One of the only baseball blogs (to my knowledge) in the blogosphere that focuses on the Montreal Expos. Okay, mostly baseball in general, however with Montreal Expos references to be found within!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Bullpen Gospels by Dirk Hayhurst - book review

I was actually following Dirk Hayhurst on Twitter before I was aware he had a book out. I was following him for the reason that he was a member of the Blue Jays organisation. And then at some point I saw he had replied to someone who had praised his book. Naturally, this piqued my interest, seeing as he is still an active player.

Given the title, I was expecting more of an inside look into the game. For what it is worth though, it is that, and more.

The book starts off with the end of the 2006 season. From there it quickly jumps to the following off season, and the not so glorious life that comes with being a minor leaguer. That being, training in a facility that is skimpy on heat, lighting, and Gatorade. And living with his grandmother. Living with his dysfunctional family is not really an option, as he fears being beat up by his drunken brother.

Baseball of course to Dirk is an opportunity, an opportunity to hopefully provide a better life not only for himself, but his family. That being if he is able to make it to the big leagues. And at the very least work his way up the minor league levels. Although he can still use his baseball position to do well in the community.

Life in the minor leagues is not easy. Pretty much nothing is handed to the players, and they have to earn their way up the ladder, or else catch a break if they get called up to replace an injured player.

Dirk trying to go above and beyond a baseball player, and using his position for good is exemplified early on. He is working at a community centre that provides meals for the homeless and needy. His job is to pass the food tickets to people. He ends up having an exchange with a homeless man. He gives him his baseball card, only to see the man tear it up right in front of him. What use is a baseball card to a homeless man? Dirk went on to give his boots to the man, as his were soaked from the wet slushy weather outside. Although not in the book, as it chronicles his 2007 season, he went on to win the Community Player of the Year when pitching for the 2008 Portland Beavers (Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres).

During the 2007 season, he spent most of the season with the Double-A San Antonio Missions, prior to that though he started off with the Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore Storm. According to his stats he did play a couple games in Triple-A with the Portland Beavers, but that was not written about. It was mostly the ins and outs of minor league life, going from A Advanced to Double-A, along with the pros and cons. Mostly being cons.

Prior to the 2007 season, Dirk explains how he had thought of quitting baseball, but in the end returns, hoping for greener pastures (MLB playing time), and also it gets him away from his family (who he loves, but it is not exactly the best family scenario).

So generally, getting the less glorious tale of minor league ball, all the while still getting baseball insights (pre-game rituals, food and living situations, fans begging for balls, the different stadiums and setups, etc. Good stuff for baseball geeks like me.) makes for a quality read. And with the baseball off season upon us, no better time to pick it up!

Also, check Dirk out at his website, or his Twitter feed.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I'm pictured on!

Okay, maybe not exactly, but close enough! I am on the photo page for the April 14 Jays game against the White Sox.

Apparently that game was a record low for attendance at a Jays game in SkyDome (I still call it that, not Rogers Centre!). The announced attendance was 10,610, however it felt more like an Expos game when they were in their lame duck years. Based on memory, I'd say no more than 8000.

Without further ado, the image, and url still there, so you can (probably not bother) see for yourselves! I'm in about the sixth row with a red hat (follow Brandon Morrow's glove through the umpire's head).

And yes, I got a couple of foul balls, and gave one away.

Simpsons MoneyBART episode review (Season 22 episode 3)

I saw this episode when it aired, last Sunday, October 10, and thorougly enjoyed it. It just dawned on me, that I could post a review here, as I am in dire need of posts on this (very much still alive) blog.

The Simpsons being my favourite all time show, even if I do not watch it very often anymore, save for new episodes when I have the chance.

So of course, The Simpsons has countless baseball references, most notable being the 1992 episode dedicated entirely to baseball. That episode was "Homer at the Bat", where numerous big leaguers had sizable guest spots. That was the episode where Mr. Burns hired all the ringers to work in the power plant in order to be eligible to compete on their softball team. This was to ensure Springfield Nuclear Power Plant's softball team would beat Shelbyville's.

This past Sunday's episode was also entirely dedicated to baseball. The title, of course a reference to the Michael M. Lewis book, Moneyball.

