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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – August 5, 2016

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Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe

I know it isn’t Sunday, but I am doing a request anyway.

Olympic Baseball will always be running an uphill battle because the best players in the world won’t necessarily be playing it.

It is a pass the torch episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

Dernard Span, Brandon Finnegan, Francisco Lindor, Drew Smyly, Ian Kennedy, Nolan Arenado, Ji-Man Choi and Ryan Vogelsong  all added to their totals for Who Owns Baseball yesterday.

See the updated listing of WOB on MLB Reports

 

Read the rest of this entry

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E-MAILBAG: Ask the Reports, Wednesday July 6th All-Star Edition

Thank you for reading the E-mailbag.  Please send all your questions to mlbreports@gmail.com and please include your first name and City/Country.

We will be compiling a list of your questions from our e-mailbag and posting the responses on Wednesdays.

 

 

 

Wednesday July 6, 2011

Q:  I enjoyed your article on the Home Run Derby this week.  Which players were selected to play in this year’s derby?  From:  Dave, Chicago.

MLB reports:    Thank you Dave.  So glad that you enjoyed our feature on the Home Run Derby.  As indicated in the article, captain David Ortiz has included Jose Bautista, Robinson Cano and Adrian Gonzalez on the AL squad.  The NL team, which was announced yesterday by captain Prince Fielder, includes Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, Matt Holliday of the Cardinals and Rickie Weeks of the Brewers.  For the most part we have a very solid derby lineup.  The only criticism that I can offer each team is the choice of the respective second basemen.  While Rickie Weeks and Robinson Cano are fine players, there are far more powerful bashers that I would have preferred to see this upcoming Monday in Arizona.  Curtis Granderson in the AL and Ryan Braun in the NL are the first two names that come to mind.  It should be an interesting Home Run Derby regardless.  So enjoy it!

 

Q:    I am boycotting the All-Star game this year.  It is nothing but a glorified exhibition game.  I suggest you do the same.  From:  Sam, Vancouver.

MLB reports:  Ouch Sam, you really do not like the All-Star game!  As much as the game itself receives negative press, the truth is that all our readers are writing about in the last two weeks is the All-Star game.  They cannot get enough of all the All-Star game coverage on the Reports!  While the game itself may frustrate us, with the length of time it takes to play, number of substitutes etc, the truth is that the game has much merit.  The All-Star game does decide home field advantage for the World Series, which is a huge reward.  The players are playing for pride and in my opinion, the last few games have been exceptionally entertaining for the most part.  Lastly, most of us love debating which players should be included on the rosters and analyzing the exclusions.  Baseball is a sport of non-stop analysis and the All-Star game is no exception.  Rather than focusing on the flaws, take in what is good about the game.  With the glass-half-full approach, maybe you will become a fan again.

 

Q:  My fave part of All-Star week is the Prospects Game.  The up and coming stars get to play and I get to see them live.  Will we get reports on the Prospects Game?  From:  Jason, Los Angeles.

MLB reports:  Funny you should bring up the Prospects Game Jason, you have read our mind.  As part of our search for the MLB reports Intern, we have Rob- a candidate for the post, preparing his feature article on the Prospects Game as we speak.  We agree that the Prospects Game is a very important game, if not the biggest game of the break for many baseball fans.  For the diehards that subscribe to Baseball America and try to learn all the prospects, many do not have the opportunity to watch the prospects live.  For those of you that subscribe to mlb.tv, you may not know that you can add the Milb package as well for only a few dollars.  But otherwise, the top prospects in the game will be playing this weekend.  While MLB reports will have the game covered this weekend, we will be featuring Rob’s preview of the game starting tomorrow.  Stay tuned for this must read feature!

 

Q:  Do you see MLB ever getting rid of the All-Star game?  Perhaps replacing it with the WBC or Olympics some years?   From:  Bruno, Mexico City.

MLB reports:  Hello Bruno, great question.  I can answer your question with one word:  Never.  The MLB All-Star game is a huge event for baseball that will continue until the end of time.  The game itself is as much about pleasing the sponsors as it is the fans.  The game is a showcase of Major League Baseball to the sponsors and baseball’s chance to wine and dine the greatest financial contributors the game.  The All-Star game contributes a great deal of revenue and publicity for the home town sponsoring team and the battle to host the big event is fierce every year.  The WBC, as featuring in our recent article, will be back as part of the 2013 edition.  While experts have debated hosting the tournament during the middle of the season or at season’s end, the time and commitment required makes the logistics almost impossible.  For now the WBC is remaining as a pre-season tournament, with qualifying taking place in the fall of 2012 and the WBC in March 2013.  From the Olympics perspective, baseball is not even currently included as a sport.  In 2013, the IOC will vote on whether to include baseball as an Olympic sport in the 2020 games.  Baseball will be competing with karate, roller sports, softball, sports climbing, squash, wakeboard and wushu for one spot.  The Olympics will be discussed on a different day, as the exclusion of baseball by the Olympics is unforgivable in my opinion and simply a harsh tactic to force Major League Baseball to send professionals to the Olympics.  Baseball is strong in its stance though and even if baseball does rejoin the Olympics, it will not interfere with the All-Star game.  The mid-season game is simply to valuable to baseball to let go.  Ever.

