Monthly Archives: June 2008

Minor League Baseball

I used to not care about Major League farm systems and all of the minor league affiliates. I cared about the New York Yankees now, not the New York Yankees of three or four years later. I didn’t care if Brian Cashman traded a handful of prospects for some veteran player beause I knew nothing about them.

But in recent years I’ve developed quite an interest in these matters. Now I pay attention not only to the Yankees Triple-A affiliate (recently relocated to Pennsylvania) but also their Double-A team right down to their short season Staten Island affiliate.

The Yankees have thoroughly retooled and restocked their farm system over the past few years, and while they have some decent starting prospects and position players, all the big name, can’t-miss prospects seem to be relief pitchers. A dominant bullpen is a huge advantage because it allows teams to effectively shorten games to six innings.

With the Yankees running guys like LaTroy Hawkins (6.03 ERA), Ross Ohlendorf (6.53) and Kyle Farnsworth (4.11) and with my newfound knowledge of the arms in the minors, I can’t help but wonder why these guys are still here.

This afternoon the Yankees took a step to satisfying my whims by promoting David Robertson. Robertson started the year in Trenton (New York’s AA team) but was promoted shortly after posting a 0.96 ERA in 19 innings while striking out 26. He continued dominating in Triple-A, striking out 48 in 33 innings on the way to posting a 1.64 ERA. Robertson has pitched 136 professional innings and has never allowed a home run. That’s incredible.

After Robertson, JB Cox shouldn’t be too far behind. Cox was the closer on a national champion University of Texas team a few years back and has rocketed through the Yankees system since being drafted. He has a 0.63 ERA since being promoted to AAA earlier this year and is said to have the system’s best slider. And remember that Joba Chamberlain has a slider that no Major League batter made contact with in 2007.

Possibly the best relief prospect is Mark Melancon (pronounced Muh-lan-son). The former closer of the University of Arizona dropped to the Yankees in the draft due to medical concerns, but those haven’t materialized. He’s got an overpowering fastball, a hammer curve and a “bulldog” demeanor.

Also overlooked is Scott Strickland but he’s no spring chicken. The Yankees’ bullpen has been decent and Mariano Rivera is still the best closer in baseball hands down, but it’s been carrying deadweight for far too long and help is finally on the way. I understand not wanting to rush a young player’s development, but the bullpen definitely needs a facelift. And it’s about to get one.

Also, with the DH trip for Hideki Matsui, the Yankees (apart from signing Barry Bonds) need to seriously consider sending Justin Christian down, call up Brett Gardner to play centerfield and bench Melky Cabrera for a week or two. Melky’s been downright horrible since the beginning of May and Gardner has been the best player in the IL for the past few months.

Come on Yankees, time for a handful of moves to fuel a move up the standings.

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Barry Bonds

He is baseball’s home run king, performance enhancing drugs or not. In my mind, there’s no doubt he used them, but the man has never tested positive for anything. He’s an oversized noggined, Paula Abdul impersonating asshole who I hate with a livid passion.

All that being said however, there isn’t a player out there that I’d rather sign to a contract right now. The Yankees offense has been hit-or-miss for the most part this season and is looking at losing DH Hideki Matsui (.323/.404/.459) to recurring knee problems.

The Yankees have a good thing going with Matsui and Damon rotating around LF and the DH spot, but neither player seems up to playing every game. I’m pretty sure Barry Bonds would benefit from a couple of off-days as well.

Bonds’ agent, Jeff Borris has said that Bonds will play for the league minimum. Then he said that Bonds would play for free, offering to donate any salary he made to purchase tickets for children.

So what we’re looking at is Barry Bonds available for less than the Yankees are paying Dan Giese. The man has more baggage than any player in baseball history. But the man had a 170 OPS+ last year with a .480 OBP. He gets on base nearly half the time he bats. That’s crazy. Even at this stage of his career, Bonds would instantly improve any offense, even the Yankees.

But I’d sign him right now and plug him in the middle of the Yankee offense. Everybody hates the Yankees already, what’s one more maligned slugger going to matter? Imagine Bonds in a lineup with Alex Rodriguez and a mustached Jason Giambi.

Bonds comes incredible cheap money-wise and no pitcher in baseball wants to pitch to him (except maybe Mike Bascik). He brings an unbelievable presence to a lineup in need of some consistency. The Yankees don’t care about what Bonds may or may not have done. So why not sign him? He instantly solves multiple problems and isn’t the goal to win games?

