My Thoughts On the Latest MLB News

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile then you know I sometimes like to take little breaks from blogging. I tell myself I’m going to post an entry every few days, but even when something interesting happens I fail to blog about it. Not every time, but at least once a month I can’t seem to motivate myself to post a new entry.

What I’ll usually do (as I’m doing now) is post an entry after the several day break to recap the things that have happened since the last time I blogged. I’m not going to go over everything that’s happened. I’m just going to talk a little bit about the main things on my mind.

Chipper Jones Returns To the Braves’ Lineup

Chipper Jones made his 2012 regular season debut on Tuesday against the Houston Astros. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as he had just gotten over surgery from an injury he sustained during spring training. I was hoping he’d get at least one hit (which he did) but I never expected him to perform as well as he did. Jones went 2-4 in the game, with one of his hits being a home run. (Number 455 of his career.)

I thought Chipper looked great deffensively as well. During Tuesday’s game Jones made a fantastic bare handed play to throw out the batter at first. He moved fairly swiftly, and didn’t appear as if he was feeling any pain. A great sign for Braves and Chipper fans alike. It didn’t appear to be luck either, as Jones went 2-5 in the very next game. It should be interesting to see how he does in today’s home opener against the Brewers.

Tim Lincecum’s Rough Start To 2012

After a less than stellar 2011, I was fully expecting Tim Lincecum to have a bounce back year, domintating the way he did in past years, but so far that’s not the case. If anything, Lincecum’s going down hill. Now I’m not saying he can’t, and won’t, turn things around. All I’m saying is that he really needs to hurry up and figure it out. (As a fan of Lincecum, I’m hoping he does.)

Tim Lincecum has made a total of two starts so far this season, and looked overmatched in both. In his latest start on Wednesday, Lincecum lasted only 2.1 innings (the shortest outing of his career) giving up 6 runs off of 8 hits, while striking out three.

Lincecum’s next start is scheduled for Monday against the Phillies. Let’s hope he can finally show us at least a glimpse of the old Tim Lincecum.

Johnny Damon Signs With Cleveland Indians

When I first heard that the Cleveland Indians were looking to sign Johnny Damon I didn’t know what to think of it. To tell you the truth, I had lost all track of Damon once the 2012 season got underway. I recalled that Damon hadn’t found a team during the offseason, but once spring training ended I thought nothing more of it.

I for one think it’s an interesting move by the Indians. Damon can be a great player (future hall of famer?) but he’s a guy you need to keep a very close eye on. He could go either way.

Johnny Damon agreed to a 1-year, 1.25 million dollar contract with the Cleveland Indians. This makes the seventh team of Damon’s career, and the fourth different team for him in the past four years. I truly hope Damon performs well this season. I look forward to seeing him play again.

MLB Beat the Streak 2012

This is my second year playing Beat the Streak and quite frankly I’m not very good at it. I didn’t get started last season until sometime around July, so I figured starting out from day one of the 2012 season would give me a better chance of getting to that magic number of 57 needed to win the grand prize of 5.6 million dollars. Well, I was wrong. If anything I’m having worse luck than last year. But it’s still early, and I’m hoping things will begin to turn around for me in the coming days/weeks.

The fantasy baseball game Beat the Streak has been around for the past several seasons, and the rules are fairly simple: Pick a player everyday that you think has the best chance of getting at least one hit. (Can be the same player or a different one. It’s up to you.) As long as that player gets a hit your streak continues–whether they go 4-4, or a mere 1-4 in that particular game.

A slight twist has been added this year to make it more exciting. In years past you would pick your one player and that was it. This season you have the option to double down and pick two players that you think will get a hit. If they do, your streak increases by two instead of the conventional one. Like most things in life however, there is a catch. If either of your two picks fail to get a hit your streak goes back down to zero. So it’s high risk, but can also be high reward if you’re lucky enough to have both players record a hit.

