All posts by TheNaturalMevs

The Royals Wildcard Comeback win was full of ridiculousness

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I lost a pile of money last night, and I still feel like I was on the right side. My gut told me the Oakland A’s would win last night and then move on to Anaheim to give the Angels all they could handle in the ALDS that begins tomorrow. The Royals simply would not die, winning a wild 9-8 ballgame in 12 innings that was an excellent display of how exciting the sport of baseball can be.

I underestimated the effect that all that team speed can have in a one-game and go home scenario. The Royals had seven different players steal bases. They were able to constantly apply pressure to the Athletics, even when they would reach base with an out via a walk or single; it would be just moments until that guy was in scoring position or thinking about stealing third.

After the Royals came back a few times, it became apparent that there was nothing the Athletics could throw at them to give them a ‘kill shot’. It sounds insane saying that about a baseball game, but if you watched how the game played out; the A’s seemingly had this game won two or three times, except for they didn’t.

It was an excellent game to kick off the 2014 playoffs, and I hope some people who say baseball is a slow game had their eyes on the Royals last night. It was their explosiveness, clutch-hitting, and sheer will to not be denied that gave them their first postseason win since 1985. It’s good for the game we all love.

And for the A’s…. well… bye. I don’t know if I could have handled an Oakland ALCS. This is one less boring team in the tournament we all have to worry about being forced to watch.

2014 BBA Awards Voting Post

As a member of the BBA (Baseball Blogger’s Alliance), we are required to vote on all awards for the 2014 MLB Season. Here are the categories we are voting on this year:

Connie Mack Award (Manager of the Year)
Willie Mays Award (Rookie of the Year)
Goose Gossage Award (Reliever of the Year)
Walter Johnson Award (Cy Young)
Stan Musial Award (MVP)

Connie Mack Award (Manager of the Year)

National League:
First Place Vote – Clint Hurdle (Pittsburgh)
Second Place Vote- Don Mattingly (Los Angeles)
Third Place Vote – Matt Williams (Washington)

American League
First Place Vote – Mike Scioscia (Anaheim)
Second Place Vote – Ned Yost (Kansas City)
Third Place Vote – Brad Ausmus (Detroit)

Willie Mays Award (Rookie of the Year):

National League:
First Place Vote – Jacob deGrom (New York Mets)
Second Place Vote – Billy Hamilton (Cincinnati)
Third Place Vote – Ender Inciarte (Arizona)

American League:
First Place Vote –Jose Abreu (Chicago White Sox)
Second Place Vote – Dellin Betances (New York Yankees)
Third Place Vote – George Springer (Houston)

Goose Gossage Award (Reliever of the year)

National League:
First Place Vote – Aroldis Chapman (Cincinnati)
Second Place Vote – Craig Kimbrel (Atlanta)
Third Place Vote – Mark Melancon (Pittsburgh)

American League:
First Place Vote – Greg Holland (Kansas City)
Second Place Vote – Zach Britton (Baltimore)
Third Place Vote – Jake McGee (Tampa Bay)

Walter Johnson Award (Cy Young):

National League:
First Place Vote – Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles)
Second Place Vote –Johnny Cueto (Cincinnati)
Third Place Vote – Adam Wainwright (St. Louis)
Fourth Place Vote – Doug Fister (Washington)
Fifth Place Vote – Zack Greinke (Los Angeles)

American League:
First Place Vote – Felix Hernandez (Seattle)
Second Place Vote – Corey Kluber (Cleveland)
Third Place Vote – Max Scherzer (Detroit)
Fourth Place Vote – David Price (Detroit)
Fifth Place Vote – Chris Sale (Chicago White Sox)

Stan Musial Award (Most Valuable Player):

National League:
First Place Vote – Giancarlo Stanton (Miami)
Second Place Vote – Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh)
Third Place Vote – Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles)
Fourth Place Vote – Anthony Rendon (Washington)
Fifth Place Vote – Jonathan Lucroy (Milwaukee)
Sixth Place Vote – Carlos Gomez (Milwaukee)
Seventh Place Vote – Anthony Rizzo (Chicago Cubs)
Eighth Place Vote – Yasiel Puig (Los Angeles)
Ninth Place Vote – Josh Harrison (Pittsburgh)
Tenth Place Vote – Buster Posey (San Francisco)

