January 2011

Adventures in rapid transit

I went to Philadelphia this weekend for a friend’s wedding. Nobody wants to hear the full rundown, so I’ll summarize by telling you that, at certain times during the weekend, it was “Home Alone” meets “The Beverly Hillbillies” meets “Footloose.” Highlights include:

  • In an effort to be a stylin’, profilin’, limousine riding, jet flying, kiss-stealing, wheelin-and-dealin son of a gun (and save money on hotel), I flew in on the day of the wedding and flew out the day after. Disaster struck when I missed my early-morning flight out of Indianapolis. Something about having to check in 90 minutes before the flight. Isn’t 90 minutes a little excessive? There are feature films that aren’t that long.
  • After mentally accepting that the best-case scenario was being late for the wedding and paying $75 to get a guaranteed seat on a later flight (which I like to call “the idiot fee”), a miracle happened: Just as the gate attendant was going to print my boarding pass, she figured out a way to get me into the last seat on a direct flight to Philadelphia, landing at noon (well before the wedding). If it were socially acceptable, I would have hugged Julie from United Airlines right then and there. They asked me if an exit-row seat was OK. I told them it would be fine with me if they just strapped me to the top of the plane with bungee straps, like a mattress on top of a moving van.
  • Never having been to Philadelphia before, I had no idea the stadiums for the Phillies, Flyers, Eagles and 76ers were all on the same lot. Pretty cool to fly over all of them at the same time.
  • I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this picture made the photo gallery at the reception.
  • Having no idea how to get a ticket for the train back to the airport, I asked an old lady how to buy one. I’m pretty sure she thought I was going to rob her.
  • Why do women willingly wear uncomfortable shoes? The shoes I wore all weekend made my feet hurt and I’m not sure if I’ll ever wear them again. Then again, maybe it’s only because the dance floor was so hot, it was burning right through the soles.
  • When I told a certain wedding expert about the guest gift bags containing Tastykakes, I think the drool came through the phone. He claims he wants his wedding cake to be made completely from Tastykakes molded together into one big cake.
  • I can’t believe it took until 2005 for somebody to make “Wedding Crashers.” I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who doesn’t like weddings. They’re such positive events.

Random thoughts:

  • Fort Wayne alum LHP Cory Luebke did an interview which you can see on MLB.com.
  • Stephen Strasburg is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery in San Diego, where his college coach Tony Gwynn gave him some advice.
  • Some players are wrapping up their off-seasons in the Caribbean winter leagues. Playing in those leagues leaves little to no downtime.
  • Just like the Padres, the Rays will have plenty of early draft picks in 2011. Rafael Soriano signing with the Yankees gave them two picks alone.
  • The “Hard Knocks”-type show about the Giants on Showtime is happening, and the players are a little wary about it. If it’s anything like any of HBO’s sports documentaries, they shouldn’t have a whole lot to worry about. I can’t imagine there will be any Pedro Gomez-style searching through garbage for PEDs.
  • Apparently if you get a big signing bonus and don’t become a star by the age of 25, you’re a bust. Give me a break. When the Cubs drafted Jeff Samardzija, they had to pay him more than your normal player, because he had a legitimate bargaining chip in his football skills. Signing Samardzija (who makes $3.5 million this year) was never going to wreck the Cubs. Overpaying guys like Carlos Silva ($12.75), Alfonso Soriano ($19M), Carlos Zambrano ($18M) and Kosuke Fukudome ($14.5M) just might, though.
  • The Rangers are getting a big upgrade to their video board and sound system. It’s supposedly FIVE TIMES the size of their old board. This is what happens when you’re trying to keep up with Jerry Jones across town, I guess.
  • Is that Sal Paolantonio or Mean Gene Okerlund? Bart Scott’s post-game “interview” rules.
  • “It was lucky the guys involved were wearing helmets.” – Australian lawn mower racing fan after watching a NASCAR-like intentional wreck.

Musical guest… Kenny Loggins!

Take care!

DW

Back in my day…

It’s cold outside. Freezing cold. It’s depressing. I can’t remember the last time I saw the sun. But guess what, you whiney babies… TinCaps food guy Bill Lehn has seen worse.

Yesterday when he was guiding a bunch of interns on a tour of the ballpark, Bill told us he worked something called “the Freezer Bowl” in Cincinnati when it was 60-below. It sounded even more made-up than the GoDaddy.com Bowl, so I did a little digging to see if he was pulling our legs.

Nope, he wasn’t. It was the 1981 AFC Championship game. And the Chargers had played in sunny Miami the week before that game. And they had to keep the cans of soda in the walk-in refrigerators because if they had kept them outside, the soda would have frozen inside the cans and blown up all over the place. Yes, they had to keep drinks in the fridge to keep them WARM ENOUGH to be enjoyed. What are the chances they’d actually play a game in those conditions today? Negative 10 percent?

