Tag:Milwaukee Brewers
Posted on: June 15, 2011 8:01 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2011 12:02 am
 

Love Letters: The Asinine Edition

As I periodically do, a reminder: The term "Love Letters" is simply a tribute to a column in one of the newspapers I read as a young boy in Michigan, the Detroit Free Press. So if you're looking for something steamier, well, go to your local Congressman's office or something. ...

FROM: Karl T.
Re: Weekend Buzz: Gonzalez, Fielder, Kemp packing heat

Asinine ... what a magnificent word!

And it can be used for sooo many occasions.

FROM: Jeff A.

I'm shocked that you didn't mention Jose Reyes. He may be the best player in baseball at this time. Give the man his props. He is doing more than any of the guys you mentioned. Those guys don't glove as well as he does. The man has what, 33 multiple hit games. Other ball players are awed by him.

But Mets owner Fred Wilpon says it's asinine (or something to that effect) for him to expect Carl Crawford money, so how good can he be?

FROM: Rich B.

Scott,

As a Red Sox fan, I was torn when they made the Adrian Gonzalez trade. I mean, I knew we were getting a great power hitter, but I had my reservations about the trade for two reasons: 1. I didn't want to give up Casey Kelly, and, 2. I didn't like that the Sox were blocking Lars Anderson's path to the majors. So ... now I'm not sure if I was right for the wrong reasons, or what!

Listen, Anthony Rizzo is going to be a good player. But few are ever going to be Adrian Gonzalez. So stop beating yourself up and put your mind to use on the next big dilemma of our time: Five Guys Burgers and Fries or In-N-Out?

FROM: David R.
Re. Weekend Buzz: Indians' losses are rival Tigers gain

Scott,

Should we really be all that surprised about the Indians collapse? Let's be honest, they were a nice feel-good story to start the year, but now their lack of talent is finally catching up. There is no one in the rotation that is any more than a 3 starter, Shin-Soo Choo isn't hitting, Travis Hafner is hurt, and outside of Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana, I don't see much else talent-wise. The Indians have been overachieving all season.

But here's the thing: Choo should be hitting far better, and Carmona at times looks like a top-of-the-rotation starter. That said, the overachieving looks like ancient history.

FROM: Jason
Re.: Arsenal of young studs has Royals set for serious rise

This sounds all good and I do agree but ... what about their true natural hitter, Clint Robinson? Why is he overlooked? His numbers are sick, and I believe he is their best hitter -- he has batted over .300s consistently. I would like to know where he fits in, as he is the oldest, I believe.

You're right, the guy is unbelievable. He's hitting .372 in June alone at Triple-A Omaha. But he's a first baseman and Hosmer is at first. The Royals have too many good young players, and when was the last time you heard that?

FROM: Jason
Re.: Griffey Sr. taking long road back to bigs

I liked your article on Ken Griffey Sr. I'd like to see him get his chance to manage in MLB, but not sure if he will ever get the chance.

I don't think so, not being that he's already 61. He's still got fire, though: I heard a rumor that he was recently suspended for three games for bumping an umpire during an argument.

FROM: Mike B.

Scott,

I'm sure I'm not the only one to point this out to you, but just in case -- you do know that greater Bakersfield has a population of over 600,000 people, don't you? The only thing bush league about Bakersfield is Sam Lynn Ballpark. And the only thing preventing a new ball park is that little thing called the economy. To be honest, I haven't seen a tumbleweed around here for years.

I'll tell you this: There's nothing bush league about the Moo Creamery. That place can bring it. The Toasted Almond ice cream is incredible.

FROM: Barry W.
Re.: Killebrew was no killer, except when it came to slugging

Nicely done. A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a cocktail party where Mr. Killebrew was as well. I spoke with him for a few minutes and he couldn't have been nicer and seemed just so happy to be there. Later, as we all grabbed some dinner, he walked over with his tray and stood at our table and asked if we minded him sitting in the empty chair at our table. Can you imagine that? He joined us that night, casually, and I peppered him with questions about who was the toughest pitcher on him, etc. We had more than a few laughs. And then, at the end of the night, a friend of mine and I were walking down the path towards the exit, when suddenly I felt someone literally jump on my back. It was Mr. Killebrew. Walking between me and my friend, he throw his arms over our shoulders and with a giant smile said, 'Where are we going now?!'

