Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cool blogs to follow...Eephus League

I'm always looking for baseball sites that use baseball history as their backdrop.

Baseball history, as I've stated many times, is my favorite thing to read about, weather it's of the written book or magazine variety, or on the web.

Today while is was on my Twitter page, I came across a terrific baseball site that is full of all kinds of cool baseball stuff.

It's Eephus League  and believe me you're gonna love it.

As I said, I was led to the site today while on Twitter.

The post was on something on of their writers, Bethany Heck 
Blow is an example of the cool things you'll find on the site, a collection of the team mascots from 1956, from a book for Little League kids.

Look at these old logos.

The first one on row one looks like one of 'Dem Bums of the Brooklyn Dodgers doesn't it?
Check out the Tigers logo. 

It's a very friendly kitty, which the Tigers were way to many times in the 1950's.

I love the Giants art. The ball player is truly a giant.

The Reds logo caught my eye. Takes you back to the old Redlegs days of early baseball.

The Eephus League site is another example of the un matched love of baseball's past and it's fans.

I hope you check it out.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Home Run Derby

I'm watching the big league baseball HR Derby tonight on ESPN.

I really haven't been interested in the derby for quite some time now, actually, it was 2005.

The All-Star Game was played at Comerica Park, the Home of the Detroit Tigers.

The Tigers participant that night was catcher Pudge Rodriguez, who was establishing his legend in Motown as one of the best players to ever wear the Olde English D.

The HR Derby used to be must see baseball.

Now, not so much.

As a baseball fan, the derby just isn't as compelling as it once was.

I know this year they've changed things up a little, with team captains, the BoSox David Ortiz, and the Brewers Prince Fielder choosing the participants from among the actual player rosters.

The A.L. and N.L. will be battling team vs. team, for charity.

I like that, it's different, but for some reason it's just not as exciting as it used to be.

One of the problems is ESPN.

OK, so the major problem is ESPN.

ESPN is way over the top with the announcer's silly expressions over the distance of a batters HR.

While I understand that's what the derby's all about, hitting HRS, it's still batting practice.

Chris Berman, the annual host, is mostly to blame.

I really used to like Berman, and still appreciate his baseball knowledge, but he's gotten highly annoying.

"Back Back Back...Gone," Berman's catch phrase, is, was old years ago, now it's just painful to listen to.

Here's a few things I'd suggest to make the HR Derby better.

First, get rid of Berman.

Why does ESPN continue to run him out there?

Myself, I'd like to see Steve Berthiaume and Karl Ravich, the primary host's pf Baseball Tonight on the network.

ESPN does a great job broadcasting baseball games, and they should use the people who do baseball on a daily basis.

Berthiaume is the best host ESPN has, baseball, or not, and should be used for the entire coverage of the All-Star Game and it's festivities.

Where's Bobby Valentine?
He's terrific on Sunday Night Baseball.

Second, where's Jayson Stark and Tim Kurkjian?

These are actual baseball writers whom know their stuff, use them.

I don't need Nomar Garciapara.

I like John Kruk, but where's Barry Larkin?

Third, stop the one hour pre game and the 20 minute introductions. 
Start the intro's as soon as the show begins, and then start the derby.

I know ESPN has ad space to sell, that's fine, but the length of the first round takes way to long.

Fourth, and this is for the Commissioner, and MLB...the HR Derby participants should be made up of the Top 5 A.L. and N.L. HR leaders at the AS break.

As the fans follow the leader's in each league the interest for the derby will become a topic of conversation from the very first week of the season.

The Blue Jays Jose Bautista, the big league leader with 31 home runs would be the #1 A.L. player, joined by Yankee teammates Mark Texiera(25) and Curtis Granderson(25), the ChiSox Paul Konerko(22), and the Rangers Nelson Cruz(20)

The #1 N.L. guy would be the Cardinals Lance Berkman, the league leader with 24 home runs, and he would be joined by the Brewers Prince Fielder(22), the Dodgers Matt Kemp(22), the Reds Jay Bruce(21) and Cubs Carlos Pena(19).

Fifth, and again for MLB, please get rid of the 10 outs in each round.

In baseball, three strikes, your out.

Make the derby a game. 

Top of the first, each player gets their 3 outs, bottom of the 2nd, same thing.

