On Breaking Bad…

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NON-BASEBALL POST ALERT: I’ve finally found something that can interest me in the summer evenings when the Reds aren’t hitting or when my fantasy team is shitting the bed.

I will never forget this summer of 2014, a summer in which I traveled on a magical journey to Albuquerque with Walt, Jessie, Hank, Hector, Gus, Tucco and a whole other magical cast of characters.

I will likely finish the series tonight – if not a day or two later – but likely tonight since when I start watching, I simply can’t stop. And I’ve found something else that parallels baseball season in that; I wish Breaking Bad was another five seasons longer than it’s going to be, because I’m not really ready for it to wrap up.

Never before has television; or a series for that matter been so beautifully and artistically done. If you’re one of those people who has briefly heard about it and has delayed watching it; please do yourself a favor and get Netflix or watch it by any means necessary. I didn’t think it was possible to be as good as people made it out to be. The truth is, it’s probably better. You’ll get hooked like Skinny Pete on some blue persuasion meth (just watch the damn show).

I usually watch baseball like a madman from 7:00 until the last pitch is thrown well after midnight in the eastern time zone. I am grateful to Heisenberg and family for welcoming me in this summer and creating a distraction that I desperately needed. It’s truly the greatest television I’ve ever enjoyed and I only fear that nothing like it will ever come again in my lifetime. It can’t possibly.

Throwing it Around

It’s a glorious and muggy Monday evening in July – to state the obvious. We hope the beginning of your work week wasn’t as busy as ours. Here are the best baseball reads of the day:

-Joe Posnanski has an outstanding article on who will be the face of baseball when Derek Jeter retires. [NBC Sports]
-The Angels have rebuilt their bullpen, and they’ve done it to win now. [FanGraphs]
-The eyes of baseball focus on Cliff Lee this evening (he’s getting hit). [CSN Philly]
-The Giants signed Dan Uggla. Why? [Deadspin]
-Walt Jocketty is shopping the trade market to try to help the Reds. [Cincinnati.com]
-Tommy Milone is demanding the A’s to trade him. [Ken Rosenthal]
-Anthony Rizzo, killin’ it. [Chicago Sun Times]

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have some serious Magic Working Right now

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[Box Score]

[Seattle Times] [OC Register Angels Blog]

The Angels – if you watch them each day – they’re that team this year that is high on character. That team that never seems to be out of a game. They are a gritty, grimy bunch (not without their fine items) that just seems to hang around and never actually be dead.

Today they did it again. Another day in which Mike Trout filled the stat sheet and hit an incredible home run, his 23rd of the year. Trout literally willed his team to a win today. He added a single, and a walk at a critical juncture, scoring three runs.

Josh Hamilton had three hits, Kole Calhoun added three more including a home run.

But the memorable part of this game will be when Fernando Rodney blew the save – and possibly shot his arrow a bit too early on the Angels. This isn’t a team to be declaring that you shot Jesse James on until you’re certain that he’s dead.

And the Angels had a little fun with it. We’re so glad that they did. If you’re a baseball fan, and you’re not taking the time to stop and smell the roses and enjoy what the Angels are doing this year for their fans and for all of us that follow baseball, you’re missing out.

It was their league leading 30th come-from-behind win in baseball. That says a lot about the group.

Another really good baseball blog out there

I found another baseball blog I’ve ventured to several times in the past, but for the first time the other night I spent some significant time hunting around. It’s the Joy of Sox blog, and there’s a ton of Red Sox focus but also just some really good baseball commentary.

It’s updated almost daily – and it’s been around since 2003 (and we thought this blog was old!). It’s operated by Allan Wood who has authored a couple of Red Sox books.

If you’re a Red Sox fan it’s one of the better stops on the net, and as a baseball fan it’s about as good of a model as there is out there if you’re starting a blog and doing daily baseball commentary. Very organized, concise and easy to read. There is a lot of history on the blog.

Did you ever wonder what happened to Tom Emanski?

