Repressed bad memories with dashes of hope: a review of the new MiLB scoreboard app

Over the past two years, I’ve started to get into following baseball daily, and cut the cord on relying on warmed-over highlight/opinion baseball shows with the MLB.com AtBat app. To me the $14.95 for radio broadcasts, highlights of key plays and live boxscores in a compact format is worth it.

Vin Mazzaro! Remember that time he got all those double plays in Anaheim?

MLB.com’s newest extension is the free Triple-A application, a separate application that keeps live boxscores and a scoreboard of Pacific Coast League and International League games. I’m not going to pretend, I follow very little about minor league baseball. I’ve kind of been forced into following though with my Royals’ callups this season (sorry, my team can’t just trade for an All-Star like Hunter Pence at the trade deadline. Sorry.) It’s not in the front of my app board, and I won’t check it as much as the MLB version, but I want to at least start to track the Omaha Storm Chasers nightly in a format I’ve grown comfortable with. Yes, the app’s strength is how much of a carbon copy it is from the AtBat app.

Lebron has taken his talents to Omaha?

Looking at the roster of a few clubs is where I got kind of sentimental while bitter while hopeful. The Jeff Suppan thing wasn’t temporary, was it? Jarrod Dyson: remember that time he scored on a pop-up to the shortstop? We have a guy on our team named Lebron? Grrr Vin Mazzaro…though he’s 5-2 with a 4.95 ERA in Omaha! Still, the bad memories for some of these players like Mazzaro linger. Zach Miner: remember the Detroit days? Because of the promotion of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Johnny Giavotella’s promotion to Kansas City, I just felt some pity for the familiar names who found themselves in AAA, the players that are being blocked from promotion (Lorenzo Cain,) the MLB rejects (Kila Ka’aihue.) And looking around at other rosters, the names I’ve never heard of. Are they the star prospects of their parent club? Are they just career minor leaguers?

I closed the app with an odd, empty feeling. Yes, baseball is a business, and even players at this lower level are playing a sport they love for some money, but yep, 25-man rosters in major league baseball can indeed be cruel.

But, by all means, if you’re more emotionally capable than I am and follow the minors without getting sentimental, the app is a good download. And again, it’s free!

Oh, and the Rochester Red Wings are apparently 46-74. Lol Minnesota.

The best defense was a good DeMaurice

If I could re-live a brief Internet meme, DeMaurice Smith…#winning.

After four months a protracted labor battle that saw representatives for NFL players and owners globetrotting from Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Coastal Massachusetts and Maryland, after Jerry Richardson asked Peyton Manning if he even knew how to read a profit and loss statementafter court cases, court rulings, booing commissioner Roger Goodell at the draft, after baseball fans who hello, lost an entire postseason and World Series in a labor battle made fun of us, it is perhaps DeMaurice Smith’s action that brought us back.

If the reports are true, Smith took out a card he and only a few people been hiding and
was reported exactly nowhere. Nobody even speculated about this AND PEOPLE SPECULATE ABOUT EVERYTHING. A $200,000-a-player insurance fund if the lockout the owners put on the players canceled all the games in the 2011 season suddenly turned the table. Yes, this is a drop in the bucket for players like Manning, but for many lesser players, this was a game-changer.

Brilliant.

Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant.

Yes, the players are giving up more of the revenue pie (Hey, $200,000 is only so much) but many of the ancillary owner demands were dropped
from a contentious Wednesday to Friday, where it appeared the talks
were progressing at warp speed. Early this week there’s player demands to be hashed out when it comes to the settlement and franchise tags and all
signs are pointing toward a Thursday ratification by at least 24 owners in Atlanta.

Looking back, it did seem too quiet for Smith to not be doing anything but digging his heels into the ground. And if this week goes well, why we’ll all get to enjoy the preseason we all know and dislike.

It wasn’t the fans that turned this fight, it wasn’t the media, it wasn’t the courts, it wasn’t pity by the owners, it was probably a good old fashioned ace in the hole.

