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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Things that make me laugh

Time for a few things that make me laugh....

I talked about Eddie and the Cruisers in another post and figured I'd tell a small story now.
Eddie and the Cruisers was a film released in the fall of 1983 to a not very enthusiastic response and likely nothing would have separated from tons of other films that failed to find a huge audience,except for one thing-HBO.
In 1984,HBO began showing the film and suddenly interest boomed in both the film and Springsteen soundalikes John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band among teenagers and young adults.
The soundtrack zoomed up the charts and it seemed like everyone I knew was singing On the Dark Side and Wild Summer Nights.
I always had fond memories of the movie as I spent a lot of time in my early driving time listening to that soundtrack and when I saw the movie on DVD about a year ago in WalMart for five bucks,I had to have it and was looking forward taking it to work and watching it.
Sadly,it didn't seem to age well and wasn't as good as I remembered it.
Too bad,sometimes memory is better than reality I suppose.


Cruisers has one other thing that made me laugh through the years.
I used to watch a lot of the Womens Pro Billiards Tour on ESPN and one of the hosts was Mitch Laurence,who's twin brother Matthew played guitarist Sal Amato in the film.
Well,Laurence married one of the tours bigger stars which explained why he was doing the broadcasts for the WPBA and I could never remember if he was "Sal Amato" or his brother was.
That was usually the running joke as I watched the matches.
It turns out it was the brother that was Sal and his current job?
Sideline reporter for the Duke radio network for basketball.....
So,playing a guitarist in a movie 25 years ago qualifies you to broadcast basketball?
And they said Dennis Miller on Monday Night Football was bad (it was)!

One thing that I loved when I was in the early stages of school was racing home to see re-runs of the 1968 Filmation cartoons on WDCA 20 that showcased stars of the DC universe.
Several of the lines from the show have survived here for going on 40 years.
The best parts were always listening to Ted Knight as the voice of various villains.
This was during the time that Knight was a big star with his work on the Mary Tyler Moore show,but the cartoon was before the MTM program started.
That always made it even funnier to me with "Ted Baxter" as the Riddler.
The Riddler voice in this clip kills me to this day!


Another great part about that time was that kids of my age group were really catching the end of local hosting of kids shows.
Captain Chesapeake ruled the roost in Baltimore,but our king was Dick Dyszel or Captain 20 out of Washington.
Dyszel also played Count Gore DeVol on the Saturday late night show Creature Feature as well as Bozo the Clown.
I don't remember much about Dyszel's Bozo days,but it gives me the excuse to use the Bozo Bop Bag picture again,so let's go with it.
Even then,I knew that Dyszel played both roles,but in a wrestling suspended disbelief way,I didn't focus on it.
There is a film of the "Captain" that was just released and you can see the trailer below.
And yes, I indeed did have the Captain 20 Kids Club card shown in the clip.
What great memories of watching the scratchy UHF signal come in on black and white televisions along with our trusty 70's color floor model and having to tune in order to pick up the signal....


Until Next time!

Photo Credit-Unknown

Ted Kennedy


A few thoughts on the death of Senator Ted Kennedy.

Ted Kennedy might have been the most publicized Senator of the television era and between his name along with his successes and failures certainly carved a name for himself through his career.
However,would his death be so publicized if he was Ted Kenney,Senator from Massachusetts?
Or would he even have been a Senator at all,had his name been Ted Kenney?
Kennedy was certainly the most effective Senator since Lyndon Johnson's run in the 1950's and more than proved his worth once in the job once in the position as an legislator,but will be remembered for three things-his siblings, Chappaquiddick and his one failed run at the Presidency before most look at his Senate resume'.
Is this right?
Perhaps,perhaps not,but considering the tremendous failures,maybe Ted Kennedy was closer to the average American than someone of his social standing would have been otherwise.
Perhaps by knowing what it is to hit the deck and have to stagger to his feet,he was able to relate to other problems more than most.
Now Kennedy certainly had the means and connections to get away with things that many others would have been finished for doing,but I would wager that somewhere inside Kennedy understood how people can feel after getting beaten down by life and its ups and downs.
I was neither a Kennedy fan or hater,so I like to think that I come from an unbiased perspective.
Should Kennedy be remembered as Senator,failure or as some believe involved in a death?
Look at the total picture and make your own conclusions.

Which brings me to the media,which will likely try to show the entire picture without showing the entire picture .
Fox will likely talk more about Chappaquiddick than the others,MSNBC will attempt to canonize Kennedy and rarely talk about the incident or the 1980 failure to unseat an unpopular Jimmy Carter in his only run at the Presidency and CNN?
Well,they might cover it,if they can stop talking about Michael Jackson for a few days.
The Kennedy story will be a big one for a few days and likely will be tossed in the dustbin of history,but will Ted Kennedy be remembered as fondly as his brothers are?
Probably not,television likely would have remembered them differently had they been in this era instead of the more controlled world of their time and considering those differences only,Ted would likely have been still remembered as not being up to the level of his siblings.
However,the next few days will go a long way into seeing just how Kennedy will be remembered,pay attention to how the tributes are presented and in what light they present him in.
These next few days could go a long way into what Ted Kennedy is remembered as.

Considering all of that,you know what I will remember him most for?
His finest hour was his magnificent eulogy of his brother, Robert after his assassination in 1968.
If only I could have someone remember me in such a manner..

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

McCutchen slams Phils!

Andrew McCutchen's walkoff blast gave the Pirates a 6-4 win over the Phillies after Matt Capps blew a Pirate lead in the top of the stanza.
Capps earned the W despite the poor performance and improved to 3-7.The series continues tonight.

Pirate Hooks

1)The win snapped a five game losing streak to the hated Phils.

2)Could the Pirates be in the early stages of generating some power?
McCutchen's bomb was just one of three hit in the game as Ryan Doumit (8) and Steve Pearce (3) each hit homers.

3) Ryan Doumit has definitely been struggling with the bat since his return from the DL,but his homer raises hopes of a return to the power hitting catcher that earned his contract in the off season.
At least we can hope,looking at Doumits line shows a lot of ofers.
I will give Doumit the benefit of the doubt as wrist injuries can take a long time to heal properly and Doumit's injury was thought to perhaps end his season...

4)Another nice outing for Ross Ohlendorf,who would have been almost flawless except for his first two pitches to Jimmy Rollins going over the wall.
Ohlendorf allowed just the two runs off the solo homers and only three other hits...

5)Matt Capps is really starting to give me concerns.
Capps looked like he was improving with three scoreless games after his awful appearances earlier this month.
Capps lives and dies with his fastball and being able to harness the fastball is the key to success.
Lately,it seems like it has less movement and as a result becomes a fat pitch that hitters are taking advantage of.

Bullpen Notes

The rosters for the Arizona Fall League were announced yesterday.
The Pirates are sending outfielder Jose Tabata,shortstops Chase D'Arnaud and Brian Friday along with pitchers Daniel Moskos,Donald Veal and Tony Watson to play for the
Scottsdale Scorpions.
The Scorpions have five shortstops on their roster and no second basemen,so look for D'Arnaud to perhaps get a shot at second base ....

