My Picks For The 2015 MLB All-Star Game

2015ASGThe All-Star starters are going to be announced today at 7:30 on ESPN. Every year (2013, 2014) I write a post about who I think should become an All-Star. Here are my 2015 selections.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

CATCHER: STEPHEN VOGT- OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Vogt has had a breakout 1st half, with 13 HRs, 53 RBIs, and a .295 average for a struggling Oakland ballclub. He had a fantastic May, and I think he should get the start over bigger names like Russell Martin, TOR, Evan Gattis, HOU, and Salvador Perez, KC

1ST BASEMAN- ALBERT PUJOLS- LOS ANGELES ANGELS

With 24 home runs and 51 RBIs, my vote for starting first baseman is Albert Pujols.  He is a future Hall of Famer and is having his best season since leaving the Cardinals.  He has a lot of competition, including Jose Bautista (a DH who plays first base in inter-league games), Mark Teixiera, who is having a great year for the Yankees.  I think there’s also a good case for Logan Forsythe, a name that not everyone knows.  He’s a utility player for the Tampa Bay Rays who sometimes plays first base.  He leads all AL 1st basemen with 7 stolen bases, and has only committed 1 error the entire year. He also sports a .278 average.  However, my vote is for the safe choice: Albert Pujols.

2ND BASEMAN- BRIAN DOZIER- MINNESOTA TWINS

While he isn’t having a season like he did last year, Dozier’s cause for the ASG is backed by the statistics. Dozier has 40 RBIs for the Twins this year, and he has scored a whopping 61 runs. He also has hit 16 home runs for Minnesota. Other contenders include the guys who will likely start over Dozier, Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros and Jason Kipnis of the Indians.  Another possibility that probably won’t happen is Jimmy Paredes of the Baltimore Orioles who is having a very good year but is not going to win the All Star vote popularity contest.

3RD BASEMAN- JOSH DONALDSON- TORONTO BLUE JAYS

The winner of the 2012 Triple Crown, Miguel Cabrera, has a .345 average with 53 runs batted in for the Tigers this year, and I would make him my first choice for the AL All Star team. However, his injury on Friday probably means that even if he gets the fan vote, someone else will start. And I think that person is going to be Josh Donaldson, who has played fantastically this year for Toronto.  Other contenders: L. Valbuena, HOU, and M. Machado, BAL.

SHORTSTOP- HANLEY RAMIREZ- BOSTON RED SOX

Even though he was on the DL earlier this year, Hanley Ramirez, the Red Sox signee over the offseason, has power and productivity, and they should call his name when they announce the lineup in Cincinnati. He has 16 homers on the year, 43 runs scored, and 39 runs batted in for a team in the cellar of the AL East. Ramirez deserves the spot, and lots of Red Sox fans will probably help him get there. Other contenders: J. Iglesias, DET, J. Reyes, TOR

OUTFIELD: BRETT GARDNER, NEW YORK YANKEES, MIKE TROUT, LOS ANGELES ANGELS, J.D. MARTINEZ, DETROIT TIGERS

Mike Trout is always a definite start for the All-Star Game: he was the only non-Royal to have a lead in a position when all the Royals fans hacked the All-Star ballot. But I think that J.D. Martinez from the Tigers and Brett Gardner from the Yankees have the skills to beat other major contenders to get spots starting. Other contenders: J. Bautista, TOR, N.Cruz, SEA, B. Burns, OAK, L. Cain, KC, C. Colabello, TOR.

PITCHERS– DALLAS KEUCHEL- HOUSTON ASTROS, WADE DAVIS, KANSAS CITY ROYALS, GLEN PERKINS, MINNESOTA TWINS

The pitching positions are selected by the manager, not fan vote.  And it’s hard to list all the pitchers who will appear in relief.  However, my pick to start for the AL is Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros.  Keuchel has been phenomenal in his starts for Houston. He has a 10-3 record in 17 starts this year for the first place ‘Stros. Keuchel has a 2.03  ERA for the Astros, and should get the start.

In the bullpen, the Royals set-up man Wade Davis, who has an ERA under 0.30, should definitely get a spot. So should the MLB saves leader, Glen Perkins.  Perkins has the talent to become the AL’s top closer, and to get the closer role here in the ASG.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

CATCHER- BUSTER POSEY- SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

An obvious choice for All-Star game voters, Posey leads all NL catchers with 14 homers and 57 RBIs for the team. Posey is a fan favorite and frequent starter in the game– usually fans vote for either Posey or Yadier Molina of the Cardinals to be the NL starting catcher. Since Molina has been on the DL and he hasn’t been playing well, it’s Posey for the win.

