My goal is to add perspective to subjects other than the regular headlines.
Contact Stephanie at s.betweenthelines@yahoo.com



Saturday, August 29, 2009

RESPECT

July 31, 2005
The following are the words from Ryne Sandberg's Hall-of-Fame induction speech, who was inducted on July 31, 2005 in Cooperstown.

"What a beautiful day this is. I stand here today before you humbled and a grateful baseball player. I am truly honored and in awe, honored to be in the class with my fellow inductee Wade Boggs. And as I look behind me here, wow, at the greatest players in the history of the game, I am in awe. I know that if I had ever allowed myself to think this was possible, if I had ever taken one day in pro ball for granted, I'm sure I would not be here today. This will come as a shock I know, but I am almost speechless.

The reason I am here, they tell me, is that I played the game a certain way, that I played the game the way it was supposed to be played. I don't know about that, but I do know this: I had too much respect for the game to play it any other way, and if there was there was a single reason I am here today, it is because of one word, respect. I love to play baseball. I'm a baseball player. I've always been a baseball player. I'm still a baseball player. That's who I am."

CROWD: "We love you, Ryno."

"I love you too. I was a baseball player when I was ten or 12 years old pretending to be Willie Stargell or Johnny Bench or Luis Tiant, when my bat was an old fungo, my ball was a plastic golf ball, when the field was the street and my older brother Del and I would play all day. I was a baseball player at North Central High School in Spokane, Washington even though I was all city in basketball, even when I signed a letter of intent to play quarterback with Washington State. That's why Del advised me to turn down the chance to play football and sign with the Phillies out of high school. I had too much respect for the game to leave it behind or to make it my second or third sport in college. Everything I am today, everything I have today, everything I will ever be is because of the game of baseball, not the game you see on TV or in movies, baseball, the one we all know, the one we played with whiffle ball bats pretending to be Yaz or Fisk or Rose, in dirt fields and in alleys. We all know that game. The game fit me because it was right.

It was all about doing things right. If you played the game the right way, played the game for the team, good things would happen. That's what I loved most about the game, how a ground out to second with a man on second and nobody out was a great thing. Respect.

I was taught coming up in the Phillies organization to be seen and not heard by people like Pete Rose, my hero growing up, and players like Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton and Manny Trillo. I understood that. My parents, Derwent and Elizabeth, who are no longer with us, understood that. My mom was at every single game I played as a kid, rain or shine. My dad always said, "Keep your nose clean, your mouth shut and your eyes and ears open because you might learn something." My sister Maryl and my late brother, Lane knew this too, so did my first professional manager, Larry Rojas, a guy who was always in my corner as I climbed through the Phillies organization. Guys like Bill Harper, the scout that signed me, Ken Eilmes, my high school coach, PJ Carey, a Phillies coach- they taught me to respect the game above all else.

The fourth major league game I ever saw in person, I was in uniform. Yes, I was in awe. I was in awe every time I walked on to the field. That's respect. I was taught you never, ever disrespect your opponent or your team mates or your organization or your manager and never, ever your uniform. Make a great play, act like you've done it before, get a big hit, look for the third base coach and get ready to run the bases, hit a home run, put your head down, drop the bat, run around the bases, because the name on the front is a lot more important than the name on the back. That's respect.

My managers like Don Zimmer and Jim Frey, they always said I made things easy on them by showing up on time, never getting into trouble, being ready to play every day, leading by example, being unselfish. I made things easy on them? These things they talk about, playing every day, that was my job. I had too much respect for them and for the game to let them down. I was afraid to let them down. I didn't want to let them down or let the fans down or my teammates or my family or myself. I had too much respect for them to let them down.

Dallas Green brought me to Chicago and without him, who knows? I couldn't let him down. I owed him too much. I had too much respect for him to let him down. People like Harry Caray and Don Zimmer used to compare me, they used to compare me to Jackie Robinson. Can you think of a better tribute than that? But Harry, who was a huge supporter of mine, used to say how nice it is that a guy who can hit 40 homers or steal 50 bases drive in a hundred runs is the best bunter on the team. Nice? That was my job. When did it become okay for someone to hit home runs and forget how to play the rest of the game?

When we went home every winter, they warned us not lift heavy weights because they didn't want us to lose flexibility. They wanted us to be baseball players, not only home run hitters. I played high school football at 185 pounds and played big league baseball at 182. I'd get up to maybe 188 in the off season because every summer I'd lose eight to ten pounds. In my day, if a guy came to spring training 20 pounds heavier than what he left, he was considered out of shape and was probably in trouble. He'd be under a microscope and the first time he couldn't beat out a base hit or missed a fly ball, he was probably shipped out. These guys sitting up here did not pave the way for the rest of us so that players could swing for the fences every time up and forget how to move a runner over to third, it's disrespectful to them, to you, and to the game of baseball that we all played growing up. Respect.

