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

Originally posted July 17, 2010:

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

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

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

The Ultimate Pitchers Park: Decepticon Park

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

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

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

The Ultimate Pitchers Park

The Ultimate Pitchers Park

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

Here are some interesting facts about the Decepticon park:

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

The Ultimate Pitcher's Park

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

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

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

The Ultimate Hitter’s Park: Autobot Stadium

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

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

The Ultimate Hitters Park

The Ultimate Hitters Park

Here are the facts on Autobot stadium:

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

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

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

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

Autobot Stadium

The Ultimate Hitter's Park

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

Transformers: Robots in Disguise… Enjoy.

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

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

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

Originally posted on Aug 22, 2010:

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

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

Pine Tar and Delaware River Rubbing Mud

Delaware Rubbing Mud

Delaware River Rubbing Mud


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

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

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

4. Records that won’t be broken

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

Other pitching records that will never be touched:

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

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

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

3. Unwritten Rules

Dallas Braden's New Fasion Line

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

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

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

Other well known ‘codes’ are:

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

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

2. Waivers Isn’t a Fantasy Baseball Term

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

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

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

So what is the general rules for waivers:

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

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

1. The Original Rules

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the original twenty rules.

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

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

Change Is Good… Most Of The Time

Welcome 2015! And welcome back to myself!

As the saying goes, change is inevitable. Sometimes its wanted. Sometimes its hard to achieve. Sometimes it just happens. But ‘change’ is inevitable, for better or for worse.

For those of you further removed from my personal life, my wife and I welcomed our first baseball player child in October during the MLB playoffs (people say he looks a lot like me):

Unfortunately, the Brewers weren’t in the playoffs so I didn’t get to name him Lucroy-Braun Gomez-Gallardo… but we did name him after one of the greatest (if not the greatest) pitchers of all-time… Denton Young. Don’t know that name?! Go ahead, Google it now. I’ll wait.

Thanks to the new acquisition to my home team, the site has been idle for much longer than I ever would like. And it may sit idle longer than desired in the future as well, but I vow to keep this contest and site going as long as possible with hopes that my little guy can submit a home run derby team one day.

Usually, I don’t welcome change but our little Cy Young is a great exception. For most things, I live by the saying ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. But when it is broke, I HAVE to fix it so it will never break again. Sometimes that goal is achievable, but for most things, time will always break them again. And one thing time always breaks are strong baseball dynasties.

Weak teams will always stay weak unless strong moves are made. Strong teams will always crumble unless they continue to make those strong moves that made them a dynasty in the first place. And recently, dynasties have been digging themselves into deep debt that they can’t overcome by offering long term deals to players that can no longer perform *cough*Yankees*cough*Angels*cough*Marlins???

So what has happened so far this off-season:

