Saturday, June 28, 2008

Another milestone night

Friday night proved to be a good one for me. I have waited a long time for this, but with the Boston Red Sox in Houston this weekend, I was able to finish off my list of every major league team seen.

The thing about the Red Sox, is it has been down to just them for several years. In 2000 I got to see the Mariners and Angels on my honeymoondwindling the list to two. I had Baltimore and Boston left to see.

I picked up Baltimore a few years ago when they came to Houston leaving just the Red Sox. Every year I would try to plan on going up to Arlington to see them play, but it seemed everytime they were in town, it was a bad weekend for me.

So I have waited. Finally the time came, but it wasn't easy. The Astros jacked up the ticket prices and then made you register and the only way to purchase the tickets was if you won a lottery. I registered with both mine and Patty's e-mail and neither one was chosen the first time around.

I had to wait a few weeks later before getting an e-mail that I was selected on the second chance drawing. Without hesitating I picked up two tickets.

Finally the game came, and it turned out to another milestone for me. During batting practice I caught my 21st ball. It was a homerun hit by Mark Loretta. I was in the Crawford Box when I made the grab. It was also my second straight batting practice to get a ball. The nice thing about this one was it was a home run I caught on the fly. It has been two years since catching a homer during batting practice.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

MLS is just bad soccer

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy watching the MLS from time-to-time. I'll usually turn the Dynamo on if they are on TV and watch, but the more I watch, the more I realize it is just bad soccer.

I think it becomes so apparent after watching the Euro 2008 for three weeks on TV. Then I turn on the Dynamo and FC Dallas and really see how bad it is. I have been out to see the Dynamo play twice and thoroughly enjoyed it. But you just have to take it for what it is.

The MLS is a second-rate league. It is probably the equivalent of AA baseball. The guys are good players and they have the potential to be good, they are just not there yet.

You just really see the difference after watching the European Championships and then the MLS. The play is very choppy and the pace never gets going. There is a bad pass or bad touch around every corner, and I am not sure anyone knows how to play defense. In the 30 minutes of the Dynamo and FC Dallas game tonight, I saw three separate shanks on attempts to clear the ball. Two of the sailed several rows into the seats.

On defense, there is a bunch of grabbing and late tackles. I guess because it happens all the time, half the stuff never gets called. There were several that could possibly draw a card on the international stage that didn't even get a whistle. Good runs never came to fruition and free kicks sailed 10 feet over the crossbar.

Now none if this will really keep me from going to see the Dynamo play. The games are still fun, especially in person. But I am going to have to stop watching on the same day as I watch a good international match.

It really goes to show how far behind the US is compared to the rest of the world. If this is what we have to offer, then some work still needs to be done. Granted more-and-more players are now going overseas to play and that is a good sign. More just need to start breaking through with some of the top level teams.

I think that is one of the reasons I detest Landon Donovan so much. He was playing at the top level in Germany and decided to come back and play in the MLS. He had a chance to prove that US players can play with the best in the world but gave it up. I think it says a lot about Donovan as well and his inability to consistently compete at a high level. You see flashes of greatness from him, and then he disappears for a stretch.

A big part of that is because he does not compete against the best in the world on a regular basis, so when he does, he chokes. The MLS does nothing to prepare Donovan or any other US player to compete on the world stage.

I used to think the MLS was coming along, and if more players would just stay here and play, it would help legitimize the league. As much as I would love for that to happen and get to the point where top players from other countries are coming to play here, it doesn't look like it will happen anytime in the next 10 years.

In the meantime, the US team is suffering because many of the players are not going against top level competition. It is kind of a catch 22 situation because the MLS needs the players here to continue to develop the league, but the US needs them overseas and playing to help develop them as world-class athletes.

BTW - I picked Spain before Euro started, so I am looking good going into the final. I really don't want Germany to win.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

MLB Draft final count

Here is the final count of everyone I have seen play who was drafted this year. I am sure there are a few that I missed with some of them coming from the Stan Musial World Series and then a name or two that just slipped past me.

