Bryce Harper throws tantrum, injures face

Former Hagerstown Suns outfielder and high school dropout Bryce Harper had his worst game last night since coming up to the majors in the Washington Nationals’ 7-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds. After making an out in the seventh, he walked down the tunnel from the Nationals’ dugout and struck a wall with his bat. The bat bounced off the wall and struck him in the face, opening a gash the required ten stitches.

Harper was able to return to the game. He took one more at-bat, striking out in the ninth. Harper finished the evening going 0-5.

When Harper went down that tunnel with his bat in his hand, his team was winning the game 7-2.

Statistically, Harper is batting .233. Last night, he averaged two stitches for each out.

Bryce Harper is a spoiled, immature brat. He represents everything that is wrong with professional sports.  He cares only about himself. It was true when he was in Hagerstown and it’s true now that he’s in the majors. It will probably be true his entire life.

Ryan Braun’s 50-game suspension overturned

Ryan Braun FedEx
Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is a very lucky man. Last year he won the National League’s MVP award even though Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers had a better season. Last December, Major League Baseball announced Braun would be facing a 50-game suspension for testing positive for synthetic testosterone. Braun announced he was going to dispute the decision, but considering the fact that no baseball player has ever prevailed when challenging a failed drug test, his chances at getting the drug test thrown out seemed highly unlikely.

It was announced yesterday that Braun’s failed drug test was overturned by a three-person arbitration panel. The panel voted 2-1 to throw out the failed drug test, not because it was in error, but because of a chain-of-custody technicality.

Rules state that when a urine sample is collected, the collector is to take it immediately to FedEx for shipment to the MLB testing lab in Montreal. The collector, believing that FedEx was already closed, took the sample home and stored it in his refrigerator for two days. It was then shipped to the lab where it tested positive.

Even through the seal on the sample bottle was intact, two of the three arbitrators decided that because the sample wasn’t taken directly to FedEx as the rules require, the test was invalid.

Instead of sitting out the first fifty games of the season, Braun will be allowed to start the season with the rest of his teammates. Not because he’s innocent of using a performance enhancing drug, but because of a technicality.

Hagerstown Suns plan to move to Virginia

hagerstown-sunsLooks like the days of Hagerstown having a professional baseball team are numbered. The company that owns the Suns, Hagerstown Baseball LLC, has signed a letter of intent that it plans to move to Winchester, Virginia.

The Suns are a single-A minor league team for the Washington Nationals.

The Suns want a new stadium. I guess they’ve finally realized they will not get a new stadium until they leave Hagerstown.

Municipal Stadium, the 80-year old ballpark the Suns call home, is a dump. It has been for years. It was in bad shape when I first moved here in 1994 and it’s improved very little since. The outfield isn’t even level. A giant light pole fell down last year.

As a resident of Hagerstown, Memorial Stadium is embarrassing. Nobody should blame the Suns for leaving town. The only question should be why it took this long.

Ryan Braun tested positive for PED a month before being named NL MVP

It turns out when Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun won the National League MVP award, he did so as someone who knew he had failed a drug test. ESPN is reporting that Braun tested positive for a PED, synthetic testosterone, sometime in late October. He was named National League MVP on November 22.

The fact that MLB allowed Braun to even remain in the running for this prestigious award tells you everything you need to know about how serious they are about PEDs.

Braun is looking at a 50-game suspension as soon as the 2012 season begins. He’s planning on to dispute the test results. If he somehow prevails, he will be the first player to ever overturn a positive test result. Then again, he might have an advantage no other player has had: MLB commissioner Bud Selig used to own the Brewers.

I thought it was ridiculous when Braun won the National League MVP award over Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp. He lost out not only to a guy with inferior stats, Kemp lost to a guy who’s urine was hot for synthetic testosterone.

Sometimes baseball, like life, just is not fair.

Nationals Park leaves a lot to be desired

Sheri and I went down to Washington D.C. yesterday to see the Baltimore Orioles play the Washington Nationals. We wanted to go to a Nats game last year to check out the new ballpark, but just never got around to it.

I wasn’t impressed. It’s by far the worst ballpark I’ve very been to.

Granted, it’s better than the old RFK stadium, but not by much. The only real difference is that it doesn’t look like it’s about to fall down.

