The Stephen Strasburg Situation with the Washington Nationals Summed Up

This post courtesy of a comment on MLB.com by dooplis17:

I settle into a table near the window. The waiter approaches.

“He’s not here.”

“Not here?”

“The chef. He’s not here.”

The waiter explains that the 23-year-old culinary wizard – the reason people still flock to this otherwise drab restaurant – already has prepared a few thousand meals this summer.

“So our manager is shutting him down,” the waiter says. “He’s cooked too many meals as it is.”

I leave in a huff. Hail a cab. The driver stops two miles from my apartment.

“Um, this isn’t where I live…”

“Sorry, man,” the driver says. “Not my call. Dispatch says I’m putting too many miles on these tires.”

I get out. Hoof it home. A thin slip of paper is waiting for me in my mailbox.

“We regret to inform you that our postal carriers no longer will be delivering mail after August. In making this decision, we carefully considered the long-term health of our employees. We need them at their best for Valentine’s Day.”

I pick up a book. The last 20 pages are blank.

I turn on the television. The last two minutes go black (and I’m not even watching “The Sopranos”).

Out of frustration, I fire up my laptop. I have a column due on Nats pitcher Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg already has thrown 150 1/3 innings this season. The Nats intend to shut him down before the end of September even though he wants to pitch.

I peck out 200 words when the phone rings. It’s my editor.

“Forget the column.”

“Forget the column?!?!”

“It’s your first year on the Nats beat. And you’ve already written a lot of stories this season…”

“But…”

“… so let’s just get you ready for 2013.”

OK, quickly, before I reach my word limit. I think what the Nats are doing with Stephen Strasburg is

New York Yankees Trade for Ichiro Suzuki

Photo courtesy of mlb.com
From MLB.com:

The Ichiro Suzuki era came to an abrupt end on an overcast Monday afternoon at Safeco Field, as the star outfielder crossed over to the visiting clubhouse to greet members of the New York Yankees — his new teammates.

The blockbuster trade transpired so quickly, Yankees manager Joe Girardi was barely given enough warning not to put together an official lineup. Ichiro selected a uniform number — No. 31 — and found himself in that Yankees’ lineup, batting eighth and playing right field against his former Mariners club.

“I’m going from a team having the most losses to a team with the most wins, so it’s been hard to maintain my excitement in that regard,” Ichiro said through an interpreter.

The Yankees sent right-handed pitchers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar to Seattle in exchange for Ichiro. The deal also includes cash considerations. To create room on the 25-man roster for Ichiro, the Yankees designated outfielder Dewayne Wise for assignment.

“This was something that was a surprise,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “It’s an opportunity. I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out for us, because I do think he can really help us. I look forward to seeing if that’s the case or not.”

Comments

It’s typical Yankee tradition. They bring in a seasoned vet/future HOFer for half a season to fill a gap, then let him go. What do you think they will do with him once Gardner, who is younger and faster, recovers? In a way I feel bad for Ichiro as now he has the added pressure to impress everyone with his skills just so he can land a job next season. Sadly it will be hard as he’s only hitting .260. What a way for arguably Japan’s greatest baseball import ever to wind down his career.

I personally wouldn’t mind seeing him get 3,000 hits in pinstripes, but I know how it’s going to go, having seen the Yanks do this kind of thing for many, many years.

Alex Rodriguez Ties Lou Gehrig’s Record for Grand Slam Home Runs with 23

Earlier today MLB.com reported that Alex Rodriguez tied Lou Gehrigs’ home run record of 23 grand slams today.

[jwplayer mediaid=”1756″]

Anybody with the label “steroid user” will always be put into question. However, there are many players that take steroids under our very noses and are smart about it. There are also some players (like Andy Pettitte) that may have used it ONLY for the right reasons like recovering from an injury, and others like Ryan Braun that somehow took it but not quite (how he got out of court is honestly a mystery, I don’t buy that he just paid everyone off).

That said, A-Rod’s accomplishment, no matter the era, is nonetheless impressive, just like Ichiro’s record-breaking hits per season though it was done in 162 games, and Hank Aaron’s home run record in an era of expansion. On the other hand, the argument can be made that more pitchers are throwing harder than every before and relief pitching doesn’t make the pitching any easier late in the game, only harder.

