Make Baseball Fun Again

Baseball fans were treated to an October playoff game in March as the Dominican Republic came back from five runs down in sixth inning to beat the United States seven to five in the World Baseball Classic.

Besides the classic comeback, there was something else I noticed that made the game even more special. It was the passion of the Dominican Republic fans before, during, and after the game.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports expressed this an article last night,  “(the passion) was evident Saturday night, when the largest crowd ever to see a baseball game at Marlins Park came equipped with hundreds of literal Banderas Dominicanas and drums and horns and whistles and the spirit of a tiny, poor, proud island nation ready to topple the one that created the game.”

All sorts of rules are being considered to speed up baseball games to appeal to younger fans.  Runners placed on second in extra innings, fewer pitching changes, and other rules would speed up a game, but maybe Major League Baseball should think in a different direction.

Imagine coming to Dodger Stadium with horns, drums, and whistles. cropped-dodgerstadiumbanner.jpg

Imagine celebrations of homers like Manny Machado, Nelson Cruz, and Starling Marte’s where the entire bench welcomed them at home plate.

Now imagine security taking away the horns, drums, and whistles upon entering the stadium since they would ruin the experience of other fans. Imagine MLB pitchers beaning the next batter for a home run celebration for showing them up, an unwritten rule of the game.

Baseball needs more bat flips from Jose Bautista and Yasiel Puig. Baseball needs more fans breaking into loud songs in unison.

Baseball is fun already for true fans, but it could try to be even more fun for future fans.

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Important Dates for Baseball Fans

cwl-logo-black-text-thumbnailBaseball in Palm Springs is ending soon as the California Winter League comes to a close on February 12th. In the week between the start of Major League baseball’s Arizona Cactus League, baseball fans should venture out to a college baseball ballpark.

Southern California boasts some of the best college baseball programs in the nation.  Below are the dates of opening day for local colleges.

USC– February 17 vs Coppin State2000px-interlocking_usc_logo-svg

UCLA– February 17 vs San Jose Stateucla_bruins_script_logo

Long Beach State– February 17 vs Oklahoma

Cal State Northridge– February 17 vs Portland

Cal State Fullerton– February 17 vs Stanford

2000px-csuf_titans_logo-svgUC Irvine– February 17 vs Minnesota

UC Riverside– February 17 vs Nebraska

College of the Desert– February 10 vs West LA

 

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National Bobblehead Day Should be Moved

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When the Dodgers promotional schedule comes out in the winter, I always circle bobblehead nights as games I must attend. Bobbleheads are awesome for man caves or offices. When people walk into my office, the most common thing they do is touch the #bobbleheads on my desk and watch the head nod up and down.
 
Celebrating these awesome toys is a great idea, but the organizers screwed up by making National Bobblehead Day in January. Bobbleheads are associated with baseball and baseball season starts in spring. The celebration should occur in April in association with the start of the baseball season. Baseball Antiques Bobbleheads Figures Vintage
 
I understand that not all bobbleheads are baseball related. I have Los Angeles Kings and Lakers bobbleheads along with my dozens of Dodgers bobbleheads. But I think the general public associates bobbleheads with baseball more than any other sport or activity.
 
Every team MLB team celebrates opening day, but why couldn’t the second or third day of the season be NationalBobbleheadDay?

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Who Starts in September?

How many starting pitchers can the Los Angeles Dodgers use in a single season and still be in contention for the playoffs?

6153882123_06f4913fc7_bThis is a question Dodgers President Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers front office are probably asking themselves right now as the team moves Clayton Kershaw to the 60 day disabled list and relatively unknown starting pitcher Brock Stewart is shelled against the Rockies.

If every pitcher is healthy, Friedman has the good problem of having too many quality starting pitchers.

In a perfect world, the Friedman and Manager Dave Roberts would have the following pitchers to choose from in September. Who should they choose to be in the five man starting rotation?

Clayton Kershaw

Kenta Maeda

Bud Norris

Scott Kazmir

Brandon McCarthy

Brock Stewart

Brett Anderson

Rich Hill

Hyun Jin Ryu

Julio Urias

Alex Wood

Jose DeLeon

Ross Stripling

Contracts aside, which of the above pitchers should round out the starting rotation in 2017?

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First Just the Scores Podcast

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Everyday Southern California sports fans drive to work, they are subjected to the same boring trade rumors and Johnny Manzel gossip on national radio.  National radio ignores Coachella Valley sports, so Reiff Media is introducing the short Just the Scores Podcast.  The goal is to give listeners what they way, a short podcast to update them on sports from the Coachella Valley, Inland Empire, and all over Southern California.

Below is the first Just the Scores Podcast from Reiff Media. More episodes will follow.

