Yasiel Puig Gives Hope Where There Was No Hope

Yasiel Puig has hit three home runs and driven in nine in his first four games with Los Angeles Dodgers.

 

It was looking like there was no hope for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then Yasiel Puig joined the team earlier this week and has made an instant impact on the Dodgers. The team has won three of their last four games, since Puig joined the team on Monday.

The Dodgers have won three of their last four games, but have yet to win more than two games in a row. Puig could change all that if his hitting becomes contagious. He hit a grand slam last night to insure a Dodgers victory, in a 5-0 win over the Braves.

Puig is 7-16 after four games and is hitting .438, has an OBP of .438, slugging 1.063 and has posted an OPS of 1.500. It would not be surprising to see Puig named NL Player of the Week, after his first week in the majors. Driving in nine runs from the leadoff spot is virtually unheard of. There is no reason for Puig to start each game with no runners on base, with his kind of run production.

The 6′ 3″ Puig weighs 215 pounds and won’t be 23 till December 7 according to ESPN.com, but MLB.com list him as weighing 245 pounds. The Dodgers only have four outfielders in the outfield now in Andre Ethier, Scott Van Slyke, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Puig. Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp are both on the disabled list presently. I look for the Dodgers to go back to five outfielders, upon the return of Kemp and Crawford, which means Van Slyke, Hairston and Puig would be vying for the fourth and fifth outfield spots. It seems like the logical move would be to reassign or release Hairston since Van Slyke is second on Dodgers in home runs with six. Van Slyke has hit his six home runs in only 58 AB’s.

Puig has played in only 63 minor league games and only 40 games past Rookie and A+ baseball. His career minor league stats are astounding with a .328 lifetime average, .405 OBP, .611 SLG and 1.016 OPS.

Main problem for Dodgers would be to find more playing time for Puig after Crawford and Kemp return. Don Mattingly may have to bench Ethier to find playing time for Puig. Skip Schumaker, the backup second baseman also plays some outfield, but may see very little playing time in the outfield, once everyone returns from the disabled list. Puig has 13 HR’s and 52 RBI’s in 262 plate appearances, which is about a half of season of at-bats.

We don’t know the future of Puig over the long run, but right now he is showing us that he can play major league baseball at a high level.

With Zack Greinke back in the rotation the Dodgers could see a reversal in fortune, with both Kershaw and Greinke pitching every fifth day. However, Kershaw has only posted one win since May 14.

Dodgers have three home games against Atlanta and three against Arizona left in this homestand. Then Puig will get a real test, when the Dodgers travel to Pittsburgh for three games, then  play the Yankees in Yankee Stadium two games and then finish off the road trip, with four games in San Diego. It will be interesting to see where Puig is at after the long nine game road trip.

Personally, I think Puig can handle the stress of being on the road and away from the Dodger fans, who have been very supportive of him in his first week in the majors.  Only time will tell how Puig will handle his first slump, but for right now Dodger fans are enjoying every minute of every game with Puig in the lineup.

37,055 Dodger fans showed on Monday night for Puig’s debut, but the crowd has increased each successive night, from 37,544 on Tuesday to 40,040 on Wednesday and the 44,196 that saw last night’s game.  The weekend crowds should be even larger and that is music to the ears of Magic Johnson, who has to be enjoying the Dodgers resurgence, but he won’t really be happy till the Dodgers start moving up in the standings.

Don Mattingly knows his future as Dodgers manager may depend on Puig and the others scoring more runs, since the Dodgers are 27th in MLB, in runs scored with 213.

There is no way the Dodgers would send Puig down and keep Hairston on the roster. Puig may not stay this hot long, but now he and the Dodgers both know he can hit at the major league level. Puig has played in only four games, yet he is 5th in home runs on the team with three. He has already passed everyday players in home runs, surpassing the totals of Matt Kemp, A.J. Ellis, Mark Ellis and Nick Punto.

MLB On Brink Of Suspending 20 Players In Biogenesis Investigation

Anthony Bosch founder of Biogenesis to cooperate with MLB in Biogenesis investigation.

