April 29, 2011

Chevy Offers Little League Field Makeovers For Your Community



Chevy is igniting this year’s Diamonds & Dreams program to support youth baseball in communities across America. You can register to win field makeovers, baseball clinics, and equipment for your local little league. On top of that, Chevy’s offering a trip for four to the 2011 MLB All-Star Game and a new Chevrolet.

Help us support youth baseball in communities across America. Visit http://www.chevybaseball.com/ for more details!

It’s time to play ball. Check out the Chevy Facebook tab and play Chevy’s exclusive online baseball video game, where you can hit your way from the sandlot all the way to the majors. And don’t forget to share the game with your friends! www.on.fb.me/icKohb

Throw #playcatch out to your friends to keep the game going!
Thank you so much for your support… come play ball with us at www.on.fb.me/icKohb

April 28, 2011

What It’s Like Being Justin Verlander’s Doppelganger

First, for those not familiar with the word doppelganger:

A doppelgänger is a tangible double of a living person in fiction, folklore, and popular culture that typically represents evil. In the vernacular, the word doppelgänger has come to refer (as in German "doppelt(e)") to any double or look-alike of a person.

Now, most in the Detroit area, and all of MLB, know Justin Verlander, the high paid, Detroit Tigers’ pitching ace from Virginia. He’s a dominant force on the mound, having thrown a no-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers. He’s also the only pitcher in baseball history to toss a no-hitter, start a World Series game, be a Rookie of the Year, and an All-Star in his first two full seasons, but few know the man…the local man that looks like him.

It all started many moons ago, at the local food mart, Kroger. I was cruising with my mom, hunting down some deals, when an elderly woman with here grandkids walked up to me and asked, “hello Justin, would you mind signing some autographs for my grandkids?” I looked at the eager kids with quiet disbelief and said, “sorry, I don’t do autographs outside of shows”. Just kidding, I actually said, “sorry, I’m not Justin Verlander.” The grandma apologized and they went about their business. As I watched that cute family walk away into the cereal isle, I turned to my mom, who was looking at me with unwavering content. After a few minutes she says, “you know…you actually do look like Justin Verlander!” After that encounter, my life as Justin Verlander’s unofficial doppelganger began.

It started small with posters of JV in the room. Then random newspaper cut-outs in my wallet, and even friends pausing live TV to compare us. Yes, it wasn’t that big a deal, but that was 4 years ago. Now the pressure of having to keep up with JV’s facial style, haircut, and weight is giving me a complex. Is he growing his hair out this month? Goatee or scruffy? Is he 210lbs or 215lbs? Is he even in the 200’s?! The constant disappoint I must give people when I tell them,” no, I’m not Justin Verlander. I don’t think you want me to sign that ___(insert item)___” has led me to consistently wear disguises.

Some say, “oh man, you are so lucky looking like him!” Am I!? Am I really?!? Well I’m here to tell you I’m not lucky. In addition to what I’ve already said; women constantly throwing themselves at me, the secret whispering, and pointing, it’s a nightmare! I don’t wish this horror on my enemies. So next time you see me, my name is Jeremy, not Justin. I don’t sign autographs, and I won’t throw you a 100mph fastball. I will however quote you some Simpsons and maybe play some Xbox with you.

For those that are curious:



And this is what we look like when we wear hats:


April 26, 2011

My Detroit Tigers Opening Day Adventure

It was Friday, April 8th. I was told a couple days before; game time was moved back a couple hours, from 1pm to 3pm. That made me very happy since I was meeting a friend and I wouldn’t have to get up too early. Since it was Opening Day I treated the game like a collegiate football game, tailgating, lots of laugh, and as Ke$ha would say, “Going hard.”

As I woke up around 9am, the game and day didn’t look too promising, heavy rain. I checked the weather report and it called for cloud cover all day, with moisture throughout the day. Even still, I was very optimistic about my chances at watching a quality game. With Max Scherzer on the mound, and future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera hitting clean-up, I liked my chances for a solid afternoon.

I picked my friend, Jonny B (AKA CemJon), up around 10am. He was a bit startled with my presence because he thought I was coming at 11am. He swears up and down he told me (he did not) to arrive later due to the game time changing. An hour later and the rain still had not eased up (damn you rain! Go away!). Like Santa up and down a chimney, Jon was dressed and ready to rock! On our drive up to Detroit, the rain eased to a light sprinkle…Score! We met at Mario’s restaurant for drinks (heavy on the plural) and food. This really set the tone for the entire day. Not only did the rain ease, but Jon and I had a blast! We even met a great guy to enjoy the day with, Bill. Bill was a fun, lovable guy, but like a one-night-stand, he was there one minute having loads of fun, then never heard from again (more on that later).

Once the pre-party was winding down, and the first pitch was fast approaching, we hopped on a shuttle to the game. Once at the game, we grabbed ourselves 3 waters (hey, we’d have been drinking for 4 hours at this point!) and sat ourselves down. Great seats, about 15 rows up between 3rd base and catcher. Amazing! Now at this point I’m not sure on the timing, but around the time of the first pitch Bill decided he had enough and “cast out the demons in his stomach”. (To be honest, I wasn’t surprised; he was trying to hang with a couple MSU Alumni boys). After the casting he got up, shook Jon and mine’s hands, nodded and said, “well, I’m outta here guys. Have a fun day.” And he was gone, never to be heard from again. To this day I still don’t know where he went, how he got home (he lives an hour away from the stadium), or if he’s even alive.

The game was awesome and awesome early. The Tiggers threw up 4 runs very quickly, and Scherzer was in the zone! He was dealin’! Both teams hit the crap out of the ball, so it was a very active and exciting game. Our boys won 5 – 2. After a game like that, victory drinks needed to be served! We took the shuttle back to Mario’s and celebrated with some Bloody Mary’s. A solid evening on all accords.

