Each month, we'll be featuring a dedicated SportsBlogger who knocks it out of the park every time with terrific content and consistent blogging.
We’re proud to announce our newest Bloggers of the Month: the team behind the top-notch Innings Eaters, one of our biggest and best MLB blogs. There are four bloggers who churn out the site’s addictive posts on baseball news, analysis, and the occasional tomfoolery: Ronnie, Tanner, Bob, and the blog’s editor (and Bob’s son), Tim. Ask other baseball bloggers on SportsBlog and elsewhere, and they’ll all tell you Innings Eaters is on their must-read list. Trust us: these guys are going somewhere.
Find out more about the writing team behind Innings Eaters and their love of baseball in their own entertaining words, below!
1. Why did you choose to start blogging with SportsBlog?
Tim: The fact that SportsBlog features its writers regularly, pays through the advertisements, and allows us to really grow based on how much work we put into our sites made me fall in love immediately. Clearly, they care.
Tanner: I’ve been a huge Detroit sports fan for a long time; however, I never have had anyone to talk in depth about sports with. The blogging community seemed to be the place where I could get my thoughts out to knowledgeable people as well as read up on what is going around in the world of sports.
Bob: To have a bond with my son so he forgets about the non-existent inheritance he's going to receive.
2. What is the best thing that has happened to you through your SportsBlog?
Tim: Besides all of the women, hordes of fans seeking my autograph, and free dinners at fancy restaurants, I’ve had a few other cool moments. Alex Gordon posted one of my articles on his Facebook Page on the last day of June and helped Innings Eaters become the top MLB blogfor the month.
Ronnie: Creating a portfolio for future use and getting hired by nysportshub.com.
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
3. Who is your all-time favorite athlete? Why do you like them so much?
Tim: I love obscure athletes. Scott Podsednik is great because of his name and how great he was in Sammy Sosa High Heat Baseball. Former Philadelphia Phillies prospect Gene Schall also hit a game-winning home run at the first game I ever went to in Triple-A so I credit him for a lot of my baseball love. Charlie Blackmon might be my favorite current MLB player. He came from out of nowhere in 2014 like a Clint Eastwood character and suddenly decided to wreck every pitcher’s ERA.
Tanner: I’ve been a huge fan of Alex Avila since he was called up to the Detroit Tigers. I know his bat is not the best in the league, and this season he isn’t even able to bat his own weight, but I’ve watched him take a beating behind the dish. The man has a ridiculously high baseball IQ and is able to guide his pitchers through just about any situation in a game. He’s caught a no hitter, been an all-star and experienced the World Series.
Ronnie: Ivan Pudge Rodriguez. As a massive Marlins Fan and playing catcher growing up, Pudge quickly became my MLB idol. I even got his model catcher's mitt, just to look and feel more like him.
Bob: Brooks Robinson. Consistent and understated .267 lifetime average but first ballot Hall of Famer.
4. When did you start playing fantasy baseball? Do you play other fantasy sports?
Tim: I started playing in 1997/1998 in a kid’s league sponsored by Baseball Weekly where you only picked players to hit home runs. I played a little bit in high school, but didn’t get really into it until 2013. I won $5 playing fantasy NASCAR by picking the drivers with the tastiest sponsors.
Ronnie: When I was a sophomore in high school. No other sports, I keep it pretty simple.
Bob: I’ve been playing fantasy baseball for 6 years. The other fantasies do not involve sports.
Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports
5. If we could give you two tickets to any team at any sporting event, who would you watch and who would you bring with you?
Tim: I’d love to see the Philadelphia Phillies win the World Series live in person. I’d either want to go with my dad or a New York Mets’ fan; the latter because I really do not like the Mets.
Ronnie: I would bring my dad to Game 7 of the World Series with the Marlins playing the Yankees.
Tanner: I would want two tickets to the Chicago Cubs. I’ve always wanted to see Detroit play at Wrigley field. I love the fact that our fans can take over that stadium. I would take my girlfriend with me.
Bob: Romanian Soccer Finals…I mean the NHL Winter Classic with the editor of this blog (my son).
6. What’s your favorite food?
Tim: A donut filled with peanut butter and ice cream. I don’t think it exists. Until it does, pain will still exist somewhere in this world.
7. What sports info do you swear by?
Tim: If it’s on the Internet and it has been retweeted at least 10 times, it’s either true or an apology is coming in the next 24 hours.
8. What's your favorite Facebook page and Twitter account that you follow?
Tim: MLB Trade Rumors and ESPN Stats are both great. I’ll follow anything that’s original and doesn’t just post a meme and believes they’re doing a good job. I also enjoy the occasional trainwreck where the operator clearly has no clue what they’re doing.
Tanner: I’d have to say that my two favorite Twitter accounts would have to be @WalkoffWoodward and @Rational_Tigers. They both have interesting perspectives on the Detroit Tigers and they make people think.
9. What’s your number one tip for anyone playing daily fantasy sports?
Tim: If your wife/husband/partner doesn’t play too, tell them as little as possible about it. They will never understand.
Ronnie: Always bet on the tendencies flipping, especially in baseball.
Bob: Make the choices at the last minute on hunches without putting much thought into it.
Be sure to check out and follow Inning Eaters yourself, and give them a holler of congrats in the comments below!
