Results tagged ‘ Oakland Athletics ’
Say what you want about Tampa Bay Rays reliever Grant Balfour. Some comments center on his spiral anger issues, while other wonder why during years with even numbers his stats tend to go a bit south.
So it is no surprise to me that Balfour along with Chicago Cubs P Andre Rienzo and Milwaukee Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke will make up an extremely diverse Major League Baseball trio of Ambassadors during their trek to Balfour’s homeland of Australia from Dec 12-21st.
Some people say the “Angry Aussie” has easily compiled the best career mark ever in the M L B among those bearing Aussie roots, and so many around the baseball world and in his home country view him as a bit of a cult hero because of his tirades with those white Rawlings baseballs, and has ruffled quite a few feathers among M L N hitters.
Few players display their passion on their sleeves like Balfour in the game today and his outward pouring of high energy emotions and a few choice words can polarize some baseball fans opinions of the pitcher.
But that persona of anger and disdain for baseballs of aspects of the game is not the true essence of Balfour, or the Balfour I have known during his times with the Rays. He has always been cordial to fans, stopping to talk with them, hold endearing conversations and offering friendship to many who sit around the area of the Rays Bullpen.
During my time in that same area of Tropicana Field, I have not seen Balfour refuse an autograph, not stop to at least acknowledge a fan calling out his name and for the most part being a great ambassador of the Rays.
So it must be thrilling for Balfour to get the chance to visit his homeland and I imagine a stop in his hometown of Kings Langley which is a suburb of Sydney.
But the fact is Balfour has done some amazing things over his 11 years playing professional baseball in the U.S. with visits to the World Series with the Rays, plus being selected to the American League All-Star squad during his tenure with the Oakland Athletics back in 2013.
Balfour and crew are expected to arrive in Sydney on Thursday, Dec 11th and enjoy a free day before commencing on the 8-day M L B Ambassador Tour.
Here is a tentative sampling of the events and activities that Balfour will attend and participate in during the 8-day MLB Ambassadors Tour:
On Friday, Dec 12th, Balfour will be present at a Welcome Home Press Conference in Sydney and then to Blue Sox Stadium and will meet fans before throwing out the First Pitch at the Sydney Blue Sox and Adelaide Bite game.
On Saturday, Dec 13th , Balfour and his fellow Ambassadors will hold a MLB Training with the Pros session at Sydney’s Blue Sox’s stadium for local junior players. If you have not heard about the Training with the Pros sessions, it is a long standing MLB program in partnership with Baseball Australia and the teams of the Australian Baseball League which provides hands on skill-training from Australian and foreign-born professional baseball players.
Balfour and the group will then travel to meet fans who attend the Canberra Cavalry and Melbourne Aces match later in the day.
On Sunday, Dec. 14th, Balfour will be in attendance in Sydney and also take part in what should be an emotionally-charged tribute to his father, David Balfour, acknowledging his contributions to Australian baseball. Balfour will also be on hand to meet fans pre-game who came to watch that days Sydney Blue Sox versus Adelaide Bite game.
The group will take Monday off as a travel day and land in Melbourne.
On Tuesday, Dec. 16th, Balfour and his fellow Ambassadors will hold a press conference at Melbourne Ballpark and meet with the Australian Baseball All-Stars team members.
On Weds., Dec 17th, Balfour will serve as an honorary Team Australian Captain during the Australian All-Baseball League All-Star game that pits the best home grown Aussie talents against the best of the imported players in the league.
On Thursday, Dec 18th, the group will travel to the Gold Coast and hold a special Training with the Pros session in Coomera with local junior players.
On Friday, Dec 19th the Ambassadors will travel to Brisbane and hold a MLB Training with the Pros session at AFA Stadium at Holloway Field. The group will then meet fans and attend the Brisbane Bandits versus Canberra Cavalry game.
It is great to see Balfour and his MLB colleagues hit Australia this off season and give back. You have to believe it will be especially satisfying for Balfour to see how the game has grown in his home country and the heights it has reached in each of these vistas he and the MLB Ambassadors will visit during their trip.
