Big Daddy Wurst

We are in the August few of us predicted. After all, the Cubs are not in the basement and the Pirates have not collapsed yet. The Yankees aren’t in first place and the Angels are anything but. The Nats ain’t…nor are the D’Backs. And what has happened to the San Francisco Giants?

In Milwaukee, this weekend 100,000+ faithful continued to go to Miller Park, or as many call it The Schnitzelhaus.  It is a family affair. When in doubt, when things get tough, family comes together to support each other. All of the Brewer fans are part of a unique family. They literally suffer collectively when the team loses and nothing has created more of a suffering than the letdown of their champion…Ryan Braun.

The way the Brewer fans react to trouble is to eat.  They have lost two in a row this weekend. And Big Daddy Wurst, owner Mark  Attanasio, has helped overcome the troubles by announcing that this August, all fans  attending any or all of the Brewer games would be given $10 in a coupon for food and drink. I have dubbed this Braunschweiger. Predictions are that the Brewers will pack the park. Food is FREE. The one word Milwaukeeans love more than food is FREE.

It dates back to the 1940s. In Juneau Park, in August, 135,132 Milwaukee sports fans were in attendance to watch a boxing match between Tony Zale and Billy Pryor, with none other than Jack Dempsey referreeing.

Admission was FREE. To this date it is the largest crowd ever to see a boxing match…anywhere.

Big Daddy Wurst knows this.  In a letter to Brewer fans, “Starting this week, we will be introducing a series of initiatives to reaffirm our commitment to you and all our fans throughout Wisconsin.” He is going to feed the masses. In a near Christ-like move, there probable won’t be fishes in the mix but there will be sausages that will meet the needs of those gathered. Of course the moment all will await is the Sausage Race during each game. Pick Italian. Word is that dude has been working out all July.

Point of all this is that we have a guy named Caleb in left, GoGo in center, Nori in right, Jean and Rickie in the middle with Jonathan behind the plate with Juan and Yuni at the corners.

What am I missing?

Just Play Ball!

Jean Carlos Star

Jean Carlos Enrique Segura is a rising star. He began shinning in 1990 in San Juan, Dominican Republic. But this year, he has become a full-blown star of major proportion. In his first full season as the starting shortstop of the Milwaukee Brewers, he has played in nearly every game and leads the National League in hits (124) with an All-Star batting average of .326. In the last ten games, he is hitting .378.

There are plenty of players who have put up great ‘can’t miss’ minor league stats and never made it big in The Show. Segura is not one of them. Since he hit organized ball, he has proven to be one of the most valuable players. Drafted by the Angels, he was selected an All-Star in 2010 at Cedar Rapids of the Midwest League. The following year he was named Arizona Fall League Rising Star for the Scottsdale nine. Last year, he was  a Texas League All-Star in AA at Arkansas. Also last year he was a Futures Game Selection. This year he was an All-Star at Citi Field for the National League.

This is his first full season.

In batting, he reminds one of a young Henry Aaron at the plate. Lightening quick hands with unexpected power. Segura has hit 11 home runs in his first full season so far. In Henry’s first 1954 season, he hit 13 while batting .280. His All-Star streak began the following year when he batted .314 with 27 home runs. In fielding, Segura has committed 10 errors at shortstop while Henry had 7 errors playing left field (6) and right field (1).

But is it too early to judge a rookie? Not necessarily so. Honus Wagner in his rookie season, and probably ranked as the greatest shortstop of all time, in his first full season in 1898 for St. Louis had 10 home runs and batted .299. Strangely, he never played shortstop in his first year as most of the time he was at first base (75 games), at third base (65) and second base (10). Then there is Alex Rodriguez. During his first full season in 1996 for Seattle he set the standard with a league leading batting average of .358 while smacking 36 home runs. He committed 15 errors. He too became an All-Star in his inaugural full season. He comes back into the Yankee lineup this week in Texas. Then there is Derek Jeter, today’s Captain of the Yankees. His first full season was also in 1996 when he hit 10 home runs while batting .314. He committed 22 errors in his first full season.

Cal Ripken Jr. hammered 28 home runs in his first full season in 1982 for Baltimore while hitting .264. He had only 13 errors all that season playing shortstop. Luke Appling of the Chicago White Sox in his first full season in 1932 (judging a season with over 100 games played) he batted .274 and hit 3 home runs in cavernous Comiskey Park located at 35th and Shields. He had 49 errors, with 37 coming at shortstop, 6 at second base and 6 at third base.

