October 2010

TinCaps season in review (pitching)

Like most times, when I promise something, I’ll deliver. This time, it’s about two months late, but hey… it’s not like you’re paying to read this.

A few things to keep in mind:

  1. I’m not a scout and I don’t claim to be one. But I did see 143 games from this team. And, to quote a one-time MLB manager when I deferred to him on a player evaluation, “Your eyes are as good as everyone else’s.”
  2. Some guys are in here, some aren’t. It could be because they weren’t here long enough to form a good opinion, injuries were part of the deal, I don’t think it’s right burying somebody or none of the above. If you have a question, ask in the comments.
  3. As any worthwhile MiLB review goes, this is player-oriented, not team-oriented.
  4. I’ll try to mention it when talking about individual players, but just because a player didn’t have a great year doesn’t mean he isn’t a good player. Scouts usually grade players on “present” and “future” ability. Potential is a huge part of this level of the game. College players usually aren’t considered to have as much untapped potential as high school or international players.

And now, your 20-o-10 TinCaps pitching review!

RHP Dexter Carter: The guy was leading the SAL in strikeouts when he came over in the Jake Peavy trade, but he’s had a rough, rough time in the Padres’ system. Started the year in Fort Wayne, had command problems, got sent back to extended spring training, went to Eugene, cleaned up the command problems (never walked more than three in a single outing). Put it this way: Imagine you’ve had success in your job. Then one day, you can’t do it the way you used to. You have to completely re-learn a different way of doing something you used to be able to do incredibly well. Mentally and physically, it’s going to be tough.

LHP Jose De Paula: Woah. Stayed behind in spring training as he returned from a stress fracture in his elbow, got here in late May and took off. There were stretches where he may have been the best starting pitcher on the team. You know, like when he went seven hitless innings against Dayton on June 17. May have run out of gas toward the end of the year, despite a low innings cap. Good enough fastball, nice breaking ball (especially coming off an elbow injury), changeup was solid. As long as he’s healthy next year, it could be a breakout season.

RHP Matt Lollis: Jumped off the page when he got here. First off, he’s enormous (6-foot-9, 275 pounds might be selling him sort). Workhorse body. It’s easy to pigeonhole a guy like him into the “big, dumb animal” category. That’s not him at all. He throws hard (90-94 mph on the fastball), throws two breaking balls (slider more often than the curve) and a changeup, AND LOCATES(!). Maybe the best part about him is, he gets it. He has big-guy stuff but still thinks the game. The first time we talked this year he said he felt himself getting out of his mechanics and adjusted on the fly. THE GUY JUST TURNED TWENTY YEARS OLD! He got a full season’s worth of innings between extended spring, Eugene, Fort Wayne and a playoff start with Lake Elsinore, so the Padres could push him. But I’m not sure there’s a huge reason to do so. Also, he can hit. Slapped a double in a game, put on laser shows during pitchers’ batting practice. What I’m trying to say here is, Matt Lollis: he’s good.

RHP Miles Mikolas: Downloaded the wallpaper, grew a mustache in his honor… I’m on board. Young for a college guy (turned 22 in August), was really reliable out of the bullpen as a setup guy then as a closer, fastball in the low- to mid-90s, good breaking ball. Give him the ball and watch him go. Also tells a good fishing story and was the first player I’ve ever been around who asked to be interviewed for the pre-game show. The sure way to a radio guy’s heart.

RHP Nick Schumacher: Set our franchise record for ERA for a reliever last year. Started this season with Lake Elsinore, struggled and came back here, went back to Elsinore late in the year. I really don’t know what happens to him when he gets to the California League, because he’s lights out in the MWL. Pitchers, catchers, coaches, scouts… they all talked about how nasty his cut fastball was. He was hitting 93-94 with the fastball at times when he was here. He’s 25, so he’s got to make it happen soon, but he’s shown flashes of really good stuff.

LHP Josh Spence: Threw about 95 percent off-speed stuff, which was fun to watch when he was getting guys out. The fastball was 87-88 when he finally threw one, but I’m not sure that’ll work at higher levels (or even older teams in this league; I’m looking at you, Great Lakes). I have to believe there’s more giddyup in the fastball when his arm is right (nerve problem in his elbow wiped out his college season at Arizona State). If he even gets the fastball to 90 mph and throws it a little more, he’ll be fine.

RHP Jerry Sullivan: Was with us all year. Young (22) for a college guy, third-rounder out of a smaller school (Oral Roberts), had Tommy John surgery in high school. The poster boy for numbers not telling the whole story. Stuff is good (mid-90s fastball, really good slider, decent changeup), good competitor, puts his work in. But for whatever reason, the defense behind him was almost always horrible. Plus, for about two months of the season he had no chance to get a win because his innings limit was below five. He’s good.

