Hello Win Column: Wild Walk Off Strikeout in Texas

I have seen walk off walks, home runs, singles, and many others.  But a walk off strikeout where the winning team struck out?  This was a first and it came in Arlington on Wednesday.

In the bottom of the 9th with Mitch Moreland on first base and two outs, Nelson Cruz swings at a wild pitch that gets away from the catcher.  Cruz realizes it got away and starts to run to first as the Mariners catcher retrieves the ball and promptly throws it into right field.  Still running on the play, Mitch Moreland continues around the bases scoring all the way from first with the winning run.

You have to see it to believe it.

Walk Off Strike Out Win for Texas Rangers

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Baseball Bloggers Alliance Announces New Award Names

Baseball Bloggers Alliance Announces New Award Names

Changes reflect appreciation for history of the game

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) recently announced the renaming of their annual postseason awards to comply with the wishes of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA), thereby avoiding confusion between the two organizations.  This allowed the BBA an opportunity to recognize some of the legendary greats of the game, naming their highest honors after them.

“Earlier in the year, the BBA reached an agreement with former Yankee reliever Goose Gossage to name our newest award, recognizing the best relief pitcher in each league, after him,” said Daniel Shoptaw, founder and president of the Alliance.  “It only seemed fitting, then, that we rename the rest of our awards after other legends of the game.”

The five awards are given to a player in each league: The Connie Mack Award, given to the top manager; the Willie Mays Award, for the top rookie; the Goose Gossage award, mentioned above; the Walter Johnson Award, which would be analogous to the BBWAA’s Cy Young Award; and the Stan Musial Award, awarded to the most valuable player in each league.

According to Shoptaw, “These names are synonymous with quality, achievement, and dedication.  These names have not only stood the test of time, but have been strengthened by it.”

The schedule for the announcement of these awards is as follows:

Connie Mack Award: October 14
Willie Mays Award: October 18
Goose Gossage Award: October 21
Walter Johnson Award: October 25
Stan Musial Award: October 28

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was founded in 2009 and numbers 222 blogs covering all major league teams and various other aspects of baseball, as well as blogs and sites that are affiliated as Friends of the BBA.  The official website of the BBA is located at www.baseballbloggersalliance.com.  The BBA can be found on Twitter by the handle @baseballblogs and by the hashmark #bbba.  Members of the BBA may be heard at Blog Talk Radio every Tuesday night with their call-in show, BBA Baseball Talk, which may also be downloaded as a podcast from iTunes.

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Hello Win Column: Rangers with Walk Off Wins

As the rangers has hit a tailspin in September and looked to blow their 9.5 game lead in the AL West, the Evil Empire came into town.  Things were not looking good for Texas since they are only 1-4 against the Yankees heading into the weekend series in Arlington. There has been talk, even in Dallas, about the possibility of Oakland coming back to win the division as the Rangers fail miserably down the stretch.

Players are hurt, the pitching is struggling, and the hitters can’t seem to get timely hitting which has led to a meager 4-6 record in their previous 10 games.  Even with winning 2 straight against the Blue Jays prior to the dreaded Yanks heading to town, the Rangers were in coast mode, which is not good.

Then something happened that many, including me didn’t expect.  The Rangers win 2 in a row on walk-offs versus the Yankees.  Not only did they win both in walk-off fashion, but Mariano Rivera blew one of the games.

On Friday night, the Rangers went down early as the Yankees took a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning.  This was not looking good for the Rangers as CJ Wilson go the hook early after only 3 innings.  The Rangers would battle back and tie the game in the 8th inning at 4-4 with a Nelson Cruz home run off of Jaba Chamberlain, and Cruz wasn’t done.  The game continued into the night, until Nelson Cruz came up again in the 13th to face Chad Gaudin.  Cruz only needed one pitch to send the fans home happy into the night as he hit the first pitch of the 13th inning over the right center field fence for a walk-off home run.

Nelson Cruz Walk Off Homerun in 13th

Now with 3 wins in a row, the Rangers came back Saturday night to face off with the hated Yankees again.  This time the Rangers sent out Tommy Hunter in search of his 13th win.  Hunter would last 5 innings giving up 2 runs on 6 hits but would not factor into the decision.  The Rangers would wind up throwing 7 pitchers into the game on Saturday night, as they took a 5-3 lead into the 8th inning.