Also attending that dinner was Steve Carlton, and I just remember thinking what a huge difference there was between the two men not only in attitude but just the ability to be themselves around other people. I can tell you that it is a story I tell over and over, and it is one of my nicer memories. Our time here is short and the majority of us do not leave much behind, but a form of immortality can be living forever in someone else's stories and memories. Hopefully I am able to do justice to his memory each and every time I do tell that story. I can tell you that each and every time I tell the story, I do so with a genuine smile on my face. Thanks for the column.

That is a fabulous story. And thanks for telling it now.

FROM: Jay D.

I remember meeting Mr. Killebrew as a youngster before a Cleveland Indians' game, and even though I wore the hat of the opposing team, he was SO nice, SO gracious! I have tried to keep the exactly same smile and the exact same attitude toward kids that he did. He may have been small, but, the sporting world lost a true GIANT.

With sadness,
Jay D.
NE Ohio

FROM: Brian

"Listed at 6-feet, 190 pounds, until cancer slipped a final fastball by him Tuesday. ..." Really? A man loses his life to cancer, and you're making baseball metaphors? I typically enjoy your columns but this line is unprofessional, disrespectful and a literary stretch I'd more likely expect to find in a high school publication.

The man spent his entire life playing baseball, involved in baseball, and is a Hall of Famer. What should I be doing, making roller derby metaphors?

FROM: Bill H.

Scott,

Great piece on one of my first baseball heroes. I watched him play for the old Senators and blossom into a tremendous slugger. Even when the Nats became the Twins and I couldn't stand them, I still rooted for Killebrew and followed his career closely. This is a genuinely sad day for baseball, one many modern fans may not understand.

Our responsibility is to help make them understand, my friend. Thanks.

Likes: Praise be for day baseball, the MLB Extra Innings television package and XM/Sirius radio broadcasting all those days. Because when I landed flat on my back, ill, Wednesday, with a fairly significant fever for the first frickin' time in 11 years, it sure was nice to have baseball on the telly. ... Pittsburgh -- the Pirates! -- at .500 on Wednesday, the latest point in the season they have not had a losing record since 1999. ... Midnight in Paris, the new Woody Allen movie. Not great, but entertaining. ... The slice of "royal wedding cake" I had in Kansas City last week in the hotel restaurant. There was some celebration going on downtown honoring the late Princess Diana and, in relation to that, the pastry chef at the hotel "recreated" the actual cake served at Diana and Charles' wedding back in 1984. It was sort of like carrot cake -- had that consistency -- only it was cinnamon-y. And the frosting was thick as bathtub caulk. It was delicious -- and the most expensive darned piece of cake I think I've eaten in my life ($8.75 a slice!).

Dislikes: Clarence Clemons, stroke victim. Many prayers for Bruce Springsteen's Big Man, who is fighting the battle of his life. Here's to the man who brought so much joy, soul and music to so many others.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"When the change was made uptown
"And the Big Man joined the band
"From the coastline to the city
"All the little pretties raise their hands
"I'm gonna sit back right easy and laugh
"When Scooter and the Big Man bust this city in half
"With a Tenth Avenue freeze-out"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Tenth Ave. Freeze-Out



Posted on: June 2, 2011 4:54 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 5:24 pm
 

Short Hops: Is it the bratwurst in Milwaukee?

Short hops, backhanded stops and quick pops:

-- The Brewers have climbed into second place in the NL Central thanks to ... their own beds? All that bratwurst? Milwaukee is 21-7 at Miller Park, the club's best home record EVER after 28 games. But at 9-19 on the road, the Brewers are the worst in the NL. Manager Ron Roenicke is not yet a believer in the trend, figuring "if we go three months into" the season and things don't change, then it's a problem. One reason the Brewers' road mark could be skewed: They opened with 21 of 34 games on the road, including an 11-game trip and a 10-game trip during a cold and wet spring. Assuming they stay in contention, look out for the Brewers in September: They finish with 14 of 25 games at home.

-- Milwaukee right-hander Shaun Marcum, though stuck with a no-decision in Cincinnati on Wednesday night (and though teammate Zack Greinke has received more pub for fewer starts), has pitched like an All-Star. He's allowed one run or fewer in six of his 12 starts. "He wasn't under my radar," Roenicke says. "He's the same guy I've seen pitch in Toronto. He was in the toughest division in baseball, for me. That league can flat-out hit. If you can pitch in that division, you can pitch anywhere."

-- Maybe if a team can get through the early part of a game without genuflecting to the big, bad, Yankees, it'll have a chance: New York has pummeled opponents 83-44 over the first two innings of games this year, according to STATS LLC. The Yankees are outscoring their opposition 43-16 in the first innings.

