Results tagged ‘ Marlins ’

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.

Spring Break photo album

Within 25 seconds of dropping our bags off in our St. Pete Beach hotel room my buddy Marc was out the door headed to the beach. It jump started an unforgettable week in Florida. We created lifelong memories and stories we can share for years down the road. It’s senior year spring break, we did it the best way we knew how. Enjoy some photos from our week in the Sunshine State.


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Our first stop was Gainesville, home of the University of Florida. It was a Sunday and the campus was fairly dead but we ventured out for a self guided tour. The campus is much more flat than what we are used to in Morgantown, but it was very nice, nonetheless. Right in the middle of campus, is a swimming pool. Can’t beat that.



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The Saturday night security guard must have been slacking because a gate to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium was left wide open. We explored the 90,000 seat stadium through all its nooks and crannies. We were able to run on the field and climb about the bleachers. It is an impressive structure with plenty of college football history. 

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We checked into our luxurious St. Pete Beach hotel room on Sunday and immediately hit the beach. The white sand between your toes, cool water flowing up along the shore and the calm rays of a setting sun creating the recipe for relaxation. 
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Monday meant baseball. Pirates baseball. Bradenton was the destination and McKechnie Field was where the afternoon would be spent for a taste of spring training baseball. The Pirates hosted the Twins and I was giddy from the moment that I woke up my three groggy friends as soon as the sun rose.
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Not only was the promise of Pirates baseball enough, MLB Network was there filming its 30 clubs in 30 days hour long special. While may of the cameras and personalities were behind the scenes interviewing coaches and players, their broadcast truck was outside the ballpark for the fans. 
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Activities included the chance to film your own video postcard. Now, it wouldn’t be seen on MLB Network but it was a video to remember a special day. Introduced by a pre-recorded Harold Reynolds and Hazel Mae, the 45 second video was my chance to shine. I had a nice crowd of senior citizens around listening to what I had to say.
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The treats kept coming. A special first pitch was thrown by Twins commentator, former 1979 Pirate and 2011 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Bert Blyleven threw out the first pitch. 





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I took nearly 100 pictures at the game. Photos that ranged from players signing autographs (I was lucky enough to get a hat Andrew McCutchen threw up to the crowd which he signed for me), batting practice and great stadium shots. You can see them all on my facebook page. This photo, though, stands out. It is Pirate City which acts as the dorm for players during spring training. It is a state-of-the-art facility which is also the entry way to the five practice fields.




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In all honesty, I could have spent the whole week in Bradenton. But, the show must go on and if I had a second favorite place in Florida it would be Disney World, our next stop. The next spring training game on the agenda was Marlins Braves at the Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney. 
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I was never the biggest Nate McLouth fan when he was in Pittsburgh but I was totally shocked on that fateful day when he was traded to the Braves. He has underperformed greatly with Atlanta but seems to be breaking out of his funk. He collected three hits in the game.
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The atmosphere at the game was very electric. I was a hot and packed day with the temperatures nearing 90 and the attendance reaching almost 10,000. It was a first class operation and a rewarding experience. After all, its the Disney way. Also, it may have been the most unique game I will ever attend. The Braves trailed by one in the bottom of the ninth but a solo home run by Brandon Hicks would tie it up. It went to extras with the score remaining the same after 11 innings. Then, it was called. Yep, the game was tied. Ended in a tie. Highly doubt I will ever see that again. 
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We had one more game schedule for our spring training swing. Cardinals-Nationals was on the tab in Viera, but we got word that it had sold out quickly with it being a night game, fireworks night and Albert Pujols. A trio like that is impressive. Chris, Marc and Jared were surprised with the high turnouts at games all week. I wasn’t. People love spring training and I’m glad I finally got to experience it first hand. 
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We were down in the dumps about not seeing that final game but we took matters into our own hands. It was a hockey night in Tampa. Yes, I agree hockey is not meant to be played in Florida. We spent a full day in the Gulf of Mexico then go inside to watch guys skate on ice. It was a fun time, though. Free jersey giveaways and 12 dollar tickets made a guy who knows next to nothing about hockey a little happy. I’m talking about myself. The Lightning do know how to put on a good show despite them falling to the Islanders that night.
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Another stop included a race track. Actually, the best they come. Daytona Speedway has been the epicenter of NASCAR action for many decades. Now, if there is one thing, besides hockey, that I don’t understand its NASCAR. But, the infrastructure is just inspiring. The huge track is the mecca for race fans everywhere. There are a lot, and I do respect them. 
The rest of the week consisted of more beach time, swimming, good food and drinks, putt putt and meeting new friends. Basically we were living out the music that Jimmy Buffett sings about. It was a great, yet expensive week, but you can’t put a price on good friends and good times. I just hope to do it again soon. I will be spending a week in Bradenton! I can only hope.
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Piecing it all together

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The select few of you readers who have stuck it out during my extended leave of absence know I have five passions in life. Three of them were on display last week at the Winter Meetings. 

