Saturday, February 27, 2010

What's in a Name?



Here at More Hardball, we the staff like to keep an eye out for the strange and unusual baseball stories that the internet has to offer.

Here's one I thought fit just perfectly.

Manny Ramirez is back in the news again. Not for shooting himself up with female pregnancy hormones, but for something equally bizzare (well, it sort of has to do with something female, but keep reading!).

To make some money on the side, athletes often sign endorsements with different companies. Businesswise, the endorsement contracts make the athletes pocket money, and the publicity from the endorsement hopefully results in more sales of the product endorsed. It's a win-win, right?

Well, as an honest journalist, it ain't my place to be judgmental. However, I must ask "what was Manny thinking when he signed an endorsement for an energy drink called Sum Poosie?"

No, that is not a typo. Apparently, there really is an energy drink with that name. And they've got a website to prove it (except they've added a few more words to make it safe for those of you reading this blog at work).

So why would Manny sign a deal with a drink company that bears a name which makes little 3rd graders spit chocolate milk out of their noses?

The man in me says that it was the name that did it. And given that I'm the lone female on the MH staff, I think I have a pretty good idea about what goes on in men's brains.


Have a good weekend!
tamtam

Must Watch Videos

Please take 7 minutes of your precious life here on Earth and watch the following 2 videos.


WWE wrestlers perform to Soulja Boy. Both by themselves are kinda lame, but together...fan-freakin-tastic!


I hate Anime, unless it's synchronized to LL Cool J's Momma Said Know You Out.
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Givin' Back 2 Da Hood:
*Major League Jerk has scoop on the Boston Red Sox new spring training field...Mini-Green Monster?

*Rumors & Rants has pitted Olympic ladies Vonn and Mancuso against each other.

*Sportress of Blogitude has evidence of Wii's Olympic curling being very sexually suggestive.

*Sharapova's Thigh gives some lovin' to Blake Lively...we'd all like to do the same.

*Bootlegger Sports updates you on ChiSox manager Ozzie Guillen and his Twitter account.

*We Should Be GMs joins in on the Jayson Werth scraggly hair and beard look.

*Gratitude to MLB Trade Rumors and Rob Neyer's Sweet Spot on ESPN.com for the links this week.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Spring Training Kickoff


Here's a picture I would have posted last week, but my computer went on the fritz and is now in the shop for repair.

Since I'm the only one with a team in the Cactus League (the rest of the staff's teams are in FL), I thought I'd post this image to kickoff White Sox Spring Training.



Have a good weekend!
tamtam

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Minor League Contract All-Star Team

I am a baseball geek, therefore I find tremendous joy in even the smallest of baseball related maneuvers. For instance, the minor league contract with non-roster spring training invite. The following is a 25-man roster composed of the "best" MLB players that saw time in the majors last season. Their 2009 MLB stats are listed and the team that inked them to a minor league deal for 2010.

Starters:
AVG/OPS
1st/Mike Jacobs (NYM)- .228/698, 46 r, 19 hr, 61 rbi
2nd/Bobby Scales (CHC)- .242/.723, 15 r, 15 rbi
SS/Nick Green (LAD)- .236/.669, 35 r, 6 hr, 35 rbi
3rd/Chad Tracy (CHC)- .237/.695, 29 r, 8 hr, 39 rbi
C/Josh Bard (SEA)- .230/.655, 20 r, 6 hr, 31 rbi
LF/Laynce Nix (CIN)- .239/.767, 42 r, 15 hr, 46 rbi
CF/Josh Anderson (CIN)- .240/.580, 42 r, 24 rbi, 25 sb
RF/Frank Catalanotto (NYM)- .278/.728, 18 r, 9 rbi
DH/Marcus Thames (NYY)- .252/.777, 33 r, 13 hr, 36 rbi

Bench:
C/Chad Moeller (BAL)- .258/.751, 6 r, 10 rbi
IF/OF/Joe Thurston (ATL)- .225/.645, 27 r, 25 rbi, 4 sb
OF/Cory Sullivan (HOU)- .250/.720, 17 r, 15 rbi, 7 sb
1st/Mike Sweeney (SEA)- .281/.777, 25 r, 8 hr, 34 rbi

Rotation:
ERA/WHIP
1. Livan Hernandez (WAS)- 9 w, 183.2 ip, 102 k, 5.44/1.56
2. Jeff Weaver (LAD)- 6 w, 79 ip, 64 k, 3.65/1.52
3. Tim Redding (COL)- 3 w, 120 ip, 76 k, 5.10/1.43
4. Russ Ortiz (LAD)- 3 w, 85.2 ip, 65 k, 5.57/1.67
5. Miguel Batista (WAS)- 7 w, 71.1 ip, 52 k, 4.04/1.65