-- Clint Hurdle for manager of the year? Pittsburgh winning its 17th road game on Wednesday night ... matching the Pirates' total for all of 2010 (17-64). They're 17-14 away from PNC Park so far in 2011.

-- Kirk Gibson for manager of the year? When Arizona moved into first place in the NL West after being 6 1/2 games back through April 30, the Diamondbacks became the first team in major league history to take sole possession of first place in their league (before 1969) or in their division (since 1969) during May after starting the month at least 6 1/2 back.

-- What's up with St. Louis' Chris Carpenter, an annual Cy Young candidate who is 1-5 with a 4.52 ERA over 12 starts? "I've been up and down all year," he says, pointing to one basic element for a pitcher that he's still battling: Fastball command.

-- Lance Berkman on his experience with Cardinals manager Tony La Russa this year: "Love him. He's great. He's such a players' guy. When you think of Tony La Russa, being a players' manager is not the first thing that jumps through your head. At least, not from watching him from the other side. But he's got a bunch of guys here who will run through a wall for him."

-- One significant difference between this year's Cardinals and last year's: The clubhouse atmosphere is far better in 2011. The stuff with Colby Rasmus has blown over. The presence of Berkman, in addition to that of Matt Holliday, has really helped. "He's unbelievable," Cards GM John Mozeliak says of Berkman. "He's a gentleman and a class act. I've really enjoyed getting to know him."

-- That the Yankees' Russell Martin currently is the AL All-Star leader at catcher is attention-grabbing. But the fact that Martin actually is deserving of consideration speaks more toward the dearth of quality catching than it
does to Martin's prowess.

-- Most productive designated hitters: Red Sox (.315 combined average, 34 runs scored, .565 slugging percentage), Royals (.302, 31, .394 on-base percentage) and Indians (.299, 27 runs, .510 slugging). Least productive? Yankees (.185, 21 runs, .350 slugging), White Sox (.234, 21, .383 slugging) and Mariners (.242, 15, .328 slugging).

-- At 17-37, the Twins are 20 games below .500 for the first time since the end of the 2000 season (69-93).

-- Nate McLouth's strained oblique had better heal quick. The Braves' Jordan Schaffer is opening many eyes with his spectacular play in center field.

-- So what is retired Braves manager Bobby Cox doing? He spent a nice summer's evening last week at the Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band's Atlanta show on the Welcome to Finland tour.

Likes: Former big leaguer Darin Erstad taking the job as head baseball coach at his beloved alma mater, Nebraska. ... Ian O'Connor's new book, The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter. ... Also, for you Giants fans, Worth The Wait, written by Brian Murphy and largely photographed by Brad Mangin, is beautifully done. ... The story on how Roger Ailes built the Fox news fear factory in the current issue of Rolling Stone. ... Professor Longhair's Rock and Roll Gumbo.

Dislikes: If it's anything like this, Michigan's "throwback" jersey for the night game against Notre Dame this Sept. 10 might make the game unwatchable.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Good luck had just stung me
"To the race track I did go
"She bet on one horse to win
"And I bet on another to show
"Odds were in my favor
"I had him five to one
"When that nag to win came around the track
"Sure enough he had won
"I took up all of my winnings
"And I gave my little Bessie half
"And she tore it up and blew it in my face
"Just for a laugh
"Now there's one thing in the whole wide world
I sure would like to see
"That's when that little love of mine
"Dips her doughnut in my tea"

-- The Band, Up On Cripple Creek




Posted on: May 25, 2011 5:44 pm
Edited on: May 25, 2011 6:15 pm
 

The power of Zack Greinke

Zack Greinke, slugger?

You bet.

When Greinke smashed the go-ahead home run in white-hot Milwaukee's 6-4 win over Washington on Wednesday, here's guessing that one of the least surprised folks in Miller Park was the guy the Brewers are used to seeing jack baseballs over distant fences.

Prince Fielder.

See, Fielder and Greinke were summer teammates for a spell in their high school days during a handful of All-Star Showcase Games in Florida. Greinke graduated from Apopka High School near Orlando, Fielder from Eau Gallie High School in Melbourne, Fla.

"He played third base and hit in front of me," Fielder was saying of those summer games during a conversation last week. "He was good."

So good, in fact, that Fielder thought Greinke's main talent was with the bat.

"I didn't know he was a pitcher until senior year of high school," Fielder said. "I thought he was a third baseman. That's what he played in those Showcase games.

"He was always a top player as a third baseman. It was in my senior year that I saw him pitching one day on the news in Florida and I thought, 'Wow.'"

Who was the more prodigious slugger in those Showcase games, Fielder or Greinke?