Anthony Bosch, the founder of Biogenesis drug clinic has agreed to talk to MLB, after having originally balked at cooperating with the MLB investigation. The lawsuit against him by major league baseball has caused Bosch to reconsider his original stance and he also hopes his cooperation will prevent him from appearing in criminal court.

It seems like the primary targets for MLB in this investigation are Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun and New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

Braun had this to say about this latest news, after the Brewers defeated the Athletics 4-3 in 10 innings last night in Milwaukee:

“I’ve already addressed everything related to the Miami situation. I addressed  it in spring training. I will not make any further statements about it,” he  said.  “The truth has not changed.”

Alex Rodriguez subject of Biogenesis investigation.

Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun will have to talk sooner or later to MLB investigators, who are intent on proving that both players bought drugs from the Biogenesis drug clinic in Florida. Both players have denied buying drugs from Biogenesis, but they will find themselves on the carpet soon before investigators, who won’t take no as easily as the media has, when they asked the tough questions, that they don’t want to answer.

The New York Yankees have proved this season, that they can compete in the AL East, without Rodriguez playing and would probably be overjoyed, if this investigation gives them a way out of the huge contract, that they are paying Rodriguez. He is owed $86 million by the Yankees from 2013-2017, which would end their current contract with Rodriguez.

Rodriguez will be 38 in July and if he doesn’t play this season due to a hip injury, then is suspended 100 games to start the 2014 season, that would make him 39 before he steps on the field again. He needs 13 home runs to hit his 660th home run which would enable him to pick up a $30 million bonus. His chances of passing Barry Bonds, who has hit 762 home runs are slim and none at his age. The only way he could have passed Bonds was to have used steroids, but not even sure if they are working, since his home run production is trending downward:

2007 – 54

2008 – 35

2009 – 30

———–

119 HR’s

2010 – 30

2011 – 16

2012 – 18

———–

64 HR’s

The above numbers show that Rodriguez has hit almost half the number of home runs,  in the last three years compared to the 2007-2009 numbers. He will have trouble attracting Hall of Fame votes, especially if he is suspended for another 100 games.

If Braun is suspended the Brewers may try to have Braun’s contract revoked. He is owed $133 million from 2014-2021 and the Brewers front office can’t help but wonder, if Braun can hit the power numbers, without the benefits of steroids.

Melky Cabrera has reaped financial benefit from his steroids-laced seasons. He only hit four home runs and drove in 42 runs in 2011, while playing for the Atlanta Braves. Then in 2012 with the Royals Cabrera found strength from somewhere to hit 18 home runs and drive in 87 runs. Then in the first season of his new $16 million contract for two years for the Blue Jays he has only 2 home runs in his first 58 games.

The Texas Rangers would be particularly hit hard by a suspension for Nelson Cruz, since he leads the team in home runs with 14 and also leads in RBI with 40.

Everth Cabrera of the Padres, one of the players named in the Biogenesis records leads the majors in stolen bases with 24 and has nine more stolen bases, than his nearest NL competitor JuanPierre who has 14. Jhonny Peralta of the Tigers, who is also on the list and is hitting .338, which is third in AL. The loss of Cabrera or Peralta would be a major setback to the Padres and Tigers.

The Yankees could lose their first string catcher Francisco Cervelli, if he is suspended after returning from the disabled list. Bartolo Colon of the Athletics is pitching well this season and his loss would hurt the Athletics, particularly since Colon would be automatically eligible for a 100 game suspension, since he served a 50 game suspension last season.

1998 Home Run Chase With Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa

I have to admit that I got caught up in the steroids-laced home run chase, between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998. I thought it was kind of McGwire to talk to the Maris family, after breaking the record, but now I know he knew he was cheating to break the record of  Roger Maris. How could he act like he was their friend, when he was taking away a record Maris had set 37 years ago? If he broken the drug without steroids it would have been different, but he knew he was cheating.  The Maris family has forgiven McGwire, but still say their dad holds the record. I even question if McGwire was using steroids when he hit 49 home runs in his rookie season.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig may never admit it, but I think he looked the other way, as baseball fans watched McGwire – Sosa battle for most home runs in a season. Selig knew his owner cronies were getting rich, so wasn’t about to pull the plug on the steroids.

