The Reuters global sports blog
By Mike Theiler
I’m a baseball nut. I live and breathe baseball. I dislike football. I dislike basketball. I dislike soccer. A real baseball fan only loves baseball in my opinion.
I believe baseball is a metaphor for life.
It is life and death. It is also re-birth with spring training. It is marriage and divorce as players are joined together and then are either traded, discarded or fail.
Major League Baseball is, of course, the very pinnacle of the game. The best hitters, the best pitchers, the unrivaled history; The Babe, DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, Ted Williams’ .406 season, Nolan Ryan’s seven no-hitters.
But while MLB has all that and so much more, my real, true enjoyment of the game starts with the minor leagues. “The bushes”, and the struggle of the players to advance up to “The Bigs”. The crackerbox ballyards. The intimacy with players not yet full of themselves. Free parking. Cheap beer. The whacky between-innings carnival of gags.
After a World Series and San Francisco Giants triumph that fittingly capped a Major League Baseball campaign known as the Season of the Pitcher, the sport has barely skipped a beat before quickly beginning its next chapter — open season on free agents.
License to begin the hunt in a season of big spending has been granted 10 days earlier than in the past due to rules changes intended to make the wheeling-dealing easier.
Pitchers have dominated the spotlight over the first third of Major League Baseball’s 2010 season, casting a spell over the hitters with Washington Nationals 21-year-old rookie Stephen Strasburg the latest to work his magic.
The most ballyhooed pitching prospect to hit the majors in recent memory, Strasburg satisfied the great expectations with a spectacular debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates last week.
Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay is a perfectionist, meticulous in his preparation and attention to detail and one of baseball’s best pitchers over the last decade.
Halladay, the right-hander nicknamed ‘Doc’, removed a bad taste in his mouth from his previous outing with perfect precision — by throwing the 20th perfect game ever in Major League Baseball in a 1-0 win Saturday against NL East rivals the Florida Marlins.
When Barry Bonds was playing baseball he seemed to crave attention. He wanted and needed the spotlight to be fixated on him. But like a spoiled child, he did not care if the attention was positive or negative as long as people were talking about him. For Bonds, the negative far outweighed the positive.
Jeff Pearlman, who wrote Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Antihero, sums Bonds up perfectly as “the undisputed president and CEO of the AMSAPS (Arrogant, Mean-Spirited Athletes in Professional Sports) Movement. Inside clubhouses, he scowled at teammates, reporters and club employees as if they were grime beneath his freshly manicured fingernails. On the field, he ignored 99 percent of fans who called his name, desperate for an autograph, a wave or even a simple nod. He treated his personal staffers like cockroaches and his wives like broken appliances.”
Reports that Major League Baseball will introduce testing for synthetic Human Growth Hormone (HGH) in its minor leagues next season year prompt disturbing memories of the explosion in power hitting in the 1990s headed by Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds.
This year McGwire admitted he had taken steroids when he broke Roger Maris’s long-standing home run record in 1998.
from Shop Talk:
Check out where Scotts is staking out new turf.
ScottsMiracle-Gro, the No. 1 U.S. lawn-care company, is taking a swing at winning over baseball fans with its latest sponsorship deal, which allows customers to buy the same grass seed and fertilizer used to grow the lush, green fields at the ballparks of such teams as the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox.
Scotts has signed a multiyear, multimillion-dollar deal with Major League Baseball that includes licensed products, baseball-themed advertising and partnerships with eight of the teams. A source close to the deal who asked not to be identified said Scotts' annual commitments are in the high seven figures, with overall spending on baseball in the eight figures.
from Raw Japan:
Kikuchi, an 18-year-old left-hander from Hanamaki Higashi High School in northern Japan, would be the most coveted young Japanese player to join an MLB team, but he is equally desired by Japan's 12 professional teams.
A chain of injuries suffered by New York Yankees star Wang Chien-ming is pushing a pair of more obscure Taiwan-born U.S. Major League Baseball pitchers into the limelight as dejected fans grudgingly seek alternatives.
Fans in baseball-crazy Taiwan, though far from giving up on Wang, say they are looking harder at Ni Fu-te and Kuo Hong-chih. But unlike Wang, a starting pitcher responsible for winning games, the other two are relief pitchers and neither is quite a superhero.
from Raw Japan:
Japan’s Ichiro Suzuki underlined his position as his country’s greatest sporting export after shattering one of Major League Baseball’s oldest records.
The Seattle Mariners outfielder was described as a "Hercules" by fellow players after becoming the first man to record 200 hits for nine straight seasons.