Tag Archives: baltimore orioles

All Praise Jesus

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Start all of blasphemous nicknames, biblical references and praise his name… Jesus (Montero) has arrived and he’s as good as advertised.

After a slow start last week versus the Boston Red Sox Montero let his presence be known this afternoon in the Yankees 11-10 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

Montero broke an 8-8 tie in the fifth inning with an opposite field blast for his first career home run that brought the fans in the Bronx to their feet and earned him a curtain call. It was a mere appetizer to his main course.

With the score still 9-8 in the seventh inning and Russell Martin standing at first, Montero took a Jason Johnson offering over the left field wall for his second blast of the game and gave the Yankees an 11-8 lead.

As it turns out that last blast was crucial as the O’s scored two late runs before Mariano Rivera shut the door in the ninth inning.

Montero’s big bat overshadowed a poor performance by Freddy Garcia and another strong day for Robinson Cano who is speeding his way into the MVP discussion again. This day was all about Montero.

Montero has been a highly touted catching prospect for the Yankees for the last few seasons and they’ve made him almost untouchable when it comes to trade bait.

When the Mariners were interested in trading Cliff Lee to the Yankees last year they were adamant in gaining Montero and the Yankees did not oblige. His name has been thrown around and about in various other trade rumors but the Yankees were very adamant in keeping him.

Those theories were put to the test this year as Montero struggled in triple a ball and saw a decline in his numbers. There has also been a concern that he may be just an offensive player and doesn’t have the defensive set to be an effective catcher.

Even with these concerns the Yankees, who desperately need hitting out of the DH spot, decided to call him up and give him a shot.

At times he’s looked lost like most rookies, but this weekend he found a little confidence and ripped a few singles against Toronto…

Today however, the guy that that Yankees think he’ll become offensively arrived in stylish fashion.

His two home runs and confidence at the dish were what the Yankees were looking for when they called him up from Wilkes-Barrie. Yankee brass figured that maybe he was getting bored with the minor leagues and needed a new test, if this is a preview of what’s to come then they maybe right.

Part of me is saying that it’s only the Orioles and he needs to face better pitching to see if he truly is ready for prime-time.

The other part of me is giddy as hell. If this truly is a preview of what’s to come from Jesus Montero then count me in as a believer in Jesus.

I can’t wait to see what clever Jesus tie ins they have for this guy when it comes to memorabilia.


The Birthday Confessions Of A Sports Writer

Nothing will ever beat this game.

So I turned —- today (you’ll never get my age ever in life), and I’m currently nursing a hangover thanks to the normal heavy dosage of liquor consumption made possible by my friends (raspberry rum and soda and raspberry vodka and soda are two totally different entities, ugh).

This is hardly the condition I should be in to write a blog especially when there isn’t much to discuss right now.

However, in this silly mind of mine I decided to give you some of my sports confessions.

We as sports writers get our favoritism, views and beliefs in sports at a young age and two things happen; either you stick to your guns or you switch up sides.

I’m the latter of this. Truth is my New York sports bias is a recent thing. I used to…

Wait, let’s do this in a proper numerical style. I mean why give you a drawn out explanation then get into the confessions? I think we’ll do 24 facts, not my age but the number I wanted to wear if I ever got to play with Michael Jordan as a kid because 23 was sort of taken.

1. I hated New York sports teams growing up

Giants, hated them. Yankees, they sucked. Mets, them too. Knicks, yuck. Rangers… That’ll be number two.

My mom forged my sports life as a kid. I loved who she loved because she was a sports nut. She loved Joe Montana, Michael Jordan, and the Mets. All I knew was the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bulls, baseball cards and that NY sucked.

I actually cried when the 49ers lost to the Giants in 1991 when they were trying to three-peat. That seems so weird now especially now that I scream at Eli Manning every two seconds and own 8 giants jerseys.

This is how I got into hockey.

(my favorite sports moment is still Super Bowl 23. Me and my mom watched that game on the couch together with me curled up underneath her. As Montana led the 49ers up the field on that last late fourth quarter drive my mom and I slowly pulled away from each other and moved closer to the TV until Montana hit John Taylor for the winning score. You should’ve seen us scream and parade around our house like we had won the Super Bowl. That will never be beat.)

2. I used to hate hockey.

I mean I’m black and from the projects in Brooklyn, NY. My mom hated hockey and so did I. She always thought it was a dumb sport and there were no black players so there was no point for it. Since I followed her lead with everything (except the mets, I wasn’t that dumb) I followed that philosophy.

Then the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup and I watched it all. That hooked me.

I was in Washington D.C. when it happened but I felt the energy of New York. I learned about the 54 year curse, how much of a hockey city New York actually is and how truly bad ass Mark Messier truly was.

After that run you couldn’t pull me away from a hockey game. Even when the New Jersey Devils killed hockey in the late 90’s I was still into it heavy.

(I guess you could say the Rangers made me a New York fan. After that run in 94 I felt that I had to like all New York teams because how could I like teams from other cities when I was a true New Yorker?)

3. I was a Michigan fan growing up. (Florida State too.)

In New York there was no college team team in the area that drew attention. Every Saturday the TV selections were Notre Dame, Florida State on ESPN and the Big Ten on ABC with Michigan on every single week.

Truth is I always wanted to go to Michigan. I loved the colors, the fight song, Brian Griese, Elvis Grbac, Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson… And the fab five… And Glen Rice’s performance against Seton Hall in 1989….

I still have more great Michigan memories than Ohio State memories… AND I WENT TO OHIO STATE!!!

I could point out moments in great games like the Rose Bowl in 1997 versus Washington State, I cried when Kordell Stewart’s hail Mary beat Michigan in the Big House, I was so happy when we got revenge in Boulder some years later…

I should probably stop there before all of my Ohio State buddies kill me.

4. I never truly liked Tiger Woods

HELLLLOOOO HEISMAN!

There was always something off about him to me. He was too pristine, too clean. Me being from the projects I felt as though with black men there had to be some nasty streak in you somewhere. Jordan had one, Michael Irvin too, Jerry Rice was a prick at times but Tiger was too perfect.

I didn’t like how he always won and how everyone jumped on his bandwagon. I didn’t like how black people crowned him as our king of the moment when he didn’t seem interested in being black (whatever that means) I just never liked him.

When this scandal tore him down I laughed at him, but it didn’t bother me too much. It was just another athlete taking a nose dive. I don’t feel bad for him, I don’t care that he’s not playing well and honestly I dont care if he ever does again.

5. Maryland made me love Duke

I used to be the biggest Duke hater alive… They beat UNLV when I loved Larry Johnson, they prevented the Fab Five from winning a title, The Laettner shot that beat Kentucky made me want to stab myself… and I couldn’t believe that this many white guys were good at basketball and that they kept beating brothers.

(side note 2: for Grant Hill and coach K to criticize Jalen Rose for saying that Hill was an Uncle Tom because he played at Duke was silly. Everyone in the projects felt like that. We liked Kenny Anderson, baggy shorts and baldies. Hill and any other Dukie was a sellout to us. How could they play with all of these white boys and not there own people? Do I think like that now? Of course not. I understand what coaching can do and that you can ball no matter the color. But still you can’t criticize a guy for saying something that the majority of people like him felt was true.)

Then I moved to Maryland where they hate anything New York; Yankees, Jets, Metrostars it didn’t matter. I didn’t understand the hatred because one, New York wasn’t their rival in anything and two, because it didn’t make sense. It got to the point where I kept hearing Yankees this, Giants that, blah blah blah that I got angry and said that I would hate the Terrapins just out if spite.

And who do Terps fans hate more than anything?… Duke.

So there I was cheering for Duke, the team I always hated but because I wanted to piss Marylanders off I was forcing myself to like.

That’s when I fell in love with Jay Williams, Shane Battier and Carlos Boozer and they had me hooked.

It was Williams especially because he was a Jersey kid and I always liked guys from my neck of the woods. I loved his game, fearlessness and how he ate the Terps for lunch. His ten points in 58 seconds still makes me laugh.

Watching Maryland fans whine and cry more than made up for the Yankees not winning a World Series for ten years.

6. I didn’t care that Brett Hull’s skate was in the crease.

The skate had nothing to do with the goal. Get over it Buffalo.

Dumbest… Rule… Ever!!! So many goals were disallowed because of that dumb rule that never should have been made because half of the time the skates never interfered with the goalie.

Did Hull affect Hasek’s angle? No. Did Hull interfere with Hasek? No. Did he skate in late and come up on the side if Hasek an nothing to do with the goal? Yes.

Ok then. Sorry Buffalo deal with it.

7. My least favorite sports moment as a kid was watching my Oakland A’s get swept by the Cincinnati Reds.

How did Eck, Dave Stewart, Rickey Henderson and my favorite player Mark McGwire not only lose but look awful against the Reds? Was Jose Rijo that good? How about Chris Sabo and Eric Davis? That was the first time in my life where I went to school the next day after a game and couldn’t stop thinking how in the hell that just happened.

The A’s were so much better, they had the pitching, the hitting and the power and they lost to The Nasty Boys?

I need a juice box.

8. Syracuse-Georgetown is the best basketball rivalry in college basketball

John Thompson, Jim Boeheim, Billy Owens, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Sherman Douglas, technical fouls, physical basketball, a loud Carrier Dome and an even louder Capital Center… God I love the Big East.

9. I will always hate Texas A&M football

Why? Because they screwed Michael Bishop out of everything.

A title, a Heisman, and a pro career.

I only watched Kansas State because of Bishop and his speed, arm and instinct. I couldn’t name another Wildcat from that team but I just loved Bishop.

I didn’t care that he was six feet tall or needed some fine tuning. I just knew that once K-State got to the National Championship all the world would see his skill…

And Sirr Parker killed that.

I’m glad the SEC said no to you.

10. I really don’t care who did steroids in baseball

It was legal and it brought the game back.

Where would baseball be if Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa didn’t have their home run chase?

Steroids or not that was a magical summer where everyone sat in front if the television and their lives hinged on every at bat. It was awesome; McGwire found the fountain of youth, Sosa emerged as a superstar and the game was popular again.

As much as everyone hides it we love baseball. We all played it, watched it live and have fun at the yard whenever go. The game was suffering well after the strike of 1994 it needed a boost and this was it.

Yeah he did steroids... he also saved baseball.

Did the use get out of control? Yes, but to me it was worth it and I’ll always remember the summer of 1998 as the summer that baseball truly came back.

11. Steffi Graf is my least favorite athlete ever.

She beat Monica Seles who was my favorite women’s player at the time, she beat Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, she won seemingly every tournament she played and won with ease.

She wasn’t snooty, had no mean strike, no off the court issues… nothing.

She was just a machine, a well-oiled wrecking ball that made Saturday’s at Roland Garros and Wimbledon no fun to watch because you knew she was going to win.

