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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Posted in MLB, MiLB3 Comments

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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Posted in MLB0 Comments

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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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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Opening Day Memories

Opening Day is romantic, rejuvenating, sentimental, fun, and exciting all rolled in one and to me it should be a national holiday. Baseball is a reminder that spring is here and things are starting a new. For many teams it is the only time of year that many teams have a glimmer of hope.

When I was back in the States working I would use a vacation day to take the day off and either attend a game or sit at home and watch baseball all day long. But with all the good memories come some not so great ones as well.

First, let me take a look at some of the better memories.

I can remember several times waking up early in the morning to catch the first pitch of the season coming from somewhere overseas like Japan. In 2008, the Oakland A’s and Boston Red Sox started the season out in Japan and I was up at 3am (or whatever time it was in the US) to watch those games. Some may call me crazy or say that I am hardcore, but I love it.

Several times I was able to attend Opening Day at the Ballpark in Arlington (dubbed the “Temple” by the guys from Sports Radio 1310 in Dallas). Each time I made it the weather was gorgeous, the fans were lively, and the games were great no matter who won. I love seeing pomp and circumstance around the first game. The pagentry of seeing the anthem being sung by a star sometimes (saw Jessica Simpson sing it before I knew who she was), seeing the giant flag out on the field and either jets/bombers flying over the stadium or the bald eagle flying to home plate. With it all wrapped up in one, it makes for such a great experience.

If I couldn’t make it to a game, my routine would be gathering some “baseball” food such as hot dogs, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and a cold beverage to sit down on the couch and watch as many games as possible. ESPN always did a great job of showing multiple games throughout the day. Then the Holy Grail came along in MLB Extra Innings which used to (don’t know if they still do it) give a free preview for a week.

Missing the first pitch of the season is not something I like to do, but sometimes it happens. This year I just arrived back in South Korea and was a little jet lagged still from the 30 hour trip out here. The first game of the year started about 2am here locally, and I was simply unable to stay up and watch it. It was a little frustrating, but it just wasn’t going to happen. It looks like I will miss the Rangers first game as well on Friday because I don’t have internet in my apartment yet. Again, it is a little frustrating but once things get rolling here again I will be able to watch a lot of baseball since the night games back home come on here in the morning before I go to work.

I seem to have little luck in watching my favorite team play on Opening Day, the Atlanta Braves. This year was jet-lag. Last year I was again in South Korea, but I was up and ready to watch the game only to have MLB.tv not work. That was VERY frustrating. I was up early in the morning and the game was not being shown due to technical difficulties. But this wasn’t the only time I had issues. In 2009, I got the chance to go to Atlanta to see the opening game. I couldn’t have been more excited. For the previous 20+ years I had rooted for the Braves good or bad, but it was always from afar. Being able to attend the festivities was going to be amazing for me. The only problem was nobody told mother nature how excited I was.

The game went into a rain delay as it stormed quite hard. The game was halted and my friend and I went home to watch the game on TV only to have the game to go into extra innings. The Braves did win, I did have a good time, but it wasn’t what I had expected for my first Opening Day in Atlanta. I hope to go back one day to see it once again.

Overall, Opening Day is one of the best days for me, but it really is only the beginning of my favorite part of the year – baseball season. After today there is another 182 days of what I like to refer to as “summer greatness”. Then it gets even better with all the greatness that comes with the fall season and the Fall Classic.

So no matter who you root for, today is a day to renew your love of the game, have faith in your team, and have a little hope that your team will see the light of day in October.

I’d love to hear any stories you have of Opening Day’s from the past.

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Posted in MLB3 Comments

BBA RECOMMENDS ALOMAR, BLYLEVEN FOR HALL OF FAME

Today MLB will announce the newest Hall of Fame class. As apart of the BBA (Baseball Bloggers Alliance), I wanted to share with you who we chose to be inducted.

BBA RECOMMENDS ALOMAR, BLYLEVEN FOR HALL OF FAME

Second baseman Roberto Alomar and starting pitcher Bert Blyleven were named today as the recommended 2011 Hall of Fame class by the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

Alomar, who is on the ballot for his second year, and Blyleven, looking at his fourteenth time, both finished just shy of the BBA’s recommendation in 2010 at just a fraction under the 75% threshold.  As was the case last year, both Alomar and Blyleven received the same amount of votes from the BBA membership in 2010, but this time it was enough to push them into the recommended status.

Both players received 117 votes out of the 154 ballots cast, resulting in a 75.97% approval rate.  Again echoing the vote taken at the end of 2009, shortstop Barry Larkin was the third man in the balloting, missing selection by being named on just 70.78% of the ballots.

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance’s vote has no impact on the official vote taken by the Baseball Writers of America and the members of the Hall of Fame.  However, the BBA has been often a predictor of awards granted by the writers, matching their selection in fourteen of the sixteen major awards in the last two postseasons combined.

