February 28, 2011

Mustache Talk with Collin Balester

Like most of you, I got some text messages this weekend.

My favorite came from Dr. Aaron Perlut of The American Mustache Institute.

While I'm not going to share our entire exchange, I'll tell you this...what he's allowing The Hall to share with you is priceless.  Suffice it to say, if this is any indication of what's to come this season from our friends at AMI...we're all in for a treat.

Here's the deal...Perlut caught up with Washington Nationals reliever Collin Balester via Skype and spent a good eight minutes talking baseball, mustaches and the hot cougars running around spring ball.

And if you're so inclined (and, frankly, you should be)...you can follow The American Mustache Institute on Twitter at @MustacheTalk and Collin Balester at @BallyStar40.

Enjoy the video.

February 27, 2011

Duke Snider (1926-2011)

According to CBSSports.com...Hall of Famer and Dodger legend Duke Snider passed away Sunday morning following an undisclosed illness.

The outfielder made his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 and put together a solid career including a .295 batting average, 407 home runs and 1333 RBI. 

Snider was part of the charmed "Boys of Summer" with the Dodgers in the late 1940s and 1950s and helped slug Brooklyn to its only World Series championship in 1955. Snider also won a crown with the Dodgers in Los Angeles in 1959.

An eight-time All-Star, Snider is the Dodgers career leader in home runs (389), RBI (1271) and extra-base hits (814).  "The Silver Fox" was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980 with more than 86% of the vote.

Duke Snider was 84.


John Axford Needs Your Help

Last month, Washington Nationals reliever Collin Balester hit the Twittersphere to let everyone know he had chosen his entrance music.

"Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns 'N Roses.

Now, Milwaukee Brewers closer John Axford wants you to choose his...and he's made it simple enough by posting the link to a poll featuring 15 songs titles over at his Facebook page.

Currently, the theme from "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" by Ennio Morricone is leading "Bulls on Parade" by Rage Against the Machine and "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Metallica.

I'm not sure who is voting...but I know where my vote went.

Metallica.

So what say you, fans...what should the mustachioed Axford enter Miller Park to this summer?  Go vote!


February 26, 2011

Tommy Lasorda Has Lost His Marbles

...or is the funniest, most self-aware and confident person on Twitter.

Now...I've made my fair share of Tommy Lasorda jokes here at The Hall.  Hell, I once garnered national attention (thanks FOXSports.com!) for a post about the randomness of his tweets.

But none of that could have prepared me for the tweet the old man send out (with picture attached, of course) Friday afternoon.

If you don't love Lenny Harris, you don't love Christmas or the Easter bunny!

Yes!  I don't know a Sklar Brother or Batting Stance Guy who could've or would've come up with that one.

Seriously.

The legendary Dodgers skipper just dropped "Lenny Harris" into the same tweet as the birth of Christ as the resurrection of said Son of God and if you're not following Lasorda...you're missing out.

So in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Pinch Hitter...please, please, please follow Tommy Lasorda.


February 24, 2011

Former High School Hurler to Appear on "The View"

Last November, The Hall introduced you to former Glendale, Wisconsin prep star Brian Kaelin.

Thursday...he'll be joining the girls of "The View".

You see Brian, er...Kato, is part of their "Where Are They Now" series.  I'm thinking "O.J.'s houseguest" will prove to be the most entertaining guest they've had all week and, thusly, fulfilling his claim that this is the "year of the cheesehead".

Yeah, seriously, dude has been emailing me, singing the praises of his beloved Green Bay Packers and predicting that the Milwaukee Brewers will win the World Series.

You can keep up to date with all things Kato by visiting his website.  Check out the entertaining interview Kato did with The Hall HERE.


February 23, 2011

Gary Sheffield Officially Retires...Cooperstown Next?

Last week, Gary Sheffield made it official.

With one phone call to the Players Association...the slugger is now, officially, retired.  Almost immediately... thoughts turned to his Hall of Fame chances.

"I am sure it will be mentioned and debated but from my standpoint I know who is in the Hall of Fame," Sheffield told The New York Post. "A lot of them don't belong in the Hall of Fame. If someone wants to debate me, check the stats."

After jumping around on the interwebs and looking at some of the comments made about Sheffield and his retirement...it is amazing to me how polarizing the dude is.

Me?

I love the guy.  Take a look at his resume...what's not to like?

Let’s break it down. 

Most impressive are his power numbers. 509 home runs are more than all but 23 members of the Major League fraternity. All but two (Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro) of the players with more home runs that are Hall eligible are enshrined.

Eight times, "Sheff" topped 30 home runs and in each of those years…he had 100 or more RBI. His 1676 RBI rank him 25th all-time and, unlike with homers, Palmeiro is the only Hall eligible players ahead of him on the list that doesn't have his likeness on a plaque in New York.

It’s also worth pointing out that only Sheffield, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Frank Robinson and Reggie Jackson have at least 500 home runs, at least 2500 hits, 1500 RBI and 200 stolen bases.

When he last swung a bat, Sheffield was near the top of the active hits list with 2689 base knocks.  It’s safe to say that without a couple of injury plagued seasons (and yes, I know we could say that about a lot of guys), we’d be talking about a guy with close to 3000 hits and 550 home runs.