The Buster Posey and Scott Cousins Collision: An Outsider’s View

Scott Cousins’ collision with Buster Posey at home plate has become such an expansive topic that you have to break it down into pieces in order to cover the entire thing.  Weeks after the event, people are still debating whether or not it was avoidable, whether or not there should be a rule change to avoid collisions at the plate, and most recently, whether or not Brian Sabean’s comments on the play were out of line or not. 

 

The Collision:

May 25th, 2011, Giants vs Marlins.  A fly ball to right field gets caught by Nate Schierholtz in the top of the 12th inning of a tie ball game in San Francisco.  Schierholtz makes the catch, and Scott Cousins the runner on 3rd, tags up and barrels down the line towards the plate.  What happens next will be forever burned into the minds of San Francisco Giants fans.  The throw beats Cousins to the plate, but Buster Posey was unable to haul it in.  Cousins slams full force into Posey out in front of home plate, sending Posey flying backwards.  The only issue is that instead of falling ass over teacups, Posey’s left foot got caught underneath him, forcing his leg to twist in directions that would make Irina Vashchenko cringe.  Yes I just referenced a Russian Contortionist.  Get on my level, Bill Simmons. 

The end result was that Cousins was safe, and Buster Posey was left in a heap at home plate with what wound up being a fractured bone in his leg and torn ligaments in his ankle.  Immediately a debate sparked over whether or not the play was clean or not, and if Cousins could have avoided hitting Posey. The fact is, there is no debate.  Did Cousins have 2 paths to home plate?  Yes he did.  There was a lane for him to slide around Posey. “(Cousins) had two paths to go and he elected to go after Buster,” Giants’ Manager Bruce Bochy said.  But the fact of the matter is, with Schierholtz having a cannon attached to his right shoulder, the throw beat Cousins to the plate, and had Posey caught the ball cleanly, Cousins would’ve been out trying to slide.  Cousins wasn’t out to get Posey, or to make a collision at the plate, he did what was necessary in his mind to be safe and score the go-ahead run. 

Another argument from people is that Posey wasn’t blocking the plate and therefore Cousins shouldn’t have touched him.  Maybe he wasn’t right on top of it, but he was near it, and close enough to it that Cousins touched home plate after colliding with him.  In an unfortunate situation, people always want to point the blame somewhere, and make someone the bad guy, but here you can’t.  The play was clean, there was no malicious intent.  I know that is a tough pill to swallow for Giants fans, and Buster Posey fans, but it is true. 

The Rule Change Debate:

There is no debate to be had here either.  Had Cousins vaulted into Posey with the throw having been cut off, then yes, there would be an issue.  And had that been the case, I’m nearly positive there would have been consequences for Cousins.  But how would you change the rules in this case?  Bochy thinks that a fine, a suspension and an automatic out should be the result of a runner barreling into the catcher when he has a path to the plate.  So that would leave it up to the umpire to decide whether or not the runner had a path to score.  That isn’t something you want to do.  And it isn’t like this is an ongoing issue.  People have to look all the way back to 1970 when Pete Rose crashed into Ray Fosse at home plate during the All-Star game to find another significant injury coming from a home plate collision.  It would be one thing if Cousins had broken Posey’s jaw, or gave him a concussion, or broken his ribs, or something like that.  The thing is though, is that this collision was a normal play with an unfortunate consequence.  Posey’s leg got caught under him.  It was a freak injury.  No rule change in the world is going to prevent freak injuries. 

Bochy likened the play at home plate to a punt returner fair catching a punt.  He says that the NFL made a rule against hitting guys who had called for a fair catch, so the MLB should make one against hitting catchers on plays at home plate where there’s a path to the plate.  The thing is, the punt returner is giving up his right to make an attempt at a return by fair catching.  So what, does Posey wave his arm in the air and say, don’t hit me?  So then that means he’s giving up his right to try and tag Cousins out.  That would be fine, but I’m guaranteeing, nobody is going to like that rule. 

Bottom line is that you can’t change the rules in this situation.  Had the ball not been close, or had Posey been 20 feet up the first base line, then there would be an issue, and like I said, I’m almost certain in that case there would have been consequences.

