Throwing it around

Super Bowl sunday awaits. We’re down to just 66 days until Opening Day. Hold on a little longer and we’ll be kicking off our season. Keep it locked on Diamond Hoggers for up to the minute information and interesting reads like these to follow:

-Scribblings on the new Marlins ballpark. [Baseball Prospectus]
-Is Deadspin hinting at a gay baseball player? [Deadspin]
-Time is up for Kevin Millar signing with the Orioles. [The Schmuck Stops Here]
-Mariners have a possible interest in Bobby Abreu? [USS Mariner]
-Fan swears off baseball because of the Yankees. [Babes Love Baseball]
-Looking forward to Spring Training. [The DiaTribe]

How can we create a Super Bowl-like buzz for the World Series?

This weekend you’ll gather with many of your friends to watch the Super Bowl on what is known as “Black Sunday”. Chances are you probably aren’t fans of either the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Arizona Cardinals. But its still the highlight of your weekend. It’s just American to gather and watch the game amongst friends. You’ll eat fattening foods, you’ll maybe consume some alcoholic beverages. It’s all deemed okay because its Super Bowl Sunday.

We love NFL football. Obviously Major League Baseball is our favorite sport. Our first love. While wanting the same thing for our favorite sport, we try to stimulate thoughts on how we could make it a reality.

Jayson Stark of ESPN has some ideas:

-Make it a cultural event, not just a sporting event
-Turn Game 1 into the biggest baseball day of the year
-Dance to the music
-Embrace technology

These are all good concepts, but is it realistic to think that our World Series could ever reach the heights of the Super Bowl? There are some things in our favor as baseball fans. Many of the teams in baseball have players from other countries, making it in an international spectacle. In the NFL, there are few players from outside the United States. People aren’t as prone outside the country to watch because there are no athletes on NFL teams from Dominican Republic or Japan.

At the same time, some things just aren’t in our favor. The big deal about the Super Bowl that creates a critical atmosphere on every play, every inch, and every moment is it is one chance at immortality. There is no game two, or three, or four to capitalize on a bad outing. That makes the Super Bowl must see television from the start. It’s 3 hours of do-or-die athletic performance. Much like a game seven is if a series goes that far in baseball. So how do we create that atmosphere and feeling for the fans if their team is not involved in the World Series?

Not everyone wants to watch the World Series like we do just to write about it and know how history went down. Baseball isn’t blessed with that many dedicated fans. Not to the degree that NFL football is.

People also don’t wanna watch just to see the commercials. Sponsors won’t dish out the big bucks because there aren’t as many viewers. Spots in between innings aren’t in as of high demand. You get the picture. We’re talking about how to raise the idea of that demand.

In going with the technology angle that Starks touches on, why not give every team a piece of the action? The payoff for Major League Baseball might be very good if every team was somehow represented at the World Series. How do you do this? Major League Baseball should go out and hire a blogger (yes a blogger, get with the times) to represent every team in Major League Baseball a month before the October classic begins. The blogger would be a well known writer from each fan base. That individual will then run a blog that will be going for the duration of the series. They would be live at the series. They would write about what is happening on the streets. It would be there job to write about all aspects small and large of the World Series, and they’d see it from the eyes of being a Cubs fan (since they’ll never get there on their own) or a Mariners fan. That way, you’re getting readers on the event from every part of your fan base. These bloggers would advertise a month or so in advance that they indeed would be covering the World Series a month in advance to gain some steam for the big event.

This is just one of many ways that baseball could help its cause. Any other ideas? Post them in the comments. And FWIW, we’d like to see the Steelers take Lombardi’s Trophy on sunday. Tradition all the way.

The Diamond Hoggers Combo

We’re sure many of our readers out there enjoy coffee. The big boy out there right now is Starbucks. Sure they jack their price up to the point where you bitch about it, but you usually drive the extra mile because it tastes better. Once you start drinking it you will never touch that pot of office coffee again. It’s true.

That said, judging by the search terms that lead many readers to Diamond Hoggers our readership also includes a fair amount of dippers. They often find there way here wondering about Marlboro Dip, or to get our thoughts on Kodiak. Many have a curiosity about Skoal Peach.