 

Future Leadoff Hitter?

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One of the young Cubans stars signed by the Dodgers is starting to shine in Rancho Cucamonga and could be the leadoff hitter of the future.

Five tool outfielder Yusniel Diaz is starting to show the skills the Dodgers thought were worth $15.5 million.

The 19 year old is hitting .300 in his last five games with two homeruns and nine RBIs after struggling early in the season.

According to Keith Law of ESPN, Diaz shows speed and the ability to hit to all fields. In spring training, he even saw Diaz single off of White Sox ace Chris Sale.8a02aeh3orl7bg7ovkzf

While Diaz only has one steal on the season, Diaz has used the speed to stretch two doubles into triples so far this season.  As Diaz matures and figures out the pickoff moves of California League pitchers, the steals are sure to increase.

Dave Roberts loves to play small ball and has done so far this year without a true leadoff hitter. Diaz could be his true leadoff hitter in a few years if he continues to progress in the Dodgers minor league system.

Just Hang Tight

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As spring training comes to an end, the rash of Dodger injuries continue.

The latest two injuries are to starting right fielder Yasiel Puig, who sat out Saturday’s game with tightness in his hamstring, and Scott Kazmir, who left his last start early with abdominal tightness.

injuries
Some injuries are more serious than others, but this is the most up to date list of Dodger injuries.

The rash of Dodgers injuries is getting out of hand and some pundits and fans are writing off the season.  But there is hope if the Dodgers can stay tight in the race until the middle of the season.

As teams in the pennant race make big moves to bring in weapons for the stretch run, the Dodgers will essentially be getting weapons for free as their own players come off of the disabled list.

Rather than trading prospects for big arms mid season, the Dodgers will get Hyun-jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy, and possibly Brett Anderson back. Rather than salvaging the farm for an offensive weapon, the Dodgers will be getting Andre Eithier back.

In the meantime, the Dodgers goal should be to stay within striking distance of the Giants and Diamondbacks until Ryu, McCarthy, Anderson, and Eithier come back. When those four players do come back, the Dodgers will be in good shape to take over the National League West and make a playoff run assuming they are not more than ten games back in the standings.

A Catcher as a Shortstop?

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Catching depth has been an area of concern in past seasons for the Los Angeles Dodgers. But a solid spring training from their top catching prospect ,on top of good springs by AJ Ellis and Yasmani Grandal, have put those concerns to rest.

Austin Barnes has been as hot as the Arizona weather with four home runs in 27 at bats to go along with a .310 average.

The Riverside Poly High School graduate was part of the Dee Gordon trade. He posted solid numbers in Oklahoma City with a .315 batting average and 9 homers. Known as a pitch framer, Barnes was rated as the second best defensive catcher at any level of baseball.

Austin is the nephew of former Angels infielder Mike Gallego and has used that lineage to become a second baseman on top of catching.

Barnes is fighting for a roster spot and his versatility might earn him that spot.austin_barnes_2015_triple-a_all-star_game

During his college days at Arizona State, Barnes played catcher, second base, third base, and a few games at shortstop.

With Corey Seager injured, could Barnes and his hot bat be a replacement for the starting shortstop?

The thought of your prototypical catcher making diving stops up the middle or turning a double play seems laughable, but Austin Barnes is not built like a prototypical slow catcher.

Barnes is fast stealing 12 bases last year at Oklahoma City and has shown he can be athletic enough up the middle to play second base in the major leagues.

Looking at the other options at shortstop and looking at spring statistics from Barnes, starting him at shortstop until Seager gets back is not that bad of an idea.

Aces in Rancho

When pitchers leave Camelback Ranch and report to the Dodgers or a minor league affiliate, there is a chance two young aces will be coming to Rancho Cucamonga.

Dodgers prospects Grant Holmes and Yadier Alvarez are on track to report to the high A California League affiliate this season.

Former first round draft pick Grant Holmes finished his first professional season with low A Great Lakes posting a 6-4 record with a 3.14 ERA.

The 19-year-old South Carolina native blew away older players with 117 strike outs in 103.1 innings, but some scouts are worried about his secondary pitches.

Whether 19-year-old Yadier Alvarez joins Holmes in Rancho Cucamonga is a big mystery.

While the high A California League makes sense, some people think he will land in short season leagues because of concerns about his durability and his lack of pitches outside of his 98 mph fastball.

The Dodgers spent $16,000,000 to sign the young Cuban flamethrower so it makes sense the team wants a fairly quick return on their investment meaning anything less than a stint with Great Lakes or Rancho Cucamonga would be a step back.

If both potential aces end up in the front end of the Rancho Cucamonga rotation, it could be a preview of a possible 2018 Dodger rotation that includes Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias, and Kenta Maeda.