Monday, February 28, 2011

I Miss My Saturday Mornings

Saturday Mornings...

It used to mean cartoons. That was before Cartoon Network and all these channels that keep our children brain dead for 24 hours a day. Back then, we had just a few channels and we would drag our butts out of bed on our day off of school just to watch the drivel that all the networks compiled for our pleasure. In my house NBC was king of the Saturday morning lineup, with shows that had a moral underlying and tied into the slogan "The More You Know".

Okay, I feel old at this point and any of you that have no idea of what I am talking about, just shut up and keep reading. I do not need you reminding me that you were "X" years old during this time frame or just a "twinkle in someone's eye". You're young, I'm not, can we move on? Good.

For a short time, NBC decided to mix my pleasures and gave me a cheesy, morally driven cartoon show with a sports theme to it. You see, while Michael Jordan (the basketball player, don't start the age thing again), Wayne Gretzky and Bo Jackson were much more than all star athletes, on Saturday mornings they were crime fighting machines!

The athletes themselves, in live action clips, would often introduce the show or recap the moral lesson learned at the end of it. During the animated portion of the show, often a child would call for the sports stars to help with a moral dilemma and the three stars would race to the child's aide. Unfortunately, their acting talents left something to be desired and the characters were voiced by actors not the players themselves.

The ProStars were based out of Mom's Gym and the proprietor, aptly named "Mom", provided them with gadgets that would assist them in the week's quest. The Neighbor, an elderly man, would fall victim to the misfiring gadget more times than not.

However, wrapped up in all of this was good entertainment for kids that showed them a moral lesson and gave them athletes to look up to because of what they did for the kids. It is a tribute to a time gone by, both for the athletes and the television programming that led to it.

The show never failed to let the kids know that "Bo Knows", however, and entertained the masses for the course of a season and 13 episodes.

Spring Training is in full swing, baseball is back, and there is More Hardball on the way.

I'll go back to the nursing home now.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What does Wainwright's injury mean?

Adam Wainwright might be heading for Tommy John surgery. The higher-ups in St. Louis' spring training camp are thinking this is more than the aches and pains that arise from starting up regular baseball activity again after an offseason of strength and conditioning. Wainwright's right elbow prognosis is not promising according to Cardinals GM John Mozeliak. This would be a huge blow to the Red Birds who are hoping to contend for the NL Central title this season, as Wainwright has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past three seasons (50-22, 87 GS, 7 CG, 595.1 IP, 156:516, 2.68/1.14, .237/.640, 14.1 WAR). With him possibly out of the rotation, what does that mean?

Well, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Gracia, Jake Westbrook, and Kyle Lohse are still there. Minor league starting pitchers Bryan Augenstein, Maikel Cleto and David Kopp are on the 40-man roster, but are unlikely ready for the Big Show. PJ Walters might be the best choice on the roster to take over the back end of the rotation, but he's been beat up when given a chance with the Cards over the past 2 seasons.

Then there's free agent Kevin Millwood, who might just have turned his rejection of a minor league deal from the Yankees into a lucrative opportunity with St. Louis. Millwood remains unemployed at the ripe age of 36. He's familiar with both leagues and has had his share of ups (2 18-win seasons, no-hitter, ERA crown) and downs (16 loss/5.10 ERA '10). Even though his ERA was inflated last season, he still proved to be an innings eater, which he has done consistently over the course of his career (179 IP per season). At this stage, Millwood might be had for 1 year $3M plus incentives, and he might be enough for St. Louis to keep their playoff aspirations alive.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

You throw ball like a girl...

...but I am a girl.

Justine Siegal made history yesterday being the first female to ever throw batting practice to MLB players. She's used to this sorta groundbreaking stuff though, as she's been the only woman coaching in the college baseball ranks over the past 3 years and even spent time as the 1st base coach for an Independent League team.

