Results tagged ‘ MLB ’

A Rod Should Tread Lightly Right Now

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We as a collective baseball world knew under no uncertain terms this cleat was to fall. That Alex Rodriguez would definitely pay some sort of penance for defying Major League Baseball, but none of us if it was to be an abbreviated sentence or seasonal exile. Now that we know the price ($25,000,000) and length (162 games + any possible 2014 post-season visit) such defiance will cost A-Rod, only time will tell if we have seen the last of the defiant one on any MLB diamond.

835675aa-904c-3cf7-b8b2-a4533bdea3c3You can speculate anything you want right now, but when A Rod finishes his “sentence”, he would have been off any regular season diamond within the MLB for almost 2 years. He has already flaunted the idea to the masses he will try and roll into the New York Yankees Spring Training site in Tampa, Florida this February hoping to put some mind at ease on his entire shenanigans, but the reality is the Yankees and most importantly MLB has time between now and mid-February to not only forbid such an arrival, but possibly shut A Rod out of an y rehab, conditioning or even a slight eye glance towards their Tampa facilities.

Right now with A Rod saying he will strut into Spring Training, the ball is in the Yankees court firsthand to either welcome him with open arms, or a clenched fist. It is actually a bit of a double-edged swords for the Pinstripes. The Yankees brass already know that the upholding of A Rod’ suspension by the arbitrator in essence saved them $ 25 million this season and some might view A Rod’s arrival as him accepting that final verdict and wanting to get his legal, and professional ducks in a row for  a possibly re-birth in the Spring of 2015.

Honestly I do not see a lot of olive branches and love being shown at this moment for Rodriguez, but there is almost 4 weeks between now and their report date for pitchers and catchers, so anything can happen…….and MLB could ultimately take any harmonious union between the team and A Rod firmly out of Rodriguez’s and the Yankees hands.

1d1fdcf4f545262900694855285dc0e3One serious roadblock besides the shunning of MLB upon any out-stretched hands to Rodriguez might be the simple fact A Rod will head to Tampa, Fl in about a month’s time with so much baggage you have wonder if the franchise really wants the spotlight off the 2014 team that will cross the chalk lines this April, or corral daily and with hesitation the impending the media circus that would definitely surround such an activity with the focus upon everything A Rod being in the crosshairs.

Such a move could be a blow to the formulation of a cohesive Spring chemistry of the Yankees squad as the focus would be squarely upon who mans the “hot corner” in any or all spring training games and if there is not a solid and viable candidate who can do so with defensive and offensive finesse, the media could end up baiting the Yankees to internally question someone or everyone above their pay grade.

In the end you have to wonder if any spring arrival by A Rod will be to boost team morale or be a last plea to stroke his ego and importance until he has to fade into the background and possibly find play outside the MLB norms. Right now would be a great time for the Minor League Baseball governing unit to stand behind the MLB and the arbitrator’s decision by not letting any Yankee affiliate use A Rod on any of their rosters, effectively showing a sense of solidarity from Rookie ball to the MLB-level.

a4295222-28d3-3ea2-ae0d-d4614e86fb61Personally, I would not want a play who is facing such a negative circumstance aside me in the dugout. Rodriguez has no one to blame in this situation but himself and his legal commando squad. He could of admitted something, possibly gotten a reduced expulsion from the game, but right now him even showing up in Tampa, he would be a viable pariah and whose action could further burn both himself and the Yankees brass with any actions or unfounded counteractions. Best case scenario is either A Rod fades into the background for the 2014 season, licks his wounds and get physically in the best shape possible and make a return in 2015….or not at all.  What Rodriguez ultimately decides over the next 4 weeks will say as much about his ego and not his lost paycheck.

But then again, the Yankees could release him and he would be someone else’s problem come spring 2015……Hopefully Rodriguez does what is best for himself, what’s left of his reputation and possibly hopes and prays the Yankees dump him sometime this season. I mean everyone loves an underdog situation, and if A Rod is team-less and free to roam to whoever needs his services, a change of attitude and scenery might be the best thing ever to happen to him.

Hope A Rod makes the right moves for everyone involved.

Changes, They Are A-Coming

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I have been thinking ever since January how I can improve my social footprint not only within my MLBlogs.com community, but within the overall baseball nation. Sure I’ve devised wacky and far out thoughts about eliminating some facets of my writing, but in the end maybe the thought of expansion is the right direction for me to move now.

So it is with great thought and heavy heart that I begin my travels away from Tropicana Field and embark on a journey that will take me more into a MLB-wide focus instead of just pinpointing my posts and thoughts towards the Rays Republic. It is a hard decision, but one that will hopefully be fruitful and show results not only in increased readership but a more pronounced Renegade presence around the Nation. As you can already see, I have pulled the Rays from my moniker to be more reader friendly to all 30 MLB fan bases.

140This is not being done since I feel any animosity or breaking of my Rays ties, it is just a professional decision made by myself to promote my brand and bring a larger focus audience and presence around the baseball web. I love my Rays roots and will still report on them, but only one a month as I am going to try and encompass all 30 MLB team’s in my monthly circle around the country with the Rays being one of my many organizational posts. I decided to use the ESPN MLB Power Rankings as my guide to who will be the first team I write a post about on the 1st day of the month and proceed down the list until I write about the 30th team, then start the process all over again.

Sometimes you got to make harsh and irrational changes to produce growth and bring your sense of the whole enchilada to people outside your usual comfort zone. I have been honored to be the top Fan Blog for the last several months and feel this change will also open up avenues and dialogue with fans from all 30 MLB clubs and bring about a more wide spread presence of the Renegade throughout MLB.

Who knows, this could be a great precursor move for me to become a more nationalized writer who can adapt and bring about opinions, solution and even changes within the MLB culture through my posts about all of the entire MLB Nation. I am also starting a job that will take me all over the country at different ballparks and stadiums where I will take photos and interesting stadium iconic images that I can use in both my Flickr page, plus post on here whenever possible to show the diverse and interesting culture that is Major League Baseball and it’s fans.

mlb_a_postseasonsign_576I will start my 30 MLB clubs posts beginning April 2nd embarking on finding one significant piece of each club’s 2013 puzzle and write about it to see if this process can be fruitful and successful. The first post will be about the current ESPN top MLB club, the Washington Nationals as I bring about my views on just how far I feel the Nats pitching staff can take this team, and if it ends before October, or they are celebrating come November.

Look forward to your comments, suggestions and any views or thoughts you have about these changes and more that will come about during Major League Baseball’s 2013 campaign.

Oh, and by the way……..YAD S’LOOF LIRPA YPPAH   !AY TOG(Using a mirror to view this message is optional)

To Protect and Serve…..Remembering Those Who Served Today

When I was a small child I saw those words emblazoned on a Los Angeles Police Department car in the popular TV show “Adam-12“. It took a handful of years for me to personally experience and learn how important and honorable those words really are, and know the courage and bravery needed to ascend to that plateau of serving and defending the liberties we have been granted by generations of fighting souls.

