Tag:Pete Rose
Posted on: June 30, 2011 10:16 am
Edited on: June 30, 2011 11:00 am
 

Pepper: Don't buy me peanuts or Cracker Jack

By C. Trent Rosecrans

BASEBALL TODAY: Matt Snyder joins Lauren Shehadi to talk sweeps week in Major League Baseball, as the Phillies, Yankees and Mets go for sweeps in interleague series today.

BASEBALL FOR EVERYONE: A friend of mine has spent a good 15 years of his professional career around his great love, baseball. He's hoped to share that love with his son, named for his favorite player, Nolan Ryan. The two watch games on TV, but haven't been able to experience the game live.

Nolan hasn't been able to sit in the stands and wish for a foul ball to come his way or walk out of the concourse and see the field, hear the crowd roar as Ichiro Suzuki rounds second on his way to third or hear the pop of a Felix Hernandez fastball.

You see, two years ago, like any other toddler, Nolan ate some peanut butter. Soon, he could't breathe and broke out into hives. His parents loaded him into the car and rushed to the hospital. At one point, his mother decide they couldn't wait any longer and called 911 and they pulled over to the side as an ambulance rushed to their aid, closing the I-5. The paramedics were able to get it under control and doctors told them Nolan wouldn't have lasted much longer.

Nolan was diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy. Since then, they've noticed symptoms in their son if there is even peanut dust in the air. Safeco Field or any stadium was like walking into a poison trap for Nolan. 

Well, that won't have to be the case -- as the Mariners are one of the teams hosting peanut-free games this season, an increasing trend according to this Reuters article. Peanut allergies have doubled over the last decade, and nobody is sure why.

Five times a season, the Tigers offer peanut-free suites at discount prices, the next is Sunday against the Giants and all 70 seats are sold, the Detroit News reports. That's a good sign and hopefully encourages more of this.

PHILLIES GOOD: OK, this is hardly breaking news, but the Phillies' rotation is really, really good -- and that's even without Roy Oswalt.

David Hale of the News-Journal does the math for us, the current five starters in the rotation -- Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick -- are a combined 12-3 with a 1.33 ERA in June with hitters managing just a .194 batting average against. WIth Halladay, Lee and Worley starting this month, the Phillies have gone 13-0.

BLAME BUD: While Bud Selig is 100 percent right to want Frank McCourt out as the Dodgers' owner, Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan writes that it's Selig's fault McCourt is in this position to begin with. Instead of finding the best owner for the team in 2004, Selig went with someone who would be on his side.

EXTENSION FOR HARDY: Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy is on several team's trade wishlist, but he may not be going anywhere. The Orioles have reached out to Hardy's agent to talk about an extension. Hardy is a free agent after the season. [Baltimore Sun]

NO FIRE SALE: After the Cubs released Doug Davis, general manager Jim Hendry met with the media and assured them there would be no "fire sale." While nobody wants the bloated contracts of Alfonso Soriano or Carlos Zambrano, Hendry insinuated he wouldn't trade the likes of Carlos Marmol or Ryan Dempster. [Daily Herald]

NO FIRE SALE… YET: The Dodgers haven't started "substantive" trade talks yet, but could begin doing so after the break, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets.

ZIMMERMAN'S CHANGES: Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has struggled after rebuilding his throwing mechanics during a season, including allowing the game-winning run with a throwing error on Wednesday. But Zimmerman is convinced he's doing the right thing and it'll pay off in the end. [Washington Post]

WOOD CLOSER: The Cubs could get reliever Kerry Wood back in time for this weekend's series with the White Sox, CSNChicago.com's Patrick Mooney tweets.

ROENICKE, GREINKE MEET: Brewers manager Ron Roenicke met with right-hander Zack Greinke to "clear the air" after Roenicke felt some of his postgame comments were misinterpreted by the media after Greinke's two-inning start against the Yankees. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

BUCHHOLZ OUT PAST BREAK: After throwing a bullpen Tuesday, Boston right-hander Clay Buchholz said he won't make his next start and could be out until after the All-Star break. Buchholz is dealing with a muscle strain in his back. [Boston Herald]

STRASBURG'S MECHANICS: Stephen Strasburg is back throwing off a mound, but his mechanics look the same, some observers say. Does he need a change? Sports Illustrated's Will Carroll says he doesn't know (and if Will doesn't know, I certainly don't), but it would be wise for the Nationals to look into some biomechanics analysis to make sure his mechanics weren't the reason for his arm injury.

