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Articles filed under Kasper, Len

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  • Hitting to all fields as season winds down Sep 23, 2013 8:29 AM
    Len Kasper has some general baseball observations as we hit the final week of the regular season.

     
  • Castillo, Wood give Cubs some positive vibe Sep 16, 2013 8:04 AM
    While Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro continue to garner a lot of attention during the Cubs' rebuilding efforts, Len Kasper says the biggest positive developments of 2013 on the current roster are the seasons Travis Wood and Welington Castillo have put together.

     
  • A baseball cheat sheet for the most important stats Sep 10, 2013 8:15 AM
    If you want to know how good your team really is, it's important to pay attention to the right numbers. In that spirit, Cubs insider Len Kasper provides a cheat sheet on how to use (and not use) stats to evaluate performances for players and teams.

     
  • Kasper: Barney is my kind of baseball player Sep 2, 2013 8:00 AM
    Len Kasper sits down and talks with one of his favorite baseball players, Cubs Gold Glove second baseman Darwin Barney.

     
  • Cubs’ young stars learn August can be tough on clubhouses Aug 26, 2013 5:49 AM
    We are nearly through baseball’s toughest month. No, it’s not September, it’s August. Yes, September isn’t easy either, considering some players/teams are limping to the 162-game finish line. Len Kasper explains why it's so challenging on players and clubhouses.

     
  • Many to root for outside of the Cubs Aug 18, 2013 7:21 PM
    Len Kasper presents his non-Cubs all-stars, those around the majors he both respects and appreciates.

     
  • Cardinals offer view of Cubs’ hopes Aug 12, 2013 5:58 AM
    Every time Len Kasper sees the Cardinals he asks himself, how in the world do they do it year after year? While in St. Louis over the weekend, he sought out some answers.

     
  • In support of a one-of-a-kind sport Aug 4, 2013 8:51 PM
    This week, for all those who doubt that baseball is the most tried-and-true, most intellectual, quirkiest and simply greatest game on earth, I have a few questions for you. How many other major pro sports leagues have histories that date to the Ulysses S. Grant administration? Where else can you blatantly steal something and not only avoid being arrested but be cheered for it? Or earn millions of dollars and wide acclaim for failing to do your job between 60-70 percent of the time?

     
  • Cubs say two goodbyes, but also a big hello Jul 29, 2013 2:16 PM
    Quite a week for the Cubs as they traded Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano while watching Junior Lake begin his career in comet-like fashion. Len Kasper looks back on the action, plus offers his insight on Junior Lake, Soriano's tenure and the trouble in Brewers country.

     
  • Len Kasper: Trying to sort through steroids issue Jul 22, 2013 5:54 AM
    This week Len Kasper begins his column on steroids by saying he is am tired of steroids. "I’m sure you are, too. But hear me out because maybe together we can put to bed our angst over the whole thing."

     
  • An up-and-down first half is in the rearview mirror Jul 15, 2013 5:26 AM
    It was an interesting Cubs’ first half to say the least. The highlight for me, without a doubt, was Travis Wood’s ascendance. I've always liked how he competes, but this year he has added a laser-like side-to-side command of all of his pitches and it has made him an elite guy, at least for half a season.

     
  • Kasper: Give Cubs’ front office credit Jul 8, 2013 5:30 AM
    For the millionth time, “Moneyball” was not about on-base percentage. Or computers taking over for scouts. It was about exploiting market inefficiencies. Again, repeat after me: It was about EXPLOITING … MARKET … INEFFICIENCIES.

     
  • Len Kasper: Busy week indeed for Cubs Jul 1, 2013 5:30 AM
    Lots of Cubs news in the past week, including Carlos Marmol being designated for assignment and Ian Stewart getting released from AAA Iowa.

