Blog Archives

Philadelphia Phillies Trade Possibilities

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Monday July.29, 2013

The year started with the struggles of one of their ace pitchers, followed by injuries off and on to other key players.  With Halladay potentially coming back at the end of the year, plus talk of possibly signing him to an incentive laden contract for 2014, added with a new deal for Chase Utley, the Phils are hoping to extend their chance of a contender for one more year.  Improved play from Domonic Brown and Ben Revere (before being hurt) - has cause for optimism in 2014.  They will need to find a 3B, Catcher and 3rd OF, however that won't require the farm being spent.  Today we examine the possible moves by Ruben Amaro Jr.  at the Trade Deadline

The year started with the struggles of two of their three ace pitchers, followed by injuries off and on to other key players – including Doc Halladaay. With their former ‘CY Young Winner’ potentially coming back at the end of the year, plus talk of possibly signing him to an incentive laden contract for 2014, added with a new deal for Chase Utley, the Phils are hoping to extend their chance of a contender for at least one more year ‘next campaign’. Improved play from Domonic Brown and Ben Revere (before being hurt) – also has cause for optimism in 2014. They will need to find a 3B, a Catcher, a new Closer and a 3rd OF, however that won’t require the farm being spent. Today we examine the possible moves by Ruben Amaro Jr. at the Trade Deadline this year before we get to that point.

By Chris Creighton (Phillies Correspondent via http://www.warrroomphilly.com – visit the website here

The time has come, Phillies fans. Make no mistake about what you’re seeing on the field and reading in the papers, sell mode has now become a reality.

Perhaps I may be channeling my inner Captain Obvious, but for the sake of those still holding out hope, change is a-comin’.

After the ugliest road trip in recent memory mercifully came to an end, the Philadelphia Sports Media pulled no punches welcoming several Phillies players to Seller-dome.

Carlos Ruiz Highlights 2012 – Mature Lyrics So Parental Guidance Is Advised

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Florida Baseball and The San Juan Rays

Thursday November 15th, 2012

Alex Mednick (Baseball Writer and Analyst)

Last week Jonathan Hacohen, the founder of MLBReports.com called to my attention that the Tampa Bay Rays are an anomaly.  Ultimately, if you look at the way their team is structured and where their talent lays, and the kind of game that Joe Maddon manages the Rays are ultimately a National League team; displaced in the AL East.  The Rays greatest strength is their depth of pitching that they can reach into the bowels of an amazing farm system ripe with young talent.  But from there on out, they rely on an offense that generates runs due to other inefficiencies.

Joe Maddon might very well be the best manager in baseball. He possesses a unique approach to the game, that if had to be categorized, is definitely more national league style than american league. He has to be creative in how he manufactures runs, as his offense does not boast the big sluggers other AL East teams do. He does, however, have a plethora of pitching talent available.

With B.J. Upton leaving town, and Carlos Pena only a carcass of what he once was, there is ultimately zero power left in their lineup.  Their DH for the past two years have been the likes of an aging Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, and Luke Scott.  Ownership is constantly complaining about attendance and looking for bargain free agents like Johnny Damon to bring in at the end of their careers and hopefully attract some Yankees and Red Sox fans to the stadium.

At this point, the Rays power hitters are Evan Longoria, Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist.  They have an amazing nucleus of pitching talent, including David Price who just won the AL Cy Young, and they are mentioning trading almost all of their starting pitchers.  This is understandable, as you have to dish out talent to bring back offensive talent that they are in great need of.  But I still have major gripes with the way owner Stuart Sternberg has approached the past 4 seasons in St. Petersburg, and I will get into more detail about this in a little while. Read the rest of this entry

Nick Swisher to Washington: The Nationals Are Looking to Add a Key Free Agent Bat to Their Lineup

Tuesday November 13th, 2012

Kyle Holland:  On Saturday, the Nationals announced that they were re-signing manager Davey Johnson for the 2013 season. With the Nats clearing up the managerial situation it leaves the rest of their offseason for signing free agents. One free agent they will start with is outfielder/first baseman Nick Swisher.

