FAREWELL TO THE BARD OF ORANGE PARK

The highlights that Sunday night on the WWL showed everything except what the home plate umpire described as the “most impressive thing I’ve seen all spring.” Justin Masterson looked sharp, Jonathan Papelbon struck out the side (amid two rocketing singles), and they even showed Junichi Tazawa getting in and out of james with four strikeouts in two innings.
Not even a quick cutaway of Daniel Bard, who merely dropped a small universe of 100 MPH heaters on three of the Tampa Bay Rays least equipped to handle them. And though it was Morgan Ensberg, Ray Sadler, and Elliott Johnson swinging through what they couldn’t catch up to, it was awe-inspiring, largely for the additional reason that the Red Sox youngster who struck out 107 men in 78 innings in the minors last year appeared to be generating his speed with a motion just slightly more involved than a guy long-tossing on the side.
I have not seen this in a long time. It harkens back to the days of Brien Taylor, the ill-fated Yankees’ prospect who regularly topped 100 with no more motion than you throwing something at a nearby trash can. Sunday night, the Red Sox managed to resist the temptation to keep such a weapon at the big league level; commendable restraint considering the early March effort against the lesser Rays was just the start – he ended the spring with 9-1/3 scoreless and twelve strikeouts.
If his long-term value isn’t readily apparent (and long-term could mean after the summer solstice), add in this factor: after that one inning, Tim Tschida, working the plate, said that obviously the speed was the most impressive thing he’d seen thus far this spring, but that would almost nobody else could tell was that Bard had been painting the corners with his lasers. Moving the damn thing around, inside high, inside low, outside low, outside high. 
I only managed to see eleven games in Florida and Arizona, and I witnessed not just the aforementioned triple play, and other adventures I will recount here before opening day (Craig Monroe? Four homers in five at bats?). But The Bard — and we better use the article — remained the most stunning sight.
POLITICS-FREE

Thanks to all for the comments and the welcomes and the flaming go-to-Hades. This blog is about baseball and not politics; I won’t touch the latter here unless it unavoidably pertains to something between the foul lines, so write all you want about left-versus-right – I hope you find it entertaining to yourself, I won’t be reading it. As elsewhere here, abuse won’t be tolerated and the fine folks at MLB.Com will ultimately decide if we have to start approving comments. Doesn’t matter to me; I come here under the banner of the greater good: Baseball.
TRIVIA
Love trivia. But only if it means something. Here’s one I didn’t know about until 96 hours ago. What happened to the lights from the Giants’ last New York home, the Polo Grounds? The hint is: they’re still in service, today, in this country.

29 Comments

Didn’t Wrigley Field get a good deal on those old Polo Grounds lights when they instated night baseball?
“I come here under the banner of the greater good: Baseball.”
‘Nuff said. Bring it on!
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

Bookmarked. Could you also cover baseball cards a little? I understand you have a passing interest in them. :-)

Keith – RE: Your first triple play observation/scoring experience related in your first post below, let me say I have seven more seasons worth of not seeing a triple play (excluding TV replays) than you do, being older, so I can share in your thrill. Even though my wife rolls her eyes in exasperation.
Cheers,

Don

Hey Keith,

I’m curious, with your schedule these days, how many fantasy baseball leagues do you participate in? I know you’ve been in leagues for years, I’d love to know your thoughts on the fantasy sports industry overall? Maybe you could share some of your fantasy sleepers for ’09?!

-Johnny Archive

Love the new blog, and I have no idea about the trivia question. I know there are some housing developments in that area now, but I doubt they would have any need for those lights at a housing development. Were they used at Giants Stadium over at the Meadowlands? Wild guess there.

I saw my one and only triple play back in 2000. And it was one of those special ones. Randy Velarde turned an unassisted triple play against his old mates on the Yankees. Wait…should MLB erase that record because of his involvement with steroids? Nah! ;)

The lights are enjoying the view at Phoenix Muni.

The lights are now showing the way on the Canton Viaduct?!?

It’s all right to rip on the Astros, though, right? I know it’s like shooting fish in a barrel, but it’s just so damn fun!

Glad to see you have a blog here – took you long enough.

Welcome to MLBlog. Love all your work. Maybe you might wanna update the picture.

Keith,

I am glad you are now part of the MLB network. I was at the Chicago baseball card show over the weekend and saw some of your favorite cards.

T-206′s, 1909-1911 American Caramel Joe Jackson, 1914 Crack Jack Christy Mathewson, etc.

What a fun sport to be involved with.

http://baseballintheattic.mlblogs.com/

Keith, great to see you back in Sports, I enjoy your political stuff but always appreciated the ESPN years too!

I would say that those lights are at the Giants spring training field.

The lights are still in use at Phoenix Muni (opened the same year the Polo Grounds was demolished).

Here’s the deal Keith. Loved you on Sports Center, but hate your politics. I hope you stick to your word and keep the politics out of your blog. I am willing to give you a chance and hope you don’t disappoint.

That being said, what are the chances the Pirates will have a winning season in the next decade?

Keith:

Great to have you blogging here. And folks, please, whether you like “Countdown” or not or Keith’s takes on politics or not, leave them out of here, OK? We’re all baseball fans here, and the other stuff belongs elsewhere.

