Closing out 2008

I wanna take this opportunity to wish everyone who ventures here regularly or anyone that has ever been here a safe and Happy New Years Eve and a wonderful 2009. The new year brings all kinds of hope in all walks of life. Whether it be your job, your baseball team, or anything else; look towards the new year in hopes to get what you want out of life.

We had some good things to look back on in the year 2008. Make sure you check the archives to find these great posts. We’ll check back in to hit the ground running after the new year begins.

Thanks for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers.

This defines a match made in Heaven

The Mick. We couldn’t go on any longer without having something on this site about the Mick. And of course it is going to involve some type of booze.

The Mick is playing pinball, with salmon colored shirt, vest, and beer gut in full view. Great acting by the “New Yorka” who applauds Mick’s switch to Natural Light. Donny from Newark would be so proud.

“Except we don’t fuckin’ drink Natchural Lite. We only drink da fuckin’ Yueng Leng here in Jersey. Natchural Lite is fuh pussies and poor fulks. NOW CHUG! AM I RIGHT?”

Ahhhhh, Natural Light. To think I spent four years of my life in college (and another few afterwards) convincing myself that this was good beer worthy of well, anything. Time, money, hangovers, poor decisions. Those things are all fine. But make sure that a quality liquor is the cause, not Natural Light. One thing I will say about Natural Light is that it doesn’t give you the shits like Milwaukee’s Best and it’s smoother than Pabst Blue Ribbon. It’s like water and if you can stand to drink about 10 or 12 of these little buggers, you will be feeling alright. But don’t do that. Be an adult, and invest the money in a nice 6-pack of something that tastes a little better and isn’t scraped out of the bottom of the brewing barrel. Or you’ll end up like the Mick.

"I think I want my money back"

You have to love the Red Sox (not really) and their futile attempt to acquire the finest shortstop in the game, you know after letting him slip away from their own grasp several years ago.

The Marlins were said to be most interested in a center fielder, and discussions apparently centered on Boston’s promising youngster Jacoby Ellsbury, talented pitching prospect Clay Buchholz and others in a package for Ramirez, who began in Boston’s organization.

Sorry Massholes, but it doesn’t work that way. There’s no mulligans in baseball and no matter how many poor men’s Grady Sizemore’s and Bucholz’s you offer up, you can’t have him back. If the Marlins did something like this after having Ramirez sign his new deal at the site of the future home plate of the team’s new stadium, I might vomit and vomit some more.

Personally, I don’t think Taylor Bucholz is all that special. I really don’t. What part of 18-21 with a 4.42 ERA in his career gets teams hot and bothered about this guy? Elsbury is a nice player but he’s not far from being 30 years old. In addition to that, Hanley Ramirez is a guy you do not trade. Like, as in future Hall of Famer do not trade. Isn’t anything sacred in this game anymore? These aren’t baseball cards we’re talking about! These are high octane racehorse assets. You don’t just go dealing guys like you’re playing Madden football on playstation. The Red Sox need to be slapped on the hands just for thinking it could happen.

It’s a classic case of the Yankees making a splash and the Red Sox scrambling–trying to win a ‘who’s Johnson is bigger contest’. Well I have news for you Red Sox nation: while you are watching the NFL playoffs this season with your 11-5 Patriots sitting at home, you can’t have Hanley. He belongs to the Marlins now. You had him, and because of your own organizations philosophy of living fo the moment trading future Hall of Famers for guys of the present you lost him forever. Sucks.

Adam Dunn in Dodger Blue?

We read on ESPN’s front page tonight that the Dodgers have rang Adam Dunn with an interest to acquire his services. Not cool. Not cool at all.

And Dunn is probably excited about it. Thinking about all that green that Chavez Rivine could bring him. But it’s so not Dunn. Dunn is an avid fisherman. Wonder how the waters are out in SoCal? You can sit and watch the fish disintegrate in front of your very eyes.

