There were parallels between Bryce Harper’s and Mickey Mantle’s 57th career home runs

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It has been said that Bryce Harper could end up the Mickey Mantle of his generation. Their 57th career homers have some career parallels, and I know this because I spent an abnormal amount of time studying The Mick’s baseball-reference page this weekend.

Harper continues to display his power to all fields – homering off some out of shape guy named Sean O’Sullivan to left center. Mantle’s also went to left center, off some guy named Mickey McDermott. Mantle’s came in a road win against the Red Sox. Harper’s came in a road win against Philadelphia. They were both hit in the first inning. Mantle was about a week from being 22 years old. Harper is 22 years old.

Here’s a look at the 57th career home run in the career of Bryce Harper:

I don’t know this to be fact, but I don’t think either guy was using batting gloves for number 57.

A Bat Flippin’ Good Time Podcast: Saturday Night Regular Season Edition

Big things went down while on air, and by 'big, we mean Uribear.
Big things went down while on air, and by ‘big, we mean Uribear.

Tonight on A Bat Flippin’ Good Time Podcast, I was joined as always by M.J. Lloyd and Mike Hllywa, both of Off Base Percentage fame for for the first regular season edition of our show.

Topics included on this podcast:

  • Kris Bryant: is his own player’s union working against him?
  • Donkey Basketball?
  • Which teams hot starts are to be taken seriously?
  • Juan Uribe didn’t feel like playing tonight
  • Mike Trout’s opening day at-bat against King Felix
  • Billy Hamilton and Mike Moustakas’ hot starts
  • Evan Gattis’ two golden sombreros
  • Much more!

Lots of laughs through about an hour of baseball talk. If you love baseball and have some serious time to kill – give it a listen!

The Draftkings Gentleman’s Game Cup: Week 1

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Over on Draftkings, we run a weekly game on Fridays called the ‘Gentleman’s Game’. All year we’ll keep track of the standings here and see how each of us fare.

The leading point getter at years end in the standings shall be declared winner of the inaugural Gentleman’s Cup on Draftkings, a merit of the highest honor.

Yearly Standings:
DStars45 – 5 points
Swindaman3 – 4 Points
Diamond Hoggers – 3 Points
t3bird04 – 2 Points
Jsquad34 – 1 Point

Here’s a copy of the winning lineup:
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Your Saturday Baseball Post

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There’s something magical; something enchanting about the first Saturday of the Major League Baseball regular season.

So much has happened this week, it’s probably hard to realize that Detroit, Kansas City, Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Colorado sit at an unlikely 4-0.

The best thing about the weekends; and more prominently Saturday; is that everyone is in play. Everyone still has the day off from work tomorrow to enjoy and recover. It’s the best day of the week and we set the flag at half mass each week with this post to salute the best sport on earth.

Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers. Happy Saturday everyone.

The Washington Nationals have major problems

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[Box Score]

As The Nats Blog pointed out, for the fourth time in four games to begin the season; the Nationals failed to score four runs.

Washington got a leadoff home run from nice looking young player Michael Taylor, and then didn’t score again for the rest of the game off Jerome Williams. Jerome friggin’ Williams! And thank goodness I did not have idle time before the games started tonight, because I was about to text my bookie (someone delete this guy’s number for me please) and involve the Nationals in a parlay that they would have doomed. This is because I figured the Nationals; who I have winning the World Series, could not possibly start the year 1-3. Well, they did.

The fact remains that the Nationals are leaving their superstar starting pitching staff with little to no margin for error. They ran out an offense that went Taylor, Yunel Escobar, Bryce Harper (struck out three times), stiff Ryan Zimmerman (he actually looks stiff in the box nowadays), Wilson Ramos, Ian Desmond, Dan Uggla, Tyler Moore. That’s not scaring anyone.

Gio Gonzalez wasn’t awful, but had a little bit of a messy line. And the Nationals aren’t going to make this a fun experience from start to finish. They’ll likely get healthier and begin to peak later in the year as they’ve made a habit of the past several seasons, but right now they’re a below average team offensively and there’s really no solution in sight.