It was only after Congress became involved that Selig and player’s union boss Don Fehr seriously addressed the steroids problem. Then they came up with the “brilliant” idea of letting players use steroids in 2003 without any punishment, so they would know how many tested positive and then implemented testing with consequences in 2004.

Steroids Banned From Baseball in 1991

Steroids first were banned from major league baseball in 1991, but tests for steroids weren’t installed till 2003. That is 12 years that steroids use was rampant, with several players that cheated wining MVP awards for their league. These are some of the questionable MVP won by steroids users:

American League

1996 – Juan Gonzalez

1998 – Juan Gonzalez

1999 – Ivan Rodriguez

2000 – Jason Giambi

2002 – Miguel Tejada

2003 – Alex Rodriguez

2005 – Alex Rodriguez

National League

1996 – Ken Caminiti

1998 – Sammy Sosa

2001 – Barry Bonds

2002- Barry Bonds

2003 – Barry Bonds

2004 – Barry Bonds

2011 – Ryan Braun

That is a total of 14 Most Valuable Player awards given to players, who more than likely were using steroids that year.

You will notice from the list below that most of the  steroids users had unusually high slugging percentages:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/mvp_cya.shtml

It is sad that steroids have been banned from baseball since 1991, yet 20 players could possibly be suspended for using steroids in the next month or two. A policy instituted 22 years ago still isn’t being adhered to by the players. Maybe if all 20 of these players are suspended it will be a wakeup call, for players thinking of using steroids in the future.

It isn’t fair to the other 730 players supposedly playing the game the right way and abiding by the rules of baseball, for cheaters to have an advantage, whenever they walk on the playing field.

This process will take some time, as each player is interviewed by MLB investigators, with the player’s union having a lawyer present during the questioning. This isn’t the ideal situation for MLB to be conducting the investigation, so close to the time of the 2013 All Star Game, but this is too important of a matter to delay any longer. The Biogenesis scandal broke several months ago, so there is no reason to push this issue to the backburner.

Let us hope that Bud Selig and MLB do the right thing this time. We should know in the next couple of months or sooner, if the cheaters will be suspended or if this will go on for months.

Who Would Have Thought?……….Looking at 2013 Season at Quarter Mark

 

 

Who would have thought that Cole Hamels 1-6 and Roy Halladay 2-4 would have a combined 3-10 record, with the 2013 season a quarter of the way finished? Hamels has held opponents to a .231 batting average, but his command is off this season with 24 walks in 56 innings, after walking 52 in 215 innings in 2012.

Another setback for the Phillies is Roy Halladay having a 2-4 record and a 8.65 ERA, which is highest on the Phillies staff. Hamels and Holliday are earning $40.5 million combined this season, so it is not much return on that money with them registering three wins in 16 starts.

Surprisingly, the Phillies are only 3.5 games behind the NL East leading Braves, so they are still in the race. Ryan Howard is slumping again with 3 hits in his last 30 at bats. He is 1-20 and hitting .050 with runners in scoring position and two outs in 2013.  Even worse, Howard hit .284 in April but only .173 in May. Howard has a career worst 24.5 AB’s per HR in 2013, which is not close to his 13.7 AB’s per HR career number.

Who would have thought the Yankees would be leading the AL East?

There seemed to be no chance that the Yankees would actually be in first place in AL East, with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson on the DL to start the 2013 season. Most experts were saying that the Yankees would need to stay close, till some of the stars returned to the lineup. There are currently eleven Yankees on the DL, who are being paid close to $95 million total this season.

Lyle Overbay and Travis Hafner are earning a combined $2.85 million this season and have been a big part of the Yankees offense this season. Overbay is second on team in RBI’s with 24, while trailing only Robinson Cano with 27. Hafner has 18 RBI, which is 4th on the Yankees, behind Vernon Wells with 23. Wells is earning $24 million this season, but part of his salary is probably being paid by the Angels.