Some of our other favorites will be in the AZL as well.
The Peoria Javelinas will have pitcher Eric Krebs from the Dodgers and David "Superfan" Sloan's favorite outfielder Jordan Danks.
The Peoria Saguaros will be the Indians affiliate as the Tribe sent pitchers Connor Graham,Josh Judy and Zach Putnam along with infielders Josh Rodriguez,Matt McBride and Carlos Rivero to join outfielder Nick Weglarz.
The Saguaros also have super prospect Jason Heyward of the Braves.
The Pirate invitees in Scottsdale will have their roster bolstered by Phillies outfielder Dominic Brown and Giants catcher Buster Posey,both among the games top prospects,while the Phoenix Devil Dogs feature current Hagerstown Sun Derek Norris,along with two past Suns in Chris Marrero and Drew Storen.

The Seattle Seahawks added a star from the past to their present with the signing of Edgerrin James.
To make room for James,T.J.Duckett was released by the team.
James should at least take some pressure off Julius Jones,who seems to run better with limited carries.

Back later with more including the death of Ted Kennedy and a take that hopefully will make you think..

Photo Credits
Mob:Keith Srakocic-AP Photo

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Giants,Strasburg,Drunk Driving-Just Sayin'


With the Pirates on the road and no Suns or work,tonight was spent watching 14 innings of baseball as the Giants scored three runs in the top of the 14th to break a 1-1 tie and then watched on helplessly as the Rockies scored five in the bottom of the inning as Ryan Spilborghs crushed the first pitch that Merkin Valdez threw to the plate over the wall in right center for a 6-4 Colorado win.
The game lasted just short of five hours and was quite entertaining for a low scoring game for 13 innings.

Giant Steps

1) If the Giants get any kind of hitting at all,they would be a threat to win it all.
Instead they will be lucky to make the playoffs.
With exception of Pablo Sandoval and maybe Freddie Sanchez and Benjie Molina,the Giants do not have a bat that would rate in the upper half of National League hitters at their position.

2) Ryan and I watched the latter half of the game together and quite a few tidbits came up.
The first was when the Giants scored their runs and I commented the game was not in the bag.
Too many times in these long games,once the gates are opened-the runs start scoring.
Why?
Each team tends to have their worst pitchers in the game by this point and then the offense takes command.
Colorado finished the game with Adam Eaton,while the Giants used Valdez,Brandon Medders and Justin Miller.
Not very many Gossages or Fingers in that bunch....

3) Another topic was the ugly uniforms of the Rockies.
To borrow Bill Maher's "New Rules"-New Rule:If you didn't wear sleeveless uniforms before 1969,you cannot wear them now.
Black,Purple and a dull hat equals boring and bad....

4) I don't particularly like Purple or Teal,but since the Rockies and Marlins have these unusual colors,why do they settle for black?
When you have different colors,at least use them for the hat.....

5) The Giants aren't exactly getting their use from Freddy Sanchez.
Sanchez came to the Giants a bit dinged up and has missed the Giants last seven games.
Sanchez is in danger of not triggering the 8 Million dollar option for 600 at bats that seemed so certain when he was with the Pirates....

Bonus Round
Barry Zito is still overpaid,but Zito has turned his game around in the second half.
The ERA reads under 2.50 in second half starts,but a lack of run support has caused his record to be just 3-2 and most often no decisions...

A few words on the top pick in the Baseball draft Stephen Strasburg.
Strasburg is going to be very tough in the autograph hobby.
Strasburg turned down collectors several times over the weekend,many of them in one on one situations.
The one refreshing thing was in the Yahoo photo to the right-click this link where Yahoo's caption lists Strasburg as NOT signing an autograph.
Usually the media would have taken the picture and wrote-Strasburg waves to fans...
The fan in the picture is our good friend Tom O'Brien..
You haven't thrown a professional pitch yet and you are too good to sign autographs?
Sorry,sir-I think I'll take a pass on rooting for you...

Pirate pitching coordinator Troy Buckley has resigned to return to his former job at Long Beach State.
Buckley ruled the Pirate pitching coaches with an ironfist and didn't seem to want the coaches to offer very much in the way of instruction other than his.
One Pirate pitching coach seemed less than enthralled with Buckley in an off the record conversation.
I am sure that many of you have had talks that name without naming and that is what I felt was happening.
No word on potential replacements.

The Pirates have suspended former 2006 second round pick Mike Felix for driving under the influence indefinitely,although it is likely to be for the remainder of the season.
Felix was pulled over for crossing the center line three times and registered a blood alcohol level of .19.
Felix has always shown a strong arm,but was unable to consistently find the strike zone and this could possibly be the end of his time with the Pirates.....

Jon Stewart takes on the ridiculous dumbing down of our news with his take on "Just Sayin'.
I am at work when this segment is on and trust me,it is even dumber than it seems here.
Former Baltimore and Washington area veteran Carol Costello hosts the silly feature and doesn't do it any favors as a 48 year woman attempts to get this over as a young person would....
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
CNN's Just Sayin'
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests


Photo Credits
Valdez:David Zalubowski-AP Photo
Strasburg:Charles Dharapak-AP Photo

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pirate Hooks


The Pirates were unable to finish a sweep of the Reds as the Ohio gang managed a 4-1 win in the series finale'.
So a few thoughts on the series in Pirate Hooks.

1) Homer Bailey looked awful good against the Pirates,but the task was made easier by the decision to play Ramon Vasquez and Brian Bixler in the same lineup.
About the only thing that could have made it worse was another start for Luis Cruz instead of Delwyn Young at second base.

2) Bailey has been heralded by the Reds for years as their next ace as he rose through the system,but has disappointed.
Bailey has all the tools to be a front of the rotation starter,but the Reds have blunted his progress by moving him up and down from AAA Louisville.
Sometimes,you have to allow a player to take his lumps for a while in order to truly see progress...

3) One point of controversy on Pirate sites right now is about Neil Walker and his statements that he (and Brian Bixler) is being held back by the front office because they were picked by the Littlefield administration.
Some feel this is true,others think that neither have proven themselves worthy of an opportunity.
I think that if Walker legitimately feels this way,he might have taken the right avenue in getting out of Dodge.
It is clear that the Pirates may either move Walker to another position,considering Pedro Alvarez will likely start next season as the Indianapolis 3rd baseman or perhaps a trade that would help both parties.
Do I think Neil Walker has turned out to be what one expects from a first round pick?
No,but a September callup doesn't seem to hurt anyone and lets see what he has.
I know quite a few think that he doesn't deserve that much,but in a season made for scouting-where's the harm?

4) I know it has only been three starts since his arrival,but Kevin Hart has not exactly impressed me.
Hart's command is questionable at best and for a guy reported to be a power arm,he hasn't shown it much thus far....

5) The loss dropped the Pirates back into last place by a half game after a one day escape.
The loss snapped a five game Pittsburgh winning streak and kept them in 3rd in the Bryce Harper derby.
Pittsburgh trails Washington by ten games in the loss column and rank behind Kansas City by a few games as well...

6) The Pirates and Reds play each other TEN more times before the seasons out!
That says three things.
1) If one team wins the majority of those games,that team will drop a draft spot or two.
2) The games are going to be competitive.
3) They might feature a TON of less than stellar baseball....

Back later with more!

Photo Credit-Unknown

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cleaning out the inbox

We have built up some notes in the in-box,so I'll use this opportunity to clean them up a bit....

