The A-Train Rant 20th Edition!

Ranting-Homer

 

It’s not really the 20th edition of the “Rant,” I’ve done a lot of special rants for this blog as well. So there is more but this is my regular rant and I’ve done 20 of them. May not mean much to you but it means something to me. I’ve been able to break out and do this. So ladies and gentlemen…the 20th…A-TRAIN RANT!

  1. We may have seen the last of Stephen A. Smith on ESPN. It’s a shame too. Plus it goes to show you that we can’t speak our minds.
  2. The NFL will only protect the stars…if a bench player done this, he’s gone automatically.
  3. Women in media are not happy with the NFL.
  4. With that previous statement, Roger Goodell is officially the worst commissioner in sports.
  5. As a Bulls fan, I’m scared for Derrick Rose. Plus he needs to shut up and just play basketball.
  6. The Cardinals, Tigers and Athletics are the winners of the July 31st trade deadline.
  7. Dustin Johnson needs help.
  8. The NFL season is just around the corner.
  9. Shoutout to Aeneas Williams, well deserved member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Also to the other inductees going in on Saturday.
  10. Who do you get when they holdout, get no new deal, return to camp and still not get a new deal: Marshawn Lynch. (UPDATE: He finally got a bump in pay)
  11. This is why people don’t watch baseball…the game is watered down.
  12. Dallas Cowboys continue to be the laughingstock of the NFL.
  13. Brady Quinn knows when to say, “I’m done.” Tim Tebow does not.
  14. Damn shame there will not be an EA college football game this season.
  15. The San Antonio Spurs will be back in the Finals next season.

The A-Train

A Few Questions…with Allen Schatz

Time now for another edition of “A Few Questions…” and joining me today on this edition is an author from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has written three fictional baseball novels and is avid Philly sports fan…his name is Allen Schatz.

A-TRAIN: How are  you doing today?

ALLEN: I’m great. 

A-TRAIN: Alright. Let’s get to the questions. So who or what inspired you to become a writer?

ALLEN: I’m not sure there is a singular inspiration. I heard more than a few times over the years that “you should be a writer”, but for a variety of reasons, I just never got around to it. In 2008, my work situation changed and the opportunity (read: time!) arose and I jumped at it.

A-TRAIN: So looking at your title character, Marshall Connors, where did the name come from?

ALLEN: “Marshall” was the first name my son Michael almost had. My wife and I chickened out on that, but I’ve always had that name stuck in my head so I ran with it. The “Connors” part was random, mostly because it sounded good.

A-TRAIN: How did you determine what kind of life/occupation that Marshall would have?

ALLEN: Marshall is the “me” I never was. He is an extension of me, an alter ego if you will. At one point, I had considered pursuing becoming a professional baseball umpire, but circumstances changed and it didn’t happen. I have been an amateur umpire, however, for the better part of 30 years. I also wanted to make the lead character unique. An umpire is not something one thinks of as an “everyday hero” type profession.

A-TRAIN: You being an amateur umpire, did you incorporate some of your life experiences in your character?

ALLEN: As noted above, yes. My experiences are included in a number of ways. Marshall’s job, where his parents live, the settings for many of the scenes; these are all “real” things from my life. I think it adds to the story by having places and things people can “see” from reality.

A-TRAIN: How many series of books do you plan to write with this character Marshall?

ALLEN: There are no specific plans. A fourth book is in the early stages. Originally, it was not going to be with Marshall, but because of reader interest and requests, I’m changing it to be another in the series.

A-TRAIN: Any plans on adapting your novels to TV or movies?

ALLEN: More than a few readers have suggested these would make fun movies, and I’ve had some thoughts about it, but no definite plans. I have done a little screenwriting and may give converting the first or third book into a screenplay a try and shop it around.

A-TRAIN: Knowing that you are a big baseball fan…is there a baseball player…past or present…that you always wanted to add to one of your novels?

ALLEN: The fourth book has Babe Ruth references. So, yes!

A-TRAIN: You ever thought about writing novels for other sports?

ALLEN: Possibly… but baseball is my first love, so not sure I will. If I did, ice hockey might be next, although some have suggested soccer.

A-TRAIN: Ok, enough serious questions…let’s have some fun. Is that ok?

ALLEN: Fun is good!

A-TRAIN: Who gets in the World Series?

ALLEN: I was pulling for either the O’s or A’s, but both of them went out early. Of the final four, the Tigers are the team that least annoys me, so we’ll say Tigers v. Cardinals with Tigers winning.

A-TRAIN: Do you have any favorite teams outside of the Philly teams? Or that you follow?

ALLEN: Nope. That would be sacrilegious!

A-TRAIN: Thoughts about the NHL lockout?

ALLEN: It is sad. Neither side seems to remember the damage they did from the lost season several years ago. Many fans went away and aren’t ever coming back. The lifelong fans, like me, are now getting stepped on (again). We’ve put up with a lot of crap in the league (bad expansion, bad rules, bad referees, bad management), but like with baseball, we enjoy the game and want to see good hockey. It’s just a shame they can’t consider that. 

A-TRAIN: Seeing that you are from Philly, do you think the Eagles need to get rid of Michael Vick? Andy Reid? (state why…)

ALLEN: #FireAndy – and invent a time machine to do it years ago. I don’t think Vick is any worse or better than any other option that would be underperforming with Reid around. I like to say they are good enough to be annoying, but they won’t ever win the Super Bowl… and even less likely to do so with Reid.

A-TRAIN: Where were you when the final out was recorded from the 1980 World Series? (response) How about the 2008 series?