Bonds certainly would help them do that. True, bringing Barry Bonds to the media capital of the world would be a media spectacle beyond belief. Pure craziness. A possible PR nightmare. But I’d do it. I’d do it in a New York Minute. Because even at 44, he’s still one of the best hitters in the game. And in New York he’d never have to play the field.

JCBC Softball Game 1

FIRST REDEEMER 12, JOHN’S CREEK 10

I’m captaining the John’s Creek Men’s Softball team in a First Redeemer league this summer. Basically, I’m coordinating about 15 men and trying to put together a functioning team.

We had two lightly-attended practices before our season started, and our first game was on Monday. It was also the first time we had most of the guys together and we played a team from First Redeemer Church.

The first game was a good learning experience as I was able to see how everyone hit and where they were best suited to play in the field. We lost 12-10, but I think we were a better team. Our best three hitters went a combined 2-9 with only one run scored and our defense was shoddy at best while we experimented people in different positions. Now I know where everyone is best suited to play in the field.

Personally I went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and three runs scored. I was the only player on the team to score more than once. Our next game is July 1 at 9:30pm against another First Redeemer team.

Here’s an abbreviated boxscore from the game.

Robert: 1-3, 3-run 3B, K’d twice
Bryan: 1-3, Drove in a run
TJ: 1-3, Made an error (fielding)
Lou: 0-3
Nate: 2-3, 3 R, 2 2B
Russ: 1-3, scored a run and drove on in
David: 1-3, 3-run HR
Dwight: 1-1, walked twice
Chuck: 1-3, GIDP
Randy: 0-3, scored a run
James: 0-3, drove in a run

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MLB Inter-League Play

Way back in 1997 when baseball decided that it needed something to spark attendance, it introduced regular-season inter-league play to its’ schedule.

And eleven years ago, I wasn’t a fan of the idea. To me, the World Series was the only time that American League needed to meet National League apart from the exhibition all-star game.

And after yesterday’s injury to Chien-Ming Wang I now have an additional legitimate reason.

First off, when people argue that the NHL, NBA and NFL all play inter-league or inter-conference games I pleasantly remind them that those three leagues have the same rules throughout. Major League Baseball has one league that employs a DH and one that does not. So when American League teams have to go to National League opponents, their pitchers must hit. And American League pitchers never hit. The National League is the only league in the world that does not use a designated hitter, so many AL hurlers haven’t picked a bat in ages.

Yesterday was the first second time that Chien-Ming Wang had run the bases in a game since high school.

Pitchers with American League organizations don’t pick up a bat in the minor leagues. Then MLB throws them out there for nine interleague games. American League pitchers run all the time and are in fantastic shape (except Curt Schilling) but the run in straight lines in the outfield, or foul poles.

I understand that inter-league games allow teams to play that normally wouldn’t. But to me it compromises the World Series. You want the Cubs to play the White Sox? Do it in October if both teams are good enough.

There’s also two more teams in the National League than in the American League so not everyone plays the same schedule. The “natural-rivalries” also create a “strength of schedule” for better or worse. Who decided that Seattle and San Diego are “natural” rivals? Obviously teams like the Cubs and White Sox, Giants and A’s, Yankees and Mets and Angels and Dodgers are “natural rivals” due to geography, but there’s not much else.

Imagine that the Cubs and Cardinals are fighting for a division title and the Cardinals beat out the Cubs by one game. Well, perhaps the Cubs went 2-1 against a division-leading White Sox team while the Cardinals swept the haplessly cellared Royals. The Cubs and Cards would have identical records against the same teams they played, but because someone’s “natural” rival sucks and someone else’s is decent, the Cubs lose out.

It’s not fair to clubs that bust their butt for 162 games and then get boned by MLB’s desperate attempts for ratings.

So my first proposal would be to do away with the gimmick altogether. It was a novelty for a few years, but now it’s old. It’d be like asking Peyton Manning to play center for a game in the middle of the season or asking Chris Paul to play center when they visit the Magic.

Or, if you don’t completely abandon inter-league play, at least follow American League (and World) rules. It’s much easier for a Chris Duncan or Chipper Jones to DH than it is for a Daisuke Matsuzaka or John Lackey to bat and run the bases.

MLB Draft

I find the MLB draft far more interesting than either the two-round NBA draft or the NFL draft, and although I was was excited that Gerrit Cole fell to the Yankees at 28, I was pleasantly surprised with the Yankees’ twelfth round pick (380th overall).