Swisher would be a great fit in a Washington uniform. He just recently rejected the Yankees offer of $13.3 million for one more year in New York. With Adam LaRoche declining his qualifying offer from the Nationals, they could let him walk and sign Swisher. Swisher has been known to play first base along with his usual outfield, so he could be a great replacement for LaRoche. Added versatility is always a bonus in today’s game. Read the rest of this entry

Philadelphia Phillies: Brotherly Love and the Upton Brothers

Saturday November 3rd, 2012

 

Can Phillies Phans fathom having these big-league-brothers manning the outfield at Citizen’s Bank Park?

Alex Mednick (Baseball Analyst and Writer):  Both B.J. Upton and his younger brother Justin will be available this offseason.  Bossman Junior (B.J.) will be a top centerfield free agent option, and Justin signed a lucrative 6-year deal just two years ago, is widely known to be on the trading block from Arizona.  The Upton brothers are the two highest drafted brothers in sports history.  B.J. was a second overall pick in 2002 and Justin, the first overall pick of the 2005 draft.  They have both had ups and downs in their young careers, but both have performed extremely well and shown glimpses of brilliance.  Justin has already cashed in on his first big major league contract, and B.J. is looking to so this offseason.  Where B.J. will sign, we will find out over the next months.  But one thing that is clear…he makes since for just about any team out there.

The Philadelphia Phillies are one of those teams that could envision B.J. Upton gracefully patrolling centerfield for 162 games.  As a premier center fielder facing free agency, B.J. as become far too expensive a commodity for the Rays to retain going forward.  He plays top-notch defense in centerfield and has a cannon for an arm.  All he did in 2012 as 27-year-old (in his 8th year in the MLB) was hit 29 doubles, 28 home runs and steal 31 bags.  Yes, with this amazing tool set that combines defense with speed and power comes a lifetime .255 batting average and about 150 strikeouts a year.  There are weaknesses in every player’s game, but B.J. Upton’s strengths make him a very attractive target for any team that doesn’t have Joe DiMaggio manning centerfield.

There is no doubt that B.J.’s speed and power will fit very nicely into the Phillies lineup along with Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard.  We have to also consider what it is going to take to get B.J. signed to a contract.  Right now, we know that the Tampa Bay Rays have offered B.J. a qualifying offer.  While the chances of B.J. agreeing to this are virtually ‘zero’, it does mean that whoever signs B.J. is going to have to sacrifice their first round draft pick next year to Tampa.  For a team like Philadelphia that can afford to sign top free agents, giving up a top prospect is an acceptable part of doing business. Read the rest of this entry

The Philadelphia Phillies Part 1 of 4: ‘The Franchise’

Friday August.17/2012

Note from Chuck Booth:  I am attempting to bring the history for each of the 30 MLB Franchises into a 5 part series that will focus on 1. The teams history. 2. The hitters 3. The pitchers. 4.  The Team’s Payroll going into in 2013 and 5. (The stadium articles will all be done next summer when I go to all of the parks in under a month again.)  To follow all of the updates, be sure to check my author page with a list of all archived articles here.

It took the Phillies 77 years to win their first World Series in 1980, however since that time, they have been to 4 more World Series:  In 1983, 1993, 2008 and 2009, while taking home the Trophy in 2008.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer):  The Phillies started as a franchise in 1883 in the city of Philadelphia-and have the longest continued stretch as their original name.  It has been a club that suffered tremendous droughts for the player and fans alike.  Only in recent vintage (since 1975) has this team come into permanent prominence, with the now Hall of Fame Mike Schmidt entering  the league and turning the fortunes of the city.  From signing Pete Rose to put them over the top for their 1st World Series Trophy, to just re-signing Cole Hamels to a 144 Million Dollar Contract, the team has been adamantly aggressive in keeping its name amongst the elite in baseballs annals. 

One could even argue that the Phillies had been the best team in baseball from 2008 up until the start of this season.  I recently named this club the best team from the years 1980-1983 and then again for the years of 2008-2009.  But before the likes of: Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, or Curt Schilling, Lenny Dykstra and Darren Daulton, or Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton and Pete Rose, they were plenty of other men who left a mark on this historic NL Franchise.  We will look at all of the significant players that ever played for the club as a pitcher or hitter.  The pitchers and hitters will be focused on solely in the next 2 weeks.  Let us look and how the team has fared in its history.

Here are the final pitches of the 2008 World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays. Property of Major League Baseball & Fox.

For Part 2 of The 4 Part Philles Article Series: The Hitters, click here.

For Part 3 of  The 4 Part Phillies Article Series:  The Pitchers- click here

For Part 4 of the Phillies Article Series:  Team Payroll and Contractual Statuses click here

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2012 Waiver Deals: The First Wave

Friday August 3rd, 2012

Bernie Olshansky:  Now that the trade deadline is over, teams will have a harder time making trades, but they can still be made through waivers. Over the past few hours, a couple trades have been made.

Joe Blanton to the Dodgers

The Dodgers claimed Blanton off waivers and decided to trade for him. They offered to pay the rest of his contract–$2.9 million, and send a player to be named later. After failing to land a big-name starter like Ryan Dempster or James Shields, the Dodgers went after Blanton. Blanton will bring his 8-9 record and 4.59 ERA to Los Angeles for the stretch-run this season. His best season ERA-wise was his rookie year in 2005 with the A’s when he went 12-12 with a 3.53 ERA. Since then, his lowest ERA has been 3.95. Before the 2010 season, he signed a three-year $24 million dollar contract with the Phillies—I think they overpaid. In those three years, Blanton has gone 18-17. He should give the Dodgers a slight boost, but this move isn’t a season-changer.

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A Busch Stadium Book Excerpt from ‘The Fastest Thirty Ballgames’

Friday, Aug.03/2012

Game#25 Day#24
Busch Stadium
St. Louis, MO
Aug.01/2008

I never thought anything was going to equal the previous day. We had arrived back at my brother’s house to spend a quality morning with my nieces and nephew—and Trent’s wife Kristy before returning to the road. It was a quick trip from Philadelphia to St. Louis. It was going to cost us a fortune to all take the shuttle into the Hilton at $17 each-so I got us on the next transportation shuttle bus, and then negotiated a deal with Budget to give me an extra few hours head start on the 24 hour time line  airport rule—so I would not have to return after the St. Louis game to pick up the Mini-SUV, which had been the original plan.

Budget was awesome to let me have this deal early. I am a Fast Break member with them-and have/had spent a lot of money with them. We got a Mitsubishi SUV. My brothers thought it was a little small, but for a $65.00 rental that started out in St. Louis and ended up the next day in Minnesota-it was a great deal. Yes we had a five-hour drive from St. Louis to Chicago tomorrow, but we were all tough guys. I once again told them-“welcome to my world.”
That day in St. Louis was myopic. My brother Trent knew a guy at head office St. Louis, and that gentlemen made a few calls and arranged for my dad and I too receive ‘Field Passes’-and to be interviewed by Fox-Sports Midwest. I was almost in disbelief of that option, but it was now going to happen later that day. This experience was even better because none of us had been to new Busch Stadium-so all of us were there for the first time. Overall it was my 29th stadium so I only had “The Ballpark In Arlington” for stadiums left to complete my active 30. Much like Coors, Safeco and AT&T Park, the red-brick around the whole Stadium at Busch Stadium is top-notch. Read the rest of this entry

The First Five Games of The Streak

Tuesday April.10/2012

Douglas “Chuck” Booth at Citi April 9th

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024)- Well, I finally get a chance to breathe for one second.  Too bad it was at the expense of the events that transpired yesterday.  Contrary to popular belief, this world record streak is not a walk in the park. Traveling is a hard thing to do at the best of times.  I will break down the trip synopsis game by game.  I am breaking down the travel games at Parks day by day. Read the rest of this entry

An Interview with Citizens Bank Ball Park Expert Kurt Smith

Monday Apr.09/2012

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

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

KS: “For most of my life I have lived in South Jersey, which is unquestionably Philly sports country, and currently I live about a 20-minute drive from Citizens Bank Park. I grew up an Orioles fan, though, and while going to games at Veterans Stadium was fun, as a kid I absolutely lived for the two or three trips the family made to Memorial Stadium every year to see our Birds. It was much more fun being an O’s fan back then and Memorial was a great ballpark. I still miss it. But in recent years it’s been great to see the Phillies rack up division titles and a World Series championship, especially in a city that hadn’t seen a championship in 26 years. Citizens Bank Park is such a great improvement over the Vet and the Phillies and their tremendous pitching staff have become a great team to watch. I wouldn’t say I’m a Phillies fan yet, but when my daughter is old enough to go to games there she may change my mind!”