1ST BASEMAN- PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT- ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Goldschmidt has been playing amazingly for the Diamondbacks. He has hit 20 home runs and driven in 66 RBIs for Arizona in 2015. Goldschmidt’s name should be called on Sunday when they announce the winners.  The next closest contender is Anthony Rizzo, who has slugged 15 home runs and racked up 45 RBIs, with 12 stolen bases.

2ND BASEMAN- JUSTIN TURNER- LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Here’s my underdog pick.  Justin Turner of the L.A. Dodgers deserves a spot on the diamond playing next to his NL West foe Paul Goldschmidt. He’s hit a grand total of 11 home runs, and he has driven in 37 runs for the Dodgers this year. The biggest challenge for Turner to actually make the teams is overcoming the challenge of Dee Gordon, the speedy Marlins second baseman. Gordon leads the league in stolen bases and average for 2nd basemen. So it came down to fielding. Gordon has made 4 errors this year, while Turner hasn’t whiffed at 2nd base.

3RD BASEMAN- TODD FRAZIER- CINCINNATI REDS

Frazier is going to get a big applause and cheer from fans at Great American Ball Park when his name is called. With 25 home runs, he leads all MLB third basemen, and he has the most runs scored out of all NL 3Bs. Todd’s closest competition is Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies, who is 2nd in almost every category.

SHORTSTOP- BRANDON CRAWFORD- SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Finding an outstanding shortstop in the NL this season is hard.  I think Brandon Crawford should be the NL’s starting shortstop. He has a whopping 47 RBIs so far for the Giants, and has eleven home runs for the team too. His productivity at the plate for San Francisco is huge, and that should get him into the game in the 1st inning on July 14th. Other contenders: T. Tulowitzki, COL, J. Segura, MIL, A. Simmons, ATL

OUTFIELD:BRYCE HARPER- WASHINGTON NATIONALS, RYAN BRAUN, MILWAUKEE BREWERS, JOC PEDERSON- LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Bryce Harper is the obvious choice for oufield, having taken the lead among all NL outfielders in runs, homers, and RBIs. As a Nationals fan, he is fun to watch everyday, and fans all across baseball should get to see him play.  Joc Pederson of the Dodgers has torn up the NL West with his monster blasts into the seats and is one of the best young talents. Finally, Ryan Braun, who used to be one of the elite baseball players in the league, turned it on this year, after coming back from his PED suspension.  Braun should be the Brewers’ representative at the ASG. Other contenders, and there are a lot of them: A.J. Pollock, ARI, D. Fowler, CHC, A. McCutchen, PIT.

PITCHERS– MAX SCHERZER- WASHINGTON NATIONALS,  TREVOR ROSENTHAL– ST. LOUIS CARDINALS, MARK MELANCON, PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Max Scherzer has got to be the unanimous choice for the starter. He has pitched amazingly in his past few games, including a near-perfect no-hitter.  He sports a batting average higher than his ERA.

The bullpen will also definitely include Trevor Rosenthal of the Cardinals, who has a 0.70 ERA with 24 saves, and Mark Melancon of the Pirates, who has more saves than any other NL closer.

Whoever makes the team, it’s always fun to watch the best players face off in the Mid-Summer Classic.

Did you like my picks? If there was anyone I missed tweet to me @MattsBats or leave a comment.

 

Baseball Summer Reading List for MattsBats.com

Imagine you as a kid, waiting for the bell to ring on the last day of school. In your head, you count down the time. 2:45, 2:46, 2:47 until the teacher assigns summer reading to the class. The class groans. Well, if your school year just ended and you did get assigned summer reading, I’m sorry.

I’ve decided to take the same concept and switch it up a little. Here is the MattsBats.com Baseball Summer Reading List! It is a list of books about baseball that I lover or that I will be reading this summer!

There are books on here for adults and kids.  So if you happen to be flying somewhere far away this summer or just sitting on the beach, here are a few books to check out.

HIT AND MISS- DEREK JETER AND PAUL MANTELL

hamHit And Miss is the 2nd book in Derek Jeter’s series for young readers. It is about a young Derek who meets a boy from Beverly Hills named Dave, who has a personal driver and a Mercedes, so everyone thinks he is a stuck-up rich kid. He turns out to be best friends with Derek. Buy your copy here.

