Monday, December 23, 2013

One of Baseball's Best Known Rants

This past week Southern Illinois mens basketball coach Barry Hinson went on a rant following their loss to Murray State.  During his little tirade to the media, Hinson said he had a bunch of "mama's boys" on the team and his wife could make more baskets than his team.
This rant brings back memories of Allen Iverson's "practice", Jim Mora's "playoffs" and Herm Edwards' "We play to win the game" among others.  Baseball, of course, is not immune to post game rants to the media.  One of the most famous ones is authored by former Dodger manager Tom Lasorda in 1978.
Lasorda was asked of Cubs' Dave Kingman's performance against him that day.  Kingman only hit three home runs with eight RBIs.  You can hear the tirade here:

**warning: Not safe at work and parental discretion advised due to language


Saturday, December 14, 2013

A "Royal" Inspiration For A Hit Song

One of the top singles currently is "Royals" by New Zealand teenager Lorde.  Here is the song if you are not familiar with it:

During an interview , Lorde explains that part of the inspiration behind the song is a photo from an old National Geographic of a baseball player in a Kansas City Royals uniform signing baseballs for a group fans.  She later explained that she took the word, "royal", and used as a theme of aristocracy for the song.
Here is the photo that inspired the hit song:

The photo, of course, is of Hall of Famer George Brett.  I guess we could add one more hit to his career total.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Card of Week: 1981 Topps Kirk Gibson

I am going to show off some of my Spartan pride and mention that MSU is Rose Bowl bound and Big Ten Champions.

1981 Topps
One of the stars of a past MSU Big Ten title team is Kirk Gibson.  Gibson was an All American wide receiver of the 1978 team.   MSU did not play in the Rose Bowl because they had to sit it out due to being on probation from the NCAA.
Gibson ended up being drafted in seventh round in the NFL draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.  He fell in the draft mostly because of his baseball career.  He played one year of baseball where he hit .390 16 home runs and 52 RBIs in 48 games.  He was drafted in the first round by Detroit Tigers and had a fine MLB career winning two World Series titles.
His son, Cam, is a current member of MSU's baseball team. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

All Time Red Sox/Yankees Players

With free agent outfielder and former Red Sox Jacoby Ellsbury signing with the Yankees on Tuesday, it got me thinking of other players who played for both franchises.  It is not a rarity.  There has been more than 300 players who played for both sides of this heated rivalry.
Here is a position by position look at these players.  I included Babe Ruth as an outfielder because he spent most of career as an outfielder and there are fewer outfielders than pitchers.  Also, the middle infield is very weak compared to the rest. I picked one in each to fill out the roster and they were chosen only because they were starters on pennant winners.
Babe Ruth (Bos 1914-1919, NY(1920-34)
Rickey Henderson (NY 1985-89, Bos 2002)
Johnny Damon (Bos 2002-05, NY(2006-09)
Jackie Jensen (NY 1950-52 Bos 54-61): World Series Champ w/ NY and AL MVP w/ BOS
Duffy Lewis (Bos 1910-17 NY 1919-20):  Babe Ruth wasnt the only star sold from Bos to NY that began the curse.

3rd Base:
Wade Boggs (Bos 1982-92 NY 1993-97)
Mike Lowell (NY 1998 Bos 2006-10)
Kevin Youkilis (Bos 2004-12 NY 2013)
Spike Owen (Bos 1986-88 NY 1993)
Second Base:
Mark Bellhorn (Bos 2004-05 NY 2005)
First Base:
George Scott (Bos 1967-71, 77-79  NY 1979)
Doug Mientkiewicz (Bos 2004 NY 2007): famously caught the last out that ended the curse and later played for NY
Elston Howard (NY 1955-1967 Bos 1967-68)
Don Baylor (NY 1983-85 NY 1986-87)
Jose Canseco (Bos 1995-96 NY 2000)

Starting Pitchers:
Hall of Famers:
Red Ruffing (Bos 1924-30 NY 30-46)
Jack Chesbro (NY 1903-09 Bos 1909): NY was known as the Higlanders during his days
Waite Hoyt (Bos 1919-20 NY 1921-30)
Herb Pennock (Bos 1915-22 NY 1923-33)
other starters of note:
Roger Clemens (Bos 1984-1996 NY 1999-2003, 2007)
Luis Tiant  (Bos 1971-78 NY 1979-1980)
Wes Ferrell (Bos 1934-37 NY 1938-39)
Bob Turley (NY 1955-62 Bos 1963)
David Cone (NY 1995-2000 Bos 2001)
Derek Lowe (Bos 1997-2004 NY 2012)
David Wells (NY 1997-98, 2002-03 Bos 2005-06)

Sparky Lyle (Bos 1967-71 NY 1972-78)
Lee Smith (Bos 1988-90 NY 1993)
Tom Gordon (Bos 1996-99 NY 2004-05)

Ralph Houk (NY 1961-63,  66-73 Bos 1981-84)
Don Zimmer (Bos 1976-80) NY bench coach 1996-2003)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Card of Week: 2005 Helmar's Turkey Stearnes

2005 Helmar's

Thomas "Turkey" Stearnes was outfielder in the Negro Leagues from 1920-40, most notably with the Detroit Stars.  He got his nickname from his running style, but it did not hurt him in becoming one of the best hitters in Negro League history.   He lead the league in home runs for seven seasons while still maintaining high batting average.  Stearnes was not just great hitter, he was a very good in the field and known to have a solid throwing arm.  He participated in five Negro League All Star games and was finally recognized by being inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.

Helmar Brewing Company released a regional card set in the summer of 2005.  They were packaged in three card packs and placed in their line of potato chips in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  The set included former players of MLB, Negro Leagues, Japanese and the barnstorming House of David team along with some pro boxers.
A few other notes about the tobacco styled trading cards is that they are very thick and prone to chipping.  So finding them in mint condition is quite difficult.  It was also difficult completing the set from the individual packs.  They were terribly collated as getting duplicates often was quite common.  2005 was the only year Helmar's released cards via packs.  The subsequent three years, they were released in only in set form.  Here is more information about the 2005 set and the checklist for it.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

More Songs About Stars

Catfish Hunter isn't the only Hall of Fame baseball player to have a song written about him:
Here is "Did You See Jackie Hit That Ball" by Count Basie:

"Joltin Joe Dimaggio"  by Les Brown:

Say Hey(the Willie Mays song) by The Treniers:

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Did you know.....?

Sunday night is the American Music Awards and I decided to combine music and baseball with this post.  Give you a fun fact about a legend in each that are linked.
Did you know that music icon Bob Dylan once wrote a song about Hall of Fame pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter?
Hunter was the ace of the pitching staffs for both the Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees in the late 1960s and 1970s.  He won multiple World Series titles for both franchises.
The song was originally written for Dylan's 1976 album Desire, but was released on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare and Unreleased, 1961-1991).
Here is a link of the song on Bob Dylan's official website.  Joe Cocker did a cover of it and released it on his 1976 album Stringray. Here is Cocker version:

Friday, November 22, 2013

Omar Vizquel...En Espanol y Ingles

Omar Vizquel is the new first base coach for the Detroit Tigers.  He also will be coaching base running and infield.  How much better will Jose Iglesias will be with Vizquel as his personal tutor?

