Letter High
Set A Yankee Record By Taking Three Big Fly
The “Grandy-Man” Can…

Curtis Granderson, aka The Grandy-Man, set a new Yankee record by being the first Yankee to accomplish a feat. Any time a player is the first Yankee to accomplish something, that is a feat in itself. What Granderson did on Thursday April 19 was take his first three plate appearances out of the park. That’s right he had 3 home runs in the first 4 innings. And he became the first Yankee to go 5-for-5 with 3 home runs in a game. Lou Gehrig is the only Yankee with more home runs in one game with the MLB record of 4. Granderson’s performance not only powered the Yankees past the Twins, but helped catapult thirteen teams in the Home Run Derby Standings. One team managed to move 28-places on Thursday.

Jamie Moyer became the oldest winning pitcher ever in the Major Leagues. He was 81-days older than the previous record holder, Jack Quinn who was a relief pitcher and not a starter. So bonus points to Jamie Moyer and his 78-mph fastball. He managed to strike out 1 batter by lulling the batter to sleep. Moyer isn’t finished either. His record age will just keep increasing this season as I project him to win a minimum of 8-games if he remains healthy. Moyer won’t quit the greatest game on Earth until his fastball speed is lower than his age, which gives him at least 10 more seasons.

Josh Hamilton continued to swing a hot stick this week but more impressively, he hit a towering home run at Fenway on Tuesday that traveled 469 ft in right-center field. What makes this home run so great is that it may be one of the closest home runs hit to the Ted Williams seat at Fenway. The seat commemorates Ted Williams 502ft home run hit on June 9, 1946.

Lastly, Matt Kemp is a beast. He has 9 home runs in 15 games which is a new Dodger record. In fact, his 9 home runs are single handedly keeping some HR Derby Teams in the hunt (Chicks Dig The Long Ball only has a 9-HR total.. all from Kemp). His record pace has him projected to hit 90+ home runs. Not to be outdone, his teammate, Dee Gordon, is on pace for 90+ stolen bases this season. For those that know me personally, I have been proclaiming (even before the season) that Dee Gordon has the best chance to steal 100+ bases this year. The record for a single team duo is a 48HR/75SB season by the 1996 Cleveland Indians Albert Belle and Kenny Lofton. Kemp and Dee got this!

Manny Finished Being Manny

Manny Ramirez… when you hear that name do you think of a great baseball player or an on field entertainer?

The answer… it should be both.

Manny’s Hall-of-Fame career came to an abrupt end when the MLB requested Manny stop being Manny informed Manny he failed an illegal substance test and would face a 100-game minimum suspension. After an $18 million pay cut this off season, Manny has decided to call it quits rather than waiting until 2011 to continue his Hall-of-Fame statistics.

Manny finished in the top-15 for total Career Home Runs in the MLB and has the fourth highest Career Batting Average among the 500-HR club (only behind Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, and Jamie Foxx… all elite players). Not to mention Manny is a 12-time All-Star and appeared in every All-Star game from 1998-2008.

Manny may be remembered as being part of the 2004 Boston Red Sox World Series Champions where they game back from a 3-game deficit to the New York Yankees in the ALCS and then swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Or for leading the Dodgers back to the playoffs in 2008. BUT, what Manny may be remembered most for is “Manny being Manny” (ESPN reports 63% of poll voters agree).

I can remember watching a game where the Dodgers were down by four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning and Manny blasted a solo home run to right center and stared it down like he just hit a walk-off. Or how about the time he decided to take a break in the Green Monster to chat on his cell-phone. Or the time he took a bathroom break in the middle of an inning and almost missed the start of the next inning. Or him taking a break in the off-season to play some Cricket. Or when he cut-off Johnny Damon’s throw in center field. But my favorite has to be his high five double play off the wall catch (see the video below).

Whatever you may remember Manny for, he was an elite player and deserves a place in the Hall-of-Fame. Rumors are that the now retired Manny plans to party with Ricky Williams, Michael Phelps, and Tim Lincecum followed by a late night trip through Taco Bell’s drive through… mmmm chili cheese burritos.