But the count right now is 69 players who I saw in either high school or college or and some cases, both. Also, there are two other players I know, but never saw play who were drafted, Hunter Cervenka who is Patty's cousin and Kirkland Rivers who's parents are a long-time family friend with my family.

Here is the list:

19 from Chicago Cubs – Andrew Cashner, Conroe HS
39 from St. Louis – Lance Lynn, Ole Miss
43 from Arizona – Wade Miley, Southeastern Louisiana
45 from Boston – Bryan Price, Rice
67 from Detroit – Cody Satterwhite, Ole Miss
75 from NY Yankees – Scott Bittle, Ole Miss
93 from LA Dodgers – Kyle Russell, Texas
188 from Milwaukee – Jose Duran, Texas A&M
210 from Chicago White Sox – Jordan Danks, Texas
217 from LA Dodgers – Cole St. Clair, Rice
225 from Padres – Adam Zornes, Rice
237 from SF – Scott Barnes, St. Johns
244 from Oakland – Jeremy Barfield, Klein HS
275 from St. Louis – Aaron Luna, Rice
285 from San Diego – Kyle Thebeau, Texas A&M
286 from Philidelphia – Cody Overbeck, Ole Miss
306 from Minnesota – Evan Bigley, Dallas Baptist
345 from San Diego – Tyson Bagley, Dallas Baptist
347 from Colorado – Kyle Walker, The Woodlands HS
351 from Cleveland – Matt Langwell, Sam Houston State
372 from Seattle – Ken Kasparek, Texas
391 from Washington – Blake Stouffer, Texas A&M
403 from Detroit – Jared Gayhart, Rice
427 from LA Dodgers – Clay Calfee, Conroe HS
432 from Seattle - Luke Burnett, La Tech
433 from Detroit – Tyler Conn, Southern Miss
446 from Baltimore – Jason Gurka, Brenham HS
457 from Dodgers - Albie Goulder, La Tech
468 from Arizona – Bobby Stone, Montgomery HS
500 from NY Yankees – Luke Anders, Texas A&M
549 from Toronto – Bobby Bell, Rice
574 from Oakland – Michael Hart, Texas State
581 from Chicago Cubs – David Macias, The Woodlands HS
588 from Arizona – Joseph Gautier – Bayomon Vaqueros (Stan Musial)
611 from Chicago Cubs - Jericho Jones, La Tech
619 from LA Angles – Beau Brooks, Troy
637 from LA Dodgers – David Sever, Saint Louis
638 from Milwaukee – Lucas Letuge, Rice
670 from Atlanta – Bryan Carter, Texas A&M
697 from LA Dodgers – Brian Ruggiano, Texas A&M
721 from Washington – Chris Kelley, Rice
723 from Texas - Adam Cobb, La Tech
737 from Colorado – Thomas Field, Texas State
739 from LA Angles – Taylor Jungmann, Georgetown HS
765 from San Diego – Logan Power, Ole Miss
777 from SF – Ryan Lormand, Houston
879 from Toronto – Justin Cryer, Ole Miss
883 from Detroit – Keith Stein, Sam Houston State
885 from San Diego – Omar Gutierrez, A&M Corpus Christi
915 from San Diego – Bobby Verbick, Sam Houston State
995 from St. Louis - Kevin Thomas, SFA
1033 from Detroit - Bryan Pounds, Houston
1043 from Tampa Bay - James Bagley, Huffman
1079 from Cincinnati - Erik Greggerson, SFA
1108 from Florida - Drew Clothier, Army
1124 From NY Mets - Tim Erickson, Lamar
1171 From Washington - James Kiethly, UTSA
1215 From San Diego - Colin Lynch, St. Johns
1221 From Cleveland - Tim Palincsar, UTSA
1222 from Boston - Sam Stafford, Klein Collins
1224 from Pittsburg - Chris Simmons, Army
1229 from Cincinnati - Justin Walker, Lamar
1254 from Pittsburgh - Cole White, Army
1264 from Oakland - Kent Walton, BYU
1321 from Washington - JP Padron, Rice
1391 from Colorado - Jimmy Cesario, Houston
1440 from Chicago - Dylan Mosley, Louisiana Tech
1442 from Detroit - Casey Moore, Saint Louis
1479 from Pittsburgh - Craig Parry, South Dakota State

Saturday, June 14, 2008

My 20th BP ball and a 12th Street recognition

I went to the Astros-Yankees game last night and had a bit of a milestone moment for me.

