Archive for May, 2011
Sunday, May 29th, 2011
Giants sophomore catcher Buster Posey is out for at least a couple months, possibly the season. Why you ask? A ballsy block at the plate against the Marlins. Scott Cousins was highly aggressive and mowed over Posey, who was in an awkward position and it snapped his leg.
Posey, who was instrumental at the plate in last season’s trip to the World Series, was batting .284 with 46 hits, 21 RBI’s, 4 homers and 18 walks. He did have 30 strikeouts, but he could have watered down the amount of K’s on the year if he was healthy. He now has broken a bone in his lower leg and suffered torn ligaments that could very well be a season ender.
This drama has created quite the debate on collisions in baseball. This is fair, but I am a naturalist and you CANNOT alter the game to where it becomes a controlled setting. That is absolutely bogus. Real ballers are going to lay out, block the plate and ultimately make the play for the team; that’s what the game is about.
I’m sorry, most players are not intentionally hurting others in sport. If you’ve ever been a participant of sports in your life in any capacity, injuries CAN occur without malicious intent. The NFL, NHL and now the MLB are going to crack down and magnify certain plays to the degree that they are no longer as vicious, intense or real. But, how can you monitor a game when these athletes dedicate every day to training and working towards these wins? What does the league expect? David Ortiz to tip-toe around the guy behind the dish? NO! He’ll go as hard as he can into home plate and let the baseball gods decide if he is safe or not! It’s ludicrous to think that you can take these passion-filled, athletic machines and attempt to delegate them. Good luck to the enforcers, that’s all I gotta say.
How can you take collisions out of baseball? If the league is worried about dirt bags that hurt others on purpose, then it should be case-by-case basis. Besides, it’s apparent when a certain player is a repeat offender and goes for the jugular in certain moments in pro sports. You know the hackers from the sincere champions/competitors. Give your head a shake if you can’t tell the difference. Malicious vs. Competitive is as obvious as it can get.
If it were up to Cousins, he wouldn’t have put Posey in the hospital, but I would put good money on the fact Cousins was happy that he won the contest in that play. It was the winning run and Florida took the 7-6 victory. You can’t buy that type of moment for a player. This is what players train for; the moments of greatness and success. So, how can anyone tamper with a game-winning moment?
Friday, May 20th, 2011
For decades there has been that never ending debate of which league is more superior: American or National. What better way to keep the argument going than to have an Interleague weekend which just happens to be upon us.
American League proponents stack their arguments with the old faithful DH rule. The AL’s decision to allow a pitcher to solely focus on their outing on the hill, opens up a spot for another big bat in the line-up. Most baseball lovers argue that tossing a hurler in the eighth or ninth spot is an automatic out and it distracts them from their duties as a pitcher. American League chuckers are given a free pass, therefore it appears to some people that it fully enriches the game on all levels and keeps the game strong as a whole.
National League fans tend to counteract that argument by taking pride in their traditional way of holding their pitcher accountable at the plate, on top of their duties on the mound. They not only have to keep runners off of the basepath when they have the ball, but they have to become a threat with a bat in their hands and assist their team in scoring runs. Personally, I admire players that can adapt to both roles comfortably because as an NCAA player myself, it was extremely demanding.
People in the bleachers and dedicated baseball watchers can hold their own opinion and express it in any which way, but there is no right or wrong way to construct a line-up. You can look at stats throughout the years and evaluate who has won more world series. In the past 23 years, nine NL teams have won the World Series and decades before that, the American League continued to stand out. Maybe the AL breeds more talent or has stronger pitching overall. But, when you look at this year, it is slightly different. Right now, I would have to say the dominant pitching resides in the National league, but hitting belongs to the AL. Talent seems to be pretty even these days.
The AL has dominated Interleague play for the past few years and only three National teams have had winning records since 2005. (Cardinals, Rockies and Marlins). Regardless of the uneven records, the fact is, Interleague play excites people and it generates more for the game itself. People pile into the stadiums to witness something different besides their typical divisional rivals. According to MLB ticket offices, there is a 12% raise in attendance records when Interleague games are played. Rivals or not, these two leagues create a stir with fans.
Games to watch:
The Cubs are at Fenway. Need I say more? Boston has not welcomed this franchise since 1918, that is 93 years of neglect that will be made up in one night. I predict something special will go on tonight. History here people!
The Houston Astros have not yet played in Toronto. Their series opens up tonight. Jo-Jo Reyes is still itching for that first win of the season, that will be something to see. Also, Aneury Rodriguez is winless in the Majors. He will be on the hill for Houston.
The Subway series: Mets at Yankee Stadium. Queens vs. The Bronx, so you never know what could happen in that city. The probables are R.A. Dickey and Freddy Garcia.
