March 2007

Right-Handed Charter

In today’s generation of technology, the idea of charting with pencil and paper typically draws an, “Ugh,” from the duty-bound pitcher. Luckily, at least in the Indians organization, computers are the new thing. It seems complicated at first, but it works pretty simple. One of the charting pitchers each game will be assigned the “Comchart” and sits behind home plate to do so. This is a laptop computer with a program on it to chart the game pitch-by-pitch. After each pitch, the charter is obligated to mark down what happened. Here’s the “quick and easy” process between pitches. Keep in mind; the average time between pitches is usually about 15 seconds:
1. Pitch location
2. Pitch type
3. Pitch speed
4. Hit In Play/Swing and Miss/Strike Looking/Ball
IF IT IS PUT IN PLAY THE LIST GOES ON….
5. Where the ball landed
6. Hard/Medium/Soft hit ball
7. Line Drive/Fly Ball/Ground Ball
IF AN OUT IS MADE….
8. Who made the out(s)
9. Repeat steps 1-8 each pitch

PHEW! Sounds like a lot of stuff doesn’t it? Well, it goes by pretty quickly once you get the hang of it. And we definitely get the hang of it. You see, on a baseball card it would list me as a right-handed pitcher, but pitchers like myself (The starting pitchers, that is) know it is more like right-handed charter. I’ve mentioned it before. In a 5-man rotation, there are 4 days in between starts. What do we do? We chart! Each day is different. Either you are on the hitting chart, pitching chart, velocity, or Comchart. I will briefly let you know how each works.

Hitting Chart: This monitors the location of the pitches thrown TO our hitters FROM the opposing pitcher. It can actually help our manager discover trends of opposing pitchers, but it is typically used to determine what type of pitches our own hitters are swinging at, and hopefully hitting.

Pitching Chart: This monitors the pitch type, velocity, and location for each pitch thrown by our pitchers. It also allows us to keep a tally on the total pitches thrown to each batter, each inning, and overall in the game. After each game, the unlucky pitcher on this chart has to add up all of the following and mark them down: 1-1 strikes, 1st-pitch strikes, curveballs thrown/#of strikes, fastballs thrown/# of strikes, changeups thrown/#of strikes, and any others, total pitches, total strikes, hits allowed, walks allowed, runs allowed, strikeouts, innings pitched.

Velocity Chart: Pretty simple. The person on this chart holds the radar gun in one hand and writes down the speed of each pitch. The only thing is it needs to be marked if it is from the windup or the stretch.

And you know about the Comchart, the 21st century’s way of combining all the other charts into one easy, computerized stat machine.

Leave any comments you like and I will respond ASAP. Thanks for reading.

-Mike

Weekly Top 10

Hey, Every week I will be doing a Top 10. This week’s topic is baseball movies. Of course, people will disagree with some of my opinions, but that’s just what they are; opinions. I’m sure mlb.com would appreciate me saying views expressed may not be the same views of the writers of mlb.com. Anyway, on with the Top 10.

Honorable Mention: Angels In The Outfield, Eight Men Out, Bang The Drum Slowly, The Natural, Mr. Baseball)
Best Of The Rest: The Rookie
10. Little Big League (Griffey and Randy Johnson make this movie!)
9. Rookie Of The Year (I grew up TRYING to trip on a baseball and break my arm so I could throw gas)
8. The Scout (Nebraska! Nebraska! Nebraska!)
7. 61* (Billy Crystal’s HBO masterpiece)
6. Field Of Dreams (do i even have to say it? okay, i will. “If you build it…”)
5. Major League 2 (Rube, Tanaka, and the crew…c’mon now)
4. Cobb (few have seen this movie, but everybody should…includes a Roger Clemens cameo)
3. Bull Durham (can’t forget Nuke LaLoosh getting called to the big leagues from single-A haha)
2. For Love Of The Game (as a pitcher, it was tough to put this at #2)
1. Major League (in my opinion, the greatest sports movie of all time)

Finally Back On The Bump

Hey everyone, Well it is a couple weeks overdue, but I finally got back on the mound after being sidelined for an inflamed wrist. I could hardly throw a baseball for a couple days because of a ganglion cyst in my throwing arm’s wrist, but I’m good now. It felt like forever before they let me get back to pitching. Anyway, I was scheduled for 1 inning of relief in an intersquad game. I threw pretty well (1 ip, 0 run, 0 hit, 0 bb, 1 k, on 9 pitches). Of course, that is only 1 inning, but it’s a good start.

Just keeping you guys updated on how its goin here. Sorry it’s been a few days since my last post. I’ll be posting more later tonight.