On this day of memorial and remembrance, I want to honor those who have given of themselves for the freedoms that all of us at one time or another have mistakenly taken for granted. We have all at a moment of lapse forgotten the sacrifices, perils and constant danger that lurks outside our democratic comfort zone.  I owe a huge debt of gratitude and  heartfelt  “Thank You” to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice so I can enjoy the life I have in this country. On this Memorial Day I feel a moral imperative to pay extreme homage to those who have also played this beautiful game of baseball, plus interrupted their careers to  answer the call from their nation to serve with honor and dignity.

Instead of talking about The Tampa Bay Rays, or even Major League Baseball today, I want to salute 2  Baseball Hall of Fame members who answered the call of duty to serve in our military ,and unselfishly sacrificed pieces of their professional careers for our freedoms today. I want to honor them for their commitment to this great country and hope that we all remember them today along with the many other brave men and women who should be saluted daily for their courage and heroic deeds in defending our freedoms.

It has been said that over 4,500 players swapped their baseball uniforms for the assorted colors of the United States Military just during World War II.  Not all of these brave men were in the Major Leagues at the time, but the entire minor league system in this country saw platoons of men from within the minor league ranks also volunteer and enter the draft during the war. They did not get the fan fare of the high profile MLB players, but their part in the military machine was just as important and vital to the overall success.  It has been estimated that at least 125 members of baseball minor leagues gave the ultimate sacrifice during World War II.

We all know some of the  hallowed names associated within the game with military ties like Ted Williams, Hank Greenberg,Joe DiMaggio and former Phillies Manager Danny Ozark.  Yes, even Managers, Coaches and Umpires also were among those who joined the ranks of the many military branches to fight during the European and Pacific Theatre campaign. Today I am going to feature 2 of the many who left their cleats and gloves in their lockers and exchanged them for the weapons of war.

I have chosen Navy Chief Specialist Bob Feller and Army First Lieutenant Warren Spahn as my blog subjects. Both of these men have been personal  baseball heroes of mine while growing up and I felt it was only right on this day of remembering the sacrifices and losses of so many brave souls to include these 2 baseball greats who gave up time willingly during the formative years of their brilliant baseball careers to fight along side people like my father and his three brothers.

There currently are over 33 inducted members of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York who served during World War II.   Memorable players like Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Luke Appling, Larry Doby, Bobby Doerr, Monte Irvin, Ralph Kiner, Johnny Mize, Pee Wee Reese, Phil Rizzuto, Robin Roberts, Enos Slaughter, Duke Snider,and Ted Williams. Many of the top tier players of that era of the game served during World War II.

Navy Chief Specialist Bob Feller 

On December 8,1941, the day after the Japanese  unprovoked attack on the fleet of Navy vessels anchored in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii,  Cleveland Indians fireballer Bob Feller enlisted in the United States Navy. He was sworn in by former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Gene Tunney, at the Chicago courthouse.

Feller was first assigned to the Norfolk Naval Training Station in Virginia, as part of Tunney’s physical fitness program, and pitched for the Naval Base’s baseball team.But Feller was not happy. “I wanted to get out of the Tunney program and in to combat,” he told author William B Mead. “So I went to the gunnery school there. And I went on the USS Alabama that fall.”

Feller spent the next 26 months as a Chief Petty Officer assigned to an anti-aircraft gun crew on the USS Alabama (BB-60), a South Dakota-class battleship. “We spent the first six or eight months in the North Atlantic. I was playing softball in Iceland in the spring. We came back in the later part of the summer, and went right through the Panama Canal and over to the South Pacific. We hung around the Fiji islands for a while, and then when we got the fleet assembled, and enough men and equipment to start a successful attack, we hit Kwajalein and the Gilberts and the Marshalls and then across to Truk.”

The USS Alabama returned to the United States in the spring of 1945, and Feller was assigned to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in  upper Illinois, where he coached the baseball team and pitched to a 13-2 won-loss record with 130 strike outs in 95 innings. He returned to Major League Baseball in August 1945, and in his Indians debut at home in Cleveland, he beat the Tigers, 4-2, in front 46,477 adoring fans.

 In January 1946, Feller set up a 3-week school in Tampa, Florida, to develop the baseball skills of returning veterans – both aspiring ballplayers and those with some organized baseball experience. Men paid for their own transportation to the school as well as room and board, but the instruction by fellow major leaguers was free for the returning veterans. It was seen as a time to reflect on both the future and the past and gave the players a sense of “normal life” again.

Feller spoke about his military service some years later in a segment on of ESPN’s Major League Baseball Magazine.  Feller said “I’m very proud of my war record, just like my baseball record. I would never have been able to face anybody and talk about my baseball record if I hadn’t spent time in the service.” Then again in 2005, he got a chance to chat with people online during a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. 

 One of the many questions he was asked that day online was whether he had any regrets about serving in the war? “No, I don’t,” Feller replied. “During a war like World War II, when we had all those men lose their lives, sports was very insignificant. I have no regrets. The only win I wanted was to win World War II. This country is what it is today because of our victory in that war”.

Army First Lieutenant Warren Spahn

Former pitcher Warren Spahn entered the military service on December 3, 1942 when he reported to Army Camp Chaffee, Arkansas and pitched for the 1850th Service Unit baseball team. He was then sent to Europe in December 1944 with the 1159th Engineer Combat Group’s 276th Engineer Combat Battalion. ” Let me tell you, that was a tough bunch of guys. We had people that were let out of prison to go into the service. So those were the people I went overseas with,” he told the Hearst Press in 1945, “And they were tough and rough  and I had to fit that mold.”

Spahn soon found himself in the middle of one of the most intense conflicts of the European Theatre, the Battle of the Bulge. “We were surrounded in the Hertgen Forest and had to fight our ways out of there. Our feet were frozen when we went to sleep, and they were frozen when we woke up. We didn’t have a bath or shower, or even a change of clothes for weeks.”

In March 1945, the 276th were responsible for maintaining the traffic flow across the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen, the only remaining bridge to span the Rhine. The bridge was under almost constant attack from the Germans who were desperate to stop the flow of Allied forces into Germany. At the same time they were to build a 140-foot Double Bailey bridge nearby.

 On March 16, Spahn was wounded in the foot by bullet shrapnel while working on the Ludendorff. The following day he had just left the Ludendorff when the entire structure collapsed into the river with the loss of more than 30 US Army Corp of Engineer soldiers. The  entire 276th unit received the Distinguished Unit Emblem and for their efforts to keep the bridge operating, while under constant enemy fire, Staff Sergeant Spahn received a Bronze Star, Purple Heart and a battlefield commission as a second-lieutenant.

After Germany’s surrender in May 1945, First Lieutenant Spahn pitched for the 115th Engineers Group at their base at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. In a four game stretch, he allowed only one run and nine hits while striking out 73 batters. “Before the war I didn’t have anything that slightly resembled self-confidence,” Spahn told the Associated Press in August 1946. “Then I was tight as a drum and worrying about every pitch. But now I just throw them up without the slightest mental pressure.”

Looking back on his military experience Spahn said, “After what I went though overseas, I never thought of anything I was told to do in baseball as hard work. you get over feeling like that when you spend days on end sleeping in frozen tank tracks in enemy threatened areas. The Army taught me something about
challenges and about what’s important and what isn’t. Everything I tackle in baseball and in life I take as a challenge rather than work.”