Hiroki Kuroda, C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte are a combined 14-8, while Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, Vidal Nuno and David Phelps are a combined 5-6 pitching out of the fourth and fifth slots. The loss of Pettitte to the DL could be a serious problem if the back of the rotation can’t pick up some of the slack.

Who would have thought that the Milwaukee Brewers would be 11 games out of first place in NL Central on May 18?

The Milwaukee Brewers starting rotation has only one starter with a winning record, with Marco Estrada 3-2 in the 2013 season. The other five starters are a combined 8-15. The bullpen has seen John Axford and Mike Gonzalez combine for an 0-5 record. Opponents are pounding Brewers pitching at a .271 clip, with only the Twins at .290 and Astros at .297 being worse. Brewers have allowed 51 home runs this season with only Astros with 67 and Rays with 53 being worse.

Brewers are 27th in ERA at 4.60 and 28th in opponents batting average at .271.

The Brewers have the first and second best hitters in NL with Carlos Gomez at .352 and Jean Segura hitting .351. Gomez is 4th in slugging with a .593 mark. Only Paul Goldschmidt, Justin Upton and Bryce Harper have higher slugging percentages.

Who would have thought that Paul Goldschmidt would have 12 HR’s and 35 RBI after 42 games?

It is not a shock that Goldschmidt is hitting so well, but it is a surprise that he has these kind of numbers this early in the season. Goldschmidt had 20 homers and 82 RBI in the entire 2012 season, so is way ahead of those numbers. ESPN.com project him to hit 46 HR’s and drive in 135 runs in 2013. He is 10-16 in his last 4 games, while raising his batting average from .304 to .338 and is 7-9 in his last 2 games.

Who would have thought that Manny Machado would be hitting 77 points higher than he hit in 2012?

It is amazing that the 20 year-old Machado is projected by ESPN.com to have 237 hits at the end of the 2013 season. ESPN also projects him to have 71 doubles at the end of the season, which would be four more than the current season record set by Earl Webb in 1931 with 67. He may have more chance of passing Todd Helton whose 59 doubles in 2000 is the best for active players. Machado has been especially hot in his last 6 games with 15 hits in 30 AB’s and 6 doubles in that span. Machado is hitting .403 in May. He is hitting .362 against right handers. He is hitting an astounding .438 with runners in scoring position with two outs. Machado won’t turn 21 till July 6.

ESPN.com projects Yu Darvish to strikeout 332 batters and finish 2013 season with a 27-4 mark..

Who would have thought that Yu Darvish would be on a pace to post 332 strikeouts in 2013?

ESPN is projecting Yu Darvish to have 332 strikeouts at the end of the 2012 season. It has been 11 years since Randy Johnson posted 334 strikeouts in 2002 in NL, since a pitcher has registered more than 300 strikeouts. The last AL pitcher with over 300 strikeouts was when Pedro Martinez struck 313 in AL in 1999. It isn’t likely to happen but ESPN.com also projects Darvish to finish the season with a 27-4 record. Rangers have scored 60 runs in the 7 wins by Darvish, but scored only one run in his only loss. Darvish could be on the brink of being the best Japanese pitcher in major league history, if he can continue to dominate major league hitters.

Joe Adcock

Joe Adcock 1927-1999

 

Joe Adcock was born in Coushatta, Louisiana on October 30, 1927.  He attended LSU, before signing with the Cincinnati Reds. Adcock may never have achieved the stardom of Milwaukee Brave teammates Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron, but still was the only one of the three, to hit four home runs in a game. He made his major league debut in 1950, with the Cincinnati Reds but was moved to left field, so Ted Kluszewski could play first base. Adcock asked to be traded and joined the Milwaukee Braves in a four team deal, on February 16, 1953, so was able to play for the Braves in their inaugural Milwaukee season.

