Mel Hall was a real loon

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This post is not intended to invoke any humor whatsoever. For all the beautiful parts of the game, Mel Hall turned out to be one of the game’s most ugly facets.

We remember him pretty well because he did look flashy on the Topps cards we owned of him, just as the SB Nation feature story said he attempted to be. We always pulled Mel Hall out for some reason and put him in the ‘star’ pile, even with fairly pedestrian career numbers.

He had some pretty famous moments, as some fans remember in the Bronx. He even has folks calling one Red Sox – Yankees tilt the ‘Mel Hall Game’.

But make no mistake about it – this guy is sick and his history in the game should be condemned. It’s still a great read and if you’re a baseball fan who grew up with even the faintest memory of Hall and you’re bored you should read it.

Farewell, Sweet ‘Street

I’ve been in a cranky and somber mood since I heard the news: DraftStreet has been sold to DraftKings. At the beginning of this season I learned of the world that is Daily Fantasy Baseball. I’ve played on average about five games per night since. It’s the greatest world I’ve ever known.

When I look back on my life – my life in baseball – I will have a VERY special place in my heart of this half season I got to enjoy on DraftStreet and the excitement it brought to common weeknights with a short slate of games or the huge weekend tournaments.

Daily Fantasy will not be the same, no site out there pulls every little intricacy together as well as the site I fell in love with in April. The greatest things in life certainly don’t last.

All that remains are the memories, the sweet memories. I still remember the night I took down one of the greats, a guy I admire a lot in the Daily Fantasy realm:

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As for DraftKings, this isn’t going to work, probably for the reason I am not fully comfortable playing there. I’m a daily fantasy turtle without a shell right now. This is out of the Forbes article I linked, and I think it simply holds a lot of truth:

“We spent a long time with IAC evaluating DraftStreet and whether to make a bid,” added Eccles of FanDuel. IAC committed to investing in DraftStreet in 2013. ”Ultimately we declined to bid for them. Around 70% of the revenues on both DraftStreet and DraftKings comes from players who already have FanDuel accounts. So we would be spending money for players we already had. Additionally, the top reasons for people to play on DraftStreet included their unique pricing and roster configurations, snake drafts and pickems. So trying to bring over the players when you don’t have those games is a mistake.”

There are no shortcuts in life. You can buy a client base of a site but without giving us the things that made us love – and made us so loyal in playing on that site – you simply won’t sustain any amount of consistent success.

Daily fantasy will never be the same. I’m just so happy to have known my times on the ‘Street. Now I must think of all the foes I’ll never conquer and the scores I’ll never be able to settle.

Some Original Photos from the All Star Home Run Derby and Parade

We were fortunate to have a good friend in Minneapolis the last few days, Corey; who has written for the site before. Next year we figure to be part of the entire All-Star experience from start to finish in Cincinnati, or die trying. For now – enjoy the awesome camera work on these original photos you can’t see anywhere else. BstJ1jrIUAA5sdo This is the famed rainbow that appeared during the home run derby before Todd Frazier starting taking his first round cuts. BstJOf5IQAEIyJh So I just learned that these guys are known as ‘Minnie’ and ‘Paul’, and they’re exactly 500 feet from home plate. It was mentioned during the game that they have never been reached. BstJmznIIAAgBGV Yasiel Puig during All-Star workout day. BstJ352IIAA7l6r Here are the contestants of the Home Run Derby. BstJkVwCAAA4VB3 The Captain taking some cuts during batting practice of All Star workout day. BstKCz7IcAAVrrh A great shot of Jeter during the parade. When you think back to the 2014 All Star Game in the Twin Cities, you’ll think of two main things: Jeter…. BstKHeZIgAAXQCe And Mike Trout. Who looks like he’s signing a ball for a fan here in the middle of the parade. What a great dude. BstKJZWIUAA3_NE Lots of respect for Miguel Cabrera, who admitted over the past few days that he isn’t fully healthy. BstKNWkIgAArame Giancarlo Stanton rides alone. BstKO3_IQAAEh-v Andrew McCutchen didn’t go without accumulating some stats in this All-Star Game, he singled to lead off the game. You know, the play that Jeter almost made right off the bat. BstKEjjIAAAClud Here’s another one of our favorites Jose Abreu, aka Big Cuban Stud. BstKL5rIAAE05My Jose Bautista in his salmon-colored sports coat. BstKQ9gIIAA1ya_ One of the most talked about arms in the game today, Clayton Kershaw. Up close and personal. BstKP4uIYAEEXyk Paul Goldschmidt BstKR79IAAAEgdU Yasiel Puig had a ROUGH couple of days in Minneapolis. This is a great and symbolic shot, really. Puig is such a kid that you figure he was in awe of everything and having such a great time (kid in a candy store) the focus just wasn’t there. And that’s okay. He will have more All Star Games.

