Category Archives: Baseball

Where Have You Gone, Willie Mays?

AP Photo
AP Photo

No doubt, if you are a sports fan, you’ve noticed a couple of things. First, there is a vast disparity between the major sports in terms of color within that sport. Secondly, in some sports, there is virtually no diversity.

According to a report by Henry Johnson of the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, for example, there are issues with diversity in basketball. The NBA, WNBA, and NFL are predominantly African-American, while MLB and MLS are predominantly Anglo.

Screen-Shot-2014-07-11-at-5.46.36-PM
Harvard Sports Analysis Collective

 

In a story written by Paul Hagen for MLB.com, fewer African-Americans are playing in Major League Baseball today than two decades ago; the percentage was 8.5 percent on this season’s Opening Day rosters. Some have estimated that number to be around 27% in the 1970s, but exhaustive research by Mark Armour, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, shows that the actual number never exceeded 19 percent.

So, what is Major League Baseball doing about this? Commissioner Bud Selig announced in April the formation of a task force to tackle the issue of on-field diversity.

“To be fair, the numbers have dropped. I believe the numbers have dropped from 18-19 percent, which is what they were for about two decades. From the 1970s through the ’90s, the numbers were in the high teens. Now they’re half that,” said Armour, who writes software for the Environmental Protection Agency. “What I determined, and I analyzed data from 1947, when Jackie Robinson made his debut up to 1986, is that the number never got to 20 percent. The black-player number, counting all dark-skinned players, was in the high 20s for a period. But not the African-American number. All the press stuff that comes out every April compares the African-American numbers from today with the all-black-players number from the ’70s. And that’s where they make their mistake.”

Even with all his data, Armour can’t fully explain why fewer African-Americans are playing big league baseball beyond the fact that there are so many players of other ethnicities, primarily Latin American and Asian, now in the game.

Let me hazard a guess: MONEY.

First off, where is the allure for baseball? While it may be “America’s Pastime,” the money can be made elsewhere. The NBA has shoe endorsements and multi-million dollar contracts. In my job as an educator, I come in contact with many athletes. 98% tell me that they are going to play basketball in the NBA or play football in the NFL. The NFL has popularity and name recognition. If you play in the NFL, chances are good that you are well known, at least in your region. Same is said for basketball.

The NFL and NBA have a sexiness to them. Major League Baseball has a workman ethic. Not sexy, but more of a grind. While the NFL has a 16-game season, and the NBA has a 82-game season, Major League Baseball has a whopping 162 games. With football being played once a week, it captures more attention. An NBA team may play 2-3 games in a week’s time, but baseball plays almost every day. Perhaps it’s a case of oversaturation?

SLAM Magazine
SLAM Magazine

The NFL is at an all-time high in popularity and the NBA is very visible with stars like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and James Harden. The NFL has superstars like Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, and Tom Brady, among others.  Major League Baseball has stars like Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, and others. Notice a trend? The majority of superstar athletes that play in the NBA and NFL are African-American; the majority of superstars in MLB are Anglo or Hispanic.

Why? Again, I go back to the money issue. Who remembers the Peyton Manning commercials where he chants, “Cut that meat!”?

Who remembers the McDonald’s commercial where Larry Bird and Magic Johnson play HORSE for a meal?

Remember that baseball commercial where…uh…where…ah…well…you get my point. Major League Baseball doesn’t have that appeal to fans, although you will always have diehard fans who keep scorebooks at games. When’s the last time you went to a football game and kept a book for penalties called? When’s the last time you saw someone keeping a book at a basketball game?

Check out these numbers provided by the NCAA.

baseball_0

football_0 mbb_0

In these statistics from the NCAA, you can clearly see that NOT MANY athletes make the cut. Many boys and girls grow up dreaming of playing sports in college and the pro ranks. But of the nearly eight million students currently participating in high school athletics in the United States, only 460,000 of them will compete at NCAA schools. And of that group, only a fraction will realize their goal of becoming a professional athlete.

The sad part is, while some athletes are good enough to play in college, their grades will not get them into college. That frequently forces them go to Junior College where some, if not all, never make it out.

USATSI
USATSI

Baseball is the only sport now that allows players from high school to go straight to the pro’s. Noah Syndergaard, a pitcher from Mansfield Legacy High School in Texas, went from high school to the New York Mets farm club. He is currently on the major league roster.

The NBA has enforced the “one and done” rule, requesting high school basketball prospects to wait at least one year before declaring for the draft. Contrary to popular belief, the NBA does not require athletes to attend one year of college, but they must wait an entire year or be at least 19 years old to declare for the draft.

