May | 2010 | The Golden Sombrero Baseball Blog | MLB, Fantasy, College & High School Baseball News

Articles from May 2010

The MLB Headlines That You Missed…

May 11, 2010

Every single day(and night) I spend an exceptional amount of time combing the internet, searching for various baseball related articles.  Of course, I love and all of their MLB writers and fantasy gurus, but I have also come to enjoy articles written by MLB, beat writers and bloggers like myself.  To some, the tedious bookmarking of so many sites and remembering to visit them regularly may be problematic. Sure, I can agree with you on that one.  However, these days there are ways to consolidate all of your favorite sites’ updates and view them at your own convenience.  In my opinion, two most common(and best) ways to do so are through RSS Feeds and Twitter.  I have been heavily involved with Twitter for probably a year and a half and believe it is the ultimate tool for staying up-to-date with all-things baseball, as well as consistently reading an assortment of articles.  Over this past week, there were so many stories that caught my attention for different reasons, that I feel compelled to share them with everybody.

R.I.P. Ernie Harwell

Last Tuesday, we lost the legendary broadcaster Ernie Harwell at 92 years-young.  The response by the MLB writers and fans has been tremendous and illustrates his the impact that he has made.  Due to his agelessness, Harwell touched has touched many generations and represents a voice that people have come associate with unique moments in their lives.  Ernie Harwell was and will always be, baseball.  Here are various recollections and articles that I found most enjoyable.


Scott Merkin,, beat writer for White Sox:

“Very sad news about the passing of Ernie Harwell. He was the utter depiction of what people should strive to be. Harwell was pure class and it was my honor to have had a chance to talk with him on a few occasions. “

Mark Feinsand, Yankees writer for NY Daily Times:

“I only met Ernie Harwell once. Although we spoke for 5 minutes or so, he acted like we’d known each other forever. Huge loss for baseball.”


Vin Scully Remembers Ernie Harwell

MLB Network’s Tribute

Harwell was an emblem of the Tigers – Ken Rosenthal,

Ernie Harwell will be missed – Steve Gilbert, Diamondbacks beat, writer

A Fond Farewell to Ernie Harwell – Larry Grinello,

The New York Times Obituary

Losing Harwell is Losing Family – Steve Phillips, National MLB Analyst

Eric Byrnes released by Mariners after dismal performance(s)

On Friday, April 30th, I witnessed the single most nauseating display of executing a suicide squeeze while watching the Mariners take on the Rangers.  In the bottom of the 11th inning, and still no score in the game, Seattle had the bases loaded with one out and Eric Byrnes at the dish.  With the suicide squeeze on, Byrnes failed to get down a bunt and left Ichiro out to dry.  Even worse, Byrnes actually threw his bat out to bunt it and then pulled it back at the last moment.  Then, he once again proceeded to awkwardly throw the bat head out after having that “oh, shit!” realization.  Wow.  The Mariners released Byrnes on Sunday after he hit .094/.237/.156 over 38 at-bats but we all know the real reason why.  Personally, I just think it’s because he looks so awkward.

Since his release, he has been discussing a potential retirement and immediate involvement in men’s beer league softball.

BA on the bump

Like I mentioned in my last post, I am a White Sox fan. Spare me your comments, I know. I’m frustrated as well.  Their 2005 World Series team is my favorite team of all time so I always keep an eye out for info regarding the likes Willie Harris, Cliff Politte, Brian Anderson, Pablo Ozuna, Ross Gload, Geoff Blum and more.  I just recently read that fan-favorite Brian Anderson, now with the Kansas City Royals, is transitioning to the bump.  According to MLB Trade Rumors, Anderson and the Royals believe a rejuvenation as a pitcher is possible.  He last pitched in 2005 at the University of Arizona where he was clocked in the low 90’s.

Please Tell Me You’re Kidding..

I have always loved it when a player lands on the DL due to a freak or hilarious injury.  I’m not sure if anything can compare to Kaz Matsui hitting the DL with an “anal fissure” 2 seasons ago. Yet, nothing makes my day more than when a player lands on the DL due to his own wrong doing.  This past week, I came across some of the best examples of hilariousness/stupidity that I have seen in some time.

–  Garrett Jones missed a game on Saturday, May 1st after being taken to the hospital earlier that day.  According to reports, Jones ate some beef on Friday night which proceeded to get lodged in his esophagus.  No, I’m not kidding.  He woke up with all sorts of chest and throat discomfort on Saturday morning and spent the following six hours at the hospital.  Apparently, his esophagus was swollen and he was unable to take down any liquids all day.  Doctors actually had to use anesthesia in order to cram some tubes down his throat to break up the beef…which sounds eerily similar to the plot of ‘Armageddon.’

I now have an image of Garrett Jones eating his food like a bird does a worm.

–  Nearly two weeks ago, after blowing a save and getting pulled from the game, Ryan Madson decided to let out his frustrations on an unsuspecting chair in the clubhouse walkway.  However, the chair proved to be way more of a foe than Madson anticipated.  Madson “walked” away from the encounter with a broken toe that required surgery and a trip to the DL.  Luckily(if you can call it that ), Brad Lidge was coming off of the DL that very day and is now in-line for all future blown saves.  The finally tally, chair 1, Madson 0.

