Archive | April, 2011

Way Back Wednesday: Bring Back The Baseball Bunch

What ever happened to the old 80’s kids shows like the Baseball Bunch? I didn’t grow up in the age of baseball on TV 24/7, but I had some good shows to look forward to as a kid. On Saturdays we could look forward to seeing shows like This Week In Baseball (TWIB) with the late great Mel Allen or The Baseball Bunch with Johnny Bench. Both of these shows were kid friendly and helped introduce a whole new generation to the great game.

But what do kids have now? Yes I know TWIB is still around on Fox, but to be honest it doesn’t have the same feel to it since Fox took it over. It’s still a great show, but it seems kids are too busy now to watch it. Are we just a victum of too much available TV? Or are we a victum of the 24 hour networks that show sports non-stop?

All too often I hear kids are intersted in other sports and baseball is falling by the wayside. As someone who has been passionate about the game for as long as I can remember, that is just hard to wrap my mind around. The game has such a history, but when we start to look at the history it seems to deal with a slower paced society. Fathers were playing catch with their sons and coaching little league. Sandlot games were played by the kids in the neighborhood after school and on weekends. Maybe I was just one of the more fortunate ones to experience things like this, or perhaps as Dylan once sang, “The times they are a changing”.

I know this isn’t the case everywhere, but it does seem like life is starting to go at a faster pace. Does this have anything to do with baseball’s loss as the biggest sport in the US? Baseball in itself is a slower paced game than most others. With society becoming an “instant fix” society perhaps the game of baseball just doesn’t fit.

Of course, I don’t believe that and I feel people who don’t give baseball a chance are missing out, but I am biased.

Baseball’s  popularity might not be fading. Overall the decade of 2000-2010 was the best the sport has ever seen attendance wise. However, it seems more and more young players are choosing other sports over baseball. The NFL has become the biggest sport in the US although that might change with a long protracted lockout this next season. In the grand scheme of things, baseball seems to be picking up steam worldwide even without it being a sport in the Olympics anymore.

I guess my main point to this long rant is I would like to see more kids baseball programming. It was such a great show with Hall of Fame baseball players each week giving tips to kids in little league. Add in the greatness of the San Diego Chicken and it was a great combination to not only entertain kids but to educate them as well on baseball and just being a good sport. But I wonder if a show similar to The Baseball Bunch would be a hit today with so much competition on the TV front?

Thoughts?

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How much of a lesh should mouthy fans of teams like KC be given if any?

Does not winning for a decade or two allow a team’s fans to have an outburst against another team’s fan with no recourse?

I got a sarcastic and ill meaning tweet from a Royals fan last week after I posted jokingly that all the Rangers needed for a slumpbuster was to see some KC pitching.

Now I have nothing against the Royals. I would love to see them competative again since it has been a long time. I am even a fan of many of their players, but after I got a “Welcome to 12 wins” tweet I responded.

After the Rangers swept the Royals, I tweeted back, “Welcome to the sweep – How are those 12 wins STILL working for you?” Sure maybe a little harsh but I certainly didn’t need some KC fan telling me off when I meant no harm. I would have said the same thing with any team since the Rangers had put up 11 runs after a hard series loss against LA.

His reply – The 26 year playoff drought rule clearly states “All boastful outbursts by Royals fan must not be met with malice or spite”

Now neither of us meant harm, and I am certainly not upset, but I wonder how much losing relieves a fan of being the target after a boastful outburst?

To me, if you can dish it out you need to be able to handle the backlash. So how much of a lesh should mouthy fans of teams like KC be given if any?

Thoughts?

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Manic Monday – Great Fight from the Past

This is an older fight, but one that most of us remember seeing on ESPN or the news. In this crazy world of baseball fights it seems nothing is off limits. Just look at what happened to Don Zimmer, but that’s a story for another day.

This took place back in July of 2001. Feeling he had been thrown at twice, Pawtucket Red Sox player Izzy Alcantara takes matters into his own hands. From his reaction, I get the feeling he felt the catcher was in on it.