Then we think back to an article we read about Dunn in Sports Illustrated back in 2002. It really made us like Dunn more then we even did when he was a rookie. He was a good ol’ boy in every sense of the word. Somewhere, in all the millions and all the bright lights; that got lost. An excerpt from that article:

One day this past winter Cincinnati Reds outfielder Adam Dunn, 22 years old and proud to be a lifelong Porter Rican—as some townsfolk jokingly call themselves—stopped at La Casita for his favorite meal: chicken fajita nachos and an iced tea. The next day he again stopped at La Casita for chicken fajita nachos and an iced tea. And the next day. And the next…. For 15 straight days Dunn made the quarter-mile drive from his parents’ house to La Casita, sat down and ordered chicken fajita nachos and an iced tea. He wasn’t being superstitious. He just likes the food.

The basics of life make Dunn, the Reds’ slugging leftfielder and emerging star, a happy man. Prada and Porsche and pommes souffles? As Dunn likes to say, in his best Johnny Cash drawl, “Heeeeelllll no.” Though he got an $800,000 signing bonus from the Reds after they selected him in the second round of the 1998 amateur draft, will make a healthy $260,000 this season and, if last year’s production—19 homers and 43 RBIs in only 66 games—is an indicator, should collect superstar dollars for years to come, Dunn describes himself as “a small-town redneck hick.” He even whips out a canister of snuff from his back pocket to prove it.

Dunn owns four suits, all of which he has purchased within the past year, but has worn only two. During the off-season his daily schedule went something like this: hunt, fish, hunt again, maybe fish a little more, eat chicken fajita nachos at La Casita, fish again, three hours of PlayStation, hunt, go four-wheeling, eat dinner at home, hunt and then sleep (all the while dreaming of hunting and fishing). While most of his Porter peers can’t wait to be able to afford to leave home, Dunn is content to continue occupying a small bedroom in the house of his parents, Skip, a welding-equipment salesman, and Pat, a stay-at-home mother. Seeing the 6’6″, 260-pound mass of muscle lumber through the modest ranch-style home is like watching a water buffalo squeeze through a pipe. “He could move,” says Dunn’s friend Brian Peters, “but he’d rather have his parents pay the bills and do his laundry.”

The mexican food might not be bad in LA. But you’re going to have a tough time getting your pickup truck and cowboy boots to qualify as a passing act out there. It’s no joke. Even the sheriff isn’t afraid to bury someone in the desert. Dunn will stand out like a swollen, sore thumb in those uniforms; while the Cincinnati threads were quite slimming.

We admit, we’d be bitter no matter where Dunn moved on to. Like thinking back to that old high school sweetheart who you’ve recently heard got married. You’d always like to believe that you were the one that meant the most to them; even if that isn’t the case at all.

"This One Belongs to the Reds"

I grew up trying to stay awake long enough to hear Marty Brennaman call out that famous phrase as a kid. If I was really wide awake, I’d make it until the “star of the game” show with Joe Nuxhall was complete. Man was the game great back then. A lot of moments that this song talks about really made me grow up loving the game. It also points towards the hope of tomorrow; which might not be that realistic as I think the Reds are a long ways off from catching the Cardinals in the NL Central. But who knows. Great song nonetheless.

Holiday Haul

I didn’t get this above pictured Jay Bruce game-used bat for Christmas. I still did pretty well. I got the movies Hu$tle and Pride of the Yankees (reviews to come on those soon). I got a baseball calendar of America’s finest ball parks (both Major and Minor leagues). I also got a DVD/VCR recorder that I will be able to record the games on this upcoming season.

The main item of the haul was a Sony Bravia 26″ flat screen HD television. Ya know, to watch the Reds and all other baseball on this upcoming summer. All aspiring baseball journalists should have one.

Part of any Holiday Tradition

Every year a Christmas Story airs for 24 hours starting on Christmas Eve. In our household, it’s just on. You don’t have to sit and watch the whole thing, but at least part of it. Sure it’s been seen hundreds of times. It’s still a classic and no Christmas is Christmas without acknowledging it’s significance. This is one of the best parts of the movie, albeit mundane.

