July 2011

Next Few Blog Entries

I wanted to post this short entry just to let you know what to expect in the coming days. (In terms of future blog entries.)

I’m going to a Minor League ballgame Saturday night featuring the Durham Bulls taking on the Charlotte Knights. I’ll post the entry from the game on Sunday. Should be interesting. Stars on the team include Matt Moore, Dirk Hayhurst, recently added Reid Brignac, etc. I’ve been talking to Dirk recently on twitter, trying to plan out where I should go to get him to autograph my copy of his book “The Bullpen Gospels.” (A great book by the way. Pick up a copy.) I’m also going to call out to other players to see if they will sign, so come back to see if I succeeded.

I’ve sent off questions to A’s prospect, Sonny Gray, and hope to recieve the answers back within the next day or so. So come back around Tuesday, to read my Q and A entry on him.

Other than that, I’m not sure. I’ll blog about whatever seems important in baseball at the moment.

If you have any thoughts on what you think I should blog about, leave a comment and let me know.

 

Darren O’Donnell Is Doing What?!?

Note the title. That’s the reaction I had when I first read of Darren O’Donnell’s plan to visit all thirty major league ballparks this season. But it wasn’t the fact that he was traveling to all thirty ballparks—I mean, that has been done before, hundreds of times. It was his mode of transportation that intrigued me.

Darren wasn’t planning on traveling via plane, car or train. He had the idea of completing the grueling journey by bicycle. Yes, you read that right. A bike:

30 ballparks, 12,000 miles, on two wheels. Now do you see why I was immediately amazed?

The idea to bike to all 30 ballparks came about last April, while biking down the West coast with his friends Kevin and Kyle.

“I had a blast riding my bike everyday, and thought, what better way to spend a summer. I threw the idea by them, and they both told me I should do it. What else did I have going on? So I figured out my route, and put the plan in motion.”

Such a big plan may seem worth it, only if you’re the first person to ever attempt the feat. You know, a record of some sort. But for Darren, even knowing that he was not the first to ever attempt this epic trip, he wanted to give it a shot anyway.

“I didn’t know that I wasn’t the first to do this until after I had already planned it out a bit. This was disappointing, but also encouraging because if it had been done before, it could certainly be done again. Baseball and biking are two passions I have. So I knew it would be a great experience regardless…….”

However difficult the trip may be, meeting some interesting people along the way is making the trip rewarding for Darren.

“It was really cool to meet Joe Maddon. He is a biker, and had an appreciation for what I was doing. I’m looking forward to meeting Charlie and Romano along my trek. The guys who have done this ride in 2004 and 2010, respectively.”

Although O’Donnell is having a blast, as well as meeting interesting people, it hasn’t all been a walk in the park. Or in this case, a bike ride. Darren has also had his share of difficulties.

“……a day in eastern Colorado, while heading from Denver to Dallas, there was direct headwind the whole day, and I was only able to go 52 miles in about 8 hours of riding. Very frustrating.”

O’Donnel has also experienced flat tires.

“Too many to count.”

Through the headwinds, and flat tires, O’Donnell has still managed to make it to the next ballpark on schedule. But mind you, it hasn’t been easy.

“I had 3 days to get from San Diego to Phoenix. (410 miles.) If I missed that game, the whole trip would have been shot.”

O’Donnell’s trek began back on April 8th, when he visited his first ballpark of the trip, Safeco Field.

“Favorite moment of the trip was the send off from Bellingham to Seattle for the Mariners opening day on April 8. About 12 friends made the 100+ mile ride down with me. It’s good to get people together for a long ride like that.”

O’Donnell is a just a fraction over two months away from the end of his journey. As he expects to reach his thirtieth ballpark, Busch Stadium, on September 25th.

“I’m sure when the trip is done I’ll feel really good that I accomplished what I set out to do.” (As he should.)

So the next time you see someone pedal past you on a bicycle, make sure to look. It might be Darren O’Donnel, on his way to the next ballpark.