Take a look at this beauty from ’01.

 

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Interesting Japanese Baseball Commercial

I love baseball commercials and over the course of time there have been some great ones. Nike had a great one with Chicks Dig the Long Ball. The Seattle Mariners have had some great ones as well over the course of time, but I have found a new one coming from the hotbed of baseball in Japan.  Hope you enjoy it and let me know what you think.

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Minor League Games vs MLB Games

I love baseball. It’s been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. I grew up cheering for Dale Murphy and the Atlanta Braves courtesy of TBS, and was hurt the day he was traded to Philly for Jeff Parrett. I celebrated in 1991 when we downed Pitt in the NLCS to make it to the World Series. It was the first time I had ever been able to cheer for “my” team in October, and I still hold a grudge against Lonnie Smith. Yes I know this year will be 20 years and its not good to hold grudges, but come on he should have scored on that double by Pendleton.

Anyway, I am going to get way too far off track if I continue down that road. My point is I love baseball and I love MLB. But there is something I would rather attend if given the chance and that is minor league baseball.

I will watch ANY baseball on TV which might make me a little strange to some. I can remember watching the Silver Bullets play on TV (yep that girls team). I watch Korean baseball all the time with no sound. I hate to miss the Little League World Series and I will watch any and all baseball I find on television. But going to a game, I think I have come to like minor league baseball the best.

The stadiums in MLB are the best in the world, but it has gotten so expensive that it is becoming unafordable for most families. If you are able to score tickets at a good price, it will be in the upper deck where you feel a mile away from the game. However, for the price of that upper deck ticket, and in many cases less, you can attend a minor league game and be close to the action.

Sure you give up watching the best players in the world, but the only difference in the players in the minors from the majors is consistancy. There are some really talented young players in the minors, and talented or not they are busting their hump because they know if they don’t tomorrow they won’t have a job. They are hungry to get to the next level. They hustle. When was the last time you saw a star in the majors hustle when he didn’t have to?

The best thing, besides the typical low cost, is being close to the players. I have been to a few games where I was able to talk to players. One game we talked to the left fielder. In between innings we would ask him where he was from, how he liked the small town he played for, and so on. It was great. He was happy to talk to us, and he promised us a ball if he ever ended the inning with a fly ball. Later in the game when we left to get something to eat while he was at bat, he hit a home run right where we should have been standing and after we returned he wanted to know why we were gone for his big moment. It was great to get down to a personal level with a ballplayer. Just a side note, that player has since made it to the majors.

You will never be able to experience something like that at a MLB game. Sitting so close to the field that the players can hear you when you cheer is great. Getting excited and cheering when someone makes a great play only to have them look your way in acknowledgment that they heard you is an awesome thing. Plus its easy to cheer for someone who is not make a lot of money to play a kids game. They play hard, get paid little, and really do appreciate when you cheer for them. Do you think Aroid really cares if you cheer for him when he makes a play at third base. No, he is only concerned about his paycheck coming tomorrow.

Don’t get me wrong. I love MLB games. It is the highest level of the game anywhere in the world. But when push comes to shove, minor league games give you so much more bang for your buck that they are not to be overlooked. After all imagine how many people will have memories of seeing players like Pujols, Jeter, or Chipper Jones when they were young and in the minors. The player that took the time to talk to us that night in left field might not be a superstar in the majors, but he’ll be a superstar to me for the time we shared and his kindness.

So what do you think, minors or majors?

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Albert Pujols – Best Player Right Now?

Albert Pujols is an amazing hitter. At only 31 years-old, Pujols has already reached elite status with some astounding stats. When you look at his worst year in the big leagues, it looks like the stat line of someone’s career year. In 2007, he only hit .327 (in 1 full seasons he only hit lower twice), 32 homeruns  (his lowest total ever), 103 RBI (again his lowest total), and only 99 runs (the only time he was below 100). That stat line is better than most players can dream of in the big leagues and this was probably his worst season in the bigs. Simply put he is a crazy good hitter.

