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Change Is Good… Most Of The Time

Welcome 2015! And welcome back to myself!

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what has happened so far this off-season:

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

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

Cactus League Stadiums – Camelback Ranch Stadium

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

Camelback Ranch Stadium – Dodgers and WhiteSox

Camelback Ranch Stadium

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Commish Awards – Cactus League Spring Training

Do you hear that?! The slap of the ball hitting the catchers mitt. The crack of the ball coming off the bat. The sizzling of pale white skin being burned by the sun of people who haven’t seen sunlight in 4 months. Isn’t it great?! If you haven’t got the chance to experience spring baseball live, you need to put it near the top of your bucket list right now.

I prefer the Cactus League. A) Because the Brewers play there. B) Because all the teams are within 30-40 minutes of each other which makes it possible to see multiple games in a day, visit a lot of different teams, and find your favorite hang out spot. And because of the second reason and after my annual trip to the Arizona Valley, I have enough intell on most of the stadiums in the Cactus League that I can offer up my favorite hang outs for enjoying baseball in the hot, scalding Cactus League sun. I’ll be posting longer and more in-depth reviews of each stadium I have visited in the Phoenix area throughout the next week, but time to hand out some of my Cactus League Stadium rankings.

So here we go, time for The Commish Awards for the Cactus League (Disclaimer: I can’t give awards out to Scottsdale or Peoria stadiums as I haven’t visited those two yet):

Award For Best Things To Do Before or After Baseball

  • Winner – Glendale 9 Drive-In:
    Who doesn’t like going to the movies?! Now what if the movies were OUTSIDE in a comfortable 60 degree starry night? My childhood included several excursions to the outdoor theater with all the siblings packed into a backed up mini-van with seats removed for sprawling sleeping bags out in the back. So why not bring back those memories and create new ones at the Glendale 9 Drive-in movie theater which seems to be a dying fad across America. It’s reasonably priced, most movies are double features, and if you scan channels long enough you can even get some bonus movies on the screens around yours.
  • Runner-Up – Hiking any one of the surrounding mountains:
    The Phoenix metro area is called ‘The Valley’ for a reason… its surrounded by mountain ranges. If you do enough research, you can find hundreds of trails in parks that are free or have a minimal vehicle fee under $10. And if you are brave enough to park a distance away from most gated trail heads, you can catch a sunset or sun rise from the top of one of the peaks. My recommendations for trails are: trail 44 at North Mountain, trail 300 at Piestewa Peak, any trail at White Tank Mountain Regional Park, and the Hidden Valley trail at South Mountain.

Glendale Drive-In 9

Award For Largest Stadium

  • Winner – Camelback Ranch Stadium (home of the WhiteSox and Dodgers):
    This stadium feels GIA-NORMOUS. It has two-levels of seating but seems to boast a plethora of rows on the first level. The extremely large concourses and extravagant landscaping also contribute to the vastness of the stadium. If you are looking for an MLB style stadium and experience, don’t miss this stadium on the far West side of the metro area.
  • Runner-Up – Cubs Park:
    The new Cubs stadium is a large step up from their past spring training facility. The new stadium has a very deep grass-seating section and also boasts what is probably the most 2nd level seating in the Cactus League. Combine that with the Wrigleyville rooftop experience in left-field and you have a park for one of the largest baseball fan bases in the country. Now if the stadium could just help the team win in the regular season.
  • Worst – Phoenix Municipal Stadium (home of the A’s):
    The stadium in the heart of Phoenix has a lot of unique quarks about it, and one of them isn’t large number of seating options. With only a single level of seating that doesn’t even allow seats in the outfield. So if you are looking for a chance at snagging a Cespedes HR ball, better look somewhere else.