Anyway, Siegal chucked balls at Indians (that sounds so politically incorrect!), but I'm talking about the Cleveland Indians. Apparently she made quite the impression too...
"If you didn't see the ponytails, she would have fit right in. She did great."
~Paul Phillips/Catcher (took swings against her)

"She made me look bad. She was pretty impressive. She throws strikes. It was very good."
~Manny Acta/Manager (who also tosses BP)

Siegal now moves onto Oakland's camp to work magic on the Athletics batters.

*I can see how Phillips said Justine would fit right in, because at initial glance at the photo I thought it was Timmy Lincecum.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Reality Imitates Art

Watch this trailer for MLB2K11 and tell me it isn't the closest thing you've seen to real life on a video game. From facial features, to pitching motions, running styles, batting stances, and glove work, this game has hit a homerun. Can't wait to play it in a couple weeks!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What am I missing?

I know this is an old advertisement, but I truly don't understand it. Shoeless Joe Jackson playing without shoes and bowl of oranges and some feet with faces on them...WTF?!?!?!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lincecum a Cartoon Evil Genius?

This was sent to us via email. It seems as though Tim Lincecum has an evil cartoon twin.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

Video of Daniel Murphy working out at Second Base and analysis

This video is  from Metsblog   of Daniel Murphy working out at second base in Port St Lucie . He sure looks graceful eh? I know it's early February and he hasn't played all that much at second base. He is a not graceful as we saw when he played LF.. It is a forty- six second clip , so there's not a ton you can take from it. You do have to wonder about his mobility with that knee brace in addition to his range and ability to turn the double play.  That was a worry even before he wrecked his knee.

Murph has gotten hurt pretty much every time he's played second base. I will be fair and say last years injury was because of a cheap shot, and not even the most experienced Second Baseman gets out of the way, I don't think.

It is no surprise that Murphy showed to Spring training a few weeks early. You can not question his work ethic it is his ability to play the position or really any position but first base. I don't think we know what kind of a hitter he is either. He was pretty great in a short sample in '08 and pretty bad in five hundred at bats in '09.  He has a .770 ops in 600+ at bats which would be pretty solid at second base. I get more skeptical as the days go by about his ability to play second base.

I am rooting for him as well as Emaus and Turner because I don't want there to be a chance of Castillo making the team. I think he can be a solid bench player if he loses out on the second base job. He was a pretty good pinch hitter back in '08-09 and had a good approach.  We would know a lot more about him if he had stayed healthy last year.

There are some Mets fans that want the team to trade for Michael Young. I have no interest in Michael Young. He has a lead glove and is vastly overpaid. He also has seen his offensive numbers slip and his road numbers are ugly.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Meeting A Negro League Legend

This article is not one of my own but is from one of my writers at I-70 Baseball. It is a great look at Civil Rights, human nature, and baseball. In honor of Black History Month, various sites are taking the time to look back at Negro League Baseball. I-70 will be running articles all month. I share this one with you today...

Meeting A Negro League Legend
Todd Fertig
I-70 Baseball

Historical research and the proliferation of information on the internet has allowed today’s baseball fan to learn more about the Negro Leagues than in times past. But in 1991, my knowledge of Negro League baseball didn’t go much further than the movie Bingo Long’s Traveling All-Stars.

So when I was told that a former Negro Leaguer was living right there in my college town of Manhattan, KS, I didn’t have much opportunity to research his career. Little did I know that George Giles, living right under our noses, was one of the best players of his era.

I heard he ran a bar that sat in isolation on the south side of Manhattan. To call it a “bar” was a real stretch, however. There were hardly any tables or chairs in the one room where George’s bar-tending consisted of pulling bottles out of a refrigerator. There was no sign to speak of – if you hadn’t known the bar was there, you’d never have found it. On the porch sat one seat removed from a van – a nice enough spot for an old black man to watch the cars go by.