Random thoughts:

  • Speaking of stories I didn’t completely believe, former TinCaps pitching coach Tom Bradley told me he came up with Rich “Goose” Gossage’s nickname. Turns out, he wasn’t making it up, and his playing days may have been the golden era of baseball nicknames.
  • The Padres are supposedly close to signing C Gregg Zaun and RHP Chad Qualls. Zaun looks to me like the 2010 version of Jake Taylor — Shrugging off injuries (and hangovers) in an effort to lead a bunch of upstarts to the postseason in his last hurrah. We’ll know for sure when he lays down an improbable bunt to drive in the winning run in a crucial game.
  • As for Qualls… He had a bad year last year after about six good seasons in a row. That screams “pitching with an injury” to me. With that track record and the help of Petco Park, it’s a smart, low-cost gamble. Also, is it weird that the Padres sent two relievers to the Rays in the Jason Bartlett trade, then shortly thereafter signed a reliever who the Rays didn’t bother to re-sign? If I were him, I’d want to get out of the AL East, too.
  • Which team is the top winner for this off-season? The Padres… duh.
  • Speaking of aging catchers, did you know Pat Borders was technically still under contract with the Dodgers until this week? He retired in 2006, but they kept him on the “restricted list” to keep him from playing elsewhere until they officially released him. Wouldn’t it be funny if a vengeful 47-year-old Borders, still wearing his catcher’s helmet forward, came to Spring Training for the Giants, bent on sticking it to the Dodgers for cutting him?
  • The Giants have been approached about doing a “Hard Knocks”-style documentary on Showtime. Brian Wilson and Aubrey Huff alone would make this must-see television. You know, if anyone actually subscribed to Showtime.
  • How to market a fifth-place Chicago Cubs team? How about, “A Tradition Unlike Any Other”?
  • The Rays catch a rare bit of heat over No. 1 overall pick Tim Beckham. They picked him over Buster Posey, Pedro Alvarez, Gordon Beckham, etc., but to hold that against Beckham is just wrong. He didn’t ask to be the top pick (although he did get $6.15 million to sign), and now the standards are incredibly high. The Rays have drafted more Evan Longorias than Dewon Brazeltons lately, otherwise they wouldn’t be anywhere close to competitive.
  • Who’s the favorite to be drafted first overall in 2011? Rice University 3B Anthony Rendon. A lot can happen between now and June, though.
  • Stuff on the top prospects in the Rangers and Orioles organizations.
  • Baseball America has the Cardinals’ Top 10 prospect list. The Padres’ list comes out Jan. 24. Expect several former TinCaps.
  • Want to add a round to the playoffs without pushing things into November? Better bring back the scheduled doubleheader. Prediction: No chance.
  • Tim Kurkjian examines how managers use the DH and wonders if baseball will either go to all-DH, both leagues, or abolish the DH rule for everyone.
  • Former Notre Dame backup quarterback Evan Sharpley is trying pro baseball. I suppose it’s not his fault he played at a school with delusional fans.
  • Signing Rafael Soriano has saved the Yankees’ off-season? Really? Even if he’s good in the 8th and Mariano Rivera is himself in the 9th AND they get good middle relief, they still need to worry about, you know, the other five innings of the game.
  • I can’t believe it either, but my buddy Matt Martinez fooled some girl into marrying him this weekend. We worked for the Daytona Cubs in 2007, where this photo was easily the highlight of the summer. I’ll be at the ceremony in a city where I’m told it’s always sunny. And you’d better believe I’ll be all over that dance floor at the reception, just like Allan Wertheimer would want. Anyway, congratulations Matt and sorry to his soon-to-be-wife.

Musical guest… Philadelphia’s own, The Hooters!

Have a great weekend,

DW

Expert Q&A

Since I’m going to a wedding this weekend and haven’t attended a wedding in a while and former TinCaps video production guy Allan Wertheimer is an expert on the subject, I thought I would conduct a fake interview with him about wedding etiquette just to catch up on new trends in the wedding-attending world. Just so we’re clear, I didn’t actually ask him any of these questions, but the answers are what I’d guess he’d say.

DW: Allan, how many weddings have you gone to in the past year?

AW: I lost count at 20. So probably somewhere around 75.

DW: If you have to fly to a wedding, when do you leave? Any tips on travel?

AW: I actually prefer flying to driving and I like leaving the day before so I don’t have to pack too much. I’m not about to pay $25 to check a bag. Then when they come around with in-flight snacks, I ask for three bags of pretzels because I’m usually extra hungry. I usually post how things are going on Facebook when I leave for the airport, then again when I get on the plane and again when I land. It’s like a mix of Kenny Tarmac and NORAD tracking Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve. Also, I take real pride in being the first person to congratulate the couple on their marriage on Facebook. To do that, I prepare a status update during the vows and hit the “Post” button as soon as they start walking back up the aisle.

DW: How much can I eat before I become “that guy?”

AW: What do you mean? I usually ask for three of everything. But only after I make sure it’s free, of course.

DW: Naturally. What’s your approach to the dance floor at the reception?

