Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category

April 11th, 2012

After an Apology, Can Guillen Survive as Marlins Manager?

Ozzie Guillen threw himself at the mercy of the sports press yesterday in an effort to mitigate the damage from his puzzling decision to praise Fidel Castro in an interview with Time over the weekend. My question today at the Daily Caller: was it enough to help him save his job?

I put that question and others to Marc Masferrer, a veteran journalist and persistent critic of Castro:

The Daily Caller (DC): What was your first reaction when you read about Guillen’s comments to Time?

Marc Masferrer (MM): My first thought was that it was typical Ozzie Guillen, talking nonsense about something he obviously knew nothing about, being provocative for the sake of being provocative. Unfortunately, there are many people who really do admire Fidel Castro, so it was not a stretch for me to believe Guillen really believed what he was saying. I also was struck by how insulting he had been to a group of people who through ticket sales, souvenir purchases, etc., will be paying a large part of his salary as manager of the Marlins. He had really stepped into it.

You can read more from Marc at his blog, Uncommon Sense.

 
April 10th, 2012

Talking Mets and Nats

For the second year in a row, I completed an email Q&A on the prospects of the New York Mets with my friend William F. Yurasko. Here’s an excerpt:

WFY: Are the “new” Mets uniforms (really the old Mets uniforms without the black) the best thing about the 2012 Mets? Do you prefer the classic pinstripes or the white “head spoon” home jersey?

EM: While I am happy about the new “old” uniforms, there are some reasons to be interested in the 2012 Mets. They’ve moved the fences in and made sure they were painted with the traditional blue and orange color scheme. David Wright seems completely healthy as does Johan Santana. And seeing Lucas Duda in the lineup every day is potentially exciting. The kid has got a big bat — I watched him hit a pair of dingers on Saturday afternoon — and he has the potential to turn even routine fly balls into an adventure.

There’s one thing I already got wrong: after winning three straight to open the season, I said the Mets were due for a fall. Then they went out and beat the Nats with a walkoff victory in the bottom of the ninth last night. Gotta love it when you’re wrong like that.

 
April 10th, 2012

Ozzie Guillen Praises Fidel Castro?

Before I got on the road yesterday to return to DC after spending Easter with the family on Long Island, I submitted a piece to the Daily Caller on Ozzie Guillen’s public praise for Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Later today, I’ll be conducting an email conversation with Marc Masferrer, an old college buddy of mine who is one of the leading voices online concerning Castro’s human rights record. You can read his take on Guillen’s descent into madness by clicking here.

UPDATE: The Marlins have suspended Guillien for five games. He’s in front of the media right now in the process of trying to save his job.

 
September 12th, 2011

MLB Short Hops 9-11 Tribute

This morning at The Daily Caller, I question whether or not Major League Baseball has its priorities straight when it comes to commemorating 9-11.

One of the more indelible images from the world of sport in the days following the 9/11 attacks came courtesy of the New York Mets. Wanting to find some way to honor the memory of the firefighters, police officers and paramedics who had died while evacuating the World Trade Center, the team took to the field for the first time after the attacks wearing baseball caps embossed with the logos of those first responders.

Last night in New York, the Mets were scheduled to play on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Several months ahead of time, as part of a larger pre-game ceremony remembering the tragedy, the organization asked Major League Baseball (MLB) if it could play that game against the Chicago Cubs wearing those same hats. You’d think the answer here was a no-brainer, but you’d be wrong. MLB said no, with the league warning that there would be heavy fines if any player or the organization as a whole defied its decision.

Needless to say, I’m scratching my head here.

 
October 9th, 2010

Gretzky’s Oldest Son Commits to Play Baseball at San Diego State

Trevor Gretzky, the oldest son of NHL icon Wayne and his wife Janet, has committed to attend San Diego State University on a baseball scholarship.  From the San Diego Union-Tribune:

"The campus is beautiful and the program stood out to me," said Gretzky, son of NHL Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky. "All the coaches were great. Both of us have the same goals, to make it to the College World Series."

Not mentioned anywhere in the article is that the son of a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame will be managed at San Diego State by a member of the Baseball Hall of FameTony Gwynn.

 
September 5th, 2009

What Makes a Throwback Jersey Authentic?

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Not a Tom Seaver Jersey

A couple of minutes ago, Bryan Berg, one of my Facebook friends, posted a link to the above jersey that’s for sale over at Jersey Mall.  Being a long-time New York Mets fan, it wasn’t hard to tell that this supposed "authentic" Mitchell and News throwback 1969 Tom Seaver home Mets jersey was an obvious fraud. 

