Results tagged ‘ Baseball ’
Although the calendar might say that today is March 1st, I would argue that it already is starting to feel like spring. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact I spent part of last week in Florida, or even the fact that baseball if officially back.
Shortly after my birthday, I decided to book a last-minute flight down to Florida. I’ve never been a fan of cold weather, so it sounded like the perfect time to leave for a mini vacation. So I packed my bags and headed south without any real plans.
After landing, my parents picked me up and we headed to visit with a cousin who lived near Tampa. She decided to show us around town, which included driving by Tropicana Field. I was hoping to be able to get at least a tour, but they weren’t doing any while I was in town. We were taken to one of her favorite spots, the St. Pete Pier. The shops weren’t of much interest to me, but the view from the top was pretty breathtaking.
Once we were done with our tour, we headed back to the condo and relaxed by the pool. After all of the running around for the day, that was good enough for me.
The next day included a pit stop at one of my mother’s favorite locations in Florida. If you’re a fan of ridiculously good (not to mention reasonably priced) desserts, look no further than Parksdale Farms. Located in Plant City, it’s a fruit market and dessert stand. Known primarily for their strawberries, they have an entire dessert menu built around just strawberries. I opted for the sundae.
From there, we headed to Lakeland, where I got my first ever opportunity to watch the Tigers play a game in Spring Training. If I’m not mistaken, I’ve been to Lakeland about five times (my favorite memory coming from when I had to chase David Wells to his car to get his autograph), but I’ve only been able to watch them practice.
Of course I didn’t bring any luck to the Tigers, but I did get to watch top prospect Bruce Rondon pitch, and see both Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder hit a home run.
But that wasn’t all of the baseball I got to watch while I was down there. I met up with a few friends that I met through the MLB Fan Cave, and we headed to Bradenton to watch the Pirates host the Atlanta Braves. Although I wasn’t too familiar with most of the prospects, it was fun to watch Justin Upton, B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward playing the outfield. Not only that, but I was able to root for ex-Tigers Brandon Inge and Gerald Laird.
On the final night, I met back up with my friends for some bowling. I once again proved that I’m a terrible bowler, but at least I can take pride in the fact my score improved after every game. If they would’ve let me bowl til five in the morning, I might’ve been able to break 200 (I doubt it, but you can’t prove otherwise)!
Tuesday morning meant it was time for me to leave, so I was dropped off at the airport at noon for my 2:05 PM flight. Unfortunately, mechanical issues delayed my departure to 4:05. That later changed to 4:30, which changed to 5:00 and eventually switched to 5:19. Knowing that there was a snowstorm back home, I wasn’t exactly thrilled.
The flight was fine, but the drive home was without a doubt the craziest thing I’ve ever experienced in a car. On the commute home, I witnessed three accidents, a semi truck crash through a guard rail, and a car going the wrong way on the expressway. Even though traffic was going no more than 40 MPH, there was still plenty of crazy stuff going on.
Although the drive lasted more than twice as long as it usually does, I was thankful to finally make it home in one piece. Even though it’s currently 25 degrees here in Michigan, knowing that opening day isn’t too far away, it doesn’t seem so bad.
Over the weekend, I was able to take a quick and fun trip to Chicago. Not only was I able to go to a baseball stadium that I haven’t been to before, but I got to have to spend some quality time with my brother, sister-in-law and catch up with a friend I haven’t seen in a while.
My trip started early on Saturday morning (a lot earlier than I’d like, but was necessary due to the lengthy drive), as I headed to my brother’s condo. From there, we began our adventure. Being in the backseat and running on little sleep, I didn’t make it too far before I fell asleep.
The next thing I know, the car is slowing down and we’re entering the parking structure at FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek. I’ve only been to the casino once before, but was able to turn a profit. Despite being half awake, I still felt confident that I would be able to repeat my success.
I started off by playing a Ghostbusters slot machine, and I got to say, I was thoroughly entertained. I only won five dollars off the machine, but I got plenty of laughs while playing it. I bounced around to a few other penny machines, and sure enough, I left with a 30 dollar profit. Not bad for a quick stop.
From there we headed straight to Chicago, where we first stopped at the Museum of Science and Industry. I hadn’t been to the museum in 12 years, so it was cool to get a chance to experience it once again.
Inside of the museum, there was an exhibit for the show MythBusters, an interactive experience for fans of the show. If you’re a kid or have kids, it’s a great introduction to the fun side of science. To be honest, it was cool to see a lot of stuff that was used on the show, but I felt like the exhibit definitely lacked in some areas. It cost an additional ten dollars to get in to the exhibit, which seemed like a pretty fair deal.
After we left the museum, it was off to the hotel where my brother and his wife were going to stay. Once they were checked in, we met up with one of their friends, who took us to one of her favorite pizza places.
The restaurant was Pizano’s Pizza and Pasta, but we all opted to get Chicago deep-dish pizza. We all agreed that it was delicious, and I would be more than willing to go there the next time I’m in town. Once we wrapped up dinner, my brother and I headed to U.S. Cellular Field, and Lindsey and her friend headed out for a night on the town.
For those who don’t know, U.S. Cellular Field is the home of the Chicago White Sox. This was the seventh major league stadium I’ve been to, and it certainly had some pros and cons.
The stadium looked very good and was laid out very nicely. Not only that, but the look outside of the stadium was absolutely stunning.
They also had three big screens (one for the current game, one with more information on the game, and one with scores from around the league). One of the things that I didn’t like, was the fact that they played music with a great deal of regularity while the opposing team was on the field. By that, I mean they would play music after foul balls and in between pitches.
I don’t think it’s fair to have a stadium playing music playing while a pitcher is starting to look at the catcher for signs. It also seems bizarre that they would only do that for the opposing team. To an unbiased spectator, it seemed almost like a distraction tactic. Much to my dismay, the White Sox won, but at least we got to watch fireworks after the game.
Following the firework show, I met up with my friend Travis who was working at the stadium, covering the White Sox for the Associated Press. The last time I went to Chicago, I felt bad that I didn’t get a chance to hang out with him, so it was good to catch up. Not only that, but he was kind enough to let me crash at his place.
After I woke up, it was time to meet back up with my brother and sister-in-law at the hotel. From there, we headed to brunch. Their friend suggested Cafe Iberico, a Spanish tapas bar. Not exactly an ideal place for breakfast for me, so I just ordered dessert while they feasted on some delicious Spanish cuisine.
For our final destination, we headed to the Chicago History Museum, where we got to learn a bit about…well, the history of Chicago. It was significantly smaller than the first museum, but much more oriented for adults. They had exhibits for not just the history of Chicago, but one about magic, and another specifically about Abraham Lincoln.
With another history lesson completed, we headed back home. En route, we stopped at yet another casino (Four Winds) which proved to be profitable for all of us. While we were in the area we also stopped for some treats at Sweetwater’s Donuts. If you’re ever near one, do yourself a favor and stop in.
It was a wonderful little getaway, and I had a great time. The best part of the trip wasn’t necessarily the things I got to do or see, but it was the peopleI got to spend my time with. I’m thankful and grateful for having such wonderful friends and family, because they truly make my life one that’s worth living.
As I’ve gotten older and summer vacations have become a thing of the past, I don’t get nearly as excited about weekends as I used to. However, if every weekend went as well as the one that passed, I could see myself starting to change that.
It wasn’t so much how it started, but instead, it’s how it ended. Sunday was a day full of everything one could need, from work, to fun in the sun and finally spending some quality time with the family.
The day started with just a few hours at work. From there, the fun began as my brother and two of my cousins headed downtown, to watch the Tigers host Baltimore Orioles. I’ll spare the details of the game (we lost despite having a 5-0 lead after the first inning), but it was fun to spend some quality time with my brother at the game.