  • Padres – Weak teams only stay weak if they do nothing… and the Padres did everything but nothing. I don’t know where the Padres found the cash but they have invested a lot into the 2015 season. They traded for every outfielder in the majors, or so it seems. They added 2-time silver sluggers Matt Kemp and Justin Upton, and rookie of the year Wil Myers. They also added Josh Johnson, Brandon Morrow, Brandon Maurer, Derek Norris, and Will Middlebrooks. And they basically gave up nothing. It’s almost as if they went dumpster diving, picked up everyone’s used crap, and are going to refurbish them into dinning room tables and chandeliers that everyone will be jealous of in the NL Worst West. I’ll go out on a very short limb and say that the Padres finish above 0.500 for the first time in 5 seasons and may get a wild card out of their big acquisitions.
  • CubsHello 2015 and Marty Mcfly… Back to the future II predicted the Cubs winning the World Series in the year 2015, so it has to be true, right?! (Well, it was against Miami which we know isn’t possible unless there is a last minute rules change). The Cubs are a team who may have been weak for seasons, but their strong moves didn’t come in off-season acquisitions. Most of their moves came in the minor league drafts, trades for young players, and international signings over the past several. Their team is filled to the brim with players under 25 years of age just waiting to become the next Mike Trouts or Troy Tulowitzkis. Remember these names Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, and Tommy La Stella. They are about to become common references on ESPN highlights. Now pair them with Anthony Rizzo, recently acquired Jon Lester and Miguel Montero, Jake Arrieta, and Jason Hammel and you may have a team that won’t miss the playoffs for a few seasons (assuming they all stay healthy). Oh, I forgot to mention the new coach, Joe Maddon. Game over NL Central. The Cubs are no longer the division doormat that gets walked all over.
  • White Sox – Could we be looking at a Windy City World Series (the White Sox won the last one in 1906)? The South Siders have made a huge splash in 2015 and I believe the AL Central will be the most exciting division to watch this year. They acquired Jeff Samardzijaqxkasfzza, David Robertson, Zach Duke, Adam LaRoche, and Melky Cabrera without losing any of their main pieces in their 2014 starting lineup. With the Tigers bathing in bad contracts and the Royals wondering if they were just a one hit wonder, the White Sox are looking to capitalize in the near term and will worry about the long term later.
  • Brewers – Weak teams only stay weak if they do nothing… and the Brewers did nothing. I really enjoy early December because the Winter Meetings in baseball are occurring. All the team front offices and agents get together to talk trades and signings over 4 days in some hotel in some warm city. You know what the Brewers did this season? They took a vacation to some sunny beach. The Brewers literally did nothing. They watched some Netflix, ordered some pizza, had pillow fights… oh, they did talk to the Boston Red Sox about something, probably about the 7th season of Sons of Anarchy. So, I will go back to my basement in the NL Central and just wait a few decades for the Brewers to become relevant again.
  • Athletics – Billy Beane decided to sell high, which isn’t unusual for him. But he didn’t buy anything with the money other than a DH who hasn’t learned to hit in the bigs yet. They shipped off Jeff Samardzija, Josh Donaldson, and Brandon Moss. What they got in return is a lot of hope for 2017-2018. That doesn’t help their fans stay interested when the Angels and Mariners are buying in the AL West. Oh, they did get the best Hashtag nickname out there though. #CountryBreakfast is moving from KC and bringing his BBQ sauce with him to the west coast. If only he had a bat to bring with for that paycheck they gave him. Maybe Oakland is just looking for a BBQ sauce to endorse.
  • Marlins – It seems like every 5 years the Marlins buy, buy, buy. And then 1-2 years later, they have a fire sale and get all the big contracts off their books. Well, they are back at it again. They signed Stanton to a crazy long contract. However, they were at least smart with their long term deal by giving him the option to leave in a few seasons and leave 9 figures on the table… but who would leave over $100mil on the table? I know I wouldn’t, not even for a ring. Heck, you can buy a replica WS ring for less than $10k. They then traded for Dee Gordon, Dan Haren (who is refusing to play anywhere but on the West Coast), Mat Latos, David Phelps, and Martin Prado. They also added oft injured slugger Mike Morse. The only problem with that group… it’s going to be a lot harder to have a fire sale with those names than they had in 2012.

I’ll keep scratching this baseball itch I have so check back again for more offseason baseball posts.

May’s Must Click Links

With the weather warming up and summer in the air, The Commish’s dedicated writing time gets shorter and shorter (well, my daily sleep time is even shorter than that). And I feel like in the last few weeks there has been an abundance of articles in off-the-wall locations that I haven’t had enough time to catch them all.

So, I’ve decided to regurgitate all of them here at once. Ready for links to keep your mind off work on Friday. Then, here we go:

  • First on the list is a feel good video. I won’t even make you click a link to leave the page (unless you want to). You can watch it below:

