Tag:Glee
Posted on: July 10, 2011 10:45 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 12:09 am
 

Harper, Machado, Trout: They're getting younger

PHOENIX -- They're making the prospects younger than ever.

Consider this: Had the Angels not promoted Mike Trout, 19, on Friday, the U.S. team in the Futures game here Sunday probably would have had one, two and three hitters aged 19 (Trout), 19 (Baltimore shortstop prospect Manny Machado) and 18 (Bryce Harper, the top overall pick in the 2010 draft by Washington).

As it was, with Trout a late scratch because of his sudden promotion from Double-A Arkansas, Machado batted second and Harper third.

Of anybody in the game, of course, Harper was the focal point. The No. 1 overall pick, a five-tool phenom, a controversial brat, the game's next great player ... Harper is many things to many people.

"I try and go out and play the game, I try to have fun," Harper said. "If it's not fun, you shouldn't be out there."

Some would say blowing a kiss at a pitcher after drilling a home run, as he did earlier this summer while playing for Class A Hagerstown, might be having a bit too much fun.

Machado, his friend since the two played together on an 18-and-under U.S. team in Venezuela two winters ago, says that's "the only thing I give him [grief] about, for blowing that kiss. It was pretty awesome."

Awesome, funny, whatever from a young player's perspective.

But Machado said he sure would never do something like that himself.

"This game is rough, and I play shortstop," Machado said. "Somebody would take me out."

On a serious note regarding Harper, Machado said, "He's a great player. He's got the tools. He was obviously producing at Hagerstown. To me, he has the tools to be up there [in the majors] right now. It depends on how he does ... he could easily be up there this year."

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo pretty much has put the kibosh on the idea that Harper could land in the bigs yet this summer. And 2012 is not guaranteed, though odds would suggest that if Harper continues to produce, it's certainly not out of the question.

The Nationals promoted Harper to Double-A Harrisburg on the Fourth of July after he hit .318 with a .423 on-base percentage, 14 homers, 46 RBIs and 19 steals in 72 games. Even though the Angels called up Trout on Friday, Harper said he isn't drawing a direct line from Trout and the Angels to his own situation.

As for whether he thinks his success may accelerate his own timetable, Harper shrugged.

"I have no clue," he said. "I'll let 'em make that decision. Mike Rizzo has done a great job with everything. I'm going to play this year like I know how to play and let them make the decision."

Machado said he and Harper still talk an average of once a week since their time together in Venezuela, when they were kids far from home talking about stuff teenagers talk about.

"Girlfriends back home, what was going on when we were in Venezuela when we were in the middle of nowhere," Machado said.

While Machado was happy to be reunited with Harper for a day, he was disappointed not to see Trout -- but very happy for Trout.

"I was excited for him -- when the GM calls, that's the best call you could ever get in your life," Machado said.

Considered the best shortstop prospect in the minor leagues, Machado, like Harper, should have one of those phone calls in his near future as well.

Likes: Fun seeing all of the baseball people gathered in one location. Very impressed with the way Orioles prospect Manny Machado carries himself. ... Hall of Famer Pat Gillick, the former general manager and current special assistant to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, intently watching batting practice and infield at the Futures Game. Even into his 70s, his mind is still incredible. Looking forward to seeing him inducted into the Hall along with Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar in a couple of weeks. ... Very cool lightening storm Sunday night in the desert. No rain, but the sky was lit up for a couple of hours. ... The sour cream enchiladas and frozen strawberry margaritas at Los Olivos Mexican restaurant in Scottsdale. ... The Tee Pee Mexican joint in Phoenix, though we haven't been there yet.