Standing in their way of a 4th straight victory was former Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez.  With the bases loaded facing Matt Harrison, Arod doubled down the left field line clearing the bases and putting the Yanks up 6-5.

The Rangers would come roaring back in the 9th once again.  With Mariano Rivera on the hill, the Rangers fought back.  Vladimir Guerrero led off the inning with a walk, and was quickly replaced with a pinch runner as he was the tying run.  Nelson Cruz again came through with a single to right putting runners at the corner for Ian Kinsler.  Kinsler came through with a huge double over the 3rd base bag to tie the game and giving Rivera his 3rd blown save of the year.

Next up was Chris Davis who was intentionally walked to load the bases and set up the double play.  With Blanco pinch-hitting for Treanor and the bases loaded, Rivera coaxes Blanco to pop up for the first out.  Next up was recently acquired Jeff Francoeur.  Mariano Rivera did the rest of the work for the Rangers as he hit Francoeur with a pitch to bring in the winning run extending the Rangers win streak to 4 games.

Now this does not automatically send the Rangers into the playoffs, but it does 2 things that are huge for Rangers and their fans.  First of all, it helps stop all the talk of a Rangers complete collapse in September.  Sure there are still a few weeks of baseball left, and it is still possible for a total collapse, but winning games like this gives the Rangers so much confidence heading into the rest of September.  The second thing that it does is give the Rangers confidence if and when the Rangers face the Yankees in the playoffs.  This might be the most important factor.

No matter what happens Sunday night versus the Yankees, the Rangers have a new found confidence heading into perhaps the most critical part of the season as they prepare for a possible run at the World Series.

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Playoff Predictions

With a month left in the season, it is nice to still see there are some races left for division titles. In 4 of the 6 divisions, the lead is 3.5 games or less. With so much baseball to be played a lot could happen. I am going to attempt now to predict what will happen by the end of the season as I take a look at each division.

AL East
The lead for the Yankees is at 1.5 games over Tampa Bay. This has been a close race all year, and I don’t see that changing the last month of the season. Regardless of who wins the division, the other will win the wildcard unless one or both have a complete nosedive the last month of the season. Of course, that can happen (See 2007 Mets), but I don’t see it happening this year. What I do see happening is the Yankees holding onto a narrow victory for the division title, and Tampa Bay winning the Wild Card.

New York wins AL East
Tampa Bay wins Wild Card

AL Central
Minnesota has a 3.5 game lead over Chicago. Can Manny help reignite the White Sox to overtake the Twins? I don’t think so. I really don’t see Manny providing much down the stretch. He seems to be a pale image of his old self, which after what he did to the Red Sox, I am happy to see. Anyone who acts like he does I really don’t want to see succeed. I have the Twins winning in the Central by 3 games or so.

Minnesota wins AL Central

AL West
This division is about wrapped up. Texas leads Oakland by 10 games and even if Cliff Lee has to miss some time, the Rangers have too much for the West. The only question that remains in the West is how will the Rangers prepare themselves for the playoffs. Yes I know they could still collapse in the heat of Texas, but I see this happening about as much as I see the Red Sox overtaking Tampa Bay for the Wild Card. Its just not going to happen.

Texas wins AL West

NL West
San Diego leads San Francisco by 3 games. This one is a tough one to call since nobody thought the Padres would be in first, let alone so much of the season. I am actually going to say San Francisco comes back to take the division late in the season by a game or two. I think Lincecum and Cain will lead the Giants back to the playoffs. This will lead the Padres to battle it out for the wildcard.

San Francisco wins NL West

NL Central
This is another surprising division with the Reds up on the Cardinals by 8 games. I don’t see Cincinnati faltering down the stretch. The division might get a little closer, but I see the Reds winning by 4 or 5 games.

Cincinnati wins AL Central

NL East
This one is a tough one to call, especially since I am such a huge Braves fan. Call me a homer if you want but I am calling for the Braves to take the division in Bobby Cox’s last season. It will go down to the wire, but I like the Braves chances with their pitching staff. That is why I am calling for them to win the division and the Phillies to take the Wild Card. I just think Hudson, Hanson, and the staff will take them to the playoffs.

Atlanta wins NL East
Philadelphia wins Wild Card

NL Division Series
Atlanta vs San Francisco – Atlanta wins in 4
Philadelphia vs Cincinnati – Cincinnati wins in 4

AL Division Series
Texas vs Tampa Bay – Texas in 5
New York vs Minnesota – New York in 4

AL Championship Series
With Texas finally winning a playoff series, they must go to Yankee Stadium to face the evil empire. I think they match up fairly well but I am not sure they can get by the Yankees, so as much as I hate to I am picking the Yankees to win.