ALLEN:

1980 – I was at Ridley Bowl, finishing up my third game in the league I was in. We were bowling, running to the TV, repeat for the entire game. It was awesome.

2008 – I was in a chair in my living room. It was probably a little more awesome because my son was watching (from his home in L.A.) and we got to celebrate together at the parade.

A-TRAIN: Last thing…your Top 5 TV shows you watch?

ALLEN:  Let’s go with this: 1) Big Bang (Theory) 2) Modern Family 3) How I Met Your Mother 4) Fringe 5) Parks and Recreation

A-TRAIN: Interesting choices. Alright. Where can they find you?

ALLEN: I’m on Twitter: @raschatz

I’m on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AllenSchatzWriting

I have a website: www.allenschatz.com

Google me too… you’ll get a lot of hits.

A-TRAIN: Where can they find your books?

ALLEN: Everywhere books are sold online. The full list is on my website: www.allenschatz.com/wherebuy.html – the books are available for Kindle, Nook, iPhone, iPad, and many other devices. They are also available in paperback.

A-TRAIN: Any shoutouts you want to give?

ALLEN: I’d like to thank all the fans I’ve developed over the past couple of years. I’ve met some good people via Twitter and FB interactions, present company included. Someday, I hope to meet more of them in person.

A-TRAIN: Thank you so much for your time today.

ALLEN: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Remember to check out his books including the very first one…

The A-Train signing off. More interviews to come.

A-Train’s 2012 MLB All Stars…Part 2

Alright, I gave you last night. Here is part 2, now with the American League All-Stars for manager Ron Washington of the Texas Rangers.

NOTE: All stats are up to date as of 6/28/2012

Catcher – Joe Mauer (Twins) – I don’t see too many people other than Mauer (maybe Mike Napoli of the Rangers) to be starting the game here. The guy is still an amazing hitter batting .321, of course the home runs are down (3) but he’s still worthy of an all-star berth despite his Twins being in last place in the AL Central. I would be surprised if Mauer is not the starter in KC.

1st Base – Prince Fielder (Tigers) – I smell the arguments of this pick heavily because Paul Kornerko (White Sox) is probably the best 1st baseman in the American League. Plus he is also on a 1st place team but I still dig Fielder’s numbers (.301 AVG, 12 HR, 50 RBI) and he’s still solid despite the Tigers being in 3rd place. I mean Albert could make some noise to get in the game. I hope so. But not to start the game. I choose the Prince of Detroit here.

2nd Base – Robinson Cano (Yankees) – What can I say? Another awesome season for Cano and he’s clearly the favorite for the start here.  How do you past up his .308 AVG, 18 HR and 41 RBI? You can’t. Unless you’re a hater of the Yankees. I choose Cano.

Shortstop – Derek Jeter (Yankees) – This may be the last hurrah for Derek Jeter but he’s still one of the best players to ever put on a Yankee uniform and it will continue as he makes another All-Star appearance. Even though the numbers don’t seem to be all-star worthy (.305 AVG, 7 HR, 25 RBI)…fans and haters alike can’t help but respect Jeter’s game. He’ll be at the #6 position in KC.

3rd Base – Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) – Cabrera is still one of the best hitters in the game of baseball today. Despite moving back to the third to make room for Fielder, he’s still solid (.304 AVG, 15 HR and 60 RBI). On the verge to another .300/30/100 season, Cabrera is a fan favorite and should be playing at third come that Tuesday night.

Outfielder – Jose Bautista (Blue Jays) – Two-time home run champ finds himself in the lead again (with 25) in that category but also has a paltry .237 average to go along with that. He will still find his way into the outfield in KC because of that home run power. Even though I really don’t dig an all-star who bats under .260 to get in the game, there is no other outfielder (other than Josh Hamilton) that has come close to the kind of power numbers that Bautista has. So I will have to give him this one.

Outfielder – Josh Hamilton (Rangers) – Despite his shortcomings, Hamilton still knows how to put a show for the fans and he’ll be in KC to start for the All-Star game. The AL leader in RBI with 67, slugging a league best .647, in addition to tied for the AL lead in HR with 24 showcases that he is a true and definite all-star selection by the fans.

Outfielder – Adam Jones (Orioles) – He is one of my favorites, I enjoyed playing with him on MLB: The Show on PS2 (I have upgraded since then) because he’s (IMHO) a dynamic player and future superstar and I believe that his time is now to soak in being an all-star. I would be very upset if he doesn’t start the game. An all-star back in 2009, the 26-year old Jones is indeed having one of his best seasons (.299 AVG, 19 HR and 41 RBI) and should see another all-star berth for the emerging, young and talented Baltimore Orioles.

Designated Hitter – David Ortiz (Red Sox) – I would be shocked if Adam Dunn (White Sox) is the starter here, even though he has 24 home runs (which is tied for 2nd in the American League with Hamilton), he also has that .216 average and that is not acceptable to start in the game. Really I think he’s going to be snubbed of being on the roster. Sorry. I dig Ortiz’s numbers (.309, 21 HR, 53 RBI) and he should get the nod. I think the Manager Ron will choose Edwin Encarnacion will back up Ortiz…this is a breakout season for him (22 HR, 54 RBI with a .286 average)

Those are the choices. Good luck to the rest of the all-star selections even if some of mine don’t make the team. I’ll be surprised to get 2/3 of both teams right. But here are mine. Check them out. Debate about them. That’s what they are there for. Have fun.

Hope you enjoy the All-Star Game on July 10th. One day before the birthday!!!

The A-Train