Your Saturday Baseball Post

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This post should have been up earlier, but I have my hands full with an eight month old all weekend being on daddy duty.  It’s Saturday, we are setting the proverbial flag at half mask; and we wanted to just throw this post up to salute the greatest game on earth while we still have a small part of the afternoon left.

We can’t wait until that 6:30 PM ET bedtime here in the steamy Midwest to turn on some baseball. We’re missing Kershaw in Washington right now to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Disney Junior. Not kidding. It’s Witching hour folks. You don’t want to piss her off.

Your Gentleman’s Game recap post will be up later today. Here’s the classic rock song of the game that should be played on a ballpark loudspeaker near you:

Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers Baseball Blog. Enjoy your Saturday.

Baseball Training Aids and Equipment

Trainings aids for baseball includes hitting cages, training bats, pitching machines, training gloves, training balls and several more. With so many training aids available, it is quite difficult for a player to understand which equipment will be helpful for the player to achieve their goals. Most of the people know about the game baseball. However, not many actually have an idea of what it takes for developing and training the required skills for playing baseball.

Several skills are required for playing baseball. If you are interested in the game and want develop your skill, it is very important for you to have a knowledge of what is your skill level currently. This will be very helpful when you select certain equipment that can be best for enhancing your skills.

Training aids for different types of players

Players who are just starting to learn and play baseball will never possess the same levels of skills as those players who play in big leagues. When you learn to play baseball, you must always start with basics. All the beginners need to start by learning the basics. They need to learn how to catch, pitch and hit. For more advanced baseball players, the training has to be specifically done in order to improve certain areas of their game. For instance, a player who pitches should use pitching equipment while a player who struggles with batting must focus on hitting equipment for training. One great thing for all players is that there are equipment for all sorts of players, of any skill level.

Where to find training aids

Coaches or players can look for these products anywhere, from an online retailer to a local sports store. There are numerous companies providing these products. While some of these companies carry only a specific inventory, while others carry products ranging from memorabilia to fan apparel. All the baseball companies thrive to provide the best possible products for baseball players. These companies are trying to create a wide selection of products that they can offer to all sorts of baseball players.

Searching in the internet for baseball training aids can be very helpful (I know that top5onlinecasino website owner is a baseball fan don’t hesitate to contact him for help). The search result can be further narrowed down if you specifically know your needs. Searching for ‘Pitching training aids’ or ‘Hitting training aids’ will provide the necessary results if you know about your specific needs.

How helpful are baseball training aids

Training and practice are extremely essential if you want to develop the necessary skills for playing game safely. A lot of time and effort has to be put in training. As the skill level of players increase, they can make use of different training aids and equipment. These training aids continuously challenge the ability of the player, which further helps the player in improving.

Many players and coaches have noticed that using baseball training aids is helpful in making training sessions more productive. These products are very effective and certainly help players in positive manner. Making use of them during practice and training sessions is always helpful.

2015 All Star Game in Cincinnati: Mike Trout MVP, AL Wins 6-3

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[Box Score]

[Deadspin] [ESPN]

It felt a little bit like the 2015 MLB All Star Game left a lot to be desired. Even I admitted to some friends that the lack of offense and fireworks was painful.

At the end of the day, the headline story was the same as the 2014 All Star Game: Mike Trout adds another luxury vehicle to his All Star Game Most Valuable Player garage. The guy is absolutely amazing, and not human. He is still the best player in the game today, and he shows it when he’s up against the best in the world and offense comes at a premium.

The Scripps Building in Downtown Cincinnati added a nice touch.
The Scripps Building in Downtown Cincinnati added a nice touch.

Here’s the best video we could find of Trout leading off the game with a home run against Zach Greinke. It was a lead the American League would not relinquish by the end of the night despite the NL tying the game 1-1 early. The closest the NL would come after that would be when Andrew McCutchen homered to left field.

Clayton Kershaw had a subpar showing, allowing the AL to hang several runs on him and put the game away.

Bryce Harper went 0 for 3 in his third All Star Game, facing three lefties.
Bryce Harper went 0 for 3 in his third All Star Game, facing three lefties.

