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Monday, July 14, 2014

Halfway Over Already???


Happy All-Star break, my friends!  As we look back on the first half of the 2014 baseball season, we Washington Nationals fans should be pretty pleased with our team.  Not only are the Nationals in first place in the NL East (percentage points above the Atlanta Braves); the Nats have won 10 of their last 14 games, their bats have come alive, and their pitching continues to be solid.  And I have to mention the Baltimore Orioles too - just because Chris Davis isn't hitting doesn't mean the team doesn't deserve to be in first place in the AL East - go Os!

While some ESPN critics claim that the Nationals have “under-performed” during the first half of the season, I have to say that these people are idiots and are only looking at statistics on paper.   The Nationals are tenth in the National League in batting with a team average of .246, and their best average is held by cutie Anthony Rendón, who is batting .287 (number 22 on the NL list).  But that doesn’t tell the whole story.  The Nationals lead the NL in pitching, with a 3.08 team ERA, starter Stephen Strasburg leads the league with 149 strikeouts, and closer Rafael Soriano has 22 saves with a 0.97 ERA.

And how about all those guys on the Disabled List?  Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, and Wilson Ramos all spent most of the first half of the season on the DL, and as far as pitchers, Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez also had short stints on the List.  So chill out, critics; the Nationals are right where they need to be at the halfway point of the season.

But what do the Nationals need to do to remain on top?  First, Bryce Harper needs to do some hitting.  Since his return from the DL, Harper has gone 6-40 with one home run.  Bryce is a talented kid – I know he can hit!  Hopefully he can analyze his swing during the break (isn't that what they all do - "review the tapes?"), take some pitches from his dad, and come back ready to do some damage.  Just think about your parents, Bryce; you're embarrassing them!

The Nationals also need to get rid of Danny Espinosa.  Don’t send him down to the Minors – trade him for some prospects or some cash or for a nice hand-made Amish quilt.  He calls himself a switch hitter but can’t hit from either side, and just being a good fielder is not enough if you can’t hit.  Danny has to go - he plain old sucks.

Finally, the Nationals HAVE to beat the Braves.  They have nine games left to play against the Braves this season, and they need to win at least 5 of them.  The Braves aren’t all that – their hitting has been up and down and their pitchers aren’t as dominant (except for that Craig Kimbrel guy with his weird pitching stance) – so there’s really no reason why the Nationals can’t win most of their remaining games against the Braves.  If anything, they need to win the games in Atlanta so I don’t have to hear that annoying “Tomahawk Chop” that their fans do when their team is winning. 
How about the rest of the teams in the Majors - any surprises during the first half?  Well I'm glad you asked!  I'm surprised to see the World Champion Red Sox on the bottom of the AL East; I'm a little surprised that the Oakland A's have the best record in baseball; and I'm saddened that the Cardinals' Yadier Molina is going to be out for a while with a torn thumb ligament.  Ouch!  I was even sad to see a Yankee go down (and that's rare for me!) when rookie pitcher Masahiro Tanaka suffered a partial tear of the ulnar ligament in his pitching arm.  He had my vote for Rookie of the Year, but now he has to undergo all sorts of aggressive rehab which will sideline him for a while.  Luckily, he may be able to avoid Tommy John surgery because he had platelet-rich plasma injected into his elbow, and that's supposed to make the tear heal itself.  Let's hope it works, but not if the Yankees make it to the post-season. :-)

So, my friends, the second half of the season should be a good one.  Enjoy tonight's Home Run Derby (I'm rooting for Giancarlo Stanton) and tomorrow's All-Star Game (National League fan, obviously!), and may the second half bring good health and many home runs to the Nationals and Orioles.  I, for one, would love to see a "Battle of the Beltways" World Series-style!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Phew! I'm Back!

