December 25, 2011

Baseball is Awesome - It's December 25th

Dear Baseball and Red Sox fans: Today, being the 25th of December, I know most of my readers are thinking of other things.  There is so much going on today.  The NBA season is finally kicking off, there's an NFL game with playoff implications tonight, the sci-fi movie, The Darkest Hour is being released at theatres nationwide, people are concerned about Prince Philip's recovery and there's a myriad of other things for people to be thinking about.

But I'm thinking of something that happened hundreds of years ago.

December 21, 2011

Memorial fund set up for baseball players

By now everyone has heard about the tragedy that took the lives of Mitch Maclean, Tanner Craswell and Tabitha Stepple.  When I first heard about the murder-suicide, my initial reaction was "Shit. Wonder what led to that?" And I assumed it was some kind of domestic family dispute, and didn't think about it much more.  Then a few hours later when I saw on twitter that these were young baseball players who were alumni of Vauxhall, and had played for PBA and the Lethbridge Bulls, my reaction changed to "OH! SHIT!" and my heart sank.  Hey - I'm not a perfect human being.  I know I shouldn't have felt any differently.  A life is a life.  But somehow I felt closer to these young men.  I could relate to their hopes and dreams.  I could only imagine how their families felt. It hit me a lot harder than a random anonymous murder.  The baseball family is a fairly close knit group.   I might have umpired games these boys played in.  I might have cheered for (or against) them from the stands.  In baseball, fans say derogatory remarks about players or teams ("Yankees Suck!"),  teams battle against each other, coaches argue with umpires, umpires eject players, but in the end there are no hard feelings. We all love the game and there is a mutual respect among all the participants.

But this post isn't about me and my feelings.  It's about helping to spread the word on how you can help out. A memorial fund has been set up for these baseball players.  To donate, please visit any Bank of Nova Scotia Branch and tell them you are donating to the "Tanner Craswell and Mitch McLean Memorial Fund" or account number 00059 0157317.   From the comfort of your couch you can also send an email money transfer to  (Please note the spelling. It's the boys initials TC and MM followed by Memorial Fund).   For more information please take a look at the Prairie Baseball Academy, the Lethbridge Bulls  or the Vauxhall Baseball Academy websites.

A trust fund has also been opened for Tabitha Stepple.  Please contact the Northside Scotia Bank in Lethbridge for details.

A trust fund has also been set up for the lone survivor of this senseless massacre, Shanya Conway, who is currently recovering.  You can donate through the TD Canada Trust bank.
Branch #80679

Hope all my readers have a safe holiday season.

December 19, 2011

Yu Darvish

There have been rumours over the last few days that he could be going to one of our rivals.  Among the favourites are the Yankees (who are rarely not favoured to win a bidding war) and the Blue Jays.  If either team wins, it will make our path to the postseason more difficult than it already is.  Rangers and Cubs among others are also supposedly in the mix.  But let me clear up all the confusion for you.

I have breaking news am am glad to be the first to publicly announce this.  An inside source has CONFIRMED that

December 10, 2011

Tim Raines to speak at U of C baseball event

Tim Raines has been announced as the keynote speaker for the 2012 fundraising dinner for the University of Calgary Dinos baseball and fastball clubs. The event will take place on Thursday February 2nd at the Red & White Club at McMahon Stadium.  Tim Raines was one of the most exciting players to ever play in Canada, being a 7 time all-star for the Montreal Expos.

This annual event has seen such stars as Fergie Jenkins, Jack Morris and Bill Buckner in previous years (on the left, with yours truly), and is always an entertaining event.

This is your opportunity to listen to and have a chance to meet a likely future Hall of Famer.

For more details and to order tickets go to the University of Calgary's Recreation page.

December 09, 2011

Baseball is AWESOME! - Monster home run highlights sweep

Manny Ramirez had some memorable moments as a member of the Red Sox.  It started right away when he hit a 3 run home run on the very first pitch he saw at Fenway as a member of the Red Sox.   And of course, nobody will forget the moment pictured on the left, when he hit a walkoff homerun to give Boston a 2-0 ALDS lead over the Angels, whom they then swept en route to winning the 2007 World Series.

But the first time I realized we were watching something special, was on June 3rd, 2001  at the Skydome (as it was then called) in Toronto.  Not only did he hit an awe-inspiring blast, but at the time it looked like it might be a key moment in the season.

At the end of May Boston was tied with the Yankees for the AL East lead, and whoever didn't win the division was already 5 games behind in the wildcard chase.  Boston then went to Toronto, and as I've mentioned before, good things happen to the Red Sox when they cross the border.  Boston beat the Blue Jays the first 3 games and in the 4th game they were down 2-0 in the 4th inning when this happened:

Manny hits a towering home run that was measured at 491 feet, and before the crowd had time to stop ooing,  Dante Bichette hit another one to tie the game.  The Red Sox ended up winning to complete the sweep, and left Canada with a 2 game lead on New York.

