18 May 2009
Posted by David
One of the greatest debates in baseball is whether or not we need a designated hitter (DH). The American League has been using a DH since 1973, which eliminates the pitcher from the batting lineup. That is until yesterday when Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon mistakingly assigned two players to third base on the lineup card. Evan Longoria was supposed to DH, but the error cost the Rays that spot in the lineup… forcing pitcher Andy Sonnanstine to bat 3rd in the lineup. This was the first time since 1968 that a pitcher had batted higher than seventh in the lineup.
From the Tampa Tribune:
“Pitching coach Jim Hickey came down and told me that I was going to have to hit and I corrected him and told him I was going to get to hit,” Sonnanstine said.
The Rays’ most dangerous pitcher with a bat in his hands, the lefty-swinging Sonnanstine took advantage, lofting a two-out double over LF Ryan Garko’s(notes) head to cap a five-run fourth inning.
“All the other pitchers want to start paying us off now to make the same mistake so they can hit also,” said Maddon, who took full responsibility for what happened.
Sonnanstine held his own though, going 1-3 with a RBI double in the fourth inning. The Rays won the game 7-5, so you could say for the first time in 30+ years, an AL pitcher in an AL park actually helped his own cause.
7 May 2009
Posted by David
Major League Baseball announced this morning that Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Manny Ramirez tested positive for a “Performance Enhancing Drug.” When I heard the news I immediately suspected HGH or steroids… after all this guy has been mashing the ball for 15 years. And at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised with any name being linked to steroids.
Ramirez released the following statement Thursday morning: “Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was okay to give me. Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now. I do want to say one other thing; I’ve taken and passed about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons.”
Two sources said the substance Manny tested positive for a gonadotropin. I’m not going to get into the details of what this drug is used for. The fact is Manny failed the drug test and is accepting responsibility for his actions. He’ll be suspended for 50 games, costing him around $8 million of his 2009 contract.
What’s your take on this topic? Is it just Manny being Manny, or is there more to it?
6 May 2009
Posted by David
The hottest pitcher in baseball right now isn’t a $100 million man (CC Sabathia / Johan Santana). He’s a guy on the Kansas City Royals that a lot of people had never heard of before the 2009 season. Zack Greinke is currently 6-0 with a .40 ERA and 54 strikeouts. He’s 25 years old and poised for stardom.
Greinke played well in 2008 having gone 13-10, with a 3.47 ERA, 183 strikeouts, and 56 walks in 202.1 innings pitched. 2008 was his first full season back in the starting rotation after battling a severe case of depression from 2005-2007. Greinke took his time to return and looks like he’s overcome all his issues. Through six starts so far in 2009, Zack has three complete-game shutouts. That’s amazing!
He currently ranks 1st in every single AL pitching category, except innings pitched (he ranks 2nd with 45). It’s wonderful to see such a great pitcher playing on a small market team like the Kansas City Royals. They just inked him to a four-year contract extension so hopefully he’ll be there for the long-haul. Greinke may not win a World Series playing for the Royals, but neither did Nolan Ryan for the Astros or Randy Johnson for the Mariners. A great pitcher can stand out and win Cy Young’s even while playing for a 75-win team.
20 April 2009
Posted by David
In conjunction with the start of the 2009 Major League Baseball season, we are bringing you a new video contest! Entry is simple… Upload your version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and you could win a $500 gift certificate. Submissions must be received by June 19, 2009. Fan votes will determine the winner so we encourage you to be creative! You can sing, play the piano or strum the guitar as long as it’s to the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”. Continue reading for more details.
How it Works
* First, create and record your version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Check out Video Criteria below for submission guidelines
* Complete the contest submission form at FanaticsSweeps.com and include the URL to your video for review
* An internal group will conduct first round judging to select the top 15 videos
* These videos will be posted online at FanaticsSweeps.com for public voting
* The video with the most votes will win
* For more details including eligibility, terms and conditions, please read the Official Rules
* Grand Prize
o $500 gift certificate to FastballFanatics.com
o Worldwide recognition for your creative video featured on the Fastball Fanatics homepage
* Five Runners-up
o $100 gift certificate to FastballFanatics.com
* Must include in some form the song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” (See our video above for ideas.)
