Lost in the madness of the Boston bombing manhunt these last couple days was a shining ray of happiness, brought to you by none other than America’s pastime. The ability of baseball (and all sports) to bring this country together in the face of a tragedy can not be understated.
And this home run from Frazier–one of two pre-game requests from the Reds’ guest bat boy (the other being pizza)–is the latest example. In a landscape clouded by crime and hate, one beautiful sight grew out of the cracks of the barren abyss on Thursday.
Frazier smacked the two-run shot for honorary bat boy Ted Kremer, a lifelong Reds fan who has Down syndrome, and making his second appearance in two seasons in that role. Check out their awesome celebration here (via MLB.com):
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
Where do I get my terrible, misleading headlines you may ask? I read way too much Yahoo! News. Anyway, I only call this the “shortest” game in MLB history because it was suspended in the middle of the 9th inning in a 0-0 tie last night.
Today, the Phillies and Reds resumed play before their regularly-scheduled night game. The first three batters for the Reds reached base, and then Jay Bruce did this:
And that’s all folks. Even the Phillies players looked like they were laughing coming off the field. Good thing one-inning games aren’t standard. You could take a sip of beer and miss the entire thing.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
In the wake of the tragedy at the Boston Marathon on Monday, MLB teams showed their support for the city of Boston by playing “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. The song is a staple at Fenway Park and is sung by Red Sox fans before the bottom of the 8th inning. The song was played at home games by the Braves, Marlins, Reds, Cubs, Twins, Dodgers, Indians (who were playing the Red Sox), and even their biggest rival, the Yankees. Here is the video of “Sweet Caroline” being played at the end of the 3rd inning at Yankee Stadium.
Here’s the Target Field version:
Down in Miami at Marlins Park:
All the way on the other coast at Dodger Stadium:
And at O.co Coliseum in Oakland:
Turner Field in Atlanta where the Braves went on to hit three homers in the bottom of the 8th:
The Brewers showed their support by playing another famous Boston song, the theme from “Cheers”. That can be heard at the 1:40 mark of this video.
You have to love the support that Boston is getting from across the country. It’s the little things like this that add up to big things. It really is “so good, so good, so good.”
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
Commissioner Bud Selig announced today that the MLB All-Star Game would return to Cincinnati for the first time since 1988 when the Reds played at Riverfront Stadium. It will be the first All-Star Game played at Great American Ballpark, which will join Riverfront Stadium and Crosley Field as Queen City ballparks that have hosted the mid-season classic. With Great American Ballpark hosting the 2015 game, it will leave just Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PETCO Park in San Diego, Nationals Park in Washington D.C., Marlins Park in Miami, Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, and New Yankee Stadium in The Bronx as the only current stadiums not to have hosted the All-Star Game. The Reds franchise will join the Minnesota Twins (who are hosting the 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field) to host the festivities in THREE different ballparks.
Here’s the glorious part about Great American Ballpark having the All-Star Game in its confines. It also gets to host the Home Run Derby! If there ever was a stadium that is perfectly set up for a derby, it’s the stadium that is lovingly called “the Great American Small-Park.” I’m already getting excited to see the games best mashers blasting homers. We could be there all night! Even better, is the Ohio River beyond the right field wall gives lefties a great target to go for. I mean if Juan Francisco could do it in an actual game in 2011, I think the game’s best could do it in a home run derby. I almost want to fast-forward to 2015 now to see it play out. I haven’t been this excited for a home run derby since Ken Griffey Jr. took aim at the warehouse beyond Camden Yards.
I couldn’t resist thinking ahead to 2015 and who could actually be participating in the 2015 Home Run Derby. I’m going to use the 2012 format to project who will be launching mammos in Cincinnati.
Captain Bryce Harper: The obvious player for this. He’ll be 22 and a possible superstar by 2015 if everything goes according to plan. Even better that he hits left-handed so the Ohio River will be in play. If this video from when Harper is any indication of his derby abilities, there will more splashdowns than a water park.
Joey Votto or Jay Bruce: Have to get one of the hometown guys into the competition. I don’t want a Billy Butler situation here. Both are lefties which plays into my Ohio River hopes. I think that Bruce is the more likely of the two to participate as he’ll be in his prime at 28 years old. He also could be a legit 40-homer player by then.
Giancarlo Stanton: This one I’m not sure on. He could be in the American League for all I know. We all missed out on Stanton participating in the 2012 Home Run Derby in Kansas City, but I think he’ll return for the derby in 2013 at Citi Field. That gives him a year to sit out in 2014 (sorry Twins fans) and come back to defend a potential title the way that Prince Fielder did this past year. I can’t have eight left-handed batters though sadly. This also gives me an excuse to show this video again. HE BROKE A SCOREBOARD.
Jason Heyward: Alright a bit of a homer pick. Pun intended. Heyward showed that he has the potential to be a 35-homer player in 2012 when he blasted 27 yicketties. If the power continues to develop, he’ll be 25 for the 2015 All-Star Game and quite possibly could be the best right fielder in the game at that point. Also helps that, you guessed it, he’s left-handed!
