Monday, August 12, 2019

On Becoming An Electrician

Apprentice Electrician

I've once again went to work in an area in which I am pretty well versed in, but not a sector of employment I've every truly thrived in. Again, I have taken a job as an apprentice electrician.
Now I first started working in this field when I was but twelve years old, and I believe that had something to do with me never being able to see it as something I'd ever want to do. No I was not unhappy for working at twelve, that was honor of family then. I was working with my late grandfather who'd recently lost his wife, my late grandmother - and we were working in the Texas heat wiring houses here in Kaufman, County. I was with him because my family didn't want him alone in those circumstances. I am honored I was esteemed able to fill such a role.
I again worked as an electrician wiring houses at sixteen years of age during the Summers, and again at seventeen years of age, during the Summer break from school. Virtually every male in my family is an electrician - other than myself and my brother, who also happen to be very experienced as electricians..
While in need of a job in 2005, I fell back again into wiring houses as an apprentice electrician -learning a trade is forever a wonderful thing.
While I'm mostly a heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration technician by experience and choice, I'm finding that work as an electrician is not nearly so against my grain as I'd once thought, and the job I took literally landed in my lap as the Summer ended. Quite naturally, when one is an electrician he or she is involved with powering an air conditioner or heater, and conversely, when one is involved in HVAC, one must forever be cognizant of electricity, and furthermore, plumbing, as an air conditioner produces a lot of condensate water.


I'm totally for cute young women becoming electricians....for several reasons, actually.
I'm totally for cute young women becoming electricians....for several reasons, actually.
Much more common - the male electrician.
Much more common - the male electrician.

About The Apprentice Electrician's Licence

In 2005 when I went to work for the Fall and Winter as an apprentice electrician, that time was the first in which I was officially working in that capacity. What do I mean? I mean I had to get an apprentice electrician's license.
Before then - there was no license needed for the job, and today, it is the exact same thing - one needs no license to actually do the job; the "license" is NOT a license at all. What a "license" actually is - is a certificate received for having demonstrated knowledge or skill - but the apprentice electrician's license is ONLY a certificate received for having paid the state of Texas twenty dollars cash.
While I have no idea if the other 49 states of the USA or the provinces of Canada require money exchanged so government can hand over something called a "license" for someone to do manual labor or not, that is the exact thing done here in Texas.
With a cursory search of the term "apprentice electrician" and the powers of Google, I found this one link that looked pretty good, but this one concerns California. The job of an electrician is something that isn't going to be much different anywhere in the world - there is the job itself, and then there are only the legalities and codes for getting the job done.

So What Does An Apprentice Electrician Do?

Simply put, the job of an electrician is labor intensive. It can be hard work, and it is often repetitive busy work - especially at the entry level. Personally, I've never been involved with electrical service work as an electrician. I am primarily an hvac service technician, and there really is a lot of differences between the job of a service electrician and an hvac serviceman.
Growing up, my father owned a business called Shaw Services - and my father is a Master electrician who's had that license over forty years now. Primarily, as Texas has always been a booming place, my dad's company installed the electrical service, wiring, lights, etc, in new homes. Both of my father's brothers also did the exact same thing, as did their brother in law, their father - and virtually every male in the family.
My family of electricians always made their living wiring houses and small businesses, and lots of apartment complexes. The work is done on construction sites, so it is dirty work, and it is hard work, but with the right frame of mind, the work isn't unpleasant. One can find that doing such work whips them into a nice physical condition, as the electrician in the building of buildings is forever up and down a ladder, and carrying loads of this and that here and there.
Literally, a body can get itself into pretty good shape doing the grunt work of an apprentice electrician. Going up and down a ladder all day pulling Romex wires through the rafters of a home under construction is a lot of exercise. Work hard, get fit, get paid a bit. I've convinced myself here lately that I'm getting paid to exercise.
Of course there is a lot more to the job I'm doing than just the pulling and installing of wires, but that is certainly the most physically demanding thing. When all the wire installing is done, then one must return to the building or home under construction a bit later on when the entire project is nearer completion, and install all the plugs, switches, and lights.
Building ceiling fans is another thing, which can be somewhat interesting, as there are surely hundreds upon hundreds of designs for ceiling fans, and they do not come from the distributor house ready to hang on the ceiling, they have to be put together, as do a lot of the fancier light fixtures.
Installing all these things is one thing, and of course the goal is forever to get it right the first time, but then there is also the reality that determines that sometimes things get damaged in the construction process, or were never done correctly to begin with - so just before a home or business is ready to be used and occupied towards its intended purpose, things must be made to work that did not work. It is all, of course, very real work.

Tools For The Trade - Electrician's Tool Belts

There is simply no way around it, anyone wishing to be an electrician must have a tool belt, or a tool pouch with a belt through it to wear around the waist. In the field of HVAC, nobody carries their tools on a belt because they generally have no clue what tools will actually be needed until they arrive at a job - but the electrician's job is rather different. The electrician tends to know what he will be doing pretty exactly from day to day, and especially in the field of construction - and the electrician knows he needs tools around his waste where he can always get to them - as he needs very specific tools, and ready access to them at all times.
I myself carry a very ancient leather tool belt - with pouches on either side of the thing - and this, my friends, is important because the construction end electrician is very often up and down a ladder of various sizes, and when standing high up on a ladder one needs to be balanced. Balance is crucial to maintaining a non injured state - and so there is a two section tool pouch or tool belt - with pouches or sections for tools and materials on either side of the body, connected to the waist via the belt.

The Claw Hammer

Quite literally, some days the claw or carpenter's hammer is in my hands more than just about anything else. On the construction end of the electrician's job, nobody but the actual carpenters are swinging hammers around more. Very often, the framing carpentry crew will be present at the same time as the rough in electricians, and so the cacophony of banging combined with pneumatic nail guns, can be rather intense.
What the electrician needs a hammer for are multiples of tasks too great to enumerate on here, but suffice it to say, wires must be secured to the wooden frames of buildings, and so too must the boxes or pans that lights, plugs, switches, and fans mount to.

