Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Keep Hamilton on the roster

The human being in me is rooting for Josh Hamilton to make the team and have an amazing year. Life is all about redemption, even if people don't realize that we all make mistakes - some of us are just luckier/more fortunate/more blessed than others. (Hello - have you ever read the Bible?) Plus he just has a sweeeeet swing that you can't pass up! (Photo is of him and his daughter.)

I think bringing 11 pitchers and only 2 catchers North is totally worth the price of keeping Hamilton on the roster. Cincinnati would be good for him, and I am rooting for him in life and not just in baseball. I'm glad the media has made his story out to be a good one rather than demonizing him.

I mean, why is Bonds the Devil while Josh is rooted for? Who's to say Bonds has fewer demons than Josh? You know, he had to live up to his father's name - the pressure of that had to be incredible. Why is Hamilton being given a free pass while Bonds is the bane of Major League Baseball? (Not that Hamilton shouldn't be given the chance - that's the whole point of the post!)

I'm going to write a ton about Bonds this year - just a warning. I'm going to as many Giants games as possible. (If you don't know, I lived out in California for a couple of years and saw season 73 and even went to a World Series game out there - most amazing baseball game of my life!)

But this post is about Josh. Good luck, man! You have a whole country rooting for you!

Best Case Scenerio NL Prediction Post

I wanted to do a prediction post but don't want to repeat what people who get paid to write about baseball lucky bastards have written, so I'm going to forget the stats and the conventional wisdom and listen to the optimist and dreamer in me.

NL East

1. Phils (92-70)- Rollins is right. The Phillies ARE the team to beat in the NL East. With Howard, Utley, Rollins, and Burrell plus a rotation of Garcia, Hamels, Myers, Eaton, and Moyer, these guys are going to win a lot of games. The question is the bullpen - can GM Pat Gillick add a reliable arm or two to set up closer Tom Gordon? Jon Lieber is available for trade bait. (Will they take Rheal Cormier? Please?) Howard will hit 60 home runs but Barry Bonds will still get more attention when people say "and he did it legit!" I like this team, but hopefully I won't have to break out my Phillies cap in October in lieu of a Reds cap...

2. Mets (88-74) - Wright, Reyes, Beltran, and Delgado will score a lot of runs, but the shape of the rotation is atrocious. Billy Wagner sux. Pedro will throw at Rollins' head and miss during the entire year, then throw a fit and go on the DL every time. This team is fun to watch.

3. Fish (80-82)- Those rooks from last year can only get better, right? This team stupidly does not have Girardi to hold it together, so they'll splash out of contention at the beginning of August. I have 5 games against this team in my season ticket package, so I'll be getting to know this team too well.

4. Nats (77-85) - Manny Acta is a new school guy who has statheads drooling. The Nats have a good offense led by Zimmerman, Kearns, and Lopez. They also have a good pen with Cordero, Ayala, Wagner, and Rauch. Behind Patterson is a bunch of question marks, but I'm optimistic that there are two ten game winners in the bunch competing for spots. I have a full, optimistic preview at Chad Grambling's Baseball Blog. Check it out (and make sure you go through his site - it's a good one.)

5. Braves (75-87) - Because I hate this team and have put a voodoo curse on them.

NL Central

1. Reds (85-77) - I honestly think - not just wishfully think - that the Reds can win the NL Central this year (so does Baseball Prospectus!) Harang, Arroyo, Lohse, and Bailey (after May) will have the entire country talking about the Reds rotation. ESPN might even put the Reds on television instead of the Red Sox or Yankees one night later in the season. An in-shape and focused Dunn will hit 50 homers this year. Griffey will have one last hurrah and hit 39 to become the fifth member of the 600 club.

2. Jim Hendry's Traveling Bank Account (81-81) - The Cubs will be in first place until August 14, when the entire starting lineup gets hurt in one game against the Reds and they lose fifteen straight. Cincinnati sweeps them in two more series in September to take the division. Marquis is converted to an outfielder after someone in baseball finally realizes he can't pitch. Soriano hits a record of disappointment, knocking in only 20 roundtrippers, which makes him realize it was a mistake not doing everything he could to stay with the Nats. The goat laughs.

