Tag Archives: Barry Bonds

Adam Jones and the Banana Split

As a Giants fan watching last Sunday’s game between the Baltimore Orioles and the SF Giants, it was something to behold. I mean it was a decent game until the 7th inning and then the Baltimore Orioles remembered why they were there, that they had come to play and were still in the game. In the 9th inning Adam Jones hit a spectacular 3 run homer and it was downhill from there, Orioles winning 10-2. It was just another disappointing game for the Giants and especially for their fans who’ve had to endure late inning come-from-behind wins by their opponents all season. So be it, la dee dah, c’est la vie. That’s baseball.

So Monday morning as I’m reading the commentary and box scores and perusing the sports section I come across an article Adam Jones had tweeted about someone throwing a banana at him in the 9th inning. I’m thinking how juvenile and not very sportsman-like it was, but didn’t give it much more thought. Until the next day. A fellow came forward Monday afternoon after reading the banana article and recognized, to his dismay, the article was about him. Evidently as he was leaving the game in the 9th inning, he grabbed a banana off one of the vendor’s carts and hurled it toward the field, thoroughly disgusted by the Giants performance in the day’s game. It was a pretty stupid thing to do, but I could relate. I felt the same way after watching the game on my telly but, there being no bananas on a cart close by, I decided to watch a movie instead.

Here’s the tweet the illustrious Orioles’ outfielder posted after the game:

“I want to thank whatever slapdick threw that banana towards my direction in CF in the last inning. Way to show ur class u jackass.”

And way to show yours Mr. Jones. Baseball players are generally a classy lot. Whether you agree or not, I’m thinking in particular of Barry Bonds, who endured bottles and cans thrown at him on a regular basis and at least on one occasion, was drenched as a bottle of beer was poured on his head as he chased the ball in left field. The particular play I’m thinking about was televised at Dodger Stadium and he ended up making the catch. But never once did I hear about Barry Bonds complaining of the fans treatment of him. Not once. Not that he shouldn’t have, but he just didn’t. And neither did scores of other ballplayers in similar situations. The Giants organization immediately responded to Mr. Jones tweet with this statement:

“We would like to extend our sincerest apologies to Adam and the entire Orioles organization for this unfortunate incident. The inappropriate actions of this individual in no way reflect the values of our organization and our fans……The Giants have a zero tolerance policy against this type of behavior ….”

I don’t know about you, but it seems obvious to me the fan was being, well, a fan, which is short for fanatic. He shouldn’t have thrown anything onto the field, bad behavior, bad thing to do. Can’t do it. Whether he threw it “at” someone is debatable and I’d like to take him at his word and assume he did not. It just seems to me that everywhere you look people are trying to turn situations into something they’re not. Is it political correctness? Is it racist? Or is it just plain stupidity?

Personally, I’d like to see an apology from Adam Jones for maybe overreacting just a wee little bit. Now that would show some class. How about it Adam? Show a little class.

Baseball Writers ~ Who Cuts the Mustard and Who Cares?

This week the Baseball Writers Association of America has been in the news.  It’s been in the news a lot.   For only the second time in its history the Association has failed to name one eligible baseball player worthy of entering the Hall of Fame.  

So I’m pondering this little ditty thinking about Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens and their alleged partaking of performance enhancing drugs, and thinking about the BBWAA.  Who are these people?  What are their credentials?  Why does it matter what they think?   When I read their membership list I’m surprised that I only recognize a couple dozen or so names.  Most of the names that would have been at the top of my favorite baseball writers list aren’t even listed as members of  this association.  

The primary purpose of the BBWAA  is to assure clubhouse and press-box access, and to elect players to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  That’s it, at least according to Wikipedia.  All writers with 10 years membership in the BBWAA are eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame.   It was founded in 1908 and as far as the baseball world is concerned, the sun rises and sets with this organization, and my question is “why”?

I compiled a list of  a few of my favorite baseball writers and tried to give a reason why, though sometimes it’s not apparent even to me.   These are good writers because what they write makes me want to read more, even after I’ve finished reading their articles.   Note that none of these have BBWAA associated with their names.  They might be a member, but it’s not known to me and honestly I could care less whether they’re a member or not.  

JON STEINER.  I discovered Jon back in April, 2011, while researching a piece I was doing on the Cleveland Indians and the lack of attendance at their beautiful ballpark.   His blog, “Waiting for Next Year” was written like I talk so it was an easy read and I was sorry when it ended.  I don’t know a thing about this guy, just that I’d buy his book if I ever found out he wrote one.   Here’s the April 5, 2011 article that made Jon the ultimate writer in my mind.  “Some Thoughts on the Indians’ Record Setting Attendance.” 

