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Passing Zone Ahead: Major Milestones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

No News, Old News, And New News

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

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

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

Here comes a long winded rant:

    Umps are profiling all TB pitchers (AP)

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

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

Come Meet The 2011 King of Cork – What’s 5 Bucks!!

First off, I hope everyone enjoyed the most amazing night of baseball in a long time. In case you missed it on Wednesday August 28, home field advantage for 4 different teams was within 1 game. The Brewers clinched home field advantage with a win (after the Dbacks had a ridiculous walk off grand slam on Tuesday night to keep the deficit to 1 game). The Tigers also clinched home field advantage with a victory themselves on Wednesday. Even more intense was the fact that both wildcard races were tied and came down to the results of 4 different games. Three of which went into extra innings and all three of those had blown saves. And the last hit of the regular season determined who we would be watching in the playoffs. The Red Sox and Braves collapses became complete. And the Rays erased a 7-0 deficit to the devil Yankees in the 8th to win on a walk-off home run.

BUT… if you thought that those games were the only drama on Wednesday night, you may have forgotten how close our Home Run Derby contest was. Geez has been a staple at the top of the leader board since about June and he took home the title for the First Half with Prince Fielder trying to carry both his team and the Brewers to destiny. But along came the Rays What’s 5 bucks? who also packed the power of Fielder but had Braun, Reynolds, and Longoria to help share Fielder’s load. What’s 5 bucks? hit 82 home runs in the second half of the season (good enough for the second half title by 6 long balls). His team hit 32 homers in the last month (which was 5 more than anybody else and over 10 more than the league average in September) which helped him overcome a 10 home run deficit between him and first place.

Going into this epic Wednesday night (everyone over uses the term ‘epic’ these days, but seriously, that’s how great Wednesday night’s baseball was) , What’s 5 bucks? was 1 home run back from Geez but was also losing in the tie-breaker. With the Yankees up 7-0 in the 8th over the Rays, no one could have predicted what would happen next. The Rays managed to score 6 runs where 3 came off of a Longoria home run (+1 for What’s 5 bucks? equals a tie for first but losing the tie-breaker). Dan Johnson then hit a pinch hit home run with 2 outs in the 9th to send the game into extras. Remaining scoreless until the bottom of the 12th inning when Longoria got to bat again. He roped a line drive down the left field line and cleared the half-wall (seriously, the wall is only half the height of the rest of the wall for only the first 5-6 feet in left field) for a walk off home run clinching the Rays playoff spot and the Home Run Derby Title for What’s 5 bucks?. Meanwhile just 3 minutes prior to this home run, the Red Sox blew a save and watched the Oriole’s walk off with their post season dreams. I’m sure Geez was the only one of us who could sympathize with how the Boston players felt that night.

If that isn’t an exciting night of baseball, then you need to check your pulse. So there you have it… What’s 5 bucks? wins the 2011 Home Run Derby Title with 165 home runs. The ‘rumor’ is that last season’s Derby winner ($5 Donation) had to persuade What’s 5 bucks? to even play this year (hence, the team name). But this is all hear-say to The Commish. Not to be ashamed of his team, Geez put on a great performance all year but fell 1 out short on Wednesday night… twice. He will take home the First Half title, and the 2011 Derby’s first loser award. My team of Cream City’s Murderers’ Row just couldn’t put a last minute charge together but managed to hang onto third. Fourth place in the derby goes to Big Poppe’s Pill-Poppers. And fifth place in the 2011 Derby goes to ADRIAN GOES LONGoria (who also got into the Derby Hall of Fame on the last home run by Longoria to topple last year’s major collapse team of The Inglourious Batters).

So that’s the Derby season. Everyone can now check out the standings and see where their picks went wrong and how had they gone with their gut and chose Pujols over Dunn, they would be reaping the rewards at this point. Instead, now we all get to enjoy some great playoff baseball (I’ve already got my Brewer tickets because who knows when they will ever be back). Thanks to all the new comers this season. Thanks to all of the returning teams for keeping the Derby alive. As long as all of you stay interested, there will be a 2012 Home Run Derby. Hopefully with more teams, better blogging (I slacked on that this season, I apologize), and more site extras (I’m still working on a mobile site and a Droid App).

Please check back often as I do still post stories in the playoffs and in the off-season (usually at a slower rate, but probably at the same rate as the regular season this year). And GO BREW CREW!!!