The first alarm bell: the shoulder patch on this jersey was featured during the 1986 Mets season, Seaver’s last year in baseball when he split time between the White Sox and the Red Sox. By that time, the Mets had long switched to stitching player names on the reverse of the jersey, where this example only sports #41 on the reverse.

What’s funny is that Seaver did wear a jersey very similar to this one when he returned to the Mets in 1983 for a single season before getting snagged by the White Sox in the waiver draft in the following offseason. Of course, again, by that time, the Mets had long since started stitching player names on the reverse of all of their jerseys, something this fraud lacks.

So what did Seaver’s actual 1969 uniform look like?  Here’s an example from Dressed to the Nines:

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The actual 1969 New York Mets uniform.

As it turns out, you can actually buy a 1969 Tom Seaver throwback from Mitchell and Ness, and here it is.  But when you look closely, while it might be an official "throwback" that doesn’t make it authentic:

BSME69H41 W
A real Mitchell and Ness Tom Seaver throwback.

As you can see from this Sports Illustrated cover from 1969, the actual 1969 Mets jersey featured the MLB logo on the left sleeve, not the right, as shown above.  The team has generally featured the team’s alternate logo on its left sleeve more or less since the team’s inception in 1962, with a few exceptions (1964-65 and 1969).

So what’s the lesson?  Caveat emptor, my friend.  Caveat emptor.

 
August 27th, 2009

Leonsis Boosts DC United

Over the past few weeks, DC United has been running short videos from Washington-area sports figures urging folks to come out to RFK for the US Open Cup Final against the Seattle Sounders on September 2.  The latest personality to appear: Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis:

I have to admit I’m taken by this campaign, and how many of the local teams are actively working to establish a sense of community between their fan bases.  Of course, not only does it feel good, but as we’ve seen from more than a few appearances by Barra Brava at the Verizon Center, it helps to sell tickets too.

Fellowship aside, we need to realize that United has more on the line than just a championship. Out in Seattle, the MLS ownership group lobbied to host the Open Cup Final at Qwest Field, home ground of the Sounders.  Safe to say, with the way the franchise has been drawing in its inaugural season, I have to admit they made a great case.

After they lost out to DCU, some Sounders fans complained long and hard, and if the crowd at RFK next week is disappointing, US Soccer and DC United are going to have some explaining to do.

And speaking of tickets

UPDATE: The folks at GoSounders.com are spreading FUD about the whole process.

 
November 17th, 2008

Eri Yoshida First Girl to Play in Men’s League

From Yahoo Sports;

A 16-year-old schoolgirl with a mean knuckleball has been selected as the first woman ever to play alongside the men in Japanese professional baseball.

She impressed in the tryout after retiring the side in an inning of work. She was drafted by the Kobe 9 Cruise, a team in a new independent league starting up in April. She stands 5-feet even, but wants to follow in the footsteps of 6’2″ knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. It will be interesting to see if she makes the team and how she does.

 
October 26th, 2008

If Phillies Win in 5, Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Kaduk Could Lose

From the man himself, referring to the mood of Phillies fans;

I can only hope that it remains as jubilant because I just realized that my rental car is a prime target for vandalism should the Phillies lose tonight or Monday.

Yup, you guessed it. Of all the possible states it could have come from, my car has Florida plates.

Talk about having the wrong plates at the wrong time.

 
July 31st, 2008

Manny Era Over in Boston

Today was officially the end of an era in Boston when Manny Ramirez was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-way deal that included the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Being a lifelong Red Sox fan, I have mixed reactions about the deal.

For starters, the Sox won’t feel the same again as there will no longer be the Manny presence both at the plate and in left field. He was a slacker, an offensive threat, and a comedian all at the same time. Of course we would get upset and be disgusted when he would barely step out of the box on a ground ball or fail to run out a long drive when he thought he sent it out of the yard.

But as soon as he drove one over the Green Monster or slid into second with one of his patented doubles in the left field gap, all was forgiven. He was again loved, and considered a key player in the drive for a championship.

Manny was allowed to be quirky and restless, since we all knew he would get it done down the stretch when it really mattered. This was the fourth straight year Sox fans, and the rest of baseball, had to endure the Manny trade talks. Every year it came up, and every year he ended the season in a Red Sox jersey.

