Blog Archives

MLB Reports “Junior Reporter” Haley Smilow Interviews Rickie Weeks!

rickie weeks 3

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer/Website Owner):

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Haley Smilow is at it again.  This time Milwaukee Brewers 2B Rickie Weeks was on the other end of her questions.

Our Junior Reporter has now interviewed several players in the MLB over the last 2 years.  Not only that, Haley and her family have been on an epic journey to view all 30 MLB Parks.

This interview was at Miller Park.  Home of the Brewers, the sausage race and the 1st place team in the Majors currently. Read the rest of this entry

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Milwaukee Should Put Ryan Braun On The Trading Block

Ryan Braun is coming back to start the 2014 year with the Brewers, but maybe the brass should be thinking about trading him to spread out the talent pool on their young squad?  Chances are the Pirates, Reds and Cardinals are going to get the best of the you for the next few years, and you really have to take stock in the 2013 winter Free Agent's.  Their is a huge need out there for an OF like Braun.  One has to think whether or not he will be 100% ready to come back to Milwaukee - as that is a lot of baggage to go through initially.  Read the rest of the piece to see who I think could be a potential suitor!

Ryan Braun is coming back to start the 2014 year with the Brewers, but maybe the brass should be thinking about trading him to spread out the talent pool on their young squad? Chances are the Pirates, Reds and Cardinals are going to get the best of the you for the next few years, and you really have to take stock in the 2013 winter Free Agent’s. There is a huge need out there for an OF like Braun – if he were to be made available via trade. . One has to think whether or not he will be 100% ready to come back to Milwaukee – as that is a lot of baggage to go through initially. Read the rest of the piece to see who I think could be a potential suitor!

Hunter Stokes (Chief Writer): 

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Okay, I maybe a little late on my thoughts of Ryan Braun, but I wasn’t writing for this website at the time the fiasco went down.  I am not going to spend too much time talking about his suspension either.

My purpose of writing this piece is to say that the Brewers should trade the jaded superstar before they even start play in 2014.

Let’s face it, the man’s talents may be in question, however the dude put up monster numbers during 2012 – when the entire world had their sights set on him.  Yet this is different.

Braun has been exposed for the ‘Fraud’ that he is.  More than just setting a bad example, he lied to the fans of the Brewers, and to that entire town of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Read the rest of this entry

The Milwaukee Brewers Player Roster in 2013: State Of The Union Mar.10

There is a Hyperlink below to download our American League Podcast.

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Sunday, March.10, 2013

Ryan Braun's 162 Game Average is scary for Pitches.  .37 HRs, 118 RBI, 113 Runs Scored, 41-2B, 23 SB, 200 Hits and a .313/.374/.943 Slash Line

Ryan Braun’s 162 Game Average is scary for Pitches. .37 HRs, 118 RBI, 113 Runs Scored, 41-2B, 23 SB, 200 Hits and a .313/.374/.943 Slash Line.  He will be looked upon to carry the Brew Crew for yet another season in 2013.

Ben Dobson (Brewers Correspondent):

Disastrous? Horrifying? Cataclysmic? Damning? Ruinous? Unfortunately for Milwaukee Brewer baseball fans this small collection of words described the 2012 version of the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen. No season in recent memory has produced as many highs, and as many lows as did the 2012 season.

The 2013 Milwaukee Brewers will thrive with an improved bullpen, an upgraded pitching staff, and the continued success of one of the best offensive lineups in baseball. That’s a lot to go right but the ingredients are in place and currently being collected to provide Brewer fans with a World Series contender.

Back to the bullpen in 2013:  29 blown saves & ERA’s of 4.67, 4.38, 4.61, 7.68, and 3.63. Yeah, those types of numbers aren’t going to get it done as a Major League bullpen. The 2012 Milwaukee Brewers bullpen was one of the worst in baseball. On a daily basis Brewer fans rode the Bullpen Roller Coaster not knowing if they would survive.

Most Brewer fans figured John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) would level out and perform like that had in the past. Looking at 2011 and 2012 comparisons that Brewer fans logic just didn’t pan-out: Axford 2011 (1.95 ERA, 46 saves, 1.140 WHIP, and 16 earned runs) 2012 (4.67 ERA, 35 saves, 1.442 WHIP, and 36 earned runs): K-Rod 2011 (1.86 ERA, 1.138 WHIP, and 6 earned runs) 2012 (4.38 ERA, 1.333 WHIP, and 35 earned runs). Axford has the potential to bounce back from his poor 2012 season but history is not kind to Brewer closers. 

