Saturday, March 31, 2012

YU-GEE-OH!

The Cubs unleashed Yu Darvish on the Colorado Rockies on Friday night.
Darvish pitched 6 innings, allowed 6 hits, 3 runs and struck out 11.
Chicago won 5-3.

Friday, March 30, 2012

AS FAMILIAR WITH THE WORKS OF J.R.R. TOLKIEN AS HE IS WITH THE GRIP OF EDDIE CICOTTE

"It is a life that can make you a perennial adolescent, where your needs and whims are catered to, and narcissism is as prevalent as sunflower seeds, a life that is about as un-family-friendly as you can imagine."

- On being a professional baseball player
- R.A. Dickey

If you read this blog, you're well aware that the HBWHOF loves the knuckleball.
I reserve a special place in my heart for the boys on the mound who can make that ball dance: Jim Bouton, Tom Candiotti, Charlie Hough, the Niekro brothers - Joe & Phil, Hoyt Wilhelm, Tim Wakefield and, currently, the lone keeper of the flame - R.A. Dickey.
The last couple of years I've watched Wake and Dickey every chance I could. Now, Wakefield has retired and only Dickey is left.
I've always liked the look of R.A. Dickey. Long hair, beard - the kind of dude who makes the Yankees front office shudder. But, now, I find out there there is a very complex human being behind the hair and the knuckleball.
R.A. Dickey has a book coming out. An autobiography entitled, Wherever I Wind Up that is to be published in a few days.
The book chronicles a difficult childhood and a hard road to the major leagues.
An alcoholic mother, poverty, sexual abuse, infidelity, a broken marrige and a nomadic lifestyle. Dickey is an enigma. A dude who's as familiar with the works of J.R.R. Tolkien as he is with the grip of Eddie Cicotte.
It appears that R.A. Dickey has, finally, found a home. He signed a two-year, $4.25 million contract with the New York Mets last year and I hope the cat has a great season. I'm really looking forward to his book.

Here's an excerpt from Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey's new book, which appears in the April, 2, 2012 issue of Sports Illustrated:
Wherever I Wind Up


Thursday, March 29, 2012

CESPEDES GOES DEEP...IS ZUMAYA'S CAREER OVER?

The Oakland A's took Game 2 in Japan, defeating the Seattle Mariners 4-1.
Bartolo Colon went 8 innings, allowed 3 hits, 1 run, 1 walk and fired 6 Ks.
Jonny Gomes, Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes hit dingers.
A's rookie Cespedes cranked a two-run shot for his first official big league homer.



Former Tigers' hurler Joel Zumaya is undergoing Tommy John surgery today.
So, naturally, the Minnesota Twins released him on Wednesday to make room on their 40-man roster.
Zumaya tore his ulnar collateral ligament during his first bullpen session of spring training.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

OPENING DAY IN JAPAN

The Athletics and Mariners officially opened the MLB season on Wednesday.
Seattle defeated Oakland 3-1.
Everybody came out to see Ichiro Suzuki - and he didn't disappoint - Ichiro went 4-for-5 with an RBI.



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

THE CARDBOARD FLYING DUTCHMAN

Someone is going to have a big payday today.
A Houston businessman is putting his 1909 T206 Honus Wagner baseball card up for auction.
The auction begins today and bidding continues until April 19th.
The Wagner card is the Holy Grail of sports collectibles and is expected to fetch at
least $1 million, and perhaps as much as $1.5 million, in the online auction.
It is believed that only 60 of the 1909 Wagner cards still exist, but many are in poor condition.
In 2011, Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick paid a record $2.8 million for the highest-graded Wagner card in existence.
The T206 series were included in cigarette packs sold by the American Tobacco Co. from 1909 to 1911. What makes the card so rare is that the American Tobacco Co. ended production of the card after only about 200 cards were distributed to the public. Wagner refused to allow production of his baseball card to continue, either because he did not want children to buy cigarette packs to get his card, or because he wanted more compensation from the American Tobacco Co.


Monday, March 26, 2012

THE LAND OF THE RISING SUN

The HBWHOF has a Japanese theme this week.
On Sunday, the Seattle Mariners lost 5-1 to the Hanshin Tigers in an exhibition game at the Tokyo Dome.
A crowd of 42,139 were on hand to applaud everything Ichiro.
Ichiro Suzuki went 1 for 4 with a single in the first inning.



The Oakland Athletics beat the Yomiuri Giants 5-0 in their exhibition game.
Kurt Suzuki hit a two-run homer in the top of the seventh inning and Tommy Milone pitched five scoreless innings to help the A's win.

The Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics play each other on Wednesday and Thursday to open the MLB season.

