Archive | March, 2010

Baseball Memories

One of my best memories of baseball is from the 1992 NLCS.  I had long cheered on my Braves during the lean years of the 1980s.  In 1991, they finally made it to the World Series and it looked like things would really turn around.  Going from worst to first that year was very exciting.  The ’91 Series went to 7 games and was one of the most memorable Series in recent history.  If not for Lonnie “Skates” Smith’s running error in the top of the 8th of Game 7, the Braves might have brought home the title.

The next season brought a lot of hope for the Braves after coming so close to winning it all in ’91.   The Braves once again won the West (still strange to think they were in the West at one point) and faced off with the Pittsburgh Pirates once again in the NLCS.  Game 6 was a hard one for the Braves as they lost 13-4 and faced a do-or-die Game 7.  Through eight and a half innings, the score stood Pirates 2, Braves 0.  It looked as though they would fall short once again.  Then magic struck.  Terry Pendleton led off the bottom of the 9th with a double.  David Justice followed it up by reaching on an error from normally sure handed second baseman Jose Lind.  Sid Bream walked and all of a sudden the bases were loaded.  The Pirates finally took out starter Doug Drabek and brought in Stan Belinda.

Ron Gant quickly greeted Belinda with a sacrifice fly to make the score 2-1.  Damon Berryhill then walked to reload the bases.  With one out, pinch-hitter Brian Hunter popped out to shortstop Jay Bell and it looked like the Pirates might escape with the win.  Then Bobby Cox sent up Francisco Cabrera, the last man on the Braves bench.  And Skip Caray took it from there…..

A lotta room in right-center, if he hits one there we can dance in the streets. The 2-1. Swung, line drive left field! One run is in! Here comes Bream! Here’s the throw to the plate! He is…safe! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!…Braves win! They may have to hospitalize Sid Bream; he’s down at the bottom of a huge pile at the plate. They help him to his feet. Frank Cabrera got the game winner! The Atlanta Braves are National League champions again! This crowd is going berserk, listen!”

If you want to see the play, and hear this famous call, the link below will take you to MLB.com where the video is hosted.

 1992 NLCS Skip Caray Call

That is my favorite baseball memory.  I can still remember sitting at the end of my bed barely able to watch.  I would peak through my hands as they covered my face while I nervously watched.  So what is your favorite baseball memory?  Leave a message and let me know.

TBJM

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The Designated Hitter – Past its Prime?

April 6, 1973, Ron Blomberg stepped up to the plate to face Luis Tiant.  It was opening day and with the bases loaded, Blomberg walked driving in the first run of the game.  This run would mean little in the bigger scheme of things as the Red Sox won 15-5 that day in Boston.  However, the significance of this one at bat was the new position that Blomberg played that day, the designated hitter. 

The designated hitter (DH) has been a source of controversy ever since.  The American League adopted the new rule of a hitter batting for the pitcher in 1973 to help boast attendance.  The idea had been tossed around before (including by Connie Mack in 1906) but was not voted in until 1973.  The DH did exactly what it was planned to do.  It helped boost attendance by providing more offense than that of the National League.  The NL never adopted the rule and has continued to have the pitchers hit.  But should the AL do away with the rule?  Or should the NL adopt it?

Everyone had different opinions on the DH.  Many people like the added offense it provides, but is something lost with its addition?  I feel like a lot is lost.  I prefer the NL style of play where more of the roster is used on a day to day basis including pinch-hitting and double switches.  Something is lost when the manager does not have to plan out all the lineup changes for the night based on when pitchers will hit.  There is a game within the game that is lost, and I feel it is a huge loss.  I also don’t like how AL pitchers can hit a batter without any fear of  retaliation since they don’t have to face the opposing pitcher.

I am also not a fan of many of the players who hang on for years after their prime purely as a hitter in the AL.  I feel that if you can’t field, you shouldn’t hit.  There are two parts to baseball, offense and defense, and I think everyone should have to do both.  This also lead us into the mixed up world of salary levels.  I am all for a salary cap and floor, and who is it that is typically a DH?  It is an older player who demands more money.  This just adds another high priced player to the rosters forcing salary levels up.  The richer teams of course can add the best of the best, while the smaller market teams opt to have a younger player, who is typically cheaper, hit as DH. 

Of course, you have to take my opinions with a grain of salt.  I am a baseball purist who was against inter-league play and Milwaukee switching leagues.  I like things to stay the same.  I do see how inter-league play has helped, but I think the DH is past its prime and should be laid to rest.  Even with this feeling, I am fully aware of the difficulty this would cause throughout all of baseball.  Some pitchers get to the majors and haven’t hit since high school.  Colleges and minor league teams use the DH and unless they were a standout at the plate as well in college, the odds are they haven’t hit much by the time they get to the majors.  Would I like to see the DH disappear?  Yes.  Do I think it is going to happen?  No.  It will at least give us something to argue over each winter.

What do you think should happen?  Do you like the DH, or would you rather see the pitcher hit in both leagues?

