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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.

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).

Three Starts to the Win-d

While you are looking for your missing $200 Million, baseball picks back up where it left off after a 4 day hiatus. And if you are looking for a game to watch Friday, tune into the Brewer game to witness history.

You don’t need to watch the entire game. In fact, if the Brewers continue to play like they have recently, I wouldn’t stay tuned in past the 3rd.

But what happens Friday at 7pm CT will be the first in 95 years. No it’s not the Pirates starting in 1st place after the All-Star break (that’s only been 15 years). For the first time in 95 years, a pitcher will start 3 consecutive games in the same season. The last player to achieve the feat… Red Faber on Sept 4, 1917.

Red started both games of a double header on September 3rd for the White Sox and then started again on the 4th. This was back in the period where pitchers threw nearly 400 innings in a single season. Babe Ruth pitched 326 innings that 1917 season.

This Friday, Greinke takes the mound for the 3rd straight game for the Brewers. But he may have a two small asterisks next to him in the record book. The first one is for the fact that his 3 consecutive games happened across the All-Star break. Thus, his 3 games spanned across 7 days. The second asterisk comes from the number of pitches Greinke threw in his first game. He threw… four.

Last Saturday, Greinke was ejected from his start after only 4 pitches for getting frustrated on a close call at first base. So he took the mound Sunday where the home plate umpire was the same ump to eject him from Saturday’s game at first base. The ump may have been trying to prove a point as Greinke labored through 3 innings and 66 pitches.

And unlike Red Faber who won all three of his games in 1917, Greinke is trying to win his first game out of his 3 starts.

Get ready Kings of Cork fans for an exciting second half. If your team is within 15 homers, your team has a very legitimate shot at winning the entire season. Those further than 15 back aren’t out, your team just needs to get some hott bats over the next 2.5 months.

Congrats to our first half leader, Grand Salami’s, who had a big run to overtake our previous leader before the All-star break. More importantly, congrats to our month of June winner, Bang Biscuit. His team mashed 35 homers in June (tying the Grand Salami’s) and had the fewest At-Bats required to reach that number.

Now we can all focus on July and get ready for the exciting trade deadline that is closing in fast.

No Homers, No Problem

On a night that the Brewers got burnt on Hot Soup

Albert Pujols not hitting a home run was not the biggest news in an Angels score recap.

In fact, almost no offense would have been required from the Angels thanks to their Ace on the mound… Jered Weaver, who threw a no hitter vs the Minnesota Twinkees Twins. Weaver’s no-hitter is the second of the 2012 season only behind Humber’s perfect game. Had Weaver not walked a man in the eight, the only other blemish on his scorecard was a dropped third strike that Parmelee safely reached first base on.

Weaver becomes the 10th Angel pitcher to throw a no-hitter. Nolan Ryan owns 4 and Ervin Santana owns one from July 27, 2011. It was a little redemption for the White Sox too who got no-hit by the Twins’ Liriano 365 days prior to Weaver’s.

Weaver has been one of the most consistent pitchers since 2010. He has sported almost a 1.00 WHIP the past two seasons and currently sits at a microscopic 0.78 WHIP for 2012. His ERA in 2010 was 3.01 and 2.41 in 2011. Now it sits at 1.61 in 2012 so he seems to be following the right trend. I do believe this could be his season to take home the prestigious Cy-Young award. He may have to pry it from Verlander’s hands but I think he could be the best player to do it.

Milestone Post Informs Contestants About More Winners In 2012

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

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

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

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

Other noteworthy news:

The Humber Games: Week Of April 16 In Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who’s Up for a Joyful Jog Through the Quad?

After you get done watching Bear Grylls throw the high heat (literally), it’s time to discuss this year’s streaking session.

Have you ever asked, “How could I retire early and spend all of my Spring, Summer, and Fall days watching baseball?”

Well, The Commish has an answer for you… get a hit streak longer than Joe DiMaggio. “But I don’t play professional ball,” you may reply. Well, The Commish has an answer to that as well… head over to MLB.com and play Beat the Streak. The first person to accumulate 57 hits (1 more than DiMaggio’s record) receives $5.6 Million.

The concept is simple: Pick a player each day. If that player gets a hit, your hit streak increments by 1. If he fails to get a hit, you go back to 0. It’s that simple, Or is it. Since 2001, no one has achieved this feat. Someone reached 49 in 2007, which is 5 more than Pete Rose’s NL record. But that could change this season. MLB.com implemented a new rule. You can pick 2 players per day and increase your streak by 2. If either player fails to get a hit, your streak goes back to 0. I say, no guts, no glory.

MLB.com is also giving away monthly prizes and prizes for teams achieving a hit streak longer than 30. So there isn’t a reason not to play.

So head over to MLB.com/BeatTheStreak and register. After you register make sure you add yourself to the KingsOfCork group on the Beat the Streak picks page.

Group Name:KingsofCork
Password: peterose

The goal is to have someone from our group show that we don’t only dig the long ball, but long streaks as well. Let’s bring home the prize!

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!!!

Bruce Almighty

(Photo via redlegnation.com)

Jay Bruce is doing something right to appease the baseball gods. Maybe he is giving them monthly sacrifices of young All-Star caliber players. Posey was the month of May’s sacrifice and it looks like Heyward could be the special for June.

The mighty Bruce is on a tear and campaigning early for the NL MVP. As of May 30, he’s currently leading two of the three triple crown batting categories. He leads the NL in home runs with 16 dingers. He is second in the entire MLB in Runs Batted In with 43. His batting average of 0.294 isn’t nearly what it’s trending towards (he hit 0.330 in the month of May). And he currently has 8 HR in his last 12 games (one off the Brewers tonight). He’s currently one of the hottest players in the League and, as of today, 2 Derby teams have taken notice (trading Vernon Wells for Bruce Almighty).

If Jay Bruce happens to keep up his MVP performance, it would be the 20th time in history (since the MVP was awarded in the modern era back in 1931) that an organization has repeated having the League’s MVP but having a different player win it the following year. It has been done 9 times in the American League. Mostly by the Yankees in the American League with four (the BrewCrew did have one tandem Rollie Fingers/Robin Yount in 1981-82). And it has been done 10 times in the National League. But the National League has been dominated by… surprise, surprise, the Cincinnati Reds whom have had 3 repeats (Joe Morgan/George Foster in 1976-77, Johnny Bench/Pete Rose in 1972-73, and a three-peat by Ernie Lombardi/Bucky Walters/Frank McCormick in 1938-40). So Joey Votto and Jay Bruce could make it four for the Reds organization which would tie them with the Yankees for the most repeat MVP’s by the same team but with different players winning the award.

Even if Jay Bruce doesn’t win the award, enjoy the rest of the show this season and be certain to keep an eye on Bruce as he matures over the next few seasons (he’s only 24).

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.