After the game, we met up with my cousin and her husband after the game. The four of us walked back to Greektown after the game and caught up on the recent events in our lives. I’m so thankful that I have such a good relationship with my family. You know, there’s a common expression that says something along the lines of ‘Friends are the family that we choose to be in our lives.’ Well if that’s the case, it says quite a bit when people in your family start becoming your friends.
From there, my brother and I headed to help out at my Grandma and Grandpa’s annual church festival. For about the last twenty years, I’ve always done my best to try to help out to some capacity. There’s something rewarding about volunteering your time to a worthwhile cause, and I always look forward to doing what I can while I’m there.
Once I wrapped up my activities for the festival, I had to head a few miles up the road to head to my first softball game of the season. Now that my baseball season has come to an end, a few of my friends decided to start up a softball team for the first time. The fact that it’s a lot more relaxed and recreational definitely makes it quite different than my baseball league.
Due to work I had to miss the first game of the year, but I promised my team I would do my best to make it to the rest of games. My coach decided he wanted me to play shortstop, which is fun for me, since it’s a position I haven’t played in probably around 15 years. Things didn’t start pretty, but as was the case for the weekend, it ended a lot better than it started.
Thanks to some rust and sloppy defense, we fell behind early in the game. In fact, we trailed by five runs as we entered the 7th inning. Despite having two outs, we rallied to tie the score. We stranded the game-winning run on third base, and we were off to play an extra inning.
In the top of the 8th inning, we allowed one run. It was simple. If we scored no runs we’d lose, one run and we’d tie, two runs and we’d get to go home happy. The next thing you know, we have two outs and nobody is on base. A few minutes later, and I’m up to bat with the tying run on second and the game-winning run on first. On the first pitch I delivered a single to center field, and the bases were loaded. The next guy up drew a walk and the score was tied. Then came the moment of truth.
My friend Don came up to bat, and worked himself into a full count. A walk or a hit would win the game and any out would result in a tie. While standing on second, I got to see the hit go right over second base, and we were able to celebrate an exciting walk-off victory.
I don’t remember the last time I had that much fun over any weekend, and it was definitely full of great memories. I’m heading to Chicago next weekend, so we’ll see if I can keep this streak of good times rolling.
Tonight I got a call from a friend to go to the batting cages. Seeing as my first softball game this year (second for our team) is on Sunday, I figured it wasn’t such a bad idea.
It’s funny how hard it is to adjust from hitting a baseball going 75 MPH to hitting a ball that’s twice its size, and goes about a third of the speed. While I was there, I got a first hand reminder of how people of all ages and sizes love baseball.
First, you see the young couple. The guy is obviously doing anything he possible can to impress the girl. When it’s the girl’s turn to bat, she’s ecstatic to just make contact with the ball (now I’m not saying that’s the case for every girl, but it’s a common thing to see when you go to the batting cages). Baseball, it’s not only America’s national pastime, but it seems to be a common location for budding romances.
Then there’s the father, who’s attempting to teach his son how to swing a bat. Consider it a passing of the torch or good parenting, but seeing it always brings a smile to my face. It doesn’t seem like that long ago when my father would take me to the batting cages, only to try to find a way to correct my swing.
On that note, I’d like to give one small bit of advice to parents who take their kids to the batting cages, and that’s to always try focusing on the positive aspects of your time there. Your kid isn’t going to be a Major League Baseball player, so don’t expect him to be drilling every pitch he swings at. Encourage your child, and they will likely find themselves with a good boost in confidence. As they start to get older and develop better eye-hand coordination, then you can start to worry about their mechanics.
Young and old, male or female, everyone can be found at the batting cages. It’s just another fine example of how great of a game baseball really is.
Today I got to do something that I haven’t done since the summer of 2004, and that’s have my baseball team make it to the playoffs.
When it last happened, I was a senior in high school. We made it to the district tournament, only to be eliminated in the first game. In my current league, the first series is a five-game series, meaning my playoff hopes would stay alive for at least three games. Unfortunately, we didn’t get off to the kind of start I was hoping for.
