Baseball Notes: New Poll, Home Run Ball Angst & Peek at the Picks

Hello again everybody...

Welcome to Wednesday. Barack Obama's been the Democratic nominee for less than 24 hours and I'm already sick of hearing about politics. This could be a long summer and fall. Fortunately, we here at The Sports Take don't talk politics. We talk sports and we like to think we do it well... or at least in an entertaining manner!

To whit, today I'll discuss the new poll I've posted. Then I'll discuss my opinion on whether fans should throw back home run balls hit by opposing teams. And finally, it's this week's edition of the "Peek at the Picks" segment.

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So let's step up to the plate and take some hacks...

Before I get to the poll actually, I have to put in another plea. Friday's column will include another Sports Take Mailbag segment. I need more questions though people. This is your chance to be a part of the blogosphere! Take action. Be a part of the buzz. Help me out for chrissakes! I haven't even received a question from the individual who gave me the idea for the segment in the first place! (You know who you are!) So open up your email, and share your wit and cleverness with Sports Take nation (copyright Eric Nelson)!

Okay Brewers fans. I have to give you your due. Your boys have won 5 in a row and 8 of their last 10. Included in there are 2 wins against one my favorite teams, the Diamondbacks. Curse you for that by the way.

(Aside: I'm keeping an eye on the gamecast of the D'back/Brewer afternoon tilt. I'll keep you updated as I write. Currently there's no score in the bottom of the 1st.)

So the new poll is dedicated to your club. Even with your recent surge, you're still 7 games back of the Cubs - who've won 9 in a row. So what do you think? Are the Brewers on the comeback trail? Or is this a momentary upswing on the roller coaster that is their season? Where will they finish? You tell me!

(Aside, pt. 2: Crap. Yet another defensive miscue by the D'backs. Micah. Throw it too the first baseman, not by him! The Crew takes advantage and scores the runner on a Gabe Kapler double. Dammit.)

Next up, let's talk home run balls. In yesterday's Star Tribune, Patrick Reusse wrote a great column about a fan who threw back a home run ball hit by Alex Rodriguez. So I figured I'd throw out my 2-cents on the subject.

I don't like it. I don't think it proves anything. And most importantly I think there are far better options.

Most stories will credit the Chicago Cubs with beginning the tradition of tossing home run balls hit by opposing players back on to the field as a show of team/fan unity. I haven't seen evidence to contradict this claim. And though I've seen no evidence that specifically confirms it, let's just say that they started it.

Do we really want to adopt the traditions of a team best known for it's futility?! Hey, that team has lost more games than everybody except the Phillies! Let's do what their fans do! Um, sorry, but I'll pass on that one.

Then you have to account for the occasional impracticality of it. In the case of the young man Reusse mentions in his column, this was an A-Rod home run. Barring injury, A-Rod's going to be your next career home run leader (and let's be honest, that can't come soon enough). So instead of owning (and potentially being able to sell) a piece of history, this knucklehead sent it back to the batting practice bin. Well done sir.

Obviously not every ball hit out of the park is going to have historical significance. But don't they have individual, personal historical significance? I've caught exactly one ball in all my years of going to baseball games - okay, "caught" isn't the right term, I "knocked it down in an attempt to catch it and then picked it up" - and that wasn't even a home run ball. But it came with a story (if you're one of the two people who haven't heard it, let me know and I'll tell you about it) and that was enough for me to keep it.

(Aside, pt. 3: Mark Reynolds just lined an RBI single in the top of the 3rd. Snakes and Crew are tied at 1.)

The night before the incident in that article, I saw a lady get a home run ball hit by a Yankee, and as the crowd jeered for her to throw it back, you could clearly read her lips as she said, "No! I want to keep it!". And she did. I say good for her! For all any of us know, that was the first ball she'd ever gotten. Or perhaps it was her favorite player that hit it (I believe I recall her wearing a Yankee shirt). Whatever it was, she had every right to keep that ball and I'm glad she didn't bow to the taunts of the unwashed masses. Yes, "Home Run Porch" people, I'm looking at you!

(Aside, pt. 4: Uggh. Back to back to back RBI singles by Braun, Fielder and Hart along with a Kendall sac fly have given the Crew a 5-1 lead after 3.)

And ultimately, even if you don't want the ball, there's a far better option than throwing it back. Look at the people around you. Guaranteed there's at least 5 kids under the age of 10 somewhere in your vicinity. Be the person that the kid tells a story about for the rest of his life. Give the ball to a kid. It's worth it even if only in the karmic sense.

