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Baseball Geek Group: Jimm Hendren
The ultimate baseball blog. From the ultimate baseball fan. – A Jimm Hendren Group blog!
The ultimate baseball blog. From the ultimate baseball fan. – A Jimm Hendren Group blog!

Baseball Geek Group: Jimm Hendren's posts

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Baseball Geek Group: Jimm Hendren - My Review of "The Major League Baseball Hateability Index"

Today, the Wall Street Journal published "The Major League Baseball Hateability Index", which is a purportedly scientific study about who the most hateable team in the 2014 Major League Baseball playoffs is. Apparently last year the title was won by the Los Angeles Dodgers and this year’s was won by the St. Louis Cardinals. Hey, the Cardinals! I know them!

Anyway, Deadspin later picked up a story about it, which added to the bona fides of the story, since Deadspin is not a website that would simply post something ( ) primarily for the sake of agitating Cardinals fans as a means to inflate page views with a little help from self-loathing.

Now, to be perfectly honest, I don’t really care how hated the Cardinals are. It’s not like I’m facing any kind of discrimination because of it. But I would like to know whether the Wall Street Journal is doing its due diligence. Obviously, there isn’t a whole lot else WSJ could be covering right now—businesses and the stock market are both closed until the end of the playoffs, after all—but they still have an obligation to cover it well. And thus I’m going to run down the chart, which is posted below.

Pennants won in the past 10 years: This is where the Cardinals take the cake. If you remove this ONE category, the Dodgers win rather easily, 10.8 to 8.7 (since these measures matter so much and merely hearing the numbers provide self-evident context and all). Frankly, it’s a fair measure. If anything, it should weigh more heavily, but it’s not like people would be hating on the dynastic Colorado Rockies if they made the playoffs more than the Los Angeles Dodgers. Anyway, not a lot to be offended about here as a Cardinals fan. It’s basically a reminder that the team has been, like, unfairly good for the last decade. I don’t disagree. I’m not going to make any excuses for it. I grew up 20 minutes away from Busch Stadium—what was I supposed to do, root for the Montreal Expos because it’d be the edgy thing to do? Haters gonna hate.

Payroll (in multiples of $100 million): This is about right. I do think there are some diminishing returns—perception of the Pirates or Royals as plucky upstarts is further below the Cardinals than the Cardinals are below the Nationals, for instance. But okay.

Players with $100M-plus contracts: Andrew McCutchen does not count as one because he signed an extension which was highly influenced by his arbitration clock. Mike Trout only counts as one because he signed an extension—would the Angels be more likable had they let him play for the league minimum? Adam Wainwright’s contract is worth $97.5 million so therefore it doesn’t count but had he been given Ty Wigginton’s contract value as a goodwill bonus, he would count. I’m not saying they don’t have the right idea but there are too many variables which sway this measure.

Players suspended for PEDs: The World Series MVP last year was David Ortiz. If anything, this should help teams.

Opposing batters plunked (in multiples of 50): Aside from the Pirates, all nine teams are 0.4, 0.5, or 0.6. I…I don’t have a comment here.

Excessive beards: I mean, we don’t even know that Jason Motte’s going to make the postseason roster, so let’s hold our horses here. Also, as somebody who has a soft spot for 2010 Brian Wilson’s beard, I resent this whole category. Though his 2014 beard is objectively terrible. I’ll give everybody that.

Do fans invade other teams’ ballparks? YUP.

Are fans routinely labeled ‘best in baseball’? Them’s the breaks when the Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs don’t make the playoffs, I suppose. Though I do think the Giants should get half a point or so here. People seem to think highly of their fans. The thing is, I’m not offended by this category and I’m not sure why anybody is. It’s obnoxious and haughty when fans declare themselves the best fans in baseball, absolutely, but the Wall Street Journal said it. There’s nothing inherently bad about such a label. Having seen Big Fan, I’m not super into the idea of treating intense sporting passion as a badge of honor but I’m not going to spend that much time or energy trying to refute it, either.

Does team refer to fan base as a ‘Nation’? This is a fair criticism. This is stupid and I hate it.

Sports Illustrated covers in 2014: According to the Wall Street Journal, a printed periodical apparently has a big impact on swaying public opinion in 2014. So there’s that.