Actually, we wouldn’t be talking at all. Sheff’s induction to the Hall of Fame, with or without those numbers are a no-brainer. As it is…we’re talking longevity and hardware and Sheffield has a resume rife with both.

From his first hit (fittingly a home run) at 19 in 1988 until his last one (a single to left field) last season, Sheffield’s 21-year career was a colorful one filled with lots of stops.  His longest stint with any team being the six seasons he spent with the Florida Marlins.

His last full season in Miami, 1997, was also the only time he played in (and won) a World Series.

Sheffield played in nine All-Star games and is the only player to have represented five different teams, spanning both leagues. Never an MVP, Sheffield finished in the top three on three different occasions and in the top ten in voting three other times. Like with his All-Star appearances, Sheffield garnered MVP votes with each of the teams he played for except Milwaukee and Detroit.

Sheffield is also the only player to have hit 25 or more home runs with six different teams and five times, he took home the Silver Slugger Award.  But unlike most home run hitters, Sheffield had remarkable control at the plate.

He was a free swinger, but he never struck out more than 83 times in a season. By comparison…someone like Sammy Sosa has never struck out less than 83 times in a season.

Good friend of The Hall Jeff Montgomery faced Sheffield seven times in his career and held him in check...striking him out twice and only allowing one hit.

The former Kansas City Royals closer approached Sheffield like most of the free swinging right handed hitters that liked to drive in runs.

“(I’d) let ‘em get themselves out,” Montgomery said.  “They don’t want the guy standing in the on deck circle to drive in the runs so they are likely to swing at a pitch out of the zone. Slider, slider, slider. All off the plate. If I had to throw a fastball it was above the strike zone. He didn’t miss many mistakes!”

One mistake Sheffield did make was hanging out with Barry Bonds. It’s said that during a 2001 workout, a trainer applied some infamous cream to Sheffield’s surgically repaired knee.  While Sheffield claims the cream did nothing to strengthen his knee, he was mentioned in the 2007 Mitchell Report as one of the players who had obtained and used steroids.

And we've seen how the players linked to PEDs have been handled in Cooperstown.

Controversy aside, if you ask me, Sheffield’s a shoe-in.  His numbers are better than most enshrined (regardless of the era) and while many people will laugh at how "feared" hitters are or aren't...dude was.

"Hall of Fame...it's pretty simple," Sheffield's former skipper Jim Leyland told the Detroit Free Press.  "I think there were several years in baseball where it was the general consensus that (Sheffield had) the fastest bat in baseball."

So welcome to the the 2015 ballot, "Sheff"...it's a packed one.  Hopefully, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez can save some votes for you.

What are your thoughts, gang...is Gary Sheffield a Hall of Famer?


February 22, 2011

Twitter Tuesday: The Mexicutioner

I was all prepared to welcome back "Twitter Tuesday" with an obvious attempt to get some traffic by talking about how Major Leaguers are more enamored with talking about the Carmelo Anthony trade than Spring Training.

But then Kansas City Royals closer Joakim Soria had to go and blow that post out the water by tweeting this:

how about if we change my nickname to something positive? in support to mexico to stop all the violence !!!

What?  Really?!?
 
There are plenty of bad nicknames out there (most of them coming from ESPN's Chris Berman), and Joakim..."The Mexicutioner" isn't one of them.  Matter of fact, I'd go out on a limb and call it one of the game's best.
 
I get it...Soria is wanting to be "positive" and stop the violence.  But c'mon, dude...you enter games to "Welcome to the Jungle" and Guns 'N Roses aren't really honor students.
 
Viva el Mexicutioner!


Make. This. Movie.

I'm going to be honest with you...I'm a little Charlie Sheen-ed out.

Then TMZ had to go and do this:

Charlie Sheen says he's ready, willing and TOTALLY DOWN to play Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn in another "Major League" sequel...as long as the powers that be will greenlight a script. 

Apparently he's "doing everything in his power to get a 'Major League 3' movie on the big screen".  That's interesing, because a third installment was made back in 1998.  But, according to Sheen, the Scott Bakula opus "Major League: Back to the Minors" is an "abortion" and shouldn't be counted with the rest of the series.

Here's the problem with the "Two and a Half Men" star coming back and making another "Major League" is that, currently, dude is more Steve Howe than Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn.

And now, the obvious segue...from "The Ma-Sheen" to "The Machine".

It appears Sheen has taken to hanging out with San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson.

According to TMZ (I know, I know), the unlikely duo got together for a screening of Sheen's 1989 classic "Major League".

And apparently...they weren't alone.

Also on hand...the flick's writer and director Davis S. Ward and baseball players Kenny Lofton, Todd Zeile, Lenny Dykstra and Hall of Famer Eddie Murray.


February 21, 2011

Happy Presidents' Day!

"Next to religion, baseball has furnished a greater impact on American life than any other institution." - Herbert Hoover

From throwing out the first pitch of the season to inviting the World Series champs to join him in the Oval Office…nearly every U.S. President has had some connection with baseball.

This Presidents' Day, here are ten (alright, eleven) things you might not have known about the connection between the guy who calls 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home and our national pastime.