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This is a must-click link that will lead you over FOX Sports, as Eric Malinowski ran a popular story he did the other day on good old Tom Emanski.

If you grew up in the era that we did, you long for the old Emanski commercials to just play late night one more time, but like anything else in life they quietly faded away off television and are no longer seen.

Time catches up to everyone – even Fred McGriff who was always seen in that hideous ‘Baseball World’ trucker hat in the commercials.

Before everything in business was dot com, there was Tom Emanski and his VHS tapes. You’ll enjoy this read.

Last night had to be the longest game in the Mike Trout Angels era

On the night they traded for Huston Street (they gave up some nice pieces that would have been a big part of their future), the Angels played a five hour, 14 minute game in which they outlasted the Mariners in 16 innings to win 3-2.

I saw most of it – and I have to give the Angels bullpen credit. The last three pitchers who appeared; Fernando Salas, Cory Rasmus, and Hector Santiago all got out of jams where I said to myself ‘they’re going to blow it right here’. As a whole, the Angels pen threw ten innings of shutout baseball after Jered Weaver left the game.

Mike Trout had three hits and scored the winning run. At almost 3:00 AM EST, I woke up to see good old Efren Navarro hit his seeing eye single back up the box to score Trout from second.

The Angels have some serious magic going this year. On Sirius MLB Network Radio this morning the host – and forgive me for not knowing his name – said if the Angels could just add one more starting pitcher he would pick them to be a World Series team out of the American League. I don’t know about that, but they’ve caught my interest this year.

Your Saturday Baseball Post

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Like a roll call at Yankee Stadium, we always show on a Saturday. And speaking of Yankee Stadium, the Reds are playing there as we speak. There’s something so beautiful about a Saturday afternoon game in the summer starting at 1:00 at Yankee Stadium. How do people waste their weekend down time watching golf when this is going on? This is how you relax! This is how you really live!

We’re batching it this weekend, so we should have time to get a lot of important stuff done like a few extra blog posts, and a few extra daily fantasy lineups.

Baseball on the weekend, you simply can’t beat it. Soak it in.

Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers.

With a new & improved stance, Bryce Harper takes K-Rod Deep

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It was obvious at one quick glance that something was different about Bryce Harper’s stance this Friday evening in Washington. It almost looks as if he tore a page out of Adam Laroche’s book with his new-look adjustment at the plate. He looks more relaxed and was able to get himself into a hitting position by simplifying his hands; not holding them as high as the past Harper would have.

The results were tremendous: a line drive single to right, a single back up the box, and he turned on a 93-MPH Francisco Rodriguez fastball to right field in the bottom of the ninth.

As great as K-Rod has been for most of this season for Milwaukee, this is definitely a good sign.

I watched a good portion of this game, and it was a frustrating one for the Nationals. They banged out 11 total hits, with ten coming off Kyle Lohse. It just seemed they could never capitalize on scoring opportunities. Stephen Strasburg had a weird night. It seemed like his stuff was entirely nasty and he was missing a ton of bats (nine strikeouts), but the Brewers made it hurt when they connected with a couple of home runs and bases clearing double. This too often is the Strasburg the Nationals are getting when they need a true, frontline ace to take hold of their division.

The Nationals lost by a final of 4-2.

Let’s Get on With Some Second Half Baseball

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If this All Star Break went on one more day, we don’t know if we would survive. We’ve gone through some serious baseball withdrawal the past few days. As we type this post, most players are probably arriving back in their home MLB cities from their respective hometowns.

The good news is tomorrow, there’s a full slate of action and everyone will be suiting up. The bad news is there’s less than half of the season remaining. We’re just not going to be quite ready this year to flip it over to football season. If the season were 13 months long, we would still be greedy and want another month of it.

For me in particular, the 2014 second half will be my last half season without a kid of my own. This is weird; because baseball in a lot of ways has always reduced us back to the inner child within us. It’s going to be a big adjustment, but it won’t be without some fireworks before we have to worry about fatherhood.

It’s going to be an action-packed and drama filled second half. In your wildest imagination, you can’t even guess at the drama we have ahead of us. That’s what we say to all the crap talk that baseball is dying.