Mercy me!  It's hard to believe that I hadn't blogged in over a month!  May was utterly crazy with 3 family birthdays, my daughter's 8th-grade graduation, my son's hectic and unpredictable baseball schedule, and house guests.  Now that life has settled down a little and my husband and I have returned from our vacation in Italy (sans kids - it was just terrible!), I can finally take a breath and focus on my blog.


A lot happened in Major League Baseball during my hiatus - the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw no-hit the Rockies, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn passed away, and my husband and I went to Nationals Park to watch the Nats gets their butts kicked by Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers.  But hey, my Nationals are in first place in the NL East, so there's that.


One thing I've neglected to do this season, which I usually do in May, is to submit my All-Star ballot.  Since it's better to do it late than not do it at all, I went ahead and voted earlier today (it's Primary Day here in Frederick, so why not vote?).  Some of my usual players are there (Miggy, Canó, Yadier) and some are new (Blackmon, Prado, Perez).  Here are the players who got my vote and the reasoning behind my selections:


AMERICAN LEAGUE
First base:  Sorry, Orioles fans; the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera always gets my vote.  Until he decides to have a crappy year or switch to DH, he will always get my vote over Chris Davis.


Second base:  I could have voted for José Altuve, but just like with first base, Robinson Canó always gets my vote.  He is just bad-ass, especially since he's no longer a Yankee.


Shortstop:  Alexei Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox gets my vote this year.  Not voting for Derek Jeter should come as no surprise to you if you've read my blog in the past.


Third base:  I really wanted to vote for Manny Machado, but since he was out for the beginning of the season, I had to go with the Rangers' Adrian Beltre.  He's batting .309 so far this season, so there.


Designated Hitter:  As much as I hate the DH, I forced myself to vote so I would have a full ballot.  No, I did not vote for "Big Papi" or for the Tigers' Victor Martinez - the Orioles' Nelson Cruz got my vote, because he has proven that you can come back from a drug suspension and still kick butt.  Not that I think he should have taken PEDs in the first place, but if MLB is going to give him a second chance, he has certainly made good lemonade out of his lemons.  Plus I had to vote for an Oriole.


Outfield:  This is the hardest category by far.  I wanted to vote for six players, but I had to cut it down to Alex Gordon of the Royals and the Blue Jays' Melky Cabrera and José Bautista.  That left out Nick Markakis and Adam Jones of the O's and Mike Trout of the Angels.   Sorry guys; I can't vote for EVERYONE!


NATIONAL LEAGUE
First base:  I voted for Adam LaRoche because he can play a mean first base and he's leading the Nationals in batting.  He'll probably be named as a reserve player, but at least I can say I voted for a Nationals player.


Second base:  I had to vote for the Pirates' Neil Walker even though I love Anthony Rendón of the Nationals, because Walker is just having a better year and Rendón has been playing at third base lately.  Chase Utley is having a good season too, but I don't vote for Phillies players, so he's out.


Shortstop:  Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies, hands down!


Third base:  I chose Martín Prado of the Arizona Diamondbacks because Chipper Jones and Mike Schmidt are retired.


Catcher:  Sigh!  Jonathan Lucroy of the Milwaukee Brewers is having a great season, but I had to go with my Puerto Rican heart and vote for the Cardinals' Yadier Molina.  He's kind of trashy, but he's the best catcher in the game today.


Outfield:  I left out the three "P"s who are playing well - Angel Pagán, Yasiel Puig, and Hunter Pence - and voted for three players who are playing better:  Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates, Charlie Blackmon of the Rockies, and Carlos Gomez of the Brewers. 


So there you have it - now I have to wait and see how many of the players I voted for end up making the All-Star team.  So much of it is a popularity contest, but I like to think that I actually put some thought into my voting.  Enjoy the last 3 weeks of the first half of the season, and don't forget to watch some World Cup soccer too!



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

From Mudville Mom to Proud Mom

(Warning:  "Mudville Mom" is taking a break from her snarky, tell-it-like-it-is, opinionated views to bring you a heartfelt account of her life as a baseball mom.)