2131
When Lou Gehrig’s 56-year-old record for consecutive games played was surpassed by Cal Ripken on September 6, 1995, both President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore were in Baltimore to watch it happen. When Ripken went deep in the fourth inning, Clinton was in the WBAL radio broadcast booth and called the home run over the air.

1892
On June 6, 1892, President Benjamin Harrison was the first president to attend a Major League baseball game. He saw his Washington Senators get topped by the Cincinnati Reds 7-4 in 11 innings.

714
Of the 52,154 fans on hand in Cincinnati to see “Hammerin’ Hank” tie Babe Ruth all-time home run record on April 4, 1974…Vice President Gerald Ford was one of them.  Four nights later, Aaron bested Ruth. Four months later, Ford took over the Oval Office from Richard Nixon.

373
When Grover Cleveland Alexander was born (1887), president Grover Cleveland was in his second year in office. After a 20-year big league career, the eventual Hall of Fame pitcher put up 373 victories. In 1952, Alexander was portrayed on film by, you guessed it, then-future president Ronald Reagan in the movie “The Winning Team”.

335
At a reported 335 pounds, William Howard Taft is not only the heaviest president…but on April 14, 1910, dude started the American tradition of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. The Washington Post headline the next day: "TAFT TOSSES BALL…Crowd Cheers President's Fine Delivery of the Sphere”. Tough crowd.

86
On August 13, 1960, former President Herbert Hoover threw out the first pitch at an old-timers game at Yankee Stadium…he was eighty-six years old.

11
It should come as no surprise that the president that was elected to four consecutive terms is the same president that has thrown out the most Opening Day first pitches with 11. But did you know that Franklin D. Roosevelt also threw out the ceremonial first pitch on October 1, 1932…a game best known for Babe Ruth’s “called shot”?

9
This one is a tough one to nail down officially, but according to a number of online sources, there have been nine left-handed (Ulysses S. Grant, James Garfield, Herbert Hoover, Harry S. Truman, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama) since 1860.  But as I found out, throwing left-handed and writing left-handed are two different things.  That said, Truman was the first to throw out a pitch lefty when he did so in 1945. Five years later, the 33rd President did himself one better, by throwing out two first pitches…one left-handed and the other with his right. Yup…Truman was ambidextrous.  (A big thanks to commentor Rob for making me look into this one again)

8
Of the 20 Presidential Medals of Freedom that have been handed out to athletes, baseball players have received the most. By placing the medal around Stan Musial's neck last week, President Barack Obama made the lifelong St. Louis Cardinal baseball's eighth recipient.  The other seven...Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Joe DiMaggio, Buck O'Neil, Frank Robinson, Jackie Robinson and Ted Williams.  Not too shabby.

5
Even though he’s currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, Jamie Moyer is the only current player to have played during five (Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama) presidential administrations. Also, having been born November 17, 1962…he’s the only one that could tell you where he was the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

.264
Much has been made about George W. Bush being the former owner of the Texas Rangers. Truth is, baseball runs in his blood since both his father and grandfather played college ball at Yale University. The elder President Bush threw left-handed, batted right-handed, played first base and hit .264 during a 1948 season that saw the Bulldogs lose to Southern California (two games to one) in the National Collegiate Athletic Association final.


Bill over at The Flagrant Fan did his annual Presidents' Day post as well.  Check it out...it's worth a read.


February 18, 2011

Garrett Wittels Hit Streak Comes to an End

"It's been an amazing run," Garrett Wittels said following the season opener. "I'm so proud of myself. I'm about to go out in tears right now."

And like that...the streak was over.

There's going to be a lot of speculation as to what exactly led to the Florida International junior's 56-game hitting streak coming to an abrupt end Friday night in the form of a 10-2 loss against Southeastern Louisiana.

And, unfortunately, all the stories are going to bring up the pending rape charges stemming from that December 20 arrest in the Bahamas and speculate as to whether or not that incident has Wittels in a funk. 

That said...it is entirely possible that the Lions' Brandon Efferson and Stefan Lopez just had the pre-season All-American's number.

Any way you slice it...Wittels' pursuit of NCAA history is over.

Dude went 0 for 4 Friday night, leaving him two games shy of matching Robin Ventura's 58-game Division I record set in 1987 and four short of the NCAA all-divisions mark of 60 games by Damian Costantino of Division III Salve Regina from 2001-03.

"Eventually, honestly, I'll break history somehow," Wittels said following the game. "I know I'm second place in this, but I plan on playing baseball for a lot more years. And I'll break history another time."

To check out the interview The Hall of Very Good did with the shortstop a few months ago...click HERE.  And in case you missed the video, it was just a few days ago, that FIU cleared the junior to play.


Bigger Than Bryce Harper? Potentially.

Move over Bryce Harper...America has a new favorite high school baseball player.

Not since the number one pick in the 2010 MLB draft was hitting tape measure home runs for Las Vegas High School has a high school player gotten this much national attention.

I mean, do a Google search for junior pitcher Scotty McCreery and you'll find close to 400,000 entries to choose from.

Look for dude on Facebook or Twitter and you'll find an endless number of fan pages and tweets like "I love Scotty McCreery. He's a cutie" (courtesy of @kaylabeliebs) or "The boy from Garner...his name is Scotty McCreery he's my favorite!" (courtesy of @Tay_Laura_B_Fan).

