Category Archives: Random Baseball Thoughts

Former Marlins’ Ace Josh Beckett Fires First No-Hitter Of 2014

Former Marlins’ Ace Josh Beckett Fires First No-Hitter Of 2014

From USAToday.com

Los Angeles Dodgers starter Josh Beckett was the pitcher no one wanted.

He was the dead money, $35 million worth, thrown into the mega Boston Red Sox-Dodgers’ trade two years ago.

The 34-year-old Beckett even wondered privately last summer whether he might have thrown his last pitch in the big leagues. And until two weeks ago, he had gone two years without winning a game.

Then, along came the glorious Sunday afternoon, when Beckett stood tall on the mound, mobbed by his teammates, celebrating the greatest regular-season game he ever pitched — the first no-hitter of the Major League Baseball season, 6-0, over the Philadelphia Phillies.

It was the 24th no-hitter in Dodgers’ history and their first since Hideo Nomo in 1996. It was the first no-hitter against the Phillies at home since 1969. And in 321 career starts, it was the first no-hitter in Beckett’s career.

Do you believe in sweet redemption?

“I didn’t think I had no-hit stuff,” said Beckett, once the posterboy for the Red Sox woes in 2012, and a culprit of the infamous chicken-and-beer escapades by pitchers during games. “I really just kept them guessing.”

Oh, he fooled everyone all right. Really, he’s been doing it all season long.

The Dodgers certainly weren’t counting on him this year. He was simply a candidate to make the team as a fifth starter. It’s why they signed Paul Maholm in spring training. Who could blame the Dodgers? He had a rib removed in thoracic outlet syndrome surgery last July to repair condition that was affecting his right shoulder.

He wondered if his career was over.

Let’s face it, if he wasn’t owed $17 million this year, the Dodgers wouldn’t have bothered bringing him back.

He worked out religiously all winter, telling himself if this was it, he was going to go out his way.

“I’m going to throw as hard as I can and see what happens,” Beckett said this spring. “I’ll throw the ball until I blow out, and I’m hoping that’s not for a few more years.”

Beckett, showing no fear Sunday, threw 128 pitches — the last a 94-mph fastball by Chase Utley for the final out and entrance into baseball history.

“It was awesome,” Beckett, who struck out six and walked three, told reporters afterward. “I took a moment in the ninth while I was warming up. It was what it was, and if I threw one, great. If not, I have healthy kids and a healthy wife — and that’s the main goal.”

A year ago, he was the unhealthy one — the numbness in his right hand and arm refused to go away. He was 0-5 with a 5.19 ERA when he was shut down for the season.

“It’s crazy how simple things,” Beckett said, “become difficult to do.”

Beckett showed up at spring training asking only that he be given the opportunity to prove to the Dodgers that he could help them.

“I’m here to try and win a job and let upper management take care of all the other stuff,” Beckett said that February morning. “I want to be with the Dodgers. I want to be a Dodger. I felt like I was treated really good last year through everything and I’d kind of like to help repay that.”

Well, guess who’s been a mainstay in the Dodgers’ starting rotation, showing that same fiery competitiveness that earned him the World Series MVP award in 2003 when the Marlins knocked off the Yankees?

Beckett doesn’t rely on his fastball any longer, but rather his curveball, throwing it almost any time in any situation. He has reestablished himself as one of the most consistent starters in the National League.

Now, nearly two years after the mega trade that included $275 million in contracts, with first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and left fielder Carl Crawford going from Boston to Los Angeles, and first baseman James Loney and prospects going to Boston, Beckett has emerged as the biggest surprise in the deal.

Beckett, who opened the year on the DL with a thumb injury, is now 3-1 with a 2.43 ERA. He has yielded two or fewer runs in six of his last eight starts, and, yes, he’s getting better.

“Josh has been throwing the ball good all year,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “For him to be able to do that today is nice, for everything he’s been through with us. The surgery last year, missing the whole season. Changing himself as a pitcher. Using the breaking ball more and everything else.