Camelback Stadium

Award For Best Views

  • Winner – Phoenix Municipal Stadium (A’s):
    One benefit of no outfield seats is not having to stare at people. It’s a shame that the stadium chose to cover up some of the local nature with large billboards. But, the stadium still offers up an experience like no other, the experience of a diamond erected in the middle of the Rockie Mountain desert (and its actually in the middle of metro Phoenix less than 5 miles from the airport). Left field has some great rock formations, right field has a ton of trees that are part of a local park containing the zoo, and the rest of the outfield ground is layers of the great red desert dirt. It feels like the last place on earth you would be watching a game of baseball with the most elite of players.
  • Runner-Up – Diablo Stadium (home of the Angels):
    Similar to Phoenix Municipal, its the only other stadium with rock formations near the stadium. But they just aren’t as impressive and the rest of the surrounding views are just so-so. It has the same distant mountain views of most of the other Cactus League Stadiums, but what it does have over the others is a view of the Tempe city skyline in center field. The stadium also has a pretty awesome entrance that would rival any MLB stadium.
  • Worst – Goodyear Ballpark (home of the Reds and Indians):
    It was a toss up between Goodyear Ballpark and Maryvale Stadium. But because I’m a Brewers fan Goodyear could have had an amazing view of mountains on all sides of the stadium but to the East and then they chose to build it so center field faces East just killed that great opportunity. The rest of the mountain views are still there but are tough to see due to the concourse shaders and the press box suites.

Phoenix Municipal Stadium

Award For Most Comfortable

  • Winner – Salt River Field at Talking Stick (home of Rockies and Diamondbacks):
    This stadium is one of my favorites. Its located in Scottsdale so you know its nice. It’s just outside the Talking Stick Resort so you know its even nicer. Combine that with some of the most gentle sloping and expansive grass seats, lots of room on the large covered concourses, and plenty of patio seating. It just doesn’t get much more comfortable than this stadium.
  • Runner-Up – Surprise Stadium (home of the Royals and Rangers):
    You want large sprawling concourses?! Well, this is the stadium for you. These concourses are lined with great food and beverage tents. Grass seats are extremely comfortable with plenty of room (except for the right field Home Run deck, but it creates a nice backrest for some lucky grass seat viewers). The only drawback from this stadium is that there is very little shade cover for the box seats.
  • Worst – Phoenix Municipal Stadium (A’s Stadium):
    If you are into little league seating or are shorter than 3 feet tall, you will find Municipal Stadium extremely comfortable. If you don’t fit into those categories, then get ready for uncomfortable bleacher seats with no leg room and cozy neighbors. I will say I have had some of my best baseball conversations with strangers and have made more friends at this stadium than any. Basically because you are forced to know whose lap you are sitting on.
Talking Stick Stadium

Talking Stick Stadium

Award For Most Intimate Baseball Experience

  • Winner – Maryvale Park (home of the Brewers):
    Come on you wouldn’t think I wouldn’t toss an award to my homies?! The Brewers stadium is my favorite. Sure the view is less than desired (what a chain link and cement fence isn’t what you want). Sure the grass seats are super steep. But it has the best beer selection and even better is that the fans are almost on the field of play. The grass seats feel like they are the outfield and there is no second deck and very few rows of box seats that every seat is the best seat. This isn’t me playing favorites here, Maryvale Park is probably my favorite stadium to watch a professional baseball game because you feel like you are on the field with the team.
  • Runner-Up – Phoenix Municipal Stadium (A’s Stadium):
    Well what did you expect when I told you this stadium was cozy. Its probably more cozy than Maryvale, and less comfortable, and has no outfield seating. If Phoenix Municipal had the grass seating and had more comfortable infield seats, I would have to argue that this venue could be one of the best stadiums to watch a baseball game. But it will have to take a 2nd place finish in this category until it upgrades its comfort level.
  • Worst – Camelback Stadium (home of the Dodgers and WhiteSox):
    This stadium won the award for largest stadium and its also the nicest stadium in the Cactus league. But, it feels like a real MLB stadium. Meaning, if you aren’t paying the big bucks for the seats close to the field, you might need to bring a pair of binoculars in order to tell who’s playing shortstop.
Maryvale Stadium

