2014 Goals for Cole’s Hot Corner

Last year was my first year writing this blog, and I had a blast!! I got to meet a bunch of new people because of it and had some amazing experiences.  I didn’t get to post as much as I would have liked, but I still tried to do as much as possible, I had three interviews with some of the top prospects in baseball, wrote some opinion articles, a movie review and a recap of a game that I had attended.  I would have liked to make way more posts as I had previously said, but I’m a teenager in high school with a very busy life with friends, school and, of course, sports.  Here are my goals for this blog for the 2014 season:

  1. Make posts for at least half of the games that I attend.  Last year I attended about 30 games, and I only posted about one of them!  Even if the posts are really quick, I would just like to inform you about what happened.
  2. Interview at least one major league player.  I’m sure that you can tell, my favorite thing about blogging is interviewing the players.  I love meeting them, and it brings me just that much closer to the game I love.  I think it would be super cool if I could interview at least one big leaguer this year.
  3. Interview at least three minor league players.  That’s the amount that I interviewed last year, but it is tough for me to get all the way out to Beloit, because it is very time consuming and considering I don’t have my driver’s license yet it’s that much harder!
  4. I am a huge autograph and memorabilia fan, as shown from my first post.  This year I would like to average 7 autographs per game.  Last year I only got shutout once, and I typically got about 10 autographs every game.
  5. Finally, I would like to finish in the Top 100 mlbblogs.  I know that this goal may be a long shot, but you never know and I hope to have your support!

Here’s to a great 2014 and I hope you will all enjoy my blog this year!

Cole’s Hot Corner 2013 Awards

Here are the picks for the First Annual Cole’s Hot Corner Awards:

NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks

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This year, Paul Goldschmidt had a breakout year.  He entered the season in his second full season with the club.  He put up beyond impressive numbers, leading the NL in HR(36), RBI(125), OPS(.551), OPS+(160) and SLG(.952).  Paul Goldschmidt hands down had an amazing season that impressed all of baseball.  He caught the eyes of many by hitting multiple walk-off home runs, making great plays in the field and always putting on a great overall performance. Even though Goldschmidt didn’t lead his team to the playoffs, he was the most valuable player to any team in the National League.

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2013 25 ARI NL 160 710 602 103 182 36 3 36 125 15 7 99 145 .302 .401 .551 .952 160

Honorable Mentions: Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates; Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves

AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit Tigers

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Miguel Cabrera didn’t win the Triple Crown this year, but he still dominated the league.  He lead the league in AVG(.348), OBP(.442), SLG(.636) and OPS(1.078).  Cabrera lead his Tigers, along with Max Scherzer, to the Playoffs.  Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander both were in slumps this year, so Cabrera and Scherzer had to carry the team on their backs to take them to the playoffs.  Cabrera may have of had one of his last MVP caliber seasons, because generally speaking, he has about one more year of his prime to come. So you Cabrera fans better enjoy it while it lasts.

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2013 30 DET AL 148 652 555 103 193 26 1 44 137 3 0 90 94 .348 .442 .636 1.078 187

Honorable Mentions: Max Scherzer, RHP, Detroit Tigers; Mike Trout, OF, LA Angels; Chris Davis, 1B, Baltimore Orioles

NL CY Young: Clayton Kershaw, LHP, LA Dodgers

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Clayton Kershaw had yet another amazing season.  He lead the league in ERA(1.88), Strikeouts(232), WHIP(0.92) and Shutouts(2); Kershaw also was third in the league with 16 wins.  Kershaw didn’t have much competition for the NL CY Young after Matt Harvey came out of his start on August 24 and was out for the rest of the season.

Year Age Tm Lg W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF ERA+
2013 25 LAD NL 16 9 .640 1.83 33 33 0 3 2 0 236.0 164 55 48 11 52 2 232 3 2 12 908 194

Honorable Mentions: Adam Wainwright, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals; Jose Fernandez, RHP, Miami Marlins; Matt Harvey, RHP, New York Mets

AL CY Young: Max Scherzer, RHP, Detroit Tigers

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Max Scherzer put up some of the best numbers of his life.  He lead the league in Wins(21), W-L%(87.5%) and WHIP(0.97).  Also, Scherzer posted career bests in ERA, IP, RA, HRA, SO and ERA+.  He outpitched teammate and former CY Young and MVP Justin Verlander for the number one pitcher in the Tiger’s rotation.  Scherzer also helped lead his team to the playoffs more than any other pitcher in the MLB.  His pitches were extremely effective and seemed to be working for him every day he went out to the mound this season.  Max Scherzer hands-down deserves the Al CY Young award this season.

