Today marks the two-year anniversary of the day I sat down to begin ‘The Unbiased MLB Fan’. Starting this blog was more of a spur of the moment thing than it was me looking to begin a long term blog. At the time, I never could’ve imagined that I would keep at it long enough to be typing up a two-year anniversary post; to his day, I’m still surprised that I kept with it. But I’ve come to love blogging, and interacting with fellow baseball fans, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
To mark the occasion, I’ve decided to take a look back at the past two years, using a timeline, of sorts, to tell the basic story of how my blog came to be where it is now (click the headers to be taken to each post):
As the header would suggest, this was the first blog entry I ever published. It covered who I am, and the fact that I have no favorite team that I root for more than another team. While it does a decent job at getting the general point across, looking back, I’m fairly appalled at how horribly written it is. The post doesn’t flow, the grammar is terrible and my punctuation is subpar. Given, I’m by no means a professional writer now-I’m sure there are tons of issues with this post–compared to my writing style now, it’s almost as if it was a completely different person who wrote that first post. I suppose, in a way, it was.
I didn’t start out with interview intentions. I merely emailed Jerry Dior (the designer of the MLB logo) to ask him questions I had about the design process, and the story behind the logo. It wasn’t until a month later that I had the idea of putting the questions into an interview format for a post on my newly established blog. In the days after posting it, I noticed that people seemed to have a good reaction to the interview, so it was at that point that I decided to begin interviewing ballplayers; the interviews took off from there. I’ve now conducted several dozen interviews, and plan on continuing to do them in the future, as long as the players continue to be willing.
This has nothing to do with my blog, yet it has everything to do with its success. Signing up for Twitter not only allowed for a way for me to get in contact with ballplayers for interviews, but it also served (and still serves) as a way of spreading the link to each new post, around to baseball fans everywhere. If it wasn’t for Twitter, it’s very possible that I would’ve discontinued my blog, as my reader base wouldn’t have been as fast to grow.
This is more of a personal entry than it is an informative one. In this blog post, I detailed exactly how Bernie Williams came to be my favorite player to ever play the game of baseball. There’s a great story behind it, but I really don’t want to say much more than that. If you’re truly interested, feel free to click the header to be taken to the post I did on the subject.
Yet another Bernie Williams post, but this one is more somber than the first. With the ten-year anniversary of 9/11 approaching, I decided to contact Bernie Williams on Twitter to ask if he’d be willing to share his own personal experience and memories from that horrid day. He agreed to it, and after a bit of back and forth conversation, of me detailing exactly what I wanted him to talk about, I received an email from Williams, containing a fairly long response. If you don’t read another blog entry from this anniversary post, I suggest you read this one.
Ozzie Guillen and the Miami Marlins played a large part in making my blog as successful as it is today. The article I wrote on the “new look Marlins” caused my blog to absolutely explode, in terms of views. In the months following when I first posted the entry, I received day after day of several hundred view days. In all, that one post racked me up over 11,000 views, all by itself. While things have backed off slightly since then, I still have a fairly large reader base, and it can all be traced back to that one post.
After a year’s worth of blogging, I was fairly anxious to see how I would stack up against all of the great blogs around the MLBlogs community. I was fairly stunned when the results came out, stating that my blog was the 35th most viewed blog of 2011. That alone gave me a reason to continue blogging.
While my post on the Marlins netted me the most views for a single blog post, the entry I posted on the Cleveland Indians-Carolina Mudcats exhibition game, for some reason, led to the most views in the history of my blog on a single day. I’m still not all that sure as to why, but people came flocking to my blog on that particular day, netting me a total of 892 views. I haven’t had a day since that’s received more than 615 views; but I hope to change that this year.
Living in North Carolina, I don’t get the chance to attend an MLB game all that often. As a matter of fact, this particular post recapped the first MLB game I attended since starting this blog. Therefore, it was the first MLB recap I’d ever done. The plan right now is to attend at least one MLB game this year, up in Milwaukee, so I’ll no doubt be blogging about that one as well.
The all expense paid trip I received to the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby, courtesy of State Farm, is by far the best thing to ever come out of this blog. While I’ve been fortunate enough to experience several blogging related benefits since then–which range from getting free stuff, to meeting ballplayers in person that I’ve interviewed–I feel confident in saying that nothing will ever top this.
As the MiLB equivalent of a World Series game 7, the 2012 Triple-A National Championship game is the most significant minor league baseball game I’ve ever attended, thus it’s the most significant MiLB blog posts I’ve done. Therefore, I wanted to include it in this two-year anniversary post. Getting to see Reno Aces win the National Championship, along with meeting 2011 American Idol winner, Scotty McCreery, made this great game even better.
After coming in 35th at the end of the 2011 blogging year, I had no idea what to expect going into the 2012 results. While I received over five times the number of views this past year as I did in 2011, I was still eager to see where I would rank. When the rankings were posted, I was ecstatic to find my blog at the number 17 spot. I truly appreciate all of those who read my blog.
This post wasn’t posted all that long ago, but I wanted to include it nonetheless. Basically, this post covers my goals for the 2013 blogging year. I won’t waste time going over what each of my five goals are, for those of you who remember. For those of you who’ve forgotten, and are curious, you can always click the header.