I’m not convinced about the Dodgers. Manny can’t hit .400 all year, can he? Of course, I’m in Rockies’ country, so maybe I’m saying this wishfully. The Giants’ pitching certainly looks like it could be good. What about the NL West, Keith? And could the Padres lose 115 games?

OK dburrall, if the wingnuts calm down so will I. But when they’re spouting nonsense about KO on HIS blog it’s up to others(not him) to counter them.
———
S.D. certainly does seem to showing the white flag well in advance of opening day. Who knows, maybe the wild card will come back to the NL West as a result of the other teams in the division feasting on the worst team in the NL.
The keys to the Dodgers are the young hitters: Manny will do his thing but will they go to the next level. Will André Ethier continue to hit at the same level as August/September of last year? Will Matt Kemp cut down on his strikeouts and find a bit more power? Ditto on the power for James Loney. If 2 of those 3 have a positive answer to those questions, the Dodgers will be doing fine.

Also, Colorado appears to have shown the white flag regarding the trade of Matt Holiday, no ?

Any thoughts on the passing of George Kell? He was one of the great broadcasters in my humble opinion. I wasn’t quite old enough to see him play but I’m hearing him now in my mind with Al Kaline calling the ’84 World Series. The guy had a knack for stories only surpassed in Tigerville by Ernie Harwell. He seemed to know all the greats and had a story about most of them.

Trust me when I tell ALL of you, having been through a hate campaign waged against me (on FanNation…owned by Time Warner, the parent of CNN) where I was accused of being a “child molester” by a potential Presidential assassin…I’d like nothing BETTER than to stick to baseball here on MLBlogs.
And for the record, I was kicked OFF FanNation for outing the S.O.B. who made that accusation…kicked off by giving his REAL name (and e-mail addresses), after he had posted MY real name/address/phone # there.
What Olbermann does here is HIS business. Now if you (and Keith) will excuse me, I need to watch “MLB Tonight” and see the highlights of the Nats’ win over Atlanta…
Gary
Nasty Nats Live Here (and Everywhere)
http://go-nasty-nats.mlblogs.com
http://twitter.com/go_nasty_nats

charenton, I hope it doesn’t come to having mlb.com approve all the comments, but it might.
The Montforts were waving the white flag even 2 years ago, the pennant-winning season. I’m convinced that they aren’t committed to doing what it takes to having winning baseball consistently in Denver. What other explanation is there for Clint Hurdle continuing to be a major league manager and Bob Apodaca continuing to be a major league pitching coach? Jim Tracy can’t take over soon enough for me.
By the way, James Loney is one heck of a player.

Mr. Olbermann, thank you for the clarification about this blog being for baseball, not politics. I find it rather amusing that so many people here are drinking toasts to you with Haterade. Some of their best friends here at MLBlogs — people they ****-chat with on a daily basis — may have exactly the same political views as you, but those friends just haven’t mentioned their politics here because they’ve been too busy discussing baseball. Personally, I don’t give a rat’s tush about your political views…and I won’t comment on whether I agree or disagree with them…I’m simply looking forward to reading your thoughts and comments about baseball.
Shelley
http://diamonddiva.mlblogs.com/

Hmmm…c h i t – chat is censor-worthy here?

dburrall — I’d feel more confident about the Giants pitching staff if they could clone Lincecum about 4 more times — maybe a 5th for the bullpen. (I’m not convinced that Barry Zito’s got his groove back yet.) Or put the folks at 2K9 to work — love that commercial featuring Tim and the virtual Lincecum for MLB 2K9. (Randy Johnson: “He should put a towel on.”

Hey, Keith, my question is more personal: how do you manage to get so much done in a day? A day job (well, evening) AND following baseball as closely as you do? Are you one of those people who only sleeps three hours a day?

He lifts content directly from the wackos at DailyKos and talks about how much he hates Republicans for one hour a day. It can’t be that hard or time consuming. I mean, his only viewers are members of the bong water brigade – it doesn’t take much to impress them. After that, he pretends like he knows baseball. I’d say, after thinking about it, there’s no wonder he has enough time!

Sweet trivia, Keith, but I’m two wks ahead of ya on the Muni light poles – with a photo ;-)

Cheers

http://diamondhacks.blogspot.com/2009/03/fter-mondays-little-transportation.html

Welcome to the World-O-Blogs, Keith! I?ve got my Fantasy Baseball draft this weekend and I?m so freakin excited for the season to start already! Hey do most of you Fantasy Baseball guys do your drafts online or @ like a bar or something? Mine is @ a bar near my place this weekend. I ask because I saw this interesting contest they?re having @ CBSSports.com. Looks pretty cool?you can win a big trip to South Florida to host your Fantasy Baseball Draft. Here?s a link in case anyone?s interested: http://www.cbssports.com/contests/trivia/5637

How about the Oakland A’s bringing back Mark Maulder ..perhaps as Relief ? I have always wondered …why does the manager or catcher …call …the pitch ? The pitcher knows what he throws best …after a few seasons in the Majors …he should know what is best to throw…when.

I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog like this one these days..

I think this is one of the most vital info for me. And i am glad reading your article. But wanna remark on few general things, The site style is ideal, the articles is really nice : D. Good job, cheers

interessante sichtweise. nicht der übliche mist, wie ich finde.

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