Milwaukee Brewers Weekly Check-In (5-2-11)


If you’re not one of those baseball nerds who follows every single thing going on in the Milwaukee Brewers Organization, don’t worry, because The Sports Bank’s Nick Grays has you covered with what happened in the past week and what’s going on in the future.

And if you are one of those nerds, feel free to join in on some good old analysis of America’s pastime in the Brew City.

This week we go around the NL Central and talk about Zack Greinke’s long awaited debut on Wednesday!

By: Nick Grays [Read more…]

Milwaukee Brewers Weekly Check-In (4-18-11)


If you’re not one of those baseball nerds who follows every single thing going on in the Milwaukee Brewers Organization, don’t worry, because The Sports Bank’s Nick Grays has you covered with what happened in the past week and what’s going on in the future.

And if you are one of those nerds, feel free to join in on some good old analysis of America’s pastime in the Brew City.

This week we talk about the Brewers’ pair of Mexican hurlers, rain-outs and much much more.

By: Nick Grays

[Read more…]

Milwaukee Brewers Weekly Check-In (4-11-11)


If you’re not one of those baseball nerds who follows every single thing going on in the Milwaukee Brewers Organization, don’t worry, because The Sports Bank’s Nick Grays has you covered with what happened in the past week and what’s going on in the future.

And if you are one of those nerds, feel free to join in on some good old analysis of America’s pastime in the Brew City.

This week we talk about the Brewers 5-2 home-stand and Prince Fielder (a.k.a The Cub Killer).

By: Nick Grays
[Read more…]

Milwaukee Brewers Weekly Check-In (4-4-11)


If you’re not one of those baseball nerds who follows every single thing going on in the Milwaukee Brewers Organization, don’t worry, because The Sports Bank’s Nick Grays has you covered with what happened in the past week and what’s going on in the future.

And if you are one of those nerds, feel free to join in on some good old analysis of America’s pastime in the Brew City.

This week we talk about the Brewers depressing series with the Reds and the team going ahead.

By: Nick Grays

[Read more…]

Milwaukee Brewers Weekly Check-In (2-28-11)


If you’re not one of those baseball nerds who follows every single thing going on in the Milwaukee Brewers Organization, don’t worry, because The Sports Bank’s Nick Grays has you covered with what happened in the past week and what’s going on in the future.

And if you are one of those nerds, feel free to join in on some good old analysis of America’s pastime in the Brew City.

This week we talk about the excitement brewing around ticket sales, St. Louis Cardinals RHP Adam Wainwright’s Injury and the upcoming week in Cactus League play!

By: Nick Grays
[Read more…]

When Will the Houston Astros Selling Shoe Drop?

By: Melissa S. Wollering

Humor me for a hot stove moment. The Milwaukee Brewers have a ton of offensive issues. When the pitching is adequate (a rarity some weeks, yes) the bats don’t back it up. When the offense is on fire, the pitching might be as murky as the Menomonee River near the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

So if the Houston Astros start putting up the first signs advertising a summer garage sale in your neighborhood, is Milwaukee right to wheel and deal for a trade?  Would someone like Roy Oswalt make a significant difference or not? Should we look to our farm system instead? Is it too early for me to be asking any of these questions? [Read more…]

Power Rankings and Predictions for the American League

By Jake McCormick

A wrench named Johnny Damon’s Indecision has been thrown into my series on each team’s offseason, so I’ve postponed its continuation for at least a couple days. Instead, with pitchers and catchers reporting this week, it’s only appropriate to make a can’t miss, Vegas busting, no hassle-guaranteed prediction for each team. [Read more…]

MLB division leaders pulling away early…but why?

Playoff picture

By Jake McCormick

Is it just me, or do this year’s MLB division leaders look pretty impressive? The only arguable exception to this would be the AL Central, as the Minnesota Twins continue their yearly routine of being that guy at a party that you think should be passed out as everyone is leaving at 3 a.m., but is still calling for the beer bong. But even in the Central, a division in both leagues that defies all expert predictions on a yearly basis, the Detroit Tigers manage to only let them get close enough to hope before extending the lead back to a comfortable margin.