Other potential derby participants: Ike Davis, Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton and Anthony Rizzo
Captain Prince Fielder: I went back and forth on who potentially would be the captain for the American League. I settled on Fielder, who I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes a couple years off after winning the derby in 2012. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s a two-time champion, and he’s left handed. He’s going to want to eventually match Ken Griffey Jr. with three derby titles and I think he might wait til Cincinnati to do it. Plus, he has experience hitting it in the water.
Adam Dunn: Hear me out on this one! A) He’s left handed B) He’s never participated in a Home Run Derby C) It’d be nice for him to have his first one in Cincinnati where he used to play. He’ll still only be 35 at that point. If he was ever going to give it a go, I think the lure of doing it in the Queen City would be enough for him. Especially with the Ohio River calling his name.
Yoenis Céspedes: If Céspedes was left-handed he’d be a dream for this future derby. However, he will still be a great option. He’ll be in the heart of his prime at 29 years old. If he stays healthy, he’ll be a potential All-Star for Oakland. We all know he has some major power too. Especially after seeing this.
Wil Myers: The game isn’t until 2015! I have to have one player that hasn’t even played in the Majors yet to speculate on, right? I’m going to go with Tampa Bay’s future star in Wil Myers. Myers has the best power potential of any prospect right now. I’m deeply saddened though that I’ve now put three righties on the American League side. Maybe Robinson Cano won’t be broken up and come back to try the derby again?
Other potential derby participants: Mark Trumbo, Robinson Cano, Dayan Viciedo, Mike Moustakas, and Eric Hosmer
Who would you want to see take aim at the Ohio River in the 2015 Home Run Derby? Let us know in the comments!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
Okay, so the Diamondbacks aren’t in Ohio. But two of the three teams involved in today’s mega-deal are! Fans of both the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds must be feeling pretty good about the moves they made.
The Indians finally found a good fit for star outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, but even they might end up surprised with the return they got on the investment. And Choo’s new team, the Reds, are clear favorites to repeat in the NL Central after adding a quality bat and glove like his.
And the middle child, Arizona, is stuck with the biggest question mark. Luckily for them, their guy also may net the biggest return. However, the ultimate prize for the D’Backs may be that with a shortstop added to the mix, Justin Upton will be staying put in the desert.
Will the other, secondary players in this trade make an impact down the road? This writer sure thinks so.
Let’s break down this three-way trade:
SS Didi Gregorius (AAA) from CIN
RP Tony Sipp (AAA) from CLE
1B Lars Anderson (AAA) from CLE
OF Shin-Soo Choo from CLE
IF Jason Donald from CLE
$3.5 million from CLE
OF Drew Stubbs from CIN
SP Trevor Bauer from ARI
RP Bryan Shaw from ARI
RP Matt Albers from ARI
Wow, that’s a doozy. The first thing that stands out to me when breaking down this trade is the ultimate haul of ridiculous talent that ends up in Cleveland. Though Stubbs hasn’t quite lived up to his billing in Cincy – mostly due to a high strikeout rate – he’s extremely gifted.
I’m talking speed, power and defense in a combination that few players can match. Even if he struggles to acclimate to Cleveland and continues to fail at getting on base, I think the Indians have a very workable project with Stubbs, who is still young and has a very high ceiling. He should fill in nicely for Choo for the time being.
The real prize has to be Bauer, a top pitching prospect who is considered among the best in baseball. I’m a little bit surprised the Diamondbacks parted with him over Tyler Skaggs, but I’m not one to question that brilliant front office. Bauer brings power, wisdom and accuracy to the mound. At the ripe young age of 21, Bauer is under team control for a long time and should blossom into a star, barring injury.
Throw in the fact that Cleveland landed two right-handed relievers under age 3o, and they might just win this whole darn thing. Matt Albers, 29, has a 2.57 ERA last season between the Blue Jays and Diamondbacks, and Shaw, 25, put up pretty good numbers as well.
Over in Cincinnati, the Reds have found a full-time center fielder. One has to wonder if that will backfire, given that Choo has only played 10 games there in his whole career. That being said, the outfield is all the same – center field commands more of a range, but if you can catch a fly ball and throw a runner out, you can do it well from anywhere out there.
Personally, I think Choo will figure it out pretty quick and be an above-average center fielder. And never fear, Reds fans. Choo is most likely a one-year stop-gap before uber-prospect Billy Hamilton reaches the Majors for good in 2014. Adding in Donald isn’t extremely noteworthy, but he’s a good utility man who can provide a spark off the bench across multiple positions – or fill a potentially-vacant role at third base.
In Arizona, fans might be wondering why their team moved one of the best minor league arms in baseball for a guy named Didi. But one look at Gregorius’ tape and stats, and you may be convinced. He is under team control until 2019, and may be that franchise shortstop the D’Backs have been searching for.
The stats aren’t anything exceptionally flashy, but they don’t tell the whole story. Multiple analysts rank Gregorius as a plus-fielder and a plus-hitter for average. His nearly 450 games in the minors so far have produced a .271 career average and respectable fielding numbers.
