This may be considered nitpicking and labeled under the “things that don’t

The Brooklyn unis

really matter” category, but was I the only one who thought the Dodgers wearing the old Brooklyn jerseys on Thursday against the Braves was just wrong?

I have no idea how many times this has occurred since they left for the West Coast, but being a huge Ebbets Field and Brooklyn Dodger fan, this just doesn’t sit right with me. Sure the jerseys looked great, but to me it brings back the thought of what if the Dodgers had never left Brooklyn. If you aren’t there anymore, don’t wear the jerseys.

I mean, the Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley, who moved the Dodgers to LA after fighting with Brooklyn to get a new stadium, is long gone but it wasn’t a very amicable split. The hurt lasted long in Brooklyn or so I have read. Even when New York was awarded an expansion team for the Mets, true Brooklyn Dodgers fans never forgave the city or the Dodgers for leaving.

Maybe all of this was lost in the current ownership problems now that MLB has assumed control of the team. Maybe enough time has passed where the Dodgers felt it would be a cool thing to do and wear the blue Brooklyn jerseys. I mean that was all the way back in 1957 when they left for LA. Maybe the sting has dissipated from their fans over time or maybe there just aren’t many around in 2011, but seeing the team from Los Angeles wear a jersey with the Brooklyn script across the front didn’t seem right to me at all.

Next up on the list on my picture series from last season is Opening Day when I ventured down to my hometown ballpark to watch the Pirates battle the Dodgers on April 5, 2010.

Duke vs. Manny - Opening Day 2010

As you can see from the picture, I was able to capture the ball in-flight for a marquee matchup between Pirates starter Zach Duke versus Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez. Duke was effective enough through five innings of work to pick up the victory in a Pirates 11-5 blowout.

Garrett Jones blasted two home runs, leading me to proclaim that he was on pace to hit 324 bombs for the year. Obviously, he fell well short of that mark and ended up with a total of 21 big flys on the year. As for Duke, it was his last Opening Day as a member of the Pirates after being dealt to Arizona in November. Manny only played part of the season with Los Angeles after he was signed off waivers by the White Sox in August.

But for one golden afternoon, the Pirates had it all. Home runs, effective pitching, a blowout victory, as perfect weather that you could ask for in April in Western Pennsylvania and I ran into Franco Harris on the concourse after the game. All in all, it was a spectacular day.

I remember listening to the Buccos faithful on the radio during the drive home and them stating that this year would be different and the losing would finally end.

Ah, you have to love Opening Day.

MLB fans, GMs and players can now breathe again—the trading deadline has officially passed. Need a recap on everything went down? Here are some trade links to do just that…

MLB Trade Rumors is the authority on the trading deadline, and the folks over there put together a nice rundown of all the trades from the past couple of days.

MLB.com also runs down the plethora of trades today.

Jayson Stark of ESPN gives his winners and losers of the trading deadline.

Big League Stew of Yahoo! ranks the top 10 notable trades from this July.

I had to get my hometown Pirates in here as they were busy as usual on the deadline. Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recaps the three trades the Buccos made today. From my viewpoint, the Pirates made some low-risk free agent pickups in the offseason and flipped most of them for some decent, young talent today. Not bad in my book.

Am I the only one who didn’t like the Jake Westbrook deal for the Cardinals? I mean parting with young hitter Ryan Ludwick for Westbrook when they also went after Oswalt and Lilly and end up with Westbrook. Seems like they panicked to me and settled for the lesser of three pitchers. I could see Westbrook find his groove against NL hitters, but it’s still a downgrade after losing out on Oswalt and Lilly.

Speaking of the Indians, they found a taker for Kerry Wood!?! The Tribe sent the struggling closer to the Yankees for a player to be named later or 500k. Uh, I’m pretty sure that cash will work just fine. I could see the Indians going to the Yankees in the offseason and say, “You know what, don’t bother sending anyone for the deal. We’re good.”

FanGraphs breaks down the Octavio Dotel trade to the Dodgers and wonders, along with many, what the Dodgers are doing giving up too much for bullpen arms, including a top prospect in Andrew Lambo now with Pittsburgh.

Also, the Reds stood pat and made zero moves. Interesting. After trading for Yunel Escobar earlier this month, the Blue Jays also were quiet at the deadline along with the Tigers, Mets, A’s (Billy Beane must have been sick), Brewers (they’re in contention though, that’s it), Red Sox and Rockies.

Well the non-waiver trade deadline gone, tomorrow is August 1 and back to our regularly scheduled program of baseball while teams battle for pennants the last two months of the season.

Finally some real trades to discuss on Warmup Wednesday.