Year Age Tm Lg W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF ERA+
2013 28 DET AL 21 3 .875 2.90 32 32 0 0 0 0 214.1 152 73 69 18 56 0 240 4 1 6 836 145

Honorable Mentions: Yu Darvish, RHP, Texas Rangers; Chris Sale, LHP, Chicago White Sox

NL ROY: Jose Fernandez, SP, Miami Marlins

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Jose Fernandez made his debut on April 7 earlier this season with lots of hype, and he certainly did not disappoint.  He pitched 12-6 in 28 games and definitely would have of won more if he had more run support from his team.  He posted a 2.19 ERA and put up great numbers all around.  He is only 21 and putting up some of the best stats in the league.  He will be a pitcher to watch in next decade as a breakout star pitcher in the MLB.

Year Age Tm Lg W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF ERA+
2013 20 MIA NL 12 6 .667 2.19 28 28 0 0 0 0 172.2 111 47 42 10 58 5 187 5 1 3 681 176

Honorable Mentions:  Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP, LA Dodgers; Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

AL ROY: Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

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Wil Myers was acquired in an offseason trade involving James Shields with the Kansas City Royals.  He was the main piece that the Rays acquired in the trade, and he sure didn’t disappoint.  Myers made his MLB debut on June 18, 2013 and instantly brought excitement to the club.  His hype and great performance helped propel the Rays to a postseason performance.  Wil Myers had the best performance this season of all of the AL rookies.

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2013 22 TBR AL 88 373 335 50 98 23 0 13 53 5 2 33 91 .293 .354 .478 .831 132

Honorable Mentions: Jose Iglesias, SS, Detroit Tigers; Dan Straily, RHP, Oakland Athletics

Max Kepler Interview

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            Max Kepler is an OF/1B in the Minnesota Twins farm system, currently playing for the Cedar Rapids Kernels.  He signed as an undrafted free agent out of Germany at the age 16.  While in Germany, he attended John F. Kennedy school, and played a form of Little League baseball there.  At the age of 14, he was discovered by scouts at a junior national tournament, and was closely watched by pro scouts after.

            For high school, he attended St. Emmeram Academy and was able to practice baseball very frequently.  While there, he played for Buchbinder Legionäre Regensburg, which is the highest level of baseball in Germany.  In 2009, Max Kepler signed with the Minnesota Twins for a signing bonus of $800,000, the largest signing bonus in MLB history ever given to a European born player.  He began his American career in 2010 with the GCL Twins.  Kepler is now with the Minnesota Twins single A affiliate, the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

            I had a chance to interview Mr. Kepler, and here’s what he said:

            Mr. Kepler was a very kind and friendly man.  He was extremely fun to interview, and a great ballplayer to watch!!  I appreciate the time he spent talking to me and conducting the interview.  Again, thanks Mr. Kepler, and I hope all of you enjoyed my blog!!!

          

 

Mark Appel Interview

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          Mark Appel was selected first overall in the 2013 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros.  He is a starting pitcher and currently plays for the Quad City River Bandits.  He attended Stanford and played baseball there.  During his four years at Stanford, he won the NCBWA Pitcher of the Year as a junior was selected to the All-American team in 2012, and was projected to be drafted #1 overall.  When the Astros told him they would select him first overall with a sizable signing bonus, he turned it down and returned for his senior season at Stanford.  When Appel returned to Stanford for his senior season, he was named as the Scholar-Athelete of the year.

            Come draft day, June 6, 2013, Mark Appel was selected first overall in the draft by the Houston Astros.  He wasted no time and made his professional debut with the Tri-City Valley Cats, Single A short season in July.  After two starts, he was quickly promoted to the Quad City River Bandits, Single A full season.  On the River Bandits, Appel joined teammate Carlos Correa, the first overall pick of the 2012 MLB Draft.  This is the first time in MiLB history that two back-to-back first overall picks played on the same minor league team.

            I had the chance to interview Mark Appel, and here is what he had to say:

            Mr. Appel said that he inscribes Bible verses on his autographs that he feels explains who God truly is.  He signed two autographs for me and put two Bible inscriptions on them: Psalm 37:4 and Romans 10:9.  Psalm 37:4 says, “Find your delight in the Lord who will give you your heart’s desire.”  Romans 10:9 says, “For, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” This showed me that Mr. Appel lives out his Christian life. I found his spirituality to be very sincere. 

