It breaks your heart.  It is designed to break your heart.  The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.

~A. Bartlett Giamatti, “The Green Fields of the Mind,” Yale Alumni Magazine, November 1977




Pat Venditte throws with both arms in appearance for Yankees

Yahoo Sport – By ‘Duk

Hey look, Stewies! Both hands!

Now that Pat Venditte has taken the mound in a Yankees uniform, I think it’s safe to say we’ve seen everything there is to see this spring training.

Yup, might as well pack up the kids, start the station wagon and head for home because how else are we going to top a pitcher making an ambidextrous appearance while wearing a specially-designed glove with six finger slots so he can wear in on either hand?

We’re probably not, which is why all camps should have shut down after Venditte, the Yankees’ young switch pitcher, left Tuesday’s game against the Braves after giving up one run, two hits and a walk against seven batters in 1.1 innings of work in Orlando.

And here you thought Mickey Mouse was the most versatile character in the Magic Kingdom.

That Venditte goes both ways with his arms and is a one-of-a-kind pitcher for this generation doesn’t exactly qualify as a breaking story. The 24-year-old made plenty of headlines when the Yankees drafted him out of Creighton in 2008 and his arrival in the pro ranks caused the Professional Baseball Umpires Corporation to create a rule crafted especially for him. Before each batter, Venditte must visually signal to the umpire and batter which arm he intends to exclusively use during that at-bat.

The reason that Venditte is on your browser today is because Tuesday marked the first time he wore the Yankees’ big league uniform against another major league team. After eight warmup pitches — four with each arm — he relieved CC Sabathia(notes) with two outs in the fifth, pitching righty to the righthanded Yunel Escobar(notes) and ending the inning on a groundout to third.

The real action didn’t start until the top of the sixth, when Venditte pitched righthanded against righty Matt Diaz(notes) (single), lefty against leftthanded Nate McLouth(notes) (sac bunt) and righty against righty Clint Sammons(notes) (walk). Things got even more interesting later in the inning when he declared righty against switch-hitter Brooks Conrad(notes), who opted to bat lefty but ended up grounding out to end Venditte’s day anyway.

The outing created some excitement in the stands, but also some confusion in the Yankees dugout, where Sabathia displayed an unfamiliarity with the Yankees’ unique farmhand…


The Pimping of Kiana Kim

Associated Content – Sherry Tomfeld

Pete Rose, once baseball’s darling, then baseball’s scourge is at it again. Peter Rose who is 68 is pimping out his girlfriend, Kiana Kim to the nude modeling profession. Kiana Kim who is in her twenties is about to take part in an audition for Playboy. (Pimping as in: to advertise, promote.)

Touting how lovely and hot Kiana Kim is, Pete Rose is “managing” her modeling debut. She’s beautiful, young and educated says Pete Rose. Let’s just hope that the Playboy people like her.” Call me old and out of touch, but here we go again with an old fart trying to be somebody (again) with a young and highly developed gal on his arm.

Why would Kiana Kim want to have nude photos taken? Let’s see, she’s young, there’s money, celebrity and attention to be gained, all in one swoop. It would appear that no one is watching out for what’s best for Kiana Kim. It sure isn’t Pete Rose. Another girl gone astray and about to make headlines. One of many that have gone the Playboy/nude route and Kiana Kim won’t be the last.

The thing that makes this story a bit different is that a one time baseball hero named Pete Rose is acting sort of like a pimp. (Pimping in this case meaning to advertise or to promote.)Pimping out a girlfriend for nude photo shots is beyond the pale. Pete Rose, who could be seen recently hosting the WWE RAW apparently is running from his age. Sorry Pete, pimping out Kiana Kim is NOT going to make you more handsome and swarthy as you may or may not have been in your earlier years. A wanna be is not pretty Pete. But take heart, you are not alone, although I don’t think Clooney actually got involved in the managing of his girlfriend’s nude pictures.

Nudity is not new to the aging Pete Rose. The photograper for the Playboy shoot allegedly is Mikki Chernoff. She is a former Playboy model and former girlfriend of Peter Rose…



2010 National League Predictions

NYT – By TYLER KEPNER

National League East

1. Phillies – Adding Roy Halladay was like the Yankees acquiring Roger Clemens after winning two World Series; there’s no chance complacency sets in. Placido Polanco is a big offensive upgrade over Pedro Feliz at third, and the bench is better.

