Competitive Baseball Begins Tomorrow

Tomorrow there will finally be some baseball to talk about, even if it is a slate of exhibition games. Major League Baseball begins its spring training schedule tomorrow. So here we are again.

Doesn’t it just seem like yesterday that the Philadelphia Phillies rode off into the sunset with the 2008 World Series title?

I mean, the offseason is long and drags; but we got through it. We haven’t quite finished the marathon yet but the finish line is within reach. If you visualize hard enough you can almost smell the stadium draft beer and hot dogs.

Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects in 2009

So in case you haven’t seen it, the Top 100 Prospects for 2009 have been released and are being now sponsored by Majestic.

Topping the list is Matt Wieters with David Price a close second. I think in the coming years one of the guys you’re going to see jumping up the list is Rays shortstop Tim Beckham. He’s projected to get to the show in 2012 but I think in the coming years he’ll be in the top 5 on this list and he’ll be pushing to get in the majors by next season at some point. I like that kid a lot from what I’ve read about him. Reminds me of the Uptons.

The lone Reds prospect in the top 100 is good old Todd Frazier; who is listed as a shortstop (what he played in college) a third baseman and a first baseman. I am pulling for him because we’re going to need his right handed bat sooner rather then later; and because he’s from my girlfriends hometown. He was the hype as she was growing up she says and I remember him on that Little League World Series title winner from Tom’s River, NJ years go. I do think there is a shot that once he gets into the big leagues we find out he’s Brandon Larson II.

So have a look. The great thing about prospects is that everyone has someone to be excited about no matter who you root for. If you’re a Yankees fan they’ll be dealt for an all-star of the present but still.

Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects 2009 [Baseball America]

If you can stand it, this is the Reds 2009 anthem

The song is called ‘Paint the Town Red’ and is by The Hotcakes. It’s not really a baseball song and I doubt that this group who lucked into landing a contract and all the exposure for the song even know what a baseball looks like.

But this is the song you’re going to hear blaring over the loud speakers at GABP this spring and summer. Back when things were still new and glossy at the ballpark we had songs written by Blessed Union of Souls. How the mighty have fallen.

Diamond Hoggers 2009 Team Previews

Beginning on March the 1st, we’ll preview EVERY team in Major League baseball. We’re going to do this thing division by division, and we’re going to tell you why your team will be fun to watch in 2009. There’s a silver lining everywhere you look, afterall spring gives everyone some type of new hope right?

If you are interested in helping us out with a team preview and you understand basic grammar and puncuation, shoot us an email at [email protected] and let us know what team you’d like to write on. There’s several teams that not even we can look forward to doing.

The Fantasy Baseball Consensus #1

I was asked yesterday who I’m taking number one in the upcoming 2009 fantasy baseball draft. I am in two leagues, one of which the draft is coming up a week from tomorrow. It began to get me thinking, just in case I land the number one overall pick; if I gave you my life would you promise to not drop it?

The last few years it has been pretty cut and dry. If you land the top pick in your live fantasy draft you’re going Pujols or you’re going A-Rod. Some guys want to go number one overall with a starting pitcher or the best offensive catcher in the game; and those guys are so far off base we don’t even wanna waste page space getting into it. And even this year my mind drifted to Cardinal red or Rodriguez out of habit when the question was posed to me; but then I quickly decided against it.

It’s got to be Hanley Ramirez. And that isn’t just because a few mainstream sites around town are saying so. Let me tell you why he’s a legit fucking fantasy stud.

When Pujols and Rodriguez were legitimate top guns in fantasy baseball, it wasn’t because they were just superstars. It was because they’re guys that kill several birds with one stone in themselves. I looked at the rosters of the guys who have won my respective leagues now for the past several years. I looked at their top few picks. They’re striving to get guys that help them in almost every area. Last year I knew I was going for Prince Fielder with my first pick because I like owning a team that will out homer you until the last day of the season. And my way of thinking is all fucked up. I took guys that basically are a threat to hit 40 or 50 homers but they hit .260 or .270 and don’t steal any bases and should they struggle to hit the long ball or draw walks (like Fielder did last season) then you’re going to get killed in the runs category as well.