After 9 innings, whoever has the most HRS wins the derby.
So, those are my thoughts on the derby.

What are your ideas for making the HR Derby more entertaining?

Please leave your comments below.

My Phavorite Phillie

Since 1883, the Philadelphia Phillies have been playing baseball as a member of the National League.

They have had their share of great teams and players, including "Big Ed" Delahanty, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Chuck Klien, Robin Roberts, Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt, Ryan Howard, and Jimmy Rollins.

The Phillies have made four trips to the World Series, in 1950, 1980, 2008, 2009.

That 1950 squad is known in baseball lore as the "Whiz Kids," a team of young ball players who won the teams very first N.L. Pennant.

One of those famous kids is also my favorite Phillies player of All-Time, Richie Ashburn.

Now, I don't remember when I first heard about Ashburn, probably sometimes in the early 1970s.

I do remember seeing his #1 on the outfield walls of the old Veterans Stadium, home of the Phillies, during the 1980 and 1983 World Series.

Ashburn was long retired as a big league ball player, having played his last game in 1963, as a member of the New York Mets.

I always heard baseball announcers on radio and TV talking about Ashburn any time the Phillies, or the "Whiz Kids" came up in a conversation about baseball.

So, as a young baseball fan, I just had to find out more about Ashburn, and I would read articles in the Sporting News and research the former Phillie in The Baseball Almanac and in any other books I could find.

Ashburn came up to the big leagues in 1948, at the age of 21.

Ashburn collected 154 hits that rookie season, finished 3rd in the Rookie of the Year voting, and never looked back, retiring 15 years later with a very impressive 2, 574 big league hits, all in the National League,  with the Phillies, Cubs, and Mets.

by the time I knew about Richie Ashburn, the Phillies legend had become part of the teams radio and TV booth, where he did color commentary, and starting in 1971, he sat in the same booth as another Philadelphia Hall of Famer, announcer Harry Kalas.

Ashburn continued to announce Phillies games with Kalas until his passing, in 1997, due to a heart attack.

Ashburn is a legend in Philly, and he should be.

In addition to his 2,574 hits, Ashburn also scored 1,322 runs, leading the league in that category three times.

Ashburn was a 5 time All Star who collected 317 doubles, 109 triples, and had a lifetime batting average of .308.

In 1995 Ashburn was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, many years after he should have, along with another Philly great, Mike Schmidt.

My favorite players in baseball history

Since I began writing this blog around a year, or so, ago, one of the mainstay post's have been about my favorite big league ball players from every club.

I started writing about my favorite players with an article on the Baltimore Orioles Brooks Robinson, the best 3rd baseman I've seen since I began watching baseball.

I'm going to cover, I hope, every baseball team in the big leagues since the American League began play in 1901, and even going back to the 19th century.

That means not only the current 30 clubs, but also the clubs that no longer exist, including the Negro Leagues.

I'll also remind everyone who reads this blog that if a team has moved, like the Atlanta Braves, then I'll have a fave player from the Milwaukee Braves, and the Boston Braves, as well.

Dale Murphy was my fave Atlanta Brave, and I did a post on my fave Brooklyn Dodger, Jackie Robinson.

When it's time to write about the Los Angeles Dodgers player who I like the best, it will be separate from the Brooklyn club.

I started in the American League East, went to the Brooklyn Dodgers, and am now putting the finish on the National League East.

So, when I write about my favorite Washington Nationals player that means just the Nats players since they moved to D.C., and not the members of the Montreal Expos, who will come in a later post.

So, next up is my favorite Philadelphia Phillies player, and then we'll end the N.L. East with the Nats.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Baseball history today in the Bronx

In the 3rd inning of today's Tampa Bat Rays-New York Yankee game at Yankee Stadium, Yanks shortstop Derek Jeter doubled off the Rays David Price.

It was the 3,000th hit of Jeter's 16 year career. 

Here's the bat Derek Jeter used to hit #3,000. courtesy of Twitpic.

Here's the bat Jeter used for his 3000th hit, as authent... on Twitpic
Jeter became the 28th player to collect 3,000 hits in the big leagues, tying the late Roberto Clemente.

In the 5th inning Jeter doubled off of Price, giving him 27th place on the All-Time hit list, with 3,001.

