On Tim Wakefield and the knuckleball

I know, I couldn't bring myself to upload a photo of him in Boston. I'm that petty.

I remember the first time I became aware of the knuckleball.

I was playing All-Star Baseball 99 on the N64. I didn’t really know much about baseball, but I liked the Oakland A’s because they were the local team. And I already pretty much knew I’d never be able to root for Barry Bonds.

One of Oakland’s best starting pitchers in that game was Tom Candiotti. His out pitch? Something called the knuckleball.

Intrigued, I pitched with him and watched as the knuckleball darted, danced, dipped and frustrated my friend Stuart or Lance. It was near impossible to actually control and I was pleasantly surprised when one of Candiotti’s knuckleballs landed in the strike zone, at around 65 mph.

It’s been said that the knuckleball is the everyman’s revenge. It doesn’t require a 6’6″ frame, an arm like a cannon or  laser precision. It just takes patience and hope.

Continue reading “On Tim Wakefield and the knuckleball”

Why I’m not rooting for the Giants

OK, I’m starting to get a little tired of the premise that because I live in the Bay Area, because I largely grew up in the Bay Area, that I am a fan of a Bay Area team, I should root for the Giants to win the World Series.

Sure, San Francisco fans. A valid point. Also, should the Oakland Raiders be motivated by their recent thumping of

I know which team he's not rooting for. Good enough for me.

the Denver Broncos and go on some miracle run to the Super Bowl, I’ll be asking you 49er fans why your face isn’t painted silver and black every Sunday. It’s all Bay Area, right?

Wrong.

Giants fans may not see the A’s as your rival, but A’s fans do, in a weird “Oakland is the stepchild of San Francisco” way. Rooting for the Giants, especially now, is like selling out and jumping on a bandwagon. I don’t jump on bandwagons. As BANG columnist Tony Hicks mentions in his column, yeah, A’s fans are a bit jealous. We don’t do panda hats. We don’t care for giant Coke-bottle slides or bad facial hair. And really, we’re just as sick of the torture as you are.

We’ve been watching and perhaps even taking a silent interest in your playoff run. But your bandwagon is far too crowded. Maybe we don’t want your team to fall apart. But if two or three wheels came off the wagon while barreling down championship hill, dumping a few thousand people who wouldn’t know Orlando Cepeda from Orlando, Fla., onto their freshly painted orange heads, you’d see no tears over here.

Jealous? Hell yes, we’re jealous. And hell no, we won’t wear orange and black, even if it is Halloween.

But here’s the real torture for us. You have a future. We don’t. Not as the “Oakland” A’s.

Continue reading “Why I’m not rooting for the Giants”

Cardinal sin

There are some things most credible journalists just know:

...and Bert Blyleven, and Jim Kaat...

1. It’s called deadline for a reason.

2. More than, not over.

3. The press pass around your neck means you’re here working, not to be a fan.

Apparently, some credentialed media members at Sunday’s Bengals/Broncos preseason game forgot that last one.

A photographer and a Cincinnati reporter allegedly asked for the autograph of Denver’s third-string quarterback — Tim Tebow. After Tebow obliged to the request, a member of Denver’s PR staff booted the reporter and photographer. You know it’s bad when even a PR guy is taking the high road.

Now, I know Tim Tebow is a great guy who is especially beloved by the media. I’m really happy that he’s making a name for himself for good things, and not for arrests, drugs and paternity suits. Writers and photogs can be fans of the guy. Buy his jersey. Lead the Broncos to the Super Bowl with him on Madden. But when you’re on the clock, that stops. There has to be a separation of your personal life and your professional life, and to openly ask for an autograph while you’re working is pathetic. It automatically cuts your credibility down to zilch and is on par with celebrating in the press box.

