MLB: Will We See a Return of Bullpen Cars?

Major League Baseball released new rules to help speed up the game play which seems to be a big concern for new commissioner Rob Manfred. I like what they have done in terms of speeding up the in between inning happenings. This is how the KBO works albeit with a shorter clock between innings at two minutes in Korea.

I think the time limits they are given give the players plenty of time to move on and off the field and get ready for play the next half inning. They will now get 2:45 in nationally televised games and 2:25 for locally televised games. Plus I like that they are going to discourage longer lingering behavior through fines and warnings. This will hopefully cut down on unneeded practices, and I bet Nomar Garciaparra is glad he is no longer in the league.

My question is will there be a return of the much missed bullpen cars of old? Wouldn’t this keep some of the slower relief pitchers in the game from not having enough time to warm up? Many of the younger generation may not remember them, or maybe they only saw one in the movie Major League.

Bullpen Car Indians

It has been twenty years, wow has it been that long, since we have seen any sort of bullpen car. And the last one wasn’t even a car, it was a motorcycle with a sidecar courtesy of the Milwaukee Brewers. However, it does seem like there have been some sightings of bullpen cars in various minor league stops around the country and overseas. Perhaps the greatest one ever was dubbed the “tugboat” in Seattle

tugboat bullpen car Seattle

I do hope that the fine system is progressive in order to really hit hard the repeat offenders. For some the fine might have to get high before they take any corrective action.

There are more rules including a batter must keep a foot in the batter’s box between pitches, with some exceptions. There are also some changes to the replay rules.

For more information on these, you can view the press release by MLB here.

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MLB, MLBPA Announce Pace of Game Initiatives and Replay Modifications

Press Release by Major League Baseball

Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr., Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark and Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz, the Chairman of Major League Baseball’s Pace of Game and Instant Replay Committees, today jointly announced additions to the sport’s pace of game program, which will be effective in Spring Training, the regular season and the Postseason, and a series of modifications to the instant replay system. The World Umpires Association also has given its assent to the new efforts, which will be reviewed by the parties following the conclusion of the 2015 World Series.

PACE OF GAME

  • The pace of game program will enforce the batter’s box rule, requiring that all batters must keep at least one foot in the batter’s box unless one of a group of exceptions occurs. The new rule at the Major League level mirrors 6.02(d), which was in place in Minor League Baseball in 2014.
  • A second new component to the pace of game program is the addition of timers that will measure non-game action and break time between innings and pitching changes during each Major League game. One timer will be installed on or near the outfield scoreboard, and a smaller timer will be installed on the façade behind home plate near the press box. Immediately following the third out of each half-inning, the timer will count down from 2:25 for locally televised games and from 2:45 for nationally televised games. An MLB representative attending each game will operate the timers from the ballpark and will track the following events:

Time Remaining

Activity

40 Seconds

PA announces batter and begins to play walk-up music

30 Seconds

Pitcher throws final warm-up pitch

25 Seconds

Batter’s walk-up music ends

20 Seconds-5 Seconds

Batter enters the batter’s box

20 Seconds-0 Seconds

Pitcher begins motion to deliver pitch

  • Pitchers will be permitted to throw as many warm-up pitches as they wish prior to the point when 30 seconds remain on the clock; however, pitchers will be deemed to have forfeited any of their traditional eight warm-up pitches that they are unable to complete prior to the 30-second deadline. Exceptions to these rules will be made in a variety of circumstances, including if the pitcher or catcher ended the prior half-inning at bat or on base.
  • Batters will be encouraged to get into the batter’s box with 20 seconds remaining on the timer. This is the same time that the broadcasters return from commercial. The pitcher is expected to begin his motion to deliver the pitch as soon as the batter gets into the batter’s box and becomes alert to the pitcher. Batters who do not enter the box prior to five seconds remaining on the timer and pitchers who do not begin the motion to deliver the pitch prior to zero seconds remaining on the timer will be deemed to have violated the break timing rules.
  • These rules will be enforced through a warning and fine system, with discipline resulting for flagrant violators. No fines will be issued in Spring Training or in April of the 2015 regular season. Donations will be made to the Major League Baseball Players Trust charitable foundation based on the level of adherence to the new rules.

Commissioner Manfred said: “These changes represent a step forward in our efforts to streamline the pace of play. The most fundamental starting point for improving the pace of the average game involves getting into and out of breaks seamlessly. In addition, the batter’s box rule will help speed up a basic action of the game.”

Clark said: “The Players believe that enforcing the rules that currently exist regarding between inning breaks and plate appearances is the best way to address the issue of pace of play. We’re confident that today’s announcements will have a positive impact on the pace of the game without jeopardizing the integrity of the competition.”

Schuerholz said: “The Pace of Game Committee wants to take measured steps as we address this industry goal to quicken the pace of our great game. It is not an objective of ours to achieve a dramatic time reduction right away; it is more important to develop a culture of better habits and a structure with more exact timings for non-game action.”

Brian Lam, who represents the Major League Umpires, stated: “These strides to hone the pace of game over time will improve the natural rhythm of baseball, and we applaud and support the Players Association and the Commissioner’s Office as we all move toward this goal.”

INSTANT REPLAY MODIFICATIONS

  • Managers may now invoke instant replay from the dugout and will no longer be required to approach the calling umpire to challenge a call. Managers may hold play from the top step of the dugout by signaling to players and the home plate umpire that he is considering a challenge. A decision can be communicated verbally or with a hand signal. To challenge an inning-ending call, managers will be required to leave the dugout immediately in order to hold the defensive team on the field.
  • Whether a runner left the base early or properly touched a base on a tag-up play will be reviewable.
  • A manager will retain his challenge after every call that is overturned. Last year, a manager retained his challenge only after the first overturned call.
  • A manager must use a challenge in order to review whether a play at home plate included a violation of the rule governing home plate collisions. However, in the event that a manager is out of challenges after the start of the seventh inning, the Crew Chief may still choose to review whether there was a violation of the rule.
  • During Postseason games, regular season tiebreaker games and the All-Star Game, managers will now have two challenges per game.
  • Instant replay will not be utilized during 2015 Spring Training, but it will be in place for exhibition games at Major League ballparks prior to the start of the 2015 regular season.