A lot of people say this honor validates my career, but I didn't work hard for validation. I didn't play the game right because I saw a reward at the end of the tunnel. I played it right because that's what you're supposed to do, play it right and with respect. If this validates anything, it's that learning how to bunt and hit and run and turning two is more important than knowing where to find the little red light at the dug out camera. If this validates anything, it's that guys who taught me the game, coaches like Billy Williams, Chuck Cottier, John Vukovich, Jose Martinez, Billy Connors and Ruben Amaro; teammates like Larry Bowa who took me under his wing, Rick Sutcliff who was like an older brother, Bob Dernier, the half of the daily double, they did what they were supposed to do and I did what I was supposed to do.

There was Gary Matthews, the Sarge. He wouldn't let me down. He was always in the on-deck circle when I was batting and if there was a pitch who that almost hit me or knocked me down, Sarge would be halfway to the mound coming at the pitcher, "Get the ball over the plate or face the consequences." I saw a lot of fast balls down the middle because of Sarge and I had too much respect for how hard he played to give it any less than he did.

Sure I worked hard to get the most out of my God given ability, but that's what we all did back then. That's what every one of these guys sitting here did. There were a lot of players who worked just as hard as I did and if you didn't, you didn't stay in the big leagues. There were guys like Bill Buckner, an incredible big league hitter, the first pure hitter I spent time with in the big leagues. I saw him come through town with the Spokane Indians in Triple A with Tommy Lasorda and a whole team full of guys who went to the World Series. They all worked hard. There was Shawon Dunston and Mark Grace, and together we were a double play combination for ten years. Shawon Dunston, who knew three weeks in advance if we were facing Nolan Ryan and always had a hamstring pull playing the day before. Mark Grace, who made sure Shawon knew he was supposed to get every popup from foul line to foul line on the infield. We could read each other's minds on the field and off. They worked hard. How could I let them down? By not being prepared for everything that might happen in the field, at the plate or on the bases? Respect.

Andre Dawson, the Hawk. No player in baseball history worked harder, suffered more or did it better than Andre Dawson. He's the best I've ever seen. Stand up Hawk. The Hawk. I watched him win MVP for a last place team in 1987 and it was the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen in baseball. He did it the right way, the natural way and he did it in the field and on the bases and in every way, and I hope he will stand up here someday. We didn't get to a World Series together but we almost got there, Hawk. That's my regret, that we didn't get to a World Series for Cub fans. I was in the post season twice and I'm thankful for that. Twice we came close.

It reminds me of the guy walking down the beach. He finds a bottle, pops the cork and a genie comes out to grant him one wish. The guy says my wish is for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. Here's a map of the Middle East. Genie takes the map, studies it for hours and hours. Finally gives it back to the guy and says, is there anything else you want to wish for? This is impossible. The guy says well, I always wanted to see the cubs in a World Series. The genie looks at him, reaches out and says, let me have another look at that map...

In baseball, there's always the next day. I always thought there would be another chance. It didn't happen, but I feel fortunate for the two chances we had and it's just a shame we didn't go to a World Series for Cub fans. You can't do it on your own.

And I want to say thank you to every teammate, coach, manager and just as important my opponents who made the game fun for me. I want to say thank you to friends like Doug Dascenzo, Yosh Kawano, Arlene Gill, Jimmy Farrell, John Fierro, my cubs trainer for ten years, and Marty Hare, an old high school teammate. To Jimmy Turner, Kathy Lintz and Peter Bensinger, advisors, confidants and close friends, thank you. Also, Barry Rosner, great writer and good friends. It's fun talking baseball with you, Barry. Thank you.

To the Baseball Writers Association, I thank you for granting me this incredible honor. I think a large part of this is the fact that I was a great interview and gave you so many quotes you could wrap a story around. Seriously, I know I wasn't the best interview for many of those years, but I wasn't trying to be difficult. I had other things on my mind. Baseball wasn't easy for me. I struggled many times when maybe it didn't look like I was struggling and I had to work hard every day. I had to prepare mentally every day. I had to prepare physically every day and I didn't leave many scraps for the writers.

I hope you also understand why I would not campaign for this or help you sell this. It's the best award in all of sports and I think if I had expected anything, if I was thinking about it too much or crunching the numbers, it would have taken away from the prestige of this incredible honor. To the great folks here at the Hall of Fame, Jane Forbes Clark, Dale Petrosky, Jeff Idelson, Kim Bennett, Brad Horn, Ted Spencer and Evan Chase, thanks for making this entire year a joy for me and my family, one we will certainly never forget.

I've been lucky enough to be welcomed into three new families since I arrived in Chicago. As great a public speaker as I am, I don't have the words to describe Cub fans who welcomed me as a rookie, were patient through my 1-for-32 start 5 and took me into their homes and into their hearts and treated me like a member of their family. You picked me up when I was down. You lifted me to heights that I didn't know I could reach. You expected a certain level of play for from me and you made me play at that level for a long time.

I know there are a lot of Cub fans here today. I feel like every Cub fan in the world is here with me today. And by the way, for what it's worth, Ron Santo just gained one more vote from the veteran's committee.

Thank you to these men here, these Hall of Famers, the greatest players in the history of baseball who have welcomed me in and treated me as an equal. It's going to take some getting used to, but I thank you for your kindness and respect. This is the second best thing that's ever happened to me.

Lastly, I joined a new family when my wife Margaret, BR, Adriane and Steven took me, Lindsey and Justin into their family and together we have made quite a happy family. I love all of you.

