Monthly Archives: April 2012

Week 4 – MLB 2012 Season: Fantasy Baseball Report

Monday April 30th, 2012

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): This offseason, I told myself (and others) to stay away from names like Matt Kemp and Josh Hamilton. It wasn’t even a question. There was no way Kemp could repeat his 2011 season (and his .380 BAPIP). But he appears to be on his way to surpassing last year and making a hard push towards the triple crown. Josh Hamilton, who I also intentionally stayed away from, simply cannot be counted on to play 150 games. Hamilton has had a Kemp-like start to the season and is also single-handedly carrying fantasy teams throughout the first month of the season. However, he did leave Sunday’s game with back tightness (out Monday as well) and this could be a start of a trend that we have seen in seasons past. 

On the pitching side, Jake Peavy was another guy who fell in the same category as Hamilton, having only made 39 starts in his 2.5 seasons with the White Sox. Furthermore, the results were poor in those starts as he transitioned from a pitcher friendly park in baseball’s weakest hitting division to the American League.  But even more of an afterthought in addition to the health concerns, was Peavy’s transition from the NL West and the most pitcher friendly park to the hitting friendly confines of U.S. Cellular Field. However, Peavy looks like the Peavy of old and is pitching like a number one type pitcher again.  But will that last? Are you prepared to take that gamble? Read the rest of this entry

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A New GWR Record and Many New Ball Park Chaser Friends

The Streak ended at 30 MLB Parks in 23 calendar days!!

I broke my old record of 24 days by being-Fastest to see all 30 MLB parks in 23 days  from April 6th to 28th!

Sked is here: fastestthirtyballgames3021.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/30in20/

Follow me-@chuckbooth3024 on twitter

http://mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker/ or at my official website for all updates!

Monday, Apr.30/2012

Ken Lee, Chuck Booth, Lori Martini and Roger Ratzenberger after the final pitch in Ball Park #30 in 23 days for Chuck Booth’s New World Record. Camden Yards is the sight of this picture.

Monday April.30/2012

MLB Park # 30 Day # 23

OAK 1 @ BAL 10

April.28/2012

Oriole Park at Camden Yards

 

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- I am going to do this segment in reverse.  I am jumping right ahead to the last game of the streak.  Sure I have eight other recaps (besides this one) to still post that were technically before this game, but I need to write about this game first.  I will post parks 22-24 on Wednesday and 25-29 on Friday.  I will also have the Expert Interviews for Chase Field, Miller Park, US Cellular Field, The Great American Ball Park, Busch Stadium and PNC Park updated by the week’s end.  Eventually all of this information will be available on my website at www.thirtyballgames3021.wordpress.com. The game had wrapped up in Busch Stadium for what was game #29.  My wing-man Ken Lee, had done some great driving work to help me with 2 straight double-header even before heading to St. Louis.  As we left the city on I-70, I took on the duties of driving.  Ken had exhausted himself in the process of helping me.  I started the 1st 8 hours of driving towards Baltimore.  This would be park number 30 in only 23 days.  For me I knew this would mean another world record.  In the back of my mind it was a long time between cities so I was gearing up to face the challenge.  I was rested up as much as I had been in several weeks.  The driving was actually a nice change from being a passenger.

Read the rest of this entry

Improving Technology in MLB Ballparks

Sunday April, 29 2012 

Ryan Ritchey: With baseball being America’s past time, the game is old-fashioned to say the least. In many of the older ballparks like Fenway, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last week, the stadium is built with poles holding up the upper decks. In these ballparks fans get tickets for seats behinds poles cheaper than any seat in the stadium. Others like Kauffman Stadium have started putting in solar panels above the outfield seats to use the solar energy to power the ballpark. 

With this being said does baseball need to up the ante on technology in the ballpark by adding more things for the enjoyment of the fans? In my opinion it is yes and no. There is no better feeling than going to a ballpark and smelling the peanuts and hot dogs and enjoying a nice game on a hot summer day. For those fans sitting behind those poles, do they need a special TV on the seat in front of them that will allow them to watch the game while also being there? The TVs will need headphones so you can hear the voice of the announcers which is the only bad thing. The cool thing about that would be if you could get the voice of the announcer at the ballpark and only hear what is going on within the ballpark itself. Read the rest of this entry

Overlooked Veteran Pitchers That Could Pitch in 2012

Sunday April 29th, 2012

Sam Evans:  In a recent interview with The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, former MLB legend Pedro Martinez said that he could be ready to pitch in only twenty days. Even though Pedro was probably joking, pretty much every team in baseball could use a quality back-end starter. So in honor of Pedro’s comments, let’s look at some free agents and veteran pitchers in Triple-A that could help MLB teams this year.

John Lannan, LHP, Syracuse Chiefs (WSH AAA): Perhaps the biggest surprise with the Nationals Opening Day roster had nothing to do with a certain Bryce Harper. National’s manager Davey Johnson decided to use Ross Detwiler instead of the veteran lefty John Lannan as the Nats’ fifth starter. Lannan who had a 3.70 ERA and 4.24 xFIP in thirty-three starts last year, was demoted to Triple-A. The Nationals could definitely trade Lannan, now that Detwiler has become a quality starter in the majors. A team like the Red Sox could acquire Lannan and he could provide some value to a Boston team lacking starting pitching.

Kyle Davies, RHP, Free Agent: Kyle Davies used to be the top pitching prospect in baseball. While he does deserve credit for surviving as a major league starter for a few years, Davies never reached his potential as top of the rotation starter. Last year with the Kansas City Royals, Davies only lasted thirteen starts. Even though his ERA was 6.75, his FIP was only 4.39. If Davies pitched like that for the rest of the season, he would have been worth around 2.3 WAR. That’s better than both Colby Lewis and Chad Billingsley’s 2011 WAR totals. I’m not saying Davies can become that kind of starter, but if someone gives him a fresh start he could hang on in a MLB rotation. He’s still only twenty-nine and a team could sign him to a minor league contract and see if he’s got anything left in the tank. Read the rest of this entry

Ask the Reports: ATR Answers Your Baseball Questions – April 29th, 2012

Sunday April 29th, 2012




Jonathan Hacohen:  Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@me.com, message us on Twitter and post on our Facebook Wall!

Let’s get to your top questions of the week (LOTS of Expansion talk this week):

Q: Where will the WBC games be played in March  Chris

Q: Does anyone know what the dates are for the 2013 World Baseball Classic and how it will affect the schedule for Spring Training?  Steve

JH: Hello Chris and Steve. Yes, we love talking WBC on MLB reports. So much so, that we have a page dedicated exclusively to the greatest international baseball tournament of all time! Please click on wbcreports.com to find out all the latest World Baseball Classic news and reports. With the WBC qualifiers still coming up, we are still far away from the tournament itself- coming up in March 2013. The qualifiers will be played in Florida, Panama, Germany and Taiwan. Each site will host 4 countries- with 1 winner advancing to the WBC tournament from each pool. For the 1st two tournaments, the finals were held in Los Angeles (Dodger Stadium). As to which cities will be lucky to host the 2013 WBC- stay tuned. I expect the announcement to come sometime between the end of the World Series and New Years. But as soon as we have the info- we will announce it! The WBC will have the effect of extending the spring schedule to some degree. It is a never-ending battle for Major League Baseball, to accommodate spring training while still keeping the WBC schedule on track. It’s not a perfect system, so certainly expect baseball officials to continue to tweak the schedule every tournament until they find the best possible schedule. Read the rest of this entry

Michael Pineda’s Early Demise

Saturday April 28th, 2012

Bernie Olshansky: Exactly one year ago today, Michael Pineda was just a few starts into his major league career. He had a fastball upwards of ninety-five miles per hour and seemed to be the next Felix Hernandez in the Mariners organization. It would have been impossible to predict where he is now and what he is going through. The Yankees announced Wednesday that Pineda would miss the rest of the season due to an anterior labrum tear in his shoulder and would need to undergo arthroscopic surgery. The best-case recovery time is 12 months, making a return for Opening Day 2013 nearly impossible.

       

A shoulder injury is one of the worst possible injuries a pitcher could have. Compared to elbow injuries and the recovery from Tommy John surgery, the recovery from a torn labrum is a much longer and tougher process. Pineda most likely suffered this injury due to fatigue from his large workload last year (171.0 IP). The good news for Pineda is that the rotator cuff is not damaged, and the surgery is successful 85-90 percent of the time. A couple of recent pitchers who recovered successfully from this type of surgery are Curt Schilling and Chris Carpenter. Schilling had a similar injury in 1995 when he was 28 years old, which caused him to miss most of the 1995 season. For Schilling, it only took ten months to fully recover and by May 1996, he was pitching again. Carpenter tore his labrum in 2003 and made a full recovery to come back to have a great 2004 season. Pineda’s return isn’t impossible by any means, especially because he just turned 23. Talk about a sophomore jinx for Pineda — he didn’t even get to start his sophomore campaign.


Unfortunately for the Yankees, their highly touted prize in the Jesus Montero trade must be placed on the disabled list for the rest of this season. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik claims he had no knowledge whatsoever about a possible injury for Pineda when he made the trade, so it seems that the Yankees just got unlucky. At the time of the trade, it seemed that both teams were getting a great deal for each of their needs. The Yankees needed pitching and got exactly that from Pineda with a solid 3.74 ERA in his Rookie year with 171.0 innings pitched and 173 strikeouts. This type of performance earned him All Star honors. The only concern was the large number of innings pitched, which, in my opinion, ended up doing him in. The Mariners, knowing that they were going to have sufficient pitching in the future with Felix Hernandez and highly regarded prospect Danny Hultzen, traded Pineda for Yankees prospect Jesus Montero who was ready to be on the big club after spending the majority of 2011 in the minors (tearing it up, I might add with an overall .308 average over a five-year span). For the anemic Mariners offense that needed some pop, Montero promised to help improve a club that, in 2011 ranked dead last in average, runs, slugging percentage, on base percentage, and 25th in home runs. This already perfect deal for the Mariners turned out even better sadly when Pineda went down with this injury.


Now the Yankees are stuck with an injured Pineda, and do not have Jesus Montero in their lineup (who was hitting .263 as of today, but hey, at least he’s playing). The Mariners also got pitcher Hector Noesi, who is also part of the Mariners’ rotation, and the Yankees received minor league pitcher Jose Campos, who has posted a 1.23 ERA so far for the Charleston RiverDogs Single-A team (I guess that’s the only silver lining for the Yankees). Five years from now when all of the players who were involved in the trade are established major leaguers, this may all be a distant memory. But right now for the Yankees, it hurts a lot.


**Today’s feature was prepared by Bernie Olshanksy, MLB reports Intern candidate.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Bernie on Twitter. (@BernieOlshansky)***

 

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Painting the Corners – Interview with Author Bob Weintraub

Saturday April 28, 2012

MLB reports:  A new day bring a new baseball book to our world. Bob Weintraub, author has recently published his book “Painting the Corners:  A Collection of Off-Center Baseball Stories.”  Not the typical biography or instructional book – Painting the Corners is a breath of fresh air. A big part of loving baseball is sharing the stories and experiences that are a part of the game for us. As fans. Writers. Viewers. Each of us has our baseball “stories” to tell, those first-hand experiences that stuck with us during key games/moments. Now imagine these tales told by the various personnel within the game. Here is a sneak peek into the world of Painting the Corners:

Bob Weintraub’s marvelous collection of baseball stories goes directly to the core of what the game does for us when we watch it being played on the field, and shows how its heroes and villains can reach into a person’s life and remain a part of us for the rest of our days. The stories are told from various perspectives, including those of the player, manager, general manager, coach, scout, owner, writer, broadcaster and fan.  Each strives for its own sense of authenticity, seeks to introduce characters we’d be comfortable spending time with, and in many cases ends with an unexpected twist.

