Tuesday, April 29, 2014

This Just In: Billy Hamilton is fast

If you haven't seen Reds rookie outfielder play yet.  Well, he is fast:
He is really fast:

He is one of the fastest players I have ever seen since I started watching, maybe the fastest.  I always thought of Bo Jackson as the fastest since the early 80s. Former Royal Willie Wilson should be mentioned also.  I wonder how Hamilton will compare to Negro League legend James "Cool Papa" Bell.  The story goes Bell was so fast he can turn off the lights and be in bed by the time the room would go dark.
Hamilton can be considered the most exciting player in baseball:

I hope he is able to hit on a consistent basis and use his speed for an advantage.  Love to see him have a long MLB career.

Monday, April 28, 2014

In Case You Missed It: In the Front Row

This past weekend the Milwaukee Brewers unveiled a new statue in honor of longtime broadcaster Bob Uecker.  It is placed not in front of Miller Park but in the last row of the upper deck behind home plate.
Newer generation of baseball fans know Uecker as Harry Doyle in the Major League movie franchise, but he has been doing Brewer games on the radio since 1971.  As a player he was a backup catcher in the 1960s with a career batting average of .200. But he has been a very popular tv personality over last 30 years ago.
But why is this statue of Uecker placed there?  Because of the very popular Miller Lite commercials in the 1980s that he was a part of:

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Meet Former Reds Owner Marge Schott

NBA's Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has allegedly made racist remarks towards African-Americans during a conversation with his girlfriend.  He believed she should not socialize and be out publicly with blacks.  Baseball, of course, is not immune to having racist owners in it's history.  The most notorious of which is former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott.
Schott was the majority owner of the team in 1985 and through 1999.  Instead of me explaining her racism and overall selfishness, I will let her do it do it herself.  The following are some of the quotes she made herself over her tenure as Reds owner:
"Only fruits wear earrings" -- explaining the club's ban on wearing earrings on the field

"I feel cheated. This isn't supposed to happen to us, not in Cincinnati.  This is our history, our tradition, our team. Nobody feels worse than me."  -- on April 1, 1996 when the season opener was called off because home plate umpire John McSherry collapsed on the field and died.

"Why do they care about one game when they're watching another?" -- after fans complained that her cost cutting moves resulted in elimination of out of town scoreboard.

"Well, I don't like it when they come here, honey, and stay so long and then they outdo our kids. Thats not right." --On Asian Americans

"Some of the biggest problems in this city come from women wanting to leave the home and work.  Why do these girl reporters have to come in the locker room? Why can't they wait outside?  I don't really think baseball is a woman's place, honey.  I really don't. I think it should be left to the boys."

"Everybody knows he was good at the beginning, but he just went too far." -- on Adolf Hitler.

In addition to the above quotes, he referred to of her star players, Eric Davis and Dave Parker as "million dollar n****rs".
Schott was suspended on numerous occasions and finally was forced out of baseball.
Sports and society has no place for people like Schott and Sterling. I am hoping that each generation that passes, that racism is dwindling.  Hoping! This ignorance shouldn't be tolerated.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Baseball 101: Keeping Score

Well, another season of baseball has started.  As you are watching games, the announcers may reference scoring results on plays if you are keeping score.  But how many fans are keeping score or actually know how to? So I will take you all to school and teach you.
You will need a scorebook and a blank sheet looks like this:

It is pretty easy to do. First all each player in the field is represented by a number according what position he plays:
1: pitcher
2: catcher
3: 1b
5: 3b
6: ss
7: LF
8: cf
9: rf
Each column on the scoresheet represents an inning. when you begin a new inning, a new column is started. each square is a player's at bat. Some sheets have little squares for balls and strikes. some don't. If you want to keep track of it is up to you.
Each play has a way of scoring:
A flyout or line drive out caught would be F-(to the position number. e.g. F-8-for flyball to CF or F-5 for pop up to 3b)
Groundout would be pos # to pos #. for example groundout to SS would be 6-3. each fielder who touches the ball is recorded in the scorebook. e.g doubleplay could look like 6-4-3 or pitcher deflecting a ball to second basemean and he throws ball to first for an out would look like 1-4-3.
Strikeout would be shown by a K. a K like this is one is for a swing and miss and if batter strikes out looking. a backwards K would be made.
If  batter reaches base on a walk, BB( intentional walk-IBB) hit by pitch, HBP, and on error by fielder, E-(guilty position number-E-8(for a flyball dropped by CF)
Of course for a hits are represented as 1b, 2b, 3b or HR.
When a player reaches the base, a line is drawn to each base he reaches and diamond is colored in when he  scores after all the lines are drawn on base paths.
A player advances on a wild pitch(wp), passed ball(pb), a balk(bk) or stolen base(sb) is written between the bases he advanced to and from. 
When are down with an inning. runs, hits,errors and players left on base(LOB) are tallied up on the bottom
and you are ready to start the new inning in the next column.
When a sub comes in for a player, he is listed in the spot in order of the player he is replacing and what inning the substitution is made is also usually noted.
The pitchers stats are kept individually at the bottom of the page.
 It should look something like this:
Of course, the scoring is done by you and is for you.  You can make it as personal as you want. You will be the one reading it and referencing back to it in the future.  Some scorekeepers may put a star next to an out where a spectacular play was made in the field.  Some may put a line to what direction the hits were made. Did he pull the ball or hit the ball up the middle? It is all up to you.
I hope you understand how to score a game, it can be a fun way to keep track of the game and the players.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Recalling the Federal League

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the first game ever played at Wrigley Field.  For this honor, the Chicago Cubs will be wearing the uniforms from Chicago's team of 1914.  The modern day Cub players will not be wearing the Cub uniforms from 100 years ago, but of the Chicago Whales of the old Federal League. Not many baseball fans know of the Federal League, so I will tell the story of it.

Mordecai Brown 1914 Cracker Jack
The Federal League was only around for two years, but it did have an impact on baseball beyond just the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.  The Federal League was established in 1913 and called itself as the "third major league", although the owners of the American and National Leagues dubbed it as the "outlaw league".
In order to compete with other two major leagues, the Federal League tried to lure players away by not having the reserve clause that was used in the AL and NL.  The reserve clause restricted players signing with other teams freely.  The new league's free agency rules did lure some stars such as Joe Tinker, Hal Chase, Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown and Eddie Plank.
The Indianapolis Hoosiers won the inaugural title in 1914 over the Chicago team with decent attendance.  After the season, the Federal League filed an antitrust suit over organized baseball.  The presiding judge was Kenesaw Mountain Landis.  Landis, who also was a baseball fan, stalled in making any decisions in hoping the two sides would resolve the issue on their own.  The delay by Landis also led to more financial strain on the new league and because of, it folded after the 1915 season.
Two of the Federal League teams merged with the established leagues.  The Chicago Whales, with the Cubs of the NL and the St. Louis Terriers with the St. Louis Browns of the AL.  The rest of the team received cash settlements.  However, the Baltimore ownership in a last ditch effort to keep a pro baseball team in Baltimore filed a separate anti-trust suit.  Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled baseball was exempt from the Sherman Antitrust Act because it was not an interstate commerce.
A few other sidenotes of the Fed League:  1) MLB owners became aware of Judge Landis from the lawsuit and named him the first commissioner of baseball after the Black Sox scandal of 1919.  2) The reserve clause was used in baseball until 1975 and modern day free agency began.  3) MLB never considered the Federal League as a major league and ignored all of the players' individual statistics until 1968.  and 4) the Federal League was the last league to field teams in competition with the American and National leagues.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Card of the week: 1988 Topps Bill Madlock

