Your Saturday Baseball Open Thread

Above is When it Was a Game I part one. If you want to continue watching click here. That’s what a sunny Saturday in the summer time means to me, watching this at my grandparents house and then whatever national game they decided to air.

Usually this awesome documentary–which was originally aired on HBO–would replay on PBS or some cable television station. They would do a marathon of it and run it all morning and afternoon. I loved watching these and I couldn’t believe that this was the same game that I was obsessed with, just a version of it many years before.

It’s still the same great game, albeit frustrating at times. It was the worst loss of the year for the Reds last night in my opinion. Jay Bruce hit his 20th home run of the year. The Angels won in Mike Trout’s debut. Adam Dunn hit a bomb, but he’s still riding highway I-60.

We hope you have a great Saturday. And take our advice, watch When It Was a Game sometime. All of them. You won’t regret it.

How to Hit for the Cycle: What was Zoby Thinking Last Night In the 9th?

Our buddy Franco from over at Next Level Ballplayer is friends with Ben Zobrist. Last night when Zoby was going for the cycle and needing ‘only a double’ in the 9th inning, Franco fired him a text. Here is a story about Zoby’s (pictured above) quest for the elusive cycle.

Clearly, hitting for the cycle is one of the coolest things that a batter can do in the game of baseball. From the fans perspective it’s fun to watch and cheer for, because of the rarity of it. Nothing can spice up a 12-1 game in the 8th like a home player one hit away from the cycle. The last big league cycle I can think of was when Cargo did it last year in dramatic fashion- A walk off bomb to complete his cycle against the Cubs.

Last night Mr. Zorilla, entered the 9th inning against the Yanks 3 for 3 with a triple, HR, single, and walk. After an eight pitch at bat that included 3 foul balls, Zoby settled for a walk and leaving the ballpark a double short of the cycle. I’ve always wondered what those players are thinking when they come up late in the game with their cycle on the line… Curiosity got the best of me so I texted Zoby late last night. The following convo ensued:

Franco: A duck fart down the line is all you needed! True or False- You were trying to hit a double in the 9th inning tonight?

Zoby: False. Trying not to. It doesn’t work when you try to!

Franco: So you’re telling me your cycle philosophy is- “Make the cycle come to you” ?

Zoby: Exactly

Franco: Fantastic. I’m gonna right an article for NextLevelBallplayer.com tomorrow teaching aspiring ballplayers how to hit for the cycle (This was a joke!)

Zoby: Haha, go for it.

So there you have it. The key to hitting for the cycle is NOT to try to hit for the cycle. I hope you ballplayers at home are paying attention!

Pronk Hafner Lives

I just want to point out one thing to all you Indians fans who are all over Travis Hafner this morning and to all my friends who are having to remind themselves through this love-affair this morning and on into this afternoon to stop day dreaming about Pronk and his walk-off grand slam in last night’s 5-4 win in order to complete their workday:

You ALL thought this guy was done and wouldn’t have given in a mop job before this season. Every last one of you crybaby Huey Cleveland fans. I was there on Opening Day and I heard the guys in right field, one after the other calling for the torture rack for Hafner.

Cleveland Fans I can definitely have some sympathy for, but there is no bigger group of self-loathing, pity-loving crybaby shitheads than you all. I hope the Indians take down the division, but it doesn’t mean any of you babies deserve it. You hated this fucking guy just weeks ago. Now it’s a party.

I’ve got witnesses by the plenty who I told after seeing Hafner turn on some balls on Opening Day that this guy was back. And the all-knowing Cleveland fan base (including my all-knowing Uncle Frank) told me I was nuts.

Look at the slash line (.347/.428/.567), and suck it. Go back to crybabying about Lebron leaving town because you’re much better at it than knowing baseball, Cleveland Fan. Go back and debate Tim Couch v. Kelly Holcomb or Brady Quinn v. Derek Anderson some more because you guys now dick about the sport of baseball and plenty about drawing empty conclusions.