If Gregorius lives up to the enormous potential he possesses, the D’Backs may have gotten the biggest steal of the whole trade. And don’t forget they got Sipp and Anderson too. Sipp has a career 3.68 ERA, but is just entering his prime. Anderson is also under team control until 2019 and could very well blossom into a power-hitting, left-handed first baseman.
As it stands now, the Reds definitely win in the short-term with this trade. In the long run, I like what the Indians got. And the dark horse Diamondbacks will need all three players to really pay off if they want to even be considered as winners of this deal. But enough of my opinion – what do you think?
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
Chicks may dig the long ball, but it’s fielding that makes for the most exciting highlights in the game of baseball. What have been the best displays of defensive excellence this season? Let’s see if I can only limit Mike Trout to one play.
Let’s start it off with Mike Trout with what I believe is the best play of the year. Look at the leap. Look at the extension. I don’t think there is anyone else that makes this play in the Majors. Trout has taken away five home runs this season, but this one was the best.
Trout’s catch was given a run for it’s money though by Blue Jays Rajai Davis. He uses the wall to catapult himself up over a 10-foot wall to rob Casey McGahee. This one is a thing of beauty.
This is one of the top infield plays of the season by Diamondbacks do-it-all man Willie Bloomquist. He ranges to the other side of 2nd base and flips the ball backward almost in a somersault position to Aaron Hill for the force out. Bonus points for getting out Emilio Bonifacio, one of the fastest players in MLB.
Speaking of somersaults, here’s Twins Ben Revere making a great catch in the 9th inning and rolling into a somersault. Revere is one of the best in the league at spectacular plays.
I’m impartial to this play because I was at the MLB Fan Cave when it happened. Tigers Quintin Berry gets turned around, goes back and make a leaping catch over his head. I’m still not sure how he got to it. It was a huge save for the Tigers as they kept the lead at one and took the lead in the 9th inning. Without this catch, they lose.
Who has the best right field arm? My answer has been Jeff Francouer since he was an Atlanta Brave. Look at that laser rocket arm throwing out Alexei Ramirez.
Why has Brandon Phillips won two straight Gold Gloves at second base? Plays like this are part of the reason. He makes a behind-the-back flip look easy.
I promised my fellow podcast host Jeremy Dorn that I would get a Dodgers play into this. Check out Justin Sellers going full sprint over the shoulder and going head first into the stands. If you can get Vin Scully to go “Whoa!” and “Gee whiz!” that works for me.
A late addition to this blog. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pitcher almost end up on the dirt to make a play in no-man’s land going the wrong way like J.P. Howell.
The hands-down Minor League play of the year. Jason Repko robs a grand slam from Kosuke Fukudome for the Pawtucket Red Sox. He even tumbles OVER the wall to complete the play.
Bottom of the 12th, up by one with runners on 1st and 2nd, Roger Bernadina saves the day as he becomes one with Minute Maid Park to win the game for the Nationals.
I’ll close with a double-dip of amazing Giants plays. The first was an amazing, diving catch for Gregor Blanco. This catch was the most important on this list as it preserved Matt Cain’s perfect game. The second is the kookiest play of this list as Pablo Sandoval bobbles a catch in foul territory, dives, tips it up and is caught by a diving Brandon Crawford.
Everyone goes with a top ten list, but I love defense so much that I went with a top thirteen! I can’t resist the urge though, here’s another Mike Trout home run robbery! This one to end the game off the bat of Prince Fielder.
Did I miss anything? What’s your favorite play of the year? Let us know in the comments!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
The choices for the #MapesFantasySpecial are pretty slim on Wednesday, but I think there are a couple options that could help your fantasy team.
We featured his Brewers teammate Wily Peralta on this week’s podcast, but Marco Estrada has been just as great as Milwaukee has made a push for the playoffs. Estrada has given up just 1ER or less in four of his last five starts, with three of them giving up no earned runs at all. Estrada takes on a Pirates squad that he gave up just one earned run in seven innings with 10 strikeouts just three starts ago. If he puts up even slightly worse numbers, it’s a worthy pick-up that’s available in 73% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
If You’re Desperate: Rays rookie Chris Archer has great strikeout potential (28K in 22.1IP) if you need a boost there. If you’re worried about the match-up against Boston, in Archer’s last start he shut down Texas over 7 innings with 11 strikeouts. Archer is owned in just 5% of leagues. Reds Mike Leake (10% owned) has good numbers in his career against the Cubs, but gave up 3ER in six innings last time he pitched at Wrigley. Orioles Joe Saunders (12% owned) has a juicy match-up at the Mariners and has settled down since getting roughed up in his first start with Baltimore. Unfortunately, he’s going up against King Felix, so don’t go in expecting a win. John Lannan (4% owned) was great in his 1st start back in place of Stephen Strasburg tossing 5.2 shutout innings. The Dodgers lineup still hasn’t been great and Lannan is 4-1 in his career against Los Angeles. Don’t expect to get many strikeouts though.
If You’re Desperate Rankings: Archer, Saunders, Leake, Lannan
Good luck in your fantasy leagues!
9/18 4 PM Update: Mets pitcher Matt Harvey was scratched from his start Tuesday night and will start Wednesday 9/19 instead. I like him more than any of these.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)