ChildhoodBaseballPassion

On Sunday, October 14, 1984, my 7-year-old self sat Indian style on the floor in the living room of our modest, happy, fun, family home with my pillow and blanket just feet from the television. I wasn’t riveted to the TV for the newest cartoon though. Care Bears, My Little Pony and Barbie would never even be in competition to hold my attention.  I didn’t realize it at the time but this would mark the beginning of my passion for the game of baseball.

It was early afternoon and the Detroit Tigers were in game 5 of the Major League Baseball World Series versus the San Diego Padres. I don’t remember everything about the game but I do recall much of the major plays from the Tiger’s first World Series victory since the unforgettable 1968 team. I vividly remember those last moments, specifically the last couple of innings.

I mean who can possibly forget Kirk Gibson up to bat against Goose Gossage in the bottom of the 8th inning with 1 out, the Tigers leading 5 to 4? Tiger’s manager, Sparky Anderson, mouthing from the dugout, “he don’t want to walk you.” Gibby was already 2 for 3 with a homer, a walk and a single in the dramatic game so Goose convincingly argued with manager, Dick Williams, to not intentionally walk him.  Gossage believed he had Gibson figured out this time, he could beat him like he had since his rookie year with the Tigers. Gibson’s very first fastball in the major leagues came to him courtesy of Goose and Gibby would be retired many times from the batter’s box by him after that initial face off. This time though, the first pitch was a ball and the 2nd pitch would end up in the right field seats in the upper deck.

Now I didn’t know the history between these two phenomenal baseball players when I was a young girl watching this game so intently but this moment sparked a passion within me. Since this moment, I would read, study, play Little League and high school softball, attend Tiger games, play neighborhood home run derby, watch any MLB games on TV, analyze this game with the best of them, participate in fantasy baseball leagues, sketch and paint baseball art-all amazing memories for which I am eternally grateful.

That being shared, what I hold most dear is the connection baseball has given to me with those I love. Even if a family or friendship was difficult, we could always relate to baseball together. And on the other side of that it somehow strengthen the relationships I have presently with family and friends. This passion unites people and tends to bond you in ways I cannot describe.

Yes, I love my Detroit Tigers. However my love affair with baseball began in my early childhood sparked and cultivated by family. Forever grateful.

Let’s Talk About Stats, Baby

Let’s talk about stats, baby,

Let’s talk about you and me.

Let’s talk about all the good things,

And the bad things that may be.

Let’s talk about…stats.

Yeah that’s right, I threw a little Salt-N-Pepa (with a twist) into this post you’re about to digest.  Baseball is a game of flavorful and perhaps less tasteful numbers. One ridiculous statistic I recently read across my laptop screen was this:

“He’s the first National League player to account for as many as 30 steals and 25 double plays in one season.”

NPR’s Frank Deford wisely responded to this saying, “steals and double plays together? This is like saying, “He’s the first archaeologist to find 23 dinosaur bones and 12 Spanish doubloons on the same hunt.”

I don’t know what led me to Google “ridiculous baseball stats” and “stupid baseball stats” but it proved to be educational, entertaining and enlightening. I think perhaps as fans we just might be more obsessed with the numbers game in baseball than most Major League Baseball managers and players. The reasons behind a team’s skipper making a tough decision in a game often does come down to the probability that his player will produce. Sometimes it’s merely gut instinct or luck. Or both.

'He hits better against right handed pitching, so pitch left-handed, to him.'

Let’s check out a few of the common baseball statistics: BA (batting average), BB (walks), HBP (hit by pitch), OBP (on base percentage) & ROE (reached on error).

BATTING AVERAGE:

Baseball is a game in which as a batter you are considered successful when you fail seven out of ten times.  How? Well, it’s simple math, sort of. My Google search I mentioned earlier was quite enlightening for me personally. I didn’t realize how much of a numbers nerd I truly was but I’m happy to announce that I only wear my taped spectacles when I’m studying baseball statistics. Dropping mathematics as soon as I could credit-wise in high school was a wise choice for me (this is not on my resume).

Anyways, for simplicity’s sake let’s take a batter having ten AB (at bats) and he gets three hits in those ten at bats. In America’s favorite pastime, this is quite successful and his average is .300 (3 divided by 10). ‘Mighty Miggy’, Detroit Tiger’s Miguel Cabrera had 205 H (hits) out of 622 AB which gives him a .330 BA for the 2013 season. Amazing.

Statistically, the beginning month or two of the MLB season are fairly unreliable in determining a hitter’s performance but they of course average out considerably in the end. Maintaining a .400 batting average is virtually unattainable nowadays and hasn’t been accomplished during a single season since Ted Williams did so in 1941. Notable others in that .400 club are Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby &  Shoeless Joe Jackson. Ed Delahanty, Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby all hit .400 or better three times in their careers.

BB, HBP AND ROE:

What isn’t included in a BA that not necessarily should be but that just doesn’t totally reflect a batter’s total potential or odds of getting on base are: BB (walks), HBP (hit by pitch) & ROE (reached on error).