Everything was “left on the field” as football players will say. I did everything I set out to do. I cut together a little podcast of the evening for all to listen. There’s less description of the game, and more on the extracurricular activities. Still a decent listen. Yep, a great time, but even after all that I was still left with one question, where’s Bill?


It's not clear, I don't talk much about the game, but you can tell I had a great day!



April 25, 2011

Closer Report 4/25/11

1 Mariano Rivera
*I think he was sent back in time to kill John Connor
2 Craig Kimbrel
3 Chris Perez
4 Huston Street
*That’s it…I’ve had it ! He can have the #4 spot. He just keeps doing it!
5 Heath Bell
*Looking very sharp, I still think he gets traded though. His stock right now is looking great!
6 Leo Nunez
*What I said for Bell, applies here
7 Jose Valverde
*Looking very sharp too! Playing for another contract?
8 Joakim Soria
*He’ll get his stuff together, but right now he’s not looking so hot
9 Brian Wilson
*The numbers don't look too good, but still hasn't yielded a homer. He's still solid.
10 Jonathan Papelbon
11 Francisco Rodriguez
12 Carlos Marmol
13 J.J. Putz

*I think Putz found the fountain of youth. Now how do I get him to tell me?
14 Kyle Farnsworth/Jake McGee
*What is up with Farnsy? This guy really reinvented himself. And how to the Rays continually get the best out of players?
15 Joel Hanrahan
16 Jonathan Broxton

*How much longer does he have a job?
17 John Axford
*Noone else ready in the Brew-Crew’s pen is what’s keeping Axfords job safe
18 Francisco Cordero
19 Brandon League/David Aardsma
*Looking mighty good, but the job is Aardsma’s when he comes back, or is it?
20 Darren Oliver/Neftali Feliz
*Inflammation injuries always scare me because they tend to reacquire. I’d trade Feliz now and get whatever I can for him.
21 Brian Fuentes/Andrew Bailey
22 Jordan Walden/Fernando Rodney

*Young Walden is looking really good too!
23 Kevin Gregg
24 Brandon Lyon
25 Matt Capps/Joe Nathan
*Keep ahold of Nathan. Never let go (picture Leo in Titanic when you say that)
26 Sean Burnett/Drew Storen
27 Jon Rauch/Frank Francisco
28 Ryan Madson/Jose Contreras
*Hahaha….I hate to laugh, but 2 crappy closers hurt. Poor Philly. Especially with the staff they have.
29 Mitchell Boggs/Ryan Franklin
*Everyone hop of the closer carousel
30 Sergio Santos/Matt Thornton/Chris Sale
*Remember that game Guess Who with the all the pictures of different people, and each player had to guess different characteristics to try and figure out who the other player had?! Hey Ozzie, is you closer young? Was you closer a former middle reliver?....

This Weeks Pickups 4/25/11

Brett Wallace (Hou - 1B)
*Although he’s a little shaken up with injuries he’s still a solid up-an-comer. Wallace is a good pick-up for 12 team mixed leagues, especially keepers. I like the ceiling on this guy.

Jerry Sands (LAD - LF)
*Sands comes in with a lot of hoopla. He’s got some serious power, but shouldn’t be picked up in shallow league, however, should be picked up in deep leagues. Since most leagues use deep OFs, Sands is head and shoulders over some of the OFs being kept…*cough*Marlon Byrd*cough*

Jonathan Herrera (Col - 2B,3B)
*He’s not the starter, and will be splitting a lot of time with a couple people. Having said that, Colorodo sent Stewart down, Wiggy is older, and Jose Lopez isn’t Troy Tulowitzki. Herrera will find plenty of PT, but what will he do in that time? Certianly not what he’s doing now.

Nick Hundley (SD – C)
*Blegh! Catcher fonder. Hundley is an ok option of your current catcher sucks or is hurt.

Mitchell Boggs (StL - RP)
*Hello everyone, meet your new St. Louis Cardinals closer (Tony La Russa gives the death stare). Boggs is the closer, for now. I still think Franklin has the most Cardinals saves by the end of the year.

Jed Lowrie (Bos - 2B,SS)
*I like him, and Boston wanted to give the job to him a couple years ago, but he couldn’t handle it then. That’s why they have Scuturo. I think Lowrie sticks, and pushes Scuturo to the bench.

Travis Hafner (Cle - Util)
*Really?! This guy is being picked up?! Hacen’t we learned our lesson people?! Shame on you! Now go stand in the corner and think about who you picked up.

April 22, 2011

K-Man's Review of Kauffman Stadium




While on business in Kansas City, I decided to take in a few Royals games to see what Kauffman Stadium had to offer. I went to two ballgames with two different intentions. On a Sunday afternoon, I intended to sample the unique ballpark food and drink the cold beer while basking in the sun. During the week, I wanted to see how cheap I could attend a ballgame while maintaining certain creature comforts I have come to expect while attending live baseball. Before I left for the weekday ballgame, I checked the Royals website for Stadium rules. Like many ballparks, Kauffman allows you to bring unopened bottles of water/juice/soda and food into their stadium. I stopped at a 7-11 and picked up a bottle of water, and a bag of peanuts, costing me a grand total of 3.00. The stadium is surrounded by parking lots, all of which charge a modest 10.00 for entry. KC fans arrive early and tailgate in the parking lot, cheep beer being the beverage of choice. While many adorn the Red and Yellow of their beloved Chiefs, the majority of fans come wearing baby blue.

It is widely acknowledged that Royals attendance is less than stellar, so I was curious as to what type of seat I could get an hour before game time. My standard ticket request when purchasing day of game seats is "cheapest aisle seat you have available in the lower deck." Within seconds I was charged the nominal fee of 9.00 for a front row seat in the left field section known as the "fountain section." Once in the stadium, and after watching about 10 minutes of batting practice, I began to look around the park. Beyond right field sits "Rivals Sports Bar." This bar overlooks the field and serves a wide range of beer from Shock Top Belgian to your more standard Bud Light. The bar top itself is a unique design I have never seen before. The bar top is a piece of glass over peanuts (see picture below).