Another reason baseball is awesome.  No matter the lack of importance of a game or the score, you should always keep watching because you never know when you are going to see something that makes you go "Wow!".

Epilogue: The Red Sox lead did not last long and by the end of the month they were chasing the Yankees who ended up running away with the division in what turned out to be a disappointing season.

November 28, 2011

Baseball is AWESOME! - The Jeff Stone game

This is my next entry in my series of Baseball is Awesome off-season posts.  If you've read the introductory post and the first one I wrote on Mike Gardiner you know that this is a series of posts focusing on great Red Sox related moments with some Canadian content.  Today's post is on a game that came to be known simply as "The Jeff Stone game".

Ok, there were no Canadians involved in this game, and it took place at Fenway.  So where's the Canadian connection?

First, a brief (or not so) history lesson.  Believe it or not, the Yankees were not always our most hated rivals.

November 24, 2011

Baseball is AWESOME! - Canadian hurler wins Red Sox debut

This is the first in my series of Baseball is Awesome off-season posts. Something to read and keep you looking forward to those first days of spring when baseball season starts and anything can happen.  Most of these stories will not show up on The Greatest Baseball Stories Ever Told.  But they will be interesting to any baseball fan, and as this series focuses on Red Sox related moments with some Canadian content, I hope in particular Red Sox and/or Canadian fans enjoy them.

On September 8th, 1990 Mike Gardiner made his MLB debut, at Fenway.   He had languished in the Mariners farm system for a while, never getting above AA, but was rewarded with a September call up.  In a blowout game he came in to pitch with 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th with his team losing 9-2. He gave up a hit allowing an inherited runner to score, but then struck out Randy Kutcher to end the inning.  It was a fairly unremarkable appearance, not noted by many, except me.  You see, Mike Gardiner was not only one of the handful of Canadians in the MLB, he was from my hometown of Sarnia.  I did everything I could to follow his career path (which was difficult in those pre-internet days).  Once he made that first appearance in the show, I told everyone how great he was going to be, and how proud I was that someone from my little hometown was going to make it big.   It mainly fell on deaf ears.   And this post is not about this first appearance anyways....

November 22, 2011

BBWAA vs. BBA Awards - who chose better?

Now that all major awards have been handed out by the BBWAA (and the Baseball Blogger's Alliance (BBA) had already announced their awards ahead of time), it's time to compare and see how well they matched, and where they differed who had the better selection.  I previously posted the BBA selections, and links to the Boston Chapter's vote as well as my personal input into that vote on the awards tracker post.  Feel free to look through the links there for reasonings behind my picks.   Here, without further commentary, are the final results for each award.  For the most part, the Bloggers' awards match the real ones with a few slight differences.  I would be interested in readers' opinions of whether the BBA totally missed the boat, or if they replaced the BBWAA membership votes and gave it to a bunch of guys (and gals) blogging from their mom's basement, if the real awards would be more meaningful.   Please comment below and/or shoot me a line on twitter @rsn_alberta.

November 19, 2011

Baseball is AWESOME!

and the the sky is blueand Kate Upton is hot.

Now that we have the obvious out of the way...  I've finally gotten over the painful end of the Sox season, and  am ready to start writing again.  I am going to start a series called "Baseball is Awesome" where every week, (or every few days or whenever I feel like writing) I will post a new article recapping a particular game, moment or event, in Red Sox history that shows why Baseball IS awesome.  Now, the greatest moments in Sox history has already been done... probably multiple times, in blogs, books and even video form, if you want to get it below,

but this will have a slight twist to it.

I am restricting this list to great Canadian moments in Red Sox history. May be by a Canadian player or it happened in Canada or otherwise has some significance for Canadians.   But it should be an entertaining read for any fan of our Old-Towne Team.  I look forward to writing it, hope you are looking forward to reading it.

I will update this post to serve as a link to the Series:
Baseball is Awesome - Canadian Hurler wins Red Sox debut
Baseball is Awesome - The Jeff Stone game
Baseball is Awesome - Monster Home Run highlights sweep
Baseball is Awesome - Jason Bay: Canadian hero
Baseball is Awesome - Maligned Canadian Pitcher closes out Series Win
Basebal is Awesome - Gives You Perspective
Baseball is Awesome - Youkilis First Home Run

October 27, 2011

Baseball Bloggers Alliance Awards Tracker

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was formed in the fall of 2009 to encourage cooperation and collaboration between baseball bloggers of all major league teams as well as those that follow baseball more generally. As of this writing, the organization consists of 316 blogs (including yours truly) spanning all 30 major league squads as well as general baseball writing.

