Archive for May, 2013

Bay Sox Down Thunder

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

It was a cold, windy day in Bowie as they took on the Trenton Thunder.  Not the most pleasant of late May days when the hitters are thinking the warm days are coming and those cold bats will get hot with the weather.  They may have to wait for another day for the weather to get warm.

Tyler Austin was not worrying about cold days in the first inning.  He drove a pitch from Devin Jones and shot it out over the high wall in left field for a 2-run homerun.  It would be the only runs Devin would give up in his five innings of work.

Steve Bumbry got a run back for the Orioles in the second inning when he lifted a ball into the dark clouds and over the centerfield scoreboard for a solo homerun.  It was his second homerun of the year and back to back days in which he has hit a homerun.

In the bottom of the fourth the Bay Sox took the lead off Zach Nuding.  Nuding didn’t help himself by hitting Bumbry and walking Ty Kelly to load the bases.  Niuman Romero drove in two runs with a single to center to give the Bay Sox a 3-2 lead.

They added a run in the eighth on an RBI single by Steve BumbryJason Gurka made the lead hold up with his three innings of relief work, lowering his ERA to 1.30.  He yielded to Zech Zinicola in the ninth, who retired three of the four hitters he faced to pick up the save.

The Thunder missed out on two opportunities to score in the fifth and sixth.  With runners on first and second and one out Slade Heathcott popped one to right field.  Henry Urrutia stepped back then raced forward to make a shoe string catch.  Ramon Flores was caught in no man’s land between first and second and couldn’t beat the throw back to first for the double play.  With the bases loaded and one out in the sixth Walter Ibarra hit a comebacker right back to Gurka who turned a home to first double play.

The Bay Sox had an opportunity to score in the first with runner’s on first and third and one out.  Aaron Baker popped out for the second out and Brandon Waring took a called third strike.

Game Notes: Slade Heathcott had one of those frustrating games.  He was called out in the first after the umpires conferred and ruled he was out of the batter’s box on a bunt attempt after the ball hit him in fair territory.  He also took called strikes in the third and eighth innings and flew out to the double play in the fifth…Both Devin Jones and Zach Nuding have chances to work in the back end of the starting rotation.  Both threw fastballs in the low 90s with good command…If the name Bumbry rings a bell it is because Steve Bumbry is the son of Orioles great center fielder Al Bumbry.  He will not come close to matching the defensive chops of his father, but could have a better stick…Caleb Joseph is in his fourth year in the Eastern League and is tearing it up, second in homeruns (10) and RBIs (36) with a .537 slugging percentage.  At 27 in June you would think the O’s would give him an opportunity to be a back up catcher to Matt Wieters.  His slight frame in his early years was cause for concern about his durability and he has missed some time because of injuries, but he seems to have bulked up and could take the demands of catching.  He is the brother of Yankees third baseman Corban Joseph.

Hector Espino - Crash Davis and Babe Ruth Rolled Into One

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Hector Espino was called the Babe Ruth of Mexico because he hit over 700 homeruns combined between the Mexican Summer League and Winter League.  He is also considered a Crash Davis because he holds the record for most homeruns in minor league baseball with 484, the 290 to 300 he hit in the winter league not counted in his homerun totals.  Only three of his 484 homeruns were hit in the United States.  The rest were hit in the Mexican League.

Major league teams wanted to sign him.  He played 32 games in Jacksonville for a St. Louis Cardinals AAA team in 1964, hitting .300 with three homeruns.  Joe Morgan was his teammate on that team.  Morgan had no doubt he would have hit his share of homeruns in the major leagues.

The Cardinals won the World Series in 1964 and wanted to purchase his contract.  He would have played with players like Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Curt Flood and Bill White.  He chose to play in Mexico where he said he could make better money.

He may not have been paid as well as in the major leagues, but with the cost of living he could live better.  He was also concerned with the perception of the United States racist attitude in the 1960s.  It was better to be a big fish in a small pond rather than just a fish in a pond with thousands of other fish.

You can read the article on him here:  http://www.sbnation.com/longform/2013/5/21/4348250/hector-espino-mexico-baseball-home-run-king-profile

The Rap Song and Video Game

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Chapter 26

The Rap Song and Video Game

May 20 – In a shocking development, the two Iranian men arrested for the bombing of the China embassy were both found dead in their cells today. The two men had just met with their attorney the day before. The United States is in the process of performing an autopsy to determine the cause of death. There is also a search for the attorney who spoke to the two men inside the jail. The government of Iran has stated it is convenient the two men accused of bombing the China embassy were both found dead in their jail cells. “Dead men do no talking,” an Iranian spokesman was quoted as saying. “The United States realized how flimsy their evidence was and killed them before they had an opportunity to talk to the international community to describe the tortures placed upon them.”

