May 2012

Q and A With Jeremie Tice

Jeremie Tice signed with the Cleveland Indians after they drafted him in the 6th round of the 2008 draft. Since the initial draft Tice hasn’t been able to make it out of A ball, though I have a feeling it’s only a matter of time before he’s going to finally move up another level–one of the major goals for Tice this year.

Tice is currently the DH for the Carolina Mudcats. He’s played in 32 games so far this season, and has put up some pretty good numbers: 9 home runs and 36 RBI’s, off of 33 hits. That all coming in 111 at bats, which converts into a .297 batting average, as well as a .388 on base percentage. Not bad at all.

Jeremie Tice–designated hitter in the Cleveland Indians organization–took the time recently to answer some of my questions:

1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball? Who was your biggest baseball influence?

I have played baseball since I was three years old. I always loved it more than other sports. Biggest influence growing up was Brian Jordan. I was a big braves fan and I loved how he played the game. Great athlete.

2.) Who was your favorite baseball player growing up? Why?

Favorite players were Mark McGwire and Brian Jordan. They were both beasts in the batters box and that’s what I wanted to be.

3.) You signed with the Indians after they drafted you in the 6th round of the 2008 draft. What was that process like? Where were you when you found out? Initial thoughts?

The draft process in ’08 wasn’t that bad cause I had already gone through the draft process with the Marlins, but it was still a little nerve racking, but very exciting. A lot of talking to teams on the phone and just praying I went to a good team. When I found out I was at my apartment, in Charleston SC with my dad, and I was very releaved. Crazy day. Will never forget it.

4.) This is your 5th season of professional baseball. What are your goals for this year? Anything that you’re currently working on to enable you to reach those goals?

Biggest goal for this season is to get out of A ball, but there are only certain things I can control. I’m just trying to play the game the right way and get better than I was the day before. The rest will take care of itself.

5.) When’s the first time someone asked for your autograph? Oddest thing you’ve ever signed?

First autograph was in college, at the College Of Charleston. Craziest thing I have signed was definitely a cell phone.

6.) Favorite thing to do on an off day during the season?

Off days I like to fish if I can, or just take it easy. Most of our off days are filled with a lot of work, so anything relaxing is good.

7.) Favorite TV show?

Favorite TV show is ‘Gold Rush Alaska’. If that’s not on anything on the Discovery Channel. Definitely my favorite channel to watch.

8.) Favorite food?

Favorite food is a tough one because food is a big passion of mine, but I have to choose probably a fat steak with potatoes.

9.) Most memorable moment of your baseball career thus far?

Most memorable moment so far I would have to say was getting drafted by the Indians; knowing that I was going to sign with them. A major goal met. That was a great feeling. Knowing all the work I put in just to be in that position. Next goal is to get to the big leagues.

10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?

I would say don’t take the game too seriously. This is a game of failure and you will fail a lot. Always work hard, and always play the game the right way. If you do that there is no telling what you can do. Sky is the limit.

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Big thanks to Jeremie Tice for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can follow him on twitter: @BigOleChunkyBoy

May 18th and 20th Durham Bulls Games

I stated in my last blog entry that I was going to attend this past Friday’s Durham Bulls game versus the Pawtucket Red Sox; which I did. I didn’t however announce that I’d be attending yesterday’s game versus the Charlotte Knights as well. There’s a good reason for that. At the time, I didn’t know I’d be going. It was a last minute decision, which turned out to be a great one.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about either game, but I thought I’d give a brief overview of my time spent at the ballpark over the past few days. I normally wouldn’t blog about a MiLB game but considering the fact that the 2009 World Series MVP, Hideki Matsui, is currently playing with the Bulls, I thought I’d type up this little entry.

May 18th: Durham Bulls vs. Pawtucket Red Sox

The moment I heard that Kevin Youkilis was going to be rehabbing with the PawSox I knew I’d be attending this game. But going back even further in time, I knew I’d be attending one of the four games versus the Sox from the day the schedule was first released.

My day at the ballpark started out like every other game of my life: With me standing in line outside of the ballpark, waiting for the gates to open up. It’s one of the things that is a MUST for me. Showing up early to be one of the first inside is something I’ve always enjoyed doing.

Once the gates opened up I made my way past the mobs of the people in Red Sox gear and down to the PawSox dugout. I then proceeded to wait for the players to make their way up the steps from the clubhouse. It seemed to take them longer than usual.

