Flumoxity

Flumoxity? 'It takes one to know one-and vice versa!'

Flumoxity? ‘It takes one to know one-and vice versa!’


Flumoxity….baseball’s way of flimflamming through nearly any and all problems related to the game.

Baseball is a simple game. It is apparently for simple people.

But for the men running the game, they understand more than simple people can understand. For instance, the Band of 30 (those not so simple owners of Major League Baseball teams) occasionally join together to make policy. They have regularly scheduled meetings in AAAA resorts around the nation or the world to gather, talk, dine and make policy for America’s pastime. They have no fear of any overwhelming governmental intervention because they are immune to Monopoly.

Yet these folks, when they gather, can do some amazingly mystical things, like what happened early this year. This was the year when a new Major League Baseball Commissioner was placed on the job. Rob Manfred, succeeded Allan Huber ‘Bud’ Selig. He now sits in a big chair in MLB’s Manhattan offices on Park Avenue, not the one in Milwaukee, where the Commissioner Emeritus sits as an overviewer to allow him to collect a handsome pension, far above the one he would have earned as a used car salesman for his father’s Southside auto dealership. But one digresses because of the love of the man who brought baseball back to Milwaukee.

Alfred sez: “Today, if you ask a car dealer to let you see something for 10 grand, he’ll show you the door!”

One of his first decisions Mr. Manfred made was extraordinary. Imagine if you will, naming Barry Bonds the head of drug enforcement for the ‘good of the game’. No. That has not happened yet. Or, he could allow Pete Rose eligible for the Hall of Fame even though he confessed to betting on baseball games while he was a manager. No, that hasn’t happened yet. But beware. He could do something curious because in one of the first decisions he made when he became the new commish was to appoint New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon as the Chairman of Major League Baseball’s Finance Committee.

That is not a misprint. It is in fact truth. Rob Manfred named Fred Wilpon the overseer of MLB’s money…as the Chair of MLB’s Finance Committee.

Alfred sez: “Most people don’t act stupid: it’s the real thing!”

It is a strange choice. Wilpon was on the financial ropes after he was involved with Bernie Madoff.

His team allegedly owes hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and there is a question of whether the New York Mets franchise has been properly financed over the past half-dozen years. Fred Wilpon seems to be bad with money yet he will be in charge of counting Major League Baseball’s cash. Who would have guessed?

It takes all kinds of Brass Junk Hangers to make a decision like this and actually say ‘Public be damned. I’m the Commish!’.

And that he is.

He has to, however, in order to earn all of that annual pay, walk a high-wire act to make the bad inferences all go away. He has been handed a Selig legacy of personal friendship between the former Commissioner and his friend, Wilpon. Selig used personal relationships to build his internal baseball political power base. Favors flowed between the various owners. Selig to former Twins owner, Carl Pohlad, who lent $3 million short-term bridge loan to Selig’s Milwaukee Brewers in July 1995. Contrary to a Major League Baseball rule, the loan was not approved by other team owners at a time that Selig was serving as acting commissioner while continuing in his role as president and chief executive of the Brewers. Coincidently, Fred Wilpon of the Mets said at the time, ‘It may ruffle some feathers, but it’s inappropriate and sad that people would attack Carl and Bud on this.’ ‘Frankly, I’ve borrowed very little money in my lifetime,’ Selig said. ‘He [Pohlad] was a friend. He was a banker.’

Selig and the White Sox owner, Jerry Reinsdorf, who was more like a collusion brother where they together made a pact to keep players pay down, have had an ongoing friendship. They tried to fix free-agent pay scale. That didn’t work. But they tried.

Alfred sez: “Blood is thicker than water . . . but it makes lousy lemonade!

Fred Wilpon and his brother-in-law, Saul Katz, the Mets’ other owner, had been fighting a $1 billion lawsuit against them by the trustee for victims of the infamous Bernard L. Madoff’s fraud. The trustee, Irving Picard, accused them of using illicit profits from their Madoff accounts to fuel their sports and real estate empire. Selig was pleased that Wilpon and Katz, who said they were victims of evidence fabricated or misrepresented by the trustee, tried to sell nearly half the team to raise up to $200 million and the Commish felt it unnecessary to step in to force them to do any more.