Writes MJD of Yahoo!’s Shutdown Corner:

If the sports media wants to prove themselves above the fray that Le Batard describes (ed note: Le Batard is equal parts jock sniffer and columnist), the final step in this process (and kudos to Marvez for reporting it in the first place) is to name the two media members who asked for the autographs in the first place. Not to undermine or humiliate the people involved (you’d hope they each feel bad enough at this point), but to make it very clear that the standards apply to everyone. In every circumstance. And that anyone disgracing the profession under any circumstances will have to answer for it in the same public forum they use to get their words across. We know good and well that if someone from the blog universe had asked Tebow for an autograph in the locker room, his or her name would be all over the Internet right now, and his or her mistake would be used as the newest in seemingly infinite referendums on professionalism in sports media.

Which leads me to my next point… if you’re a grown man, don’t you feel a little sad and awkward asking for an autograph?

Continue reading “Cardinal sin”

My All-Star picks

Angel Stadium, home of the 2010 All-Star Game

This is a fun little exercise, especially since each team has to have at least one representative. The All-Star rosters will be announced tomorrow. They had things called “campaign managers” for players… such as Eric Chavez (.234 BA, 31/8 K/BB in 33 games as DH?) and Brandon Wood (.179 BA, .199 OBP).

Starters:

American League National League
C Joe Mauer, MIN Giovany Soto, CHC
1B Justin Morneau, MIN Albert Pujols, STL
2B Robinson Cano, NYY Martin Prado, ATL
3B Adrian Beltre, BOS Scott Rolen, CIN
SS Derek Jeter, NYY Troy Tulowitzki, COL
LF Josh Hamilton, TEX Matt Holliday, STL
CF Alex Rios, CWS Andrew McCutchen, PIT
RF David DeJesus, KC Andre Ethier, LA
DH Vladimir Guerrero, TEX Joey Votto, CIN
SP David Price, TB Ubaldo Jimenez, COL

Yes, I know this will likely never happen. Evan Longoria or A-Rod will probably win the vote to start at 3rd base for the American League. I went pretty much just on stats.Yes, I’m serious about David DeJesus.

Pitchers:

American League National League
Cliff Lee, SEA Josh Johnson, FLA
Clay Buchholz, BOS Roy Halladay, PHI
Trevor Cahill, OAK Adam Wainwright, STL
Jered Weaver, ANA Mike Pelfrey, NYM
Felix Hernandez, SEA Yovani Gallardo, MIL
CC Sabathia, NYY Tim Lincecum, SF
Jon Lester, BOS Dan Haren, ARI
Jose Valverde, DET Mat Latos, SD
Ricky Romero, TOR Tim Hudson, ATL
Andy Pettitte, NYY Matt Capps, WAS
Joaquim Soria, KC Heath Bell, SD
Mariano Rivera, NYY Francisco Rodriguez, NYM
Jonathan Papelbon, BOS Brian Wilson, SF
Rafael Soriano, TB Jonathan Broxton, LA
Billy Wagner, ATL

Stephen Strasburg is a very, very, very good pitcher. Would he be a bigger ratings draw? Yes. Is he an All-Star this year? No. Next year, we’ll see.

Bench:

American League National League
Victor Martinez, BOS Ryan Doumit, PIT
Ichiro Suzuki, SEA Placido Polanco, PHI
Miguel Cabrera, DET David Wright, NYM
Nick Markakis, BAL Hunter Pence, HOU
Shin-Soo Choo, CLE Josh Willingham, WAS
Torii Hunter, ANA Corey Hart, MIL
Alex Rodriguez, NYY Adrian Gonzalez, SD
Marco Scutaro, BOS Marlon Byrd, CHC
Elvis Andrus, TEX Hanley Ramirez, FLA
Evan Longoria, TB

AL:

BOS 6, NYY 6, TB 3, TOR 1, BAL 1

MIN 2, DET 2, CWS 1, KC 2, CLE 1

TEX 3, ANA 2, OAK 1, SEA 3

NL

ATL 3, NYM 3, PHI 2, FLA 2, WAS 2

CIN 2, STL 3, MIL 2, CHC 2, HOU 1, PIT 2

SD 3, LA 3, COL 2, SF 2, ARI 1

What do you think?

