April 2009

A last call to the mound


“Baseball America’s Youth Player of the Year in 2003, Adenhart rivaled Homer Bailey as the top high school pitching prospect in the 2004 draft until he blew out his elbow that May and needed Tommy John surgery. Undaunted, the Angels drafted Adenhart in the 14th round and signed him for $710,000. Adenhart began 2008 by going 4-0, 0.87 in his first five starts at Triple-A Salt Lake before Los Angeles whisked him to the big leagues and asked him to pitch on three days’ rest against the Athletics. The experiment bombed, as he lasted just two innings and gave up five earned runs on three hits and five walks. After he continued to struggle with his control in subsequent starts against the Royals and White Sox, the Angels returned him to Triple-A and he never found his April groove again. Adenhart won just one of his next 10 starts and went 5-13, 7.08 the rest of the way.”

That was how Baseball America described their No. 1 prospect for the LA Angels, Nick Adenhart. Last night, he pitched six innings against Oakland in a solid manner.

Now, he’s gone, killed in a car crash with three others.

This goes to show you how unimportant baseball is in the scheme of things. Adenhart was on his way, he really went and fulfilled his dream, surely without knowing he was living the final night of his life.

A guy who struggled with injuries, Tommy John surgery, trying to find his way back into the game’s prospect elite, even trying to please his coaches too much and getting lost in the way. Now we are only left to wonder what would happen if he could just keep on pitching.

Keep on living.

A really tragic story which saddens us and I think I speak for us all at the Houston Astros in paying our respects and condolences to his family and our fellow colleagues at the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

MLB.TV, now even on Linux

I have a confession to make. I’m a Linux geek.

For the past two years, I’ve been using the Ubuntu Linux distribution. It’s a free operating system which has a lot of quality, and has supressed a lot of my frustrations with Windows (I could have gotten a Mac, but hey, I wanted something I could use in my existing computers and besides, the Apple Store is located at the Galleria in Houston. That should tell you how pricey it is).

And, during the past five seasons or so, I’ve also been a subscriber to MLB.TV. The ability of watching every game live in my computer no matter where I am has been quite useful to my work of writing for the Astros and baseball in general. Last year, I did a radio show with highlights and live commentary and analysis, so it was an useful tool.

The issue was trying to make MLB.TV work in Linux. So many workarounds, plugin installations, you name it. It was a lot of hard work. So hard, in fact, I ended up carrying a laptop with a dual-boot install of Windows and Linux, so I could get my MLB.TV most of the time. I’ll tell ya, I did MLB.TV run in Linux almost 90% of the times. I even demonstrated it to my friends at the Astros Spanish Radio Network last year and they were very impressed, both with the Operating System and MLB.TV itself. Alex Trevino, my colleague and friend at the booth, is also a technology follower and he saw the potential instantaneously.

But I have to say, I’m part of a minority yet. That’s why I was so excited when I saw that MLB.TV was ditching other technologies which limitated its growth outside the Windows OS. And they chose to go with Adobe which, despite the fact not being 100% free software, it has chosen to be available in every platform in the Sun, be Windows, Mac or Linux.

Installing Flash in Ubuntu is a breeze. You can even go to Adobe’s website directly and get a .deb file for installation. And the new media player is a breeze to play with, going from a single game view to picture-in-picture, being able to watch up to four games at the same time. That’s worth the price of subscription in itself. And the Flash technology makes it workable, light and fast, unlike the past Mosaic version which was good, but not good enough.

So I have to congratulate my BAM friends in making MLB.TV finally truly multi-platform. I had to write this since I had to tell you how wonderful it is, and you tend to appreciate it even more when you’re in this business. Go ahead, give it a try, and tell me what you think. And now you know: if you use Linux and love baseball, now you don’t have to be afraid of your MLB.TV not working.

It does. Beautifully.