Bryce Harper didn’t have a great showing in the game because the American League was able to trot out three left-handed pitchers against him.

All in all, the story was about Trout, Pete Rose being involved in the game, the five living legends who walked on the field before the game (really special moment), and the city of Cincinnati showing what a great baseball town it truly is; even if the Reds are about to hold a full-fledged firesale.

I regretted not being there for this game. I pictured myself there for years leading up to it since the day it was announced – but with the way the game unfolded – I was happy I didn’t spend the $700 or so for a subpar seat and cost my family all that money.

Padres as Sellers this Deadline

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As the MLB season nears its all-star break, teams are beginning to make projections on where they will end up when the 162nd game is over. In addition to making projections, teams will also start to really focus on the upcoming trade deadline of July 31st. By this date teams must decide if they are buyers or sellers. Buyers usually think they have a chance at the playoffs, while sellers are rebuilding for next year.

The San Diego padres could fit either description, but are more likely sellers this season.

Important Aspects of the Deadline

While the basics of the trade deadline have remained relatively unchanged throughout the years, the teams that participate in deadline deals has. With the addition of the extra wild card team, more teams feel like buyers at the deadline.

Another important aspect is the existence of two deadlines. The non-waiver trade deadline is July 31 and the commissioner’s office must have all trade information by that day in order for the trade to go through. During this time teams may trade whoever they please, for anything they can get in return. Many sellers use this time to move players who will command large contracts the next year. That way they can get prospects and other players in return, if that player were to leave in free agency, the team would only receive a draft pick in return for them leaving.

A common misconception is that there are no trades made after the deadline, this is not true. However, players traded after the July 31 deadline must pass through waivers before joining the new team. When a players is placed on waivers he must be offered to every team, in reverse order of the standings. The catch is that any team who claims that player must pay his entire contract; any team can pick up the player, but they must be committed to using him and paying his contract. Less trades are made during this period, but they are possible.

The Padres as Sellers

The San Diego Padres are an interesting case this year, because of the moves they have already made. The Padres were active this off season bringing in Matt Kemp, Wil Meyers, Derek Norris, and Justin Upton. Additionally, they traded for closer Craig Kimbrel and outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. early this season to try and bolster a lineup that has been sub-par for the last few years.

Even after bringing in bigger name players though, the Padres find themselves struggling to get above 4th place in their division. Complicating the situation further is the Dodgers and Giants, who seem to have a stranglehold at the top of the division. Competing with those two perennial powers in the NL West will require more than just big names, they’ll need players that play to their expectations.

Fortunately, the league is set up for San Diego to make some potentially great moves. With a large number of teams in contention for their division and the wild card, more teams are looking to buy than sell; which puts San Diego in a great position. One thing that is going to be a hot commodity this trade deadline is bats, of which San Diego has a few that could make a difference for a team in a pennant race.

One player that it could make sense to move, is Justin Upton. While Upton has slumped a bit recently, he does bring power and past production for any team needing a bat to stay relevant in the playoff race. Additionally, Upton’s contract is up after this season and the Padres would much rather receive prospects and draft picks, as opposed to the one pick they would get if Upton leaves during free agency.

The padres could also stand to move Will Venable and Yonder Alonso. Alonso leads the team in average and is arbitration eligible two more years before hitting the free agent market. They could take advantage of his hot hitting and net a good return for him. Venable hasn’t produced this year as he has in the past, but either of these players could be good pick-ups for teams that are starving for offense.

Unfortunately, the padres don’t have much in the way of pitching to deal. Ian Kennedy is another player whose contract is up after the season, but due to his production the padres wouldn’t get a lot in return for him. If they are true sellers however, Kennedy could be attractive to a team that needs pitching, and doesn’t mind a bit of a project. While the Padres could make a late run at the postseason, they are more likely sellers this deadline.

Seeing the Greatest Derby in Baseball History: The Night The ToddFather ruled the Home Run Derby World

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I saw the greatest Home Run Derby of all time last night live and in person at Great American Ballpark. Here are some notes, and you can click through for the photos.