It would take almost two decades for Spahn to again dorn a military outfit. But this time it was for a much different reason entirely. He had been asked to be a guest star on the Vic Morrow military show “Combat” as an extra in a scene. So Spahn again put on a military uniform, but this time it was as a German soldier in the television show scene.

I am honored to bring the tale of these 2 great Baseball Hall of Fame inductees’ and ex-soldiers to you on this Memorial Day. I am an ex-United States Army Reservist who stepped on the soil in Kuwait on February 23,1990 as a freshly minted Master Sergeant. Until that day I could not fathom the emotions that would come to a swift head in and around me in a combat situation. With an insurgence of pride and courage both my unit and other advancing troops showed such moxy and bravery during that initial first thrust into this occupied country that makes me still stand  so proud today.

On this Memorial Day 2011, I personally salute every man, woman and civilian who has served for their bravery and courage to defend our rights with honor. For so many of the players of this grand game I love so much to also answer that same call to duty only makes this salute more personal to me. Until I served, I really did not understand the emotional tie that binds those who serve, and now can relate and admire the feelings and the emotions of my father who served bravely in the South Pacific.

Until I put on my uniform I might have been one of those people who had taken my freedoms a bit lightly. But now, after seeing the sacrfices of others, and knowing the true spectacle of battle and its after effects, I stand tall and proud and pray for everyone currently stationed both in harm’s way and in safe harbor for their efforts to preserving those rights for all of us today. I am no longer eligible to serve, but if they ever changed those age limitation or need a call to arms, I would be there in a heartbeat once again.

Bring On the PINK!

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Bring on the PINK. This is the time of
the year that brings out a bevy of colorful uniform options from the
special pink shipment of game bats, color schemes among batting
gloves, cleats and even wristbands, plus that symbolic pink ribbon
among every uniform, even the Umpires on this day.


Mother’s Day, the day we celebrate the
person who nurtured us, supported and cheered for us in our early
life sports adventures. Where we pay homage to the woman who kissed
and put Neosporin on our many sports boo-boos. Sure flowers,
breakfast in bed and even a special dinner is in order, but Major
League Baseball should also be on the plate for today’s festivities.


Not just because of the pink-themed
uniform choices, or even the discounts and specials for those special
women in our lives, but to celebrate those who also took on the
monster of cancer and are here surviving and thriving every day.

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Among those on the sidelines today will
be numerous survivors’ of breast cancer who will serve at every Major
League Baseball game today as Honorary Bat Girls. Today is also about
those special women who took on the seemingly endless battle of an
illness that claims so many.


Today is about those who have
triumphed, pushed through and made the sacrifices that gave them back
their lives. The Rays will celebrate this great achievement on
Sunday, May 15th against this same Oriole’s squad when the
team again meet at Tropicana Field.


Among those on the sidelines that day
will be 35-year old Bradenton, Florida resident Shari Elliott who
took on the personal challenge of deciding to “live with cancer
instead of thinking of dying of cancer.”

Elliott is an active volunteer in the
Tampa Bay region at numerous breast cancer awareness events and
personally helps other women who have recently been diagnosed with
the disease cope with the news. During the May 15th
contest, Elliott will throw out the ceremonial First Pitch.


The Rays have also donated 200 tickets
to the game to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and cancer survivors
and volunteers will be handing out pink ribbons symbolic of the
cancer awareness program. Rays and Orioles players will again adorn
their pink-themed gear as a show of faith and support for those who
helped give us life.

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Got to admit, the Honorary Bat Girl
program first enacted in 2009 is one of the greatest symbolic
gestures and events brought to life by Major League Baseball in my
opinion.


I lost both my adopted and birth
Mothers’ to this horrendous illness and applaud and feel proud for
those who have battled and seen positive results for their efforts
and commend those who strive for a cure. Hopefully like so many
deadly illnesses in our human past, this one too will have a cure in
our lifetime.

Even though the Rays are not home today
(May 8th), the chance to bring it to life again on May
15th when the Rays are again at home. In the last 3
years, nearly 4,000 testimonials and 6 million votes have been cast
supporting this great event Elliott is one of 30 “winners”
selected for each of the 30 MLB clubs to participate in this great
event.

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Elliott was among 1.500 entrants that
were selected from more than half a million fan votes on
www.HonoraryBatGirl.com.
From specially made pink bats furnished with the MLB breast cancer
awareness logo, it is a visual sign to the support MLB has for this
heart-wrenching illness.


So let’s hope the balls flies out of
stadiums at a record pace today, and next Sunday as MLB and its fans
celebrate and remember those who took the fight to this disease, and
those who battled gallantly to the end. I think the best way to end
this post today is with a special quote…from the heart.



A Mother is the truest friend we
have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us;when adversity takes
the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our
sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she
cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to
dissipate the clouds of darkness and cause peace to return to our
hearts
.” —    Washington Irving.

Baseball Deserves It’s Own National Holiday

 

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Maybe it is time. Maybe we are at a pivotal point in our gallant sports consciousness that we can finally take a firm first step in this journey. Make that initial swing towards the process of immortalizing this one special day ever year….. forever.

Maybe this is the perfect time to get a few important political allies in line to push for possible binding legal legislation to make Major League Baseball’s Opening Day a Nationally recognized holiday.

I know a majority of us already use it as a stealth day of fun, even possibly at the expense of taking a sick day or calling into work with excuses with gapping holes like Swiss cheese. Maybe by making it an “official” day we can come out of the closet and profess our baseball love to the world without riddicule or penalty. Viva la Beisbol!

giants-opening-day.jpgIs the want to make this day a more than just a symbolic holiday lost on the fact most of us take measures already to cease production, fake sickness or family matter to rush to the ballpark to see that first glorious pitch of the season in person. If it was a defined day on our yearly calendar, then possibly Human Resources Departments or Sales team could coordinate group outings to the ballpark in support of this great day. More fans celebrating this day means more excitement, more revenues, and more special memories

With a key allie of the game currently residing in the White House right now, who shares in our love/hate relationship with the game of our youth, possibly now is the perfect time to consider such an sports-oriented endeavor. Not only does our President, our Commander-in-Chief boldly salute his own deeply-rooted White Sox love, but his yearly invitation to meet the eventual World Champions is a symbol that the highest office in the land has a genuine sense of ultimate baseball respectability.

Now if we can just corral a minimum of 26 United States Senators who also possess the same passion and admiration for the game, we will be well on the way to securing historic legislation. As Jane Aubrey (Kelly Preston) so adamently screamed in “For The Love of the Game” when Billy Chapel (Kevin Coster) was lying on an ER gurney after cutting his pitching hand profusely, “Is baseball not America’s game!”.

Congress needs to acknowledge officially that the American image is firmly planted with roots on the clay and grass baseball field of this Nation, not just subject to apple pie, hot dogs and Chevrolet.

opening_day_2009_1280x1024.jpgAs a baseball community and as a Nation, we should embrace the active thought of a celebrated day solely devoted to “America’s favorite pastime” A sport that doesn’t discriminate on ability, sex, race or even physical limitations. From T-ball, Miracle Leagues all the way to “The Show”, the escalation of the game only breeds warmth and admiration along with the true essence of the American spirit.

