February 2007

Online Chat

Transcript of Monday’s online chat:

Brian Anderson: Hey everyone, glad to be here with you … let’s get started.

cfjjr: Considering the changes that the Astros and Cardinals have made to their rotations, do you feel, like I do, that the Brewers have the best starting rotation of any team in the NL Central?

Anderson: I do — talented and deep. Pitching always reigns, so from what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard, I love the arms Ned Yost has at his disposal. So far, everyone is healthy as well.

dan1092: What is your prediction for the 2007 brewers?

Anderson: How about World Series champions?

chisoxenvy: What do you think will be the biggest difference working in the bigs vs. the Minors?

Anderson: Per diem! Game is the same, timing, rhythm, etc. Bigger crowds make it easier to feel the energy. Certainly more eyes on you!

Loomis: Brian, welcome to Wisconsin! What’s your thought on the third base situation? Is a Craig Counsell/Tony Graffanino platoon the best option or should Ryan Braun be given a chance to win the job?

Anderson: Both, for now. I’m all for youth getting a chance and Braun looks great. But it’s already a youthful infield and Counsell/Graffanino are proven commodities. Too early to tell, but the vets get early favor.

JJ7Hardy07: What do you think will come about with the left field situation?

Anderson: Geoff Jenkins.

JJ7Hardy07: Just wondering what position you played while in college?

Anderson: Catcher.

zzzmanwitz: What player not on the expected starting roster do you feel will have the greatest impact on the Brewers this season?

Anderson: How about Corey Koskie? Assuming he’s not ready to start by Opening Day. He’s going through a tough time, I’m rooting for him to return and be healthy.

ronbelliard10: Who did you idolize growing up? Who is your current favorite player and/or Brewer?

Anderson: ‘Donnie Ballgame’ [Don Mattingly]. No favorites. You gotta love ‘em all the same, right?

theacc1: What do you think will happen to Jenkins as far as his request to start?

Anderson: I think he’ll start but it’s way too early. As far as his request? I think it’s good that he expects to start. I think it’s good that everyone expects to start. That’s why they call Ned’s job "manager." He’ll manage on and off the field.

wrmnyc: Do you anticipate that the outfield will surprise the fans with some good production?

Anderson: Oh yeah, Bill Hall can flat out swing it. Jenkins has been an All-Star and I saw Corey Hart hit one on top of the grass berm today during the intrasquad game. Plus, competition factor. Big at-bats for all of those guys.

badgerabh3: Glad to see you with the Brew Crew following your dreams. Now that the Buckethead Brigade was officially cancelled, are you and Bill Schroeder planning on having another section like it this year? It was a great time.

Anderson: I heard about the BB, sorry about that. Nothing attached to the announcers will start up. It’s not about us, it’s about you. And, I can report there is another widget in the works as we speak … at least after this post!

bhall52: What do you think about our bullpen situation?

Anderson: Love the ‘pen … power arms! For balance, Brian Shouse might as well be two pitchers in one.

madisonian: Welcome to the Brewers. We’re sure you’ll love Wisconsin as much as the rest of us do in no time. What’s the buzz about you and Bill doing more games than in the past?

Anderson: Yep, 125 on FSN North, and 15 on WMLW TV 41, plus webcasts. It’s a good thing.

regent89: What is your philosophy on looking at the TV monitor while doing play-by-play?

Anderson: Look at the monitor between pitches. Don’t take your eye off the ball when it’s in play.

CrasMack: What has the team done in the offseason to fix the bullpen that has blown so many late leads in the past two seasons?

Anderson: Trust: Francisco Cordero for a full season, Derrick Turnbow returns, Jose Capellan more experience.

regent89: I know you are a music fan, has anyone filled you in on what Summerfest is all about?

Anderson: Oh, believe it, but the Crew is on the road so I’ll be looking for updates. Anxious to see the rundown for Summerfest.

bhall52: Do you think Turnbow will get turned around this year, and how does he look so far?

Anderson: Yes and good. It’s Spring Training, everyone looks good so far.