If you add that to some of the other stats he has put up, he is a sure fire first ballot hall of famer. Six times he has hit 40 homeruns, hit 50 doubles twice, the 2003 NL batting champ, two time gold glove winner, a 30 game hitting streak, a nine time all-star, three time NL MVP, 2001 NL Rookie of the Year, six time silver slugger winner, and apart of the 2006 World Series champions.

But one of the more amazing things with Pujols, is how everyone says how great a guy he is. Do you hear that about some of the other big stars? No! I have NEVER heard anyone say that about Alex Rodriguez who might be the best comparable star. And recently 60 Minutes did a gret job showing what a great guy Pujols is. The only hope for this baseball fan, and I am not a Cardinals fan, is that Pujols is never linked to PEDs (steroids). I don’t think it will happen, but in today’s day and age you never really know.

Pujols is not only putting up amazing numbers, but he is doing it in a time where fans are skeptical and they need a star who they know is clean. I think Pujols is that player. Of course, I don’t know 100% that he never took them, but I am confident he never has. That means the game of baseball has a star, and perhaps the best of the biggest, that is clean AND a good guy. In today’s day and age that is something that is hard to find.

If you missed it, check out the interview with Pujols and see just why everyone says he is a great guy. I’d love to hear your thoughts after you have seen it.

Albert Pujols on 60 Minutes – Click Here to watch it on YouTube

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That’s the Way Baseball Go

When it comes to the Josh Hamilton situation, Rangers manager Ron Washington said it best when he said, “That’s the way baseball go.”

There have been a lot of people trying to put blame on Dave Anderson, and some have put the blame on Josh Hamilton. I am not here to pass blame on anyone, but in the end its Josh’s choice on whether to go or not.

It’s definitely not going to be easy for the Rangers in the next 6-8 weeks, but I feel that they are better equipped to deal with something like this than they ever have been.

Sure you can’t replace a bat and presence like Hamilton in the middle of the lineup, but through contributions from various players such as David Murphy, Michael Young, and others the Rangers will be okay. The best thing they have going for them is the division is rather weak.

So let’s get off pointing the finger at who is to blame for Josh’s broken arm. It was a simple case of dumb luck. If he scores and doesn’t get hurt, everyone is doing the claw. But that didn’t happen. Time to move on and keep playing ball. The game doesn’t wait for anyone, and every other team will have injuries as well.

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Goodbye Manny!

This past week Manny Ramirez retired from baseball. He did so not because he felt he could no longer help his team, but because he tested positive yet again for steroids or PEDs (performance enhancing drugs). He would have been the first player to test positive twice for PEDs, although Neifi Perez did test positive twice for amphetamines.

Manny Ramirez was one of the greatest hitters to come a long in a long time. But how much of his greatness is due to his steroid use? How long did he get away with it before he was caught? Those questions will probably never be answered because Manny, being Manny, took the coward way out of this by retiring. Manny won’t take his punishment (100 game suspension) and face the cameras. Instead he will run and hide and count all the money he got by defrauding the baseball world.

I for one am tired of Manny’s act. The circus he brought to the game is a tired act.  I gave up on Manny when he gave up on his teammates. There isn’t a bigger foul that a player can commit than quitting on your own team. I won’t miss him. I was a little saddened when Tampa Bay signed him. I like the Rays and they always seem to be fighting an uphill battle in the AL East. With a guy like Manny on their team, it was only 1 more battle to overcome.

So the only silver lining in all of this is Tampa Bay will be able to move on without further distractions from the Manny circus which you know was going to come sooner or later.

I don’t think he really even cared about it, but Manny will be yet another player with amazing stats that will never get into the Hall of Fame. And in this writer’s humble opinion, he doesn’t belong there.

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Way Back Wednesday – Who would You Invite to Dinner?