When they put the seats in, they really packed them in. There’s very little leg room at Nationals Stadium. Compounding the problem is the fact that each seat has not one, but two cup holders attached to the back. I couldn’t find a way to sit without one of these cup holders jammed into each knee.  Because of this lack of leg room, every time someone in your row needs to get up, everyone must stand up to let them pass. When people in the row in front of you do this, it’s impossible to see the game. It’s distracting no matter how many rows in front of you people are sitting. It’s like people are constantly doing the wave.

Also making it difficult to see the game are the vast amount of men selling food and drinks. They constantly walk up and down the steps shouting that they have $7.50 beer or $4.50 water. It’s nonstop and it’s very annoying. I was sitting at the end of the row so I constantly had someone near me yelling that they had overpriced food or drink to sell.

We rode the metro subway to the game and I’m glad we did. Parking near the ballpark was quite expensive. I saw a sign for $25 parking, but we walked past a dirt lot that was charging $40 to park. People were parking there, so I had to think the $25 lot was filled or close to being filled.

That’s a lot of money to park on dirt.

Outside the ballpark is really quite barren. I guess I’m spoiled with going to Orioles games at Camden Yards at Orioles Park. I didn’t see any shops, bars, or restaurants near this ballpark. It appears they built the stadium around a bunch of office buildings. There was nobody selling food or drinks outside the ballpark. If you want something to eat or drink, you have to buy it inside the stadium.

We bought two hot dogs, two orders of fries, and two bottles of water for $29. They didn’t even have paper trays or holders for the food. They also take the cap off the bottles of water before selling them to you. I normally put the cap back on my bottle when I’m not drinking it. I don’t know why they do this. I thought it might be so that you can’t throw a bottle of water onto the field, but Sheri read on the Nationals website that they allow each visitor to bring in one (1) bottle of water as long as it still has it’s factory seal.

I don’t think we’ll be going back the Nationals Park anytime soon.

Hagerstown’s Memorial Boulevard

I wrote a letter into my local newspaper last week, the Herald-Mail. The letter was published in today’s issue. The letter had to do with renaming a portion of a street here in Hagerstown in honor of Willie Mays, one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

He actually played his first professional baseball game here in Hagerstown.

The street that was to be renamed in his honor is where the baseball stadium is located. It actually has true historical baseball significance associated with it.

The street’s name was never changed. Some people were upset because they felt renaming  a portion of Memorial Boulevard to Willie Mays Way would be an insult to military veterans. Nobody is sure why Memorial Boulevard was named Memorial Boulevard in the first place.

It’s my opinion that Memorial Boulevard was not renamed Willie Mays Way simply because he’s black.

It’s not because Hagerstown especially loves military veterans.

If Memorial Boulevard was to honor veterans, where was the actual memorial? The street lacked a true memorial for decades. It took the threat of naming the street after a black man to get people to pay for a real memorial.

My Letter to the Herald-Mail

I’m responding to a letter you published written by Louise Dawson of Hagerstown. In her letter, she states that the reason Memorial Boulevard was not renamed Willie Mays Way was because people complained. The reason they complained she states was not because Willie Mays is black, but because “veterans did not want it changed.”

For the record, I’m a veteran of the U.S. military. I wanted Memorial Boulevard renamed Willie Mays Way. I thought it would be a fitting tribute to one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Not only a tribute to the player, but to the city where he played his first professional baseball game – it’s a fact that those of us who live in Hagerstown can be proud of. The street and the city actually has some historical baseball significance connected to it.

What I am not proud of is the way some of our city’s residents treated Willie Mays. It has been documented that Mays was subjected to racial slurs during the game. He also was not allowed to stay in the same Hagerstown hotel with the rest of his teammates. I, for one, am ashamed of the treatment Willie Mays received here. Renaming of the street in his honor would have been a positive first step in righting a past wrong committed by people of this city. It would have sent the message that the people of Hagerstown today do not agree with the way Mays was treated. Not only is Hagerstown known at the city that treated Willie Mays wrongly during his first professional baseball game because he was black, it’s now known as the city that more recently refused to rename a portion of a street to honor him.

It’s not as though a famous World War I epic battle took place on Memorial Boulevard. From what I can tell, few even know actually what war, battle, or group of warriors Memorial Boulevard is supposed to memorialize. That’s if it was even named Memorial Boulevard to honor anything at all. The fact that few city officials or residents even know why it was named Memorial Boulevard speaks volumes of its significance.

Blame military veterans for not honoring Willie Mays if you must. Just don’t blame this veteran.