October 22, 2011

World Series Alberta connections

There are no Canadian players left in the postseason, but there are several members of both the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals who have ties to the Wild Rose Province (aka the Texas of Canada).  With a hat tip to Kevin Glew's Cooperstowners in Canada, here is a list of the participants with links to Alberta:

Texas Rangers:
1st Base Coach Gary Pettis - A centerfielder in his playing days, he spent 1983 in Edmonton, playing for the  Trappers of the PCL, leading the team in runs with 138, before being called up for good with the then-California Angels where he became 5 time Gold Glove winner. (editor's note:  I need to cutdown on run-on sentences!)

October 16, 2011

BBA Boston Chapter Walter Johnson Award

Later this week, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance will announce the winners of the 2011 Walter Johnson Award given to the best pitcher.  There are some interesting debates going on for the National League candidates, but if the Boston Chapter of the BBA is representative of the rest of the American League voting, there should be no suspense as to who the AL winner will be.   In an unanimous vote, all Boston voting members selected Justin Verlander as the clear winner.   And for very good reasons, as I elaborated when I made by ballot public.  On Thursday the BBA will likely confirm Verlander as the AL award recipient and I look forward to seeing how the membership voted in what should be a much tighter NL race.

October 15, 2011

BBA Boston Chapter Goose Gossage Award

Now that the BBA has named their Connie Mack and Willie Mays award winners (for manager and rookie of the year), the next announcement will be for the Goose Gossage Award for top reliever.   I had made my picks earlier, giving a rival Yankee the top spot on my ballot.  And it wasn't even for Mr. Enter Sandman himself, but to David Robetson.  Surely not many others would pick a middle reliever, and I certainly never thought that fellow Red Sox bloggers would be so willing to give top honour to a Yankee. So imagine my surprise, when not only did the Boston Chapter also place Robertston #1 on our collective ballot, but matched my picks perfectly giving 2nd spot to Jonathan Papelbon  and the aforementioned Mariano Rivera as the #3 pick.   The BBA will make their announcement for both the AL and NL winners early next week.

October 10, 2011

BBA Boston Chapter Willie Mays Award

Yesterday I shared the Boston Chapter and BBA's selections for the Connie Mack Award,  and today we will continue the post-season awards with a look at who were the top rookies named.  As a reminder, I picked Seattle's Michael Pineda over teammate Dustin Ackley and the Jays' Brett Lawrie on my Willie Mays award ballot.  I made my case for these players and also explained why I left other favourites such as Eric Hosmer and Jeremy Hellickson off my ballot. Alas, the other members of the Boston Chapter voted differently, giving the award to Hosmer.  Hellickson was second and Desmond Jennings got the 3rd place vote on the Chapter's ballot.  Take a look here for the details of the voting.  This ballot will count towards the BBA's official award, which will be named in the next few days.  I will update this with the final results once they are announced.

October 08, 2011

BBA Boston Chapter Connie Mack Award

Now that I have posted my personal ballots for all the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) awards, time to share the final results.

I am a member of the Boston Chapter of the BBA.  Each Chapter gets two votes, and as Boston is an American League team, we only voted on the AL awards.  Each member of the chapter votes for any and all of the awards, with each vote getter being assigned a number value, based on where they are in the voting, and whoever gets the most votes, gets the Chapter's nod for that award.

The first award of 2011 is the Connie Mack Award, given to the Best Manager in the American League.
Here are the Boston Chapter’s Top 3 Selections:

2011 AL Stan Musial Award

Time for my ballot for the last award that I have the privilege to vote on as part of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) (@BaseballBlogs). I have already selected the Manager of the Year (Connie Mack Award),Top Rookie (Willie Mays),Top Pitcher (Walter Johnson) and Best Reliever (Goose Gossage).  My votes go towards the Boston Chapter of the BBA, who get 2 votes in total for each of the American League awards.  The only award left for me to vote on is the Stan Musial award given to the Player of the Year.   This was a tough choice.  Unlike in previous years where there is an obvious choice, or it's a 2 player horse race, this season there were many deserving candidates, each of whom I could vote for at #1 and not get ridiculed.   Did I select hometown favourite Jacoby Ellsbury?  Tiger ace Justin Verlander?  Did I do the unthinkable and pick Curtis Granderson, who would be my 3rd Yankee award winner?  The RSN Alberta vote for the 2011 Stan Musial Award goes to...

October 02, 2011

2011 AL Goose Gossage Award

As part of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance I get to vote for the major awards.  I have already posted my AL winners for the Connie Mack (manager), Walter Johnson (pitcher) and Willie Mays (rookie) awards.  Today I tackle the Goose Gossage award handed out to the top reliever.   This was a tough one.  What to look at?  Saves? ERA? WAR?    Ultimately I used a combination of numbers and non statistical measures of what they meant to their team.

