Monday, May 11, 2009
Would the University of Iowa hire a Bobby Knight type of head coach? Will anyone ever see a Hawkeyes coach explode on the media like Oklahoma State football head coach Mike Gundy did? (click here to see tirade). It is highly doubtful.
Why? Because Athletic Director Gary Barta makes it a high priority to hire someone of good taste, who has the Iowa values instilled in them.
Look at any of the coaches at Iowa, especially football head coach Kirk Ferentz and basketball head coach Todd Lickliter. They always seem relaxed and composed no matter what is thrown at them. They simply don't make scenes or call attention to themselves and that is the way it should be.
Sure, it is fun to watch the Gundy tirade over and over again, or more recently when Jim Calhoun called out a reporter, or the countless Bobby Knight videos. But, that is not the kind of coach that anybody in the state of Iowa would want. They want the type of person that is down to earth and humble, not a guy like Steve Alford who was eventually pushed out of the state by Iowa supporters.
"That is a huge thing for Gary (having the Iowa values)," UI Associate Athletic Director Rick Klatt said. "This is a very special place to work, it is very unique. We are a small state. We (the Hawkeyes) are to the state of Iowa, that the Cowboys are to the state of Texas. It is just a very unique set of circumstances. It's important to put the round pegs into round holes and I think that he has done a really good job of that. There is no doubt that Gary places a high priority on Iowa values."
When vacant jobs come up, Barta throws together a committee to start doing research and put the pieces together. His committee usually consists of some administators, a few coaches from the department, and possibly one or two external people.
They talk about the values they are looking for, the expertise, and how that coach would fit into the program. They put some people into a pool and normally trim it down to two or three people to interview in person. But, they make numerous phone calls to coaches before that happens.
Barta defines the Iowa values as, "high values, believe in education, believe in doing things the right way, and they have to win."
"They need to be a proven winner, that is clear," Barta said. "They need to be committed to academics, and they need to be someone who likes Iowa and shares our values. They also need to be someone that I would like to work with every day, somebody that I trust, and somebody that I know is going to do things the right way. If they have all those things than I will consider hiring them, if they don't than I wont."
There are a lot of pieces to the coaching puzzle that the UI look for when hiring a new coach. But, from head volleyball coach, Sharon Dingman's experience, the interviewing process was excellent and well prepared.
"I thought it was tremendous," Dingman said. "I think that they were incredibly thorough in finding out about me, whether if it was through phone calls that they made previous to me even coming on campus. It was a very thorough process and that was very impressive to me. Clearly this was very important to them. That was another thing that showed me in the interview that they were serious about volleyball and want the program to do well here. They did a lot of homework beforehand when they interviewed me."
Barta made Dingman feel comfortable and right at home throughout the process and has loved every minute of being a Hawkeye.
"I was leaving Illinois State and an athletic director (Sheahon Zenger) that Ii really liked and I trusted and appreciated him. But, I feel all those same things with Gary. Gary does care about all the right things and that is really important to me. He cares about the student-athlete and the experience, but at the same time, he is very competitive and wants to win."
"He is very caring," Dingman added. "He cares about his coaches and about his student-athletes that wear the Hawkeye uniform. But at the same time, he is driven, driven by winning."
Dingman never had the expectation of Barta coming to all of their volleyball meets but he has come to several of them. She understands that it is during football season and that is the biggest sport-related priority at the UI. But, one way or another, someone from the Iowa administration is always in attendance at the home meets.
The calm and relaxing composure is simply the way Iowans are. They are down to earth, friendly people. These people don't want a hot-headed coach bringing unneccessary attention to one of their top schools. It just isn't in their nature and as long as Barta is running the show, guys like Ferentz or Lickliter will be the head hanchos. Their interviews may often be boring or dry, but that is just the way it's going to be, it is the right way to go for the state of Iowa.
Photo from the Iowa Foundation.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Welcome Rickie Weeks. You have finally arrived. Down by one against the Pirates heading into the ninth, the Crew put three players on base without an out. Jason Kendall, Craig Counsell, and Corey Hart all found ways to get on base. JJ Hardy's sac fly scored Kendall to tie the game. It was Weeks turn. The count went to 3-2 before the second baseman drilled one into the left field bleachers. Trevor Hoffman came in to close it out and again worked quick for already his fourth save since he came back from injury.
Photo From JSOnline.com
In tonight's lineup, Bill Hall, who has been sensational at third base this year and made several outstanding plays, will use one of Mike Cameron's gloves and play left field while Casey McGehee will take over for Hall at third.
Paul Maholm is pitching for the Pirates tonight, which is why Hall is taking left and McGehee at third. Manager Ken Macha likes the right-handed matchups better against Maholm. The Crew has two outfielders on the bench with Chris Duffy and Brad Nelson, but they are both left-handed.
The unnecessary large photo is from wordpress.com.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
It's official. The Milwaukee Brewers now own the Pittsburgh Pirates and have for some time now. With the 6-5 win over the Bucs last night, the Brewers have now made the Pirates their victims 14 straight times. It currently marks the longest MLB active win streak over one team.
The Brewers have also won 17 straight against the Pirates at Miller Park.
Trevor Hoffman earned his first save last night coming back from injury and helped the Crew improve to a .500 record at 10-10. They have won their last three series (Phillies, Astros, Pirates). Yovani Gallardo will try and help the Brewers sweep the Pirates today at noon.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
The Brew Crew started like the sausages right out of the gate, slow. But, they seemed to turn the corner and are putting it together with pitching and hitting. Plus, Trevor Hoffman's back. He pitched a quick ninth last night in a non-save chance. Ryan Braun is pounding the ball and Prince Fielder is starting to hit too. Jeff Suppan has pitched decently the past two games and Manny Parra even pitched alright in his last outing but was hit with the loss after a Weeks error allowed two runs. The only guy that really needs to get something going is surprisingly JJ Hardy.
St. Louis Cardinals are not going to be as good as they have been throughout the year. They will fade in the stretch just like they did last season. But, right now they are a dangerous team, one of the best. The Chicago Cubs are struggling and although early, seem to be beatable.
