Lefty Love

Yesterday
was not the shining moment of my baseball-fan career: I was shopping with my
grandma for most of the All-Star game. 
A friend periodically updated me with the score, but other than that I
was pretty much in the dark until I picked it up in the 8th inning.  However, thanks to Twitter (more on
Twitter in my next post; I am amazed at how MLB put it to such good use during
the All-Star festivities), I found a link to this fantastic video of President
Obama’s first pitch.  This is for all of my fellow lefties.

http://publish.vx.roo.com/nypost/viral/flashembed/

The Worst of 162

Happy 4th of July
to all!  Seems like the perfect day
to enjoy freedom, hot dogs, fireworks and baseball.  As this blog is titled “The Best of 162,” I find it
necessary to reverse my position for today and share what I believe to be
“The Worst of 162″:  Those hideous
red “stars and stripes” caps that all the players are wearing this weekend.  




uggla red cap.jpg

low red cap.jpg


These probably aren’t so bad
if worn with matching colors, but they clash with the majority of teams’
uniforms.  We’ve had the Mariners
vs. Red Sox series on TV at my house for much of this weekend, and the red,
white, and blue looks so terrible with the blue and green that I almost want to
look away.  Just look at those pictures of the Marlins’ Dan Uggla and the Mariners’ Mark Lowe.  Ridiculous.  If it’s a team like the
Cardinals or the Angels, it probably isn’t too bad, but I can’t get over it.  I’m all for being patriotic, but
perhaps a nice American flag patch on the sleeve could suffice.    

 

But while those caps
symbolize the worst of baseball this weekend, I do know someone who symbolizes the
best: Albert Pujols, of course.  Even though I just spent a bunch of time talking about him in my last post, he is worthy of more praise.  Albert hit his fourth grand slam of the season last night!  He was named the National League player
of the month for the second time this season!  Do you think it would be a wise idea to blow some of my birthday money on a Pujols shrine for my room?

 

Last but not least, today
marks the 70th anniversary of one of the greatest moments in
baseball history.  I don’t really
get too emotional over things, but Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” speech gets me
every time.  On July 4, 2009,
Gehrig delivered his famous speech in between games of a doubleheader at Yankee
Stadium.  There have been hundreds
of inspiring stories or touching memories over the years in baseball, but to
me, Lou Gehrig’s speech is the best.  Do you have a similar memory that reminds you of the “best” of baseball?

 

We really have been given a
lot to live for.  Enjoy the 4th!


Photo credits: 

Dan Uggla: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/pirates/s_632289.html

Mark Lowe: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/sports/

Trade Talk

Fun
fact: I share a birthday with the Sony Walkman.  Who knew?  It
was introduced today in 1979. 
Today begins my last year of teenager-ness.  And while I share a birthday with some pretty famous people
(Princess Diana, Carl Lewis, Dan Aykroyd, Missy Elliott, Pamela Anderson), I
really wish I shared a birthday with this guy:

 

PUJOLS.jpg

 

 

I
try not to talk about Albert Pujols too much, but I could easily use up most of
my blog posts analyzing and discussing his greatness.  I will spare you that, but I do want to congratulate Albert
on becoming the first player in Major League history to have 9 straight
30-homer seasons to begin his career. 
Wow.  If you could see a picture
of me right now, my mouth would be hanging open in awe.  Thanks to SportsCenter’s twitter feed
for providing me with that bit of information.

 

Another
big news item: the Pittsburgh Pirates’ trades.  The Pirates sent outfielder Nyjer Morgan and LHP Sean
Burnett to the Nationals and received outfielder Lastings Milledge and RHP Joel
Hanrahan from the Nats.  They also
sent Eric Hinske to the Yankees in exchange for Class A players Casey Ericson
and Eric Fryer.  It always hurts to
see favorite players traded away, but this Pittsburgh scenario really seems to
have upset people, specifically Pittsburgh fans.  Everyone was shocked when Nate McLouth was traded to the
Braves in early June.  Now, the
Pirates just seem to be unloading more players as part of a massive rebuilding
effort.

 

So
I ask: what makes a trade a “good” trade? 
I may not be a front office expert, but when a rising Pirates star like
Andrew McCutchen says the trades made him want to cry, shouldn’t that raise a
red flag?  At what point do front
office execs sacrifice some talent in the future in order to maintain morale
and talent on the field right now? 
With players like McCutchen and longtime Pirate Jack Wilson questioning
the deals, can the Pirates really afford their rebuild?

