The Challenge

I was brainstorming ideas for blog posts the other day and it hit me. I’ve connected a few teams to Kevin Bacon before. Why don’t I try to connect them all? It will be a time-consuming process but it should be a fun one. So while I’m researching and finding connections for my next post, you can enjoy a few I’ve written over the past few years. My first Kevin Bacon post was for the Frisco RoughRiders but it’s not online anymore since the archives only go back to 2013 but one day I will repost it here.

Six Degrees Of Separation: Idaho Falls Chukars edition or the article where we connected to Kevin Bacon through rapper 50 Cent.

Bacon Nation or the article where we connected both the Quad Cities River Bandits and the Houston Astros

Royals With Bacon or the article where we connected both the Burlington Royals and the Kansas City Royals

Bringing Home The Bacon or the article that connects the New York Yankees.

Six Degrees Of Separation: Grand Junction Rockies edition or the article where we connect both the Grand Junction Rockies and the Colorado Rockies

It should be a fun series of posts so hopefully I’ll get the next one up soon! Until then, happy reading.

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Ball and Oates

I was decorating my office with some signed baseballs I had received over the years and sent a photo to one of my friends.

“Is that your whole collection?”

“No. There are some signed balls that are so special they will never leave the house.”

“Who could be so special that you don’t want to display it at work?”

“Johnny Oates.”

“Who?”

That seems to be the reaction I get whenever I mention his name. Although unless you were a 1990s Texas Rangers fan or a baseball fan in general as he played for five teams from 1970-1981, you might not know who he is. Oates was the first-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles in the 1967 MLB draft out of Virginia Tech. He made his big league debut on September 17, 1970 but he wasn’t on the roster whenever the team won the World Series that year. After the 1972 season, he was traded to Atlanta with Pat Dobson, Roric Harrison, and Davey Johnson for Taylor Duncan and Earl Williams. Oates was with several teams throughout the next nine seasons playing with the Atlanta Braves from 1973-1975, the Philadelphia Phillies from 1975-1976, the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1977-1979, and the New York Yankees from 1980-1981.

He started managing in the minors in 1982 but didn’t get his call to manage in the majors until 1991 with the Baltimore Orioles. He managed there through the 1994 season and after being let go, he was hired to be the manager for the Texas Rangers. He managed the team from 1995-2001 and that’s how I remember him.

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(Courtesy of Getty Images and The Sporting News)

I was five years old whenever I went to my first baseball game at the Ballpark in Arlington. I had watched Texas Rangers games with my dad and decided that Rusty Greer was my favorite player. So whenever I saw him talking to this guy with an awesome mustache, I asked my dad who he was to which he replied it was the manager Johnny Oates. I watched how he managed the team over the years and grew to like and respect him and his decisions on the field. He led the Rangers to the playoffs for the first time ever in 1996 and back-to-back American League West titles in 1998 and 1999.

That off-season I had the opportunity to meet him as part of the Dr Pepper Junior Rangers Club. He talked about what it takes for a team to come together and that through hard work anything is possible. I remember shaking his hand and him signing my baseball while asking all about how my Little League season was going. To this day, I’ve never forgotten how special that small moment meant to my little heart.

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He resigned less than 30 games into the 2001 season because the team had started the year with a bad record and never managed again. Oates was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiform, a type of brain tumor, in 2001 and passed away in 2004. He left his mark on baseball being inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame, the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, the Texas Rangers retired his number, and he was inducted into the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame. The Texas Rangers honored the 1996 team this season which was managed by Oates and manager Jeff Bannister talked to WFAA about his impact on the team.

So why does that baseball never leave my home? It’s a special memento from a great major league coach who coached my favorite players growing up and a great man who took the time to give pointers to a Little Leaguer wanting to be just like him.

Ice, Ice, Baseball: American League Edition

I recently moved to Colorado and as a native Texan, it has been a struggle adjusting to the difference in temperature. Before I moved here, I had only seen snow maybe five times in my life. After seeing weather forecasts, it looks like that will change this winter. But it interested me in just how cold professional baseball games have been. I took a quick look at game time lows around professional baseball from the past five years. All information was gathered from box scores on Baseball-Reference.com and all temps are from home games including playoffs.