“It was fun to watch.”‘

If the Dodgers have a sense of humor, they’ll even have chicken and beer on the flight home to Los Angeles. And celebrate the man who is a living testament to what can happen when you refuse to give up.

josh-beckett

Albert Pujols: Welcome To “Club 500″

Albert Pujols:  Welcome To “Club 500″

From USAToday.com

WASHINGTON – Albert Pujols’ 500th home run is a milestone, but it’s also a significant marker for the Los Angeles Angels and the investment they made in one of baseball’s premier hitters.

Pujols became the 26th player and third-youngest to hit No. 500 when he connected for his second of Tuesday’s game against the Washington Nationals.

Pujols’ 500th, off Washington’s Taylor Jordan, went into the seats in left-center field at Nationals Park with Mike Trout on first base, giving Pujols five RBI for the night and the Angels a 6-2 lead. They wound up winning 7-2.

Pujols’ homers were his seventh and eighth this season to give him the major league lead a season after he hit a career-low 17. His five RBI give him 18 in his past 13 games.

That’s as promising a return as Pujols has given the Angels since 2012, the first year of the 10-year, $240 million contract he signed. He’s making $23 million this season, a number that grows by a million each year through 2021.

Pujols hit 30 homers and drove in 105 runs in 2012 but was limited by injuries – most notably plantar fasciitis – to 99 games last season. In his 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, he led the National League twice in homers and topped 40 six times, including a career-high 49 in 2006.

Only Alex Rodriguez and Jimmie Foxx got to 500 sooner than Pujols, who is 34 years and 96 days old. Rodriguez was 32 years, 8 days when he got to 500 in 2007. Foxx was 32 years, 338 days when he got there in 1940.

Pujols hit No. 499 to stake the Angels to a 3-0 lead three batters into the game against Jordan, a line drive just inside the left-field foul pole. He’s the first player to hit Nos. 499 and 500 in the same game.

Pujols is the first player in five seasons to reach 500. When Gary Sheffield, the most recent new member of the club got his on April 17, 2009, he capped a stretch in which eight players got to 500 in a span of six seasons.

He becomes the 12th player with 500 career homers, 500 doubles and 1,500 RBI, joining Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Eddie Murray, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson,Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Manny Ramirez and Rodriguez.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Washington Nationals

Rangers’ Pitcher Yu Darvish Fastest Ever To 500 K’s

Rangers’ Pitcher Yu Darvish Fastest Ever To 500 K’s

From MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG – Yu Darvish set a Major League record by striking out the first two batters he faced in Sunday’s start against the Rays.

The two strikeouts gave Darvish 500 for his career in 401 2/3 innings. The Rangers’ right-hander becomes the fastest pitcher as a starter to ever reach 500 strikeouts as far as number of innings it took to get there. Kerry Wood held the old record by doing it in 404 2/3 innings. Mark Prior did it in 421 2/3 innings and Stephen Strasburg did so in 426 1/3 innings.

Darvish was activated off the disabled list before the game. He had been sidelined with stiffness in his neck that forced him to miss his Opening Day start against the Phillies.

Yu Darvish

Derek Jeter Moves Into Eighth Place On The All-time Hits List Passing Paul Molitor

Derek Jeter Moves Into Eighth Place On The All-time Hits List Passing Paul Molitor

From CBSSports.com

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter moved into sole possession of eighth place on the all-time hits list on Sunday. He singled in the third inning to tie Paul Molitor, then he singled again in the fourth to jump over him.

Here is the all-time hit list at the moment:

  1. Pete Rose – 4,256 hits
  2. Ty Cobb – 4,189
  3. Hank Aaron – 3,771
  4. Stan Musial – 3,630
  5. Tris Speaker – 3,514
  6. Honus Wagner – 3,420
  7. Carl Yastrzemski – 3,419
  8. Derek Jeter – 3,320
  9. Paul Molitor – 3,319
  10. Eddie Collins – 3,315

With a great season, Jeter could jump Tris Speaker to take over fifth place all-time. Jeter is retiring after the season and looks likely to call it a career with at least the sixth most hits in baseball history. That is something else.