–  And now, my favorite; one that now ranks among the most outrageous injuries I have ever read about.  Chicago Cubs second basemen Jeff Baker missed nearly a weeks worth of games due second degree burns on his ass.  How did this happen? He and a few of the Cubs’ pitchers were lighting their farts on fire in the clubhouse.  While the validity of this story is still in question, it’s hard to make up something so ridiculous.  Here is what was originally reported,

“By the way, there is a reason Baker has not been starting until today. I know someone in the Cubs organization, who informed me last week that Baker and two pitchers, one of them a starter, were lighting farts in the clubhouse, when something went awry, and Baker suffered second degree burns to his patoot. Even worse, a pitcher got a slight burn on his throwing hand. The hair on Bakers behind got singed, so he is now hairless there. In tonights game, he was lifted for a pinch hitter, something Lou never does. The reason—–the blisters on his bottom burst, causing so much water, that Theriot accused him of wetting his pants. He never came out of the clubhouse, so Lou was forced to put in Fontenot.”

I’m willing to bet that one of the pitchers involved was Ryan Dempster.

Trade Away the Rays

I don’t have much to say regarding all of the trade rumors surrounding the Rays’ Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford.  I will let these articles do the talking:

Carl Crawford Says That He and Carlos Pena Will Leave Rays in May 4, 2010

Crawford: No decisions, quote was wrong – Marc Topkin,   May 4, 2010

Tampa Bay Rays’ Carlos Pena okay waiting on team to determine future – Marc Topkin,  May 6, 2010

Reading Suggestions

For those who might be interested, there have been a few notable, baseball related book releases this spring:

The Bullpen Gospels: Major League Dreams of a Minor League Veteran by Dirk Hayhurst

I actually purchased this book as a birthday present for my father based upon the rave reviews throughout the baseball community.  Here are a few:

“A bit of Jim Bouton, a bit of Jim Brosnan, a bit of Pat Jordan, a bit of crash Davis, and a whole lot of Dirk Hayhurst. Often hilarious, sometimes poignant. This is a really enjoyable baseball read.”–Bob Costas”

“Dirk Hayhurst has written a fascinating, funny and honest account on life in the minor leagues. I loved it. Writers can’t play baseball, but in this case, a player sure can write.”–Tim Kurkjian, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine, analyst/reporter ESPN television

“Bull Durham meets Ball Four in Dirk Hayhurst’s hilarious and moving account of life in baseball’s glamour-free bush leagues.”–Rob Neyer,

The Game From Where I Stand: A Ballplayer’s Inside View by Doug Glanville

Here is a description of “The Professor’s” upcoming book:

“Doug Glanville, a former major league outfielder and Ivy League graduate, draws on his nine seasons in the big leagues to reveal the human side of the game and of the men who play it.

In The Game from Where I Stand, Glanville shows us how players prepare for games, deal with race and family issues, cope with streaks and slumps, respond to trades and injuries, and learn the joyful and painful lessons the game imparts. We see the flashpoints that cause misunderstandings and friction between players, and the imaginative ways they work to find common ground. And Glanville tells us with insight and humor what he learned from Jimmy Rollins, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, Barry Bonds, Curt Schilling, and other legendary and controversial stars.

In his professional career, Glanville experienced every aspect of being a player—the first-round pick, the prospect, the disappointment, the can’t-miss, the cornerstone, the veteran, the traded, the injured, the comeback kid. His eye-opening book gives fans a new level of understanding of day-to-day life in the big leagues.”

Batting Stance Guy: A Love Letter to Baseball by Batting Stance Guy(Gar Ryness)

I’ve been a big fan of the BSG since he burst onto the scene last year. Not only are his impersonations dead on, but they highlight some of the most obscure aspects of players’ swings and mannerisms.  He calls his talent, “The least marketable skill in America,” I call it the sign of a true fan.

Second Spitter

This is an instant classic.  During the Mets’ extra-inning win over the Giants on Saturday, Mets’ broadcaster Keith Hernandez actually fell asleep in the booth on a commercial break.  Don’t act like you’re not impressed.

Grinnell College hosting 2010 MWC Tournament; Greg Suryn ’11 recognized

Much like some of the other guys here at the Sombrero, I’m extremely excited to be headed back to Grinnell College this weekend to watch my friends and former teammates do some work in the MWC Tournament.  After last weekend’s double-header sweep at Monmouth, the Pioneers enter the tournament with 12-0 conference record(21-14 overall).

For those of you in the greater Des Moines area, you might have seen KCCI 8 – Des Moines’ piece on the Pioneers’ Junior outfielder Greg SurynSuryn, currently hitting a robust .446 this season, is one of the reasons for the Pioneers’ great season. Please read the article below:

Grinnell Baseball Player Overcomes Hearing Loss

Now in the words of Dallas Braden, “Let’s go eat!”