In other Japanese-related news, Texas Rangers' rookie hurler Yu Darvish pitched 5 innings in an intrasquad game. He struck out 11 batters and allowed 6 hits and 4 runs.
Darvish went 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA last year for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan's Pacific League.
In January the Rangers signed Darvish to a 6-year, $60 million dollar contract.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

CULTURAL DIVIDE

I am truly intrigued by Japanese baseball.
In Japan the game is highly revered. It is the nation's most popular sport.
Americans introduced baseball to Japan in the 1870's.
The Japanese take their baseball seriously. Japan has won both World Baseball Classics and it has produced a few of MLB's best players - think Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui.
There is a vast cultural divide between the United States and Japan when it comes to the game of baseball.
I remember watching an interview with current Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine, who managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of the Japanese Pacific League for several years. Valentine was working for ESPN when he and Orel Hershiser and Dan Shulman began commenting on how disgusting a major league dugout looks in the late innings of a game - sunflower seeds, gum wrappers and spilled drinks littering the dugout. Valentine commented that Japanese dugouts remain pristine throughout the course of a game!
Another huge difference is the manner in which the game is played. In America the fans dig the long ball. It's all about offensive output. In Japan they play 'small ball.' Defense is the first priority.
The Oakland A's and Seattle Mariners are currently in Japan and, this week, will play exhibition games against the Yomiuri Giants and the Hanshin Tigers.
Here's a little description from the San Francisco Chronicle:

Japanese baseballs are slightly smaller and harder than major-league baseballs; in the exhibition games, the Yomiuri and Hanshin pitchers will throw Mizuno-made Japanese balls, and the A's pitchers will throw standard Rawlings baseballs.
The exhibition games against Japanese teams are eye-openers for American players. The Japanese clubs warm up quite a bit differently - they use two batting cages at once, doubling the action on the field. Fans sing team songs during the game and wave flags, and they are a positive bunch. You won't hear heckling or booing from a Japanese crowd.
Beer is sold in the crowd by young women with small kegs strapped to their backs, and sake is available in cans at the stadium...

Back in 1934 Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove and other major leaguers visited Japan as part of a goodwill team that played against an All-Japan team made up primarily of Tokyo Six University League Team players. The American team was managed by Connie Mack the American team won all 18 games of the series...





The evolution of Japanese baseball has progressed quite nicely.
First pitch...



Yomiuri Giants mascot Giabbit with the Oakland A's Stomper...



Hot Baseball Wife Hall of Famer Amanda McCarthy signing in Japan...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

THE BOOMSTICK?...NICE!

The HBWHOF digs the dog!
So, I'm lovin' this - just days away from Opening Day, the Texas Rangers have announced that their newest ballpark entrée is the MOTHER OF ALL WIENERS!
This bad boy measures 2-feet and weighs 1 lb...it's served-up on a custom-made bun and topped with shredded cheese, chili and sauteed onions...



The price tag on this tube-steak is $26!!!
The MonsterDog goes by two names: If you dine in the Captain Morgan Club you're chowing on a "Champion Dog." If you're one of the great unwashed and you buy this baby from a concession stand it's called the "Boomstick."

My first destination inside the ballpark is the beer & hotdog stand.
From the Leo's Coney dogs at Comerica to the loaded Chicago-style dogs at Wrigley Field to the Fenway Frank in Boston to Nathan's Famous at Yankee Stadium - I love me some hot doggies!
So, here's a little HBWHOF salute to the wiener...







Thursday, March 22, 2012

THE PIGEONS IN MILWAUKEE WILL BE HAPPY

This is soooo sweet.
Guess who's being honoured with a statue outside Miller Park?
Bob Uecker - that's who!!
The Hall of Fame radio voice of the Brewers will be celebrated with a bronze monument which will stand alongside statues of Hank Aaron, Robin Yount and Commissioner Bud Selig.
Uecker's statue will be unveiled on August 31st.





Wednesday, March 21, 2012

RIP MEL PARNELL

Legendary Red Sox hurler Mel Parnell has died.
The left-hander spent his entire 10-year career with Boston and, to this day, still ranks 4th in club victories behind Cy Young(192), Roger Clemens(192) and Tim Wakefield(188). Parnell had a career 123-75 record.
Parnell enjoyed his best season in 1949, when he went 25-7, leading the American League in victories, ERA(2.77), complete games(27) and innings(295.1). He was the starting pitcher in the 1949 All-Star Game.
He pitched a no-hitter on July 14, 1956 against the Chicago White Sox at Fenway.
Mel Parnell passed away March 20th at his home in New Orleans.
He was 89 years old.

Ted Williams, Mel Parnell and Johnny Pesky in 1949...





Monday, March 19, 2012

CABRERA BLOODIED...LESTER STARTING...AMANDA POSING

A bad thing happened today.
In a game between the Phillies and the Tigers, Phillies' outfielder Hunter Pence smoked a bad-ass, one-hopper that caught Miguel Cabrera right in the face!
Cabrera was wearing shades and the ball hit him near the right eye.
He was taken to the hospital for stitches and X-rays.




Newly appointed Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine announced, today, that Jon Lester would be Boston's Opening Day starter against Justin Verlander and the Tigers on April 5th in Detroit.



And - I've been remiss in getting around to this - here's Hot Baseball Wife Hall of Famer Amanda McCarthy, and hubby Brandon, on the cover of ESPN the Magazine...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012

THE GOLDEN ASS & THE GOLDEN ARM

Rihanna's Ass Pimps For Armani



If I had the opportunity to meet anyone who has ever played the game of baseball, I'd have ONLY two choices - the first would be Ted Williams...the second - Sandy Koufax.
Mr. Koufax paid a visit to the New York Mets spring training facility in Port St. Lucie recently. Koufax is a lifelong friend of Mets' owner Fred Wilpon and can't go to Dodgertown since the Boys of Summer moved to Arizona.
Man, I'd LOVE to shake hands with Sandy Koufax...