But, as you might have guessed, it has nothing to do with the 6-1 record and 1.04 ERA that he posted last year for Garner High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

You see, the 17-year-old righty isn't striking them out on the playing field (yet)...he's been too busy mowing down the competition on the latest installment of "American Idol".

You read that right. 

McCreery is, currently, one of the 60 finalists that made it through the always tough "Hollywood Week" and the judges and fans alike are loving him.

“Some of the girls that know Scotty have known he can sing,” Garner junior first baseman Alec Hulmes told FOXSportsSouth.com. “But now it’s just like, girls come up to him left and right.”

So could this kid from North Carolina end up bigger than Bryce Harper?  It's a possibility given the size of the national stage he might be on next week at this time.


Wipe Your Tears...Clay Zavada Has Reported to Camp

When presented with the news that Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Clay Zavada might be hanging it up, The American Mustache Institute responded as succinctly as one would expect.

"This would be a horrific development," was the message left on their Facebook page.

Thankfully, Mustached Americans and fans of the 2009 Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year Award don't have to worry any longer.

Their hero is in the fold.

“It was just a personal matter with my family,” Zavada said to reporters. “It had nothing, really, to do with baseball. I was going through some things and I needed some time. I came in and I talked to (manager Kirk Gibson) and straightened everything out. I’m here now and ready to play. It’s a personal matter that wasn’t related to baseball at all. I had to take some time and get everything cleared up.”

Now...the comments over at azcentral.com suggest that Zavada is, unfortuantely, sans 'stache.  While I can't confirm this (the photo above was from 2010), it it encouraging that the Diamondbacks are running a lip sweater friendly Spring Training.

In their Salt River Fields media room hangs the "Parks and Recreation" inspired Ron Swanson Pyramid of Greatness.

Glorious.




February 17, 2011

Miguel Cabrera Has Been Drinking. Again.

There are two sure signs that spring is on the way.

First...Punxsutawney Phil doesn't see his shadow. 

Check.

Second...Miguel Cabrera gets arrested for hitting the bottle.

Double check...and I'm guessing the Detroit Tigers brass and fans alike are hoping the yearly tradition of waking up to the "Miguel Cabrera Arrested" headlines ends soon.

Late Wednesday night, the Tigers first baseman was arrested in Florida on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and two counts of resisting an officer without violence.

Here's some details...courtesy of the Detroit Free Press:

(Cabrera) was booked into the St. Lucie County Jail at 12:20 a.m. (Thursday) and released at 7:45 a.m. after posting $1,350 bond, according to information provided by Mark Weinberg from the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office

According to police report, a deputy spotted a car Cabrera was driving, smoking on the side of Okeechobee Road in Ft. Pierce, about 100 miles southeast of spring training in Lakeland. Cabrera had an odor of alcohol coming from his breath and his eyes were bloodshot and watery and his speech heavily slurred, according to the report.

Oh...that's just the beginning.

In an arrest affidavit, deputies said Cabrera repeated “Do you know who I am, you don’t know anything about my problems.” Cabrera then picked up a bottle of James Buchanan’s Scotch whiskey and started drinking, according to the report.

When asked to get into a patrol vehicle, police say Cabrera used an expletive. Police say he didn’t comply with several orders to get into the patrol vehicle. The arresting deputy said he lifted Cabrera’s left hand to gain pain compliance and Cabrera then “pushed off the vehicle into me,” according to the report.

The deputy then delivered 3-4 knee spikes into Cabrera’s left thigh muscle. Cabrera fell into the vehicle, according to police.

Now, if the past has showed us anything, when the slugger gets into trouble prior to the season...he's just getting ready for the season ahead.

Prior to last season, the 27-year-old spent three months in alcohol rehab and ended up putting up a .328 batting average, a career-high 38 HRs and 126 RBIs.  For his career, he has managed a .313 batting average, 247 home runs and 879 RBI.



February 16, 2011

Stan Musial: "This is the Greatest Day I Had in My Life"

Last November, after a wonderful "Flat Stan the Man" campaign, 90-year-old Hall of Famer Stan Musial got the call that he was going to be one of the latest Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients.

Pretty cool.

Tuesday, perhaps lost in all the Albert Pujols nonsense, was the day for "The Man" and how did he re-pay his fans at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

Well, according to Bernie Miklasz from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch...with an impromptu harmonica concert of course.

As soon as he was wheeled into the White House, Musial pulled out his trusty harmonica to entertain welcoming members of Obama's staff with some favorite ditties, including that most precious of Stan the Man's chestnuts, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

"It was pretty amazing," said Stephen Beck, a documentary moviemaker who accompanied President George Bush, also a medal recipient, to the White House. "Stan comes into the place and immediately takes out the harmonica and gets going. He had the White House staff smiling and laughing."

And then after the ceremony, at a reception for medal winners and their guests, Musial set up for an encore.

By placing the Medal of Freedom around Musial's neck, President Obama made the lifelong Cardinal baseball's eighth recipient...the most among any sport. 

The other seven are Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Joe DiMaggio, Buck O'Neil, Frank Robinson, Jackie Robinson and Ted Williams...not too shabby. 

I encourage you to read Miklasz's piece...it's pretty incredible and pays tribute to Musial and the event far better than I ever could.


