Play Ball!

The waning hours until the season begins seems just as long and the winter. None-the-less, here we are… Opening Night. Of 162 games, none create the excitement and expectations of game one. For the Rox, I would be glad to see them play Arizona away and come home to a easily winnable game for the home opener. For this year we’ll just have to settle for the World Series defending champion Phillies. Can they do it? We’ll see. Here’s my take on 2009:

 

NL WEST

 

1. Arizona

2. Los Angeles

3. Colorado

4. San Francisco

5. San Diego

 

Laugh if you want to, but the NL West could be a tough division this year. Arizona looks to be all around tough this year. The don’t have any Mannys but they have some all around hitters and above average pitching. They are my pick for the NL West. The Dodgers will be tough too. With Manny back in the saddle and Joe Torre’s second year at the helm, they could very well make a run. San Francisco’s pitching looks to have (on paper) the best pitching in the division (some one better than I could argue the NL). Cy Young winner Tim Linecum, World Series winning, bird killing, old man Randy Johnson and the other old man Zito look scary on a rotation. Let’s just see if they stay healthy. San Diego….. Well, not so much. Jake Peavy can’t carry them by himself and thats all they’ve got on the mound. Their best hitter batted .306 last season and their second? .276. Bad pitching and bad hitting throws them in the bottom of the pile on my picks.

 

Bringing us to the Rockies:

Why would a Rockies fan pick his team in the middle of the pack? Because the Rockies have as good of a chance to be at the top as they do dead last. There’s too many questions that need to be answered. Will Helton bat like he did in the spring? Will Helton stay healthy? Fowler or Spilly? Did Morales fix his control? Can Tulo break out of his sophmore slump? Is Street really the guy? Will Corpas be as good of a set-up man as in 07? The list goes on. We’ll know in September…… That’s how long it will take to sort this division out.

There are some things I can say though. Helton is confident and healthy for now. The Rockies believe that Franklin did fix his control. Corpas wants his job back and he’s going to play for it.

Here’s what I like the best: “Rox look to shock the baseball world as underdog.” Hello….. That’s what you do best!!!!!!!! That’s what every Denver sports team does best. Sweeping the Yankees, making the play-offs, winning 8 straight play-off games. That is what you do Rockies. You make other teams feel like s#$@ for losing to you. Deflate your NL champ heads and play like no one thought you belonged there. Do it, and you’re the 2009 NL champs.

And for my grand finale: Yankees win the world series. A-Rod, Texiera, Jeter, Posada, Wang, Sabathia, Chamberland……. You can’t beat this team. NYY, TB, Bos….. In that order.

 

 

“Rox look to shock baseball world as underdog” from Coloradorockies.com

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Whole lotta nada

The Rockies are in first place!….. for losses in the Cactus League. Of course, I could care less because of the fact that baseball is being played. I can turn on the TV or computer and not have to hear about steroids every day and I must say it’s a great feeling! Only 34 days until we kick it off officially!

 

For King of Cali:

“What do you think about your team trading Matt Holliday? I think they should have waited till the trading deadline and got more for him than what they got from Oakland.”

Holliday was actually willing to take a pay cut to stay with the organization. That’s a pretty bold statement from both him (with Scott Boras as his agent) and for the Rockies. It showed a lot of dedication by an incredible game maker to even start heading that way with a possible negotiation. On the Rockies’ part, it showed that making money is thier only concern. They picked up three players for one price tag and no one remarkable at that. I don’t think the ownership group has ever really sought a World Series title since 1993. It was especially agravating to see the Monfort brothers on TV in 1997 gloating about how they were “so proud” and “built this team” when they have done nothing with it. In my opinion, as long as seats are filled the Rockies ownership group could care less about winning. We have “Tulo”, by far the most over-rated player on the team (Although he is still developing), and brought in Marquis for a name to help sell tickets. With all of that said though, I should mention that our farm system is actually rather impressive. They are turning out good up-and-comers at an increadible rate. Much like a Cubs fan, I don’t think a Rockies fan could truely enjoy a game without having a love of baseball. Back to Holliday, at a local (although national franchise) memorabilia shop, Holliday came in for a signing day. They sold autographs for individuals and then had a few dozen pieces signed for the store. They didn’t have anything signed that had a mention of the Rockies. He thought he was going to St Louis, we hoped he was going to NY. In the end, we all knew he was leaving and the price tag was going to be low.