2. Braves (wild card) – Bobby Cox finishes with a playoff team as Tommy Hanson emerges as an ace atop a tough rotation. The rookie outfielder Jason Heyward has a lot of expectations on him, so it will help if Troy Glaus is healthy and productive, too.

3. Mets – It’s hard to put too much faith in John Maine, Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez. But they’re young enough to still have potential, and maybe the Mets can take advantage of their spacious park. The offense should be much better, and impact young talent is on the way.

4. Marlins – There are too many rotation questions behind the brilliant Josh Johnson, but the talent just keeps coming. Keep an eye on the slugging outfielder Mike Stanton in the minors, and watch how Cameron Maybin develops in the majors.

5. Nationals – President Obama will throw out the first pitch on opening day, making his first trip to a Nats game well before his beloved White Sox come to town in June. No word if he will sign an executive order to bring Stephen Strasburg to town right away.

National League Central

1. Reds – With Homer Bailey and Aroldis Chapman, the potential is there for a stingy rotation if they can handle the cozy home ballpark. Their infield is terrific, Joey Votto is a star, and Jay Bruce has a chance to be a difference-maker.

2. Cardinals – In Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, they have two dominant starters. In Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, they have two elite hitters. There’s just not a lot besides that, though Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan always seem to find a way.

3. Brewers – Rick Peterson can do only so much with a rotation that fell apart in 2009. Randy Wolf and Doug Davis help, but not enough to reward a bruising offense with a playoff berth.

4. Cubs – They built their franchise around Alfonso Soriano, who in 2010 will begin making $18 million annually for the next five seasons. He’s 34, doesn’t run much anymore, and had a .303 on-base percentage last season. The Cubs also have serious bullpen issues.

5. Pirates – They’re going about it the right way, but this seems like a bridge year to 2011, when another impact hitter (Pedro Alvarez) may be ready, and the rotation will have more experience.

6. Astros – Give the team owner Drayton McLane credit: the Astros have not had consecutive losing seasons since he bought the team in 1993. But the Astros needed to do more to address the pitching after a 74-88 finish last year, and they lost a big bat in Miguel Tejada.

National League West

1. Rockies – It’s all coming together for the majors’ deepest team. The Rockies have power, speed, exceptional defense and a sturdy rotation. Their bullpen is a concern with Huston Street starting the season on the disabled list, but that’s something they can fix on the fly.

2. Dodgers – The increasingly bizarre details of the McCourts’ divorce case (Jamie considered a White House run!) won’t affect the team’s focus. But a weaker starting rotation will lead to a greater dependence on the bullpen, and the Rockies simply have more talent.

3. Diamondbacks – This team’s core is running out of time to prove that the 2007 N.L.C.S. season was not a fluke. To do it, Brandon Webb needs to be himself, and the early signs of his progress from shoulder surgery have not been encouraging.

4. Giants – If nothing else, it’s refreshing how quickly the face of the franchise has changed from the arrogant and defiant Barry Bonds to the humble and fan-friendly Tim Lincecum and Pablo Sandoval.

5. Padres – The Padres were actually four games over .500 after the All-Star break last season. But only the most serious fans could name more than a handful of players. With Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell popular targets in trade talks, things may get worse before they get better.




2010 American League Predictions

American League

East

New York Yankees (104-58) – Will win the division with an improved team both offensively and defensively over the 2009 team. The Yankees have Gardner penciled in at Left and they may sign a veteran soon, but who?

Boston Red Sox (94-68) – They have added John Lackey, but still have offensive worries now that Bay is gone and Mike Lowell’s health issues. David Ortiz is a year older and is looking to rebound off an awful start in 2009. Wild Card team, but watch out for the Mariners or Angels.

Tampa Bay Rays (82-80) – Nothing different than last year after an incredible 2008 campaign, but that is long removed and 2010 will not be any better than last season.

Toronto Blue Jays (72-90) – The neighbors north may just embrace hockey this season knowing their Blue Jays will be among the walking wounded. They made little or no progress during the winter meetings.

Baltimore Orioles (64-98) – Same old crap, same old cellar dwellers.

Central

Minnesota Twins (90-72) – With Mauer and a Morneau healthy, the Twinkies should win the division. They also have other offensive powers in Michael Cuddyer (32 HRs) and Jason Kubel (103 RBI).

Detroit Tigers (81-81) – They lost Curtis Granderson and 30 home runs and only have 3 strong offensive players in Miguel Cabrera, Brandon Inge and Magglio Ordonez. They do have Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello, but that won’t be enough to contend for a division title.

