Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Letter to the Editor

I wanted to share with everyone a letter to the sports editor that was printed in this morning's Salt Lake Tribune. I do not know the letter's author but it is nice to see another fan that is as passionate about the Salt Lake Bees and the players that have played here as me.

So the Colorado Rockies think they can win new fans from Utah by showing games on FSN Utah. Not this baseball fan. I'm a lifelong Chicago White Sox fan, and I cheer on the Arizona Diamondbacks, since I spent 11 years in Arizona. But what team do I look for in the sports section every day without fail? The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Utah has the privilege of being home to the AAA-Pacific Coast League team of the Angels, the Salt Lake Bees, and of the Pioneer League Orem Owlz. What better way to get behind a major league team than to watch the players as they are making their way up to The Show?

I comb the box scores to see how Chone Figgins, Mike Napoli, Jeff Mathis, Howie Kendrick, Casey Kotchman, former Buzz Torii Hunter and others did the night before. Who pitched? Joe Saunders? John Lackey? Did Francisco Rodriguez get another league-leading save? I remember his pitching during the Stingers' 2002 playoff run, after which he went to the Angels and helped them win the World Series.

Major League Baseball, and first-place teams to follow, are right at our fingertips. Go watch a Bees game at Franklin Covey Field in person. Check out Get involved in your local team first, and see where that leads you. Probably not to the Rockies, even if they are on TV.

LISA BROTHMAN, Cottonwood Heights

Unlike Lisa, I enjoy watching the Colorado Rockies on the local FSN network. But Lisa does bring up an interesting question, why can't FSN Utah broadcast the Angels? The answer is Major League Baseball's complicated and convoluted territorial rights and black out policies. That topic will be a subject of a future blog entry.

Lisa is not alone in her dedication and passion for the Salt Lake Bees. Utah is fortunate to have two teams affiliated with the Los Angeles Angels, one of the best organizations in Major League Baseball.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Stop Crying Cardinals Fans

It is inter-league time and the Royals and Cardinals are playing the second installment of the 2008 I-70 Series. Each year when Kansas City and St. Louis hook up many Cardinals fans and announcers begin what has become a yearly ritual, whining about how a blown call cost their team the 1985 World Series. The mention of umpire Don Denkinger still sends many of the Cardinals faithful into a rage. What most of these fans refuse to understand is the missed call by Denkinger didn't cost the Cardinals the World Series. In the interest of setting the story straight this entry is going to revisit Game 6 of the 1985 World Series and show the Cardinals fans they have no one to blame but their own team for not winning the title.

Game 6 was played at what was then called Royals Stadium. Pitchers Danny Cox of the Cardinals and Charlie Liebrandt were both outstanding and the score was tied at 0-0 as the game headed into the 8th inning. In the 8th inning former Salt Lake Bees manager Brian Harper hit an RBI single and the Cardinals took a 1-0 lead. The lead was still 1-0 when the Royals came to bat in the bottom of the 9th. Jorge Orta led off the 9th hitting a ground ball to Cardinals first baseman Jack Clark. Clark fielded the grounder and flipped the ball to Cardinals pitcher Todd Worrell covering first. The ball was there on time and even Royals fans will agree that Jorge Orta should have been called out. But umpire Don Denkinger missed the call and Orta was safe at first base. Even though Orta was on base because of a missed call this did not cost the Cardinals the game. The chain of events that followed provided the Cardinals with opportunities to over come the call and win the game.

Steve Balboni followed Orta and hit a routine foul pop up between home plate and first base. Jack Clark and Darrell Porter converged on the ball but for some unknown reason neither of them made the catch and the ball harmlessly hit the ground. Cardinals fans I have spoken with about Game 6 have forgotten this play. Even though a high school junior varsity team makes the catch on that foul ball 100% of the time two Major League players on a team that is three outs from winning the World Series let it drop. Can't blame that on Don Denkinger Cardinals fans. Instead of one out and a runner on first there are no outs and Balboni was still at the plate. Taking advantage of the second life Balboni singled and the Royals had runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs.