We entered play as the underdogs, taking on the Red Sox. On the year, we played some good games against the Red Sox, but lost the regular season series 2-1. The last time we faced the Red Sox, we mercied them by a score of 14-4, so we had plenty of confidence entering the game.
From the first at bat of the game, things started out poorly. The leadoff batter for the Red Sox lifted a fly ball to left-center, only to be dropped by our left fielder. It didn’t get any easier to watch from there, as we trailed 5-0 after the first inning.
Tempers for the Pirates began to rise, as we got a few bad breaks on the field, plus a few strikes were called against us which appeared to be out of the zone. My teammates immediately began yelling at the umpires, calling them names and questioning their abilities. Let’s just say that the language wasn’t exactly rated PG.
As the game continued, we found ourselves heading further in the wrong direction. With one out in the top of the 6th inning, the Red Sox turned an inning-ending double play against us, with a very close play at first. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back for our team.
Three of our best players, including our starting pitcher, first baseman and manager were all subsequently ejected from the game. I ended up having to fill their spots in the lineup, as well as pitch the final inning.
After I was done warming up, the ejected players were continuing to yell at both umpires. This resulted in the home plate umpire not allowing play to resume until all ejected players left the premises. Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling a lot of joy as I stood on the mound. It wasn’t my prettiest work in relief, but I got us out of the inning.
Needless to say, there was no miracle comeback or late-inning heroics for the SCS Pirates. Instead, I found myself embarrassed by the actions of several of my teammates. Their lack of maturity not only cost us any chance of a comeback, but now puts us at a major disadvantage for the series. Since all three players were formally ejected, they will now likely have to serve a one-game suspension (barring a different ruling is provided by both the commissioner of the league, as well as the city).
In all of my years of playing organized sports, have I been so embarrassed and disappointed by what was going on. That says a lot, especially since I once played for a team that only won two out of 35 games.
I don’t know what the future has in store for my team, but I’m hoping we can turn it around tomorrow night.
Ever since I was little, I’ve always loved watching the Olympics. It didn’t matter if it was the Summer or Winter Olympics. It was a chance to watch the greatest athletes in the world compete on the biggest stage. When I was a kid, I thought maybe I could be an Olympic athlete one day. Eventually I learned that you actually have to be a good athlete in order for that to happen.
Now that the Olympics are on, I’m doing my best to keep up with all of the action. Due to my schedule, I haven’t been able to keep up with everything that’s going on, but I’m still doing my best.
There’s plenty of great stories in the 2012 Olympics, such as will Michael Phelps be able to claim at least one more gold medal in his final Olympics? Will any team come close to defeating the U.S. Men’s basketball team?
But when it comes to watching the Olympics, I’ve always been a fan of the less mainstream events. I always try to watch some of the table tennis and badminton competitions. For being ‘recreational’ games, it’s amazing to watch people playing them at world class level.
The one thing that I do miss, is having baseball as an Olympic sport. Baseball made it’s official Olympic debut in 1992, and was last played in 2008. Not only was that the last year for baseball in the Olympics, but also for softball. The International Olympic Committee has also ruled that neither sport will be included in the 2016 Olympics.
On April 1, 2011, the International Baseball Federation did announce that they were preparing a new proposal for the IOC. If it’s approved, baseball and softball could return to the Olympics as soon as 2020.
In all seriousness, the Olympics should leave you feeling at least two things, and that’s inspired and motivated. How many other times can you root for a select group of people who represent your country. These athletes aren’t just competing for medals, accolades and sponsorships, they’re competing for their countries.
There’s a tactic in baseball that drives fans wild. It can lead to one of the most exciting plays in baseball, or one of the most boring, depending on who you ask. For today’s blog, I’m going to talk about the bunt.
When a player or manager decides to bunt, it usually causes an immediate conversation and debate. Is bunting good for baseball? I’ll present you with some information so you can decide for yourself.
