Archive | April, 2012

Today in Baseball History – April 28th

April 28, 1998 – Rangers right fielder Juan Gonzalez sets the all-time Major League record for RBI in April when he crushes a two-run home run in a 7-2 win against Minnesota. The home run gave Gonzalez 35 RBI setting the record.

Gonzalez would go on to drive in 157 in 1998, a career high. He would finish with 434 career home runs and drive in 1,404 runs.

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Today in Baseball History – April 27

Today in Baseball History

April 27, 1983 – Nolan Ryan strikes out Brad Mills to become baseball’s all-time leader in strike outs with 3,509 moving ahead of Walter Johnson. Ryan and the Astros would win 4-2 over the Expos.

Nolan would go on to strike out 5,714 batters over his career. He is the only one with more than 5,000 and he is 839 strikeouts ahead of his nearest competitor, Randy Johnson.

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Today in Baseball History – April 26th

April 26, 1990 – The Texas Rangers defeated the Chicago White Sox 1-0 behind Nolan Ryan’s record tying 12th one-hitter. Ryan tied Bob Feller’s mark by striking out 16 and allowing only Ron Kittle’s check-swing single to right field in the second inning. He was 43 years old at the time.

Ryan is the all-time leader in no-hitters with seven and he also threw eighteen two-hitters. Ryan would finish the year with a 13-9 record and a 3.44 ERA.

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Why I Love MLB.tv

As you might expect, I love watching baseball. I grew up watching the Atlanta Braves on TBS most nights during the summer. When I got older I moved to the Dallas area and started watching the Texas Rangers about as often. However, when I moved to South Korea there wasn’t anyway to keep up with the nightly games on local TV.

I could watch the KBO (Korean professional baseball), but I work nights and miss most of the games except on weekends. Luckily for me there is MLB.tv.

I don’t know what I would do without it. My first 2 years here I tried to do without it which was just plain stupid looking back. I would catch the occasional game online. But I mostly watched highlights and just the postseason. Occasionally I would buy a month of MLB.tv and watch games. This year I decided to go with the whole year package.

And I couldn’t be happier. I work afternoons and nights here which makes it perfect for watching games back home. A 7pm game on the east coast comes on here at 8am. So my day consists of getting up in the morning, making breakfast, and turning on baseball. It’s great.

Right now it is 11am locally and I am watching the Rangers/Yankees game as Yu Darvish is pitching a shutout in the 7th inning. Here in a few minutes I’ll turn on the Braves game and watch it until I have to go to work at 1:30. It’s a great life.

Not only can I watch any game I want any day of the week, but I can choose the home or away broadcast. Normally I would watch the broadcast of my favorite team, the Braves or Rangers. But today I am watching the Braves and the Dodgers and its a cardinal sin of baseball not to listen to Vin Scully.

If you travel or live overseas, you have to make it a priority to check out MLB.tv. It is the greatest thing for me living in Korea since here there are no blackouts.

Now back to the games.

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Ivan Rodriguez Retires a Ranger

Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez was honored today before the start of the Texas Rangers game with the New York Yankees as he announced his retirement from baseball, and this baseball fan couldn’t be happier.

Pudge will go down as one of the all-time Rangers greats, and easily the greatest catcher of our era. He played 21 seasons breaking into the major leagues at the age of 19. He was a 14-time All-Star and a 13-time Gold Glove winner, including 10 in a row.

He set the standard for catchers defensively during his time. Over the course of his career he had a caught stealing percentage of 46%. That is 15% higher than the league average over the same time period. He led the league 9 times and had 7 seasons where his percentage was over 50%, including 1 season at 60%. He was simply the best defensive catcher I’ve ever seen.

During the 90’s fans go so much pleasure out of seeing him throw a runner out or even better pick a runner off first base. His throws were not only hard but very precise which was what made him so good.