The winner of the 2011 AL Goose Gossage award goes to....

October 01, 2011

2011 AL Willie Mays Award

As part of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, I have already voted for the 2011 AL Connie Mack Award for top manager, and Walter Johnson Award for top pitcher.  Now, in what might be the toughest and closest race, is my ballot for the Willie Mays award for top rookie.   It was an excellent rookie crop.  Among pitchers we had Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda , Jeremy Hellickson, Alexi Ogando and Zach Britton who all had great inaugural seasons.  On the offensive side of the field we had Eric Hosmer, Dustin Ackley, Mark Trumbo, JP Arencibia, Brett Lawrie, Desmond Jennings and Jemile Weeks among others to consider.

So, who gets my vote for the 2011 AL Willie Mays Award?

2011 AL Walter Johnson Award

In what should come as no surprise to any baseball fan, my pick for the AL Walter Johnson award, for best pitcher in the American League, goes to Justin Verlander.
First the raw stats: 24-5, 2.40 ERA, 250 Ks.   This while leading the league in innings pitched with 251 and a WHIP of 0.92.  League leaders are usually above 1, and this is the 2nd lowest mark in the AL since 1972 (to Pedro's record setting mark in 2000).  But aside from the stats, he is the major reason the Tigers ran away with their division.  Take him away from the rotation and this is maybe an 85 win team.  If I had an MVP pick, I suspect he'd be the first name on the ballot as well.  
 The rest of the ballot...

September 28, 2011

2011 AL Connie Mack Award

It's time of the year to get ready for playoffs (which hopefully will include our Red Sox), but it's also time to start thinking of the year end awards.  Over the next few days I will publicly post on this blog my ballot for each of the main awards.  As part of the Baseball Blogger's Alliance, I will be voting on the following awards:

  • Connie Mack Award (Best Manager)
  • Willie Mays Award  (Top Rookie)
  • Goose Gossage Award (Best Reliever) 
  • Walter Johnson Award (Best Pitcher) 
  • Stan Musial Award (Best Player) 
All these awards should be based on what the candidates do during the regular season, so I will select them ignoring what they may or may not do in the post-season and will post these over the next few days.
However, I wanted to get a jump on the Connie Mack Award, as I don't want the results skewed by what may or may not happen in Game #162 and/or 163.

September 12, 2011

How to hold up the sky?

Superhuman strength?   Not needed.

Divine intervention? Not gonna happen.

A visit by some pesky little birds to Fenway?   As Dave Hester likes to say, "YUUUUUUP!"

Last time things looked bleak after we started 2-10, I warned that a visit by Toronto would right our ship.  And sure enough we won 8 of the next 9 and that dismal start was quickly forgotten.   The first win in that series happened to coincide with the first ever Red Sox Nation international event.   The Red Sox have had great success at these, winning all 5 games at these watch parties.  As luck would have it, the next one is tomorrow, Tuesday September 13th, 5 PM at the Melrose Cafe.

So instead of looking back at the Rays that are gaining on us, look ahead to the next couple of games.  I wouldn't be surprised if after these games the talk shifts from "will the Rays catch us" to "will we catch the Yankees".

If you're in the area, come support your team, and join us as we watch the Red Sox get back to their winning ways.

September 10, 2011

Baseball is not life and death

It's WAY more important..... Or so goes the saying, that I oft repeat, usually only half-joking.

But I have also mentioned before, even right here on these pages, that certain things ARE much more important than baseball.
So tomorrow, in remembrance of that date which will live in infamy, I will not write about baseball.  This blog will remain stagnant, there will be no facebook updates, or tweets.
Even if Jon Lester throws a perfect game.

I don't want to make any commentary on political issues on this site, but somehow I think it's wrong to be shifting reader's attention to baseball on this day when there are graver issues to be thinking about.  So I am joining several other members of the Baseball Blogger's Alliance in a day long "moment of silence".

For more details on what we are doing and why, and a full list of participating sites, please read the original post on the I-70 Baseball website.

September 08, 2011

Albertans at Mizuno Junior Elite Baseball Camp

Several young Albertans are among the 60 players attending the 2011 Mizuno Camp which is running from Wednesday  September 7th to Saturday the 10th at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.

