So Jeff Samardzija Throws Pretty Hard

To understand how I feel about Jeff Samardzija, all you need to know about is one play. Does 20-17 say enough to you? In case it doesn’t, here’s a refresher. Anyway, it’s pretty incredible to see the guy go from balling on the football team at Notre Dame to pitching for the Cubs in only two years. As much as I couldn’t stand the guy, Samardzija was a darn good receiver for the Irish. It’s not too often that you see college-level D-I athletes playing more than one sport and playing well at it.

Anyway, after getting drafted in ’06 and going on to pitch in A-ball, Samardzija split his time between A and AA ball last year. This year, Samardzija got promoted from double-A to triple-A ball and even got called up after Kerry Wood went on the disabled list. I don’t know about you, but it pretty much blows my mind to see this guy pitching in the majors leagues so shortly after his college football career came to a close. This is a guy who could be in training camp right now and instead he’s already made the majors. Though he gave up a run to the Marlins in relief and blew the win for Ryan Dempster, the kid looked good humming between 97 and 99 mph. I don’t think he’ll be able to get by on speed alone at the majors (we already saw him get burned by Jorge Cantu), but I think it’s pretty amazing that he’s this talented at two sports. Makes you wonder, why wasn’t he playing quarterback instead of Quinn?

Peoria Chiefs Pitcher Julio Castillo Is Psycho, Arrested on Felony Assault

Rekindling the spirit of Jose Offerman, Julio Castillo did one of the worst things I’ve ever seen come happen in a sports brawl. As you might have seen on the highlight shows, the Dayton Dragons and Peoria Chiefs had a massive fight on Thursday night. I mean this fight was full of venom, with players acting with seriously malicious intent. Check out the video from a fan’s view:

That was easily one of the worst fights I’ve ever seen. There were a few hit batters involved and an infielder taken out by a baserunner that led to the brawl. And man, Julio Castillo, what the eff were you thinking? Roid-rage much? Castillo hurled a ball towards the Dayton dugout, it ricocheted into the crowd where it hit a fan who was taken to the hospital. Psycho Castillo was arrested, faces a felony assault charge, and probably won’t be pitching much longer in the minors. Heck, he could even have his visa stripped. As for the body count, 15 total players were suspended. Yikes. And may we never speak of this incident again.

The Duplicity of J.D. Drew: Is He Nancy Drew, or Drewwww?

**This is a special feature written by site contributor Alex Ubeda***

After the first half of the season last year, J.D. Drew was commonly known by Boston Red Sox fans as “Nancy Drew.” He earned the nickname once Boston fans witnessed for themselves what the Cardinals, Braves, and Dodgers fans already knew — Drew is fragile.

Before the Break, Drew had already missed games due to injuries and had a total of just six home runs while batting a low .258. During his 11 year career, Drew has been in and out of the D.L. with mainly wrist, knee, and hamstring injuries. When New York fans heard the Red Sox had signed Drew, they were so happy they started a pool in which participants could choose “When J.D. Drew will go down?” or “How long will J.D. Drew will be out?” The Red Sox took the initiative and added extra padding on the right field wall in front of the bullpen, mainly for his safety.

Drew was joining the team after signing a $70 million, five-year contract in the offseason and was taking over the spot in right for fan favorite Trot Nixon. Sox fans who were used to seeing Nixon run into the right field wall now saw J.D. Drew trying to avoid it. It also didn’t help that Drew started the season off slowly with his slump only worsening as the year went on. Drew pretty much would either ground out or pop-out, resulting in Boston fans booing him and chanting “NANCY DREW” as a jeer.

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How to Improve the MLB All-Star Game

Between the game Selig called in a tie a few years ago and Tuesday’s 15-inning debacle, MLB clearly hasn’t ironed everything out with the All-Star Game. Here are three simple solutions to fix the All-Star Game and still make it as fan friendly as possible while keeping it within the best interests of the players and teams.

1. Stop making it for home field advantage — I understand why they did this to try and pique interest and TV ratings, but honestly, the outcome of the All-Star game outcome shouldn’t determine something as important as home field advantage in the World Series. Best overall record should. I still think guys will perform as well as possible just because of each player’s competitive nature. Who doesn’t want to do well against the best players? A chance to shine amongst all the stars? That’s enough motivation to play hard.

