A new era begins

Columbus ClippersAs of this spring, the Columbus Clippers have ended their decades-long affiliation with the New York Yankees. Moving into the Yankees’ place as Columbus’ parent organization are the Washington Nationals.

This change should breathe a bit of life into the ballclub. The Yankees have moved all of their minor leaguers to their new affiliate in Scranton, so we’ll have an entirely new team – from managers to players – dressing in Clippers pinstripes this year.

The change also brings another benefit. The Clippers are no longer affiliated with an American-league team. The move to the DH-less National League will mean that we’ll finally be able to see pitchers swinging bats, the way baseball was meant to be played.

To generate some excitement in the city, and hopefully start off on a good foot with existing Clippers fans, the Nationals will be playing the Baltimore Orioles at Cooper Stadium tomorrow (March 29th):


True, the Columbus sports universe still centers around the Buckeyes and Blue Jackets, but the Clippers games are still one of the best family experiences in the city. Where else can you take your kids on a delightfully cool spring evening, relax with a delicious ten-cent hot dog and a hoppy beer, watch players in clean uniforms running on the bright green grass, while the buildings on the Columbus skyline turn orange from the setting Sun? Spring is here!

Columbus Clippers
Washington Nationals

Yankees to sever ties with the Clippers?

Columbus ClippersThe AP is reporting that the New York Yankees are planning to drop the Columbus Clippers as their farm team.

For the past several decades, most of the talent dressing in New York pinstripes came from the triple-A Clippers.

It’s interesting timing. The Clippers, once the biggest draw in the minor leagues, are building a brand new stadium in Columbus’s Arena district (near Nationwide Arena). Popularity with the triple-A club is sure to spike during and after the construction of the new $55 million stadium. This should make the search for a new MLB affiliate much easier.

Fan affiliation, however, will probably suffer. Columbus is in an odd place when it comes to MLB. It’s geographically right in between the Reds and the Indians, and the fans are split accordingly. Further complicating matters has been the rivalry between the Indians and the Yankees. Do we support the Ohio team, or do we support the Yankees because those players started on the farm team here in Columbus?

With this move, the latter issue will probably go away, and we’ll be back to splitting loyalties between the Reds and Indians. (Well, whatever little loyalty is left after Columbus’s required Buckeye obsession, that is.)

A day to remember

RedsRoseSeptember 11th, 1985. Pete Rose breaks Ty Cobb’s base hits record.

Back when baseball was still the national pasttime, and before he became a pariah, Rose spent a humid summer chasing the ghost of Cobb across the green fields of America.

If you grew up in Ohio, then you probably remember where you were when it happened. Some of you may even have Red Machine caps hidden in a dusty chest up in the attic.

It’s worth taking the time to revisit history.

Or, feel free to follow the sportsMonkey on a stroll down memory lane.

Cinci is hangin’ on…

RedsIn the background of all the craziness going on here in Ohio – the Rambo-esque incident with [HWSNBN], all the Browns’ preseason injuries, and the criminal behavior of some Bengals players – the Reds are quietly continuing their struggle for a NL wild card spot.

Ryan Freel diving catchRyan Freel is one exciting player to watch. I’ve found myself turning off the radio (where I usually keep tabs on the Reds games) and turning the TV to FoxSports, just to see what Freel will do next. Earlier this week, he made one of the best plays of the year against the Cards, going horizontal from a full run and doing a belly flop on the warning track to catch the ball. John Fay at the Cincinnati Enquirer said:

It is not hyperbole to say it was the greatest catch in the history of Great American [Ballpark]. The Reds won by six, but The Catch came at a time when the game could have gone either way.

You can see this awesome highlight here, and here is Freel’s highlight reel for the game. (Both vid clips in Windows Media format, credit & copyright MLB).

Freel’s a bit of an odd one, too… when asked about his famous catch, he told a MLB reporter:

“I thought it was pretty neat watching that play. ‘That was a good catch, Ryan,'” Freel said. “The midget in my head is named Farney. ‘Hey Farney, I don’t know if that was you that caught the ball, but it was pretty good if it was you.'”

What was that about Farney?

“He’s the little guy in my head who I talk to, and I talk to him,” Freel said. “Everyone thinks I talk to myself, so I tell them I’m talking to Farney.”

Um, alright.

The Reds dropped a tough game last night against the Phillies, but they are still at least a half-game ahead of anyone else in the wild card race. Groovy.

Image credit & copyright: Associated Press

Joe’s worthless baseball cards

If you’re like me, you’re a thirty-something sports fan who plays video games and at some point collected baseball cards. More to the point, if you’re really like me, you collected cards during the late eighties/early nineties. If that’s the case, than Joe’s Worthless Baseball Card Collection is for you. Just make sure you put down your Diet Coke because shooting Diet Coke out your nose hurts. Or so I’ve been told.

This is some funny stuff, but it’s even funnier if you have these cards in your collection, because you remember getting these cards and thinking the same sorts of things:

Pete Ladd
Pete Ladd made a living during the 1987 offseason as the stunt double for Weird Al Yankovic in the movie UHF.

Check them all out here: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, and Page 5.

Turning things around?

Indians logoCan the Indians turn things around? More importantly, is it too late?

This time last year, after the all-star break, the Indians turned on the jets and made a run at the Chicago White Sox deep into September. They ultimately fell short, but not by much. At the time, Cleveland was playing above .500 and Chicago had already torched everyone else and had a huge first place lead. The Indians went on to have the best record in baseball during the second half and gave the eventual World Champion White Sox a run for their money.

This year, things are different. It’s the Tigers out in front of the AL Central and the Indians, playing sub-.500 ball, are 16 games out and in fourth place. That’s a lot of ground to make up. Cleveland’s season thus far has been a disappointment, but if their performance past weekend is any indication, maybe they can turn things around. After beating up the Yankes 19-1, it seems their may be a glimmer of hope. They are 4-0 in July, won 6 of their last 8, and are actually hitting the ball. Pitching has been solid (minus the recent blown saves by Wickman) and everything finally has clicked. So could we have a repeat of last season?

It’s still too early to say, but the Indians would have to play lights-out the rest of the season and there would have to be major stumbles by the Tigers and White Sox to have any chance at all. We’ll sit back, hope and watch, as the Indians pull things together. I just hope it isn’t too late.

(Oh, and don’t forget to stop by MLB.com and vote for Travis Hafner for one of the last two All-Stars. The guy is 3rd in the AL in RBI, 4th in HR, 10th in batting average and this guy isn’t on the All-Star team?)

Indians moving in the right direction

IndiansWell, the Indians finally did something they haven’t managed to do in months… start a series with a victory.

So, the question is: Are the recent difficulties in Cleveland (losers of 11 of the past 16 games and seven consecutive series) due to simply playing in MLB’s toughest division? Or is it just bad baseball?

Wedge was selected as a coach for next month’s All Star game, so it’s clear what Ozzie Guillen’s opinion is. (Did I just write that?)

At any rate, if the Indians can win the series heading into the break, maybe it’ll provide some momentum for the summertime playoff push. After all, they’re only behind Detroit by about one or two dozen games. (Holy cow, did I just write that?)