February 2011

Heat wave

Today I went outside and the temperature was above freezing. It may as well have been 70 degrees. Also, spring training officially opens today. Today is a good day.

Random thoughts:

  • There’s a bonanza of Padres links today… First up, Kyle Blanks has learned to eat. Well, he already knew how to eat, but you know what I mean.
  • Brad Hawpe is using Todd Helton’s glove at first base. This kind of thing happens more often than you think.
  • Manager Bud Black says (rightly) that the Padres are more balanced than they were last year.
  • The obligatory “(Arbitrary number) questions as (team) opens Spring Training” story.
  • Heath Bell may want to pull the Elaine Benes and force everyone in Padres camp to wear name tags. There’s that many new guys.
  • Across the parking lot at Mariners’ camp, they’re figuring out who will be the closer while David Aardsma gets healthy. Which is important, as the Brewers proved last year when Trevor Hoffman struggled early.
  • The White Sox might only need four starting pitchers early in the season, thanks to the way their schedule sets up. Which could ease the pressure on Fort Wayne alum RHP Jake Peavy to hurry back from injury.
  • Former MWLer Mike Trout will start this year in Double-A, but he probably won’t get to the big leagues. That could change if he goes bananas, I bet.
  • The Rockies are enjoying their new spring training park.
  • What’s this? The Yankees focusing on drafting?
  • Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and Travis Wood are three guys competing for two spots in the Reds’ rotation.
  • Jim Edmonds is hobbling. Good thing the Cardinals only gave him a minor-league deal. Meanwhile, Albert doesn’t have a contract extension going into camp. So we can enjoy that story lingering all summer. Welcome to 2009-10 in Cleveland, Cardinals fans. In the Cardinals’ defense, I’d be pretty hesitant to give anybody a ten-year contract that runs through his age-41 season, too. But he’s one of the few guys who has “butts-in-seats” impact.
  • Yep, the numbers back up that last year was the Year of the Pitcher.
  • Josh Hamilton’s story has inspired a lot of people, including a Marlins prospect.
  • Fact: DVR is the only way to watch awards shows.
  • I don’t usually watch awards shows, but I couldn’t pass up the Mumford & Sons / Avett Brothers / Bob Dylan set on the Grammys. And I know I could be put to death for saying this, but if I had to rank the performances, it would go Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons, Dylan. And whoever ran the audio board for Mumford & Sons needs to get with the program. The banjo playing is what makes “The Cave” jump out of the stereo and it was almost inaudible on the show.
  • Mick Jagger’s Blues Brothers set was good too.
  • The awards part of the Grammys is as bad as ever. Fact: Lady Antebellum isn’t that good. Fact: Muse winning anything other than a 40-yard dash over Jeff Beck, Tom Petty, Pearl Jam and Neil Young is so utterly ridiculous that I don’t even know where to start.
  • I’ll have to do the photo work tomorrow, but am I the only one who noticed that John Mayer, Johnny Depp and Jack White could be the same person?
  • The French Freedom toast experiment was a huge success. Cinnamon was good, but adding orange zest to the batter was like adding rocket fuel to a… rocket. I don’t know how I lived without it.

Musical guest… The Avett Brothers!

Take care!

DW

Under pressure

Here’s a hypothetical situation… Imagine it’s 2013. Jay Bruce hasn’t signed his huge contract, so he’s two years away from free agency and a huge payday. He’s one of the best young players in baseball. He’s going to play for Team USA in the upcoming 2013 World Baseball Classic. Usually the tournament is a fun international competition. But this year, Jay Bruce and seven other Americans HAVE to win. Why? Because if Team USA doesn’t win, those eight guys will be drafted into the United States military for two years of mandatory service. If they try to skip out of their service, they’ll face arrest or will have to leave the country, unable to return.

That would be a big story, wouldn’t it? Star athletes with two years of peak production (and millions of dollars) on the line. Win or else. So why wasn’t it a bigger story this off-season when Shin-Soo Choo went through almost the same situation?

Acceptable answers: (1) He plays in Cleveland and (2) he’s from South Korea.

Choo went bananas at the Asian Games (.571 with three homers and 11 RBIs), his South Korean team won the gold medal and Choo is now exempt from serving in the South Korean military. He says he was 50-50 on what he would have done if the Koreans hadn’t won: maybe he would have never gone back home, maybe he would have served. As a Cleveland fan, I’m glad he didn’t have to make the decision.