 

Brian Sabean’s comments:

They were out of line. For a GM to call out a player like that was dumb.  Everyone knows that.  I’m not sure what he was trying to accomplish.  Ralph and Tom, the hosts of the radio show Sabean was on when he made his remarks, did ask him his thoughts on the situation, but as a General Manager you need to keep a level head in that situation and realize that any comments you make are going to be a reflection on your franchise as a whole.  It made him and the team seem defeated, and that the only way this was going to be resolved was if players got beaned in the next Giants and Marlins meeting.  What the Giants need to do if they want pay back is to just play baseball and show that they aren’t going to be intimidated by losing their best player, and they’ve done just that.  Since the collision they’ve gone 7-5, including taking 3 of 4 from St. Louis, and 2 of 3 from Colorado, and battling back from a 4-0 game 1 deficit to defeat Washington 5-4 in 13 innings on Monday night.

All of that being said, Sabean has apologized to Cousins, and everything seems to be hunky dory; we’ll find out when San Francisco visits Florida for a 3 game set beginning on August 12th

 

Conclusion:

Here’s one of my biggest problems with this entire thing: if this was anyone other than Buster Posey, there would be no debate about rule changes or if it was a clean play.  There wasn’t mass discussion when Twins’ 2nd baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka got his leg broken on a hard slide at 2nd base by Nick Swisher in the first week of the season.  Bill Smith (Minnesota’s GM) didn’t come out and talk bad about Nick Swisher.  The play wasn’t still being talked about 2 weeks after the fact.   In fact, most people have forgotten about it at this point.  Swisher went in hard to break up a double play, and he slid into Nishioka’s leg and broke it.  While it wasn’t as violent as the Cousins hit, it was still devastating to the injured player.  But it was a clean play that had an unfortunate consequence, just like Cousins and Posey’s collision at home plate, nothing more and nothing less.  I understand that it’s a difficult thing to take for Giants fans, but there are 24 other guys on the roster still out there trying to win games.  Players get injured, ask A’s fans.  Regardless of who it is or how it happened, you’ve got to pick up and move on.

Bob Geren is a Bad Manager

1 day removed from losing  tie games in 2 out of 3 games in San Francisco…Bob Geren selects Brian Fuentes to pitch the 8th inning of a tie ball game in Anaheim.  Fuentes took the loss. He is now 1-7 on the year.

That is all.

Oakland A’s Managerial Woes

This was going to be a hellacious rant about all of the awful managerial decisions Bob Geren has made over the course of the season, that all really came to a head with several questionable calls Geren made in Friday night’s game against the Giants.  Instead I’ll just give you  a list of mistakes Geren made in Friday’s game:

-5th inning. Bases loaded, nobody out, pitcher Trevor Cahill at the plate facing Giants’ starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong.  The obvious strategy here is to have Cahill take until he walks or strikes out to bring up the lead off hitter with bases full and one or none out, right?  Wrong.  Instead Cahill hacks at a 3-2 pitch that winds up being a 4-6-3 double play.  “Well he had the take sign early…but down by a run, you need to get that run home. and he did drive home the only run of the game” said Geren.

-7th inning.  2 outs, a runner on 2nd, pitcher Trevor Cahill is due up.  To this point Cahill had allowed just one run and one hit over 6 innings on just 83 pitches.  So you let him hit here and if he doesn’t get a hit you still have him on the hill and the top of the order up to start the 8th inning, right?  Wrong.  Instead Connor Jackson pinch hits for Cahill, and grounds out to 2nd to end the inning.  “”We needed a hitter” said Geren.

-8th inning. No scenario needed. Aubrey Huff (hitting .222) is walked to get to Buster Posey (hitting .278 and in the midst of a 9 game hitting streak).

-10th inning. Brad Ziegler pitched the 9th walked one and struck out 2.  He threw 23 pitches.  Brian Fuentes is brought on to pitch the 10th inning.  You know the rest.  He gives up a single to Emmanuel Burriss, who is sacrificed to 2nd by Andres Torres. Freddy Sanchez gets an intentional pass to bring up Aubrey Huff who singles home the winning run.  Ziegler and his .61  ERA watched from the bench.

