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Saturday, October 24, 2015

I'll Have a Blue World Series Without You

Major League Baseball’s 111th World Series is set to start soon, with the blue-and-orange New York Mets taking on the blue-and-white Kansas City Royals.  It’s the Royals’ second consecutive trip to the World Series (which they lost to the San Francisco Giants), so naturally I have to root for them because it was so sad to see them lose last year.  I think it’s my first time picking an American League team since the Minnesota Twins went to the “big dance” in 1991 (and won it by beating the Atlanta Braves).  I was a huge Kirby Puckett fan, and seeing him do so well in the World Series was one of the highlights of my baseball fan-hood.  This year I’m a big fan of… let’s see… no one really; but I have to root for the Royals because I just can’t get myself to cheer for the other team.

What’s wrong with the Mets?  Don’t they have a Gold Glove-winning outfielder in Juan Lagares (who stole the award from the Nationals’ Denard Span in 2014)?  How about that guy Yoenis Céspedes (who killed the Nationals in the last regular-season series they played against each other)?  And don’t they have that good relief pitcher, Tyler Clippard (former National)?  Yeah – I’m a little bitter about the Mets making it this far while the Nationals didn’t even clinch a Wild Card spot in the playoffs.  Still licking my wounds a little bit.

The funny thing is that I used to be a die-hard Mets fan in the late 80s.  I can still recite their regular lineup (Dykstra, Teufel, Hernandez/Magadan, Strawberry, McReynolds, HoJo, Carter, and Elster – and I swear I didn’t get Google’s help!), and I remember their starting pitchers in 1989 being Ron Darling, Dwight Gooden, Sid Fernandez, David Cone, and Bob Ojeda (I believe Frank Viola came in halfway through the season).  I had the shirts, pennants, yearbooks, and even got a media guide from them after having sent them some sort of fan mail.  Darling and Elster were the cute ones, and the Mets still have the biggest section in my baseball card collection.

But alas, the Washington Nationals came to town in 2005, and I had to jump on the bandwagon.  I had not been able to embrace the Baltimore Orioles in the few years I had lived in Maryland, mainly because they were an American League team and because my first husband was not supportive of my baseball habit (lesson learned:  Don’t marry someone who doesn’t share your hobbies!).   After our separation in 2005, I decided to embrace the new team in town and have not looked back as a Nationals fan since.

Part of being a loyal fan is sticking by your team regardless of how well or how sucky they play (spell check says “sucky” isn’t a word, but I’m using it!).  And believe me – those first few seasons as a Nationals fan were pretty brutal.  Before the days of Strasburg and Harper, the team played in a crappy stadium, struggled to build their fan base, and went through several managers and staff changes.  And while they’ve come a long way in just ten years, some people think they haven’t lived up to the hype and the high payroll.  Yes, it would have been nice if the Nationals had made it this far (the red and white would have complimented the Royals’ colors nicely) – but I have not had a problem going to bed at my usual 10:00 time during a playoff game’s 6th or 7th inning.  If the Nationals had made the playoffs, I would have been sleep-deprived, stressed out, and impossible to live with (and that’s not my husband or kids talking – I think I know myself pretty well!).

So for all you fans of the other 28 teams that did not make it to the World Series:  Enjoy some good baseball, have fun checking out the cute players (Eric Hosmer for the Royals and Matt Harvey for the Mets), and feel free to go to bed before a game is over (unless it’s game seven or any other deciding game).  I predict that the Royals will win in six games (so they can win at home, which is always nice), but if the Mets end up winning, I will just shrug and wait for Bryce Harper to be announced as the NL MVP in November without having lost much sleep.  See how easy and laid-back it is when you don’t have anything vested in either of the two teams?  Let’s hope for some good clean baseball and let’s go Royals (I guess)!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Long and Winding Season

One of the things that frustrates me about Major League Baseball (or any professional sport, for that matter) is the media hype.  Before this year's baseball season had even started, "experts" had already made their predictions, picked their favorites, and crowned the next World Series champion.  The problem with that is that there are 162 games that have to be played between Opening Day and the playoffs, and a LOT can happen during that time.  If your team is predicted to be the next best since gel nail polish or precooked bacon and doesn't end up making the playoffs, it's a big disappointment.