I have no worries Balfour and his MLB crew will not only make a difference, but I know Balfour will bring back so many grand stories of how much the game has changed and how it has further impacted his life.
Can’t wait to hear a few of them while leaning on the Right Field rail this spring.
Native Americans believe that nine different spirit animals or totems are connected to us throughout our lives acting as guides to steer us towards events or occurrences that will define our lives. They believe these nine animals are with us for life and even as they all have their purpose, one is the lead animal that will show the way and provide moments of clarity and awareness. We now know that the opossum has to be one of the Oakland Athletic’s nine focal spirit animals. And possibly with this white-faced creature showing itself to the assembled masses last night in the bottom of the 10th inning of a tied contest between the Tampa Bay Rays and the home town A’s, his presence had to be the deciding element to sway the energies last night and provide a victory. It’s the only logical reasoning for the way the bottom of the 10th inning played out for the Tampa Rays last night. For the Opossum spirit animal is a deceiver, a strategist and an animal that uses deception to his advantage now both on and off the baseball diamond. Whatever else could have caused such a rapid and defining chain of events that led to the A’s snapping the Rays road winning streak with this very peculiar stage of events? I mean the Rays had the fiery ex-Athletic, current Rays reliever Grant Balfour growling on the hill, but somehow the elements did not favor the Aussie one tonight as he saw not one, but 2 consecutive hitters get out of the 0-2 hole and find solace upon the base paths. The first Oakland hitter Alberto Callaspo saw 4 pitches before lining out to left for the first out of the inning. The inning started to look a bit uneventful for the A’s. Then all bets seemed to be off as our opossum made his appearance strutting down the outfield wall in left field to his favorite cubbyhole just after Balfour’s first pitch to someone the O-town locals call “Super Sam” ( wonder where they got that name) Fuld. Possibly the opossum occurrence inspired Fuld who was down 0-2 at the moment on 2 straight called strikes. Fuld then found his pitch and deposited it into center field to become the A’s first base runner of the inning. Opossum 1, Rays 0. Then another former Rays, this time a chap named John Jaso swung mightily at 2 straight Balfour offerings as Balfour again had another A’s batter down 0-2 before Jaso, possibly through the vision of the opossum, gained a bit of serenity and somehow secured himself a free pass to First base via a walk. Opossum 2, Rays 0. The during the at bat by Oakland 3B Josh Donaldson we witnessed the usually steady defensive duo of Sean Rodriguez and Kevin Kiermaier somehow let a white sphere drop not in their gloves, but to the green turf down the left field line missing a golden opportunity to garner a much needed out from this A’s and keep them from victory. Wonder if S-Rod or the Outlaw saw a opossum out of the corner of their eye, or possibly seated in the stands? Donaldson’s at bat also produced a double whammy of not only reaching base by another walk by Balfour, but also via a deceived fourth ball that got Rays Manager Joe Maddon all ballistic and led to his eventual ejection from the contest by Home Plate Umpire Quinn Wolcott. Opossum 3, Rays 0. That set up a bases loaded situation with one out for the A’s next batter, Brandon Moss. Unfortunately Moss ended up striking out setting up the possible walk-off scenario for the next hitter, Derek Norris. Balfour quickly got Norris behind in the count 0-2 before Norris followed Fuld’s lead and hit a game-winning single into center field breaking the Rays road winning streak and sending the Aussie muttering to himself about lost opportunities. Sure the victory went to the A’s that night, but somewhere, under the stands I can just see Mr O. Possum doing the “Dougie” knowing he might have helped by diverting just enough attention to deceive a win.
With an overflowing sea of pink Mother’s Day MLB merchandise scattered across the assorted tables in the Oakland A’s clubhouse, you have to think that primary on Braden’s mind coming into this start was his departed mother, and the maternal grandmother who stood by him in rough times and turned the rebel youth into a prototype model for left-handed perfection. His Grandmother did not teach him to pitch, but she did teach him how to be his own man. And after today, no one will ever remember the “mound” spat with Yankees Third Baseman Alex Rodriguez earlier the 2010 season when absent-minded A-Rod stepped on Braden’s mound during one of his starts.