I was in the Crawford Boxes during batting practice, and it was a pretty uneventful day. Not much was getting hit our way. A few balls rung off the back wall but nothing of note close to me. I had my usual spot standing in the steps about halfway up in the Crawford Boxes.

It is a spot I have stood in for years and never had a problem there. In the middle of the Yankees' batting practice, an usher came down and told me I had to stand in the seating area. I didn't argue. I moved down to a spot on the second row.

I was only there about 10 minutes when a ball came my way. It wasn't off a bat however. The ball was tossed into the seats by a Yankee bullpen pitcher. The ball sailed over the front row and was heading directly over my head.

It was headed for the kids standing behind me until I jumped an was able to pull the ball in. It was the 20th ball I have gotten during batting practice. I am not sure who tossed the ball in the seats, though. Since players now wear the batting practice pullover jackets, it make it hard to tell who is who if you don't know the players.

I was shutout last season during batting practice, so this is my first ball in two years since the "Twin Killing" when I caught two balls hit into the Crawford Boxes by the Minnesota Twins.

I was hoping No. 20 would come off the bat, but it is nice to get the milestone ball out of the way. I don't think I'll do BP at the Braves/Rangers game on Wednesday, so I'll get my chance at No. 21 in two weeks when the Red Sox come to town.

That game will also be a personal milestone for me as it will complete the list for MLB teams for me. I have been waiting to add the Red Sox for quite some time.

Another funny thing happened at the game last night. During batting practice, I noticed the guy standing next to me kept looking at me and occasionally whispering something to his friend. This went on for about 30 minutes before he finally said something to me.

He first asked if I worked as Sam Houston and when I said yes he asked if I was on TV. When I said yes he told me he is a freshman at Sam and he watches the 12th Street Sports Bar every night.

It was my first recognition from the TV show outside of Huntsville.

Friday, June 6, 2008

MLB Draft Day 2

Scanning through the draft on day two, more names are coming up that I have seen play. After eight the first day I expect a bunch here in the final 44 rounds.

Texas' Jordan Danks was taken with the 210th pick in the seventh round. I saw Danks play last week at Rice.

Another guys I saw last week at Rice was Cole St. Clair. The Owl hurler was taken at 217 by the Dodgers. I have seen St. Clair throw several times in his career.

At 225 another Rice Owl was plucked off the board when Adam Zornes was take by the Padres.

The Houston regional is starting to get popular here in the draft. Scott Barnes, the hurler from St. John's was taken at 237 by San Francisco. Barns tossed a gem in the opening game of the regional shutting down Texas 2-1.

At 244 Jeremy Barfield was selected by the A's. I saw Barfield as a sophomore at Klein High School against Huntsville.

Back to the Rice guys, as Aaron Luna was taken at 275 by St. Louis.

Back-to-back picks at 285 and 286. Kyle Thebeau from Texas A&M first went to the Padres followed by Cody Overbeck from Mississippi to the Phillies. Overbeck played against the Kats in the Oxford Regional last season.

In the 10th round at 306 Evan Bigley from Dallas Baptist was pulled off the board by the Twins. The Patriots are regular visitors to Huntsville each season.

They are really starting to roll in. With pick 345 The Padres took Tyson Bagley a pitcher from DBU who threw against the Kats this season. Two picks later, Kyle Walker, a pitcher from Texas was selected. I actually didn't see Walker last week in Houston (edit to add I did, he just didn't last very long). I saw Walker pitcher several times when he was at The Woodlands.

At 351 the first Bearkat is off the board, sort of. Matt Langwell, from Rice, spent his freshman season at SHSU before getting hurt and then transferring to Rice.

At 372, Seattle took Ken Kasparek in the 12th round. Kasparek threw the opening game last week against St. John's and was the tough-luck loser in that game losing to Barns and St. Johns.