CrasMack: A young group of infielders resulted in a lot of errors last year. How improved will they be this season?

Anderson: I think much improved. Experience means a lot and the return of J.J. Hardy will make a difference. I think Hall will be excellent in center field and Jenkins might be the best defensive left fielder in the National League. So defense will be much improved.

gumbyr: Will there be a webcast for all or most Spring Training games?

Anderson: Yes, indeed. Webcasts start up Thursday, 2 p.m. CT from Maryvale Baseball Park. We’ll be taking e-mail’s as well during the game. Send to broadcast@brewers.com.

comeonbrewcrew: As a long-time Brewers fan I’m very excited about the prospects for this year’s team. Who do you think will step up and possibly even overachieve on this year’s team? My guesses are Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart.

Anderson: Good call on both!

Loomis: Have you had a chance to work much will Bill Schroeder yet? What are your impressions of him as a color analyst?

Anderson: Not yet, other than the fake game we did during the audition. We hit it off right away and I’m going to enjoy working with him. We’ve talked quite often over the last two months and he’s been outstanding. He certainly knows his stuff.

madisonian: We have veteran catchers this year. How important do you think they will be to team morale and chemistry?

Anderson: Ah, you know it all starts with the "tools of brilliance!" Winning builds morale!

bradhasbrouck: I’ve predicted that the Twins and Brewers will meet in the World Series. But do you think that’ll happen?

Anderson: I’ve got the Crew in six.

Dustin: Are you a people’s broadcaster or a player’s broadcaster, meaning do you relate more to the fans’ perspective or the players’?

Anderson: Great question! A little of both. Most players are (or were) fans, too. I hope to earn respect from both camps. In my experience, as long as your fair and informed, then available, all should be well.

regent89: I’m looking so forward to spring and baseball! How are you feeling on your MLB debut? Excited? Nervous?

Anderson: A great time of year! I can’t wait to get started. I’ve been working for this gig my entire life. I’ve got some butterflies but they are the good kind and I feel like I’m ready.

Anderson: Thanks everyone, time to wrap up. Check out the webcasts beginning Thursday, 2 p.m. CT at brewers.com.

Maryvale Wail

Many feel the best thing about Spring Training is the abundance of "hope" shared by every team and it’s fans.  An "inside-out" appeal which springs the feelings that this "could be our year."

For me, though, the best thing about baseball this time of year is more about the sensory appeal.  An "outside-in" reaction to the sights, smells, and sounds of the greatest game on earth.

The sights:
The grass is greener here than anywhere else it seems.  The fields are perfectly manicured.  The edges are sharp and the dirt looks firm but soft at the same time.  The uniforms are rich with color and contrast…and not a whiter white exists, than the white on a Major League uniform.

The smells:
Fresh cut grass, warm desert air, and the "from the wrapper" smell of new equipment are the easy ones to pick out. They are all distinct, but they are not unique to baseball.  Nope, there is only one "bouquet" that is specific to the grand ‘ol game.  It’s the difference maker for me.  Pine tar.  It is slowly being replaced by tar "sticks" but the pine tar rag can still be spotted in on deck circle’s everywhere.  If you know it, you can probably smell it right now.  If you don’t, not to worry.  You’ve experienced it if you’ve ever been to a ballgame.

The sounds:
The hum of a lawnmower, which means "growing" grass which means winter is almost over.  The pops of the gloves, the cracks of the bats in the cages, and the clicks of spikes on the concrete as the players walk from the clubhouse to field.   

Those are the "pleasant" sights, smells, and sounds of spring.

The "unpleasant" also exists!

Like the sound of Ned Yost’s air horn.  Used to signal a station switch in the workout schedule.  Necessary, but annoying.  As you get lost in the bliss of the sun and the chirping birds, nothing slaps you back to form like the WAIL of the Skipper’s air horn.  Especially for me…because I’ve been televising golf the last four years.  In golf, an air horn means bad weather and a suspension of play…which means I have to go to my "fill" material…which also means the tournament might not end on time…which means I’m going to miss my flight home.  I’m going to suggest a whistle, or cowbell, or a rain stick…in a few years.

