July 2012

Pair of Prospects Set To Make Their MLB Debuts

It’s been a long time coming for Mets’ number 2 prospect, Matt Harvey, and Pirates’ number 3 prospect, Starling Marte, who are set to make their MLB debuts tonight against the Diamondbacks and Astros, respectively. Neither is making their debut in front of the home fans, but rather on the road. I imagine it’d be more of a thrill for them to have the backing of the home crowd in their debuts, but I’m sure they could care less. What matters is that their hard work has finally paid off, and as a result, they’re finally getting a shot in “The Show”.

Starling Marte is due to make his debut against Astros’ starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel is 1-2, with a 4.03 ERA, so I feel he’ll be no match for Marte who’s been hot as of late with AAA Indianapolis. (With Indianapolis, Marte posted a .286 average, with 12 home runs, 62 RBI’s and 21 stolen bases.)

The plan is for Marte to play left field, where he certainly has the skills to. Marte is an above average defensive outfielder, and with his speed, has the ability cover a lot of ground to track down balls that your average outfielder might not be able to get to.

Marte’s hot bat, and excellent defensive skills, are sure to make for an exciting debut.

Matt Harvey is also sure to impress in his debut tonight against the Diamondbacks. He’ll be facing a tough lineup, however, as well as starting pitcher, Wade Miley, who’s had great success so far this season.

Through 19 games (16 of which he’s started) Miley has gone 11-5, with a 3.02 ERA. Fairly intimidating stats, but nothing that Harvey can’t match. Through 20 starts with AAA Buffalo, Harvey went 7-5, with a 3.68 ERA. Stats not too terribly far off those of Miley.

The one thing that really sets Harvey apart, in my mind, from Miley, is his ratio of strike outs per nine innings of work. Harvey posts a 9.2 ratio, compared to a mere 6.8 for Miley.

I’d be the first to state that you can’t always make a fair comparison using just stats, but in this case, it’s fairly obvious that Harvey is the overall more dominant pitcher. Which is why I feel he’ll get the win tonight in his debut.

While I feel both Marte and Harvey are going to have great debuts tonight, I want to hear what you think:

UPDATE

To answer the poll, in terms of who had the better MLB debut between Harvey and Marte, I’m not sure. It’s hard to compare a position player to a pitcher. Both did outstanding, but if I had to pick one of the debuts, I’d have to say Harvey’s was the more impressive of the two; but again, it’s a tough comparison.

Starling Marte started his MLB career off with a bang, as he sent the first pitch he faced in his Major League career over the wall for a home run:

That first pitch home run is only the 13th since the year 2000. Here’s the full list of players to smack a home run on the first pitch of their MLB careers, since the year 2000:

Starling Marte Pirates 7/26/12
Tommy Milone Nationals 9/3/11
J.P. Arencibia Blue Jays 8/7/11
Daniel Nava Red Sox 6/12/10
Mark Saccomanno Astros 9/8/08
Kevin Kouzmanoff Indians 9/2/06
Adam Wainwright Cardinals 5/24/06
Andy Phillips Yankees 9/26/04
Kaz Matsui Mets 4/6/04
Marcus Thames Yankees 6/10/02
Gene Stechschulte Cardinals 4/17/01
Chris Richard Cardinals 7/17/00
Esteban Yan Rays 6/4/00

Starling Marte would go 1-3 in the rest of the game. An impressive debut to say the least.

Matt Harvey also had an incredible debut, going 5.1 innings, striking out 11, and allowing just 3 hits. Harvey’s 11 strikeouts sets a record for most strikeouts by a Mets’ Rookie in his MLB debut.

The thing that impressed me even more than his electric stuff, was the fact that Harvey can hit. In his first career at-bat Harvey smacked the ball over the head of the center fielder (who misplayed the ball) for a double. Harvey would single in his next at-bat, to go 2-2 on the night.

Given the fact that Starling Marte homered on the first pitch of his MLB career, and Matt Harvey struck out more batters than any other Mets’ rookie in their MLB debut, I’m sure we can all agree that both Marte and Harvey lived up to the hype.

Plan For the Remainder of the 2012 Regular Season

I was originally going to make this entry a recap of the MLB news stories that have taken place since the last time I blogged. But then I got to thinking, and I decided that going back over topics that are “old news” didn’t make much sense. So I decided to type this up instead.

My plan, starting tomorrow, is to continue blogging about the stories as they happen. In addition, I’m planning to blog more frequently than I have been over the past few months. I feel I owe it to all of you readers. Without you all, I’d have no reason to blog.

