First of all, I want to thank so many of our listeners for coming out to the KBOI Business Breakfast this morning. It was fun to share several stories about broadcasting and the team's I have covered with those of you in attendance. It was also great to meet so many Bronco fans who listen to the game. People in this community are so supportive of the team and have been so nice to me. So again I say thanks.
One of the things that baseball does better than other sports is comparing current players with former players through stats. No other sport can talk about what happened in 1913 and 2013. The other pro leagues aren't is old and the rules have changed a lot more than baseball.
One of the things that baseball does worse than other sports is promoting its new stars. The sport is based on individual play and MLB needs to market its players better - especially the new ones.
That being said I will bet many of you don't know the name, Matt Moore. He is a lefthanded pitcher with the Tampa Bay Rays. When I hear someone say this player has done something for the first time since Babe Ruth...I immediately take notice. Moore is in his second full season with the Rays and has been awesome this year. He went 11-11 last season with a 3.81 ERA. This year he is the youngest lefty since Babe Ruth open a season 8-0. Babe was a pitcher for the Red Sox in 1917 when he did it. He goes for 9-0 this week against the Yankees and their ace C.C. Sabathia.
While thinking about Moore's start, it brought to mind two other young lefties that not only had great rookie seasons but were promoted by baseball and generated big crowds whenever they pitched. In 1971, Vida Blue was in his first full season with the Oakland A's and won both the Cy Young Award and the MVP. He went 24-8 with a 1.82 ERA as a 21 yearold.
Ten years later in 1981, Fernando-mania hit LA. Fernando Valenzuela first year saw him go 13-7 with a 2.48 ERA and a Cy Young Award. The-20 yearold was the biggest pitching sensation since Mark "The Bird" Fidrych. Valenzuela led the Dodgers to the World Series and Blue led the A's to the playoffs. Both lefties were the starting pitcher in the All-Star Game.
Will either of these be accomplished by the 23-year old Moore? Only time will tell. A little more on the Rays lefty, he was drafted out of high school in the 8th round in 2007. Tampa Bay held the first pick that year, too, and took another lefthander in David Price. What a draft for them. A lot of other teams passed that year on Moore, who was from Moriarty, New Mexico. Only 9 of the 30 players taken in the first round have played 100 or games to date.
Major League Baseball needs to promote Moore's outing on either ESPN or Fox. There are a lot of great stars out there that no one knows. Matt Moore is one of them.
It was a bad week for baseball umpires. Two badly blown calls in two games last week. Calls that I don't see how were missed. These weren't out/safe, or ball/strike that an umpire has to make a snap judgment on. These were looking at an instant replay for as long as necessary and simply not knowing the rules.
Everyone I know that saw the replay of Oakland's Adam Rosales drive thought the ball was a home run. Both radio and tv crews said on their broadcasts before Angel Hernandez' ruling that the ball hit over the yellow home run line. When I mean both, I mean two Oakland broadcast teams and two Cleveland broadcast teams. If A's manager Bob Melvin and Tribe skipper Terry Francona had looked at it together and had to determine the call, I believe they both would have said HR. So I am not sure what Hernandez was looking at. I think baseball needs to do what hockey does and have the video replay looked at in the league office in New York and have them make the decision or have a replay ump upstairs look at things. This would speed play and take the people out the discussion that made the original call. You might even have the umpires union in favor of this if you put an extra umpire on every crew. It would add 15 jobs and allow an umpire to basically have a night off after taking the plate.
The second mistake occurred in Houston where Fieldin Culbreth and his crew didn't know a very important rule. A relief pitcher must come in and pitch to a batter when summoned from the bullpen. Astros rookie manager Bo Porter thought he could change pitchers again if the Angels sent up a different pinch hitter. I would have loved to have heard Mike Scioscia the Angels manager going out to them to argue when Porter went out to change pitchers after Scioscia sent up another hitter. What did Scioscia say and why didn't that prompt the umpires to agree with him and force the Astros to keep the original reliever? I for one was disappointed that the Angels came back and won. I would have loved to have seen what Bud Selig did with Scioscia's protest. Baseball said that while the home run call in the A's game was wrong it was a judgment call and couldn't be reversed. The Angels were protesting a rule interpretation. I think baseball would have had to do something.
There are a lot of crazy rules in the game of baseball....like if you foul off a bunt on a third strike you are out, or the infield fly rule, or when you are hit by pitch but made no effort to get out of the way a batter can be denied first base. Umpires are expected to know these rules. To me it was much more embarrassing to miss that than whether something was a home run or not. Culbreth's suspension was warranted. But what about the rest of his crew. When the umpires huddle does the one that made the call even listen to the other three? Do the other three even say anything? To me the biggest problem with baseball umpires is that it doesn't seem that the most important thing is to get the call right. It is about not showing up who has the call. If a crew would huddle and make the call right the original umpire might look foolish for a second, but no one would be complaining after the fact at all. Come on Selig players and coaches work to get better. How about the umpires too?