Whether you’re a dipper or a coffee drinker we’d like to recommend a combination to you. Now, hear us out here. There are a lot more smokers out there then there are dippers. But smoking, it’s bad for your lungs. It makes your breath smell bad. It gets on other people. If you smoke, you’re going to have a lot harder time bagging a chick then if you occasionally enjoy a dip. While dipping is not a safe alternative–it is a better alternative. We’re not here to argue. It just is. Many smokers enjoy a cigarette (or three) following a coffee to break up their day and the stresses it brings. We would like to recommend a different combo.

We’d like those individuals to go down to their local convenience shop and buy a can of Skoal, preferably Mint or Straight. If you are a dipper, go get yourself a cup of coffee. Drink the coffee, and then insert yourself a nice hogleg. After that, sit in your office cubicle and prepare for about 40 minutes of the best buzz you’ve ever had. It’s euphoric. No one will know you’re dipping! You will be staving off heart attacks almost instantly by throwing those cigarettes in the shitcan. At first you might feel a little wired, but that is good. Just push through it. You will grow and learn to like it.

If you don’t practice any of these habits, don’t start. But if you do any of them, try this combination. It is sure to be an uplifting exercise.

Ok, back to baseball.

We need to get to Camden Yards

You know no matter how far the Baltimore Orioles fall, they’ll always have Camden Yards. And my God does it look beautiful. I think in terms of history, the ballpark that we need want to see would go like this: 1) Fenway 2)Dodger Stadium 3)Camden Yards and 4)New Yankee Stadium and 5) PNC in Pittsburgh.

But you know what? Looking at that old B&O warehouse in the background; its quickly moving up our list (and it will be a lot easier to get to then a Dodgers or Red Sox game). Any readers that are in the Baltimore area that would show us around a bit would be much appreciated.

Also you’ve got to like the the song selection after the 7th inning stretch. Definite bonus points.

Albert Pujols has an appetite for Manny Ramirez

Albert Pujols hasn’t made many qualms about what he wants during his tenure in St. Louis. Pujols has recently spoke up, and he’d like to add Manny Ramirez as a teammate.

The Cardinals slugger, who won his second NL MVP award in November, acknowledged the team might not have enough money to land the free-agent outfielder.

“I speak with Manny every three days and he tells me, `Man, no one wants to sign me,’ Pujols said Thursday during a news conference. “I’m not an agent or general manager, but I can’t understand how Manny has not signed.”

Pujols passed along Ramirez’s telephone number to St. Louis manager Tony La Russa.

“Maybe St. Louis doesn’t have the money to sign him, but he could give them a discount because St. Louis is a great city that supports its players,” Pujols said.

And we can’t even imagine what would happen if Manny and Pujols were in the same lineup. There’s no way to pitch to that (don’t forget about Ryan Ludwick) combo. One of those guys would probably hit near .400, with the other probably in the .330 to .350 area. The Cardinals would immediately become odds on favorites to win the NL Central and maybe the entire National League. Pujols is a smart man.

We just have to hope that the baseball Gods don’t let it be so.

Ha Ha Heilman

So much for that fresh start that Aaron Heilman was so looking forward to in Seattle. The former Notre Dame superstar to be has traded in rain for cold as he’s now been shipped out (before ever delivering a pitch in the AL) to the Chicago Cubs for Ronny Cedeno and Garrett Olson.

For some reason, Seattle just didn’t want the guy. He’s 30 years old and just might never become the stud horse that he was always anticipated as being. We still feel the Cubs got the better end of the deal.

On a 1 to 10 scale, what do you give Jennifer Utley?

It’s a very slow day, so we’ll throw up a baseball wife and hopefully get a few intersting looks.

Here’s Jennifer Utley, who UmpBump found with her puppies.

Chase married the former Jennifer Cooper, a San Francisco native with family ties to the Philadelphia area, back in January of 2007, but the two actually met when they were both students at UCLA. In an ironic twist, given Utley’s later career in Philadelphia, they were actually introduced by former Eagles wide receiver and lightning rod Freddie Mitchell, who was friends with Chase and freshman-year dormmates with Jen.

At first glance, she looks pretty average. But if you click through to UmpBump you will see that she’s actually one who grows on you. She’s at least solid ‘8’ material and maybe a little more. You have to like her a little bit because she seems like she doesn’t mind being a plain Jane at times. Just throwing a ballcap on and some jeans. At the same time, I guess it’s pretty lame to rate the wives of ballplayers; since they would never be available in any walk of life no matter what. They’re married to an MLB player. Might as well have married a rock star.

As we said, it’s a slow day.

