Author Archives: rwhitmer99

Robert Whitmer ‘s All – Felon Team

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Saturday, May.04/2013

In the game of baseball, we have had the unfortunate circumstance of having players that aren't exactly model citizens.  Join me on an adventure of looking at putting together our all-felon team.

In the game of baseball, we have had the unfortunate circumstance of having players that aren’t exactly model citizens. Join me on an adventure of looking at putting together our all-felon team.

Let me start off by saying that this piece that I have written is intended to be a humorous piece.  I am not trying to talk bad about any players, just merely stating facts that are public record.

Everyone makes mistakes.  We are here to make them and learn from them.  I have put together the first Robert Whitmer’s all-felon team.  I have chosen a player from each position that has been either arrested or convicted of a crime.  I hope that you find this entertaining as well as informative.

I do this article to address the “entitlement” that I believe some players feel that they deserve.  I feel that they think they are, somehow, above the law for the sole purpose that they are professional athletes and are known, or popular, in the community in which their team resides.

Pete Rose hit #4192

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42

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Tuesday April.16/2013

#42 - we all know what the number means.

#42 – we all know what the number means.

What significance does a number carry? Obviously we know that a number carries a value of an item or items. They can hold a positive or negative connotation depending on what the number is referring to.

If you are talking about a bank account or an amount of money, the higher the number, the better. If you are dealing with a number of people who want to cause you physical harm, the lower the number the better.

What significance does the number 42 have for you? It can carry many meanings. 42 hours in your individual work week. 42 miles to the gallon that your vehicle gets. 42 miles that you will be walking after your car ran out of gas because you only got 40 miles to the gallon and not the 42 that you thought.

What does 42 mean in the world of baseball? 42 Home Runs in a contract year and you will probably be making 42 million dollars on your next contract. 42 Doubles is a good season.

42 wins by a team in a season is terrible but 42 wins in a row, and they are setting records. Perhaps the most significant use of the number 42 in the baseball realm was by a young 28-year-old Second Baseman named Jackie Robinson.

Movie Trailer for 42:

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To Cap Or Not To Cap? That Is The Question!

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Sunday Mar.24/2013

I was listening to my local sports talk radio station the other day and the show host, who, in my opinion, doesn't know what the heck he's talking about most of the time, actually said something that made sense.  He pointed out that in the leagues with the salary caps, the playing field is more level. Think about it for a second.  Who are always the teams that are in the playoffs year after year in the MLB?  You have the Yankees (large market), Red Sox (large market), California teams (the entire state is a large market).  Even Detroit, with all the economic struggles that the city has had of late, is still large market team.

I was listening to my local sports talk radio station the other day and the show host, who, in my opinion, doesn’t know what the heck he’s talking about most of the time, actually said something that made sense. He pointed out that in the leagues with the salary caps, the playing field is more level.
Think about it for a second. Who are always the teams that are in the playoffs year after year in the MLB? You have the Yankees (large market), Red Sox (large market), California teams (the entire state is a large market). Even Detroit, with all the economic struggles that the city has had of late, is still a large market team that can draw 3 Million plus fans.

By Robert Whitmer (MLB Reports Writer):

We have reached a crossroads in the game of baseball.

There is a poem by Robert Frost that goes as follows, ” Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim because it was grassy and wanted wear, though as for that the passing there had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. 

Oh, I marked the first for another day!  Yet knowing how way leads on to way I doubted if I should ever come back.  I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Should there be a Salary Cap in the MLB?:

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Fixing the Pittsburgh Pirates: Robert Whitmer’s Five Point Strategy Plan

Wednesday, Nov.21/2012

Robert Whitmer (Baseball Writer)

So we have a dilemma in this 5-point series. We have a team here that, for the past two years has been in first place at the all-star break and ended up with a losing record. Do they really need a change in the team or do they just need to grow up a little bit and stay consistent through the final 3 months of the season? The first thing that you have to look at is the line-up. Does this crew have the ability to maintain after getting the start that it has the past couple of years? I think with some minor changes the Pittsburgh Pirates from perennial losers to World Series contenders.

On http://www.MLB.com the depth chart for the Pirates shows a couple of areas that they need to upgrade in.  With a total payroll of about $65 million, they have money to spend on free agents that can assist them in accomplishing their goals.  The following five points are designed to provide the pirates with a fix to win now.  I firmly believe that they are on the right track in their minor leagues to sustain their future. Read the rest of this entry

Robert Whitmer’s 5-Point Plan to Fix the Colorado Rockies

Wednesday November 7th, 2012

Robert Whitmer:  Attitude is everything. When we talk about ways to fix a franchise by taking them from a non-playoff team to a playoff team, attitude is everything. I recently saw a movie that reminded me of something I had forgotten from long ago. The United States Marine Corps have a belief that when you are on the battlefield, your only concern is making sure that the man next to you gets home safe. By doing this, in theory, nobody would get left behind and nobody would be able to be ambushed. Taking this concept and applying it to the Colorado Rockies is the concept that they need to bring in to the organization. The following 5 steps will help install this concept- from the front office, all the way down to the third string bat boy.