Bullpen:
1. D.J. Carrasco (PIT)- 5 w, 93.1 ip, 62 k, 3.76/1.41
2. Brian Bass (PIT)- 5 w, 86.1 ip, 54 k, 4.90/1.74
3. Ron Villone (WAS)- 5 w, 48.2 ip, 33 k, 4.25/1.71
4. Justin Miller (LAD)- 3 w, 56.2 ip, 36 k, 3.18/1.31
5. Guillermo Mota (SF)- 3 w, 65.1 ip, 39 k, 3.44/1.18
6. Joe Nelson (BOS)- 3 w, 40.1 ip, 36 k, 4.02/1.46
7. Mike MacDougal (FLA)- 1 w, 54.1 ip, 34 k, 20 sv, 4.31/1.66

Notes:
As expected the starting lineup and rotation are weak. However, the bench and bullpen would likely be better than some real MLB teams'. Thames can also play LF/RF, Sweeney would platoon with Jacobs at 1st, and MacDougal would be the closer.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Toronto Tips the Scales

On ESPN.com's Spring Training Blog this headline popped out at me- "Jays Weigh Closers". Seriously, what the hell is the point in that. Newly signed Kevin Gregg is the biggest of the candidates at 6'6" 238 lb., with Scott Downs 6'2" 209 lb. ranking second, and little Jason Frasor coming in last at 5'10" 175 lb. There you go, now that they've been weighed, what exactly is the plan? Toronto has no f'n idea!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Attack of the flying wieners

Kansas City Royals mascot gets sued for firing hot wiener in fan's face. I foresee a porno spin-off. Gotta love it.

Nationals Ace in the Hole?

It's no secret that since moving to Washington the Expos (ahem), oops, I mean the Nationals have stunk. Two consecutive years with the worst record in baseball and really haven't moved from the cellar of the National League East. Well, their luck may just be turning around with the help of a "fortuitous frankfurter" in the mouth of pitcher Tyler Clippard. Wait, what?!

Clippard is in Florida for spring training, and it's a running tradition that players hit up the golf course after practice. Clippard was playing with some Nationals teammates on a par 3 course when he clubbed a hole-in-one. He credited his success to a hot dog he ate. He later partook in another mystery meat stick and chipped in a shot from a bunker. Watch out National League East, the Washington Nationals may just have their ace in the hole!

Shh, don't tell anyone, but Clippard was the bullpen MVP last year posting a 2.69 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. The 25 year old right-hander is actually decent.


George Strait- Ace in the Hole (Live)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Public Service Announcement

We at More Hardball enjoy a tasty brew every now and then (with the exception of Tam, who is currently underage and we respect that). We even like to tell you the beers we have enjoyed most. Sometimes we even have a bit too much, but being adults, we also know that drinking is a privilege, and with this comes responsibility. Speaking for myself and GM Carson, we plan ahead and WE DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE. There's no point to it, and certainly no excuse. I know this is old news, but things of this sort generally tend to get brushed aside and easily forgotten: last Wednesday, Joseph Genovese Jr. plead guilty to vehicular homicide after the 2008 incident that took the life of a Missouri school teacher, and seriously wounded another. Genovese was intoxicated, ran a red light, and struck the two women as they were leaving a Phillies-Cardinals game outside of Citizens Bank Park. He will face up to 13 1/2 to 27 years in prison. At the time of the event, Genovese was 18. So what makes this something worthy of remembering?

First and foremost, this was not an accident, it was murder. Any time a person CHOOSES to get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, that person is willfully placing the lives of others at risk. It would be the same if I loaded a gun and fired it into a shopping center - I didn't mean to kill anyone, they just got in the way of my bullets. The fact of the matter is, people die when the decision is made to behave irresponsibly. My family suffered the deaths of two members when a 26-year old, who had DUI records stretching back 10 years, killed my uncle and cousin. This was in July of 1999, and while we have moved on, we have never recovered. The drunk bastard also lost his life.

