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Archive for the ‘Professional Baseball’ Category

Jamie D’Antona Revisited

Posted by cuorange on August 12, 2009

Jamie D'Antona

Jamie D'Antona

Jamie D’Antona’s fans have come out in force, letting me know he was up to .300 (now at .298) and was named the Central League’s MVP for July.  Congrats, Jamie.

I continue to be amazed (in a good way) at the feedback I receive from my posts on D’Antona and his fans faithfulness in responding (positively) to said posts.  Thanks.

For the record as of August 12 D’Antona is batting .298 with 19 HRs and 69 RBI.

Again, thanks to the fans of D’Antona and the Tokyo Yakult Swallows for keeping me abreast of D’Antona’s progress.

Posted in Professional Baseball | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Tim Redding – Why is he still in the Major Leauges?

Posted by cuorange on July 20, 2009

Tim Redding

Tim Redding

I was passing by the TV today when I heard Tim Redding was coming in for the Mets. Tim Redding? The guy that has failed with 6 Major League teams is still pitching in the big leagues? Why? He’s not even left-handed.

Redding was a minor league phenom (71-42 record), especially with the Round Rock Express back in ’01, when he was 10-2 with a 2.18 ERA in 14 starts. Off to AAA and then the Astros. Sure he was 3-1, but his 5.50 ERA was a hint at what was to come.

In parts of 8 Major League seasons Redding is 35-53 with a 5.08 ERA. He’s given up 831 hits in 754.2 innings. He has also walked 309 batters in those same 754.2 innings.  1140 hits and walks in 754.2 innings?  Are you kidding me?  Redding would have to go 15-9 and lose .50 on his ERA to catch up with the noted Hall of Fame candidate Elmer Dessens.

This year Redding is sporting a 7.22 ERA and a 1-3 record in 12 games (9 starts) with 64 hits and 22 bases on balls in 52.1 innings.

Some guys can’t make the leap from AAA to the bigs.  Why is this guy still in the major leagues?

Posted in Professional Baseball | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Jamie D’Antona Update

Posted by cuorange on July 18, 2009

Jamie D'Antona

Jamie D'Antona

Besides the page on the CUTigers.com Texas Bashes, no post I’ve written since moving to WordPress has generated more views than “Finding Jamie D’Antona”.  I suspect that’s because it somehow got linked to a blog on the team D’Antona now plays for in Japan, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.  Go figure.  I wasn’t expecting a large number of views (or any at all for that matter) on the D’Antona piece, I just personally find it interesting reading “where are they now” stories.

Here’s an update for all you D’Antona followers out there:  Jamie is batting .256 with 11 HRs and and 40 RBI in 59 games with the Swallows.  He also leads the team is striking out, having done so 54 times in 203 ABs.

I’ve heard from some who think I am somehow bashing D’Antona.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  I am, however, a bit mystified why a guy who hit .365 in AAA would be released after just 17 major league at bats (defense according the blog mentioned above) when just last year he was being touted as a future star (the story was focused on his hitting, true) by at least one Diamondback web site.  Nonetheless, I like the kid and wish him well.  Why else would I be following his exploits in Tokyo?

Posted in Professional Baseball | Tagged: , , | 8 Comments »

The Strange Case of Khalil Greene

Posted by cuorange on July 7, 2009

Khalil GreeneWith his once promising career headed in a downward spiral as he is placed on the disabled list for the second time  this season for social anxiety disorder one wonders if he will ever be the same.

From one of the greatest seasons in college baseball history(.480, 26 HR, 30 doubles, .557 on base percentage, .888 slugging percentage, 91 RBI), to #1 draft pick, to a quick trip to the big leagues and 27 HRs in 2007 to this.  Even hitting 3 HR in three games after his first stint on the DL didn’t save him from an 0-16 slump that followed and another trip to the DL.

At one time his Baha’i faith was reported to be the reason for Greene’s calmness and serentity and the quiet of San Diego the best place for him to be.   A trade to St. Louis and a move to third base later, he finds himself being told to stay away from the team.   A strange case indeed.

Posted in Professional Baseball | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Million Dollar Arms Debut

Posted by cuorange on July 6, 2009

With apologies to the real million dollar arm, Stephen Strasburg, the two winners of the Million Dollar Arm contest made their much awaited debuts on July 4 for the Bradenton Pirates of the Gulf Coast League.

Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel each pitched an inning in the Pirates 4-2 loss to the Yankees.  Singh gave up a run on two hits, while Patel threw a shut out inning.  Both had a strikeout and no walks.

You can follow their exploits on their blog.  I’m not sure they’ll ever make it to the big leagues, but I smell a movie in the making.

Posted in Professional Baseball | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

America’s Favorite Pastime (Todd Snider, Doc Ellis, LSD and a no-hitter)

Posted by cuorange on July 4, 2009

Todd Snider is my favorite entertainer.  Notice I said entertainer, not musician or singer.  Snider’s not a good guitar player, nor does he have the best voice.  But he does have the gift of storytelling whether in a song or in conversation.  He can make a mundane story about high school football or spray painting his name on a water tower come alive and make you feel like you were there with him when it happened.

Snider’s not a nobody.  He’s been on the late night shows including Leno and Letterman and has been interviewed by the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and NPR.  He’s just not famous.  He likes it that way.

Snider recently released “The Excitement Plan”, which includes a song titled “America’s Favorite Pastime” (here’s a live version) , which is a story about Doc Ellis of the Pittsburgh Pirates throwing a no-hitter vs. the Padres when he was on LSD.

Even funnier than Todd’s story (he’s Todd to me, I met him in Charlotte behind the Neighborhood Theatre he had just played one memorable night) is listening to Doc Ellis describe the day leading up to the game and what he felt like during the game.  Apparently, Doc was just a good a storyteller as Todd is.  Enjoy.

For the most complete history and info on Todd anywhere in the world visit eighteenminutes.com (of course there’s a story about the site name, too).

Posted in Music, Professional Baseball | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Finding Jamie D’Antona

Posted by cuorange on June 29, 2009

As you may recall D’Antona was the focus of “The Last Best League” and had finally made it to the Bigs last year after batting .365 at AAA Tucson.

Apparently, the Diamondbacks released D’Antona last November so that he could sign with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of Japan, where he is batting a robust .249.

Posted in Professional Baseball | 4 Comments »

Book Review: 3 Nights In August

Posted by cuorange on May 8, 2009

Three Nights In August

Three Nights In August

Before I began this book I wondered how interesting a 270 page book on 3 baseball games could be.  I imagined a book with tedious, uninteresting details of baseball games or perhaps a soliloquy from LaRussa on the game.  “LaRussa opens his third stick of gum and it’s only the first inning.  It’s Juicy Fruit, LaRussa’s favorite”.
 
I found just the opposite.  It’s a very well written book that, while based on a three game series in August, 2003 between the Cardinals and Cubs with first place on the line, is as author Buzz Bissinger (Friday Night Lights) says, “A book about baseball” and the “pulleys and levers” that are always working in the game that most fans don’t see or understand.
 
It also touches on subjects far and wide related to the game:  the subtleties of the bean ball and the inevitable who, when where and how to retaliate, if at all; the death of Darryl Kile; the sudden inability of Rick Ankiel to throw strikes; steroids; the modern, rich baseball player; the manager’s struggle to get certain players to play hard every day and listen to instruction; the beauty of a player like Albert Pujols; the cat and mouse and cloak and dagger of managing in the big leagues; and sign stealing.
 
There is some tediousness in the book and certainly in LaRussa’s personality (his fixation on the note cards in his back pocket for example), but Bissinger manages to weave them in periodically throughout the book without overdoing it.
 
Years ago, I read Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights and thought it was a decently written book.  In “Three Nights In August” you can see and feel Bissinger’s improvement as a writer and story teller.
 
I had pretty much given up on Major League Baseball.  Guaranteed multi-million dollar contracts, steroids and the constant movement of players from one team to another have sapped my love of the game over time.  I think I’ve watched less than 5 innings of major league games this year.  This book however, brought back some of my love of the game and reminded me why I enjoy the game so much.

Rating: 8 of 10

Should you read?: Yes, if you are a professional baseball fan and are interested in what goes through a managers head during a game, series and season.

Posted in Book Reviews, Professional Baseball | Leave a Comment »

The Pirates of My Youth

Posted by cuorange on May 6, 2009

I’m not Mike Leach.  I don’t fantasize about being a pirate or what it was like being a pirate back in the day.  When I think of pirates I think of the Charleston Pirates of the Western Carolina League circa 1973-1978 or so.

Growing up in Charleston, the nearest Major League team was the Atlanta Braves some 300 miles away.  This was before cable and I was lucky to see maybe 10 games a year on TV.