In honor of Pronk Hafner being officially healthy and back, here’s something a friend and I penned back so many years ago. We like to call it ‘A Day in the Life of Pronk’:

-Wake up and punch a hole in his bedroom wall
-Eats Joel Skinner’s children for breakfast
-Watches the Weather Channel
-Drives his Harley down the sidewalks of Cleveland to the stadium
-Punches Mark Shapiro in the dick for looking like a homo
-Takes exactly four pitches for batting practice, all four he hits into the mezzanine
-Drinks sixteen beers pregame
-Dominates the opposition and scares babies
-Postgame has his pitbull chase Casey Blake around the locker room
-Orders dinner via roomservice, but becomes disgruntled that “Infant brains” aren’t on the menu
-Drives his Harley through a pack of girl scouts and into a brick wall, then gets up and walks into a bar
-Throws game at only black women, naturally he bags a few in the mens bathroom
-Goes home and sleeps face down on a bed of Playboys from the 1970′s

There. Now he’s back. Even I was afraid I would never be able to reference this artistic beauty again.

Jeter’s Journey to 3,000 Hits Should Come to an End this Weekend

My good friend Alessandra was in the Bronx last night to see Derek Jeter get hit # 2,998 but as I told her; I think that 3,000 actually comes to us on Saturday. It’s just a gut feeling.

Jeter is 1 for 2 lifetime against Jeremy Hellickson, who is tonight’s starter. But that doesn’t really matter. The hit will eventually come and Derek Jeter will join the illustrious 3,000 hit club. He’ll be the only active player on the list and he’ll have the best opportunity we’ve seen in a while to climb it for a while before he is stuck in his final resting spot forever.

If we take a step back at what Derek Jeter’s legacy will be beyond the obvious; he’s obviously a generational talent of the sport. There are few of them, especially on the level that Jeter will be when all is said and done.

There is always one great Yankee bridging the gap from one father to his son and on down forever. The chosen one in the Bronx for this generation has been Derek Jeter. He comes from Joe Dimaggio, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, and Don Mattingly before him. There is no sign of who the next great generational Yankee will be. But Derek Jeter was ours.

He burst on the scene in 1996 by hitting .314 and collecting 183 knocks. For crying out loud, I wasn’t even in high school yet. To think that if I was a Jeter fan, and I’m not a guy who has followed his career since day one; but if I was I could have enjoyed this guy from the time I was literally still a kid until the time I was married with my own. Anyone who can even be debatable as being effective to great for that long of a duration in professional sports; let alone in New York, is something other-worldy.

So this weekend when Derek Jeter gets his 3,000th hit in a Yankee uniform with the hot sun blazing in the Bronx, I think all will be as it should be. And he’s still playing shortstop. And he’s been the greatest Yankee of our era and maybe the most successful in terms of winning that has ever existed.

For that, this event deserves everyone who follows the sport’s attention. And recognize that we’ve just seem something once in a lifetime pass us by.

Mike Trout is a Major Leaguer

Mike Trout has been promoted to the Angels big league roster, in a move that both excites and surprises many in terms of the timing. It was widely expected that Trout would be promoted at some point this season, but many close to the situation thought it would be later in the year.

We actually thought it would be a move made right around now if not sooner. Trout was tearing up the minor leagues at every level. His most recent stop at AA yielded a .324 average with 28 stolen bases, to go along with an on base percentage of .415 and a slugging of .524; these are numbers that say a young man doesn’t have a lot left to prove at given level.

He is a phenom in every sense of the word. He’s 19 years old, and won’t be 20 until August 7th. He’s one half of two of the most exciting prospects that have ever been called up to the big leagues–we’re personally even a little more excited when Bryce Harper’s day arrives–but Trout is a really nice appetizer for the main event.