Yet in Milwaukee, every player who ever plays the shortstop position is judged from a point of reference called Robin Yount. In his first full season (1974) he hit .250 with 3 home runs. He matched his uniform number in the field, committing 19 errors.

The beauty of baseball is that comparison are inevitable.  It is part of the game.

This season, all are experiencing the excitement of a rising star. Look for him at shortstop at Miller Park. He is a remarkable young ballplayer.

Play Ball!

Sciosciaitis

We have the inane ability as humans to give the guy another break. It is part of our human DNA. We create excuses for not pressing the issue if it means terminating an employee for one reason or another. Our expectations are always at their highest right after hiring. After all, if you are the boss, especially in a family run business, it was your decision to hire that employee in the first place. He’s one of ours. So the field for excuse making widens as the boss attempts to give a little more rope in hopes the employee does something so outrageously bad the boss is given the general approval by all of those around that it becomes a ‘fait accompli’. Or, a miracle happens and the avoidance of termination is taken off of the table.

In baseball, the people are hired based upon the track record of others. If a manager is successful and wins a World Series, his staff is cannibalized by teams desperate to duplicate that same experience.

The major leagues and the a little league have only a couple of things in common. Both use bats and balls, bases and foul lines, gloves and bating helmets. One other thing they have in common is Ron Roenicke, a disciple and former coach under one Mike Lorri Scioscia, a manager who reached the top of the ladder earlier in this Century.

The little leagues have a rule that demands everyone on the roster must play. Roenicke obviously believes in this also. In the last couple of weeks this has become very apparent. After winning two straight against the top team in the NL East, the Atlanta team, he decided to bring his kid managerial skills to the fans who paid big-ticket prices to see the best their team has to offer. A few cases in point:

1. Instead of using his #4 outfielder, Schafer, who is replacing Braun (on the DL) and is just beginning to get needed at bats to get the rust off, he uses Caleb Gindl, also a left-handed batter. Gotta play him or his momma gets mad. Gindl misses an easy fly. He is sent to the minors a few days later. The maddening roster changes make programs necessary in Milwaukee.

2. Jeff Bianchi started at 3rd in place of Aramis Ramirez who had a day off two days earlier.

3. What came as a relief to all fans of the Milwaukee nine, Roenicke was given a ‘vote of confidence’ by his owner during this period. Has anyone noticed that the owner hasn’t appeared much in Milwaukee this season?

4. In the 6th, during a game last week, Roenicke elects to use his last right-handed hitter off the bench, trailing in a 6-4 game, Maldonado, batting for the pitcher, strikes out to end the inning and leaves the bench bare of right-handed hitters. Roenicke forgets this is a nine inning game.

5. On Saturday, June 29th, the manager decides to sit Aoki, one of the leading hitters on the team against left-handed pitchers. Pittsburgh’s Francisco Liriano faces the Brew Crew. Roenicke said he rested Aoki because Liriano may be too much with his stuff. When is a star player not good enough or not willing to face off against the best? When did a manager pull his leading left-handed batter against left handed pitching? Can anyone give a reasonable explanation for this continued unconscious thought?

6. July 4th displayed yet another lineup in a season filled with lineup changes. Halton (1st), Bianchi (2nd), Segura (ss), Francisco (3rd?), Schafer (lf), Gomez (cf), Aoki (rf), Lucroy (c), Hand (p). As a result, Bianchi doesn’t cover second with a man on first and a right-handed hitter at the plate as Werth steals second, the third off Lucroy in the first four inning of this game. With runners on first and second, no outs, Francisco lets a bunt pop up drop in front of him, taking away the possibility, however small, and fumbling the ball to load the bases, two of which eventually score. In the second double switch in as many innings, Roenicke brings in Weeks to play 2nd, moving Bianchi to left and moves Shafer to center, replacing Gomez who just hit a home run to tie the game. Please grasp this managerial masterpiece of maneuvering. It is truly Scioscia-esque.