W.P. Kinsella, author of Shoeless Joe (Field of Dreams), says that “Weintraub has executed a triple play: savvy baseball writing, unforgettable characters and a home run ending for each tale.”

In “Knuckleball,” a manager is beside himself when he can’t let his star knuckleball pitcher start the seventh game of the World Series because the only catcher he’s ever had in the big leagues suddenly goes down with an injury.  The team from Alcatraz, in “The Way They Play Is Criminal,” has a bag full of dirty tricks waiting to spring on its San Quentin rivals, and it uses them all.  A father on a college tour with his daughter happens upon the very same autographed baseball he saw a friend catch in Fenway Park’s bleachers thirty years earlier, and learns, in “The Autograph,” how a twist of fate has brought the friend together with the player who hit it.  A veteran outfielder goes into the last game of his career batting .299 with 299 home runs and, in “Just One to Go,” gets his only chance to hit with two outs in the ninth.  And in “The Short End of Immortality,” we see that it’s essential for a baseball writer to be totally objective when voting on a player for the Hall of Fame, even if that player has always been married to your mother.

 

To learn about Painting the Corners, we went directly to the source. Featured today on MLB reports is author Bob Weintraub, presenting his baseball book – “Painting the Corners”: Read the rest of this entry

Michael Pineda is Out for the Year: When Will the Yankees Pitcher Return?

Friday April 27th, 2012

Sam Evans: On this past Wednesday, we learned that twenty-three year old Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda was diagnosed with an anterior labral tear, and that he will undergo surgery on May 1st. Pineda is definitely out for the year, and there is a chance he could never pitch in the majors again. There is talk though that he could be out for less than a year and come back stronger than ever. But that possibility is hopeful at best. Thus is the nature of Pineda’s situation. Let’s take a look at his injury, and when the Yankees could hope to see him pitching in New York.

When Michael Pineda was acquired from the Mariners this offseason, Yankees fans were feeling pretty good about their rotation. They had just traded for one of the top young arms in the majors. In 2011, Pineda was an All-Star and started twenty-eight incredible games for the Mariners. He barely had any issues with control, he struck out a ton of batters, and he had the poise of a veteran. He wore down as the season came to an end, but that was normal given his age and experience. Even though the Yankees gave up two talented players to get Pineda and a prospect, he had a chance to be the #2 starter that they were looking for when they signed A.J. Burnett. Read the rest of this entry

Is Zack Greinke Worth $100 Million?

Friday April 27, 2012

Ryan Ritchey: The question for all the teams in the major leagues is if Zack Greinke is worth the $100 million that he is going to want…and likely get. With Greinke being a free agent at the end of the season, does he want to stay with the Brewers or does he want to test free agency. At the age of 28, he could get the big 7 -year deal he is seeking. But it won’t be worth 100 million. He could end up getting around $80 million with a great season in 2012. With a 16 win season last year and off to a pretty quick start this season, he is showing the league what he’s got. With Fielder leaving though, I don’t see him staying with the Brewers after this season.

The big question about Greinke is whether he can stay healthy. Last season was his best season in terms of wins, but he didn’t get to the 200 inning mark that every pitching coach wants his pitchers at. If he wants to be the ace that every team is going to want him to be, he is going to need to be a 200 inning guy. I can see Greinke being the guy that throws those 200 innings year after year but the only way this happens is if he can stay consistent and get batters out. Read the rest of this entry

Baseball Movie Review: Caught – Life Playing Out on the Softball Field

Thursday April 26, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen: For those of us that live the game of baseball, we know that baseball becomes part of many facets of our existence. Aside from watching baseball, we talk about it, debate it, read about it and think about it. Baseball consumes us pretty much 24/7…and we wouldn’t have it any other way! But to become “well-rounded” baseball aficionados, many fans read baseball books and watch baseball movies. I have spent many hours talking to our readers about their favorite baseball books and movies of all-time. While I have reviewed many baseball books for you, I have not actually had the pleasure of reviewing a baseball film. Until today. Featured on MLB reports, I am proud to present our first Baseball Movie Review. Starring Lori Martini, the film is called “Caught”. 

Caught is not your typical “feel good” baseball movie. Definitely not a cookie-cutter film. It is a short film…but man, it packs a strong punch. I won’t ruin the film for you by giving away the story. But I will say that I loved the use of baseball as a focal point in the storyline of this film. For the young girl Hannah (played by Lori Martini), her life is a troubled one. With a difficult family life centered around her troubled mother and brother, her ultimate refuge is the diamond. Behind the plate as a catcher, she is safe. Nobody can harm her there. For many ball fans, either as players and/or spectators, we can relate to the effect that the game has on our own lives. Baseball is ultimately an escape. Our sanctuary. Where the troubles in our lives can’t hurt us. That message really hit home for me watching Caught and I can see how many baseball fans will feel the same connection in watching life through Hannah’s life.

I have to admit that I was blown away by Martini’s performance in the film. Not only is she a songwriter, but she also wrote and co-produced the film. This talented young lady played many roles in helping Caught make it to the big screen. The script was strong, with well written dialogue and flow to the film. But ultimately, it was Martini’s presence on the screen that won me over. She has a powerful presence. While Martini had a strong supporting cast around her, the film is driven through her character. I felt Hannah’s words as she spoke. A good actor/actress lives the role that they play. They are not acting- rather, they are the person they are playing. In Caught, Martini was Hannah. She was that rough and tough catcher behind the plate. She was that girl who loved to play baseball and always gave it her all. On the field and in life. No matter how hard things became around her, Hannah battled. Much like Martini in real life. 

Keep an eye on lorimartini.com to find out when Caught will be featured in a movie theatre near you. If you get the chance to watch it, I highly suggest you do so. Life is not always about perfect Hollywood endings. Life can be hard. For an escape into a dramatic life that plays out on the softball field, watch Catch. Martini was named Best Actress in the 2011 Staten Island Film Festival for a reason. This lady loves baseball with every ounce of her being. Now get ready to watch her baseball masterpiece with your own eyes.

 

*** Caught is featured on Facebook and Twitter (@shortfilmcaught). To learn more about Lori Martini and her story click here .  You can also follow Lori on Twitter (@lorimartini) and check out her song ‘Believe’ here on Youtube (Justin Turner of the Mets walkup song and was recently heard on VH1′s House of Consignment)***

Jonathan Hacohen is the Founder & Lead Baseball Columnist for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

Please e-mail us at: mlbreports@me.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Who is the Best Center Fielder in Baseball?

Thursday April 26, 2012

Bryan Sheehan: Have you ever sat and pondered as to who is the best Center Fielder in the game of baseball today? With so many good options, it is rather hard to make the choice. To make the assessment, you have to look at all the “tools” and come up with the best all-around Center Fielder in the game. Keeping that in mind, here are my top-5 selections- starting with #5:

5. Shane Victorino

The Flyin’ Hawaiian is the epitome of all-around solid player. Not the greatest in any aspect, he has a jack-of-all-trades look that is made extraordinary by his hustle. Though he won’t steal gratuitous amounts of bases, his speed on the basepaths is seen in his league leading 16 triples last year. His three straight Gold Gloves from 2008-2010 are also really impressive, and considering his perfect fielding percentage in 2011, he could have easily won four straight. 

4. Michael Bourn 

Bourn is the prototypical fast center fielder. He’s led the league in stolen bases for the past three years, nabbing 61 in his 2011 campaign between the Astros and the Braves. Like Juan Pierre in his prime, Bourn is extremely fast, and can make good contact with the ball. Though it’s not all-star worthy, his .294 batting average last season was 27 points higher than the league average for leadoff hitters. His speed also translates on defense, giving him great range to run down balls in the gap. 

Read the rest of this entry

PNC Park Book Excerpt from ‘The Fastest 30 Ballgames’ Novel

Wednesday April.25/2012

Original Print of the book was June 2011
Book Excerpt writeup By Chuck Booth

“This was the first of two visits to PNC Park during streak chases of 2008.  This date was on July.7/2008.  The events that happened right after this game caused me to restart the Guinness Streak on July.08/2008.  A little diversion from a closure in the Lincoln Tunnel heading towards LGA cost me a flight from New York to Dallas.  Hmmm..  I have not had a lot of luck in flying to Dallas have I?”

Game #7 Day #6

PNC Park

Pittsburgh PA

July.07/2008

It was not my first time to see the Pirates play at ‘PNC’, the previous year I watched a doubleheader featuring Barry Bonds last games to be played in Pittsburgh—for awhile I was thought he might pass Hank Aaron for the all time Homer list for the games I was attending. Barry had surpassed Aaron a week earlier but I was still glad to see him in the starting lineup.  Now I was back less than a year later. 

I was ready to rebound from the day before.  I drove 340 miles from my brother’s house in New Jersey—to arrive in Pittsburgh with lots of time to spare. 

I parked in a business building across the “Roberto Clemente Bridge.”  PNC Park is very convenient for parking, as they close off most of the bridges directly nearest to the ballpark.  The park looks immaculate from the bridges and especially in reverse from the park where you can see the bridges. 

Pittsburgh is a blue collar town but it a beautiful city downtown.  The crowd was not bustling that night.  There were 13,223 fans for the game and half that many were there when I arrived.

There may not be a better new ballpark when it comes to respecting the history of their team.  There are statutes for just about any significant member ever associated with Pirates.  There is a great amount of history of the World Series Runs of 1971 and 1979.  The area my ticket was in was the left field bleachers section for a $9 price.  Quite simply it is the best value in the majors considering it is general seating.  You are right on top of the left fielder. 

I made it over to “Greentree Pizza”—located just behind the huge scoreboard.  I was staving so I ordered the large fourteen inch Pepperoni Pizza.  It is made on a light thin crust and is one of the best singular foods in the majors.

Around the park, people were texting each other on their cell phones as the Pittsburgh Pirates display between every inning on their scoreboards.  This is a fun thing to do—and very fan interactive. 

They have two mascots that are running around the empty park.  ‘The Pirate,’ (who will steal your food if you are not looking and/or opposing team ball caps that fans wear) and ‘The Parrot,’ (who is a lot more kid friendly and usually can be found occupying seats in the empty lower bowl.).  I was pleasantly surprised that the ushers were so nice to me when I told them about my record streak.  The lady talked to me for thirty minutes about the ballpark and even asked if I had time for a tour while in the city, she said she could call her boss if I wished.  I politely declined as I had a long drive back to New York City.  It was then I realized I actually needed a quick game.

It was one of the plane fares bought before the trip started and impossible to change because it was too costly.  I would have about six hours to drive back to New York for a five and a half hour drive.  There was not much wiggle room.

One of the coolest things about the PNC Park-is the size of left field center scoreboard.  They play a four minute introduction at the start of the game that shows years of Pirate highlights and it always pumps me up.  Then there is a segment where a cartoon pirate is away at sea with his crew and they come across the opposite team boat. A 3 minute battle ensues with the Pirates crew eventually taking ownership of the other boat.  The pirate laughs and then it is game time. 

 The scenery is beautiful with the backdrop. The big green fence in right-center field has ‘Pirates’ perfectly hedged in shrubs.  The only thing that is kind of weird is you can’t walk in the general area entirely across the outfield sectors.  The seat’s in right field are in the 3rd level and is quite a shot from home plate to hit a  home run.  It is even a better sight at night with the bright lights of all the bridges illuminating the park.  If only the franchise was in better shape.