You are probably wondering what was the first when I said this honor is the second best thing that's ever happened to me. My wife Margaret is the best thing that's ever happened to me. She is my best friend, she is the love of my life. She is my salvation. She's my past, my present, my future. She is my sun, my moon, my stars. She is everything that's good about life and I thank her for entering my life at a time when I needed her most. I love you.

The feeling I've had since I got the call is a feeling I suspect will never go away. I'm told it never does. It's the highest high you can imagine. I wish you all could feel what I feel standing here. This is my last big game. This is my last big at-bat. This is my last time catching the final out. I dreamed of this as a child but I had too much respect for baseball to think this was ever possible. I believe it is because I had so much respect for the game and respect for getting the most out of my ability that I stand here today. I hope others in the future will know this feeling for the same reason: Respect for the game of baseball. When we all played it, it was mandatory. It's something I hope we will one day see again.

Thank you, and go Cubs." - Ryne Sandberg, 2005

Milton Bradley, Carlos Zambrano and every other player who feels that they are above the game, think again. You're complete lack of respect towards the history of the game, towards the fans, and towards the organization is disgusting. Ryne Sandberg was a real ballplayer, someone who respected the game and viewed the fans with respect. I only wish that players, like Ryno, find their way onto our teams.
-S

Apparently, it's the Players Who are the Victims

As I'm working out tonight (8-28-09), I see a scroll go across the bottom of the screen on Comcast Sportsnet that reads, "Carlos Zambrano is sick of being scrutinized by Cub fans..."

Are you kidding me? Is there something in the water in Chicago that is turning our baseball players into whiney, pathetic children? How are these millionaires the victims, day after day after day? It rattles me. I'm at a point where I am seriously questioning why I am a Cubs fan. Don't get me wrong, some of the best moments of my childhood, teen, and adult years have revolved around the Cubs. But now I'm expected to support this??? I can't condone it. For the first time in my life I have said NO to tickets. I refuse to shell out my hard earned money to see a bunch of cry babies. These Cub players need to realize that everyday they take that field they represent the fans. Without us fans, this game would cease to exist, plain and simple. They represent the Chicago Cubs. Granted, it's a team that has made losing into an art form, but somehow the fans stick around. Somehow, every year our attendance rises. Every single year we come back for more, and we all seriously come into every year believing that this is the year.
Last year was the absolute best season of my life. I celebrated 97 regular season wins with a one of a kind, dynamic team. And we didn't just win, we had a hell of a time winning! Our roster had fun, relatable guys that basked in the electricity of the Wrigley faithful! Including the playoffs, I attended 53 games in 2008. Remember that long, beautiful 14 home game winning streak? I was there for every game. And, not only did we have that streak, but for season we went 55-26 at Wrigley Field. Our starting pitchers combined to throw 8 different shut outs. We also had an above .500 winning percentage in one run games at 24-22, and we blew out our opponents 33 times. Remember what is was like being 30 games above .500 in August? Oh those were the days...

And then came the playoffs. The first game against the Dodgers was a Wednesday night and I'll never forget it. LA was coming into the playoffs on their hottest streak of the year, and while they had the momentum, the Cubs had the support. This was the only game that I didn't attend for the 3 game series, and I still have nightmares about it. Wednesday nights I had a 3 hour night class, and since I had missed the max amount of classes already for other games throughout the season, I absolutely could not miss one more for the playoffs (bad planning on my part). So i ordered MLB Gameday on my phone, plugged in some headphones and was all set for class. Do you know how hard it is to not cheer when DeRosa hit that bomb? I practically fell out of my seat, and I sat there like and idiot with this big grin on my face as my teacher described some ceramic vase from the Paleolithic era. But, do you know how hard it is to hold back tears? When Loney hit that Grand slam, my heart sank to the floor. I wanted to hit that desk so hard. I wanted to get up and scream, and I wanted to find a TV to see if Dempster hung that dreaded pitch. Instead, I had to sit still so that I wouldn't get caught listening to the game. I couldn't react, but I also couldn't help it as tears started streaming down my face and I looked to the guy next to me and just said, "Grand slam.... Dodgers." He just looked down and put his face in his hands. It's a reoccurring nightmare for me. It's like those dreams where you feel like your falling and you can't get up, or when your trying to scream to save your life but nothing comes out. I'll never forget that moment.
Okay, so it's Thursday morning and Mike (one of my best friends, and biggest Cub fans ever) and I are desperate for tickets. With the help of our friend, Brad we get 2 seats in the very last row of section 516... the highest deck at Wrigley. You think we care? Absolutely not. We shell out the money and get to Wrigley. Then we have to sit in silence as the Cubs make 5 infield errors. There goes another game. But, hey we still had another shot. Friday morning, Mike, Casey and I boarded our flight to LA. We were decked out in Cubs clothes, our carry on bags were even Cub duffel bags, and we have the infamous "It's Gonna Happen" signs to bring us luck. We somehow even managed to get first row seats in the right field bleachers for the game... the all you can eat section. Probably should have thought about that a little more before hand, because when there's 6 Cubs fans in the front row in a Dodger packed stadium, and those fans are given free hot dogs all game long, guess what happens. Yes- for 9 innings we were targets. We still didn't complain.
When the game ended, and our season was officially over, we just sat there and watched the Dodgers celebrate on the field. It was suppose to be our year. We had 97 wins for crying out loud, and we couldn't manage a single win against the Dodgers--a team that we had SWEPT in a 4 game series over Memorial Day weekend earlier that year. I can't even begin to describe that type of pain. It was something that was completely out of our control. Nothing we did could have helped them win. We entrusted those guys on the field to go out there and at the least, put up a fight. That night is another that I will never forget, as I actually cried in Dodger Stadium. I mean you talk about heartbreak, I don't know what more you need. It wasn't just that sorrowful pain that you feel when a loved one passes, and it wasn't that type of angry pain you feel when someone has betrayed you. It was all that combined with a torturing, heart wrenching, soul crushing type of loss.

