November 2013

Top 10 Turkeys of the 2013 MLB Season

Happy Thanksgiving!  As Turkey Day is here, let’s look back at the Top 10 Turkeys of the 2013 MLB Season— the goofy plays, the dumb things, and foolish mistakes.  These guys are all professionals, and everyone makes mistakes, so I am not meaning to insult anyone.  But sometimes you just kind of look like a turkey!

10: The Butt Slide (Jonathan Villar)

When Astros rookie Jonathan Villar came sliding into 2nd base, he came up with a face-full of Brandon Phillips’ butt. Watch where you’re going, you turkey!

9: Intentional Plunking (Atlanta Braves)

The rivalry between the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves heated up this season. In Atlanta, they think Bryce Harper is arrogant, so a few times this year they intentionally plunked him.  That’s not right.  Especially after Harper’s friend, 13-year old cancer patient Gavin Rupp, passed.  The next homer Bryce hit was for him, and his trot around the bases was like 3 seconds slower. And that caused Julio Teheran to hit Bryce in his next at bat.  The intentional plunking continued on the next road trip to Atlanta.  Eventually Stephen Strasburg hit Justin Upton and threw behind Andrelton Simmons, which caused him to get ejected. It all goes around like a web.  Intentionally hitting batters is unacceptable, and the Braves showed fans just how much it made them look like turkeys.

8: The Pitching Change (Mike Scioscia)

Astros skipper Bo Porter put in reliever Wesley Wright, but before Wesley threw a pitch, Porter came sprinting out of the dugout, wanting to send Wright back to the bullpen and bring in Hector Ambriz. Angels manager Scioscia knew that MLB rule 3.05(b) says you can’t do that. But believe it or not, the umps voted against Anaheim and let Ambriz pitch.  The umps are the turkeys in this one.

7: The First Pitch (Carly Rae Jepsen)

Canadian pop music sensation Carly Rae Jepsen threw a bouncer for her ceremonial first pitch that only went about 6 feet. EPIC FAIL!  Call me turkey.

6: The 1-hitter (Yu Darvish, Yusmeiro Petit, and Michael Wacha)

9th inning, 2 outs, no one on, BAM! Marwin Gonzalez, Eric Chavez, and Ryan Zimmerman broke up no-hitters.  It is a big no-no to give up a no-no with 2 outs in the ninth. Petit actually had 2 STRIKES when Chavez got his hit.  You can’t really blame the the pitchers, but they probably felt like a turkey when they come so close to a historic game but lost it with 2 outs in the 9th.

5: The Foul-Ball Bat Flip (Choi Jun-Seok)

On Sep. 23, Korean player Choi Jun-Seok of the Doosan Bears thought he got all of a pitch, so he flipped his bat and raised his arms in triumph and admired his…foul ball.  I’m sorry that in the video, the only word you’ll understand is “foul.”  How do you say “turkey” in Korean?

4: The Brawl (Carlos Quentin)

Early this season, Carlos Quentin got plunked in the arm facing Zack Greinke. Normally, you take your free base and get it over with. But Quentin charged the mound, breaking Zack Greinke’s collarbone. Quentin was fined and suspended, but Greinke’s departure to the DL led the high-hoped Dodgers downhill for most of the early season.  Quentin acted like a big turkey.

3: The Hidden Ball Trick (Matt Carpenter)

Down the stretch, the Colorado Rockies were playing the St. Louis Cardinals. Roy Oswalt threw over to Todd Helton to keep Matt Carpenter close.  Helton faked the throw back to the pitcher and tagged Carpenter out when he stepped off the bag.  You fell for the old hidden ball trick, you turkey!

2: Stealing First When You’re Already on Second (Jean Segura)

The Brewers short stop Jean Segura found himself in a weird situation.  He took first, stole second base, and attempted to steal 3rd.  But the trail runner, Ryan Braun, moved up to second when Segura tried to retreat.  Sharing second base with Braun, the umps called the trail runner out, and Segura and ran back to first. So Segura, who was already on second, basically stole first.  And on the next pitch, he was thrown out trying to steal second to end the inning.  Now that was some turkey baserunning!

AND THE NUMBER ONE TURKEY OF THE 2013 MLB SEASON

1: Policing the Unwritten Rules (Brian McCann)

Braves catcher Brian McCann made himself the official policeman for baseball’s unwritten rules.  He ended up looking like the biggest turkey of 2013.  He did not let Carlos Gomez and Jose Fernandez step on home plate because they turned and watched the ball go for a few seconds (it was Jose Fernandez’s first major league dinger!). Every time it happened, a brawl was started.  Thankfully, McCann was traded away to the Yankees.  Something tells me that he’ll fit in very well with a lot of Yankee fans  Enjoy harassing players of the AL now, you turkey!