Dave Bush is on the mound tonight following his near no-hitter against Philadelphia. Bush will face Paul Maholm and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
NL CENTRAL STANDINGS:
1. Cardinals 14-6
2. Pirates 11-8
3. Reds 10-9
4. Cubs 9-9
5. Brewers 9-10
6. Astros 8-12
Friday, April 24, 2009
Redemption. Isn't it sweet? In all reality, the past is the past, but the present series win gets the Brewers right back on track after struggling the first few series of the year.
Ryan Braun played a big part in getting the Brewers back on that track with a monster series against the former World Series Champs, the Philadelphia Phillies. The left fielder who has struggled so far, broke out of his slump going 8 of 10 with six RBI, three home runs, and three base on balls which raised his average to .327.
The Brew Crew improved their record to 6-9 and are currently sitting 4.5 games back in the Central Division.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The Phillies are 5-6, the Brewers 4-8. Neither team is looking like a playoff contender. But, tonight will be a match up of last year's NLDS where the Phillies won the series 3-1. Each team is missing pieces. For the Phillies it is their struggling ace Cole Hamels, for the Brewers, well a lot of pieces are going wrong. Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Jason Kendall, and JJ Hardy all are struggling at the plate. The pitching has lacked and the Crew is missing closer Trevor Hoffman. But Hoffman will be back Sunday and it is only a matter of time before Brauny and Fielder start crushing the ball. Also, it is only a matter of time when Cole Hamels starts pitching well (he was my first pick for fantasy pitcher so he better). Both teams will turn it around and it should make for an interesting series none the less. It would be nice for the Brewers to get some revenge and get their season going starting tonight.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
The Brewers still cannot figure it out, but Yovani Gallardo is back on track after getting roughed up against Cincinnati. He had one bad inning against the Reds that spoiled his last outing and his team backed him up with six runs but that wasn't enough that time around. This time the Brewers hitting spoiled his gem. Gallardo pitched six innings of shutout ball and had 7 k's. Carlos Villanueva came in relief but a Rickie Weeks error scored the only run of the game for the New York Mets, who gave Johan Santana his second win of the season. There were no extra base hits in the game.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Sure, the Crew are off to a 3-6 start and have lost all three series (@ Giants, Cubs, Reds). But, hope lingers. Hey, I am a positive guy and know the talent on the Brewers. They played it close with the Cubs, even could have won the series if Reed Johnson hadn't caught Prince Fielder's grand slam. A few more timely hits could have given the Brewers all series wins, but that can happen when athletes are working out early season kinks. Fielder, Ryan Braun, and Jason Kendall have so far been in big slumps, but Rickie Weeks, Mike Cameron, and Billy Hall are all hitting the ball pretty well. It is only a matter of time before Fielder, Braun, and Kendall get their stuff together. The pitching will eventually get it together too and Braden Looper so far has been the best on the staff. Jeff Suppan is terrible, Yovani Gallardo has one bad inning that led to a loss, and Manny Parra pitched alright his last outing. Dave Bush has pitched solid but will get better over time as well. The Brewers will be fine, I don't think there are any disbelievers in that category that think the Crew will continue their struggles.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Jeff Suppan is terrible. I cringe every time he throws a pitch. The Brewers are starting to doubt his ability. I am not sure why they are starting to disbelieve in Suppan now- the guy was awful last year, but no Ken Macha wants a guy that gives up a ton of home runs and cannot find the strike zone to be the ace. What a joke. Anyways MLBTraderumors.com, ESPN and the Chicago Tribune have the Brewers considering a Jake Peavy trade or possibly picking up Pedro Martinez. Heck, why not trade for Peavy and pick up Martinez. Martinez would only cost $5 million. Pull the trigger right now- the Brewers after all paid Eric Gagne $10 million to blow a bunch of games for them last season. More on Peavy from the Chicago Tribune.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
The poor Montreal Expos. They sat with the best record in baseball in 1994 and had a strong case to win the World Series before the MLB canceled the season after the players went on strike. The work stoppage was the worst in professional sports, but baseball is back on track.
In 1994, the owners demanded a salary cap in response to the worsening financial situation in baseball. This was an act to help the small market teams but the players opposed. The strike was a complete mess without a commissioner at the helm.
The salary cap undoubtedly would help the small market teams out. But, with the recent past it is not necessary. The Tampa Bay Rays came out of last place to go to the World Series before being tripped up against the Philadelphia Phillies last season. They overcame the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees to win the division. The Yankees and Red Sox are two of the high rollers in the league.
Revenue-sharing would not be fair to the players who would have decreased salaries. There would be no chance of Alex Rodriguez or CC Sabathia's massive salaries.
Major League Baseball leader Donald Fehr believed that the salary cap was a way to help the owner's problems but there would be little benefits to the players side.
The tension between the owners and players continued to heat up before the players union ultimately decided to strike.
Small market teams are losing out on the big name free agents, but they are drafting the better players. Big name players want to go to the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Braves and so on because they have the most exposure around the country and usually can give them the best contract. That doesn't mean to say that the small market teams cannot compete for some free agents.
The Rays and Milwaukee Brewers are prime examples of using the draft as their means of competing. Almost the entire starting lineup for the Brewers are all of their draft picks in the past few years.
As a life long Brewers fan it is frustrating to see that the New York Yankees signed Sabathia to a 161 million dollar contract. Also during the off-season, they signed Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett to big deals. Oh and they already had the highest payroll in the league. A-Rod alone is almost making more money than the Florida Marlins roster. But, the highest payroll doesn't always mean that team will go to the playoffs or win the World Series, the Yankees are a prime example the last few seasons. Despite the discrepancy in pay for the Marlins, they still made a push to make the playoffs.
It is hard to talk about the MLB being in bad shape anymore as long as small market teams are still competing. Seems that players are getting offered larger contracts by the year so there are no complaints on the players side. The strike affected Major League Baseball for awhile, but it is all in the past now. Baseball is back.
