Category Archives: baseball

Cabrera Outshines His Past

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A few years ago it looked like Miguel Cabrera was going to be that run of the mill athlete we all look at and frown with great disapproval.

He was an alcoholic, he was having personal life issues, he gave the normal spiel about how he was changing and was a new man. Then he relapsed.

The numbers didn’t matter, so what he was quite possibly this decade’s best hitter, so what he was one of the top 5 first basemen in the game? It didn’t matter because his negatives were starting to outweigh his gleaming talent.

I thought about this after watching Cabrera launch 3 home runs in the last 2 games as he has put the Detroit Tigers on his back and might lead them to a division title even though they are 2 games back with 15 to go.

Cabrera is putting together a monster season in one of the leagues toughest ballparks for hitters and after a position change that saw him shift from first to third base with the acquisition of Prince Fielder.

The numbers are awesome to us but the norm to Cabrera; .333 batting average, 41 home runs, 130 RBI. He leads the American League in average and RBI and is only 1 home run behind Josh Hamilton. We have had runs at the triple crown before but Cabrera’s run is very serious.

His performance has overshadowed a disappointing year for Detroit up to this point. With the Fielder transaction Detroit was supposed to run away with the AL Central and contain for the World Series.

If they didn’t have Cabrera they wouldn’t even be a playoff contender.

Cabrera is without question the league’s MVP. I know Mike Trout has been outstanding putting up historic numbers and Josh Hamilton has put together another outstanding year. However, Cabrera beats them both with his consistency, and clutch performance in recent weeks.

Cabrera hasn’t let the Tigers down in any situation that’s been placed in front of him this season. He’s picked up the slack for the early season loss of Victor Martinez, the loss of power in stretches from Fielder, and the loss of everything from Delmon Young.

Most importantly Cabrera has stuck to his word, he’s become the rare athlete that hasn’t let his demons consume him. As well as he’s performed on the field his biggest accomplishment has been not letting the Tigers down off of it.

Because of that we can now appreciate Cabrera for his great numbers that place him in the top five hitters of the last decade and had him on pace for a call to Cooperstown when it’s all said and done.

As the season winds down look for Cabrera to continue to pulverize pitching, carry the Tigers on his back and bring home a division title and mostly the AL MVP.

He deserves it. After years of watching athletes go back on their words and continue to travel down bad roads it’s good to see one that sticks to his words and lets his positives outshine the negative.

Hopefully Cabrera continues to reap the benefits of his good work on and off the field.


The Oriole Revival

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I knew this day was coming it was bound to happen.

The signs were everywhere, things were changing, I wrote about the possibility of it coming to fruition two years ago.

Even still the pessimist in me didn’t quite believe it, but now I do… The Baltimore Orioles are back and they are the most dangerous team in the American League.

We’ve been around this black before a bunch of times. The O’s start hot, look competitive, then around late May or early June they get left in the dust by the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox.

It was happening again this year, you saw that Jason Hammel was their “ace”, the improvement of Matt Wieters, how Adam Jones was bouncing back from a bad year and the rumors of Manny Machado being a cant miss prospect.

But these were the Orioles, how could I possibly take this seriously? Ever since I lived in Maryland I’ve seen this story.

Melvin Mora was their missing piece, Miguel Tejada would help turn the franchise around, Adam Loewen and Daniel Cabrera were aces in the making, and they all fell flat.

I could imaging O’s fans faces when after getting their hopes up early this season again that the team was beating blown past by the Yankees during a blistering June.

After the all-star break the Yankees were up by ten and the O’s were looking at adding another year to my favorite Orioles taunt…

What’s the difference between Yankee Stadium an Camden Yards? You can always get a hot dog in October in Yankee stadium.

(my favorite thing in life is to taunt Orioles fans. I absolutely love it. It was the only joy I got out of living in Maryland. Their fans are so bitter, so salty and so bad that their Yankee hate ticked me off.

The worst was when the Red Sox took off and O’s fans adopted them as their second team. Watch Camden Yards in a sea of red was beyond sickening. Baltimore fans never understood sticking with your team through thick and thin and I killed them for it every single time. I kind of miss it actually.)

Then all of a sudden Buck Showalter started working his magic coinciding with the Yankees catching the injury virus. It started with A-rod going down with a hand injury and has forged ahead with a string Wieters big hits, Jones’s MVP like clutchness, the revival of JJ Hardy and a rotation that I could tell you nothing about.

