January 26, 2013

Counting down the days

I can't wait!
Not for Opening Day...
Not for Spring Training...
Until the release of OOTP 14!

I just got an e-mail announcing that pre-orders for the latest version of this game have started.  I have previously written about this game (more than once),  and even though I haven't gotten my hands on this one yet (hence the counting down the days), I am very excited for this latest version.

First of all, it will feature the 2013 opening day rosters, so we can see right away if the changes the Red Sox made in the offseason will be enough to counter the improvements the Blue Jays made.

January 18, 2013

Former Professional Teams in Alberta

The other day I saw a Calgary Cannons card of Ryan Dempster, and that inspired me to write an article on my Red Sox blog about how many Red Sox players used to play in our Province.  In researching that I learned about a lot of teams that used to play here that I was unaware of.   I'm sure most people fondly remember the Cannons or Trappers, or even the Med Hat Blue Jays of the Pioneer League, but there have been many more Minor League and other semi-professional teams that have played in Alberta.  No less than 12 MLB franchises have had minor league affiliates here.  And there have been hundreds of stars who have played here including Alex Rodriguez (left - pictured batting for Calgary) and Hall of Famer Andre Dawson who started his professional career in Lethbridge.

Here are all the teams I found, listed with the name and level of their league and affiliation. If you are aware of other professional teams that have played in our Province, please let me know.

January 17, 2013

More Red Sox - Alberta connections

Ruben Lipszyc / BMC
If you're a semi-regular reader of this blog, you know I frequently mention Canadian associations to the Red Sox. Whether it's Jason Bay scoring a playoff series winning run, Eric Gagne closing out a Series win, or Kevin Youkilis hitting his first career home run in Toronto, there have been many Canadian connections to the Red Sox recently.  But connections specific to Alberta are a bit rarer.  Calgarian Chris Reitsma  was drafted in the 1st round, and a couple of years ago, the Sox drafted another player who played High School ball in the province, but otherwise there hasn't been a lot linking the Red Sox directly to Alberta.

But the other day as I was flipping through some old baseball cards, I came across a Kevin Millar and a Ryan Dempster (left) card in Calgary Cannons uniforms.  So that got me thinking, what other Red Sox (players and coaches) called Alberta home on the way to The Show (or were sent down after a playing in the Bigs)?  I did some quick research and came up with a fairly lengthy list.  From all-stars who were integral part of Red Sox teams, to part time players, who just made a brief stop in Fenway. My research was not exhaustive so I may have missed someone, and if so, please let me know in the comments below and I'll amend the post.

Without further ado, here is the list of former (and current!) Red Sox who played in Alberta.  I counted over 75 players including a Hall of Famer and several all-stars, and that's without any of these teams being affiliated to us!

Calgary Cannons (AAA - Pacific Coast League)
Mike Lowell
Kevin Millar
Ryan Dempster

January 16, 2013

Three Top Red Sox Players In Fantasy

As the baseball season nears, fans are starting to think about Fantasy Leagues.  Below is a guest article which focuses on Fantasy Baseball Red Sox players:

Most people outside of Boston might be down on the Red Sox in 2013, but there is plenty of talent still in Beantown. Fantasy owners will be eyeing a number of their every day players and pitchers, even if they lack that first or second round star. Here’s a look at when the right time is for a person to take three of their top players.

Dustin Pedroia
The second baseman for the Red Sox has been a steady producer for quite some time, so it is no surprise that he is the top fantasy baseball player heading into 2013. Last season, he posted solid overall numbers of 15 home runs, 65 RBI and 20 stolen bases to go with a .290 average. If he can stay healthy for an entire season, those numbers can go up even more. He is a top 30 overall fantasy baseball player heading into the year, and only Robinson Cano is better amongst second basemen.

Jacoby Ellsbury
When the outfielder is healthy, few provide the type of overall value Jacoby Ellsbury does. What hurts him is that he plays a loaded position where his numbers do not stand out as much. His numbers are pretty insignificant to talk about in 2013 since he missed so much time, but his 14 steals in limited action shows that his wheels are still there. He might be a bit of a risk, but he will probably last until the 35th-40th overall pick in most drafts. Amongst outfielders, he is in the 10th to 15th range.

Jon Lester
A guy who went 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA in 2012 might not seem like much of a reliable fantasy pitcher, but his track record and lack of other options make him the best pick out of the Red Sox. The left-hander had a terrible season by his standards last year, but at 29 years old, most of it could be corrected. Wins are out of his control to a degree, but when an ERA is near five, there is not much that can be done. He still strikes out enough guys that he will make a solid 4th or 5th starter on most fantasy squads.

January 05, 2013

Come see Goose Gossage or Brent Sutter and support local baseball

Once again, the Calgary Dinos will have a former MLB star who will be joining them at their baseball and fastball teams annual fundraising dinner.  Rich "Goose" Gossage has been announced as this year's keynote speaker.  As well, Brent Sutter will be the featured guest for Badland Baseball Academy's fundraiser.

Gossage is a Hall of Fame reliever, best remembered for his trademark Fu Manchu moustache and a blazing fastball. His resume includes helping the Yankees win a World Series in his first season in New York, and being only the second pitcher (after Rollie Fingers) to amass 300 career saves.  Aside from his time in New York, his storied career also took him through Chicago (both the North and South side), Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Texas, Oakland and Seattle on the way to Cooperstown.  After retiring he also wrote his memoirs in his very humorous autobiography "The Goose is Loose" and is sure to be an entertaining speaker at this event.

Brent Sutter is very well known to hockey fans in the area.  A native Albertan (from Viking), he played 18 seasons in the NHL before switching gears and becoming a very well regarded coach. Twice he led Team Canada to the World Junior Hockey Championship, and also won the Memorial Cup with Red Deer, as well as coaching in the NHL with New Jersey and Calgary.
Jeff McIntosh / Associated Press
The Dinos fundraising dinner featuring Goose Gossage will be held on Thursday January 31st at the Red & White Club at McMahon Stadium. To purchase tickets ($175) please call U of C Kinesiology Client Services at (403) 220-7749 and for more information on the event you can contact Mike Boyles at mboyles@ucalgary.ca or (403) 220-4413.

The Badgers Gala evening with Sutter will be on Wednesday January 30th. The reception starts at 5:30 followed by dinner and a silent and live auction.  Tickets are $75 and can be purchased by contacting the Academy Office at (403) 664-2200.

Both of these events promise to be very entertaining and are a great way to support local baseball.