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The Last Idle Sunday


For the last time, there is no regular season baseball on a Sunday. The stadiums sit empty for now with just one week to go until the regular season kicks off at Wrigley Field.

We can make it through one week of anything. Especially this week with MLB ’15 the Show rolling out, a few season predictions posts still yet to come, and our season preview podcast. But one week from now we embark upon what could be the most exciting season of baseball we’ve ever seen. And they’re all so good that after a while, they blend together.

All the renewed hope comes with the start of a fresh 162.

Baseball will start every game at the same time on the season’s final day

This is absolutely awesome for those of you who say baseball isn’t exciting or doesn’t feature enough drama.

Per a report in the LA Times, the idea stems from trying to create the maximum amount of drama leading into the playoffs:

“If a game impacts another game, they’re all occurring at the same time, so no team would be put into a lame-duck situation because their fate already had been decided by an earlier result,” said Tony Pettiti, MLB chief operating officer.

“If we do have games coming down to the wire, we want to make sure we maximize that day.”

I love it! I absolutely dig it. It’s going to be a Sunday in September, and baseball is forgetting about juicy television revenues in multiple markets in order to get people talking about this one final day which will surely have several teams vying for playoff positioning. This should have been done years ago.

Happy Belated Birthday, Darryl Strawberry


It’s hard to believe my first favorite player Darryl Strawberry turned 53 this past Thursday – there was a post on ESPN SweetSpot by David Schoenfield to honor the popular semi-star of the 80’s and early 90’s.

There were a couple of good snippets out of that post:

Lloyd McClendon, Strawberry’s minor league roommate: “There was a lot of pressure on him, and he didn’t know how to handle it. … He was young, he didn’t have good work habits. In this game, it’s easy to stay in bed all day, especially on the road. What Darryl didn’t understand is that you have to get your body regulated. You’ve got to get up early, walk around and do things — go to the mall, take in a movie. It’s very easy to lie around and grab a bite and go play. But you’re not getting yourself ready either physically or mentally to play the game.”

I had never read that account before on Strawberry. It sheds some light into what the party lifestyle of a Major Leaguer was in that day in age. And if that doesn’t, this does:

He is living in self-imposed exile, talking about his former home cities, New York and Los Angeles, as his versions of Sodom and Gomorrah.

“It became a lifestyle for me,” Strawberry says. “Drink, do coke, get women, do something freaky … all that stuff. I did it for so long. I played games when I was drunk, or just getting off a drunk or all-night partying or coming down off amphetamines. With alcohol and drugs it was the excitement. That’s how I got addicted. It was an exciting way to escape from everything else. Coming to the major leagues at such a young age and coming to New York … maybe someplace else it would be a little different, but New York is a party place, an upbeat place.”

And Strawberry is now an example that no matter how many times you hit rock-bottom, there is hope. He’s a born again Christian today who has a recovery center in Orlando named after him. He’s lived to be 53. He didn’t retire as the ‘Black Ted Williams’ as scouts said he would, and he doesn’t have 500 career home runs to his name. But that’s really not important. Strawberry’s once in a generation talent left it’s mark on the game with moments and stories you hear. I remember my uncle talking about this Olympic Stadium home run in Montreal off Strawberry’s bat (along with a few foul balls he hit in Cincinnati that were over 500 feet).

Strawberry disappointed me many times when I was a youngster (he was out of the lineup the first game I ever attended with my parents and left me crying in the stands as an eight year old, he probably went on a bender the night before) but I am proud of the person he’s become and proud to say he was my first favorite player. It was because of his swing, his power, and his last name.

Daily Fantasy Baseball – On Fanduel

The last few years, rookies have made a pretty major impact at the MLB  level. Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Jose Fernandez are just a few who hit the ground running at the highest level of professional baseball. As the 2015 approaches, there are a few with high potential. Anyone playing in FanDuel fantasy baseball leagues should be at least looking at these guys early on in the year to see if they are worth taking a gamble on. After all, they will start at relatively modest prices an could be steals.

Kris Bryant

Last year, Bryant was a star in the minors. Some wondered why the Chicago Cubs didn’t really give him much of a shot at the majors, but 2015 should be different. There is a lot of optimism around the club in general, and the infielder is a guy who hits for power and average. In all of his games last season across different minor league levels, he hit .325 with 43 home runs.

Addison Russell

Staying with the Cubs, they have a middle infielder who could be a steal as a rookie if he can find an everyday position. Chicago already has Javier Baez and Starlin Castro, so Russell might be forced to move away from shortstop.

However, he is still a guy who is an advanced hitter with plenty of speed to pick up extra bases and stolen bases. Anyone playing in FanDuel fantasy baseball leagues should pay attention to how he does in Spring Training to get an idea on when he might be called up.

Carlos Rodon

Most of the top-tier rookie talent seems to be in the National League in 2015, but Carlos Rodon has a chance to be special for the Chicago White Sox. The team has worked hard to improve their starting rotation, and they will give him a shot to make the opening day roster if he does well in Spring Training. The 3rd overall pick from a season ago has already shown that he is pretty stable on the mound.

Welcoming the newest member of the Diamond Hoggers Family!

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So the biggest news of the past few days had nothing to do with baseball in my world (and that’s big wrestling with the Heyward trade and the Stanton contract).

On November 18th (born on the same day as Big Papi Ortiz) at 9:18 AM, my daughter Harper was born 8 pounds and 7 ounces. I have seen a lot of amazing things in my life with these eyes, but I have never seen anything in my life that comes close to comparing with the first time that I saw my little daughter. The sheer emotion and happiness overtook me.

I knew when I looked at this amazing little creation that for the rest of my life I was done putting myself first. I love this little girl more than I have ever loved anything. I can’t believe how blessed I am to be able to have the opportunity to be her dad!

And no, she wasn’t named after Bryce Harper! My wife just liked the name. But it’s a nice little coincidence in case he ends up hitting 600 home runs and racing into the Hall of Fame.

Which Free Agents Should the Mets be Targeting for the 2015 MLB Season?


With December just around the corner, baseball’s hot stove is as warm as ever as teams prepare to address their roster needs via free agency or trades. The Mets will go into those winter meetings searching for upgrades to their two most blatantly obvious positions of need at shortstop and corner outfield.

The many possible options for each position (big names like Hanley Ramirez and Nelson Cruz have been thrown around) have been discussed ad nauseam over the last few months, but those aren’t the only two spots where the Mets need improving.

With the recent outrighting of left-handed relievers Dana Eveland and Scott Rice, the Mets suddenly find themselves in the market for a lefty out of the bullpen. They could also use a right-handed power bat who could play first or the outfield.

While the addition of a lefty arm or two or a bat off the bench won’t drastically shift the Mets’ odds to win the National League in 2015 like the signing of Ramirez or Cruz, those moves are nevertheless significant in building the kind of affordable lineup the Mets would need to compete for a pennant.

This year’s free agent market has a couple of very interesting lefty arms, from established veteran relievers (Scott Downs and Jason Grilli) to a couple of very promising converted starters (Zach Duke and Andrew Miller).

Miller will be in particular demand after striking out 103 batters (5th in MLB) last season, but Duke wasn’t too bad himself. He had a breakout year with Milwaukee with 74 strikeouts in 58.2 innings and would be a terrific addition alongside Jeurys Familia as potential setup men.

The market on big impact bats in the Mets’ price range isn’t as plentiful, though, and it could get a little shallower if Michael Cuddyer comes off the market. The 35-year old had been a popular choice as a stopgap, but he may not be available for much longer after the Colorado Rockies extended him a $15 million qualifying offer.

Michael Morse, a contributor on the San Francisco Giants’ World Series run, would be a decent fallback target. He can play in the outfield and can platoon at first base with Lucas Duda against left-handed pitching.

Morse won’t be quite the ideal guy if the Mets need him to be an everyday corner outfielder, especially given his injury history. But he would be a nice addition as a utility bat and could be part of a larger piecemeal solution to the outfield question.

The Real Reason There is a Poker Game Called Baseball


Baseball and poker are arguably the two pastimes most associated with America. Both sports have grown alongside each other since the early 1900’s. Historian Jacques Barzun wrote that “whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball.”

Fifty years later, writer James McManus amended Barzun’s quote, replacing “baseball” with “poker” when discussing the growth of poker’s popularity. Both writers are indeed correct, but would have been more accurate if they had simply mentioned both sports.

Playing Baseball on the Felt


Anyone who has played in poker home games has probably has come across a card game called Baseball. The game, which is almost never seen in casinos, creates a lot of action and earned its name due to some interesting rules.

Typically the game follows the normal Seven Card Stud High-Lo rules, with a few additions which can vary from game to game. 3s and 9s are wild, and if you are dealt a 4 face-up, you will receive an extra down card.

For those who follow traditional baseball, these numbers might sound familiar: 3 strikes for an out, 9 innings, and 4 balls for a walk. While these similarities are most likely the reason that the poker game Baseball got its name, there are many other connections between the two sports.

