Matt’s Annual Charity Fundraiser to End Lung Cancer

DSC_0080a In 2006, my family was struck by the terrible news that my grandfather had the deadly disease known as lung cancer. He was a man who never smoked cigarettes, which shows that anyone who has lungs can get lung cancer.  I was 4 years old when he died from lung cancer in March 2008. It was a very tragic loss in my family, and that is why we walk to raise money and awareness in his memory.

On November 2nd, a lung cancer support and research foundation named LUNGevity will hold its 5th annual “Breathe Deep DC” to support lung cancer treatment.  Please think about making a donation or joining “Team Matt’s Bats” at the walk on the National Mall.  It’s coming up very soon!

 

Last year, I wrote about the reason I support this charity and I asked people to come walk with my family and asked people if they would donate. I ended up raising a stunning amount: $11,259! Please read my post from last year about why this is such an important charity.

I was rewarded at the event last year with a bat autographed by Jayson Werth, given to me by NBC 4’s Doug Kammerer.  This was a huge surprise. Dozens of people, some I have never met, read about my fundraiser and donated. Please read my review post from 2013 Breathe Deep DC.  I thank everyone that donated last year.  Here are 2 pictures of some of my supporters from last year.

2013 Team MattsBats- Join My Team Here- http://events.lungevity.org/site/TR/2012TeamRaiser/General?px=1801824&pg=personal&fr_id=4580

2013 Team Matt’s Bats at Breathe Deep DC for LUNGevity

Imitating Bryce Harper's SI Cover From Spring Training 2013

The walk goes past all the monuments on the Mall.  Here I am imitating Bryce Harper’s SI Cover from 2013

 

I am raising money again this year.  Please visit this link to donate.  With about 2 weeks to go before the event, I have reached more than 30% of my goal of $5,000.  That is the same goal I set last year, but last year Matt’s Bats readers more than doubled it!  I would like to pass that goal this year, too.

Again, the event will be held on the Mall in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, November 2nd at the Sylvan Theater right near the Washington Monument.  You can sign up to join my team and attend the event and walk the 5K course or donate here. I want to honor my grandpa, who was a great man, by collecting donations for the disease. My grandfather was a great man who showed loving kindness to me, my brother, dad, mom, and wife.  When he was healthy, he was a doctor who helped other people get better, and he when he got lung cancer he also helped other cancer patients.

Each year lung cancer kills more people each year than breast, prostate, colon, liver, kidney, and melanoma cancers combined. More than 50% of people diagnosed with lung cancer have quit smoking, or, like my grandfather, never smoked at all.  I hope one day this terrible disease is cured, and the first step is to donate. You can help stop lung cancer, with a generous donation on this page:

http://events.lungevity.org/goto/mattsbats

Thank you for helping me end this horrid disease.

Winners of Derek Jeter’s Book Giveaway

Before the postseason began, I wrote a review of Derek Jeter’s new kids book “The Contract.”  Derek Jeter even put the post of his Facebook page!

Jeter Publishing and Simon and Schuster sent me several copies to give away to Matt’s Bats readers.  I ended up holding a contest to give away copies of the book to baseball-loving kids.

Here are the winners:

Liam from Maryland

Liam from Maryland

Garrett from Maryland

Garrett from Maryland

"S" and "A" from Virginia

“S” and “A” from Virginia

Samantha from Florida

Samantha from Florida

Christian from New York

Christian from New York

If you didn’t win, you can still buy a copy of this excellent book for only $10 through this link.

The Ride Is Over

IMG_0006The baseball Division Series are over and the Championship Series will begin soon. In the American League, the Royals and Orioles took their respective games in sweep style against the Angels and Tigers.  In the National League, the Giants and Cardinals will square off in the NLCS, both Division games ending on Tuesday with 3-2 wins. This was the first time since 2009 that none of the Division Series featured a decisive Game 5.

To recap last night’s decisive Game 4 between the Giants and Nationals: It was a disappointing end to the season for Washington Nationals fans, who came into the series as the favorite, after having a NL-best 96 wins during the regular season, the NL East crown, and the privilege to play the #4 seed.  Sadly, no one in San Francisco not named Bryce could figure out Ryan Vogelsong, who was on his game last night. It isn’t a surprise he was- he is career 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA in the postseason and helped the Giants win the World Series in 2012.