 

 

TY COBB: A TERRIBLE BEAUTY- CHARLES LEERHSEN

tcAtb This book by former SI sportswriter Charlie Leerhsen is a biography on the Georgia Peach, Ty Cobb. This is a great biography on the league’s most interesting player ever. This is a book mainly for adults and asks whether Cobb’s reputation as a racist is true.  Click on the link above to learn more about Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty.

 

 

1 iut fr thor OUT AT HOME- CAL RIPKEN

Out At Home is a book by Cal Ripken about a guy named Zoom who is an arrogant player who tries to fit in with the rest of his team.  They try to defeat the mighty Yankees to win the championship and readers get to see a transformation in the main character.  It’s a great light reading book for kids.  Buy your copy at the link above.

 

THE CLOSER- MARIANO RIVERA

The Closer: My Story by former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is an autobiography of 1 mbMariano’s storied career as the closer for the New York Yankees, and the last active player in MLB to wear #42. It takes you through Mariano’s career through the Minors and as a fisherman in Puerto Caimito, Panama. There is also a children’s version, available here.

 

 

THE LAST NATURAL- ROB MIECH

TheLastNaturalThe Last Natural is a book by Rob Miech about Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper and his journey as a baseball player at the College of Southern Nevada. Rob followed Bryce through his college years, so he was able to write about his baseball career and his personal life at the same time. Click on the link above for more details.

 

 

 BALLPARK MYSTERIES- DAVID A. KELLY

fenwayfoulup David A. Kelly writes a series called Ballpark Mysteries, where 2 kids named Mike and Kate go to different ballparks around the country to solve mysteries. Although the next book doesn’t come out until February 23, 2016 (The Rangers Rustlers), you can enjoy the other books. They are: The Fenway Foul-Up, The Pinstripe Ghost, The L.A. Dodger, The Astro Outlaw, The All-Star Joker, The Wrigley Riddle, The San Francisco Splash, The Missing Marlin, The Philly Fake, The Rookie Blue Jay, and The Tiger Troubles.

 

These books are some of my favorite baseball books. If you read them too, tweet me @MattsBats on Twitter and tell me what you think.  I hope you have a good summer!

Max Scherzer’s Near Perfect No-Hitter: Bring On The Chocolate Sauce!

scherzchocolatesauce Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer tossed a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates yesterday.  It was amazing, because last week against the Brewers he went 7 innings without giving up a hit, and the only hit of the game was a blooper just over Anthony Rendon’s head that might have been catchable.

Yesterday, he was 1 strike away from perfection, as he had a 2-2 count on Jose Tabata. In a perfect game, a pitcher has 27 straight outs without allowing a batter to reach base.  That means no walks, errors, hit by pitch, just 27 up and 27 down.  Scherzer took his perfect game into the 9th inning with 2 outs.  The outcome was like the squirrel in the Phillies game this week– it all came falling down.

Tabata obviously leaned in on Scherzer’s slider and broke up his perfect game. As you can see in this Vine, it’s obvious that Tabata leaned in to get the HBP and end the bid for perfection.

Here are some thoughts about the historic almost perfect no-no:

  • In the last 57 batters faced (28 yesterday, 29 last week), Max Scherzer has only allowed 1 hit.  He has gotten 2 hits himself during that span. He’s had more hits than he’s allowed. 
  • Jordan Zimmermann, who threw a no-no to end the 2014 season, doused Scherzer with chocolate sauce during the postgame interviews. Anthony Rendon did the Gatorade, and Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth dumped more chocolate sauce on him. Werth hit sideline reporter Dan Kolko with sauce too– read about Kolko’s reaction to getting doused in my Matt’s Bats Chat with him.

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  • Scherzer’s no-hitter put the Nats back in first place in the NL East. 
  • This was Scherzer’s third complete game.  His second was last week.  His first was last year.In both Jordan Zimmermann and Max Scherzer’s no hitters, the second out of the 9th was caught by the centerfielder and the third was caught by the left fielder.
  • The last perfect game in MLB history was thrown by Felix Hernandez in 2012.  Armando Gallarraga almost threw a perfect game in 2010, but umpire Jim Joyce called the 27th batter safe at first when he was actually out.  He later apologized for the missed call that broke up the perfect game and no-hitter.  This led to baseball adopting instant replay.
  • I asked on Twitter who Nats fans are going to hate more: Jose Tabata for breaking up the perfect game by leaning into the pitcher, or Pete Kozma, who scored the go-ahead run against the Nats in the 2012 NLDS.  My readers overwhelmingly picked Kozma, mainly because the stakes were higher in the playoff game.  Still, 8 people thought Tabata is the bigger jerk.
  • The Pirates gave Scherzer and the Nationals a nice tip of the cap on Twitter