This leads me to my second point: very few things in this world are worth your life. By all means, have fun! Enjoy watching a game with your buds, and toss back a few. Hell, get plastered. But plan ahead. No one thinks you're cool if you get into your car bombed out of your head, and no one will find you awesome wrapped around a tree. If you are the kind of person who thinks someone is bad ass for successfully driving home drunk, then may I direct you to the nearest microwave so I can nuke your head in it. While the shit-blister in the story survived this incident, his life is forever altered by the consequences. He used to brag to his friends about driving drunk and speeding all the time; I hope he finds ass-drilling in prison just as thrilling and fulfilling.

Finally, if the above reasons are not enough to warrant a change in behavior, consider this: Would you want someone you care about on the road with your drunk ass? Would you really let a friend drive drunk if you knew your wife, girlfriend, sister, mother, brother, father, best friend, favorite prostitute, etc. could also be on the road? Are you really the kind of person who truly doesn't give a shit about other people, including yourself? Be a man, call a cab, call another friend, sleep naked in a flowerpot and laugh about it in the morning, anything, as long as you do not drive -or allow a friend to drive- under the influence.

*****If you think you or a friend has a problem with alcohol abuse, please call 1-800-390-4056 for the The National Alcohol and Substance Abuse Drug Addiction Help and Information Center, or visit thier site here.
*****For more information on the effects of drunk driving visit M.A.D.D.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What Exactly is Ed Wade?

The Houston Astros extended GM Ed Wade through 2012. Guess they expect to stay mediocre, because that's the definition of what Wade has done there so far (166-166 in 2 seasons). Maybe by the end of his tenure there he'll have fielded a team exclusively composted of ex-Phillies has-beens.

So does Ed Wade resemble more of a nutsack or Dana Carvey depicted as a turtle?

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Link-It:
*This past Wednesday pitchers and catchers started reporting to Arizona and Florida, Bootlegger Sports has photo of a good looking catcher (no, not Mike Piazza) to kick off spring training.

*Charlie Manuel enjoys massaging his nether regions while watching Roy Halladay pitch.

*Not sure when Terrell Owens grew white boy hair and became a fashion model, but somewhere along the line he did.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The SS of Baseball

Normally, when you're at the ballpark and keeping score of the game, SS usually stands for "Shortstop" (at least, that's the way I note them. No two scorekeepers work the same way).

Well, today's post has something to do with the SS.

No, not the shortstop (well, sort of, but keep reading!)

THE SS, as in Hitler's special forces.

"WTF does the SS have to do with baseball?!" You may ask.

Here's the connection:






















NO, that is NOT a photoshop job!! That is indeed a real photo! This shortstop, a player named Rabbit Maranville, really does have a swastika on his hat!

So is this Hitler's subtle attempt to infiltrate the US? Unfortunately, no (though that might make for a fascinating movie plot...). This picture was taken in 1914 on Opening Day, a full 25 years before anyone even knew who that screeching German with the Charlie Chaplain mustache was. Hare Maranville (get it? Herr=German word for "sir", hare=another name for rabbit) actually played for the Boston Braves, and according to Big League Stew, all the Braves players on Opening Day wore swastika hats (I think this was just a 1-day thing).

But aside from Hare Maranville, baseball purists might be surprised to know that Johnny Evers also donned a swastika hat. Here is the incriminating photo below.


















Ok, so even though it's before WWII (hell, we're still in WWI at this point!), the question remains...why a swastika? Wouldn't a smiley face just do?



Before that screeching German made the swastika a symbol of hate and supremacy, swastikas were a symbol of good luck. Some cultures even considered them sacred, such as Buddhists and Hindus, both of which adorned statues or alters with swastikas (see here for Buddha, and here for the Hindu holiday celebration of Diwali).



It could very well be that the Braves used this symbol as a good luck charm for the first game of the season. And they did go on to win the World Series that year, so maybe there is some good luck associated with them (not in THAT way! I'm not a Nazi!!).



Have a good weekend!
tamtam

Bock is Back

By now loyal readers of this blog (all baker's dozen of ya) know that we here at More Hardball enjoy a pint of adult beverage every once in awhile. Recently I got my lips on a tasty frothy glass of Yuengling Bock. This is the first year Yuengling, America's oldest brewery, has released it's copper colored seasonal in bottles in about 30 years. Bock is a strong dark lager that is usually considered a Christmas, Easter, or Lent beer. As a Central PA native and strong supporter of Vitamin Y, I am thankful Yuengling brought back Bock. They went with the original artwork too, which is both classy and awesome.

Now let's see what MLB has to offer in the way of Bock...

*Randy Bockus pitched in the 1980's for the Giants and Tigers amassing 2 career victories and a 4.23 ERA.