Yovani Gallardo, only 23 years old, became the first pitcher to ever take future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson deep. It was a two-out, two-strike, three-run homerun to give the Brewers their first win of the season. Oh and he also pitched nicely for his first start: 6.2 IP, 6 hits, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K and picked up the W as the Crew won 4-2.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Following Peter on Family Guy when he was hired to do a segment on the news called, "What Grinds My Gears", here is my segment on "Who Grinds My Gears".
Jeff Suppan really grinds my gears. Manager Ken Macha has him fronting the rotation as the ace. What a terrible move. Ken Macha also is on this segment of who grinds my gears because he made the move. Let's take a look at how Suppan did yesterday afternoon to start the Brewers in the wrong direction. Here is his stats from yesterday: 4.0 innings, 6 runs, 6 earned runs, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR (of course, the guy always gives up a bomb). This is against the harmless Giants hitters (he even gave up a base hit to SF ace Tim Lincecum when he needed to get an out.)
I'll give Suppan the benefit of the doubt because it was the first game of the season. I think he will still get around 10-12 wins but that is not good enough as the Crew's ace, especially with future CY Young winner Yovani Gallardo in the rotation. Dave Bush should be at the front of the rotation (if Macha was smart and if the Brewers want to go with experience, (technically Gallardo should easily be the ace on the staff)). How is this guy making the most money on the Brewers roster. This is like the Roger Dorn situation in the movie Major League, "I thought you said we didn't have any high-priced talent?", "Forget about Dorn, he is just high priced."
For the aforementioned, this is why Jeff Suppan and Ken Macha are really grinding my gears.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Okay, so Spring Training doesn't mean much really. But, if anything, the young guys on the Brewers roster should have some confidence going into the season. The Brewers beat the Dodgers last night, 7-4, to push their record to 22-10. They finished second in the Cactus League but own the best record in the National League. I always think Spring Training means a little something and it shows that the Brewers have some good prospects. Last Spring Training Prince Fielder struggled and didn't really hit any homeruns. He didn't have his most productive year at the plate last year either for the Crew during the regular season. This Spring Training he has hit a few homers and batted well. So, we will see if the Brewers can go off their Spring Training momentum starting the season tomorrow.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Major League Baseball is soon to be underway and the anticipation is growing. Milwaukee lost two aces in the offseason; Ben Sheets and CC Sabathia. That is in the past, the Brewers are now looking to their future. That future hinges on young Yovani Gallardo staying healthy.
Milwaukee was able to secure the Wild Card position last season and it was their first playoff appearance since 1982. Sabathia more than anything was a key reason the Crew made the playoffs last season, but Milwaukee is poised to make another playoff run in 2009.
As long as Gallardo is healthy, the Brewers are just as dangerous as last season, if not more so. Gallardo did not see much time last season because he had a freak torn ACL injury. It is not an arm injury which is always good news. Guys that have arm injuries seem to be haunted the rest of their careers by it.
The rotation is yet to be set, but here is how it will look; Jeff Suppan, Yovani Gallardo, Manny Parra, Braden Looper, and Dave Bush.
Suppan is usually good for 10-plus wins. Parra pitched incredible for his first full season before falling off at the end of the season, but still posted 10 wins. Looper was an off-season acquisition and has posted 12-wins in each of the past two seasons. Bush has shown flashes of greatness and really came into his own during the final stretch last year. He won nine games last year and had 12 wins in each of the previous seasons before that. Finally, Gallardo has not seen a whole lot of time in the show but has already shown that he will be a future CY Young candidate. I personally believe he will be a candidate this year. The guy can do everything from pitching to hitting. He is a workhorse. Gallardo was not supposed to be back last season or playoffs. Not even close because of his injury. He trained so hard to make it back that he started the playoffs for the Brewers.
Imagine if the Brewers had a healthy Ben Sheets and Yovani Gallardo the entire season to go along with the CC Sabathia trade at midseason. Holy God that rotation would have been ridiculous. But, Ben Sheets is always injured and he will be out the entire year this year. Gallardo (who is much better and shouldn’t be injury prone) will basically take over for him and the Brewers will have a better rotation with the addition of Looper.The pitching staff and the rotation in my opinion are just as good if not better going into the season than they were going into last season (well if Gallardo would have been hurt anyway, which he was pretty soon into the season). I think Milwaukee has a good shot at 85-90 wins this year, if healthy.
Photo: Courtesy of JSOnline.com
I am a huge fan of Tony Gwynn Jr.. I think he has tremendous talent and will be a great player. So, needless to say, I was a bit sad when the Brewers had to put him on waivers. To my luck, nobody claimed him and the Brew Crew were able to send him to Nashville. I think eventually he will be starting in Milwaukee's outfield. More on Gwynn heading back to the minors.
Photo: Courtesy of JSOnline.com
Sunday, March 29, 2009
I had an ESPN draft the other night with nine other guys. Here's my team and their projected 2009 statistics (the Downtown NooJ):
Cole Hamels (Phillies): 15-11, 182 K, 3.24 ERA
Yovani Gallardo (Brewers): 15-9, 187 K, 3.40 ERA
Scott Kazmir (Rays): 12-8, 182 K, 3.48 ERA
Matt Cain (Giants): 11-11, 177 K, 3.65 ERA
Manny Parra (Brewers): 12-11, 162 K, 4.25 ERA
Wandy Rodriguez (Astros): 11-11, 169 K, 4.14 ERA
Relief Pitchers (closers):
Brian Fuentes (Angels): 4-3, 32 Saves (should be more with the Angels), 73 K, 3.14 ERA
Chad Qualls (Diamondbacks): 4-3, 32 Saves, 55 K, 3.52 ERA
C- Brian McCann (Braves): .299 avg., 63 runs, 22 HR, 89 RBI, 3 SB
1B- Albert Pujols (Cards): .346 avg., 107 runs, 40 HR, 124 RBI, 6 SB
2B- Brandon Phillips (Reds): .272 avg., 87 runs, 24 HR, 84 RBI, 27 SB
3B- Garrett Atkins (Rockies): .292 avg., 86 runs, 21 HR, 100 RBI, 2 SB
SS- Derek Jeter (Yankees): .303 avg., 96 runs, 12 HR, 74 RBI, 15 SB
Manny Ramirez (Dodgers): .317 avg., 93 runs, 32 HR, 108 RBI, 2 SB
Corey Hart (Brewers): .274 avg., 75 runs, 20 HR, 83 RBI, 21 SB
Ryan Ludwick (Cards): .279 avg., 87 runs, 29 HR, 92 RBI, 3 SB
DH- Jim Thome (White Sox): .257 avg., 92 runs, 35 HR, 94 RBI, 1 SB
3B- Chone Figgins (Angels): .283 avg., 90 runs, 4 HR, 48 RBI, 44 SB
3B, 2B, OF- Mark DeRosa (Indians): .288 avg., 90 runs, 17 HR, 81 RBI, 4 SB
OF- Justin Upton (Diamondbacks): .267 avg., 82 runs, 26 HR, 62 RBI, 7 SB
C- Bengie Molina (Giants): .273 avg., 42 runs, 14 HR, 75 RBI, 0 SB
Should be a good year for my fantasy team!