The first face Kevin saw when he opened his eyes was Shu. “Hey. It’s good to see you. Am I in heaven because I see an angel?”

Shu smiled excitedly. “He’s awake,” she burst out. “Next time big guy like that wun to home base you step aside.” She seemed to float down towards him and kissed him on the lips. It felt good.

Jason appeared like a balloon from somewhere. His eyes still saw objects in blurs and shades. “How long have I been out?” He tried to sit up but his head hurt and he fell back on the pillow.

“Well. Jasmine in second year college. It bout time you join us.”

Jason still needed to work on his sarcasm. “Ha. Ha. If she is in her second year of college then you have found the fountain of youth my friend, because you haven’t aged a day since I last saw you. Well, maybe one day. You’re still looking ugly though.”

Jason leaned down and spoke near the right ear of Kevin. “The voices inside head. They want me to apologize for not protecting you. They say it preordained.”

There were still cobwebs floating around inside Kevin’s thought process, trying to make sense of reality. “I appreciate their concern.” Kevin wondered how voices inside the head of Jason would protect him from a 6 foot plus 250 pound middle linebacker but the cobwebs were preventing him from thinking logically. Besides, they had not talked about his voices for some time. Now was not the time.

Jason leaned down again. “They say next time they will shield you.”

“I’m hoping there will be no next time.”

Alexis came over. Jason walked away from the bed. “How you feeling?” Alexis had a smile on him as large as the Chelsire cat in Alice in Wonderland.

“Alexis!” Kevin was surprised to see Alexis. “Nice throw. Was he out?”

“We nailed him. The guy who bulldozed you is out for the year though. Broken arm.”

“That’s too bad,” Kevin said dripping with his own sarcasm. He wondered if the voices Jason was talking about were responsible for that.

“But hey, you didn’t have to catch that ball.”

“It’s all part of the game. It was a good throw. I didn’t want to let you down.”

“You da man.” Alexis held out his fist towards Kevin. Kevin tried to find it to complete the fist bump but only grazed the side. His head pounded a dull ache.

“There is one thing I wanted to ask you – were you reading his pitches?”

“Nah.” Alexis shrugged his massive shoulders. “I just knew I could hit him. I remembered your tirade at me that first game at Frederick. Remember that? The team looked pretty lethargic back then too so I thought it would put a little spark in them. No dramatic homerun though like you did.”

“I’m glad to hear you weren’t reading his pitches, cause I couldn’t see a thing. I thought I was losing it. It was a good triple though. They are harder to hit than homers. And you bounced into third pretty good – from what I remember. You need to work on that slide.” Kevin looked around the room. “Are we in a forest here? What’s with all the flowers?”

Jason was the first to speak. “Some of your admirers. All people in China must have phone number for flower shops in Ma-wee-land. These are few we accepted. Many more flowers come but hospital have no mo’ woom. Flower shops make killing off you misfortune. The nurses ask me why you so famous. They not have patient get so many flower before. In one day nurse count over 300 delivery.” Jason was smiling as he held out his one finger to represent the number of days. He was very excited as he told this story.

“Well, that’s nice of them. I hope they don’t expect thank you cards. How long will I be in here?”

“Doctor wait for you to wake up. You have–,” Jason struggled to find the English word, closed his eyes to think. “–concussion. No bones boke. They do more test when you wake up. Make sure you normal.”

“You have not forgot Emily coming for dinnah tonight,” Shu gushed excitedly.

“They have to let me out for that.”

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Taiwan Struggles for Who Controls Baseball

Friday, May 24th, 2013

The Olympics may not have baseball but in Asia they have the Asian Games and they have baseball.  Just like the Olympics, the Asian games are played right in the middle of the professional seasons of the three big Asian Leagues.  It is played every two years.  Japan usually sends a group of industrial league players or college players and in the past even with those players they won the Asian Games.  Taiwan wants to have their professional players participate and there is the problem.

The China Professional Baseball League has stated they will not allow their players to participate in the Asian Games right in the middle of their season.  Sound familiar.  The Chinese Taipei Baseball Association, which is the Taiwanese arm of the International Baseball Federation would like to send their best players.  The CPBL would like to have more control of the formation of the national team and by refusing their professional player’s participation they can negotiate for more control in the creation of the National team.