Catcher Jim Sundberg was up next and he laid down a sacrifice bunt. Worrell fielded the ball and threw to third to nail Orta. Sundberg's bunt was not a good one and Worrell made a nice play to get the lead runner. The Royals gave up an out without moving the runners and there was one out with runners still on 1st and 2nd with Hal McRae the hitter.

The Hal McRae that stepped into the batters box that night was not the same Hal McRae that was one of the American Leagues more dominating players of the 1970s and early 80s. He was in the twilight of his career and he had only hit .259 in 1985. McRae was still a hitter to be feared but he was also a double play candidate and a double play would end the game and give the Cardinals the championship. McRae never got to swing the bat because Todd Worrell uncorked a wild pitch that allowed the runners to advance to 2nd and 3rd. With runners on 2nd and 3rd Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog had Worrell intentionally walk McRae. The wild pitch was a killer for the Cardinals and it was not the fault of Don Denkinger. This is another play in Game 6 that Cardinals fans fail to remember while they are claiming they were robbed.

With the bases loaded and one out Royals manager Dick Howser sent Dane Iorg to the plate to pinch hit for Dan Quisenberry. Dane Iorg was 35 years old and only batted 130 times for the Royals in 1985 hitting a weak .223. He wasn't a hitter to be feared but in this game Iorg was better than Worrell. Iorg hit a soft line drive to right field that scored two runs and giving the Royals an unbelievable victory. The Royals had staved off elimination and forced a deciding Game 7! Game 7 was anti-climatic as the Royals steamrolled the Cardinals 11-0 for their only World Championship.

Cardinals fans are still bitter and claim they were cheated out of the 1985 World Series. But the blown call at 1st base in the 9th inning of Game 6 did not decide the game or the World Series. A foul ball that wasn't caught, a wild pitch, and a complete meltdown by the entire St. Louis Cardinals team and manager in Game 7 were key factors that caused the Cardinals to lose. St. Louis fans need to stop playing the role of victim and blame their own team for not finishing off the Royals and winning the series.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Steven Shell Makes it to "The Show"

Former Salt Lake Bees pitcher Steve Shell made his Major League debut for the Washington Nationals last Sunday. In the game Shell pitched one inning and retired the Texas Rangers in order. Tonight against his former team the Los Angeles Angels he pitched two innings, giving up no runs, two hits, while striking out one. I was able to see both games on television and it was exciting to see Shell finally make it to the big leagues.

For two seasons I watched Shell work hard as a starter and reliever for the Salt Lake Bees. But despite the hard work and Major League talent, Shell could never find a level of consistency and at the end of the 2007 season he was released by the Angels. During the off season Shell signed a minor league contract with the Washington Nationals. After posting a 2.62 ERA and a 54/14 K/BB in 58.1 innings for Washington's AAA team at Columbus Shell got the call to the Major Leagues. Steve Shell is a talented pitcher with three Major League quality pitches. If he is able to find consistency he will be a positive addition to the Nationals bullpen.

What I remember most about Shell's career in Salt Lake is that he is a great guy. Before a game that he wasn't scheduled to pitch he would always take the time to visit with fans and sign autographs. He was a good friend of Dave "Net Man" Pratt and I know Dave would be very happy and proud of Shell for making it to the Major Leagues. I am also happy for Steve Shell and I wish him nothing but good luck. I am rooting for him to have a long and productive Major League career.

This entry is also posted at

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

To Hank Steinbrenner - JUST SHUT UP!

ESPN radio hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic used to do a weekly feature on their popular Mike & Mike in the Morning program where they would give out the "Just Shut Up" award. This award was given to a sports personality who either ran their mouth too much, said something stupid, or both. In the spirit of Mike & Mike's award today's entry is directed to Yankees Co-Chairperson Harold "Hank" Steinbrenner. Hey Hank, JUST SHUT UP!