She was the Bulls before the Jordan, golf before Tiger and Yankees before their rise…

And she was a total class act. That’s why I hated her I guess.

12. The only reason why I hate The Pittsburgh Steelers is Super Bowl 40

The Seahawks played against 17 men at a time, the Steelers and the refs. Quite honestly the worst called game ever and the Steelers acted like nothing happened. I still want Mike Holmgren to body slam Bill Cowher.

13. If Ohio State plays Syracuse in anything… I’m cheering for Syracuse

Buckeye Nation is really going to kill me.

Now I was a Michigan fan and I loved the Seminoles but I always wanted to be an Orangeman (and I would’ve if tuition wasn’t $42,000 a year).

Of course in basketball I loved the Orange and always will, however I like Syracuse football as much as I love OSU football.

Those were the Donovan McNabb days when he was slinging it to Marvin Harrison. I had a man crush on McNabb because he was just a beast. He could run it, throw it and make a three pointer every once in awhile. He was the first in the era of the scrambling QB and he made it work.

Harrison I thought was going to be the next Jerry Rice, and he almost was. He made everything look easy and could catch any ball thrown at him. With those two guys I thought it was the beginning if a dynasty at The Cuse on the field…

But we know how that went.

Fast forward to this year and The Cuse is on its way back. Coming off of an 8-5 year Syracuse has an outside shot at the Big East and could win 9 games. I’m honestly more excited for Orange football than Buckeye football.

Maybe it was the scandal, the tats, the selling of rings but I’m over it. I want to cheer for something I can believe in and right now my childhood favorites are trending up. I’m not totally abandoning Ohio State, but if they square off against the Orange I might be in a Syracuse Marathon Men shirt.

I’m looking so bad to the alumni right now.

My man Donovan.

14. I laughed at The Knicks when Reggie Miller scored 8 points in 17 seconds

I mean it was funny.

15. I still think the Ravens fixed Super Bowl 34

THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL THAT BALTIMORE CAN SCORE 34 POINTS!!!! ESPECIALLY AGAINST A TOP FIVE DEFENSE!!! AND I’M STICKING WITH THAT!!!!

16. My first pair of basketball kicks weren’t Jordan’s… They were Ewing’s

That orange and blue with the basketball hanging off the side… C’mon son! They were way fresher than the Jordans.

17. As much as I loved Mark Messier my favorite Ranger is Adam Graves

You ever date a girl who isn’t prettier than other girls that you’ve dated, doesn’t have big boobs, doesn’t have a great body, but makes you happy and does all the little things? That’s Adam Graves. He wasn’t as well known as Messier or Brian Leetch, he wasn’t as rough as Jeff Beukeboom and he wasn’t Mike Gartner fast.

But he always scored goals when you needed them, always killed penalties well and always laid it out in the ice. I was more upset when we traded him to San Jose than when Wayne Gretzky retired… true story.

18. The first game that made me throw a violent tantrum and had me cursing up a storm was the Mariners-Yankees ALDS game 5 in 1995.

Literally cursed so loud that my mom barged into my room and caught me about to tear into my book bag.

I hate that the M’s got into the playlets in the first place with that late season run (I was cheering for then to make it at first because I loved Ken Griffey Jr… Learned that lesson) I hate that Randy Johnson was so unhittable and I hate Jack McDowell because he had no business being out there amongst other reasons for hating him.

When we fired Buck Showalter at the end of the year I was part pissed and part happy. I was happy he was gone but mad that he cost us so many games including that one.

19. Pete Sampras- Andre Agassi is still my favorite sports rivalry.

This was the first sports thing that me and my mom went at each others throats about. She loved Agassi, the image, the hair, the return game and that he seemed like a down to earth guy. I liked Sampras’s nerve, his serve, the way that he played the game. He was the first cerebral athlete that I admired because he always seemed in control.

She called Sampras snooty, I called Agassi a punk, yeah a tennis rivalry broke up our house, weird I know.

It was the tennis that was so great. They were constantly gunning for each other and only measured themselves against each other. Jim Courier, Boris Becker. Stefan Edberg, none of them mattered. Sure they were good competition but Sampras only cared about Agassi and vice versa

You know these Roger Federer- Rafael Nadal matches? Those were three to four times a year for Sampras and Agassi or so it seemed. They were epic and just had you sitting on your hands past the third set.

Man did they hate each other.

They wanted to kill each other I thought. It was the perfect match if wits; Sampras and his finesse versus Agassi and his power. The series never tilted too far in one way. Sampras won his titles as did Agassi but Each has their own bragging point; Sampras won 7 Wimbledon crowns the most ever while Agassi has the career slam.

(side note 3: you know how I know this rivalry was really nasty? Last year in a charity match Sampras teamed with Federer to take on Agassi and Nadal. Agassi and Sampras traded barbs that were more than just smack talk. The crowd and Federer and Nadal just stood there with the crackers looks on there faces. I guess time doesn’t heal all wounds.)

20. The biggest choke job I ever saw was at the 1994 World Cup when Roberto Baggio missed a wide open net in penalty kicks costing Italy a chance at beating Brazil

I didn’t understand soccer at the time and didn’t like it… But even I was saying to myself “how did he miss that?”

21. As much as I hate the SEC, Nebraska is still my least favorite college team

They are still the most overrated program ever. They never threw the ball and no one could stop them. I remember watching the 1996 National Title game against Florida (who I also hated thanks to my allegiance to Florida State) and watch them beat down a team that beat down everyone and I couldnt understand it.

That Tommie Frazier run was the perfect example. You know option right was their bread and butter, they were in position had him stopped, yet 65 yards later the Huskers were up 62-24.

I can’t believe in 1994 that Nebraska and Penn State both finished undefeated but Nebraska won the outright title. PENN STATE WOULD HAVE KILLED THEM!!! Kerry Collins, Ki-Jana Carter and Kyle Brady along with that defense would’ve stopped that option I guarantee it.

Same with the split tile in 1997 with Michigan. Michigan was definitely the better team and had a better defense. However, everyone loved Nebraska, the loved Tom Osbourne a his gimmick offense. It ticks me off and I hope Ohio State beats them by 80 this year.

(by the way, you know what could’ve solved the issues of 1994 and 1997? A playoff… Just saying)

22. I still get nervous when I see a Florida state kicker kick

Wide right… Wide right 2… Wide left… That’ll do it to you.

Ugh!

23. I used to love Cal Ripken Jr an thought he was the greatest shortstop ever…

Then I moved to Maryland and heard about Cal so much that I wanted to puke… oh and Derek Jeter happened.

Cal made me want to be a shortstop. He hit for power, drove in runs and was great defensively. He had the iron man streak and everything pulled me in.

I had a serious collection of Cal Ripken cards that I wouldn’t sell for anything…

Then I got older and studied the game more and realized that he was alright.

One, that streak is the most overrated streak ever in sports. Of those 2600+ games only 200 of them were meaningful. He trotted out for so many bad teams and bad years that really the streak took on it’s own life because that’s all there was in Baltimore.

When you look at Brett Favre’s streak in the NFL it is way more impressive because Favre played in title games, won 3 MVP’s, went to the playoff in all but 3 or 4 years and carried his team to victory. Ripken wasn’t even close.

Then there was the fact that he wasn’t a great hitter. He always hovered around .275 and once his power went so did he.

Then there’s this fact… for all of the mess about Derek Jeter’s defense did you know that Ripken has more career errors, more 20+ error seasons and a lower fielding percentage than Jeter.

Maybe we should steer some of this overrated talk in Cal’s direction.

Ripken was good but he isn’t Jeter. Jeter has played in way more important games, come through in the clutch too many times and has made more ridiculous plays than Ripken ever did.

It’s not even close as to who’s better. Jeter is hitting almost .300 and playing decent defense at shortstop at age 37, Ripken was already tanking.

I’m sorry Maryland and baseball critics, Ripken was highly overrated. It just took me a few years to figure it out.

24. My middle school teacher Ms Rodriguez first put it in my head that I should be a sports writer.

We had a project where we had to write something and put it into summary form for class. I used the NHL all-star game for my project. I watched the entire thing took notes, wrote a three page report and talked about in threw minutes or less highlighting Owen Nolan’s hat trick (I still don’t know how he didn’t win MVP that year, the game was in San Jose… He was a Shark… silly voters),

Needless to say I got an A and she, as well as my classmates were really impressed. She told me to stick with it and that I would be a really good writer one day.

Overrated.

I hope she’s right. Writing a blog hungover while spilling your sports guts isn’t fun. However it may be worth it in the end and I might have many more happy birthdays in my future.

Thanks for reading and supporting the blog so far and letting me spew my ridiculousness for all the world to see. Now if you’ll excuse me my hangover is gone and I’m going to try to get a new one.

I might need a few drinks once I hear it from Buckeye fans about what I said.

Sometimes confessions should stay secret.


Cano Takes Center Stage

Robinson Cano is the brightest star so far in Arizona.

When Tony Womack was lumbering through his first and only season as a New York Yankee in 2005, GM Brian Cashman decided it was time to call up a 22 year-old Dominican kid from Triple A ball named Robinson Cano.

The report on Cano was that he had moderate speed, not too much power and could hit ball well. In other words, he was called up to be trade bait if the Yankees wanted to go after someone like Brian Roberts who was the flavor of the month at that point as far as second basemen go.

6 years later Cano is at a critical point of his career that has turned out to be more than what many people thought it ever would have been.

Cano has gone from a guy that could win a batting title, to, as my friends in Baltimore said “lucky he plays for the Yankees because he wouldn’t be this good anywhere else,” to the best second baseman in baseball, to possibly the next face of the New York Yankees.

No Yankee farm system product had had as much of an impact on this team like Cano has had since the inception of the “Core 4” in the mid-90’s. Cano has been a team leader in terms of batting average and run production since joining the team in 2005. Cano is money down the stretch as he has led the team in most major statistical categories in August and September in the last 6 years.

The best part about Cano is that whatever the Yankees ask him to do he does it. He changes his number from 22 to 24, moves from 6th to 5th in the lineup, he even took Melky Cabrera under his wing during his time in New York to get him acclimated to life in the majors and made him fit in with the team easier. He is a team player with leadership qualities that most teams would die to have.

Cano has become one of the team’s most popular players with his cool demeanor and smooth style of play. The game at time looks so easy to him with every nonchalant turn of a double play, the way he ranges to his left and throws across his body with ease and a swing that is as smooth and sweet since Ken Griffey Jr. in his early days in Seattle.

Nobody turns a double play as cool as Robbie.

(Side note: I always bring up my hatred for everything related to the Baltimore Orioles because I lived in Maryland for so long that I’ve heard every ridiculous argument that has to do with the Yankees.