This is a curious move, a move by a guy who wants to lose the game and his job. He brings in Kenzler in relief and promptly gives up a 3 run homer to make the score 8-5. Ramos, for Washington, drove in 5 runs in 2 innings. This is not a tribute to a fellow who just came back from the DL, but another example of managerial mayhem.

This is a team without fundamentals. The Milwaukee Brewers this season have fallen to the bottom of fan’s hope chest. This fundamental inadequacy may extend all the way through the organization, through the minor leagues to the big club. Outside of the Narron Bros., the rest of this coaching staff is less than adequate. So many runners have been picked off first base this season one can only hope that the players only hit doubles to avoid any and all input from the first base coach, who appears to be unconscious most of the time. As for the third base coach, everyone knows that he may be the poorest in all of organized sports. But they say, “He’s such a nice guy”. He’s always smiling. You would be too if you had a big league job.

To his credit, Roenicke admitted he made a mistake in Friday’s disappointing loss to the dreadful Mets. The mistake was that he showed up at the ballpark.

Play Ball!

Smelling The Rosin Of Spring

The off-season is filled with visions of money stacked tall and wide. It is that time to make THE haul in a baseball players career. Today’s top pitcher on the Market for a new contract is Zach Greinke. He may not be the best pitcher, nor even the best pitcher on his new team. But he will be one of the best paid pitchers in baseball.

It is all built on hope. The hope of the Los Angeles Dodgers is to win a pennant and another World Series. The hope of Zach Greinke is to have the biggest bank account in whatever neighborhood he decides to land in. But there are severe problems in achieving both of these hopeful goals. First, there is the champion San Francisco Giants. Second, there is chemistry. Third, there is history.

The San Francisco Giants have won the World Series two of the past three years. Here is a team that has the players in place with an understanding that it takes all 25 to make a successful season. They also have one of the deepest pitching staffs in baseball. They also have the best pitcher in the National League, Matt Cain. Plus, they have an excellent manager of the game. Nobody today manages crises better than Bruce Bochy.

Chemistry is an important ingredient in making up a championship ball club. It is the glue that holds a team together in tough times and the power behind the bonding that makes the good times even greater. Greinke has some interesting issues when it comes to this particular element. Can the highest paid pitcher on your staff be only the second best on your staff? Can the introverted guy meld into the blend that is La La? Sure, the news that will be coming out of Camelback Ranch this spring will be full of hope and how well Grienke will be fitting into those Boys In Blue. He’ll be shown laughing with what’s his name, Matt Kemp, in Center Field. He’ll be throwing down a few with what’s his name, Adrian Gonzalez, who just got here from Boston at First Base. He’ll be seen in a picture, smiling, alongside what’s his name, Clayton Kershaw, the 24-year-old, number one pitcher on the staff. But there will be Donny Ballgame attempting to manage it all. And there will be exhortations from Tommy saying that the second coming of the Dodgers to Los Angeles is well on its way and that he will shout from the top of his lungs, “Bleed Dodger Blue, Baby”.

That brings us to number three: history and Grienke’s six year, $147 million dollar deal in the National League. Zack’s history in the N.L. with the Milwaukee Brewers was spectacular at home. He never lost a game at home in Milwaukee. But on the road, it was a different story. What happens on the road when he hits his non-winning bumps, far away from the palm lined driveway in the Hills of Southern California? Could anguish set in behind the doubts he will have to live up to because of the immense amount of money he is making? No one will be able to console him because no one knows how to talk to him. He doesn’t really do that. But the real doubt that will haunt him is that he is not a #1. He was number two in Milwaukee. He was number two with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Yet he is being paid #1 salary by a desperate team.

Why are they desperate? San Francisco is the king. L.A. is the pretender. L.A. hates to be second to any city, especially to the City By The Bay. Least we forget, it takes more than just a great home field starting pitcher. The San Francisco Giants have a bullpen besides great starting pitching and a proven manager with a team loaded with chemistry.

But, this is what the Hot Stove is all about, isn’t it. You can talk about hope forever. You can talk about the pros and cons of paying Greinke whatever. All the time you are doing this, you can almost smell the rosin of spring. It’s only a few weeks away.

Play Ball!

It Was A Season To Forget For 29 Others

The San Francisco Giants are champions of baseball, once again. Their sold out season at home was a testament to their power in the West and throughout all of the game. The center of attention come spring will be Scottsdale. That is where they will begin to defend their title this past season and second in the past three years. For other teams it was a season to forget.