Next up on the list, in 26th place, is Al Kaline, the Hall of Fame Detroit Tigers right fielder, at 3,007.

Yesterday I wrote about Jeter, and what I thought of him, both as a player, and a person.

I love Jeter, the way he has handled himself, and played the game of baseball.

Over at The Hall of Very Good, there is a fantastic article on Jeter, and his 3,000 hits.

The next active players looking for 3,000 hits are the Washington Nationals Pudge Rodriguez(2,842) and Omar Vizuel of the ChiSox(2,831).

I'm not sure either one will come near 3,000 hits, but if I had to choose, I'd say Rodriguez has the better chance.

Derek Jeter has been elected by the fans to start in Tuesday's All-Star Game, but won't play, as he has asked to rest his recently healed ankle for the 2nd half of the season.

The Tigers Jhonny Peralta has been added to the A.L. squad, giving Detroit five representatives in the game, Peralta, Justin Verlander, Jose Valverde, Miguel Cabrera, and Alex Avila.

So, what a day for baseball.

Even though it was on TV, and I wasn't at Yankee Stadium today, I'm still thrilled to watch baseball history happen before my eyes.

The 1st player I remember getting his 3,000th hit was the Tigers Al Kaline, in September of 1974.

A native of Baltimore, Kaline doubled in a game in the last days of 1974, against the Orioles, in Baltimore's Memorial Stadium.

Of course, baseball was different back then, we knew Kaline was getting close, but had to see his historical hit on the local newscast that night in my hometown of Portage, Michigan.

Kaline was in his final year of baseball, 22 of them, all with the Tigers.

In 1980, five years after his retirement, Kaline was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame.

Jeter is far from done, and should collect a couple of hundred more hits before he calls it a career.

When he does, add five years to the calendar, and meet me in Cooperstown.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Some thoughts on Derek Jeter

Today is the start of the final weekend of baseball before the All-Star break.

Derek Jeter, my favorite ever New York Yankees player, doubled in his first at bat last night against Tampa, his 2,998th big league hit.

Jeter will be headed to Phoenix next week as the starting shortstop, voted in by the fans, his 12th selection.

Jeter missed 18 games because of a foot injury, and he's not been the player he once was.

Playing baseball at age 37 isn't as easy as it was at 27.
He's hitting just .257, well under his career average of .312.

Jeter also has a .321 on base percentage, and a slugging % of just .329.

Those number aren't All-Star caliber, I get that.
I didn't vote for Jeter this year, I gave my votes to the Indians Asdrubal Cabrera.

The foot injury, combined with the low stats have been fodder for anti-Jeter fans, and have media guys debating Jeter's place in history.

Derek Jeter has been a model citizen since the day he was drafted out of Kalamazoo Central High School in 1992.

The 6th overall pick by the Yanks, Jeter has been a pillar on and off the baseball diamond, never once having been linked to any sort of bad behavior or scandals off the field, and he has never been accused of steroid use, or the use of any other performance enhancing drugs.

As far as I know, Jeter has never been arrested, the police have never gone to Jeter's house for domestic violence charges, nor have I ever heard of Jeter beating up a girlfriend.

On the field Jeter has been the cornerstone of the newest New York Yankee dynasty, the Captain of the team.

Since stepping into the big leagues since 1996, Jeter has been nothing short of the ultimate professional ball player.

The Yankees have won 5 World Series since Jeter's Rookie of the Year season of '96, and they played in two other series, 7 in all.


That's the number of times Derek Jeter has run out onto the baseball diamond to play a game.

9,602 times Jeter has come to the plate, reaching base 3,970 times by hit or walk.

Derek Jeter is the Yankees All-Time hits leader.

Derek Jeter has scored 1.725 runs, he had 480 doubles, 62 triples, and 262 home runs.

Derek Jeter has won 5 Gold Gloves as a shortstop, he has won 4 Silver Slugger Awards, and he is the only baseball player to win both the All-Star Game and World Series MVP in the same season, 2000.

Now, I'm not going to say that Jeter is as good a player, or better, than Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joltin' Joe DiMaggio,Mickey  Mantle, or Yogi Berra.

Derek Jeter is just as deserving, however, to be listed among those great Yankee players, and he deserves to be mentioned with the best short stops the game has ever produced.

