Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category

Celebrate Nothing

The inevitable happened last night.

I was waiting for it, dreading it, hating it, and disgusted by it. But it finally happened.

Alex Rodriguez hit number 660 last night.

Ugh.

Let me not mince words here, this makes me sick. Just because I knew it was coming, doesn’t lessen the blow at all. The biggest cheater and piece of garbage in the history of our game just passed one of the all-time legends in career home runs, Willie Mays.

Let that sink in. You grew up hearing about Mays. You’ve seen highlights of the catch, you’ve heard your father and your grandfather talk about him being the greatest baseball player there ever was. And now you get a front row seat to watch A-Rod disgrace his legacy.

Was 660 already tainted because of Barry Bonds? Probably. But that was his godson. Mays more or less accepted that Bonds was going to pass his career HR total, and made it easier for the rest of us to accept it because he seemed more or less okay with it.

But have you heard a word from Mays about Rodriguez? Any congratulations? Anything? Yeah, neither have I. Silence speaks volumes.

I’ve actually heard people suggest that we should celebrate this. That his achievements are still noteworthy, even with the steroids mixed in. That’s absurd. Every record he breaks means absolutely nothing and will be forever tainted. I actually saw a few people giving him a standing ovation last night.

The only standing ovation I’m going to give is for the next pitcher who throws a fastball at this guy’s face.

 

 

Spring Fever, Week One

As the Grapefruit and Cactus League schedules get underway, there are a few questions that keep running through my head. Who will be the Rays shortstop? Who will be the odd men out in the Red Sox outfield? Will Kris Bryant start the season in the majors? Could Alex Rodriguez implode under the weight of his own ego? Will thefoulline.com crew finally settle on a suitable date for a Port Charlotte game?

So many unanswered questions, but I know one thing for sure. The games have started, and baseball is back! Take a day off from work, grab a beer and a hot dog and head out to some spring training games. I promise you won’t regret it. The baseball season is a six month grind, but spring training is only one month out of the year. That makes it special in its own way.

The season will be here soon enough. Enjoy the spring fever while it lasts.

Start of Spring Quick Hits

  • SportsCenter has begun giving us live play-by-play coverage of every Alex Rodriguez spring training plate appearance. I will now be abstaining from all things SportsCenter until opening day.
  • Yu Darvish needs Tommy John, Cliff Lee has already had elbow soreness, and Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow seems to be held together by paper clips. All the round 3-5 pitchers seem to be giving out already. Grabbing an ace early may be more important than ever this year.
  • Team Yankeehaters swears they aren’t taking a pitcher in the first two rounds. Surprisingly, I believe him.
  • Pedro Alvarez hit the first home run of the spring. Potential bounce back? 35 home runs can’t be ignored in an age where power is dying.
  • Which round will Ginger gamble on the Joey Votto bounceback? Round 4? Perhaps round 5?
  • Allan and I made an observation when watching a spring game that Anthony Rendon looked 20 pounds overweight. Let’s hope his uniform was just baggy that day. He’s an exciting young star.
  • Speaking of Allan, it’s only a week in, and Bryce Harper has already gotten on his nerves.
  • I still wanna go to jetBlue Park one day. It’s the best stadium in the Grapefruit League.

13 days!

Please Go Away

Wasn’t 2014 a great baseball season?

The World Series was awesome and came down to the final out. The Royals’ postseason run was amazing to watch. Derek Jeter’s farewell tour was both fitting and well deserved, and Bud Selig finally stepped down after years of ignoring small-market teams.

But the best part of the 2014 season?

Alex Rodriguez was nowhere to be found.

© New York Post
© New York Post

I must admit, I thought this was the end for A-Rod. I figured there would be no way he could return after taking an entire season off. I thought his steroid riddled body would finally break down and his crappy skill set would be gone for good. But no, that glorious day will have to wait.

Seriously, is there a bigger clown in baseball in the last 30 years than this guy? He cheats the game, cheats on his wife, cheats the Yankees out of buckets of cash, and cheats us fans at the opportunity to see him limp out of the game unceremoniously after his one-year suspension.

The latest line of garbage is that A-Rod wants to meet Brian Cashman and the Yankees face to face, to “clear the air.” How he can say this with a straight face I have no idea. The Yankees have tried everything in their power to get rid of him, short of eating the $150 million or whatever is left on his contract to make him go away. Maybe it’s worth it?

I don’t know what he has to gain from continuing to embarrass himself like this. Is money really THIS important to him? So much so that he would be willing to endure the sandstorm of jeering and ridicule heading his way this year? Or could it be that he desperately wants to break baseball records so that he can taint them in some form of “revenge” against everyone?