In Miami, what should have been a season to remember, became a nightmare quicker than you can say Fidel Castro. Of course when Ozzie said those two words, the beginning of the end began. Ozzie is no longer the manager of the Miami Marlins. He’s out of the fish tank. Now he can spout off about the aged dictator in Cuba all he wants with his profanity laced vocabulary. Así que lo siento. Me encanta el béisbol.

In Boston there was a tea party like only Beantown can deliver. They had fired the most successful manager in their history, who won not one but two World Series supposedly because he had lost control of his team. Guys were actually drinking beer in the clubhouse. Imagine that. Baseball players drinking beer in the clubhouse. After that horrible discovery was blabbed throughout New England on every fish wrap and sports talk mediums, there was a long debate between the candidates they would select as the next great Red Sox manager. Suffice to say the guy they should have taken grabbed the job with the Cubs before the Red Sox decided on Bobby Valentine. Yikes!

In Philadelphia and Milwaukee, great pre-season pitching staffs do not materialize to automatically put them into the playoffs. In Minneapolis, they found out that you can’t have a team built around one high-priced catcher. On the North side of Chicago, Dale Sveum is facing, like others who have taken over that franchise before him, another losing season which must be followed with a winning season or Sveum will have swum. On the South side of Chicago, they let a season of great leadership by one of their own disintegrate in September. St. Louis, Atlanta and Cincinnati had hopes crushed by the tidal wave known as the Giants. Arizona’s owner showed how he knows more about baseball than anybody because he has all the baseball cards Topps has ever printed. That makes him an authority. Unfortunately, Gibson can’t manage cardboard players. Houston was seen rushing over to the American League. They forgot to play ball in 2012.

Seattle had a season to remember. They gave up the greatest player in the game to the Yankees but had more great pitching performances at their stadium than anywhere on the planet ever. They are smiling in Seattle. Same with the fans in Washington, DC, where they were rewarded with a team that brought the city their first divisional championship. Quite an accomplishment for a City that had not seen a title winner since 1933.

Pittsburgh did it again. After a hot start, they faded badly. What do you expect from a team  that is managed by Clint Hurdle. Cleveland was never in the papers the entire season. Nor were the Padres. The New York Mets were non-factors this past season. Colorado disappeared in their own thin air plus their manager left after the season. Kansas City’s only claim to fame this season was hosting the All-Star game. The two ‘T-Towns’, Toronto and Tampa Bay had flashes of brilliance but not enough to put them in the big dance. On top of that, the Blue Jays lost their manager who became the head dude of the Boston Valentines.

Then there were the New York Yankees. The rapid loss of skills of A-Rod and the physical loss of The Captain, doomed the pinstripers this past season. In Dallas, the almost unexplainable coldness of Hamilton’s bat late in the season doomed the Rangers third attempt to win it all in three straight seasons. This franchise still hasn’t realized it needs pitching to win. Did you hear that Nolan Ryan? Remember what you did better than most? It wasn’t hitting. And what can you say about Detroit that hasn’t already been said?

That brings us to Baltimore. What a magical season Buck Showalter brought to baseball. 93 wins. Finally, Buck got his due. After rebuilding the Yankees and then getting fired; after building the Diamondback from scratch and setting all of the pieces together to win the World Series and got fired; after rebuilding the Rangers before he got fired; he took over a team that had won only 66 games the year before he got there and in two short years took them to the door of greatness.

Then there is Oakland and Billyball. The Athletics won the American League West title. And they played for the Championship of the American League. Go ahead. Name three players on the A’s besides Coco Crisp. They won an exciting 94 games. This was one of the most amazing stories in baseball. Billy Bean for President. He is the star of this franchise. Nobody understands the game better…on how to get the most out of talent like Mr. Bean.

On the other side of the equation is the Battle for LA. On one hand there is a billionaire who  bought a pig in a poke and thought he could win the American League pennant and finished third. On the other hand there are billionaires who not only  have to improve a team on the field but a stadium they play in and make it once again safe to go and see games. The Pujols Angels were only exciting because of one rookie. Their manager finally showed what he is made of. Arte has to take a look at his manager if he hopes to capture a title soon. As for the former LaLa Dodgers, they have gotten rid of all that has been bad over the past couple of years by taking out of the game the battling McCourts.