3. Sausages (77-85) - With the additions of Jeff Suppan and no one else worth mentioning, the Sausages look to repeat another year of not fulfilling their dark horse role. In an effort to draw more fans, GM Doug Melvin trades for Gary Matthews Jr and Jose Cruz Jr and signs Pete Rose Jr, Ryan Clemens, and an illegitimate son of Keith Hernandez. Never Surrender will continue not to play for some odd reason.

4. Asstros (74-88) - Roy Oswalt. Lance Berkman. Old Geezer Biggio. A fish called Wandy. The addition of Carlos Lee can't save them. Even the 44 year old Rocket can't save them. How many times can we bear to see Barbara's face behind the backstop?

5. Deadbirds (70-92) - My dream for the year, aside from seeing the Reds win the World Series, is to see the St. Louis Alberts lose 90 games. Why they are picked as the team to beat by many people, I don't know. Aside from Carpenter and that first baseman guy, they have nothing. Edmonds and Rolen are ancient, Eckstein's a pest, Kennedy stinks, Izzy likes to give up walkoffs, and Mulder's arm fell off and he's gone until August. I'm sharpening my voodoo pins...

6. Pirates (6something and horrible) - At least they have Jason Bay.

NL West

1. Giants (86-76) - I'm the only non-San Francisco native to be rooting for Bonds this year. He'll lead his team one last time to a division title and retire without a World Series ring. Isn't that enough, you Barry haters? Oh, and Barry "Straight Up" Zito.

2. Dodgers (82-80) - Ugh. If I didn't think the D'Backs uniforms were so hideous, I'd give the Dodgers the last spot, but I guess they have those young studs playing all over the field, so I have to give them second. Too bad Jeff Kent can't fall off his truck and break his arm again. He may just be my least favorite ballplayer ever, and since the Baseball Writers are so stingy and wrong with giving deserving people places in the Hall, I hope they leave him out, too.

3. Padres (81-81) - Two Giles does not a champion make.

4. Rox (77-85) - z z z z z z zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Atkins rox. Glad Helton is still on the team.

5. D'backs (75-87) - This team should not exist in the first place. Good pitching, though.

In case it wasn't clear, this is an unscientific, fun post and not what I logically think will happen. Though I do think it could happen if the wind blows the right way...


There is baseball to watch all day long!

MLB.TV's schedule:

1 pm ET: Marlins @ Cards | Tigers @ Mets
3 pm ET: Rockies @ White Sox
7 pm ET: Twins @ Red Sox

Can't wait until 1pm!

UPDATE: Well, it's 1pm, and as predictable a Cristian Guzman groundout, MLB.TV is messed up and I can't get a stream. I was really looking forward to watching some baseball. Why don't they HIRE SOMEONE WHO KNOWS SOMETHING ABOUT COMPUTERS!?!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

CaliRipken Dreaming

Worshipers of the Church know that I have strange dreams pretty often. Last night was no exception.

I can't remember exactly why I was standing in an apartment building looking out a window in the hallway - the hallway was lined with windows - but I think it had something to do with waiting to scream at someone who lived in the building, for I was very angry for some reason. It certainly was not because it was Cal Ripken Jr.'s building, even though I stood in front of his door. While I was standing there, Ripken came out talking on a cellphone. The very odd thing was that not only did he have hair, but he had long, gray hair. He wore a suit with no tie and looked like he had just come from Miami.

My mind raced through all of the Ripken things I own that I wished I had with me then - a 1983 Topps Rookie Card, a specially issued Rawlings Major League Baseball used in the game he broke the consecutive games record, and a beer stein in the German style commemorating The Streak (yeah, I really have all of those things). Then I thought of anything I had on me that he could sign. I had a baseball in my backpack (I have contemplated carrying a ball in my bag in case I ever run into a Nationals player somewhere in DC), but in the end I just decided to leave him alone. He got off the phone and I walked past him, saying something polite but pretending I didn't know who he was.

