Monday, December 31, 2012

A Look Back at 2012, and a Glimpse Forward...

As 2012 comes to a close, I wanted to take a moment and thank everybody who's been reading this blog, as well as my work at Big Leagues Monthly, for all of your support.  This has been quite a year for me, as a writer, in more ways than one.

Towards the end of 2011, as part of a personal development exercise, I made a conscious decision to work harder and more cohesively towards improving my baseball writing not only on this blog, but beyond.  I'm more than pleased at how this commitment led to new opportunities and personal growth in 2012.

I made a sincere effort to improve content on this blog, and in doing so opened the doors to opportunities for writing outside of this blog.  Specifically, my collaboration with Jim Pratt and Big Leagues Monthly emerged as just the channel I was looking for, just the right type of person with the kind of vision I was hoping to participate in.  Jim helped me immensely with my goal, helping me develop my skills beyond blogging and further into the realms I had only hoped I would encounter as a writer.

I look forward to continuing my collaboration with Jim and his staff, as Big Leagues Monthly becomes Big League Magazine, and we collectively take another step forward with this excellent concept into the new year.  As always, I invite all of my readers to continue your support of BLM through 2013 and beyond.

Here's a summarized recap, with links to URLs as well as alternate links to copies on my Google Drive repository, of the pieces I've written for BLM this year.  Thanks again, Happy New Year to everyone, and be on the lookout for the BLM Season Preview, coming soon!!

The December issue of Big Leagues Magazine is still "live" at the time of this writing, please check it out now...I have two pieces featured, one on Brandon McCarthy (pg.28) and one of my personal favorites so far, a revisit of Nate Silver's Closer Efficiency Index (pg. 52).

"How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Post-Post-Steroid Era" (Big Leagues Monthly Magazine, August 2012)
My debut at BLM, where I investigate the "Post-Post-Steroid Era," no-hitters, and pitcher injuries; features a Q&A with Will Carroll.

"The Curious Case of Pedro Alvarez..." (Big Leagues Monthly Daily Edition, August 22, 2012)-Alternate Link
Fun times with Pedro Alvarez and his bizarre day/night splits.

"Have the Royals Really Been 'Yosted'?" (Big Leagues Monthly Daily Edition, August 28, 2012)-Alternate Link
Run differential and Ned Yost's success (or failure) with the Royals.

"Playoff Risk Mitigation: Are The Nationals Concerned About Jordan Zimmermann?" (Big Leagues Monthly Daily Edition, September 4, 2012)-Alternate Link
After the Strasburg shutdown, Jordan Zimmermann suddenly went "meh"...was this a big red flag for the Nationals?

"2012 Draft Pick Steven 'Paco' Rodriguez Makes His MLB Debut" (Big Leagues Monthly Magazine, September 2012)
Draft Picks typically don't make their MLB debut the same year they are selected, here's a little bit about "Paco" as he becomes the only draftee of his class to have a cup of coffee in 2012.

"Aroldis Chapman: The Cuban Missile Crisis" (Big Leagues Monthly Daily Edition, September 14, 2012)-Alternate Link
Here, I break my silence on Aroldis Chapman...

"The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Taste of a Winning Season" (Big Leagues Monthly Daily Edition, September 18, 2012)-Alternate Link
The Pirates were this close to breaking one of the most humbling streaks in professional sports...what did this mean to them, and to their fans?

"Previewing the NL Wild Card Race" (Big Leagues Monthly Daily Edition, September 24, 2012)-Alternate Link

"Previewing This Weekend's NL Wild Card Race" (Big Leagues Monthly Daily Edition, September 28, 2012)-Alternate Link

"One NL Wild Card Spot Left, Final Series Preview" (Big Leagues Monthly Daily Edition, October 1, 2012)-Alternate Link

"Max Scherzer's Breakout Season Is Here: Who Saw This Coming?" (Big Leagues Monthly Magazine, October 2012)
What I didn't know: Max Scherzer was one of the best pitchers in Baseball heading into October; here's the story behind his breakout season.