Hello, baseball fans!  It's been a while since I've blogged, because honestly, there hasn't been much worth blogging about lately.  I was going to write about Nolan Arenado's hitting streak, but it stopped at 28 games.  Yu Darvish's no-hitter?  No, it was broken up in the bottom of the ninth inning.  José Fernandez being on the DL?  That's just so devastating for baseball that I don't even want to think about it.  So instead of blogging, I've been enjoying my son's Little League baseball games and beaming as a proud mom.

My son is 10, and by no means is he the next Babe Ruth.  He tried machine-pitch baseball in first grade, but thought that he was better-suited to play soccer, which he has played since Kindergarten.  I can honestly say that he's lightning-fast, but he's way too nice on the soccer field.  The competitive Puerto Rican in him has not come out yet, and he's more of a "No, it's OK; YOU go ahead and kick the ball!" type of kid.  But he's been with the same teammates since first grade, and he genuinely likes to play soccer every fall.

This spring, Son decided to give baseball another try.  He has always enjoyed watching baseball with me, and now that he has a good understanding of the game, he figured he could give it a shot.  So we took him to tryouts and were disappointed to find out that Son was placed on a machine-pitch team again, while his best buddy was moving up to the Minors.  Son was devastated, and I thought "Boy, this is going to be a LONG season!"  I thought he would whine about having to go to practices and we would have to drag him to all his games.  Well, putting my kid in machine-pitch turned out to not be such a travesty after all.

For those of you not familiar with Little League rules, machine-pitch is a level where they focus on instruction, skill development, and fundamentals.  They don't officially keep score at the games (though there is always someone keeping very detailed track of each at-bat, hit, out, and run), and each game lasts less than two hours.  You also aren't allowed to heckle (gone are the days of "go batterbatterbatter, SWINGbatter!" and "We want a pitcher, not a belly itcher!"), and all the parents had to take some sort of oath on Opening Day promising they weren't going to be obnoxious potty-mouths and were going to behave themselves appropriately while spectating (they clearly haven't seen me during a baseball game).  Now I must say, I've been pretty good so far, though I have questioned two plays with the coach and have asked if the infield-fly rule is used in Little League.  I'm sorry; I know the game, so I'm going to question!

So why has my son had such a good experience so far?  First of all, he's one of the biggest kids on the team (since he's on the older side for machine-pitch), so he's naturally beyond the "playing with the dirt in the infield and looking at the birds in the outfield" phase.  He always plays hard, and because he knows the game, he knows where to stand, who to throw the ball to, and how to get someone out (when playing first base one time, he decided against trying to make a leaping catch because he figured it would get him off the bag, and as the catcher at last night's game, he made the last out because he knew he had to cover the plate and tag the runner coming from third base when the ball was thrown to him).  He also has a very good coach, a parent-volunteer who stresses fairness and good sportsmanship and has even called out a few opposing coaches who have not played nice.  His kid is not the best on the team, which my son finds refreshing, and he genuinely likes to teach little kids how to play good baseball.

My son still has a long way to go - remembering not to slow down as he's reaching first base (he's afraid of running into the kid covering the base); working on catching fly balls; following his swing all the way through so his hits can someday leave the infield - but he's already come a long way, and whether he decides to play baseball in coming years or not, at least I know I'm raising a kid who plays hard, can think under pressure, and gets along with his peers.  I may consider myself a die-hard baseball fan, but I am a mom first and foremost, and my kids make me proud every day.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Happy Homers and Happy Birthday!

When the Anaheim Angels arrived in Washington, DC earlier this week to take on the Washington Nationals, all the talk was about phenoms Mike Trout and Bryce Harper playing against each other.  Both young outfielders won the Rookie of the Year award for their respective leagues in 2012, and both are hard-working, hustling guys who play the game hard (except Trout is having a better season than Harper so far, plus he does commercials for Subway and Bryce does not).  Another reason that this series was under the radar of baseball fans was that José Alberto Pujols (known to everyone in the world except his family as "Albert"), was coming to DC with 498 career home runs under his belt.  After having the worst season of his career in 2013, most people (including me) thought that he may hit number 499 during the series, but 500 didn't seem likely for a few more days.