Their top guy is a dude called Wei-Yei Chen, he has a 4.06 ERA and 12 wins. Their closer Jim Johnson is someone the Yankees used to kill and he has an ERA near 3. I have to stop looking at stats because based off of stats alone I’m getting ticked off that this team climbed back into the race for the AL East.

There’s no way that a team with a shoddy rotation and a lineup without a guy batting over .300 should be ahead of the Yankees or Rays for that matter.

However, that’s the case.

With 20 games left the Orioles and Yankees are tied for the division lead and the Yankees have become a mash unit.

A-rod, CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Mark Teixiera and a cast of thousands have been on the DL in the last month. David Robertson hasn’t been the same since injuring himself earlier this season and now Derek Jeter has an ankle sprain.

I know Jeter said he isn’t panicking but he’s gotta be thinking what next?

With these injuries, lack of clutching hitting and a banged up rotation consisting of David Phelps and Freddy Garcia, how much longer can the Yankees hold on to the slimmest of leads?

This is an Orioles fan dream. A suffering Yankees team, a pennant race 16 years in the making, baseball fans around the country pulling for them and all the bounces seem to be going their way.

The real telltale sign was this weekend during a four game set at Camden Yards. Since I was a kid I called it Yankee Stadium south because there were always more Yankees than O’s fan packing the stadium.

Not this time. It was all orange everything, deafening noise and you couldn’t see a speck of blue.

That’s when it really hit me, the Orioles are back. Thank god I’m in not Maryland to be a part of it.


Lessons Learned From Ozzie Guillen’s Biggest Mistake

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Honestly, when I heard Ozzie Guillen’s most recent comments I thought about a few things:

1. It’s just Ozzie being Ozzie. He’s just stirring the pot, being controversial and trying to put himself in the limelight like he’s done so many times in his managerial career.

Guillen has a way of being brash and bombastful that’s both entertaining and head scratching. His ESPN:60 interview is still one of my favorites for his constant f bomb dropping and extreme ness for keeping it real.

That’s how Ozzie is. He never had and I thought never would slow his roll. He was as honest as they came in every sense.

2. The subject of Fidel Castro was one I never could grasp being an American from up north.

I knew about the Cuban Missile Crisis, his role of absolute power as a Cuban dictator and the fact that he wasn’t very well liked. I never quite understood why but in my head it was etched that Americans don’t like Castro and since that’s what I’m told than neither do I.

3. I factored all of this in my head when I heard Ozzie say that he loved and respected Castro in and interview with Time Magazine recently.

At first was the normal Ozzie being Ozzie reaction. “so what?”, I thought, “he has a different opinion of Castro big deal.”

I don’t like the guy (again not fully understanding who Castro was) but he’s entitled to an opinion.

However, it is a big deal, especially in South Florida where the Cuban population is larger than in any sector of the United States.

Being from the northern part of the states you don’t get the same vibe of Cuban culture that you do in Florida. Things like Castro are a huge deal down in Miami because so many people fled Cuba to be rid of the horrors and terror that ran wild in the Castro era.

To hear stories and read about them online in recent days gave me a new light on just how much of a terror Castro was.

Dan LeBatard of the Miami Herald (who is also Cuban-American) referred to Castro as the Cuban version of Adolf Hitler. To learn about a group of women in Miami called “The Women In White” who are wives of political prisoners in Cuba who were tortured and killed was eye opening.

For the people of South Florida who fled Cuba to find a peace of mind and freedom in the United States the subject of Castro is spine tingling and frightening to even think about.

To imagine the kinds of things that they witnessed were akin to the holocaust in a sense. While Castro wasn’t trying to kill off an entire race he was doing just as much damage in oppressing a culture.

Which brings me back to Guillen.

To understand the gut-wrenching and mind-numbing feeling of the crimes committed by Castro, then you could never love or respect a person who would even think of committing these acts.

Especially when you’re are the manager of a team that sits right in the heart of Little Havana in Miami and the fan base that you have targeted mostly is that of Latin decent.

Ozzie Guillen crossed a line. He was his normal bombastful self but was inconsiderate of the feelings of the people that he has lives around for the last decade of his life.

Guillen is a resident of Miami, he’s loved by the Latin community and was hired by the Marlins to be part of a driving force to bring more fans, Latin and otherwise to the new Marlins Park.

Guillen should’ve known better than to say what he said regarding Castro, not just for them but for the sake of his own Venezuelan people as well.

