Category Archives: Major League Baseball

Toronto Blue Jays ace pitcher traded to…Phillies, White Sox?

Roy “Doc” Halladay, as he is affectionately known, ace-pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays, is about to be dealt. He is widely considered to be the best pitcher in baseball, and was publicly put on the market about two weeks ago by Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi. There is a July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but Halladay has a full no-trade clause giving him final word on where he goes.

On Sunday, the Blue Jay’s 3-1 victory over the Red Sox, with an outstanding performance by Halladay, simply underscored the star pitcher’s value. His price just went up.

Where will Doc go? Many insiders say the Phillies, some pick the White Sox. On the baseball forums, there seemed to be a theme of “please not the Yankees.” These fans, who extol the loyalty and fine character of Halladay, say that he would never agree to go to a circus of an organization like the Yankees. Also, the Blue Jays don’t want to trade within their division, so likely Halladay won’t go to an American League team.

What teams have the salary capacity and prospects to handle a Doc Halladay trade? This limits the possibilities. The teams that scouted Sunday’s game, the Dodgers, Phillies, Brewers, Tigers, Red Sox, Rangers and Twins, are among the options.

Obama’s favorite team, the Chicago White Sox, is in the running. In last week’s All-Star game, Halladay was the starting pitcher for the American League, and followed President Obama to the pitching mound, as the President exercised the traditional duty of throwing out the first pitch. Did he notice Halladay’s prowess? He has the power and audacity to quadruple the deficit with his stimulus package, maybe he’ll pull some strings.

Who needs Halladay? Arguable, every MLB team needs the best pitcher around. But the Philadelphia Phillies have been searching for a front-end starter for most of the season. The Phillies also have a deep farm system, with plenty of prospects for trade.

Then again, Toronto doesn’t have to trade Halladay. He loves Toronto and would happily sign an extension to remain there. Halladay is a family guy who cares a lot about maintaining a stable lifestyle for his wife and kids. Maybe nothing will happen after all. But chances are, it’s Philly, here comes the Doc.

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James Loney wins for LA Dodgers

James Loney, Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman, hit a 13th inning homer to push the Dodgers to a 7-6 win over the San Diego Padres this past Sunday. I think we’ll be seeing more power and dominance from this Texas-born consistent player. Currently, the Dodgers stand at the top of the National League, and we should be expecting a great season from them. Plus, Manny Ramirez is back.

Off the field, James Loney is also a superstar. Loney was the 2008 nominee from the Dodgers for the Roberto Clemente Award. This award honors the baseball player who sets a great example in the sport, has outstanding community involvement, and is a significant  team contributor.

Last week, after the Dodgers beat the Rockies, Loney was at the stadium hosting 40 kids from the RBI Los Angeles program (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities). Loney bats and throws left, but everything is right about his heart. His community involvement group called Loney’s Lounge regularly hosts the RBI Los Angeles kids, treating them to a game and a video-game party. Here’s what Loney has to say about the events:

We definitely enjoy hosting the kids from the RBI program, and it’s become something I look forward to doing. It’s also nice to relax after a game and just hang out with the kids, play Wii and talk about anything they want to talk about.

Keep up the good work, James Loney. Go Dodgers!

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Vladimir Guerrero: from life in the Dominican Republic to the Angels

Growing up in the Dominican Republic, Vladimir Guerrero spent his young days herding cattle and milking cows with his grandfather. Guerrero attributes his gloveless batting to all that bare-handed cattle work of his youth. He’s not used to wearing gloves, and isn’t about to start now.

Guerrero hit a home run in the sixth inning to lead the Los Angeles Angels over the Chicago White Sox 2-0 Saturday. He is predicted to go down in the Hall of Fame before the end of his career. He was voted the American League Most Valuable Player in 2004, and received the American League Silver Slugger Award in 2007, among other honors. He previously played for the Montreal Expos.

Vladimir Guerrero is a man of great faith and strong family. He carries his Bible with him everywhere and says “You have to try to deal with whatever God puts in front of you.” His grandfather, who mostly raised him, had 22 children. Guerrero has provided in many ways for his great big family, with both financial assistance and job creation in his homeland.