ALEX PAVLOVIC.  I’ve been following this writer for the past several years as he stood in the shadows of Andrew Baggarly at the San Jose Mercury News.  When Baggs left last year to join the ComCast News Group, Alex stepped up big-time.   I like writers who are  up-front, in your face, and don’t try to sugar coat interviews and the news.  You know, just put it out there and let me decide what my opinion is about the subject.   That’s what this guy’s about.  He writes a blog, “Giants Extra“, that I read on a regular basis and always look forward to his meanderings. 

BRYAN O’CONNOR.  My acquaintance with Bryan began when he made some astute comments on one of my blogs a few years ago, so I checked him out and my mind’s still whirling.  His blog is “Replacement Level Baseball” and I’m not sure why he doesn’t write professionally for the main stream media, but goodie for us that he doesn’t.  It gives him more time to overwhelm us with his baseball knowledge.  Warning:  He’s a Bill James sabremetrics fan and goes way over my head on occasion.   But here’s a recent analysis of his personal “Hall of Fame Ballot” vote, if he had one, that was especially entertaining.   

JONATHAN HACOHEN.  But of course Jonathan’s one of my favorite writers.  He was very generous with his review of my book “Garlic Fries and Baseball” and I’ve been reeling ever since.  But before the review I had already subscribed to “MLB Reports” that Jonathan founded in 2010.  He’s been writing baseball for over twenty years and if he had a specialty I’d have to say it was his in-depth interviews, done only as he can do them.  His website is growing leaps and bounds and I rather miss that he doesn’t personally write as often now, but I latch onto whatever he does write as soon as it’s posted to my “Inbox”.  

CRAIG CALCATERRA.   I really hate to admit that I like this guy’s writings so much because, to tell you the truth,  a lot of what he writes irritates the socks off me.   I rarely agree with anything he says.  But it’s the way in which he says it that kind of grabs you, hooks you and draws you in.   Usually when I read one of his articles I find myself running to Wikipedia or other resource material just so I can prove him wrong, which I rarely do, because most of what he writes is opinion as he’s quick to point out.  Craig writes for NBC Sports HardBall Talk  and I guess the reason he’s on my favorite baseball writers list is because, whether we agree or not,  I always look forward to reading whatever little morsel he decides to throw my way for the day.

HENRY SCHULMAN.   Hank Schulman writes “The Splash” for the San Francisco Chronicle.  He’s a full-fledged newspaperman, sports reporter and columnist, with sports jacket and everything.  When he starts off with “I just talked with Bruce Bochy “or whoever it might be that morning, it grabs my attention and I latch on to every word.  He’s that “if it’s written it’s real”  type of writer.   He’s one of those guys you’d most like to have dinner with, have a conversation with.  You know what I mean.  There’s a thousand stories in there somewhere and I’d like to hear them all.  But in the meantime I’m content with reading the morning paper with my morning coffee and telling my hubby, “Guess what Hank Schulman said today?”  My husband gets it. 

Baseball writers each have their own style of writing; some you like and some you don’t.  And that’s okay.   This year the BBWAA decided to make the Hall of Fame vote into a popularity contest and that’s okay too.  I mean if they want to tell us which players cut the mustard and which ones don’t, who the hell cares? 

Really, who cares, because baseball fans have always made up their own mind on this type of thing and, after all, in the court of public opinion, isn’t that what really matters?

UPDATE:  “Get the Media out of the Honoring Business” New York Times 1/15/13   http://bats.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/11/get-the-media-out-of-the-honoring-business/?smid=fb-share

“Melky Who”? Who Needs Him ~ Who Cares.

Melky Cabrera. Photo Courtesy Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

The Melky Cabrera’s 50 game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs occurred on August 15, the day I left for vacation.  I had no access to the internet for three days and wanted to wait until I returned home to figure it all out.  My response was and is “Shame on You Melky!”

I mean haven’t these guys learned anything?  Are they so desperate and stupid that after all the grief baseball players, and for that matter the entire game of baseball, have gone through with PEDS, suspensions and hall of fame concerns,  do they think they’re the one lone infallible soul that won’t get caught?  Good grief.   Major League Baseball took much too long to finally take a stand and, now that they have, the rules are written and they need to be followed.  The thing that really stuck in my craw was the nonchalance with which basically Melky answered, “I did it” and then didn’t have the guts to face his teammates.  Nothing, nada, zilch, not a word.

“Uh…. Duh….”