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MLB: Pitchers and Catchers Start Reporting Today for Various Teams

And it begins.

The first teams reported for spring training today. Well the pitchers and catchers did. This may not seem like a big day to many, but it marks the first day toward what everyone is waiting for…..Opening Day.

Opening Night is Sunday April 5th with the Cubs and Cardinals facing off at Wrigley Field. The following day is when the rest of the league will get started with a full slate of games.

Not sure when your team will report? Well here is a list courtesy of SpringTrainingOnline.com.

2015 Spring Training Reporting Dates: Major-League Teams

Organization Pitchers & Catchers First
Workout
Position
Players
First full workout
Arizona D-Backs Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
Atlanta Braves Feb. 20 Feb. 21 Feb. 25 Feb. 26
Baltimore Orioles Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
Boston Red Sox Feb. 20 Feb. 21 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
Chicago Cubs Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
Chicago White Sox Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 23 Feb. 24
Cincinnati Reds Feb. 18 Feb. 19 Feb.23 Feb. 24
Cleveland Indians Feb. 18 Feb. 20 Feb. 22 Feb. 24
Colorado Rockies Feb. 20 Feb. 21 Feb. 26 Feb. 27
Detroit Tigers Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 23 Feb. 24
Houston Astros Feb. 20 Feb. 21 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
Kansas City Royals Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
Los Angeles Angels Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
Los Angeles Dodgers Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 24
Feb. 25
Miami Marlins Feb. 20 Feb. 21 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
Milwaukee Brewers Feb. 20 Feb. 21 Feb. 25 Feb. 26
Minnesota Twins Feb. 22 Feb. 23 Feb. 27 Feb. 28
New York Mets Feb. 19 Feb. 21 Feb. 24 Feb. 26
New York Yankees Feb. 20 Feb. 21 Feb. 25 Feb. 26
Oakland Athletics Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
Philadelphia Phillies Feb. 18 Feb. 19 Feb. 23 Feb. 24
Pittsburgh Pirates Feb. 18 Feb. 19 Feb. 23 Feb. 24
St. Louis Cardinals Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
San Diego Padres Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
San Francisco Giants Feb. 18 Feb. 19 Feb. 23 Feb. 24
Seattle Mariners Feb. 20 Feb. 21 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
Tampa Bay Rays Feb. 21 Feb. 22 Feb. 26 Feb. 27
Texas Rangers Feb. 20 Feb. 21 Feb. 25 Feb. 26
Toronto
Blue Jays
Feb. 22 Feb. 23 Feb. 26 Feb. 27
Washington
Nationals
Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 24 Feb. 25

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MLB: Alex Rodriguez Apologizes in Letter

On Tuesday Alex Rodriguez released a statement via a letter apologizing to the fans, his teammates, and the Yankees organization.

How fitting that the day Arod refuses the Yankees offer to use Yankee Stadium for a press conference that Anthony Bosch, the clinic’s founder, was sentenced to four years in federal prison for illegally supplying steroids.

The Yankees still owe Rodriguez some $61 million over the remaining three years of his career. He enters the 2015 season at the age of 39 having sat out the entire 2014 season.

Let’s forget about the need of the Yankees for him to return to something that resembles his former self. Instead I’d like to focus on the fact that Rodriguez took the easy way out, again, by not facing the press. The Yankees wanted him to apologize before spring training started to avoid the circus. This just isn’t going to cut it. Expect day one of spring training to be a circus regardless.

If you have not read what is in the letter, I feel the best way is to hear it read in the voice of Morgan Freeman. After all, Alex is just a huge joke anyway, and this is really funny.

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Today in Baseball History – February 17th

February 17, 1964

Former Chicago White Sox shortstop Luke Appling is elected into the Hall of Fame.

Appling was a seven-time All-Star who collected 2,749 hits over his career. His career was interrupted by World War II in 1944-45.

He won two batting titles (1936 & 1943) and was a good leadoff hitter for many years topping the .400 mark in OBP eight times.

Born on this day:

1893 Wally Pipp

1915 Rod Dedeaux

1944 Dick Bosman

Died on this day:

1986 Red Ruffing

1989 Lefty Gomez

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MLB: 1920s Footage of Babe, Ty, Dazzy, and the Big Train

If you missed Jonah Keri’s article over at Grantland the other day, well you missed something good. Keri took a stroll through the MLB Production headquarters recently and got to see how all the old film is getting digitized.

But the best part was he shared some of the stuff he saw.

Probably the most popular out of the short videos he shared was just under two and a half minutes, but it features four of the greatest players to ever don a uniform in Dazzy Vance, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Walter Johnson.

It is such a great video, in what has been called an instructional video by many because of the content, but it is great in that it shows these great players as human. Here you can see Babe Ruth taking horrible swings we have all taken popping up balls, or Ty Cobb lunging at a ball. But you be the judge. Here is the video.

You can check out the other footage Keri shows off in his article here. It includes a young Bryce Harper playing junior college ball, some 1982 Montreal Expos highlights, some 50’s Reds spring training action, and my favorite some footage of the 1905 Giants.

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MLB: Miami Marlins to Host 2017 Midsummer Classic

According to a report from the Miami Herald, the Miami Marlins will host its first MLB All-Star Game in 2017. This will mark three straight years of NL teams hosting the game with Cincinnati this summer and San Diego in 2016.

The Marlins were to hold the 2000 All-Star Game but were stripped of that honor after the team won the 1997 World Series and subsequently had a fire sale ridding itself of all its high priced talent. Instead, Atlanta held the game in 2000.