The following players from our Province are currently at this camp:
  • Third Basemen Nolan Bumstead from Calgary
  • Pitchers Ryan Anderson and Markus Blair from St. Albert
  • Pitcher Mac Guckert from Red Deer
  • Pitcher CJ Lewington from Strathmore
  • Pitcher Cole Schneider from Fort Saksatchewan
  • Outfielder Carson Wlad from Calgary
This is a great opportunity for these 15 and 16 year olds, as not only will they be participating in workout

September 02, 2011

Power Rankings - September edition

It's time for the stretch run. Looks like there might not be much excitement these last few weeks as all playoff spots look secure, but there's a reason they play the games. Just ask the 64 Phillies or 95 Angels or more recently the 2007 Mets. This will be the last power rankings for the season, I will reflect back on these after the season is over and comment on the best few (might be a challenge to find) and worst (might be a challenge to narrow it down to just a few) rankings and comments I made throughout the season.
Drumroll.... who has the coveted #1 ranking heading into September? No major surprise as for the 5th month in a row it's the Phillies. Here is the complete list. Numbers in brackets are movement from last month and their high/low rank for the season.
#1 - Philadelphia (--,1/2) - How good are they? Vance Worley who is 9-1 with a 2.65 ERA isn't likely to start in the posteason, because he's not a top 4 guy in their rotation. 'nuf said.
#2 - Boston (--,1/8) - Canadian Erik Bedard has looked like a solid #3 starter to replace Buchholz who isn't likely to return, and our catchers have gone from a liability to an asset. We can hit good pitchers so I'm not worried about facing Verlander or CC in the AL playoffs. Hitting 4 good pitchers in a row against Philly might be more of a challenge. And if we make it that far we lose a bat (Ortiz?) for up to 4 of the games.

August 30, 2011

August updates - National championships and more

Alberta had some success at the National stage, but ended up with no championships.
The Senior Men's team participated in Miramichi, NB and went 2-3.  Alberta did not field a team in the Junior division.  As mentioned previously, the Midget team took home a silver medal in Regina, losing to Ontario in the final.  The Bantam team also took a silver in Vaughan, ON,  losing to Quebec in the final game. Alberta sent 2  Peewee teams to the Western Championships in Nanaimo, BC, but neither one of them played in a medal game, as the host team took gold.

August 23, 2011

August youth recap

It was a busy month for Alberta baseball-playing youth.

The August long weekend was the end of the Baseball Alberta Provincial Championships where teams fought to earn the right to represent Alberta at Western or Canadian championships.
At the Midget level, Foothills were crowned champions at the Performance level, and went on to the Nationals where they represented our province well, but ultimately lost to Ontario for the National Championship. Camrose were the Competitive champions, and went on to play in the Western Canadian AA Championship, where they went 1-3 in round-robin play, and did not qualify for the finals.

August 12, 2011

Help make a Bill Lee movie

As a Red Sox fan I have been fortunate to have been able to meet several former players, including Jim Rice and Bill Buckner, but one of my favourite highlights was when I met Bill Lee. The opportunity arose when he participated in a charity slo-pitch game, right here in Calgary. Before the game he was talking to the fans, and I asked him to sign my copy of his autobiography The Wrong Stuff. I told him how much I had enjoyed reading it, and that his book was part of my inspiration in trying to "make" my son a lefthander so he'd have some advantages in playing ball. I told him that as a baby whenever he picked anything up with his right hand, I'd gently slap it and put it in his left hand. When I started rolling a ball to him, I'd encourage him to catch with his right and throw it with his left. He looked at my son who was about 5 at the time, then at me, shook his head and said I was crazy! Being called crazy by Bill Lee is about as big of a compliment as anyone could ask for :)

August 03, 2011

MLB Power Rankings - August edition

Now that the trade deadline is done and for the most part, teams have made the changes they need for the last 1/3 of the season, here are the latest power rankings.  Numbers in brackets are movement from last month, and their high/low rank for the season.   Look at previous rankings for explanations of how the teams got to where they are. 

#1 – Philadelphia (--, 1/2) – I  may have mentioned this before – but there are some guys who know how to pitch a ball pretty good out in Eastern Pennsylvania.   Getting Hunter Pence at the deadline wasn’t a necessity but certainly doesn’t hurt.

July 29, 2011

MLB Power Rankings - July edition

I don't know how this happened, but these rankings didn't get posted.  I found them on my spreadsheet that keeps track of movement from month to month when I was writing up August's rankings.  It's too bad because I had some good comments on some teams that moved a lot (Pirates from 26 to 14, Florida from 9 to 20, Oakland from 13 to 23), but in retrospect the analysis was flawed as the month of July showed, so probably better that nobody saw it !  Anyhow, here is the list FWIW, sans commentary:

#1 - Philadelphia (--,1/2)
#2 - Boston (--, 1/8)
#3 - San Francisco (+5, 3/12)
#4 - Yankees (+2, 4/10)
#5 - Atlanta (+5, 5/16)
#6 - Texas (-3, 3/10)
#7 - Tampa Bay (-2, 5/8)
#8 - Detroit (+6, 8/14)
#9 - Milwaukee (-2, 7/18)
#10 - St. Louis (-6, 4/15)
#11 - Angels (+6, 11/22)
#12 - Arizona (+4, 12/27)
#13 - Toronto (+2, 13/20)
#14 - Pittsburgh (+12, 14/29)
#15 - Cincinnati (+3, 14/18)
#16 - Cleveland (-4, 12/30)
#17 - Washington (+10, 17/27)
#18 - Mets (+7, 18/28)
#19 - White Sox (--, 15/23)
#20 - Florida (-11, 5/20)
#21 - Minnesota (+3, 3/24)
#22 - Colorado (-11, 2/22)
#23 - Oakland (-10, 4/23)
#24 - Dodgers (-1, 20/24)
#25 - Seattle (-3, 22/27)
#26 - Cubs (-5, 12/26)
#27 - Kansas City (+1, 22/28)
#28 - San Diego (+1, 17/29)
#29 - Baltimore (-9, 17/29)
#30 - Houston (--, 28/30)

July 24, 2011

Division realignments and playoffs

Lately there has been a lot of talk about division re-alignment and changing the MLB playoff format. When MLB expanded to 3 divisions in each league, I gave a lot about how to optimize pennant races.  I think now is a good time to revisit this.

Before I explain my proposal, here is a brief history of how we got to the current system:

Until 1969 whoever led their league in wins in the regular season advanced to the World Series.  No divisions, no wildcards.  It made the regular season extremely meaningful - pennant races could be exciting, knowing that one game could be the difference between going to the World Series and missing the playoffs entirely (see 1967 example under point #1 below).  It also often made the end of the season meaningless. The Tigers made the World Series in 1968 by winning the pennant by 12 games.  I don't think there was a lot of drama in September of that year.

July 21, 2011

More than just a game

editor's note: This post first appeared in the Red Sox Nation - Alberta blog, before amalgamating it's contents here.

Came across something I thought I should share with my readers, and I wasn't sure whether to post it here or on my Baseball in Alberta blog.

This blog has stories that are of interest to Red Sox fans.  It's slightly geared towards  Albertans or Canadians, but is also of interest to fans from elsewhere, whether it's Boston or Bangladesh.  Red Sox Nation knows no borders.

The Baseball in Alberta blog has stories of interest to baseball fans in Alberta.  Whether it's about a local team or academy or tournaments or camps or tryouts, or players who have moved on and are enjoying success elsewhere, or famous players who are in the province for whatever reason, the common theme is that it's about baseball and is of particular interest to Albertans.

This story isn't about anything to do with the Red Sox.  Or Alberta.

For that matter it really has very little to do with baseball.
So why am I writing about it?  Because it's about more than just a game.  And in the grand scheme of things way more important.
So I'm posting it in both places to try and reach a wider audience.

Please read it by clicking on the link to the Seamheads website below:

And if after reading it you suddenly find out that all that dust in your computer must have gotten in your eyes and they're watering, please click on the donation widget at that page and help if you can.  And pass the link along to anyone else who might be touched by it.

The writer of the article above also passed along the following information:

A Luncheon will be held for Jim and his family in early August and items will be auctioned off.  If you can contribute something to the auction or know someone who might be willing to, I'd be forever in your debt.  I didn't know Jim well but we share mutual friends and I hope to get to know him better over the coming months.  None of us knows his fate but he's fighting as hard as he can and everything we can do for the Orr family will help.

If you want to donate an item (or items) to the auction, please send it to me and I'll make sure it gets where it needs to go:

12630 SE Stephens St.
Portland, OR 97233 
editor's note: This post first appeared in the Baseball in Alberta blog, before I amalgamated its contents here. The intro to it makes a little less sense now that all the posts are on one blog.

Came across something I thought I should share with my readers, and I wasn't sure whether to post it here  or on my Red Sox Nation Alberta blog.

This blog has stories of interest to baseball fans in Alberta.  Whether it's about a local team or academy or tournaments or camps or tryouts, or players who have moved on and are enjoying success elsewhere, or famous players who are in the province for whatever reason, the common theme is that it's about baseball and is of particular interest to Albertans.

The RSN blog has stories that are of interest to Red Sox fans.  It's slightly geared towards Albertans or Canadians, but is also of interest to fans from elsewhere, whether it's Boston or Bangladesh.  Red Sox Nation knows no borders.

This story isn't about anything to do with Alberta.  Or the Red Sox.
For that matter it really has very little to do with baseball.
So why am I writing about it?  Because it's about more than just a game.  And in the grand scheme of things way more important.

So I'm posting in both places to try and reach a wider audience.