Take Derrick Turnbow for example: 2005 (1.74 ERA, 39 saves) 2006 (6.87 ERA, 24 saves) and 2007 (4.63 ERA, 1 save). Hopefully the saying “the best predictor of the future is past behavior” applies with Axford as the Brewers long-term solution at closing games. K-Rod would be a welcome addition back to the bullpen (said no one) so the Brewers will have to look elsewhere for the much-needed bullpen help.

Milwaukee Brewers Highlights 2012:

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The Chicago Cubs Schedule In 2013: (The Wrigley Field Ticket Is Still The Best Pure Baseball Experience)

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Saturday, January.26, 2013

Wrigley Field might just be the best place just to watch a baseball game (Fenway Park rivals it for entire ballpark experience).  AT &T Park and PNC Psrk usually round out the top 4 Parks

Wrigley Field might just be the best place just to watch a baseball game (Fenway Park rivals it for entire ballpark experience). AT &T Park and PNC Park usually round out the top 4 Parks

By Richie Devotie (MLB Schedule Correspondent): and Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer/Website Owner) 

I love Wrigley Field more than any other park just to watch a game. 

Having been to all of the MLB Parks a minimum of 3 times (and most closer to 5 and above) – there is something so unique about this baseball cathedral that makes me think it is the 1920s still.

We have another video presentation from our Baseball Schedule Correspondent’ Richie Devotie down below that has all of the Cubs opponents in the upcoming season in 2013 – plus a recap of how the team fared in 2012. 

After viewing it – plus read about one of the craziest, yet rewarding days of my ballpark chaser streaks. 

The setup to this was that I was 13 days into my 1st World Record Attempt – at breaking the category of “The Fastest Person to view a full game at all 30 MLB Parks”. 

I had already had to restart my streak attempt after some chaos that happened just a few days prior.  This day in Chicago would be my 3rd straight day of trying to fit 2 games in on one day. 

On the 1st day of the new streak, I nailed a doubleheader between Petco Park (day game) and Dodger Stadium (night game). 

I then boarded an overnight flight to Detroit (at 1 AM- Arrival in Motown at 10:30 AM.  I was poised to watch a day game at Comerica Park (1:05 PM) – before jettisoning 168 Miles to Cleveland right after for a 7:05 PM start at Progressive. 

The Tigers looked to nail down a victory until Todd “the Hammer” Jones blew the save by letting the Twins tie it up in the ninth – to prolong the game into extra innings. 

An hour later and the game finally ended but I couldn’t even try to head to Cleveland.  So I made my way to Chicago/Milwaukee.  I had a Wrigley Field/Miller Park doubleheader. 

The next day after – I was to fly to Toronto to see the Yankees play.  2 days after that, I would see if I could hit on a Nationals Park/Shea Stadium Sunday day/night double-header.

It would be 4 doubleheader attempts in 5 days.  I was only 1 for 2 so far.

Richie Devotie Presents His Power Point Cubs 2013 Schedule Breakdown

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MLB Trade Deadline Update #5 7/28: Segura Traded, Scutaro to San Francisco, Reds Looking for Leadoff Hitter

Saturday July 28th, 2012

Sam Evans: With the MLB Non-Waiver Trade Deadline coming up on Tuesday, let’s look at what trades have recently happened, and what could happen in the coming days:

Read the rest of this entry

Top 10 Stat of the Week ( Career HRs With One Team )

Sunday June.24/2012

‘Hammering’ Hank passed the legendary Babe Ruth as the ALL-Time HR leader in 1974. Some still feel that he is the ALL-Time HR leader with the admitted steroid use from Leader Barry Bonds. –Photo courtesy of goldenagebaseballcards