LHP Mike Watt: He was a young 18 when the Dodgers drafted him in the second round (2007) and they just about threw him until his arm fell off (Nine-inning complete game in rookie ball? Really?), so it feels like he’s old, but he’s not. He pitched the entire season at 21 and seemed like he ran out of gas late. But he said he was throwing harder than he had in two years (91-93 topping out), which set up his off-speed stuff which was pretty good (big slow curve, good changeup). Don’t write him off.

Random thoughts

  • Did the Giants really score 11 runs last night? I wasn’t sure they’d score 11 runs the entire World Series. Also, for the record, Juan Uribe hit a home run, but he still has the worst swing of any position player in Major League Baseball.
  • Matt Cain really hasn’t allowed any runs the entire postseason? Woah.
  • Barry Bonds wants to be a hitting coach. Yikes.
  • I love this article about the LeBron/Cavs thing. And this one. You know what the main difference between LeBron and Jordan is, to me? LeBron was always the golden child on the basketball court. He never got cut from anything, was always told he was the greatest. He never had to deal with real, honest-to-God adversity on the basketball court. Didn’t win the state title in high school? No big deal, you’re going pro soon. Didn’t win the title in Cleveland? Don’t worry, those guys were bums, you’re better than this, let’s go to Miami. Jordan has the famous story of being cut from his high school team. Of course, he ended up at North Carolina where he was a star, but Jordan was a killer first, a businessman second. LeBron seems like he’s got it the other way around. And that’s fine if the goal is to get really rich without having a reputation as a championship lead dog. They just seem like they’re wired differently. But… as Albert Einstein once said, haters gonna hate.
  • Volleyball grudge match tonight between the two TinCaps teams. My prediction? Pain. Although I think Tony DesPlaines has endured enough pain during volleyball games lately. Hint: When you get hit in the face by a spike, it’s called a six pack. Not long ago, Tony got (unintentionally) two-packed by Brian Schackow.

Next time: Brent and Dan’s Excellent (shopping) Adventure and 20-o-10 hitters season review.

And now, musical guest… Scott McKenzie!

Take care!

DW

The worst day of the off-season so far

My heart aches today. Why? Because Burt Reynolds was released by the Tampa Bay Rays. You may remember Burt from such hits as Smokey and the Bandit and grand slams during blowout, four-hour games against the TinCaps. Let’s hope a team with a Midwest League affiliate scoops him up and we have more Burt next year.

In a possibly related story, the soul-crushing Fort Wayne winter is almost here. It’s getting oppressively windy, it’s moving toward the sun going down at 3:00 in the afternoon and our first real cold day is supposed to come tomorrow. I think it’s a reflection of the world’s sadness upon hearing about Burt being released. Count me out.

Also, take a look at the minor-league transactions from Baseball America. The Padres signed a few guys who played in independent leagues last year.


Random thoughts:

  • Looks like the Padres will be looking for a couple of hitters for the top of the lineup this off-season. The numbers from the top two spots weren’t pretty last year.
  • The baseball players’ union head talked about a few potential changes in years to come. Key points: expanded playoffs and arbitration eligibility changes could be coming soon. Expanded playoffs? Ehh. I don’t know that the current system is broken. Arbitration eligibility sounds good to change. How many times have we seen teams wait until June 1 to call rookies up to the big leagues just to avoid burning a year of arbitration eligibility? Examples: Evan Longoria, Mike Stanton, Carlos Santana. Switch it up and let teams do what’s best for themselves on the field.
  • Looks pretty official: the Padres’ Triple-A team will play in Tuscon, Ariz., next year. And they won’t be known as the Toros. They also won’t play at Hi Corbett Field, maybe known best as the Indians’ spring training site in the movie “Major League.”
  • Baseball America released its MLB All-Rookie team. This is a REALLY talented group. Buster Posey, Starlin Castro, Jason Heyward, Mike Stanton, Madison Bumgarner, Wade Davis, Brian Matusz, Neftali Feliz. Woah.
  • Compared to the NFL and NBA, baseball’s problems seem relatively
    small. Maybe it’s because baseball remembers what it was like to have
    labor problems. The NFL owners clearly don’t care about the players (the
    only reason they’re suddenly worried about head injuries is that they
    want an 18-game regular season… which only means there will be more,
    but different types of, injuries). The NBA looks like it’s headed for a strike/lockout, they’ve had referees coming out with stories of fixing games, they don’t call traveling anyway… Then there’s college football…
  • I’m not a big Rick Reilly fan, because I usually like to read things based on research and inside info rather than ranting. But I agree with him here… If Boise State isn’t in the top two in the BCS, to quote Mike Gundy, that’s garbage. I hope they run the table and cause real problems, because the BCS system has gotten lucky the way things have shaken out over the last few years.
  • Speaking of ranting… Watched LeBron’s new commercial and nearly threw the monitor through the wall. What should you do, LeBron? For starters, how about stop being that kid who was the best athlete in gym class but then faked injuries when he miraculously wasn’t the last guy left in the game of dodgeball? Secondly, quit acting like you’re the first person to ever get backlash after doing something dumb/controversial. But then I realized I watched the commercial, so he got what he wanted. Dangit. Bitterness: Cleveland’s most abundant resource.
  • Someone told me there should be an “Over the Top” clip in every post. If that’s what people what, that’s what people get.
  • Dave Hutte status update: So, Brett Favre’s ankle fracture is similar to the one I had that nearly cost me the whole season my senior year at Norwalk. I was in a cast for 11 weeks.
  • If there were ever a surgery to correct this ankle injury, I nominate it be called “Dave Hutte surgery.” Kind of like Tommy John surgery, only not.