Lord knows we’ve had enough Decisions in the last year.

Anyway, while everybody was falling all over themselves to cover the Derek Jeter contract pout-fest, Shin-Soo Choo was the main character in a far more interesting story. He’s my choice for under-reported baseball story of the off-season.

Random thoughts:

  • Minor-league transactions from the past week were posted yesterday… Two TinCaps from the 2010 squad (RHP Jon Berger and OF Bo Davis) were released by the Padres. LHP Nathan Culp, who was Fort Wayne’s opening day starter in 2007, retired.
  • Also, the Rays signed RHP Juan Cruz to help their bullpen. He was dominant with Arizona in 2007 and ’08 but tanked the last two years with Kansas City. For a team that is trying to rebuild the bullpen, it’s a nice signing.
  • Another signing: The Padres picked up 35-year-old LHP Randy Flores on a minor-league deal. He was really good for Colorado last year (2-0, 2.96 ERA in 47G) but the wheels fell off late, the Rockies waived him, then he stunk it up for the Twins. He’s the definition of a situational lefty and the Padres already have ISU Sycamore Joe Thatcher, so Flores will have to be really good this spring to make the big-league team.
  • Five spring training storylines for the Padres.
  • Highlights of the latest Padres chat from the SD Union-Tribune: Mat Latos will be treated like everybody else when it comes to innings this year, the Yankees may have interest in trading for Wade LeBlanc, Simon Castro and Casey Kelly could be in the MLB rotation by mid-season and Adrian Gonzalez accounted for 23.6 percent of the Padres’ runs produced (runs + RBIs minus HR) total last year.
  • Fort Wayne alum LHP Oliver Perez hasn’t gotten to Mets’ spring training yet, and the New York Post wants to rip him, but they don’t do it directly.
  • Who signed the worst free-agent contract in baseball history, according to the Orioles’ GM? Alex Rodriguez with the Rangers.
  • Here’s a decent Michael Young trade watch; he was almost sent to the Rockies and the Dodgers had interest, but that’s been about it. Supposedly.
  • Nine questions for the Cardinals entering spring training. I have a sixth: Will LaRussa let Colby Rasmus play every day? He played 144 games last year, but at least 15 of those he entered as a pinch hitter. Those two don’t seem to be getting along.
  • Saturday in LA, some of the best high-school players in the country will attend an MLB showcase. One of them is Wayne Gretzky’s son.
  • Headline from a Chicago paper: “Call me crazy, but it’s a Sox town now.” You’re crazy.
  • Somebody is going to take Ron Santo’s seat in the Cubs’ radio booth, but nobody knows who that is yet.
  • Stephen Strasburg threw for the first time since Tommy John surgery.
  • The Indians signed Orlando Cabrera to play second base. A slap-hitting infielder with a .303 OBP who has been on playoff teams a lot, but has rarely been brought back to those playoff teams. At least he can fill in at short and it’s only a one-year deal. This looks like insurance in case prospect 2B Jason Kipnis doesn’t work out.
  • Josh Hamilton says he hopes to be part of the Rangers’ organization long-term. The Rangers say they want him around long-term. So why did he only sign a two-year deal?
  • Yesterday I mentioned Ross Ohlendorf winning his arbitration case against the Pirates. Now, Jared Weaver lost his case with the Angels. The initial reaction is “that’s crazy,” but it’s not that crazy. They’re not really comparable cases.
  • Also recently, we wondered if the Year of the Pitcher was at least partially thanks to new bat-diameter rules. Turns out, it almost definitely wasn’t.
  • Former MWLer Mark Buehrle loves dogs, but he doesn’t love Michael Vick.
  • MiLB.com has a story about a white player who broke the color barrier in reverse.
  • Legendary author Ben Hill tells us about a minor-league team hosting a unique promotion: A human cannonballist will try to shoot himself over the outfield wall from home plate. The world-record di
    stance for non-American Gladiators human cannonball is 185 feet. According to this, the shortest porch at Lowell’s park is 301 feet (down the right-field line). If my calculations are correct, instead of a home run, this guy is going to be a screaming line drive to right. If I lived in the northeast, I’d be buying my tickets yesterday just to see how this turns out.
  • Here’s a website that looks like it has some staying power.
  • When I was sick last weekend, I went to the grocery store and I must have been in a fog because I bought a loaf of bread when I didn’t really need it. So to get rid of the extra bread, I’m going to try making French Freedom toast for the first time at some point this weekend. And you’d better believe I’m putting cinnamon into the mix. Because cinnamon takes a backseat to NO BABKA!

