Archive for the ‘MLB’ Category

Fave 5: Hope Springs Eternal

April 27, 2016

For the second consecutive year, I went through and highlighted a group of five players that I liked coming into this MLB season.

This wasn’t necessarily based playing ability, star status or sometimes even active status. It was simply a guy I found interesting and found worthwhile to pay attention to. For the second consecutive year, it appears that I’ve given the kiss of death to most of, if not all the guys I’ve highlighted. Last year, I picked Buddy Carlyle, Torii Hunter, Mike Olt, Brandon Morrow and Manny Machado as my five favorite players to watch for the season. With the exception of Manny Machado, who had a breakout season, I owe all of them a fruit basket and an apology card. Carlyle appeared in 11 games with the Mets, posted a 5.63 E.R.A.before being sent to the minors and was released this spring, effectively ending his career. Torii Hunter had a solid season based on traditional numbers, with 22 home runs and 81 RBI, but he posted a negative WAR rating and retired after Minnesota missed the playoffs last season. Mike Olt appeared in a total of 30 games between the 2 Chicago teams, batted .191 with 4 home runs and 5 RBI and has been fighting for a roster spot in baseball purgatory in San Diego. Poor Brandon Morrow started off 2-0 with a 2.73 ERA and looked strong last year. Then he tore up his shoulder and had season ending surgery. He’s currently working his way back through the San Diego minor league system.

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I said “I’m sorry”, Mike!

This season is off to an equally inauspicious beginning for my highlighted players. Now, the very nature of picking out of the ordinary players to watch does carry some risk, since they’re typically out of the ordinary for a reason, but I also don’t pick guys I think are total bums. It’s not any fun watching guys who totally stink, unless it’s blatantly bad baseball and you can treat it like Mystery Science Theater or Sharknado and celebrate the badness. It’s still early, and I haven’t given up yet, so let’s take a look at how my hopeful heroes are doing so far this season. (more…)

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The road oft traveled: The ballad of Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman

April 22, 2016

Every year in Major League Baseball, there is an average of 137 trades made involving 276 players, millions of dollars in salary and occasionally dinners and even broadcasters. Legendary Tigers’ announcer Ernie Harwell was once traded from the Atlanta Crackers to the Brooklyn Dodgers for minor league player/coach Cliff Dapper. My favorite trade of all time happened when Dave Winfield was traded to the Indians for a player to be named later at the trading deadline in 1994. But, two weeks later, before Winfield could play for the Indians, a strike ended the season. Winfield never played for the Indians and a player was never named. To settle the trade, executives from Minnesota and Cleveland decided to go out for dinner and the Indians picked up the check. It’s not often that players get traded for a fancy dinner, but the fact that it happened at all is just one more reason to love the zany game that is professional baseball.

While most trades don’t have long last impacts on the history of the game, every once in a while we have a trade that restructures the fabric of the game. The recent passing of long-time pitcher Milt Pappas prompted me to tell my wife about the Frank Robinson/Milt Pappas trade between the Orioles and Reds in 1965. Reds’ General Manager, Bill Dewitt labeled Robinson “an old 30” and shipped him to Baltimore. They got journeyman pitcher, Milt Pappas in return, and while Pappas was solid, going 30-9 for the Reds, Robinson reshaped the American League. He won the Triple Crown and MVP in 1965, and led the O’s to World Series’ wins in 1965 and 1971 on his way to the MLB Hall of Fame.

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R.I.P. Milt; it’s not your fault.

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Early Returns

April 19, 2016

It’s no secret that our society has the attention span of a juvenile squirrel. We’ve condensed everything down as far as possible. We had Facebook posts and when those got too long, we switched to Twitter and when 140 characters became too much, we switched to Snapchat to get our message out even more quickly. Similarly, we live our lives seeking as much instant gratification as possible. This doesn’t just affect our social (or social media) interaction, it bleeds over into our interests as well. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and all the other ways we have to watch TV has changed how we consume media. We binge watch shows because we can’t stand waiting for another new episode; if the show is currently airing, it drives us absolutely crazy having to wait a WHOLE WEEK to find out what happens. When it comes to the consumption of sports, its common practice to watch a game while simultaneously tweeting your reaction in real-time. It’s not enough to just see the play happen, you want to share your opinion and know the opinion others have of what you just saw. This shift in viewing habits has matched up perfectly with football’s condensed schedule, basketball’s uptempo play and even golf’s shot by shot importance. The one sport that could seemingly left behind is baseball.