In the past the CPBL has had sagging attendance and was not considered very popular in Taiwan.  With a successful showing in the World Baseball Classic and the arrival of Manny Ramirez to the league attendance has shot up in the CPBL.  The CPBL is now starting to flex its muscle.

Both the CPBL and the CTBA feel they have control of the baseball in Taiwan.  You can read about the power struggle here: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/sport/archives/2013/05/24/2003563034

The baseball for the Asian games has been won by Japan the last five times.  Taiwan won it in 2001 and finished second in 2003, 2005, 2009 and 2012.  Korea won it in 1999 and finished second in 2007.  You can see the history of the games here under Asian Baseball Championships: http://www.myworldofbaseball.com/id14.html

Cuban Playoffs Down to Four Teams

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

After playing a round robin schedule of 80 plus games the Nacional Cuba Baseball League whittled the competition to four teams.  Those four are the Cienfuegos Elefants (56-31), Sancti Spiritus Roosters (53-34), Matanzas Crocodiles (52-34) and the Villa Clara Orangemen (50-37).

The defending champion Ciego de Avila finished five games off from advancing.  Of the four teams in the finals, the last team to win a championship was the Villa Clara Orangeman back in 1995 when they won their third of three straight championships.  Myworld will report on the results of the games as they are finished at http://www.baseballdecuba.com/newsite/index.html

Otani Makes Japanese Debut

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

There were more people lined up outside the stadium to get tickets for the first game of Shohei Otani’s NPB career than there were for opening day.  He had pitched in some minor league games (ni-gun) and he had played outfield in the major league games (ichi-gun).  Today was his debut on the mound and over 6,000 people lined up to buy tickets.  Attendance for the game was over 36,000.

The Nippon Ham Fighter’s Shohei Otani or anyone else did not get the win today as the game ended in a 12 inning 3-3 tie against the Yakult Swallows.  Otani pitched five innings and gave up two runs.  Catcher Yuhei Nakamura ripped him for a 2-run triple in the second inning.  Either the catcher has a lot of speed, or that ball had to have been hit a long way to have him rumble to third.

Otani walked three and struck out two in his five innings of work.  He also gave up six hits.

In other interesting Japanese news, Randy Messenger improved his record to 6-1 with a career high 146 pitch six plus inning game in the Hanshin Tigers 7-1 win over the Chiba Lotte Marines.  Matt Murton laced four hits to support his effort, improving his average to .357.

The Yomiuri Giants broke their three game losing streak with a 10-4 win over the Rakuten Eagles.  For the second straight game Hisayoshi Chono led the game off with the homerun.  The big news for that game is Ryo Hijirisawa did not make an error in that game.  He has not made an error since September 22, 2010.  That translates to 658 chances without an error, tying the Pacific League record held by Tatsuya Ozeki.  The Central League record is 817 games held by Eiji Fujii.

You can keep up on all the Japanese baseball news at http://yakyubaka.com/

Frederick Debut (cont - 10) - end

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Larvell watched from his office television Alexis score when the next hitter grounded one towards the right side. The second baseman chose to take the sure out at first. Alexis raced home as soon as he saw the ball hit to the right side. The camera showed the players jump from the bench after Alexis crossed the plate. They ran out of the dugout for a collection of high fives. Some of them might have regretted those actions afterwards. Alexis seemed to slap their arm back when his hand connected to theirs. Larvell could feel their pain. Joe gave him a big smack on the butt, a veteran smart enough not to offer his hand.

Frederick scored another run that inning, with Kevin Beamer rocketing a double into the left centerfield gap to score the second run. Their opponents, the Salem Red Sox scored their first run in the eighth to make it 2-1. The Salem Red Sox had left a bushel of men on base in the seventh and eighth. Larvell felt fortunate only one of those runners had crossed the plate.

In the top of the ninth the Red Sox got a one out double to put the tying run at second base. The player standing on second was an ex-football player trying to figure out baseball. He was six feet four with broad shoulders and muscles oozing from muscles. He still had not lost his football mentality or his football physique.

The next batter popped one up to second for the second out. Only one more out and Jason Woo would get the victory.

Rigo had joined Larvell in the office to watch the game. They could see from the television screen the stadium had emptied after Jason had left, but there was still an enthusiastic following urging the Keys to hang on.

“What are you doing here so late?” Larvell had asked Rigo when he peeked his head through the open door.

“I was finishing up the defensive efficiency module, went out for a stretch and saw the light on. I thought I would come in here to see what’s up.”

“Just watching the final outs of the game. Pull up a seat.”