Here is a highlight video of Omar Vizquel from his playing days.  To me, he and Ozzie Smith are the two greatest defensive shortstops ever.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Fielder/Kinsler Trade Analysis

The Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers pulled off a rare one for one trade of stars on Wednesday.  It looks like it will be a trade that will benefit both parties.  Prince Fielder who is 29 years old and owed $168 million dollars through 2020 and plus cash was dealt for second baseman Ian Kinsler(31 years old and just completed his first season of a 5 yr/$75 million dollar contract).
2013 Topps Heritage
For the Texas Rangers, it gives a big bat in the middle of the lineup that they desperately need.  Fielder, even though is one of the top sluggers in MLB, seem to never totally mesh in Detroit.  He gets some pressure taken off of him and is in a much friendlier power hitting ballpark.  I would not be surprised that Fielder flirts with the 50 home run mark next season.
By moving Kinsler, it opens up second base for Jurickson Profar, who has shown he is ready to be an everyday big leaguer.  I also think Texas is not done in terms of looking for another bat.
2012 Topps Opening Day

As for Detroit, I believe it is a bit of a bigger win.  It is a disappointment that one of Detroit's favorite sons never really fulfilled his potential in Motown, but the deal gives the Tigers more flexibility all over.
On the field, Kinsler is a hitter who could leadoff and steal some bases.  He does have some pop also in his bat.  It gives new Manager Brad Ausmus another option to Austin Jackson for leadoff guy.  It will give him more opportunity to create runs via hit and run and advancing bases much more than Fielder.  Which is a big advantage for post season ball.
Off the field, the moves frees up a ton of money for Detroit. They could use that extra dollars in attempting to resign Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and extend Miguel Cabrera contract that concludes at the end of 2015 season.  Fielder's contract is so huge, it could have been an albatross if they tried to deal him down the road.  Kinsler's on the otherhand is much more trader friendly if they chose that route in the future.
The negative for Detroit in this trade is that it leads a big void behind Miguel Cabrera in the lineup.  Which brings me to my last point.  I truly believe that Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski is not done this off season. He will be looking for another bat.  This deal gives him more flexibility here.  Instead of going just for an outfielder with Cabrera stuck at third and Fielder at first base, he will have much more options.  He can either find an outfielder, move Nick Castellanos to third and Cabrera to First.  He can move Cabrera to first and acquire a third baseman or leave Castellenos and Cabrera and find a first baseman. There is also a possibility that DH Victor Martinez could play some first base also.   Dombrowski will have a much bigger pool of talent in finding another hitter.  This player position flexibiliy will also be beneficial in National League parks for getting the best bats in the lineup on a more consistent basis.
This trade seems to be a win/win for both clubs on paper, but time will tell in how it plays on the field

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Card of Week: 1986 Topps Traded Wally Joyner

Wally Joyner was named as the Detroit Tigers new hitting coach earlier this week.  If you are not familiar with Joyner, he was a rookie sensation with the California Angels in 1986 and had a solid career beyond.
1986 Topps Traded
He broke onto the MLB scene as the first baseman in 1986 for California.  His hot start that helped him become the first rookie ever elected to start an All Star game lead to fan craze known as "Wally World".  He ended his season with a .290 avg with 22 home runs and 100 RBIs and helped lead the Angels to the divisional title.  Joyner also finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting behind Oakland's Jose Canseco.
He had another very solid year the following year, but after the 1987 season his power numbers dropped off and subsequently got overshadowed by the bigger sluggers of the time.
During his latter part of his career, Joyner was the first baseman for the Padres 1998 pennant winning season.  Also while in San Diego, as his numbers started to really declined and felt the pressures, he inquired about steroid use.  After obtaining some from teammate Ken Caminiti, he took a 2-3 pills, but his conscience took over and flushed the rest down the toilet. I personally respect him for making the right decision at the end.
He ended his career back with the Angels in 2001 and finished his career with 204 HRs, 1,106 RBIs and a .289 average.
And here is funny video of him and White Sox Steve Lyons breaking up the monotony of a long baseball season:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hot Stove Preview

Now that the awards all have been handed out, the hot stove league is now in full swing.  I am going to give you my thoughts going into the off season.  No predictions, just some names that are available, trends and other factors to consider and think about as players are mentioned throughout the winter.

Major League Baseball is currently doing very well business wise.  Attendance was the sixth best in history with a total of almost 75,000,000.  There are more teams competing and making the playoffs -seven out of top ten teams with highest payrolls didn't make the playoffs last year.  Plus, the new television deal kicks in for the 2014 season, so every team will have more money to throw around this winter.
2013 Topps Heritage
Who is going to get this money?  The biggest name in free agency is Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano.  He is asking for a ton of money and will likely get the biggest contract this winter.  Yankees seem destined to resign him.  Speaking of Yankees, they have a lot of holes to fill.  Starters, closer?, outfielder, a catcher, will Jeter be healthy in 2014? and about ARod?  Yankees don't know how much  money is available until his appeal of suspension is determined. If his suspension is upheld, ARod's contract is off the books, but otherwise New York will have to pay the $20+ contract that is owed to him.

Most of the free agents available are veterans who are past or leaving their prime years or coming off injuries.  Teams are hesitant to sign a player who is in early 30s to a long term deal, so you might see shorter deals at higher dollars.
If you watched the baseball playoffs this past month, you probably noticed that pitching dominated and the lack of power hitters.  These are the two areas the general managers are coveting the most this winter.   Home run numbers are down to where they were in the 70s and early 80s. and there isn't a lot in the market.  Outfielders Nelson Cruz, Carlos Beltran and Curtis Granderson, catchers Brian McCann and A.J. Pierzynski and first baseman Mike Napoli will be mentioned the most.  Leadoff batters Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin Soo Choo will also be highly sought after.

2007 Calbee
As for pitching, there is no real aces available.  The top starters are veterans Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, Bartolo Colon, Hiroki Kuroda and Bronson Arroyo.  Some solid starters, but none are top of the rotation guys.   The best available starter in free agency could be a Japanese import, Masahiro Tanaka.  The 25 year old righty finished the regular season 24-0 record.  He is not considered as good as fellow Japanese import Yu Darvish, but is thought to be a number 2 or 3 guy in a rotation.  His stuff is comparable to Kuroda and will be seven years younger than Kuroda at the time of their respected MLB rookie seasons.  One thing to watch for here is that MLB and Japan's NPB are negotiating new posting policies for Japanese players who want to join MLB. If no deal can be worked out, Tanaka will have stay in Japan.
Available relievers are lead by Joe Nathan.  Nathan has been very consistent throughout his career. The 38 year old closer is actually the all time leader in converting saves in terms of percentage.  Other closers available are Fernando Rodney, Brian Wilson and Grant Balfour.  We might see some setup men get deals just as good as the closers as all pitching is such a premium now, no matter if it is for beginning, middle or end of games.