And now, in honor of our friend Burt Reynolds, musical guest… Jerry Reed!

Take care!

DW

Fake bands, fake punts, fake profiles

Fake bands

This weekend, I played the Rock Band video game for the first time ever. That it’s taken me this long is utterly ridiculous, considering the borderline-unhealthy amount of time I spend listening to music on a daily basis. Anyway, it was unbelievably fun and I’ve decided the biggest key for having a good band is a good drummer (which we had), and everything else is gravy. Also, let’s just say the Watson Family Rock Band is looking for world tour dates. We’ll be coming to a town near you soon. Tony DesPlaines is our lead singer, I (obviously) am on lead guitar and Chris slaps the bass. Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” was our finale, as if you had to ask.

Fake punts

Did you see the Browns put the beatdown of a lifetime on the Saints yesterday? I know I did. It’s a total fluke game (the Saints probably beat the Browns at least 8 out of 10 times), but there wasn’t much luck to it. The Browns picked off Drew Brees four times and they should’ve had at least two more. Nobody was open. When the punter is ripping off 65-yard runs going down an interstate-highway-wide stretch of open field, you know something crazy is happening. Unreal. The Browns still aren’t good and Colt McCoy shouldn’t be starting, but it was a fun game to watch.

Fake profiles

I’ve asked everyone in the office to update (or at least attempt to update) his or her staff profile page. There have been some pretty good lines in them, but the most preposterous came from one Michael Limmer, who lists “reads The Watson Files religiously” as one of the three things fans wouldn’t know about him. Lies.

Random thoughts

  • I read a column today about what the Yankees need to do over the off-season. One of the items was “sign Cliff Lee,” and it said, “just imagine a Yankees rotation Sabathia and Lee as 1 and 1A.” Hello? McFly? We’ve already seen that. The team was called the 2008 Cleveland Indians. Sigh.
  • I’m going to Columbus, Ohio, this weekend. I’m so excited, I’m about to lose control and I think I like it.
  • Watched large chunks of “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” last night. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Be excellent to each other. And, party on, dudes!”

And now, musical guest… Wolfmother!

Take care!

DW

Scouring the internets

Hopefully this entry is better than this season of “Eastbound and Down.” It can’t be much worse.

As you probably know from the tales of the TinCaps Bowling League, our front office likes to get out and enjoy the quasi-leisure sports. This year I’ve been drafted into a rec volleyball league. Last night was opening night. Highlights:

  • My team lost our first game and didn’t look good. Then we did what any respectable group of losers would do: we went into the locker room, listened to an epic motivational speech, switched uniforms and came out to rally.
  • Seriously, we won our next three matches.
  • Word on the street is Tony DesPlaines (playing on the other TinCaps volleyball team, Bust-A-Cap) announced his presence with authority with a vicious spike and had opponents playing scared for the rest of the night. Like a young Dalton making examples out of people at the Double Deuce. We’ll find out for sure next week when our teams go head-to-head.
  • I discovered that serving volleyballs is kind of like pitching: you have to mess with the other team’s timing. The dead-fish changeup/knuckleball was a pretty good weapon. Now I have to figure out how to put more stank on the fastball. Kind of like my pitching days.
  • The two TinCaps teams went 7-1 combined. Complete and utter domination, although we play in the lowest level of league there is. So just consider us the Dodgers’ affiliate of our league.
  • Did I say that out loud?