Another Aggie in the 13th with Blake Stouffer going to the Nationals at 391.

Jared Gayhart from Rice goes at 403 to Detroit. He surrendered a run late in the game in the Kats win over the Owls in Huntsville this year.

In the 14th round at pick No. 427, the Dodgers took Clay Calfee from Angelo State. I saw Calfee play three years ago at Conroe High School against the Hornets.

Just a few picks later at No. 433, Tyler Conn from Southern Miss was taken by the Tigers. Conn was one of the top closers this past season. Last year against Sam Houston he blew a lead in that thrilling 11 inning game. The Kats got to Conn in the 9th and 10th before winning it in the 11th.

At 446, Baltimore selected Jason Gurka from Angelina CC. Gurka pitched a couple of times in the playoffs at Don Sanders for Brenham.

Bearkat signee and Montgomery product Bobby Stone was selected in the 15th round, 468 overall by the Diamondbacks. I have seen Stone play once against Barbers Hill in the playoffs last season.

With pick 500, Luke Anders from Texas A&M goes to the Yankees. He homered last month against the Bearkats in Huntsville.

Another vet of the Houston Regional, Robert Bell of Rice was taken at 549 by Toronto. Bell came in the game against the Bearkats with a 3-2 lead and shut down the SHSU lineup for three straight innings.

It has been a while, but the second SLC played has finally been taken. Michael Hart from Texas State was selected in the 19th round by Oakland with the 574th overall pick.

Another Woodlands product, at pick 581 by the Cubs, David Macias was taken. Macias, out of Vanderbilt was once considered one of the top middle infield prospects in the country out of high school.

Back to the Oxford Regional from last year. Beau Brooks from Troy entered the game late as a pinch hitter and singled in the Kats's 5-4 win to eliminate Troy from the postseason. Brooks was selected No. 619 overall by the Angels.

Another set of back-to-back picks. First David Sever from St. Louis pitched in Huntsville at the beginning of the season against South Dakota State and got roughed up, allowing 8 runs on 10 hits. He was taken 637 overall by the Dodgers.

With the next pick of the 21st round, Lucas Letuge from Rice was selected by the Brewers. Letuge was one of the many Owls to pitch in that 13-12 game in March.

The Braves take the first player I have seen play with Byran Carter, from Texas A&M going with the 670th pick. Another Aggie goes 27 picks later to the Dodgers when they selected Brian Ruggiano.

Back to rice, I think their entire pitching staff has now been drafted. Chris Kelley, who started the St. John's game was taken at 721 by the Nationals.

Another Bobcat is selected when Texas State's Thomas Field goes 737 overall to Colorado. Two picks later, Georgetown High School's Taylor Jungmann is taken by the Angels. Jungmann played a playoff game at Don Sanders Stadium.

Another Oxford Regional guy from Ole Miss with the selection of Logan Power. He was taken in the 25th round, No. 765 overall by the Padres.

A Houston Cougar goes at pick 777 by the Giants. Saw him play last season when Houston visited Huntsville.

Finally some Bearkats are on the board. I skipping ahead a bit, but Keith Stein and Bobby Verbock were just selected. Stein goes in the 29th round by the Tigers and Verbick was a 30th round pick by the Padres.

Great to see these two guys go. They have both been a huge part of the Bearkats' turn around the last two seasons, and both are great guys as well. It will be nice to have a few extra guys to follow in the minors as well. Now we wait for Sebek to see is he will get taken.

Now back to the draft.

Justin Cryer, from Ole Miss goes in the 29th round No. 879 to Toronto. Cryer tossed the final three innings against the Bearkats in the Oxford Regional opener.

Two picks after Stein, another SLC guy gets selected. Omar Gutierrez from A&M Corpus Christi goes to the Padres. Gutierrez pitched a gem to open the SLC tournament to beat No. 1-seed UTSA.

Going back a little bit, one of the guys I saw play last summer in the Stan Musial World Series was selected. Joseph Gautier from Bethune-Cookman was taken No. 588 by Arizona. He pitched for the Puerto Rican team. I'm sure there are more from the SMWS, but I don't know how I'll find all of that out.