Clay Zavada Might be Hanging it Up

The mustache ride might be over for Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Clay Zavada.

Depending on what you read...the recipient of the 2009 Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year Award is either going to show up to camp Wednesday or contemplating retirement.

Sure, it's hard to think of a world where the owner of one of baseball's finest lip sweaters, might hang it up, but according to azcentral.com...that's exactly what might happen.

Left-hander Clay Zavada, who was invited to big-league camp after signing a minor-league deal, appears to be contemplating retirement.  Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers said Zavada, who did not undergo a scheduled physical Sunday and missed Monday's workout, told the club's training staff he was "having some doubts on wanting to go through this again."

But, according to if you take what MLB.com's Steve Gilbert says as gospel...Zavada will be in camp soon.

Zavada's agent, Barry Meister, said that Zavada experienced some discomfort in his shoulder and that was the reason for his absence.  "He just needed a couple of days to figure out what was going on with his shoulder," Meister said.

Meister said that Zavada was going to see either the team's training staff or team physician Michael Lee about his shoulder Tuesday and that he had talked to manager Kirk Gibson about his situation.

Walking away from baseball wouldn't be new for Zavada.

He missed the entire 2007 season after the death of his father and was forced to sit out all of last season due to Tommy John surgery.  The Streator, Illinois native, and former 30th round draft pick, appeared in 49 games in 2009...striking out 52 batters in 51 innings.  He finished the season with a 3-3 record and a 3.35 ERA.

So...will he or won't he?

Granted, it isn't the same level of drama that surrounded New York Yankees lefty Andy Pettitte, but to Mustached Americans...Zavada is a hero.  In October 2009, he took home the afore mentioned American Mustache Institute's coveted Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year Award. 
 
Shortly after receiving the honor...sat down with the organization's leader, the esteemed Dr. Aaron Perlut.


February 14, 2011

Moyer Monday: February 14

For the first time since the middle of the Reagan administration...pitcher Jamie Moyer has Valentine's Day dinner plans that don't involve working out with teammates.

While most pitchers reported to Spring Training today...Moyer answered your questions.  Here is this month's "Moyer Monday.

Question:  Do you have any plans for Valentine’s Day?

Moyer:  A nice family dinner will be in store for Valentine's Day.

Question:  What do you think of the 2011 Phillies rotation?

Moyer:  The Phillies rotation will be very exciting to follow throughout the year. A very talented group of pitchers. Wish I was there to witness in person.

Question:  What are your favorite restaurants in Seattle and Philadelphia?

Moyer:  There are many great restaurants in both cities. Barolo in Seattle is great. Morimoto in Philly has great sushi.

Question:  What was your first car? What has been your favorite car to own?

Moyer:  My first car was a Pinto station wagon. Currently my favorite cars I’ve owned are my Escalade pick-up and Range Rover Sport.

Question:  What is your best clubhouse memory of the Mariner's historic 2001 season?

Moyer:  My favorite memory with the Mariner’s team from 2001 was the clubhouse unity by all involved.

Remember, you can follow The Moyer Foundation on Twitter at @moyerfoundation. To learn more about the foundation or make a donation to support one of their programs, please visit them online at The Moyer Foundation.


Garrett Wittels to Talk to the Media...Sorta

To say that Garrett Wittels will start the upcoming season different than last year is an understatement.

The Florida International University hitting sensation begins the 2011 campaign not only with his 56-game hitting streak on the line, but uncertainty as to whether or not his school will let him play.

You see, while he has been practicing with the team, FIU has yet to make a decision on how they will handle the junior and his December 20 rape arrest.

One thing is for sure though. According to The Miami Herald, the shortstop is ready to talk…but not about his off season.

The Florida International University hitting sensation will answer questions about the upcoming season and his pursuit of a national collegiate batting record at a press conference next week.

But he won’t be discussing the rape charges against him. For that matter, the school is warning media outlets not to ask about the shortstop’s legal issues – and is threatening recourse if they do – at Wednesday’s press conference with Wittels and other members of the team.

“Due to the ongoing investigation, if any questions are asked regarding Garrett Wittels’ legal matter, not only will the question not be addressed, but the press conference will end immediately,” according to a press release issued by the schools athletic department.

When the Golden Panthers open their season later this week against Southwestern Louisiana, Wittels enters two games shy of equaling Robin Ventura’s collegiate record of 58.

This past July, The Hall was able to catch up with the NCBWA Preseason All-American...you can read the interview HERE.


Top Stories of the Upcoming 2011 Jewish MLB Season

With pitchers and catchers reporting Monday for most of the Majors...it's just a matter of time until full blown spring training breaks out.

And not long after that, you can expect The Hall to start breaking down team by team milestones that are on the horizon for the upcoming season.  That said, The Great Rabbino (yeah, that's a real dude) has already broken down what he's looking forward to this season...and a good friend of this site has found himself situated at numero uno.

It's with that, that I present to you (courtesy of The Great Rabbino)...the top stories of the upcoming 2011 Jewish MLB season.

10) New Faces in New Places: Some of our beloved Jewish ball players have switched teams. Gabe Kapler has signed with the Dodgers, will that lead to more playing time? And will Sam Fuld's move to Tampa mean a permanent roster spot?