The “S” word: S%#@o*&$#

The United States Drug Enforcement Agency used to have a peculiar hiring requirement. They stated that to be employed with the agency, you would be required to hold a four-year degree from an accredited school and have no prior drug use. I’ve heard the argument before, “How do they expect you to go to college for four years and have never used marijuana.” Is the argument valid? I don’t think that’s for me to comment on but of course there is an atmosphere of pressure involved in the college years. The lax attitude, everyone seems to be using it, it’s easy to get, etc. all give pressure. Does that make it right to do? Again, not for me to comment on but it can’t be disputed that it is illegal.

What does this have to do with baseball you ask? The hottest baseball topic at the time: Steroids. With that said, I need to add a few disclaimers: First: I hate this topic and oddly it is the reason for this post. Second: In no way am I endorsing the use of steroids or any drug. Third: I’m not trying to make excuses for other people’s mistakes. Please feel free to sound off and leave me a comment on what you think of this but please at least read all of the post before you do so.

In case you don’t own a tv, computer, radio or simply don’t have friends, Sports Illustrated released an article over the weekend stating that Alex Rodriguez used steroids in 2003. This news began a renewed flurry of reports and anger towards baseball, and who better to do it with than the highest paid major leaguer who plays for the “hated” Yankees.

This news can easily be lumped into BALCO and the Mitchell report but please don’t get these confused. A-Rod used Primobolan not Victor Conte’s Tetrahydrogestrinone. Primobolan is and was in 2003 an illegal substance. Tetrahydrogestrinone was added specifically as an illegal substance in 2003 after Dr Don Catlin discovered a testing procedure for it, though it was still an illegal substance because of a blanket law prohibiting anabolic steroids. A-Rod used a flat out illegal and detectable substance. Conte’s BALCO was subjected to a search warrant which revealed lists of numerous MLB players as clients (On a side note, these lists were not within the scope of the warrant and became what is known as “fruit of the poisonous tree” and subsequently dropped). Due to implication of this “scandal” Major League Baseball banned performance enhancing drugs because of the public outrage thus giving way to this “startling” A-Rod revelation.

I do agree that steroids should not be in baseball. No crime should be in baseball. What I don’t agree with is the argument that “so and so isn’t the true ____ king because of ____.” Science evolves us as humans the same as the game of baseball has evolved to make itself better. We have more knowledge than in the past that helps our bodies become more efficient athletes. Even Gatorade helps athletes excel though not to the extent that Steroids do (Hence why they are banned now). Evolution in the game of baseball has helped players excel as well. Did Maris play baseball in the same aspect as Ruth? Did McGwire play in the same human aspect as Maris?

Steroids are a human epidemic. They are not a baseball epidemic. I brought Marijuana into this topic because it falls along similar lines of A-Rod’s story from 2001 – 2003. Regardless of personal opinions on the substance, Marijuana is growing to be socially acceptable yet it is illegal. Six years ago, steroids were becoming socially acceptable within the players circle of baseball yet it was still illegal. Substitute the name of the drug and the social circle it revolves around and you may not be so quick to judge.

Major League Ball allowed steroids to become acceptable because they simply didn’t test. “Its illegal so they shouldn’t be using it, right?” Athlete or not, these players are human. They will exploit you if you don’t care about it. My mom always said, “If Billy jumped off a bridge would you do it too?” The honest answer: “Yep, you never told me not to mom.”

It angers me that it doesn’t seem to matter that a player broke the law as much as it matters what statistics the act effected. Bonds, Rodriguez, Clemons…. They are felons. They are NOT bad athletes. They circumvented the laws of the United States to do their jobs better. In my mind they all did it. That was an era and evolution of baseball. No asterisks, buts or exceptions, it was just the way the game was played at the time. That’s baseball’s fault.

 That’s it. That’s the article. I’m not going to tie up loose ends or answer all the questions. That’s for you to decide. Consumers feed the media so how will you feed it? Did the players destroy the game of baseball by synthetic performance or did baseball destroy itself by employing criminals? What is more important, stats or role models? It doesn’t matter to me. 2009 is 2009. I don’t care about careers stats or records broken. If a player uses steroids they will be caught and punished in 2009. All I care about is how many of 162 games the Rockies will win. Why? Because I still love baseball now and today.

How do I watch baseball…. Let me count the ways.