The LA Times ran a nice article on Guerrero several months back, and highlighted one of the purposes behind Vladimir’s lucrative baseball career:

That somewhere else probably would be Bani, a dusty provincial capital of 62,000 near the Dominican’s southwestern coast. Guerrero and his brother Wilton, a former major leaguer, own more than half a dozen small businesses there, ranging from a construction company and concrete-block factory to a small grocery and a hardware store across the street from the house where they grew up. None of the businesses make much money, Guerrero confirms with another hearty laugh and flash of his megawatt smile. But that’s not the point.

The point is they provide hundreds of jobs and necessary services. Many of the employees are family – and those who aren’t are made to feel as if they are.

“We hope God continues blessing us so we can keep supporting our family. And also the people that work for us,” Guerrero says.

You can next see Guerrero in action when the Detroit Tigers play at Los Angeles tonight, 9 p.m. ET.

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Environmental group threatens demonstrations if MLB player doesn’t quit his hunting hobby

Florida Marlins relief pitcher Logan Kensing enjoys hunting on his family’s property from a helicopter. What he does during the offseason – a legal sport, and to control an invasive species (wild pigs) – should be no one’s business. So why is the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition up in arms? This organization is threatening the Florida Marlins, saying “We want the Marlins to make him agree to stop.”

And what the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition has done is tantamount to blackmail, in my opinion, and they should be the ones who are worried. Here’s part of the letter received by Florida Marlin’s team owner Jeffrey Loria:

They have 10 days from Monday to reprimand the player for behavior that isn’t one of a role model. If they don’t, we will be persistent. We’ll infiltrate the fans and pull out signs. We’ll picket. If we’re willing to have 27 people arrested, it’s obvious we’re committed.

Here in Oregon, it’s always open season on feral pigs. They “destroy everything,” as Kensing said.

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Colorado Rockies: Welcome to the World Series and Blog Giveaway!

Seth Smith, Colorado Rockies
Rocky Mountain High! The Colorado Rockies are headed to the World Series, after completing a four game sweep last night in the National League Championship series with a 6-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. With all the fireworks, it certainly was “rainin’ fire in the sky” last night. And since John Denver also mentions that “You can talk to God,” you may be interested to read my previous post about the Colorado Rockies’ famous Christian faith – there are some rock solid believers among these Rockies.

And the Colorado rocky mountain high
I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky
You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply
Rocky mountain high
from John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High

As breathtaking as the Rocky Mountains themselves, this Colorado Rockies team has done what no one would have thought possible. 21 wins in 22 games, and the first of firsts – the World Series. And weren’t they just in last place? I loved Jayson Stark’s story at ESPN.com, where he lays out the impossibilities:

Don’t ask how a team that was a mere four games over .500 on Sept. 15 could make it here from where this team came from.

From nine games under .500 (18-27) in May.

From six games out in the wild-card race in September.

From 4½ games back in that wild-card race with only nine games to play.

From two games behind with two games to play, and having to watch that Padres team they were trying to catch get within one strike of clinching.

From two runs behind in the 13th inning of the 163rd game of the year, a game they never should have had a chance to play in the first place.

Has any team ever overcome all of that to play in a World Series? Not a chance.

Colorado Rockies Tape Measure
Since this Colorado Rockies team clearly measures up, I’m giving away this Rockies tape measure! My rules are very simple. You must have a blog or website and write a piece about the Colorado Rockies. Anything – you may love them or hate them, just write about it. Be sure to include a link to this blog post, as well as a link to the Colorado Rockies tape measure at TeamMASCOT.com. Leave me a comment here as well so I don’t miss your post, and so I can reply to you when you win. I’ll keep this contest open until October 23, just before the start of the World Series. I will do a random drawing for the winner on that date.

GO ROCKIES!!!! Gotta love this ESPN Radio interview with Todd Helton. The reporter asks Todd if there was ever a time when he said to himself, “Maybe it’s not meant to be for me to play in the World Series?” – especially after 11 losing seasons with the Rockies. Todd Helton responds with incredible optimism and hope:

No, I just always had hope and I always thought it would happen.