  • That national anthem, sung by Marlana VanHoose was awesome. Should have known after hearing that it was going to be a special night.
  • And if the anthem wasn’t enough; in the first round when Sean Casey caught that random ball off the bat of Josh Donaldson; the Redlegs should have known it was going to be a night of good fortune.
  • Last night was the loudest I have ever heard Great American Ballpark in any capacity. The crowd was rabid, ferocious, and absolutely wore themselves out for Todd Frazier. I screamed at points until my throat felt like leather.
  • They’ll talk about what Todd Frazier did last night forever in Cincinnati. This will be one of those things that is replayed forever in Cincinnati sports lore and in Home Run Derby moments, and I was there to see it.
  • It was amazing how bad the weather was before – and after the derby – yet it was perfect for that several hour window to watch all the All Stars take batting practice and of course watch Todd Frazier create the signature moment of All Star week.
  • Bryce Harper hit about three moonshot home runs in batting practice in a row into the teeth of a pretty good crosswind blowing right to left in right field.
  • I almost got a foul ball from Todd Frazier’s nephew during batting practice. Yet, some guy using a glove slapped it out of my grasp. Opportunity gone forever.
  • I really liked the new Home Run Derby format. Without it, we weren’t given the dramatics and buzzer beaters.
  • Pretty sure I saw grown men crying in the crowd after Todd won the Derby and  Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ was blaring on the loudspeakers. A special moment. It is hard to get chills anymore at a sporting event, but I had them last night.
  • All Star Fanfest was really cool – probably the best collection of sports memorabilia I’ve ever seen as part of a charity auction in one room of Fanfest – but we were only able to stay for a short while because we wanted to get in to the stadium when the park opened.
  • The Reds are about to decapitate their team core; yet in this disappointing season of losing, Todd Frazier lifted the Reds and their franchise for a night at the center of the baseball world. As we left the park, we were yelling about being winners with other fans. I saw drunk people running down 5th & Vine street traffic giving high fives to cars. Cincinnati loves an All Star game.

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The Home Run Derby is tomorrow in Cincinnati, and we’ll be there

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It’s so hard to believe it’s the All Star Break. Where the heck has this summer gone? I think having an eight month old makes the summer feel like it’s five minutes long.

That said, the festivities take place in our home state this year. Because our wife is lovely, she surprised us with tickets to the derby. This won’t be our first derby – we went in 1997 when it was at Jacobs Field when some guy named Nomar Garciaparra won the Rookie Home Run Derby and Tino Martinez won the real thing – but we are definitely excited since it’s been some 18 years since we’ve seen an event like this live.

Chris Berman will be there on the mic to drown out our conversations with friends and other fans. The derby is sponsored by Head and Shoulders. We just now realized that we just don’t watch ESPN anymore for baseball coverage. Back when we attended our last derby, Berman and company from the Worldwide Leader in sports were almost as famous to us as the players participating in it.

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This year, the field leaves a little to be desired but there’s still a lot to like. We kind of hope Anthony Rizzo wins the thing, or the Toddfather in front of the home town crowd. It’s kind of cool that old Albert Pujols is doing the event again and still relevant in a home run hitting contest. It’s still a little bit of a bummer that Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, and Mike Trout can’t be part of the contest; but it’s a damn good time and we just want to see guys hit some Nintendo game shots in that bandbox down in the Queen City.

A full report of all we see and experience to come!

Bryce Harper gets one at fabled Camden Yards

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You know the drill by now. Bryce Harper hit his 26th home run of the season and 81st of his career on Saturday night baseball out at Camden Yards off good old Miguel Gonzalez.

It was the second fastest off the bat in his career according to ESPN Stats & Info, the speed off the bat was 115.4 MPH and the ball traveled an estimated 411 feet.

The Nationals recorded a 7-4 win in Baltimore to even the Beltway series.

Your Saturday Baseball Post

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It doesn’t seem like almost twenty years ago that these two Goliath’s of the game took aim at the original home run record. It’s hard to believe that on this date in 1998, Mark McGwire already had 38 home runs and Sammy Sosa had 35; Sosa just wrapping up a June I remember very well with 20 alone in that calendar month.

