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Daily Archives: November 13, 2011

Moneyball to be Released on Blu-Ray and DVD: January 10, 2012

 

Monday November 14, 2011

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  It is very difficult to go through nearly four months of baseball withdrawal until live spring training games commence.  After the last pitch of the World Series is completed, baseball fans are left to hibernate in their homes and prepare for the next season.  Talk of Winter Ball.  The Arizona Fall League.  Free Agency.  Winter Meetings.  Great topics to keep the baseball talk alive during the winter.  But this is not always enough.  Baseball fans need their fix.  In the technology age we live in, there is the internet, dvds and Blu-rays.  Classic baseball games can be viewed with one press of a button.  For those that long for the mix of Hollywood and baseball, there is nothing finer than baseball movies.  The best one to come along in some time was the 2011 blockbuster “Moneyball”, starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill.  If you are in need of a baseball fix, Moneyball is for you.

On Saturday I went back to watch Moneyball in the theatre.  Again.  I simply can’t get enough of this film.  The running time is over 2 hours long, but you don’t feel it.  Moneyball, simply put, is a great movie.  It has a strong story line, excellent performances by its cast and the movie just flows very well.  From Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, Jonah Hill as Peter Brand (Paul DePodesta), Philip Seymour Hoffman as Art Howe, Casey Bond as Chad Bradford, Stephen Bishop as David Justice- everything clicked in this movie.  The good news is that the movie will be available on DVD and Blu-Ray for your viewing pleasure.  The bad news is that you have to wait until January 10th, 2012.  For those of you hoping to have a copy of this movie in your hands by the holidays, you will need to wait just a little longer.

The plot of Moneyball, as a book and movie, have been discussed to a large degree already.  The point that I wanted to get across to the readers today is to keep an open mind when watching this movie, if you haven’t already.  While Moneyball for the most part has received strong reviews, there are some criticisms that I have read which I wish to address.  The Anti-Moneyball points can be narrowed to the following:

1)  The Movie is out of date:  The Oakland Athletics are a losing ballclub and Moneyball is no longer relevant.

2) The movie neglects to discuss key players like Nick Swisher and Jeremy Brown, focal points in the book.

3) Art Howe is unfairly portrayed in the movie as compared to the book.

4) For all the success of Moneyball in 2002, the movie does not bring up the Big-3 of Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson (who many point to being the direct reason for the team’s success, rather than Moneyball).

5)  Billy Beane actually took the Red Sox job and then changed his mind.

The list goes on and on.   Here is the bottom line.  A Hollywood is easy to critique and find faults and mistakes.  But a movie needs to be taken for what it is.  A movie.  Even for baseball experts, take a movie for what it is and just enjoy it.  If you are going to rip fault into Moneyball for being irrelevant, think again.  The Oakland Athletics did not become a losing ballclub since 2006 because Moneyball stopped working.  It became a reality that every other ballclub start doing what the A’s were doing long before anyone else.  Using that thought process, Moneyball is a landmark film to showcase the entire approach of Major League Baseball and how its teams changed their approaches.  The Moneyball approach is very much relevant and continues to be in play today.  It just so happened that everyone else caught up to Oakland and now they need to continue to adapt.

If you love baseball and you love movies, make sure you get out to a theatre to watch Moneyball one more time before it arrives on Blu-ray and DVD.  Moneyball will go down as one of the best baseball movies of all time and you will want to remember the movie on the big screen for the full experience.  From there, starting January 10th, 2012 (mark the date on your calendar), you will be able to enjoy the movie at home for years to come.  A great baseball movie.  The perfect remedy to a long baseball offseason.

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

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.

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Ask the Reports: Sunday November 13th

Sunday November 13, 2011

Jonathan Hacohen:  Ask the Reports is back! After some thought and re-branding: we have decided to drop the E-mailbag moniker and to keep this section as “Ask the Reports”, which will appear every weekend.  E-mails is but one form you can reach MLB reports. You can follow us on Twitter  and tweet and direct message your questions and comments.  You can “Like” us on Facebook and write on our wall.  You can also leave all questions and comments at the end of each article and page on the website. With social media exploding as it has, we are truly connected in so many ways.  

So keep reading MLB reports. Everyday. Twice a day or more if your schedule allows it. Subscribe to the site to have all current articles sent to your e-mailbox. But most of all:  participate. Send tweets. Write on our Facebook wall. Comment on articles and leave feedback. MLB reports is for you: the readers. The love of baseball is best nurtured if enjoyed as a community. So don’t be shy. Get in touch with us as often as you can. Let your voice be heard on our Facebook wall. There is nothing better than an old-fashioned baseball debate.  We call it MLB4Life on Twitter because we all love baseball for life. Baseball is more than a passion.  It is a lifestyle. Thank you for enjoying MLB reports and we look forward to hearing from you.  Plus you never know when your questions will be answered in “Ask the Reports”: so keep checking and asking your questions every week!