The food courts are impressive for the limited amount of people attending.  They are quick with the vendors—and have some of the longest serving staff of any in the majors. 

In the left field bleachers there is a sit in restaurant that features live performances out on the patio deck including ‘mariachi band’s’ and groups that sing ‘a cappella.’  There is not much going on downtown directly around the park inside of the bridges that does not pertain to the ball game. 

That night began sunny but soon clouds over giving me the worry of a rain out.  The Houston Astros ran out to a 3-0 lead on a towering homer by Carlos Lee.  The Pirates responded with a 4 run bottom of first. The inning took about forty-minutes and I was in time trouble again.

Fast forward to the 4th inning and it was 10-7 Pittsburgh—and we were already nearing 9:15 PM.  I was sweating the game big time.  If I left about 10:30 PM—I would be in massive trouble.  I had done the drive from Pittsburgh to New York a few times before so I had some confidence to make good time. 

It is a scheduling nightmare the certain Monday and Thursday baseball games on the condensed nights of the MLB when you are chasing this record. 

There were not too many other nights I could see the Pirates playing.  Again I was thinking about the July.9th restart option.

I was happy to see a quick 5th and 6th inning.  The only thing that made me happier then that—was the game went the last 5 innings—only with one hit, and no runs after 17 runs in the 1st four innings. The last 5 innings only elapsed 40 more minutes in time. 

 I thanked the ushers for signing my logbook and ran out of the southwest corner near the ‘Clemente Bridge.’  I was happy at this moment it was Pittsburgh—as the crowd was smaller to navigate back to the highway.  I had 7 hours in order to make it there for an hour before my flight.

I had prepaid the parking fare in the business garage, and was horrified to see the PT Cruiser I had rented the previous week in New York had now been keyed by someone.  I was relieved that I had added the extra insurance to the car rental-which I usually forego however, because of the New York City garage experience the last time I had been to New York—I took the insurance. 

This was still a concern.  The car rental place would certainly want to discuss this.  Just like some other rentals the scratches were not too visible and for a minute I thought they had been there the whole time.  The scratches were on the passenger side so I had not seen that area much in the week.  I pressed on.

I was revving on adrenaline as the time and miles wore away.  I stopped at the edge of NJ State to stop for gas.  All I had to do was go through the Lincoln Tunnel merge onto the ‘FDR’—in order to merge onto the 495-S Long Island Expressway.  It was just after 4:40 AM-when I was headed for the tunnel.

“You have got be friggin kiddin me!!!! I yelled as I approached the tunnel which was closed for construction.  I was at a loss for what was next.  I knew the FDR would take me to the bridge I needed to take over.  I then remembered the “Holland Tunnel” would work.  I starting making way in that direction as panic set in.  It was only starting to become daylight.  At 5:00 AM-I made it to ‘Times Sqaure.’ I then finally made it to the FDR before merging onto the 495—and was on the Brooklyn-Queens-Expressway within reason. 

Then the fun began.  LGA is an airport dropped into a rural neighborhood.  I made it to the airport okay—the problem was the car rental place was up the street.  I arrived into ‘Thrifty Car Rental’ at 5:25 AM-with the flight leaving at six sharp I had a chance at that point. 

I was on the shuttle bus awaiting the driver to leave for the airport which would have taken about 5 minutes—maybe another 10 minutes for early morning security and then I would have 10 minutes to run to the gate.  The shuttle was away.

 “Yes, I am going to make it,” I pronounced—it would be the closest miss yet.  The shuttle driver had informed me that there was not much of a lineup for people traveling without checked baggage.  The sun popped out and all of a sudden I loved New York City.  Despite a small detour, I had overcome it by feeling out my way through it like I did as a courier back home.

A knock on the loading window stopped the shuttle bus smooth–and a grey haired, tall lanky old man with glasses came on the bus and pointed in my direction.  “There is damage to your Cruiser. We need you to fill out an accident report.”

“Sir, I have full insurance and have a plane to catch, there is no time.  I will be back this way next week watching a baseball game at Shea Stadium can I fill it out then?”

“Son, I could get in serious trouble for that.  If you hurry there is another shuttle leaving in 5 minutes.”

I knew if I left the shuttle I would miss my flight.  The only saving grace was that ‘Air Tran Airways’ are nice enough to their travelers—by letting them fly stand by on remaining flights to their original destination should they miss their flight.  It was a stand-by option good for one day only.  I knew there were two more flights to Dallas that day—both had a lengthy stop over in Atlanta.  The first flight arrived in Dallas at 3:30 PM.  I had designated that flight the first time I was going to book the flight.  I then mistakenly thought the drive from Pittsburgh was only 5.5 hours-like it was from my brother’s house to PNC Park.  I had the two confused in my final booking of the flight! 

I opted for the earlier flight because I would arrive in Dallas at 11:00 AM-and could check into the Motel 6 right away to catch up sleep.

 I filled out the accident report and made the next shuttle to LGA. Like I was a possessed addict chasing an addiction I ran to the ticket window at ‘Air Tran’.  It was 5:45 AM.  The system had already shut me out of the flight.  I ran to the window were a mid-40’s gentleman was typing a keyboard and looking at me running at the same time.

“Flight to DFW right?” he questioned, he knew the answer.

“Yeah, I thought that you could print out the tickets up to 10 minutes before?” I answered, somehow gaining a glimmer of hope that he could radio ahead, stop the plane until I got there.  I heard stories growing up of this happening.

“Actually you need to be in the boarding area 10 minutes prior to gates closing-we cut off the boarding passes 20 minutes before sorry.”

“Ah, man.”  I was pissed, I half-wanted to race back to the car rental facility and drag the manager out into the street and beat him to a pulp.  “How does the next flight look to Dallas?”

 “Lemme check that for you.”  The man typed quickly as he could, a man who was late for the same flight I was—came in line to be helped next.  “The flight is oversold and there are 7 people on the waiting list ahead of you.”

If there is one thing I know is waiting for stand-by on flights.  My step-mom had worked in the airline industry for 25 years.  I was able to fly whenever I wanted, wherever I wanted provided there were available seats.  7 seats was a lot for a 9:00 AM Flight.  It would have been different if it was the flight I had just missed.  I had to try it.  New York traffic had swallowed me up that morning, maybe it would swallow up others.  “Print me the pass, I will try.”

“You never know sir you might also get a family that does not want to fly separately. You are a single traveler so you have a better chance than others.”

I grabbed my new boarding pass and headed trough security, and pressed onward to the gate.  There was not much open for breakfast so I was happy to have polished off that huge pizza in Pittsburgh the night before.  I needed to call the airlines to see if I could arrange other travel arrangements to Dallas. 

I searched for the internet at ‘LGA’ which was non-existent at that time.  I called every airline up.  It was going to be $600 or $700.  Day of flight’s prices sky rocket on same day sales.  My plan was simple now.  I would see if I made the next flight before another decision was to be made.  I called Visa in the meantime and I was appalled to see that I had little credit left with all of the pre-authorizations against the car and hotel rentals.  I was awaiting a payment to go through as well.  I had $450 left.   I was stuck.  Not only was I in danger of missing my game in Texas—but my streak reset needed to start over in San Diego the next day.

It was a lost cause at ‘LGA’ and I left the airport at 10:00 AM-by boarding what I thought was a charter bus in between ‘LGA’ and “JFK.” I wanted to be at JFK incase I was stranded-since there were more amenities and late night domestic flights.  At 10:30 AM-the charter bus let me off downtown in Manhattan.

 “Wait a second I purchased a bus-ride all the way to JFK.”  I said to a heavy set German fellow.

“You boarded the wrong bus.”  The man replied.

“No I didn’t.” I was right–the man had forgotten to switch the template on the bus signage based on what I had seen back at ‘LGA’- he had deceived me. 

“I paid for a ticket to JFK, and that is what your sign said.  I know you are going to try to stiff me,” I was being rude back to the rude New York people now, “so why don’t you tell me how I get to JFK, it has been a brutal morning.”

The man radioed a bus a block away, “hold the bus for a minute, I need to drop a passenger for you to take to JFK, I made a mistake, no charges either.”  The man actually smiled and nodded at me.  I was relieved but knew that New Yorkers were good at nearly breaking you and then surprising you with doing the right thing.

I made it to JFK at noon in the hot heat, it was approaching 90F.  I was still not ahead of the game.  Like LGA-JFK did not have internet accessible terminals anywhere.  I was running out of options.  I called my buddy Dan Dion.

Dan Dion and his brother Justin had given me the time off delivering newspapers for the trip.  I had known them both for eight years.  Justin was doing one of my routes for me while I was away.  I had to forfeit the second route because of the timing, but was promised a different route when I returned in August. 

 Dan was in Langley, British Colombia, and was in front of his computer.

“Dude, It’s me, missed my flight to Dallas because of an idiot car rental worker and a bridge closed for construction, I need your help, are you online?”

 “Ya, I am online right how. Where are you?”

 “I am on the Air-Tram at JFK circling the gates and don’t know where to go because I don’t have a plane ticket yet, I need you to go to the site www.kayak.com.”

 “10-4 man.”

 “Man, I am glad you are home.  Okay click on the flights icon and then enter JFK letter into the: ‘from part’-and ‘SAN’ letters in the: ‘to’ part, and don’t forget to make this a one-way flight.”

“How is it in the big crapple?” Dan was laughing and typing at the same time.

“Dude, this is a brutal city sometimes, good thing I always had the reset option, knew I was probably going to need it after that Philly/New York doubleheader miss anyway.”  Some girl left here tote-bag on the seat next to me and I was going to hand it in. 

Some old man freaked out on me saying I was stealing it.  All this was happening while awaiting results.

“Cheapest flight is $545.”

“Not good, okay try LAX from JFK, I need to return there tomorrow night anyway so it will work for a car rental.”  The man scoffed a look of disgust at me again.  If I was not on a good will ambassador tour I would have sworn at him for his ignorance.

A few seconds elapsed, “Dude, I got an American Airlines flight leaving at eight your time arriving at just after eleven in LA-price is $160.”

“That is awesome, book that dude, click on it for me and I will give my credit card number to buy it-and then you can give me the confirmation code, then I will need to hit Budget Car Rental’s site next.”

Dan helped me for the next fifteen minutes and I was now going somewhere again.  I had several hours before the flight to kill.  I was fortunate enough to have the reset option.  The new attempt was still 30-26 days.  I had a grueling stretch of 4 doubleheader attempts in 5 days: SD Padres-Los Angeles Dodgers, followed by a Detroit Tigers-Cleveland Indians attempt; followed by Chicago Cubs/Milwaukee Brewers; then Toronto isolated by itself before a Washington Nationals/New York Mets attempt to hit the all-star break. 

If all were hit all games I would be at 9 games in 5 days, even with the 3 day penalty for the all-star break I would have a chance on the other side of it.  I arrived in LAX without a hitch.

I had just enough credit on my visa to rent the car and I had $150 cash.  I knew there was lots of deposit money coming off by the next night at midnight eastern time.  I had to make it the next 24 hours with the money I had.  There was $30 for parking/probably $20 for gas and $100 left for food and shelter.  I drove to San Diego right away.  I tried the Motel 6-but no there was no vacancy.  I wish I would have known about the hostel downtown then.  I decided to keep all my money.  I had an idea to shower at a ‘YMCA’ in the morning.  Besides I had to spend money on batteries for the digital camera-plus I needed some health and beauty aids. 