The final voting results are as follows:

Roberto Alomar, 75.97%
Bert Blyleven, 75.97%
Barry Larkin, 70.78%
Jeff Bagwell, 62.34%
Edgar Martinez, 59.09%
Tim Raines, 54.55%
Mark McGwire, 44.16%
Lee Smith, 38.96%
Alan Trammel, 35.71%
Don Mattingly, 33.12%
Larry Walker, 31.17%
Fred McGriff, 27.27%
Jack Morris, 25.97%
Rafael Palmerio, 20.78%
Dale Murphy, 16.23%
Dave Parker, 12.34%
Harold Baines, 10.39%
Kevin Brown, 9.09%
John Franco, 7.14%
Tino Martinez, 5.19%
John Olerud, 5.19%
Al Leiter, 4.55%
Bret Boone, 3.90%
Juan Gonzalez, 3.90%
Marquis Grissom, 2.60%
Benito Santiago, 1.30%
Bobby Higginson, 0.65%
Charles Johnson, 0.65%
Kirk Rueter, 0.65%
Carlos Baerga, 0.00%
Raul Mondesi, 0.00%
BJ Surhoff, 0.00%

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was established in the fall of 2009 for the purpose of fostering collaboration and communication among bloggers from across baseball.  The BBA has quickly grown to its current membership of 256 blogs, including some of the most prominent blogs on the internet, spanning all major league teams and various other general aspects of the game.

More information about the BBA can be found at their website, www.baseballbloggersalliance.com, or by contacting the founder and administrator of the organization, Daniel Shoptaw, at founder@baseballbloggersalliance.com.

This is an official press release from the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

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I-70 Baseball Announces First Writers Conference

I-70 Baseball Announces First Writers Conference

I-70 Baseball is proud to announce the organization of the first Midwest Baseball Writers Convention to be held on February 12, 2011 in Springfield, MO.

Baseball writers from around the country are being invited to attend the first ever conference, aimed at creating a networking opportunity for writers to exchange ideas and meet with industry professionals that can assist them in expanding their reach within their industry.

Attendees of the conference will be allowed full access for the day to the various displays inside of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. In addition, guest speakers will grace the auditorium stage at the venue to discuss various topics.

Confirmed Speakers at this time are:
– Representatives from the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) will be on hand to discuss their organization and offer the ability to setup membership that day.
– Rob Rains will be on hand with copies of his book “Cubs Win, Cubs Win, or do they?”
– Tim Danielson of BaseballDigest.com will be on hand to discuss the collecting industry and the impact on
– A Sabermetric expert will be on hand to discuss statistics in today’s game and their place in journalism
– Experts on New Media and it’s reach into mainstream society

Other authors, professional athletes, and experts in their field have been contacted and we are finalizing the full list of guest speakers and celebrity guests.

In addition, I-70 has asked the United Cardinal Bloggers and the Baseball Bloggers Alliance for their involvement and we anticipate a large group of writers to attend the event, giving the unique opportunity for face-to-face interaction and relationship building going into the 2011 Major League Baseball season.

The conference will be an exciting time for writers to meet each other, learn more about their craft, and build their content to an all new level.

In addition, there will be a private dinner for guests and writers at Ebbet’s Field in Springfield, MO the night before the event on February 11.

Contact Bill Ivie, Founder of i70baseball.com, at bill@i70baseball.com for more information or to reserve your spot today. Attendance will be limited.

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Carlos Pena: A Class Act

Carlos Pena spent the last 4 years in Tampa Bay. He was with them when they went from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and 66 wins in 2007 to just the Rays and 97 wins in 2008. But in recent days, Pena has left Tampa Bay for the windy city and the Chicago Cubs.

Even though his production has decreased over those 4 years, Pena was still a big part of the Rays and all the winning they have done recently. He was apart of a team that will go down in history as the first to reach the World Series in Tampa Bay.

Monday, Carlos Pena bid his city and teammates an emotional farewell. I thought it was a class act from a guy who grew in his time in Florida. I wish him well in Chicago and hope he puts up huge numbers once again……just not against my Braves.

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Thoughts on Cliff Lee

I, like many Rangers fans, were quietly hoping for Cliff Lee to be the opening day starter for the Rangers come next season. But in the end, I am glad he isn’t.  Why would I not one of the best pitchers in baseball not on the team? Let me tell you.

The Rangers typically have to overpay for pitching to get the high quality arms to come pitch in what is simply a hitter’s paradise. As the temperature heats up in Arlington, baseball start to fly out of the park.  And it gets hot in Arlington. Having to overpay for the #1 free agent pitcher on the market just doesn’t make sense in the long run.

I would have loved to see the Rangers sign Lee for 5 years, but Lee said it would take a 7 year deal from the Rangers to get it done. Thanks, but no thanks. For a pitcher his age, its just not worth the long term, and very expensive, investment. Especially since there are other options out there. Zach Greinke anyone?

The Rangers have been building their team on young talent with a mix of older veterans. Just the way you should build a team. Overpaying for 1 player that could haunt you after a few years as he weights down your team with a hefty salary and not much production is not good for business. Not to say that Lee would be unproductive in the last years of the contract, but odds are he wouldn’t be the ace he is now.

So what should the Rangers do now? Go after Zach Greinke and/or Matt Garza. The Rangers have a solid foundation for a rotation and with the addition of another solid arm or two, they would once again be on the right track for another playoff run.

Another option I have heard tossed around is to sign a closer and move Neftali Feliz back to a starter. I am not sure what the Rangers actually think of this, but in the long run I think this is the plan. But how do you mess with a young kid who was just dominate as your closer? I hope to see him anchoring the bullpen again next season.

All in all, I am glad Cliff Lee is not a Yankee even though he is not a Ranger. Add on top of that that the Angels did not get Carl Crawford and the Rangers have had a good off-season already. If they can land Greinke or Garza through a trade, it will be a really good off-season.

Now what to do at DH?

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Posted in MLB2 Comments

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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