1. Signing free agents.

The Rockies don’t necessarily have a hole at first base but they have a guy in Todd Helton that isn’t getting any younger. He is 39 and pushing 40. He can’t really be a viable first base option for much longer. It’s time for them to look younger. Casey Kotchman would be a good person that could spell Helton at times in the late innings or an off day every so often. The other upgrade is in the outfield. One high quality outfielder to pair with Fowler and Gonzalez would be very advantageous for them. BJ Upton would be a great fit with the Rockies and that thin air. If a sign and trade is what needs to be done, then Colvin and LeMahieu for Upton would be good with the Rockies picking up Kelly Johnson or Freddy Sanchez in free agency. Read the rest of this entry

The Robert Whitmer 5-Point Plan to Fix the Yankees

Tuesday October 23rd, 2012

Robert Whitmer:  If I gave you 196 million dollars and told you that you could take that money and build a baseball team out of that money and get whoever you wanted, who would you get?  If we take the bottom 10 teams in regards to payroll in baseball, take their best player at the eight field positions, pitcher and closer, who would we get?

Oakland A’s: Yoenis Cespedes (OF) $6.5 million

San Diego Padres: Chase Headley (3rd Base) $3.475 million

Houston Astros: Jose Altuve (2nd Base) $483,000 million

K.C. Royals: Alex Gordon (OF) $6 million

Pittsburgh Pirates: Andrew McCutchen (OF) $708,333

Tampa Bay Rays: David Price (SP) $5.2 million

Cleveland Indians: Asdrubal Cabrera (SS) $4.55 million

Arizona Diamondbacks: J.J. Putz (CL) $4.5 million

Toronto Blue Jays: J.P. Arencibia (C) $489,600

Cincinnati Reds: Joey Votto (1st Base) $11.4 million Read the rest of this entry

The Stephen Strasburg Innings Limit: Was it the Right Move by the Nationals?

Monday October 15th, 2012

Stephen Strasburg is the face of the Washington Nationals. Will Bryce and Harper and he be able to bring a World Series to Washington?

Robert Whitmer:  About two months into the season (May 21st to be exact), I wrote an article about Stephen Strasburg explaining that he was at a crossroads in his career.  We discussed Justin Verlander and his abilities and compared him to the jock that you can find in any high school in the world.  We said that he was the kind of guy that was good at anything that he tried to do.  I said that it was just plain unfair how he abuses hitters at the plate because of the wide variety of pitches that he has to deal with.  We also discussed Mark Prior and how he was the coulda, woulda, shoulda, of the argument.  He did not live up to his potential and injuries were to blame.  I remember saying that we would have to see what happens and where he ends up.  Well the end of the season for the Nationals has come (for Strasburg it came earlier than the teams and don’t worry we will cover that later) so let’s take a look back at how the season that Strasburg had compares to the third season that Verlander and Prior had.  You can read the above mentioned article here.

We shall start with Mark Prior for the sole purpose being that I have his stats up on Firefox first.  Prior had a less than stellar third year for the Cubbies.  He started 21 games but could only squeak out a 6-4 record in 2004.  His ERA wasn’t that great either because it ended up at 4.02.  We compare this to the previous year for Prior when he came in at 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA in 30 starts.  Let’s look further at the 2004 numbers.  He struck out 139 while giving up 14 jacks.  The other number that is striking is that he only faced 510 batters the entire year.  That’s just over 24 batters per game.  This would be a great number if he were pitching into the ninth inning every game and having almost complete games each outing.  That wasn’t the case.  He started 21 times but only factored into the decision 10 times.  That’s 11 outings where something happened that cause him to get the no-decision as evident by the 0 (zero) complete games that year.  Like I said, it was a less than stellar year but in his defense, he did start the season on the DL for two months. Read the rest of this entry

Josh Hamilton: Overcoming the Demons or Reliving his Past? The Future of the Rangers Free Agent Superstar

Tuesday October 9th, 2012

Robert Whitmer:  We talked in a previous article about the demons that we carry and how they can affect us.  We all have things that we must overcome in order for us to progress and become the person that we were meant to be.  For some it is easier to overcome these demons, but for others it can take longer; much longer. What is it about a person that takes one less time to overcome them and others longer?  Is it the self-discipline that one has?  What about distractions that come up while trying to work on their issues?  We all know that Josh Hamilton has had some issues in the past and that he says it is a fight every day of his life to not go back to the behaviors that got him in trouble in the first place.  Before I go much further in this article, let me be very clear about one thing.  I have never had any type of issue with any type of addiction to any drugs, alcohol or tobacco.  I don’t know how it affects people on a daily basis.  What I do know is that it is a serious affliction.  One thing I do know is that through it all, Josh Hamilton is a strong individual.

Normally when you write something like this you start at the beginning and you work your way to the present day, then project the future.  This will not be one of those.  I am going to start at the present and work my way to the beginning to see how far the man has come.  As of today we are looking at Josh Hamilton the free agent.  When the Rangers failed to advance in the postseason, Hamilton became an unemployed baseball player.  In a rather lackluster free agent class that doesn’t really have a lot of players that are game changers, the speculation has not been about who Josh Hamilton will sign with- but rather how much he will sign for.  Let’s start by looking at the season that the guy had.  Out of the 12 position players that made the most money in the majors this year, Hamilton had a better season than all of them except for a guy named Miguel Cabrera, who won some award that hadn’t been won in 47 years named the triple crown.  Hamilton made $13 million this year.  The Rangers paid him $302,325.58 per home run that he hit (43).  They paid him $105,691.06 per RBI that he drove in this year (128).  When you are looking at how much you pay a player, you have to look at consistency to make somewhat sure that they are going to be worth the money. Read the rest of this entry

The Way to Save Baseball: Coaches are the Key

Tuesday October 2nd, 2012

Robert Whitmer:  Now you might say that baseball doesn’t need any saving. Like I have said on this very site, however, everything that has a beginning also has an end.  My Grandfather, who was a very intelligent man, told me a very wise saying before I embarked on missionary service for my church.  He told me that “even the church is one generation away from being non-existent.”  He told me to stop and think about that for a little bit and tell him what I thought he meant.  I was your average 19-year-old and wasn’t really paying much attention to what he was saying, but that phrase stuck with me.  As I was doing my service I realized what that phrase meant to me.  I needed to try my hardest to teach people because if I didn’t, then what I was teaching about becomes null and void.  Everything in the world is in the same boat no matter what it is.  Imagine if the human race just decided that everyone, starting today, who is 15 and under was no longer going to learn how to drive a car; what would happen?  Eventually cars would become extinct.  Nobody would know how to drive and as a result, nobody would need cars.  Such is the same with baseball.  Baseball is one generation away from being extinct.