    How cool is that?! The kids first professional baseball home run (in the minor league that is) was caught by his dad. If I’m the father, I can think of 2 options:
    1) Wrap it up and cross your kid’s name off your Christmas list early this year.
    2) Use it as blackmail for free lifetime season tickets, a house, and a Ferrari if the kid ever makes it to the Majors.
  • NY Times Upshot captures regional data from Facebook users and creates very interactive maps. Earlier this season, I stumbled upon a baseball dedicated map that actually takes fandom geography all the way down to individual zip codes. Nothing is too surprising at first glance but then you realize that there are only 26 ball teams in big bold letters at the farthest zoom. So who are the 4 missing teams… one is Toronto, so no real surprise there. But then there is no Oakland, White Sox, or Mets listed. The White Sox have the ‘largest’ areas of those 3 teams as a small pocket in south Chicago. But for as much as I love Oakland fans, this shows that they are almost non-existent. Which makes me wonder, why haven’t they moved to San Jose or somewhere else. I think I was most surprised about how large the Mariners, Rockies, and Twins kingdom spans. Granted there aren’t many teams to choose from in that area of the country. But another concerning aspect I found on this map is that every single zip code lists the top 3 teams and almost EVERY single one has the RedSox and Yankees in 2 of the top 3. Why does it seem everyone roots for the dynasties (granted the RedSox weren’t what the Yankees were in the 90’s). I mean root for the little man for once! It’s fun. The die hard fans of these fans make the games amazingly fun even though they may watch their team lose more than 50% of the time.
  • I love watching baseball. Even if it isn’t one of my teams, the game play is what I enjoy. The strategy between the two teams is like watching a dance or a suspenseful action movie. So naturally I purchase all the sports packages and one of them I need to get access to all 30 teams is MLB.tv. Nothing like being able to stream radio audio or video of every single game out of market. Or if you are like me, you enjoy your radio announcer (Uecker!!!) more than the TV announcer so you sync MLB.TV audio with your satellite video feed (ya, I’m that kind of baseball geek). But have you ever pondered about what it might do to your mobile data plan if you wanted to watch or listen to whole games. Well, I found you the link that shows you what it will cost of your precious data plan to watch a 4 hour Yankees/Red Sox game… only about 1.5 to 5.5 GB depending on download rates. For me, that’s well out of my monthly data limit and I would hate to owe ATT the calculated $4499 in monthly overage fees. Thank goodness for hacking wifi networks!
  • I’ve professed my love to a few things in my lifetime, and fantasy baseball is one of them. I live for it every season and I finally found another blog post that shares my love of fantasy baseball and hatred to football (and why baseball fans are better than football fans). On a daily basis, you can usually find me walking around, staring at my phone, trying to read the latest player news (and usually walking into poles). It’s my chance to basically be a GM without requiring to pay out millions of dollars in player salaries. And if you want to be good at fantasy baseball, it is a daily job. Lineup changes, new acquisitions, daily injuries/scratches, etc. I enjoy trying to predict players’ abilities to play baseball and predict their upcoming trends (whether they are hot or cold). Ripping off fellow baseball fanatics in trades is a favorite pastime of mine.
  • Everyone remembers the movie ‘BASEketBall‘, right? Of course you do (heck, a few of us have even played a few baseketball games ourselves). One of the core values of the game of Baseketball was that players weren’t allowed to be traded. Therefore, every team was quote, Homegrown. So what if the MLB had similar values where players couldn’t be traded, only acquired through drafts. Well, this blogger did a phenomenal job recreating every MLB Homegrown team for active players back in 2013. Some of these lineups are AMAZING (and others are just horrendous). Could you imagine a Marlins team with Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, and Matt Dominguez with Stanton and Willingham in the OF. Not to mention Beckett, Jose Fernandez, and Josh Johnson as the top 3 starters. Or how about the Rangers with Encarnacion, Kinsler, Ott, Profar, and Teixeira in the IF with Chris Davis in the OF. But probably the best team… the Mariners. Fister, King Felix, Iwakuma, Morrow, and Tillman as starting pitchers is ridiculous. But even more ridiculous is their offense (specifically the OF) of Suzuki, Shin-Soo Choo, Ibanez, and Adam Jones. Oh, how about David Ortiz at DH. And then basically the current Mariner IF (Miller, Frankling, Seagar, and Ackley) with the addition of Asdrubal Cabrera. That’s crazy good and doesn’t even include A-Roid. Go check out your homegrown team (Brewer fans should avoid reading the SP rotation though).
  • Technology is crazy these days. You can basically stalk whoever you want (thanks Facebook). You can look up what relative of yours was overthrown by their minions and forced to give back their land in France (thanks Ancestory.com). You can now get instant offers, player walk-up music, and concession menus thanks to MLB.com’s At the Ballpark app. What’s even better is some parks offer free seat upgrades on this app. Hello first row!
  • Apps are cool and all, but what about new data and video systems. Well, Miller Park was 1 of 3 teams that got a new data system installed this offseason to track even more statistical data online and display wicked awesome graphics. You want to know what Carlos Gomez’s top speed was while robbing Votto of a home run? You want to know how far he ran to get there? You want to know how quick his reaction time was before taking his first step? You want to know his acceleration? Done! I really hope this data is used for good and not evil. The good would use it for evaluating players performance and giving the players performance reviews in order to earn their raises like everyone else. The evil would use it to calculate how fast boyfriends jump out of the way of a foul ball instead of protecting their girlfriends.
  • Speaking of at the ball park, do you hate the fact that beers cost $500 there? Me too. But being the total cheap ass that I am, I can now plan what stadiums I need to visit to get the bang of hot dogs and beer for my buck. See, money.CNN released an interactive catalog of every team‘s home stadium and what $20 will buy you in hot dogs and beers (it even includes different beer sizes). Where am I going next? Either Arizona or Cincinnati, where you can buy 5 hot dogs and 3 fourteen oz beers for $20… want more beer, go to Arizona which has the cheapest oz of beer per dollar rate in the MLB.
  • Last on the must click link of May is to the Intentional Walk Rage Scale (IWRS) scoreboard. What is the IWRS you ask? Well, does it piss you off when your team issues a free pass to first base? Yes?! I know it does to me. There is no one that good in baseball that the odds of them getting a base hit is higher than them making an out (batting averages over 0.500 don’t exist). Well, an NBC sports analyst came up with a way to rate how bad an Intentional Walk is and how upset it should make you. It’s too complex for me to explain (so go read it at the link above) but let’s just say that when your manager walks a guy on purpose in the second inning with 2 outs and a runner on 2nd in a one run game, then you should be FURIOUS!