No superstars? Watch Trout play sometime, soccer fan.

 

Mel Hall was a real loon

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This post is not intended to invoke any humor whatsoever. For all the beautiful parts of the game, Mel Hall turned out to be one of the game’s most ugly facets.

We remember him pretty well because he did look flashy on the Topps cards we owned of him, just as the SB Nation feature story said he attempted to be. We always pulled Mel Hall out for some reason and put him in the ‘star’ pile, even with fairly pedestrian career numbers.

He had some pretty famous moments, as some fans remember in the Bronx. He even has folks calling one Red Sox – Yankees tilt the ‘Mel Hall Game’.

But make no mistake about it – this guy is sick and his history in the game should be condemned. It’s still a great read and if you’re a baseball fan who grew up with even the faintest memory of Hall and you’re bored you should read it.

Farewell, Sweet ‘Street

I’ve been in a cranky and somber mood since I heard the news: DraftStreet has been sold to DraftKings. At the beginning of this season I learned of the world that is Daily Fantasy Baseball. I’ve played on average about five games per night since. It’s the greatest world I’ve ever known.

When I look back on my life – my life in baseball – I will have a VERY special place in my heart of this half season I got to enjoy on DraftStreet and the excitement it brought to common weeknights with a short slate of games or the huge weekend tournaments.

Daily Fantasy will not be the same, no site out there pulls every little intricacy together as well as the site I fell in love with in April. The greatest things in life certainly don’t last.

All that remains are the memories, the sweet memories. I still remember the night I took down one of the greats, a guy I admire a lot in the Daily Fantasy realm:

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As for DraftKings, this isn’t going to work, probably for the reason I am not fully comfortable playing there. I’m a daily fantasy turtle without a shell right now. This is out of the Forbes article I linked, and I think it simply holds a lot of truth:

“We spent a long time with IAC evaluating DraftStreet and whether to make a bid,” added Eccles of FanDuel. IAC committed to investing in DraftStreet in 2013. ”Ultimately we declined to bid for them. Around 70% of the revenues on both DraftStreet and DraftKings comes from players who already have FanDuel accounts. So we would be spending money for players we already had. Additionally, the top reasons for people to play on DraftStreet included their unique pricing and roster configurations, snake drafts and pickems. So trying to bring over the players when you don’t have those games is a mistake.”

There are no shortcuts in life. You can buy a client base of a site but without giving us the things that made us love – and made us so loyal in playing on that site – you simply won’t sustain any amount of consistent success.

Daily fantasy will never be the same. I’m just so happy to have known my times on the ‘Street. Now I must think of all the foes I’ll never conquer and the scores I’ll never be able to settle.

Some Original Photos from the All Star Home Run Derby and Parade

We were fortunate to have a good friend in Minneapolis the last few days, Corey; who has written for the site before. Next year we figure to be part of the entire All-Star experience from start to finish in Cincinnati, or die trying. For now – enjoy the awesome camera work on these original photos you can’t see anywhere else. BstJ1jrIUAA5sdo This is the famed rainbow that appeared during the home run derby before Todd Frazier starting taking his first round cuts. BstJOf5IQAEIyJh So I just learned that these guys are known as ‘Minnie’ and ‘Paul’, and they’re exactly 500 feet from home plate. It was mentioned during the game that they have never been reached. BstJmznIIAAgBGV Yasiel Puig during All-Star workout day. BstJ352IIAA7l6r Here are the contestants of the Home Run Derby. BstJkVwCAAA4VB3 The Captain taking some cuts during batting practice of All Star workout day. BstKCz7IcAAVrrh A great shot of Jeter during the parade. When you think back to the 2014 All Star Game in the Twin Cities, you’ll think of two main things: Jeter…. BstKHeZIgAAXQCe And Mike Trout. Who looks like he’s signing a ball for a fan here in the middle of the parade. What a great dude. BstKJZWIUAA3_NE Lots of respect for Miguel Cabrera, who admitted over the past few days that he isn’t fully healthy. BstKNWkIgAArame Giancarlo Stanton rides alone. BstKO3_IQAAEh-v Andrew McCutchen didn’t go without accumulating some stats in this All-Star Game, he singled to lead off the game. You know, the play that Jeter almost made right off the bat. BstKEjjIAAAClud Here’s another one of our favorites Jose Abreu, aka Big Cuban Stud. BstKL5rIAAE05My Jose Bautista in his salmon-colored sports coat. BstKQ9gIIAA1ya_ One of the most talked about arms in the game today, Clayton Kershaw. Up close and personal. BstKP4uIYAEEXyk Paul Goldschmidt BstKR79IAAAEgdU Yasiel Puig had a ROUGH couple of days in Minneapolis. This is a great and symbolic shot, really. Puig is such a kid that you figure he was in awe of everything and having such a great time (kid in a candy store) the focus just wasn’t there. And that’s okay. He will have more All Star Games.