"Nationals Hope Home Field is an Advantage in Game 3 vs. Cardinals" (Big Leagues Monthly Daily Edition, October 9, 2012)-Alternate Link

"Giants Sweep the Reds On the Road to Advance to NLCS" (Big Leagues Monthly Daily Edition, October 12, 2012)-Alternate Link

"NLCS Heads to St. Louis Tied 1-1" (Big Leagues Monthly Daily Edition, October 16, 2012)-Alternate Link

"The Demise of Defense" (Big Leagues Monthly Daily Edition, October 23, 2012)-Alternate Link
A whimsical review of what went wrong for the Cardinals.

"Baseball Predictions: The Good, The Bad, and the Bob Nightengale" (Big Leagues Monthly Daily Edition, October 30, 2012)-Alternate Link
Bob Nightengale's voice changes in light of his World Series prediction, in a most unusual way...

"Of WAR and wRC: Has Michael Young Lost His Groove?" (Big Leagues Monthly Magazine, November 2012)
What happened (or didn't happen) to Michael Young in 2012.

"An End to American League Superiority?" (Big Leagues Monthly Daily Edition, November 7, 2012-Alternate Link
After the 2012 World Series, a lot of folks thought "Well, so much for American League superiority..." as it stands, this may not be the case.

"Is Ending the September Expansion of Rosters Really Such a Good Idea?" (Big Leagues Monthly Daily Edition, November 14, 2012)-Alternate Link
A little known suggested rule change could have serious ramifications...

"Debunking the Melkman Myth: What We Don't Know About PEDs and Free Agent Value" (Big Leagues Monthly Daily Edition, November 27, 2012)-Alternate Link
A lot of folks thought a PED suspension would hinder a certain player's free agent value...harumph harumph!

"The 2012 Winter Meetings: No Parking On The Dance Floor" (Big Leagues Monthly Daily Edition, December 5, 2012)-Alternate Link
Recapping the first 2 days of the 2012 Winter Meetings

Sunday, December 30, 2012

10/28/12 San Francisco Giants 4, Detroit Tigers 3

Comerica Park, Detroit, MI
World Series Game 4

The winning run, scored by Ryan Theriot, the CYLON.

Head-to-head nuclear starting pitcher combat.  Blistering blast beat infield defense.  Turgid baseball antics.

...and postseason extra-innings mayhem.  Maybe a World Series sweep isn't that sexy, but ending the World Series in extra innings under these circumstances probably is.

I took Bob Nightengale's unusual World Series predictions over my knee in this piece I wrote for Big Leagues Monthly on October 30, 2012.  Lots of chuckles.

The hashmarks at the bottom of each set of PA columns (right above the pitch totals) are one of several strategies I used to track first pitch of early 2013, I've figured out a better way to do this, and I posted my method HERE so please go check that out.

 Giants win the World Series 4-0.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

10/25/12 Detroit Tigers 0, San Francisco Giants 2

AT&T Park, San Francisco, CA
World Series Game 2

Sorry, Prince Fielder.
That's the first ever 7-4-2 put-out in World Series history.

Giants lead the series 2-0

10/24/12 Detroit Tigers 3, San Francisco Giants 8

AT&T Park, San Francisco, CA
World Series Game 1




Giants lead the series 1-0

Friday, December 28, 2012

8/29/12 Columbus Clippers 4, Louisville Bats 2

Louisville Slugger Field, Louisville, KY
Game 2 of 2

It's our last game of the season, as I bring both Chihiro and Kei to Slugger Field by redeeming a pair of unused season tickets and splurging for an extra seat, all in the lawn section, where I enjoy sitting from time to time.  The Columbus Clippers are back in town, we saw them here last week as they fell to the wayward Bats 10-7.  Tonight, as we make our way around the concourse and the starting lineups are being posted, I notice a familiar face on the Pepsi Vision jumbotron...a friendly, smiling face staring down at us, larger than life, pictured in his Padres cap...that face belonged to Aaron Cunningham; it was this very same shot:
Yes, Aaron was a Padre...but not anymore.  I had lost track of him, and was genuinely shocked to see his face way up there.  As we took our seats and I shriveled with glee over Cunningham in the lineup, my girls wanted to know why I was so excited...beyond the fact that he was a Padre, that is.  They aren't really much into statistics, but in Cunningham's case, that story isn't a good one.  

