Blogging About Baseball

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Archive for January 2010

Know Your Prospects: Daniel Mahoney, RHP, Florida Marlins

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When Daniel Mahoney took the mound for the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s Newport Gulls during the summer of 2008, the serious fans got out of the line for hotdogs and popcorn and cemented themselves as close to the field’s barrier fence as possible.

In a league full of jocular boys (the NECBL is often many young players’ first exposure to wooden bats), Mahoney exuded a captivating maturity and electricity withheld only for those with serious aspirations.

With his gloved hand tucked tightly against his chest, Mahoney would straightforward charge from the left field bullpen. He’d reach the mound, mutter a few words to himself, and tuck in his necklace. And then he’d warmup. But his warmups weren’t warmups; they were serious battles. Steely eyed and focused, he’d never take his eye off the catcher’s mitt, not even for a second.

Pop. Pop. Pop.

Buck O’Neil may have said it about hitters, but it’s true. You really can hear a difference.

It was the first time I saw this unfold when I thought to myself: This guy’s something special. He hadn’t even pitched to a single batter, but I felt some kind of instinctual revelation. And I was confused and puzzled and baffled. It shouldn’t be this easy to pick out a needle out of a haystack. But sometimes your gut is right.

Mahoney, a 6’4″ righthanded flamethrower, was named the NECBL’s top professional prospect at the end of the season. Originally groomed as a starter during his freshman year at the University of Connecticut in 2008, Mahoney was moved to the team’s bullpen in 2009, a direct product of the success he had in the NECBL. In 28 innings that year, he struck out 26, walked 10, and posted a modest ERA of 4.16.

During the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft, Mahoney was selected by the Florida Marlins in the fourth round, 128th overall.

Mahoney’s first season was, admittedly, not a success. He was converted back into a starter and during his first professional stint with the Jamestown Jammers of the short-season New York-Penn League, he posted a 1-6 record with an ERA a tick over 8.00. In early August, Mahoney hit the team’s 60-day disabled list to undergo Tommy John surgery.

Over the past six months, Blogging About Baseball has received a lot of hits from people looking for information on Mahoney. For a fourth round pick, there’s really not much known about him. Luckily, I had the opportunity to interview Mahoney earlier this week as he begins the long road to recovery…

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Sometimes all you need is a ‘lil shot in the arm…

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Or maybe, in this case, it should be shot in the ass.

I’ve spent a month away from blogging. In that time, I’ve started a new nine-to-five job and a brand, spanking new roommate moved in. Needless to say, it’s been hard to find the time to write. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t wanted to.┬áSo, with that said, pardon me if I’m a little rusty…

Mark McGwire. That’s who we’re here to talk about. Today, his admission to using steroids was the lightning bolt that came out of the sky, hit me right in the ass, and made me fire up Blogging About Baseball once again.

Maybe I’m ahead of the curve, but I believe I discovered Mark McGwire was juicing sometime in 1998. And if it wasn’t in ’98, then it was sure as hell in 2005 when, during his testimony in front of the House Government Reform Committee, he famously and repeatedly stated, “I’m not here to talk about the past.”

Still, I’m truly shocked about the upwelling of genuine emotion his heretofore inevitable admission has brought out of me.

I’m amazingly pissed. I mean really, really, really, f’ing pissed.

And there’s one reason: McGwire, along with fellow cheat, Sammy Sosa, broke Roger Maris’ decades old record for most homeruns (61) in a full season in 1998. And they didn’t just break it. They pulled their pants down and defecated on it. And then they set it on fire and put the fire out by urinating on it. In essence, they opened the door for Barry Bonds (who I will only dedicated this one sentence because I just might lose it) who put that crap in a flaming paper bag and put it on Roger Maris’ doorstep in 2001.

That’s disrespect. If you know you’re doing something questionable and that something could possibly ruin everything the very game you supposedly love and revere stands for, you just don’t do that.

The integrity of the game. Tarnished.

The legendary records of the game. Tarnished.

Now, I’ve come to the realization that the game I love has never been played perfectly. Through the centuries we’ve seen pitchers throw spitballs. We’ve seen signs getting stolen in the most ridiculous of ways. We’ve seen batters cork their bats. We’ve seen guys hopped up on greenies. If there’s been an avenue to exploit, baseball players have found it.

But this is my generation of baseball and I’m entitled to all the tunnel vision I want. Except that I don’t truly think this is tunnel vision.

I don’t think we will ever look at those cheating tactics with the same disdain as we do steroids. And I don’t think future fans will be able to turn the same blind eye as we did to amphetamines and corked bats and scuffed balls to steroids.

The gains that both pitchers and hitters earned from sticking needles in their ass was (and possibly is) so exponentially and quantifiably higher than any of those other means of one-upmanship.

Brady Anderson hit 50 homeruns in 1996. Before that season, his season high was 21. After that season, he never hit more than 24. He was the team’s leadoff batter. Just think about how f’ing mind boggling that is.

And then we can think about guys like Luis Gonzalez (57 homeruns in 2001) or Greg Vaughn (50 in 1998) who are a little less glaring.

Every statistic from the 1990’s is skewed…or is it screwed?

If Bonds, McGwire and Sosa had not set any records in the 1990’s or 2000’s, we would be able to forget this whole catastrophe. In 15 years, it would have been like none of this had happened, another greenie epidemic, another stolen sign debacle. If only Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa had done exceptionally well, given all of the records a spirited chase and fallen short.

If only…