The first player out of the clubhouse was Jose Iglesias, but he flat out ignored my autograph request. Next up was Lars Anderson. I was promptly denied again. I couldn’t help but think that it wasn’t going to be a good day for autograph collecting, and for the most part, I was right. I only got two autographs at this game. One from Kevin Youkilis, and another from Gerald Perry. Not a great day, but at least I got Youk.

Moving on to the game itself.

It was really exciting to say the least. Down 4-3 in the bottom of the 8th, Jesus Feliciano stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and proceeded to clear them on a 3 run triple. The ballpark was electric. You should’ve been there.

After the game I dashed back to the PawSox dugout to ask their manager for the lineup cards, but was told that they never give those out. I know for a fact that’s a lie, but I just let it be. I didn’t want to cause a scene.

All in all it was a great game. The Bulls won. I was successful in getting an auto from Kevin Youkilis. And I got to see Matsui play. I’ll take that kind of game every day of the week.

I know what those of you who aren’t big on reading are thinking: Where are the pictures?! Well, don’t worry, I took some, I just wasn’t sure how I could incorporate them into the entry without giving a pitch-by-pitch recap, which I know would’ve been unnecessary. So here you non-readers go:

Hideki Matsui walking away after signing autograph for a few kids.

Kevin Youkilis getting ready for the game.

Lars Anderson in his first at bat.

Hideki Matsui in his first at bat.

‘Godzilla’ in left field.

And that’s all she (or in this case, *he*) wrote.

May 20th: Durham Bulls vs. Charlotte Knights

I hadn’t planned on attending this game, but I REALLY wanted to get an autograph from Hideki Matsui. This was going to be my last Bulls game until June 8th, and who knows if Matsui will still be on the team then. I knew it wasn’t a guarantee that I’d get him to sign for me, but I at least had to try.

The day started out with me making friends with a relatively nice usher down by the Bulls’ dugout. This would turn out to be important. More on that a little later.

My main autograph target for the day, as stated earlier, was Matsui, but there were a few other guys I wanted as well. Leslie Anderson has been tearing it up this year, and Tampa Bay Rays number 3 prospect Chris Archer has been having a good year as well, so I was going for their autos too.

I was all by myself down by the dugout for the first ten or so minutes after the gates opened. After that, however, people showed up in bunches, and before long there were 10 or so fellow autograph seekers, including a young kid who decided it was necessary to continuously kick me in the back of the legs. But I digress.

I completely missed the arrival of Leslie Anderson from the clubhouse. He came out while I was looking at something that was happening on the field, and by the time I noticed him he was heading onto the field to warm up. I made sure not to turn my head after that. I didn’t want to miss Matsui.

Several minutes passed by and still no sign of Matsui. Finally, after 30 minutes of standing there waiting, he appeared. I was the first one to notice him, and proceeded to hollar “Hideki!!” all while holding out my card and sharpie (which apparently isn’t the universal sign for “can I have your autograph”?). Matsui looked up at me and nodded, but an acknowledgement is all I got. He ran up the steps and onto the field. No auto love from Matsui, but I did get Chris Archer just before I went to my seat. So I was glad about that.

This game wasn’t as exciting as Friday’s. It was ALL Bulls the entire game, which lasted a mere two hours. As soon as the last out of the game was made I rushed over to the Bulls dugout but was stopped by an usher who said I couldn’t go down there because the kids were going to run the bases. But my usher friend came to the rescue and told me I could go down their for just a couple of minutes. Haha! Take that mean usher guy. (This particular usher has always been grouchy to me. If you ever make it to a Bulls game, don’t think you’re going to get past him unless you talk to my usher friend. Haha.)

The only other people down by the dugout were people who had nearby seats. They were all after Matsui’s autograph, and to my surprise he actually stopped to sign. He only signed for four people, but I am happy to state that I WAS one of the lucky few. I have my usher buddy to thank for that.

Here’s a random pic of Matsui in the Bulls alternate home uniform:

If you’re ever in the area I highly suggest you make a trip to Durham to see a ball game. It’s an awesome ballpark, and you’ll have the time of your life. Guaranteed.

My Next Minor League Baseball Game

I said awhile back that I wasn’t planning on blogging about any more baseball games until June 23rd–when I head to Cincinnati for the Twins-Reds game–but I may have to make an exception for tomorrow’s game.

I’d been planning on attending a game during the Durham Bulls 4-game series against the Pawtucket Red Sox since the schedule was first realeased. At the time I was just going for the sole purpose of seeing the top Red Sox’ prospects in action, but I never expected things to develop as they have.

