Thursday, February 28, 2013

Spring is in the Air

That's how Jackson Field currently looks.  But still...

Heading into my apartment complex to pay my rent this afternoon, I ran across Josh, a stalwart in the apartment office.  He grinned:  "Do you smell that?  That's the smell of baseball in the air."

The big news last night, beyond Stephen Curry lighting up MSG:  the triumphant return of "Psych" to television.  You can have your sophisticated fare like "Downton Abbey" or "The Walking Dead."  I'll be over here laughing at the misadventures of Shawn and Gus.

Baseball America's 2013 Prospect Handbook arrived in the office this afternoon, carrying with it the added intrigue of the Toronto Blue Jays' Top 30 Prospects, as ranked by the esteemed Nathan Rode.  Sadly but predictably, the top two prospects ranked were Travis D'Arnaud and 2012 Lugnut Noah Syndergaard, both of whom were traded to the New York Mets for R.A. Dickey.

** Interlude:  Video of Dickey throwing his knuckler.  Brilliance.  **

#3 was 2012 Lugnut Aaron Sanchez, who now moves up to #1.  It's a rightful spot for a high-ceiling arm.  This is going to be an interesting year for Aaron.  Should he earn a Double-A debut, which I expect he will, it's going to be hugely anticipated.  The key, simply:  command, command, command.  If he pitches with command, his arsenal should lead to dominant results.

I'll go over the other interesting names on that list down the road.  For now, let's end with the 2012 Lugnut who earned the Blue Jays' #31 prospect slot:  Tyler Ybarra.  Left-handed pitchers are a coveted commodity, especially lefties who can throw hard with strikeout stuff.  It'll be interesting to see if Ybarra follows the same path to the Majors as former Lug Aaron Loup.

Link of the Day

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Back in the Saddle

It's snowy now, but these beautiful baseball days are returning soon...
(John Ransom, Lansing Lugnuts)


As MLive readers discovered yesterday (or perhaps today), I'm back with the Lansing Lugnuts for the 2013 season!  Here's Larry Hook's article.

I've been keeping busy during the off-season calling Mid-Michigan regional high school football and basketball -- and I became a published author, too.  Check out my Baseball Thesaurus here... and if you purchase a copy, it shouldn't be too hard to get me to inscribe it for you.

I've also been writing regular columns about baseball for and, with each article archived here.  See what you think, and expect new columns for me on a weekly basis throughout the season.

Meanwhile, at the Ballpark... 

As for the Lugnuts, this is going to be an exceptional year, we can all feel it.  Jeremy Smoker is our new Director of Marketing, fresh off running Fan Entertainment for the Detroit Pistons, and that means that the in-stadium experience is going to be kicked up several notches.

On the field, I'm expecting young fireballer Roberto Osuna to anchor the starting rotation, aided by his 2012 Northwest League champion Vancouver Canadians counterparts.  The lineup should feature table-setting switch-hitter Dalton "Pony" Pompey at the top, one of our favorite players from a year ago.

We're currently setting the menu, creating the 2013 team magazine, working on the website, readying the tickets, and doing so much more to make sure that you have a fantastic time at Cooley Law School Stadium this year.  More information coming soon...

And, Lastly, Your Link of the Day

From SB Nation, "The 10 best videos MLB put up in 2013 when you weren't looking."  If ever you wanted to see Bo Jackson climbing the wall like Spider-Man...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Name Game

Isn't this fun?

Every day or so, we have another name coming out of the Biogenesis clinic ledger:  Alex Rodriguez, Nelson Cruz, and Gio Gonzalez originally, then Ryan Braun, and most recently Jesus Montero and Jhonny Peralta.

This is very much (and you can certainly consider this unfortunate, if you'd like) a situation of guilty until 100% proven innocent.  Presumed guilt seems to stick more to some players than others, and so Gonzalez and Cruz might very well get off with just a couple of weird sidelong looks while Rodriguez and Braun get pilloried.

I do feel a bit for the "clean" players, the guys who didn't use.  For years, they've complained publicly and privately that they were being tarred with the same brush as the PED enhancers.  (Note Craig Biggio being kept out of the Hall of Fame.)  What hurts them is that this keeps happening -- and worse, that it keeps happening with baseball's best players, from Barry Bonds to Roger Clemens to Manny Ramirez and now to Ryan Braun.

I'm right now listening to Richard Justice discuss on Tony Kornheiser's show to what extent he trusts/believes each player (he trusts that Gio Gonzalez is totally clean, for instance), which strikes me as the way we've all reacted to each new allegation right from the very day it came out that Mark McGwire had androstenedione in his locker.  ("Quick:  On a scale of 1 to 10, how big of a cheater is he?")

Thankfully, I'm starting to hear a change in the conversation from some very smart people out there, Craig Calcaterra among them.  The questions need to shift from "Who's using?  How do we discourage them from using with stiff penalties?" to "Who's supplying?  How do we stop suppliers from reaching our players?"  There will always be new players to the new game, seeking their own personal advantage -- inexperienced, unworldly, shortsighted, arrogant, stupid, ambitious, unethical, ignorant, money/glory-seeking, and/or naive sorts of players -- and so any illegal advantages must be shut off right from the source.

That's the real challenge for Major League Baseball:  Stay pro-active, not reactive.  Find every other clinic and supplier, and then shut it down.

Then, and only then, the name game will finally cease.