*Bock Baker pitched all of one season back in 1901, walking 12 batters in 14 innings while only striking out one...suck!

*Eddie Bockman played in the 1940's for the Yankees, Pirates, and Indians as a middle infielder, never really amounting to much.

Thank goodness Yuengling's Bock is better than MLB's!


Eminem- I'm Back

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Countdown: Best Baseball Movie of All Time #1




I have seen Field of Dreams multiple times since its release in theaters back in 1990; it's one of those films that I enjoy more as I grow older. I used to consider it the greatest baseball film solely because it is different and holds my interest. I don't think of it in such trivial terms anymore. In fact, only in my most recent viewing, not having seen it in about 10 years, have I felt the emotional impact that it delivers in terms of its quiet sentimentality and themes of second chances in life. Just as the players on the field can only be seen by certain people at certain times, so too does the message of Field of Dreams only speak to those ready to hear it. Nearly two decades after its release, I no longer see just the empty field.

Kevin Costner stars as Ray Kinsella, an Iowa farmer living a simple life with his wife, Annie and his precocious daughter, Karin . One day, while out in the cornfields, Ray hears a voice telling him a simple message: "If you build it, he will come". He knows it seems crazy, but Ray still feels compelled to listen to the voice and make the vision he sees of a baseball field smack dab in the middle of his cornfield come true, cashing in all of his family's savings and crippling heir potential to turn a profit. After the diamond is built, a man appears in the center of it; "Shoeless" Joe Jackson , one of eight White Sox players banned from baseball after being found guilty of throwing the games for money during the 1919 World Series. Soon, the rest of the banned players appear, and then a few more, although as they play all day, the bills for the Kinsella family keep piling up, to the point where they might lose the farm, the baseball field, and all of the dreams that might come with it. Meanwhile, the voices continue, and Ray must see this mad dream to its conclusion.

From a casting standpoint, Field of Dreams is top notch. This marks the second foray into the baseball genre for Kevin Costner, coming after the fan-favorite hit Bull Durham, and it proves to be another winner. Costner has that easygoing style that complements the game well, as well as the solitude of farm life -- it's hard to imagine someone else fitting better into the role. Casting an "everyman" as Kinsella is crucial, as we need to feel that he is sane enough to not think he is completely off his rocker when listening to the voice in his head, and then drive his family into the brink of bankruptcy. Veterans James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster , in his final big screen role, give some of their best screen performances in years, while the ensemble of baseball players is perfectly suited to the style and era that they belong to, respectively.

Conversely, Archibald "Moonlight" Graham was a real player whose pro baseball career was short-lived, later pursuing a career as a doctor,. His character is fictional otherwise. Though he often dreams of fulfilling his goal of getting a big hit as a ballplayer in the majors, it is touching to find that it is in his second calling, as a doctor, that he ultimately finds true value. Despite having a second chance in life, sometimes it is the road traveled, not the one we regret not taking, that proves to be the correct one.

Field of Dreams has aged well, with some of the cornier bits seeming not so out of place as it becomes more enveloped into the status of a classic film. Whatever contrivances that the fantasy elements necessitate are easily forgiven for the sake of the feeling of awe, nostalgia, and fanciful ideas. Just as baseball, old-time Americana, and the radical 1960s are things that many wax nostalgic about, so too is the film that extols these vaunted memories of America's past greatness itself.

Like those bygone days we fondly look back on, there is a sense of idealism to Field of Dreams that rarely exists anymore in Hollywood films. We don't reminisce about things just because they are old, but because they mean something to those who remember it. The film isn't about baseball so much as it is about holding on to, remembering, and cherishing, things that have value the things that meant something to your father, and his father before him.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

2010 World Series: Boston vs. Philadelphia


The Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies are going to the 2010 World Series. Not because they're two outstanding clubs, which they are, rather it's for reasons connected to tv land. Last week I reported on Survivor's Boston Rob and Stephenie Lagrossa's connection to the Beaneaters and the Phightins. On We Should Be GMs yesterday I supplied further evidence with former 3rd base coach of the Phillies, Steve Smith, appearance on the newest season of the Amazing Race. Watching the Winter Olympics this weekend, the first gold medalist for America, Hannah Kearney in Women's Moguls, wore a Jacoby Ellsbury BoSox t-shirt under her ski outfit during her winning trek downhill. How can you deny all those subtle hints? You can't, it's official, so go ahead and place your bets.


Bouncing Souls- I Think That the World (Live)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jose Canseco's V-Day Rant

I sincerely hope you all had a happy Valentine's day, since Jose Canseco apparently did not.