This is just one game.

The A’s are primed to go .500 again this season.  Close games like this that come down to managerial decisions are what separate the good teams from the mediocre ones.  Bruce Bochy has guided his team to a 13-3 record in one-run ball games.  Bob Geren’s club?  7-10 in those games.

The A’s will be nothing more than mediocre with Bob Geren at the helm, and mediocrity isn’t going to fly forever.

John Kruk’s an Analyst?

I don’t care what John Kruk says he is, what he’s paid to do, or what his position title is, John Kruk is not an analyst. He’s a likable guy who ESPN brought in to get people to watch baseball tonight, or whatever they do.

Yesterday, WEEI.com posted a bit of an interview he did on “Mut and Merloni”. I don’t listen to WEEI, and therefor didn’t here the context in which this was said, but a part of the posted interview doesn’t make a ton of sense to me.

The topic was Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Kruk went on to say:

[Josh] Beckett and Daisuke [Matsuzaka], their best starts of the year just happened to be with Varitek behind the plate? I don’t think so,” said Kruk. “First of all, the thing with Jarrod Saltalamacchia is this. He’s never established himself as an everyday catcher. All we heard about when he was in Atlanta was, ‘Oh, this guy is going to be the second coming of Johnny Bench – switch-hitter with power to both sides, he can call a game, he can throw.’ He’s never proven it. You wonder why a guy who was supposed to be this great has been with his third organization already at such a young age. There has to be something there where two other organizations felt this guy isn’t an everyday catcher, we can get by with someone else.”

I don’t disagree with everything he said. Anyone who knows me knows I’ve been vocal in my unhappiness with Saltalamacchia behind the plate. I don’t think he’s a good option behind the plate, which is something Kruk says. That’s something everyone says. What I do not agree with is the part where he says “You wonder why a guy who was suppose to be this great has been with his third organization already at such a young age.”

You’ve got to really know the story behind the transactions before you say something like that, which is something I don’t think Kruk does. He was in the deal that brought Mark Teixeira from Texas to Atlanta. That trade sent several big names to Texas, including last years Rookie of the Year Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus and Matt Harrison. All 4 guys Atlanta dealt are on a big league roster right now, and Saltalamacchia might of been the most important person Atlanta sent in order to land Teixeira.

The Boston trade was a little different. It sent Chris McGuiness, Roman Mendez and Michael Thomas (who was the Player to be named later) to Texas in exchange for Jarrod Saltalamacchia. McGuiness was a first base prospect who shined in his first couple season in the Boston organization. Mendez was a hard throwing righty who can hit up to 99 on his fastball, and at one time was a Top 10 prospect in the Red Sox system. Thomas was a fill in player, who probably will amount to just a minor league filler guy.

I followed Mendez and McGuinnes a lot. They are extremely solid guys who Boston didn’t want to give up. I really don’t think the plan was to bring Victor back. They needed a guy who could kind of ease in to the starting roll, and Saltalamacchia fits that bill. It’s not like he’s been traded 4 times because he’s this garbage player, he’s been the guy people want.

I guess Carlos Gonzalez is also a question mark, since he’s been traded multiple times early in his career? Traded by Arizona to Oakland in the Dan Haren deal, then traded by Oakland to Colorado in the Matt Holliday deal. Clearly this guy has some kinks to get out, since no one wants him.

I know Kruk is a likable guy, but he doesn’t know the whole picture.

Mad Mad World of Sports 4-19-2011

NOTE:

I’m a Sharks fan…I’m sick, and was very very upset. Don’t judge me

Why your draft position sucks

Note: This post is intended for humor and lighthearted draft analysis. The NFL desk (me) is bored. The lockout has dragged out too long and the details of court-ordered mediation are not being revealed. I mean, everyone’s got a serious mock draft or draft analysis. This is something different. 

Your team hasn’t had an offseason to fill their needs through free agency to better line up what they need for the draft. You know, greedy owners and antitrust cases and suck. But the last thing in the last collective bargaining agreement was this 2011 draft in New York. Announcing the first round on Thursday will be commissioner Roger Goodell, who players expressed their displeasure at in training camps last year and a group of draft invitees will show up. After that, they can’t have contact with the team that drafted them.

