I’ve never seen the kid play before tonight. My only knowledge of him is through articles I’ve read and the few highlights I’ve seen.
Based on that limited exposure, I had a negative impression of Harper going into the game. After watching him play……… I’m not sure how I feel.
Everything about this kid screams “Look at me!” From the haircut, to the flipping off of his helmet as he ran the bases, to the grey painted bat. And make no mistake, it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a bat that color. It reminded me of the first time I ever saw a player use a black painted bat- George Foster mid 70’s.
What also screamed look at me? That bullet of a line drive that he hit to dead center over Matt Kemp’s head and the way he busted his ass down to second base. And then on defense, the laser throw he made from left field to home plate on a single to left. His throw beat the runner but Ramos dropped the ball.
I sorta get the feeling that he is a “Pete Rose”. He is gonna play hard…..tonight….tomorrow……every game ……every pitch. And if you don’t like him or the way he plays…… too bad for you because he doesn’t care.
It’s gonna make him a very polarizing player, like Rose was.
Now he just needs to put up the numbers.
With 23 year old ace Stephen Strasburg on the mound against the Dodgers, the Nats will have 19 year old rookie Bryce Harper in left field. Harper is regarded as the best prospect in baseball.
Harper was drafted number one overall in the June 2010 amateur draft by the Nationals and his arrival in Washington has been anticipated by the fans ever since.
No matter how exciting Harper may seem though to National fans, he does come with some warts. Harper was drafted as a catcher, but it was clear right away that Bryce did not have the defensive talent to stay behind the plate, couple that with Washington having a solid catcher already (W Ramos) and Nationals management put Harper in the outfield. This spring Harper was sent to AAA Syracuse, he hasn’t exactly been lighting it up. I know it’s a small sample size, but Harper is hitting just .250 with 1 HR and 3 RBI in 82 plate appearances. Those are generally not the type of stats that get you promoted to replace a perennial all-star (Ryan Zimmerman).
There have also been questions about his personal makeup. I’m not sure how much stock you can put into those reports, but let’s face it, anytime you have a 19 year old kid that quit high school early just to play baseball and is now getting called up to play in the major leagues…… well….that’s not something that happens every day and it’s bound to give a kid some ego.
So now the Nationals have Strasburg and Harper, the two guys that Washington is hoping will be the nucleus of the team for the next decade or more. And I hope it works out for them, but as fans of the Cubs (Wood & Prior) can tell you, it doesn’t always work out like you want.
The Cubs beat Roy Halladay tonight………surprising?? Halladay has a winning record over every team in baseball except the Red Sox (14-15), the Giants (1-2) and guess who? The CUBS (1-5)!!!!!
The Cubs are not a good team this year (7-13), but it seems like they have caught Philadelphia at a good time. The Phillies are just 9-11 and are struggling to score runs (14th in the NL). But don’t be fooled, this Cubs team is gonna be lucky to win 75 games this year and I’m happy that they can pick up any wins, especially against Roy Halladay.
Are the Cardinals missing Albert Pujols? Doesn’t look like it so far. The Cards lead the NL Central with a 13-7 record, lead the NL in BA (.269) and are second in HR’s (22). And oh yeah, they don’t have a $270M debt on the books.
Meanwhile….are the Angels (6-14) panicking already? Tonight they released Bobby Abreu and called up Mike Trout. I know Trout is killing it in AAA and Peter Bourjos is struggling, but if you are gonna bring this kid up, he has to play every day………… not many 20 year olds have produced in the big leagues, I don’t see Trout being the exception to the rule. Expect him to have a tough time.
Can we please give the couple in Texas that “stole” the ball from a young child a break? The couple was oblivious, but they didn’t steal the ball and they weren’t monsters. Michael Kay went over the top with his description of the events……………which reminds me. I’ve always thought that Steve Lyons owes Steve Bartman a huge apology. That night Lyons was doing the game on TV and he went wayyyyyy over the top blaming Bartman for touching that ball.
I don’t know what it is with closers this year, but between injuries and ineffectiveness, there are about 20 teams that are getting save opportunities but don’t have a solid closer……………makes me respect what Mariano Rivera has done more and more.
Tom Verducci has a new article out this week in Sports Illustrated in which he suggest that baseball has made a mistake in the way that they have handled the closer position; and that that mistake has lead to an increase in arm injuries. Verducci makes a comparison between Brian Wilson and Jeff Reardon to illustrate his point, yet he conveniently forgets about another great closer Bruce Sutter of that era and how his career ended after he blew his elbow out.
While there is no doubt that we have seen some high profile closers go down this spring ( Soria, Madson, Wilson), is there any evidence that there are more arm injuries now than 20/30/50 years ago? I don’t know.
Sure, we hear of ever arm injury now, it’s certainly easier to diagnose them. But the odds are that many of the “sore arms” of the 60’s and 70’s are the same injuries that we are seeing now, but they just weren’t diagnosed that way. Maybe the pitchers then didn’t leave the game because of “injury”, they just were no longer used because they “just couldn’t seem to get anyone out anymore”.