Please read it by clicking on the link to the Seamheads website below:

And if after reading it you suddenly find out that all that dust in your computer must have gotten in your eyes and they're watering, please click on the donation widget at that page and help if you can.  And pass the link along to anyone else who might be touched by it.

The writer of the article above also passed along the following information:

A Luncheon will be held for Jim and his family in early August and items will be auctioned off.  If you can contribute something to the auction or know someone who might be willing to, I'd be forever in your debt.  I didn't know Jim well but we share mutual friends and I hope to get to know him better over the coming months.  None of us knows his fate but he's fighting as hard as he can and everything we can do for the Orr family will help.

If you want to donate an item (or items) to the auction, please send it to me and I'll make sure it gets where it needs to go:

12630 SE Stephens St.
Portland, OR 97233 

July 13, 2011

Albertans representing Canada at World Baseball Challenge

The 2011 World Baseball Challenge is under way, and Alberta is well represented on the Canadian National Team.  Among the Albertans selected to the squad are Calgary natives Colin Moro and Geoff Freeborn, who have both played for their hometown Calgary Vipers and Dustin Northcott from Rocky Mountain House.  Another player with Albeta ties is Jordy Alexander, who although a BC native, currently resides in Calgary.

All these players have helped Canada so far.  Colin Moro was a big part of the offense, scoring in a 4 run 1st inning,  and knocking in a run and scoring in the 4th inning, when Canada put up 4 more runs, en route to an easy 13-7 victory over Bahamas on Sunday.   On Monday, Dustin Northcott and Geoff Freeborn both pitched scoreless frames, helping Canada preserve a 6-2 victory over Beijing.  On Tuesday, Jordy Alexander threw a hitless inning and Moro knocked in another run, but it was not enough as the undefeated and always tough Cuban squad defeated Canada 9-4.

Play continues with games against Japan on Wednesday, and the round-robin play finishes on Thursday with a match against Chinese Tapei.  The playoffs start on Friday with the championship game being played on Sunday afternoon.

Best of the luck to these Albertan players and the rest of their teammates on the Canadian National Team.

July 02, 2011

OOTP 12 full review

I've finally put OOTP down long enough to write a more complete review of it.  I've posted it on the Baseball in Alberta blog.  Have a read, let me know your thoughts.

July 01, 2011

What to do when it rains? Play!

I love baseball.  I used to play and coach, and now I watch – both as a fan and parent -  and I umpire games too.  I would to go to a game every day if I could.  But living in Alberta, the weather isn’t very co-operative.  We only have a few months where baseball can be played, and have to deal with our share of rainouts (and snowouts, hailouts, lightningouts… you get the idea).   So what to do when it’s winter, or you have an unexpected free evening in the summer and you can’t get to the ballpark?  The next best thing is to play a baseball simulation game.

When I initially got a PC one of the first programs I installed on it was Earl Weaver Baseball.  I thought this was the best baseball simulation game that could ever be made. I could set up lineups and make trades.  How could a game possibly ever be any better?   (At the same time I thought that an IBM XT PC with 640 K of RAM was more than I could ever possibly need.  After all, I wasn’t NASA- why would I ever need a whole MB of RAM on my home computer? But I digress).   Well, comparing the latest version of OOTP to this initial baseball simulation game would be like comparing PONG to Call of Duty.  Sure they’re both video games, and you can control what you see on the screen through some type of interface – but that’s where the similarities end.  I did a very quick summary of how much I liked this game the night I got it, and now that I've played it for a bit, I thought I'd expand on my initial review.

With OOTP 12, you not only get to set your team’s lineups, but pretty much everything else that a real live GM needs to deal with.  In fact, if I was a baseball owner looking for a new GM, I might skip the interview process and judge the applicants on how well they do playing this game.  Setting your lineups, pitching rotations and bullpen roles are just the tip of the iceberg.  You not only draft players, but you decide where to spend your scouting budget on.  Do you want to just concentrate on the typical  baseball hotbeds, or do you want to spend a little bit of money scouting in, say, Portugal, so you get a leg up on competition if there’s any talent there?  You have to keep your eyes open on waiver wires, be careful who you try to sneak past them to send to the minors lest they be stolen from you, and deal with contract negotiations.  The game is flexible enough that you can bypass all of these details, and simulate a season fairly quickly, or you can literally take hours to simulate a single day.

I initially played a quick season, recreating my childhood 1975 Red Sox pennant winners, to see if I could get a different outcome.  In the simulation they won their division and had to face the A’s in the playoffs, just like in '75.  However, there is a limit to how much the game mimicked real life events, and in this simulation Vern Ruhle did not break Jim Rice's wrist which a lot of fans think would have been the difference between winning and losing that Classic Series to the Reds.  Alas, the A’s beat us in the ALCS and I didn’t get a chance to recreate history against Cincinnati.   I then played the 2011 season in detail, as the Sox GM and took care of every detail.   John Henry’s expectation was to win a Championship and when the team was floundering into June, he was unhappy and I felt the pressure and was worried I was going to get fired.  I made a series of moves – which may have depleted my farm for the future – and managed to win the pennant, and save my job.