The San Francisco Giants have had this albatross around their neck for a long time beginning with Barry Bonds (though he’s never admitted it) and several in-between dandies ending with Guillermo Moto’s 100 game suspension that ends this week.  Is Barry Bonds guilty?  Probably.  But at this point does it matter?  Baseball has to get past this and it starts with the players.   It’s called personal responsibility and it’s something that’s sadly lacking in our new- age culture.  Don’t like your boss?  Sue him.  Made a bad investment?  Sue your broker.  Your doctor didn’t quite fix your hangnail the way you wanted?  Sue him.  Nobody takes responsibility for anything anymore.  It’s always somebody else’s fault.  The players are paid huge sums of money to play the game and to play by the rules and it’s their personal responsibility to see that they do.

But here’s the crux of the matter, the redeeming feature of the story.   The SF Giants are doing just fine without Melky Cabrera, thank you very much.  Since his suspension the Giants have won 7 of 10 games and now lead the National League West by 3.5 games.  They were tied with the LA Dodgers when Melky left.  It’s possible Melky might end up winning the batting crown this year, but you know what?  Who cares?  Nobody remembers a batting crown champion ten years down the road, but for sure they’ll remember a 50 game suspension.

So you go Giants!  And that goes for any other team who has to put up with this type of embarrassment.   If you have a player who doesn’t play by the rules, who needs him?   Who cares?  Not this fan ~

Bonds and Steroids ~ Impossible to Defend.

I’d like to talk about the obstruction of justice charge, not just in the Barry Bonds case, but about the charge in general as it’s used in our judicial system.   For example take this hypothetical situation in a court setting:

Question:  “What did you find out?”

Answer:  “I found out I didn’t find out anything.”

Question:  “Oh yah?  How did you find that out?”

Answer:  “I don’t know.”

Evasive answer?  Maybe.  Maybe not.   But after  years of investigation, interviews,  personal vendettas and dumpster diving, the prosecutors in the Barry Bonds perjury trial  ended up with obstruction of justice being the only charge that the jury found fit to find Bonds guilty of.

Our system is seriously flawed folks.  What does obstruction of justice mean?  It sounds to me like it means if, for whatever reason, the jury can’t find the defendant guilty of anything else, they can always charge him with obstruction of justice – meaning the defendant got in the way of a conviction on one or more of the other 75 charges.

Continue reading

One Son’s Baseball Story …

Here’s another Father’s Day post I felt compelled to share.  It’s written by Stephen Jordan,  Managing Editor of Pastime Post, and was a recent winner in a contest sponsored by Bernadette Pasley, Lady at the Bat.   But this one comes with a warning “Grab a Kleenex”!

_______________________________________________________

“My father was not around much when I was a child, sadly enough. Over the years, our constant connection though was always through sports. We could always talk long-distance on the phone, always being physically separated by countless states, about baseball and football. It was the sturdy cement foundation of all of our conversations, and it was the glue that held our relationship together, no matter how strained it truly might have been. 

I will always recall one story more than others: upon reflection it seems to capture a special magic I shared with my two brothers and our father. It was the summer of 2007. 

It was not a perfect relationship that we all shared with Dad. As a kid, personally I had wished Dad could attend some of my baseball games, y’know in Little League and in High School. That never happened. Dad was an alcoholic troubled by his demons. Nonetheless, I do know, however, in my heart and mind how much he loved all of us kids, and the special place he always had in his heart for us kids, and sports. 

Me and my family would always listen with great interest to my youngest brother Scottie, whenever he would share with us his rare and wild sports predictions (only when the spirit struck him so; he would never predict anything unless he “had that feeling”). His curious, unprovoked predictions historically had always turned out to be spot-on correct. So, when he spoke about his premonitions, we all listened. 

My Dad started referring to Scottie as “the Guru” during Barry Bonds homerun race to catch Hank Aaron’s mark of 755 homers. (None of us were every Bonds fans for sure, but we were all sports history buffs, and we did fully realize the magnitude of that moment and the importance of that baseball record.) Scottie scratched his head and threw out a prediction that Bonds would hit homerun number 754 on July 27, 2007. He “felt it.” My Dad laughed and expressed his skepticism. Bonds prior homerun, number 753 was hit nine days earlier.

On the night of July 27, 2007 though, sure enough, Bonds hit homerun number 754, as was predicted by the Guru. Dad seemed to become more interested in Scottie’s predictions. He demanded that Scottie predict when the next Bonds homerun was going to happen. After a little bit of thought, Scottie informed Dad that Bonds would tie Aaron at 755 on August 4, 2007. When making his predictions, he would never say “I believe that . . .” and then state his prediction. Instead, he would always say, “X will happen, on Y date,” as though it were previously written in the stars, or the bible or something. 