Just Tase Me, Bro! The Evolution of Electrocution in the Land of Idiocracy

May 9, 2010

Starting things off I have to give a huge shout out to Golden Sombrero Nation.  Lil’ Arlo has the site looking fresh and everyone has been throwing in nicely.  Two quick hollas: one to Dee, the fantasy guru of the dental world, and the other to Griff, America’s most dangerous high school teacher, who also unfortunately happens to be my older brother.  I personally haven’t played organized baseball since my balls dropped and I don’t play fantasy.  I have spent countless hours on and around baseball fields as an umpire and spectator/hell-raiser, but I wouldn’t consider myself more than a casual fan of the game.  I only occasionally watch baseball live and when I do it’s more to find things to heckle failing players about than to keep track of whatever nerd stats most of this site is concerned with.  However, I do hold a higher than average appreciation for the game of baseball and amazingly, The Golden Sombrero has now overtaken Big Sausage Pizza as my #9 shortcut when opening new tabs in Internet Explorer.  Keep up the good work, guys.  I’m honored to be contributing and if this can keep just one person out there from getting real work done, I’ll feel I have succeeded.

By now I hope everyone has been fortunate enough to see what took place Monday night at the Phillies game.  The Cardinals were in town and Boyerton High School senior Steve Consalvi was out with some friends on a school night to watch the game.  The game had been fairly uneventful until the 7th inning, when the Cardinals launched a 5 run barrage that the Phillies wouldn’t be able to match and unassuming Steve Consalvi simultaneously began hatching a plan that would unwittingly throw him into the national spotlight and will likely score him more ass than a goofy-looking seventeen-year-old deserves.  By the conclusion of the 7th inning stretch, young Stevie, supposedly not at the behest of any sort of dare or bet but possibly encouraged by the camaraderie of an especially rousing rendition of Take Me out to the Ballgame, mustered up the courage to call his dad and ask for permission to run onto the field of Citizens Bank Park.  Word has it that Steve is a bright kid, going to Penn State in the fall.  But I question the common sense of anyone who by the age of seventeen still believes their father has the power to grant permission for such things.  Everyone thinks their dad is Superman when they’re seven, but still a decade later honor-student Stevie still thought Dad had final say over the hundreds of public and private security officers, not to mention ball boys and groundskeepers, protecting the stadium and playing field that evening. “Well, no,” elder Wayne calmly replied, “I don’t think you should, son.”  And of course, since Steve’s parents are divorced and he hasn’t actually lived with his dad for a decade, he totally disregarded the old man’s advice.  So, full of youthful sanguinity and the belief that what he was doing gave him a pretty good chance of getting laid, or at least squeezing his first boob, Steve leapt down onto that silky smooth yard and began what he assured his dad would be a “once-in-a-lifetime experience!”

Sports can inspire incredibly powerful feelings of love, hatred and everything in between all in an instant, and the energy of athletic competition consistently compels people to act in ways beyond what is normally expected, be it playing the game or watching it.  When on-field athletes exceed our expectations it’s usually in heroic moments of jaw-dropping physical prowess, the kinds of plays you see and secretly think to yourself how in Darwin’s natural world this jock is way more deserving of furthering the species than you are (thank god for technology).  On the flipside, when a spectator does something that draws the attention of the entire crowd it usually leaves us all feeling a bit more of the pressure to carry on the human race in a respectable manner.  And the short, sad, saga of Stevie Consalvi was no exception.

Hearing Steve’s brief reasoning behind his actions, that this was going to be some sort of “once-in-a-lifetime event”, I must once again call into question his common sense.  While this incident has now surely become the highlight of short-bus Stevie’s brief existence, and could possibly remain so for his entire life, it began as a simple act of time-honored hooliganism.  We have all seen that guy in the crowd, usually about a Benjamin deep in nine buck beers and highly susceptible to the urgings of crueler, fellow spectators like me.  “Yeah dude, you should totally do it!  There’s no way those fat, lazy security guards stand a chance at catching you.  You’re (insert idiot’s name here) damn it!”  People have been running onto the fields of pro sporting events probably since spectator sports began, so why should this individual troublemaker warrant any special attention?  It began as an act that should not have been “once-in-a-lifetime” for anyone but the naïve schoolboy, but Monday night in Philadelphia will now go down in the annals of baseball spectator stupidity, right up there with Disco Demolition and Ten-Cent Beer Night. I honestly didn’t even see the highlights of the game, but I have watched silly Steve’s shit-eating grin shucking and jiving across every channel on television for two days now.  I even sat through half of the O’Reilly Factor to see what that old idiot had to say about it.  For the record, I was let down.  Yet I still haven’t gotten tired of the electrifying antics of this teenaged rebel-rouser.