Cardinals and Royals. Will Albert Pujols pull out of his hitting drought? His numbers prove that he can. At Kauffman Stadium, Pujols has slammed 13 homers, has a .383 batting average and 37 RBI’s in 30 games. Not bad. Stay tuned for this one at 810 p.m. ET
Rangers head to Citizens Bank Park. Doc Halladay is on the mound for the Phils. He has lost two straight starts (both complete games) and he will face C.J. Wilson who is 4-2 this season with a 3.38 ERA. Wilson is a strong lefty for the Rangers who can throw a lot of pitches.
National or American League? Either way, baseball remains an enjoyable game that never loses its true fans. I would love to hear your thoughts on this debate as the weekend goes on. Let me know what games stood out for you, who pitched well or who had a big day at the plate. I will be at the ball park tonight (Friday) and Saturday afternoon covering the Jays/Astros for THE FAN. Comments are welcome!
Monday, May 16th, 2011
Many things are coming alive for the Baltimore Orioles, who are now (19-20) on the season after taking two of three contests from the AL East leading Tampa Bay Rays (23-17). With these victories over the weekend, Baltimore is now victorious in five of their last six games.
It certainly is a well-rounded effort from the squad, including starting pitching from Brad Bergesen, Jeremy Guthrie and Jake Arrieta. (Bergesen and Arrieta took wins from the Tampa series). The O’s also had their most active game of the season at the plate with fifteen hits on Sunday that included a fancy grand-slam from shortstop J.J. Hardy. Their bats are coming alive and their pitching rotation is showing stronger outings, pushing their starts to the later innings.
The Orioles recent play should make for an interesting series with Boston, starting tonight @ 7:10 p.m. ET. Red Sox righty, Daisuke Matsuzaka will face O’s starter Chris Tillman on the hill. Tillman is (2-3) this year with a 6.15 earned run average and has allowed 40 hits with 24 K’s. Both teams must be feeling good right now. The Red Sox are rolling as they just swept the Yankees in the Bronx.
Tuesday, May 10th, 2011
Players in the majors are well aware of how hitting can more often than not, be a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Some get hot, some get COLD. Hitting is a tricky thing and a very tough skill to keep consistent.
Yankees Captain Derek Jeter would not be who he is today if the world didn’t hold demanding expectations for him. Having said that, the harsh view of today’s ‘experts’ are sometimes a skewed version of what‘s actually happening. To say that Jeter is on the decline of his career may be true when relating that to age, but he still has a ton of potential on both sides of the game. He may not be the young buck he once was, leading the New York hitting lineup to the promised land, but in my opinion, the guy isn‘t finished when it comes to contributing numbers and accomplishments to and in the game.
The MLB veteran’s BA was in and around .250 for the past few weeks and with the number of at bats he currently has, that brings him to around ten to twelve hits shy of a .300 batting average. Bottom line, he doesn’t quit, he will not roll over, and he most certainly will not allow his career to slip away. He is a resilient, hard-working leader that has forgotten more about the game than most critics will ever know.
Bronx Bomber hitting coach Kevin Long has worked rigorously with Jeter to advance his power and get his swing back to where it was. The only thing lacking from his offensive game, is in fact the long-ball. He is still getting decent numbers for average, but his RBI’s are down this year and he only has two homers. I do agree, his extra base hits are currently non-existent.
He‘s in the first year of a guaranteed three-year, $51 million contract and yeah, he is 36 years-old, but he has a lot left to play for including his team/franchise. He may not be the red-hot Derek Jeter that many fans know and love, but I have a feeling he is NOT FINISHED.
His recent 4-for-6 outing with two homers against Texas on Sunday could possibly give a little extra bounce in his step and hopefully that will help him in getting some consistency back.
Carl Crawford is another one who just signed a big deal, a seven-year, $142.0 million contract with the Boston Red Sox. He has had a rough start to this 2011 MLB season in Beantown. He is currently hitting .211 with only one dinger and has 25 K’s already. Not exactly the power hitter he was with Tampa.
I got a chance to catch up with former MLB catcher Gregg Zaun, who is now an analyst for Rogers Sportsnet for Blue Jays games. He chimed in on whether or not Derek Jeter is in fact on the tail-end of his career, what goes on in a hitter’s mind during a slump, and Boston Slugger Carl Crawford’s tough year at the plate.
Friday, May 6th, 2011
In light of Fransisco Liriano’s no-hitter against the White Sox on Tuesday night, I thought a blog on outstanding and honorable performances would be fitting. Liariano’s no-hitter (the first of the 2011 MLB season), and first complete game of his career was an outting that was nowhere near as heroic as the ones I’m going to mention, but it sparked the idea. He threw 66 strikes on the night and had a ton of help from the defense, so it was the highlight of the day in MLB, but definitely not the year.
Throughout baseball history, there have been a handful of players that have completely stunned the world with their efforts on the field. I will not rank the players and the obstacles/tough situations that they overcame, but I will simply put forth the information and stories as they were told and seen. I’d be a liar if I said I’ve witnessed these games or milestones first hand, but I have read and been told the details in depth. So, whether these guys were severely injured, experienced the death of a family member/friend there have been some emotional and courageous performaces in baseball that are ones to remember forever.
