Archive | May, 2010

Halladay Throws Perfecto

It was a crazy Saturday around Major League Baseball. Three separate incidents stand out from Saturday’s games. Sadly, two of them are not something you want to see happen. Let’s start with the good first.

Roy Halladay threw the 20th perfect game in history on Saturday and the 2nd of the season. He pulled this feat off against the Florida Marlins, and strangely the last 3 perfect games thrown over the last 2 years have been against Florida teams (the previous two being the Tampa Bay Rays). This is the first time in history that 2 perfect games have been thrown in the same season, let alone the same month (Dallas Braden did it on May 9th). Throw in the Ubaldo Jimenez no-hitter and it has been quite the year for pitchers so far.

With only 20 perfect games in history you might think that it is the hardest thing to do, but you would be wrong. There are two other accomplishments that have happened even fewer times. First of all, the unassisted triple play with only 15 occurrences in history (5 of them have come in the 2000s).

But perhaps the most difficult is the natural cycle with only 14 occurrences in the history of baseball.  You might be asking yourself, is a natural cycle different than a cycle?  Yes, it is.  A natural cycle occurs when the hitter has his hits in order of single, double, triple, homerun.  Gary Mathews Jr. was the last to pull off this feat while with Texas in 2006 against the Detroit Tigers.

From the column of don’t celebrate too early, Kendry Morales hit a walk-off grand slam in the 10th inning against Seattle on Saturday, but wasn’t able to walk off the field.  As Morales approached home plate surrounded by his teammates, he leaped into the air and landed awkwardly on home plate.  He twisted his angle and went down hard breaking his leg.  It was a freak accident but it will surely change the way the Angels celebrate throughout the rest of the season.

Perhaps the most gruesome site of the day came in New York when David Huff was hit by an Alex Rodriguez line drive.  The ball glanced off the side of his head and went all the way into right field.  It’s never a fun sight to see and even Arod was shaken up after the play.  Hopefully David Huff will make a full recovery with no damage done.  That is the most important thing at the moment.  If he is able to pitch again one day will just be icing on the cake.  Above is a video of the line drive.  Watch at your own free will, but know it’s a pretty shocking video.

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Ken Burns “The Tenth Inning” Coming Soon

Ken Burns “Baseball” is the most complete documentary on the sport.  Of course there are sections that could have been expanded on, but when you are dealing with over 100 years to document it can be difficult to include everything.  Especially when dealing with budgets and time constraints.  However, “Baseball” is a great series and it’s about to get a little bit better.

PBS will air “The Tenth Inning” on September 28 and 29 of this year, just before the playoffs begin.  This is a 4-hour piece that will cover the sport from 1994 to the present.  It will deal with the steroids era along with other aspects of the game over the past 15 years.  A DVD will be available a week later with 2 additional hours of material.

I know I will be eagerly awaiting the release of “The Tenth Inning”.  I have seen the original series countless times learning something new each time.  It’s a fascinating series and if you haven’t seen it yet, I highly suggest picking it up.

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Hello Win Column! Braves Score 7 in Ninth

Hello Win Column gives me the chance to talk about great come from behind wins, and there happened to be one on Thursday this week.

The game looked like it might be a pitchers duel with two up and coming superstars in the making.  Tommy Hanson of the Braves looked to rebound from a poor start against Arizona.  Coming into the game Hanson’s ERA was just under 3, and he was putting up solid numbers.  On the other side of the field was Mike Leake who came into the game with a 4-0 record and an ERA of just over 3.  Leake has not spent any time in the minors going from Arizona State straight to the big leagues after being the 8th overall pick last summer.

This was anything but a pitchers duel from the beginning.  Leake lived up to his end of it giving up only 1 earned run in 6 innings, but once again Hanson pitched poorly.

I put on the game late last night via MLB.com but quickly turned if off after Cincinnati went up 5-0 in the 2nd inning.  Unfortunately they weren’t done yet.  Hanson would give up 8 runs in 1.2 innings before giving way to the pen.

The Braves would put a few runs on the board, but after 8.5 innings the score stood at 9-3. Then came the bottom of the 9th.

The Reds pen had retired 11 straight heading into the 9th.  Then Glaus led off the inning with a soft single and the flood gates opened.  Eric Hinske followed with a solid single to right putting 2 men on with no outs.  Escobar loaded the bases on what should have been the 4th Reds error made by shortstop Orlando Cabrera.  Nate McLouth got the scoring going with a rocket single to right plating Glaus and Hinske making the score 9-5.  Dusty Baker had seen enough of Lincoln and went to the pen again to bring in Nick Masset.

Masset promptly walked David Ross to load the bases.  NL hits leader Martin Prado then grounded into what should have been a double play, but Miguel Cairo bobbled the ball at third base allowing a run to score making it 9-6 with the bases still loaded.  Dusty Baker quickly pulled the plug on Masset and brought in his left specialist Arthur Rhodes.