‘The Unbiased MLB Fan’ Fast Facts
Total number of words written to this point: 113,428 words
- Total number of posts: 211 posts
- Average number of words per post: 538 words
- Number of different country views: 113 different countries
As stated in previous posts, I hope to make 2013 the best blogging year yet; and that means posting content that you, the reader, enjoy reading about. So, if you have anything you’d like to see me do, or stop doing, please leave a comment below.
With Spring Training a month away–putting the 2013 regular season at just under 3 months away–I thought I’d take the time to type up a blog post covering six all-time MLB career records (3 hitting, 3 pitching) and whether or not I believe there are any active players that have a shot at eventually breaking the records, sometime down the line, many seasons from now.
Keep in mind, this is all purely speculative. I have no way of knowing how long a particular player will play, whether or not they’ll remain healthy throughout their entire career, or whether they can keep on producing the kind of stats they’ve shown, and I feel, they’re capable of. Each of those three elements are extremely crucial when it comes to a player being able to break any of the following records:
All-Time Record for career Hits: 4,256 (Pete Rose)
Closest: Derek Jeter, with 3,304 career hits, is currently the closest active player to Pete Rose’s mark of 4,256.
Best Chance: Derek Jeter, sitting 952 hits back of Pete Rose, stands the best chance of breaking Rose’s record, in my mind, of any other player currently in the majors. What it’s going to come down to for Jeter is how healthy he can stay, and subsequently, how many more years he can play. If he can play as long as Rose did–up until age 45–I see Jeter passing Rose fairly easily, as that gives him another seven seasons to rack up hits, and even if he starts to slump downward, and begins to collect only 140 hits a season, he would still end his career with a total of 4,284 hits. Though, with Jeter being a team player, and not focusing on personal stats, I’m not sure I can picture him playing long enough to get the job done.
Worth Watching: While it’s still far too early to be making any long shot predictions, Starlin Castro is one of the main players worth keeping an eye on in the many years to come. Castro will be a mere 23 years old when the 2013 season commences and has already collected 529 career hits. If he can play into his early 40′s, and keep pace with the electric start to his career, he could be nearing Rose’s (possibly Jeter’s by then?) record for career hits a couple decades down the road.
All-Time Record for career Homeruns: 762 (Barry Bonds)
Closest: Alex Rodriguez, with 647 career home runs, is currently the closest active player to Barry Bonds’ mark of 762.
Best Chance: Alex Rodriguez, sitting 115 homers back of Barry Bonds, is the closest of any current player to Barry Bonds’ record for homers, however, I don’t feel he has a very good chance at passing Bonds. With his injury tendency, and age, I don’t see A-rod getting too far past 700, if he gets there at all. Albert Pujols on the other hand, with 475 career home runs, stands a slightly better chance, in my opinion, than A-rod. Though, I feel he could end up sharing in the same fate as Rodriguez; coming up just short of 762. At age 33, even if Pujols played until age 40, and could keep up his career constant of 30 home runs a season, he would end his career with only 685 home runs. Still 77 back of Bonds.
Worth Watching: It’s still early into his career, but Giancarlo Stanton (age 23) is a player worth watching in the coming years, as he continues to add to his current total of 93 career home runs. I found it interesting when I discovered that Albert Pujols (71), Hank Aaron (63), Barry Bonds (41) nor Babe Ruth (9) had as many home runs as Stanton, going into their age 23 season. That’s impressive. While I’m by no means comparing Stanton to Babe Ruth (just yet) I’m simply saying that if Stanton can go on a run of blasting 40+ homers a season, for the next few seasons, I could see him coming up extremely close to the record that Bonds currently holds, if he doesn’t in fact break it.
All-Time Record for career RBI’s: 2,297 (Hank Aaron)
Closest: Alex Rodriguez, with 1,950 RBI’s, is currently the closest active player to Hank Aaron’s mark of 2,297.
Best Chance: Alex Rodriguez is currently the closest player to the record for RBI’s, however, just as with career home runs, his health is going to bring him up just short of the record. Also as with the home run category, the next closest in line behind A-rod is Albert Pujols, who currently has 1,434 career RBI’s. While Pujols has been able to drive in no fewer than 100 runs in every one of his 12 career seasons thus far–with the exception being 2011, when he only drove in 99 runs–I don’t see him having enough 100 RBI seasons left to break the record. As it stands now, Pujols is 863 RBI’s back of Aaron, meaning it would take just over eight more seasons of 100+ RBI’s to pass him.
Worth Watching: Miguel Cabrera, currently with 1,123 career RBI’s, is a player worth watching moving forward, if you weren’t already. At age 29, Cabrera could have another 11 seasons ahead of him, and if he can accumulate around 100 RBI’s a season, he could end up passing Aaron for RBI’s, around a decade from now. Although 100+ RBI’s a season, for 11 season, will be difficult (if not impossible) to do, as he gets older, if anyone can do it, I imagine the 2012 Triple Crown winner can.
All-Time Record for career Strikeouts: 5,714 (Nolan Ryan)
Closest: Andy Pettitte, with 2,320 strikeouts, is currently the closest active player to Nolan Ryan’s mark of 5,714.
Best Chance: I’m not even going to waste time talking about this record. No active player–or future player for that matter–stands a chance at breaking Nolan Ryan’s all-time record of 5,714 strikeouts. While Andy Pettitte is the closest active player, he’s still 3,394 strikeouts away from Ryan; truly showing just how hard it is to do what Nolan Ryan was able to accomplish.
