2010 MLB Year in Superlatives: Part One

The 2010 Major League baseball season is officially over and done with. Now that the off-season  has commenced, I can think of nothing better to do than to take a look back at the events, the highs and lows, the quirks of 2010. Lets think of it as a baseball funeral… but let us not consider it a sad event, the passing away of this season. Instead let us celebrate the wonder of the season that was!

This is the first of two FBB installments on the 2010 MLB Year in Superlatives.

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Most Bizarre Injuries: On the American League side the distinction goes to the Angels Kendry Morales for breaking his leg in the happy victory huddle at home plate after he’d hit a walk off grand slam. A happy victory huddle never turned into a sad defeat huddle so fast. I bestow the title #1 freaky injury on the National League side upon Tyler Colvin (who we now- thankfully- know for sure is not a vampire.)

Honorable mentions: Mat Latos, who went down holding in a sneeze and Marcus Thames, who tripped on his own bat and landed on the DL.

Greatest commercial cameo: Randy Johnson’s snowball bit for Geico. I can’t be the only one who thought this was stinking funny.

Biggest surprise(s): First, the San Diego Padres. They may have just missed the playoffs, but who expected them to even be close? I know I didn’t. Second, Jose Bautista. The man is 30 years old, was entering his seventh year in the majors, was playing for his sixth team, and nobody knew his name. Guys like that don’t usually end up hitting 54 home runs.

Biggest disappointment: Who else is deeply embarrassed for thinking that the Seattle Mariners would be good this year? I know I’m not the only guilty party. The really sad thing is that they weren’t just not-good. They were the very definition of stinky.

Happiest news out of Japan: The at-last unleashed offensive fury of Matt Murton. I always knew he had it in him.

Best Names from the Draft: Corderius Dodd. Trugg Larsson-Danforth. Roderick Shoulders. Theophilus Griffin. Sebastian Vader. Gauntlett Eldemire.

Best Worst Headline: Pirates’ plan is to acquire talent from Draft

Worst Gun-Jumping Journalism: Remember when, for a few hours, Cliff Lee was “traded to the Yankees”?

Best Slide: Fordham’s Brian Kownacki turned in not just the best slide of this year, but perhaps the greatest slide in history.

Photo of the Year: Or at least, photo-of-the-year-that-looks-like-it-would-be-a-painting.

Photo of the post-season: Does anyone in this picture really have a clue what they are doing with their hands?


Weirdest Photo of the Year: Xavier Nady is not the man you think he is.

Feel-good moment of the year: Dallas Braden’s perfect game on Mother’s Day had to be 2010’s warmest, fuzziest event.

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Look for 2010 MLB Year in Superlatives: Part Two coming up later this week!

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“I’m gonna go to the game. They could win. It could happen.”

I was in attendance of Monday’s contest between the Cubs and the Washington Nationals up in DC. What follows are a lot of random thoughts and details of the experience. If they seem boring or trifling to you, just keep in mind that I’ve left out a lot (like being waved, nodded, and smiled at by several different Nationals players who we did not recognize.) But let us commence…

Talking about my collecting of autographs makes me feel not-cool at the best and just plain creepy at the worst. I suppose I could just NOT talk about it, but as this hobby (let’s call it a hobby… hobby is a nice word) makes up half the fun of going to MLB games for me, it’s a bit hard to avoid.
The routine in my family involves arriving to the ballpark a good seven hours before game-time and camping out at the player’s entrance. The sister and myself arrived at that very destination in Washington DC at noon on Monday. It was just the two of us there, and it proved to be a day worth remembering. Our creepy autograph stalking could hardly have been better and the game itself could hardly have been better.

As we walked from Nationals Park back to the Metro station after the game, there were a number of squealing and whooping Cubs fans (probably inebriated) surrounding us. Someone in front of us (probably a Nats fan) muttered that you’d think it was the World Series. Some people consider it stupid to celebrate meaningless wins in the midst of horrible seasons… I won’t comment on that extensively, but I have got to admit that it was an undeniably fun and enjoyable day. I had a blast. And if that is wrong then I can’t say I want to be right.