Now the world will remember Barden for his articulate off-speed pitching that seemed to dazed and confused the Rays. All day long the Rays were caught looking or guessing at the combination of change-ups, sub-90’s mph fastball and a stifling curves thrown at them over the nine innings. Barden never seemed to sweat, or seem remotely nervous in this Mother’s Day start and was still throwing in the ninth inning for the first time of his short MLB career. Along with the “Perfecto”, Braden threw his first complete game of his career on a day that MLB used to celebrate all of our mothers.
Jed Jacobsohn / Getty
And firmly planted within Braden’s mind during his pitching performance on Sunday afternoon was the many sacrifices and the pain and suffering shared by his two “Mother-figures” in his life. For Barden’s life might have taken a different path if not for the hardnosed approach by his mother, Jody Atwood during his high school years. And the light bulb finally came on for Braden during a high school trip to Mexico, he began to see the constant path through his mother’s guidance and talks and made an immediate 180 degree turn in his life choices.
But Atwood was not in the stands today to see the mature and well poised Braden throw his first professional pitching gem as she had succumbed to melanoma cancer while Braden was still in his late teens and turned the ball to her mother Peggy Lindsay. So it was only fitting that Braden was so emotionally charged and focused on the mound today as he wore the pink ribbon over his heart on his A’s jersey. But even more important today was that at no moment in the game did we ever see a crack in his armor, either in his facial expressions or his pinpoint pitching accuracy.
Some will say that he might have been channeling former Athletics southpaw Jim “Catfish” Hunter who only 15,331 days earlier had thrown a similar Perfect game for the Athletics back on May 8, 1968. And this is not to suggest that Braden will transform into the second coming of Hunter, but to even be within a small piece of that shadow of a Baseball Hall of Fame inductee will do wonders to Braden’s inner confidence as a pitcher, and as a man. And amazingly enough, the final score of that 1968 game was 4-0, the same as today’s final score.
But then some others will say that the always rightious Baseball Gods might have rewarded Braden for his stern discipline of safeguarding the “Unwritten Rules” of the game by his argument with A-Rod today. But the conclusion I have come up with is divine guidance through physical integrity. This is a guy who was so cool, calm and relatively collected after throwing his last pitch of the game in which Rays Rightfielder Gabe Kapler hit a ball towards A’s shortstop Cliff Pennington who threw to Daric Barton at First Base to secure the perfect game for the left-hander.
Jed Jacobsohn / Getty
How ironic is it that within the last year, the Rays have been victims of two different Perfect Games by two outstanding left-handed pitchers. In their July 23,2009 game against Chicago White Sox starter Buehrle, the Rays struck out 6 times in their 27 times to the plate. Interestingly enough, they also struck out 6 times today against Braden. Buehrle threw 116 pitches while Braden only needed 106 to complete the Perfecto. Both pitchers earlky on seemed to be “in the moment” but today, Braden did not need a “big play” to secure his Perfect Game. The closest he got to that was a hard hit line drive by Evan Longoria down the Third Base line that A’s Third Baseman Kevin Kousmanoff took in easily early in the game.
Braden got his own personal revenge on these same Rays who took advantage of his early wildness the last time he faced the Rays on April 28,2010 in Tropicana Field. On that day Braden also opposed Rays starter James Shields on the mound, but the Rays got to Braden early and chased him from the game after only 88 pitches. The loss he suffered that day ended Braden’s personal three game winning streak. You got to think he mentally put it in the back of his mind for some redemption today to end Shield’s own 4-game winning streak when he took the mound against the Rays today.
It was simply amazing to watch the top of the 9th inning as all 12,228 fans in attendance stood for the entire Rays at bat, then remained standing and becoming more emotionally attached with every single pitch thrown during that final half an inning. For they instantly knew of the impossibility of this moment when Braden came back out to the mound in the top of the ninth inning, and knew the immediate importance of this win that would snap the Rays early season dominance on the road.