So far this season I’ve failed to increase my streak to more than two. Each day of the season thus far I’ve chosen to take “advantage” of the double down feature, but haven’t had much luck. I might just end up doing one pick at a time if this continues to be a problem for me.

If you’re not already playing, I suggest you start. CLICK HERE to be taken to the main page. If you have an account already, just log in. If not, don’t worry, it’s really easy, and most importantly, free. Even if you’re like me and have terrible luck, it’s still fun to play. And who knows? You might just get lucky and win the 5 million bucks. (In which case you have to give me half.)

GOOD LUCK!!!

MLB Opening Day 2012

Yesterday was Opening Day for Major League Baseball. Sure, the Mariners and Athletics played a couple of regular season games in Japan during the Opening Series, but yesterday was considered by many to be the start of the 2012 season.

Of the seven games played, every inning of every single game was exciting. None more than the Blue Jays and Indians game, which lasted longer that any game ever has in Opening Day history–going 16 innings. Breaking the old record of 15.

Being such a big day, I thought I’d go through each game and give a SHORT recap, followed by my impressions of the game.

RED SOX-TIGERS

Recap: This game started out a real pitchers dual, as it took all the way to the bottom of the seventh before a run was put on the board by either team. It was the Tigers scoring first, and going into the top of the ninth they were up 2-0. The Red Sox rallied back however, as they scored two runs off Jose Valverde to tie it up. This was the first blown save for Valverde since 2010. Valverde ended up getting the win as the Tigers won 3-2, with Austin Jackson being the hero with a walk-off single.

Impressions: Starting pitcher Justin Verlander looked good as usual, pitching 8 scoreless innings, giving up a mere two hits and striking out 7. This was the regular season debut of Prince Fielder in a Tigers uniform. Fielder went 1-3, with an RBI in this game, but I thought he looked really comfortable with his new team. Give him a game or two more, and I think he’ll really start putting up big numbers.

I thought the Red Sox looked a little off. The team as a whole didn’t do all that well in their first game of the season, as only four of their players recorded hits. Although starting pitcher Jon Lester gave up 6 hits, which subsequently ended with a run scoring, I thought he looked rather decent on the mound. He walked three, and only struck out four through 7 innings pitched, but I thought his command was there, at least more than it was last season. I look for a good year out of him.

BRAVES-METS

Recap: Just as the Tigers-Red Sox game had been, this game also started out with both starting pitchers doing well. It took until the bottom of the sixth inning for either team to score. It had the Mets scoring a run, off an RBI single by David Wright. The one run proved to be enough in this game, as the final score was 1-0, Mets.

Impressions: Obviously the big story of the game was Mets’ starting pitcher Johan Santana. This was his first start since 2010, as surgery in 2011 caused him to miss the entire season. Santana looked really good out of the gate, as he gave up only two hits through 5 innings pitched, while striking out five and giving up no runs. Although his fastball might of lost a mile per hour or two, it’s still affective. I think Santana is due to have an extremely good year.

David Wright is the guy that I’m going to keep a close eye on for the 2012 season. He has the ability to be a real star, but hasn’t put up star numbers in recent years. Batting right-handed, the shortened distance to the outfield wall is sure to give him another homer or two for the season. Wright went 2-3 with an RBI in yesterday’s game. I look for him to keep putting up those kind of numbers through out the remainder of the season.

I thought the Braves looked sloppy in this game, both offensively and defensively. Their pitching wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good enough to get the job done. Only four Braves recorded hits in the game, as the Mets pitching proved too much.

PHILLIES-PIRATES

Recap: Both starting pitchers started out well in this game. I expected Roy Halladay to dominate like he always does, but I never thought Erik Bedard would keep the tough Phillies lineup scoreless through six. I was really impressed with Bedard. He did end up surrendering what would turn out to be the game winning run in the seventh however, as the Pirates failed to bat anyone home, making the final score 1-0, Phillies.

Impressions: I didn’t watch much of this game, but the few innings that I did I was really impressed. It was no surprise that Roy Halladay had the game that he did, I mean, he’s Roy Halladay, but I was really surprised at the great game that Erik Bedard had. It was truly remarkable.