Worth Watching: Though it’s likely that no player will ever surpass Ryan for career strikeouts, the player most worth watching, in my mind, is Felix Hernandez. Hernandez is only 26 years old, and has already amassed 1,487 career strikeouts. If he can continue to pitch up until age 40–14 more seasons of 200+ strikeouts–he stands a good chance of ending his career with over 4,000 strikeouts. Still nearly 2,000 shy of Ryan’s record, but impressive nonetheless, as only four players in the history of baseball have been able to accumulate 4,000 strikeouts or more.
All-Time Record for career ERA: 1.82 (Ed Walsh)
Closest: Mariano Rivera, with an ERA of 2.21, is currently the closest active player to Ed Walsh’s mark of 1.82.
Best Chance: The way pitching works nowadays, I don’t think it’s possible for a pitcher to end with a career ERA below 2.00; at least for a starting pitcher, that is. Evidence of that being that Mariano Rivera is the only active player in all of Major League Baseball with a career ERA below 3.00; and thus falls into the category of ‘best chance’ of breaking the record. But not even Rivera, with his 2.21 ERA, has a chance at a career ERA below 2.00. As even if he doesn’t allow a single earned run in this his (more than likely) final season, his career ERA would still stand above 2.00, at 2.11.
Worth Watching: There really aren’t any pitchers worth watching. I’d say Walsh’s record is fairly safe. As stated, no current player in the majors has a career ERA below 3.00, so as it stands, no active player has a shot at a career ERA below 2.00.
All-Time Record for career Wins: 511 (Cy Young)
Closest: Andy Pettitte, with 245 wins, is currently the closest active player to Cy Young’s mark of 511 wins.
Best Chance: Andy Pettite is the closest of any player to Cy Young’s mark of 511 career wins, but even so, he sits 266 wins back. Thus, let’s face it: There is never going to be another 500-game winning pitcher, as pitching isn’t gone about the same way as it was back then. As such, I find it more of a fair comparison to match today’s players up against a guy like Greg Maddux, who ended his career with 355 wins. Of those, C.C. Sabathia, age 32, stands the best shot, in my mind, of reaching the 300 win plateau. Currently with 191 career wins, if Sabathia can pitch another 8 seasons, and rack up 14+ wins a season, he should get there without a problem; as keeping with my logic, he would end his career with at least 303 wins.
Worth Watching: While there are never going to be any more 500-game winning pitchers, the current pitcher (besides Sabathia) worth keeping an eye on, for the possibility of reaching 300 career wins, is Justin Verlander. Verlander, age 29, doesn’t stand an extremely good chance, in my opinion, of reaching 300 wins, as although he’s still fairly young, he only has 124 career wins. Therefore, it would take 11 straight seasons of 16+ wins to reach the 300 win mark. Not very likely, but then again, it’s Justin Verlander. I wouldn’t put anything past him.
What do you think? Does any (active or future) player stand a chance at breaking any of the six all-time records listed above? Leave a comment with your thoughts.
When Egraphs first launched, back in July of 2012, it was merely a product for fans of Major League Baseball. While that’s just fine for many of you reading–as the majority of you are presumably baseball fans–for those of you who are fans of other sports, you were out of luck for the past six months. But that’s not the case any more, as Egraphs has recently broadened it’s horizon to include the National Basketball Association.
But it’s not a real mystery as to why the Egraph concept has been so well received by sports fans around the country.
Egraphs is one of the most ingenious sports related ideas to come along in awhile, as it allows for a player-to-fan interaction that no other company is able to provide–making it a one of a kind product.
As I first wrote about last month, Egraphs isn’t simply unique in the sense that it provides an electronically produced autograph from your favorite sports figure. What makes this product incredible is the personal audio message that comes along with each Egraph, recorded just for you, by the player in which you purchase the Egraph from. There’s currently no other company that even comes close to offering anything on the same level.
Running anywhere from 25-125 dollars, depending on the player–including guys like Hakeem Olajuwon, Tracy McGrady and Stephen Curry from the NBA, and R.A. Dickey, David Price and Ryan Braun from MLB–Egraphs is a must-have for any sports fan.
Whether you’re a fan of the NBA, MLB, or both, the cost of an Egraph is truly a small price to pay for a priceless interaction with the athlete you idolize.
While an Egraph normally runs 25 dollars and up, I’ve teamed up with Egraphs to give away one at a very discounted price: FREE. That’s right; you have a chance to receive a free Egraph from the (NBA or MLB) player of your choice.
The rules for entering to win are fairly simple:
- You MUST be following myself and Egraphs on Twitter. If you’re not, you aren’t eligible to win. So go ahead and make sure you’re doing that, by following me (@MLBFollower1) and Egraphs (@Egraphs) on Twitter.
- Fill out the ’Egraph Giveaway’ form by clicking HERE.
- You’re only allowed to enter once. While the form will let you enter as many times as you’d like, I’ll be checking, and if your information shows up more than once, you automatically become ineligible to win. So, please, enter only once.
You have from now until 11:59:59 p.m. EST on Monday, January 21st to enter.
The randomly selected winner will be announced on Tuesday, January 22nd, on Twitter.
The contest is over. A winner has been selected.
The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon that, for the first time since 1996, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) failed to elect a single player, from the 2013 ballot, into the Baseball Hall of Fame. This causing a vast amount of controversy among the baseball world, as everyone seems to have a different opinion in regards to the voting results.