DiMaggio would probably be the Yanks All-Time hits leader had he not missed time during WWII.

Gehrig became ill, causing him to retire long before his time.

Mantle and Ruth just plain didn't take care of themselves off the field, causing them to miss many games, many at bats, and a lot more base hits.

The way some baseball fans tell it, Jeter is an average at best player.

Those fans are either anti-Yankee fans, or are simply jealous because he didn't play for their team.

Everything Derek Jeter is, was, and will be on the baseball field, has been done with the utmost class and admiration for the game of baseball.

Derek Jeter is what baseball is all about.

Derek Jeter is one of the reasons why young fans want to be baseball players.

If you don't appreciate Derek Jeter, then I feel sorry for you.

When Jeter goes into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which he will, and on the first ballot, it will be the crowning achievement of a remarkable career, from a remarkable man.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th!

Today is July 4th, 2011, the 235th anniversary of our great country.

Baseball and July 4th are synonyms with one another.

Bar-B-Q, picnics, playing baseball, they all go together so well.

The 4th of July is also important in baseball lore.

Fans use to mark holidays, Memorial Day, the 4th, and Labor Day, as bench marks in the pennant race.

If your favorite team was in first place on the 4th of July, the odds of them winning the pennant were very good.

In the old days, and yes, I remember them, 162 games included real double headers, faster games, at a shorter season.

Yes, a real double header, two games for the price of one ticket, played on the same day, with the second game played about 20 minuets, or so, after game number one.

With the double headers, the season didn't last as long into the season, so a team in first place on the 4th of July would have the upper hand on going to the World Series, or, after 1968, the playoffs.

July 4th baseball is also special because it was summer time, and we were always up early to go out and play baseball on the sandlots of Portage, Michigan, where I grew up.

We'd be gone all day playing baseball, although I would always run home to catch the Detroit Tigers if they were on TV.

Most times we carried a transistor radio so we could listen to the Tigers game as described to us by Hall of Fame announcer Ernie Harwell.

Now days baseball goes all out on the 4th of July with special caps for the players to wear, and all kinds of great promotions all around the big leagues, and, of course, the minor leagues as well.

Today I was watching the Cubs game, and color commentator Bob Brenly noticed two embroidered stars on the back collar of Cubs short stop Starlin Castro's uniform.

He was assuming, he wasn't sure, that those stars were for Castro's selection to the All-Star Game next week in Arizona.

No one else on the Cubs, with the exception of manager Mike Quade, had the stars on the back of their uniform, so it's almost certain that's what they're for.

I'll be interested to watch other games tonight, including the Tigers game, to see if, indeed, those stars are on all the uniforms of other All-Stars players.

As I said, baseball and the holiday's, especially the 4th of July, are part of what makes baseball special.

I've added a new blog to the list of baseball blogs that I like to read.

It's "Murph Talks, The Official Dale Murphy Blog," written by former two time National League MVP Dale Murphy.

Go over and check out the former Braves blog at Murph Talks

If you already didn't know, the MLB Final Vote is now under way.

Five A.L. and five N.L. players are on the "Final Vote" ballot, with one winner from each league being added onto the final roster for next weeks All-Star Game.

Voting is unlimited, you may vote as many times as you like.

I've been voting since the announcement yesterday afternoon, and I'll keep voting for the Tigers Victor Martinez and the Rockies Todd Helton until the voting ends Thursday at 4 PM.

Make sure you vote for your favorite player.
If you don't have a fave player, or just don't know, help me and the other Tigers fans by voting for a very worthy candidate in Victor Martinez.

So, after Hot Dogs, baked beans, and mac & cheese, it's time to relax the rest of the day, watch some baseball, some fireworks, and, I hope, a Tigers win in Anaheim later tonight.

Until next time, Play Ball!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Thank You

Today I saw that this blog has gone to over 20,000 page views.

To all of you who have checked out the blog, and especially to those of you who keep coming back, I say thank you.

I love baseball, and I'm very blessed that you baseball fans continue to come back and read the postings of a guy who is just passionate about baseball.

I'm not a professional, and have never claimed to be.

I just write what's on my mind, or about things that led to me becoming a baseball fan.

Have a great 4th of July weekend!