TBJM

Posted in MLB2 Comments

Spring is in the Air and So is Baseball

So the other day I am looking over some stories from MLB Spring Training, and I am getting excited about the new additions to my two favorite teams the Braves and Rangers.  The Braves have fallen on hard times after 14 straight division titles, and the Rangers have struggled for some time to make the playoffs.  Will this be the year they get back to the promised land?

This winter the Braves made a few changes with some notable additions and one notable subtraction.  Gone in a trade with the Yankees is Javier Vasquez.  In return the Braves picked up Melky Cabrera and a few pitching prospects.  Most notable is Arodys Vizcaino a top pitching prospect in the Yankees farm system.  The Braves had an arm to spare with Hudson returning to action.  Vazquez had a great season last year, but with one more arm than needed the Braves had wiggle room to make a deal.  The rotation still looks solid with Lowe, Hudson, Jurrjens, Hanson, and Medlen/Kawakami battling it out for the 5th spot. 

What the Braves needed last year was offense and power to be specific.  Hopefully with the additions of Glaus, Cabrera, and Hinske the Braves will have a little bit more power.  Cabrera has the potential to put up around 20 HRs.  If Glaus can stay healthy and get back near his old form, he will provide the much needed protection to Chipper in the cleanup hole.  The addition of Hinske shouldn’t be overlooked either.  He is a solid role player who can fill in at different positions and provide some power off the bench.  Add in a young Heyward who might make the team out of spring training and this could be an exciting season.

I am really excited about the prospects for the Braves this year.  Some of our key players are getting a bit old though and need to stay healthy.  A nice rebound year for Chipper is a key as well and if he can get someone hitting behind hime again, I think that is exactly what we will see.

The Rangers made some interesting moves in the AL as well.  Adding the biggest Ranger killer of them all over the past decade in Vladimir Guerrero  was a good start.  He is relegated to DH duty now with bad knees but he can still hit and will provide some protection in the middle of the order.  With Marlon Byrd now a Cub, the Rangers are still looking at a crowded outfield.  With the speedy Borbon in CF, Hamilton in LF, and Cruz in RF the Rangers look like they have a solid foundation.  Add in a nice lefty in Murphy and Ron Washingon will have plenty of players to spread ABs to.  Offensively I am confident in the Rangers.  Michael Young is coming off one of his best seasons.  Kinsler looks to rebound and won’t be saddled with hitting leadoff the entire season.  Elvis Andrus is only going to get better, and Hamilton now has some protection behind him in Bad Vlad.  There are still some questions with health in Hamilton, and a question of how will Chris Davis rebound from last season.  If Davis can continue to hit like he did after his call up late last year, he will be a solid addtion to the bottom of the order. 

The pitching staff is another question all together.  I like where they are headed, but I am not sure they are where they need to be just yet.  How will Feldman hold up under the preasure of being the Ace?  And how will everyone else fall in behind him?

I was really looking forward to watching some games online via MLB.com, but I was really disappointed when I found out that South Korea is one of only a few countries that live games are blackedout in.  I can still watch them as archived games, but not sure I can go 12 hours and not know the scores.  I’ll have to see what other alternatives I have to watching games.

Less than 3 weeks till opening day in Korea, and 4 weeks till the first pitch in the MLB.  Spring is in the air and it’s almost time to hear those 2 little words that mean so much, “Play Ball!” 

‘Till next time,

The Baseball Journeyman

TBJM

Posted in MLB0 Comments

Korean Baseball Organization is Going Green in 2010

The Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) is going green this year.  In an effort to cut down on the electricity used during games, the KBO is installing new rules for the 2010 season.  Pitchers will now have 12 seconds to make the next pitch.  The first infraction will be a warning with the insuing infractions ruled as a ball to the batter.  I guess this effectively eliminates any possibility that Vincente Padilla would ever play in Korea.

Other steps are being installed to cut down on the length of games.  Batters will be encouraged to go to the plate quickly, and all bullpen cars will be electric.  Some stadiums will also use solar power in parts of the park and some will switch to more energy efficient LED lights.

Korea is not the first to implement such rules.  Japan took similar steps in its professional baseball league in 2008 to shorten games.

I am looking forward to March 27th and opening day here in Daegu, South Korea.

Citizens Stadium - Daegu, South Korea

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Welcome to Baseball Journeyman

I have been a baseball fan ever since I can remember.  I have followed baseball closely since the first World Series I can remember, 1985 Cards v Royals.  I can still see Dirk Denkinger missing the call in the 9th.  This begs the question too, will the Royals ever make it back to prominence? 

I live for baseball season.  There is something about spring and the smells of a game.  I always think back to Ray Liotta playing Shoeless Joe Jackson when he says, “Man, I did love this game. I’d have played for food money. It was the game… The sounds, the smells. Did you ever hold a ball or a glove to your face?”  I was never paid to play, but I have paid to play.  This game holds a special place in my heart, and I live and die with each season.

There are a lot of things I want to see in life, and many of them deal with baseball.  I hope to see as many stadiums as I can starting with each of the 7 stadiums in the Korean Baseball Organization.  This site will be about my baseball travels around the world and I hope to bring you some great stories along the way.

Opening day is not far off and I can’t wait.  See you then.

TBJM

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