Dislikes: Man, so many scratches from the All-Star Game. Sunday's Celebrity Softball Game was "celebrity" in name only -- it was a bunch of B-listers -- but that star power still might wind up being higher than Tuesday's game. ... OK, you wonder, who was in the Celebrity Softball Game? Among others, Chord Overstreet (Glee), James Denton (Desperate Housewives), Jennie Finch (former Arizona State softball pitcher and a gold-medal winner at the 2004 Olympics), Erin Andrews (ESPN), Kate Upton (Sports Illustrated swimsuit model), Nick Jonas (of the Jonas Brothers) and Larry Fitzgerald (receiver for the Arizona Cardinals).

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I rounded first, never thought of the worst
"As I studied the shortstop's position
"Crack went my leg, like the shell of an egg
"Someone call a decent physician
"I'm no Pete Rose, I can't pretend
"Though my mind is quite flexible, these brittle bones don't bend"

-- Jimmy Buffett, Growing Older (But Not Up)



Posted on: October 12, 2010 2:51 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2010 4:54 pm
 

Thoughts on Game 5, Rangers-Rays

There is nothing like a Game 5 (or Game 7) in sports, and nothing like the pitch-by-pitch tension that builds in an elimination baseball game with the October leaves changing and Halloween costumes in the stores.

Tonight's Rangers-Rays game is so big, Tampa Bay not only removed the Tropicana Field tarp and put 5,000 extra tickets on sale, the Rays sold 'em!

Seriously, some thoughts as we count down to first pitch tonight of what should be a priceless matchup (so to speak) between aces David Price and Cliff Lee.

-- Texas can say what it wants about having Lee on the mound, and there is no question he's The Man. But it would be more of a guarantee if Tampa Bay was pitching some slob not named Price. Unless you're wearing a Rangers uniform, you'd much rather be in the Rays' cleats tonight: Price on the mound, bats coming back to life, the momentum of winning the past two games in your back pocket and what will be a thunderous, sold-out crowd behind you.

-- Crazy how things work out, and how perfect is this: Price, the man who sparked a controversy in Tampa by criticizing the Rays' fans via Twitter for not showing up on a potential clinching game in late September, pitching in front of not only a sold-out crowd tonight, but a crowd that voraciously snapped up those extra 5,000 tickets. This is a chance for burned bridges to be rebuilt, a chance for Price, 25 and as good a pitcher as there is in the game, to stand tall now that Tampa fans have put their money where Price's mouth is.

-- Maybe you don't realize this, but here is how rare a Game 5 is: We haven't had one since 2005, when the Los Angeles Angels beat the Yankees 5-2 in Anaheim to advance to the ALCS against the Chicago White Sox. Not only that, there's been very little drama in the Division Series' since '05, period: Entering this fall, a total of 11 of 20 series since then have been 3-0 sweeps.  Last fall, Game 163 between the Tigers and Twins -- not a Game 5, but an elimination game nonetheless, was by far the most exciting game of the entire postseason. It was all downhill after that.

-- The home team has yet to win in this series. Only once before has a team won the first two games of a best-of-five postseason series on the road and then gone on to lose: the 2001 Oakland A's, who played the New York Yankees. Texas will do everything tonight to make sure that changes, and don't be surprised to see manager Ron Washington call on starter C.J. Wilson if, for some reason, Lee is off.

-- This either works in Tampa Bay's favor -- or in Texas', if you figure odds are that this eventually will change: Never before in major league baseball history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, has there been a postseason series in which the road team has won every game in a best-of-five series.

-- In Game 1, Lee threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of 27 hitters, and threw 76 strikes out of 104 total pitches. The Rays ranked third in the AL this season with 802 runs scored, but only 13th with in hits -- only Seattle, in the AL, had fewer. That partly explains why the Rays were no-hit twice this summer. And it explains how steep their challenge is tonight: They cannot expect to get extra runners on base via walks. They must be aggressive in swinging at Lee's strikes -- but it's a fine line between being aggressive, and coming too far out of their game.