            Mr. Appel was a very kind and genuine man; he was a great ball player to interview.  After the interview,  he taught me how to throw his slider/slurve.  I appreciate the time he spent with me and I really enjoyed meeting him.  Again, thank you Mr. LaNave and Mr. Mark Inserra, for helping set up the interview and especially to Mr. Appel for doing the interview!!

Ryan Braun – Hero?

            As many little leaguers and fans know, back in September of 2011, right before the playoffs, Ryan Braun took a urine sample…It came back positive for PEDs. Ryan Braun claimed that he was innocent.  He claimed that the urine sample was tampered with in the process of shipping it off to get it tested.  All evidence looked to be in favor of Ryan Braun, and after a long offseason of trying to prove that he was innocent, Braun’s possible 50 game suspension was overturned on February 24, 2012.

            During his press conference, Braun was ecstatic about winning the appeal.  This is part of what he said to all of his fans, “We provided complete cooperation throughout, despite the highly unusual circumstances. I have been an open book, willing to share details from every aspect of my life as part of this investigation, because I have nothing to hide. I have passed over 25 drug tests in my career, including at least three in the past year….. I am very pleased and relieved by today’s decision. It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation. We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side. ”  After this press conference, nearly every Brewers fan believed Braun and supported him.  Every little kid re-hung their posters of him in their room, and everyone wore his jersey again, and most importantly he was the hero of Milwaukee.  He was my hero.

            In the 2012 season, Ryan Braun went on a tear.  He had a repeat of his 2011 MVP season; he had  a .312 BA, hit 41 HR, 8 more than his MVP season in 2011, and had 112 RBI, 1 more than his 2011 season.  Braun received support from all of the Brewers fans in Milwaukee. 

            During the offseason, I had a chance to meet Ryan Braun at Brewers on Deck.  Getting to meet the man that you look up to, model your batting stance after, your hero is a pretty big deal and may I tell you, it was one of the greatest days of my life.  I had a private meeting with him for about 5 minutes, and it was one of the best 5 minutes ever.  He signed a bunch of autographs for me, shook my hand, took a picture with me, and talked with me.  It was an incredible experience.  After that moment, I thought that I will always be his biggest fan, and I will always support him.  He was super nice and a great guy.  Here is a picture of me and him:

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            Also in the offseason, Miami New Times released an article that claimed that Anthony Bosch had most likely provided banned substances by the MLB to some of the games biggest players: Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals, Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers, Jesus Montero of the Seattle Mariners, Bartolo Colon of the Oakland Athletics, Melky Cabrera of the Toronto Blue Jays, and the biggest name of all, Ryan Braun.

            With Ryan Braun being on that list, and becasue he was my hero, I chose not to believe it.  All of my family and friends asked me about it daily, and my answer was always the same, “I choose not to believe that my hero would make such a descion as to cheat in a game that he loves.”  The season started, and I kept telling myself the same thing everyday:  Braun was innocent.  Early into the year, Braun injured his thumb the same day that I broke my pinkey.  I thought it was an odd, yet cool coincidence.  After he got injured, all the talk about him taking steroids simmered down, and I thought that the MLB might not be after Braun anymore.  Braun came back from his injury not too long ago, and was back to his normal self; he was producing and acting as a team player.

JULY 22,2013

            I was at volleyball camp, and afterwards I checked my phone.  I had 3 new messages saying, “Braun is suspended for the remainder of the season.”  I didn’t know what to think, I closed out of my messaging and quickly looked at the top stories of the day, and all I saw were stories that Braun was suspended for the remainder of the season with no pay.  I started to get angry.  I couldn’t believe it; I didn’t believe it.  I deleted all of the messages and tried not to think about it, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  My hero cheated; Braun lied to us.  We all supported him, and he convinced us 17 months ago that he was innocent and that he never took PED’s, but he did. 

            When I got home I turned on MLB Network, and just w atched as they talked and ridiculed my now former hero.  I went upstairs and removed my autographed photo of him from my wall, and replaced it with a Lance Berkman one.  Braun released a statement, “As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions. This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family, and it is has been a distraction to my teammates and the Brewers organization. I am very grateful for the support I have received from players, ownership and the fans in Milwaukee and around the country. Finally, I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed — all of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates. I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.”  As a Little Leaguer you pick that one, or two guys, and you always look up to them as heroes.  One of mine betrayed me.

            As the day went on, more statements were released.  Some players were hurt, upset and frustrated; some couldn’t wait for him to get back to the Brewers.  Skip Schumaker said, “I can’t stand it. [The use of PEDs] needs to be eliminated from the game. I have an autographed Braun jersey in my baseball room that I’ll be taking down. I don’t want my son identifying what I’ve worked so hard to get to and work so hard to have — I don’t want him comparing Braun to me.”