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)-  Seemingly gone are the days where most of the MLB players stick with one team for their whole careers.  As of right now there are not too many superstars that have spent their entire careers with one organization.  Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera are 1st ballot Hall of Famers.  Chipper Jones should make the BBHOF.  Todd Helton is close to retiring but I am not sure the voters will see him worthy.  There are some promising chances that Ryan Braun and David Wright might play their entire careers with their current clubs, however with Braun’s PED fiasco last year I just don’t see him entering Cooperstown.  Wright must re-sign with the ownership hemorrhaging, this will prove hard for the Wilpons funds thanks to Bernie Madoff.  When it comes to starting pitching, the list is shrunken that much further.  Justin Verlander is the active win leader with a player only having played for one team.  He has 114 wins with the Tigers, anybody above him on the active ALL-Time Wins list has pitched for multiple teams already.  The next active leader for one team pitched for is Ervin Santana with 91 wins for the Angels franchise.  Felix Hernandez has 90 wins for the Mariners.  Tim Lincecum, Cole Hamels and Matt Cain have played their entire careers for the same team so far and have CY Young titles amongst them, but have a long way to go in establishing Hall of Fame Careers.

That brings me to my next stat.  There are 9 players in history who have hit 500 HRs or more for one team.  All of them are in the Hall of Fame except for Barry Bonds (who becomes eligible next year.) I am not sure the writers will cast a vote for him because of his steroid use.  When I got the idea for this article, it came to be because I was amazed that Paul Konerko has hit over 400 HRs with the Chicago White Sox.  Again at age 36, Konerko has a look at 500 HRs with the Chicago team.  Right now he can end the season with about 410-420 HRs.  Provided he can play 3-4 years more and have productive seasons, he may reach the milestone.  Chipper Jones is the only other active MLB Player to have 400 HRs with one team.  Larry is slowing down though and will most likely retire after this year.  Read the rest of this entry

The Milwaukee Brewers: Planning for 2012 and Beyond

Friday June 15th, 2012

                                                                                                                                      

Image Courtesy of MLB.SI.com

Brendan Henderson: 

                The Milwaukee Brewers are currently sitting in fourth in the NL Central division with a sub-par 28-33 record. Yes, that’s a decent record but I mentioned that it was “sub-par” because baseball fans are used to seeing the Brewers with a better record, but the Brewers lost Prince Fielder to free agency and they lost Alex Gonzalez this year due to injury.

                The Brewers are still in good shape to finish the year near the top of the NL Central, which is why I think they will be buyers at the trade deadline. As I mentioned above the team lost their shortstop, Alex Gonzalez for the season, the team had Cesar Izturis playing shortstop but he also got injured and he is currently on the 15 day DL. So the Brewers currently have Edwin Maysonet playing shortstop. Izturis was batting for a .216 in 31 games played and Maysonet is currently batting .200 in 23 games so there isn’t much difference in offense production between the two, in my opinion the Brewers need to get some offense production from their shortstop which is why I think the Brewers need and will go after a shortstop at the trade deadline. The teams ahead of them in the divison standings (Pirates,Reds, and Cardinals) are all not unbeatable teams. They still have a chance to make a playoff run, which is why I think they need to be buyers at the trade deadline. The Brewers need some more offense fire power if they want to make a run. Read the rest of this entry

Report on the Travel Companies of the 30 MLB Cities

Friday, May.11/2012

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024) -After logging 65,000 miles from planes, trains, subways, Buses and other methods of transportation in one month, I am left with some thoughts about certain companies.  I don’t believe in trashing a company based on one incident or a rogue employee, so I will leave the negativity for a future travel book.  I will say that my four favorite travel companies helped me tremendously.  I am not just saying this because they helped me out on my trip, I wrote about the same four companies in my book ‘The Fastest 30 Ballgames.’  I am also happy to say that these companies had no blame for the half of dozen mishaps that caused me cancellations or delays during the streak.   The mishaps were a poorly executed plane de-boarding at IAH airport that cost a doubleheader attempt in Texas.  The second plane issue was some sort of mechanical failure that the airline gave up after 30 minutes of trying only in San Diego. The worst blunder was having the seat belt of the first officer not close properly cause an hour delay.  Other mishaps were a failure to understand car rental procedures right in Cleveland costing me an hour delay.  But that wasn’t as egregious as a hotel chain overcharging me three separate time for a hotel booking even though I cancelled way in advance.  All of these are about the average for the amount of traveling .  The four companies that stood above the rest are: Southwest Airlines, Air Tran Airways, Best Western Hotel Chain and National Car Rental. Read the rest of this entry

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

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.