Marlins Park opened in 2012 after the team left Pro Player Stadium where it hosted games along with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

New commissioner Rob Manfred has stated in the past he would like to start a bidding process for the midsummer classic, but outgoing commissioner Bud Selig had already made certain promises to teams with newly built stadiums.

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USA: ABCA Officially Supports Pitch Smart

Press Release USA Baseball

The American Baseball Coaches Association board of directors votes unanimously

DURHAM, N.C. — USA Baseball, Major League Baseball and the American Baseball Coaches Association announced on Tuesday that the ABCA is officially supporting USA Baseball and MLB’s joint youth arm care safety initiative, Pitch Smart. The announcement follows the ABCA’s board of directors unanimously voting in favor of supporting the initiative that was launched in late 2014.

“Major League Baseball is pleased that the ABCA has endorsed the Pitch Smart pitching safety program,” said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who received the 2015 ABCA Honor Award on January 4, 2015 at the ABCA Convention. “Keeping pitchers healthy should be a common goal of everyone in baseball. Pitch Smart is a great example of the entire baseball community, professional and amateur, coming together to make our game better.”

The Association is involved in numerous programs that promote the integrity of the profession and the development of the game of baseball, and, each January, the ABCA hosts the largest baseball convention in the world. Approximately 4,000 coaches attend the convention, which is held at various locations around the country. The 2015 iteration was attended by commissioner, Rob Manfred, as he continues to further engage the amateur baseball community.

“With its endorsement of Pitch Smart, it is clear that the American Baseball Coaches Association is making player health and safety a priority in everything it does,” said USA Baseball’s executive director/CEO, Paul Seiler. “It is the support of the ABCA and other organizations that confirms our belief that baseball has united in protecting our young athletes.”

The ABCA is committed to the success and growth of baseball through youth baseball. In the past 12 years, thousands of young people have gone through ABCA sponsored youth clinics. Each year, several hundred young players attend ABCA clinics in Montgomery, Alabama; Lewiston, Idaho; and Grand Junction, Colorado.

“The ABCA is proud to endorse Pitch Smart along with Major League Baseball and USA Baseball,” said ABCA executive director, Craig Keilitz. “Education is one of our organization’s cornerstones and the health and safety of our young players is a major priority. Pitch Smart provides clear guidelines for our coaches, particularly those who are new to the profession, and we look forward to being involved in the further development of this initiative for years to come.”

The ABCA, founded in 1945, is the primary professional organization for baseball coaches at the amateur level. Its over 6,600 members represent all 50 states and 24 countries. Since its initial meeting of 27 college baseball coaches in June 1945, Association membership has broadened to include eight divisions: NCAA Division I, II and III, NAIA, Junior College, Pacific Association Division, High School and Youth.

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MLB: New Commissioner Manfred Open to Eliminating Defensive Shifts

Okay commissioner Manfred, let’s slow down and take a deep breath. I like the idea of speeding up the game. No it will never be basketball or hockey. Baseball is a talking sport. That is one of the beauties of it. To be able to reflect and talk with people around you during a game. It adds to the drama. That doesn’t mean it can’t be sped up some. When I lived in Korea I saw games with time limits between innings and I really liked it. There was a clock on the scoreboard and you had two minutes. Things like this can be used to speed up games.

But, let’s not go talking about eliminating defensive shifts. If you want to add more offense to the game, that is not the way to go about it in my opinion. Apparently the people who are playing the game feel there is enough offense or they would do something else. There is a simple way to go about changing it, if the teams want to, bunt. A few hits the other way or bunts laid down will stop the shifts. The players are up there trying to hit home runs because that is what they are paid to do. This is why they continue to hit into the shift.

If you want to change it, start emphasizing something other than just a home run. When people realize that a few hits the other way, or bunts that way, will stop those shifts. I don’t feel that the game should be regulated like this. I think it is a terrible step in the wrong direction. I know it is only talk for now and only a thought, but it is a bad one.

Continue working on speeding up the game, but don’t force teams into things like this. I’m actually looking forward to what the new commish can accomplish.

Here is the interview on ESPN where Manfred talked about eliminating the shifts.

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Baseball Bloggers Alliance Recommends Seven for the Hall of Fame

Press Release by Baseball Bloggers Alliance

BBA Binary Ballot Recommends Seven For Cooperstown

Seven players from the 2014 Baseball Writers of America ballot were recommended for enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame by the members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance on Friday.

Given the backlog of quality players on the ballot, this year the BBA adopted the plan suggested by St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Derrick Goold of a binary ballot.  Each player on the ballot was given a yes or no vote by the BBA voters and those receiving over 75% were then recommended.

With this format, pitcher Randy Johnson received 100% of the vote while pitcher Pedro Martinez was close behind at 95%.  Others that topped the 75% mark were catcher/second baseman/outfielder Craig Biggio (90%), pitcher John Smoltz (89%), catcher Mike Piazza (85%), first baseman Jeff Bagwell (77%) and outfielder Tim Raines (77%).

Those that just fell short of the mark were designated hitter Edgar Martinez (71%) and pitcher Curt Schilling (68%).

The rest of the voting was as follows:

Mike Mussina 67%
Barry Bonds 65%
Roger Clemens 63%
Alan Trammell 53%
Jeff Kent 44%
Gary Sheffield 38%
Larry Walker 37%
Fred McGriff 33%
Mark McGwire 33%
Don Mattingly 31%
Lee Smith 31%
Sammy Sosa 23%
Carlos Delgado 19%
Nomar Garciaparra 13%
Cliff Floyd 4%
Brian Giles 4%
Rich Aurilia 3%
Darin Erstad 3%
Troy Percival 3%
Aaron Boone 1%
Jason Schmidt 1%
Jermaine Dye 0%
Tom Gordon 0%
Eddie Guardado 0%

Using this binary method, only 13% turned in a ballot with less than 10 names selected.  40% turned in a ballot with 15 or more names selected, with a high of 20.