Yankees win in 6 games.

NL Championship Series
A series pitting upstart Cincinnati against Atlanta I think would be a good one. I really like the Braves pitching, but I think Cincinnati has the offense and enough pitching to take the series. I am going with the Reds in 7 games.

Cincinnati wins in 7 games.

World Series
I think this could be a good one, and while I am not calling for a repeat of 1990 when the Reds swept through the mighty A’s, I see the Reds finishing the miracle season atop the world. Reds in 6 games.

I am going out on a limb. How far out is a question of your loyalties in baseball I guess. I am saying the Reds win the World Series. Of course, I would love to see the Braves and Rangers in the series, but I am not sure that will happen.

World Series Champs – Cincinnati Reds

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Brawl in Florida

Nyjer Morgan charged the mound tonight after having a pitch from Chris Volstad sail behind his back in the 5th inning.

In the 4th inning, with the Nats winning 14-3, Volstad hit Morgan.  He promptly stole 2nd and 3rd base with his team up 11 runs.  A lot of people in baseball look upon that with disdain as the Marlins did Wednesday night.  When Morgan dug into the box in the 5th, Volstad sailed a pitch behind his back.  Morgan didn’t blink.  He just tossed his bat aside and charged the mound.

What ensued was caos.  Morgan got a good shot on Volstad.  Then Gabby Sanchez came flying in clotheslining Morgan and the benches cleared.  The suspensions should come down soon, but the funniest thing is that Morgan was already suspended for throwing a ball at a fan in the stands in Philadelphia.

Check out the video here.

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Interview – Chicago Cubs Scout Aaron Tassano

Several weeks ago, I went up to the Seoul area to check out one of the bigger high school baseball tournaments in the country.  The Phoenix Flag Tournament is held every year in Suwon, South Korea.  Teams from all over the country come to play and it made for some exciting baseball.

While I was there I ran into the scout for the Chicago Cubs, Aaron Tassano.  I chatted him up between games when he wasn’t hard at work, and later he was kind enough to answer some questions.  Aaron has written for many publications across the internet, and his own site the East Windup Chronicle.  Even though his busy scouting schedule does not allow him to post on his blog as much anymore, there is still some great information here on international baseball.  Without further delay…..

What originally brought you to Korea?

I was working on a master’s degree in Educational Training through a University back home. Part of the program included taking some classes abroad.

Before you started scouting, what was your baseball background?

I played up into junior college. After I graduated I worked at a newspaper for five years and did some sports writing, but mostly entertainment. But I’ve come to find that knowing how to write and communicate well is very useful in scouting. Mostly though I come to baseball via simulation games, which I played endlessly as a child, and then fantasy baseball, which I got more into once I moved to Korea. Sounds kind of goofy, but that sort of thing provides a good baseball background…even for scouting.

I have read teams send a lot of their scouts to a yearly scout school in Arizona.  Did you have any formal training before starting work?

I’ve gone to the states a couple times, which has been part of my training, and I’ve spent a fair amount of time with my bosses. It’s a constant learning process, so I think I’ll still be training for years down the road.

Do you have any recommendations for people like myself who like to see new stadiums on places that need not be missed?

Hm. Well, the stadium in Incheon is fantastic. I’ve heard it compared to a very good minor league stadium in the states, but I think that sells it short. SK has built a culture around it’s stadium that’s only rivaled (and bettered) by that in Busan. They really know what they’re doing up in Incheon. I also like the stadium in Daejon for some reason. It’s kind of what I imagine some of the old pre-70s multi-purpose stadiums in MLB to be like. I’m talking something like Ebbets Field. Jeju has a couple old stadiums that are almost deserted, but are still used for high school and college winter camps. Like most things in Jeju, once Koreans got passports in the late 80s, there became little reason to keep things up to date because the place is no longer the edge of the Earth. I was walking around Jeju once and came across an old croquet mega-complex. I’m sure families used to make an evening out of it. Now it’s like an abandoned warehouse, probably filled with rats and unused squid wrap sheets.

What is the off-season like for a scout? Or is there an off-season?

I’ve been doing this a short time, but off-season is kind of a drag. I get antsy and start looking forward to games in 40 degree weather in February. Outside of games I do a lot of report writing and film editing. Then there are phone calls…talking to agents, coaches and other scouts. But off-season in Korea is basically the week of Christmas and New Year’s.

