Cleveland Guardians

Yesterday, the Cleveland Indians announced their new, much-anticipated team name, which will become effective at the conclusion of the 2021 season. Starting next season, the Cleveland baseball team will be known as the Cleveland Guardians.

While I wholeheartedly agree that a name change is necessary, I confess, I was initially torn about the new name. My initial reaction to the announcement was along the lines of, “Ew… what?” I thought, surely, they could have found something better than that.

But the more I think about it, the more the name grows on me. I cannot think of any other team in any sport, baseball or otherwise, who call themselves the Guardians. Plus, Guardians of the Galaxy is a kickass movie, and I would love to see Cleveland do a Star-Lord theme night (or a Groot theme night!).

I am curious what the new mascot is going to look like. That is just one of many details that the team will have to figure out in the months ahead, for sure. In the meantime, the new logo does look pretty slick.

Cleveland Guardians logo

Cleveland Guardians


2021 All Star Game

Congrats to Pete Alonso of the Mets on his Home Run Derby victory last night! I am a bit crushed that Salvador Perez got knocked out in the first round by Alonso himself, but I am glad that Salvy managed to put on a show of his own.

The 2021 MLB All Star Game takes place tonight at 5:30 pm Mountain Time at Coors Field. You can find the rosters for both teams here.

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Happy 4th!

To all my readers in the States, Happy Independence Day! Stay safe and don’t forget to check on your furry friends during all the chaos.

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USA Olympics baseball roster

Maybe it is a result of the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic and the fact that these games got postponed from their original timeline (or maybe it’s the fact that the Royals have been struggling much of the season), but I find myself especially interested in the Summer Olympics this year. Not that the Olympics haven’t had my attention in the past, but I’ve been paying closer attention than usual. I know that some of my favorite runners have earned trips to Tokyo, that Simone Biles continues to dazzle the world with her gymnastics (how does a person do some of the stuff that she pulls off???), and this 14-year-old diver — while he didn’t make the Olympic team — managed to wow the world with his talent at the trials.

As for baseball, Team USA announced its Olympic baseball roster yesterday. You can find the roster and details about the coaching staff at the USA Baseball site here. Or, for your convenience, you can also find the roster down below.

CATCHER

Tim Federowicz (Dodgers)

Mark Kolozsvary (Reds)

INFIELD

Nick Allen (A’s)

Eddy Alvarez (Marlins)

Triston Casas (Red Sox)

Todd Frazier

Jamie Westbrook (Brewers)

OTUFIELD

Tyler Austin

Eric Filia (Mariners)

Patrick Kivlehan (Padres)

Bubba Starling (Royals)

UTILITY

Jack Lopez (Red Sox)

PITCHERS

Shane Baz (Rays)

Anthony Carter

Brandon Dickson (Cardinals)

Anthony Gose (Indians)

Edwin Jackson

Scott Kazmir (Giants)

Nick Martinez

Scott McGough

David Robertson

Joe Ryan (Rays)

Ryder Ryan (Rangers)

Simeon Woods Richardson (Blue Jays)


Frank Thomas’s Hall of Fame induction speech

Frank Thomas spent all but 3 years of his MLB career with the Chicago White Sox. He was a five-time All-Star, and he won the AL batting title in 1997 with a .347 average. He was a two-time American League MVP (1993 and 1994), won the Silver Slugger on four occasions (1991, 1993, 1994, and 2000), and his jersey number 35 was retired by the White Sox.

Frank Thomas was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014.


R.I.P. Jim “Mudcat” Grant

James Timothy “Mudcat” Grant was born on August 13, 1935 in Lacoochee, Florida. He was one of seven children of James Sr. and Viola Grant.

Grant was signed as an amateur free agent by the Cleveland Indians prior to the 1954 season. After four seasons in the minor leagues, from 1954 to 1957, he made his MLB debut on April 17, 1958, at the age of 22, winning a complete game against the Kansas City Athletics. In June 1964, he was traded to the Minnesota Twins, then in 1965, he went 21–7 for the Twins, helping to lead the team to the 1965 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Unfortunately, the Twins lost the series in seven games.

During the 1965 season, Grant became the first black pitcher in the American League to win 20 games, leading the American League in victories with a 21-7 record, also posting a 3.30 ERA in 270 1/3 innings, and starting 39 games. He started three World Series games, winning two. In Game 6 at Metropolitan Stadium, he gave up only one run in a complete game, and even hit a three-run homer en route to a 5-1 victory.

Grant pitched for seven teams during his 14-year big league career and was with the Twins for four of those seasons. Over the course of that career, he had a 145–119 record in 571 games, while starting in 293 of them and throwing 89 complete games. His resumé also includes 18 shutouts, 53 saves, with 2,442 innings pitched on a 3.63 ERA.

Grant was named to the All-Star team in 1963 and 1965. He received his catfish-inspired nickname when a minor league teammate thought he was from Mississippi.

Mudcat Grant died on June 12, 2021 at the age of 85.

Rest in peace.

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Infographic: Triple Play Art

This graphic is really, really cool. Created via Tableau by Jacob Olsufka and Rody Zakovich, you can access the original, interactive version of the graphic here or by clicking the image below. Created in July 2017, the images take a unique look at the triple plays that had been turned in Major League Baseball history up to that point, and some pretty cool art results from that analysis.

