SCOTTSDALE – The Kid made his young life’s mound debut yesterday, on a drizzly Arizona afternoon, mopping up the final inning of a lopsided elementary league tilt.
After peppering the backstop with several warmup heaves, he walked the leadoff man on four straight, all well outside.
The second hitter eyed five tosses to earn his base, on balls.
Up next was a diminutive batsman in an exaggerated crouch. The Kid bore down to deliver an ankle high strike, inducing a nubber by the plate. His catcher corraled the ball – and fired into right field for a three base, two run error.
Undaunted, the moundsman, poised beyond his eleven years, discovered a welcome economy, tossing strike after strike. He fielded a grounder back to the box for the first out, after looking back the runner on third. Alternating his signature slowball with an even pokier variant, he froze the next hitter, looking. Strike three!
A trio of metallic waves, shattering only raindrops, concluded the game – like the harmless tinkle of cooking grease on aluminum foil.
The line on The Kid:
1 IP 0 H 2BB 2K 2R …in 12 minutes
In an exclusive post game interview with Diamondhacks, The Kid said "it was fun out there" and explained his quick-pitch delivery this way:
"We didnt use signs and I didn’t want to show off by breathing and walking around a lot."
You’ve been called a Bonds ‘apologist’ on more than one occasion, here on MLBlogs.
First, are you a Bonds apologist? Yikes! I dont think so. A lot of his behavior, in and out of baseball, is pretty inexcusable.
So why do you defend him? I feel like I’m defending principles more than I’m really defending him. I certainly dont want to excuse, let alone encourage, his behavior.
… as did hundreds of other MLBers , beginning in the 1980′s. Barry started in late 1998.
DId he lie to a grand jury and is that a big deal? Probably, and yes it’s legally significant. But it’s also worth remembering that hundreds of likley PED users were never brought before a grand jury to testify. Again, the alleged perjury shouldn’t be excused. But neither should steroid usage of his peers be swept under the rug.
Why is that, exactly? Why so few investigations? I dont know. Maybe the commissioner’s office will shed some light on that. The office specifically created(1920) in response to the Black Sox scandal , to exclusively "ensure the integrity of the game". As it is, the press and the FBI have conducted the important investigations to date – not Major League Baseball. It’s possible some players have been investigated that I’m unaware of – but why half a dozen guys are on the hot seat now and hundreds more are not, or were not, is worth an investigation in itself.
Was it race that primarily drove Bonds to be investigated? No. Bonds’ actions, accomplishments and appearances are plenty ‘loud’ enough to draw investigative scrutiny. And by appearances, I’m referring to the physique, the big head and such…not race.
Is race what drives the public’s loathing of Bonds? A more complex question, but no, I dont see race as the primary driver. OTOH, race is consistently a subtle ingredient in the way human beings perceive and judge one another. I’m convinced it adds fuel to the existing animosity out there. Barry’s a lightning rod for fans’ wrath for many reasons:
A) His singular, ongoing career accomplishment – most likley aided by PEDs – deeply injects that cancer into both the hallowed lore of the game and fierce debates regarding the greatest players. McGwire was similar in this regard, but his inactivity – and Sosa’s – mitigate public outrage somewhat. Other, still active, predecessors altered the playing field with PEDs well before Bonds. But none in such a forceful, historically compelling way. Bonds didnt necessarily cheat more than many others – but by accomplishing more, he receives more scrutiny.
C) His race further segregates Bonds from baseball’s increasingly non-black fan base.
Yeah, but just because he’s black doesnt mean people hate him for that. I didn’t say that! For ages, clinical studies have confirmed that people, often quite innocently BTW, subjectively ascribe greater virtue to others who look similar to themselves, and ascribe less virtue to others who look altogether different. So, even if you remove malicious racism for argument’s sake, there’s still subtle implications to this kind of ‘effective’ segregation.
As opposed to legal segregation?
Right. Maybe segregation isn’t the best word. But go to Chase Park sometime. Most nights, it seems there’s almost as many black vendors as fans.
Is this stuff too subtle, too ‘innocent’ to be considered racism? Perhaps, perhaps not. At any rate, I dont think what I’ve touched on here is particularly conscious.
Some commenters think it’s too subtle to even be worth mixing into the Bonds discussion at all? It was already, inevitably, in the mix. Some argue that "race is not a factor" because Bonds is a jerk, or rich, or because he didnt suffer as much as Hank Aaron or Jackie Robinson. I’m fine with the argument that race isn’t paramount here. What I object to are blithe, "color-blind" assertions that race is not a factor at all.