As the game ensues, and Cunningham prepares for his first plate appearance in the 3rd (the game is still scoreless), I've reviewed Cunningham's numbers and my daughter Kei notices by abject cringing.  Sure, hew was a Padre, and gave that his best shot, but he batted .243/.301/.396 in 2 years and 105 games in 2010-2011...his 2011 season alone he posted a dismal .178/.257/.367 in 52 games, and was pretty much on his way elsewhere when he was traded to the Cleveland Indians in late 2011 for Cory Burns.  Cunningham spent the better part of 2012 with the Indians, again choking at the plate to the tune of .175/.245/.247 in 72 games, heading to the Clippers to clear a roster spot in late July.  As of tonight's game, he's not doing any better, hitting .135/.237/.173 in 16 games.  

As I'm explaining OBP, SLG, and OPS to Kei (and trying to think of some other way to defend my adoration of Cunningham other than his lowly OPS), Cunningham is working Bats SP Pedro Villareal into a full-count.  On the 6th pitch, Cunningham connects for a lofty HR to left-center, one that fell in the left-field boxes, only a few feet from where we were sitting.  One more ricochet off of an empty seat, and we would have had a serious chance at catching that ball.

It was more than interesting that this event occurred just as I was using Cunningham's performance of record to not only explain why he was batting 9th in the lineup, but also to explain why nobody could count on him to do anything outrageous tonight.  As to further send my review and dissertation of his tendencies to my daughter, he promoted his feats at the plate by eventually nearly hitting for the cycle, a triple shy of doing so. He was not eligible for this opportunity as he approached the plate in the top of the 9th, with one on and no outs, and was instructed to bunt...which he effectively did.

Certainly tonight's performance isn't going to signal a turnaround for the 26-year-old, who needs to find something to grow on very soon or else his career will be in greater jeopardy...but for a guy like this, tonight was definitively a game he could truly hang his hat on.  As for me, it justified in many ways why I really really adore some players, even if their numbers don't add up to anything more than a bomb and a few goose eggs.

During the 5th inning, we noticed many empty seats in our usual spot in the upper deck, so the girls persuaded me to pack up and move on up there to join our friend Jimmy for the rest of the game.  Foul balls were literally raining in our section, and a lot of souvenirs made a lot of folks happy.  Jimmy was kind enough to share some of the great photos he's been taking with me, here are a couple from this game.

Denis Phipps in the 1st inning, as he cracks a lead-off double to left field.  Photo by Jimmy Bessar.

Didi Gregorius strikes out swinging.  Photo by Jimmy Bessar.

It's worth mentioning that I was lucky enough to see Loek Van Mil pitch an inning for the Clippers.  At 7' 1" he is the tallest player in professional baseball, right now...or so I'm told.

We all played the Mystery Rookie Card game, of course.  My pick was a dud, this 2008 Topps Chin-Ling Hu RC.  Chihiro picked another one of his cards earlier in the season, I kinda teased her a little about I suppose this is payback. 

Chihiro picked this 2006 Bowman Mike Pelfrey RC.  Sweet.

Kei has a prime component of the Rookie Card game worked out...I always let my guests pick first, and Kei knows not to pick by color, but by weight.  She nailed a bonus, first of all, this 2007 Bowman Dennis Dove RC.  Dove was a 3rd round draft pick in 2003 by the St Louis Cardinals, and spent 5 seasons in their Minor League system with a 14-24 record and 4.54 ERA before getting called up to the Majors after the tragic death of Josh Hancock in an auto accident.  Dove needed something better than his two pitches to succeed, but never found them in time before injuries sidelined him, appearing in only 3 games and accruing a blistering ERA of 15.00; the Cardinals optioned him back to AAA at the end of the season and he hasn't pitched professionally since.

Kei's bonus card in her envelope was this 2007 Topps Carlos Guillen AL All-Star Copper Parallel, number 14 of 56, with a book value of $6 or so.  She wouldn't trade this for my Chin-Lung Hu card...I think she's on to me.

Fun times, fun season...despite the failings of the Bats.  Thanks again to Jimmy for sharing the photos!