The Pirates are wearing the 1979 uniforms for their weekend series against the Cincinnati Reds.
In the first game victory,the Bucs went with the Yellow tops,while tonight features the white pinstripes.
The old school cakepan hats are in fashion for the weekend as well.
I wonder if the Sunday afternoon game will have the black jerseys?
I'll recap the series on Monday as I continue to miss Friday and Saturday games due to being at work by 10......

Longtime reader Chet Trybus was able to catch an Altoona game while on vacation.
Chet reports that top prospect Pedro Alvarez rapped out three hits and that he and his son sat in the first row behind the plate and only paid for one ticket.
Why?Because of a Kraft cheese promotion that offers a Buy one get one free deal with a cheese wrapper...
I wonder if Kraft has plans to take this idea further,if they return the program next season?

DirectTV Hockey fans could be facing an issue that will affect them in the spring as DirectTV and Versus are in contentious talks on keeping the network on the nations top satellite provider.
Other the NHL and the occasional boxing card,Versus would not be a huge loss,but without Versus,there would be fewer playoff games available.
DirectTv is currently running a trailer on the bottom of Versus programming about the possible deletion effective September 1st.
I would say this likely will work out as things usually come down to the wire,but it would not surprise me if they did not make a deal.

Another interesting article on Memphis Wrestling from Kentucky Fried Rasslin.
Their blog is written by former Memphis manager Scott Bowden and Bowden has rapidly built KFR into my favorite wrestling nostalgia site.

Looking for cheap baseball?
Look no further than Bristol Va (or TN) as the Bristol White Sox charge just 5 and 3 dollars for admission to their Appalachian League games and kids are just two bucks!
Boyce Cox Field is a neat structure and the Sox are run by a community board of directors that is consisted of 100 % volunteers.
Nice to see a town rally around the local ball club...

I wish I could say that the next item was nice to see as The Great Pacific garbage patch continues to grow in size,obliterate nature and possibly leak toxic chemicals into the ocean.
The Patch is estimated to be twice the size of Texas and could be identified via satellite,if all plastic were the same color.
I realize that most of this problem is beyond control,but shouldn't someone attempt to avoid adding to the issue???

Photo Credits
Bucs:Keith Srakocic-AP Photo
GPGP:Unknown

Friday, August 21, 2009

Talkin Pirates with Wilbur Miller


After a long absence due to my issues,we have finally brought back Wilbur Miller for some thoughts on the Pirates draft.
I plan on a followup to this in a week or two that focuses more on the Pirates system and looking back at the farm year that was 2009....

1) ThoughtsofRS:I assume that you are pleased with the Pirates draft,but considering the price that some of the higher rated players settled for,are you still pleased with the selection of Tony Sanchez?

Wilbur Miller:Given the approach, I would’ve preferred Bobby Borchering, but I’m fine with the overall idea of not taking a pitcher with the 4th overall pick, going with a guy who’d sign for close to slot, and spending the money on several above-slot guys in later rounds. Leaving aside Sanchez’ performance so far—which is getting too much hype, it’s just low A and he’s a college guy—people who were upset about his selection were ignoring the character of this draft. To the extent you can tell this sort of thing from articles in BA, BP and other places, scouts regarded the early portion of this draft as Strasburg, Ackley and the fifty dwarves. There wasn’t that much difference between players from the #3 pick until somewhere at least into the supplemental first round, maybe the second round. The Pirates fitted their strategy to the draft. The most valid criticism was that they paid Sanchez too much, but even there they were able to get him into the system quickly. He’s made great progress and should see AA by mid-season, or even the beginning of the season, next year.


2) TRS:With the season almost over,who has been the biggest surprise in the system?

WM:Rudy Owens. I can’t imagine anybody saw that coming. Starling Marte doing so well while skipping two levels is a close second.

3) TRS:The biggest disappointment?

WM:Shelby Ford. What a fiasco! I thought maybe it was his wrist, especially after he seemed to be coming around not long ago, but he slumped again and ended up in AA. Bryan Morris and Jamie Romak are other candidates. I think people are too down on Morris, though, and not taking his health issues into account, and Romak was a very marginal prospect anyway.

4) TRS:Of the touted arms that are entering the system,which is your favorite and why?

WM: Colton Cain. High-upside LHPs are always a great asset.

5) TRS:In your opinion,which has the highest upside?

WM:I guess Von Rosenberg, based on the high opinions a lot of people seem to have of him. He’s obviously been a big-game sort of pitcher in his prep career.


6) TRS:Which is the highest risk?

WM:Trent Stevenson is very high-risk. Joseph Schoenfeld, too. Victor Black is probably pretty high-risk. But they all have very good upsides, which is the whole point.

7) TRS:What player that was not brought in was the one player that you wanted to see the Pirates sign most?

WM:Michael Heller was the most highly regarded of the guys they didn’t sign, so I’d have to say him. I was keen on Kevin Gelinas, too – the power lefty thing again.

8) TRS:Which player that could be considered a sleeper prospect do you like best?

WM:I’m getting very curious about Brock Holt. He got off to a slow start, but now he’s showing some pretty good power and decent plate discipline, and he hits LH. I’m looking forward to seeing him play, to see how he is defensively.

9) TRS:Now that the draft is over and the deadline has passed,do you agree with the Pirates game plan for this draft or not?

WM:I’d have to, since I’ve been arguing for years that the best strategy is to take hitters in the first round and load up on pitchers later, and also that they should be willing to pay above-slot money. So I feel like they’ve done exactly what I’ve always wanted to see them do.

10) TRS:What player (with the exception of Sanchez) do you think the Pirates severely overdrafted?

WM:Probably (Evan) Chambers.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

One awesome rant and Random Ramblings~

Time for some more random thoughts to finish things off that had accumulated before the return to work and usual dwindling of posts...

Sorry to hear that one of our all-time favorites Steve "Dr.Death" Williams has been stricken again in his battle with throat cancer.
Williams underwent surgery a few years back and was declared cancer-free a few months later.
Williams still occasionally wrestles in the US and Japan,but has announced his decision to retire later this year.
Doc is currently working for Southwest Airlines in Denver on the plane runway crew.
Best wishes to the good doctor on beating this insidious disease for a second time.


Cancer is fighting yet another favorite as former CNN sports anchor and current voice of Showtime's ShoBox Nick Charles is battling bladder cancer.
Charles and Fred Hickman were the long time lead anchors back in the days when CNN covered sports before the ill-fated CNN/SI experiment in an attempt to fight off ESPN News.
Charles has a great love for the fight game and always has been one of the better blow by blow guys behind the mike.
Best wishes to Nick on a full recovery.

Of all things in sports over the last week,the one that I have enjoyed the most was Tiger Woods losing the PGA Tournament to YE Yang (whoever he is).
So much for the media and their Woods is 14 for 14 when leading a major after three rounds.
Woods is a great golfer,maybe the second greatest ever and he is commanding when holding the lead,but he isn't quite so good when coming off the pace and that is part of the total package.
Perhaps the first crack in the armor of Tiger Woods has started to show...

What a pair of blows to the Seattle Seahawks with injuries to Walter Jones and Marcus Trufant.
Jones will have his knee scoped and could be back for the opener.
Trufant is having disk issues with his back and will miss substantial time,if not the season.
Seattle continues to be pounded with injuries between 2008 and now this season as well.....