Why very little amount of youth available in free agency?  It's because teams are locking up their young stars to long term deals years before they become eligible for free agency or arbitration.  If a team wants to get younger or fill a void during the winter, they would have to do it via trade.  With the lack of headline free agents on the market each year, we might see more blockbuster trades in the future.  The names mentioned the most this winter are starters Max Scherzer of Detroit and David Price of Tampa.  Texas could trade also trade one of their middle infielders Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus or even Jurickson Profar in trying to fill a need.  Teams are willing to trade these stars because either they are looking to lower payroll or get a return in investment instead of getting close to nothing when the players go elsewhere in free agency.

I hope I gave you some things to keep in mind when your favorite team or players are mentioned during the hot stove league.  Good luck to your teams this winter as we all looking forward to Spring Training. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Card of the Week: Dave Winfield 1991 Topps Desert Shield

For Veteran's Day, I will talk about one of the more unique baseball sets that has a link to the military.   During the early parts of 1991, Operation Desert Shield (and later Desert Storm) was in force.  Topps baseball card company issued in addition to its 1991 set, a special marked set just for the military stationed in the Middle East.  The set consists of 792 cards and parallels the regular set.  The only difference is the Desert Shield stamp on the front.

They were distributed in packs like here in USA and given out to the military.  Many, of course, were damaged or lost before ever making back to the states.  No one officially knows how many are currently on the market.
Couple interesting notes about the set.  One is that the stars of baseball is bit easier to find because the collectors in the military wanted to keep them for themselves or used for resale.  The commons or regular players were often tossed away.  Also, for anyone who is interested in any of these cards, there are forgeries on the market.  Buyer beware!
The above Dave Winfield is the only I have of the set. I bought it off Ebay a while back, so I can say I have one. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

100 Greatest Players of All Time

For my 100th post here, I will name my 100 greatest players of all time. I tried to put them in the best order as I can, but it is all speculation and guessing.  I did include the players accused and admitted of steroid use, but they get knocked down on the list. I also included former Negro Leaguers and current players.  For the active guys, I only consider what they have accomplished, no projections as we can not predict the future. 

In considering each player, I take account not only his stats, but his overall play(fielding, baserunning, etc), individual awards, team championships and overall impact on the game. So  a catcher or good fielding outfielder will take precedence over a slugger like a Harmon Killebrew or Ralph Kiner.

Couple notes on some individual players, I included Alex Rodriguez. I don't how much of his stats and accomplishments are steroid aided and how much is legit. Plus, he is a rather poor teammate.  But his stats are so overwhelming, I had to include him.  Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmiero are not included because the legacies are dependent mostly just on individual statistics.  Manny Ramirez was more of a clutch post season player than the above, but he didn't do much more than being a great hitter. So, he is off the list also.
Mariano Rivera is my only closer.  All things considered equal I will take a starter over a closer.  I believe they are overall better pitchers.  Rivera is the best of all time and has been phenomenal in his career including post season, I had to include him also.
And here is the list:

100.  Alex_Rodriguez
99.  Mariano_Rivera
98. Ryne Sandberg
97. Robin_Yount
96. Tom_Glavine
95. Wade_Boggs
94. Dave_Winfield
93. Charlie_Gehringer
92. Ralph Kiner
91. Goose_Goslin
90. Ferguson_Jenkins
89. Ozzie_Smith
88. Kirby_Puckett
87. Miguel Cabrera
86. Albert_Pujols
85. Eddie_Plank
84. Dizzy_Dean
83. Sam_Crawford
82. Harmon_Killebrew
81. Ed_Walsh
80. Willie_Stargell
79. Brooks_Robinson
78. Paul_Waner
77. Joe_Medwick
76. Cal_Ripken,_Jr.
75. Eddie_Murray
74. Ichiro Suzuki
73. Willie_Keeler
72. Al_Kaline
71. Juan_Marichal
70. Pie_Traynor
69. Carl_Yastrzemski
68. Pedro Martinez
67. Oscar_Charleston
66. James "Cool_Papa" Bell
65. Mickey Cochrane
64. Jim_Palmer
63. Eddie_Mathews
62. Randy_Johnson
61. Rod_Carew
60. Joe_Morgan
59. Bill_Terry
58. Harry_Heilmann
57. Lou_Brock
56.  Bill_Dickey
55. Willie_McCovey
54. George_Brett
53. Roger_Clemens
52. Whitey_Ford
51. Barry_Bonds
50. Roy_Campanella
49. Tony_Gwynn
48. Reggie_Jackson
47. Buck_Leonard
46. Mel_Ott
45. Carl_Hubbell
44. Jackie_Robinson
43. Al_Simmons
42. Ken_Griffey_Jr
41. Nolan_Ryan
40. Ernie_Banks
39. Greg_Maddux
38. Yogi_Berra
37. Shoeless_Joe_Jackson
36. Bob_Feller
35. Hank_Greenberg
34. George_Sisler
33. Tom_Seaver
32. Rickey_Henderson
31. Bob_Gibson
30. Steve_Carlton
29. Nap_Lajoie
28. Mike_Schmidt
27. Tris_Speaker
26. Sandy_Koufax
25. Eddie_Collins
24. Pete_Rose
23. Lefty_Grove
22. Warren_Spahn
21. Frank_Robinson
20. Roberto_Clemente
19. Satchel_Paige
18. Josh_Gibson
17. Joe_DiMaggio
16. Johnny_Bench
15. Jimmie_Foxx
14. Cy_Young
13. Honus_Wagner
12. Grover_Cleveland_Alexander
11. Mickey_Mantle
10. Stan_Musial
9. Rogers_Hornsby
8. Ted_Williams
7. Christy_Mathewson
6. Lou_Gehrig
5. Walter_Johnson
4. Hank_Aaron
3. Ty_Cobb
2. Willie_Mays
1. Babe_Ruth

Why Babe Ruth #1?  Basically because, he was so much better than others in his era. He actually out homered teams for a full season.  He also was so hugely popular among fans and is considered help save the gave after the Black Sox Scandal of 1919.  But, the biggest attribute of Ruth is that prior to being the great home run hitter, he was a very good pitcher. No other player on the list can say that.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Award Winning Predictions

Here are my predictions for the three major awards for each league.
National League Rookie of the Year:
The three finalists are: Jose Fernandez of the Marlins(12-6 record, 187 Ks, 2.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP)
Yasiel Puig of Dodgers(.319 AVG 19 HR 42 RBI .391 OBP .534 SLG)
Shelby Miller of Cardinals(15-9 record, 169 Ks, 3.06 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)
winner: Jose Fernandez

American League Rookie of the Year:
Chris Archer of Rays (9-7 record, 101 Ks, 3.22 ERA, 1.13 ERA)
Jose Iglesias of Tigers (.303 AVG 3 HR 29 RBI, .349 OBP .386 SLG)
Wil Myers of Rays (.293 AVG 13 HR 53 RBI . 354 OBP ..478 SLG)
winner: Wil Myers

NL Cy Young:\
Jose Fernandez of Marlins(12-6 record, 187 Ks, 2.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP)
Clayton Kershaw of Dodgers(16-9 record, 232 Ks, 1.83 ERA 0.92 WHIP)
Adam Wainwright of Cardinals (19-9 record, 219 Ks, 2.94 ERA 1.07 WHIP)
winner: Clayton Kershaw