What it came down to in this game was offense. Only two Pirates recorded a hit, versus the Phillies eight hits. Although Bedard had a great game, his teammates couldn’t help him out with any runs. Subsequently the game had Phillies newcomer, Jonathan Papelbon coming in to record his first save of the season.

NATIONALS-CUBS

Recap: Run one of the game came in the fourth inning, as the Cubs struck first. It appeared at first that one run would be enough for the Cubs, as the Nationals went the first seven innings without a run scored. They finally scored in both the eighth and ninth innings. The Cubs couldn’t rally back however, as the National’s recorded the victory, 2-1.

Impressions: Nationals’ starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg looked decent, but nothing he did really stood out to me. He pitched seven innings of one-run ball, but in that time gave up five hits, while striking out five. Like I said, not bad, but nothing that makes me say WOW.

I thought Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster looked fantastic. He pitched 7.2 innings before being pulled, and in that time only allowed one run on two hits, while striking out ten. While Dempster was the more dominant of the two starting pitchers, the National’s had the better offensive lineup, as a late rally was enough for a one-run win.

MARLINS-REDS

Recap: Unlike the first few games of the day, this one didn’t take long before it’s first run was scored. A sacrifice fly by Jay Bruce, was enough to give the Reds a one run lead in the early going. The next run of the game came off an RBI double by Ryan Ludwick, that gave the Reds a 2-0 lead. The Reds would score two more times in the bottom of the eighth–a home run by Jay Bruce, and an RBI double by Chris Heisey. The Reds beat the Marlins, 4-0.

Impressions: So far things aren’t looking much better than last season for the Marlins. They’re now 0-2, and only recorded three hits in their game against the Reds. While I’ve seen a lot of people saying that the Marlins are on track for another terrible season, I feel it’s MUCH too early to judge the team. Sure, their starting pitching has failed to dominate thus far, but it’s just two games into the season. They still have 160 left to go, and I guarantee they won’t go 0-162.

As far as the Reds go, I thought they looked really good. Their highest paid player Joey Votto went just 1-3, but he looked really good at first base, digging many balls out of the dirt. Another player that I was impressed by is Jay Bruce. I thought he showed well plate discipline, as well as good power.

The Reds are going to be an exciting team to watch this season. While I’m still sticking with my prediction that the Cardinals will win the division, the Reds are sure to make things interesting, especially towards the end of the year. They could really end up doing some big things.

INDIANS-BLUE JAYS

Recap: The Indians went into the ninth inning with a three run lead, but their closer Chris Perez blew the save by giving up three runs. Going into the tenth tied 4-4, both the Blue Jays and Indians pitchers looked really good. After the game hit the 15th inning you had to wonder if this game would ever end. It did, as in the top of the 16th inning J.P. Arencibia hit a three-run homer to left field, giving the Blue Jays a 7-4 lead, which would turn out to be the final, as the Indians failed to score in the bottom half.

Impressions: Justin Masterson looked incredible in yesterday’s game. He struck out the side to start out the game, and ended up allowing a run on only two hits while striking out ten, in eight innings pitched. I thought the Indians team as a whole, regardless of the loss, was really good last night. They looked really dialed in at the plate, as they combined for a 4-run inning in the bottom of the second.

The Blue Jays starting pitcher, Ricky Romero, didn’t have his best stuff last night. Only lasting 5 innings before being pulled from the game, he allowed 4 runs while only striking out four batters. The rest of the team looked good, however. Especially Jose Bautista, who went 3-4 with a home run.

Just like the Cincinnati Reds, this team is going to be interesting to watch to see how they do this season. They’re part of the very tough AL East, but if they can get things going they can be real contenders in my opinion.

DODGERS-PADRES 

Recap: The Dodgers were the first team to score in the game, as two batters were forced home due to walks in a bases loaded situation. The Dodgers would score again in the next inning giving them a 3-0 lead. The Padres finally cracked the run column in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI double by Jesus Guzman. The Dodgers and Padres both scored two runs in the eighth, off a two-run homer by Matt Kemp, and a two-run homer by Cameron Maybin. The final score of the game had the Dodgers recording a 5-3 win.