 

Also,
do you think there will be any other notable trades in the next few weeks?  The trade deadline is now just a month
away, so I’m interested to see what teams make deals and what teams stay put.   

 

Final
disclaimer: Just because it’s my birthday does not mean you have to say happy
birthday to me.  I forgot to put my
own mother’s birthday card in the mail on time this year, so I deserve nothing.

 

Pirates
news:

http://bucsbits.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/06/two_trades_a_final_wrap.html


Albert picture:

http://www.albertpujolsclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/albert-pujols-homerun-diamondbacks.jpg

Sweet pictures, sweet stats

Here they are: some pictures from the “epic baseball adventure” I recently took with my padre.  I will try not to bore you with every miniscule detail, but I’ll put in some of my favorite pictures and moments from the trip.

We took a red-eye, so we arrived in NYC pretty early. Rain and fog covered the city for awhile in the morning, so we were nervous about the fate of our Yankees vs. Mets game that evening.  Luckily, the fog and rain cleared and we were able to enjoy a beautiful game.  (Disclaimer: Last summer, my whole family saw a game at the old Yankee Stadium and I bought a Derek Jeter t-shirt.  I have in no way become a die-hard Yankees fan, but I thought I should wear it while I had the perfect opportunity.) 

DSCN1252.JPG


DSCN1260.JPG

The highlight of this, of course, was getting to see Luis Castillo’s drop of A-Rod’s pop-up in the bottom of the ninth.  I so shocked that I wasn’t able to take a picture of it, but the crowd’s reaction afterwards was absolutely ridiculous.  There are few words to describe the craziness that ensued after the win; fans chanted “Let’s Go Yankees!” the whole time we were walking to the exit, people were jumping up and down, complete strangers were giving us high fives, and my dad and I were in awe.  Fans don’t act like that at Safeco Field.

Thumbnail image for DSCN1409.JPG

The next morning, we hit the road for Baltimore.  It was nearly a four-hour drive, so by the time we arrived in Baltimore, we didn’t have a lot of time to explore the city.  The city does have a really nice Inner Harbor area with a nice view of the city skyline and the bay.  The picture above is a statue of Babe Ruth, a Baltimore native.  Camden Yards probably ended up being our least favorite stop on the trip, but that was partly because we were seated in front of a group of four couples who were more focused on their beers than on the game.  We left the game a couple innings early because we had the urge to drive 45 minutes out of our way to Washington, D.C.  It was nearly midnight, but we took a little stroll along the National Mall and were able to see all of its famous sights.

After Baltimore and our quick D.C. detour, we drove to Pittsburgh.  We took another exciting detour, this time into West Virginia (my dad and I are easily entertained), and arrived in Pittsburgh about an hour before the game.  This game, Pirates vs. Tigers, was a rematch of the 1909 World Series, and both teams wore vintage uniforms to commemorate the 100-year anniversary.  PNC Park really is beautiful and was our favorite ballpark of the trip. 

DSCN1550.JPG


This game was enhanced by a visit from the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team, which had just beaten the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup finals.  The team (including the amazing Sidney Crosby), brought the trophy for a visit and the crowed went wild.  Not being from Pittsburgh, my dad and I didn’t really know any of the players, so we stood in silence and took in the scene.  We were probably the only people at PNC who weren’t screaming our heads off; the lady standing next to us asked, “Are you from Detroit?”

DSCN1525.JPG

Our last stop was Cleveland for the Indians vs. Brewers game.  It was the longest game of the trip (nearly four hours), but we had a great time.  The highlight was batting practice.  We arrived a couple hours early in order to soak in the park and BP, and during BP, my dad caught a ball!  This was exciting enough, but later I snagged Trevor Hoffman’s autograph!  (You can’t really see his signature in the picture, but I swear it says “Trevor Hoffman.”)  We were also able to see Prince Fielder’s first career grand slam.
Thumbnail image for DSCN1607.JPG

 

So that’s the trip in a not-so-small nutshell.  Thanks for all of the advice beforehand! 

 

Also, in terms of real baseball news, I was watching Sportscenter this morning and discovered what I now believe to be the best comparison stat ever.  A-Rod tied Reggie Jackson’s number of career home runs last night, and someone has kept track of the fact that there are five pitchers who have given up home runs to both players.  They are: 

 

Tom Candiotti

Roger Clemens

David Cone

Doug Drabek

Jimmy Key

 

Who keeps track of this stuff?  Are there any crazy statistics or comparisons that you’ve come across recently that you find particularly interesting?  Stuff like this always amazes me because it gives me even more reasons to appreciate baseball.  It can be analyzed from so many different angles.  