Which leads us to the Giants of San Francisco. Jack Elliot once said “Baseball is grown men getting paid to play a game.” In the City by the Bay, men enjoyed playing baseball this season like few before them. The had food fights before the games. One of their biggest boosters was an injured pitcher who played Ernie Kovacs routine of The Nairobi Trio in the dugout during the game. There were more than smiles. There was laughter and joy of being in a game they love to play. Pandemonium ruled. They put new gas into the gashouse gang. Think of them as the laughing gasers. They have all winter to smile the smile of victory.

Play Ball!

A Case For #28 As MVP

 

All-star, silver slugger award winner, Prince Fielder is an undisputed MVP candidate of the American League this season. Case in point: in 2011 he was the insurance behind the National League’s MVP, Ryan Braun. that assured pitchers threw would rather pitch to Braun in the third position in the batting order than take their chances with the ever dangerous Fielder in clean up. In 2012, he was the insurance behind the American League’s first Triple Crown winner in 45 years, Miguel Cabrera. In the clean up position, Fielder was again the biggest threat. Pitchers have learned that they just don’t like pitching to #28. He is that dangerous. Cabrera was the beneficiary.

This is not to take anything away from Braun or Cabrera. They are both great baseball players and superb hitters. Both earned their achievement titles.

But how dangerous is Fielder? In both 2011 and 2012, he played in all 162 games. In 2011 he had 170 hits. In 2012 he had 182 hits. Last year he had 36 doubles while he collected 33 doubles this season. He hit 38 home runs while driving in 120 RBIs last season. This year he hit 30 home runs and drove in 108 RBIs. As for the RBI total, you probably can’t have too many men on base when the Triple Crown winner is hitting ahead of you. Last year he hit .299 and this year hit .313. Perhaps the most amazing stat is the fact that he walked 85 times while striking out only 84 times.

He will get better. This was his first season in the American League. Despite inter league games, he had to learn all of the pitchers in a new league.

So, who is better than Prince Fielder as an MVP candidate in the American League? Is it a Triple Crown winner or Michael Trout of the Angels, who had a very good rookie season?  Detroit won their division and moved on to the playoffs. The Angels finished out of the running. MVP is all about who got you there not who might have gotten you there. Remember, Prince played in more games and hit as many home runs as Trout did. Plus he’s playing in the playoffs once again.

Play Ball!

 

 

 

 

 

If It’s Milwaukee, It Must Be Kielbasa

Doctors may say that the quickest way to solve a psychological condition is to eat. It’s comfort food time. It’s ‘get better’ time. It’s like ‘when the child is sick, give them some chicken soup’ kinda thing. The baseball team from the Cream City needs some chicken soup. Or….a Kielbasa.

This year the Brewers have had three major issues: 1. The psychological hurdle of AP;  2. The calamity of the Bullpen and #3. The problem of having an inexperienced manager at the helm.

The Psychological hurdle of AP

The Milwaukee Brewers this season are a team in transition, from the dynamic youthful bunch who came up through the farm system to AP, an era known as After Prince. For years, the Brewers have had great First Basemen. It all began with the popular Mike Hegan, a member of the original Seattle Pilots from whence the Brewers came. He carried on the Milwaukee tradition of big banging first sackers that was set in the days of the Braves with Joe Adcock/Frank Torre/Nippy Jones fame. George “Boomer” Scott followed up and set a new standard of banging the ball around the park, with his 36 home runs with 109 RBI in 1975 being the hallmark. Then St. Cecil of Cooper (32 home runs with 121 RBI and .313 batting average in 1982), the man who brought the Brewers into the 1982 World Series with one of the greatest clutch hits of all time to win the American League pennant over the California (nee Los Angeles, Anaheim, of Anaheim) Angels.

But the great first sackers didn’t stop there. John Jaha hit .300 with 34 home runs and 118 RBI in ’96. Richie Sexton is still legendary for hitting some of the longest home runs in the game hit 45 home runs in 2001 and 2003. Then came Lyle Overbay, who hit the cover off of the ball with more doubles (53 in 2004 while hitting .301) than any other Milwaukee first baseman before him or after. But he was just keeping the sack warm for the kid who everyone knew was the center of the first base universe storming up from the minors.