Thanks for reading. I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving! 

Leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter if there are other turkey plays from the 2013 season that I missed.

 

A Winning Night at the Big Train Holday Auction

On Sunday, November 17, I attended the Big Train Holiday Auction in Bethesda, Maryland. The Big Train is a collegiate summer baseball 2013-11-17 big train auctionteam that is part of the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League.  The team is named after Washington Senators pitcher Walter “The Big Train” Johnson, who lived Bethesda after he played for the Senators.  They play at Shirley Povich Field in Cabin John Regional Park in Bethesda, which is named after the famous Washington Post sportswriter.

The auction was at the DoubleTree Hotel, and many baseball fans from all over the DC area were there.  There were also two very special guests: Nationals pitcher Drew Storen and Bethesda native Tim Kurkjian from ESPN.  Both Drew and Tim spent the whole night talking with guests and signing autographs.

This was Drew Storen’s first time attending a Big Train event, but he is already a fan.  He said, “it’s a great organization.  Anytime you can come out and help build some local fields and support youth baseball in the area.  It’s a great event, its my first time and already having a lot of fun.”

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Tim Kurkjian is a long-time supporter of the Big Train.   “I went to Walter Johnson High School.  I played all of my baseball games growing up at Cabin John Regional Park, where the Big Train is located.  Shirley Povich was a friend of mine, and as a sportswriter I used to read him growing up. All of this suggests that I should follow the Big Train because this is where I grew up and it’s very close to me.”

I was able to talk to Drew and Tim, and I will feature our full interviews in future Matt’s Bats Chats during the offseason.

There was a lot of food and music and games.  Tim Kurkjian answered baseball questions from the audience.  The highlight was the auction.  My family bid on a lot of items, but the only things we won included a set of media guides Nats 2005 and 2012 seasons, the Pirates 2008 season, and the Phillies 2009 season.  It’s a little weird but I love the media guides and read them and memorize all the facts.  We also won some restaurant gift certificates.  The bigger winners included Ryan Sullivan of NatsGM and Red Porch Report, who won an autographed Bryce Harper jersey.

IMG_3205My friend Lisa, who is @In2Nats on Twitter, got a whole bunch of items, including a jersey signed by Drew Storen.  Actually, she got a Youth XL (Hey, that fits me!) replica jersey, but Drew Storen promised to send her a game-used one.  Another lady I know, Mary, won an Wilson Ramos autographed bat.

Big Train’s general manager, Adam Dantus, was very happy with the event.  “The event is going great.  We have a great turnout,” he said.  “Drew Storen is awesome.  He’s interacting with the fans.  We’re raising a lot of money for building or rebuilding youth ball fields.”

For more information about the Bethesda Big Train, including the summer baseball league, their special events, summer camps and celebrity camps, go to www.bigtrain.org.

Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Honors Yogi Berra, Justin Verlander and Navy CPO Garth Sinclair

Act of Valor AwardOn Wednesday, November 6, I attended the first annual Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Ceremony at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.  I was invited as a guest of Rear Admiral Michael Jabaley.  This year’s recipients were Yogi Berra, Hall of Fame catcher for the New York Yankees; Justin Verlander, AL MVP, All-Star and Cy Young Award-winning pitcher for the Detroit Tigers; and Chief Petty Officer Garth Sinclair of the U.S. Navy.  It was so exciting to be there.

The Act of Valor Award honors Bob Feller,  a Hall of Fame pitcher for the Cleveland Indians from 1936 to 1956. Feller threw no-hitters in 3 different years, and 12 one-hitters throughout his career. “Rapid Robert” Feller was also called “The Heater from Van Meter” after his hometown of Van Meter, Iowa because he threw some of the fastest fastballs in baseball history.  In a game against the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium, military equipment tracked his pitch at 107.6 miles per hour.  He pitched 3,287 innings, threw 44 shutouts, and rang up 2,581 strike outs in his career.

But Feller wasn’t only a baseball player.  He was also a Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy.  He interrupted his baseball career to serve as a gun captain on the U.S.S. Alabama during World War II. Feller was the first American professional athlete to enlist in the military after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  He enrolled just 2 days after the attack.  His service inspired other pro baseball players like Stan Musial, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and Hank Greenberg to serve their country.

The Act of Valor Award is given out to three people who share the characteristics of Bob Feller: an active MLB player, a member of the Navy, and a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Award winners are selected because they are dedicated to serving our country and share the values and integrity of Bob Feller.  The award was created by Peter Fertig, author of the children’s book “The Deal Is On Strike Three” about what happened after the Mighty Casey struck out.  Feller wrote the introduction to the book, and Fertig wanted to do a favor back to honor his career and service.

