This happened completely on accident or at least half on accident. When I headed to Modesto, California last weekend I had no idea I was going to be watching Tyler Matzek pitch, and when I asked my wife if she wanted to go to Frederick on Saturday it was moments before it was announced that Dylan Bundy would pitch that do. Because of this chain of events I ended up watching two of the top pitching prospects in the game in back to back Saturdays.
During the first couple of months of the 2012 season Dylan Bundy has dominated the South Atlantic League. In 30 innings pitched for the Delmarva Shorebirds Bundy struck out 40 batters while walking only 2 and giving up precisely 0 earned runs. In his first start for the Frederick Keys Bundy struck out six batters over five innings pitched walking none and giving up two earned runs on a fourth inning homerun.
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incomparable blind streets of shuddering cloud and lightning in the mind leaping — Allen Ginsberg Howl
There is something distinctly American about a sport willing to create its own myth about how it is distinctly American. According to most historical accounts baseball evolved from the British game of rounders, but that wouldn’t suit the American psyche. For nothing good in America could come from the British. Everything about the history of America is the history of a country that does its best to be different than its European origins. In fact most people in America, descended from Europeans or not, are here because their ancestors didn’t like the way things were being done in their home country. In 1905 the Mills Commission set forth to discover the origins of baseball, but instead created their own that attributed the invention of the sport of baseball to a Union officer who drew out the rules of the game in a patch of dirt in Cooperstown, New York.
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I fully intended yesterday to write up my review of my most recent baseball trip out to the city of San Francisco, but instead I had to write about the 40,000 or so people I witnessed fist pumping in AT&T Park. Now the duty of reviewing this trip falls to me today. The trip started off fairly well as nothing went wrong on either of my flights and I enjoyed one last Five Guys bacon cheeseburger before departing Dulles International Airport for my connecting flight in Hartfield-Jackson Airport.
When I arrived at SFO my friend was waiting for me and we made our way to pick up our rental car. The first thing we did was then to eat lunch or whatever meal it actually was as we were now three hours behind our normal time. Whatever meal it was, lunch or dinner, we ate it in South San Francisco at a Mexican grocer that came highly recommended for delicious burritos, and indeed this burrito was an amazing taste sensation. The flour tortilla was lightly grilled and carried with it the perfect consistency to greet the senses before getting to the juicy insides. The carne asada I got on the burrito was seasoned to perfection that cannot be described in words, and every aspect of this burrito was better than any other burrito I have ever had. So much so that I may never be able to eat another burrito as long as I live and will always long for a return to that small Mexican grocer in South San Francisco.
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Normally when I take a baseball trip I write up a review of the entire trip including all games watched, ballparks seen, and food consumed, but something alarming happened on this trip. With the Giants trailing their cross town rivals heading into the bottom of the ninth by the score of four runs I was expecting to see some cheesy montage of movie quotes to rally the horde and get them to cheer on the Giants. Instead what happened was this.
AT&T Park is one of the most aesthetically pleasing ballparks I have been in, but it is also one of the most practically useless. It is lacking in all the modern amenities associated with newer ballparks. I get that they were going for an throwback feel, but did they need walkways so narrow that they caused a complete stoppage in movement? Narrow walk ways might be the worst offense I have seen in a ballpark built after 1990, but it also suffered from some of the same issues as other throwback parks with the seats facing in the wrong direction and a lack of bathrooms. Not to mention that when they built the ballpark they decided to put the bullpens on the field.
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I might be heading to the San Francisco area tomorrow and even though I will be missing 2/3 of this season’s Nats and Orioles series at Nats Park that doesn’t mean I don’t have thoughts on it. In 2005 I started to go to baseball games with my father on a consistent basis. As time went on and I got to see more and more fathers and sons at the ballpark I started to feel a little cheated. The moment really happened for me in 2006 when I was trying to get autographs from several of the Nats players during their picnic at the park event. I was kindly reminded by Nationals pitcher Mike O’Connor to let the kids go first. At first I was a bit disgusted with myself for being such a rude a-hole, but the more I thought about it the more disgusted I become with other people.
There is a long list of men who deserve blame for baseball being out of DC for most of my lifetime, but I think it should start with a couple owners. Mainly Bob Short and Peter Angelos. I am not going to go into those reasons here as a quick Google search will give you a good amount of reading material by people who have done a better job than I could, and besides this is about what this series means to me.
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JJ hardy had hit nine homeruns on the year. Ian Desmond five. JJ Hardy has walked 11 times in 171 plate appearances. Ian Desmond has walked 6 times in 166 plate appearances. They both play short stop for teams in the Baltimore/Washington area and have been their respective teams primary lead-off hitters despite low on base percentages.
Ian Desmond’s slash line of .276/.300/.448 is close to Hardy’s line of .261/.310/.497 but it isn’t there yet. Hardy has more power and doesn’t a marginally better job of taking a walk, but those lines are very close. Advanced metrics rank Hardy as a much better fielder than Ian Desmond, but having watched both Hardy can’t get as deep in the hole as Desmond can but he also doesn’t make errors on plays that should be routine.
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Monday night in the Nation’s capital saw a story line come to a crisis moment for the Nats. Because of the injury to Drew Storen the Washington Nationals have been dealing with issues at the back end of the bullpen all season long. The question now is do they replace Henry Rodriguez, who has been filling in for Storen, or do they let him work his issues out in the ninth inning. That is an interesting question as Nationals fans have been here before when Joel Hanrahan had the same sort of confidence and control issues before being traded in 2009.
Joe Hanrahan has since gone on to become one of the best closers in the NL and an all-star for the Pirates. It is important to remember players like Hanrahan when discussing what to do with Henry Rodriguez because it demonstrates that simply getting rid of a player isn’t a solution. It is also important to look at the struggles of players like Heath Bell to understand that a closer is not a position a team should spend money on. Relievers in baseball are volatile. It is the nature of the small sample size that follows them for the entire season.
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