But in 1973 when I was 9 an amazing thing happened.  The Pittsburgh Pirates announced they would field a “low” Class A team in Charleston. 

Over the years many major leaguers came through (and still do) Charleston.  Perhaps none have had more celebrated careers than two that came through that first year: John Candelaria (177 major league wins) and Willie Randolph were members of the original Charleston Pirate teams.

There were other lesser known players off that team that spent significant time in the Majors.  Mitchell Page won the rookie of the year award with Oakland was an outfielder, as was Miguel Dilone who stole over 100 bases that season and had one glorious season in Cleveland when he hit .341.  Steve Nicosia and Odell Jones also made it to the bigs.

1975 saw Ed Whitson come through Charleston.  Whitson ended up winning 126 ML games.  Who would’ve thought that as he racked up an 8-15 record in Charleston.  Others that made the show from the 1975 team were: Bryan Clark, Silvio Martinez and Mark Mercer.

Of all the players who made it, Clark is the least likely I remember seeing.  While he was 4-7 with a 5.37 ERA in ’75, he returned in ’76 to go 1-13 with a 6.12 ERA and 104 walks in 103 innings. 

After going 5-13 in ’77 at high Class A Salem, Clark started out 1978 1-6 (6-26 overall at Charleston if you are counting) with a 6.11 ERA at Charleston.  Then, for some inexplicable reason the Seattle Mariners purchased Clark on June 12, 1978.  At this point Clark had a composite record of 26-72 in the minors.  He went on to lose all 4 decisions with the Marines Class A Stockton team to finish 1978.

Then a funny thing happened.  Clark turned his career around like no one I have ever seen.  He went 14-5 in Class A in 1979.  He spent 1980 with Lynn (AA, 9-5) and Spokane (AAA, 2-5).

Clark made the Mariners in the spring of 1981 and went on to pitch in 186 ML games, going 20-23 with a 4.15 ERA.

1976 saw Don Robinson (109 ML wins) and Tony Pena come through.  Also, Dale Berra and Nelson Norman made the bigs off that team.

The 1977 team featured Pena again, along with Pascual Perez, Junior Ortiz and Rick Lancelotti.

The 1978 version included Ortiz again, along with Doug Frobel and Dave Dravecky, who would later lose his pitching arm to cancer.

Along with these guys who “made it”, I remember some of those who didn’t.  The anonymous players that fill out minor league rosters with little to no chance of making it, whether they had great seasons or not.  Guys like Robert Mazur, Juan Lebron, Jesus Aristimuno, Alexis Ramirez, Randy Sealy, Marvin Whitehurst, Larry Olson, and Danny Debattista.

Of these, Lebron and Debattista stick out.  Lebron made one plate appearance at the AA level, despite a career .280 average in 1626 at bats in the Rookie and A levels, pretty good for a catcher.  He played in Charleston for 3 straight years.  My guess is his .370 slugging percentage did him in.  To an 11 year old he was good, but they all were on some level.

Then there is the curious case of Danny Debattista.  Debattista started his professional career in the short season New York-Penn League with Niagra Falls in 1975.  He batted .288 in 66 games that year as a 22 year old.

That earned him a bump to Charleston in 1976.  He promptly hit .304 with 8 home runs in 493 at bats.

1977 saw Debattista at the high Class A Salem team in the Carolina League.  Another promotion.  There he batted .321 in 274 at bats over 74 games. 

His career ends mysteriously there.  Injury?  Illness?  Just walked away?  Released? Who knows.  He improved his average and slugging percentage as he progressed to each level.  What happened and why remain a mystery like so many other minor leaguers each year.

Draft records indicate that he was chosen with the 108th pick of the 1971 draft out of Allegheny (PA).  Yet, I can find no record of him at Allegheny and his minor league records start in 1975. 

However, he is all over the Grand Canyon (Arizona) College record book from 1972-1975. 

Is he the Pirates scout that helped coach the American team in the 2003 Goodwill Series?  Seems likely.  What are the odds of a Danny Debattista playing in the minors for Pittsburgh and then a different Danny Debattista being a scout for the Pirates 18 years later? 

Maybe he was the coach at Ironwood High in Glendale, Arizona in 2005-2006. 

What happened in between and since remains a mystery, just like with so many of the guys who “didn’t make it”.

Posted in Professional Baseball | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »