Tag Archives: MLB

Cleveland … Guardians?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

OK. I am fine with the Washington Football Team of the National Football League jettisoning the name it used to call itself: the Redskins.

But, something inside my old man’s body tells me the Cleveland Indians’ decision to change its name to Guardians is a step too far into the realm of political correctness.

The Washington Football Team’s former name clearly had been interpreted as a slur against Native Americans. Old-time western cowboys would use the term as an epithet against Indians.

However, to change the name of one of Major League Baseball’s more storied franchises to the Guardians? I don’t get where this is going or where it might go.

As a friend of mine noted earlier today on social media, a Native American suited up for the Cleveland team many decades, becoming the first indigenous American to play big-league baseball. Thus, it is believed the Indians named the team in his honor.

Maybe I shouldn’t tread onto this ground, given that I am the grandson of immigrants from southern Europe. I don’t understand how a Native American might feel about an MLB team named the Indians. It’s just that to my eyes and ears the team nickname has a decidedly neutral sound to it, unlike the former name of the NFL team that plays tackle football in Washington, D.C.

How many more teams are going to succumb to the pressure that continues to mount?

Sigh …

Pujols finds a new team … yes!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Albert Pujols will take his place in due course in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

But first the former three-time National League Most Valuable Player, two-time World Series champ (with the St. Louis Cardinals) and arguably the best right-handed hitter in the past 60 years will get to play one season for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The LA Angels gave Pujols the boot in the final year of the huge contract he signed prior to the 2012 season. The all-timer didn’t perform up to the standards he set while playing for the Cardinals.

Free agent Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Dodgers agree to major-league contract (msn.com)

He is now 41 years of age. He doesn’t have much time.

The only downer I see in this signing is that Pujols won’t get to play the Cardinals in St. Louis this year, as he did in 2019 when the Angels visited Busch Stadium for a three-game set against the Cards. The reception the St. Louis fans gave Pujols was remarkable in the extreme.

I’ve shared this video already, but it’s worth seeing again.

Enjoy …

Cardinals fans give Albert Pujols a standing ovation in his return to Busch Stadium – YouTube

Future Hall of Famer gets the axe

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I don’t follow big-league baseball the way I once did.

My interest lies in too few players these days. One of them, my current favorite MLB player, has been cut from a team he joined a decade ago in one of the biggest deals in baseball history.

I am saddened to see Albert Pujols get the boot from the Los Angeles Angels.

Pujols is, as the saying goes, a serious “gamer.” He comes to play hardball the right way every time he suits up. He also is 41 years of age and his best years are long gone. The Angels believe it would be in the team’s best interest and in Pujols’ best interest to let him find a spot with another team that will enable him to play if not every day, then on most days.

That wasn’t meant to be for the Angels.

Why am I sad? Because a guy with Pujols’ stellar character and all that he has done to promote baseball positive image deserves better than what he got from the LA Angels. Spare me the lecture about how pro sports is big business. I get all that.

Still, an athlete who for the first half of his career playing for the St. Louis Cardinals put up utterly staggering offensive numbers — hits, home runs, runs batted in, batting average — to my mind had earned a more graceful and dignified exit than what he got from the Angels.

It’s unlikely Albert Pujols will put up the kind of offensive numbers he did when he was much younger were he to end up in another lineup. I just wish he could have left the Angels on his own terms.


One of the more thrilling scenes I’ve ever watched occurred when the Angels played the Cardinals in 2019. It marked Pujols’ return to St. Louis since he left the team. The reception he got from what he has called “the best fans in baseball” is stunning. Here is the link.

Cardinals fans give Albert Pujols a standing ovation in his return to Busch Stadium – YouTube

Are we ready for a packed house?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com


That is the sound of me swallowing hard in anticipation of what I hope doesn’t happen … if that makes sense.

They’re going to play some hardball tonight down the road a piece from us in Collin County. The Texas Rangers are staging their American League home opener at their brand new ballpark in Arlington, which they built right next to the park where they played for about 20 years.

Why am I gulping? Because the Rangers are going to play before a full house. Fans will be packed in there, about 40,000-plus of them. Sitting shoulder to shoulder. Yelling for their guys to win a game. They’ll be high-fiving each other, slapping each on the back, yelling their brains out!

Oh, did I mention that we’re still in the grip of a killer pandemic? I just did. Which makes me very nervous.

