The man responsible (or rather, tragically irresponsible) for the death of Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and his friends has been indicted on three counts of murder and three other felony charges, according to the Associated Press.
I know it’s probably wrong to be celebrating over this, and under the United States justice system, I should reserve my assumption of guilt until Gallo is actually found guilty and heading to prison. But…nah. Dude is getting what he deserves, and the DUI he was already stupid enough to earn for himself is NOT going to help him in this trial.
I hope this news, and all the steps of the process Gallo is about to face, brings comfort to the Adenhart family and the families of the other victims. And I hope justice is served – in no way does someone who drives drunk and kills three people deserve anything less than a long, long stay in prison. People who make that massive error in judgment make the guy who tried to steal my purse last night look like a living saint.
[Ed. note: Trying something new here, getting inside a slow-pitch co-ed softball team, just for the heck of it. Because every sports teams - not just the professional ones - need a beat writer?]
Right-handed pitcher Brad Haas had a career night tonight. Granted, his career has spanned three games, and he’s in a co-ed softball league, but don’t tell that to the six batters he embarrassed with strikeouts tonight. They may as well have been facing Zack Greinke.
Haas, in just his third-ever pitching appearance, rolled through his opponents in Thursday night’s complete game win. It’s the first win of his career, and an increase in control and arc on his pitches could lead to more.
Haas said his first two attempts at pitching were marred by flat pitches, which are easier for hitters to watch and to hone in on. A high-arcing pitch moves around more, and its movement can fool an unsuspecting batters. But an adjustment came without much fuss for the tall righty from Nebraska. “Last week a couple of people told me I needed to put more arc on the pitches,” he said, “So I did.”
Co-ed softball pitchers are somewhat limited in their possible arsenal, as legal pitches can only be between 6 and 12 feet high at their highest point. So pinpoint control is key, Haas said. “The pitches I throw pretty much all the same pitch. It’s just a matter of location and arc.”
“Nobody wants to be ‘that guy’ and strike out in a co-ed softball game,” Haas said. But six of his opponents became “that guy” Thursday, and his teammates were thrilled. Haas said he had one strikeout in the 2nd inning and two in the 3rd, and after that his teammates “started going crazy.”
It’s no wonder the team took notice of all the swings and misses Haas was inducing: he only had three career Ks before Thursday.
Haas’s on-field success was followed by a dramatic event outside his home later in the evening. Through his open front door, he heard a robbery in progress, and bolted outside with his bat, which was right at hand because of the night’s softball game. The would-be robber saw the bat and fled empty-handed, and the drivers of the getaway car were rewarded for their part in the crime with a broken car window.
Star pitcher by day, crime fighter by night? Sounds like a winning combination.
(P.S. Everything above is true, even the crime-thwarting part. In the interest of full disclosure, the victim of the attempted robbery was…me. I’m fine, though, thanks to Brad, who – again with the full disclosure – is a great and protective big brother!)
American Idol may have ended last week, but Baseball Prospectus Idol is just getting rolling. If you haven’t heard about it, Baseball Prospectus is using an American Idol-esque process to find the next great baseball analyst. The original announcement and explanation is here, and the current entries are here.
The contest was announced right at the start of my busiest time of the school year, so I didn’t get to spend much time on my entry (which is below). That said, even my very best work isn’t as good as some of the finalists, so I may not have made the cut anyway. Here’s what I submitted:
Q: What do the 2009 Yankees, Mets and Royals have in common?
A: They all lost in their home openers in new (or mostly new) parks.
You probably knew that answer; it was hard to escape the press from both New York park openers, especially the New Yankee Stadium.
Yankees and Mets fans shouldn’t be glum about their teams’ home openers being spoiled, because the home team losing its inaugural game is actually kind of trendy in Major League Baseball. In parks that have opened since 2000, seven home teams have lost their parks’ first games (and five have won).
The Royals are a little bit different case from the New York teams, because Kauffman Stadium certainly isn’t new. But the team did unveil $250 million worth of renovations for the April 10 home opener, and the Royals lost to the Yankees.