Most of you that have known me for many years know just how big of a fan I am/was of Jim Cornette and the Midnight Express.
Well,one thing that I didnt know is that Jim Cornette is an unbashed liberal and what David Sloan "Superfan" would describe as a "far left wing liberal" at that.
I never saw Cornette as a progressive,but this rant that I found by accident this morning is not only a tremendous promo,but an intelligent destruction of the right wing talking points.
WARNING-Very strong language as most of Cornette's rants are,if this offends you,you may want to skip this one..




The Sockeye Salmon,which spawns in the Canadian Fraser River has suffered an alarming drop in its numbers this year.
How alarming?How about dropping from 10 million to ONE million!
One cannot blame fisherman either as both commercial and recreational fishing has been closed on the Fraser for the last three years.
This Reuters article offers a few thoughts on the possible causes,which range from a warming river to a sea parasite to a drop in food supply due to climate change.
The Sockeye is considered an endangered species in the United States.

And finally from the I couldn't make this up department comes the touching,pulling at the heartstrings story of Eyes for Frosty brought to you by families4pacoal,which appears to be a lobbying group for the coal industry.
Eyes for Frosty,a warm coloring books for kids (Really,I swear) to teach kids about the wonders of coal!
Not only is teaching kids about coal without the bad side unfair,check the artwork out in one example shown here.
Either the artist really didn't have his heart into the project or they hired one pretty bad artist....

Photo Credits
Dr.Death:Highspots.com
Cornette:Jim Cornette.com
Sockeye:McGill University
Mr Coal:Families4pacoal

Pirate Hooks

The Pirates have pretty much ended the playoff hopes of the
Milwaukee Brewers by sweeping the Brewers in three straight at PNC Park.
The Buccos had lost 13 of 14 entering the series against a team that had not only had the Pirates numbers,but had acted in a manner that was almost bully like towards the Pirates in dominating the series in each of the last two seasons....
The Pirates get today off before welcoming the Cincinnati Reds in a weekend battle between the two bottom dwellers in the National League Central.

Pirate Hooks

1) The Pirates were able to add two more "tough sign" draft picks near the end of the signing period as 10th round catcher Joe Schoenfeld (I forgot about him when referring to players that I was hoping to see the Pirates take a late run at) and 12th rounder pitcher Jeffrey Inman.
Inman was in the group that I hoped the Pirates would try to reel in at the buzzer.
Schoenfeld signed for 195,000 and reneged on his commitment to play for Tony Gwynn and the San Diego State Aztecs.
Inman was signed for 425,000 as Inman skipped his final year at Stanford to sign.

2) The Pirates also claimed Jon Meloan last week from the Rays and sent him to AAA Indianpolis.
Meloan went from a highly thought of prospect to being waived in one calendar year.
For more on Meloan,check our talk with Tony Lastoria out below....

3) Speaking of relievers,the Pirates promoted Jeff Sues from Altoona to Indianapolis.
Sues struggled early with the Curve and resulted in his bloated numbers,but has pitched well over the last six weeks.

4) The Pirates had three members of the State College Spikes make the NY-Penn All Star game.
Pitchers Phillip Irwin and Zach Foster had performances at the opposite ends of the spectrum as Irwin retired three batters with eight pitches,while Foster was rapped for the deciding three runs in picking up the defeat.
Second baseman Brock Holt walked in his only plate appearance.
All three should start with Low A West Virginia next season...

5) I saw very little of the Brewers series,but it was nice to see the arrogance of the Brewers taken away a bit.
I mean does one wild card appearance really make you a divisional bad ass?
Ryan Braun is a great player,but his swagger seems a bit misplaced all things considered.....
The Pirates are essentially a 4A team right now with only next year to play for,the Brewers needed these games for wild card hopes and which team grabbed all three games?
Take a hike,kid take a hike....

6) The Pirates are currently third in the Bryce Harper Derby.
Pittsburgh trails pace setting Washington by six and a half for the rights to Harper and second place Kansas City by two and a half.
However,the Pirates lead the incoming Reds by just one game,so this weekends series does have extra meaning to fans of both squads....

7) If Pittsburgh cannot have Harper,here is hoping that Washington holds on to the top pick.
While there is no chance in hell that the Hagerstown Suns will ever see Stephen Strasburg,there is an above average chance that Bryce Harper could be a member of the 2011 Hagerstown Suns.
.

Back with more later as we frantically attempt to catch up before the workweek begins!!!

Photo Credits
Logo:Chris Creamers Sports Logos
Spikes:Wil Colsher-State College Spikes

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A day in the New York-Penn League

Ryan,Battlin Bob and I traveled to State College,Pennsylvania yesterday for a day with the New York-Penn league as the road show known as the All Star game rolled into Nittany Lion country.
The trip up was pretty uneventful with only two real highlights-a stop at a Chili's in Altoona and passing Pirate great Kent Tekulve on the highway.
It wasn't hard to tell that it was Tekulve as I cannot think too many people have Teke on a Pennsylvania license plate driving to State College.
Ironically,the only hiccup on the trip was a wrong turn (we just turned around) that was caused by figuring Teke knew where he was going!
When I met Tekulve and told him this,his response came with a laugh and "you picked the wrong guy,I didn't know where I was going"!
What a thrill to meet a Pirate legend and one of my favorite pitchers as a kid.

We arrived at Medlar Field about 15 minutes after the gates opened,which put us at the end of a long line for the American League All-Stars.
I had a few more cards for the AL than the National Leaguers and in order to have a chance of getting what I had signed,I had to wait on getting the NYPL Top Prospects set until after all the autograph sessions were concluded.
But the worst was yet to come as a huge,wind swirling thunderstorm came blowing through and soaked me for evening.
I think the wind was messed up somewhat by the monolith that is Beaver Stadium across the street because I have never been in an average thunderboomer like that.
Ryan and Battlin' Bob did the smart thing ran for shelter.
I kept my place in line right outside cover and paid the price.
The price I pay for this hobby...
As I neared the line,a Spikes employee announced that from here on out,only one thing would be signed per player.
For the most part,that was OK,but there was a few players that I had a few cards of.
But the biggest disappointment with this policy was with AL manager and former Indian Travis Fryman.
Fryman was very nice and kind,but I was only able to get one.
I didn't really have a preferred Indian card,so I used a card from the archives.
A card from a set that I bought at the Muni when the Hagerstown Suns were in the Eastern League and Fryman was with the London Tigers.
So that was a pretty neat addition to the collection.
Former Tiger backstop Phil Clark signed a minor league card as well and Ryan got a Fleer card of Clark as well.
Fryman's cards from Ryan and the Battler went to Ryan.
The one card issue came around again when the National players were available,but I did not have as much for them.
The rest of the day autograph wise will be in the next On the Signing Front,which also catch up on the Rome Braves,Augusta Greenjackets and help from others in getting things signed.....

One of the best part of the day was seeing friends as we got to talk and spend time with two of my favorite people in the hobby in Bill Cover and Tom O'brien.
But the highlight was the appearance of the "Superfan" and his showdown with the Battler.
The Battler went toe to toe with the "Superfan" on issues that ranged from line cutting to our nations health care debate to religion and politics,where the "SF" called Battlin Bob a left wing liberal.
I thought for a brief second that Battlin Bob was going to show his left wing up close and personal to "SF",but luckily things didnt come to that and the humor that Bob usually shows continued on as always...
However,Battlin' Bob did have a thought or two on the "Superfan" when pressed for a comment later in the evening from the bleachers looking down on right field in the picture snapped to your right.