-- From Texas' perspective, taking an early lead is a must. That would take the Tampa crowd out of the game, it would allow the Rangers to settle in and it might give Lee all he needs. "I think it depends on how many runs is put on the board when you score first," Rangers manager Ron Washington said Sunday in Texas while looking toward Game 5. "If you put one run on the board, you figure you can catch up with that. You put two runs on the board, you figure you can catch up with that. As long as it doesn't get past a grand slam, I think you're in good shape."

-- More Washington: "This was a five-game series when it started, now it's a five-game series. They proved they can beat us on our field, we proved we can beat them on their field. This is what it's about now. They have the right person they feel that's going to be throwing ... and we certainly feel the same way. So it's a matter of going out there, getting Cliff some runs, and if we get him some runs, he'll take it to the finish line. That's what it's all about."

-- Great stuff from Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler on Game 5: "Everyone understands it's just one game now. It's the same game, there's just more cameras. The bases don't eject out of the ground. Guys aren't throwing 150 miles an hour. There's a little more intensity." Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena agreed that there will be no ejecting bases in Tropicana Field tonight, but, as he said, "I can't deny it, it's going to be pretty exciting. It's not as easy to control your emotions. It's fun. It's fun to be a part of it."

-- Tampa Bay's attitude? "We came here facing our elimination," catcher John Jaso said as the Rays dressed after Game 4 to fly home to St. Pete for Game 5. "And we still are facing our elimination." So far, so good with that.

-- The Rangers, for one more day at least, remain the only team in baseball never to have won a playoff series. Someone asked Lee the other day about pitching for a team with such a "sorry history." "I've heard something about that," Lee deadpanned during a post-Game 4 news conference the other day. "But that really doesn't matter to me that much, to be honest. This is a different team than has ever played here. It's a whole different set of circumstances."

Likes: Game 5, for "all the marbles" (as Texas third baseman Michael Young says). ... Bobby Valentine in line to manage again, either in Florida or Seattle. Great fit in either place, but especially the Mariners with their Japanese ownership and Bobby V's ties to Japan. ... Sandy Alderson interviewing with the Mets as a potential general manager. I disagreed with many things Alderson did as president of the Padres, but he would be a great fit with the Mets, who need an adult to run that sorry franchise. Allard Baird, who interviewed Monday, would be a very fine choice as well. ... The Jim Joyce Twitter controversy that erupted on Tuesday. Suddenly, the umpire showed up with a new Twitter account and several tweets that looked authentic -- until MLB-PR tweeted that it was not the real Jim Joyce. ... Baseball working with Stand Up 2 Cancer. ... I don't plug a whole lot of things like this, but if you have a minute to vote in this Pepsi Refresh Project, Gabby's Ladder is a terrific organization for bereaved children in Michigan and Ohio that could really use a helping hand.

Dislikes: Glee.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"If the businessmen drink my blood
"Like the kids in art school said they would
"Then I guess I'll just begin again"

-- Arcade Fire, Ready to Start

Posted on: April 27, 2010 8:24 pm
 

Willis and Pierre: The path of friendship

Juan Pierre is godfather to both of Dontrelle Willis' daughters, little Adrianna Rose (3) and Bianca (1), giving the White Sox outfielder and the Detroit pitcher one more common bond in a couple of careers that have followed strangely (and intriguingly) similar arcs.

Best buddies from their early days in the Florida organization, both Pierre and Willis emerged as key figures in the Marlins' 2003 World Series championship run, had varying degrees of success afterward ... and then each man, for different reasons, hit the skids over the past two seasons before getting a renewed chance this year.

Like many of us at various times in our careers, their jobs turned sour and their strength of character was severely tested.

Except, well ... with Willis now in the final season of a three-year, $29 million deal and Pierre in the fourth season of a five-year, $44 million contract, maybe their challenges are a little different than those of most working stiffs.

"Come on, is it really that tough?" Willis asks of the challenges he and his buddy have faced over the past couple of years. "Really, in the grand scheme of things?"

Unlike a lot of guys, the affable Willis gets an 'A' for his perspective.

Yet, even that doesn't fully take away the sting when a guy can't -- or isn't -- performing.

