Archive for June, 2011
Friday, June 24th, 2011
Yes, the title of the blog is a little lame, but kind of cute right? Anyways to the point…
Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman was denied further discussion to his 2012 option that was not yet picked up. He made his ultimatum to the team that if it was not picked up yesterday by the franchise, that he would quit. Well, the management did not accept his demands and Riggleman walked. He held to his word, you can give him that.
The Manager was fed up, felt he deserved more than he was getting in Washington and drew the line in the sand.
“I just feel it’s like saying, ‘You’re not the guy,” Riggleman told reporters after the game.
He was torn between continuing to manage a major league baseball team and his self worth. Did he make the right decision? Let’s look at the facts. The man was 58 years-old, he spent 12 seasons as a manager to the Padres, Cubs, Mariners and Nationals. Washington was avoiding any sort of negotiation regarding his future with the franchise, what was a guy to do?
He made the brash decision of resigning a team who is usually the league’s doormat. The squad was 11-1 since June 10th, why would he bail on such a high note? My only explanation could be that Riggleman knew he needed to lock down another year and he was not getting it. Deep down, maybe Washington did not want him back, but it may be too early to tell. The Nats front office with GM Mike Rizzo had every right to be hesitant. Rizzo probably assumed that it was premature to jump on the option with Riggleman because they are too hot and cold. Their win/loss column is way too inconsistent to jump on a Manager that wasn’t even that strong.
For now, Rizzo must weigh out his options and seek out another skip. Stay tuned.
Friday, June 24th, 2011
I have given this topic a lot of thought and I KNOW everyone is going to have their opinion on freedom of expression in sports. Yes, it is not just baseball players that I am addressing right now. A lot of athletes feel the need to chirp, run their mouths and make complete spectacles of not just themselves, but their teams. Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Ricky Romero did trigger the subject with his recent comments, but he is hardly the only one to be guilty of the offense.
Athletes feel entitled to speak their minds and disregard anyone that may be effected by it. I realize that I have not played at the level that these NBA, NHL, MLB, NFL and other pro athletes have, but quite frankly that is erroneous. If you have played on a team, you are aware of certain etiquette you should follow. It is an absolute joke to throw a teammate under the bus, call specific players out or disrespect the team in any manner. Maturity is the name of the game. Countless members of professional sport are convinced that they are above their franchise and the game and decide to speak their mind. For instance, former Raptor, Chris Bosh and it wasn’t always just the microphone he used to viscously banter. He used media outlets, such as twitter to reveal selfish comments regarding his situation out to the world.
The list goes on and on. Ron Artest with the Lakers, the recently retired Shaq, Sean Avery of the Rangers who people actually despise, Patrick Roy who used to be quite lippy and fan favourite Jeremy Roenick who really used to stir the pot. Some major leaguers that really caught some attention were; Mariners outfielder Milton Bradley, the retired Manny Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs and Red Sox hurler Josh Beckett. There are countless NFLer’s throughout the game that have labelled their sport as the worst for sports trash talking. Cincinnati’s Terrell Owens, former Cornerback/ Wide Receiver Deion Sanders and Chad Ochocinco, who is now just Ochocinco.
Muhammad Ali takes the cake in the world of sports chirping. I have never seen anyone talk themselves up as much as this fighter did. Mind you, he backed it up and there was no team to embarrass, but it was sickening to watch.
Not only is the blabbermouth abusing their own reputation, but they are shining a terrible light on the franchise in which the player is affiliated with. It damages the entire franchise, including the front office and the fans who wear their swag.
Don’t get me wrong, in the heat of the moment, words are spilled, that happens. But when there are certain obnoxious clowns that go on and on with their useless drivel that effects the team, trashes the team? Where has the class gone? Just shut up, play the game and respect the fact that you are gifted and lucky enough to experience what professional sports provides for someone and the fans. These knuckleheads need to take more pride in the name on the front of their jerseys instead of the ones on their back.
Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
Pitching is a craft that takes years to perfect. When looking at the Majors, only the best of the best make it and even then, the hurlers need constant feedback and critiquing to maintain their elite talents and skills.
When you look at pitching coaches in the majors, the obvious decision is to hire someone who has thrown and has history in the game doing so. Pitching coaches are often former pitchers. That’s obvious.
Try this alternate on for size: a major league catcher. Let it soak in and just think about it for a minute. A catcher who has played since he could fathom the idea of baseball would know pitching inside and out. The spin, movement and feel of the ball would be like breathing to a former major league catcher. He could provide an objective view and an intriguing insight to pitching during frustrating or desperate times. Catchers are around pitching their entire lives and being the other half of the battery, one is almost forced to know just as much about pitching as the guy on the mound. The most important man in a pitcher’s life is his catcher, forget their dad, it’s their CATCHER; they are the thinkers and strategically run the game.
