MLB All-Star Game Voting Has Begun

Just 3 weeks into the regular season, polls are officially open for Major League Baseball’s All-Star game voting. You can vote early and often by clicking here to go directly to the ballot.

The 2016 All-Star Game takes place July 12th, at Petco Park in San Diego, CA, with some of the best craft beer selection you could ask for. Voting ends June 30th at 11:59 PM ET. Fans can vote up to 5 times in any 24-hour period.

This is what my first ballot looks like, considering the small sample size of work everyone has done so far.

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As of Sunday, April 24th at 1:00 PM CT…

  • Cubs OF Dexter Fowler leads the league in Wins Above Replacement (1.8 WAR) and is tied for the most doubles hit (9).
  • White Sox OF Adam Eaton leads the league in Defensive WAR (0.8) and runs saved (7) while batting .309.
  • Nationals 2B Daniel Murphy leads the league in Batting Average (.411) *with the required number of at-bats*
  • Nationals OF Bryce Harper and Rockies SS Trevor Story lead the league in Home Runs (8), while Harper leads all in Runs Batted In (22).
  • Astros 2B Jose Altuve leads the league in Stolen Bases (7).
  • Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo and Orioles 1B Chris Davis lead those in their respective leagues at their position in Home Runs (6).
  • Orioles 3B Manny Machado leads the league in Hits (27), Total Bases (53 and, On-Base Plus Slugging (1.225 OPS), while batting .397.

You can make your votes and see the stats lined up from each player from the MLB website here.

Let us know who you are voting for on Facebook or Twitter. 

Your Annual Reminder It’s Opening Day

While the weather forecast may have called for overcast skies (a day after disheartening April blizzards in Chicago), there’s still a ray of sunshine breaking through any and all mundane mediocrity clouding your life. For one day, every cliche and sports movie monologue feels as inviting as the guy selling programs when you walk through your favorite stadium’s gate.

Only a handful of teams are playing today, the Cardinals, Pirates, Blue Jays, Rays, Mets and Royals. The whole league will be in action tomorrow and the hometown love will pour over each respective ball club, but it’s amazing how we can all be just as excited today. Is it because everyone is tied for first place at this very moment? Do we forget that there are 161 games to go and anything can happen from now till October? Or is it because we just can’t help but “get romantic about baseball”?

The romance is real. It hits you when you first climb the steps from the concourse toward your seats at Wrigley Field, much like walking up a ramp to your aisle at Fenway Park when the sun starts to set. If you’re lucky enough to share that with someone, don’t take it for granted. As a White Sox fan, I lose myself in their brand new pregame montage every year, with moving music and memories. I forget I’m 28 years old and involuntary noises erupt from my windpipes as the fireworks signal it’s time to begin. There are micro-versions of these instances throughout the long regular season, but nothing compares to the first.

I could go into a long thing about hope for every team, only for someone (maybe myself) to shoot it all down with projections, sabermetrics, and the pessimistic cold hard reality check that not everyone is meant for the playoffs. However, baseball is weird…quite possibly the weirdest of the major sports. While numbers, trends, and track records are real and incredibly valid, you can’t predict injuries, suspensions, personal issues, trades or the litany of fortune-bending occurrences that are bound to happen over the next 6 months.

Also alluring is the mystery of what kind of greatness and individual accomplishments this new season will hold. Who will be the closest to batting .400? How long will someone go in their hitting-streak, and will the challenge Joe DiMaggio? Who will throw the next perfect game? Can anyone emulate the 1998 home run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire (and not be busted for steroids)? Where will longtime veterans finish on the all-time lists (Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols) and who can we get excited about to possibly surpass them someday (Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Kris Bryant)? Who will come out of nowhere?

Right now, more than any time the rest of regular season, you can comfortably be a fan. You can be excited. You can be optimistic. You can be a full grown…kid. For a few hours at a time, you can escape to a game you love and forget about the drama and stresses of life for a little bit. It’s Opening Day. Just have fun.

Share your experiences and thoughts with me this season on Facebook or Twitter

 

Ballpark Foodie: Texas Rangers Unveil ‘Wicked Pig’ and Then Some

Do you like pork?

Well you better…that is if you plan on trying one of the most Texas style things we’ve ever seen at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.