 

  • Do you think Tabata, who’s in the starting lineup, or the best Pirates player, Andrew McCutchen, will get intentionally hit by the Nats today?  I don’t think he should. Read why here.
  • Can you imagine what the reaction would be like if Bryce Harper broke up a perfect game by leaning into a pitch?  Baseball would be going crazy with the hate! #OverHated
  • This was the 5th no hitter in WSH/MON franchise history.
  • After almost pitching a no-hitter last week, and almost pitching a perfect game this week, what is he going to do his next start? Will he be the next Johnny Van Der Meer (the only pitcher in MLB history to throw back to back no-hitters) and throw 2 straight no hitters?  Will he pitch an immaculate game– 27 straight strikeouts?  Or maybe a 27-pitch perfect game!

 

The Washington Nationals’ Triple Crown Winners

This was originally published yesterday on MASNsports.com  To see all of the posts I have written for MASN, visit my Archive.

If you’re like me, you were glued to the TV on Saturday evening, watching the Belmont Stakes to see American Pharoah win the Triple Crown. In horse racing, the Triple Crown means that a horse wins the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes in the same year. American Pharoah was the first Triple Crown winner since a horse named Affirmed did it in 1978. American Pharoah’s win on Saturday ended a 37-year drought for thoroughbred racing’s biggest prize. (It was also more fun to watch than the Nationals games this weekend.)

The race got me thinking about another hard to achieve prize – baseball’s Triple Crown. In baseball, winning the Triple Crown means leading the league in batting average, home runs and RBIs. The last major leaguer to win the hitting Triple Crown was Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012. Miggy was the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years. He was the first to do it since Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

There’s also a lesser-known Triple Crown for pitching. To win that, a pitcher needs to lead the league in ERA, wins and strikeouts. The last time there was a pitching triple crown was in 2011, and it was shared by Detroit’s Justin Verlander and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw.

As the Nationals celebrate their 10 year anniversary, are there any players in Nationals history good enough to be declared Triple Crown winners? I looked at the players over the 10-year history of the Nats who had at least one year playing with the team.

When it comes to batting stats, we have a clear Triple Crown winner – Ryan Zimmerman. The Nationals’ face of the franchise, Zimmerman leads all of the Nationals in all three hitting categories, and like American Pharoah, he wins this category by several lengths. Over the course of Zimmerman’s career, his batting average is .282, he’s driven in 744 RBIs, and hit 189 homers. So far this year, he is batting .213 (well below his career average), and has five home runs and 34 RBIs. He averages about 24 homers and 96 RBIs a year over his career, so about one-third of the way into the 2015 season, he’s a little behind pace there, too.

Zimmerman leads the Nationals in almost every career hitting category. He has the most runs scored, highest slugging percentage, most hits, longest hitting streak and most extra base hits. He has the most career home runs in Nationals history, and also most singles and doubles. The record for most triples, interestingly, belongs to Cristian Guzman, with 28.

When it comes to pitching, there is no single player who wins the ERA, strikeout and wins categories. Jordan Zimmermann wins in two categories, and Stephen Strasburg wins in one, but it is a very close race.

Zimmermann has the most wins of any pitcher in Nationals history with 62. Strasburg has 46. Zimmermann easily wins this leg of the Triple Crown.

On the other hand, Strasburg leads in strikeouts, with 791. Zimmermann is right behind with 787. It’s Strasburg by a nose!

At the end of last season, Strasburg led the ERA category with a career average of 3.02. This year, however, his ERA is up to 6.55, which increased his career number to 3.25. Zimmermann now sports a slightly better 3.23 ERA. This category is also a photo finish!

Keep in mind that Zimmermann joined the Nats a year earlier than Strasburg, and has pitched 38 more games in his career than Strasburg. Zimmermann came back from his Tommy John surgery before Strasburg went on the DL for his. The comparison between them may be a little bit unfair, then. Although it’s not part of the Triple Crown,

Zimmermann did pitch the first no-hitter in Nats history, so he gets a special recognition for that achievement.

