Sunday, July 29, 2007

Moe Berg-Brainiest Man in Baseball

Here's an interesting article about Moe Berg, the player best known for spying on Japan while on an all-star tour during the 1930s. Oddly enough, it is published by the CIA.

So far today Barry Bonds hasn't tied Hank Aaron and A-Rod is still at 499 career home runs. Thome is eleven away. If he gets one home run each week he should make it.

Oh, and by the way, Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. were inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame today.

Everyone have a nice, good day! Let's play two!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Who's on First for President Bush

Here's a very cute and surprisingly scary version of Abbot and Costello's famous "Who's on First" for your entertainment.

Everyone have a nice, good day! Let's play two!


Monday, July 23, 2007


Living close to Seattle I've had the privilege to watch some of the best baseball players in the last twenty years, some of the among the best all-time: Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, and, of course, Ichiro.

Ichiro seemingly defies all the "rules" about batting but consistently gets 200 hits per year and makes it look easy. Recently I ran across an article by Scott Campanella about Ichiro that provides an interesting analysis of the great Seattle Mariner.

As I was listening to some sports talk show the other day, they were giving highlights of the previous evening's MLB All-Star Game. I heard the voice of Ichiro Suzuki, the game's MVP, come over my radio, speaking perfect English during the post-game interview. I was shocked to hear the progress he has made with our language. Of course, then I realized that Ichiro was speaking through an interpreter.

While Vladimir "The Impaler" Guerrero was bashing the baseball 500 feet on his way to winning the Home Run Derby, Ichiro demonstrated his skills when it counted. He went 3-for-3 in the Big Game, showing NL pitchers and fans what they've been missing over the last seven years. In the first inning, he drilled a patented Ichiro single off of Jake Peavy. Later in the game, he hit a long fly ball off the wall in right field. When the ball took a funny bounce off the wall right by the venerable Ken Griffey Jr, everybody in the park knew Ichiro had a chance to score. And he did.

The mystical Mariner outfielder has been a fixture in Seattle since 2001, when he was imported from Japan. He has not (or will not) speak fluent English, although some sources claim that he does this intentionally in order to avoid reporters. He reportedly keeps his bats in a humidor, listens to rap music, and loves "Star Wars". Ichiro's limited American vocabulary consists of phrases such as 'What Up Dog' and 'Yo Mama'.

As I write this post, The Seattle Mariners have just agreed to a five-year contract with Mr. Suzuki in the neighborhood of one hundred million smackers. Although the Mariners have their Moose, Ichiro is the true Mariner mascot. He is solely responsible for drawing thousands of fans to the stadium every night. What other player has their name chanted in unison by an entire ballpark when he gets ready to hit?

Hitting for contact is one thing Ichiro can do better than almost anyone who has ever played. His batting style is unorthodox, to say the least. He does not keep his balance back, as the book on hitting says to do, but often shifts his weight to his front foot, bringing the bat through the hitting zone as though it were a broom. You would not teach your child to hit the way Ichiro does, and yet he has proven extremely effective. He has hit over .300 every year in the majors, including .355 so far this year. If Vlad is the Impaler, then Ichiro is the Acupuncturist, sticking it to the other team one line drive at a time. He is the Peter Pan of the American League, gracefully flitting here and there, swatting cue shots up the middle, always just beating out the grounder to short.

Sabermetricians must hate him. He draws fewer than one walk for every fifteen plate appearances in his career, although his ratio is a little better in 2007. He displays little power, preferring to hit 'em where they aint (see Wee Willie Keeler). Although he has a .333 career batting average, his On Base Percentage is only .379, and his Slugging Percentage is .439, a hardly Ruthian figure. Yet, if you asked today's GMs about guys they would like to start a team with, Ichiro's name rises to the top.

In addition to Ichiro's incredible hitting prowess, he is a gazelle on the basepaths. He reportedly gets down the first base line in a nifty 3.2 seconds, putting him there with the fastest players ever. If he hits a chopper into the ground, forget it. If he sends one into the gap, he will likely be standing on third in less than ten seconds.