Uncensored, the tweet reads something like this (please send your children out of the room):


To all the shit talking f*cks who have something bad to say, all you tough typing sons of bitches do something to me or shut the f*ck up.

Yeesh! So it's true that steroids make men overly aggressive! That, or he's suffering from male-PMS that won't go away, even with that box of Valentine's day chocolates.

Have a nice day!
tamtam

Monday, February 15, 2010

Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend: Review

More Hardball would like to thank the generous people of Press Box Publicity for allowing us the opportunity to preview a copy of James S. Hirsch's authorized biography of the great Willie Mays, entitled Willie Mays, The Life, The Legend. The book itself was made available to the public on February 9, 2010. It is the first biography of Mays to go beyond 'The Catch' and the statistics to paint a portrait of the often enigmatic and complex man behind the smile that won the hearts of an entire nation. Willie Mays played baseball with a passion that is unmatched, and a talent no superlative could adequately capture.

First and foremost, this is the story of a man. We in this society, tend to overlook the humanity of those we raise to a godlike stature, and neglect to draw lessons from formative moments in the lives of those we esteem. What makes this book unique among other biographies of Mays, is that Hirsch was given access to dozens of people who knew and know Mays best. Childhood friends, teammates, opponents, and family all contribute unique anecdotes that provide a well-rounded and accurate portrayal. Hirsch takes care to describe Mays as honestly and unapologetically as possible. Mays himself makes no apologies to his critics and detractors. He is who he is, and for the first time, readers can get more than a passing glimpse of the pragmatic, and deeply thoughtful character of Willie Mays.

The book itself reads less like a biography, and more like a fast-paced novel. Hirsch masterfully edited what could have been a cumbersome amount of data and material down to a succinct narrative of an extraordinary life. I was immediately engrossed upon reading the prologue, and within minutes had completed the first four chapters. The book maintains this pace throughout, and it is an enjoyable ride. His strengths as a writer are evident in that it is not his voice that comes through, but those of his subjects. He brings an added dimension to Mays' story by breathing life the people who helped shape him, like his father 'Cat' Mays, his Aunt Sarah, and his many coaches and colleagues. Hirsch also handles the racial themes that served as an undercurrent to both Mays' life and life in America without glossing over any realities, or being too inflammatory.

Mays' legacy as baseball's first five-tool player is well documented in this book. From the apocryphal tale of his birth - where the doctor exclaimed "My God, look at those hands!" - to the very early training received from his father (himself a semi-professional baseball player) Mays seemed destined to be a phenomenal baseball player. While with the Birmingham Black Barons, his precociousness was humbled a bit by his more athletic teammates and his tough-as-nails coach, Piper Davis. Despite his obvious natural talents, Mays saw himself as an entertainer, and made sure to put on a show for the audience. It was this and his love for the game that propelled him at the young age of 20 to a brief stint in Triple-A, where he was almost immediately catapulted into the Major Leagues with the New York Giants.

His skills and passion helped him to become a public figure upon his arrival in New York, a reality that was often too much for the very private Mays to deal with. As a black baseball player, he was compared to Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, and Roberto Clemente and was all too often criticized for his apparent lack of political activism during the tumultuous Civil Rights Movement. Mays himself believed that by being the best person and baseball player he could be would do more to promote racial tolerance than being confrontational and adversarial. Despite being called an Uncle Tom on many occasions, Mays stuck to his own personal ethic and persevered. Mays unintentionally irritated some black players by making the sport appear effortless. Few people knew the physical toll Mays' exuberance and skill would have on him. Several times throughout his career, Mays was hospitalized after working himself into sheer exhaustion.

I never had the privilege of watching Mays play, but his legacy is such that many interviews with the talents of today acknowledge the astounding abilities of this great baseball player. After reading Hirsch's Willie Mays: The Life, The Legacy I feel as if I have not only been able to witness the rise of Mays' star, but I also came away with an understanding of who the man himself is. This book is encyclopedic in scope, but arresting in content and execution. It is an exemplary acknowledgement of a truly transcendental figure in baseball's history.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy VD!


No dumbass, the "VD" isn't for venereal disease, it's for Valentine's Day. We Should Be GMs thinks the holiday is pointless and took it as the perfect opportunity to mock the Mets.


*UsTailgate has a copious collection of Jessica White pictures from the 2010 Sports Illustrate Swimsuit Edition. Now that makes for a happy Valentine's Day.

