brewers baseball and things


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beautiful nuts

That’s what this game will do to ya, baseball, make ya feel…nuts, but in the end it’s beautiful, not ping-pong or on-line poker nuts though those probably reap havoc their own way. Take this afternoon, I’m tuned to mlb.com audio, enjoying my Brewers, a 1-0 lead over the lowly last place White Sox through five or six innings, the lone run coming on catcher Erik Kratz’s home run, his second since coming over from the Yankees says Bob Uecker. Brewers then get runners on first and third, no outs, can’t score. And the next inning, a runner on third, no outs, can’t score again. You know what’s coming. You feel it in your unsabermetric gut. The White Sox will score two runs and win the game. Where’s my faith in this first place team! Jonathan Villar who saved the tying run from scoring the previous inning with a great play at second came to bat in the top half of the seventh and launched a solo blast. 2-0 Brewers. Lorenzo Cain then hit a solo homer the next inning and a few batters later Jesus Aguilar hit a 2-run bomb. 5-0 Brewers, top of the ninth. White Sox still to bat, It’s only 4:38 in the afternoon. I’m outside sitting in the sun, some unknown purple flower invading my nostrils, but who cares! There’s many more games to be played tonight and I have the 19.99 subscription. Uecker talks about the White Sox future being bright.

Thought I’d wait before posting this and what d’ya know. The White Sox put runners on second and third in the bottom of the ninth and Uecker said, “The bullpen getting ready.” That means Corey Knebel to possibly replace Taylor Williams, so many names in a bullpen, so many great arms Josh Hader this year for the Crew. Hader has already pitched today, his customary one and two thirds, four strikeouts. Can they finish another one off? Tim Anderson up there. He’s got 11 home runs this year, third most among American League shortstops, part of the White Sox supposed bright future. He pops up to his counterpart at short. One out. The catcher coming up, can’t spell his name. Pops up to first. Two outs. Adam Engle the next batter is called back. The pinch hitter is announced…Daniel Palka, not sure about the spelling of his last name, but I like it, rhymes with polka which reminds me of the Brewers theme song Roll Out the Barrel. Strike three. Game over. Great job by Taylor Williams. Second and third no outs and the Sox can’t score. Sound familiar? Good thing this game didn’t continue or the Sox mighta started going yard.

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and happy birthday Harold!!

The sleeping pill-mood stabilizer-tranquilizer-five mile run around the block-glue sniffing distractions to snooze through the Jake Arietta daze are finally over sweet Jesus brotherly love Philadelphia for signing the former Cy Young award winner for three years at 75 million dollars….75 million?

I remember as a  kid trying to count to a million. I quit after a thousand and assumed it wasn’t possible to do in a single lifetime, but apparently it is…..

“If you count every minute of every hour of every day, you would reach 1,000,000 in 6 days, 22 hours, and 40 minutes, almost 1 week.”

But still 75 million is a lot of money. I don’t know where all of it comes from or how it’s distributed to keep everyone happy, from the big free agents to the grounds crew to the peanut vendors, but it happens, one season after another. Baseball isn’t quite the age of an empire, but it’s older than 100 years and that’s something.

Hail hail the chief, a.k.a. Mr. David Stearns (DS), Milwaukee’s General Manager for not biting the bullet and signing big free agent pitchers to dreaded four-year deals. In pre (DS) days we screwed ourselves by signing Jeff Suppan and Matt Garza for way too long. This year we went under the radar and signed Jhouyls Chacyn to a humble two-year contract for 15 million, still a lot, but he apparently has one of the deadliest sliders in baseball. We also invited former Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo to camp along with Wade Miley to duke it out in an old gun slinging wild west shoot out. May the most effective March hurler win a trip to the 25 man roster. I prefer spring training battles rather than short cut free agent signings.