Wire Strippers, Side Cutting Lineman's Pliers, and Needle Nose Pliers

Electricians are so obviously persons dealing with electrical wiring it goes without saying, but I've here said it once more - and utilizing such wiring towards and end always involves connecting the wires - which is mostly a very simple task, but one that is most often done by using many tools, and none more or less important than the actual wire strippers used to strip away the protective insulation that keeps a home safe - and in order to connect the circuitry.
There is more to it than that, of course, as also a pair of lineman pliers or "side cutters" must be used to properly and effectively twist together the stripped wires; and then this new electrical wiring connection must be protected anew with what is often referred to as a "scotch lock," or a "wire nut."
Often are the times when coarse copper wires are in places where they are hard to get to, to manipulate towards the end of providing an electrical service, and often in such times, ye old needle nose pliers are needed to fish out, pull out, bring forth the wires for stripping, cutting, twisting, and connecting.

Screwdrivers - You Have To Have Them

In my life the only jobs I've had that didn't involve screwdrivers all involved wearing a suit and a tie, and even then I often got home and had to use some screwdrivers to do something or another. Lets face it, practically everyone on the planet at some point or another is going to need some screwdrivers, and the electrician's apprentice most certainly needs several.
I don't suppose I need to go into much detail here about the kinds of screwdriver, and what they are used for, but suffice it to say there are flat heads and Philips head screwdrivers that must be had and used virtually every work day, and I do mean of various sizes too.
A little note here about Klein Tools - my thoughts are they are the best hand tools of any and all varieties that I've ever seen or used, and so I do endorse Klein Tools. Craftsman Tools are also very good tools, and there are other brands too, of course. With Klein or Craftsman, one has a lifetime guarantee on those, and if one breaks, it can be replaced. They do cost some money to buy, and this is because those brands make tools worth having.
If you are in a pinch and need to rustle up some hand tools on the cheap - then you can always search the local pawn shop.
Now despite how awesome is the Klein Ten In One screwdriver, you won't be able to get by with just that, as you will sometimes need a screwdriver with a longer "neck" on the thing.
For some jobs the newer style "cabinet tip screwdrivers" with the swivel - those things are marvelous, I don't own one, as I tend to stick to more traditional tools - but one of those is sure on my shopping list.

Additional Tools Needed For The Apprentice Electrician

Now it is important to know here that generally speaking, the apprentice electrician won't be expected to have every tool in the world, as the job foreman will have them, and will let you know what he expects you to have for the types of jobs you will be doing, but what I am hoping to provide here are the fundamental tools - as these are tools that will be used by any electrician of any degree of skill of license regardless of it all, and most handyman types are going to have these things around anyway.
If you don't know just what "Romex" wire is, then let me assure you - you will become intimately familiar with it, and in order to access the wiring to even put the wire strippers on what wires need connecting, one much have a VERY sharp knife to cut the outer levels of protective insulation away, and for this, the traditional box cutter razor knife is the absolute best tool imaginable.
Now Klein tools does make an electricians knife especially for this job, but my opinion is that it is an inferior tool to the razor knife or box cutter, simply because with a razor blade knife - one merely needs replace the razor blade from time to time, and not ever worry about sharpening a dulling blade.
"Dykes" or "diagonal cutting pliers," are another absolutely essential tool for all electricians, and their entire purpose in life is to cut wires of various thickness with ease, and precision.
Tape measures - you just won't get far in the electrical field without one! Electricians are forever measuring distances from walls to determine where to cut or drill holes, or where to nail up cut pieces of two by fours for the hanging of light fixtures, and fans, and the appropriate boxes used to install them and their wiring.
Lastly, when it comes to light fixtures, and especially in homes - those things must be level, lest they become an eyesore, and jobs done right are the jobs a worker can be proud of having done. So a simple torpedo level is something that any electrician's tool pouch needs to have in it

That Would Be Me, An Electrician


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Adrian Beltre - Headed for the Hall of Fame

Baseball is definitely a team sport, and of course all sports are entertainment. We don't hear so much about team sport players as individuals being entertainers, but with Beltre, you're talking about a guy who always acted like the spotlight was on him.

If you paid attention to him, and him alone, what you'd see was someone who loved the game he played as much as it could be loved. Always smiling. Always being a clown. Always performing at an exceptional level. No doubt he's going to the Hall of Fame. That may as well be settled already. What a great player he was! 

Adrian Beltre, a No Doubt Hall of Fame Player

Adrian Beltre - the best defensive 3rd baseman in Major League Baseball

I jumped up and down the day I read the Texas Rangers had got Adrian Beltre to come to the team. Quite literally, the team's history will record my excited jumping up and down to be in accord with the results. It isn't something that comes off the lips as odd to say it, but at the time it wasn't a given, but here goes: Adrian Beltre is a future major league baseball hall of famer.
People are calling Adrian names these days, they call him a freak of nature very often now. Outside the context of major league baseball, if someone calls you or anyone a 'freak of nature,' then it is usually an insult. Inside the context of Major League Baseball? Well, Nolan Ryan was the other guy we in Texas call by that phrase. Adrian is a hall of fame player, no doubts over here. He's a freak of nature.
So Adrian Beltre is one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball history. Everyone knows this. He's also a power hitter who can hit for high average, and comes through in the clutch situations as if he lives for them. He does live for those situations, of course. Adrian Beltre isn't playing baseball to make big money, he's playing baseball because he absolutely loves the game of baseball. You can't fake love. Everyone can see Beltre's love of the game when he's on the field. That love is returned to him in kind by the adoration of the fans, the respect of the team from the front office to the bat boy; and of course, through those big paychecks.

A young Adrian Beltre

Adrian Beltre was a sure pick prospect from a very young age

Adrian Beltre started his professional baseball career at a very very young age. In fact, it wasn't legal at all to draft a fifteen year old boy into professional sports, but it happened. You can't blame young Adrian, he was pursuing his dreams, and we are all very pleased with this in the end, it just wasn't legal at the time, or at this time either. The illegal act didn't go unnoticed or unpunished; and of course, Beltre wasn't punished, he was a child. The Los Angeles Dodgers scouting program was banned from scouting in the Dominican Republic for one year over the situation. It was still likely worth it to them.
Adrian was very very thin when he was signed by the Dodgers. He only weighed one hundred and thirty pounds, but again, he was fifteen years old. What abilities did the scouts from Los Angeles see in young Adrian? Well, despite his size, he already had a very very quick bat swing, and a very strong and accurate throwing arm. Just four years after an illegal signing of a 15 year old boy, Adrian Beltre would be a 19 year old man and debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a major league third baseman.