I heard the other day on a well-known sports radio program that plays during the day that baseball is a dying sport.  I listened as the host hypothesized that the whole purpose for Bud Selig to create this Wild Card playoff was to get people talking about baseball before the playoffs were upon us.  He continued to say that it had failed to work.  Are you kidding me?  We are looking at the playoffs on a daily basis right now because we have so much of an unknown as to who is playing who going in to the last day of the week.  Now part of the equation that I would tend to agree with him on is that from a playing perspective, it is somewhat of a dying sport especially in the lower-income communities.  Why is that you might ask?  How many times have you driven through the lower-income housing areas and seen the beautiful, plush green grass with perfectly painted baselines and the perfectly measured pitching mound in the middle of the concrete jungle?  More often than not, you see the basketball goals that are on the corner that double as a church parking lot for a couple of hours on Sunday. Read the rest of this entry

Robert Whitmer’s 2012 MLB Playoff Predictions: Wild Cards to the World Series

Monday September 24th, 2012

   

Robert Whitmer: There comes a point in everyone’s life when they must choose path that they will go down.  I am a firm believer in the fact that everyone on the Earth has a fate awaiting them based on the decisions that they make while they are alive.  There are some that think that no matter what you do, the fate that was intended for you is what you will receive and that everything is pre-determined.  I don’t necessarily prescribe to this thought because that would take away, to some degree, our ability to choose our own path.  Today, my friends, is my day.  I must, as it has been imposed on me by the higher-ups here at MLB reports, must make a choice.  That’s right my friends….  Today is playoffs prediction day. 

Now there are obviously some teams that have already determined their playoff fate either for good or bad, but what I have been tasked with today is to take us from the wild card playoff game all the way through the World Series and tell you who is going to win it all.  Now just so I don’t get put on the ropes here, I am not liable for any losses that are to be had at the hands of Las Vegas or your local backstreet bookie.  Please don’t come after me if you lose your shirt, or some fingers, based off of one of my predictions. If you win some money, however, please feel free to send some of it my way.  So here we go.  My predictions will start with the obvious division winners and then the Wild Card teams.  We will proceed with the American League followed by the National League.  To wrap it all up I will give you your World Series winner.  Like Ron Burgundy said in “Anchorman”, “60% of the time, I’m right all the time.” Read the rest of this entry

MLB Playoff Expansion: Business or Personal?

Tuesday September 18, 2012


Robert Whitmer: What do you think of when you hear the number “1”?  Do you think of singularity, of lonesomeness?  The significance of the number “1” in the history of the world is vast.  In science the number 1 is the atomic number of Hydrogen, the most basic element that exists on earth.  With regards to philosophy, Plotinus refers to the number 1 as the basis ultimate reality and the source of all existence.  1 can be used to refer to an individual person or to groups of many people.  In the sports world the number 1 is tossed around all the time.  We hear of one game leads in the yearly standings and in playoff series.  We know players that have the number one as their jersey number.  For the majority of sports the number 1 is the way that points are tracked.  At the end of the seasons when we go into the playoffs, the teams take on the attitude of “there can be only one.”  This means that there can be only one team left when it is all said and done.  One survivor out of however many teams get the chance to play for the ultimate prize.

In 1995 Major League Baseball did some adding of teams and realigning of divisions.  They took the two divisions that we had and divided them up into the three that we have now and added a Wild Card team to the playoff mix.  In the format that was laid out previous to this year the three division winners got an automatic spot in the playoffs with the fourth team coming from whatever division and whatever team in the respective AL and NL had the highest winning percentage.  At this point if there was a tie for a division lead, it would be settled by the head to head record and the team with more wins winning the division and the other one, if they had the highest winning percentage, winning the wild card.  The concept of this process is good.  There are times, however, that if it had happened differently, we would have been looking at a very different playoff picture.  We will examine the 2005 AL playoffs as an example. Read the rest of this entry

Ted Williams

Sunday September 9th, 2012

Robert Whitmer: Have you ever had the thought of “what if?”  That old thought of what could have been, or even what should have been. Everyone has it and its ok. Some think of a love that was had and lost, others think of opportunities that were available to them that they didn’t take for one reason or another. Don’t feel bad about thinking this way.  It’s human nature to think what could have happened if something else had gone differently. Some people obsess over this and think about it constantly and allow it to take over their lives.  Others just chalk up the so-called missed opportunities as all part of the plan of a supreme being because that is what was meant to happen.  What would have happened had the United States not dropped the atomic bomb on Japan twice?  How long would the conflict have gone on?  Would the U.S. and the Soviet Union have gone into a 50 year cold war?  On the flip side though, how many lives did it save?  If we look at the sports world, what would the basketball years of the 90’s look like had we not had Michael Jordan flying through the sky with his tongue hanging out of his mouth?  What if he did play but it was for the Celtics instead of the Bulls?  How different would the 90’s have been?  Let’s take this to baseball because we all know that’s why you are here.  How would the results have been different if the Red Sox would have had Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter instead of the Yankees?  It is questions like this that keep people like me busy because I get to write articles such as this one.