It was 59 years ago this next July 31  that Adcock hit his four homers and a double at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn in 1954. Adcock only hit over .300 once in 1954, when he hit .308. Adcock hit over 30 homers only twice in his career. He hit 38 in 1956 for Milwaukee and was still with them, when he hit 35 in 1961. His only 100 RBI seasons were when he drove in 103 runs in 1956 and had 108 RBI in 1961.

Adcock is also famous for having the only hit off of Harvey Haddix, when he hit a home run in the 13th to end the game with a 1-0 victory for the Braves.

Baseballlibrary.com has a recap of that game:

May 26, 1959 –  In a singular performance‚ Harvey Haddix of the Pirates pitches a perfect game against Milwaukee for 12 innings‚ only to lose in the 13th. Felix Mantilla opens the last inning by reaching base on an error. A sacrifice and an intentional walk to Hank Aaron brings up Joe Adcock‚ who hits one out of the park in right-CF for an apparent 3-0 victory. Aaron pulls a “Merkle‚” leaving the field‚ and Adcock passes him on the base paths. Both are called out as Mantilla scores. Initially the score is 2-0 as Aaron returns and score; it is later called a 1-0 game. Lew Burdette goes all 13 innings for his 8th win‚ scattering 12 hits. As a consequence of the base running in the 13th‚ the Braves leave an NL-record one runner on base. Haddix’s gem makes him the 9th pitcher to lose a no-hitter in extra innings; A combined effort of three Reds pitcher‚ on May 26‚ 1956‚ was the last. Making Haddix’s effort even more remarkable is the fact that the Braves hitters knew what was coming. In 1993‚ Bob Buhl admitted that the Braves pitchers were stealing the signs from Smoky Burgess‚ who could not crouch down all the way. They would place a towel on the bullpen fence in such a way to signal fastball or breaking ball.

Six years earlier Adcock had hit one of the longest home runs ever hit in the Polo Grounds, while playing the New York Giants.

Apr 29, 1953 –   Joe Adcock becomes the first ML player to homer into the CF bleacher seats in the Polo Grounds‚ over 475 feet away. His homer in the 3rd‚ with Pafko on‚ comes off a Jim Hearn fast ball. Luke Easter‚ in a 1948 Negro League game‚ and Schoolboy Rowe‚ in batting practice before a 1933 exhibition game‚ also accomplished the feat. Lou Brock and Hank Aaron will match it is as well in 1962. The Braves win the game 3-2 on a 9th-inning knuckler by Hoyt Wilhelm that eludes Sal Yvars for a wild pitch. Billy Bruton’s perfect throw cuts down Monte Irvin for the final out. After the game‚ manager Charlie Grimm buys Adcock’s homer for $25 from the fan who caught it.

Adcock was involved in one the most comical events in major league history when he chased Ruben Gomez, a pitcher for the Giants after being hit by a Gomez pitch:

Jul 17, 1956 –  In the 2nd inning in Milwaukee‚ the Braves Joe Adcock gets hit as Giants Ruben Gomez gets him on the wrist. Adcock takes a few steps towards 1B‚ shouts at the pitcher‚ then chases Gomez. The pitcher then fires another ball‚ hitting the first baseman on the thigh‚ before taking off for the safety of the Giants dugout. Braves 3B coach Johnny Riddle misses a tackle on Gomez who reaches his teammates‚ and makes it to the clubhouse where he finds an ice pick. He is finally wrestled to the floor before he can return to the field. Both players are tossed by Bill Jackowski‚ and the NL fines Adcock $100 and Gomez $250 + a three-game suspension. The last-place Giants eventually win‚ 8-6‚ ending the league-leading Braves 7-game win streak.

Adcock was injury prone during his career and played in more than 150 games twice in his 17 year career. He hit .277, while hitting 336 home runs and driving in 1,122 runs.

The following book from archive.org named Batboy of the Braves tell about Adcock borrowing the bat of Dodger outfielder Carl Furillo on Page 27.

http://archive.org/stream/batboyofthebrave017875mbp#page/n5/mode/2up

The 1967 season would be the first and last season of Adcock’s managing career, when he managed the Cleveland Indians to an 8th place finish with a 75-87 record. He would manage one more year in the minors, when he managed Seattle to a 71-75 record.