So it’s not comparable to what Jackie Robinson or Hank Aaron endured? Bonds hinted that he gets racist hate mail every day. I wouldn’t be surprised if he does – nor would I be shocked if he was exaggerating. I do know that baseball’s employed extra security in response to alleged threats on Barry’s life. Is the overall climate as racially contentious as in 1947? Overall? No. Definitely not overall. Just saying so insults Robinson’s memory. OTOH, what’s more racist than a death threat?
I feel similarly about Aaron. Beyond the hate letters, Aaron’s place in history was debated unusually harshly at the time. Many ratings of the era placed him outside the Top Ten All Time Players. Now, you rarely see him below 5 or 6. Some of that discrepancy probably stemmed from racism.
Should Barry Bonds be banned from baseball?
If it’s proven, through drug tests or compelling circumstantial evidence, that Bonds violated existing baseball law warranting suspension/banishment( a la Pete Rose), then definitely, Yes.
I dont think he should be banned from baseball however, for illegally using performance enhancers that baseball didn’t even bother to practically ban from it’s own game, and therefore effectively condoned. Ring him up on federal drug charges and/or perjury, but don’t pretend he singularly dishonored or jeopardized the pristine fabric of baseball by breaking cardinal codes of the game that didn’t exist – or at least weren’t enforced in a meaningful way.
More important than whether he’s banned or not, is that users and non-users are identified, separated, and treated equitably within each group.
Sadly, baseball’s no longer in a position to come close to accomplishing that. They’ve squandered several opportunities to do so in favor of protecting short term financial interests.
Instead, a lineup of low hanging, "rotten" fruit who tainted the game will likely be publicly assembled for judgement. After this largely symbolic purge, one can almost hear Bud Selig solemnly encouraging fans to "move on" from this dark painful time, towards a new and brighter beginning, in, as he still says with a straight face, the best interests of baseball.
PHOENIX – As some characterize the demotion of Russ Ortiz to the bullpen as a "no-brainer", the move is also a refreshingly positive statement by Bob Melvin, in what has otherwise been a dismal managerial tenure.
Based on BOMELs past performance, even this stands out as quite a bold move. While nobody, except perhaps Ortiz, can passionately defend him retaining a starting position, it’s also true that there’s no obvious solution waiting to replace his rotation spot. And the RHP veteran does command more than 1/8th of the entire team payroll. That certainly had to have crossed Melvin’s mind, even though salary wouldn’t likely be acknowledged by the club as a factor in this type of personnel move.
Some are speculating on the longer term effect this will have on Ortiz. Will he recapture his past level of performance, or fade away quietly? I cant see into Russ’s future, but when I do see Ortiz in the dugout, on off days, he is invariably smiling, laughing and chatting away with the likes of Brandon Webb and others. Was it a bit too much smiling, laughing and chatting, in Bob Melvin’s eyes, for someone whose pitching has tailed so far south?
A more interesting question is: What effect will this move have on the team?
What effect, if any, will it have on well paid veteran starters like Orlando Hernandez and Miguel Batista? My impression of both is that they’re largely self-motivated, competitive men. To the extent that’s true, Ortiz’ demotion probably wont have much impact on them, even thought their skillsets and age most closely resemble Ortiz’.
What about an overpaid, tenured journeyman like Shawn Green, who has methodically "played through" more slumps than any fan ought to have to witness, and whose energy level in the field and the basepaths has been often maligned? Might he think "Me Next", if his performance further deteriorates?
What about all the young kids fighting for playing time on a team consisting of players with similar talents?
Melvin’s move is a move away from staid, conventional "stay the course" wisdom and towards a thriving meritocracy that manages risk instead of avoiding it; where players begin to believe that their actual day to day contributions will be fairly balanced against, and possibly even trump, a teammate’s bigger "reputation".
For anyone who roots for the Diamondbacks, this is an overdue, and even exciting, change.
They won again today, 3-2.
Two years removed from the departure of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, the Diamondhacks PR squad has resorted to desperately showcasing the exploits of their fading marquee player, Luis Gonzalez, to the hilt. This was evident at tonight’s pregame ceremony, contrived to honor Gonzo’s admittance into a brand new, allegedly elite, statistical ‘club’.
The Diamondhacks recognize that since Gonzalez will never reach any traditionally revered career milestones, like 3000 hits or 500 homers, it behooved them to package his career statistical acheivements in such a way as to place Luis in the apparent company of a select group of first-rung Hall of Famers.
Now, 500 doubles is impressive – only 44 players in history have that many. A few years back when Mark Grace collected his 500th double, there was a fitting scoreboard recognition and a nice, prolonged ovation. I’m all for that.
