I knew I was going to like this guy, I just knew it. He is absolutely dominating on the mound so far this year, taking a perfect game into the 7th inning today against the A’s. Between a walk in the 4th inning last week until he gave up a hit in the 7th today, Shohei Ohtani retired 27 straight batters. He struck out 12 A’s batters today, after mowing down six in his first start.
But, as you know, Ohtani has been a terror with the bat as well. In four games, he has sent three balls deep, driving in seven runs and hitting at a .389 clip. All of the concerns expressed during a slow spring have quickly evaporated as he has crushed the ball at the plate.
The “fun card” above is verrrrrry loosely based on the 1998 Fleer Ultra “Double Trouble” insert set.
Rookie of the Year…Most Valuable Player…Cy Young winner? I know we’re in the first week of the season, but that’s the perfect time to dream big!
Well, not quite everywhere. I love visiting other teams’ ballparks and watching games there. This past weekend, my wife and I took a quick trip to California and caught the Angels hosting the Royals in Anaheim. Unfortunately, the Dodgers were out of town (in Cincinnati, actually), and we only had a few days in the Golden State. I was disappointed Mike Trout was injured, but I saw him play in the All-Star Game a couple years ago in Cincinnati, so it’s all good. We also took a stroll down Santa Monica Pier and spent Saturday at Disneyland. It was a pretty cool weekend.
Here is a list of all the current MLB teams, when I visited their stadium, and which stadium. I’m hoping to add another team and stadium next summer.
|Baltimore||2010, 2011||Camden Yards|
|New York Yankees||1991||old Yankee Stadium|
|Tampa Bay||2016||Tropicana Field|
|New York Mets||1991||Shea Stadium|
|Chicago White Sox||1989, 1992||old Comiskey, new Comiskey|
|Cleveland||1988||Cleveland Municipal Stadium|
|Chicago Cubs||1989, 1992, 2001||Wrigley Field|
|Cincinnati||many||Riverfront, Cinergy, Great American Ballpark|
|Pittsburgh||1988, 2011||Three Rivers Stadium, PNC Park|
|St. Louis||2014||Busch Stadium|
Obviously, I need to make a few more trips out west.
A picture is worth one thousand words, so here are ten thousand nineteen (including these words, but not the title)…
Paying tribute to the “Superstar Specials” that appeared in Fleer sets from 1983 onward, TWJ contributor Patrick sent over this nice “Jersey Boys” card featuring Angels outfielder (and future Hall of Famer) Mike Trout and Reds third baseman Todd Frazier. Trout hails from Millville, NJ, while Frazier grew up over an hour away in Toms River. They were born about five and a half years apart, so I doubt they ever faced each other in competitions growing up, but the connection is still there. It was great seeing Frazier having so much fun in Minneapolis this year, and I hope he gets to experience that for many years to come.
While he was at it, Patrick had a little fun with one of the 2014 TWJ originals…
Trout is a paid spokeman for Subway, and appears in this hilarious commercial for the restaurant chain:
Patrick’s “improvement” to my card definitely brought a smile to my face. Thanks again for all your great work, Patrick!
Amazing Athletes: Mike Trout
by Jon M. Fishman
I fondly remember checking out small books from the library about my favorite athletes, from Michael Jordan to John Elway to Don Mattingly. Children today can do the same with the “Amazing Athletes” series of books published by Lerner. Baseball, football, basketball and other sports stars are the subjects of these books. I recently received a copy of the book dedicated to Mike Trout, and it is very similar to the books I enjoyed in my youth, with brief biographical information and several color photographs. The recommended age range is second to fifth grade, though most fifth graders would probably find the content a bit under their level. For younger sports fans, they are a nice introduction to terminology of the game and generally encourage the reader to work hard toward personal goals.
Because 500 still means something when it is done the right way. I hadn’t intended to commemorate special events this season, but Albert Pujols connecting for the 500th home run of his career on Tuesday night was a pretty big deal. I felt like I owed it to him and to history to make a special card for the event.
Jim Thome was the most recent to reach the milestone cleanly, but there was not a great deal of fanfare when he did it. When Alex Rodriguez hit his 500th, he was actually booed because of the unethical way he did it.
It used to mean more, but it still means something. It has to. Because if it doesn’t mean something, then neither does baseball. Will we ever get back to the way it was? No, but we still have the 500 home run club, and even if there are a few bad apples in the club (seven by my count), that doesn’t mean the whole thing is meaningless.
Congratulations, Albert Pujols.
It was a last-minute, but not altogether hare-brained idea. Tired of the pros always having the ultimate say in who is the best, I decided that the fans should have a say. And so the Base Ball Blog Writers And Readers Association Of America And Elsewhere was born. I sent out some e-mails and made an announcement here that I would take your votes and tabulate the winners for Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, and Cy Young Award in each league, as well as the best player not in the Hall of Fame. You were permitted to submit a top-five list for each category. The #1 name on your list received seven points, #2 four, #3 three, #4 two, and #1 one (the same scoring system used for the BBWAA MVP voting). This week we’ll begin looking at the results, starting with the one that really had no competition…
American League Rookie of the Year
While I was a little disappointed in the voter turnout, I do believe this award will probably line up well with the professionals’ picks. Perhaps next year I will organize the event a little better and more will respond to the call.
Come back tomorrow for the National League Rookie of the Year, which turned out to be a much closer race with what many may consider a surprise winner.
The second card in the 2012 TWJ set is rookie sensation Mike Trout, outfielder for the team with the longest name in all of professional sports (someone should probably fact check the last part of that sentence). Have they already made his plaque for the Hall of Fame? He is a shoo-in for first ballot induction. Come back in twenty-five years and tell me if I was wrong about that.
Large photo credit: Kelvin Kuo/US Presswire
Inset photo credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US Presswire