Saturday, December 31, 2011

Legend of Sam Fuld started here:

Spent the day at my alma mater, the University of New Hampshire, and found this pic of Durham, N.H., native Sam Fuld from 1992. The "Legend of Sam Fuld" began when he was a 10-year-old bat boy, raking with the Wildcats.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Looking back at 2011

Today we're reflecting on the 2011 baseball season, a year of the mustache (Sal Fasano), the masher (Jose Bautista) and the misfits (Toronto's bullpen). Did you know the Blue Jays had the worst save percentage in the AL? The 'pen blew 25 of 58 save opportunities, including a fivespot from Jon Rauch. 

At Double-A, the Fisher Cats welcomed Fasano, whose team posted a 77-65 record and proceeded to beat Reading and Richmond in the postseason. Fasano's first Double-A victory went down in history, filed under bizarre and unbelievable. NH and Trenton, after combining for 13 errors in two games, kept fans guessing when switch-hitter John Tolisano faced switch-pitcher Pat Venditte with the game on the line. Tolisano, batting right-handed, jumped on Venditte's lefty fastball and nearly homered to left field for an 8-7 walk-off win. Venditte threw both left-handed and right-handed in the ninth inning. Switch-hitting Mike McDade doubled and scored the winning run.

Fear the 'Stache. All Sal Fasano does is win championships in Double-A.
"You might want to look that one up," Fasano said. "I remember Greg Harris for Boston could pitch with both hands, but I don't know if he ever won or lost a game against a switch-hitter. That's quite a story."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tony Plush wasn't invited on this trip

World Series champion Chris Carpenter caught this lunker, a peacock bass, on a recent trip to Brazil with fellow Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay. The All-Star excursion included elite angler Skeet Reese and former Blue Jays reliever B.J. Ryan. They returned home with tales of anacondas and alligators.

Photo courtesy of Chris Carpenter

Monday, December 26, 2011

Life of a long-range shooter

Matt Bonner, the reigning NBA 3-Point Field Goal Percentage Champion, took six shots from a combined 145 feet in the season opener against Memphis. The Red Rocket swished the first missile, a 26-footer from wing, then went cold for the rest of the night in San Antonio's 95-82 win Monday night. That's a typical shot chart for Bonner, entering his 8th season following a busy three months as VP of the NBA Players Association. He usually makes more (hitting 46 percent of 3-point attempts last season) but even when Bonner misses, he still stretches the defense and provides more operating room for Manu Ginobili (24 points) and Tony Parker (15 points). The Spurs are a veteran bunch that dissect teams with ball movement, an extra pass, and a 35-year-old Tim Duncan ... Spurs opened the 3Q with a 25-5 outburst, capped with Kawhi Leonard's first basket of his NBA career, a trey. Leonard, 20, played two years at San Diego State and averaged 15.5 points and 10.6 boards last season ... A look at the trophy sitting on Bonner's mantle:

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Lower-case "d" is for dominant

This interview with Travis d'Arnaud came in mid-August, at the height of his Eastern League MVP season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. He was squaring up everything fashioned a 15-game hitting streak. Finished the year at .311 with 21 HR and 78 RBI while polishing his catching game. My prediction is he'll start the 2012 season at Triple-A Las Vegas, get hot, and force the Blue Jays' hand by June. Let's get the kid some big-league work. "I'm understanding the game more. My blocking and throwing are more efficient. As far as hitting, I'm keeping the same approach and feeling relaxed. I feel happy. This is the most fun I've ever had playing baseball," d'Arnaud told me that day of the interview ... Fisher Cats 2011 hitting coach Justin Mashore: "When he steps to the plate, it's like there's something special in his hands."