Musical guest… Queen!

Have a great weekend!

DW

A Harry situation

If you’ve been paying attention at all the last week or so, Fort Wayne has hit the big-time thanks to the longest-tenured mayor in the history of our fair city.

Speaking of famous Harry people, I saw Nike is coming out with a line of t-shirts celebrating the most famous facial hair in baseball history. This is easily the most innovative innovation in innovative baseball memorabilia in recent history. This makes me wish Tom Tornincasa was coming back to be the TinCaps’ hitting coach this year, for more reasons than just his sarcasm during batting practice. We can only hope a player like Miles Mikolas will come along and fill the void of t-shirt-worthy facial hair. If not, well… that would be pretty lame.

To put a nice goatee on this conversation, you should probably read this story from the Dayton Daily News, chock full of baseball/facial hair anecdotes, especially the ones about Rollie Fingers retiring rather than shave his handlebar mustache and an Oakland A’s player painting a mustache on his face to earn the team’s $300 mustache bonus.

Random thoughts:

  • Former Fort Wayne manager Randy Ready is profiled in this piece. It’s interesting that he thought about becoming a firefighter after his playing career; Tornincasa WAS a firefighter at one point.
  • The Padres need to get better production out of the leadoff spot in the batting order. It would be hard to be much worse than last year’s .303 on-base percentage. And the two-hole hitters weren’t much better. And they still almost made the playoffs.
  • More Michael Young trade speculation from the LA Times. In addition to his big contract and limited no-trade clause, Young is tough to trade because of the timing. Right now, most teams have already spent the money they had budgeted and are more worried about getting to spring training and seeing what they have in-house. But if the Rangers make somebody a good offer, that could change.
  • RHP Shaun Marcum signed a deal with the Brewers, avoiding arbitration. No surprise; it would be monumentally backwards for the Brewers to trade one of their best prospects for him, then have one of their first interactions be telling him why he’s not worth a certain amount of money.
  • Francisco Liriano and the Twins couldn’t get together on a long-term deal, which could mean he’s a trade chip. Hmm… the Rangers need pitching, right? The Twins are planning on starting Danny Valencia at third base, right? It makes sense in a vacuum, but we’re not in a vacuum. Thank goodness.
  • Pirates RHP Ross Ohlendorf went 1-11 last year and only made it through 108.1 innings of work thanks mostly to injuries. He was sent to the minors for two months. And he (and his agent) STILL won an arbitration case to get him more than $2 million this year. How did it happen? Well, probably the 4.07 ERA, the fact that the Pirates don’t exactly provide a lot of chances to rack up the W’s, and the 11-10, 3.92 ERA season in 2009. Perhaps the sabermetric stats would have helped the Pirates’ case; they suggest Ohlendorf’s traditional numbers were a little smoke-and-mirrors-ish.
  • Several statistical milestones are about to be smashed this year. Maybe it’s the budding sabermetrician in me, but I’m just not all that interested in any of those milestones. Or maybe it’s just that no Indians or Padres are in there.
  • A college pitcher is coming back from losing an eye to a line drive.
  • If you’re an ESPN Insider, you need to check this story out: RHP Tim Alderson, once a hard-throwing Giants prospect, has lost all kinds of velocity since being drafted. It hit home when his high-school coach told him, “You were a better pitcher when you were a freshman in high school.” He’s not the only example of this. It brings up the issues of long-toss vs. shorter distances, individualizing throwing programs rather than shoehorning all players into the same training program and changing otherwise successful players’ mechanics when they get to the pro ranks. In-depth player development stuff.
  • Bob Dylan, Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers playing right in a row? Maybe there’s hope for the Grammys (and music as a whole) after all. You know Dylan is the man. I think the others are pretty good, too.
  • I don’t care how many takes it took to make this trick-shot video. If you or I tried it, we’d be there all day just trying to do one of them correctly. This vaults right into the conversation for best college-athlete trick-shot video along with Ohio State basketballer Mark Titus’s “Mr. Rainmaker” (leader in the clubhouse, for obvious reasons) and David Bowie look-alike Kyle Singler’s “Get Buckets.”
  • If you don’t believe me on the Singler-Bowie comparison, feast your eyes:

singler-bowie.jpg
I rest my case.