It’s easy to declare Zimmerman the American Pharoah of the Nationals. The race for the pitching Triple Crown is a very close one between Zimmermann and Strasburg, and it will be interesting to see which horse wins.

First Time At Fenway!

IMG_4200As many of you know, I visited Boston, Massachusetts over Memorial Day Weekend. I had a great experience at Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox since 1912. It is the oldest baseball stadium in the MLB. Keep reading to see some of the pictures and hear about my amazing encounters with Mike Trout, Hanley Ramirez, Mike Napoli and others.

Before I tell you about my experience, I’ll tell you about the history of Fenway Park.  James E. McLaughlin, a builder from Boston, Massachusetts, got a plot of land in between Ipswich and Lansdowne streets in downtown Boston to build a ballpark in 1911.  Construction finished in 1912.  Now, 103 years later, Fenway Park is one of the most popular spaces in Boston.   The Red Sox won the World Series in the first year they played at Fenway Park, then not again for 86 years, in 2004, the year I was born.

The largest crowds in Fenway History came not in 2013 (when almost 37,500 fans watched the Sox win the World Series), but in 1914, when 50,000 people came to watch three elephants parade though the streets on their way to the Franklin Park Zoo!

IMG_4229One of the most unique parts of Fenway Park is the Green Monster, the highest wall in a MLB ballpark.  It is 37 feet tall and 240 feet long and looms over left field.  Balls hit off the Green Monster are in play, so you’ll often see outfielders set themselves up to play the ball off the bounce.

The Green Monster holds the only ladder on a major league field of play and a manual scoreboard. For the first 91 years of Fenway Park, you couldn’t sit on the Green Monster, but starting in 2003 you can now sit and watch a game from seats built into the top.  For die-hard Sox fans, you can actually buy the exact same paint they use at Fenway at Benjamin Moore stores in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

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The deepest part of Fenway Park is in straight-away centerfield, at 420 feet from home plate. Fenway is tied with Comerica Park in Detroit for the 2nd longest distance from home plate to center field, more than Marlins Park in Miami and 15 feet smaller than Minute Maid Park in Houston.

A lot of people compare Fenway to America’s other iconic baseball stadium, Wrigley Field, which I visited last year on its 100th anniversary. Fenway has the Green Monster, but Wrigley has the ivy covering their brick outfield walls.  I think Fenway has a little more charm to it, but maybe that’s because they’ve spent a lot of money renovating it and making it a comfortable place to watch games.  They have built in displays of memorabilia in the walls, so you can learn about things at the game.

One of the museum-like displays around Fenway Park.

One of the museum-like displays around Fenway Park.

Wrigley is starting to go under construction now, so it’s probably more fair to compare Fenway to Wrigley in a few years from now.  Wrigley has added a couple of videoboards, but Fenway added three jumbotrons in 2011.

Now, let me tell you a little more about my amazing day.  We got to the stadium about 4 hours before the game because the Red Sox left pre-game field passes for me.  First, though, we walked around the ballpark and took pictures.  We went to the top of the Green Monster and went in the seats up there. I tweeted it to #myFenway and my picture ended up on the Fenway Park videoboard during the game.

I also sat in the red seat in right field, which is where Ted Williams hit the longest home run in the history of Fenway Park. 

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Then we went down to the field in the nearly-empty stadium.  It was really cool that I was stepping on the same dirt that Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, and George Herman “Babe” Ruth stood on in years past.  There were tour groups that were there for the majority of BP. If you ever visit Boston, you can join a Tour Group that gets you on the field and up to the Green Monster.

Some highlights from batting practice: Mike Napoli tossed me a baseball, which I later got Hanley Ramirez to sign when he was mingling with the fans.  That night during the game, Napoli hit 2 home runs.  Ramirez didn’t hit any during the game, but during BP he hit a series of humongous homers, some of them clearing the Green Monster and landing on Landsdowne Street.

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While the Angels were taking BP, bench coach Dino Ebel came over to the sidelines.  I saw he was holding Albert Pujols’ glove, and he let me try it on.  Pujols is a future Hall of Famer, so this was an incredible opportunity.

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The biggest highlight was when one of the best players in baseball, Angels outfielder Mike Trout, came over to me to sign autographs. I was lucky enough to get his signature on my baseball, and I was really excited.

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I also got to meet the broadcasters for that day’s game, Joe Buck and Harold Reynolds. They were both interested in hearing about my blog.