In fact, the smallest lead, as of today, is Detroit’s 4.5 games on Minnesota. The closest in the National League is in the NL West, where the Los Angeles Dodgers are 5 up on the skidding Colorado Rockies. Every other divisional leader is at least 6 games above their closest competition. On this day last year, only the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Angels were sitting comfortably above a 4.5 game lead. In 2007, only the Angels were more than 4.5 up in the AL West. Given that the Wild Card races are always a close bout (in the National League at least), there has to be a logical explanation to why we can already lock up the 2009 division champions with half a month left to play. After some research, I’ve concluded that yes, the 2009 playoffs have the potential to be the most exciting and evenly matched postseason in recent memory.

teixeira-sabathia-burnettSometimes teams are in the right financial place at the right time. I remember how awesome it was to hear that the economy was hurting every MLB team except for the Empire, who managed to land the far, far away best position and pitching free agents in CC Sabathia and Mark Teixiera. Likewise, the Dodgers picked up three of the top 12 available in Manny Ramirez, without whom they managed to record the best record in the NL at the All-Star Break, Rafael Furcal, and Orlando Hudson.

Going into this season, the 2009 payroll rankings for the current divisional and Wild Card leaders are as follows:

Yankees – 1st
Red Sox – 4th
Tigers – 5th
Angels – 6th

Phillies – 7th
Dodgers – 9th
Cardinals – 13th
Rockies – 18th

Holliday/PujolsGranted one of the hottest teams in the league right now, the St. Louis Cardinals, are not extremely high on this list, but looking at the midseason spending of each of these clubs can also give an indication of why there is a bigger disparity between those at the top of the hill and those attempting to crest it:

Top trading deadline spenders for 2009 (prominent acquisitions listed):

Cardinals: $6.6 M – 1st, Mark DeRosa, Matt Holliday
Red Sox: $4.5 M – 2nd, Victor Martinez, Adam LaRoche
Tigers: $3.6 M – 3rd, Jarrod Washburn
Phillies: $2 M – 6th, Cliff Lee
Rockies: $1.9 M – 7th, Joe Beimel, Rafael Betancourt
Yankees: $1.1 M – 11th, Eric Hinske, Jerry Hairston Jr.
Dodgers: $1 M – 12th, George Sherrill

Cliff LeeEvery one of these teams went out and picked someone up at the trading deadline to fill a void. This pattern isn’t that surprising, as smaller markets and complete busts try to unload quality players with expensive salaries before they press the reset button. But it shows that each team in contention set out to get better, and for the most part, achieved that goal. Not every one of these players is making the impact of a Cliff Lee or Matt Holliday, but it just goes to show that if a team wants to contend they more than likely have to get a few ringers.

Unlike Charles Manson, each of the divisional leaders has a distinct team identity. The Yankees are a veteran team built like my middle school video game starting lineups. The Tigers can crush the ball and have a resurgent pitching staff with postseason experience. The Angels lead the Major League in batting average and are regaining full strength after multiple injuries. The Cardinals have three lights out pitchers and the best player on the planet backed up by the post-All-Star Break MVP. The Dodgers have a good mix of young and veteran players and a dominating late-inning bullpen. The Phillies won the World Series last year, and that’s enough of an argument for me. The bottom line is that you know exactly what you’re getting from each of these teams: consistency at their game.

Justin VerlanderIf the season ended today, all eight playoff teams would have prior postseason experience on their resume from the last three years. Sometimes just watching a team can give you a sense of whether their ready for the march into October, such as the Phillies and Brewers last year. The latter stumbled in, while the former cannonballed into the pool. The way things look this year, we’re in for some epic October showdowns. I really need to get cable by then.

Cubs must equal Holliday trade with internal improvements

Aramis Ramirez

By Anthony Zilis

The acquisition of Matt Holliday seems to make the St. Louis Cardinals the popular favorites in the National League Central.

But after an extremely disappointing first half, where seemingly everything that could go wrong did go wrong for the Cubs, they find themselves in first place today, half a game ahead of St. Louis.

And while it seems that Cubs general manager Jim Hendry is tied up by the pending sale of the team as the trading deadline approaches, the Cubs have managed to improve without any major trades.