The Yankees took Luke Grienke, a right-handed pitcher from Auburn.  Luke is the brother of Kansas City Royals ace Zach Grienke.  On a cruise in 2005, I met Luke on the ship’s basketball court as he vacationed with his parents.  We hung out for the few days we were at sea and he was a really nice kid.  I hope he really does well and eventually reaches the majors in some capacity.  Hopefully as a successful pitcher with the Yankees.

Another pick I was interested in was Pat Venditte, a pitcher from Creighton University.  The interesting thing about Venditte is that he’s ambidextrous.  He pitches both left-handed and right-handed depending on the batter.  As a kid that used to pound brick walls with tennis balls from both hands long ago, I can attest to exactly how hard and amazing that is at the same time.  Imagine having a reliever that could neutralize any pinch-hitting move.  He was drafted in the 20th round (620th overall) so he obviously doesn’t have as much projection as a major leaguer, but the whole “left/right” thing is pretty cool.

Joba Chamberlain

They’re my notes and I can talk about whatever I want to. This one should be far less controversial, unless i blame Joba’s failures on him being partially Native American.

ESPN analysts and baseball experts across the country are split as to whether the Yankees should get (eventually) 200+ innings from the great Joba Chamberlain or around 75 innings from him.

Sure, he’s valuable as a set-up man, but that’s not what he’s done his whole life. The Yankees have plenty of hot young arms in their system that can do what he’s done. JB Cox and Mark Melancon (that’s Muh-lan-son) for starters.

Joba was a starter in high school college and in the minor leagues. And he was a great one. An ace. But, out of immediate major league need, the Yankees shifted him to the bullpen late last year. The move was also partly based on the fact that he had an innings cap so as if to avoid a Mark Prior like career.

Let’s look at the closest case that I can come up with, because this is rather unprecedented. Adam Wainwright was a stud starting pitcher prospect in the Braves organization. He was traded to St. Louis (I believe in the JD Drew deal) and remained a starter. However, the Cardinals closer was hurt, so, out of need, they shifted Wainwright to the bullpen and won a World Series. However, after that need passed, Wainwright was returned to the rotation and has been St. Louis’ best pitcher since.

So there’s no doubt that Joba Chamberlain belongs in New York’s starting rotation. He’s 22 has three plus pitches and a much-improving changeup. That’s the kind of arsenal that makes a pitcher ace material.

Is he going to be a Cy Young contender right away? Of course not. There are aspects of his game that he needs to improve, being more economical with his pitches being up there.

Steve Phillips commented how he made it only through two and a third innings in his first major league start. Steve, he was on a pitch count. No, he wasn’t economical but he did what he needed to do. Also, after reviewing the PitchFX graph, I’m even more impressed with what Chamberlain did.

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A PitchFX graph shows where every pitch a pitcher threw was in relation to the strike zone. There were three pitches called strikes that should have been balls, and there were ten pitches called balls that should have been strikes. That’s a seven pitch swing. Chamberlain allowed only one earned run despite being sufficiently squeezed all night by the home plate umpire.

The Yankees tried Joba in the bullpen and it worked. Now they’re trying him in the role he’s known all his life and a role that is more valuable to the team. This has been the plan all along and you don’t alter your plans simply because Kyle Farnsworth gave up a home run. He’s gone after this year anyways.

And oh yeah. My boy Johnny Damon’s sporting a .310/.378/.498 line this year. Not too shabby for a guy that everyone wrote off as dunzo.

Gay “Marriage”

Gay marriage – I don’t believe in it and I certainly don’t condone it.
I don’t approve of homosexuality and I believe that it is a choice. Just as it is my choice to order my steak medium rare or my choice to put my underpants on left leg first. However, if you do choose to lead a homosexual lifestyle, that’s your choice and I can’t and won’t do anything about it. Just don’t submit me to it and don’t disrespect my choice either.

Putting my religious beliefs aside, I am fully against gay marriage. Marriage is a sacred institution that should be reserved for a man and a woman who love each other and are committed to building a life and a family together. People may argue that gay people are people too, and therefore deserve the same opportunities that normal straight people do and I agree. I understand that some people are gay and find someone of their own sex to love and cherish. They want to be together and be afforded all the benefits that come with marriage because they love each other. As far as I’m concerned, that’s fine.

But don’t call it marriage.