Castro was an ally of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez who is just as hated by the Venezuelan people and who Guillen has denounced before publicly.

If you aren’t a fan of Chavez then how can you respect one of his allies?

In his televised news conference I saw a different version of Ozzie Guillen. He was embarrassed, nervous, on edge, at the mercy of reporters and at times he looked like he didn’t want to be there. It was Ozzie on the hot seat, he spoke about being stupid, being misinterpreted but most of all he expressed embarrassment and shame.

He was shameful for letting down his team, his fans and most importantly his community for seemingly siding with one of the world’s most haneous leaders that did damage to many of the people that Guillen sees and talks to on a daily basis.

Guillen said he would do everything in his power to make things right within his community and he should.

After the last few days he’s learned how much his words can hurt a community and a culture, he may have finally learned that he doesn’t have to speak up on everything that crosses his mind and he taught me something.

As much as sports rule my daily life you have to be aware of everything.

I hated Fidel Castro but now there are reasons as to why.

I know his methods of madness, his atrocities committed and it’s affect on the people of Cuba.

I know that he and Hitler are equals in the eyes of Latin Americans and his impact should never be taken lightly especially to those that know it first hand.

Ozzie Guillen understands that just as much as I do now.


The End Of Joel Zumaya

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In 2006 I watched the Detroit Tigers eliminate my New York Yankees in 4 games in that year’s ALCS.

Of all of the torturous memories I have of that series (including A-Rod’s embarrassing performance) what really killed me was how helpless the Yankees looked against one man.

His name was Joel Zumaya.

Zumaya was Aroldis Chapman before he existed. Zumaya was a fireball throwing right-hander whose arms were covered in flames literally thanks to matching fire tattoos on his forearms.

My first memory of him was game 2 in Yankee stadium that year. After Justin Verlander pitched 6+ impressive innings and clung to a one-run lead Tigers manager Jim Leyland called on Zumaya to handle the middle of the Yankees order.

He did more than handle it, he dominated it.

He blew away Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez with ease as they looked helpless against his 100 mph fastball. As he walked off the mound I hoped to God that the Yankees would never run into him again.

Unfortunately I as well as many AL batters are getting their wish.

Zumaya ruptured another tendon in his pitching elbow yesterday ending another season in what has turned into a tragic career for him.

Zumaya hasn’t pitched a full season since his breakout year in 2006 and has missed the last two because his throwing arm can’t hold up.

What looked like the start of a promising career has turn into a repetition of setbacks that could end his career.

It’s sad because Zumaya had the kind of stuff that pitchers and coaches die for. The prospect of facing him in the AL for years and years in the seventh and eighth innings was a nightmare for me and any fan that watched their team play the Tigers.

Unfortunately for Zumaya and The Tigers that won’t be the case. His career likely is over before it ever really got started.

You always forget that the human arm wasn’t meant to throw that hard for extended periods of time. Zumaya found that out the hard way.

That ALCS performance will always be stuck in my head. I thought I was watching the next great reliever in the game who would dominate for years with an intimidating fastball that no one could hit.

I was… Unfortunately his arm didn’t see it that way.


I’ll Miss AJ Burnett

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I'll miss the man and the pies.

Truth be told I really did like AJ Burnett.

I love what he brought to the New York Yankees organization. He was the screwball in an overly professional environment that livened everyone up that was around him and made the clubhouse a nuthouse.

He for sure wasn’t the prototypical Yankee. He had the most tats on any Yankee I’ve ever seen, he was almost never clean shaven and his shaving cream was mostly used for his infamous after game pies to the face (which I think everyone loved in N.Y.).

But that was AJ.

He gave the Yankees a new identity. At the beginning of 2009 Burnett, C.C. Sabathia & Nick Swisher were all part of a wave of newbies that came to the Bronx and turned it on its head. They were all tatted up, Mohawk wearing guys that changed the culture of the Yankees internally and made things more entertaining.

Burnett more than anybody else was the catalyst of it all. His game ending pies became a fan favorite highlight after big wins and his arm helped produce some big wins in his first season in New York.

His seven inning gem in August of 09 against the Red Sox helped keep the Sox at bay as the Yankees eventually won the AL East. His best performance came in the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. After Cliff Lee put the Yankees in a one game hole Burnett came out in game 2 and pitched the game of his life to tie the series. In seven innings and with nine strikeouts Burnett flipped the World Series and turned it in the Yankees favor.

