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The Home Run Derby Is Back For 2016

*YAAAAAAAWN* *STRRRRRRRRRRREEEETCH*

Wow, that was a great winter hibernation. Let me log in here to the World Wide Web and see whats been going on in the baseball world…. WHAAAAAATTTT?!?!?!?!

  • The Cubs purchased away Lackey and Heyward from the Cardinals?!
  • The Yankees added Aroldis Chapman to an already elite pair of closers?!
  • The Diamondbacks are buying big names?!
  • The Giants are stocking up on pitching again for their normal even years World Series?!
  • The Padres cleaned house after going bankrupt in 2015?!
  • The Brewers have traded away every starting player in 2015 except 1 OF, their 2B, their Catcher (yet), and 3 SP?!

It’s going to be a loooooong summer for ma and all other Brewer fans…

Well, at least I have the 2016 Kings of Cork Home Run Derby to look forward to!!!

That’s right we are back for our 7th season. Rules are the same. Pick a total of 5 guys from the predetermined groups, and if your team hits the most home runs combined, you are crowned THE King/Queen of Cork! All you have to do is go here and click the submit button (deadline is March 27th).

I’m excited to be hosting the contest yet again and can’t wait for the sounds of the cracking bats, the smells of the grills, and the tastes of the $10 beers. This may be the only baseball I look forward to as I watch the Brewers lose 100 games in order to rebuild. How many of you will join me?

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

Originally posted July 17, 2010:

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

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

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

The Ultimate Pitchers Park: Decepticon Park

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

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

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

The Ultimate Pitchers Park

The Ultimate Pitchers Park

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

Here are some interesting facts about the Decepticon park:

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

The Ultimate Pitcher's Park

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

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

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

The Ultimate Hitter’s Park: Autobot Stadium

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

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

The Ultimate Hitters Park

The Ultimate Hitters Park

Here are the facts on Autobot stadium:

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

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

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

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

Autobot Stadium

The Ultimate Hitter's Park

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

Transformers: Robots in Disguise… Enjoy.

Hunter Pence Laughs At His Own Jokes

I don’t remember if I brought this to everyone’s attention or not, but in early August some hecklers got very clever and the MLB fan base exploded with copycats. What made these hecklers so clever? They specifically targeted San Franciso’s awkward, googly eyed, Hunter Pence with ridiculous trolling signs. Just simple statements that if they were true would make you look at the person being accused and say “How” or “Why”.

Here are some examples:

    Hunter Pence Hates Bacon – who doesn’t like bacon?
    Hunter Pence Cant Shuffle Playing Cards – So he can hit a 98MPH fastball but his hand eye coordination isn’t strong enough to shuffle a deck?
    Hunter Pence Still Uses Websites From the 90’s – What’s a tweet and where is this book of face?
    Hunter Pence has Sharknado Insurance – Screw zombie apocalypse, if its raining sharks I’m going to get my roof and livestock replaced.

The best part was Hunter Pence even responded to the signs with his own Memes on Twitter:

But he wasn’t satisfied so he needed to put it into real words (aka rap music):

I wish this was the normal convention for heckling and athlete personalities. Instead the last few weeks the sporting world has been clouded by controversy, legal issues, and down right crude/unacceptable role model behavior. Something needs to change because money and egos are going straight to the brain for too many of these gifted and talented players.

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.
Dr1v31n1

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.

3 down, 159 To Go… What You May Have Missed

I know what you are thinking… ‘It’s only 4 days in to the season. What could I have possibly missed?’

Well, here’s a quick run down:

  1. Everyone in Oakland is doing ‘The Bernie‘ these days.

  2. The Astro’s pounded the Rangers on Opening Day to get a win. They only need 62 more to beat the line.
  3. The Astro’s looked like the projected Astro’s two nights later when Yu Darvish was 1 out away from a perfect game (it seems too early for no-hitters too). He needs to work on blocking the 5-hole.
  4. Marmol looks like typical Marmol… Strike Out, Hit Batsman, RBI Single, Walk, Pulled from game. And Axford looks like 2012 Axford, not 2011 Ax-man… 6 Hits, 4 Runs, 3 HR, 1 Blown Save, in 1.2 Innings.
  5. AJ Burnett got pranked on April Fools