Update: I had forgotten until just now that when Ripken came out, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's song Yankee Go Home was coming from his apartment. What a perfect song for the Orioles (or Red Sox or any other team that plays the Evil Empire) to play.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Face lift

Please pardon the mess - the Church is getting a face lift that will be ready in time for the season to start. Unfortunately my plans for the new banner were put on hold when ten tons of snow were dumped on us yesterday and I couldn't get the photo of the National Cathedral I wanted, so that will have to wait until next weekend, god willing!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

In lieu of watching the Oscars...

I did not go to the Nationals single season ticket sale on Saturday at RFK, as I was not in too much of a hurry to purchase tix since I have a season ticket plan, but I want to get a couple of games that aren't in my package, namely the two other Reds games and a couple of other games that I won't mention because they are going to sell out when people realize what is going to happen around that time in the season. (No more hints!) Most of my tickets will look like the 2007 version of the ticket to the right. Cool, huh? But the four other games I have my eye on will not look like that unless I buy them from another season ticket holder.

I want real tickets from RFK for those games rather than a Ticketbastard ticket or a print-from-home ticket for various reasons, one being to avoid all of those stupid per ticket charges and service charges (I mean, why should I have to pay to use MY printer?) Another is that I am rather particular about my tickets. I mean, what if some monumental feat is accomplished during the game - a no hitter, a milestone home run, the first game of a no name rookie who turns out to be the next Lou Gehrig? You want a real ticket, like a season ticket or the tickets to the left, not some generic white ticket or a printed piece of paper, right?

Tomorrow I thought I'd hit the team store that's only three or four blocks from where I work. Turns out the team store doesn't sell tickets like other team stores in the country do. Nor does any other place in the city, and the RFK box office is only open 10am-5pm Monday through Friday. Given that I work from 8:30-5pm and that it is about a twenty minute Metro ride to RFK plus a ten minute walk to the Metro, my lunch hour isn't enough time. So I am left with the option of paying the ridiculous charges, which won't get me my real tickets anyway, or taking time off work just to pick up tix, which I can't really do on account of future missed work for day games. Or I can cross my fingers and hope the tix I want don't sell out before the season starts! If I had been on the ball, I would have stopped down at RFK, but I wanted to see the GWU vs. UM games at College Park.

My point is - why not open a couple of hours every Saturday in March to sell tix? A lot of people are still old fashioned - it's the nature of a baseball fan. Or maybe I just want an excuse to go down to the ballpark! (

This isn't a complaint, but an observation. I was just surprised to discover the team store doesn't sell tickets. Or if it does, there is no information on the website about it. Sneaky ploy to make us pay extraneous charges and fees for a couple of pieces of paper? Hmm... :)

That last photo is of all my tix from 2006. Yeah, I save every ticket stub. Baseball fans are weird sometimes!

The Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday I was sitting outside at a baseball game convinced that Spring was standing outside the door waiting for us to answer it. The poetry of baseball flowed through my veins, and the sweet joy of the season seemed within reach.

Today I wake up and can't even drive to the grocery on account of the city's inability to clear roads of weather. This is the view from my bedroom window, a full picture of February gloom. Baseball seems as distant as the warmth and light it brings with it.

Why does this always happen on the weekend? Twenty-four hours later would have meant a free day from work!

Good news for those of us who subscribe to both MLB.TV and Gameday Audio. Gameday Audio is now part of the MLB.TV package.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


It was a gorgeous day - cold but good enough for a doubleheader of George Washington versus Maryland baseball.

The cold did not bother me at first, for the sight before me was too beautiful - the green field, blue sky, bright red and yellow uniforms...It was such a thrill to be watching live baseball that I didn't think about the cold until about the 7th inning of the first game, when I had to step into the student union for a coffee to warm up. It made me miss college, and it made me feel old!

