Monday, June 27, 2011

Interleague Part II

Earlier, I noted about American League managers and their fascination with double switches. This year, I watched mostly National League games for the first few months. Over the past week, I have watched several games with NL announcers calling a game in an American League park. They kept obsessing over that "9th hitter" in the lineup. There are a handful of tough yet positionless DH's in the AL. Generally, it seems to me that many teams just look at their eight best hitters and DH the worst fielder among them. If it were an NL team, he'd be in the field. In the AL, that extra half of a player is actually in the field. And he probably hits below .250 with little power. Heck, some of them probably hit closer to .200. At this point, there are only two differences between AL and NL baseball. The AL has a slightly better defense on the field. Whereas, in the NL the worthless hitter at the bottom of the lineup has productive at-bats, drives in key runs, and gets the bunt down. This is really just my perception, but I'd be interested to compare it to reality. But if I took the time to fact check everything, then I wouldn't ever post anything.

Personally, I love having a DH in exactly one league. The DH brings a different kind of purity to the game. You have a real pitcher, eight real fielders behind him, and 9 real batters in the lineup. As the game has specialized, it's just not possible to have 9 all-around players out there. That's, of course, the purity of the NL. The rules of the game force everybody to do everything. The players, coaches, and managers have to decide the perfect balance of skills.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


On Friday night, I knew the Marlins were playing a late game, so I took my chance to watch the early Pirates game. The Pirates finished their win over Boston at about 9:15 and I flipped over to the Marlins game. They were showing the Marlins batting lineup and oddly it included the pitcher. Then I noticed the Marlins were wearing the home white pants and it was the bottom of the first. The field looked suspiciously like Safeco. Of course, the announcers explained the whole story in the top of the first which I had missed. Sure, I could just look it up, but I hoped that at some point they'd mention it. Apparently, there was a U2 concert in Miami. At first, it seemed silly that a concert would bump the ballgame. Then I realized that they're lucky to get 10,000 fans at a Marlins game. For a 3 game series, that might be 30,000. I'm fairly certain that u2 could fill more seats than that.

Also, watch out for catcher Carlton Tanabe of the Clinton Lumberkings. He may only be the backup catcher for the Mariners Single-A affiliate, but he's a real good catch-and-throw guy. He calls a good game. Handles the young staff very well. Forget having a pitching coach out there on the field. He's like having another manager on the field. Or maybe he's just a backup catcher in the minor leagues. I suppose it's guys like this who hang around until they're 30 and find a job somewhere in the majors.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Davenport Iowa

Hey, at least I post more often than the Marlins win.

This weekend, I finally took my Eastern Iowa Minor League Baseball road trip. I've been stewing on the idea for a few years when I saw reports that one of the nicer parks in the minors is in Davenport, Iowa. There are also minor league teams in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Clinton, and Burlington. Just about any weekend should feature a decent amount of baseball. This year, the scheduling worked to go to Clinton on Thursday night and then to Davenport on Friday and Saturday.

Naturally, we had to stop at the Field of Dreams near Dyersville. There are few if any signs directing passing motorists on US-20. You have to know to exit in Dyersville. Then you drive past a Pamida and a Hardees. I'm not sure I knew that either of those existed. In our case, we had to navigate a detour of the main street, too. Otherwise, you just have to know where to go. It's only a mile or two out of town. It looks just like the movie, though the corn isn't too high yet. Having grown up playing baseball on fields with pine trees for an outfield, it seems rather ordinary. I think that's the point and I'm glad that I saw it.

Modern Woodmen Park- as it's called these days- in Davenport exceeded expectations. If you enjoy baseball, you need to attend a game in this stadium. The whole experience feels like you've stepped into one of those old black and white photos you see of baseball from the 30's. We even had to wait for a train to roll through before stopping at the box office. This is just a great place for baseball. Pictures and descriptions don't do it justice. As they said on Reading Rainbow, you don't have to take my word for it. Go and find out for yourself.