Because it isn’t. But it is entirely disrespectful to heterosexual men and women. Marriage is a union of a man and a woman. A marriage is generally a precursor to children, something that a homosexual couple cannot produce on their own. They can buy children from poor Asian orphanages, but homosexual women can’t fertilize another woman’s eggs and gay men don’t want to. Continuing our species’ existence is only made possible by heterosexual couples. I also don’t approve of gay couples adopting young children. While I’m perfectly sure that homosexual couples can produce a loving environment for a child, a child may not want that life. If a child fully understands the concept of homosexual parents or, if the child’s birth parents permit it, then who am I to speak against it. But placing an infant with homosexual partners disrespects the child’s future decisions.

Liberal lawmakers (read, California) have legalized gay “marriage.” They claim that everyone should have the opportunity to marry whomever they love, regardless of sexual orientation. They say any Joe and Jane can get “married” simply for spousal privilege or insurance benefits, and that preventing gay couples that truly love each other is unconstitutional.

Whatever.

Just like every other liberal agenda, there’s no logic or intelligent reasoning behind this one. I’m a 20-year old heterosexual male. Well, according to my state laws, I’m prohibited from marrying my first-cousin. I’m prohibited from marrying my second-cousins. And I’ve got hot second cousins. I can’t marry underage girls. I can’t marry my brother. And I’ve got a hot brother. Hell, the government even restricts my heterosexual marriage options. Because last time I checked, I can only be legally married to one woman at a time.

And there are very good reasons for my not being able to do any of those. I was talking with an unnamed gay acquaintance and I asked him what his response would be if I wanted to marry my father. I believe “Eww, gross” was his response. I assume he was disgusted by the fact that I was marrying a man in my hypothetical scenario.

My point is that we can’t call a union of homosexuals “marriage” because it isn’t. Apples and oranges. An apple is a fruit, but it isn’t an orange. And homosexual unions are and should be legal unions, but they’re not marriages. Just as all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares, all marriages are legal unions, but not all legal unions are marriages. But America/California needs to stop labeling something for what it isn’t. It desecrates the institution of marriage and all the men and women over the past two hundred-plus years that have worked hard to uphold it.

People tell me all the time that I need to be more sensitive to other people and their beliefs. That’s a hard concept for me to grasp when no one pays any attention to my ideals and beliefs. Respect is a lot of give-and-take, just like marriage. I can’t publish visual depictions of Muhammad because it offends Muslims. But no one cares that “marrying” two homosexual people is offensive to me and to millions of other Americans.

I have no problem with homosexuals deciding that they love each other and want to spend the rest of their life together. But that’s not marriage. I can pour Pepsi into Coke bottles all I want to and call it Coke, but it’ll never be Coke. I can move to London, adopt an accent and spell color with a “u”, but I’ll never be English. And two people of the same-sex joining together will never be marriage.

GA Challenging Voter ID Laws

Why is it that only Democrats seem to oppose voter ID laws?

It couldn’t possibly be that Democrats rely exponentially more on voter fraud than Republican candidates? Shocking.

These desperate Democrats say that such laws would “disenfranchise likely Democratic voters because the poor people and minorities may not have obtained a free voter ID card at voter registration offices.” So people have to go out of their way to get a FREE identification card.

Georgia’s challenging the constitutionality of this law because their own Constitution says that any 18-year old citizen can vote given he or she meets minimum residency requirements, has registered to vote and hasn’t been convicted of a felony or been found mentally incompetent.

May I suggest a liberal state of mind constitutes mental incompetence?

Still, this argument would hold more water if the Democrats could produce ONE eligible voter that has been blocked from casting a ballot because of the law. They can’t because all the law does is prevent people who aren’t legal voters (read, illegal criminal immigrants) from casting illegal votes.

And these comparisons to a poll tax must end. The identification is free, so even the lazy-as-crap welfare queens can obtain them. It doesn’t disenfranchise voters because of cost, it disenfranchises them because they have to exert a little effort. And any effort these people do should be paid for and executed by the government. Screw individual responsibility.

Also, buy this book.

And I’ll be weighing in on New York recognizing out-of-state gay marriages. I promise it’ll be a good one.

Crystal Balling A Democrat In The White House

We can pretty much assume that Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee to face off against John McCain in November. Bob Barr is entertaining his own fantasies to run on the Libertarian ticket. I like Libertarians, maybe more than I do John McCain, but I’m not wasting my vote on Barr. The consequences would be too severe. If McCain fails to beat Obama (or, for giggles, Hillary) what will happen to our country? Nothing good for America.