            Bob Costas, a broadcaster for MLB Network stated, “He is the Lance Armstrong of baseball.”

            Statements like these are upsetting.  It made me realize that you can’t always trust your heroes.  It’s hard for me to think about, but I have to start searching for a new hero.  Probably many Little Leaguers in Milwaukee are thinking the same thing.  I just hope that I can trust the next one….

Matt Olson Interview

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Matt Olson was selected in the first round of the 2012 MLB supplemental draft, by the Oakland Athletics. He is the first baseman of the Beloit Snappers, and lives in Georgia. He attended Parkside High School, and is a great ballplayer. I contacted the Beloit Snappers and asked if I could interview him, and they agreed to let me interview him.

42

On Saturday April 14th, I went to see the movie 42 with my dad and friend.  It was about Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in sports.  Here is the trailer and some posters for the movie if you do not know what it is about:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9RHqdZDCF0

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               In this movie Jackie Robinson endured almost as much pain as someone possibly could, just to play the game he loved, and so other African Americans could also play in the near future.  He had to deal with people threatening to kill him if he showed up to a ballpark, teammates wanting to be traded because they didn’t want to play with him, and being kicked out of the ballpark by a cop.  As a Little Leaguer, I have never had to deal with this type of discrimination.  I have, and always will have teammates of different races, and there is no reason that we all cannot play baseball together.

               Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier not just for himself or baseball, but for all African Americans in the United States.  When he played with the Brooklyn Dodgers, he didn’t just break the color barrier in baseball, he broke it throughout America.  Whites all over America started to accept African Americans into their daily life: work, public places, schools, etc.; however, we as Americans have a ways to go in fully accepting all people.

ImageJack “Jackie” Roosevelt Robinson

(1919-1972)

Career Highlights:

  • 1947 MLB Rookie of the Year
  • 1949 NL MVP
  • 1949 Batting Champion
  • 6 time All-Star
  • Jersey number “42″ is retired by every MLB team
  • All-Century Team
  • Member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame

Actor: Chadwick Boseman

               Jackie Robinson was a hero and inspiration in the eyes of all Americans.  He broke the color barrier that let all African Americans join and do activities with Caucasians.  Jackie was an all around athlete in college at UCLA.  He played baseball, football,  basketball and track.  After college, he entered the military for WWII.  When he returned, he played football in L.A., and in 1945 he signed a contract with the Kansas City Monarchs to play baseball.  After that season, Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie to a contract.  He spent his first year in the Independent League with the Montreal Royals.  In 1946 he was signed by the Dodgers.  He won Rookie of the Year that season and NL MVP in 1949.  After Jackie retired, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  He worked for ABC Sports, and his number “42″ was retired by every major league team in baseball.

ImageBranch Rickey

(1881-1965)

Career Achievements:

  • Major part in developing minor league system
  • Broke the color barrier for African Americans and Latinos
  • Created batting helmet
  • Inducted in National Baseball Hall of Fame

Actor: Harrison Ford

               Branch Rickey made an enormous impact on major league baseball.  Mr. Rickey accomplished many important achievements in his career, like creating the batting helmet, being inducted into the hall of fame, and developing the minor league systems.  However, his most important accomplishment was breaking the color barrier for African Americans and Latinos, by signing contracts with Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente.  If Mr. Rickey had never done this, baseball might still be divided by race.  Thankfully, Branch Rickey was an innovator of America and knew the value of each individual, regardless of their skin color.

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Brewers vs. Rockies 4-3-13

On Wednesday, I attended the Brewers third game of the season vs. the Colorado Rockies game at Miller Park. Game time was at 7:10 and the gates opened at 5:40. I arrived at the ballpark with my dad two hours early and waited in line to be let in.  I ran down to near the Rockies dugout to get autographs, and they were just starting the first round of batting practice. Here is a picture of what it looked like when I got down there:

ImageAfter the first round of batting practice everyone was yelling for Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to come over and sign, and while neither of them signed, Jordan Pacheco did. He was really nice and took the time to sign almost every single card that everyone had. As a Little Leaguer who dreams of being a professional baseball player when he is older, it means a lot when a player talks to all of his fans and shows them respect.  It is great to see that it still happens. 