Don’t let his defense fool you though. Most catchers who are great defensively aren’t as good offensively. This wasn’t the case for Pudge. When he first came up to the Majors he was strictly a defensive call up. However, that soon changed as he continued to better himself at the dish culminating in his 1999 MVP season.

In his MVP season, Rodriguez hit .332, 35 home runs, 113 RBI, slugged .558, stole 25 bases, won a gold glove, a silver slugger, and was an all-star. It was quite the year for Pudge. And he would have had a better year in 2000, but he was sidelined late in the year with a broken hand.

In his career he hit 311 home runs, drove in 1332 runs, hit .296, and had an OPS of .798. Not bad for a defensive catcher.

He’ll always have a place in the hearts of Rangers fans. He was a huge part of the Rangers 3 AL West Titles in the 1990s, and he is a sure fire Hall of Famer.

Thanks for the memories Pudge. You will be missed.

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USA or Europe Baseball Trip?

I am torn. After this year in Korea I will have been here for a total of 3 years and 2 in a row without going home. I really enjoy it here, but I also really want to travel. So I am torn whether to try and plan a trip in the US or in Europe.

I’ve never been to Europe, and there is so much I want to see. I’d only be able to go where I want for 90 days due to visa regulations for the region. If I went home, I could travel basically until I run out of money.

There are a lot of upsides for either trip which is why I am so torn.

Europe Trip
1. See new countries and experience new cultures while watching baseball.
2. I would plan on seeing Germany, The Netherlands, and the Czech Republic for the majority of my trip.
3. After spending 3 months there, I thought I might head to Thailand and relax for a month or two where it is cheap to do so.
4. Overall it would be about 4-5 months of travel.
5. It would be shorter and cheaper than a trip to the US.
6. I’d get to see baseball in at least 3 different countries and maybe more.

USA Trip
1. I’d go to every MLB park and quite a few minor league parks.
2. I’d get to see friends and family who I might be able to talk into joining me during parts of my trip.
3. There are still a lot of places in the US I’ve never been to.
4. However, it would be more expensive (I don’t own a car anymore).

Either way I go, I plan on coming back to Korea to teach some more. I enjoy it here, but I might have to find a different place to work.

Perhaps I am trying to do too much with a trip to the US. I was planning for 6 months on the road. Maybe if I trim it down to 3 months there, it wouldn’t cost as much and even then I could head off to Thailand or somewhere in Central America to relax and take a rest before coming back to Korea. I might even get to watch some baseball in Central America and practice my Spanish. I just though of this as I was typing and now I am a bit more excited about the prospects of a US trip.

Time for some more planning, but first I need some more go-go juice or coffee.

What would you do?

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Book Review: Out of My League by Dirk Hayhurst

Originally posted on BaseballdeWorld.com

Former MLB pitcher Dirk Hayhurst made a splash in the book industry with his first best seller The Bullpen Gospels: Major League Dreams of a Minor League Veteran which talked about life in the minor leagues. Now he is back with his second best seller, Out of My League.

Out of My League is about Dirk’s ascension to the big leagues. The book takes you through the twists, turns, and turmoil of a minor league pitcher trying to make his way into Major League Baseball.

Hayhurst may not be a future hall of famer, but he definitely delivers with this book. Dirk’s humor shows through right away from the first few pages where he had me laughing right away. He takes you through an off-season of a low-paid minor league pitcher who not only has to work out and stay sharp but also has to find an off-season job to keep himself afloat.

From the hi-jinx dealing with his grandmother, to finding a car that he can afford that will run long enough to get him back to baseball, to some spring training humor this is a great book.

However, this book is about more than just baseball. It’s one man’s journey on and off the field in the pursuit of his lifelong dream of pitching in the major leagues. During the time before making it to the big leagues, Dirk meets his wife. He tells of this courtship which adds to story as he is trying to keep the chase alive but at the same time making someone apart of his life.