That’s because slim Stevie’s forgettable moment turned magical the second he hit the juke button.  See, little Stevie wasn’t your average flabby, sloshing, ballgame drunk that gets smothered before his foot-powered joyride really even begins.  This kid was young, agile, and most importantly, sober. And little Stevie’s mini-marathon made that elderly Phillies security crew look pretty damn pathetic.  With a bomb strapped to his chest and a real hankering to meet Allah, he probably could have detonated the visiting dugout into smithereens; he definitely would have scorched the infield dirt.  Instead, Stevie was your typical American jackass, enjoying that perfectly mowed grass the best way he knew how. While the kid was admittedly no Barry Sanders, he didn’t need to be with that paltry, private security squad having to lay down their walkers before taking chase. That whippersnapper was turning figure eights on this sad crew like he was in Looney Tune Land, waving his white towel and laughing his ass off harder than Bugs Bunny.  But now that the juvenile was illegally trespassing on private property he was subject to the full force of the law.  And alongside those poor, balding, Phillies rent-a-cops was one of Philadelphia’s finest, and he was tired of fucking around.  This mockery of authority went on for about thirty seconds when the portly police officer, who surely thought he’d scored big earlier that night when being placed on outfield foul line duty, finally decided enough was enough.  Out came the Glo-light yellow plastic firearm and the treading trespasser went down with a hard dose of Edison medicine.  Turf-snortin’ Steve Consalvi fell face first into history Monday night being the first person ever Tasered for running onto a pro baseball field.

The one tool capable of bringing this wily teenager down was the fabled Taser, gift of Taser International and best friend of doughnut-grubbing cops everywhere.  Invented in 1993, the Taser is one of the most popular less-than lethal devices in use by private and public security forces today.  This magnificent piece of modern technology hits the skin with an electrical current of 50k volts, then drops to and remains at 19k volts after initial contact, providing a shock to the body of about .02-.04 amps and 1-2 joules of power. For comparison, a heart defibrillator delivers about 1-2 amps and up to 400 joules of power.  However, what sets the near-mythical Taser apart from the rest of the stun-gun market isn’t its power; it’s the technology that Taser Int. calls Neuro Muscular Incapacitation (NMI), basically an electrical current that overpowers your body by disrupting voluntary control of your muscles.  The Taser, unlike other stun-guns, isn’t designed to inflict pain.  Tweakers and hardasses and maybe even a kid jacked up on the adrenaline of running circles around a major league outfield can withstand a lot of pain.  Tasers work so that they are equally incapacitating to all.  Every single person will feel the exact same uncontrollable muscle contractions and react in a very similar manner.  If you are struck by a Taser you will certainly writhe, you will likely unleash more contorted abominations of human speech than Linda Blair in the Exorcist, and if you’re lucky you just might poo yourself.

When executed properly, and assuming you have no underlying heart conditions and aren’t so jacked on uppers that your heart explodes, after a minute or two you will walk away feeling fine.  In 99.7% of proper uses of Tasers there is no serious or lasting physical damage.  Other than mud butt and possible cell phone video footage there isn’t a lot left to show you’ve even been tased. The makers of Tasers are so confident in the safety of their product that, according to their website all senior management and most employees have taken voluntary exposures with various Taser devices.  I’d like to see the guys at Glock give that a try. To date, Taser International has only lost one Product-Liability lawsuit, in 2008, despite numerous claims and court appearances. This weapon is just strong enough to leave nothing more than a lasting (hopefully deserved) reminder of why you should follow directions and do as the Man says.  The other most popular options for instilling this valuable lesson are either batons or pepper spray.

Now I have never been Tasered, but I have been pepper sprayed and I have no problem admitting that I would rather roll around screaming for twenty seconds and crap my pants than deal with those hours of insufferable burning ever again.  I proceeded to drink myself into a state where I could no longer command my own feet to carry me home yet the inferno on my face never ceased.  If you thought waking up hungover sucked, wait until you’re hungover and covered in pepper spray. Not only are the effects of pepper spray much longer lasting, when the liquid is sprayed in a crowded setting it will almost surely be blown straight into the faces of innocent bystanders.  Just ask anyone that had to be evacuated from Rickett’s Park during the middle of a Connie Mack World Series Game after police broke up a scuffle in the parking lot outside the stadium using pepper spray. Nice going Jason Snyder and Tyler Sneed. Not only were you imbeciles so stupid to start fighting in the middle of literally the only major police presence in town, you delayed the game and nearly caused a riot so half a stadium full of people could rush to the nearest source of water and flush their eyes.  Thanks a lot.

If Philly cop had tried taking down sly Steve with his fiery, devil juice not only would he have come up dismally short but he would have been to blame for ruining the night of roughly 46,000 Phillies fans instead of just one. Nobody wants to deal with one angry Philadelphia sports fan, much less a whole stadium full.  Those jerks even booed Santa Claus. As for the baton, just ask anyone who has ever been struck forcefully with a blunt object what they think about the lasting impact of that.  Hell, ask Rodney King which he would prefer to be subdued with next time, I bet I know the answer.  But the best feature is the Taser’s detachable electrodes can reach suspects from up to 35 feet.  That means not only less work for the tubby, badge holder your punk ass is lapping, it also poses much less danger to those with the unenviable task of wrangling in rabid, violent offenders.  The point is Tasers are remarkably effective in subduing uncooperative subjects, even those of remarkable strength, intoxication, or hostility.  They can be dangerous, even deadly, when abused, but when used properly the Taser is arguably the most effective less-than lethal weapon in any security’s arsenal.