Sitting in a baseball stadium was a rebirth of sorts. Even the ice resting coldly on the concrete of the bleachers was not enough to keep away thoughts of Spring's proximity to the present. Those of us sitting in the stands could easily fool ourselves into thinking Spring had arrived while listening to the sound of a pitch hitting a glove.

I had the camera out - it's Spring Training for me, too! Gotta learn how to take decent baseball shots so I can 'shop em throughout the season. I moved around to all parts of the stadium, which had a decent crowd for the second game, especially given that the mercury did not go much higher than forty degrees - and that wind!

The starting pitcher for game 1 was Ryan Moorer. Moorer was selected in the 13th round of the 2004 Draft by the Chicago Cubs but opted to go to college. He pitched 6 innings giving up 1 run on 5 hits while striking out 3 and walking 1. Moorer is now 2-0 in the young season and I'm looking forward to going up to College Park a couple more times to watch him pitch. Several scouts were in the stands, and judging from their behavior, they were only there to see Moorer. I thought perhaps the job of baseball scout could be kind of lonely. All of the scouts were by themselves and talked to no one.

This scout was not very fond of the cold. He only appeared when Moore was pitching and stuck around for the pitcher who followed him in relief. I wanted to interview him but thought that I don't like to be bothered when I am working, so why should he? I guess I wouldn't be a good journalist because I don't have the gall to go up to people and ask them for interviews and felt bad enough just for snapping this photo. But like I said, it's Spring Training for me, too, so perhaps I'll warm up to interviews as the weather warms.

Mike Murphy
was the third baseman for the Terps. I immediately took a liking to him because of the Irish music that played when he came up to bat. I know it's a dumb reason to like a player, but I didn't know any of them. I'm vaguely familiar with College Baseball but don't watch much of it until it gets close to the College World Series. Back in the day, I used to sit in the bleachers at Miami games and study. Perhaps this odd study habit contributes to the fact that I am more productive at work when watching baseball games?

Murphy was the leadoff hitter. He went 1-3 with a walk and was hit by a pitch in game 1 and was 1-5 with an RBI in game 2. The guy hit .290 last year as a true freshmen, starting 47 games at third. He seems to have a pretty good arm judging from the five assists I saw him earn. Small sample size, huh?

Maryland played game 1 in red and switched to black for game 2, hence the reason Mike has different shirts on.

Behind the plate for game 1 and DH'ing during game 2 was Chad Durakis. Durakis is supposed to be a power hitting catcher. I don't know much about college baseball, as I said, but the guy hits a lot of linedrives. I don't know how that translates into professional home runs. In game 1 he was 3-3, including a double, with 4 RBI and was hit by a pitch. In game 2 he was 0-4. Can't get much more extreme than that.

Here are some more photos from the game. You can click on them to make them superhuge, as I didn't bother resizing them, though I did crop them where necessary. They're all over the place because that's where Blogger puts them.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday Fodder - My Office

This is my office. There is no doubt what my favorite sport is, is there? It is a great office - more space than I need, but that is a good thing. I don't use the overhead light but rely on a series of three lamps, as fluorescent lighting is depressing and gives me a headache. I'd much rather be outside at the ballpark!

As you can see, I have an extra monitor connected to my laptop. When I was asked if I wanted the extra monitor, the first thing I thought of was that it'd be perfect for watching day games throughout the season. Yeah, I'm actually more productive when I'm watching games than not. I can't wait for the season to start so I can try it out!

Here is a close up of my "spontaneous" Nats cap next to a Reds sundae helmet. The "spontaneous" cap is for when I decide to go to games after work that were not planned. If I have plans to go to the game, I'll bring in my game cap, shown here. (I took the photo of Abu Hol - The Great Sphinx of Giza - behind the hats on a work trip to Cairo.)

This is an actual baseball that is a great stress reliever. Often, when I'm stuck on a project and unable to find the words to write, I grab the ball and toss it in the air until the words come. (There are only so many ways you can talk about corporate governance or economic reform.) Sometimes people come and and grab it and do the same thing, but I'm not too fond of that, especially when they drop it.