Maryvale Stadium

Award For Best Surrounding Area

  • Winner – Scottsdale Stadium (home of the Giants):
    I’ve never been to the physical stadium but I have been to its surrounding area in Scottsdale. Old Town Scottsdale is a quaint little outdoor shopping area about 5-8 blocks west of the stadium. There’s lots of small unique local shops, including one of the best ice cream places. In the same area there is a small park that houses the historical and contemporary art museums of Scottsdale. And if you are up for a 3 block walk to the North is another shopping area called the 5th Avenue Shops. There are also plenty of bars and restaurants around that typically cater to the Giant fans. This entire area has a unique small old town feel and its a great area to enjoy the weather outside before or after a game.
  • Runner-Up – Cubs Park:
    Being the newest stadium, the Cubs were smart to move the stadium to the local shopping plaza in Mesa. It feels like you are going to buy a new car when you are headed to the Cubs park thanks to all the dealers and big box stores. But it offers up a lot to do near the stadium. Bass Pro Shops is just down the street. Toby Keith’s bar is right next to that. There are plenty of other restaurants and bars plus all the mecca big box stores you would need to people watch prior to laughing at Cub fans.
  • Worst – Maryvale Park (home of the Brewers):
    Maryvale is not a pretty area and the park seems to have been built in the local subdivision. Walmart and Walgreens are nearby, but if you want anything else, have fun driving. I will reveal one of my favorite establishments in the nearby strip mall… the Purple Turtle. I know it sounds like a Male Exotic Club. That’s what we thought at first too based on no windows on the building. But its actually a pool hall that also is an OTB site for horse racing. They do cater to Brewer fans in spring training so it doesn’t feel too creepy in the bar at 11 am.
Old Town Scottsdale

Old Town Scottsdale

The Commish’s Overall Rankings For Cactus League Stadiums

  1. Maryvale Stadium – Intimate + Cheap + Best Beer Selection + Sausages + Sausage Races + Roll Out The Barrel = Awesome.
  2. Camelback Stadium – A Spring Training Facility That Rivals MLB Stadiums. Landscaping Is Amazing.
  3. Talking Stick Stadium – Close To Second. Just Missing The Extra ‘WOW’ Factor.
  4. Surprise Stadium – Needs More Shade, But Concourse And Grass Seats Are Near The Best.
  5. Cubs Park – Well Shaded, Large, And New, But Lacking Uniqueness And Located In A Shopping Center.
  6. Diablo Stadium – Lacks Room In OF, Nothing To Do Nearby, Lots Of Bleacher Seating.
  7. Phoenix Municipal – Cheap And Intimate, But Old, No OF Seats, Tight Seating, Hope You Like Bleachers.
  8. Goodyear Ballpark – Located In Middle Of Nowhere, Lacks Uniqueness.
  • N/A – Scottsdale and Peoria Stadiums are unranked due to lack of visiting.

Not Dunn Yet!!

It may be the 80’s for Milwaukee, but Adam Dunn is playing like its not 2011.

Let me remind all of the Adam Dunn owners in the HR derby last season just how bad he was in 2011:

415AB, 11HR, 42RBI, 0.159BA

Now let me remind everyone how good Adam Dunn was in years prior to 2011:

7 straight seasons of 38+ HR and 92+ RBI

I vividly remember sitting at a local watering hole in March talking baseball with a few friends. And I happened to mention that Adam Dunn would be placed in Group B of the Home Run Derby for 2012. I was then spoon fed arguments on why Dunn shouldn’t even be in Group E and how neither of them would pick Dunn if he was forced to be on every HR Derby team this season.

Well, take a look at him now. The Donkey (yes, that’s his nickname) already has more RBI than last season and twice as many Home Runs. In fact, he is now leading the ENTIRE MLB in home runs with 23 as of tonight’s homer. Someone has finally caught Josh Hamilton. And Dunn doesn’t seem to be slowing as he’s on pace for 58 homers and 130+ RBI (both would be career highs).

Adam Dunn is now exhibit A on why no one should hold one season of bad performance against a player. So congratulations to our two HR derby teams who picked the MVP of the Derby this so far this season, The Wet Bats and Touchdown Kings.

Begin Launch Sequence…3…2…1…Lift Off

Be sure to take notes on the swing techniques of these big leaguers to help you prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse.