* Your YouTube video title or description should contain the keywords “Fastball Fanatics Video Contest”
* Your YouTube video description should contain a link to http://www.FanaticsSweeps.com
* All videos must be submitted by June 19, 2009
* You can submit more than one video, but only one can qualify for the second round
* Videos can not contain any profanity or obscene conduct
* During first round, all submissions will be judged on
1. Concept / Originality
2. Completeness of presentation
3. Viewership – YouTube views and ratings
* During second round, the top 15 videos will be posted online at FanaticsSweeps.com for public voting. Voting is worldwide and open to everyone.
13 April 2009
Posted by David
The New York Yankees will officially open their new stadium later this week with their first homestand of the season against the Cleveland Indians. The new ballpark was constructed across the street, northwest of the 1923 Yankee Stadium. A lot of fans were sad to see the original “House that Ruth Built”, but I’m sure once they step foot in the new $1.5 billion stadium they will change their minds.
So what does $1.5 billion get you compared to the old Yankee Stadium?
- A cup holder in all seats in the general seating bowl.
- 2 more inches of leg room.
- More restrooms
- Five times as many elevators
- A 59′ x 101′ HighDef jumbtron
- 37 more luxury suites
Even though the Yankees haven’t opened the stadium up in the regular season, they did play a few Spring Training games there to give the fans a taste of their new home. Check out the pictures.
12 March 2009
Posted by David
Minute Maid Park is a ballpark in Houston, Texas, United States that opened in 2000 to house the Houston Astros. The Astros have hosted a World Series, two NLC series, and an MLB All-Star Game in their new stadium.
The ballpark was Houston’s first retractable-roofed stadium, protecting fans and athletes from Houston’s notoriously humid weather as its predecessor, the Astrodome, did, but allowing fans to also enjoy outdoor baseball; something they couldn’t do in the Astrodome. The ballpark also features a grass field, compared to the Astrodome’s artificial AstroTurf, which was generally disliked by professional baseball players.
The largest entrance to the park is inside what was once Houston’s Union Station, and the left-field side of the stadium features a train as homage to the site’s history. The train moves along a track on top of the length of the exterior wall beyond left field whenever an Astros player hits a home run, or when the Astros win a game.
More fun facts about Minute Maid Park:
- There is a 90-foot wide center field incline known as Tal’s Hill, for team president Tal Smith. I remember Jim Edmonds making a spectacular play on the hill in an NLCS game a few years ago.
- There flagpole in play (on Tal’s Hill), an element taken from Yankee Stadium before its remodeling in the mid-’70s and Tiger Stadium among others. Milwaukee Brewers player Richie Sexson once hit a ball off the flagpole and there is still a mark there.
Have you ever been to Minute Maid Park?
10 March 2009
Posted by David
The seventh-inning stretch is one of the most popular baseball park traditions, from little league games to Major League Baseball games, they all take part in it. Growing up, I always thought the seventh-inning stretch was first started when President Taft stood up to stretch during the 7th inning of a game. Because the President stood and stretched, all those around him did the same.
After doing some research online, I found out that this story may not be true. Some people think the seventh-inning stretch dates back to the 1880s. On one particularly hot and muggy day in 1882, during the seventh inning against a semi-pro team called the Metropolitans, the coach of Mary, F.S.C. noticed his fans becoming restless. To break the tension, he called a time-out in the game and instructed everyone in the bleachers to stand up and unwind. It worked so well he began calling for a seventh-inning rest period at every game.
Another theory: A letter written by Harry Wright of the Cincinnati Red Stockings dated 1869 — 13 years earlier than Brother Jasper’s inspired time-out — documented something very similar to a seventh-inning stretch. In the letter, he makes the following observation about the fans’ ballpark behavior: “The spectators all arise between halves of the seventh inning, extend their legs and arms and sometimes walk about. In so doing they enjoy the relief afforded by relaxation from a long posture upon hard benches.”
So it’s hard to say just how/when the seventh-inning stretch was created. Baseball fans are thankful for this moment to relax and enjoy “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”