Chicago White Sox (80-82) – The song remains the same for Ozzie’s gang. They have Paul Konerko their offensive leader and Mark Buehrl, but the South Siders will need a lot more to stay competitive in the Central.

Kansas City Royals (64-98) – At least they didn’t finish last in 2009, but they’re still not going any where fast, unless Zack Greinke can start 80 games this year which would be 1900’s baseball.

Cleveland Indians (62-100) – What a mess this Indians team will be in 2010. It will be like watching the movie Major League before they found a way to win. The new addition of Carl Pavano may give them a few more wins over last year, but not enough to be competitive.

West

Los Angeles Angels (97-65) – They added Hideki Matsui for some needed offense after losing Chone Figgins. They lost their big arm in John Lackey to the Red Sox and this could make a difference on whether they win the division or not.

Seattle Mariners (94-68) – They have the best one-two punch in newly signed Cliff Lee and their big man King Felix Hernandez. They also signed Chone Figgins for some needed offense. This team has made some nice moves this winter and should be much improved and possible make a run for the division or worst case a Wild Card bid.

Texas Rangers (82-80) – Andruw Jones will barely make a difference this year for the Rangers. They didn’t have one player with 100 RBIs in 2009. They will be a little worse than their 2009 record.

Oakland Athletics (79-83) – It’s not going to be a fun 2010 campaign for the Athletics. They added Justin Duchscherer who could have a decent season if he stays healthy physically and mentally.



Dodgers Announcer Vin Scully Released from Hospital

KTLA

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully is doing well after being hospitalized overnight.

Dodgers spokesman Josh Rawitch said Scully, 82, got up from bed too quickly at his home, fell and bumped his head.

He was admitted at West Hills Hospital and Medical Center Thursday night as a precaution.

He remained there for observation overnight and was released Friday morning.

The veteran announcer was expected to be at Camelback Ranch-Glendale in Arizona this weekend to broadcast the Dodgers’ exhibition game Sunday against the Cleveland Indians, Rawitch said.

Scully, who is entering his 61st season broadcasting for the Dodgers, entered the Hall of Fame in 1982.

His tenure with the Dodgers is the longest of any current sports broadcaster with the same team.

Scully calls all nine innings of the team’s television broadcasts, while the first three innings of his games are simulcast on the radio.



‘Firm but fair,’ Cox enters final season leading Braves

Palatka Daily News – By Mark Blumenthal

LAKE BUENA VISTA – Jeff Porter joined the Atlanta Braves as an assistant athletic trainer before the 1985 season. After that season, Bobby Cox returned to Atlanta as the Braves’ general manager.

Porter said Cox is the same man he first met, though these days, he’s “calmed just a bit.”

“He certainly hasn’t wavered,” said Porter, now the Braves’ head trainer. “He’s changed some of his rules as time’s gone on, but that’s the beauty of him. He had different rules with dress codes and sunglasses, and he adapted with the times. We were one of the last teams, if not the last team to wear sunglasses on the field. For a long time, we stayed with just flip-downs. The players liked the sunglasses better and he adapted.

“He’s firm but fair. He’s a great leader and treats everybody so good and is just a great person … a great man.”

Like Porter, many who have known the 68-year-old Cox — whether it for a short time or longer — have come to admire him. And to those in the organization currently, the 2010 season will be a special one for at least one reason.

This will be Cox’s last year as the Braves’ manager. Starting his 25th year with the Braves in two different stints, Cox announced last season that this would be the final year for him.

“I was disappointed, but at the same time respectful,” Porter said of Cox’s decision to leave after a Hall of Fame career. “He’s getting up there in years now and he wants to be able to spend some time and I’m respectful of that.”

As the Braves’ dynasty was slowly building, it was general manager Cox who had his eye on a young man who was socking home runs as an all-everything shortstop and pitcher for eventual state champion Jacksonville Bolles School.

Chipper Jones, a big deal from the small town of Pierson, was the player that Cox had his crosshairs on when the 1990 MLB Amateur Draft began.

“I got a chance to meet Bobby when I was still in high school at Bolles,” Jones said. “He drafted me with the first pick that (June). I saw him at some games my senior year. I sat down with the Braves a few times to let him get to know me a little bit.

“He was a straight shooter. Bobby was a little more hardline as a general manager, but he’s mellowed out a lot over the years. Managing 30 years in the big leagues will do that to you. He was all business as a general manager in getting this organization rebuilt from the bottom up and, lo and behold, he becomes the manager and cements his name in the history books in doing so.”