But this year it was different. This was the last year in Manny’s contract, with a 20 million dollar option for next season. Unfortunately his hijinks have become more of a distraction, and his production has slowly decreased. He was at his peak from ’03-’05, putting up huge numbers in RBIs, Runs, and Home Runs. The past two seasons have seen those numbers drop off noticeably, especially in the RBI category. He publicly berated the Red Sox organization to the press and threw Red Sox traveling secretary Jack McCormick to the floor several weeks ago. He was always out there, but this season he overstepped his boundaries.

Instead of dealing with him for the rest of the season, and then losing him to free agency with nothing in return (there was no way the Sox would pick up his options) they dealt him to get something back. Now Jason Bay will never be Manny Ramirez. He isn’t nearly as good a hitter, and will be downright dull in comparison. But he will be a good fielder, a solid baserunner, and a positive presence. He won’t be a “space cadet”, as Jeff Passan has called Manny. While he won’t quite have the pop Manny did, he’ll be a much better player in other ways.

But now Manny will head to Los Angeles, where he’ll feel at home running around like the crazy celebrity he is. He’ll be the big man on campus for the Dodgers, and he’ll be hailed as the man to bring LA to the playoffs.

Apparently Ramirez’s skills no longer outweighed the negative impact he had on the organization. In the end Boston had enough of “Manny being Manny” and finally unloaded what has clearly become a problem onto someone else.

 
April 2nd, 2008

Bill James on Baseball

Bill James was kind enough to answer a raft of questions from the readers of the Freakanomics blog at the New York Times. There are plenty of gems within, but this question gave me the biggest belly laugh:

Q: Has looking at the numbers prevented you from actually just enjoying a summer day at the ballpark? Have we all forgotten the randomness of human ballplayers? By reducing players to just their numbers can we lose sight of the intangibles such as teamwork, friendships, and desire.

A: Does looking at pretty women prevent one from experiencing love? Life is complicated. Your efforts to compartmentalize it are lame and useless.

Now you know what it’s like to pull up to the intellectual drive-through and have them refuse to take your order.

 
February 25th, 2008

Phillies Kyle Kendrick Traded to Japan

At least that was the story behind the elaborate prank on Phillies youngster Kendrick. Many people in the organization, including the media, manager Charlie Manuel, assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., and Kendrick’s agent, Joe Urbon, were in on the prank orchestrated by pitcher Brett Meyers.

Just watching the video elicits a mix of humor and sympathy. Kendrick is the epitome of the team player who doesn’t question what happened, just accepting it for the better of the team. You can just see his face when he finds out that he just doesn’t know what to do. After playing along for a while, Meyers tells Kendrick what’s going on, and his face is priceless. It was an elaborate trick, and one that Kendrick wants to get over and get his focus back on baseball.

But man was it funny.

(for video click the link above)

 
November 10th, 2007

Arkansas Bends Under Pressure Of Photo Policy

Drop by OffWing Photo to get the latest news on Arkansas Activities Association’s (AAA) rule that they own the copyright to all media (photo, video, audio) taken at state championships and to charge fees ranging from $35-$50 for press credentials to events. This policy as written would also apply to parents and fans taking pictures in the stands.The AAA is the sponsoring organization of championship games for public and private schools in Arkansas.

Check out the latest photos from OffWing photographers by visiting our Photoshelter gallery.

Also stop by our new sister website OffWing Photo where we focus on photography, especially sports photography.

 
November 2nd, 2007

Bonds or the Ball

After calling Marc Ecko an “idiot” and showing his disapproval of having his 756th home run ball branded with an asterisk, Bonds now says that if the ball goes into Cooperstown, he will not.

After buying the ball, Ecko held an online vote on what to do with the ball; send it to Cooperstown as is, brand it and send it, or shoot it into space. The people spoke, and asked that it be branded and sent to the Hall. When asked what he’d do if the ball went in, Bonds said “I will never be in the Hall of Fame. Never,” Bonds said. “Barry Bonds will not be there.”

He also noted that baseball does not have asterisks.

“I don’t think you can put an asterisk in the game of baseball, and I don’t think that the Hall of Fame can accept an asterisk,” Bonds said. “You cannot give people the freedom, the right to alter history. You can’t do it. There’s no such thing as an asterisk in baseball.”

But in fact you can give people freedom to do what they wish with homer 756. Marc Ecko bought it, and can do whatever he damn pleases with it. Bonds may not like it, but it’s not up to him. He could have bought the ball himself and made sure nothing happened to it if he really wanted to.