They’re going to need to battle and scrape for every run they get and continue to stress those arms in their rotation in the meantime.

Are the Cincinnati Reds Good?

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[Box Score]

Hold your firesale just a damn minute. Something magical *might* be taking form in the Queen City.

The Reds survived a start by Jason Marquis (he actually, really struck out seven hitters) against the feared St. Louis Cardinals and have now begun the 2015 campaign 4-0 after sweeping the Pirates and a thrilling Friday night victory over the rival Redbirds.

The Reds appear to have their on-field leader back. This is as close as anyone has seen to 2010 Joey Votto in a long time. Votto hit a pair of home runs – the first was a prototype Votto two-run shot to left field to give the Reds a 2-1 lead – and the second was almost the same exact home run to give the Reds a 4-3 lead.

The Cuban came on in the ninth to lock down his 114th save in a Reds uniform, his second of the season, and blew away the final hitter with 101 MPH gas to match what his license plate on his fast car says.

The Reds are winning with timely hitting, quality starts (which seem unlikely to continue), and….. a little bit of luck.

Billy Hamilton is also worth mentioning for a reason why the Reds are winning. He’s getting on base, and he’s stolen eight bases in four games.

Johnny Cueto goes tomorrow afternoon for a chance to start something really special.

The Yankees Played 19 innings of Baseball tonight, And Lost

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[Box Score]
[Joy of Sox]

This was the longest game in Yankees franchise history in terms of time – we actually had a friend at the game – for at least some of it.

This game had a little bit of everything, and it’s the kind of unpredictable little lottery that buying a ticket to a baseball game can provide. It’s honestly the type of game we’ve always wanted to be present at.

There was a 16-minute power outage at the game, making the official time of the game six hours, 49 minutes. With the power outage factored in, officially it was not the longest game in franchise history.

We started watching this one somewhere around the 13th. It was a game that just wanted to stay tied. The Red Sox led with two outs in the ninth when Edward Mujica surrendered a home run to Chase Headley to send it to extras.

Then the Red Sox grabbed two leads in extra innings that the Yankees came back to tie; one on a home run by David Ortiz and the other on a single by Pablo Sandoval.

The winning run in the top of the 19th scored on a sac fly after a Yankees passed ball allowed by John Ryan Murphy.

MLB ’15 The Show Screenshots: The Chicago White Sox

We were a little bored tonight, so as promised; here are some screenshots of a team we’ve been playing with a little bit on the game, the Chicago White Sox.

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Jose Abreu looks nothing like the real Jose Abreu. Not sure if the game developers of the best visual game ever made couldn’t get Big Cuban Stud to come in for a scan scan or what; but this is not THE Jose Abreu.

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Abreu after a walk with some of the shadows showing. The lighting in this game from inning to inning is flawless.

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Here’s David Robertson shutting down save number one on the season.

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Sale’s wing ‘t’.

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Jeff Samardija threw me seven scoreless innings with seven K’s and no walks.

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Alexei Ramirez with a nice show of the background behind him. Every outfield and infield grass pattern in this game is cut to it’s true-life self.

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Gordon Beckham, one of our personal favorites in his second tour of duty with the White Sox. He’s playing third base this time around for me against lefties.

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Alexei turning two, jumping over a sliding Alex Rios.

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As bad as Abreu is, they absolutely nailed Adam LaRoche down to his shoes.

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And one to end it, the mouth-breathing Moustakas.

Stephen Strasburg continues to be underwhelming

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After a big 2-1 win last night behind one of their true aces, Jordan Zimmerman, the Nationals and Mets played this afternoon on getaway day and grabbed a spot on ESPN because it was billed as Matt Harvey versus Stephen Strasburg. Two hard throwing big time shut down guys, right?

Not so. It became clear fairly early on that these are two completely different animals, even with Harvey making his first start since having Tommy John surgery.

Stephen Strasburg had the kind of start that he has far too often. He was throwing hard and dropping knee buckling breaking balls in the zone to hitters; but he didn’t look dominant. And then the trouble started.