Adrian Beltre -Master of defense for the Los Angeles Dodgers

At the time, Adrian Beltre was the single youngest player in the MLB

During Adrian Beltre's major league debut, and he debuted as the youngest player in the National League, he hit a two run double to tie the game in his first at bat. It would only be a few weeks later that he'd hit his first Major League home run.
Adrian got to play a little less than half a season that year, his first, with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He showed some power due to his bat speed, he was yet a skinny and very young guy. Oh his batting average wasn't terrific, but nobody expects a 19 year old playing professional sports in a foreign land to do too much. The Dodgers, and other scouts from other teams, however, they saw the potential that was there, and they watched, they waited.

Adrian Beltre takes a big cut with the Los Angeles Dodgers

Adrian Beltre and the Los Angeles Dodgers

Still just 20 years old and not with the full size of his manhood grown into as of yet, the 1999 season would see Adrian Beltre getting most of the playing time at third base, and he'd proved by then to everyone what he and his cat-like reflexes, shotgun like arm, and quick bat were capable of. It was only going to be a matter of time until the Los Angeles Dodgers were known to have the best young third baseman in the ever increasingly diverse population of Major League Baseball players in America. His quick bat allowed him to hit for a much higher average than he had shown the previous season where he'd only played a half a season. His power was impressive for what was still such a very slightly built man.
The year 2000 saw Adrian Beltre improving still. He missed some games, only appearing in one hundred and thirty eight of the possible one hundred and sixty two, but his home runs increased to 20, and his batting average rose to .290. He also drove in 85 runs.

Adrian Beltre's Big Swing

Was Adrian Beltre a steroid user?

Now the next three seasons Adrian Beltre spent with the Los Angeles Dodgers were solid seasons. He was nearly always superlative on defense. He's just much quicker with the reflexes than most humans, even most humans able to play third base in the Major Leagues. He can move to his left side and his right side further and faster than most, and he has a rocket launcher for a right handed throwing arm. He often throws off balance and still laser beams a baseball to first or second base accurately. He'd been hitting from .250 to .290, and averaging about twenty home runs, and then came the season of 2004, and following the 2004 season Beltre would be up for free agency.
Did Adrian Beltre use steroids in 2004? The answer to the question is most likely a very affirmative. In 2004 Beltre suddenly led the not just the National League in home runs, but the entire Major Leagues in home runs. He hit 48 home runs in 2004, and that was more than twice his previous best in a season. He also knocked in 121 runs, and batted for a terrific .334.
There is a very clear motivation for using steroids the season prior to becoming a free agent, and then the facts of his statistics almost certainly prove that he did use steroids that year. He's never got close to repeating those home run totals since that season, though he has managed some very good power numbers since then for other teams, and he's also hit for high batting averages since the 2004 season. Who can blame a guy for doing what a huge lot of others were doing? Everyone wants a big payout, and Adrian Beltre succeeded in getting one. He signed a five year deal with the Seattle Mariners for sixty four million dollars.

Adrian Beltre in a Seattle Mariners photo op

Adrian Beltre with the Seattle Mariners

Now Adrian Beltre has been asked point blank about whether or not he used steroids in the 2004 season, and Beltre maintains that he's never once cheated in baseball. It is possible he simply increased his performance to the level he showed in 2004 without steroids, but it is possible he cheated. In the end, nothing is ever going to be proven one way or the other, and life goes on.
Now the people in the Mariners' organization and the fans in Seattle have a right to the way they feel about things, and a lot of them were disappointed in Beltre's performance there. He didn't come close to hitting the number of home runs they thought he'd hit, but he hit a lot of doubles, drove in a fair amount of runs, and he proved that he was a legitimate three hundred hitter, as his batting average was often among the leaders of the American League during his stay there.
Adrian played four solid seasons for Seattle. His last year with the Mariners, however, wasn't so great. He'd only make it to play in one hundred and eleven games the 2009 season. Baseball is a tough sport, and involves a lot of physical work, and Adrian was injured. He'd soon leave Seattle for the Boston Red Sox.

This is the signature Adrian Beltre(With the Boston Red Sox) slugging a ball from down on one knee swing

Adrian is famous for this, and it is always a neat thing to see when it happens!
Adrian is famous for this, and it is always a neat thing to see when it happens!

Adrian Beltre's year with the Boston Red Sox

Theo Epstein plainly stated he'd not acquired Adrian Beltre for his offensive abilities, but rather, for his amazing defensive abilities. Who wouldn't want a human vacuum cleaner over on the hot corner? Oh Adrian has led whatever league he was playing in in errors before, but this is mostly deceptive, as Adrian is forever able to put a glove on a ball that lesser third basemen wouldn't have been able to touch. So in essence, sometimes Beltre gets an error simply for being better than the rest, i.e., getting his glove into a play other men wouldn't have been able to.
Adrian had a terrific year with the Red Sox, he led the team with a nice and high .321 batting average. He tied David Ortiz for the team lead in runs batted in, and he led the entire Major Leagues in doubles. Adrian is built like a horse, he's only five feet eleven inches tall, but he weighs two hundred and twenty very very solid pounds. He broke ribs of two different Red Sox outfielders that season in collisions while chasing a ball.