The Texas Rangers are the only Major League Baseball organization to open their venue up to everyone who can squeeze into it. The other teams are limiting ticket sales. Same thing for minor-league organizations — such as the Amarillo Sod Poodles up yonder in the Panhandle; Hodgetown will be three-quarters full when the Soddies open their home season soon.

To be clear, the Rangers are going to require fans to wear masks. I presume they’ll have hand sanitizer available.

However, social distancing is not at all possible when you jam fans together in a venue where they’re sitting right next to each other. We’ve had these spikes in infection rates and hospitalization, in case you hadn’t heard. They have occurred just as states and local governments lift restrictions created by the outbreak of the COVID virus which has killed more than 550,000 Americans — and that number is still climbing, albeit at a slower rate.

My goodness, I hope this isn’t a mistake.

A true legend passes on

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

One should try to refrain from overusing the term “legend” when referring to famed athletes.

I will use the term today to mourn the death of a true legend of baseball: Henry Aaron, who died peacefully in his sleep overnight.

My goodness, what does one say about the man I consider to be Major League Baseball’s true home run king?

Hammerin’ Hank exhibited profound courage as he faced down blatant and hateful racism while he chased Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record. He surpassed The Bambino in April 1974 when he blasted No. 715 out of Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta. He kept all the hate mail he received just to remind him of the torment he endured.

Aaron went on to hit 755 home runs over a career in which he played for two franchises: the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves and then the Milwaukee Brewers. The Hammer became a civil rights activist and spokesman in his post-baseball life. He lived like a champion off the field as well as one who competed like one on the field.

Now, to be clear, Aaron officially is No. 2 on the career home list. He surrendered the title of all-time HR king to Barry Bonds, who finished with 762 home runs. Bonds, though, cheated his way to achieving the record by ingesting performance-enhancing drugs. Bonds never has acknowledged juicing up in the late 1990s and early 2000s … but he did.

Thus, I never can consider Bonds to be at the top of one of baseball’s greatest achievements.

The title of Home Run King will in my mind and heart belong to Henry Louis Aaron, a legend not just in his time … but for all time.

MLB reworks minor-league alignments

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A number of friends of mine who live in a city I used to call home are breathing a bit more easily now that Major League Baseball has announced plans to restructure its alignment with minor-league franchises.

MLB will allow each of the 30 teams in the Big Leagues to have four minor league affiliates. One of them will be a Double A team. Well, the relief comes because the Arizona Diamondbacks have a relationship already with the Amarillo Sod Poodles.

This means, as near as I can tell, that the D-backs and the Soddies will commence their relationship this season, which I certainly hope will be going forward in this era of the pandemic.

The Sod Poodles saw their Texas League season shelved in 2020 because of the pandemic. They couldn’t defend a league title they won in their first year of existence. Maybe they’ll get the chance this  year, or one should hope.

MLB is looking to reduce travel costs and employing other budget-cutting measures. The Sod Poodles could have been left standing alone, like some communities discovered. It’s not to be.

MLB Invites 120 Clubs To Be Minor League Affiliates; Here’s Who Made It And Who Didn’t (forbes.com)

Indeed, the Sod Poodles proved themselves to comprise one of the nation’s most successful minor-league franchises while playing ball in 2019. If only they could have continued that success in 2020.

What the heck. There’s always this year, this season. The Diamondbacks and the Sod Poodles can make a great tandem.

Here is looking forward to another banner year for the Amarillo Sod Poodles.

Oh, and how about them Sod Poodles?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Hey, let’s take a break from Donald Trump’s petty petulance at having lost an election.

I want to offer an atta boy to the Amarillo Sod Poodles, the defending Texas League champs and the minor league baseball team that plays hardball in the city I once called home.

Sod Poodles General Manager Tony Ensor, said this, “We are very pleased to announce that the Amarillo Sod Poodles organization has been formally invited by the Arizona Diamondbacks to become their new Double-A affiliate. Today’s announcement recognizes Amarillo and the Sod Poodles as being among the very best communities and franchises in Minor League Baseball. We are eager to review this affiliation opportunity with the Diamondbacks and our ownership group and look forward to discussing the exciting future ahead for baseball in Amarillo.”

There you go. The Sod Poodles have joined another Major League Baseball team in developing young talent that eventually hopes to end up in the Bigs. The Sod Poodles’ former parent club was the San Diego Padres. They have switched. To be candid, this one got past me. I must’ve been too preoccupied with other matters, such as the aforementioned Donald Trump’s bitching about losing an election to Joe Biden.