Take a look at former MLBer Dave Duncan, former catcher turned pitching coach in the majors, currently working with the St. Louis Cardinals. Duncan is the only catcher turned pitching coach in the majors right now. He broke into the game on May 6, 1964 (his debut) with the Kansas City Athletics and hasn’t looked back. Duncan played in Oakland for seven seasons and two years apiece with Cleveland and the O’s. He caught 920+ games at the highest level and also spent two years as a bullpen coach helping out relievers.
Now that is a lot of baseball miles on the old tires. This guy knows what it’s about. The Cardinals pitching staff has the luxury of working with someone that can give more perspective on the art of pitching than many would assume. I think a lot of baseball fans could find logic behind this idea. There are many former and current Major League catchers than could fulfill the position as pitching coach.
Now I’m not saying Duncan can go in and teach Jaime Garcia (LHP), Kyle Lohse (RHP) or Jake Westbrook a slider. Change-up or a curve. These pitchers have their style of throwing, their mechanics and routine. Duncan is simply a watchful eye to pinpoint lazy movement, tweak certain imperfections and delegate the delicate emotions of a pitcher.
Jason Varitek of the Boston Red Sox would be a hell of a candidate and has potential to be either a Manager or a pitching coach in MLB. How about Washington’s catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez? He’s a loveable, highly gifted athlete who has played 21 seasons in the bigs. Pudge can think and react in high-pressure situations and really give a pitcher information to work with. When looking for a coach, you want to be able to trust, laugh and work with this person; three personality traits that are hard to come by. Varitek and Pudge would be great options for franchises to look at and think real hard about.
A list of the best catchers of all-time:
Johnny Bench: Known as the greatest of all-time, Bench played with the Reds his entire career. (17 seasons, 2158 games behind the dish)
Yogi Berra: Berra is without a doubt one of the best and well-known catchers in Yankees/MLB history. (19 seasons, caught 2120 games)
Mike Piazza: Piazza holds a strong place in baseball. (16 years, he played with the Dodgers, Mets, Padres, Marlins and finished up with Oakland)
Bill Dickey: Dickey is another Yanks great, dead and gone. (17 seasons, started in 1907, 1789 games played)
Mickey Cochrane: He is also no longer with us… but rocked it with the Philadelphia Athletics and in Detroit. (13 season, 1482 games)
Gary Carter: Carter is undeniable in this category. (19 seasons, 2296 games with the Montreal Expos, Mets, Dodgers and Giants)
Carlton Fisk: The Red Sox sure can pick ‘em. (24 years, 2499 games spent with Boston and the White Sox)
Roy Campanella: I wish I had have been alive for this guys era. (10 seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers, 1215 games)
Tuesday, June 7th, 2011
Well it is June now, the monkey’s should be off of the backs and the early season jitters are long gone for most MLBers, but there is a different team who is standing in the spotlight from previous years.
Cleveland has one of the best records in baseball right now and sit atop the AL Central rankings. With 33 wins and 25 losses, the tribe is making some noise on the field. The team is by no means flashy, but they are getting it done.
This is where I introduce Asdrubal Cabrera. He leads the Indians by a MILE in BA (.308), homers (12), RBI’s (42) and hits (74). Quite the accomplishment on a team that is among the best in the bigs. He is extremely talented and very underrated because he is simply not as popular as others around the league. How is it that average ball fans are not voting for this guy to start for the American League All-Star Squad?
For as long as I can remember, Derek Jeter has held that position, but for this season, this is a thing of the past. An All-Star ballot cannot be voted based on what he is done in his career, it should be awarded to the top candidate THIS SEASON. I’ve played and watched a lot of baseball in my life and I can comfortably say A. Cabrera is the best shortstop in the American League, possibly the most gifted in the game, RIGHT NOW.
The infielder is not only hot at the plate thus far this season, but he backs up a big game with his defensive skills. He has a lot of range, a great arm and makes a lot of the hard plays in the infield, look very basic/average.
Many people say baseball has been watered down the past few years and I wouldn’t argue. Regardless of that whole debate, the Indians are in fact one of the best squads and they have a shortstop who deserves to start at the All-Star game in July.
I encourage baseball fans and the general public out there to watch teams that you do not ordinarily follow and choose your All-Star ballots accordingly. Stars from the past two decades have had their time. Give the stars of today some credit for what they have accomplished on the field. Vote Asdrubal Cabrera!