One night while watching the O’s-Yankees game Buck Martinez was crying a river about how Cano dropped a popup because he was so nonchalant about it. He called him lazy, aloof, and about every other adjective and his diatribe went on for about 6 minutes and he kept going back to the same drop.

Unfortunately he should’ve watched a little more of Robbie to understand that that’s how he is. He’s not lazy, not a sad sack, he’s just stoner calm.

Robbie doesn’t let anything get to him. He always seems in control of every situation that he’s involved in. He doesn’t panic under any type of pressure, he doesn’t hurry throws, he doesn’t chase bad pitches, he doesn’t whine to umps or slam his helmet down when he strikes out, he forever lets the game come to him.

So, I’m sorry that Buck Martinez didn’t get the memo or watch enough tape. Or that he was too busy slurping B-Rob who hasn’t been the same since his “B-12 injections.’)

Cano’s popularity reached another level last night after winning the home run derby in Arizona. Cano’s sweet swing, cool demeanor, and loveable character were all on display as he crushed baseballs all over Chase Field and captured all of America’s imagination.

It was a shock for me because Robbie’s not a homerun hitter. I thought Robbie wasn’t going to do well except for maybe 4 or 5 jacks. Then once balls started flying off Miller Lite bottle and second decks my thought process shifted.

All of America finally got to see Robbie in action when he’s not overshadowed by the mammoth figure of Derek Jeter, the ego of A-Rod, the girth of C.C. Sabathia and the headaches of A.J. Burnett. They saw a grown man with his own skill make his mark on baseball and put his name in the ring with his more well known mates.

Robbie's breakout night came with a big assist from his dad.

There were two even cooler moments; one, was Joe Torre handing him his award years after he compared Robbie to Rod Carew (which of course drew criticism because lord forbid a young Yankee should get some sort of praise), and two the fact that his dad was pitching to him.

His father Jose Cano played for a brief time in the majors in 1989 and was there again this time feeding his son low fastballs that Robbie sent soaring into a warm desert night. Watching their interactions and Robbie jumping into his arms after he won the Derby was as cool as cool gets. It was a late father’s day gift for a dad who is watching his son take off in the prime of his career that could be getting a lot brighter.

With Jeter’s career coming to an end and Cano’s star coming into the spotlight, maybe we saw the future face of the franchise on display last night.

Maybe Robinson Cano will be the guy that players, fans and baseball purists identify with over the next 7-10 seasons in New York with the Yankees.

Maybe last night was the coronation of a future king who was originally thought of as just a short-term solution at second base.

If it is, I’m glad I got my Cano jersey four years ago and jumped on him early. Like Joe Torre, I saw that this was bound to happen.


The Reason Why We Hate The Pittsburgh Steelers

Don't feel bad about hating the Pittsburgh Steelers. It happens when winning becomes a habit

Back in the 90’s when I was a San Francisco 49ers fan I remembered their rivalry with the Dallas Cowboys. It dated back to “The Catch” in 1981 (even though other than that game you couldn’t name me one big 49ers-Cowboys game from 81-92) and ran from their NFC title in 1992 until the end of the decade.

 

To be honest with you I couldn’t understand what the big deal was with the rivalry. I never really hated the Cowboys up until they beat the niners in 92 and then again in 93. Its not like they were in the same division like they are now with the Giants, they just beat my favorite team and then they continued winning.

 

That’s how most of these “most hated” teams in each sport become so hated, they win too much and we as fans become so sickened by them that we don’t care who beats them as long as they lose.

 

How do you think teams like the Yankees, Red Wings and Lakers became so hated? They always win.

 

I went to a Capitals game a while ago and I kept overhearing a bunch of fans screaming about how much they hated the Red Wings and I wondered why? The Caps and Wings have no history against each other (except that little sweep in the 98 Stanley Cup Final.). There are no classic games like there has been between the Caps and Pens. They just hate the Wings because the Wings always win.

 

I hate the Lakers. No reason in particular, I just do.

 

They’ve never killed the Knicks like Reggie Miller and the Pacers or Jordan and the Bulls, they just win a lot and I they always do it with ease.

This is why you hate the Red Wings... admit it.

When the Detroit Pistons played them in the NBA Finals in 2002 I remembered praying to God that the Pistons would kill the Lakers. Keep in mind, I’m also a Bulls fan… remember the Detroit Bad Boys of the 80’s and how they bullied Jordan and the Bulls? Yeah… I was hoping they beat the Lakers. I didn’t want the Lakers to win because they just won three straight titles. They didn’t need another ring. They cost Reggie Miller a title, and Jason Kidd and Allen Iverson, three of this generation’s best players. Winning another one would just be rubbing it in. its not fair I thought too myself, let someone else win who deserves it.

 

That’s why I kind of understand everyone’s hatred of the Yankees. The Yankees win and win a lot and they do it by spending lots of money (not that we should care because if you had 2 billion dollars wouldn’t you get the best players for your team?).

 

Every year we (the Yankees) shell out hundreds of millions to bring in Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia and others to put on the pinstripes and create a bigger gap between them and the competition. That’s why fans of the Royals, Rangers, Braves and Orioles hate us. There are no classic game seven’s like we had against the Pirates, or battles like we have with the Red Sox, it’s just you get tired of going to the ballpark and watching a team of triple A players and maybe one or two really good major leaguers to take on a bunch of guys who got paid a ton of money to wear the same jerseys as Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson.