All the experts had the Brewers in the mix for Arrieta, Alex Cobb, and Lance Lynn (recently signed with the Twins) They said the Brewers needed to muscle up their staff after losing ace Jimmy Nelson last year in a freakish pitcher injury. Aren’t all pitcher injuries freakish? No, he didn’t trip over a sprinkler or stub his thumb painting a gutter, but he did mush his shoulder sliding back into first base. Freaky enough, especially for Milwaukee, an American League city for its first 27 years, a place where DH’s ruled the roost. Larry Hisle comes to mind. There were others. I can’t remember them right now, maybe Von Joshua, Dick Davis, Thad Bosley, Joey Meyer, Billy Joe Robidoux, Jeffrey Leonard. What a job; that toiling away all alone, pacing between the dugout and clubhouse…… I did a quick search of all time greatest DH’s and Paul Molitor popped up. I don’t remember if he DH’d for the Brewers, but what a career, so great that….

“He is one of only four players to have 3,000 hits, a .300 career average and 500 stolen bases. The others are Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and Eddie Collins.”

Some argue “but he was a DH.” Others argue “AND he was a DH,” the difference being that a DH is not awarded the distraction of going to the field and forgetting about the previous inning’s K with the bases loaded. It takes a special mind to be a DH.

Harold Baines…he too served time as a DH, a border line Hall of Famer, a hitter with a front leg kick. I’m biased. He’s may all time favorite player; takes me back to my baseball formative years when it – baseball was everything, the only thing. It’s his birthday today….March 15th. Happy Birthday Harold!

In other news, Edwin Jackson pitched OK for the Nationals on Monday – three innings, three hits, two walks, two k’s, one earned run, It doesn’t look like he’ll crack their starting staff, but he could very well make it as a spot starter/long man. He says it’s not about the money. It’s about still having more in the tank. More in the tank…..more in the tank…..more in the tank…….my new every day mantra.

 


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a one year deal will do

There are no records of crows launching from roof tops when Edwin Jackson came into this world. I imagine his birth certificate to be like any other —year, city, eye color, weight, mother and father’s name. What sticks out is Neu-Ulm, Germany as his place of birth. He was born in 1983 (Before the wall came down) so I assume this was in West Germany, his father most likely a military man.

I scrolled the list of German born players, counted them too (spring training is long). There have been 41 players born in Weimar land, most of whom I’ve never heard, but the names, known or not, have a delicious ring – Skel Roach, Pep Deininger, and Reggie Richter and so why not play a little Chris “Ethel Merman” Berman and make it Reggie Richter “scale.” Then I continued to gaze at the names during my mid-march lunch break and a few were familiar – Glenn “mother” Hubbard, Craig Lefferts, Ron Gardenhire, Mike Blowers, Will Ohman, Jeff Baker and then fifth from the bottom, there he is – born September 9, 1983, Edwin Jackson…followed by bats right, throws right and further down the page, that Johnny Cash  ….I’ve been everywhere…….kicks in….

…..starts with the Dodgers in 2003 and then bumps all over everywhere, from L.A. to Tampa Bay, Detroit, Arizona, Chicago White Sox, St. Louis, Washington D.C., Chicago Cubs, Atlanta, Miami, San Diego, Baltimore, and last year, back to the D.C.. That makes 12 teams or one shy of the all time lux vagabond baseball record set by  Octavio Dotel. He stands alone as the all time leader with 13, but Dotel is retired. Jackson isn’t.  He received an invite to Nationals spring training. He’s only 34 and two pit stops away from dubious distinction or milestone? Hard to believe he pitched a no-hitter for the D-backs in 2010. His numbers look like vital signs, up and down and all over like his meanderings. Maybe he’s best suited as a middle reliever or a one pitch batter? Whatever it is, he’s like Steve McQueen in the movie Papillon….at the end, the last scene, after making it past the waves, sitting on his make shift raft, looking up at the sky, he screams, “Hey you bastards, I’m still here!”