SWISH BEING SWISH: Nick Swisher said his recent turnaround on the field has allowed him to be himself in the clubhouse. [Wall Street Journal]

ECKSTEIN NOT RETIRED: Former Angels (among other teams) shortstop David Eckstein says he's not retired, he's just choosing not to play. There are teams that would be interested in the game's leader of grit, but isn't sure if he wants to return. He sounds like he just needs to be wined and dined in the right way and he'd return. [Los Angeles Times]

NAME GAME: Just as Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle was responsible for Pete Rose's nickname, "Charlie Hustle," another Hall of Famer hung the moniker "Donnie Baseball" on Don Mattingly. Mattingly said Kirby Puckett gets credit for the nickname. [MLB.com]

NAME CHANGE: Remember the old XFL and Rod "He Hate Me" Smart? The CPBL -- the Chinese Professional Baseball League of Taiwan -- is apparently trying some sort of similar name-changing gimmick with its foreign players. One of those is former Royal Dan Reichert who is now Robert 38. [FanGraphs.com]

DODGERS DREAM TEAM: Steve Garvey has put together what he calls a "Dream Team" to buy the Dodgers, including another former Dodger, Orel Hershiser. [SportsRadioInterviews.com]

DIFFERENT DERBY: The Midwest League featured a different type of home run derby, which featured a hitting contest with more than 50 targets and prizes, including a dunk tank. Really, though, the biggest improvement over the big-league version is the absence of Chris Berman. [Benjamin Hill]

BUTCH'S TIRADE: Former big-leaguer Butch Hobson is now a manager in an Independent League, but his tirade from the other night is certainly worthy of the majors. Check him out has he does a combination of Lloyd McClendon and Terrell Owens. [h/t ItsAlwaysSunnyInDetroit.com]

MASCOT FAIL: Is that a sock or are you just happy to see me? Check out this independent league mascot in Amarillo, Texas. Yep. That's not good. [h/t Big League Stew]

BRING A PACKED LUNCH: I've always wanted to go see a game on one of the Wrigley Field rooftops, and I'd still like to -- I'm just not sure I would eat anything they have. Several rooftop businesses failed their health inspections recently. [Chicago Tribune]

CONGRATS CHONE: FanGraphs.com looks at the worst players in baseball based on 2010 and 2011 -- with Mariners infielder Chone Figgins edging Brewers shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt for the title.

CIVIL WAR-STYLE GAME: If you're in Savannah, Ga., this weekend, you have plenty of entertainment and dining options, but how about checking out some baseball at a Civil War fort? Fort Pulaski will host a game Sunday featuring rules from 1860. [Connect Savannah]

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Posted on: June 16, 2011 11:24 pm
Edited on: June 19, 2011 4:55 pm
 

Plenty of 'respectful' sons dot MLB history



By C. Trent Rosecrans

In honor of Father's Day (make sure you have bought at least a card by now), earlier today Matt Snyder looked at 10 "disrespectful" sons of big leaguers, sons who had better careers than their fathers. Well, there are as many, or more, who couldn't quite live up to their fathers' legacy -- or "respecting" their father's legacy by refusing to overshadow dear ol' dad.

I've got to give it up to perhaps the greatest team ever, the Big Red Machine teams of the '70s, not only did the Reds dominate on the field, they produced several big leaguers -- and respectful ones at that. The other list had Ken Griffey Jr., but this list has four sons of Reds from the 1970s that were unable to make anyone forget about their more famous fathers.

Pete Rose Jr. Father: Pete. This one is pretty easy. "Charlie Hustle" had 4,254 more hits than his son. But you've got to give the younger Rose credit for not giving up, making his father proud. Little Pete battled in the minors for more than eight years before playing 11 games for the Reds in 1997. He played affiliated baseball until 2001 and independent baseball until 2009, hanging up his cleats at 39. He played in a total of 1,918 games below the big-league level, accumulating 1,877 hits.

Eduardo Perez. Father: Tony. Both now work for the Marlins, Tony in the front office and Eduardo as the team's hitting coach. But that's about the only similarity between the two careers. Tony Perez is in the Hall of Fame and made seven All-Star teams to go along with his two World Series titles. Eduardo Perez played in parts of 13 seasons with six teams, including his father's Reds. He finished with 445 hits -- just 2,287 fewer than his father.

Pedro Borbon Jr. Father: Pedro. Pedro Borbon was one of the unsung heroes of the Big Red Machine, appearing in 362 games from 1973-77, pitching 633 innings for Sparky Anderson in that period. He went 44-23 with a 2.99 ERA. He finished his career with 69 victories and 80 saves. His son has a World Series ring of his own, earning it in 1995 with the Braves. The younger Borbon was excellent in 1995 and 1996, putting together a 2.91 ERA in 84 games combined between those two seasons. He played in nine seasons, going 16-16 with a 4.68 ERA.

Brian McRae. Father: Hal. Before going to Kansas City to join another young team on the rise, Hal McRae started his career in Cincinnati as an outfielder. But he found fame in Kansas City where he was traded after the 1972 season. McRae was one of the best of the first generation of designated hitters, moving to the position full-time by 1976. A four-time All-Star, he finished fourth in MVP voting in both 1976 and 1982. In 1976 he led the American League in on-base percentage and OPS but lost the batting title on the last day of the season to teammate George Brett. Brian McRae also played with Brett. He had a nice career, accumulating 1,336 hits over parts of 10 seasons but was never the force his father was.

