Wednesday, December 14, 2005
by Adam Roesch
Good Morning! If you missed yesterday's posting, be sure to click here to read the Word Association with Stick & Ball Guy.
Before I start out today, I received a few e-mails lately regarding "The Kidney Stone." The initial pain came a month ago and lasted for six days. I have now not had pain for over three weeks, which I'm obviously quite happy about. I went to a follow up appointment yesterday and found that it did grow and is still there. Today, I am going to see a urologist and will find out what needs to be done next. I am really hoping to avoid the surgical procedure as it was explained to me, and that does not sound like fun at all! So, there is the update. Now to today's topic:
I have plenty of baseball thoughts below, but today, I will be posting our third winner in the GuardDog watch Why Baseball Contest. Marvin Gustafson and Tracy Mitchell each already won a GuardDog Watch. If you are interested in participate by writing a Why Baseball for me, for next month, please e-mail me and let me know. I'll give you a date to shoot for and that day will be yours. If you're interested in purchasing a GuardDog Watch for Christmas, please click here.
So, without further ado, I present Why Baseball?, by Adam Roesch. Adam writes a blog creatively titled AMRs Blog. Here is a brief bio on Adam that he sent me:
I grew up in New Ulm, MN, graduating from Cathedral High in 1996. Went to college at Augsburg (Minneapolis). Married my high school sweetheart in 2000. We had our first kid (Cora) in July 2003, and our second (Henry) last week. I work as an actuary in downtown Minneapolis. My favorite player is Carlos Silva and Cora's is Jacque Jones. My last name is pronounced "Resh."
As a child, I wasn't very athletic. I played hockey in first grade, and T-ball and Pitching machine baseball in Kindergarten through third grade. I was never very good at any of it: hitting, throwing, catching, or running. I played right field - on the foul line so if anyone hit it to me and I dropped it, it would have been just a foul ball. Anyways, I made a much better fan than participant.It must have been 1985 or so when I first noticed professional baseball. I collected cards with neighbor boys, watched a few televised games (Al Nipper of Boston pitching vs the Twins because I had a stuffed dog named Nipper), and went to one game with my dad and some of his work friends. (Roy Smalley hit a homerun.)Yet I lived in a small town and had no cable. My newspaper gave me capsule reviews of the Twins games and only scores for anything else. And I had other interests. The contrarian in me rooted for the Cards in the '87 Series (and I took a lot of guff from my classmates), but I had a lot of their cards and they were kind of my favorite team.I paid a lot more attention in 1991, and did root for the Twins hard, my Dad even let me stay up to see Kirby's HR in game 6. (I don't know if I watched all of game 7 though). I followed the Twins as well as I could in '92, but I took a 2-week wilderness vacation in August and the Twins fell behind a bit in the race. In '93, I was a Phillies fan (they are still my favorite team ever, non-Twins division), and in '94, I was looking forward to watching the Expos dominate the playoffs, only to have The Strike cancel that. The Strike really separated me from being a young fan to a teenager who didn't give a rip about pro sports. (I found out in 2001 that the Marlins had won a World Series. I thought my friend was pulling my leg.)But it wasn't all about the MLB for me, my uncle Chuck played with the New Ulm Brewers, a Legion league, and I probably watched 40 of those games over the two summers before I got a job. Chuck, who must have played high school ball with Brian Raabe and Terry Steinbach, was a pitcher and 2B. But my favorite player on the Brewers was Todd Pfaff, a Hafner-type Outfielder with a shaved head. I got one of his home run balls out of the parking lot and had him sign it. It's still displayed at my house.In 2001, I was graduated from college and had a job downtown, and the Twins started out with a 16-2 record, or something like that. So I checked them out and really got into baseball (and other pro sports again). I don't know, but like a fair-weather fan, I went from ignoring to being wrapped up in a couple of months. I still didn't have cable but watched when I could and listened on the radio.In July 2003, I had a baby girl and realized that I could easily do her midnight feedings if I watched late SportsCenter at the same time, and I started following the rest of the league. (We had basic cable by that time, which stopped at ESPN). I watched a lot of highlights and rebroadcasts. In April 2004, I found SethSpeaks via Twinsgeek at the Star-Tribune. And Batgirl. And I had FSN. So as soon as Victory Sports was history, I started watching every game, and in summer of '05, I started blogging, just because bat-girl's comments were getting overloaded, and my silly one-liners were off topic. So, long story short: winning Twins + TV + bloggers turned me from a non-fan into a huuuge fan over four or so years.So, why has baseball grabbed me so? It's a huge number of things, but number one has to be pitching. I love the pitching. No other position in sports puts themselves out there like a pitcher. He faces 20 or so guys and if just four of them hit the ball in the right places, he's had a bad outing. One mistake by a batter can be ignored, but one by a pitcher can mean 3 runs. Maybe my bias towards pitchers comes because the Twins have had a lot more pitching than hitting, but my bias is true. Santana vs Garcia, from this fall, is one favorite games ever (although I'm only looking at about 6 seasons). And, though I wrote about it for my "favorite player" article, I love what Carlos Silva does. "Groundout, Groundout, Groundout."I also love that the game is every day. All summer long, I can find a baseball game. I can have something to talk about the next day. Not just Mondays like football, or every third day like basketball. I love the regularity of it. It's my soap opera (with new episodes on weekends!).Another thing I love is the rookies and minor leaguers. You can hear rumors of them from sites like SethSpeaks. When they come up, they have names like Ambiorix and Yhency and Scott, and then they go out there and perform, or not. The way baseball is, with one-on-one at bats, every guy that gets to play gets his one moment to succeed or fail. (Unless he's only in as a defensive replacement). He could get a hit or he could ground into a bases-loaded double play. He could strike out the side or get torched for six runs and no outs. But either way, there he is in the box score.I would have loved to write more, but I have a baby due in a week, and I need to persuade my wife that "Harmon" is an excellent first name for the boy. [Note: Harmon was out of the running. "Henry" worked when we met him. It's a decent baseball name, but I should have called my uncle for tips on getting your wife to concede on naming. His son is "Kirby."]