Coming into Sunday’s game, Jeter was 2-for-11 with four walks on the season. Had he not missed almost all of 2013 with leg and ankle problems, he’d have a chance to finish his career as high as third place on the all-time hits list.

Cap Anson, who played during the 1800s, retired with 3,435 career hits, but pre-1900 hit totals are not recognized due to the unreliability of the information.

Jeter 3319

Miguel Cabrera Becomes Youngest Player To Reach 2,000 Career Hits

Miguel Cabrera Becomes Youngest Player To Reach 2,000 Career Hits

From USAToday.com

The Detroit Tigers remain undefeated in games, but not replay challenges.

They beat the Baltimore Orioles 10-4 at Comerica Park.

Miguel Cabrera went 4-for-5 with an RBI single in the sixth inning and a two-run home run in the eighth. The home run was Cabrera’s 2,000th career hit.

He became the ninth player to reach 2,000 hits before his 31st birthday and the seventh-youngest to reach that mark.

Cabrera

The 2014 Major League Baseball Season Is Here. Let’s Play Ball!!!

The 2014 Major League Baseball Season Is Here.  Let’s Play Ball!!!

Finally we get to hear those two words we’ve been wanting to hear since November - ‘PLAY BALL’!!!

I am very excited that the 2014 baseball season is here. The Marlins are hosting the Colorado Rockies tonight in a rare night game and I am going to make every effort possible to it from start to finish.  Hopefully my two boys will want to watch a bit of it as well.  And with Jose Fernandez on the mound, it is even more exciting as the Marlins have a true ‘Ace’ on the mound!

As a kid, I always wanted to go to an Opening Day game, but there was no team in Florida during my youth. And as an adult, I guess that work and other priorities have gotten in my way as I have still not been able to conquer that dream.

I promise that one day I will!!!

Until then, ‘PLAY BALL’!!!!

A New Mission For The 2014 Baseball Season: Learning How To Score A Game!!!

A New Mission For The 2014 Baseball Season: Learning How To Score A Game!!!

Ok, this is something that I have wanted to do for a very long time.  And I believe that I am ready to take the first steps to towards making this a reality.

My plan is to proceed with this by taking ‘Baby Step’ as I don’t want any kind of confusion to derail my desires.

Ultimately, by the end of the 2014 baseball season, I would like to say that I am ‘Comfortable’ scoring a game by hand.

This is just another way for me to connect to the game.  For me to take a traditional part of the game and learn and understand it better.  And I think it can be fun too.

My biggest issue is that I rarely get to see the start of a game.  Between kid’s homework, kid’s extra-curricular activities, and bedtimes, sometimes I miss the first 2-3 innings.  But, I think that works for what I need.  Scoring a complete game while still ‘training’ on this may be a very daunting task.  But, maybe 1-2 innings at a time would be better and more manageable?

Either way, I am excited to start the process.

I’ve read a bunch on how to get this done, and the opinions vary tremendously.  There is also no true ‘standard’ rules to follow as many have adopted their own styles along the way.

But, I did find a few websites that offered good info and details so I will keep them with me as I get going.

Scoring process

And I printed a nice sized stack of scorecards so I don’t have to worry about messing up…

Scorecards

I’ve got my pencils.

Pencils

And I even invested in a Pink Jumbo Eraser!!!

pink jumbo eraser

And now it is go time!!

If by the end of the season I can comfortably score a game I will be happy.  And if not, I will extend my learning into as many seasons as it takes.  Ultimately, I want this to be fun, and I want to be able to read my scorecard and be able to see and understand what took place during the action.

Wish me luck.  And if you have any tips as to how I can get this done effectively and while enjoying the process, please share!!

Thanks for reading.

Among The ‘Normal’ Guys I Will Be Watching During The 2014 Season, Here Are A Few More I Will Be Paying Attention To As Well…

Among The ‘Normal’ Guys I Will Be Watching During The 2014 Season, Here Are A Few More I Will Be Paying Attention To As Well…

We are right around 36 hours away from the official start to the 2014 baseball season.  You better believe that I will be starting my day by listening to some games on my IPhone and then ending my night watching my Marlins host the Colorado Rockies.

It is going to be a great season.