DB: “Describe the whole idea behind your website www.ballparkeguides.com?

KS: “Many baseball fans, myself included, go to ballgames and maybe don’t get a good seat, or pay too much for tickets and parking, or they aren’t aware of some of the great food items at the ballpark. The Ballpark E-Guides website gives a few pointers on seating, getting there and food, and tells you which games on the team’s schedule are likely to be low demand. And if people like what they read, I’ve thoroughly researched 14 major league ballparks to create the actual E-Guides. For $5 you can download a PDF-format illustrated guide to any of 14 major league ballparks, and I like to think you’ll easily get much more than your money’s worth with the information contained in them, from getting tickets, to seating, to getting there and all of the food items. I couldn’t believe how much I was missing out on doing the research for them!”

DB: “Citizens Bank Park has been over 102% for the last several years, tell people what they should expect about buying tickets in Philadelphia?”

KS: “Philadelphia is a city that is so weary of the Eagles underachieving in grand fashion every year that they will embrace a winning team religiously, and so every Phillies game sells out. The Phillies don’t offer a lot in the way of deals or discounts…most northeastern teams don’t, for some reason…so going through StubHub or another third-party works probably just as well. Whatever tricks you have will be helpful…probably the easiest games to get a deal on would be games against West Coast opponents, and if you go on StubHub on a really hot, muggy day you could possibly land a pretty good deal. There aren’t many bad seats at the Bank, but certain ones do have advantages; for example, seats down the third base line are closer to McFadden’s which is better for adults looking for a post-game hangout, and seats down the first base line are closer to all of the kid-friendly areas. The upper level seats can be way up there, so if you have a vertigo problem you may want to avoid them. But the view of everything from up there is tops.”

DB: “Citizens Bank Park has some of the better access entry points for the elderly and handicapped in the Majors.  So how is it their park staff did not rank high? How do you rank their staff?”

KS: “Well I haven’t seen the ranking that you mentioned and the basis for it, so I can’t really speak to that. As far as accessibility in ballparks, so many of the newer ones have really gone the extra mile with it…Comerica Park in Detroit is a good example…so my guess is that if Citizens Bank Park doesn’t rank high in that area, it may just be because the competition is actually pretty strong. I can’t think of any accessibility problems, even the Phillies Hall of Fame has a ramp to access it. As far as the staff, I think they’re great, I’ve never had a problem with any of the ushers…and I can tell you that I couldn’t say that about when the team played at Veterans Stadium. Teams everywhere have really improved their customer service, and the Phillies are a great example. They’ve been very good about everything in my experience.”

DB: “I did a survey about 3 years ago when Citizens Bank Park had the best voted singular food item with a Cheesesteak at Tony Luke’s, what are your thoughts on this?”

KS: “Well the Tony Luke’s cheesesteak with Cheez Whiz is pretty good, especially considering that local items in a ballpark don’t often live up to the original location. It’s great for people who are only going to a ballgame in Philly and want to see what this cheesesteak business is all about.  But as far as the best food item in any ballpark, I wouldn’t rank it that high. I don’t even consider it the best food item at Citizens Bank Park…Chickie’s and Pete’s fries, the Campo’s Heater sandwich, the Schmitter and Bull’s BBQ Bulldog are all better in my opinion. But that’s just my opinion.”

DB: “What is your favorite method of transportation to and from Citizens Bank Park?”

KS: “It depends on whether I’m going by myself or with a group of people. There’s really only two common ways to get there—you can drive your car and park or take the SEPTA Broad Street Line subway to the AT&T Sports Complex Station. From nearby PA suburbs you can use SEPTA’s Regional Rail to the subway. Both methods are fine and work equally well, but coming from South Jersey by myself I would rather pay about $8 round trip to take the PATCO high-speed line and then the Broad Street Line than pay $15 for the parking and $5 to cross the bridge, not to mention the gas and traffic getting out afterwards. If you’re going with three or four people though, driving and parking is fine. There’s plenty of parking in the complex and you can persuade everyone to chip in. You can save $5 on parking if you’re willing to walk a bit.”