The owners trying to get in on the inside, guaranteed high interest returns, had invested some $500 million with Bernard Madoff, the ‘Don of the Greedy’, whose Ponzi scheme collapsed in 2008. After everything unraveled, Mets ownership didn’t even get the benefit of being considered “victims” because they had made more in fictitious gains than they had lost. By 2011, Wilpon and Katz faced a $1 billion lawsuit from Irving Picard, trustee for the liquidation of Madoff Investment Securities, which accused Wilpon and his partners of being reasonably aware of Madoff’s scam while investing more money into it. Now, in 2015, the Mets owners gained a legal victory with Picard and agreed to a settlement whereas Wilpon and Katz could pay the trustee just $162 million, a fraction of the $1 billion he was seeking. Thus, the two will be liable for far less than that huge figure because it has been gradually offset by their losses as Picard continues to recoup funds lost for the Madoff fraud victims.

Alfred sez: “Who says nothing is impossible? Some people do it every day!”

The Wilpon family’s burden with the Madoff liquidation trust is down to approximately $60 million. In negotiating this down, Wilpon and Katz quietly managed to sell some 12 minority stakes in the team, 4% ownership each for $20 million apiece. One of the alleged buyers was noted hedge-fund operator Steven Cohen. This entire endeavor brought the brothers-in-law more than $200 million. They also had to then repay their $40 million loan from Bank of America and the $25 million loan from Major League baseball. All of this must have made the powers that be in the MLB feel like Wilpon was some sort of financial wizard.

But never let greed get out of sight too long. It seems, while the Madoff victims will recover 57¢ on every dollar they lost in the fraud, ESPN reported that this was good news for Wilpon and Katz. They can now deduct 57% of their Madoff losses ($178 million) from the $162 million in gains they owe the trustee thus bringing their new debt to just $60.56 million, payable in two installments in 2016 and 2017. And, that figure will likely go down again before the Mets owners need to make the first payment because Wilpon and Katz agreed to pay a guaranteed minimum of $29 million.

Ain’t it great to be an American in baseball?

Alfred sez: “A lawyer is someone who writes a 40-page document and calls it a brief!”

One can reduce a billion dollar debt down to perhaps only $29 million or, for the mathematically inclined, just 2.9% of the total originally owed.

But what legal maneuvering giveth, morality and the gods of baseball taketh away. You see the team and the cable network still carry a lot of debt, even as the owners’ debt to the Madoff trustee shrinks. Just last year, good ol’ Saul was reportedly considering selling his entire stake in the team, leaving his bro-in-law just a minority owner. While Saul may no longer be responsible for his brother-in-laws character, Wilpon was still able to get the team in legal trouble over sexual discrimination suits brought upon them by a former high level single executive. But, who’s counting?

Alfred sez: “Nowadays, the perfect crime is getting caught and selling your story to T.V.!”

They still have more money troubles than that. It is reported that the Mets still owe money to two players that haven’t played for the Mets in 20 years: Bobby Bonilla, who has $1.2 million coming to him every year until 2036 and Bret Saberhagen, who is owned $250,000 each year until 2029.

Now you can see just how good a money man this Wilpon is. The brothers-in-laws have managed to stay afloat largely by borrowing against the skyrocketing equity in their 65% investment in S.N.Y. Yes, that’s the cable home of the Mets. You see, it has been reported that they have been using the local sports television network boom to stave off bankruptcy.

It seems very logical. This Wilpon fellow really knows how to handle finances. Thus, who wouldn’t make him the Czar of all the MLB cash.

Which all begs the question: What’s he got on the Commish?

Play Ball!

Alfred sez: ‘In retrospect, it becomes clear that hindsight is definitely overrated!’.

La Petite Boule Ronde

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This week our attention turned from the diamond to the jewel of Europe, Paris. In keeping within that framework, the question arises: do they play baseball in France?

In 1889, the guy who first used a fielding glove in the major leagues, traveled to France and introduced the game. A.G. Spaulding did not make many inroads. The game was strange to the French and it wasn’t until the French Baseball Union, an amateur league formed in 1912 by ex-patriots, that it enjoyed success. The game grew up in Paris and a game between Vésinet and Diepp drew 3,000 spectators. The league went on hiatus but French soldiers began to love the game as Canadians used the time between battles in WWI to practice the American pastime with allied troops. The arrival of Americans in 1918 did even more to widen the sport’s reach in France. Rouen, the capital of Normandy, became a baseball hotbed. A game between two American teams drew 20,000 fans. The popularity of the game must be credited to Major League players who were serving in the military in France such as Christy Mathewson, Grover Cleveland Alexander, George Kelly and Jonny Evers.

The game reached its peak at the conclusion of World War I and did not re-emerge until the allies liberated France in World War II. Between 1955 and 1992, Paris and Nice won 26 of 28 French Championships. In 1976, there were 21 baseball clubs in France. By 1987, there were 170.