Strasburg

That 99 mile-per-hour fastball with English wasn’t always there.

He looks good in white shoes... what do you think, Billy Beane?

Neither was the slider that buckled knees nor the changeup that made batters flinch.

Stephen Strasburg didn’t always have the cool confidence to take down Major League* hitters.

*OK, OK, those 14 batters he struck out were Pittsburgh Pirates, but still…

He learned those things from San Diego State and largely pitching coach Rusty Filter. Strasburg came to SDSU not as a celebrated future bonus baby, but as a project. As former San Diego Union-Tribune baseball writer Tom Krasovic points out, Filter had to do some lobbying to get Strasburg to Montezuma Mesa from West Hills High School in Santee, not too far east of SDSU.

I remember covering a game during Strasburg’s sophomore year (not one he started), hearing that Strasburg could barely break 90 miles per hour with his fastball in high school, a stark contrast to the triple digit heat he can bring now.

That’s partially why he went to San Diego State and not one of the many baseball hotbed schools in Southern California such as Long Beach State*, Cal State Fullerton, USC, UCLA and the University of San Diego.

*One idiosyncrasy I always loved about CSULB was the fact that while the school’s other teams are called the 49ers, the baseball team is called the Dirtbags.

“Strassy was soft when he got to San Diego State,” said Gwynn (to Krasovic), a former Aztecs baseball and basketball star. “The conditioning coach used to call him Stay Puft Softy. He weighed 250 pounds. First day of conditioning, we ran 200-yard sprints. Strassy puked his guts out.” Continue reading “Strasburg”

Journalist or not?

I’m 23, firmly in the new media generation.  I blog. I Tweet. I use Facebook. However, I still believe in the fundamental ethics of journalism.

I saw a story about the new iPhone prototype on Gizmodo, a technology blog. I thought it was a pretty cool story, one that they have (rightfully) hyped up tremendously. In brief, an Apple engineer was partying for his 27th birthday at a bar and accidentally left the iPhone at the bar. A guy took it, trying to find its rightful owner, calling Apple and doing what he could.

Then Gizmodo found out about the story and…

Weeks later, Gizmodo got it for $5,000 in cash.

With it technically being a blog, I frowned upon it, but didn’t think too much of it. Then I read yesterday that the editor of the site — Jason Chen — had his home searched, with authorities saying that he might be in trouble for purchasing stolen goods.

Gizmodo wrote about the seizure yesterday afternoon, posting all of the legal paperwork. What does Gaby Darbyshire, the C.O.O. of Gawker (Gizmodo’s parent company, who also runs the sports blog Deadspin), use in defense of Chen?

Journalism shield laws.

Continue reading “Journalist or not?”

Sports writing

So, for now, I’m a sports writer again.

Last week, I filled in for the Tracy Press’ news editor, and luckily, nothing big happened. No shootings, no robberies, nothing of the sort. Now, I’m subbing for the paper’s sports editor, who is taking a much-deserved break.

As I was driving home last night, I just realized how great it feels to be back in sports. Now, when I hear about someone bringing a gun onto campus, it’s to see how fast a pitcher is throwing. Covering a bunch of games at once is stressful, but overall, I know I can handle it. There’s always another day. I covered a soccer game (well, three) last night, and just enjoyed watching them play. I forgot how relaxing that is. When I’m covering a court hearing, I was always so stressed out, worried that I might miss something.

Don’t get me wrong, I was still watching closely. But I was able to do it outside on a beautiful day. I just kept thinking about how I would love to do this — manage a sports section — full-time. My friends from junior college remember my reliance on the white board, planning out issues weeks in advance. I can do that again now, something that’s not usually feasible in news.

While I’m still pretty worried about finding full-time employment after this temporary gig, I’m loving the taste of what I’m getting now.