Secretary Mabus presented me a challenge coin after our interview.

Secretary Mabus presented me a challenge coin after our interview.

Fertig was present for the award ceremony along with other VIP guests such as Mrs. Anne Feller, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, retired four star admiral Hank Chiles, and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Michael Stevens, who is the most senior enlisted member of the Navy.

The funny thing is, although the award is honoring Tigers and Yankees players, all of the presenters seemed to be fans of other teams!  There were lots of Indians fans in the house, like Mr. Feller’s wife, two sons and grandson, Sen. Brown, and Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for the Indians, Bob DiBiasioAdmiral Jabaley is a Nationals fan, which is obvious by his Twitter name @NavyNatsFan.  And Secretary Mabus is a Red Sox fan, even though he is from Mississippi (his favorite player is Big Papi David Ortiz!).  There were also Phillies and Padres fans in the house.

Award Winners

Yogi Berra is one of the greatest catchers in the history of baseball.  He is a 15-time All Star, winner of 10 World Series championships, and a three-time league MVP.  He is also a veteran of the U.S. Navy.  Berra saw combat during the D-Day invasion of Normandy in WWII.  He attended boot camp in Maryland.  He received his award on October 19 at the Yogi Berra Museum in Little Falls, NJ at the campus of Montclair University because was unable to travel to Washington to receive his award.  David Kaplan, executive director of the Yogi Berra Museum, received the award on his behalf.

Justin Verlander is in his seventh season as a Major Leaguer and has already won the AL Rookie of the Year, MVP, Cy Young award, and is a four-time All-Star.  He has pitched two no-hitters and has made two World Series appearances with the Detroit Tigers.  Verlander received the award because he started Verlander’s Victory for Veterans, which hosts wounded warriors and their families to a luxury suite at Comerica Park in Detroit. He has also donated $1 million of his own money to the Wins for Warriors initiative, which is devoted to supporting the mental health of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan in Detroit and his hometown of Richmond, Virginia.

Verlander4He was humbled and surprised when he was notified that he was receiving the award.  “I don’t do what I do for the veterans to get recognition, but when they contacted me and notified me that I was the recipient of the inaugural Bob Feller Act of Valor Award it was a pretty humbling experience and I’m glad to be able to be a part of it,” Verlander told me.  Justin Verlander is passionate about veterans because they made it possible for him to play America’s sport.  When accepting his award, he said he met Bob Feller a few years ago and thought it is “such an honor to have my name linked with his.”

Chief Petty Officer Garth Sinclair has been in the US Navy since 1986.  He is married with three kids.  He is currently serving his country as a diving instructor in San Diego, where he is a big San Diego Padres fan. Chief Sinclair has spent 21 years coaching kids’ sports teams and has devoted thousands of hours to community service.  He is currently getting a degree at George Washington University, where he has a perfect 4.0 GPA.  Chief Sinclair told me that he felt “very honored and humbled to be considered among the greats that received the award and also with Bob Feller who the award is based on.”  When he was nominated last spring for the award, he said, he had no idea how big a deal it would be.  He also thanked his shipmates for their support.

Winners

Justin Verlander, Mrs. Anne Feller, and Chief Petty Officer Garth Sinclair

Other award nominees included Nick Swisher of the Cleveland Indians, Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, Justin Morneau, formerly of the Minnesota Twins but now playing for the Pirates,  and Nationals pitcher Ross Detwiler.

Admiral Jabaley led the award ceremony.  I learned from Secretary Mabus that Admiral Jabaley is one of the heroes of the Navy Yard shooting in DC this year.  I asked Admiral Jabaley what life lessons the game of baseball can teach:

Baseball teaches the life lessons of perseverance and hard work; they can improve your ability, and it will make a difference in your life if you see that by working really hard at something, you can succeed. The other thing that baseball teaches you is that it’s OK to fail at times. Even the best hitters only get a hit 3 out of every 10 times they go to bat. And so they fail 7 out of every 10 times. But sometimes they fail in a very good way, whether it’s a sacrifice fly, a sacrifice bunt, advancing a runner from second to third with a groundout to the right side of the field – those at-bats are still recorded as an out, but they help your team. So baseball teaches you that hard work can make you succeed, but also, that no one ever succeeds 100% of the time.

You could tell there were a lot of people at the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award ceremony on Wednesday night who were thinking about the values of hard work and sacrifice.   As Mr. Feller’s wife said, “Bob would be so proud to be here today.”