American League

Baltimore Orioles:

2016– 44 degrees, April 10th against the Tampa Bay Rays

2015– 51 degrees, April 10th against the Toronto Blue Jays

April 25th against the Boston Red Sox

May 21st against the Seattle Mariners

2014– 39 degrees, April 16th against the Tampa Bay Rays

2013– 49 degrees, April 21st against the Los Angeles Dodgers

2012– 53 degrees, April 11th against the New York Yankees

Boston Red Sox:

2016– 44 degrees, April 13th against the Baltimore Orioles

2015– 44 degrees, April 20th against the Baltimore Orioles

May 1st against the New York Yankees

2014– 42 degrees, April 18th against the Baltimore Orioles

2013– 42 degrees, April 23rd against the Oakland Athletics

2012– 46 degrees, May 1st against the Oakland Athletics

Chicago White Sox:

2016– 32 degrees, April 9th against the Cleveland Indians

2015– 43 degrees, April 22nd against the Cleveland Indians

2014-37 degrees, April 3rd against the Minnesota Twins

2013-34 degrees, April 5th against the Seattle Mariners

2012-39 degrees, April 26th against the Boston Red Sox

April 27th against the Boston Red Sox

Cleveland Indians:

2016-34 degrees, April 5th against the Boston Red Sox

2015-44 degrees, April 27th against the Kansas City Royals

2014-36 degrees, April 5th against the Minnesota Twins

2013-42 degrees, April 12th against the Chicago White Sox

2012-43 degrees, April 28th against the Los Angeles Angels

Detroit Tigers:

2016-31 degrees, April 9th against the New York Yankees

2015-33 degrees, April 23rd against the New York Yankees

2014-41 degrees, April 5th against the Baltimore Orioles

April 16th against the Cleveland Indians

2013-35 degrees, April 11th against the Toronto Blue Jays

2012-42 degrees, April 10th against the Tampa Bay Rays

Houston Astros:

2016-71 degrees, May 2nd against the Minnesota Twins

2015-73 degrees, 68 games

2014-62 degrees, April 15th against the Kansas City Royals

2013-65 degrees, April 24th against the Seattle Mariners

2012-72 degrees, April 8th against the Colorado Rockies

May 2nd against the New York Mets

May 6th against the St Louis Cardinals

May 7th and 8th against the Miami Marlins

Kansas City Royals:

2016-55 degrees, May 2nd against the Washington Nationals

2015-52 degrees, May 20th against the Cincinnati Reds

2014-46 degrees, April 4th against the Chicago White Sox

2013-45 degrees, April 10th against the Minnesota Twins

2012-58 degrees, April 22nd against the Toronto Blue Jays

Los Angeles Angels:

2016-60 degrees, April 25th against the Kansas City Royals

2015-61 degrees, May 7th against the Houston Astros

May 8th against the Houston Astros

2014-57 degrees, April 2nd against the Seattle Mariners

2013-60 degrees, April 13th against the Houston Astros

2012-60 degrees, May 1st against the Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins:

2016-42 degrees, April 11th against the Chicago White Sox

2015-54 degrees, October 3rd against the Kansas City Royals

2014-31 degrees, April 17th against the Toronto Blue Jays

2013-34 degrees, April 12th against the New York Mets

2012-45 degrees, April 9th against the Los Angeles Angels

New York Yankees:

2016-36 degrees, April 5th against the Houston Astros

2015-42 degrees, April 9th against the Toronto Blue Jays

2014-43 degrees, April 16th against the Chicago Cubs

2013-42 degrees, April 12th against the Baltimore Orioles

2012-47 degrees, April 27th against the Detroit Tigers

Oakland Athletics:

2016-58 degrees, April 12th against the Los Angeles Angels

August 22nd against the Cleveland Indians

2015-54 degrees, April 7th against the Texas Rangers

May 12th against the Boston Red Sox

May 28th against the New York Yankees

May 29th against the New York Yankees

2014-49 degrees, March 31st against the Cleveland Indians

2013-55 degrees, April 15th against the Houston Astros

2012-55 degrees, April 6th against the Seattle Mariners

April 9th against the Kansas City Royals

April 10th against the Kansas City Royals

June 21st against the Los Angeles Dodgers

Seattle Mariners:

2016-51 degrees, April 12th against the Texas Rangers

2015-50 degrees, April 21st against the Houston Astros

2014-51 degrees, April 22nd against the Houston Astros

2013-46 degrees, April 12th against the Texas Rangers

April 13th against the Texas Rangers

2012-49 degrees, May 9th against the Detroit Tigers

Tampa Bay Rays:

2016-72 degrees, 80 games

2015-72 degrees, 85 games

2014-72 degrees, 81 games

2013-72 degrees, 81 games

2012-72 degrees, 81 games

Texas Rangers:

2016-66 degrees, September 26th against the Milwaukee Brewers

2015-56 degrees, April 28th against the Seattle Mariners

2014-52 degrees, April 14th against the Seattle Mariners

2013-39 degrees, April 10th against the Tampa Bay Rays

2012-65 degrees, April 8th against the Chicago White Sox

Toronto Blue Jays:

2016-59 degrees, June 14th against the Philadelphia Phillies

2015-54 degrees, May 23rd against the Seattle Mariners

2014-58 degrees, September 14th against the Tampa Bay Rays

2013-57 degrees, May 25th against the Baltimore Orioles

2012-53 degrees, May 2nd against the Texas Rangers

Ice, Ice, Baseball: National League Edition

I recently moved to Colorado and as a native Texan, it has been a struggle adjusting to the difference in temperature. Before I moved here, I had only seen snow maybe five times in my life. After seeing weather forecasts, it looks like that will change this winter. But it interested me in just how cold professional baseball games have been. I took a quick look at game time lows around professional baseball from the past five years. All information was gathered from box scores on Baseball-Reference.com and all temps are from home games including playoffs.

National League

Arizona Diamondbacks:

2016– 72 degrees, April 24th against the Pittsburgh Pirates

2015– 70 degrees, May 8th against the San Diego Padres

2014– 64 degrees, April 3rd against the San Francisco Giants

2013– 70 degrees, April 10th against the Pittsburgh Pirates

2012– 72 degrees, September 16th against the San Francisco Giants

Atlanta Braves:

2016– 55 degrees, April 10th against the St Louis Cardinals

2015– 61 degrees, October 2nd against the St Louis Cardinals

2014– 61 degrees, April 8th against the New York Mets

2013– 41 degrees, April 4th against the Philadelphia Phillies

2012-62 degree, April 18th against the New York Mets

Chicago Cubs:

2016-40 degrees, April 26th against the Milwaukee Brewers

2015– 39 degrees, April 29th against the Pittsburgh Pirates

2014– 38 degrees, April 4th against the Philadelphia Philles

April 18th against the Cincinnati Reds

May 16th against the Milwaukee Brewers

2013– 38 degrees, April 13th against the San Francisco Giants

2012– 40 degrees, April 10th against the Milwaukee Brewers

Cincinnati Reds:

2016– 38 degrees, April 9th against the Pittsburgh Pirates

2015– 55 degrees, October 1st against the Chicago Cubs

2014– 39 degrees, April 15th against the Pittsburgh Pirates

2013– 46 degrees, April 19th against the Miami Marlins

2012– 46 degrees, April 11th against the St Louis Cardinals

Colorado Rockies:

2016– 43 degrees, April 26th against the Pittsburgh Pirates

2015– 40 degrees, May 20th against the Philadelphia Phillies

2014– 48 degrees, April 4th against the Arizona Diamondbacks

April 7th against the Chicago White Sox

2013– 23 degrees, April 23rd against the Atlanta Braves

2012– 46 degrees, April 14th against the Arizona Diamondbacks

Los Angeles Dodgers:

2016– 61 degrees, April 25th against the Miami Marlins

April 27th against the Miami Marlins

2015– 57 degrees, April 7th against the San Diego Padres

2014– 63 degrees, April 22nd against the Philadelphia Phillies

April 25th against the Colorado Rockies

May 8th against the San Francisco Giants

2013– 60 degrees, April 15th against the San Diego Padres

2012– 54 degrees, April 13th against the San Diego Padres

Miami Marlins:

2016– 71 degrees, April 6th against the Detroit Tigers

April 16th against the Atlanta Braves

May 4th against the Arizona Diamondbacks

2015– 71 degrees, May 2nd against the Philadelphia Phillies

June 13th against the Colorado Rockies

2014– 72 degrees, August 2nd against the Cincinnati Reds

2013– 71 degrees, April 29th against the New York Mets

2012– 70 degrees, June 9th against the Tampa Bay Rays

Milwaukee Brewers:

2016– 63 degrees, April 8th against the Houston Astros

April 9th against the Houston Astros

2015– 62 degrees, April 21st against the Cincinnati Reds

2014– 62 degrees, April 14th against the St Louis Cardinals

April 15th against the St Louis Cardinals

2013– 60 degrees, May 26th against the Pittsburgh Pirates

2012– 59 degrees, May 12th against the Chicago Cubs

New York Mets:

2016– 41 degrees, April 9th against the Philadelphia Phillies

2015– 49 degrees, April 23rd against the Atlanta Braves

2014– 41 degrees, April 4th against the Cincinnati Reds

2013– 44 degrees, April 3rd against the San Diego Padres

2012– 49 degrees, April 23rd against the San Francisco Giants

Philadelphia Phillies:

2016-48 degrees, April 29th against the Cleveland Indians

2015-40 degrees, April 8th against the Boston Red Sox

2014– 46 degrees, April 29th against the New York Mets

2013– 50 degrees, April 21st against the St Louis Cardinals

50 degrees, April 22nd against the Pittsburgh Pirates

2012– 49 degrees, April 11th against the Miami Marlins

Pittsburgh Pirates:

2016– 39 degrees, April 3rd against the St Louis Cardinals

2015– 42 degrees, April 22nd against the Chicago Cubs

2014– 45 degrees, April 5th against the St Louis Cardinals

2013– 35 degrees, April 3rd against the Chicago Cubs

2012– 44 degrees, April 22nd against the St Louis Cardinals

San Diego Padres:

2016– 59 degrees, May 4th against the Colorado Rockies

May 5th against the San Diego Padres

2015– 60 degrees, May 14th against the Washington Nationals

2014– 60 degrees, April 2nd against the Los Angeles Dodgers

2013– 62 degrees, April 12th against the Colorado Rockies

April 14th against the Colorado Rockies

2012– 61 degrees, April 6th against the Los Angeles Dodgers

San Francisco Giants:

2016– 55 degrees, September 28th against the Colorado Rockies

2015– 54 degrees, April 17th against the Arizona Diamondbacks

2014-52 degrees, April 25th against the Cleveland Indians

2013– 54 degrees, June 18th against the San Diego Padres

2012-52 degrees, May 1st against the Miami Marlins

May 2nd against the Miami Marlins

St. Louis Cardinals:

2016– 50 degrees, April 11th against the Milwaukee Brewers

2015– 59 degrees, May 31st against the Los Angeles Dodgers

2014– 47 degrees, April 7th against the Cincinnati Reds

2013– 45 degrees, April 12th against the Milwaukee Brewers

2012– 49 degrees, April 13th against the Chicago Cubs

Washington Nationals:

2016– 43 degrees, April 10th against the Miami Marlins

2015– 46 degrees, April 8th against the New York Mets

2014– 49 degrees, April 17th against the St Louis Cardinals

2013– 45 degrees, April 3rd against the Miami Marlins

2012– 53 degrees, April 18th against the Houston Astros

 

Pulaski Profile Posts

A few people asked me why I didn’t post more stories this summer. Normally, I have time to write tons of player pieces and I did. I just didn’t have time to add them to the blog. I have attached links to the many Pulaski Yankees players I interviewed this summer. The future of the Yankees farm system is bright.

Wilkerman Garcia Shows Heart And Hustle

Second Time’s The Charm For Brandon Wagner

New York Native Tyler Honahan’s Dream Come True

Hector Rabago Builds A Better Defense

Blake Rutherford Learning The Ropes

Estevan Florial’s Baseball Family

Kevin Mahoney Builds Coaching Repertoire 

Manny Argomaniz’s Position Transition

Ben Ruta’s Staten Island Homecoming

Josh Gardiner’s Rocky Road Through Baseball

Icezack Flemming Embraces Unique Name

Phillip Diehl and Braden Bristo: Brothers In Arms

Kevin Cornelius Transitioning To Power Player

Truth, Justice, And The American Way

I’ve written about baseball teams made up of Lord of the Rings characters and the Avengers. I think it’s only fair that I look at the Justice League as well. After all what would DC think if they saw all the Marvel love. Here is today’s lineup:

The Justice League Lineup

  1. RF The Flash
  2. CF Superman
  3. SS Martian Manhunter
  4. C Batman
  5. 1B Wonder Woman
  6. 3B Green Arrow
  7. LF Green Lantern
  8. P Hawkman
  9. 2B Aquaman

Manager: Black Canary

Assistant Coach: The Atom

Officials: 1B umpire Joker

Home plate umpire Lex Luthor

So just how did I come to these conclusions? First off, the Flash is the fastest person ever. Why wouldn’t you have him batting first? By the time he even hits the ball, he could be all the way around the bases and scoring. And he can use his freaky fast powers to catch any ball in the outfield. He could be the center fielder if Superman and the Green Lantern couldn’t fly.

sheldon-the-flash-o

(Courtesy GifSoup.com and Big Bang Theory)

Next we have Superman. He really is the team captain that sets the lineup and as such has deemed himself worthy of centerfield. It is fitting since he can fly and he’s already a huge baseball fan so I would trust his judgement.

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(Courtesy Twitter.com and Man Of Steel)

Batting third and playing shortstop is the Martian Manhunter. He’s not the fastest guy around but he’s a shapeshifter and  can stretch his limbs which makes him the ideal shortstop. He’s also telepathic and can sense when runners are going to steal bases.