Yankees sign Teixeira and continue their holiday shopping spree

Ok dude. You’ll probably see the end of this 8-year, $180 million dollar deal. And there’s a no-trade clause. How long till the Yankees are paying a Teixeira tax so that Tex will veto his no-trade clause so they can go get the next hot commodity in a few years.

As a Yankees fan I don’t understand how its even fun anymore. You go out, spend $424 million dollars in the offseason and bring in the finest free agents money can buy to add to your already star studded collection of players who couldn’t get it done last season.

How are teams like the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates supposed to compete? I’m not crying to go to Bud Selig to do something (I’d never reccomend that) but at what point is this going to stop?

Every time I think that I’m not gonna hate the Yankees, I end up hating the Yankees and rooting against them and wanting them to lose. This upcoming season, we will have a bounty on the Yankees and track every low moment. They deserve it.

Happy Holidays from Diamond Hoggers

We’re taking the next few days completely off from the site, and for good reason. Throw another log on the fire and drink some egg nog for us. Have a safe and happy holiday season, both you and your family. Enjoy the bowl games, cause when they’re over guys like Mark Tex will still be haggling over their next million.

Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers.

Merry Christmas.

The 'Tex' negotiations would cause anyone to have apathy

Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post says it best:

Washington fans should enjoy the Hot Stove League. This is the first time in the city’s history that the Nats or Senators have been part of it. When the old Sdenators were in town, there was no free agency yet. (Curt Flood played for them in ’71.)

But don’t have a heart attack every time there is “news.” Because it usually isn’t really “news” at all. It’s the rumor and negotiation game. That’s how, for example, ESPN can report last night that Boston is “close to signing Teixeira,” then have Henry state flatly that the Red Sox are “not a factor” just a couple of hours later.

You know what? Who gives a shit about Mark Teixeira? Guy is a nice big league player but he’ll be 29. I’m sick and tired of everyone fawning over this guy and every other free agent like they’re pursuing a future Hall of Famer simply because they are the best of what is available. Tex symbolizes everything that is wrong with free agency today–and pardon this for sounding like a vent post.

They’re talking $160 million dollar contracts for Tex and every night on ESPN we have to hear that he’s priced himself out of the Red Sox market. Wake me up when I begin to care.

Like I said: he’s a nice big league ballplayer. If he has 8 to 10 more seasons of the big time production he has, we might be talking about Tex in Cooperstown. It’s a long ways off. You’re not signing up for birth rights to a title by getting this guy. This is one time when I’m glad that my team is a small (notice how little the term “small market team” is thrown around nowadays? It’s frowned upon) or even mid-market team. Keep me as far away from the guy as possible.

I don’t see this kind of drooling over Adam Dunn by the media. You know what? It’s more interesting to me that a player like Dunn isn’t drawing any interest then the fact that a guy like Teixeira has the Red Sox flip-flopping every other day. I’m very exhausted when it comes to hearing about the Red Sox pulling out of the Teixeira race. Stop telling me that. It seems like for a week straight we’ve been hearing it. Why is that news? Because the Massholes aren’t going to go out and match the Yankees in overpaying free agents for once?

Instead, we have a team (the Washington Nationals) trying to pretend that they are in the business of pursuing Teixeira. It doesn’t take a fortune teller to see how that is going to end up. Nationals sign Tex to a mega-deal of 8 years and $160 million (that’s Manny money when Manny was in his prime). They field a team of Larry, Curly, and Mo along with Tex in the heart of the order and they’re still a stink team. A year and a half into the deal, they’re looking to trade Tex who is approaching 31 years of age and they can’t find a taker for the albatross deal that resembles Jason Giambi’s. No one will want the guy. Tex retires as his numbers decline, never seeing the end of the poorly written contract.