-Mike

Inside The Minor League Clubhouse

Ever wondered what goes on in there? How it looks? What do they do with all that laundry? How do we pass the time? What’s the food like? Well, I’m about to give you the inside scoop. If you’re not prepared for descriptions way below your expectations, I recommend you leave now. This is not the Major League clubhouse, which I haven’t seen yet, so I couldn’t give you a quick rundown. Welcome to the Minors. The grind. I’ll get into the bus rides another time. For now, let’s dive into the fascinating world of the minor league clubhouse.
1. Lockers
What you find in most is about the same as what you’ll find in mine…I got my shoes, which include the Nike cleats, Nike turfs/running shoes, street shoes (usually the old Oakley sandals I wear all the time), and the all-too-necessary shower sandals. That’s on the top rack. Hanging on the wire that scales through all of the lockers in my row you’ll find my jersey, pants, and a plethora of UnderArmour gear for the cold or the hot. Beneath this, the 2007 Marietta College media guide (some easy reading when I’m bored) and the binder for my bullpen notes and classroom pamphlets. Enough of a visual for you? Moving on…

2. Laundry
So much of this. Leave it to the clubbies to deal with. It truly is amazing how quickly they get it done. After the day is over, we put our uniforms and other clothes in specific “piles.” I swear I could leave the room for 5 minutes and my stuff will be cleaned and back in my locker. Magic. Magic I tell you!

3. Food
Now we hit the tricky part. No, we don’t get fed steak and lobster and mashed potatoes and such. Rather, our afternoon meal is typically dry chicken, peanut butter & jelly sandwich and the salad bar. I’m used to it by now. Plus, I try not to complain, since it IS free. Along with breakfast, which consists of fruit, plain oatmeal, plain grits, and pancakes. I’ll never forget last year at Mahoning Valley when Jason Michaels worked out with the team one day. He bought everybody on the team a full meal from Applebee’s. What a treat that was. I hope I see more major leaguers this season.

4. Passing the Time
Here’s my favorite part. A quick rundown of the things we do in there in between the morning workouts, the rain delays, and other waits.
-13 (a.k.a.-“Splooge”): 2-4 player game. Best when played with 4. Each player gets 13 cards. The cards are dealt one at a time to each player until the cards are gone. 2’s are the highest card. And the suits go, from low to high, Spade/Club/Diamond/Heart. The key is to get rid of all of your cards first. The person with the 3 of spades leads the game and may throw any hand from a single card to a pair and on. It’s a confusing game to describe with words on here, but it’s fun and definitely addicting. You’ll hear the words, “I always lose,” from my mouth frequently, but it’s fun nonetheless. – -Other than the frequent card games, you’ll see a number of players fiddling with their iPods, reading a book, or playing their Playstation Portable (PSP). But everybody has something to do. If you’re bored there’s usually an argument about something going on somewhere, be it sports, politics, or everyday things.

I hope I’ve been able to help you reach into the clubhouse and check out what it’s like inside. These were just a handful of the things you’ll find inside. If you want to know more, just go ahead and comment on this blog and I’ll respond with another one.

-Mike

Take Yourself Out to The Ballgame!

First of all, I want your opinions and comments. But here are a few of mine:
So as a starting pitcher, I have grown (or been forced) to know and love all things “ballpark.” Hot dogs, Cracker Jacks, peanuts, sunflower seeds, Dippin’ Dots, and crazy minor league antics. I’m here to give you the player’s perspective on these classics from the same seats you sit in every home game. You see, you may not realize it but when you go to those single-A games there are between 2 and 4 actual players sitting right behind home plate. Well I’m one of them. We are the starting pitchers. The rotation. The best job in the world. The ball and the game are in our hands every time we take the mound. But the 4 days in between starts it’s not the ball or the game that is in our hands, but rather, the pencil or the radar gun. It is our job to take the notes and the statistics necessary for the coaches to do their jobs to better understand the opponent and sometimes, themselves.

Anyway, spending most of my time in the stands rather than the dugout, I believe it is my duty to test out all the stadium has to offer. Last year, I played for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, a short-season A club in Niles, OH. Eastwood Field was our home field. Great park, great atmosphere, great people. But most importantly, great food!!! Now I know you’ve all got your favorites. You already know what you want before you even get to the ballpark. But I?m here to help you understand the rest.

You know how good a hot dog tastes. You know how good a cold beverage tastes in your seat. The nachos are great too. Don’t forget the sound of crunching peanut shells beneath your feet. But modern day baseball has so much more to offer…

Cracker Jacks: This is the lost snack of baseball. One of the most synonymous foods with any sport on this planet, Cracker Jacks has been shoved aside by the almighty hot dog. It’s peanuts and CRACKER JACKS! Not hot dogs! The smooth taste of caramel popcorn brings to mind the Will Ferrell quote from Old School, “Once it hits your lips, it’s so good!” Let’s not forget to mention the prize, an American classic, which unfortunately has been reduced to the usual temporary tattoo. That doesn’t hamper the greatness of the taste of the delicious treat.