In case you haven’t heard, Kevin Youkilis is currently rehabbing with the PawSox. He’s expected to join back up with Boston as early as this weekend, or as late as next week. Either way, he’ll be playing tomorrow when I head out to the ballpark, so I’m pretty excited about that.

Another guy who’s had success in the Majors but is currently down with the Bulls is former World Series MVP Hideki Matsui. He had a hard time finding any team to sign him in the offseason but finally was successful a couple weeks ago; as the Tampa Bay Rays picked him up.

There’s no timetable for Matsui. The Rays are saying it could be next week, or next month (or never at all?) when they call him up to the big leagues. It all depends on how he does. He has to prove that he can still have an impact for his team.

I’m hoping a bunch of guys on the Pawtucket Red Sox sign autographs because I’ll be ready for them. With so many good names currently on the roster this is one of the most star packed teams I’ll see all year. Some of the standouts on the team include Daisuke Matsuzaka, Lars Anderson, Jose Iglesias, Ryan Lavarnway and of course, Kevin Youkilis. That’s just a few of the many. Feel free to view the entire roster by CLICKING HERE.

I’m really excited about tomorrow’s game. It’s not that often that there are so many great players in Durham, North Carolina. It’s sure to be a fun time.

UPDATE

I was able to get autographs from Kevin Youkilis and PawSox’ Hitting Coach (former Brave) Gerald Perry. I’m heading out to the ballpark again today, so I’m planning on posting a recap of Friday’s game and tonight’s game in the same entry. So check back for that on Monday.

Hamels Admits To Plunking Harper Intentionally

I feel I’ve misjudged Bryce Harper. As many of you may know, I haven’t been a fan of his since I first heard of him. I felt he was an arrogant guy who saw himself as better than everyone else just because he happened to be ‘The Chosen One’. Now, seeing how he’s handled himself through his first week in the Major Leagues, I’m not so sure I gave him a fair chance.

My opinion was formed just like most other people, using the limited facts given to me by the media, who tend to spin stories around to make bigger stories more often than not. Just because the media was telling me Harper was a jerk, I figured “well I guess he is”; and that was that.

Now, I feel Harper’s not as bad of a guy as the media made him seem. Yes, he’s arrogant, but as long as that arrogance stops when Harper’s not between the chalked lines, I have no problem with that. There’s a difference between arrogance, and an immense passion for the game of baseball. Harper has shown that he obviously has incredible baseball passion, as he gives ever play his all; playing like every game is his last.

Harper is too good of an athlete for me to not root for. The guy is extremely fun to watch, and while he hasn’t shown off the power yet, he’s impressed me a great deal. His speed is insane; as is his arm. Both are aspects of his game that I was aware were good, but I had no idea they were THAT good. It was truly a shock to me the first time I saw him show off the gun.

With the injury to Nationals’ right fielder Jayson Werth, Harper will be moved to fill Werth’s spot. He certainly has the arm for right field, and is sure to impress the first chance he gets.

Moving onto Sunday night’s game versus the Phillies.

Just when I thought Harper had done all he can do to impress me, he took it another step further in Sunday’s game against the Phillies. In Harper’s first at bat of the game he was hit in the side by a pitch from Cole Hamels. I was fully expecting a few words to be exchanged to say the least, but Harper proceeded to trot down to first base after taking a second to recover.

I feel that Harper has matured in that sense. Instead of making a scene, Harper was able to retaliate against Hamels by stealing home. (The first teenager to do so since 1964.)

It appeared as if Harper glared in the direction of Hamel’s as he headed into the dugout, but I have no problem with that.

Now, here’s where things get interesting. Cole Hamels came out on Monday and made the following statement, regarding his plunking of Harper:

I was trying to hit him. I’m not going to deny it. I’m not trying to injure the guy. They’re probably not going to like me for it, but I’m not going to say I wasn’t trying to do it. I think they understood the message, and they threw it right back. That’s the way, and I respect it. They can say whatever they want.

My response to Hamels coming clean would be, “why?” Why come out and state that you hit him on purpose? Why not say the ball slipped, or whatever? It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Sure, you can say Hamels was just trying to be honest, but it would appear that Phillies manager, Charlie Manuel, would agree with me. His response being:

I wish [Hamels had] been a little bit more, what do you call it, not so honest, or dishonest, or discreet, that might be the right word. What I saw was the next time Hamels came up to bat, they definitely retaliated, he got hit on the calf and he could have got hurt. If the guy would have hit him hard on the bone part of his leg, that could have hurt. … I like to think it was dropped right there and the rest of it will be done baseball-wise.