We could then outwardly celebrate on this day and support a game that has taught so many of us the rules of teamwork and of binding and bonding together for a common goal. We could celebrate our finest youthful moments again on a yearly basis with a sea of new baseball friends.

Baseball already brings out their own brand of ceremonial pomp and circumstance on this day, but why not include the rest of the sports nation into the fold for a National celebratory moment.

Sure there is still NBA and NHL games on tap, but the first week of April is about the bat and the ball. Of a Spring season of change and possibilities closing with the anticipation of 162 games played between defined chalk lines on pristine grass and immaculately turned clay infields. A game fought with distinctive individual skills, But defined within the team concept. A perfect storm of sports competition.

It deserves a day all its own, red lettered and circled on every calendar in this Country.


Thumbnail image for P4078963AAA.jpgFor this country to celebrate a day dedicated to the sport we know has a long and historic alliance with the United States both at home and abroad, it is a testament to aspect of fair competition and the essence of the American dream. Sure it may be a child’s game played by adults making a boatload of cash, but the childlike expressions on the faces of the players show daily it is not only about the competition, the pride and the admiration of this simple but complex game of chance.

Starting tomorrow maybe we can all collectively voice our opinions on possibly immortalizing forever as a country, baseball’s Opening Day. The time is right for such a couragious venture. We have a President who adores the game. Members of the United States Congress who have either played the game as children, young adults or at the MLB level.

Ground level support is definitely there for all of us to individually and as a Nation showcase our own passion and respect we have for this game that celebrates strength, integrity and unity on the field. Be it Major League Baseball, minor league affiliate or even Independent Baseball, this glorious day should have the added spice of being officially announcing our continous love for this game to the World.

The game has been exported around the World with leagues springing up during every imaginable season of the year devoted to this great game. It is time now to give a big chuck back to the game by getting it the recognition it should have had previously.

BDD_BO_allstar_71409_gett.jpgWe have the chance now with a President who flaunts his long distance alligence, even wearing his South Side Chicago squad’s colors at his current Washington DC address. In President Obama we have a firm example of loving the game from afar, keeping tradition strong no matter the miles or trails and tribulations, of supporting your “hometown” team openly and proudly, even in a polarizing town like Washington.

No matter if you are in the Northeast,Florida, Pacific Northwest or SoCal the passion for your team travels with you and you are open to express that love, even in enemy territory like a Yankee fan in Boston, or a Dodger fan expressing their love in San Francisco. The game transpires all kind of boundaries and deserves a day all its own.

Aubrey was right when she shouted that in “For The Love of the Game“. Baseball is America’s game and now it is time to put it firmly up on it’s pedestal where it belongs, as a National Treasure.

Who Wouldn’t Want the MLB Dream Job?

 

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I was pleasantly intrigued. extremely excited, and definitely interested when I got a friendly nudge from a few MLBlogs.com friends telling me I should apply for the MLB Dream Job position.

I gazed for what seemed like an eternity at the MLB.com page outlining the responsibilites and qualifications for this hallowed MLB position. Even the red boldfaced type headline prompting me to “Live Every Baseball Fan’s Dream Job” just kept my heart skipping and palpitating like Ricky Ricardo playing those Babalooon bongo drums.

This was the type of job within MLB hierarchy I had daydreamed about countless times in my 20′s usually while sitting at the copy clerk desk writing game summaries and doing proofreading duties for my human interest sports articles. But this 2011 MLB position had an exciting and grand social media twist. Certainly the technology aspects of the posts is not a roadblock for me.

I love trying to find 140-characters to describe or even condense an emotion or action. I instantly knew that I had to apply as soon as possible for the position I was born to hold. To say I was anxious when I began to input my information onto the MLB application would be an understatement.


This is definitely the type of job I would have gone solo into the Octagon, even against Chuck Norris and fought to the death in my 20′s. Heck possibly in my 30′s. The aspect of watching MLB games today has evolved into an alternative life form since my first taste of baseball back in the mid-60′s, but that evolution of technology only makes me salivate more, and want this position.

The almost surreal aspect that I could take into my blue eyes a possible 2,430 individual games, then gleefully dissect them into precious moments, then tell the baseball World about it blows even my vivid imagination. Even the first section on “Qualifications” just seemed like it was tailored to have someone like me jumping for joy at the opportunity. Let’s see if I can qualify for the position first:

* Strong writing skills

This one depends on who you ask, but I think I have some mad skills at times, plus I already have a blog reader base (thanks to the MLBlogs.com community & the Rays Republic). Ranking consistently in the Top 10 on the “Latest Leader List” has to be a cherry on top.

* Strong verbal communication skills

I think I can articulate and talk with the best of them, but I am not that “stat” driven baseball guy. Sure I like the quirky side notes and interesting factoids about MLB players or teams, but I can talk you ear off.

* Strong Organizational skills with the ability to give attention to multiple things at the same time

You kidding! I pride myself on having Media Guides, hand-outs and even a few personal tidbits at my side at the ready. Multi-tasking…when was the last time you saw someone outside the Press Box in the stands writing during a game and actually cheering…Check mark!

* Must be a baseball expert.

Here is a grey area. I have a good knowledge of the history and rules of the game, but I learn something new every day about baseball. I feel having an open mind or a varitable sponge at the ready makes me a stronger fan. I go into games and situations with a open objective. That translates into a more positive results, and a fresh pair of eyes. I actually think being a baseball expert limits you ability to adjust and flex your mind.

* Must be comfortable in front of the camera and be able to present a positive public image.

Well, I have been in photos, and videos for the Rays in the past, including a speaking role in “Braveknobs”. I have more of a face for radio, but I am all for the camera….Bring it on!

* Must have a witty and creative personality.

You are talking to the Rays fan who wants to print up “Garfoose Crossing” signs for the regular season. I love coming up with small interesting ideas or even venturing into small projects that tend to show my diverse range of story directions. I like to write myposts once,proofread them, then post.

* Must complete a background check to the satisfaction of MLB.

I have not even gotten a speeding ticket since 1999. Not saying I am as clean as Mr. Cleans white T-shirt, but there should not be anything in my past that would pop a huge red “X” upon my character…allegedly.


From there the position goes into specification of having to live within the Big Apple for the entire MLB season. Now even though I love my Rays within an inch of my own existence, a job like this only comes around once in a lifetime. I guess if selected I can have some sort of optimistic “Empire State of Mind”, but I will gaze upon the Rays from afar nightly ( I promise).

Who in their right baseball state of mind would not jump at the chance to see all MLB regular and postseason contests either by video or in person….No one! That bit in that paragraph about “must be present” at the games, if I had the MLB Dream Job position, stadium security might be the only ones keeping me away from a game. But then I always have MLB.TV if that happens (lol).



I would be as giddy as a school girl if I had the credentials and ability to cover, ask questions or even be a part of any press conference, media event. Imagine evn getting a opportunity to possibly sit on the grass at the 2011 All Star Game during the State Farm Home Run Derby and listen for that crack sound of the ball speeding off the bat from field level…Can you say once in a lifetime.

There is this funny sentence that states I “must share thoughts regarding games and topics of MLB interest via daily blogging, vlogging and through social media platforms. Do they know me? I am a budding social butterfly of the social networks. I currently post every day on MLBlogs.com, plus just past a huge plateau (1,000th post and 500,00 page views). Social media will not be a hindrance in any way. Heck, this position is a huge platform to get my overall baseball views out there. Count me in an that with a vengeance.

