Thursday, October 30, 2008

Meantime, In Between Time

So the Phillies, with a little help from their newfound friends (the umpires) defeated the surprising Tampa Bay D'Rays in the 2008 World Series. A laurel and hearty applause goes out to former Giant, Pedro Feliz.

Now it's on to the signings and trades. All the shuffling and uniform changing may be why only Sports Weekly provides the number of the player and most other publications choose not to be bothered with the erasable, hardly indelible, number.

But before we get to that let me throw out some fun facts about the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox from ESPN magazine.

(Thanks to ESPN mag for the fun facts about the two major league teams representing the city of Chicago, that toddling town.)

Betcha Didn't Know...

When they joined the National League as a charter member in 1876, the Cubs were known as the White Stockings. They had more than a dozen other nicknames before becoming the Cubs in 1902, because of their young roster.

The basket protruding from the outfield wall at Wrigley Field was installed in 1970 in an attempt to keep objects from coming onto the field, including bleacher bums!

It was legendary White Sox owner Bill Veeck who, while working for the Cubs' front office in 1937, suggested planting ivy on the outfield wall at Wrigley Field.

The tradition of flying the W or L flag from the Wrigley Field scoreboard after each game started in 1938, to inform El riders of what the Cubs had done that day.

The only ball ever to hit the Wrigley scoreboard was a golf ball struck by Sam Snead on April 17, 1951, before the Cubs' season opener, Slammin' Sammy used a 4-iron from home plate.

In 1973, South Side pitcher Steve Stone was traded for North Side icon Ron Santo. Stone is now a broadcaster for the Sox (after doing Cub games with Harry Caray, remember he was the one not hoisting a Bud every innning!) and Santo lives and dies as the Cub announcer.

Dick Allen, who drove in 113 runs in 1972, is the only White Sox player ever to lead the league in RBIs.

What's up with that Captain Morgan dance Nick Swisher does after he hits a homer? "Orlando Cabrera is the one who can dance. He came up with the handshakes, and I brought the Capt. Morgan pose from Oakland. Now, at home games, there's a fan dressed as the Capt. Morgan character. It's classic," says Swish.

When Nick Swisher was asked who was in charge, of the 2008 White Sox he responded, "Jim Thome is our clubhouse cop. When he talks, everyone listens. Then we go back to being knuckleheads."

Johnny Kling, star catcher for the 1908 World Champion Cubs, sat out the following season and won the world pocket-billiards championship. Kling returned to the team in 1910. (Just a note for all you heartbroken Cub fans. When you look at Johnny Kling's history in the major leagues, you realize that the Cubs kicked major league butt. Kling was on the Cubs in 1906, when they faced the Chicago White Sox in the World Series and lost to their crosstown rivals. Then in 1907, the Cubs again made it into the World Series against the Detroit Tigers and beat them for the title. In 1908, the Cubs defeated the Tigers once more for the World Series title. Then in 1910, the Cubs faced the Philadelphia A's and the A's won it. Not a bad run, eh?

(Kling played catcher, first-base, shortstop, and outfield. In 1903 he belted 13-triples. He stole 123 bases back in a time when caught stealing wasn't something that was kept track of, sort of reminds me of my softball team. They don't keep track of the errors they make, so history kept repeating itself, sort of. Although, this year with just the right combination/infusion of new blood, it didn't cost them as dearly as in years past.)

A group of Cubs fans have restarted the West Side Rooters Social Club, which was disbanded by team president Charles Murphy after the 1908 season. Club members claim that's the real reason the Cubs haven't won in 100 years. Ernie Banks serves as chairman and the secretary is Ryne Sandberg.

The last forfeit in the American League was by the White Sox. Between games of a July 12, 1979, doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers at Comiskey Park, the Sox held a Disco Demolition promotion, in which a local DJ blew up dance records. Thousands of fans stormed the field, lit fires and tore up the diamond.

Three-Finger Brown, the early 20th-century ace, who had only 3 fingers and a thumb on his pitching hand, holds modern-era Cubs records for ERA (1.80), complete games (206), shutouts (48), and winning percentage (.686). Six-fingered Antonio Alfonseca, who has an extra little finger on each hand, was the Cubs' closer in 2002 and holds no records.

Wrigley Field was built in 1914 on land once occupied by a seminary.

In the 1918 World Series, the Cubs played their home games at Comiskey Park because it held about 8,000 more fans. Red Sox pitcher, Babe Ruth went 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA. As a hitter in the 1932 World Series, the Babe allegedly called his shot at Wrigley. Ruth is the only man to play Fall Classics at both Chicago ballparks.

North Siders: The Cubs wore major league baseaball's first zippered jerseys in 1937, vests in 1940, and powder-blue road unis in 1941. They also sported the first- and, thankfully, only- pleated pants in 1940.