His throwing arm is a cannon, especially for someone who is so slight-of-build. Players and fans everywhere know that you can't run on Ichiro, so rarely does anyone try. His move from right field to center has allowed the Mariners to bring in Jose Guillen this year, a big improvement over Jeremy Reed or Willie Bloomquist. Ichiro is one of the best center fielders in the game, although we don't often see him on ESPN's Web Gems. Who needs to make a leaping or diving catch if you can beat the ball to the spot?

Two players which I saw play as I was growing up remind me of Ichiro at the plate. Wade Boggs and Tony Gwynn defined pure hitting in the 80's, forsaking power for the ability to consistently hit line drives to all fields. If you look up Ichiro's comparables based on stats, though, you get guys like Bake McBride and Ron LeFlore...good players, but not nearly of his caliber. In fact, it is difficult to find a player like Ichiro anywhere in the history of baseball.

Ironically, the player Ichiro is least like is his own teammate, Richie Sexson, who hits one ball out of the park every five games and somehow makes millions of dollars doing it. Today's baseball is committed to the long ball, building behemoths who can drive towering shots over drawn-in fences. Sabermetrics preaches the value of the walk and the home run. Ichiro's greatness transcends modern-day wisdom.

I've come to a profound realization: Baseball is not (or should not be) about winning. The game I love is about Ernie Banks, the curse of the Bambino, and Pine Tar. We revel in blown calls, fan interference, and coaches jawing with an umpire face-to-face. In fact, my favorite part of the game is the pitcher-batter duel. The universe comes to a stop when John Lackey deals filth to Alex Rodriguez. Pitch by pitch, moment by moment, who will win the battle? Ichiro wins his wars more than any other player.

My daughter just turned one year old last month. I plan to share my love of the game with her as she grows up. I relish in the thought that she will see Ichiro Suzuki play, even if he is an old man. I will tell her that he is the Peter Pan of baseball - that he is from Neverland, sprinkled with fairy dust, always just a little too fast to be caught in the dreaded grasp of Captain Hook.

Sometime in the future, on a warm summer day, a crowd of people will gather in Cooperstown, New York. They will turn their attention to the man at the podium who has enthralled them with his bat and glove. He was not like any other player they had ever seen. He will not speak in a language that they understand, but his words will be relayed through another. That is because he comes from another place, seemingly not of this world. Mustering up the few English words that he knows, he will exclaim "What up Dog?", and the people in return will chant I-CHI-RO, I-CHI-RO!

Roto Journal

Good Job Scott!

Everyone have a nice, good day! Let's play two!

-Everyone have a nice, good day! Let's play two!">tfedge

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Great Game at Wrigley

Monday July 16, 2007 at Wrigley Field in Chicago was the best game I've seen this year with the hometown Chicago Cubs scoring two in the bottom of the eighth to defeat the San Francisco Giants 3-2. To top that, the eighth inning is probably the most exciting inning I've seen in a several years.

In the top of the eighth with the score tied 1-1 Giants third baseman Pedro Feliz gets on and is bunted over to second. Guillermo Rodriguez singles to left Feliz scores. Soriano commits an error trying to field the ball and Rodriguez moves to second. Bunt base hit by Roberts. Rodriguez goes to third with one out.

Giants Manager Bruce Bochey puts on the suicide squeeze. Lou Piniella counters by calling for a pitchout and Rodriguez is tagged out by Theriot after a brief rundown.

As the bottom of the eighth begins the Giants lead 2-1. Fontenot pinch hits for Hill. Fontenot grounds out to first Rich Aurilla. Soriano flies out to left. Broken bat single for Theriot up the middle. Derrek Lee comes to bat. Lee hits a grounder to the left of second that Theriot hurdles while moving to third. Derrek Lee on first. San Diego makes a pitching change bringing in Randy Messenger. Aramis Ramirez doubles off the left field wall driving in two. Howry holds the Giants in the ninth to pick up the save and Rich Hill gets the win even though the Cubs were behind when he left the game.

Great game!

Everyone have a nice, good day! Let's play two!


