Category Archives: A1 Baseball

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The Universal DH You Say?

You may have noticed or not that I’ve been away from my blog for awhile, not because I want to, but circumstances just sometimes get in the way.  But in the Wall Street Journal this morning there was an article that made me want to pound the keys again.

Referring to the Designated Hitter, Houston Astros Pitcher Gerrit Cole says this ~  “I don’t want their pitching and their talent to be affected by having to do something they’re really not comfortable doing.”  Well, excuse me, but boo-hoo, grab a binky and get comfortable …… please.    With the MINIMUM salary a MLB Baseball player earns being in the $500,000 Range and taking into account a pitcher only plays once every 4-5 days, if he’s good, it’s hard to sympathize with this DH thing.

Official Rules of Major League Baseball.  1:00 Objectives of the Game.  1:01  1st Sentence.  Baseball is a game between two teams of nine players each  ………. and so it goes.  And so it was from the beginning until 1973 when the American League decided to adopt a new rule, Rule 5.11.  This rule allows teams to have one player, referred to as the Designated Hitter, to bat in place of the Pitcher which obviously means that team will have 10 Players listed on its Roster for that game.  This rule has never been adopted by the National League, even though efforts to force them to do so have been made regularly since 1973.  And this year is no exception.

So, you say, what’s the fuss all about?  Baseball teams play 162 games each year, and the average player plays in most of them.   Compare this to football, basketball, hockey, soccer where games are rarely played back-to-back.   And there’s no time limit in a baseball game compared to these other sports.  A baseball game can last from 2 hours to 5, 6 hours or even longer.   The common inference is that baseball is a slow, lazy game so there’s not the physical exertion required in other sports.  But when you play 4 games in a row, sometimes two in one day, that argument loses some credibility.

Why has there never been an argument for a DC, Designated Catcher?  Can you imagine squatting for 9 innings?  The catcher is probably the most athletic person on the field and most of them are pretty good batters.

My point is this.  The average MLB Pitcher probably pitches maybe 40 games per year?  And he’s only on the field maybe half the time?  These are professional athletes and they should be hired not only for their positions on the field but “especially” for their ability to bat, to hit the ball.   You want to pitch in the Majors?  Then pick up a bat.

Because Baseball is a game between two teams of nine players each.

That’s the game.  That’s what it is.

 

Dodgers & the New York Yankees!

Be honest. Aren’t most of you secretly hoping for a Dodger/Yankee World Series?  After all, baseball is about a whole lot of memories and what better ones to share than those of  Ebbets Field and Yankee Stadium.  I didn’t come of baseball age until the early 1950’s so I may have a tainted view of what constitutes a valid baseball memory, but believe me, the Dodgers and Yankees are right at the top.

The Yankees have won the most World Series in history and it’s not even close.  They’ve won  participated in 40 while their closest contender, the SF Giants (okay New York Giants if you’re an oldie) is second with only 20.  But no matter.  I have different thoughts on who should even be in the playoffs.  Back in those days there was only the American League and the National League.  No Divisions.  That was it.  So the team that won the most games in each league were the Pennant Winners and automatic World Series participants.

And isn’t that the way is should still be?  Good grief.  It’s bad enough having really bad Division Winners being able to compete for the Pennant.  Some teams under .500 can still compete for the Pennant depending on how bad the rest of the division is.  And forget about the Wild Card.  The only possible reason for having that competition is for gate receipts and MONEY.  MLB is good at that.  They’re running unbelievable ads during the playoffs trying to get kids, I mean 8 and 9 year olds, sucked into buying MLB products online.  MLB.com?  That’s what’s happening, reminiscent of Wheaties and Cheerios ads in the old days.  Get ’em while they’re young.  And that merchandise is expensive.  How can the average joe afford to buy this stuff for his kids?

I digress.  The teams with the best records in MLB for any given season should be the Pennant Winners for each League and they alone should advance to the World Series.  And there should be NO INTER-LEAGUE PLAY DURING THE SEASON.  Inter-league play undermines the Divisions.  How can you say the best team in any Division is one or the other if they’re all playing each other during the regular season.  That’s what the World Series is supposed to determine.