That's what the Washington Nationals are currently facing - a disappointing end to an up-and-down season plagued by injuries, inconsistency, and bad managerial decisions.  The players are dejected, tempers have flared in the dugout, and fans have been left with a bad taste in their mouths.  How do I feel about my beloved Nats not making the playoffs this season?  I'm actually OK with it (no, really, I am TOTALLY OK with it!), and here's why:

First of all, the Nationals had a terrible time out west in August, losing to the Dodgers, Giants, and Rockies.  That awful road trip put the Nats further behind the NL East-leading Mets, who just could not lose a game in August or September.  It was pretty clear halfway through August that the Mets would be the team to beat.  So if you tell yourself at that point that your team sucks, it won't be such a big let-down when they don't make the playoffs.

Another thing that affects a team's success (or lack thereof) is injuries to key players.  The Nationals had their share of injuries throughout the season - the players in their top-notch lineup that was the talk of baseball during Spring Training only played one or two games together during the whole season, with long stints on the Disabled List by Denard Span and Ryan Zimmerman and shorter stays by Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendón.  There was so much inconsistency in the lineup because of injuries that you didn't know who was going to play from one day to the next.

Then there's pitching. Yes, Max Scherzer pitched an almost-perfect no-hitter, and yes, Stephen Strasburg is healthy and pitching incredibly well (too little too late, since he didn't get good until late August).  But the bullpen was pretty dismal throughout the entire season.  Drew Storen was the closer in the beginning, but despite doing a decent job, was replaced in his role by hot-head Jonathan Papelbon, who came over from the Phillies with the condition that he become the closer.  So Storen moved to the setup position, where he absolutely sucked.  He blew some pretty important games in which the Nationals had been leading when he took the mound, and in early September he was so frustrated that he ended up punching a locker and tearing a ligament in his thumb (and subsequently being out for the rest of the season).  Doug Fister lost his starting role and was moved to the bullpen, Gio Gonzalez was not as reliable as in years past, and poor Tanner Roark was jerked around, being moved from starter to the bullpen to the minors and back to starter.  Jordan Zimmermann remained consistently awesome, but we all know he's not returning to the Nationals next year (and neither is Ian Desmond, the other big-name free agent in the team).

So yeah - I'm OK with my Nationals not being in the playoffs because honestly, they don't deserve to be there.  If they had made it, it would have been too stressful, knowing they were inconsistent and probably wouldn't be making it past the first round.  That doesn't mean I won't be watching the playoffs - there's a LOT of baseball still to be played (and watched), and for Pete's sake, the Chicago Cubs are in the playoffs!  I have decided to root for the Pirates and Blue Jays, but since I'm not a die-hard fan of either team, if they end up losing, it won't bother me too much.  So I'm going to enjoy my October of post-season baseball, and I'm going to eagerly await the announcement of this year's National League MVP, which should be given to Bryce Harper, the bright spot in the Nationals this year.  I've been a Bryce-basher in the past, but he matured a LOT as a player this season and deserves the award (since he's leading the National League in home runs and batting average).  Go Bryce, go Pirates and Blue Jays, and for the love of God, go away Cardinals - I'm tired of seeing you in October!

Friday, September 4, 2015

"The Liars and the Dirty Dirty Cheats of the World"

While I never thought I would use the lyrics of a Taylor Swift song as a title for a blog post, I thought it was appropriate for a post about cheating in sports.  Whether it's "deflate-gate" in the NFL, Lance Armstrong getting blood transfusions during the Tour de France,or Barry Bonds having "no idea" what he was being injected with during his home run tear in Major League Baseball - cheating happens in every sport at every level. And with sports being a microcosm of society, it basically means that the world is full of selfish, insecure, win-at-any-cost people.  Oh that is so discouraging!

Why am I writing about cheating in sports when Major League Baseball is heating up with teams vying for playoff spots?  Shouldn't I be crying about the Orioles' recent nosedive and the Mets' consistent success?  Well a friend asked for my opinion on the Tom Brady situation, so I figured I would present my opinion along with the baseball perspective.

So totally hot and sexy Tom Brady, quarterback for the New England Patriots, was suspended by the NFL for the first 4 games of the season, because according to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Brady had a part in a conspiracy to deflate footballs below the allowable limit at last season's AFC championship game, a 45-7 whoopin' of the Indianapolis Colts.  Well a judge decided that Brady was treated unfairly and not given due process, so he dropped Brady's suspension, which the NFL quickly appealed.  Brady INSISTS that he had NOTHING to do with the deflation of the balls, despite ordering that his cell phone be destroyed right before being interviewed by the NFL.  Right - Tom Brady had no prior knowledge of "deflate-gate" and I'm the Queen of England (though I'd rather look like Jennifer Lopez than the Queen - no disrespect to "your Highness.").