Musical guest, David Bowie/Kyle Singler!

Take care!

DW

Invasion of the pod people

I’m a little late posting today, but it’s my boss’s fault. Michael Limmer, Jeff Greer and I met for a meeting (I called it a triple-threat Texas tornado cage match) this morning and it evolved into an all-encompassing media summit.

One thing that came out of that was this: I may start doing a podcast-ish type of thing during the season. It would probably be geared for people to listen to it on their way to work in the morning. Contents would probably be the previous night’s radio pre-game interview and a recap of the game with audio highlights, with potential for occasional bonus material.

So I’ll throw it out there and you can either answer in the comments or e-mail me (dan.watson@tincaps.com): Would you listen to this type of thing? What, specifically, would you like to hear? We have the technical ability to include phone interviews, so who would you like to hear from? Because Lord knows you hear enough of me. I’d appreciate any feedback you have.

Random thoughts:

  • If superheroes teach us nothing else, it’s that you should use your powers for good, not evil. Well, several TinCaps staff members are doing the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics this weekend. E-mail Abby Naas (naas@tincaps.com) if you want to donate.
  • I’ve been gathering info for a franchise history story for web and print use, and (imagine that) I’ve found it pretty interesting. Example: At the first game as the Fort Wayne Wizards (4/10/93 at Waterloo), the team turned a triple play. They haven’t turned one in the nearly 18 years since. Also that day, the team changed into their uniforms at the hotel before taking the bus to the ballpark because the clubhouse was so gross. The Waterloo general manager told the Wiz field manager that the team HAD to change at the ballpark moving forward, citing a “new Midwest League rule.” Compared to now, Minor League Baseball was like the Wild West crossed with Thunderdome back then. Anybody have other good Wiz/TinCaps stories?
  • Fort Wayne alum Jake Peavy is throwing 40-pitch bullpen sessions and long-tossing at 120 feet as he recovers from a weird shoulder-ish injury. He wants to be ready for opening day, but the team’s not so sure if he’ll get there, mostly because the injury is so rare that there’s no track record to draw from.
  • The Padres’ longtime bullpen catcher is battling pancreatic cancer.
  • At Wake Forest, the head baseball coach donated a kidney to one of his players. Suddenly, opening the season at LSU doesn’t sound so tough.
  • Who is on the front line of getting good baseball players into an organization? It’s scouts. Their reports are huge in who gets drafted by whom, who a team trades for, etc. So who’s the best at it statistically? Check it out now, funk soul brother.
  • Looks like the Indians will get a healthy Carlos Santana when they start spring training. Yesssssss.
  • The Michael Young trade talks are going slowly so far. Which is what happens when one team (the Rangers) has no leverage. Young has a big contract, he clearly wants out but only to eight specific teams — there’s almost no way the Rangers get fair value for him.
  • Here’s a story in defense of the Orioles‘ signing a bunch of old guys. I don’t necessarily agree with all of it, but it makes sense.
  • Fangraphs says that, believe it or not, the NFL would be wise to look to baseball as an example of how to deal with its labor issues.
  • People want to sue somebody, anybody, over the messed-up Super Bowl seat situation. If the Cleveland Browns were in the Super Bowl (stop laughing!) and I had tickets but ended up not being able to watch the game through no fault of my own, I’d be pretty fired up too. But a lawsuit? After getting paid three times the face value of the ticket, PLUS merchandise AND tickets and airfare to another Super Bowl?
  • This is easily the best Cavaliers-related thing to come out since June.
  • Dave Hutte Status Updates (there are three): “Taking the Jeopardy online test tonight!” / “Well, I don’t think I’ll be on Jeopardy anytime soon.” / “Our Valentine’s Day getaway starts tonight!” — It’s been a busy couple of days for Dave Hutte. I really wish he would get picked to go on Jeopardy and win enough to pay for an extravagant wedding. He’s the one person I know who could have that happen and it wouldn’t be all that surprising.

Musical guest… The Beatles!

Take care!

DW

Dave Hutte wedding prop bets extravaganza

If you missed it yesterday, my good buddy Dave Hutte got engaged (to be married) over the weekend. When I got the voice mail telling me it had happened, I almost drove off the road because I was happy for/proud of him. But now that the initial shock has worn off, it’s time to have fun with this. Because if you can’t have fun with your friends, who can you have fun with?