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Baseball Geek Group: Jimm Hendren - Parents throw more complaints against Vernon Hills baseball

Another group of parents have approached the Vernon Hills Park District with complaints about the Cougars Youth Athletic Association.

Tim Nockels and a few others attended the Sept. 18 Park Board of Commissioners meeting with a petition asking for an in-house baseball league to be resurrected. The group says the Cougars program has decayed due to mismanagement.

The nonprofit became a legal affiliate of park programing in 2011, which essentially means the group coordinates certain sports and gets use of fields for reduced prices instead of having a Cougars league and park district league competing against each other.

Park officials, however, have no authority over the Cougars other than revoking use of fields.

A group of parents approached the Park Board of Commissioners in January asking to start a new baseball team for 12- and 13-year-old boys that would be separate from the Cougars. The parents said continued mismanagement led to most of the children withdrawing and going to the Buffalo Grove or Mundelein park districts.

At the time, park commissioners advised the parents to keep working with the Cougars because administrators cannot provide an equal rental rate and a new team would get all the leftover time slots.

Nockels, who was not part of that group, said on Sept. 18 that the traveling baseball teams seem to get most of the attention and resources compared to the in-house league that plays in Vernon Hills only and with local children.

“We don’t want to travel throughout Lake County,” Nockels said. “We want recreational leagues here at home where our kids can play with their friends. It also allows us parents to volunteer much more easily.”

Nockels also said that in recent years, instead of coaching his son’s team, he umpired due to scheduling issues with league officials. He said his happened close to 50 percent of the time and the constant problems led to more and more parents signing their kids up in other leagues.

Fellow parent Jeff Canalia shared his own experience.

“I won a contest through Major League Baseball and was allowed to donate $3,000 to a youth club,” Canalia said. “I chose the Cougars, but my kids don’t play travel ball so I asked for the money to go toward in-house baseball. They bought catchers gear for all in-house and travel teams. They could have bought more bats or something with the money the used for travel team catchers. I wanted my kids to benefit from my prize.”

Canalia said he thinks the Cougars organization neglects the in-house leagues but keeps them barely alive so the fees can supplement improvements to the travel program.

“Cutting through all the crap, you want the park district to take some of these leagues back, right?” asked Dave Doerhoefer, vice president of the Park Board. “Have you tried asking the Cougars to change?”

Canilia said he’s never heard back from Cougars leadership, and Nockels said the administrators he’s spoken with have been “nonresponsive.”

Bill Polisson, new president of the Cougars in-house baseball league, was in attendance for the meeting.

“I’ve only been president for one year so far and we had no problems with umpires or field scheduling last year,” Polisson said. “I can’t address what may have happened in the past, but I will say things are coordinated very well right now.”

Polisson did admit that registration for in-house teams is dropping, but he said the same is happening with other sports.

“We can’t make people sign up,” Polisson said. “Our problem with numbers is not unusual. Enrollment is dwindling everywhere.”

Park commissioners agreed to not get involved, but encouraged Polisson to keep improving some of the organizational problems.

“A lot of feedback has come our way saying there’s a major lack of communication,” Doerhoefer said. “It seems like you’ve already gotten started on that. Another thing that would clear things up would be a little more transparency when it comes to the money.”

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Baseball - The small and big kid’s dream game by the Baseball Geek Group: Jimm Hendren

We played baseball as kids when it was the most popular game in the world, way ahead of soccer, and basketball was still a poor third-placer. We played it in the school yard using a tennis ball and became the highlight of every school boy’s day.

We knew and followed the basic rules of the game although we did not use mittens or masks. We played barefoot because we went to school barefoot. We were children and we had the time of our life.

The rules of baseball are not really that complicated. Almost anyone who can run, swing a bat or throw a ball can join the fun. Later on, we kids found out that there was such a thing as softball, which was for girls but using a bigger ball that was thrown from the hip level instead of overhead.

Watching real baseball and softball games during athletic meets gave us a better understanding and appreciation of the game. How we would have wanted to have all the uniform, gears and field to play with; but all we could afford was an old, balding tennis ball and a homemade 2in x 3in lumber for a bat and bases made of stones or wood scraps.