The month of May is coming to a close and the summer air is warming up. That only means one thing… time to let the baseballs fly. We have already seen that Josh Hamilton, Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, and Adam Dunn (yes, this Adam Dunn) don’t care what temperature the air is. They go big fly year round. But what about the rest of the guys who couldn’t make peace with the home run gods in April. Well, some of them are coming around:

  • Albert Pujols – Every Angels fan at once… 1… 2… 3… *Siiiiiigh*. Well that was a giant sigh of relief. Albert Pujols 2012 != Adam Dunn 2011 (your programming nerd is showing). Pujols had his longest home run drought of his career at 110 at-bats earlier this season. But since he lifted one over the left field fence on May 6th, Pujols’ swing is coming around. In fact, Pujols has the fourth most RBI’s in the majors during the month of May with 24 (second in the AL only behind Josh Hamilton). Even more impressive is that he has hit 7 of his 8 total in the past 15 days. Pujols and all of Angels nation (and Pujols’ HR Derby teams) are thankful that the month of April is behind them. The contract is still outrageous due to it’s length. But in the short term, it appears that the contract is going to work out.
  • Alfonso Soriano – The typical male attitude… you want to drive a nail in one swing, get the biggest hammer. Well, Soriano took that logic to home plate. You want to hit the ball far, bring the biggest bat. So Dave Sveum convinced Soriano’s big ego to switch to a lighter bat. And Soriano went from 0 homers in April to 7 home runs in the past 15 days (same as Pujols). It’s amazing what a smaller hammer can do. Now if that hammer was only worth $18M.
  • Giancarlo Stanton – 122MPH… The top speed of a turbo diesel Mini Cooper D and the speed of a baseball of off a Giancarlo home run. Giancarlo is a beast, a beast who was still in hibernation in April with only 1 homer. But guess who leads Group A in the Home Run Derby at the end of May with 13 dingers, Giancarlo. He also had the 3rd most RBI of the month with 30. His bat seems to be turbo charged and it only took the month of April to spool up. Now, there is only one player who can hit a ball harder than 122MPH and it’s Giancarlo himself.
  • Adam Jones – Age 27… There is an urban legend in Fantasy Baseball that the age 27 is a significant year in a player’s career. That magical age is the year that a player puts up his breakout numbers and usually can be bought at a cheap price in fantasy drafts. Well, Adam Jones is trying to make it a fact. Jones didn’t have a quiet month of April as Pujols, Soriano, and Giancarlo. But, he has caught fire recently (up until he took a pitch off his wrist). He just ended a 20 game hit streak and he leads Group D in the Home Run Derby with 16 total homers. Ten of those 16 coming in May. Enjoy the ride Fightin’ Showalter fans because it may be a bumpy re-entry back to Earth in the later months of the season.
  • Andrew McCutchen – 0 to 8 in 4,492,800 seconds… the amount of time it took McCutch to hit his 8th homer of the year. He starter with 0 in the month of April and Home Run Derby fans were a bit depressed on their Group E choice. But the Bucco’s main source of offense has turned it on in the month of May and is now on pace for 26 homers this season. A very respectable number for a Group E player.
  • Carlos Quentin – Injury Prone, synonym: Carlos Quentin. That’s what I envision the baseball thesaurus saying. Having only played over 100 games 3 times in his career, Quentin has just returned from a 50 game DL stint and has finally taken his place in the heart of the Padres batting order. And nothing says “I’m a part of the team” like going 7 for 12 with 3 homers in 3 games. Yes, Carlos is batting 0.583 with a 2.226 OPS. Those numbers won’t last, but if he is somehow still available in any of your fantasy leagues, go get heeem.
  • Dayan Viciedo – Who? Meet Carlos Quentin’s replacement on the Southside of Chicago. And the switch can’t be going much better. He had 3 homers in April but mashed 8 more in the month of May. He is currently sitting at a 0.291 total BA with 24 RBI in May. He is the hot topic in fantasy baseball and is THE most added player in ESPN fantasy baseball (however, Carlos Quentin will catch him by tomorrow). Just as awesome as his month of May stats is his nickname… Tank.

We now have two months of baseball complete and injuries are starting to compound for some teams. Make sure to check your Home Run Derby team for injuries (or your inbox for injury reminders). Month of May winners will be announced within the week.

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!

Get Me Out To The Baaall Game

Here’s something to read/watch to keep you sane on your nine-hour layover.

So who’s sick of the MLB blackout policy? Probably only a select group of you. Most of said group is probably located in Iowa, Western Illinois, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Oklahoma, or Arkansas. These areas have the most blacked out teams. Take Arkansas and Oklahoma, residents can’t watch games from the Cardinals, Royals, Houston, or Texas. Now if one of those teams have a local network deal, they would have the ability to watch that team. Then you have Iowa, residents here are blacked out from the Twins, Brewers, Cubs, White Sox, Royals, and Cardinals. What does the MLB expect… they want to force Iowans to drive 5-6 hours in any direction to watch a live baseball game? Ridiculous. At least residents can watch the Cubs in their ‘rebuilding’ years on WGN.