He would then retire to his 288 acre ranch in Coushatta, Louisiana where he was breeding horses. He was born in Coushatta and also died there on May 3, 1999. My wife had relatives in Texarkana, Arkansas, so we often drove by the entrance to his ranch, which was located on U.S. 71, about 55 miles from Pineville, Louisiana where we lived.

Alzheimer’s disease was the cause of his death at the age of 71.

Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn, Lew Burdette and Hank Aaron may have been the best known Milwaukee Braves, but Joe Adcock played an important part in their success in Milwaukee. For some reason he only played in nine, of the 14 World Series games played by the Milwaukee Braves in 1957 and 1958.

 

 

Atlanta Braves Have Good Problem With Evan Gattis and Chris Johnson

Evan Gattis

The Atlanta Braves will soon have to make a decision on Evan Gattis.  He made the major league roster since Brian McCann started the major league season on the disabled list. The Braves front office and manager Fredi Gonzalez have some tough decisions with McCann probably returning in about a week, after he finishes his minor league rehab.

Gattis has not hit well for the Braves early in the season, but has hit five home runs, which is second on the Braves behind Justin Upton with nine. He is also only one RBI behind Justin Upton, who has 12 RBI with Gattis having 11. His .674 slugging percentage is second to Justin Upton, who is currently slugging .862. I can’t see the Braves sending down Gattis with these kind of offensive numbers. Gattis did make a mistake in a game against the Royals earlier in this week, when a Royals player was trapped between first and second. Instead of throwing immediately Gattis hesitated allowing the runner to return to first base safely. However that is excusable when considering his offensive output so far this season. ESPN projects Gattis to hit 54 home runs and drive in 130 runs. We know that he is not likely to post those kind of numbers, especially considering he and Gerald Laird will have to share backing up McCann about once every week, if the Braves decide to carry three catchers.

Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson who has been filling in for Freddie Freeman at first base will soon be in the same predicament as Gattis when Freeman returns. Johnson is leading the majors in batting with a .438 average, but with the return he will have to share third base with Juan Francisco who is hitting .318 and is projected to hit 32 home runs in 2013. He is not likely to reach those kind of numbers either, since he is sharing time at third base with Johnson.

We should know in the coming days, what the Braves decide to do with this problem of too many good hitters. One thing we know for sure is that Gattis won’t be the primary catcher for the Braves, as long as Brian McCann stays healthy.  Gattis is in a 3-20 slump but two of those hits were home runs.

It is amazing that the Braves are 13-2 with Freeman on the disabled list for the last two weeks. That shows how powerful the Braves are in this year. They recently hit five home runs in one game, which tells me that the team will be even better with the return of Freeman.

Around the Bases

The New York Yankees have learned that Derek Jeter is not likely to return to the field, till after the All Star game in July. It is surprising that the Yankees are only 2.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson have still not returned and Alex Rodriguez is very unlikely to play this season. If MLB finds that Rodriguez tried to buy Biogenesis records, then Rodriguez may be given a 100 game suspension, for using steroids and then trying to cover it up by buying the Biogenesis report….One of the major surprises early in the 2013 season has been the dismal play of the Los Angeles Angels. They are already seven games behind the first place Oakland Athletics in the AL West. The 4-10 Angels have a better record than only the 4-11 Houston Astros and the 3-13 Miami Marlins. The poor play has not affected the Angels at the box office, as they are drawing 4,825 more fans per game than in 2012.