Mike Trout grabs MVP honors in an outstanding All Star Game

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[Box Score]

[Hardball Talk] [ESPN] [Rob Neyer] [SweetSpot] [Deadspin] [NY Times]

The melody line – the take home message in this wonderful All Star Game of 2014 – was that Derek Jeter is passing the torch to the new face of baseball. It is absolutely fitting that Mike Trout won the MVP of this game and despite a great night from Jeter, and a home run from the man who has kept Trout from two MVP awards at a college age; it was Trout who shined the brightest in the game of stars and had the biggest hand in the American League’s victory.

I thought this was one of the best Midsummer Classics in recent memory from an entertainment standpoint. The hitters really did their job, putting a lot of hard balls in play and it seemed that the game featured about five or six well struck balls off the wall.

The game had a little bit of everything. It is absolutely amazing the kind of arms that each side was able to trot out to the mound one after the other. It’s also a credit to the great hitters in the game today that there were eight runs scored. The game also featured some great defensive plays, second to no one was Dee Gordon’s grab and throw to rob Michael Brantley of a hit.

It was just a well-played, outstanding ballgame. It represented our sport as well as any one thrill sport games could have. And how about that Corvette Stingray that Mike Trout took home? OMG.

Click through the jump to see five great moments from the 2014 All-Star Game.
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The 2014 All-Star Game Awaits

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In about an hour, the 2014 All Star Game takes center stage as a celebration of the baseball season’s midway point. It’s actually kind of sad that the season is half over (and if we’re being honest with you and ourselves it’s more than halfway over). This year’s All Star emeritus is Derek Jeter, so the game will be centered around cameras nobbing him and rightfully so.

ESPN had a cool article the other day about some of the different personalities and their favorite All Star Game memories titled ‘Midsummer Memories’. It had us re-living some of our favorite moments of All Star’s past, and if asked to pick just one moment it’s really hard to do. Every midsummer classic from our youth is special in it’s own way.

We really loved that 1992 game when Ken Griffey Jr. homered and was named the MVP. It was special to see it live, as that was the moment that Junior really kind of announced his presence on the grand stage. That was the moment when he started to come into his own. He was pretty dominant for the next decade.

The All Star game is neat, and tonight will have it’s share of epic moments. There are a nice collection of the game’s best players that serve as a great snapshot for where the game is at today. That’s the best part about every All Star game; you look at the names that dot the roster and I think it says something about the game at that particular moment.

The last two games have featured shut-outs. Tonight, we’re fairly sure both teams will score and we’re fairly sure the starters (Felix Hernandez and Adam Wainwright) of the game will be going full-bore as their teams have a shot at the playoffs and they want the opportunity to host that extra game. I think it’s going to be a terrific display of the game’s greatest players tonight. I can’t wait. The only bad part is soon after this game the season will begin to melt away like sand through an hourglass. There’s nothing about that which is positive.

But it’s been a remarkable and fulfilling first half of baseball. If the second half is this much fun, we’re in line for one of our most entertaining finishes ever. Good for our favorite sport!

Happy Home Run Derby Day!

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Another All-Star break commences with the Big Home Run Derby down at Target Field this evening. Chris Berman will be part of your evening if you want to watch the festivities, Lord only knows what kind of stupid catchphrases he’ll have for all of us as the evening progresses.

The derby really is a celebration of the season, tonight is for us fans. There’s really no money involved for the players. They’re doing it to entertain us. That’s the part of it that should be enjoyed.

I’ve got a lot of great derby memories as a kid – and this is definitely one of those baseball things that takes you back to being a kid. An evening of pure enjoyment awaits us, even if Berman is going to try to rain on the party by telling us that ‘Jose Bautista just hit one all the way to St. Paul!’.

Finally Giancarlo Stanton meets Derby. The competition will never be the same (he’s a 3/1 favorite to win the thing per Bovada with Yasiel Puig checking in at 5/1).