South Siders: Chisox innovations: player names on jerseys (1960), batting practice jerseys (1972), Untucked pajama jerseys with stupid-wide disco collars (1976) and the first throwback unis (1990).

Late-great (Bud man and a Bud fan) Cubs broadcaster, Harry Caray, started singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame in 1976-while announcing for the White Sox.

The Wrigley anthem "Go, Cubs, Go," played after every home WIN, was written by composer Steve Goodman.

The White Sox anthem, "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" was recorded by studio musicians as a B-side in 1969. When the label released it as an A-side, the sriters created the fictitious band Stream to avoid listing their names on the single. The one-hit wonder shot up the charts, knocking "Come Together" by the Beatles out of the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1969.

And finally, in an October Sporting News issue, was a picture of a Dodger fan (he was wearing an LA hat so I don't think he was rooting for the Cubs) holding up a sign that read:

  1. Death
  2. Taxes
  3. Cubs choking in the playoffs.

(thanks to ESPN magazine and The Sporting News)

Kevin Marquez

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I've Been Accused of Being Harsh on Umpires/Refs

Hey, I know I've been all over the men in blue who call balls and strikes and miss safe and out calls, most of the time. But the league has seen the ineptitude of these attitudes-in-need-of-adjustment and decided it was a good thing to go to the replay for fair/foul calls and balls that are hit for home runs but not easily distinguished by those arbiters in blue. Between ball and yellow line, foul pole, fan-leaning-over-fence, or whatever it may have been (some stadiums don't make the site line as easy to recognize as others) sometimes they need a little help and the powers that be have decided to provide them with a tool to use for this difficult decision (on some occasions).

In this 2008 Major League World Series of the Philadelphia Phillies versus the Tampa Bay DevilRays we have all seen that replay may not be limited to foul calls and home run determinations.

I have shuffled through some ideas gathered either from other sports or trial and error of baseball's past and here are a couple of those examples I'd like to share. I hope I don't stray too far from the beaten path.

In the ESPN magazine dated September 8, 2008 was a Page 2 piece on Norm Chryst, a 24-year chair umpire for tennis who says: "Instant Replay works. Best innovation since the tiebreak. It makes the game fairer and helps us get close ones right. Everyone-chair umps, line judges, players-makes mistakes. It's made some chair umps more conservative about overruling calls, and some players more willing to admit they don't always see the ball correctly. No one is perfect."

Maybe my memory doesn't serve me well, in that I was around 5 years of age when I began following major league baseball. I would read books and get as much information as I could whenever the chance became available. In other words, when I went to the library and wasn't doing a homework assignment for school I was reading something about baseball. And when the baseball books were all finished it was on to football books.

Because I was young I have memories as fresh as if they just occurred. And this was back in the day before ESPN or when games were televised as frequently as they are now. This was when fans remembered a player's jersey number because chances are his name wasn't on the back of that jersey.

My hometown Giants only showed away games versus the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then they branched out to one game at Wrigley Field (Cubs), one at Forbes Field (Pirates), and one at either Shea (Mets) or Crosley Field (Reds). But there were always at least 6 games vs. the Dodgers. If it was a 12-game schedule, they'd jostle the teams they would show. Maybe even Connie Mack Stadium (Phillies) or Busch (Cardinals) would be shown.

And my recollection of the umpires wasn't that they were these obnoxious individuals whose strike zones varied from one ump to the next. I recall it being rather consistent, with an ump, like any human being, having an occasional off day. But they all followed the rule book definition of what a strike was and you knew if you were watching an American League game, because of the pillowy chest protectors that league's home plate umpires wore, they would tend to call higher strikes than those umpires in the National League, who wore the inside protector.

Nowadays, you see a Cole Hamels and you wonder if he's getting the favorable strike zone, the way the Atlanta Braves did when they had Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine, or if he's really that good. Then you see the opposing pitcher and you notice he isn't getting the same strike zone.

Or it could be that way for a hitter as well. I cannot help but remember the Houston Astros when they had Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio (in the days of the killer B's) when they got the favorable strike zone until the playoffs began and then once the season reached the post-season it was goodbye favorable strike zone and the Astros would flame out in the first round, every time!

Some umpires make it so a pitcher has to throw the ball over the plate. The umpire won't give the pitcher any corners and this favors the hitters, especially those with home run hitting potential. Whenever Kirk Rueter was on the mound and he had to deal with an umpire of this sort, we as fans knew it was going to be tough for Woody to get the win on that particular day/evening.

The strike zone over the years has really taken on a life of its own, because of the way each and every individual umpire has taken it upon himself to devise his own personal interpretation of what he believes the strike zone to be. Leaving people to their own interpretations of something rather than following it by the book can make for a lot of discrepancies.

