Sunday, October 25, 2015

How It's Made: Major League Baseball Bats

Last night the popular television show showed us how Major League baseballs are made right here on the blog and tonight we look at how to make the bat that hits them 400+ feet and into the stands. Enjoy.

Using Ron Guidry as an Example for Why Rob Refsnyder Should Start At Second Base in 2016

Earlier today we took a trip down memory lane when we remembered a great Yankees player of the past, Ron Guidry. In the piece we pointed out that Guidry almost quit Major League Baseball after the New York Yankees continuously sent the man that would eventually be called “Louisiana Lightning” back and forth from Triple-A to the Major Leagues. Along with these free bus shuttles and back forth to the minor leagues came trade rumors and near trades leaving Guidry wondering if his career was meant to be or even worth pursuing. I’m not comparing the two players by any stretch of the imagination but it gives you, the fans, a small insight into the mind of a player trying to break into the Major Leagues and shows you that even the toughest individuals have a breaking point. This, among other reasons, is why the Yankees should stop jerking Robert Refsnyder around by blocking him at second base and let him platoon with Dustin Ackley at the position in 2016.

You can use this example for any positional prospect or pitching prospect on any team but no player got their hopes crushed more in less than two seasons than Refsnyder in my opinion. Refsnyder hit the cover off the ball in 2014 but was kept in Triple-A due to his defensive concerns after being switched to second base after being drafted in 2012. Refsnyder spent the entire 2014 season in the minor leagues and finished in Triple-A with the Scranton/Wilkes Barre and was seen knocking on the door of the Bronx in spring training of 2015. Refsnyder saw his hopes rise when New York traded Martin Prado to the Miami Marlins in the deal that brought Garrett Jones and Nathan Eovaldi back to the Yankees and saw them dashed just as quickly when the team signed Stephen Drew to a free agent contract. Sure this won’t happen again in 2016, right?

There have already been rumors, although naturally everyone denies them including Refsnyder and Yankees GM Brian Cashman, of Refsnyder having a bad attitude after being sent back down to the minor leagues in July which is probably just the beginning. Refsnyder didn’t have a bad attitude, he lacked motivation because he was discouraged. We all get like that and no one is perfect. It can be disheartening and heartbreaking to work your tail off only to get continuously mentioned in trade talks, sent back down or kept in the minor leagues and kept on the bench when you’re on the Major League roster. Ron Guidry was a tough man, as tough as they come, and he almost quite baseball for similar reasons and I would hate to see that negativity invade Refsnyder as well.

Refsnyder has earned his shot in my opinion and I think he personally deserves it. It worked out well last time, the Yankees don’t win the 1978 World Series without Guidry and his 25 victories, so why not try to catch lightning in a bottle once again?

Why I Won’t Root for the Mets

This is my personal testimony, this is not entitled “Why Yankees fans should not root for the Mets.” This is why I, Daniel Burch, personally do not root for the Mets. I don’t hate the Mets, more than half my family are Mets fans and I congratulated them all when New York clinched the World Series berth against the Chicago Cubs. Matt Kardos, a Trenton Thunder beat writer, is someone I consider my friend and I congratulated him as well because I know he is a true and diehard Mets fans. It’s the other Mets fans that make it hard to damn near impossible for me to watch and root for the team.

Maybe it’s just me but I have a hard time understanding the fair-weather fans and the bandwagon fans in any sport. I have been a fan of the New York Yankees literally all my life. I was born in the Bronx inside Bronx Lebanon Hospital and I can remember my father telling me he could see the stadium from my hospital bed. I can remember being told I was a Yankees player in every game I played and all I wanted to do was watch and play Yankees baseball ever since I was two years old. I am proud to be a die-hard fan and I get annoyed when I see certain fans, specifically on Twitter, acting the way that they do. I want to tell them to act like they’ve been here before but then I remember that most of them haven’t been here before.

It’s not even the fact that a lot of these fans were wearing Yankees hats six months ago, what bothers me is how cocky and arrogant they are to me on Twitter. You guys know me, I try to be fair to everyone. Everyone on my team and everyone on everybody else’s team. I have more Toronto Blue Jays followers than I do Mets followers and most of them have told me I have a great account and that I’m fair to both sides. Mets fans just tell me I suck and I should root for them because they are a New York team, even though none of them rooted for the Yankees a day in their life. A lot of Mets fans want their cake and they want to smash it in my face and THEN eat it too.