MLB Ball Park Staff Can Make a World of Difference

Monday March 19, 2012

‘Douglas Chuck Booth’ (Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- In 2007, MLB Opening Week experienced massive snowstorms along the Eastern Seaboard.  Several teams had to cancel games and reschedule them for later in the year.  I happened to have a bought a car near London, Ontario that I was driving all the way across America to return to Vancouver B.C Canada that week.  As I was visiting baseball parks, they were being snowed out.  I tried for the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati only for it to have been snowed out.  I extended my trip by a day to make up the game in Cincy.  I watched the game in a snow storm.  I then went to Cleveland to try my luck at Progressive Field.  By the time I made it to the park, it was under a foot of snow.  I had been hoping to see a doubleheader with the Seattle Mariners being the away team.  Not the case, at least I parked at the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame and had something to do in Cleveland instead of watching baseball. Read the rest of this entry

Field of Dreams Movie Site Traveler Guide

Friday, March.02/2012

If you build

it……………….

They will come!!


Douglas ‘Chuck’ Booth (Baseball Writer)- If you are a baseball fan, chances are you have seen one of the best baseball movies all time in “Field Of Dreams”. From sitting on the same benches of Kevin Costner, to viewing the Field that happens to have been built after plowing down a corn field, this place is a perfect day trip for the avid baseball fan! One story I heard was so good I am passing it on to you.

A group of baseball players that played ‘extras in the field’ during the filming of the movie continued to play a regular Sunday night game after the picture went to Hollywood.  Tourists liked this idea so much that they asked the Land Owners if they could have the players play every year.

The following year, and unbeknownst to a 300 passenger bus of Japanese Tourists (in the middle of the night mind you), the group of ball players walked through the cornfields and reached the grass in the outfield as the tourists gasped with nervous energy.  The tour guide never told this group that these players were to arrive.  The Japanese tourists cheered feverishly as the players took the field and played.

 The Japanese tourists were so impressed with the caliber of play (and for what these ball players had done for them), that they hired these two teams to travel all throughout the Japan year-round and play exhibition style games.  All of the extras (who all had played semi-pro in some fashion) had a great career now.  Even to this day, there is a new generation of men playing with the old style “Sox” jerseys.

QUICK TIPS:

Fly into Milwaukee via Air Tran on any flight you can find from the best Airline in America.  Try to tie it in with the Chicago teams, Milwaukee, St. Louis or Minnesota on a baseball vacation.  Luckily for you, Milwaukee is one of the cheaper cities to rent a car, and/or pay for lodging. Use Priceline (www.priceline.com) to bid on your hotel rooms-and you will be amazed at what price you will only have to pay.

To drive to the Field of Dreams Movie Site will take you about 4 hours from the Milwaukee International Airport.  The park is still as beautiful as it was when the movie was a hit nearly a quarter-century ago.  This amazing landmark must be on a baseball fan’s bucket list.  Not only is it a fantastic attraction- but there is no cover charge to see the Field!

Those who visit are welcome to bring bats, balls and gloves to break out in a pick-up game.  Visitors from all over will just come and do the same.  Be sure to buy something from the gift shop on your way out as that is how the kind landowners are able to keep up the maintenance of this truly amazing ballpark in Iowa.

*******There is a Best Western in Dodgeville,  which is a 90 minute drive North East from this movie site-where you can stay for under $100 a night.  Dodgeville does have a Walmart and is one of the nicest heritage towns in America.

So be like James Earl Jones & Kevin Costner and GO THE DISTANCE!!!!

*** Thank you to our Baseball Writer- Douglas “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 click here for Chuck’s website, fastestthirtyballgames.com***

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.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.

Sample of what my Friday Travel Blog will Cover

Friday, February 03, 2012 

Douglas ‘Chuck’ Booth (Baseball Writer)- Since writing about traveling to ballparks  is what I know most about, I thought I would take the next 9 weeks (before the season starts) writing articles that extensively go through every part of my expertise.  Over the course of the last five years I have done countless hours of research on this subject matter, so I am going to share my information with you in hopes you may save some time or money this 2012 MLB season.  I am sharing my knowledge of: baseball tickets, maps, frequent flier miles/reward points, car rentals vs. driving your own car, hotels, airports and finally time management & budgeting.  Here is a sneak preview of what I will be posting.