Without him the Yankees don’t win the World Series that year. That’s why I appreciate Burnett so much.

Was he maddening to watch? Absolutely. Burnett has all of the talent in the world; a top notch fastball, nasty breaking pitches and when he’s on he can be unhittable.

But when he’s bad he’s putrid.

He’s one of the wildest pitchers in the game. His location can be non existent, he can walk batters as consistently as he can throw wild pitches. Burnett mentally has never always been there. When he fails it affects him for starts at a time.

He presses too much. Once he walks a batter he panics, one walk leads to another, then another, then a hit, then a run, then before you know it Burnett is a mess and the Yankees are in trouble.

The worst case of this was last year against the White Sox. The Yankees had a 13-0 lead in the fourth inning. My buddy Mike sent me a text message saying “AJ is gonna find a way to give all 13 of those back. WATCH!” Sure enough it was 13-7 in the bottom of the fifth with two runners in scoring position and no outs when Joe Girardi pulled him.

I wanted AJ to succeed so badly because he was just a great dude and those memories of 09 were still fresh in my brain… But he made me and all Yankees fans want to kill him. When Burnett pitched I don’t think there was one Yankees fan who didn’t have a bottle of Jack Daniels next to them because you needed it to watch him.

The pitching coaches couldn’t fix him and he sure as hell couldn’t do it himself. In the end in order for the Yankees to have a shot at winning another title they had to get rid of one of the main catalysts to its last title.

Trading Burnett was the right thing to do in the long run for the Yankees. One of the Yankees weaknesses last year was its rotation and after acquiring Michael Pineda and Hideki Kuroda they seem to have fixed their problems (at least on paper). After the two additions there was no room for Burnett and his end was seemingly eminent.

Now he’s gone and he’s taken his pies with him.

As maddening as he was I really like AJ. Pittsburgh is gonna love his antics, the way he brings guys close together and how he livens up the clubhouse.

Hopefully it’s pitching coaches can keep him focused and on point and Burnett can put together some good seasons. The guy deserves it.

Sure he couldn’t find the plate if he tried in stretches and was wildly erratic… but AJ Burnett helped the Yankees win a World Series and made life fun for all in the process.

That more than outweighs all the other stuff.


Selig Should Strip Braun

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If Ryan Braun did in fact use performing enhancing drugs this season en route to his NL MVP then Major League Baseball should strip him of it.

No questions asked, no need for explanations, it’s all in black and white.

ESPN’s Outside The Lines reported this weekend that Braun tested positive for use of PHD’s after a routine test before the beginning of the playoffs. He was made aware of his positive test before the announcement was made of his win of the NL MVP a few weeks ago. Braun is appealing his suspension in hopes of having it overturned.

If it isn’t, then Bud Selig should strip Braun of his MVP award immediately and reward it to second place finisher Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Stripping Braun of the MVP would send a message to the entire league that this is how serious cheating is taken in MLB.

If Braun cheated en route to his MVP how could he possibly keep it? Braun hit over .330 with 33 home runs 112 RBI and 30 steals, but he did so with the aid of PHD’s. His numbers are therefore tainted and he is not worthy of being named MVP.

This would be a huge blow to baseball, Braun and the Milwaukee Brewers who are going through a resurrection.

The Brewers have not been a competitive franchise since they moved to the National League. After the acquisition of C.C. Sabathia in 2008 an their first playoff appearance since 1982 the Brewers became a fixture in the NL Central race culminating with this year’s run to the NLCS and Braun’s MVP award.

Even with the impending departure of first baseman Prince Fielder, Braun was still the face of the franchise and the team’s most popular player. Braun is a baby-faced, all around talent that was poised for superstardom and lifting the Brewers to new heights and give baseball reason to move past it’s steroid-filled past.

Braun was one of the new generation of young guns who had all of the tools of a power-hitting outfielder without the aid of PHD’s. He was the model of what the MLB wanted it’s new generation to be like… now after this positive test what do they do?

The best thing to do is take his MVP award away from him. Selig has to remove Braun’s name from the award because in this era steroids and PHD’s are no longer the thing to do amongst players. Braun has to be made poster-child for this new era. It would be the ultimate form of embarrassment and send the strongest message to your players and to fans that this is not tolerated anymore.

The NFL should’ve done this year ago when Shawne Merriman had a positive steroid test and was still voted defensive player of the year. The MLB can and should be different. There should not be awards given to cheaters who are caught , they have to be punished and it has to start with Ryan Braun.