Only 2 full days left until we crown a winner in May of the 2014 Home Run Derby… Big Stinky is trying to run away with it late thanks to Nelson Cruz.
Stay Tuned.

You’re Listening To 97.7 – Reddick’s Slow Jams

I’ve said this for years, but I will say it again… Oakland has some of the best fans in baseball.

And why wouldn’t they? Billy Beane has built a winning team from chump change and always gives the fans a competing team. But it also takes personality to become great fans.

For instance, take Ian Sagabaen… aka Greatest Sign Maker. He’s a graphic designer and diehard A’s fan. And for the past several seasons, he’s been creating some of the greatest signs anyone will ever see at a game. In fact, he’s so talented that he’s been featured several times on MLB and even had a behind the scenes look at his awesome sign making.

But it takes more than just fans like Ian to create a fan base. You need players with personality as well. Take Coco Crisp. He’s always had personality… just look at that ‘fro of hair. But what he started in Oakland turned into a crazed ritual. After a big play the Oakland players started to do the Bernie lean from weekend at Bernie’s, and the fans latched onto it and ran.

It got so popular that not only did they make an official music video (what defines ‘official’ music video anyways?), but eventually they made a Coco Crisp Bernie Lean bobblehead.

But it’s a new season so the A’s need a new character. Cue Josh Reddick, his slump, and his walk-up music.

Reddick has been bad this season. Some of you may know this because you chose him in the Home Run Derby. So, he requested his walk up music be changed hoping to spark a fire under his bat. And you know what, his bat seems to like the sweet slow jams of Wham’s “Careless Whisper”. And not only his bat, but the fans too…

He’s so red hot the last week that he is now 6-for-15 with 3 home runs and 9 rbi’s since adopting the sweet tune.
What’s crazy is even fantasy advice is recognizing this and attributing his success to the music:
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My favorite part of the video highlights of his Wham walk up music is probably the fan base jamming out with him as he came to the plate again. You know the diehard fans will be downloading this song just so they can pre/post-game celebrate to it. I would guess that if you monitored song downloads carefully, you would see a big uptick in “Careless Whisper” downloads in the next week. And I bet Sean Doolittle is one of them:

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Cactus League Stadiums – Municipal Stadium

As I begin my reviews of the Cactus League Spring Training Stadiums, we start with the three teams located inside the Tempe/Phoenix city limits. These three teams are within 5 miles of each other which makes it easy to see many games during your stay without requiring a vehicle.

Munincipal Stadium – Oakland A’s

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Phoenix Municipal Stadium

    We start with the Stadium in downtown Tempe. If you haven’t been to this stadium yet, you probably never will. This season was the last scheduled season for the stadium to be used by the Oakland A’s since they are moving to a different stadium in 2015. You can feel disappointed but most may call you lucky. I actually enjoy this stadium (but I am also the size of a thirteen year old). It’s quaint, it has some great views, it’s very open, and there really isn’t a bad seat. But it does have some pitfalls. It’s missing newer amenities, the seating is very tight, there are no outfield seats, and there is no shade.