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Around 7:15pm, the game started.  We had fantastic seats, thanks to a family friend. Four of them were right in front of the on-deck circle– Section 34 Row 1–and the other 4 were near the batters box in the front row– Section 38. It is so awesome sitting so close.  David Ortiz photobombed us in the background! I got another baseball from sitting so close.  We were on TV a bunch of times, and it was a nationally-televised Fox game.

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It was also a good game.  Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun opened the scoring with a double off the Green Monster, scoring Albert Pujols and Erick Aybar in the 1st inning off Boston’s knuckleballer Steven Wright. But in the 2nd, Mike Napoli cut the lead in half with a liner over the wall for a home run. The funniest part is that the ball landed just short of a sign that said “HIT IT HERE”.

The view from our seats

The view from our seats

The next inning, Shane Victorino was pulled out of the game with an injury, and Mookie Betts replaced him. Betts singled in a run.

There wasn’t any more scoring until the 6th inning, when Mike Napoli creamed a CJ Wilson pitch over the Green Monster and onto Landsdowne Street for a huge homer. That was his second of the game.  After the home team homers, the John Hancock sign above the videoboard in straightaway centerfield blinks and is lit up.

In the middle of the 8th inning, the Red Sox play Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline. The lyrics have nothing to do with baseball, but it became a Fenway tradition to sing in the 8th inning.

The Red Sox didn’t end there, getting RBI hits from Xander Bogaerts, Blake Swihart, and more from Mookie Betts.  Mike Trout also recorded an RBI. The final score after Koji Uehara struck out Johnny Giavotella was Red Sox 8, Angels 3. Knuckleballer Steven Wright got his 2nd win and C.J. Wilson got his 3rd loss. Alexi Ogando got his 4th hold. There was no save situation.

I want to thank the Red Sox and Abby from the Media Relations department for giving me this opportunity to go on the field at Fenway Park.  I also want to thank our friends who got us the tickets. It made a special day much better.  I felt like a superstar, and it wasn’t just because a lady asked me to autograph a ball for her!

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This is the 11th MLB ballpark I’ve visited.  Fenway Park may not contend with the exterior beauty of places like PNC Park in Pittsburgh or AT&T Park in San Francisco.  It may not have as many activities as Petco Park in San Diego, and certainly is not as modern as Marlins Park in Miami.  But it is definitely one of the best places in the world to watch a baseball game and feel both a part of the history and all the conveniences of the 21st century.  I am glad that I had a great experience at a great ballpark, and got to see the home team win.

First Month on MASN

masn

It’s been a great first month as a weekly guest blogger for MASN, the official TV broadcast of the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles.  Yesterday, I published my 5th post for the MASNsports.com website.  My column comes out every Tuesday, so check online at the Nationals Buzz section of the MASNsports.com website, or follow MASNnationals on Twitter.  Or follow me on Twitter at @MattsBats or sign up to get an email every time a new post publishes.  To get the email, sign up on the right side of the MattsBats.com main page.  You can also follow on WordPress or using this RSS link.

In case you missed any of my posts so far, here are links to them.

Think Pink On Mother’s Day- Why Louisville Slugger Makes Pink Bats

Pink Bat For Ryan Zimmerman to use on Mother's Day

Pink Bat For Ryan Zimmerman to use on Mother’s Day

You will see something unusual if you watch a MLB baseball game today.  MLB players will be using Louisville Slugger pink bats for breast cancer awareness in the contests on Sunday.  Pink everywhere on Mother’s Day!

In the ten years MLB and Louisville Slugger have teamed up, over 5,000 bats have been swung for the cause.

The bats are made the same way as a regular baseball bat. They are made just the right length and weight for each individual player.  However, when they get to the painting station, they hold and turn the bat in pink paint until the bat is either half covered or fully covered in pink paint (according to the player’s choice). After it’s stamped with the player’s name and autograph, it’s ready for shipping.

 

 

Louisville Slugger Factory worker checks pink bats as they dry after being dipped.

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On Mother’s Day, players will also wear a symbolic pink ribbon on their uniforms and pink wrist bands. The games will be played with a pink-stitched Rawlings baseball. Fans can bid on authenticated, game-used Louisville Slugger pink bats from Mother’s Day games on MLB.com to benefit the fight against breast cancer.  Fans can also buy their own pink personalized Louisville Slugger bats on MLB.com or sluggergifts.com, and $10 from each sale will be donated to breast cancer charity.