Anyways, I’ve got to take some time to decide which MLB games to check out this evening. As a huge Motown/Jackson 5/”Thriller” fan, baseball took the backseat yesterday to news of Michael Jackson’s death.  He was a pretty weird dude, but an indisputably great musician. He’s gone, but at least we’ve still got the tunes!

Sweet pictures, sweet stats

Here they are: some pictures from the “epic baseball adventure” I recently took with my padre.  I will try not to
bore you with every miniscule detail from everything, but I’ll put in some of
my favorite pictures and moments from the trip.

 

We took a red-eye, so we arrived in
NYC pretty early. Rain and fog covered the city for awhile in the
morning, so we were nervous about the fate of our Yankees
vs. Mets game that evening. 
Luckily, the fog and rain cleared and we were able to enjoy a beautiful
game.  (Disclaimer: Last summer, my whole family saw a game at the old Yankee Stadium and I bought a Derek Jeter t-shirt.  I have in no way become a die-hard Yankees fan, but I thought I should wear it while I had the perfect opportunity.) 


DSCN1252.JPG

DSCN1267.JPG


The highlight of this, of
course, was getting to see Luis Castillo’s drop of A-Rod’s pop-up in the bottom
of the ninth.  I so shocked that I wasn’t able to take a picture of it, but the crowd’s reaction afterwards
was absolutely ridiculous.  There
are few words to describe the craziness that ensued after the win; fans chanted
“Let’s Go Yankees!” the whole time we were walking to the exit, people were
jumping up and down, complete strangers were giving us high fives, and my dad
and I were in awe.  Fans don’t act
like that at Safeco Field. 


DSCN1409.JPG

 

The next morning, we hit the road for Baltimore.  It was nearly a four-hour drive, so by
the time we arrived in Baltimore, we didn’t have a lot of time to explore the
city.  The city does have a really
nice Inner Harbor area with a nice view of the city skyline and the bay.  The picture above is a statue of Babe Ruth, a Baltimore native.  Camden Yards probably ended up being
our least favorite stop on the trip, but that was partly because we were seated
in front of a group of four couples who were more focused on their beers than
on the game.  We left the game a
couple innings early because we had the urge to drive 45 minutes out of our way
to Washington, D.C.  It was nearly
midnight, but we took a little stroll along the National Mall and were able to
see all of its famous sights.

 

After Baltimore and our quick D.C. detour,
we drove to Pittsburgh.  We took another exciting detour, this time into West Virginia (my dad and I are easily entertained),
and arrived in Pittsburgh about an hour before the game.  This game, Pirates vs. Tigers, was a
rematch of the 1909 World Series, and both teams wore vintage uniforms to commemorate the 100-year anniversary.  PNC Park really is beautiful and was our favorite ballpark of the trip.  


DSCN1550.JPG


This game was enhanced by a visit from the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team, which had just beaten the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup finals.  The team (including the amazing Sidney Crosby), brought the trophy for a visit and the crowed went wild.  Not being from Pittsburgh, my dad and I didn’t really know any of the players, so we stood in silence and took in the scene.  The lady standing next to us asked, “Are you from Detroit?”


DSCN1525.JPG

 

Our last stop was Cleveland for the Indians
vs. Brewers game.  It was the
longest game of the trip (nearly four hours), but we had a great time.  The highlight was batting
practice.  We arrived a couple
hours early in order to soak in the park and BP, and during BP, my dad caught a
ball!  This was exciting enough,
but later during BP, I snagged Trevor Hoffman’s autograph!  We were also able to
see Prince Fielder’s first career grand slam.


DSCN1607.JPG

 

So that’s the trip in a not-so-small
nutshell.  Thanks for all of the
advice beforehand! 

 

Also, in terms of real baseball news, I was
watching Sportscenter this morning and discovered what I now believe to be the
best comparison stat ever.  A-Rod
tied Reggie Jackson’s number of career home runs last night, and someone has
kept track of the fact that there are five pitchers who have given up home runs
to both players.  They are: 

 

Tom Candiotti

Roger Clemens

David Cone

Doug Drabek

Jimmy Key

 

Who keeps track of this stuff?  Are there any crazy statistics or
comparisons that you’ve come across recently that you find particularly
interesting?  Stuff like this
always amazes me because it gives me even more reasons to appreciate baseball.  It can be analyzed from so many
different angles. 