There are those who are glad that no players got in, there are those who are upset that no players got in, and then there are guys like me, who fall somewhere in between. I’m not all that upset that not a single player received the required 75% of the vote needed to get into the Hall of Fame, but, at the same time, I would’ve liked to have seen at least a couple of guys make it into the HOF, from the 2013 ballot.
But it is what it is; there’s always next year.
What it comes down to for me is the fact that this didn’t have to happen. Had the ‘Steroid Era’ never of occurred, the likes of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds would’ve been first ballot Hall of Famers, no question about it. Instead, they might not ever get in, as they only received 37.6% and 36.2% of the vote, respectively, this time around. For them to eventually get a plaque in the Hall of Fame, they will have to amass double the number of votes they did in this year’s vote, and I just don’t see that happening.
While they each have an additional 14 years of eligibility, I feel the voters have already made up their minds, for the most part. While a few members of the BBWAA might’ve merely held off in voting for Bonds and Clemens, in this their first year, just to prove a point, and might end up voting for them eventually, either you think Bonds and Clemens should get into the Hall of Fame or you think they shouldn’t. End of story.
But where does that leave the rest of the players from that era? Guys like Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling, who were never proven to have taken anything, but fall under the cloud of suspicion due to the era in which they played. Well, I see it like this:
They pretty much fall into the same category as those connected to PED use. Either the voters are going to vote for them, or they aren’t. There’s not much grey area here, as far as I can see, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the voters aren’t going on suspicion alone and just decided not to vote in Biggio, Piazza and Schilling this time around for one reason or another. For the sake of the Hall of Fame, I surely hope so. Leaving out Biggio, Piazza and Schilling would be a real shame.
The other main player I’d like to talk about, that many people feel should be a HOF’er, but didn’t make the cut yet again this year, is Jack Morris. Morris was a great player, but, in my mind, he’s not Hall of Fame worthy.
The thing that gets me the most when people try to make a case for Morris, is their tendency to use the intimidation factor as the reason they feel he deserves to get in; that you didn’t want to face Morris in any given situation. But it’s not the Hall of Intimidation, it’s the Hall of Fame. The place where the games’ all-time greats get enshrined to forever be seen by generations of baseball fans to come. To me, a career 3.90 ERA just doesn’t cut it. Thus, I agree with Morris not getting in–this being his 14th time on the ballot.
While the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot saw no players receiving the necessary number of votes needed to get elected, there are multiple players set to be added to the ballot in 2014 who are shoo-ins to get in on the first go around.
Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas are three of the favorites to do just that, with some making the same case for guys like Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent. We’ll just have to wait to see, but no matter what happens, there are sure to be at least a few players who get into the Hall of Fame in 2014.
In addition to the near certainty that several players will be voted in in 2014, next year’s vote should tell the tale once and for all of whether or not Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens stand even a slight chance of ever getting into the Hall of Fame.
If their percentages jump a large amount–due to BBWAA members voting for them that didn’t in 2013–they might have a shot of getting in, several years down the road. If they fail to receive greater than a few more percentage points, however, I’d say it’s a lost cause for two of the best players to every play the game of Major League Baseball.
With the 2013 Hall of Fame class set to be announced tomorrow at Noon, on MLB Network, I thought it would be fun to post a blog entry on all of the Hall of Fame players I’ve ever seen in person. If my memory serves me correctly, I’ve only encountered a total of nine members of the baseball Hall of Fame. Furthermore–an interesting point to make–every HOF encounter I can recall ever having has taken place within the past seven months.
I might be forgetting a player I saw in one of the earlier years of my life, but I’m fairly sure that the following are the only HOF players I’ve been lucky enough to see in person:
JOHNNY BENCH-JOE MORGAN
Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan were the first two members of the Hall of Fame that I can recall seeing. Admittedly, I was around 100 feet away from them, but it still counts, as we were all in the same live scenario at the same time. This particular interaction came on June 23, 2012, in Cincinnati, Ohio. (If you’d like to read all about the entire day–where I actually got to shake hands, and take pictures, with several Reds’ HOF’ers–feel free to check it out HERE.)
Basically, as far as Bench’s and Morgan’s purpose goes for being in ‘Cincy’, Sean Casey and Dan Driessen were at Great American Ballpark with the sole purpose being that they were getting officially inducted into the Cincinnati Reds’ Hall of Fame. The Reds decided to bring back a couple dozen members of their HOF, and Morgan and Bench happened to be two of the players they brought out to the ballpark:
I realize it’s not the most flattering picture, but it’s the only one I took of the two of them together. In case you can’t tell, Johnny Bench is the one in the white shirt, putting on his jacket, and Joe Morgan is the one just to the left of him; also putting on his jacket.
The next six Hall of Fame encounters I’ve had came while on a trip out to Kansas City, Missouri, to the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby:
CAL RIPKEN JR.-TONY GWYNN
I ran into Cal Ripken Jr. at around 6:30 in the morning, on July 9, 2012, shortly after chatting with Ryan Howard. Ripken was surrounded by several media members at the time and was having a conversation with Manny Machado:
I could’ve (and should’ve) waited until Ripken was finished doing was he was doing and approached him to ask for an autograph, but, in addition to it being early in the morning–with me still being half asleep–I regretfully neglected to take a ball card of Ripken out to Kansas City. I still kick myself about it, but you can’t go back in time. Perhaps I’ll run into Ripken again sometime down the road, but if not, at least I’ll always have the memory of our encounter.