AL Cy Young:
Yu Darvish of Rangers (13-9 record, 277 Ks, 2.83 ERA, 1.07 WHIP)
Hisashi Iwakuma of Mariners (14-6 record, 185 Ks, 2.66 ERA. 1.01 WHIP)
Max Scherzer of Tigers (21-3 record, 240 Ks, 2.90 ERA, 0.97 WHIP)
winner: Max Scherzer

Paul Goldschmidt of Diamondbacks (.302 AVG 36 HRs 125 RBIs .401 OBP .551 SLG)
Andrew McCutchen of Pirates (.317 AVG 21 HR 84 RBI .404 OBP .508 SLG)
Yadier Molina of Cardinals (.319 AVG 12 HR 80 RBI .359 OBP .477 SLG)
winner: Yadier Molina ...very close over McCutchen

Miguel Cabrera of Tigers (.348 AVG 44 HR 137 RBI .442 OBP .636 SLG)
Chris Davis of Orioles (.286 AVG 53 HR 138 RBI .370 OBP ..634 SLG)
Mike Trout of Angels (.323 AVG 27 HR 97 RBI .432 OBP  .557 SLG 33 SB)
winner : Miguel Cabrera

Monday, November 4, 2013

Card of the Week: Tug McGraw 1983 Topps

This week's card of the week is one of former closer of the Mets and Phillies, Tug McGraw. 
1983 Topps

McGraw was a part of World Series championships for the Miracle Mets of 1969 and the Phillies of 1980.   He also a key figure of the 1973 Mets' pennant winning season.  He coined the phrase, "Ya gotta believe", that became the team's rallying cry for the season.
Of course being a typical relief pitcher, he was a bit eccentric. He was the author of the following quotes:
"90% of it, I'll spend on good times, women and Irish Whiskey, the other would probably just waste" - After being asked what he planned to do with the World Series bonus.
"I don't know, I have never smoked astroturf" -When asked if he prefers grass or turf.

But in all seriousness, he later suffered a brain tumor and lost the battle in 2003.  After the diagnosis, he established "Ya Gotta Believe" foundation, helping adults and children with brain tumors.

Why am I picking a Tug McGraw card this week?  On Wednesday night, ABC is airing the Country Music Awards on television.  McGraw is the father of country superstar Tim McGraw.  Which gives me an excuse to replay this old Bud Light commercial:

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Congratulations Red Sox

As a baseball fan, I would like to congratulate the Boston Red Sox as 2013 World Series champions.  While I was watching the postseason unfold, I could not help but think that the Red Sox winning it all was meant to be.

From the day of the bombings, the team and city seemed to rally around each other and have that never give up attitude.  Be Boston Strong.  Just about every Red Sox hitter was struggling at the plate during the playoffs at one point, but when a hit was needed, someone delivered.  Then another Red Sox delivered after going for 0-8 or similar just before delivering in the clutch.  And then another.  It all added up to a championship on the home turf, so near to where the bombings took place.

In honor of their championship, I will share their anthem.  Casual baseball fans would think that it is Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline", which is played at each home game.  The Red Sox team anthem is actually "Tessie".   The origin goes back over hundred years.  To learn more about it, here is the background of the song and the Royal Rooters.

And here is the song which was remade by the group, Dropkick Murphy's:

And this song is played immediately after each win at Fenway Park. So, this is also fitting.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Card of Week: Carlos Beltran 2007 Topps Walmart

Last week I did a member of the Boston Red Sox for my card of the week. So to be fair, this week will be one from the St. Louis Cardinals
2007 Topps Walmart
Carlos Beltran is my favorite Cardinal player not only because he his a good player and person, he has local ties also.  The veteran outfielder has proven himself on the field with a solid career.  He has won the Rookie of the Year award with Royals, is a eight time All Star and three time Gold Glove winner.   On top of that, Beltran is one of the best ever hitters in post season play. He is on top or near the top of every offensive category for post season career.
For the 2013 season, MLB has honored Beltran as the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award.  This award is given out each year to the player "who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and indvidual's contribution to the team".
Locally, Beltran is a former player of the Lansng Lugnuts.  He played very briefly for Lansing, but he has had the best career of any Lugnut in MLB history.
For the card itself, this card was inserted in random packs only distributed at Walmart.  Each card from the 54 card set is designed differently.  Each has a design from a baseball card set of the past.  This Beltran card is one from the Post cereal sets of the early 1960s. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Thoughts on the Tigers Managerial Rumors

Since the resignation of Jim Leyland as the Detroit Tigers' manager, there have been several names mentioned and rumored as possible replacements.  I am going to give you some of my personal thoughts.  Of course, I am no insider, just a lifelong fan who has an idea of what is going on.  So, take it for what it is worth.
Okay, so what do we know for sure.  We know that former managers Ozzie Guillen, Dusty Baker and Eric Wedge have all publicly shown interest in the position.  I would basically ignore these type of news items. Many people have interest, including even me, but it doesn't mean that the interest is mutual.  Until you hear one of these ex-managers getting interest from Tigers, just ignore.
We also know that Tigers' hitting coach Lloyd McClendon has interviewed for the job.  He was once a manager in Pittsburgh and has been a part of Leyland's staff in Detroit during Leyland's entire tenure with Tigers.  This gives McClendon some good qualifications for the opening.  But, I do not see him as a legitimate candidate.  He is not highly sought after among MLB teams and his time as manager in Pittsburgh was not exactly successful.  I believe this is just a courtesy interview by GM Dave Dombrowski for his own employees.  And as for Gene Lamont, I think Lamont's managerial ship has set sail several years ago.

We have also learned that Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach has interviewed for the job.  If you don't know of him, here is some background on Wallach.  He was an All Star third baseman for Montreal and the  Dodgers.  He also managed Dodgers' AAA club and was named the league's manager of the year.  He has played for or coached under well respected managers such as Dick Williams, Tom Lasorda and Bill Virdon.   All of this makes him a very good option for the opening.  Another note about Wallach is that he and Dombrowski spent time together in Montreal, so there is familiarity between the two.
I still believe that Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo is a legitimate candidate.  He once was a Tigers prospect, managed in the minors and is highly regarded as a future manager.  He, of course, is in the World Series.  So any interview will have to happen until after the series and thus any announcement for Tigers replacement will be not named until then.
The Lovullo item is a hunch of mine and I could be wrong.  There also could be some darkhouse candidate out there and be named as Leyland's replacement any day.  Remember, the Prince Fielder signing came out of nowhere.  Dombrowski is a smart man and have total faith in him.  My guess it will be Wallach with heavy consideration for Lovullo.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jim Leyland in a nutshell

While I was surfing the internet and reading about Jim Leyland's legacy as a manager. I came across this video.  This 30 second video embodies everything Leyland is and what he stands for.
Jim Leyland video

As he argues with the umpire, it shows his passion for the game and his competitive spirit.  It also showing him defending his players.  Every player wants and respects a manager who will be there for them and Leyland did that, almost to a fault.