Today I can appreciate that George Giles was named the sixth-best first baseman in the history of Negro League baseball by the New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. (Buck O’Neil was fourth on the list.) He was often called “the black Bill Terry,” which I guess is supposed to be a compliment. Reports from various peers called Giles an excellent fielder, a fast runner and solid contact hitter.

Giles starred on Negro League teams in both Kansas City and St. Louis. Born in Junction City, KS, his career began with a tryout with the famed Kansas City Monarchs when he was just 14. Deemed too young to play on the big club, Giles signed a contract on his 15th birthday, but first suited up for the minor league Kansas City Royal Giants in 1925. He joined the Monarchs at the age of 18, playing the 1927 and 1928 seasons in KC.

Giles joined the St. Louis Stars for 1930 and 1931, helping that team win back-to-back Negro National League pennants. He also suited up for the Monarchs from 1932-1934 and again in 1939. In the days of player stealing, barnstorming and winter league excursions, Giles bounced around with several teams all over the nation. In 1935, at just 25, he served as player/manager for the Brooklyn Eagles.

Giles retired from baseball in 1939, at just 30 years of age. He said in interviews that the hardships of the Negro Leagues and the irritation of racism forced him to give up the game at a relatively young age. Giles didn’t sugarcoat the discrimination that kept him out of the major leagues. He told David Craft, author of The Negro Leagues: 40 Years of Black Professional Baseball in Words and Pictures:
"The racism we faced while I was in the Negro Leagues was one of the things that eventually pushed me out of baseball.... I was treated like a second-class citizen in my own country by people who knew they hated me before I could even say 'Hello'

"People say to me, 'George, you were born too soon to be one of the ones to make it to the big leagues'.... [But] I was born in the United States of America. I'm an American, not a foreigner. For years, foreigners came here and had more opportunity than I had"

Upon giving up the game, Giles worked in the civil service at Fort Riley, KS for years, and operated a hotel as well as the bar in Manhattan. Along the way, he had four sons, one of whom, George, Jr., played minor league baseball from 1953 to 1955.

Though racism denied George Giles, Sr. the chance to play in the major leagues, he did have the satisfaction of seeing his grandson, Brian Giles, play against the best players regardless of race for six seasons in the 1980s, primarily with the New York Mets. A slick-fielding, light-hitting middle infielder, Brian Giles was born in Manhattan in 1960 to George Giles, Jr.

The elder Giles died on March 3, 1992. But in January of 1991, fortunately for me, an unenlightened 21-year-old college student, I had the chance to meet him at his humble bar.

The article that came from that meeting was printed in the Kansas State Collegian on Jan. 25, 1991 and will be reprinted in later this month as part of our ongoing look at Negro League Baseball in honor of Black History Month.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

What-If: The New York Mets

It's fun to play the what-if game. Like what-if you were President for the day or what-if you won the lottery. How about this, what-if everything went right for the New York Mets this year. I know, I know, highly unlikely and laughable. This franchise might be better off going by New York Mess instead considering all the adversity they're facing. Bad contracts doled out by ex-GM Omar Minaya, the owners scandal and the trickle down effect on the clubhouse, the back-to-back collapses suffered at the end of the season a few years back. Things are bad, but they could turn around...ya know, what-if?

Below are listed the supposed starters at every position and their 2010 stats, along with my analysis of each, and a what-if scenario.

Catcher- Josh Thole
.277/.723, 1.4 WAR in 202 at bats. Makes good contact, but has very little power. Surprised many by gunning down 44% of would be base burglars during his MLB time last year (compared to 18% in Triple-A). Will likely split time with Ronny Paulino, who is a very competent backup. What-if Thole were able to play adequate defense and bat near .300. Helluva bottom of the order threat.

1st Base- Ike Davis
.264/.799, 73 R, 33 2B, 19 HR, 71 RBI, 2.5 WAR. This youngster could have a breakout season in 2011. He has power, plays good D, and hit for a decent average during his brief time in the minors. What-if Ike bumped his average up to the .280ish range and jacked 30+ bombs with 100+ RBI. We'd be saying hello to a top tier 1st baseman.

