Archive for Spotted

Scouting Report: St. Paul Saints’ Jose Hernandez


Yesterday marked the home opener for the Saint Paul Saints, an independent team from the American Association of Professional Baseball. The Saints would end up losing in extra innings to New Jersey Jackals, but like most Saints games, the efforts on the field are less important to the majority of fans. Saints games harken back to the old days a little, with the team using tricks, gags, promotions, events, and anything else they can to get people to the ballpark (the ownership group involves Bill Veeck’s son, after all). Yes there’s a baseball game going on, but the atmosphere and reasonable prices are what draws fans.

I, due to proclivities that have haunted/assisted me throughout my life, usually give too much attention to the play on the field. I certainly enjoy the races and trivia and people getting dunked in cottage cheese  between the innings, but I pay more attention than most to what’s going on during the game. It’s because of this that I got to see Jose Hernandez.

Jose Hernandez was drafted in the late rounds of 2009 by the Pittsburgh Pirates, but has apparently fallen out of favor there and is now in the independent leagues. It may be because of the lowered level of competition, but Hernandez was the star for the Saints on Thursday. He went 2 for 4 (both doubles) with an RBI, and had two great defensive plays. Playing center field, he laid out for a very nice inning-ending, run-saving catch. In a later inning, he kept a runner at third from scoring on a sacrifice by throwing an absolute pea to home from shallow center. No bounce, almost no arc. Just a frozen rope. Moments like these stick out to me. The Saints and whoever their opponents are usually play sloppy baseball. The pitching can be OK, but there are lots of throwing errors, poor outfield defense, and a head-shaking amount of outs made on the bases. It’s kind of the fun of it, but it be comes tiresome after a while. This is why Hernandez’s play is a welcome site. He is a diamond in the rough, even if his diamond were somewhat cloudy to begin with.

Hernandez is also the owner of something I can’t say I’ve seen often, if ever. One of his doubles, the one in the bottom of the 7th inning, was a broken-bat double. This wasn’t a solid double where I could tell his bat had cracked. His bat exploded in two, the ball flared out to right-center, and a combination of outfield incompetence and Hernandez’s speed allowed him to take second. I feel as if my words do not do it justice. It was just fantastic.

And this is why I love independent baseball. I’m certainly aware that there are good and terrible plays to be found in MLB. But in the American Association, the bad happens so much more, that the good shines that much brighter. There aren’t a whole lot of success stories of players getting plucked from the AA to a major-league system, and Jose Hernandez certainly has a long shot. But I know I’ll be circling his name in my score card when I go to my next game. I usually pick a player of interest for every season, for reasons due to baseball or not, and Hernandez is in the front running for this totally worthless prize this year. Let’s hope he doesn’t disappoint.

Spotted: The Author, Almost Supporting Team Italy


In an attempt to associate himself with something that is both larger and more sexy than his own person, the author has decided he will support Team Italy, which plays at 3pm ET against Mexico, in the World Baseball Classic.

Understanding, however, that naked displays of nationalism are irksome — and also that he is less real Italian, and more of what comedian Mike Birbiglia would call an “Olive Garden Italian” — the author has decided to express his support in the form of a comedy t-shirt (one which, in fact, appears to be officially licensed by the Rocky movie franchise).

That his life is a constant apology for itself, the author is entirely aware.

Spotted: Chris Snelling, Seconds Before an Injury


Insofar as every image of Chris Snelling is an image of Chris Snelling just seconds before an injury, so is this image an image of Chris Snelling — who was just removed in the third inning of this evening’s WBC opener — seconds before an injury.

Spotted: Bryce Harper on the Author’s Internet Computer


The first game of MLB.TV’s spring broadcast schedule has begun. While Shaun Marcum and not, as the author previously suggested, Zack Wheeler is starting for the Mets, the game still features Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper and (I guess) Ruben Tejada, who just homered, somehow. Also, it really does appear as though Wheeler is due to pitch.

Congratulations to us, is the presiding sentiment so far as this information is concerned.

Spotted: Greg Minton Customized Van Driven By Enos Cabell

Today, while strolling to my morning massage, I happened upon this rolling through the dawn-Frenched streets of America, U.S.A. …

Van, bad-ass

I flagged down a taxi and followed it to the shopping center that features TG&Y and Otasco. Like you, I assumed Enos Cabell had merely slathered his poon schooner in Greg Minton Fatheads. Upon closer inspection, however, I discovered that each commissioned Greg Minton image was lovingly crafted by Olan Mills himself.

