Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rambling from the ballpark...

(photo by John Lembo)

- Joe Maddon reminds me of the really cool kid in high school who doubled as the validictorian. You can't deny the quality of his work: two Manager of the Year awards and three trips to the playoffs while competing in the rugged AL East. Nor can you deny his personality: The smiling, ain't-life-a-blast guy you see on TV is the real Joe Maddon. I've dealt with him just a few times, but he IS as cool as he seems. He earned the nickname Staples during the 2008 postseason because he spoke for so long during his press conferences that the dictation wouldn't fit all on one page. He listens to Springsteen and Pavarotti. He shops and cooks for the homeless during the holidays. He shaved his head in the name of pediatric cancer research and encouraged his players to do the same. And he benched B.J. Upton for not hustling during the '08 pennant race, proof that can be authoritative when it counts. Yeah, he's batted a catcher leadoff, and last year said the bullpen did "great" after it blew a late-inning lead against the New York Yankees. But what you see is what you get with Joe Maddon. And what you see is one of the most interesting and charismatic people in all of sports. We need more like him.

- The Pirates' Nick Evans got picked off third and Nate McLouth got picked off second. Wonder if you can actually get picked off at home...

- Today isn't a sellout at McKechnie Field, snapping a string of four straight. Hey, even Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak had to end some time, right? Speaking of which, Friday's game against the Detroit Tigers is already sold out, according to Trevor Gooby, the Pirates' director of Florida operations. I have a feeling a lot of those people are banking on Prince Fielder making the trip from Lakeland.

- It's 5-4 Pirates after 5 1/2 innings. Rod Barajas and Yamaico Navarro have homered for the Buccos against the Rays' James Shields, who was pulled with two outs and two on in the sixth.

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