Official Program #4, featuring Didi Gregorius...still misspelled, inside and out. 

Official Scorecard #3, featuring Corky Miller, and autographed by Corky Miller.

Bat Chat and Gameday Stats (never mind they meant nothing to Aaron Cunningham tonight)

8/27/12 Atlanta Braves 0, San Diego Padres 3

Petco Park San Diego, CA
Game 1 of 3

When I heard that Casey Kelly was scheduled to make his long-awaited debut with the Padres tonight, I cancelled the rest of my pressing affairs and stayed up late to watch this event.  As San Diego looks to win their 8th straight game, my expectations were high...even though they were facing the Braves and one of my favorite pitchers, Paul Maholm.
I would not be disappointed...Kelly showed up ready to go, and summarily blew me away.

There was little doubt how good Kelly was going to be; as a key part of the trade in late 2010 that sent Padres hero Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox, he spent all of 2011 with the AA San Antonio Missions, compiling an 11-6 record with a 3.98 ERA in 27 games...a nice bounce-back from his 3-5 5.31 ERA season with Boston AA affiliate Portland Sea Dogs in 2010.  At 22 years old, he's still got a great deal of development to go; perhaps he's not Major League-ready yet, had battled right elbow inflammation to start the 2012 season in AAA Tucson that saw him miss some service time through most of July.  All the same, in 8 games between the rookie league AZL Padres and the AA Missions, he compiled a 0-2 record, 3.35 ERA, and saw his WHIP dip below 1 for the first time since his single A days with the Red Sox organization.

Kelly held it all together and showed anything but a hint of questionable promise as a future starting pitcher, and had some help from Yasmani Grandal along the way.  Maholm held the rest of the Padres handcuffed as he couldn't afford anyone other than Grandal to emerge from the gate, but the Padres prevailed, with Kelly and the bullpen keeping the Braves scoreless and earning his first MLB Win.

8/26/12 Colorado Rockies 0, Chicago Cubs 5

Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL
Game 3 of 3

IF you would have told me that today would be the day that Chris Volstad would WIN and Shawn Camp would earn a SAVE, I would have then showered you with beer and popcorn in retaliation.
OK, so today is the day, then.

Volstad notched his FIRST win of the season (after 9 losses in 13 starts) and Camp earned his SECOND save...even as the game was called in the top of the ninth due to rain.

I thought this game would be more memorable for other reasons...I started with Gameday Audio, noticed a banner advertising MLB.TV Premium subscriptions for $10 (to celebrate the 10th anniversary of MLB.TV), and took up on that offer by the end of the 2nd inning, watching WGN-TV in glory on my laptop in the backyard.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Catching up on 2011 games...

I stumbled upon a handful of scoresheets for games from 2011 (3 from May, 1 from June) that I hadn't posted yet, so without further ado, here they are.  Expect light write-ups.  I think I tried to forget one of these games on purpose...ohh, Doug Davis.

5/24/11 New York Mets 1, Chicago Cubs 11

5/26/11 New York Mets 2, Chicago Cubs 9

5/27/11 Pittsburgh Pirates 4, Chicago Cubs 2

6/30/11 San Francisco Giants 2, Chicago Cubs 5

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

2012 BBA Postseason Awards - My Picks

Every year, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance votes on 5 specific postseason awards.  These awards are announced in October, here are the awards and the dates they will be announced.
October 15: Connie Mack Award (Manager of the Year)
October 16: Willie Mays Award (Rookie of the Year)
October 17: Goose Gossage Award (Top Reliever)
October 18: Walter Johnson Award (Cy Young)
October 19: Stan Musial (MVP)

These awards aren't associated with the actual MLB awards, we just do this because we write about baseball quite a bit, and it's a great way to not only publicly enforce our own dedication to writing about baseball (as individuals, as well as an alliance), but also to compare our own collective opinions with those of the actual MLB award equivalents.

You may not know this, but officially, the BBA selections have matched those of the Baseball Writers of America in all but two instances in the past few years or so.  The Goose Gossage award is an exception, as this award is exclusive to the BBA.

For the 2012 Season, here's how I voted for each of these honors.