The All Star festivities can be kind of sad because the season is half over – I started thinking about NFL and my fantasy football team for the first time last night – but we don’t have to get into all that until tomorrow. I’ll enjoy today and tonight, though I do miss Baseball Tonight at the All Star Gala; here is the only proof on the internet that the neat two hour special after the Home Run Derby existed. It served as a great fireside chat for Karl Ravech, old school Peter Gammons and the other talking heads and really set the scene for all-things second half in the game. It’s another reason ESPN sucks nowadays.

Here are more MLB The Show ’14 Screenshots

You’ll probably want to click to enlarge these to enjoy the full detail. Just a beautiful game visually, and you can only hope to have a game that plays this smoothly someday in the form of Madden of NFL Football.

We’re currently immersed about 65ish games into our Angels franchise. Trout sits at .310 with 17 home runs, 49 RBI, and 35 stolen bases! We are gunning for a 40/40 season.

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This is trout legging out a triple, not stealing third. And there’s that decrepit Oakland Coliseum. A game or two later, Mike Trout hit two home runs off Sonny Gray in the same game.

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Jered Weaver dealing! One of our favorite shots yet.

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We faced Fausto Carmona Roberto Hernandez in Philly. Just had to get him on the blog somehow.

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Albert Pujols may be done for the regular season. He cracked his tibia playing first base. There’s Mike Scioscia feigning being upset – Pujols wasn’t hitting worth a damn and he felt old and stitched together prior to this. This is a realistic game you realize when you’re playing with Albert Pujols day in and day out.

Andrew McCutchen is Unbelievable in all ways that one can not be believed

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[Box Score]

[Pittsburgh Post Gazette]

The guy simply does not get enough run in these parts. His remarkable career is passing us by entirely too quickly, in part because the Pirates are blacked out in Columbus, Ohio by Major League Baseball. We only get to catch a handful of McCutchen games per year; and every time we do he does something that is absolutely one of a kind. Let’s preface the post by saying the Pirates weren’t blacked out tonight.

Mike Trout is the best player in the American League. If you hit the ‘freeze frame’ on the National League, right now it’s McCutchen.

As he so often does – he put his team on his back tonight in a game that they had to have. He homered last night also in a game the Pirates let slip away. With the Pirates trailing 5-4 tonight in the top of the 9th inning on the road, he led off the inning with a monstrous home run off Jonathan Broxton to tie it up.

Two innings later in the top of the 11th, the backbreaker. The kill shot. The death knell, and the dagger.

If you’ve watched as much baseball as we have; and lets be modest, if you’ve seen a lot of baseball you knew it was the type of home run that the opposing team just isn’t going to come back from. McCutchen ripped Cincinnati’s heart out and served it to them in their home stadium Saturday night.

McCutchen is the National League MVP again if things continue. He deserves the majority of the vote; even if the Pirates come up short. He’s also got 15 steals in 15 attempts, something no one is talking about enough. McCutchen is close to the perfect player right now; and you’re missing out if you’re not paying attention to the NL’s version of Trout.

Two Must-Note items from last night’s Reds game

Last night, the Reds pulled off another improbably win to move to 1.5 games out of first place in the NL Central. The Reds won an ugly game 6-5, which featured a big blown lead by the Pirates.

We’re a fan of all-world talent here, and the following two videos are exhibits of such.

Billy Hamilton was in the matrix. Look at this little jumping bean refuse to be denied his arbitrary right to first base! Hamilton had three hits in the game and is now up to .285 on the year.

Next up is Aroldis Chapman, who locked down his 20th save of the season. But that isn’t what all the hoopla was about. This was Chapman’s 40th straight appearance with at least one strikeout, a Major League record.

That was the 97th save of Chapman’s big league career. Here’s to about 403 more of these before he is finished.

Your Saturday Baseball Post

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Happy baseball Saturday. Today we’re going with Vince Coleman, who was a legend to us even before we knew what Vince Coleman looked like.

The reason for this is we had R.B.I. Baseball for the NES, and we never played as the Cardinals (Mets typically) but this Coleman character was absolutely unstoppable for St. Louis. He was an absolute pest who robbed us blind on the basepaths. He was a menace to society, even when we were six years old we hated seeing ‘Coleman’ come to the plate with his .298 average and three home runs. If you owned the game and tangled with the Cardinals, it wasn’t Jack Clark you feared.

None of the games start until 3:00 PM today, so you’ve got time to get some household chores done before the fun begins. It’s been a glorious week of baseball with what seems like a lot of bombs and big moments. And of course in the non-baseball world (if there is such a thing), LeBron James announced his return home to Cleveland yesterday. Good on you ‘Bron.