Dale Berra. Father: Yogi. Dale Berra played in an era where not much offense was expected of middle infielders, and he complied, putting up an OPS of .638 in parts of 11 seasons. He did finish with 49 home runs in his career; his father hit 309 more. The elder Berra was a three-time MVP and Hall of Famer.

Tony Gwynn Jr. Father: Tony. The younger Gwynn is just 28, but with 249 hits so far in his career, there's no way he's catching dad. Tony Gwynn had five 200-hit seasons and eight batting titles. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2007.

Lance Niekro. Father: Joe. Lance Niekro was not only a respectful son, but he also honored his uncle, Hall-of-Famer Phil Niekro. Lance played in 195 games over four seasons, the bulk of them coming in 2005. Unlike his famous father and uncle, the younger Niekro was a position player, hitting 12 home runs in 2005 for the Giants. In 2009, Niekro tried a comeback as a knuckleballer, pitching one season in the minors before retiring. Joe Niekro was often overshadowed by his brother, but he was no slouch, either. In 1979, he was an All-Star and finished as the runner-up in Cy Young voting and sixth in MVP voting, going 21-11 with five shutouts. He was fourth in Cy Young voting in 1980 when he won 20 games.

Gary Matthews Jr. Father: Gary. The younger Matthews made a lot more money -- and I mean a lot -- but his dad was a better player. The elder Matthews, nicknamed "Sarge," won Rookie of the Year in 1973 with the Giants and finished fifth in MVP voting for the 1984 Cubs when he led the majors with a .410 on-base percentage.  He finished with 2,011 hits and a .281/.364/.439 slash line to go along with 234 career homers. The younger Matthews made one of the game's best catches and turned his one All-Star season into a five-year, $50 million deal with the Angels that pays him $12.4 million this season, even though he's no longer playing. In parts of 12 seasons, the younger Matthews hit .257/.332/.405 with 1,056 hits and 108 home runs.

Brian Bannister. Father: Floyd. The younger Bannister announced that he'd no longer play baseball after leaving the Yomiuri Giants following the tsunami in Japan this March. Brian Bannister pitched in parts of five seasons with the Mets and Royals, making 114 starts, going 37-50 with a 5.08 ERA. He won 12 games in 2007 along with a 3.87 ERA, but it would prove to be his best season. His father pitched for six different teams across parts of 15 seasons, winning at least 12 games five times and finishing his career 134-143 with a 4.06 ERA. He also made the 1982 All-Star team.

Josh Barfield. Father: Jesse. Jesse Barfield was one of the great sluggers of the 1980s and owner of one of the best outfield arms in baseball history. He hit 40 home runs in 1986, also winning a Gold Glove that season. His son, Josh, hit 16 home runs over parts of four seasons, his last coming in 2009. He's currently playing for the Phillies' Triple-A team in Lehigh Valley, Pa.

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Posted on: April 14, 2011 10:34 am
 

Pepper: McGwire only one to dodge steroid fallout

McGwire

By Evan Brunell

DODGING THE BULLET: The steroid era continues to haunt baseball, as Barry Bonds' obstruction of justice charge is far from the end of the saga.

While Bonds is the posterboy for the whole mess, the former face of baseball has somehow survived a Congressional inquiry, years of self-imposed exile, a much-awaited admission and apology and returned to the game as a coach.

No one could have guessed this when Mark McGwire was stumbling over ways to avoid the past in front of Congress, but he's the only star to avoid any lasting damage, unless one counts his failed bids to make the Hall of Fame. It does really seem as if his lawyers gave him the right information all the way back in 2003 as he avoided lying to Congress and then hid away until it benefited him to come clean to avoid prosecution and get back into the game.

Look, there's no defending McGwire, both for his actions juicing up and for waiting until it behooved him best to admit using steroids, but in his second season as Cardinals hitting coach, there is no paparazzi stalking him and no controversy. At this point, McGwire is just another coach with a long history in the game. That's an impressive feat to pull off. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

BASEBALL TODAY: Can Cliff Lee get back on track tonight? Will Phil Hughes lower his ERA? Matt Snyder joins Lauren Shehadi to answer those questions and more.