Although it ended in such disappointment, what an amazing season the Nats had. Bryce’s performance in the post-season was very special.  He hit 3 monster home runs (including a splashdown in McCovey Cove) and played excellent defense. Anthony Rendon also continued his hitting dominance. Most of the Nats pitching–especially Jordan Zimmermann– was unhittable.  Unforturnately, the rest of the line up forgot to pack their bats for the postseason.

There was a lot of sloppy defense yesterday.  Gio Gonzalez allowed 2 unearned runs in the second inning off some fielding errors that allowed the Giants to get on the scoreboard early.  Most surprising was Aaron Barret walking in a run with bases loaded, then trying to intentionally walk a batter but threw a wild pitch.  It ended in a play at the plate and an out, but it was very ugly.  The Giants took the win with 3 runs that the Nationals basically handed to them based on bad defense.

There will be more to say about this game and the season later.  This is just my morning post the day after the season ended.  I feel disappointed that the rest of the country saw Nats play some of their worst hitting baseball of the season these past 4 games.  I am looking forward to 2015 though. So now the Nats are out I’m rooting for the underdog Royals to win the World Series.  National League fans are tired of season the same 2 or 3 teams in the World Series every year, and with none of the usual AL teams there (like the Tigers or Red Sox or Yankees), there is a good chance to root for a team like the Royals who haven’t been there in 30 years.

Keep reading my blog and following me on Twitter.  I already have some great posts planned for the off-season, including some things in October and November.

 

 

I’m Proud to Be a Nationals Fan

2014-10-03 Fox5In case you missed my appearance on Fox 5 DC before the NLDS Game 1 on Friday, check out his link below.

http://www.myfoxdc.com/clip/10652177/matt-eisner-author-of-matt39s-bats-blog-natstober-fever-in-dc

After losing Games 1 and 2 in DC to the Giants, the Nationals are in San Francisco for today’s Game 3 at 5:07 pm ET.  The Nationals are not in very good position to win the National League Division Series.  If they lose one more game, they are eliminated from the post-season.

However, the Giants came back from 0-2 at home in the NLDS in 2012 to win the World Series, so advancing is definitely possible.

On the other hand, the Tigers and the Angels, got swept by the Orioles and Royals in the American League Division Series.  The Angels had the best record in all of baseball this year, and they couldn’t get past the wild card Royals.

Whatever happens, it is exciting to watch.  I am proud to be a Nationals fan and a fan of the game.IMG_0006

Nationals Post-Season Starts Today!

IMG_0006Today is the day Nationals fans have been waiting for since Opening Day– Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants.  First pitch is at 3:07pm ET.

The Nationals are sending up their ace, Stephen Strasburg, to make his post-season debut.  The Giants will be starting their #2 pitcher Jake Peavy.

The Nationals faced the Giants 7 times during the regular season and won 5 of those games.  Can they beat them in the post-season, where the Giants have won 2 of the last 4 World Series championships?

My morning will begin with a live interview about this on Fox 5 DC.  You can watch one of my previous interviews from the start of the 2013 season HERE.

Also be sure to check out one of my all-time favorite posts about the behind the scenes of this interview, and some of the advice that F.P. Santangelo and Ian Desmond gave me about making my live TV debut.

Check out my website MattsBats.com, which is one of the Top 100 Pro Blogs on MLB.com.  You can also follow me on Twitter at @MattsBats.  Sporting News just put me on their Must Follow Twitter List for the 2014 MLB Playoffs!

#StepOnTheGiANTS

StepOnTheGiANTS

A Matt’s Bats Chat With Author David A. Kelly

fillyfake 33-1 The summer baseball season has ended, and soon it is going to be very, very cold for a very long time.  When the weather is too cold for kids to go out and play, some of my favorite baseball books to read are from the Ballpark Mysteries series written by David A. Kelly.  I like them so much I put them on last year’s gift guide for kids.

The books are about two kids that travel around the country for baseball, and help solve problems in the parks. The most recent one is called The Philly Fake. The 10th and 11th books in the series, The Rookie Blue Jay and The Tiger Troubles, will be released next year.