Well, at Tuesday night's game with the Nationals' Taylor Jordan on the mound, Albert Pujols became the only player to hit home runs 499 and 500 in the same game.  He is one of only 26 players to reach the 500 home run milestone, and is only 5 homers away from passing Hall of Famer Eddie Murray.  Pujols is only the fourth player in the 500 Home Run Club to be born outside of the US, with Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, and Manny Ramirez being the other 3 (with Pujols being the only one who has never been implicated in any kind of steroid scandal).  He's one of those Derek Jeter-type of likable guys who gives money to charity and loves playing the game.  Pujols is a true family man, having created a foundation with his wife to increase awareness of Down's Syndrome (a condition that one of his children has).  Oh, and I can say I saw him play twice - as a St. Louis Cardinal against the Nationals in 2012 and as an Angel against the Orioles in 2013.

Instead of filling my post with all sorts of statistics and listing all the accolades that Pujols has earned during his Major League tenure both with the Angels and the Cardinals, I surfed the Internet looking for the most interesting fact that I could find on Albert and here's what I found in Wikipedia (you can choose to believe it or discard it):  Albert Pujols scored a perfect 100 on his citizenship exam when he became a U.S. citizen in 2007.  Have you SEEN some of the questions on that exam?  Pretty impressive, if you ask me.

Also worth noting is that Chicago's Wrigley Field, home of the sorry Cubs, is celebrating its 100th birthday.  "The Friendly Confines," with its ivy-covered outfield and manual scoreboard, is an icon of baseball history, having housed players like Ernie Banks (who I was surprised is still alive!), Ferguson Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg, and Andre Dawson.  Like Busch Stadium in St. Louis, I've only been to the outside of this historic ballpark, but I'm hoping to visit in the next couple of years.  I'm sure the bathrooms smell like 100 years of pee and the concession stands and concourse area are cramped, but it's a piece of Americana that all baseball fans must visit.  Happy centennial, Wrigley Field, and "felicidades" to José Alberto Pujols!

Monday, March 31, 2014

"Gettin' Jiggy" with Miggy :-)

Opening Day is finally here, my friends!  Actually, the season began last night with the San Diego Padres hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game that was blown by Brian Wilson (you know, the hairy guy who has been struggling for the past couple of years).  The Padres scored 3 runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to beat the Dodgers 3-1.

Before the season gets too far underway, I want to address two topics that I've been asked to write about and express my opinion (yes, someone out there is actually reading this blog regularly and wants my expert opinion on a few things!).  First is the $292 million contract that Miguel Cabrera signed with the Detroit Tigers through 2023, and second is my predictions for the 2014 season.

As many of you know, I am a big fan of Miguel Cabrera, and seeing him play in Cleveland last summer was a highlight for me.  The 2012 Triple Crown winner and 2013 MVP is one of those players that only come around once in a lifetime - that kind of player that you tell your grandkids about and whose baseball cards will be worth a lot of money someday.  But Miggy is also getting bigger (now reportedly up to 260 pounds), slower, and more prone to injury (last season he missed several games with back issues).  Ten years is a LONG time for anyone to commit to a player, especially one who is already over 30 years old.  It makes me think of the long-term contract that Alex Rodriguez signed with the Yankees a while back - I forget how that one turned out!  Then there's Albert Pujols - how did he do last year again?  The amount of money the Tigers want to pay Miggy doesn't bother me since baseball players are overpaid anyway; it's the number of years in the contract that I think is excessive.  Yes, he can prolong his career as a designated hitter, but 10 more years?  Really?  A little much, if you ask me.