Whatever it is, I guess one good thing comes from all this. He’s giving baseball fans all around the country one last chance to tell him how we really feel about him. It’s the Alex Rodriguez farewell tour.

Much like his chances of being voted into the Hall of Fame, let’s just hope it ends quickly.

MLB Offseason Review

Hey everyone, Dan here.

Ever since the San Francisco Giants recorded the final out against the Kansas City Royals in the World Series last year, this date has just been flashing in my head…. April 5th… April 5th….

Despite the winter seeming to drag on forever, the Super Bowl is now over. And that means we are officially on the fast track to baseball’s opening day. But that’s not to say that the winter didn’t produce some real highlights. This was perhaps the most crazy, active, and wild offseason in baseball in the last 20 years. But who put themselves in the best position? Who gutted their team? It’s time for thefoulline.com’s official offseason review!

The Nationals Don’t Need Any More Pitching

So what do you do if you lead Major League Baseball in ERA and get knocked out of the postseason because you scored 9 runs in 4 games? You make upgrading your offense the goal of your offseason, right? Nah, you go out and give Max Scherzer $210 million. The Nationals go with the “you strengthen your strength” approach and it gives them the strongest MLB rotation since the 1995 Atlanta Braves. If they can get anything close to what Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman are capable of, Washington has to be considered the World Series favorite.

The Padres Want to Be Relevant Again

Finish last in the majors in runs? No problem. Add Matt Kemp? Check. Add Justin Upton? Check. Add Wil Myers? Check. The Padres GM gets a gold star for his offseason, taking big steps to rebuild this team and energize a franchise that hasn’t been interesting in a long time. The real kicker here is that they managed to completely rebuild their offense without giving up a single one of their top three prospects. New Padres GM AJ Preller looks to be a rising superstar in the GM ranks.

Cole Hamels Is Still a Phillie… For Now

I expect this to change. The Phillies have nothing to gain from keeping Hamels. They’re easily the worst team in that division, and it would serve them well to get Hamels’s contract off the books and bring in some young talent to fully start their rebuilding process. Add Ryan Howard and Jonathan Papelbon to the list of Phillies players that need new homes in 2015. I still think the Hamels deal gets done. The Phillies will lower their price as the season approaches. Prediction? Hamels is pitching in Fenway Park in 2015.

Billy Beane Has Either Lost His Marbles, or He’s Five Steps Ahead of Everyone

So is Oakland trying to contend, or trying to rebuild? I’m lost here. They trade their best player, Josh Donaldson, for prospects, then turn around and flip their #1 prospect to Tampa Bay for Ben Zobrist. They sign Billy Butler for $30 million, but then flip away Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and Derrick Norris. I know Billy Beane has entered into the Bill Belichick territory of “trust him no matter what,” but even I can’t figure out what he’s doing. I think I’m gonna go watch Moneyball again.

The Red Sox Retool; the Rays Restock

The two best teams in the AL East in 2013 both tanked to the bottom of the division in 2014. The Red Sox rebuilt their entire rotation and the left side of their infield. I’m not a huge fan of Pablo Sandoval, but leaving AT&T Park can only be good for him. I think Hanley Ramirez loses a lot of his value moving away from shortstop, but there’s no debate, if he’s healthy, his bat will tear up Fenway Park. I don’t think the Red Sox are done. In a division that’s really up for grabs in 2015, a Cole Hamels trade could make the Red Sox favorites to take back the AL East crown.

The Rays dealt away several fan favorites, lost Joe Maddon and Andrew Freidman, and hired the youngest manager in the Major Leagues. But this was necessary. Tampa Bay went all out trying to win a World Championship in 2014, and it failed miserably. Now it’s time to get younger, rebuild the farm, and take a new approach to contending. This will be a down year for the Rays, but they’re not quite in full rebuilding mode yet.

What did your team do this offseason? Are they contenders or pretenders? Let us know what you think of how your team’s winter went. Spring training is right around the corner, and I think 2015 is going to be the best year at thefoulline.com in a long time.

Pitchers and Catchers report in 12 days!

Everybody Talks

Apparently I went to a baseball game yesterday. I say apparently, because I found my ticket stub on the kitchen counter this morning, and a cooler with a couple of beers in it in my car. But oddly enough, I don’t recall watching a minute of baseball.

This could only mean one of two things. I’ve either had a stroke, or the gang from thefoulline.com got together for the second year in a row to “watch” a game.

It was another spring training game, where we found our spot by the left field berm and commenced with three hours of baseball talk. The usual subjects were covered: the upcoming draft, our spots, who are the October Boys taking #1,  why are the Yankees and Rays so unlikable, and is it possible for Allan to drink all the beer at Charlotte Sports Park?