Baseball
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Christmas
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Disney World
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By now you know that the Annual Baseball Winter Meetings were held at the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World complete with Christmas decor and good tidings. MLB Network was on my television nearly 24/7, that is when I wasn’t studying for finals or writing papers. Chris Rose and Kevin Millar were great on emceeing the entire week with great interviews and top notch reporting on the latest news. While the Pirates didn’t draw much of the attention, they surely made a splash for those that care in Pittsburgh. 
The Pirates were able to sign a pair of talented pitchers who will take a stab at making the rotation.
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Kevin Correia and Scott Olsen are now members of the Pirates. 
Yawn.
But in reality, a moves like these needed to be done. Starting pitchers were in short supply this offseason and the Cliff Lees of the world will not be patronizing PNC Park as their home anytime soon. Correia and Olsen complement each other and the team the best they can. 
Remember that superb pitching staff the San Diego Padres had last year? Yeah, Correia wasn’t a part of it. With an ERA upwards of 10 he was demoted to the bullpen throughout the Padres run to the playoffs that eventually fell short. He seemed to have improved towards the end of the year and will work, most likely, as a 4th or 5th starter in the Bucs rotation.  
Two DUI and assault cases later Olsen is gone from the Marlins and Nationals and is looking to revamp a brief successful career. When he’s been on the mound he has been effective but elbow injuries to his throwing arm have hindered him during the duration of his major league stint. He too will fight for a back of the rotation spot.
General manager Neil Huntington also did his part to bolster the offensive lineup. 
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Matt Diaz, former Brave, now looks to be patrolling right field for the Pirates in 2011. He will fight for playing time along with Garrett Jones. A strong spring could land him in a full time position, but the bench with spot starts may be his most useful position. 
The Pirates also had the first pick in the Rule 5 draft where they selected former Cleveland Indians prospect Josh Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a shortstop who can swing the bat, exactly what Pittsburgh needs. He’s in his mid 20′s and will probably remain at the AAA level. Some disappointments have arisen as other infielders such as Jason Bartlett and J.J. Hardy, both on the Pirates radar, slipped away to other teams. J-Rod may just be the perfect fit, though. A diamond in the rough, so to speak. 
WIth just over two months remaining until Spring Training other moves will surely be made. The Pirates have goals of adding some relievers and another bat is a necessity. 
photo credits: tbb.com, rhapsody.com, momknowseverything.com, piratesprospects.com
 

Back from vacation and boy was it a good one

I’m back from one of the best weeks I have ever spent in recent memory. If you read my blog entry from last week you would know that I was on vacation in Florida with my family. It was a great break from reality filled with baseball, great Cuban food, white sandy beaches and a boatload of Disney magic. So jump in and hold on tight ya’ll are going to help me relive my seven days in the Sunshine State.

outside stadium.jpgOur main priority of the trip was to visit Sun Life Stadium. Now who in their right mind would make it a priority to go to Sun Life Stadium for a baseball game? The Peaslees! For the past 10 or so years we plan our family vacations around baseball games. We plan to hit each ballpark around the Major Leagues. Sun Life was number 25 in terms of team’s home ballparks we have seen games in. We just need both New Yorks, Toronto and Seatle and we have hit all 30!

 

We arrived at the stadium at 5:30 right as the gates opened for the 7pm start of the Marlins and Nationals. Stephen Strasburg was on the mound for the Nats and my little brother Zach proudly wore his number 37 Strasburg t-shirt. Parking was not an issue outside the stadium as it was completely empty. It was nice that we somewhat had priority parking as the lot surrounding the stadium was the only place to park for the game and all that is really ever needed.

family.jpgThere is completely no atmosphere building up to the game outside the stadium. The only fun spot was this huge inflatable of Billy the Marlin. In my opinion the second best mascot in the MLB, behind Pittsburgh’s Pirate Parrot of course. We walked up to the ticket booth and purchased a great deal. Upper level behind the plate tickets, four hot dogs and four pops for 68 bucks. Not too shabby. It was a decent promotion on a gloomy Friday night.