I will preface my comments by letting everyone know that I am a lifelong American League fan and I am not a Yankees hater. I like watching many of the current Yankees play and through the years I have enjoyed many games at Yankee Stadium. But there is no defense for Hank Steinbrenner's latest whining to the press. His comments directed toward the National League were out of line.

Last Sunday Yankees pitching ace Chien-Ming Wang injured his foot running the bases against the Houston Astros. The injury is serious and Wang will not be able to pitch until September. Most general managers and owners would accept what happened and move forward because injuries are a part of baseball that all clubs must deal with. But Hank Steinbrenner didn't accept the injury. Instead he unloaded to reporters. His comments as reported in the USA Today:

My only message is simple. The National League needs to join the 21st century.....They need to grow up and join the 21st century. Am I (mad) about it? Yes, I've got my pitchers running the bases, and one of them gets hurt. He's going to be out. I don't like that, and it's about time they address it. That was a rule from the 1800s."

The rule that Steinbrenner is referring too is the one that doesn't allow American League teams to use the designated hitter when an interleague game is played in a National League stadium. When an AL team plays in an NL park their players must play the complete game of baseball. All players in the lineup must play a defensive position on the field and hit and the run the bases when up to bat. Wang was injured playing the game of baseball Hank. The rule might have originated in the 1800s but 16 of 30 MLB teams and millions of fans still believe the DH needs to be removed from the game. Even though the rule has been around since the 19th century, until it is changed it still applies to all AL teams in the 21st century when they visit a NL city. Here is a suggestion for Hank Steinbrenner and the Yankees. Instead of complaining to the press Steinbrenner needs to accept that his pitcher is injured and, along with GM Brian Cashman, needs to find a way for the Yankees to overcome the injury to a key player.

Good luck to the Yankees as they fight to overtake the Red Sox in the AL East. I hope they are able to do it because I don't want another year of Red Sox nation dominating the post season. But regardless of how things turn out Hank Steinbrenner needs to "JUST SHUT UP!"

Saturday, June 14, 2008

My Dad, The Mick, and Father's Day

Happy Father's Day! Today's entry is dedicated to my dad Robert Mark. It has been two years since my father passed away and, even though the pain of his death has eased over time, I still miss him. My father and I were very different people. We disagreed on politics, religion, the economy, and almost every other subject or issue. But the biggest common bond we shared was baseball and the greatest memories I have of my father center around the game. Going to Kansas City A's and Royals games, playing catch, and watching the then dreadful Atlanta Braves on cable television are a part of my life that I will always cherish. In his day my dad was semi pro player and even at age 70 he could step in a batting cage and crush 80 mph pitches both left and right handed.

It wasn't until later in my life that I began to appreciate the stories my dad would tell me about the game. My father was a Yankees fan because when he was growing up Kansas City was one of the Yankees top farm team. Whitey Ford, Hank Bauer, Elston Howard, and Mickey Mantle were some of the Yankee greats that passed through Kansas City on their way to the Bronx. Mantle was his favorite player and my dad would talk about The Mick for hours. As I young boy I heard about Mantle's Triple Crown season, his ability to hit the ball out of sight both left and right handed, the homerun he hit that almost went out of Yankee Stadium, his blazing speed, and how Mantle would have been even greater if not for all of the injuries he suffered. I remember asking my dad once if he had watched Don Larson's perfect game in the World Series and his immediate response was to tell me there would not have been a perfect game if not for Mickey Mantle's great catch early in the game. Even though I never saw Mickey Mantle play in person and barely remember him on television I have a vivid picture in my mind of his career thanks to my dad's stories.