But would I do it all over again? Absolutely. This team is my team, and I am proud of them. We all are. We put up with the 100+ year World Series drought because the seasons have made us addicted. The players we support have provided us with memories to last a lifetime. We keep living this tradition and passing it down, and it's been worth it. I always wish that I could have been alive to experience the 1984 season- what an exceptional group of guys! I wish I could have seen the '69 Cubs, and seen the passionate Ron Santo play. The Cubs are built around players we fall in love with. Players that we idolize and respect. It's the players who give us a reason to keep coming back. And it's the player who build the history of the Chicago Cubs.

But, now they are attacking the fans. Between Milton Bradley and Carlos Zambrano, I'm not sure how much more I can take. They criticize us because we are hungry for a winning team? Maybe they should go to the Marlins where the stadium is rarely full and the expectations are lower. Jim Hendry dismantled this team, single handedly. Getting rid of DeRosa, and not resigning Kerry Wood- someone who wanted to be here so much that he offered to take a pay cut- has proven to be a mistake all season. Even Jason Marquis, who was a solid 5th starter and a great guy in the clubhouse. Then Hendry nixed Henry Blanco, one of the top defensive catchers in the Majors. We could have kept him for hardly anything! Darryl freaking Ward! Was that guy ever NOT smiling?? Jim Edmonds... because apparently we didn't need a talented, patient, veteran to shed some knowledgeable insight anymore. So, Hendry replaces these one of a kind, talented clubhouse leaders with Milton Bradley, Aaron Miles, Kevin Gregg and Aaron Heilman. But, we still came back in full force. And up until now, I have been to 39 games this season including a trip to PetCo Park to see them get swept by the Padres.

So, shouldn't Cub fans be the victims? Shouldn't we be the ones complaining right now? Why aren't we allowed the right to say whatever we want and boo whomever we feel deserves it? Instead, the players was us to just sit here and deal with the down grades, the underachieving, and the lack of effort. Then, they want us to put up with their complaints and "stop scrutinizing them." Maybe we shouldn't care anymore. Maybe Carlos is right- we should stop wanting this team to win so badly because the big bad boys can't handle the pressure. So Cub Nation, no more complaining. Just keep shelling out money and keep up your spirits up! Pretty soon you'll get kicked out of Wrigley for frowning.
-S

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bryce Harper

If you don't already know about Bryce Harper, hurry up and get caught up. The kid's a stud, and when I say "kid," I mean kid. He dropped out of high school after sophomore year to get his GED and play junior college baseball so he can get drafted earlier. Talk about determination. This is also the kid who, at only 15 years old, hit a 502 ft' home run at Tropicana Field, which is the longest homer ever hit there to date. Keep in mind, he hit it with an metal bat, but nonetheless start reading up because this 6'3, 205 lb, lefty swinging catcher is the next big thing.

(Harper on the cover of SI)

INDIVIDUAL ATHLETIC HONORS
(from powershowcase.com)
2009 International High School Power Showcase Home Run Derby Nevada Representative
2008 1st Team All Sunrise Div Catcher
2008 1st Team All State Catcher
2008 Player of the Year NE Division
2008 Batting Average Leader for the state of Nevada
2008 All World Team Tournament MVP Awards for the Most Homeruns Hit (4) and the Most RBIs (16)
2008 USA Baseball 16U ChampionshipsTeam who just brought home gold in the Pan Am Games in Mexico
2008 All Area Code Team
2007 TBS 14u All American Team
2007 TBS 14u Player of the Year
2006 TBS 13u All American Team
2005 TBS 12u All American Team
2005 NYB All American Team
.... just to name a few.

CLICK HERE for a video from ESPN with Harper explaining his situation and passion for the game.
-S

Mitlon Bradley is a Disgrace to Baseball

"I just pray the game is nine innings, so I can be out there the least amount of time as possible and go home." -Milton Bradley

Those are the words that caused me to become so infuriated to the point of actually being embarrassed of a player on the Chicago Cubs. Here is a man who is being paid over $10 million a year to go on a field and play a game, and he's complaining? It was understandable (to a point) when he was angry with his slump. Who wasn't? But he has crossed the line too many times, and we still have 6 weeks left of the regular season. It's because of his disrespectful antics that his own teammates have alienated him. He has ran his mouth too many times, and now its at the breaking point- the fans have alienated him, as well. He still doesn't get it, what a pity.