The NFL will not draft a player from HS. They prefer the player have at least 2 years in college. More underclassmen are declaring for the draft, and more and more are going UNDRAFTED.

Sexy vs. the Grind. Which would you choose?

Which brings me back to my first question: Where have you gone, Willie Mays?


Ronnie Garcia is the Voice of Reason at The Scoop. He is also an avid guitarist, educator, and all around smarmy guy. You can follow him on twitter @TheRonMann.

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Tales of Unsigned First Round HS Pitchers, Part 1

UTSanDiego.com
UTSanDiego.com

When the Astros and Brady Aiken, their first overall pick in the 2014 draft, failed to reach agreement at the signing deadline, the entire baseball world was utterly flabbergasted. A couple days after the draft, the 6’4”, 210 lbs, southpaw reportedly accepted the Astros‘  original signing bonus offer which came out at $6.5 million.

However, an MRI discovered something physically unusual in Aiken‘s pitching arm – an abnormally undersized UCL. Concerning about the potential risk of Tommy John surgery, the Astros reduced their offer to $3.16 million. Aiken and Casey Close, his adviser, didn’t like the move, and the sides moved apart. The Astros increased their offer to $5 million at the very end, but Aiken never took it.

As a result, Aiken joined the club of “unsigned overall 1st picks in the history of the baseball draft” as the 3rd member, which consists Danny Goodwin from June 1973 and Tim Belcher from January 1983.

Now we know how it turned out. Aiken joined IMG Academy‘s post-graduate program to reboot his stock for the upcoming 2015 draft. Unfortunately, in his first outing with the squad, he exited the game after just 12 pitches due to an elbow injury that eventually required him to undergo Tommy John surgery – just like the Astros foresaw.

Even though he’s unable to throw for another few months, Aiken is seen as a first round pick in the 2015 draft, although it’s hard to see someone offering him $5 million again. So, in hindsight, Aiken should have taken the Astros‘ final offer, even if it was an insult to him.

This led me to wonder how these stories ended up in previous cases. Using Baseball America‘s Draft Database, there have been 12 pitchers, other than Aiken, who went unsigned when they were drafted out of high school since 1987 when they ditched the January draft.

In this 2-part series, I inspected how life treated each case. Some gained benefit from the decision, while some others went on to disastrous careers.


Alex Fernandez, 24th overall, 1988 

Spokeo
Spokeo

Fernandez forewent the Brewers‘ $110,000 signing bonus offer to attend a Miami area JuCo. After transferring to University of Miami after his Freshmen year and spending a spectacular campaign as a Hurricane, he went as the 4th overall pick in the 1990 draft and signed a $350,000 bonus with the White Sox. He spent 10 years in the big leagues before shoulder injury cut his career short at the age of 30.  The Cuban descendant put up a career 115 ERA+, and struck out 1252 while walking 552, in 1760.1 innings.


Scott Burrell, 26th overall, 1989

Burrell, a 6’5″ right-hander out of Hamden High School in Connecticut, was also known as a basketball star. He turned down the Mariners‘ offer, which was reportedly more than $110,000, to play basketball at University of Connecticut.  After being selected in the 5th round in the next year’s draft by the Blue Jays, and signed for “first round money,” Burrell played briefly in their farm system over the parts of two following seasons.

Inside Hoops
Inside Hoops

His professional baseball career wasn’t as successful as his basketball one, which lasted more than seven years in the NBA.

 


Chad Hutchinson: 26th overall , 1995

Much like Burrell, the San Diego native stood at 6’5″ and was known as a two-sport athlete in high school, though he was a baseball-football guy.  He was selected 26th overall in the 1995 draft by the Braves, who offered a $1.5 million signing bonus.  Rather than playing in the minor leagues for the next few years, Hutchinson accepted a two-sport scholarship from Stanford University, where he pitched for the baseball team in the spring, and played quarterback for football team in the fall over the next 3 years.  With

AP Photo
AP Photo

an MVP award in the Sun Bowl and a trip to the College World Series under his belt, Hutchinson re-entered the draft in 1998. He went with the 48th overall pick this time, and signed a $3.4 million major league contract with the Cardinals. He could have gone higher than that, in fact, there were buzzes from some evaluators that considered him as the best pitching prospect in the class, but many teams thought it would be tough to sign a deal with him; hence, he slipped this low.  Despite breaking camp with the Cardinals in 2001, he got sent back to triple-A after an obscene 24.75 ERA and 17.05 FIP in 4.0 innings, and he never made another

AP Photo
AP Photo

appearance as a big league pitcher. After his baseball career came to an end after the 2001 season, Hutchinson went on to play QB for the Cowboys and the Bears, but his career in NFL lasted no longer than 3 years.