I recently had the chance to do a Matt’s Bats Chat with the author of the Ballpark Mysteries books, David A. Kelly:

Matt’s Bats: What inspired you to be an author?

David A. Kelly: I became inspired to write a children’s book back in 2005 when I was spending a lot of time reading early chapter books to my sons, who were in elementary school. It certainly helped that I’d always loved reading and was looking for an alternative to the business, technology, and travel writing that I did for my job. I spent a lot of time analyzing successful children’s books—looking at how the chapters were put together, how the sentences were written, and the mechanics of the chapters. Overall, it’s been a fair amount of work, but it’s really fun to be working on something creative. In one sense, writing a children’s book turned out to be the easy part. Getting a children’s book published is harder. It takes dedication, good writing, and lots of patience and persistence. It’s not something that happened quickly for me, but with luck and hard work, it did.

MB: When did you get interested in sports?

DK: I played baseball when I was younger, but didn’t follow on to play it high school or college. When I was younger, my friends and I spent more time playing pickup games of baseball, basketball, hockey, kickball and more. Not many of my friends played organized sports, the way that many kids do today.

MB: What is your favorite sport?  Do you have a favorite team or player? 

DK: I’d have to say my favorite sport is baseball, because I like watching it as well as writing about it and sharing it with other people.

My favorite athlete is probably David Ortiz, since I live near Boston. But watching Mo’ne Davis pitch in the Little League World Series definitely impressed me.

MB: Why did you decide to write the Ballpark Mysteries series? 

DK: When my two sons were younger, I was spending a lot of time reading to them. I was also looking for something creative to do. They were hooked baseball books and mystery books, but when I went to look for baseball mystery books, I didn’t find any, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to write one! I worked pretty hard on developing the first book, and although it took a lot of rewrites, it was finally published by Random House as The Fenway Foul-Up.

MB: Which book was the most fun to write?

DK: It’s hard to say. I really have enjoyed writing them all. Some of the books were harder than the others. For example, I struggled with book number 3, The L.A. Dodger, because I couldn’t figure out the right mystery. As for which one was most fun to write, I think that The San Francisco Splash might be it. I had a really great time working in all the sights around San Francisco, and getting Mike and Kate to Alcatraz to capture a criminal.

[The San Francisco Splash is also my favorite one!]

MB: How many ballparks have you visited? What is your favorite ballpark?

DK: I haven’t visited all the 30 ballparks yet, but I hope to. I visited around 14 of them so far. My favorite ballpark is always the one I’m currently writing about, which in this case is the Detroit Tigers’ stadium (that will be Ballpark Mysteries #11). It’s a great stadium and setting for a story because there are tigers all over the ballpark—from tiger heads on the walls outside, to massive tiger sculptures on the scoreboard.

MB: So you are planing more Ballpark Mysteries books?

DK: Yes, definitely. There will be at least 4 more Ballpark Mysteries after book #9, The Philly Fake. Two more are coming out next year, and two more in 2016. Hopefully we’ll have more after that. The next two (in 2015) will be mysteries set in the Toronto Blue Jays stadium and the Detroit Tigers stadium.

MB: How do you come up with the ideas for the books?  How long does it take to write one?

DK: This is a great question. I come up with the mysteries for each book by visiting each stadium that I write about. I take a lot of notes and pictures on my phone, and then I go home and do some research on the team. To create the mystery, I try to come up with something that’s related to the ballparks or the team’s history (for example in the The L.A. Dodger, I have the mystery be related to the team’s move from New York City to Los Angeles in the 1950s).

I usually takes about 3 months to write a Ballpark Mysteries book (but during that time I’m also usually working on other projects as well). It takes me about a week to do the research, and then about 3 weeks to create an outline and plot out the book. Another month to write the book, once I have the outline worked out, and then another few weeks to do revisions. They’re usually written about 18-24 months in advance of the publication date, so that the artist has time to create the artwork.

MB: Do you plan on writing any other books about other sports?

DK: Yes! I have a possible set of Football Mysteries in development and I’m also already working on a series of books about a group of elementary school children who form a club and play all different types of sports.