My Tony Gwynn sighting came just a few hours later, only a couple hundred feet away from where my Cal Ripken Jr. encounter had occurred. Gwynn was set to sign autographs for an endless line of fans–many of which had been in line for a couple of hours–and I, in anticipation of his arrival, positioned myself off to the side of the crowd, as I waited for Gwynn. I ended up standing there for what seemed like forever, as Gwynn didn’t show up until 45 minutes after his scheduled appearance time. I was tempted to leave about 30 minutes into the wait, but I’m glad I didn’t. The extra 15 minutes of patience allowed me to be able to add another HOF’er to the list, as well as get a picture:
BARRY LARKIN-REGGIE JACKSON-HANK AARON-GEORGE BRETT
Barry Larkin would be the next Hall of Famer I would come across while out in Kansas City. Just to the right of where I took in most of the All-Star workout day’s batting practice, Larkin was hard at work, as an episode of ‘Baseball Tonight’ was being filmed. There’s not much more I can say about my Larkin sighting, so I’ll go ahead and leave you with a photo:
Reggie Jackson has the most interesting story (in my mind) of any other HOF player I’ve ever seen in person. My first (notice I said *first*) sighting of Jackson came shortly before the start of the home run derby, when he made his way out onto the field to throw out the first pitch:
It was great to see such a great player–one of only four to ever hit three home runs in a World Series game–in person, but little did I know, at the time, that this story would only get better from there. The next morning, I was sitting in the Kansas City airport terminal, when who walks by? Reggie Jackson. That’s right, Mr. October himself just so happened to be on the same flight (he was in first class) as I was. How cool is that?! It’ll be hard to ever top the encounter I had with Jackson out in KC, but you never know….
Jumping back to the day before I saw Jackson in the airport terminal–with it still being July 9th–the next Hall of Famer I spotted was Hank Aaron. It wasn’t the best sighting ever, as it took me at least 30 seconds to locate him, after he was shown on the center field jumbotron, and I ended up with only a 5 second, or so, sighting; leading to a blurry photo:
Aaron is arguably the best player I saw out in Kansas City; perhaps the best of all the HOF’ers I’ve ever seen in person.
The last HOF encounter I had, on my trip to Kansas City, was George Brett. I first spotted Brett down by the field when he made his was to the broadcasting table to do an interview/play-by-play type thing, during a portion of the derby. Brett wasn’t out for long, thus I don’t have anything all that interesting to talk about, but he was, however, out in the open long enough for me to take a photo:
The most recent story I have of a face-to-face encounter with me and a Hall of Fame member occurred on July 18, 2012, in Durham, North Carolina. The Lehigh Valley Ironpigs were in town taking on the Durham Bulls and Sandberg just so happened to be managing the visiting Ironpigs. Unlike the eight HOF’ers I had seen before, I was actually successful in getting an autograph from Sandberg–two if you want to be technical:
The autographs I was able to get from Ryne Sandberg. (The Sharpie was running out.)
It was easier than I thought it would be, as I found it unusually simple to work my way down by the dugout, and to my surprise, Sandberg signed for nearly ten minutes; so that certainly helped out as well. I forgot to bring along my camera to this particular game, so you’ll have to take my word for it that I met Sandberg. (I suppose the above autographs are proof enough.)
So there you have it. Those are the nine Hall of Famers that I can remember seeing in person. If Mark McGwire, Bernie Williams and/or Sandy Alomar end up having their names called tomorrow, when the 2013 Hall of Fame voting results are announced, I can add anywhere from one to three more names to the list, as I’ve seen all three players before.
I have a feeling, however, that I’ll be stuck at nine players until at least the 2014 vote.
How many MLB Hall of Famers have you seen in person? I’d love to hear your answer, with the story behind it (if there is one), in the comments section below.
Kyle Gibson was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 1st round of the 2009 draft. Since the draft, things haven’t gone as planned for Gibson, as although his stats have been decent, he hasn’t been able to stay completely healthy; having to undergo Tommy John surgery in September of 2011.
As far as Gibson’s stats go, he’s certainly lived up, for the most part, to being a first round draft pick. The 2008 Team USA pitcher went 11-6 with a 2.96 ERA in his first professional season, in 2010. Good enough to earn him a promotion to AAA Rochester at the end of the year, after beginning the season with A+ Fort Myers.
Gibson’s stellar inaugural season didn’t translate into 2011, however, as although he was selected to participate in the All-Star Futures Game, at Chase Field, Gibson went 3-8 on the year, with a 4.18 ERA. To put it in simpler terms: That’s not very good. But Gibson’s poor pitching wasn’t entirely his fault. Gibson had an arm injury, which resulted in him having to have Tommy John surgery during the offseason. A surgery that would turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Gibson.
Post surgery, Gibson had a sudden boost in velocity, as his fastball rose from upper 80′s to lower 90′s, this past season. In Gibson’s most recent (partial) season, he went 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA; which is misleading due to the few innings in which he was able to pitch. As a result of the shortened season, Gibson traveled out to Arizona to participate in the Arizona Fall League, where he was selected to make the start for the Western Division in the 2012 A.F.L. Rising Stars Game–lasting two innings and giving up a couple of runs.