1988 Topps
If you are watching baseball during this season, you may hear Bill Madlock's name on numerous occasions.  Detroit's star slugger Miguel Cabrera is going for his fourth consecutive batting title in 2014.   The last right handed hitter to win four batting crowns at any point in his career was Madlock. 
"Mad Dog" led the league in 1975 and 1976 as a Chicago Cub and 1981 and 1983 as a Pittsburgh Pirate.  He ended his career as a .305 hitter and racked up a total of 2,008 hits from 1973-87.
I also would like to mention about Madlock is that he has been lost a bit in amount of impact he had on the 1987 Tigers team.   Long time Tiger fans remember Doyle Alexander as the key acquisition that lead to Detroit's division crown in 1987.  Madlock was also a key pickup midseason.  After being released by Los Angeles Dodgers in May, Tigers signed Madlock.  In 326 at bats, Madlock hit 14 HRs and knocked in 50 runs while hitting .279.
This wasn't the first time Madlock was acquired midseason and the team the benefited from.  In 1979, the Pirates traded for Madlock at the end of June from the San Francisco Giants.  Madlock batted .328 for rest of season and the Pirates ended the season as World Series champions. 
Then in 1985, Pittsburgh traded him to the Dodgers for a playoff push.  It worked.  Madlock hit a robust .360 in 114 at bats and the Dodgers won the NL west. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

AL Predictions

In my last edition, I gave you my National League predictions for the 2014 season.  Now it is time for the American League.

East: (Is a total crapshoot of a division. I think any team could win outside of Toronto)
Rays : They seem to have the best pitching staff and arguably the best manager, Joe Madden, in the business. So, I will take my chances and pick them as division winners.
Orioles: Key pick ups of Ubaldo Jiminez and Nelson Cruz are nice additions. Biggest question mark is who is the closer?  Wild Card winner.
Red Sox:  They were carried by great pitching, timely hitting and that Boston Strong attitude. Should contend for another division title. Could fall short and take a wild card spot into the playoffs.
Yankees:  Had a great winter of acquisitions: catcher Brian McCann, OFs Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran and pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.  The whole infield is a question mark of reliability and perfomance.  They could easily win division, but a few injuries away from not making playoffs at all for second year in row. Will be interesting to see how Yankees do without Mariano Rivera as the closer and not have the Alex Rodriguez circus around.  Sleeper Impact player is pitcher Michael Pineda. He could solidify starting rotation.
Blue Jays:  Has a potent batting order but pitching is too suspect to contend.  Might be another rough year north of the border.

Tigers:  Still the team to beat in division. Even with the addition of closer Joe Nathan, it is hard for me to say this team is better than a year ago.  But a division crown is still very likely
Royals:  Legitimate contenders for division title. KC has one of the best bullpens in AL and best catcher also in Salvador Perez.  Back end of rotation and 3B Mike Moustakous will likely dictate if KC will be pretenders or contenders.
Indians:  Will contend for division title. Terry Francona will prove once again he is one of the best managers in all of MLB.  The losses of Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir could hurt them this year. If Danny Salazar performs well all year, Indians will be there until the end.
White Sox: Through several trades. the southsiders have gotten younger and more athletic. But the pitching beyond Chris Sale is mediocre at best.  Cuban import Jose Abreu is Rookie of Year candidate.
Twins:   Has made improvements from a year ago.  Still a ways to go. Minnesota does own the number one prospect in baseball in Byron Buxton.  He could make his debut in the bigs in 2014.

A's:  The two time division champ is still my favorites to win division. They have been hit by a rash of injuries to the starting pitcher already in spring, but should have enough to make up for around them.  Prospect to look out for is SS Addison Russell.
Rangers:  They also have been hit hard by injuries to the pitching staff. Yu Darvish has to be a Cy Young candidate in order to for Rangers to contend for division.   Otherwise, they will have to outbash everyone on a daily basis.
Angels:  The back end of rotation and bullpen are questionable.  Will Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton recover from bad 2013s.  More bashing than pitching here also.
Mariners:  Can big free agent Robinson Cano bring some winning ways to Seattle? Will the young prospects around him finally become legit big leaguers?  They have decent pitching that will keep in games, but will they score enough runs? Best case scenerio is seeing Rangers and Angles pitching falter and Seattle sneak into into 2nd place.  Not sure how likely though.
Astros:  Much like the Marlins in NL, they look like more of a big league team this year. But still many holes in lineup.  OF prospect George Springer is knocking on door to make an impact on team.  Their biggest prospect is former No.1 overall pick, SS Carlos Correia. He is a future superstar.