 

Anyways, I’ve got to take some time to
decide which MLB games to check out this evening.  As a huge Motown/Jackson 5/”Thriller” fan, baseball took the
backseat yesterday to news of Michael Jackson’s death.  He was a pretty weird dude, but an indisputably
great musician.  He’s gone, but at
least we’ve still got the tunes!

Help Wanted

Alright.
I’ve been hyping this up for a couple days now, so now I am finally going to
divulge the secrets of my baseball trip. 
Forgive me if I sound overly excited, but I have never taken a trip
solely for the purpose of going to baseball games, let alone fly to the other
side of the country to do so.

 

My
dad and I are leaving next Thursday for a 5-day/4-game adventure.  Of the four cities we are going to visit, I’ve only been to one of them before.  So, I am seeking out the wise advice of my fellow bloggers: Where should we go?  Where should we eat?  What should we be sure to check out at the ballpark?  We’d like to explore the city a little bit on top of going to the game, so I’m open to any and all suggestions.


First stop…

 

new yankee stadium.jpg

 

New
York is my favorite city in the world, so I would be excited to go even if baseball
were not included.  However, I will
be officially experiencing the new Yankee Stadium in person.  Better yet, it will be an authentic New
York experience: it’s a Yankees vs. Mets game.  I’m sorry, Red Sox fans, but I cannot help but be excited about getting to experience the inaugural season of the new stadium in my favorite city.  

 

After
that…


CamdenYards.jpg

On
Saturday, we’ll be heading to Camden Yards for the Orioles vs. Braves
game.  I’ve never been to
Baltimore, so if you guys have any tips at all, they would be especially
helpful here.  There’s a free promotion that day: crab mallets.  My dad was pretty excited about that.  It seems like it will be a very authentic New England souvenir.

 

Next…

 

PNC-789928.jpg

 

I’ve
already received some helpful tips from Matt of The Pittsburgh Peas, who is a Pittsburgh
native, but if you live in Pittsburgh or have been to the park, let me know!  We’re going to see the Pirates and Tigers.

 

And
the final stop…


the jake.jpg

 

We’re
going to the Indians vs. Brewers game in Cleveland on the 15th.  I am super excited for the game, of
course, but I am also really looking forward to the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of
Fame.  My dad and I have plans to
go.  I am completely addicted to
Motown music, and it’s the record label’s 50th Anniversary this year
so they have a special Motown exhibit at the Hall of Fame.

 

Well, that’s
the trip in a nutshell, but I have one important final question.  Somewhere along the way, I would like
to buy one or two t-shirts, they jersey style with a player’s name and number
on the back.  This is a very
important decision; I mean, I will be sporting this player’s name all summer,
so it has to be someone good.  My
choices are probably limited to Yankees, Orioles, Pirates and Indians since those are the home teams, so let
me know if you have any good suggestions!


Photo credits:

Yankee Stadium: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Yankee_Stadium_II.JPG


Camden Yards: http://www.robert-o-rama.com/TA/CamdenYards.jpg


PNC Park: http://www3.allaroundphilly.com/blogs/delcotimes/ryanl/uploaded_images/PNC-789928.jpg


The Jake/Progressive Field: http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images/pic/PHO/AAGY062_16x20-2006OpeningDay~Jacobs-Field-Posters.jpg

The Good, the Bad, and the Funny

In the last 24 hours, some good news, bad
news, and funny news have come my way. 

 

We’ll start with the bad:

 

Grady Sizemore is injured!  This is a tragedy.  While I am not the Grady Sizemore fan
that Melissa of “Life and Indians Baseball Through the Eyes of a Clemson Girl” is, I am still disappointed to hear about
it because in exactly two weeks, I will be attending an Indians game.  (More on that tomorrow…)  Naturally, I consider Sizemore to be
the star of the Indians team, so I’m a bit disappointed that he likely won’t be
in the line-up.

 

And now for the funny:

 

I’m all about having a good laugh, so when
I saw this video clip I was pretty excited.  It’s a collection of some of the worst first pitches thrown
in recent years.  The one thrown by
the Cinncinnati mayor is just terrible (At the time that it happened, PTI’s
Tony Kornheiser jokingly said, “That is a disgrace to his family.”) but the
rest are pretty bad, too. 

http://espn.go.com/broadband/player.swf?mediaId=4221748

 

And one more:

 

Read this quick little blog post from the
New York Times’ “Bats” baseball blog and it will make you feel better about being a mere mortal in comparison to baseball greats like Albert Pujols.  Apparently, Albert and a reporter got a little tied up after a
press conference and nearly sent Pujols to the DL.  Pujols’ response to the reporter at the time: “You all
right?  I didn’t want you to get
hurt.”  Classy.