The official website of the BBA is located at baseballbloggersalliance.wordpress.com. The BBA can be found on Twitter by the handle @baseballblogs and by the hashmark #bbba.  For more information, contact Niko Goutakolis at baseballbloggersalliance@gmail.com.

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MLB: A Look Back at 2014 Predictions

With the playoffs kicking off I thought it would be a fun project to take a look back at who I predicted would win. Here is my post from March.

I picked the Dodgers to win it all, which is still a decent pick. I actually picked four of the five National League teams, although I didn’t necessarily get them right in who wins and who makes it in via the Wild Card. In the American League, I only got two of the five.

Here were my picks in March:

AL East
1. Tampa Bay Rays (I still want to write Devil Rays)
2. *Boston Red Sox

AL Central
1. Detroit Tigers

AL West
1. Texas Rangers
2. *Oakland A’s

I couldn’t have been more off on the Rangers, but you can never predict injuries. The AL East I was totally wrong as well only getting Detroit and the A’s as a Wild Card. I predicted Tampa Bay over Detroit in the ALCS. One of those teams might make it there, but if I had to pick right now Detroit wouldn’t make it that far.

NL East
1. Atlanta Braves
2. *Washington Nationals

NL Central
1. Pittsburgh Pirates
2. *St. Louis Cardinals

NL West
1. Los Angeles Dodgers

My Atlanta Braves let me down this year. I think this was more of a homer pick than any other. I actually have LA defeating Pitt in the NLCS with LA winning it all in six games. I’m still confident that LA might make the World Series but time will tell. My picks this  year were much better than in the past. It will be interesting to see just how good they turn out in the end.

If you had to pick today, who do you think would win?

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A Few Thoughts on the Great Tony Gwynn

For the past few days we have all seen some great tributes to the great Mr. Padre, Tony Gwynn. He will definitely be missed but I feel a lot of the tributes are overlooking one thing. His impact at the amateur level.

As we all know now, and many may not have known before, Gwynn was the head coach of the San Diego State University Aztecs. It was here that he made a profound impact on, not only the game, but on the lives of young men. SDSU may not have reached the powerhouse status of some other California schools, but it made great strides while he was at the helm. He led them to the NCAA tournament three times (2009, 2013, 2014). It was the first time they reached the postseason since 1991.

Gwynn’s love of baseball was something that was simply fun to watch. As a guy who grew up not watching much Padre baseball, he was always one I loved, but disliked seeing because he was so good, watching play my favorite team the Atlanta Braves.

When I picture Gwynn I see two things. First of all, I see him lining a baseball into the left-centerfield gap for a stand up double. He was such a great hitter and used all the field so well. I always wondered how many home runs he would have hit if he just decided to load up and pull the ball more. But that wasn’t him. Secondly, I remember well him with Ted Williams at the 1999 All-Star Game in Boston. That was one of the great moments in baseball history during my lifetime and probably will never be matched.

I do not want to get into an argument about how great a hitter Tony Gwynn was. He was great. Or if he was better than this player or that player. Gwynn had one of the best swings I’ve ever seen and was simply an amazing hitter for anyone’s generation. His numbers speak for themselves. That is where I will leave that.

If you have a few minutes I highly recommend you checking out the MLB video of the Padres tribute. It was a touching moment and I loved that they included the Aztecs in the tribute, even his Aztec jersey in the dugout. You can watch it here.

Over at Friarhood.com you can purchase a t-shirt in honor of Tony Gwynn. They have two very cool shirts with proceeds going to a charity. They do great work over there covering the Padres. Below is the graphic on one of the shirts.

BqXu7TyCMAAmVd8

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MLB Draft: Should the Astros Draft Rendon or Aiken #1 Overall?

The Houston Astros aren’t the doormat of the American League anymore. Okay let’s not get carried away, because they still aren’t very good. They still might be one of the worst teams in baseball, but don’t count them out forever. They are putting together a lot of good young talent which comes when you have the first pick in the draft year after year.

The past two years the Astros have had the first pick in the draft. In 2012 they drafted Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa who is currently tearing it up at the high Single-A level for the Lancaster Jethawks. In 2013, the Astros drafted highly regarded Stanford pitcher Mark Appel. Appel struggled to start the 2014 season but pitched well after being drafted last summer. He has a lot of upside and might be in the big leagues before too long.

Three years ago the Astros only had the #11 pick, but they made the most of it drafting George Springer. Springer would be the Astros #1 prospect had he not been called up to the big leagues earlier this year. So far in 2014 he is tearing it up for a rookie already with 10 home runs in just under 200 at bats.

This year I think tells a lot with where the Astros feel they are at at the big league level. The top two picks in most mock drafts are both left handed starting pitchers. One is a high school phenom in Brady Aiken, and the other is college standout Carlon Rondon from North Carolina State University.

Aiken is highly thought of and has a huge upside. However, Rondon may be closer to the big leagues. This is where I feel the Astros have to make a big decision. Do they choose Rondon in hopes that he could join Appel and the other rising stars in the Astros farm system in just a few years in Houston? Or do they choose Aiken and let him get some seasoning in the minors.

Aiken may take longer to get to the big leagues, but he might have a higher ceiling. Whereas Rondon might still become a quality front of the rotation starter and might do it a bit quicker than the high school pitcher.

The history of high school left handed pitchers going #1 overall has seen some bumps in the road. See David Clyde and Brien Taylor. However, this shouldn’t be taken into much consideration for Houston.

I think the Astros should take Rondon simply because he is further along in his development. Then again I am more of a proponent of taking college pitchers over high schoolers in the first few rounds, especially if you have the first pick. I think the pick will give a slight insight into where the Astros see themselves. Are they still 5+ years away from contending? Then perhaps they should stick with Aiken and go with the younger pitcher. If they feel they are five or less years away from contending, then I would go with Rondon. He gives you the better option to help out a team at the big league level in under five years. That doesn’t mean he will be the ace of the staff in three years. He still needs some polishing, but he is closer than Aiken even if Aiken has a higher upside as many people feel.

