Time


The Game of Baseball is measured in memory, in the senses…in the mind. An accumulation of this is what baseball is all about. In the hurry hurry and rushy rushy of today’s world, some forget that baseball was never in a rush to complete. In the world focused on Millennial behavior and the never ending try to capture them in the sales cycle, some have said that the game has to speed up. Saul Steinberg said, ‘Baseball is an allegorical play about America, a poetic, complex and subtle play of courage, fear, good luck, mistakes, patience about fate, and sober self-esteem.’

For many Millennials, they are too impatient and too busy to understand any of this. But all of this is about attracting Millennials. A 2015 study by Microsoft revealed that the average person’s attention span in this wild world of technology and social media is down to eight seconds, which is less than that of a goldfish.

What are the facts about baseball and the length of the game. Yesterday, Saturday, May 20, 2017, of the thirteen games played (two were postponed, one for rain and the other out no rain https://www.facebook.com/Overtheshouldermlb/) the average time of the game was 3 hours and 0 minutes. The longest was the Yankees v Rays which took 3:50 and the shortest was the Indians v Astros which took 2:35. So if you were in Tampa Bay, you were at the ballpark an hour and fifteen minutes longer than in Houston. But as Humphrey Bogart said, ‘A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz’. Perhaps Millennials don’t appreciate all that nitrate. NOTICE: Hot dogs don’t have nitrate in them anymore.

But what about the other major sports. In 2016, the average MLB game ran 2:56. The average NFL game ran 3:07. The Average NBA game ran 2:59. Only the average NHL game was decidedly less with games averaging 2:30.

Babe Ruth said, ‘Baseball changes through the years. It get milder’. This should be a reminder to all of us who are fans that changes come to the games slower than most sports. While there is still 90’ between bases, there are designated hitters today in the American League. While a mark of excellence in starting pitchers was once finishing a complete game, for many pitchers today, it is getting through 6 innings that mark a ‘quality start’. No more crashing into the catcher at home. Shifts, defensively, are everywhere.

Perhaps baseball is not made for the Millennial mind. Perhaps it never was. It is the time when you are building careers, new relationships, families, personal responsibilities. But when people find a time when they have to find a place to get away from all of the maddening crowd, they go to baseball, where time is not a factor. It is a place where memories are built. Dad’s and Mom’s bring their young children to the ballpark and the cycle of fandom begins anew. ‘This is a gem to be savored, not gulped. There’s time to discuss everything between pitches or between innings’, Bill Veeck told us. Families actually get to know each other at the ballpark.

Ken Burns noted, ‘Nothing in our daily life offers more of the comfort of continuity, the generational connection of belonging to a vast and complicated American family, the powerful sense of home, the freedom from time’s constraints, and the great gift of accumulated memory than does our National Pastime.’

On this date in 1943, the Chicago White Sox topped the Washington Senators 1-0 in one hour and 29 minutes. Today that would cause indigestion.

Play Ball!

Who We Picking?


We now have three weeks under our belts and some of the divisions are upside down. But what we see through the crystal ball is that the creme will always rise to the top.

American League

Eastern Division
Baltimore Orioles
They have an excellent manager and it is time for Buck to win a pennant, divisional, but a pennant none the less. The best third baseman in the American League, plus JJ and one of the three best outfielders in the AL today in Jones, make this the team to beat in the East.

Central Division
Cleveland Indians
They have an excellent manager and based off of last year’s performance, they are hungry and talented, plus great starting pitching. Oh ya, they have a sensational second baseman.

Western Division
Texas Rangers
They have a battery of All-Stars and Vu. If they can find solid relief, they could win it all.

Wild Cards
Detroit Tigers
While they lead the league in day games in the first two weeks, their pitching has been solid and they have Miggy.

Chicago White Sox
For four years, I have suggested this is the team to watch. Now, without their star pitcher, they have a chance to succeed.

What’s the matter with the rest?
Tampa Bay just doesn’t have the pitching.
New York Yankees have tradition, an excellent manager and a couple of dopes for owners.
Boston lost their soul to retirement.
Toronto needs a change in managers. Their team is not performing up to their high level of competency.
Minnesota is breathing rarified air. That bubble will burst but be much better than last season.
Kansas City is wandering in a wilderness of ‘what happened?’ with a lack of pitching and timely hitting.
Houston was a flash in the pan. Too many trades with Milwaukee will do that to a team.
Oakland has become the biggest thing in the East Bay and for good reason. They have an exciting team that can win if they have Khris in left. He has no arm.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will never win with Socscia. He has a penchant for making everyone mad. No pitching. But they have the star-of-stars on their team in center. Hello, Mr. Trout.
Seattle is all talk and Cano. If the King dominates, they still need a lot of help.