Pierre, who had played in all 162 games over five consecutive seasons, became the odd-man out of the Dodgers' outfield in 2008 when they acquired Manny Ramirez.

Willis, who had been traded to Detroit, suddenly couldn't throw strikes for the Tigers in 2008.

Pierre could have sulked and demanded a trade when Manny took his playing time. And while he did have his moments of moodiness as a fourth outfielder in '08, he came to camp in '09 determined to make the best of the situation -- and this positive attitude aided in making Pierre hugely instrumental in sparking the Dodgers to first place in the NL West when Ramirez was suspended for 50 games for a dirty performance-enhancing drug test.

Willis was so bad for Detroit over the past couple of seasons that he landed on the disabled list twice in 2009 -- for something called "anxiety disorder."

Yet each man persevered and is hoping in 2010 to come out the other side. Willis opened the season in the Tigers' rotation. Pierre is in the White Sox outfield after Dodgers' general manager Ned Colletti, in a class move, kept his promise to try and find a spot for Pierre where his playing time would increase.

"We hit it off because we have the same personality," Willis says. "We get to the field early, we work, we expect a lot of ourselves.

"Sometimes things are a blessing in disguise. We handled [the tough times over the past two years] with class. And now there is a situation for both of us where we're both turning it around.

"I don't think Juan would be in that situation if he didn't stay focused. It's made me proud. It's a testament to what kind of man he is and what kind of teammate he was."

Pierre, playing left field, is off to a slow start in Chicago, hitting .222 with a .282 on-base percentage. He does have nine steals in 18 games.

Willis, 0-1 with a 5.00 ERA in four appearances (three starts), like Pierre, impressed teammates last year with his upbeat attitude despite tough personal times.

"We're not here to rock the boat," Willis says of he and his buddy Pierre. "We want to get along. Our work ethic speaks for itself. To give your best effort, that's all you can ask for whether you're a player, a writer, whatever."

Both within and outside of their own clubhouses, it's not difficult to find people rooting for both Willis and Pierre, so much so that yes, Willis says, he often feels the love.

"I appreciate it," Willis says. "I wasn't down when I was struggling. Everything was fine at home. Just because I was struggling doesn't mean everything was going bad. My family is good.

"It's one of those things where when you struggle, people think everything is wrong in your life. And it's not. I told Skip [manager Jim Leyland], 'Thanks for the opportunity.'

"I really like my teammates, this coaching staff, and the city of Detroit. I'm from Oakland, and Detroit is similar. I do feel a lot of people pulling for me, and I really appreciate it. And I think Juan is the same.

"We're really thankful."

Likes:  Sure is going to be entertaining watching the near-future gyrations of the agents for Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez after Ryan Howard signed his five-year, $125 million extension. ... This hilarious item in The Onion the other day: True Yankees, Regular Yankees to Now Wear Different Uniforms. Among the beauties in the story: "To have Javier Vazquez don the same pinstripes as Mariano Rivera or Jorge Posada is…well, it's unthinkable," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said as Curtis Granderson modeled the sterile, black-and-white uniform with a large, boxy, non-interlocking "NY" stitched across the front of the chest. ... Really enjoyed Adventureland, a film about a high school graduate having to forego dreams of a European trip before starting at an Ivy League school when his parents have a financial setback, leaving him to a summer job at a Pittsburgh-area amusement park in 1987. Lots of funny (and painful) stuff. James Brennan and Kristen Stewart are terrific. It's out on DVD now and definitely worth catching.

Dislikes: The one television show my wife loves that will drive me out of the room every time: Glee.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Me and some guys from school
"Had a band and we tried real hard
"Jimmy quit and Jody got married
"I shoulda known we'd never get far
"Oh when I look back now
"That summer seemed to last forever
"And if I had the choice
"Yeah, I'd always wanna be there
"Those were the best days of my life"

-- Bryan Adams, Summer of '69

 

 
 
 
 
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