The game was interesting and fun as the American League won 4-2 behind a three run seventh inning paced by Staten Island Yankee teammates Zoilo Almonte and Jimmy Paredes.
Paredes smacked a two run homer for his part in the rally.
We moved around a lot and didn't sit in our seats at all as we enjoyed the game and good company.
Give lots of credit to the State College organization,many fields would not have withstood the downpour that hit Nittany Country and yet through an excellent drainage system and hard work,the game was able to be played.
All and all,a good day and got some things finished as well.

Photo Credits
Tekulve and some guy,Battlin' Bob-Ryan Heimberger
Fans and the AL All Stars (check the 8th guy down)-Centre County Times

Talking Tribe with Tony Lastoria


Tony Lastoria of the Indians Prospect Insider was kind enough to spend some time with me and answer some questions on the Cleveland minor league system.
I know that there are a few of you out there that think that I give the Indians the short end of the stick and compared to the Pirates,I likely do just that.
So to those people,here is some bonus Tribe coverage.
Be sure to check Tony's site out and if you post anything there,be sure to tell his readers how you got there,perhaps we may pick up a reader or two.

1)Thoughts of RS: Any idea why two teams have passed on Jon Meloan (claimed on waivers by the Pirates from TB) in just a few months?
What was it that Cleveland didn't like?


Tony Lastoria:Bottom line, his value is not as high as was originally believed. He
throws hard and still has potential as a major league reliever, but
apparently some problems he has had with adjusting mechanics and commanding
his pitches made the Indians give up on him. The Dodgers pretty much gave
up on him last year (he was a throw in with Carlos Santana) for what I am
hearing are the same reasons. The Indians had him in the system less than
a year, and the Rays had him for basically a month and let him go. I very
much think he has a chance to have a good career, but when three teams dump
you without giving you much of a look at the big league level that says a
lot. The Pirates are a team obviously that can afford to be a little more
patient with him.


2) TRS: Over here,we have always had a soft spot for Akron's Nick Weglarz
because
he has always been such a nice guy,how has Nick progressed this season with
the Aeros and has he jumped over Matt LaPorta as the Indians preeminent
power prospect?


TL: Going into the season, Weglarz was the Indians best power hitter by far and
still is. Now, there is a difference between best power hitter and best
run producer, which the latter I think is LaPorta. Weglarz still hits with
a low batting average and lives and dies by the walk and home run it seems.
He reminds me a lot of an Adam Dunn type who will hit massive bombs, but
also rack up a lot of strikeouts and walks. To me, that is a #5 or #6
hitter. LaPorta is a middle of the order bat who can more consistently
drive in runs because he hits for a much better average, though is a step
below Weglarz in the power department (though still very powerful).


3) TRS: I have seen both Nick Hagadone and Jason Knapp start games here in
Hagerstown this season.
Which of the Tribe's new arms do you prefer as a prospect Knapp,Hagadone or
another new arm Scott Barnes??


TL: I like all three of these guys a lot. Barnes is a guy who has been
overlooked, but has excellent potential as a very good
middle-of-the-rotation starter. As I wrote about this week, I think the
Indians may have found a gem in him for Ryan Garko. Still, Knapp and
Hagadone have the greatest upside of any new arm they picked up in the
trades this July, though they also present the biggest risk. Going on pure
projection, these two have the potential to be absolutely dominant arms as
either frontline starters or backend relievers. I have only seen Hagadone
pitch, but haven't talked to him yet. I've talked to Knapp, but have not
seen him pitch. What I have seen and heard from them I like. Hagadone
will be a work in progress the rest of the year as he gets back to 100%
from Tommy John surgery, but what he has shown already is impressive and
the Indians officials love what they have seen in his two outings. Knapp
has unbelievable makeup for an 18-year old kid, which is key as he needs to
be open to coaching and also take the bad moments and mistakes in stride
and as a learning experience. Some young kids can't do that due to a lack
of maturity.


4) TRS: Looking at Beau Mills' numbers,it appears that he has plateaued a bit.
Do you think that it is the case and if so,Why?


TL: Mills has had an okay season. I don't think he is the impact prospect many
hoped he would be, but I think he will have a major league career. Just
how good of one is the question. He has some very good power, but his
swing and follow through leads to so many popups. I have to give credit to
Keith Law for pointing this out way back this offseason in the Arizona Fall
League about the issues he is going to have at the higher levels facing
more advanced pitchers because of the way he swings the bat. He's
certainly fallen out of the Top 10 and into the #11-20 range for me.


5) TRS: Lonnie Chisenhall was clearly the best player in a down year for the
Kinston club,
A few thoughts on Chisenhall?


TL: What else can you say about Chisenhall that hasn't already been said? He
was the best player in the Carolina League when you factor in his age (20),
how much he carried that Kinston team offensively and in the clubhouse, and
of course the numbers he put up. The home runs have been a pleasant
surprise this year, and he looks like a guy who can be a 25 HR 100 RBI guy
in the bigs at third base or second base. On top of that, he is a .300
hitter in the making. I'm not saying he is Kevin Youkilis because of
ability, but as far as production goes and the ability to be a thorn in a
pitchers side night after night at the plate, that's what I think he'll
become at the big league level (just he won't be an @#$hole like Youkilis
is lol).


6) TRS: Any ideas on why Cleveland always seems to target the same type of
hitters in the draft (with some exceptions) slow,college infielders that
seem to excel at Kinston and slowly drop performance wise?


TL: This is an interesting question, and something I myself have never been
able to put a finger on. I believe that a lot of it comes from their very
conservative approach as an organization. Be it the free agent signings
they make, the slow, methodical way they typically promote prospects, or
the low upside but what-you-see-is-what-you-get draft picks. Ever since
they were burned in the 2001 Draft after taking all those high school
pitchers, it seems they have tried to eliminate such risk and focused less
on big upside, but guys who are more proven and further along in their
development path. That being college hitters and arms. Some of this is
skewed because some impact guys they did draft which looked like sure-fire
impact guys like Adam Miller, Michael Aubrey, etc all got hurt. I think in
the last year-plus we have seen a shift where they are now more open to
high upside, high risk guys in the draft and going after them and signing
them. Be it from last year's draft with Chisenhall, Trey Haley, T.J. House
and others, or this year with the acquisition of a Jason Knapp in the Lee
trade.


7) TRS: Through the years,I have seen each of the players in the Phillies trade
play on several occasions.
The one head scratcher is Lou Marson,considering the general wealth of
young
catchers in the system,why was a singles hitting catcher included in the
deal?
Could Marson be moved?
or do you think Cleveland looks as Marson playing the Kelly Shoppach role
to
Carlos Santana's Victor Martinez for years to come?


TL: Marson has a lot of value as just about everyone in major league baseball
view him as a starting catcher in major league baseball someday. Sure, he
doesn't have the impact with the bat like a Carlos Santana will, but aside
from maybe three to four starting catchers in the big leagues the rest all
have huge warts offensively. What makes Marson so special is his rapport
with his pitchers and leadership qualities. This guy is a manager in the
making, and he shows those skills from behind the plate with the way he
handles his pitching staff, whether it be settling a guy down, pushing them
to pitch better, and just taking complete control on the field. Plus,
while he does not have a lot of pop, he should hold his own offensively and
hit for a good average and not be a black hole in the lineup like so many
catchers are. I think a good comparison with Marson and Santana is that
Marson next year will fill the role that Josh Bard did in Cleveland in 2003
as the placeholder for Martinez (Santana) when he eventually got the full
time job at the start of 2004 (2011). Once Santana takes the regular full
time job, Marson would move into more of a backup role. I think they will
keep him and trade Shoppach this offseason.


