Articles from March 2012
When I first heard the news that MLB was sending two teams to Japan to kick-off the 2012 season I didn’t think much of it. Now that I am stuck in a classroom full of 6th graders taking state mandated tests, I have some time on my hands. Major League Baseball is a monster-sized, multi-national, money making operation. This is fine. As a matter of fact, this is great. I have no problems with this whatsoever. But hosting Opening Day in a different country…that’s some bull!
You can talk all you want about how Japan is a great consumer of all things MLB. You can praise them over and over for what they have done for the game. And don’t get me wrong; they have done positive things for the game of baseball. But they are still number 2 when it comes to fans. I know how much it sucks to be an Astros fan right now. Bud Selig publicly humiliated us. Try being an A’s fan today, though. They couldn’t even watch their team play on opening day. Seriously. Imagine how it must feel to know that you woke up to catch the 3 AM start time, only to see that the Oakland regional network was not carrying the game, the MLB channel would be playing it on tape delay 3 hours later, and then trying MLB.com to see that the game has been blacked out despite any amount of money you have already paid. This is where the beef lies with Opening Day held across the world.
Bud Selig and Major League Baseball will try to tell you different. They will try to explain to you that once every 4 years (Baseball has opened up the season in Japan in the years 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012.) baseball needs to make its way over to Japan to help expand the game. They will try to tell you that we still have Opening Night this season- April 4- and Opening Day- April 5. Malarky, I say. That rhetoric is purely diarrhea of the mouth.
If it is so damned important to make sure games get played in different countries, does it really have to be the first game of the season? Certainly not. Bud, you do know it is called America’s Pastime, right?
Give the people what they want. All we want here is this American sport of baseball to hold its Opening Day in America. This is hardly asking too much. Expansion of the game is great. I really do believe that, and so do most of you readers out there. Keeping American fans from not being able to go to the park to watch their team’s opening game is horse manure. Making it so that fans of a team playing their Opening Day game in a different country can’t watch said game is down right blasphemous. And hosting the very first baseball game of the season in a different country is just the worst idea ever. Figure it out, Bud Selig. You’re really starting to wear out the knees in those pants…if you know what I mean.
I recently returned to Dallas after a spring break that took me to Scottsdale and Farmington to visit the people I love as well as to visit a residency that hopefully I will be a part of once I graduate from dental school. During my time off I was able to watch several Cactus League games at the finest baseball venue on the planet: Salt River. Holy shit. That place makes Camelback look like a JV complex. After a decade in Tucson, the Rox and Diamondbacks deserve this place.
When I got home Griff allowed me to work out his C-Team guys in the infield and at the dish for a couple of days. I was able to watch his guys play Durango (CO) High’s C squad a couple times later in the week. A friend and former teammate of ours manages the DHS boys, and that entire program is doing a terrific job in no small part due to what he brings to the lower levels. It was a great little break from the daily grind of dental school, and it reminded me of what makes this time of year so special.
I was fortunate enough to watch some of the younger guys for Arizona and Colorado take part in an afternoon Minor League contest on some of the practice fields at Salt River, and it was easy to see in their faces how grateful they were to be doing what they were for a living. They were nearly all around 3 or 4 years, if ever, from breaking camp with the big club, but that was nowhere to be seen in the way they carried themselves regardless of the fact that it was Minor League Spring Training.
Over on the big field, Colorado utility guy and fellow New Mexican, Jordan Pacheco, was demolishing Cactus League pitching as he has done all spring. It would take a real group of idiots to send this guy back to Triple-A. He represented the state, as he has always done, spectacularly. With upwards of five New Mexican players cracking Major League rosters this spring, there’s never been a better time to grow up a ballplayer back home.
As I worked out Griff’s boys, it was obvious how into the game the youth around Farmington is today. Farmington High and Piedra Vista are the two best AAAA teams in the state and probably the two best regardless of class. Shilo McCall (PVHS) is now the top draft prospect statewide following an Alex Bregman (Abq. Academy) hand injury. PV defeated several very high quality teams in Phoenix last week including nationally ranked Santa Fe High (OK), and both Farmington schools are poised for what will prove to be a dogfight of a district season.
Perhaps the one thing that stuck out in my mind the most vibrantly while I was home was the generational aspect of the game. Several of Griff’s kids have family members that I either played with or against or even watched as a kid myself. Two good friends and former teammates watched the births of their first children this month as well. This time of year reminds us all to look positively toward the future and toward the upcoming months and to treat today as exactly what it is: an opportunity to grow within the game and within life that we will never get back. It reminds us that last season, last month, and yesterday are all distant memories and that today and every single day after it deserve to be approached positively. Also, the weather in the desert southwest in March cannot be beat.