(Back cover of the Chicago Sun Times, 8-27-09)

Here's the point, Milton. You came to a team that is in dire need to win a World Series. We, here in Chicago, have one of the largest and most loyal fan bases among the 30 teams in the major leagues and that is despite not winning a World Series in over 100 years. Did you not think about that when you signed you $30 million dollar contract? We are feening for a World Series. People here in Chicago would give up their first born for a World Series. So why are you the victim? Shouldn't WE be the victims? Us fans who are tortured year after year in a heartbreaking soap opera of pain and fury, yet we should feel sorry for you??? Not a chance. Produce. End of story. You are a major league baseball player, now act like it. Grow a pair, get on that field, and deal with it. If for no other reason than to thank the organization who is paying you to do so. And shut your mouth. I don't care what color your skin is, shut the hell up. Life is not easy, no one has the perfect life, but yours may come pretty close. Do you not see how blessed you are to be given the talent to play in the Majors? I work day in and day out with baseball players, most of who spend the entire day thinking of how to get better, and who dream at night of being in your shoes.

I have had it with Milton Bradley. I'm done making excuses and continually believing that he will eventually get his act together. I'm done hoping for him to grow up and learn what it is to, not only be a Cub, but to be a damn baseball player. He is a spoiled, self-centered man whose constant whining and complaining is a slap in the face to the Chicago Cubs fans, the organization, and especially to his teammates.

You GET to play 81 games at Wrigley Field, so shut up Milton. Yes, the stands and fan areas are out-dated and falling apart, but that playing surface, the dimensions of the park, the electricity in the air is one of the best in the Majors. Ask any player.

This is a paragraph from a Sun Times article back in April of this year, entitled "Bradley sure he can handle Chicago" by Gordon Wittenmyer:
In his past, Bradley has accused teammate Jeff Kent of not being able to get along with black players; called a black beat writer an ''Uncle Tom''; picked up a plastic bottle that had been thrown near him from the stands and threw it back at the feet of the fans, and last summer, left the clubhouse in uniform to find a Kansas City broadcaster who made comments referencing his personal life.


The racist comments are just plain stupid and annoying now. 39,999 people in that ballpark could be cheering him on and supporting him, but if 1 stupid guy says something racist, Bradley focuses on that and all of a sudden, everyone is racist. It's sickening how obsessed he is with his race being a factor of his popularity. There is only so much we can take Milton, so grow up quickly. I admit that racism does exist, I'd be naive to say it doesn't. But to blame your problems on that is idiotic. EVERYONE deals with adversity, but not everyone has $30 million dollars to go home to for comfort.

I asked for other peoples opinions on Milton Bradley. These are people whose opinions I respect because they are intelligent and unbiased. Some of these people are very passionate baseball fans who spend a considerable amount of money on games, apparel, etc, and some of them are casual fans who simply understand respect and hard work (more will be added throughout the day as I receive them).

"Chicago is a city that prides itself on hard work. You show up to work, work hard, and get the job done. End of story. There's 3 million Chicagoans that would love to be in his position. Quit whining, don't make excuses, and TAKE ACCOUNTABILITY for your actions. Chicagoans respect accountability, and according to you, nothing you do is your fault. Respect the game and your teammates." -Anonymous

"Being a college baseball player, it pains me to watch him. He doesn't respect the game." -Pat, Chicago

"Anyone who says 'Thank God the game is only 9 innings so I can get off the field,' doesn't deserve to put a uniform on" - Anonymous

"All I can say, is that myself and I'm sure every Chicago Cubs fan is pretty much sick of him running his mouth with nothing to show for it. It would be fine if was actually productive for our team (these past few days do not count/nor do they make up for the entire season). I have a huge problem with players criticizing fans for the way that they play. It is not our fault we want the best for our team and we want to win. Sorry Bradley, maybe you should go somewhere where there is no pressure to win." - Karen, Chicago

"The guy gets paid $10 million dollars a year to play baseball. He comes here and says he has changed his ways and has his anger under control, etc and then spends the entire season sucking a**. So what he does he do? Accept responsibility and vow to to work to do better? No, he pouts, breaks Gatorade coolers and then says Cubs fans are racists. I hope the door does hit him on the a** on the way out and that he takes Jim Hendry with him." -Desmond, Chicago


"It's because of players like him that baseball fans will stop watching the sport !!!! We need positive players who will put a show because at then end, players are playing the game and getting paid for BECAUSE OF THE FANS !!!!" -Sandra, Ontario

"Wow. People hate Milton Bradley. Give the guy a break. He already has 35 rbi's and we aren't even in September yet."- Joe, Chicago


"I just dont think MB [Milton Bradley] is good to have around the clubhouse, he's putting a damper on the players im sure w/his negativity...and his BA should be .300 at least like last year w/Texas."- Justin, Chicago

"I don't exactly agree with him making those statements but I can see where he is coming from with them. I still like Bradley. I know he cares about winning, you can see it in his reactions when he strikes out and when they lose. I liked it better when he stayed away from the media but maybe he needs to get all this off this back. I don't feel like looking up statistics right now but I know he's hitting above .300 at Wrigley since the ASB and while his season avg and HRs may not be anywhere near what we expected from him, he is getting on base (.387 OBP) good for 2nd on the team tied with Fukudome. The only one with a higher OBP is Ramirez and he has about 170 less plate appearances. The fact is our entire team is underperforming and its not just Milton Bradley. It just seems like the fans need to blame someone so why not the new guy. I don't like the comments he has made recently but I don't blame him for the Cubs lack of production."- Mike, Arizona

