Well we did it! MLB Radio is hiring me to do shows for the 2011 season. This is very exciting for a few reasons. First, I love interacting with people who love baseball. Second, I am able to do this job from anywhere in the country. More on that. Finally, I am excited about readers to drive the conversation. But how about I talk about the experience? Read the rest of this entry »
Sirius/XM MLB Radio Tuesday 8pm Eastern/5 Pacific
Welcome to the 2011 season! A lot has happened since last season. But first I have great news! I am getting a chance to tryout for a Radio Show on Sirius XM Radio.
Here is what is going down. I have a 2 day tryout starting on Tuesday night at 8 PM Eastern/ 5 Pacific. The host is Mike Farrin and we will be taking calls about all of the questions that you have about this coming season.
What I think is cool about this is that I am telling you that I am in an actual tryout. It is rare that anyone ever alerts you to this fact. Being the realist that I am, I love that you get a chance to see if I am good or bad. Most are afraid of feedback, but we have learned here that I encourage it. It is the only way for me to get better.
My request from you
Can you listen to the show and tell me what I am doing well or what I am messing up on? I understand that this is an unusual request in that most players don’t want to know your opinion at all, but I want to be on a show that actually speaks to your questions.
The show is on XM 175 and Sirius 210.
Over and out…….
What to look for in the last week of September
Don’t you think it is interesting that there are close races in baseball after playing 150 games? We have about 10 games or so to go and that gives us an opportunity to look inside to determine who will win and who will lose.
The following are a few places for us to look.
1. The team that advances will do so on a bunt.
Don’t kid yourself. MLB teams say they don’t like to bunt because statistics suggest that it isn’t as effective as other options. That may be true, but the team that wins in a sprint can put pressure on defenses. We are in a 10 game sprint. The reason why I love the bunt is because it provides the perfect storm of execution and pressure.
As a third baseman I know that my ability to read a bunt will determine how much pressure is placed on our own pitcher. If I make the play then our pitcher gets to concentrate on attacking the next batter. If I make an error in judgement then the pitcher now has his back against the wall. Some pitchers have a unique ability to rise to this challenge. I would say 98% don’t. Of course a fan may look up stats and say that 98% is way to high. But I am not looking at the failure or success rate of getting an out. I am looking at the pitcher’s heart.
Pitchers are the center of controversy when it comes to wins and losses. They are the ones who have to stand in front of the cameras and explain what happened. Pitcher’s know that and they fear that.
2. The team that wins this race will win with a relief pitcher.
One or more of these next 10 games will depend on a middle relievers ability to get a single out. I am not talking about a stopper, set up man, or closer. I am talking about a middle reliever who is used in a match-up or someone who has to come in the middle innings unexpectedly. I think of guys like Russ Springer and Trevor Miller when this comes to mind. In Houston we had Brad Lidge and Dan Wheeler. Those were easy choices. It was Trevor and Russ who had to come in the game when the win or loss was going to be decided. Their ability to rise to that challenge and have confidence under pressure is why we won games down the stretch.
3. The manager that tries and match-up pitchers and batters will lose.
The toughest part of a manager’s job is proving to his team that he understands what it takes to win with the current team. Most managers do not manage the game the same way down the stretch. Instead they all of a sudden start using different strategies that could be explained to the fans. This is all good for the fans, but it is inconsistent with the players. We can tell if a manager is putting us in the best position to win or covering his butt. As a rule of thumb, if you start seeing a manager match-up more than usual, then he is managing not to lose instead of managing to win.
In this last week I want you to watch the play on the field for these signs. What is amazing about baseball is that the fan who has never played a day in the Big Leagues can learn how to watch a game. Pay special attention to the player’s demeanor. Pay the most attention to what the manager looks like when the camera’s pan into the dugout. Your assignment is to find specific instances where a team wins or loses a game. Not in hind-sight! Notice the pace. Understand why a pitcher is effective. Watch to see if the batter is putting himself in positions to get a good pitch.
I will be watching the Padres and Giants the closest. My pick in the beginning of the year was San Fransisco. Why? The pitching staff was number 1. The manager was number 2. Bochy is the same no matter what happens on the field. Watch him. He already knows what he is going to do.