AW: Ever heard of the phrase, “Less is more?” Well, that doesn’t make any sense. If there’s a group dance song, I’m all over it. Cupid Shuffle, Electric Slide, doesn’t matter. I try to be the first one on the dance floor at every wedding I go to. When the time’s right, I unleash my trademark move: The Cyclone. I just start swinging my hips around in a big circle, trying not to move the rest of my body. It’s the greatest innovation in dance since The Sprain. Never fails.

DW: Impressive. Last question: Any truth to the rumors that you were thinking about returning to Fort Wayne for a rematch belly flop diving contest against Pat Ventura?

AW: Ventura knows he got lucky last time. I beat him in the preliminary round and he won the main event. Now he’s strutting around with a medal like he’s some hero. He’s a nobody.

DW: Well, people do call him the Tix King of Fort Wayne.

AW: That’s only because I left. Everybody knows that was my nickname when I was there.

DW: Nobody called you the Tix King. You didn’t sell tickets.

AW: Oh, I thought you were saying Text King. I sent, like, 5,000 text messages yesterday alone. Anyway, Ventura’s scared of me, otherwise he’d be defending his title.

DW: And that wraps up our fake interview with wedding-attending expert Allan Wertheimer!

Random thoughts:

  • Former TinCaps manager Jose Flores got a job as a minor-league hitting coach with the Giants. He’ll be at Class-A Augusta.
  • Fort Wayne alum Matt Bush is trying to rebound as a pitcher with the Tampa Bay Rays. It would be a nice story if he can get his life back together and get to the big leagues.
  • More on Trevor Hoffman joining the Padres’ front office.
  • It doesn’t look like expanded playoffs or expanded replay are coming this year. It would have to be collectively bargained with the players (and probably the umpires) anyway, and the contract between the players and owners expires after 2011.
  • NCAA baseball is going to a 20-second pitch clock. Sounds similar to basketball’s shot clock. I wonder if it resets when a pitcher comes to the set position, then steps off. I also wonder if it’ll have any effect on stolen base totals.
  • The Indians are one of several teams that have a winter development program for top prospects.
  • The Pirates have a camp like that. And instead of having it in the cold, theirs is in Florida.
  • And the Pirates’ Top 10 prospects are posted at Baseball America.
  • You know how some people say steroids weren’t against baseball rules until recently? Well, that’s not entirely true. Really, it’s not even remotely true in most cases.
  • Did you know the BCS is tax-exempt as a charity? Uh, what?
  • If you don’t know about Pajama Jeans yet, feast your eyes. They feel like pajama pants, but they’re priced like designer jeans! Everybody wins!
  • You may have noticed the “Top 100″ logo at the top of the page. No big deal.

Heard this last night and thought it was George Strait… Nope, it’s Joe Nichols!

Take care!

DW

Trevor Time

Trevor Hoffman retired yesterday. His 601 saves are great, the changeup was a good pitch, etc. You’ve heard that already. What I liked the most about him were these things:

  1. Pretty much everybody who played with him says he was a good dude. Bonus points.
  2. He was drafted as an infielder and couldn’t hit in the minors. One day he threw a changeup to a teammate who told him he should try pitching. History ensued.
  3. Most importantly, he brought a little bit of pro wrestling to baseball with his entrance from the bullpen. Now every closer has his own entrance thing. The only other good one was Bob Wickman coming in to “Are You Ready for a Good Time” while the video board screamed “IT’S WICKY TIME.” Side note: Did you know the first time they played “Hell’s Bells” as his entrance song, he didn’t request it AND he blew the game? How many guys today would pull the Dark Helmet and say, “In fact, never play this again!”

Random thoughts:

  • Hoffman and the Padres have mended fences and he’s going to work in the front office.
  • MiLB.com did an interview with Tigers prospect RHP Jacob Turner. He’s good, and I count Everett Williams homering off him at Parkview Field as one of the best talent-versus-talent moments I’ve seen at this level.
  • Sean Casey will do some work on the Reds’ TV broadcasts. If his work on MLB Network is any indication, he’s too nice to be critical of anybody.
  • Not every former athlete is finding work.
  • The Rockies have spent big-time money to keep their home-grown guys like Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, but that still puts pressure on them to develop more of their own talent.
  • Jayson Stark noticed that FOUR straight AL Cy Young Award winners have been traded within 15 months of winning the award. Johan Santana, CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Zack Grienke. That’s crazy. And people wonder if Felix Hernandez could be next, but that would be crazy unless somebody made an outrageous offer to the Mariners.
  • Behold! Another story about bunts! This time it’s the worst bunts of 2010.
  • Apparently we’ve found the wiffle-ball equivalent of Daisuke Matsuzaka’s mythical gyroball. This is incredible.
  • I can’t decide which I dislike more: Twitter, LeBron, what LeBron said on Twitter, or the fact that a former Cavaliers beat writer is now a Heat beat writer for ESPN. The whole thing just stinks. But not as much as the Cavs stink.
  • This is not what you want to read on the day someone throws out an invitation to participate in the Polar Plunge. However, there might be big news on that front soon.
  • The Onion SportsDome premiere was last night. I give it a D+, only because the production value was excellent. It just wasn’t that funny.
  • Those of you who still admit to being Michigan football fans: If you don’t start calling yourselves Hoke-amaniacs, well… You’re exactly as lame as everyone thought you were.