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

KS: “Get there as early as possible, for a couple of reasons. First, traffic is much easier to deal with if you’re driving, and second, you’ll want to check out Ashburn Alley before the park starts to fill up, because it gets very congested and stays crowded throughout the game. The Ashburn Alley gates open an hour before the rest of the ballpark does, and you’re definitely going to want to check out everything there. The Philadelphia baseball timeline is great, and the Phillies Hall brings back great memories for fans. Lots of interactive games for kids too. There’s a lot going on at the ballpark and a lot of things to see, but honestly, you can focus on the Phillie Phanatic all night and never stop being entertained. There is no mascot in sports so willing to cross the line of acceptable mascot behavior.  And don’t worry about Philly fans. They’re not as bad as everyone says. There are some jerks but most of them are perfectly nice people.”

DB: “Other than cheesesteaks at Tony Luke’s, how is the food at CBP? What is your favorite ballpark food there?”

KS: “The food as Citizens Bank Park is all great; I’ve never gone wrong with anything I’ve tried. Bull’s BBQ may make the best turkey sandwich I’ve had at a ballgame, and I don’t require much persuasion to share a bucket of Chickie’s and Pete’s crab fries. I haven’t tried it, but I’ve heard nothing but great things about the chili at Harry The K’s as well. I could go on all day. My favorite food item is the underrated Schmitter, which was actually not named after Mike Schmidt. The Schmitter is a sandwich from a local tavern called McNally’s. It’s sort of a cousin to the cheesesteak, with meat, cheese, salami, tomatoes and secret sauce on a Kaiser roll. It’s a little hard to find the Schmitter stand…it’s tucked underneath the stands near the Left Field Gate. Well worth the search though. There’s just something about tomatoes and thousand island style sauce on a steak sandwich.”

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

KS: “Wow…I have to think about that one. You know, I’m going to go out on a limb here and actually pick a hockey game, the minor league game between the Adirondack Phantoms and the Hershey Bears, which took place after the recent Winter Classic. My sister and I lucked into tickets and braved the cold for the game; and it was really cool seeing the ballpark set up for ice hockey. The Phantoms tied the score with just 20 seconds left in the game, and then won it in overtime. One of the most exciting hockey games I’ve ever seen. The crowd just went ballistic, and it was great to hear 45,000 Philly throats going nuts. So okay, not a baseball game, but I have to say that was the best time I’ve had there.”

DB: “Thank you very much Kurt.”

***Thank you to our Citizens Bank Ball Park Expert- Kurt Smith for participating in today’s article.  to learn more about Kurt Smith and his website 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 ***

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Time Management and Planning Tips for Baseball Road Trips

Friday March 9, 2012

Douglas ‘Chuck’ Booth (Baseball Writer)- You have booked your vacation time off work after scouting out the Major League Baseball Schedule this year(Usually posts Sept.15 for the next following year).  You then either have to buy plane tickets or organize Ground Transportation to move around to these cities, in a lot of cases you will need to do both.  Most people do not want to feel rushed on vacation, as chances are their real life is already like this and they are looking for a reprieve from a hectic pace.  Obviously, the better travelers would already have priced out everything from flights to: parking, food, lodging, gas, car rentals, taxi cabs, tickets, tolls, luggage, add that to electronic considerations like; roaming charges for cellphones and all forms of picture-taking like maybe additional Memory Cards.  You are left with a lot of planning and money management to tackle.  You have finagled a way to pay for your vacation, however how do you go about the process in stages? Read the rest of this entry

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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The Curious Case of Carl Crawford

Thursday September 23, 2011

Rob Bland (Baseball Writer – MLB reports): When the 2010 season concluded, many people looked at the trio of Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth as easily the most sought after players.  Lee has not disappointed in Philadelphia, where he will garner serious attention for the NL Cy Young Award.  Werth and Crawford, however, have been pretty big disappointments after signing extremely lucrative contracts over 7 years.  Werth received $126M, while Crawford made the biggest splash, inking a deal worth $142M.  While Werth has been lucky to play in front of smaller crowds playing in Washington DC, Crawford has had to endure the masses of critics in Boston.  This is on top of playing in the AL East, battling for the division title, while the team is in a free-fall where the Tampa Bay Rays are gaining ground in the AL Wild Card race.