When Kauffman (then Royals Stadium) was new in 1973, the Royals won their opener there, beating the Rangers 12-1. That was the largest margin of victory for any team in its current park’s first-ever game.
The largest margin of defeat came in 1991, when the Tigers beat the White Sox 16-0 at what was then Comiskey Park. That game was of just two shutouts in a current park opener. The other was the Orioles’ 2-0 win at Camden Yards in 1992.
The highest total score of an inaugural game came, unsurprisingly, at Coors Field. The Rockies and Mets combined for 20 runs in April of 1995, but the home team emerged victorious.
Overall, MLB teams were 12-18 in Game Numero Uno in their current homes. One team is responsible for four of those losses: Cincinnati beat the Cubs, Phillies, Dodgers and Pirates, and so spoiled more stadium openers than any other team in baseball. Incidentally, the Reds did not win their own stadium opener, but lost 10-1 to the Pirates when the Great American Ball Park opened in 2003.
The Mariners have been the biggest losers in ballpark openers. They lost their own opener at Safeco Field in 1999, along with losing to the Indians and Tigers in those teams’ stadium openers.
Does it really matter what the outcome of Game One in a new house is? Probably not. The Cardinals probably did not win the World Series in 2006 because they won their first game at Busch Stadium III. Likewise, the Yankees won’t lose the division because they lost in their very expensive new playground last Thursday. The Royals will be the Royals, whether winning in Kauffman’s true first game back in the ‘70s, or having Sidney Ponson pitch in the opener of the face-lift version of The K.
The first game in a new stadium eventually becomes little more than a footnote in team history, but it’s fun to look back (with ample help from Baseball-Reference and Ballparks.com) to see what happened on the field when fans first got to lay eyes on their team’s new digs.
Personally, I have never been in attendance when my Royals have lost a home opener, and I’m probably very lucky. After scrambling for tickets, planning a trip, and looking forward to sweet, sweet baseball after a winter of waiting in boredom, it must be a massive letdown to see your home team lose in person. It would be especially aggravating, I would think, if this happened in a brand new park. Fans of 18 different MLB teams know exactly how aggravating that feels, and both New York teams are the newest in the club.
It’s Memorial Day, and I hope you get to enjoy some time off, maybe a barbecue or a great sale on lawnmowers. I hope you have also taken a moment to remember why it is that it’s a day off…
It’s also Monday, which in a few months will mean Monday Night football. I was pretty happy when Tony Kornheiser announced that he would no longer bring his nonsense into the MNF booth. His style has never really spoken to me – mostly, I want to shut him up so I can watch the game – and last year was particularly bad, to the point that I was worried for his health. He often seemed frazzled and only half-aware of what was going on around him, and that can’t translate into a good broadcast.
Well, as you know, he has been replaced with former Buccaneers coach John Gruden, which Will Leitch describes as “the latest triumph for a wave of what might be called sports technocrats—detail-crazy, film-study-obsessed analysts who are, hearteningly, taking over the airwaves.”
I like this. It’s not that I don’t care who the players are on the field and what charities they give to, or what kind of shenanigans they’ve pulled on their teammates. I would just rather hear about the game on the field during the game, because silly locker room stories can wait until any old time. When the game is on, the game is on, and I want to follow THAT and learn about why things are happening on the field, not whether the quarterback is enough of a gamer to grit his way through the season with his team on his back, or whatever.
A parting thought from Leitch, but really you could just go read the whole column.
It turns out that sports fans care a lot less about tales of Warren Sapp’s old locker-room pranks than they do about whether Chien-Ming Wang will fix his sinker in time to save their fantasy team. Think about it this way: When the Internet let fans create their own content, they didn’t fill their blogs with the substanceless pronouncements (“Brett Favre just knows how to win games”) and profile fluff (“Today, one lucky children’s leukemia ward got a Michael Strahan–size surprise”) that you can see on TV. They started discussing teams and games in detail, writing thousands of words about minor roster moves and strategic decisions. Networks have finally noticed.