Impressions: Although he had to leave to game after just three innings pitched due to a stomach flu, Clayton Kershaw looked really good, as usual. On the other hand, Padres starting pitcher Edinson Volquez didn’t look nearly as good. Lasting five innings, Volquez gave up three runs on three hits, while striking out seven. To me, Volquez is the key for the Padres. He needs to perform well in order for the Padres to succeed.

Matt Kemp and Cameron Maybin were the two stand out players of the game. Kemp picked up where he left off in 2011, going 2-5 with a home run. Maybin–who is really going to have a good year, in my opinion–went 2-4, with an absolute bomb.

If we learned anything from yesterday, it’s that it’s sure to be another exciting season of Major League Baseball.

April 3rd Indians vs. Mudcats Game

Yesterday’s game between the Cleveland Indians and the Carolina Mudcats was by no means one for the ages but it was however an exciting day for people like myself from the area that don’t get to see Major League teams that often. Living in the middle of nowhere, in terms of MLB, I have two choices: Drive 250 miles to see the Nationals, or drive 300 miles to see the Braves. Neither is a trip I can take too often, so this was a must attend game.

I arrived at the ballpark at 11:00. The gates weren’t due to open until 11:30 for the 2:00 game but as stated in my last blog entry I wanted to arrive early to give myself a good chance of getting autographs from Major League players. (Even with it being the Indians, and not a team like the Yankees.)

After getting my ticket scanned at 11:30 on the dot, I made my way towards the Cleveland Indians field house. You can’t get all the way to it due to a fence, but since the players have to walk RIGHT past you to get to the field, it’s fairly easy to get autos. As a matter of fact, it was easier than I thought it would be.

Autograph one of the day came from Travis Hafner:

While he signed for nearly everyone, he didn’t seem to be in the best of moods.

My next three autographs came within a five minute span, coming from Vinnie Pestano, Josh Tomlin and Sandy Alomar Jr. Sandy Alomar was the exact oposite of Hafner, as instead of acting like signing autographs was a pain, he spent the time cracking jokes, as he signed for everyone:

The next auto came from Indians manager Manny Acta, who was also fairly friendly, and signed for everyone:

Then things slowed down, in terms of players willing to sign autographs. Plenty of players continued to come by, but they didn’t stop to sign for the fans. It was during this time slot that the coolest thing of the day happened. I was standing against the fence watching for players to come by when I heard a guy behind me say “excuse me”. I was fully expecting to find a random person behind me when I turned around but to my surprise I found myself staring at a well dressed guy, with long brown hair. If you follow baseball at all, then you probably already know who it was. Yes, it was Indians closer Chris Perez. Awesome!

Perez had a line of players following behind him, including Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson and a few other players that I didn’t recognize. To be THAT close to MLB players was extremely cool.

As Jimenez walked by a fan asked if he’d sign autographs, to which he replied “I don’t feel like it, man”. I found myself thinking that was the end of that. I hadn’t expected Jimenez to sign, so his response was no shock to me.

Here’s a picture of the players shortly after they had walked by:

They entered and exited the field house within five minutes, coming out in their uni’s:

None of them signed as they walked by. They were “in a hurry”, as they put it. But I suppose they did have somewhere to go. Although none of them were going to play today, they warmed up anyhow:

I don’t know if you noticed him in the above photo, but Ubaldo Jimenez was one of the players who was warming up:

After about 10 minutes of throwing, stretching and running, the players left the field. To my surprise, three guys stopped to sign autographs. The first being Chris Perez:

Followed by Ubaldo Jimenez, who drew a large crowd:

With the third player to stop and sign being Asdrubal Cabrera:

Shortly before I left for my seat, Carlos Santana stopped to sign, but only for around three people. As did Shin Soo-Choo. After they quit signing, I made my way to my seat. Here was the view of the Indians team just before gametime:

I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about the game itself. (If you can call it a game.) The Indians, as expected, dominated the Single-A Mudcats, with the final score being 13-0. Here are just a few of the pictures I took during the game itself:

Travis Hafner.