American League:
First Place Vote – Mike Trout (Anaheim)
Second Place Vote – Alex Gordon (Kansas City)
Third Place Vote – Nelson Cruz (Baltimore)
Fourth Place Vote – Michael Brantley (Cleveland)
Fifth Place Vote – Josh Donaldson (Oakland)
Sixth Place Vote – Jose Abreu (Chicago White Sox)
Seventh Place Vote – Jose Bautista (Toronto)
Eighth Place Vote – Adam Jones (Baltimore)
Ninth Place Vote – Miguel Cabrera (Detroit)
Tenth Place Vote – Jose Altuve (Houston)

The Big Donkey rides off into the sunset

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There are so few of guys over my history following the game that I feel like I had a real connection with – Adam Dunn was probably at the top of that totem pole of players. Probably my favorite player of my adult life retired today.

When I first got my drivers license, when Dunn was a 21-year old pup; I started driving myself two hours to games just to see him play. The first time I went to see him play he homered. When he poked his head out of the dugout that day we held a short conversation. It was meaningful to me because players at that point still seemed larger than life.

It seemed like he hit about 20 home runs when I was at the park. There were the memorable Opening Day blasts. The walk-off Grand slam off Bob Wickman. The night I saw him hit one out of the stadium off John Smoltz.

When I was in college I moved to Cincinnati and it was a treat because I could go to the ballpark when the Reds were home and see Dunn play. It was the summer of 2004 – and it’s what I consider to be Adam Dunn’s finest year in baseball. He hit 46 home runs that year and hit .266 with a .956 OPS. He was truly a dominating offensive presence at the age of 24 when there was little other reason to watch the Reds at night unless it was to see if Dunn dialed long distance on one.

There were countless off the field stories that I heard about Dunn that made me chuckle. We were around the same age – when I was in college Dunn was carousing in his own right in Cincinnati. From all accounts I heard, Dunn as a young player seemed like a fun loving, good, genuine dude who was well liked in the clubhouse and easy to root for. The Reds were abhorrent back in those days but you knew that a brighter day sat off in the distance. You knew we were on the way up. In a way; the Adam Dunn Reds era was a happier, simpler time.

I have argued with friends and family members about whether or not Adam Dunn is a good ballplayer. Whether his body of work is worthy of him being considered for greatness during a period of time. It’s useless to have these arguments the same way that arguing politics with someone on the other side is.

The fact of the matter is – I’ve always favored sluggers who could hit video-game style home runs and if a guy could do that, I care less about his glove. Adam Dunn was as true of a slugger as there ever was, he was the perfect player for me to fall in love with. He is hard to categorize or compare as Joe Posnanski did recently, because there is no other baseball atom just like Dunn ever before. One should stand back and appreciate his fabulous career for what it was as Jayson Stark recently did; because the fact of the matter is that Dunn was a very rare offensive weapon.

Career slugging of .490, career OPS of .854, reaching a .900 OPS in six seasons and coming very close in three others. He was a three true outcomes guy, and I loved it. He usually homered, walked, or struck out. Two out of three ain’t bad.

He was a tough Texan who I’m not sure ever really gave up dipping – I even saw him in with a lipper last night. A good old boy who just loved playing ball – he was chronicled in a 2002 Sports Illustrated article that displayed what a simple guy he was. I already liked what I saw from him his rookie year, but it was then I decided that Adam Dunn was my guy.  I tore the article out of my magazine and taped it on my dorm room wall. This was the guy I would hang my hat on. He didn’t let me down. One thing I really appreciated about Dunn following him closely is he seemed to always be in the lineup. I recall him one 90 degree Sunday early afternoon lumbering out of the clubhouse just before gametime. He had probably been out the night before until God knows when. I sure the Hell wouldn’t have played. He dunked his head into a cold tub for a few seconds, dried his face with a towel, and then grabbed his glove. That stuck with me.

Dunn was in the game a long time and took a lot of unreal pitchers deep (look at the names on this list of 462). Where there are guys who struggle against elite pitching and only shoot cripples, Dunn seemed to be just as likely to get a piece of the elite and struggle against the soft-tossing lefty. Without even looking I can tell you he dominated Roger Clemens and struggled against Oliver Perez.

