That's The Ballgame

The final pitch has been thrown. The last out made. The 2013 baseball season is over, at least for the four teams covered by the Midwest Diamond Report.

As we reported around Labor Day, the ballgame also is over for MDR, at least as a web site. You can read the reasons for its ending, and thanks, etc. in a column that announced the closing, called “The Bottom of the 9th” below.

In that column, I wrote that MDR will continue as a column/blog, monthly during the off-season and weekly during spring training and the regular season. Many of the same features that have appeared on the web site over its nine years will be included in the column/blog.

By continuing MDR as a column/blog, and still writing for Game Day, I won't have to step away entirely from a game I love or friends like those pictured above. One of the great things about covering a kids' game is you can continue to act like a kid.

The first monthly MDR will be distributed on Oct. 30. It will run on the last Wednesday of each month until it goes weekly in February.

Here’s how you can get the new MDR. If you’re on the current MDR Friends email list, you will get it sent to you. If you want to get on that list, send your email address to gregghof@aol.com.

MDR also will be posted on the existing Archives/Blog Quick Topic section of the site. That section will continue as a stand alone message board. The column/blog will be posted on my Facebook page and will be sent to David Bernacchi’s www.onwisconsinsports.com web site. Eventually, MDR also will be made a MLB.com blog.

All these will be free. However, if you want to make a $10 lifetime donation, you can send it to the address at the end of this note. Of that, $5 will go to the Wisconsin Sports Legacy Group Revive the Hall effort to restore and build the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame. The MDR column/blog also will accept sponsorships. For more info on that, send an email to gregghof@aol.com.

Most of the goodbyes were handled in the Bottom of the 9th column, but let me say again thanks to all of you who read the MDR web site, served as sponsors and contributed to it. You made it a fun journey and a rewarding chapter in a long sports journalism career.

The address for any donations or sponsorships is:

M&T Communications

Gregg Hoffmann

306 East State Street

Westby, WI 54667

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Old School Collectibles

See the OSC display ad at the bottom of this page and how to get a product list for Sport Collectors' Guild replica stadiums.

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Immortalized In Bronze

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Keltner SABR Chapter

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MDR Features & Briefs

It's Bottom Of 9th For MDR

By Gregg Hoffmann

Midwest Diamond Report is a month away from completing its ninth season. I have decided it also will be its last in this format.

For a few years now, my goal was to publish MDR for 10 years. It sounded like a nice round figure. But, there are actually several reasons why I have decided to stop at nine.

First, the number is more appropriate for a baseball site than 10. That’s an inning per year, or visa versa. Who wants to go into extra innings.

There are other, more practical reasons. Technical changes would require a complete updating of my software. That doesn’t make sense for one season.

My last advertising accounts are up at the end of this season. Why renew them again for only one season.

This is the first season in which none of the MDR teams are likely to have a winning record. That has resulted in a drop in interest and readership. not to mention a drop in interest by this publisher.

So, the timing is right. I have a collectibles business and a site about the Driftless Area, where I live, which need more of my attention. Possible projects with the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame and other areas also are pending. Plus, there’s more real retirement things to occupy my time.

For those of you who have been loyal readers, I thank you. Special thanks to Rick Schabowski, who served as my most loyal reader, correspondent, videographer and biggest booster. Also special thanks to Dave Schultz, Bob Martinez, Brian Podoll, Jerry Flynn, David Bernacchi and others who contributed to the site over the years.

Also, please note that in the lead paragraph, I mention “in this format.” What I do plan on doing is writing a column -- sorry, I’m old school and can’t call it a blog -- weekly during spring training and the season and monthly November through January.

It will be called Midwest Diamond Report and will be sent to the 450 or so people on the current MDR Friends list. It also will be posted on my Facebook page and perhaps on the MLB.com Blogs. It will be distributed for free, unless readers want to make a $10 lifetime contribution. Of that, $5 will go to the Wisconsin Sports Legacy Group, which is helping as an auxiliary organization to the state Hall of Fame. More on all of this before we actually close the site.

MDR has provided me with several things. First, when I retired from UWM in 2004, I also was ready to give up the Bucks, and the Packers, who I covered for more than 30 years. I wasn’t ready to give up baseball, which I have now covered for almost 40 years.

Between Mario Ziino’s Game Day, and MDR, I didn’t have to. I have loved documenting the Brewers, Twins, Cubs and White Sox on the site, and providing links through it as a portal to other sites about other levels of Midwest baseball. The site made a few dollars over the years, but certainly didn’t make me rich. That wasn’t my main motivation for publishing it.

MDR also allowed me to pay tribute to the original Midwest Diamond Report and its publisher Al Rainovic. Al gave me with my first opportunity to write about big league baseball through his print version of MDR. I went on to cover it for state newspapers, as well USA Today, Baseball Weekly and other publications.

Al could never have foreseen web sites, but he was a true baseball man, a lover of the game, and had a concept I liked with the regional approach to coverage. He also was one of the finest sports artists in the country in the 1950s-60s.

MDR also allowed me to improve my web tools. My first venture into web publishing was The Brew Crew Review, through a partnership with Rivals, which eventually folded its baseball sites. From that, I wrote for OnMilwaukee.com, Wispolitics.com, WisBusiness.com and eventually published MDR.

Running my own site challenged me from business, technical, design and overall creative sides. MDR led to www.oldschoolcollectibles.com and www.driftlessimagesinpixelsandprose.com and the Immortalized in Bronze web site.

At its peak, when two or three teams were making the playoffs, MDR would get 6,000 or more hits on some days. That’s not a lot by larger web site standards, but for a guy with a laptop sitting in Westby, Wisconsin, and periodically in press boxes around the Midwest, it wasn’t bad.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the site over these nine innings (years). We plan on playing the game through the last out this season. Hope you stay with us until then, and once MDR becomes a column.