National League

Eastern Division
Washington Nationals
They have an excellent old-school manager, a brilliant pitching staff and a guy in right, one of the three great outfielders in the National League.

Central Division
Chicago Cubs
They have an over-imaginative manager, and a batting line-up to die for. If you are an opposing pitcher, this is a nightmare to face. They can outhit everybody to win regardless how their pitching holds up this season. Unless they get complacent or suffer a batch full of injuries, they will be in the October Classic.

Western Division
Los Angeles Dodgers
In a division that all of a sudden got weak, they have Clayton and some guys who can hit.

Wild Cards
New York Mets
They are the talk of New York City…the belle of the ball…with a great pitching staff.

Colorado Rockies
The only problem this team has is that it plays in thin air. It has all the hitting in the world and a shockingly good relief corps to go along with it. Plus they have Cargo and the human vacuum cleaner at third.

What’s the matter with the rest?

Miami lost their star pitcher. Yet have one of the most exciting players in the game, Giancarlo Stanton, one of the three great outfielders in the NL today.
Atlanta is a couple of years away as they are rebuilding.
Philadelphia just doesn’t have the guns yet as they are rebuilding.
Pittsburgh doesn’t have a great manager nor the purse strings to finally make it happen. Now they are beginning to fall out of contention … early.
Cincinnati is yet in another rebuilding program. If they hang their hopes on Scooter to take them to the top, they are in for a shocking surprise.
Milwaukee is a AAA team, with a great young manager, a more than tight owner, a kid GM and one of the three great outfielders in the National League as Ryan Braun is the only All-Star on the team today.
St. Louis became blind to what a great team is all about. Too many star players walked away because they want more money. Yet they have the best catcher in baseball behind the plate.
Arizona loves to over perform with the craziest owner in the game today, outside of Miami. But pitching will do them in. But they have the best first baseman in the game today. Goldy gives the D’Backs hope. But not that much.
San Diego. Nope.
San Francisco has a great manager but has not figured out how to secure a starting pitcher to replace a fading group, a relief pitcher who can shut the other team down nor a left fielder of dominant abilities. Unless they fix this right now, they are on a long slide out of grace.

OK. How do you see it?

Play Ball!

Flop Sweat


Baseball is a game of averages. It is pretty easy to gauge how a player or a team will perform as averages usually don’t lie. After all, the marathon tends to even things up.

Opening Day in Cream City showed exactly how the averages work. In 2016, the Milwaukee Brewers were the worst fielding team in Major League Baseball. Only the Minnesota Twins came close, but the Twinkies were still a distance from their Southern neighbors. The illustrious Brew Crew committed 136 errors last season. In all honestly, they also probably led the league in mental errors. Their fielding average was .978.

In pitching, they had the third worst record for striking out opposing batters. Only the Angels and Rangers had fewer. In relief pitching, they had the fifth worst record for striking out opposing batters. Only the Angels and Rangers, who where joined by the Giants and the Tigers, were less effective.

This led the management to stress fielding and pitching in spring training. Let’s concentrate on fielding. While they let their second baseman go on waivers, and traded away both of their catchers, their strength up the middle would be at a premium this season. It didn’t work that way. One of the new catchers they obtained as one of two second stringers from other teams (remember, they traded away their All-Star catcher who also was an excellent hitter, a rare combination in the game of baseball), committed two (2) errors in his first game. Both were on throws. Then the eclectic Jonathan Villar, who now plays second, gave an over enthusiastic throw in a critical situation into the home team’s dugout, striking the back of the Double Bubble plastic pail with such authority, the reserves thought it was Halloween, thus allowing runners to advance and eventually score the go-ahead and winning runs.

As for pitching, their Opening Day starter, Guerra, suffered a pulled calf in the bottom of the 3rd while batting and running to first. Then the bullpen came in and gave the game away. Well, to be specific Jhan Carlos Mariñez gave it away. Get this, after 1/3rd of an inning, he gave up 2 runs and 3 hits, walked a batter for an ERA into infinity, or in Mr. Mariñez case, an ERA of 27.00. He will have to pitch a zillion innings to find respect.

OK. It’s only the first game. But familiarity is ever present.

While Miller Park was packed, new food venues were opened with local goods, and Big Jim West was behind the plate as the Hot Dog won the Sausage Race, the team on the field looked the same.