Links

  • I’m so mad I didn’t write this about a playoff game parallelling 90s hit sitcom “My Two Dads,” but I’ll admit when I’m beaten and let you enjoy anyway.
  • How about Huey Lewis and the News singing the National Anthem the other night before the Giants-Phillies game? The more I hear them, the more stunned I am that I got to go to  a free concert. Not even kidding.
  • MLB is thinking about instituting a special seven-day concussion-only DL. In the minors, you can always come off the DL after seven days, regardless of injury. In the majors, it’s 15 days at least.
  • Eric Wedge to the Mariners? Didn’t see that one coming.
  • Mike Quade gets the interim tag removed as Cubs manager? Interesting.
  • A lot of people thought Ryne Sandberg should’ve gotten the job. Ehh. The mistake the Cubs made was the “wink-wink-nudge-nudge” deal that if Sandberg worked his way up through the minors, it was understood he’d probably get the job one day. Problem with that is this: Managers are hired to get fired. How are you going to fire a guy who has the undying love of the fan base? Do you let him hang on too long, potentially hurting his standing with the fans? Basically, if you’re going to hire Ryne Sandberg to manage the Cubs, you’d better be dang sure it’s going to work. With the way they played this year (until Quade took over, at least), I don’t blame them for being a little unsure.
  • Ben Chiswick is the radio guy for West Michigan. He’s as knowledgeable of a Cubs fan as I know (sorry, Dave Hutte). Ben said during the season Joe Girardi was the guy for the job, just like he was when the Cubs hired Lou Piniella. I’ll take his word for it.
  • Can we just watch the open for Reading Rainbow right now? Where have you gone, LeVar Burton? People don’t want to read anymore.
  • Good story about Mike Williams, the USC receiver-turned fat guy-turned-Seattle Seahawk. An example of how so many athletes waste their talent because they don’t have their minds set on succeeding.
  • On the other end of that spectrum, Brad Brach needs your vote for the MiLBY Award as Best Reliever in Advanced-A baseball. Last time I looked he was in dead last in the fan voting. The guy set a record for saves in the California League and he can’t get out of last place in the voting? Come on, people!
  • Speaking of Brach, how’s this for a line in the hitter-friendly Arizona Fall League: 4 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K. That’s it.
  • Hey look! A card trick! Neat!
  • Dave Hutte is on a five-day weekend, so no good status updates lately.

And now, musical guest… Huey Lewis and the News!

Take care!

DW

Only on Pay-Per-View. And free blogs.

Big week we’ve got going already. Maybe we’ll get to Bed, Bath and Beyond, I don’t know. I don’t know if we’ll have enough time.

Bullet points:

  • Miles Mikolas and Brad Brach are candidates for MiLBY Awards as Best Reliever at the Class-A and Advanced-A levels, respectively. If you don’t vote, we’re not friends anymore.
  • Brach’s unofficial campaign slogan: Brach the Vote.
  • Mikolas’ unofficial campaign slogan: The Man, The Myth, The Mustache, The MiLBY.
  • My ability to drum up hype for unimportant-yet-incredibly-fun events has been getting a big test lately. Between this MiLBY campaign and some work over the weekend that may or may not have occurred at a bellyflop contest, I’ve been hollering from the highest mountains about a lot of stuff. Someone compared my style to “The Mouth from the South” Jimmy Hart. So a guy who has been called “the manager of champions” and is a WWF Hall of Famer. A combination of Rod Roddy (RIP) and Don King with a mullet. This may be the highest compliment I’ve ever received.
  • I love wildlife, but why did the WWF have to change to WWE? Couldn’t we have two WWF’s? Couldn’t the wildlife people change to WWA, World Wildlife Association? Couldn’t we have settled it with a steel cage match for charity? When Dave Hutte tries to explain wrestling events occurring since 2003, WWE just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
  • Donovan Tate to Fort Wayne in 2011? No promises, but it’s looking likely, says farm director Randy Smith. Tate seems healthy and was the Padres’ instructional league MVP.
  • They’re getting close to figuring out what’s going on with the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate. According to this, which is according to Baseball America, it’ll be 2011 in Tuscon, then southern California for the foreseeable future. Still not completely concrete.
  • “The Big Dog” Hayden Beard is staying busy in Australia during the off-season. Hands down, he and Mikolas were my favorite TinCaps to hold court with during batting practice this year. Why? Check out this interview (it’s the fourth link down). Toward the end of the interview when he gets going, it’s gold, Jerry, gold!
  • I’m looking for a book to put in the on-deck circle for when I finish Lies My Teacher Told Me. The Last Boy, about Mickey Mantle, seems like a prime candidate, although I prefer to expand my horizons beyond baseball.
  • Dave Hutte status update: Metaphors be with you.
  • See what he did there?

And now… musical guest, Ben Harper!

Take care!

DW

I told ya, homeboy

First off, the title of this entry was inspired by one MC Hammer. Can we enjoy that for just a minute?

OK… Now for a quick story about my trip home to Conneaut, Ohio for the Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival.

So my cousin (who is in first grade) and I were throwing the ol’ pigskin around near a covered bridge. On one throw, he dropped the ball and it went rolling down a hill. Next thing I hear is him saying in a slightly freaked-out way, “There’s a fox down there!” I walked over to check out the situation. No fox. It was much worse. The ball had rolled down the hill, through a bunch of brush and came to rest up against… a dead deer. So being the older guy, I had to go down the hill and get the ball. I was freaked out a little bit too. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Anyway, we got the game going again and started flinging touchdown passes all over the northeast Ohio area. I’d throw the ball, he’d take off running to the pretend end zone and yell out, “Touchdown!” So every once in a while I’d throw in a celebratory, “YYYYYYYYYYYESSSSS!” Another cousin, 16 months old, was sitting on a picnic table behind me playing with some Legos. One time, I turned around and gave him the double, “YYYYYESSSSS!” Next thing I know, he’s laughing like crazy and yelling, “YYYYYESSSSS!” right back at me. By the time the football playing was over, he was yelling it even when nothing was going on. But that’s not all.