The Taser has been getting a lot of bad press over the last few years, most notably the “Don’t tase me, bro!” incident during a 2007 John Kerry town hall forum at the University of Florida in which a student pleaded with officers not to be tased after he was already in custody.  This was an incident of what is known as “dry-tasing”, when the Taser is applied directly to the skin.  This is a different setting on the Taser than the projectile electrodes, and in the wrong hands this continuous shock function can be used as a torture device, just as any other potential weapon might be.  The Taser itself is not to blame here.  This was an incident of an overzealous police officer wantonly inflicting unnecessary pain and punishment on a subject already in custody.  Nearly every single Taser use that has caused death is attributable to similar abuses, typically in which the suspect was held down and subjected to continuous electric shock for minutes at a time.  Clearly these are despicable acts and the responsible parties should be held accountable for their actions, meaning those abusing their position of power as well as the human rights of others. Obviously the Taser is very effective in what it does, and obviously the Taser also has a serious potential for abuse.  So the question remains whether the tasing of Steve Consalvi was appropriate or abusive.

The main argument against using the Taser in this instance is that it was excessive force because sweet Stevie wasn’t a threat.  He was just another jackass teenager, doing the same kinds of jackass things my friends and I were doing at his age.  The kid meant no ill will. I couldn’t agree more; I too was escorted from a sporting event in handcuffs as a high school senior while totally sober and never once feeling like a threat to anyone. I’m sure Steve thought his senior prank was harmless, and watching the video it is fairly obvious that the child posed no real danger.  But the only reason we are able to reach such an obvious conclusion is because he spent a solid half minute eluding the so-called “authorities.”  Bill O’Reilly was so embarrassed by his peers’ pitiable performance that when he showed the clip he blacked out the entire screen except for scrambling Stevie.

If those wrinkled geezers had been able to contain the ruffian and pin him down in a timely manner, there’d have been a whole lot more questions the next day and a whole lot less “aww shucks, it’s just a kid being a kid.” People would have wanted to know who this nut job was, and what the hell he thought he was doing threatening America’s pastime.  Fans in the stadium would debate amongst themselves, but all would surely congratulate the grounds crew for running a tight ship, taking care of business. Instead, a seventeen-year-old made an absolute mockery of the “security” fans are supposed to trust to protect them in the event that the person jumping that fence is more sinister than today’s everyday American idiot.  The fact that almost the entire security staff was buckled over at the waist following the arduous 30 second workout tells me that Philly and probably every other ballpark need more than just a staff of untrained laborers hired off Craigslist to guard the lives of both the fans and the team’s lucrative on-field investments.  I have worked security at large events like this. So has my grandma.  Let’s face it, for 8 dollars an hour you ain’t getting Blackwater.  Clearly a police presence is necessary to ensure proper protection in a stadium holding almost 50 thousand people.

Now the moment some crazy fucker drops off that fence onto the warning track it is any police officer’s duty to react accordingly, so in comes Johnny Law from off his comfy perch down the line.  He doesn’t have time to check if Steve is grinning madly because he is about to be greeted by 70 virgins or if he is really just having that good of a time playing tag for an audience.  This is America, the country where innocent people get killed at church, school, and the post office.  So to say it can immediately be assumed that Steve is harmless, for any reason, is preposterous. It’s sad, but the glory days of streaking are long gone and Morganna the Kissing Bandit is probably as aged as the Phillies security. If you think the fact that he was a teenager makes it harmless I implore you to speak with former Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa, who in 2002 was attacked in the coach’s box by a knife wielding shirtless fifteen-year-old and his toothless twenty-seven year old father.  Sure, it is probably unfair to be grouping Steve together with scum like them after all the facts are laid out, but I would rather police be on the conservative side when it comes to dealing with problems like this on the spot.

It is within a landowner’s right to defend his property from trespassers. One streaker at Augusta Golf Club in Georgia had his bare ass peppered by groundskeeper’s buckshot.  Maybe Major League Baseball should institute a shoot-on-site policy for anyone running onto the field, not only to deter these idiots but to protect our cherished athletes. Too harsh, you say? Monica Seles may disagree. And I am yet to hear one major league player come out in defense of Steve.  I am not saying I condone MLB killing people for being stupid, even if they would be legally justified in doing so.  All I am saying is that running onto a professional sports field is no longer just innocent fun; people have been attacked and seriously injured by deranged fans in instances not a lot different than the one Monday night.