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Some players are out of options, some players have options but are performing better in Spring Training than the players out of options. So, what are the Brewers going to do?
Here's what the Brewers' official website has as the 25-man roster:
Starting pitchers: Jeff Suppan, Yovani Gallardo, Manny Parra, Braden Looper, and Dave Bush
Relief pitching: (Trevor Hoffman will start the season on the DL), Todd Coffey, Mark DeFelice, Jorge Julio, Seth McClung, David Riske, Carlos Villanueva, and Mitch Stetter. Once Hoffman comes back, either Julio or DeFelice will head to Triple-A Nashville. Hoffman should not be on the DL for long.
Infield: Craig Counsell, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Bill Hall, Mike Lamb, and J.J. Hardy.
Catchers: Jason Kendall and Mike Rivera.
Outfield: Ryan Braun, Mike Cameron, Corey Hart, Tony Gwynn Jr., and Brad Nelson.
The debate on who to keep and who to send down: Casey McGehee, Gwynn Jr., Nelson, Lamb, and Chris Duffy.
McGehee has been dominate in Spring Training but Lamb is out of options. McGehee is still young and would benefit starting in Nashville. He has hit .373 in 47 at-bats, five homeruns, and 13-RBI. Lamb is a solid veteran player and the Brewers are getting him for cheap: 400,000 of his three million dollar contract. The Twins released him and have to pay the rest of that contract. The thing is, McGehee is a great fielder and is versatile in the field. His natural position is third base, but he can also play first, second, outfield, and catcher. The Brewers already have Counsell who also excels in different positions so they can get by without McGehee. If Lamb cannot produce than the Brewers can release him and bring up McGehee.
Gwynn Jr. and Nelson will most likely make the team because they are out of options. They both have a lot of talent. Nelson has hit the ball really well in Spring Training. Gwynn hasn't but has been limited by an injury for most of the preseason. Duffy has been one of the best hitters but can go to the minors because he still has options. I don't think the Brewers want to give up on Gwynn or Nelson, nor do I.
Side note: Villanueva will fill in to be the closer for Hoffman. The Crew cut ties with Trot Nixon as well.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Brewers need a few players to really step up their games and play to their potential. Here's my picks for the players that will be the unsung heroes and the players that need to step up their game for the Crew to make it to their second straight postseason:
Players that need to step up:
1. Rickie Weeks. He will more than likely be the lead-off hitter. He has tremendous potential but is inconsistent. He'll be a free agent and needs to have a breakout season. As the lead-off role, he needs to get his average up. He does a great job of getting on base (.342 OBP last season), but needs to produce more hits (.234 BA last year).
2. Bill Hall. He strikes out way too much. Like Weeks, he could be a great player. He has proven to be a great player (i.e. 2005 he hit .290 avg., 2006 he hit for a .270 average, 35 homeruns, 85 RBI & four triples) but he has fallen off the past two seasons (2007 he hit .254, 14 HR, 63 RBI and in 2008: .225, 15 HR, 55 RBI). He was moving around to different positions the past few seasons and that could have had effects on his batting. I think he will have a much better season this year with staying put at third base. Not that Spring Training is any measure of how a player will do during a season, but Hall has batted very well in the spring and is currently hitting .333. He needs to keep his K's down and start stroking the long ball more often.
3. The entire team needs to start hitting better with men on base. They have an incredible lineup but need to start hitting for clutch especially with the losses of CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets. They need to bail out their pitching.
4. Jeff Suppan. He is not a strikeout threat. When he was with the Cards, he was a ground ball pitcher. Now he gives up a ton of homeruns. He needs to keep the ball down and get more ground outs. He will most likely be the ace on the staff and needs to act like an ace (even though clearly Yovani Gallardo and Manny Parra are the best pitchers on the team). For the Brew Crew to be successful, he needs to have close to 15 wins on the season and be around a low four-point ERA.
Unsung Heroes this year:
1. J.J. Hardy. Should be in the number two hole and I think he will have a breakout season. He has already shown that he is a great hitter and is a strong defender. He is one of the most underrated shortstops in the game. He has put up a monster Spring Training and I think it will continue into the season. He has hit .423 so far in the preseason.
2. Craig Counsell. He will be the top player off the bench because of his versatility in the field. He will get the most playing time and is a great option off the bench. He also adds the veteran leadership and scored the winning run of the World Series back when Arizona won it. He has been there which is a much needed player with a young team. He will keep them grounded.
3. Seth McClung. I believe he will be the setup man for the Crew. Trevor Hoffman will be out for at least the first week of the season and McClung will take his duties. I really like McClung and think he will flourish in these roles. He is hard throwing and can dominate in just one inning of work for that role. He will be very valuable to the team. If Brewers wouldn't have had so many blown games last year they would have overtaken the Cubs easily for first in the division. The duo of McClung/Hoffman will help the Crew get to the postseason.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Baseball was born in the United States. Yet, America cannot find the muscle to win world competitions. Is it lack of talent? Is it the lack of team cohesion? Or is it that the players just don’t care?
So, what’s the solution?