STRASBURG BEHIND: Stephen Strasburg has yet to throw off a mound in his return from Tommy John surgery. That places him behind Jordan Zimmermann's own schedule last season, but the Nationals have cautioned everyone rehabs at their own pace and there is no rush. Strasburg has a shot to pitch in September for Washington, but given he has yet to step on a mound, that shot has suddenly become a long one. (Washington Post)

MANNY WHO? The Rays have already found a solution for replacing Manny Ramirez's bobblehead night on May 29. In his place, the club will give away a cape dedicated to Sam Fuld, who was a one-man wrecking crew in the abbreviated two-game series against the Red Sox. Click the link to check out the cape, which is pretty cool. (Tampa Tribune)

GOING CRAZY: Well, that didn't take long. Skipper Terry Collins reportedly went "ballistic" after Wednesday's stinker. A player said Collins didn't single anyone out, but made it clear he wasn't happy with how New York was responding to its recent slide, having lost six of seven. (New York Post)

PANIC ALERT: At the outset of the 2011 season, one keeps hearing how it's too early to draw any conclusions from the play of teams or players. But for one certain writer, it's never too early as he encourages you to go right ahead and panic. Something about how it's healthy and fun to panic. Me? I'd prefer to stay even-keeled, thanks. (Sports Illustrated)

SHORTSTOP PAINS: The Brewers are incredibly thin at shortstop, both at the major-league and minor-league level. Luiz Cruz left the organization to sign with the Rangers despite Milwaukee telling him he would be the first option up to the majors if needed. Then, Triple-A third baseman/shortstop Zelous Wheeler got injured, leaving journeyman Anderson Machado as the first line of defense at short. And if your first line of defense is Machado, you've got serious problems. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

TILLMAN BOMBED: Chris Tillman was smacked around by the Yankees on Wednesday, and manager Buck Showalter made it clear after the game that it was unacceptable. "You just can’t let them get away from you and keep the team in the game," he said, also declining to confirm Tillman would make his next start Monday. (Baltimore Sun)

UBALDO RETURNING: Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez had a strong rehab outing Wednesday and should make his return to the majors on Monday. (MLB.com)

BACK TO THE ROTATION? Jeff Samardzija has shuttled back and forth between the rotation and bullpen in his fledgling career and may be settling into a niche as a reliever. However, when the team needs a fifth starter again next week, manager Mike Quade says he'll be forced to consider Samardzija along with a host of other options. (Chicago Sun-Times)

MEETING THE PRESIDENT: A select number of Houston Astros coaches and players had lunch with former president George H.W. Bush, an invitation that occurs once a year. "I was a little star-struck when I saw him," third baseman Chris Johnson said. "You see athletes all the time. That’s totally different. It’s totally on another level." (Houston Chronicle)

HAPPY 70, CHARLIE HUSTLE: Pete Rose turns 70 on Thursday, an unthinkable thought to those who grew up idolozing Rose and the Big Red Machine. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

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Posted on: April 8, 2011 6:08 pm
 

No call from the Hall coming for Manny

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Manny RamirezManny Ramirez, meet Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, Pete Rose and Joe Jackson -- you guys will forever be known as Hall of Shamers with Hall of Fame numbers.

In January, the Baseball Writers Association of America sent a clear message when Palmeiro received just 11 percent of the vote, despite having both 3,020 hits and 569 home runs. He is the only eligible player with 3,000 hits not in the Hall of Fame (noting Rose is not eligible). And of the 25 players with 500 career home runs, 17 are eligible for the Hall of Fame with only Palmeiro and McGwire are not in the Hall.

Ramirez doesn't have 3,000 hits, but his 555 career homers and .312/.411/.585 slash line and 154 OPS+ over 19 seasons appealed to the more stat-orientated voters, while his "presence" and "fear he put in pitchers" appeal to those who apply the eye test to voting. 

Add to his numbers, he also hit 29 postseason home runs and was the 2004 World Series MVP as the Red Sox broke the Curse of the Bambino, so he even wins the Jack Morris voters over.

However, the activist voters have kept out not only Palmeiro, who like Ramirez, served a suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, out of the Hall of Fame, but also those assumed to have taken PEDs (McGwire) and even  those that only had the slightest rumors of PEDs attached to their name (Jeff Bagwell).

It seemed like even the constant excuse making that "Manny being Manny" was even going to get him some votes from those who wouldn't excuse Palmeiro or McGwire's transgressions and make his candidacy at least interesting when his name finally appeared on the ballot.

I called up one voter who had covered Ramirez today to ask him if this changes his vote. Well, it didn't change it, but did solidify it.

"I would have had a hard time reconciling his first suspension -- I know the argument that it's so widespread and you don't know who did and who didn't -- to me, he was caught and he was clearly cheating at the time, not only was it illegal and against the rules," the voter said. "I would have had a hard time voting for him before today. The fact that it happened again, I wouldn't vote for him now. It solidifies my feeling. WIth the steroids out of the question, he was a no-doubt Hall of Famer. He was one of the two or three best hitters I'd ever seen, but I won't vote for him now."

This voter, it should be noted, did vote for Bagwell but not McGwire or Palmeiro.

In the end, Ramirez may end up being one of the best right-handed hitters in baseball history, but he'll end up busted instead of with a bust in Cooperstown.

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Posted on: April 8, 2011 6:08 pm
 

No call from the Hall coming for Manny

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Manny RamirezManny Ramirez, meet Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, Pete Rose and Joe Jackson -- you guys will forever be known as Hall of Shamers with Hall of Fame numbers.