So here it is.  The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros – 2017 Pennant Winners.  That’s the way it should be. (Well, actually Houston was one off from the most league wins but they’re there so we’ll leave it alone.)

World Series winner to be determined.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh Those Lowly Dodgers ……..

Baseball Surprises!

Recently, I asked my brother-in-law if he thought the Dodgers would be able to put together 100 wins this season.   It seemed a given, but they’ve lost 9 of their last 10 games and it reminds me of the 2008 season when the first place San Diego Padres lost 10 in a row in the last month of the season to allow the Giants to win the division, and eventually the World Series.

I know.  I get it.  Us Giants fans are supposed to hate the Dodgers so we’re always cheering for their demise, but I’m older and have a different perspective.  Back in the 1950’s when there were only 16 MLB teams, the closest being located in the Midwest, you had to be a Dodger or Yankee fan, but you couldn’t be both.  I was torn because Mickey Mantle was my hero.  But the Dodger’s were generally considered the underdog, so they had to be my team.

When the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers moved West it changed everything.   West Coast fans were of course delighted.  Since I was an Oregonian at the time the closest MLB team was now San Francisco Giants.  And that’s how it’s been since 1958, when I got to watch my first live pro baseball game between the Giants & Dodgers at Seal Stadium.

I may be the only Giants fan who’s delighted in watching  Yasiel Puig, the snot nosed rookie from Cuba, dive in over his head to become a bonafide contender against the odds.  And it wasn’t because he didn’t have the talent, he did.  But his attitude stunk up the place and we generally cheered for his demise. His numbers aren’t all that great even now, but I still pay attention when he’s at bat.  And then there’s Kershaw.  If we could have him and the D’Backs Goldschmidt we could easily be back in the saddle again.   But “what ifs” are for Fantasy players.

So this morning’s Wall Street J0urnal published a great article by Jared Diamond bringing up some memories of the 2001 Mariners and comparing that team to the current Dodgers in their win/loss record.  The semblance is striking and should make the Dodgers a bit nervous about their chances in this year’s playoffs.

After the awful season the Giants have put us through this year, I’m going to root for the Dodgers and hope I can get some sort of satisfaction through them.  I’ll just pretend it’s 1958 and start all over again.

 

Blame it on the Catcher!

Baseball nation is going nuts today over the brawl at the Giants and Nats game.  Actually the disagreement was between Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland after Harper was hit by a pitch thrown by Strickland.  To be perfectly honest here, Bryce Harper has never been one of my favorite ball players.  In fact,  I don’t like much about the guy.  He’s an arrogant hot head that gives baseball a bad name.  Has anyone ever seen the guy crack even the smallest bit of a smile?  Didn’t think so.  But in fairness it sure looked like Strickland threw that pitch with intent to nail him, which I’m pretty sure he did.

But my words here are about the tweets, blogs and overall bad press Buster Posey is getting from his actions behind the plate.  I mean, he didn’t make any effort to step out from behind the plate to help his poor defenseless pitcher who found himself in a real bind as Harper went charging at him like a bull in a china closet.  The ESPN announcers kept bellowing about the fact that the Giants Catcher, Posey, did nothing to help his pitcher out ~ they’d just never seen anything like it, a catcher who didn’t jump in and join the fiasco.