When "God Bless America" is played he stops and honors America. This shows his respect he has for others and USA.  After the playing of "God Bless America", he resumes his beef with the umpire.  Because he is the type of person who will fight for what he believes in to the very end and not change.

After watching it all, one can't help but laugh at the end and as anyone knows who has listened to Leyland before, he has a great sense of humor.
Baseball will be lacking just a little without having Jim Leyland in one of it's dugouts, but as Leyland said on Monday, "it's time".  On behalf of all fans of baseball, I would like to say, thank you and good luck in your future endeavors.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Card of the Week: John Farrell 1988 Topps Big

With the Red Sox in the World Series, I thought I would showcase one of manager John Farrell's cards and briefly talk about his career.
1988 Topps Big

This card is one from his rookie year as a pitcher for the Cleveland Indians.  As a rookie for Cleveland in 1987, Farrell had a 5-1 win/loss record.  His crowning achievement that year was that he ended Brewers' Paul Molitor's 39 game hitting streak.  I am surprised this is never mentioned about Farrell.  Molitor's hitting streak is the fifth longest in MLB history since 1900 and was pretty big news back then.
Farrell followed up his rookie season by winning 14 games in 1988.  But by 1990, he developed elbow problems which ended his effectiveness as a major league pitcher.
One note about Farrell and the 1988 Cleveland Indians is that three of his teammates are current major league managers as well.  Terry Francona (Cleveland), Ron Washington(Texas) and Bud Black(San Diego).

After Farrell's playing days, Farrell became a pitching coach.  A good enough one to be named the Blue Jays' manager for the 2011 season.  Prior to the 2013 season, the Red Sox traded for Farrell.
Yes, Boston traded a current player for the manager of a different club. It has happened before.  Trading for manager has proven to be a good move.  Pirates traded for Chuck Tanner from Oakland prior to 1977 season and won the World Series two years later and the New York Mets traded for Gil Hodges from Washington Senators in 1967 and also won a World Series title two years later.  Dealing for a manager isn't always successful though.  Miami acquiring Ozzie Guillen and Tampa getting Lou Pinella were not good moves.
By making the World Series, the Farrell trade has been proven to be a successful one.  We all soon will see if Farrell will join Tanner and Hodges as fellow World Series championship managers.

Personal Thoughts on Tigers Open Managerial Spot

Tigers' manager Jim Leyland announced his resignation today.  He was very good manager and a class guy and all Tiger fans should be proud to have had him in Detroit.
Now the focus will be on his replacement and several names will be come up for it.  I am, of course, not privy to all the information and goings on behind the scenes.  Who is an actual candidate and who interviews well, etc.  I am just going to give you some of my personal thoughts on some names and who could be a good manager in Detroit or should be up for consideration for the job.
Most Tiger fans I hear are wanting to trade for manager Kirk Gibson from Arizona.  Needless to say, he is a very popular choice because of his playing days in Detroit and managerial job he has done in Arizona.  I am not sure his fiery demeanor is a good mesh with a veteran laden club like Detroit.  A bunch of veterans don't need a lot of rahs rahs or an in your face approach like a young club does.  Gibson is known for being well prepared and could be smart enough to know to tone it down with a clubhouse full of veteran stars.  Of course, it all depends on Arizona actually agreeing to let him go.  
One of Gibson's coaches is Alan Trammell.  He is still very popular in Detroit and would be interesting see how he will do as a manager with more talent next time around.  If either of these two gets the job in Detroit and win it all, they will be forever loved in the Motor City.
Other possible candidates include Rays' bench coach Dave Martinez. He has been on Joe Madden's side during his entire tenure in Tampa. He should be able to bring his experience and knowledge to a managerial job at some point. A couple ex Tiger players have been hot names lately for managerial jobs. Brad Ausmus and Torey Lovullo.  I believe each of these three could be fine a big league manager someday, but right now none of them have any managerial experience, which GM Dave Dombrowski could be looking for.  Lovullo might be the most ready as he was a manager for a year in the minors and is the current bench coach in Boston.
I am going to throw one more name out. Tony Pena. I am rather shocked he has not gotten another managerial job.  He was once a Kansas City Royal manager and led them to a winning record in 2003, but the team struggled afterwards and Pena subsequently resigned.  He since has been a coach with the Yankees, so October baseball is a norm for him.  Also as a player, he was a catcher for playoff teams in St Louis, Boston and Cleveland and was known to work well with pitching staffs. I believe he could do a good job as a manager again, especially one with veterans on it.
Tiger fans also should keep in mind that Washington and Cinicinnati both have openings for managers and are playoff caliber teams. So any potential candidate has options, even though Detroit's opening could be the best looking job on paper.  Also, just as important as hiring a good manager is having a good coaching staff around him.  
Time will tell in who will be named as Leyland's replacement and I have faith in Dombrowski in hiring a qualified candidate.  He should get ample opportunities for succeeding and Tiger fans should keep an open mind in the hiring if he turns out not be the most popular candidate.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

When You Thought You've Seen It All

Longtime baseball fans know that no matter how many games one watches, there are plays that occur that make you say "I've never seen that before".
For example, earlier in the year, Detroit Tiger Max Scherzer struck out a batter with a pitch that ended in the dirt. Usually, the catcher usually picks up the ball and throw the ball to first to complete the strike out.  On this particular play, the ball bounced far enough into play that Scherzer, himself, threw to first for the out.

On Friday before Game 6 of the NLCS, something else happened that would fall into this category. After the playing of the national anthem, St, Louis Cardinals pitcher Joe Kelly and Los Angeles Dodgers reserve outfielder  Scott Van Slyke decided to do standoff.

They stood there and waited to for the other to make their move to the dugout.  As time went on, a Dodger teammate went to put a helmet on Van Slyke.  They lasted all the way up to the first pitch of the game when home plate umpire Greg Gibson ordered them off the field.
I guess boys will be boys. Or you we just came across two of the most patriotic players in MLB history.  Oh, as for the game,  Cardinals won and clinched the NL pennant in resounding fashion, 9-0.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Recalling the 1985 NLCS Between Cardinals and Dodgers

The stage is set for the 2013 NLCS.  It matches two of the most successful National League franchises in MLB history, but surprisingly, this is the only second time that they faced off in the NLCS.  The first time was the memorable 1985 series.
1985 was the first year that the LCS went from a best of five series to a best of seven.  Los Angeles had the home field advantage in the series and took a 2-0 series lead.  They were lead by their two aces, Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hersisher and some timely hitting which included the hot bat of Bill Madlock.

In game 3, St Louis bounced back as Danny Cox outdueled Bob Welch in route to a 4-2 victory.  But before Game 4, the NLCS became quite interesting.  It was a rainy day and the automated tarp had to be used, but unfortunately for St Louis, their star rookie outfielder Vince Coleman was nearby.  He got caught underneath the tarp and ended up with a broken ankle.  How would the Cardinals respond with the loss of their leadoff and 100 stolen baseman?  With no problem actually, St Louis routed Los Angeles, 12-2.

