Monday, August 26, 2013

Announcers of Yester Years!

I grew up listening to Ernie Harwell during the 1980’s through his retirement and during this time he was still mainly radio, but he did some television and I just loved his voice and his off- the-wall comments. “He stood there like the house by the side of the road and watched it go by” or my favorite “Foul ball: Caught by a man from…”.  When I was much younger, I always wondered how he knew where the person was from; finding out later that he didn’t which, was like finding out Santa Claus didn’t exist. 

During this time I would argue with anyone on this topic that Ernie was the best, till 2011. In 2011, I signed up for the MLB package and that year I finally heard Vin Scully announce a game.  I finally knew why he is considered arguably the number one announcer of all time.  With his voice and storytelling, I felt like I was back when radio was king and every boy had a transistor radio listening to the game.  Even though the game was televised and on the television, I didn’t have the need to watch the game, just listen to it.  When I heard Vin was coming back for a 65th year, I was pleased, but also sadden.  Who will be considered the voice of baseball or any sports in my generation?  Does my generation have a Vin Scully, Jack Buck, Harry Kalas, Harry Carey, Mel Allen, Red Barber or Ernie Harwell?

Unfortunately, my answer is no.  The current generation of announcers are good, but they don’t have that “Welcome, put your feet up and stay awhile” voice.  Why?  Just the changing of time, all of the greats that I listed above broke into announcing through radio.  Radio announcers had to use words to create a picture for their listeners.  When Norm Cash hits a home run and when one hears Ernie yell its “Loooong gone”, the person on the other side of the radio could feel the excitement and also could see it through the announcer’s eyes.

 Announcers of today don’t show that same passion that the announcers had in yester years.  Why?  The culture of sports and the world has changed.  Sports are big business, with high dollar contracts and high maintenance players and in today’s world, everything needs to be politically correct and every word that is said gets analyzed.  If one wrong word is said on the air or internally, even with no bad intentions meant, more time than not the person uttering those words will be fired.  This is why there won’t be another great announcer, so Mr. Scully thank you for a 65th year and there won’t be another one like you.  You are the last voice of yesterday and you carried it on so well for Jack, Harry, Mel, Red and Ernie.

Friday, August 23, 2013

MLB - NL Contenders Home Grown

Now that we have reviewed the American League home grown teams lets take a look at the National League contenders.

Again, like I said within the article for the American League breakdown there is not a right or wrong way to build a team, each team has its own philosophy and some are successful and some are not.  This article is not to argue which philosophy is correct it’s intended for those curious minds that just wonder, like mine, which playoff contenders is the most “home” grown. 

The following will show the National League teams in contention and the players that were drafted by that particular team and that is on the active roster.  Again, I am only doing the teams that I believe still has a chance to make the playoffs via Division Winner or Wild Card.  I am also including foreign born players that were not drafted, because MLB teams need to go through many steps to obtain one of these particular players and most countries will not allow their players to be eligible for the draft.
National League East:  (% drafter players of Current Roster)

Atlanta Braves: (56%)                        
Luis Avilan                                                
Craig Kimbrel
Kris Medlen
Mike Minor
Julio Teheran
Alex Wood
Evan Gattis
Brian McCann
Freddie Freeman
Andrelton Simmons
Todd Cunningham
Jordan Schafer
Joey Terdoslavich
Jason Heyward                            

National League Central: (% drafter players of Current Roster)
Pittsburg Pirates: (40%)                  St. Louis Cardinals: (68%)             Cincinnati Reds: (40%)
Gerrit Coles                                       Joe Kelly                                           Homer Bailey
Jared Hughes                                    Lance Lynn                                       Aroldis Chapman
Tony Watson                                    Tyler Lyons                                       Tony Cingrani
Justin Wilson                                    Seth Maness                                    Ryan Hanigan
Tony Sanchez                                   Shelby Miller                                    Devin Mesoraco
Pedro Alvarez                                   Trevor Rosenthal                            Zack Cozart
Jorely Mercer                                   Kevin Siegrist                                   Todd Frazier
Neil Walker                                       Micheal Wacha                               Joey Votto
Starling Marte                                  Yadier Molina                                  Jay Bruce
Andrew McCutchen                        Matt Adams                                     Chris Heisey
                                                            Matt Carpenter
                                                            Allen Craig
                                                            Daniel Oescalso
                                                            Pete Kozma
                                                            Kolten Wong
                                                            Jon Jay
                                                            Shane Robinson