Here are some blurbs for each player on the Cubs roster inspired by observations made on Monday. Only I didn’t really have anything to say about Carlos Marmol or Aramis Ramirez, so they aren’t part of the list…

Justin Berg & James Russell: James and Justin. Justin and James. A lot of people seem to get them confused, which I don’t get. However they do both seem nice and I proclaim each to be adorable in my sight.

Andrew Cashner is sorta fun to watch in the outfield during BP. Threw lots of baseballs to the crowd… Cash is a people pleaser.

Nothing but *applause* for Casey Coleman. The kid threw a heckuva game.

Ryan Dempster: Dempsty is always awesome. Al-ways.

Thomas Diamond emerged from a cab outside the stadium carrying a messenger bag and I totally did not recognize him ’til he was almost gone. Yes, I am ashamed of myself. Sorry, Thomas.

Was the mystery man with a round face and light colored hair Tom Gorzelanny? I think it probably was.

Sean Marshall is still really tall.

Marcos Mateo seems jolly.

My sister doesn’t like Randy Wells. I do. She also doesn’t like Tyler Colvin, so I think everyone knows who’s in the right on this one.

After BP, there was a gentleman next to me who was genuinely put out with Carlos Zambrano for not stopping to sign autographs and engage with the fans. I always see/hear people like this a pro ballgames, and I am always a bit amused and bit incredulous. I am neither defending nor accusing Carlos. I’ve been to plenty of games, and never personally seen him sign an autograph for anyone. That doesn’t mean he’s never done it. It just puzzles me that people can be so selfish as to not understand that there are 162 games in a season, and at every single one there are thousands of people vying for the attention of players. There is no possible way for every fan to go home with an autograph or a free baseball. Obtaining such coveted freebies is all about being in the right place at the right time. Just because a player doesn’t respond to the masses screaming for attention, that does not make him an inferior human being. OKAY?!?!?

Koyie Hill’s autograph (at least the one he graciously gave me) consists of just his first name. Perhaps he’s trying to be like the Cher of baseball. It’s Koyiejust Koyie.

We saw Geovany Soto’s face through a cab window, and he looked sad.

Jeff Baker… He may not be the most valued or exciting player on the roster, but you’d have a hard time convincing me he wasn’t one of the nicest. In all seriousness, I like Jeff enough by this point to warn anyone who would dare to insult him that you’re gonna have to deal with me.

Darwin Barney has a cheerful face. Doesn’t he?

I love Darlin’ Starlin Castro more every time I see him. Watching him play is an absolute pleasure and his boyish enthusiasm has melted my heart. I want to adopt him.

Blake DeWitt does NOT look the same in street clothes. At ALL. That’s my only excuse for not knowing who he was at first. As with Thomas Diamond, I am ashamed of myself. I’m sorry, Blakey Bear.

I WANTED TO SEE SAM FULD, WHAT IS MICAH HOFFPAUIR DOING HERE???? … Kidding, kidding, of course! I’ve always been fond of Micah.

I have Marlon Byrd’s autograph! *Giddy giggles*

Kosuke Fukudome didn’t spit in my face or run away when the Sharpie I offered him proved to be dried up. Thats’ a proper gentleman.

Xavier Nady did not arrive at the ballpark between the hours of 12 and 4. Was he really late, or really early? You decide.

Alfonso Soriano: The same as always.

+ Corey Miller: Bullpen catchers just seem like cool guys to me.

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Week Nine In Review

Week nine of the Major League season: In which entirely too many interesting things happened.

For the Cubs…

Losing series to the Cardinals and Pirates do not a happy fanbase make! Thus…

Kitten Eaters of the Week: Everyone (minus most of the starting rotation.)

Super Hero of the Week: Carlos Silva. Making the Cards look silly will earn you this distinction.

I heard it through the grape vine: Rumors of Derrek Lee or Xavier Nady being shipped to Los Angeles swirled, but were soon quashed.

Demoted: John Grabow, to the disabled list. Tom Gorzelanny, to the bullpen.

Promoted: Andrew Cashner, from triple-A. Carlos Zambrano, back to the starting rotation.