Kings of Cork 2011 All-Stars

Something to entertain you while you allegedly choke down 69 hot dogs on the Nation’s Birthday.

It’s the 2nd week of July which can only mean one thing… there’s no football, there’s no basketball, there’s no hockey, and there’s no more tennis. The last sport standing is baseball. The bad news.. the season is half over and coming soon to a city near you is a fantasy football agreement.

But, in a few days, you will be able to admire the 2011 season MLB greats. Voted on by us fans, we get to watch the league’s best duke it out for Bud Selig’s Love home field advantage in the World Series. Seriously, what ever happened to letting games end in a tie. As kids we are taught to have good sportsmanship, but all Bud taught me was that every game has to mean something ever since “the incident” from the 2002 All-Star game in Milwaukee.

With the All-Star game fast approaching, we also get to admire this season’s big boppers with a mild twist from season’s past. This year for the Home Run Derby, the MLB selected team captains to pick 3 other players each to compete in the competition (mainly because the league couldn’t convince any player to participate).

I’ll cover the Home Run Derby topic later this weekend, what this article is about is this season’s Home Run Derby All-Stars. If you only wanted to select the top hitters in the league, what would the lineup look like of the ultimate slugfest team. Forget defense, forget pitching, this is strictly about hitting the ball as far as you can every time you grab a hold of the bat.

Before I announce this season’s All-Star All-Power team, I have a little pop quiz for you. Below is a photograph of 10 positions (the batter counts as the DH). Each position has a player in the 120+ baseball history that has hit more single season home runs than any other player at that position (Centerfield had a tie but it was broke by the player who had fewer plate appearances in the season that they hit the record). To be eligible for the position, the player had to play at least 50% of his career games at that position. How many can you name? You can find the answers by simply clicking on each player’s position from the classic NES RBI Baseball game screenshot. Edit: Removed jpeg due to issues.

Back to this season. Below is your starting lineup for the MLB team that has the most power in 2011 (as of July 8th):

  • Zach Duke – Pitcher – The former Duke of Second Place!!! Pittsburgh, now of Arizona, can hardly brag. He has limited power but as a pitcher he does have this season’s current home run lead with 2. Yep, that’s correct, the league leader in home runs for a pitcher is two. What do you expect, he’s paid to pitch, not to hit. His home run total for his 6 year MLB career… also, two.
  • Brian McCann – Catcher – The backstop for the Duke is the Braves’ starting All-Star catcher. He has hit 14 homers so far which is tops for the catcher’s spot. He’s hit 8 of those round trippers in June so he may just be starting to heat up.
  • Mark Teixeira – 1B – Big Tex isn’t even going to play on July 12th. His name was left of the All-star team but his 25 home runs so far this season leads the power heavy position at firstbase. It’s no surprise that the Yankee’s have at least one name on this list, but it’s definitely not the only one.
  • Danny Espinosa – 2B – Also snubbed a spot on July 12th’s lineup, Espinosa has hit 16 dingers so far this season. Odds are if you own him in any fantasy leagues, you did not have this guy on your team after the draft. He is tied with the starter for the National League (Rickie Weeks) but Espinosa has a significantly lower amount of plate appearances this season.
  • Mark Reynolds – 3B – No surprise here. Mark Reynolds is a beast of a player and he’s paid per home run, not per strikeout (he holds the single season record of most strikeouts in a season). He also didn’t find a spot on the All-star roster but his 0.230 batting average may have something to do with it. Still, he has hit 20 home runs this season which is the most at the hot corner.
  • Troy Tulowitzki – SS – At least Tulo is a reserve this year. He’s also about to get rolling since he seems to be a second half performer. Who can forget last season’s ridiculous 15 home runs in September. He currently has 17 home runs this season and hasn’t hit more than 4 in a month besides April. It’s only a matter of time before the ball starts finding the bleachers for Tulo.
  • Jose Bautista – OF – Where did this guy come from? He hit a league leading 54 home runs last season and is currently leading the league again with 29 long balls. Fans are taking notice of this guy since he just received a record 7.4 million votes for the most votes all-time by a player. He previously had 59 career home runs and in his past two seasons he has eclipsed that mark. And has only failed to lead the league in home runs for 48 days of the past 230 regular season days (dating back to May 23, 2010).
  • Curtis Granderson – OF – I told you there would be another Yankee. Granderson is on pace to destroy his career best home runs in a single season (which is 30 in his last season as a Tiger). He currently has 25 home runs and recently has been a popular replacement for Justin Morneau in the Kings of Cork Home Run Derby. He also found a roster spot on the 2011 All-Star game (no surprise either as the Yankees win most popularity contests).
  • Lance Berkman – OF – Welcome back to relevance Big Puma. You may have been snubbed by the Yankees, but you have been reborn in the arches of St Louis. He will get to strut his stuff in the All-Star game on Tuesday and rightfully should. He has 23 home runs so far this season after posting only 14 last year. He’s threatening his career record of 45 which he hit in 2006. As long as it isn’t against the BrewCrew, I’m rooting for Fat Elvis.
  • David Ortiz – DH – The captain of the 2011 AL Home Run Derby team seems to have picked a brilliant team. All four of his team members hit home runs on July 7th, including him. He now leads the DH roll with 18 moonshots. Big Pappi is the man and I’m glad to see him swinging the big stick again after almost being left to die with 1 home run in April and May of 2009. I hope he hits well enough on Monday for a chance to win back to back Home Run Derby Championships.