Jed Jacobsohn / Getty
It truly did take a tremendous effort on the mound today against the Rays for Braden to eventually have his name mentioned along with Hunters in that elusive collection of Athletic’s outstanding pitching performances and capture this memorable Perfect Game. And if I was in attendance at Oakland/Alameda County Coliseum today, even if I was head-to-toe in Rays gear, I would have stood and cheered along side the huge amount of A’s fans after the conclusion of this sparkling pitching gem.
Jed Jacobsohn / Getty
Cherish the moment.
I am not a true fan of crossword puzzles or games like Chess. But I got to tell you, I am so psyched right now to try and figure out this word puzzle/mystery. You see, Jason Grilli aka Grillcheese49 on Twitter has been leaving small clues and a few hints recently about his pitching destination for 2010. And I have to admit it here, but trolling the web looking for answers can get my endorphines kicking it at about 120 mph right now. I forgot how much fun it used to be following a lead, or just a simple photo and finding an aswer within it all.
I have a lot of respect for the insider job that ESPN’s Buster Onley does every day right now during the Hot Stove season. I honestly have not worked this hard to nail down a team or a possible player’s new location since college. And I am not working with a safety net right now, and could basically get it all wrong with a flick of the fingers upon this keyboard.
I do not possess the savvy insider sources that people like Peter Gammons or Onley have at their disposal daily. I do most of my work down here in the darkest recesses of light, and ever so often a beam shines down and I grab ahold of it tightly. Right now I am going by what Grilli has tweeted to all of us over the last week and using them as definite clues to piece this puzzle with more clarity. But the reality of this dark situation is that this new form of social interweaving like Twitter and Facebook can also work in deflecting people and organizations far away from the truth.
@Grillcheese49:There were 8 teams interested. One clear choice. Details coming soon. Hope to share by Monday. ( 4:57 PM Nov 27,2009 from UberTwitter)
Well Jason, it is now early Monday, and only a few hours before you “officially” tell the cyber-world of your playing intentions for 2010. I am going to try and piece together some of the previous information given out by you,and try and make an educated guess on where you are going to be playing in 2010. Hope you do not mind, but I might have a lead on your future employer by reading through the lines a bit, and hope
I am at least within the ballpark when you announce it sometime during today. I may end up being totally wrong, and that is okay too because I am a blogger with no real connections who is just using his mind for more than a hatrack right now.
@Grillcheese49: The answer is coming people this week. I promise. Let’s play the Feud. There are 30 teams in MLB. The top 5 answers are on the board.
(9:27 AM Nov 27,2009 from UberTwitter)
I have to admit, I did not take all 30 MLB teams when I was trying to figure out which team you might have scooped you up come Monday. I did however remove your prior teams like the Colorado Rockies,Texas Rangers,Chicago White Sox,Florida Marlins and Detroit Tigers. It was a bit hard to rule out the Marlins completely at first because you still have a home in Florida. But,I figure that for the most part, when a player leaves the Marlins, they are not too anxious to get back into the aqua blue uniforms.
@Grillcheese49: Longest drum roll ever…..I know. If it were up to me I would tell ya. Don’t want to be banned from Twitter like the NFL players do. Haha
( 3 hours ago from UberTwitter)
Do not worry Grilli, I am pretty sure there is nothing within the MLBPA union contract about social networks yet, but they probably will add it into the talks in 2011 when the MLBPA Union contract is up for renewal. I really wish I did have someone within a the MLB front offices that I could bounce this guess-timate off of at 1 AM on a Monday morning…..But I do not.
So I am out here in “Blog-ville” after 1 AM trying to piece the puzzle together considering you gave me an awesome clue with the Twitpic posted late on Sunday. And the wildest part of it all is going to be my own personal opinion on if you are seeking to play for a potential playoff team,or just a great opportunity to stay with a team’s Bullpen for a few years. That at first almost lead me to make the mistake of thinking you might be wearing a Tampa Bay Rays jersey in 2010, but something on your Twitpic tonight led me away from that conclusion quickly.
Someone trying to piece together puzzles like this need to have a keen eye for unobvious observations to sometimes notice things other leave behind as clues or even honest mistakes in their posts or comments. When you posted the picture tonight of your signature already on your 2010 contract, you left the biggest clue of them all. As most people can see now, the MLB authorized Club Representative signature might be the key to this entire puzzle.