Oh, and if per chance you have not seen it, there are partial spoilers within.

The show starts off with two plot lines that become one in act two. Lisa becomes worried she will not be able to get to an Ivy League school due to her minimal involvement in school clubs. Meanwhile, Ned Flander's resigns as Bart's baseball teams manager. Reason being, Ned let the umpire call a long fall ball a home run run without saying a word, this of course was his own shortstop!

A Montreal reference worth noting, Marge tells Lisa she could always go to McGill (the Harvard of Canada)!

So of course Lisa becomes the new manager, much to Bart's initial shagrin.

Lisa, not knowing baseball heads to Moe's Tavern, to find the drunks watching baseball, and ask them about baseball. All they know is whatever the manager does, he is it wrong, and if it works, he is a button pusher! Lisa then finds Professor Frink and the other nerds talking baseball, sabermetrics style! Bill James (the one who coined Sabermetrics) guests with the funny: "I Made baseball as much fun as doing your taxes!"

One of the books the nerds give her is of course Moneyball. She continues to bone up on baseball. With her Moneyball, and sabermetrics research Ralph Wiggum ends up being positioned peferctly to catch a line drive. The show then goes into a montage featuring of course "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" as background music that shows her team moving up in the standings. After which, a good Nelson Muntz soundbyte. And Bart naming ballparks, Enron Field (ha ha!), Pacific Bell Park, then SBC Park, and now AT&T Park.

As the show progresses, there's numerous good quotes and Simpsons style wit, such as the announcer saying "Bart Simpson on deck, his bat's just hungering for a homer... speaking of homer, Bart's father's name is you guessed it, not on my fact sheet!"

Also nice is the Mike Scioscia cameo. He of course was in the 1992 Simpsons episode, so it made reference to that. He was the one who got radiation poisoning, which Scioscia explains helped give him super managing power.

Perhaps a hidden gag on the length of a ballgame, with Bart off the team, he states how after seven hours at the amusement park he is finally starting to enjoy himself. All the while, this is while Lisa's baseball game is going on. Ralph is later then too juiced to play, juiced as in too many juice boxes! He did not know what he was putting into the body!

The episode ends of course with everything being back to normal as per usual. As referenced in C.E. D'oh, which also ends with bart saying he is Tomokazu Ohka of the Montreal Expos! While Milhouse is Esteban Yan of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

I have omitted many good quotes, definitely worth seeing for baseball fans, especially baseball fans that like The Simpsons!

Here's hoping the rest of season 22 (!) continues to be good! (I'm not one of the ones who complains about the quality after season x, they have plenty of good episodes after season x!)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

MLB Player and prospect blogs

If you are like me, chances are, you may be, if you are a baseball fan, you like hearing baseball from the perspective of the player. So in short, I am updating my player blogs that are hosted at mlblogs (the MLB blogging network). Oh, and shameless plug, I write occasionally a Jays one, at Blue Jays Outside the Dome

Anyway, on with the player, and prospect blogs.

David Ortiz (BOS)
Reed Johnson (LAD)
Torii Hunter (LAA)
Marlon Byrd (CHC)
Bengie Molina (TEX)
Kevin Slowey (MIN)

Michael Schlact (TEX prospect)
Neil Wagner (OAK prospect)
Scot Drucker (DET prospect)
Jarrod Parker (ARI prospect)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Former Montreal Expo Michael Barrett moves up to Triple-A Buffalo Bisons

Earlier this month, I mentioned on Twitter how Michael Barrett was signed to a minor league contract by the New York Mets. In the article linked from the Twitter post, it said how we was expected to move up to Triple-A Buffalo after a few weeks. Well now he has.

He played 15 games for the High-A Mets affiliate, St. Lucie Mets. In those 15 games, he batted .220, in 50 AB. His OBP was .278.

In two games for the Buffalo Bisons, he is so far 0 for 6.

Presently catching for the Mets is Henry Blanco and Josh Thole. Rod Barajas is on the 15 day DL with a strained left oblique. Omir Santos who is on the Mets 40 man roster despite playing currently with the Double-A Binghampton Mets. He has not played for the Mets since last year. With all that in mind, perhaps Michael will be back in the Bigs in the near future.

