Tag Archives: ozzie guillen

The BCS (Bogus Championship Series) Sham, Tebow the Heretic wins Again, and Moolah over Miami…

It is amazing to see how the Bowl Championship series works. I think we should rename it the Bogus Championship Series.  I am old fashioned it just seems to me that we have an SEC West rematch as the national title game. Sorry, LSU won that Alabama should not be considered for the National Championship. Yes they are a solid team, one of the best in the country but it would have been far more “national championshippy” to have two teams out of the same division playing for the “national championship” if that is what it pretends to be. Even in sports that have “wild card” berths such as Major League Baseball and the NFL never can a wild card team play for the World Series or Super Bowl against a team from its own division. Same goes for the NHL and the NBA. The fact is that we should have LSU playing Oklahoma State for the Title or another team that actually won its Conference Championship.

The fact is that in most sports in fact all but the BCS there are times that an excellent team doesn’t get to play for the championship simply because someone in their conference, division or league had a better record.  If an entity wants to call its title a “national” title it should include two teams that represent different conferences.  What a sham, the real national title game will not be played just to replay the SEC West championship. When you look at the other BCS games it is clear that the BCS process has failed again. Since we are never going to get a playoff system in Division One NCAA College Football or a tournament like in NCAA Basketball we would be just as well off to go back to the old bowl system and let everyone argue about what team is number one.  We end up doing that now anyway most of the time so let’s end the BCS farce.  Actually you could probably have a real playoff system but there is far too much money in the current system for anyone, the NCAA, the Universities and the Bowl Game sponsors themselves to want to change it no matter how bad of system it is.

From real failures we go to the man that so many want to fail, Denver Broncos Quarterback Tim Tebow.  Now I am not a Tebow fan or promoter by far and certainly am not a Broncos fan unless they are playing the Cowboys or Steelers. However, despite the fact that he is not the kind of quarterback that has dominated the sport for decades.  Since the day he was drafted he has been treated with distain by most of the sports media and former players that serve as commentators.

Now I agree that Tebow doesn’t fit the template that the NFL uses now but he leads and inspires his team to win.  The way that he does it isn’t pretty and he will never be John Elway or Steve Young.  He is to use religious parlance a “heretic.” But who says that he needs to be? What if he is the kid that defies the rules wins games and inspires his team. Isn’t that what it is really about or is it about maintaining an illusion that there is only one way to lead teams and win games?  Tebow for all of his technical limitations finds ways to win and inspires his teammates.  He rapidly becoming a successful NFL heretic. I like heretics and despite it all I hope that he continues to win just to make “experts” look foolish shut his critics up.

Finally the Miami Marlins have spent more money on one player than they did for their entire payroll.  This is actually nothing new Jeff Loria buys a team, wins a world series and discards the team the next year.  However money talks and Loria has a lot to throw around. He signed closer Heath Bell for 27 million and Jose Reyes for a cool 102 million on a six year deal that includes no “no trade” clause.  It looks like they are also serious about spending big money on Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder and possibly Tiger starting pitcher Mark Buerhle. If they keep spending money like this and the Security Exchange Commission keeps investigating this could end up more like an episode of Miami Vice rather than last years CSI Miami season which ended with the Marlins dead on the slab.   Regardless the National League East will be radically different in 2012 with Ozzie Guillen at the helm and what looks like unlimited money to spend.  I can only say I wish the same would happen for the Orioles despite the fact that our uniforms are going to be way cooler than the Marlins new duds even if we lose over 90 games again.


Padre Steve+

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Things that Go Plunk on the Diamond: Bean balls, Comebackers and Getting Run Over at Second or Home

rose fosse twoPete Rose Taking out Ray Fosse at Home during the 1970 All Star Game

For the sake of the shear sportiness and terror of it all there is nothing quite as thrilling as getting beaned by a pitcher, creamed by a comebacker or run over by an aggressive runner coming into Second or Home.  Likewise catching a bat in the face or head qualifies as somewhat sporty. This was really brought into focus this weekend when three players, the Met’s All-Star Third Baseman and former Norfolk Tides infielder David Wright, Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda and Texas Rangers Infielder Ian Kinsler took shots in the head on Saturday.  Wright was taken down by a 94 MPH fastball from Giants pitcher Matt Cain.  I am a Giants fan and the pitch certainly was not intentional but the sight was chilling as the ball hit Wrights helmet and put him on the ground.  A video on Wright’s MLB page is linked here: http://mlb.mlb.com/team/player.jsp?player_id=431151