There will be no legendary home run chase this season. There are a few guys with a shot at hitting 50, which seems like the new high-water mark in today’s game. With all the flamethrowers that will take the mound today in a starting role and in relief, that’s still pretty impressive.

It’s one of the nicest days of the summer outside. Summer is fading very quickly, and just a few short weeks from now we’ll be talking about the kids being back in school and the pennant races wrapping up. Time flies in life and in baseball.

Your 1980’s song of the week that should be played on a loud speaker at a ballpark near you is one that everyone knows.

Enjoy your Saturday. Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers.

A Noble amount of scoring in the Friday Gentleman’s Game

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The Friday Gentleman’s Game Cup Series rolled onwards last night with three members crossing the 100 picket line and two others coming very close to the milestone. All scoring was led by Swindaman3 who nearly reached the 150 plateau with his 149.95 points and the weekly Gents Game win.

Swindaman3 went with an unconventional play of Melvin Upton Jr. against Wandy Rodriguez, and it paid off in a big way with the lesser Upton brother scoring 20 points. If you had Danny Salazar last night as Swindaman3 did, you probably were in a good position to win money because Mr. Jekyll and Hyde himself threw a gem against the Athletics. Noah Syndergaard and his 42+ points was owned by three owners – but Swindaman3 laid Thor’s effort to waste.

Things are very tight in the yearly standings, with just a single point separating our top two contestants and a tie for the bottom between two more, with our own t3bird04 being the meat of this Gentleman’s Game sandwich.

Yearly Standings:
DStars45 – 43.5 points
Swindaman3 – 42.5 Points
t3bird04 – 39 Points
Diamondhoggers – 36 points
Jsquad34 – 36 Points

Here’s a copy of the winning recipe that made Swindaman3 a very talked about man in the DFS baseball spectrum on Friday night:

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It is nice to know you can achieve such a nice score by just picking guys at every position who will offer some scoring – you don’t have to stack to be successful in this game of gentleman, as Swindman3 proved. In fact, you can be quite successful at MLB DFS by involving Melvin Upton Jr. and Justin Verlander. It is worth noting that Diamondhoggers used the services of Erasmo Ramirez (aka ‘The Gardener) and these services went to waste.

So what will happen next week? Will anyone have the audacity to use Melvin Upton Jr. once again? Will Josh Donaldson and Mitch Moreland decide to take another zero in a matchup that favors them? Will Shin-soo Choo continue to score ‘2’ or ‘3’ like he always does when we look his way? Every man in this contest wants so badly to reach for this brass ring of fantasy glory, but we can only reach for said ring on Friday’s. You must tune in next week to find out how the saga of the gentleman’s game plays out. We are at the All-Star Break and there is still time for salvation, but the sands in the hourglass are running thin.

The rise of South African baseball

If there’s one thing that can really unite South Africa as a country, it’s the love of sport. And whilst the nation’s cricket and rugby teams may often grab more global headlines, the emergent South African baseball scene has recently started to gain momentum.

South African emergence

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The Rainbow Nation made their first big impression on the international baseball circuit in 2006 where a team of amateur players headed to the prestigious World Baseball Classic championships. Although many were questioning the ability of the team, they quickly defied the doubters by nearly causing a huge upset to the established Canadian baseball team.

This has mirrored the rise of baseball as a rapidly rising sport in South Africa. Facilitated by the likes of the South Africa Baseball Union, the game has managed to bridge the divided country by offering a game that is relatively untouched by the struggles of the past.

And now the sport has reached a pivotal point where it has started entering the national consciousness, with many supporting the national team and enjoying baseball themed games at Springbok Casino that reflect on the emerging popularity of this game.

Origins

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The route that South African baseball has taken has been somewhat unorthodox, but in a way, it mirrors the nation’s idiosyncratic relationship with the world.

The game was first introduced to South Africa in 1895 when a group of American migrants who arrived on the shores in response to the gold rush that preceded the Boer War settled in the Transvaal province. It was here that they brought baseball equipment, taught the rules of the game, and even set up an official league in 1899.