I met him in the off season, at a sports journalism panel, so it would be nice to see him playing for the big club.

A few days ago, former Expos closer, Chad Cordero signed a minor league contract with the Mets, on July 22. He was re-signed by the Mariners late last year (December 28). So to this point in 2010, he played in 17 games for the Tacoma Rainiers (Seattle Mariners Triple-A affiliate), and moved up to the big club June 3 (Contract purchased from Tacoma (AAA)).

Chad Cordero played nine games with Seattle, his first in the Bigs since being with Washington in 2008. July 15, he "refused option to Tacoma (AAA) and became a free agent". Hence now signing with the Mets, and has been assigned to the Buffalo Bisons. So a couple of former Expos team mates will probably form a battery shortly with the Bisons. He is still playing out of the bullpen.

Speaking of former Expos, Valentino Pascucci is also currently with the Buffalo Bisons (on the 7-day DL at the moment). He only played 32 games with Montreal, starting 17 (2 at 1B, and 15 in OF). He not not played in the majors since.

In January 2009, he signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers (61 GP with the AAA Albuquerque Isotopes, batting .211), then in June 2009, a minor league deal with the Padres (65 GP with the AAA Portland Beavers batting .277), and finally in February of this year a minor league deal with the Mets, so far appearing in 46 games, batting .238. He has been playing the outfield. Primarily in right it would seem.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Andre Dawson, Hall of Famer

Andre Dawson was about halfway through his time with the Expos when I was just being born in 1980. Point being, he was playing long before I started following baseball as much as I do now. However from what I have learned, and what his peers have said, he is more than a eligible to find his way into the Hall.

Even though by edict of the Hall he'll be the second player -- following Gary Carter -- to enter wearing a Montreal Expos cap.

It seems he wanted to wear a Cubs hat, but the Hall makes the decision, and chose Expos. I feel that is the correct call, as an Expos fan, and baseball fan. If he started off for 10 years in Chicago, then he should wear the Cubs hat.

Plenty more coverage to check, and video to watch:

Baseball Hall of Fame Andre Dawson holding his jersey pictured now.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

R.I.P. José Lima

I was in Quebec City at the time. Away from most modern technology we take for granted today. Television was accessible at the time. I was able to see some of the Boston Philadelphia game. I noticed Big Papi David Ortiz had a RIP José on his hat. José Lima was the only person I could think of, but thought he was too young.

I later found out it was indeed him. I did not know him personally, however as batting practise is part of my religion, I caught the Royals in Toronto in 2005, when he was with the Royals. Since pitchers in the American League do not have to worry about hitting, I imagine they rarely take batting practise, so they hang out in the outfield.

José Lima was among those in the outfield at the time. He was goofing around with fans, in other words very fan friendly. Some fan dropped his sunglasses onto the playing field, and José retrieved them, being the fun guy he is, he tried them on. I'm sure the fan must have got them back eventually. Anyway, just from that it was easy to tell he would be a well liked guy. Of course anyone that follows baseball enough to know him, knows he is that kind of guy.

So it's too bad to see him go. Baseball lost a good guy.

R.I.P. José Lima (1972 – 2010)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

HR, Hitting Rehearsal?

In case you have not heard, the "Brevard County Manatees rename 'BP' to 'hitting rehearsal' due to oil spill in Gulf".

When I first head this I was thinking it was MLB league wide, and how it'll always be BP to me, among everyone really! Anyway, it is just the Brevard County Manatees, Milwaukee Brewers Single A Advance affiliate.

I can definitely see the logic. Somewhat odd as they are not on the Gulf Coast side of Florida. Perhaps all Florida baseball teams should rename batting practise to hitting rehearsal, aka HR! Especially the Tampa Rays, Dunedin Blue Jays, Clearwater Threshers, Tampa Yankees, Bradenton Marauders, Charlotte Stone Crabs, Fort Myers Miracle, and for good measure, Lakeland Flying Tigers. Those of course being teams on the western side of Florida, or the Gulf Coast side. See what I mean on a Google Map.

Hitting rehearsal sounds like they are preparing for synchronised baseball, or something along those lines!