 I ate 7-Eleven food for dinner and drove around San Diego for a few hours before resting at a ‘Rite-Aid.’  I slept for a few hours and finally it was open. A homeless man was outside and needed some money bad to eat.   I only had $60 left after the drugstore but decided to give him $5. He was so thankful.  I talked to him about my day in New York City. He informed me that my day was about to change for the better.  After I drove away somehow I finally believed it.

Great American Ball Park Book Excerpt from the Fastest 30 Ballgames Novel

US Cellular Field Book Excerpt from “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” Novel

 ***Thank you to our Lead Baseball Writer- Chuck Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports.  To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Chuck Booth, you can follow Chuck on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and you can also follow Chuck’s website for his Guinness Book of World Record Bid to see all 30 MLB Park in 23 days click here  or on the 30 MLB Parks in 23 days GWR tracker at the Reports click here. To Purchase or read about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book, ” please click here ***

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Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick – Interview with Author Paul Dickson

Tuesday April 24, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen: Today is a big day in the world of baseball, as we are proud to announce the release of the Paul Dickson Biography, “Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick.” Probably the most important person to influence the game of baseball as we know it today, Bill Veeck was a baseball pioneer. From night games, interleague play, racial integration and so much more, Bill Veeck is responsible for many of the key changes to the game that we take for granted. I was very excited to hear that Paul Dickson had written this book, as all baseball fans that truly love the game must get to know Bill Veeck. With so much information to cover on such an important baseball figure- Paul Dickson was certainly up for the role as biographer. 

As the book is launched today in stores, I had a chance to catch up with the author and cover many topics. From the life and times of Bill Veeck, to the process in creating the book and the road ahead for Paul Dickson. You are in for a treat today folks, as you will get to know about the book directly from the author himself. In talking to Paul, I was blown away by the dedication and commitment he showed in putting together The Greatest Maverick. From the number of people he interviewed and the amount of research he undertook, Paul went to great lengths in putting together the book. Now as Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick hits the bookshelves, you will find out why the book will be an important addition to your baseball library.

 

Featured on MLB reports, I proudly present my interview with baseball author, Paul Dickson and his newest baseball book – Bill Veeck – Baseball’s Greatest Maverick:


JH:  Thank you for joining us today on MLB reports Paul. Your new book “Bill Veeck- Baseball’s Greatest Maverick” is about to be launched. You must be very excited!

PD:  Very excited, Indeed. The book releases on Tuesday April 24, 2012. My publisher is Walker & Co. The year is important because it is the 50th anniversary of Veeck’s own biography Veeck: As In Wreck, a groundbreaking book which still commands an immense readership. But that book was Bill’s own story—a true autobiography—mine a true biography.

For example, Veeck’s book has a paragraph on his experiences in a war zone in the South Pacific during World War II. It is a full chapter in my book. This is the situation where Veeck was wounded and this is where he became part of a cohort of men who saw combat and came to baseball. Few know that Yogi Berra was in the second day of the D-Day invasion or that  Monte Irvin went in on the 6th day. I interviewed a lot of war vets for the book including Irvin but also the late Bob Feller, Ralph Kiner, Jerry Coleman, and Lou Brissie who lost part of his leg in combat but came back to pitch for Connie Mack. Read the rest of this entry

TJ Surgery Tracker: The Newest MLB reports Addition

Tuesday April 24th, 2012

Ryan Ritchey:  New on mlbreports.com is a Tommy John Surgery link. http://mlbreports.com/tj-surgery/  This page is going to keep you updated with all the players that have undergone Tommy John Surgery this year and in past years. Many of you know the players that have had the surgery- but for those of you who don’t, this page is for you. Even if you do know who the players are that have had the surgery, maybe you missed one along the way. Either way you should check out the page to keep track of all the good young arms going down to this terrible surgery.

Some of the most recent players to go down to Tommy John are, Ryan Madson, Joakim Soria, and Brian Wilson. Ryan Madson went down in Spring Training with a sore elbow and ended up needing Tommy John. On the other hand Wilson went down with major structural damage in his throwing elbow. He got three opinions to make sure and will indeed be having Tommy John Surgery with Dr. James Andrews.

Tommy John has had a major effect on many teams this season. With the three names that I just mentioned, they are all starting closers with major league teams. With Madson going down, Sean Marshall has had to take over the closing role. The Royals have went to closer by committee after the Soria injury. With Wilson  out, the Giants are not sure right now what they are going to do. Their likely best chance is with Sergio Romo though.

If you know a player that has gotten the surgery and we don’t have them on the list, email us (mlbreports@me.com) and we will add him to the list.  We will be keeping a running total of the surgeries for you, the readers. It is one thing when you see one or two players go down. But with the amount of players that have already undergone the surgery this year, the number looks alarming when you see it in a full list. We thank you for your support of MLB reports and we will continue to bring you everything and anything that relates to the world of baseball. With the effect of Tommy John surgery on the game, we thought it was to dedicate a complete page to the procedure. But there is more. Much more. From the World Baseball Classic, to Interviews, Guest MLB Blogs, Baseball Book Reviews and all other features, the staff at MLB reports covers all the bases!


Ryan Ritchey is a MLB reports Baseball Intern. I am a high school senior, play second base and plan on studying sports journalism in college. I am a huge fan of Barry Larkin and Brandon Phillips. Have been a baseball fan my whole life and have been writing about baseball since freshman year. You can reach me on Twitter (@Ryan13Ritchey)

Please e-mail us at: mlbreports@me.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.  To subscribe to our website and have the Daily Reports sent directly to your inbox, click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Will Tim Lincecum Turn it Around in 2012?

Tuesday April 24th, 2012

Rob Bland:  Since he burst onto the scene as a 23-year-old rookie in 2007, Tim Lincecum has ranked 6th in fWAR.  Boasting a fastball that sat around 94 mph, and plus changeup, curveball and slider, Lincecum won back to back National League Cy Young Awards in 2008 and 2009 with the San Francisco Giants.  In his first four full seasons, Lincecum threw 881 2/3 innings.  Listed on baseball-reference.com at a generous 5’11” and 175 lbs, Lincecum’s delivery is a little bit on the herky-jerky side.  How he has been able to withstand such punishment is a bit of a mystery, as his wiry body hurls towards the plate in a violent action that result in a 94 mph fastball.

2012 has not been kind to Lincecum so far.  Now, I am not one to worry about small sample sizes, as baseball is a sport of random fluctuation in statistics.  Albert Pujols does not have a home run as I write this, more than 15 games into the season.  Chase Headley is currently 2nd in fWAR in all of baseball.  The LA Dodgers are already 8 games ahead of the San Diego Padres.  The Kansas City Royals are in an 11 game losing streak.  The season can change on a dime, and we are only 10% of the way through this season.  Lincecum’s story, to me, is a bit of a different story.  His fastball is averaging below 91 mph.  His sinker has less arm side tail; 5 inches in 2012 compared to over 7 inches in 2009.  Tim’s curveball and slider don’t have as much depth as they once did, also.  A good changeup usually has about 8-10 mph difference off of the fastball, which is where he was in 2009, 93 mph to 84 mph.  In 2012, his changeup is still 84 mph, but the biggest problem for Lincecum has been that he has lost velocity off his fastball.  He is sitting under 91 mph, so that changeup is not nearly as effective. Read the rest of this entry

TJ Surgery Tracker Updater

April.14/2012

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DR. FRANK JOBE, who will turn 87 in the summer of 2012, is a renowned orthopedic surgeon who revolutionized the medical care and prolonged the careers of baseball pitchers with his groundbreaking tendon transplant procedure now known as the “Tommy John” surgery.  In 1974, Dodgers pitcher TOMMY JOHN was diagnosed with a torn ligament in his left (pitching) elbow, apparently ending his career.  In an experimental surgery, which he estimated at the time as having 1% odds for a successful outcome, Jobe transplanted a tendon from John’s right forearm to his left elbow.  After more than a year of rehabilitation, John and his bionic arm returned to the mound, where he pitched for 14 more seasons and racked up 164 of his 288 career victories before retiring at the age of 46.  Today, the procedure is commonplace among professional and amateur pitchers.  It has been estimated that Jobe performed more than 1,000 Tommy John surgeries himself and that nearly 200 major leaguers – not all of them pitchers – have had their careers extended by the procedure.

In a recent interview with Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News, Jobe discussed how he and John decided to proceed with the surgery, thus establishing a relationship of trust between doctor and patient: “Tommy happened to be in my office talking, and we already had told him about all the potential complications.  I was ready to sign his papers for retirement.  I wasn’t even sure I should have brought [the operation idea] up in our conversation.  I had no idea if it would be successful.  I really wasn’t sure.  We got to a point where we kind of looked at each other and he said, ‘That makes sense, let’s do it.’  I think those were the three words that changed the course of baseball medicine for the rest of time.  ‘Let’s do it.’”

After a long and grueling rehabilitation, John returned to the mound with the Dodgers in 1976, completing 207 innings, recording 10 wins with a 3.09 ERA, and receiving both the National League Comeback Player of the Year Award and the Fred Hutchinson Award for Outstanding Character and Courage.  That he was a better pitcher after the experimental surgery was fully evident by 1977, as John won 20 games with a 2.78 ERA, earning him a second-place finish to Steve Carlton in Cy Young Award balloting.  Reliquarian Michael Fallon, in his biographical profile of Tommy John for the Society for American Baseball Research, noted that the pitcher revolutionized “athlete’s attitudes toward medicine.  With 164 of his 288 victories coming after the surgery, John shattered the barrier that said players could not play after undergoing surgery.”  Fallon added that, despite having the most wins of any eligible pitcher not inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, John’s “pioneering gumption, his ability to endure and come back from adversity does put him among baseball’s all-time elite.”

The two figures made medical history nearly 40 years ago.