Why am I so sure that Tom Brady had everything to do with the deflated balls?  Because I'm tired of being duped.  In the 1990s, I was a huge fan of Minnesota Twins center fielder, Kirby Puckett.  I read his book, collected his cards, and followed his career religiously.  I knew all about him on the field, marveling at his gravity-defying leaps in the outfield and celebrating his World Series home runs.  When I found out that Puckett was a wife beater and groper of women in restaurants, I was completely deflated (as opposed to Brady's footballs, which were only PARTIALLY deflated).  I felt betrayed and so disappointed knowing that a person I admired was not totally the hero I made him out to be.  Kirby Puckett didn't cheat (that we know of), but finding out he was a real jerk was just as devastating as if I had found out that he took performance-enhancing drugs.  It just sucked.

Then there's cheater extraordinaire Lance Armstrong.  I also read his books, prayed for him during his cancer diagnosis, and even had one of those yellow LIVE STRONG rubber bracelets that he made famous.  Lance could do no wrong, and because of him I learned about cycling as well as the beautiful scenery of the Alps and the grueling event that is the Tour de France.  All those accusations that Lance had cheated were always countered with please of innocence - he could look straight into a camera and adamantly deny that he did not take performance-enhancing drugs or blood transfusions or anything like that.  And then the truth came out, and he looked like a real ass.  That was a real heartbreaker for me - I had told my kids all about him and how great he was and then I had to explain to them how he was a total phony.

This is why I think Tom Brady is guilty of knowing about the deflated footballs.  I don't want to defend the guy and then find out he's a liar and a cheat.  No, there's no clear evidence that he was involved.  No, there is no key witness to testify that Brady was involved.  Yes, Brady might retire without the real truth ever coming out.  But I'm tired of sticking by these conceited, I-can-do-no-wrong-because-I'm-famous guys with over-inflated egos, so I'm just going to assume Brady is guilty unless proven otherwise.

What gets me is that someone as talented as Tom Brady does not need deflated footballs to excel at his sport.  Ask the Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees.  Both of them served suspensions for having used performance-enhancing drugs, yet both are back to playing well despite being off the drugs.  Not that I'm defending A-Rod (please!), but he's always been a fine player without the drugs.  Some say it's the pressure of having to perform well at such a high level that leads already-good players to start the drugs; I say it's just insecurity and low self-esteem.  I've read that despite looking confident and cocky on the outside, A-Rod is privately an insecure guy who often throughout his career has doubted his talents.

So whether Tom Brady played a part in the "deflate-gate" scandal or not, he will be able to play this season while the NFL's appeal is heard, and I'm neither here nor there about that (since I'm not an ardent football fan).  I'm still focusing my attention on the last month of baseball's regular season, where a lot of games still have to be played for playoff spots to be determined.  May the Mets falter, the Pirates and Nationals rise to greatness, and may all current athletes contemplating cheating at their sport think twice, because in these days of social media, lack of privacy, and increased screening and scrutiny, someone will eventually find you out.  And you wouldn't like some little kid to idolize you and then find out you're a fraud - that's just heartbreaking.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Baseball North of the Border

On a recent visit to Canada to visit family, my husband and I planned our trip so we could catch a ball game at Rogers Centre in Toronto.  This would be ball park number 6 in our quest to visit every Major League baseball park (we only have 24 more to go - no biggie!), and it was a great visit.

The ball park itself was kind of "eh," but the experience was a good one overall.  While I'm not a fan of artificial turf, the Centre's retractable roof was something I'd never seen in person before, and that made it interesting (my husband the engineer kept trying to figure out how the whole thing worked).  I'm glad the weather was nice enough to leave the roof open, because I'm not sure I would enjoy an indoor baseball game (I know; I need to prepare myself for Miami and Milwaukee).  It was a bit chilly for us southerners, but the crowd was lively and extremely well-behaved (it's Canada, after all).

The first noteworthy tidbit is that every single Canadian in that ball park knew the words to their National Anthem.  Everyone sang along while "O Canada" was played, and unlike our hard-to-sing song about bombs bursting in air, the Canadian anthem talks about love and God and pride.  Yes, God was mentioned 5 times in the song, and no one complained about it.  No offense to Francis Scott Key, but not all of us can reach the high notes like Whitney Houston, so even if we knew all the words, 35,000 fans singing the "Star-Spangled Banner" would not sound as good as the same amount of Canadians singing their song.  There was also no "pomp" like at Nationals Park - no presenting of the colors and no football-field-size flag undulating in the outfield.  I was totally OK with that.