I think my writing has transformed a lot during my time at MLBlogs.com. I love to write about charity events, concerts and even the special little things that happen out of the usual fan’s eyesight. These thing intrigue me, and even if I am not selected, my style will not cease.

I enjoy my little patch within the MLB World, but sometimes you have to try and spread your wings and see if you can fly. Expanding my views, location and possibly my mind is an exhilarating thought, and one I would be eager to engage. Change is what keeps us out of the muck and mud of a stagnant existence.

I submitted a 500-word essay that started off with a personal experience that set my own MLB lifestyle in motion. It was about how as a young Little Leaguer I was playing the hot corner in a game and a ball hit a rock, clay, or maybe a boulder in front of me and the speeding ball took an extreme bad hop up into the bridge of my nose.

My Coach wanted me to come out of the game since blood was trickling down both of my cheeks, but I screamed at the top of my little lungs, “Brooks Robinson wouldn’t come out, neither am I!”  That is the basis behind my MLB Dream Job application. You only get one shot at this life, and if you balk, take a step back or falter for a moment….something gets by you and it is lost forever.

Maybe that is why I yearn for a chance at this position. I gave up my journalistic dream because of a family situation and I am reminded of it every day. But I found the strength again to write, to give my opinion, to seek out the unknown and known facts of the game to educate, entertain and hopefully inform people.

The act of competition can be a great motivator and a great equalizer. Hopefully MLB seethe strength, committment and stamina I have not only for writing, but in life itself to give me a shot at this position. Hopefully one day I will be posting from the MLB office in NYC telling you about my wild first day.

If not you can be sure I will be reading your first day’s adventures at the MLB Dream Job. Either way, I will comment, and live vicariously through your muses and writs during that entire year…You can count on it!

 

 

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Open Letter to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig

 

From the Desk of  Rays Renegade

 January 4, 2011

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig,
 
I am writing you today to give you some of my MLB fan-based opinions. Hopefully with a few well placed facts and a emotional incentive to possibly charge forward in changing this distrubing “Third World” trend of actions.

I am sorry to say Mr. Commissioner, I am not writing about PED’s, tomorrow’s Baseball Hall of Fame announcement, or even the implimentation of the dreaded salary cap who’s thought might give you horrid nightmares.

I must address this non-democratic situation that I feel we, as a baseball loving Nation have failed our warm breezed cousins to the South. Maybe because I have lived in this country my entire life I am a bit naive to the complexity of the Hispanic community to the South of Florida. But I still think change is needed Mr. Commissioner.
 
It seem that the actions of few corrupt entities within the Southern Hemisphere Hispanic power gird have impoverished so many young ballplayers in the Tropical belt of the Caribbean and South America that want to play professional baseball. It is a land where a single soul can command the intentions and the dreams of hundreds that love to play our national past time, and they just treat them as if they were hired help.

The fact that a  single buscone or ” finder” can manipulate the potential fiscal rewards to a player and circumvent needed revenues to become instant millionaires by preying  and praying on the sweat and blood of young boys yearning to fulfill their baseball dreams of becoming the “next” Roberto Clemente, or David Ortiz. How can the United States of America, one of the biggest and baddest countries on the face of this earth just simply stand back and let a stable of Third World bullies decree which players get a chance, and which are destined to a life of poverty.

Mr. Commissioner, you can become that one authority figure who can bring about change and finally remove the tyranny of the buscones or “finders” forever. You could make another footnote to your MLB legacy that you, Bud Selig as MLB Commissioners helped to first formulate rules, regulations and possibly even establish an outside the United States MLB First Years Player Draft system that would provide players outside the confines of the current system a chance to be recognized and rewarded for their years of hard work.

I am not asking for this in 2011, or even within the next 3 years. I know that you will need the backing of one of the most powerful men in baseball with you. That is why I am also sending a letter to Michael Weiner the current President of the Major League Baseball Players Association asking that both administrative branches of this great sports combine energies to promote, provide and institute future avenues for players outside this country to be treated the same as the North American born players we acquire via our current MLB First Year Player Draft system.

With both the MLB and MLBPA set to begin discussing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in the Winter of 2011, this could be a essential sidebar issue that can get more extended revenues within the MLB coffers, plus establish more jobs and positions within that region’s realm of the game. Could be a plus, plus for both side of the CBA coin.

I know that even a preliminary discussion will consuming hours of dialogue, mountains of correspondence, and endless phone calls, but isn’t the overall health and futurue history of our game worth that sweat and struggles? 

The game has evolved so much on the field in the last 25 years, shouldn’t our focus now be on the souls left behind by this progress..Think about it Mr. Commissioner, you can be the savior of millions of future Hispanic baseball players that will be discovered in MLB-sanctioned Baseball Academys set up in the early 2000′s by our favorite MLB teams with the intent to discover new talent, and permanently plug ourselves into a new talent stream.

We saw the first two players from India signed two years ago, and a petite Japanese woman knuckleball pitcher signed to a minor league contracts just last season. Why not give future rising stars in this new World “hot bed of talent” a realistic chance to come on board with respected representation, and loose the stress of wondering if documentation, or even money has changed hands before a single signature is committe to paper.
 
Can you honestly say Commissioner Selig that you have not felt the disgust and embarrassment of the past few years when countless players are found to be illegally obtained by doctored birth certificates, name changes, or simple taking another person’s name for the sake of the game’s paychecks and prestige.

I know that sports agents have been called the leeches of the modern athlete, but they do not suck dry the blood of their clients the way some of these diabolical buscones or even “family” advisers do in parts of the unmanaged MLB world order. Every year more players come clean about the falsifications of their pasts, and we just slap their hands and let them fall back into line.
 
By expelling the human parasites that prey on these players and their families we are ridding society of a deceptive epidemic that needs to be exterminated, eradicated and made extinct.  Mr. Commissioner, you can be the man that will be held up in  the future as the “man who brought baseball and the world together through equality”.

That would be a humanitarian MLB legacy that would transcend anything else you have done as Commissioner of Baseball.
 
You could be remembered in the town of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic as the man who made fair and equal laws for everyone to play this great game. Major League Baseball has been diligent in the past trying to erase these evils and bring honesty  back to these regions.

When MLB established a MLB-sanctioned home base in the Dominican to combat these false records and documentations,  somehow players still funneled into the country and were exposed later. Underage players were found out and returned to their countries if they had not at least reached the age of 17. Can you imagine spending even a month in a country like the U S  after living in lesser condition in your home country. 
 
Commissioner Selig, you can be the man who can stand proud at the forefront of this revolution to show that we are through with the lies and deceptions, that truth should be the common language, and that players should be rewarded for their talents, not placed like meat in a glass showcase and sold to the highest dolla. 

In closing Commissioner Selig, I ask of you that we finally end this tyranny of the few that prey on the weak and poor who only want to play baseball. By establishing at least a dialogue to begin constructing a World Amateur Draft, we can show the entire world that baseball can overcome more than just money and power, but can improve lives and establish fair play beyond just the baseball diamond.