In addition to the standard crop of guys that I will be watching as the season progresses, here are a few more guys that I am going to be paying attention to.  Each of them offers a great level of skill and enthusiasm to the game, and I am eager to see how their seasons unfold.

Jose Reyes

reyes

Mark Teixeira

teixeira

Joe Nathan

nathan

Tim Lincecum

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum pitches against the New York Mets during the first inning of their MLB National League baseball game at CitiField in New York

Gio Gonzalez

gonzalez

Billy Hamilton

hamilton

David Price

price

And of course, Derek Jeter

jeter

Have I paid attention to these guys prior to this season?  Of course I have.  But, I believe that each of these guys will have some level of impact on the game this year – both minor and major.  It may be huge headlines, and it may be record-breaking performances, but I think that you will be hearing the names of these players a lot in 2014 – and I am ready!

I cannot wait to watch it all unfold!!

Is there anyone you think is ready to make a huge impact this season?  Are you paying special attention to someone new this year?

Let’s go!

Los Angeles Angels & Mike Trout Agree On 6-Year, $144 Million Dollar Extension

Los Angeles Angels & Mike Trout Agree On 6-Year, $144 Million Dollar Extension

From Yahoo Sports

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels agreed Friday night to a $144.5 million, six-year contract, keeping baseball’s brightest young star under club control through 2020.

The Angels said the 22-year-old outfielder and his family will be at a news conference Saturday in Anaheim to formally announce the contract along with owner Arte Moreno, manager Mike Scioscia and general manager Jerry Dipoto.

Few players in major league history have approached Trout’s accomplishments in his first two full major league seasons. The speedy center fielder is both a spectacular five-tool player and the darling of baseball’s sabermetrics crowd, putting up old-fashioned highlights and statistical superlatives on a weekly basis.

”I think everybody is obviously thrilled that it got done,” Scioscia said at Dodger Stadium after the Angels’ exhibition game, which Trout missed with a stomach virus. ”He’s a special player and a special person.”

The Millville, N.J., product was a unanimous choice for AL Rookie of the Year in 2012, and he finished second in AL MVP voting to Miguel Cabrera the past two years.

Trout’s deal came on the same day Cabrera finalized a $292 million, 10-year deal with the Detroit Tigers, the richest contract in American sports.

The free-spending Angels were determined to reward Trout while locking up their prized possession beyond his first few years of eligibility for arbitration and free agency. Los Angeles has been quietly negotiating with Trout’s representatives throughout spring training, and the club closed the deal three days before opening day at Angel Stadium.

Trout agreed on Feb. 26 to a $1 million, one-year contract for 2014, much more than the Angels were required to offer him. His new deal runs from 2015-20.

The outfielder would have been eligible for arbitration for the first time after this season, and for free agency following the 2017 World Series. Now, he can’t become a free agent until at least age 29.

It’s the latest big-money deal for the Angels, who are entering the third season of a $240 million, 10-year contract with first baseman Albert Pujols, the second season of a $125 million, five-year agreement with outfielder Josh Hamilton and the third season of an $85 million, five-year contract with pitcher Jered Weaver.

But while the Angels’ deals for Pujols and Hamilton have been criticized for their lavish nature and the thirty-something sluggers’ ensuing lack of production, Los Angeles is locking up Trout early in an uncommonly promising career.

Trout’s contract isn’t worth as much as Cabrera’s lavish deal in Detroit, but it still would allow Trout to hit free agency at an age when he could still be in the prime of his career.

And when his new deal ends, Trout will still be younger than the 30-year-old Cabrera is now.

Trout’s average salary of $24,083,333 under the new deal is ninth in the majors, trailing only those of Clayton Kershaw, Cabrera, Alex Rodriguez, Justin Verlander, Ryan Howard, Hamilton, Felix Hernandez and Zack Greinke.

Trout is batting .314 with 62 homers and 196 RBIs in just 336 career games, including 40 games in 2011. The speedy center fielder also has stolen 86 bases while playing stellar defense and making two All-Star teams, starting for the AL last summer.