Let’s get to your questions:

Q: Hi.  I just read the article: To Keep or Get Rid of the DH: The Future of the Designated Hitter in MLB and I wanted your honest opinion. Please reply with it. Thanks!! A 7th Grade Red Sox Fan in Maine
A:  This is an older question which I answered directly to the reader but wanted to share with the readers.  As many of you know reading my work, I am not the biggest proponent of the Designated Hitter.  I don’t hate it per say- but I am a bigger of fan of the National League game. I have read in baseball circles that Major League Baseball is working toward switching up the DH in interleague games.  Meaning there will be a DH in National League parks and no DH in American League parks. An exciting move should it come to fruition, that fans should very much enjoy.  The best pro-DH argument that I have heard is that the pitchers for the most part have little ability to hit and it is time to take that part of the game.  While that is true on some levels, having pitchers hit forces NL managers to use more strategy in games.  There are some strong hitting NL pitchers out there and the bottom is if pitchers know they will have to hit, they will just have to improve themselves in that department.  Ultimately I do not think the DH is going anywhere in the AL.  The players’ union will not allow MLB to get rid of it, as it will cost many older players their jobs.  But by the same token, given the tradition of the NL- I do  not see the DH being used in that league either.  But if I had my way: get rid of the DH and play “real baseball” across the board.  That is my two cents, for what its worth.
Q:  I have a question Mr. MLB reports Writer:  Where did the game of baseball first develop? What country, year, how did it take off, etc. Someone asked me this yesterday and I had no idea.  Mark
A: Great question Mark.  Thank you for the question.  I have read many great accounts on the subject.  However I will rely on Wikipedia for this one:

“The first published rules of baseball were written in 1845 for a New York (Manhattan) “baseball” club called the Knickerbockers. The author, Shane Ryley Foster, is one person commonly known as “the father of baseball”. One important rule, the 13th, stipulated that the player need not be physically hit by the ball to be put out; this permitted the subsequent use of a farther-travelling hard ball. Evolution from the so-called “Knickerbocker Rules” to the current rules is fairly well documented.

On June 3, 1953, Congress officially credited Alexander Cartwright with inventing the modern game of baseball, and he is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, the role of Cartwright himself has been disputed. His authorship may have been exaggerated in a modern attempt to identify a single inventor of the game, although Cartwright may have a better claim to the title than any other single American.

Cartwright, a New York bookseller who later caught “gold fever”, umpired the first-ever recorded U.S. baseball game with codified rules in Hoboken, New Jersey on June 19, 1846. He also founded the older of the two teams that played that day, the New York Knickerbockers. Cartwright also introduced the game in most of the cities where he stopped on his trek west to California to find gold.

One point undisputed by historians is that the modern professional major leagues that began in the 1870s developed directly from amateur urban clubs of the 1840s and 1850s, not from the pastures of small towns such as Cooperstown.”

Q:  Albert Pujols to the Marlins.  Done deal?  Excited Marlins Fan
A:  Not even close my friend.  Not even close.  Pujols did meet with Marlins’ officials this week and was reported to have received a contract offer.  But no- there is no contract in place.  The expectation is that Pujols will be staying in St. Louis.  He has won 2 World Series titles with the Cardinals, including last year’s championship.  He has played in St. Louis for his entire career.  All else being equal, no other teams will offer Pujols more money than the Cardinals.  Even if the difference is give or take $20 million, the man will receive a $200 million dollar deal.  He lives in Missouri, he has roots in the community. Pujols is a Cardinal for life.
Q:  Do you follow any other sports? I love baseball, but football is great also. Cindy
A:  Sorry: baseball only here.  In my younger days I did keep up with the three other major sports.  But life always came back to baseball for me.  162 games, plus spring training and the playoffs.  It is a long season.  But for a baseball fan like myself, there never seems to be enough baseball.  I will go watch another sport if invited.  But you will never find me watching another sport on television.  To be able to write about baseball everyday- the focus has to be on one sport.  Baseball consumes me.  I would not have it any other way.
Q:  Growing up in Cleveland as an Indians fan, my grandfather was also a fan of the Dodgers. I remember going over to his house and watching a Dodger game on tv. As an adult, I am still a fan of the Dodgers, with the Tribe number one on my list. My question: out of all the groups out there trying to buy the Dodgers, who do you think would be able to bring back the history and enjoyment to L.A.??
Thanks in advance.  Larry
A:  The last question of course goes to our #1 fan.  Great question as always.  For the time being, the names that are getting the most press are those of Orel Hershiser and Steve Garvey.  The Hershiser/Garvey group is making the loudest bid for the Dodgers, at approximately $1 billion.  But in the background, word is that former owner Peter O’Malley and former GM Fred Claire are also putting together their bids.  For excitement and name recognition, you have to give it to Hershiser/Garvey.  But at restoring the franchise back to former glory, I think it is time to bring back O’Malley.  For tradition and building winning ball clubs, there were few finer than O’Malley.  I still see that other bidders will come into the process, including Mark Cuban.  But Major League Baseball will look for stability and in the best interests of the Dodgers, in reviewing any agreements that Frank McCourt and a winning bidder reach.  This one is far from owner, but if I had to pick the “best” group for the Dodgers, mine would be on Peter O’Malley.