As long as things continue to go smoothly for Gibson, between now and the start of the season, barring any unpredicted setbacks, you can expect to see Gibson in the Major Leagues sometime during the upcoming 2013 season; if not on Opening Day. He certainly has the potential to get the call up out of Spring Training, and as such, is a guy everyone needs to keep a very close eye on in the coming months.
Kyle Gibson–top 10 prospect in the Twins 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 growing up?
I have always been involved and interested in baseball because my dad was. He was a high school baseball coach after he played a little bit of junior college baseball in his prime. He still likes to play in a mens senior league to this day. I believe that is why he would be my biggest influence on my love for the game up to this point.
2.) Who was your favorite baseball player growing up? Why?
I had a couple when I was growing up. My dad was a huge Nolan Ryan fan, so obviously I thought he was cool, but believe it or not, I used to play a little short stop in my younger/shorter/faster years, and at that time Barry Larkin was a favorite player of mine as well.
3.) You were drafted by the Twins in the 1st round of the 2009 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you first found out? Initial thoughts?
The process was a long and stressful process at times mainly because I found out I had a stress fracture in my right forearm about 4 days before the draft. That made everything a little more stressful than I imagined, but even with that said, it was a fun process and I learned a lot. My parents and I decided to stay home and invite some people over to the house to watch the draft, so I was sitting outside in our driveway under a tent with what ended up being a few more people than the “some” we had planned on inviting. Everyone was getting a little anxious because from everything we had heard there was no definite place I was going to get drafted. So as the picks went by we got a little more anxious, but when my name was called there was a loud cheer, and I still get chills thinking about that moment in my life.
4.) You had Tommy John surgery in September of 2011 and seemed to have an increase in velocity. Has that increase in velocity changed the way you go about pitching or did you keep the same basic approach?
It does not change the way I pitch too much, other than the fact that I now have a much different fastball and slider. I have needed to learn to trust my fastball a little more because it’s now consistently in the low 90′s where before I was more consistently 89. My slider has also gained some velocity and has sharpened up a bit, so I have needed to adjust to that as well.
5.) Is there any one stat that you pay attention to throughout the season? Or do you try to steer clear of them altogether?
I would say there are a couple stats that I like to look at, and those are walks and ground ball/fly ball ratio. I hate walking people, so that is why that is so important to me, and I also know that when I am at my best, I need to have the defense involved. The best way for me to do that is to get lots of ground balls and allow our infielders to do the rest.
6.) You made the start for the West division in the 2012 Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game. What was that experience like, in terms of going up against some of the best hitters that minor league baseball has to offer?
That experience was a lot of fun. Had I not given up a moonshot to the first batter I might have enjoyed it slightly more…..just kidding. It was a great opportunity, even though for only 2 innings, to square off against [Jarred] Cosart, who I have known for many years dating back to when he had committed to Missouri out of high school before the Phillies drafted and signed him. It was a lot of fun for all of us, and good to get that chance to pitch another time against the best the minors has to offer.
7.) What are your plans for the remainder of the offseason to help you prepare for 2013? What are your goals for 2013?
Since my regular season extended into my offseason more than usual, I am now starting to get back into the swing of things and throwing again. Workouts will get more intense as I make sure my arm and body are prepared for another long season. My goals have a lot to do with staying healthy, and hopefully making it up to the big club and having a positive impact on our chances of winning. Everyone wants to become a big leaguer, and I really hope I am able to do that this year.
8.) Favorite TV show?
‘Sports Center’ or ‘Duck Dynasty’.
9.) Favorite food?
Steak or Mozzi’s Pizza from Greenfield, Indiana where I grew up.
10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?
Always have fun. Baseball should be something that they enjoy doing. Work as hard as you possibly can. I always look back and know that I could have worked harder because I never really knew what it took to become a professional. So have no regrets and work as hard as you can, but have fun doing it!
Big thanks to Kyle Gibson for taking the time to answer my questions.
You can follow him on twitter: @kgib44
Before I begin, let me first point out that of the 37 players on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot, I’m only going to be discussing my thoughts on six of them: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, Curt Schilling, Mike Piazza and Sammy Sosa; with whether or not I believe they belong among the games’ all time greats in the Hall of Fame. Statistically, they’re all worthy of the Hall, however, because of their connection to performance enhancing drugs (PED’s), proven or suspected, it makes it one of the most difficult and controversial H.O.F. votes in years.
Having retired from Major League Baseball way back at the conclusion of the 2007 season, I’ve had a fairly long time to think about whether or not these select first year ballot players are worthy of a plaque in the Hall of Fame. But five years doesn’t seem long enough, as it’s now time to make a decision, and, even with hour after hour of debate, it’s still difficult to decide one way or another.
To make it as clear as I possibly can, of how I went about deciding whether or not I believe the six previously listed players are HOF’ers, I’ve decided to give a general overview of the pros and cons I see to the three different options you have when going about this year’s Hall of Fame vote:
OPTION 1: LEAVE ALL OF THEM OUT
This seems absurd to me, but it’s an option nonetheless, so I had to include it. The only good thing about this is that by choosing to keep all six out of the Hall of Fame you ensure that no player that used PED’s gets inducted in. Since we aren’t 100 percent sure whether or not the suspected users did or didn’t use drugs, this is the safe route to take. However, it’s also the wrong route, in my opinion. Leaving out every single one of these players could possibly be keeping out a player who never allowed any drugs into their system whatsoever. While we aren’t sure if there even are any, it’s truly not fair to punish those who could have very well never broken the rules, just because you feel they might have. So, while this is in fact an option, it’s just not right to keep out so many great players.