When pro football hopefuls gather at the annual NFL combine, one of the things they all do is take the infamous Wonderlic* test (yes, the asterisk is part of the company’s name. Annoying, isn’t it?) to measure their general intelligence and to give bloggers something to mock when the results come out.
In seemingly unrelated news, according to Yahoo!’s Josh Peter, an astounding 73 players who were on an NFL roster in 2008 have been arrested on charges of driving under the influence. My solution: the Wonderlic* needs to have some questions on that.
I have some suggestions, based on this set of practice questions from the Wonderlic* website.
1. On a team outing to a bar, there are three times as many wide receivers as there are linemen. During a team drinking game, the wide receivers average 18 drinks each, and the team as a whole averages 17 drinks per person. How many drinks did the lineman down, on average? And how many cabs do they need to call?
2. Randolph has 8 plain shot glasses, 6 shot glasses with lights in the bottom, and 4 novelty shot glasses that he nabbed at a bachelor party. How many different drinks can he have before he has to wash all his shot glasses, and where should he hide his keys so he doesn’t drive anywhere tonight?
3. John is a mechanic who parties with NFL players. He makes $8.50 an hour, plus $3 extra for every oil change he performs. Last week he worked 36 hours and performed 17 oil changes. How much money did he make? Is it enough for cab fare after a night at the bars?
See? That way, if some young draft prospect scores a 6 on the Wonderlic*, teams who had been interested in him will be able to prepare for his inevitable DUI shenanigans because they KNOW the guy is dumb enough to get into that situation.
…and by “thoughts” I mostly mean “pictures,” but you get my meaning. All photos are mine, feel free to use them but please give me proper credit if you do. Click any photo for a larger version.
As mentioned in my delirious post from 2:30ish this morning, I had not been to Kauffman Stadium yet this year. This is the first year that the Royals’ beautiful stadium has had anything going on in the outfield gates, so I was anxious to check out the view from there. So anxious, in fact, that I was the 4th person to get in the left field gates, and probably could have been the first if I hadn’t taken the time to scope out the stadium’s shiny new exterior.
The outfield stuff looks pretty awesome, but I was by myself and on a tiny budget so I’ll have to wait until next time (which I think will be the day the team gives away this AMAZING t-shirt) to fully check out The Outfield Experience. Instead, I wandered over to the Royals dugout to watch some batting practice. I had the area all to myself for a little over an hour, and it was very peaceful.
You know that weird row of seats that’s above the top step of the aisle, and is basically IN the concourse? That was my original seat. When I sat down, I realized I could not see CrownVision, which is a shame because a) It’s a beautiful piece of high-def awesomosity, and b) my cousin Chris is in charge of everything that goes on it. I like to be able to see Chris’s handiwork, so I went to guest services where a super-helpful guy gave me a ticket in the same section but WAY lower.
It was only one game, but I think I LOVE the “New K.” Previously, there were no seats in the outfield, so fans were chanting and yelling into empty space. Now, the fans out in the outfield seats and SRO areas bring a much more intimate atmosphere and MUCH more potential for loudness. Instead of the calls of “Let’s go Ro-yals!” getting lost in Interstate traffic behind the stadium, it is repeated and reverberated by the raucous fans by the fountains.
Then the game happened, which you can read about here or here or here or here*. I got home like 15 hours ago and I am still a little high on the amazing 9th inning rally! After the game but long before I came down to earth, I made my traditional visit to the control room upstairs.
*the last link features an ADORABLE photo. I encourage you to check it out!
You can see the rest of my (very few – sorry!) photos on Flickr here. Now I just hope the Royals can keep the magic coming in tonight’s game!
Those little blurry things in jerseys and caps there on the field are the Kansas City Royals celebrating a dramatic, stunning, unexpected and wholly high-inducing comeback victory over the Cleveland Indians. The players are blurry because I couldn’t hold my hand still. I couldn’t hold my hand still because it is attached to my arm, which is attached to the rest of me, which was jumping all over in a fit of uncontrollable joy/disbelief/more joy.
I went to the game by myself on an absurd little whim, which is unusual for me because I am normally calculated and boring, and don’t give in to fits of whimsy. But, today, I was bored and wanted to see Kauffman Stadium, which underwent $250 million worth of renovations over the winter that I hadn’t had the chance to see.