For all the talk of baseball players (pitchers mostly) that will be undergoing Tommy John Surgery, we will be keeping a running list!  E-mail us at mlbreports@me.com if you have any names to add to our totals. How many players are having TJ? You are about to find out:

TOMMY JOHN SURGERY – 2012

Manny Banuelos – Yankees:  October 3, 2012

Randy Wolf – Orioles:  TJ Watch (September 26, 2012)

Chad Billingsley – Dodgers:  TJ Watch (September 8, 2012)

Juan Carlos Oviedo (AKA Leo Nunez) – Marlins:  September 6, 2012

Lucas Giolito – Nationals:  August 31st, 2012

Josh Tomlin – Indians:  August 22nd, 2012

Carl Crawford – Red Sox:  August 23rd, 2012

MLB Tommy John Surgery Updates:  Feature Article by Bernie Olshansky (August 16, 2012)

Drew Hutchison – Blue Jays:  August 7, 2012

Scott Atchison – Red Sox:  TJ Watch (August 2, 2012)

Neftali Feliz – Rangers:  August 1, 2012

Eric Surkamp – Giants:  July 25, 2012

Colby Lewis – Rangers:  July 23, 2012

Joe Wieland – Padres:  July 17, 2012

Luis Perez – Blue Jays:  July 17, 2012

Todd Coffey – July 4, 2012 (2nd TJ surgery)

Daniel Hudson – Diamondbacks: July 1, 2012

Felipe Paulino – Royals:  June 22, 2012

Brandon Beachy – Braves:  June 21, 2012

Kyle Drabek – Blue Jays:  June 19, 2012 (2nd- 2007)

David Herndon – Phillies:  June 19, 2012

Charlie Morton – Pirates:  June 14, 2012

Ryan Beckman – Pirates:  June 12, 2002

Andrew Carignan – Athletics:  June 7, 2012

Juan Pablo Oramas – Padres:  June 3, 2012

Jose Contreras – Phillies:  June 3, 2012 (announcement expected soon)

Cory Luebke – Padres:  May 21, 2012

Blake Wood – Royals:  May 19, 2012

A.J. Jimenez – Jays:  May 19, 2012

Danny Duffy – Royals:  May 14, 2012

Tsuyoshi Wada- Orioles:  May 2, 2012

Mike Pelfrey- Mets: May 1, 2012

Joe Beimel-Free Agent:  May 2012

George Sherrill – Mariners:  April 29, 2012

Michael Pineda- Yankees: April 26, 2012 (honorable mention: torn labrum, arthroscopic surgery)

Jeremy Bonderman- FA:  April 24, 2012

Brian Wilson- Giants:  April 20, 2012 (2nd surgery- 1st in 2003)

Danny Herrera- Mets:  April 2012

Scott Baker- Twins:  April 17, 2012

Michael Kohn- Angels:

Joey Devine- Athletics: April 11, 2012 (2nd surgery- 1st April 21, 2009)

Ryan Madson- Reds:  April 11, 2012

Joakim Soria- Royals: April 2012 (2nd surgery)

Jose Ceda- Marlins: April 3, 2012

Sergio Escalona- Astros:  March 24, 2012

Arodys Vizcaino- Braves: March 2012

Joel Zumaya- Twins: March 2012 (2nd surgery)

Dr. James Andrews – leading Tommy John surgeon

To learn more about Tommy John surgery and the process behind it, please check out our Guest MLB Blog by Blue Jays prospect, Johnny Anderson: http://mlbreports.com/2012/04/14/tj-surgery/

TOMMY JOHN SURGERY – 2011 AND OLDER

John Lackey- Red Sox:  November 1, 2011

Kyle Gibson- Twins:  September 7, 2011

Carlos Carrasco- Indians: September 6, 2011

Juan Gutierrez- Royals:  September 2011

Zack Cozart (SS)- Reds:  August 12, 2011

Brad Hawpe (1B/OF)- Rangers:  August 5, 2011

Rubby De La Rosa- Dodgers:  August 2011

David Aardsma- Yankees:  July 22, 2011

Brett Anderson- A’s:   July 14, 2011

Johnny Anderson- Jays:  July 12, 2011 (2nd surgery- 1st in 2010)

Jose Casilla- Giants:  July 2011

Carlos Monasterios- Dodgers:  July 2011

Joba Chamberlain- Yankees:  June 10, 2011

Rich Hill- Red Sox:  June 9, 2011

Daisuke Matsuzaka- Red Sox:  June 2, 2011

Mason Tobin- Rangers:  June 1, 2011 (2nd surgery- 1st 2010)

John Lamb- Royals:  June 2011

Drew Naylor- Phillies:  June 2011

Jorge De La Rosa- Rockies:  May 25, 2011

Cam Bedrosian- Angels:  May 2011

Jenrry Mejia- Mets:  May 2011

Stephen Marek- Jays:  May 2011

Boof Bonser- Giants:  April 2011

Matt Gorgen- Diamondbacks:  March 2011

Adam Wainwright- Cardinals:  February 28, 2011

Jamie Moyer- Phillies:  December 1, 2010

Stephen Strasburg- Nationals: September 2010

John Baker – Marlins:  September 2010

Hector Ambriz- Indians:  September 30, 2010

Manny Corpas- Rockies:  September 7, 2010

Erick Threets- A’s:  September 2010

Michael Ynoa – A’s:  August 24, 2010

Kris Medlen- Braves:  August 18, 2010

Ben Sheets- A’s:  August 9, 2010

Kyle Blanks- Padres:  July 28, 2010

Donald Veal – Pirates:  May 2010

Jose Arredondo – Angels:  December 11, 2009

Jordan Zimmermann- Nationals: August 2009

Edinson Volquez- Reds: 2009

Jason Isringhausen- Rays:  June 13, 2009

Bill Bray – Reds:  April 2009

Dallas Trahern – Marlins:  2009

Erik Bedard – Mariners:  2009

Andrew Sisco – Athletics:  2009

Jaime Garcia- Cardinals:  September 8, 2008

Tim Hudson- Braves:  August 8, 2008

Jake Westbrook – Indians:  June 7, 2008

Mark Prior- Cubs:  2008

Billy Wagner:  2008

Shaun Marcum – Blue Jays:  2008

Chris Capuano:  Brewers: 2008 and (Dbacks: May 17, 2002)- 2 surgeries

Josh Johnson- Marlins: 2007

Ambiorix Burgos – Mets:  August 28, 2007

Matt Bush- Padres:  August 26, 2007

Andrew Brackman – Yankees:  August 2007

Chris Carpenter- Cardinals:  July 24, 2007

Brad Lincoln:  April 2007

B.J. Ryan – Blue Jays:  2007 (2nd surgery)

Francisco Liriano- Twins:  November 2006

Kelly Johnson – Braves:  June 1, 2006

Grant Balfour- Twins:  May 13, 2005

Joe Mays – Twins:  2005

Eric Gagne- Dodgers:  2005 (2nd surgery- 1st in 1997)

Octavio Dotel:  2005

Anthony Vavaro:  2005

Bong Jung-Keun

Nick Adenhart

Tyler Chatwood

Scott Lewis

Brian Duensing:  2004

John Axford:  December 2003

C.J. Wilson – Rangers:  August 12, 2003

Rick Ankiel – Cardinals:  July 2003

A.J. Burnett- Marlins:  April 29, 2003

Hong-Chih Kuo – Dodgers:  2003 (2nd surgery- 1st in 2003)

Ryan Dempster:  2003

Zach Braddock:  2003

Jeff Manship:  2003

Jason Grilli:  2002

Ben Kozlowski – Reds:  2003

Ryan Vogelsong – Pirates:  2001

Jason Frasor:  2001 (2nd Tommy John)

Pat Hentgen:  2001

John Smoltz- Braves:  2000

Kerry Wood- Cubs:  March 1999

Scott Schoeneweis:  1994

Jose Canseco – Rangers:  July 9, 1993

John Farrell – Cleveland:  1991

NatE. Robertson

Tommy John- Dodgers:  September 25, 1974 (Dr. Frank Jobe performed first operation)


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An Interview with Tropicana Field Expert Kurt Smith

Tuesday April 24, 2012

Chuck Booth- (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- Today’s expert is Kurt Smith.  Kurt will be the interview subject of the following parks: Citizens Bank Ball Park, Turner Field and today’s featured expert Article of Tropicana Field  Kurt is highly respected in the ball park chaser community for his BallparkEGuides.  After you are done reading this article  I implore you trust in Kurt to deliver up tips and suggestive idea’s on how to make your stadium visits affordable and pleasurable.  I had a chance to ask some questions of the man recently.

CB: “Welcome to the MLB Reports Experts Interview Kurt.  Please tell us about yourself and then give us a bit of background information on your life as a Rays Fan?”

KS: “Well I’m not a Rays fan per se, but wouldn’t they be a fun team to root for? They consistently come out on top or near the top in a division that includes behemoth spenders like the Yankees and Red Sox; and last year’s finale was one of the most exciting regular season games in history.  It’s too bad this team has so much trouble getting people to come out and see them, because they really are an exciting team to watch. And I love the cowbells. It’s great to hear the ringing in a dome when an opposing batter has two strikes on him.”

CB: “As one of the ballpark experts who takes it to the extreme, how do you rank Tropicana Field versus the rest of the Ballparks?”

KS: “Tropicana Field isn’t a great venue; of all the ballparks I’ve visited I’d put it at or near the bottom. I don’t like indoor baseball, and I really dislike artificial turf, probably like most fans. The Trop is the only non-retractable dome left in baseball now that the Metrodome is gone, so you’re inside regardless. It may be okay to have the air conditioning and protection from thunderstorms in July or August, but who wants to go indoors to see baseball on a beautiful April Florida day? The timing of Tropicana Field’s construction couldn’t have been worse. A dome seemed like a great idea at the time, but just a couple of years after it opened Camden Yards debuted and completely turned ballpark construction upside down. Suddenly indoor baseball on artificial turf couldn’t be less cool.

If the Tampa Bay area’s government had listened when baseball told them not to build a stadium, they would probably have a retractable dome today.But the Rays signed a lease, so for the moment they’re stuck with it. And it’s not all bad. The humidity of Florida summers is nothing to sneeze at, so the air conditioning can be pretty nice. And at least you know you’re going to see a game whatever Mother Nature says, which is of great benefit to a road tripper.”

CB: “Despite the Rays being one of the best franchises over the last 5 years, the team still does not draw well. Why do you think that is Kurt?”

KS : “Here are the reasons that I’ve heard, all of which I think have some merit:

1 – Location. The ballpark is in St. Petersburg, and it’s not all that close or easily accessible from Tampa, where much of the fan base is or should be. It’s also in Florida, where there are a lot of New York transplants, so Yankees games draw well but the team has had a hard time establishing its own fan base.

2 – Entertainment Competition. Tampa Bay is not far from beaches or from Orlando, so there isn’t much elbow room for promotional people to convince residents to come to a ballgame rather than go to Universal Studios. The venue doesn’t help; on a beautiful day most people might rather go to a theme park in Orlando or a beach than go indoors for a game.

3 – Venue. I don’t know if I necessarily buy this one; a good team usually draws no matter where they play. But the Trop isn’t on the bucket list of most ballpark trippers, so that doesn’t help matters any. People get enthused about a game at Wrigley Field or Camden Yards, they don’t get enthused about a game at Tropicana Field.

4 – Weather. The indoor venue notwithstanding, perhaps people just don’t want to go somewhere and be outside for at least a short time in a climate where they may be dealing with hurricane-level thunderstorms or oppressive heat.”

CB: “The Rays seem to have a lot of gimmicks to promote a family atmosphere what have you seen Tropicana Field do in order to boost attendance?”

KS: “It is to the Rays’ great credit that they’ve made the Trop more entertaining for families and adults. The Rays tank is an especially popular attraction. You can reach into this tank in right center field and pet the slimy rays that are swimming around in it—all while watching the game go on. The concourse areas of Tropicana Field are like nothing you’ve seen in baseball—comic book style murals of baseball history, picnic areas and tons of interactive games for kids. On my last trip there, the Jumbotron showed a hilarious video of a cat “mixing” on a turntable.There’s also several party areas, like the Everglades BBQ in the batter’s eye in center field, the Center Field Street Brewhouse (with drink specials before games!), and several lounge areas where people can enjoy a “Blue Storm” drink. Baseball buffs should get a kick out of the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame, too. Unfortunately the Rays can’t do fireworks, but they do get some big name acts to play after games.

CB: “What is your favorite method of transportation to and from Tropicana Field?”

KS: “Well if I lived close enough, I’d ride a bicycle, because there’s a lot of nice bicycle paths in the area and a place to lock up your cycle at the ballpark. But as it is, the only way most people get to Tropicana Field is by car, and it’s right off the interstate and easy to find. So I’ll just add that I’d find some people to carpool with, because the Rays offer free parking to the first 100 cars with four or more people in them. Free parking is always a great deal.

There is a new service for Tampa area fans called the “No Excuses Tour”. It takes riders to the game from a couple of local taverns, and I think the price is very reasonable. I believe they serve beer on the bus but the bus doesn’t have a bathroom, so there’s some kinks to be worked out there, but it’s a great idea.”