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Big thanks to Darren O’Donnell for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can follow Darren as he travels from ballpark to ballpark, on twitter: @Baseball_Biking

Brian Wilson-Abraham Lincoln-Chuck Norris

Just a fun little poll. I’ll post a new entry tomorrow on Darren O’Connell. Don’t know who that is? You’ll have to come back tomorrow, and find out……….

MLB’s Most Likeable Players-Fans Point of View

Question: What do Curtis Granderson, Ichiro Suzuki, Heath Bell, Brandon Phillips, David Ortiz, and Johnny Damon, all have in common?

Answer: They are all great guys who enjoy interacting with their fans, and giving back.

So, in honor of their general awesomeness, I decided to ask six fans (one for each player) the same three questions, to see their opinions on the coolest guys in baseball. Here’s what they had to say:

CURTIS GRANDERSON

Big thanks to Curtis Granderson fan Alexandra, for answering my questions.

1. What is it about Curtis that makes him such a likeable guy?

His personality and the way he plays the game. He plays with his heart and has fun with it. He’s a great guy on and off the field.

2. Since becoming a fan is there anything that Curtis has done on, or off, the field, that has stood out to you?

His Grand Kids Foundation and how he donates thousands of dollars worth of baseball gear to schools around New York every year.

3. On a scale of 1-10, rank Curtis in terms of fan friendliness/likeability. (With 10 being highest.)

Definitely a 10. He’s a very humble guy. Every one likes him even more after meeting him. He loves his fans.

ICHIRO SUZUKI

Big thanks to Ichiro Suzuki fan Luke, for answering my questions.

1. What is it about Ichiro that makes him such a likeable guy?

I think many people like him because he is a good guy who is always smiling. He also has a lot of talent, plays hard and plays the right way.

2. Since becoming a fan is there anything that Ichiro has done on, or off, the field, that has stood out to you?

I believe he helped get donation stuff going when the Earthquake tore apart Japan. I believe he’s just a really good guy.

3. On a scale of 1-10, rank Ichiro in terms of fan friendliness/likeability. (With 10 being the highest.)

I would say he is about an 8. Really friendly guy.

HEATH BELL

Big thanks to Heath Bell fan Zack, for answering my questions.

1. What is it about Heath that makes him such a likeable guy?

He’s basically a four-year-old in a grown man’s body. He’s happy and friendly, and he doesn’t behave like everyone seems to think that a professional athlete should.

2. Since becoming a fan, is there anything that Heath has done on, or off, the field, that has stood out to you?

He donated more than $200 to my charity fundraiser two years ago for Pitch In For Baseball. That was way above and beyond anything I ever expected from him.

3. On a scale of 1-10, rank Heath in terms of fan friendliness/likeability. (With 10 being the highest.)

I’d say somewhere around 14.

BRANDON PHILLIPS

Big thanks to Brandon Phillips fan Neiko, for answering my questions.

1. What is it about Brandon that makes him such a likeable guy? 

Brandon is a very caring and supportive person. He shows he cares about his family, friends, and fans, which makes him likeable.

2. Since becoming a fan is there anything that Brandon has done on, or off, the field, that has stood out to you?

The fact that Brandon has become a worldwide known baseball player, and has interacted more with his fans. That shows the person he is.

3. On a scale of 1-10, rank Brandon in terms of fan friendliness/likeability. (With 10 being highest.)

I would say 10 because once you really get to know him he’s the most fan friendly and likable player in the MLB.

DAVID ORTIZ

Big thanks to David Ortiz fan Jordan, for answering my questions.

1. What is it about David that makes him such a likeable guy?

He’s shown to be a generally nice guy from what I’ve seen from games. A gentle giant of sorts. Reference being an MLB fancave video where he is wearing his jersey walking around New York, looking for hugs.

2. Since becoming a fan is there anything that David has done on, or off, the field that has stood out to you?

I was watching a Sox v. Yanks game on ESPN back in May. Next to the dugout was a father wearing a yanks hat, and a son wearing a sox hat. He put his bat up, noticed the boy wearing a sox hat in yankee stadium, and pulled his bat back out and handed it to the kid. Awesome in my book.