Baseball is so much about tying eras together. There was no player that carried me through the end of high school, all of college, into my life as a young and full adult like Dunn did. I continued to root for him when he sadly moved on to several stops. Last night when Oakland blew the lead for the third and final time and the camera panned to a long-faced Dunner; I knew that was it. I knew that my guy was never going to appear in a postseason game and that’s a damn shame.

Maybe Dunn didn’t live up to everything he was supposed to be – in 2002 he hit .300 on the nose the first half of the season before he became only a pure slugger. He never would hit for much average or be a complete player. But Dunn had a great career and was a feared bat in the middle of every lineup he was in. When the big man came to the plate, you made sure you were paying attention. I think that speaks volumes about his ability.

His signed baseball will sit on my bedroom shelf for as long as I live and I will hold the memories he provided me with as a player very near and dear. They’re etched and burned into a special place in my memory. Thank you for that, Adam. Your career was vastly appreciated by this guy. You made me love following the game more and I always looked for your name in the box scores (when he began his career it was the newspaper, when he ended his career it was on an iPhone).

I’ll end it by going Chris Berman-ism on you all, with a saying I used to say a lot about the Donkey when he was in Cincinnati:

‘Cows come and cows go, but the Big Donkey lives on forever’.

It’s Baseball Playoff Time

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Baseball fans, rejoice. We’re into the start of a second season. The Royals last found themselves in a playoff game on October 27th, 1985. It was game seven of the world series. I was two years and change.

Brett Saberhagen and the Royals shut out the Cardinals 11-0 on that night in game seven of the World Series. Lonnie Smith! Willie Wilson! Some guy named Frank White hit clean-up that night and played second base. Their shortstop was Buddy Biancalana!

There’s something magical about the MLB playoffs. This post is a little overdue because of a busy workday but it’s great to see the A’s and Royals square off in front of a rabid crowd with all the talking heads saying this is the A’s last running of the bulls. Something’s got to give. Tonight is win or go home.

And in honor of the Royals big night – which is so very good for baseball – we have George Brett talking about the time he shit himself at Kokomos Steakhouse in Vegas.

How nice it is to be able to use those post categories ‘Kansas City Royals’ and ‘MLB Playoffs’ in the same place. You had to figure if you lived a long, normal lifespan you would live to see the Royals get here one time that you could recall. This *could* be the only time. Soak it in!

Your Saturday Baseball Post

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Finally, we have reached our expiration date on the baseball season. At the same time as saying ‘finally’, it’s come all too soon. And it’s sad.

This weekend is not only the end of the Derek Jeter era but possible countless many others. And the sun sets on yet another glorious, memorable and fun baseball regular season.

It won’t be long until spring comes and all 30 teams are back in play. Until then, we’ll hold it down here. As long as there is baseball to talk about and appreciate, we’ll be doing it.

Enjoy your final regular season Saturday, when the sun is pulled up into the disappearing summer sky for just a few extra hours for us baseball fans who love the game dearly.

Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers.

Your Saturday Baseball Post

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Just eight short days of regular season baseball remain counting this one. It’s hard to wonder how we got to this point in such a short amount of time. It’s the second to last regular season Saturday, which is always kind of somber.

It won’t be long until we’re pulling a Rogers Hornsby, sitting inside, staring out the window; waiting for spring to come.

We hope your fantasy team didn’t let you down and is still fighting for a championship; and we hope your real team hasn’t been mathematically eliminated. But if they have both failed you – make sure you take some time this Saturday to pay your respects to the greatest game on earth and at least check out a few innings of some action.

Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers. Have a great Saturday.

Pete Rose to return to Major League Baseball?

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It’s now been 25 years since former Cincinnati Reds switch hitter Pete Rose was banned from Major League Baseball.

The 73-year-old agreed to permanent ineligibility from the sport after it was reported in 1989 that he had gambled on baseball games while both playing for and managing the Cincinnati Reds.

Now, a quarter of a century later, fans are calling on one of the best baseball players of all time to be reinstated into the game. Known colloquially as ‘Charlie Hustler’, the star’s name has been coming back onto everybody’s radar, particularly in light of the impending retirement of Major League Commissioner Bud Selig.