But tonight, as the melodramatic theme from The Natural screeched through the tinny sound system, the Chase Ho Park PA announcer intoned the names of the 500 Doubles/300 Homers ‘fraternity’: Ruth, Gehrig, Mays, Aaron and so on. All but Parker, Dawson, E Martinez and Palmiero are in the HOF and it’s unlikely that any of the twenty ‘members’ knew such a club even existed before tonight. Luis received a cool keepsake commemorating his historic ‘brethren’. His entire family was announced and trudged out onto the field. All the Diamondbacks lined up near home plate and individually – and I must say, enthusiastically -congratulated him. The mostly undiscerning crowd (they are paying to watch the Diamondhacks, after all) seemed thoroughly caught up in this ponderously orchestrated Hall of Fame-ish moment.
Pardon me, but I think that extra egg roll may be backing up on me a bit.
First, Gonzo isn’t in the same league as most of the guys on this list in any meaningful, statistically comprehensive way. The only thing he genuinely has in common with most of them is that he hit 500 doubles. He’s behind the HOFers in most other offensive and defensive categories, usually way behind.
Second, there’s a list a mile long of superior players who didnt quite make this recently contrived list: Ricky Henderson, with 297 HRs and Al Kaline with 498 2Bs, both just missed The Club. From Speaker and Wagner to Rose and Gwynn, from Foxx and Reggie to Clemente and Joe Morgan, the 500/300 club excludes many, if not most, of the game’s greatest players.
Third, there are clearly lesser players who almost hit this supposedly remarkable quinella. Paul ONeil(451/281), Gary Gaetti(443/360), Harold Baines(488/384), Tim Wallach(432/260) and Chili Davis (424/350) are just a few.
The 500/300 ‘combo club’ – and tonight’s ceremony – are the inventions of Diamondbacks’ public relations hacks, intent on pumping up Gonzo’s career into something it’s not. These particular cutoffs, tailored specifically for Gonzalez’ benefit, are insufficient, misguided thresholds upon which to seriously assess HOF worthiness or even baseball greatness.
Blogging a live MLB game in real time was considerably more challenging than I had assumed.
It was also pretty fun.
My inspiration was furnished by a recent "dueling" live game blog between Red Sox Chick and Rays From Across the Pond . After skimming their logs, I set out to record a pithier, livelier game account (whether I suceeded or not in other’s eyes, Diamondhacks stands before the MLBlogosphere today a humbled ‘Hack with newfound respect for my predecessor’s efforts.)
My biggest surprise was how quickly the game speeds along when blogging, as opposed to just watching on TV. My particular contest was objectively fast (less than two hours in the eighth inning), but I was still amazed at how pressed for time I was to make updates in a sport often derided for it’s lackluster pace. Not just individual pitches, but even the outs at times seemed to blur into one other before a single update could be published. Only when the game decelerated in the ninth inning (due to pitching changes) was I better able to keep up with, and capture, the rhythm of the game.
When you live blog solo, so much more than typing is required. One must watch and analyze the game, compose thoughts and then type/save your posts. Sounds simple, but I found myself unable to observe the game details as intently as I normally do. I was often typing away on the keyboard, listening to the TV play by play, and stealing only occasional glances at the tube.
Those glorious half inning "breaks" that Western civilization uses to visit the bathroom or the kitchen, I needed to catchup on my last update and prepare for the next inning. The breaks are, what, 3 minutes? When you’re blogging, they feel like 45 seconds.
It took 15-20 seconds for each saved post to properly publish. That may not sound long, but 40 updates x 15s = 10 mins that I could have used more productively elsewhere. It drove me Battey.
I am a slave to play by play. I was committed to going heavy on commentary and light on play by play but once the game started I chickened out. It felt like I somehow wasnt doing my job if every out wasnt recorded. Much of the commentary that was in my account was actually prewritten – player notes, the introduction, a few jokes. But most of my prewritten jewels didnt even get into the final blog – I either didnt have time to cut and paste them in, or they werent applicable to the game at hand (ie notes on Conor Jackson, who didnt play).
I tried to give my account an interactive feel by incorporating – and responding to – viewer comments which I pasted into the Main Post. I also utilized my site’s counter tool, to ascertain and share the hometowns of my viewers’ IP addresses- to encourage a sense of community and potential comments.
- Pre-save an introduction, player notes and maybe a couple pictures to save time.
- Consider using an assistant, if possible, to keep up with the game’s rhythm. One person to intently watch the game and dictate commentary – the other person actually types and publishes the updates.
- Advertise your live blog to drum up interest. It’s clearly more fun when several others are online with you; moreso if they comment in real time.
Please feel free to add to the postmortem in the Comments section, either game blogging generally or my particular version of it. Thanks.
Never before in Diamondbacks history has an opposing starting pitcher shared a last name with the ballpark in which he performed – while simultaneously rhyming middle names with the same venue.
