All-Star Game News Update

I know that it’s not my job to break the big baseball news stories. There are plenty of other guys who are willing to whip up an article at 11pm, people who did not DVR the All-Star Game, start it at 9:30 and then just drank through the whole thing anyways. So it should come as no surprise to you that the National League won 5-1, and that the Mets announced that closer Francisco Rodriguez was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers for Players-To-Be-Named immediately after the game.

No, my role in all of this is to provide some Opinions. And my opinion on both items is: Well done!

Obviously, the National League is the team to root for in the All-Star Game, because a) The Mets are in the NL b) The Yankees are in the AL and c) The NL doesn’t have the designated hitter. Plus, the lineups were so shuffled around by the time the game actually got started that Andrew McCutchen did make it! And, even though Derek Jeter was replaced by Asdrubal Cabrera, who I like, Jeter was extremely rude and didn’t even show up to Arizona. Even though they have a pool!

And there might be babes in it!

No, the NL is the way to go, for sure. And they won. So yay! Speaking of the pool at Chase Field, did you manage to catch the interview with Justin Timberlake, who was standing around with said pool, and babes? Because he was wonderful. And by wonderful I mean “drunk.”

Mark Grace: It’s a pretty good spot. Now you wanted ballpark food. Peanuts, popcorn, hot dogs, which one’s your favorite?

Justin Timberlake:My favorite? Just beer.

Mark Grace: Really? Beer! It’s kind of the perfect food.

Justin Timberlake: It goes with the hot dog, it goes with nachos, it goes with peanuts. Beer’s perfect. Beer never got mad at me because I didn’t call beer back.

Thanks to Mets blog Amazin Avenue for the transcript.

Alright, on to Part Two: The K-Rod Deal

I am glad, it is a good move. There is much speculation that the deal was done without Frankie’s consent, and that he is upset about it. But that is what you get when you are a man who throws a temper tantrum, hurts yourself, and then has an enormous vesting option that your team cannot really afford to pay.  I like K-Rod, don’t get me wrong; I especially liked his first-ever Major League at-bat this season. He was cute.

Couldn't find a picture of the at-bat, but it was a lot like this.

But scared puppy or no, K-Rod needed to be traded. And the Brewers, I think, will be a good match for him, whether he thinks so right now or not. They are a happy, fun-loving team, with a real chance to win and some great personalities, which will hopefully help with his anger issues some. Plus, the Brewers’ manager, Ron Roenicke, has worked with Frankie while he was with the Angels. There is the small issue of Jon Axford, who is, and will clearly remain, the Brewers’ closer, but I’m hoping some humble pie will do K-Rod some good. And if he can’t stand being the set-up man, he can leave at the end of the season.

And it’s good for the Mets, because they paid off the $5 million they owe him, and that $17.5 mil becomes the Brewers’ problem. And the Mets get a chance to develop the rest of their bullpen, and focus on their options for the rest of this season. So, I say, “Well Done.”


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C’mon Guys, It Says Right in the Title



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All-Star Roster Opinions

I am not going to go through and spout off opinions about every single player included on/snubbed from the All-Star Roster this year. I have lots of other things I have to do with my time, like read this book, or watch this documentary. There are just a few major issues I would like to express my opinion on in regards to the Midsummer Classic this year.

Derek Jeter

Ugh, Derek Jeter. I am well aware that my knowledge of baseball history has some significant gaps in it. I’ve seen the first four episodes of Ken Burns’ Baseball, and I remember Mark McGwire’s Got Milk? ads from the 90s.

Besides that, my knowledge of baseball’s major figures and events starts right around September 2008. So Jeter doesn’t mean that much to me. I’ve seen him in his decline, almost exclusively. I understand that All-Star voting is a popularity contest, and that people vote for players they know. I also understand that no one is better known, in a positive light, in baseball today than Derek Jeter. I stil don’t think he should have made the starting lineup. Put him on the bench, even though his playing doesn’t deserve it, as a fond farewell to one of the greats. Give Asdrubal Cabrera the chance to parallel what A-Rod did in 2001 with Cal Ripken Jr. I’m just sayin’: he’s not that good anymore, guys. I mean, Jeter makes it and Ichiro doesnt? Hmph.