Some thoughts about this, besides the fact Posey’s a leader so probably doesn’t feel a need to jump in the middle of the dogpile:

  1. Anyone who knows anything about baseball will remember the tragic injury Posey suffered a few years back that almost ended his playing career.  He was in rehab for a year trying to scratch and crawl his way back to the game to overcome the injuries he sustained from that incident.  I’m sure he’s been warned not to do anything stupid that might cause a relapse.  Just saying …….
  2. Looking at the play after the fact, it sure looks like Buster was calling for a fastball right down the middle of the plate.  And if a professional pitcher can’t throw one he’s in the wrong business, unless, of course, he was trying to throw the exact pitch he threw.  A little inside you say?  No kidding.
  3. Knowing the history of these two, Harper and Strickland, it’s possible there was a talk in the Giants locker room before the game that no retaliation pitches were to be thrown.  If that’s the case, Buster could easily been thinking, you want it?  You got it.
  4. This retaliation thing is rampant in the Majors.  Don’t believe me?  Just listen to Mike Krukow explain it during some of his color commentating.  It’s a thing to be proud of, according to Mike.  And no respectable pitcher would let an infraction go by without retaliating.

I mean, come on. Harper gets two home runs off Strickland two years ago and this is “pay back”?  Give me a break. Not wise since they’ll probably both get fined and worse, suspended, causing problems not just for themselves, but for the rest of the team.

And tomorrow it’s likely the players will be warned ~ no inside pitches, and/or no hit by a pitch from either side or the pitcher gets ejected.  What pitcher needs to play with that kind of pressure on him?  So even if he accidentally hits a batter, the pitcher gets ejected and the batter takes the base.

Get your smarts in order pitchers.   This is old school stupid stuff and has no place in today’s game.  In my humble opinion, of course.

The First Baseman’s Stretch…….

This has been happening a lot lately.  Almost every game in fact.  The announcer bellows what a fantastic throw the shortstop has made to 1st base to throw someone out.  And it’s usually true.  They have.  And it doesn’t have to be the shortstop.  Could be the 2nd baseman, 3rd baseman catcher.  You get the picture.

But the third time it happened tonight in the Giants vs Padres game I was compelled to grab my camera and take a snapshot of the TV screen.  It was important to me to validate what a fantastic job the 1st Baseman does in catching (more like salvaging) a ball that, without his outstanding athletic ability, would have ended up in the dugout or worse.

 

I call it the First Baseman’s Stretch.  And if you’ll watch for it, you’ll be surprised how often it happens. That’s probably why it’s a really good idea to get a 6’5″, left-handed guy to handle that base.   Even while doing the splits this guy needs the wingspan of a 747 for the reach to make the play.

I just wish the commentators would be more aware of giving credit to the player that’s miraculously avoiding a pulled groin every time he stretches to make that catch while at the same time keeping at least one of his toes on that first base bag.

Above, Michael Morse makes it look easy ….. kinda …..  sort of.

 

 

 

 

Question for You Boche!

Why in the world was Michael Morse warming the bench in the 9th inning Thursday night?  Or in the 10th inning?  We’re getting used to it really, because there’s always some silly reason you know?  Like the DL injuries up the kazoo, just having an off-night, they outplayed us, outpitched us or we just plain stunk up the place.

But Thursday night was different.  Michael Morse was a Giant again, something I’ve been waiting for since the day he left.  So when he suited up at Spring Training this year there was hope.  Hope there wouldn’t be another really, really lousy year like last year.  Because now we really didn’t care if we had a really bad bullpen.  We had a power hitter.  Again.

So the line-up is announced on Opening Day and guess what?  Michael Morse isn’t in it. And it’s okay.  We’re getting used to it, remember?  But Wednesday night was different because he was back wearing a Giants uniform.  Ahhh, still hope.  And he didn’t let us down.

So Thursday night I would have been really anxious with the score tied  bottom of the 9th, but I knew Morse was in the wings and at least this time we had a chance.  It would be okay.  And we waited and waited and …… still waiting.

So I’m wondering why Michael Morse wasn’t called off the bench in the 9th inning. And I’ll bet there are thousands of other fans wondering the same thing.   No big deal. Just curious, that’s all.

 

 

SF Giants – A New Hero Emerges

bum-and-synergaardHow can you explain Madison Bumgarner and his band of buddies marching to the tune of their own drum after such a pitiful showing following the All Star Break?  We knew they were in it because, after all, it is post season and they’ve done it before and in such spectacular fashion.  But how many of us truly expected a shut-out against the Citi-Field warriors Wednesday?  Not me, that’s for sure.