We’re holding out for a guest post from our friend MTD at Off Base Percentage. If you keep it locked over there through the weekend, we can guarantee you the scotch will be flowing and if Trout does anything noteworthy on his first weekend in the big leagues, Off Base may even pour you a celebratory glass.

Mike Trout’s time has arrived, and Mike Trout day will forever be known as July 8th. Welcome to the Show, Mike Trout.

A coward gets scared and quits. A hero gets scared, but still goes on.

[Box Score]

[Mo Egger] [Cincinnati.com] [C70 at the Bat]

Do we need heroes in sports? Craig Calcaterra asked it yesterday; piggy-backing off of a post by the wild man himself Buzz Bissinger.

Coincidentally, I ran across the quote that serves as the title of this post and had an epiphany of sorts.

At the same time I found the quote, the Reds were throwing up 5 runs on the Cardinals before the home team could ever record an out in the top of the 1st inning of last night’s game. This came off the heels of two of the flattest performances I can ever remember watching out of a Cincinnati team.

It didn’t end until late into the night, four hours and change after the first pitch had been thrown. It certainly didn’t end how we wanted it to–having to use every pitcher in the bullpen and needing Aroldis Chapman to lock down the save in the bottom of the 13th. But the Reds won. They didn’t quit, they didn’t roll over and they didn’t get swept. And they continue on as the same as they’ve done all season long. Doing just enough to keep us all interested. I’m not sure what “Razor” Ramon Hernandez’s double means to this season or if it’s a turning point. But it was a big hit in a big game that allows the Reds to keep on playing, three games out. Back to .500 we go.

I’ll admit–had the collapse not happened or had they went into St. Louis and taken the series–this post would have been all filled with all the jingoistic praise surrounding the post that Calcaterra wrote. That the Reds are our current day Mickey Mantle’s and they’re making stories that we’re watching every night that we just someday might tell our kids about like our parents talk about The Mick.

I thought last night’s performance was pretty heroic. As mad as I was two nights ago, and on my 4th of July holiday, I came away feeling pretty impressed before the collapse that led to an 8-8 tie between these two rivals.

The Reds served up a turd burger to two things:

1) C.B. Bucknor

You lousy, yellow, good for nothing arrogant asshole of an umpire. I’m not one to complain about umpires. On most nights I don’t even pay attention to who is doing the duty. But this guy is awful in every shape and form.

Bucknor; an asshole, has no semblance of what it’s like to call a good ballgame. He is there to show up ballplayers and make a name for himself which is the opposite of what most decent umpires do intentionally or unintentionally.

Give yourself a hand you jackass.

2) Pujols’ return



Luckily, Pujols garnered only a single in six trips to the plate on this evening and the Reds were able to sneak out of town before he began destroying buildings, pillaging food supplies and generally taking shits on small towns like he usually does against Cincinnati. See above video for footage of Pujols vs. Cincinnati (career).

Movie Review: Chasing 3000

Last night on Netflix I took a chance on Chasing 3000, starring Rory Culkin and one of my favorites Ray Liotta. At this point, is there any doubt that Liotta likes baseball?

This movie is described as “Two brothers drive across country to see their hero, Roberto Clemente, get his 3000th hit.” As I began to watch the movie, and the way these two brothers grew up on sandlots and collecting cards of their idols; I remembered back to my days as a kid in the summer playing tennis ball baseball games or incrediball baseball with the boys out in the front yard. Hit it over the road, and it’s a homer. And remember–ghost runners only were as fast as the lead human runner.

The movie also had another tie-in to my personal life. The brothers pass back and forth a book about their idol, Roberto Clemente. A generational talent right-fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates; Bobby Clemente was one of those guys who you wish you could climb into a time machine to go back and catch a glimpse of.

When I was a kid, I won a book at the school carnival titled Pride of Puerto Rico: The Life of Roberto Clemente. We were forced in 2nd grade to bring in a chapter book from home that we would need to read over the course of the semester. Little did I know that this great story about Roberto Clemente would be my very first baseball book that I read; and that it would be a book I ended up reading three times! In the back, in small 2nd grade hand-writing I wrote ‘times read’ and put a tally mark for every time I made it through. And then I exaggerated a few more for some odd reason that I cannot tell you why.