Note: To keep things simple, I’ll use Yahoo’s Shutdown Corner’s mock draft from April 5 as a base. I’m sure your mock draft is better.

  1. Carolina Panthers—Never in the history of sports have I cheered for an organization to fail as hard as the Carolina Panthers with this pick. Owner Jerry Richardson, complete with his donated heart, has personally insulted players like Peyton Manning in collective bargaining negotiations. I hope the Panthers get Cam Newton, but really, they can get anyone they want. I want them to fail.
  2. Denver Broncos—Of course if Cam Newton is still around at #2 the Broncos might wanna pick him up, just to add to their collection of former national champion project quarterbacks.
  3. Buffalo Bills—Let’s just go to a picture for this one. Aaron Maybin, a 2009 Bills first round draft pick and cousin of MLB superstar Cameron Maybin. Do better, Buffalo.
  4. Cincinnati Bengals—Cam Newton and the Cincinnati Bengals were made for each other. Even better, if the Bengals give up picks to trade up to get him! Make this happen. Of course, the Bengals hurt their draft position with their late-season spoiler win over the always choking Chargers vaulting the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs where they lasted about 36 seconds. Nice job, everybody.
  5. Arizona Cardinals—Nooo, the Cardinals don’t need to draft a quarterback…they are currently engaged in the “beg Kurt Warner to come back” campaign. And even if Kurt doesn’t come back, there’s always Matt Leinart, who Football Outsiders said before last season that they “think he’ll be a lot better than people are projecting.” It’s not like he’s with another team or anything.
  6. Cleveland Browns—Well, they don’t need an offensive line, it is pretty good. And they don’t need a running back, Peyton Hillis had a breakout 2010. And they don’t need a quarterback, Jake Delhomme is pretty good, right? Right?
  7. San Francisco 49ers—Boy, a lot of teams that need quarterbacks in this neighborhood. Except the Niners don’t actually admit this fact. Anyway, the Niners will draft more offensive linemen in the first round and everybody will fall in love with that. No, actually, there are defensive needs. Except for feared linebacker. 
  8. Tennessee Titans—Mike Munchak is now the coach of the Titans and Mike Munchak ain’t gonna take no shit. That defensive line better be right. Offensive line, too. Kerry Collins…get out there and quarterback another season!
  9. Dallas Cowboys—Aside: I’m glad Martellus Bennett is channeling the delusional Cowboys fans by suggesting that Jon Kitna and Tony Romo should have an open competition for the quarterbacking job. OK, back to the draft: it would be just my luck for Patrick Peterson to fall to the Cowboys. I spend nights worrying about what happens when the eight teams above stumble their way through another draft and pick projects instead of Patrick Peterson. We all know that Cowboys fan who wouldn’t ever live it down (See Bryant, Dez last year.)
  10. Washington Redskins—I didn’t point out the recent draft failings of the Denver Broncos earlier because they live on not in Denver but here with Mike Shanahan: Jarvis Moss, Ashley Lelie, Willie Middlebrooks. With Shanahan, not Bruce Allen, serving as general manager And Dan Snyder hasn’t been allowed to spend any money on free agents so he’ll be extra prepared to take potential draft picks out to dinner (See Mark Sanchez, 2009) even though, they’re uhh draft picks. They get drafted.
  11. Houston Texans—you need defense. Whether that be help in the backfield or up front, you need defense. I mean come, on, this happened!