Many sports commentators have had their say on the potential comeback of Pete Rose, including ESPN’s Keith Olbermann, who said of Rose: “He’s done his time. Everyone deserves a second chance.”

But were Rose’s crimes worthy of a lifetime ban? He made quite a name for himself in the 80s as a gambler, and a formal investigation was launched, with many of his associates such as bookmakers being interviewed. In findings named ‘The Dowd Report’, it was revealed that Rose had made bets on 52 Reds games in 1987, waging a minimum of $10,000 per day. Ohio’s Hall of Fame baseball reporter said of Rose’s activities: “The major problem with Rose betting on baseball, particularly the Reds, is that as manager he could control games, make decisions that could enhance his chances of winning his bets, thus jeopardizing the integrity of the game.”

Rose was in direct violation of Rule 21 Misconduct, which forbids any player, umpire, club or league official from betting on game play. In his 2004 autobiography, he admitted to betting on some games, but categorically denied betting on the Reds. Charlie Hustle tried to make one claim for reinstatement in 1992 but subsequently failed.

Some years later in 2003, it was reported that Bud Selig was “considering” his reinstatement, but no further moves were made.

The years have been kind to Rose however: it was recently revealed that he has kept up his gambling habits, having made a huge gamble on real estate which saw him make a $1 million profit. It’s unclear as to whether or not he still likes to have a dabble in sports betting, but it’s likely that he’ll probably be gambling in a more subtle way at RubyFortune.com nowadays rather than getting himself in trouble again for misconduct.

He recently made a brief show of a comeback when he returned to manage the Bridgeport Bluefish in the independent Atlantic League. As the team had no affiliation with MLB, he was perfectly within his rights to do so.

Now, his return to managing could spark a petition for his return. He has told fans: “’I’ve waited 25 years, but I’ve done so because I was the one who screwed up. If I were given a second chance, I would be the happiest guy in the world.”

Final Send off for the Captain

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Derek Jeter began his final homestand in the Bronx tonight. He singled off R.A. Dickey, got caught stealing; probably trying to give the home crowd a nice memento to remember him by. And then he did something legendary.

Jeter hit a home run off Dickey into the left field seats. As he rounded the bases, he had to be wondering if it was the last one he’ll hit.

Unless you’re living in a cave, you heard about Derek Jeter’s legendary Gatorade commercial that rolled out today. It’s all kinds of awesome.

Jeter’s last game at the stadium will be next Wednesday, an afternoon game that many of us will miss because we’ll be at work. I’m really going to miss Derek Jeter. I think everyone who loves the game of baseball feels the same way about it. I have received so many text messages today from my baseball brigade of friends who all said they’re really sad to see him go.

On the night after the Angels clinch, some comprehensive reads on Mike Trout

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The Angels became the first team in baseball to clinch last night. The player most responsible for that was Mike Trout. Our buddy Corey sent us this old but classic read from Baseball America from 2011 that someone retweeted the other night in the wake of the Angels firing Greg Morhardt. Morhardt was the scout who gave the recommendation to draft Mike Trout.

And then there’s Dave Cameron over on FOX Sports, who shows us that Mike Trout is the best ever up until his age 22 season.

One thing was for sure all season long, when we got the alert texts from the @TroutAtBat twitter account this season, we stopped what we were doing and tuned into the at-bat on our iPhone. He’s the only guy in baseball who can command that or who ever has commanded that. We feel like we’ve paused to take notice of what we’re seeing. And even we can’t do him justice, as good as he is.

We still love you, Jay

We are hoping (and praying) that this is not the case, but it is a very real possibility that Jay Bruce is somehow inconceivably entering his final two weeks as a Cincinnati Red. It is sad, and it makes us a little sick to our stomach. This was the player we had hoped that our kids would grow up watching in Cincinnati.

There are whispers that the Reds ownership wants to clean house, and perhaps Bruce is atop that list.

From disappointing, to dispiriting to disastrous. Again: Losing a lot now is a good thing. The more the Reds lose, the less likely those in charge are to dismiss this season as an injury-bombed aberration. Insiders have suggested to me this will not be the case, that the Big Man is sufficiently hissed to do some serious housecleaning. That is good. Boldness is required, if only to change the blood. We know what the current blood can do, at its peak. It’s past that now. Time for a Keith Richards-esque transfusion. (Excellent, OG-based reference, right?)

