Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hit parade...

Chase-d away early: Monday was tough on Jorge De La Rosa and the Rockies who gave up 20 runs to the Phils, including 6 RBI to Chase "MVP?" Utley.

Pitchin' ain't easy: Has anyone else noticed that, dating back to the early 90's, nearly all of the relatively young MLB players who have unexpectedly died have been pitchers?

Bruce Almighty: So Jay Bruce has had two nice games so far. I'll still be surprised if he puts up Ryan Braun-like numbers this year. But then again, I dropped Braun last year...

Dangerous Mind: Padres' GM Paul DePodesta, who earlier this decade helped Billy Beane revolutionize scouting, has started his own blog.

Trivia: In 2007, the Chicago Cubs won at least 20 of the games that one of their pitchers started. Who was that pitcher?

Monday, May 26, 2008

It's easy to forget

I mentioned earlier that I'm reading The Head Game: Baseball Seen from the Pitcher's Mound by Roger Kahn. Originally I picked up this book from the library because I thought it would give me insights into the intricacies of the battle between a major league pitcher and batter, but so far it's been a disappointment in that department. However, I'm about four chapters into the book, and it has gone into some interesting baseball history.

Here's an excerpt:
You cannot trace the early evolution of baseball with consistent precision, nor can you even follow the game far back through the centuries. It was never a sport of kings and bishops, as tennis was, and our knowledge of medieval times springs almost entirely from court and church. (Ordinary medieval folk left no records behind; few could read or write.)

To be sure, baseball is related to rounders, an English game of ball played not on a diamond but on a pentagon, and to cricket, the "summer pastime of the English race." A British manuscript from 1250 delineates two male figures playing a game of bat and ball. The left-hand figure is a batman, who holds hi weapon upright. The right-hand figure is a fielder, who waits with hands extended. Another manuscript, in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, entitled "The Romance of Good King Alexander," shows a bowler--cricket for pitcher--and defensive players in the field. All are monks. The date of this manuscript is April 18, 1344; one can dreamily imagine that spring afternoon on a greensward in the Thames Valley or on Salisbury Plain as the first opening day.

King Edward III (1327-1377) disparaged creag, as cricket was then called, and in 1477 Edward IV tried to interdict the sport entirely. Anyone allowing creag to be played on his premises was subject to three years' imprisonment and a fine of twenty pounds. This was to discourage entrepreneurs, the medieval Rickeys and Steinbrenners and Murdochs. The players themselves were subject to two years in jail and a ten-pound fine. All implements--the balls and bats--were to be burned. English kings wanted their yeomen to work at martial skills, particularly archery. In the royal view, games of bat and ball were useless to the developing empire. But bans against creag in the fifteenth century seem to have been no more successful than the prohibition against drinking whiskey in the United States 450 years later.
And speaking of the United States:
Alexander Cartwright, an amateur athlete and surveyor, prepared the first written baseball rules in New York City in 1845. Cartwright set the number of players at nine per side. He sketched a model of the playing area with bases approximately thirty strikes apart. His diamond is recognizable today. But finding a modern balance between pitcher and batter was beyond Cartwright's formidable inventive skills. that balance was half a century away.

In the Cartwright diamond, the pitcher released the ball behind a line forty-five feet distant from home plate, which was round, rather than the pentagon we know. One can understand the reasoning of Cartwright, the surveyor. Separate the bases by ninety feet; spearate the pitcher and batter by half the distance. For the rest of the nineteenth century, baseball people tinkered ceaselessly with just about every aspect of the pitcher's trade. By raising or lowering the mound, by redefining the strike zone and fine-tuning the interpreations of balks, baseball people still tinker today.

The Cartwright rules spread through the Northeast after 1846, and Union soldiers carried them throughout the country during the Civil War. In the eleven months of the siege of Vicksburg, baseball became a favorite leisure game of the besieging army. Just four years after the war, the first professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, loaded with former cricket stars, appeared.
While it seems obvious now, I hadn't previously put that 1869 Red Stockings team in the context of the Civil War's immediate aftermath. Furthermore, I find it fascinating to picture the location of that team. Cincinnati borders Kentucky, which was a critical state in the Civil War.