The Texas Rangers unveiled their new menu items for the 2016 season. Starting with the “Wicked Pig” sandwich…

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This behemoth of a sandwich boasts layers of pulled pork, thick cut Danish bacon, split Texas sausage, prosciutto, and sliced ham topped with coleslaw and pork rinds…covered with Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce. It will be served at the “Smokehouse 557” stand in section 49 for the price of $27.

Also available in Arlington will be the Chicken and Donut Skewer.

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It’s a 12-inch skewer consisting of fresh donut holes and fried chicken drizzled with buffalo honey sauce. The skewer is located at the “Flew the Coop” stand in section 50 for $12.

The new items don’t stop there. More items include:

  • The Flaming Hot Cheetos Dog – All beef hot dog, topped with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and nacho cheese, also infused with Flamin’ Hots.
  • Pub Pretzels with Beer Cheese – Self explanatory
  • Ballpark Vegan Menu – Southwest Black Bean Burger, Vegan Nachos and Hot Dogs, and Shake It Up salad. (Like the old McSalad Shaker)

I’ll be posting more of my findings during the season on here and social media, but don’t hesitate to share anything you try at a ballpark or stadium on Facebook and Twitter with #BallparkFoodie.

#TBT Year in Review: 1992

In the year that Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper was born…

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  • President George H.W. Bush threw up on the Japanese Prime Minister on live television.
  • The Cold War was formally declared over.
  • The Winter Olympics were held in Albertville, France. 
  • Bill Clinton was elected the 42nd President of the United States.
  • Atari was officially discontinued. 

And in the worlds of Movies, Music, and Sports…

Movies

Comedy

My Cousin Vinny, Encino Man, Sister Act, Home Alone 2, The Mighty Ducks, Honey I Blew Up the Kids, Beethoven, The Player, Singles, Captain Ron, Class Act, Mo’ Money, Revenge of the Nerds III, Boomerang, Toys, Housesitter, Mr. Baseball, White Men Can’t Jump, Ladybugs, The Muppet Christmas Carol AND…

Wayne’s World

Action/Thriller

Patriot Games, Basic Instinct, Under Siege, Alien 3, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Lethal Weapon 3, Raising Cain, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Batman Returns, Poison Ivy, Candy Man, Live Wire, Freejack, Rapid Fire, Bad Lieutenant, Passenger 57, AND…

Reservoir Dogs

Drama

Scent of a Woman, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Last of the Mohicans, A River Runs Through It, The Bodyguard, Juice, Lorenzo’s Oil, Far and Away, Malcolm X, The Crying Game, School Ties, Of Mice And Men, Stalin, Damage, Newsies, To Be The Best, Gladiator, Sinatra, Hoffa, Chaplin, Zebrahead, The Cutting Edge, Forever Young, AND…

A Few Good Men

The 65th Academy Awards

Best Actor

  • Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven
  • Stephen Rea, The Crying Game
  • Denzel Washington, Malcom X
  • Robert Downey Jr., Chaplin
  • Al Pacino, Scent of a Woman – Winner

Best Supporting Actor

  • Jaye Davidson, The Crying Game
  • Jack Nicholson, A Few Good Men
  • Al Pacino, Glengarry Glen Ross
  • David Paymer, Mr. Saturday Night
  • Gene Hackman, Unforgiven – Winner 

Best Actress

  • Catherine Deneuve, Indochine
  • Mary McDonnell, Passion Fish
  • Michelle Pfeiffer, Love Field
  • Susan Sarandon, Lorenzo’s Oil
  • Emma Thompson, Howards End – Winner

Best Supporting Actress

  • Vanessa Redgrave, Howards End
  • Miranda Richardson, Damage
  • Judy Davis, Husbands and Wives
  • Joan Plowright, Enchanted April
  • Marisa Tomei, My Cousin Vinny – Winner

Best Picture

  • The Crying Game
  • A Few Good Men
  • Howard’s End
  • Scent of a Woman
  • Unforgiven – Winner

Music

Rock Albums

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Hip Hop Albums

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Pop Albums

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Billboard Year-End Top 25 of 1992