He is one of four players in baseball history to bat .320 with 50 homers and 200 runs in his first two full seasons, joining Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Pujols.

Trout has accomplished just about everything except team success during his short major league career. The Angels have missed the playoffs in four consecutive seasons, and they finished 78-84 last year, their worst record in a decade.

The deal provides huge security for Trout. He received a bonus of $1,215,000 when he signed after the Angels selected him with the 25th overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft. He made $482,500 two years ago and earned a $10,000 bonus for winning the rookie award, then was unilaterally renewed by the Angels last year at $510,000 – $20,000 above the big league minimum at the time.

That deal sparked criticism from many Angels fans who thought Trout deserved more compensation for his outstanding play. They also worried the relatively meager deal – and the Angels’ decision to move Trout from his preferred center field to left last season – might sour the budding superstar on the team.

Trout is back in center field this season, and Moreno made sure Trout couldn’t doubt the Angels’ financial commitment to him.

MLB Increases For Positive Drug Test Results & I LOVE IT!!!

MLB Increases For Positive Drug Test Results & I LOVE IT!!!

From MLB.com

Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association jointly announced today significant improvements to virtually every component of their Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. In making the most extensive modifications to the Program since 2006, MLB and the MLBPA continue to take steps to ensure that Baseball has the most comprehensive drug program of any professional sports organization in the world.

Some of the significant elements of the revised Program include the following:

  • The number of in-season random urine collections will more than double beginning in the 2014 season (from 1,400 to 3,200), which are in addition to the mandatory urine collections that every player is subjected to both during Spring Training and the Championship Season. This represents the largest increase in testing frequency in the Program’s history.
  •  Blood collections for hGH detection — which remains the most significant hGH blood testing program of its kind in American professional sports — will increase to 400 random collections per year, in addition to the 1,200 mandatory collections conducted during Spring Training.
  •  A first-time performance-enhancing substance violation of the Joint Drug Program will now result in an unpaid 80-game suspension, increased from 50 games. A player’s second violation will result in an unpaid 162-game suspension (and a loss of 183 days of pay), increased from 100 games. A third violation will result in a permanent suspension from Baseball.
  •  A Player who is suspended for a violation involving a performance-enhancing substance will be ineligible to participate in the Postseason, and will not be eligible for an automatic share of the Player’s Pool provided to players on Clubs who participate in the Postseason. (Such Players are already ineligible to participate in the All-Star Game.)
  •  Every Player whose suspension for a performance-enhancing substance is upheld will be subject to six additional unannounced urine collections, and three additional unannounced blood collections, during every subsequent year of his entire career.
  • Carbon Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS) will be randomly performed on at least one specimen from every player in addition to any IRMS test that the laboratory conducts as a result of the parties’ longitudinal profiling program (which was implemented prior to the 2013 season) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) guidelines for conducting IRMS.
  •  The parties established a program in which Players will have year-round access to supplements that will not cause a positive test result and which will improve home and visiting weight rooms.
  •  The parties provided the Arbitration Panel with the ability to reduce a Player’s discipline (subject to certain limitations) for the use of certain types of performance-enhancing substances if the Player proves at a hearing that the use was not intended to enhance performance;
  •  The parties added DHEA to the list of banned substances and enhanced the confidentiality provisions of the Program.

Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said: “Major League Baseball is proud to announce some of the most significant improvements that we have made to our Program in recent years. Although we had the strongest Program in professional sports before these changes, I am committed to constantly finding ways to improve the Program in order to eradicate performance-enhancing drugs from the game and for MLB to serve as a model for other drug programs. I want to express my appreciation to the Players for being proactive and showing remarkable leadership in producing the new agreement. I commend them for both their foresight and their creativity throughout this process, and for strongly sharing our desire to improve what is already the toughest drug program in sports.”

MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark said: “Experience proves that increased penalties alone are not sufficient; that’s why the Players pushed for a dramatic increase in the frequency and sophistication of our tests, as well as comprehensive changes in a number of other areas of the program that will serve as a deterrent. Make no mistake, this agreement underscores the undisputed reality that the Players put forward many of the most significant changes reached in these negotiations because they want a fair and clean game.”