2nd Base- Ruben Tejada
.213/.588 in 216 plate appearances. It's difficult to get a read on the Mets plans at 2nd, as it could be Tejeda, Luis Castillo, or even Daniel Murphy there. Basically, it's going to be a hodge-podge of ugly. Tejeda has the most upside given his age and athletic ability, but his bat may not be enough to warrant playing time. Minor league line- .273/.696 in 4 seasons. What-if Murphy proves he can handle the defensive rigors of 2nd, takes over there and bats comparable to MLB slash line of .275/.768. That's good for a 2nd baseman.

3rd Base- David Wright
.283/.856, 87 R, 36 2B, 29 HR, 103 RBI, 19 SB, 3.9 WAR. The NL East is home to 2 of the best players at the hot corner in all of baseball. Wright is a perennial All-Star (5 straight years) and is an excellent batter. His defense is overrated, but his skill set is not. What-if at age 28 (typically a prime year for batters) Wright hits his stride and take his performance up another notch. MVP candidate.

Shortstop- Jose Reyes
.282/.749, 83 R, 29 2B, 10 3B, 11 HR, 54 RBI, 30 SB, 2.2 WAR. A great athlete that seemed to peak at age 23. Is a 5 tool player, but continually disappoints. What-if in his contract year Reyes remains healthy and reverts back to his early career success ('06- .300/.844, 122 R, 30 2B, 17 3B, 19 HR, 81 RBI, 64 SB). That's phenomenal!

Left Field- Jason Bay
.259/.749, 48 R, 20 2B, 6 3B, 47 RBI, 10 SB, 1.1 WAR. Something went terribly wrong for Bay in 2010, but he's a better player than that stat line. Expect a bounce back year from this Canadian born former Pirate and Rookie of the Year. What-if Bay is able to produce like he has prior to becoming a Met (first 7 seasons of his career he averaged .280/.885, 83 R, 26 HR, 87 RBI).

Center Field- Carlos Beltran
.255/.768 in 255 plate appearances. His prime years are behind him because he's practically playing with no cartilage in his knees, but his bat continues to be a threat. Should probably move to RF at this stage of his career allowing Pagan to patrol CF, but his pride is getting in the way. What-if Beltran accepted a transfer to RF which put less wear and tear on his hobbled knees and he were able to remain in the lineup on a regular basis.

Right Field- Angel Pagan
.290/.765, 80 R, 31 2B, 7 3B, 11 HR, 69 RBI, 37 SB, 4.8 WAR. Should have won a Gold Glove last season, but ironically didn't hit enough for consideration (figure that one out). This 4th outfielder finally graduated to starter because of opportunity. He's perfect for CF, but for the time being Beltran is stuck there. What-if Pagan reproduces similar #'s to last season.

Near Locks: Ronny Paulino/C, Luis Castillo/2B, Daniel Murphy/2B/OF/1B, Scott Hairston/OF, Chin-lung Hu/UTL.
Backups: Nick Evans/1B, Fernando Martinez/OF, Lucas Duda/OF, Mike Nickeas/C, Justin Turner/2B, Luis Hernandez/UTL, Willie Harris/OF/2B.
Paulino will likely split time with Thole behind the plate. Castillo should just be released. Murphy is an enigma. Hairston seems sorta pointless, as his at bats could be better spent on Duda or Martinez. This bench is lackluster. What-if Murphy becomes starting 2nd baseman, moving Ruben Tejada to a utility role; and Martinez starts living up to the hype and becomes a fantastic 4th outfielder.