Strasburg seemed to have no out pitch from the beginning, and allowed four runs in the third inning and also did damage to himself by walking three hitters. He struck out five in 5 and 1/3 innings and wasn’t the difference maker in the rubber game against the other team’s best pitcher. The Mets weren’t knocking fences down on Strasburg by any means, but they found a way to make contact and punch balls just beyond the grasp of infielders and single the other way with guys in scoring position.

Harvey on the other hand was a complete badass. I saw him blow away Bryce Harper three times with 97 or 98 MPH gas up in the zone and you look at his line; he walked one hitter on the day and struck out nine.

If you’ve watched a lot of the Nationals and Strasburg, you’ve kind of become used to these type of outings from Strasburg. It was an opening series 6-3 loss that drops them to 1-2 on the year; it’s not the end of the world.

But on a mostly quiet day in baseball, the biggest take home message is that it’s becoming more and more clear by the day that Stephen Strasburg is just a good pitcher who will get his strikeouts and never have too high an ERA; but he’s no stopper. He’s probably reached his ceiling and he’s nowhere near the level of a Jordan Zimmerman in a game that the Nationals have to have. I wouldn’t be surprised if people inside the organization feel this way as well.

Adrian Gonzalez has a Special night in Los Angeles

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When Vin Scully asks his listeners ‘can you believe it?’, something special is going down at Chavez Ravine.

It happened tonight, as I’ve just watched Adrian Gonzalez homer for the third time off that Hillbilly Andrew Cashner. Gonzalez now has 264 home runs in his career, and is proving he’s still one of the game’s elite bats.

With the way he’s going, I probably shouldn’t finish this post to make sure he doesn’t go and hit a fourth. Cashner is out of the game now so that probably lessens the odds for the big fella.

And a three homer game becomes all that much more special when you own a guy on a couple fantasy baseball teams!

Baby Don Zimmer Wins the Day

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Everyone has seen Baby Andy Reid and Baby Mark Mangino. But to celebrate Opening Day, my wife dressed up our daughter as former Yankees Pitching Coach Don Zimmer. It’s pretty good – she even has Don’s steel blue eyes – but my wife went and ruined it with that headband.

They’re out of town for the week somewhere in Yankee-land, but I’ll have it known that my daughter is NOT a Yankees fan but a Cincinnati Reds fan and this was done by my wife against my will. Because my kid is cute in that puffy jacket, and chubby like Don Zimmer in the jowls, I was okay with it this once.

Also, my daughter is named after a baseball player which my wife hates to admit but her name was not picked off the internet and shall she see this post; and she will because she likes to check up on exactly what I’m up to; I just want it to serve as a reminder.

Baby Don Zimmer? Baby Don Zimmer. Someday my daughter will look back on this and laugh about her first Opening Day. If only we had a little Baby Pedro with a grease curl to sit next to her, we would have been internet famous.

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Mike Trout is still the Game’s Greatest, and other Opening Day Scribbles

Mike Trout is the best player on the planet, and he’s doing everything in his power to prove that he’s maybe the best of my lifetime. I made sure I didn’t miss his first at-bat of the season against Felix Hernandez, remembering well what he did one year ago to him on Opening Day.

Trout didn’t disappoint. He had an absolutely incredible at-bat which seemed to leave Felix appearing flustered while the Kings Court in Seattle cheered for the putaway pitch Hernandez simply didn’t have in his arsenal.

And then Trout finally subdued and forced the American league’s best pitcher into a ‘mistake’ that got hit over the center field wall and gave the Angels a 1-0 lead. I couldn’t believe it, and then yes I could. It’s Mike Trout. He’s not human. He’s once in a lifetime.

Before that homer Trout was a career .367 hitter with a 1.022 OPS in 54 plate appearances against King Felix. He owns the man. Felix checks under his bed at night for Mike Trout boogeymen.

By the time Trout took away a home run from Logan Morrison later in the game, it was just a footnote due to his own unbelievable feat. Even in a loss, Mike Trout continues to show the world he’s the best pound for pound baseball player in the world at age 23.

