13) Paolo Espino is 30 years old; he’s pitched in the minor leagues for 10 years— 291 games, 191 starts, 1,304 IP. Finally, this week he got the call to the major leagues and started for Milwaukee at Wrigley Field Friday.
Imagine the emotion he felt? How excited he must’ve been? His dad flew all the way from Panama to see the game. Luckily for him, the wind was whipping hard and it was blowing in, which makes Wrigley a supreme pitchers’ park.
12) Brandon Kintzner is the Twins’ closer; he’s 32 years old, from Palo Verde HS in Las Vegas and Dixie State in Utah. Back in 2009, he was offered a chance to try out for the role of Tim Hudson in Moneyball, but chose instead to play in an independent league all-star game.
Luckily for him, the Brewers spotted him at the All-Star Game, signed him to a minor league deal and he made it to Miller Park the next year. Now he is the Twins’ closer and a good one.
11) Jose Abreu hasn’t homered in 66 plate appearances at home this year; he’s hit seven in 95 PA’s on the road. That could be weather-related; Abreu’s bat has often heated up when the weather does. Hasn’t been too warm on the south side of Chicago this spring.
10) Quick story from my days coaching Little League:
I was an assistant coach; my future ex-wife’s nephew was on the team, which wasn’t a good team. I’m warming up our starting pitcher at practice one night; he throws strikes, but didn’t throw hard, but at least he throws strikes.
After three pitches, the kid says to me, “You know, I can pitch left-handed.” I’m thinking to myself, “Kid, you can barely pitch right-handed.” But our team wasn’t good, so I tell him to throw me a couple left-handed.
Well, what do you know; the kid threw much harder, and a heavy ball— he was good!!!! I’m like, what took you so long to tell us? Now I have to break the news to our head coach without him thinking I’m pranking him.
We didn’t have a good season, but the kid did real well pitching lefty (he also was a catcher and played righty as a catcher); he would’ve made the All-Star team except his dad got transferred out-of-state for work so the family moved as soon as school got out.
Just goes to show you; keep your ears open. You never know what you might hear.
9) Anaheim Ducks’ Corey Perry has three overtime goals in the NHL playoffs this spring, the first player to do that since Maurice Richard in 1951.
8) There have been 26 overtime games in the NHL playoffs this spring; the record is 28 (1993), they had 27 in 2013. Playoff hockey is way more fun to watch than the NBA playoffs.
7) When the Las Vegas Golden Knights have their expansion draft next month (yes, the NHL has a team in Las Vegas now), the Knights will select 30 players- they have to take at least one player from every team in the league.
6) Stayed up late Thursday night watching a replay of Super Bowl XIV, from January of 1980, Rams-Steelers. Long time ago, but I had never seen the replay of that game. Rams had won seven division titles in a row, but only made the Super Bowl in ’79 after they started the season 4-5 and survived a bunch of injuries.
Some observations from the broadcast:
— Football was way different in 1980; guys got hit out of bounds a few times- no flags.
— TV graphics were obviously way worse; no game clock on the screen until the last minute.
— CBS analyst Tom Brookshier wouldn’t have lasted two weeks in today’s politically correct world. He was funny as hell and told the truth, but people today don’t always want the truth.
— The whole world is so different now; there were over 100,000 people there, doubt any of them had phones in their pockets. How many people go to games now without a cellphone?
— Rams basically played that Super Bowl at home, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It was their last year at the Coliseum before they moved to Anaheim.
— Teams substituted so much less then than they do now, from play-to-play.
5) Miami Marlins hired former big league OF Todd Hollandworth as a TV analyst this year; he is very good, and for one reason— Marlins’ broadcasts are like listening to Hollandsworth and Rich Waltz sit around and talk about ball. They’re not announcing the game as much as they’re just talking about baseball and having a good time. Very relaxed; fun to listen to.
4) My personal opinion on the NBA Draft is this: If I ran an NBA franchise and could take Lonzo Ball, I wouldn’t let his father’s antics make me pick someone else.
That is assuming I thought Ball was the best player available and fitted what my team needed. UCLA had a terrific season this past year; the kid is a really good player. NBA players are well-versed in tuning out distractions.
3) Ryan Fitzpatrick signed as a free agent QB with the Buccaneers; if he throws a pass for Tampa Bay this season, he’ll be the sixth QB in NFL history to throw a pass for seven different teams, joining: Jeff Blake, Steve Bono, Chris Chandler, Gus Frerotte and Vinny Testaverde.
2) Je’rell Springer didn’t play HS basketball last winter due to eligibility issues after he changed schools in Las Vegas, but he got a scholarship from Southern Utah anyway, turning down BYU, an unusual choice. Springer is a great get for the Big Sky’s Thunderbirds.
1) Will Nerd Power catch on in Milwaukee? Eric Sogard (he wears glasses when he plays) came up to the Brewers this week and went 10-17 (.588) in his first six games with the Crew, with two 4-hit games. This is the same guy who hit .239 in 1,210 AB’s over six years in Oakland.
Sogard was once a 2nd round draft pick by the Padres out of Arizona State; terrific fielder. Wish he had hit like this for the A’s.
My condolences to Brewers’ TV analyst Bill Schroeder, whose mom passed away this week. I lost my dad two years ago last night; miss him every day.