The second series I will watch is the Rays and Yankees. I said the Rays will win and I still believe that. Why? Because Joe Maddon puts that team in a position to win every single game. He is consistent and those guys never deviate from their brand of ball.
Now that you have your keys and assignment you can start watching the best baseball of the season! I am fired up. Lets see who has character and who folds!
Who is Going to Win?
In February of this year I got a chance to be on Baseball Tonight. They asked me to pick 3 teams who I thought had the best pitching staff’s. I chose, Tampa Bay, San Francisco, and St. Louis. But I went a step further. I told them that those teams also were my picks to win their divisions. We will see how if they come out on top.
Now it is your turn. You tell me who you choose and why. Not some long explanation. Just a sentence or two about the 3 teams you pick. Cool?
Although I did not see the play and don’t know the history involved here. There was clearly someone who was wrong.
From my view it appears that the Marlins took exception to Mr. Morgan’s collision at the plate with catcher Brett Hayes. What I can’t understand though is why the Marlins feel as though the play was uncalled for.
Catchers of all people should know that if they are anywhere near home plate then they become a target. Middle infielders get attacked all the time and they seem to do a good job of getting out-of-the-way. I believe that Mr. Hayes needs to make sure that he is not putting himself in a situation that can get him hurt. The reality is that if Mr. Hayes clear the plate, this wouldn’t happen.
If the Marlins believe that Mr. Hayes was completely correct with being close to the plate, then someone in the Marlins Baseball Operations Department needs to have a stern talking to. Fundamentals were lost on this play. Not a fundamental that deals with ability, but a fundamental that should be taught and reinforced so that this situation never shows up. But the Marlins took exception to Mr. Morgan’s play.
The Marlins decided to hit Mr. Morgan later in the game and Mr. Morgan trotted down to first base. From the information I have seen and been given, Mr. Morgan took that as retaliation for tackling the catcher and excepted his punishment regardless if it was warranted.
Mr. Morgan then stole 2 bases when the score was 14-3 in the 4th inning. From my understanding, the Marlins were holding him on and even if they weren’t, there is no problem in this situation for him to steal those bases. There are no rules about stealing when a team is down 11 runs in the 4th. The fact that the Marlins were holding him on proves that they to have no problem with him stealing. As a rule of thumb, if a team holds you on, you play.
As far as I’m concerned, the issue had been taken care of even though the Marlins didn’t have a real case to hit Mr. Morgan in the first place. If anyone should have been hit, it was the person who failed to teach catcher, Brett Hayes about the proper fundamentals and understanding of that play. If I was a Marlin I would have been yelling at someone about how baseball is taught in the organization.
The situation was not over in the eyes of the Marlins though. Mr. Volstad decided to throw another ball at Mr. Morgan. But there was no reason to do so. Not only that, Mr. Volstad threw a fastball at least a foot behind Mr. Morgan. This is a sign of a pitcher who has not been taught how to play the game properly and has now counter attacked Mr. Morgan after the situation should have been over.
Fundamental baseball retaliation says that you should never throw a ball behind a guy. The reason? Because that is cowardly. It shows a pitcher who is afraid to hit a batter and he is simply making a veiled attempt to protect his team. If I were manager of the Marlins, I would have called Volstad into my office and sternly yelled at him to HIT THE BATTER! YOU THINK PROTECTING YOUR TEAMMATES IS MISSING A GUY? Of course I also would have yelled at him and the rest of the team for throwing at Morgan in the first and second place.
Next, Mr. Morgan charged the mound only to see Volstad who threw his glove down and then didn’t put up his hands to protect himself. What is going on in the Marlins system? Do they not teach pitchers to put their fists up? As a result of the organization not teaching this, Volstad gets hit in the face because there was nothing to block Mr. Morgan’s fist from making contact.
The fight ensues and people are ejected.
As Mr. Morgan walks off the field, he decides to raise his hands up and interacts with the crowd. What are you doing? This is no time to celebrate! If I am the manager of the Nationals I would pull you into the office and yell at you for being a classless little kid. This isn’t some show! If you get into a fight then you fight and it is over. Don’t throw your hands up like some belligerent jerk. In that one-act you showed that this was not about baseball, it was about you. That is not team baseball and if it isn’t team baseball then it shouldn’t be tolerated. Grow up.