Another of Adrian Beltre's famous 'knee shots' with our Texas Rangers

Usually when Beltre goes down on one knee he's hitting a curve ball, and hitting it far.
Usually when Beltre goes down on one knee he's hitting a curve ball, and hitting it far.Source

Adrian Beltre, Captain of the Texas Rangers

Now I'm a North Texan, and I'm a lifelong Texas Rangers fan. To me, Adrian Beltre will always be a Texas Ranger, and there's no doubt the front office of the team wants Adrian to play in Texas with the Rangers until he retires. He's our team captain, and as is so often said, the beating heart of our team. Adrian Beltre has been such a staple at third base for our Texas Rangers I literally had to look up who'd been playing the position before him. It was a forgettable person, I assure you. Beltre's presence is unforgettable, and how can anyone replace a guy like Beltre?
He's the most loved and respected member of our team. That's saying a lot, we've got people like Josh Hamilton, Prince Fielder, and Cole 'Hollywood' Hamels, just to name a few. Beltre is the team captain, and he's now being called a freak of naturebecause he can seemingly perform even better when he's playing with a painful injury. How does he do that? Beltre, I think, just likes to show people how much of a man he really is.
Beltre has hit 30 or more home runs in three different seasons with the Rangers. He has hit for an average of over .300 three different years with the Rangers, and twice he's knocked in more than a hundred runs. His dazzling defense brings back, to us, memories of the great Buddy Bell. Adrian lives for the highlight reels, and Beltre has been our most clutch player in the field and at bat since Rusty Greer.
Adrian Beltre seems to live to play baseball. You can easily see this isn't some job to him, he's not playing for the money, he's being paid very very well, but you can't really fake the sort of joy you see from Adrian on the field in most every game, even when he's playing hurt, as he so very often does. Adrian is a guy who could make the Baseball Hall Of Fame for his defense alone, but he's got over 400 home runs now, and some years left to play. He wins golden gloves and other fielding awards regularly, and makes it all seem so damned easy that it can be either inspiring or discouraging to anyone wanting to become a third baseman at any level of play. He's so inspiring that it doesn't seem possible the Texas Rangers would have made it close to that world series they went to without Beltre, much less any of the other playoff spots they earned. The man will literally risk an injury to his testicles by not wearing a cup just so he can be more flexible on the field - that's dedication, and talent can never be faked. Going into 2016 we've got Adrian at full health, and the Texas Rangers are set to race to the playoffs, Adrian Beltre will be smiling most of the way, and remember, if you think you're going to touch his head, you'd better be Elvis Andrus. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Giancarlo Stanton and the Monster Home Runs

Giancarlo Stanton

Giancarlo Stanton - the man is known for his power bat

In case you're wondering, I'll get to one thing right off, so you will know. You pronounce Giancarlo as 'John Carlo.' At least that is how I hear it pronounced by baseball analysts and color commentary folks.
Giancarlo Stanton is a big deal. Very big. He is six foot and six inches tall. He weighs in at two hundred and forty very sculpted pounds. The guy looks like a sculpture chiseled away from granite. He's the type of person people like to photograph for weight lifting or men's health magazines. That stuff could probably make him a career in and of itself, but posing for photographs isn't Giancarlo's chief source of revenue. He's a Major League Baseball player, and he is chiefly known as one of the guys, if not THE guy, who hits the longest home runs in Major League Baseball today.
Giancarlo's roof, or ceiling in Major League Baseball is very high. It will surprise exactly nobody if he hits fifty home runs this year. Or maybe it will surprise someone. Big men with muscles all over the place, men like Giancarlo Stanton, they tend to get hurt or injured fairly often. I used to think this was due entirely to the steroids people like Juan Gonzalez or Jose Canseco were using all the time. This isn't always true though, big guys with big muscles just injure themselves. Absolutely nobody suspects Giancarlo of using steroids, the steroid slugger days are over now.

An example of the Giancarlo Stanton physique photo


Giancarlo Stanton - The highest paid professional athlete in history

Sometimes those MLB uniforms trick your eyes a little. You see Prince Fielder and you think he is maybe fat. Oh, he's large, but the most of it is extreme muscle on a very big frame. You might see Giancarlo Stanton, and because he's six foot six, he might look thin to you on the television. The uniforms can be deceptive.
Another thing, Giancarlo is not such a common name, but it is a cool name. Maybe it was just me, but I had assumed Giancarlo was one of the many Latin American players in the Major Leagues. What I mean to say here is he's from California, he isn't from Central America.
Giancarlo was born in 1989 in Tujunga, California. He went to high school in Sherman Oaks though, and there he was a three sport athlete. He got a scholarship to Tulane to play baseball, and Big League baseball fans are all pleased he pursued that sport instead of any others. He was dang sure offered scholarships to play football for some big time universities out West.
Giancarlo wasn't drafted so highly. He was a 76th round draft choice in 2007. Racial heritage isn't much important to serious sports fans, or at least it isn't to me. It is important to some folks though, so we'll state what Wikipedia provides here, Giancarlo is mostly of Irish and African American blood, but one of his great-grandmothers was Puerto Rican.
That thing about Giancarlo being drafted in the 76th round? That's not impressive? Well, suffice it to say those high draft picks don't always pan out so well as lower round picks, like the 76th round picks do. Giancarlo Stanton is the man with the biggest professional sports contract in the history of professional sports right now. On November the 14th of 2014, Giancarlo signed to play with the Miami Marlins for the next thirteen years. 
How much does Giancarlo Stanton make? $325 million over 13 years, you do the math

Major League Baseball is a big money game

Major League Baseball is a huge business. It brings lots of joy to lots of people, and I am certainly one of them. Nolan Ryan was the first guy in professional sports to make a million dollars a year, and that was way back in 1980 when the Houston Astros signed him to a one million dollar contract. People cried and moaned and complained that nobody could possibly play a game and be worth that kind of money. Well, everyone is welcome to their own opinions, apparently the people with the money to pay out disagree with the nay saying folk, and of course, when someone can throw a ball with triple digits on the radar gun, or someone can hit a ball 500 feet from home plate, that kind of thing puts people in the stadium, gets people watching on the television, and sells a lot of merchandise.
Another thing the people who complain about sports stars salaries don't do, is have the money to do good deeds with. These major stars, these people do lots of good with that money, good that may have never been done were they to not have it. It is wrong to just assume that because someone is so wealthy they hoard the money and someone far away is starving or something for it. But there you are, when you see such amazing wealth as can be seen here in the USA, and you don't have much of it, you tend to assume the worst. We could try and see it the other way around too, if we cared to.

