April 26, 2012

Albertans in the MLB... and minors

A post on Albertans in the MLB would be pretty short.    There are currently many Canadian stars in the MLB including Joey Votto,  Justin Morneau and Brett Lawrie, but there isn't a single player who hails from the Texas of Canada. In fact there haven't been too many Albertans who have played in the majors.  Chris Reitsma was the last man to appear in the show who came from Wild Rose country.

But below are a few local prospects to keep your eyes on:

Jim Henderson who is a Calgary native and was originally drafted by the Montreal Expos is pitching at AAA for the Nashville Sounds.  This is his second stint at AAA, having had prior experience there with the Iowa Cubs in 2008, before the Brewers organization promoted him to their AAA affiliate last year. Although a bit old to be considered a 'prospect' at age 29, he could be called up during the season and help out in Milwaukee's bullpen.

Also at AAA is 28 year old middle infielder Skyler Stromsmoe from Bow Island.  He is playing for the Giants' affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies.  He is a very versatile player, spending a lot of time at 2nd, short and 3rd as well as the outfield and has even pitched on a few occasions.  He led Canada to gold in the Pan Am Games last year, and was just promoted to AAA for the first time this season.

A litte further away at AA is catcher Lars Davis from Grande Prairie.  He is in the Rockies organization playing for the Tulsa Drillers.

Sheldon McDonald, a left-handed pitcher from Spruce Grove was drafted by the Cubs last year where he pitched for their rookie and low A affiliates.  He has started this season with a  promotion to Single A Peoria Chiefs.

There are also several players who will be playing in lower levels that haven't started their season yet.  I will update this post once those leagues get underway.

It's just a matter of time before the next player from Alberta is playing in the show.

April 21, 2012

RSN Watch party recap

It started off well enough.  But in the 2nd inning some idiot decided to tweet this from the bar:

"a short afternoon for Freddy Garcia". Doesn't get out of 2nd inning and we are on way to 7th consecutive RSN watch party victory. (*)

Well, apparently that angered the The Baseball Gods and we know how the game turned out.  No need to rehash it here.   But that doesn't mean that this group of 17 or so local Red Sox fans didn't have fun.

(*) We won all 6 last year.  Some blowouts, some come from behind, but they were all great games.  Here's a recap I wrote previously on them.

Below is a pictorial recap of the afternoon:

April 09, 2012

Baseball is AWESOME! - Gives you perspective

I haven't written an article in the ongoing Baseball is AWESOME series in a while.  But today as I watch the tribute to Tanner Craswell and Mitch MacLean during the Blue Jays home opener against the Red Sox, I am once again reminded why Baseball is indeed awesome.  For the past few days I have been discussing the problems with the Red Sox.  Holes in the lineup, not enough starting pitching, shaky bullpen, Bobby the 5th is an idiot... blah, blah, blah. And after last night's loss it only got worse.

But listening to the tragedy that befell these young players and their families, helps put everything in perspective.  We watch these games to entertain us. It's really not life and death.  What happened to these boys and their friend Tabitha Steeple, as well as Shanya Conway who survived the ordeal but has to live with what she witnessed the rest of her life, is.

It sometimes takes a meaningless baseball game to remind oneself what truly is and isn't important.

April 08, 2012

How to improve on perfection?

A year ago,  I thought at this time I might be writing a post with this title about the 162-0 Red Sox who swept their way to become 2011 World Series champions.  But that didn't quite happen as planned.  However, in the baseball world I did see something that I believed was about as close to perfect as possible.  That was Out of The Park Development's OOTP12 baseball game.  It was a very realistic simulation that included all the details of running a major league franchise.  "Best game ever", I proclaimed, and many others echoed that sentiment.  Well, I recently got my hands on this year's version of the game, OOTP 13, and incredibly IT'S EVEN BETTER!

Let me start by recapping what this game does, for those of you not familiar with sports simulation games.  This is not a flashy graphics arcade action console type game, where those with the quickest reflexes can win.  It is a game of wit and strategy.  You play not in the role of a batter facing a 90 MPH slider, but rather as a GM who gets to draft players, sign free agents and make trades.

April 05, 2012

Canada Cup and Talent ID camps scheduled

The 2012 Canada Cup Team Alberta ID Camp dates have been announced. This is for 16 and 17 year old players (born in 1995/96) and those selected from the ID Camps will have the opportunity to compete as Team Alberta at the Canada Cup in London, Ontario in August. Please look here for registration and other information.

Date City Time* Location Contact
22-Apr Medicine Hat 11:00am Athletic Park Lovell McDonell
23-Apr Lethbridge 5:30pm Spitz Stadium Aaron Lavorato
4-May Calgary 6:00pm Optimist Park Miki Kawahara
7-May Okotoks 5:30pm Seaman Stadium Brett Thomas
8-May Calgary 5:30pm Inland Park Dennis Odding
14-May Sherwood Park 5:30pm SAP #4 Curtis Denney
15-May Red Deer 5:30pm Edgar Park Terry Letkeman
22-May Edmonton 5:30pm Callingwood Park Dan Rude
29-May St. Albert 5:30pm Legion Memorial Park CJ Jayasekera
31-May Grande Prairie 5:30pm Evergreen Park Mona Turner
4-Jun Ft. McMurray 5:30pm Ron Morgan Park Lou Pote
7-Jun Elk Point 6:30pm Bassett Field Doug Bassett

* The registration process will begin 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start time and run for up to 3.5 hours.