    I like the coziness the most about this stadium. It feels like you are sitting on the field with the players. The coziness also allows for a stadium without a bad seat in the house (with the exception of sitting behind one of the light poles). Most of the seats are bleacher style seats which means you are most likely sitting on your neighbor if the game is packed. But I have met a lot of interesting and neat baseball fans while sitting on their laps at Municipal Stadium. We like to play ‘Pass The Cup‘ at games and have had plenty of strangers join in at this stadium.

    One of the downsides to this stadium is that there are no outfield or grass seats. That doesn’t mean you can’t get cheap tickets here, but it does mean there is no sun bathing for you or others (male or female, whatever you are in to). No outfield seats leads to a lot of advertising in the outfield but it also opens up the outfield to amazing views of the Arizona mountains and deserts (even though it’s downtown). What also helps with the views at this park are the very open concourses. A lot of the other stadiums have covered concourses or second level seating, but this stadium is completely open with nothing ever blocking the view of the fields (except the light poles… again). But this also has a drawback because even though you can’t sunbath in the outfield, you can bake your knees and shoulders in the hot sun while sitting on the bleachers with no shade.

    Also with the older and open design, its easy to find players, GM’s, owners, announcers, etc. I can still remember seeing Billy Beane in is personal box suite directly behind our seats. And if you want an autograph or game ball, make sure you sit further down the left or right field foul lines by the bullpens. They are directly on the field similar to Wrigley which allows you to talk to players and get game balls from them. One of the other benefits of this stadium is that its directly off the light rail public transportation. This allows you to ride to the stadium with a lot of other fans (which may lead to trash talking each other), avoid the hassle of parking (which if I remember, is not fun at this stadium), and you get a ride back to downtown Tempe where you can walk around ASU campus, streets, shops, and bars.

    Again, I’m sad to see this stadium taken out of the rotation but if’s time for every team to get a baseball super park.

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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.

MLB Comedy Club

This has been a slow baseball story year… at least it feels like it to me.

Biogenesis has come and gone (others continue to talk about it… boring). There are some close division races. Trades have been minimal. But finally, the boys have loosened up a bit out on the field. The Marlins and Diamondbacks have some kind of wrestling fetish going on. John Buck had an incident with a wiener in Milwaukee. But the past few days have been more like a comedy club out on the diamond.

So, I’ll be your MC for today’s show. And you guys are in for a treat as our first act comes straight to us from the runaway NL East. Give it up for Chris Johnson.

Chris Johnson was ejected from a game this past Saturday for arguing balls and strikes. Knowing he was in the wrong (come on, I even know not to argue about the umps job), Chris Johnson decided to take self humility as a way to earn back Jim Joyce’s trust (maybe also a bribe to help Johnson win the hitting title?). Before Sunday’s game, Chris Johnson literally taped his mouth shut so that he couldn’t argue with the ump. This was also valuable lesson for all the teenagers out there…

Second in our act tonight is a comedy duo. Put your hands together for Billy Beane and John Daniels.

The A’s and the Rangers’ front offices are messing with Adam Rosales’ mind. How you ask? Here are the past 6 events for Rosales MLB career:

  1. On July 31st, the A’s designated Rosales for assignment, aka a demotion to the Minors, to make room for another player in the Bigs.
  2. On August 2nd, the Rangers claimed Rosales from waivers due the designation.
  3. On August 5th, the Rangers demoted him once again to the Minors.
  4. On August 8th, the A’s claimed him back from the Rangers from waivers and had him arrive with the team in Toronto.
  5. But the A’s weren’t ready to keep him and demoted Rosales to the Minors yet again on August 10th.
  6. But guess who really wanted Rosales, the Rangers. They again have claimed Rosales off of waivers… but for how long?

Just think of how many extra frequent flyer miles Rosales and his family are receiving the past 12 days. They may be able to take a free vacation to Oakland soon.

Our next act will definitely make you LOL. Here’s JJ Putz.

How do you make a really bad closer look even worse??? Blair entrance music in the middle of his delivery…

And now the moment you have been waiting for tonight. Our headliner of the evening. Let me hear you give it up for Adrian Beltre.

Let’s let Beltre’s base running do the joke telling…

Thank you. Thank you. I’ll be here for the next few months.

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.