Now if this guy was 25 and had put up these type of numbers it’s a little bit of a different story. You don’t give a guy this type of deal if you’re the Washington Nationals and you don’t give him this type of deal if you are more then one player away. The deal actually makes more sense to come from the Baltimore Orioles. Why you ask? Teixiera is a Baltimore boy. That team is laughable. They have pretty much no one who will fill the seats. But people will come out for a longer period of time to see Tex play for his hometown team then they will in Washington, where they’ve always failed to draw interest. Also–expect a decline to those big offensive numbers in Washington’s ballpark. Let me repeat: Washington National fans, if you’re excited you need to stop now. This is a disaster in the making.

Just sign somewhere Tex so the media can shut the hell up about you.

If you were in Pittsburgh in the early 70's, there was always a Doctor on call

Former Major League All-Star pitcher Dock Ellis has passed away. Ellis was 63 and died of a liver ailment. We first heard of Ellis when we were young and reading an autobiography about Roberto Clemente.

Those 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates that won the World Series were led by the finest season that Dock Ellis ever had (19-9, 3.06 ERA).

Ellis was better known for a few other incidents, namely throwing a no-no in a mind altered state; you know on LSD/acid. And we mention this because do you have any idea how hard it would be to throw a no-hitter or even go out on the mound and throw to big league hitters on acid? Or on any drug? Or in anything but a 100% pure physical state? That’s herculean in itself.

No-hitting the San Diego Padres on June 12, 1970 despite being, as he would claim in 1984, under the influence of LSD throughout the course of the game Ellis had been visiting friends in Los Angeles under the impression he had the day off and was still high when his girlfriend told him he had to pitch a game against the Padres that night. Ellis boarded a shuttle flight to the ballpark and threw a no-hitter despite not being able to feel the ball or clearly see the batter or catcher. Ellis claims catcher Jerry May wore reflective tape on his fingers which helped Ellis to see his target. Ellis walked eight, struck out six, and was aided by excellent fielding plays by second baseman Bill Mazeroski and centerfielder Matty Alou. During the game, Ellis is reported to have commented to his teammates on the bench between innings that he was pitching a no-hitter, despite the superstition that discourages mentioning a no-hitter while it is in progress. Because the no-hitter was the first game of a double header, Ellis was forced to keep track of the pitch count for the night game.
Ellis also had the guts to pitch inside. This was evidenced by the time that he decided he would hit every batter in the Cincinnati Reds (during their Big Red Machine days) lineup.
Attempting to hit every batter in the Cincinnati Reds lineup on May 1, 1974. In an effort to prove a point to teammates, Ellis hit Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Dan Driessen in the top of the first. The clean-up batter Tony Perez avoided Ellis’ attempts, instead drawing a walk, and after two pitches aimed at the head of Johnny Bench, Ellis was removed from the game by manager Danny Murtaugh. Ellis’ box score for the game reads: 0 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K.
Ellis ended up being a drug and alcohol counselor before his death. By all accounts, he was a guy who was a lot of fun to watch pitch who we would have loved to have seen throw. Rest easy, Dock. Say hey to Bobby Clemente up there and see if the Mick can catch up to your heater. If he can, the drinks are on you.

Sawks fans and Yanks fans acting typical

Now this would be a pretty cool thing to do. If you had a death wish that is. To think that my buddy George didn’t want me sporting a Jay Bruce jersey when I traveled there this past summer to see the Reds play.

If this guy can survive serving chowda to Yankees fans outside Yankee Stadium during a Sox-Yanks series, I think I would be safe.

And he has a point. I’ve never met anyone who raves about Manhattan Clam Chowder. New England Clam Chowder is one of the best things ever created however.

The Red Sox are getting new threads

You know, if it was up to me I wouldn’t have any uniform changes in any sport, ever. I think its awful. One thing I love about the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers (maybe the only thing) is that they signify class and continuity by using the same, classic uniforms. While it’s only going to be the road alternate, it’s still a change. It’s not that hard to just have the same two uniforms home and away, and an alternate top with the same insignias and font and a tweak to the color. UNIFORM CHANGES ARE AWFUL FOR THE GAME! Let tradition ring.

Then again, it worked out for the Rays pretty well.

*Hat tip to Sox & Dawgs and there’s also some more views here.