Coincidental Similarities

Some of the similarities between baseball and poker appear to be intentional, or at least a result of subconscious forces:

  • Baseball’s 2014 World Series Champions will be crowned in just a few weeks. One month later, poker will crown the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion in Las Vegas.
  • The typical poker table has nine players, just as a baseball team.
  • When training to become dealers, students are taught to “pitch” the cards.
  • Players “catch” cards and get “hit” by the deck.
  • Cards that are needed to give a player a winning hand and defeat their opponents are “outs.”
  • Both require patience, mental focus, and a great deal of practice in order to be successful.

A Natural Career Move for Many

With all that they have in common, it’s no surprise that the two games attract the same people. Players like Babe Ruth, Ricky Henderson, Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriquez are all known as avid poker players.

Conversely, there are several professional poker players who have made the move from the baseball to the poker tables.

Chad Brown, who died from cancer earlier this year, was lucky enough have multiple career choices; baseball, acting, or poker. He moved from one to the next until he found his true calling at the poker table and had an incredible amount of success in the game he enjoyed up until his last few months.


Eric Baldwin led his school to the 2005 NCAA National Championship in baseball, but upon completing his degree he decided to pursue a career in poker. He has earned several championship titles in poker including an elusive World Series of Poker bracelet.

However, one former baseball player that began to play poker seriously at the end stands above all of the others.

A “Bulldog” on the Mound and On the Felt


Former Dodger Orel Hershiser is known for his competitive spirit. During his baseball career, this earned him a number of World Series victories and MVP Honors. At the poker tables, the same drive has earned him $90,000 in tournament winnings.

Hershiser said that poker “is something you can be competitive at while sitting down. As your body starts to fail you as an athlete, you find it hard to find places that can get your adrenaline flowing.”

Hershiser is primarily a cash game player, but his skills at the tournament table became evident during the NBC National Heads-Up Championship, where he surprised poker pros and poker fans alike by finishing in fifth place.

A Natural Name for the Game

By now, the reason why a poker game called Baseball exists should be fairly evident. The two great American pastimes are seemingly linked at the most basic of levels. In fact, not having a poker game called “Baseball” would be an aberration.

The connection between poker and baseball is perhaps as old as the two games themselves, and the similarities are seemingly endless. As Jackie Robinson once said:

“Baseball is like a poker game. Nobody wants to quit when he’s losing; nobody wants you to quit when you’re ahead.”

Pete Rose to return to Major League Baseball?


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 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.”

What major Changes will Rob Manfred make as new MLB Comissioner?


Have you gotten to know Rob Manfred yet?

After the 2014 MLB season, the 55-year old Harvard Law graduate will have the game resting in his hands. Now we speculate on some of the major changes he brings to the game during his tenure.

According to My Top Sportsbooks, here are the odds on some of the changes Manfred could implement:

• All-Star Game no longer determines home field for World Series
Odds: 10/1

• More Playoff Teams Added
Odds: 25/1

• Playoff teams taken away
Odds: 120/1

• Season is shortened
Odds: 200/1

• Ties established for the regular season
Odds: 200/1

• Teams are contracted
Odds: 40/1

• Teams added in Mexico/Puerto Rico/etc.
Odds: 50/1

• DH in both leagues
Odds: 80/1

• DH is abolished
Odds: 200/1

• Labor Peace ends with Strike
Odds: 75/1

• Labor Peace Ends with Lockout
Odds: 25/1

• Labor Peace continues
Odds: 10/1

• PED policy altered
Odds: 200/1

• Pitch Clock Instituted
Odds: 30/1

• Instant Replay expanded
Odds: 20/1

• Salary Cap instituted
Odds: 80/1

• No commercials during pitching changes
Odds: 100/1

• No warm up pitches after entering from bullpen
Odds: 80/1

• Abolish chewing tobacco
Odds: 4/1

Of these, if we were forced to pick two that were most likely; it would be that chewing tobacco is abolished. And we can see this happening soon, with the wake of Tony Gwynn’s death and Curt Schilling’s admission that tobacco caused his cancer battle.

Some of the stuff listed there is absolutely horrible. Shortening a season or abolishing the DH; these are wholesale changes that we want NOTHING to do with. Still, the best odds of all are that something not even listed here ends up being part of Manfred’s vision with baseball’s future.

Tips That Can Turn you into a Great Baseball Player

Baseball is one of the most popular sports played by kids as well as grown ups in America. Watching a game of baseball is thrilling and exciting and people throng in large numbers to see their favorite teams fight it out in the Major League Baseball season every year. Baseball is one of the most favorite American sports that has been enjoyed by people for many decades now. All you need is to have lots of practice, courage, determination and a stable mind to become a great baseball player.