Yesterday, three days after the original “YYYYYYYYYYESSSSS!”-fest, I got a text from my mom. Apparently, 16-month-old cousin was asked by his mom if he would like some juice. His response?

“YYYYYYYYYYYYYYESSSSSSSSS!”

And that’s the story of my trip home. Deer carcasses and corrupting the youth of America.

Prospect Lists

Baseball America finished up its minor-league prospect lists today with the Triple-A Pacific Coast League Top-20 list coming out. Eleven Fort Wayne alums were on their leagues’ lists. Here’s the rundown of Padres on the lists, alumni in italics, rank in parenthesis:

Arizona Rookie League
OF Donavan Tate (3)

Northwest League (Short-A)
INF Jedd Gyorko (3)
RHP Matt Lollis (6)
OF Rymer Liriano (8)
RHP Adys Portillo (9)

RHP Keyvius Sampson (12)
OF Rico Noel (19)

Midwest League (Class-A)
RHP Matt Lollis (19)

California League (Advanced-A)
OF Jaff Decker (7)
INF Drew Cumberland (20)

Texas League (Double-A)

RHP Simon Castro (8)
LHP Cory Luebke (11)
INF James Darnell (13)
RHP Wynn Pelzer (19)

Pacific Coast League (Triple-A)

LHP Cory Luebke (19)

The one guy who sticks out to me is Rymer Liriano. He had an odd year. Came in the No. 14 prospect in the San Diego organization. Skipped short-season ball and made the opening-day roster in Fort Wayne at the age of 18, struggled (hit .191, struck out almost 29% of the time, had a 1-for-44 stretch in May but showed some flashes of power, speed, arm) and didn’t look like he was quite ready for this level. Went back to extended spring training to get ready for Eugene’s short season.  Went to Eugene and went nuts (was hitting .319 on August 1 before cooling off), stole 17 bases but didn’t hit a single home run while still striking out 25% of the time. Sent to Lake Elsinore in late August around the same time Jaff Decker got hurt. Got off to a good start, slowed down late, ended up hitting .220 (respectable for a guy who turned 19 during the season).

Obviously he did enough in Eugene to impress the managers and scouts. He strikes out a lot and doesn’t walk much (although he was a little better with the walks in Eugene and Lake Elsinore). When he was here, he had a tendency to lunge toward the mound when he was swinging. He’s really strong physically and can throw the heck out of the ball from the outfield. We’ll see what happens with him next year. He’ll still only be 19 on Opening Day.

Random thoughts

  • Tony DesPlaines slaved all day designing some TinCaps desktop wallpaper the other day. My favorite is Miles Mikolas with his killer mustache. Check them out. Please. I don’t ask for much.
  • Fort Wayne native Eric Wedge has supposedly talked with the Pirates and Cubs (that we know of) about jobs. The Pirates make sense, since he worked with Pirates GM Neal Huntington when they were both in Cleveland. At first glance, it looks like the Pirates job is walking into a mess. Pittsburgh has stunk since Sid Bream wobbled around to beat them in 1992 (and we all know Pittsburgh has stunk since it was founded, am I right?). But then you have to remember that they just had Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Jose Tabata, Andrew McCutchen, James McDonald, etc., finish strong in their first or second MLB seasons. It’s a young team with some pieces and the expectations aren’t exactly Yankee-esque.
  • I don’t think I’ve posted this yet, but Peter Gammons wrote a nice piece about how the young players coming up to the big leagues are a breath of fresh air as baseball tries to push out the remnants of the PED era.
  • Bryce Harper to the Arizona Fall League? Really? He’s only played a few games in instructional league and the Nationals think he’s ready, apparently. Wow.
  • The TinCaps’ staff won, like, every award in the world last week. Or at least in the league. One award we won’t be getting this year is best volleyball-playing front-office staff in town. That goes to our friends with the Mad Ants, who kicked our butts in five straight games about three weeks ago. We’re tentatively planning a series of Feats of Strength such as kickball, bowling, sack races and armwrestling.
  • If you don’t watch the ESPN 30 for 30 about Vlade Divac and Drazen Petrovic, we’re no longer friends. It was incredibly good. Brent Harring says it may be the best 90 minutes of television he’s ever seen.
  • I’m reading a book called Lies My Teacher Told Me. It’s another Nate Freiman Book Club recommendation. The book isn’t so much about teachers as it is about history textbooks in all levels of schools, from kindergarten to high school and even college. The main point is, history textbooks simplify everything to the point where they’re cut-and-dried stories, but they’re not telling the truth anymore. I’ve never taught so I can’t imagine how tough it would be to make things better without completely overwhelming kids, but the book is an eye-opener. If you read it, you’ll either be upset with our educational system (textbooks, really) for not teaching the whole truth or upset with parts of our history.
  • The same author wrote a book called Lies Across America, which goes into some of the mistakes and/or stretches of the truth on monuments in the U.S. Here’s an example, straight from the source (and his sweet beard).
  • This is why history is so interesting to me: there are so many intertwining stories, so many different sides to stories, so many personalities involved, and it tells us how we got to the place we’re at now.
  • Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay have pretty similar career paths. Both came to the big leagues and had a decent amount of success, both ran into problems to the point where they had to go back to the minors to get back on the right track, both have come back to be Cy Young-caliber pitchers. Now they’re both anchoring pitching staffs in a league championship series.
  • I loved watching the Rangers run the bases in Game 5 against the Rays. Elvis Andrus scoring from second on a ground ball to the first baseman? Vladimir Guerrero unhitching the trailer and scoring from second on a double-play attempt? Complete-game gems from pitchers? Are these the Bizzaro Rangers?
  • Listened to Bill Simmons’ podcast yesterday. He talked to a buddy about holidays and how some of them don’t make a lot of sense. Christopher Columbus gets his own holiday? The Norse/Vikings were fishing off North America for years before he showed up. And he wasn’t as great of a guy as people think. Labor Day? Just because we need a day off to party? Simmons’ solution was brilliant: let’s settle on national holidays that really need to be celebrated every year (my choices are Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Memorial Day), then have two wild-card holidays that are selected by the President every December. Is this not the way to make national politics relevant to everyone’s lives? You’d never be able to say, “I didn’t vote because it doesn’t really affect me,” again. Want the Monday after the Super Bowl off? Make sure your candidate guarantees it during the campaign. Sorry Christopher Columbus, you’re not getting celebrated by our government again until 2092, the 600-year anniversary of your big “discovery.”