I like Braun as a player, I think he will rebound from this incident and put up similar numbers when he is clean. However, right now he isn’t. He cheated to win the MVP award in the National League and he shouldn’t be allowed to keep it.

Just when you though the steroid era was over in baseball here it comes again. This time Bud Selig should act accordingly and strip Ryan Braun.


Pujols Proves It’s All About The Money

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Sports is all about money. Period. It’s about getting paid, but then again in our daily lives it’s the same for us. We all want our fair share of pay and we want to be paid what we feel that we deserve. We always want the best deal possible and once we get it we are gone.

There is no sense of loyalty in our day to day jobs especially if it’s a job that we do that we hate. If the money is better elsewhere we will leave at the drop of a hat.

For sports fans we view things on the field differently. We look at athletes not as workers but as idols. We worship the ground they walk on, buy those expensive jerseys and scream, cheer and holler at the mere sight if them.

All we ask in return is some loyalty. Loyalty to us for being loyal to you. All we ask is that the man the adore so much will stay and play for the fans that made him so loved.

However, loyalty is at a premium these days as athletes have emulated the working class by chasing more money instead of working with what the home team has and being an icon for far after they have retired.

You can add Albert Pujols to that list.

Pujols left the St. Louis Cardinals today to sign with the Anaheim Angels (I will not ever call them the Los Angeles Angels ever) for a ten year 250 million dollar deal that makes him baseball’s highest paid first baseman tied with Ryan Howard.

That’s what Pujols wanted all along. He wanted to be games highest paid player at his position and apparently was willing to throw away 11 years of goodwill to get it… and he did. Honestly though, who wouldn’t?

As a fan of the game it ticks me off. Pujols was a St. Louis Cardinal. He was the modern day Stan Musial, he could’ve been the greatest Cardinal of all time and placed on the same mantel as Musial, Bob Gibson and Ozzie Smith. That was his city. He began his career there and built up a legacy that looks as if it will be hard for anyone to touch.

Pujols has 445 homeruns, 2000 hits, and won two World Series rings with the Cards. He had the city in the palm of his hands and the love and admiration of everyone involved… and he let it all go for one extra year and 30 million dollars.

The Cardinals are a small market organization that doesn’t have the deepest pockets in the world. However, they did off Pujols a 9 year, 198 million dollar deal at the beginning of the season and upped it to 10/220 this week. This is an extremely lucrative deal that would make anyone happy… Not Pujols.

The deal would’ve made him the fourth highest paid first baseman in the game behind Howard, Mark teixiera and Adrian Gonzalez. Pujols always wanted to be the highest paid player at his position and if the Cardinals weren’t going to give it to him then was willing to look elsewhere.

The Angels came knocking and Pujols is now taking his talents to the west coast.

They made the deal that Pujols wanted and he took it. It didn’t matter that Pujols was a king in St. Louis, that he was playing for the second most decorated team in baseball behind the New York Yankees or that he could’ve been the greatest Cardinal that ever lived.

All that mattered most was the money. Once he got it, he rolled out.

I have resigned myself to the fact that there are no more lifers in sports. No one wants to play for the same team throughout their entire career and jump ship when the opportunity arises.

I just had hope that Pujols wouldn’t be that guy. I was hoping he would stay in St. Louis and finish what he started and be admired for it long after he was gone. Instead he took the money and ran.

St. Louis won’t be able to replace Pujols and all he meant. They won’t find another bat to replace his production in the middle of the lineup nor will they be able to find someone who meant as much to the city as he did. Eventually the pain of losing an all-time great will leave the senses of St. Louis, however it will be a long long time and they will be reminded of it every time they stare at first base and don’t see number 5 there.

It’ll be weird to see Pujols don a different shade of red come spring training. When he puts on that bright red cap with a giant A with a halo above it in the next few days Albert Pujols begins the last chapter if his career. He is now an Angel for better or worse. He’ll hit his 700th home run there, he’ll obtain his 3000th hit there and he’ll finish his hall of fame career there.

He should’ve done it all as a Cardinal, he should’ve been loyalty to the fan base that made him as big as he is.

However, loyalty in sports doesn’t exist anymore, it’s all bout the money. As much as I despise Pujols’s decision to leave St. Louis I can’t judge him.

If a job called us up and offered any of us big a pay increase we’d leave jump ship too. That’s just how it is.