You may recall my Matt’s Bats Chat with National Symphony Orchestra violinist Glenn Donnellan who occasionally plays the National Anthem at Nats Park. Well, in honor of Mother’s Day a couple years ago, Glenn played the Star-Spangled Banner at Citi Field on a Pink Electric Slugger. Isn’t that neat!

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Each MLB team also has its own “Honorary Bat Girl.” This person was voted on by the public through a contest to choose the baseball fan who has been affected by breast cancer and who is committed to eradicating the disease. Tracy Lustig from Alexandria is the Nats’ honorary bat girl. I hope she does well at the game today!

Guest Post: Fenway Fun Day!

If you remember, a few weeks ago I tweeted about a little boy, Ben, who was going to the Nationals-Red Sox game in Boston.

 

He picked a good game to see.  That was the day the Nats beat the Sox 10-to-5.

Ben is my little brother’s classmate, and he is in second grade.  When he got back from his Boston trip, I asked him if he wanted to write something about his trip.  Ben is an avid reader of my blog, and I wanted to give something back to him. So, without further adieu, here is Ben’s guest post!

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Written by Ben Belford-Peltzman, age 8

Last week was the first time the Nats played at Fenway Park. Fenway Park was built in 1912. It is the oldest stadium in major league baseball.

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When the 2015 MLB schedule was announced I said I really want to go to see the Nats play at Fenway. B with tall SoxMy mom grew up in Boston. She’s been to Fenway Park. My Aunt helped us get tickets. I was SO excited!

I woke up early and put on my Nats uniform. We flew out of National Airport.

When I arrived at the ballpark it was already crowded 2 hours before the game. We went to our seats. Our seats were 5 rows from the visitors dugout near 3rd base. Before the game I stood next to the dugout and waited for the Nats players and coaches to come out.

I saw Stephen Strasburg first and asked for his autograph. Then I got to meet Mike Rizzo, Steve McCatty, Matt Williams, Wilson Ramos, Michael Taylor, Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper!

B with DesiB with RamosB with RizzoBryceMatt WilliamsMichael Taylor

I hope in 22 years that I can have Matt Williams’ job! I can pick who plays, make trades, and get good players. I want a job where I can think about baseball everyday!

1 jrIt was also Jackie Robinson Day. Everyone on both teams wore the number 42. That was Jackie Robinson’s number. He was the first African-American player to play in the big leagues. First he played with the Kansas City Monarchs. Then he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was fast and he hit well. He won awards like National League Rookie of the Year. Every stadium retired his number.

Here is a picture of Jayson Werth wearing number 42.

Jayson with 42

I usually watch the games on MASN. I listen to F.P. Santangelo, Dan Kolko, Bob Carpenter, Johnny Holliday and Ray Knight. They explain things well. Sometimes they are funny or serious but I like them. I got to meet F.P. and Dan Kolko.

B with Dan KolkoB with JP

The seats were the best I’ve ever had. We were so close to the field and the dugout. Most of the game I stood against the fence right next to the dugout.

During the 4th inning someone in the front row had to leave. So then the other people in the front row said I could sit with them (the whole time my mom was sitting in her seat talking to people.)They were all cheering for the Red Sox. They also really wanted me to get a foul ball. They kept yelling for me to get a ball.

Foul Ball!

 

In the fifth inning Max Scherzer threw gum to me. I caught it and chewed it for a lot of hours.

The Nationals won 10-5. Rafael Martin made is MLB debut. He pitched very well.

It was the best day! Sadly we had to fly home. We left Logan Airport after this awesome and very neat day.

B leaving Logan

 

My advice is for the team is to stay healthy. They should exercise, eat healthy things (not a lot of treats or candy) and practice more. I hope there won’t be a lot more errors! I hope no one gets into fights. I predict the team will score 702 runs including 188 home runs this season. I hope I get to see a lot more games and meet more players. I want the Nats to play well the rest of the season! They need to start beating teams like the Mets.

*****

There you go!  Another happy Nats fan having a great experience watching baseball.  It reminds me about how I became a baseball lover.  Read my guest post at Citizens of Natstown to learn all about my experience.

If you or someone you know wants to pitch an idea for a guest post on MattsBats.com, send me an email by going to My Contact page.

A Wild Win

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves If you were to travel back in time to the third inning of last night’s game and tell a Nats fan that the Nats would come back from a 9-1 deficit, they would stare at you like you were from Venus. Well, you’re not from Venus.  By the end of last night’s game, a miracle happened in the Big Peach. Backed by homers by Jose Lobaton, Denard Span, and the eventual game winner in Dan Uggla, the Nats won a wild one down in Atlanta.