And now, musical guest… Jimmy Buffett!

Take care!

DW

Talking to myself about umpires

I’ve watched quite a bit of this year’s playoffs. I also caught Friday’s episode of “Pardon the Interruption.” The first three stories were about the MLB playoffs. But the conversations weren’t focused on how good Roy Halladay is or how dominant Tim Lincecum was or how the Rangers are about to win a playoff series for the first time in franchise history. Nope, it was all about umpires. It’s an issue with good arguments on both sides, both of which I agree with to some extent. How to settle this? I decided to talk to myself about it.

Dan #1: Hey buddy, lots of talk about with this umpire stuff. What do we agree about on this?

Dan #2: We agree that replay needs to be expanded. I keep hearing everybody complaining about how bad the umpires are instead of talking about how good the games are.

Dan #1: That’s true. But what calls do you think would have been overturned if there was more replay? Let’s say baseball went to a system kind of like the one in the NFL. You need indisputable video evidence to overturn the call on the field.

Dan #2: Well, everybody says the pitch didn’t hit Chase Utley, but it wasn’t indisputable; the pitch was going 100 miles an hour, after all. Greg Golson looked like he caught the ball in the ninth inning the other night, but there wasn’t an angle that showed he did so for sure. And Michael Young looked like he went around, but the rule is pretty vague. So I guess that leaves Buster Posey being out at second base trying to steal. He even admitted it after the game.

Dan #1: So you’re telling me all this whining really boils down to one call that would’ve been overturned by expanded replay?

Dan #2: Yeah, but it’s more than that. If we have this technology and everybody else can see this stuff, why can’t the umpires, the guys who can actually benefit from it? What’s the harm?

Dan #1: You’re right about that. The goal is to get calls right more often. If this technology can help, it’s hard-headed not to use it.

Dan #2: Yep. I keep reading this stuff about baseball having a credibility problem. As a baseball fan, I don’t like hearing that.

Dan #1: You know who writes things like that? People who don’t follow baseball on a regular basis. The problem is, people are used to football and basketball, where they have replay in limited situations. But is the refereeing any better in the NFL or NBA?

Dan #2: Hmm…

Dan #1: The answer is no. In the NFL, everybody freely admits that holding and pass interference can be called on virtually every play, but it isn’t. Why is that OK? Can’t those calls/no-calls change the outcome of games just as much as missed safe/out calls in baseball? Why does the NFL get away with that?

Dan #2: Because replay challenges make the fans believe there’s somebody watching the officials, making sure they’re doing a good job.

Dan #1: And in the NBA, when’s the last time you saw ANYBODY called for traveling? Why is it OK that, as a policy, NBA referees don’t call one of the most basic violations in the game?

Dan #2: Because they use replay to see if players’ feet were behind the three-point arc and if the shots at the buzzer were released before the buzzer.

Dan #1: So what you’re saying is, in those other sports, the refs get calls wrong too?

Dan #2: Of course they do.

Dan #1: Even with replay?

Dan #2: Yep.