Major League Baseball made the decision to suspend Cole Hamles for five games (or one start) for intentionally hitting Harper. A lot of people feel that’s not long enough. I’m sure one of those people would be Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo, who stated:

I’ve never seen a more classless, gutless [expletive] act in my 30 years in baseball. Cole Hamels says he’s old school? He’s the polar opposite of old school. He’s fake tough. He thinks he’s going to intimidate us after hitting our 19-year-old rookie who’s eight games into the big leagues? He doesn’t know who he’s dealing with.

I’m not sure I’d go as far as saying “he doesn’t know who he’s dealing with”, but I too don’t agree with the intentional plunking of Harper. It’s a sloppy situation all the way around.

No matter which side you’re on, or who you root for, this is an interesting story. This is how rivalries form. This is how you sell tickets, and thus fill ballparks. And to the suspected delight of Harper (who is known to love the spotlight) it can all be traced back to him.

Latest MLB Leaders (March 28th-April 30th)

With the first full month of the 2012 MLB season in the books I thought I’d take the first day of the new month to recap the season thus far. It’s been exciting, as well as disappointing–depending on how you look at it, and who you’re rooting for.

Instead of talking about the events that have taken place so far this year, I decided to make a list of different categories and beside them name the player(s) that lead that particular category. I did something similar last year, but not until September. I’m planning on posting an entry like this on the first day of each month. (That would make 5 more of these if you’re keeping score at home.)

The following lists are categorized into hitting and pitching, but NOT AL or NL:

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL)- HITTING

Most Games Played-Chase Headley, Ichiro Suzuki, and Will Venable (24)

Most At-Bats-Yunel Escobar and Ichiro Suzuki (102)

Most Hits-Derek Jeter (37)

Highest Average-Matt Kemp (.417)

Most Runs-Matt Kemp and Ian Kinsler (24)

Most Triples-Orlando Hudson (4)

Most Home Runs-Matt Kemp (12)

Most RBI’s-Josh Hamilton and Matt Kemp (25)

Most Base On Balls-Joey Votto (20)

Most Strikeouts-Adam Dunn (34)

Most Stolen Bases-Starlin Castro and Dee Gordon (10)

Most Caught Stealing-Will Venable (5)

Most Intentional Base On Balls-David Wright (5)

Most Hit By Pitch-Josh Willingham (4)

Most Sacrifice Flies-Johnny Cueto (6)

Most Total Bases-Matt Kemp (75)

Most Extra Base Hits-Edwin Encarnacion and Matt Kemp (16)

Most Grounded Into Double Plays-Luke Scott (6)

Most Ground Outs-Yunel Escobar (53)

Most Air Outs-J.J. Hardy and Josh Reddick (36)

Most Number Of Pitches Faced-Emilio Bonifacio (467)

Most Plate Appearances-Yunel Escobar and Ian Kinsler (110)

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL)- PITCHING

Most Wins-Eight way tie for most (4)

Most Losses-Ervin Santana (5)

Best ERA-Joe Saunders (0.90)

Most Games Started-Four way tie for most (6)

Most Games Pitched-Kenley Jansen (14)

Most Saves-Craig Kimbrel and Jonathan Papelbon (8)

Most Innings Pitched-Felix Hernandez (44.1)

Most Hits Allowed-Brandon McCarthy (45)

Most Runs Allowed-Clay Buchholz (29)

Most Earned Runs Allowed-Clay Buchholz (28)

Most Home Runs Allowed-Ervin Santana (10)

Most Srikeouts-Felix Hernandez (42)

Most Walks-Yu Darvish, Justin Masterson and Jonathan Sanchez (17)

Most Complete Games-Jake Peavy (2)

Most Shutouts-Six way tie for first (1)

Most Hit Batsmen-Johnny Cueto (5)

Most Games Finished-Brandon League (12)

Most Groundouts Achieved-Henderson Alvarez (56)

Most Double Plays Achieved-Jaime Garcia (9)

Most Wild Pitches-Freddy Garcia (5)

Most Balks-Cole Hamels (2)

Most Stolen Bases Allowed-Matt Latos (9)

Most Pickoffs-Derek Holland (3)

Most Batters Faced-Felix Hernandez (177)

Most Pitches Thrown-Felix Hernandez (637)

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