As would be expected from a ballpark in Kansas City, BBQ was the special menu item I was most interested in. During my weekend visit, I ordered a half rack of ribs, fries, and baked beans. The concourse is filled with picnic tables, so I sat down and ate my BBQ and washed it all down with a Summer Shandy....delicious. Walking around the stadium I discovered they had an unbelievable section for kids, including a whiffle ball field, a putt-putt golf course, and a video game room. Also, the Royals have their own Hall of Fame Room open to the public, which currently had a special display concerning baseball and the World Wars...all very cool. On my way back to my seat, I noticed a hot dog stand called "Dogs from around the league". This intrigued me. They had several regionally themed hot dogs on their menu, including a beer pairing. Being as I am a Chicago guy, I felt it neccessary to try the Chicago dog along with it's recommended beer pairing, Old Style. While the Chicago Dog was not quite up to Windy City specifications, it was still a nice taste of home. And just like in Chicago, the Old Style sucked.



The games on both days were very fun. The stadium wasnt even close to full, but the fans that were there were loud. The stadium has a huge jumbotron and LED screens wrapped around the ballpark, constantly updating the out of town scoreboard and providing fans with useless information about their players (Did you know Alex Gordon enjoys to knit during his downtime?) The fans and employees were all extremely friendly and took time to talk about their home park when told I was from out of town. As an individual who has been to a majority of the ballparks in the MLB, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed my time at Kauffman. It should make for an excellent All Star Game location in 2012.

Overall, I enjoyed myself more during the weekend game, because there were more people there, it was sunny, and I ate good food and drank a lot of ice cold beer. Total ballpark experience on a budget free Sunday was 68.00 (beer, food, ticket). On the weeknight game, I paid 3.00 for snacks I brought with me to the game, 10.00 for parking, and 9.00 for a ticket, making my night's total 22.00. That is big league baseball for Sally League prices. So make sure next time you are in KC, check out Kauffman stadium, cheer on the Royals, eat and drink, or save money and bring the whole family, and most importantly, have a great time!

April 21, 2011

Steroids (Take 2!)

I said when I wrote this article back in January of 2010 that it would be my first and last post on steroids.  That is partly true.  I'm not going to write a new article on the subject, but it is continually brought up and discussed ad nauseam so I thought I'd rehash my old article as much of it still applies.  Enjoy, and let me know what you think...

Is anybody else sick of hearing about this topic? Every couple months we get new information concerning the ‘steroid era’. I say Who Cares? For one it gives them extra media attention and publicity, so on top of all the money they made from taking steroids in the first place, they are now making even more off of steroids from all of the media attention. More importantly, true baseball fans are not concerned about who stuck who with what, instead they are counting down to the day pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to spring training (February 17th for some teams).

Now I will contradict myself and talk about steroids. This will be my first and last post on this subject.

To begin, I don’t care who took steroids and who didn’t. I know all of the effects, benefits, dangers, etc. and if you gave me $250 million to take steroids for a couple of years I would say, ‘where do I sign’. If you told me my team would have a better chance to win the World Series this year, but some of the players would need to take steroids, I’d find out where to get them and which players were willing to take the risk. That said, I do understand the risks they pose to young athletes and fans who may be tempted to use them so I am happy that there is finally an effort to eliminate them from baseball and sports in general (of course this doesn’t apply to football).

The big question that lingers is ‘should these players be voted into the Pro Baseball Hall of Fame or not’. My take. Unless you don’t let any player that played from 1985 to 2005 into the Hall of Fame, you have to let anyone in that put up the numbers worthy of this recognition. The reason. I am fairly confident that no one can give me a complete and accurate list of all of the players who took steroids at some point in their career. New information comes out all the time in the form of books, testimonies, lists, interviews, etc. We can not create the all-inclusive list today and we never will! On top of that, steroids have been around since the 1930s. Can you tell me with 100% certainty that none of the 231 current Hall of Famers ever took steroids?

If you want to designate an area of the hall as the steroid era, that is fine with me and I think would help the next generation of fans understand the over-reaching impact steroids has had on baseball over the past 10 or so years.

Would such a distinction punish the players that didn’t take steroids? Some people use the argument that players such as Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones and Todd Helton should not be penalized because of the actions of other players. I couldn’t disagree more. Again, you will never be able to say for sure who has and who hasn’t experimented with the drug (I highly doubt the players named have but I am simply trying to make a point). More importantly, the players who truly were clean are either the most ignorant people on the planet and had no idea what was going on or they sat back and enjoyed the benefits of inflated numbers and higher contracts as well, making them just as guilty of playing in the steroid era.

Finally, any fan who is interested in the Pro Baseball Hall of Fame will undoubtedly be able to look at stats, records, pictures, articles, tweets, etc. and determine for themselves how the players in question stack up against players of their own era as well as players that came before or after them. Thus allowing each baseball fan to evaluate how he or she perceives the era and keeping all of the players, politicians, coaches, media and MLB brass out of the discussion once and for all.

April 20, 2011

Latest Podcast

Furtah and I hit up the latest closer rankings. He tears into them, but I'm cool with it. We also talk about the latest update in power rankings.