Since I’ve deleted all of 2008’s posts, you may not know that I am also a Yankees fan (think of it what you will). More or less, just love baseball in general, excluding only those damned Red Sox (Rockies fans can unite with me on this one too). Regardless of whom you like and don’t like, unless you live in your teams local market, you would be lucky to catch every game on TV. So, for all of you misplaced fans, this post is for you. I’ll try to list each way you can catch your team’s games from best to worst:

1. In the stadium

This one is obviously a no-brainer. If you can afford season tickets this is the way to go. In 2008 my season tickets were in the Pavilion (Outfield area but excluding the Rockpile) and they ran about a thousand dollars per seat. The seats are metal benches with no cup holders, the beer man (Cpt. Earthman) has a cell phone for at your seat service, and the surrounding fans are great. The Catch? 81 games. It’s hard and takes a lot of dedication to sit through 81 games but it’s well worth it with lots of memories if you can fork up the cash and will.

 

2. Local broadcasts.

If you live in the local territory and can’t make it to the game, this is you’re option. If you have an HD tv, great! If you don’t, buy one! Fox Sports Network has pledged to broadcast 150 games in HD through 2020 (this is up from 63 in 2007). The unfortunate thing is Comcast doesn’t have a dedicated FSN feed and they only provide occasional HD feeds through their “MOJO” channel. DirecTV on the other hand does have a dedicated HD FSN feed. You’ll see a lot of Comcast bashing as we go on (though honestly I hate DirecTV) so you may want to think about switching. HD is far worth the extra $5.00 – $10.00 you’ll spend on it so gear up for Rockapril!

 

3. MLB.TV

This is either a huge plus or minus for some. For $109.00 per year, you can get access to MLB.TV. It’s offered through MLB.com and has some very cool features if you have the right set up. Here’s what I mean by “set up”:  For about a hundred bucks you can get an HD video card for your computer. You can hook your computer up to your TV and… Shazaam! You can watch HD video feeds right on your tv. Yes, the feeds are in HD! The quality is actually very good and I never knew the difference between a cable feed or an internet feed when I used it. The “cool features” I spoke of is the fact that you can watch four games at the same time….. yup, four. You also get the MLB channel and can replay any recent game. You can also watch it at work….. wait, I never said that (but if I did, you could take advantage of the “Boss” button which switches to a web page recommending your boss for an award).

 

4. The MLB Extra Innings.

In last place (for television) comes the MLB Extra Innings package. In 2007, Major League Baseball sold exclusive rights for the package to DirecTV. That is, until Senator John Kerry decided to intervene. As the congressional flag began to waive, MLB decided that Comcast could still offer the package if they paid a hefty fee, which they did. So, as it stands now you can purchase the pack from $150.00 to $200.00 per year. It offers most games for the day and a few per day in HD (Which is advertised for Comcast but I have yet to see). The biggest drawback is that Fox owns the rights to all games on Saturday until 2:00. The Fox exclusive deal applies to every package I listed above though. For those with DirecTV that are looking to skate past this package using the SPORT PACK line-up, you’ll be disappointed. Though you can get great supplemental channels like YES and NESN, the games are blacked out and require you to purchase this package.

 

5. Sirius XM

XM comes with most MLB radio broadcasts as a standard feature and with the merger of Sirius and XM radio, you can get MLB radio broadcasts on Sirius radio for about $4.00 more. It’s certainly not as good as seeing the game but baseball is baseball and cash doesn’t seem to be in anyone’s pocket right now. If this is your option and you go for it, then this simply means one thing: you are a true baseball fan.

 

6. MLB Gamecast.

For the rest of us with a low bandwidth internet connection at work, I give you MLB Gamecast. You can access it from your phone or computer, it’s free, and it’ll keep you intune with the baseball universe. It’s a cartoon MLB game but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. MLB, ESPN, Yahoo, blah blah blah, offers it. It’s everywhere. MLB.com is what I prefer but take your pick.

Selig’s Swell Salary

 Thumbing through the news and buzz on the internet, I can’t seem to stop reading about Bud Selig’s 17.47 million dollar salary for 2008. He reportedly made more than any player but three and since I hate the “players make too much money” discussions, I’ll put to rest my feelings on the subject.

 

 I’ll start with player salaries first:

 Major League Baseball, like every professional sport, is a business. The baseball business happens to be worth $5,500,000,000. No, that’s not million. That’s billion. Now I’ll direct you to the average, ordinary guy who is sitting at his cubicle, cash register….. whatever. That guy is the poor guy who is making the money for his company. How much of a share of his multi-billion dollar company’s profit is he making? Not as much as a player’s share (which seems to be what upsets people). Isn’t it only fair to let the people that make you money get thier share? In my mind it absolutely is. Professional sports, as a whole, seems to be the only employers that give a fair share to their employees. Alex Rodriguez, over-paid or not, makes Major League Baseball money. Therefore, he gets his piece. This is the way business SHOULD work and people shouldn’t get mad because thiers doesn’t. They should use this as an example of a good business model and strive to follow suit.