No matter who they take, it should be an interesting draft. There are some others I am anxious to see where they wind up like the hard throwing high schooler out of Texas Tyler Kolek. Or who ever drafts Alex Jackson, do they see him as a catcher or an outfielder? There is a lot of talent in the draft this year.

Who do you think the Astros should draft #1 overall?

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Fan Duel – A New Way to Play Fantasy Baseball

So I am hooked on something that isn’t necessarily new, but it is new to me – Fan Duel.

I used to play fantasy baseball every year. I even managed to win a few times (I have a banner from an ESPN league somewhere), but eventually I had to stop. I simply put in too much time and let it get in the way of other things.

These days I don’t change lineups every day depending on who is playing. I don’t even play every day. I only play when I have time and usually when I have some time to actually watch the games which for me these days is only a couple times a week. So I don’t feel the need to do it every day, and I am winning a few dollars.

FanDuel.com is a gambling site. So if you are not into gambling it might not be for you, but you can also play for free. There are multiple ways to play. I usually play head-to-head or in a 50/50 league and only for small stakes. But it is fun.

Each player is assigned a value and then you have $35,000 to purchase players ranging from $2,000 to nearly $10,000. You earn points for what they do on the field and the winners win actual money. You never get stuck with the guy who is on the DL because you pick your lineups daily.

I like it and even though it is not going to pay the rent, it might buy me an occasional beer or two. If you sign up through one of the links on our site, we get a small commission which helps keep our site up and running. You can even challenge your friends. I do it all the time. So if you sign up through us, send us an email and we can do a challenge together (low stakes of course – I’m not a high roller).

If you play, I’d like to hear what you think of it. Leave a comment below and let us know.

download

 

 

 

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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2014 MLB Predictions

Every year people throw out predictions for the year. I love doing this as well even though I never come close to what actually happens. It is not an easy thing to do to predict how teams will perform over six months time. But alas it is still a fun thing to do. So here we go, the Baseball de World 2014 MLB Predictions.

* Wild Card Teams

AL East

1. Tampa Bay Rays (I still want to write Devil Rays)
2. *Boston Red Sox
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. New York Yankees
5. Toronto Blue Jays

This might be the most closely contested division in baseball. From one to four the separation won’t be that much. I like the Rays to win the division based on their good young pitching and hitting and their leader Joe Madden.

AL Central

1. Detroit Tigers
2. Cleveland Indians
3. Kansas City Royals
4. Chicago White Sox
5. Minnesota Twins

The upper part of this division is good. I’m not sold completely on the Royals like some others I have seen. However, the last two teams are terrible. It is Detroit’s division to lose and the Indians will make it close most of the season but I see the Tigers claiming the Central crown again.

AL West

1. Texas Rangers
2. *Oakland A’s
3. Anaheim Angels
4. Seattle Mariners
5. Houston Astros

Okay, so this may be a bit of a homer pick. I kept going back and forth between the Rangers and A’s with the other team getting the wild card. I know the Rangers pitching is hurt but I think the guys filling in will do better than most expect. Plus everyone that is hurt will not be out too long aside from the Dutch Oven.

AL Wild Card Game – Boston over Oakland
AL Division Series – Detroit over Boston & Tampa Bay over Texas
AL Championship Series – Tampa Bay over Detroit

NL East

1. Atlanta Braves
2. *Washington Nationals
3. Miami Marlins
4. Philadelphia Phillies
5. New York Mets

Again this might be a bit of a homer call, but I think both the Braves and Nationals make the playoffs. I know the Braves have some issues with the rotation, but I think they have enough in some good young arms to keep in the race. Plus I think their offense will be better this year. I mean B.J. Upton can’t be as bad as last year can he? Braves fans better hope not.

NL Central

1. Pittsburgh Pirates
2. *St. Louis Cardinals
3. Cincinnati Reds
4. Milwaukee Brewers
5. Chicago Cubs

I really hate to give the Cards the Central crown even though they may be the best team. I think both the Pirates and Cards make the playoffs with the rest of the league battling for mediocrity. The Reds may be decent and surprise some people, but the Brewers and Cubs will be terrible.

NL West

1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. San Francisco Giants
3. San Diego Padres
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
5. Colorado Rockies

Top to bottom I think the Dodgers are the best team in baseball. Will they beat themselves again this year? It remains to be seen but they will be in the playoffs.

AL Wild Card Game – St. Louis over Washington
AL Division Series – Los Angeles over St. Louis & Pittsburgh over Atlanta
AL Championship Series – Los Angeles over Pittsburgh

World Series – Los Angeles Dodgers over Tampa Bay Rays in six games.

Posted in MLB, N. America1 Comment

Australia Releases Final Roster to Face Diamondbacks and Dodgers

Baseball Australia has announced the final roster for the team that will meet the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks at the Sydney Cricket Ground on March 20 and March 21. The team, newly named Southern Thunder, is led by MLB pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith (Arizona Diamondbacks) and former MLB outfielder Trent Oeltjen (Sydney Blue Sox).

Joining Oeltjen in the lineup will be power hitting Stefan Welch (Boston Red Sox) and Mike Walker (Milwaukee Brewers). The team features several other players with MLB experience including Luke Hughes and Justin Huber.

The Southern Thunder will take on the Dodgers on Thursday March 20th before taking on the Diamondbacks on Friday March 21st.

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Posted in MLB, N. America, News, Oceania0 Comments

Possible Changes in the Posting Process for Japanese Players

David Lennon of Newsday.com has reported that changes are apparent in the Japanese player posting system. They are reporting that the changes could come as early as November.