It sucks for harmless goofballs like Steve Consalvi that the psychos had to go and ruin it.  But that’s the way of the world.  If you think Stevie is getting shafted, think about what happened to all the dudes rocking black trench coats after Columbine or Arabs trying to travel after 9/11.  We are all falling further under government scrutiny by the day, and anyone presenting himself the slightest suspicion of being a threat should expect to be treated like such, right or wrong as that may be.  This was nothing like the University of Florida student begging “Don’t tase me, bro!” while being dog piled and crushed by multiple cops.  This was one daring fool, dashing his way to fifteen minutes of fame.  He willingly broke the law, probably expecting nothing more than to be tackled and dragged away to thunderous applause.  But then Steve went and rubbed it in the establishment’s face with the run of his life, weaving in and around a bunch of retirees and one porky, sweaty cop. I’m not saying Steve Consalvi was wrong.  I’m not even saying he shouldn’t have done it.  In fact, I applaud his selfless dedication to providing us all with such classic slapstick humor.  In a tense, fearful world it’s nice to see a guy being stupid just for stupidity’s sake, although sadly for Steve and probably Steve’s boxers that meant crumpling like a convulsive sack of potatoes.  But the kid deliberately broke the law in a potentially dangerous manner only to then embarrass the peace officer attempting to catch him. In today’s America, there isn’t another scenario that could scream “JUST TASE ME, BRO!” any louder. And if you don’t like that, the World Cup is starting soon and everybody knows how wild soccer riots are.

Piedra Vista Wins First District Title Despite Loss; Farmington Baseball Prepares for State

May 8, 2010

Friday evening saw what will go down as a historic District 1AAAA title game between Farmington High and Piedra Vista High. The game saw two Division 1 signees in dead lockstep on the mound, extra innings, and victory for the home team. As FHS 3B, Joe Cervantes, touched home in the bottom of the 8th, the Scorps raced from the dugout to celebrate at the plate while the Panthers sauntered off of the field. All was not lost, however, since, due to a rule which is ripe for amendment, the Panthers still retained enough of a runs scored/allowed difference to collect their school’s first title.

The following morning, coaches from both schools carpooled and caravanned together southward to scout various potential opponents they may face in the upcoming state tournament in what will surely go down as another first. Prior to this season, the coaching staffs of the two powerhouses were bitter rivals and enemies. With a new generation of coaches at both schools has come a sense of cooperativity both in the school ball season and the club seasons. It is the opinion of the local baseball community that this cooperation was entirely overdue. The rivalry at times destroyed friendships, resulted in criminal activity, and, most importantly, stalled players’ development. No doubt the schools shared some of their scouting information in an effort to ensure the state title comes home to Farmington. It’s about time that eastside and westside Farmington were viewed as a single baseball community.

Sunday morning the two schools snagged the top two seeds in the state tournament bracket (PV at the top) ensuring that the earliest the two clubs can meet is the title bout. The road will be tough for both schools with a number of strong Albuquerque metro schools as well as a couple strong squads from the southern half of the state. Nevertheless, none of these schools should stand in the way of what should break the current tie between the two powers from up north.

PV has never won a state championship, but they have played in a handful.  They are the heavy favorite to win their first one this month, but what FHS proved last weekend is that this juggernaut has a weakness or two. Most notably is the fact that their entire lineup is right-handed. Scorpion starting arm, Eli Freese, held the Panthers to just two hits and never allowed a ball into the outfield in the air. Good downward and heavy action from righties will cause PV trouble at the plate. They play exceptional defense and have easily the strongest rotation and bullpen in the state, but other schools possess a more diverse offense. Don’t get me wrong, though. PV has proven they can scrape runs across when they need primarily by means of speed and an aggressive approach to running bases.

The state tourney kicks off this weekend with both Farmington High and PV hosting regionals at Ricketts against Bernalillo and Deming respectively. The visiting squads should not beat either of the home junior varsities, so let’s hope the Scorps and Panthers can get some of the early postseason jitters out Friday so they will be ready to attack in the quarters the following weekend.

As an alum of both of these programs (played at FHS and coached at PV), I am not sure I have ever been as proud to be a member of the Farmington baseball community as I am now. The way these two rivals have turned their war into something that benefits everyone has been nothing short of inspirational, and both schools will reap the rewards for generations. The perception held by kids now is not that they will eventually be a Panther or a Scorp but rather that they will represent their town in a way that is shared and owned communally. Finally. Best of luck to both of these schools. Leave no doubt in anyone’s mind where the blue trophy belongs: Ricketts.

Perfect Ten: Pioneer baseball team clinches division title, to host Midwest Conference Tournament for first time since 2000

May 4, 2010


Much to the delight (and to some, the disbelief) of the Grinnell College baseball community, it became official late Saturday afternoon: the Pioneers are a perfect 10-0 in Midwest Conference play and South Division champions for just the second time ever.  They’ll be hosting the Midwest Conference Tournament beginning on Friday, May 14, and despite what the Chinese calendar might say, the team could not be more confident that this is finally the year of the Pioneer.

On the mound, the Pioneers have arguably the best one-two starting pitching tandem in the history of the program.  Ryan “Don’t touch the” Harris ’10 takes the ball in Game 1 with a 4-1 record, a 2.41 ERA and a K/BB ratio of almost 3:1.  The big lefty from St. Louis will look to do something on May 14 that no Pioneer has ever done before: advance the Pioneers to the winner’s bracket with a Game 1 victory.  Backing him up is Ben Pope ’12, whose numbers are even better at 6-1, 1.39.  He has also finished five of the eight games he has started, and will take the hill in Game 2.