In the cleanup spot is Batman. There’s not much to say about his spot in the order but he is also catching because of his ability to trash talk with the best of them. Just don’t tell him that he smells because he’s a little sensitive about that.

batman

(Courtesy DCUGuide.com and quickmeme.com)

Next is the first baseman or basewoman I should say because it’s Wonder Woman. She’s tall and strong and can catch pretty much whatever you throw at her. If a ball does happen to look like it’s going to get away from her, she can use her lasso of truth to stop it. And who knows? Maybe they train the Amazons in baseball in addition to the acrobatics and weapons training.

giphy

(Courtesy giphy.com)

In the next two spots are the Green Team. Batting sixth and playing third base is the Green Arrow followed by the Green Lantern who is in left field. The Green Arrow has a strong arm due to shooting all of those arrows so no problem for him. The Green Lantern can fly and can move things with his mind. He has to be careful though because sometimes that could conflict with teammate Martian Manhunter.

Batting eighth is the pitcher, Hawkman. He has enhanced strength to the point where his pitches would be thrown extremely hard. He can also heal himself quickly which would allow him to pitch full games and on back-to-back days. In one issue, he almost severs his arm off but it heals completely back to normal.

Why is Aquaman playing second base and batting last? He’s not the best on land but he tries really hard.

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(Courtesy Pinterest.com)

The first base coach is The Atom because he can shrink himself and others. Can you imagine how helpful that would be when stealing bases? No one would see them coming. Black Canary is the third base coach. She has a canary cry which could render opponents defenseless but she prefers not using it if she can just be a regular coach.

The umpires are pretty self explanatory. Lex Luthor is relatively calm and judgmental while the Joker would race around the field to make calls and probably try to distract the players in the process. As we all know, he tends to stir up chaos in any way he can.

raw

(Courtesy tenor.com)

That’s just my take on the Justice League playing baseball. Maybe we’ll see it in the upcoming Justice League movie or maybe it’ll just stay on the small screen?

Catching Up With Catcher Donny Sands

donny-sands-2

The season was winding down for the Pulaski Yankees, the rookie affiliate of the New York Yankees, as the team faced the Burlington Royals in the last home series. Catcher Donny Sands quickly looked up into the stands as he approached the batter’s box. Smiling back proudly was his mom Alma who knew just what it took for him to make his dream come true.

Sands started playing baseball when he was three years old and it quickly became a passion for the whole family. His dad Roger played college baseball and his mom was extremely supportive becoming Donny’s drill partner.

“When I was little, she would actually throw me pinto beans and I would try to hit them with a broomstick. We were pretty poor so we used whatever we could find,” Sands said. “She would also throw me these little balls from Mexico and would also roll them to me to focus on fielding. She did anything she could to help me out.”

The Sands continued to help Donny pursue his dream as he played travel ball throughout the southwest.

“I played on this team called 520 Elite,” Sands said. “I’m from Tucson, Arizona and that was the area code. We played in Phoenix, California, and Las Vegas.”

When Sands was in high school, his father passed away. Sands said it made him and his mom closer as they overcame many obstacles to keep the baseball dream alive.

“All we have is each other and she’s my best friend,” Sands said. “High school was hard. My mom would have to go to Mexico to work and I would live in my car. We got kicked out of a few houses and went wherever we could.”

It was at one of those houses where Sands found out all of their hard work had paid off.

“There was a news station in Arizona doing a story on me. They were doing a day in the life kind of thing,” Sands said. “I had done a pre-draft workout with the Yankees and the reporters kept asking me what I thought. The Yankees called me in the eighth round.”

Sands was excited and decided to break the news to his mom who was working at the time and didn’t know.

“I actually came to her work with the cameras following me. I told her and she didn’t even notice the cameras. She just started crying because she was so happy.”

The Yankees drafted Sands in the eighth round of the 2015 draft and his signing bonus allowed him to give back to his mom.

“I bought my mom a house. That was a big thing for us because we didn’t have one when I was in high school. Now I know my mom has a place that she can call her own.”

Sands mainly played shortstop and third base in high school but the Yankees decided to convert him into a catcher just like Pulaski teammate Manny Argomaniz.

“It’s been awesome because everybody in this organization has been here for us. It’s been a lot of fun but it’s definitely hard,” Sands said. “People like to say it’s easy but it’s been really hard especially learning a new position behind the plate. I learn something new every day and am progressing. I think the hard work will definitely be worth it.”

The Sands family has overcome many hurdles and put in long hours of hard work to make it to pro baseball and Donny said with his family’s support, he hopes to continue making them proud.

“My mom is my best friend. She has helped me a lot whether it’s traveling places for baseball or helping me with drills. We’re constantly talking. I know she’s excited and happy for me and I hope to go as far as I can for her.”