I like games especially of the “what if” variety and we are going to play this game with Ted Williams. Before we get started though, we will dissect this man as a player and look at the career numbers that he put up.  There are very few people who put up the career numbers that Williams did.  He carries a career average of .344 with 37 home runs and 130 RBIs.  How many players right now would kill for even one season of those numbers let alone career averages? According to www.baseballreference.com he ranks as the 8th best hitter by the numbers in the history of the game. He only trails the guys that we know only by their last name: Ruth, Mays, Cobb, Hornsby, Wagner, Musial, and Gehrig.  So in order to play this game, we have to establish some general information about Williams. First fact is that he played in 22 active MLB seasons. Second fact is that he missed three seasons due to military service in World War 2.  Now remember that he missed these three seasons in the prime of his career.  He would have been 24, 25, and 26 in these seasons.  Why do I bring this up?  Those three seasons came right after he had probably the most prolific offensive career in the history of the game of baseball.  In one season he scored 135 runs, hit 37 home runs, knocked in 137 while drawing 145 walks.  Oh yeah…  he hit .406 that year with an OPS of 1.287!  Coming off of a season like that one, we can only imagine what he would have done during those following three years. So are you ready to play “what if?” Read the rest of this entry

The Blockbuster MLB Trade Between the Red Sox and Dodgers: A Win/Win For Both Teams

Monday August 27th, 2012

Robert Whitmer:  $250,000,000 is a lot of money.  I know for a fact that it is more than I will ever see in my life from all my years of working combined.  It is more than 18 countries in the world have in annual gross national product.  It is enough money to buy the most expensive house in the world except 2 and still be able to afford the most expensive car in the world.  Before we explore what the significance of that $250,000,000, let’s back up to how we came about this situation to even be discussing this obscene amount of money.  There was this time in 2004 when something happened that hadn’t happened in 86 years, but three years later in 2007 it happened again.  After 2007 and having an even happen twice in three years without it happening in the previous 86, the powers that be wanted to insure that it would continue to happen.  To ensure this, the Boston Red Sox decided that they would attempt to buy their way to a championship like the division rival Yankees have done in the past.  So the spending spree began, and if there is one thing in the world that is universal and never lies it is numbers.  Let’s cover them.

2008 started the decline of the Red Sox team.  They made the playoffs in 2008 but lost to the Rays in the ALCS.  In 2009 they lost in the first round to the Angels.  Here is how I can imagine the conversation going between Theo Epstein the GM and John Henry the Owner of the Sox.

John: So uh, Theo, what happened out there this year?

Theo: I don’t know…  we had a good team, I think the injuries got us.

John:  Well why don’t we spend money like the Yankees.  It seems to be working for them since they just won the World Series. Read the rest of this entry

The Legend of Billy Hamilton: Reds’ Speedster Breaks the Minors Single Season Stolen Bases Record

Tuesday August 21st, 2012

Robert Whitmer:  Let’s talk about the year 1865. The Civil War was winding up and the country was in ruin. This is the same year that President Lincoln is shot by John Wilkes Booth and The Salvation Army is founded. Computers, cell phones, and even the automobile had yet to be invented. The steam engine for boats was in its infancy. Across the pond in Britain the world’s first speed limit is introduced limiting horse-drawn carriages to a blistering 2 mph in the city limits and a deadly 4 mph outside the city. This is also the year that the stolen base was recorded for the first time in baseball. In 1865 the Philadelphia Keystones had a player by the name of Ned Cuthbert. Now good ol’ Ned had an idea of running to the next base while the pitcher was getting ready to pitch the ball. Like Edison and Bell, I’m sure people called him crazy when he came up with the idea but he did it anyways. Thus we have record of the first stolen base in baseball history.

The official rules that govern baseball gives credit for a stolen base “to a runner whenever he advances one base unaided by a base hit, a put out, a force out, a fielder’s choice, a passed ball, a wild pitch, or a balk.” As you can probably guess though, the rules regarding stolen bases have gone through many changes. In 1887, the first rules for stolen bases read as the following: “…every base made after first base has been reached by a base runner, except for those made by reason of or with the aid of a battery error (wild pitch or passed ball), or by batting, balks or by being forced off. In short, shall include all bases made by a clean steal, or through a wild throw or muff of the ball by a fielder who is directly trying to put the base runner out while attempting to steal.” Wait…. Muff? I suppose they understood what that meant in 1887. Between 1887 and the final revision, the rule makers addressed the scoring rules in regards to double and triple steal attempts (1910) and defensive indifference (1920). Read the rest of this entry

The Cleveland Indians: Fairweather Fans or Cuyahoga Faithful? The Lowest MLB Home Attendance

Monday August 13th, 2012

Robert Whitmer:  “Ray, people will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steam rollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”

That quote is from my second favorite baseball movie (if you want to know my favorite, ask me on twitter) of all-time “Field of Dreams.”  James Earl Jones’ character is telling Kevin Costner why he shouldn’t and won’t need to sell his farm in order to pay the mortgage on the property.  The whole movie, Ray (Kevin Costner) is being told that “If you build it, he will come.”  Ray plows down half of his corn crop in order to build a baseball field because I voice tells him to.  In the end, it ends up being his father that he ended up building the field for.  Ray always yearned to have one last catch with his deceased father and this field gave him the ability to do that.  Baseball is a connecting sport.  It somehow has the power to connect one generation to another.   Read the rest of this entry

