September 2014

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.

HBPs Show How Dangerous Baseball Can Be

stantonowie On Thursday, MLB played only eleven games, as opposed to the usual 15.  Still, there was a unusually high number of batters hit by a pitch.  In fact, there were only 2 games were a player wasn’t hit: Game 1 of the double header between Minnesota and Cleveland, and Oakland at Chicago.

Here’s the list of the players who were hit, which includes some of the biggest stars of the game:

MIN @ CLE (Game 2)- Brian Dozier (by TJ House in the Top of the 6th)

STL @ CIN- Jon Jay (by Johnny Cueto in the Top of the 1st)

 

ARI @ SF- Cliff Pennington (by Javier Lopez in the Top of the 8th)

PIT @ PHI- Starling Marte (by AJ Burnett in the Top of the 2nd)

TB @ NYY- Derek Jeter (by Brad Boxberger in the Bottom of the 8th), Chase Headley (by Jake McGee in the Bottom of the 9th)

WSH @ NYM- Ian Desmond (by Bartolo Colon in the Top of the 2nd), Jayson Werth (by Bartolo Colon in the Top of the 4th), Daniel Murphy (by Matt Thornton in the Bottom of the 8th)

LAA @ TEX- Mike Trout (by Nick Martinez in the Top of the 3rd), Mike Trout (by Nick Martinez in the Top of the 5th), Tomas Telias (by Joe Smith in the Bottom of the 9th)

BOS @ KC- Yoenis Cespedes (by Liam Hendriks in the Top of the 3rd), Josh Willingham (by Clay Buchholz in the Bottom of the 6th)

MIA @ MIL- Giancarlo Stanton (by Mike Fiers in the Top of the 5th), Reed Johnson (by Mike Fiers in the Top of the 5th), Carlos Gomez (by Anthony DeSclafani in the Bottom of the 6th)

Even though Mike Fiers hit Stanton, and then hit the pinch hitter who replaced him, I don’t think it was intentional.  Fiers went on Twitter to apologize.

Fiersapology

However, it seems like Bartolo Colon’s pitches that hit the Nationals may have been intentional.  They each came after a Nationals player hit a home run.  In the second inning, Colon hit Ian Desmond after Adam LaRoche’s monster home run.  In the fourth, he hit Jayson Werth after Anthony Rendon hit a 2-run reviewed home run.  Colon was thrown out of the game, and so was manager Terry Collins.  As I said last year, intentionally hitting batters is completely unacceptable.  The severe injuries that Stanton suffered, which will end his season, show just how dangerous it can be to intentionally hit a batter with a fastball.  If Colon beaned Werth and Desmond on purpose, t was very bad sportsmanship, especially in the game that was part of the patriotic series to commemorate 9/11.

 

Derek Jeter’s New Job After He Retires

2014-09-08 Jeter ContractYesterday, Major League Baseball celebrated the career of Derek Jeter.  Everybody knows the New York Yankees’ star short stop as one of the best players to ever play the game. He is a 14-time All-Star, World Series MVP, winner of the the American League Rookie of the Year award in his first season, and, with over 3,400 hits and counting, he is number 6 on the all-time hits list.  Jeter is a guaranteed member of the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible.

The public learned two more things about Jeter earlier this year.  First, was that the 2014 season would be his last, because he one that he was going to retire at the end of the season.  And second, that he is moving on to his next occupation as an author.

On  September 23, a few weeks before his retirement from baseball becomes official, Jeter will release his first book for kids, called “The Contract.”  It is a middle-grade fiction book inspired by Jeter’s childhood.  Teaming up with Simon & Schuster, the Jeter Publishing line of books will include nonfiction books for adults, children’s picture books, and more fiction books for kids like The Contract. Later this year, Jeter Publishing will release a chronicle of his last season with the Yankees, told mostly through the photographs of Chris Anderson.  He is also working on an adult non-fiction book.  Jeter has already written two books for adults, The Life You Imagine: Life Lessons for Achieving Your Dreams and Game Day: My Life On and Off the Field.