Baseball, as officially required, has the following rules:

1. Basic features of the baseball game and field dimensions

Baseball is played on a diamond-shaped field with the base corner designated as the home base. A player with a bat, or a batter, tries to hit the ball as far away from any of the opposing fielding team in order to reach all three bases and finally make it back to the home base. If a player makes it to a base or two after he bats, he must wait for his own team-mates to hit the ball and give him the opening to move on around the bases.

Strategy and team play are important in maximizing the team’s chance to score. Sometimes, a team may sacrifice a batter just for a player to steal a base or score a run. One point can spell the difference between winning and losing; and such brilliant plays come in handy.

2. Team composition

Each team has 9 players to fill up the following positions in the field when the opposing team is on the bat: pitcher, catcher, first base, second base, third base, short stop, right fielder, left fielder and centerfielder. Substitute players may also be included.

3. Batting regulations

The team on the bat is given three attempts to hit the ball thrown by a pitcher within the boundaries of the baseball field, marked by the two lines made by the home- base/first-base and the home-base/third-base. A missed ball is called a strike and three strikes puts batter out of the field. A team that gets three outs gets to field next while the other team bats.

4. Playing the ball

A flying ball that falls outside of the field boundaries is called a foul ball and gives a batter another chance to hit. Fouls are unlimited. A ball that is hit and falls inside the two lines is either caught in the air to put the batter out or, if it rolls on the ground, must be retrieved and often thrown to the first-base player who will tag the batter with the ball to put him out. Failing to tag the batter who steps on or touches the base puts the batter "safe" on first base or wherever the batter may be as other hitters move on around the diamond.

A player who makes it safely back to home base scores a point. If it is a homerun, meaning the ball is hit out of the filed or steals straight home if the defending team fumbles the ball, two points are gained while a single point is given to a player who eventually goes round all the bases through one or more batters.

5. Other game features

When a batting team is struck out, it take the field and lets the other team bat and attempt to score. A foul ball which is caught will also count as an out. Multiple outs can be made, such as when bases are loaded (all three bases have batters) and the batter on the plate hits a good ball and makes it to first base and the ball is retrieved and thrown back before the player running to second base reaches it, then to home base before the player on third base scores a run and, finally, to third base to tag the player running to it. Three outs in one play!

It is during such fast plays when the ball changes hands so rapidly and players are scampering for bases that the excitement runs high. It is cause for celebration for the scoring team and a big letdown for the other who must probably feel like they were hit on the head with a bat several times for losing the big opportunity to score big and ending up with nothing.

6. Who wins

The team that makes the most runs after nine innings or rounds wins the game. Sometimes though, the game will stop at the "top of the 9th inning" or before the other team is supposed to go to final bat if that team is already ahead in points as the lagging team will not be able to catch up anyway.

Some of the most memorable games end at the "bottom of the ninth" when a team tries to catch up. We might have heard of the familiar radio voice saying, "It’s the bottom of the ninth and bases are full and the New York Yankees are behind by four and Babe Ruth has the bat. The count is two strikes and three balls . . . the pitcher winds up and throws the ball. Ruth swings hard and the ball flies . . . out of the stadium for a homerun and a win!" Or something to that effect.

That imagined scene a dream every child and adult lover of baseball hopes to accomplish once in a lifetime. You want to see and hear the whole stadium explode with people jumping and shouting as you take your sweet time running through the bases, smiling, waving your cap and finally kissing the home base.

When a great player makes a good play, everybody wins in baseball. You have to be the eternal child to enjoy it. And there are so many people out there who still enjoy it to this day.

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We can do a lot for the Olympics and they can do a lot for our sports, claims leading softball official

Low Beng Choo, secretary general of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), has claimed Olympic inclusion would be beneficial for baseball and softball but also for the Olympic Movement as a whole. 

Since baseball [ see ] and softball were removed from the Olympic programme following Beijing 2008, the two sports have combined in the umbrella World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) and have undergone a number of reforms.

Despite finishing a distant second behind wrestling in the initial vote for inclusion in the 2020 Games at last year's International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Buenos Aires, IOC President Thomas Bach has since provided new hope.

On a visit to Tokyo last November, he claimed reintroducing the two sports in baseball-mad Japan was "under discussion".

Although she hugely welcomed this opportunity Low Beng Choo, who comes from a softball background and is also secretary-general of the International Softball Federation (ISF), insisted the sports will continue to battle for inclusion whatever the outcome of their 2020 bid.