I know I am only one soul writing to you, but sometimes a single voice in the dark can lead you into the light. If we are to keep moving forward as a sport, we have to take other sports lead on the outside countries rights to fairness and equality.

The best way to show that is to point to the NBA, which drafts players from around the world. If you really want to leave this sport in a manner that future generations will remember your name, then by taking on the equality of the Tropics in regards to baseball related matters might be a giant step for your own immortality.
 
Thank you again Commissioner Selig for your time. I hope to again shake you hand at the Spring Training Grand Slam Dinner again at Tropicana Field in 2011. I am just someone who loves this sport, and only wants to see it grow into a world wide phenomenon.
 

Sincerely Yours,   

Rays Renegade

 

cc:  United States President Barack Obama, Matt Silverman, Presdient of the Tampa Bay Rays Baseball Club, Michael Weiner, Executive Director of the MLBPA.
 

Not Sure about the Orlando Yankees, but O-Town needs a Team


baseballinorlando.jpg 

The city of Orlando has always been an optimistic little borough centralized . If you mentioned the city’s name to most people, it would quickly entertain visits to Disney World or Universal Studios, and it might even bring back memories of watching spacecraft launch off the Space Coast headed for the Stars. For a long time it was considered one of those ” cities on the cusp” of becoming a striving metropolis.


Right now however it is the epicenter of the Winter first folly for Major League Baseball as the league’s 30 General Manager and higher echelons filter into this Mickey Mouse town not to see the new sparkling Amway Center for a Orlando Magic game, but hopefully to part with a few MLB souvenirs of their own before packing and leaving.

Within the hustle and bustle of all this activity surrounding the possibilities and envisioned movements for 2011 is a want by this once sleepy little town to again be considered “on the edge and hip”. Once again this town wants to have professional baseball within its city limits, and the team it is pursuing might surprise you. The city now boasts only Spring Training baseball out at the Walt Disney World of Sports complex when the Houston Astros come into play from late February to the end of March.

For a long time, this region had a team to call their own before the Tampa Bay Rays decided to move their Double-A affiliation to Montgomery, Alabama and left the city bare of any minor league baseball. But all that could soon change if Armando Gutierrez Jr. has his way. The former 8th district United States Senate candidate feels so passionate about this endeavor he withdrew his name from his Senate race and pushed his loyalties and political clout towards again eating popcorn and Cracker Jacks at a future Orlando baseball game.

When the group first announced its intentions to find a professional baseball partner for the city, some mused that the city might be trying to entice and influence the Rays ownership to have team possibly migrate along the I-4 corridor from the west coast of Florida to O-town. But that illusion was quickly eliminated from the formula as the Rays did not seek such a drastic change of local, but only wanted to expand their team presence towards Orlando by providing more exposure through out-of-town television and radio broadcasts to the Orlando and it massive suburbs.

And Gutierrez had the right bait on his fishing pole to try and seduce the Rays ownership as one of his key points to his sought after goal of bringing professional baseball back to Orlando would be to build a state of the art baseball facility and a baseball museum. Both actually played well into the Rays foreseeable future want and need for a new stadium, and with the Rays also currently housing the Ted Williams Hitters Museum within the bowels of Tropicana Field, it might have been a perfect “two birds in the bush” analogy for Gutierrez.

Gutierrez however is not focusing on the Rays. He has a bigger fish in his sights and after meeting with some interesting possible investors while on his U S Senate campaign, Gutierrez has set his sight on another classic minor league team that would bring both local and out of town fans by seducing them with the attractions of baseball and the other surrounding family activities that could be enjoyed during the Spring and Summer months in sunny Florida.

 

Orlando Yankees proposed Stadium photo

 
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Many might not know the surface plans of Gutierrez and his crew of motley investors setting their sights upon the Florida State League Tampa Yankees and possibly moving them 90-odd miles to a what they consider a more desirable location set within a vibrant young city landscape. Suddenly Gutierrez’s focal point shifted from just trying to entice a team to relocate here to possibly being part of an ownership group that would purchase the FSL franchise and move it into their proposed stadium.

But you have to take this teasing with a grain of salt. How hard do you think the city of Tampa will fight any movement or even relocation of the Yankee Spring Training complex and Class-A squad after the city sunk in so much financial resources, initially posting bonds to provide for the massive upgrade and changes to George Steinbrenner Field and the surrounding area.

This is not to say Gutierrez is putting all his baseball in one bucket, but he is definitely swinging hard for the fences in trying to relocate an iconic baseball affiliate from a well-known locale that treasures the Yankee legacy and fan following like a pilgrimage each Spring. If Gutierrez and his crew can get such a franchise, the Orlando region instantly lights up as a possible relocation sight for a future MLB franchise.

This is not to push the aspect of MLB putting a franchise right into the lap of O-town, but with the backing of such industry giants as Disney and Universal Studios, it would be insane for MLB’s top tier to not at least research and entertain a possibility. Put the added essence of the Rays saying the right words right now in public, but not on paper about their continued involvement in the Tampa Bay region, and you get a small state of flux within the heart of the state right now.

I actually commend Gutierrez and his enthusiastic crew for�their brash and candid decision to thrust it all into the fire here and go for an iconic minor league affiliate that would instantly bring attention to his city and their efforts to again have baseball within its city limits. Back in the early 2000′s, I used to attend a few Orlando DevilRays game when the big team was out of town on road trips. It is a great community with all the hustle and bustle of a thriving metropolis intertwined with the charm and romance of Southern baseball traditions.

It take a lot of courage and conviction for a man to withdraw his name from an election towards securing a prestigious post like a seat in the U S Senate. But sometimes the passion and enticement of the game can be more alluring than a trio of sirens upon the rocks. Gutierrez and his group are firmly committed to standing at the plate and taking whatever baseball throws at them. Not sure how this will all turn out in the end, but Gutierrez sounds like one of those guys who will not stand there and take a third called strike. I think he will find his team soon and the goal will slowly unfold again to have Baseball back in O-town.

MLB Need a Golden Globes-style Awards Show…Seriously!

 


                  
 
After watching the MTV Video Music Awards last night, I am wondering why Major League Baseball doesn’t incorporate all their major end of the year awards into a 1 or 2 hour spectacle like some of the award shows. We have seen some shows begin to flounder (VMA’s) while others have gone sky high ( ESPYs) and it only seems fitting that MLB would head this direction. The main catalyst for such an idea is that sometimes players are their best PR material.

With MLB now hosting a Red Carpet event the day of the All Star game, MLB is already in the infant stages of possibly developing and conceptualizing a one night event that would be held right after the conclusion of the All Star game. Think about an event like this for a moment, you could have the newly crowned World Champions take the stage to a standing ovation from their peers, plus get some huge fan exposure.

You know that ESPN, the MLB Network and maybe even Fox Television would all salivate over such a proposition. And with the advent of the Fashion Police watching these Red Carpets, some of the best dressed players in all of baseball would surely be eager to flaunt the “catwalk. And why not, this is a visual world now unlike the audio and print Worlds of our parents. With the advent of Youtube and social media stalwarts Facebook and Twitter, the foundation is there for immediate fan involvement.