So if I come off as harsh when speaking of umpires or referees I just hope you allow me the opportunity to plead my case.

(thanks to ESPN mag for the chair umpire knowledge)

Kevin Marquez

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Giving the Phillies some Brotherly Love, Sort of

I may have said that the Phillies were the first team to lose a World Series to a Canadian team (Toronto Blue Jays) in 1993, but in fact, the Blue Jays had beaten the Atlanta Braves in 1992. Making the Joe Carter homer off of Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams the second year in a row that the Blue Jays took the World Series championship.

In Sports Weekly there was a piece that was labeled, Phillies have one shining moment. And that happened in 1980, when the Mike Schmidt led Phillies defeated the Kansas City Royals for the World Series championship.

In 1950, the Phillies, known as the Whiz Kids, lost to the Yankees in four straight. By scores of 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 and 5-2. Only two homers were hit in that World by Joltin' Joe Di Maggio (Game 2) and the other by Yogi Berra (Game 4).

The article goes on to list the times this losingest franchise in major league history has made it into the postseason.

1976- 101W 61L (Won NL East) Lost to Cincinnati 3-0 in NLCS.
1977- 101W 61L (Won NL East) Lost to Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1 in NLCS.
1978- 90W 72L (Won NL East) Lost to L.A. Dodgers 3-1 in NLCS.
1980- 91W 71L (Won NL East) Beat KC Royals in World Series, 4-2.
1981- 59W 48L (Won NL East's 1st half) Lost to Montreal Expos 3-2 in divisional series.
(this may have been the first time a Canadian team had advanced as far in the major league playoff system.)
1983- 90W 72L (Won NL East) Lost to the Rick Dempsey-led (Series MVP) Baltimore Orioles, 4-1.
1993- 97W 65L (Won NL East) Lost to Toronto Blue Jays 4-2 in World Series.
2007- 89W 73L (Won NL East) Lost to Colorado Rockies 3-0 in divisional series.
2008- 92W 70L (Won NL East) Beat Los Angeles Dodgers in NLCS 4-1.
Facing Tampa Bay D'Rays.

How many former Giants players are on the Philadelphia Phillies roster? Let's see, there's Pedro Feliz at third base. And Scott Eyre in the bullpen. Geoff Jenkins, after spending his entire career with the Milwaukee Brewers adds depth to the bench as does 40-year old, former Oakland Athletic, Matt Stairs.

On the Tampa Bay DevilRays roster are no former San Francisco Giants.

I'd be more worried about the ex-Giant factor than the Cub factor, these days. Cliff Floyd, DH with the Rays, played with the Cubs last year as did Scott Eyre, now with the Phillies.

The question for Giants' fans is, will Pedro Feliz get a ring before the San Francisco Giants?
Ya gotta like his chances and root hard for the Tampa Bay D'Rays.

(thanks to Sports Weekly and Baseball Reference)

Kevin Marquez

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rick Reilly Contributes

In the ESPN magazine dated September 8, 2008, Rick Reilly's column Life of Reilly has an article entitled "A Lot of Guys in the Minors Got Hosed by Steroids. They Should Sue."

Reilly's a character who spends lots of his time working on the "funny bone" of the reader. And this piece has a funny concept, although not to those who "got hosed", and someone in Hollywood should be keeping all of his/her resources open to anything. IF so, this should be something in consideration.

How about, A Harold Ramis production with Rick Moranis as one of his star players who "got hosed?"

Reilly speaks of a player, Mitch Jones who has nearly 200 home runs and in nine (9) years and he doesn't even have an at-bat. Why didn't he make it? Reilly offers: Because he was dumb enough to start his career at the exact wrong time in baseball history: during the Pharmacy Era, when old guys got young with syringes and injured guys got well with shipments from Mexico.

Reilly goes on to say: Stanford labor law professor emeritus William Gould IV says the idea "is very interesting" but that they'd need to prove three (3) things to win:
(1) A correlation between steroid use and better performance. (Please.)
(2) That baseball turned a blind eye to steroid use. (Exhibit A: baseball's own Mitchell Report. It blames Bud Selig and players association COO Gene Orza for allowing steroids to spread like crabgrass. Mitchell said there was a "code of silence" in baseball. You think? Oriole David Segui (Diego's kid) told his GM that he wanted to go to Florida to pick up juice, and the GM never reported it. A Twins visiting clubhouse attendant found a used syringe and told manager Tom Kelly, who never reported it. The thing has more conspiracies than an Oliver Stone movie.)
(3) "Nonstatutory labor exemption considerations." Gould IV says. That's just so complicated it makes our head ache, but a good shark would gobble it right up.

Mitch Jones played in the Yankees farm system from 2000 to 2006 as a corner outfielder and first baseman. He hit 39-HR in a season and nobody even blinked. That's because the Yankees had Jason Giambi at first and Gary Sheffield in right. And guess who were both cited in the Mitchell Report? Giambi and Sheffield.