In the end they probably won’t link Bonds to steroids, he’ll make the Cooperstown, and both him and the ball will be there. He may be upset, but as they say, time heals all wounds.

 
September 10th, 2007

Don’t Try This At Home

Simply the cruelest prank in human history.

Now, did I laugh? Of course I did.

Somehow, I don’t think the Yankees are amused.

For more details, including wondering if it’s all real, visit With Leather.

 
August 31st, 2007

The Bronx Is Burning, Inside Out

Last night I did a quick capsule review of the ESPN miniseries, The Bronx Is Burning. Now Baseball Crank, who read the book that inspired the series, but didn’t watch the television program, has his own review of the book.

 
August 28th, 2007

The Bronx Didn’t Need To Burn

I just finished up watching the final episode of the ESPN miniseries, The Bronx Is Burning, and I have to admit that there was plenty that I liked over the past eight episodes — and that’s saying something coming from a New York Mets fan who came of age in the shadow of a Yankees team that would go to four World Series and win two over six seasons.

John Turturro was simply incredible as Billy Martin, getting into the volatile manager’s skin and teaching us all something about that man’s chaotic and lonely existence. Oliver Platt did about the best he could as Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner, while Daniel Sunjata, better known for his work as a New York City fireman on FX’s Rescue Me, did manage to capture something of the soul of Reggie Jackson, even if he could never manage to mimic his powerful swing.

But as the game footage from the ABC Sports archives started to dominate the action over the last three episodes, the miniseries lost quite a bit of punch. Keeping the audience in suspense when everyone knows how the story will end is something that prevents a lot of sports films from being made, and it was a shame to see TBIB fall victim to that over the last three weeks.

In the end, I couldn’t help but feel that there were more stories to be told, especially after catching the “Backstory” segment at the end of every episode. Sure, Jackson, Martin and Steinbrenner dominated the news in and around the 1977 Yankees, but something tells me there was more to hear from folks like Yogi Berra, Willie Randolph, Graig Nettles, Lou Pinella, Bucky Dent and many others.

In fact, had I been producing the series, I might have gone back to the drawing board and simply tried to make an HBO-style documentary that told the story of the Yankees from the Steinbrenner purchase all the way through to their loss in the 1981 World Series to the Dodgers.

Start with George bagging his white whale and end it all with Jackson walking out the door at the end of five star-crossed seasons. Taken together, that’s a coherent era in Yankees history that deserves to have its story told and told well. I’ll be waiting for it.

 
August 22nd, 2007

Orioles Give Up 30 Runs In Loss To Texas

Details at Mr. Irrelevant.

As far as I’m concerned, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer franchise.

 
August 14th, 2007

R.I.P. Scooter

Hall of Fame second baseman and long-time New York Yankees broadcaster Phil Rizzuto died last night. He was 89.

Even though I grew up a Mets fan in New York, Rizzuto’s presence was more or less ubiquitous. Along with the late Bob Murphy — in a nice touch the two were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on the same day — Rizzuto was truly a voice of Summer in New York for 40 seasons.

Like another of his New York baseball broadcasting contemporaries, Ralph Kiner, Rizzuto was as well known for his malapropisms and on-air mistakes as anything else. For some of those, stop by Pop Jocks.

 
August 13th, 2007

Bonds: Cheater Or Innovator?

While I don’t write much about baseball, it isn’t like I don’t pay attention. Which is why, once again, I’m suggesting that everyone take a read of Colby Cosh’s take on how Barry Bonds will eventually be seen in the context of baseball history:

If it’s all true, surely Bonds is the most devious and admirable baseball villain since Ty Cobb. Has there ever been a ballplayer this innovative, this passionate about finding new ways to compete and defy age? I suspect that the future, with its more flexible ideas about body modification and cybernetics, may revere Bonds for precisely the reasons most of us loathe him.

That’s a prediction that I believe will turn out to be all too true.

For other thoughts on Bonds, see Greg Wyshynski.

 
August 8th, 2007

Queens Man Catches #756 On Way To Australia?

Here’s the most memorable footnote of home run #756:

The teeming scrum of humanity in the stands where the ball landed finally parted to reveal the ball — itself an object of obsession, not to mention potential riches — in the hands of a man identified as Matt Murphy, 22, of Queens, N.Y. According to Giants officials, Murphy merely was stopping over in San Francisco on his way to a vacation in Australia, and had purchased his ticket (face value: $13) outside the gates on the day of the game.