Looking back on this band of misfits in prior years almost every game and every series had a new hero. Most memorable for me was Sandoval’s three home runs in one game against the unhittable Justin Verlander in a World Series Game 1.   And the entire Giants team when they forced the vocal Rangers pitcher, Cliff Lee, to the bench and out of the game before the 4th inning in World Series play, back in 2010.

conor-gillaspieLast night a most unlikely hero found his way to the spotlight with a 3 run homer in the top of the 9th.  Without that hit who knows how long that game would have gone on?  Remember the 18 innings against the Nats in the 2014 NLDS?  We could have seen that last night.  Not likely, but possible.  Syndergaard had already taken the bench and Bum was headed there, but ’twas not to be.   Conor  Gillaspie, tied at $507,500, for the lowest paid man on the roster, became a hero in postseason play, alongside the legend of legends Madison Bumgarnerwhen he smacked his home run out of the park for the only score of the game.

Rough road ahead you say?  But of course.  How could it be anything else?  Chicago Cubs on the horizon?  Who cares?  This is post season and it’s the Giants and it’s an “even” year.

bochy-citifieldHow can you help but love this Giants team?  Best team in MLB the first half of the season and close to the worst the 2nd half.

It’s the stuff baseball’s made of and no one embraces it better than the San Francisco Giants.  Let the torture begin!

 

 

SAY “NO” TO RYAN BRAUN ….

Ryan Braun Speaking at a Press Conference after his Appeal was upheld.

Ryan Braun Speaking at a Press Conference after his Appeal was upheld.

It’s not that he did the Peds …. it’s that he lied about it so very eloquently. He lied so well he should have been awarded the outstanding Thespian award of the decade.

I was totally taken in after that “poor little old me” speech ~ brought tears to my eyes.  How could they possibly say those awful things about him? Must be a conspiracy.  Poor dear.  See my proud post here.  The Brewers’ Braun and Those Whinging Critics” published May 1, 2012

So much for blind faith huh?

After he admitted he lied, I wondered then and will always wonder, what the hell else does he lie about?  Who is this guy? We have a great group of guys in the Giants organization who support each other and stick together.  We don’t need a Ryan Braun.  It’s a lot about trust, you know? And we’ve done fine with our home grown talent. Let’s stick with them and let the chips fall where they may.

Hang in there Hunter Pence.  Were waiting for you!

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Memorial Day ~ Remembering our Heroes.

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Nothing New about the “New Slide Rule”.

The basic premise of this rule has always been in effect.  They just didn’t use it.  It was always up to the umpires, but rather than getting out of their comfort zone, they chose to ignore it.  Really, just the name “Takeout Slides” defines the action.   It doesn’t always have to do with Chinese food or pizza.   Takeout in this context meaning;  “To cause to die; kill or destroy”.

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“I’m Thinking, I’m Thinking”

I don’t know.  I’m just saying the umpire is supposed to have total charge of the game.  In the Buster Posey-Darrell Cousins home plate slide, the umpire, who was standing directly over the play at the time it happened, even had the gall to rule the runner safe (which he was not).  Replay photos showed that Cousins plowed out of the baseline directly at Posey, who was standing out of the baseline and not on home plate, attempting to dislodge the ball from Posey, who never had the ball in the first place.  Posey was injured and out for the rest of the season, and this game was in April so it was a big deal!

This happened a lot.  Sure would be nice if some of these umpires would have stepped up to the plate (no pun intended) and said something like “No More! This ain’t gonna happen on my watch,” like the NFL did when they made it illegal to spear with their helmets, with no intentional blows to the head.

And now they’re calling it the Chase Utley Rule.  Yah – let’s keep Utley’s name alive and well for the glorious honor of breaking a guy’s leg with an illegal play. How about naming it the  “Ruben Tejada Rule, Marco Scutaro, Buster Posey, Ray Fosse  or the Willie Randolph Rule for the injured player instead of naming it for the guy who intentionally and maliciously attacked and injured a fellow ballplayer who was just trying to do his job?