"I know he raked," Fielder said. "But I don't remember him hitting any home runs."

Fielder then grinned, devilishly.

"No home runs," he said. "Tell him I told you that. No pop. Just a gap-to-gap hitter."

Alas, when I went looking for Greinke to do just that last Thursday in San Diego, he wasn't around. Because it was a night game on the West Coast and because Greinke was slated to start the next night as the Brewers opened their current homestand, he and Shaun Marcum had flown back to Milwaukee earlier that day so they could get a bit of extra rest.

And now that Greinke has some real, live street cred (not to mention bragging rights) as a bona fide slugger, Fielder is going to have to dig into his bag of tricks for another way to tease the 2009 AL Cy Young winner.

Greinke's blast against Jason Marquis on Wednesday was only his second homer in the majors. His other came for the Royals in Arizona against Russ Ortiz on June 10, 2005.

But given that Greinke, whose first seven seasons of pitching came in Kansas City, has a total of 32 career at-bats, one homer per 16 ABs is pretty impressive.

That career homers-to-at-bats ratio, incidentally, is the exact same as another Milwaukee icon.

Hank Aaron.

The Brewers now have won 13 of their past 16 games, and nine in a row at home -- their longest streak in the 11-year history of Miller Park.

 


Posted on: March 8, 2011 6:55 pm
 

Greinke: Not the way the Brewers wanted to start

Something has been wrong with Zack Greinke this spring, and now we know what.

He's made two Cactus League starts and left people wondering whether he was fully engaged.

"I saw Greinke the other day," a befuddled veteran scout was just telling me on Monday. "His fastball was 86, 87. Something's going on. He doesn't look right."

Bingo. Now we know. Pitching with one rib fractured and another bruised is a recipe for disaster, even for a guy who won a Cy Young award as recently as 2009.

Now the question becomes, how big of a disaster will this be for the Milwaukee Brewers?

Suddenly, the only team in the majors employing three pitchers who started on opening day in 2010 is down the ace who should have started opening day in 2011.

Greinke has a hairline fracture of the seventh rib on the left side (and a bruised eighth rib), an injury that normally carries a four-to-six week recovery time. The thinking is that he suffered the injury a couple of weeks ago, so perhaps his recovery, from here, will be on the shorter side.

Maybe. Rib injuries are tricky, and the torque with which power pitchers punish their upper bodies is not for the weak. If Greinke only misses two or three starts, as the Brewers are hoping right now, you can mark it down as a large victory for both him and them.

Right now, that looks wildly optimistic. Because simple math adds up to more than a couple of missed starts. Because he will not be pitching while his ribs heal, he will need time on the mound to build his arm back up when they're healed. That will tack on extra time. Realistically, he'll probably miss at least the first month of the season.

This is highly problematical. This is a team with a finite window of opportunity that made the gutsy decision to swing for the fences in 2011. Prince Fielder is a free agent at the end of the year, and with Scott Boras as his agent, he's all but gone.

Armchair general managers were sure the Brewers should have traded Fielder over the winter to ensure that they got something in return.

Instead, they went out and acquired Greinke from Kansas City ... after they acquired starter Shaun Marcum from Toronto.

With those two, Yovani Gallardo and others backed by an offense that ranked fourth in the NL in runs scored per game last season, the Brewers are set to enter the season as strong contenders in the NL Central.

But now, the Brewers grip on 2011 is far more fragile.

The ready-made replacement for Greinke in the rotation is ... nobody. The Brewers are high on rookie Mark Rogers, but he's missed time with shoulder tightness. Manny Parra? Balky back this spring.

Sometimes with off days in the early-season schedule, clubs can get by with a four-man rotation for much of April. But the Brewers, given their schedule, need their fifth starter to make at least three starts in the season's first three weeks.

The only silver lining in this is that by missing some starts early, Greinke theoretically could be a bit stronger in September (and, the Brewers hope, in October) than he would have been otherwise.

But make no mistake. This is a serious blow to the Brewers.

No wonder Greinke had surrendered six hits and three walks -- against only three strikeouts -- in 3 1/3 innings this spring.

Posted on: February 8, 2011 2:43 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2011 2:44 pm
 

Love Letters: The Spring is Almost Here edition

Last mail call before spring training. Now, doesn't THAT sound nice? ...

FROM: Bert L.
Re.: Red Sox, Brewers, Phillies reign over winter carnival

Your column with trades and teams making them was an absolute riot. Very funny and very factual. Being in South Florida, I loved the Hanley Ramirez bit about hustling and the A.J. Burnett bit about salt and snow trucks. Thanks for the well written and well thought out entertainment.