     
  • Baseball’s rule book keeps things interesting Jun 23, 2013 1:57 PM
    Jayson Stark recently penned a great ESPN.com column on the baseball rule book and included a 10-question true-or-false test that several baseball people agreed to take. This stuff is right in my wheelhouse, not because I’m an expert by any means, but because I find some of the rules really intriguing. The results of the quiz were fascinating, and you can find it online at espn.com or linked with this story at dailyherald.com. For the record, I got 6 of the 10 right, which thankfully was considering a “passing” grade. Whew! I have often thought of crazy, yet plausible scenarios based on baseball’s wacky rules and Stark’s study spawned even more. In honor of his piece, I will construct some of my own potential situations using his template. Consider this: The Cubs are in their first World Series in well over 100 years (you gotta like where this is going so far!) and it’s Game 7, bottom of the ninth at Boston. Tie game, Daniel Nava is at third with one out and James Russell gets Dustin Pedroia to hit a foul pop up near the first base dugout. Anthony Rizzo leans over the railing and makes a great catch, tumbling feet over head into the Red Sox dugout for the key second out. Or so we think. Because he fell out of play and held onto the ball, Pedroia is out, but Nava is allowed to advance one base and trots home with the World Series-winning run (OK, not such a fun ending). How about this one, and it has as much to do with a scoring quirk as it does with the rule book. Jeff Samardzija is throwing a no-hitter when he walks Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen with two outs in the top of the ninth. Because the Cubs have a 6-0 lead, Anthony Rizzo plays behind McCutchen at first as Garrett Jones then pulls a blistering ground ball that takes a funny hop off the lip of the infield grass and hits McCutchen on the left heel. McCutchen is immediately called out and the game ends. But the no-hitter is ruined because Jones is credited with a base hit. Yes, both cases are once-in-a-lifetime possibilities, but under the rules of baseball, they absolutely could happen. I have talked a lot with infield coaches over the years about another scenario and how a savvy infielder might test a runner’s knowledge of the infield fly rule. Let’s say it’s the bottom of the ninth, Cubs at Cardinals. Tie game, bases loaded, one out. Allen Craig hits a high pop-up to shallow short. Umpires immediately call an infield fly, so Craig is out. But Starlin Castro lets the ball drop right in front of him. An unsure Matt Carpenter (sorry Matt, somebody’s gotta be my guinea pig here!), thinking he needs to break up a force at the plate, takes off from third and Castro throws to Welington Castillo, who tags Carpenter for an inning-ending double play. Most coaches agree that because of the extraordinary circumstance, many runners would temporarily panic and think they need to run and that you might be able to pick up a cheap out. However, there are risks. If you don’t catch the ball, it could take a weird hop and bounce too far away or you could blow a rundown and end up losing the game. Even the most savvy players can temporarily forget these complicated rules, and in a split-second contests can be won and lost. It’s what makes baseball such an intellectual — and often mind-boggling — game. Ÿ Len Kasper is the TV play-by-play broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter @LenKasper and check out his [URL]blog entries;http://wgntv.com/news/stories/len-and-jds-cubs-baseball-blog/[URL] with Jim Deshaies at wgntv.com. To post comments or questions for Len, click on the comment link with his column at dailyherald.com.[/URL]

     
  • Cubs boast legitimate all-star candidates Jun 16, 2013 3:38 PM
    As we near midseason, it’s time to start thinking about the All-Star Game. The contest itself doesn’t excite me that much and I am not a fan of the World Series homefield advantage component. However, sorting out the participants themselves is intriguing and while the Cubs are a second-division club at the moment, they have several interesting all-star candidates.

     
  • Key internet stops provide wealth of data Jun 9, 2013 11:00 PM
    I am often asked how I go about my daily research during the baseball season. This week, I thought I would give you a quick primer on my favorite baseball websites. The internet isn’t my only source of information. Much of it comes from the Cubs’ media relations staff, MLB media guides and game notes. I also get lots of great material from conversations with uniformed personnel, front office members and other broadcasters. However, there are dozens of great websites that any baseball fan can look at to get much of the same information I find on a daily basis.