 

And the really, really good news:


Ichiro has a fantastic hitting streak going.  24 games and counting; we’ll see how he fares against the Orioles tonight.

 

Also, there are only 10 days, 17 hours, 36 minutes, and 55 seconds left until summer vacation.  Not that I’m counting or anything.

 

Stay tuned for tomorrow, when I plan on
revealing the details of my baseball adventure.

A Break from the Books

people_studying.jpg

This has been me for the last two
weeks.  I have pretty much failed
at blogging, but until June 11, school is my priority and it’s been eating up
my time lately.  I promise to write
more regularly now; finals still await, but things are starting to slow down
and I can finally pay some more attention to my blog.  I also promise to stop boring you with the details of my
academic life. 

 

But, disclaimer aside, I am wondering:
where has this season gone? 
There’s still a lot of ground to cover, but we’re practically two months
in! An oversimplified, quick look at what’s happened so far:

 

-The Marlins and Mariners found their
respective ways back to the cellar (or at least very close to it.)  My beloved Ken Griffey, Jr. found his
way to the “Who’s Not” list in Sports Illustrated.  Go figure.


-Raul Ibañez is having a career year.  I can’t wait to vote for him repeatedly for the All-Star game and see what else he does this year.

 

-There have been some terrific arguments
and ejections.  I’m sure there have
been plenty that I’ve missed, but Zambrano was ejected this afternoon and there
were some choice words exchanged between Ron Gardenhire and the umpires during
Sunday night’s Twins vs. Brewers game. 
Please don’t tell me I’m the only one who loves watching a good baseball
fight (extra points if the benches are cleared).

 

-Steve Phillips now stars in his own Baseball
Tonight commercial which is nowhere near the greatness of the Peter Gammons and
Buster Olney spots.  He’s supposed
to get me to watch that show?

 

I’m almost embarrassed to post this…it’s
fairly devoid of interesting baseball information.  But stay tuned. 
Later this week I’ll be asking for the help of my fellow bloggers as I
prepare for an epic baseball adventure with my father, and I’ve been cooking up
some fun ideas for the summer.  Until then, I will settle for enjoying tonight’s Boston vs. Minnesota game.  

Countdowns

There weren’t a whole lot of games on
yesterday, so I’m going to focus less on the individual games and players and
more on those wonderful people who bring us the inside info on our favorite
game: the analysts.  There are all
sorts of analysts and commentators, from those on the local sports channels to
the big-time, national show anchors. 
It has come to my attention lately that there are certain analysts who
are not held in high regard.  A
long time ago, people started bashing Steve Phillips, and while I kind of felt
bad for him at the start, it has come to my attention that he really does stink
at it.  I’m sure he knows a lot
about baseball after spending several years as the Mets’ GM, but he seems to
have a hard time translating that to TV. 

 

So, my question for you: who is the best
analyst today?  I know many of you
are partial to your local announcers. 
But, I’m also interested to know your thought about some of the national
guys.  What makes them good or bad?

 

Also, congrats to Randy Johnson for getting
his 298th win last night. 
He might not pitch like he did 10 or 15 years ago, but here’s to hoping
he picks up the 300th soon. 
There’s been a lot of talk lately about how we might see fewer 300-game
winners in the future, but Randy Johnson seems to be a lock.  The final countdown to his 300th is in full swing.

 

And speaking of countdowns, I’ve started a countdown for the days until I can join them: 30.  There’s a full schedule of games on
today, so they’ll create some nice background noise for my studying.  Enjoy the games, everyone!

Kind of Breaking News

 

Guess what I
learned from Twitter this morning? 
Manny Ramirez has been suspended 50 games because he tested positive for
using performance-enhancing drugs. 
Now the whole world is talking about it.  Supposedly, the offending substance is a drug that Manny
received from a doctor, but as far as I can tell, everything is speculation
now.

I imagine this
story will be unfolding throughout the day, but here is the link to the first
LA Times story:

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-manny-ramirez8-2009may08,0,6324894.story

What do you
think?  I’m really surprised, but I
am guessing Manny will weasel his way out; not out of the suspension, but out
of further guilt.  Do you think
this could signal the beginning of the suspension of more big-name stars?

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