     But, you have Wade Phillips now. Because his defenses last year in Dallas never quit.
  12. Minnesota Vikings—Sadly, the Vikings can’t draft a new stadium here.
  13. Detroit Lions—Things are going well in the D. Too well. The defensive front looks to form into a force. What’s that sound you hear? It’s Matt Millen being brought back to screw up one more draft. If Isiah Thomas can go back to the Knicks, Matt Millen can find his way back to Ford Field. Just for one weekend! For old time’s sake. Also: Martellus Bennett has weighed in on this pick: the Lions need to draft a wide receiver to compete with Calvin Johnson. He’s just not good enough.
  14. St. Louis Rams—good thing you already drafted a quarterback. That means Josh McDaniels can’t try to screw up that crucial draft pick this year.
  15. Miami Dolphins—Who will the Dolphins pick to go wide when Ronnie Brown takes a snap in the single-wing offense? Throws down the field? Miami’s never heard of such a thing.
  16. Jacksonville Jaguars—Hopefully the Jaguars will do the right thing and take Tim Tebow this draft. You know how many tickets they’d sell OMG #CopyandPastedFrom2010
  17. New England Patriots—Hello Patriots! Your 2011 draft pick for trading away Richard Seymour to the Raiders. Now, I ask you, what was a better spend, the Raiders sending away this pick for Seymour (and paying him gobs of money, that’s beside the point) or the Chiefs spending a high draft pick on Tyson Jackson? Thought so (cracks knuckles.) Expect the Patriots to satiate a desperate team’s needs to get a player who suddenly slid and pick up extra draft picks. Capitalizing on emotion: it’s the Patriots’ way.
  18. San Diego Chargers—If this draft pick could fix the Chargers’ special team fail of last season, I’m sure they’d sign up. If this draft pick could put the Chargers in the Super Bowl…eh, who am I kidding?
  19. New York Giants—I’d like it if the Giants could increase the number of meh wide receivers by about another three. Eh, who am I kidding, the Giants will draft a lineman and be praised. (OK, I’ll stop with the “eh, who am I kidding”)
  20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—No need to worry about the 2011 draft! You’ve already had one of the best classes ever in 2010, so says general manager Mark Dominik.
  21. Kansas City Chiefs—This team could go in all directions (read: they have a lot of needs.)
  22. Indianapolis Colts—This is where Shutdown Corner has Nate Solder (whose name I think you can’t type without the word “project” appearing nearby) has going to. He’s got great athleticism! A great motor! All he needs is to develop elite mechanical skills. Well Howard Mudd ain’t walking through that door, Indy.
  23. Philadelphia Eagles—The team that should be busting down doors to end the lockout should be the Eagles.  Their 10-6 season and customary early exit from the playoffs puts them at this spot. They can vault up in the draft by trading away Kevin Kolb, but there’s no trading of draft picks allowed during the draft! End the lockout Eagles, end the lockout!
  24. New Orleans Saints—Might wanna upgrade your defense. Idk. Unless you think giving up 41 points to a previously anemic Seattle offense is normal. Or stand pat and your 2009 dream season of turnovers will perhaps repeat itself.
  25. Seattle Seahawks—“Congrats on winning the division at 7-9 and a playoff game. Hope that’s working out for you guys.” Signed, The St. Louis Rams drafting  11 spots ahead of you.
  26. Baltimore Ravens—Shutdown Corner has Brandon Harris from Miami going to the Ravens. Of course they do.
  27. Atlanta Falcons—I don’t know Falcons, do you need a player to upgrade or do you need Matt Ryan to not make unfortunate decisions before halftime of a home playoff game? Will Alex Smith give the Falcons any personnel advice, or can Roddy White carry the load of advising the Niners and the Falcons what to do.
  28. New England Patriots—Another Patriots pick! This is the original one and will be spun for an even better pick, you watch. (While not in the first round, the Patriots draft at #33 too, hey Carolina how’s Armanti Edwards working out for you?)
  29. Chicago Bears—I’m going to give you two options: upgrade your offensive line to better protect Jay Cutler OR cut Todd Collins so we don’t have to see him play twice on national television in one season. Truly painful for the eyes.
  30. New York Jets—Drafting as far down in the draft without making the Super Bowl, that’s a good look, Jets. Have I seen you here before?
  31. Pittsburgh Steelers—This pick will undoubtedly be praised as classic Steeler football! Lunch pail guy! Or Limas Sweed.
  32. Green Bay Packers—Will the draft pick for the champs will join the other 492 players they have on injured reserve?

Mad Mad World of Sports (4-12-11)

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