Who does Rhodes have to face immediately? None other than the Braves new phenom Jason Heyward.  The 40 year-old Rhodes pitched well and struck out the 20 year-old Heyward.  With the pitchers spot coming up (the Braves had pulled Chipper Jones in an earlier double switch) 1 out and the bases loaded, Baker went to his closer Francisco Cordero.  Bobby Cox countered with pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad.

Conrad battled Cordero fouling off several pitches.  Then with the count 2-2, Conrad takes a Cordero fastball to the opposite field.  It looked like it would be a sacrifice fly.  Lance Nix made a play on the ball at the wall and the ball glanced off of his glove over the wall for a walk-off grand slam.  Even Conrad thought Nix caught the ball.  After he rounded first he threw his hands up over his head in frustration and turned around facing the dugout.  Only then, as his teammates were running out onto the field, did Conrad turn around to see he had a walk-off slam.

It was a great comeback win that put the Braves over .500 for the first time in awhile.  You hear it all the time that baseball is a game of inches.  Thursday’s game was one of those instances.  An inch or two to the right and Nix pulls that in for an out and the Braves are looking to score 3 more runs vs the Reds closer.

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Way Back Wednesday – Pensacola Pelicans

Another segment I hope to bring you on a weekly basis is Way Back Wednesday.  This will be a look at old games, players, stadiums visited, long HRs, or anything else I desire really.

Today I want to take a look back at my 32nd Birthday.  My niece and nephew were in town, so the three of us and my Dad went to the local minor league baseball game.

Nicholas and Katrina getting Pelican's Mascot Scoop's autograph

The Pensacola Pelicans play in the independent American Association.  The Pelicans play at Pelican Park, which is also home to the University of West Florida Argonauts.  It’s a nice park on the campus of UWF, and the baseball is definitely worth watching.

Pelican Park

The game the day before got suspended due to rain, so we got there in time to see the end of  game 1.  The Pelicans finished off the Shreveport Sports 8-1 in game 1, and went onto win game 2 4-1 for a three game sweep.

The baseball action was good and exciting, and being there with my niece and nephew was a blast.  Everything under the sun was eaten from hot dogs, to nachos, to cotton candy.  It was a junk food free for all. During the game we won one of the between inning giveaways.  We won because Katrina’s ticket number matched the winning number.  The prize was supposed to be a free car wash from a local business, but they didn’t have that when my Dad went to pick up the prize.  Instead they gave him a $25 gift certificate to a local restaurant which turned out to be even better.

Game Action

Part of the greatness of minor league baseball, especially independent ball, is the access to the players.  After the game the players line up to sign autographs for anyone who wants one and they do it with a smile on their face.  So after the game, we watched as Nicholas and Katrina both lined up to get a few autographs on the football the team gave away prior to the game.

Overall it was a great time.  I enjoyed being with everyone at the game, and let’s face it, I had fun because I was at a baseball game.  I love going to Pelican games.  The atmosphere is always great, and the action on the field is second to none.  So if you are even in town, drop by and check out a game.  You won’t be sorry.

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Manic Monday – The Bullpen Gospels

Another one of my new segments is Manic Mondays.  I plan to bring you the crazier side of baseball.  Today I want to start with a book review.

I recently found a bookstore in Seoul who carries a large selection of English books and better yet, baseball books.  I was excited to find out they had the new release The Bullpen Gospels by Dirk Hayhurst.  I ordered it right away and it has not disappointed.  Hayhurst spent several seasons in the minors with the San Diego Padres and wrote about his time in the minors.

This book is a must read for any baseball fan.  The stories he tells are more than just about long road trips in the minor leagues.  Hayhurst also hits on the life of a minor leaguer and how its not always sunshine and roses.  But don’t get me wrong, there are some lough out loud stories as well.  I was reading the other day in my local coffee shop and getting all sorts of funny looks from the fact I could not stop laughing while reading this book.

Currently Dirk Hayhurst is with the Toronto Blue Jays but on the 60-day DL. Hopefully he will return to his 2009 form that made him a valuable reliever for the Jays.

So give it a chance and check it out.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.  It’s the funnies book on life as a professional ballplayer since the classic Ball Four.  It should be available at any local bookstore, or if you want to help me out click on the Amazon.com link below to order and have it shipped to your door.

Posted in Books, Manic Monday, Reviews0 Comments

Hello Win Column!

I have been looking into adding some regular posts and figured I would start with a segment I will call, Hello Win Column!  This will be a periodical look at the standings, power rankings, and other things such as great wins.

This week I thought I would take a look at the standings for the first 36 games (22.2% of the season).  So let’s go through division by division and see where the surprises and disappointments are.