Two disclaimers for today:

  1. The Dave Hutte wedding prop bet odds are for recreational purposes only. They are opening lines and are subject to change. I do not condone gambling.
  2. Dave Hutte and I are good friends. None of this is serious. As far as you know.

And that’s it! Now let’s do this!

Dave Hutte tuxedo color
Black (with cobra embroidered on back): -450
White: (EVEN)
Any other color: +200

Will Dave Hutte get nervous enough to pass out during the ceremony?
Yes: (EVEN)
No: -110

Passage read during ceremony
Colossians 3:12: -200
Ecclesiastes 4:9: -110
1 Corinthians 13:4: +150
What it Takes to Be No. 1” by Vince Lombardi: -500

Number of different kinds of cheese in nacho fountain at reception
Over/Under 2.5: Pick ‘em

Caterer for reception
Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Dave Hutte’s go-to restaurant for first dates: -800
Everything else: (EVEN)

Song for husband/wife first dance as married couple:
Firehouse, “Love of a Lifetime”: -350
Any song by The Dave Hutte Experience: -200
Richard Marx, “Now and Forever”: +105
Hulk Hogan, “Real American”: +110

Will this happen at reception?
Yes: -850
No: +450

Will Dave Hutte sustain an injury while dancing at reception?
Yes: -250
No: +105

Distance (in feet) of garter toss, using Dave Hutte’s T-Rex arms:
Under 3.5: -250
Over 3.5: +200

Will this blog entry cause my groomsman invitation to be revoked?
Yes/No: (Pick ‘em)

That wraps it up for the prop bets. Again, these are only jokes. So just relax.

Random thoughts:

  • TinCaps single-game tickets go on sale Tuesday, February 22.
  • As someone who cares about personal health, I can’t recommend the West Michigan Whitecaps’ Valentine’s Day gift idea. But I figured I’d pass the story along for laughs. TinCaps mascot Johnny is totally booked that day delivering gifts which are slightly healthier.
  • Contract negotiations generally make great athletes look bad/greedy, but Albert Pujols seems like a genuinely nice guy.
  • Good story about Emmett Ashford, the Jackie Robinson of umpires.
  • Ask BA discusses the thin crop of offensive-minded shortstops in the game. Isn’t it possible that we were just spoiled by the Ripken/Rodriguez/Garciaparra/Tejada days?
  • Big issues for the Rangers: All the position shifting has finally sent Michael Young over the edge. Even millionaires want to feel like they’re a valued member of their company (and not just monetarily). The Rangers have repeatedly brought in other people to essentially do his job, and after dealing with it several times he’s had enough. He supposedly has eight teams he’ll accept a trade with and the Twins seem like the best fit with the Cardinals second. His big contract is another trade obstacle. Meanwhile, the Rangers are trying to avoid arbitration with Josh Hamilton (they’ll probably end up getting a bargain).
  • Peter Gammons wrote something about the NL East. Lots of good young players there.
  • The team from Mexico won the Caribbean Series. Padres SS Everth Cabrera played for the Mexican team; former MWLer Alexis Espinoza played for the Venezuelan team.
  • Reds closer Francisco Cordero’s agent’s name is Bean Stringfellow.
  • What parts of the US produce the most MLB players?
  • Equipment trucks are leaving MLB parks, headed to spring training.
  • When they said the Dodgers would wear throwback uniforms, I wondered how far you could throw back one of the most classic unis in the game. Apparently they’re going all the way back to the Brooklyn look.
  • Fantasy baseball is coming soon. Oh baby.
  • So you’re telling me the two best-received Super Bowl commercials featured dogs as main characters? Color me unsurprised.
  • Watched a documentary about Ronald Reagan on HBO last night. It was excellent. Yes, I’m 26 years old and watching documentaries about ex-presidents during my free time. How am I still single?

Musical guest… Kenny Rogers!

Take care!

DW

Dave Hutte = Mariano Rivera

Today, I know exactly how Joe Girardi feels with Mo Rivera at the back of the bullpen. Just get it to the ninth with the lead and a win is virtually guaranteed.

Now… Pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Sunday. There’s a camp preview story on Padres.com that asks the question, “How do you replace Adrian Gonzalez?” To me, that’s not the question. It’s this: “Are the Padres better today than they were at the end of last season?”