The Contract is the first book in a planned series of books about Jeter as a boy.  The book starts when Jeter daydreams in third grade class about being the shortstop for the New York Yankees and winning the World Series.  It is the middle of winter in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and all young Derek Jeter can think about is baseball season.  He is also constantly thinking about his baseball idols, Dave Winfield and Willie Randolph, two of the best Yankees players of the 1980s.  He imagines that he is playing alongside them as a Yankee. Being only about 8 years old, Jeter has a long way to go before he can be a major leaguer, but for now he plays second base, bats second, and wears number 2 for his Little League Tigers team.
Jeter immediately faces a challenge when one of his teammates steals the shortstop position and his lucky jersey number.  Wouldn’t you know, the kid happens to be the new coach’s son. If he could have his wish, Jeter would wear number 13, but the coach told Jeter it was “reserved” and gave it to his son instead.  The coach tossed Jeter a random jersey with number 2 on the back.  Disappointed, Jeter learned a lesson from this.  Jeter quietly envied the other kid, and it didn’t help when he came up to Jeter and said, “Hey.  Number two! As in second best!” Jeter doesn’t stay upset for too long, but instead learns to deal with his disappointment, respect others, and work harder to reach his goals.  That determination paid off.  The coach’s son was a little bit of a show off, but Jeter was a team player.  In the championship game, the coach benched his son and gave Jeter the opportunity to play short stop.  Without realizing it, the coach changed baseball history, because Jeter played shortstop for the rest of his life and became a future major leaguer and one of the best to ever play that position.
There is another example in the book where Jeter excels at competition.  He was always good at math.  When his math teacher assigned a test, another kid challenged Jeter that he would get a better score.  On the first test, Jeter easily won with a 95.  But on the next test he only got an 86 and the kid got a better score than him. Jeter again settled for number 2, but the competition allowed both him and his friend to raise their games and try to score the best they could in school.  That’s another important lesson in the book– that competition can challenge everyone to work harder to be their best.
The Contract takes its name from a contract Jeter made this his parents to be a better team player on the field and off.  Jeter makes his a contract with his parents, which includes showing good traits like “Be a Role Model,” “Do Your Schoolwork and Maintain Good Grades,” “Do Your Chores,” “Respect Others,” “Respect Yourself” and “Work Hard.”  He takes these values with him growing up and throughout his life.  It shows.  Whether you are a Yankees fan or not, everyone respects Derek Jeter, who has become known throughout baseball as “The Captain.”  He is the winner of 5 Gold Glove awards, 5 Silver Slugger awards, and has 5 World Series rings in his collection.  He founded the Turn 2 Foundation, motivates kids to turn away from drugs and alcohol and to live healthy lifestyles– a theme he writes about in The Contract.
You can pre-order a copy of The Contract through Amazon.com or grab a copy at your local bookstore when it comes out on Tuesday, September 23.  You can also read an excerpt of the book on the Simon & Schuster webpage. I’d like to thank Simon & Schuster and Jeter Publishing for providing me an advance copy of the book.
I really enjoyed it.  I think The Contract is one of the best baseball fiction books for kids, and I am looking forward to the next book in the series.  The fact that it is based on the real-life events of Derek Jeter’s childhood makes the lessons on how to be a better baseball player and student more inspiring. I highly recommend it!
If you like my book review and want to know more about my thoughts on baseball, follow me on Twitter @MattsBats.

The Contract

Who Wants Two Tickets to Monday’s Nats-Braves Game?

I’m giving away two tickets to the Nats-Braves game on Monday, September 8! It’s an important match-up for the NL East title, as the Nationals try to build on their lead and bring down their magic number.

Do you want the tickets? Here is what you have to do to win:

Tweet me at @MattsBats with a picture of you with any one of the Nationals’ starting pitchers. I’ll try to retweet them all. The best picture I get will win two tickets to the game. I’ll send you a tweet back, and you’ll have to come back to MattsBats.com/contact and fill out the email form so I can email you the tickets.

For example, here I am with Gio!

Photo Apr 16, 6 24 32 PM

And here I am with Fister…

 

Doug Fister at NatsFest.  Doug throws right, bats left, and writes left.

Doug Fister at NatsFest. Doug throws right, bats left, and writes left.

Show me your pics! GO NATS!

 

bash the braves

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