Finally it's time for this week's Peek at the Picks where I run down the current division leaders and compare them to my pre-season picks.

NL East: Philadelphia Phillies, 35-25 (Dan's Pick: NY Mets, 4.5 games back)
The Florida Freaking Marlins have finally started to come back down to earth. Suddenly their mediocre pitching is actually being mediocre. And their hot hitting has been only tepid. Combine that with a Philly surge and you find the Fish 2.5 games back. The Mets are still hanging in there. Willie Randolph is still employed. For now...

NL Central: Chicago Cubs, 38-21 (DP: Cubs)
I mentioned it earlier, so I won't belabor the point. The Cubs are rolling. Milwaukee's finally getting up off the mat and St. Louis is still right there. Look for the NL Central to be the most hotly contended division in baseball. And quite possibly the producer of the NL Wildcard.

(Aside, pt. 5: Good lord. A Gabe Kapler triple in the 4th scores the 6th run of the game for the Crew. Why does God hate me?)

NL West: Arizona Diamondbacks, 32-27 (DP: D'backs)
A lot of ups and downs for the Snakes lately. And honestly, there's been more downs than ups. Fortunately for them, they play in the worst division in baseball. They still own a 3.5 game lead on the Dodgers and a 7 game lead on the Giants. No reason for major concerns yet. Yet...

AL East: Tampa Bay Rays, 35-23 (DP: Boston Red Sox (whom I hate), 0.5 GB)
At least 1 of the Florida teams is hanging in there. The Red Sox (whom I hate) lineup took a blow this week when David Ortiz was put on the 15 day DL. Reports have his actual stay on the bench being any where from 2 weeks to 2 months. And if it turns out his wrist injury requires surgery? Well then he's lost for the year. Darn it all to heck anyway.

(Aside, pt. 6: Bob Melvin finally yanked Micah Owings from the game. 3 innings pitched, 8 hits, 4 earned runs and he's still responsible for a couple of baserunners. Ick.)

AL Central: Chicago White Sox, 31-26 (DP: Detroit Tigers, 7.5 games back)
Maybe there's a method to Ozzie's madness? The day after the Chicago manager blew off some steam in the media about his team's offense, they responded with a 9-run, 4 home run effort. Mind you it was against the Royals - who've assumed their rightful position in last place - but it's still a positive! The Tigers are finally out of the cellar, but aren't even close to producing at a rate that's going to get them back in this thing.

(Aside, pt. 7: Think I was kidding about God hating me? Corey Hart just hit an inside-the-park 3-run homer. Perfect. And if that wasn't enough, Jason Kendall followed with a solo shot for good measure. 10-1 Brewers after 5. Guess it's a slow day up in heaven.)

AL West: Los Angeles Angels, 36-24 (DP: Seattle Mariners, 14.5 GB)
Since the M's are dead and buried, I've decided to turn this portion of the picks into the Torii Hunter Watch. I mentioned in the preview that I thought Torii was going to have a monster year. Currently Torii's hitting .278 with 7 home runs and 27 RBI. Not the monster numbers I thought he'd have at this point. But he's still looking like a lock for the All-Star game. And if he can get it going towards the second half, he may prove me right after all!

So that's all for today folks. It's still 10-1 Brewers after 5 innings as I write this. I never give up when it comes to a baseball game. But it's safe to say that I'm less than confident that the D'backs will avoid the sweep. But the beauty of baseball is that even when a team performs poorly, there's always another game to play. And if I could extend that into a personal metaphor, the Twins travel to meet the Brewers in a week and a half. Vengeance shall be mine!

I'll be back tomorrow with my Belmont Stakes Preview, and then it's more baseball on Friday!


  1. Frankly... if by some act of god that I can actually catch a ball smacked out towards me sitting with all the other ball hungry people. Then I'm keeping it! I don't care who the team is or situation. It came to me! Its mine! So look out all you little old ladies and snot nose kids who think I'll be nice and let you reach for it... MINE!

    Throw it back to the team in the outfield? Screw that... its mine! they can go get their own ball.

  2. That would be another way to put it.

  3. 10-1 after 5, and that was the final as well? Why did the crew let up? :-)

  4. Because the Crew has the heart to have mercy on me. Unlike some deities I won't mention...

  5. Having never been anywhere near a ball at a baseball game if I catch a ball, I'm with Drew--I'm keeping it!

    As for the Brewers sweeping the D-Backs, I refuse to get involved in any trash talk because I have a history with karma, and it isn't good!! :-)