Alright, so I miss Dusty Baker

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Sometimes, absence makes you realize how much you loved something. In this case, watching MLB Network’s profile/documentary on Dusty Baker the other night made me realize how much I miss the guy. He’s a damn baseball artifact, and compared to the incumbent Bryan Price he’s just so much cooler all around.

The show opened up with this song – and what would be better for a Dusty Baker tribute:

I didn’t realize Baker spent several years hitting behind Hank Aaron in Atlanta. I knew he was part of the first official high-five in sports with Glenn Burke.

But this feature did a good job of reminding you how many close calls this guy has had with reaching the mountain’s zenith. He’s baseball’s black Marv Levy. And I enter the 2016 season rooting for the guy. Not just because he’s with an organization that I like and respect in Washington, but because I think it will be a great baseball story if he gets back to the World Series with one more shot at the title before his final chapter is written. I believe he’s a good man, and overall a good; but flawed manager.

He was always friendly to me and my family when we went down to the park in Cincinnati. You could chat him up simply by yelling “Hey Dusty”. He smiled always, said hello and was generally inviting. And you knew with Baker you were at least going to be respectable. He found his unique way to fuck shit up on occasion as all managers do, and he was stubborn in his old school ways (he talks about his disdain for new age metrics a little bit on the special). But you can’t argue that the guy is a winner.

I realized I not only miss Dusty Baker, but it’s probable that his era with the Cincinnati Reds will go down as my most enjoyable seasons of my adult life. They were fun summers, and even if they never reached the ultimate goal; I will always have fond memories of ‘Dusty Pegleg’ as me and my buddies called him.

I owe the month of February for Zeek Braverman

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Man the month of February sucks for a baseball fan. It’s been covered many times here before. There’s nothing to fill your time with in this month. College football, NBA, Hockey; none of them seem to bridge the gap once football season ends. It’s a long, excruciating crawl to that first week in April when we can finally be made whole once again.

I decided upon a recommendation to give a new show on Netflix a try. The Parenthoodstarted a little slow, but the character development; particularly the development of one character kept me coming back.

Meet Zeek Braverman. He’s the patriarch of the family featured in the show, and he is in a word; Americana. A Vietnam war veteran, he’s far from perfect and a little rough around the edges. He’s beyond a little old fashioned. He’s a man of balanced principals: beer, camping, whiskey, close-minded views, his tractor, fixing things he doesn’t know how to fix, and calling his grandsons not by their name, but simply ‘grandson’.

He is both the question and the answer. He is a true relic. I want to thank this man, and to a lesser extent his family for helping me get through the month of February.

And if you haven’t seen this show yet, give it a shot. It’s got a little something for everyone and it’s not quite the chick show you would pass it by as when you are scrolling through netflix. You’ll thank me for introducing you to Zeek Braverman.

Throwing it Around

Football season has ended, and I don’t feel like going to sleep. If you can get through this brutal stretch in February, there’s a lot to look forward to in the spring and summer. We’ll do our best to keep you busy until then with some great links around the interweb:

-Dave Cameron writes briefly on the 2016 #1 overall pick. [Fangraphs]
-Have you read up on the Red Sox lately? Here are their main storylines entering spring training. [Boston Globe]
-The Diamondbacks may shift Yasmany Thomas to the outfield. [Hardball Talk]
-The Padres say they aren’t rebuilding. [San Diego Union-Tribune]
-More buzz about Bryce Harper becoming a Yankee, from Yahoo’s Jeff Passan. [Yahoo]
-Jose Bautista wants to be a Blue Jay for life. [The Canadian Press]
-Jake Arrieta will make $10.7 million this season via arbitration ruling. [Associated Press]

Carlos Correa reminds me of young Alex Rodriguez

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So, nothing earth shattering here – a lot of people have said for a while that Carlos Correa reminds them of Alex Rodriguez.

But it was 1996 and I was in Florida for Spring Break staying at my late grandparents home and reading their morning paper while eating my cereal. There was a nice article about this young shortstop who I had a few rookie cards of, wondering if he could break spring training with the Mariners big club and hit enough to stay in the lineup.

Rodriguez was coming off a partial season in 1995 in which he hit .232 with five home runs and 19 RBI in 142 at bats. He was entering his age 20 season and all of the talk was surrounding his sound glove but the pundits continually said he was ‘light hitting’.

I remember when Correa got called up last year a lot of folks on Sirius talking about how he’s going to be good, but temper expectations on his bat. They said he wouldn’t hit quite as much as people would like to see.