The domestic league in France is called the French Elite League and it has eight teams: Rouen, Montpellier, Savigny, Senart, La Guerche, Toulouse, Montigny and Clermont-Ferrand. The Rouen Huskies have dominated the past decade, winning 9 of the last 10 league titles.

Joris Bert was the first French player to be drafted by a Major League team, as he was selected in the 19th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2007 first-year player draft.

So, why is this even up for discussion today?

There is a bond between the two nations that go beyond the political…the support at the earliest days of our country. Many Americans are Francophiles. Many French are Americanophile.

But today we are all French.

Play Ball!
French_Baseball_League

Little Uke Music (リトルうけ音楽)


The miniature extension of the legendary Ichiro, Nori Aoki, two inches shorter than Suzuki, again hit an unusual wall in Major League Baseball. The San Francisco Giants declined to renew their option on Aoki. He had been receiving a base salary of $5.5 million. He hit .287 with 5 home runs and 14 stolen bases in 93 game (392 plate appearances). Ultimate Zone Rating for defensive play said he saved between three and four runs with his glove. It was exceptional value for any team. His strike out rate of 6.4 was the lowest in baseball. The next closet had a 7.1 rate. And, Aoki ranked third in contact percentage, connecting on 91.6% of his swings this past season.

That is called being a great contact hitter.

What a journey he has had in the Major Leagues. First, with the Milwaukee Brewers, he had to go through a multi-day hitting and fielding drill for the suits and then former manager, Roenicke, before they decided to offer a low-ball contract in the 11th hour. It was the best he could receive. Then unexpectedly, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals, after becoming one of the best lead-off hitters in the history of the team. He and his wife had a child in Milwaukee. His friend, Hall Of Fame announcer, Bob Uecker was even asked to name the child. Of course after Bob suggested ‘Uke’, the Hiragana and Katakana writing was on the wall, ‘詳細はありませんビール’.

He was traded for a guy named Smith, a fellow the then General Manager had been watching for many many hockey seasons. The trade was an absolute steal for Kansas City which uses the Milwaukee Brewers like a minor league affiliate drum as the All-Star center fielder, Lorenzo Cain, and the All-Star shortstop, Alcides Escobar, were also given to them by Milwaukee along with two others for a pitcher who was traded to the Los Angeles Marinos for a not as good shortstop. I know. You can’t make this kind of story up.

While in Kansas City, Nori led the team, along with his other former Brewer teammates, to an American League Pennant and seven games in the World Series before losing to the San Francisco Giants. Ichiro never played in a World Series game. For some reason, Kansas City did not resign Nori. So, he, his wife and Little Uke, left for Bagdad by the Bay. There he was headed to an All-Star birth when he was hit while at bat which produced a fractured fibula, taking him out of the lineup for a month. Coming back was hit in the head by a pitch in Chicago on August 9th and sustained a concussion that forced him to miss the final month of the season. Yet he still had a terrific season in only 93 games. Of course, that all has caused Little Uke and his mom and dad to seek a new experience somewhere in America for next season.

But that certainly isn’t the end of the story.

The Brewers, before the Royals and now the Giants, have made a major mistake. Not because of the great leadoff hitting Nori provides, but they are missing out on one of the great young talents in the game…the young American called Little Uke. Truth be told, there is a rumor that he has a fantastic arm. Standing only 1’9”, it is rumored (again, with no viral social media proof showing this legendary action) that he has chucked a rattle, from his play pen, around a slight bend of the wall, into the glove of his dad, some 98’ 6” away. And the smack it made hitting the glove caused the rattle to explode after reaching, some have said because no jugs gun was available, at a severe 106 mph. Dad’s hand is a little sore but there is no evidence of any concussion ailments recurring. But he does have a slight twitching of his left eye any time he attempts to close his left hand.

Dad’s interpreter said that ‘Nori was shocked to see the rattle had a slight tail coming around the corner. It reminded him of the story that was told when he was a kid, about Baby Ichiro, who, as legend has it, fired his rattle 104 mpg but only 96’6″. This is called ‘pedigree’ folks.

Now, the Milwaukee, Kansas City and San Francisco teams find themselves not in the most favorable position to sign the youngster to a ‘Futures’ contract. As Bob Uecker told a Pigsville Press reporter, ‘What a shame. Here we could have had the future ‘Leaksville Lefty’, Vinegar Bend Mizell. Sorry, I’m so upset I have to go down to Saz’s and have a brat.’ Dismay has also traveled to KC, where, when they found out about YU, attempts were being made to trade unsigned Alex Gordon for the future rights to the young phenom.