And Jones has had a front-row seat in the process. Since joining the Braves in 1993 and becoming an everyday player in 1995, Jones has walloped 426 home runs and driven in 1,445 runs with a lifetime .307 average and, like Pendleton, enjoyed an MVP season in a Braves uniform when he smacked 45 home runs with 110 RBI and hit .319 in helping them reach the World Series for the fifth and final time in that amazing run in 1999.

In his 17th season with the Braves, Jones’ only manager has been Cox.

“As a manager, I’ve always described him as that favorite grandpa,” Jones said. “You have one grandpa that you go out in the backyard and plays catch with you and gives you a $10 bill every time he sees you. It’s why people love coming here to play for him.”

Jones has also had a front row seat to something else Cox owns a record for that most managers don’t want to have — most ejections. Currently, Cox has been ejected 143 times by umpires.

“If you knew Bobby, you know why he has gotten ejected as much as he has,” Jones said. “He’s very passionate, very loyal to his players. If his players have a beef, quite obviously, he’s going to go out there and stick up for them and try to keep them in the game. I can’t tell you how many times during the course of my career he’s kept me in the game by taking the heat off me and putting it on him.”



Robert Joseph “Bobby” Cox (born May 21, 1941 in Tulsa, Oklahoma) is the manager of the Atlanta Braves, and a former third baseman in Major League Baseball. He first led the Braves from 1978 to 1981, and then managed the Toronto Blue Jays from 1982 to 1985. He later rejoined the Braves in 1985 as a general manager.

He moved back to the manager’s role during the 1990 season; as of 2009, Cox is the manager with the longest current tenure in Major League Baseball. He led the Atlanta Braves to the World Series championship in 1995. He holds the all-time record for ejections in Major League Baseball with 151, a record previously held by John McGraw. He ranks 4th on the Baseball All-time Managerial Wins list.

As a player, Cox originally signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but was never able to make the Dodger varsity. Eventually he was acquired by the Braves, but never appeared in an MLB game for them either. Instead, he was traded to the New York Yankees on December 7, 1967. Cox played two seasons, mostly at third base, for the Yanks. Because of bad knees, Cox became the second in a string of four stopgap players between Clete Boyer and Graig Nettles. He played with fellow Oklahoman Mickey Mantle during Mantle’s final season in 1968 and with Thurman Munson during his debut season in 1969.

Cox has been named Manager of the Year four times (1985, 1991, 2004, and 2005) and is one of only four managers to have won the award in both the American and National League. He is also the only person to have won the award in consecutive years. Cox has also been named Manager of the Year by The Sporting News eight times (1985, 1991, 1993, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005).

On May 12, 2007, Cox passed Sparky Anderson to become the fourth-winningest manager in major league history, with a record of 2,195 wins and 1,698 losses. He led the Braves to a division title every season from 1991 to 2005, excluding the strike-shortened 1994 season; the Braves have competed in the National League East since 1994 and competed in the National League West prior to that.

He won a World Series Championship in 1995. In 2001, he took sole possession of first place for most wins as a manager in Braves history. Cox’s .561 winning percentage is fourteenth in all-time among managers with at least 1,000 games managed, and is the second highest among those who managed the majority of their career after the creation of divisions within each league in 1969. On June 8, 2009, Cox won his 2,000th game with the Atlanta Braves, becoming only the fourth manager in Major League history to accomplish that feat with one team.

On September 3, 2008, Cox was ejected for the 143rd time in his Major League coaching career during the fifth inning of a Braves game against the Florida Marlins; he currently holds the all-time record for most ejections (set on August 14, 2007 with his 132nd), previously held by John McGraw. Unlike McGraw, Cox does not have a reputation for having a fiery temper and Cox generally only gets ejected to prevent his players from being ejected.

Cox is also the only person among all players and managers to be ejected from two World Series games (1992 and 1996). He was ejected in the ninth inning of game three of the 1992 World Series for throwing a batting helmet onto the field at the Skydome. Cox was trying to slam the helmet against the lip of the dugout and missed, throwing it onto the field.

Cox was tossed again in the final game of the 1996 World Series after protesting an out call of Marquis Grissom attempting to take second base on a passed ball. Although video replays appeared to show Grissom as safe, umpire Terry Tata called him out, and Cox was tossed in an ensuing argument.

Source:  Wiki



Related Links:

Townhall (George Will): Why Batters Get Hit

AJC: Baseball’s “beautiful marathon” begins today


end

Advertisements