  1. Some sort of mandatory and government sponsored health care will take place. It’ll be the biggest entitlement bullspit that America has ever seen.
  2. Taxes will rise. Tons. Without that threat of a Presidential veto, the Democratic Congress will raise taxes to finance their Socialist agenda.
  3. The military? Surrender and appeasement will become the accepted policy. Neville Chamberlain would be proud. It’ll suffer huge financial cuts which will leave the nation vulnerable and the troops without the proper weaponry.
  4. The chance that a Supreme Court Justice (or two) will retire within the next 4 years is high. Obama/Hillary nominating anyone to interpret the law of this country is unthinkable. It’ll be another Ginsburg-type and swing the court far left. Unacceptable.
  5. Complete dependency on the federal government will be the objective of a Democratic President.

I believe that if a Democrat is elected President this year, along with a Democratic Congress will be a complete disaster. Two years of total Democrat/Socialist control will add massive programs and taxes that will be near impossible to reverse even with a Conservative President and Congress

The damage to the military is not only a danger to this Country but will leave us far more vulnerable to another 9/11 type of attack. This time it could very well come in the form of a dirty or nuclear bomb with casualties in the tens of thousands or more. Why do you think that a terrorist group like Hamas endorses Barack Obama ? Because his military and foreign policy ideas work to the advantage of, and appeasement to terrorists. Hillary is no better.

You probably know that McCain wasn’t my choice to represent that GOP in November. I don’t like his views on illegal immigration and “global warming”, but I would rather fight McCain 25 – 35% of the time than fight Hillary or Obama 100% of the time and watch America take the slippery path to Socialism under their leadership.

McCain is strong on National Security and the military, backs Conservative Judges like Alito and Roberts, favors tax cuts and major tax reform, is against government sponsored health care and understands that appeasement to Iran, Syria and Islamic Fascism is dangerous to our people and our Nation.

The threat of socialist ideals hasn’t been this pronounced since the days of FDR and his Social Security (which we’re still suffering through 70 years after the fact).

We’re going to hear either a lot about racism or a lot about sexism in the upcoming months. Neither will hold any water, but we’ll hear it. I have no doubts a woman could lead this nation. I have no doubts a black man could lead this nation. But not this woman or this black man. Too few voters pay enough attention to a candidate’s platform and qualifications. Hillary is a pathological and manipulative liar who’s out to take care of one particular woman. Barack Obama is an enthusiastic campaign speech lacking any substance who couldn’t handle pressure any better than that translator from “Saving Private Ryan”.

So while Bob Barr may be an attractive alternative to John McCain in November, if conservatives flock to him, they’ll end up putting a Democrat in the White House for four years. And America can’t survive that.

In 10 Words Or Less

I apologize for neglecting this little write-up, but I don’t care about you. Here’s one. Maybe it’s for this week, maybe it’s for June. Who knows?

Rays (34-22): First place in June? Seriously?
Red Sox (34-24): Major fail on the road.
Toronto (31-27): Jays now scouting bat boys from every team.
Yankees (28-27): Out of the basement. For now.
Orioles (26-28): Eutaw Street attraction to visiting teams. Not Orioles.

White Sox (30-25): Ozzie’s immaturity well documented. Now joined by Orlando Cabrera.
Twins (28-27): Fleeced by Mets for Santana. Fleeced by Rays for Garza.
Indians (25-30): Trade Sabathia now.
Tigers (23-32): 19 runs one night, none the next .. consistency apparently overrated.
Royals (22-34): Knew they’d win at least one more before July.

Angels (33-24): Only true major league ballclub in the West.
Athletics (29-27): How does the name Athletics lead to elephant mascot?
Rangers (28-27): Volquez-for-Hamilton best trade of the offseason.
Mariners (21-35): What did you expect when Steve Phillips predicts World Series?

Marlins (31-23): Still?!
Phillies (32-35): Chase Utley = beast.
Braves (29-27): Major fail on the road (7-20).
Mets (27-27): Major fail in general.
Nationals (24-33): New stadium’s pretty cool.

Cubs (35-21): Flat-out good .. dare I start to believe?
Cardinals (33-24): Wasn’t Pujols’ elbow crap? How’s he so freakin’ good?
Astros (30-27): Big Puma.
Brewers (28-28): Brewers as bad as their parks’ beer.
Reds (27-29): Why wasn’t Bruce in Cincinnati in April?
Pirates (26-29): There’s a bright yellow bridge just behind their stadium.

Diamondbacks (31-25): Randy Johnson #2 on strikeout list. No steroids or affairs.
Dodgers (27-28): Torre back in New York. And insurance commercials.
Giants (23-33): Zito wins!
Padres (23-34): Mathematically eliminated in May, I think.
Rockies (20-36): Mathematically eliminated in Spring Training.