San Francisco learned about YU AFTER they declined the option on the old man (33 years of age) and quickly sent a cable car half way to the stars to have a sit down with Nori. But Nori’s intrepetor was not available as he was going along with Nori’s agent to Mattel to sign a deal for YU, securing his family fortune. Yes, they are even talking about a ’Speed Rattle’ and a ’Speed Rattle Jugs Gun’, both with the Little Uke logo and trade mark. Nori is still trying to learn the correct response to the question of ‘sweet’ or ‘sweep’. (See above)

Sometimes Major League baseball just doesn’t think things through, as right in front of them is an analytic vision in plain view. While the Yankees are considering hiring a 13-year-old phenom GM from PS 112 to head up their ‘Looksee Analytic Force’ (LAF), it was said that this kind of thing would be on their radar if they can convince the teenager to join the pinstripes in time to make an offer for YU.

It seems that the interpreter and agent for Nori have some time after the Mattel deal is finalized. Rumor has it that Mars candies is also very interested in making YU a lifetime spokesperson deal for M&Ms.

The Texas Rangers are flying to San Francisco as this is being written. Vu Darvish is jetting in from Tokyo with a cowboy hat in hand, to have an old family style Bon Odori to create a meaningful group gathering. While usually held during the summer, Prince Fielder’s kids suggested it be pushed back for this very special meeting. It is thought that Prince’s kids understand bushi and ondo, traditional Japanese folk songs. Could be Little Uke might become a Cowboy’s fan this Spring while wearing the Star of the Rangers? According to unnamed social media sources, The University of Texas is pushing through an amendment to bypass the normal procedures and offer Little Uke admission into their University (school of his choice) for next year’s Fall semester even though he is only two years of age.

What the Giants and the Royals before them and the Brewers before them has caused, will not drastically affect their future into the next decade. For the Giants and Royals, that’s really not a problem for right now. They are loaded. For the Brewers, it is not a problem because they have never really seen ultimate success of wearing a World Series ring.

Meanwhile, the number 1 song on Dallas country western radio is ‘Ichiban’…ナンバーワン.

Play Ball!

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SAC Attack


Stearns/Arnold/Counsell…this is the triumvirate of the Milwaukee Brewers. They will attempt to put together a team that will do something none have done with this organization before…win a World Series. In 45 years, no combination of General Manager, Assistant General Manager and Manager have ever won a Word Series for this franchise. For those who are 45 years old, nada. For those who are 55 years old, nada for a ball club in this city. For those who are 57 years old, join the ‘never seen a World Series winning ball club in this City’ (NSAWSWBCLITC) club.

It has been a long, cold dry spell.

Now these three will go about their business devising a way which will bring a winner to this City.

What do they have? They have a catcher who can hit, but didn’t this past season because of injury and other things. Can’t really get full value from him until he proves he can hit once again. They have a first baseman who actually stayed healthy and can hit. Good time to trade him. They have a second baseman who might be able to hit but has a difficult time fielding. No trade value. There is a shortstop who has shown signs of great promise and on again, off again fielding and hitting. No real value there unless he gets hot. There is no third baseman except for Rodgers but he might be better at first. No value there.

A left fielder who can hit and hit with power but has one itsy bitsy problem. He can’t throw. The entire league takes advantage of his poor arm strength and accuracy. But teams need hitting and the American League would be a perfect place for this young, valuable bat. The Angels would always go for more hitting because they have never believed in pitching. No real center fielder that is proven. Scout the waiver wires. Center fielder who can run like the wind and hit for a team that traded away their last two who could do so, one to Kansas City and the other to Houston, would be the way you would write a help wanted ad for this position.

There is a right fielder coming back from injury, who is an emotionally tainted superstar and has a contract only a major market can afford. Are you listening, Yankees? Dodgers? Giants? Angels? White Sox? Tigers? Rangers? Sure, he’ll get boo’d in Arizona but chances are if you are an AL team, you won’t have to go there except for every sixth year. There is a back up catcher who can’t hit. A back up outfield who can’t hit. As for pitchers, we have a great young, up-and-coming pitching staff with favorable contracts. Nelson, Jungmann, Peralta, Davies, they have tremendous value. Do you dare trade any of them in a game today where pitching is more valuable than gold? There is Garza who has a contract bigger than most and cannot win any games. Not much value there. And if anyone…I mean anyone offers anything for him, they should not even think twice. Just get rid of this mess of a contract.