CB: “Tell me something about the surrounding area of the Ballpark?”

KS: “Well, I haven’t heard any horror stories, but some people say it’s not a great neighborhood. You’re not far from the downtown pier and its attractions, so that’s a possible post-game hangout area. I would say that you’re better off staying east of the ballpark towards the pier, and perhaps it’s not so nice west and south of the ballpark.

The popular pre-and post-game venue is Ferg’s, an indoor-outdoor tavern that is converted from a warehouse. They have game day specials on beer, and I haven’t tried the wings but I’m told they’re very good. If you’re the type that likes a drink or a snack before or after the game, Ferg’s is as good as anything here. They are walking distance from the ballpark and have cheaper parking, too.”

CB: “What advice would you give for somebody experiencing Tropicana Field for the very first time?”

KS: “Don’t pay more than you have to for a seat. If you can live with anything in the upper level you can get tickets there dirt cheap directly from the Rays, and it’s usually not a problem to improve your lie during the game. Wander around and see all of the party areas and make sure you check out that big ballplayer sticking out of the wall. Get yourself a cowbell so you can distract the opposing hitters when they get two strikes on them. If you’re a history buff you’ll want to see the Ted Williams Museum.

And don’t complain about seeing baseball indoors, because it’s a mighty good thing during July and August in St. Petersburg.”

CB: “How is the food at Tropicana Field?  What is your favorite ballpark food there?”

KS: “Tropicana Field has everything from soup to nuts in the food department, like most ballparks these days. The nice thing is that there’s a lot of brand names, for better or worse, at least with Papa John’s, Outback Steakhouse and Checkers you know what you’re getting. They have a deli with great Boar’s Head sandwiches, and they even have a gluten-free stand, great for celiacs like my wife. The hot dogs are from Kayem, the same purveyor of the Fenway Frank in Boston, although the dogs here are different.

When I’m in the Trop I go for a Cuban sandwich at the East-West Delicatessen near the main entrance; the Cuban is not something you find at a lot of ballparks. It’s a hot pressed sandwich of ham, pork, Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, pickles and yellow mustard. I don’t know that it’s the go-to item at the Trop, but it would be my first choice. Gooey cheese is always a winner.”

CB:  “What is your favorite all time game that you have been in attendance for at Tropicana Field?”

KS: “Well unfortunately I wasn’t there for September 28, 2011, when the Rays came back from a 7-0 deficit to defeat the Yankees in 12 innings and take the wild card spot right out from under the Red Sox.

So I’ll just go with my first game there in 2002…the then-Devil Rays pulled off a 5-4 victory over the Orioles, and I was with a group of friends sitting down the right field line making jokes about seeing the relief pitchers from behind.

Despite being indoors on a gorgeous April day, a good time was had by all.”

CB: “Thank you very much Kurt.”

***Thank you to our Tropicana Field Expert- Kurt Smith for participating in today’s article.  to learn more about Kurt Smith and his website click here***

 ***Thank you to our Lead Baseball Writer- Chuck Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports.  To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Chuck Booth, you can follow Chuck on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and you can also follow Chuck’s website for his Guinness Book of World Record Bid to see all 30 MLB Park in 23 days click here  or on the 30 MLB Parks in 23 days GWR tracker at the Reports click here. To Purchase or read about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book, ” please click here ***

Please e-mail us at: mlbreports@me.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.  To subscribe to our website and have the Daily Reports sent directly to your inbox, click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Chuck Booth’s 30 MLB Park Quest: (Games 16-21)

The Streak stands at 23 MLB Parks in 18 calendar days!!

Chuck Booth:  I am the World Record Holder for-Fastest to see all 30 MLB parks in 24 days (2009)!

In 2012, I am going for 30 MLB Parks in 23 days from: April 6th to 28th.

Follow me-@chuckbooth3024 on twitter

Follow my streak all the through to the bitter end.  Schedule is this link:

http://mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker/ or at my official website for all updates!

fastestthirtyballgames3021.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/30in20/

Tuesday April.24/2012

Ken Lee, Chuck Booth and Doug Miller all at Safeco Field for the game #18 in 14 days on April.19/2012. (They would later be featured on TV several times above the King’s Court Seats. ) Chuck also had a special welcome wave from the TV Jumbo Tron and was given a free gift bag from the Seattle front office.

MLB Park # 16 Day # 12

CHC 2 @ MIA 3

April.17/2012

New Marlins Ball Park

‘Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twiter)- It was a great day for a new baseball park.  During this trip, anytime that I have had a single game only for a day, I have felt a little bit more relaxed while watching the action.  I flew into FLL (Fort Lauderdale Airport) really early and caught up on some writing.  I was fully rewarded with my National Car Rental to the tune of a Chrysler 200 that was black in color.  I made my way to my Best Western Hotel near the airport.  Check in time was not till 3 PM, but I was able to coerce the staff to let me take a room early.  I really appreciate the professional way the Best Western staff always helps me in the travels. Read the rest of this entry

Ask the Reports: ATR Answers Your Baseball Questions – April 23rd, 2012

Monday April 23rd, 2012



Jonathan Hacohen:  Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@me.com, message us on Twitter and post on our Facebook Wall!

Let’s get to your top questions of the week:

 

Q:  When do the WBC Qualifiers begin? When does the WBC itself begin?  William

JH:  Starting off with one of our most loyal Twitter followers. A great question Williams, you know we love talking WBC! In fact, we love the World Baseball Classic so much, that we have a dedicated site for it: wbcreports.com. Keep the page bookmarked for all the latest WBC info! To answer your question, the WBC Qualifiers begin September of this year. With the MLB playoffs just about to begin, tensions and debates will begin as playoff-bound teams are unlikely (will not) send their players to the qualifiers. One or two missing players could mean the difference between a WBC berth…or elimination. The tournament itself begins in March 2013. Debates have also raged as to when the World Baseball Classic should be held. Some feel mid-season to replace the All-Star Game. This will NEVER happen, as Major League Baseball depends on the All-Star Game to appease sponsors and is one of the biggest events on the MLB calendar. Some others feel that the WBC should be held after the World Series. This creates issues with players that are tired and worn out from a gruelling MLB schedule…which would likely result in low participation rates. Thus during Spring Training was deemed as the lesser of all the evils as to when to hold the tournament. The start of the tournament has led many to believe that pitchers participating in the tournament run the risk of arm injuries- as they are not prepared and warmed up sufficiently to go all out in March. I wouldn’t necessarily disagree. But it is what it is. Fortunately though we are only several months away from the qualifiers. I for one can’t wait! Read the rest of this entry

Week 3 – MLB 2012 Season: Sell High and Buy Low Candidates in Fantasy Baseball

Monday April 23rd, 2012

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): The name of the game in fantasy baseball is sell high and buy low. This is the best method to improve your team. But it takes careful consideration and analysis to determine who is legit and who is fluking. As we are approximately 16 games through the season, remember that you are playing for a 162 games of stats and thus we are only 10% through the 2012 season. Trust the preseason predictions, and make an upgrade whenever possible. Therefore, in this week’s fantasy focus, I highlight which guys to target and which guys to sell.

 

Sell High:

 

Josh Hamilton is currently playing t-ball (.418/7/17/1). We have seen Hamilton go on stretches like this before, but we know his expected 162 game season still places him outside of the top-ten. Furthermore, we simply cannot expect a full 162 games out of Hamilton. Perhaps he was undervalued heading into this year, and he is playing for a contract, but his hot start has the potential to net you a safer option in one of the buy low candidates listed below.


David Freese I talked about last week, because he will not keep up his current pace (.333/3/15) and has plenty of name recognition after last October. Furthermore, he is prone to prolonged absences due to injury and offers nothing in the stolen base category.  He is certainly an above average fantasy third baseman, but you might as well try to capitalize at his peak value. Read the rest of this entry

An Interview with o.co Coliseum Expert Ken Lee

Monday April.23, 2012

CB: “Welcome to MLB Reports Experts Interview Ken.  Please tell us about yourself and then give a bit of background information on your life as a baseball fan?

KL: “My name is Ken Lee, I am a General Manager for Jackson Hewitt Tax Service and I live in Marysville, WA with my wife Yvonne and our 2 pup pups, Boomer & Tilly.  I am a co-writer of the book titled “The Fastest 30 Ballgames – A Ballpark Chasers World Record Story” that came out last year.  I grew up playing baseball and loving every aspect of the game.  I attended my first MLB game in April of 1977 @ the Kingdome in Seattle (Yankees vs Mariners).  Since then I have attended about 1,000 games or so.  I have seen games at 29 outta 30 current ballparks (the lone exception being the new Marlins Park – which I will pick up on May 14th & 15th) and I have seen 42 different MLB ballparks overall.”

CB: “As one of the ballpark experts who take it to the extreme, how do you rank O.co Coliseum versus the rest of the ballparks?”

KL: “Overall, I would rank it #30 outta 30.  In general, as a ballpark, it’s terrible.  It’s too cavernous and way too much exposed concrete to be a ‘real’ ballpark. Mt. Davis is an eye sore and try to watch a game from all the way out there, you will feel like you are in San Francisco!  O.co is the only ballpark I have been to where I didn’t enjoy a game from the ‘cheap seats’.”

CB: “Despite the A’s being featured in the movie ‘Moneyball’ as one of the best franchises during the early 2000’s, the team did not draw well.  Why do you think that is Ken?”

KL: “I think there are several factors personally.  Be it that the ballpark by itself is not a real drawing point, the prices are generally high for what you get (especially for parking) or the lack of big name talent on the field.  As illustrated in the movie, they were poached of Jason Giambi, Jason Isringhausen and Johnny Damon just as they were really starting to become big names.  When you don’t have big names that draw attention, the only other thing you can can do to get butts in the seats is to find a way to win and that’s what they did in 2002 rolling off 20 straight.  Since 2002 their W’s have dropped off, they only won 74 games last year and if you aren’t winning, you cant fill the house especially if you don’t have anyone on the team that people really want to come see.”

CB: “The A’s seem to have a lot of promotional days in the summer, over the last couple years have you been in attendance for any of these? Please explain your latest experiences?”

KL: “I have been to a few the last couple years, be that “Free Hot Dog Day”, $2.00 outfield seats sponsored by the BART or even a night where you can park at the ballpark for *FREE* (a $17 value!).  I can’t say that I have scheduled any of my trips around any of these, but it sure is nice to be able to go to 3 games, get free hot dogs at one, park for free another and have all 3 of your tickets cost you a total of $20!”

CB: “What is your favorite method of transportation to and from O.co Coliseum?”

KL: “Anytime I have been to games in Oakland it has been as part of a bigger trip, so I have always driven in.  Besides paying an outrageous fortune at the ballpark for parking ($17 in 2011), there are plenty of free parking spaces within a very short walk of O.co.  The BART system is another great way to get to games as well from all over the Bay Area.  It drops you off within a short walk over a sky bridge to the ballpark.”

CB: :What advice would you give someone experiencing O.co Coliseum for the very first time?”

KL: “Don’t be expecting much because if you are, you will be very disappointed.  However, with that said, go in with an open mind and experience everything there.  On my trips down I have got to know an usher that hooks me up with great seats every night (no matter if I bought a $2 ticket or not) and the people there, in general, are really cool.  I would warn you that seat poaching is discouraged and most sections, if not all, have posted ushers that do check tickets.  If you are going to try to poach a better seat, walk right by them like you own the place!”