Also on the "un" list: The smell of the clubhouse…post workout…post lunch.  Time to call it a day at that point.

And finally, the unpleasant sight of a grown man reaching into a blazing fire at the Greasewood Flats, pulling out Aleta Mercer’s discarded, half-eaten bacon-cheeseburger, and making it his own.  Attaboy…enjoy!

So you see, there’s a little Yin and a little Yang here in A-Z…or is it a little Yin and a little Spring Yang-ing.  Either way…all is well…in Maryvale.

BA

Here’s a tune you might like: Click here.

Please feel free to send your thoughts/questions by clicking the "comments" icon below.

Entry Exam

With the Arizona sun shining brightly and nosebleeds springing up all over in the warm desert air, pitchers and catchers are filing in Maryvale Baseball Park with plenty of hope, anticipation and per diem.  So here is a little pre-Cactus League quiz to get your brain back in baseball mode.  Ten random nuggets to see how close you are to "game ready."  Good luck.  Answers below, don’t peak!

1) For you autograph hounds: On a team-signed baseball, where should you find the manager’s signature?

2) A batter’s line drive hits a baserunner in fair territory leading off first.  Who’s out?  Who stays?

3) Which base is known as the "keystone?"

4) Speaking of the keystone…how do middle infielders communicate with each other about who is to cover second on a stolen base attempt?

5) How many ways can a batter reach 1st base?

6) What is the best pitch in baseball?

7) If two bats are the exact same length and the exact same weight, how can you make one lighter to swing?

8) A line drive hits the pitching rubber, ricochets away, rolling between home and first into the dugout…what’s the ruling?

9) If the next batter up is "on deck," what do you call the third batter due up?

10) Finally, what is the most important stat in baseball?

How’d you do?  Thanks for playing! 

BA

Answers:_______________________________

1) The Manager’s signature should be between the parallel laces, a.k.a. "The Sweet Spot"  Players will always leave this spot blank for the manager on an autographed team ball.  If it’s not that way, it’s a fake.

2) The baserunner is out.  The batter is credited with a single.  In this example, the first baseman (closest defender) get’s the unassisted putout (3-U).

3) Second base.  Shortstop Hardy and second baseman Weeks are known as the "keystone combination."  It’s an old-timey thing…but I still like it.

4) By signaling with the mouth.  Usually the glove hides the signal.  The two middle infielders look at each other before the pitch, one signals with an open mouth (meaning "you"), the other with closed lips (meaning "me").  If both players cover the bag, then it’s time for some "mouth" wash!

5) Seven: via hit, walk, hit-by-pitch, error, catcher’s interference, fielder’s choice, and passed ball/wild pitch following a swinging strike three.

6) Strike one!  The stats don’t lie, the percentages of outs swing heavily in favor of the pitcher after strike one.

7) By "cupping" out the barrel.  This is done by the bat manufacturer, carving out the end making it concave instead of convex (don’t worry, it’s legal).  During a swing, weight is distributed to the end of the bat.  By removing some mass (making in concave) it swings lighter than a convex-shaped bat end.  And, you can stand it up in the on deck circle.

8) Foul ball. If it does not cross over a base, it’s foul no matter how it ends up there as long as it is not touched by a player in fair territory.  The pitching rubber is considered part of the field.

9) "In the hold."  Yes, HOLD, with a "D."  Commonly accepted as "the hole" but the origins of the moniker have a nautical theme.  On a ship, you "swab the deck."  The supplies go "down in the hold."  So the batter following the "on deck" hitter, is "down in the hold."

10) Win/Loss!!! Other stats help write the story, but ultimately, they all lead to the win/loss total.  Was that total good enough for a championship? 

A Love Story

Anybody know a good florist?  This week, I’ll be celebrating both Valentine’s Day AND my 13th wedding anniversary by heading to Maryvale, Arizona, for six weeks of Spring Training!   Don’t worry, I’m only slightly in the doghouse.  After all, it was my wife, Michele, who pushed the final chip to the middle when this Brewers job was on the table. 