While wars have raged around the world, these past 143 years since the Civil War have been relatively peaceful on our nation's soil; and for 139 of those years we've had professional baseball.

It's easy to forget how much of our nation's good fortunes are dependent upon the brave men and women who have served in our military throughout the decades; and to think, that military has sometimes included some of our best baseball players.

So I guess this was kind of a long post just to say that, while most days out of the year I ashamedly forget our military's heroic record of sacrifice, today I do remember.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Is Yost toast?

I haven't watched many Brewer games, so I'm not in much of a position to judge Ned Yost as a manager. However, it did raise a red flag with me last year when the Brewers called up Yovani Gallardo and immediately put him in the bullpen. If that was Yost's decision, then I will count that as a strike against him. As far as I'm concerned, when you have a top-flight prospect like Gallardo you don't bring him up to the majors to sit around in the bullpen for a month before inserting him into the starting rotation. Why mess up his rhythm?

In any case, my point here is that the Brewers are in 4th place, and it seems that the pressure is building on Yost. Sure, it's not his fault his team doesn't have a bullpen and the starters are injured, but professional sports are brutal. When things go bad, the manager is usually among the first to go.

There is currently much speculation as to which MLB manager will be the next one canned. Who would your guess be?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Manny being Manny

If Manny Ramirez didn't have two rings on his way to Cooperstown, then the following video wouldn't be funny. But he does, and it is:

HT: Fantasy Baseball Generals

Sunday, May 18, 2008

How's that trade working out for Detroit?

Last December the sports world went abuzz when Detroit traded away their top prospects to Florida for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. The conventional wisdom at the time, as I remember it, was that this trade was exactly what Detroit needed to return to the World Series. And as for the Marlins? Well, many experts seemingly couldn't help but feel sorry for that small market team's fans.

My first reaction to the deal was one of surprise. Yes, it was an aggressive move by the Tigers, but the more I looked at it, the less I liked it. Adding Miguel Cabrera seemed fine to me, but adding Dontrelle Willis didn't. Then when I began to consider what the Tigers would have to pay Cabrera as well as the number of quality prospects they gave up, the trade started looking more and more desperate. Whereas on Florida's side, I felt they had done well to ship out Willis's and Cabrera's contracts while at the same time getting some top prospects in return; they had "diversified their funds" so to speak, and that made sense to me.

What I didn't expect was for Detroit to start out this season with the worst record in the AL through May 18. Nor did I expect the Marlins to be leading the NL East (many picked the Mets, Phillies, or Braves). These teams have both been surprises this year, although I think Detroit's troubles are mainly found in a non-existent bullpen (injuries) along with mediocre starting pitching. With regard to the Marlins, well, their young talent is finally taking it to the next level which is always among hardest things to predict in baseball.

I still believe one should usually wait at least three years before really judging a baseball trade, and this one is no different. However, that won't stop me from speculating; and as far as I'm concerned, the Marlins got the better end of the deal. Not only is their team playing better than the Tigers this season, their talent is younger and they have a better farm system going.

Although, while it's surprising to see the Marlins atop the NL East, what's more shocking is that they might not even be the best team in the Sunshine State...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

That's so money

Sorry I've been a bit AWOL this week. Next week I plan to blog more, and there will be plenty of baseball things for me to tell the world.

In the meantime, I just wanted to say that I finally got around to reading Moneyball by Michael Lewis. I really enjoyed it, and I imagine that I'll get at least a couple of posts out of it.

Next up I plan to read The Head Game by Roger Kahn. I haven't started it yet, but I did glance at the dedication page in the beginning:
"To Clem, for fifty years of friendship and one title."
Hmm... that sounds like it could also be a projection for C-Lauff's UPL career.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


A little over 25 years ago the Cubs had just lost a tough one-run ball game to the Dodgers at Wrigley Field, dropping their record to 5-14 on the young season. Making matters worse, Cubs fans had been booing and heckling their own team throughout the game, and afterward a few of the Cubs players nearly got into a fight with some of the fans. When Cubs manager Lee Elia was asked about the depressing state of his team after the game, he flat out lost it and went on one of the most legendary sports rants of all time.