They did not hear the sound of thunder. It had happened while Rigo had peaked his head in the doorway. They did hear the announcers drone on about the thunder and try to conjecture what may be the cause. It got so nauseating Kevin was tempted to hit the mute button. He was hoping it would not happen. It was starting to become too big a focus when Jason pitched. Everyone seemed to be waiting for the thunder.

They listened to the announcer call the top of the ninth from the television screen hanging from the corner of his office. ‘Pat Putman is 0 for 3 with two strikeouts. The count is 1-1. Here’s the pitch. The ball is ripped into right field. It falls in front of the right fielder Alexis Panigua for a base hit. Wiley is racing around third. A clean pick up by Alexis. The throw. This is going to be close. Here is the throw and Ohhh…” The announcer screamed as if he was the one receiving the hit. There was a huge collision at the plate as the muscle upon muscle middle linebacker now base runner Wiley plowed into Kevin, sending Kevin flying five feet in reverse.

“The home plate umpire is looking to see if Kevin Beamer has held on to the ball. It appears he has. The umpire has called the runner out. Unbelievable! The Keys have won the game! The Keys have won the game! That was a vicious hit the catcher Kevin Beamer took from this ex-middle linebacker of a runner and he still managed to hang onto the ball. Remarkable! Truly remarkable! Let’s see if he can get up after a hit like that.”

There was a huge roar of approval when the crowd saw the umpire call the runner out, the umpire sticking his thumb out from his hand, raising it high in the air and emphatically slamming his hand towards the ground to finalize the out call. Frederick had won the game 2-1.

The roar quickly turned to silence when the remaining fans saw Kevin was not getting up. All the players from the bench had rushed to the home plate area to congratulate Kevin on the tag. Many of them were now waving frantically to the dugout for the trainer to come out.

The television replays showed the hit over and over, the runner gathering in his arms and plowing into Kevin just as Kevin caught the ball. It was a vicious middle linebacker hit one sees in football more than baseball. Kevin flew backward and his arms flew apart, but the ball remained in his glove free hand as he hit the ground. The replay showed Kevin raise his hand with the ball clutched tightly in it, then the hand fell limply to the ground. At that point Larvell wished they had not repealed the runner making contact with the catcher rule.

“Ow. That was a nasty hit,” Rigo commented, while they watched the replay for the third time. “I can feel the pain from here.”

They watched as a stretcher was brought out. The trainer was waving some smelling salts in front of Kevin’s nose. They could see Kevin shake his head slowly. He was placed on the stretcher, barely moving. Larvell felt like he had been the one taking the hit. The camera showed the worried stares of the fans that had stayed to see the end of the game, hands to mouth worried about the fate of the Frederick Keys catcher.

Larvell needed Kevin. This did not look good. He quickly took out his phone to call Moose.

End of Chapter 25

Edgar Arredondo

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Antonio has also given me a heads up about pitcher Edgar Arredondo, a 16 year old pitcher who made his debut for the Quintana Roo in April.  He pitched two innings and gave up only one hit.  The Mexican League is equivalent to AA in the minor leagues.  Arredondo will be eligible to sign with major league teams after July, but teams may have to pay a big price.  Mexican prospects tend to be more expensive than other international prospects because Major league teams have to compensate the Mexican League team for the player they sign.  Only the bonus that is given to the player counts against the teams international bonus signing.

Yunesky Maya Gets Another Opportunity

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Ryan Mattheus took his fist to a locker after giving up five runs on four hits and two walks against the Padres.  In those cases the metalic objects usually win.  After the punch Mattheus found himself with a broken hand.  He is not the first player to do that and he won’t be the last.  As a result of his anger and a stretched out pen Yunesky Maya was called up by the Nationals along with Fernando Abad.  The Nationals put Mattheus on the disabled list and sent down outfielder Eury Perez.

Yunesky Maya defected from Cuba about the same time as Aroldis Chapman.  He was considered the more polished pitcher than Chapman, but lacked the overall stuff.  Myworld had thought Maya would be pitching in the major leagues as a number three or four starter while Chapman struggled to get his command and find a third pitch in the minors.  The reverse has happened.  Chapman has become a closer for the Reds while Maya has been locked in AAA for the Nationals.

Maya stands only 5′11″.  His pedestrian fastball and other underwhelming stuff does not seem to have the same effect on major league hitters as it did with Cuban hitters.  In the Nacional Series he was considered a better pitcher than Chapman and for the 2009 WBC he was the top starter for Cuba.  Aroldis Chapman was a back of the rotation starter for the Cuban team, but got most of the buzz because of his 100 mile per hour fastball.