This game lets you play a virtual infinite number of different modes.  You can set up your own leagues and teams.  Realign divisions and change rules.  I could do an expansion draft and bring the Calgary Vipers and Edmonton Capitals into the league and see how long it would take me to make those teams competitive.   

Now that I have OOTP 12 installed, instead of dreading any upcoming rainouts, I might secretly be hoping for them, so I have more time to play!

Take a look here for more information on the game and how to buy it.

June 21, 2011

Best game ever

Or should I say "evah!" for my Boston area friends. And, no I'm not talking about tonight's 7th inning 10 run outburst for our beloved Red Sox, although that was pretty cool too.

I'm talking about Out of the Park 12! I just got my copy earlier this evening (actually, yesterday I guess), and have been playing it non-stop. It has so many features and options, I feel like I've just scratched the surface. I can't do it justice by posting a review yet because I haven't tried everything (and it's approaching 4 AM... I should really go to sleep soon). So far I've tried a few different modes, and I just finished playing the 1975 season. I managed to get the Red Sox in the playoffs and keep Jim Rice healthy for them. But what I've seen so far is awesome, and it's going to be difficult to get me way from the computer for the next little while.

I will post a full review shortly. If I can get away from the game long enough to update this blog :)

Take a look here for more information on the game and how to buy it.  Or check it and other baseball games at Amazon..

June 08, 2011

Red Sox draft Alberta player

The Boston Red Sox had a very successful draft including getting several players who were expected to be taken before the Sox had a chance to pick.  And fans are rightfully excited about getting Matt Barnes, Blake Swihart, Henry Owens, and Jackie Bradley with their first 4 picks.  But lost in the shuffle of the 53 players taken by the Red Sox was Sean Dartnell taken in the 34th round.  He is a 6'2" 200 pound left-handed pitcher from St. Paul Manitoba who is a High School senior right here at the Vauxhall Baseball Academy.  He had already committed to attend Eastern Michigan University who play in NCAA Div I, and now will have to decide between signing with our Sox and attending school.  Either way, we wish him the best of luck.  If he does choose to sign with the Red Sox we are excited to have another Canadian in the organization to continue a long tradition of stars from the North playing at Fenway.

7 players from Alberta taken in annual MLB draft

Yesterday, Adam Paulencu, Ethan Elias and Jake Hansen were selected on day 2 of the draft.  Joining them as MLB draftees from Alberta today were LHP Sheldon McDonald from Spruce Grove,  outfielder Cory Scammell from Edmonton, Ryan Thompson who I previously wrote about, and Brendan Hendriks.

Some other names notable to Albertans including LHP Sean Dartnell who went to Vauxhall Academy and 1B Trevor Gretzky who I'm told had a dad who was a professional athlete in our province.

Here's a summary of Albertan's drafted in the 2011 MLB draft:

Adam Paulencu 
Spruce Grove
Ethan Elias 
Jake Hansen
Fort MacLeod
Sheldon MacDonald
Spruce Grove
Cory Scammell
Ryan Thompson

Fort McMurray
Brendan Hendriks

3 Albertans drafted in Day 2

{editor’s note:  I wrote this last night, but due to technical difficulties was unable to post it on the blog until after the end of the 3rd day.}
There were no Canadians taken in the first round of the MLB draft.  On day 2, Tom Robson was the first Canadian taken as expected, when the Blue Jays selected the big LHP with their 4th round pick.   RHP Adam Paulencu of Spruce Grove was the first Albertan taken when the Giants took him in the 13th round.   The next local prospect taken was another RHP, Ethan Elias of Entwistle who went to the Cubs in the 22nd round.  The third and last Albertan drafted today was another pitcher, this time a southpaw. Jake Hansen from Fort MacLeod was taken in the 30th round by the Mets.

There are still several outstanding prospects available, including Ryan Thompson and Cory Scammell, who are likely to be taken in tomorrow’s rounds.  I will post an article with the results of the final day after tomorrow.

June 03, 2011

Dale Anderson leads Seton Hall to NCAA Regionals

There are 64 teams who earned an entry into the annual NCAA baseball tournament to ultimately crown a College World Series Champion.  There are several Canadians playing on these rosters, but only one player is from Alberta. That is Strathmore's own Dale Anderson.  Read my article about how he helped the underdog Seton Hall Pirates beat #1 UConn on the way to win the Big East Championship, and are now playing in the NCAA Regionals.