1. Mike Matheny (NL)
2. Robin Ventura (AL)
3. Davey Johnson (NL)

Avoiding the "filling LaRussa's shoes" cliche, it matters not who Matheny suceeded...he's doing a damn fine job with the Cardinals.  Ventura was such a close second, I almost had to give up and call them a tie.

1. Mike Trout (AL)
2. Todd Frazier (NL)
3. Wade Miley (NL)

My heart has Frazier at the top of this list, but my common sense has Trout running away with this award.

1. Fernando Rodney (AL)
2. Craig Kimbrel (NL)
3. Jim Johnson (AL)

My only regret this season, is that I wasn't following Rodney close enough until recently.

1. R.A. Dickey (NL)
2. Max Scherzer (AL)
3. Gio Gonzalez (NL)
4. Johnny Cueto (NL)
5. Chris Sale (AL)

Both Dickey and Scherzer have been eerily consistent and fantastic this year, if you had to pick two outstanding breakout seasons from each league, they would both be at the top of that list.  Using this as justification for the award from my perspective, this one was nearly a draw at the top spot.

1. Mike Trout (AL)
2. Andrew McCutchen (NL)
3. Miguel Cabrera (AL)
4. Chase Headley (NL)
5. Buster Posey (NL)
6. Robinson Cano (AL)
7. Adam Jones (AL)
8. Yadier Molina (NL)
9. Josh Reddick (AL)
10. Ryan Braun (NL)

Once again, Trout is literally running away with this one.  For me, defense is the primarily unregistered key to the intrinsic variables for an award such as this.  Without proper defense evaluation metrics, you have to watch the player at his position.  Stolen bases don't mean a lot to me, but Trout's presence on the field does. You can't see it in a box score, you have to see it for yourself.  All that aside, what kind of a season can you see for the Angels without Mike Trout as part of it?

Keep an eye on the Baseball Bloggers Alliance website for updates and announcements on these awards.  If you aren't following the BBA feed on twitter, now is the time to rectify that: @baseballblogs


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Big Leagues Monthly - October

The October issue of Big Leagues Monthly is live now!  Lots of great features, an interview with Mike Ferrin  of MLB Radio, and a piece by me on Max Scherzer's breakout season.  Check it out now!

Big Leagues Monthly - October

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

8/21/12 Columbus Clippers 10, Louisville Bats 7

Louisville Slugger Field, Louisville, KY
Game 4 of 4

There aren't many games left in the season, and even with Louisville's recharged infield, sometimes you have to look at the visiting team for noteworthy performances.  You might not expect such from the Columbus Clippers, who are currently 9 games behind the Indianapolis Indians in the IL West Division...despite the fact that the Clippers are the reigning AAA Champions.  Minor League championship titles are, in many ways, a statistical farce, as affiliate club performance bears no indicator whatsoever to their parent club's success now or in the future.  At any rate, I thought I might see a great pitching performance from T.J. McFarland, but this never materialized...instead I saw struggling starting pitchers (from either dugout), clean bullpen performances (from either dugout), and a formidable offensive push (from either dugout).  I also saw front office guys and General Managers.

It wasn't as difficult to single out a player (from either dugout) for their performance in this game as it was to come up with a reason why.  At first glance, Matt LaPorta seemed to be the best candidate, more so because he might be considered the worst candidate at the same time.

LaPorta flew out to CF in his first PA of the game in the 2nd, was walked by Tim Gustafson (and scored) in the 3rd, and presented the inning-ending GIDP to second base in the 5th, facing Nick Christiani.  Where Matt broke out (more or less) was a run walked in (by Nick Masset, more about him in a moment) in the 7th inning and a crisp 2-RBI single to the shortstop to add 2 more insurance runs for the Clippers in the 8th.  The 'run walked in' was the last of a 3-run inning; if you are looking for game-winning RBIs, you would have to accept LaPorta's claim to all 3 of them.