Here is my calendar - I actually took the photo on Wednesday, so it was current then. Today's Reds trivia says "The Reds play their home games in Great American Ballpark (they spell ballpark correctly), which is situated alongside the Ohio River which separates Ohio from Kentucky. Who is the first player to hit a home run into the river?" I believe the only player to ever hit a ball into the river was Adam Dunn.

This is my "To Do" board. I got it in September and immediately wrote the titles "At Bat," "On Deck," and "In the Hole."

My office is full of baseball fans, which is great, because a conversation about the game every now and then is inevitable. And since we are a bunch of bleeding-heart-save-the-world types in my organization (despite promoting global capitalism), we enjoy the soulful side of the game - "the poetry of baseball" - and our discussions are often the type you'd find on this blog.


But why is Griffey wearing a different shirt from the rest of the team?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

East Village Treasure

One of my favorite things about East Village is the myriads of junk stores called "antique" or "vintage" shops. As I wandered down 2nd Avenue towards Houston Street, past statues of giant hamburgers and french fries, I came upon a store window full of toys from the eighties. I went inside and browsed the Smurfs, Care Bears, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before discovering a box of 1988 Topps cards, a set I have about two of.

I purchased a pack for $2.50 (though I remember paying $.50 for a pack back then), but the only good card of the 15 was a Rickey Henderson card.

It's amazing to think that nearly 19 years later he's still playing baseball. I never liked him much as a player - thought him arrogant - but he has shown his love for baseball in his playing independent league baseball for the last few years.

Henderson had a great career, but this guy did not. Funny how often the "Topps All-Star Rookie" players don't make an impact in the Majors.

The gum was broken and felt harder than in 1988, which I didn't think was possible. I was tempted to stick it in my mouth just so I could say I chewed 19 year old gum, but opted to keep my health.

The East Village is awesome - you can find some real treasures there.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Winter of My Content, Part 2

A mural at the 86th Street stop on the 1 line.

A Yanks fan with cap in East Village.

Yanks gear at Times Square.

A couple of pubs with baseball in the windows.

Guy with Reds cap on subway.

Even the buses! LOL.

I've posted these photos here for a couple of reasons, the first being just to show that baseball is everywhere in New York. The bigger reason, though, is to see if posting photos slows down your page download time to the point where you just click away from the blog. Does anyone have problems viewing if I post a lot of photos here?

The third and final part of my photos from New York will be posted tonight or tomorrow.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Winter of My Content, Part 1

As I spent the long weekend in NYC with my brand new camera, I had my eye out for baseball photos. It was easy - baseball in New York is everywhere. Even now, as players stretch their muscles and go through monotonous drills and routine exercises under the Florida sunshine, baseball is alive in New York City, adorning the windows and walls of pubs, covering the heads of residents, hanging in window displays, muraled on subway tiles, and plastered on advertising.

From the empty, frozen ballfields in Central Park to the quiet Mecca of baseball itself - Yankee Stadium - the game is embedded in the soul of the city. Whether one's heritage is Hispanic, Asian, Arab, African, or European, a New Yorker seems just as likely to have a Yankees or Mets cap covering his head as he is a winter skull cap.

I spent a beautiful few hours in Central Park on a crisp, clear Saturday. Smiles abounded on the myriads of faces I encountered while wandering through Cedar Hill and Strawberry Fields and East Green, past the frozen lake and the dormant Sheep Meadow and the Heckscher Ballfields (shown here.)

The white teflon reflected the sun's brilliance and exclaimed to the world the beauty and wonder of life. The lonely ballfields were only identifiable by their backstops, for the cold white erased the line of distinction between the verdant outfield and the dirt of the infield. Despite their emptiness, there was no sense of desolation, only frozen anticipation, a waiting, time spent dormant but also in renewal, for when spring makes its descent upon this overburdened hemisphere, those wonderful fields, untrampled by human feet for the duration of a winter, will once again succumb to the glory and joy of baseball.

Part of a series of posts for this week based on my photos from my weekend in NYC.