(thanks to Rick Reilly of ESPN magazine and his Life of Reilly column dated 9/8/08.)

Kevin Marquez

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

2008 World Series: Philadelphia Phillies vs. Tampa Bay Rays

I got much needed information from Wikipedia in the history of baseball team nicknames. The American League team that represented Philadelphia, has since gone on to Kansas City, not because as the song Kansas City mentions 'they got a lot of pretty women and I'm gonna get me one,' but because the American League owners approved the sale of the Philadelphia A's, in 1954, to Arnold Johnson, who moved the A's to Kansas City for the 1955 season.

On December 19, 1960, Charles Oscar Finley purchased a controlling interest in the Kansas City Athletics from Johnson's estate (Johnson having died in March of that year); he then bought out minority owners a year later.

Finley refused to make deals with the New York Yankees and baseball's Good Ole Boy owners frowned at that. Those of you who were following baseball, during this time, know that the Yankees treated Kansas City as their major league farm system. (They re-acquired Billy Martin, and various pitchers they'd let go and then when they saw the pitchers had regained some of their form the Yanks' brass would quickly pluck them from the ready, willing and oh-so-able KC team. Roger Maris also came from Kansas City. It cost the Yankees very little to deal with Kansas City. No risk, whatsoever, was involved in any of these transactions!)

Finley made significant investments in the farm system for the first time in Athletic franchise history.
And then moved the team from Kansas City after the 1967 season to Oakland, California.

When Mickey Mantle first saw the Oakland A's green and gold uniforms, with white shoes he said, "They should have come out of the dugout on tippy-toes, holding hands and singing."

The National League team has always been the Phillies.
The losingest franchise in major league history.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays... They are superstitiously going away from the Devil Ray name, simply going with Rays. And saying, albeit not the original design, the "ray" on their uniform goes nicely with the fact that Florida is the sunshine state.

A couple of quotes kind of tie this series together. One being a remark made by San Francisco Giant announcer (at the time of the quote) Hank Greenwald. About Bruce Sutter, a relief specialist recently elected into the major league baseball Hall of Fame, "Three more saves, and he ties John the Baptist."

This quote is in reference to Brad Lidge. The Phillie's savior of a closer who has not yet blown a save. It'll be up to the Rays to find a way to change this remarkable feat.

Both teams have to believe it's their year. If not for a bad call, funny bounce (not to the fielder's team, though), bad break or any number of things that could happen unexpectedly I leave you with some Vince Lombardi gems.

Some of us will do our jobs well
and some will not
but we will be judged by only one thing- the result.

The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.

The measure of who we are
is what we do
with what we have.

Let's review:
If the umpire is giving one pitcher a particular strike zone and the opposing pitcher a peculiar strike zone it behooves the benefactor of the umpire's generosity to take full advantage of what he's getting. Because as the game wears on, the favorability may change sides.

(thanks to Wikipedia, ESPN magazine and Green Bay Packers online)

Kevin Marquez

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Last Minute Thoughts about Red Sox at Devil Rays, 10/19/08 (Rays Won 3-1)

(I've got to say, the Sporting News has a magazine that is as enjoyable to read as when I was a youngster trying to learn about the players and their game. Kudos to the staff of the Sporting News, your changes have made the magazine top notch in entertainment and information.)

In the September 29th, 2008, issue of the Sporting News, there's an article entitled Bang for the Buck. It compares what the Rays paid for their players and the Yankees paid for theirs.

I'm going over the figures- which mean absolutely nothing to me because they aren't: runs batted in (RBI) or home runs (HR) or runs (R) scored- and I'm thinking, yeh, the Rays got over but the Yankees have the "no gag" factor.

Then I remembered, hey, these were the first guys to blow a lead in the post-season to the Boston Red Sox. And they were up 3-0! The Rays were down 1-0, and could have easily been down 2-0, if not for the gutty win in Game 2. And yet, the Rays did go up 3-1. And there was the Indians last year.

So the numbers of bucks paid really doesn't matter if those players (in the words of Al Davis) 'Just win, baby!.'

I have no idea what to expect other than the Rays will have the test of their baseball lives.
Can they muster up enough confidence to not let what some fans might think is the end of a good run and just get down to the business of finishing what they started when they won 3-in-a-row?

This is a fantastic series and it just proves how streaky things can be. Both teams will have won 3 in a row if the Red Sox continue their remarkable surge onto the World Series.

(final: Tampa Bay-3 Boston-1.. WP-Matt Garza LP-Jon Lester)

(thanks Sporting News)

Kevin Marquez

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Can of Corn

When I think of San Francisco Giant outfielders, I think of Barry Bonds in left field, Willie Mays in center field and Bobby Bonds in right field.