Last night was episode 51 of The Baseball Show. If you haven’t listened to the show yet, what’s wrong with you? We’re working on some good guests this season. Plus we have some very entertaining segments coming within the next couple weeks. Clint Evans of Diamond Hoggers, M.J. Lloyd of Halo Hangout and I actually talked some baseball last night:
-I talked about my new gig as lead prospect blogger for Bleacher Report.
-Prospects and players impressing during the spring and MJ’s new crush on Eric Hosmer.
-Chipper Jones will retire after this season and where he ranks in fWAR.
-Players retiring early vs. players playing until they’re completely out of gas
-Dusty Baker is on the hot seat
-Arte Moreno’s GQ interview. And MJ’s take.
Check it out, get used to us. Next week we’re going to do an over/under episode with plenty of absurd categories mixed in. Listen below or find us on iTunes and then let me know how you found us. We are on there, somewhere.
I know it has been a while since we have heard any promising news for the upcoming season. I know it has probably been as hard for you, as it has been for me. With stories like this, this, or even this, it’s always a blessing to come across something, anything that can provide a glimmer of hope for the immediate future. And because I know this feeling, because every day this spring has been filled with someone telling me to be miserable for the next five years, or someone reminding me about how great it used to be, I became an enlightened individual who realized something; THAT’S SOME BULLSHIT! As devoted of a fan as I am, I have a hard time accepting that stigma. And so should you, Astros Fans. Enough is enough. We don’t have to put up with believing that 2012 is not going to be an exciting, passion-filled, memorable season. Due to disgust I have decided to do something about it. I have decided to provide the light on the immediate future, and deliver some generally goodness in the process. I know it has been a while since we have heard any promising news for the 2012 season. So, this one, this one here is for ya’ll. I present to you, at least five reasons (who knows, ya’ll might figure out even more) why it’s better to be an Astros Fan, than any other MLB fan this summer.
At Least 5 Reasons Why It’s Better To Be An Astros Fan in 2012.
5. A chance at history
Let’s face it…there is no getting around the fact that 2012 might be rough. If there were ever a silver lining, it would be this- getting in the record books. Some might choose not to see it this way, but this really would be a great opportunity for the Houston Astros. The record book is made to hold the names of people who were the best of the best. No matter the craft, there is no room for second best. Even if what you might have been best at is losing. If you are going to be bad, then you might as well go out in record-setting fashion. No matter what, if the 2012 Houston Astros were to set the all time single season loss record, this team could never die. It will withstand the test of time for future generations to enjoy; albeit in a different way. And that is all we truly want as a sports fan. That one magical season where the stars align just right, and magic is made. Who cares what kind of magic it is.
4. Sig Mejdal
Taking on the role of Director of Decision Sciences can’t help but to get us started. He comes from the front office of the St. Louis Cardinals. With Minute Maid Park as his new office, expect him to bring a fresh take on evaluating, and changing habits in, evaluating the decisions being made. The draft this summer won’t be his first rodeo either. He has been a key contributor on Cardinals draft day since 2005. To help aide him in his efforst, Mejdal hired an assistant- Mike Fast of Baseball Prospectus. Another fantastic direction it appears the Astros are heading down.
3. Jeff Luhnow
Thank you, Mr. Crane. What a spectacular hire. Not only did we steal him away from our (soon to be no more) division rival Cardinals, we scored big time. With a history of strong drafts and embracing the numbers along with the talent to use as one universal scouting system, I’m really happy about the front office of the Astros. From what I have read and heard, so are a lot of other people. Bringing in this next man just adds to my giddiness.
2. Jim Crane
When we talk about a rebuilding process in Houston we ain’t messing around. We start at the top. New ownership truly does clear the slate. No better time than the present. Jim Crane brings with him an eye for the future- both as far as the team on the field, and the butts in the seats. Slashing prices and allowing you to bring in your own food is a great start. Plus, he understands that an analytic/scientific approach to the numbers of the game can help a franchise out. That explains the Jeff Luhnow hiring. And to top it off, he resisted the tyranny that is Bud Selig and got our guns back! (If that ain’t some Texas shit ya’ll, I don’t know what is.)
1. First overall pick in the draft
We could not ask for much more. Let’s be real with ourselves, Houston. This is as good as it gets for right now. We are allowed first dibs on a crop of great young talent. Remember, this is a long-term plan we are dealing with here. Everyone knows that to rebuild, you do it from with-in. With any luck, we might even most certainly will have the same pick for the next two years. This pick, followed by possibly a second number one pick and about five top five picks over the next five seasons is a foundation to get you out of the cellar and heading in the right direction. Aboard this gravy train of draft picks, along with the healthy market size of Houston, this franchise will be back at the top before you realize it. But until then, it’s all about the draft picks. So read up on prospects, and watch as they transform before our eyes, and remember- each pick is another potential for magic to happen.