Matt Harrington, 7th overall, 2000

If William Shakespeare wrote a story about baseball,  it would be about Matt Harrington. This is arguably the saddest and most tragic story in baseball draft history.

Entering the 2000 draft out of Palmdale HS near Los Angeles, the right-hander attracted scouts everywhere from the States with his 98 MPH fastball. Baseball America, Gatorade, and USA Today named him the best high school player in the nation that year. Due to signability concern, he slipped to the Rockies’ pick, 7th overall. Their $2.2 million initial offer was far apart from Harrington’s asking price, $4.95 million. Negotiations after negotiations, the Rockies finally offered that $4.9 million, but it was as a salary over 8 years, and forced him to give up 3 arbitration years. Tony Tanzer, Harrington’s adviser, insisted that he reject the offer. And the sides never came close thereafter.

ESPN OTL
ESPN OTL

After a brief 19-inning stint with the St. Paul Saints,  one of the most well-known independent league clubs, Harrington re-entered the draft in 2001. Losing the fastball velocity he once possessed, as well as his stock as a player, he slipped to the 58th overall pick with the Padres. Their offer was somewhere around $1.2 million. Scott Boras, who had taken over the role as Harrington‘s  new adviser, told him not to take it.  Once again, he did not sign.

His fall from grace continued.

Harrington spent another year in independent ball, splitting time between the Long Beach Breakers and the Fort Worth Cats.  The Rays took him in the 13th round of the 2002 draft, but he didn’t take the offer.

5 more seasons in independent ball, 2 more draft selections and rejections, and one not-so-impressive spring training with the Cubs later, Harrington found himself working at Costco as a tire-repairer, for 11 and a half bucks an hour.

This is an extreme case of a player falling off a cliff after turning down big money. You can read more about the sad saga of Matt Harrington in this ESPN story,  written by Amy K. Nelson back in 2009.

This is part 1 of 2-piece series. Part 2 will be out later date.


Kazuto Yamazaki is a Contributor at The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @Kazuto_Yamazaki.

My Life with Josh

“I’m not a hero. I’m not the savior.  Forget what you know.  I’m just a man whose circumstances went beyond his control, beyond my control.  We all need control.  I need control.  We all need control.”  — Dennis DeYoung

I am not an addict, although sweet tea comes really close for me.  I will not pretend to be an expert on addiction.  I know enough to know that addiction is hell.

However, I do live with an addict in my sports life.  His name is Josh Hamilton.  He left me for a couple of years, thinking there was more out there for him than me.  Now, suddenly Josh is walking back into my life.

And as a Texas Rangers fan…I am conflicted.


In the fall of 2007, the Texas Rangers had A-Rod money to spend after Alex opted out of his Rangers deal and inked a new deal with New York.  With a full wallet, they searched for a big-time centerfielder through free agency or trade.  Rumors swirled around Torii Hunter, Jim Edmonds, Rocco Baldelli, Aaron Rowand, Coco Crisp, and Juan Pierre.   (Yes, THAT Aaron Rowand.)

AP Photo
AP Photo

Just before Christmas, they found their new centerfielder when they traded prized pitching prospect Edinson Volquez to Cincinnati for Josh Hamilton.  Hamilton finally made it to the big leagues in 2007 with the Reds, after years where great promise succumbed to near-fatal addictions.  While sabermetricians predicted good things for Hamilton hitting in The Ballpark in Arlington, Ranger fans boned up on his backstory and hoped for the best.

And wow, did we ever get the best.

Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News

I had a late business meeting in downtown Dallas the night of the 2008 Home Run Derby.  I’ll never know how I drove home safely that night, because tears rolled down my face the whole way as I listened to Hamilton’s performance on the radio.  As ball after ball landed in the farthest reaches of Ruth’s House, and Yankees fans cheered, I could not help feeling joy for Josh realizing his God-given potential on a national stage.  Swear to God, we could have gotten anything the Yankees had if we had offered them Josh Hamilton the next morning.

The Rangers still were not very good yet, but Josh had a great year.  He settled into the area, shared his Christian witness with church youth groups, and quickly became a fan favorite.   He hit baseballs a helluva long way and he threw his body all over center field with abandon.  He provided electric moments and incredible memories for five seasons at Rangers Ballpark.

Occasionally, I listen to Eric Nadel’s call of the walkoff home run Josh hit on July 9, 2011.  That was two nights after fan Shannon Stone tragically fell to his death while reaching for a ball Josh tossed to him and his son.  That homer, that healing moment in time, still gives me chills listening to it today. The video below is from the television broadcast. What a moment it was.