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Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook .  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.

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


Dustin Ackley: A Look at His Young Career and Bright Future

Sunday November 13, 2011

Sam Evans: Dustin Ackley has one of the brighter futures of all young major leaguers. He has lived up to the hype on every team he’s played on and has yet to appear overmatched in the majors.

Dustin Ackley was born in 1988 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In high school we won two state championships in baseball and made honor roll. In 2007, as a freshman at the University of North Carolina, Ackley hit over .400 and started all of his teams 73 games. Ackley, and fellow future first-rounder Alex White, led their team to the College World Series championship but lost to Oregon State. As a sophomore, Ackley just improved, batting .417 on the year.

One thing the average baseball fan doesn’t realize is that Ackley does have a serious injury history. As a junior, he had Tommy John surgery and was forced to play first base for the Tar Heels. Nevertheless, in 2009 he hit .417 again except this time showing off his power hitting 22 home runs. In his three years at North Carolina, Ackley had a OBP of .487, stole more than 10 bases every year, and firmly established his reputation as the best college hitter entering the 2009 draft.

After the consensus #1 pick Stephen Strasburg was selected by the Nationals, the Mariners picked Ackley. It was considered a pretty solid pick and not a stretch by any means. “We think he’s a player that will move pretty quick,” Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik said. What’s interesting is that Zduriencik himself actually scouted Ackley in North Carolina, which is rare for a GM living on the other side of the U.S.

The Mariners signed Ackley to a five-year, 7.5 million dollar, major league contract, just before the deadline. Before the 2010 season, the Mariners made a highly criticized move, deciding to move Dustin Ackley, the longtime UNC outfielder, to second base. At the time, most scouts were doubtful of Ackley’s ability to stick at second base.

2010 was an interesting year for Ackley. He got off to a very slow start at AA West Tennessee, but still managed to get on base at a .389 clip, and quieted a couple of whispers about his defense. After 82 games in Tennessee, Ackley was promoted to AAA Tacoma. I was lucky enough to see him a couple of times that year, and he reminded me very much of Tony Gwynn. Obviously, not as developed as a hitter, but he possessed a very mature approach at the plate. Ackley doesn’t go up to the plate trying to hit a homer every time, he just tries to put a good swing on the ball, and get on base. He has an amazing lefty stroke that is quick through the zone.

At the start of the 2011 season, Ackley headed back to Tacoma. In 66 games there, he made it obvious that he was ready for the majors, hitting .303. On June 17, 2011, Ackley made his major league debut. When i heard that Ackley was called up, I made it my first priority to find tickets to the game. I ended up sitting in Section 323 on the first base line. There was a different feel in the usually disinterested Safeco Field that night. The Mariners were playing the Phillies, and Roy Oswalt was taking the mound for the Phils. In Ackley’s first at-bat, with Phillies fans chanting, “OVER RATED,” Ackley singled up the middle. His major-league career just took off from there.

Ackley played 90 games for the Mariners in 2011. He batted .273 with a .348 OBP and a .417 slugging percentage. He also had a OPS+ of 117, and looked solid at second base, committing only six errors and assisting in 49 double plays.

The sky is the limit for Ackley. Scouts are still doubting his ability to play second base, but as long as he stays passable there, the Mariners have their second basemen for the next era.

Ackley could at some point turn in a MVP caliber season, but he’s not especially a power hitter. I think that at his peak he’ll hit about 20 home runs with a .300 average and an OBP around .415. If Ackley stays at his pace from last year, which is actually a legitimate estimate, he will be nearly a 5 WAR player in a full season. Now if only more of his teammates were any good…

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  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 Sam on Twitter.***

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

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