As the game evolves, there are those that say that it’s ruined and those that say it’s enhanced. No matter what the case may be, Kudos to A-Rod’s (tied) record!

Some Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Jewish Major Leaguers

By: Peter Ephross

 

Nearly all fans of baseball history have heard of Hank Greenberg. Most have heard of Al Rosen. But fewer have heard of Cal Abrams, and hardly any, it’s safe to say, have heard of Lou Limmer. All four are members of a compelling team – American Jews who played Major League Baseball.

Why should we care about Jews who played in the Major Leagues?

Baseball helped American Jews feel at home and helped non-Jewish Americans feel comfortable around them. For instance, there’s the famous Greenberg story of sitting out a game on Yom Kippur in 1934. The actions of the slugging Tigers’ first baseman along with his home runs made him a hero to Jews and non-Jews.

The conundrum of whether to play on Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, has resurfaced for many players, from Sandy Koufax deciding not to pitch in the first game of the 1965 World Series to, more recently, outfielder Shawn Green, both of the Dodgers. Every time a star player rests on the High Holidays, it generates national headlines and fosters Jewish pride. Of course, non-stars have to make the same call.

The story of Jews in baseball goes beyond the well-trod turf of the “High Holidays dilemma.” Rebutting anti-Semitism and fighting hecklers was not uncommon for Jewish players, even when the hecklers were on the opposing bench. In particular Rosen, a former amateur boxer, wasn’t shy about taking on hecklers.

Racial awareness is another theme. Most Jewish players understood some of the prejudices faced by black players. Some, like Abrams, felt a special bond with their black teammates.

“I associated with them because we had a rapport about being with each other,” Abrams said of his black teammates on the Brooklyn Dodgers, including Jackie Robinson. “We kibitzed around with each other, but I didn’t go out with them. I mean, I wouldn’t go into the end of town to go dancing with the black people, but whenever we could we were together clowning around and kidding around.”

Jewish pride is a recurrent trope, too. Ron Blomberg made many New York Yankees ushers happy when he made his debut for the team in 1967.

“Most of them were Jewish, with names like Hymowitz or Lichstein, and three or four of them told me they never thought they would ever see a Jew play baseball in Yankee Stadium,” Blomberg recalled. “They had tears in the eyes and said to me, ‘You little Yid, you’re someone I can look up to now.’ ”

Pride in being Jewish is one thing, but being actively Jewish is another – most Jewish players, like most American Jews, weren’t observant. Many were raised Orthodox but none seemed to have maintained this level of observance as adults. It makes sense: Eating kosher food and maintaining any sense of Shabbat would be impossible while pursuing a professional baseball career.

The collective accomplishments of Jewish Major Leaguers likely would surprise most people. Jews, who made up about 3 percent of the U.S. population during the 20th century, made up just 0.8 percent of baseball players from 1871 to 2002, the latest year for which the nonprofit organization Jewish Major Leaguers has complete figures. But Jewish players on the whole have fared better than average. They hit 2,032 homers — 0.9 percent of the Major League total, and a bit higher than would be expected by their percentage of all players. Their .265 batting average is 3 percentage points higher than the overall average.

Jewish pitchers are 20 games above .500, with six of baseball’s first 230 no-hitters (four by Sandy Koufax, including a perfect game, and two by Ken Holtzman). The group ERA is 3.66, slightly lower than the 3.77 by all Major Leaguer hurlers. With the recent influx of top-flight Jewish Major Leaguers, the statistics even may have improved since 2002.

The stat in which Jews have fallen short is stolen bases, with a total of 995 through 2002 – many fewer than Rickey Henderson stole all by himself. Apparently, Jewish players have observed the Eighth Commandment: “Thou shalt not steal.”

