Posts Tagged ‘ baseball ’

Farewell to the Captain

 

Let’s get this straight from the get go, Derek Jeter has been a pain in my side for the MAJORITY of my baseball memories. So part of me can finally get over the pain he has suffered me over the years. Watching this live…

 

Moments like this make me have a strong dislike for the Yankees. But looking back on this, its one of the most iconic plays in baseball history, and you can’t help but realize the greatness of Jeter.

13 years later, we look back on the storied career of Derek Jeter, and the baseball world sheds a tear. We are truly losing one of baseball’s greats. Someone who forever changed the way the game was played. A captain, a mentor, always humble, but worked hard. The inside out swing, the 14 All-Star game experiences, becoming Mr. Novemver, even these…

 

 

He may not have been the most athletically gifted player ever, or the best at something, but what he was good at was longevity. Playing the game right. Sabermetrics never considered him an above average defender, but he somehow always made the play. He trade mark fall away throw from short will always be HIS thing. He had style, flair and some flash. He thrived in the Steroid Era, yet was never linked to anything. His 3,000th hit? A homerun. And in what seems to be a staged storybook ending to his remarkable career. Jeter hit a walk-off single in his final at-bat, in what will most likely be known in the future as “The house that Jeter built”.

 

 

But in all honesty, I can’t help be sad that we are losing one of baseball’s greatest. He has been a role model of sorts to baseball players everywhere as well as human beings. His impact on the game of baseball as a whole will be missed. There truly will never be another Derek Jeter. And with that said. Derek Jeter, I thank you for your impact on baseball and for showing us how to play the game right. #FarewellCaptain

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The Bright Lights of New York City

What is it about playing in New York City?

It is the stage where players can make a name for themselves. Ever heard of Linsanity? Just ask Kemba Walker. Reggie Miller, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James were all established stars who had their brightest, non-championship moments in New York City. Do you know who Mr. October or November is? Let’s revisit some of the highlights of greatness in New York City.

Today February 28th, marks the 1 year anniversary of the latest star to make a splash here in the Big Apple. Stephen Curry last year lit up the Knickerbockers for 54 points, hitting a Madison Square Garden record 11 3-pointers. It may not have been the record for points for the Garden, nor did the Warriors win the game, but it brought Stephen Curry out into the limelight. It showed the rest of the world why Dub Nation likes to call him Steph “Wet” Curry. Just check the video below if you don’t believe me.

Lighting up the Garden is no new thing. As recent as 2 years ago, Jeremy Lin went from no name back-up, to sending “The City that never sleeps” into a frenzy. Since then, Lin has parlayed that into a hefty multi-million dollar contract and become an inspiration for Asian-American athletes. Heck, he even is coming out with a movie!

But before Lin-sanity and before Stephen Curry lit up the Garden, other stars have broken out here. Whether it was Kobe Bryant and LeBron James lighting up the Garden within 3 days back in 2009. Kobe dropping 61, which was a Garden record until this year, and then James dropping 50+ and getting a Triple-Double (which was later overturned, but who cares). What also we forget to talk about that week, is the defending World Champion Boston Celtics were in town. There just wasn’t a noteworthy breakout performance there.

Obviously, Madison Square Garden has had its fair share of moments. We can also reference the days with Michael Jordan tormenting the Knicks or the Reggie Miller vs. Spike Lee saga. But when we broaden the spectrum of what New York means on a larger scale, we can look at baseball moments.

There is Josh Hamilton lighting up the Bronx for Home Run Derby the last season of the old Yankee Stadium. Hamilton had recently returned to baseball, after years away battling drug addiction, and that summer night in the Bronx was his definite coming out party. He hit 28 first round home runs en route to the victory in the 2008 Home Run Derby.

Rewind 5 years before, Josh Beckett turns in a performance for the ages in game 6 of the World Series. Not only was this a David vs. Goliath performance, but it also was in the WORLD SERIES. Since then, Beckett has won a second title, that time with the Red Sox, but it was this game and that series that truly put him on a bigger scale.

See the recurring theme? It’s not about being an athlete who plays for one of the storied New York franchises (with the exception of Jeremy Lin). It’s really about not being afraid to step your game up when under the bright lights. We see players come to New York, chasing the money and big contract or for the glitz and glamour of playing in the Big Apple. But why not play somewhere else? Focus on the trip to New York and use it as a coming out party on the big stage. Obviously breakout performances come here and there. And usually they are never planned, but just food for thought. Pressure as a visiting player in New York is never anywhere close to what it is as a anyone who dons the NY on their jersey. So maybe, just maybe we can use that as a barometer of where future breakouts may come.

 

Hall of Fame Shutout

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Wow. Can’t say I didn’t see this one coming.