Let’s face it, pitchers under the Reserve Clause system had zero incentive to report arm injuries. First of course is the fact that they basically had no way to repair a damaged arm anyway. Second was the money structure of the game. Baseball was truly a job for a large percentage of the players. A job that paid the bills, not one like today that sets up a player financial for life.
Many people are quick to suggest that the money has made the player of today soft. Since the eighties I’ve been hearing people say that the big money and free agent contracts will prevent players from staying motivated and playing as long as possible. But quick, when was the last time that you remember a player under the age of say 37 volunteering to retire when there were known offers out there for that player, I can’t think of any. Oh wait, I can. Sandy Koufax. And he didn’t leave because of the money, he quit because he wanted to be able to raise his left arm above his head when he was 60.
In fact, if money is such a de-motivator, why do we see players continue to undergo the knife so that they can keep pitching? Brian Wilson has made $21M the last 3 years on the field plus all the money he’s made off the field, yet he is about to have a second arm surgery so that he can come back and pitch again. And the funny things is, because of that, instead of calling him a tough S O B that just wants to play the game until every single last drop of sweat that he has is left out on the field, lots of people will say he is doing it just to get one more contract.
How about Tim Lincecum? After three poor starts and a drop in velocity, many people are questioning whether he has an arm injury or not, but I don’t hear anyone talking about how tough he is and that he is a throwback to the old days when pitchers just showed up every time it was their turn to take the ball no matter how their arm feels. Yet when Verlander throws a 133 pitch complete game he gets heaped with praise for his “old school” ways.
So I don’t know if there are more arm injuries out there or not. Maybe it’s just that throwing a baseball is not an easy thing to do.
And so for every Juan Marichal, Nolan Ryan, Greg Maddux, and Roy Halladay out there, you will find a Chuck Estrada, Mark Fidrych, Brien Taylor, and Mark Prior.
The National have as many wins (8) as the Angels (4) and the Red Sox (4) combined.
The Pirates have scored less than half as many runs (19) as the Cubs (40), yet they have the same record (3-7)
Who said only the Cubs play day baseball? The Tigers have played 10 games (7-3) this season, all day games.
Conventional wisdom…..pitch lefties against the Reds to neutralize their lefty/lefty heart of Votto and Bruce. So far the Reds are 3-1 vs left handed starters. Oh, BTW, they are just 1-5 vs righties.
What did I buy Pt I? The Dodgers cost Magic Johnson and his partners $2Billion, looks good so far as LA is off to a 9-1 start.
What did I buy Pt II? Artie Moreno signed Albert Pujols for a quarter of a billion dollars. He has 0 HR in his first 41 AB’s. That is the longest homerless streak to start a season in Albert’s career.
They guy Albert displaced at first base, Mark Trumbo, is tied for the team lead in homers despite limited AB’s (16)
Albert who? The Cardinals lead the majors with a .299 team batting average and are second in HR’s (15)
What does it mean Pt I? Shelly Duncan has seen the most Pitches/AB (5.06) of any player. He is hitting .320 with just 6 strikeouts. Adam Dunn is second in P/AB (4.85). He is hitting .200 with a league leading 16 K’s.
What does it mean Pt II? Chad Billingsley leads the majors with a 0.63 ERA. He has a 15.0 K/BB ratio. Jake Westbrook is second in ERA with 0.64, he has a 0.80 K/BB ratio.
Baltimore hitters have 41 extra base hits (XBH), which is tops in the league. Pirate hitters have just 14
Who saw this coming Pt I? Jack Westbrook, Joe Saunders, and Kyle Lohse have a combined record of 5-0 with a 0.87 ERA.
Who saw this coming Pt II? Tim Lincecum, Dan Haren, and CC Sabathia are a combined 0-3 with an 8.25 ERA
Edinson Volquez leads the league in stolen bases against (5), but wait, he also leads the lead in caught stealing against (3)
Defense was a big concern for Detroit going into the season, and they do lead the league in the errors category…………. with the fewest (1)
Austin Jackson is hitting .405 (15 of 37) with 2 HR’s, he has 4 RBI. J.P. Arencibia only has 2 HITS (0.71 BA), he has 5 RBI.
Sixty-five years ago today Jackie Robinson took the field in Brooklyn for the Dodgers to become the first black player to play in the majors since the banning of black players became official league policy in the late 1880’s.
In 1997, the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s first season, Major League Baseball commemorated the historic event by officially retiring Jackie’s #42 league wide. Each year since, baseball has celebrated April 15th as Jackie Robinson Day.
Although I don’t think Robinson’s story can be told enough to baseball fans, especially younger fans that are just learning the game, I think in general most know of Jackie Robinson and what he accomplished.
What most fans don’t know is that Robinson wasn’t the only African-American to play in the majors in 1947 and that his arrival didn’t exactly inspire all other teams to integrate their rosters immediately after.
On July 5th 1947, just 10 weeks after Robinson’s first game, Larry Doby became the second black player in the majors, and the first in the American League when he joined the Cleveland Indians. Doby played sparingly that first season, starting in only 1 of his 29 games. But Doby was an excellent player, and after getting a chance to win a starting job in the spring of 1948 he went on to play in 7 All-Star games and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998.