Do you see scouts in Korea from leagues other than the MLB or KBO? Places like Japan, Taiwan, or Australia?

A lot of MLB teams send in scouts in varying numbers. A few teams have people here on the ground in Korea, a few have someone that lives in Taiwan that also covers Korea. A couple live in Japan. Some teams don’t send anyone to Korea. The KBO scouts are here every game, every tournament, every inning. Some of them are good guys, others I, um, don’t know very well.

Again I would like to thank Aaron for taking the time to answer my questions.

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Baseball Around the World

Interested in what goes on in baseball leagues around the world?  Then I have a site for you to check out.

Baseball de World

This site follows leagues from all over the world like Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, and much more.  They even follow what goes on in the United States.

Check it out and bookmark it because I know you will be back.  It’s an interesting site that provides insights to baseball around the world.

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Posted in MLB, KBO, Asia1 Comment

Open Letter to Chipper Jones

Dear Mr. Jones,

I have been a fan of the Atlanta Braves and you since I can remember.  I grew up watching the Braves in the 80’s when winning seemed as distant as landing on Mars,  but I persevered and I hope you can too.  I was the laughing stock in school for wearing my Braves hat, but that all changed in 1991.  All of a sudden there were Atlanta fans everywhere, and  I will be a fan until the good Lord takes me from this Earth.  I live and die every October with the rise and fall of the Braves, but I have to say it has been a wonderful ride.

I am writing to tell you why I, as a huge Braves fan, hopes you can also persevere and make it back for one more season. I understand me waiting year to year for a World Series is much easier than you recovering from knee surgery to make it back to the grueling schedule of 162 games.  But please hear me out as to why not only I want you to come back next year, but why Braves fans needs you back for one more year.

The Braves has seen some great players come along through its history.  The great Hammerin’ Hank, Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn, Dale Murphy, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and one Larry Wayne Jones.  But the Braves have never had one of their great players go out as a Brave on a high note.  Hank Aaron went on to play with Milwaukee again (but this time as a Brewer) at the end of his career. Eddie Mathews ended his career in Detroit after playing for Houston.  Dale Murphy was traded to Philadelphia and finished his playing days in Colorado.  Greg Maddux finished up his days with the Dodgers and Padres.  John Smoltz played with Boston and St. Louis, and while Tom Glavine officially finished his career with Atlanta, it wasn’t the farewell tour everyone had hoped it would be since it was marred with injuries.

The Braves have not had one of their own Hall of Fame worthy stars end a season healthy as an Atlanta Brave.  I can remember everyone being excited about this Jones kid the Braves drafted in 1990.  I recall the excitement of getting your rookie baseball cards and thinking one day this will be the guy to take us to the World Series.  Little did I know it would be so soon.  I have so many fond memories of you playing with Atlanta; and I, like millions of others, don’t want my last memory of you playing being of you hurting your knee.

The one thing I have learned over the years watching you play is that there is no quit in you.  I was glad to see you said you were coming back to spring training next year.  One of my favorite memories from baseball was watching Cal Ripken Jr. play his last game in Texas at the Ballpark in Arlington in 2001.  It was nice to see such a great player make a farewell tour of stadiums.  He was able to dictate his own terms of leaving the game, and like Cal did everything, he did it with grace and a flair unlike any other.  I just hope the fans all around the country get that same memory with you.

Sincerely,

Eric – A Braves fan in South Korea via Texas – The Baseball Journeyman

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PBS to Air Ken Burns Baseball The 10th Inning

PBS will air the newest addition to the Baseball documentary by Ken Burns in September.  Check out the link below for a video about the newest installment to the series.

The two-part, four-hour documentary will air September 28-29 on PBS.  It chronicles the stories from the 1990s to present day.

PBS – Ken Burns Baseball – 10th Inning

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Houston Fan Dubbed “The Bailer”

This is one of the funniest videos I have seen in some time. A fan at a Houston Astros game thinks about catching a foul ball.  Then at the last second he changes his mind and bails.  See for yourself what happens next.

The Bailer Video

And to top it off – a nice play by new Atlanta Brave Rick Ankiel in CF.

Ankiel Dive

Coming up later this week.  An interview with KBO blogger and Busan Haps magazine writer Matthew Dewoskin.

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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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Who Will Win the 2014 World Series?

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