May 2011

Catcher injuries top the rest

“Chin music” has long been the appropriate term for a high and inside fastball running in on a batter.

In 1989, Don Slaught heard it loud and clear.

A fastball from Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd drilled Slaught in the face causing a rush of blood and resulted in several broken facial bones. Within a few weeks he was back in the Yankees lineup. For other players, gruesome injuries take a bit longer to heel. Now, there have been many worse injuries to have occurred over just a split second in a big league game. In 1976, Phillies left fielder Todd Stamps ran into the outfield bullpen, ran into a metal pipe and ruptured brain cells. Jermaine Dye splattered his shin after fouling off a pitch in 2004.

While the aforementioned ailments are indeed troubling, they were a matter of timing and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. More often than not, its a catcher that sees the most live action in a ball game with a heightened risk or traumatic problems. I bring this up because it stung to see Giants catcher, Buster Posey go down against the Marlins on Wednesday. A catcher is an unsung hero on a team. They are the protectors of home plate, the pitcher and runs against. That barrier needs to be strong, and it is. Injuries to the catcher have always been difficult to watch. These three, including Posey’s, have given a greater appreciation to old position number two.

Scott Cousins was only trying to give his team the lead. The last thing he wanted to do was send the reigning Rookie of the Year to the hospital.

As you can see from the above pictured, Posey’s legs buckled and he laid motionless on the ground for a good 20 minutes. Reports say he will likely miss the rest of the season as a result from the horrific snap play. There is no way that Cousins tried to make the play dirty. If no injury took place, he would be heralded for his hustle and toughness on such a difficult play, tagging up on a shallow fly ball to center field.

Hustle was the name of the game for Pete Rose.

Ray Fosse found that out firsthand.

In an eerily similar play to the Posey-Cousins showdown, Rose was attempting to score the winning run for his team—in an All-Star game. He’s received a bulk of criticism for the over-aggressive lunge. It was a de-facto exhibition game, but there were no fake games in Rose’s eyes. Fosse didn’t let this set him back, though. He was back in late August of 1970, the collision happened in July of that year, and performed well. He would make another All Star game in his career while earning a Gold Glove award and winning a pair of World Series titles.

Posey has an accomplished list of accolades already in his young career. Fosse is a perfect example of success following a detrimental injury.

Jason Kendall is not.

After twisting his ankle in highly unorthodox fashion on July 4, 1999, he was out for the rest of the season. Kendall was always an overrated player, but he was reliable. Behind the plate, he was a force. Kendall holds the record for most games caught in a Pirate uniform.  His notorious injury is not exactly like the previous two, as you can see. However, it did hamper a solid career. He went on to have the lowest slugging percentage in the majors for three years with no further All-Star selections since 2000. Nagging injuries would continue to plaque his run as a major leaguer.

While we were out

The conversion of mlblogs to wordpess was completed last week. My personal conversion happened just seconds ago.

Whether it was my own internet technological illiteracy or a kink in the system, I found it harder to get back on the blogosphere than some of my other loyal bloggers. Nonetheless, I’m back and ready to share what I’ve been up to since my last post.

And, it’s been four years in the making.

I am a proud graduate of West Virginia University.

Last Sunday I walked across the stage at the Morgantown Events Center, shook hands with the School of Journalism Dean and proceeded to be handed a public relations diploma from one of my favorite professors, Dr. Diana Martinelli.

The moment was surreal as it just seemed I was doing this similar process some four years ago in Youngstown, OH when I graduated from high school. I was on my own, two hours away from my family and basically alone on a campus of nearly 30,000 students. However, I quickly made life long friends and created memories that will never fade away. I had much help along the way. From my parents, to my close relatives, friends, teachers, advisors, heck, even this blog has been an immense advocate in guiding me to this point.

Now, I truly am in the real world paving out a successful future.

I’m working for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, a Class-A  minor league affiliate of the Indians. As a promotions and marketing intern, I assist in the whole production of game day at the ballpark. It’s a dream come true. After attending hundreds of baseball games in the past 22 years, I can now personally share my thoughts, ideas and experiences with a professional baseball front office. Furthermore, I serve as the in-game host between inning breaks. That guy, or girl, at a park can make or break the fan experience. I’m glad that responsibility is placed on my shoulders because I love the fan interaction of a sporting event.

Again, thank you all for your support. It’s an exciting time and I will surely be sharing it all right here.

Historic Pittsburgh vendor Kenny Geidel passes away

0717nacho2-a.jpgThere’s nothing quite like the sights and sounds of the ballpark on a hot summer night. The game itself is one thing, but add thousands of fans, activities and concessions into the stadium and grand memories are bound to be made.

Kenny Geidel helped make many of those memories.

From Three Rivers Stadium and Mellon Arena to PNC Park, Heinz Field and Consol Energy Center the famed vendor put a smile on many customers and kept them coming back for more. 