1. “End of the Road” – Boyz II Men

2. “Baby Got Back” – Sir Mix-A-Lot

3. “Jump” – Kriss Kross

4. “Save the Best for Last” – Vanessa Williams

5. “Baby-Baby-Baby” – TLC

6. “Tears In Heaven” – Eric Clapton

7. “My Lovin (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” – En Vogue

8. “Under the Bridge” – Red Hot Chili Peppers

9. “All 4 Love” – Color Me Badd

10. “Just Another Day” – John Secada

11. “To Be With You” – Mr. Big

12. “I Love Your Smile” – Shanice

13. “I’m Too Sexy” – Right Said Fred

14. “Black or White” – Michael Jackson

15. “Achy Breaky Heart” – Billy Ray Cyrus

16. “I’ll Be There” – Mariah Carey

17. “November Rain” – Guns N’ Roses

18. “Life is a Highway” – Tom Cochrane

19. “Remember the Time” – Michael Jackson

20. “Finally” – CeCe Peniston

21. “This Used To Be My Playground” – Madonna

22. “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough” – Patty Smyth

23. “Can’t Let Go” – Mariah Carey

24. “Jump Around” – House of Pain

25. “Diamonds and Pearls” – Prince and the New Power Generation

Sports

Baseball

League Leaders

Batting

Average: Edgar Martinez (SEA) – .343

Hits: Kirby Puckett (MIN) – 210

Home Runs: Juan Gonzalez (TEX) – 43

RBI: Cecil Fielder (DET) – 124

OPS: Barry Bonds (PIT) – 1.080

Stolen Bases: Marquis Grissom (MON) – 78

Pitching

Wins: Kevin Brown (TEX) & Jack Morris (TOR) – 21

ERA: Bill Swift (SF) – 2.08

Strikeouts: David Cone (NYM & TOR) – 261

Complete Games: Jack McDowell (CHW) – 13

Shutouts: Roger Clemens (BOS), Tom Glavine (ATL) & David Cone – 5

Saves: Dennis Eckersley (OAK) – 51

MVP

AL – Dennis Eckersley (OAK)

NL – Barry Bonds (PIT)

CY Young

AL – Dennis Eckersley (OAK)

NL – Greg Maddux (CHC)

Rookie of the Year

AL – Pat Litasch (MIL)

NL – Eric Karros (LAD) 

World Series: Toronto Blue Jays over Atlanta Braves (4-2)

Basketball

NCAA

Final Four:

(1) Duke, (6) Michigan, (4) Cincinnati and (2) Indiana

National Championship:

(1) Duke over (6) Michigan 71-51

NBA

League Leaders:

Points Per Game: Michael Jordan (CHI) – 30.1

Rebounds Per Game: Dennis Rodman (DET) – 18.7

Assists Per Game: John Stockton (UTAH) – 13.7

All-NBA Team:

Clyde Drexler (POR)

Michael Jordan (CHI)

Karl Malone (UTAH)

Chris Mullin (GS)

Davis Robinson (SA)

MVP: Michael Jordan (CHI)

Rookie of the Year: Larry Johnson (CHA)

NBA Finals: Chicago Bulls over Portland Trailblazers (4-2)

Football

NCAA

Heisman Trophy

Charlie Ward (Florida State) & Gino Toretta (Miami)

National Champion

Alabama over Miami 34-13 in the Sugar Bowl 

NFL

League Leaders

Passing Yards: Dan Marino (MIA) – 4,116

Passing Touchdowns: Steve Young (SF) – 25

Passer Rating: Steve Young (SF) – 107.0

Rushing Yards: Emmitt Smith (DAL) – 1,713

Rushing Touchdowns: Emmitt Smith (DAL) – 18

Receiving Yards: Sterling Sharpe (GB) – 1,461

Receiving Touchdowns: Sterling Sharpe (GB) – 13

Receptions: Sterling Sharpe (GB) – 108

AP MVP: Steve Young (SF)

Super Bowl: Dallas Cowboys over Buffalo Bills 52-17

Hockey

League Leaders

Goals: Brett Hull (STL) – 70

Assists: Wayne Gretzky (LA) – 90

Points: Mario Lemieux (PIT) – 131

Hart Memorial Trophy: Mark Messier (NYR)

Stanley Cup: Pittsburgh over Chicago (4-0)

Did I miss anything? Let me know on Twitter @Mike_PiFF03.

Checkout past #TBT Years in Review 

2011

2006

1998

1989

1987

Mad Men of MLB

They premiered the same night…

The “Final Episodes” of Mad Men and the 2015 Major League baseball season.  Both gave us the feel of nostalgia, with some new little twists as well…

ESPN with their K-Zone and Roger with his Mustache.