8) TRS: If indeed,Eric Wedge is removed at season's end,is there a chance that a
manager in the system could be the new boss and if so,who?


TL: I'm 50/50 that Wedge will be fired at the end of the season, and the reason
why I think it is still up in the air is I get the impression that GM Mark
Shapiro will not fire him and is still in his corner, but that the decision
will ultimately rest with team President Paul Dolan and his dad owner Larry
Dolan. I get the impression from listening to Paul Dolan that Wedge is
likely gone. When (if) that happens, I really believe the replacement
options will be two people: current Triple-A manager Torey Lovullo or Red
Sox Pitching Coach John Farrell. Obviously Lovullo has been in the
organization for awhile so it would be almost a seamless transition going
with him and may make some sense with the youth movement. Plus he is a
highly regarded manager many view will get a big league gig someday.
Farrell has ties to the organization as he was the Farm Director until he
left after the 2006 season to join the Red Sox as their pitching coach.
This could shape up to be like when the Indians were looking for a manager
in 2003 where it was between Wedge and Bud Black (another former Indians
guy), and they ultimately choose Lovullo. And before anyone jumps off the
ledge, let is be clear that while Lovullo is like Wedge in a lot of ways
with their philosophy, they are so very different in their demeanor,
communication, and just about everything else. So there would be a
noticeable change going to Lovullo, and a new voice no doubt.


9) TRS: Figuring that barring injury Hector Rondon will join the Wahoo rotation
next year,do you think any other players from the farm will be given a real
chance to be a regular next year?


TL: As it stands, it looks like the 2010 rotation to start the season will be
Jak Wesbrook, Fausto Carmona, Justin Masterson, David Huff, and Aaron
Laffey. The first three of Westbrook, Carmona, and Masterson are set
barring injury, but there could be some competition in the final two spots
with Huff and Laffey. The thing is, Laffey is pretty much a lock himself
because he is out of options. So, unless they move him to the bullpen, he
is one of the starters. So, it could come down to a battle for the #5 spot
with Huff along with Rondon and a guy like Carlos Carrasco. In any case, I
see guys like Rondon, Carrasco, Scott Lewis, and even a Chuck Lofgren all
getting long and extended looks at some point with the big league club next
year. When the dust settles, I expect 9-10 starters will log significant
innings.


10)TRS: Your thoughts on Matt LaPorta and do you think he was jerked around with
moving up to the parent club and sitting on the bench?
Would he have been better served to wait until Sept. to move up?


TL: Yeah, the way they handled LaPorta with that May callup was odd.
Allegedly, the Indians brass wanted LaPorta to play, but Wedge was not
confident in him and sided instead with his veterans, namely David Dellucci
if I am not mistaken. How a manager can have this much power to supposedly
ignore using a high level prospect time after time is beyond me, and is a
big reason why I think a change needs to be made with the manager. In any
case, LaPorta has handled it well, but he should have been in Cleveland and
playing everyday two months ago, or even should have been playing everyday
since May. At this point, he is best served to come up in September when
Columbus' season ends on Sept 7th and get about four weeks to play. In the
meantime, for the next three weeks up until his callup it will allow
marginal guys like Andy Marte, Chris Gimenez, and Wyatt Toregas to play
regularly so they can get a better read on them and if they will be a part
of the future of this team. Once LaPorta joins this team in September, he
should pretty much lock down first base or left field for the foreseeable
future and never go back to the minors again.

Thanks to Tony for his time in doing this interview and we have added Indians Prospect Insider to our list of links on the right.
Again if you have any interest in Cleveland Baseball,I implore you to check Tony's site there.

Back later with some thoughts on our trip to the NY-Penn league All star game and catching up on things,so be ready for several posts over the next two days....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A long and fun day

What a long and fun day.
Between a fruitless wait in an attempt to attend US Senator Ben Cardin's Health Care forum,a fun doubleheader at the Muni between the Suns and the visiting Rome Braves,the "Superfan" comparing a player in the game (sorry not naming the player) in looks to Bozo the Clown and coming home to watch a replay of a great game between the Giants and Dodgers,this was one terrific day.
The only downside is that I missed the Pirates game in Colorado due to the length of the Doubleheader and it doesn't seem like I missed much in a 8-0 Rockies rout.

We arrived at the Kepler Theater on the campus of Hagerstown Community College around 11;30 and hoped to get into the door as we settled into the line.
At various times,we saw HCC employees checking the crowd to try to see where the limit for the line would be when the theatre reached its capacity,we appeared to be about 20 people or so ahead of the expected cutoff.
After standing in the line for 90 minutes,that we spent talking to some very nice people in the line that disagreed with us on some things but shared an enjoyable conversation,we were unable to to enter as the cutoff turned out to be about 15-20 people ahead of us.
It appeared that the difference was basically the dignitaries that had to see and be seen were not accounted for by the counters.
I would wager that between 200-300 people behind us also didn't get entrance.
I thought most people were civil although there were exceptions from the Lyndon LaRouche fringe that showed the President with an Adolf Hitler mustache and there were always the confrontations from fringe believers from both ends of the spectrum left and right.
Many news channels were there to televise some parts of the proceedings and there were the usual parades of grandstanders throughout looking to gain attention for themselves.
The left was a little more subdued,but the left always seems to feature these Woodstock looking rejects that appear to be little more than advertising for being way out hippies.
The right has people that look more mainstream and then blow that away with ridiculous signs like the aforementioned Hitler poster.
This whole thing could have avoided,if someone at HCC had thought about perhaps using the HCC Arena which would have held the entire crowd with room to spare.
However,people underestimated the turnout,but the issue in going to the arena could have one of lack of security and if that was the case then I can see why that was not able to be used.
Check out our friends over at Bag of Health and Politics from their viewpoint and from someone that was able to actually get inside and watch the presentation.

The Braves-Suns doubleheader featured wild chat,political discussion,two good games (Rome swept both) and a lot of autographs from visiting Braves.
The BOHP blogger was there and willing to swap debate with the Old Dominion "Superfan" David Sloan,who appeared without blue face paint and cape for the evening.
"Doug Hopkins" attended the game and enjoyed spirited discussion with the Superfan on topics ranging from autographs,religion and the Superfan's views on pornography.
I was able to get most of the Rome top prospects as second baseman Joel Campusuano,outfielder Luis Sumoza and pitcher Julio Teheran all signed among others.

But the best part of the night was seeing Rome pitcher Mike Mehlich,who you may remember for signing for me in Frederick after taking the time to stop and sign for me there and put down a tray of food to do so.
I mentioned this as Mike signed for others and he asked "did you write about that on the internet" and after I said that was me,his reply was that his mom saw the post.
So,Mike's Mom if you are reading this one,thanks for stopping by!
Later between games,I told Mike even though I have nothing left for you to sign,you are still my favorite here.
Mike was the winning pitcher of Game two in relief and tossed me a foul ball late in the game.
Looks like we have another entry in the player list that we follow here at the blog!