A Whole New Ballgame For The Marlins

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You know why I’ve hated the Miami Marlins as an organization? Because they are the anti-Yankees. They don’t spend money on anything. They are like a major league farm team that brings up all of their talent and then the give it away before they have to shell out the big bucks to pay them.

They did it with Josh Beckett, they did it with Miguel Cabrera, they did it with Robb Nenn, hell I could on and on if I wanted to. Ever since their inauguration 20 years ago the Marlins have been a major seller making fire sales a routine thing.

After they won each of the World Series titles they gave away players like they were cars at an auto auction. Bobby Bonilla, Gary Sheffield, A.J. Burnett, and anyone you can think of were being sold for younger cheaper talent as the Marlins put money before wins.

they’ve routinely had one of the league’s lowest payrolls. One year it topped out at $30 million… That’s the left side of the Yankees infield, that’s the Phillies first one and two starters, that’s the Cardinals outfield.

What made things worse was owner Jeffrey Loria’s gall to blast the Yankees a few years back about how they have too much money and are what’s wrong with the game… He said this knowing damn well that he was taking $15 million dollars a year away from the Yankees, Red Sox and other franchises in revenue sharing and instead of using it to better his investment he pocketed the money.

If I were George Steinbrenner I would’ve cracked him across his knee with a lead pipe and told him to put my money to good use. I mean that’s just me.

However, this offseason is unlike any other for the Marlins. They have a brand new stadium, a new name (I know half of you were like who the hell are the Miami Marlins?), and the Marlins have the urge to get this team to another level of competition.

And they’re doing it by trying to spend money.

The Marlins have had a busy offseason in acquiring manager Ozzie Guillen from the White Sox and have offered contracts to Mark Bueherle, Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols and are pursuing closer Heath Bell.

These apparently are not the Marlins that were accustomed to.

Maybe Loria feels the pressure for tge Marlins to finally be a player in one of America’s largest sports markets. With a new stadium being built along with a whole new makeover Loria probably feels that this is the time to make the Marlins a yearly threat in the NL.

After watching The Braves make moves for years, the Phillies bolster their rotation and even the Nationals begin to make noise the Marlins feel as though relevance finally matters over money.

The contract offers to Pujols, Reyes and Bueherle shows that maybe the Marlins may finally believe in the old motto “you have to spend money to make money.”

From a baseball sense on the field the possibilities of these guys all signing and playing together would be endless. Adding Reyes to the top of the order with Emilio Bonafacio and sandwiching Pujols between Hanley Ramirez and Mike Stanton would give the Marlins the most feared lineup in the NL.

Plus the addition of Bueherle to the rotation would give them a crafty veteran to go with all that young talent and give Josh Johnson a viable number two starter behind him in the rotation.

The Marlins would immediately be a divisional contender and a player for the Wildcard.

My only question is where would Reyes play in the infield?

The Marlins first big signee two years ago was Hanley Ramirez in an effort to have a face of the franchise and show a commitment to it’s future. Do you move the franchise shortstop to second or third so Reyes can play short, or vice versa?

Ramirez is a talented shortstop who still hasn’t reached all of his potential and has a knack for laziness at times. If the Marlins obtain a few of these players would that finally get his mojo going and help him realize the potential that he has? If it doesn’t then you know Ozzie will.

Guillen has a low tolerance for BS and won’t put up with Hanley’s prima Donna act, but if these deals go through and the Marlins become the talk of the town he probably won’t have to.

Who knows if Pujols, Reyes, Bueherle or Bell will actually sign with the Marlins. The Marlins are showing that it’s all about wins now and that they are ready to put their meagerness aside and become a contender.

With a new stadium, name and philosophy the Miami Marlins are ushering in a new era in South Florida. It’s good to see them finally putting all of that money to good use.


Blaming Bartman

 

A memory Cubs fans would like to forget.

You know why I hate Kerry Collins? Because Kerry Collins horrible play led to the New York Giants losing Super Bowl 34 to the Baltimore Ravens.

When you look up horrible in the dictionary you see a picture of Collins throwing the ball directly into the teeth of the Ravens D over and over and over again (next to him would be a picture of Jason Sehorn getting beaten by Brandon Stokley but I digress.). That was probably the second worst sports day of my life losing the Super Bowl to Baltimore while living in Baltimore (the first is of course 2004… No comment). I will never forgive Kerry Collins ever in life for that performance and will probably hate him until the day I die. I still think Danny Kanell should’ve been our starter… seriously.