His best year in the Cuban League was in 2008-2009 when he won the equivalent of the Cuban Cy Young Award finishing 13-4 with a 2.22 ERA.  He struck out 119, second to Aroldis Chapman who had struck out 130.  He signed with the Nationals in July 2010 and zoomed through their minor league system, getting two starts for AAA Syracuse before the season ended.

Maya had his best year last year when he finished with a 3.88 ERA at AAA Syracuse after 28 starts.  This did not result in a promotion to the Nationals, even though he is listed on their 40 man roster.  This year he is a less impressive 1-4 with a 5.07 ERA in eight starts.  The opposition is hitting 30 points higher off him this year than they did last year.  He still got the call up.

He has shown improvement with his last three starts, all quality outings.  He has given up only four runs in his last 20 plus innings.  The Nationals rewarded him with a callup to their bullpen.  In the majors his record is 1-4, 5.52 ERA.  He is going to have to improve on those results to stay in the bullpen.

Frederick Debut (cont - 9)

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Frederick had been having trouble generating any kind of offense. The game had gone to the bottom of the sixth inning with neither team scoring. Jason had recorded thirteen strikeouts, giving up just two hits, one of them a bunt single for the first hit in the game in the third inning. The manager had already told Jason he was done. If he was to get the win the team had to score in the bottom frame and then hold them.

At that point Alexis got up from the bench screaming in English, “We got to get Jason some runs. Too much chitter chatter going on here. The pitcher is giving away his pitches. We’ve got to see that, but no one is paying attention. No respect for the game. We can’t be happy with our bats here. Time to wake them up.” He walked over to the bat rack, pulled a number of bats out and threw them to the ground, kicking them where they lay. The other players were struck with silence, watching him as he booted the bats around like soccer balls. “Wake up bats. Get some life in you.”

Alexis was easily the biggest man in the dugout so they certainly did not want to confront him. His tattoos also made him intimidating. Alexis grabbed his bat from the others strewn about the dugout floor. He left the other bats lying there for the batboy to pick up, stormed up to the on deck circle. “The Beast will wake things up. The Beast is going deep. Deeeeeeep! I know exactly what this pitcher is throwing.” He stomped into the on deck circle like the giant he was.

When Alexis talked about himself he liked to use the first person. If he was hungry and wanted to get something to eat it was “Alexis is hungry. Where are we going to eat?” If it was baseball related he always referred to himself as The Beast.

The opposing pitcher had only given up three hits, none of them stroked solidly. If he was giving away his pitches Kevin had yet to notice.

One of the players mumbled under his breath once Alexis walked into the on-deck circle, “Rookie. He hasn’t been in the locker room long enough to be messing with our bats.” Kevin glared at him and the player shot his glance towards the ground.

Alexis didn’t hit a homerun but he rocked a pitch into the right centerfield gap. He was no gazelle when running the bases, but the further his body lurched forward the faster his long strides carried him. He didn’t stop when he hit second and he rumbled for third. As soon as he got close to third he flew his body into the air, stretching his arms out as far as they could go, eventually hitting the ground with a thud and bouncing like a basketball towards the base. It was an ugly slide, his chin hitting against the ground, but it got him to the base before the ball did.

There was a huge roar from the crowd. Alexis bounced up, called time to brush the dirt from his uniform. He gave out a yell, shouting out unintelligible words to his teammates in the dugout. Those in the dugout were also starting to show some enthusiasm for the first time. They were yelling “Beast” back at Alexis while bumping each other’s chests.

“That’s what I’m talking about,” Kevin yelled from the dugout among his celebratory chest bumping teammates, even though he didn’t have a clue what Alexis was screaming from third. It was a mixture of Spanish and English.

As the next batter walked to the plate Joe Palmer said to Kevin, “Good ballplayer.”

“Yep. He can play on my team any day.” Kevin was still a little amped up and he shouted out his response a little louder than he wanted. He began to realize the more he played with Alexis the better he liked him. He still didn’t like the rap music he played in the locker room or the tattoos riding along his arms, but at least he stopped wearing his pants halfway down his rear.

“Wonder where he learned to read pitchers like that?” Palmer shot Kevin a knowing smile. Moose talked to the other managers almost weekly via tele conference calls. Larvell wanted them all on the same page. To do that they had to talk to each other to find out what the others were doing. Dusty Rhodes had already relayed the story of Kevin dressing down Alexis for his inattentiveness to the game.

“Makes you wonder,” was all Kevin would offer.

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