I don't follow the Cleveland Indians much, but it's safe to say that LaPorta is a player who is pretty much enjoying (for lack of a better term) a significant level of "goat status" for Cleveland fans.  Part of it could be because Matt was one of the key pieces in the CC Sabathia trade of July, 2008, coming from the Brewers organization as a .288/.402/.576 hitter for the AA Huntsville Stars.  At the AAA level, LaPorta was a total bruiser for the Clippers in 2009 (.299/.388/.530 with 17 HR and 56 SO in 393 PA) and brought some of that with him to the Major League club that season.  Not so much during 13 games in May, but in 39 games from late August through Cleveland's 5-game losing streak to end the season, when he was batting .273/.315/.489 with 6 HR and 26 SO in 149 PA.  This was more than enough to find him on the Indians' roster for most of 2010 (110 games) and 2011 (107 games), but as we see so often, his stuff in the Minors just never really translated into the Majors, and after so many years of Indians fans waiting for Matt LaPorta to "happen" in Cleveland, it's starting to look like it really isn't.

I remember the 2010 Matt LaPorta buzz well, as the announcers in this Clippers game I scored that year couldn't start talking about how great he and Michael Brantley were going to be for "Manny Acta's ballclub in Cleveland" over the next few years...

As I'm posting this recap several weeks after the fact, I think it's important to note that as recently as September 19th, as seen in this article, many Indians fans are pretty much fed up with LaPorta's back-and-forth ride in the organization.  The most accurate description (if not the most humble) of LaPorta's career in Cleveland is best summed up by the author TD's statement: "a step slow and a brain cramp."

Hey, he had a pretty good game tonight...but usually does in the Minor Leagues.  My intent here is not to bury LaPorta, but to praise him just for that.  However, my cautionary tale has a message.  A great deal of potential with no results at the Major League level a few years later to show for it is a common story.  It can happen anywhere, and is happening anywhere, right now.  Let's compare Matt's career to a mystery player (who shall not be named) who is indeed spending more time recently in the Majors, but is also very soon likely to be the target of such derision, as a poster child for what's wrong with the team...not the player.

LaPorta's career has been only one year longer (MLB and MiLB combined) than the mystery player's career.  LaPorta's notoriety with his current organization came as part of a high-profile trade, the mystery player was drafted and developed by the organization he plays for today.  LaPorta and the mystery player do play on different teams, but in the very same AL division; both of those teams are finishing this season very much as they did their last...way behind the division leaders, but not quite at rock bottom.  Here are two distinct "upside" guys who are typically better in the Minors than they have been in the Majors.  By comparison, LaPorta is "raking" in the Minors during his career, mystery player isn't...but mystery player is somewhat known for his "raking" in the Minors, but not my that much.  Here, what you see is minor league upside, met with major league downside.  The only real difference between the two, is that the mystery player is selling a lot more T-shirts over the past couple of years than Matt LaPorta is; which means the complaining about the mystery player's MLB struggles is really just beginning.  BTW, LaPorta's career OPS+ is 92, mystery player's is 100.

I don't want to single out a team, a player, or even a group of fans whom I love, but if you knew who this mystery player was, many of you would pelt me with rocks and garbage.  Upside is upside, as baseball fans we have got to remember that when evaluating talent, what really happens next is more often than not a situation where cooler heads will prevail.  These players don't wear crowns, and they don't walk on water...your team's next superstar almost never looks like one after they are mashing the ball, or whatever, in AAA and then get a dose of reality on the MLB field.

And speaking of disappointment...cue the sad trombone for Nick Masset.

Nick Masset hasn't thrown a ball of any kind for the Reds all year after rehabbing from an injury he sustained during Spring Training (this was right after he signed a 2-year deal with the Reds for $5.5 million, avoiding arbitration).  He showed up in Louisville a few days ago as part of his rehab process, and tonight's outing must have been a big deal...not only were there several Reds front office guys leaning over the dugout rail, but GM Walt Jocketty himself was seated with his assistant near the scouting section.  I'm pretty sure these folks weren't here to see Tim Gustafson.