Finally, I have found that the most blame needs to go to Major League Baseball. Just like most in our society, the league thinks that the avoidance of pain is a better lesson then allowing pain. When did we decide to protect our kids from learning important lessons? This is a problem.
The league has forced the umpires to make immediate warnings even if they aren’t needed. The league believes that this will exhaust the problem, but it only frustrates the players and the forces the umpires to take heat when they are just doing what they are told from the league.
The other byproduct of not letting teams hit guys is that players no longer know when to hit a guy or why to hit a guy. In the Marlins situation, they started a “Snowball fight” because they didn’t teach their catcher how to protect himself. There is a clear way to hit a player and it has to do with a combination of a lot more than the guy you want to be at the plate.
If you want to hit a guy, there has to be 2 outs and your team is winning by more than 4 runs. The pitcher then throws a 4 seamed fastball and tries to hit the batters ribs. NOT THE HEAD AND NOT THE LEG. The head is dangerous and the leg is cowardly.
MLB needs to teach teams when to hit a guy if the teams don’t know how to. The answer is not to start warning everyone. There is too much pressure out there to add more frustration with a warning.
Stop trying to avoid pain.
I find the Florida Marlins guilty of doing so many things wrong that it is unavoidable. The organization is not teaching their players how to play the game correctly.
Mr. Morgan, although you were in the right to charge the mound, you failed as an honorable baseball player. This game is not about you. It is about winning baseball games. I am embarrassed that you think it is ok to interact with the crowd that way. You embarrassed all Major League Baseball players with your actions. It’s time to act like a man, handle your business, and keep your mouth shut. Play to win.
I am embarrassed today with what we have shown fans. Once again, due to an avoidance of pain, baseball has shown that they are acting like spoiled rich kids. We have an obligation to teach the game of baseball with honor. This is not honor. This is lack of leadership.
I sentence all parties to sit in front of a mirror with a dictionary. Your first punishment is to look up the words honor and character. You are then to face the mirror and say those definitions into the mirror so that you can talk to yourself. Sit there and think. Repeat the definitions if you have to but don’t get up until those words have been planted in your heart.
This court is adjourned. I am going for a run right now because I am so upset and embarrassed.
All Rise! Judge Ensberg Presiding!
Judge Mo: You may be seated. Florida Marlins, what seems to be the problem here?
Marlins: Your honor. On September 1, 2010, Mr. Morgan charged the mound and a bench clearing brawl ensued. We believe that this was uncalled for.
Judge: Ok. Mr. Morgan? Please tell me what happened.
Morgan: Judge Mo, it is really simple. In the previous game I hit their catcher on a play at the plate and he got hurt.
Judge: Were you out?
Judge: Could you have slid?
Judge: OK. Go on.
Morgan: The next game, I was hit on purpose and took my base.
Judge: Did you say anything or look at them in any way that would be considered aggressive?
Morgan: No your honor. They were paying me back because I hurt their catcher. I jogged down to 1st base.
Morgan: After that I stole second base and then third base.
Judge: What was the inning and score?
Morgan: It was the 4th inning and the score was 14-3.
Judge: Then what happened?
Morgan: Later on in the game I Volstad threw a ball behind me.
Judge: He threw the ball behind you? It wasn’t at you?
Morgan: No. The ball missed me by a foot. But I just dropped my bat and helmet and charged him.
Judge: Ok. So the ball was thrown behind you and you charged the mound. Did you hit Mr. Volstad?
Morgan: I did your honor. I hit him with a left right in the face. It was a good shot. Right after I connected, I was clothes lined and tackled by the Marlins team.
Judge: Alright. Marlins. Why did Mr. Volstad throw behind Mr. Morgan?
Marlins: Your honor. We feel like all of Mr. Morgan’s actions of hitting our catcher and then stealing bases led to another “beaning.”
Judge: Alright. I think I have an understanding of what went on. I will adjourn and ask the jury here at Morgan Ensberg’s Baseball IQ what they think. They have really helped me so it is their turn to chime in. Below is a poll. I will submit my summary when 100 people vote. Understood? Good.
Bailiff: All RISE!