Hanley Ramirez is an absolute dominator for a few reasons. One thing you don’t want to overlook is at his age. He’s 25 years old come opening day. People want to believe that 29 or 30 (Pujols‘ age) is the ‘prime years’ of a players career. They’re wrong. 25 years of age is the new 29, and the fact is that few players truly put up their best numbers year in and year out once they hit 30 or the year before or after that hallmark number. Players are hitting their prime at much younger ages nowadays and it is entirely conceivable that a guy no longer does what he used to do once he is around 30. He might, but there’s a chance he will not. Ramirez is in his prime and the next 3 maybe 4 years he is going to give you something you’ll never get again out of him. He doesn’t have an abundance of mileage on the body and he’s still able to help you in every facet of the game.

Last year the son of a gun stole 35 bases, hit 33 homers and hit .301 while driving in 67. He scored an amazing 125 runs which will maybe be good enough to help you win that category outright. This year a lot of people think he’s going to hit around the same amount of homers, steal around the same amount of bases, hit for a little better average and maybe score a few less runs. I happen to think his power numbers could jump way up the board and he could steal more bases. We could be talking about a legitimate 40/40 year for Ramirez with near 100 RBI if Florida stops hitting him in the leadoff spot. I think his average will rise and you’ll see a monster that we haven’t seen in many years in fantasy baseball.

If you’re going to be a fantasy baseball geek, then do it right. If Ramirez is there do what it takes to add him to your team and watch A-Rod suffer through his soap opera life and Pujols’ heel or knee take a shit while you have your young cadillac out running on all cylinders for 162 games. If you end up selecting out of the top 5 enjoy your uphill battle and the envy that comes with watching Hanley do damage all season long, a feeling I know all too well.

Ken Griffey Jr. returning to the scene of his original crime

You know what, finally a story around we can feel good about. We could care less that we were wrong when we relayed that Griffey had signed on with the Atlanta Braves. Ken Griffey is going back to Seattle, and it’s a win-win situation for all parties.

Keith Law may feel it’s shortsighted by the Mariners, but what else is going to make that team relevant in 2009 with the exception of Felix Hernandez? Griffey will serve his purpose to bring excitement back to that city and put butts in the seats. Since they’re an AL team and Griffey hasn’t been in the AL since the turn of the decade it’s actually worth debating on whether or not the guy can put up some impressive and surprising numbers. That park was built tailored for Junior. It’s not out of the realm of thought to consider Griffey a threat to hit 35 homers and play in 140-150 ballgames. Remember he can finally DH when he needs to give his legs a rest.

And even if the Mariners aren’t the Mariners at all that they were when Griffey was there, the fans remember and I remember what Junior looked like when he was the face of baseball wearing that white Mariners uniform with aqua blue and midnight blue cap. He’s going to be wearing that again. I’ll be tuning in every night just to see what Griffey does in what is surely his farewell tour if not his final season.

Rumor has it Griffey spurned his family and it’s a fact that he’s sacrificing time he would have had to be with them to go back and play where his heart has emotionally never left. Junior has made a lot of immature decisions in his career but this one appears to be a decision that is going to define him as a player who had a sensitive side.

It’s just another reason to really look forward to 2009. Thumbs up to Griffey and the Mariners for making it happen.

Why don’t you just shut your big yapper!

Pete Rose was asked about his thoughts on the 2009 Cincinnati Reds. Unfortunately Pete was feeling honest on this day.

They aren’t as good this year as they were last year (74-88, fifth place). They didn’t do anything this winter to really help themselves. They acquired a catcher (Ramon Hernandez) who hit .257. Stevie Wonder could hit .230.

Annnnd he kept going:

I went to an NBA game in Indianapolis (last week). I wouldn’t have gone if LeBron James wasn’t playing. Who do the fans in Dayton have to drive to see on the Reds? You don’t want fans in Dayton driving to see the opposition. Who would you pay to see on the Reds?

They have to create some identity for the fans with players. They had it with Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn, but now who do they have?

Johnny Cueto, Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, but you’re right. I’d much rather watch that antelope Adam Dunn or broken down assed Ken Griffey Jr.

And one parting shot from the great one:

We (the Big Red Machine) ruined it for them by being so good. You aren’t going to get attendance if you don’t win. It’s a shame, but that’s the way it is. If they don’t get off to a good start, with the economy, they’re in trouble. I mean, what reason did they give fans last year to come back this year?

He speaks the truth to a degree. But we really don’t need him slamming us anymore then guys on the other sides are already going to.