Here in May 2008 my fantasy baseball team, like those 1983 Cubs, has gotten off to a disappointing start; and the frustration is starting to set in. If you were to ask me today why my fantasy baseball team is doing so poorly, my answer would go something like this:

Warning: The language in this video is not appropriate for Little League.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Hit parade...

Feeling Chipper's Bat: The Reds' pitching got roughed up by the Braves 14-7 on Sunday. Chipper Jones had 5 RBI (good for my fantasy team), but woe to anyone who had Bronson Arroyo starting: 1.1 IP, 7 ER, 7 H, 1 BB.

Who Shot J.R.? I'm embarrassed to admit that I used my waiver priority to take Houston catcher J.R. Towles early this season. He's only mired in a minor 9 for 55 slump over the past month. And by "minor," I mean if he keeps this up he'll be back in the minor leagues.

Wang Chung Havin' Fun: Chien-Ming Wang is now 6-0 with a 3.00 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 32 K in 45 IP. Two years ago I heard some expert say Wang had the best stuff on the Yankees staff, including Randy Johnson. It looks like he's finally living up to that hype. (And yes, I regret dropping him from my team last season!)

Bale Break: Royals pitcher John Bale, already on the DL with a bum shoulder, broke his throwing hand while punching a hotel door in a fit of rage on Friday. I know it sounds stupid, but I've punched a door too. I think it was about a month after I dropped Wang...

Happy Trails, Julio: In case you haven't heard, Julio Franco, age 49, finally retired from baseball last week. When he homered off Randy Johnson last year he became the oldest player to homer in the majors. I'll miss Julio. He and Eric Davis had two of my favorite batting stances.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Presenting the Charlie Hustle Award

When I first started this baseball blog, I wasn't sure what tone or direction it would take. Heck, I didn't even know if anybody would read it. However, as this blog enters its second month, I've already been more than pleased with the baseball discussions that I've had with people here online as well as offline. It's been a fun start to the season.

So in the spirit of being inclusive, and in building confidence in others, I've decided that it's time this blog start giving public recognition to its readers. Yes, I'm talking about an award.

A prestigious award, of course.

Now, I'm sure the last thing you expected when you went to check this blog today was a prestigious award ceremony. However, just like in baseball, with this blog you've got to be ready at all times. (I hope you're dressed for the occasion.)

So, without further ado, the My Baseball Fantasy blog presents "The Charlie Hustle Award."

This award is given to a reader who demonstrates an obsessive passion for baseball at all times--even at times when he or she probably shouldn't. Much the same way that Pete Rose (a.k.a. "Charlie Hustle") bulldozed Ray Fosse at home plate in the supposedly just-for-fun 1970 All-Star Game, the Charlie Hustle Award Winner goes all out all the time for all things baseball. And like Charlie Hustle himself, makes no apologies for it.

I had a very difficult task in choosing who would win the first ever Charlie Hustle Award on this blog. There were many qualified candidates and, in their own way, they are all winners. However, as with any prestigious award, there can only be one winner at a time; and, after carefully reviewing all of the nominees, one did start to stand out.

I had known for quite a while that my co-worker Paul was a baseball fan. However, it wasn't until this season that I realized just how passionate he is for both the MLB and fantasy baseball. Whether he's laughing his way to the bank in Vegas betting against over-the-hill pitchers, boasting about ripping somebody off in a trade, telling me about obscure sites to read for extra baseball knowledge, or spending all of his fantasy basketball winnings to pay $120 for's online TV coverage complete with 6 window screens at once with audio alerts for whenever one of his fantasy players is coming to the plate, Paul (a.k.a. "Pauly") has continued to demonstrate an unparalleled commitment to "America's Pastime."

There isn't a plaque or prize money to go with this award. Heck, I don't even have a paper certificate for you. But Pauly, just know that this honor will be enshrined forever on this blog, and nobody can ever take it from you.

Congratulations to today's Charlie Hustle Award Winner... Pauly!