Archive for July 25th, 2008

Dallas McPherson Has A Chance To Do Something Specialish

A few weeks ago, one of the big stories in minor league baseball was Dallas McPherson and his phenomenal streak of seven consecutive games with a homerun. The former Angel has continued to tear up AAA pitching ever since, ending play on Thursday with 35 homeruns so far on the season.

Were this Francisco “Don’t Call Me Nelson” Liriano we were talking about, there might be some sort of formal inquiry as to why McPherson is still languishing in Albuquerque, crushing homeruns at a rate of one every 9.37 at-bats. Like Liriano, however, the question is best answered by looking at the major league team: the Marlins infield is one of the most well-versed in baseball’s primary language – Homerun. Mike Jacobs (20), Dan Uggla (24), and Hanley Ramirez (24) all have more than twenty roundtrippers on the season, with the resurgent Jorge Cantu (18 ) trailing just behind the pack. If this were the American League and McPherson could DH, things would be different. As it is, he’s blocked by Cantu and Jacobs for the time being. Ah well, there’s always September.

So I’m going to assume that McPherson will be cashing his checks in New Mexico banks for at least a few more weeks, which raises an interesting question: how many players in recent minor league history have gone deep more than forty times in a single season?

As it turns out, not very many. Nine players have hit forty homeruns in a season ten times since 1992, including McPherson, who finished second to Ryan Howard among all minor leaguers in 2004. If he adds five more to his total this season, he will join Phil Hiatt as the only players in the past seventeen years with more than one minor league forty homer season. The list is below.

Brandon Wood (43), 2005
Ryan Howard (46), 2004
Dallas McPherson (40), 2004
Phil Hiatt (44), 2001
Brandon Berger (40), 2001
J.R. Phillips (41), 1999
Chris Hatcher (46), 1998
Phil Hiatt (42), 1996
Russell Branyan (40), 1996
Todd Greene (40), 1995

Look at those names. Not a lot of renowned major league homerun hitters in that group, are there? Howard is one of the premier sluggers in the game today, and Branyan just recently reached 350 combined for his major and minor league careers, but who else? Greene? Hiatt? Hatcher? Light on the name recognition.

You always hope that a player like McPherson, who is performing so well after missing all of last season following back surgery, gets another chance to make a first impression at the major league level. But at the same time, it would be pretty cool to see if he could reach forty again, or, if he gets hot, challenge Howard and Hatcher’s Steroid Era record of 46.

Now Pitching For The Chicago Cubs…

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for, baseball fans.  Jeff Samardzija is a Chicago Cub.

Well, maybe “all” is a bit of an overstatement.  For some reason, though, I get the feeling that Extra P is really excited about this latest development in The Shark’s career.  (Darnit, I just remembered that his nickname is Shark.  Samardzija’s, not Extra P’s.  That and Greg Norman’s success at the British Open last weekend should have been the perfect recipe for an opening line about it being “a good week for sharks” or something equally lame.  Oh well, not going back to change it now.  You’ll just have to deal with my usual lameness.)

Samardzija, who was drafted by the Cubs in the fifth round of the 2006 draft, was called up to replace Kerry Wood and his blistered finger on the roster.  Although used primarily as a starter in the minor leagues, he could make his major league debut out of the bullpen as early as this afternoon against the Florida Marlins.

Photos: Akron Aeros @ Altoona Curve 7/24/2008

What the heck was Extra P. doing in Altoona, PA?

It’s a direct result of this site, actually. The primary goal of my trip to Pennsylvania was to visit my brother, who lives in Pittsburgh. There are much quicker ways to get there than to go through Altoona. But I knew that the Altoona Curve (Pirates) have a cool ballpark, and when I saw that there was a noon game against the Akron Aeros (Indians) on my travel day, I knew I had to make the detour.

The Aeros, as you probably know by now, are breaking in a new guy by the name of Matt LaPorta. Sadly, the big fella went 0-4 and left five men on base. The Curve won, 3-1.

Facade of Blair County Ballpark

The Aeros run in from calesthenics

The roller coaster at the adjacent Lakewood Park provides written support for the team, and an interesting view of the ballpark.

Aeros DH Matt LaPorta has the uneasy feeling that several thousand people are watching him.

LaPorta meets a young fan, as well as an older one.

Curve mascot Steamer eats children. You’d think there’d be more of a public outcry.

Also cool: the Aeros have a player with the last name of Panther. That’s got to be an advantage with the ladies.

I’m going to perform a public service here and let you know how the whole roller-coaster thing works. Blair County Ballpark is part of an entertainment complex, including an ice park and the Lakewood amusement park. When I went to buy my tickets, I could never figure out whether the roller coaster was inside the park or not. It’s not.

The good news is that the roller coaster is an easy walk from the game – the parking garage is right between the two. Entry to the amusement park is free. Once inside, you can buy tickets to ride individual rides – the roller coaster costs $3 per person, so that’s a good deal in my book. There’s also railroad-themed mini golf and a water park, so a visitor could really spend all day in one area. Seems to me it would be fun to go early, ride the coaster while the teams were warming up or even during the first inning, and then head into the ballgame.

Anyway, if you get a great day like we had, and you don’t mind the detour, this is a great place to spend a day.

Back To Basak’s

That headline really makes no sense.  I just like it.

According to Peter Abraham of The LoHud Yankees Blog, Ian Kennedy came very close to an impressive achievement tonight, only to be let down by his defense:

Needing one out to finish his no-hitter, Ian Kennedy got Richmond’s Barbaro Canizares to ground to second base.

Forget it. Chris Basak’s second error of the night extended the game. Scott Thorman then cracked an RBI double to tie the score 1-1.

Once I got past the fact that the name of the guy who hit the ball that should have been the last out was Barbaro Canizares – they don’t get much more awesome than that – I kinda felt bad for Kennedy.  You fight and battle for seven innings (it was the second game of a doubleheader), you get within one out of a moment you’ll remember for your entire career, you get the batter to hit a fieldable ball, and your teammate blows it.  On the plus side, I’m sure nobody feels worse than Chris Basak right now.