*Baseball Musings is profiling MLB players from A-Z, and on this particular one he checks in on my homie Scott Eyre.


Kiss- Love Gun

Friday, February 12, 2010

Picture of the Day























Hey La Russa!! Come and get 'em!

H/t to ChicagoNow for this unfortunate cover of the 2010 Chicago Cubs Annual

Have a nice weekend!

tamtam

Who am I?



I am a former Philly.

Countdown: Best Baseball Movie of All Time #2



Major League is impressive on three levels. First, the actors are brilliant (even those relegated to smaller roles). Second, the plot is mainly baseball action, baseball action and more baseball action. Third, it's hilarious and makes you feel good. I watch it almost every summer, and for a comedy to lend itself to repeated viewings is a rare thing indeed.
Plot Synopsis: Rachael Phelps, the ex-showgirl heiress to the Cleveland Indians Baseball franchise finds a loophole in the team's contract with the city saying that the team can leave the city if attendance is low enough. With her eyes set on moving the team to Miami, she proceeds to put together a team that is sure to lose. Of course, they win!
Simple and sweet, Major League is a well-balanced movie that will entertain both sports enthusiasts as well as people who don't even know the first thing about baseball. Lots of baseball action, one simple (but well-crafted) romantic subplot, and a cast of hilarious and fun-to-look-at characters make this one of the most engaging comedy movies of all time.

On another note, the screen presence of every actor and actress in this movie is phenomenal. Sheen, Beringer, Corbin, Rene Russo and Wesley Snipes all in the same movie acting at the top of thier game. Even those minor characters like Cerrano, Bob Ucker and the old veteran pitcher are acting thier hearts out here. It's literally an All-Star team of great actors!

Survivor Predicts 2010 World Series


On the 20th season of Survivor, it is Heroes versus Villains which premiered last night on CBS. Representing the Villains is "Boston" Rob Mariano and for the Heroes Stephenie Lagrossa. As evident, Boston Rob reps the patented Boston Red Sox cap he's featured every season he's been on, but new to the fold is Lagrossa's camouflage Philadelphia Phillies hat. She is the wife of Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick. Is Survivor showcasing the 2010 World Series match-up already in February? If so, I hope good (Heroes) prevails over evil (Villains).

*Hat tip to Phoul Ballz for the screen shot of Lagrossa.


Survivor- Eye of the Tiger

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Getaway


My beloved Philadelphia Phillies can't even see the playing surface at Citizens Bank Park due to being buried under about 83.7 feet of snow, yet next week they'll roll out all the gear in an 18-wheeler down to Florida to embark on Spring Training of 2010. As I gaze out the window and see nothing but white stuff (and no fatso, it ain't marshmallow), I too wish I could be heading to Clearwater to bask in the sun and watch my boys of summer shape themselves up for a third straight World Series appearance. As We Should Be GMs so eloquently put it, "it's just glorified stretching and conditioning", but it sure as hell beats throwing my back out shoveling the driveway. Think I muster up enough money to send myself on a getaway? I wish!


Tupac- Can U Getaway

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

It's Lenny!


Yes, that's right! Lenny Dykstra, the beloved boorish outfielder of Phillies and Mets fame, has returned from the grave!


Only a few months ago, Dykstra was said to have been living out of his car, and a few weeks later, was caught on camera in a New York pawnshop, trying to hock his World Series ring. Then, he disappeared for a while, and we all thought that his estranged wife had done him in.


But now he is back! To try and make ends meet, Dykstra has been offering financial advice to potential investors for nominal fees, starting at $89 ("the single"), and going up to $899 ("the home run"). For these prices, investors get personal access of Dykstra's stock predictions.


Ok, fine. I'm all for people making an honest living, but would you honestly want to take stock tips from a guy whose gone bankrupt, been previously accused of fraud, has a reputiation for being an asshole, AND has been sued "at least 24" times?!


Yes, you read that right-Lenny has been sued at least 24 times! One lawsuit's bad enough, but 24?!


Alert brains will ask "what kind of lawsuits?" The weird kind that you read about in tabloids! I don't know all the details, but here's one example:


He’s even been sued by a die-hard Mets fan who was the best man at his wedding 20-some years ago, though that New York investor claims there is no bad blood.


Can you believe that? My question is..."Why sue somebody if you have no beef against them? Are you really that desperate for cash that you have to resort to suing old friends for money?"