Dan #1: So why is everybody talking about “credibility issues” whenever a bang-bang play gets botched in baseball and not when it’s a recurring, blatant policy of ignoring rules in those other sports all the time?

Dan #2: Because baseball hasn’t officially admitted that umpires need help. They act like the umpires are infallible. People just want to feel like somebody’s watching the umpires. Basically, we don’t want to feel like we’re watching a glorified version of pro wrestling, where the refs always mysteriously missed the steel chair being slid under the ropes.

Dan #1: You know what sport has an infallible system of officiating? Tennis. They have a cyclops machine that they go to when somebody wants to challenge a call. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s always right. But guess what. Tennis has its own credibility problems. So do you think that, even if we went off the deep end and went to an all-machine officiating system, that will really solve all of baseball’s problems?

Dan #2: I don’t think anybody wants to completely eliminate umpires. Not that you could, anyway. But you’re missing the point: If we can improve the officiating system, why don’t we?

Dan #1: That’s valid and I agree: we should always be trying to improve. But everybody acts like adding more replay will fix baseball’s “credibility problem.” The fact is, as long as there are umpires, even the best ones are going to miss calls. It’s a tough job, they are scrutinized more than ever thanks to super-slo-mo, high-def replays, 95 different blowhards ripping it apart daily on SportsCenter as if they’ve just discovered plutonium by accident, blogs, etc. We try to make sports fair, but there’s always going to be something perceived as unfair. People need to get over it and just enjoy the game instead of looking for things to be upset about.

Dan #2: I’ll agree with that.

Dan #1: Fine. So we agree: expand replay. Is that really a new idea?

Dan #2: I guess not. Most everybody has thought that for about three years now.

Dan #1: My point exactly. Let’s move on with our lives,

Dan #2: OK. Next topic: Why did you shave your head?

Dan #1: This conversation is over.

Dan #2: Is it because every other guy in your family is bald?

Dan #1: I’m walking away now.

Dan #2: Is it because you’re secretly training to be a cage fighter and want to look tougher?

Dan #1: This is ridiculous.

Dan #2: Is it because there’s never been a time in our society when it’s been more acceptable to shave your head, so you might as well take advantage of living in this era?

Dan #1: I’m never doing this format of a blog entry again.

Now that that’s over, here are some random thoughts:

  • TBS’s broadcasts are roughly a billion times better than last year. Two reasons: A change in the on-air crews and the fact that Conan O’Brien’s promos are easily more entertaining than thousands of commercials for Frank Caliendo and George Lopez. I could do without the Kid Rock “Born Free”-fest, though.
  • Watched “The Office” the other night. Ed Helms is really good. Does he get a Best Supporting Actor Emmy? He should at least get nominated.
  • I’m going to have to recap my trip home in a separate entry. Just to give you a taste of what that’ll be like, I threw the football around today with my 7-year-old cousin. He dropped the ball and it rolled down a hill. It came to rest next to… A dead deer. I wouldn’t make this up.
  • And, I promise, I’ll post some season-in-review thoughts at some point too. It’s been almost a month since the season ended.
  • Line of the week, courtesy of Kenny Powers: “I want this thing to have all the pageantry of an Alabama concert!”
  • Dave Hutte status update: Dave Hutte saw Jupiter in the night sky. Sweet!

Musical guest… from Akron, Ohio… The Black Keys!

 

Take care!

DW

There must be some mistake

So I just stumbled upon the MLBlogosphere site, which posts the monthly leaderboards for all MLBlogs. Somehow, some way, The Watson Files was #50 among pro blogs in September. This could mean one of several things:

1. There are only 50 pro blogs in the world (possibly true)

2. People are actually reading this stuff (no chance)

3. My strategy of setting aside an hour per day to just hit “refresh” on my blog finally paid off (probably true)

4. It’s a misprint (almost certainly true)

Let’s recap the entries from September:

  • I didn’t even write my first entry of the month until September 16. So the best month in the blog’s history, I wasn’t even writing for half of it. Beautiful.
  • The entries were about magic numbers and Madden ratings in everyday life. And Burt Reynolds hitting grand slams. And front-office changes and Ken Burns’ “Tenth Inning.”
  • Back-to-back OK Go videos are the only thing I can imagine anyone was really entertained by. One of which is still the best music video I’ve ever seen.

I’m so excited I broke the top 50, I’m going to write another entry.

And seriously, thanks for reading.

Friday Film Review

Before I get to the finale of the Ken Burns “BASEBALL” series, I’d like to share another film review: “The Town.”

Terrible. Horrible. Hopelessly bad. I wish I had four hands, so I could give this movie four thumbs down.