Giancarlo Stanton as a prospect in the minor leagues

Giancarlo Stanton's minor league career

Stanton didn't spend too long in the minor leagues. He dominated the minor leagues. He won a lot of awards for his 2008 season in the Marlins farm system. He's spank 39 home runs for the Greensboro Grasshoppers. That's right, the team was called the Grasshoppers. Hard to call a man who hits 39 home runs a grasshopper, isn't it? Well, it is hard to call him that for long.
Stanton was invited to the Marlins spring training camp in 2009. This was done mostly as a sort of award, or recognition for his progress. In Major League Baseball, when a young guy is invited to his first spring training camp with the big club, it isn't meant as something to say the team is ready to bring them up right away, it is more meant to say, 'hey, we see how good you are doing, come have a taste of life with the Big League team.'
On May the sixth in 2010, Stanton gave lots of people a taste of what he had to offer. He was playing for the Jacksonville Suns, still in the minors. The game was in Montgomery, Alabama, against the Montgomery Biscuits. Giancarlo hit the ball completely over the scoreboard in the stadium. They don't have the precision home run tracking in place in such a stadium, but everyone knows the ball went at least 500 feet. Some estimates put the total distance further than that. Phillip Wellman, a professional baseball coach for the Marlins farm system made a comment that Stanton looked like a 15 year old playing against 8 year old, that is to say, he looked like a high school kid hitting in a t-ball sized field.

Giancarlo Stanton - that ball went a long, long ways from home plate

Giancarlo Stanton, Major League Slugger

Stanton was called up to the Marlins Major League Team on June 6th, 2010. He made his debut two days later, and he was only 20 years old. He was surely very excited, and the pressure didn't phase him any, he went 3 for 5 in his first game.
His first home run was a grand slam. From here on out the list of firsts for Stanton are rather long, and tedious, and one can always use Wikipedia for such things. What happened in 2010 was Giancarlo Stanton got compared to a lot of very established and some legendary persons a lot of times by a lot of persons watching.
For 2010, Stanton's average home run distance was 399.6 feet. So his average home run was nearly the depth of the typical center field fence. One of the newer measurements in Major League Baseball is exit velocity, the velocity of the ball off of the hitter's bat. Stanton's exit velocity is something which gets discussed quite a lot, and this is because he's typically got the highest exit velocity in the entire Major Leagues. So in 2010, his average home run exit velocity was 104.3 miles per hour. If that was easy, everyone would do it, and sign 300 million dollar contracts.

Giancarlo Stanton, in the outfield

Giancarlo Stanton in the outfield

Mr. Stanton is not just a batter, of course, he plays in the National League. He's a more than competent fielder. He's a good glove man, and can run well for a big man, he can chase down a fly ball, running a long ways to do it, provided he reads the ball right off the bat.
He's also a gifted thrower. In his earlier years he was averaging ten outfield assists a year, and that stat translates as runners gunned down from the outfield. The consensus in Major League Baseball is that 1. The Marlins have the best outfield in the Big Leagues, and 2. Stanton's defensive prowess is steadily improving. Generally speaking, he's still a young man after five seasons in the MLB, and scary though it may be, he's not in his prime years yet, and won't be this season either.

Giancarlo Stanton and the epic home runs

Giancarlo Stanton hits amazing home runs. He hits home runs that don't just clear the outfield fence, but travel so far past the fence that people can hardly believe what they just saw with their own two eyes. He hits the kind of home runs that Canseco and McGwire became famous for hitting, but Giancarlo proves you don't need steroids to do that. Canseco, McGwire, those guys didn't need those steroids either, but they probably didn't realize that then. Maybe they do now.
What was official long ago, maybe still, was that Mickey Mantle hit the longest home run ever. The distance was over 560 feet, but everyone now knows the ball was crudely measured. It doesn't matter if Mantle could hit a ball that far, or not. People hit balls that travel 500 feet. It happens, but mostly not during games. Also, there is typically some stadium out there that prevents a ball from ever finishing its arc of travel. So you're always left to speculate how far the thing would have went were it not for the damned restaurant the ball hit, or the sixth level of Skydome deck, or whatnot.
There are many other players in Major League Baseball who are bigger or stronger, or at least the equals of Giancarlo Stanton. Who can ever say who is stronger than who, really? Stronger how, exactly, is always the question. Nelson Cruz, at one time, was thought to be the strongest player in baseball. He was busted for performance enhancing drugs, and then he came back as a better player than he had been before, but that's back to the 'you don't need those drugs' bit.
Bo Jackson will be a legend in baseball for a long time to come. Bo knows long home runs, he's not forgotten them. We love the stories, we people who read or write such things as this page. So here's a list of the longest home runs from 2015. Yep, Giancarlo Stanton won the tale of the tape last year in home run distance. Thing always is, you first have to hit the ball, it only matters how big and strong you are, and how wonderfully mechanical your swing is after you've first hit the ball. Stanton has a short and compact swing. Maybe Joey Gallo can pick up some swing tips from Stanton.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Aroldis Chapman - the Hardest Throwing Pitcher in Major League Baseball

People act like Chapman is on the decline. He had far and away his highest strikeout rate per 9 innings in 2018. His 32 saves isn't much off his best per season, and really, he's never been the guy with the most saves in baseball. He's always been the guy with the scariest arm in baseball. You can bet on more of that this year, and as time goes on? He may become the best closer in the MLB. 

Albertín Aroldis Chapman de la Cruz - the hardest throwing man in Major League Baseball

Aroldis Chapman - he can hit 100 miles per hour any time he takes the mound

So you are enamored with the idea of a man who can throw a baseball faster than any other man alive? Maybe you're only interested in just who it is who's got the single most powerful, most explosive throwing arm in the entirety of Major League Baseball. Well, we've a definite answer for you here. Since his debut in the big leagues, there's not been a solitary soul who can compete in the world of fastest fastballs with Aroldis Chapman.
Baseball is a game where statistics are analyzed to no end. Statistically speaking, it is a point of fact that in this modern age of high grade digital marvels and technologically superior equipment, Aroldis Chapman threw the single fastest pitch recorded with these newfangled devices. He's got the single most powerful arm in Major League Baseball today. Though it may be highly debatable as to whether or not his singular physical and freakish talent is comparable to those amazing players of years gone by, you can't dispute the facts that today, here and now, nobody can truly compete on the velocity level with Aroldis Chapman.