Steroid-sized h/t to the fine folks at Crashburn Alley for resurrecting the strange, sad saga of Lenny Dykstra.


tamtam

Countdown: Best Baseball Movie of All Time #3


"The Sandlot" is an excellent movie based on such topics as friendship, baseball in the old lot, and a crush on that beauty you always see. But what about it makes it so irresistable?
For one thing, it's pure fun. Scotty Smalls is new to the neighborhood, and as his stepfather leaves for a week on a business trip, Scotty loses his stepfather's priceless Babe Ruth-signed baseball, thinking it was just another baseball. Seeing him and all his new-found friends go completely over the top to retrieve the ball from the neighbor's giant beast of a dog is sure to prove a great time.
Not to give too much away, but there's another awesome scene at the city pool where Squints fakes drowning just to make out with his crush, Wendy the lifeguard! You must see the look on his face right before he does so!
At the end of the movie, when the plot is resolved and all is well, the movie catches up with modern times (as it is set in 1962). The older Scotty Smalls is the narrator and tells how each of his friends resulted in their careers and such. It may have been done before, but for me, it's a technique that never,ever gets old!
Aside the main plot, there are quite a few other situations the characters get themselves into, including the summer carnival and a sleepover in the treehouse (a scene which sports the immortal, "You're killing me, Smalls!" line, and a so-ridiculous-it's-awesome campfire tale of The Beast). In addition, there's a baseball game against a Little League team which returns to the baseball overview of the movie.
"The Sandlot", as previously mentioned, is an absolute joyride full of laughs, great, powerful, dramatic moments (especially in Benny's dream) and is a very nostalgic movie that will leave you feeling great, as a great movie should. A summer viewing essential.

Monday, February 08, 2010

'Black' History

Since baseball began only eight Blacks (Bill, Bob, Bud, Bud, Dave, Don, Joe, John) have ever played the game. The first Black, Bob, debuted in 1884, the latest one, Harry Ralston (a.k.a. Bud), played his final game in 1995, and is currently the manager of the San Diego Padres. None of the Blacks who played left an indelible mark on baseball; there are no Black All Stars, nor are there any Blacks in the Hall of Fame.

There have, however, been a number of players whose nicknames incorporated the word 'black.' Nine players bore the nickname Blackie, including All Stars Gus Mancuso and Alvin Dark.

- Gus Mancuso (1928-1945), was often called Blackie in reference to his Sicilian Italian roots. He and his younger brother, Frank, were the first Italian American brothers in the major leagues. A two-time All Star catcher for the New York Giants (1935, 1937), Mancuso made his debut with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1928. While hitting a mediocre .265 in his career, Mancuso is considered one of the best catchers of the 1930's, being a key player in five pennant wins (two with the Cardinals, three with the Giants) and two World Series Championships (1931 - Cardinals, 1933 - Giants). He became a full-time pitching coach for the Cincinnati Reds in 1950, and became a sports broadcaster in 1951, where he often worked alongside Harry Caray. In 1962 he was instrumental in scouting for the new expansion team, the Houston Colt 45's. He was elected to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1981, and into the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame three years later.

- Alvin Dark (1946 - 1960), was known as Blackie, partially as a play on his last name, but mostly because he preferred to use a black bat. Dark was named the Major League's Rookie of the Year in 1948 while playing for the Boston Braves. Over his 14 season career, he picked up three All Star awards, all while playing for the New York Giants. Dark was considered an aggressive player and a star shortstop. In 1951, he led the league with 41 doubles. As a shortstop, he led the league three times for double plays and putouts. In 1955, he was the first recipient of the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award for his character both on and off the field. He retired in 1960 with a career total of .289 batting average, 2089 hits, 126 home runs, and 757 rbi.In 1961, Dark became the manager for the San Francisco Giants, and in 1962, he led them to their first pennant win. Dark was accused of being a racist when, in 1964, he was quoted as denouncing the "mental alertness" of Black and Hispanic players. Claiming he was misquoted, and having players like Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson attest to his character, Dark weathered the fallout of this scandal only to be brought down by his own marital infidelity. Fired by the Giants in 1964, he went on to manage the Kansas City Athletics (1966-1967), Cleveland Indians (1968–1971), Oakland Athletics (1974–1975), and the San Diego Padres (1977).

Another, more recent player, is 'Black Jack' McDowell. According to an interview with Mark Liptak of White Sox Interactive.com, McDowell was given the nickname by White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson:
"The first time I even found out about it was when we were in the Metrodome. I was stretching out before the game when Kirby Puckett came over and said, ‘‘Hi, Black Jack!'' I said, ‘‘Hi Puck.'' Then I stopped and thought, ‘‘What did he call me?'' I went back to the dugout and asked the guys and that's when they told me that "Hawk" was calling me that."