Aramis Ramirez is showing resemblance to his pre-injury form, (the third baseman is 9-for-16 in his last four games after struggling since coming back from a shoulder injury) which is equal to adding a frontline player like Holliday. Alfonso Soriano could have easily been replaced by an outfielder from the Tennessee Smokies in May and June without a dip in production, but he’s now swinging a hot bat. The left fielder raised his average 28 points in the last 15 games.

The Cubs also hope Rich Harden’s post All-Star break resurgence isn’t a mirage, as he’s allowed only two runs in his last three starts. His Sunday win over the Reds was his first at home since May 12 and his first during the day since April 21.

Couple these major additions with the solid pitching from rookies Randy Wells and Kevin Hart, who has had two solid starts filling in for Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly, and the Cubs have managed to scrape themselves back to the top of the division.

But this resurgence isn’t merely a coup for the Cubs – it’s a must. In a year that should be labeled “World Series or bust,” the time is right for a long-awaited championship. Hendry has immobilized, if not handcuffed, this franchise for a few years by throwing around huge amounts of money to players like Soriano, Milton Bradley, Kosuke Fukudome, Ryan Dempster, and Carlos Zambrano.

So while it would be nice to trade for a Jake Peavy or a Roy Halladay, the Cubs are going to have to win with what they have. Their improvements have had to come internally and that looks like the case.

Cubs Bradley Baseball

Look next for a comeback by Milton Bradley, who has struggled mightily from the left side of the plate. If you remember, one reason Hendry insisted on signing the switch-hitting right fielder was to make his lineup more left-handed. Piniella has personally worked with Bradley over the last several days, so look for him to return to his 2008 form, when he was third in the American League in batting average.

If everything comes together for the Cubs like it has the last few weeks, look for all of the criticism from what was looking like a possible lost season to be washed away.

A fan base that has long been frustrated has tasted success over the last few years, and a World Series victory is expected.

If they can’t win a championship, look for heads to roll as new ownership comes in.

Think the Cardinals acquisition of Holliday puts them above the Cubs? Do the Cubs have what it takes to win in the playoffs if they get there? Does Jim Hendry have a job with the Cubs if they don’t win the World Series?

Matt Holliday trade makes Cardinals the NL Central favorite

Matt Holliday

By Jake McCormick

Next stop for the St. Louis Cardinals: A Holliday in the sun.

After trading for the versatile Mark DeRosa, the Cardinals looked spent like Austin Powers. The team already didn’t have a lot of money to work with and the farm system isn’t the strongest in the league. But somehow they’ve managed to finagle a deal for the most prized hitter on the market in Matt Holliday, thanks to the A’s willingness to swallow $1.5 million of the remaining $6 million on his contract. The team was forced to part with top minor league prospect Brett Wallace, but like the CC Sabathia trade a year ago in the NL Central, it is a small price to pay for huge dividends.

Holliday, who I hope has already started growing his man ’stache, has struggled to find consistency this year with the Oakland A’s, with a batting average of .286, a .378 on-base percentage, 11 home runs and 54 RBIs. Those numbers are struggles for most players, but Holliday came to Oakland after a strong season with the Colorado Rockies in 2008 and was poised to duplicate his numbers to boost his stock this offseason in the free agent market. But Holliday has had trouble adjusting to American League baseball and the Mausoleum stadium compared to the Kate Moss-thin air of Coors Field.

There is reason to fear the slugger in more ways than just his spot behind Albert Pujols in the order. Since the All-Star Break, Holliday is hitting a scorching .387 with a .429 OBP, 3 home runs, and 11 RBIs. Over the whole month of July his average registers at .338 with a .413 OBP, so it looks like he’s starting to find a consistent stroke at the plate. With Holliday batting behind Pujols and in front of the red hot Ryan Ludwick, his RBI and home runs totals should easy improve. I’d even go on record saying that as of the trade’s completion, the Cardinals have the best lineup top to bottom in the NL Central, which is nice considering they are in first place.