One of the more unique things about bunting, in comparison to other things in baseball, is that it’s executed in different ways and for different reasons. For instance, there’s a sacrifice bunt, a bunt for a hit, a suicide squeeze and also a safety squeeze. All of these plays focus exclusively around a bunt.
The main purpose of a bunt (at least in the vast majority of the time) is to give your team a significantly better chance to score a run. Bunting doesn’t always end up working out, and that’s often the main reason that some people are strongly against bunting under any circumstance.
First, let’s define a bunt. Simply put, it’s when a batter doesn’t attempt to swing at the ball in the usual sense, but rather they attempt to just stick the bat in front of the plate, ideally allowing the ball to travel no more than 15 feet past home plate. Here’s a picture of a standard bunting stance.
Usually when that happens, the batter is more or less sacrificing their at bat, and by that, meaning they’re gladly willing to trade an out in order to advance a runner to the next base. It’s very common to see a team attempt to sacrifice bunt when they’re tied late in the game. By advancing a runner to the next base, your odds of scoring on a base hit go up significantly.
If the sacrifice bunt doesn’t work, it usually results in the batter getting out without moving up the runner, or in very bad cases, both the batter and base runner manage to get out on the same play.
When a batter attempts to bunt for a base hit, they are essentially trying to catch the defense off guard, by forcing them to make a spectacular play in order to record an out. This is usually done with a very fast runner, with all kinds of mixed results. Here’s a video of an example of a batter bunting for a base hit.
The final category of bunts (at least as far as I’m discussing) is the squeeze play. This situation occurs with a runner on third base, and usually less than two outs (but teams who want to be extra adventurous will attempt a squeeze play with two outs). In a suicide squeeze, the runner on third base attempts to steal home, and the batter attempts to bunt the ball. If the batter can manage to bunt the ball into play without allowing the other team to catch it, the run will almost always score. If the batter misses his bunt attempt, the runner will be out at the plate and the rally will most likely be over. It would look a little something like this.
Similarly, a safety squeeze also occurs with a runner on third base and usually less than two outs. The difference between a suicide and a safety squeeze is the fact that the runner on third base will not run home until the batter has successfully bunted the ball. This way, if the batter misses the ball, there’s only minimal harm done.
You can find evidence that both supports and opposes the use of bunting in baseball. Much like anything else in baseball, fans seem to love it whenever it works, but hate it when it’s unsuccessful.
The All-Star Game has come and gone, and that means it’s back to meaningful baseball.
This isn’t to say that the All-Star Game doesn’t mean anything, since it does determine home-field advantage for the World Series, but it still lacks significance beyond that. Take for instance the fact that Justin Verlander allowed five runs in the first and only inning that he pitched in. As soon as he exited the game, it means nothing.
It’s back to baseball. Back to races for the playoffs and chasing history. Each game that is played brings us one game closer to October, and that’s really what matters most. Will the Pittsburgh Pirates be able to hold on in the NL Central, or can the Baltimore Orioles hang on for a Wild Card spot in the American League?
These are just a few of the many stories that baseball fans will be watching in the upcoming weeks and months. As nice as it was to take a break from baseball, I’m glad that it’s back.
My first game back for the SCS Pirates, turned out to be a nail biter, as the Pirates beat the Blue Jays by a final score of 1-0.
Erik Ogden was dominate for the Pirates, tossing a complete-game shutout. Offensively, the Pirates were led by Kevin Warner, who went 3-3 at the plate. Even though the Pirates won the game, it wasn’t a pretty victory.
Ogden was able to thwart numerous scoring opportunities, many of which were caused by sloppy defensive play. You can’t expect your team to always play a perfect game defensively, but today, there was much room for improvement.
On a personal note, I went 0-1 with a ground out. It was nothing spectacular, but for my first game back, it felt good to put the ball in play. Not only that, but there were no setbacks or flareups with my ankle, so that’s a plus.
The Pirates are off until Sunday, when they will host the Red Sox. In a match up of two good teams, it should be quite a matchup.