Oh, and boo BP! That is, British Petroleum this time. It is time they actually do move "Beyond Petroleum".

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What do Michael Jordan, Terry Francona and Ozzie Guillen have in common?

In short, Terry Francona managed Michael Jordan during his brief baseball stint. Ozzie Guillen was with the White Sox, so he spent time with Michael Jordan during Spring Training.

Michael Jordan played for the Birmingham Barons during the 1994 season. He played in 127 games, posting a .202 BA with 51 RBI, 51 BB, 30 SB (out of 48). Struck out 114 times out of 436 AB. He played in 119 games in the OF, primarily in right (not sure if he played elsewhere in the OF). He made 11 errors, but also had 6 assists. And posted a .952 fielding percentage.

Michael Jordan's minor league statistics at Baseball Reference

I've been meaning to write this post for a while. Found the following article prior to starting writing this.
Jordan's effort a marvel 15 years later
Also included is a link to a Michael Jordan baseball photo gallery.

A video about the bus Michael Jordan got for the team, with Terry Francona in it. Includes game footage.

Harry Caray interviewing Michael Jordan, and Michael playing at Wrigley in a White Sox/Cubs exhibition game. Also includes game footage. I think that is perhaps the only time Cubs fans have cheered for a White Sox player!

Tom Brokaw interview with Michael Jordan for MSNBC News. Game footage included as well.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Live Tweeting the Jays Home Opening Series!

I'll be live tweeting during the first four Toronto home games! Their home opener id tomorrow night, first pitch scheduled for 7:20 EDT. The next three, all against the White Sox, are 7:07 EDT.

Follow me @baseball363!

This blog is still alive and well!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cincinnati Reds 2010

Aroldis Chapman has is now with the Reds organisation. The Cuban defector who has been clocked at upwards of 102mph. He signed for $30.25 million over the next six years, plus incentives, and he was given a $16.25 million signing bonus. Not bad.

Orlando Cabrera has signed with the Reds.

The Reds move into Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, AZ, moving from the Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, FL. Joining the Cleveland Indians there in the Cactus League.

The video that autoplays on the Reds main site showcases a new hill they'll use for training and the like.

Pitchers and catchers report this Wednesday.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Vladimir Guerrero, Texas Ranger

Vladimir Guerrero as of January 11 2010, is a Texas Ranger. He will be primarily be used as the DH. He will be used in the cleanup spot behind Josh Hamilton.

Last year he only had two games in the outfield.

Should be interesting to see how his offensive numbers will be since he does not have to worry about the outfield.

The Rangers Ballpark in Arlington:

Friday, January 08, 2010

Polo Grounds in MLB 10 The Show!

I just read that MLB 10 The Show will feature Polo Grounds!

As I finally have a PS3, I can catch up on baseball gaming (and gaming in general).

I quite enjoyed MVP Baseball 2004 and 2005. I played them both on my PC. I still have them installed, 2004 being the final year of the Expos! So I have the ongoing career mode with the Expos! MVP Baseball 2005 was the last MLB baseball game EA made (they made a couple NCAA baseball games afterwards).

Both of the MVP games had Polo Grounds in them. I liked playing in Polo Ground for its irregular shape. The Polo Grounds that are most referred to is Polo Grounds III, and IV. They are the same field, but a fire caused III to be rebuilt somewhat to become IV.

The 1923 Polo Grounds dimensions were 279 to the left field foul pole, 258 to the right field foul pole (compared to Yankee Stadium which is 318/314 respectively). Heck, I may have been able to hit a home run in there! Straightaway center field was 483!! It was more or less a horseshoe shape, with a super deep outfield, and an insanely deep straightaway center! Diagram thanks to Clem's Baseball.

I played a demo of MLB 09 The Show, and it almost seems like too much! I think it is a good thing though, it will just take some getting used to, and practise. I have played MLB (The 2005 version with Vladimir Guerrero on the cover!) and MLB 08 on PSP, however not quite the same. I may pick up 09 to get ready for 10. Regardless, I look forward to playing in Polo Grounds (among others) again! And hopefully playing online against some readers of this blog too!

It is set to be released March 2nd with Joe Mauer on the cover.