Masset came out of the dugout to start the 7th inning, when the Bats were enjoying a hearty 7-5 lead over the Clippers.  Masset faced 6 batters, allowed 4 hits, walked 2 (including Matt LaPorta's 'run walked in')...allowing every batter he faced to reach base without recording a single out, throwing 27 pitches (14 for strikes) in the process.  Will Ohman was called in to relieve Masset, retiring the next three batters he faced in that inning, but you can be sure Jocketty was less than enthusiastic about Masset's performance, and not so much concerned that the Clippers now had a 1-run lead...thanks to Matt LaPorta's RWI.  On September 10, Masset underwent shoulder surgery that ended the season he wasn't having anyway.

I also heard that Bill Rhinehart was released on Sunday.  More sad trombone.

Photos from the game:

Here's T.J. McFarland warming up.

Ted Power and the infield are having a conversation with Tim Gustafson.

Reds front office guys in the house!

GM Walk Jocketty and his BlackBerry are firing rather nasty messages back home about Nick Masset.

Thanks to Kei, I finally caught this common jumbotron errata...when it's 10:00PM at the game in Louisville, it's actually "no time" if you read this accurately.

This picture isn't from the game, but rather from - if anything, to show you what a good sport Matt LaPorta really is about his so-called disappointing MLB career.  Maybe he's smiling because on paper, he knows he's about as good as the mystery player previously mentioned.

I picked a winner in the Mystery Rookie Card game, a very sexy Jason Heyward 2010 Bowman RC.  The tag says $4, I say "OK, kool."

Kei picked this glorious 2006 Upper Deck Norris Hopper RC.  Not that it makes a heck of a lot of difference to her, but Hopper was originally drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 8th round of the 1998 amateur draft and spent 7 years in the Royals system without any appearance at the MLB level, posting a .717 OPS and playing every position except 1B, C, and 3B in the process.  Hopper was granted free agency in October of 2004 and signed with the Reds in January of 2005.  He re-signed with the Reds not once, but twice December 2005 and December 2008.  Hopper played in 168 games for the Reds in 2006 through 2008, the only MLB experience in his career, hitting .316/.367/.371 in 440 PA, and sporting an OPS+ of 90 (only 2 points lower than Matt LaPorta's career OPS+ of 92).  Here's what is the most interesting thing about Norris Hopper, as far as I'm concerned: he was traded to the Chicago White Sox in June of 2009 for the guy who is the most popular player in Louisville today...Corky Miller.  One month later, the Nationals purchased his contract, then granted him free agency at the end of the season.  He signed with the Brewers in 2010, appearing in 119 games with AA Nashville, and appeared in 79 games during the 2011 season with the Independent League Somerset Patriots, and 20 games in 2012 with the Mexican League Petroleros de Minatitlan.  The case can be made, in many subtle ways, that the Reds won the 2009 trade.

I also couldn't resist picking up this 2010 Bowman Chrome Starlin Castro RC.  I love that guy, in a way that a baseball fan guy loves a baseball player guy.

SCOREKEEPER'S NOTE: I had not one, but two disagreements with the Official Scorer tonight.  Per usual practice, I held my ground on both.

Clippers RF Vinny Rottino (almost as great an Italian name as Valentino Pascucci) hit a soft-chopper to Mike Costanzo in the 3rd; Costanzo (as usual) wasn't playing at his position well and was too far away to field the ball cleanly...he managed to make it to the ball, and had plenty of opportunity to throw Rottino out at 1st, but in his haste to reach, bobbled the ball on the pickup.  Ordinary effort would have resulted in an out, so I scored this E5.  In an effort to apply "home cooking" to award Costanzo with a play he had no chance at (when I felt that he did), the O.S. ruled this a hit.  It was an ERROR.

Bats LF Cody Puckett hit a seeing-eye grounder through the gap between 1st and 2nd base, there was no play by the Clippers' infielders, so I ruled this a hit.  Not as much to my surprise as to my chagrin, the O.S. posted an E for this play.  I did consider, for a moment, that there might have been a play.  I even started to erase my entry on my scoresheet, but I reconsidered and once again, held my ground on this.  Later in the game, I was vindicated and the E was reversed to a hit.

Official Program #4, featuring Didi goodness, they misspelled his name, inside and out!!

Official Scorecard #3, featuring Corky Miller (traded to the Reds for Norris Hopper), and autographed by Corky Miller.

Bat Chat and Gameday Stats

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