So if I take that position of “Director of Baseball Administration” as a clue under the Club Reps signature, then I can quickly narrow it down to a total of six teams that have that position currently listed within their MLB front office. We have 3 clubs each in both the American League and the National League that employ a person in that present job title. But then again,it could just be an ambiguous job title that is printed on a standardized MLB/MLBPA contract for all I know. But a gut reaction has me really doubting that.
I could be wrong even about the title of the Club Representative, but I am going to roll the dice here on this one and hope Lady Luck is in my corner tonight/today. And for that simple reason, I am putting the following six MLB clubs could be your final destination for the 2010 MLB season:
Oakland Athletics: The A’s currently have Pam Pitts as the Director of Baseball administration for their club. I think you have more of a inclination right now to be looking for a team that is going to be fighting for a potential playoff spot in 2010. For that reason, I am eliminating the A’s from contention for your services. (75-1 chance)
Kansas City Royals: Jin Wong is posted as the active Director of Baseball Administration for the Royals on their MLB website. This is a team that I feel is more in the rebuilding stage than ready to take center stage right now. They could probably make some no
ise,but might not have the overall staying power in 2010 to get you closer towards a playoff chance. (50-1 chance)
Cleveland Indians: The Director of Baseball Administration for the Indians is Wendy Hoppel. For some reason I think this is the AL club that might make you salivate the most right now. With the young talent they have accumulated the last two seasons with trades involving CC Sabathia,Victor Martinez and Cliff Lee, the Indians could be a nice dark horse contender in the AL Central as early as 2010. (4-3 chance)
Out of the National League, I am considering these three clubs as your possible destination for the 2010 season:
Chicago Cubs: The Cubs, even if they are going through a ownership transition,still currently list Scott Nelson as their Director of Baseball Administration. But even with the dust settling in the front office after the final sale approval by MLB owners just recently, this club is a bit more fragile within their 25-man roster. Might not be a great fit, but could be a dark horse player for your services. (12-1 chance)
Atlanta Braves: This is the closest MLB team to your home now in Florida that has a person with the title of Director of Baseball Administration in their club’s front office. John Coppolella currently holds that post. Might be a location favorite, but also has a division you have pitched in before with the Marlins. ( 15-1 chance)
Philadelphia Phillies: This club is the last one to have a club representative with the title of Director of Baseball Administration in the MLB. With Susan Ingersoll Papaneri at the controls. I am going to go with a wild hunch that you are seeking a solid position on a team that could grow into an extended contract. With the Phillies, you may have a spot in their Bullpen renovation. If you do seek a good chance for a possible 2010 playoff scenario, then this just might be a great destination on a possible playoff team. ( 5-1 chance)
This is where the whole shebang of guessing can get a little more difficult for me. I think you can strive for more in both Cleveland and Philly without a major problem. And even if your 2009 salary was only $ 800,000, I can see you going maybe over $1 million with incentives without a real contract problem. Put that all together with the photo above and look at the possible first name lower loop in the signature, and I have to say the name seems to point towards Cleveland (Wendy Hoppel).
But that is the fun with guessing right? I think the perfect 2010 scenario might be with the Phillies to expand your career and get into a possible playoff situation in 2010. But it might also could be beneficial as a veteran on a young club to be with a team like Cleveland who could shock the AL like the Rays did in 2008 with their developing players leading the way coupled with experienced pitching behind them.
So I am going to guess that the Chief Wahoo will be proud you are with the Cleveland Indians in 2010. And even if I am wrong about all of this, I think it has been a great chance for me to practice some skills I have not used in a long, long time. It has been a lot of fun Jason.
I truly wish you the best of luck and hope you stay injury free in 2010. If you play for a team that does head into Tropicana Field, I will look for number 49 and introduce myself to you. And if you do become an Indian on Monday, get your player uniform number negotiation skills ready, because leftie pitcher Tony Sipp currently hold your number 49 on the Indians active roster. But then again, no one on the Phillies 40-man roster currently sports a “49” on their back.