It’s nothing against the Mets I just can’t bring myself to align myself with some of these people who act a fool behind the anonymity of the internet. One guy called me a “clown” and then told me if I was ever in the New Rochelle area to come visit his pizzeria…. Really? I’m happy for the fans of the Mets, the fans that were fans in 2000 the last time the team went to the World Series. The fans that suffered through the Roberto Alomar and Mo Vaugh years along with the botched trades (Victor Zambrano) and free agent signings. As far as these Mets fans that rode the same bus to baseball fandom that the Toronto Blue Jays “fans” rode I have no time for. They don’t deserve this as much as the true fans and that’s why I cannot bring myself to root for the New York Mets. 

Remembering Yankees of the Past: Ron Guidry

Ronald Ames Guidry was born on August 28, 1950 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Guidry spent his college years pitching for the university of Southwestern Louisiana (now known as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette) where he earned the attention from Major League scouts, but no scouts were more interested than those of the New York Yankees. When all was said and done Louisian Lightning, or Gator whichever nickname you prefer, pitched 14 seasons in the Bronx from 1975 to 1988 before also spending time as the team’s pitching coach from 2006 to 2007. Gator was a Yankee through and through and today we remember a great Yankee of the past, Mr. Ron Guidry.

Guidry was bounced around between the minor league and the Major Leagues, the bullpen and the starting rotation and from the trade block off the trade block and back on again from 1975 to 1977 before getting a full-time shot in 1978. Guidry almost quit baseball due to the shuffling back and forth and the constant trade rumors surrounding him but it was his wife that eventually talked him into staying in the game and staying in the Bronx. Guidry’s wife didn’t marry a quitter and Guidry didn’t quit much to the delight of the Yankees. See New York called Guidry up in 1977 as a relief pitcher before moving him to the starting rotation where he began the 1978 season. Guidry contemplated quitting the game with his 1977 World Series ring in hand but instead used that fire to lead the Yankees pitching staff to a second World Series victory in 1978. Guidry went 4-0 in the postseason with three complete games in five starts allowing just nine earned runs in 37.1 innings pitched.

Guidry was on the map and the Yankees radar after striking out a Yankees-record 18 batters in a single game against the California Angels on June 17th and especially after finishing the season 25-3 with an unheard of 1.74 ERA. Guidry won the American League Cy Young Award in 1978 and finished second in the American League MVP race to the Boston Red Sox slugger Jim Rice, Guidry went from almost quitting the game to almost becoming the first pitcher to win the MVP Award in Major League history all in one calendar year, not bad for a boy from Louisiana and not bad for a team that needed all 25 of his victories to even make the postseason. Guidry’s 25th victory came at the expense of the Boston Red Sox in that famous one-game playoff. Most know it as the Bucky Dent game but Guidry remembers it as the game that stole the heart of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

Guidry continued to pitch well despite the Bronx burning down around him and despite the collective cast of characters the Yankees threw out there were less than effective. Guidry quietly won five consecutive Gold Glove Awards for the struggling Yankees and compiled a 113-57 record in the five seasons after his World Series heroics of 1977 and 1978. Arm problems hit Guidry in 1981 and a shoulder surgery that would not improve his condition ultimately ended his career with the Yankees on July 12, 1989.

When Guidry retired he has a 1978 Cy Young Award under his belt along with two World Series rings, one Sporting News AL Pitcher and Major League Player of the Year Award (1978), four AL Sporting News All-Star teams (1978, 1981, 1983 and 1985) and finished in the Top 10 in the Cy Young Award voting six times from 1977-1985. Guidry was named the co-captain of the New York Yankees alongside Willie Randolph from March 4, 1986 until the day he retired in 1989 and even had his number 49 retired by the Yankees on Ron Guidry Day. Guidry’s plaque that he received on August 23, 2003 stated that Louisiana Lightning was a “dominating pitcher and a respected leader” along with the words “True Yankee” engraved on the piece. Guidry lived and breathed the New York Yankees and would be remembered as so for the rest of time.