To break down the game’s ballsiest outtings, there needed to be standards. From extreme physical pain to the most dramatic emotional damage, these following players continued to play the game that they love.
Mariner Moose- Thought I would start off with something mildly funny. In 1995, the Mariner Moose, (Seattle’s mascot) took a not-so-daring tumble being pulled by an ATV into the outfield wall while wearing rollerblades. May I say, how embarrassing. To his defense, the mascot kept the goofy smile on his over-sized moose head, despite the agonizing/humiliating situation that had unexpectedly developed that afternoon. Not sure about copywright issues and what not, so go to youtube on the web, type in ‘Mariner Moose breaks ankle’… pretty jokes.
Now for the real stuff…
Mickey Mantle- In 1961, the infamous year for the Mick and Roger Maris’ race to 61 bombs, Mantle made professional baseball very interesting. It must have been the competition, but something enticed this stud to do wonderful things that year. Mantle was plagued with obstacles throughout his career, (knee injuries, alcoholism, chronic bone damage, torn shoulder muscles, shingles etc.) but at this particular time, despite the endless jacks, he had a major injury to his right arm. Being the dedicated Yank that he was, #7 managed to slug a one-armed homer against the Detroit Tigers. You could say the New York fan base approved.
Curt Schilling- Oh, the bleeding ankle. As Baseball fans worldwide sat at home and in the stands for Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS, eating popcorn and sitting on their asses, they witnessed a true hero on the mound. Not only did Schilling pitch through agonizing pain against a terrific Yankees hitting line-up, he marched on after he tore a tendon in his ankle that caused bleeding to seep through his socks & stirrups. Given the terrific advancement in television production at baseball games, Schilling captured the hearts of many ball fans, solely on the coverage and zoom techniques of the bleeding foot. Ok, maybe it was the fact he battled through some major ankle problems, either way, he makes the list of gutsy ballers.
Paul O’Neill- This tall order was in the line-up for Game 4 of the ’99 World Series, within a few hours of his father’s (Charles O’neill) funeral. We are all aware of how many daddys we have in life, correct? ONE, but despite the hardship of losing a parent, O’Neill didn’t leave right field vacant for too long in the deciding game of the Worlds. Within hours of Chick’s funeral, the “Ultimate Warrior” (Pauly’s nickname given from former owner George Steinbrenner) returned to the outfield, only to win another World Series. To fully capture the heroism, you can actually read #21′s book, Me and My Dad: A Baseball Memoir that was published in 2003. O’Neill gave an in-depth look on the impact his father had on his life, on and off of the field and what that day will always mean to him. Talk about a dedicated athlete. How many people would/could do that? Oh and by the way, O’Neill also played with a broken rib in the ALCS a week before the death in the family. Need I say more?
Buck Martinez- Probably one of the most dramatic/insane double plays ever made in history was Bucko’s play that resulted in a dislocated ankle and a fractured leg. The year was 1985, the team was the Mariners and the field was the Kingdome. Jays outfielder Jesse Barfield threw the ball home after a base hit to right field, Martinez waited behind the plate, made the tag in a big collision for the first out. In severe pain and on his backside, Bucko threw the ball away, trying to get the advancing runner at third. Left fielder George Bell recovers and snaps a pea to a sitting Martinez for another tag. Two putouts and a broken leg for Bucko, no wonder the team carried him off. What a legendary play at the plate.
Kirk Gibson- Gibson could barely walk, both legs were not functioning properly, but he got the call to pinch-hit in Game 1 of the 1988 Worlds. Minor details: Dennis Eckersley was on the mound for the A’s, it was the bottom of the 9th inning and the Dodgers were down 4-3 with two outs. No biggy. To add on to this pressure, Gibson also had the stomach flu. Well, it turned out in Gibby’s favour, the beat-up outfielder hit the two-run walk-off home run to take Game 1 in the Championships. Isn’t baseball a hell of a game?
The 2009 Angels- I know my list has been a majority of individual accomplishments, but the death of Adenhart was too devastating to the Angels organization to ignore. In 2009, the Angels not only lost a young pitcher, but an important piece of the puzzle to their organization. Adenhart was a promising and talented right-handed hurler who lost his life in a car collision on April 9th of 2009. The team was visibly heartbroken, dumbfounded and sorrily missing their now former teammate. The Angels made it to the ALCS that season, but were dropped by the Yankees in six games. They wore a patch on their uniforms every single game that year in honour of #34. It was classy and depressing but somehow it reflected how special the game really is.
No matter who has come and passed, players have overcome remarkable personal and professional hardships. Their stories are crystalised in the hearts and minds of fans and the will to compete and the will to win through an unbelievably long season is what makes baseball the ultimate test of adversity.