There is relief pitching. There is a left hander who has value because there are very few decent left-handed pitchers coming out of the pen in the Bigs. Just don’t tell anyone that he blows a few games every once in a while. He’s got value. There is a great relief pitcher who is destined to become one of the greatest all-time relievers in the game but has a bit of a problem showing up for Spring Training because…now all together, ‘he has problems getting through Venezuela’s passport procedures’ year after year. But once he gets to Arizona, he only occasionally steps on a cactus. There is that big guy, Hellweg, but he probably doesn’t have much value.

There is a third base coach who can’t hit or coach. He leads the league in bonehead plays, year after year. But he’s such a good guy, and, he’s funny. He tells jokes. Works hard. Must have something on the organization or owner because he’s still here after most of the staff was let go. He probably HAS value…to somebody.

Wait: there is a radio announcer who can’t make road trips anymore yet has more value than most of the guys on the field. A TV announcer who is on more networks than any social media surfer. He’s apparently got value. And that guy who sells the popcorn from the wagon behind home plate in the entrance lobby. He’s got value as he is the one person with salt. Then there is the real asset, Bernie. He’s got value…to somebody who wants to slide for a living. Unfortunately, the people with the most value in this organization are the ‘Racing Sausages’ but they are owned by the sausage maker. Great value…but can’t trade them.

There are those motorcycles in the gap in left center field. They have value. The Miller Park sign would fit perfectly into the man-cave of a fan with a basement big enough to house a dirigible. OK. Limited value.

So, as we stand here today, watching the Kansas City Royals and the New York Mets battle for the World Series Championship, there is this team on the Western banks of Lake Michigan, near a legendary corner of this earth known to locals as Pigsville, where the aroma of Red Star Yeast waffles through the noses of residents in Kilbourntown, Walker’s Point and Juneautown, within eyeshot of Johnston Cookies, that is headed by SAC.

What on earth will they do this winter? Maryville is just 105 days away.

Play Ball!

Like An Empty Pizza Box The Next Morning


The entirety of the old confines fell unearthly quiet. The home team’s dugout was complete with disbelief. Sitting motionless with blank stares of imminent closure was complete evidence. The manager stood on the second step of the dugout, set in a frozen stare before an ever so slight shaking of his head as if in shock.

With a 3-2 count in the top of the 1st inning on a Wednesday, October 21, 2015, there was no goat to blame…not Bartman to condemn…no rain as in the night before. Simply put, the pitcher put a pitch over the plate and a fellow named Duda smacked it out, over the vines in deep left center field to bring complete and total silence to Clark & Sheffield, where dreams continue down a path worn with grief and agony. The New York Mets defeated the home team, the Chicago Cubs on that pitch…in that instant…in that fraction it takes to smash a dream for another day…another season…another year.

The look on the young Cubbie faces were blank, searching for an answer to the more than evident answer. The long, long drought of the Chicago franchise on the North Side of the City would continue. Youth was destroyed. Pennants were banished. Blame it on Duda.

The vines began to fade along with the autumn somewhere between the 1st and 2nd inning when Duda drove in two more to make is 6-0 in 1 & 2/3rds innings of the fourth game of the NLCS. The only sound one could hear was the movement of arms-to-mouth for another sip of Old Style. And that seemed slower than usual, as the crowd was in nonbelief.

On this Fall evening, after the lights were out, the North Siders failed…again. This time it was the Metropolitans from the place where the Big Apple rises in center field who won in four straight games to win the National League Championship in 2015 with a score of 8-3.

Long live the memories of Tinkers to Evers to Chance. It didn’t happen when Baez to Castro to Rizzo played in their dreams.

Play Ball!

Did You Know

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In his book, ‘Is This a Great Game or What?‘, ESPN analyst Tim Kurkjian wrote, “Baseball is the only major sport in which some of the standard-bearers have been dead for fifty years, and a team that hasn’t played in eighty years, the 1927 Yankees, are still mentioned in casual conversation.”

Recently, at a bar with some friends, the majority of discussion centered around the ‘Did you know…’ friendly betting game. It is a great way to win a beer or two with your friends at a bar, backyard or ball park.

Did you know when the first touring ballplayers went overseas to play exhibition baseball? If you said it was in the winter of 1888-89 you would be correct. That winter a team of baseball’s first All-Stars went around the world promoting the game of baseball and Albert Spalding’s sporting equipment.

Did you know where the All-Stars played? The teams played very competitive games while touring Ceylon (Sri Lanka), New Zealand and Australia as well as Italy, France and England.

Did you know why the 1904 World Series was never played? The 1904 World Series was canceled due to: stubbornness. Yep. John T. Brush, President of the National League champion New York Giants, simply refused to play the returning American League champion Boston Americans, otherwise known as the Red Sox.