MB: Last question.  Since you write all about different baseball stadiums, what’s your favorite thing to eat at a baseball game?

DK: I always start off the standard—a basic hot dog with relish and mustard. Then, I’ll look around for other interesting foods that might be on sale at the stadium. Although I didn’t try it, the Texas Rangers park had the biggest hot dog (or maybe it was a sausage) that I’ve ever seen. I usually try a pretzel, too, and perhaps some ice cream.

Thanks to David A. Kelly for taking the time to talk about his Ballpark Mysteries series of baseball books for kids.  You can order all of them from Amazon.com or buy them at any bookstore.  They are really fun books for kids from age 6 to about 13.  Most of them only cost about $5.00 or less on Amazon, so they are definitely a good deal too!

 

Special Season Ends With A Bang!

1 jznoni In a season of walk-offs, improbable wins, home runs, and clinches, there couldn’t have been any better way to finish off the 2014 season. Jordan Zimmermann threw the Expos/Nationals’ franchise’s 5th No-Hitter on Sunday, backed by the most unbelievable catch ever by Steven Souza Jr.

The quickest games of 2014 were both pitched by the same man- Jordan Zimmermann. He took a 1-0 loss on June 13th, playing the Cardinals, in 2 hours and 3 minutes, and threw his no-hitter in a stunning 2 hours and 1 minute. The last Nationals/Expos no-hitter was thrown in 1991, before Bryce Harper was born, when the Expos finished with a 71-90 record, and were in 6th place in the NL East. The Brewers were in the AL, the Braves played in the West, Michael Jackson was alive, the popular show The Rugrats debuted, Britney Spears was on a show called Star Search, and Dr. Seuss died. Now, in 2014, the Nationals finished 96-66, and are in first place in the National League East and headed to the playoffs.

The catch was unbelievable. Souza ran like he was racing a cheetah, and out of nowhere he made an AMAZING catch. He stretched out his arm and almost mimicked Jim Edmonds.  As the ball flew in the air, Jordan looked like he’d just lost his no-hitter, but once Souza made the play, the stadium erupted and Zimmermann raised his arms in victory.   I was batting in my baseball game, but when my mom showed me the news, it was cause for a celebration. I couldn’t believe it actually happened. Jordan Zimmermann just made history by throwing the 5th no-hitter in franchise history.

 

THAT WAS AWESOME.

 

Last year when Gio almost threw his No-No, I asked my readers which Nat would be the first to throw a No Hitter.  My readers are pretty baseball-smart – more than half of my readers thought JZ would be the first!

Win A Copy Of Derek Jeter’s The Contract Here!

2014-09-08 Jeter ContractLast week, I wrote a review of Derek Jeter’s new kids book THE CONTRACT. Derek Jeter liked what I wrote about him so much that he put my post on his Facebook.

The book officially goes on sale on Tuesday, September 23, but Jeter Publishing and Simon & Schuster gave me a few extra copies to give away to Matt’s Bats readers.  They are really nice, new hard cover books that any kid (elementary or middle school) would like.
Here is how to get a free copy.  I made it like a contest with 2 different ways to enter and win:
  •  Send me a picture of your baseball-loving kid (son, daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, friend, or grandkid). If you are a baseball-loving kid, send a picture of yourself.
  • Tell me what your favorite Matt’s Bats post is. You can choose one from this year or go through the Archives to find another one (see the bar on the right side of the MattsBats.com homepage).
  • If you don’t have a picture and don’t have a favorite Matt’s Bats post (if this is true what is wrong with you?), then send me a good reason why you should get the book.  Maybe you know a charity or school library that could use a copy.  I already donated one copy to my school library.

If you still really want a copy of Derek Jeter’s THE CONTRACT, but can’t wait to win one, buy one right now on Amazon.com.

The best way to send me your entries it to send them to me on Twitter at @MattsBats.  If you don’t have a Twitter, you can also leave them as a comment on this post or send them in an email using the link at www.mattsbats.com/contact.

As the Captain finishes off his home career on Thursday against the Orioles, he has started a new career in writing a series based on his childhood, and I think they will be widely popular.