Each of the aforementioned made just about every fly ball appear like a Can of Corn. And when you factor in their offensive output, this was the greatest outfield of all-time in San Francisco Giant history.

Barry: His arm may not have been the best but his throws were accurate. He got to the ball and got it in to the cut-off man quickly enough to keep the runner from getting an extra base, more times than not.

His offensive numbers:
AB-9847 R-2227 H-2935 2B-601 3B-77 HR-762 RBI-1996 SB 514 CS-141 AVG. .298

If you don't think major league baseball is a good ole boy league then ask yourself why nobody gave this man an opportunity to play when he said he could. After all he has accomplished and the fact that he honored every contract he ever got he should be at least allowed the chance to go out on his own terms. IF NOT FOR THE FACT THAT MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL IS A GOOD OLE BOY LEAGUE, STILL!

Bobby: His arm was a cannon and he was known to strikeout too much. But when you factor in his ability to steal bases and the power he possessed in an age when batters weren't really looking to have the good walks-to-strikeout ratio, I'll take Barry's dad in a heartbeat.

His offensive numbers:
AB-7043 R-1258 H-1886 2B-302 3B-66 HR-332 RBI-1024 AVG. .268 SB-461 CS-169

Willie Howard Mays Jr. It's been said he was the greatest ever. Well the old man was pretty good in his day and was compared to Oscar Charleston, a great Negro League player. Willie Jr. was called "Kitty Kat" in his days of the Negro League because of his baserunning and fielding prowess.

Willie was my favorite ballplayer while I was growing up and that was at a time he was on the downside of his prime. I first recollected Willie Mays patrolling centerfield at the gusty Candlestick Park, where the flags were always flapping as if attached to a speedboat racing in the nearby bay. When the stadium was not enclosed and they had the phony high school type bleachers. The year was 1965. That year Willie belted 52 homers on his way to an MVP season. But it was also his 14th year in major league baseball and he was 34 years of age. At this time of his career he was probably past his prime but because the man was so great on the baseball diamond his skills allowed him to continue playing without losing a beat.

Finely tuned athletes, of limitless abilities, often go beyond reasonable expectations.

Willie's Stats: AB-10,881 R-2062 H-3283 2B-523 3B-140 HR-660 RBI-1903 AVG. .302
SB-338 CS-103

Of course, the current Giants' roster of outfielders pales in comparison. But then so does every roster when you pit the greatest versus the current. The current bunch still has time to put some numbers together, although it isn't likely any of the current roster will accumulate the stats of Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonds or Willie Mays.

But the Giants did have a few surprises out in the spacious grounds of AT&T park that may provide Giants' fans with plenty of reason to cheer. For how long, who knows?

Freddie Lewis, Nate Schierholtz, and John Bowker are worthy of a second look next season to see if they can continue to improve. Randy Winn has hit .300 two years in-a-row and is solid afield. Dave Roberts brings a quality that I feel is worth having. He's as clutch a hitter as the Giants have but is even better in the clubhouse. And when your roster is filled with inexperienced players, its those steadying sorts who can still do it on the field, who are a necessity. Much like that of a player-coach.

This also looks to be the area where a trade or signing will be used to help out the team.

Last year they signed Aaron Rowand and he adds to the team but the way he finished the season really has me thinking the guy might be better served as trade bait. Because to get something you have to give something up and he just may have put himself in the mix with his strikeout-filled finish.

He fanned 126 times and received 44 bases-on-balls. The 126 was the most in his career and led the Giants (Fred Lewis whiffed 124 in 468 at-bats, Rowand had 549 ab's.)

Note: If you look at Aaron's career numbers these numbers are consistent with the numbers he's been putting up throughout his career.) So his chances of being traded are only speculation by yours truly.

(thanks to Baseball-Reference)

Kevin Marquez

Thursday, October 9, 2008

History and Current Notes on Teams in Championship Series

Boston Red Sox: In 1901, the American League, led by Ban Johnson, established a competing club in Boston. For seven (7) seasons the AL team wore dark blue stockings and had no official nickname. They were simply the "Bostons" or the "American Bostons" as in American League.

Boston being a two-team city, their 1901-07 shirts, both home and road, simply read "Boston." Except for 1902 when they sported a large letter "B" and "A" for Boston of the American League.

The temporary decision by the Boston National League team to drop the color red from their uniforms led to a history-making decision:

"Red Stockings had been part of all Boston NL teams up to 1907, but Fred Tenney, the NL clubs' manager, told Peter F. Kelley, baseball writer for the Boston Journal, he'd abandon the red stockings in favor of white stockings, because of the danger that colored stockings might cause leg injuries to become infected. (Gee, I wonder if he thought the world was flat.)

Kelley wrote a story condemning Tenney for parting with the National League club's tradition and the next day, John Irving Taylor, Boston AL club president, told Kelley, "Here's a scoop for you. I am going to grab the name RED SOX and the Boston American League club will wear red stockings."

The name Red Sox is non-standard english for "Red Socks" and short for "Red Stockings."

The familiar "Red Sox" first appeared in 1912, coincident with the opening of Fenway Park.
Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. When in Brooklyn they were originally known as Trolley Dodgers but once they moved to Los Angeles and there were no trolleys to be dodged they were simply referred to as the Dodgers.

Philadelphia Phillies. 'They've been Phillies or Quakers ever since the team entered the National League in 1883.' Phillies or Phils is a short form of Philadelphians.

Bob Carpenter acquired the Phillies in the late fall of 1943. The following spring, a new name, "Blue Jays" was selected in a fans' contest. (BBG) This change never caught on with the general public, especially as the uniform shirts continued to say Phillies, albeit with a blue jay shoulder patch. That experiment was dropped after a couple of years.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Came into the American League in 1998.
The team's logo included an illustration of a manta ray, also known as a devilfish or devilray. Although the creature (like the team for which it is named) has proven to be mostly harmless. (Exact words of Wikipedia!)

As of 2007, one version of their home uniforms said "Rays," and there were no versions that said "Devil Rays," although a patch of the manta ray was used. They were called the D-Rays in much the same way as Arizona's Diamondbacks were referred to as the "D-Backs." We have a society that is always looking to abbreviate something to save time because other things that eschew their time is so much more important.

In the August 25, 2008 edition of ESPN magazine in a column referred to as Page 2 had this as #4 of the BIG 10. MLB: Giddy out West. They love Manny in LA, and why not? He likes to leave in the 6th inning too.
#5. MLB: Stunned Back East.
Brian Cashman: The Rays will fade, right?
Theo Epstein: They have to, don't they?
J.P. Ricciardi: You two are pathetic.
Continued on Page 2 is the history of Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

It's been 100 years since Jack Norworth, an anchor from Philly, wrote the words to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." On the New York City subway, no less. Paired with the melody by a shoe salesman Albert (no, not Al Bundy) Von Tilzer.

When the song was written in 1908, neither Norworth nor Von Tilzer had attended a major league game. The lyricist did make an appearance when the Trolley Dodgers played at Ebbets Field on June 27, 1940- it was "Jack Norworth Day."

The song inspired a 1949 musical starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra.

The Marx Brothers' A Night at the Opera has a scene in which the orchestra accidentally plays "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

In 1896, the mixture of peanuts, popcorn and molasses took its name from a slang term for anything "very good." It has been in ballparks since 1907, except for a 16-day window in 2004, when the Yankees switched to Crunch'N-Munch. Fans cried out and the Bronx located team switched back.

The year "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" was released the song was number #1 on the charts for 7 weeks-longer than any other song that year. Those who have recorded it include Haydn Quartet, Der Bingle Crosby, Frank "ole blue eyes" Sinatra, Billy Joel, Aretha Franklin, the Boston Pops and Donald Duck.

In 1927, Norworth created a second edition of the song. The chorus was unchanged but the little-known verses involved a differently named heroine. Some say this is because Norworth got divorced that year. Others claim the decision was financial-by creating a new song, he extended the copyright 95 years.

1908 version:
Katie Casey was baseball mad/ Had the fever and had it bad/ just to root for the hometown crew/ ev'ry sou/Katie blew/On a Saturday her young beau/ called to see if she'd like to go/to see a show, but Miss Kate said "No./I'll tell you what you can do" (Chorus)

Katie Casey saw all the games/knew the players by their first names/ told the umpire he was wrong/all along/good and strong/when the score was just two-to-two/Katie Casey knew what to do/just to cheer up the boys she knew/she made the gang sing the song. (Chorus)

1927 version.
Nelly Kelly loved baseball games/knew the players, knew all of their names/you could see her there every day/shout "Hurray"/when they'd play/Her boyfriend by the name of Joe/said "To Coney Isle dear, let's go"/then Nelly started to fret and pout/and to him, I heard her shout: (Chorus)

Nelly Kelly was sure some fan/she would root just like any man/ told the umpire he was wrong/ all along/ good and strong/ when the score was just two-to-two/Nelly Kelly knew what to do/just to cheer up the boys she knew/she made the gang sing the song (Chorus)

Chorus: Take me out to the ball game
Take me out with the crowd
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack
I don't care if I never get back
Let me root, root, root for the home team
If they don't win it's a shame
For it's one, two, three strikes you're out
at the old ball game.

(thanks to Wikipedia and ESPN magazine, August 25, 2008 edition)

Kevin Marquez

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

You Cannot Give the Opposition More than 27 (outs)

To err is human but to not catch the ball or throw it accurately makes hitting the ball inconsequential. There are 27 outs to be had and if it's common that you give the opposition more than 27 then you stand a chance of losing more games than you win. Even with a very potent offensive club it'll always come down to not being able to get outs and you will fall short of the prize. This year the top three teams who lost more than they should have won because they couldn't hold the lead and weren't really known for flashing the leather were the: New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers and Detroit Tigers.

The San Francisco Giants had different looks throughout the season from skipper, Bruce Bochy, where the infield was concerned.

They began the season with Omar Visquel on the injured list and had a youngster in Brian Bocock fill in. And defensively I'm sure he was a pleasant surprise. But if you were the opponent you had to like the fact that Bocock as a hitter offerred no threat. Bocock or anyone else in the Giants' impotent lineup. (And I'm not referring to Viva Viagra. I wonder if the Elvis Presley foundation (Graceland) gets residuals for that commercial. Or, if ole EP had e.d. in his later years and its a charitable contribution from Graceland.)

But they played good defense and we all know that good defense is a pitcher's best friend. Or is that the double play? Well, you need one to get the other, anyway.

Let's take a look at the Giants' infield and how it appears, to a fan watching Comcast, what may be in store for the upcoming 2009 season.

In no particular order: Omar Visquel, I'd like him back because he's a player-manager and I think the perfect replacement for Bochy if Bochy's "free ride" ticket gets lost. Besides, everything Omar does is exemplary.

Rich Aurilia: clutch and a positive presence on the bench and in the field. He's a team leader.

Emmanuel Burris: pleasant surprise with lots of upside.

Pablo Sandoval: People will come from all over to watch Tim Lincecum pitch. They may not feel so bad if they miss Lincecum's turn in the rotation if Sandoval is playing. Either third base, first base or catcher, Holy Versatility Batman, that's some good stuff. And he can hit!

Ivan Ochoa: A perfect example of Omar's presence. This guy has made everyone forget about Bocock but needs to get his offensive game up to par to be a consideration for making the big club.

John Bowker: first-baseman-outfielder... Any time you can play a couple of positions it's good. Except Pablo is the man always and forever if Bowker doesn't get the wood going on a more consistent basis.

Steve Holm: A serviceable backup who may also feel the Pablo effect.

Travis Denker: How good does Kevin Frandsen come back from his injury and is he better than Trav?

Ryan Rohlinger: He got a little time on the diamond in the bigs... what does he do to show Bochy and his boys why he should stay? How's about swinging the bat?

Conor Gillaspie: There must be something about this guy that the Giants had him on the pine watching Omar and others do their thing. I'm befuddled at what this guy can do, which is to say I have no idea what the Giants plan to do with this guy. What infield position does he play? He had so few at-bats, I couldn't tell if he had home run power (which is something the Giants need to be getting from someone).

Eugenio Velez: The Cheetos Cheetah, has some serious pop in his bat but fizzle between the ears. He needs to be a sponge and absorb as much knowledge as possible so that he doesn't come off as such a bonehead. This guy is the epitome of what a project is and every roster has one.

On one hand he can be a player who steals a lot of bases and yet he has trouble with left-handed pitchers. His base-running skills may lack intelligence.

Speaking of running the bases... Why is it, whenever a pitcher reaches base (and you know this happens often with opposing pitchers vs. the Giants staff) an announcer will make some simple-minded, backward comment that the pitcher may not be familiar with the basepaths? Have the dimensions changed since he played in high school or college? The only thing that changed was his manager or coach's decision to limit his offensive play and focus on his pitching. Through no fault of the player playing (the position of pitcher) the baseball world, as far as broadcasters go, views the pitcher as an indecisive little kid whenever he reaches base.

Remember, Ruben Rivera, a Giant for a very short time, ran the bases worse than Jon Miller ever saw. And we all know Jon Miller is a very good broadcaster who is well-traveled (due to his extensive schedule of ballgames he announces) and a baseball aficionado.

Oh by the way, Rivera's position in the field was as an outfielder not pitcher.

That's one guy's opinion from the other side of a television screen.

Kevin Marquez

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Managers Beware of Tight Strike Zones Caused by: Umpire Sphincteritis

Lou Piniella was a heckuva ballplayer. Clutch would be a good way to describe him. He came through when it mattered most.

In the regular season he batted 5867 times and had 1705 hits for a career average of .291.

But it was the post-season where Louis Victor Piniella shined.

In the post-season he had 104-AB, 15-R, 42-H, HR-3, RBI-18, AVG. -.300
Championship series: AB-59, R-9, H-18, 2-HR, 6-RBI, AVG. .305
World Series: AB-72, R-7, H-23, 0-HR, RBI-10, AVG.-.319.

Louis Victor Piniella's combined averages were all at .300, or better, in the post-season.