Did you know there were triple headers? Although there were common place in the late 1800’s, the practice was a rare one. In the modern era, the Reds and Pirates played in the first (and last) triple header in 1920. The Reds took two of the three games. They are now prohibited due to baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.

Did you know who the first DH was? That would be Ron Blomberg, on April 6, 1973.

Did you know who the first National Leaguers to DH? The first ones to get an at-bat (within minutes of one another) were ‘The Rickey’ Henderson (SD) and Glenallen Hill (SF).

Did you know which National Leaguer hit the first home run? That would be ‘The Rickey’.

Did you know who was the first pitcher to pitch a no-hitter in the modern era? Chick Fraser of the Philadelphia Phillies threw the first no-hitter in the modern era against the Chicago Cubs.

Did you know the score? 10-0.

Did you know how many were in attendance? 1,200 were in attendance.

Did you know, which city has the most dead ballplayers buried? St. Louis has the most dead ballplayers in a single cemetery. An astounding 180 Baseball Players are laid to rest at Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.

Did you know how many of those guys were Hall of Famers? None were in the Hall of Fame.

Did you know where the most ballplayers are buried on the West Coast? The record for number of baseball players buried in on the west coast belongs to Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma California. No fewer than 55 former major leaguers are laid to rest.

Did you know two players who are Hall of Famers buried there? Joe DiMaggio leads the way, along with teammate Frank Crosetti.

OK, now did you know who the first President of the United States was to attend a major league baseball game? That would be President Benjamin Harrison.

Let’s face it, the last part of the season is like that. But thanks to Mr. Kurkjian, you can play this game all year-long.

Play Ball!

Fate of the Seams

79 have done it in baseball history. 50 of those were in the Senior Circuit. While the game has been played for well over a Century, no Ranger ever did it, including the time as the Senators. No Twin has ever done it, including the time as the Senators. Needless to say, no Senator ever did it. Sandy Koufax is the only pitcher in history to do it three times for the Dodgers. Nolan Ryan, was only one of three pitchers to ever do it twice. And of course as a member of the Hall of Fame, he did it once in each league, the only player to accomplish that feat. Dodgers did it six times. The Yankees did it five times. The Brewers and Athletics are the only teams to have done it four times.

This past Thursday, Milwaukee Brewer, Mike Fiers did it…he struck out all three Dodger batters he faced, Enrique Hernandez, Carlos Frias and Joc Pederson, perhaps the hottest hitter in the league, in the top of the 4th inning. Nine pitches. Three strike outs. 9 pitches, 9 strikes and 3 outs. It is called the ‘Immaculate Inning’.

This obscure stat began on June 4, 1889 when John Clarkson of the Beaneaters struck out Jim Fogarty who led the league in stolen bases (99), Big Sam Thompson, the right fielder who led the league in home runs that season with 20, and the big first baseman, Sid Farrar, of the Philadelphia Quakers in the top of the 3rd in Boston.

The famous names that have done it are impressive. Rube Waddell of the Athletics did it in 1902, Lefty Grove was the other pitcher who did it twice in 1928 for the Athletics. Billy Hoeft of the Tigers did it in 1953. Jim Bunning of the Tigers did it in 1959. Al Downing of the Yankees did it in 1967. Ron Guidry of the Yankees did it in 1972. Roger Clemens of the Blue Jays did it in 1997, Pedro Martinez of the Red Sox did it in 2002. Felix Hernandez of the Mariners did it in 2008. Dazzy Vance of the Dodgers did it in 1924; Robin Roberts of the Phillies did it in 1956; Sandy Koufax did it three times for the Dodgers in 1962, 1963. Tony Cloninger did it for the Milwaukee Braves in 1963. Bob Gibson did it in 1968. Milt Pappas did it for the Cubs in 1971. Bruce Sutter of the Cubs did it in 1977. David Cone accomplished the task in 1991. Orel Hershiser did it as a Giant in 1998. Randy Johnson did it twice, once in 1998 as an Astro and the other in 2001 as a Diamondback. Ben Sheets accomplished the task for the Brewers in 2004.

So where does Fiers accomplishment rank, a portend of the future as a great pitcher or along with the likes of Pat Ragan, Joe Oeschger, Bob Bruce, Pedro Borbon, Lynn McGlothen, Joey McLaughlin, Jeff Robinson, Rob Dibble, Sloppy Thurston, Danny Jackson, Jeff Montgomery, Stan Belinda, Doug Jones and the like.

Only 79 did it. As beautiful as it was, it is a ‘Fate of the Seams’.

Play Ball!