Back to the draft. 20 rounds to go, and I think I will just try to get a qucik rundown of just the names from here on. I'll also go back and pick up some names I missed.

432 from Seattle - Luke Burnett, La Tech
457 from Dodgers - Albie Goulder, La Tech
611 from Chicago Cubs - Jericho Jones, La Tech
723 from Texas - Adam Cobb, La Tech
995 from St. Louis - Kevin Thomas, SFA
1033 from Detroit - Bryan Pounds, Houston
1043 from Tampa Bay - James Bagley, Huffman
1079 from Cincinnati - Erik Greggerson, SFA
1108 from Florida - Drew Clothier, Army
1124 From NY Mets - Tim Erickson, Lamar
1171 From Washington - James Kiethly, UTSA
1215 From San Diego - Colin Lynch, St. Johns
1221 From Cleveland - Tim Palincsar, UTSA
1222 from Boston - Sam Stafford, Klein Collins
1224 from Pittsburg - Chris Simmons, Army
1229 from Cincinnati - Justin Walker, Lamar
1254 from Pittsburgh - Cole White, Army
1264 from Oakland - Kent Walton, BYU
1321 from Washington - JP Padron, Rice
1391 from Colorado - Jimmy Cesario, Houston
1440 from Chicago - Dylan Mosley, Louisiana Tech
1442 from Detroit - Casey Moore, Saint Louis
1479 from Pittsburgh - Craig Parry, South Dakota State

Thursday, June 5, 2008

First day of baseball draft

I don't know why, but I always look forward to the baseball draft. Not like football where I love sitting for two days and just watching the draft, with baseball I like reading through the list after each day is done to see who I have seen play.

Between Sam Houston and then the high school baseball I watch each year, I probably see about 50 games a year. Since we didn't host any playoff games this past season, I didn't get to see as many high school games as I normally do, in fact, I didn't see one single HS game this year.

But even with that said, there are still quite a few guys who were taken on the first day of the draft that I got to see play at some point in their high school or college careers.

The first guy to come off the board that I saw play was Andrew Cashner. Cashner is a pitcher from TCU who I saw play when he was at Conroe High School. He wasn't that impressive at Conroe, earning honorable-mention all-district. He went to Angelina Community College before going to TCU. The Cubs took Cashner 19th overall.

Twenty picks later, Lance Lynn from Ole Miss was selected by St. Louis Cardinals. I saw Lynn play last season in the Oxford Regional against Southern Miss. He took a no-hitter into the sixth of that game going the distance allowing just two hits. I actually saw him for the first time two nights earlier at the Library.

It only took four more picks for the next guy I have seen play get selected. With the 43rd pick, Arizona selected Wade Miley from Southeastern Louisiana. I saw Miley throw two weeks ago at The Don in the SLC baseball tournament.

The next pick came even faster when the Boston Red Sox took Bryan Price out of Rice with the 45th pick. I saw Price on March 4 this year when the Owls visited The Don. Price came in the game in the 9th and gave up the winning run in a 13-12 Bearkat victory.

Another product of the Oxford Regional, Cody Satterwhite was taken with the 67th pick by the Detroit Tigers. Satterwhite pitched an inning of relief in the regional final against the Bearkats.

Eight picks later, the third pitcher from a very good Ole Miss pitching staff was selected when Scott Bittle was taken with the 75th pick by the Yankees. Bittle got the start in that regional final game against the Kats and was touched up pretty good. SHSU tagged him for eight runs on 10 hits in just 3 2/3 innings of work. Ole Miss of course won the game 21-13.

With the 93rd pick, the Dodgers selected Kyle Russell out of Texas. The last time I saw Russell was a week ago in Houston at the Houston Regional. He hit a ball in the first inning of the game against the Bearkats that I'm not sure has landed yet.

It took a while, but the next player I had seen play was selected at 188 when the Brewers took Jose Duran out of Texas A&M. Duran had a pretty good game at The Don, tagging the Kats for three hits.