May need some sand to dump on Burnett as well as salt to make sure he's good and thawed for spring camp and beyond.

FROM: Alan

You'd really put A-1 on filet mignon? You're about as smart as a bag of hair.

Depends on who's cooking the filet mignon. If I'm grilling it, no need for A-1.

FROM: Alex B.
Re.: Contrite Joyce seeks new beginning after haunted winter

Mr. Joyce is an inspiration to me. He has taken the wave of anger head on, stoically endured it, preserving what I believe is the most beautiful thing about baseball: That it is about the controlling of chance, and ultimately about the human element of judgment. I may be alone in this, but I believe what happened in that game is the best argument against replay-officiating in baseball. The controversy of judgment and the finality of the moment has been the spice of our nation pastime since its beginnings. But honestly, I had stopped thinking about that game, and I assumed everyone else did too. I hope that's the case soon, but I will remain his fan. Thanks for writing the piece.

I think he made a lot of fans and, as I wrote, he put a human face on the umpiring profession. And some of those guys really need it.

FROM: Kurt K.

Hi Scott,

Very well written article on Joyce. It was really interesting to see what he has been up to recently. What a class act Joyce is. I am sorry that it had to happen to Armando Galarraga but I am actually glad it did happen. It just shows what true sportsmanship is all about and why baseball is so much classier than all other professional sports.

Another thing: When baseball sells seats to a World Series, the seats are actually there for the ticketholders.

FROM: John B.
Re.: Rangers can't let demand get old before dealing Young

How about this for a deal? Michael Young to the Mets for Carlos Beltran. Works for both teams, fills needs and clears problems. Could work!!!

I like your thinking but here's why it won't work: The Mets are not on Young's list of eight clubs to whom he will accept a trade. I don't see Young being interested in playing for the Mets. And Beltran has a full no-trade clause.

FROM: Frank D
Re.: Needing youth, quickness, Angels instead opt for Wells

Love your passion, but I think too many are underselling Vernon Wells. If you look at his numbers in 2008 and 2009, though they were down, they were, in fact, superior to Adrian Beltre -- who got a huge deal and a lot of positives. Wells brings grit, power and pride to the Angels. Coupled with Torii Hunter, you have two pros who will play hard, produce and lead a team fighting for the AL West. They also have the best manager in MLB and he'll know how to get the most out of Wells. Napoli already has been dealt to Texas, and Rivera is an oft-injured 4th OF who jakes it. The Angels gave up nothing, but money to get a quality player with character.

You're right about Rivera, and Napoli wasn't ever a Mike Scioscia favorite. And you're right that Wells is a pro, just like Hunter. But that's a lot of dough for a player where there are other, more significant needs.

FROM: Scott D.

Nice hatchet job on the Angels Scott. It will be interesting to see what you have to say if Wells brings a big bat to go with his contract. Three center fielders in the outfield adds up to a great defensive unit, and Mike Trout is waiting in the wings. If the underachievers from last year play up to potential, we could see the Angels winning the division and more, again. Enjoy your vacation, moron.

If Wells plays a key role in the Angels winning this year, here's what I will say: I was wrong. But I'm not counting on it. I still think Angels need infusion of youth and speed.

FROM: Travis B.

Dear Mr. Miller,

I respect your words but I disagree. The Angels don't need a lead-off man -- Peter Bourjos can do the job. Vernon Wells is the power we needed just in case Kendry Morales can't answer the call. To drive in runs.

Come on, Bourjos batted .204 with a .237 on-base percentage over his 51 games in Anaheim last summer! Unless he grows into his offensive shoes in a hurry, I don't put him anywhere near the leadoff slot.

Likes: On deck in just a few days: The daily spring training Bull Pennings with news, notes, quips, likes, dislikes, the whole package. And, of course, the rock and roll lyrics. A Florida (and then Arizona) travelogue. Stay tuned. ... Could go from a Green Bay Super Bowl title to a Milwaukee Brewers' playoff appearance later this summer. The Brewers have made some great offseason moves. Wisconsin is a fabulous sports state. Could be fun. ... The Eminem/Chrysler/Detroit Super Bowl commercial. If you missed it, it's here. ... Jane Leavy's biography of Mickey Mantle is a terrific read. ... Go see The Fighter. You will not be disappointed. Christian Bale is everything you've heard, Mark Wahlberg is good and Melissa Leo -- one of the most underrated actresses around -- is as great as she usually is. ... Hey, the groundhog saw his shadow! Spring is right around the corner. Right?