For a while, I was a little worried. The Royals’ starter, Brian Bannister, gave up a couple of deeeeeep fly balls to center field to start the game. I was afraid that Cleveland players would keep hitting those, and some of them would leave the yard. Bannister’s success so far this season has come, in large part, from his ability to induce grounders and therefore avoid giving up homers. But those flyouts made me think we were in store for a home run fest.
Thankfully, it was the Royals who put on a homerfest, when Mike Jacobs and Mark Teahen each homered on back-to-back pitches from Kerry Wood. Then catcher Miguel Olivo walked, which is just as unlikely as back-to-back home runs, and David DeJesus tripled him in. I looooove triples and I looooooove DeJesus, so that was awesome. Then Willie Bloomquist hit a sacrifice fly to right field that drove DeJesus in. My scorecard from that inning is a total mess, because I was too jubilant to fill it out neatly.
So, my team won, the weather was great, I got to meet one of my favorite radio hosts, got to see my aunt, unlce and cousin, and it was free t-shirt day. AND, I didn’t fall asleep on the drive home. VICTORY!!
Via MLB Trade Rumors, I just read that a 26-year-old pitcher named Ryan Wagner is retiring from baseball. I don’t know much about Wagner, so I was prepared to just read over the item and move on.
But then I got to the reason he’s hanging it up – a labrum injury got the best of him, and he couldn’t recover.
I always root for athletes to come back from a torn labrum, because my own shoulder is in tatters* and I want to believe it’s possible to get back to sports and heavy lifting and holding babies and all the things I used to do, but can’t anymore because of the pain and weakness. Labrum success stories like former Nebraska volleyball superstar Christina Houghtelling or New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees or even Royals every-position player Mark Teahen give me hope.
*from an old broomball injury. No joke.
But a young pitcher who can’t overcome the injury makes me frown. I’m about to head out to try some Frisbee with my brother, and if I’m extremely lucky, I won’t need painkillers afterward.
Independent league pitcher Josh Faiola lives with a host family, which is normal for the not-so-rich-and-famous ballplayers of America. Totally normal. Except, Faiola lives in an assisted living facility, and he’s a half-century younger than his “roommates.”
That’s absolutely adorable.
Part of me wants to settle down in a single-A baseball town someday so that I can host a player every season. (That is SO not an innuendo, by the way. Get your mind out of the gutter!) Last summer, I met a whole bunch of people from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who have opened their home to the players for the Kernels, the Single-A affiliate of the Angels. The Angels’ Triple-A team was playing in Omaha (where I live and work), and these families came to root on the players they used to host who had now moved all the way up to AAA.
It was awesome to see those families, especially the little kids, cheer on “their” players as they made their way toward the Majors. Being a host family ensured that those kids – as well as their parents – hold baseball in their hearts in a special way forever.
The Pittsburg Penguins and Washington Capitals played the ultra-hyped Game 7 of their conference semifinals tonight. A lot of sports bloggers and members of the mainstream media asked before the game, “If this game won’t get you excited about hockey, what will?”
Two of the game’s best players – Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby – were going up against each other in the finale of what had already been a wild series decided in overtimes and by small margins. I hurried through dinner a little bit so I could catch most of the action…
…but Pittsburgh already had a 2-0 lead. The first period wasn’t even over yet. Young goalie Simeon Varlamov held off the Pens for the rest of the period, but the game was about to go from unpleasant to downright awful. Pittsburgh scored two more quick goals at the start of period two, and Varlamov was pulled in favor of veteran goalie Jose Theodore. Didn’t matter – Pittsburgh has added two more goals. Washington has scored two, and there are still five or so minutes to go in the game, but this game may well have been over before fans at the Verizon Center even had time to finish their first beers.
Unless something wild happens RIGHT NOW, the game did not come close to living up to the (relative) hype it garnered. I hope that non-hockey fans who turned in just to see what all the buzz was about didn’t get turned off to NHL action.
UPDATE: No wild finish – it’s over, 6-2 Penguins.