From 2008 – 2012, Josh Hamilton was a baseball beast.

Of course, when we got Baseball Beast Josh, we also got the other Josh.  Snarky Josh with the media.  Silly Josh at Maloney’s Tavern.  Crazy Josh at Sherlock’s.  Whining Josh who blamed his hitting slumps variously on energy drinks, quitting tobacco, personal sin, day games, and his own blue eyes.

THAT Josh.  Recovering Addict Josh.

For five seasons, Josh Hamilton was the greatest player in Texas Rangers history.  He also was our most fascinating character, a volatile mix of testosterone, ego, moodiness, self-doubt, and relapse potential.  He played with a youthful abandon on the field, yet sometimes displayed juvenile behavior off the field.

ESPN
ESPN

Josh’s party in Texas ended in September 2012.  A hitting slump became protracted.  In the last game of the season, with the AL West division on the line, he dropped a crucial fly ball in Oakland.  When he failed to produce at the plate in the Wild Card game, Rangers fans turned on him and booed lustily after each at-bat.  The Rangers lost to Baltimore that night, and the free agent outfielder took his high-wire act to SoCal.

There, he sealed his fate with Texas fans when he famously declared that Dallas-Fort Worth is “not a baseball town.”  He was right, of course, but it still was a cheap shot at Ranger Nation.  Fans dissed him loudly whenever the Angels came to town.

USA Today
USA Today

Soon, Hamilton also lost Angels fans, as his hitting troubles continued and his body began to give out on him.  Off the field, his marriage unraveled.  When he admitted to MLB a still-mysterious relapse of his addictions last February, his Anaheim situation completely tanked.  Owner Arte Moreno could not wait to dump his highly-paid player, believing the relapse was disloyal to his benevolent ownership and toward Hamilton’s teammates.  Texas answered Moreno’s call.

That is how Josh Hamilton ended up on my doorstep, knocking sheepishly and wanting to come home.


Addiction knows no seasons.  When you are on top of the world, feeling secure and invulnerable, the addiction feeds on that.  When you are down in the dumps, feeling unloved and incapable, the addiction feeds on that, too.  It’s why addiction is so insidious.  It attacks you, no matter your mood, no matter your circumstance.

Living with a recovering addict is difficult.  It is not a matter of IF they will break your heart again, but WHEN.   All of your love and support and counsel cannot make the addiction just go away.  You never take the good times for granted.  You pray the bad times are not too bad.


Sometime in 2012, Josh Hamilton lost his mojo.  Baseball came so easy for Josh from childhood on, but now he scuffles around, looking for that magic moment when it all clicks into place and he becomes a beast again.  Hamilton lives for the cheers and chants—needs them, really—but those are far fewer and much farther apart now.

AP Photo
AP Photo

After the latest relapse, Arte Moreno wanted Hamilton to grow up, man up, and stop his self-destructive behavior.  Moreno may not understand addiction.  Josh is not stupid, immature, disloyal, or intentionally self-destructive.  He is an addict.  Every skill, every decision, every emotion, every relationship is at risk every minute of every day from the addiction.  Addiction is not an excuse.  It is a driving force.

Josh Hamilton will never be a Baseball Beast again.  He did not find the formula in Anaheim.  It appears he may have started remembering the formula during rehab stints in Round Rock and Frisco.  Can he help this 2015 Rangers offense?  Sure, but only because this offense is So. Freaking. Awful.

Baseball Beast Josh is gone forever.  Recovering Addict Josh lives on.  All of this begs the question, then, “Why will I let Josh Hamilton back into my sports life now?”

Simply put, Josh Hamilton touches my heart.

After all, this is not Alex Rodriguez or Barry Bonds, two cruddy personalities who screwed royally with the integrity of the game I love.  He is not Josh Brent who killed a man, or Ray Rice who cold-cocked a woman.  He is not Floyd Mayweather, thank God, a pathetic excuse for a man.  Hamilton is not a stain on civil society or on the game of baseball.

Austin American Statesman
Austin American Statesman

Josh Hamilton is merely a fallen human, a kid in an adult’s aging body who just wants to play baseball like he thinks he still can.  I root for him because I’m fallen, too.  We all are.  He wants to be better at life, and so do I.  I want him to succeed, not just as a Texas Ranger, but much more importantly as a man.  I want him to succeed for his kids and for the kids who wore his last name on their backs for years.