     
  • Two keys to enjoying baseball: stay humble and curious Jun 2, 2013 2:40 PM
    While Len Kasper won’t claim that old school vs. new school in baseball is only about age, he admits that baseball people, for the most part and like in most other areas of life, tend to process things along generational lines. That said, he's not afraid to admit he doesn't know everything, and he explains in this Cubs insider column.

     
  • Len Kasper: Quieter cross-town tone not a bad thing May 26, 2013 10:55 PM
    The Cubs-White Sox series has a new twist this year with all the games coming this week, the first two at U.S. Cellular Field and then the final pair at Wrigley Field. With baseball’s new alignment, each team plays more interleague games now, but the rivalry series have been pared down from six to four. For the record, I am good with that. The No. 1 attraction of interleague play for Cubs fans is this cross-town series, so I am glad that it is being preserved.

     
  • Len Kasper: Rizzo deal just part of Cubs’ plan May 20, 2013 5:30 AM
    Last week the Cubs inked first baseman Anthony Rizzo for the next seven seasons and maybe a couple beyond that as the team continues to peg and secure its long-term core. This deal came as no surprise for several reasons.

     
  • What would Len Kasper do as commissioner? May 12, 2013 10:28 PM
    My partner Jim Deshaies was once asked what he would do if he could be baseball commissioner for a day. His answer was vintage JD: “I’d make myself commissioner for life.” I think all baseball fans ponder this question for fun. In the end, it’s not a job I could ever handle with all the various constituencies I’d have to keep happy. But, if I could be commish for a day, here’s what I would try to do. I would get rid of the designated hitter for good. And add a 26th roster spot to appease the union. The DH makes for a less strategic game. I like managers managing their lineup card in the late innings, and I want every player on the diamond to be a two-way player. That’s baseball. I would cap September game-day rosters at the same limit as the rest of the season. It is crazy that in the season’s most crucial month, we see clubs with different roster sizes and bloated bullpens, taking away a good manager’s ability to out-strategize his opponent. You can have 40 on your September roster, but each day you have to have “healthy scratches” like hockey does. I would create a team error statistic. The popup that drops between two defenders now is either a cheap hit or an error on one of the players. Balls that should be caught but aren’t and have no obvious offender need to be considered team errors. It’s the equivalent of the NBA’s team rebound. I would have five umpires work every game. The fifth would have his own booth upstairs with a TV monitor and he would be in charge of replay reviews. I would expand replay to fair/foul calls in addition to the current boundary calls. And I would allow that replay official to immediately alert the crew chief when a call needs to be changed. I would put a microphone on the home-plate umpire, who would, like an NFL referee, be able to announce to the crowd (and broadcasters!) lineup changes and rulings on unusual plays. Too often, calls are made and never properly explained until the game is over. I would either say goodbye to interleague play or devise a schedule that has every team playing at least one series vs. every team in baseball. The current schedule has too much quirkiness to it. I want teams in my own division to play the same schedule my team plays. I would add two expansion teams (how about bringing Montreal back to the National League and adding a third New York area team, maybe in New Jersey?) and create four eight-team divisions. And the playoff system would be simple: four division winners and one wild card per league. The top team in each league gets a first-round bye. The other division winner gets homefield advantage over the wild-card team. All playoff series would be seven games. I would require every team to schedule at least one old-fashioned doubleheader each season. Not the day/night type, but the old-school, two-for-the-price-of-one variety. Maybe have a couple of days every season on which every matchup on that day’s slate is a double dip. I guarantee it would be very popular. I would ban alternate uniforms. I want all the teams to pick one home and one road jersey and stick with it. If you want one “retro” day at home per year, fine. But enough with the myriad extra looks. I think that’s pretty much all I would change. Nothing outrageous. Just help move the game forward while maintaining and bringing back some tradition, too. ŸLen Kasper is the TV play-by-play broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter @LenKasper and check out his [URL]blog entries;http://wgntv.com/news/stories/len-and-jds-cubs-baseball-blog/[URL] with Jim Deshaies at wgntv.com. To post comments or questions for Len, click on the comment link with his column at dailyherald.com.[/URL]

     
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