"Milton Bradley is a paid—handsomely paid—professional. Not only is he paid, but he is a considerably under-performing professional. I cannot discount the possibility that I feel this way because I am indeed a Cubs fan. That being said, I don't think half of the things that are supposedly being said to him or about him would be occurring, had he proven to be even a fleeting image of the player the Cubs thought they were getting. To hear Milton Bradley, the same player who sidelined himself with a leg injury after being held back whilst attempting to attack an umpire, complain about FANS being out of line just seems absolutely absurd to me. I don't care what Milton heard from the fans. There are a ton of idiots in every ball park, and that's never going to change. To make it as simple as possible; Bradley is paid millions of dollars to not be affected by this stuff, as he plays a GAME on a professional level. Bradley chooses to go on the field every day and make himself a public figure. It was his decision, and he should have known better. He's a paranoid nut case. He thinks everyone is out to get him, and it's unfortunate that he happens to be good at baseball." -Ari, Chicago

"Milton is a piece of sh**, plain and simple. If he had come here and played hard from the beginning and kept his big mouth shut then nobody would hate him. But when you sign a big money contract, don't produce and do nothing but mouth off and break bats and throw hissy fits...then of COURSE people are going to hate you! Hendry signed him to produce, and he's done absolutely nothing. He's shown that he can't field a baseball, and can't keep track of how many outs there are in an inning. He doesn't run out ground balls, and through 90% of the baseball season...he has, what, 35 RBIS!? Pathetic. I hope that he's gone by the start of the 2010 season, but I'm not sure that we can get that lucky. Tell me again why we didn't sign Ibanez?! Oy.. " - Jackie, Chicago


"I agree Milton does not deserve to be a Cub. Nearly every Cub in the lineup has had their fair share of boos and don't react in the manner MB does. Who's gotten more boos than Kevin Gregg lately? Yeah, KG sucks but at least he's willing to admit it rather than using some ridiculous excuse. His claim of fans being racist is getting old. It was old in LA and Texas and its getting old here. " - Jason V, Chicago

"I will first start off by saying why should Milton Bradley care where he plays or what field he plays on. He is a professional baseball player, his job is to go out there, hit, field and play baseball no matter where it is. If your office moved and you were getting paid millions would it matter where? Probably not. Wrigley is a great place to play and lots of players have felt and said that in the past. Wrigley is more for the fans than the players in my opinion. However, Bradley has been in the game a very long time and its just another day at work for him. Why should he care about wrigley. Why does he hate the fans? Gee, I wonder. How would you like someone heckling you all day at work, booing you and talking sh** to you. Imagine if those were your own co-workers and your own team doing it and not a rival company. Thats why he hates Wrigley and thats why he doesnt want to be on the field any longer than he has to. With the way the team has been this year, I dont blame him one bit for feeling like this. None of us, some of the biggest cub fans in Chicago, dont even want to go to a f***ing game. That right there says how bad things are. Im actually glad that i am 1500+ miles away from that little league baseball team that plays at Wrigley." -Brad, Las Vegas

"Here's my take on Milton Bradley. I think that he has had adversity with whatever team he has been with and not just here in Chicago. His recent comment, "All I'm saying is I pray the game is nine innings, so I can go out there the least amount of time possible and go home" shows that he is not thinking about the team but instead just about himself. Bradley has shown that he can't just focus on the game but has to make it about himself somehow. He needs to realize that the game of baseball is bigger than just him, then even the Cubs and that there are people out there who would do about anything to be in his position so he should just be grateful for what he has and not find something to complain about every season." -Jackie S, Chicago

More will be added as I get them, or you can just comment below. I do want to thank everyone who I spoke to today who shared how they felt about this. Everyday I work with high school and college ball players who genuinely love the game. They work endless hours every single day trying to become like the greats in the game. Oh, and what they would give to be in the Majors! There are certain people who deserve to play America's past time, in front of sell out crowds everyday, and being paid millions. They are the kids who dreamed about it as a child and who still play the game day in and day out like it's their last. It 's the same kids who go to sleep at night praying to find their swing, and who wake up in the morning with no other goal then to get in the cages and succeed. Even these 12 year old's in the Little League World Series respect the game more than Milton Bradley does.

** One more thing, I was just on the phone with my friend Brad and we started talking about how every player is booed at some point. Remember at the beginning of this season when Derrek Lee was booed for underachieving? But did he run to the media, bad mouth his fans and manager? Absolutely not. He didn't complain, instead he worked even harder and became more determined, and look at him now. Derrek Lee is a respectable ballplayer and a good teammate. Take notes, Milton.
-S

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Blog to Follow

Ever want to know the life of a minor leaguer?! Well, here's your chance! A very good friend of mine, Kenny Smalley, is a current pitcher in Oakland A's minor league system, and he just started a new blog! It's entitled "On the Grind," and I'll be the first to tell you that it will be worth reading. He's an extremely hard working kid who is working his way up to the Majors. The link to his blog will be on the right hand side of this blog for future reference, but for now just CLICK HERE to check it out! Also, Comcast Sportsnet just did an interview with Kenny at a home Cougars game. CLICK HERE to see the interview!