When the brothers are forced to move from their roots in Pittsburgh to Los Angeles due to a health ailment that affects the younger one, they’re taken away from the things that matter to them most in life: their grandfather, the Burgh’, and their hero Roberto Clemente.

This is not a comedy by any means–but a drama that shows the importance baseball can have in impacting and shaping the lives of family and young men.

When Clemente is just several hits from the magical 3,000 the older brother decides through some homesickness that he’s going to venture back to his roots in Pittsburgh to see his hero get the historic hit. His younger brother is played by Macaulay Culkin’s younger brother and decides he will go along for the ride in the journey that becomes the best week of their lives.

Some of the footage shown early on in this movie of the kids playing baseball in the street with their neighborhood friends reminds me so much of summers growing up in my childhood. And if you had summers like that I promise you will grin at a lot of it.

Chasing 3000 is a really good story centered around baseball that will make for a really nice watch for you and might bring back some heartwarming memories. It’s a story about how a generational talent taken too soon from us (stuck on exactly 3,000 hits for eternity) shaped one region of the nation for an era.

Diamond Hoggers Rating: 8.5 baseballs out of 10

The Summer of Upton continues

In case you missed it, Justin Upton played a little yardball in Milwaukee last night in Arizona’s 7-3 win.

He’s now OPS’ing at an .894 clip, with 14 long balls and 14 stolen bases, with 44 runs driven in and 52 runs scored. He’s collected 98 hits. He’s definitely been hot, but we would like to contend that he hasn’t gotten fully white hot yet at this point. When and if he does, his numbers will be completely out of this world insane.

The weather has officially become scorching (it’s 90+ degrees outside my office window). It’s a good time to be partying in Uptown.

This kid is only going to get better and better.

Get your inept asses away from the ball field

GAH! Someone do something and get this keyboard away from me.

I am not one of those fans. I am not “with you when you lose”. It is not “just a game”. I cannot say “get them tomorrow”. I do not think it is “just one game”. Or “it’s a long season”.

I hate this team. I hate all 25 of them. Every last one of them. I’ll give you a reason that I hate them all, just give me time!

I hate Volquez the most of this bunch; and I hate that I have to look to spell his first name right. He’s not worth it by the way, and if you were one of the clueless army who said that trading Josh Hamilton for him was a good move I would like to point out again that you

Over-reacting? You think so? Did you know that Drew Stubbs has 76 K’s in last 45 games and 189 AB’s? I’m sick of watching Stubbs bitch about calls like a little leaguer, his clueless approach at the plate and basically knowing that he’s a finished product at whatever age he’s at. Guy went to Texas, has all the tools and guess what? That doesn’t mean shit. He’s a .255 hitter with a little pop but strikes out enough that there isn’t a good spot for him in the lineup. Drew, quit taking fastballs down the dick and swinging at breaking balls. Where did you learn to hit like that.

Then there’s Bruce. Ah yes, Jay Bruce the All-Star. I told you that he would be hitting .250 by the All Star Break. Hell, at this rate Jay Bruce might one-up me and end up hitting .230 and make baseball history. I am so tired of the inconsistency, the clueless at-bats, the game after game of no counting stats. I have NEVER IN MY LIFE seen a guy disappear like this. I have never ever had such a helpless feeling watching a guy flail his way to failure. All-Star!?!? Guy doesn’t even believe in himself enough to get out of his slumps. It is so painfully obvious that he is screwed between the ears and that’s not something that goes away. Change of scenery is in order for Bruce because as far as I’m concerned, you’ll never win with a guy that disappears like that for months at a time in the middle of your order. Get some edge to your game, dude. Stop doubting yourself so much and maybe you’ll become a better ballplayer. You aren’t a good ballplayer right now and it’s a complete joke that you’re an All-Star.