I bring this up due to the fact that I’m currently sitting just shy of 50,000 blog views all-time. (A number that I never could’ve imagined I’d reach, when I began blogging a little over a year and a half ago.)

In conclusion, thank you all for reading, and thanks for being patient while I took a break from blogging. I’ll be back at it starting tomorrow……

2012 State Farm Home Run Derby

If you follow me on twitter then you’re probably aware that I received an all expense paid trip to the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby courtesy of State Farm. You may not, however, be aware that I made the trip out west with my Grandpa. With that said….

July 8, 2012: Arriving In Kansas City

My Grandpa and I arrived at our hotel in downtown Kansas City at around 4:00:

Did you notice the All Star logos? Well, they were everywhere, including the lobby:

But things didn’t stop there. The logo was even on the room card:

I could go on and on about all the different places I saw the logo, but I won’t for two reasons: a) I lost count, and b) I think you get the idea. It was truly insane.

After checking into the hotel there was still a little time left to kill before we were supposed to meet up with the other bloggers in the lobby for dinner, so my Grandpa and I decided to head over to the Kansas City Convention Center, where Fan Fest was being held. On the way there we stopped by to pick up our credentials, which allowed us to come and go from Fan Fest as we pleased. Mine looked like this:

We spent an hour or so walking around and checking out everything there was to see:

It was a massive place, and there was a lot going on, but the world’s largest baseball was the one thing that really caught my eye:

To get an idea of how large it really was, take a look at the guy on the right (in the blue shirt). I realize he’s still a good distance away from it, but even if he was RIGHT next to it, he wouldn’t appear much taller. In addition to its size, there were also tons of signatures on the baseball. Some of them I didn’t recognize, but the autos of guys like George Brett, Bud Selig, etc., were the ones that stood out the most.

Around 5:30 we headed back over to the hotel. On the way I stopped to snap a photo of the fountain out front:

I’m not sure how they kept the water so blue, but it was pretty cool.

We met up with my fellow bloggers at around 6:15 and headed over to Jack Stack BBQ to eat. The food was great, and the portion sizes were large. (Two things that combine for me eating too much.)

After we finished eating, and discussing the plan for the next day, we made our way back to the hotel. My Grandpa and I went to bed before 10:00. The next day was going to start early, and end late, so we were going to need all the rest we could get.

July 9, 2012: Home Run Derby

Our day started out with a short walk over to the convention center, at 5:45 am. Ryan Howard–who would be putting on a hitting clinic later in the day for the BGCA–had already arrived. After waiting for Howard to finish up with a short interview he was conducting, we all got our chance to chat with him. I’m a big fan of Howard, and had been looking forward to meeting him for weeks, so when the time finally came I was pretty excited:

Don’t be fooled by my half-smile expression. I really WAS thrilled to meet him. I was just a bit tired. Getting up earlier than most of the people in Kansas City will do that to you; but it was well worth it.

My Grandpa didn’t pass up the opportunity to meet Howard either, as he had me take a picture of the both of them together:

Good times.

After the meet and greet, Ryan Howard took a short break to get something to eat/drink, before getting set up for 3 straight hours of live TV interviews. My Grandpa and I stuck around for a bit to watch Howard do his thing, before we went back to the hotel for a couple of hours. On our way to the exit we passed by a small group of people. On closer inspection, this is who they were crowded around:

That would be Cal Ripken Jr.

I’m assuming that’s a baseball player he’s talking to, and I admit I should probably know who it is, but I can’t figure it out. If anyone could identify him for me I’d appreciate it. (Just leave a comment below.)

We were told to arrive back to the Convention Center by 9:30, but we ended up showing back up when Fan Fest opened at 9:00. By the time we made our way over to where Ryan Howard had been earlier in the morning he was still hard at work doing interviews for various TV shows:

One of the main things Howard was promoting (and the reason he was there) was the State Farm Go To Bat program where people just like you, the reader, can “go to bat” in the online game to help raise money for charity. In addition to helping out various charities, you also have the chance to win a trip for two to a game during the 2012 World Series–as if the chance to raise money for charity wasn’t enough. So be sure to head over to check that out by either clicking the above link, or you can just CLICK HERE.

Ryan Howard finished up with the interviews a few minutes after I took that last picture, but his day wasn’t done. After taking a short break Howard began conducting a hitting clinic with several kids from the Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA):

I know it appears as if the kid Howard is instructing was the only one there, but there were 20-30 kids sitting on the ground just out of the shot. (You’ll see them in a second.)