Sunflower Seeds: Another staple in America’s pasttime. Now I?m not sure if sunflower seeds were always associated with baseball like they are today, but something along the lines sure made it stick. More importantly, though, let’s examine why it’s so delicious. The flavors, all of which are delicious, most of all BBQ seeds in my opinion. I think it’s the fact that you can spit the shells anywhere and it’s okay. It’s not littering. It’s not rude. Just don’t let one of them land on a nearby fan. A hidden secret, though, is eating it whole. Very tasty. Try it sometime. Just make sure you don’t choke. This is possible. So, readers and seedsters beware.

Now for the finale…Dippin’ Dots:
Wow. That’s the only word to describe it. Finally somebody made the absurd prices of ballpark food worthy of the dip into one’s wallet. Usually Dippin’ Dots run about 3.50-5 dollars depending on the size. But they have a multitude of flavors. Here’s the kicker, though. You get your ice cream in a miniature helmet of your home team. Great job whoever decided on that. As you get to your seat, watch your Dippin’ Dots melt. So hurry, get back to your seat. You there now? Starts eating. By melting, it only made it easier to eat. Allowing you to indulge in the great, smooth taste of, in my opinion, the greatest creation of a new generation of ballpark foods.

But if you just want to save your money and enjoy the game. There is plenty to watch. In between innings you are guaranteed to be involved in some sort of t-shirt toss or free giveaway. If not, enjoy watching a lucky kid run the bases, or a mascot race an old lady. Either way, going to the ballpark is undoubtedly a complete experience that is losing its greatness in this society thanks to plenty of other distractions. I hope to see you behind home plate.

-Mike

March Madness!

Hey readers! Well, it’s hump week here in Winter Haven. Throwing live to hitters behind an L-screen (although we tell them what pitch we are throwing) every other day until Thursday. Come Friday we will be on our respective teams and begin what you all know as the real spring training; games. Every day we’ve got our games and the 5-day rotation begins for us starting pitchers. So March Madness isn’t all upsets and Final Fours, it’s crunch time for us baseball players as well. The 40-man roster guys are trying to earn their spots on the Major League club and the minor leaguers like myself are trying to prove we belong. All the while trying not to overdo it since we do have 5 more months of it.

Anyway, for all you reading this blog because you saw the March Madness title, yea, I didn’t forget what’s going on. I’m calling for a Florida repeat and hoping to see a Florida-Ohio State matchup. That would make for some interesting action. But back to baseball…sort of…

Last night the first-year guys had a meeting on nutrition. Our team nutritionist spoke to us in what seemed like 5 hours. But it was good info. I’ve heard it all before: “Spread out your meals” “Drink lots of water” “No fast food and less caffeine” etc. etc. etc. But she had some good numbers to show why, because we know it’s true, but don’t want to go the extra mile to follow the guidlines. So I’m going to try to eat better. My biggest concern is gaining weight as I’m not the biggest guy in camp! Any suggestions?

A message to the video game crowd: BUY MLB2K7! Wow is all I can say to describe the game. I’ve heard plenty about how little there is to do in Winter Haven, FL but it isn’t even a concern of mine now that I’ve got this game to play. Not only is it addicting but the graphics are out of this world. So incredible the jerseys even blow in the wind and specific to the direction the wind is blowing.If you’ve got a thing for video games, especially sports games, go to a store and rent it or buy it.

Sorry there isn’t much to report right now, but hang in there and once these games start rollin’ I’ll be a daily dose for anybody out there. Thank you for all of your support, especially to my family. See you Thursday Mom and Billy!

Enjoy life,
Mike Eisenberg

P.S.- 300 = great movie

Hey Blog World

Hey everybody, I’m finally set up and ready to go with this blog. I’m sure you can get a good bit of info on me through the profile, but I prefer a more personal touch. I’m currently a minor league pitcher in the Cleveland Indians organization. Drafted last year in the 8th round of the draft, I signed and left Marietta College (OH) after my junior year. Although I plan to finish my education as soon as possible, why not leave on top I figured. The Indians produced a great offer and we just got done winning the Division III National Championship. Great opportunities and dreams come few and far between in this world so I took it and ran. Which leaves me here, sitting in my Holiday Inn room at Winter Haven, FL working my way through Spring Training with the Tribe preparing for my 2007 season.
Spring Training has been a dream come true. Hours on end of PFP’s and bullpens followed by more time in the weight room and training room than out on the field. I love it. Who doesn’t like coming to work at 8:30, leaving by 1 and playing the great game of baseball in between. Today was the first day of throwing live batting practice to hitters and, although they only allowed us to throw fastballs and changeups, it was a great chance to get used to facing batters again.

Anyway, I’ll be back plenty of times to update you on the everyday happennings here in good ole’ Winter Haven. If you’ve got any questions, just bring them on and I’ve got answers for you.

Have a great day,
Mike Eisenberg