Also interesting was the person who threw out the ceremonial first pitch.  It wasn't a season-ticket-holder, war veteran, or big corporate sponsor - it was a man who performed CPR on a stranger and saved the person's life.  Now that to me is a true hero, and he was very worthy of throwing out a first pitch and so much more. 

The game itself was very exciting.  It's always nice when the home team is winning, so the Blue Jays' 10-3 victory over the Oakland A's was a definite plus to my ballpark experience.  Former Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey pitched for the Jays, Chris Colabello and Justin Smoak hit homers for the home team, and the victory put the Jays in first place above the Yankees. 

What were my least-favorite things about the Rogers Centre?  Well it's another one of those parks that was shoehorned into a bustling city with big buildings around it, so it made the concourse area very dark (though not as cramped as Oriole Park).  The epoxy coating on the floor made it seem almost airport-like, though it was very clean (the whole city of Toronto was spotless, actually).  The concession vendors that go up and down the seating area were way too quiet - they were all like "Would anyone like a cold beverage?" as opposed to the "ICE COLD BEEAH HEAH!" guys I'm used to.   The grilled prosciutto and provolone sandwich I had was very good, but the food selection wasn't as extensive as in other ball parks (not sure if they had a gluten-free or vegan stand, like at other parks).

And oh my gosh, those Canadians do NOT swear or use cuss words of any kind!  When you leave a ball game in the US, regardless of whether your team has won or not, you always hear four-letter words being used - not in anger or anything; they're just part of people's conversation ("That was @#$% awesome!" or "The umpire $%!#% sucked!").  After the Jays won and took sole possession of first place in the AL East, everyone was happy and cheerful and said "Let's go get a drink" without placing any bad-word adjectives in front of the word "drink."

Overall, our visit to the Rogers Centre was one of the things that made our trip a very nice one.  As if the movie "Argo" wasn't enough to make me want to hug a Canadian, this trip reinforced my belief that Canadians are super-nice people and Toronto is a very nice place to visit.  In August.

Monday, June 29, 2015

What Makes a Ballpark Great?

In my continuing efforts to visit every Major League ballpark in my lifetime, my husband and I traveled north to Boston to catch a game at the legendary and iconic Fenway Park.  We brought along my 11-year-old son, who was rooting for the visiting Orioles but was excited to see Pablo Sandoval and David "Big Papi" Ortiz in person.  It was a beautiful day for baseball, and the ballpark was packed.

So what did I think of Fenway Park?  Well, I had actually been there before, but I was a college student, there was alcohol on the bus, and I honestly don't remember much other than being the only fan rooting for the Minnesota Twins (seeing Kirby Puckett in person was a pretty cool thing for me back then).  So I decided to look at Fenway as if I was visiting it for the first time, and I made some comparisons between this park and my most-visited ballpark:  Nationals Park in Washington, DC.

First of all, Nationals fans expect to get something every time they visit the ball park - either a score card, a rally towel, or any freebie featuring the team's curly "W" logo.  Never mind the fact that most of the fans are federal employees who drive Lexuses or Priuses and can afford to buy Nationals jerseys in both home and away colors - they want something free!  I'm one who tries to plan her visits according to the promotions schedule (remember last year, how I wasn't able to attend "Jayson Werth Garden Gnome Night?"  Those things are going for crazy amounts of money on eBay!)  At Fenway Park, programs with score cards cost money, no one is handing you anything free, and fans are OK with that.  The only promotion on the day we visited was "Nun Day," where many area nuns were given a free ticket to attend the game.  It was nice seeing so many nuns enjoying themselves so much, even though they had crappy seats.

Another difference between the two ballparks is the PA announcers.  Apparently the Red Sox have more than one, and on the day we were there, the dude sounded ancient. Not Vin Scully or Harry Caray ancient, but just old, like a man who has had his prostate removed  But again, the fans are OK with that.  They don't need the Nationals' PA announcer, who sounds like a car commercial and stretches a two-syllable name like "Ramos" into a ten-second line that makes him sound like a Univisión soccer commentator announcing a goal.  Red Sox fans don't need fanciness or flashiness - they don't need the Mount Rushmore presidents racing each other during the fourth inning; they are perfectly happy singing "Sweet Caroline" during the eighth, no need for t-shirt cannons or dancing hottie girls.  Plus Fenway Park has a real live organist who plays a real live organ!  How cool is that?  He even cranked out "Sister Christian" and Mister Mister's "Kyrie" in honor of the nuns!