Aroldis Chapman delivers another blazing fastball

The age of the closer. This is brand new stuff, and Aroldis Chapman has the scariest stuff there is

So far as the history of baseball goes, the position of 'closer' is relatively a new one. In the old days the guy who started pitching the game was damned well expected to finish pitching that game. Those days are so gone and done with one wonders how they ever existed in the first place. These days a starter, and a reliable starter in Major League Baseball is almost always thought of a guy who is going to go out there for six strong innings. Six innings of keeping the team in a position to where they can win. That's it. That's all. If the starter is still going strong and hasn't thrown over an already determined amount of pitches after six good enough innings, then the manager and the pitching coach will at least nod at each other to agree the guy can go back out for the seventh inning. After seven innings? Oh hell, now we're really getting stressed out about it all. Are we pushing our starter too hard? Can he take the work load? What happens to his self esteem if he gets bombed in the seventh innings?
You see, the game has changed. Starters, and I do mean all of them, are making several million dollars a year. That money doesn't fall from the sky. The team has to pay it, and a contract has already been guaranteed. You don't go messing around with the arm of someone you've invested millions upon millions of dollars in - in the hopes that he's good for several years. Hell no. You go to the bullpen, and if you aren't already in the bullpen with the arms by the sixth inning, then you damned sure are by the seventh inning. The team has a guy who's slotted in as the seventh inning guy. They've got a sixth inning guy too. So why the hell would a starter go to the eight inning ever? Ninth inning? Get out of here. You're crazy. Roger Clemens retired a long time ago.
This is the age of the closer, my friends, and the time is now for a man like Aroldis Chapman, but he wasn't anything like the first of the closers. Hell no. There were closers back in the days when I started watching baseball even. Bruce Sutter. Bruce was the first big time closer I recall. I'm told that early cave men baseball leagues had someone they called Goose Gossage, they found some markings that resembled him on a wall in some cave in France, I think.
The salient point I'm trying to make here is that the position of closer is relatively new. It is at least as new as the idea that a black dude could be President in the USA. Aroldis Chapman is a black dude, the scariest fastball throwing one you'd ever seen or heard of. He even makes Goose Gossage seem small, in terms of fastballs, but only maybe. You know, these newfangled radar detectors are, well, new. Yes, they're not so new, don't try to confuse me here. The new ones are more accurate than they used to be. When Bob Feller was pitching they used a motorcycle to try to time his pitches. Now think on that a minute, will ya?
Well, time went one. It's always doing such like, that damned thing we call time. There came about a fella they called Dennis Eckersley, and weren't that a fella? Big funny mustache, that one, but then again, that dude they called 'Goose,' well, he had one of those things too. Well, then it so happened that there closing business was just up and done. That Dennis Eckersley guy had been a starter, and a damned fine one too. The the gods of baseball visited him in a dream or something, told him to just go on out there to the ball field and play ball, but only when the game was tight, in the late innings. People thought he was crazy. Some still likely do. I don't blame no one for fearing the lord and such, especially when it comes to something as sacred as baseball.
But things got scarier still. There was soon more and more of them there pitchers that wanted to only pitch in tight spots. Damnit! We're in a tight spot. Best call that one scary guy out in the bullpen, and the lord sent Mariano Rivera to the damned Yankees, and so here we are now, in the modern times - with Aroldis Chapman.
Now it's not a good thing to forget someone, now is it? One thing I know about baseball is that nothing is ever forgotten. That's a good thing, right? Sure it is, young feller, and so we'll mention the great Lee Smith right here and now. He came after that Gossage feller, and was here before that Eckersley feller took right ahead on and done changed the game and all. Joe Nathan? Hell, Joe Nathan is still not retired, God bless Joe too, he's over 40 years old and still wants to come back from major arm surgery, and play some late innings ball. God loves a man who tries for what he loves. Don't worry your head none over Joe Nathan, he's second only to Mariano Rivera now, ain't he? Except that there Chapman fella might outdo 'em all.

Aroldis Chapman - the man with the 105 mile per hour fastball

The Cuban Missile - Aroldis Chapman

Say what ever it is you wish in this world of free speech about an economic system. The facts are Marxism always leads to a ruined economy. Aroldis Chapman knows this, he defected from Cuba to come to the United States where he has the opportunity to compete at the very highest level there is. He also makes more money here.
He was already a professional baseball player there at home in Cuba. His father was a boxing trainer. So it would be unwise for anyone to ever get upset and charge the mound to throw punches with Aroldis. He's been taught from his youth to punch men in the head. Anyone who can whip an arm into a 105 mile per hour throwing motion can probably break your nose with a fist fairly rapidly too, wouldn't you reckon?
Playing baseball in Cuba, Aroldis was originally a first baseman. His coaches noticed he had a much better than average throwing arm though, so they coaxed him on over to the middle of the infield to stand on the hill, and throw pitches. He did quite well, as I am sure you can imagine. Baseball is increasingly an international sport, and if you are truly a baseball fan you applaud this and hope it increases international more and more. Aroldis played for the Cuban national team in 2007 at the Pan American games, and in 2009 in the World Baseball Classic.
Aroldis had attempted and failed to defect from Cuba in 2008. He had to meet with the president of Cuba, Raul Castro himself, and so his 2008 baseball activities were lacking, as Aroldis was being punished for wanting a better life for himself. He would have certainly been involved in the 2008 Summer Olympics were it not for his failed defection. Nevertheless, Aroldis dreamed of a better life playing Major League Baseball in the USA. When the Cuban national team was in The Netherlands, Aroldis managed to escape quite easily. He petitioned Major League Baseball to be granted the status of a free agent, and was promptly drafted by the Cincinnati Reds.