The series tied at two apiece now, Los Angeles was still very confident. Manager Tom Lasorda declared "if they can beat Valenzuela and Hersisher, then we're not as good as we thought."  The game was 2-2 deadlock as the game headed into the bottom of the ninth.  Switching hitting and defensive wizard, Ozzie Smith came up to bat against righty Tom Niedenfuer.  Smith, with no career home runs on the left side, became a hero:

The series moved back to L.A. for game six.  The Dodgers took a 5-4 in the ninth, St. Louis had runners on 2nd and 3rd and righty Jack Clark up to bat.  Lasorda opted to let Niedenfuer pitch to the power hitting Clark, who he struck out in the seventh. This time, Clark hit a shot over the left field wall and made St Louis pennant winners.
Ozzie Smith was named MVP of the series and St. Louis went on to face Kansas City Royals in the World Series.  Kansas City won the "I-70 Series" in seven games.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

In Memoriam: Andy Pafko

On Tuesday, former outfielder Andy Pafko passed away at the age of 92.  Pafko was a big leaguer from 1943-59 and a part of pennant winning teams for three different franchises- Chicago Cubs, Brooklyn Dodgers and Milwaukee Braves(winning it all in 1957).
1952 Topps
Pafko made 5 All Star teams and finished his career with 213 home runs, 976 RBIs with a batting average of .285.  He hit a career high of 36 HRs in 1950 while with the Cubs and finished the season with only 32 strikeouts.

In the hobby world, Pafko's 1952 Topps baseball card is one of the most sought after vintage card.   In this very popular set, Pafko's card is numerically #1.  Which means this card was always the first card in a stack of cards whether in a box or in a rubber band.  Because of this, it became more damaged than the other cards within the set, thus making the Pafko card very hard to find in nice shape.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Card of Week: Evan Longoria 2008 Topps Update

First of all, I would like to apologize for my little absence.  I had a bit of a cold and lost my internet connection temporarily(thanks Comcast). So I am back now with this week's card of the week.

I decided to showcase a card of player who is has been a star this October- Tampa Bays Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.
2008 Topps Update Evan Longoria rookie card
For the tiebreaker game, Evan Longoria went 3-4 at the plate which included a two run homer as the Rays beat Texas 5-2.  That was Longoria's seventh career home run that was hit on the team's last game of the year.  The previous record of six was held by Cardinal's legend Stan Musial.
On Monday, Longoria hit a game tying three run home run vs Boston Red Sox. It is his ninth career post season home run. It was also Longoria's 28th birthday on Monday.  Very happy birthday indeed. He is the second person in MLB history to hit a postseason homer on his birthday.  The other was Kansas City Royals' Willie Mays Aikens during the 1980 World Series(he hit two that day).
This is also gives me an excuse to show one of my favorite baseball commercials in recent years.  Plus give some free advertisment for New Era hats:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

3 Key Moments that has led to the Detroit Tigers recent successes

On Wednesday the Detroit Tigers clinched their third consecutive American League Central division championship and fourth playoff birth overall since 2006.  A lot of things have to go right in order to accomplish this, especially after the 2003 season. That season, Detroit finished with not only the worst season in baseball, but they threatened the 1962 New York Mets as the all time worst.  They were worse than the this year's Houston Astros.  Yes, that bad!
I believe that were three moments that led to the turnaround and sustained success.   The first of which was the hiring of general manager Dave Dombrowski by owner Mike Ilitch.   Ilitch bought the Tigers in 1992 and had very mediocre results for about a decade.   For much of the time, Randy Smith called the shots in personnel and did a poor job.  Drafting a closer(Matt Anderson) first overall in the MLB draft is the epitome of his failures.  Smith was let go in 2002 and Dombrowski was hired as his replacement.
If you don't know much about Dombrowski prior to his Detroit hiring, I will fill you in.  He was the GM for Montreal Expos from 1988-1991.  He build up the farm system and by the time of the 1994 player strike, the Expos(who had the best record in baseball) were made up of good amount of players Dombrowki had acquired. 
In November of 1991, the Florida Marlins hired Dombrowski as their first GM.  During his tenure there, he constructed a team that won the 1997 World Series championship.  Soon after winning it all, he was told by ownership to sell off the high priced talent.  The loss of talent led to mediocre Marlin teams and end of Dombrowski's job.  But he stockpiled enough talent in Florida that led to the 2003 World Series Championship.  Players he acquired included pitchers Josh Beckett, Brad Penny, A.J. Burnett and hitters Juan Pierre, Mike Lowell, Luis Castillo, Derrek Lee and a young Miguel Cabrera.
Dombrowksi, by the time he was hired in Detroit, had a nice track record of player evaluation and knew he had to build up the talent base. He did this by trading away some major leaguers for younger players even if meant hurting attendance and the win/loss record.  He still needed the big free agency signing to show all of baseball that the Tigers are in it to win it.  Randy Smith tried to get that big name when trading for Juan Gonzalez.  Needless to say, it didn't work out.
The second key moment was Dombrowski signing Ivan Rodriguez prior to the 2004 season.  Tigers were coming off 119 loss season while Rodriguez led the Marlins to a championship.  Rodriguez showed enough faith in Dombrowski and signed a multiyear deal in Detroit.  The Rodriguez signing led to the willingness of other players to come to Detroit and got the ball rolling in the right direction.
The final moment has nothing really to do with baseball.  It was NHL's lockout season of 2004-05 and subsequent salary cap.  It forced Ilitch (who also owns the Detroit Red Wings) to spend less on hockey and more on baseball. For example, instead of overpaying for a backup goalie(Curtis Joseph), he could use those funds for building the Tigers into winners. 
Of course there are other player personnel moves that were made that led to the current success of the Tigers. But I believe these three key moments allowed the others to happen.
And if I had to pick a fourth moment, it would be the Tigers move from the AL East to the Central in 1998.  It is much easier to compete with Kansas City and Cleveland than New York and Boston.  Because it happened a good number of years prior to the current run and because of the added wildcard and the elimination of steroids, it has less of an impact. So, I left it off.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

In Case You missed It: Baselines (Blurred Lines spoof)

The hottest song of the summer is likely Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines:

So, probably the hottest team in baseball this year tried their hand at it.  Here is the Atlanta Braves with Baselines:

Nice Javy Lopez cameo and very well done overall, I might add. #Fearthechop

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Card of Week: 1976 Topps Lyman Bostock

Tonight at 10 pm EST, MLB network will be airing a half hour special, "The Lyman Bostock Story".