Carlos Santana.

Jason Kipnis.

Half of the starters were removed from the game in the third inning with the second half coming out in the fourth. Lou Marson replaced Santana, after he was removed in the fourth:

As I stated, the game wasn’t THAT exciting. I left my seat and headed back over to try for more autgraphs after the game. What I saw made me laugh out loud. I’ll show the picture first, and then I’ll explain, in case you can’t tell what it is:

It’s kind of hard to see, but the Indians players that had left the game early were sitting at picnic tables chowing down on food served on paper plates. Don’t ask me why I find that funny. I just do.

Anyway, I was only able to get one more autograph after the game. It came from Chad Huffman, who gave also away his hat and batting gloves to a couple of little kids.

Here’s a recap of the 14 autographs that I got at the game:

1. Bruce Fields

2. Chris Perez

3. Jeanmar Gomez

4. Chad Huffman

1. Vinnie Pestano

2. Sandy Alomar Jr.

3. Aaron Cunningham

1. Travis Hafner

2. Ubaldo Jimenez

3. Asdrubal Cabrera1. Dan Wheeler

2. Josh Tomlin

3. Jack Hannahan Manny Acta signed the sweet spot.

All in all I had a great time at the game. As I said earlier, this isn’t the type of game that happens often. I’m planning on attending another Mudcat’s game on Friday. It’s the first real game of the season for them. I’m also going to a Durham Bulls game on Saturday. I’m not planning on blogging about either of those games however. The next game I blog about will more than likely be the June 23rd game in Cincinnati between the Reds and the Twins.

My Upcoming Week of Baseball

It’s officially that time of year again. The calendar reads April 1st which means the MLB regular season is just days away, and I couldn’t be more excited! I’ve got a busy week of baseball games coming up, so I thought I’d type up a brief overview of my schedule for the coming week.

Five County Stadium. Home of the Carolina Mudcats.

My first game of the year is Tuesday, April 3rd. It’s an exhibition game between the Cleveland Indians and my local minor league team, the Carolina Mudcats. Game time is set for 2 o’clock, but with gates set to open at 11:30, I’m planning on arriving at 11:15. While it might seem crazy to some of you that I’m showing up nearly 3 hours early, I feel that showing up early is half the fun. If you ask me, being one of the first through the gates is the only way to go. I’ll never understand the people that show up in the third inning and leave in the seventh. Why even come at all?!

Part of the reason I’m showing up as early as I am is to go for autographs. I’m not a big autograph collector, but I don’t plan on passing up the opportunity to get autos from some of today’s up and coming stars like Jason Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera, etc. Living nearly 300 miles from the nearest MLB stadium, this is a MUST attend game for me. It’s not that often that a Major League team “comes to me”.

Game two of the week comes three days later, on Friday April 6th. It’s another Mudcat’s game. (Opening night to be specific.) I wouldn’t be attending this game under normal circumstances, but when I bought my ticket the the Cleveland Indians exhibition game I received a FREE ticket to Opening Night. So I mean, why not? It’s a baseball game after all! Even if it is against a team in the White Sox organization, baseball is baseball. (There is a chance of rain that day however, so hopefully they’ll be able to get it in.)

The game I’m probably looking forward to the most is game three of the week. That game sees the Durham Bulls taking on the visiting Gwinnett Braves. There are tons of future Atlanta Braves stars on the team including newly acquired Joey Terdoslavich, who made the jump from Class A advanced ball to Triple A. Terdoslavich is more than likely going to take over for Chipper Jones at third base once Jones retires, so it’s pretty neat to get to see him play.

That’s pretty much it. Three games, five teams, and two stadiums, all within a five day span. Pretty exciting stuff, in my opinion. I’m pumped!!