Recall the miracle on ice. USA defeated the unbeatable Red Machine from the USSR. The USA consisted of a passionate coach and college-age players. They wanted it.
Think American hotdog competitive eater Joey Chestnut. He beat the unstoppable Takeru Kobayashi. It deemed similar to the iceberg that took down the unsinkable Titanic. It was thought to be impossible.
America has the talent in every area, but it is the want in the athlete. They have to want to win.
USA basketball finally pulled a championship out in the past Olympics. Why? Because the players finally started giving a damn. They had the best players from the NBA. They had a college coach who cared if they won. So why should baseball be any different?
World baseball competitions have been friendly to very few. Japan, Cuba, and South Korea are always the best. The world event simply does not matter. Japan won back-to-back World Baseball Classics. They are the only team who has won the Classic. In 2006, USA did not place. In 2009, USA took fourth. Simply pathetic with the amount of talent on their team.
In 2000, minor league players in American went to the Olympics. Tommy Lasorda was named the manager of team USA. He managed them all the way to the title game. He put Milwaukee Brewers prospect (at the time) Ben Sheets on the mound against Cuba for the world title. Cuba was heavily favored in the championship vs. team USA. Sheets game out and pitched a gem. He pitched a three-hit complete game shutout to take the gold. Like USA and Duke Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, Lasorda cared about winning. After the win, Lasorda celebrated and said, “This is bigger than the World Series.”
Players need to put international competitions up on a pedestal like Lasorda did. They highly regard winning the World Series as they should. But, what is better than knowing you are the best in the world?
In 1980, the USA team went up against a hockey giant in the USSR. They won with college players. The US of A baseball team won gold in the Olympics with minor leaguers. Professional egos clash when they are together. Team USA looked like they got along pretty well during this year's WBC. But, they flat-out don't care if they win. It is more important that they remain healthy for their team. Minor leaguers not only want to get their name out there but they want to show their respective teams how much they deserve a shot to go pro. They are more about the team at their ages and for the most part do not have an ego because they are rookies.
America has so many of the world’s best baseball players. They have so much minor league talent. The minor leaguers have a lot to offer. Yet, a majority of fans will only watch the big name players. So, here’s the deal; put big names with small names. Mix and match. The eagerness of the minor leaguers may send them to a championship. It has worked for team USA in both hockey and baseball, but they go back to they system of putting the professional's out there. They need more team cohesion and that will be provided with less ego's and more love for the game.
America is the land of opportunity. It is time for the USA to give themselves an opportunity. The economy is hurting and people are looking for any sense of national pride. Ballplayers need to start caring about the name USA on the front of their uniforms and not the name on the back. American's created this game. They marketed this game. They need to start working harder to show why America is the best place to play baseball.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
They may be 15-16 overall with a 5-13 Big Ten Conference record and the 10th seed, but that won't keep the Hawkeyes from believing they can make a run. After all they have come down to the wire with every Big Ten team they have faced.
“I have season tickets and despite their record, I have been really impressed with the way Iowa has played this year,” UI senior Sarah Nordquist said. “I loved watching them play and think they have shown a lot of heart this year.”
The Big Ten has been filled with parody this season, so why not make the tournament up for grabs? Forget the records, forget the seedings, whoever wins the Big Ten Tournament gets an automatic invite to the NCAA Tournament.
All 11 seeds will be fighting for their post-season lives. Teams like Iowa can be very dangerous, because they have nothing to lose. Their season is supposed to end after a first-round exit in the Big Ten Tournament right? Well it is all up to the Hawkeyes to determine their fate and for guys like senior Cyrus Tate, it is their last chance for the post-season.
UI students believe that Michigan State is the class of the Big Ten but they believe it is anybodies tournament to win this year.
So why can't Iowa win it? Look at their last six games (after Jake Kelly took over for injured point guard Jeff Peterson). They came down to the wire with all six teams. They have also won all three of the overtime games they have played. Two of the overtime games they shot 100 percent from the field.
Their last six games:
vs. Purdue, Lost 49-45
vs. Michigan, won in overtime, 70-60
@ Michigan State, lost 62-54
@ Northwestern, lost 55-49
vs. Ohio State, lost 60-58 (Jermain Davis' three-point attempt rimmed out as time expired)
vs. Penn State, won 75-67 in double overtime
“They are too inexperienced and streaky to win a game,” UI senior Matt Rome said. “I like what Jake Kelly has done in the last six games, taking over for Jeff Peterson. They have been in a lot of ball games but just can’t seem to get over the hump.”
The Hawkeyes have one added advantage; Jake Kelly, who has been one of the hottest players in the Big Ten since taking over at point guard, is from Indiana and has played many times inside the Conseco Fieldhouse. He undoubtedly will have his fans there and could have a huge Big Ten Tournament.
It could be quite interesting if the Hawkeyes, way below .500 in the Big Ten, make it to the NCAA Tournament. It would be a fitting end to the Big Ten parody of 2008-09 season.
“The Hawkeyes may not have won many Big Ten games this season, but they are a lot of fun to watch,” UI junior Scott Crowley said. “I would give us a shot to win the Big Ten Tournament this season. I really think everyone except Indiana has a shot at winning the tournament this year.”
They set their sights on Michigan, who they have already beat this season. Michigan has come on of late and is setting their sights on the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA selection committee will not look favorably on a team that lost to the Hawkeyes twice and had a first-round exit in the Big Ten Tournament. It has all the makings and drama of a first-round NCAA March Madness game and will be an interesting battle to say the least.
“We beat Michigan in overtime a few games ago,” UI junior Kevin Judge said. “I don’t see us beating them again because Michigan has hopes of making it to the (NCAA) tourney and needs to win at least one or two games to raise them above the bubble teams. I think it will be a close game but we’ll come up on the short end.”
I think we have a good chance of doing some damage or at least mixing things up a bit," UI sophomore Ryan Rockaforte said. "If we can keep things close with Michigan, we should be in good shape. We have been coming on strong the past few weeks, so hopefully it will keep going."
