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.