Let’s start with the first one that went down Wednesday afternoon—the Tigers acquired Jhonny Peralta from Cleveland for minor league pitcher Giovanni Soto (Yeah, different Soto from the Cubs catcher). Detroit has been decimated by injuries the past month and Peralta will fill in at third base in Brandon Inge‘s stead. This deal doesn’t exactly thrill me for the Tigers. Peralta is in his eighth major league season with his best year coming in 2005 when he belted 24 homers with a slash line of .292/.366/.520, but has progressively declined each year since then. Get it? Progressively declined…Progressive Field in Cleveland. Ah, forget it. Anyway, this year Peralta has just seven homers, 43 RBI and a line of .246/.308/.389. On the other hand, it’s better than throwing a rookie out there which is what the Tigers have been doing, and while Soto is enjoying a nice season at low-A ball, he’s only 19 years old and is years away from the majors. The Indians also sent cash to Detroit to most likely cover the rest of Jhonny’s contract, plus the Tigers will hold a $7.5MM option for 2011, which barring some dramatic improvement from Peralta, I don’t see the Tigers picking up. This deal doesn’t change the fact that I think the Tigers are done. Losing Zumaya and now Ordonez is just too much for this team to overcome.

The other trade on Wednesday involved the Dodgers acquiring Scott Podsednik from the Royals for two minor leaguers (Lucas May—Triple-A catcher and Elisaul Pimentel—right-handed pitcher in Low-A). Podsednik is in his 10th season and will join his sixth team of his career. Podsednik is having a nice season, hitting .309/.352/.400 with 30 steals, eight doubles, six triples and five homers. He really became the Royals only appealing trade piece once David DeJesus was lost for the season due to injury. This trade will give the Dodgers some outfield depth with Manny Ramirez on the DL, but this is another deal that isn’t going to change the NL West landscape.

So three days from the deadline, Wednesday was a nice warmup to the big deals that are sure to be just a few days away.

As I settled down onto my couch last night to watch the Dodgers-Giants game, I expected a classic pitching duel featuring two of the game’s youngest star pitchers—Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum. Instead, I saw a wild 7-5 Giants win that featured three ejections, hit batters, bench warnings and the 8.06 rule.

In case you are not familiar with the rule, 8.06 (b) regarding the manager’s trips to his pitcher states: “A second trip to the same pitcher in the same inning will cause this pitcher’s automatic removal.” It also clarifies in the rule that the manager or coach is considered to have concluded his visit to the mound when he leaves the 18-foot circle surrounding the pitcher’s rubber.

Well after Joe Torre and bench coach Bob Schaefer were ejected earlier in the game, hitting coach Don Mattingly took over as the acting manager. With the bases loaded in the top of the ninth and the Dodgers clinging to a 5-4 lead, Mattingly went out to talk with closer Jonathan Broxton. Mattingly started walking back to the dugout, took a couple of steps off the mound before turning around to say something else. Giants manager Bruce Bochy was all over it. He appealed to the umps that it was two separate visits. The rule does state that, and Broxton was forced out of the game for reliever George Sherrill, who by the way promptly gave up the go-ahead two-run single to Andres Torres. Bochy also got this call against the Dodgers when he was managing the Padres in 2006.

Whoops.

Mattingly admitted that he knew the rule, but didn’t think he moved off the dirt when he turned back. The Dodgers were probably still done because Broxton did not seem to have it last night anyway after giving up a single and a walk to lead off the inning.

The great pitching duel was foiled early when an ineffective Lincecum was hit around early and failed to go at least five innings. He finished with five runs allowed on seven hits in just 4.2 innings of work. Not very Timmy-like. Kershaw, on the other hand, was more effective but did not have brilliant stuff himself as he allowed four runs (two earned) through 6.0 innings and was ejected after hitting Aaron Rowand with a pitch to lead off the seventh. Kershaw also hit Torres to lead off the game in the first. Lincecum retaliated by brushing Matt Kemp back in the fifth and then hit him on the very next pitch.

Like I said, so much for that 1-0 pitching duel. It was still a great game, just not the type of game I was expecting. I’m only disappointed in MLB Extra Innings package for not having the Dodgers broadcast with Vin Scully available…I have no idea why that was either. Would have  been a great contest to listen to Vin. I  The Giants go for the road sweep of the Dodgers tonight.

Interesting finish to some late night Wednesday action. Vin Scully’s quote tonight was spot on. What a bizarre finish to the Dodgers-Angels game. Thanks to my current work schedule and west coast baseball, I found myself randomly watching the final two innings of the battle of LA on my Extra Innings package. It turned out to end on a timing play that you don’t see very often.