Red Sox fans also don't need cup holders at their seats.  While there are some plastic seats with cup holders in the rows of seats that are shown on TV, the farther-up rows have wooden seats (mine even had some areas of rot) without cup holders, an occasional obstructed view due to support columns, and no valet service that allows you to text your order and have it brought directly to your seat (yes, Nationals Park offers this service).  Fenway fans are happy to get up, walk around, and buy an overpriced beer ($9, just like at Nats Park), a Fenway Frank, or an Italian sausage.  They don't need the offerings from Ben's Chili Bowl, Nationals Taquería, or the carving station in the luxury boxes.  These fans are die-hard, and they've been happily rooting for their last-place Red Sox all season long despite their park not having leather couches for relaxing (found at Nats Park near one of the ramps that take you to the upper levels).

So who has the better ballpark?  Well, it depends on what you want out a visit.  Do you just want to watch a game with thousands of fans who have followed your team for decades, or do you want to be pampered and doted on?  Do you plan on celebrating every base hit and every run scored during every inning, even if your team is losing (the Orioles beat the Red Sox 8-6 at our game), or do you plan on arriving late, staying for a few innings, and leaving after they stop selling alcohol in the seventh inning?  Going to a baseball game should be an experience - something you can cherish and remember and tell your grandchildren about someday.  So is it better to tell them that an underpaid valet parked your car for you, or would you rather tell your grandkids that your ball park had a lively atmosphere both inside and along the streets surrounding it; that your park has a "green monster" (which I did not like seeing covered in advertisements), and that both Ted Williams and Pedro Martinez played in your park? And the fact that you no longer have to pee in a trough was a bonus for my husband, who grew up using the bathrooms in Cleveland's old Municipal Stadium.  I will always be a Nationals fan, but despite the terrible-quality toilet paper in the bathrooms and lack of natural lighting in their concessions area, Fenway Park is pretty great.  Ask any baseball purist out there, and he/she will agree.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Hello there, fellow baseball fans!  What's happenin'?  Well I'll tell you what's happening - Chris Heston, a 27-year-old rookie pitcher making just his 13th start for the San Francisco Giants, threw a no-hitter last night against the New York Mets at Citi Field.  I tuned in during the ninth innings with two outs, so I was able to enjoy the thrill of the no-hitter without the stress of sitting through a whole game wondering if the no-hitter was going to be broken.  Watching a no-hitter never gets old, and what made it interesting is that Heston actually hit three batters during the game!  Another interesting fact is that the Giants' catcher, Buster Posey, has now caught three no-hitters, which puts him in second place after the Red Sox's Jason Varitek, who caught four in his career.  You know me - I have to take a story and turn it so that the catcher looks good! (And if you read this blog regularly, you already knew that Iván Rodriguez caught 2 no-hitters in his career)

That was the "good."  The "bad" is that the Washington Nationals have lost 9 of their last 11 games.  They're still only half a game out of first place (because no one else in the NL East seems to want to win), but they're playing some terrible baseball.  Bryce Harper and Yunel Escobar seem to be the only ones hitting, 2 of their starting pitchers (Stephen Strasburg and Doug Fister) are on the Disabled List, and their bullpen just plain old sucks (except for their closer, Drew Storen, who hasn't seen much action lately).  It's very disappointing, though the season isn't even half over yet, and us "glass-half-full" people are trying to stay positive.  Luckily the Nationals don't play against the Mets until July, so they have some time to get their stuff together.

And now for the "ugly."  Staying with the Nationals for a minute... Shortstop Ian Desmond has committed FOURTEEN errors this season.  Who DOES that?  Do you think I would still have my job if I made 14 errors in 9 weeks?  And Desmond makes WAY more money than I do!  The thing is, they keep putting him in the lineup every day, and I think he just needs to sit out a game or two - a "mental health day" of sorts.  They have several guys (Escobar, Espinosa, Rendón) who can play shortstop while Desmond clears his head - and they probably wouldn't commit any errors!  It is so frustrating, because he's missing some pretty basic little-league-type plays; maybe he needs to get his eyes checked?  Seriously - how often do baseball players get eye exams?  I hope that's part of a routine physical at the beginning of each season; in Desmond's case, I would send him to an eye doctor right away.