The new process will be more player-friendly and could greatly benefit Rakuten Golden Eagles ace Masahiro Tanaka.

The current process features a bidding process where the highest bidder from MLB has the right to negotiate with the player.  The winner of the sealed bidding process has a specific window to negotiate and sign the player. However, that all could change very soon.

One proposal has the player being allowed to choose three teams among the top bidders with the player then allowed to negotiate with the team he would like to play for.

You can read more from the Newsday.com article here.

Posted in Asia, MLB, N. America, News0 Comments

Texas Rangers to Hold Fundraiser for Christopher Lane Memorial Fund

Nearly a month has passed since the tragic death of Australian baseball player Christopher Lane was maliciously murdered by “bored” teens.

There have been numerous benefits set up to honor the teen who was playing college ball in Oklahoma. And now another is being set up by the Texas Rangers.

The Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation and the Wives Club are going to hold a special fundraiser during a game with the Angels on September 28th. Part of the proceeds will go toward the Christopher Lane Memorial Fund.

The fund was set up by friends and the Essendon Baseball Club of Australia to help pay for funeral and travel costs to repatriate Christopher. However, the fund raised over $150,000 and will now create an ongoing legacy using the raised funds.

During the Rangers fundraiser fans will be able to purchase grab bags for $50, $100, or $200 that will contain autographed items from Rangers players. In addition to the grab bags, a silent auction is being set up for autographed jerseys of Australian born players Travis Blackley and the A’s Grant Balfour.

For more information you can visit TexasRangers.com.

Posted in MLB, N. America, News, Oceania0 Comments

MLB Says No to Cuba in Caribbean Series

In mid-June Cuba said it would rejoin the Caribbean Series after a 53-year absence. However, that may now be in jeopardy thanks to Major League Baseball.

A Major League Baseball official told the organizers of the Caribbean Series that it would not cooperate with the 2014 tournament if Cuba is allowed to play.

Consent from MLB is crucial since many of the players that play for the teams are under contract to MLB clubs. But the Baseball Confederation of the Caribbean is working on obtaining a license from the US Government to allow a Cuban team in the 2014 tournament scheduled for February 1-7 in Venezuela.

In the early years of the tournament, Cuba was dominant. It won seven titles from 1949-1960. Then Fidel Castro took over, and he dissolved professional baseball canceling the 1961 tournament. After a nine year absence, the tournament restarted in 1970 without Cuba. That is how it has been ever since.

So earlier this year when it was announced that Cuba would rejoin the Series, there were many people who were very excited. Now that all may be in jeopardy because of two governments that can’t get along.

Another hitch in the plan is the plan for the Caribbean Series to return to the United States in another four years or so. The Series has been in talks with the Miami Marlins about the possibility of using their stadium to return to the area where the tournament was played as recent as 1991.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that Cuba participates in the World Baseball Classic, which partly takes place in the USA. So many are asking why MLB would try to ban a team from Cuba from playing in the Caribbean Series when it is allowed in the WBC.

It was announced on MLB’s official website on June 11 that Cuba would be joining the Series. Just over a month later, MLB sent out an ultimatum to the Confederation.

According to Diario Libre, which obtained a copy of the letter dated July 15, MLB Vice President of Operations Kim Ng wrote to Puello that MLB would grant the Confederation 24 hours to retract its agreement with Cuba. Otherwise, MLB will decline to sign its annual Caribbean Series agreement with the Confederation. U.S. sanctions, Ng said in the letter, require MLB to apply for licenses, and there is not enough time to do so before the tournament.¹

It appears that the Confederation has until August 15 to rescind the invitation to Cuba. If they fail to do so by that day, MLB will be unable to sign the annual agreement for the 2014 tournament.

¹ Cuba Standard (2013-08-07) “MLB threatens to pull plug on Caribbean Series over Cuba

Posted in Latin, MLB, N. America, News0 Comments

How Big is the Home Field Advantage in the World Series?

Since the 7-7 tie at the 2002 All-Star Game in Milwaukee, the winner of the Summer Classic has been awarded home field advantage for the World Series. So the fans decide the players of the teams that play for the advantage in the biggest series of the year. But how big of an advantage is it?

Let’s take a look at how the home and visiting teams have done over the course of time.

The current format of 2-3-2 started in 1924, with the exception of three years. In 1943 and 1944, the World Series used a 3-4 format due to World War II travel restrictions. And in 1994, there was no World Series due to the strike. Over those 85 World Series the team with the home field advantage have won 50 times. That is just 58.8% of the time. That may not seem like a huge advantage, and mathematically this might be a small sample size, but if I’m in the series I’ll take any advantage I can get.

However, if we look at more recent trends, the team with home field advantage has won 24 times since 1981. That is 31 World Series and a rate of 77.4%. Perhaps when MLB decided to give the winner the home field, they were looking at recent trends.

You might be thinking, well it only matters if they go to a Game 7. While I would disagree that it is more than that, let’s take a look at how teams have done in Game 7’s.

Since 1924 the World Series has gone to a Game 7 a total of 24 times. The team with the home field advantage has a record of 18-16. There was a huge shift in this trend since 1980. Prior to that year, the home team went 9-16 in Game 7’s. Since, they have gone 9-0.

While trends will change from time to time, the current trend leans heavily on the home team.

But what has happened since the change after the 2002 All-Star Game? The home team has gone 7-3 and won the only Game 7 that has been played since then.

So does having home field really give a team the advantage? I’ll leave that for you to decide. It may not be as big as people think, but I do think there is something to it in the end. There are so many outside factors that go into each series that will determine the winner. The home field is just one of those many factors.

Should the fans vote in the All-Star players to determine who gets home field advantage? That’s another story for another day that we will look at soon, but I’d love to hear what you think.