Obviously, the parallels aren’t perfect here. Correa came up in a different era and in his age 20 season, won rookie of the year. He hit 22 home runs, drove in 68, and had an astounding .857 OPS. He did this in a era that was not known for it’s use of PEDs and with league-wide pitching being MUCH stronger than it was back in the mid-90’s.

Rodriguez went on to post one of the best age-20 seasons ever in 1996; shortly after that spring break at my grandparents wrapped up. He had 36 home runs, 141 runs scored, 123 RBI, 54 doubles, and a 1.045 OPS. Again, different era.

The build is very similar on both of these guys at age 20, and the ability to use all of the field with some power has some real similarities.

While Correa lacks being surrounded by a few Hall of Fame caliber threats in his same lineup (Rodriguez had Griffey and Edgar Martinez among others) there is enough firepower in the Houston lineup to really protect Correa and allow him to develop without the sense that he has to do too much.

I think before any of the steroid use; Rodriguez was a sure-fire Hall of Famer; if we can just erase from our memory what has happened since time spanned forward. I very rarely say this, but I believe if he stays healthy you’re looking at a Hall of Fame player in Correa who will deliver some very special seasons on the back of his baseball cards in the present day. I am really excited to see how he develops his game to build on an exceptional 4.1 bWAR rookie season in just 99 games (extrapolate that to 150+).

I felt something had to go up about the guy, as I went back through the archives there just wasn’t enough written about a guy who could unseat Trout and Harper as the face of baseball in the near future.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

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Not really. February is brutal. It might as well be called ‘Barnes & Noble Season’ to the baseball fan. It’s fantasy magazine February for all of us impatiently waiting to start our rotosserie league drafts in March. But we are in a period of Festivus with April 3rd and 4th being the day we can all open our great gifts.

Every year it’s a rite of passage, I buy one of these bad boys. Not because I need it but simply because for tradition’s sake; it just helps to remind me of a lot of the things I feel like I already know.

Anyways, I spent an hour this morning trying to read through this while at the same time trying to keep my daughter from putting the toy train set in her mouth. It just wasn’t happening. It’s still a great time of year any time you get to see some of the new fantasy magazine covers out on the racks. It means we don’t have long until our Christmas.

Lou Piniella is back with the Reds

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I have to take my hat off to the Reds – probably their finest move of the entire offseason was the announcement yesterday that former manager Lou Piniella would be returning to the organization as a ‘special advisor’.

Now if old Pappy Piniella comes in and can light a fire under some asses and inspire the suits in the front office in some way, this is going to be a great move. If he comes in like some special advisors just to collect a paycheck in retirement and stay behind the scenes, then this will end up like Mike Holmgren in Cleveland.

When I was a kid, Piniella was the first manager I ever knew of. On the nightly news his tirades would get a few seconds of footage; berating reporters, throwing his closer through the postgame dinner spread or throwing bases and kicking dirt like the true winner he was. I love the guy like a grandfather. I’m really happy about this.

But forget him teaching Bryan Price anything. There couldn’t be any two men more dissimilar.

Your Saturday Baseball Post

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It’s your first Saturday Baseball Post of the offseason, we’re 58 days from Opening Day. Pitchers and catchers will report soon. Your fantasy league should be filling with familiar faces and it won’t be long until we’re all gathered round rooting for the same old categories that remind us it’s truly spring.

As for us, well we’re trying to sell our condo. It’s truly the most miserable experience to do the daily drill of showings and offerings and counters. Please don’t ever sell your home. It shows you that every person in this world has some shrewdness in them. And when you do show it you will be forced to vacate and loiter at your nearest convenience store for hours on end. So if you care about yourself and your family you will stay where you are!

Today’s 80’s song of the game that should be played on a ballpark loudspeaker near you is a true classic! Enjoy your Saturday.

Next Week will be Hideous Ballplayer Week

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A time-honored tradition here at Diamond Hoggers returns the week before Valentines day, during the most hideous month of them all. Hideous Ballplayer Week has been a feature for many years here, and next week we roll out a brand new stable of stooges for you to learn about.

We don’t want anyone to think we are hating on their dad or anything. If you reached the big leagues, you were at some point; supremely talented at the game of baseball. But within that fraternity there’s a group of guys who just stand out for being ordinary or vanilla. These are the guys we’re going to be targeting for the honors. It’s really more of a ‘random ballplayer review’. We want the guys who never really stood out or did anything wonderful in their time in the bigs.