Shea Stadium is gone forever

The final remnants of Shea Stadium have been torn down on this dreary, dark day in Queens. Just a few months months back they were auctioning off those legendary orange seats. Sure, Shea was a dump that was trumped by bigger, more luxurious yards around America. But those who appreciate the history of this game know its significance and respect what it stood for. Some of the most loaded (and underachieving) teams to ever play this game built their legends there. Some of the most horrific as well. Some of the game’s most historic moments took place on those hallowed grounds. No doubt the ‘ghosts’ of yesteryear you hear about were present at Shea and it will take a while to rebuild that at Citi Field. You can build a luxury box and a park full of ammenities but you can’t build a history overnight or over an offseason. The legend of Shea Stadium will live on forever in the hearts of those that have been there and in the stories of those who will tell them to their grandsons.

We’re just glad we experienced it before they took away Shea forever.

For every ticket stub there is a memory

For some reason I attempt to save the ticket stub to every game I attend. I’m not really sure why. I guess it authenticates that yes, I was there on that night. And someone would probably ask; in case something special happens? And I’d probably feel inside that well, something special happens in every big league ballgame. It’s what you see and interpret. It’s the small moment or connection you make that makes it special. It doesn’t have to be a no-hitter or walk off job. It can be a song played after the 8th inning while the pitcher is warming up.

So here’s a few ticket stubs I’ve saved. And when people ask me why I’ve got so many I say someday I’m going to make some kind of collage with them, even though I know myself and I’m much too lazy for that.

So this game, I remember Austin Kearns crashed into the wall out in right field at the Jake and was really never the same in a Reds uniform. I know everyone points to the Ray King moment with Kearns but believe me, this was an ugly collision. We were sitting VERY high up at Jacobs Field, seemed like one of the highest seats I’ve ever sat in in a baseball stadium although it wasn’t. It looked steep. Dunn had a great at-bat with a pinch hit double off Danys Baez in the top of the 9th with two outs and the Reds scratched across the tying and winning runs right there.


For being a game I sat in the Diamond Seats, some of the finest seats in baseball, I remember very little about this game. Reds sent the fans home happy and it looks like Sean Casey had a couple of knocks and 3 RBI. I do remember Brandon Claussen being lousy on the day despite not giving up any runs. I remember seeing Kearns double down the line in left to get the Reds on the board.

This was a fun game. It was the second game of Brucemania and Cincinnati was going wild. It’s where the phrase “Bruce Traffic” was coined. My girlfriend and best friend Tyler couldn’t go to Bruce’s debut with me so they agreed to go the night after. We drank some beers in the parking garage before the game and entered the game with a really good buzz. Jay Bruce got on base a few times and doubled. Bunny Arroya had his stuff going stong that night against the Buccos.

This was the first time I took my girlfriend to Jacobs Field in Cleveland for a game. We went up with my friend Justin and his wife. The Indians started that season red hot. Their whole lineup was over .300 the first few weeks of the season. I remember them hitting Scott Baker hard (we talked to him for a while before the game) and I remember Grady getting a few knocks. And Hafner was still crushing back then, as he ripped a homer. It was a very cold spring day and my girlfriend bought some Indians stuff at the team shop just to stay warm, including an extra pair of sox.

This game I remember very well. One of the more entertaining ballgames I’ve ever seen, and it just so happens I was in the Diamond Seats for it. This was my first Diamond Seat game and I was there for my highschool girlfriend’s birthday. I got Austin Kearns to sign her a baseball; and it ended up going home with me. Adam Dunn hit one out of Great American that night it cleared the bullpen out in right field. The bat boy gave me a dip of his Copenhagen for just shooting the shit with him. Jason LaRue hit a 3 run bomb to win the game in the bottom of the 9th and the stadium exploded. You could almost have known it was going to happen as the Reds simply wouldn’t die.

The last two opening days which I’ve talked a lot about. 2007 & 2008.

This was a special night. This was the first ballgame ever played at Great American Ball Park. So all those posters in offices around the Cincinnati tri-state area of “first pitch” yeah I’m speck in those. I remember late in the game Griffey got bent out of shape because he got brushed back up top near his head. I also remember entering the game we were left tickets by my uncle at will call that were for the next night. I had a bunch of college buddies with me and I was panicking. There was an old couple nice enough that heard us freaking out about it at the gates
and let us have three of their tickets.

This was a humid night, and although it only says it registered at 79 degrees it was so muggy and dry that I remember my entire family wanted to leave early, only staying because I told them I couldn’t leave early and I wouldn’t allow it. I remember a young Andruw Jones having a nice game. This was my first extra innings ballgame but it was short lived as the Reds lost the game immediately in the 10th inning.