Today is a special day for Edwin. He’s on the hill…starting…still fighting for a roster spot. He’s pitched six innings this spring, struck out six, and allowed two runs.

 

 


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dear sammy the saber toothed metric…

I don’t regret backs of baseball cards being my bible. But I sometimes wish I had studied nuclear physics and/or gotten a better grip on advanced metrics or come to think of it, maybe not; maybe I’m lucky to be so green, so wet behind the ears when it comes to formulas used to evaluate player performance. It allows me to experience all the newness of what must seem so rudimentary to a seasoned sabermetric.

I’ve heard arguments against metrics; that they are the root of all baseball evil; that the real game exists between the chalked lines –  the smell of grass, the dirt in between one’s toes, the chatter of an infield to support his pitcher, the lack of a time clock though this seems in jeopardy too, a topic for another today. But one quick point about the proposed mound visit limitations, pitcher’s clock, and batters not being allowed to step outside the batter’s box.

UGHHHHHHHHH!

All of this speed up the damn game because games were longer last year than ever before. Didn’t commercials have something to do with it?

Back to my post. Don’t we live in the best of both worlds, the back alley baseball eternity coupled with studying a stadium’s dimensions and how they impact a player’s performance? Why can’t the two be a dynamic duo?

I love the walk…..not just a walk, but so many kinds of walks? I know of the intentional walk or sort of since the pitcher is no longer required to actually throw four balls in another effort to speed up the damn game. There is also the unintentional intentional walk when a pitcher pitches around a batter. And on the other extreme, there are 13 pitch at bats when the batter fouls off one after another of the pitcher’s best stuff, presumably wearing him down which may or may not weaken him in the next inning or even against the next batter. And then there are so many shades in between these two extremes…..and with that

I bow to Sammy the saber toothed metric.


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dear public online computers at libraries and what not

My operating system is out of date so i can no longer visit a number of sites, including wordpress and mlb.com. Until further updates, this makes public computers and libraries my only way to stay electronically informed……….electronically informed?…. God, that sounds weird. I still love a good old fashioned TV documentary or maybe they’re not so old fashioned? I watched one last night about Jane Jacobs versus Robert Moses. Now that was a good old ideological UFC battle that might just inspire me to do some further reading.

Anyway, what I wanted to say in the short time I have on this public computer is that Ned Yost is thankfully still alive and managing the Kansas City Royals the last time I checked though maybe he will be under rebuilding scrutiny as the Royals slip back into the second division. I remember Yost as a back up catcher with the Brewers or I remember one night, one home run, a pinch hit 3 run blast against the Red Sox during the last week of the 1982 season. It gave the Brewers a four game lead over the Orioles. Then they lost the next game and The Orioles won to give the Brewers a three game lead with one last series to go that just so happened to be the Brewers in Baltimore and the Orioles won the first three games to tie the Brewers in the standings and on that final Sunday showdown,  Jim Palmer faced Don Sutton and Yount hit two homers and the Brewers routed the Orioles and wild Bill Hagy…..Wild Bill…I haven’t thought about him in a while.

But what gets me even more excited is reading that Ned Yost built up physical strength in high school by pot scrubbing at Kentucky Fried Chicken. He then walked on and made his high school baseball team. This is gathered from wikipedia so take it or leave it, but the Yost file gets even better. Between his playing and managing days, he returned home to Jackson, Mississippi and enjoyed his second career…taxidermy.

Oh by the way, the Brewers set him free as their manager towards the end of the 2008 season, one in which the Brewers won the wild card….kind of a raw deal for Yost, especially since he hadn’t yet been hired by the Royals and appeared in those two World Series and won one of them. But then again with pot scrubbing and taxidermy, he probably had plenty of ways to express hostility and what not.


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two strikes and you’re out?

There ain’t much worse than booger freeze winds, but there is a solution. Stay inside and watch old Brewers games uploaded onto YouTube.  I stumbled on County Stadium’s last home opener back in 2000. The new Miller Park hovers over it like a giant spider. The Park’s opening was delayed because of a tragic crane accident. This game was the seventh of the young season for the Brewers, the first for Davey Lopes as the skipper.