 

The flip side of this is how people take their hatred of a team and somehow try to turn it into a rivalry. Living in Maryland I saw this with most of their fans mostly fans of the Orioles and the Terrapins.

 

People in Maryland hate New York for some odd reason that I’ll never understand. When the Ravens beat the Giants in Super Bowl 35 the entire city almost creamed on themselves they were so happy that they beat New York in something. It’s silly to hate an entire city because you can’t beat them and try to tell people that they are your most hated rival.

 

True hatred that isn’t intra-divisional occur when another team costs you a shot at a title or beats you too often you develop a clear hatred for them. Rivalries start when you actually beat the other team in a big time situation.

 

I have a reason to hate the Anaheim Angels. They beat the Yankees in the playoffs twice in the 2000’s and owned us in the regular season. However, it wasn’t a rivalry until two years ago when we finally beat them in the playoffs and went on to win the World Series. We beat our bully and got over the hump.

 

What makes the Orioles a rival? Nothing. Going to Orioles games is annoying because the fans chant Yankees suck, boo Derek Jeter and start fights in the crowd due to the fact that they feel we are their rivals. Um… it’s kind of hard to be rivals with a team who is terrible every year and allows Yankees fans to take over their stadium 9 times a year and turn it into Yankees Stadium South.

Orioles fans have one reason to hate the Yankees. Unfortunarly that doesn't make them the Yankees rival.

(What really annoys me is that the Red Sox do the exact same thing but the fans are ok with it. Boston owns Camden Yards 9 times a year and people in Baltimore walk around in Red Sox gear cheer for them and call themselves Orioles fans. They walk around the city and pledge allegiance to two teams, ONE IN THEIR OWN DIVISION! They say if they play each other I’m an O’s fan but other than that I cheer for the Red Sox. NO! YOU CAN’T DO THAT! WHO TEACHES YOU THIS ETTIQUETTE!!

 

You don’t cheer for a team with in your own division. Redskins fans don’t like the Giants, Braves fans don’t like the Mets, Twins and ChiSox fans don’t like each other because that’s just how it is. That’s why Baltimore is the most fair-weather town in America and only supports its teams when they’re good.

 

Sorry about that rant. Just annoys me that’s all. Ok back to the blog.)

 

Same thing for the Terps and their beef with Duke. I still don’t consider their battles rivalries because Maryland still hasn’t cost Duke anything yet.

The fighting Testudos have had better luck against the Devils in recent years but its not Duke-UNC nor is it even Duke-UCONN. Its just Maryland, who has no rival, starting a beef with a team that they hate just because of their name and pedigree.

 

Maryland can through insults, chant obscenities and wear F*** Duke tees all they want, but they still aren’t really a rival. They’re just a team trying to get under Duke’s skin and start a war that they really have no reason starting.

 

However, that’s how hate works.

 

That’s you and I take a disliking to certain teams. It’s a matter of the success of the team and the players on the team.

 

That’s why no one likes the Yankees, Lakers, Duke, the Red Wings and the Cowboys.

 

Funny thing is that I came up with this thought after looking at media day at the Super Bowl and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Actually it was a thought that lingered before the Super Bowl as far back as last season.

 

Like I said, I have no reason to hate Pittsburgh. They’ve done nothing to the Giants, they don’t play in the NFC, and they haven’t beaten un in the playoffs or in any big time situation. So why in God’s name do I hate the Pittsburgh Steelers?

 

In the beginning of the playoffs I remember looking at the AFC playoffs and saying how I hoped Baltimore, the Jets and the Steelers all lost.

 

I have reason to be mad at Baltimore (Super Bowl 35) and the Jets (intercity rival, plus the Jets act like they own the city when their only great player had more all-time interceptions than touchdowns.). Yet Pittsburgh I really have no reason to hate.

 

The Steelers just annoy me for some reason. Their fans travel in packs no matter where the Steelers are playing that week, the whole Steeler toughness thing gets overdone with their defense (I don’t think they know tough until Jack Ham, Jack Lambert and Joe Greene get a load of LT, Harry Carson and Leonard Marshall) and it doesn’t help that their QB is an accused rapist yet the town acts like nothing happens. Not to mention those stupid freaking “Terrible Towels.”

 

More than anything they just win. They have 6 Super Bowls, they do physically beat up teams, they have their own theme song (Wiz Khalifa’s “Black & Yellow”)… their more successful than the Giants or your team and it gets on your nerves and mine because we feel like we can beat them.

More than enough reason to hate the Steelers.

They’re actually more annoying than the Cowboys or Red Wings or any other successful, except the Sox of course, because it’s the whole package of annoyance; legacy, winning and loads of fans. You can’t dis the Steelers because you have know reason to. So instead you sit around and hope they fail in the comfort of your own home and amongst friends. Its jealousy, its envy, its natural.

 

I should hope the Steelers tar & feather the Packers after what they did to the Giants in week 16 at Lambeau Field. The Packers cost the Giants a playoff spot by beating us 45-17, and it wasn’t that close. I should want James Harrison and company to beat Aaron Rodgers to a bloody pulp, yet I don’t.

 

I want to see Aaron Rodgers fully exercise the Favre demon once and for all, I want Charles Woodson to add a Super Bowl ring to his hall of fame resume especially after “The Tuck Rule” game, above anything else I just don’t want the Steelers to win another Super Bowl.