Starting Rotation
Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese, RA Dickey, and Chris Young.
Backup Plans: Chris Capuano, Dillon Gee, and Jenrry Mejia.
48-37, 122 GS, 771 IP, 3.35/1.29, 238:524.
Great earned run average from this group, but, and this is a huge Oprah in her hay-day sized but, they're injured, injury prone, or unproven. Pelfrey is good, the rest are question marks. Santana will start the season on the DL. Young hasn't been healthy since the Bush administration. Dickey could be a 1-hit wonder. Niese is...well, Niese might end up being good too. To be fair/unbiased, this staff has the ability to surprise a lot of people this year and keep the Metropolitans around sea level. What-if Johan comes back quickly and healthy, Dickey proves he's a quality pitcher, Pelfrey and Niese contrinue to progress, and Young remains healthy. That's a very good rotation all of a sudden.

Near Locks: Francisco Rodriguez, DJ Carrasco, Bobby Parnell, Manny Acosta, Pat Misch, Taylor Buchholz, Oliver Perez.
Backups: Chris Capuano, Jenrry Mejia, Boof Bonser, Taylor Tankersley, Tim Byrdak, Ryota Igarashi, Blaine Boyer.
K-Rod has a bad reputation and needs to win back Mets fans' hearts and trust, while the rest of the group is mediocre. Well, Ollie Perez actually sucks, but he's the exception. What-if Carrasco proves to be a dependable middle innings eater, Parnell continues to progress, Perez gains some control, K-Rod stays out of trouble, Buchholz stays healthy, and Acosta shows some of the promise he had while with Atlanta. This bullpen would then be respectable.

So, what-if everything did go right for the Mets. Well, they'd have a formidable offense, very good pitching staff, and a legitimate shot at contention (albeit for a Wild Card spot, Philly has the NL East wrapped up).

Contributions from We Should Be GMs:
1. Ranking NL East Catchers
2. Ranking NL East First Basemen
3. Ranking NL East Second Basemen
4. Ranking NL East Third Basemen
5. Ranking NL East Shortstops
6. Ranking NL East Left Fielders
7. Ranking NL East Center Fielders
8. Ranking NL East Right Fielders
9. Ranking NL East Starting Rotations
10. Ranking NL East Bullpens
11. Ranking NL East Benches

*It should be noted I am not a Mets fan; in fact I hate them because my favorite team is the Philadelphia Phillies. I just thought it would be fun to explore the best possible outcome for them, seeing that they've seemed to hit rock bottom.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Can We Get Back To Baseball Now

I am a football fan. There, I admitted it. I hope you're happy.

I am not a football fanatic, however. While I watched every minute of the Super Bowl (and the commercials), I had no vested interest. I'm a Chiefs fan and well, let's just let that die, shall we?

Congrats to the Packers for bringing the trophy back home to the place that gave it a name. It was a great game and they deserved the win in the end.

Now, can we focus on baseball? Pitchers and Catchers report in a week. Don't get me wrong, that still leaves little to talk about other than grown men playing catch for a few weeks, but damn it is going to be nice to hear the crack of a bat or the smack of the glove again.

For those of you thinking it right now, I really do not care to hear your opinions on why I should be watching hockey, basketball, NASCAR, or lacrosse at this point. The Super Bowl is over, there is only one thing I want to hear right now.

My blood burns for it, my heart pumps it, and my mind drifts away to it. The green grass of the outfield. The dust of the infield. The sounds of "Hot Dogs", "Cold Beer" and "Ice Cold Lemonade" wake me from my dreams. The names Pujols, Jeter, Wilson and Mauer draw my attention. The sweet sound of the man in blue yelling "PLAY BALL!" and the organ encouraging the crowd.

Yes, folks, I've got baseball fever. I've got it bad. There's only one cure.

More Hardball.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Sexy in Philadelphia

Not only does Philadelphia boast the premier team of the National League, they also have some fine looking lady fans. Feast your eyes on these lovely morsels....

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Baseballs Can Do Scary Things

Sitting at home on your sofa and bitching at a batter for bailing on a fastball is easy to do because you're not the one in the batter's box. Watch this video and then tell me if you'd be so cocky and brave.