In January, the Baseball Writers Association of America sent a clear message when Palmeiro received just 11 percent of the vote, despite having both 3,020 hits and 569 home runs. He is the only eligible player with 3,000 hits not in the Hall of Fame (noting Rose is not eligible). And of the 25 players with 500 career home runs, 17 are eligible for the Hall of Fame with only Palmeiro and McGwire are not in the Hall.

Ramirez doesn't have 3,000 hits, but his 555 career homers and .312/.411/.585 slash line and 154 OPS+ over 19 seasons appealed to the more stat-orientated voters, while his "presence" and "fear he put in pitchers" appeal to those who apply the eye test to voting. 

Add to his numbers, he also hit 29 postseason home runs and was the 2004 World Series MVP as the Red Sox broke the Curse of the Bambino, so he even wins the Jack Morris voters over.

However, the activist voters have kept out not only Palmeiro, who like Ramirez, served a suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, out of the Hall of Fame, but also those assumed to have taken PEDs (McGwire) and even  those that only had the slightest rumors of PEDs attached to their name (Jeff Bagwell).

It seemed like even the constant excuse making that "Manny being Manny" was even going to get him some votes from those who wouldn't excuse Palmeiro or McGwire's transgressions and make his candidacy at least interesting when his name finally appeared on the ballot.

I called up one voter who had covered Ramirez today to ask him if this changes his vote. Well, it didn't change it, but did solidify it.

"I would have had a hard time reconciling his first suspension -- I know the argument that it's so widespread and you don't know who did and who didn't -- to me, he was caught and he was clearly cheating at the time, not only was it illegal and against the rules," the voter said. "I would have had a hard time voting for him before today. The fact that it happened again, I wouldn't vote for him now. It solidifies my feeling. WIth the steroids out of the question, he was a no-doubt Hall of Famer. He was one of the two or three best hitters I'd ever seen, but I won't vote for him now."

This voter, it should be noted, did vote for Bagwell but not McGwire or Palmeiro.

In the end, Ramirez may end up being one of the best right-handed hitters in baseball history, but he'll end up busted instead of with a bust in Cooperstown.

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Posted on: April 5, 2011 10:49 am
Edited on: April 5, 2011 1:05 pm
 

Pepper: Kazmir struggling, future in doubt

Kazmir

By Evan Brunell

Scott Kazmir's job could be in danger.

After going through what Kaz termed "boot camp" in the offseason, the hope was that the former top left-hander would move on from his 5.94 ERA from 2010, the highest among pitchers who tossed at least 140 innings. However, the former Rays ace had an awful spring training and imploded in his first start of the season on Sunday against the Royals.

Manager Mike Scioscia was already unhappy with Kazmir's progress, and his outing Sunday only made things worse. One has to seriously wonder if Los Angeles is considering releasing Kazmir and the $14.5 million left on his contract. It's certainly been a long fall from grace for Kazmir and unfortunately it appears as if whatever made him great in the past is gone for good.

The skipper had no easy answers for Kaz's slow start, saying that he has no velocity or command. "Kaz is a little more complicated, a little more baffling," he said. The Angels do have starting pitcher Joel Pineiro on the way back from injury along with reliever Scott Downs, so Kazmir could lose his rotation spot in quick order. 

The only question is: is he moved to the bullpen or do the Angels cut ties entirely? (Los Angeles Times)

GOING YARD: Will Texas' Nelson Cruz go yard again on Tuesday to have homered in five consecutive games? That's a question Eye on Baseball blogger C. Trent Rosecrans attempts to answer in MLB Today. (CBS Sports)

PETE ROSE MANAGING: That's Junior, not the Hit King. The son of Pete Rose is now managing the White Sox's rookie-level squad after long stints as a minor-league and indy-ball player. (Chicago Sun-Times)

KID REPLACING IDOL: Over in Washington, Wilson Ramos has the tough task of replacing his idol behind the plate in Ivan Rodriguez. Pudge has graciously accepted a reduced role, while the Nats are excited about the potential Ramos has. (Washington Times)

TAKING NO LIP: The judge in the upcoming perjury trial for Roger Clemens has had enough of the Rocket and his accuser, Brian MacNamee, taking to the media to spread their own opinions of the trial. Judge Reggie Walton has since reminded the two that they are not allowed to talk about the case. (New York Times)

STEROIDS OUT: Brian Giles' potential use of steroids has been disallowed in a pending palimony trial against his ex-fiance, who is accusing him of owing her over $10 million as well as abusing her. His links to steroids would have been used to attempt to establish that he did, in fact, abuse her. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

BEER VIA TWITTER: A Mariners beer vendor may be onto something here as he will take beer orders via Twitter for the Mariners' home opener on Friday. Seems like it could be abused, but it's hard to imagine anyone sitting at home sending a beer vendor fake orders from fake seats, even in this day and age. This is definitely a service that could end up becoming common in all stadiums depending how well it is executed. (CNBC)