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Colorado Rockies: Nice Guys CAN Finish First

They say nice guys finish last, but this year’s Colorado Rockies baseball team shatters that cliche. On Thursday, the Rockies will face the Arizona Diamondbacks in game one of the National League Championship Series. They swept Philadelphia in three games in the NL Division Series, and just ended a stretch of winning 14 of 15 games in the regular season. This is only the second post-season appearance for the Colorado Rockies, who were added to the National League Western Division in 1993. With a World Series appearance on the horizon, the Rockies are being noticed for the first time.

In a USA Today cover story last year, the Rockies were headlined as a “Christian team.” There’s general manager Dan O’Dowd, chairman and CEO Charlie Monfort, President Keli McGregor, and manager Clint Hurdle – all Christians. All-Star first baseman Todd Helton, pitcher Jason Jennings, outfielder Matt Holliday, and infielder Jamey Carroll are among the Christian believers. These are some very nice guys. The USA Today article started out well:

No copies of Playboy or Penthouse are in the clubhouse of baseball’s Colorado Rockies. There’s not even a Maxim. The only reading materials are daily newspapers, sports and car magazines and the Bible.

This should be a great thing, right? Unfortunately, the article was obviously biased and sentences such as the following one revealed the author’s intent to undermine and ridicule the faith of the Rockies:

Is it possible that some Rockies are playing the role of good Christians just to stay in the team’s good graces? Yes, former Rockies say.

And this quote from Mark Sweeney, who previously played for the Rockies and now is with the San Francisco Giants:

“Look, I pray every day,” Sweeney says. “I have faith. It’s always been part of my life. But I don’t want something forced on me. Do they really have to check to see whether I have a Playboy in my locker?”

Worse yet, as a result of the USA Today story, an article was written in response by a Rocky Mountain News writer, in which several key Colorado Rockies Christians attempted to downplay the role of their faith in the clubhouse.

“I get Maxim (a men’s magazine) sent to me in the mail in the clubhouse,” first baseman Todd Helton said.

Okay, and why should Helton feel the need to minimize his faith? Another player was quoted in the Rocky Mountain news story as saying “I don’t think being part of this team has anything to do with faith or belief.”

Other good things were actually said in this response article, but the point is that it’s too bad that some Christian sports stars had a typical reaction to anti-Christian sentiment: Whoa, wait, I’m not a fanatic! Let me explain myself! Sheesh, just stick to your guns, folks! As for Helton, here’s the best quote from him regarding the USA Today story:

I have strong beliefs, but I don’t judge others and I never will. My opinion is we look for good character guys, not Christian guys. A good teammate doesn’t have to have the same beliefs you have. A good teammate is a good person who plays to win.

Well, this is all old news – those stories were printed a year ago. But certainly there are lessons to be learned there. As the Rockies continue to make their mark and race to a very possible presence in the World Series, I’m hoping for a strong showing of their faith with no apologies. Here’s the scoop today:

Todd Helton’s insight on the Rockies’ familiarity with the Diamondbacks:

Heck, with half the guys, we’re out there talking about hunting. We know where one another are going after the season. We play so much. That’s a good group of guys that wants to win just as badly as we do. It’s going to be a good challenge for us.

There is good Christian character, folks – just loving one another.

Colorado Rockies infielder Jamey Carroll shares his mindset of living in the moment, with nothing to lose, in this interview with Sharing the Victory:

David Collins, our first base coach, told us that when he’d go to the plate he’d say, “God loves me. My family loves me. And it’s just an at bat.” So, it helps to have the mindset of just living in the moment.

And what do you think of a baseball franchise that literally cares for the widow? After Rockies minor league coach Mike Coolbaugh died this summer as a result of getting hit by a line drive, the Colorado Rockies voted to grant his widow, pregnant and raising two young sons, a full share of the team’s playoff winnings. ESPN reported on Hurdle’s reaction:

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said the gesture spoke volumes about the quality of the character in their locker room. “I was passed on the information that they voted Amanda Coolbaugh a share, a full share, which I found speaks to their awareness, speaks to their passion, speaks to every good thing about them,” Hurdle said.