As a Pepsi, Cotton Candy and Hot Chocoalte at PNC Park since its christening in 2001, Geidel helped usher in a new generation of fans. He will most notably be remembered as the lemonade man who always knew how to draw attention.

Geidel passed away Tuesday at the age of 62.

It’s not that he did anything spectacular in the stands, he just was always a charming character that made any trip to a Pittsburgh sporting event special. His routine consisted of the same blank stare, swift movements up the steps and the most recognizable voice at PNC Park. Shouts of “lemonaaaaaadeeeee here, lemonaaaaaadeeeee here!” were distinct and echoed throughout the stadium. To some, it wasn’t a Pirate game unless you saw Ken walking through your section. His forearms bulged with the look of an 18 year old top hitting prospect, he was considered one of the hardest working individuals in the city.

As simple as he was, Geidel was more than just another vendor, he was a relaible sight that gave fans assurance that a baseball game meant more than just the on field action. Now without Ken in the stands and concourse, PNC Park may not seem quite right. After every purchase he showed gratitude toward the customer to “take it easy.”

Ken, its your turn.

Take it easy up there in heaven and enjoy a cold lemonade while you watch down on us.

photo credit: pittsburgh tribune review

Just like the chance of rain in Pittsburgh, the Pirates are threatening

By a show of hands, how many people check the weather reports first thing in the morning? 

Obviously I can’t see the response, but I’m certain a grand majority of you readers do. On any given night in the Pittsburgh area, rain is a common theme. I have to be sure to check, re-check and for good measure, check yet again on nights I anticipate going to PNC Park. Nearly every night has been at least a 40-60 percent chance of precipitation. In fact, two games I was all set to go to were rained out. 
My luck changed Saturday.
With a 60 percent chance of rain, 32,298 other people joined me in the stands to witness a  6-1 Pirates victory. 
It was my first win at PNC Park this season. 
The Pirates have taken notice as it jump started a three game winning streak, at home nonetheless. Each game has been relatively equivalent to each other with strong starting pitching, quick defense and clutch hitting late in the game. 
Charlie Morton went 7.2 innings with five strikeouts giving up just one run on Saturday.
James McDonald earned a career high eight strikeouts and let up three hits in 6 innings in a 5-4 win on Sunday.
Jeff Karstens continued the trend going 5.2 solid innings allowing just one run to set up a 4-1 victory on Monday. 
While Saturday was the only sure fire contest, Sunday and Monday were come from behind affairs. Ryan Doumit’s three-run blast set the Pirates ahead in the eighth inning in honor of Mothers Day. On Monday, also in the eighth, Neil Walker began a hit parade scoring Xavier Paul on an RBI double. Lyle Overbay followed suit with a RBI double of his own. To conclude the scoring, Doumit came through again. He ripped a double down the right field line scoring Overbay. 
The win put Pittsburgh at 18-17.
Yes, that is indeed a game over .500. 

‘Road Warriors’ return home looking for imperative wins

ryan-doumit1.jpg

For the past two years Ryan Doumit has been asking for his ticket to be punched out of Pittsburgh. 
A majority of fans would have gladly done it for him. 
Behind the plate his fielding stats have been dismal. His arm, even worse. With a bat in his hands, he’s averaged 12 home runs and a .250 batting average. When Chris Snyder was brought in at the trade deadline, Doumit backfired. He was outspokenly against the acquisition and his numbers declined more so. 
Despite the past, 2011 is a new year. Instead of making his way out of Pittsburgh, Doumit has embraced a platoon role with Snyder. It’s been beneficial to himself and the Buccos. 
His grand slam in the 3rd inning gave the Pirates a 7-0 lead en route to a 7-4 victory. Their 11th road win of the year. 
After tallying just 17 road wins in all of 2010…
Hold on, let me repeat that, 17 measly road wins a year ago, Pittsburgh now leads the majors away from its home park. 
The Bucs have won five road series, one more that 2010. They haven’t come against slouches, either. The Pirates took two out of three from the Cardinals (currently 17-14 and leading the NL Central), three out of four from the Reds (Central champs from a year ago and now in 2nd place in the division), and some more two out of threes from the Cubs, Rockies and Padres. 
In this span, the pitching has continued to dominate with Kevin Correia winning all five of his road starts. 
There’s no doubt this resurgence is surprising. The Pirates are just six road wins away from matching their total from a year ago. They can accomplish this in the second month of the season. The offense has been relatively dormant averaging 4.2 runs per game outside of PNC Park. At home, however, only 2.6 runs are coming across the plate. That has equated to a 3-9 record at home.
With a home stand of seven games coming up between the Astros and Dodgers, the Bucs not only have to improve on their home series, but also in an attempt to move up in the Central. 
They’re two games out.
Coming to town are two struggling teams. Each are sub-.500 and at least  4.5 games out of their respective divisions. The road wins need to turnover to the home battles for this team to remain competitive. There is no better time than now. 
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