After returning home,I watched the replay of the Giants-Dodgers game that I started watching before going to the Suns-Braves game.
I was able to pick up where I left off and watched a game that featured a near brawl,the Giants losing manager Bruce Bochy to ejection and his replacement Ron Wotus to the same fate later in the game,some awful umpiring that forced the game to extra innings (costing Tim Lincecum a win) and a walk off game winning homer by Juan Uribe in a 4-2 10 inning Giant win.
Great game and a great day!

I hope to be back tomorrow with another feature and some misc. notes before tomorrow's return to work!

Photo Credits
Bozo:Unknown
Mehlich:MiLB.com
Giants-Dodgers:Ben Margot-AP Photo

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pirates finally win!


The Pittsburgh Pirates finally snapped a long losing streak with a 7-3 win over the Rockies at Coors Field.
Ross Ohlendorf became the Pirates first ten game winner in picking the win and moving to 10-8 on the season.
The series continues tonight with Kevin Hart starting for Pittsburgh,while Colorado counters with Ubaldo Jimenez....

Pirate Hooks

1) Ross Ohlendorf said his fastball was the best that it had been all season,but yet he struck out just three over six innings and change.
Just goes to show that velocity can be effective in ways that don't show up in the strikeout column.

2) The Pirates faced Jholys Chacin in the win.
Chacin was making his first MLB start and lasted less than three innings.
Chacin allowed five runs,but only one hit and that leads to the standout stat-six walks.
Command issues were the knock on Chacin in the minors and I just missed seeing him at Asheville last season as he was promoted days before the Tourists visit to Hagerstown.

3) Big night for Andrew McCutchen as he swiped three bases.I can see how the stolen base can be somewhat overrated by the stathead gang,but what is not in the scorecard is the amount of rattling a top notch thief can do to a pitcher.
Many times that leads to better pitches for the batter to hit when a smart speedster is on first.
I have no numbers to back that up,just an opinion...

4) The play that set the tone was when Ryan Doumit scored the games first run on a ball that was no more than a few feet away.
Replays showed that Delwyn Young may have fouled it off and Colorado catcher Chris Ianetta just assumed it was foul.
Heads up to Doumit for using the old Little League axiom-"Take off,the ump can always send you back if its foul".

5) One more pivotal play was a terrific catch by Lastings Milledge that robbed Carlos Gonzalez of a two run homer that would put the Rockies back into the contest.
Milledge's rap has always been of an indifferent defender,but his catch and follow up excitement was a positive thing to see from Milledge....

Bullpen Notes

Looks like Kelly Pavlik vs Paul Williams in October for Pavlik's Middleweight title.
This is the best fight that Pavlik can make with Arthur Abraham giving his Middleweight title up to move up to 168 pounds and participate in Showtime's Super Middleweight round robin.
Atlantic City is the venue and HBO is the television outlet,so that means no PPV!!!!

Thoughts and prayers to Ashland University linebacker Cory Skoczen,who is in critical condition in a Cleveland hospital following an injury during Monday's practice with the Eagles.
The injury is undisclosed,but seems very serious.
Best wishes on a full recovery....

Photo Credit
Jump:AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Knives and Daggers


Back with another view from the Dark Side.
I wish I could set music up as background music for the blog sometimes.
If I could,I would use this for knives and daggers.


I have a story about this film,but it is better suited for Things that make me laugh.

A big knife to those of these nut cases that are completely ruining any hopes of discourse at the various town meetings around the country on health care.
Both sides seem to have covered their nutcase quota,although the anti-health care crowd seems to have the edge in population.
My personal favorite was at a South Carolina event where some uninformed clown stood up and hollered "Keep your government hands off my Medicare'!
I am glad people are showing up,offering their opinions and putting Representatives feet to the fire with hard questions that they cannot dodge,however couldn't people be more professional and keep this to an adult level instead of the childish behavior often shown?
I don't claim to have all the answers to this issue,if you want more analysis on this,check out our friends over at Bag of Health and Politics for their take on things.

A BIG dagger to the Weather Channel,who have not seemed to learn anything from ESPN.
What does TWC and ESPN have in common?
As I am sure many remember,ESPN relentlessly pounded who they thought was a coming star down everyone's throat by the name of Stephen A.Smith.
Smith was annoying NBA fans by the bucketloads with his antics on NBA broadcasts and ESPN decided to start pushing Smith.
ESPN put out a quote that turned out to be the antithesis of what the sports fan is looking for on Smith when giving him a daily show "Quite Frankly"- "You may love Stephen A,you may hate Stephen A,but you watch Stephen A".
This became quite famous as no,you don't watch Stephen A as the show couldn't get a grip on a audience despite format changes,time slot changes and doing everything but eliminating Smith from the equation and resulting in a cancellation long after most shows had gotten the axe.
ESPN continued to stick Smith on anything that used a talking head despite the fact that most people just couldn't stand the guy and he brought little to the broadcast other than screaming at the camera until they finally understood and began to ease him from the scene.
Smith left the network a few months back,not because he was let go,"but because my desire to venture beyond sports into the world of news, politics and entertainment has grown."
Ok,so what does this have to do with the Weather Channel?
Well,they are in the process of pulling a "Stephen A" with their pushing of Stephanie Abrams.
Abrams,another screamer that seems to be in love with loud sounds,has failed twice in a prime time slot (despite a MEGA push) previously,yet has taken the same shtick to the morning hours,which is TWC's highest rated time slot since people want to check the weather before sending the kids to school,work etc.
Between the walking towards the camera (which I guess is supposed to show that she is TALKING TO YOU),the cackles and general odd behavior,Abrams is just plain annoying.
I feel sorry for her co-host in these endeavors,Mike Bettes.
I mean,what did Bettes do to deserve this????
Check the Youtubes at the post end for some of Abrams' antics.

Our final Dagger goes to Little League baseball.
I know,Shawn you coached for ten years and loved the game,why a dagger to Little League?
Well,frankly the dagger goes to two groups -Little League Baseball Inc and parents.
Parents because they cannot ever seem to allow players and coaches to do their jobs on the field and cannot resist the need to be a general manager instead of just a fan.
Despite requests from people that would like to see me return to the game,I don't see a return in the cards and that is mainly due to the crap from parents.
Remember this to parents,the coach cannot win-If the team is winning then the game should be just for fun,if the team is losing then the manager is a dummy that isn't winning enough games.
To the organization of Little League itself,you have become too bloated,too concerned with money and too concerned with everything but baseball.
If I had the money,I would love the chance to do what my hometown in Ashland Ohio does-set your own league,own rules,championship playoffs,everything decided by the people that should make the calls-the people involved in the league.
The hypocrisy that is Little League baseball is beyond what anyone that has never been involved with youth baseball and is simply sadder than you can ever know.
I may decide to do an entire post soon on Little League on a slow day and at least make any readers out there ponder a bit about things.



Talkin Browns


A few thoughts on the Cleveland Browns as they prepare for their exhibition bow on Saturday against the Packers in Cheesecity USA.