It takes a good eye and a patient at bat and/or a pitcher not having too good of an outing on the mound for a batter to receive a walk to first base. You’d think a hitter would get some credit for that awarded base, right? And let’s take a similar situation of being hit by a pitch (ouch).  Doesn’t the struck batter get any compensation for the bruise he’ll be sporting awhile? Well, yes, on both accounts, the player does receive credit…kind of like, well, a store credit, if you will. They will have something to show for it but it’s tucked away in the aforementioned statistics like OBP and ROE.

I’m about to talk nerdy to you so put these glasses on because they’ll help you follow these next equations:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Got your glasses on? Alright, here we go. OBP does NOT include errors such as fielding errors, fielder’s choice, dropped/caught third strike, fielder or catcher’s obstruction. In the last five years there has been arguments, whether weak or strong, that the on base percentage should include errors in it’s calculations. Here is the OBP formula:

OBP= H + BB + HBP divided by AB + BB + HBP + SF (For those of you unfamiliar: H=hit; SF=sacrifice fly).

So this begs the question: who decides an error or a base hit? Answer: The official MLB scorekeeper on duty during each game. From what I understand to be true, Major League Baseball official scorekeepers have the power to decide for example if a player has a hit or if a fielder has an error. Judgment calls are made all the time. Major League Baseball actually recruits their own official scorers.

“It’s always safer to call it a hit (than an error). The batting team is happy and the fielding team can be ambivalent…but you have to make the proper call.” -Stew Thornley, official scorer

Here’s another head-scratcher for you:

BABIP= H-HR divided by AB-K-HR-SF (For those of you unfamiliar, HR=home runs; K=strike outs)

Now, what the heck is this? Good question. The not-so-simple answer is batting average on balls in play. To explain further, it is how many of a batter’s balls in play go for hits or how many balls in play against a pitcher go for hits, excluding home runs. And just FYI, a normal BABIP is around .300.

Do MLB coaches and staff actually implement these formulas through their 162 game seasons? Some will admit to “playing the odds” or “consulting the numbers” and others won’t say.

Will a manager late in a game, if his team is behind by a run, put in a hitter with the best batting average (BA) or does he opt to put in another guy on the bench with a higher on base percentage (OBP) for their best chance at a victory?

Well, whether you believe statistics in baseball to be out of control or not, maybe you’ll find this to be true:

“Baseball isn’t statistics – baseball is (Joe) DiMaggio rounding second.” – Jimmy Breslin

Sports statistics are not in and of themselves misleading but they just might be an acquired taste. The inferences one may choose to draw from them, or be quietly led to draw from them, can be dangerously out of touch with reality. Factual as they may be, the only way to really digest a stat is with a grain of salt.

And remember baseball is a team sport so each individual player’s statistics are not going to be solely based upon his performance no matter how you add, subtract, multiply and divide. 

Alright, I’m checkin out for the night, time to take off my nerdy glasses.

Love and Laces,

Belle of Baseball

 

 

No Crying Nor Lace In Baseball…Only Leather For My Style Of Baseball Glove

I prefer a unique style of my own just as much as the next gal (or guy) but some things aren’t meant to hang in my closet! And to be quite honest, I’m sporting sweats and a t-shirt presently as I type-cool and comfortable, that’s my style.

I was Googling “unique baseball gloves” today online and came across some memorable mitts. I found I am partial to anything with a vintage flair to it as far as to acquire and not actually use it. My preference on gloves to actually use? I’m not completely sure yet, but I’ll keep you posted. While I am female, my style isn’t to wear anything too girly so no pink mitts unless it’s a special one to support breast cancer awareness 🙂 And no lace, I’m not a fan of lace.

vintage-handball-gloves

How amazing are these vintage 1926 leather handball gloves by Ken-Wel? These I would proudly place in my coffee & consignment shop I am planning to open in Marshall, MI as decor only-NOT FOR SALE! Beautiful condition and I love the look. An immaculate, historic home built in 1898 is my hopeful location for the store but God’s going to have to work a miracle for that to happen-keep the faith! These gorgeous gloves would look fantastic sitting right beyond the counter I have planned in front of a wooden maple fireplace, on the mantel.

I believe my baseball (ok, softball) glove of choice to use in a game would have a similar look to these. (No lace, only leather). I’ll keep searching and I’ll post my top 3 choices just before the 2015 MLB All-Star Game. Remind me, hold me to this, I could forget, I am approaching 40-years-young 😉 If you would like to send me your favorite style of baseball gloves, please do! I will give you a shout out mention on Twitter and here on the unveiling of my 3 favorites if I choose yours.

It’s great to be back with all of you! I am truly touched by all of the messages I received while away from this website. Thank you for your support and love and following me.

Go Tigers! (yeah I’m Belle of Baseball…but ya’ll know my passion is for Detroit)

Bring A Glove…And A Life Jacket To Practice

Unless the coach calls you…please show up for practice. Bring a boat and/or life jacket.