That’s one heck of a way to pay for a vacation.

UPDATE: A question about Bonds made its way into last night’s Democratic debate. I know Keith Olbermann moderated, but it’s still a little odd.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The kid from Queens is a Mets fan. I bet that sticks in the craw of a lot of Giants fans. Heh.

 
August 1st, 2007

Ronnie Belliard Flashes Some Glove

I know we don’t usually follow baseball, but you really need to see the play that Ronnie Belliard pulled off last night in Washington.

Thanks to Mr. Irrelevant for the pointer.

 
April 18th, 2007

Revisiting Robinson

Though we’re a few days past the celebration of the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball, you’d do well to spend a few minutes reading Colby Cosh’s extended feature on Robinson’s life.

Though Robinson’s story will always hold a special place in the lives of all African-Americans, his is a story that all Americans ought to embrace. On that day in 1947, America changed forever, for the better and for all of us.

 
March 20th, 2007

The Uecker Stalker Is Baaack!

Does any personality in the world deserve a stalker less than Bob Uecker?

 
March 20th, 2007

The Manny Ramirez Barbecue Grill

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Ramirez is grilling up a sucker.

Apparently, Red Sox Nation has very deep pockets:

How much would you pay to cook up a few steaks on a fancy grill? If you buy it from Manny Ramirez, prepare to shell out more than $20,000 — but it comes with an autographed baseball. The Red Sox quirky slugger with the $160 million contract is selling on eBay a JENN-AIR grill he said he bought for about $4,000.

Current bid: $481,100 and rising. That’s approximately $100,000 more than the MLB minimum salary for 2007.

 
February 6th, 2007

Visiting The “Natosphere”

In today’s edition of The Washington Post, Nationals beat writer Barry Svrluga introduces Washington to the growing number of blogs that cover the Washington Nationals.

Front and center is an old friend, Chris Needham:

The e-mail popped in, and Chris Needham took a minute to digest it. The sender was easily identifiable: Stan Kasten is the president of the Washington Nationals, the baseball team about which Needham comments almost daily via his blog.

Needham had just published an entry titled “StanSpeak,” in which he took the liberty of “translating” Kasten’s words for the club’s fan base, a smart-alecky but smart look at what the man who runs the club might really be thinking.

Needham opened the e-mail cautiously. He knows about this?

“I had suspicions that they read this stuff,” Needham said. “But when a suspicion becomes a reality, it’s surreal.”

The surreal part might not be that team executives read and comment about sites such as Needham’s “Capitol Punishment,” but that nearly two dozen people — some who grew up in the District, some who grew up in Omaha, some who are Web masters and some who are lawyers — spend five or 10 or (gulp) 20 hours a week producing blogs devoted to the Nationals.

My coverage of the move of the Expos to D.C. was pretty intense for a while, but that seems so long ago now. In any case, I’m certainly of the opinion that Capitol Punishment is well worth your time. Congrats to Chris on the well-deserved attention.

 
November 27th, 2006

Hate Mail: Yankees Style

You know, those New York Yankees fans are all class:

The e-mail inbox of Chicago sportswriter Joe Cowley has been flooded ever since the American League MVP announcement earlier this week, and a few of the 500 messages have included some downright disgusting words from Yankees fans.

A few choice e-mails that made Cowley cringe:

“Hope your cancer comes back.”

“Hope you have a short life.”

Why am I not surprised?

 
November 21st, 2006

Jeter, Morneau And The New York Echo Chamber

Only in New York would Derek Jeter have to issue a press statement after not winning the AL MVP Award.

The ridiculous counterpoint was the Justin Morneau press conference in Minnesota. I saw a clip a few hours ago on ESPN, and had to laugh when the SportsCenter anchor said that Morneau’s comments were “all class”.

Of course, if Morneau had actually seemed happy or a bit giddy at his victory, he would have been absolutely pilloried. His whole tone was subdued, as if he knew he was expected to apologize after his surprise win over the mighty Jeter. You have to credit the guy and whoever is giving him his PR advice, as he might very well have saved himself some serious heartache.

 
November 21st, 2006

Operation Play Ball

Ian Ybarra has a serious baseball jones:

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October 12th, 2006

On Cory Lidle

Just two things:

1) My condolences to his friends and family. It’s a terrible loss for them.

2) Read this post from The Dugout. Yesterday’s coverage on ESPN was the textbook definition of excessive.

Thanks to Deadspin for the pointer.