The Mountain West recently released the entire 2013 football schedule. In a conference that plays divisions and doesn't play everyone, who you play can play a role in who wins. Boise State arguably plays the toughest three teams from the West Division - San Diego State, Fresno State, and Nevada - and faces two of those on the road. Colorado State doesn't have to play either SDSU or FS. There is nothing you can do about it. It just bears watching. Back in 1998, Mississippi State made its only appearance in the SEC Championship game. That season the Bulldogs played Vanderbilt, Kentucky and South Carolina and missed Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee when all three were hot. MSU won the west going 3-0 in crossover games and then got beat by Tennessee in the championship.
So on paper, the Broncos will play the "tougher" teams from the West and will also play their "tougher" opponents on the road. BSU goes to Washington and BYU out of conference and travels to San Diego State and Fresno State.
It's also interesting to see who schedules what in non-conference games. Ten of the 12 Mountain West teams have opted to play a FCS school. Only Hawaii and New Mexico will not play a team from the old 1-AA. If you play at Hawaii, you are allowed to have a 13th game. Of the four conference teams to travel to the islands, only Colorado State will play the extra game. And with that, the Rams will join Air Force and UNLV with three non-conference home games. The rest of the conference will have two at home and two on the road.
There will be 11 games scheduled against Pac-12 opponents. Only three will be in Mountain West stadiums. Hawaii will host USC. San Diego State is at home to Oregon State and Arizona will travel to UNLV.
Navy and BYU find themselves as opponents to three Mountain West teams. Minnesota, Army, Colorado, USC, and Oregon State are also playing two MW teams.
Aside from Pac-12 matchups, the biggest marquee non-conference opponents are Notre Dame (AFA), Alabama (CSU), Florida State (Nevada), and Ohio State (SDSU). Only Air Force will be at home.
Boise State's non-conference formula appears to be play two at home and two on the road. Play BYU, two tough games, and one easy one. In the end, no matter who you play you have to win. If you can do that against better competition, you'll score better in the BCS standings. With what the Broncos have before them, a perfect or one loss season should put them in great position to play a January bowl game.
! went to the movie "42" over the weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it. Found out a lot about Jackie Robinson's career that I hadn't known before and wished it would have taken more of his life before signing with the Dodgers...as well as moving on past the first season when Roy Campanella and then Don Newcombe joined the team. Maybe there is a sequel in the offing.
I had read that many of the game scenes were shot at two ball parks - Engel Stadium in Chattanooga and Rickwood Field in Birmingham. Both parks are out of commision now. My first job out of college was as the "voice" of the Chattanooga Lookouts and the Birmingham Barons were in the Southern League too. I watched the film trying to spot two places I had called games and did, recognizing the grandstands from Chattanooga in a scene where Robinson and Rickey are talking about him playing in Brooklyn. I recognized the right field seats with a roof over them in a quick scene of one of Robinson's minor league games. All of the action from the old major league parks were shot in Chattanooga, but they used a green screen in the outfield and were able to computer generate in what the fences and skylines of the old major league stadiums looked like. Loved the baseball scenes with the old gloves, no batting helmets. They also got the old style of play down to a "T." They also did a terrific job copying the uniforms used in that 1947.
I only caught them in one missed fact. The movie claimed that Leo Durocher was suspended for a season by commissioner Happy Chandler for having an affair with a married actress Lorraine Day because of pressure from the Catholic Youth Organization. While the CYO did complain about that, the real reason Durocher was suspended for "his association with known gamblers."
A sign in the stadium for one of the spring training games in Florida that said "Colored" brought back a conversation I had in Chattanooga one night with a fan. There was an elderly black gentleman who sat in the same seat every night. One night as I was walking through the stands to get to the press box, I asked him if there was any significance to the seat he sat in every night. He told me that as a kid he used to come to Engel Stadium and had to sit in the “colored” section past the bases and that he always wanted to sit behind home plate. So when things changed that became his seat. As a 23 year old in 1986, it stunned me that the sections in the park were segregated. Engel Stadium was built in 1930 and in that time the stadium played host to all kinds of baseball, including the Chattanooga Choo-Choos, a team in the Negro Southern League that was a minor league team for the Negro Major League. The stadium wasn't in great shape in 1986...and in 2006 I returned with UMass to Chattanooga for the FCS Championship game and the stadium was full of weeds and looked like it was ready for the wrecking ball. But seeing it Saturday on the big screen it looked like it had been cleaned up some.
If you are a baseball fan you will enjoy "42" and will learn even more if you google some of the people and events portrayed. It was truly worth the $10 for me.
Saturday Bronco fans will have their only chance this spring to see the Boise State football team. We will be broadcasting the game on both KBOI and the Eagle. Pregame coverage begins at 3 pm on KBOI and at 4 on the Eagle. Kickoff is slated for 5 pm. Coach Pete is going to join Pete Cavender and I in the booth for the third quarter, so you might want to bring a portable radio if you are going.