Former major league left-handed specialist Ray King was kind enough to talk with me about his life playing Major League Baseball and how he is currently giving back to the game through youth baseball.
In the early 2000s, the last man an opposing team’s manager wanted to see throwing in the bullpen late in the game with his left-handed slugger coming up to bat was Ray King. A manager who favored splits knew he would soon be faced with a tough decision. Should he play the percentages and lift his starter for a right-handed pinch hitter or was he better off sending one of his players to the plate as a martyr, knowing one of baseball’s best left-handed specialists was about to step onto the mound?
King was a special kind of weapon during his MLB career that spanned parts of 10 seasons. Hall of Fame managers Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa knew exactly how to use him, which just so happened to be every chance they could. Relief pitcher Eddie Guardado had the nickname “Everyday Eddie” because of his constant availability; however, he only pitched in 75+ games twice. King did it five times and all in consecutive seasons.
King retired from the game after the 2008 season, but remains every active in the sport. Just like his playing days, he was kind enough to make himself available to talk with him (on his son’s birthday too!) about both his playing days and what he has been up to since.
Of course, the first thing I had to ask him was about the stranger statistics I could find that needed an explanation. King’s numbers against Barry Bonds were extraordinary and in many ways defined how effective he was in the role he played. Bonds was 1 for 17 against him in 20 plate appearances with the lone hit landing beyond the outfield wall for a home run.
Hoping to find some sense as to how he could do what many pitchers couldn’t, I asked King the secret to getting Bonds out. Without hesitation, he told me Bonds was “someone you have to go right after.” King would use his fastball and occasionally his sinker when Bonds was at the plate in an attempt to challenge the home run champion. Impressively, King remembered the pitch he made a mistake to Bonds on: a slider. As he said, “you always remember the one mistake.” Ask the managers he played for, they probably remember the 16 times King got Bonds out.
One error against Bonds though, nothing is taken away from this amazing dominance over a guy who was once intentionally walked with the bases loaded. Of course, this would never happen with King whose 328 consecutive games without issuing a free pass is an MLB record.
Highlights like this were easy to accomplish because King was always prepared to play and his managers knew this. King told me he’d show up to the ballpark expecting to pitch. Understandably, it was a disappointing feeling when he wouldn’t get into the game. In 2004 he appeared in a career high 86 games for a National League Pennant winning team.
Originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds, King would eventually make his major league debut with the Chicago Cubs in 1999. While it was a joy to play in his hometown of Chicago, King remembers his time in St. Louis with the most fondness.
In King’s youth, he would often travel with family from Chicago to Tennessee. On the way, a stop at Busch Stadium was often on the agenda. Notable Cardinals like Willie McGee, Vince Coleman, and Jack Clark won him over and he was already in love with the idea of playing baseball in St. Louis before he was traded to the Cardinals for the magical 2004 season.
King’s appreciation for St. Louis goes beyond the fact that he went to the World Series with the city supporting him. He remembers vividly how the fans would acknowledge the opponent whenever a great play was made. He grew up as one of those fans an got to experience it later as a player.
“The fans in St. Louis understood and appreciated the game of baseball,” said King. “When I came back [in 2006 wearing a Colorado Rockies’ uniform] they gave me a standing ovation.”
Even though he was used to pitching every day, King said the first year after retirement was spent relaxing. However, by the time spring training rolled around, the rubber-armed reliever was prepared to step back on the mound. If he was still playing, he would love the chance to challenge Bryce Harper in a battle of lefties. Considering many believe Harper is the best left-handed hitter in baseball right now, you can bet King would dominate him the same way he did Bonds.
Never one to back down from facing any batter no matter which box he stands in, King also told me he’d welcome a matchup of Mike Trout as well as Anthony Rizzo and the rest of the Chicago Cubs. King’s presence alone facing the Cubs would mess with the lineup and force Joe Maddon into always separating Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, and Chris Coghlan. Just as long as he doesn’t throw anyone a slider, he should be all right.
King’s desire to face these active athletes may also come from his involvement with Isagenix. King recently lost 30 pounds following the weight loss plan and often consults others on the benefits using his own experience as a sample of what it can do. He’s staying in shape, feeling good, and most important of all is still making his mark on baseball with the next generation.
He may not be on a major league roster, but baseball has not left King’s soul. Very active in youth baseball coaching boys 14-18 in Arizona where he now resides, King is making a difference far beyond just showing kids how to swing a bat. Unfortunately the love of the game isn’t enough for everyone as some of his players struggle to continue their careers due to financial reasons. King said the cost to continue for some of his players in tournaments sometimes totals $2,000 each. To succeed at the game, you need more than a stick, a ball, and a couple of bases. King experiences this first-hand and is out there active on social media trying to help.
An active Facebook user always welcoming the fans in, King is doing his best to help raise money for his players. He has helped out many, but of course with rising costs and no longer earning a professional athlete’s salary, there is a bottom at the bank. King is working hard to help these kids by raising whatever funds he can so they too have a chance at experiencing the joy he did playing the game we all love.
To learn more and contribute, you can contact King on his Facebook Page or email him at email@example.com. You can also contribute a $10 donation to Ray directly through the mail by sending it to:
Ray King 4200 N Pebble Creek Parkway #2110 Goodyear, Arizona 85395
Thank you again to Mr. King for taking the time to talk with me and give a greater insight into the life and career of a major league baseball player.