Prince Fielder was born to be a Milwaukee Brewer. He was everything a Milwaukee first baseman was all about. But Prince brought a new dimension to the game. He was an enthusiastic crusher with youth going for him. Here was the pillar of the young Brewers (50 home runs in 2007, 141 RBI and .299 batting average in 2009) and were everything the Milwaukee club was looking for ever since the great Robin Yount came up and spent the next 20 years making the Brewers a serious contender each and every year. He, along with Weeks and Hart came up through the ranks pounding the opposition with their youthful style and power (230 home runs as a Brewer). Prince was fun. Prince was the leader. Prince was the soul. Prince was the Man.

Then nothing.

If 2012 is remembered, it was for the silence of the void that was created when Prince left.

They wore Brewers on the front of their jerseys, but they simply were not the Milwaukee Brewers. Their Prince had left. Long live the Prince.

Then something very strange happened. Like the Autumn Spring, false hope gave way to a new and wonderous happening. The next ‘coming’ came and quickly went on the DL for the season. This created a nightmare of a lineup. But someone in the very mold of Adcock and Cooper moved into the outfield from his All-Star position in Right and after 2/3rds of the season, the Brewers began to look once again like the Milwaukee Brewers. Prince, for many diehards, was merely taking a vacation. And now Cory Hart took his position, not his place, but his position at first. Cory, long a favorite of the Keilbasa Krowd, began to hit the long ball once again, and did that crazy little shake of his hips to his teammates in the dugout when he banged a double time and time again.

With the help of the other corners, Aramis Ramirez at third, Norichika Aoki in right and of course Ryan Braun in left, along with the brilliant rookie catcher, Martin Maldonado, solid clutch hitting along with a couple of young rookie arms, brought back the excitement of the past few years where Milwaukee was averaging over 3 million fans at the gate. From way back, 14 1/2 to be exact, they began their move with an impressive sweep over the league leading Cincinnati Reds. Then came Houston.

The Calamity of the Bullpen

A microcosm of a season was in evidence in one single game this past Friday evening. Good fielding, good timely hitting. 24th blown save. K-Rod (Francisco Rodriguez) is finished. His $8.5 million isn’t worth the paper it is written on. John Axford is useless. If you cannot get a breaking ball over the plate, you are finished in The Show. After a tremendous seven innings pitched by rookie Mark Rogers, K-Rod came in and promptly served up a home run in the 8th inning to the lowly Astros. Then Axford’s walked the lead-off batter and flummoxed his was to the minors to lose the game in the 9th. The Houston Astros this season have NEVER had a walk-off hit before Axford showed up on a humid, air-conditioned evening before the big train on the wall of a ballpark. Axford became the Enron of Minute Maid.

The Problem of Having An Inexperienced Manager At The Helm

After the game, Ron Roenicke the Brewers manager, was downright lost for words. He visibly had lost all confidence in the team. He had visibly lost confidence in himself. Most important, it appeared that he didn’t have any answers. He appeared to be on the verge of tears. He knew he had not learned a thing from the past failures that the Brewers earned throughout this Season AP. Here was a guy who seemingly prides himself on following baseball’s crazy tradition of backing the veterans until their wheels fall off. Wake up, Scioscia’s puppet. The wheels have fallen off. They fell off when your silly decision to keep Cesar Izturis as a backup shortstop ended the progress Edwin Maysonet was making earlier in the season. The wheels fell off when you insisted K-Rod had something left in the tank. He doesn’t. It’s empty. (NOTE: He took arbitration because he couldn’t get anything close to what he was making with the Brewers.) They fell off when you continued to use Axford. Tell Milwaukee’s President of Baseball Operations and General Manager, Doug Melvin, John Axford needs to go back to the minors and work on getting his curve and screwball working again. It’s called ‘getting it over the plate’. He can get work on it down there and it won’t affect the big club’s record. Then take whatever you can get for K-Rod and save the last month’s salary for new hot water bottles for you to sit on or something. Anything but K-Rod.

You cannot fire this bullpen coach. You already did that as a miserable excuse for your inexperience in evaluating what was going on around you, Mr. Roenicke. When the fans in the stands begin to moan and get up to leave the ballpark when you walk out of the dugout and pull your ‘baseball veteran’ scam by taking out the starting pitcher and bring in the dynamic Blown Savers, you have to know, that we all know, you are going to a dry well. There is no more water in that well. It’s dry. That well dried up when the season began. You just didn’t believe it was dry because these two could still walk in from the bullpen. They are the ‘Walking Dead Arms’.