Other take-home notes:

  • The Marlins sure did squander a chance to win and will have a hard time reaching the 106-win season the MLB The Show predicted them to have if they play often like they did today. They also had a rain delay despite having a retractable roof. Jeffrey Loria hasn’t figured out how to operate his billion dollar toy yet.
  • Really well played game in Houston tonight, and it went by quickly. The Astros got themselves a nice 2-0 win and slipped by a lights-out Corey Kluber because Dallas Kuechel was equally dominant.
  • It seems like every April, the Rockies show up and beat the Cowboy Hell out of their opponents. For those of you that chose to roster Kyle Lohse in fantasy baseball, no amount of my sorrow can fix your ratios. That shit is going to take months.
  • I just have a feeling that this could be Evan Longoria’s best year – he started off alright with a home run in a 6-2 Rays loss to those pesky but good Orioles.
  • If you had JD Martinez in the ‘first player to homer in the 2015 season’ pool, you are a damn Nostradamus. The Tigers got things kicked off today with a 4-0 win in which David Price made the Twins look just as hapless as they will be against southpaws.

My seasonal fantasy teams started off on the right foot – I think Sonny Gray is firing me a no hitter as we speak. I got destroyed on DraftKings Daily Fantasy, just as I expected. Not that any of this matters to you.

Any time you can spend a solid twelve hours watching baseball with just your dog, it’s a damn good day of living. And the best part of Opening Day is there are six-plus more months of this stuff to come. We don’t have to even worry about any of that ‘the season is really flying by’ talk for quite a while.

Jose Abreu initiates the year’s first Hawkgasm

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It’s a privilege to watch Jose Abreu hit. It’s honestly a gift to anyone who loves the game. I had the White Sox game on today all day for three reasons: I had money on the White Sox – which I lost badly, Jose Abreu, and I wanted to hear Hawk Harrelson sing, hoot and openly root for the pale hosers.

Jeff Samardzija was pretty shitty. This team will need Chris Sale badly to reach the heights I think they can; that much was proven today.

And in a twist of not so much irony, Jose Abreu provided me with the only bit of Hawk Harrelson excitment on the day:

Man can this Big Cuban Stud hit. Yordano Ventura was topping out at 99 MPH on the gun and when that wasn’t happening the Sox were kicking the ball all over the damn field, allowing home runs to Mike Moustakas and losing my money as fast as they could. Final score 10-1 Royals. I maintain, Kansas City is not a good team and they are costing me way too much money dating back to last year’s postseason.

But I’ll meet with my bookie tomorrow and pay that man his money, and I’ll live to fight another day and be okay because Jose Abreu eats, sleeps, and crushes and makes Hawk Harrelson’s trousers a mess.

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The Toddfather, Bruce, Cueto make it a Reds Opening Day to Remember

[Box Score]
[Cincinnati.com]

This might have been the last one – so I hope you enjoyed today. Actually, take away the ‘might’. If you’ve followed the game long enough, you know in your heart this was the last time that this current core will take the field on Opening Day in Cincinnati as a group. Today almost told us that much. It was a beautiful win, a great start to the marathon that honored Opening Day in the city it should most be honored in. But on more nights then not, the Reds aren’t going to get the type of outing Johnny Cueto provided them with.

When they don’t have that type of performance, it could be a rough go for them. And it was almost a tough day anyways with their lack of a set-up man. When Andrew McCutchen homered to that little spot in right center that he always seems to sneak one out to in Cincinnati (he kills the Reds more than Billy Hall ever did), it seemed like the Reds were going to waste Cueto’s great outing and Bruce’s laser into the Moondeck in right.

Todd Frazier would have none of it – he hit a ball into the upper tank in left in the bottom of the 8th off Tony Watson that would claim the day for Cincinnati. It came after Billy Hamilton and Joey Votto singled to apply some pressure to the lights out reliever.

And one more time, the core of Bruce, Votto, Phillips, Mesoraco, Frazier, Cueto, Chapman had one once the Cuban came in and dominated the ninth inning like he usually does. But if things go bad like we think they might – the Reds will make some moves and some of the veteran faces we’ve all grown the love and attachment with won’t be here on this day next year.

So we appreciated today for what it was, a great memory that we’ll always have and at least a day in first place in this season where the world seems to be doubting the Reds.

Baseball