Musical guest… Aerosmith!

Take care!

DW

Spring isn’t here… yet

Based on the nonstop snow that’s been falling for the last two hours or so, you’d think we were in the dead of winter. But guess what, bucko… We’re not too far away from spring training and I have proof.

Geoff Young at Ducksnorts has his Top 20 Padres prospects for this year. Looks fine to me.

AND… Friar Forecast has a preview of who they think will be in Lake Elsinore in 2011. Prediction: At least one of Edinson Rincon, Everett Williams and Jonathan Galvez will be back in Fort Wayne to start 2011. Jedd Gyorko’s glove (and age, and approach at the plate) should make him the starter at third base in Lake Elsinore. The only way Rincon goes there at the same time is if the Padres decide to start his transition to playing LF/DH and he occasionally plays 3B to give Gyorko a day off. If that happens, then it’s tough to imagine Williams going to Lake Elsinore and splitting time with Rincon in a LF/DH platoon. He needs to improve his routes in the outfield and when you’re trying to do that, splitting time isn’t ideal. I guess that makes Galvez the least likely to start here. His defense improved last season, but I’m not sure he’s ready just yet.

But I’m just the radio guy… what do I know?

Random thoughts:

  • Jason Bartlett will be a Padre for at least 2011 and 2012, just like Orlando Hudson. This buys time until Drew Cumberland and/or Everth Cabrera are ready to help in the big leagues. I don’t see much wrong with giving them too much time in the minors. Sure beats rushing them.
  • Today is an opening day of sorts. Why? Because it’s the first day I’ve found a “he’s in the best shape of his life!” article on a baseball player. And it might be the most preposterous one we’ll find all year. Ladies and gentlemen, Pablo Sandoval has lost 17 pounds!  Haven’t we heard this one before?
  • Only Fangraphs would investigate the actual results of players who have had “he’s in the best shape of his life!” articles written about them. Beautiful.
  • And an article on the most critical bunts of 2010. You know I love bunts.
  • As if Cleveland needed more articles like this. The Indians aren’t good and they won’t be good for at least a few years. Thanks for reminding us. Also, Travis Hafner is making $28 million over the next two years to DH five times a week. Sigh.
  • Edgar Renteria to the Reds seems a step down from Orlando Cabrera until you realize that Cabrera had a .303 OBP last year.
  • Kerry Wood taking less money gave the Cubs the money to trade for/pay Matt Garza.
  • Jim Leyland’s son got invited to the Tigers’ MLB spring training. Apparently he’s kind of good (8th-round draftee out of high school).
  • The Rangers are going after a home-run hitter to DH. Can you imagine how controversial all their moves would have been if Michael Young was the typical “don’t sign anybody good because it’ll hurt my feelings” guy?
  • College football makes less and less sense to me every day. The whole “amateur athlete” idea is preposterous when you hear about the gift packages these guys get at bowl games. I’m not talking about sweatsuits and hats. I’m talking about PS3s, recliners, Blu-ray players. How is OK for these guys to accept those things from bowl organizers but it’s not OK to accept them from anyone else?
  • Really, Brent Musburger?
  • Also, my fantasy ending to last night’s game would’ve gone something like this… Musburger: “…And Auburn wins the BCS National Championship!” (Lights in the dome go out, everyone goes silent for a moment, then we hear this. Pandemonium ensues.) Musburger: “What the… What is this?!? That’s TCU’s fight song!” (Video board shows TCU coach Gary Patterson standing on the ramp to the field wearing sunglasses with the entire team behind him. We see Cam Newton, still nursing injuries from the game, limp/spin around near the trophy stage to watch the video board in horror). Tom Rinaldi: “Gary Patterson, what in the world are you doing here?” Patterson (yanking the microphone out of Rinaldi’s hand): “You know, Tom Rinaldi… I’ve been waiting a long time for this moment… to stand up and crash this — quote-unquote — party. But the way I see it is… We’re only crashing the party because we weren’t invited!” Rinaldi (who has strangely found another microphone): “You can’t be suggesting what I think you’re are!?!” Patterson: You bet your pencil-neck butt, Rinaldi! Gene Chizik… Cam Newton… You think you’re champions because you went undefeated? Well so did we! You’ve been ducking us for too long! We want our shot at glory! We want our shot at the title!” BCS Commissioner John Swafford (on stage next to the BCS trophy): “Now hold on just one minute, Patterson! I’m the one running this show! And no second-class pretender is going to come in here demanding title matches while I’m around!” Out of nowhere, someone says: “Your days of running things are over, Swafford!” (Out of the darkness comes a shadowy figure wearing a flowing robe. A spotlight shows who it is. The crowd goes insane.) Musburger: “My goodness! It’s NCAA President Mark Emmert!” Emmert: “The BCS has turned college football into a laughingstock, and I’ve had enough! I’m taking back what’s rightfully mine! College football WILL have a true national champion! Next year, we’re having a playoff. But until then, Chizik, get your team ready… You’re playing TCU for the REAL national championship… And as for you, Swafford… I’ll see YOU at the Royal Rumble! In a steel cage! Loser… leaves… town!” (Drops microphone, runs down the ramp, dives head-first onto the stage, stands nose-to-nose with Swafford, then after a series of jabs, powerbombs Swafford through a table holding the BCS trophy. He flexes while fireworks go off behind him, swivels his hips, dives back off the stage, then runs back up the ramp as the Shawn Michaels theme song plays. Patterson and the TCU players have to be restrained while woofing halfway down the ramp. Bewildered Auburn players look at each other. The crowd is so loud, the building is shaking. Musburger has been mysteriously replaced by
    WWF announcer Jim Ross: “College football has been rocked to its core! It’s pandemonium in Phoenix! The New World Order has company! The NCAA is back! TCU and Auburn will decide it on the field! Unbelievable!” (We see a low-angle camera shot of a semi-conscious Swafford laying on the awards stage. As the camera zooms out, we see the crystal football from the BCS trophy ominously broken into hundreds of pieces. Fade to black)
  • Wow, did that derail in a hurry. This is what happens when you watch too much pro wrestling as a child.