As Lee Warren notes in his blog, this is what James 1:27 is all about:

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27, ESV

As the Rockies prepare for their first NL Championship Series, I’ll submit that baseball and the Bible can be a good combination, and nice guys don’t finish last.

hat-tip to My Christian Sports and Music Blog

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Hey Batta Batta Swing!

There is a most delightful children’s book on baseball that you should know about. It’s called Hey Batta Batta Swing, by Sally Cook and James Charlton, and delivers a humorous look at the history of baseball – “The Wild Old Days of Baseball,” as the subtitle notes. And the splendid illustrating by Ross MacDonald makes this not only a children’s book but a terrific coffee table book as well.

Hey Batta Batta Swing!

Just released earlier this year, this fabulously funny book introduces young readers to what baseball looked like in earlier times. Baseball has always been America’s favorite pasttime, even in the beginning. But the beginning looked very different than what we see on the diamond today.

Over a hundred years ago, you could get a runner out by nailing him with the ball! Oh, pain! Understandably, that practice only lasted a few years. And in 1882, the baseball owners decided that players must wear colored jerseys to show the position they played, not the team they played for – of course, confusion ensued! And you’d think they were all headed to church not the ballfield with the white tie all players were required to wear.

Even the players themselves were often baffled by the colors. A sportswriter was watching one game where a first baseman was the runner, so both the runner and the infielder right next to him were dressed exactly alike. The pitcher, Old Hoss Radbourn, now in the Hall of Fame, threw over to first base to try and pick the runner off. But he threw to the wrong player, not to his teammate. Old Hoss was disgusted with the error, which he blamed on the uniforms.

Can you imagine playing baseball with no glove? That was hand-smacking reality in the 1880s as fielders played bare-handed. By the 1890s players were at least wearing thin leather mitts that may as well have been winter gloves. Thanks to Harry Decker, the major league catcher who first patented a padded catcher’s mitt, the idea of a protective baseball glove caught on, and by the early twentieth century there emerged a glove that looks a bit like what you see players wear today.

Oh, there’s too much fun trivia in this book to mention it all here! But I will throw in a few more gems. The Cleveland team went through names like you’d go through popcorn at a game. They were the Spiders, the Blues, and the Naps before they became the Cleveland Indians. The Dodgers have a bit of name history as well. Starting out in Brooklyn, New York, they were called the Trolley Dodgers, since fans had to dodge the trolleys on the busy Brooklyn streets to get to the games. Then the team became the Bridegrooms due to the unusual number of players who got married over the winter. The team ended up moving from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, where they have been since 1958 – the Los Angeles Dodgers.

A neat feature of Hey Batta Batta Swing is the frequent use of baseball slang, which is highlighted in the margin of nearly every page with a simple definition. For example, a can of corn is an easy fly ball, patrolled the pasture is played in the outfield, a rainbow is a sweeping curveball, hoses are pitcher’s arms, and a tater is a home run.

I loved the famous trades mentioned in this book. The most famous sale in baseball history was the 1919 deal that saw the New York Yankees pay Boston $125,000 for Babe Ruth. But there were some quite amusing trades that didn’t involve money:

Chattanooga shortstop Johnny Jones was traded to Charlotte for turkeys so that the Chattanooga team could have a Thanksgiving dinner. Minor league pitcher Joe Martina was traded for a sack of oysters, and worst of all, Jack Fenton was traded to San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League for a bag of prunes.

You can be sure baseball will undergo more changes in the coming years, and perhaps future generations will chuckle at some of today’s practices. At any rate, this book is an appealing baseball tale for both young and old – two thumbs up and five stars, it’s an ace!

If you’re a baseball fan and would like a FREE BASEBALL with your favorite major league team’s name and logo embroidered on it, here’s your chance! In conjunction with TeamMASCOT.com, we’re offering to any blogging baseball fan out there a free ball for a baseball-related post on your favorite team! In your post, be sure to include a link to the baseball you want, which is found here. And of course, leave a comment here so we know about your post. We’ll follow up with an exchange of emails to figure out where to send the ball, no cost and free shipping. Here’s to America’s Game!

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