Podcast Powered By Podbean

April 19, 2011

Closer Report (4/18/11)

1 Mariano Rivera
*This guy is 41? Rrriiight!
2 Neftali Feliz
3 Craig Kimbrel
4 Carlos Marmol
5 Chris Perez
6 Jonathan Broxton
7 Joakim Soria
*He just looks off, doesn’t he? This guy is getting traded. I see it now.
8 Brian Wilson
9 Huston Street
*If it wasn’t for last night, he’d be 7/7 in saves. Looking pretty darn good this year.
10 Jose Valverde
11 Francisco Rodriguez
12 Heath Bell
13 Jonathan Papelbon
*Bard, who?
14 Leo Nunez
*This whole team looks good. Surprise, surprise!
15 John Axford
16 Francisco Cordero
17 Joel Hanrahan
18 J.J. Putz
19 Brian Fuentes/Andrew Bailey

*Interesting to see what happens when Bailey comes back.
20 Kevin Gregg
*Baltimore says they may split time between Gregg and Uehara. No way!
21 Brandon Lyon
*This guy just keeps chugging along.
22 Jose Contreras
23 Matt Capps/Joe Nathan

*Wow! Huge change that I did not see coming. Capps was a solid closer last year, and I can see him sky-rocketing up this list, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if Nathan is the closer by the end of the year with the most saves for the Twins.
24 Sean Burnett/Drew Storen
*Storen closer by the end of the year. Write it down
25 Jordan Walden/Fernando Rodney
*Rodney will get the clean-ups saves, so still not a bad guy to own.
26 Jon Rauch/Frank Francisco
*I’m biased because I’m a Ruahc owner, but do they really need to give the job to Francisco?
27 Kyle Farnsworth/Jake McGee
*Farnsworth was looking good till Sunday night. Not a bad combo going forward
28 Brandon League/David Aardsma
29 Ryan Franklin

*UGLY. Blegh!
30 Matt Thornton/Chris Sale
*If Franklin is ugly, what does that make these guys? Let me look in the thesaures……
animal, appalling, awful, bad-looking, beastly, deformed, disfigured, foul, frightful, grisly, gross, grotesque, hard-featured, hideous, homely, horrid, ill-favored, loathsome, misshapen, monstrous, not much to look at, plain, repelling, repugnant, repulsive, revolting, unbeautiful, uncomely, uninviting, unlovely, unprepossessing, unseemly, unsightly.

Pick one!

April 18, 2011

Power Rankings - April Update

Well, It's been some time since I've updated my power rankings.  Its 3 weeks into the season and the last time we looked at it was January so I guess you could say we're overdue. 

Anyway, Here are my Power Rankings on April 18th, 2011;

1. Phillies(10-4)
2. Yankees (9-5)
3. Rangers (10-5)
4. Reds (9-6)
5. Rockies (12-3)
6. Angels (10-5)
7. Braves ( 7-9)
8. Brewers (7-8)
9. White Sox (7-8)
10. Red Sox (4-10)
11. Indians (11-4)
12. Giants (8-7)
13. Royals (10-5)
14. Tigers (7-9)
15. Cardinals (8-8)
16. Blue Jays (7-8)
17. Athletics (8-8)
18. Marlins (8-6)
19. Dodgers (7-9)
20. Twins (5-10)
21. Nationals (8-7)
22. Rays (6-9)
23. Cubs (7-8)
24. Padres (7-8)
25. Orioles (6-8)
26. Diamondbacks (6-8)
27. Pirates (7-8)
28. Mets (5-11)
29. Astros (5-11)
30. Mariners (5-11)

I tried not to over-react this early in the season, which is why you don't see the Red Sox at 25 and the Royals at 5; but, we are well into the season now with about 1/10th of the games having already been played.  One thing that stands out to me is the number of teams hovering around .500.  Obviously with so many games to be played a lot of teams will trend toward .500 ball, but you'd expect to see more outliers as the season goes on (and the good and bad teams start to identify themselves). 

Four teams fell more than 5 spots.  With the Rays (-12) and Red Sox (-6) leading the pack.  I think people got a little too excited about the additions of Manny and Damon and forgot that they were losing some big bats as well as a solid SP in Garza.  The Red Sox remain in the top ten, but if they don't get their starting pitching figured out they may fall further in our next installment.  Likewise, there were 4 teams that took a jump of more than 5 games.  I moved the Rockies and Angels from the middle of the pack to numbers 5 and 6, respectively.  They've shown to be competitive in the past couple years and the divisions they're in should allow them to compete all year.  I also moved the Royals and Indians from the bottom of the pack to right outside the top 10.  Sure, they could both fall back in the coming months, but I don't think putting them in the top half of the rankings is a stretch given what they've done so far. 

We've added a Power Rankings tab so you can keep up with our rankings throughout the year.  Check it out!

Waiver Wire Pick-ups 4/18/11

Jair Jurrjens (Atl – SP)
*I’ve always like Jair, but I’ve also always hated him. I like him because he reminds me of Derek Lowe. Quality starting pitcher, better in real life then in FBB, and can have solid outings. I hate him because the Tigers traded him away for Renteria, who then proceeded to have the worst year of his career, he doesn’t have a high K rate, and in some outings he can get rocked! After all that, I like this pick-up.
Jonny Gomes (Cin – LF)
*When I think of this guy, I think of that stupid Travelocity Gnome, who I just want to punt across the yard. Jonny Gnomes will always have power, but like Russel Branyan, he doesn’t have the skill set to be an everyday player. Gnomes is good for spurts, but not an entire season. Don’t roll the dice on this guy. You’ll either end up in Tuscaloosa (Travelocity Gnome), or with a 0.200 Avg a couple HRs and a massive hole in LF.
Jeff Francoeur (KC - RF)
*Oh, so we’re doing this dance again, are we? How many times are we going to get burned by this guy? But like that booty call you don’t want to see between the hours 6am – 1am, you’ll always keep coming back. Look, if Alex Gordon can turn it around, why not Francoeur? Franny was just as hyped coming into the majors as Gordon was, well maybe not as much, but a lot nonetheless. I give this my stamp of approval because this guy has a 25+HR season in him yet!
Miguel Tejada (SF - 3B,SS)
*Ugh, injury filler. Only pick him up if you need to fill a hole (LOL….I’m thinking of the booty call reference and now this)
Alexi Ogando (TEX – SP,RP)
*Wow! This guy looks phenomenal! Pick him up, but expect to only use him for the first half. He’ll flame out in the 2nd half like all the other young flame-throwers year after year…

April 15, 2011

Baseball Road Trip pt.4

Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, and honestly, I felt it. When we originally planned this road trip, I was most excited about going to Philly. I love history, and the eastern coast of America doesn’t get much more historical, and Philly was the center point to all of that. So to be walking and driving around that city was great. Plus I was hoping to meet The Fresh Prince of Bel Air on a home-trip. Yes, it was easy to see all the guys were excited to get into Philly, even after that horrendous night in the Sleazy Motel.