I’ll have to be content to cheer for the Sod Poodles  from afar, presuming they have a season this year; it didn’t happen for the Soddies, who wanted to defend their Texas League title won in the team’s first year of existence. We can thank the COVID pandemic for that.

Let’s hope they play ball this year … under the watchful eye of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

You didn’t ‘show up’ Bob Gibson

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

When I heard the news that Bob Gibson had died of cancer at the age of 84 I thought immediately of a radio interview I heard that mentioned Gibson’s name.

Bob Gibson was a first-ballot Major League Baseball Hall of Famer. He played his entire career with the St. Louis Cardinals. He won 251 games with the Cardinals and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1981.

He was a throwback to a time when pitchers controlled the field, controlled the game. One did not mess with Bob Gibson. Not ever!

Years ago, I was listening to a sports radio talk show. The host had former Philadelphia Phillies third baseman (and Hall of Famer) Mike Schmidt on the air. Schmidt was talking about how too many hitters like to stand in the batter’s box and watch their home runs fly into the stands, at which point they prance their way around the base paths.

Schmidt said in his day, pitchers wouldn’t stand for it. He mentioned a pitcher specifically who he said would take matters into his own hands: Bob Gibson. The next time the batter would come to the plate to face Gibson, Schmidt said, he would be greeted by a 95-mph fastball thrown at his head that Gibson would hurl at him.

Yeah, Bob Gibson was one tough dude. He also was a champion.

It’s ‘phony patriotism’

If the National Football League and the National Basketball Association are able to get their seasons started, we should prepare ourselves for another round of what I call “phony patriotism.”

It will come from those who object to players “taking a knee” while they play the National Anthem. Americans will object to the demonstration of peaceful protest against police brutality. They will assert that kneeling during the Anthem disrespects the flag, the men and women who fight to defend it as well as our way of life.

Donald Trump says he will turn off football games the moment he sees players kneeling. No doubt he will wrap himself in the flag, perhaps even hugging and kissing the cloth stitched in red, white and blue. He’s going to pitch for legislation making flag-burning a violation of federal law.

Except for this bit of history: The U.S. Supreme Court has stood firmly behind what the flag represents. The court has ruled that burning the flag is a form of political protest, which the Constitution protects in the First Amendment.

I want to stipulate once again that I revere the flag. I stand proudly for it. I went to war in defense of what that flag represents. No one who ever seeks to make a political point by burning that flag should do so in front of me.

But the return of pro sports may well be upon us. Major League Baseball has begun — more or less — and yes, players have knelt during the Anthem. The NFL and the NBA seasons are scheduled to begin soon.

I will await the phony patriotism and will dismiss it for what I believe it is: a demonstration of cheap showmanship.

COVID response turns U.S. into pariah nation

The world’s most powerful nation, the one that sees itself as “indispensable,” has become a pariah state.

How do I know this? Well, a story in the Sunday Dallas Morning News caught my attention. It says that with Major League Baseball about to start, the Toronto Blue Jays — the only MLB team headquartered in a foreign land — will not be allowed to play games at their home ballpark.

And why is that?

The Canadian government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does not want the Blue Jays players infecting anyone with the COVID-19 virus they might have acquired while playing hardball in the United States.

Roll that around for a just a moment.

The European Union has banned travel between the United States and all 27 countries that comprise the EU. The EU says travel also is banned from Russia and Brazil along with the United States because none of those nations has controlled the COVID virus sufficiently.

Now this from Canada.

Major League Baseball prides itself as being an international attraction. Indeed, many of its top players hail from places like the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Japan, Mexico and, yes, Canada. The Blue Jays are a premier MLB franchise.

And yet, the nation with the world’s greatest scientific researchers, the world’s pre-eminent medical establishments, the strongest military (by far!) in the history of the world cannot control a virus sufficiently for a neighboring country to allow its lone baseball franchise to play home games.

To think, therefore, that Donald John Trump calls his disastrous non-response to the pandemic a success. That he’s doing a fabulous job of controlling the virus. That the numbers of infection and death are the product of “fake news.”

My astute wife of nearly 49 years puts it in perspective. “I don’t care what the numbers say,” she told me. “I know that hospital workers are exhausted from the work they are doing to keep these patients alive.”

So, now we hear that a Major League Baseball team will be denied the chance to play baseball on its home field because its athletes will have traveled to the United States.

Is this how you “make America great again”?