Car Rentals

  The best way to ensure that you have money available on your credit card, (keeping in mind that most rental places take a $200 minimum deposit), is to bid on your car through www.priceline .com. There is a feature where you can bid on your car rental for specific airport locations called ‘BID NOW.’  You can offer a price that you have to pay immediately, but in most cases you will find a serious discount. I have often bid 40% of the average car rental per airport price and had the offer go through.  Anyways, 80% of the time your winning bid will come back to rent from Alamo/National Car Rental.

Car Rentals

 Alamo/National is the best car rental company by far in the United States. Not only do they have exceptional customer service—–they also do not charge your credit card for any $ amount more than the price of your rental. Do yourself a favor and also sign up for ‘The Emerald Club Rewards Program’ from National. They have airport bypass the counter options that enable you to USE self-serving kiosks that do not require you to stand in line at the car centers-rather pick your class of car and proceed to the exit. Other car rental companies have deposit charges that are held against your credit card.  If you are going on a 4 city trip, you can easily have up to $800-1000 dollars locked up in these deposits, this can be harmful in you enjoying your trip. Not all of us have the affordability to have so much money unavailable. An average of 5-8 days is what it will take for the deposited dollars to be restored when your car rental is completed.  National is the only car rental company in which you can redeem a free earned day car rental for a one-way drop off without paying an excessive fee if you have earned a free rental reward day.  I will give you an example.  This means you can rent a car in Los Angeles and drop it off it Albuquerque, New Mexico within the 24 hours for no money extra.  Also with this incredible deal, is that you pay just pennies in taxes for your accrued free rental days, where other car rental places can charge up to $20-30 just in taxes alone despite offering you the free day for a rental reward.  Perfect for that baseball traveler that wants to head in one direction!

Priceline

Priceline is great for bidding on car rentals, but is also fantastic for hotel rentals where you can use the same option to bid for your price of hotels. Honestly, when we are all in the middle of a big baseball road trip, the last thing we want is to spend excessive amounts of money on a hotel we are not going to use other than a quick sleep and shower.   Wouldn’t you rather spend a lot more time at the ball yard?  Again by bidding on the hotel, and paying for it right away you can ensure on a more of a budget/cost certainty. Even if the front desks take a small deposit at time of check in—these transactions are quickly released when you check out. The best to bid  is too low-ball your first few offers, then gradually increase your bidding. Now Priceline does make you alter your bid for every declined request you submit, so the key is to not act aggressive in frustration when you don’t win the bid.  The key here is to be patient.  After 24 hours, you can re-open up all columns to bid again with an increased offer from your first one. Just chart your offers to slightly increase your amount until you have success. I would not suggest you use Priceline for airline flights because the winning bid will usually feature layovers, or more importantly, the times of the flights on won bids may not be conducive to arriving in time for a baseball game in your destination city.

HOTELS

For those economy travelers such as myself, I implore you to use Motel 6 and/or Super 8 as hotel chains to stay throughout the USA. They are decent hotels for the $value you pay. The best feature about these hotels is the ability to check in by 11am-12pm. Most 3-5 star hotels have check in times that start and 3 or 4pm. Again if you are flying or driving in from some other place do you really want to drive around for 3-4 hours sight-seeing because you are simply waiting for a check in time?  Most baseball parks open their gates by 5PM for night games.  Plus with these places cash is preferred, so they do not require a deposit on your credit card. If you are staying in the same city or have sufficient time to stay in one hotel, I would recommend you use Priceline to bid on your hotels. You can save up to 50% off with winning bids on 2-5 star hotels. Keep in mind that most of those hotels can save you money vs the budget hotels, with their free breakfasts.

Travel Note:Traveling to other cities with luggage is hard to finagle sometimes. When arriving in a new city, there may be time constraints or monetary issues that make you think about your luggage. Before you make any purchases for your trip, you must be cognizant of where your luggage will be at all times throughout the travel. You will not be allowed to bring your suitcase through security at the ball parks. Most cities will not even allow you to bring a briefcase into the games. So therein is a dilemma. If you are able to make it to your hotel before the game then your luggage will be okay.  The same can be said if you have rented a car. The toughest games for luggage management are day games when arriving from other cities. For the Eastern Seaboard there is an ally you can use—and it is called ‘Amtrak.’

