Tag Archives: Atlanta Braves

Hank Aaron to be Marquette University’s graduation speaker

Via an alumni newsletter I learned today that Hank Aaron will be the commencement speaker at Marquette University on May 20. Aaron is a wonderful choice for the Milwaukee campus, which this time of year is preoccupied with basketball.

Aaron spent much of his Hall-of-Fame career in Milwaukee with the Braves and even returned there for the Brewers in his last two playing seasons.

Here’s a quote from Marquette’s president in a mid-February news release:

“Mr. Aaron is a superb role model for our graduates, someone we are proud to present as an illustration of the principles of leadership and excellence that Marquette exemplifies,” said Father Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., Marquette University president. “While his contributions to baseball are unparalleled, more importantly, his work on behalf of racial equality and civil rights continue to help youth achieve their dreams.”

I had the great pleasure of being in a relatively small audience of newspaper editors to whom Aaron spoke in Miller Park a few months ahead of its opening in 2001. Although I can’t recall the details of what Aaron said, he impressed me with his sincerity and intensity as he recalled his career and the challenges he faced on and off the field.

Good for you, Hank Aaron, and ring out a hoya and an MU rah-rah for old Marquete.

 

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Who were the best relievers in baseball in 2011? Jose Valverde and J.J. Putz

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance gives the Goose Gossage award each year to the best relievers in baseball, and here’s my ballot. I have nominations for the American and National leagues.

American League

1. Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers – The best in baseball in 2011 based on number of saves, and I think that’s an accurate reflection of his performance. He had no blown saves, and that cinches it for me.

2. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees – An astonishing season for anyone, let alone a player of his age. His numbers are better than Valverde’s in many categories, but he had 5 blown saves.

3. Chris Perez, Cleveland Indians – After Valverde and Rivera, there’s a gap, and Perez is the next in line with 36 saves.

National League

1. J.J. Putz, Arizona Diamondbacks – Putz was third in the NL with 45 saves, one behind John Axford and Craig Kimbrel. I like his low WHIP and low total of just 12 walks. He added an added aura of invincibility to the D-Backs and I also saw him more than the others, so he gets my top tally.

2. John Axford, Milwaukee Brewers – Great numbers, with only 2 blown saves. Did his blowing the save in last night’s NLDS clincher lower his value in my book? No. I’m sticking with the regular season for my picks.

3. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves – Monster numbers for a rookie, tying Axford with 46 saves and an astonishing 127 strikeouts with only 32 walks. Eight blown saves, though, but I won’t worry about them when I make him my first closer pick in next year’s fantasy draft.

Who was the best rookie in Major League Baseball in 2011? Freddie Freeman

In the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, this is my rookie year for voting in the group’s end-of-season awards. In the BBA, the Willie Mays Award goes to the top rookie, and here’s my ballot influenced heavily by the great MLB.com statistical rundown on rookies:

1. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta – Braves: Playing virtually every game at 1st base, Freeman posted great numbers with 161 hits, 21 homers, 76 RBI and a .282 average. Those are impressive numbers for a veteran and all the more so for a rookie.

2. Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels – A close second in my book, he hit even more homers (29) than Freeman.

3. Jemile Weeks, Oakland Ahtletics – A mid-season call-up, this dude put some energy into the A’s. He hit .303 with 22 stolen bases (although he was caught 11 times.

Honorable mention: Dustin Ackley, Seattle Mariners (edged out by a step at the bag by Weeks); Danny Espinoza, Washington Nationals; Darwin Barney, Chicago Cubs; Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals.

That’s one heck of a rookie crop, and there are others showing lots of promise I’m omitting.

Note: The only players of the above I saw play in person were Weeks and Hosmer.

What a night in baseball!

What a crazy night in baseball.

Using the MLB app on my iPhone, I just listened to the last inning as the Braves fell to the Phillies in 13 innings to give the Cardinals the NL wild card.

Then I switched over to the Yankees broadcast to hear the Rays win in the 12th moments after the Red Sox fell to the Orioles.

You’ve got to love this game.

 

Baseball, America and 9-11: A short tribute

This is a low key weekend around our house as America and the world reflect on the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.  We had our share of drama that day, as I’ve recounted elsewhere.

Here on the Ball Caps Blog, I hold a cap over my heart in tribute to those who lost their lives that day and in sympathy with their family and friends who mourn them.

I also offer a link to a video I spotted on mlb.com the other day on the resumption of the baseball season at Shea Stadium and Mike Piazza’s dramatic home run to give the Mets a victory over the Braves. It was a cathartic moment in New York, one of the first small steps toward healing as America reeled in the aftermath of the attacks.

After the first full week of play, some startling names atop the baseball standings

As I write this post, the Yankees and Red Sox (again!) are playing on the Sunday night telecast. If the Yankees win, they’ll manage a tie in first place of the American League East not with the Sox but with the Baltimore Orioles.

Whoa.

And check the AL Central standings. The Indians, who (be honest) most people on the planet expected to have a wretched year even by Cleveland standards, are on top.

No surprise in the AL West, where the Rangers have revived themselves and have raced to an 8-1 start.

Over in the National League, it’s not a big surprise that Philadelphia is leading the East. But Atlanta in the cellar? That’s a surprise. And so, frankly, is the Pirates’ .500 record in the NL Central.

Out west, the Rockies are out front and the defending champion Giants are in last place. Neither surprises me much, especially with San Francisco missing Cody Ross, who propelled their playoff offense last fall, and closer Brian Wilson off his game.

I’m glad some of the divisions are mixed up and confounding the experts. Wouldn’t it be great to see the Orioles take the AL East?

A San Francisco Giants fan bids farewell to his Phillies cap

Our youngest child recently headed off to college in Philadelphia and called a week or so ago with a request: can you send me a Phillies cap?

Years ago my son had played on a Phillies team during Little League, but his cap had long since disappeared. I had been a coach and kept my cap, wearing it often, especially in the fall the last two years as the Phillies advanced to the World Series. Although not a fanatic, I count the Phillies among my second-tier allegiances, rooting for them if they advance after my teams drop out of the playoff picture.

Going to high school in central California, my son and his classmates were prohibited from wearing baseball caps on campus. With Norteno and Sureno gangs active in town, caps as well as red and blue garments were forbidden.

That’s not the case in Philadelphia, thank goodness. My son’s call for the cap came right about the time the Phillies had swept the Reds while the Giants were still trying to knock off the Braves. So I sent the cap to the City of Brotherly Love in a care package bound for my son’s dormitory, from the upper floors of which you can see Citizens Bank Ballpark a few miles away.

My son is a loyal and practical Giants fan. He will not wear the Phillies cap until the Giants-Phillies series is resolved. But once that’s history, he’ll be free to wear the Phillies cap and fit in with all the other cheesesteak-consuming, Santa-booing fans in Philly.