Dislikes: The waiting for spring training to begin. Seems like it takes forever, doesn't it?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Well it's 9th and Hennepin
"And all the donuts have
"Names that sound like prostitutes
"And the moon's teeth marks are
"On the sky like a tarp thrown over all this
"And the broken umbrellas like
"Dead birds and the steam
"Comes out of the grill like
"The whole damned town is ready to blow"

-- Tom Waits, 9th and Hennepin

 

 

Posted on: December 3, 2010 2:10 pm
 

Love Letters: Readers on broadcasters

Few people get into the hearts of baseball fans the way broadcasters do. I wrote a Thanksgiving column about this, and primarily about the passing of legends Dave Niehaus (Seattle), Harry Kalas (Philadelphia) and Ernie Harwell (Detroit), and about the heart scare with Bob Uecker (Milwaukee), and the reaction follows.

Before we get to that, though, Cubs play-by-play man Pat Hughes, as a labor of love, has spent his past five offseasons producing CD audio tributes to several legendary broadcasters. The latest CD features Niehaus. Others available feature Uecker, Kalas, Marty Brennaman, Jack Buck, Harry Caray, Bob Prince and Red Barber. They're great items, and if you're interested, you can get more information here.

And now, on the sad day that we learned of Ron Santo's passing, here are a few readers telling their own tales following Giving thanks for the great voices in baseball. ...

FROM: Jeremy D.

Scott,

Great article, especially this time not only for the giving of thanks, but [for writing this while next season] is still a ways away. I am 33 and have been a Phillies fan for most of those years. Harry, as we call him around here in south-central PA, still holds the most memorable call in my many years as an avid sports fan: Mike Schmidt's 500th home run. When he passed away last spring, I, as many others were, was devastated. It was like losing a close, long-time friend. I have spent more time listening to Harry than I've spent listening to many of the friends and relatives I know personally. I still love to hear Vin Scully call a game, as well as Jon Miller on the radio, and Marty Brenneman. Some of the newer guys have promise, but Scully's voice flat-out IS summer. Thanks again for the pleasant cold-November-day read.

One more great thing about these broadcasters that come into our lives: Unlike certain relatives, they don't show up uninvited for the holidays!

FROM:
Jim W.

Thank you for that great story on the voices of summer. I moved to Seattle in 1993 and I will always remember Edgar's double and Griffey scoring from first to beat the Yankees in the 1995 Divisional Series. It was the year after the strike, and Dave's call is the reason I love baseball again.

The great ones can do that for us, can't they?

FROM: Rob

Great article! XM radio is the best thing to happen to baseball and the MLB app is great with the ability to hear both radio feeds.

Love XM. What a perk it is to be able to sit on my back patio on a Saturday in the summer, Cheez-Its within reach, clicking around the satellite radio dial listening to broadcasts from each city.

FROM:
Keith B.

I think you are right on with your column about the great baseball announcers. I became a big fan in the summer of 1962 listening to Harry Caray, Vin Scully and Ernie Harwell. I lived in Rapid City, SD. After dark I could pick up the various stations that carried MLB games. Sometimes it was not very clear but I could hear enough to know what was going on. My great grandfather & I would listen to Vin Scully on KFI out of Los Angeles. Happy Thanksgiving.

South Dakota, Michigan (where I'm from) ... one great thing about the Midwest is the flatlands allow strong radio signals to carry unimpeded for hundreds of miles. I could listen to the Tigers, Reds, Indians, White Sox, Cubs. ...

FROM:
Dan L.

Dear Scott,

As a fellow broadcaster and Michigander, I was blessed as well to grow up listening to the National Treasure that was Ernie Harwell. I was lucky enough to do a 20-minute interview with him on my radio show a couple years ago and felt like I had lived some of the moments that Ernie described to me from an era that I was not even alive during. He just helped make you feel part of something special, and through the sharing of his experiences throughout his amazing career, I kept thinking to myself just how lucky we are to have had Ernie be a part of our lives and us a part of his. I think CBS is very lucky to have you writing for them and I would love to stay in touch and have you on my show in the future. Keep up the great work!

Very kind. Thanks.

Posted on: September 9, 2010 2:07 am
 

Padres sweep Dodgers, Giant showdown next

SAN DIEGO -- Following a victory over German troops in Egypt during World War II in 1942, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said, "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

And as they were saying in the San Diego clubhouse after sweeping the Dodgers with a 4-0 whitewashing on Wednesday night to regain traction following that vicious 10-game losing streak. ...

"The baseball season is long and there are ebbs and flows," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Our season, up until that point, was pretty steady. I think it's a tribute to our guys. We hit a bump in the road, and I thought our guys showed resolve. We pitched well, played sound defense and executed."