Now thinking back (I really should have written this down sooner) I don’t remember much about getting into Philly. The thing I do remember was the long, boring drive which paled in comparison to the longest drive, which was the drive home, which Furtah did, but we’ll get to that later. Other then the drive I only remember the game, after the game, and that’s it. Huh. Well, if that’s the case I’ll make something up. *The following is not true* So, as Furtah, The Kyles, and I drove to Philly we encountered a slew of obstacles, most of which had to be conquered solving riddles and puzzles. Several bridges guarded by trolls, Elves guarding pots ‘o gold, things of that nature. Luckily Kyle, my cousin, took several courses in riddle-solving, and The Furtahs were trained in the art of Medieval combat so we were well prepared (I usually cried in the corner). After those quests we went to the game. Oh yeah, I remember the awe I got being in a big city for the first time, looking around at all the big buildings trying to find the stairs that Rocky ran up.

Citizens Bank Park is amazing! Talk about a city that loves baseball. We scalped some tickets and let me tell you, not cheap. We were on the 3rd base line about, oh, a mile up! Still worth it, though. Every person in that stadium was into the game, moms, dads, sons, daughters, dogs, goldfish, everyone! We didn’t sit in our seats long because we had to cruise around. So many things to see, eat, and drink. Our first stop was Ashburn Alley. If you are any kind of baseball fan, you have to check this out! It’s also called All-Star Walk. It pays tribute to Phillies players that have played in the MLB All-Star Game since its inception in 1933. Wow. Great site-seeing too! Some of the food options were Bull's BBQ, Seasons Pizza, Planet Hoagie, and Harry The K's Bar. I personally had the Bull’s BBQ, Splendid dish. Now most might be thinking, “Jeremy, why didn’t you get a hoagie?!You’re in Philadelphia for crying out load!” *Sidenote* Furtah, the local-enthraller (word I just made up. Go ahead and use it) he is ate nothing, and I mean nothing, but Philly Steak sandwiches! He probably had like 5 in a day and half. At night, he brushed his teeth with one. Well my young Jedis, the plan was in place to visit a place outside the stadium, a place where only the taste of a certain sandwich, hoagie if you will, exceeds its legend. A place called….wait for it…..do these dots build suspense?.....Carmen’s on 12th! Indeed sir! That’s all we could talk about! Grabbing a cold beer and chowing down on a world famous hoagie. Oh, yeah, the game! That was fun too! We got back to our seats after we cruised around, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. They played the Cardinals, so not only did we get to see all of the great Philladelphia sluggers, we also got to see Albert Pujols. One of the greatest hitters of our time and perhaps ever (I totally have a man-crush on Sir Albert. Ask my wife, she’s totally jealous). It alnso helps to play fantasy baseball and have some investment in the teams.

Once the game was over we piled into the car and shuffled to Carmen’s. Great joint. So cool driving around the old city seeing history, and did I mention the people?! When we stepped into the bar we immediately got pegged as tourists and these guys talked our ears off about sports! They were razzing us about Detroit, we bought each other rounds of drinks, had some laughs and good times. As cool as this was, it paled to the experience of taking the first bite of a “real” hoagie. Biting into that sandwich was comparable to a lot of “firsts”. First homerun. First date. First_____ go ahead and fill In the blank because I’m sure I lost your attention awhile ago *wink*.

Overall, the trip was a complete success. We got to meet a lot of great people. Saw some great sites. Watched a great baseball team, and enjoyed some phenomenal food. Will the next destination, New York, compare? Will these small town kids be scared off by the bright lights and tall buildings? Will I be cast in a Woody Allen movie as a plucky young go-getter just trying to make a buck? So many questions that only time can answer.

April 14, 2011

Latest Podcasts

Check out the latest podcasts at our In-Season Fantasy Baseball page. I added a cool repeating feature so it sounds like I'm Lou Gehrig at Yankee Stadium.

April 11, 2011

Closer Report

1 Mariano Rivera

2 Neftali Feliz *He’s just looking nasty!
3 Joakim Soria *Rocky start, but he’s nailing it down now
4 Craig Kimbrel
5 Carlos Marmol
6 Chris Perez *Clearly a building block for the Indians. He’s good!
7 Jose Valverde
8 Francisco Rodriguez
9 Heath Bell
10 Brian Wilson
11 Jonathan Papelbon
12 Jonathan Broxton
13 Huston Street *Looking like the dominant closer I remember drafting many moons ago
14 John Axford *I was worried for a bit, but he’s strokin’ it now
15 Francisco Cordero
16 Leo Nunez
17 Joel Hanrahan
18 J.J. Putz
19 Joe Nathan *clearly the closer, and I don’t think the Twinkies will be coddling him too much longer
20 Kevin Gregg
21 Brandon Lyon
22 Jose Contreras *Well, he’s the closer. I’m just waiting for those patented “Contreras moments” when he forgets to pitch for a week or 2.
23 Sean Burnett *Well, he’s the closer. Ha! I think Storen will take back over in the 2nd half, but he’s good for 10-ish saves.
24 Ryan Franklin *Brutal, just brutal. But he’ll get the save opportunites regardless of performance. They have noone else and La Russa loves him.
25 Brandon League/David Aardsma
26 Matt Thornton/Chris Sale *Who’s the closer?! Does it matter?
27 Jordan Walden/Fernando Rodney *Walden is the man, but Rodney will snake some saves here and there.
28 Brian Fuentes/Grant Balfour/Andrew Bailey
29 Kyle Farnsworth/Jake McGee
30 Jon Rauch/Frank Francisco *1, 2 ,3 ,4 ,5 you ain’t got no alibi you Ugly, ya, ya you Ugly

Visit Our In-Season Page for the latest on closers

Waiver Wire Pick-ups

Take a look at the latest waiver wire pick-ups and analysis:

Coco Crisp (Oak - CF)

- I think this is a good pickup. He's a guy that can be Angel Pagan for a tenth of the cost. If he pans out, you may have a 15/15 guy, if not, who cares! At least you have a guy with one of the coolest names in MLB.

