Playoff Races & ’07 Schedules

The playoff races are really heating up.  Houston is trying to pull of the impossible.  They have gained 7 games in the last week.  It could be the worst collapse ever if St. Louis can not hold onto the central division.  I hope Houston gets in just so I have a better opportunity to get to a playoff game.

The Det/Minn race has gotten a bit more quiet of late.  Not because the division is set but more or less because the wild card race has gone south with the White Sox falling fast.  It looks as though the Tigers will play Oakland and the Yankees will play the Twins in the ALDS.  I have a ticket to game 1 of the ALDS in Detroit and I hope I get to make it.

The Dodgers/Padres race is going good as well.  It looks like it will be a 2 game lead for the Padres after tonight.  This is going to make the last week of the season very exciting which is what baseball needs.

The 2007 tentative schedules are slowly coming out for teams and I have begun to plan my trip for next year.  I have most of April down pending the release of a few more schedules.  I am really looking forward to it and plan on getting a RV either this weekend or next week so I can get it prepared.  Spring training is only a few months away and I am getting very excited.  You can check out my site at http://www.baseballjourneyman.com to see my tentative schedule.  As always any input is greatly appreciated.

Lastly I would like to congratulate Mr. Trevor Hoffman on setting the all-time saves record earlier this week.  I have never been a huge Padre fan but have always admired how Hoffman goes about his business.  I was also happy I got to see him save a game this year while taking a trip to Colorado.  Again Congratulations on a great achievment.

Till next time,
TBJM

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LLWS

Tonight we saw a game for the ages.  Two teams of kids battled it out and turned in great performances.  Despite the winner of the game, you have to appreciate the efforts these kids put forth today.  We saw some talented young kids on both teams from two different upbringings.  You saw a lot of respect and a great finish.  Its the love of the game that has carried these kids this far and you have to enjoy watching that.  The tears of joy and pain from winning and losing is something that you have to respect.  These kids put their heart into this season, this game.  This is what the game is all about.  Sometimes we forget that its just a kids game and we need to be reminded of that from time to time.  Its not about the salaries or ticket prices that we play the game but the love of the game.  It is sad that sometimes this gets lost in the commercialization of the game.  These kids and millions just like them all over the world play this game because the love it, not because they are in a contract year and want to make the big bucks.  I know my playing days are over but as long as I can see kids like this give it their all on the field and be able to shake the hands of the opposing team afterwards, I know this game will survive.  Its a great game and despite all the problems we have seen over the past few decades, we can’t kill it.

Here’s to both Champions that played today in the LLWS.
Cheers.
TBJM

Boston Masacre & Texas on a Roll

Boston/New York

I really was deflated this weekend watching the Sox colapse like a cheap lawn chair under the weight of so a sumo wrestler.  I have always rooted against the yankees but became a Sox fan after visiting Fenway a few years back.  The passion they have toward their team is something I admire and wish it was the same here in Dallas with the Rangers.  It was evident over the weekend that the Sox front office did not do enough over the trading period to make their team a title contender.  Its almost like they have the attitude that now that they have won a ring they can be mediocre for another 85 years.  I really hope that’s not the case and of course it will be hard to compete with the yankees as long as they are allowed to spend 200 million on players.  That however, is a different post for a different day.  Its a sad day in Red Sox Nation after a 5 game sweep.  It will definately be an uphill battle from here on out.  They have 4 left with the yankees but they have to make up some ground before then.

Rangers Rolling
After seeing Det come in and handle Texas with no problems to begin the season and then see Det go on and be the first team to 80 wins, I was not happy about us going to Det.  I was worried but was very happy to see how we played.  We came away with a series win against possibly the best team in baseball.  Not only did we win the series we got some good pitching performances.  Winning in different ways is very exciting.  From a 2-1 pitching duel to a 7-6 comeback win, its good to know you have that in you.  They are on a roll and we can only hope it continues.  The bad thing about it is as we are rolling against the cream of the crop, Oak is picking up wins against Seattle and KC.  I think we will need some help somewhere along the way but we have to keep grinding out the wins and let the other things take care of themselves.  We can only control what the Rangers do and if we take care of business I think come Oct we will be playing in the playoffs.  Its going to be an exciting 6 weeks though.  This is what baseball is all about.