"We knew wrestling was strong and deserved a place on the Olympics - with all of their history and traditions - but we also believe that we deserve a place on the programme", she told insidethegames.

"We can do a lot for the Olympics and they can do a lot for our sports.
"I have no doubts that, given an opportunity to be at 2020, we would do well. 

"As you know baseball and softball are big sports in Japan, and we are very grateful that the Japanese people would like to see both our sports in Tokyo.

"We are continuing our effort regardless, and the earliest we can get on the programme would be best, but we will continue working to get our opportunity."

Low Beng Choo insisted the biggest challenge ahead for the sports lies in "convincing IOC members that we have made a lot of changes".
Particular areas where progress has been made include working together with the various professional baseball leagues around the world, maintaining international growth, and focusing on anti-doping which - after a number of recent suspensions -  is an issue all of the professional leagues are taking "very seriously", she claimed. 

Speaking earlier this month in Manila during the Asian Sporting Centenary celebrations, Low Beng Choo particularly highlighted progress in terms of development particularly among youth populations - with her own continent highlighted as a particular example. 

Despite the popularity of rival sports, Pakistan unveiled their first junior men's team for softball last month, for example, while the women's game is also growing in both Iraq and Iran.

This was described as "huge given the circumstances of these countries" and plans are also now underway to organize a regional tournament for west and central Asia to be held some time later this year. 

Low Beng Choo added that, since the replacement of American Don Porter with Canada's Dale McMann as ISF President at last year's Congress in Cartagena in Colombia, there has been a "smooth transition" and that the relationship with baseball remains as strong as ever. 

She described how the sports [ see ] are currently trying to put everything together for a joint Congress due to be held in the first half of this year and, although there is still some checking to do as far as the Articles are concerned, everything is "coming along fine". 

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Baseball, softball might still have pulse for Olympic status

The Olympic future of America's national pastime could be decided very soon in Sochi, Russia.

Officials with the World Baseball Softball Confederation are increasingly optimistic that the International Olympic Committee will consider reinstating both sports during its session at the upcoming Sochi Games.

Baseball [see] and softball were last contested as Olympic sports in 2008, and the IOC voted in September against bringing them back for the 2020 Games in Tokyo. (Wrestling was kept instead.) But the IOC may reconsider that decision because of the revenue possibilities -- at the gate and through television ratings -- in the baseball-mad host country.

Tokyo's local organizing committee is said to be lobbying quietly for new IOC President Thomas Bach to give baseball and softball another hearing. If attendance at the World Baseball Classic is any guide, the Japanese team likely would play before massive crowds in Tokyo; interest would be especially high if Nippon Professional Baseball, the top professional league in Japan, agreed to go on hiatus so the country's best players could compete.

"Over the years, we have listened to and learned from the IOC," Riccardo Fraccari, president of the International Baseball Federation, said Thursday in an email to FOX Sports, "and we feel ready to accept the duties, commitment and responsibilities, so that, once again, baseball and softball can be entrusted with being part of the Olympic family of sports."

Fraccari said the inclusion of both sports in the 2020 Games "would significantly accelerate baseball and softball'€™s current rates of expansion and provide a major boost to our National Federation members."

Though Fraccari didn'€™t say so explicitly, baseball programs outside the United States have suffered financially in the absence of funding related to the Olympics.

Major League Baseball [see] commissioner Bud Selig has supported the sport's campaign to re-enter the Olympics, but he has said consistently it is not feasible for the league to shut down entirely for two weeks so all major leaguers would be eligible to compete.

At Beijing in 2008, the U.S. Olympic roster consisted largely of professionals who weren'€™t on 40-man rosters -- a mixture of rising prospects and minor-league veterans, along with then-college star Stephen Strasburg. (The Americans won bronze, behind South Korea and Cuba.) It is very possible MLB officials would permit a similar group of professionals to compete in 2020, but much could change between now and then. Selig is one year away from retirement, and international participation by major leaguers is governed by the collective bargaining agreement, which expires after the 2016 season.

For now, the World Baseball Classic is the only best-versus-best tournament involving professionals on the sport's international calendar. MLB and the MLB Players Association are fully invested in the WBC because, among other things, they control the rules and profits associated with it. (Selig has said he wants his successor to continue the WBC; the next edition is scheduled for 2017.)