The top news is the release of defensive lineman Shaun Smith,who quickly signed with the Lions.
Smith has never been a favorite of on the field or off and had a run in with Browns coach and former player (who in a touch of irony was a outspoken talker as a player) Bryan Cox,which led to his release.
Smith became a fan favorite in 2007 with his colorful weekly appearances on Browns Red Zone on Sports Time Ohio,but the bloom disappeared last season as Smith became surly with dissatisfied callers on the air and was rumored to have dropped Brady Quinn in a late season fight in the weight room.
The Quinn incident pretty much set the stage for the eventual release.
When you are an average player that often is out of shape,is mouthy as well and has issues with the QB of the future-the clock is ticking-it is just a matter of time.

The Browns moved quickly to add former Texans guard Fred Weary to replace Smith on the roster.
Weary was,at one time, a starter for Houston and adds depth to the line that was hit with a knee injury to Rex Hadnot.
Not sure what to believe on Hadnot's injury as I have heard things ranging from out until the opener and out for the year.
Weary should be a solid replacement at worst for Hadnot...

Cleveland also looks to have either David Patten or Mike Furrey in solid shape to make the team after Syndric Steptoe injured his labrum and will miss the season. The labrum
is a type of cartilage in the shoulder joint and usually is an injury that occurs to baseball pitchers.
The controversy on the Steptoe injury is that it occurred in the rain during a contact practice,when Steptoe was reported to have thought that it was a shirt and shorts style drill.
No word on a possible union grievance.
The battle for the receiver spot might come down to these battles for either one or two spots.
David Patten vs Mike Furrey as a needed veteran backup and Paul Hubbard vs Lance Leggett for the final spot,if they carry six.
Braylon Edwards,Josh Cribbs and rookies Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi are locks to make the squad.

The Browns lost corner Don Carey to Jacksonville after a shoulder injury that put him out for the season.The Browns attempted to slide Carey through waivers so they could then re-sign,but the Jaguars claimed him and placed Carey on their 80 man roster.
Carey was one of the Browns draft picks having been a sixth round selection from Norfolk State.

Look for a quick post that covers the basics of the Browns game at first and then a more detailed look a day or two after as I can break down the tape of the NFL Network replay....

Photo Credit
Logo:SportsLogos.net

Monday, August 10, 2009

Zach Von Rosenberg and Zach Dotson sign.

The Pirates added Zach Von Rosenberg and Zach Dotson to their 2009 draft bounty with signings that continue to add credibility to the draft plan by Neal Huntington and his staff..
I wondered if the Pirates would indeed go all in to sign some of these risky selections or would it be drafting to draft them and then pocket the saved money from overdrafting Tony Sanchez in Round one.
Well,my concerns were believable,but dead wrong.
All four of the pitchers (includes Colton Cain and Trent Stevenson) that were mentioned in the draft post were signed and signed with plenty of time remaining before the signing deadline,which means the Pirates have a few more days and a few more dollars to land another player or two before the bell clangs for the final time for the class of 2009.
Only time will tell whether the evaluation of talent was correct or not,but the Pirates did what they said what they would do and there is plenty of honor in that.

Von Rosenberg's deal was undisclosed,but expected to be in the 1.2 million range.
The 6'5 righthander wanted to be paid like a first round pick in order to renege on his LSU commitment and he was ,as he received a contract that was along the lines of the contract that the White Sox gave to 23rd overall pick Jared Mitchell.
Von Rosenberg throws in the 88-91 MPH range according to Wilbur Miller,but the Pirates project that to increase as he continues to fill out.
Wilbur adds that most teams believe in the "fill out,throw harder" projections and it doesn't turn out more often than not.

Dotson was the 4th rounder and highest pick of the four pitchers,but received the second lowest bonus (600,000) of the group.
Dotson was bought out of a commitment to Baylor to add the lefty arm to the Pirate farm group,throws in the low 90's and was reported to have had an inconsistent high school senior season despite a plus curveball.

The Pirates still (according to the Post-Gazette) have a little over a million dollars in their budget to add some extra talent over the next few days.
The top player on my list to add is Florida outfielder Matt den Dekker.
Den Dekker would be a top notch signing and would make sense to target when you consider the Pirates spending so much money on pitchers in the draft.
Three righthanded pitchers have intrigue that are still available to be signed.
12th rounder Jeffrey Inman struggled at Stanford after dealing with shoulder issues,but could be a nice gamble if the cost is right.
17th round pick Jordan Cooper would need to be bought out of a Kentucky promises,but would add another nice arm to the class.
29th rounder Michael Heller might have the best arm of the bunch,but would need to be talked into reneging on a Florida offer and his velocity was inconsistent last year.

Photo Credits
Von Rosenberg;Liz Condo-Baton Rouge Advocate
Dotson:Effingham Herald

Pirates-Good News edition


Lots of posts planned for the nest few days during off days,but for Pirate fans that are suffering from a eight game losing streak and some of those in games that should have been won,here is a few things that can be viewed as good news!

1) Want the top thing to be pleased about considering eight losses in a row with the next six in a row on the road vs playoff contenders?
While Pittsburgh has dropped eight games in a row,the Washington Nationals have won eight in a row!
This has made what seemed to be an improbable goal (Getting the top pick to draft Bryce Harper) possible.
In just eight days,the lead in the Harper derby has been whittled from 13 games to 5 and a half!
Pittsburgh has cut into Kansas City's margin in the second place spot to be just two games behind the Royals.
From what I have seen,this seems very doable.
Especially when you consider that Washington really doesn't want the top pick again considering the issues that they are having in signing Stephen Strasburg and seems to be going to all out to avoid this fate...

2) Tim Alderson tossed six no hit innings in his last start for Altoona before being removed via the pitch count.
Alderson has allowed just 1 run and 7 hits in 11+ innings since being brought over from the Giants...

3) Two more of the power arms from the "tough sign" club have been added to the system as Zach Von Rosenberg and Zach Dotson both signed contracts.
This not only adds two highly touted arms to the system,but gives the Pirates their allowed allotments of Zach's for one year.
I plan on a separate posts on these signings soon....

4) Despite the Pirates continuing to have bullpen collapses (due mainly to the Pirates not having a lefty reliever to match up with lefty bats),I continue to be impressed with Evan Meek.
Meek has the stuff to eventually close,the question is this-does he has the mental ability to close.
In any event,Meek has shown the gumption to fight back from his 2008 struggles and be a competent MLB performer...

5) Selfishly,it may not be early in 2010,but if the Pirates move Von Rosenberg,Dotson,Colton Cain and Trent Stevenson in the same fashion they are progressing Quinton Miller this season,West Virginia could be a lot of fun to scout in late 2010 and early in 2011.
Brings back memories of the Greensboro teams that brought Chris Volstad,Sean West,Ryan Tucker,Aaron Thompson and Brent Sinkbeil to town as the all first rounder rotation a few years back.
Not all of those guys made it and not all the Pirates signings will either,but when you have that many quality arm prospects,at least some of them will...

Bonus Round
When you look at the next six games and their start times,I should be able to see all six games and that means game recaps here.
I prefer to see the games instead of just looking at the box scores for thoughts,so the Colorado and Chicago series should be a return to the old days for a while!

Still more to come on the off days.
Here is what I have in the works.
A look at Zach Von Rosenberg and Zach Dotson.
A Forgotten Superstar segment.
Either Things that make me laugh Or Knives and Daggers.
A look at the Cleveland Browns in Berea and of course bullpen notes by the bundle!

Photo Credit
Jolly Roger: fullcountpitch.com