It is good to love mediocrity if you live in Milwaukee. After all, with one of the lowest payrolls (‘Managable’ as the owner said on television on Opening Day) in The Show, the Pigsville Nine will always perform to their averages. And that means it will be a long, long season in the ‘Gathering place [by the water]’. Gemütlichkeit!

#WatchingAttanasio

Play Ball!

Baseball Rebirth

During the past two weeks, while most sports fans were watching college basketball’s conference tournaments, the NCAA first round of March Madness, the first night of the second round of March madness, golf from Florida, NASCAR, motorcycle racing, boxing, WWE, the Premiere League, NBA Basketball and NHL Hockey, there was something that was exceptional happening in the world of sport. Some of the best players in the world were playing baseball for their home nations or for nations someone in their family might have a hereditary line, were playing baseball behind a flag. The WBC this year is exceptional.

For those who have been watching these games, from Korea, Japan, Mexico, Miami and San Diego, the game progressed to mid-season form in a hurry.

Last night in San Diego, with everything on the line for the defending champion, Dominican Republic and the United States, baseball was reborn. In front of a packed stadium at Petco Park, the feeling was electric. Could the USA come back and beat the team who had defeated them in Miami after giving up a big lead last week? Could anyone get the tremendous players from DR out? There were 23 All-Stars on both teams for one game. And something happened.

This was big time, Major League Baseball at its very best. The crowd was in it. In fact, the crowd was one of the loudest one could imagine. But, three plays stood out to make this one of the most amazing games you could ever want to see. And perhaps that was the point. You go to a game in hopes that you see something you can talk about for a long time to come. Then it happens. Not once. Not twice. But three times.

The first was the incredible pressure the Dominican team puts on its opponents. There is one basher after another. There is not space to take a breath. And in the first inning, as the home team, they began pounding the ball. But as it again happened in the second inning and the fifth inning, somehow the USA team stopped what could have ended the game as it had in Miami a week before. Solid pitching and solid defense stopped the DR in its tracks. Danny Duffey’s great pitching and a terrific tag of Nelson Cruz at home by catcher Jonathon Lucroy with a fine throw to him by Brandon Crawford, kept DR at bay in Mission Bay.

The second was an unbelievable force of one Giancarlo Stanton. The ‘Adonis of Miami’ absolutely crushed a baseball which took off faster than one could imagine to give the USA a huge lift and the lead. An unbelievable speed of a ball being hit into the warehouse in left field went out faster than Staton could complete his swing. If in all the time you spend watching baseball, here is a memory nugget you can keep forever. Wow!

Then the third made this game an important turning point for the game. This WBC showed off big time baseball at its very best. And this is a memory nugget you will never forget. The incomparable Manuel Arturo ‘Manny’ Machada hit a blast to deep center field and as if time stood still in the marine layer, Adam Jones, the centerfielder for the Baltimore Orioles, raced to the fence and leaped way over the wall to make one of the best catches in the history of the game. Electric. Unbelievable. Fantastic. The Golden Memory Nugget. The pitcher mouthing ‘Oh My God’. But it is what happened a moment later that made this the great game and gave rebirth to the new era of baseball. Muchada while rounding first acknowledged Jones great athletic feat by his regular season teammate by doffing his cap to him as he headed back to the dugout on third base. In return, silently while a tumultuous roar of the crowd, tipped his hat in return to his teammate for saluting him.

This is when baseball was reborn in the hearts of the old who love the game, in the hearts of the fathers who take their sons and daughters to the game and to the young people who packed the stadium and watched on television what a great game can be as a fabric of their lives today and into the future.

This is baseball.

This is why it is so important.

Play Ball!

It’s Empty Now.


There is a promise in the air which begins with hope. The air in the morning is warmer than what you would expect at this time of the year. The same traffic one would expect from snow birds filling up the roads and freeways are the norm. But there is a different sound in the air.

It is not a ping from the golf courses, nor the sound of another automobile crash as that snow bird didn’t go right on read (its the law down here) as a local citizen banged into snow coast driver. No. It is the sound of a ‘pop’ as the ball hits the glove…not a ‘wack’ yet….just a mild ‘pop’ with the milling sounds of baseball language muffled in the air of conversations. ‘Hey, baby. Hey, baby.’ ‘That’s it. Get it in there.’ ‘My glove is tight. Got to get it flexed out.’ ‘Hum baby hum.’ Grunts and groans are customary as the kinks are beginning to work out. Laughter is heard as the players are back home…in their spring homes…on a practice field at a spring training camp.