Holliday’s impact will also be felt among the rest of the Central teams still in contention. By landing the biggest hitter on the market, the Cardinals put added pressure on the Cubs, Astros, and Brewers to make some move, any move, just to keep up. When Milwaukee traded for Sabathia last year, the Cubs almost immediately went out and picked up Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin. The only possible counter trade of equal impact would be bringing Roy Halladay into the division, but that seems less likely because he has another year on his contract and the Blue Jays are asking for roughly an entire farm system.

So come next week, the St. Louis Cardinal lineup should read as follows:

1. Skip Schumaker – 2B
2. Colby Rasmus – CF
3. Albert Pujols – 1B
4. Matt Holliday – LF
5. Ryan Ludwick – RF
6. Mark DeRosa – 3B
7. Yadier Molina – C
8. Pitcher X (Damn La Russa’s unconventional methods)
9. Brendan Ryan – SS

The Cardinals’ biggest concern this year has been hitting, as the starting pitching and bullpen have performed better than expected. They solved part of the problem by bringing in DeRosa, and the addition of Holliday boosts the Cardinal lineup into the conversation when talking about the best batting orders in the National League and makes them the favorite to win the division. Time will tell if this trade pays off, but the rewards were far too high not to take that risk.

Brewers-Cardinals exchange: May the most mediocre man win!

CardinalsBrewers

By Melissa S. Wollering and Jake McCormick

It’s safe to say that the NL Central is deadlocked in a tight race for who wants it the least. The division is similar to Toppers or Papa John’s pizza in that it’s good until you notice the higher quality competition made with better ingredients. The St. Louis Cardinals have been consistently holding the first place spot since early July, yet they haven’t been playing like a first place team and are only one game ahead of the bipolar Chicago Cubs and surging Houston Astros. In contrast, the Milwaukee Brewers have dropped two games back and have the same record over the past 10 games (3-7) as the Cardinals. Writing anyone off in the Central wouldn’t be smart  considering its parity (if that’s what you call it), so Melissa Wollering and Jake McCormick have engaged in The Sports Bank’s first 2009 Brewers-Cardinals exchange.

JM: Despite the division’s mediocrity, the Central has been Ground Zero for buyers in the trading market. With four out of the six teams within two games of the top, it looks very similar to a poker game, where each team is trying to one up the other but won’t reveal their hand.

To get Mark DeRosa, the Cardinals had to part with a valuable prospect in fireballer Chris Perez. Milwaukee Brewer GM Doug Melvin has repeatedly said top prospects Mat Gamel, Alcides Escobar and Brett Lawrie are all but off-limits in trade discussions. If Toronto Blue Jays GM J.P. Riccardi calls today and says he just wants one of the three to be involved in a deal for Roy Halladay, which one would you send to Canada as a piece of the deal?

MW: Great question, Jake, because Melvy knows deep down his farm babies are the most attractive chess pieces on the table this season. White knight to E5 only captures the pawn. My fear is that Toronto will only be satisfied if the Milwaukee Brewers are willing to give up 4-5 kids. Now you’re talking an entire Kostics Trap (chess move that takes all yo’ pieces man, in nerdspeak).

If you want to hang onto JJ Hardy, deal Alcides Escobar. If you’re willing to give up Brett Lawrie, don’t give up catcher Angel Salome. If you’re nervous about forfeiting Lawrie, offer Jonathan Lucroy. If they want Mat BrunoGamel, ask them to consider a Lorenzo Cain, who is an outfielder but could provide just as much batting power as Gamel in another year. Bottom line, Toronto is asking for proven farm talent and lots of it. A combination of the above plus a current starter could be their asking price. Bruno obtaining a toddler in exchange for an iPod sums up how I feel about the situation.

JM: If the Brewers somehow pulled a deal for Halladay, it would be checkmate against any other potential trade. The only concern I would have is expecting him to perform like CC Sabathia last year, but things would definitely get much more interesting in an already unpredictable division.

Before the Cardinals picked up DeRosa, the Brewers had been in some pursuit of him but felt he was getting too prospect-expensive. Seeing as they just picked up Felipe Lopez, a similar utility player that has already made his presence felt at the top of the Brewer lineup, would you prefer DeRo or Felipe?