With the Dodgers trailing 2-1 in the top of the ninth, Angels closer Brian Fuentes came on for the save. Matt Kemp led off the inning by reaching first on an E6. Ronnie Belliard singled and Casey Blake struck out. This is where things went down hill for the Dodgers. With runners on first and second with one out, Kemp lost his head and was picked off second base. That can never happen when you have the tying run in scoring position. Inexcusable.

The Dodgers still seemed to be okay though after Russell Martin walked. Jamey Carroll pinch-hit and hit a bloop single into left field. Reed Johnson, running for Ronnie Belliard easily rounded third and was on his way to score when Martin was thrown out at second base after rounding the base too far. Martin’s out was recorded while Johnson was about 10 feet from scoring at home plate thus being a timing play. Martin’s out is the third out, Johnson’s run does not count and somehow Fuentes picks up the save. And of course Martin throws his helmet down arguing the call at second base and is tossed from the game though said game already ended so I’m not sure what he’s being tossed from.

I haven’t seen a timing play that close end a game before. Apparently neither had Scully, who said, “What a bizarre finish…even for the Dodgers.”

It’s also one of those rare cases where the game ends on a hit, but the team batting loses. That also can happen on the batted ball play when a hit ball strikes a base runner, which is recorded as a hit, but the base runner is out.

I’m still wondering what Kemp was thinking and what Martin was doing flying past second base, but what a finish in LA! Yep, I love baseball.

With teams set to play their 40th game of 2010 early this week, it marks a fourth of the MLB season in the books. We’ve already seen two no-hitters, including one perfect game, and plenty of surprises in teams through this first month and a half of baseball. Let’s take a look at the week that was.

Sweeps weekend
Not only is it sweeps time in the TV industry, but this weekend was sweeps weekend around the country in baseball. There were six series sweeps: Blue Jays over the Rangers, Marlins over Mets, Angels over A’s, Giants over Astros, Dodgers over Padres and Phillies over the Brewers. The Phillies are started to roll and run away with the NL East as they are 8-2 in their past 10 games for the best record in the National League at 23-13. Plus, the Phillies get ready to welcome Jimmy Rollins back to the lineup tonight. Even better for the Phils to keep their surge on is that the Pirates come into town for a nice two-game series. I would be stunned if the Pirates took either game of that series.

Also, speaking of teams that are on a roll currently, the Los Angeles Dodgers are starting to finally heat up. Their three-game sweep of the first-place Padres puts them at seven straight wins to move to 20-17 after a horrible start to the season. Though Dodgers fans (and my fantasy team) are holding their collective breath until more news comes down regarding Andre Ethier’s broken finger. Still no word on whether or not Ethier will make a trip to the DL as he will try to swing through any pain he has. This could be a huge loss for the Dodgers as Ethier is currently raking with a .392 average, 11 homers and 38 RBI, which all rank first in the NL. Yes, Ethier is leading all the Triple Crown categories, so him being out of the lineup for a significant period of time is big news.

Big Red Machine
I had to do a double take while looking at the standings today, specifically the NL Central that showed the Reds in first, a half game ahead of the Cardinals. Cincinnati has won eight of its last 10 games, but don’t buy too much into this streak because the Reds had three wins against the Buccos. Though they did take two out of three from the Cards this past weekend to take over first place.

One reason for the 21-16 record is the pitching staff which has seen pretty much the opening day rotation healthy 37 games into the season. A great find has been rookie pitcher Mike Leake, who skipped the minors altogether to join the Reds rotation this year and has been their most consistent starter (4-0, 3.09 ERA). They’re winning close games, but Francisco Cordero has nailed down 12 saves in 14 chances. Cincy has a good shot to keep this up at least till the end of the month as they have the Brewers, Braves, Indians, four games with the Pirates and three against Houston in the next two weeks.

Rays-Yankees showdown
I don’t buy into early season matchups that ESPN will totally over hype too much, but I am interested to see how the Rays play in a two-game series in Yankee Stadium on Wednesday and Thursday. The Rays are flying high with a league-best 26-11 record, two games ahead of the Yankees in the AL East. The pitching matchups don’t favor the Rays very much with Wade Davis scheduled to pitch against AJ Burnett on Wednesday. James Shields faces Andy Pettitte in the second game, but the Yanks are lucky to miss red-hot Matt Garza and David Price early this season. These two teams will not meet up after this series until after the All-Star break in July.

Nationals call-up rookie pitcher!
Don’t worry, it’s not Stephen Strasburg…at least yet anyway. The Nats purchased the contract of the 10th overall pick from 2009 in Drew Storen to pitch out of the bullpen. This is just another step of homegrown talent from their farm system to play for the Nationals this year. Strasburg is not far behind as he continues to blow away (1 hit, 0ER in 12 innings) the International League.