We take reader submissions, so if you have someone in mind you want to make the blog, tweet us @diamondhoggers or shoot us an e-mail at diamondhoggers_at_gmail_dot_com.

Bring your Junior Noboa’s, your Skeeter Barnes’s, your Rob Picciolo’s (don’t you dare cheat ahead and look him up). This is the chance to make the dreadful famous for a day.

I thought this was a pretty Funny promotional night

I admit to not knowing what ‘Netflix and Chill’ was really, but I heard a lot of skirmish about it here and there. I’m 33, not hip, and generally don’t know what kids are up to these days. I have no idea how this caught fire. But I wanted to find out what Netflix and Chill was all about. So I did the only thing I knew how to do.

I Urban Dictionary’d it.

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I admire the Binghamton Mets for being on the cutting edge of what their fan base may be into. But what exactly will the promotional night entail?

We are guessing in the end it grabs a lot of attention – if we’re writing anything about a promo night to be held in MiLB, it’s good stuff. And we would bet that everyone at the ballpark uses their ticket stub to get a free month of Netflix or something. As if anyone but me pays for Netflix these days!

Iron Sheik meets Iron Sheik Jr. via Howard Stern

This isn’t new, so if you’re a Stern fan; please don’t jump all over me because this is really old content. It’s the off-season and if I’m ever going to throw up a post like this, now is the time. If you’re one of the lucky ones that haven’t seen this yet, it’s definitely worth the price of admission in these parts.

Here you have Howard Stern, the Iron Sheik (wrestling ‘legend’, authentic nutjob), and Iron Sheik Jr. (it’s Comedian Artie Lange and everyone in the world knows this right away, except the Sheik).

Iron Sheik senses trouble from the beginning. You can see this when he furrows his brow at the all out attack that Lange/Sheik Jr. unleashes upon him from the beginning.

And from here, it really goes downhill with Sheik getting his usual diarrhea of the mouth and Lange basically repeating Sheik’s own poor insults back him, telling him he is worse than Michael Jackson and calling him a Jabroni.

Favorite parts:

  1. Sheik Jr. telling Sheik he will ‘make him humble by selling out the Pontiac, Michigan in front of 93,000 people and fuck his ass’. This an obvious reference to Wrestlemania III, which Sheik was a part of and Artie probably remembers from when he was a kid. Golden stuff.
  2. Sheik Jr. repeatedly accusing Iron Sheik of stealing ‘The Camel Clutch’, Sheik’s prided finishing maneuver. He even says he stole it from his father!
  3. Howard instigating and asking about Vince McMahon paying Sheik Jr. $2 million dollars, and Sheik Jr. responding by saying that yes, ‘he was paid $2 million in whores, cocaine, and cash, and mari-ju-ana’.
  4. Howard basically instigating the unsuspecting Sheik all the way through to the end.

How Sheik didn’t notice that this was just some comedian mark pulling on his fake beard in front of a bullshit backdrop the WWF would have used in the 80’s (look at those pyramids) is beyond me. It is what makes this video so priceless.

Throwing it Around

Another day is done, and we are a day closer to the regular season. Here’s what is linkworthy on this Wednesday in the baseball world:

-One of the coolest posts I’ve seen in a while. How each MLB team was derived. [Fangraphs]
-The Astros had five guys on the MLB.com top 100 prospect list. [Crawfish Boxes]
-MLB owners are concerned with teams tanking for draft positioning. [ESPN]
-Can Jean Segura put it all together in the desert? [Fox Sports – Ken Rosenthal]
-Some kid holds a press conference in his bedroom to announce his 2016 MLB the Show team. I want to do this. [YouTube]
-Greg Maddux is now part of the Dodgers front office. [Inside the Dodgers]

“Chicken Soup” Rosario is no more. He is now Wonton Phosario

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Oh, the nuggets the boredom of an offseason brings.

We once gave Wilin Rosario the nickname “Chicken Soup” because he was seemingly always on the shelf, nursing himself back to health. If it wasn’t hangnail, he had a cold and was on the roost in the dugout nursing himself back to health with Campbell’s.

We panicked in hearing that Rosario was headed to Korea to play ball for the Hanwha Eagles!