 

Between the slow pace, relative lack of scoring and ridiculously long schedule, baseball definitely lends itself to a longer term way of consuming entertainment. In a world built around immediate reactions and judgements, the game preaches patience and dedication. With that being said, it’s still possible to glean some nuggets from what we’ve seen so far and also have some absurdly early reactions. So after two weeks, here are some way too early reactions, as well as my top and bottom 5 teams in the league.

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Baseball; it’s supposed to be fun

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How I’d fix it: The MLB All-Star Weekend

July 13, 2015

I don’t remember who won or lost, and I don’t care.

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Lovable Winners: How the Chicago Cubs went from a punchline to contenders.

May 6, 2015

It’s finally almost next year for Cubs fans.

 

I’m friends with a lot of Cubs fans. Not just one or two scattered throughout my life, but a significant chunk of my social circle. While they come from different backgrounds, they all always had one thing in common: they seemed to enjoy the pain and suffering brought on by their favorite team. This isn’t a secret or some type of revelation, the team is even known as the “Lovable Losers”. However, something strange is happening to the North Siders this year; their team is winning, often in dramatic fashion, and they’re actually enjoying it. (more…)

Baseball 101

April 25, 2015

All my life, I’ve been obsessed with sports. While I’ve also dabbled in reading and music, I always come back to athletic competition. As a kid I was always doing something sports related; whether that meant running the pick and roll with my dad on our backyard hoop, playing one person baseball games in the backyard or even organizing my baseball cards into “teams” to compete with one another, I had a one track mind. With that in mind, sometimes I take it for granted that sports were such a big part of my life and I assume that everyone is as nerdy and sports fluent as I am. The other characteristic I’ve had most of my life is a desire to include and educate others; whether they wanted it or not.
Baseball is a relatively simple sport, but some of the finer points are a bit more complicated. So in order to help anyone who is new to the game, let’s dive right in with the basics. (more…)

What’s in a name? The Negro League Player of the Week

April 22, 2015

I’m a very outspoken supporter of modern athletes. Fans of past players may take exception to the facts, but players today are stronger, faster and generally more skilled up and down the roster in any given league. This isn’t a knock on players of the past; any logical thought leads one to see that players in 50 years will be proportionately better as well. While the players are more skilled than their predecessors, one area where players of the past can more than keep up is in the quality of their nicknames. While there are a few decent nicknames in modern sports (My personal favorite is “White Mamba” for Brian Scalabrine), it seems as though players are too concerned with their image and brand to truly embrace a unique nickname or persona. 
Players in the first half of the century had no such worries, and consequently, had some of the best monikers of all time. “The Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams”, “Hammerin” Hank Aaron and “Say Hey” Willie Mays to name a few, some of my favorite players also happen to have some of my favorite nicknames. While some of the names make sense; Leroy Paige earned his nickname, Satchel, when he was a young boy carrying bags (and satchels) at railroad stations for passengers and William Drake got the nickname “Plunk” thanks to his reputation for pitching high and inside, others carry more mysterious back stories. My personal favorite: Floyd “Jelly Roll” Gardner. I’m not sure what a guy has to do to get the nickname “Jelly Roll”, but I don’t imagine it’s based on his slim waistline or speedy base running. While we may never recreate the glory days of cheesy nicknames, thankfully we have the internet and other written records to keep them alive in our hearts.

This week’s Negro League Player of the Week is Theodore Roosevelt “Double Duty” Radcliffe. (more…)

Shadow Ball

April 16, 2015

There are very few things about which baseball fans can ever agree. We argue over who has the best uniforms , the merits of the DH rule and even which condiments to put on your hot dog at the ball park. (My opinions in order :Chicago Cubs home whites with blue socks, yes to the DH, and traditional yellow mustard). One of the things that makes following sports great is the debates that come from our passion. I’ve always believed that if you don’t feel strongly enough about something to argue for it, you must not really care that much.

With that being said, one thing that cannot be disputed is the impact Jackie Robinson had on baseball and society as a whole. (more…)

The Best and Worst of Chicago… What’s Wrong With The Cubs

August 19, 2011

If you can't even make a McDonald's Start, perhaps retirement is best.

Recently, I’ve decided that I need to see a few more baseball parks throughout the country. While I love Wrigley, I feel like I owe it to myself as a sports fan to branch out and become more well-rounded (I swear that makes sense in my head). Since I’m never going to sit through a baseball game that doesn’t include the Cubs, I decided to take a trip to St. Louis to watch my North-Siders battle our bitter rivals.  (more…)

Playoffs? You wanna talk about playoffs??

January 22, 2010

So, after two long months of absolutely no writing, and with the inspiration of Jim Mora, today seems like the best time to re-introduce myself. (more…)