This is not only a rite of spring, this maybe the right for spring as attention turns away from all of the political wrangling as the sounds and sights of delight present it self once again in Florida. The Major League teams have their pitchers and catchers reporting this week. And that brings us to that great word ‘hope’. There are smiles on faces, young and old. It is a time for, as ESPN anchors might say, ‘positivity’.

For many, living in San Diego or Oakland, Seattle or Phoenix, in Denver or Minneapolis, in Milwaukee and the South side of Chicago, in Cincinnati or Pittsburgh or even Philadelphia, in Atlanta or Tampa, in Miami or in Orange County California, hope is eternal. There is promise, promise from all of those cities owners that this year the rebuilding is going according to plan, or that this is the year that there will be a breakthrough, but in reality, most of the citizenry in these great areas hang onto hope. Let’s face it, Las Vegas odds are 100-1 that the Reds, Braves, Padres or Brewers will win the NL Pennant. For some reason, the D’Backs and Phillies are only 50-1. Go figure. Over in the AL, the White Sox are 100-1 while the Athletics, Rays and Twins are 50 to 1 to win their Pennant.

Now believe it or not, they say the Angels are 25-1 and that Mariners are 15-1.

On the other hand, the Red Sox are expected to win the AL Pennant as 5-2 odds are placed in their camp. In the NL, the defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs (almost an oxymoron) have 7-4 odds with the Dodgers 7-2.

So you can see what an important day this will be during the coming week as Spring Training arrives.

Hope will be in the air everywhere.

Play Ball!

How Low Can You Go?


There is no one player who receives the lowest salary playing baseball in The Show. However, as of the 2016 Major League Baseball season, the minimum salary for players on a Major League roster is $507,500. This salary is negotiated as part of MLB’s collective bargaining agreement, or CBA. It is a raise of $7,500 compared to the 2014 season. The average salary in the Major Leagues is $4,250,000.

In the world of millions, Clayton Kershaw was the highest paid player in The Show in 2016 with a whopping $32 million salary. He also earned an addition $800,000 in performance incentives and endorsement deals. David Price came in second with $30 million. He also earned an addition $600,000 in performance incentives and endorsement deals. Both were starting pitchers. There is a major difference of salary between divisions, teams and positions. Certain positions, such as first base or starting pitcher, are usually better paid, due to the important role they are considered to have in the game. Josh Hamilton was #3 with a salary of $28.41 million. He also earned an addition $160,000 in performance incentives and endorsement deals. He was followed by Miguel Cabrera who earned $28 million. He also earned an addition $2 million in performance incentives and endorsement deals. Rounding out the top five was Cabrera’s teammate, Justin Verlander who got $28 million. He also earned an addition $600,000 in performance incentives and endorsement deals.

Who do you think was worth the money he earned in that group?

#6 was Yoenis Cespedes who earned $27.5 million. He also earned an addition $600,000 in performance incentives and endorsement deals. #7, Felix Hernandez who had a salary of $25.86 million. #8T was Ryan Howard who had a salary of $25 million. He also earned an addition $600,000 in performance incentives and endorsement deals. Albert Pujols who also earned $25 million (he also earned an addition $2 million in performance incentives and endorsement deals.) along with CC Sabathia, made up the trio of the $25 Million Dollar Club. Sabathia also earned an addition $700,000 in performance incentives and endorsement deals.

Who do you think was worth the money he earned in that group?

#11 is the $24 Million Dollar Club consisting of three players, Prince Fielder, Robinson Cano (He also earned an addition $3 million in performance incentives and endorsement deals.) and Zach Greinke. #14 was ‘Joe Mauer who earned $23 million followed by #15T Cole Hamels who had a salary of $22.5 million along with Mark Teixeira who earned the same..

Who do you think was worth the money he earned in that group?

#17 was Justin Upton with a salary of $22.13 million followed by three men who earned $22 million dollars in the season. They were Hanley Ramirez, Masahiro Tanaka and Jose Reyes.

Who do you think was worth the money he earned in that group?

Rounding out the Top 24 in earnings, ##20 was Adrian Gonzales with a salary of $21.86 million. #21 was Carl Crawford who earned $21.81 million. #22, Matt Kemp drew $21.5 million dollars while #23 was Jacob Elisbury who earned $21.14 million dollars. #25 was James Shields who had a salary of $21 million.

Who do you think was worth the money he earned in that group?

Baseball is big business. Major League Baseball had gate receipts in excess of $2.5 billion in 2016 (while attendance reached $73.16, down from 2015’s 73.76 million. See previous story for other team attendance and revenues for 2016). Therefore the ‘Stars’ will earn now only top billing but top salaries. But have you taken a look at who was making the most this past year? Many were near or toward the end of their careers.