MW: Well, if Felipe gets injured next week, I’ll feel indifferent about the whole thing. No seriously, both were great pickups for NL Central teams. The moves collectively pissed off the Cubs organization ten-fold (especially DeRo), which sweetens the whole deal. Sorry, David K.

Both men bring strong defensive skills to the infield and strong bats to the top or near-top of their respective lineups. The only difference: we got just as much bang for less buck by merely surrendering Cole Gillespie and Roque Mercedes. The Cardinals were willing to pay an asking price that the Brewers were not. Therefore, in the spirit of value, I welcome Felipe and for now, I’ll say I prefer him.

Sour Patch KidsJM: I listen to 670 The Score a lot and Cub fan callers were starting to talk about DeRosa like he was Mike Ditka or something. That put the sour in my Sour Patch Kids and made the trade worth it for me. I wouldn’t mind either player, but Mark DeRosa wins for me because he can also play outfield and the Cardinals need as much protection for Albert Pujols they can get. Plus, St. Louis just committed the ultimate cardinal sin (pun fully intended) of Little League by trading coach’s son Chris Duncan to the Boston Red Sox for shortstop Julio Lugo, who will give the team more veteran depth in the infield. Now that’s the way Tony La Russa likes it.

Last year, the Brewers’ starting pitching was ranked second in the National League. The 2009 season looks a bit different, and the bullpen has pitched just about as much as the starters have lately. In contrast, the Cardinals starting pitching has been in the top five in the NL for most of the season, and it seems as if the bullpen isn’t in a run-off with the Crew for the “Most Blown Games that Could’ve Led to a Division Title” Award. Obviously the loss of Ben Sheets and Sabathia was expected to sting, but how can they come close to matching that production this year?

MW: Can I say it’s a miracle we’re still in the chase for the division title, given the stark starting pitching contrast between the two clubs? Our record should suck more than it does. But yours should be better than it is….*grin*

The short answer to your question is: they can’t. They cannot come close to matching that production. So what is Plan B? Plan B is some combination of what the team has been doing (albeit not very well) and using the days prior to July 31 to the best of the organization’s ability (aka trade smart).

Relying on the offense? Gotta do it. Manufacturing runs in addition to playing long ball? Gotta do it. Demanding quality starts from your starting pitching staff when possible but using your entire bullpen effectively if that doesn’t work out? Just gotta do it. The only person who would contradict this is George Bush, Sr. who’s “not gonna do it, at this juncture.”

Hey, speaking of the long-ball, Jake; are the Red Birds relying on it too much as of late? Some of their recent games, all five or six of their runs have come in just two or three swings. Will this catch up to the club? Sounds a bit like the same problem the Brewers had last year.

Ryan LudwickJM: I would be worried, but Ryan Ludwick, Rick Ankiel, and Troy Glaus combined for 56 home runs before the 2008 All-Star Break. This year, all three combined for 20 dingers in the same time period; 31 if you include rookie Colby Rasmus. I think the Cardinals mashers are just playing catch-up for lost time, including DeRosa, who is starting to remember that he destroys the Central any chance he gets and just had his first multi-home run game as a Cardinal last night. The increased long balls from anyone but Pujols is a good sign for a club that struggled to find power throughout the first half of the season. It’s like the scene in The Matrix where Keanu finally figures out his powers and gives that little smirk before sending the agents running. The only difference is the Cardinals’ smirks are highlighted with lavishly beautiful moustaches.

Even though there have been times where the Cardinals offense has looked deader than a CSI victim, Albert Pujols has backpacked this team to stability to remain at the top of the NL Central. With Ludwick heating up and Rasmus skimming the profits off the number two spot in front of Pujols, the Cardinal offense looks as resurrected as Optimus Prime in Transformers 2: Big Explosions, Stereotypical Characters, and Spinning Cameras Around Shia Labouf and Megan Fox. Sorry the name was so long, but Michael Bay’s personal orgasm was so bad it made the first one look like the Dark Knight. Back to relevant topics: Prince Fielder is shrugging off the worries of over-swinging after winning the Home Run Derby and is the Brewers’ version of Albert “Terminator” Pujols, but what’s wrong with Ryan Braun?