Interestingly, given the cosmopolitan nature of the Rainbow Nation, there was also a big Japanese influence in the development of the game. This is because in 1934 a group of Japanese sailors had to wait three months for their next ship home, and in the ensuing period they played a game with the American locals at the Westbourne Oval in Port Elizabeth. The resulting success of the match quickly led to the development of the Easter Province Baseball Association.

Golden age

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From here, South African baseball grew at a fairly organic rate despite lack of financial assistance and political infighting.

The 1950s are often considered a golden era for South African baseball as it was during this time that audience numbers started swelling, and matches were held at many prestigious sporting arenas, often attracting the support of many American owned companies.

However, with international pressure on the Apartheid system restricting foreign interest, the game began to suffer as the century progressed. But with the recent political advances, baseball appears to be enjoying a long sought after resurgence this this sports-mad nation.

Mike Trout’s Onslaught of Coors Field this past week

This should have been up on the blog a lot earlier in the week, but hey we’ve been busy. Mike Trout played a short two game slate at Coors Field this past week. What follows is the carnage he left in his wake.

Mike Trout is already superhuman. When you drop him in a run-scoring environment like Coors Field, he morphs into a mutant and shit like this happens.

If this was Johnny Cueto’s last start as a Red, it was a beauty

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There was no way Johnny Cueto was coming out of this game in the ninth inning. Not before, and not during. The Reds are showcasing the durability of their workhorse ace – 122 pitches later he shutout the Nationals in Washington and beat Max Scherzer soundly.

The Reds gave Cueto a little tribute tonight, staking him to five early runs. Cueto struck out eleven and walked one. It was an absolutely dominant performance.

It certainly seems like a forgone conclusion that the Reds will be supplying teams with some weaponry here soon, with Cueto headlining those names.

I remember Cueto’s first start ever – it was April 3rd, 2008 against the Arizona DiamondBacks in Cincinnati. He had similar stuff on that day, striking out ten and walking only one. The only hit he gave up that day was a sixth inning home run to Justin Upton. From right there I knew Cueto was a special international talent the Reds were lucky enough to grab somehow.

He’s gone 91-62 with 11 complete games and five shutouts in his career as a Red. He’s tallied 1106 strikeouts and just 385 walks. His ERA pitching half his starts in a bandbox is around 3.20, phenomenal.

These eight years that have passed by have went by all too quickly. You look back at the memories and realize that he’s probably the best Reds pitcher to wear the uniform in a couple of decades. As you think about the memories, you remember that night he pulled the muscle in his side in 2012 in San Francisco. You start thinking about ‘what if’. If he doesn’t, the Reds just might (and in our opinion) probably go to the World Series that year. The Giants flag that flies forever from 2012 should have belonged to the Reds.

Perhaps Cueto moves on elsewhere to get that postseason glory with another team – we have a feeling he will – and if he does good for him. He’s been a quiet guy that has stayed out of trouble and made headlines for the right reasons. A team shouldn’t really ever have to part with a Johnny Cueto but it’s just not in the Reds fortunes or pockets to be able to contain him. Baseball is still after all; a business.

Cueto doesn’t need us to eulogize him as a Red, he did that just fine tonight. It’s been a pleasure getting to watch this guy every fifth day and to see him pitch a handful of times in person. He’s the epitome of what an ‘ace’ is in baseball right now.

Miguel Sano hits his first MLB Home Run

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Young Miguel Sano seems like a fun kid. He (along with Byron Buxton) are going to make the Twins a lot of fun to watch over the next decade or so. We’ve kind of had Sano on our radar since watching the documentary Pelotero.

Tonight, Sano wrote a new chapter in the book. Look at this arching parabola home run he gets into in the Twin Cities in front of the home crowd.

Kevin Gausman got knocked around the yard as per usual and the Twins won the game 8-3. Any time a highly heralded prospect like Sano does something like this, we have to document it. This could be the first of three or four hundred round-trippers.

Sano will force us to use the Twins tag a lot more often. The Twinkies are 45-39 right now, one of the better stories in baseball as we near the All Star Break.

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