Bubba story: Sarah Nordquist, Scott Crowley, Dan Lewis, Matt Rome, Ryan Rockaforte, Kevin Judge, Rich Zawistowski.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Growing up I had two favorite NFL teams, the Packers and the Bears. I liked the Packers a lot more (my great-grandfather was one of the founders of the Packers) but I liked the Bears because mainly I was a little kid and really liked the animal. That changed the day I went to Soldier Field to see the Packers play the Bears. My dad, brother, uncles, and cousins were all walking in the game when a kid my age (about five or six) yelled, "Go Packers, we're gonna beat the Bears!". A huge portly Bears fan ran up to the kid and spit in his face. Needless to say he was immediately arrested. I was terrified the rest of the day in Chicago. Go figure that I now hate the Bears...
Why can't Chicago fans accept two teams?
This ties into both Iowa and Illinois people. Hawkeye fans hate the Cyclones. Cyclone fans hate the Hawkeyes. Cub fans hate the White Sox. White Sox fans hate the Cubs. Marquette fans like Wisconsin, Wisconsin in return likes Marquette- which is how it should be. My cousin, Mark, from Milwaukee once asked me, "why do Iowa and Iowa State fans hate each other? They both represent the state." I started thinking about it and can't answer that question. Obviously you are going to have more ties with one school than the other and you will cheer for that team when they play each other. But, how Iowa and Iowa State do, in a way, reflects the state of Iowa either way. So, why have such a bitter rivalry? I cheer for the three other big-four schools in Iowa- ISU, Drake and UNI and want them all to do well. The state of Iowa has no professional teams and rarely gets press especially with sports, so why would we want one of the big-four schools to do bad? Someone has to represent the state. I gave the Iowa example because I really don't know a whole lot on the White Sox/ Cubs rivalry, but I do know it is bitter. But, they aren't even in the same league, so who says you can't cheer for both teams except when they play each other?
Let's go back to da' Bears. Chicago fans can be very obnoxious.
Last season, the NFL Network hosted the Green Bay-Dallas game. It was a huge game with both teams running away with their respective divisions. I went to enjoy a fun night of drinking with my friends and watching my favorite team on the big screen. Except the whole bar was full of jerks. I had my Packers hat on and drunken Bears fans kept coming up to me and giving me crap about how much they hated the Packers. Every time Dallas made a good play, the bar erupted with clapping and screaming. The Packers were going to easily win the division (which they did and Bears were in third place) and they ruined the night. Bears fans kept making fun of the Packers that they just lost to the Cowboys and giving me crap (which I responded; guy, your in third place and the season is coming to an end, give it up). They were screaming nonsense the entire night and it was over the top and completely annoying.
Chicago fans are loyal but bad winners and even worse losers.
If my team (the Brewers, Packers, Bucks, Hawkeyes, Badgers, Marquette) doesn't make the postseason, I normally cheer for whoever is in their conference. When Kerry Wood and Mark Prior were in their primes, I enjoyed watching the Cubs. I am from Des Moines where the Triple A Iowa Cubs are located. I had nothing against the Cubs at that point. When they made the playoffs I rooted hard for them because they are in the Central Division with the Brew Crew. When I came to the University of Iowa, that changed my mind in ever cheering for any Chicago teams again. Last year was a case in point; Cubs ran away with the division. Brewers picked up the Wild Card birth. Cubs fans that knew I am such a big Brewers fan text me to tell me how much the Brewers would stink it up in the postseason. Experts all year had picked the Cubs to win the World Series which I made fun of all year. Cubs aren't that good of a team. I lost all respect for ESPN's John Kruk who continually pegged the Cubs to win the WS and one of his only reasons for it was because it was the 100th year since the Cubs had won a WS. I had said all year that the Cubs won't survive out of the first round and even if they make it to the WS, they will get crushed by an AL team. Cubs fans were grinning like idiots all year and trash talking me. I am not a trash talker but if someone is going to be a jerk about something I am not afraid to argue with them. There is no sense in arguing because you aren't going to change how they feel. I got a bunch of texts from friends saying how the Brewers lost the first round and they'll never be in it again. Then the Cubs got swept by the Dodgers and every Cubs fan in the world was silent and depressed. That was a glorious day! I text my friends back and had a few things to say to them. Cubs were swept two seasons in a row while the Crew lost to the eventual World Series Champions, Phillies, 3-1. Oh and the Cubs had home field advantage. So many Cubs fans I talked to said that they were done cheering for the Cubs, they're never going to win it. The Brewers had just lost at that point and it may be a while before they get back in the playoffs but I was just thrilled that we made it there. The fact that people were saying they were giving up on the Cubs was incredibly fair-weathered. I even told them there's next year, which most likely Cubs should win the division again this year. Just incredibly fair-weathered.
The Steve Bartman fiasco.
Cubs fans blamed not making it to the World Series because a guy caught a foul ball that Moises Alou may have been able to catch. That is when my hate for the Cubs was at an all-time high. Put yourself in Bartman's shoes- a ball is coming towards you- you reach out for it and grab it. It is just reflex to do that. They pinned that entire series on Bartman even though the Cubs made some errors and just couldn't get it done. He had to change his identity from that point on. I have never felt so bad for anybody in my entire life. Simply pathetic!
Everyone's a Chicago fan in the state of Iowa.
Okay well there is good reason for that. There's the Iowa Cubs and Chicago is relatively close. But, I can't stand seeing and hearing so much about the Cubs. Aren't there any White Sox fans out there? Because if there are, I don't see them. I have met more Brewers fans than White Sox at the UI. The main reason that there are so many Cubs fans here is because of WGN. But, I have to say I am a fan of WGN because I get to see at least a few Brewers games a year. I can't escape the Cubs either, even when I walk into the mall looking for Brewers stuff, all I see is mounds of Cubs merchandise in the baseball section with three crappy Brewers shirts (for good reason, I may be there only buyer in Iowa City or Des Moines). Why can't we be a little more diverse and cheer for teams like the Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, White Sox etc. All of these cities are pretty close to the state of Iowa... But, I guess people just don't like to go against the curve with baseball. I see plenty of Packers, Vikings, and Chiefs fans around Iowa.