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Stories and line scores from the closing days of the 2013 season can be found in the Archives/Blog section of this site.

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A Look Back

At Top 5 MDR Stories

As MDR enters its final week of publishing as a web site, we decided to take A Look Back at the Top 5 Stories in the site’s history:

1. White Sox win it all in 2005 - MDR got off to a great start with one of the teams it covered winning the World Series in its first year.

2. 2008 Season - The Cubs, Brewers and White Sox all made it to the post-season with the Twins missing only because the Sox beat them in a one-game playoff.

3. Mauer Wins Three Batting Titles - The Twins’ Joe Mauer became the first catcher in history to win three batting titles during the MDR years.

4. Cubs change regimes - MDR started with Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella leading the Cubs to winning records, but then the team faded and made a wholesale regime change with Theo Epstein and Dale Sveum coming in at the top.

5. Ryan Braun’s rise and fall - Ryan Braun burst on the MDR season as the Rookie of the Year in 2007, won a MVP in 2011, only to fall because of a suspension for abuse of PEDs. A sad story, but still one of the most significant covered by the site.

All-Time MDR Team

Jim Thome

Here are the members of the All-Time MDR Team for the nine years of the web site history:

Left Field - Ryan Braun, Brewers. Braun was suspended in disgrace for PED use, but he was a superstar before his fall.

Center Field - Torii Hunter, Twins. Hunter was an All Star caliber player before leaving the Twins for free agency.

Right Field - Jermaine Dye, White Sox. Dye had a couple great seasons for the Sox in the early MDR years and was the World Series MVP in 2005.

Third Base - Aramis Ramirez, Cubs and Brewers. Ramirez put up good numbers for two MDR teams.

Shortstop - Starlin Castro, Cubs. There was no real dominant shortstop for the MDR teams, but Castro, despite a poor season in 2013, is one of the young stars in the game.

Second Base - Rickie Weeks, Brewers. Another position without a clear candidate, but Weeks’ power production in a couple seasons and an All Star selection gave him a narrow nod over Cubs’ Darwin Barney.

First Base - Paul Konerko, White Sox. Konerko’s career is ending as MDR does the same, but he was an All Star caliber player for the Sox during most of the site’s history. This was a strong position for MDR with Prince Fielder of the Brewers, Justin Morneau of the Twins and Derrek Lee of the Cubs other candidates.

Catcher - Joe Mauer, Twins. Mauer won three batting titles, the first catcher in history to do so, during the MDR years. If we were picking a MDR All Time Player, he would likely be it.

DH - Jim Thome, White Sox and Twins - Thome managed to hit with power for two MDR franchises and hit his 600th career homer while a Twin.

RHP - Carlos Zambrano, Cubs. The Big Z was a controversial figure and had an awkward departure from the Cubs, but he had some big seasons.

LHPs - Johan Santana, Twins, and Mark Buehrle, White Sox - Santana won the Cy Young in 2004 and 2006, the only MDR pitcher to do so. Buehrle was a consistent performer for the Sox.

Closer - Joe Nathan, Twins. Several closers had good seasons for MDR teams, but Nathan was the most consistent.

Manager - Ron Gardenhire, Twins. Gardenhire could lose his job after three 90-plus loss seasons, but he led the Twins to six division titles, was the 2010 AL Manager of the Year and finished second in balloting for that award five times.

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Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame Section

"Revive The Hall" Started

A group, informally calling itself The Wisconsin Sports Legacy Group, is trying to revive the dormant Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame through a fund-raising effort and is seeking partners for a variety of projects intended to revive the Hall, elevate its profile and provide some revenue streams.

Rick Schabowski and Gregg Hoffmann are shown above shooting a video, which will be part of tours of the Walk of Fame plaques this summer.

A Revive the Hall Facebook page can be accessed by clicking here. Updates on the effort will be posted on that site. If you think you can help, the group wants as many volunteers as possible.
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Featured Advertiser

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Welcome to Midwest Diamond Report
I'm Gregg Hoffmann, publisher of this site. MDR is a web version of a print publication put out by the late sports artist and journalist Al Rainovic.

MDR is devoted to covering Midwest baseball and its history.  You won’t find game stories in MDR. For those, we have provided links directly to team and league web pages. 

What you will find are periodic features and columns by professional writers, baseball researchers and fans.

Also, check out MDR Friends updates, and other information from Gregg Hoffmann, on Facebook by clicking here.

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MDR Archives and Blogs

Special Feature Package Archive

Miller Park nickel tour video

MBHA Conley video

MBHA 2013 Dinner photo gallery

Channel 6 Beyond The Game feature

2013 Spring Training video

Uecker statue unveiling video

2011 Spring Training video #2

2011 Spring Training video #1

Target Field video and photo gallery

Celebration of Baseball photo gallery

In Their Own Words: Bud Selig video

Field of Dreams photo gallery

Selig Statue Unveiling photo gallery , video1, video 2

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Featured Advertiser

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Baseball Web Sites Links:







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With link to Illinois Baseball Coaches Assn.

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You also can contact MDR via phone at 608-634-6469 and via mail at: 306 E. State St., Westby, WI. 54667. For a list of services by M&T Communications, the publisher of MDR, send an email to Gregg Hoffmann by clicking on the Contact Us Here link above.

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Click on above logo and receive an email with details of M&T services

Driftless Images

Immortalized in Bronze

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Featured Advertiser/Collectibles Supplier

Replica stadiums on sale at both La Crosse OSC locations and online. Send email to gregghof@aol.com for product list.