9) Rothschild in Pinstripes: The Yankees rotation is one of the biggest stories of the off-season. C.C. Sabathia and the boys need to improve. The Yankees brought in former Cubs' pitching coach Larry Rothschild to fix everyone (besides C.C.). Whether or not he is the answer is a major question.

8) Pitching Needs to Improve: It is clear we have no Sandy Koufaxes in the bunch. Outside of Craig Breslow, last year was a major disappointment. Can Jason Marquis, Scott Feldman and John Grabow bounce back?

7) Get Braun Some Help: Much of Ryan Braun's numbers come from the great protection he gets from Prince Fielder. With Fielder on the move, possibly mid-season, will Braun continue to be a star?

6) Somebody Call a Doctor: Last year the DL saw better Jewish players than the field. 2010 contained serious and long injury stints for Kevin Youkilis, Brad Ausmus, Ian Kinsler, Marquis and Grabow. Can the Jewish ballplayers stay healthy?

5) The Youk's Team: With Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez on board, will Kevin Youkilis still remain the man in Boston? He has great potential in this lineup but his move back to third could be a distraction. We expect big numbers from the Youk.

4) Kinsler Kontinued: Ian Kinsler was awesome in the playoffs. We saw glimpses of his 2010 form. Is he done with his injury plagued season and can he be the 30-30 guy we know he can be?

3) Second Year Slide: Last year Ike Davis showed his power. Danny Valencia came out of nowhere to be a star. The league knows who they are now. They have won the respect of many fans. But will these two be able to step it up, continue their strong play and help lead their teams? Also, will Ryan Kalish get a real chance?

2) Next: We finally saw the arrival of two new stars, so who is next? Will Jason Kipnis get a chance with the Indians? Can Danny Axelrod join the White Sox in middle relief? Can Ben Guez continue to rise fast for the Tigers? And will Aaron Poreda crack the Padres rotation? Who is the next Jewish breakout star?

1) Minor League Record: Our top story is kind of cheating but it is totally worth the Number One spot. It comes from college. Florida International's Garrett Wittels has a 56 game hitting streak, which is 2 shy of Robin Ventura's Division I record. We will be eagerly awaiting for the beginning of the college season. This kid has a bright future. If he ends up as good as Ventura that would be one great career.

You can read the interview Wittels did with The Hall HERE.

Shalom.


February 12, 2011

Wanna Buy Deion Sanders' House(s)?

If you've ever wondered what 641 big league games, a lifetime .273 batting average and, oh yeah, a Hall of Fame football career gets you...keep reading.

If you're tired of hearing about the excess of professional athletes...you might want to bolt now.

As it is, Deion Sanders has put not one, but TWO of his houses up for sale according to a number of different websites.  The first, is a $21 million palace outside of Dallas and the second is a downtown penthouse going for a more "modest" $7.5 million.

According to Business Insider:

The $21 million mansion is located in the aptly named Prosper, Texas, and has 29,122 square feet. The "Ultimate Party and Family Ranch" has a banquet dining room, a game room, an indoor basketball court, a bowling alley, a movie theater, a football field, a 12-acre lake, a tennis court, a guest house, indoor and outdoor pools, and a 10-car garage.

You can see some pictures and read more about the "Ultimate Party and Family Ranch" (which, I've gotta add has an awesome home theatre set up AND palm trees indoors) HERE.

Thanksfully, Business Insider also had some information on the downtown Dallas penthouse.

The $7.5 million penthouse has 5,025 square feet across two stories with a private elevator to the roof terrace, a private pool, a bar area, an outdoor fireplace, and window views of the Dallas skyline from around the penthouse.

Now, let's say you're not into spending two-thirds of the Pittsburgh Pirates payroll on a house...Jamie Moyer's crib is still up for grabs.

And he's recently shaved another million off the asking price.

It's no "Ultimate Party and Family Ranch", but 1933 Tudor style home has plenty of modern details including "a plush wood-paneled home theater/game room and an outdoor kitchen with a pizza oven". 

But enough about that...if you really want to read about Moyer's pad in Seattle...you'll read all about it HERE.

Outdoor pizza ovens, palm trees...I gotta get me a new house! 


Chuck Tanner (1928-2011)

I'm not sure why...but whenever I picture baseball managers, I always think of those from my formative years.

I blame that primarily on the Topps company who, during the 1980s, used to put their grizzled mugs on baseball cards.  Last year, the baseball world lost three managers that appeared in the 1983 Topps card set...Ralph Houk, Clyde King and Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson.

Friday...my heart sunk when I read this tweet from former Los Angeles Dodgers skipper Tommy Lasorda.

Rest in Peace Chuck Tanner. I loved you like a brother. You taught me a lot about managing, and I always appreciated it.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette, the manager of the 1979 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates, died Friday at his home in hospice care after a long illness. 

Tanner was 82.

Prior to his managerial career, Tanner played eight seasons (1955–1962) for four different teams...the Milwaukee Braves, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Angels.  In 396 games, the outfielder batted .261 with 21 home runs.

While with the Braves, Tanner hit a home run in his first big league at-bat on April 12, 1955...the only Braves player to accomplish the feat in Milwaukee.

But he was best known as a manager...having managed four teams from 1970 to 1988.  Over those 19 seasons...Tanner's overall managerial record was 1352-1381.  His 711 with the Pirates ranks him fourth on the franchise's all-time list.