Joey Votto. No one says a bad word about him. He’s a shitty fuckin’ leader and he gets his stats but this is what happens when Joey Votto is your leader. I don’t need numbers to support it, but the guy isn’t a leader he just wants to get paid and that means getting the Hell out of Cincinnati as soon as possible. Trust me on that one. Joey you can go ahead and go because you are basically a better-bodied Sean Casey in his prime only you aren’t as good of a leader.

I would love to see Paul Janish, Johnny Gomes, and Edgar Renteria released as soon as possible but God knows that will never happen because Dusty Baker is a stubborn prick who would rather lose with useless turds like those three than see what we have in guys like Zach Cozart, Yonder Alonso, and Todd Frazier. Or even Chris Heisey on an every night basis. Hey Dusty, stop playing Fred Lewis every night. He’s a .240 hitter with minimal pop when he’s on his game.

I cannot wait until the All-Star break so I don’t have to watch these fuckers for a few nights. I literally have never felt this level of hate for a team in my entire life. They’re a bunch of heartless, dickless, under-achieving little bitches.

I really want to hear some Cincinnati Fans rant and rave about Chris Carpenter now. He looked pretty good shutting their asses out yesterday didn’t he? I’d sure hate to have a guy who shows up to pitch like that. I’d rather run out Bronson Arroyo to get his tits lit or for crying out loud someone tell me about how good Volquez was in the first half of 2008.

Phillips and Cueto I have nothing to say about but I hate them for being part of this group. Guilt by association, I guess. If Phillips had any nuts he would close the doors and be a leader and tell guys like Bruce and Votto to grow a sack overnight but he is baseball’s version of Ocho Cinco! He is. Is he not? And he couldn’t lead if his life depended on it.

I could honestly probably hit with the amount of pop that Scott Rolen does now. And I was a shitty D3 player. I’m so glad that GM of the year Walt Jocketty went out and extended him so we’re going to be force fed his dead rotting carcass in the four hole each night. God knows Dusty will never change anything up. Just keep running them out there!

Hey Walt, have another scotch wild man! You’ve done a shitty job upgrading this roster too. Aroldis Chapman makes too much money to be a fucking 1-inning guy who is throwing in a game where we are down 8-1. Get out from under all that unproven talent you closet drunk and make a move to try and spark this team.

It sure was nice to see the one player who could have helped Jayne Bruce and Joey Votto develop a little bit (Matt Holliday is his fucking name) hit two bombs to bury us tonight. But the Reds let him go and sign with a division rival! He was the perfect player, but you didn’t go and get him because Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds were better fits. How did that work out? We got perfect game’d for fucks sakes in the NLDS and you bring the same group back. Bruce and Stubbs are obviously the same or actually worse than last year, so it’s not going to work out.

GAHHHHHH! I hate these guys! Fuck this team! Gut them, get them out of my face.

UPDATE: If you think I’m crazy, I’m not the only one.

Jay Bruce, 2011 All-Star

In the end, it was Jay Bruce’s peers who decided that he was an All-Star. Bruce won the player vote, and will be headed to Arizona in two weeks for the All-Star game. He’s finally made it.

“Mainly I just want to be respected by the players because everybody up here has talent,” he said. “The way you go about your business and the professionalism you exude is a big part of how players and coaches see you and there is a respect level there. And that’s my goal. At the end of your career, other players won’t remember how many All-Star teams you made or how many home runs you hit, they’ll remember what type of guy you are. I want to be well-respected and well-liked.”

Congratulations, Jay. Also a side congratulations to Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto!

Jason Heyward’s homerless streak has ended (Braves win again)

[Box Score]

[AJC]

The player we sponsor on Baseball Reference is not without homers as part of his game any longer. He didn’t hit any bombs in May. He didn’t hit any homers in June. But on July 1st, Jason Heyward lit up the skies like a firework and it was a legitimate bomb that put the Braves ahead 2-0 in the 6th inning. He’d add a single and score another run late in the game for good measure.