I studied the Greg Minton customized van for the duration of eight cigarettes — in the back, I could make out what appeared to be a velveteen sofa the color of an eggplant beaten with a liver — and then I noticed Enos Cabell sprinting toward me out of the TG&Y.

What happened next, I dare not say.

Spotted: Karim Garcia Homering Importantly


In yesterday’s latest-night edition of Spotted, we found — for reasons that weren’t entirely clear at the time — found Zack Segovia of Puerto Rican club Caguas intentionally walking former major-leaguer Karim Garcia, currently of Mexican club Yaquis de Obregón.

In tonight’s edition, we find a another grainy daguerreotype — in this case, not of Garcia being walked intentionally, but hitting a tie-breaking jonron in the top of the 14th inning of tonight’s/this morning’s Caribbean Series title game in Hermosillo.

“I, in fact, am Karim Garcia,” the Obregon DH appears to be suggesting, arms raised and rounding first base.

Spotted: Karim Garcia Getting Walked Intentionally


It’s not immediately clear to the author what set of circumstances might have led to the six intentional walks recorded by Karim Garcia during his 10-year major-league career. Whatever circumstances they were, however, they’ve been resolved since 2004 at the very latest — i.e. the last time Garcia appeared in a major-league game.

Yet, what this grainy daguerreotype reveals is, in fact, Karim Garcia receiving a base on balls in the most intentional of fashions — specifically, from Zack Segovia of Puerto Rican club Caguas in what, this very second, has become a bit of a runaway victory for Mexico’s Yaquis de Obregón (box).

Spotted: Baseball’s Least Googleable Name, Probably

Fenway Parks

Even at such a time as he’s drafted, ascends through the minors, and develops into the major leagues’ best ever player ever, it might still be the case that high-school prospect Fenway Parks is unable to find even one mention of himself on the internet via his Google Computer.

Credit to Kiley McDaniel for this important discovery.

Accursed Effigy: The Startling Conclusion!

Not so long ago, I told the harrowing tale of Mark Gubicza, mangled plastic corpse, and the dark malaise it flung over the moribund Kansas City Royals franchise. The twisted, insane smile of that armless crippled puppet still haunts me, as it haunts us all indirectly. Many a night I have spent in troubled, listless sleep, reliving the moment of my cowardice, my refusal to aid the dozens of remaining Royals fans.

Ultimately, I decided that I had no choice but to face my demons. In one hand I held a dented aluminum bat from the sporting goods section, and with the other stared through the preview pane of my phone camera to avoid making eye contact with the spirits of the damned.

Thus armed, I reached the back of the store to face my spiritual oppressor, only to discover among the plastic golden trophies something I never expected:

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Found: Accursed Effigy

While perusing society’s flotsam at my local thrift store, I stumbled on this rare archaeological find:


The figure you see before you (photographed at a distance, for I was loathe to touch it) is a lifeless homunculus crafted in the image of former Kansas City Royals pitcher Mark Gubicza. Note the characteristic markings and the telltale mullet that place the artifact in the Bob Boone Era (1994-1996 AD). But this was no mere toy, no pagan idol: nefarious deeds were done to this Gubicza. The talented, troublesome left arm is sheared just below the shoulder, the right ankle fractured where he once took a Paul Molitor line drive. The air around the resin was rank with ill omen.

What I had unwittingly stumbled upon, nestled inconspicuously among the little league trophies, was a horrific monkey’s paw: this token, in the hands of some vengeful man or woman, had brought about the downfall of a once proud franchise. Through some voodoo trick or some unholy pact, this villain obviously destroyed both Mark Gubicza and the Kansas City Royals in one cruel motion.  It can safely be assumed that only when the arm is returned, and the ankle repaired by some master craftsman, will the curse be lifted.

Did I embark on this quest? I did not. You may judge me a coward, dear readers, from your comfortable swivel chairs and your well-lit cubicles. You may judge me thus, but you cannot think me a fool. After taking this photograph, I fled from the thrift store in haste, drove home, and showered relentlessly.  I dare not bring down the Curse of Gubicza on my own house, dear readers. I have a family to think of.