For the second time in 42 years and 8th time overall, the Baseball Writers decided not to elect one player into the Hall of Fame. Primarily citing the Steroid Era for the reason, they are sending a message to players from the Steroid Era, if you were rumored to have used Performance Enhancing Drugs, you will not get into the Hall of Fame.

It’s tough to see this happen. I grew up watching the careers of many of the players who found their way onto the ballot. There were some snubs which I thought were understandable, players like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmerio, and Mark McGwire. But then on the flip side, Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza were questionable snubs. Biggio was a hard nosed player, one who played the game right for 20 years in the league. Piazza on the other hand, was one of the most dangerous power hitting catchers of not only his generation, but in baseball history. Both players changed their positions, and added a different dimension to the game.

But while players get 15 years on the ballot, its never certain that they will get that chance to make the Hall of Fame. Jack Morris, a starter who dominated in the AL during the 1980s didn’t get the call, but he has one more chance next season. But next year’s ballot will have some stiff competition, with Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas all eligible for the first time.

There are 2 sides of the argument, one side has me a little infuriated while the other has me standing up for the integrity of the game. The career leader in home runs (Bonds), a pitcher with 354 wins (Roger Clemens), the only player who to hit 60 home runs in 3 different seasons (Sosa), and a player who hit 3,060 hits over his career (Biggio), all were shutout. Some had baggage from the Steroid Era, but does that really take away the fact that they weren’t great baseball players? Bonds was a guaranteed Hall of Famer before his alleged Steroid use, which many pinpoint to around 1998 or 1999. What about Roger Clemens? He was acquitted of all charges, and we need to remember he was one of the most dominant pitchers of his generation. But then there is Sammy Sosa. Repeatedly was caught trying to deceive us. He not only was mentioned in a report citing Performance Enhancing Drug use, but also was caught witha  corked bat during his career. Worthy of a call to the Hall of Fame? Probably not. If Pete Rose is still not in the Hall of Fame, Sosa will probably never make it. I appreciate what the Baseball Writers did, just not sure I completely agree with the statement.

Winter Meetings are here, Christmas come early?

This time last season, the Oakland Athletics began what many thought of as a fire sale. Trading off many of their best assets for prospects, those assets included the likes of Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, and Andrew Bailey.

The trades, while seemed very drastic at the time, brought back a deep haul of prospects which helped the A’s restock their farm system and rebuild their team for the future. Now that was the expected, the unexpected was that the A’s would be anywhere close to competing for a playoff spot in the near future. Well this past season, they shocked the world, including winning 6 straight to steal the division from the Texas Rangers.

Back in the present, we are now on the cusp of this years Winter Meetings. Last year there were some huge splashes that came out of this week, the Angels signing Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson and the Marlins beginning their famous spending spree. What sort of splash can we look forward to seeing next?

We have already seen the Blue Jays become contenders from the 12 player trade they pulled off with the Miami Marlins. But we need to remember something, contenders are NOT made in the offseason. Especially considering that Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle were both signed last season  with hopes of turning the Marlins into contenders. We all saw how that ended up.

The Blue Jays aren’t the only team to have made a splash this offseason. David Wright inked a 7 year extension with the Mets along with the Red Sox signing Mike Napoli to a 3 year deal this morning. While the Mike Napoli deal is a great deal for the Red Sox, I can’t say the same for David Wright. They ended up giving him $122 million over 7 years, a huge over payment for a player whose power numbers have declined as of late, regardless if they moved the fences in last season and he had a great season.

But arguably the biggest free agents on the block are Josh Hamilton and Zach Greinke. Why they are the most coveted, I can not begin to explain to you. Both have had rocky on and off field issues, and are looking for a long term deal. While they are both the most talented free agents, they come with baggage. But are they worth the money really? That is yet to be determined. But what I can tell you, is they are not worth the long term deal they are asking for.

Well, the Winter Meetings are here. I am excited to see what is in store for the A’s and the rest of MLB. I hope the A’s can make some sort of splash to stay in contention, just nothing as drastic as last year. Because this time last year I was very worried about the future. But hey, in Billy Beane we trust!

Game 7, Here we come!

WOW!

Wow. Are the Cardinals seriously giving this series away or are the Giants just that good and the proverbial team of destiny?

Game 6 last night in San Francisco proved a hell of a lot. The Giants seem to have all the momentum in the world, even with the Cardinals up 3-1 in the series. But let’s not get to hasty and get ahead of ourselves. Game 7 is tonight and the unfortunate thing is we all know that momentum in a series to these guys is everything.

The scary thing is that we have seen this scenario before. In the NLDS, the Reds were up 2-0 on the Giants and had opportunities to close out the series before spiraling out of control. A Scott Rolen error made all that possible in the game 3 win. That gave the Giants momentum. This series, an error by Lance Lynn gave the Giants life and they haven’t looked back since.