Through his new wife and the struggles he has with making her apart of his life, we see another side of the game that is overlooked all too often. Dirk struggles with planning a wedding and trying to make the jump from AAA to the big leagues. It’s an interesting and emotional ride.

Dirk shows us a different side of the Major Leagues. It’s not an inside look at the underbelly of the league or an expose on the things that go on into the clubhouse, but a look at rookie struggles. We forget sometimes that there is a pecking order that needs to be followed in the game, and Dirk does a good job of showing us just how difficult falling in line can be.

Most people see making the big leagues as the ultimate prize with nothing but gold paved streets. Sure there are five star hotels, and Dirk gives us a brief look at that, but his journey is more than that. It’s more on the mental side of things for a struggling rookie just trying to stay afloat. Making the big leagues is one thing, but staying there is a completely different deal and this is what Dirk shows us.

He gives us an inside look at rookie hazing, relationships with managers and players for a rookie, but he delves deep into the self-doubt and paranoia a rookie can experience while at the same time realizing his dream. It’s a mental struggle that many can’t handle, and Hayhurst shows us why. He shows us the cold side of baseball where if you don’t produce they don’t have sympathy for you. We are shown how a few words from the right person can tear you apart mentally and put enough doubt in you that can be hard to overcome.

But as quick as you are torn down, someone can see something in you that picks you right back up. It’s a rough business and the ups and downs can be brutal on a person’s pysche.

Through it all you find yourself rooting for Dirk to do well, even if you know how things turned out. The self-doubt and loathing that he goes through puts a new spin on life in baseball and makes for an interesting read.

If you read The Bullpen Gospels, you’ll definitely want to pick this one up. If you haven’t read The Bullpen Gospels, what are you waiting for. Go pick up both books. They are both great reads. Out of My League is a great insight to the struggles and mental side of the game that is rarely seen. Pick it up today.

Next I’ll be reviewing Deadball: A Metaphysical Baseball Novelby David B. Stinson, so stay tuned for that in the coming days.

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Movie Review: One Hit from Home

I’ll watch just about anything that deals with baseball. So when I saw earlier this week that a baseball themed movie came out on DVD, I jumped at the chance to check it out.

One Hit from Home is the story of a struggling ex-major leaguer who returns home in the midst of a disappointed career.  He  runs into a bit of trouble and is given the choice of jail or coaching a struggling college team.

It’s quite strange in fact. They say he was a huge disappointment, but when they talk about him playing in the big leagues they make it sound like he was good. The reason he quit was he hurt his knee. They never say it was because he couldn’t cut it. So why was he such a huge disappointment? I don’t get it.

I could go into the story line in more depth here, but I won’t bother. It wasn’t a great movie or even a very good one.

I don’t mind not so good action when they are playing the game, but this was some of the worst at times. At one point a team turns to a hard throwing pitcher and out comes some Incredible Hulk wanna be who obviously has never thrown a baseball before.  Most of the actions isn’t this bad, but at times it is.

The story line was way too predictable and honestly the acting wasn’t great at times. Overall I would rate it a single glove on the Baseball Journeyman ranking system. If you have some time to kill and there is nothing else on maybe give it a shot. However, I wouldn’t recommend paying even a dollar to see it which is why I am not wasting too much time going into more details. It’s just not worth the effort.

 

 

 

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Book Review: Have Glove Will Travel by Bill Lee

I have never seen former MLB pitcher Bill Lee play in person. I was too young to see him pitch during his prime, but I am a huge fan.

Bill Lee has played baseball for what I am guessing is 50+ years now. In his book Have Glove, Will Travel: Adventures of a Baseball Vagabond, Lee tells tales about his days after being blackballed from Major League Baseball.

This was one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a long time. Bill Lee is quite easily one of the most interesting players to come along in the last half century. He has openly talked about smoking pot, run for president, and even became friends with a guy who was notorious for hating pitchers in Ted Williams.