Justin Masterson (Cle - SP)
- Can't say I like this pick-up. Yes the Indians are doing awesome, and Masterson is showing some signs of life, but is it for real? I don't think so! There are a lot of SPs with higher ceilings.

Ben Francisco (Phi - OF)
-I could quote myself about how I've liked this guy from the begining, but I won't. This guy has 20/20 upside, nice move!

Willie Bloomquist (Ari - 3B, SS, OF)
-Only for the short term in NL only leagues would I recommend pickin him up. He's only playing because of injuries, but I guess if your team has been hit hard with DLers, then this makes sense till they come back.

Asdrubal Caberera (Cle - SS)/Maicer Izturis (LAA - 2nd, SS, 3B)
-I grouped them together because you should only pick either one up only if you've been devasted by injuries. These guys are only good in AL/NL only leagues.

Russel Martin (NYY - C)
-Signs of life! There are worse catchers out there, so why not?! Do it!

Lance Berkman (StL - 1B, OF)
- He's showing some life, but little pop. I like the versitility, but give me something more then walks. Only in a deep mixed league would I pick him up. 12+ teams. NL only he should be drafted already. He does have some up side.

This Weeks Pick-ups 4/11/11

April 8, 2011

Keeper, Sleeper, Bust

        -Also known as Buy, Sell, Hold

Each week I try to highlight 3 players you should keep even though they are struggling, 3 potential sleepers you should add to your watch list and 3 guys who are struggling and may not turn it around any time soon. So here goes, Keepers, Sleepers and Busts after week one of the season!



Keeper/Hold

These are the players who are performing below expectations to this point, but that I think are worth hanging on to as better days are ahead. This list was a little tough to put together this week as you shouldn’t be dropping many players or trading them below value this early in the season, but here are my thoughts.

Alex Rios - With the White Sox offense clicking on all cylinders early, it tough being a Rios owner since he’s hasn’t joined the party just yet. I think their offense will be strong all year and with him hitting right in the middle of it, I think better days are ahead (especially when we get into the warmer months).

Shin-Soo Choo – Another player whose team is scoring a bunch of runs while he’s struggling out of the gate. It has to be tough seeing the recent Indians box scores only to find out that Choo went 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts. Its early, be patient, my guess is he’ll still get to 20/20 this year with a chance for more.

Red Sox Hitters- The whole team is playing poorly (hence their 0-6 start to the season). I’m not sold that their starting pitching will be strong enough to finish first in the AL East, but their offense will score runs and its only a matter of time before guys like Youklis, Pedroia, Crawford, etc. are raking up the stats we all anticipate.




Sleeper/Buy

Players that may still be available in your league that have gotten off to a hot start, which I think they can keep up. Remember, you’re not dropping your top guys for the ’sleeper’. Some will tail off, but some will be type of players who help owners win Championships.

Alex Gordon- I think I’ve had Gordon in the Sleeper section before (nobody’s perfect), but I think this could be the year he finally delivers and makes his fantasy owners happy. The main reason I feel this way is it’s the first year he’s not on my squad so he’ll probably win the MVP, haha. Anyway, he’s hitting in the 3 hole for an improved Royals offense (not saying much) and he’s always had the talent just hasn’t been able to fulfill it at the major league level. I think he does this year.

Drew Stubbs- He’s had the power and speed combination for a couple years now, but we’ve never been guaranteed full time at bats. I don’t think that is an issue anymore as Stubbs in entrenched atop the Reds lineup. Last year he hit 22 HRs and stole 30 bases. I think those numbers are attainable again, with some upside from there. I also think he can improve his .255 average, though his current .305 is probably asking too much.

Russell Martin – I debated which category to put him in, as you might be able to deal him to a Yankee fan who thinks he going to win the MVP. However; I decided to leave him in the sleeper section. Just two years ago Martin was mentioned in the same breath as guys like McCann, Martinez, etc and at the very least he was a sure fire top 5 catcher. Injuries and ineffectiveness pushed him off draft boards and onto the waiver wire in most standard leagues. I think he can return to the days of being a top 5-10 catcher. The injury was a hip injury and he’s already stolen two bags, which means he’s probably over that injury. There is some risk but if he’s on the WW or available cheap I’d buy.



Bust/Sell

–See what you can get, they won’t keep up their current pace all year.

Derek Jeter – He may not fit the definition above (he may keep up this pace all year), but I still think he is a bust/sell at this point. I thought he was done last year then I read a handful of articles that convinced me he would have a bounce back year. I don’t know what I was thinking (and thank God I didn’t draft him). He’s old and his stats have been declining recently (except for a 2009 that came out of nowhere). I don’t think he’s a top 5 SS anymore and I’d try to sell him for something while you still can.

Alfonso Soriano – Could he have another couple weeks of top flight stats, sure. Will he suddenly start playing like he’s a real 34 (instead of a ‘latin’ 34)? I highly doubt it. If you drafted him take advantage of this hot start and try to sell high, if he’s still available on the waiver wire there’s a reason – nobody else believes he’ll keep this up either.

Raul Ibanez- MVP candidate in his age 39 season? I doubt it. He’s a decent enough roster filler, but he only hit 16 HRs last year in 561 at bats. I don’t think a line of 70/20/75/5/2.75 is out of the question, but how many other OFers will have similar or better stats? I’d take advantage of the hot start and see if one of the other owners in your league is buying into his resurgence.