CB: “How is the food at O.co Coliseum?  What is your favorite ballpark food there?”

KL: “The food at O.co is O.K. at best.  Nothing edible really stands out to me, but I do have to say that for free hot dogs on “Free Hot Dog Day”, they were actually not that bad.  Then again, it would have to be a pretty bad hot dog to not have enjoyed it because when you are ballpark chasing, a free meal is always appreciated.  The thing that stands out in my mind when walking around O.co is the stands dedicated to specific breweries, like New Belgium and Widmer Brothers.  At these stands they feature the beers of these breweries only.  I have never seen another ballpark that does that and I thought it was pretty cool.”

CB: “What is your favorite all time game you have been in attendance for at O.co Coliseum?”

KL: “I would have to say it would be my first game there, May 13, 2000.  A’s vs Mariners.  I was with a couple of friends of mine who took me to the game. Was my first time ever seeing the Mariner’s play away from Seattle.  They won 6-4 that afternoon, Tomko got the W, Mesa the S and A-Rod had a 2 runner he hit off A’s starter Kevin Appier.”

*** A big thank you goes out to our Petco Park Expert Ken Lee for participating in the expert article Series. Follow Ken Lee on twitter- (@seeall30) and to read more about Ken’s baseball journey click here ***

 

 ***Thank you to our Lead Baseball Writer- Chuck Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports.  To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Chuck Booth, you can follow Chuck on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and you can also follow Chuck’s website for his Guinness Book of World Record Bid to see all 30 MLB Park in 23 days click here  or on the 30 MLB Parks in 23 days GWR tracker at the Reports click here. To Purchase or read about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book, ” please click here ***

Please e-mail us at: mlbreports@me.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.  To subscribe to our website and have the Daily Reports sent directly to your inbox, click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

 

 

An Interview With Comerica Park Expert and co-founder of Stadium Journey- Paul Swaney

Sunday April 22, 2012

 

Paul Swaney and Son

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024)- I was fortunate to talk with Paul Swaney about Comerica Park recently.  Amongst the ball park chaser community (or any sports community for that matter), Paul Swaney has come to the forefront as one the top stadium reviewers for all of sports in the world.  Paul had a vision of starting a website to chronicle his own sports venue experiences.  He thought of this as soon as his son was born.  Since then, he co-founded the stradiumjourney.com website and they have since gone into publication as a magazine.  Paul has made it his full-time job to provide information on hundreds of sporting venue’s around the globe.  Get to know this man and website because he is going places with his new venture.  I asked Paul Swaney to be part of my featured profiles of ‘The Fastest 30 Ball Games'” and am pleased that he accepted my invitation.

CB: “Welcome to the Comerica Park Expert interview Paul, please about yourself and  then give us a bit of background information on your life as Tigers fan?”

PS: “I grew up in Northern Michigan, and the Tigers were definitely the first team I really loved. I remember watching the Tigers in the 1984 World Series, one of my first sports memories. The following season, my dad, my brother, and I traveled to Tiger Stadium. I remember the excitement I felt as the Tigers clashed with the Red Sox on a sunny September afternoon. The dark blue of the stadium, the green of the field, and the energy of being in a large urban setting for the first time of my life are still vivid memories.” Read the rest of this entry

Jack Morris: It Is Time To Elect This Winner Into The Baseball Hall Of Fame!

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Tuesday, January.08/2013

Jack Morris led the Major Leagues for Wins in the 80's by posting a 162-129 Record (.556). He was a 5 Time ALL-Star and had 6 Top 10 Finishes for AL Cy Young. He also hurled 175 Complete Games.  He won 20 Games 3 separate years, 16+ Wins in 9 Years and 15+ Wins in 12 of his 17 full years and 18 seasons overall.

Jack Morris led the Major Leagues for Wins in the 80’s by posting a 162-119 Record (.577). He was a 5 Time ALL-Star and had 6 Top 10 Finishes for AL Cy Young. He also hurled 175 Complete Games. He won 20 Games 3 separate years, 16+ Wins in 10 Years and 15+ Wins in 12 of his 16 full years – and 18 seasons overall.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer/Website Owner):

The debate for whether or not Jack Morris belongs in the Baseball Hall Of Fame has heated up to an ALL-Time high with the big vote going down tomorrow.   575 members of  BBWAA fraternity will decide whether or not the big man from Minnesota will enter one of the hardest Hall Of Fame’s to enter in pro sports (if not the hardest).  Morris will need a 75% (432 Minimum Votes) of them to write down his name on their ballot for enshrinement into Cooperstown. Last year, Morris received 66.7 % of the writers votes in his 13th year of eligibility.  He will have his name on a 14th ballot this year.  He has been trending up in recent years, so if he can improve with the same amount of 2011-2012 jump of (+13.2%), then he will make it in. If he fails to reach the Hall this year, 2014 would be his last year of eligibility for the BBWAA Vote.  He could still make it via the Veterans Committee after that.

Jack Morris was a winner, a true throwback pitcher who came after hitters with reckless abandon.  He pitched based on what the score was – and had no personal regard for his own personal statistics.  It is this very reason why the debate has hit epic proportions on social media hubs, amongst bloggers, former players, analysts, broadcaster and statisticians.  I intend to prove the case for the guy in a manner that will have some similarities to other pieces you may have read, yet promote a big look into the numbers that I have been bouncing around in my head for months. I even have had a #JackMorrisAwarenessWeek on Twitter and have been having feuds with people on the other side who don’t think he belongs in Cooperstown- while I have been Retweeted by his biggest supporters.  Let the battle lines be drawn!

Read the rest of this entry

An Early Season Look at the Top 10 Home Run Leaders

Sunday April 22nd, 2012

Sam Evans: Most major league teams have played about fifteen regular season games so far. Fifteen games are not enough to tell who is going to have a breakout season, but these games do matter just as much as games in September. Some players have gotten off to hot starts by showing their power as evidence by insane home run totals. Let’s take a look at the MLB home run leaders and see if they will be able to keep it up.

Matt Kemp, Nine Home Runs: Matt Kemp is on a tear through his first fifteen games. He is currently on pace for 97.2 homers if he were to play all 162 games. Last year, Kemp hit thirty-nine homers despite being surrounded by a weak lineup and playing half of his games in the spacious Dodger Stadium. As corny as it sounds, he has told the media that he is motivated by his 2011 NL MVP snub. If that what it takes to get him to play on this level, the Dodgers should pay off writers to not vote for Kemp after this year. In all seriousness, Kemp is going to have another amazing year. As crazy as it might sound, fifty home runs is not out of the question for Kemp in 2012. Read the rest of this entry

An Interview With Miller Park Expert Ben Warhle

Saturday April.22, 2012

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- I found Ben Wahrle’s website over a year ago.  All of his MLB Park write-ups are highly detailed as you can find on the web.  This young man has a strong future ahead of him in this business.  I recently had a chance to interview Ben about Milwaukee, tailgating and other traditions at Miller Park.”

DB: “Welcome to the MLB Reports Miller Park Expert Interview Ben. Please tell us about yourself and then give us some information on your life as a Brewer fan?” 

BW: “I am 19 years old and currently working as a professional pizza chef at a local pizzeria. I have been to 24/30 current MLB ballparks. My goal is to make to every MLB ballpark. On average I go to 28 games at several different ballparks a year. I am die-hard Brewers fan and have been to every home opener the last 6 years.  I always try to make it to at least 4 Brewer road games.” 

DB: “You have been to many of the MLB teams parks Ben, what is your favorite park outside of Miller Park?”

BW: “Fenway Park- The atmosphere and the surrounding area is like nothing else around in MLB.  The crowd seems like it is into every pitch. As soon as you walk into Fenway Park or Wrigley Field as a baseball fan you admire the history of the park.”

DB : “Talk about what inspired you to create www.benwahrlebaseballparks.com?”

BW: “As I was going to more baseball games I wanted a way to track all the games and ballparks I had been to.   It was also a great way to show my friends, family and the public about each park.  My site has a lot of great detail and stories. It also shows my upcoming trips, and every time I go to a game I keep track of each player’s statistics.”

DB: “Miller Park is on everybody’s short list for the best tailgate ballpark in the MLB,  what can you tell us about these pre-game rituals?”

BW: “It is a party like atmosphere whether it is opening day or the 40th home game of the season.  Everyone enjoys the time with their friends by  grilling out and playing beanie bag toss.”

DB: “What advice would you give for somebody experiencing Miller Park for the very first time?”

BW: “You have to tailgate at least once at Miller Park. Lastly if you go to a “hot” game make sure you buy parking in advance.”

DB: “What is your favorite method of transportation to Miller Park?”

BW: “Miller Park is very easy to get to unlike some parks where you have to take a train, cab or a bus.  Miller Park is right off the interstate, so everyone drives to the park.”

DB: “What is the food like at Miller Park? What is your favorite ballpark food there?”

BW: Over the last couple of years they have done a great job of adding different foods like garlic fries, pasta, and many different kinds of sandwiches.   My favorite ballpark food at Miller Park has to be the loaded nachos or the honey roasted nuts.”

DB: “What is your favorite all time game that you have been in attendance for at Miller Park?”

BW: “Hands down it is the Carlos Zambrano no-hitter vs Astros in 2008. In Houston a hurricane occurred, MLB decided to locate the game to Miller Park.  I remember going to the game and it was supposed to be a home game for the Astros but I would say about 90% were Cubs fans.   This was a home game basically for the Cubs.”

DB: “Bob Uecker is one of the best radio personalities in the game.  In your own words, how does the city of Milwaukee like him?”

BW: “He is an inspiration to this city, the fans adore him for what he has done.  Over 50 years in the booth is a great accomplishment.”

DB: “With Prince Fielder leaving, the Brewers were lucky that Ryan Braun did not have to miss the 1st 50 games for the PED scandal.  Does this give the Brewers a chance to contend in the NL Central now?

BW: “I think all the facts need to come out first before we decide Ryan Braun guilty. Obviously no one can replace Prince and what he brings to the team day by day.  Aramis Ramirez can make up some of the production.  Ramirez had a terrific year last year hitting .306 with 26 home runs.   This central division is wide open.  The Brewers still have a good rotation in Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf. Also the bats of the NL MVP Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Corey Hart, and Rickie Weeks.  Even though the Cardinals lost the best player in the game- Albert Pujols , they are getting Adam Wainwright back.   They will have a David Freese for a whole season with Matt Holliday. The Reds are another team with good pitching.  The starters did not do a good job last year for the Reds.  Acquiring Mat Latos was huge for the Reds this offseason.  The Reds lineup has a lot of depth with Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Scott Rolen, Brandon Phillips, Drew Stubbs.     Overall I still like the Brewers chances of getting back to the postseason.”

***Thank you to our Miller Park Expert- Ben Warhle for participating in today’s article.  If you would like to read more about Ben and his baseball travels click here ***

                                         

 ***Thank you to our Baseball Writer Chuck Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports.  To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Chuck Booth, you can follow Chuck on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and you can also follow Chuck’s website for his Guinness Book of World Record Bid to see all 30 MLB Park in 23 days click here  or on the 30 MLB Parks in 23 days GWR tracker at the Reports click here. To Purchase or read about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book, ” please click here ***

Please e-mail us at: mlbreports@me.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.  To subscribe to our website and have the Daily Reports sent directly to your inbox, click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

#29 Smoltz Jersey to be Retired: A Tribute to a Future Hall of Famer

Saturday April 21st, 2012

Ryan Ritchey: On June 8th, 2012, John Smoltz’s number 29 jersey will be retired as an Atlanta Brave. This will be the 4th in 4 seasons for the Braves. Reality is that Smoltz was one of the most underrated pitchers ever to pitch in the majors. He is not a 300 game winner (a number that every starting pitcher shoots for), but he was one of the most consistent pitchers to ever toe the rubber.  Winning 213 games throughout his 21 year career, he had to be consistent. Also as a reliever he also saved 155 games in 4 seasons. Impressive stats to say the least.