Calling Dr. McDreamy

Since the greatest warrior of Homer’s Iliad, slayed the Trojan hero Hector outside the gates of Troyhe, how he was killed near the end of the Trojan War by Paris, still sends shivers through the heart of any athlete. We know Achilles was shot by him in the heel with an arrow. But now, one of the warriors of baseball faces a long rehab as he fights through the stunning pain of the imaginary arrow into his Achilles’ heel. Mathew Melton wrote, ‘From radios to broadband, streetcars to subways, and megaphones to smartphones, there was baseball. With that sublime inspiration, there also comes a callous reality to the game. How else can you describe a sport where the very best hitters fail seven out of every ten times they enter the batter’s box? Or where the very best teams leave the park losers at least sixty times during the season? However, the game (and life) are not always kind to its members.’

Around the major leagues, they are dropping like flies. And the season has just begun. Now that Dr McDreamy is no longer working on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, perhaps he can help out in The Show as this has turned into a Season of DL.

In just one week, from March 20-26, 2015 this is the designated list:
Chicago White Sox placed RHP Matt Albers on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 20, 2015. broken little finger on right hand
Chicago White Sox activated RHP Jake Petricka from the 15-day disabled list.
Chicago White Sox placed RHP Javy Guerra on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 13, 2015. Right shoulder inflammation.
St. Louis Cardinals placed RHP Adam Wainwright on the 15-day disabled list. Left achilles and left ankle injury.
Toronto Blue Jays activated RF Michael Saunders from the 15-day disabled list.
Toronto Blue Jays placed C Dioner Navarro on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 22, 2015. Strained left hamstring.
Oakland Athletics placed 2B Ben Zobrist on the 15-day disabled list. Medial meniscus tear in his left knew.
San Diego Padres activated RHP Ian Kennedy from the 15-day disabled list.
Boston Red Sox placed RF Shane Victorino on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 23, 2015. Right hamstring strain
Tampa Bay Rays activated 1B James Loney from the 15-day disabled list.
Tampa Bay Ray activated LHP Drew Smyly from the 15-day disabled list.
Tampa Bay Ray placed LHP C.J. Riefenhauser on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 19, 2015. Left shoulder inflammation.
Tampa Bay Ray placed 2B Ryan Brett on the 15-day disabled list. Left shoulder subluxation.
Tampa Bay Ray transferred LHP Jeff Beliveau from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list. Left shoulder soreness.
Miami Marlines placed LF Christian Yelich on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 20, 2015. Lower back strain.
Baltimore Orioles placed 2B Ryan Flaherty on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 23, 2015. Right groin strain.
San Diego Padres placed RHP Shawn Kelley on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 23, 2015. Left calf strain.
Seattle Mariners placed RHP Hisashi Iwakuma on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 21, 2014. Right Lat Strain.
Houston Astros activated RHP Josh Fields from the 15-day disabled list.
Los Angeles Angels transferred RHP Josh Fields from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list. Left core muscle injury.
Philadelphia Phillies placed RHP Sean O’Sullivan on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 18, 2015. Tendinitis in his left knee.
Washington Nationals placed LHP Felipe Rivero on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 18, 2015. GI bleed.
Colorado Rockies placed RHP LaTroy Hawkins on the 15-day disabled list. Right Bicep Tendinits.
Colorado Rockies activated LHP Jorge De La Rosa from the 15-day disabled list.
New York Mets placed C Travis d’Arnaud on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 20, 2015. Fracture of his right little finger.
New York Mets placed LHP Jerry Blevins on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 20, 2015. Distal radius fracture of his left arm.
New York Mets transferred RHP Zack Wheeler from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list. Recovering from March 2015 Tommy John surgery.
Milwaukee Brewers placed C Jonathan Lucroy on the 15-day disabled list. Broken left big toe.
Milwaukee Brewers placed 2B Scooter Gennett on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 20, 2015. Left hand laceration.
Chicago Cubs transferred 3B Mike Olt from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list. Hairline fracture in his right wrist.
Arizona Diamondbacks placed 3B Jake Lamb on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 19, 2015. Left foot stress reaction.
Arizona Diamondbacks transferred C Gerald Laird from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list.

Thirty-two DL actions in seven days. And did you notice how many were pitchers? Eighteen were hurlers. Of these, probably the most devastating was the loss of ace right hander, Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals. His injury was really quirky. (See above) Wainwright suffered his injury in the fifth inning of last Saturday night’s game against the Brewers as he was running out a pop-up. Wainwright, who has pitched four scoreless innings, was running to first when he came up lame after hurting his left ankle. The 33-year-old (34 in August) missed the entire 2011 season thanks to Tommy John surgery. Through four starts this season, the three-time All-Star has posted a 1.44 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9. For his career, Wainwright has pitched to a 2.98 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9.