Musical guest… The WWF Superstars!

Take care!

DW

Matt Murton: Huge in Japan

This is two Matt Murton mentions in three posts. I’m as surprised as you are.

When I saw a picture of Matt Murton riding a unicorn, I figured it was the typical delusional Cubs fan who longs for simpler times of rooting for the under-producing fan favorite. Kind of like someone who still owns a life-size cardboard cut-out of Carlos Baerga holding a six-pack of soda. Not that anyone here is guilty of that.

Anyway, I come to find out that Matt Murton is the bee’s knees in Japan. Not just because he’s trying to reprise Tom Selleck’s role in “Mr. Baseball,” but because he’s really good. Broke Ichiro’s single-season hits record. He did it in a longer season than Ichiro ever played, but still. It’s completely plausible that a rabid Matt Murton fan from Japan did the Photoshop work on the unicorn-riding photo. And I’m not sure anyone could blame him.

Random thoughts:

  • One of the Padres’ beat writers hosts a weekly chat. Last week’s highlights: the Padres’ road uniforms are changing for this year, Derrek Lee turned down an $8-million offer (which, to me, might be the best thing that happened to the Padres this year because they signed Orlando Hudson instead), former TinCaps RHP Simon Castro should make his MLB debut sometime in 2011 and Padre fans generally don’t understand the economics of baseball.
  • The Padres will be better up the middle this year.
  • Tony Gwynn is trying to overcome some pretty serious health problems.
  • Remember that whole thing about “under-producing fan favorites” playing for the Cubs? Well, after Matt Murton left to become a superstar in Japan, Sam Fuld became that guy. Now that Fuld’s been traded to the Rays, that job is open again.
  • Wow… the Cubs gave up a lot for Matt Garza. The only way that trade is OK for Chicago is that Garza is under control for three more years. Now that he’s out of the AL East, his numbers should only get better. And for the Rays, well… there’s almost no way they come out looking like idiots here. No prospect is a sure thing, but they got a lot of good prospects as they re-load. This is what you can do when you have professional butt-kicker Jeremy Hellickson as your sixth (now fifth) starter.
  • Peter Gammons says the Rays’ front office is good.
  • I can’t help but laugh when I see Robinson Chirinos described as a “good defensive catcher” who had an OBP over .400 and almost hit 20 homers in the high minors. Because I covered him in Daytona in 2007 and he was a light-hitting shortstop whose most noticeable quality was his choice in clothing. He was the 2007 version of this guy. Now he’s a prospect. Say it with me: you just never know in baseball.
  • You know Chris Archer, the pitcher who was one of the Cubs’ top prospects and a key to that deal? Yep, one-time Cleveland Indians farmhand. Traded for Mark DeRosa. Sigh.
  • And Hak-Ju Lee? In four games (including the MWL All-Star Game) at Parkview Field last year, he went 7-for-16, scored four runs, doubled, tripled and hit his only homer of the season. He can’t be THAT good, but I was impressed. The ball jumped off his bat when he squared it up. From what I heard, that doesn’t happen all that often outside Fort Wayne.
  • The Brewers claim their minor-league system still has some juice left. At first I thought they were crazy, but their Top 10 prospect list (posted on Baseball America) isn’t that bad.
  • Peter Gammons reminds us that quite a few baseball players have passed up big-time college football to play pro baseball. He doesn’t really mention that they probably make substantially less money playing baseball. Did I say that out loud?
  • I watched Saturday Night Live for the first time in years the other night because The Black Keys were the musical guest. Even with Jim Carrey as the host, it was nothing short of a train wreck. How did it become this bad this quickly?
  • I’ve become addicted to “Worst Cooks in America” on the Food Network. These people get so nervous and shaky, it’s surprising nobody has lost a finger while chopping up red onions.
  • “The Onion SportsDome” should be one of the best shows around.
  • The most-watched baseball game of 2010 was behind 96 other sporting events in terms of TV viewership. Ouch. I’m amazed so many people watch the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics. Those things are always awkward and about two hours too long. More surprisingly, the top-rated baseball game wasn’t a TinCaps game on Comcast/Xfinity. It was something called the World Series. It’s just a fad.