As a rookie at the age of 21, he had a rough start to his career going 2-7 with a 5.48 ERA. As a pitcher, he learned from his mistakes and became an all-star in only his second season in the bigs. He went 12-11 on the year, but had 5 complete games with a 2.94 ERA. Read the rest of this entry

An Interview with Wrigley Field ‘Expert’ Bob Devries

Follow me-@chuckbooth3024 on twitter

Follow my streak all the through to the bitter end.  Schedule is this link:

http://mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker/

fastestthirtyballgames3021.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/30in20/

Saturday April 21, 2012

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)-  Bob Devries loves baseball, this much is evidently clear when you get to know his story around the game.  I am going to meet Bob in person for the doubleheader attempt of Chicago and Milwaukee.  I can think of no other one person than I would rather hang out for the day in Chicago than Bob.  His spirits were brought back up back in his life by visiting all of the 30 MLB parks.  While my case was entirely different from Bob’s, our common theme is that baseball brought us both back from the depths of despair.  I had the chance to talk to Bob about life, baseball and how we share the unique distinction of being the only two people on the planet to have attended a game in every park as a fan for two consecutive years in a row.

DB: “Welcome to the MLB Reports Wrigley Field Expert Interview Bob Please tell us about yourself and then give us some information on your life as a Cub fan?”

BD:  “I am just your average, soon to be 49-year-old sports fan. I got married last summer to someone who I have known since we were in the 6th grade and reconnected on Facebook. Charlie (Charlene) and I make our home in McHenry, IL. I work for a distribution company as a logistics manager. I have a stepson, Brent, who is of all things, is a St. Louis Cardinal fan. Brent got to live out a baseball fans’ dream this past season. He was at Busch Stadium for game 6 and 7 of the World Series.

My life as a Cub fan started in 1971 when my dad took me to Wrigley Field for my birthday. I often wonder if we would have gone to old Comiskey Park for a Sox game that day would I be a Sox fan today, thankfully we went to Wrigley.

Being a Cub fan, like all Cub fans, has been met with frustration and disappointment but thru it all we have remained fiercely loyal to the Cubs and always will. Why you ask? I don’t know and I ask myself that question every season when the Cubs are eliminated from the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry

Jamie Moyer: A Pitcher Older than the Rockies

Friday April 20, 2012

Bryan Sheehan: Jamie Moyer is old (I’ll give you a second to wipe up the coffee undoubtably spilled onto your computer after reading this shocking fact). So old, in fact, that he is older than thirteen of the thirty current MLB teams, if relocated teams such as the Atlanta Braves are considered unique from their Milwaukee counterpart. So ancient, that his 25 year career is longer than the life of Wilin Rosario, who caught his record-setting win Tuesday. This performance, which came in the form of a seven-inning shutout gem against the woeful San Diego Padres, made Moyer the oldest starter, at 49 years and 150 days, to win a game of baseball. In a time when power pitchers and young flamethrowers, like Washington’s Stephen Strasburg, are lauded, Moyer and his sub-80 MPH fastball (he never got higher than 79 MPH on Tuesday, according to the Denver Post) are still effective enough to win. Tied for 35th all time in wins and just 32 away from the famed 300 club, it would be nice to think that he could stick around a few more years and break even more records. But looking at his current status, it’s hard to tell when his fairytale career will end.

Read the rest of this entry

A Ball Park Chaser Guide Courtesy of Ball Park Chasers.com

Friday Apr.20/2012

Kauffman Stadium Chaser Guide is courtesy of ballparkchasers.com

 

Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City International Airport (MCI)

27 miles/35 minute drive to Kauffman Stadium

***All underlined words are direct clickable links when you are online***

WHERE TO STAY

Unlimited budget     There are no 4 or 5 star hotels close to Kauffman Stadium

Moderate budget All three options are within walking distance of Kauffman Stadium

Clarion Hotel Sports Complex

Drury Inn & Suites Kansas City Stadium

Holiday Inn Kansas City – Waterpark

Chaser budget traveler  The following lodging is within 4 miles of Kauffman Stadium

Super 8  Independence, MO

Best Western  Truman Inn

Holiday Inn Kansas City Sports Complex

WHERE TO PARK?

Parking at “The K” has never been so easy-it sure beats struggling for a cheap lot at a downtown ballpark. The Kansas City Royals are one of a handful of ball clubs that offer a centralized parking lot in front of their respective stadium. General parking is only $10 and the Royals provide an easy-guide that has directions to either the east or west parking lot, depending on the direction you are coming from. Keep in mind that parking at Kauffman Stadium is cash only. If your trip allows it, we recommend to stay at one of the hotels listed above so you can walk to and from the game.

WHERE TO EAT?                        

One of our crew’s favorite restaurants in all of baseball is just 15 minutes from Kauffman Stadium. Chappell’s Restaurant and Sports Museum is a must see when coming to Kansas City. Chappell’s not only serves great food, but also is home of the country’s largest collection of sports memorabilia (within a restaurant). Don’t leave here without trying the famous half-pound burger, meeting Jim Chappell (the owner) and finding the autograph baseball from Ty Cobb and the authentic 1974 World Series Trophy!

 If you haven’t already noticed in the other Ballpark Chasers Guides, we love “hole-in-the-wall” restaurants and the local favorites. If you feel the same way, look no further than LC’s BBQ. Just four miles from Kauffman Stadium, LC’s can practically be smelled from the seats! Well, that may be an exaggeration, but LC’s is arguably the best BBQ joint in all of Kansas City. Our mouths are watering just thinking of their burnt end sandwiches and fries. A few miles further lay one of the coolest interactive restaurants in the country. The 810 Zone is the place to go to find food made from scratch, interactive televisions at each table, a radio broadcast booth and a colossal collection of high-definition televisions and sports memorabilia! If that isn’t enough, bring your best swing for their golf simulator game that claims to be accurate within .3 percent.  We recommend calling ahead  for a tee-time if you want to play Pebble Beach. The 810 Zone offers three locations within a 20 minute drive of Kauffman Stadium. 

The 2009 season opened with a newly renovated Kauffman Stadium. Some of the new features include a restaurant in right field, a Royals Hall of Fame exhibit and miniature golf in left field.  Rivals Sports Bar is open just beyond the right field bleachers and is serving up traditional sports bar cuisine. To keep you up on the game, Rivals offers a number of flat-screen televisions, including a 103 incher! Rivals Restaurant makes for a perfect stop during those cool spring nights or blistering hot and humid summer days in Kansas City. A quicker option is Stroud’s Chicken, which is connected to the Royal’s Hall of Fame in left field. Stroud’s is a local favorite that arguably serves the best fried chicken in the country. For dessert, look for Sheridan’s Frozen Custard in the new “Outfield Experience”. Sheridan’s is the only custard stand operating in a professional sports venue.

WHERE TO BUY TICKETS?

The Kansas City Royals have consistently been in the bottom half of fan attendance for quite some time. The struggle of the Royals on the field translates into a struggle filling up the stands of Kauffman Stadium. Needless to say, tickets were relatively easy to come by during the 2011 season. Ballpark Chasers can pick up tickets right before the game at one of the box office locations outside of Kauffman Stadium or online using their interactive seating chart.  If you can, plan on seeing the Royals play on Friday night in order to catch a great fireworks show following the game.

Ballpark Chasers Fun Fact:  One of the most coveted and hardest to come by seats in all of baseball is the famous red seat found in Section 101, Row C, Seat 1. The Royals placed this red seat in honor of the legendary Kansas City Monarch, Buck O’Neil. Don’t expect to find the seat on eBay, as the Royals front office donates this seat to a member of the Kansas City community for each home game.

WHEN TO GO?

Summers in Kansas City tend to be hot and humid. Expect temperatures in the 90’s with the lowest probability of rain during the months of July and August. If you prefer less humidity and cooler temperatures, plan your trip in April, May or early June. Just be prepared to bring your umbrella.

WHAT ELSE TO SEE?

Besides the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, no other attraction comes close to the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City. Founded in 1990, the NLBM is a non-profit organization with a privately funded mission to preserve the history of African-Americans in baseball. Located in the historic district of 18 TH and Vine (10 minutes from Kauffman Stadium), the NLBM will provide hours of entertainment and will leave you with a greater appreciation of the Negro Leagues. Admission to the Negro League Baseball Museum is $8 for adults or $3 for children under 12. Ballpark Chasers recommends making a day out of it by purchasing a combo ticket ($10) which includes access to the Jazz Museum next door. Children under 12 would be $5 for a combo ticket.

After a day at the museums, head over to the Country Club Plaza for 15 blocks of restaurants, shops, concerts, entertainment and a unique atmosphere that cannot be replicated anywhere in the greater Midwest. If your trip to Kansas City is spent with the love of your life, don’t leave the Country Club Plaza without a Venetian style Gondola ride. Due to its popularity, reservations are recommended.  

BALLPARK CHASERS VACATION?

Ballpark Chasers rave about the “Midwest 3” baseball road trip. This includes seeing Kauffman Stadium, Busch Stadium and Coors Field. We recommend finding the cheapest airfare to either Denver or St. Louis and using a rental car to drive in between. The drive from Denver to Kansas City is roughly 9 hours, or about 610 miles; whereas the drive between St. Louis and Kansas City is about 240 miles or 4 hours.

Unfortunately, there is not a close Minor League ballclub around the Kansas City area. Therefore, if you are looking to stay in town, Ballpark Chasers suggests seeing a couple of games at “The K” and spending some time at the Negro League Baseball Museum.

A big Thank-you goes out to Craig Landgren (Founder of ballparkchasers.com) for lending us the chaser guide today for Kauffman Stadium.  To view any of the 30 MLB Parks and their awesome chaser guide click here.

Please e-mail us at: mlbreports@me.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.  To subscribe to our website and have the Daily Reports sent directly to your inbox, click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

The 2012 Washington Nationals Are For Real

Friday April 20th, 2012

Sam Evans: The Washington Nationals have gotten off to a hot start and they’re currently in first place in the National League East. It is very early in the season, but every game matters and the Nationals have looked very strong so far. If the Nationals pitching lives up to expectations, and a certain outfield prospect can make the major impact he is capable of, I see no reason why the Nationals can’t win the N.L. East in 2012.

The N.L. East isn’t as strong as it has been in recent years. The Phillies lost their two superstar position players, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, for who knows how long. The whole Philadelphia roster looks like they’ve been suffering from the loss of those two guys. Still, they have one of the best rotations in baseball and a decent offense. The Marlins have a chance to contend this year, but they’re relying on Josh Johnson to get back to his old form, which is a risky business. The Braves have an abundance of young pitching, but a couple of their key aging position players can no longer be relied on to produce All-Star season. The one constant is the Mets. To no one’s surprise, they’re still terrible.

The Nationals are going to be an above-average baseball team in the coming years. The farm system is stacked with talent, and Stephen Strasburg is healthy. However, there is no reason why they can’t put in all their chips for this year. Let’s look at the Nationals major league roster, areas they can improve, and why they have a chance to compete in 2012. Read the rest of this entry

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