Now in order to not end this blog post on a negative note, let me also mention that the Angels' Albert Pujols tied Mickey Mantle for 16th on the all-time home runs list with number 536.  That's pretty cool - anyone who has the potential to cleanly pass Barry Bonds on the list is a cool dude in my book.  Also hitting a home run on the same day was the Houston Astros' Carlos Correa.  This was his first homer (a long way from Pujol's 536) - but any time a kid makes his Major League debut and hit his first homer in the same week, that's pretty special.  And Correa is Puerto Rican (not a catcher), so there's that coolness factor as well.
So there you have it - highlights (and lowlights) from this week's baseball action so far.  See how I write more often when there's actually stuff about which to write?  Let's hope the next few weeks bring more excitement - I need to have things to write about once school is out and I'm done with work for the summer!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Meet the A's New Righty, er, Lefty

May was a crazy month in our house.  3 of the 4 people who live here had birthdays within 9 days of each other, life revolved around track meets and baseball games (until my son broke his foot, putting an early end to his season), and a trip to Nationals Park on Mother's Day was thrown in there as well.  I've also been busy with a new writing project, but just like those ants that invade your kitchen every spring, I always keep coming back.  This blog is very dear to me, and I am never going away (sorry, folks, you just can't get rid of Mudville Mom!).

It's been an interesting baseball season so far - Bryce Harper is living up to his hype and leading the Majors with 18 home runs (along with Nelson Cruz and Giancarlo Stanton); the Orioles' Matt Wieters came back after a one-year recovery from Tommy John surgery (it's not just pitchers who get that done!); and Alex Rodriguez passed Barry Bonds in the all-time RBI list.  As much as I dislike A-Rod (and you should all know that by now!), I hope he realizes that he can be just as good a player without performance-enhancing drugs.  Same for Nelson Cruz - without the PEDs he's still hitting home runs, so let that be a lesson to you all:  You can be pretty good without PEDs.

OK, so what about this pitcher that the Oakland A's just called up from the minors?  Well, Pat Venditte is a switch-pitcher, something that Major League Baseball hasn't seen in 20 years.  In his first big-league game, he entered the game in the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox.  He started throwing warm-up pitches with his right hand, then he switched to his left to face a lefty batter who grounded out.  Then Venditte pitched right-handed to the next two batters, one who got a single (Hanley Ramirez) and the other who hit into a double play (Mike Napoli).

Because switch-pitching is such an oddity, the "Venditte Rule" had to be implemented (hopefully the guy will be known for more than just a rule with his name on it - kind of like poor Tommy John, who had a decent pitching career but is mostly known for his surgery.  And don't even mention Lou Gehrig, one of the greatest Yankees ever who had to have ALS named after him after he died from it way before people started foolishly pouring buckets of ice water on themselves for charity).  Anyway, the "Venditte Rule" states that before each at-bat, the pitcher tells the umpire, batter, and baserunners what hand he will throw with for that batter.  If the player at the plate switch hits, he is free to hit from either side.  The pitcher cannot throw with the other arm in the same at-bat.

So we'll have to see how good Venditte ends up being and if he tends to favor one arm over the other.  One positive note is that if he injures one arm, he still has the other one that he can use (Remember Jim Abbott, the one-handed pitcher back in the 90s who went from college ball straight to the Majors after pitching in the 1988 olympics?  It can be done!).  Let's keep an eye on Pat Venditte and see how he does - I definitely find this guy interesting.

In other baseball news, the All-Star voting is well under way.  I plan to submit my ballot as soon as school is over, when I can sit down and analyze all the players without any work-related interruptions.  I usually vote earlier in the season, and then someone I voted for ends up in a slump or with an injury, so I'm going to wait a little this year.  I know that the Giants' Buster Posey and the Cardinals' Yadier Molina are in a dead heat for the starting catcher position, and I'm not sure if I'll go strictly Puerto Rican on that one or if I will give my sentimental vote to cutie-patootie Posey.  I also have to decide if I should vote for Bryce Harper because he's having a great season, or give my vote to Nick Markakis of the Braves, because he's not an ass like Harper is (and my step-daughter took care of Markakis's dog when she worked in an animal emergency room).  Luckily we get three votes for the outfield, so I may vote for both.

So until I cast my vote in a couple of weeks, enjoy the nice weather (it finally stopped raining here in the mid-Atlantic), catch some games on TV or in person, and feel free to go to and cast your own vote for this year's All-Stars.   Maybe next year we'll see Pat Venditte on the All-Star team.