That is the diatribe of a sports fan. We remember the bad moments just as much as we remember the good ones. We remember the goats as much as we do the heroes and we never let them live it down. It’s kind if crazy to place blame on a million dollar athlete for having a bad day on certain occasions when we’ve messed up our share of orders and tasks at our jobs. However, sports is our get away. When it’s great we love it but when it’s bad it becomes another problem in our life and we immediately look for someone to place the blame on.

Some athletes deserve it whether it Collins for the Super Bowl, Bill Buckner for the 1986 World Series or Chris Webber in the 1993 national championship. In these situations you can point at the athlete in question and place blame on him for what went wrong because his error is the main reason for the loss.

Prior's performance after the Bartman incident ultimately cost the Cubs.

It’s ok for an athlete, it comes with the territory. But sometimes blame is placed on some entity when it wasn’t their fault to begin with.

I present to you Steve Bartman.

If you don’t know this story then you must either hate sports or live in Siberia. Bartman is the man who in the eighth inning of game 6 of the 2003 NLDS reached for a foul ball that was in play and cost the Cubs an out that would’ve gotten them and pitcher Mark Prior out of a jam and placed them closer to a berth in the World Series.

To most people that watch sports his interference with that ball cost the Cubs the possibility of ending their miserable stretch without a World Series title an continued “The curse of the Billy Goat” and every other fable associated with their 103 years of futility.

This is silly.

Bartman is not an athlete. He did not throw one pitch, hit one ball, make one error. He didn’t give up 8 unanswered runs in that eighth inning, did not blow a lead in game 7, nothing. Sammy Sosa’s bat went cold. Cubs relievers couldn’t get me out if they tried, nothing went right at all on the field in those two lonely nights at Wrigley in the fall of 2003.

Steve Bartman had nothing to do with any of it.

This is similar to the Orioles fans squabbles about how Jeffrey Maier and his interference of Derek Jeter’s home run ball in game 1 of the 1996 ALCS changed the fortunes of that franchise. Was it that or the fact that your team folded at home after those two games at Yankee Stadium. O’s fans forget that they won game 2 and still earned a split in the Bronx… now what’s your team’s excuse?

The same goes for Bartman. He is the scapegoat for a team that choked away a shot at making the World Series and had a serious shot at winning it. They had a healthy Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, a potent lineup with Sammy Sosa in his prime and a 3-2 series lead. Prior was rolling along and then that incident happened and I’m supposed to believe that Bartman was reason that the Cubs bullpen imploded and they were helpless to do anything about it? No.

Unfortunately the fans of those lovable losers in Chicago’s north side feel differently.

Sammy Sosa went AWOL when the Cubs needed him.

Bartman has become his own fable so to speak. No one knows exactly where he is. Some say he moved to Florida, some say he’s hiding out in Chicago somewhere, maybe he’s in Thailand partying with Tupac and Elvis.

After he reached for that foul ball he was booted out of Wrigley, cursed at by fans, threatened to be killed, feared for his life and hasn’t been able to live a normal life since. Advertisers have reached out to him to do commercials and have offered him upwards of six figures to do so. He’s turned them all down because he’s over it and wants it to go away. I don’t blame him.

He just did what tons of fans do on any given weekday or night at the ballyard and has faced hell for it ever since. Bartman is in exile for being an overzealous fan and being blamed for the failures of a franchise. I don’t know what’s more sad, that or the fact that the Cubs still have to pay Alfonso Soriano $18 million for a few more years.

Since that night in 2003 the Cubs have blown up the “Bartman Ball” (really?) and are still looking for a championship to call their own. After another disappointing season they’ve turned to Theo Epstein to right their ship. Epstein turned the hell bitten Red Sox into a winner and looks like the man for the job in Chicago.

Whatever he does hopefully he can put a winning team on the field and lead the Cubs to a title so that their fans can relax and so that Steve Bartman can breathe easily.

Bartman has been taking unfair heat for the Cubs failure of 2003. ESPN did a documentary on it, Moises Alou is still heated about that ball and Cubs fans still hate the guy.

Just remember that Prior and the bullpen could’ve gotten outs, Sosa and company could’ve gotten hits and the actual players for the Cubs still could’ve won that game or game 7. It’s not Bartman’s fault nor has it ever been.

I have reason to hate Kerry Collins. If he didn’t crap the bed then the Giants would’ve beaten Baltimore in Super Bowl 34. Cubs fans should follow suit and blame the team that let it get away on the field and not the guy that couldn’t catch a foul ball in the stands.