Till next time,
TBJM

Padilla, Stairs, and More

I saw one of the stupidest things I have seen on a baseball diamond tonight.   I am sure it is getting a lot of coverage in blogs as well.  Vincente Padilla just lost his mind.  He obviously doesn’t care about the team aspect of baseball.  First Padillia hits Vlad Guerrero in the 3rd after pitching very well up until then.  Then in the 4th he brushes him back again and seemed to get mad after both teams were warned by home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt.  At this point of the at bat Padilla seems to be trying to over throw and Vlad is trying to crush one.  Well Vlad won and wound up hitting a high fastball into the right field seats putting the Angels up 6-3.  Two batters later Padilla hits Juan Rivera and gets ejected.  It was a blatant attempt to throw at him and Wendelstedt did what he should have and sent Padilla to the showers early.  So you may be asking yourself, why whould he do this in such a critical series?  Well if you can figure that out you be sure to clue everyone else in.  Padilla marches to his own beat and its not always a good beat.  I can just see the Phillies GM getting a chuckle out of this.  They traded Padilla for basically nothing and now we know why.  He is a headcase and we’ll never know what he was thinking because he talks to NOBODY.  There are ways to send a message and I am all for that since its part of the game but he went about it the wrong way and at a bad time.  The Rangers don’t exactly have great long relief and Padilla was coming off his best outing of the year.  So why tax the bullpen in this critical series with the Angels.  It was just plain stupid.  Was he folding under the pressure of the dog days of August and trying to catch Oakland?  The sad thing is I don’t think we will ever know.

Matt Stairs
This may be one of those under the radar pick ups that pays HUGE dividends over the remainder of the season.  Stairs ads the strong lefty that the Rangers were lacking with the struggles of Brad Wilkerson.  Tonight he showed that strength.  Stairs hit a line drive HR over the left center field wall tonight that was an absolute bullett.  I look forward to seeing him in the lineup more and more as the season winds down over the next month and a half.

Michael Young
Young is on pace to rack up over 200 hits again this year.  Day in day out he just keeps putting up numbers.  Who would have thought this young secondbaseman would take over for Arod and hit like he has hit.  Again he is over .300, showing some power, and driving in runs.  Throw in a batting title from last year and he has proven he is a star.  I hope he remains a Ranger for hte remainder of his career so we can see him continue to tear up AL pitching for years to come.

Trip Progress
I am in the process of looking at RVs right now.  I continue to work and save for the trip and have some basic planning done although nothing can really be done till the schedules are put out later on.  So far everything is on pace for a leave date of mid March, however I am thinking of starting in Feburary to get in more college baseball before spring training starts.  I am really looking forward to it and hope you check out my website for more info.

As always comments and/or questions are welcomed.
Let me hear from you Baseball Nation.
TBJM

Trip to Denver/Coors Field

Over the past weekend I took the trip up to Denver.  There were a few reasons the trip took place.  First of all, I recently moved from Denver to Dallas but most of my stuff was still in storage in Denver.  So I headed back up there to get the rest of my gear.  Secondly my friend who went with me needed a vacation.  So while we were moving we mixed in some site seeing and a ballgame.

Thursday
We left out early Thursday morning after Paul got off work.  The drive through Texas (left from Dallas) wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  It was the first time I had driven this way as I usually go up through Oklahoma and through Kansas.  We had planned on stopping for lunch in Amarillo to eat at the Big Texan.  If you are not familiar with it, it is the home of the free 72 oz. steak.  If you can eat it, its free.  We decided not to take them up on the challenge but had a very good steak for lunch.  I was curious how many people try it thinking maybe a handful a month.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Our waiter informed us it is tried almost daily.  If you do not finish the steak, it will cost you $72.  The one thing I forgot to ask was how many actually finish it.
So after filling up on some great Texas beef, we headed out for New Mexico and then finally Colorado.  The drive turned out to be a good one.  We ran into some bad weather as we crossed into New Mexico but it was short lived.