Baseball in the Olympics: Born in 1904 to Elimination in 2008

Monday August 6th, 2012

           

Robert Whitmer:  Have you ever loved something so much that the only way to see if it loved you back was to set it free and see if it came back to you?  Most people apply this concept to human relationships.  The strongest emotions possible by a human are between family members.  Husband and wife, parent and child, even sibling to sibling; the emotion of love runs the entire world.  Wars have been fought and countries destroyed because of an emotion.  If I could, for a moment, steal a set of lines from The Matrix: Revolutions about love.  “It’s a… human emotion. Rama-Kandra: No, it is a word. What matters is the connection the word implies. I see that you are in love. Can you tell me what you would give to hold on to that connection?”  What would you give?  This word is often times tossed around with reckless abandon.  We often say it without considering the aforementioned connection that the word implies.  When someone or something that we have connected this word to leaves us, or is no longer available to us, we go through a withdrawal.  We yearn for it, strive for it, and in the most extreme of circumstances, kill for it.  You are reading this right now because you have a love for a sport.  Don’t deny it, because you know that it’s true.  You watch it, study it, and put aside mere mundane tasks to be near it.  Isn’t that what you do for things that you love?  You…  no we are here because we love the sport of baseball but has it always loved us back?

We are about a week into the 30th Olympiad.  We have our usual events that grab out attention for three weeks out of every four years.  If you try to sit there and tell me that you follow USA handball team then I will sit here and call you a liar.   I can probably count on one hand the number of sports that are in the Olympics that are even on TV in those four years.  Only because of national pride do the Olympics get the ratings that it does.  There has been talk of including new sports and events into the Olympics but then they continue to take events out.  One of the more recent sports to get the axe was baseball. During a 2005 IOC meeting, it was decided that baseball and softball would no longer (starting in 2012) be included in the Olympic Games.  This is not going to be a bash the Olympics read, but more represent a discussion as to why I feel that baseball is not an Olympic event.  To understand this, we must start at the beginning.  Let us hop in our time machine and travel back to a time when baseball was king. Read the rest of this entry

Melky Cabrera: Fourth Time is the Charm – Giants Slugger Breaks Out in 2012

Monday July 30th, 2012

Photo Courtesy of bleacherreport.com

Robert Whitmer:  Opportunity is knocking, are you going to answer?  That is the question that is most used to say when we should be ready for any good thing when it comes our way.  Let me tell you a little story from my own life.  I was the ripe old age of 20 and had just gotten home from some time doing missionary service.  I had just started a new job and was working on starting my college education in either education or journalism.  I got a call on my normal day off to come in and work for a girl who called in sick.  I agreed, of course, because I needed the money.  It was that night when my beautiful wife walked in to work and we talked for the first time.  The rest is history.  Opportunity is a funny thing.  You may or may not recognize it when it comes. 

As my very first boss always used to tell me, “it’s better to be prepared and seize an opportunity, then not be prepared and miss one.” Such is the case for players in Major League Baseball.  The window of opportunity is so amazingly small, a cockroach couldn’t even fit through it.  It often takes an injury for players to really get a chance to show their stuff in the big leagues.  Either that or they play their butts off and show that they can play better than who they already have.  Again, it’s better to be prepared for the opportunity when it presents itself.  Thus we review the career of Melky Cabrera. Read the rest of this entry

A Tribute to Hall of Fame Shortstop Barry Larkin: The Measure of a Man

Monday July 23, 2012

Robert Whitmer:  If you ask any player that is in the game today, the two goals that they have is to win a World Series and to make the Hall of Fame.  The players that you could question about that have a desire.  Let’s talk about that word for a minute.  Desire; what exactly does it mean.  I think that motivational speaker Les Brown defined it very adequately.  “Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way.”  Obviously this is speaking about the highest level of desire.  This is the level that you must have in order to accomplish the goals that are mentioned here.  Desire at this level means that you spend the extra time in the weight room to increase your stamina, taking 100 more grounders after you already took 1000 in practice, and be willing to slide one more time after your legs are already burning from sliding the first 50 times. 

Desire is what fuels them, the yearning to be the best of the best because number two is just not good enough.  Losing desire of this level is just crippling for anyone.  If it’s in our professional lives at work, or in our personal lives with our spouse, boy/girl friend, or significant other, you must maintain a desire to continue to make yourself better.  If it is lost, then you as a person will remain stagnant.  I believe that our purpose for being here on this earth is start as a little child, knowing nothing, but with the ability to learn and grow to become the best person that we can become.  When we are children, we rely on our parents’ desire to make us the best people that we can become, until we develop the desire of our own.  It is this desire that pushes us towards our goals.  This Sunday, July 22, 2012, Barry Louis Larkin became one of the best of the best in the game of baseball.  You see- you can have role players win a World Series title, but that doesn’t mean they are one of the best all-time players.  It takes a special player, however, to get into the Hall of Fame. Barry Larkin is now officially part of that elite class of ballplayers. Read the rest of this entry

Wade Boggs: Living His Dash – A Tribute to A Baseball Legend

Monday July 16, 2012

Robert Whitmer (Baseball Writer):