The pitch from Cain was not intentional, just a high and tight fastball that got away from him.  However the hit on Wright was brutal, Wright was down for about a minute, was taken to hospital where her was diagnosed with a concussion and could be out for the season.  The blast that Kuroda took off of the bat of Arizona Diamondback Rusty Ryal had the potential to kill him.  Kuroda also suffered a concussion but never lost consciousness.  A video of the play, which was ruled a Ground Rule double as the ball went off of Kuroda’s head into the dugout is here:  http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090815&content_id=6445324&vkey=news_la&fext=.jsp&c_id=la

Kinsler took a pitch to the helmet from Fernando Cabrera following a hit on his shoulder.  Kinsler remained in the game.

Taking a shot or getting plunked is no fun.  Playing in a sandlot game in 3rd grade I took a line drive comebacker to the face.  The ball slammed by left check just below my eye and put me down on the ground.  I have taken a number of pitches to my body, never any to the head.  When I played I saw getting hit by a pitch as a way to raise my On Base Percentage before I even knew what that was.  Nonetheless getting balls thrown at you either intentionally or unintentionally does make you a bit nervous.  If you have read my blog I admit that I was never much of a hitter.  However I have never admitted until now that I didn’t try very hard to get out of the way of inside pitches.  I may not been much of a hitter but I was pretty good at going on base either due to walking, getting hit or running out a play at first when a infielder bobbled a ball and couldn’t make a play.  Getting hit was the easiest albeit the most painful way to get on base.  I wish I had kept stats and charted my at bats when I was a kid playing organized Little League ball.  I was probably hit by pitches more than anyone on the team. The other scary or sporty things that I found were taking a bat to the head, which happened to me twice and getting run over by someone bigger than you at Second or Home plate which happened to me in baseball and softball.

The thing that is the terrible thing about what happens when one takes a big hit is that the player is often not the same following the incident.  Of particular note what happened to Ray Fosse of the Indians when ran over by Pete Rose in the 1970 All-Star game.  Rose plowed over Fosse and has been accused by some of ruining Fosse’s career.  The impact is one of the most memorable in All Star Game history, I remember watching the game as my dad cheered Rose, one of his favorite players of all time around third and into Fosse on that final play of that memorable All Star Game.  I can feel for Fosse as when I was playing softball in college I was run over by an opposing player at home plate.  The impact hurled me back about 6 feet as I was jumping to catch the throw from the outfield which was over my head.  I ended up falling on my right hand jamming the arm and breaking a small bone in the wrist ending my season, which patently was the best season I had hitting in either baseball or softball hitting over .300 with 2 triples and 6 doubles.  A friend of ours took a picture of the impact which was amazing, as it captured the moment when the opposing player put his shoulder into me with me in the air and ball almost in my glove.  Unfortunately I lost my copy of it years ago and the friend has since passed away.  I have also been bowled over at Second as opposing players attempted to break up double plays.  On that I have given as well as have taken, I have never gone in easy to second if I thought the play might be close.

Another situation was when Tony Conigliaro of the Red Sox was hit on the cheek by a pitch from Angles pitcher Jack Hamilton at Fenway Park on August 18th 1967.  He suffered a linear fracture of the left cheekbone and a dislocated jaw with severe damage to his left retina.  He made a comeback the following year but was not the same.  He played with the California Angels in 1971 in 74 games and 21 games with the Red Sox in 1975.

If  player is beaned by one team, or there are several pitches that either hit batters or come close the opposing team might retaliate by going after the other teams better hitters.  There is now a pretty good debate going on about this and if things are getting out of control.  After having a lot of his players hit by pitches White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen warned opponents that if they hit more of his players that he would have his pitchers retaliate saying  “If I see somebody hitting my players and I know it’s on purpose, two guys are going down.  I don’t care if I get suspended, I don’t care.”  Some were taken aback, but I can understand a manager protecting his players and even rallying them with such words.

Occasionally a catcher will get caught by a bat when a hitter swings.  I got caught by one of these in baseball and one in softball. Thankfully both were glancing blows as at that time catchers only had face masks and not protective headgear.  I was crowding the batter in both instances and was caught on the wrap around after the batter swung and missed at a pitch.  A clean hit might have actually knocked some sense into me.  Thankfully the Deity Herself was looking out for me and probably used all of these events to further warp my brain.   One day, schedule, Judy and the Deity permitting I will get back into an old guys baseball or softball league.  God help us all.