Bryce Harper got things started in the first inning by doubling in Denard Span, but as quick as you can say “Coca Cola”, things got ugly. A.J. Pierzynski hit a sac fly to bring in Nick Markakis, and Alberto Callaspo doubled in Freddie Freeman. Then, Atlanta got 7 runs to make it a 9-1 game by the third inning, making it look like the game was a total bust.  That’s when I tweeted:

 

and I turned off the TV.

After that, Jayson Werth and his beard drove in Span to make it a 9-2 game.  The Braves and Pierzynski drove in a run to make it 10-2, basically a 3rd inning win for the Braves, right? No. Werth got another sac fly, and Jose Lobaton cranked one over the left field wall to make it a 10-6 game in the 5th. The next inning, Denard Span unleashed a solo shot over the scoreboard on the right field fence to make it 10-7. Pierzynski made it 11-7 by doubling in Freeman, but in the 7th, Dan Uggla doubled in two to make it 11-9.  Right after that, Reed Johnson hit a ground-rule double to make it a 1-run game. (Pitcher Doug Fister pinch ran for Johnson because he injured himself of the play– another injury for the Nats!)  Pierzynski got ANOTHER RBI and made it 12-10, but that’s when the miracle happened. In the 9th inning, Uggla took Jason Grilli’s pitch and sent it soaring over the left field fence for a 3-run blast.  The Nats were leading in the top of the 9th 13-12.

FLASHBACK!– It’s a Friday, July 20, 2012, and you are at Nats Park. You were treated to a good game, with Stephen Strasburg on the hill and the Nats leading 9-0 after 5 innings. The Braves have a big 6th scoring 4 to make it 9-4. Another 4-run inning makes the game 9-8. Then, when things couldn’t have gone more uglier, Michael Bourn tripled in Dan Uggla and Paul Janish to make the game 10-9. Ugh! They were winning 9-1 and now losing 10-9! You saw Danny Espinosa homer to left off Kimbrel to tie it up, but Janish drove Uggla in on a weak pop fly to Ian Desmond. Soon later, Atlanta won.

Last night we got our revenge.

Watch the comeback video here!

Nationals fans needed this win!  This was the biggest deficit they’d overcome since the Montreal Expos franchise moved down to Washington. Even when they struggle, they always get back on track. Hopefully this sparks a turning point in this bad season so far.

The Baseball Players Who Invented the High Five

April 16 is a special day in baseball history.  On April 16, 1941 Bob Feller threw the only Opening Day no-hitter.  Also, on this day, people celebrate National High Five Day.  What does National High Five Day have to do with baseball?  Well, the first-ever high five occurred on the field at Dodger Stadium.

On October 2, 1977, Dodgers outfielder Dusty Baker (maybe better known as the recent former Reds manager) hit a home run off of Astros pitcher J.R Richards. It was Baker’s 30th big fly.  When Baker got back to home plate, his teammate Glenn Burke raised his hand up in celebration.  Not knowing what to do, Baker just slapped it, and that became the first ever high five.  It started as a mistake by a Dodgers outfielder, but became a tradition for when celebrating you do something good.

firsthighfiveHere’s a link to a cool story on Grantland about the high five.

(Glenn Burke also has an interesting history as the first and only MLB player to be out as gay.  He faced a lot of bad prejudice and left professional baseball when he was 27).

Baseball high fives are still in the news.  About a month ago, pink eye was spreading around the Milwaukee Brewers spring training facility in Peoria, Arizona.  The team banned high fives so that players wouldn’t catch the contagious disease.  They gave fist bumps instead.

There is still some dispute over who invented the high five. Some people say that it was invented at a University of Louisville Cardinals basketball practice, when Wiley Brown and Derek Smith gave a low five to each other, but quickly changed into a high five. I like to believe that it was invented by Glenn Burke and Dusty Baker.

The “holiday” National High Five Day was started in 2002 at the University of Virginia. A group of students set up shop on the main quad of the campus and gave out high-fives and lemonade.  You can celebrate National High Five Day just by giving out high fives or tweeting with the hashtag #NH5D.

National High Five Day was celebrated by the Washington Nationals Presidents:

I hope that National High Five day is a reminder to the Nats to get back on track and that we see a a lot more of this kind of post-game celebrating this year!DSC_0521

 

 

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