Enjoy your Saturday. Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers, where baseball is at the center of our universe.

Bryce Harper finally got one tonight

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Harper’s second home run of 2012

A Friday night in Philadelphia and Bryce Harper is mired in what seems like a one for forever slump. There are whispers that he’s not catching up to fastballs, even some wondering if he has the ever-dreaded ‘diminished skills’ at age 21 from all the injuries.

Nothing quiets these fears into a serenity momentarily like a nice bomb to right field to get some jeers from those brutal Philly fans.

Harper only had one hit tonight, but this was exactly the kind of confidence builder he needed to get something really big going. Something tells us that he’s going to be the driving force behind getting the Nationals past the Braves in the National League East division race. These teams are tied for the division lead as the night ends.

You figure A.J. Burnett will be hanging them up soon – but before he leaves the game forever the kid from Las Vegas touched him up for one. It’s good to see. It’s good for the game when this kid is hitting. We are really pulling for him.

It was the 44th home run of his career. It was his third at Citizens Bank Park. It was the 35th off a righty, and first time he’s gone deep hitting sixth in the Nationals lineup. It was his 28th solo shot.

The Nationals lost the game 6-2.

The One where the Angels swallow Colby Lewis whole

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[Box Score]

[OC Register]

When I saw the pitching match-up last night was Hector Santiago versus Colby Lewis in that July heat at the Ballpark in Arlington, I knew it was going to be a fun night for someone and possibly both teams. I look back on it and ask myself why the Hell wouldn’t I just bet the over total in this game and make some money. It was a safe bet.

My suspicion was correct, as Colby Lewis surrendered an astounding 13 hits, 13 runs, 11 of which were earned in just 2 and 1/3 innings. Nice assist by his manager Ron Washington in deciding it was a good night just to leave Colby to the wolves of the Angels lineup.

Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout each had four hits, and it seemed that they had them before the first half of the game was over. Trout moved his OPS to 1.003 with the monster game, and got a low pitch off Colby Lewis that landed on that pretty lawn in center out in the heart of Texas.

When it was over, the Angels had compiled a 15-6 win. In the loss, future (maybe) Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre had three hits including a home run. It was the Angels 54th win of the season and the first credited to Hector Santiago.

Here’s Mike Trout’s 21st home run of the season, off poor Colby Lewis:

Let’s tip our caps to Alfredo “Big Pasta” Simon

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Alfredo Simon is 12-3, after getting the win last night in a 4-1 game against the Cubs in Cincinnati.

If it weren’t for Simon, the Reds wouldn’t be 2.5 games out of first place in the National League Central right now.

As we said, he’s 12-3, with a 2.70 ERA and 75 strikeouts to 28 BB. His STEAMER says he’ll finish the year at a paltry 16-9; which at this point would be a monumental disappointment. We’ll take the OVER or the ‘better’ on those figures. For you saber-statheads, his xFIP is 3.93 for the rest of the year, meaning the pitcher who once may have bayoneted the shit out of a man in his native country (ALLEGEDLY); is expected to be pretty average the rest of the way. That means little; because these same stats told us he would never be more than average to begin with.

His last outing was the most Big Pasta outing ever. He went 6.2 innings, allowed four hits, one earned run, and struck out eight. That’s pretty much Simon in a nutshell when he takes the mound this season. He’s a quality-start machine, seemingly never gets hit hard, uses his fielders, strikes out a few more than you thought he would, goes deep into the ballgame, gets his win and heads home.

He was incredibly effective in his long-relief role in years past, displaying a greater value if you watched him. He would come into a game and strike out five of six batters often times and not be touched in a game that was a runaway. You had to figure Bryan Price saw something in him that could be harnessed and shaped into more, but no one saw this coming.

At one moment in time, in a baseball season that could have easily been deemed meaningless for the Reds; an unlikely hero has emerged. Every fifth day when Alfredo Simon bounces the rosin bag on his palm and takes the pearl, I look forward to it. We want to give him his due – he’s been that exceptional that he deserves a post all to himself.

Bryce Harper: This is SportCenter Commercial

ESPN is continuing to do what they can to make Bryce Harper a perceived superstar. He’s not holding up his end of the bargain, but hopefully that comes along in due time.

We like Harper, we like everything he stands for, we believe the talent is there. But we watch him night in and night out and it just isn’t happening. Something is off, and has been since he ran into that wall in Los Angeles last season.

Baseball