Other than the WBC, sources say MLB officials are more inclined to furnish professional players to the Olympics than lower-profile competitions such as the Pan-American Games and IBAF Premier 12.

The IBAF plans to launch the Premier 12 in November 2015 -- likely in Asia -- as a successor to the discontinued IBAF World Cup, but the organization has yet to establish specifics or make a formal request to use players under contract with MLB clubs.

Toronto hosts the Pan-Am Games next year, but the baseball and softball competitions will be held at a complex in suburban Ajax, Ontario, instead of the Blue Jays' home stadium, Rogers Centre. The men'€™s baseball competition will include seven teams.

BGG: NFL roundup: Browns owner’s company reportedly $4 billion in debt - Jimm Hendren

FL roundup: Browns owner’s company reportedly $4 billion in debt

Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s Pilot Flying J company is $4 billion in debt and has a “downgraded” credit rating, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Pilot Flying J was recently investigated by the FBI for possible fraud. Haslam has denied any knowledge of the company’s alleged questionable business dealings.

A dozen trucking companies sued Pilot Flying J and five former employees pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the FBI investigation.
The Haslam family also sold their shares in the Class AA Tennessee Smokies minor league baseball team.
At the time of the FBI investigation, Haslam said at a news conference that Browns fans need not worry.
But since then he has been offering settlements to trucking companies.

Of greater concern, however, is Haslam’s future as the Browns owner in the wake of the Wall Street Journal report, which stated that Pilot Flying J’s debt nearly doubled to $4 billion over the last two years while the owners gave themselves two payments totaling $1.7 billion from it, according to Moody’s Investors Service.


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Jimm Hendren Group - Maintaining Your Baseball Field: Warning Track

The warning track is exactly that – a warning so players
don’t run into obstacles and get hurt.

What you’re going to do
Your field needs a warning track.
It should extend around the entire field. The warning track provides player safety and reduces wear of turf in front of the dugouts and around the home plate area.

How you do this
Mark off the boundary of your warning track. For example, 10 feet for a high school field.

If you are building a new warning track, use a sod cutter or a smooth bucket tractor to cut the grass out of the warning track area. If you are adding warning track material, then cut this at least 3 inches deeper than the base of the sod. Remove the sod and weeds from the field.


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Baseball FYI: Warning track - Jimm Hendren Group
The warning track is the part of the baseball field that is closest to the wall or fence and is typically made of dirt, instead of grass or artificial turf like most of the field. It runs parallel to the ballpark’s wall and looks like a running track. The change of terrain from grass to dirt serves as a “warning” for fielders trying to make a deep catch that they are running out of room, since it is often difficult for the fielder to keep his eye on a fly ball while keeping track of his position relative to the wall.
Despite the warning track’s presence, it is common to see outfielders crash into the wall to make a catch, due either to a desire to field the play regardless of the outcome or because they fail to register the warning.


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Baseball Geek Group: Korean War shortened their baseball careers, but no regrets - Jimm Hendren

The Korean War might have stolen their youth, robbed them of their innocence and certainly shortened their baseball careers.

Now, 60 years later, the only two surviving Major League Baseball players who served in Korea say they have no regrets. Jerry Coleman and Bobby Brown, former infielders for the New York Yankees, say they would do it all over again.

“Looking back, I realize that was what turned me into the person I am today,” says Coleman, 88, the only major-league player to be in combat in World War II and the Korean War. “The most important thing in my life was not what I did in baseball but what I did in my service as a Marine in two wars.”

Says Brown: “What I did doesn’t make me special. It’s just something I had to do.”

There was an entirely different sentiment toward the Korean War than toward World War II, Coleman remembers. It was a time when much of America wasn’t even sure where Korea was, and confusion about what America was trying to accomplish.

“It was widely indifferent,” Coleman says. “World War II captivated the attention of this country like no other war. But the Korean War was something you hoped to survive and come back home.”

Coleman, a lieutenant colonel in the Marines, flew 120 missions in both wars, earning two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 13 Air Medals and three Navy Citations. He doesn’t particularly enjoy speaking of the experience. He saw too many friends die. He even heard the mayday call of Hall of Famer Ted Williams’ plane crash. Williams survived.


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