Headed in the Right Direction / Outstanding Gloviness: Darlin’ Starlin Castro has been showing off some filthy skills at short. I see Gold Gloves in his future.

Elsewhere in baseball…

Best Worst Headline: “Pirates plan is to acquire talent from the draftThere’s a revolutionary idea!

No More Ouchies!: David Huff scared the living daylights out of us all. Kendry Morales went down with one of the more bizarre injuries I’ve seen lately.

Stop, Thief!: Oakland’s Gabe Gross may have pulled off the most sparkling home run robbery of the year when he pulled in a would-be blast from off the bat of Detroit’s Gerald Laird. The Tigers might want to consider some kind of security system, because they got robbed more than once this week…

Masterpiece: That’s what Roy Halladay had on Saturday night. Yet the one we’ll all remember most was…

The one that got away: Armando Galarraga did everything that Dallas Braden and Mr. Halladay did and just got a tough break. He did essentially pitch a perfect game. So did Harvey Haddix (and then some.) That’s baseball! That’s life! By now we all know that the events that followed Mr. Galarraga’s incredible outing were even more memorable than the performance itself. Joe Posnanski’s article on the whole thing is a MUST READ. Here is a nice excerpt:

And in that moment when [Galarraga] had a perfect game so unfairly taken away from him, he smiled. In the interview after the game, he simply said that he wasn’t sure about the call but he was proud of his game. When told afterward that Joyce felt terrible about the missed call, Galarraga said that he wanted to go tell Joyce not to worry about it, that people make mistakes.

Galarraga pitched a perfect game on Wednesday night in Detroit. I’ll always believe that. I think most baseball fans will always believe that. But, more than anything, it seems that Galarraga will always believe it. The way he handled himself after the game, well, that was something better than perfection. Dallas Braden’s perfect game was thrilling. Roy Halladay’s perfect game was art. But Armando’s Galarraga’s perfect game was a lesson in grace.

I liked these snippets from Yahoo’s Big League Stew, as well.

Our reward comes in seeing someone perform at the highest level and then having enough presence of mind to maintain a proper perspective when something goes against them.

It’s kind of strange that there would have been plenty of plaudits thrown Galarraga’s way had Jim Joyce made the correct call, but that we also wouldn’t have really seen the true measure of the man if there hadn’t been a bang-bang play on the would-be the 27th out.

Headed for Countryside Acres: Ken Griffey Jr.. Hey, wait! I already covered this yesterday!

One for the road: 18-yr-old Eri Yoshida debuted for the indy-league Chico Outlaws this week. I always looked upon this phrase with distaste in the past, but I’m saying it now, anyway: You GO, girl.

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.”

Spring is in full swing, guys. At least in Arizona and Florida it is. It’s still about 2 degrees here in Virginia. The first game of the exhibition season was played Tuesday, and the Cubs have their first this afternoon. Randy Wells will take the bump! Perhaps the biggest question is whether or not I’ll burst into tears the moment those sweet words, “Chicago Cubs baseball is on the air!” reach my ears. *Ahem.* Anyway, all I’ve really got for y’all today is a mess of springy odds and ends.

Around The Majors

-Up-and-coming Washington outfielder Nyjer Morgan is apparently an Alex Ovechkin fan and hockey enthusiast in general. And when I say “enthusiast,” I mean he moved to Canada for four years to play hockey. Check out the video interview Yahoo’s Big League Stew put up. You learn something new every day, eh?

-Pheeew. That Tim Lincecum just has a way about him. Click here and watch the hilarious video, which features everyone’s favorite diminutive Cy Young winner doing some Snuggie modeling. (Also, look out San Francisco area Bed, Bath & Beyond shoppers! You might see little Timmy one of these days. And apparently he will drop his pants at the drop of a dime.)

-Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals’ 15 million dollar baby, has been living up to the hype so far, displaying both sick pitching prowess and poise. Whether he’ll start the season in the Major Leagues remains to be seen. Washington manager Jim Riggleman had this to say: “He could probably do it. We all know that already. But there’s a lot more that goes into it than that. It can’t hurt him to go somewhere and work on his craft, to get used to pitching every fifth day instead of every six or seven days, which is the schedule in college. The most important thing is how long he’s going to pitch in the major leagues, not how quickly he gets here.”