Their breath back, the first-place Padres now head into a colossal four-game, showdown series with San Francisco beginning on Thursday evening, a season hanging in the balance.

With the Giants losing in Arizona on Wednesday, the Padres pushed their NL West lead -- six games as recently as 12 days ago -- back up to two games.

The Padres have beaten San Francisco in nine of 11 games this season, but the Giants have undergone significant changes from what the Padres saw in April and May (Buster Posey, Pat Burrell, Jose Guillen, Cody Ross, Madison Bumgarner).

The exclamation mark for the four-game series comes at the end, when aces Mat Latos and Tim Lincecum oppose each other on Sunday.

Latos, signed by Padres scout Joe Bochy, brother of Giants manager Bruce Bochy, on Tuesday set a major-league record by working his 15th consecutive start in which he worked at least five innings with two or fewer runs allowed.

With the Giants on deck and a two-game lead in their grasp, it turns out that 10-game losing streak was not the end for the Padres. Given their sweep of the Dodgers, it probably was not even the beginning of the end.

But it clearly was the end of a beginning that saw them join the Yankees as the only teams in the game not to lose more than three in a row, the end of a beginning that was almost too smooth to believe.

Now, in whipping the Dodgers, the Padres looked like themselves again.

They won Wednesday's game behind six shutout innings from rookie Cory Luebke, 25, who was making just the second big-league start of his career. Just fill in the blanks by day, the pitching has been excellent. Black said Luebke will get the ball again for another start five days hence in Colorado.

The three-run sixth against Chad Billingsley was as good an indicator as anything that the whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-th
eir-parts Padres were back: Lefty Will Venable dropped an opposite-field blooper down the left-field line for a single, speedster Everth Cabrera bunted for a hit and pinch-hitter David Eckstein beat out a bunt attempt when Billingsley threw late to third.

Bases loaded, speedy leadoff man Luis Durango dropped a two-run single into left. Then, slugger Adrian Gonzalez cracked a sacrifice fly.

"We're getting back to the way we play," Eckstein said.

"These are the things we've worked on because we knew we needed to do them," Black said. "When they go our way, it doesn't surprise us. We've worked on these things as far back as February."

Gonzalez, in a conversation before the game, said that the first several games of the losing streak was simply business as usual for the Padres -- they were playing sound ball but were simply losing. Toward the end of the streak, though, Gonzalez said he could see some of the players pressing. That eased immensely, he said, with the first two wins over the Dodgers.

So ... a new beginning for the Padres?

"We hope so," Eckstein said. "We're not going to answer that question until we clinch or don't clinch, because we'll hear about it the rest of our lives if we don't. We just have to focus on playing our game."

Likes: Trevor Hoffman earning career save No. 600. Congratulations to a man who has had a very difficult season but remains pure class. ... Former Cincinnati ace Gary Nolan visiting with the Reds in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. ... Intense scoreboard watching every night now. ... The portable iPod players. It's given yet another new life to my iTouch. Reds manager Dusty Baker has one that travels with him -- it's usually queued up in the manager's office -- and he jokes that it's his "roommate." ... The Arcade Fire's new disc, The Suburbs. ... Digging this season of Mad Men. ... Ah, back to school. A young lady was wearing this T-shirt in the St. Louis airport the other day: "We didn't come to college to find our husbands. We came to find our bridesmaids."

Dislikes: The Dodgers are playing like they've quit. Totally disinterested. ... Arizona manager Kirk Gibson being stung by a scorpion at his Arizona home this week. Among the only things more disgusting than scorpions are tarantulas. ... Human beings continue to get larger and larger with each generation. Airplane aisles continue to get smaller and smaller. The future of air travel? I don't even want to know. Let's just say that the larger people and smaller aisles are going to clash pretty badly here in a few years.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Everyone I know
"Everywhere I go
"People need some reason to believe"

-- Jackson Browne, Running on Empty

 

Posted on: August 20, 2010 3:53 pm
Edited on: August 20, 2010 3:57 pm
 

Short Hops: QB Locker bypasses Angels this summer

Short hops, quick pops and backhand stops:

 In a summer during which former two-sport star Bo Jackson's signature home run was celebrated when the All-Star Game was played in Anaheim, the Angels' chances for reaping the benefits from another two-sport star have diminished.

Jake Locker, University of Washington quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate this fall, neglected to play baseball this summer as scheduled for one of the Angels' rookie league teams, throwing his baseball future in doubt.