“The Dash” by Linda Ellis

I read of a reverend who stood to speak at the funeral of his friend. He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning…to the end. He said that the first was the date of her birth, and spoke of the last date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years. For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth, and now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth. For it matters not, how much we own; the cars, the house, the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash. So think about this long and hard, are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left – (you could be at “dash mid-range.”) If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real, and always try to understand the way other people feel. And be less quick to anger, and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before. If we treat each other with respect, and more often wear a smile, remembering that this special dash might only last a little while. So, when your eulogy is being read with your life’s action to rehash, would you be pleased with what they say about how you spent your dash? Read the rest of this entry

2012 MLB All-Star Game Preview: Comparisons, Winners, and the “Reallys”

Monday July 9th, 2012

Robert Whitmer:  The same thing happens every year. We sit down and watch baseball for the first 2 months of the season, then the campaigning begins. It starts with the television and radio commercials telling us to vote for the local teams stars and send them to whatever city the all-star game is at that year. Then you have the players themselves doing the endorsing for them or their teammates. More recently you have the players taking to the social media sites such as twitter and asking g their followers to vote for them or their teammates. Is it really all that it is cracked up to be though? We only sit here and think we have the power in our hands to send our guys to the game. Now don’t get me wrong, the vote does send players there, but isn’t it the managers decision who plays and for how long? The all-star game is the MLB version of a reality show. It reminds me of a singing competition that carries the same initials as Akinori Iwamura. If you read the credits at the end of the show, they say that no matter how we vote, the producers have the final say on who moves on. The managers are the producers. They are the ones, in the end, who decides who we see play the game and for how long. This hallowed yearly occurence that has seen the likes of Teddy Williams, Babe Ruth, and Barry Bonds walk onto the field wearing its uniform. We have created a game within a game; a popularity contest amongst some of the most athletically gifted people of our generation. It will continue in such manner of wanting the popular players, which just so happen to be the most gifted at their craft, to go and play once a year for our viewing pleasure. So long as this continues writers like me will get the honor to break it all down and pick it apart like a vulture does to a rotting carcass. Let the picking begin. Read the rest of this entry

Exclusive Dmitri Young Interview: MLB Great and the Man Known as “Da Meat Hook” Talking Baseball

Sunday July 1st, 2012

Robert Whitmer (Baseball Writer):  

            There are many firsts that you have in your life.  Your first date, your first kiss, your first….  Yeah.  This was my first live interview.  I had the honor of interviewing the former MLB all-star Dmitri “Da Meat Hook” Young.  It was challenging, but yet when it was over, I had an accomplished feeling and a greater appreciation for the man who is Dmitri Young. 

This is a man who needs no introduction in baseball circles. If you know and love baseball, then you know “Da Meat Hook”.  A 1st round pick of the Cardinals (4th overall) in 1991, Dmitri made his MLB debut in 1996. He played 13 seasons for 4 different clubs (St. Louis, Cincinnati, Detroit and Washington). Dmitri had many outstanding seasons, with his finest coming in Detroit as part of the 2003 season. Dmitri finished that year with a career high 29 home runs, to go along with 85 RBIs, 78 runs, .297 AVG and .909 OPS. He was named an All-Star that season, as well as his 2nd last year (2007- Nationals). In 2007, Dmitri was also named the NL Comeback Player of the Year. He was versatile, playing mainly first and the outfield, with a little bit of third base as well. His calling card was his bat and ability to get base hits. A career .292 hitter, Dmitri has 1389 career hits. A legend and baseball warrior, Dmitri was a player that any team would have loved to have on their side when a game was on the line.

Now in his post-MLB career, I got to spend some time talking baseball recently with Da Meat Hook. About his start in the game, from the draft day experience, his first MLB at-bat, and all the way to his current baseball projects. You know that smiling face you saw in the ballpark and on tv? That’s the same Dmitri Young I spoke to. Down to earth and loving life, Dmitri is a man who takes nothing for granted and has a love affair with the game of baseball to this day. If only we had more Dmitri Youngs in today’s game. So without further ado, here is the transcript from the interview: (you can listen to the audio version by clicking on the Dmitri Young Interview) Read the rest of this entry

Morganna Roberts: Delivering the Kiss of Greatness – The Legend of the Kissing Bandit

Monday June 25th, 2012

Robert Whitmer (Baseball Writer):  

            There have been times in entertainment history when a kiss has not necessarily been a good thing.  In The Godfather II, Al Pacino gives the kiss of death to Fredo after he “breaks his heart.”  In the music video for “Father Figure” by George Michael, he proceeds to be slapped by the famous fashion designer after she gets upset the lowly taxi driver for trying to kiss her.  Then if you are a religious person of the Christian faith, then you would believe that an innocent kiss on the cheek from Judas is the sign that set Jesus apart from the disciples for arrest and trial by the Romans.  It is this event in history that gives the kiss on the cheek a bad rap.  Kissing can be a good thing though.  For the most part, none of you would be reading this article if kissing hadn’t happened (I’m not going any further to keep this a PG write-up).  We all know that infamous Time magazine photo of the couple kissing in the streets celebrating the end of World War 2.  Finally, who could ever forget the band KISS?  Yes that group that sang Dr. Love and many other good songs.  I bring them up solely for their name, but also to show that kissing is everywhere.  You can’t turn on the TV right now and not find kissing on it.  Movies are made 100% about kissing.  If you search the word “kiss” on IMDB it brings up 4,172 movies that have that word in them somehow and we aren’t talking the script.  When you bring up “kissing” and “baseball” you think of one person.  If you put those two words in the search box on Google the first two results are about Morganna Roberts: The kissing bandit. Read the rest of this entry

Reggie Jackson: The Man, The Myth, But Really a Legend?