I don't hate Chicago people. In fact, I really like them. I have family from there, my brother lived there for awhile and overall I think they are good people. My girlfriend of three years is a huge Cubs fan and I have tried to like them because of her and she has also taken a liking to the Brewers (even went to the home opener last year with me). But, it's hard when they are in a pennant race together. I ran the past Chicago Marathon and the people there were so nice and really rooted me on the whole way. I think it is great the amount of people that go cheer on runners every year. I don't by any means think that Chicago fans are bad fans. They are extremely loyal- I should know they have Wrigley North in Miller Park. They still love the Cubs even after 100 years of losing. But, I think they are very arrogant and can trash talk a little bit too much. This is just a generalization. I have talked with other sports fans and all of them agreed with the stuff I said. Don't take it personally, it is just a generalization and not true with everyone.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Here's my 25-man roster for the Brewers this season if I were manager Ken Macha: (without injuries)
1. Yovani Gallardo
2. Braden Looper
3. Manny Parra
4. Dave Bush
5. Jeff Suppan
-Carlos Villanueva (6)
-Chris Capuano (once he comes back from injury) (6)- he doesn't count right now until he is completely healthy.
-David Riske (7)
-Mitch Stetter (8)
-Todd Coffey (9)- I would send Coffey down to the minors when Cappy sees some time with Nashville and is proven to be ready for the Crew.
-Jorge Julio (10)
-Seth McClung (throws the heat and could flourish in this role) (11)
If someone in rotation is hurt, I would put Jorge Julio as the setup man. If that happens I would start looking to trade someone and get a better setup reliever though.
-I am not a fan of having a set- setup man. I could see the Brewers naming their setup man but with the team they have, substituting different pitchers for different situations.
-Trevor Hoffman (12)
1. Rickie Weeks 2B (13)
2. J.J. Hardy SS (14)
3. Ryan Braun LF (15)
4. Prince Fielder 1B (16)
5. Corey Hart LF (17)
6. Mike Cameron CF (18)
7. Billy Hall 3B (19)
8. Jason Kendall C (20)
-Craig Counsell- Infield-(21) will see the most time off the bench because he is such a role player.
-Tony Gwynn Jr.*- Outfield- (22) Brewers need to keep him, I don't care if he has a slight injury right now or not. Otherwise he is out of options and we have to trade him or put him through the wire. He will be our starting center fielder next year.
-I would love to see Mat Gamel*- 3B, but his defense still needs a lot of improvement. One more year starting in the minors and he will be a tremendous player. So no Gamel yet.
-Mike Lamb- 3B (23)
-Alcides Escobar*- SS- like Gamel, I would love to see Escobar on the bench but he needs to play every day. I believe he will be starting in 2010. 2010 will be an exciting year because the infield will more than likely have a different look to it. Gamel will be at third, Escobar at shortstop, Hardy will move to 2B, and Prince will remain at 1B. Weeks will head to the OF, taking over for Cameron, since Gwynn Jr. will likely be headed somewhere else.
-Mike Rivera- C- (24)- great backup catcher.
-Last spot is a tough one to call. It is between Brad Nelson, Chris Duffy, and Trot Nixon. They all have serious consideration from the Brewers. My decision would be to take Duffy and see how Nelson fairs with Nashville. Nelson's having a good Spring Training right now but so is Duffy. I'll take Duffy for the experience. Nixon is a solid defender but I have to have a bench that can stroke the ball and Nixon isn't even cutting it in Spring Training.
-So Duffy- OF (25)
Photo: Courtesy of JSOnline.com
Friday, March 6, 2009
Bad News: Tony Gwynn Jr. has been injured for most of Spring Training with an injured shoulder. He received a cortisone shot in the shoulder and assistant manager Gord Ash said that he will likely see time in a few days. But, the bad news is that off-season acquisitions, Trot Nixon and Chris Duffy are playing well and will more than likely make the team. Brad Nelson is playing really well and I could see him making the team this year. Gwynn Jr. is out of options and will have to be traded or put on waivers if he doesn't make the team. He is a tremendous player but has had some injury problems. If I were the Brewers I would put him on the team and move Nixon or Duffy down to Nashville. I really like him and I know in a year or two he is a likely starter that would be a dangerous leadoff man.
The Good News: Looks like Eric Gagne won't be dressing up as a Brewer this season. He may have surgery on his shoulder or get a corisone shot and go through rehab. Either way, it is unlikely for Gagne to make the team!! Thank the dear Lord. Watching him pitch is painful and I don't think he went more than one or two innings last season without at least giving up a hit, and most of the time some runs.
Here in Cleveland? I didn't know they still had a team? Yeah we have uniforms and everything, it's really great.- Major League
Brewers plowed the Indians, 17-7, on Friday afternoon. They were able to get to Cliff Lee early for two runs, on their way to 17 runs on 18 hits. Mat Gamel was the only Brewer to hit a homerun, a three run shot in the ninth inning off of former Brewer Tomo Ohka. Lorenzo Cain, Brad Nelson, and Gamel each had three ribbies for the Crew. Dave Bush picked up the win. Recap
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Yovani Gallardo pitched three innings on Tuesday, giving up one hit, and had five strikeouts. Every baseball fan in the world is going to know who Gallardo is after this season. Manager Ken Macha needs to scratch his idea of having Gallardo go number two in the rotation until the All-Star break and just give him the ace tag. He's the kind of guy that will be fine under pressure and to be honest, after opening day, what does it matter if he is the number one pitcher or not besides that he may pitch more games? I just want him to get the Crew off to a good start. Plus the guy is a great hitting pitcher.
Braden Looper, recently required via free agency, may miss a few games of the regular season with a rib cage injury. Looper said he feels good but the Brewers are playing conservative and being careful with the injury. More than likely he wouldn't miss more than one or two starts. Seth McClung would fill in for Looper if he does in fact have to go on the DL. McClung is a great option to come in and pitch. More on this story.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Sunday, March 1, 2009
On Sunday the Giants defeated the Brewers, 5-2. Dave Bush pitched two scoreless innings in the start but Joe Bateman had a blown save, giving up three runs and took the loss. Hardy had two RBI for the Crew. The Brewers record falls to 2-2-1 during Spring Training.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
I could not be more displeased with the rotation for Spring Training. It is not so much of what it is in Spring Training, it is the fact that this could probably be the rotation when the regular season begins.