Friday
We arrived in Cripple Creek late Thursday night.  Cripple Creek is just west of Colorado Springs.  After a little gambling the night before we headed out to find Paul’s parents land.  The own a small piece of land in Cripple Creek Estates.  As we winded up the mountain to find the land we came across some great scenery. Not to mention the donkeys that roam around cripple creek freely (and I am not talking about their poker players).  Paul was really enjoying the scenery as we left Cripple Creek and headed up to Denver.  Our plans were to play some poker in Blackhawk Friday night and then catch a game Saturday.

Saturday
After having a good run at the poker table the night before, we headed out to load the Uhaul before the game.  This didn’t really take a long time since I had gotten rid of most of my stuff before putting it in storage. 
We headed to the 6pm game between teh Rockies and Padres.  I have been to Coors several times before when I lived in town.  Paul had never been there before and really enjoyed it.  We got to see a pitching matchup between Chris Young of the Padres and Jeff Francis of the Rockies.  It turned out to be more of a pitchers duel.  There were a few good plays.  Khalil Greene had another great game.  A slashing double in the right centerfield gap follwed later by a blast over the 415 sign in center put Greene as the player of the game.  There wasn’t a lot of offense with the Padres winning 4-2.  I was rooting for the Rockies but glad to see Greene have a good game.  I am a big fan of his along with Adrian Gonzalez.  But the most exciting thing was getting to see Trevor Hoffman close it out.  It was my first time seeing the Padres and I was glad I got to see Hoffman pitch.  The stadium itself is a place of beauty.  One of the nice things about the stadium is that as you move along the concourse you don’t lose site of the game.  Mix in a view of the rockies out over left field and you have a great ballpark.  The only complaint I had was the parking.  I had never had to park before since when I lived there you could take the light rail which drops you off a few blocks away.  The price to park want’ too bad at $8.  The walk however was horrendous.  We were almost out of site of the park where we parked due to showing up right around game time.  They did have shuttle busses running and we were able to catch one on the way to the game which saved a lot of walking.  After the game was a different story.  The line wating for what seemed like only 1 shuttle was awfull so we decided to walk.  This turned into what seemed like a 2 mile hike.  All in all the game was great.  The atmosphere was great and I look forward to going back again.

If you are ever in town, take in a game and enjoy the Rockies.
Till Next Time,
TJM

Hello From Texas

I have been reading a lot of the "Veggie Power Ballpark Tour" by Joe Conner and I have to say I am loving it.  If you have missed it, Joe is driving around the country in a car powered by vegetable oil.  He is going to well over 215 games in 215 days.  I have dreamed of taking a similar trip after reading "Stolen Season" by David Lamb.  Now after a lot of debating, I am planning my own trip.  I hope I can learn from those that have done it in the past 

Trip Plans (so far)
I know its a long time till I plan to leave but there is a lot of planning to be done in the meantime.  So far, barring disaster, my plans are to start off in Arizona for spring training next year.  Then I plan on moving around the country watching baseball at as many levels as I can.  Not only do I hope to see every MLB stadium but many of the minor leagues, colleges, and possibly even little league and high school levels as well.  So far I have my trip taking me up the west coast, through the midwest, down south, and finishing up along the east coast.  I am very excited since this will probably be the only oportunity to take this trip.  I have nothing holding me back and you only live once right. 
As I travel I hope to interview players, personnel, and fans.  I have set up a website to chronicle my travels and I hope to use that plus this blog to not only help me out with my trip but to raise money for charity as well.  My initial goal is to raise $10,000.  That may not sound like a lot but for 1 man who is FAR from a celebrity I hope its an attainable goal.  I am still looking for ideas for the trip and ideas for raising money for charity.  I hope to have enough money saved up to last me for the full 6 months.  Its going to be a long journey just planning and putting everything together and that is why I am starting now.  So far the reception has been great from friends and family.

In the meantime, I hope to report here with things I see watching the game this year.  From the local Rangers, to my personal favorite Braves.  It will be an exciting second half and I can’t wait.  So I hope you drop by once in awhile to see how things are going.  Say hello from time to time and let’s have a great season. 

I am excited about this blog and it brings to mind a line I have remembered and have many fond memories of.  From the late great Mark Holtz, "Hello win column."

Till next time,
TJM