Here are the 2016 projected MLB Team Payroll on Opening Day:

New York Yankees $224.85 million
Los Angeles Dodgers $ 221.29 million
Detroit Tigers $194.88 million
Boston Red Sox $188.55 million
Texas Rangers $186.04 million
San Francisco Giants $172.25 million
Chicago Cubs $154.58 million
Baltimore Orioles $145.58 million
St. Louis Cardinals $143.05 million
Seattle Mariners $141.68 million
Washington Nationals $141.68 million
Toronto Blue Jays $138.7 million
Los Angeles Angels $137.25 million
New York Mets $133.89 million
Kansas City Royals $131.49 million
Chicago White Sox $112.99 million
Colorado Rockies $112.65 million
Minnesota Twins $105.33 million
San Diego Padres $101.42 million
Pittsburgh Pirates $99.05 million
Houston Astros $94.89 million
Cincinnati Reds $89.96 million
Arizona Diamondbacks $89.26 million
Oakland Athletics #86.81 million
Philadelphia Phillies $83.98 million
Miami Marlins $76.41 million
Cleveland Indians $74.31 million
Milwaukee Brewers $69.28 million
Atlanta Braves $69.01 million
Tampa Bay Rays $57.1 million

While all of this looks somewhat bizarre, as few of the teams who are spending less than $90 million will actually make the playoffs (as Cleveland is in a class all by itself with one of the lowest payrolls yet with some of the best young players in the game) who do you think will be the most profitable team this coming season?

If you said the Toronto Blue Jays, you are probably correct as they are Canada’s team with a huge daily television audience dwarfing all others (again, see previous article).

We are now only a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training. It soon will be time to

Play Ball!

What An Ivan December


On the second day of December, Adam Walker was claimed by the Orioles.
The Pigsville Nine had just claimed him.
Two days earlier for a
Partridge in a Miller Park pear tree.

Again on the second day of December, Chris Carter was released
Adam Walker claimed by Orioles,
But we have a partridge in a Miller Park pear tree.

On the third day of December, we got rid of Geltz and Goforth.
We just outrighted them.
Adam Walker claimed by Orioles…
Chris Carter was released…
But we have a partridge in a Miller Park pear tree.

On the sixth day of December Tyler Thornburg was traded,
Geltz and Goforth outrighted…
Adam Walker claimed by Orioles,
Chris Carter released…
But we have a partridge in a Miller Park pear tree.

On the eighth day of December, Caleb Smith is traded.
Tyler Thornburg was traded…
Geltz and Goforth outrighted…
Adam Walker claimed by Orioles….
Chris Carter released…
But we have a partridge in a Miller Park pear tree.

On the ninth day of December, Phil Bickford got suspended…for the second time.
Tyler Thornburg was traded…
Geltz and Goforth outrighted…
Adam Walker claimed by Orioles…
Chris Carter released…
Caleb Smith traded…
But we have a partridge in a Miller Park pear tree.

On the tenth day of December, Miguel Diaz was lost in Rule 5 draft.
Phil Bickford got suspended…for the second time…
Tyler Thornburg was traded…
Geltz and Goforth outrighted…
Adam Walker claimed by Orioles…
Chris Carter released…
Caleb Smith traded…
But we have a partridge in a Miller Park pear tree.

On the thirteenth day of December, Martin Maldonado was traded.
Miguel Diaz was lost in Rule 5 draft…
Phil Bickford got suspended…for the second time…
Tyler Thornburg was traded…
Geltz and Goforth outrighted…
Adam Walker claimed by Orioles…
Chris Carter released…
Caleb Smith traded…
But we have a partridge in a Miller Park pear tree.

With all of this activity, so what did Cream City get?
Got nothing for Geltz and Goforth…
Got nothing for Miguel Diaz…
Got nothing for Phil Bickford…
Got nothing for Adam Walker…
Got nothing for Chris Carter, the National League’s Home Run Champion in 2016…
Got Travis Shaw for Tyler Thornburg…
Got nothing for Caleb Smith…
Got Jett Bandy for Martin Maldonado…
Signed Ivan De Jesus…
Signed Tommy Milone…
Signed Eric Sogard….
Signed Andy Oliver…
Resigned Hiram Borgos…
But we got Ivan De Jesus Jr.

We got Ivan De Jesus Jr….
We now got Ivan De Jesus Jr…
And we have a partridge in a Miller Park pear Tree.

That is a perfect Ivan December.