 

I cant take “Six-burgh” becoming “Seven-burgh.” I don’t want Roethlisberger to get another ring. Even though I like Mike Tomlin and the way he runs the Steelers I don’t like him enough to see him leading Pittsburgh to another title. It’s not his fault; he’s just wearing the wrong colors.

 

Call me a hater, call me whatever, but you feel the same way too. You sit at home as fans of the Bengals, Dolphins, Eagles or Jets and you don’t want to see it either. They’re not your rivals, you shouldn’t even care but you do. That’s the way it is. They’re not your team and they keep on winning while you have to settle for second place. Sucks I know but that’s the way it works.

 

About 80% of America will be cheering for the Green Bay Packers this Sunday in Dallas. 75% of us aren’t from Wisconsin. We have nothing in common except the fact that we hate the Pittsburgh Steelers 100%. Why? Because they win a lot and our teams don’t. That’s just the way hate works in sports. It’s not their fault.

 


This Years Smart Baseball Picks

Aaahh, still a beautiful sight.

Hey did you know that the New York Yankees were world champions? Sorry I had to rub that in one more time. After a decade of dealing with annoyingly fair-weather Orioles fans in Baltimore and bitter fans in Cleveland I got to throw it back in the face of everyone within a 500 mile radius of my obnoxiousness.

After Mark Teixeira collected the final out of the World Series me and buddy Mark Damiano jumped around like kids that just found out that they were going to Disneyworld. It was as if we had never won a title even though the nineties were the greatest time of my sports life when the Yanks won 4 titles in 5 years. Truth is the last ten years of being a Yankee fan was hell (and here’s where the Cubs, Astros and about 20 other teams fans tune me out until I get to my picks). It wasn’t hell in the sense that we didn’t a title every year; it was hell due to the amount of pressure that was placed on the team every year to win a title.

When I was a kid I was happy to watch Don Mattingly roam first base freely even though the team was terrible. When we lost in 97 to Cleveland after winning the title in 96 I was upset but it wasn’t a monumental thing that made me want to jump off of a cliff. For a stretch of the 2000’s the Yankees front office made it impossible to watch the Yankees without being disappointed. We treated playoff appearances like wins over the Royals. If we didn’t win titles we spent millions on guys who we thought would make the team better (Jason Giambi, Randy Johnson, Kei Igawa, etc.) and when they failed we spent more. For a while I felt like- gulp- a Red Sox fan.

That’s why last year’s title was a relief for fans (again boo-hoo’s from the Mets, Pirates and Reds fans). This year we can go back to being normal fans. We didn’t spend a ton of money on free agents because we didn’t need to. For all of the flack that Brian Cashman receives, he is without question the best GM in baseball. After watching the rotation feast or famine with 3 pitchers, and somehow win, he traded for Javy Vazquez (moment of silence for my “Got Melky?’ t-shirt). He knew our outfield needed to get younger so he traded for the underachieving yet talented outfielder Curtis Granderson. He got guys that fit the attitude of these Yankees and didn’t break the bank to do it.

It sets up the Yankees for another title run with expectations to win, but not in a psychopathic “we have to match the Red Sox” kind of way that it has been. In all honesty if the Yankees don’t win it all this year it won’t be such a bad thing (and if you truly believe that last line I just typed, then you must not understand the Yankees or our fans. As long as someone named Steinbrenner owns the team it’s all about winning and winning now. In fact if we don’t win it all this year I wouldn’t be surprised if Joe Girardi got fired. Welcome to the Bronx Zoo. Come for the excitement, stay for the carnage).

If the Yankees do want to repeat they need to be the exact same team they were last year. This year so many teams and divisions are so tough to call that the six divisions could be won by either two or three teams. There are no gimmies this season; the Braves are the Rockies are the Mariners are the Rays are Cardinals. Every team in contention has a go to starter, big time hitter and consistency in most areas of their game. The Phillies for example picked up Roy Halladay to go with Cole Hamels (who will not have another 2009. EVER! Write that down. Last year was a fluke. I’m talking Kevin Stevens 50 goals in 1992 fluke.) , they have a ton of offensive fire power and you know once August rolls around that Ryan Howard should put up his usual .300/15/45 last two months to carry Philly to the postseason. Likewise in Boston who have a healthy Josh Beckett (don’t get it confused, he struggled last year because he was injured. He didn’t tell anyone but we knew) plus John Lackey, Jon Lester and the best bullpen in the game. However, the Sox struggled against the Rays all year last season, and with a sense of urgency on a team that has this season as its last for contention with this much talent, who’s to say Matt Garza and James Shields won’t dominate them again as they did last year or that a possible career year from free agents to be Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena wont overpower them? Likewise in the Central, couldn’t you imagine the Astros putting it all together and using Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez to lead a charge to the top of the division, or Ryan Braun and the Brewers overpowering the Cardinals?

As you can see, the Phillies didn't take losing the series lightly.

With all of these possibilities comes one thing that is for sure, that I will predict something completely and utterly stupid this season in my preview. Let’s not forget that two years ago I thought the Reds were good enough to win the NL Central (fail), or that the Mariners with Erik Bedard were the best team in the AL West (to my credit, so did everyone else for that matter). My favorite was predicting that Robinson Cano would have an MVP year in 2008; he ended up with his worst offensive season of his young career that year (triple fail). So for this year I have a full proof way of showing off my prowess for baseball knowledge, without looking like a jack-ass. Ladies and gentlemen I give you my picks, and the picks I would make if I had no sense whatsoever:

NL WEST: Old Kevin- San Francisco Giants. Smart Kevin- Colorado Rockies

I love the pitching by the bay. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain might be the best one-two punch in baseball (apologies to Carpenter and Wainwright). Plus they have a healthy Nate Lowry and Jonathan Sanchez looks like he has finally put it together. However, if you think they can get by with that offense of theirs you must be crazy. Pablo Sandoval is about as much of a clean-up hitter as Aaron Rowand is a lead-off guy.