Now as far as my predictions for this season, this may come as a shock to you, but I don't think I'm going to make any.  I know, it's kind of a cop-out, but with 162 games in a season, anything can happen.  Yes, I would love to say that the Nationals will win the NL East and the Pirates will reach the playoffs again, but so much can happen between now and September.  Look at the Atlanta Braves, who played so well last year and are now starting their season with half of their players on the Disabled List.  And how about the Toronto Blue Jays, who were supposed to be the be-all end-all last season - will they fare any batter than last year?  And without Mariano Rivera, will the Yankees suck this season?  Well they got 4 key players during the offseason - Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltrán, Brian McCann, and Masahiro Tanaka; but they only look good on paper at this point.  I could pull out all sorts of rankings and statistics and SABR-metrics numbers to support my predictions, but all I can do is tell you which team I would LIKE to see in the playoffs - not necessarily the teams that the bettors in Vegas are picking.  And really, after seeing our NCAA basketball brackets ruined after the first round of March Madness, can statistics really tell us everything?  So here are the teams I like and my un-scientific reasons for liking them.

AL EAST:  I'm going to root for the Baltimore Orioles.  They were a mess in the off-season and didn't get their act together until early March, when they signed a bunch of last-minute players and made some impromptu trades.  Yes, Manny Machado is starting the season on the DL, but we all know that one guy does not a team make, so why not root for the team that played so well during Spring Training?

AL CENTRAL:  I want to see the Kansas City Royals play in the postseason.  Really, I do.  They went 86-76 last year, and if it hadn't been for the 12-game losing streak they had, they would have contended.  I'm picking the Royals and I'm not changing my mind.  Sorry, Tigers and Indians!

AL WEST:  This is one division about which I never really cared.  I guess I'll pick the low-budget Oakland A's even though the Mariners now have Robinson Canó and the Angels have hottie Mike Trout.  They have great pitchers and very good defensive players, so they should do well.

NL EAST:  I don't know if this is jinxing my team, but I'm going to go ahead and pick the Nationals.  The Braves annoy me, the Mets are a mess, the Marlins have no one except for José Fernandez, and the Phillies might as well turn their clubhouse into a nursing home.  The Nationals have a solid pitching rotation (even with Doug Fister starting the season on the DL), guys who can hit, and a feisty new manager.  And we're going to 5 games this season, so they better play well!

NL CENTRAL:  How can you not root for the Pittsburgh Pirates?  Those of us who are sick of the Cardinals have embraced the Pirates and their never-give-up attitude.  Plus they're opening the season against the Cubs at home, so what more of a confidence boost does a team need?

NL WEST:  I am determined to not pick the Dodgers (since everyone else is), so I'm going to go with the San Diego Padres.  I don't think they will win their division outright, but I believe they can get a wild-card spot and make the playoffs with their decent pitching.  Now if they could only get rid of those ugly camo uniforms that they wear on Sundays during home games!

As you can see, my picks are purely based on my shallow opinions and do not carry any statistical weight whatsoever.  It took me exactly 20 minutes to come up with my selections - this way if I totally blow it, I won't feel like a total failure who spent way too much time analyzing data.

All I know is that it's finally time to play ball.  Time for seventh-inning stretches, racing presidents (and sausages), and injury reports (short ones, hopefully).  Enjoy the season, and keep checking in for my thoughts, insights, and of course, my unfiltered opinions.  Let's go Nats! :-)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

It's Almost Time!!!

First and foremost, I just want to say how much I enjoy writing my own blog.  Nobody edits what I write, so my opinions (not that I ever have any!) are unfiltered and honest.  I say this because I am the Washington Nationals' blogger for a local publication, and they're often editing my comments.  I had considered applying to become a regular contributor to the print edition of this publication, but I don't think they are looking for someone as opinionated and frank as myself.  Their loss.