Atlanta Braves 7-0 and Oakland Athletics 6-0 are the only MLB teams, with no losses on the road. Colorado Rockies are the only MLB team, to not lose a home game with a 6-0 record….Justin Upton is projected by ESPN to hit 97 home runs and drive in 140 runs. He has hit nine homers and didn’t hit No.9 till August 3 in 2012….Torii Hunter, Detroit Tigers is proving in the early part of the 2013 season, to be one of the best free agent signings, since he leads the AL in hitting with a .413 average….It looked like the Philadelphia Phillies would challenge for the NL East title, but they are 6-10 and 7.5 games behind the first place Braves. Chase Utley leads the Phillies in home runs with 3 and RBI with 13, but Ryan Howard has hit only one home run and drove in five runs in 54 at bats. They are fourth in quality starts with 10, but are 28th in ERA with a 4.84 mark. Cliff Lee has pitched well with a 2-0 record and a 1.52 ERA, but the other four starters have a combined record of 2-6.

Torii Hunter

Torii Hunter and Austin Jackson of the Detroit Tigers lead the majors in hits with 26 and 25 respectively….Dexter Fowler is surprisingly second in MLB in home runs with 7.  He has hit 7 home runs in 53 at bats, after hitting 13 in 2012 in 454 at bats. Fowler had eight home runs at the end of May in 2012, but hit only five more over the last four months of the season. He hit a HR every 34.9 AB’s in 2012, but is homering every 7.6 AB’s in 2013….Chris Davis is first player to drive in 20 runs, with John Buck, Prince Fielder and Brandon Phillips with 19 each….Joey Votto has walked 24 times in 16 games and ESPN projects him to have 243 walks at the end of the season. The closest to Votto in walks are four players tied with 11.

Chris Johnson .438, Torii Hunter .413, Adrian Gonzalez .407 and Carlos Gonzalez .400  are the only MLB players still hitting over .400….Joey Votto leads in OBP with a .526 mark….Justin Upton is leading in slugging with a .862 percentage and also leads in OPS with a 1.256 percentage and also leads in total bases with 50 in 15 games. That projects to 500 total bases if he plays in 150 games.

Baseball and Cancer Do Mix

I have been following baseball since 1954 when I was 10 years old. One of my biggest thrills was to watch Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Roberto Clemente, Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Dale Murphy and Nolan Ryan play baseball in person in Philadelphia, Kansas City, Houston and Dallas.

Last summer I suddenly got very sick and vomited as many as 10 times in one day and lost 45 pounds in three months. Doctors at first thought it was H Pylori, acid reflux and duodenal ulcers, but found out in Houston VA Hospital that I had duodenal cancer with a blockage in my small intestines, which was causing the vomiting.

Surgeon removed the blockage on October 16 of last year.  It was discovered that I have Stage III duodenal cancer after the surgery. We went back to Houston in November to talk to surgeon and he told us that duodenal cancer has a history of returning. I was feeling good before that meeting, since they had removed the cancer. I started a chemo program in December of 2012 at the VA Hospital in Pineville, Louisiana. The chemotherapy program was changed from one kind of chemo IV to another, when there were too many bad side effects from the first kind of IV. Then I was switched to another kind of chemo IV and it had even worse side effects.

The oncologist gave me the option of discontinuing the chemotherapy program last month and I agreed to stop the chemotherapy. The oncologist said there is not really a chemotherapy program, that was expressly designed for duodenal cancer patients. He also said the chemotherapy program was causing more harm than good, so it would be better to discontinue it, so I would have a better quality of life.

There is only a 30 percent chance of duodenal cancer patients to live more than five years. We return to Houston on May 21 for a Catscan, which will show whether the cancer has returned, so right now I  am in a state of limbo and am wondering what the scan will show. Should know the results by May 30, when I have an appointment in Pineville with oncologist.

I am feeling very well right now, so am excited about the start of the 2013 major league baseball season. I have watched three or four baseball games in one day, since I don’t know if I will be around for the 2014 season. The games help take my mind off of the cancer and what may lie ahead in the coming months and years.

Stan Musial was one of my favorite players, since I grew up listening to KMOX radio, out of St. Louis when Harry Caray and Buddy Blattner did the games. The station would fade in and out, but I would listen through the static to hear what Stan Musial and the St. Louis Cardinals were doing that night. I am presently reading a book about Stan Musial and it reminds me of the all the nights listening to KMOX.