It was a great time, with knowledgeable baseball fanatics. Thanks to Dan “The #1 Rays Fan” for setting it up, and to Willis, Mike, Allan, & Dennis for coming out. It’s nice that we can still be friends, before the competition starts in a few weeks.

I still have no idea who won the game.

The First Days of Spring

Another Spring Training is upon us! The sun is shining. The grass is freshly cut. The birds are singing. Baseball is back!

And I still despise the Tampa Bay Rays.

I feel the need to clarify this, because today I spent yet another morning at the Rays Spring Training facility in the beautiful, historic town of Port Charlotte. My motivation to go see the Rays practice is always the same. I get to spend a few hours in the beautiful weather watching baseball, and if I can trip a few Rays players while I’m there, even better!

Here are my short and sweet observations from Rays camp today:

  • I watched every catcher in the Rays system practice throwing to the bases. Newcomer Ryan Hanigan has the worst arm out of all of them.
  • Grant Balfour was already in mid-season form with his potty mouth. He dropped more F-bombs during practice than the first hour of Pulp Fiction. But he curses in Australian, so it wasn’t that bad.
  • Chris Archer looked great today, and it wasn’t hard to notice that everyone in the Rays organization likes this kid. Brains and talent!
  • It was easy to see that David Price and Evan Longoria have taken a leadership-by-example approach this season. Both guys were the first ones in the drill lines, and would run to the next field during their 15-minute rotations.
  • Jose Molina is still really fat.
  • Not to beat a dead horse, but how does Dave Martinez not have a manager job yet? Even worse, you don’t even hear him being in the discussion anymore.
  • The Rays will win the AL East and play in the World Series this year.

I’m going to go watch practice again later this week. I’ll be sure to bring a few Rays voodoo dolls with me.

Off He Goes

There are 750 active players on Major League Baseball rosters. 30 teams, consisting of 25 players. With such a large number of players, there are bound to be a few bad apples in the mix. Alex Rodriguez, A.J. Pierzynski, & Carlos Gomez come to mind as being world class jerks. Unfortunately, it’s these guys that tend to get the attention of the media. Steroids, pimping homeruns, initiating bench clearing brawls, are just a few of the “contributions” that these guys make to the league. I cringe whenever these guys are on the news getting the headlines that have little to do with the game of baseball.

The reason for dusting of thefoulline.com keyboard on a random Sunday in February, is that one of the true good guys in sports has made the decision to step away from the game today. Ryan Dempster chose today to not play baseball in 2014, and forfeit his 13 million dollar salary, citing physical & personal issues. Dempster could have easily just gone on the disabled list, and try and figure out how to spend the millions of dollars coming to him in unearned salary.

Ryan Dempster epitomized mediocrity during his 16 year career. This is evident by his 132-133 win/loss record. But, he was always an affable, hard nosed, competitor that was genuine role model to the kids that watch the game.

All signs are pointing to him retiring from baseball. If so, I’m glad that I was able to see him play a season for the Red Sox. I appreciate the respect he showed for the game, when he drilled A-Rod last year. But, I’m most happy that he was finally able to win a World Series, in what might be his final season.

It’s about time the good guy finished first.

Question Authority

Tomorrow I’m going to my fifth and final Spring Training game. I hadn’t planned on going to any more, but RedRays (Trent) made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. RedRays is one of those guys that gets along with everyone and has friends from many walks of life. One of those friends is MLB umpire Chad Fairchild.
Chad Fairchild photo by Adrian Wyld
Chad Fairchild has been umpiring in the big leagues since 2004. He’s been involved in two Division Series, and he was also on the field for A-Rod’s infamous “got it” call when running towards third base in Toronto.

One of the perks of being friends with an umpire… four free tickets to every MLB game in which he is umpiring.

RedRays took advantage of this a few years ago and traveled up to Fenway Park to catch a game. Tomorrow, he’s getting taken care of again, but this time it’s Port Charlotte for a split-squad game. Hey, any baseball is good baseball.

The reason I’m writing this post is that I hope to meet Chad Fairchild and maybe ask a few questions for the site. So, I pose this question to the readers. If you could ask an MLB umpire any question, what would it be? I’ll ask him the best ones tomorrow.