Jose Reyes

Here is a dude I am glad made the starting lineup! Jose is the most talented, most enthusiastic and exciting player in the game today. And I might even think so if he wasn’t a New York Met. His numbers speak to his talent, and his ability to come back from injury. We were all so worried about him coming into the season. I’ll admit, I suggested, probably more than once, that the Mets try to get rid of him before he proved himself a flop. I was wrong (I was also wrong about Carlos Beltran, I suggested they do the same with him).

But what makes Jose so immensely deserving, even over Tulo, who is very good, is the shear JOY with which he plays the game. I love nothing more than to see Reyes slide into third, and pop up, immediately ready to clap and cheer, or to argue with the ump, big goofy smile on his face either way.

The Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates are FOUR games over .500, the latest into a season they’ve had a winning record since, like, 1665, or something. They are also only 1.5 games back behind the St. Louis Cardinals, who, even without Mr. Pujols, are a very very good team. And Joel Hanrahan is the only Pirate in the All-Star game. I know he’s not the only guy who’s winning these games for them. Hanrahan is an excellent closer, saving 25 games already this year, but there are a few other guys who have made things happen for the Bucs.

Guys like, say, oh, Andrew McCutchen? Who not only is not on the All-Star Roster, is not even one of the final vote-in options? What the hell? I don’t violently disagree with any of the NL outfield selections, but surely there is room out there for this guy.

Kay, that’s about all for now. Nothing earth-shattering, but there you go.

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Oh my goodness, look at those Mets! I am just beside myself with glee about their recent strategy of unrepentant offensive slaughter. 52 runs in the last 4 games. That’s an average of 13 runs a game, and if you take away their measly 8-run performance on Sunday, that’s averaging nearly 15 runs a game in 3 of the last 4! 

And, although they managed a whopping 20 hits last night without a single home run, they finally finally broke their grand slam streak on Tuesday, with Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran each hitting one! Jason Bay! Hit a Grand Slam! And Comerica Park is not a small place, either. I didn’t watch the game on Tuesday, because I was out on the town being fancy, but be assured, I intend to! 7 runs in the 4th, all with 2 outs? Yes, please.

Some sources have suggested that the sudden surge in Mets offense is a response to New York State legalizing gay marriage. As nice a senitment as that is (yay for gay marriage!), I will remind you that correlation is not causation, and that this is something the Mets lineup has been hinting at for a while now. They were just waiting to be pushed over the edge.

TWO games over .500! Let’s go Mets! I’m so happy right now.

Stupid sign
Screw you, this sign!

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It’s Math Time!

Each of the 30 MLB teams plays 162 regular season games. That makes 2430 games total in the regular season. (15 x 162, not 30 x 162, because the teams have to play each other). There are then 4 division series of up to 5 games, 2 league series of up to 7 games, and a World Series of up to 7 games. So that adds up to 41 postseason games. There is also the potential for a one game tiebreaker series in each division, and the wildcard. So that’s up to 8 more games.

Here’s where we stand so far:

2430 regular season games

41      postseason games

8         tiebreaker games


2479 potential games in a single season of Major League Baseball

What? What’s that? Why on earth are we doing this? Oh, I forgot to explain. I want to see how long it would take someone to watch a billion (1,000,000,000) baseball games. There’s a clip in a commercial on MLB Network where a commentator says “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in the one billion games I’ve seen.” And being a bit pedantic, I suspect that the gentleman in question has not, in fact, seen one billion baseball games. So I’m gonna do some math about it! You like math, right? You’re a baseball fan, just call it ‘statistics.’ I’ll put it under the cut, so you can skip the really meaty part, if you want to.

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Greatest Names in Baseball Today Pt. 2: Electric Boogaloo

This is the long-awaited National League edition of the best names that baseball has to offer today. As before, the rules are simple. The player must currently be on the 40-man roster of a big league team, must have been on the active roster for at least one game this season, and all nicknames must be the primary nomenclature by which a player is known. These rules exclude players like Milton Bradley (man, what a disaster!), and CarGo.

Let’s get started:

10. Will Venable – I just like the name Will Venable. He sounds like the protagonist in a series of sci fi novels. A good, simple, name. But seriously, can’t you just see a guy named Will Venable in a space station, floating around, fighting some aliens, and a vindictive AI? As outfielder for the San Diego Padres, Venable has been consistent and solid.