I went into this movie knowing Ben Affleck was involved, but I should’ve
done more research and saved myself the $7. I won’t ruin it for you if
you still want to waste your money, but… ugh. The premise of the movie
is really stupid (bank robber dates one of his rob-ees and she doesn’t
figure it out until late in the movie), but I was able to look past that for the first half of
the movie. But then the main action of the story starts and the plot is
utterly preposterous, the dialogue is poorly written, Affleck seems like
he’s doing a bad impression of Adam Sandler doing an impression of a
serious person (think “Funny People,” which was also terrible) and it makes it look like assault rifles are commonplace in Boston. I asked Boston native (and former TinCaps strength coach) Rick SantaBarbara about this and he says this is not the case.

You know what the worst part about the whole thing was? After I sat
through about 10 minutes too many of assault rifle shootouts on busy
streets of downtown Boston, the movie finally ended (45 minutes later
than it should have). What’s the first thing that comes up on screen?
“Directed by: Ben Affleck”. What’s the next thing that comes up on the
screen? “Screenplay by: Peter Craig, Aaron Stockard and… Ben Affleck.”

I smacked myself in the forehead and felt like the guy on “American Gladiators”
who goes running through the Eliminator. He’s almost to the end, and he
gets to the part where he runs down the chute, through the paper mache
barrier and gets completely leveled by Laser, as if he just ran into a building. Legs go flying in the air, strands of mullet strewn everywhere, Mike Adamle wondering if he’ll be able to get across the line and collect his $25 winners’ check.
Think about it: You got the rundown from referee Larry Thompson and understand there
will be gladiators in three of the lanes. But by the time you get up the
treadmill, across the handbike, up the cargo net, down the zipline,
over the climbing wall and through the gauntlet, you only remember that
you’re almost done. But then all of a sudden your collarbone is pointing in about 9 different directions, everything you see has a green tint to it and you remember there was a 75 percent chance that a
gladiator was hiding back there. How did I not see this coming and prepare myself? Not
only did I watch “The Town,” but I did so knowing Ben Affleck was
involved. It’s nobody’s fault but my own.

Chris Watson
and I discussed this the other day… If you’re a bank robber and
you’ve been doing well, why would you keep robbing banks? Wouldn’t you
quit while you’re ahead and go away somewhere to hang out and enjoy your
money? This is when Chris pointed out that his hero, Patrick Swayze,
was the smartest bank robber of all time in “Point Break,” which is true.

On another note, Chris has never seen “Top Gun,” and never wants to. I only found this out because I made a joke about flying cargo planes out of Hong Kong and he had no idea what I was talking about.

On yet another note, where has James Tolkan been? He was the definitive
jerky authority figure in “Top Gun” and “Back to the Future” and we
haven’t seen him in forever. Do we have a guy like that in the Hollywood
pipeline? A new Mr. Strickland? I hope so.

Ken Burns’ “The Bottom of the Tenth” came out the other night, so let’s discuss some more.

  • That whole idea about baseball and America’s economy mirroring each other? Yep, one of the first things in the opening scenes was about just that. Stocks and home run totals going through the roof like never before and nobody “knew” why. In reality, I think a lot of people subconsciously knew something was going on, but maybe didn’t want to know what it was.
  • Barry Bonds hit his 70th home run at Enron Field. Perfect.
  • I didn’t remember this happening, but during a play-by-play broadcast, Bob Costas countered a point about the “ball being juiced” with “maybe players being juiced.” This was back when the events were still happening. Apparently he saw it. Why didn’t we?
  • Ichiro is a natural RIGHT-HANDED HITTER?!? How did I not know this?
  • The Red Sox worshiping in the segment about 2004 was a little much.
  • Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post is the star of the show to me. He was outstanding. He probably opened a can of worms with the “Jose Canseco milkshake” comment, but he’s good.

Other thoughts:

  • Baseball America‘s top 20 prospects in the MWL came out today. I’ll post in more detail on Monday. If you want to track the lists for every league, they’ll be here. Or check out past years’ lists here.
  • Don’t know how I missed this, but the Padres are trying to get Daniel Robertson to play some infield. Second base seems to fit him pretty well. I talked to a few people about Robertson this season and one person thought he’d make a nice National League utility man, someone who can play outfield and some infield to save a roster spot. Think David Eckstein’s effort level and size with a better arm and better pop. If I know him at all, he’ll jump in with both feet and probably be pretty good.
  • There have been some roster shifts in the Arizona Fall League. In total, nine Fort Wayne alums will play this year. That’s pretty good. Here are some rules for how players get assigned there. And if you want to keep track of the Padres’ minor-leaguers in winter ball, here’s the stat page (it won’t have anything on it until the leagues start up, but something to bookmark).
  • It’s Tony DesPlaines’ birthday. He’s not around this week, but you can still send him a birthday e-mail, or just celebrate the Dwight Schrute way, like we did in the office.
  • The Padres have put themselves into a spot where they have to win four in a row against the Giants in San Fran to win the NL West. Yikes. They had a 10-game losing streak, then lost 2 of 3 to the Cubs at home, being shut out twice. And they still have an outside shot. It’s a miracle.

And now, musical guest… Mike and the Mechanics!

Have a great weekend!

DW

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