Last summer I took a trip to New York with my son and we went to two games at Yankee Stadium. In many ways my relationship with my son is similar to the one I had with my dad. We have very little in common but we still enjoy watching and talking about baseball. As my son and I sat at Yankee Stadium I told him the Mickey Mantle stories his grandpa had shared with me. We went to the third deck in right field and I showed him where Mantle's homerun almost left the stadium. I pointed to death-valley in left center field and recounted the catch Mantle made that saved Don Larson's perfect game in the World Series. My son, who is a young adult, listened and asked questions and I was able to pass my father's love of baseball and Mickey Mantle on to him. It was almost as if my dad was at the game with us and it was a very special time for me.

This will be the second Father's Day I will not be able to share with my father. But my dad left me with a love for the greatest of all sports and for that I will always be blessed. Happy Father's to all.

Mickey Mantle saves Don Larson's perfect game

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Response from an Oakland A's Fan

In yesterday's entry I took issue with the Baseball Playoffs Now blog's calculations that predicted the Oakland A's would win the AL West. I wrote the Angels were the superior team in the AL West and would win the division. In response to that entry I received an email from Oakland A's fan Justin Kase who believes Baseball Playoffs Now blogger Dan Jarrett got it right when he predicted the Oakland A's over the Angels. Even though I disagree with Justin, his comments were intelligent and respectful and I want to share them with the readers of this blog.

"I disagree [that the Angels will win the AL West]. I mean, yes, I'm an A's fan, but I am also a fair and analytical baseball guy. If you look at the Run Differential, the Halo's are a mediocre at best team. They have done fairly well in the early part of the season but this can be attributed more to, for lack of a better word, luck. I do not think there will be another low run differential team like the Diamondbacks this year. While many others say the Halo's are ripe for a slump, I just think that they are a mediocre team ripe to play like a mediocre team. Lackey is a phenomenal pitcher, but outside of him, the starting group is suspect at best. K-Rod can't hold up if they continue to use him at the pace they have been. The offense is good, but not great.

On the other hand, you have an A's team that is brimming with young talent and is playing well below their run differential. They have the best team ERA in the bigs. Duke, innings short or not, has the lowest ERA of starting pitchers in the AL. Harden is looking, above all, healthy and completely nasty. The A's offense is a work in progress and, yes, there are some injury issues, but the injuries don't protract any further than the all star break and plenty of in-house options exist. The A's are much better suited for a run at the AL West Crown than the Halos are."

A big thanks to Justin for taking time to comment on the blog entry in a respectful manner. It is nice to have a conversation with a fan of another team without insults and trash talking. I would encourage all my readers to check out Justin's blog. Justin's page can be accessed by clicking here.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

AL Playoff Predictions in June

Earlier this week we looked at the Baseball Playoffs Now National League playoff predications. Today we will take a look at Dan Jarratt's AL predictions.

According to his most recent post, Dan has the Boston Red Sox winning the AL East, the Chicago White Sox winning the Central, the Oakland A's winning the AL West, and the Tampa Bay Rays as the AL wild card team. The playoffs outcome has Boston and the White Sox each winning their respective ALDS in five games with the White Sox over the Red Sox in the ALCS. From a personal view I would love to see an all Chicago World Series. With all of the media bias toward the Red Sox and New York teams having them both at home during the World Series while two teams from the mid-west battle it out would be outstanding!

I do have one issue with Dan's predictions. The Oakland A's are NOT going to win the AL west! I am not saying this because I am an Angels fan. Currently the A's are five games behind the Angels and are having injury problems. The Angels injury problems are improving and it won't be long before the Halos are at full strength. When the Angels are at full strength they are far superior to any team in the AL west.

I would encourage everyone to check out Dan's most recent prediction entry. Not only can you read the most recent breakdown but he also explains how he determines the predictions. The blog is located at

We will check back with Dan's predictions at the All Star break to see how his formula has things shaping up.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

NL Playoff Predictions in June

A week ago I was browsing the site when I came across an interesting blog called Baseball Playoffs Now written by Dan Jarratt. Dan has created a mathematical formula to predict the final records of all Major League teams. He also uses mathematics to predict how the MLB playoffs will turn out. He updates his site daily so the predictions are always current. I am not a true disciple of the sabermetric baseball analysis but I do enjoy reading and discussing new statistical ways to view baseball. In this entry I am going to comment on Dan's NL predictions.