You'll read plenty of quotes from Tanner's former players over the next couple of days...but I think Ed Herrmann (who played for Tanner from 1970 to 1974) summed it up well.

"RIP Chuck Tanner," the former Chicago White Sox catcher posted on his Facebook wall.  "Best 'Players' Manager I ever played for. He was a great man."


February 11, 2011

Talkin' Baseball with Gordon Holmes

Anyone who knows me (or has followed this site for any period of time) knows that I am a fan of reality television.

Wednesday...the best of best returns.

Now entering its 22nd season, "Survivor" cast members have seen and done just about everything.  This past December, five of the show's finest were heralded as members of the inaugural Hall of Fame class.  The Survivor Hall of Fame's creator, Gordon Holmes, is, incidentally, also a huge baseball fan...I recently had the chance to talk with him.

HOVG: Before we get to your beloved St. Louis Cardinals, I’ve gotta know…what possessed you to come up with the idea for the Survivor Hall of Fame?

HOLMES: Well, “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and I had done a point/counterpoint video series before “Survivor: Gabon.” One of the questions (which was stolen from ESPN’s Bill Simmons) was “Who would you put on your Mount Rushmore of ‘Survivor’?” He went with Richard Hatch, Rupert Boneham, Tina Wesson and Tom Westman. I went with Richard Hatch, Rob Cesternino, Jon “Jonny Fairplay” Dalton and Sue Hawk. A few years later I was interviewing Fairplay at the “Survivor” ten-year reunion and he brought it up. As we were debating our picks, other people started listening in and giving their two cents. It was then that I decided that this was an idea whose time had come.

HOVG: How did the Hall of Fame’s inaugural class get selected?

HOLMES: I wanted to build some checks and balances into the selection process. I knew a strict fan vote would leave us open to “Vote for Wanda” campaigns (no offense, Wanda) and a veterans committee vote would be as infuriating as the Baseball Hall of Fame process. So, 50% of the “Survivor” Hall of Fame vote comes from the fans and the other 50% comes from a selection committee made up of “Survivor” crew such as Jeff Probst and (the show's challenge producer) John Kirhoffer and “Survivor” journalists like EW’s Dalton Ross and E!’s Drusilla Moorhouse.

HOVG: Ultimately, the five that were chosen as the show’s best were its first millionaire Richard Hatch, fellow winner Parvati Shallow, two-time winner Sandra Diaz-Twine and the stars of this season’s upcoming “Survivor: Redemption Island” Russell Hantz and “Boston” Rob Mariano. Who were your five?

HOLMES: I stayed pretty close to my original Mount Rushmore picks. My thought process was to go with people who had changed the way the game is played. I went with Richard Hatch who was the brains behind the original final four voting alliance strategy. I had Rob Cesternino (even though he’s a Mets fan) for the way he popularized the whittling down of alliances as you get deeper into the game. I picked Jonny Fairplay for making the game more than something that took place on location. I think anyone who lies about their occupation owes Fairplay a royalty. Then I went with the two players whose success couldn’t be denied with Sandra Diaz-Twine and Parvati Shallow.

HOVG: There have been a number of athletes that have appeared on “Survivor”…how do you think a baseball player would fare?

HOLMES: I can see where being a baseball player would lend itself to the game. I think anyone who goes through a 162-game regular season must have some kind of stamina. Baseball is at the same time a team sport and an individual sport, just like “Survivor.”

HOVG: Is there anyone in particular you would like to see out there, forced to interact with fellow castaways for 39 days?

HOLMES: If I had to go with the player I think would do well on “Survivor,” I’d go with Yadier Molina. He’s a catcher, so he’s used to being miserable. He’s low-key, he’s not a leader, but he is a solid guy. The ladies like him. He’s kind of like “Survivor: Tocantins” winner J.T. Thomas.  However, if I was going for players based on entertainment value, sign me up for the Lenny Dykstra/Darren Daulton alliance. Those two are a producer’s dream.

HOVG: I mentioned Hatch earlier and I’ve gotta ask…if you could play "Survivor" and have a Rich Hatch-like alliance with any three of your beloved Cardinals (past or present), who would they be?

HOLMES: Alright, I’m not going to pick my three based on who I’d want to hang out with. (For the record, that’d be Ozzie Smith, Adam Wainwright, and Jose Oquendo). I’m going with the alliance that is going to put a million dollar check in my pocket. I’m going to start off with Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa. While I’m making good with the rest of the tribe, he’ll be off going over every possible jury combination. When he would interact with the tribe, they’d hate him because he wouldn’t take off his sunglasses under any circumstances. Next up, I’m going with former Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen. He and LaRussa would always be at each others’ throats. This would allow me to just hang back and figure out which of the two to team with when we got to the end. The fourth person would be Cardinals mascot Fredbird. I friggin’ hate Fredbird. I’d vote his red-feathered ass out with glee. Best of all, he couldn’t talk crap about me at Ponderosa and poison the jury against me.

HOVG: Lastly, we’re days away from pitcher and catchers reporting and the Cardinals have yet to offer a contract extension to slugger Albert Pujols. What do you figure will be filled with more drama…the negotiations with the three-time MVP or “Survivor: Redemption Island”?