Once entering we were greeted by the sound of salsa music.

music at start.jpgQuite different than the tradional soft rock you typically hear at PNC Park. From here on out we realized we were in for the most unique baseball experience we have ever experience. Is that a good thing? Maybe, but it this case not really.

 

escalator.jpgSun Life Stadium is a huge structure. After all it has been home to numerous college bowl games, the Super Bowl and of course the Miami Dolphins. Our seats were right behind home plate buuuuut in the nosebleeds in the 400 level. This escalator escorted us to the tip top of Miami. If you have a serious case of vertigo I recommend splurging on lower level seats.

Once at the top the seats really were not that bad.

sun life.jpgAs you can see we had a great view perched from our seats. A great view of brightly colored orange seats. A group of business men behind us remarked on how great these seats were. Must have been their first baseball game and they surely have never been to PNC Park. As I told my dad it is a crime baseball is played here.

Since we did make it to the game early, while batting practice was still going on Zach and I
ball.jpg ventured to the outfield in an area called the “Fish Tank” in hopes of retrieving a ball. Because he was wearing his Nationals gear, reliever Joel Peralta tossed a ball up to Zach.

The crowd in th eoutfield had to be the most uneducated group of baseball fans ever. It really was a reflection on the whole crowd at Sun Life that night. These “fans” could care less about the game and are only there for the extra circular activities. And there are a bunch. I will compliment the fans on being the quickest to start a wave, however it happened in the 2nd inning. I hate the wave but these fans ate it up as it went around the park at least a dozen times.

fiesta fridays.jpgIt was a Fiesta Friday! Complete with mariachi bands roaming the outfield stands, four DJ’s spinning tracks on the concourse and a grape soda chugging contest. It was the most random assortment of events I have ever seen at a baseball game. But the crowd ate it up. Everyone on their feet was dancing, screaming and enjoying the culture. It was the most diverse crowd I have ever been involved with at a game. To accomodate the very large Hispanic crowd the PA anouncer announced the batters and lineups and most announcements in English as well as Spanish, first time I have ever heard that at a baseball game. Florida also adorned their “Los Marlins” jerseys.

I did meet a new friend on the concourse level at Sun Life Stadium.
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He looked friendly as we walked towards each other and I simply asked if he was a Pirates fan with my hand extended ready to shake his hand. He looked at perplexed and gave me a stern “No!” Taken aback I said “why the jersey?” In a loud booming voice he goes, “I’m a CLEMENTE fan. I do not like the Pirates anymore.” I told him I still am a Pirates fan, which gave him a good laugh and he reluctantly snapped this photo with me.   

Stephen Strasburg earned the win for the Nats. He was shaky to start but still managed seven strikeouts in six innings. The crowd was over 20,000 for the first time since Opening Day one fan told us. In 2012 the Marlins will be awarded one of the most beautiful ballparks in baseball. They waste no time in marketing it. Pictures are plastered all over publications, outfield walls and even in the background of the scoreboard when players are up to bat.

It was a unique experience at the game. I enjoyed myself and really would like to go back when the new stadium is opened. It is needed, baseball should never be played in an outdoor barn like that. But quite frankly the fans and citizens of Miami do not deserve it.

Outside the park there is some even more crazy stuff going on.Artwork like this decorates the
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Thumbnail image for pirate flag.jpgI was most happy with the Marlins when I saw this flying at the main gates of the stadium. The Pirate flag was a perfect segway to the second half of our vacation in Disney World.

We milled around all four parks and had a great time as children at heart. My favorite ride at the Magic Kingdom is of course Pirates of the Caribbean. I do like the movies and the musical score as it is often played at PNC Park. After riding the ride multiple times my brother and I had a heyday in the giftshop.

dreads.jpgRocking our Jack Sparow dreads, more like Andrew McCutchen in our book. We looked the part of true Pirates whether we be of the Carribean or Pittsburgh.

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Hey, Hey!

Raise the Jolly Roger!

Since I haven’t been home with my family all summer this week was definitely welcomed and the perfect opportunity to bond and catch up. It was unforgettable with memories I will carry on forever.

 

 

famdisney.jpgI am now ready to make my way back to PNC Park to see my Bucs take on the Padres. In my hiatus the Pirates have been hot, red hot. Everyone is hitting the ball putting up almost 50 runs since the All-Star break. This here is the future of the Pirates and it seems to be shaping up beautifully.

 

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