2. Allow one re-entry per player — How annoying was it to see the starters go five innings for the most part, get pulled, and then get stuck with Dan Uggla at second base for 10 innings while Chase Utley was rotting away on the bench? Or how nice would it have been if Clint Hurdle could pinch hit with Albert Pujols for Miguel Tejada, or Francona to send Frankie Rodriguez back out to pitch the 10th. It’s an All-Star Game — don’t hamstring managers with a difficult predicament (getting everyone into the game while saving players in case it goes extras). Plus, this is way more fan friendly.

3. Move the All-Star Game to Wednesday and resume play on Friday — That would give all pitchers who threw on Sunday a few more days to rest so that the turnaround isn’t as harsh. Plus, it would give all players an extra day to enjoy their time off, be it at the All-Star game or at home with their family. And what’s the point of having games on Thursday anyway? Only a handful of teams play.

That’s all I got. If you can think of additional ways to improve the All-Star Game or if you disagree, feel free to add your comments. Otherwise, I think this would be a nice start to fine-tuning what’s already an enjoyable event.

Entering Josh Hamilton Over-saturation

Let me make this perfectly clear from the start: I am a Josh Hamilton fan and I’m a fan of what he’s accomplished. I’ve followed him from the day he was drafted all the way to his first year out of baseball. I read about him when he first told his story of destruction before he even made it back with the Reds. I think it’s one of the biggest individual turnarounds in sports to go from his low of being a complete drug addict loser to one of the top few hitters in the world and an MVP candidate. I don’t even know why I need to bother giving you all these details — you’ve already heard his story fifty bajilion times by now. And that’s my issue.

At some point you reach over-saturation with a story, and I’ve completely hit that point. I actually am starting to feel bad that Hamilton won’t ever be just an All-Star because his reputation consistently precedes him. His story will forever skew honors and awards as well as the public’s perception of him because they’re always going to want him to do better and receive more than most other players. I also understand why some of the players on the Reds may have grown to resent the guy last year because of all the attention he got. Much of it was created by Hamilton because of the incredible life he’s lived, but a lot of it now is the media taking the story and running with it Forrest Gump-style.

Now you might be thinking at this point: Hey, the guy belted 28 home runs in the derby and was a freaking star, of course we’re going to be talking about him. Very true. But I actually developed this feeling even before the derby began, just hearing the hoards of talking heads on ESPN gush over the guy. Steve Phillips: I’m picking Hamilton to win the derby because he’s such a great story! Ditto pretty much everyone else. At some point Hamilton’s story does not need to be told any longer because everyone will know about it. I know it’s the All-Star Game and the HR Derby and that maybe lends itself to a broader audience, but still, I’ve already hit that point. I feel bad for the guy now because he’s getting so much attention, he’s probably sick of himself. Like the great Frank Cushman said, maybe there’s too much Cush-Lash, Cush-Lash, Cush-Lash, Cush-Lash, Cush-Lash.

Reggie Jackson Crushes Both Jews and A-Rod in Only Two Minutes

Yeah, much like Will Brinson put it at Fanhouse, it only took Reggie Jackson two minutes to offend Jewish people, and take a jab at A-Rod. It started off with Reggie negotiating with an artist, asking the man if he was Jewish because he was working a tough negotiation. And that resulted in the following video taken by an NY Post cameraman:

I’m glad Reggie clarified that about his daughter because I was getting pretty interested for a second there. The artist apparently tried to cover up for Reggie saying he wasn’t anti-Semitic, but it’s just not a good idea to use a stereotype against any group at any time. Thing is, Don Imus did the exact same thing by stereotyping a group with his Pacman Jones, “What color is he? Well there you go” comment. Jackson’s not going to take that type of heat for his remark because there’s a double-standard depending on what group you offend. And come on Mr. October, what’s up with you ragging on A-Rod, too?

Chase Utley Tells New Yorkers **** You for Booing Him at Home Run Derby

Classic moment at the Home Run Derby introductions tonight. Chase Utley was the second player introduced by ESPN’s Chris Berman. I couldn’t really hear the crowd noise too clearly, but they must have been booing because it produced a pretty clear response from Utley:

Absolutely priceless. Maybe some guys would come across as jerks for that, but not Utley. Completely fits his persona.