 With that said, Bud Selig is the head of this organization. The fact that three employees below him make more money is better than I can say for the rest of civilization. Sure, Bud has had his slips and falls (like BALCO, but I’ll save that for another day) but never the less the baseball industry is still thriving (7.7% increase in 2007). The overseer of that organization should get his cut too. $17.47 million or not.

 The monetary figures from this entry is courtesy of Forbes.

The Toddfather

 

It has always been my opinion that baseball is the ultimate team game. At no point can you be carried by one player, it just doesn’t work that way. Payrolls don’t mean as much as they do in other sports because baseball simply boils down to the cohesiveness of the team. The Yankees, for example, have a long track record of high payrolls (which despite popular opposition is a good thing in my mind). Yet, the Yankees haven’t won a World Series title in eight years, much less haven’t visited the Series in seven years. Where am I going with this? The Holliday / Helton debacle…..

 

It doesn’t really matter where you visit. Yahoo, MSN, Facebook, MLB.com…… regardless of your source, Helton’s contract was a bad idea. In retrospect, Holliday’s trade is attributed to the payroll that Helton sucks up and I’ll buy that to a point. In reality, Scott Boras would have ultimately dictated the price for Holliday and Colorado simply isn’t the correct market for him to succeed as a high dollar player. Regardless, Holliday is gone and Helton is still going to make 56.9 Million dollars over the next three years.

 

The bottom line is this: Helton, like every other player on the payroll, has a role to fill. Helton needs to be a leader and that’s what he’s paid for. Tell me that in 2007 there wasn’t any “win one for the Toddfather” talk in the clubhouse and I’ll show you a liar. He’s inspiration for an exceptionally young team. These aren’t the Blake Street Bombers we’re talking about. These are the low budget kids that the Monfort’s knew they could staff until they played well and could arbitrate for more money. They need Helton whether he can play up to the money or not. For the total payroll the Rockies have, the role is needed in the grand scheme of cohesiveness. After all, isn’t that what wins titles?

 

February means one thing…..

Today, February 1st, is Super Bowl Sunday. A spectacle raking in millions of dollars and television viewers will kick off and signify one thing to me: two weeks until pitchers and catchers report for spring training. That’s right, trade in your pucks and helmets for an all new baseball season!

 

snow.jpgIn Colorado, the snow is still bound to fall….. but in a magical land where cactus and grapefruit grow, so too will the 2009 MLB season. While looking forward to the new season, here is my list of things to look forward to until April:

 

Wishful Thinking: The day that EA Sports and MLB can come to an agreement on a licensing deal. Electronic Arts has demonsrated (for twenty years now) that it is tops is sports related video gaming. Nothing against 2K Sports, but they have a long ways to go.

 

01/28/2009: MLB Front Office Manager (2K Sports) was released.

 I have yet to read a review and the idea of it seems terribly boring but it marks the first 2009 MLB game to be released for the year. For people like me, it’s a needed break from the sub-par sports of winter.

 

02/14/2009: Pitchers and Catchers report for spring training.

Sure, it’s not televised, it doesn’t scratch the baseball itch and certainly doesn’t make the headlines. But it’s always nice to know that the boys of summer are back (some of them anyways).

 

02/22/2009: Mandatory reporting date for spring training.

For those of you with the time and money to venture to Florida or Arizona, I am jealous. I’ve never had the opportunity to attend spring training but I hear it’s the place to be. Tickets start at four bucks and is always worth it. The Rockies will kick it off against Arizona on the 25th at Hi Corbett.

03/02/2009: MLB 2K9 is released.

If the game only came with hot dog and grass smell. This day will signify the day that the Rockies will win the World Series…. if it was decided on a video game.

 

03/05/2009: World Baseball Classic starts.

Ahhh, what a way to disrupt needed practice, evaluation and bonding by throwing in an Olympic-esque series of games that no one cares about. Regardless of my opinion on the Classic, it starts the month before opening day and will lead us up to the real stuff. 

04/01/2009: Last day to place a player on Waivers

“So long, and thanks for all the fish.” They didn’t need you…. but the Rockies will still pick you up!….. so long as you don’t want a big paycheck.

04/05/2009: Opening Night – Braves v. Phillies

No new stadiums to show off this year for opening night, just good ol’ baseball.