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The both have served as our pastime. They have captured American history in their own ways. They have kept us at the edge of our seats with drama unlike any other. They are also both HEAVILY sponsored.

As we say “goodbye” to one and “hello” to the other, let’s compare further and identify the true “Mad Men” of MLB.

Pete Campbell / Bryce Harper, Nationals

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Pete Campbell and Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals ascended to stardom very quickly in their own way. Harper has an NL Rookie of the Year and a couple of All-Star games to his name while Pete has “Partner” as a title and Clearasil. While both are very successful, they’re also polarizing and even hated by fans. Although they may rub people the wrong way, you will rarely see them with their heads down due to a wealth of confidence…unless Pete’s in trouble.

Don Draper / Derek Jeter, Yankees

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Derek Jeter may be retired, but Don Draper began his farewell tour last year too. They were the faces of their organizations and legends of their craft. While Don and Jeter may not have been putting out their best work at times, they were still perennial all-stars. They also could field a pretty strong batting lineup with both of their dating histories. And they both could sell ANYTHING

Peggy Olson / Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

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Peggy Olson was Don’s protege and Troy Tulowitzki has taken the reigns as the best shortstop in the league post-Jeter. The time is now for both of them. Tulowitzki has been held back by injuries while Peggy was held back by sexism in her industry. And as they show off their talents, they have become hot commodities to other teams as well.

Roger Sterling / Tony La Russa

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I attended Tony La Russa’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony last summer, and listening to him talk about his days as both a player and a manager reminded me of the war stories Roger Sterling tells to his clients. Neither one can stay away from the game as Roger continues to sell whatever he can while La Russa just recently took a job as chief baseball officer for the Diamondbacks. Neither one minds a midday cocktail either.

Joan Harris / Jose Abreu, White Sox

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On the outside, Jose Abreu is a 6’2, 260 pound Cuban baseball Jedi and Joan is a redhead with curves like a Formula One track. These two have a lot more in common than you’d think…They both joined the majors late in their careers but made an instant impact when they got there. Joan spent years in the secretary ranks and jumped to partner while Abreu went from playing for the Cuban national team for years to MLB All-Star and unanimous AL Rookie of the Year. They also have the savviness and experience to adjust on the fly and last for a long time to come.

Ken Cosgrove / Billy Hamilton, Reds

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I think we all have our favorite characters from TV shows that are no more than supporting to the story, and won’t even appear in some episodes. Ken Cosgrove is exactly one of those characters for me because he is the “Mr. Hustle” for the Sterling Cooper agency. The same can be said about Billy Hamilton of Cincinnati, whose 56 stolen bases in his first full season ranked him 2nd in the majors. Hamilton’s OBP isn’t the best for a leadoff man (.290), neither is Cosgrove’s, but he makes the opponent pay when he gets his chances.

Betty Francis / Max Scherzer, Nationals

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I guess this could be said about many of Scott Boras’s clients, but Betty Francis (formerly Draper) is a money chaser. Max Scherzer was one of the last high priority free agents to sign this past winter because he was waiting on the 7 year, $210 million deal that Washington happened to have lying around. And he gets to count his cash like Scrooge McDuck when he isn’t pitching every 5th day in the league’s deepest rotation. So another name that we call Betty applies to Scherzer…Frontrunner. However, there’s a reason they got to where they are now…

Megan Draper / Mike Trout, Angels

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Out with the Betty, in with the new…Megan Draper, I mean. Megan was Don’s MVS (most valuable secretary), so much so that he put a ring on it. Megan also took advantage of the opportunity quickly, much like Mike Trout when he hit the big leagues. Both were under-appreciated at first, as Trout was working for an MVP nod and Megan continuously auditioned for TV roles. Both got what they wanted and both are California dreaming.

Stan Rizzo / Anthony Rizzo, Cubs

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Besides the obvious (last name), both actually have a lot in common. Both Stan and Anthony had rough starts to their careers. Anthony only hit .141 in his first Major League stint with the Padres, and Stan was a sexist jerk…Both have improved immensely and serve as glue guys for their respective teams. Stan grew a beard, found recreational drugs, became best buds with Peggy and is no longer a jerk. Anthony has become an All-Star and isn’t afraid to mix it up with opponents to defend his teammates. Yep, glue guys.

Agree? Disagree? Have some more Player/Character comparisons? Let me know on Twitter @Mike_PiFF03.