In his June 9 post Dan has the Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Philadelphia Phillies as the three NL division winners and the St. Louis Cardinals as the NL wild card team. In his June 10 post he has the Cubs sweeping the Diamondbacks and the Phillies sweeping the Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs and the Cubs sweeping the Phillies in the NLCS. While I agree with Dan's four NL playoff teams I don't see the playoffs turning out the way his formula predicts.

I would give the Cubs a slight edge over the Diamondbacks and I agree Chicago should beat Arizona in a best of five NLDS. But I don't see any way the Cubs will be able to steamroll a team that will have a playoff rotation of Dan Haren, Brandon Webb, and Randy Johnson. Instead of a sweep I can see a playoff series between the Cubs and Diamondbacks going the full five games with the Cubs eventually coming out on top.

In the other series I believe the Phillies will man-handle the Cardinals. The Phillies are clearly the better team and should have little problem with the Cardinals. In this instance I agree with Dan's projections.

A Phillies - Cubs match up in the NLCS would be an outstanding series for baseball fans. Carlos Zambrano, Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, and Alfonso Soriano against Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jimmy Rollins would be a great showcase for the National League. As things stand now I agree with Dan's prediction the Cubs would win the series but I don't see it happening in four straight games. The Phillies lineup is too powerful to lose four straight to anyone in a playoff series.

Later this week I will break down Dan's AL predictions. I want to thank Dan for allowing me to reference his blog and I would encourage all of my readers to check out Baseball Playoffs Now. The URL is

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Angel Berroa to the Dodgers

Yesterday the Royals gave Angel Berroa away to the Dodgers. The official line is the Royals traded Berroa and cash to the Dodgers for 21 year old minor leaguer Juan Rivera. But when the details of the trade are examined it becomes clear the Royals are paying the Dodgers to take Berroa off their hands. The player Kansas City is receiving in return is a low level minor leaguer that doesn't project to be a Major League player. Berroa had long ago fallen out of favor with Royals fans and most Royals fans are glad to see Berroa gone.

It is understandable why Royals fans feel that way. After winning the A.L. Rookie of the Year award in 2003, Berroa signed a long term multi-million dollar contract with the Royals. At the time many Royals viewed this as a sign the Royals were no longer going to allow their young talent to move on to other teams. But Berroa performance declined to the point that in 2007 he was removed from the 40 man roster and sent to AAA Omaha. Berroa had become another entry on the long list of Allard Baird's misjudgments and failures. Even though Berroa had been playing well at Omaha this season it was never a consideration he would be called up to replace the struggling and over matched Tony Pena Jr. as the Royals shortstop. Angel Berroa was finished as far as the Royals were concerned.

But while most Royals fans are greeting the news of Berroa's departure as good news I am sad he was not given a chance to recapture his old job. Last season when the Omaha Royals visited Salt Lake I had the opportunity to watch Angel Berroa hours before game time. Each night he would take extra batting practice and hundreds of extra ground balls at shortstop and second base. I can't remember a harder working ball player than Berroa. I also had the chance to visit with him and I found him to be one of the nicest professional athletes I have met. In his situation many players would have hung their head and given up or stopped working at the game and just collect their paycheck. Berroa didn't do either of these. He was a professional all the way. Even during the games that he was not playing he kept himself ready and was constantly encouraging his teammates. By the time the Omaha Royals left town I was a huge Angel Berroa fan.

Several sources are reporting that Berroa is going to get a chance to play for the Dodgers. Injury problems have created a hole at shortstop for LA and Joe Torre is going to give him an opportunity to play on a regular basis. I hope he makes the most of it and has success for the Dodgers. My favorite type of sports story is when an athlete overcomes adversity through hard work and dedication. It is all the better if the athlete is a good guy. Best of luck to Angel Berroa. I will now be watching Dodgers games and rooting for him.