Thanks guys!
-S

Monday, August 17, 2009

Draft Deadline

Announcement: Tonight by 12:01am (ET) is the deadline for all the 2009 Amateur Draft players to sign to the teams they were drafted by.

The biggest news obviously lies with the contract offered to Stephen Strasburg by the Nationals, who have remained silent with their negotiations. What we do know is that is surpasses the $10.5 million dollar contract that was given to Mark Prior by the Cubs in 2001, which until now has been the highest signing bonus for a first rounder.

To top off tonight's glorious festivities of negotiating contracts, Scott Boras seems to be holding the Major Leagues at ransom. Not only does Boras represent Strasburg, but he also represents the number 2 (Dustin Ackley- Seattle Mariners) and number 3 (Donavan Tate- San Diego Padres) first round draft picks who have still yet to be signed.

Here is a list from MLB.com with the top 32 draft choices:
# Team Players Name POS Signed
1WASStephen StrasburgRHPNO
2SEADustin AckleyOFNO
3SDDonavan TateOFNO
4PITTony SanchezCYES
5BALMatt HobgoodRHPYES
6SFZack WheelerRHPNO
7ATLMike MinorLHPYES
8CINMike LeakeRHPYES
9DETJacob TurnerRHPNO
10WASDrew StorenRHPYES
11COLTyler MatzekLHPNO
12KCAaron CrowRHPNO
13OAKGrant GreenSSNO
14TEXMatt PurkeLHPNO
15CLEAlex WhiteRHPNO
16ARIBobby Borchering3BYES
17ARIA.J. PollockOFYES
18FLAChad JamesLHPYES
19STLShelby MillerRHPNO
20TORChad JenkinsRHPYES
21HOUJiovanni MierSSYES
22MINKyle GibsonRHPNO
23CWSJared MitchellOFYES
24LAARandal GrichukOFYES
25LAAMike TroutOFYES
26MILEric ArnettRHPYES
27SEANick FranklinSSYES
28BOSReymond FuentesOFYES
29NYYSlade HeathcottOFYES
30TBLeVon Washington2BNO
31CHCBrett JacksonOFYES
32COLTim WheelerOFYES


With 13 of the first rounders still not signed, with less than 8 hours to go, and Boras representing 6 of those 13.... well, looks like we know who runs baseball now. Definitely not the commissioner or owners. It's Scott Boras. Thanks, man.

-S

Sunday, August 9, 2009

August Waiver Rules/Info

Now that the trade deadline has come and gone, in order for a player to be moved in any way he must go through waivers. But what are they and what does it mean?

By definition MLB.com states that:

"A waiver is a permission granted to a Club that desires to assign or release one of its players. There are basically two types of waivers -- waivers for the assignment of a player and waivers for the unconditional release of a player. In both cases, waivers are granted only after all the other Major League Clubs have been given an opportunity to claim the player and none has done so. With regard to assignment waivers, permission is granted for a specific period of time. With unconditional release waivers, once permission is granted the player is a free agent."

Today my friend Sean texted me asking what it meant to be on waivers and what it entailed. Obviously, since he's a Sox fan I knew he was referring to the White Sox claiming Alex Rios off waivers. Basically, a team can put one of it's players on waivers to see if there is an interest in him from the other teams. But, even if a team does claim him the original team still has the option of keeping him. Now let's take for instance the White Sox claiming Rios off waivers. If the Blue Jays do decide they don't want to keep him, then the White Sox MUST take on his 60 million dollar remaining contract since they claimed him. Sometimes teams will claim a player just to take away the option of an opposing team (like the Twins, Tigers, etc) from picking him up.

(Alex Rios)

Waiver deals are made between August 1st and August 31st, when a team is finalizing who they want on their expanded roster, which happens on September 1st when teams are able to add 15 players to their 25 man roster. One thing to realize here is that practically every single player is put through waivers in August. If nothing else the volume of players is huge and teams can sneak through certain guys they may want to trade. Therefore, if a player IS NOT claimed by any team then he can be dealt by his team until the September first deadline. On the other hand, if a player IS claimed he can only be dealt to the team that claimed him. And, to make it even more complicated (since I know you enjoy the complexity of the MLB), if a player is claimed by a few different teams, then the team with the worst record in the same league gets priority and can only make a trade with that team. If none of the teams are in the same leauge, then the team with the worst record in the opposite league gets priority, which is determined by the previous years' records.

The next big thing about waivers is that the team that places their player on waivers can take him back, but only once. If the same player in placed on waivers again in August and someone picks him up, then he must be dealt. Of course if a team is just trying to dump an inflated salary (as is the case with Rios), then instead of making a deal with the original club, the team that claimed him can pick up him up on a small waiver fee. So, if the Sox pick up Rios they will have to pay a small waiver fee then take on the inflated salary. Sometimes a team will claim a player to block others from taking him, as it might be the case here. So, while the Sox may just be blocking other teams from taking Rios the Blue Jays could say at any time, "Alright, you want him, you got him," and they are automatically stuck with his $60 million salary.