I’d love to tell you she did it because of her passion for baseball.  But, no, Milwaukee was a "go" with my wife because she loves the schools, the seasons, and the people.  Truth is, my bride doesn’t know much about sports at all.  She’s an educator, a bookworm and a great equalizer in this fanatical, sports crazed country.  She has met some of the most famous people in the sports world, completely oblivious and unimpressed with career accomplishments or public standing.  It cracks me up when she’s says things like, "That guy, Doug (Melvin), seems nice…what’s he do?"  She likes Mike Maddux because he knows a lot about the public school system and the real estate market in the Milwaukee area, even though she’s still not sure what position he plays.  Nope, talk of Bill Hall or Jeff Suppan will be returned with a blank stare, followed by a properly placed "and…" 

Don’t get me wrong, my wife loves the fact that I’m following my dream.  She’s on board 100%.  She even likes going to games and being at the ballpark.  She’s just not impressed.  She can sniff out a person’s character like a bloodhound…and credentials don’t mean much.  Which is exactly why I love her so.   

An example: Early in my TV career, I worked in production for Monday Night Football.  As a favor, my boss offered Michele, then my fiance, a chance to work on the crew as a runner for the Stage Manager.  The Stage Manager is the person who manages the booth, making sure the announcers are where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there.  In 1994, the MNF announcers were Frank, Al and Dan…and sharing the booth with these legendary broadcasters…my sweet lady.  Just hours before kickoff, Michele’s first (and last) "order" was to retrieve Al Michaels from the make-up room and deliver him to the booth for pre game voice overs.  So with a teacher’s sense of duty and organization, Michele strolled down the hallway with confidence and purpose…spotted her target…then delivered the message exactly as it had been given to her: "Al…they are ready for you in the booth, come with me!"  To which the confused man in the chair responded: "Young lady, my name…is Frank."   Unfazed, she replied, "Sorry, Frank…which one’s Al?"  Al chimes in, "I’m right here."  Then, having solved the riddle, Michele commanded, "Well OK…A-L!  They are ready for you in the booth.  Come with me!"  Like a kindergartner being delivered to the bus line, the great Al Michaels made it to his voice over on time and in tact!

So with that love story, I’d like to wish my beautiful wife a Happy Valentine’s Day and a Happy Anniversary!  Thirteen wonderful years and the fun is just beginning.  I can’t wait to find out which sports legend will be next to eat some of her homemade humble pie!

Honey, you’re a great wife, a great mom, and a great teacher…see you in six weeks!

______________________________

Here’s an appropriate number from one of my favorite female artist’s: (click here)  You can check her out "live" in Milwaukee, May 5th at The Riverside.

BA

Please feel free to send your thoughts/questions by clicking the "comments" icon below.

Guest Blogger: (hill)Bill-E

Guest Blogger time here in the "House of Blogs."  The entry below comes from a hillbilly friend of mine from Texas.  Here is Mr. "Redneck," Mr. "Too many disorders to count," Mr."Here’s your sign" himself…Bill Engvall

Check out Bill in action: click here

Hey Brewer fans…Well the Super Bowl is over, finally.  Don’t get me wrong I am a sports fan but no sport is better than baseball.  There is something about going to a day game with your friends or in my case my wife.  That’s right baseball fans I was lucky enough to marry a woman that LOVES baseball.  So I am looking forward to sitting in the sun with my wife in her jersey and shorts,(which by the way, there is nothing sexier than a woman wearing a baseball jersey.) We sit here and discuss players, whose over paid, whose underpaid, and whose playing in spite of themselves.  Somehow a beer taste better at a ballpark and a hot dog with everything on it. 

Last year the big topic of discussion was how they get the grass cut in different shades of green to create those stripes.  I don’t know if Brian will let me continue this all season but I will give you my perspective on the game as I see it. So here are my criteria for baseball.  It should be played on real grass, not fake, no names on jerseys, if your a fan…you should know the players, and all replays should be played on the big screen no matter the out come.  Finally, if I see one more ad for a television show on the big board I am going to scream.  It’s Baseball not a Nielsen box.  Okay, well there are Bill Engvall’s criteria for a game.  See you at spring training.