* pictures courtesy of Yahoo! Sports

April 7, 2011

Record Breaking Attendance Numbers!

     While I wish I could follow that headline up by saying the Indians broke the record for most fans at a game or most consecutive sellouts or something similar, sadly it refers to the Indians dreadful turnouts for their opening weekend series vs. the White Sox and worse their early season series against a Red Sox team with all sorts of buzz to start off the year. I also intended to write about my first couple games as one of the new Stat Stringers for MLB.com and the Indians, but all anybody wants to talk about is the empty Progressive field seats. After Tuesdays victory over Boston a reporter even tweeted “If the Red Sox lose in Cleveland, but there’s nobody there to see it, does it still count”. While I think that is pretty clever, I think Red Sox fans have more to worry about then the Indians tickets sales, but I digress.

    
     Cleveland is a city that held the record for most consecutive sellouts with 455 throughout the late 90’s and into the 20th century. They also had 41,000 plus for opening day, however that number has dropped to under 10,000 for 4 consecutive games. I listen to many of the local radio shows and when fans call in to say why they aren’t interested in heading down to the ballpark there are many different reasons.

     The reason most often given is that the weather is keeping the fans from coming out. I think you’d be naïve to believe that the weather has nothing to do with it. It’s been cold with temperatures in the 30’s and 40’s, it’s been cloudy with the sun barely popping through, and there has been rain with some snow mixed in here and there. That’s not what I think of when I think of baseball (though living in Cleveland I should probably reevaluate). The other side says “Clevelanders will sit out in freezing weather for hours tailgating and watching the lowly Browns, so the weather has nothing to do with it”. Well, as mentioned, when you think of football you think fall/winter weather so it is expected, when you think of baseball you think spring and summer (they are the boys of summer after all). More importantly in football you only have 8 chances to see your team each year. In baseball you get 81 opportunities and you don’t have to plan months in advance to get your seats. Why go sit in rainy, low 40 degree weather when you can wait a couple weeks/months and watch the same product in shorts and a t-shirt with an ice cold beer instead of a snow suit, blanket and hot chocolate.

     Another reason given is that the product on the field is not worth paying to see. Can teams come from nowhere to have great seasons? Sure, just look at the run the Padres had last year or the World Champion Giants from the same division. The Padres were picked by most experts to finish last and even though the Giants do have a high payroll, that’s because of some pretty bad contracts and they were also picked to finish at the back end of the NL West. Every year you can point to a couple teams who finish much higher than predicted. Still, on average, the teams with the higher payrolls tend to do better than the ‘rebuilding’ teams. A small market team winning the World Series is like Butler making the NCAA championship game. It can happen, but the occurrences are few and far between.

     The Cleveland Indians have the second lowest payroll going into 2011, they finished 2010 with 69 wins and 93 loses, they did very little in free agency and kept their top prospects down for a little more seasoning (arbitration clock stalling). Then after all of the spring training momentum and a great opening day crowd (many of whom took the day off from work) they’re down 14-0 in the 4th inning with their ace (and only pitcher many fans have even heard of) out of the game in the 3rd. I don’t know about you but that doesn’t scream exciting, young and talented to me. Now I do think they have some young and talented players, but most of the 41,000 opening day fans don’t spend the majority of their free time researching baseball.

     Ownership is another common theme. There’s an old saying ‘which comes first the chicken or the egg’, or in our case do you spend the money to bring in the big name players to draw fans, or do the fans need to come out to the ballpark to support the team so the owner has enough money to go out and get those free agents? With most teams it’s not that big an issue. Why? Because most professional sports owners have enough money where they can spend some of it here and there and if their gambles don’t work out they are ok. In other words, they are billionaires so what’s a hundred million here and there. We’ll the Dolan’s aren’t billionaires, they’re millionaires and in the sports world that is a huge difference. They bought the club in the late 90’s when all things were golden. The club was winning the economy was booming, what could go wrong. We’ll the team has gone through a rough patch, err… rebuilding period and American are watching their wallets more meaning there is a healthy competition for their entertainment dollars. I’m not saying they need to go out and rack up a $150 million payroll, but they do need to put a winner on the field before fans spend that money on the Tribe. Let’s face it, if they’re going to be a below average professional sports team in Cleveland they’re going to have plenty of competition.

     Some people put heat on the front office; personally I believe they’ve done a pretty good job. They’ve at least been competitive over the years with a payroll near the bottom of the league. That’s more than the Pirates and Royals can say. Also, while we’re still waiting to see many of the returns from the Sabathia, Lee and Victor trades, they did turn Casey Blake into Carlos Santana and Mark DeRosa into Chris Perez respectively. Also, no matter whose minor league prospect rankings you look at the Indians have a number of top 100 players and Baseball American rated the Indians 2010 draft class #1 overall. The only problem is that when all of these prospects are ready to contribute, will the Indians still have Sizemore, Choo, Carmona, etc. or will we have more top 100 prospects that we’re waiting for? That’s the cycle the fans are growing tired of. They get to know a player, buy their jersey, the kids get autographs and then the player is either traded or leaves via free agency because ownership can’t or won’t pay them.

     Why all the doom and gloom from this Tribe fan? I have confidence that they can hang around and compete in the AL Central, but does anyone have confidence that if they do they’ll be able to go out and make some moves at the deadline to improve the club for the stretch run? That would be uncharacteristic of this ownership group. Over a handful of games the Indians have shown that their offense can score some runs, their defense should be solid and the bullpen has been lights out. If the starting pitching comes around they could really surprise some folks. If the Indians can put together a solid April by playing .500 or better baseball it will generate some excitement and the fans will come out.

     As I write this the Indians just swept the Red Sox, ace Carmona threw a gem and they are headed out on their first road trip riding a four game win streak. Oh and the attendance today was 10,594; definitely a step in the right direction!