OPTION 2: LET A PORTION OF THEM IN
Although a little more practical than option one, I still don’t feel this is what needs to be done. Sure, by keeping out the players who were connected to drug use while allowing in those who were merely suspected, you make it fair for the players who might’ve never done anything wrong. However, you could also be allowing a player into the H.O.F. who was just lucky enough to never get caught. That doesn’t seem right to me. Electing to take this option runs the risk of allowing in someone who used drugs, while keeping out someone who did the exact same thing but just so happened to get caught. We don’t know for sure who used and who didn’t, so I feel they should all share in the same fate. Either let them all in, or keep them all out; and you already know how I feel about leaving them all out.
OPTION 3: LET ALL OF THEM IN
This is the best possible option, in my opinion. Yes, I’m aware that by doing this you’re allowing in players who were connected to drug use, but I don’t see another way to truly make sure the great players of that era are allowed in, without holding a grudge against one side or the other. Letting them all in makes sure that you keep it fair for the suspected users while also keeping it fair for the players who were actually connected. Leaving them all out isn’t fair to those who didn’t use, and letting the ones who were suspected in while leaving the ones who were connected out doesn’t seem fair either. I know it might seem as if the players connected to drug use don’t deserve a fair vote, but the way I see it, they do.
Those who used drugs throughout the ‘Steroid Era’ certainly made things very complicated.
Up until a few days ago, I never would’ve gone with option three. I was fairly adamant that any player who was connected to drug use shouldn’t be allowed into the Hall of Fame. Those players cheated; plain and simple. However, the more I think about it, due to the lack of evidence against those players who were merely suspected of using a PED, in the end, I couldn’t go with my original mindset.
Now, I’m sure many of you (perhaps all of you?) disagree with my take on the matter, but I hope you at least understand, to a point, where I’m coming from (if I haven’t already confused the heck out of you). Due to the poor drug testing policy throughout the late 1980′s up through the early 2000′s’, we will never know for sure exactly which players did, and which players didn’t, use performance enhancing drugs. Therefore, if I had a vote, I would vote for every one of them to get into the Hall of Fame.
There are some people who say that if you allow players into the Hall of Fame that are connected to (or suspected of) PED’s, that you should place them in a separate wing, or, at the very least, add an asterisk next to their name. I really don’t see the need. Any true baseball fan who makes the trek to Cooperstown–a few years from now or 100 years down the road–will know the history of the ‘Steroid Era’, if they’re honestly true fans. They’ll know what each player did or didn’t do, and they’ll each have their own feelings as to whether they feel each player belongs in the Hall of Fame. Let them decide how they feel for themselves.
In the end, Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, Biggio, Piazza and Schilling are still some of the greatest players in the history of the game. Do I think any of them will get in this time around? Absolutely not. Do I think any of them will get in a few years down the road? I truly hope so. Keeping out this batch of players because of the unknown just wouldn’t be right. But then again, if you’ll look back at the history of Hall of Fame voting, the right thing hasn’t always been done.
Should Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, Biggio, Piazza and Sosa ever be allowed into the Hall of Fame? Cast your vote (you can vote for as many players as you want):
If you wouldn’t let any in, leave a comment below with your reasoning.
Happy New Year, everyone!
I wasn’t planning on posting anything today, but everyone else seemed to be doing it, so I decided that I would join in on the fun.
The five main resolutions/goals I have for this blog in 2013 are as follows:
1. Blog at least once every 4 days:
This shouldn’t be too difficult, but it all comes down to whether or not I can keep one of my non-blogging resolutions for 2013: Stop procrastinating. I’m one of the biggest procrastinators I know, and often I find myself taking a few days to write a blog post that should take just a few hours. Last year there were a few times where I went a full two weeks in between new blog posts, and I don’t want to do that this year. If I can get a blog entry up at least once every 4 days, I’ll be a happy guy.
2. Publish 100 posts:
This ties back into resolution number one. If I can manage to blog once every 4 days, or so, it’ll come out to 91 total posts. So, if I have a few times this year where I go fewer than 4 days between entries, I should easily be able to accomplish 100 new blog posts. I suppose I’m starting off the right way–the first day of 2013, and I already have my first blog post. (Only 99 to go.)
3. Get 100,000 views:
This is a bit of a stretch. I only managed to amass 53,384 views this past year, so it would mean nearly doubling that, but I’m making it one of my resolutions nonetheless. If I can blog as often as I want to, I feel it’s not impossible, however, this is one of my 2013 blogging resolutions that’s out of my hands. I can control whether or not I blog as often as I want to, but I can’t control how many people actually visit my blog. The way I see it, however, more posts equals more views. Hopefully that holds true, and I can reach 100,000 views for the year.
4. Have my one day record for views passed:
As with resolution number three, this is ultimately out of my control. I have no way of knowing whether or not 893 people will decide to click the link to my blog on any one day this year to break the old one day record of 892 views, recorded back on April 4, 2012. With 365 chances to accomplish it, however, maybe it will happen. Only time will tell.