HOLMES: Ooof…I sure hope it’s “Redemption Island”.  I’m in the camp that says Albert has every right to pursue a monster contract. During his time in St. Louis he’s been a perfect citizen, he’s never given any less than 100%, and he’s put up with Brendan Ryan always asking for his autograph.  So, if the Cards can afford him, keep him. If they can’t, let him go. But, I’d like it to be as drama free as possible. The man played for the Cards at a discount for years. I think he’s earned the right to leave with his legend intact.  Unless he goes to the Cubs, then screw him.

HOVG: So, what can we expect next from the Survivor Hall of Fame...what are your plans?

HOLMES: For as ridiculous as the idea of a reality show hall of fame is, I’ve tried to take it very seriously. So, a lot of thought has gone into this. Every November will be “Survivor” Hall of Fame election season. We started off with a class of five, I think from here on out we’ll whittle that down to two or three. I’d hate for it to turn into something like the WWE Hall of Fame where they elect huge classes and lesser talents like Koko B. Ware sneak in.  Right now we’re working on putting together a more permanent placement on XFINITY TV rather than the blog posts it was on earlier.  I’ve been bouncing around the idea of having a spring election that would be for individual seasons or memorable inanimate objects (Bob Crowley’s fake idols get my vote). Some people have suggested voting for superlatives like “Best Looking” or “Best at Challenges” but there’s no “Best Looking Player” plaque for Willie McGee in Cooperstown, so I don’t think those are the best fit.

You can follow Gordon Holmes and get his thoughts on the the latest season of "Survivor" over at Fancast.com.  He can also be found on Twitter or at his personal blog.

The Survivor Hall of Fame can be found on Twitter as well.  Feel free to check out The Hall's interview with former "Survivor" All-Star Rob Cesternino HERE and find out who Jonny Fairplay thinks is baseball's biggest heel HERE.


February 9, 2011

Jose Canseco is Planning Another Book

I hate myself for caring, but...we're less than a month away from the trainwreck that will be "The Celebrity Apprentice" and Jose Canseco has broken out of his shell.

First...he challenged Alex Rodriguez to a home run derby via Twitter.

I am challenging alex rodriguez to a home run competition all the monies will go to charity

Then...he announced his plans to put out a third book.

my third book will be coming out soon named the truth hurts it destroyed my life the charity b.a.t will benefit greatly financially

Now, I've tried to reach out to Canseco before, but, apparently, my pockets aren't deep enough to afford the 1988 American League MVP.  Thankfully, the New York Daily News got in touch with the former slugger so no one else had to.

"Basically the name of the book is, 'The Truth Hurts.' It destroyed my life," Canseco told the Daily News Tuesday. "It's completely accurate, of course. I only write books that depict truthful things."

Plenty of people are going to blast Canseco and his truths, but as Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers told me a while back "you don’t see too many people suing him."

"(The new book) kind of states how people view me, what's happened to me financially, how telling the truth has damaged me completely; how powerful Major League Baseball really is," says Canseco, who added he might self-publish the new tome. "It should be a No. 1 bestseller."

There is no timetable as to when the new book will be published (much less written), but one thing is certain...the best installment of "The Celebrity Apprentice" kicks off on NBC March 6.

The "Hit King" is on the Move

After a very successful seven-year run at Caesars Palace, Pete Rose is leaving Las Vegas.

Maybe.

It has been announced that Major League Baseball's all-time hits leader has left the Field of Dreams memorabilia store at the Forum Shops at Caesars for what he hopes will be "greener pastures".

"It was a mutual thing. He wanted to try something different. He's a deal maker," said Jim Nagourney, vice president of Stars Live, a division of Field of Dreams told the Las Vegas Review Journal.

So where's he heading?

Rumors are circulating that Rose, who turns 70 in April, might be heading down the strip, crossing Tropicana Boulevard and ending up at Luxor.  Former Chicago Bears great and pro football Hall of Famer Dick Butkus will take over the Hit King's seat at Caesars.

You can follow Rose's schedule over at his website.


Boston Invites Kiwi Softballer to Spring Training

I'm going to be honest...when I first saw The Boston Globe headline "Red Sox sign New Zealand softball player" I was instantly reminded of the story from a couple of years ago.

You know, the one where the Pittsburgh Pirates signed two Indian reality show contestants.

But in this scenario, Te Wera Bishop, the afore mentioned Kiwi softball player, might actually be better suited for the Majors than Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel  were when the Pirates took a chance on them.  And no, it has nothing to do with him being a softball player and the other two having never picked up a baseball.

Okay...it might have EVERYTHING to do with that.

"We have been impressed by his abilities behind the plate, he has excellent hands and a strong throwing arm," Red Sox scout Jon Deeble told website stuff.co.nz, "and with instruction from our Boston Red Sox coaches, we are confident he can make the appropriate changes from softball to baseball."

The plan for for the 17-year-old catcher, is to have him attend spring training,extended spring training and then...the Australian MLB Academy in June.

And if Bishop makes it to the big leagues...he'll be the first New Zealander to do so.

Current Toronto Blue Jays farmhand Scott Campbell is entering his fifth season in the Minors.  Travis Wilson spent eight seasons in both the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds organizations (1997-2004), but never made it past Class AAA ball.