Posted in MLB, N. America0 Comments

MLB All-Star Futures Game Rosters Announced

Press Release Major League Baseball
Rosters Feature 11 Former First Round Picks; World Team Includes Players from 10 Different Countries and Territories Outside the United States
Rosters for the 15th annual SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game were announced today by Major League Baseball.The SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, which is now in its 15th year, features the top Minor League prospects competing in a nine-inning contest as part of Taco Bell All-Star Sunday. The U.S. Team leads the all-time series, 8-6. The game will begin at 2:00 p.m. (EDT) and can be viewed live on ESPN2, ESPN2 HD and MLB.com.SiriusXM, the Official Satellite Radio Partner of Major League Baseball, will provide live play-by-play coverage of the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on MLB Network Radio (XM channel 89; Sirius channel 209) in addition to SiriusXM’s other comprehensive live coverage from New York. The game will also be available to SiriusXM subscribers on the SiriusXM Internet Radio App for smart phones and mobile devices and online at SiriusXM.com. Taco Bell All-Star Sunday is the first of three days of All-Star events at Citi Field, culminating with the 84th All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 16th.

Major League Baseball, in conjunction with the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau, MLB.com, Baseball America and the 30 Major League Clubs, selected the 25 players currently on each team. Each Major League organization is represented and players from all full-season Minor Leagues were eligible to participate.

The teams feature 11 former first round draft picks (U.S. – 10; World – 1), eight players picked in Compensation Round A (all U.S.) and four second round picks (all U.S.). Among the 11 first round picks, six were selected in the 2011 Draft, three in the 2010 Draft and two in the 2012 Draft. The World Team features players from 10 different countries and territories outside the 50 United States. The Dominican Republic is represented by 13 players, followed by Colombia (2), Cuba (2) and Puerto Rico (2). Aruba, Brazil, Canada, Panama, Taiwan and Venezuela are each represented by one player on the World Team.

For the first time, fans will determine the final player on both the U.S. and World Team rosters by casting their votes in the All-Star Sunday Futures Finalists (#FuturesFinalists) ballot, available exclusively on MLB.com/futuresfinalists and the Club sites. Fans may begin voting immediately and cast their ballots until Sunday, June 30th at 11:59 p.m. (EDT).

The five candidates for the U.S. are: OF Tyler Austin (Trenton/NYY; #VoteAustin); OF Nick Castellanos (Toledo/DET; #VoteCastellanos); 3B Garin Cecchini (Portland/BOS; #VoteCecchini); OF Courtney Hawkins (Winston-Salem/CWS; #VoteHawkins); and OF Brandon Nimmo (Savannah/NYM; #VoteNimmo). The players vying for the final roster spot on the World Team are: SS Javier Baez (Dayton/CHI; Puerto Rico; #VoteBaez); 1B Ji-Man Choi (Jackson/SEA; South Korea; #VoteChoi); SS Carlos Correa (Quad Cities/HOU; Puerto Rico; #VoteCorrea); 3B Renato Nunez (Beloit/OAK; Venezuela; #VoteNunez); and 2B Rougned Odor (Myrtle Beach/TEX; Venezuela; #VoteOdor).

In addition to voting on the web, fans also may use their mobile phones to cast votes via text message. To receive the All-Star Sunday Futures Finalists ballot, text the word “VOTE” to 89269. Individual player votes may be cast directly via text by sending a player’s code to 89269. For example, Text “U3″ to vote for U.S. Team Player 3. Player codes are as follows: Austin (U1), Cecchini (U2), Castellanos (U3), Hawkins (U4), Nimmo (U5), Baez (W1), Choi (W2), Correa (W3), Nunez (W4) and Odor (W5). All votes are final. Standard rate text messaging fees apply (check with mobile carriers for details).

The SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game will last nine innings, and in the event of a tie, a 10th inning will be played. The game will not go longer than 10 innings, regardless of the score. Players and coaches will be outfitted in special SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game jerseys and will wear caps of their Major League organization with a SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game logo embroidered on the side.

The Minor League Baseball Umpires who will work the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game are Pat Hoberg (home plate) of the Pacific Coast League, Gabe Morales (first base) of the International League, Ryan Goodman (second base) of the Southern League and Nic Lentz (third base) of the Eastern League.

Ninety-nine players have competed in both the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. In 2012, 30 Major League All-Stars were alumni of the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. Nine players – Jose Altuve, Adam Dunn, Neftali Feliz, Jason Heyward, Bryce Harper, Francisco Liriano, Evan Longoria, Ben Sheets and Geovany Soto – appeared in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and were named to the All-Star Game in the following season.

Posted in MLB, N. America, News0 Comments

Major League Baseball Opens 2014 Season in Sydney, Australia

For the first time in MLB history, the season will open up in Australia come 2014 when the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks open the season in Sydney.

The two-game series will take place at the Sydney Cricket Ground on March 22-23.

Both teams will open the doors to their training schedule as they will be in Australia for six days but play only two games.

This is a huge deal for Australia where baseball is slowly growing. There have been 31 Australian Major Leaguers over the years, and one currently plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers in Peter Moylan.

The Australian Baseball League was reborn during the 2010-2011 season. The league consists of six teams spread out around the country with one in Sydney.

The Major League games will take place after the 2013-2014 ABL season which runs from November to February. This will only hope to keep the baseball game growing both helping the ABL and the Australian National Team.

What it is guaranteed to help is the economy in Sydney. Bringing in money and improvements to the Sydney Cricket Ground which will be renovated to meed Major League standings prior to the opening series.

The games will also take place during the 100th anniversary of an exhibition game between the Chicago White Sox and the New York Giants that took place at the same venue.

Posted in MLB, N. America, News, Oceania0 Comments

MLB Advanced Media, YouTube Team Up to Offer Fans More Baseball

Archival footage to include thousands of hours of videos, in-season highlights and classic games; Two daily live games also accessible in select countries

Press Release Major League Baseball

MLB Advanced Media, L.P. (MLBAM), the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball, and YouTube today announced they’re teaming up to offer fans an expanded array of licensed Major League Baseball video content on the official MLB.com YouTube channel.