One plus (if it can be called that) to being stuck in an area with multiple markets, you get the opportunity to watch the marketing departments duke it out in advertising. It seems obvious that the best marketing departments are these teams in the multiple team markets. Take a look below at some of the Kings of Cork favorites from the 2012 campaign (I think the Cardinals not only won the World Series, but their Marketing Department mopped the floors with the rest of baseball’s marketing).

Those aren’t all of the 2012 MLB commercials but IMO, they are some of the best. But if you disagree, link me to some of the others (from 2012) that you believe should be on this list. We will gladly add them to the list.

Expect The Unexpected – Baseball’s Current Personalities

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

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

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

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

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

Generation HR – Year of the Pitcher is Over

(If you haven’t seen the awful original version of this song, follow the link to Rebecca Black’s Official video)

Generation Z may come after Generation Y, but in baseball, last season was Generation P and this year it seems we may have transitioned into the start of Generation HR.

Twelve teams played on Thursday and the rest of them kicked off there season on Friday, part II of the 2011 MLB Opening Day(s). After only seeing two days of baseball, the Kings of Cork Home Run Derby may be entertaining overload this year as the Majors are on pace to launch 5860 total home runs (only 4612 were hit last season) during the regular season (already 17 home runs in 41 games). I’m a bit late in posting an Opening Day recap but its a celebration weekend (birthday) and we spent a few hours out last night laughing hysterically to a hilarious Josh Blue.

In part I of the 2011 MLB opener, there were SIX games played and there were SIXTEEN long balls. Six of them alone were in the Brewer/Reds season opener which included a Reds 3-run walk-off home run by Ramon Hernandez (#@&^$%!!) and the Brewers led off the day with Back-to-Back dingers by Weeks and Gomez. This was the first time teammates led off a season with Back-to-Backs in 42 years. Other notable home runs on Thursday belonged to Matt Holliday, who hit a solo home run in the 8th to put the Red Birds ahead (only to have Franklin blow the save) then found out he had to have an appendectomy which will sideline him indefinitely, and Jason Heyward, who is now two-for-two on hitting a home run in his first bat of the season and also jacked the first homer of 2011 (which all voters were incorrect on).

It’s Friday, Friday, Gotta get down on Friday. Everybody lookin’ forward to the Weekend…
Part II of Opening Day started with Doc Halladay leaving the game without the lead (only giving up one run), but Philly rallied in the Bottom of the 9th to a Rookie’s walk-off single. Then came the White Sox game. The ChiSox came out doing what they do best… swinging the bat. They opened a 14-0 lead on the Indians only to squandering it and pulling off a 15-10 victory, but not before Adam Dunn became the first player in Group A to hit a home run in 2011. Texas also did what they did best (hitting home runs) and upset Boston’s first game of what is supposed to be ‘The Season’ after their big acquisitions in the off-season. Another power team, the Blue Jays, took to the air with Jose Bautista picking up where he left off. Maybe those 54 homers last year wasn’t a fluke. However, Jose Bats was outdone by one of his own, Rookie JP Arencibia. He jacked 2 long ones to take the official HR lead for 2011 and is on pace for 322 more (no one took him in the HR Derby unfortunately). Two other rookies made a grand entrance on Friday (although for both it was their second game of the year). Brandon Belt of the Giants hit a 3-run home run in their 4-3 loss to the Dodgers and Kila Ka’aihue (phonetically “KEY-lah Kuh-eye-HOO-ah”) added a walk-off solo home run to his short resume. It also gave me excitement that I may have finally picked the right player for the write-in group (but probably not).

After the two-part opening day was finished, the team atop the Home Run Derby standings was the Kettle Poppers who reaped the rewards of Adam Dunn’s only home run in Group A. Don’t fret my home run friends, there are plenty of days left in this marathon (unless you own Holliday, Hart or Sizemore, all of whom are currently on the DL or in the ER.)

Time to go enjoy the Brewers first win of the year with a nice PBR.