9. Antonio Bastardo – This relief pitcher for the Phillies is a scary dude. He can’t help it, with a name like that. He could be the nicest, sweetest man in the world, but you wouldn’t know it when he takes the mound. Pitchers are generally intimidating guys in the first place, and the history of mentally unstable left-handers (see Brian Wilson) adds to that. Then, there’s “Bastardo” on the back of his jersey. It’s cool.

8. Darwin Barney – Honestly, I could probably make this entire list out of Cubs players. A kid named “Darwin” says a lot about his family and upbringing. You don’t name your son that accidentally. Charles Darwin is someone that people generally have a solid opinion about. But, in this case, it works. Rolls off the tongue well, and he’s hitting .294 this season, with 25 RBI in 63 games. Also, pretty cute.

7. Prince Fielder – Son of Cecil Fielder, major power-hitter of the 1990s, Prince Fielder is the ace up the Milwaukee Brewer’s sleeve. His actual given first name is Prince, which makes it that much better, and sort of implies that Cecil is still the king–clever work, Dad. What makes this baseball name even better is that his surname is a position in baseball. It rolls off the tongue well, and works as a title for the man, not just a name.

6. Brian Wilson – Another player with the name of another celebrity. But what makes this one so great is the parallels between Beach Boy Brian Wilson and Giants closer Brian Wilson. Both are notoriously weird, iconic representations of California, and cornerstones of their respective organizations. Thank goodness one of them has a beard, or you’d never be able to tell them apart!

5. Homer Bailey – Pitcher for the Reds, Homer’s real first name is David. Which seems strange to me. David is a perfectly normal name, yes, and Homer is a pretty adorable baseball name, but for a pitcher? But it’s okay, he’s 3-1 on the season with a 3.00 ERA, 19-17 overall. And paired with his last name, Homer Bailey comes across as a corn-fed all-American good-old-boy, which is endearing, I think.

4. Chipper Jones – Do I really have to explain this one? His real name is Larry Wayne Jones. Larry Wayne Jones sounds like a boring man, but Chipper Jones is an excellent, exciting man. 1999 NL MVP, 2 Silver Sluggers, and 2nd all-time in RBIs by switch hitters. When I was a kid, my brother was given a pack of baseball cards that contained a Chipper Jones rookie card, and we decided, sight unseen that he was going to be awesome, because he had a cool name. And there you go.

3. Corey Hart – Teammate of Prince Fielder, Corey Hart is a teen heartthrob. For fans like myself, who grew up with Coreys Haim and Feldman, Corey Hart fits right in. In fact, Hart probably had his share of girlfriends in middle school based on his name alone. Oh yeah, and then there’s the other Corey Hart, who sang that song about wearing your sunglasses at night. Oh yeah.

2. Welington Castillo – This is the guy that inspired me to do these lists at all. I was watching the Cubs game, and the as the lineup was announced, I did an audio doubletake. What was that guy called? How does someone get this name? I fully support Mr. Castillo, and I hope he has a long, storied career in the majors, just so we can keep talking about him. Welington Castillo. Yes.

1. Huston Street – The closer for the Rockies leads the majors in saves so far this season, with 22/24. Impressive. He also has the same name as a famous thoroughfare in New York City, albeit minus one letter “o.” But his name is pronounced in exactly the same way that thousands of tourists pronounce Houston Street every summer as they wander hopelessly around lower Manhattan. To make things even better, Huston was born and raised in Texas, where there is also a famous place named Houston. But it doesn’t seem to be distracting him from getting clutch outs for his team.

Honorable Mention:

Arquimedes Euclides Caminero – Currently in the minor league system of the Florida Marlins, this right handed pitcher technically does not qualify for this list. But I came across his name in my research, and I couldn’t bear not to share it with you. Are his parents mathematicians perhaps? Or philosophers? Inquiring minds want to know.

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Just a Quick Thought

I’ve been working on a top-to-bottom ranking of baseball teams from most- to least- favorite for a couple of seasons now. The top and the bottom are firmly set in place, but the middle has always been a bit flexible.

Numbers 1 and 2 are the Mets and Mariners, and Number 30 is the Yankees. But I’m sitting here watching the Tigers and Rays, and I realize that I like them exactly equal amounts. Miguel Cabrera is cool, Justin Verlander is exciting. The Rays are scrappy and an important part of keeping the Yanks out of the postseason. 

So, as of now, I guess, I would put these guys as tied for 15th. Not particularly interested or unintertested, in exactly equal amounts. 

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