Most teams can't afford to get stuck with large salaries, especially with our economy. So, now-a-days when a player is claimed, it's more often because the team that claims him is willing to pick up the salary to get the player instead of just blocking another team. But, you never know. It's all about strategy and it's here that the general managers are able to make some good moves during this time and hopefully build their playoff roster.

A few other technicalities about waivers:
-Any player can be put on waivers, and no player needs to be notified of it by their team.
-There is a 47 hour time frame for a team to claim a player who has been put on waivers.
-If a team pulls a player back after putting him on waivers, he cannot be dealt for 30 days.
-If a player is not claimed, the team can talk to any team about possible trades, or the team can demote him to the minors, or release him.
-If a player is not claimed, he is said to have had "clear waivers."
-Lastly, teams are not allowed to comment on waiver claims etc during this time.

Basically the purpose of waivers is fairness. It gives each team to option to put a player through waivers while allowing any team to claim him if wanted. I hope this was useful and helped to clarify this crazy August month in Major League Baseball!

-S

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

THE 2003 PED LIST (not confirmed)

UPDATE 2: 8/9/09-- As players are confirmed (as we know this will continue to happen until they are all released), I'll put a red "X" next to the players name and when all this is said and done we can see how close this list really was to being correct.

UPDATE 1: 8/7/09-- I did NOT want to post this, but here's the thing. If I could get it, then it's obviously out there. I'm trying to see the positive behind this, and give credit to the guys NOT on the list (like Torii Hunter, one of my all time favorite players). Obviously, I'm not the only one with this and it's just a matter of probably today that all the media outlets have better sources and info on this. I'm sick of hearing about it, so hopefully its out AND THAT'S IT. Maybe then we can FINALLY move on?!?!

Original Post_______________________________________
I got this list in an e-mail at 10am (CST) from, what I am told, is a pretty reliable source out of New York. I looked it over and looked into some names. I've decided to post it, but know that it COULD be wrong. It also COULD be right. As I said, it's from a source but at this point I am not able to confirm it.

Fwd: PED users about to be made public
Here's the list...103 Steroid Users.

1. Nomar Garciaparra
X2. Manny Ramirez
3. Johnny Damon
4. Trot Nixon
X5. David Ortiz
6. Shea Hillenbrand
7. Derek Lowe
8. Pedro Martinez
9. Brian Roberts
10. Jay Gibbons
11. Melvin Mora
12. Jerry Hairston
13. Jason Giambi
14. Alfonso Soriano
15. Raul Mondasi
16. Aaron Boone
17. Andy Pettite
18. Jose Contreras
19. Roger Clemens
20. Carlos Delgado
21. Vernon Wells
22. Frank Catalanotto
23. Kenny Rogers
24. Magglio Ordonez
25. Sandy Alomar
26. Bartolo Colon
27. Brent Abernathy
28. Jose Lima
29. Milton Bradley
30. Casey Blake
31. Danys Baez
32. Craig Monroe
33. Dmitri Young
34. Alex Sanchez
35. Eric Chavez
36. Miquel Tejada
37. Eric Byrnes
38. Jose Guillen
39. Keith Foulke
40. Ricardo Rincon
41. Bret Boone
42. Mike Cameron
43. Randy Winn
44. Ryan Franklin
45. Freddy Garcia
46. Rafael Soriano
47. Scott Spiezio
48. Troy Glaus
49. Francisco Rodriquez
50. Sean Weber
X51. Alex Rodriquez
52. Juan Gonzalez
X53. Rafael Palmeiro
54. Carl Everett
55. Javy Lopez
56. Gary Sheffield
57. Mike Hampton
58. Ivan Rodriquez
59. Derrek Lee
60. Bobby Abreu
61. Terry Adams
62. Fernando Tatis
63. Livan Hernandez
64. Hector Almonte
65. Tony Adams
66. Dan Smith
67. Roberto Alomar
68. Cliff Floyd
69. Roger Cedeno
70. Jeromy Burnitz
71. Moises Alou
X72. Sammy Sosa
73. Corey Patterson
74. Carlos Zambrano
75. Mark Prior
76. Kerry Wood
77. Matt Clement
78. Antonio Alfonseca
79. Juan Cruz
80. Aramis Ramirez
81. Craig Wilson
82. Kris Benson
83. Richie Sexson
84. Geoff Jenkins
85. Valerio de los Sanlos
86. Benito Santiago
87. Rich Aurilia
88. Barry Bonds
89. Andres Galarraga
90. Jason Schmidt
91. Felix Rodriquez
92. Jason Christiansen
93. Matt Herges
94. Paul LoDuca
95. Shawn Green
96. Oliver Rerez
97. Adrian Beltre
98. Eric Gagne
99. Guillermo Mota
100. Luis Gonzalez
101. Todd Helton
102. Ryan Klesko
103. Gary Matthews

It's a relief to know one of my all time favorites, TORII HUNTER is NOT on the list. THANK YOU TORII! Once again, this was sent to me via e-mail from a source. It may not be accurate.
-S