Blowin’ In the Wind

My good friend Dylan – original thefoulline.com fantasy league member and Foul Line contributor – and I have a tradition where we go to at least one spring training game a year. This has been going on for several years, and it’s always a great time. The thing about going to a game with Dylan is that something crazy/fun/outlandish happens every time. That, and I’m pretty certain that we’ve never witnessed a Red Sox victory. During the years of going to games with Dylan, some of the highlights have been seeing the two Red Sox World Series trophies and getting great pictures with them, getting interviewed by MLB.tv, the Jed Lowrie foul ball game, meeting Nick from the Penalty Box bar in Rhode Island, the Great Ellsbury Birthplace Debate, and meeting Dewayne Staats. But today’s game may have been the craziest. Today’s game will be known as “the one where we almost watched someone die.”

The best thing about going to a game with Dylan is the constant banter. All the topics are covered: baseball, personal lives, politics, travel, The Foul Line. It’s always witty, and I’m constantly laughing. It makes for a great baseball viewing experience. A few weeks back, Dylan texted me and asked if I wanted to go see the Sox and Cardinals play on February 26th at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers. He was going to get standing-room-only Green Monster tickets. Of course I was in.

I picked him up at his house for the five-minute drive to the park. Upon getting to the stadium an hour and a half early, we noticed a strong 30-mph wind blowing straight out to center field. It was going to be a bad day to be a pitcher. Dylan grabbed a sausage & pepper sandwich with a Sam Adams. I opted for the Fenway Frank and a 312 wheat beer, and we made our way to the top of the Green Monster. The thing about jetBlue Park is that that everyone working there is a prick. I didn’t see one person smile the entire day. They’re working at a beautiful stadium, watching the most beloved team in all of sports, and they treat everyone like they’re wearing an “I love George Steinbrenner” shirt. It’s bizarre.

Anyhow, Dylan and I grabbed a spot on the wall and started watching the Cardinals take batting practice. Balls just started launching out of the park. Texas-Leaguers were carrying in the monsoon-like winds. At this point, more and more people were making their way to the top of the Monster with hopes of catching a BP ball.

It was the typical crowd: the 45-year-old dude who brought his mitt and was chasing down every ball with Jim Edmonds-like enthusiasm; the dad with his kids trying to score two souvenirs for his baseball-loving boys; the middle-aged woman who flinches and ducks at any ball that hints at hitting the wall; and Dylan and me, eating our food, sipping our beer, and watching ball after ball fly over our heads.

As the Cardinals were wrapping up their batting practice, some unknown player started crushing balls over the wall, one after another. The souvenir-baseball feeding frenzy was in full effect. People were chasing down balls like they were the Wonka Bar golden tickets. Dylan and I continued to watch and take it all in.

As Mr. Unknown was winding down his impressive power display, he launched one more ball high over the wall. As the ball carried, it appeared to be hit so well that it was going to leave the entire stadium. At the last minute, an overaggressive ball-hound jumped up for the ball and began to tumble over the rail to a 25-foot fall. When he was half way over the wall and on his way down to certain peril, the 45-year-old, with his mitt still on, dove and grabbed the guy’s legs, saving him from having a really bad day. It was the best and most important catch of the day.

This led to me saying to Dylan, “Damn, that guy almost died!”

To which he replied, “And that’s why I don’t chase after BP balls.”

And here are your Dylan-centric Quick Hits

  • Due to predicted lousy weather, both teams put all their scrubs in the starting lineups. When Daniel Nava is the big name, you might be in for a snoozer.
  • The experience of watching a game from the vantage point of the top of the Green Monster is unparalleled to any seat at any sporting event I have ever had. I highly recommend it.
  • Sox starting pitcher Ryan Dempster was on the mound today. With the scrubs backing him up in the field, Dylan commented that he hoped Dempster had his Eh game. You know, because he’s Canadian. It’s funny, eh?
  • There are fewer things I enjoy more than a Fenway frank, a cold beer, and watching baseball.
  • Dylan was able to turn two standing-room-only tickets into two prime seats on the monster, just by being in the right place at the right time.
  • (For the confused Rays fans, “Standing Room Only” seats are when your team sells all the seats at your park, and your only option is to stand.)
  • 312 beer is poured using an old telephone receiver tap. I’m not sure why, but it was awesome.
  • We’re still waiting for the final three spots to get filled on thefoulline.com fantasy league. Clock’s ticking.
  • I’m returning to the Yankeehaters team name. It was fun being the Boston badboys for a season, but the Yankeehaters just feels right.

Thanks to all for reading! The baseball draft is ONLY 4 weeks away! Start prepping now.

Follow @thefoulline on Twitter.