The Solution

It is time you faced the facts of the game in Milwaukee. When in doubt, eat a kielbasa. You need to understand the ‘Power of the K’. Do the honorable thing, Mr. Roenicke. Do what Max Surkont did. He ate himself out of The Show by dinning at those South side Milwaukee fans homes in the ’50s every night. That, plus a few of Milwaukee’s favorite brew, became his ticket out of baseball. But, let it be said that Big Max was more than just an expert on Polish sausages. He also was a bit of a linguist, a man of, one might say, unusual phrases. He once said, “Baseball was never meant to be taken seriously. If it were, we would play it with a javelin instead of a ball.”

So sayeth Max.

Eat, Mr. Roenicke. Don’t mess with the javelin. As they say on the South Side, ‘Eat them kielbasa and wash it down at the bubbler.’.  It is the honorable thing to do.

Then, when the urge comes to give that vet one more shot, forget it. Call in anyone except K-Rod or Axford. It is his time. And as you do that, just say, “Long Live Axford. He was the proverbial flash in the pan.”

Mr. Roenicke? Eat a Kielbasa! We will all be better for it.

Play Ball!

Where Has All The Hitting Gone? Mendoza Lives!

In 13 major league games on Monday, 11 teams had 6 hits or fewer. If you were in Las Vegas, you would have made a bundle on the over and under by picking the under when it came to hits for a game.

Here is a look at the limited amount of hitting last night: Seattle got 5 hits; Texas 6 hits; Milwaukee 6 hits; Diamondback 6 hits; Angels 5 hits; A’s 6 hits; Tampa Bay 5 hits; Rockies 5 hits; the Braves 2 hits; National’s 5 hits and the Phillies 6 hits. You can’t do a lot with 6 or fewer hits in a game.

Pitching certainly is a key to limiting hits. Darvish was on the mound for the Rangers at Seattle and the Mariners had King Felix on the mound. Understood. But the Mariners had Ichiro (he got two hits and drove in 2 runs in a 6-1 victory). Milwaukee struggled against Bumgarner who was masterful before Braun hit a game tieing home run off of him in the bottom of the 8th inning. Each team used 6 pitchers before the Giants won on the road 4-3. The D’Back’s had nothing against Capuano as the Dodgers also won on the road. The Angels, who are disappearing in the American League West, had a total of 5 hits. The good news: Pujols had one of them. The bad news: it was their 3rd straight loss. Milone was the winner for the A’s, his 6th victory this season. For the A’s, a win is a win even if you only get 6 hits. Tampa Bay had no excuses. They just didn’t hit in their home loss to the Blue Jays. The Rockies? They never hit, but they were up against Buehrle. The Braves had no excuses for only getting 2 hits. They faced a previously winless pitcher, Leake for the Reds. Now he isn’t winless anymore. As for the Nat’s at the Fightin’s, Gonzalez won on the road for Washington and is now 6-1. Kendrick lost for the 4th time this season for Philadelphia and is now 0-4.

I don’t mind great pitching. Bumgarner, Darvish, King Felix and Gonzalez looked sharp. But do we have to have 11 teams that can’t muster up enough hits to rise above the Mendoza Line during a single day? The Brewers, Phillies and Angels are all in big trouble unless they begin hitting.

By the way, the guy who makes $25 million a year for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who at 6’3″ tall and weighs 230 lbs. is now hitting .212 with 3 home runs. This is the very definition of The Mendoza Line.

The Mendoza Line is an expression in baseball, deriving from the name of shortstop Mario Mendoza, who’s lifetime batting average is taken to define the threshold of incompetent hitting. Mendoza’s career batting average over nine seasons (1974–1982) was .215. For purists this is the deciding line for lack of achievement in major league baseball. However, many use the cutoff point of .200, and, when a position player’s batting average falls below that level, the player is said to be below the Mendoza Line.

It was supposedly originated by Hall of Fame player George Brett. Thanks, George.

The good thing about baseball? There is another game today. Let’s have some hitting.

Play Ball!