If Jason Heyward has the second half that we fully believe he is capable of having, he’s still got time to be a true MVP candidate if the Braves can run down the Phillies in the NL East. And it doesn’t really matter, because Atlanta is finally getting healthy and they’re playing great baseball.

Atlanta got a 1-hit shut out from Jair Jurrjens, the only hit against the Orioles being an Adam Jones single. Jurrjens will be in Arizona next week for the All Star Game. He’s 11-3 now with a 1.89 ERA. He might be the finest pitcher in all of baseball right now.

The Braves have a really, really nice nucleus right now. And Martin Prado is on the mend.

Reds vs. Indians in the Diamond Seats

[Box Score]

There’s the infamous window in the Diamond Club at Great American Ballpark, and Dusty Baker going out to visit yet another game in his long career in the game of baseball.

This game was an awful game, thanks to Bronson Arroyo and his Bugs Bunny 69 MPH pitch. So I’m just going to speak on the experience, and not a lot about the game which was over when Arroyo gave up several bombs and put the Reds in a 4-0 hole.

It’s Fourth of July time at the Ballpark, and a perfect opportunity for the Reds to serve up these beauties. I am on a wedding diet so I didn’t partake, but I probably should have.

If you ever wanted to see the bar inside the Diamond Club at Great American Ballpark, here it is. Now, I’ll tell you right now that if you attend a game in the Diamond Club, you might as well just plan on drinking beers all night. They do not serve shots of liquor, and while they do serve mixed drinks; something is up with the booze at the ballpark.

I won’t go into too many details, but I drank Johnny Walker Red Label all night with soda, one per inning approximately. I also had two or three before the game and two after the game during the fireworks display. I left the park about as sober as could be.

I don’t know if they’re watering them down–but if my BA content is any barometer–something is rotten in Denmark with the booze at the Diamond Club.

Here’s Carlos Carrasco being pre-game interviewed. He has been on a real roll for the Cleveland Indians lately.

And here’s the star of the night Justin Masterson. This guy seems like a really great kid, and he has ace stuff. Flat out, the guy can be as good of a pitcher as the Indians have had. There’s a lot to be excited about with him.

We joked with Masterson several times during the game, and he was genuinely very nice to us and some of the family members we were at the game with and our friends. We told him his stuff is straight filthy in MLB The Show ’11 and his face lit up like a kid. Love Masterson, wish he was a Cincinnati Red.

I spy Kirk Herbstreit. Actually, maybe the Johnny Walker did get to me a little bit because he was in line with his four kids and wife right in front of me in the Diamond Club and I didn’t recognize that it was him. Terrell Pryor was not a guest of honor in the Herbstreit party either. His wife is not that hot at all.

Carlos Santana is a stud. Probably my favorite Indians player. He always rolls with a huge hog in, and he always hits bombs when I’m at the park. True to form, he lined one into the Reds bullpen off Bunny Arroyo.

Brandon Phillips collected the 1,000th hit of his career last night, hitting two home runs and finishing off a 3 for 4 ballgame. You have to love this guy. He was out for blood against the team that traded him away and on a night where the Reds got a few paltry singles you really appreciate that Phillips had half of their hits last night.

Another game in which I’m present at the park and Jay Bruce has another 0 for 3 night. Nice view of the Moondeck here out in right field, look how full it is. It must really be something to play in front of that many people on some nights. One guy on display like the bear or elephant at the zoo, at this moment that guy was Jay Bruce.

Here’s a Cuban Missile Crisis: Austin Kearns vs. Aroldis Chapman. The epitome of over-matched.

Here’s Lon Chisenhall up close. He seems like a little bit of a dickhead to be honest. He had a big extra base hit last night though. Maybe it was the Johnny Walker Red.