Mike Trout grabs MVP honors in an outstanding All Star Game

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[Box Score]

[Hardball Talk] [ESPN] [Rob Neyer] [SweetSpot] [Deadspin] [NY Times]

The melody line – the take home message in this wonderful All Star Game of 2014 – was that Derek Jeter is passing the torch to the new face of baseball. It is absolutely fitting that Mike Trout won the MVP of this game and despite a great night from Jeter, and a home run from the man who has kept Trout from two MVP awards at a college age; it was Trout who shined the brightest in the game of stars and had the biggest hand in the American League’s victory.

I thought this was one of the best Midsummer Classics in recent memory from an entertainment standpoint. The hitters really did their job, putting a lot of hard balls in play and it seemed that the game featured about five or six well struck balls off the wall.

The game had a little bit of everything. It is absolutely amazing the kind of arms that each side was able to trot out to the mound one after the other. It’s also a credit to the great hitters in the game today that there were eight runs scored. The game also featured some great defensive plays, second to no one was Dee Gordon’s grab and throw to rob Michael Brantley of a hit.

It was just a well-played, outstanding ballgame. It represented our sport as well as any one thrill sport games could have. And how about that Corvette Stingray that Mike Trout took home? OMG.

Click through the jump to see five great moments from the 2014 All-Star Game.
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The 2014 All-Star Game Awaits

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In about an hour, the 2014 All Star Game takes center stage as a celebration of the baseball season’s midway point. It’s actually kind of sad that the season is half over (and if we’re being honest with you and ourselves it’s more than halfway over). This year’s All Star emeritus is Derek Jeter, so the game will be centered around cameras nobbing him and rightfully so.

ESPN had a cool article the other day about some of the different personalities and their favorite All Star Game memories titled ‘Midsummer Memories’. It had us re-living some of our favorite moments of All Star’s past, and if asked to pick just one moment it’s really hard to do. Every midsummer classic from our youth is special in it’s own way.

We really loved that 1992 game when Ken Griffey Jr. homered and was named the MVP. It was special to see it live, as that was the moment that Junior really kind of announced his presence on the grand stage. That was the moment when he started to come into his own. He was pretty dominant for the next decade.

The All Star game is neat, and tonight will have it’s share of epic moments. There are a nice collection of the game’s best players that serve as a great snapshot for where the game is at today. That’s the best part about every All Star game; you look at the names that dot the roster and I think it says something about the game at that particular moment.

The last two games have featured shut-outs. Tonight, we’re fairly sure both teams will score and we’re fairly sure the starters (Felix Hernandez and Adam Wainwright) of the game will be going full-bore as their teams have a shot at the playoffs and they want the opportunity to host that extra game. I think it’s going to be a terrific display of the game’s greatest players tonight. I can’t wait. The only bad part is soon after this game the season will begin to melt away like sand through an hourglass. There’s nothing about that which is positive.

But it’s been a remarkable and fulfilling first half of baseball. If the second half is this much fun, we’re in line for one of our most entertaining finishes ever. Good for our favorite sport!

Baseball