We later were able to hear Chicago White Sox games on KSYL radio in Alexandria, Louisiana. I remember Bob Elson and Milo Hamilton broadcasting the games in 1961 and they would give reports on Roger Maris as he was trying to break Babe Ruth’s single season record of 60 home runs in 1927.

Then the Houston Astros games were heard on KALB radio and the telecasts were shown on KALB-TV on Sunday afternoons.

Now many years later it is possible to see baseball games on satellite on MLB Network, the television network baseball fans love. In addition we get to see most of the Texas Rangers games. We can also see the ESPN games on Sunday and Wednesday nights and the Fox games on Saturdays, plus the TBS games on Sundays. WGN out of Chicago telecasts both White Sox and Cubs games during the season, but don’t broadcast them daily.

So now I watch baseball for hours at a time. Baseball may be boring to some sports fans, but each pitch of a baseball game can lead to an exciting outcome. There is still nothing like watching a baseball fly out of the stadium. A case in point is when my Atlanta Braves came from behind to defeat the Cubs on Saturday night. B.J. Upton and his brother Justin both homered to give the Braves the win in the last inning walk off win. It was the first time two brothers both got Gatorade baths at the same time.

My main concern is that I get to see my grandson Matthew play baseball, as many time as possible and see my grandson Mark play soccer often. Matthew hopes to play in the major leagues someday. I was fortunate to be there, to see him hit a home run in a Texas Little League All Star game a couple of years ago. Matthew is playing his eleventh year of baseball this season and will be playing Babe Ruth League baseball again in 2013, then hopes to play high school baseball in 2014.

I don’t know what the future holds for me, but am determined to enjoy as many baseball games as possible this season. I am hoping for good news in May about the cancer, but am having too much fun watching baseball games, to worry about it too much.

So I have found that I can have cancer and still enjoy my favorite sport of baseball, which I have been following for the last 60 years.

Chris Davis Off To Record Start

Chris Davis leads MLB in seven offensive categories.

 

Players have had hot starts before, but Chris Davis of the Orioles is the first player, to drive in 16 runs in the first four games of the season. Davis currently leads the majors in these seven categories:

HOME RUNS – 4

RBI – 4

BATTING AVERAGE – .600

SLUGGING PERCENTAGE – 1.600

ON BASE PLUS SLUGGING – 2.211

EXTRA BASE HITS – 7

TOTAL BASES – 24

These are computer game numbers, but ESPN projects Davis to finish with 162 home runs and 648 at the end of the season. Davis would happily settle for 100 home runs and 200 RBI.

Davis who struck out 169 times in 2012 has struck out only once after his first four games. He had only hit 5 home runs and drove in 19 runs in 2011 in stints with Texas and Baltimore and that was in a 199 at bats season. This season Davis has only one less home run and 3 less RBI in 184 fewer at bats. Going even further back to 2010, Davis hit one home run and drove in 4 runs in 120 at bats for Texas.

Last year was the breakthrough season for Davis when he slugged 33 home runs and drove in 85 runs. He was a big part of the resurgence of the Orioles, who made the 2012 postseason.

It is good to know that Chris Davis is a Christian man, which has helped him overcome some adversity, to become one of the premier sluggers in the game of baseball.

 

MLB ATTENDANCE NUMBERS

It is extremely early in the 2013 season, with only 21 teams having played a home game, but it is still interesting to look at the early numbers.

Colorado Rockies lead in average attendance with 49,077 fans per game. Oakland Athletics are at the bottom with only 19,670 fans average.

One troubling stat is that only Dodgers, Tigers, Giants, Blue Jays and Reds have had an increase in attendance in 2013. The other 16 teams have had declining attendance. Dodgers have gained 46,424 fans so far this season, while the Athletics have lost 60,619 fans after four games. Dodgers have averaged 11,606 more fans per game to lead MLB, while Athletics are averaging 15,155 less fans per game.

The complete attendance report as found at baseball-reference. com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/current_attendance.shtml