🙂

 

baseballpracticeinfloodfunny

Players With Tommy Johns Surgery Is Becoming A Club Within A Club For MLB Teams

Tiger’s Putkonen Has Scheduled Appointment With Tommy Johns Doc

Luke Putkonen

Several MLB teams have had pitchers that underwent Tommy Johns surgery just this year. The Detroit Tigers potentially have another candidate to add to this list with relief pitcher, Luke Putkonen.  Though he merely has just an appointment next week, the fact that he is seeing Dr. James Andrews, the premiere Tommy Johns surgeon is a bit telling.

It is certainly no secret that one of Detroit’s weak areas on the team has been the bullpen during this 2014 season thus far. The Tiger’s young manager, Brad Ausmus, has been well aware of the areas the team needs improvement and has been making decisions to improve the questionable bullpen with Dave Dombrowski, CEO, general manager and president of the Tigers organization. One of the moves they decided upon came when they acquired another players who is yet recovering from Tommy Johns, Joel Hanrahan. The Tigers signed him in very early May for a one-year contract, knowing he would be placed on the DL right away and hopefully be ready to pitch in mid-June 2014.

Putkonen, 28, is only four years younger than the newly acquired Hanrahan. The next couple of months Tiger’s staff and fans will be able to witness Joel’s comeback after his surgery. If and when Luke will need the same surgery remains to be decided but perhaps it will be an encouragement to the younger ball player if Hanrahan bounces back successfully for the Tigers bullpen needs this season.

 

 

 

17  MLB pitchers  have underwent Tommy Johns surgery this season:

Jose Fernandez, A.J. Griffin, Ivan Nova, Josh Johnson, Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Cory Gearrin, Patrick Corbin, David Hernandez, Matt Moore, Jarrod Parker, Bobby Parnell, Cory Luebke, Brian Moran, Luke Hochevar, Bruce Rondon, Jamison Taillon.

Alarming? Bud Selig this month has even called Tommy Johns surgery for this list above for young pitchers an ‘epidemic.’

“We have committees with doctors and athletic trainers working on this now,” Selig said. “We’ll have reports out. It’s a problem. There’s no question about it.

“The fact that it’s happening with so much regularity, over and over, is deeply troubling. That’s why I said to all of our guys, ‘Hey, we’ve got to find out.’

“It bothers me a lot. I’m very worried. Let’s see if we can find out some answers.”

And hopefully, the Detroit Tigers will have solid, dependable answers when it comes to the solution for their bullpen trouble. Stay tuned for news on Luke Putkonen as he visits the doc next Wednesday. This next month for the Tiger’s season will be a revealing one I believe in regards to the stability of the bullpen.

 

 

 

Riding the Pine and Don’t Mind

RIding the Pine and Don't Mind

Bench your behind in style in this unique chair for the baseball fanatic. The creator combined bats and a couple of bases in the seat area for comfort.
What do you think? Would you put this at your home field in your man cave, sports-themed room or rec room?
I personally think it’s clever, stylish and well it’s BASEBALL so what’s not to like? However, I think this unique chair isn’t built for comfort but more for conversation 🙂

Belle Was Placed On The DL

Belle Was Placed On The DL

That “DL” in the title of this post stands for the disabled list, for those of you following this sporty and witty baseball blog of mine. I have never been so sleepy in all my thirty-six…nope, I mean my thirty-seven years on this earth! I did not bring myself into the doctors not because I don’t have insurance or because I don’t have the time, but actually due to I strongly prefer not to go to the doctor when I’m sick. I always tell myself (and others that are irritated around me) that “it’ll pass and I will be fine.” Sooo, I was placed on the disabled list due to a fever, swollen glands and constant tiredness for more than a week. I am back and kicking around on the world wide web now, headache not so bad tonight!

I often Google vintage baseball articles or images and tonight as I was Googling (pretty sure that’s a verb?) I came across this humorous saying. Can you relate to it? I mean shoot, I have yelled at my Phillips television as I’m watching the Detroit Tiger’s baseball game plenty of times. Everyone remember the infamous Jim Joyce (umpire) and Armando Galarraga blown first base call to ruin his perfect game, right? In fact, if you begin typing in Armando’s name or Jim Joyce’s name, Google connects them automatically-those two men will forever be connected from that. Let’s recall though that Galarraga was amazingly gracious and forgiving of Joyce. And Joyce even shed some tears in later interviews, understanding he cost that young man a perfect game in the record books. Too bad he didn’t have the instant replay that this 2014 MLB season has, eh?

Anyways, baseball fans, it has just struck midnight here in Michigan and I am still yet trying to recover from this illness (whatever it was) and I should get to bed.
Remember, please look for the upcoming post in which I discuss one of the MLB’s best pitchers in the game of baseball today. I’ll be discussing basically his pitching mechanics and reveal one of the most important things he has going for him in which I believe make him an outstanding pitching and one that batters do not wish to compete against.
Time to turn the stadium lights off and go to bed!
Good night!