The stories Lee tells in this book give an interesting perspective on the game of baseball. He still plays to this day because of his love for the game. After his release from baseball for his outspoken comments regarding the Montreal Expos, he was never able to return to the elite league where he once dominated. Instead he took his show on the road, literally.

He tells of going to Russia during the Cold War to play baseball which is a good story but mostly for what happens off the field. Lee has never shied away from talking about his partying, and he didn’t disappoint when heading to Russia.

He has taken his game to Cuba several times, and has a love for the people of the island there that shows in his writing about his trips. They love the game in a similar way he does, for the joy of playing it. It seems Lee was born a few decades too late as he would have been a great fit in the era of the barnstorming teams of the 1920s.

Lee was a fabulous pitcher with the Red Sox, and he touches on the Curse of the Bambino giving his thoughts. He always has some interesting viewpoints and when you bring up exorcism it can be pretty entertaining.

Most of his stories are humorous but not all of them. He tells a touching tale of a poor woman in Cuba who is generous by giving him fruit from her tree when she has nothing else to give. All because he was kind enough to come in and say hello to her shy little boy. It’s a touching tale that is moving, especially the second time he returns a few years later.

Despite many people thinking he might be a little crazy or “off his rocker”, Bill Lee is a pretty down to Earth guy. He knows that athlete heroism is overblown, and he points out there hasn’t been a single athlete that kids should look up to except one, Jackie Robinson. He also points out that there are other true heroes out there, and he points to the men and women who stood tall and helped others on 9/11. Those are the real heroes that people should look up to, and I’d have to agree with him.

This is an easy read, and once you get into it you won’t want to put it down. I’d highly recommend it to any fan of the game, even Yankees fans. You can pick it up almost anywhere, including Amazon. So pick up a hard copy or the Kindle version and enjoy.

If you are interested in Bill Lee, you might also like Spaceman: A Baseball Odyssey about one of his trips to Cuba.

Using the BaseballJourneyman rating system, I give this book 4 gloves:

 

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I Plan to Watch 100+ Baseball Games this Year

One of my goals this year is to watch more baseball. I got away from watching last year and only saw a handful of games, and to tell you the truth I missed it.

I have it made here in Korea where I can watch games in the morning before going to work. A typical Braves game comes on at 8am here and a Rangers game usually 9am. This is perfect timing since I don’t go to work until 1:30. The problem for me has always been simply getting up in the morning since I used to stay up very late, think 3am or later.

I’ve changed this year though. I am up earlier to watch games and blog (you can read my Braves only blog at Braves Baseball World), and it has been a lot of fun.

My goal is to watch 100+ games this year. That includes all the game I hope to go to live as well as just a lot of games on TV. I’ll miss most of the games in August when we work in the mornings, but until then and after I plan on watching a lot of baseball.

Plus I have plans to hit up every ballpark again in Korea. This time I’ll be bringing my video camera. I hope to see some of the minor league games here too. They call it the Future League or Second Division. Not to mention some games my friends play in in an adult league, and hopefully some college and high school games.

I’ve watched every Braves game so far this year, as well as Yu Darvish’s first start. I plan to watch a lot of him as well. He’s the most exciting thing to come through Arlington in a long time. I’ll watch more Braves games than anything, but when the Rangers and Angels play, I’ll be watching. That match up is getting heated and I can’t wait for them to square off.

It’s just going to be a huge year for me and baseball. I plan to write a lot, film a lot, and take a ton of pictures. I fell happiest when I am working on anything baseball related. I’ve even tossed around the idea of writing a book, but I haven’t put my finger on the right topic just yet.

So I am about 5 games into my goal of 100. It’s gonna be a fun ride.

I wonder what the record for most games watched in a season is, at least as far as live games goes. I saw the other day where someone set a record by seeing all 30 MLB stadiums in something like 20 days. That’s impressive. I wonder just how many MLB and MiLB games one could take in in a season. That could be a fun challenge.

What do you think?

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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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