3. On a scale of 1-10, rank David in terms of fan friendliness/likeability. (With 10 being the highest.)

Giving that kid his bat gives him a 10 in my book.

JOHNNY DAMON

Big thanks to Johnny Damon fan Teresa, for answering my questions.

1. What is it about Johnny that makes him such a likeable guy?

J D loves baseball. Would have stayed in Boston for less $$ but was forced to the Yanks. Success did not change him. He’s remained someone his mom could be proud of. Never whined, when not given the media attention he deserved. Just played ball.

2. Since becoming a fan is there anything that Johnny has done on, or off, the field, that has stood out to you?

I became a J D fan when he donated his hair to Locks of Love to help a child (while in Boston).

3. On a scale of 1-10, rank Johnny in terms of fan friendliness/likeability. (With 10 being highest.)

While in Boston a 10. Yanks a 5. Back up to an 8 these days.

So there you have it. Six different opinions, on six different players. I hope this entry has helped to turn you into a fan of all six players. When it comes down to it, they’re all GREAT guys.

Please leave a comment, and rate this entry………

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Big thanks to ALL who helped me out in answering my questions. I appreciate it. So, to thank you, I’ll give you shout outs to your twitter accounts:

Alexandra– Twitter….. @TeamGrandy14

Luke– Twitter….. @LGNation34

Zack– Twitter….. @zack_hample

Neiko– Twitter….. @ThisIsNJJ

Jordan– Twitter….. @RoundDozerMan

Teresa– Twitter….. @golfergirl88

Derek Jeter Joins 3,000 Hit Club

Brett Gardner is the batter—a fun guy to watch. He can hit. Has great speed. Normally the guy in which all of the attention would be on at the moment. But today is not a normal day. Even with Gardner the batter, the crowd can’t take their eyes off of Jeter, who stands in the on deck circle.

Cameras in hand, ready to capture that milestone moment of 3,000 hits, the crowd waits in anticipation for Jeter to step to the plate. For with one swing of the bat, history could be made.

The wait is nearly unbearable. You can almost feel the crowd wanting Gardner to hurry and get a hit, or worse, an out, just to bring Derek to the plate faster. The crowd soon gets their wish, as Gardner grounds out to second. Finally, the moment the crowd, and Jeter, have been anticipating for months, is now folding out in front of their eyes.

Jeter approaches the plate as he always does. Gets set in the batters box, and readies himself as the pitcher, David Price, prepares to deliver the pitch. After working the count to 3-2, Jeter fouls off two tough pitches, waiting for the one he could hit. He would soon get it. A 3-2 slider, normally an effective pitch by Price, is crushed by Jeter. Off the bat everyone knows the balls fate. HOME RUN!!! (420 feet to be exact.) 

As Jeter rounds the bases, with that patented Jeter grin, his fellow Yankees begin to clear the bench. By the time Jeter rounds third, all of his teamates are waiting to give their congratulations. After all, Jeter just became the first Yankee to ever get 3,000 hits. Something well worth congratulating.

You could tell Jeter wanted to remember and cherrish every second of what was going on, as he hugged ever member of the Yankee team.

The crowd meanwhile, is going crazy. An impressive site to watch.

Derek Jeter would go on to record three more hits, going 5-5 on the day.

I don’t think James Cameron could have written a happier ending to Jeter’s hard work. Afterall, this is something Jeter has been working towards his entire career. So, to do it with a home run, is almost a dreamlike outcome. But no need to pinch yourself, this dream is a reality.

Derek Jeter is one of the classiest players in baseball as well as one of the best players to ever wear the pinstripes.

El Capitan. Mr November. Captian Clutch. Derek Jeter. Many names for one great man.

Derek Jeter. I tip my cap to you.

What Would You Do?

Here’s a really quick entry about Derek Jeter and his 3,000th hit ball. (I’ll write a bigger entry when Jeter gets to 3,000.)

Quite simply, with the 3,oooth hit ball worth an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 dollars, what would you do if you caught the milestone hit? (Via Home run or Ground rule double?)

Would you give it back? Sell it? Trade it for some nice goodies? What?

Let me know what you would do, by leaving a comment. I want to hear your thoughts……….