Amtrak Trains/Greyhound Buses

Both of these methods of transportation are  a great way to see a bunch of baseball games fast while missing a lot of cluttered highway traffic, particularly in: New York-Baltimore-Washington-Philadelphia-Chicago-Milwaukee. Not only will you save gas/traffic scenarios-but Amtrak has a baggage check option at most stations for $3-4 dollars an item per day. All you have to do is have an itinerary, (coming or going) and you can check your luggage items. You will have to monitor the hours of operation for these places-however this option is exceptional when attending matinée games in any of these cities. New York’s Amtrak Station-(New York Penn Station), is a life saver when you can drop off your luggage and avoid renting a car. ‘Greyhound Bus Lines’ is also a good alternative for this in the cities of : Tampa Bay-Miami-Los Angeles-San Diego-Minnesota-Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Kayak.com

Early morning flights are usually the cheapest airfares. I always use www.kayak.com when booking flights into baseball cities.  If you are flying to cities like Cincinnati-Milwaukee-Detroit-Houston-Atlanta-or Dallas you may be shocked at how much they charge for flights. There is a way to get back at those airlines. I have done the following several times. Since these are hubs for other cities from big airlines,  I would check flights from your starting departure and use your intended city of these listed above as a stop-over and then you can walk off the plane during the stop-over if it is cheaper—-and providing you are traveling without checked baggage—example.  Three years ago I had to fly from Pittsburgh to Detroit during a double-header attempt for the first day of my World Record Chase. I needed a Pittsburgh Northwest Airlines flight that left at 5:15 PM  directly to Detroit that arrived at 6:28 PM—it was the only non-stop flight that I could get that would give me a chance to make the Detroit game on time. There was a problem when the price came back was $500  for what was less than a 500 mile flight!  I went to work with my strategy.  I came up with a flight from Pittsburgh to Chicago-with the 1st leg of the trip being my flight that arrived in Detroit at 6:28 as the layover.  The price for this flight was $130. There are many instances of this. I will explain more in the book how I used this scenario for a flexible schedule in case of make-up games.

Air Lines Best To Fly With:

Southwest Airlines-‘I wanna get away’ feature at http://www.southwest.com is a good price point for all of this airline’s domestic flights.  Southwest might be marginally higher in price than some other airlines, however they do not charge for the 1st 2 checked bags as you may have seen from their steady TV Ad Campaign.  They also do not charge transfer flight fees.  This airline is setting the pace for customer price gouging acknowledgement.

Air Tran Airways-Quite frankly, they are the best airline in the USA for MLB fans.  They are cheap, have newer airplanes with the most leg space for a coach ticket. They also offer more one-way non-stop tickets in the morning.  Oh yeah…They are the official airline of XM Sirius Radio.  You can listen to MLB games live in flight, or during off hours you can catch up on all of your favorite shows on XM Home Plate.  Air Tran only charges $75 in case you have to change your flight at anytime plus the difference in flight.  This price is half of most of the legacy airlines.  Should you miss your Air Tran flight they also let you fly stand-by for the rest of the day on any remaining flights to your city of destination.

This is just the start as I will provide a game plan for all of  the 30 MLB cities.  I will take a look at all facets/methods of travel-that will include money and time-saving tips.   After all, don’t we all want to see as many baseball games as we can without being hit in the pocket-book?

*** Thank you to our Baseball Writer- Doug Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports.  To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Doug Booth, you can follow Doug on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and click here Doug’s website, fastestthirtyballgames.com*** 

 

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On the Verge: Brett Lawrie Call Up by Jays is Imminent

Thursday August 4, 2011

 

Rob Bland (Intern- MLB Reports):  The Brett Lawrie rollercoaster started December 6th, 2010.  Lawrie was sent to Toronto in exchange for Toronto’s incumbent ace, Shaun Marcum.  Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos immediately said that Lawrie would be working out at third base, switching from second base.  This would be Lawrie’s third major position change in 3 years.  He was drafted out of Langley, BC by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1st round (16th overall) of the 2008 MLB draft.  That year, Toronto held the 17th pick, and it was said that they coveted him greatly.  They instead had to settle for college first baseman and current AAA prospect, David Cooper.