However, no other pitcher with an ERA below 5 has logged a start for the Pioneers this year.  Candidates to take the ball in Game 3, should the Pioneers make it that far, are Chris Peconga ’12, who has logged the most starts of anyone not named Pope or Harris and compiled a 1-3 record with an 8.42 ERA, or David “Have another beer” Platt ’10, who has started just one game but holds a 5.16 ERA and a 1-0 record, both the best on the team among pitchers not named Pope or Harris who have thrown five innings or more.  In addition, closer Chad “You don’t need a bottle opener, that’s a” Christoff10 (2 SV) may be called upon before the ninth inning in a tight ballgame.  As someone who has attended three College World Series and seen his Miami Hurricanes bow out on elimination day all three times, this writer can testify that although two stud pitchers can get you to the dance, it takes more than that to win it all.  It will be very interesting to see who steps up for this Pioneer pitching staff on Day Two of the tournament, when all teams’ Conference starters will be used and games are likely to be much higher-scoring.

On the other side of the ball, the Pioneers are led in nearly all offensive categories by sophomore sensation Mike “Smile and” Nodzenski ’12, whose sizzling .453 batting average and mind-blowing 1.367 OPS makes him an offensive force like no Pioneer lineup has seen since the days of Jason Anderson ’02, whose walk-off grand slam catapulted the Pioneers to their only other South Division championship all the way back in 2001. However, some say Nodzenski is having the greatest season of anyone ever to don the scarlet and black, already with ten round-trippers and the season not over yet.

Hitting right in front of him in the Pioneer lineup is Greg “All Present and Accounted for” Suryn ’11.  Suryn currently owns a torrid .446 batting average and an other-worldly 1.180 OPS while leading the team with four triples.  While his power (2 HR) does not approach Nodzenski’s, one of those home runs will be counted among the most important in the history of Grinnell College baseball.  Suryn’s crucial blow came in the bottom of the eighth inning of the eventual division-clincher, tying the game up and forcing it into extra innings, where the Pioneers eventually won, 10-6, on Nate Pierce ’10’s walk-off grand slam, who two seasons ago was not even wearing a Pioneer uniform.

Finally, no account of the Pioneers’ offensive abilities would be complete without mention of senior Paden “End of the” Roder ’10, whose team-leading total of ten home runs more than justifies his other team-leading total of 23 free passes.  Roder’s uncanny ability to both get on base consistently and find the other side of the wall, along with leadoff hitter Chad Takabuki10’s disruptive power-speed combination (11 XBH, 8 SB) helps this offense strike some serious fear not only into opposing pitchers, but catchers as well.

Regardless of the Pioneers’ chances (and most think they are very real), the alumni response to the team’s achievement has been nothing short of remarkable.

“Congratulations on the two big wins!” said former all-MWC pitcher Gary “Wrath of” Kahn ’09 via facebook all the way from South Africa.  “I know I had nothing to do with it, but I am so proud of this team,” remarked 2003 second-team all-MWC outfielder Peter Leo ’06, currently a Drake University law student. Jim Malewitz ’09, currently in Iowa City studying journalism and author of his blog, the Iowa City Digress, is “stoked beyond belief” to come back and watch the Pioneers vie for their first-ever conference title.

Former All-MWC second-teamer Robbie Unsell ’08 proclaims that “his spirit will be with” the Pioneers as he studies veterinary medicine in London, England.  2008 MWC South Division pitcher of the year Rick “Everybody knows about the” Berdelle ’09 (Clarendon Hills, IL) will be coming to the tournament and is “willing to accept any sleeping accommodations” to watch the Pioneers next weekend.  Golden Sombrero founder and former Pioneer captain Mike Rosenbaum ’08 will be making the trek in from St. Louis, having already taken in a Pioneer doubleheader sweep of Illinois College in Jacksonville, IL.  Former Pioneer ace Sam Eaton ’07 (Austin, TX) and all-MWC first-teamers Kevin Byrne ’06 (Chicago, IL) and Baylor dental school first-year Daniel Dee Clark ’08 (Farmington, NM) also may be in attendance to watch the Pioneers make their run at history as part of what will undoubtedly be a raucous crowd come May 14th.

The Pioneers are three games—just 27 innings—away from history, as they’ll look to capture Grinnell’s first-ever Midwest Conference title next weekend on the North Diamond.  And if you can’t make it, that’s no problem whatsoever—2008 first-team all MWC South Division catcher Jim Malewitz ‘09 along with myself, Justin Abramson ’08, the one-time voice of Pioneer athletics, will have the call for you for Midwest Conference Television, with coverage starting ten minutes before first pitch.  You can catch all the action at

So come on out to the ballpark with us for the Midwest Conference tournament!  From Honolulu, Hawaii all the way to Durbanville, South Africa, Pioneer baseball fever has struck the globe, and the only cure may be a conference championship.  The Pioneers lit the fire this fall as they do every year, and while sometimes that fire is nothing but a few glowing embers after the first week of May, there is no doubt now that it will be a roaring blaze at the North Diamond come tournament time.