April 5, 2011

New York Yankee Ballpark Factors

A lot has been written about MLB’s ballpark from a fantasy perspective, and from a general fan perspective, but my viewing pleasure came to blows with Yankee stadium this past Sunday, 4/3/11, when I was watching my beloved Detroit Tigers take on the Evil Empire, AKA, New York Yankees. I forgot the inning and count, but Max Scherzer was on the mound and Robinson Cano was batting. Robbie Cano hit this ball that, from my initial reaction looked like it was a bloop pop-fly, but the ball kept going, and going, and going…Finally it rested on the other side of the right field wall for a homerun. A homerun! As Mario Impemba, Detroit Tigers announcer put it, “in any other ballpark, that’s an out.” I was so enraged! I wanted to write Bud Selig and call for a total renovation of Yankee stadium. I wanted the heads of the architects of Yankee stadium! I wanted everything!! RAR!! Some of this rage could have stemmed from my Tigers almost blowing a 5-3 lead and getting swept, but I didn’t care, it was just another reason to hate the Yankees.

After the Tigers won, and my rage was subsided…for now, I started in on my research, and found some great articles, by some great writers. Here is one from fantasy writer Tristan Cockcroft, whom I greatly respect:




Tristan breaks down Yankee stadium, among others, and really gets into the perception of al the stadiums. He explains that ballparks factors boil down to what each person believes and it’s “real” impact on hitters. His argument for Yankee stadium stems from another great writer, Rob Neyer. His article is:




Now unfortunately you have to be an insider to view Rob’s article, but he gets into the nitty gritty numbers about how Yankee stadium isn’t a homer haven. A good read.


After reading all that…I still wasn’t convinced! Yankee stadium had to have the shallowest of all the stadiums alive! Heck, I think my dog (pictured right) could hit a bomb in right field! Wrong again. According to Clem Baseball, Yankee stadium doesn’t have the shallowest right field, that honor goes to the Phillies, at 281ft.


Well, I’m convinced. Yankee stadium isn’t the Tater-making park I thought, but sometimes data doesn’t justify what I see. What I see are balls flying outta that park like nobody’s business. Maybe Tristan is write, poor perception is a bad thing that leads to misconception and being misinformed, but sometimes you just gotta go with your gut and say, “nuts to your (air quotes) “data”, ignorance is bliss.”

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April 1, 2011

Reasons To Become A Hardcore Baseball Fan


1. Actually going to a game o I’m a Detroiter, and I’ve been to every major sporting event venue, and nothing compares to Comerica, to a baseball game. Basketball and hockey are cramped and indoors, and with a few exceptions, same with football. Being outside, sun shining; eating a hot dog with close friends/family… there’s like nothing like it.


2. The Price Per Ticket o NFL - $75 o NHL – Over $50 o NBA - $48 o MLB - $22 o So if I want to take my family of 4, I’ll have to: - Take out a 2nd mortgage on my house to see my Lions play - Sell my car to see my Red Wings play - Get a second job to see my Pistons play - Raid my couch cushions to see my Tigers play oWhich one seems more realistic?


3. The game is actually fun to watch Ok, hold on! Before you skip ahead! I’m serious! I know it doesn’t seem like that, especially when you compare it to the, always in motion NHL & NBA, but there really is a lot going on. The way I look at it, MLB is the thinking man’s game. A Chess match, a battle of wits, and so on and so forth. Each player, almost every pitch, has a little battle going on, and every swing means something, well, not if the score is 12 – 0 in the 8th inning. Watch a game and really break down what’s going on. Where’s the batter want to place his hit? Did the manager shift his infield/outfield? Who’s on deck? How’s does the batter hit against lefties/righties? Etc.


4. The actual players themselves This isn’t your daddy's ball players, with their guts hanging out, chewing tobacco and looking like porn-stars. The players aren’t the roided out freaks that can lift buildings and make the bats they were swinging with look like toothpicks. No, today’s players are multitalented athletes that look and act like professionals. Guys like Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, are exciting to watch! These guys run hard, and play even harder, and with teams getting more and more money, your favorite players are a little more likely to stay with a team longer. Look at what Colorado did by signing their 2 stars to long term contracts. Other teams have been, and are doing that too!


5. Fantasy Baseball If you know me, then you know fantasy baseball (FBB) and I have a deep intimate relationship together. We are soul-mates. If FBB was a woman….ok….little too far. Anyway, FBB is the best way to get connected to baseball. It allows you to really get to know the select few guys on your team, and without realizing it, you begin to watch them play and get excited when you see them do good, and before long…uh-o…you’re watching baseball games and liking it! MLB network has brought on some great tools to help with all this. They have an interactive viewing experience where you can upload you fantasy team to your MLB TV and it’ll constantly update you when yours players are up and how they are doing. It’s great!

6. Part of an exclusive club

Who doesn’t want to go into the VIP room? Who doesn’t want to have their name on that fancy list that huge guy is holding? Being a baseball fan is kind of like that. There are so few “real” fans out there. How many casual people are “fans” of football? I bet I can go up to any person, heck, woman and ask if they know Peyton Manning. Reggie Bush. Adrian Peterson. I bet they will all say yes, I know him. Now go up to the same people and ask if they know Albert Pujols. Troy Tulowitzki. Hanley Ramirez. No way they know any of them. It’s kind of cool having that little “in” that few others do. Now let me into that tiny room with Justin Timberlake and Cristal being poured over those women!

7. History Professional baseball has been around since 1869. 1869!! That’s almost 150 years! I bet Peter Gammons was just starting out then. So when those announcers rattle off those weird stats, reference no-name players, and talk about those good ‘ol days, know that this game is a part of American history. This game was played during the Civil War. I'm getting nostalgic, but that’s what baseball is. I think James Earl Jones said it best in Field of Dreams:


“The one constant through all the years, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This game: it's a part of our past. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.”