Monday June 18th, 2012

Robert Whitmer (Baseball Writer):  

            There are moments in time that stick in out head.  Moments that will define people for the rest of their days.  Most people have the birth of their children, their wedding day, or the first day on their first job.  We don’t need camcorders (for readers my age and older) or cell phones (for my younger readers who don’t know what a camcorder is) to record these images because they will be etched in our heads by our own accord.  We have these moments on the baseball field as well.  Most remember Jason Kendall for the horrific ankle injury that happened while trying to beat a throw.  You know the one where the bottom of his foot is upwards instead of downwards.  Babe Ruth was an outstanding player and the first power hitter of the game.  He is remembered for supposedly calling where his home run was going to land and backing it up by hitting it there.  Unless you watched him on a regular basis, you remember the great Willie Mays for that over-the-shoulder catch, the spin, and the throw while falling down to clear it from the outfield.  If you’re a Red Sox fan, you remember Curt Schilling, as great as he was, for that bloody sock in the World Series.  Often times, if we look beyond these moments, we see careers that should define the player but often do not.  You don’t have to be a legend to have moments that define you.  Sometimes it’s the moments that we don’t forget, that make you a legend.  Reggie Jackson had his moment that defined him as a player, but is that all that we should remember him for? Read the rest of this entry

Johan Santana: Proving Doubters Wrong Since 2000

Sunday June 10th, 2012

Robert Whitmer (Baseball Writer):  

            Pregame:  He walks in slowly and sits in front of his locker while listening to the banter in the New York Metropolitans clubhouse between the other players.  A couple of players pat him on the shoulder and offer their “good lucks” and “go get ems” as he methodically puts his jersey around his shoulders and buttons it up; his half sleeved shirt showing slightly under the shorter sleeves of his #57 Mets jersey.  He grabs his glove, stops at the bathroom, and heads to onto the soft grass at Citi Field.  He saunters out to the home bullpen to begin his warm-up routine as he prepares to take to the bump against the defending world champions.  His mind is sharp.  He sends up a quick prayer that his changeup will be the same.  As the tosses begin to loosen up his arm, his mind drifts back to the year 2000 when he did this for the first time at the major league level.

            2000 – 2003:  Man these were a rough years.  I know one thing.  I really didn’t like coming out of the bullpen.  I’m meant to be a starter, not a reliever.  Oh and another thing.  What’s up with that minor league stint?  Sent down to perfect my changeup, bah!  I mean it helped and all, but I don’t want to be in the minors forever and sometimes I wonder if I will ever stick in this league.  Good thing it was only two months down there.  All I need is a chance to show them that I can be a quality starter and they will see; everyone will see! 

            Johan got just what he wanted in 2003.  He was transitioned 100% from reliever to starter and never looked back.  After four months of the season in the bullpen he was made a starter and recorded a win in his last eight starts of the season, helping the twins into the playoffs.  He ended the season with a 12-3 record, 3.07 ERA and tallied 169 strikeouts while walking only 48.  He showed them exactly what he could do and the front office liked it.  So much so that it earned him the right to start the ALDS against the eventual American League champion Yankees.  So the legend of the Johan begins. Read the rest of this entry

The Art of Pitching: Picassos? MLB Pitching Records That May Never Be Broken

Wednesday June 6th, 2012

Robert Whitmer:  How hard is it really to throw a baseball 60’6” (the distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate for my new to baseball readers)?  Not very hard at all, right?  Now what about throwing that baseball 60’6” at 90+ mph?  A little harder, don’t you think?  Now take that 90+ mph fastball and make it move side to side or up and down and you increase your difficulty exponentially.  What about slowing that down to 75 mph and having it start 8 inches out of the strike zone and at the last second have it drop into the top corner of the zone for strike three?  Good luck with that one.  You have your sinkerballs that are so heavily thrown that 90% of major league hitters will beat that pitch into the ground for an out every time they are lucky enough to make contact.  The highest level of baseball that I played personally was at the high school level.  I faced some pitchers that I thought were for sure going to make it in the college ranks and possibly minor league systems.  None that I know of ever did, but man were they nasty.  Pitchers are artists.  The good ones, and I don’t mean just major leaguers, I’m talking the really great ones.  The once in a lifetime hurlers, know how to paint the beautiful picture that is a pitching appearance. 

            My intention of this article is to show the Picassos of the profession by giving you five of the most amazingly good pitching records that I think will never be broken, and then the five pitching records that were painted by kindergartners that nobody really wants to break.  Oh wait….  You want my opinion on these records too!?  Ok.  Since you asked so nicely I suppose that I can indulge you.  I will start with the records nobody wants to break, and finish up with the ones that pitchers want to break, but probably never will.  So buckle up and make sure you keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times cause here we gooooo….. Read the rest of this entry

The Top-Ten MLB Batting Records: Are They Really Made to be Broken?

Wednesday May 30th, 2012

Robert Whitmer:  Baseball is the only sport where everything is tracked and recorded.  How many times did Nomar Garciaparra tap his feet in the batters box before he finally got settled and took a pitch?  I don’t know but I’m sure some guy with a clipboard has counted that on every pitch and even broken it down by situation.  Maybe he does it more on a 2-2 count than he does on a 1-2 count.  Does it really matter?  IT’S A FREAKING TOE TAP!  I don’t see how it does matter but deep down there could be some relation of number of toe taps to how his approach at the plate varies.  I remember reading an article the winter after McGwire finished his 70 home run season and he said something about people counting the number of cups of coffee that he drank in the clubhouse before each game.  I’m telling you; baseball tracks EVERYTHING!  There are single season records and career records.  I will rank, starting at the most likely to be broken to least likely, my 10 coolest hitting records that I can find. With of course, a little bit of commentary on the side. 