One of the most important things that you should be conscious as a baseball player is safety. You should be fully aware in your mind as to where the ball will be so that you do not break a tooth or get hit in your body when facing a baseball pitcher. The same goes when you slide into your base. You should practice hard in making the right sliding move during your practice sessions so that you do not mess it up while playing a game.

The way the baseball hops and skips in the grass after pitching is one thing that you should know while playing the game of baseball. Studying the ball’s trajectory changes on the grass will easily help you to guess which way the ball would move after pitching on grass. It is also ideal for you to know the locations where the other baseball players are located in the playing area. This will prevent you from colliding with other players. You should also be shouting out loud or letting other players know that you are attempting to catch the ball or going to field it, so that no other player comes in your path.

You should be fully concentrating on the ball if you are batting in a real baseball game. This will help you to score better and to hit the ball for a home run as well. No matter you are playing an entertaining Roulette game in an online casino or playing a baseball game, you can win the game only if you play with total concentration. Always remember that baseball is a team sport and you might even need to sacrifice while batting for the sake of the team.

Did you ever wonder what happened to Tom Emanski?


This is a must-click link that will lead you over FOX Sports, as Eric Malinowski ran a popular story he did the other day on good old Tom Emanski.

If you grew up in the era that we did, you long for the old Emanski commercials to just play late night one more time, but like anything else in life they quietly faded away off television and are no longer seen.

Time catches up to everyone – even Fred McGriff who was always seen in that hideous ‘Baseball World’ trucker hat in the commercials.

Before everything in business was dot com, there was Tom Emanski and his VHS tapes. You’ll enjoy this read.

Let’s Get on With Some Second Half Baseball


If this All Star Break went on one more day, we don’t know if we would survive. We’ve gone through some serious baseball withdrawal the past few days. As we type this post, most players are probably arriving back in their home MLB cities from their respective hometowns.

The good news is tomorrow, there’s a full slate of action and everyone will be suiting up. The bad news is there’s less than half of the season remaining. We’re just not going to be quite ready this year to flip it over to football season. If the season were 13 months long, we would still be greedy and want another month of it.

For me in particular, the 2014 second half will be my last half season without a kid of my own. This is weird; because baseball in a lot of ways has always reduced us back to the inner child within us. It’s going to be a big adjustment, but it won’t be without some fireworks before we have to worry about fatherhood.

It’s going to be an action-packed and drama filled second half. In your wildest imagination, you can’t even guess at the drama we have ahead of us. That’s what we say to all the crap talk that baseball is dying.

No superstars? Watch Trout play sometime, soccer fan.


Yasiel Puig: Current Bat Flip Champion


There’s a lot that can be said about Yasiel Puig. He’s talented. He drives really fast. Sometimes he shows up late for pregame practice. His face looks kind of squishy. He’s a lightning rod. All of the above are true, and now we can add another thing to that list: He’s a pretty incredible bat flipper.

Last week against the Marlins, Puig hit a towering home run that was presumably fueled by all of the Cuban food that South Beach had to offer. But, no one really noticed the home run. What people noticed, was this:


Say what you will about the unwritten rules of baseball, that bat flip was fantastic. So fantastic in fact, that it seems that Puig is running with the whole bat flip idea. Running with it with so much devotion, that he’ll bat flip whenever he damn well pleases.

Even during a routine flyout to center.

I am not the world’s biggest Puig fan, in fact, I think the Dodgers should seriously look into trading him. But I am all for bat flips, even bat flips on foul balls. So, keep flipping that bat, Yasiel. Maybe one day you’ll have that looks this incredible:

Dare to dream, Yasiel. Dare to dream.

Rank relief: Bold statement – Houston is a worse team than Seattle

Kyle Seager poses while Josh Fields watches his handiwork
Kyle Seager poses while Josh Fields watches his handiwork

In a game between two pretty bad teams, Josh Fields turned out to have the worst day.  Attempting to close the game and protect a one run lead for the Astros, he gave up three runs in walk off fashion.  Kyle Seager has been awful this season until his two home runs in this game.  I wouldn’t have minded having Seager and his .158 BA up to the plate plate with the game on the line, but he did 22 home runs in 2013 and should be expected to provide that kind of pop going forward.

So exactly how did the 9th inning go for Fields…let’s take a look.

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After a pair of singles, Field was able to strike out and a game ending double play was in play.  But Fields threw a fat 4 seamer that Seager deposited over the wall.  Game.

The Astros did take 2 of 3 from the Mariners on the road which is a nice accomplishment, but still lag a game behind for last place.  After a hot start, the Mariners have fallen flat on their faces.  Nobody really thinks either of these teams is going anywhere this year, but it could be an interesting race for last place.