Let’s compare:

End of 2010 Start of 2011
Denorfia/Venable, CF Jason Bartlett, SS
David Eckstein, 2B Orlando Hudson, 2B
Miguel Tejada, SS Headley, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B Ludwick, LF
Ryan Ludwick, RF Hawpe/Cantu, 1B
Yorvit Torrealba, C Venable, RF
Scott Hairston, LF Nick Hundley, C
Chase Headley, 3B Cameron Maybin, CF
Starting rotation (by most starts)
RHP Mat Latos Latos
LHP Clayton Richard Richard
RHP Jon Garland RHP Aaron Harang
LHP Wade LeBlanc RHP Tim Stauffer
RHP Kevin Correia RHP Dustin Moseley

The bullpen is more or less the same as it was last year, with the key guys (Bell, Adams, Gregerson, Thatcher) back in the same spots.

So it looks like the differences are:
2010 (Tejada/Eckstein/Gonzalez/Torrealba/Garland/LeBlanc/Correia)
vs.
2011 (Bartlett/Hudson/Hawpe/Cantu/Hundley/Harang/Stauffer/Moseley)

I don’t have a degree in sabermetrics so I won’t try to put a statistical analysis on this, but I can’t imagine the offensive dropoff will be as bad as some expect. It’s not like the offense was a powerhouse last year.

The key, to me, is the back of the rotation. Garland/LeBlanc/Correia were pretty good last year. Harang/Stauffer/Moseley/maybe LeBlanc (and Cory Luebke) need to be tough for the Padres to compete. When you’re trying to cover up the offense with run prevention, you’d better pitch.

Random thoughts:

  • The Watson Files is No. 34 in the January MLBlogs rankings, a ten-spot jump from November. Which is the second-most shocking development of this entry. This is the kind of boost you get when pillars of the community like Ben Hill give you a shout-out (and link).
  • I forgot about the new bat rules for last year, but it’s a great point: Was part of the Year of the Pitcher the fact that it was also the Year of the Smaller Bat?
  • Former Padres GM Kevin Towers is trying to build the Diamondbacks back into a contender.
  • Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley will get opportunities to show the Indians what they have this year. They’re last hopes of the CC Sabathia trade
    paying any dividends… The payoffs (or lack thereof, so far) of the
    Sabathia and Cliff Lee trades are big parts of why the Indians are where they are.
  • The Rockies are pumped to get camp started at their new spring training home.
    Count me among the jealous after reading round-trip flights from Denver
    to Phoenix are $116. They should lead the Cactus League in attendance.
  • From the “Uh, what?” department… the writer says Vladimir Guerrero is “the type of slugger the Orioles need if they ever hope to compete in the AL East.” That may be true, and he may help put butts in the seats, but does anybody really think the Orioles will compete THIS year? Because, you know, it’s a one-year deal.
  • Baseball America lists their pre-season college All-Americans. So follow those guys and figure out who the Padres should draft with all 85 of their draft picks this June. At least it seems like they have that many.
  • This guy ran 365 marathons in a year. Is that good?
  • So you’re telling me Christina Aguilera butchered the National Anthem at the Super Bowl? And, aside from the touching 30-year reunion of the Blockheads and Tron on the same stage, everyone thinks the halftime show was an abomination? Nobody saw that coming.
  • I think it’s funny that, after literally minutes of Google image searching, I can’t find a single decent picture of the halftime show. Every shred of visual evidence has been destroyed. It’s the first-ever attempted cover-up of an event televised to the entire galaxy. Somewhere, Ben Roethlisberger is wishing this could’ve happened to the photos of him at the piano bar.
  • Apparently just about everything other than the game was a mess. Unsafe seats, ice falling off the roof and smashing beer tents… Yikes.
  • Isn’t it time to retire the Roman numeral thing for Super Bowls? After the game last night, Roger Staubach was carrying the championship trophy through an unneccesarily long tunnel of people. When the PA announcer introduced Staubach, he said, “MVP of Super Bowl… (awkward pause) Roger Staubach!” I can only imagine he got to the “VI” in the script, didn’t know what it meant and just skipped it. Can’t we just agree to say “the 2011 Super Bowl” and save ourselves the trouble?
  • I heard Puppy Bowl VII… I mean the 2011 Puppy Bowl… was riveting.
  • Now for the main event. The grand finale. Dave Hutte Status Update: “Popped the question to Mary and she said… Yes!”
  • That’s right… Dave Hutte is engaged. To be married. It’s already being regarded as one of the greatest coups in the history of free agency. They’re getting hitched sometime next year, which is easily the most convincing evidence yet that the world will end in the year 2012. This is the same person who once exclaimed, with a straight face, “My face is my job!” and meant it. Which was followed by someone slapping him directly in the face (not that hard, though).
  • I’ve already decided that tomorrow’s entry will be composed mostly of Dave Hutte wedding prop bet odds. So get ready for that. Here’s a little taste: You can get even-money odds that the song for their first dance as husband and wife will be Firehouse’s “Love of a Lifetime.” Because Dave Hutte loves him a good power ballad. Or, if his ego gets the best of him, maybe he’ll become the first person ever to have a CD of himself singing (The Dave Hutte Experience) as the background to his first dance with his wife. Either way, just remember to check back tomorrow.