A phenomenal pitcher with a wicked splitball, McDowell caught the eye of Sox scouts after leading the Stanford Cardinals to the College World Series Championship in June of 1987. He made his debut with the Chicago White Sox in September. However, after two less-than-stellar seasons, he was returned to the minors. By 1990, he returned to baseball with renewed vigor and went on to pick up three successive All Star Awards (1991-1993), and a Cy Young Award in 1993 after dominating the league with 22 wins, and four shutouts. Unfortunately, McDowell's luminous career slowly began to unravel shortly thereafter. After his award-winning season, he went 10-9. In 1995, he was traded to the Yankees, where he gained notarity for flipping off unhappy Yankees fans. He was then traded to the Indians, where he spent the following two seasons, and spent the last two seasons with the Anaheim Angels. While with the Indians, McDowell suffered severe forearm and elbow inflamation that necessitated surgery. Never able to fully recover, he retired in 1999. Out of 12 seasons, it is estimated that he only played six full seasons. Out of 1889 innings pitched, McDowell earned 127 wins, 87 losses, 3.85 era, 1311 strike outs, and a 1.302 whip. Throughout his career, McDowell also managed to record 5 albums for two different bands, and toured with them during the off season. In 1992, he formed the group 'stickfigure' who, as of June 2007 realeased four albums and has enjoyed moderate success.

The Hall of Fame does have two Black representatives in the form of "Black Mike" Mickey Cochrane and Don Sutton (a.k.a. Black and Decker).

- Mickey Cochrane (1925-1937) became known as 'Black Mike' while playing with the Detroit Tigers during the Great Depression. Generally known for being a good natured and genial individual, he took personal failures to heart, and his mood could become very surly. According to SABR's Baseball Biography Project, the nickname also reflected Cochrane's working man image, one that garnered a great amount of respect among many in Depression-era Detroit. Cochrane began his stellar career as a member of the Philadelphia Athletics. Almost immediately, the left-handed slugger caught the eye of the MVP committee with a first year batting average of .331. He earned his first MVP Award in 1928 while with the Athletics. In 1934, he was traded to Detroit where he also added the responsibility of being the team's manager. That season, he picked up his second MVP Award and played on the first of two All Star teams. He became the GM for the Tigers in 1936, but this promotion caused him to suffer from a nervous breakdown. Shortly after recovering from this incident a year later, Cochrane was hit in the head with a fastball, and nearly killed. This event prematurely ended his career. He returned to Detroit in 1938 as a bench manager, but was fired shortly thereafter for being unsuccessful. In his 13 year career, Cochrane saw post-season action in five World Series Championships. He was a critical element in the Athletics back-to-back championship wins in 1929 and 1930. Cochrane also assisted the Tigers in clinching the title in 1935. Cochrane only saw four seasons with a batting average below .300 (his lowest being a .270). His career average of .320 is the highest among any catcher in baseball history. This fact, combined with a fielding percentage of .980 helped Cochrane to become the first catcher to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1947. Cochrane's prowess on the field inspired a young semi-professional ball player, Elvin 'Mutt' Mantle to name his son Mickey in the hopes that the boy would become a great baseball player.

- Don Sutton (1966-1988) earned the nickname 'Black and Decker' due to his rumored propensity for 'fixing' baseballs. Sutton is the epitome of longevity, spending 23 seasons remaining conditioned and consistent. He never spent a single day on the disabled list, and pitched an impressive 100+ strikeouts in 21 consecutive seasons. (In 1987, he earned 99 strikeouts, and 44 in 1988). In his astonishing career, Sutton went 324-256, 3.26 era, 178 complete games, 58 shutouts, and struck out 3574 batters in 5282.1 innings pitched. He picked up four All Star Awards, and was considered five times for the Cy Young Award, though never received this distinction. He made 9 post-season appearances with 4 World Series wins. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998. Despite his later success, Sutton started his career in a less than auspicious manner, going only 51-60 in his first four seasons with the LA Dodgers. In 1970, however, Sutton earned an era of 3.26, and went on to have nine seasons averaging 2.86. In 1978, he was ejected from a game for defacing a baseball, but was later let off with a warning after threatening to sue. After his baseball career ended in 1988, he became a commentator for the Braves in 1989, a position he held until 2006. After that, he went on to be a color commentator for the Nationals until January of 2009, when he went back to announcing for the Braves.


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