Francona Deserved Better

 

Terry Francona's dismissal was disgraceful.

At first The Boston Red Sox collapse was funny. It was one big joke that made me guffaw until I spilled my beer on the floor at Brothers, a bar in Columbus, Ohio. It was a dream come true for a Yankees fan. I got to watch the Sox get killed on TV and watch them suffer. It was like watching the pre-2004 Sox all over again.

After today’s revelation by the Boston Globe I’m not only completely over the Sox collapse, I’m disgusted by it.

After reading details entailed by the Boston Globe report on Terry Francona and the Sox September woes I feel bad for Francona and feel even more hatred towards the Sox as to how they handled the situation as it unfolded.

The Globe stated that Francona’s failing marriage and use of pain killer pills were the main factors in the demise of the Sox. Francona’s marriage to his wife of 30 years Jacque was deteriorating and it forced him to live in an apartment for the remainder of the season. To some in the organization that distraction affected the team play and maybe Francona’s decision making.

Also in the article sources said hat starters John Lackey, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett would drink beer, eat fried chicken and play video games on their off days while the team was collapsing around them. Also Jason Varitek, David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis had bailed on their leadership duties and seemed disinterested in the games.

Um… Yikes.

Beckett and Lester's actions cost Francona his job.

First of all I don’t think the Globe nor the Sox should bring Francona’s personal life into play here. What happens in that man’s home should stay there. There is a time and place for personal and business matters and in an article in the Globe is not the place for them.

To say that his marital life issues were a distraction is total BS. If they were such an issue then why were the Sox the best team in baseball from May until August? Apparently he seemed to be doing a pretty darn good job managing the team then while his marriage was crumbling.

It’s a poor excuse to use on the guy the won you 2 world titles when you hadn’t won one in the previous 86 years. I understand that collapses like these need a scapegoat but there’s a difference between professionalism and tastelessness and believe me the Red Sox and the Globe toed that line here.

Speaking of tastelessness…

If you were fighting for your playoff lives, trying to win a spot to play in the World Series and your team is falling apart around you would you be eating take out and playing video games in your own clubhouse? I don’t care how much you got tired of hearing Tito’s voice or if you lost respect for him as a manager, you’re a major league ball player. You are paid ex amount of dollars to perform and should be accountable for your action. I you have an injury, aren’t pitching well or want to help your teammates then go throw some balls around, help Kevin Weilan with his control or do some stretches. I would’ve been beyond irate if I found my players doing that while my team is fighting for their lives.

(especially Lackey. You’ve been terrible since you signed your deal and instead of wanting to get better you loof around? I would’ve shanked him the quickness.)

With that said, Francona should’ve taken more initiative and gotten control of his clubhouse. He should’ve talked to his guys and laid down the law… and he should’ve had help.

Youkilis, Varitek and Ortiz especially should have said something to their teammates about professionalism since they are captains. This whole thing shows how little respect the Sox had for Francona and why they really collapsed. I’m especially disappointed in Ortiz. I mean Francona stuck with him when he couldn’t hit anything. He kept in the lineup last year when all of his power numbers were down and showed loyalty to him and this is the thanks that he gets? If Ortiz wanted a new deal from me I would tell him to kick rocks and take Lackey, Lester and Beckett with him.

Good luck finding another guy to do this for you Boston.

Boston writer Gordon Edes said that Francona should’ve known better, in my opinion Francona deserved better. He did what no other manager in the previous 86 years did in Boston, he won titles. He took a questionable group of guys, dealt with horrible deals given to J.D. Drew, Carl Crawford, Lackey, Beckett and Dice-K and he still won 600 Games, 2 divisional titles and made the Red Sox a bigger draw than the Yankees on the road and this is how he goes out.

He goes out not just with the biggest collapse in the history of the league under his belt, but with his baggage aired out for all to see, an unloyal clubhouse that left him hung out to dry and no respect for his accomplishments.

When the Yankees bagged Joe Torre I thought it was classless to offer such a crappy extension, turns out we look like Mother Teresa compared to the Sox.

Now that we know the full details behind the Meltdown In Beantown I feel bad for Francona. He deserved more backing from the team that he led to heights they hadn’t seen in ages, he deserved more respect from players that he stuck with and ha faith in and deserved a better exit from a city that he embraced and gave a winner.

In the end Terry Francona deserved better that this Boston screw party. It gives me more reason to hate them going into next year.