Remember to tune into the slug fest this Monday, July 11th. I like all the contestants this year but I will secretly be rooting for the BrewCrew members.

Don’t Touch The Big Red Button

Could life get any better on this Sunday afternoon? It finally feels like summer in the northern Midwest (temps nearing 80F). Amazing storms are rolling through the plains (everyone keep safe). Tiger is crafting a masterful comeback on the last day of the Masters climbing the leader board with ease (Tiger showing the new young guns how to play golf). The Brew Crew are playing the Cubs and I get to listen to Uecker announce the game while the Masters are on in High Def. AND the AL East is collapsing (Are the Red Sox and Rays really 1 and 7).

The only thing that could make this any better is having the Yankees and Rays switch records.

Both the Rays and Red Sox opened the 2011 season 0-6, but both got off the schnide on Friday (I dare you to click that link). The Rays did it off the ChiSox by rallying from three down in the 9th inning to score five and win by two, while the Red Sox got their first victory from their AL East nemesis, the Yankees. Boston fans finally rejoiced and thought, just maybe, that the Red Sox were finally on their way to winning games.

The best part about the Red Sox horrific start: no it’s not the fact that they spent $172MM (this doesn’t include the Adrian Gonzalez contract extension which could push $150MM), the best part is watching the entire Red Sox nation squirm in their seats that their team is starting the 2011 season this poor. I’ve already discussed the life of a fan of a sub-0.500 sports team and listening to the panic of fans from one of the big three teams gives me warm fuzzy feelings.

The worst part about the Red Sox start: having to put up with all of the major sports media covering ‘the end of the world‘. Seriously, ESPN, Yahoo, CBS, and SI need to stop being so east coast biased (click that link, it’s ESPN even calling themselves out or this one where they are called out by others). The NL Central (Cubs get it all) and the AL/NL West (Giants get it all) want some love too. Just to put all the talk to rest, there has only been two teams in MLB history have started 0-6 and made the playoffs (the ’74 Pirates and the ’95 Reds), so history says there is still a chance for the Red Sox. Plus the season is 162 games for a reason and we are through only seven. When the season hits the end of May, then everyone can start making a big deal about poor starts. No valid conclusions can be drawn from a sample size of 7 out of 162 (this also applies to Pick Me Out A Winner, Bobby and Warning Track Power in the Home Run Derby). So I beg of you major sports media… please stop covering the coasties’ sports teams and start spreading the coverage with the Royals blistering start with one of the youngest aged teams in the Majors (I try my best on covering all divisions of the MLB but may be bias towards the Brewers and NL Central, so if you see an interesting bit of MLB news, don’t hesitate to drop me an email about it). Tune in for the Red Sox 1-8 start tonight on ESPN’s SUnday Night baseball against the Yankees.

On other side notes, Casey McGehee (the golden boy of a lot of the Wisconsin based HR Derby teams) has come off the bench and the schnide by hitting a game winning 8th inning two-run home run of the Cubs’ Kerry Wood to lead take the first Brewers/Cubs series of the season!!! Thome also came off the HR schnide for all you Twins fans but not enough to beat the Billy Beane’s A’s.

Manny Finished Being Manny

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

The answer… it should be both.

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

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

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

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

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