Guidry made his return to the team in 2006 but not as a pitcher but as a pitching coach under then manager Joe Torre. Guidry was named the pitching coach that replaced Mel Stottlemyre and under his tenure the Yankees enjoyed a mixed bag of results. In 2005 the Yankees staff ERA was 4.52 and under Gator it dropped to 4.41 in 2006 although that same number climbed back to 4.49 in 2007 which was good for just 17th in Major League Baseball that season. Torre and the Yankees mutually decided not to reunite for the 2008 season and Guidry’s tenure as the Yankees pitching coach ended as well that season as new manager Joe Girardi did not offer him a position on his staff. Guidry has returned to the team as a spring training instructor but seems content being out of the game and out of the Bronx Zoo that he called home for so many years.

Guidry was one of those great Yankees that we don’t hear nearly enough about because the team was so bad during the 19080’s. Guidry is a talent and a personality that will likely never be emulated again, at least during my lifetime, and should be celebrated as so. This has been Remembering Yankees of the Past, the Ron Guidry edition.

Japanese Betting Scandal hits Japanese World Series

The Pete Rose of the Japanese baseball league and the Shoeless Joe Jackson of the Japanese World Series is about to be exposed. I am exaggerating a bit to set the tone but a gambling scandal has hit Japanese professional baseball, and probably at the worst possible time. Japan’s version of the World Series is set to begin but it will not begin before Nippon Professional Baseball can announce that two more pitchers from the Yomiuri Giants bet on professional baseball games.

This is the worst possible time not only for the NPB but for baseball as a whole as the sport is still actively trying to get back into the Olympics. Two weeks ago, and this hasn’t been talked about much for whatever reason, Yomiuri Giants pitcher Satoshi Fukuda was caught betting on games involving his team as well as Major League Baseball games. Betting on games and fixing games are two different stories, and there is no evidence that Fukuda fixed games whatsoever, but neither scenario is going to help the NPB or baseball as a whole.

Shoki Kasahar and Ryuya Matsumoto have admitted to betting on baseball but deny any fixing of games, both are also members of the Yomiuri Giants. All three men, who have bet on anything from NPB games to High School games to MLB games, have given the sport the black eye and will now carry the weight of the sport if baseball, which has been out of the Olympics since 2008, does not return to the Olympic Games in 2020 when they head out to Tokyo. 

2015 World Series Schedule Released

The 2015 World Series will mark the 111th time in Major League Baseball history that the best from the American League and the best from the National League square off head-to-head to decide the best team for that season. The 2015 version will showcase the New York Mets for the National League and the Kansas City Royals for the American League. It’s hard to pick a winner in this series but I think I have to bet against the young New York Mets and go with the Kansas City Royals, but maybe that’s just the Yankees fan talking out loud. To see the winner I guess we’ll all just have to watch and find out for ourselves so here is the schedule that Major League Baseball announced just a few days ago. 

Game 1 - Kauffman Stadium - October 27

Game 2 - Kauffman Stadium - October 28

Game 3 - Citi Field - October 30

Game 4 - Citi Field - October 31

Game 5 (if necessary) - Citi Field - November 1

Game 6 (if necessary) - Kauffman Stadium - November 3

Game 7 (if necessary) - Kauffman Stadium - November 4

All games will be on FOX and will have an 8:07 pm ET start with the exception of the potential Game 5 matchup on November, 1 which will have an 8:15 start time. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 10/25: 2009 Yankees Reach World Series

On this day in 2009 the Yankees would win their 40th American League pennant in their storied history with a victory over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. This will end a six year drought in the World Series for the Yankees as they would take on the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2009 Fall Classic. This would be the Yankees first World Series win since their victory over the Mets in the 2000 Subway World Series.

On this day in 2000 Mike Piazza, yes I know a member of the Mets, became the first player in World Series history to hit a home run in both Shea Stadium and Yankees Stadium. Piazza hit the home run off of Yankees starter Denny Neagle in a 3-2 Mets loss in Game 4.

On this day in 1939 Joe DiMaggio would win his first MVP award of his career. DiMaggio beat out Jimmy Foxx and Bob Feller easily for the American League award with 15 of the 24 first place votes. DiMaggio would also win the award in 1941 and 1947 as well.