MORE RESTRICTIONS: In light of the abominable beating two Dodgers fans put on a Giants fan, the L.A. County supervisor is calling for additional security at Dodger Stadium as well as more restrictive limits on sales of booze. (Los Angeles Times)

THERE'S ALWAYS HOPE: Austin Kearns' son was diagnosed with autism at 14 months back in 2009. His son is doing well, however, receiving treatment at a Cleveland hospital that was also the main reason why the outfielder returned to the Indians after signing with the team for 2010 and being traded halfway through the year to the Yankees. (MLB.com)

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Of the potential bidders to become minority owner of the Mets, one has the executive producer of Entourage footing the bill. If Doug Ellin ended up with the team, it could mean a jolt of starpower as quite a few of the actors on the show are Mets fans and could show up to games. (New York Daily News)

FREEZE! A rather interesting story that Stan Musial actually froze his appendix inside his body back in 1947. This allowed Stan the Man to stay on the field and finish out the year before having an appendectomy after the year. You don't usually hear about frozen appendixes, so it's quite a fascinating story. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

SEVENTH INNING FOR JOBA: Joba Chamberlain appears to have a lock on the seventh-inning relief gig. 'We love the way he threw the ball in spring training," manager Joe Girardi said. Interesting given GM Brian Cashman and other Yankee brass were displeased with how out-of-shape Chamberlain was in spring training. (MLB.com)

IS BASEBALL DYING? Sobering news -- 43 percent of MLB fans are age 50 or older in a 2009 survey, tops among all big four sports plus MLS and NASCAR, while a low 28 percent of the coveted age 18-34 demographic prefer baseball. Plus, children are leaving baseball in droves. (BizofBaseball.com)

NAME THAT TEAM: The Cincinnati Reds' Double-A affiliate is moving into a new stadium in Pensacola, Fla. next season. There's a contest being held to determine the nickname of the club, and you must also include why you think it's a good name. (Pensacola News Journal)

NICKNAMIN': Ever wonder how each baseball team got its nickname? All set. (Delaware County Daily Times)

ON THE WAY BACK: Mat Latos tossed a simulated game on Monday and came through it with flying colors. He will be re-evaluated Tuesday, and it's possible the right-hander could be activated as soon as Friday. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

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Posted on: April 1, 2011 10:26 am
Edited on: April 1, 2011 4:55 pm
 

Pepper: Overreacting to overreactions

By Matt Snyder

Of the many great opening day pastimes in baseball, one of my favorite is the overreaction police.

Look, we all know there are 162 games in a season and that yesterday's game for each of the 12 teams that played means as much as when they play a game August 17. The flip-side to that is we haven't seen a meaningful game in months, so of course it's fun to try and examine and analyze everything we saw.

No one thinks Albert Pujols is going to suck this year because he hit into three double plays in an 0-5 afternoon. No one believes each player who hit a home run yesterday is going to hit 162 bombs this year. In fact, those "pace" jokes are so overplayed it's insane -- "Ryan Braun is on pace for 162 home runs. Sincerely, Stat Dork." Hey guys, 1990 called and wants its joke back.

So let us take a look at some of the things we saw and make sure everyone takes a deep breath and realizes we saw six games yesterday. There are 2,430 in the regular season, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with talking about every single one of them.

CLOSING CONCERNS IN CENTRAL? Two NL Central teams sent their respective closers out for a save situation in the ninth inning Thursday, and both came away with losses. The outings were quite a bit different. Franklin was only stung by a home run. Blowing a game is never easy to swallow, but when a closer only gives up one crack of the bat, it's a whole different situation than what the Brewers' John Axford went through. Axford allowed a single and walk to start the inning. He had a three-run lead and two batters in the tying run was digging in with no outs. A bit of a fielding gaffe/unlucky play was followed by a sac-fly and then three-run walk-off bomb. You just can't let the first two runners on like that. It would be easy to start worrying about either closer, but blown saves happen. I do think Franklin is more of a concern because he's old (38) and his ERA already jumped a run and a half last year -- but Axford's outing Thursday was far more problematic.

If fans or fantasy owners of either pitcher want an example of an NL Central closer from recent years who made it through an opening day failure, I've got one. Kerry Wood allowed three runs on opening day in 2008. He actually ended up blowing four of his first 14 save chances. The rest of the season he closed down 24 of 26 games.

CLUTCH CAMERON: Cameron Maybin has been a disappointment thus far in his early career, but he's still only 23. He surely made a good impression on Padres fans Thursday, slugging the game-tying home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to dead center field. Then, in the 11th, Maybin followed a Chase Headley base hit with a knock of his own. Headley would score on the play due to a pretty embarrassing defensive lapse by John Jay and Ryan Theriot. Because of the error, Maybin didn't get an RBI, but he got the two biggest hits in the Padres' victory.

MAYBE PUT HIM ON NEXT YEAR?
Jason Heyward is now 2-2 with two home runs in his first at-bat of the season.