Mine are not the ramblings of a sentimental sap pining for days past.  I know what I’m getting myself into as Josh returns to the Rangers.  Hamilton will piss me off sometimes.  He may get on a hot streak and thrill me for a week or two.  I’m ready for both, if it means that the guy underneath the uniform gets a little more sober and a little more healed.

I listened to his April 27 press conference when both Joshes took questions from reporters.  Baseball Beast Josh got testy over the pointed queries about his aborted time in Anaheim and what he can possibly give Texas on the field.  Recovering Addict Josh talked openly and unashamed about his need for control, having people around him who love him and try to protect him from himself.

Cockiness mixed with concession.   Good grief, it all felt so familiar.


When I met my wife, she knew nothing about baseball.  I took her to her first major league game in 1994.  Over the last 20 years of following the Rangers with me, she has loved only two players:  Ivan Rodriguez and Josh Hamilton.  She still has her Josh memorabilia, even though that dumb “baseball town” statement ticked her off. She roots for him, too, so much so that she got emotional as I read her this article.

Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News

I’ve seen Josh play a few times at the Ballpark since he joined the Angels.  I never once booed him as thousands of others did.  Josh Hamilton played a huge role in a magical era for Rangers fans, and for that he always will have this fan’s gratitude and ongoing support.

So if returning to Arlington helps you on your journey, Josh, then welcome home, brother.  Have some iced Gold Peak with me.  My door is open.

Even so, you will break my heart again.   I know it.   It’s just a matter of time.


Bobby Quinten is a Contributor at The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @BobbyQuinten.

 

Ballpark Memories of Palmer & Murphy, and One Giant Hot Dog

MLB
MLB

What started out as a seemingly normal family outing to the ballpark to take in some Major League Baseball this past weekend turned out to be a great moment of reflection for me. Not only was it one year to the day since I sat in that very same stadium and, sadly, saw my team lose, but I was also reminded of a couple of former players who made an impact on me. This particular game between the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians would turn out to be quite memorable, and no, not just for the rather large hot dog bun, filled to the edges with chili and cheese and corn chips. (I believe the dog itself was buried underneath, somewhere.)

WKYC.com
WKYC.com

As the Cleveland Indians lined up to bat in the top half of the 1st inning, I soon directed my attention to a familiar face, outfielder David Murphy. While I would say he was a significant fan favorite to the Rangers faithful, there was nothing about his stats in the seven seasons he played here which really stood out. He was a consistently inconsistent hitter and fielder, with moderately unimpressive numbers overall, but stats alone are not what makes every professional athlete popular with the fans.

ESPN
ESPN

Think for an moment about your personal relationships. What are the aspects that make one stand out? We tend to forget the good times when one bad moment occurs, and visa-versa. Either way, the relationship made an impact on your life, and the reason(s) why do not always matter. For me, Murphy was oddly similar to a former Rangers favorite from a generation ago: Dean Palmer. Now, I realize that one is a lefty while the other was a righty. They do not play the same position on the field, either, but when I think about what made me like Palmer versus what makes me like Murphy, that’s where I draw the comparison, and what ultimately makes Murphy memorable, regardless of his overall production.

CBS Sports
CBS Sports

I can point to specific moments, for both of these men, when the game was on the line and everyone in the world watching was thinking, “Oh, no. I’m not sure he can get it done.” Neither Murphy nor Palmer is the type of player who gives you total confidence that you can depend on, but that quality is actually what made those moments of pressure so much greater. You see, when a great hitter steps up, you expect greatness, no matter what. When a poor hitter steps up to the plate, you don’t expect anything. However, when a spotty hitter, such as Palmer or Murphy walks up, you really don’t know what to expect, even when their history has shown you exactly what you should expect. These guys are relatable because we as human beings are known to be unpredictable. We often say we don’t like drama, yet that is most often what we are drawn to.

As I continued digesting my chili cheese monstrosity, I soon discovered another reason why Murphy reminded not just me, but at least one other fan, of why he is reminiscent of Palmer. It came late in the game, the top half of the 7th, to be precise. The score was close, and Murphy was the batter for Cleveland. A fan to my right shouted something to the effect of, “I miss you, Murphy!” Someone behind him asked if he was serious, and the former rescinded his statement, explaining it away as a joke, proceeding to say that Murphy couldn’t hit. Whether I was just caught up in the moment and felt the urge to go on the defense, I posited with the quip, “He’s clutch.”

Much like Palmer, who, also, was not a consistently good hitter, he often delivers the goods when it really counts. Could it be that this is the crux of why fans miss a guy like Murphy? I don’t know, but we all enjoy feeling we are in the right when someone nods along  and echoes your sentiment just seconds after you have made a claim and are proven correct.

Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News

As for the rest of the game, the big inning for the visiting Tribe came in the top half of the 9th. The bottom of the order was on deck, and it seemed that the Rangers should have the game in the bag, but closer Neftali Feliz gave up a crucial walk to an unimpressive batter, and a throwing error on a near game-ending double play kept the Indians alive long enough to send red-hot second baseman Jason Kipnis to the plate, who launched a two-run blast beyond right field, granting Cleveland a 10-8 lead. Texas had come from behind several times throughout the game, but came up short when they needed it the most.

By the end of the night, I had enjoyed a competitive game of Major League Baseball, and taken myself on an unexpected trip down memory lane with David Murphy and Dean Palmer. My parents were quick to retreat back home, and I merrily made my way with a flashback to where I was exactly one year ago to the day: At a double-digit Rangers drubbing at the hands of the Chicago White Sox. This May’s game was much more exciting, but in the end, a loss is still a loss. At least I have my memories… And the chili stains on my shirt.


Alex Moore is a Contributor at The Scoop.

Baseball Fan Rules

NY Post
NY Post

I have been going to baseball games since 1985. As a fan, I have noticed over the years that there are many unwritten rules that are not being followed by spectators.

As of today, they are unwritten no longer! I am going to lay down the law.

Orange County Register
Orange County Register

1. You cannot wear a jersey for a player that is no longer on your team unless said player is retired. Example: Texas Rangers fans still showing up at games wearing Josh Hamilton jerseys. I don’t care if you still like the guy, but he’s on another team and thus the enemy.

2. If you are a grown man, don’t bring a glove to the game. You have hands. Use them. Plus, it impresses the ladies more when you barehand catch a ball.

MLB.tv
MLB.tv

3. Attention all grown-ups: If you catch a foul ball give it to the nearest kid. Trust me, they will value it way more than you ever will.

4. Unless you are at Wrigley Field, stop throwing visiting home run balls back. That’s a Cubs tradition. Plus, it’s just plain stupid.

5. Do I really have to tell you not to do the wave?

AP Photo/Winslow Townson
AP Photo/Winslow Townson

6. This is actually a written rule: You don’t have to remove your cap during God Bless America. That’s only done during our National Anthem and the playing of Taps. I only say this because I have had fans get mad at me for not doing so.

7. If you have to go to the bathroom, let a friend hold on to your drink. With all the nastiness that floats in the air, do you really want to bring your beer into the restroom?

sleeping man8. Ladies, we are there to watch the game. Please stop telling stories about what happened at work yesterday. Guys, if your woman wants to tell stories that don’t pertain to the game all game long, then you need a new woman.

9. Unless you’re a writer covering the game or live-tweeting it, stay off your phone. Do you love the thrill of possibly being hit by a foul ball? Plus, do you really need to take 20 photos of the field every time you go to a game? I usually take 1 or 2 just to make my friends jealous.

The Big Lead

10. I don’t know why I have to tell you this, but sit in the seat that is on your ticket. I hate showing up (even before the game starts) and someone is in my seat. It’s just rude.

If you have any more to add, or just want to complain, shoot me a message on Twitter @JamesHollandTX.

Until next time, I’ll see you in the cheap seats!


James Holland is a Sports Contributor at The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @JamesHollandTX.

 

Why Would We Change Baseball?

With a tip of the cap to the NHL, NBA, and NCAA, baseball season is right around the corner.

I thought it was time to check out the goings-on in MLB, courtesy of new Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred. It seems like Mr. Manfred wants to change things up a little.

1280x720_Manfred5_b3jp9tja_8b6x0xowFrom expanding the strike zone to quickening the pace of baseball games, he’s come up with something that might just hit the spot! Manfred would like to shorten the regular season by 8 games. Some of his ideas are pretty spot on.

In an online article from draysbay.com, Mr. Manfred makes some valid points:

“Injuries and fatigue take their toll after 150 games into any baseball season. The 2011 Red Sox and the 2014 Brewers are the latest examples of teams who seemed primed for greatness but couldn’t survive September. Baseball is a grind, an everyday sport designed to tax teams and players until October.

Changing the length of the season will fundamentally change the personnel requirement for teams to make the playoffs, possibly requiring less depth for any roster. Should baseball be a sport where you have to outlast as much as you outplay? That’s its current DNA, and you have to wonder how much eight games taken off the schedule would change that.”

While some valid points exist, are those extra 8 games supposed to allow for more rest?

What happens when we expand the playoffs? Imagine a scenario in which the Wild Card does not take two play-in games? Secondly, imagine a scenario where the Wild Card is actually an (elimination) tournament a few days before playoffs begin, like say a week?

Major League Baseball is a sport driven by money. Not just consumer money, but by television revenue. Quick question, just how much more valuable are those 8 games as added revenue?

In 2013, Major League Baseball made in excess of $8 Billion dollars. ($8,000,000,000.00) It is estimated that MLB made a little over $9 Billion this past year. Baseball is a money-making venture, so shortening it by 8 games may not seem like much to you or me, but to an owner? That’s money out of his/her pockets.

In 2014, the average ticket price went up by 2%, to an average of $27.93 per ticket. The total FCI (Fan Cost Index) rose 2.3%, to $212.46. (Understand some tickets are cheaper than this, and others are far more expensive.)

If you take the Texas Rangers, for example, and use this formula: average cost of ticket x total attendance = $$ in pocket of owners, you reach a total of nearly $76M ($27.93 x 2,718,733 = $75,934,212.69).

I think I’m in the wrong business. Really.

If you want to shorten the season, you’re going to have a fight on your hands from the baseball purists. They ALREADY hate the DH in the American League…can’t imagine they’d like a shortened season. It makes sense, and then it doesn’t.

If you can guarantee fresh players for the playoffs, then bring it on. Otherwise, LEAVE IT ALONE. I know a lot of folks gripe about the length of baseball games. According to a recent, well-researched and very entertaining Boston Globe story, major league game times are longer than they used to be, reversing a trend. They’re back up to an average of nearly 2 hours, 58 minutes.

In contrast, the average NFL game lasts 3 hours and 12 minutes, and NBA games are 2 hours 28 minutes long.

So baseball games aren’t as long as football games, nor are they as short as NBA games. So,why the griping about the pace of the game? 1.) The amount of standing around. 2.) The inordinate amount of time batters use to prepare to hit the ball. 3.) 27 Outs can take a long time, especially if the pitcher isn’t very good, or you play in a homerun park.

Would you want to make the game more exciting? What ideas do you have, if any, to change the pace of the game?

Give me your suggestions @TheRonMann

I am, the Voice of Reason.


Ronnie Garcia is the Voice of Reason at The Scoop. He is also an avid guitarist, educator, and all around smarmy guy. You can follow him on twitter @TheRonMann.

 

 

The Dodgers Will Regret Not Going After Joe Maddon

Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune
Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune

When Joe Maddon opted out of his contract as manager of the Tampa Bay Rays on October 24, 2014 (as reported by CBS Sports), I thought there was only one destination for his next job. It was as clear to me as a Santa Monica day.

Inevitably, the Los Angeles Dodgers were going to announce they were going to let go of Don Mattingly as manager after 4 seasons, and reunite Maddon with his former Tampa Bay GM Andrew Friedman. Everything lined up perfectly and it would be a match made in baseball heaven.

I even began writing a somewhat snarky column for this website about the Dodgers being coy with their intentions while clearly pushing Mattingly out the door.

Oh, publicly, the Dodgers backed Mattingly, as they did here in the LA Times, but who were they kidding? Arguably the best manager in baseball was there for the taking.

Remember when Joe Torre suddenly became available after the 2007 postseason and Dodger manager Grady Little just HAPPENED to resign? What a coincidence that Torre was hired before poor Grady was done packing the office.

The Dodgers were poised to take on the champion Giants next year, and baseball would see a Maddon-led team take on Bruce Bochy’s boys with two of the best skippers in the business in the same division.

Then a funny thing happened to Joe Maddon, and also to this smart aleck know-it-all writer. The inevitable signing with the Dodgers turned into a Chicago Cubs love fest.

MLB.com
MLB.com

Maddon headed to Wrigley, bought everyone drinks (always a fool-proof way to win over Cubs fans) and seemed poised to take credit for the emergence of Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Jorge Soler.

Poor Rick Renteria was kicked to the curb. While the stench of tampering hangs over the move, nobody could blame the Cubs for wanting to bring in Maddon (no offense to Renteria, who will no doubt find another job.)

Maddon is going to join the likes of Leo Durocher, Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella as high profile managers hoping to complete the Don Quixote-like quest of winning a title for the Cubs.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers go into 2015 with Don Mattingly still at the helm.

Can someone please explain to me how this happened? Why didn’t the Dodgers at least put on the full court press and wine and dine Maddon? They offer one of the sweetest managerial jobs baseball and could be the fast track for Maddon’s elusive title.

AP
AP

The appeal of “Dodger manager Joe Maddon” was staggering. From the 2008 World Series to the 2013 Division Series, the Rays reached the playoffs in four different seasons, with a payroll slightly larger than the average In-and-Out Burger location. Friedman made all the right moves, and Maddon handled the continually changing roster perfectly, winning Manager of the Year in 2008 and 2011.