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Perfection is a Team Effort: A Decision, a Catch and a Perfect Game

mark buehrle
Mark Buehrle Celebrates his Perfect Game

See the Video of Larry Dewayne Wise’s Catch here:


Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle pitched the 18th Perfect Game in the history of Major League baseball on Thursday night at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field aka the New Comisky Park, on the Second City’s Southside.  This was the second no-hitter of the season and almost the second perfect game.

Perfect games are those rare instances in baseball where any true follower of the game, no matter how partisan of fan e or she may be applauds.  Since there have only been 18 in a century or half or so of play, these are occasions to really appreciate not only the feat of the pitcher in throwing the perfect game, but also the achievement of the team behind him and the manager in the dugout.  A perfect game is one of those rare intersections in life where the stars somehow align and a miracle occurs.  Thus they are to be appreciated, more so than about any other event in any sport.  This is because of the rare and nearly impossible set of circumstance that has to happen for a perfect game to occur.  First the pitcher has to be completely in the zone and in control of the game, no hits, no walks, and no hit batters.  Second the defense has to be perfect, no bobbled balls, and no throwing or fielding errors.  Third, the opposing team cannot get a break, no grounders with eyes, no bloop singles, no bunts that turn into hits and no close calls at first that might go their way.  Lastly the manager has to make the right moves at the right times to ensure the victory.  Thus the perfect game may be credited to the pitcher, but it is a team effort.  This is something that San Francisco Giants pitcher Jonathan Sanchez pitched a no hitter which should have been a perfect game until Giants Third Baseman Juan Uribe booted a ground ball in the 8th inning allowing a runner on base.  Likewise had Giants Center Fielder saved the no-hitter and shutout with one out in the 9th with a leaping catch at the wall.  Buehrle himself had found this out in his no-hitter when he gave up a walk to Sammy Sosa.

Thursday night Mark Buehrle, who pitched a no-hitter in 2007 pitched a great game and was in total control.  Yet he won the game by throwing balls that were put in play and that his defense made the put-outs.  Buehrle threw six strike outs which meant the players behind him made 21 put outs.  In the field a number of good plays were made and one line drive down the third base line by Pat Burrell landed just inches foul in the 8th.

Thus with the White Sox up 5-0 in the 9th manager Ozzie Guillen moved Scott Posednik from Center to Left and replaced him with Wise.  Wise is one of the players whose career batting average hovers near the Mendoza line (.214) (see my post at https://padresteve.wordpress.com/2009/07/18/crossing-the-mendoza-line-it%E2%80%99s-not-all-about-the-lifetime-batting-average/ ) who has done a commendable job for the Sox this season following the injury and recovery of Carlos Quentin went into the game for the purpose of shoring up the defense.  The Sox were ahead by a comfortable margin, but Guillen knew that history was being made and elected to put Wise in.  With one out in the top of the 9th Rays outfielder Gabe Kapler hit a deep drive to Left-center which was actually over the wall.  Wise raced from center and not having time to set up at the wall to leap for the catch, simply went full bore into the wall, making the grab of the ball on the run about  18 inches above the wall.  As he came down the ball came out of his glove and in the air on the way to crashing to the ground Wise caught the ball a second time, this time with his bare hand to secure the out.  It was simply magic, miraculous and whatever word you can say for “Wow.”  The look and smile on Buehrle’s face said it all; he knew what Wise had done.  When I saw the catch I was reminded of the movie the perfect game, where outfielder Mickey Hart played by Greer Barnes makes a leaping catch to rob a opposing player of a home run and preserve Billy Chapel’s (Kevin Costner) perfect game.

Perfect games are rare and while the pitcher’s name is the one that goes into the record book, the game is a team effort.  The life lesson for me is that no matter how well I do as an individual that there is always a team out there to help me along.  This has never been as apparent to me as since I returned from Iraq.   I guess I appreciate the perfect game even more now that I did before I went.  These things are a team effort and even if I am perfect for some part of my life, patently extremely unlikely, it is because others, who function as my team mates, manager and coaches do the right things to ensure that nothing gets by them and that they make the right moves to preserve any good work that I do.

Peace,  Steve+

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