1976 Topps
If you don't know of Lyman Bostock, let me fill you in some.  He was a rookie outfielder with the Minnesota Twins in 1975.  The Twins lineup had already consisted of Rod Carew and Tony Oliva, who each had won multiple batting titles.  The same was predicted of Bostock by many in baseball. 
He spent three seasons in Minnesota, finishing in the top five in batting once, before becoming one of baseball's first big free agents.  After considering offers from several teams including a bigger one from New York Yankees, Bostock decided on a team closer to home-California Angels.
His first month as an Angel was quite poor.  In trying to live up to his lucrative deal, Bostock struggled at the plate.  He finished with a .147 average by the end of April.  Bostock felt so bad about his lack of performance, he went to Angels owner Gene Autry and told him he wanted to give his whole first month salary back to Autry, but was refused.  So, Bostock decided to donate the entire month's salary to charity.
By the time September came around, Bostock produced well enough to raise his batting average into the .290s.  During a series in Chicago later in September, Bostock went to take a trip after a day game to nearby Gary, Indiana to visit some family members.  During the stay, Bostock and friends decided to go visit an old friend.  A lady, who Bostock just met a few hours before, was with his group. She asked if she could get a ride to a nearby destination.  Bostock, always willing to help, agreed.
As they pulled up to a red light, the lady's husband who thought she was cheating on him with Bostock, pulled up next to them and fired a shot in the car.   The one gunshot killed the baseball star.
The news broke nationally the next day. Baseball lost one of it's budding stars, teammates lost a friend, a mother lost his son and a wife, a husband at the age of 27.   Bostock had a terrible misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  What is most disheartening is that the killer plead insanity at the trial.  He spent six months in a mental hospital and then became a free man for the rest of his life.

Monday marks the 35th anniversary of this tragic event.  For the MLB network special, former players and coaches will discuss Bostock and his wife will talk about the day of the murder and her husband for the first time publicly. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Happy Birthday Big Daddy!

Today, Cecil Fielder turns 50 years old.  In celebration, I will give show you my most prized Cecil Fielder baseball card and a personal Fielder memory.
1986 Topps
His Topps rookie card is my favorite Fielder card not because it is his rookie card, but because of a more sentimental reason.
It was my freshman year in college as I was watching "The Simpsons" Halloween special in my dormroom, the phone rings.  It was my mother calling me saying that our house was broken into.  The thieves took just about everything valuable in the house according to my mom.  She also said that none of my baseball cards were stolen.
On my next trip home for a weekend-probably for some home cooking and/or laundry use, I accessed the damage.  I told my mom that some of my baseball cards were indeed stolen.  She asked if anything was of value.   I told her of some boxes and nothing major was gone. Only specific item I mentioned was my Cecil Fielder rookie card.  This, I should add, all occurred the fall after his first season in Detroit-his 51 home run season.

Fast forward almost a year later, I go home once again for the weekend. It was also soon after my mom and stepdad returned from a trip from Florida. One of the first things my mom did when I got home was hand me the Cecil Fielder rookie card.  Somehow, somewhere in Florida she bought it. I never asked for it nor hinted to her to do so.
Out of pure coincidence, that day of getting my Fielder rookie back, it was also Cecil Fielder's birthday.  And during that night's ballgame, Fielder hit a home run also.
Now, when I look at my Fielder Topps rookie card. I think of my mom, the phone call, Fielder's homer and how a fond memory can happen from a bad incident.  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Recalling a Childhood Trip to Tiger Stadium

The other day as I was browsing Ebay, I came across this piece for sale:

What makes it significant to me? I was at that game. It was one of several trips that my mother took my brother and I to see the Detroit Tigers in person.  For this particular game, it was a Hank Greenberg/Charlie Gehringer poster giveaway day.  More importantly, this was the day that the Tigers officially retired Greenberg's number 5 jersey and Gehringer's #2.  The ceremony was held between games of the doubleheader., back when they had scheduled doubleheaders.  Oh, how the game has changed.

I was still a pretty young kid, so I don't remember too much of the game in terms of particular plays or players.  Thanks to the world wide web, I found the boxscores.
For the first game of the doubleheader, Milt Wilcox outdueled future Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven as the Tigers won 4-1.  The offensive stars of the game was Lou Whitaker who had two hits and knocked in two runs from the leadoff spot and Alan Trammell also got two base hits.  For Cleveland, the only batter to hit safely twice was Toby Harrah, the Tigers current assistant hitting coach.

In the second game, Tigers won yet again behind Jack Morris against Len Barker, 3-1.  Offensively, Chet Lemon and Johnny Grubb had solo homers for Detroit.  Cleveland was led by Julio Franco with two hits and Mike Hargrove aka The Human Rain Delay knocked in the only run for the Tribe as he did in the first game of the doubleheader.
What is also significant about the day's games is that each of the four starters pitched complete games.  Imagine going to see a game and no relief pitchers enter the game.  Ah, the good old days. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Card of the Week: Andrew McCutchen 2005 Bowman Heritage

For this week's card, I will honor the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Why?  Because for the first time in twenty years, the Pirates clinched a winning season this past week.
It is a long standing franchise and deserve to be recognized and have a winner again.  Since I don't own the Holy Grail of baseball cards- Honus Wagner T206 card. If you don't know, Wagner of the Pirates was one of the best players in early 1900s and his 1909 T206 baseball card is the most sought after in the hobby.  I will show you my rookie card of the best player on the current Pirates ballclub-Andrew McCutchen.
2005 Bowman Heritage

This is the mahogany parallel of the Bowman Heritage set that I was lucky enough to pull out of a pack.  McCutchen was the 11th overall pick of the MLB draft in 2005 and has developed into an all star and a perennial MVP candidate. Beyond baseball he has other talents.
Such as an artist:

And does impersonations also:

I am personally rooting for this guy and hope the Pirates make the playoffs so the nation can get to know "Cutch".

Sunday, September 15, 2013

In Case You Missed It: Vin Scully

A while back, some friends and I were discussing who would we want to narrate our life story. It came down to actors Morgan Freeman and Sam Elliott.  Freeman got most of the votes, including mine.
But, It got me thinking that I would love to have Vin Scully also.  Even in his mid 80s, he still does a great job of doing Dodger games.  He is so eloquent and poetic in his storytelling, he could make the broadcast enjoyable even if the viewer had no interest in the game.  Heck, Scully probably could make paint drying sound interesting.
Anyways, here is the one and only, Vin Scully telling the viewers about the history of Friday the 13th during this past Friday's Dodger game:
Scully on Friday the 13th

I always learn something new from Scully.  He probably would teach me something new about myself if he told my life story.
He should do every World Series from here on out before he retires.  The American public should have all the chances they can to listen him to do a game.  He is a baseball treasure.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembering 9/11 and the Role of Sports in Our Society

On this day of remembrance, I will break away from my normal emphasis of baseball and focus on more important things.
Today, of course, is the anniversary of tragic events of 9/11.  I have memories of where I was at the time and the coverage of the horrific acts.  I personally don't know of any victims or their loved ones and it would be selfish of me of not honoring and be thinking of these people.  So, I give you my thoughts and prayers to those who lost loved ones and hope you all have love and support from many on this day and every other day.  I also would like to thank the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the time of need of others and the ones who continue to help make the streets safer.

In the days, weeks and months after 9/11, sports played a big role in the healing of America.  It allowed us  to have a diversion and forget about the problems of the world, even if for only a couple hours.  Lets not forget this is the role of sports in our society.   Far too often, sports seem to have far more importance to many people.   Lives are perceived to be determined by wins and losses and some cases, sadly it has.
Lets focus why sports are here.  It is a diversion from not only tragedies but from our daily lives.   We all have pressures at work in meeting deadlines and quotas.  Have overbearing bosses and annoying coworkers. Sports allows us to forget about those things for awhile. Whether it is going to games, getting to get together with friends and family to watch games or play ourselves.  If we didn't have these avenues of enjoyment,  we all would get too stressed and go crazy.