After a quick demonstration, it was time for the kids to show what kind of skills they had, as they were broken up into groups and put into batting cages:

They received 10 swings apiece. Some of which were really impressive.

After the kids from the BGCA had their shot, each of us bloggers got our turn. I was really concerned about not doing well. I mean, I don’t play baseball, and there were around 100+ people watching; including media members, random onlookers that had formed outside of the batting area, and of course, Ryan Howard himself. But I just had fun with it, and didn’t do all that bad.

Although there was no timing involved–since the ball was on a stationary tee–I still had issues with pulling the ball. Not that I couldn’t do it, but that I couldn’t stop doing it. I pulled my first 6 or so balls before I decided to readjust my feet, which really helped me out. My next swing sent the ball sailing over the wall. Given, the wall was a mere 100 feet or less away, I was still thrilled. All I wanted to do was hit ONE home run, and I did. Mission accomplished.

After we all finished hitting, Ryan Howard stepped to the plate and took a few hacks:

It should go without saying that he did better than the rest of us.

After everything was over, Howard posed for a picture with the kids, and the 5,000 dollar donation check from State Farm:

They all wanted to be touching at least a portion of the check, and I think they succeeded.

After taking the picture with the check, many of the kids handed Howard items for him to sign, which he did with no problem. I was really impressed with how friendly he was. I’ve always had that impression of Howard, but until you meet someone in person you never really know for sure.

On our way out we passed by Harold Reynolds (who I had actually seen in the lobby of our hotel the night before):

We all went out to a group lunch at the Webster House, before heading over to Kauffman Stadium at around 3:00:

Upon arrival we all headed over to the Habitat for Humanity build:

After learning a good amount about the Habitat for Humanity program, my fellow bloggers and I each signed our names to the house:

I didn’t write anything special, just: “God Bless–Matthew Huddleston”.

Some celebrities had signed the beams of the house as well, including guys like Bo Jackson…..:

…..and this guy:

Yep, Derek Jeter. AWESOME.

You have to get really technical, but if you think about it, I signed my name to the *same* house as my favorite player in all of baseball; which is beyond cool. Even if my name IS 100 feet away from his, and thus isn’t on the same beam, it’s still the *same* house. Maybe you don’t get it, but in my mind it counts.

We spent awhile at the build before we all headed over to the ballpark, and entered the MLB Fan Cave. This was the view:

Two of my favorite TV shows were being filmed during this time. Directly to my right was Baseball Tonight:

And just down the line was Intentional Talk:

After a few minutes, the cave dwellers appeared:

They all seemed like cool people–with a really cool “job”.

Minutes before we left the Fan Cave area, my fellow bloggers and I posed for a group photo:

From left to right you have: ME, Candy, Audrey and JR. Feel free to click on each of the names to be taken directly to their twitter pages. (I suggest you give them each a follow.)

After leaving the cave I made my way down towards the area where MLB Tonight was being filmed:

To my surprise there was no one checking tickets to keep you out of areas you didn’t belong, so I managed to work my way down the line and into the front row, where I was able to capture photos of some of the All Star players that kept walking by. Below are some of the better ones I got:

Bryce Harper doing an interview on MLB Tonight.

Mike Trout during his interview.

Yu Darvish. (In the red spikes.)

Chris Rose and Kevin Millar. (Hosts of Intentional Talk.)

R.A. Dickey.

Matt Kemp.

And, last but not least, Chipper Jones.

Everyone was asked to return to their assigned seats a few minutes before the conclusion of batting practice. That wasn’t a big deal, because our seats were pretty awesome:

I was in seat 21, in row KK, in section 221. (Just in case you care.)

Reggie Jackson (who happened to be on our flight out of Kansas City the next morning) threw out the first pitch:

The sluggers then posed for a group photo down around home plate:

Shortly thereafter, the derby got underway.

I hated that Giancarlo Stanton couldn’t participate in the derby due to an injury. He would of put on an amazing show. His replacement, Andrew McCutchen, did as poorly as I had expected. The biggest shock of the derby was Robinson Cano’s performance. I expected him to at least make it past the first round, but he didn’t even hit a single home run. It was very disappointing to say the least.

My pick to win the derby was Prince Fielder. I’m not just saying that now, after seeing Fielder win. I honestly made the statement several hours before the derby even began. In my mind, it was a sure bet; though Bautista gave him a run for his money.