So….  Without further ado (I feel like David Letterman here), I have in my hand the Top-ten list for today!

HITTING

10. Career Cycles, 3, Bob Meusel, Babe Herman

            I think that this record will fall.  To complete it a player must be well-rounded.  Speed to leg out the triple, and power to knock one over the fence.  Plus we are talking career here not single season.  If this was single season it would be high up on the list.  Matt Kemp would be the one to break this one. 

9. Career Grounding Into Double Play, 350, Cal Ripken Jr.

            This I put in here mostly because I was shocked when I saw this.  I had no clue that Cal, as good of hitter as he was, grounded into that many double plays.  This one will be broken.  Vlad has done it 277 times so far.  He is a tad older but Pujols is at 237 and he has a lot of playing left in him.  Read the rest of this entry

Lance Berkman: Exit the Kitty – Enter the Puma

Monday May 28th, 2012

Robert Whitmer:  Pumas are a sleek and agile animal.  It will eat any animal it can catch.  It has no preference.  It must, however, consume red meat to survive.  There is no type of vegetables or greens for this beast.  It is the opposite of everything your mother told you to do.  Instead of chasing down its prey with speed and sprinting, it prefers to stalk its prey and stare it down.  Then, when the prey thinks that it is safe, the puma pounces and digs the ten claws at its possession into the haunches of the animal.  With one mighty snap of his jaws he breaks the neck while knocking it to the ground.  From this precisely calculated strike, the puma will feast for a week before it must start again; seeking another prey out and repeat the process with centuries of genetics telling him exactly how to execute his game plan. Such is the same with Lance “Big Puma” Berkman.  He honed his craft at Canyon High school in New Braunfels, TX (30 miles down the road from me).  He then took his talents to Rice University.  Then, after being taken with the 16th pick in the 1997 MLB draft, he began his journey to the show. 

            It had to be 2004 when I was sitting in Bank One Ballpark in downtown Phoenix, AZ.  The Diamondback were playing the Astros.  Lance Berkman was in town.  I had heard of him; seen him play on television, but never in person.  I was lucky enough to have decent enough seats (it was an empty game and I knew the seating attendant from frequenting the stadium so we got better than what we paid for) to be pretty close to the plate when Berkman stepped in.  After his first at-bat, and researching pumas for this article, I realize where he got his nickname.  Stepping into the box, he didn’t break his eye contact with the pitcher even when he was spinning himself around and trying to psych himself up to pitch to the Astros best hitter. As Berkman got set and the pitcher was getting the signs, that stare never broke.  The pitcher, content with his sign, hurled the ball toward the plate, the puma pounced on his prey.  His feet turned, his hips twisted and his claws gripping his bat, swung it around and smashed it into the ball. His prey traveled 400+ feet and hit off the Fridays Restaurant windows above the left field bleachers.  The man is an animal.  Read the rest of this entry

Stephen Strasburg: One Hit Wonder, or Platinum Artist?

Monday May 21st, 2012

Robert Whitmer:  Fate…..  It’s a funny word.  Others call it “destiny.”  It’s a word that some see one way, and others don’t even believe in it.  I believe that things happen for a reason.  I am a very religious person, but this will not turn into a religious piece.  I believe that things happen to us to teach us something so that, in the future, we can see the lesson that was taught and apply it to not make a mistake that would have cost us dearly.  Now, on the other hand of things, we still have the ability to choose if we apply those teachings in our life to avoid those situations.  People might argue that if someone believes in destiny or fate, their path has already been chosen so what is the purpose of the decisions we make.  No matter which side you are on, fate or fake, we all are going somewhere.  We all have an ability inside of us to be great.  It is up to us whether we get there or not.  Such is the same with the topic of my writing this week.  Mr. Stephen Strasburg is at a crossroads with his career.  The path that he chooses is up to him.  Right or wrong, good or bad, he has the ability to be a Justin Verlander, or a Mark Prior. Read the rest of this entry

What Could Have Been… But Wasn’t For Nomar Garciaparra

Thursday May 17th, 2012

Robert Whitmer:  Let’s play some word association. What is the first thing that you think of when you hear Nomar Garciaparra?  For me it would have to be his unique batting nuances that he has; the obsessive adjusting of the batting gloves, the toe tapping in the batters box, the rotation of the bat as he does his toe tapping.  Those are his trademarks, his calling cards, his version of a door-to-door salesman’s smile as they offer you the latest and greatest *insert unnecessary product here*. Had Nomar not been bitten (on numerous occasions) by the injury bug, he had the potential to be a “once in a lifetime” type of player.

As a supervisor of mine once told me about the word “potential;” “potential just means that you haven’t don’t s*** yet but you have the ability to do great things.”  This is the case with Nomar.  He had a Willie Mays smoothness when he was in the field.  Athletes talk about the game slowing down for them when they get accustomed to their level of competition.  This seemed to be the case for Nomar.  Now I understand that a lot of skill on the fielding side comes from hours of taking ground balls during practice, but for him it seemed to supersede that.  You almost got the idea that he knew where the ball was going before the pitcher had even gotten the sign from the catcher.  His bat had the patient swing of Ted Williams with the flash of power to knock the ball out of the park.  He had all the tools necessary to make him the kind of player you tell your kids about no matter what team you consider your favorite. Read the rest of this entry

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