This tussle decided, at least for one day, last place in the NL West.
Diamondhacks salutes Charlie Warlie of Glendale AZ, who penned this brief Letter To the Editor in today’s Arizona Republic:
Due to the falling attendance at Chase Field and the fact that Chase Bank is owned by JPMorgan Chase and Co.,the facility should have really been named the Morg!
Last night, the Diamondbacks shattered their 2006 single game attendance mark, set back on Opening Day.
Unfortunately, they were in Dodger Stadium at the time – where there may have been more beach balls than actual Diamondbacks fans.
The "quality start" from Orlando Hernandez was hardly that, considering the venue and HP umpire Angel Hernandez’ notoriously expansive strike zone. Are those guys hermanos, or what?
Yielding 3 runs in 6 IP isnt unacceptably flammable, but it’s fiery enough to lose lots of night games in LA. "Reliever" Greg Aquino poured kerosene on El Duque’s embers. At least he and Chris Snyder intelligently relied on the remnants of Aquino’s fastball sparingly, as the Dodgers hammered most of them. Aquino looked exhausted, perhaps from his seven innings of work this year.
Personally, I prefer liberal strike zones – maybe not quite as large as Hernandez’ – but large enough where a pitcher can work an inch off one side of the plate or get a strike around the ribcage. Did anyone catch Thursday’s SF/AZ "slugfest" enabled by HP umpire Rob Drake? Yeah, the game with 16 runs and 15 walks. Drake’s strike zone was the size of a dog dish.
If you haven’t found it yet, today’s game account in The Arizona Republic is relegated to page 10 of the sports section, behind not just Phoenix Suns’ pieces, but all the other ball scores, hockey and even an NFL piece.
Even the obligatory ******* ad is on page 9.
This unusual story from the Kansas City Star, about Zack Greinke’s comeback from an unnamed mental illness, had us initially reaching for a tissue, however we became confused upon a second and third reading and welcome alternate perspectives on Greinke’s "condition".
Making fun of people is a staple at DiamondHacks, but we have no taste for trivializing, let alone mocking, genuine mental illness. Greinke’s clearly troubled and anxious, and doesnt feel comfortable in social settings. Here’s the example the 22 year old volunteered to illustrate that his emotional problems were "long-standing". (Italics are mine).
Growing up, there were signs. As about an 8-year-old tennis player, with a 50-0 record, he finally got beat. It was the only tournament match he lost, and he said it’s the last one he played.
“I lost on purpose,” he says. “I had problems; I’d get real nervous before the games. The last time, I got so nervous and I was like, ‘Dad, I can’t play anymore.’ I was going crazy thinking I was gonna lose. I got so nervous I ended up hitting every ball straight into the net. The second set, I was loose and I beat the guy like 6-2. I ended up quitting in the last one. I hit them into the net again.”
Is it fair to speculate generally about the parent(s) of any eight year old with a 50-0 tennis record? Or about any relatively normal child’s reaction to such "coaching"? Losing a set..winning a set..losing another set. I’m just asking, does this boy’s behavior indicate irrational mental illness, or is it an understandable emotional response to his circumstances?
“I really like when the sun is setting,” he says. “I was here in Arizona, and it was one of the prettiest days out and the sun was setting, and I was like, ‘I don’t care; I don’t even want to look at it right now. It doesn’t do anything for me.’ That was one moment where I was like: What’s wrong with me?”
Mopey. Depressed. What’s so unusual about not appreciating the splendor of a gorgeous sunset from time to time? Not much, I’d say – yet this seemingly humdrum ennui leads to the rather dramatic self criticism, "What’s wrong with me?"
My layman’s take is that Zack is a reasonably normal, if somewhat introspective, guy who has internalized massive expectations placed upon him by others his whole life. It sounds as if, with the help of a sports psychologist, he’s making strides to remedy that.
Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like someone else in that family maybe oughta visit a pyschologist’s office and that the farther Greinke get’s away from his/her influence, he’ll be just fine.
The DiamondHacks, like most everyone else, have installed an expensive digital "ribbon" ad board which wraps around the second deck at Chase Ho Park. It is so long that it easily accomodated thirteen identical advertisements for Sexton Pest Control simultaneously, with room for a fourteenth Sexton Pest Control ad when absolutely necessary.
Another application that we were subjected to at a recent game were the board’s partial, I guess you call ‘em ‘portraits’, of staff ace, Brandon Webb.
In the first inning, the 6′ 2" Webb looked something like this:
In the third inning, the tiny crowd was treated to this image of the affable Kentucky native:
DiamondHacks heartily applauds this overdue splash of cubism at the ballpark, a venue otherwise devoid of much artistry.