You Complete Me

I don’t consider myself a writer. I’m a guy that enjoys talking about baseball and sharing my opinions with a group of educated baseball fans. During the baseball season, I read every article I can get my hands on, and I follow a bunch of baseball writers on Twitter. Of all the writers I follow, there are a handful that are a must-read every day. Pete Abraham & Nick Cafardo with the Boston Globe, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, and Jayson Stark and Tim Kurkjian with ESPN. But my favorite of all is Buster Olney.

Buster Olney is everywhere… Baseball Tonight, Twitter, Podcasts, SportsCenter, and ESPN’s baseball telecasts. He also writes a daily article on ESPN.com in which he links all the baseball news for all the MLB teams. It’s always a good read. He really is the hardest working guy in baseball.

I had planned on going to the Rays practice today with my buddy Trent (RedRays) and a couple of friends from work. While making our plans, I noticed on Twitter that ESPN and Buster Olney were going to be in Port Charlotte. I relayed this to Trent, who replied, “We gotta get a pic with him for thefoulline.com!” This became our mission.

We arrived at the stadium at 9:30 to a capacity crowd of twenty other fans. The gates opened and we made our way to the closest field to watch the Rays stretch, run 20-yard dashes, and play catch. We were able to score a prime fence-line position in front of the immortal Shelley Duncan (who promptly shouted “Nobody likes you!” to an annoyingly obnoxious fan that has some sort of personal vendetta against Jose Molina) and the enigmatic Yunel Escobar, who for some odd reason got along great with the loud obnoxious jackass. He even tossed the loudmouth a ball. That sounds about right.

We worked our way around the park checking out the different fields. No sign of Buster.

We watched Matt Moore throw batting practice. I know it’s early, but he was all over the place. I only saw him throw a handful of strikes the entire session. We witnessed James Loney making a SportsCenter top-10 catch during fielding drills, and a bewildered Jeff Niemann having trouble keeping the ball down in PFP.

Practice was winding down, and still no Buster. I was receiving texts from thefoulline.com headquarters inquiring on the status of the Buster meet & greet. I had nothing to report.

But as the clock struck 11 am, who do I see walking down the center sidewalk, notepad in hand? It’s Buster Olney!

I walked up to him and told him I was a big fan and enjoyed his writing. He seemed taken aback by this and maybe a little embarrassed. Maybe he doesn’t have many lunatic blog writers bum-rush him at spring training practices? I asked for a quick picture with him. Redrays was Johnny-on-the-spot and snapped a keeper. I thanked Buster for his time and said it was nice to meet him. He replied, “Any idea which field Wil Myers is on?” I just happened to know exactly where he was. “Sure, I’ll show you.” As we walked to the field, we had a quick Q&A:

Buster: so are you a Rays fan?
Me: Nope… I like the Red Sox. This park is just so convenient to watch practice.
Buster: How do you think they’re going to do this year?
Me: They have to be better than last season, right?
Buster: It’s hard to say… They all really hated each other last year. The guys they brought in may make a difference.
Me: They were hard to watch. Hopefully their mojo is better at least.
Buster: Well, gotta go… Good luck with your Sox this year!
Me: You complete me!
Ok, that last part didn’t happen, but this encounter with Buster Olney confirmed my thoughts about him. He’s engaging, friendly, and professional. It was worth the trip to Charlotte County Stadium.

Rays-centric Quick Hits:

  • How does Dave Martinez not have a managing job? When he was asked this today by a fan, he replied, “I want to win one in Tampa before going anywhere else.” He’s a class act.
  • Luke Scott is crazy. He hung the boar’s head that he killed with a spear in the Rays clubhouse. He talks to everyone – players, coaches, fans, security guards. Is he the new Jonny Gomes in Tampa?
  • I watched Chris Archer throw some serious cheese. He has an easy, effortless delivery that pops the catcher’s mitt on every throw.
  • Speaking of impressive performances… Juan Sandoval had quite a crowd around him during his pitching session. He looked good, throwing strike after strike. What made this even more impressive? He’s blind in his right eye.
  • I saw Super-GM Andrew Friedman walk into a port-a-potty while chatting on his cellphone, then walk out while still talking. I’m guessing he didn’t wash his hands.
  • Watched super prospect Wil Myers take BP today. He didn’t rake like I had hoped, but RedRays and I both noticed he doesn’t wear batting gloves. This led to RedRays asking, “Do you think he pees on his hands like Moises Alou?”
  • It blows my mind that the Rays don’t have more fans. They have a quality organization, great spring training facility, and legitimate superstars in Price and Longoria, and they compete every year. They deserve better.

We finished the day at The October Boys’s restaurant, Bocca Lupo in Port Charlotte. It’s the best pizza around. It was a perfect ending to a fun day. Check it out when you’re down here for spring training!