This season, ‘Sitting Bull’ takes on a new form for his adventures. He’s now Wonton Phosario. Here’s how I see this playing out for the new oriental sitting league champion:

  • Wonton’s plane touches down in Korea, he immediately finds a golden throne somewhere and is fed sushi with chopsticks by several beautiful Korean women. He’s wearing nothing but an oriental sequent robe. They believe they are feeding the next Korean home run champion. Phosario misses six months because of a reaction to tempura rolls.
  • Phosario holds a press conference to announce he will return to the lineup a few months into the season on a Tuesday night, gets shocked for a split second when he touches the microphone and decides he needs the night off for being ‘electrocuted’.
  • Phosario misses a total of seven games during the Korean season because he stayed up too late the night before. Not because he was out enjoying the night life, he just stayed up too late watching television and has sleepy eyes in the morning.
  • Phosario tries Miso Soup and then gets a sour stomach, misses a week for food poisoning from Miso Soup! Who gets food poisoning from Miso Soup? It is basically water! Who, you ask? The catcher and soon to be DH who has the immune system of Charlie Sheen, that’s who.
  • Phosario tells his manager that his new oriental sandals he’s been wearing are causing turf toe, and is relegated to pinch-hit duty on the nights he decides he can play.
  • Phosario finally decides to miss the remainder of the season (as if he ever gave actually playing on a consistent basis his all to begin with) because he has a strained buttocks from sitting. He explains to the trainer that it ‘just hurts back there’ – becoming the first player in professional sports to actually get hurt from physically sitting on the bench.

This is going to be my first season checking in on Korean baseball, and it’s all due to our friend Wonton “Spup” Phosario.

Hat tip to our buddy Corey for the great photoshop of Phosario.

Anything Harry Caray just causes immense happiness

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MLB Network had a special feature tonight on Harry Caray, who in my opinion was the greatest ever when you factor in that he worked in the mystical land of Chicago for so long along with all his over lovable shenanigans.

Caray was so much more than just a ‘Carnival Barker’ as they referred to him affably tonight on the documentary. He was a great baseball man – arguably the best model of a baseball man that one could exhibit. Harry really just was one of us, which was why he connected so well with the fans. He was the real article. He didn’t try to pretend to be anything to be liked – this was really a guy who set up calling baseball games with a cocktail lunch – carried the party through the ballgame and on into the evening for a nightcap.

And he was a true pro. There he would be the next day ready to call your game and go again after being seen around town at seemingly every spot there was at 70 years of age. I know that I can’t think about going out and doing what Harry did and I’m only 33.

I spent so many afternoons sick and home from school or on spring break just watching the Cubs on WGN in the spring. There was something magical about it.

Why are these damn neato Cubs always on television during the day time, and who is this kinda goofy old guy who makes me giggle. That was my feeling on the Cubs when I was my 11 or 12 year old self. But I could never turn them out – I can still hear Harry talk about his wife Dutchie, or Dana Demuth, Jose Vizcaino, or Rey Sanchez. If you watched the Cubs during those days and you don’t remember the magical way Harry slurred those very names on those bitter cold spring days at Wrigley; you aren’t being honest!

I know the Cubs weren’t very good – but is there anything more enchanting than thinking about the Wrigley Ivy, Caray, Bill Murray and friggin’ Steve Stone? And a 70 year old man heading out after nine innings to tear up a town like it’s routine.

This documentary really did a great job of endearing you to ol’ Harry. And I realized as I watched; that the fact is that Harry Caray made me smile then and now. He was nothing if he was not totally infectious if you’re a baseball lover.

I love this well-hidden gem/Caray story from the Deadspin comments:

There was an old story about one of Harry’s neighbors running into him standing near a taxi outside their building at 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning. The neighbor jumped in the cab and mentioned to the driver it was nice to see Harry up and around that early, that it appeared he was taking better care of himself. The cabby looked at the guy and said “Hell, I’m just dropping him off, I’ve been driving him around to bars all night”

The Mayor of Rush Street. Helluva guy.

Throwing it Around

The first day of the worst month of the year is over with. We can all hunker down, and get through the struggle that is February together. Pitchers and catchers will be here to save us in a couple of weeks. So watch some hockey, study up on your fantasy baseball documents, or do what ever it is you prefer to pass the time. This is gonna be brutal.

-Dansby Swanson writes about going home again, to Atlanta. [The Players Tribune]
-Yasiel Puig is getting a clean slate from the Dodgers. [LA Times]
-Greg Bird; Yankees hero, won’t play in 2016. [Gardy Goes Yardy]
-The Chicago Cubs are getting national attention, and said to be taking the next step. [Boston Globe]
-David Schoenfield says the Angels are wasting Mike Trout’s prime. [ESPN SweetSpot]
-The DiamondBacks acquired Jean Segura in a trade. [Inside the ‘Zona]
-The Brewers have some upside, writes Jeff Sullivan. [Fangraphs]

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