In 2001, he was the manager for the 2001 Seattle Mariners. That season the Mariners finished the regular season with a W-116 L-46 record for a .716 winning percentage. Hard to top that. But what made it so heartbreaking was that this was all there was as the post-season was short-lived.

In the first round, that year, the Mariners defeated the Cleveland Indians 3 games to 2 in the best-of-five series. While that was happening, the Oakland A's let go of a 2-game lead in their best-of-five series to lose to the Yankees 3-2.

So it was Yanks versus Mariners in a best-of-seven and the Yanks rolled over Seattle, 4 games to 1.

This was the year Arizona had the magnificent one-two punch of Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson and it was enough to overtake the Yankees as the Diamondbacks took the World Series, 4-games to 3.

A team that wins 116 and has a winning percentage of over .700 should be the team that goes all the way. Only sports doesn't work that way.

Now, here we are, 7 years later. In a year when the Chicago Cubs, managed by Lou Piniella, did everything right. From game one of the regular season it's been all about the 100 year anniversary of the Cubs last winning the World Series and the current Cub ballclub has not missed a beat throughout the long season.

That is, until Game 1 of a best-of-five series versus the Dodgers that saw the Dodgers score 7 runs. It showcased the Cubs' best hurler at home, Ryan Dempster, who won 14 games at home this season and he had a most difficult time finding the plate, which led to James Loney's grand slam that blew the game wide open.

I'm watching the Brewers at Phillies in Game 2 of their best-of-five series. With Phillie pitcher Brett Myers at the plate the crowd suddenly gets the urge to cheer his ability to flail at balls as he somehow manages to make contact with enough of them for C.C. Sabathia to eventually walk him. The umpire was totally playing to the hometown crowd as the plate, through the magic of umpire sphincteritis, shrunk before our television-viewing eyes. Heck, there had to be some Phillie fans who had to be feeling the effects of their libations far sooner than they expected!

I've said it time and time again, the home plate umpire cannot be bothered with where a catcher is positioned or where he places his glove before receiving the pitch because his concern is the ball and where it is in proximity of home plate. Did the ball cross any portion of the plate? By allowing how a catcher receives the ball determine if the pitch is a strike or NOT changes the whole dynamics of the at-bat.

Much like a ball that sails down the line, did it go over the bag/base is what determines the ball being fair or foul, not where the fielder was when the ball passed the base.

No announcer will ever call out an umpire for stinking up the joint and until they do these attitudes-in-need-of-adjustment in blue will continue to defy all logic with their interpretations of the strike zone.

(thanks to Baseball-Reference for the numbers)

Kevin Marquez

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Let's Review: Pitchers...Who left an impression, of any kind

Mike Krukow made a habit out of complimenting or downgrading the performance of pitchers when called upon during the KNBR680 Wrap. But that's his brethren, pitchers, so he feels the need to add his "so-called" expertise.

Me, as a casual observer, I'd like to offer my opinion on those pitchers who did enough for me to want them back. If they aren't mentioned in this little ditty, then I'm saying 'Adios.' Or worse yet, "Good Riddance."

Matt Cain, All I can say is, "If you were him would you want to come back to a situation where you lose game most guys win because your team doesn't manufacture enough runs?"

Tim Lincecum. What does he think when he sees Cain and Barry Zito do their job and still have no W to show for it?

Barry Zito: He righted his ship and his ability just proves that if you don't score runs you don't win. Sure, he had some bad games but for the most part he got ZERO support.

Jonathan Sanchez: This guy is trade bait.

Brian "Wouldn't It Be Nice" to "Don't Worry Baby" to "Good Vibrations" for the off-season-Wilson. The San Francisco Giants have their closer.

Alex Hinshaw deserves a shot at returning. Perhaps a consideration for an occasional start, even? Heaven's to Mergatroy! Eh Bochy?

Brad Hennessey was supposedly injured. Which is why he struggled early and was in need of being sent down. Served his time in the limited, hardly bustling metropolis of Fresno and showed he is still very serviceable.

Jack Taschner...Trade bait. But because he's a lefty, he'll get more looks than the righty could ever imagine.

Merkin Valdez: Is he healed? It's worth a look because until he got hurt he was killin' opponents.

Sergio Romo: Just may be the biggest find of all the pitchers. This guy makes the 2008 season a success IF he continues to improve, which by anyone standards would be hard to do since he was very impressive.

But I ask, has Bruce Bochy considered asking Kirk Rueter, to show up for Spring Training, so he could show the pitchers the best way to do what they do and allow themselves the opportunity to make a play in case the ball came THEIR WAY off the bat? Between the inability to put themselves in fielding position and pitching to opposing pitchers this is where the Giants, if they improve on these situations, could make a drastic change.

Kevin Marquez (next the Infield)