AL East

I think here we have one of the biggest surprises so far.  The Tampa Bay Rays are not only in first place, but have the best record in baseball.  Now don’t get me wrong, in no way is them having a good record surprising.  I think everyone felt this team would contend, but I don’t think they thought this team would play this good so far.  The Yankees are right behind the Rays which is not surprising, but the order of the next two teams is.  Toronto, with hot hitting Vernon Wells, is in 3rd while Boston is struggling around .500 in 4th.  The Red Sox are scoring runs, but giving up more.  And with little fanfare the Orioles are in the basement of the East with the worst record in baseball.

AL Central

Before the season I felt this division was wide open.  So far it is a two team race that could come down to the wire.  Right now the Twins lead Detroit by 1.5 games.  This could stay like this for most of the year, but don’t count out Chicago getting back in the race later on in the season.  I wouldn’t put must stock into K.C. or Cleveland as they will vie for the cellar here.

AL West

Another wide open race to begin the year, it is shaping up to be a three team race.  It could be wide open come summer with all four teams looking to take the division, but I don’t see Seattle getting back in it.  Right now the Rangers lead the West by 2 over Oakland.  I look for the Rangers to win this division, but it should be a good race all year long.

NL East

Philly is the class of the division here.  I am not sure what is more surprising, Atlanta in last place or Washington in 2nd.  I don’t think the Braves will end up in the cellar, at least not with the Mets in the division.  Philly is clearly the head of the class here and should have no real issues winning the East.

NL Central

One of the bigger surprises in the NL is Cincinnati.  They trail the Cardinals by only .5 game.  In the long run I think the Cards will take the Central, but it will be a fun summer if the Reds can make it a race in the end.  They are young and exciting to watch.  Mike Leach is on his way to a great season.  I would say ROY if Jason Heyward wasn’t in the race as well.  No big surprise that the Astros, Cubs, Pirates, and Brewers aren’t in the race for now.  Unless there are some changes I don’t see any of them contending.

NL West

The biggest surprise in the NL to me is the Padres leading the West.  I think everyone thought that the Dodgers and Giants would compete for the division here. The Dodgers are on a winning streak, but have lost one of their better players to a broken finger in Andre Ethier.  In the end this division will be wide open.  Look for the Dodgers, Rockies, Padres, and Giants to all contend.  In the end I like the pitching of the Giants, but don’t count anyone out.

I look forward to the next month and a half to see where we are come All-Star break.  I do think we will see some changes in the division leaders by then.  It is shaping up to be a great summer of baseball.

For those of you who didn’t grow up listening to Ranger games, the title of this may not have much meaning.  Mark Holtz was the radio play-by-play announcer from 1982 to 1994, then he moved into the television booth until 1997.  After every Ranger win, Holtz would display his signature phrase, “Hello Win Column!”

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Journey to Seoul Part 2

After checking out Mokdong Stadium, I decided to head over to Jamsil Stadium to see a game.  Jamsil is home to the LG Twins and the Doosan Bears.  On this day I got the chance to see the LG Twins face the Hanwha Eagles.  It my first taste of a large stadium in Korea.  The first two I have seen hold between 13-18,000 fans.  Jamsil holds over 30,000.  It was built in 1982 and is next to Seoul Olympic Park.  The stadium also hosted the 1988 Olympic baseball competition, even though baseball was not an official sport that year.

I got there early to check out the stadium and the surrounding area.  It was nice to walk around to see the Olympic Stadium and some of the other things left over from the Olympics in 1988.  There are some nice statutes of Olympic sports around the area and a street with Korean Olympic stars from past years.

I bought a ticket for the outfield and took off to see the inside of the stadium.  The outfield was a nice place to watch a game, but I didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t walk around the entire stadium with an outfield ticket.  So after watching a few innings from the outfield, I went out and got a cheap ticket for the infield so I could see the whole stadium.

The game action was really good with it being tied 0-0 till the bottom of the 7th when LG scored 3 runs to break the game open.  During the first 7 innings the fans were really into the game.  It was a lot of fun to see the action both on the field and in the stands.  The fans here are so passionate and its so great to see.  However, when LG scored 3 in the 7th it really got crazy.  I was fortunate to be on the LG side when the runs came across and the noise was deafening.  Every fan was on their feet yelling at the top of their lungs.  It was a great site to see.

Despite the lack of ability to walk around the entire stadium with any ticket, the experience was great.  The stadium was old but still in good shape.  It is your typical 80s concrete monstrosity, but it had a little character with a different layout than normal.  The bullpen is connected to the dugout so when a new pitcher would come in, it seemed like he was running directly from the dugout.

If you are ever in the area, check out a game here.  Be sure to give yourself a little bit of time to check out the surrounding area with the Olympic Park directly next door.  One of the great things was the fact that it is directly outside a subway stop, so there is no long walk from the subway to see a game.  I know I’ll be back so I can see a Bears home game.  Check out my Flickr page if you are interested in more pictures from the game.

‘Till Next Time

TBJM

Jamsil Stadium

Jamsil Stadium

Jamsil Stadium

LG Twins Fans

Jamsil Stadium

Posted in KBO0 Comments


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There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem - once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit. ~Al Gallagher, 1971

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