The Washington Nationals Clinch the NL East!

harperfirehelmet Tonight was an exciting night.  The Nationals clinched the National League East Division with a 3-0 win over their rivals, the Atlanta Braves.  This is the second time in three years that the Nats have won the Championship.

The Nationals had high expectations in 2013, but didn’t fulfill it. The Atlanta Braves were the winners that year.  But last night, the Nats were the winners and extinguished (get it- Fireman Bryce, extinguish) the Braves from the playoffs.

This 2014 campaign ended with champagne, and it began a new chapter to the story. This is definitely an accomplishment for the Nats after a tough season, stuffed with injuries, setbacks and overturned challenges. I think the turning point was when the Nationals went on 10-game winning streak.  At the same time, the Braves played great baseball but struggled to make up any ground.  The Nats pulled away to a 14.5 game lead and closed the door on the Braves on their home field.

And as color commentator F.P. Santangelo said on the TV broadcast, D.C. stands for Division Champs.

The Nationals’ cross-town rivals, the Baltimore Orioles, also won their Division last night for the first time since 1997.  My favorite tweet last night from the celebrations was this one:

 

This turned out to be a very exciting day for me.  Not only did my favorite team win their Division, but Yankees Captain Derek Jeter featured one of my posts on his Facebook page.  He brought thousands and thousands and thousands of new readers to MattsBats.com yesterday.

JeterFacebook

Read my post about Jeter’s new book and pre-order a copy today to be delivered when it comes out next week.  I will be having free book giveaways on my website and Twitter (@MattsBats).

 

Possible Postseason Conflict For Some Religious Baseball Players

sandy-koufaxLast week, MLB announced the 2014 postseason schedule, and it turns out that both Games 1 and 2 of the National  League Division Series and both Games 2 of the American League Division Series fall on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. The holiday begins at sundown on Friday, October 3, and ends at sundown on Saturday, October 4.

Yom Kippur is the most important Jewish holiday.  It is the day of repentance where Jewish people fast to ask for foregiveness for the wrongs they have caused.

There have been other times when the baseball post-season took place over Yom Kippur.  Most  baseball fans will instantly know that in the 1965 World Series, Dodgers star pitcher Sandy Koufax took that day off to observe that holiday.  Also, in 1934, Tigers superstar Hank Greenberg refused to play on Yom Kippur even though the Tigers were in the middle of a pennant race.  Neither Koufax or Greenberg were ever very religious, but Koufax explained why he didn’t pitch on Yom Kippur 1965: “There was never any decision to make … because there was never any possibility that I would pitch. Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Jewish religion. The club knows that I don’t work that day.”

As the 2014 season winds down, some Jewish major league ballplayers will have to think about whether they are going to play on Yom Kippur. Some playoff-contending teams have Jewish players who may want to take a day off to observe the holiday. Some notable Jewish players on likely playoff-bound teams are Ryan Braun (Milwaukee Brewers, 1.5 back in the NL Wild Card), Ike Davis (Pittsburgh Pirates, 2nd NL Wild Card Spot), Sam Fuld and Nate Freiman (Oakland A’s, 1st AL Wild Card Spot ), Ian Kinsler (Detroit Tigers, 1st in AL Central), Joc Pederson (Los Angeles Dodgers, 1st in NL West), and Danny Valencia and Kevin Pillar (Toronto Blue Jays, 4 games back in the AL Wild Card). Also, Brad Ausmus, the manager of the Tigers, and MLB commissioner Bud Selig  are probably also going to observe the holiday.  Teams owners, Ted Lerner and family, owners of the first-place Nationals, and Lewis Wolff, owner of the A’s, are Jewish too.

MLB probably didn’t make the post-season schedule conflict with the holiday on purpose.  They need to get the games in, and that’s just the way the calendar happened.  However, given the importance of the holiday for the people who observe the religion, many Jewish fans may choose not to go to the games and many Jewish players or coaches may not play in the games.  The players and coaches face a hard decision, because it could also be some of the most important games of their career.  Just like Sandy Koufax in 1965, it is possible that Ryan Braun or Ian Kinsler may be remembered  for the next 50 years by putting their religious beliefs first and not playing.  We will see what happens.

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