The rule’s always been there.  The only thing that’s changed is the  instant replay part and a penalty that the runner and hitter are both out.  Here’s an idea!  Let’s leave the penalty in and add another …. like, automatically throwing the perpetrator out of the game.  Twice, and he’s out for the rest of the season.

scales of justiceBack in 2006, the Supreme Court of California ruled that baseball players in California  assume the risk of being hit by baseballs, even if the balls were intentionally thrown so as to cause injury.  The powers-that-be over at Major League Baseball must not have heard about this one, or we’d have to wait for another broken leg or two to get some action.

While writing this, I borrowed some excerpts from my post back  in February, 2014, “Revisiting the Posey Play – OR – Getting the Umpire out of his Comfort Zone.”   

 

 

“BACK TO BASEBALL!”

BACK TO BASEBALL SPRIG EDITION

Here’s something new from our Sounds of Baseball partner.  It was  contributed by Alan Babbitt.  Just in time for spring training, the song evokes the sublime feelings of the sights, sounds and feelings of childhood baseball memories. And, like Alan says, “Kinda gets you hankering for a good hot dog”.

 

To whet your appetite, here’s what he says about the original “Back to Baseball”:

“This song tells the true story of a boy growing up in Brooklyn in the 1950’s. It’s about the joy of 1st love and the heartbreak of losing it. And it’s about reflection, renewal and redemption. It’s even got a humorous, surprise ending!

Oh, yeah, it’s also about Baseball.”

Want more?  Go to Alan’s website:  https://alanbabbittmusic.bandcamp.com/track/back-to-baseball

Broken Bats, Barry Bonds and The Easy Way Out.

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John Bowker, Giants vs Cardinals, April 18, 2008.

It takes a lot to get me back into blogging mode these days.  And it’s not because I don’t want to but, like everyone else, I’m busy.  So when I read an article in this morning’s Wall Street Journal I couldn’t contain myself.

The article was written by Jo Craven McGinty,  “Behind Broken Baseball Bats, Broken Records.”  Blame Barry, she says, and that got my attention.  Evidently the year that Bonds hit his record 73 home runs, he was using a maple wood bat, unlike the ash bats that were commonplace in the majors at the time.

Today the use of maple wood bats has increased to nearly 75% of all bats used in broken bat 2the major leagues.  There’s controversy about whether maple vs ash bats contribute to more home runs.    The problem is that maple is more likely to split into multiple pieces when it breaks, while ash “flakes”.   In other words, it can hurt people.  Like it did on June 5 at Fenway Park, when it smashed into the stands and into the face of a fan.

Kurt Ainsworth, Marucci Sports, puts it this way.  “When you have future Hall of Famers putting up crazy numbers, it’s hard for MLB to take those bats out of their hands.”  Really.  Is that what it means?  You mean Barry Bonds record home runs was due to his “bat” and had nothing to do with steroids?   According to Lloyd Smith, Director of the Sports Science Lab at Washington State University, “The speed of the ball coming off maple is no different from the speed of the ball coming off ash.”

But here’s the kicker.  According to McGinty’s article, which also deals with the diameter, density and slope of grain of the bats, regulations have reduced the number of broken bats.  “Since 2013 the minimum density of the barrel of the bat is 0.0245 pounds per cubic inch.  The Regulations have reduced the number of broken bats.”  But, as she notes, there are exceptions to the rules:

“Players who used low-density bats before the rules took effect are grandfathered in and at least 15% of maple bats used in MLB today have densities below 0.0245.”

Are you kidding me?  If there’s any substance to this regulation at all, why would you take the easy way out and let any of the players keep using the maple bats?

I’ll bet money on the fact someone out there has the answer.  And I hope it’s not because the guys who are hitting the homers are the ones who are still using those bats and drawing the fans through the gates.  I mean it can’t always be about the money, can it?