Musical guest, The Black Keys!

Take care!

DW

No RSVP necessary

Believe it or not, there was some pretty big news yesterday for some former TinCaps. The Padres announced they’re inviting 20 non-roster players to MLB Spring Training (in addition to the 40-man roster). Nine of the 20 are former TinCaps.

And here they are!

RHP Anthony Bass
RHP Brad Brach
RHP Alexis Lara
LHP Colt Hynes
LHP Rob Musgrave
LHP Juan Oramas
C Jason Hagerty
INF James Darnell
INF Andy Parrino

Darnell is the only one who was invited last year as well. And anytime a young catcher (like Hagerty) gets invited, it’s a nice opportunity to show the big-league staff what you have, but a big reason why so many catchers get invited is because SOMEBODY has to catch bullpens for the 27 pitchers in camp.

Now… If these were literal party-like invitations, they would probably read something like an invitation to meet Don Corleone (or Yoghurt, depending on how nerdy you like your movie references):

“Not that we have to, but we’re inviting you to Spring Training early to be in the presence of major-leaguers. Declining this invitation is not an option. Don’t be late, don’t be overweight, don’t mess up any of our drills and don’t eat too much food off the spread. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get to play in an MLB game. See you in February. Oh, and bring donuts or you’re getting a swirly.”

Also, these would be written with letters cut out of magazines, just to make them more intimidating.

Random thoughts:

  • Looks like this was the 68th most-visited MLB Pro Blog in 2010. But the arrow is pointing up, since it’s been in the top 50 in September, October and November, topping out at No. 44. As always, thanks for reading. And tell a friend. If they’re into lame jokes, knowing way too much about the sacrifice bunt and pro wrestling references.
  • Heath Bell wants to stay a Padre. Of course, that’s what he has to say, but saying a multi-year extension “would be my dream” is a pretty convincing way to say it. I can’t imagine they can/will pay him anywhere near what he’d get on the open market, so I think the Pads trade him at the deadline if they’re out of contention, but stranger things have happened.
  • Fort Wayne alum Dirk Hayhurst’s blog is becoming a must-read. Recent post topics include avoiding groupthink and using baseball as a platform for more important things. He was recently released by the Blue Jays. Hope he gets another shot, assuming he wants it.
  • I may or may not have posted this already: Strange-but-true baseball injuries from 2010. Mat Latos’ supposed strained oblique from sneezing is included, not that I believe it for a second.
  • REALLY good article about Jim Joyce, the MLB umpire who got way more attention than he ever wanted this summer.
  • The Astros’ Top 10 prospects are posted at Baseball America. Not a whole lot to see here, other than Delino DeShields, Jr., son of the Dayton Dragons’ new skipper.
  • Have you ever wondered how baseballs are made? No? Well, you’re going to find out anyway. And you’re going to like it.
  • I’m pretty sure the first TinCaps team (Opening Day 2009 roster) picked their jersey numbers and now everybody else just takes one of those numbers when they get sent here. But here’s how they got their jersey numbers back in the day.
  • Really, TCU? This may be the quickest way to lose the lovable part of the “lovable little guy” label.
  • Just heard there’s going to be a Pearl Jam festival somewhere in the Midwest this summer. Giddyup.

Musical guest… Pearl Jam!

Have a great weekend!

DW

Hello again, hello

Anytime I hear about karaoke opportunities, I get all kinds of excited. So yesterday when I heard about an event with karaoke being held in our suite-level lounge, you bet I found out exactly when it is. I have a Neil Diamond set list that’ll rock their faces off. Now if I could just find a collared sequined shirt

Random thoughts:

  • In addition to signing C Guillermo Quiroz, the Padres also picked up INF Kevin Frandsen. Corey Brock reports San Diego is still looking at signing a reliever and a left-handed hitter for the bench.
  • It’s becoming fairly clear that Padres GM Jed Hoyer and his staff are the smartest in intergalactic baseball history. According to this, he has promised free agents he’ll give up the right to claim draft picks if they play their way into Type A status by the end of their contract. Sounds like a dumb thing for a team to do, but I don’t think so. First off, the compensatory draft pick system might be on the way out anyway. Also consider that none of the guys who were promised this were Type A guys previously, so it’s not all that likely they’ll achieve that status anyway. And if they DO play their way into that category, the player’s gain in value could be partially negated by forcing any new team to give up a draft pick. So the Padres are basically eliminating any negative effects of playing well, which might make it more attractive for players to come to San Diego. When you don’t have a lot of money to spend (and your home park is as brutal toward hitters as Petco is), you have to get creative and the Padres are doing that.
  • Here’s a little background on Jeff Moorad and wanting to put the Triple-A team in the suburbs of San Diego.
  • The trainer of one of the Padres’ big-time international signees could be in some trouble. Not what you like to hear after spending $500,000 to sign a guy.
  • Marlins 1B Logan Morrison lost his dad to lung cancer this year, and now he’s putting on baseball clinics to raise money for the American Lung Association. Pretty much everything I’ve heard about him as a person has been great.
  • Ask Baseball America is back, and it’s Royals-tastic. When it’s been that long since you’ve won anything, it’s only natural to get pumped about prospects, but I wonder if expectations are getting a little too high.
  • A picture of Matt Murton riding a unicorn is making the rounds. If that’s not enough to make you click, I don’t know what is.
  • Three months from today, we’ll all be in complete panic mode the day before Opening Day. Who’s excited?
  • I’ve decided that one day, I’d like to write a cookbook with the working title, “Things Any Single Idiot Can Make.”