Aroldis Chapman and the 100 mile per hour fastballs

The ability to throw a baseball at over one hundred miles per hour is a freakish thing. That ability is only useful if you can throw the ball in the strike zone, and Chapman can do it too. He's hardly the only guy who can do this, but there's no mistaking the matter here, he can do it more frequently than anyone else in Major League Baseball can, and he has recorded what is officially now the fastest pitch in Major League Baseball history. No, you can not declare him to have a better arm than Nolan Ryan, Satchel Paige, Bob Feller, or any other of the great pitchers known for high velocity. Wasn't Ryan documented? Yes he was, and with far inferior equipment than is used today. Nolan Ryan was in his 30's before primitive radar guns started appearing at a few stadiums. Nowadays we have super technological radar guns at every single stadium on every single pitch. So Chapman has the best or most powerful arm, velocity wise, in the Major Leagues today, and his arm is probably as good or possibly even better than the great arms of years gone by.
His 105 miles per hour pitch can be seen on Youtube all day long. Chapman throws more pitches, or a higher percentage of them at 100 miles per hour or more than does anyone else we know of. There have been a lot of other guys who could also do similar things, but they've not lasted as well as Chapman has. Again, throwing a baseball that hard isn't a natural thing. There's hardly anything more unnatural at all. It is a violent physical motion, that throwing a ball that fast. Most pitchers who do this will destroy their arms before long. Oh hey, Chapman throws a hell of a slider too.
A tall and lanky left handed man with a one hundred mile per hour fastball and a ninety mile per hour slider? Does this ring any bells? It certainly should. Though Chapman is nearly short compared to Randy Johnson, Johnson and Chapman share the same exact approach to pitching. When you come into the game as a closer, you get the opportunity to air it out, and throw as fast as you can. When you are a starter you do not throw your very hardest fastballs at all times, else you'll be plum out of gas before the 5th inning. This is why the closers like Chapman get to really show off with the radar guns.

Aroldis Chapman in New York.

Aroldis Chapman with the New York Yankees in 2016

Aroldis Chapman has been terrifying late inning hitters in the Major Leagues for five straight years now. He's made the All Star team three straight years. Going into 2016 he'll be starting the season with a 30 game suspension. He's being made an example of for a domestic violence disturbance, and he knows this. Chapman accepts the suspension and his own wrongdoing, but do please note here, no one was hurt at all in the incident. Major League Baseball is not the trashy NFL, and the big executives plan to keep MLB classy.
Chapman is now a New York Yankee, and he'll be terrifying and striking out lots of new hitters in the American League. The only folks who've seen him before are folks traded from the National League and or the players who have faced Chapman in the All Star games. As a dedicated follower of the Texas Rangers, I can hardly wait to root against Chapman when the Yankees face the Rangers. If Chapman strikes out every Ranger hitter he sees, well, I'll applaud him for it, and appreciate his freakish and terrific talents.
Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer of all time. This statement isn't hyperbole, it is based on pure statistics. He's recorded more saves by far than has any other pitcher. We do note here the role of bullpen closer is a new one, but even so, Rivera's record will be tough to ever top. The Yankees acquired Chapman to be the man for them, and he'll be that man too.

Aroldis Chapman and that amazing fastball of his

Now the 106 miles per hour pitch Chapman threw to Andrew McCutchen is disputed. The accuracy of that gun is what is disputed. No one disputes the 105 mile per hour pitch Chapman threw the previous season. Baseball is a world of statistics and measurements and so there are always disputes, or asterisks, etc.
Chapman is in his prime. It is a good thing, he'll be prime time all the time in New York City. Athletes are thought to enter their prime performance years at 27 years of age. Chapman is 28 going into 2016. Some people worry he's lost something of his amazing arm. This is unsatisfactory because Chapman seems to be focusing more on throwing strikes now. He is certainly walking fewer hitters than he used to. He's also averaging, by far, the highest velocity in the entire Major Leagues. His fastball averages over one hundred miles per hour. Read that again, his fastball averages over 100 miles per hour, at 100.3. It may be years before there is anyone to compare him to, as the starters have to hold something back in reserve. One season Chapman threw the sixty two fastest pitches thrown the entire season. Those pitches averaged 103.92 miles per hour.
While Chapman's fastball gets all the glory, the facts are his slider is one of the best there has ever been too. Yes, he can throw his slider at over ninety miles per hour, and yes, the velocity is what helps to make it so very hard to hit. His slider looks every bit as devastating as Randy Johnson's or Steve Carlton's did. Literally, despite the amazing velocity of the fastball, more batters swing and miss at Chapman's slider than they do the fastball. So even though Chapman has the fastest fastball in all of Major League Baseball, it is only his second best pitch.
As it is, Chapman doesn't need anything else, but he will age, we all do - and he'll need to develop another pitch. Then again, he may age like Nolan Ryan, and as a closer, he'll never truly need another pitch. This is my hope for Aroldis Chapman, the man with the best arm in the Major Leagues today, and possibly ever. Thanks for reading.

Aroldis Chapman's strikeout rate

With two superhuman pitches, Aroldis Chapman strikes out big league batters at a rate barely ever seen. Though throwing a baseball over one hundred miles per hour is a violent thing physically, Aroldis Chapman's pitching delivery is very smooth and mechanically sound. His pitching motion is flawless, and so there is no great worry that he'll injure his arm.
For his career to date, Aroldis Chapman is averaging 15.4 strikeouts per 9 innings. In 2014 he averaged a tremendous 17.7 strikeouts per 9 innings.

Noah Syndergaard, Rising Power Pitching Star

Hoping for a big comeback season in 2019


Noah Syndergaard, starting for a World Series team in his rookie season

Of course they call him Thor, the man looks more Scandinavian than half the cast of the history channels cable show about vikings. Noah Syndergaard, however, is a Texan. He's also a man who, despite it only being his first ever season in Major League Baseball, helped pitch his team into the World Series.
Noah Syndergaard didn't go it alone in the Mets rotation. There were some other fine arms there, arms with just a little more experience. Heck, he wasn't even the only long hair hippie looking rocket arm in the Mets rotation, there was also, of course, Jacob deGrom.
What seems certain is that Noah Syndergaard was the biggest human in the Mets rotation in the year of 2015, the year they went to the World Series, but lost to Kansas City. How big a fella is he? Well, he's six foot and six inches, and at least two hundred and forty pounds. No, being huge doesn't guarantee that a man will have a rocket launcher for a throwing arm, but in the case of Noah Syndergaard, well, he has one of those.
The big man can swing a big bat too. Noah Syndergaard hit a home run in 2015. He even batted a very respectable, for a pitcher, .209.