So seven of the top 93 players selected I had seen play and a total of eight on the first day with 6 rounds in the book. The draft concludes Friday, and there should be quite a few more names added to the list.

It really wasn't a strong year for Texas prospects and not many guys from high school were taken on Day 1.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My directorial debut

I had to wait awhile before I could do anything with this, but I have been told I can now release this. I made my directorial debut this past winter, and I must say, I did a bang up job.

Greg Hinze, my Associate AD had visions of getting on Big Brother. He needed to do a 2 minute audition video and wanted to use the interview room downstairs for the video. We decided to go with the Coors Light theme with the coaches press conferences.

The shooting took about 30 minutes and we shot each scene about four or five times each. We tried to keep with the theme of the commercials where we were cutting back and forth from him to the reporters. I wanted to keep the look of them not necessarily in the same room as him.

The one thing I changed at the end was when he was going off on his "Mike Gundy" impression and comes walking out from behind the podium. I placed Lance at the edge of the backdrop, because in the Gundy rant, there is a girl just standing there watching as well.

After the video was sent in he got a call back saying the video was one of the most unique they have ever received. The cast for Big Brother 9 was already set, but they would keep him in mind for Big Brother 10.

He had to be secret about a lot of the developments, but come to find out he got a semifinal interview and went down to Houston in late April. They said they would get back in touch with him by the end of May to fly him out to LA for a final interview if he was selected.

It is now June and he hasn't heard anything, so I have been given the freedom to release the video to the world.

So here it is, the Greg Hinze Big Brother audition video.


video

Monday, June 2, 2008

I could never be a hockey goalie

I love playoff hockey. It is funny because I can't watch it during the regular season (actually do they even show it on TV during the regular season?) The games just don't get me excited from November to May (is that how long the season runs?)

The best part about it is when the games go to overtime. It is sudden death and one shot ends the game. Unlike the NFL's sudden death OT, you can't see this one coming. In the NFL, unless there is a long pass or run or an interception for a TD, you pretty much see the buildup to the finish.

In hockey, the game can swing so fast. One team can take three shots on goal and 10 seconds later there is a counter attack the other way and a shot on the other goal.

The first time I remember staying glued to the TV during a hockey game was in 1996 during the Red Wings and Blues playoff game. I was supposed to go out with some friends, but couldn't leave the TV as a scoreless game went into the fifth overtime.

The game was scoreless into the fifth period, when an innocent-looking giveaway by Wayne Gretzky at center ice turned into a magical moment by the Wings' captain. Steve Yzerman ripped a slap shot from just inside the blue line over the shoulder of a stunned Jon Casey. The game ended with Yzerman's first career overtime playoff goal and arguably the most memorable of his 70 career postseason goals. (Thanks to espn.com for that, I couldn't remember the year).

As I sit and watch the Penguins and Red Wings play in second OT in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals, this is shaping up to be another classic. The Wings looked to be 30 seconds from winning the Cup before the Penguins scored to tie the game at 3. The Detroit fans were ready to celebrate a championship until the arena went silent.

Which brings me to what I love the most about overtime hockey, the reaction of the crowd on the game-winning goal. I go back and fourth on this one as to what I am rooting for. Hearing the arena erupt when the home team scores is pretty cool, but then again, hearing a dead silence with the exception of the horn in the arena is pretty cool as well. Since I am a Penguins fan (I love the jersey's if anyone is thinking about a birthday present. July 14 is right around the corner) I am pulling for dead silence.

Speaking of arena sounds, I don't know if there is a more excruciating sound in all of sports (other than the sound of Joe Theismann's leg breaking) than the clang of a puck hitting the post in OT. On both sides, for a split second, breaths are held waiting to see if the game is over or if they will continue to skate.

If the Penguins can win this, I'm rooting for this to go to a Game 7 for the Cup and then I'm rooting for overtime.

UPDATE: 11:20 p.m. - The Penguins just held off a power play in the closing seconds of the second OT to force a third. I'm in this for the long haul.

UPDATE: 11:48 p.m. - SILENCE!!! Just before midnight, the Pens get one in to force Game 6 back in Pittsburgh.