Musical guest… David Bowie!

Take care!

DW

Forgotten notebooks

First of all, big-time respect to the people who came over to watch the Ohio State game last night. Last year we ordered a delicious 29-inch pizza and had a week’s worth of leftovers after the game. This year, 13 of us combined to hammer down the same-size pizza with more toppings. And all of this was without noted semi-pro eater Allan Wertheimer. Watch out, competitive eating world.

Second of all, etiquette question: If you’re flying to a wedding, is it OK to mail the gift later? I
don’t really want to have to explain to the TSA people why I have mixing bowls in my
carry-on luggage. You know, if I decide to go with the mixing bowls. And
if you think I’m paying to check a bag for a one-day trip, well…
You’ve got another thing coming, pal.

Now… today is the day we find out who was elected into the baseball Hall of Fame. I was going to write a long-winded argument on why it’s not worth getting all bent out of shape about who gets in and who doesn’t, but I decided not to. Just keep these things in mind:

  1. A player being (or not being) in the Hall doesn’t determine whether
    or not he was a good/great player. We do. Make up your own mind. Don’t
    leave it up to writers or something called the Veterans Committee.
    Albert Pujols is one of the best first basemen ever and there’s not much
    that could change my mind. The 1995 Cleveland Indians were the most
    exciting team I’ve ever followed and that wouldn’t change if nobody on
    that team got elected to the Hall (bad example because Eddie Murray is
    already in, but still).
  2. Saying a guy isn’t Hall-of-Fame worthy
    doesn’t mean you’re saying he was a bum who couldn’t hit water if he
    fell out of a boat and refused to save boxes of kittens sitting by the
    side of the road. Just being in the conversation means a player was
    really good.
  3. Anytime you hear the argument, “Player X is in the Hall, why not Player Y?” it’s OK to answer with, “Well, because maybe Player X shouldn’t be in in the first place.” Life ain’t fair.
  4. “He’s one of only five players at his position to ever have X home runs and X stolen bases” is generally not a great argument. You can make up all kinds of statistical qualifiers to “prove” your point, but somebody could just as easily make up another cutoff to show why the guy SHOULDN’T be in.
  5. If the Hall of Fame decided to start all over and put me in charge of who gets in, I’d be the most blatant small-hall guy of all time, as I wrote about last year. But they have to induct somebody every year to have an induction ceremony and stay in the news (and keep Cooperstown, N.Y. from going broke), so I’d never be put in charge. Thanks a lot, money.

Now that I’ve made a long-winded argument on why it’s not worth getting all bent out of shape (which is exactly what I set out NOT to do), I’ll say again: Some of the HOF selections have been bogus and the election process is flawed, but I’ve been to Cooperstown and it’s delightful. Every die-hard baseball fan should go at least once. Just so you know, though, baseball probably wasn’t invented in Cooperstown. Try the Elysian Fields in New Jersey.

Random thoughts:

  • Read this today: The Padres will have former Fort Wayne manager Randy Ready working with Brad Hawpe to eliminate a timing issue in his swing which might have caused his struggles in 2010. They want to get him back to his pre-2010 form, when he was a .380 OBP, 20-homer guy.
  • The Padres signed C Guillermo Quiroz to a minor-league deal. Looks like insurance in case Rob Johnson doesn’t work out.
  • Jayson Stark explains his HOF voting.
  • The Cubs’ Top 10 prospects are posted over at Baseball America. Bryan, Ohio native RHP Chris Carpenter slots in at No. 6.
  • Same for the Reds. You know, minus the whole Chris Carpenter thing. Don’t be ridiculous.
  • Speaking of the Reds, Aroldis Chapman looks like he’s staying in the bullpen for now, but it’s not a long-term thing. And Dontrelle Willis, who supposedly has looked good throwing this off-season, will get a shot at a spot in the Reds’ bullpen.
  • With all due respect to our own “win a trip to San Diego” promotion, the Brewers have come up with what might be the most fun ticket promotion of all time. Running in the sausage race? Sliding down the in-ballpark slide? Signing a one-day contract, complete with one-day salary (about $2,000)? This is a buzzcut‘s wildest dreams come true!
  • Hat hipsters, assemble! It’s the Bowling Green Cave Shrimp limited edition hat!
  • Now that Ohio State football is sort of on the back burner (not that it
    ever is in that town), the fine folks of Columbus, Ohio, are abuzz over this guy. Apparently the Cavaliers are trying to help him out. Kind of publicity stunty, but a good story and hopefully it leads to more people helping people.
  • Tonight marks the beginning of another rec-league volleyball season. I’m pumped.
  • Almost as pumped as I am to start walking dogs at the local animal shelter. It’s on a volunteer basis, but I think we all know I have professional-level talent in getting dogs into shape. Just trying to save the world, one dog at a time.
  • Every single item is on sale at the Orchard Team Store at Glenbrook Square Mall. All sales are final. You’re welcome, planet Earth.
  • I couldn’t help but think my old buddy Dave Hutte would’ve loved the national anthem last night at the Sugar Bowl, sang by Darius Rucker, also known as Hootie. As in, Hootie and the Blowfish. Dave Hutte LOVES him some Hootie and the Blowfish. In fact, he claims he likes that band so much, people in high school purposely mispronounced his last name, so it sounded like Dave “Hootie” Hutte. His favorite Hootie song? Hold My Hand. And if you haven’t seen this classic Hootie/SportsCenter video, you need to.
  • Dave Hutte recently told me he still has notebooks (plural) full of song lyrics he wrote during his high-school years. I think I speak for literally millions dozens of fans who are clamoring for The Dave Hutte Experience’s comeback album, “Forgotten Notebooks.”

Musical guest… Jack Johnson!

Take care!

DW

The Meat Monster

Tonight is the last Ohio State football game of the year, so a bunch of us will be enjoying an annual tradition unlike any other: the 29-inch party pizza, best known for dwarfing many large objects including Tony DesPlaines’ bulbous head. This year, we’re putting a new twist on things by ordering The Meat Monster, which features six meats. This pizza is so large, it’ll be delivered by helicopter onto the back yard. I’m so excited, I might try to trade an autographed Otterbein College baseball jersey to pay for the pizza.

Random thoughts:

  • While I’m on the topic of food, if you ever get a chance to try polenta, do it. It’s cornmeal-ish, but it can be in several different textures. I enjoy it when it’s bread-like and mashed potato-like. But if somebody else is cooking, I’ll eat it however it’s served.
  • I enjoy my polenta with breakfast. Easily the best meal of the day, especially when enjoyed with Tom Lasorda, according to the L.A. Times.
  • I don’t think I ever linked to this: Another Padres top prospect list, complete with grades. RHP Simon Castro and OF Jaff Decker are ranked second and third, respectively.
  • Brad Hawpe passed his physical and officially signed with the Padres. He says he could always see the ball well at Petco Park during his days with the Rockies, which is good for San Diego. Apparently the Padres wanted him during last season, but didn’t get him.
  • Here’s a breakdown of the Padres’ off-season moves. One thing I sometimes forget is this: The top of the order had a REALLY hard time setting the table last year. If Will Venable and Jason Bartlett (both .324 OBPs last year) get on base at all and can go first-to-third on singles like nobody’s business (I’m not a scout so I’m not sure how likely that is), that creates a lot of problems for the opposition.
  • The Royals invited their whole slew of prospects to big-league spring training. Also invited: Fort Wayne alum INF Lance Zawadzki, who played in 20 MLB games in 2010.
  • Former MWLer Carlos Gonzalez is about to become very rich. But assuming he stays healthy, 7 years/$80 million is a complete and utter bargain for the Rockies. He gave us the best finish to a game this past year (in my opinion), completing the cycle with a 900-foot game-winning home run on a letter-high fastball.
  • There were some incredible rookies in 2010: Jason Heyward, Mike Stanton, Buster Posey, Ike Davis, Carlos Santana, Stephen Strasburg, Neftali Feliz, Starlin Castro… How will they follow it up?
  • Michael Young is willing to change positions if it means staying with the Rangers. Again. This guy seems like one of the best team-first guys around.
  • Did you know John Wilkes Booth was one of Abraham Lincoln’s favorite actors? And there was also a plan to assassinate the vice president and secretary of state at the same time? The VP’s assassin chickened out and the secretary of state survived because the assassin’s gun jammed, then a neck brace (he was recovering from a carriage accident) kept the stab wounds away from his major arteries. Heard that last night on the History Channel. Amazing.
  • Equally amazing (sort of): Ohio State keeps letting Terrelle Pryor talk to the media. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if, years from now, we find out he was secretly a genius crime fighter who took up football, masqueraded as a dope and called out national sports analysts for never beating Michigan, all in an effort to clean up big-time college sports once and for all?
  • Did you see the Stanford band last night? What a bunch of whack jobs. In retrospect, it’s not all that surprising they ran onto the field way back in the day.
  • 40 days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.

Musical guest… Warren Zevon!

Take care!

DW

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