  6. Michael Morse took his beast mode to the West Coast from the East Coast… 3 Homers in 9 At-Bats.
  7. Speaking of Home Runs, the Rockies won’t need pitching if they keep hitting like this… 41 Hits, 19 Runs, 8 HR, in 3 Games.
  8. When did pitchers learn to hit? Kershaw throws a complete game shutout with a solo home run. And Gio Gonzalez hit a solo home run in a 3-0 win on Wednesday.
  9. Red Sox’s front office fear losing their sellout record and persuade fans to come to the stadium by offering free food and half price beer (still $5, but cheaper than most stadiums)
  10. On Day Three (Tuesday), every home team lost.
  11. MLB may have to invoke the slow pitch Softball rule of not having to run the bases for home runs just because Pablo Sandoval may not be able to physically make it around the bases many more times.
  12. Take a tip from this guy on what not to do when taking your girlfriend or wife to a baseball game.
  13. Four walk-offs on Day 4… Votto, Escobar, and Joyce.
  14. Front Row Amy Andy made his first appearance in the Brewers stands on Tuesday.
  15. Gio Gonzalez claims to have done the unthinkable with his hand in public.
  16. Raymond, the Rays mascot, got caught on hidden camera admitting to murder.
  17. And Finally, Manny Ramirez hit his first Home Run in Taiwan.

That should get you caught up through the first four days.

#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…

Milestone Post Informs Contestants About More Winners In 2012

Carlos Ruiz may not be a winner after running 270 feet on a single wild pitch, but more of you will be in the 2012 Home Run Derby.

There’s no catch… AND you don’t have to throw faster than Jamie Moyer to win these prizes.

Instead of paying out the HR Derby leader at the All-Star break and 2nd half totals, EVERY MONTH we will have a winner. The team that hits the most home runs from the First of the month through the Last day of the month will take home the monthly prize. That means every team will have a fresh chance to win EVERY MONTH. Plus, we will still have our prizes for the Top-5 Overall season HR total leaders.

This news comes on a milestone for our site… this post is officially the 100th post and by the time most of the readers read this April 25th, the site will have surpassed 20,000 visitors. Those milestones are thanks to you the readers and participants of the Kings of Cork over the past 3 years. And with the interest still building on the site, we don’t plan to be stopping any time soon.

Other noteworthy news:

Giants Closer A Former Child Star?

I don’t want a large farva, I want a godd*$% liter o’ cola! Does that look like spit to you?

After scooping up the newly appointed Giants closer on waivers, I ran across a different movie reenactment than the one above.

It appears that either Santiago Casilla is a natural reenactment actor or he previously went by the name of Thomas Ian Nicholas and had a friend who enjoys warm apple pie.

Check out this clip from the former child star of Rookie of the Year:

That looked very similar to Henry Rowengartner’s at-bat from Fox’s Rookie of the Year:

Casilla had no intention of lifting that bat off his shoulder. He barely even had both feet in the batter’s box. Yet, the opposing pitcher couldn’t find a wide open strike zone. If Casilla is going to replace “The Beard” and his friend The Machine, Casilla better work on instilling fear instead of showing fear.

This post is also a disclaimer to all those fantasy baseball managers out there… go add Santiago Casilla, not Sergio Romo.

Expect The Unexpected – Baseball’s Current Personalities

Something to keep you busy while dropping the kids off at the pool in the 5th inning.

About this time every year, CBS’s hit Reality TV series, Big Brother, grabs hold of the TV ratings. The reality game show that takes 13 strangers and locks them in a house for almost 3 months with 52 cameras and 95 microphones capturing every move. Now, you can imagine what happens to people when they are locked in a house with no access to anything or any information outside of the house. No TV. No news. No phones. And no Kings of Cork. People begin to go crazy and usually CBS is pretty good about selecting wild personalities for the season (its more interesting when the ‘players’ are known to potentially snap at any moment).

If I were locked in said house for 3 months, I’m not sure how I would survive without my fantasy baseball and Milwaukee Brewers. As you can tell, I’m kind of a fan of the show and plan on watching 3 episodes a week for the next 10-12 weeks. But it got me thinking… If MLB could select its best personalities currently in the game, who would make the best reality TV drama? Well if I were choosing the personalities, here’s who I would select and who they remind me of most from Big Brother seasons:

  • Ozzie Guillen (Evil Dick) – It’s a signature on Big Brother to have that one insane older player. The player that is having a mid-life crisis and wants to give youth one last shot. Well, Ozzie Guillen would be that player. The White Sox skipper is known for his untraditional coaching style. If he’s upset about something, he lets EVERYONE know about it (just like Evil Dick). For instance, just this season he got in a heated debate during the crosstown rivalry and lost it when the umpire called a ball fair in-front of the plate and Alexi Ramirez was tagged out. Ozzie got his moneys worth after he was ejected. At one point, he kicked Cubs Catcher Geovany Soto’s mask to the backstop and the expression on Soto’s face is priceless (Check out the video here). Just as good as his on-field performances are Guillen’s post-game interviews. He’s had epic rants in the past and earlier this season, Ozzie went on a tirade after getting hit in the face by a foul ball and losing in extra innings by a wild pitch. Check out the video here. One thing is for certain, Ozzie Guillen would not be a good little league coach. Feel free to follow Ozzie on twitter to catch every rant.
  • Logan Morrison (Eric Stein aka “America’s Player”) – This guy is a rookie but he definitely is no rookie with technology. LoMo should be known as “America’s Player” because he is a major “Twittaholic”, with already posting over 8k tweets and having 3 times the standard Marlin game attendance as followers on Twitter. Just like Big Brother’s “America’s Player”, he was recently voted out of the game for his actions to appease America and got demoted to the minors for no apparent reason. He was playing great for a horrible team with the only possible reason to be demoted was due to his excessive tweeting. Just ask Marlin catcher, John Buck. At one point during the season, when his coach asked him what he was going to do after the game, he responded “I’m going to go home to play with Twitter.” Which the 80+ skipper responded, “what kind of dog is he?” Older generations and technology. Some just don’t get it.
  • Brian Wilson (Dr. Will) – “The Beard” has one heck of a personality just like Dr. Will (we’ve covered him before on KoC). Both are looking for a laugh. Both have an ‘evil’ side. And both are very controlling, manipulative, and the center of attention. Whether Brian Wilson is raging or playing dress up with ‘the machine’, one thing that remains unknown is how long will his beard last. His beard has outlasted Adam’s beard on this season of Big Brother. I would guess he isn’t able to shave it anytime soon seeing as he’s on the DL with elbow soreness.
  • Nyjer Morgan (Jesse Godderz) – Like Jesse, Nyjer is very full of himself and could talk about himself (or T-Plush) all day. Nyjer gave himself the nickname “Tony Plush” back in his more youthful years and uses it as his on-field persona. T-Plush aka T-Dot aka Tony Gumbo brings entertainment to every game. Whether its doing the Usain Bolt and then almost being hit by a line drive in the dugout, or being attacked by a trapped hawk trapped in Miller Park (the hawk also has a twitter page), or egging on Giant fans after robbing base hits. Tony Plush is a character who breathes Plushdamentals and you either love him or hate him. Currently, I love him since he is a Brewer and very entertaining. But on any other team, I wouldn’t be able to stand him.



Those are my few selections on who brings quirkiness and fun to a child’s game. If you think I missed anyone, feel free to post below.

Dream Homes By Jeff Suppan

An interesting article for those non “Do-It-Yourselfers” who are already sick of updating their Fantasy Baseball Rosters two weeks into the season (or for those DIY fellows who also agree with Fred Romero and “Don’t have time for this *fill in blank here*” and all of your projects have stalled because you are concentrating on baseball… aka people like me).

Speaking of Do-It-Yourself (so you like to Do-It-Yourself?) home renovations, according to a very reliable news source, my favorite ex-Brewer Jeff Suppan is currently picking up side work to make ends meet in Omaha. A year after making $12.5 million with the Brewers plus getting the 2011 Buy-Out option of $2 million AND receiving the pro-rated league minimum from the Cardinals (who mistakenly signed the bum), Suppan is now playing for the Kansas City Royals minor league affiliate after already being cut from the Giants in 2011. Both teams signed the “Soup-pan” to minor league deals so both still owe him money, but it still isn’t enough to cover his Los Angeles restaurant “Soup’s Grill” (which doesn’t even specialize in soup which is even a bigger disappointment to me than his Brewer career).

To help pay his wife’s plastic surgeon mortgage, Jeff Suppan has agreed to help out local Omaha residents with “small pitching projects around the house“. I would take “Soup” up on his offer in a heart beat. I would make him throw cutter after cutter into my five 20-foot pine trees in the back yard until all are in campfire proportions. Or if his cutter can cut ceramic and glass tile with the 1/16th inch precision, he can finish my bathroom remodeling projects. I just want to see him fail in person so he can actually hear my jeers (and I can finally stop having nightmares of the 2008 playoffs).

It’s still scary that somehow Suppan keeps getting closer and closer to my actual residence…

Double fist bump to my brother-in-law, Too High?, for keeping me informed on my most hated Brewer’s life struggles.