OK,  now that I got that off my chest, let's talk some baseball!  Opening Day is just a breath away, and for those of us not following NCAA basketball (though I do have 8 teams left in my Sweet 16 bracket!), next Sunday and Monday is our version of "March Madness."  The rosters have been cut, the starting pitchers have been named, and fans in cold-weather cities are praying for warm weather next week.  Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith even spearheaded a campaign to make Opening Day a national holiday, claiming that too many people call in sick to work on that day.  Smith was able to get the required number of signatures required for his idea to be taken seriously, so we'll see where that goes.  I don't think it's necessary to call it a national holiday, because only 15 of the 30 teams will be hosting a game for the first series, so what happens when the other 15 teams host their own Opening Day after that - do we need a second national holiday?  My Nationals, for example, open the season in New York next Monday (March 31) but don't open at home until April 4.  I wouldn't call out sick on the 31st since I can watch the game from my work computer (shhh!) but would call in sick on the 4th (if I had tickets, which I don't).  It's a silly proposal from Ozzie.

So what do we have to look forward to this season?  First of all, the Yankees are no longer the team with the highest payroll in the Majors, which is quite refreshing.  That honor now goes to the Dodgers, so we'll see where they end up at the end of the season.  I'd pick the Dodgers over the Yankees any day, so I'm OK with them making a lot of money.  Let's just hope Yasiel Puig can develop a personality this year.

Also interesting to note is the expanded use of instant replay in the Majors.  A manager is allowed to formally challenge an umpire's call in certain cases (hone runs and stolen bases, not balls and strikes), and after the sixth inning, umpires on the field can ask for a second opinion if they themselves are in doubt of a call.  Who do they turn to for a second opinion?  The people in the Major League Baseball Replay Center, a high-tech facility with at least one umpire, one trained technician, and 37 high-definition monitors that will show every angle of every game.  When a manager challenges a call, umpires will appeal to the umpire working at the headquarters, and with the technician's assistance, will examine video of the play from different angles.  The review umpire will communicate his assessment to the on-site umpire and send the video to the home ballpark for broadcast on the scoreboard along with the text message description of the play.

How long will this take?  Less than 2 minutes, experts seem to think.  Now, I was opposed to this idea at first , thinking it would take away from the accuracy of umpires and the charm of the game, but after having seen it used twice in Spring Training games, I'm OK with it (it helps that both times it was the Nationals' manager, Matt Williams, challenging a call and both times he was right).  The first time I saw it, Bryce Harper was called out trying to steal second, when it was pretty clear (even to me, the blind one) that he was safe.  After Williams's challenge, the umpires reviewed the video taken by the Mets' camera people and determined their call was erroneous.  This took 1 minute and 47 seconds.  The second time, Denard Span caught a shoestring catch in center field and the runner was called safe.  Further review showed that Span not only caught the ball, but he held on to it after rolling on the ground a couple of times.  This one took exactly 2 minutes, but both instances were reviewed with the video from the local camera people.  Beginning Sunday, the videos will come from that fancy place in New York, and it should make the process a little more smooth (we hope).

Another thing that doesn't bother me about this expanded replay thing is the fact that managers probably won't be challenging calls during every game.  According to MLB.com, there were only 377 out of some 50,000 calls that merited review, which comes out to about 1 every 6.4 games (check that out - I did that math all by myself!).  Only 27 times did questionable calls happen twice in a game, which gives umpires an extremely high level of proficiency.

So as long as umpires keep doing their job as well as they've done it lately, managers shouldn't be challenging calls too much and baseball games shouldn't (hopefully) drag on much longer than they already do.  It's one of those things us baseball purists are just going to have to embrace, like the cotton-poly uniform, the use of batting gloves, and the high price of ballpark concessions.  If you can't beat 'em, join 'em and buy the overpriced beer.