WICKED WEAVER: Jered Weaver seems to be one of the more underappreciated aces in the game. All he did Thursday was throw 6 1/3 shutout innings, striking out six. Sure, he was playing the Royals, but it still counts.

HEY, HOW ABOUT JOBA? The much-maligned Joba Chamberlain threw a perfect seventh for the Yankees, which was followed by Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera shutting down the Tigers. If Joba throws like he's capable, the Yankees' bullpen will be downright filthy.

NO LOVE LOST: It's no secret Dodgers and Giants fans generally don't particularly care for each other. One Giants fan even went far enough to hire a banner plane to fly by Dodgers Stadium with the sign "DODGERS STILL SUCK - FROM SF CHAMPS FAN." (Picture here , via Big League Stew). The fan was Henry Yu, who said he was sick of hearing all those years about how the San Francisco Giants had never won a championship from Dodgers fans. "This is for all the Giants fans like me," Yu said, "who've taken so much verbal abuse over the years." (Inside Bay Area )

DON'T TRUST STATS THIS WEEK:
Fangraphs warns against it, just as we did yesterday in the chat. Fangraphs crunches lots of numbers, that's what they do and why they're great, but I think we summed it up pretty succinctly in the chat yesterday: Chris Shelton. Tuffy Rhodes.

BOSTON BOOZE: Fenway Park is moving to expand the sale of mixed alcoholic drinks for Red Sox games this season. Representatives are meeting with the licensing board to gain approval, but they'll have to convince the board and local police they will sufficiently monitor sales. Don't stadiums generally make those stadium mixed drinks so weak that it's basically the same as drinking beer? If so, what's the problem? Just don't allow people to order "doubles." (Boston.com )

C'MON CURTIS: Rebecca Black's Friday is an Internet hit, and it's sufficiently awful. It's also apparently Curtis Granderson's personal at-bat music. (Yardbarker.com ) There is, of course, the possibility that it was a joke by someone in the organization. Let's hope so. What's next, is someone going to use a Justin Bieber song? This also relates to our opening day chat, as we had the discussion on what the best at-bat songs would be. I went with Stone Cold Steve Austin's theme, but I also think Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N' Roses would be solid. No matter what kind of music you prefer, I think we should all agree an early teenage girl telling you Friday comes after Thursday doesn't really fit with adult males playing sports. Right?

AT LEAST CURTIS GETS A CHOICE: I guess the old-schoolers win this one. The Cubs will use organ music for the players, not selected music intros. (Chicago Tribune )

POOR PETE: Legendary Reds player Pete Rose looked a bit, shall we say, odd Thursday. See for yourself . (With Leather)

JUST LIKE THE MOVIES! Two high school baseball players in Texas have been booted from their team for allegedly sacrificing a few live chickens in order to break out of slumps. We've heard about the live chicken curse from Bull Durham and Major League . The best part is some of the quotes. Check this one out from the police: "It appears that superstition relating to a slump in baseball performance could have played a part." Seriously, thanks for the heads up, officer. (Yardbarker )

ICHIRO INTO HIS FORTIES: Check out this article by John Hickey, and it sounds like Ichiro Suzuki really wants to play well into his forties. The Japanese star seems to already be safeguarding against age concerns, like saying: “Let’s say that I was 20 when I twisted or sprained an ankle. Three years from now when I’m 40 and I twist or sprain my ankle, people will say it’s because of age. It’s not second-guessing. It’s just human nature.’’ He also notes he wants to spend his entire career with the Mariners. That 3,000 hit (in America) plateau is getting pretty close to being a lock anymore. (Sportspress Northwest )

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Posted on: February 21, 2011 10:38 am
Edited on: February 21, 2011 10:39 am
 

Morning Pepper: The next indy-ball major leaguer?

De La Rosa

NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP: Dane De La Rosa's eventual destination of Port Charlotte took years to accomlpish, but the 28-year-old finally arrived after flaming out of the Yankees organization, selling real estate and playing independent baseball for four seasons.

"It's a great feel-good story," Rays director of minor-league operations Mitch Lukevics said of De La Rosa and his path back to relevancy that has him poised to follow in the footsteps of Scott Richmond and Robert Coello as ex-indy players who fight their way to the majors. But first, De La Rosa had some growing up to do.

"I felt like I belonged there, which is not the mindset you need to have when you're there," De La Rosa said of his time in New York in which he appeared in just 20 games over the 2003-04 season. "You need to be humbled. Going through all this has made me a humble person, so I don't regret it at all."

De La Rosa headed to independent baseball after the Yankees cut him, but he struggled to adjust and then took a year off to sell real estate. However, his dream wouldn't die and he couldn't handle knowing his baseball career was over, so he returned to the independent leagues.  His play in 2007 got him a late-season pickup by the Brewers, but all he got was one two-inning stint at the rookie level before being released.