In the end, the world saw Prince Fielder beat out Jose Bautista in the final round…..:

…..to win his second career Home Run Derby title:

The only other player to win two Home Run Derbys’ being Ken Griffey Jr. Not a bad name to be associated with.

I had a fantastic time out in Kansas City at the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby. Everything went as smoothly as I could’ve ever wished for, and the weather was perfect. It was an experience that I’ll certainly never forget.

I was invited to the State Farm® Home Run Derby and Go to Bat kick-off programs by State Farm. All my travel, food, and lodging expenses were taken care of by State Farm. I was not paid to write this post.

June 23rd Reds vs. Twins Game & HOF Ceremony

My day started out in downtown Cincinnati, at the Red’s Hall Of Fame museum:

The doors opened up at 8:00 am, but I arrived at around 10:30. The reason I was going to the museum in the first place was the meet and greet that was going to run from 11:00-1:00, and it seemed unecessary to show up any earlier.

The first thing I saw after getting my ticket scanned and rounding the corner was a wall of game used jerseys, bats, etc., of former Reds’ greats:

Being a Hall of Fame museum there was a lot of this kind of stuff.

In addition to the Reds’ memorabilia, there was a lot of non-Reds’ items as well, including a game-used Roberto Clemente cap:

Pretty cool stuff.

After making my way through the first floor of the museum it was on to the third floor, where the meet and greet was being held. There was already a fairly large line, so I went ahead and jumped in it. After around 45 minutes of waiting, the line began moving, and the meet and greet got underway.

The players weren’t permitted to sign autographs, but you could go through the line and get your picture taken with them, which is exactly what I did:

I realize the numbers are fairly small, but I numbered the photos (in the bottom left corner) so you could identify each former player, with the above players being:

1. Mario Soto

2. Lee May

3. Gary Nolan

4. Jack Billingham

1.  George Foster

2. David Concepcion

3. Eric Davis

4. A random picture of a group of statues. (Put in to make everything uniform.)

Everyone I’m pictured with above was part of the first half of the meet and greet. The second half featured both Dan Driessen and Sean Casey, who were going to be officially inducted into the Red’s Hall of Fame later in the day:

(Yes, I realize the picture is a bit blurry.)

After the meet and greet was over, I picked up bobblehead number one of the day:

The Dan Driessen bobbles were given out to everyone who paid for admission into the Red’s Hall of Fame museum.

After I was done at the museum, I made a brief visit to the gift shop (home of the 40 dollar t-shirt) before finally heading over to the main entrance of Great American Ballpark:

Signs of the upcoming Hall of Fame induction were everywhere. None bigger than the sign in the above picture hanging from the stadium wall. Here’s a closer look:

While I was standing in front of the ballpark taking it all in, Sean Casey emerged from the HOF museum, and was immediately mobbed by people wanting to take pictures, and get autographs:

Casey was really cool about it, as he must of taken 50 pictures, and signed just as many autographs in a 10 minute span.

While all of this was happening, there was also a block party taking place in the street. It began at around 11:00, but by the time Casey made his way to the stage that was set up for the band that had been playing all morning, it was around 1:15.

Casey didn’t talk long, but it was cool to see the fans react to him the way they did. There were at least a couple thousand people packed into the street, and they were all big fans of the Cincinnati Red’s and Sean Casey:

After Casey finished talking, I made walked back over to the gates behind home plate. The promotion for the game was that the first 25,000 fans would recieve a Sean Casey bobblehead, and I wanted to make sure I was one of them.

To my surprise the lines were already fairly long by the time I got back:

Fortunately I was able to pass the time by watching a human statue, and waiting for him to move:

Except for the occasional patting on the head to unsuspecting kids who stopped to pose with the “statue” for a picture, he never did move. Never.

Due to the large crowds the gates opened up 45 minutes before they normally would have, and I was thrilled. It was pretty hot outside, and standing in the direct sun was almost unbearable.

As I stated earlier it was Sean Casey bobblehead day, and they certainly had a lot of them:

I quickly grabbed my bobblehead and made my way to my seat to check out the view:

Not bad.

As you can tell, batting practice was in full swing (no pun intended), and it stayed that way for another hour or so. BP ended at around 3:00, and with the Hall of Fame ceremony set to start at 3:30 I decided to take a break from the heat and walk around the shaded concourse.