National League West: (% drafter players of Current Roster)
Los Angeles Dodgers: (32%)
Kenley Jansen
Clayton Kershaw
Paco Rodriguez
Hyun-Jin Ryu
Chris Withrow
A.J. Ellis
Yasiel Puig
Matt Kemp
Wild Card: (% drafter players of Current Roster)

Arizona Diamondbacks: (32%)
Josh Collmentor
Eury De La Rosa
Wade Miley
Matt Davidson
Paul Goldschmidt
Adam Eaton
Geranda Porra
A.J. Pollock
*All Research for the Players was through

As you can see the Cardinals with sixty-eight percent of their current roster being filled with draft picks, they are far ahead from any other MLB team on building from within.  The closest in the National League is the Atlanta Braves at fifty-six percent.
The biggest surprise while doing the National League side is that Brandon Philips was not drafted by the Cincinnati Reds.  For your homework you drafted him?  I can't give all of the answers.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

MLB - AL Contenders Home Grown

When the MLB regular season starts to wrap up and the playoff contenders start to show their colors I always have one constant thought every year.  Which of these teams have a team that truly was built from within (draft) and which team was built through free-agency and trades?

There is not a right or wrong way to build a team, each team has its own philosophy and some are successful and some are not.  This article is not to argue which philosophy is correct it’s intended for those curious minds that just wonder, like mine, which playoff contenders is the most “home” grown. 

The following will show the American League teams in contention and the players that were drafted by that particular team.  Again, I am only doing the teams that I believe still has a chance to make the playoffs via Division Winner or Wild Card.  I am also including foreign born players that were not drafted, because MLB teams need to go through many steps to obtain one of these particular players and most countries will not allow their players to be eligible for the draft.
American League East:  (% drafter players of Current Roster)

Tampa Bay Rays: (24%)                        Boston Red Sox (40%)                    Baltimore Orioles (28%)
Alex Cobb                                                Drake Britton                                   Wei-Yin Chin
Jeremy Hellickson                                  Felix Doubroni                                 Jim Johnson      
Jake McGee                                            Jon Lester                                         Brian Matusz
David Price                                             Junichi Tazawa                                 Matt Weters
Evan Longoria                                        Brandon Workman                         Manny Machado
Desmond Jennings                                Xander Bogaerts                             Brian Roberts
                                                                 Will Middlebrooks                          Nick Markakis
                                                                 Dustin Pedroia
                                                                 Jacoby Ellisbury
                                                                 Daniel Nava

American League Central: (% drafter players of Current Roster)
Detroit Tigers: (40%)                       Cleveland Indians:(16%)
Rick Porcello                                     Cody Allen
Bruce Rondon                                   Danny Salazar                  
Drew Smyly                                       Lonnie Chisenhall         
Justin Verlander                               Jason Kipnis 
Bryan Holaday                                  
Alex Avila
Omar Infante
Ramon Santiago
Andy Dirks
Don Kelly    
American League West: (% drafter players of Current Roster)
Texas Ranger:  (40%)                      Oakland A’s :(20%)
Yu Darvish                                         Sean Doolittle
Derek Holland                                  Sonny Gray
Martin Perez                                     A.J. Griffin
Robbie Ross                                      Dan Straily
Tanner Scheppers                            Yoenis Cespedes
Ian Kinsler
Mitch Moreland
Jurickson Profar
Craig Gentry
Leonys Martin  
Wild Card: (% drafter players of Current Roster)

New York Yankees : (48%)            Kansas City Royals: (48%)

oba Chamberlain                          Louis Coleman
Phil Hughes                                     Aaron Crow
Ivan Nova                                        Kelvin Herrera
Andy Pettitte                                  Luke Hochevar
Mariano Rivera                              Greg Holland
David Robinson                              Salvador Perez
Adam Warren                                 Eric Hosmer
Austin Romaine                              Mike Moustakas
Robinson Cano                               Jarrod Dyson
Eduardo Nunez                              Alex Gordon
Brett Gardner                                 David Lough
Alfonso Soriano                              Billy Butler

*All Research for the Players was through

Prior to the research I had a pre-notion of which teams would be towards the top and I was correct on some of them.  There were some surprises, such as the New York Yankees having forty-eight percent of their major league squad being from their farm system.  I was equally surprised that the Oakland A’s had only twenty percent on theirs
This should be a lesson learned:  beware of assumptions.  So many years’ baseball fans have heard comments that applied that the Yankees are big spenders and will buy what is needed and that the A’s are built through the draft.  As you can see here facts prove different.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Baseball vs. Cheating

Do Performance Enhancing Drugs tarnish the records in baseball?  I am truly to the point I don’t care about that conversation.  The records are second on my list of importance; in my opinion using PED’s is just wrong.  Most of the players that use these types of drugs had the skill to be drafted by a Major League baseball team, but either didn’t have the overall skill to have a long Major League career or not enough skill to make the Parent club.  Most of the attention of this issue goes towards the superstars, but would the accused player be a superstar without using?  Mark McGwire always was a home run hitter, but his combined batting average in his first 6 seasons was .244. Would he be a superstar today if he was just a home run hitter?  No, he would have been an earlier version of Adam Dunn: homerun or strikeout.
During all of the conversations I have heard regarding this topic there is always one small fact forgotten, PEDs are illegal to use unless prescribed by “legit” doctor.  If a general citizen gets caught dealing with illegal PEDs, he or she would be incarcerated.  Yet, Major League players get a slap on the wrist and the conversation goes back to, are the records tarnished.  The punishment needs to be changed and the time is now, because the Players Union seems to be on board to clean up the game.  The 50 game suspension for first offense is a laughable punishment. Melky Cabrera received a 50 game suspension last year and then signed a 2 yr/$16 million contract from Toronto in 2013. Does this help stop the use?  No, the player still gets a high dollar contract, so why not keep using.  Also, does the suspended player get tested during the suspension?  If not, who can say that the suspended player won’t continue to use to get ready for his return? You tell me, is that punishment?  I believe the first offense should be one year suspension without pay, the rest of the current contract is voided and monthly testing will occur during the suspension.  Second offense is a lifetime ban. Too harsh? In my book cheating is cheating. What is worse, Pete Rose gambling on baseball or a player juicing against players that are doing it the right way?  Both Rose and the PED user are or were denying that the action ever happened.  If a lifetime ban occurs, you won’t see much more PED use.  Don’t think so? I haven’t heard of any gambling scandals within Major League baseball.  Why? Because all participants in Major League baseball from the Commissioner to the Manager know if you do, you are out of baseball for life, end of point. 
While I am on my soap box, I also want these discussions to stop on this topic, “You can’t tell me that the players back in the 1950s and 1960s didn’t use” and “Who cares baseball was better when the offense was scoring, who is it really hurting”.  Regarding the 1950s and 1960s, I am 39 years old so I can’t answer that question, and honestly I really don’t care.  I put that comment under the "well my big brother/sister did, so I did" category even though there was no proof of it. Why did we use that excuse? Because we got caught and we want someone else to go down with us.  Plus, we are not in the 1950s or 1960s.  The issue is coming up now, and we need to deal with the issue of today. The individual that brings up that argument wants to try to make PED use okay. 
For the “who cares” comment, these individuals don’t want to deal with this issue.  If we just stop talking about it, then it will be swept under the rug again and everything will be back to normal.  I call this the Wayne’s World effect, when Wayne and Garth go back in time and what just happened no longer exists.  Well I am sorry, my friends, the issue is alive and well and we need to keep this conversation alive to keep Major League baseball and all other sports honest (I use honest loosely).
Again, the records are second in this conversation on my list. With that being said, I do value the records just like all baseball fans, but records were broken during this time and we can’t do anything about it.  As fans of this great sport, let’s do everything we can do to make sure that all records in this new era of baseball are as legit as we hope they were in the glory years.