Chris Carpenter didn’t give his team a chance this game. Allowing 5 runs in 4 innings, identical to his game 2 start in which he also took the loss. This season we have seen a completely different side of the Cardinals long standing ace. He has won every decisive game it seems for the Cardinals during his career, but last night could not get it done.

Well, here we are once again. Another series this postseason has gone the distance, actually they all have except the ALCS which ended in a sweep. The Cardinals, who have won 6 straight elimination games are poised and ready. This is familiar territory for them. Last time they went up 3-1 in a series though, they lost in 7 games to the Atlanta Braves in 1996. Will history repeat itself? Or can they use their newfound clutch genes to somehow steal Game 7 in San Francisco?

The Giants on the other hand, who did not face a elimination game en route to their 2010 World Series title, are 5-0 this postseason in elimination games, but have never won an NLCS Game 7 before. Could this be there first? It’s game 7 tonight, everything is on the line.

Yankees are Done! Tigers vs. Cardinals rematch on the horizon?

Wow. The Detroit Tigers have swept the New York Yankees out of the playoffs. Somehow, I not surprised at all.

This playoffs seemed to be in jeopardy when Baltimore took them 5 games, threatening to knock the Yankees out of the first round in back to back seasons. But somehow someway the Yankees were able to get by Baltimore and move into the second round. Unfortunately for them, Detroit was not messing around.

Other than the comeback which we all saw in the 9th inning of game 1, the Yankees did not put up much of a fight this series. Other than Nick Swisher’s RBI double in the 6th inning of last night’s game, the Yankees scored all of their runs in the 9th inning. Not a good precedent for any team in the playoffs, let alone the Yankees. But hats off to the Tigers, they have proven to everyone that their average regular season means nothing, because in the playoffs, they have shown up. Whether it is the Cardinals or the Giants in the World Series, they are going to have a hard time.

Hey, I’m impressed myself. (via MLB.com)

Over in the NLCS, the Cardinals won game 4 to push their series lead to 3-1 and put the Giants on the brink. This is familiar territory for the Giants, as they were pushed to the brink by the Reds, only to win 3 straight on the road. Well they are in familiar territory this series, the only difference is they are facing a hot Cardinals team who is not ready to relinquish this lead.

In a game started by Tim Lincecum and Adam Wainwright, we expected it to be close, maybe a pitchers duel through the first few innings. But in the 5th inning, the Cardinals began to break through. Scoring 2 runs in the 5th, 6th and 7th innings, they were able to put the game out of reach and ensure the 3-1 lead in the series.

Can the Cardinals close out the Giants in 5? Or will the series go back to the Bay Area? We know not to count out this Giants team, but at the same time, the Cardinals are hot. Game 5 is tonight. If necessary we will have game 6 on sunday, assuming the Giants get it together.

3-1 Series lead for the Cardinals. Can the Cards close it out? (via MLB.com)

 

Verlander Strikes Again!

Once again, Justin Verlander came in and imposed his will on a game this playoffs. Unfortunately it was not one of his signature strikeout performances, but Verlander dominated over the 8 1/3 innings.

The 2012 Playoffs are turning into the Justin Verlander show!

It was a cold night in Detroit, cold not because its fastly becoming fall, but because the pitching version of Mr. October was on the mound for the Tigers. Verlander dominated the game throughout, not by his typical standards. He struck out just 3 batters, walked none, and took a shutout into the 9th inning. He was able to weasel his way out of trouble for the majority of the game, racking up 115 pitches going into the 9th inning.

But to lead off the inning, Verlander showed a little vunerability in his matchup with Eduardo Nunez. But pesky as he is, Nunez was able to work the count, and when Verlander hung a curveball on the 9th pitch of the at-bat, Nunez slammed it over the left-field fence giving the Yankees a glimmer of hope. It prevented the Yankees from becoming the first team to be shut out in consecutive playoff games since the 1991 Pirates.

After Brett Gardner followed with a pesky at-bat of his own, ending with a weak tap out to the pitcher, Verlander’s night was done at 132 pitches.

Although Verlander threw a no-hitter, won 24 games, won the MVP and Cy Young awards, this year he might come away with the ultimate prize, the World Series trophy. He has not allowed more than 2 runs this whole postseason, both on solo home runs.

Yankees are down 3-0 in the series with C.C. Sabathia on the mound tonight. Unless this is 2004 and the Yankees can turn into the Red Sox, they are done. No way they can come back from this deficit. They are an old team, missing their best hitter, while their highest paid player is sitting on bench. Might as well write this team’s death certificate for this playoffs.

Game 3 of the NLCS is tonight. Matt Cain to face Kyle Lohse Big moment in this series, with the Cardinals going home for 3 straight games. Whoever can take 2 out of 3 or better in St. Louis should have the clear advantage. My guess, Cards take 2 in St. Louis, then close out game 6 in San Francisco. Tune in to see if I’m right!