It was so fun being at the Act of Valor Award ceremony to get to meet meet national leaders and heroes, a famous fireballer, and even some of the people who I talk to on Twitter but have never met.  Thank you to Bob Feller and all members of the military for  their service to America.  Thanks to Justin Verlander for his charities that recognize and help veterans.  I appreciate that I was able to interview him and get an autograph.  I’m also lucky that Secretary Mabus gave me a challenge coin.  I am glad I got to meet Chief Sinclair and was happy that all of his family could surprise him by being at the awards event.  I was so happy to be invited to this great event, and I hope to get a chance to attend next year.

As today is Veterans Day 2013, I dedicate this post to the service men and women who risked their lives and made personal sacrifices.  Thank you for your generosity to the country.  Learn more about the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award at http://www.actofvaloraward.org/

Photos from the Breathe Deep DC Walk

As many of you know, my grandpa died of lung cancer in 2008.  A few weeks ago, I wrote a post  asking my readers to volunteer to walk in the Breathe Deep DC event by LUNGevity, or to donate money or spread awareness about lung cancer. I was blown away about how much money I raised from friends, family and people who read my blog– over $11,000!

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The event took place on Sunday, November 3, 2013.  The people from Breathe Deep people thanked me in a big way.

The night before the event, I wrote these paragraphs that I’d like to share it with you guys:

A few years ago, when I was only 4, my grandfather was going through a case of lung cancer. I was 4, you know, making a mess at dinner by throwing spaghetti or watching annoying cartoons over and over again. I never realized my grandfather, who was only 58 years old, was very, very ill. I didn’t understand what happened when he died. It was the first big loss of my life.

He was a doctor who always cared about others and treated them to get better when they were sick. My younger brother was with him for about a year, but my sister never met G-Pa. Today, I am a 4th grade student and a sportswriter, but my G-Pa will never know that. My brother is a big kid now and the best shortstop on the diamond, but he’ll never know that either. My sister is the most beautiful girl and named after him, but he’ll never know that, too. But I know, from the heavens above me, he’s smiling on us, and knowing that I’ll always remember him.

His patients, his colleagues, his friends and his family will always remember him. And he knows I will too. That’s why I raised over $11,000.00 this year from friends, family, and people who read my blog and Twitter to help LUNGevity take a huge lunge over lung cancer.

It was a beautiful day to walk around the National Mall.  Here are some photos!

The highlight of the day is when Doug Kammerer from NBC4 called me on stage in front of 1,500 people and presented me with a bat signed by Jayson Werth that was donated by the Nationals.

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Photo by Michele Swiertz (@AshburnNatsFan)

Photo by Michele Swiertz (@AshburnNatsFan)

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Thanks to the people who came out and joined “Team Matt’s Bats”– Caroline, Susan, Gail, Lauren, Adam, Amy, Lisa, Michele, Tracy, Tolu, Dylan, Andy, and Holden.

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Finally, does this one look familiar to anyone?

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Thank you to everyone who supported me in my fundraising.  I appreciate the wonderful people who gave money or came out to walk.

Amazing Photos from the Red Sox World Series Parade

The Red Sox celebrated their 2013 World Series victory on Saturday with parade through Boston.  Two MattsBats.com readers shared some of their amazing photos.  Thank you to Ben Thomas (@bdthomas) and Hillary Berman (@hillaryberman) for taking these pics.  Check them out and feel like you’re watching the parade!

Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Photo by Hillary Berman (@hillaryberman)

Photo by Hillary Berman (@hillaryberman)

Red Sox Truck. Photo by Hillary Berman (@hillaryberman)

Red Sox Truck. Photo by Hillary Berman (@hillaryberman)

Bearded Duck Boat. Photo by Hillary Berman (@hillaryberman)

Bearded Duck Boat. Photo by Hillary Berman (@hillaryberman)

Wally. Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Wally. Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Red Sox Owner John Henry and the World Series Trophy Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Red Sox Owner John Henry and the World Series Trophy
Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Dustin Pedroia Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Dustin Pedroia
Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Jarrod Saltalamacchia Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Clay Buchholz Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Clay Buchholz
Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Xander Bogaerts  Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Xander Bogaerts
Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Mike Carp Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Mike Carp
Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Will Middlebrooks and David Ross Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Will Middlebrooks and David Ross
Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

David Ross Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

David Ross
Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Big Papi David Ortiz Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Big Papi David Ortiz
Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Koji Uehara Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Koji Uehara
Photo by Ben Thomas @bdthomas

Someone Who Is Ready for the 2014 World Series Champion Parade! Photo by Hillary Berman (@hillaryberman)

Someone Who Is Ready for the 2014 World Series Champion Parade! Photo by Hillary Berman (@hillaryberman)

I think I labeled all these bearded Red Sox players correctly, but it’s really hard to figure out who they all are.  If I got one wrong, leave a comment.