MW: There have been quiet rumblings Ryan Braunthat Braun has been hurt. Like “in pain for several months and not telling anyone” hurt. I don’t know if it’s his darn intercostal or what. It didn’t help he took a pitch to the thumb last week either.

Before the All-Star break, Braun had a .120 week, with just 3 hits in 25 bats and insists he just wasn’t swinging the bat well as of late. There’s the possibility he’s trying too hard to produce after the criticism he took from Melvin regarding the team’s need for starting pitching. There’s the possibility he’s in an uncharacteristic slump and fans are griping about it for the first time. Speaking of high expectations, it’s not like Charlie Manuel wasn’t disappointed by Al Pujols’ skid prior to the break. I think we’re going to see this from time to time because after all, it is baseball.

JM: Yeah baseball can be like a monkey bar competition. As long as a team can hang on while the fatigued or less talented teams start dropping like flies, they give themselves a chance in the playoffs. The NL Central has been consistently unpredictable over the past few years, and this one is no different. Even the Pirates, who are 7.5 games back, could theoretically make a push if no one pulls away. The Brewers and Cardinals have experienced enough late-season slumps to turn that around this year, especially considering the Central-favorite Cubs haven’t come close to preseason expectations of another runaway divisional title. The Central continues to entertain with its even competition and high schoolKlements racing sausages relationship (or trade market) gossip. Things will really begin to get interesting after the trading deadline, but until then I’ll be enjoying the Cardinals place at the top of the division because God knows it’ll get more cluttered than even the closest of Sausage Races, brought to you by Klements.

Prince Crowned King of Home Run Derby

prince-braun-09-derby

By: Melissa S. Wollering

When a former Milwaukee Brewers prospect faces a current Milwaukee Brewer who eats Texas Toast, ribeyes and BBQ for lunch, said former Brewer loses.  Prince goes yard 23 times measuring 415+432+431+367+343+480+466+395+ 497+397+460+459+434+453+488+503+429+461+416+453+423 feet.  Grand Total=Dominance. Who does he partially have to thank?  Ryan Braun for his bat.

 

Nelson Cruz showed up Monday just to baffle everyone with 11 in the first round. He stuck it to one of his former teams, the Milwaukee Brewers, then hit the front of the Big Mac sign in left center with his second homer to flip the Red Birds the proverbial bird. His appearance in the first round also produced some of the Best of Chris Berman.

 

“This ball just pegged to [insert left/right field].  Gone.”
“This one to Big Mac Land. Gone.”
“This one OVER Big Mac Land. Gone.”
“That’s his jet stream!  Gone!”
“It’s the proverbial SKYSCRAPEHHHR…gone.”
“That’s a short-term long-termer.”  [What?]

chris-berman

Best of the Best of Chris Berman:

“Fielder?  No fielder is going to catch that one.”
“Once upon a time we had Julio ‘Won’t You let me take you on a Sea Cruz’.  We have Jose ‘Can You Sea Cruz’. This is Nelson ‘sail around the world Cruz’!

 
By the way, did Chris Berman’s haircut and glasses make him look smarter?  Don’t answer that.

 Home Run Derby Baseball

Prince Fielder goes yard for 415, 432, 431, 367, 343, 480, 466, 395 and 497.   Then he decides he’s not done with the first round until he cracks off a 397 and 429 plus cash-money in State Farm donations.

 
 By coincidence, ESPN interviewed Al Pujols during Prince’s batfest and allowed Pujols to analyze Fielder’s swing.  Pujols likes it but says Prince gets in trouble when he tries to manufacture power.  Pujols has observed that Prince shortened his stroke, now knows how pitchers approach him and says that as Prince learns to be more consistent he will become more successful. Prince certainly found more success in this Derby, having hit only three homers in his 2007 appearance.

 prince-all-star-home-run-derby1
Brandon Inge?  Small guys can’t win with the long ball. There is some awkward complex-reference in there. I’m going to Inge-nore it.  Chuckle.