Crawford came to the Red Sox with HUGE expectations.  Fans of the Red Sox expected him to not only repeat his career season from 2010, but exceed his statistics.  In 2010 with the Rays, Crawford surpassed most of his best seasons in almost every statistical category.  He hit .307 with 19 home runs and 90 RBI, while scoring 110 runs and stealing 47 bases.  His on-base percentage was .356 and he slugged at a .495 clip, giving him an OPS of .851.  In 2011, surrounded by all-star and MVP caliber players, he has struggled to gain any kind of consistency.  He has limped into the end of September with a .255/.292/.401 slash line.

Crawford has only been able to steal 18 bases, which is by far his worst full season total in the MLB.  On June 17th, Crawford sustained a grade 1 strain of his hamstring, and did not return to the lineup until July 18th.  At the time, Crawford’s OBP of .275 and slugging percentage of .384 were near the bottom of the league.  If Crawford had been hot until the injury, and simply fizzled out after he came back, we would have a simple answer.

Crawford has actually fared better since the injury, but I believe he has lost a step.  Crawford relies on speed, and hamstrings often take a very long time to heal.  His game is based on slapping balls through the infield and driving balls to the gaps, turning singles into doubles and doubles into triples.  Many people thought that the Green Monster would be peppered with line drives off Crawford’s bat, as well as triples going into the deep right-center field gap.  With Crawford’s hamstring issues, he doesn’t seem to be able to drive the ball as well as in recent years.

Another issue with Crawford seems to be that he has been slightly unlucky compared to other years.  His BABIP over the course of his career is .329, while 2009 and 2010 it had been .342.  This year, the stat sits at .300.  Often, when seeing a dip in BABIP, you can look at a player’s line drive rate and see that the player is not hitting as many line drives.  Crawford’s line drive rate is 17.8%, which is actually up from last year’s 16.5%.  His fly ball and ground ball rates have also mostly gone unchanged.  One thing I did notice was that his percentage of bunts for base hits is 0.  Early in his career, Crawford would attempt to bunt upwards of 15 to 18 times per season.  This year, Crawford has only attempted three bunts.  This could be due to his hamstring not being 100% also.

Crawford’s dWAR, (or defensive Wins Above Replacement), which is a defensive stat that shows how a player is able to field balls inside and outside the zone of his position, has always been one of his strong points.  For outfielders, he has been near the top of the league regularly over the last five years.  This season, however, his dWAR is at -0.5, which negates entirely his limited offensive production.

With such close similarities in his batted ball rates, one would expect a slight drop in production due to his lower BABIP.  However, with such a large gap in last year’s production to this year’s, despite a better overall line-up batting around him, one has to really think about what has happened to Crawford.

Crawford may be a multi, multi-millionaire that most of us would give up anything to be, but what most of us forget is that these MLB superstars are human.  Hitting in front of 40,000 screaming, raving Red Sox lunatic fans surely cannot be an easy task.  When playing in Tampa for the first 6 years of his career, he rarely faced hostility or scrutiny at home.  The media has scrutinized every little move he has made this season, because he is under a microscope now.  All this pressure and expectations after signing such a huge contract can take a toll on a player both psychologically and physically.

Here is a radical thought: Fenway’s odd dimensions have actually hurt Crawford offensively.  Left fielders play shallower in Boston than in any other park, due to the Green Monster.  This means that shallow flares, bloop pop ups and even live drive singles are taken out of the equation.  While you can argue that this would then alter every other hitter’s stats, I think that the style of offense that Crawford plays, combined with bad luck, and a slight drop off in actual performance have been the main contributors to his poor statistics. 

Look for Crawford to settle into the Boston atmosphere and return to his career averages in statistics in 2012.  If he doesn’t, there will be many Sox fans clamouring to get rid of him at any cost.

***Today’s feature was prepared by Rob Bland.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***

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