Sunday night will bring us the first game of the season with the San Diego Padres hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers, who technically started their season in Australia last week, where they played 2 games against the Arizona Diamondbacks and won them both.  Most other teams begin on Monday, with games including the Mets hosting the Nationals and the World Champion Red Sox visiting the surprisingly-good-during-spring-training Baltimore Orioles.  My husband and I will be at Nationals Park the following weekend for the series against the Atlanta Braves, officially kicking off our 5-game season.  While we may not visit as many different ballparks as we did last year, we are ready to root for the much-improved Nationals and hope you are ready to root for your favorite team.  It's almost time, people; let's play some ball!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Baseball 101? I'll Teach It!

Spring Training is in full force, my friends – a time for tweaking your batting stance, working on your curveball, and writing a research paper.  The latter is what 19-year-old Josh Hart of the Baltimore Orioles had to do earlier this week.  Hart, an outfielder who was selected 37th overall in last summer’s amateur draft, was introduced to Hall of Famer Frank Robinson during a Spring Training practice, and Hart did not know who Robinson was.  So Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter told Hart to write a one-page paper on Robinson and have it on Showalter’s desk the next day.  Hart complied, and is now vastly knowledgeable in all things Frank.

With this story fresh in my mind, I decided to do my own little study to see if kids approximately the same age as Josh Hart had any knowledge of who Frank Robinson is.  I asked several students at Governor Thomas Johnson High School, and was disappointed to see that most of them had no clue.  18-year-old Jacob, a very smart Senior who wants to attend Duke University to study engineering, said “The name sounds familiar, but I don’t think I know who he is.”  Mickey, 17, asked “What class does he teach?”  The closest was one of our military academy hopefuls, who said "He's what that movie '42' was about."  To the defense of my students, some of the kids I questioned admit to not following baseball too closely, and they’re not being paid crazy amounts of money to wear a uniform and play 162 games a year.

So how important is it for current Major League baseball players to know the history of the game and the names of the greats?  I think if you’re going to have a job with such a high-paying salary, you should have an idea of who came before you, stood on the same field as you, and had a locker in your clubhouse that could even be the locker that you’re currently using (especially if you play in one of the older ball parks, like Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, or Dodgers Stadium).  These millionaires need to feel humbled by the greats who played before them.  Guys like Bryce Harper and Mike Trout need to appreciate the leaping catches that Kirby Puckett made in center field.  Sluggers like Miguel Cabrera and Michael Cuddyer should feel small next to Pete Rose and Joe DiMaggio.  Jacoby Ellsbury and Eric Young should take base-stealing pointers from Rickey Henderson or Lou Brock.

Here is what I think Major League Baseball should do:  They should have the annual player draft in Cooperstown, NY, so that prospective players and their families can tour the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and get a lesson in baseball history.  Most of these guys haven’t been to the Hall, so they haven’t seen the majestic room full of inductees’ plaques, the museum with the Babe Ruth room, and the movies and interactive displays that take you from the game’s beginnings to the record-breakers of the modern era.  Cooperstown is in the middle of nowhere, so your typical draft candidate probably hasn’t made the trip there before, but if he has the potential of being signed by a Major League team and can learn a thing or two about the game’s history, you bet he’ll take the trip to New York!

You don't like that idea?  Then how about Major League Baseball send me to visit all 30 teams so I can give the players a history lesson?  I can have Power Points and handouts and trivia questions and everything!  I like that idea better!

I know a lot of the current young players were born in the 90s, a decade full of PEDs and not much excitement.  They probably looked up to guys like Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire, and maybe even great players like Greg Maddux, Wade Boggs, and Ken Griffey, Jr.  But just like high school students have to learn about what happened in history 200 years ago, current baseball players should have some basic appreciation for the men who played before them.  They don’t need to rattle off the names of all the baseball commissioners (not even I can do that without some deep thinking and a check on Wikipedia), but they should have a general knowledge of the players from the past – Cobb, Ruth, DiMaggio, Gehrig, Clemente, Koufax, Seaver, Aaron, and Robinson (both Frank and Jackie).