What does all of this mean? If you read articles, blogs and listen to the pendants, here are some of the topics they have made for discussion on the subject:

Goofy scheduling.
Lack of team training year round. Individual training rather than team training.
Short term attitude
Over paid.

But what is probably more logical is what Ben Charington, GM of the Boston Red Sox said two and one-half years ago on the subject. “I think players put their bodies in positions that they never did before in the name of performance. Pitchers manipulate the ball like never before: cutter, sinker, split, multiple types of fastballs. This all requires different finger pressure, different hand position at release. When this happens, it could very well change the torque on the elbow and shoulder. Pitchers have had to do this because hitters are so much better. They’d get killed if they weren’t manipulating the baseball. But it could come with a downside — more stress on the joints.”

No matter the reason why, injuries cost team owners tens of millions of dollars and change the pennant race landscape. For some, it ends their season before it can bloom.

As Melton wrote, ‘For a select few in the game’s history, their greatness was never fully realized.’ Players like Eric Davis, Rick Ankiel, Juan Encarnacion, J.R. Richard, Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Nomar Garciaparra, Bo Jackson and Mark Fidrych had career ending injuries’. Others, who had fantastic careers, struggled through injury to finish their baseball life, players like ‘Junior’, ‘Sandy’ and ‘Mickey’. But they are the exceptions.

What will this year’s host of injuries tell us about the future?

All we can do is…

Play Ball!

2 & 9

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One of the joys of baseball is the many parks that present the game. Chase Field in Phoenix is a terrific venue for baseball. Yankee Stadium is more of a cathedral. Wrigley is a trip back in time (now, more than ever with few bathrooms). Dodger Stadium is a great place to see a game. The Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is great if you are in a suite (it is extremely hot and uncomfortable for most of the games). Miller Park is one of the great restaurants in the nation as it is clear, eating is more important than the team on the field. But one of the most delightful baseball palaces is AT&T Park in San Francisco.

The view is frankly unbelievable. And the fans are absolutely into the game. They may be some of the best fans in the game today. Why is this possible? If you want to be outdoors (and what Californian doesn’t?), this is the place. If you want a view with your game, this is the place. If you want a winning tradition, this is the team. If you want post season play, this is the team that can provide it. And the food? This IS San Francisco.

So that was the way today’s article was going to go. It was more of a food oration rather than a venue description. But for the Pigsville crowd, wondering why the Cream City Nine is continuing their losing ways, gathering around the bar of Dave and Melanie’s at Sobelman’s Pub n Grill, the question is answered out loud: when are they going to fire the manager, Ron Roenicke? In what was one of Milwaukee’s original Schlitz taverns, another chimed in, ‘What about firing Doug Melvin? He’s the one who didn’t do anything in the off-season and told us that this is a better team than last year.’. The natives are getting restless in the land of bratwurst and beer.

The facts are that they now have the worst record in all of baseball. No team has won fewer games (2) and they are tied with the Marlins and Giants for the most losses (9) going into Sunday’s action. If not for Cole Hamels (7), Brandon McCarthy (6) or Anibal Sanchez (5), Kyle Lohse, the Cream City Nine’s #1 starting pitcher, would be leading the majors in most home runs given up in just the first two weeks of the season, four (4). As for fielding, the Miller Parkers have committed the third most errors so far this season (11), behind only the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees. Milwaukee is ranked at the bottom of the hitting charts this season, as they rank #30 out of 30 teams. And they did fire their old hitting coach and replaced him this year. And, they are ranked #28 in pitching with a whopping 4.69 ERA. Needless to say, they lead the world in Opponents Batting Average, giving up a .290 average. Hit against Milwaukee and you have a shot at All-Star numbers.

The Brewers did make one move this off-season: they traded their #1 pitcher for whom they received…nothing of consequence. Let’s see…if you don’t pitch, you don’t hit and you don’t field…you become today’s new old Chicago Cubs.

So, how is this team better than last year’s team that folded like a paper cloth last season?

Come on, Ron, tell us. Come on, Doug. Tell us.

So in-between frustrating talk over a meal consisting of the best burger in Milwaukee, we are still #watchingattanasio.

Play Ball!

Oh Say Can You See….

Only in Arizona.

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http://www.azfamily.com/story/28794194/dbacks-generate-buzz-for-making-dodger-fan-change-his-clothing#.VS2VfWCiwTY

Noting once again this is not the United States of America.