Just prior to flying back to South Korea I watched a couple documentaries that included Bill “Spaceman” Lee going to Cuba on baseball trips in Spaceman: A Baseball Odyssey and Gift of the Game. Bill Lee is quite a character, and I thought it would be interesting to sit down to dinner with him one night and talk baseball, politics, or whatever comes to mind for him.

In turn, this got me thinking even more about whom from the world of baseball would I like to sit down to dinner with. We have all heard the question about who you would ask to dinner if you could ask 3 people from any time, but what about baseball?

However, it’s really hard to narrow it down to 3. Can you imagine talking to Shoeless Joe Jackson, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Jackie Robinson, Honus Wagner, or Mickey Mantle?

So here is my attempt, and reasoning behind my decisions, to narrow my list to 3 people from the world of baseball.

1. Ty Cobb – Considered one of the greatest, the greatest by some, ballplayers of all-time, Cobb is a personality that really intrigues me. During his playing days he didn’t have a lot of friends. I just wonder what it would be like to break down the barriers that he seemed to have and get to know the real Ty Cobb. I’d love to get his take on the steroid era, and get his perspective on how players from his day got an edge. Plus I think he would have some amazing stories of fights and other times he was in a ruckus.

2. Babe Ruth – The Babe always seemed to be the cockiest, yet not arrogant like say a Bonds, player from the past. So many times people ask if he would be able to play in today’s game since it has changed so much, and I would love to hear his answer. I think he would have some amazing HSO’s (Hot Sports Opinions) on Barry Bonds, the steroid era, and how the game has change for better or worse.

3. Bill “Spaceman” Lee – His personality is second to none. With him at the table I don’t think I would even have to say a word. He would get the conversation going in every direction but it would never be dull.

So what would be your list? Who would you want to sit down to dinner with if you could?

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Hello Win Column – The Texas Louisville Slugger Massacre

Opening weekend in Arlington, Tx was great if you are a Rangers fan and not so great if you are a Red Sox fan. The Rangers simply beat the Red Sox like a drum. The got good pitching performances from Matt Harrison, CJ Wilson and Colby Lewis. Throw in some good performances at the back of the bullpen and the Rangers had a great series, but that is not where all the highlights came from. Those came from the other side of the ball.

Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz, do I need to say more. Both set records that I never would have thought about.

Ian Kinsler hit leadoff homeruns in the first 2 games of the season – record.

Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz both hit homeruns in the first 3 games – record.

They both had great series and Cruz even continued his homerun hitting in game 4. But it didn’t end with these two. David Murphy had a big series. Elvis Andrus, Mike Napoli, Adrian Beltre and other had some big hits. It seemed like everyone on the team was hitting homeruns, and the Rangers beat up on some of the better pitchers in the American League in Lester, Lackey, and Buchholtz.

Does this mean the Red Sox are done for the year, no. They are nowhere near being out of the race, and Red Sox Nation I have one thing to say to you – Lighten up Francis! I have seen too many blogs throwing a fit like a 5 year old who didn’t get his way. I hate to break it to you but Red Sox Nation is not the only group that watches ESPN. So you had a bad series, everyone does. There are so many ups and downs during a full season that everyone is going to be swept from time to time. It’s better to have it now than the last 3 games of the season. I actually like the Red Sox despite being a huge Rangers fan (basically a convert from being a Yankee hater for years). I root for them in the AL except when they play Texas, but I have to say a few Red Sox bloggers have made Red Sox Nation look like a bunch of whining 5 year-olds. You don’t see Pirates fans getting upset when someone on ESPN says they play horrible. So why are you?

I was glad to see the Rangers come out and play well to start the season. They have kept it going in the 2nd series and I know it is early but I hope there is more of this to come. I still think they make the playoffs, but can they get past a team like the Red Sox in the playoffs? They sure made a statement that will be remembered come September, but its early and there is a lot still to be seen, but I like what I am seeing.

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New Era (eFashion Solutions)

Quote of the Month

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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