 

Q:  The National League won the All-Star game last year, its first win since 1996.  Who will win this year?  From:  Tiffany, Miami.

MLB reports:  I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you Tiffany, but the AL will win this year.  Call it gut, call it bias.  I just can’t see how the NL can control the bashers in the American League.  Jose Bautista, David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson are just some of the big names representing the American League.  While the NL has Prince Fielder, Matt Kemp, Lance Berkman, Brian McCann etc, I think the AL has too strong of an offensive team.  The AL pitching is also stacked, led by Justin Verlander, David Prince, James Shields, Jered Weaver and company.  While the NL pitchers get much of the press, the AL has its share of star pitchers.  The game should be an interesting one, with the run total likely to be very high.  But when all is said and done, expect the AL to come out on top and giving the Rays home field advantage over the Phillies in the World Series (did I just make a prediction?)

 

 

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E-MAILBAG ARCHIVE:  Click here for the Archives of Ask the Reports

 

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The End of an Era: Ariel Pestano

MLB reports:  You may not know the name, but you will recognize the player.  Ariel Pestano (Valdes) was considered one of Cuba’s greatest catchers of all time.  In actuality, likely one of THE best catchers ever.  Pestano, known in his country at “the veteran”, has been a Cuban baseball staple for the past 10 years.  Debuting with the Cuban national team in 1999, Pestano played in the Olympics and both the 1996 and 1999 World Baseball Classic for Cuba.  By retiring in 1999 after the last WBC, baseball has lost a legend and a throwback to an era that is slowly disappearing.  In an age of generic players and cookie-cutter approaches, Pestano was one-of-a-kind.

I was first introduced to Ariel Pestano in the 1996 WBC and could not wait to see him again by the 1999 edition of the Classic.  In comparative terms, it is hard to point to a past or present major league catcher that mirrors Pestano.  I find it difficult to looking at his Cuban numbers and calculating the value of his play.  Offensively and defensively, the man could do it all.  But rather than judge him by numbers in a league unknown to me, I place my consideration in what I saw with my own eyes.  If the WBC editions were any indication, Pestano could play ball.  A patient hitter with pop, I could see him hitting 20 bombs in the major leagues if given the opportunity.  A cannon for an arm, he knew how to keep runners honest and distract hitters from getting good hacks at the plate.  But his true value was in his leadership.  Pestano was like a general on the field, leading his team to war.  Pestano was not afraid to get into the face of an opposing player or teammate if he felt that his team was being disrespected or not playing to its capacity.  His approach made for great television viewing, no doubt, but his teammates were better for having him behind them.

A big problem in baseball viewership and fandom today is the reliance on the fantasy aspect of baseball, mainly statistics.  I love researching OPS and WHIP as much as the next baseball junkie, but real baseball has value outside of the “moneyball” approach.  I recall a pitcher on the Cuban team in one WBC game in 2006 giving up repeated hits.  At one point Pestano literally ran to the mound and was about to clobber his starting pitcher.  I could not understand what he was saying, but you could not put a pin between the pitcher and catcher.  Pestano was literally in the pitcher’s face reading him the riot act.  While many critics would call such a move “unprofessional”, “bush-league” and “showing up your pitcher”, I actually enjoyed the accountability and passion that Pestano was demanding from his teammate that day.  Those types of moments do not show up in box scores the next day, but live on with a team forever.

If you have never seen Ariel Pestano play a professional baseball game, download a World Baseball Classic game on your computer involving Cuba from either 2006 or 2009 and watch the man behind the plate.  Chances are that you have never seen a player like this before and will never see one again.  Pudge Rodriguez has had his moments through the years, but has simmered down.  But in truth, he never had the intensity and life/death mentality that Pestano displayed on the baseball field.  Taking aside the armed guards with machine guns in the dugout, I have always found Cuban teams to play with heart and pride.  I recall a Cuban pitcher one game running out to the field to yell at an outfielder after misplaying a ball.  When a pitcher in any inning/situation gives up even 1-2 infield hits in a game, chances are the Cuban bullpen will be up and running.  I don’t recall ever watching a Cuban game where the bullpen wasn’t going with at least one pitcher for nearly the entire game.  This is how seriously Cuba takes it baseball and this mentality was embodied fully in Ariel Pestano.

My WBC Cuban heroes, Pestano and Lazo are unlikely to ever defect and join the MLB.  Both recently retired and based on their respective ages and devotion to Cuba- defection is unlikely, if not impossible.  Pestano retired to apparently work and train his son, who like his dad is a catcher.  The best of luck to you Ariel, thank you for the memories.

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