The athletes in many cases, seem to have too much of the "me me" mentality.  They are given the hero status and idolized by millions.  They are placed in this unique situation of being in the public eye and are role models, whether they like it or not.  I believe it is their duty to give back to society in any way they can.  It can be done by donated time, money and their voice.  Schools, churches and hospitals can be helped.  Awareness towards diseases, illnesses and addictions can be brought foward.  Or can just be an inspiration to the youth for a brighter future.
Speaking of youth, sports can be used as an avenue for a better future.  Kids growing up in a rough neighborhood could use sports to get away from gangs and violence.  It may allow some to get a college education where otherwise it would not possible.  Youngsters also learn about teamwork, discipline and a healthier lifestyle through athletics.

I know this is quite idealistic and far too many people take advantage of others for personal gain.  But, on this day, lets put sports in perspective.  Remember who the true heroes are and honor them.   Use sports as intended, to better our lives and others.  If we all do this, even if for just one day, the world be a bit better place.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Some People in Baseball Need To Grow Up

Two different scenarios occurred in games on Monday night that has always got me under my skin.  First of which was in the Tigers/White Sox game.  During Miguel Cabrera's first plate appearance, there was a disputed call by Cabrera to home plate umpire Brian Gorman.  Gorman was right on the call, Cabrera showed his disapproval without much incident and got tossed.

As you can see, Cabrera was not demonstrative in his argument nor physical toward Gorman in any way.   I see umpires too often seem to look for throwing a player out of the game.  Either they are continuing the argument when not needed or looking back at the player, manager, dugout, etc. and waiting for something to happen so he can toss someone.  The game is not about them.  Umpires need to swallow their pride, have some thick skin and let the players vent their frustration and let them continue to play.  Pennant races are at stake here and the umpire should not have any factor in the outcome of the game other than calling the plays. 
I also feel bad for the fans who came out to the game to watch their favorite team and players especially a superstar like Miguel Cabrera.  The umpire took away that experience for thousands of people when not needed.

The other event occurred during the Yankees/Orioles game.  Yankees manager Joe Girardi and Orioles skipper Buck Showalter got in a heated argument on the field where Girardi accused the Orioles of stealing signs.  I have never had a problem of players/coaches stealing signs.  It is a part of the game.  I see it as no different than a pitcher tipping his pitches or have a premature move to home or to a base for an easy stolen base against.  If your signs are easily deciphered or in the open to see, I am sorry, the other team has the right to exploit the other's flaw. It is time for the team to change the signs or hide them better so it won't occur again.   On the other hand, if someone is using a set binoculars or a camera to steal signs, that is cheating my book.  On the field of play, everything is fair in the heat of the battle. It is the team's job to outperform and outmaneuver the other in order to get the win.

The game of baseball is a child's game played by adults. It does not give people the right to act like children.  It is time for adults to act like adults.  It will make it more enjoyable for everyone.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Card(s) of the Week: 1978 Burger King Tigers Alan Trammell & Lou Whitaker

This week I am featuring two cards of the week.  Frankly, you can not have one without the other.  The Detroit Tigers soon realized this after this day back in 1977.  On this date, during a second game of a doubleheader in Boston, Trammell and Whitaker debuted together at shortstop and second base.
Together they would set a MLB record of playing 19 seasons together as a double play combination.  Individually, each would have careers that would put them up for consideration for the Hall of Fame. Trammell, has a couple more years left on the ballot, while Whitaker is now only eligible on the veteran's committee. I believe both will eventually will be inducted at some point in the future

Burger King ran promotions for baseball cards at local restaurants during the 1978 season. Several regions gave away a 3-card pack free with any sandwich purchase.  One of the teams was the Detroit Tigers.  It used the 1978 Topps cards and pictures(when available) for the sets.
Another note is that the 1978 Topps is Trammell, Whitaker and Jack Morris' rookie cards. Each featured on multiple player cards within the set.  The Burger King set allows the collector to have solo rookie year cards of these players.  Hopefully, in the future, one can say this 23 card set will feature three Hall of Famers rookie year cards.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Jim Abbott's No Hitter

Wednesday was the 20th anniversary of Jim Abbott's no hitter. What makes this no hitter extra special is that Abbott was born without a right hand.  Pretty amazing accomplishment.  He became rather adept of having his glove on his right arm and quickly putting on his throwing hand just after pitching the ball for fielding.
1989 Score

He was originally a California Angel, but pitched his no hitter as a New York Yankee in 1993.  A couple personal thoughts from me.  I remember the day he pitched the gem. My dad, brother and I were out golfing for the day. As we made it the clubhouse before making the turn to the back nine for a beverage, we saw the tail end of the game. 
Also, to this day, Abbott is still the only player out of University Michigan I actually rooted for in professional sports. Hard not to cheer for this guy.  And yes, I am a Spartan, through and through.

Monday, September 2, 2013

My Earliest Prince Fielder Memory

With Miguel Cabrera out of the lineup the last few days, Prince Fielder has become the main cog in the batting order.  It gives me a chance to tell you all of my first Prince Fielder memory. Was it an All Star game appearance while with the Brewers? His MLB Debut? From the Minors? or day he got drafted? It is none of the above.
Here is my first memory of Prince Fielder:

Card of Week: 1988 Topps Big Andre Dawson

A popular trend in trading cards now is using designs of sets from decades ago.  One of the earliest sets to do this was the 1988 Topps Big.  Topps released a "big" set in three series of 88 cards each in 1988.  It took the design of the popular 1956 Topps set including the slightly larger size. Here is a pic of a 1956 Topps:
As you can see it has action photo to go along with the portrait of the player. The backs contain a comic strip theme to tell some of career highlights of player. The past year's stats and career stats shown at bottom.
The 1988 Topps Big set doesnt have the exact same design as the 56 set, but uses it as theme and the backs are the same between the two.
1988 Topps Big

I picked the Andre Dawson because he coming off his MVP season of 1987. And the action photo reminds me of this recent commercial that always makes me chuckle:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Interview With the Greatest Hitter Ever

There is talk around baseball that Miguel Cabrera could be the greatest hitter of all time.  He is a tremendous hitter, but I do not think he is the greatest yet.  He could become the greatest right handed hitter.  To me, the greatest hitter ever is Ted Williams.
Willams finished his career with 521 career homeruns, 1839 RBIs and with an average of .344.  He also won two triple crowns, six batting titles and two MVPs.  He did all this while missing all of or part of five seasons because he fought in WWII and the Korean War.  These were prime years also, three of which came immediately following winning his first triple crown.  Here is his career stats
Couple other notes on Willams.  Beyond his baseball accolades, he was known as a very good wingman as a fighter pilot for John Glenn during WWII and also is a member of the International Fishing Game Association Hall of Fame.  Williams also was a tireless worker for the Jimmy Fund-a Boston based charity that helps cancer stricken kids.
Anybody wants to learn about hitting, he wrote a book called "Science of Hitting".
Here is a great interview Williams did reflecting on career and life with Bob Costas that originally aired in the summer of 1993:
part one
part two
part three