The name on the front of the jersey

Jeter Rivera

Future Hall of Famers Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, Yankees throughout their careers…quite a rarity these days.

Gehrig. Feller. Williams. Musial. Banks. Stargell. Yastrzemski. Bench. Yount. Ripken. The list goes on and on. Many of baseball’s all-time greats never changed uniforms in their lengthy big league careers. Of course that’s a rarity now, which makes present-day Yankees greats Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter all the more unusual.

I grew up in an era when baseball was changing dramatically. In the 1970s, as the DH rule and free agency hit baseball, longtime stars suddenly started moving from team to team. I remember thinking how strange it was to see Catfish Hunter become a Yankee, but superstars changing uniforms quickly became the norm. Continue reading

Dave Parker: The Cobra’s on-field impact too easily forgotten

Dave Parker

Dave Parker was the star of the stars for the late-’70s Pirates.

Today’s sad news that former All-Star Dave Parker is battling Parkinson’s Disease stirred a host of childhood memories.

I grew up watching “The Cobra.” I was a mediocre right fielder in Little League right around the time Parker was winning batting titles and Gold Gloves patrolling right field in Pittsburgh. For years he was one of my favorite players, both in his truly electric prime as a legitimate five-tool talent with the “We Are Family” Pirates of the late 1970s and later, when he resurrected his career following baseball’s cocaine scandal of the 1980s that also claimed another hero of mine, Vida Blue.

As a West Coast native, I was never a Pirates fan, but they were a fun team to watch throughout much of the 1970s. The late ‘70s “Lumber Company” lineup of Willie Stargell and Bill Madlock and Omar Moreno and more was impressive to say the least, but to me the true superstar was always Parker. Continue reading

Puig: Astounding to date, but not a Hall of Famer just yet

Eric Young & Mike Piazza

Two future major leaguers, Eric Young and Mike Piazza, as Albuquerque Dukes in 1993.

Twenty years ago I had the good fortune of working in the front office of the old Albuquerque Dukes as Mike Piazza blazed his way through town on his way to the Dodgers and, I expect (steroid rumors aside), ultimately the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was a classic phenom – a late round draft pick taken primarily as a favor to Tommy Lasorda who blossomed into maybe the best-hitting catcher in baseball history.

However, I also remember Raul Mondesi, who had almost as meteoric a rise through the system and to the majors. He was yet another Dodgers product who became a Rookie of the Year, and yet another phenom. He had some very good years, but he never reached the greatness predicted for him when he arrived in the big leagues., and instead of a storied Dodgers career he ultimately wore the uniforms of seven different franchises. Continue reading

America’s pastime on the silver screen: Baseball movies good and bad

Robert Redford

Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs in ‘The Natural’

As fall turns toward winter I always start watching more movies, both at theaters and at home. At the same time, I’m in withdrawal since there’s no baseball to watch and the Giants’ off-season looks to be pretty quiet, so I started recalling my favorite baseball movies…especially since I’ll probably be watching many of these yet again in the coming weeks as I await the start of spring training.

I’ve seen dozens of lists of top 10 baseball movies and top 10 sports movies over the years, and usually have disagreed with them (as you no doubt will with mine – and you can vote on your favorite below)…but I don’t think I’ve ever actually done one. My list stretches to 15, but who’s counting? Continue reading

Baseball’s “Steroid Era” still echoes in today’s news

Jason Giambi

Rockies veteran Jason Giambi

The news that grizzled veteran slugger Jason Giambi was interviewing for the Colorado Rockies managerial job – which coincided with the horrendous post-season fellow veteran slugger Alex Rodriguez has had with the New York Yankees – got me to thinking about Major League Baseball’s “Steroid Era” once again (of course, with the high-profile suspension of Melky Cabrera this season and the Ryan Braun controversy last winter, perhaps that era continues).

Jose Canseco

Nice shirt Jose!

As we rapidly approach the voting period for the 2013 Hall of Fame induction ceremonies (something I wrote about last October), we’ve seen a lot happen to some of the standout names from that “Steroid Era” in recent months:

Go Giants! And go A’s too! I’d love to see another Bay Bridge World Series (without the earthquake this time!).

Fine Wining

It’s only fitting that the very first wine bottle to appear on this blog is a baseball-themed one. I’ll be opening this 2010 Duckhorn Wine Company Decoy Red Wine this weekend as the Giants launch another playoff run – their first post-season game since their 2010 World Series title starts Saturday with a Division Series game against the Cincinnati Reds and our old friend Dusty Baker.

In honor of the great memories of 2010, and as good luck for this post-season…I’ll be raising a glass (or two) of Duckhorn Decoy Red this weekend. Go Giants!

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“Step up to the plate” takes on a whole new meaning

There’s a fun event planned this month at West Sacramento’s Raley Field, home of the Pacific Coast League’s Sacramento RiverCats – and it has nothing to do with baseball.  September 18 has been dubbed “National Cheeseburger Day” by the National Beef Council, and it’s on that day that you can step up to the plate at Raley Field and help a great cause while you eat, drink, and be merry.

Cheeseburgers and craft beers will be on the menu at the Sacramento Burger Battle

Cheeseburgers and craft beers will be on the menu at the Sacramento Burger Battle

The first-ever Sacramento Burger Battle occurs that evening right on the ballfield, pitting 15 different local restaurants against each other in a burger tasting competition where attendees get to vote alongside expert and local celebrity judges (all while sipping drinks and also sampling some tasty desserts…what could be better?). The entire event is a fundraiser for a great cause:  combatting Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Continue reading