Noah Syndergaard, a big man with a big swing

Noah Syndergaard, and the one hundred mile an hour fastball

Noah Syndergaard hitting a home run might be an advantageous thing for the Mets, it might be something that happens more frequently than we'd ever hope, but if it does happen it means one thing only - that Noah Syndergaard is in the game pitching. The course was set long ago, this guy is going to be a pitcher. His large size makes him every man scouting Major League Baseball's dream. Someone that big, with that much of an arm, ought to be able to throw those high 90s heaters all night long, and all season long.
The big time fastball Syndergaard brings to the game is legit. He's been clocked at 100 miles per hour on many occasions, and so, he's forever going to be on that list with others from Texas who hit triple digits, Roger Clemens, Nolan Ryan, Kerry Wood, people like that. Syndergaard has come into games as a reliever for the Mets, and when that happened he had the opportunity to really air it out with the fastballs. Such a situation brings the inevitable comparison to the nearly incomparable Aroldis Chapman, but Syndergaard can hit triple digits well enough in a game he starts.
He has terrific pitching mechanics, and with his large size, we hope to see him become a truly legendary pitcher.
He has terrific pitching mechanics, and with his large size, we hope to see him become a truly legendary pitcher.

Noah Syndergaard - growing up in North Texas

Like Noah Syndergaard, I am a Texan. I love Texas, but I don't care anything about football. Texas is a football loving state, there's nothing to be done about it. You can bet young Noah Syndergaard, as a kid who didn't pursue football, got some verbal abuse about it all. He's so damn big, why doesn't he play football? Well, obviously, football isn't nearly so smart a sport as is baseball. Noah was apparently a more brainy kid, he picked baseball, and in baseball a gifted athlete can have a much longer and more prosperous career, and without all the stupidity and head injuries you get with football.
Noah was always a big kid. This shouldn't surprise anyone. Little league fields may be small, but Noah hit a ball over a little league outfield fence when he was just seven years old. Me? I never hit one over any fence. Noah Syndergaard grew up watching the Texas Rangers baseball team. He literally hated the Dallas Cowboys, and his culture's infatuation with them. This is about the point where me and Noah are likely to stop being compared, but you should know, if you are in Texas, and you are a white guy, folks are forever going to just assume you're as wrapped up in that Dallas Cowboys junk as they are. I was always kinda insulted by that, myself. Why would someone assume I cared about that sort of nonsense? Indeed, Noah felt the same way about it.
Every time I hear about Noah Syndergaard in the local Dallas and Fort Worth media, they talk about how Noah Syndergaard attended Mansfield Legacy High School. It must be a school the people are damned proud of, they make it sound like the kind of place you have to have money or high, very high scores to attend if you're a youngster. Anyway, when Noah was in his junior year in high school, he hit a growth spurt, and grew to a man of six feet and six inches tall.
So while still in high school Syndergaard could reach back and hurl a ball 96 miles per hour. He still didn't get a lot of attention from the baseball scouts, they were probably looking for cheaper deals in Central America. Noah decided to go to Dallas Baptist University, and there is where he had planned to play ball.

Noah Syndergaard with the Lansing Lugnuts in 2012


Noah Syndergaard's minor league career

When the 2010 Major League Draft came around, Noah was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays, and given a nice large signing bonus to drop his whole Dallas Baptist University idea. For $600,000 dollars, you'd change your mind too, probably. Noah would spend a couple seasons in the minor leagues with the Blue Jays, and then he'd be traded to New York.
He was now set for the biggest stage there is in baseball, playing in New York City. He'd be rated as the Mets' 3rd best prospect. In 2013 he made the All Star futures game, a game of the best prospects in the minor leagues. In 2014 Noah would spend the year in Las Vegas with the Mets triple A team. He did well, but his earned run average was sort of high. The Mets weren't in a big hurry, they trusted their team advisers.

Big Noah Syndergaard with the New York Mets in 2015

Noah Syndergaard with the New York Mets in 2015

Noah would make his Major League debut in 2015 with the Mets on the 12th day of May at historic Wrigley Field in Chicago. The same month, he'd show he can swing the bat too, and hit a home run. Noah Syndergaard is a weight lifting man, and as Nolan Ryan demonstrated, lifting weights can prolong your career. Noah is just getting started though, but we hope he sticks to his weight training discipline.
July would see Noah pitch a game where he struck out 13 batters. In August, he'd share a National League Player of the Week designation. He would finish his rookie season with a winning record of 9 wins and 7 loses, and post a nice earned run average of 3.24 runs per game. With his blazing fastballs, curve, slider, and circle change-up, he'd strike out 166 batters in 150 innings pitched. I suspect Noah will strike out over 200 batters this year in 2016, but he could likely do more, if the team allows him to throw many more innings than last year. These days in Major League Baseball the teams aren't letting their starters take on much of an innings workload, they've got too specialized a bullpen for all of that, and they want to protect the longevity of the young men's arms.
Another of the exciting things including Noah in the 2015 regular season was the night Syndergaard faced off with fellow Texan, and super ace Clayton Kershaw. The night was a dream for those who closely follow Texans in Major League Baseball. Syndergaard matched Kershaw that night, and saw, as we all did, that he can be as good as the guy who's won so many accolades. You can also bet the Mansfield Legacy folks were ecstatic to see there guy standing toe to toe with the man from Highland Park.
The New York Mets won the National League Eastern division last year, and so they advanced to the playoffs, and there was Noah Syndergaard, the rookie starter. Noah got to start game 2 of the National League Division Series. Noah pitched well, but he did get the loss in that game. No matter that, the Mets won the series and advanced to the National League Championship Series - and again, Noah got a chance to shine, but this time he came in as a relief pitcher first, then got a start later.
The Mets won the National League, and advanced to the World Series. Noah Syndergaard, as a huge man physically, and with the ability to throw triple digit fastballs, he knows how intimidating he is, and he knows this favors him. He quickly ran up the tempers of the opposition in the World Series by throwing high heat inside to the batters of the Kansas City Royals. That's baseball though, and if you can't take the heat, then maybe you should let someone else handle the kitchen. Noah Syndergaard won his World Series start in his rookie season. Surely the 2016 season will be a good one for the man from Mansfield. The stars of Texas will surely shine down upon him. Thanks for reading.