Clearly this was created by a Blue Jays fan

Well you’ve got to love this. Creator of this video is most assuredly from Canada and needs to be reminded that the Blue Jays are where 2nd or 3rd place baseball happens. While one may quickly forget that the Blue Jays went out last season and won 86 ballgames, they never achieved significance because of the Devil Rays, Yankees, and Red Sox. So while Cito Gaston might be a nice story that you never hear about because they’re buried far north; the Jays need to win the AL East before someone can declare that “amazing has happened.”

*Hat tip to Big League Stew

Even more excerpts from the Torre/Verducci book

This Joe Torre book co-authored by Tom Verducci is looking more and more like a book that I should check out next time I go loitering at Barnes & Noble. Excerpts continue to creep out as we have tracked down a few of the more interesting takes to sneak preview The Yankee Years for our readers.

Bronx Banter Blog:
-One of my favorite moments in the Verducci/Torre book is about Roger Clemens as he prepared to face the Mets in Game 2 of the 2000 World Serious. Verducci writes that Clemens’ usual pregame preparation included taking a whirlpool bath at the hottest temperature possible. “He’d come out looking like a lobster,” Yankee trainer Steve Donahue told Verducci. Donahue would then rub hot liniment all over Clemens’ body. “Then Donahue would rub the hottest possible liniment on his testicles,” Verducci writes.

“He’d start snorting like a bull,” the trainer said. “That’s when he was ready to pitch.”

NY Times Bats Blog:
-Though he accuses Kevin Brown of “pitching stupid” by taking the ball in Game 7 of the 2004 A.L.C.S. despite an ailing back, Torre expresses more pity than anger at the troubled right-hander. “There were a lot of demons in this guy,” Torre says, and he mentions that after Brown allowed six runs in the first inning of this 2005 game, he stormed into the visitors clubhouse at Tropicana Field, curled up on the floor in a corner of a storage area and told Torre, “I’m going to go home.” Torre told Brown that if he did that -– if he quit on his teammates — he would never be welcomed back.

Brown got up, fired his cellphone across the locker room, put his jersey back on and threw four more innings. The authors do not mention it, but Brown won his next four starts, the final four victories of his career.

-Torre has a telling comment about George Steinbrenner’s mental state when recalling a meeting in Tampa, Fla., in September 2007. Steinbrenner’s health had clearly deteriorated, and Torre drew a comparison to “The Godfather”:“It’s not quite the same (as) when Don Corleone was shot and was recovering and was sitting in the garden. At least he was talking to his son in a very lucid way, explaining what was going to happen. I don’t think George had those capabilities.”

-The Yankees should have talked to Tim Raines before signing Carl Pavano. Raines, the former Yankee who was coaching with the White Sox when Pavano signed, had played with Pavano in Montreal. During Pavano’s first Yankees season, Raines told Borzello: “He didn’t want to pitch except for the one year he was pitching for a contract. I’m telling you, he’s not going to pitch for you.”

-To demonstrate a key difference between Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, there is an anecdote about Rodriguez visiting Jeter’s house and flipping on the TV. Rodriguez asked Jeter where he could find the baseball package, and was stunned that Jeter did not subscribe.

Now the Yankees are mulling over their options as far as if their confidentiality clauses have been broken. I have to say, Torre revealing George Steinbrenner to be nothing more then a muttering, stuttering old vegtable right now was pretty shocking to me. I’d say that this pretty much concludes Torre’s exiting act; and would not expect him to ever be invited back to Old Timers day at New Yankee Stadium.

Rangers will have some new threads for 2009

The Texas Rangers are once again going back to their red jerseys they wore in the late 90’s. This should be a good move that is well recepted by the fan base out in Arlington. They resemble the uniforms that the Rangers wore during their most successful run as a franchise, when they notched their only postseason win in team history.

We wouldn’t be surprised if these eventually replace the Rangers blue regular uniforms as the full time garb. Josh Hamilton always did look better in Red, you know.

Excerpt creeps out from the Torre book about his last day as a Yankee. On Oct. 18, 2007, 10 days after the Yankees lost the Division Series to the Cleveland Indians, 10 days of public waiting for George Steinbrenner to follow through on his Game 3 warning that Torre would not be back in the wake of defeat, the question Torre proposed was now the domain of the seven other people in the room. Steinbrenner sat slumped in his chair with dark glasses covering most of his face. Occasionally he would take them off, put them back on, take them off, put them back on … He contributed virtually nothing to the meeting except for occasionally repeating the last sentence of what someone in the room had just said. [Sports Illustrated]