5. Reply to every comment that is left:
My final resolution is the easiest of them all. I feel I did a fairly decent job at it this past year, but as with anything, I could always do better. There were a few comments last year that I failed to reply to for whatever reason, and looking back I feel like I should’ve. (Sorry.) Since it only takes a few minutes a day, this resolution shouldn’t be a problem.
So there you have it. My top five blogging resolutions/goals for 2013.
At the end of the year, I’ll revisit this blog post and recap whether or not I was able to accomplish them all. As stated in my last blog post, I hope to make this my best year of blogging yet. If I can accomplish what I want to (and plan to), I feel it truly will be.
Well, the Mayans were wrong. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, the world didn’t end on Friday, and subsequently there will in fact be a 2013 MLB season. I couldn’t be happier. I would’ve hated not to of seen how Josh Hamilton works out with the Angels, or if R.A. Dickey will end up leading the newly revamped Blue Jays to the World Series, like so many people seem to be predicting. And of course, still being alive is always good.
But I’m not here to talk about Mayans, or even Hamilton and Dickey for that matter–as stated in my last blog post, I don’t plan to write anything major about either of them. No, the reason I’m writing this is to let you know that there will be no more blog posts from me until 2013, as well as to make you aware of a couple of my current blogging plans for January. (Keep in mind, it’s not set in stone.)
Right now, the plan for January is to get a blog post up sometime during the first few days of the month with my thoughts on this year’s Hall of Fame candidates. With names like Sosa, Clemens and Bonds, I have a lot to say on the subject. The voting results are set to be announced on January 9th, so I’ll probably end up posting something after the fact as well.
Furthermore, the two-year anniversary of ’The Unbiased MLB Fan’ is coming up on January 20th, and thus I plan to post something to mark the occasion. I haven’t yet decided exactly what I want to include in the post, so if you have any ideas as to what I should focus the post on, or what you’d like to see me do, just leave a comment below.
Lastly, I just wanted to take the time to thank everyone who’s read my blog throughout the past year. Whether you’re a regular, or just check in from time-to-time, if it weren’t for you all I’d have no reason to blog. So thank you. I’m going to do my best to make 2013 the best year yet, and hopefully you will all continue to come back every so often to read what I have to say.
Merry Christmas, and best wishes for a Happy New Year.
See you all in 2013.
I made the decision to not blog about Josh Hamilton and/or R.A. Dickey because I didn’t really feel there was that much I could say that wasn’t already being said. I might decide to talk about them at a later point in time, but right now I’d like to focus my attention on baseball cards; more specifically, Panini America baseball cards.
I recently broke open a box of 2012 Panini Prime Cuts and 2012 Panini Cooperstown, with the purpose of providing my own personal review of the products. I’ll start with my thoughts on 2012 Panini Cooperstown.
2012 Panini Cooperstown runs anywhere from 80-90 dollars a box (depending on who you buy from), but you certainly get plenty of cards for your money. As its name would suggest, Cooperstown focuses on players that have made it into the Hall of Fame, as each card of the 200-card base set is of a HOF’er:
Each individual box contains a total of 24 packs, with 5 cards per pack, for a grand total of 220 cards per box. Of the 220 cards, at least one is guaranteed to be autographed, with the chance for you to pull randomly inserted cut signatures of former greats such as Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax, and Dizzy Dean, to name a few. The autograph I received was that of Peter Gammons (numbered 165/300):
Nothing super fantastic, but still an autograph of a well known baseball writer.
Each of the boxes’ 24 packs also contains a Hall of Fame sweepstakes card that has a unique code with which you can use to enter for the chance to win a trip to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, for you and a guest:
Each code entered is another chance at winning the trip; thus, the more boxes you buy, and the more codes you acquire and enter, the better your chances become at winning the great trip. So if nothing else, this product is definitely worth buying if just for that reason alone. (I mean, who doesn’t like the chance to win a free trip?!)
The other Panini baseball product I was lucky enough to break was a box of 2012 Panini Prime Cuts.
Prime Cuts will run you a bit more than Cooperstown–with each box costing around 150 dollars–but you stand a better chance of getting your money back out of it. Unlike Cooperstown, Prime Cuts isn’t limited to just Hall of Famers, but instead it’s a combination of both former greats and current stars.
You only receive two cards per box, but each box is guaranteed to contain at least one autographed card; with names such as Stan Musial, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, and Pete Rose being possible:
Of the box I opened, the first card pulled was a Ryan Howard jersey card (numbered 19/99):
A good looking card, of a great player, but nothing compared to my next pull.
Card number two of the box was an autographed ‘CHARLIE HUSTLE’ game used memorabilia booklet of Pete Rose (numbered 9/25):
If that card alone doesn’t prove to you that Prime Cuts is one of the best baseball products out there, then you’ll never be convinced.
Of the two products I opened, I’d have to give Prime Cuts the upper hand over Cooperstown. Though, I could be feeling that way just because of the sick card I pulled. (Who knows?) Either way, I feel that both of these products are outstanding.
It really comes down to what you like, in terms of which would better suit you. If you’re big on receiving tons of cards for your money, then Prime Cuts (with its two cards) isn’t for you. You would be better off picking up a box of Cooperstown. However, if you enjoy ”high risk/high reward”, then I would recommend Prime Cuts.
In the end, no matter which you choose, you’re sure to pull some awesome looking cards.