Gulp.

While we’ve had to check out of doing the Reds every night for our own health (this is just really depressing and hard to watch) we wanted to note that Jay Bruce won the Reds a game last week with his glove, preserving a 1-0 Cueto shutout over those rotten-assed Cardinals in a game St. Louis desperately needed.

If indeed this is it – Bruce’s last ride into town – we will have a lot more to say about it at a later time. Let’s put it this way: no matter what we’re doing that final Sunday of the regular season, September 28th; we’re going to make sure we soak in Bruce’s last three or four plate appearances.

Bryce Harper continues his assault of the Mets pitching staff in New York

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Bryce Harper is just a great bet to succeed any time he’s playing in New York. Tonight he hit what play by play guy Bob Carpenter called fittingly, a ‘Ruthian Clout’ into the upper deck in right field. It was one of three hits Harper collected in a Nationals win, and he also walked.

This long home run comes off a promising young arm in Zack Wheeler, who Harper was previously 1 for 11 against with six strikeouts. Another pretty good arm that Harper adds to his wall of big game pelts.

As the below graphic will show, Harper has really slaughtered the baseball at Citi Field. His 13th home run of the 2014 season was his sixth career home run in New York.

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You look at Harper’s numbers in what hasn’t exactly been the breakout season everyone hoped for, and he’s had one of the best stretches of his career quietly since August 1st (.284, 10 HR, 19 RBI).

Your Saturday Baseball Post

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Happy Saturday in Major League Baseball!

After today, by our count there are only two Saturday dates remaining in the regular season. That’s entirely awful. Mostly everyone out there – even some who love baseball – are more focused on the NCAA football schedule today and they’re simply killing time until the opening round of the MLB playoffs. That’s understandable.

It’s still hard to beat a Saturday during the baseball season when everyone is in play, and fantasy baseball championships are on the line.

And if you playing on placing a wager today, you can see the odds at allpro. Special thanks to the Pittsburgh Steelers who have started us in a hole this football season.

Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers.

Bryce Harper hits a monster home run off Craig Kimbrel

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Bryce Harper’s power has fully returned. As evidenced by this swing against his greatest nemesis, he might still have holes in his swing; but Craig Kimbrel found a part of the zone where such a hole does not exist.

The Nationals lost the game 6-2, and this came in the bottom of the ninth in a non-save situation. But Harper has taken some impressive pitcher’s deep this season, with the last two being Kimbrel and Clayton Kershaw.

It’s the classic power vs. power match-up that people always want to see at the park. Possibly the most-feared right-handed closer in the game against the young phenom made famous from his pre-highschool YouTube home runs. He was previously 1 for 7 with five strikeouts against Kimbrel, and it looked like he was headed for a sixth.

The home run was the 12th of Harper’s 2014 season and 54th in his career.

The Marlins are willing to break the bank for Giancarlo Stanton

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If you like what’s good for baseball, (we feel) that you should want the Miami Marlins to find a way to keep big Giancarlo Stanton in South Beach as their centerpiece for a long time to come.

According to a story that broke this morning by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, that’s exactly what they’re going to try to do this offseason.

“He’s the leader of this franchise,” Marlins president David Samson tells USA TODAY Sports. “We always knew the talent he had, but what he’s done this year, playing every day, he’s the definition of a game-changer.

“We call him a no-food player. A no-bathroom player. When he comes to the plate, nobody leaves their seat.

We like that second quote by David Samson – that’s exactly what Stanton is.

The article by USA Today seems to highlight the Marlins’ bright future. There are some pieces, but we don’t quite feel that it’s a roster destined for anything beyond mediocrity. The Marlins need to find a way to re-sign Stanton and then get extremely creative in attracting more talent up and down the roster to truly build around the player who could become the highest-paid in Marlins history.

Make no mistake about it, we’re really hoping Stanton signs that long-term contract in Miami. There are rumors that Stanton could become baseball’s first $300 million dollar player. If his next eight to ten years are anything like this one, he is deserving of that.