Also playing in the majors that year was Hank Thompson. Thompson played his first game on July 17th 1947 for the St Louis Browns. Although he wasn’t the player that both Robinson and Doby were, Hank Thompson was a solid player over 9 seasons with the Browns and the NY Giants.
On August 9th 1947, Doby and Thompson became the first black players to play against one another in a major league game. Thompson started at second base for the Browns and went 3 for 3 with 2 RBI while Doby pinch hit for the Indians, drawing a walk and scoring a run.
Despite the success of Robinson though, not all the teams were quick to integrate. The Chicago White Sox first black player was Minnie Minoso in 1951, and the Cubs didn’t have their first black player until Ernie Banks played late in the 1953 season, some six and a half years after Robinson first played for the Dodgers.
Here is a list of the first black player to play on each team before expansion in 1961.
|Jackie Robinson||Brooklyn Dodgers, NL||April 15, 1947|
|Larry Doby||Cleveland Indians, AL||July 5, 1947|
|Hank Thompson||St. Louis Browns, AL||July 17, 1947|
|Monte Irvin||New York Giants, NL||July 8, 1949|
|Hank Thompson||New York Giants, NL||July 8, 1949|
|Sam Jethroe||Boston Braves, NL||April 18, 1950|
|Minnie Miñoso||Chicago White Sox, AL||May 1, 1951|
|Bob Trice||Philadelphia Athletics, AL||September 13, 1953|
|Ernie Banks||Chicago Cubs, NL||September 17, 1953|
|Curt Roberts||Pittsburgh Pirates, NL||April 13, 1954|
|Tom Alston||St. Louis Cardinals, NL||April 13, 1954|
|Nino Escalera||Cincinnati Reds, NL||April 17, 1954|
|Chuck Harmon||Cincinnati Reds, NL||April 17, 1954|
|Carlos Paula||Washington Senators, AL||September 6, 1954|
|Elston Howard||New York Yankees, AL||April 14, 1955|
|John Kennedy||Philadelphia Phillies, NL||April 22, 1957|
|Ozzie Virgil, Sr.||Detroit Tigers, AL||June 6, 1958|
|Pumpsie Green||Boston Red Sox, AL||July 21, 1959|
Losing 5 of the first 6 games of the season, particularly since they were at home, was not the way the Cubs had hoped to start. But an 8-0 win over the Brewers today is what Chicago needed as they head to St. Louis tomorrow to start the first road trip of the season.
Matt Garza was dominate today, striking out 9 Milwaukee hitters while allowing just 3 hits and 0 runs over 8.2 innings.
In fact; the Cubs starting pitching, save Paul Maholm, has been very good to start the season. In 7 games, the Chicago starters have a 2.89 combined ERA with 45 K’s in 46.2 innings.
The bullpen has been another story. Generally I hate to use small sample sizes to look at stats, good or bad, and 7 games is a small sample, but so far the Cubs bullpen has been shaky at best. Through the first 7, the relievers have a 6.19 ERA with 13 walks in 16 innings.
The Cubs offense also found a groove today with 8 runs on 13 hits, although the power outage continued as Chicago has hit just 3 home runs.
And so now the Cubs hit the road for 3 in St Louis and then to Miami where they will play the Marlins and the returning Ozzie Guillen.
I was originally going to name this post “Welcome to Miami, Ozzie”, but somehow that title implies that Ozzie will change his ways now that he is in Miami. If there is one thing I’ve learned about watching Ozzie Guillen from a local perspective the last eight years is that Ozzie doesn’t change.
The guy loves to hear himself talk, loves the ‘Ozzie being Ozzie’ description, and if you give him enough time and a microphone…..he’s going to say something stupid or insensitive again.
He has made gay slurs about local reporters…..
He criticizes other managers if they ever dare to question him….
And he has even made similar remarks about Castro before………
And that’s just to name a few…………….
Yeah Miami, Ozzie is gonna be Ozzie…….and he will do it again………….
For the fifth time in the last six years, the Cubs lost on Opening Day. They didn’t play bad, except they couldn’t get a timely hit or throw the ball over the plate, other than that, not bad.
Actually, Ryan Dempster had a really nice game as the starting pitcher. But after giving up a hit in the eighth, new Cubs manager Dale Sveum decided that it was time to go to the bullpen. Sveum called on Kerry Wood to get the last out in the eighth, which he did, unfortunately not until after he walked three straight batters and forced in the tying run. Carlos Marmol than gave up another run in the ninth and the Cubs dropped the first game of the year 2-1.
As for the day itself, I got down to Wrigleyville early. I went right to Murphy’s, were I had a burger and some tater-tots and washed them down with an extra spicy Bloody-Mary. The crowd was buzzing as it always is on Opening Day. We were all ready for a win that didn’t come.
I went into the park about noon to walk around and see the new fan deck out in right field. I was pleasantly surprised as the new video board and the seating area itself really fit in nicely with the existing bleachers.
Bill Murray did a nice job with the Opening Pitch and seventh-inning stretch.
All in all, not a bad day.