I would also like to congratulate Brian on becoming a member of "brewer nation" I myself am an Angel fan. So to make things interesting Brian and I have a little wager (no money because I am still trying to get in to the Hall of Fame for throwing the slowest fast ball in fantasy camp history. I will get to that story on a later date.)  The wager would be to see who has the best record at the All Star break and then at the end of the season.  The loser has to post a video on the "House of Blogs" (not that either one of us could figure out how to do that) wearing the oppositions jersey and talk about how smart the winner is and has to claim that the winner knows more about baseball than the other guy. Best of luck to you Brian, you are going down.
-Engvall

Check out Bill’s My Space site: click here.

And, feel free to send your thoughts/questions to Bill by clicking the "comments" icon below.

Home Run Call

The question I’ve been asked the most from Brew fan: "What’s your home run call?"  Well, I hope I don’t disappoint you but I don’t have a home run call.  I think I use "gone" a lot…Sometimes "outta here."  But mostly I just call it as I see it.  Is it a line drive?  A high towering shot?  Did he get enough?  Here is my mental checklist for home runs (and any other big hits): Name, Score, Shut up." Especially during home games. 

Now, I’m not opposed to home run calls.  It’s just that all the good ones are taken.  In my opinion, there are three ground rules for such calls:  1) If you’re in, or headed to, the Hall of Fame you can have a home run call.  2) No plagiarism. And, 3) Only one per team.  Especially if that "one" is memorialized with ballpark signage.

I was a big fan of Harry Caray’s call, "It might be, it could be, it is…" said with the proper amount of slobber, of course.  Vin Scully has a classic and by far the most imitated: "She is gooooone!"  My broadcasting hero, Ernie Harwell, has a beauty too, "loooong gone." I like Bob Uecker’s "get up, get up, get outta here" because it’s a players call…something you’d hear in the dugout.  Even though it’s quirky, Matt Vasgersian’s movie lines always crack me up and I find myself saying Hawk Harrelson’s "You can put it on the board, yyyes" quite a bit…mostly when I’m playing board games with my seven year old. 

But my all time favorite home run call came from Russ Hodges, "The Shot Heard ‘Round the World."  Bobby Thomson’s 1951 blast against Brooklyn resulting in a once-in-a-lifetime call that captured the moment perfectly with pure emotion.  I believe it revolutionized the industry because until that point, announcers were expected to be mechanical and unbiased.  The fanfare over that call made it acceptable for the true personalities of the broadcasters to be expressed on the air.  How many great characters of the game do we have now, possibly because of the door that Russ Hodges opened with that call.  It’s not technically perfect, but it’s straight from the heart and if you were listening to the Giants on the radio that day, you got the perfect picture painted for you: "There’s a long drive, it’s gonna be, I believe…THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT, THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT, THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT, THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT."  Then he regroups a little, gives some details, then loses it again: "They’re going crazy, they’re going crazy…I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it!!!"  Then he regroups again, gives some more details, then loses it again.  Classic!

So much so that even a die-hard Dodger fan offered up the ONLY recording.  Just think, Russ Hodges’ shot heard ’round the world doesn’t survive if this guy hadn’t made a bootleg recording of the entire game…then, despite his team’s losing, offering it up for all of us to enjoy.  I’ve always wondered why he was listening to the Giants broadcast.  Can you name the other two Hall of Fame announcers who called that home run?  Answer below.

I’d like to hear about your favorite home run calls.  What would yours be?  Give me your entry in the "comments" box below. 

And, finally, many have asked what Opening Day will be like for me…I believe this short video presentation properly captures the range of emotions I’ll be experiencing on that day.  click

And finally-finally, I leave with you with these guys: click  If you happen to be at the Marquee Theater in Tempe, Arizona, February 19th…I’ll see you there…Enjoy!

BA

Answer: Ernie Harwell (TV) and Red Barber (Dodgers radio). 

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