Of the 141 Jewish-identified Major Leaguers as of 2002, 122 were born into families in which both parents were Jewish and 13 had one Jewish parent (seven with a Jewish father and six with a Jewish mother). Six players – including Elliott Maddox, an African American – converted to Judaism. Sixty-eight players hailed from New York or California, and the rest were born in 21 other states, as well as Russia, France, Canada and the Dominican Republic. Ten players changed their last names, all but one of them before Greenberg played.

Lou Limmer, by the way, was a slugger who played for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1951 and 1954.

Peter Ephross is the editor of the recently published “Jewish Major Leaguers in Their Own Words: Oral Histories of 23 Players,” from which this was excerpted.

 

This article was copied from the Jewish Press.

Sports Cards Today – Should Be Made of Plastic!

I personally enjoy collecting sports cards. It’s one of those hobbies that I’ve enjoyed since I was young and, while the glamour may have died down a bit with age, it still brings back fond memories. That said, as a collector, one of the things I would fuss about was whether or not a card was in Mint condition.

So far, it’s easy for a sports card to get ruined (and lots of money lost) in the event of a flood, earthquake, tornado, etc. If you carry cards in your pocket, that’s it as chances are very high that at the very least the corners will get dinged.

Having been to Starbucks recently and getting one of those gift cards where X amount of purchases amount to little deals here and there, I came across a revelation: Why can’t sports cards be the same way?

Hear me out. I get that “cards” stand for “cardboards.” In the past cards were made purely from cardboard meant to be placed as compliments in cigarette and then chewing gum packs. Due to the soft touch of the cardboard kids were able to play all sorts of games with them until the cards got so damaged that they became barely recognizable in the end. Kids used to use them as bike spokes since they were so soft. Today, no child I know still does that. Not to get too paranoid, but the world is no longer as safe and innocent as it was 50-60 years ago. Also, with the widespread usage of TV and video games, kids are more apt to play video games, go on the Internet or watch TV rather than buy baseball cards to use as bike spokes or play outside. In truth, those days are long gone.

Therefore I suggest that the sports card industry be redefined. Fewer kids are buying packs due to the rising costs and adult hobbyists (like myself) will only look for specific cards either in plastics or that are graded. What was once applicable 50 years ago doesn’t seem to apply today. In fact, most cards made today aren’t made of “pure” cardboard anymore! I thus openly introduce the idea that sports cards should be made of hard plastic with slightly rounded edges!

Think about it. Hard plastic has several advantages. Here are some:

  • They’re sturdier.
  • Rounded edges means less painful nicks on the fingers.
  • Also, you can make clear fronts and backs.
  • You can use a card to, say, redeem a 500 level seat at 30 cents less for a specific game at a specific stadium. Promotions rock.
  • You can use it to place cash on, sort of a gift/merchant card combo.
  • They can be traded more than just for the player on the front.
  • Career stats don’t need to be displayed in such detail since everything is online, where most people are on anyways.

Seriously, plastic might be more costly than cardboard, but if it might lead to more sales, how expensive can it be?

Frank Howard Nestle Quik Commercial

Frank Howard of the Washington Senators in a 1969 commercial for Nestle Quik. In the advertisement, the opposing catcher rags on him for drinking chocolate milk until Howard, who stands 6-foot-7, hits one deep over the left-field wall. The catcher then asks Howard how long he has been drinking Nestle’s Quik.

“Ever since I was about your size,” Howard tells the diminutive catcher, pinching him on the cheek “like a good boy.”

Classic!

Here’s the link to download it: 1969 Frank Howard Nestle Quik Commercial – YouTube

Frank Howard of the Washington Senators in a 1969 commercial for Nestle Quik. In the advertisement, the opposing catcher rags on him for drinking chocolate milk until Howard, who stands 6-foot-7, hits one deep over the left-field wall. The catcher then asks Howard how long he has been drinking Nestle’s Quik.

“Ever since I was about your size,” Howard tells the diminutive catcher, pinching him on the cheek “like a good boy.”

Classic!

Here’s the link to download it: 1969 Frank Howard Nestle Quik Commercial

I started to follow Frank Howard’s career. At 6’8″, he was one of the most feared hitters of his generation, hitting 382 homeruns, which at the time was a lot. It’s a wonder why he’s not in the Hall of Fame.