As well, below are the locations and times for the Talent ID camps for13-15 year olds interested in trying out for the Alberta Summer Games. Please look here for registration and other information.

April 22ndMedicine Hat11:00amAthletic Park
April 23rdLethbridge 5:30pmSpitz Stadium
May 4thCalgary 6:00pm Optimist Park 
May 7thOkotoks 
5:30pm Seaman Stadium  
May 8thCalgary5:30pm Inland Park
May 14th Sherwood Park5:30pm Strathcona Athletic Park #1
May 15thRed Deer 5:30pm Edgar Park 
May 22ndEdmonton5:30pmCallingwood Park
May 29thSt. Albert5:30pm Legion Memorial
May 31stGrande Prairie 5:30pm Evergreen Park 
June 4thFt. McMurray 5:30pm Ron Morgan Park 
June 5thElk Point 6:00pm Basset Field 

The Mayans were right!

Could it get any worse?  Jon Lester doesn't give up a run through 6 2/3 innings. Ryan Sweeney gets a 2 out game tying triple in the 9th against last year's majors saves leader, and we still lose?
Yes, it can!
The two best pitchers we have that aren't on the DL or in the starting rotation combined to give up 3 hits, hit one batter and allow the winning run to score while only recording a single out in the bottom of the 9th.

April 04, 2012

Opening Day MLB Power Rankings and Predictions

It's Opening Day Eve! (You Seattle fans be quiet.  Oakland fans don't exist, so I'm not worried about hearing from them). Time for my first real power rankings of the year.

Last year when I started doing these I said I hated putting them in writing because they always look poor in retrospect.  But the flip side is that you can also look like a genius.  Either way it's fun to look back at them afterwards and see where your analysis went wrong and learn from that.

#1 - Texas - do you realize they were 1 strike away from winning the World Series while having a 2 run lead last year?  Twice!  Not even the cursed Red Sox ....... oh, never mind.

April 03, 2012

2012 Red Sox optimism

I am very excited about the upcoming season for the Red Sox.  Even more so than last year, and I think I may be in the minority.  (Although, not alone, as you can see from the responses of the other bloggers to share their opinions on the upcoming season at the Cardinal70 at bat blog.)

The main things fans seemed to be concerned about in the offseason were the change in management with the associated lack of making a big splash in the free agent market which has led to perceived shortcomings at starting pitching,  shortstop, corner outfielders and closer positions.  Let me address each of these and demonstrate why I don't believe any of these are legitimate concerns.

Fans clamored their disappointment that we ran "THE GREATEST GM IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD" and the "MOST BELOVED MANAGER EVAH" out of town.  No argument from me here.  However, let's not overestimate the impact that these positions have on the results on the field.  Theo Epstein was the genius wonderboy who made all the right moves to bring a championship to Boston after 86 long years.  But if Dave Roberts doesn't beat the throw to second, Theo becomes the man who traded Nomar for
some spare parts and would probably need to wear a bullet proof vest the rest of his life, lest he run into some angry members of Red Sox Nation.  He did made some great acquisitions - picking up Bill Mueller, David Ortiz and Bronson Arroyo from the scrap heap, signing Foulke and Schilling, but he also spent a lot of money and/or traded some good prospects for the likes of Brad Penny, John Smoltz, Eric Gagne, Wily Mo Pena, and many others who weren't large contributors.  And let's not forget Julio Lugo, Edgar Renteria or the panic re-acquisition of Doug Mirabelli.  I'm giving him a pass on Lackey and Crawford for at least few more years.   Anyhow, Dan Duquette brought us Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek, and he doesn't get much credit because the team didn't win under his watch.  In summary, I think Theo was (is?) a good GM, but Ben Cherington learned under his watch, and the impact of the GM change is negligible.

Strong showing for Alberta in Best of the West

Alberta sent four teams to the Best of the West 18U Invitational Tournament held in Kamloops, and had a very strong showing.   This is an annual invitational tournament that features the best teams in Western Canada.

In round-robin play, the Prairie Baseball Academy (PBA) from Lethbridge, went 3-0 to get the overall first seed in the playoffs, while the Okotoks Dawgs also went undefeated to secure the 2nd playoff spot.  Meanwhile Calgary's PBF Redbirds and the Vauxhall Jets went 2-1.  Vauxhall secured the 3rd playoff spot by winning their pod, while Calgary waited for the results of a Langley Blaze - White Rock Tritons match to see if all four teams in the playoffs would be from Alberta.  However, the Blaze won to finish with an identical 2-1 record and got the wildcard berth edging out the Redbirds on tiebreaker rules.

This left 3 out of 4 Alberta teams, and 1 of 8 BC teams playing for medals.  In total Alberta teams went 10-1 against teams from BC in round-robin play, as Calgary's lone loss was to Vauxhall.