 
Carlos Pena’s pitcher was a McNulty.  Is that the first time an Irishman’s pitched for a player from the Dominican? I bet they’ll swap Anejo Brugal Rum and Jameson with each other before this week is over.

 
Ryan Howard chose Aaron Spink, his high school baseball coach as his pitcher. St. Louis hometown love was oozing as Howard took several years off that man’s right arm. Spink’s wife will have to teach him to eat left-handed for the next eight months.

 
Joe Mauer only has 15 homers this season due to his late start, but he was very enjoyable to watch Monday.  He had a 458-footer with Chris W. from Des Moines’ name on it. And the announcers didn’t call him Justin Mauer.  Or Joe Morneau.   Bonus.

 
Pujols says 397 +  416 + 389 + 400 + 410 = Quality Over Quantity. I say it put me closer to winning lunch on a Fielder/Pujols bet that I didn’t initiate.  Pony up Jim!  Shall we go for a veggie burger? Nope, Fielder’s over that.  It was temporary.

 
The swing-off is allright. Berman decided it should be re-named a bat-off and added to Webster’s dictionary. Then he verbally tried out another version of a double swing-off, apparently called a bop-off. The former sounds like a fight between Batman and Joker; the latter a mafia murder. The graphics and scoring guys in the truck probably wanted to punch Berman in his grill, considering their “box” on the top of your screen is pre-fabbed to say “SWING OFF” and can’t be rebuilt once the game starts. Way to insult your tech crew.

 
In Round 2, the foul pole moved in order to sabotage Pujols.  He jacked six more to tie Cruz and Fielder’s first-round totals, but it wasn’t enough. Ryan Howard looked tired in this round but tacked on 8 to bring his total to 15. Cruz extracted one more “Sea Cruise” reference from Berman to advance to the final round as a huge surprise. Meanwhile, Fielder goes 460 + 459 + 434 + 453 + 488 + 503 (longest of the night).  One of our readers, Jim, is now buying me lunch AND tells me he started cheering for my boy he’s so convinced Prince in King in one more round. Sure enough, winner tabulates 429 +461 +416 +453 +423 having used his teammate Ryan Braun’s bat! Prince’s little boy was also there to see the whole thing, which warms my heart because baseball is a family pasttime.

 prince-braun-2-09-derby

Favorite distraction: Erin Andrews interviews, adorable child charity plugs and tossbacks to “Boomer/Boom/Boomey” with wonderful sweetness. But we just can’t refrain from talking about Roy Halladay’s trade potential, allowing the man to pimp himself during Joe Mauer’s bat, can we Erin?  Perfection…so close…

 
Favorite New Toy: the Home Run Tracker was unveiled, allowing the Eastern SeaPort Network to track the distance of pitches. It turns from yellow to green once it verifies it has enough distance to clear the wall.  I love it.  I just with the MLB Network had debuted it instead…

 
Speaking of the MLB Network, I loved their Home Run Derby Batting Practice coverage.  Real interviews with people like Reggie Jackson unscripted, Tony LaRussa talking candidly about how he thinks the Home Run Derby is a complete load of waffle (and WHY in detail) and Matt Vasgersian being intelligent and natural.

 

 

Well-Spoken Player of the Night: Curtis Granderson.  He speaks eloquently and had great things to say about a charity he’s working on.  I was so enamored with him I have no idea what the charity is for… male Erin Andrews, ladies.

 
Do you ever feel like announcers use Home Run Derbies and the All-Star Week to brag about how many baseball greats they’ve met, which ones they’ve played with, what they occasionally talked about while schmoozing with them and how the rest of us mortals are pieces of Grade E ground beef?  I love stories about the greats.  So tell the stories, tell them all.  Just don’t make it a who’s who contest between the people behind the on-field desk.

 prince-braun-3-09-derby

Prince Fielder becoming the first in Milwaukee Brewers’ history to win the Home Run Derby is fitting and well-deserved.  He has shed light on one of the smallest markets in the Major Leagues, he’s been a consistent force at the plate, he’s been a leader for members of his team and his combined efforts make him worth the trouble his agent Scott Boras brings.  Well, worth it until now…  The stakes just got higher.  503 feet higher.