But after two more years in the independent leagues, De La Rosa finally caught the attention of the Rays, who brought him in for a workout. Tampa witnessed a 6-foot-5 righty with a fastball reaching 97-mph and immediately signed him.

"He was pounding fastballs, and we were thinking this is too good to be true," Lukevics said. De La Rosa would go on to split the year between high-Class A and Double-A, posting a 2.01 ERA in 76 innings and whiffing 80 while coughing up 26 walks. Now, he has a chance to win a bullpen spot in the major leagues after being placed on the 40-man roster, news that came just weeks after becoming engaged. That's a lesson in the art of perseverance.

"If Dane De La Rosa has taken this journey and now he's on the 40-man major-league roster and a heartbeat away from pitching in the big leagues," Lukevics said, "it tells every young man, every player they have a chance if they keep working." (Tampa Tribune, also source of photo)

PARTY TIME: Brian Wilson is sure one lucky guy. He was picked up in Arizona by none other than Charlie Sheen on a private jet and ferried to Sheen's house, where he hosted yet another party. This one was full of ballplayers watching movies and kicking back. (And yes, Sheen's iconic Major League was played, capping off the night.) Sources said the party was only "R-rated" instead of the debauchery that usually happens at the Sheen estate.

No word on whether Wilson's virtual doppleganger attended the festivities. (TMZ)

A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME: Pete Rose joined a fundraiser for a Legion team and had plenty of jokes to crack even as there was the requisite talk about Rose's gambling and Hall of Fame chances. "This is America. You're supposed to get second chances," Rose said. "I chose the wrong vice." Or maybe his second chance was frittered away when he lied about gambling? Anyways, cool anecdote: Rose would always leave four tickets per game for his father, who would move seats every time Rose didn't get a hit. One day when Rose went 0-for-4 and didn't hustle (imagine that) on a grounder to second, his father castigated him.

"He asked me, 'Did you run hard in your third at-bat with the runner on third?'" Rose relayed. "I thought about it and I realized I hadn't because I thought I should've gotten a hit, and I grounded out to second."

His father's response: "'Don't embarrass me in this town. You run until the umpire says safe or out.'" (Oroville Mercury-Register)

LONG TIME NO SEE: When the Pirates traded Jason Schmidt back in 2001, they were hoping the return would put them on the path to respectability. Instead, Armando Rios got hurt and Ryan Vogelsong posted a 6.00 ERA from 2001-06 after rocketing through the Giants' system. But now, Vogelsong is finally back in San Francisco after stints in Japan and Triple-A for the Phillies and Angels last season. 

Before Vogelsong picked the Giants, the Dodgers came calling, but the righty stayed true to his roots. "I was like, I just can't wear Dodger blue," he said. (MLB.com)

PRIDE COMES BEFORE A FALL: Edgar Renteria isn't upset that the Giants declined his $10.5 miliion option (an obvious move, he says) but the resulting $1 million offer was disrespectful, he says. "I'm not going to play for anybody for $1 million," Renteria said. "I'd rather retire. That is why I say it [was disrespectful]. It's because I know what I can do in this game."

Renteria eventually signed for $2.1 million with the Reds. Meanwhile, if being offered $1 million is disrespectful, sign me up. (San Jose Mercury News)

REST IN PEACE: Cardinals co-owner Andrew Baur has passed away at the tender age of 66. He was a part of the 1996 purchase of the Cardinals by majority owner Bill DeWitt and was a member of the board of directors since the ownership change. Cause of death is not yet known. (FOX Sports Midwest)

LITERARY GENIUS: In Sunday's Morning Pepper, R.A. Dickey revealed he was writing a book about his major-league career. It's not often you hear of ballplayers who can write -- nevermind even read -- but add Burke Badenhop to that list. The Marlin relayed a story of the judge recognizing him when he served jury duty, but that was only the start of his offseason. He also got married, assisted a friend in writing a book about financial planning and is co-writing a movie script with his agent. But now, all he's concerned about is winning a bullpen spot. (Palm Beach Post)

DHING AIN'T EASY: DHs don't get a lot of respect in the league. Not only is it virtually impossible for them to get Hall of Fame or All-Star consideration, but many believe it's pretty easy to walk up to the plate four times a game, take your hacks and then warm the bench without having to play defense. Not so, and Adam Dunn is trying to figure out how to transition to a DH role. Fortunately, ex-White Sox players in Jim Thome and Harold Baines have some advice. (Chicago Tribune)

LESSON LEARNED: It couldn't have been easy for Mike Quade to step into Lou Piniella's shoes and then make the move of benching Starlin Castro for one game, but there you have it. The budding shortstop rode the pine for a mental lapse, and the Rookie of the Year candidate has said he learned his lesson from it. Quade, however, refuses to call it discipline, rather preferring to term it a "teaching moment" to get Castro a breather after breaking into the bigs amid much hoopla and starting on a regular basis. (Chicago Tribune)

-- Evan Brunell

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com