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

07-07-07 Has got to mean Mickey Mantle

I meant to get this out on Saturday, but got distracted. For fans of the Mick, 07-07-07 has got to be a special day. Mickey Mantle has always been special because my family knew his back in Spavinaw, Oklahoma before Mickey became famous first as the Commerce Comet and later as "The Mick." I went through and dug out a few pictures of Mickey Mantle Steakhouse and nearby attractions. Of course, there are always pictures I couldn't find, including on of the 550 foot home run that is featured in the restaurant along with other memorabilia.

The food at the restaurant is pricey, but excellent. Just a chance to look at the numerous pictures is worth the extra cost. Located at #7 Mickey Mantle Drive, the restaurant is just across the street from the Bricktown Ballyard, the ballpark for the Redbirds, the AAA affiliate for the Texas Rangers. I went there on a Sunday and it wasn't open for lunch, but was perfect for a nice dinner after an afternoon game across the street. I visited the restaurant where a casual shirt, shorts, and sandals and felt comfortable even though it is a higher class restaurant.

Mickey was one of the great all-time players. I strongly advise you to visit his restaurant and especially visit the Bricktown Ballyard for a minor league game.

Everyone have a nice, good day! Let's play two!


Friday, July 06, 2007

New Cubs Fan!

One of my neighbors just had their first baby, a boy named Jaxon. As the oldest, if not most alpha male on the block I've proclaimed myself his godfather of baseball. I do renounce the DH. I do renounce the wave in baseball. Oops, sorry, I got carried away with "The Godfather" idea.

Anyway I've taken the opportunity to make certain Jaxon is properly trained as a
Chicago Cubs fan. You can see he already has the baseball stare working for him. You can just see him scowling at an umpire after a questionable call or glaring at a pinch hitter he's preparing to strike out in the bottom of the ninth.

It's going to be awhile before he's ready for a trip to Wrigley, in the meantime, as his self-appointed godfather of baseball I'll make sure he has Cubs clothes to wear and I'll try to cultivate a taste in Chicago Dogs, without the sport peppers for now.

Welcome to the neighborhood, Shoeless Jaxon, Chicago Cubs fan 2007.

Everyone have a nice, good day!
Let's play two!

-tfedge, the godfather of baseball

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

MLB 2007: Season of individual milestones

With the Major League Baseball season half over, 2007 looks like it's going to be a season of some major individual milestones:

  • Sammie Sosa, Texas Rangers, has become the fifth person to reach 600 home runs
  • Craig Biggio has reached and passed the 3,000 hits club. Notably all of his MLB games have been played for the Houston Astros.
  • Roger Clements has won his 350th game.
Still to come and a lock to happen barring injury:
  • Tom Glavine needs just three wins to enter the 300 club.
  • With two more saves Mariano Rivera will reach 425 saves and claim the third most saves all time.
  • Barry Bonds will pass Hank Aaron as the all-time home run king. If the pitchers pitch to him he could get the five HRs he needs any time.
  • Alex Rodriguez needs eight home runs for 500. With twenty-eight so far A-Rod should reach this in July or August.
  • Ken Griffey Junior needs sixteen home runs to reach six hundred.
  • Jose Mesa needs just seven appearances to make his 1,000 caree appearance.
Possible personal records to come:
  • Barry Bonds may appear in his 3,000 game. He has 2,934 going into today. Depending on days off he could reach 3,000 in September.
  • Jim Thome needs sixteen home runs to reach 500. As of today he has 484. He needs to pick up the pace a bit. He's only had twelve home runs this year.
  • Garry Sheffeld has 574 home runs. Twenty-six for the rest of the year is a bit of a stetch, he has nineteen so far.
  • Randy Johnson went back on the DL so 300 wins appears unlikely this season but should be a lock if he returns for 2008. Currently he has 284 wins.
It's been an exciting season so far regarding personal milestones. The only bad thing is that it will cause talk about the diminishing of the value of milestone levels. I suppose that's okay. Talking about baseball and baseball stats is an important part of the game.

Everyone have a nice, good day! Let's play two! - tfedge