(Even if you’re reading this from twitter, please sign in and leave a comment.)

Alex Meyer-From Dream To Team

“I was interested in baseball for as long as I can remember,” replies Alex Meyer, in response to when he first developed an interest in baseball. “I remember my mom signing me up for instructional league, when I was 5 years old, for the Greensburg Youth Baseball League. I was fortunate enough to play with all of my friends growing up.”

Another thing Meyer enjoyed growing up, was watching his favorite player, Ken Griffey Jr, play baseball, saying, “He was the most exciting player to watch, and everytime I had the opportunity to watch him play, I did.” Now that Jr. has retired, Meyer states that Josh Beckett is his new favorite player. “I really like the way he pitches,” replies Meyer, “and the way he composes himself on the mound.”

Like Beckett, Meyer relies heavily on his fastball. “I love throwing the fastball. It’s my favorite pitch because I feel like you can spot up the most with that pitch.”

He must know what he’s talking about. In his most recent season for the University of Kentucky, Meyer recorded 110 strikeouts, and 2 complete game shutouts. (Both of which he led the team in.)

Before he recieved his College baseball success, Meyer attempted a few other sports. He gave football a shot, but after just one year decided that it really wasn’t the sport for him. Basketball and baseball was where his real interest lied. (Playing both in all four years of high school.)

“Basketball was something that I really enjoyed doing throughout the winter, and I felt like I had some success in it……”, says Meyer. “…….but I always figured baseball was where my future was.”

When it comes to basketball, there’s no question as to why he had success with it. In Meyer’s own words, “I’m 6’9”, and can do some crazy dunks.” (Enough said.)

Coming out of high school, Meyer was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 20th round. However, he decided to attend college, saying, “I was set on going to school because at the time, it was the most important thing for me. I love baseball and if things were going to work out, I needed to get stronger and mentally mature and if that were to happen, it would benefit me more, I felt, than signing at that point in time.”

After making the decision to attend college, another decision was left to be made. Which college to choose? In the end, Meyer chose the University of Kentucky. “I knew that I wanted to play in the SEC because I felt that it was the best conference in the country and would get you ready for pro ball more than any other conference could. Kentucky was close to home (Greensburg, IN) and I wanted to make sure my family could come to my games. This made the decision easy for me.”

Getting back to the mention of family by Meyer, it is a very big part of his life. “I like to call my family before I get to the field and talk to all of them before I go into the locker room. I always make sure that I talk to my mom last because she always gives me words of encouragement that no one else does. She keeps me humble and grounded and I feel like [she] does a great job getting me ready for the game.”

Family was also a part of Meyer’s life on draft night. (June 9th, 2011.) As he sat there, patiently awaiting his name to be called, his family was there with him. When his name was finally called, as the 23rd pick in the first round by the Nationals, Meyer experienced a great deal of emotion. His initial thoughts being, “I was extremely excited to know that a team thought that highly of me. It was a great feeling for me to experience.”

Following the National’s selection, former baseball player Harold Reynolds stated, in reaction to the pick of Meyer, “He’s (Alex Meyer) the greatest pitcher to ever come out of the University of Kentucky.” When asked about his reaction to that statement by Reynold’s, Meyer replied, “That is a bold statement. I am very humbled to hear people say that, but, at the same time, I know I still have a lot of work to do. There have been some good pitchers [to] come out of the university…….to be put in a category with that group of people is pretty special.”

Meyer’s career in Professional baseball is just beginning. But, to the kids who’s baseball careers are just beginning, Meyer gives the following advice: “……make sure to work hard every single day, but the most important thing in baseball is to stay positive. The game has so much failure and it can be hard to bounce back at times, but if you stay positive, it can be extremely rewarding.”

Considering the fact that Alex Meyer went from an Instructional League in Greensburg, IN, to being drafted in the first round by the National’s, I’d say his advice is fairly accurate.

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Big thanks to Alex Meyer for answering my questions.

You can follow Alex on twitter @AlexMeyer17

UPDATE

Got this from Alex in the mail:

AWESOME!!

Thanks Alex.

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