1:14:23 into this game, a funny thing happened. The Brewer’s Jose Hernandez had just begun his at bat. It was the second pitch, a swinging strike, less than fifteen seconds into the plate appearance when he seemed to mistake his swinging strike as the final one of the at bat.  The announcer said,

“The cold weather can freeze your mind up.”

It was cold that day, something like 38 degrees with a minus 16 windshield, but what the announcer failed to point out was that Jose Hernandez struck out 140 times with the Cubs in 1998 and another 145 times in 1999. Of course, the announcer had no way of knowing that Hernandez would struck out another 125 times with the Brewers in that 2000 year or that he would establish the Brewer’s all- time single season record with 188 k’s two years later.

I’m no logician, but him walking away from the plate at 1:14:23 seems to suggest that either A) He was freezing his ass off and wanted to get back in the dugout or B) He was so used to striking out that he just assumed the second strike was the third or C) All of the above. In fairness to Hernandez, he did hit an outside pitch on the line, for an out to end the inning, but still pretty well struck.


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baseball’s seismic shift….

Shohei Otani, a two-way player from Japan, will soon be signed to a contract and once he does, he will remain a two-way player. Otani has spent the last five seasons playing for the Nippon Ham Fighters in the Japanese Professional League. He has a 42-15 record over that span with a 2.52 E.R.A. and 624 strikeouts in 543 innings. He also has a .286 batting average with 48 homers and 166 runs batted in. I don’t think major league baseball has ever seen someone like him before. He is potentially a franchise player, a term used more often in basketball.

More than franchise, he could end the pampering of pitchers and inspire kids to dream of being baseball’s Jekyll and Hyde.

What makes the situation even more exciting is that he can’t be signed for more than a minimum amount of money due to this or that in the new CBA. I think it’s somewhere around 3.25 million. He is 23 years young. This opens the door to every team.

In an unprecedented twist, Otani’s agent sent a questionnaire to all 30 teams, asking them to explain why their team and city is the best fit for Otani. There are seven questions or requests.

1. An evaluation of Shohei’s talent as a pitcher and/or a hitter
2. Player development, medical, training and player performance philosophies and capabilities
3. Major League, Minor League, and Spring Training facilities
4.  Resources for Shohei’s cultural assimilation
5.  A detailed plan for integrating Shohei into the organization
6.  Why the city and franchise are a desirable place to play
7.  Relevant marketplace characteristics

This is unique. This suggests concern for a 23 year old kid about to take a journey into a foreign country. It rearranges the priority. I hope the Brewers get him.

Dear Shohei Otani,
Milwaukee is a small market city, totally out of the spotlight. The success we enjoyed last year pushed our rebuild phase up a few notches. We are young and enjoyed being in the playoff hunt till the last day of the season. We aim to compete in 2018, to battle for the NL Central title. We want that World Series. We have past dealings with Japanese born players, most recently Norichika Aoki who we signed as a free agent in 2012. He played two seasons with the Brewers. The city embraced him.

There are a number of Japanese restaurants in Milwaukee including Kanpai Izakaya. There are also cultural centers and festivals dedicated to Japanese culture.

OR

We could skip the ambassador talk and send Mr. Otani a few sexy baseball haikus that integrate Lake Michigan with Miller Park and being on the Brewers.

I’m dreaming because Otani will probably pick an American League team where he can serve as a DH when not pitching.

Regardless, he is a once in a life time phenom. Sure, he’s from Japan and unproven, but at 3.25 million, there’s not much to lose, not in baseball cents anyway. Rumors are swirling. The courting has no doubt already begun. He will be posted in the next few weeks and then most likely be signed before Christmas.

Too bad Otani and/or his agent don’t make their address public. We could flood them with mail. That might turn the tide.