Triple Play Art


This day in baseball: The Big Unit’s perfect game

On May 18, 2004, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson threw a perfect game, beating the Atlanta Braves 2-0 at Turner Field in Atlanta before a crowd of 23,381. Johnson, at 40 years old, was the oldest pitcher in MLB history to throw a perfect game, surpassing Cy Young who was 37 when he threw his perfect game in 1904. The game was also Johnson’s second career no-hitter, the first taking place on June 2, 1990 against the Detroit Tigers when Johnson was pitching for the Seattle Mariners.

Randy_Johnson 2008 - Wikipedia

Randy Johnson in 2008 (Wikipedia)


History of Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Oriole Park At Camden Yards, 2013 (Wikipedia)

Oriole Park at Camden Yards, frequently referred to as just Camden Yards or Oriole Park, opened as the official home of the Baltimore Orioles on April 6, 1992. The stadium had been built to replace Memorial Stadium, a multipurpose stadium that had served as home not only to the Orioles, but throughout its life also hosted the minor league Bowie Baysox (1993), the Baltimore Colts of the National Football League (from the late-1940s to the early-1980s), the Baltimore Stallions of the Canadian Football League (1994-95), the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL (1996-97), and also served as the venue for various high school and college athletic events.

Oriole Park was built as a baseball-only facility in downtown Baltimore. When the city of Baltimore and the Maryland government refused to commit money to replace Memorial Stadium, the Baltimore Colts responded by moving to Indianapolis in 1984. Realizing that the city could also potentially lose the Orioles, city and state officials immediately began planning a new park in order to keep them in town.

Initially, the architectural firm Helmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK) Sport Venue Event (now known as Populous) proposed a design similar to that of the new Comiskey Park. The Orioles turned down the proposal, however, in favor of a more retro-style stadium, wishing instead to follow in the footsteps of the great old ballparks like Fenway, Wrigley, and Ebbets. The new stadium would feature steel, rather than concrete trusses, an arched brick facade, a sun roof over the upper deck, an asymmetrical playing field, and natural grass turf. Construction of the new stadium began in 1989 and lasted 33 months, costing approximately $110 million.

The field itself is set sixteen feet below street level and is comprised of a sophisticated irrigation and drainage system below the grass turf. The purpose of this design is to reduce the frequency of rainouts by shortening the length of rain delays. The field’s system makes it possible to get the field ready for play within half-an-hour after the end of a heavy rain. An impressive feat of engineering, the drainage system can remove as much as 75,000 gallons of rainwater from the field in an hour.

The B&O warehouse that serves as a backdrop beyond the right field wall was a point of contention in the stadium’s design plan. Many people wanted the warehouse demolished, while others fought to leave it in place. Still others liked the idea of using the warehouse as the right-field wall instead of the backdrop. Perhaps it is fitting that the warehouse remains, given the name ultimately bestowed upon the new stadium, though it didn’t end up being the stadium’s right field wall — Eutaw Street separates the stadium from the warehouse, instead. The floors of the warehouse contain offices, service spaces, and a private club. The warehouse has never been hit by a legal home run during regulation play. However, several players have reportedly struck the wall during batting practice, and it was hit by Ken Griffey, Jr. during the Home Run Derby of the 1993 MLB All-Star Game.

Former Orioles owner Eli Jacobs favored naming the new venue Oriole Park. Meanwhile, Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer preferred to name the stadium Camden Yards, after the former rail terminal at the site operated by the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) Railroad. After considerable debate, a compromise was reached and it was decided that both names were to be used: Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Following the 2000 season, the ballpark’s infield and outfield were completely rebuilt, and the drainage system was modernized to better protect both the pipes and the playing surface. Following the 2005 season, all new irrigation heads were installed, and in 2007, the warning track around the field was replaced. In 2008, the sod was replaced with a sand-based blend of Kentucky bluegrass to give the field a more vibrant green color. After the 2008 season, a new HD video display and scoreboard were installed below the right field bleachers. Before the start of the 2011 season, the seats in the lower seating bowl were replaced and several skyboxes were eliminated and refurbished to make room for more party suites and casual luxury boxes. The renovation reduced the park’s capacity from 48,876 to 45,971.

Notable events at Camden Yards over the years include the aforementioned hosting of the 1993 All-Star Game. On June 18, 1994, one of the stadium’s multiple-story escalators, overcrowded with fans heading to their upper-deck seats, jerked backward, throwing passengers to the bottom landing. The accident resulted in 43 people injured. On September 6, 1995, Camden Yards witnessed Cal Ripken, Jr.’s record-setting 2,131st consecutive game, and one year later, Eddie Murray blasted the 500th home run of his career at the ballpark.

In 2012, the park celebrated the twenty-year anniversary of its opening, launching the website CamdenYards20.com as part of that celebration. The site featured videos of Opening Day in 1992, a written history of the park and its improvements over the years, and photo galleries of Camden Yards, featuring everything from ballpark construction to celebrity visitors.

The success of Camden Yards sparked a trend in the construction of more traditional, fan-friendly ballparks in downtown locations across the U.S.  The park also ended a quarter-century trend of multipurpose stadiums in which baseball and football teams shared the same venue. Although intended to cut costs, the fundamentally different sizes and shapes of baseball and football fields ultimately made this concept inadequate for either sport. By the 2012 season, all but two MLB teams (the Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics) played in baseball-only parks.


Happy Star Wars Day!

While it doesn’t look like there’s going to be the typical “Star Wars Night” promotions going at at ballparks tonight, it appears that ESPN has found another way to exploit the fan holiday. I won’t be watching the broadcast (I don’t have ESPN), but that won’t stop me from indulging in a Star Wars movie or two in honor of the day.

May the Force be with you all!

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