True to form, Bonds slugged 755 on August 4, 2007. The prediction came true, again. Dad simply could not believe it! He shouted to his boys, “Wholly Sh–! My boy’s a f—in’ psychic!” “When is Bonds going to pass Aaron?,” Dad asked of the Guru. Scottie scratched his head, then looked up at the sky. “Tuesday.” “Tuesday, August 7th, he’ll get homerun number 756!” My Dad replied, “You’re damn straight I’ll be staying up for that one. No more falling asleep for me on that night. I have to watch history in the making!” Dad was so excited on the phone, stating how it was going to be so great to see. “You can predict it all Scottie! “Bet everything,” Dad had said. “Bet the farm on this!”

Sadly, on the morning of August 7th, me and my siblings received a phone call from the complex Dad was living at in Atlanta, Georgia. The kids all learned that Dad had died that morning. He had lived to only 62 years of age. 

As that painful day slogged along, and the reality of our father’s death slowly settled into our collective minds, me and my family all wondered if that night Bonds would actually hit that 756th homerun. And, as if this were written by some twisted Hollywood scribbler, Bonds indeed hit that record-breaking homerun, on August 7, 2007–the same day my father died, the same day Scottie had predicted the record would be made.
We had sports. We had baseball. It kept us away from all of life’s unpleasantries. We shared that final moment without Dad with us, but he sure was in our hearts that night and thereafter. We cried when it had happened. I can only hope he watched the feat from his eternal seat within the clouds. 

We still love you Dad. We miss you. Happy Father’s Day to you.”

MLB Draft Begins Today ….. What Does it Mean?

Bobby Crocker, Cal Poly, 2011 Draft hopeful

Here’s an article plucked from the maze of blogs this morning I found interesting.  Just being picked first in the draft, or even in the first round for that matter, doesn’t really mean a lot when it comes to measuring the  future success of a major league ball player.  Take a look at this article published this morning by Shawn Anderson,  Hall of Very Good, a favorite blogger we’ve fancied before:

A year ago, the Washington Nationals made Bryce Harper one rich fella by taking the teenager number one overall in the MLB Draft.

Just a year prior…they did the same for Stephen Strasburg.

This year, however, the Nationals don’t have the first pick and, frankly, as deep as you’ve heard the draft is…there is not a clear-cut number one pick.  But let’s not kid each other, being drafted number one doesn’t necessarily mean success.

Consider this. Since the draft started in 1965, it has produced only 23 Hall of Famers.

That said…here are ten other things you might not have known about the Hall of Fame and the MLB Draft. 

510
Hall of Famer second baseman Ryne Sandberg (then, Spokane, Washington third baseman Ryne Sandberg) was taken in the 20th round by the Philadelphia Phillies. Of the 510 players taken before him…fellow Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., World Series hero and Arizona Diamondbacks skipper Kirk Gibson and one of my all-time favorites, Kent Hrbek.

381
In 1966, Reggie Jackson was taken second overall by the Kansas City Athletics. With the first pick, the New York Mets opted to take Steven Chilcott. The catcher from Antelope Valley High School in Lancaster, California bounced around for seven seasons, playing in 331 minor league games, managing a career .248 batting average and 39 home runs. 

19
As previous stated, being drafted first overall might not always guarantee success, but for Cal Ripken Jr., being selected 48th overall was just what the doctor ordered. The “Iron Man” went on to appear in 19 All-Star Games…the most by any Hall of Famer drafted since 1965.

18 years, 6 months and 19 days
After a brief 64 game stint in the minors, 1973’s number three overall pick Robin Yount was six months shy of 19 when he made his debut as the Milwaukee Brewers starting shortstop on April 5, 1974

12
The pride of Alvin, Texas, Nolan Ryan, was selected by the New York Mets in the inaugural draft in 1965. He’d end up compiling more strikeouts than anyone else who ever took the bump (5714) and pitching well past his 46th birthday. 

7
Of the 23 Hall of Famers selected in the MLB Draft, only seven (Carlton Fisk, Reggie Jackson, Paul Molitor, Kirby Puckett, Jim Rice, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount) were taken in the first round. And of those seven selected in the first round all but one was taken in the top ten. Who didn’t go top ten? Rice was taken 15th overall in 1971.

6’6”
At 6’6”, Dave Winfield (selected fourth overall in 1973) is built more like a basketball or football player than a Major Leaguer. Well…following college, Winfield was drafted by four teams in three different sports. Not only did the San Diego Padres select him, but both the Atlanta Hawks (NBA) and the Utah Stars (ABA) selected him. And even though he never played college football, the Minnesota Vikings (NFL) selected the future baseball Hall of Famer.