MLBAM, which has been streaming live and on-demand video on MLB.com for more than a decade, originally joined YouTube in 2005 as one of the earliest YouTube Sports partners. In 2010, MLBAM began offering full-game archives and highlight reels on a YouTube channel accessible exclusively in Australia, Brazil, Japan, New Zealand and Russia. The updatedMLB.com Channel on YouTube expands much of that content to a global audience.

This MLB.com YouTube channel will include highlight clips from every MLB game in 2013 as well as thousands of hours from MLBAM’s archives. In-season highlights will be available approximately two days after the respective games have been completed. Videos from MLB.com’s Baseball’s Best Moments library also will be included.

MLBAM also will live stream two live games daily during the regular season, available for free and accessible exclusively outside of its core live video distribution territories: North America, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

“Fans around the world are getting more Major League Baseball video than ever before on YouTube, continuing to make YouTube a daily sports destination,” said Frank Golding, Director of North America Sports Content Partnerships.

“Expanding our partnership with YouTube provides another platform for extending the reach of the thousands of hours of archived baseball content in our library and for delivering live baseball games via the Internet to fans in new markets around the world,” said Kenny Gersh, Senior Vice President, Business Development, MLBAM.

Posted in MLB, N. America, News0 Comments

MLB Announces Details for 2013 Amateur Draft

Day One on Thursday, June 6th to Feature Top 73 Selections Live From Studio 42 at MLB Network and Simulcast on MLB.com; Astros Select First Overall; Marlins, Yankees Each Hold Four Picks on Day On 

Press Release Major League Baseball

Major League Baseball will hold day one of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft on Thursday, June 6th at MLB Network’s Studio 42 in Secaucus, New Jersey.  The Draft will begin live on MLB Network and MLB.com at 7:00 p.m. (ET).  Prior to the start of the Draft, MLB Network will air a Draft preview show, also simulcast on MLB.com, at 6:00 p.m. (ET).

The selection order of the First-Year Player Draft is determined by the reverse order of finish at the close of the previous championship season.  The Houston Astros will have the first overall selection of the 2013 Draft, marking the second consecutive year, and the fourth time in Club history, that they hold the top selection (previous: 1976, 1992, 2012).  It also marks the second time ever that a Club has the top pick in back-to-back years, joining the Washington Nationals, who held the first selection in 2009 and 2010.  The New York Yankees have a league-high three first round picks (26th, 32nd and 33rd overall).  Four Clubs have two first round picks: the Pittsburgh Pirates (9th and 14th), the St. Louis Cardinals (19th and 28th), the Tampa Bay Rays (21st and 29th) and the Texas Rangers (23rd and 30th).  The Yankees and the Miami Marlins each have four of the first 73 selections.

For the first time, the Draft will feature Competitive Balance rounds, which were agreed upon as a part of the 2012-2016 Basic Agreement between MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association.  The Competitive Balance rounds give Clubs with the lowest revenues and in the smallest markets the opportunity to obtain additional draft picks through a lottery, which was held last July at MLB Network.  The 10 Clubs with the lowest revenues and the 10 Clubs in the smallest markets were entered into a lottery for the six selections immediately following the first round of the First-Year Player Draft (picks 34-39).  The eligible Clubs that did not receive one of the six selections after the first round, and all other payee Clubs under the Revenue Sharing Plan, were entered into a second lottery for the six picks immediately following the second round of the Draft (picks 69-73; only five picks will be made in this round for 2013 after the Cleveland Indians forfeited their pick for the signing of free agent Michael Bourn).

The Draft will have 40 rounds, and a Club may pass on its selection in any round and not forfeit its right to participate in other rounds.  Like each of the previous four years, the 2013 Draft will span three days.  For day one on June 6th, MLB Network and MLB.com will provide live pick-by-pick coverage during the first round, Competitive Balance Round A, the second round and Competitive Balance Round B.  The intervals between selections will last four and a half minutes during the first round, two minutes during Competitive Balance Round A, and one minute during the second round and Competitive Balance Round B.  The Draft will resume at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on both Friday, June 7th and Saturday, June 8th via conference call from MLB headquarters in New York City.  Friday, June 7th will cover rounds three through 10, and Saturday, June 8th will cover rounds 11 through 40.  Rounds three through 10 will have one minute between selections, and the remainder of the selections will be made without delays.

Beginning with the Draft preview show, MLB Network’s live coverage will feature interviews with Club front office personnel and representatives, footage from Club draft rooms, interviews with prospects and newly drafted players, and news and analysis from MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger, Larry Bowa, Peter Gammons, John Hart, Brian Kenny, Al Leiter, Dan Plesac, Harold Reynolds, Bill Ripken, Alanna Rizzo, Sam Ryan and Matt Yallof, as well as Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com and Jim Callis of Baseball America.

MLB.com will begin its exclusive live programming of the Draft’s final two days with a live draft show from its New York studios at 12:30 p.m. (ET) on June 7th, followed by a live pick-by-pick stream and draft and scouting expert commentary from Mayo and Callis.  It also will provide DraftCaster, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every draft-eligible player supplemented by statistics, scouting reports and video highlights.

Each of the 30 Major League Clubs will be represented at the Draft by one of its former players and/or a member of its front office.  Last year’s representatives included Hall of Famers Pat Gillick, Ferguson Jenkins, Tommy Lasorda and Frank Robinson, along with MLB Executive Vice President Joe Torre, Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia and 14-time All-Star Ivan Rodriguez.  The Club representatives who will attend the 2013 Draft will be announced in the weeks ahead.  In addition to the Club representatives, five first round selections attended the 2012 First-Year Player Draft last year, including the number one overall pick Carlos Correa.

Posted in MLB, N. America, News0 Comments

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