Not that the Angels were banking on him -- they essentially took a flier on his athletic ability, selecting him in the 10th round of last summer's draft and signing him for $250,000.

"We haven't seen him on the baseball field, but I've got nothing but great things to say about him and his family," Eddie Bane, the Angels' director of scouting, says. "He's as talented an athlete as I've seen."

Bane compares Locker's athletic gifts to those of Mike Trout, the 18-year-old outfielder who starred at the Futures Game during All-Star weekend and was listed as the third-best prospect in the Angels' farm system by Baseball America entering 2010.

"Jake never played much baseball, but he's just so loaded with tools that you just dream," Bane says.

Locker hasn’t played baseball since the spring of 2006 at Ferndale (Wash.) High School, other than a brief appearance in 2008 for the Bellingham Bells of the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League. In 10 games there, he hit .273 with one homer while playing center field.

The Angels knew his baseball abilities were crude when they signed him last Aug. 15, and they knew there was a good chance he would wind up playing only football. But they liked his athleticism, liked the idea of positioning themselves as a landing spot if football didn't work out and, by signing him, could control his baseball rights for six years.

"It was a reach by me to see whether something happened [with football], whether he'd play baseball," Bane says. "But the guy is shaping up to be a No. 1 or No. 2 pick in the [NFL] draft if he stays healthy."

When the Angels picked Locker, he was coming off of a freshman season in which a broken thumb sidelined him for a significant time. But last year, Locker threw for 2,800 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Locker spent a couple of days with the Angels during spring training this year, more of a get-acquainted session for both sides than anything else. There were a couple of reporting dates set this summer for Locker, who would have played for the Angels' short-season, rookie-level team in either Orem, Utah, or in Arizona.

Losing more baseball time this summer puts Locker even further behind, though it's pretty clear that another big year on the football field will end any notion of him playing baseball for good.

As for the money -- the Angels are paying his scholarship to Washington in addition to the $250,000 -- Angels general manager Tony Reagins declines to discuss specifics. The Angels could seek to recoup some of the money or simply retain his rights.

"He has an option to play football and an option to play baseball," Reagins says. "At some point in the next calendar year, we'll make a call or he'll make a call. The NFL draft is probably real important."

 Can a team be sparked by a brawl? The Reds are answering in the affirmative: They're 6-0 since getting swept by St. Louis in last week's emotional series and have opened up a 3 1/2-game lead in the NL Central. But a stern test is ahead: The Reds, 0-12 in Dodger Stadium since 2006, will spend the weekend there. Homer Bailey starts the opener Friday night against the Dodgers' Carlos Monasterios.

 Expect to see Aroldis Chapman working out of Cincinnati's bullpen, an inning or two at a clip, after rosters expand Sept. 1.

 Wrong place, wrong time: Boston is third in the AL East, but the Red Sox entering the weekend would be first in the AL West and second in the AL Central, just 1 1/2 games behind Minnesota.

 When Ryan Kalish slugged a grand slam this week against the Angels, he joined Daniel Nava as Red Sox rookies this year who have done it. Last time Boston had two rookies crack grand slams in the same season? John Valentin and Bob Zupcic in 1992. Kalish also became the second-youngest major leaguer to belt a slam this season, after Florida's Mike Stanton.

 One scout's reaction to watching a Kirk Gibson-managed Arizona team: "I was there a couple of weeks ago and I saw Justin Upton for the first time hit behind a runner. That has to be Gibson."

 Lots of industry types think the Brewers already have decided to trade Prince Fielder this winter before the final season of his contract. And more than one scout has mentioned that Fielder's weight combined with his age (26) make a long-term deal a risky proposition. The thinking being, once a guy hits 30, his weight issues will only exacerbate. I'm sure Fielder's agent, Scott Boras, will have plenty of ammunition against that when Prince hits the free agent market two winters from now.

 How about the attendant in the Cubs players' parking lot giving Derrek Lee the business when Lee went to park Friday before his debut for the Braves? Guy told him he couldn't park there, it was only for Cubs players. After Lee was momentarily flustered, the attendant told him he was kidding. What a weird debut, Lee for Atlanta in Wrigley Field. And class move by Cubs' starter Ryan Dempster to go stand behind the mound for several extra seconds before Lee's first at-bat in a Braves' uniform to give the Wrigley Field crowd a chance to cheer him -- and say farewell -- longer.

 Whaaaat, Zagat's 2010 survey ranks Five Guys Burger and Fries ahead of In-N-Out? Hey, I love both, but you've gotta go with In-N-Out, don’t you?

 

 
 
 
 
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