So, there you have it. A terrific Why Baseball article! Thank you very much Adam for taking the time to write up this essay. I think it was very good to see the game from another perspective. A fair-weather fan turned non-fan, turned fan, turned HUGE fan! Let me know what you think. If you would like to ask me or Adam any questions, please feel free to e-mail me, or, you can enter Comments!
The Dodgers were finally able to unload Milton Bradley. There had been rumors of this throughout the offseason. Yesterday, it finally happened. The Dodgers packaged Bradley with utility infielder Antonio Perez and sent them to the Oakland A's in exchange for minor league outfielder Andre Ethier. It's funny that the A's got two major league players for a minor leaguer, but I think that the Dodgers got the better of this deal. We all know what Bradley is, an extremely talented and yet volatile outfielder. He can hit and hit for some power. Perez is a solid, but he's a utility player. He won't have a huge role. Andre Ethier is a minor leaguer. There is always risk in that. But to me, he really made himself into a top 10-15 hitting prospect. He was the A's second round pick out of Arizona State just two years ago, and he has hit well at every level. This season, at AA, he flirted with .400 much of the season and ended up around .330. He had an excellent on-base percentage and showed flashes of power. I guess I don't know if he is a real highly regarded prospect, but I think he is worth watching!
The Royals may have some interest in Doug Mientkeiwicz. To that, I say... Let the weak get weaker!
And, according the the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cubs may have interest still in Jacque Jones, probably to replace Jeromy Burnitz in right field.
Our friend "Roger" posted a very interesting article at TwinkieTown projecting the 2006 Twins minor league affiliate's pitching staffs. I know Roger and I have discussed this at length in the past. There is an equally interesting discussion at John Sickels' site discussing the top minor league pitching staffs. Of course, the New Britain and Ft. Myers staffs are creating a lot of discussion!
'wcooley' authored another great and very interesting article. He discusses that the Twins are not as bad off in terms of offensive prospects as some may want to think. He does an interesting comparison of the A's OF Nick Swisher and the Twins AA OF Doug Deeds. Both played ball at The Ohio State and did well. Both have done well in the pros. Great comments too!
Over at John Sickels' site, someone wrote an article asking for Thoughts on Jason Kubel. Check it out and feel free to add some comments on what you think the Twins can hope for from Kubel. If I'm not mistaken, Kubel is either about to get married or just recently got married, so Congratulations to him!
ESPN has this very interesting chart that describes the Twins lack of home run hitters. As we have heard over and over again in the past, the Twins have not had a 30 home run hitter since they had three in 1987. This chart shows all of the major league teams and when their most recent 30 homer hitter was, and how many 30 home run hitters they have had since 1987. No team has had a streak that goes back further than 2000. Colorado has had 27 thirty homer hitters. Texas has had 26 thirty homer hitters. The highest total for a team that plays in a real ball park is Toronto with 25. Of course, there is another ESPN Insider article to which further discusses the Twins lack of power. But like most things on ESPN.com, you have to pay for that subscription and to read that article.
The agent for Jacque Jones is saying that he will decline the Twins arbitration offer. That is good news for the Twins, and the right decision for Jones. He apparently has a number of multi-year deals available to him that he is mulling over, and the Twins will only offer him a one-year deal.
Did you read the article in ESPN on poor Ugueth Urbina? It's really sad how the article makes him out to be the victim because he is sitting behind bars. OK, people on his ranch were beaten and nearly killed by machetes and other weapons. The actual victims are saying that Urbina was instructing his hired men to do these acts. Of course, he is claiming that these people did it in an attempt to extort him. If so, they're crazy. But I have to wonder about the mental well-being of Urbina after the kidnapping of his mother a year ago.
ESPN's Rob Neyer wrote an article for The Baseball Analysts yesterday as part of their Bert Blyleven week. He discusses how Blyleven's numbers stack up against a Hall of Fame pitcher.
The Bert Belongs site has added new information and links to more articles. Again, I would encourage people to e-mail your local paper's baseball writers and encourage them to vote for Bert. Also, feel free to e-mail me and let me know their e-mail addresses so I can e-mail them.
USA Today has an article on a few of the guys that are closest to the necessary 75% including Blyleven, Jim Rice, Andre Dawson and Bruce Sutter.
And on those notes, I am going to call it a day. I certainly hope that you have found the "Why Baseball" article by Adam worth reading. I will be back tomorrow with another very interesting guest column, another position analysis by "Roger". If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me, or of course now you can just enter some Comments for all the world to see.
Back to Archives Home