Musical guest… Rick Springfield!

Take care!

DW

You don’t have to go home

Lately, MLB Network has been running all kinds of countdown shows to pass the time before actual baseball starts (which is soon). Maybe my favorite of all was the “50 Greatest Ejections” show. Because I love a good public tantrum. And because some days, managers just want to shake things up.

My five favorite baseball ejections of all time are:

5. Lloyd McClendon steals a base… as a manager – Because when you physically take a base out of the ground and walk off with it, you’re asking for it.

4. TinCaps hitting coach Tom Tornincasa publicly humiliates umpire – Because when you call timeout, draw lines about four inches to each side of home plate to show where you think the umpire’s strike zone is, then walk back to the first-base coaches’ box like nothing happened, you’re asking for it. Months later, we found out manager Doug Dascenzo went to the umpire to try and smooth things out and asked, “You threw him out? What did he do?”

3. Padres manager ejected during pre-game exchange of lineup cards – Because when you deliver the videotape of a “missed” call from the day before to an umpire, you’re asking for it.

2. Mississippi Braves manager goes all Rambo – Because when you throw the rosin bag like a grenade, you’re asking for it.

1. Lou Piniella holds a one-man placekicking exhibition – Because when it’s your 14th birthday and Indians tickets are impossible to get, you’re happy to see any game. But when you get to see MLB Network’s 5th-best ejection in the video era in person, that’s the stuff legends are made of.

Random thoughts:

  • Johnny’s Valentine’s Day deliveries have been popular. So popular that he’s now booked. You snooze, you lose, bubba.
  • Spring training in Florida is inferior to spring training in Florida, mostly because of travel time between complexes. This isn’t what we call “hard news,” but it’s worth pointing out.
  • Remember that story about Rafael Soriano saving the Yankees’ off-season? Well, Andy Pettitte’s retiring. So forget about all that.
  • The Giants will give prospect Brandon Belt a shot to make the big-league team. Prediction: If Buster Posey didn’t do it (for arbitration reasons mostly), Belt won’t.
  • Nothing like a good “I wish we would have drafted so-and-so” session. In this edition, the Brewers wish they had had the chance to draft Mike Trout. Them and about 28 other teams.
  • San Francisco is weird.
  • Somebody ranked the best and worst baserunners in MLB. I won’t pretend to know how they figure this out, but it’s fun to look at.

Musical guest… Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears!

Have a great weekend!

DW

A level 1 blogging emergency

In Ohio (where I’ve lived most of my life), the higher the level of a snow emergency, the worse the snow is. So you can understand my confusion when yesterday morning someone declared a Level 1 snow emergency in our area and no cars were allowed on the roads.

Anyway, it was the first snow day I’ve had since college. And after watching several hours of awkward interviews with high-school football players who just announced (on quasi-national TV) where they’re going to attend college, I’m here to report that snow days are lamer than I remember. That is all.

Random thoughts:

  • The TinCaps will celebrate the anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking MLB’s color barrier on April 15.
  • The Padres picked up RHP Samuel Deduno from the Rockies. Lots of strikeouts in the high minors, lots of walks. Consider him the new Radhames Liz. San Diego designated INF Oscar Salazar for assignment, which means Jeudy Valdez keeps his spot on the 40-man roster. The move means about half of the players who were with San Diego for a substantial amount of time last year have gone elsewhere.
  • Dave Roberts is feeling good and already working at Petco Park. He’ll be the Padres’ first-base coach this year.
  • Lewis Black, who has made a career of being fake-outraged, caught wind of the Akron Aeros’ artery-clogging concession items. He is faking, right?
  • Fun names from this week’s minor-league transactions: Nick Bierbrodt, Braden Looper, Timo Perez (who, like many of us, wishes it was still the year 2000), Tobi Stoner (no, that’s not a misspelling).
  • Tim Kurkjian wonders if the workload on last year’s World Series pitching staffs will spell trouble in 2011.
  • From Buster Olney’s blog (insider only): Did you know some teams have installed 3D Doppler radar systems in their ballparks that can measure the spin, in RPMs, of pitches? Word is, TV news stations in those towns are racing to find a slightly-better Doppler system for their weather forecasts, then advertise the bejeesus out of it.
  • The Braves invited RHP Julio Teheran to MLB spring training. He’s considered the best pitching prospect in the minors by several outlets.
  • Frank Viola will be the pitching coach for the Mets’ short-season affiliate in Brooklyn. He was at the Winter Meetings looking for work, if I remember correctly.
  • The Mariners’ minor-league operations director did an interview. Interesting stuff about how winning games needs to be part of the development process. Not every organization believes that, at least not strongly.
  • The Yankees picked up OF Justin Maxwell, who had been designated for assignment by the Nationals. He played for us in Harrisburg when I worked there. Enormous and smart guy, but hasn’t been able to stay healthy or hit enough in the big leagues. I’m also puzzled as to how he’s going to be ready to go for spring training after undergoing Tommy John surgery in October.
  • Snow-mageddon 2011 has claimed part of the press box at Wrigley Field.
  • The Indians’ equipment truck leaves Cleveland for Arizona on Friday.
  • That might be the only positive sports-related story Cleveland gets for months. I watched the Cavs last night and couldn’t stop thinking about how the Cavs wouldn’t trade for Amare Stoudamire because they’d have to give up J.J. Hickson. Also, their starting lineup last night included Christian Eyenga, Manny Harris and Ramon Sessions. This guy here is dead!
  • I don’t know how everybody missed it yesterday with ten hours of live coverage, but Forrest Gump of Greenbow High School has signed to play his college football at Alabama. Rival fans are calling for an investigation into how Gump qualified academically.

Musical guest… REO Speedwagon!

Take care!

DW

Shameless non-self-promotion

Maybe you saw this, maybe you didn’t: If there’s a woman who enjoys your company for more than five minutes (or you’re trying to get to that point) and you want to do something nice for her this Valentine’s Day, try letting TinCaps mascot Johnny deliver a gift pack. Think of this as a classier version of the giant gorilla candygram.

If you want to order, get Abby Naas on the horn at (260) 482-6400 or e-mail her. She already has at least four deliveries booked, so get ahold of her soon. Operators are standing by.

Meanwhile, I’ll be assembling a team of sled dogs to prepare for the Snowpocalypse. That’s weird… another example of dogs being better than cats.

Random thoughts:

  • Coming soon to TinCaps.com: A short franchise history. We’ll see how this turns out.
  • Ask BA says this year’s draft is especially deep and the South Atlantic League will be loaded to open the season.
  • Peter Gammons says former MWLer Neftali Feliz could be more valuable as a starter than as a closer. He’s right, but the Rangers just traded Frank Francisco, so it seems less likely they’ll make the switch this year.
  • MiLB.com did an interview with Brandon Belt, who went bonkers in the Giants’ minor league system last year.
  • Here’s a Top 10 prospects list for the Rockies. If you’re into that sort of thing.
  • Believe it or not, Freddy Garcia might not be bad as the Yankees’ fifth starter. The issue for him, as always, is staying healthy. He made 28 starts last year for the White Sox. Still, that rotation is the baseball equivalent of the “exhaust-pipe-strapped-to-the-bottom-of-the-car-by-a-clothes-hanger” method of auto maintenance.
  • The Reds made the playoffs with a young, exciting team and still finished 20th in baseball in attendance last year? At one of the best parks in the league? Reds fans are this close to losing their “great fan base” title.
  • I went to Ada, Ohio, several times to broadcast games in college and never knew the footballs for the Super Bowl are made there.
  • Between Super Bowl Media Day, college football signing day and Death by Snow 2011, I can’t think of three more “ehh”-worthy events happening almost simultaneously.
  • Spring training games start later this month. And there’s nothing “ehh” about that.

Musical guest… R.E.M.!

Stay safe out there!

DW

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