Welcome Back: The Resurgence of Vernon Wells, Kelly Johnson and Andruw Jones

May 3, 2010


There are a handful of players across Major League Baseball that are proving that their misfortunes and struggles from last year(and some even longer) are behind them.  For avid, fantasy enthusiasts like myself and the rest of the staff at The Golden Sombrero, the resurgence of many of these players may not be news.  Yet, to those not in an absurdly competitive, 16-team league, these once elite, ballplayers will continue to be unrecognized or disregarded to their involvement on a potentially non-contending team. Despite this notion, and also considering that most players are nearing 100 at-bats, Vernon Wells, Kelly Johnson and Andruw Jones’ immediate success cannot be ignored.  For these few players, it is important to dissect what has made them successful thus far and whether they might be able to maintain their current level of production.

Vernon Wells, OF Blue Jays
2010 Statistics: .330//385/.690 (1.075 OPS%)  21 R, 12 2B, 8 HR, 18 RBI, 1 SB
Like so many others, I was more than ready to write off Vernon Wells as a lost cause; another player who has been rendered irrelevant due to a weak Blue Jays’ offense and perpetual injuries.  Wells finished his 2009 campaign with a line of .260/.311/.400 that included 15 HR, 66 RBI and 17 SB, which, in reality, is not all that terrible.  However, he had set the bar high for himself with his 2003 season that included 33 HR and 117 RBI.  Is Wells capable of repeating such production? More so, can he surpass his previous career highs?  I believe that he will.  Wells has never struck out more than 90 times in a full season and has a career K/BB ratio of about 2, indicative that he consistently makes contact.  When you combine his knack for contact with the fact that he is generating a fly ball 53% of the time, I think Wells will almost certainly slug 33+ HRs.  At the same time, it will be nearly impossible for him to maintain his current 1.202 OPS% with runners in scoring position.  Similarly, the Blue Jays offense is likely to continue struggling throughout the year which means Wells might become a solo bomb machine. Barring any significant injury, I would expect Wells to finish the year with 95-105 RBI, which would rank as one of his best seasons.

Kelly Johnson, 2B Diamondbacks
2010 Statistics: .310/.404/.726 (1.130 OPS%) 17 R, 8 2B, 9 HR, 18 RBI, 1 SB
I haven’t talked to Rob about it yet, but I would guess that he is glad I’m touching upon Kelly Johnson’s resurgence with the Diamondbacks.  We both have always been KJ fans since he burst on the scene with the Braves in 2005, but could never quite grasp the reasons for his decline over the past two seasons. When receiving regular playing time, I have always seen great value in Johnson as both a big league 2b and as a fantasy player.  In 2007, Johnson posted a .832 OPS% that featured career highs in both home-runs(16) and walks(79) in 521 at-bats, stats that are indicative of the essence of his success.  Patience.  That year, Johnson lead the NL in walks among second-basemen and saw an impressive 4.12 pitchers/plate appearance(#P/PA).  This season, he is off to the best start of his career with a .310 BA, 9 HR, 18 RBI, 14 BB, 1 SB in 84 at-bats.  While Johnson has always been regarded as a streaky player, his performance thus far has been nothing short of consistent and I believe that he is in the midst of his career season.  In those 84 at-bats, he has seen an impressive 4.36 #P/PA, which ranks 5th in the MLB and 1st among second basemen.  If Johnson even remotely continues at this pace, he will undoubtedly set new career highs in most offensive categories.  My prediction: 21 HR and 80 RBI

Oh yeah, did I mention that he has a 1.277 OPS% against left-handed pitching this year?

*The other day, I read a fantastic, comprehensive article by the Capitol Avenue Club that details the intricacies of Kelly Johnson’s career.

Andruw Jones, OF White Sox
2010 Statistics:  .274/.400/.694 (1.094 OPS%)   13 R, 2 2B, 8 HR, 11 RBI, 4 SB
If you didn’t already know, I am a White Sox fan.  Having said that, the first month of the season has left me utterly disappointed and concerned about what’s to come.  There have been a few bright-spots in the White Sox lineup, but I doubt that anybody could have predicted that Andruw Jones would be one of them.  Jones has affixed himself in the middle of the White Sox order thanks to his 8 HR(2 multi-HR games) and 11 RBI in just 62 at-bats.  Even more impressive has been the un-Andruw-Jones-like, plate discipline that has resulted in his 12 BB compared to only 18 K.  We can’t be talking about the same Andruw Jones, right? Wrong.  Jones is seeing a career high 4.61 #P/PA which raises an important question: is he really capable of reinventing his offensive approach at this point in his career?  Since he burst onto the scene with Atlanta, Jones has never really seemed to want to adapt to the rest of the league.  Even in his darkest hour on the Dodgers, he seemed totally complacent and unwilling to reconfigure his swing and approach.  However, there is definitely something different about Jones this season compared to his stints with both the Dodgers and Rangers.  In addition to finally shedding some pounds, Jones just looks comfortable playing baseball again.  The White Sox seem to be a nice fit for the 33 year old and his early production will only merit an increase in his playing time.  As long as Jones doesn’t remember who he has been over the past couple seasons, I see him capable of hitting .260 with 30 HR, 85 RBI and 15+ SB.