ImageWhile Jordan Pacheco was signing some kids started yelling for Dexter Fowler to come over and sign, and he said he would after he shagged some fly balls. About ten minutes later, during the second round of batting practice, Dexter came back and signed for everyone there. He was extremely nice. He signed two cards for me, but I gave one to my friend, Ben, who didn’t get Mr. Fowler  because he was trying to get Todd Helton’s attention to come over and sign. Here is a picture of the card that I kept:

ImagePacheco and Fowler were the only two players that signed during batting practice. After batting practice I saw my friend Paul and we talked for a minute. He writes a blog too, so we quickly talked about that. His link is: apieceofthegame.mlblogs.com. He had to leave, so I went and sat right above the dugout where I waited for the players to sit on the benches, so I could throw them my cards. While I was waiting I had time to pull out my scorebook, and wrote down the starting lineups of the Brewers and Rockies. The Brewers had their normal starting lineup, but they had Wily Peralta pitching. He was ranked as the #61 prospect in baseball according to Baseball Prospectus. I was excited that I was going to get to see our top pitching prospect start a game, but a little worried at the same time. I remember from last year that on Tyler Thornburg’s MLB debut, he got shelled in the 5th or 6th inning. This wasn’t Peralta’s first game in the big leagues, but it was his first important start, since it is Opening Week  When I pitch in big games I get nervous and sometimes get shelled.  It’s not fun.  After I finished writing down all of the players’ names and analyzing them, I saw a head pop out of the dugout. It was Michael Cuddyer; it was his first off day of the season. I ran over towards him, clipped his card onto my sharpie and called his name.  He turned around and said to toss it down. So I did, and he signed it. Here is a picture of the card:

ImageAfter he signed it I went back to my seat and looked at the lineup some more so I could look at the players’ stats in my Baseball Prospectus 2013 edition. While I was reading it, the National Anthem started, so all of the players popped out of the dugout. I stood up and took off my hat while the song was being sung. Near the end of the song,  When the National Anthem ended I quickly got out Chris Volstad’s cards and clipped them to my sharpie and started calling for him. He looked at me and waved his hand in a motion directing me to throw the cards to him. He signed my two cards and threw them back. I was really excited because he signed my 2012 Iowa Cubs card of him. I am working on getting the set signed, and I am over half way done. Here is a picture of the two cards he signed:

ImageAfter Chris tossed me back the cards, I saw one of my favorite Colorado Rockies pop out of the dugout: Todd Helton. I quickly grabbed my favorite card of him and clipped it to my sharpie and started to ask him if he could sign it.  He said he would so I threw the card to him.  I was super excited. He signed the card, tossed it back to me and walked back in the dugout.  It was incredibly lucky timing as I was the only one he signed for.  Here is the card that he signed for me:

ImageAfter I got Mr. Helton I was super happy. He made my day. The only thing that could have made it better was if the Brewers won.

My dad and I walked to our seats in the left field bleachers so we could watch the game. Wily Peralta looked great out of the gates. He got out of the inning 1,2,3. The Brewers started a rally with two guys on, but Aramis Ramirez and Alex Gonzalez couldn’t capitalize. We got out of the inning scoreless. Like I predicted, Peralta struggled in the next inning. He started out with a walk, and then gave up a line drive home run in left field to Wilin Rosario. He ended up getting out of the inning only allowing two runs. The Brewers started the third inning hot with a solo shot by Rickie Weeks. Braun continued and hit a single and later scored tying up the game. Juan Niasco, the Rockies pitcher, got out of the inning though with the game still tied. In the fifth inning Wily Peralta started to struggle again. He gave up three hits, and two of them being doubles in the gap to Jordan Pacheco and Reid Brignac. He only allowed two runs, but that was enough to give the Rockies the lead. He got pulled at the start of the sixth inning because his pitch count was getting too high. The Brewers scored again in the seventh inning, but it was only one run, and they were still down by one. Going into the top of the ninth the score was 4-3 Rockies, and Axford came in to try to get a hold. There were mixed reactions from the crowd, some were booing, some were thrilled. I was very nervous because he had been struggling of late, and I know from personal experience that it is very hard to come out of a slump, especially if it has carried over from the previous season. I was right. He struggled like you wouldn’t believe. He gave up a single right away, then a home run to the next batter, Michael Cuddyer. Everyone started to boo him. Then, Dexter Fowler came up to the plate, and he had a good history against Axford. He had just homered off him two nights before, and he did again. Roenicke came and pulled him out. Axford was booed off the field. The Brewers got out of the inning without allowing another run thankfully, but that wasn’t enough, we still lost because we went down 1,2,3 in the bottom of the ninth. I finished up my tallies on my scorecard, and my dad and I left the game. Here is a picture of the scorecard:

ImageThank you for reading my blog, and I hope you enjoyed it.  Come back to look for more blogs in the near future!!!

 

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