One could only wonder what kind of success that tandem could have had with a solid payroll and fan support.

Oh, wait! There wasn’t a need to just wonder. The Dodgers could have brought Friedman and Maddon together with a $200 million payroll, the best attendance in the National League and an ability to keep stars instead of shopping them.

Forget trying to juggle a rotation without David Price, James Shields or an injured Matt Moore; Maddon could call on Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in LA!

He would inherit a team that has won back-to-back Division titles and posted 94 victories last season. But they also have seen their division rival Giants win 3 World Series this decade, two since the new ownership took over.

As a sports city, Los Angeles is first and foremost a Lakers town. But with the Lakers on a downward spiral, the Dodgers have a chance to take over Southern California for the cool sports dollar.

USA Today
USA Today

But with a huge payroll and an easily distracted fanbase, losing in the playoffs to the Cardinals in back-to-back seasons is not going to cut it.

The Dodgers are going into 2015 with a sense of urgency. Kershaw is going to be 27 and Greinke 31, probably the peak year of this tandem. Yasiel Puig is a budding star, but difficult to predict. The left side of the infield is in disarray and the bullpen was, to be kind, unreliable.

Changes were made. Friedman pushed GM Ned Colletti to a vague new role. Farm director DeJon Watson and scouting director Logan White have moved on.  Oakland’s former Director of Baseball Operations, Farhan Zaidi, is making to move to LA.

And yet with all these behind the scenes moves, Mattingly remains.

Why?

Todd Kirkland / Associated Press
Todd Kirkland / Associated Press

Mattingly has been  the Dodgers manager for four seasons. That is a Presidential term. Plus, he was a hold-over from the Frank McCourt ownership. When Mark Walter, Stan Kasten, Magic Johnson et al took over the team in 2012, they inherited Mattingly and Colletti.

Colletti’s inability to have any depth on the team for $200 million pushed him out. But what about “Donnie Baseball?”

For two straight years, he has made questionable decisions in the postseason. Whether it was pulling Adrian Gonzalez in a one run playoff game in 2013, or turning to Scott Elbert in a critical Division Series moment this year, there is no shortage of head-scratchers for Mattingly.

And of course Mattingly benched Yasiel Puig in an elimination game. Yes, Puig was not hitting well (except for an extra base hit the previous game.) Is it wise to remove one of the best bats the team has in a winner-take-all game? It didn’t work.

Is Mattingly a difference-making manager? Probably not, for good or for ill. But Maddon IS one of the few managers who at least seems to make a difference. And perhaps the arrival of Maddon to Los Angeles could have given the team a spark that is lacking with Mattingly.

Maybe Maddon would have figured out how to run the bullpen. Perhaps Maddon could get the best out of Puig and his former left fielder, Carl Crawford.

And what would firing Mattingly cost the Dodgers? He is signed for two more years, and eating that contract would mean swallowing roughly $9 million total, according to ESPN.com.

Look, I know it is not my money. But that is less than what LA is going to pay Brian Wilson, and there is not even a guarantee he will be able to pitch next year.

Carl Crawford is going to cash checks for $60 million more dollars! But they are too cheap to bring in Maddon?

The Dodgers run with Don Mattingly as manager is like a stale relationship. They are together because of circumstances that are no longer relevant and they are staying together because it beats being single.

Esquire.com
Esquire.com

Now imagine someone in a stagnant relationship has a chance to date Charlize Theron. In that situation, you at least have to ask her out!

All the Dodgers had to offer was a huge budget, a gigantic media market, a contending team, the best pitcher on the planet and a chance to reunite with the GM who turned the laughing stock of baseball into a pennant contender.

The Dodgers have not seen a World Series since Kirk Gibson limped around the basepaths in 1988. Clayton Kershaw was a 7-month-old baby during that Series.

That same year, Mattingly was a star with the Yankees, who missed the World Series every year he was in uniform. He made his debut in 1982, just after New York’s 1981 World Series loss. He stayed until 1995, never winning a pennant, and retired. The Yankees went on to win 6 pennants in the next 8 years, winning 4 championships. He returned as a coach in 2004, and the team couldn’t win the pennant. He left in 2007 for LA, and the team won in 2009.

Mattingly was essentially The Cooler!

And guess what, Dodgerland? Mattingly will be managing your team and making his trademark moves that make all of Southern California say “huh?”

If the Cubs win the pennant before the Dodgers, they may never live it down.


Paul “Sully” Sullivan is a Sports Contributor for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @sullybaseball.