Macha couldn't be more off on this rotation (I could care less if this is the Spring Training rotation, but I am worried it will be the regular season). Macha did emphasize that he does not mean they will line up like that in the regular season.
First off, Suppan is awful and will only do well as the fifth person in the rotation. Bush is much better than a No. 5, Looper should be the No. 1. I agree with having Gallardo as the No. 2 until the All-Star break. Although, he is clearly the Brew Crew's ace and should probably just be the ace right away. I would move Parra down one spot to No. 4 and put Bush as the No. 3. Having Suppan as our ace is a disaster in the making. The man can't keep the ball in the park and pitches well about one of every five games. I like him as the No. 5 but nothing more than that.
Photo: Courtesy of JSOnline.com
Sunday, February 22, 2009
The Milwaukee Brewers by far have one of the best (if not the best) chemistry's in the MLB. The crop of youth in Milwaukee has played years of baseball with each other- Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, JJ Hardy, Yovani Gallardo, Manny Parra, Tony Gwynn Jr. etc. These guys are all around the same ages. They have tremendous chemistry and enjoy playing with one another. Where other teams bring in new talent every year like the Yankees and Red Sox, the Brew Crew bring em' through the Minors. Talent has a lot to do with making a pennant run but it doesn't mean everything (look at Tampa Bay coming out of the woodworks last year). Guys that can play with each other and have smaller egos are going to work better with each other and have more fun playing. Talent isn't everything (look at last year's Yankees. I am going to go out on a limb, but I think it will be the same for this year's Yankees- they will make it to the playoffs but won't make it far.)
The Brewers made a big step last year as the Wild Card team, but will chemistry and a heap of talent finally take them to a Division pennant? My answer is no unless the Cubs completely fall apart. But, I love watching how much fun they have playing together. I just don't think the pitching will be strong enough to put it all together to take first place. I still give them second place and think the Brewers offense will have a break-out season. They are a legit candidate at another Wild Card birth especially if Capuano comes back around June 1.
Photo: Courtesy of JSOnline.com
Prince Fielder came into camp noticeably slimmer after receiving a new contract. The Brewers said he is much more cheerful and easy-going after dropping the weight and with his new two-year contract. He vows to keep off the weight in 2009. It is unknown how much he weighs right now because he doesn't like scales. Video and article of Fielder here.
I'm feeling pretty good about Prince this year. I think having some economic security right now will help Fielder concentrate on only baseball. He said that he has been very happy. I think his stats will translate into what he did his rookie year.
Photo: Courtesy of JSOnline.com
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Jason Kendall may see more bench time this season. Kendall led the Majors with 149 starts last season at catcher. Skipper Ken Macha would like to have backup Mike Rivera start at least once every time through the rotation. He does not want Kendall slowing down at the end of the season.
I think this would be a great idea for the Brewers to put Rivera in the lineup more. Rivera is a solid catcher who should have seen more time last year, especially when Kendall's numbers started to drop off. Kendall won't be happy to see any bench time but that is Macha's decision. Rivera batted .306 with 14 RBI in 62 at-bats.
I am starting to love Macha who has already made a few decisions that I wanted to see done last year. Former manager Ned Yost was not a good coach, putting pitchers in at the wrong time and never really vocalizing with his players to tell them what they did wrong. Macha is a big step up because he is not afraid of displeasing his players and he adds some much needed toughness, exactly what this young team was lacking a year ago.
To see more about this, check out: Milwaukee Brewers homepage
Photo: Courtesy of JSOnline.com
Gagne will compete for the setup role. Last season he went 4-3 with a 5.44 era, and 10 saves in 17 chances. He was stripped of the closer position for Solomon Torres who retired after the season.
Minor league deal? No risk, but there won't be any reward. I don't see him on the Brewers roster this year unless he somehow shakes his funk.
There's a guy that steroids did wonders for. It's like having Derrick Turnbow back on the team. Just a complete waste of roster space if he actually makes the team but might as well give him the chance, in case there is that small-miniscule chance that he redeems himself.
According to reports, the Brewers head coach Ken Macha, doesn't want Yovani Gallardo as the opening day starter. He doesn't want too much pressure on his young star, especially after missing most of last season with injury. New signee Braden Looper and Dave Bush are two contenders to be the ace. Macha also said that after the All-Star break, if Gallardo is pitching well enough, he will most likely take over as the ace.
Maybe it isn't such a bad idea to put the veterans in the front part of the rotation. Macha might have something there... I would still have Gallardo in the front part of the rotation, probably as the No. 2 guy until the All-Star break. He can flat-out pitch and I don't know if I like Looper and Bush going back-to-back in the rotation.
Photo: Courtesy of MLB.com
According to JSOnline.com, the Brew Crew reportedly have interest in closer Chad Cordero. Cordero, who was injured almost all of last season (pitched just 4.1 innings due to shoulder surgery), is holding workouts for interested clubs. Milwaukee has been interested in the 27-year-old for awhile. They will be one of several teams to take a look at Cordero's throwing session on Wednesday.
Milwaukee previously signed Trevor Hoffman this offseason to shore up the closer role. But, with Hoffman's age (plus only a one-year deal), the Brewers would like to have a closer for the future and Cordero would fit that role. Milwaukee has yet to discuss anything about where Cordero fit's in the relief position. My speculation is that they would start him off slow since he missed a year and than slowly work him back as the setup man. That is unless Seth McClung (who I think will be the setup man to start the season) is doing a great job. If the Brewers sign Cordero and he pitches well through the season, I wouldn't be surprised if they gave Hoffman a few games off either, so they don't wear him out.
Cordero has impressive stats and would be a great signing for the Crew: 20 Wins, 14 losses, 320.2 INN., 292 K, 11 HLD, 128 Saves - 24 Blown Saves, 2.78 ERA.
Photo: Courtesy of MLB.com