Regardless of where he starts out, it looks like the Nats found a keeper.

From Cubs Camp

-Starlin Castro won’t start in the Cubs’ first Cactus League game this afternoon as was originally reported, but is supposed to be coming off the bench. Hopefully within the next few weeks we’ll all have a good idea of what’s cookin’. Lou Piniella observed that, “He handles himself very professionally for a young kid out here, he really does. He’s calm. He’s not awed by being here. He’s relaxed. He’s not starry-eyed. If you didn’t know he was 19 years old, you couldn’t guess he was 19.” Bench coach Alan Trammel, who himself debuted at shortstop for the Detroit Tiger at 19, added some observations of his own: “He showed professionalism. I know he’s young and most guys are quiet, which he is, but he’s attentive and he’s under control.” From this and everything else I’ve heard, I feel like Starlin has the right kind of attitude.

-Comcast Sportsnet Chicago has a nice little video library. Check out the one from 2/27 to catch some glimpses at Mr. Castro and some fellow prospects. While you’re at it, take a look at the Xavier Nady clip. I keep forgetting about him, but if this guy is healthy he could end up making quite the impact.

-Has anyone seen Micah Hoffpauir lately? Man alive! It looks like he’s trying to give Jeff Samardzija a run for his money in the hair department. You would hardly recognize him. Unfortunately I have been unable to procure any photographs.

One for the road.

Whaddaya know about that?

In typical fashion, my post from this morning became obsolete within a couple of hours. Ben Sheets just signed with the Oakland A’s (I don’t understand 90% of what that organization does.) And more notably (to me, that is), the Cubbies just agreed to a deal with Xavier Nady, pending a physical. According to Ken Rosenthal the physical is not just a “formality.” Mr. Nady’s recent injury history is not good, so I suppose the whole thing could go up in smoke. I am not going to be cautious or superstitious, though. I am just going to go ahead and say: Welcome to Chicago, Xavier Nady. I will have even more fun doodling your name now that you’re a Cub.

Cup of hot soup and half a hot-wire sandwich

Let’s look at what’s been happenin’!

-Last week Grant Desme, a top prospect in the Athletics’ farm system, announced that he would leave his baseball career behind to join the priesthood. The story was popping up all over the internet, so apparently I wasn’t the only one who found it intriguing. Although it provided some potent fodder for joke-making (via Twitter: RyanMcGeeESPN God have mercy on the church softball league that ends up with @MLBazFallLeague MVP Grant Desme. #priestswhocanrake) you have to respect the man’s decision. Not many people would abandon a possible life of fame and fortune, for any reason. Not to mention that every little boy’s dream is to grow up to be a major leaguer. Mr. Desme, only 23 years old, could have used the priest thing as a fallback plan in case baseball didn’t work out. Instead, he has chosen to walk away from the game just when he was starting to show the most promise (he cleaned up in the prestigious Arizona Fall League, garnering MVP honors.) What more can you say? Bless you, Mr. Desme. Bless you.

-So, who have the Cubs been looking at lately? I hardly even know. Somewhere between Jeff Gray and Marlon Byrd I lost my off-season belly fire. RHP Kiko Calero? OK… well, the thought of shouting “Let’s go, Kiko!” does appeal to me. Ben Sheets? That’d be swell, but if his asking price is as high as it’s rumored to be, Mr. Sheets could use a good slap in the face. The names of Jermaine Dye, Xavier Nady, Rocco Baldelli, and Jonny Gomes have been circulating. Of those, I would like Mr. Nady, please. Has anyone else ever noticed that he has the funnest name to write in the world? I wish my name were Xavier Nady.

-This was barely a blip on the radar, but outfielder Jody Gerut signed with the Milwaukee Brewers. I was horrified. I am certain that Mr. Gerut is the most underrated “Cub killer” in baseball today. He may not be Carlos Lee, but that guy is always doing something to hurt us.

Yay, Mesa!