A few minutes into my walk I noticed a crowd beginning to form:

Curiosity got the better of me, and I headed over to check it out. As I got closer, this was my view:

Jim Day (on the left) and….well, I’m not sure who that is on the right (help?) were broadcasting the Red’s pregame show live on Fox Sports Ohio. I’m 99% sure I was on TV, but since I didn’t record the broadcast, or know of anyone who did, or even watched, I can’t say for sure.

I stood and watched for around 5 minutes before heading back to my seat. By the time I got back the groundscrew were hard at work getting everything set up for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony:

It wasn’t long before the seats were filled with 20 or so Red’s Hall of Famers (2 of which are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame):

The start of the ceremony had each player standing up as their name was called. Johnny Bench recieved the biggest applause from the crowd:

After each player’s name had been called the induction speeches began. Driessen and Casey gave their own but the great great great great nephew of the late John Reilly, Kirtley Kinman, gave the speech for him:

Sean Casey gave his speech last and it seemed as if Driessen and Reilly were overshadowed by him. But when your nickname is “The Mayor” I guess that’s to be expected.

Casey and Driessen threw out the first pitches of the game:

Let me just say it was obvious neither were pitchers in their playing days.

The game itself wasn’t anything spectacular, with the Reds winning 6-0. The most interesting part of the game occured in the 4th inning when Scott Rolen hit his 507th career double to move past Babe Ruth on the all-time list:

Anytime you pass Babe Ruth in any category, you know you’ve accomplished something noteworthy.

This year’s game went much better than last year’s, when I didn’t even make it through the gates due to a rain out. Now that I’ve been inside I can say that Great American Ballpark is an extremely nice park, that I hope to visit again sometime in the future.

The next MLB ballpark I’ll be visiting is Kauffman Stadium for the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby on July 9th. More on that a little later in the week…..

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

With the first three months of the 2012 MLB season in the books I thought I’d take the first day of the July to recap the season thus far.

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’m planning on posting an entry like this on the first day of each month. (That would make 3 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-Shane Victorino (80)

Most At-Bats-Ian Kinsler (333)

Most Hits-Melky Cabrera (109)

Highest Average-Carlos Ruiz (.358)

Most Runs-Ian Kinsler (60)

Most Triples-Dexter Fowler (8)

Most Home Runs-Jose Bautista (26)

Most RBI’s-Josh Hamilton (73)

Most Base On Balls-Adam Dunn (64)

Most Strikeouts-Adam Dunn (125)

Most Stolen Bases-Tony Campana and Dee Gordon. (25)

Most Caught Stealing-Starlin Castro (9)

Most Intentional Base On Balls-Joey Votto (12)

Most Hit By Pitch-Carlos Ruiz (12)

Most Sacrifice Flies-Chris Capuano (12)

Most Total Bases-Josh Hamilton (180)

Most Extra Base Hits-Joey Votto (47)

Most Grounded Into Double Plays-Miguel Cabrera (16)

Most Ground Outs-Derek Jeter (152)

Most Air Outs-J.J. Hardy (112)

Most Number of Pitches Faced-Adam Dunn (1,541)

Most Plate Appearances-Ian Kinsler (366)

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL)- Pitching

Most Wins-R.A. Dickey (12)

Most Losses-Hector Noesi (10)

Best ERA-Brandon Beachy (2.00)

Most Games Started-Four players tied for most.

Most Games Pitched-Tim Byrdak (40)

Most Saves-Jim Johnson, Craig Kimbrel and Chris Perez. (23)

Most Innings Pitched-Justin Verlander (123.2)

Most Hits Allowed-Derek Lowe (119)

Most Runs Allowed-Jake Arrieta (66)

Most Earned Runs Allowed-Jake Arrieta (63)

Most Home Runs Allowed-Jason Vargas (21)

Most Strikeouts-Stephen Strasburg (122)

Most Walks-Edinson Volquez (60)

Most Complete Games-Jake Peavy and Justin Verlander. (4)

Most Shutouts-Brandon Morrow (3)

Most Hit Batsmen-Gavin Floyd (9)

Most Games Finished-Alfredo Aceves (33)

Most Groundouts Achieved-Henderson Alvarez (176)

Most Double Plays Achieved-Henderson Alvarez (18)

Most Wild Pitches-Tim Lincecum and Henry Rodriguez. (9)

Most Balks-Ian Kennedy (4)

Most Stolen Bases Allowed-A.J. Burnett (17)

Most Pickoffs-Johnny Cueto (6)

Most Batters Faced-Justin Verlander (486)

Most Pitches Thrown-Justin Verlander (1,917)

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