Lawrie hit .293 in spring training this year, while playing decent enough third base to warrant a discussion of keeping him on the roster.  However, Anthopoulos deemed he was not ready to play in the Major Leagues, and the fans in Toronto grumbled as the Blue Jays consistently put Edwin Encarnacion at third base to start the year.  Lawrie started off hot in AAA Las Vegas, and played good defense.  This still wasn’t enough, as the Jays asked him to be more patient and change his approach.  Lawrie did just that, and by May 31st, was hitting over .350 with power and walking more often than he had in the past.  When the Jays were on the brink of calling him up (see our Report from June 2nd), Lawrie was hit by an errant pitch on the back of his left hand.  Blue Jays fans collectively held their breath, and Lawrie declared it was a bruise.  Two days later when swelling subsided, it was found out that Lawrie had a non-displaced fracture.

When he finally returned to Las Vegas in the middle of July, Lawrie came right back to where he left off.  He is now hitting .352 with 18 home runs and 61 RBI.  More importantly, he has 26 walks and is playing much improved defense.  Now, the Jays’ faithful are continuing to call for him.  Anthopoulos and manager John Farrell have repeatedly said “he’s close” and that they want to get him everyday at bats before rosters expand in September.

Now, when Lawrie gets the inevitable call (my guess being Friday, August 5th, before the beginning of a road series in Baltimore), where will he play?  The Jays have Jose Bautista, one of the top three players in baseball at third base.  Well, the plan that Anthopoulos has set out is that Bautista would shift back to his preferred right field, creating a logjam of young and talented outfielders.  Travis Snider is 23 years old and he will play every day at one of the corner positions.  Colby Rasmus is 24 years old and will be in center for the foreseeable future.  That leaves Eric Thames, also 24, the corner outfielder who came out of seemingly nowhere to win the love and admiration of many fans, on the bench.  You could say that Thames can just DH because he isn’t the best fielder of the bunch (although more than adequate and constantly improving), but where does Edwin Encarnacion play then?  Encarnacion is one of the hottest hitters in all of baseball since the beginning of July.  He has 9 doubles, 4 home runs, and 14 RBI with 12 walks in 25 games over that span.  Thames most likely gets optioned to AAA to get every day at bats until rosters expand in September.  Here is how that lineup stacks up.

Yunel Escobar – SS
Colby Rasmus – CF
Jose Bautista – RF
Adam Lind – 1B
Edwin Encarnacion – DH
Travis Snider – LF
Brett Lawrie – 3B
J.P. Arencibia – C
Aaron Hill –  2B

If one of these players is traded, then there won’t be a problem.  The only other option barring a trade, is something that Anthopoulos has stated adamantly will not happen.  Moving Lawrie to second base and sitting former Silver Slugger Aaron Hill on the bench.  This could possibly be the best option available for both the short-term and long-term.  With Hill underperforming (ranked 20th out of 21 qualified 2nd baseman in WAR), and his $8M option for 2012 likely to be declined, Lawrie could slot into that spot for a very long time.  Anthopoulos has preached having talent and skill “in the middle of the diamond” and second base is a spot that sorely needs some stability after Hill’s last two years.  The only thing that could stop this movement is if Anthopoulos sees Hill, who is a good defender, as a guy who can turn his career back around.  If Hill were placed in the 9 hole, and changed his approach, he could be a very serviceable player there.  One idea that has been bandied around is that the Jays decline the option on Hill, and sign him to a much smaller deal to bring him back as the second baseman.

I honestly believe that Anthopoulos has the wheels turning, and with Encarnacion being so hot, many teams would love to take him on to make a push for the playoffs.  If Encarnacion is not in the picture, there is a spot for Thames as a full-time player.  He and Snider would probably split time between left field and DH, with Bautista in right, and Lawrie at third.

What gets lost in all of this, is that the Opening Day center fielder, might become a 5th outfielder.  Rajai Davis  has 33 stolen bases, and is playing better in a part-time role since Rasmus joined the team.  He will be reserved to being a pinch runner, and possibly a late inning defensive replacement for Thames.

The odd man out for this year seems to be Thames, even though the Blue Jays see him as a valuable asset for the long-term.  Whether that means for him to be on the field, or using him as a trade chip remains to be seen.  Lawrie will likely end up playing third base every day, proving why the Jays gave up Marcum for an unproven “troubled” prospect. 

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Rob Bland.  We highly encourge 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 Rob on Twitter.***

 

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