 

I think it would be a great event to see some of the stars that we have heard about in nightly sports clips shows and through the fan grapevine strut their stuff, plus give MLB fans a different prospective of the guys they see toil on the clay and turf for 162 games. You could see them in fresh Armani suits doing walk-up interviews and posing for the cameras on the green carpet. That’s right, green carpet. Since the guys always push their trade upon the green grass, why not institute a green carpet (brought to you by Field Turf or Astroturf II) for the event to give it a pronounced burst of authenticity.


And you know that there are more than willing baseball celebrity fanatics who would be willing to take time out to introduce a category, or even socialize with their favorite baseball player(s). And you know that MLB Network would be more than thrilled to have one of their own possibly be the event’s host or even selected for possibly the main award of the night. And you could push the announcement of the major MLB awards all to one central date to boost and get more immediate exposure for the Rookies of the Year, Most Valuable Player, and Cy Young recipients.

You could delay the usual Roberto Clemente Award presentation for this event, and possibly have the added venture of our favorite stars who won the certain award previously present that season’s prize, just like the Academy Awards. As I saw last night, the usual VMA’s is getting a bit too, well flawed. Not by the artists or even the hosts or presenters’, but by the aspect of no excitement or suspense anymore. But maybe that is because of the Lady Gaga factor that tends to neutralize some of your emotions on that award show.

 

But the same could happen here. Manny could be Manny in an entirely different stage by having him sit next to former teammate David Ortiz, or with new Manager Ozzie Guillen and see how they play off each other outside the ballpark. You would definitely see some of the “Hollywood factor” in the house as young ballplayers would be seeking out starlets and event escorts to push their social cred higher and higher by walking in with some of the countries most desired womenfolk.


But most of all, it will bring the visually stimulated and informed fans into a centralized event to watch, discuss and emulate their favorite baseball stars. If Phillies star Jimmy Rollins showed up to an event like this sporting a new type of Nike suit, or even a certain tie, the public would clamor and search for that new item with glee and abandon until they possessed one for themselves. This might be the next stop in the evolution of MLB outside the ballpark.

And you know there is a huge selection of past and present Hollywood icons and stars who have that passion and zeal for the game of baseball that would be more than willing to present awards, or even entertain. Heck, MLB.com has several bands like Train, Hoobastank, O.A.R. and even newcomers like Wilco and David Nail who are already on the MLB Entertainment route who would love to perform or even showcase their love for the game.

Having an event like this would create a buzz at the end of the season, would bring a new social aspect to seeing players outside the game element, and bring some of them to a better understanding by the fans. It only seems natural to me that an event like this could unfold from MLB to become another one of the sporting worlds crowned jewels in a short time. People love these types of events, and the usual yearly awards could be repositioned in a way to accommodate and facilitate a smooth transition to this new awards format. No longer will awards be stretched out over a 3 weeks period.

 

In our age of instant technology there could be voting done within the scope of the post season before the respective Division Championship Series ends. Hype and award speculation could be cultivated between the AL or NL Championship Series own conclusion. And mixed with the World Series usual pageantry and circumstance, a new level of baseball yearning can be born. It only seems like the next logical step for MLB.

These types of events can be huge marketing tools to introduce a new segment of the MLB experience, or even offer additional ticket sales that would trump the prices of World Series tickets as everyone will want to be there to rub elbows and possibly get a photo op with their sports obsession.


It could be the next evolution of MLB towards focusing their brand into the social aspects of the game, plus bring a new dimension of the players to the fans. Events like the Tampa Bay Rays own Fashion Show and player appearances in the community going for blocks show that fans want to visually see their favorite players in a different hue outside the bright lights of the stadium playing surface.

 

It would be an event players will schedule on their calendars, sponsors would swoop in and capitalize on the last baseball up-swing before the Winter begins, it would be the last huge social event of the MLB season. Anyways, what baseball fans wouldn’t want to know what designer or even what pattern someone like Ichiro Suzuki or Jose Valverde wear off the turf? Might even be the perfect social setting for the Rays BRAYSer…

MLB= Maple Legalized Bats

This is the last part of a 3 part series on the current maple bat controversy. I have decided that tomorrow, 1/23/2009, I am going to profile two of the current inventors who have decided that have viable alternatives to today’s bats. Both have promoted safety and reliability of the bats, even at an affordable price for MLB teams and players. Hopefully in late 2009, we will no longer have to address this kind of matter and we can all feel safe and secure, even in the front rows at our favorite ball parks around America.

There is nothing quite like the breaking of a bat during a baseball game. the sound of the wood splintering after the perfect pitch blended with the sight of the hitter holding the remnants of his destroyed weapon make for a thrilling sight for baseball fans. Lately however, broken bats have been anything but amusing and colorful. Bats are no longer just breaking; they are exploding and sending fragments everywhere and not concerned about damages or injuries to others.

Today’s bats are not breaking cleanly, or even staying together at the barrel, but hurdling shattered remains in all directions without regard for safety. And the one thing that has been constant in all of these matter of shattering shards being propelled at spectators, players and even MLB officials, is that they have not yet become lethal.The culprit is plain and simple to baseball officials. The maple bat has brought upon the major league baseball diamonds a new fear and a constant reminder of safety issues that need to be addressed before a critical injury takes a life on the field, or in the grandstands. 

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is aware and concerned about the matter. In this 3rd installment on the maple bat controversy, I will be addressing the MLB leadership moves so far to curtail further damage. I will also inform you of two inventors who believe they have a solution to the epidemic that is plaguing the bat world. Hopefully this series has enlightened a few people to the real dangers and the consequences of turning away from this issue. At stake is maybe a life, or a permanent injury to a fan or player that could have been avoided if action was taken swift and forceful beginning in the Spring of 2009.

Some people have asked me how the MLB could let such an issue proliferate? Well, for starters, the collective bargaining agreement between the players union and the baseball owners makes it difficult for baseball, like a large tractor-trailer, to make swift and sharp turns. In 2006 labor negotiations, the owners did ask the players union for permission to change the official bat specifications over the concern for the maple bats, but the players opposed those specifications. 

 Currently baseballs approved bats can have a barrel no larger than 2 3/4 inches, with handles no thinner than 16/19th of an inch diameter, and a total length of no more than 42 inches.In comparisons, the bat that Babe Ruth used in 1927 was a 35-inch bat with a weight of 40-ounces.  The funny part is that Ruth, the father of power hitting, did not need such as weight or mass in his bat. Because the bat already has so much more mass than the ball, bat speed ( velocity ) is much more significant than the mass.

Selig decided that he needed to get the collection of  varied opinions together from both the owners and the players union and commissioned the MLB Health and Safety committee to address this situation  on June 24, 2008. The 16-member panel  convened in New York to discuss what steps could be taken to either eliminate or curb the problem.  The committee consists of 8 members of the players association, and 8 members of the MLB management. They discussed the issue of the maple bats during their meeting. They went over the facts that maple bats show a surface hardness of 20 percent over the typical ash bat, and spent the bulk of the meeting going over the specifications currently on the MLB books concerning the bat’s handles, weights, thickness and overall durability.

Before this meeting ever began, MLB had been investigating the maple bat situation by gathering from all 30 teams the remnants of  all broken bats over the course of at least 6 weeks to try and give more evidence to the committee about the bat controversy.  The maple bat balancing act that the committee was trying to foster would have to satisfy not just the owners, but also the players. What ended up coming out of the June meeting was that MLB needed to do more experiments on the bats, and also consult with bat manufacturers and seethe formulation of the individual bat from billet to completed model.