3
Sure, the MLB Draft has produced 23 Hall of Famers, but, since the draft was implemented in 1965, 26 players have been enshrined. Of those 26…three (Tom Seaver in 1966, Bruce Sutter in 1971 and Roberto Alomar in 1985) were left undrafted. Thankfully, they did find themselves on the receiving end of a free agent contract just after the draft.

3
Since its not a guarantee that winning multiple MVP or Cy Young Awards (I’m looking your way Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens) can ensure you a ticket to Cooperstown, Mike Schmidt and Tom Seaver know that three is enough. Schmidt has more MVP Awards than anyone else drafted since 1965 and Seaver, well, drafted or not, he has more Cy Young Awards.

0
So, yeah, 23 Hall of Famers were taken in the MLB Draft since it began in 1965, but of those 23…did you know that not one was taken number one overall? Reggie Jackson was selected the highest (second overall in 1966) and Ryne Sandberg was selected the lowest (in the 20th round in 1978). So the big question…when will this drought end? It’s pretty safe to say that when Ken Griffey Jr. takes the stage in July of 2016, he’ll be the first number one overall pick to do so. Following in his footsteps will be Chipper Jones. 

The Intentional Walk ….. And “Walk’r” the Chicken!

  “We weren’t trying to walk him; he just wouldn’t swing at any bad pitches.”  -Bobby Cox, on the Braves walking Barry Bonds 7 times in a series

There’s nothing that irks me quite as much as the intentional walk.  I’ve always wondered how the pitchers feel about it.   If  the batter’s a real crackerjack, would they be glad they don’t have to pitch to him or would they welcome the challenge?   If the pitcher is a really good pitcher, and has a lot of confidence in knowing he’s a really good pitcher, wouldn’t you think he’d welcome the chance to get a strikeout, knowing he had the competitive edge?  You know the saying, “Good pitching beats good hitting anytime”.    Personally, if I were a pitcher I think I’d be a little insulted if the manager gave me the signal to walk a batter. I’d think he probably didn’t have enough confidence in me to be able to get the guy out.  But that’s just me.  On February 4, 1956, the  American League announced it would begin testing the automatic intentional walk during spring training.    I don’t know when the National League jumped on the bandwagon, but at some point they definitely did.   Before that time, I guess the pitcher always pitched the ball and the batter swung,  or not, depending on the pitch.  Geez, what a novel idea huh?   I think here in San Francisco we’ve had a belly-full of the stuff and that’s why I’m a little antagonistic on the subject.  Back in 2004, ESPN reported the Giants concessions would start  selling “rubber chickens” , appropriately named Walk’r, to protest the number of walks at AT&T Park.  The chicken was an instant success and the chickens, if necessary, are still evident in the park today.  To illustrate how bad it had become, you might be surprised to know that Barry Bonds today still holds the career record for most “Intentional Bases on Balls” (since 1955)  with a startling 645 intentional walks.   George Brett  is second with 229.   It’s highly unlikely Bonds’ record will be broken anytime soon.   Here’s some statistics on Intentional Bases on Balls Records, provided by Baseball Almanac:  

 
Intentional Bases On Balls Records
Records Only Kept Officially Since 1955
Single Season Records
Record Lg Name(s) Team(s) Data
Most
In A Season
(Top 100)
AL John Olerud Toronto 33 1993
Ted Williams Boston 1957
NL Barry Bonds San Francisco 120 2004
Most
In A Season
By A Lefthander
AL John Olerud Toronto 33 1993
Ted Williams Boston 1956
NL Barry Bonds San Francisco 120 2004
Most
In A Season
By A Righthander
AL Frank Howard Washington 29 1970
Frank Thomas Chicago 1995
NL Albert Pujols St. Louis 44 2009
Most
In A Season
By A Rookie
AL Alvin Davis Seattle 16 1984
NL Willie Montanez Philadelphia 14 1971
Most
In A Season
By A Switch-Hitter
AL Eddie Murray Baltimore 25 1984
NL Tim Raines Montreal 26 1987
Most At Bats
In A Season
No Intentional Walks
AL Kirby Puckett Minnesota 691 1985
NL Jose Reyes New York 696 2005
 
According to Baseball Almanac, the one event in baseball that signifies true respect is the intentional walk with bases loaded.  The implication, I guess, is that the pitcher is showing respect to the batter by walking him instead of pitching to him, out of  fear he might hit the ball.   Personally, I’d  like to see the pitcher, pitch to the batter and strike the socks off  him, or not.  Now that, my friends, would command some real respect, don’t you think?