The committee knew that in light of the situation that an agreement  of overall  opinions during this first meeting would be unheard of considering they needed to satisfy all parties with their recommendations. They also knew that the players would veto any action that would of boycotted the use of the maple bats. An idea of extending the protective netting might help the fans, but still players would be at risk having to stand within 150 feet of the batters box, with no protection.  And the idea of having one bat inspector who would monitor and approve bats before delivery would be costly and not very effective because of bats already out in the MLB system could be used without  officials noticing before their breakage.

One bright light did come out of the meeting, the members agreed upon an idea to increase the bat’s dimensions. Be it a larger bat handle larger than 16/19th of an inch, or a smaller weight-to-length ratio  ( 34 inch bat would weigh 30.5 ounces ).  Another option brought up was a smaller barrel ( 2 3/4 inches ) would actually chafe a few players because of a change in the bats hitting surface. That would give hitters less bat space to hit and would require them to re-define their swings accordingly.

 For now, MLB is sending its samples to Jim Sherwood, who runs the Baseball Research Center at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and conducted a test in 2005 that showed maple provides no greater performance off the bat than ash but does break differently, snapping instead of cracking. MLB did institute new bat rules in December 2008, and the news was not met well by current bat manufacturers who feel their bottom line will be affected by the new regulations.

This regulation is viewed by the bat manufacturers as a costly addition to current bat production because of the change in the location of the bat manufacturer’s stamp on the bat. It will take a retooling of the lathes and machinery used to burn the logo into the bats and the desired location for the MLB’s new stamp would hinder sales and recognition of the product.  Starting in  2009, all bats are mandated to have the bat company’s stamp on the edge grain and no longer on the face grain of the bat.  Stamps  were to be located on the face grain  ever since they were invented, and it has been a common practice to teach players to use the bat with the label facing towards them in order to hit the ball 90 degrees from the label.

 Extensive testing from MLB during a six-month-long study of maple bats showed hitting on the wood’s face grain would bring about fewer breaks than the edge grain. Baseball hired the Forest Products Laboratory, a government entity, along with Harvard statistician Carl Morris, and wood-certification company TECO to analyze more than 2,200 bats broken in MLB games between July 2 and Sept. 7 2008. Their primary task was to figure out why the bats are breaking and make suggestions to limit future breaks before a serious or mortal injury. Their  scientific conclusion was that the former conventional wisdom that discouraged face-grain contact was actually wrong.

The  teams’ research and testing found that the  large percentage of  shard inducing breaks, or ones in which barrels with splintered ends go airborne like medieval weaponry were actually due to a poor “slope of grain” on the wood itself.  The best quality of wood to use for baseball bats have an even grain, and some manufacturers were using low-quality wood with large barrels and thin handles, leading to increased breakage and  bat damages. The other suggestion, about hitting on the face grain, came from Roland Hernandez, a TECO employee.And Hernandez should know a thing or two about the bat manufacturing process having been the owner of a previous bat company, Rockbats, which made maple bats for the MLB. He then  began to work at Forest Products Laboratory before finally going to work for TECO. Rockbats was the only company to  suggest hitting on the face grain. No MLB player currently uses Rockbats in games. 

But another bat manufacturer even went beyond a simple word with the press about this new regulation and sent a memo to every bat  company owners and operators, and  to the MLB key man in this investigation, Roy Krasik .  Romeo Filip wrote a email containing 696 very terse and subjective words to show his distaste for the MLB’s new mandate.  He states that the tensile strength of wood  runs down its edge grain.  Hitting against the grain would produce bats that will snap more violently and towards the center of the field and not down the foul lines.  

Filip’s company, Diablo Bats isn’t doing much business right now. He is in a group of about 30 companies that produce some form of a maple bat for the MLB players.  He says that the MLB study, that cost around $ 500,000 dollars has doubled the licensing fees  required to sell bats to MLB players. Plus the addition  of a insurance policy with at least $ 10 million dollars in coverage is now mandated by MLB.

So the MLB studied the regression analysis of bats that had broken on the field in 2008, tested the actual wood, and also compared models and brands to see who’s might be  considered a safer alternative to the current bats out on the market. They studied both ash and maple bats to give ample scientific proof for both models without bias or prejudice on the types of bats.  This testing did finalize the thinking that with ash bats, players should still hit with the edge grain to prevent shelling or flaking of the bats during the hitting process.

MLB also visited three current bat manufacturers plants to view first-hand the bat making process. They included in this tour the plants of  Hillerich & Bradsby, the parent company of Louisville Slugger, and also The Original Maple Bat Corporation, the home of Sam’s Bats. What is unique about Sam’s bat is that their original maple bat was actually a bet made in a bar in 1996 by an old MLB scout, Bill McKenzie to Sam Holman, who dabbled a bit in carpentry and created the  bat  producing company out of a bar bet.

MLB then released their 50 page study which is not available to the public, and bat manufacturers’  were not content with the scientific merit of the findings.  One company posed a question to the  MLB Health and Safety committee during a conference call asking if they had conducted testing on bats that weren’t breaking to see why they preformed better than other models.  MLB’s answer to this was “No”. They decided not to submit the study to a peer review , figuring that the checks and balances from the large assortment of scientists would be enough variety in opinions and findings. One bat manufacturer has stated that the MLB’s new regulation can be beaten. the current MLB test to find out if a bat has a even grain is to place on ink dot on the bat handle, and if it bleeds more than a quarter of an inch diagonally, the bat will not be certified.  He states that by rubbing 250-grit sandpaper over the handle before the test, it closes the pores on the wood and masks its true grain.

The confusion is spiraling all the way down to the players, who know that the new models will arrive before spring training. Bat makers are trying to call the players in advance to let them know about the regulation changes, and why the bats will have a different look to them in 2009.  Even if the bat companies now suggest that the players hit with the face grain, the players have adapted their own ways of hitting and might not take to the change at first. But after a period of time they will also have to adjust and find ample ways to combat the new bats and their face grains.

MLB will again meet with the bat manufacturers some time during spring training and discuss the drying process that the bats go through in their  bats production. Also under consideration during that meeting will be the shape of the bat and the way it might break under pressure.  This is considered the first steps in trying to gain a foothold on the problem.  The committee might be more of an evolving group right now considering that more scientific tests and findings are revealed all the time. 

Also not revealed to the public would be any penalties or even fines  that could be imposed if someone uses an non-certified bat or even hides the fact they are using such bats in their games. This will be an on-going and basically be a feel-in-the-dark period for baseball during Spring Training. Hopefully by the time the player take the field in April, MLB and the players will have adjusted, and the batting controversy will begin to fade into the background with the game again being the lone giant on the field.  

The MLB management will continue evolving the batting controversy until it is finally considered totally safe and injuries and bat shards are again a thing of the past.  hopefully in 2009, this will be the beginning of a great revolution in the bats used by professional baseball players. And with the changes already starting to take the game to another level, hopefully a death or serious in jury will not propel us into a  last second ban or elimination of any type of bat.


   
 
 

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