In Colorado you have a team primed for another run at the playoffs. Troy Tulowitzky is an MVP caliber player and Ubaldo Jimenez and Jorge De La Rosa make a great tandem at the top of the rotation. The only question is what about the health of Huston Street? When healthy you can argue that Street is of the top 5 closers in the game. Once is arm is healthy look for the Rocks to outlast Los Angeles in the West.

Player to watch- Adrian Gonzalez.

The Red Sox wanted him, and failed in acquiring him. The Padres will finish last in the division, and will do so after jettisoning Gonzalez before the deadline.  Gonzalez is a 30 homerun 100 RBI guy on the most inept team in baseball. Imagine him in Atlanta or Chicago with the White Sox.

NL Central: Old Kevin- Milwaukee Brewers Smart Kevin- St. Louis Cardinals

Can the Brew Crew hit? Uh yeah. They didn’t ink Braun and Fielder for fun and games. The two of them are a yearly 80+ homeruns and 200-225 RBI. Yet the Rotation (as always) is a huge question. You don’t doubt Iovany Gallardo, but you question whether or not Randy Wolf and Doug Davis are 2 and 3 guys.

The Cardinals are more complete in all aspects. Pujols is in MVP until further notice mode while Matt Holiday should put up huge numbers in season number two in the Lou. Plus the aforementioned Carpenter and Wainwright are worth a guaranteed 42 wins this year. Only concern might be Ryan Franklin as closer. Some days he’s good, some days he’s not.

Wildcard team- Cincinnati Reds

I’m not picking them to win the division, but they are going to give teams fits, as well as themselves. Look at the rotation: Jonny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman and Homer Bailey are talent scouts wet dreams. Yet Bailey seems to be on his last chance and Cueto still has questionable maturity issues. Then there’s the much talked about Chapman with a cannon of a left arm and a mound of control problems. Add in Jay Bruce (he’ll bounce back after a poor 2009) and Joey Votto and this young team should be a problem. If they can get over struggles better than they have.

NL East: Old Kevin- Florida Marlins Smart Kevin- Philadelphia Phillies

I can’t pick a team with Dan Uggla as there Feature power hitter. I want to pick the Marlins I really do (sound familiar). I have a man crush on Josh Johnson and Hanley Ramirez. Yet once again I don’t trust Uggla, Leo Nunez and I don’t think Chris Caghlan will have another year like last year.

The Phillies aren’t exactly a smash either. Brad Lidge is injured, Cole Hamels is fragile as we learned last year and Jimmy Rollins might be a 7 hitter disguised as a lead-off man. Yet there’s still Ryan Howard (My pick for MVP), Chase Utley and the addition of Roy Halladay that makes every team fear for their lives against the Phillies. So it’s the Phillies to win 4 years and running.

The Team that reminds me of the Jersey Shore cast – New York Mets

Sucks to be you.

THEY ARE A TRAIN WRECK… yet I can’t stop watching. How can I not watch? Who’s going to back up Johan Santana in the rotation? Who’ll protect David Wright in the lineup? When will Jerry Manuel get fired? Will Omar Minaya punch Jose Reyes in the face? All they need is The Situation and J-Woww swinging at each other in between innings and they become the best side show in baseball.

AL West: Old Kevin-Texas Rangers Smart Kevin- Seattle Mariners

On paper the Rangers can compete. They’ll score 850 runs and Derek Holland and Neftali Perez look like future aces. In reality, Ron Washington’s a coke head. I’m sorry; I’m not picking a team managed by Tyrone Biggums.

Seattle was handed Cliff Lee for reason that still puzzle me. What did they give up again? A mid-rated minor leaguer? Anyway, he and Felix Hernandez get the honor of scaring every team on back –to-back days for at least a year and there’s Ichiro. In this division that’s all you really need. (How about Milton Bradley batting fourth for them. Did they not see him in Chicago last year? His one good year came in a hitters park in Texas. Clean-up? Clean-up in a pitchers park? Why am I picking Seattle again?)

Most fun guy to watch- Brett Anderson, A’s Pitcher

If you ever get to watch this spazz in between innings please do. Get a bucket of popcorn and watch him go OCD on a water bottle, and look like he has facial contusions. Comedy. (Also watch him on the mound. In his first season he finished 11-11 with a 4.50 ERA but he thrived in the second half of the season.)

AL Central: Old Kevin- Minnesota Twins. Smart Kevin- Detroit Tigers

I would’ve been been blinded by Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer. I would’ve said Nick Blackburn and Francisco Liriano were more than enough pitching with that offense. I would’ve ignored the fact that Joe Nathan’s career is possibly over following Tommy John surgery. Now I’ve come to my senses. It aint happening.

It’s not that I truly trust a team with a recovering Alcoholic, a mentally complacent right-fielder, a head-case of a starting pitcher or a bullpen with live arms and no health. I just know that Jim Leyland, who is one of the top 5 managers today, will put it together, and as long as Justin Verlander is going every 5 days that’s 20 wins in the bag. (But to reiterate I really don’t trust them.)

Team I really think can be better than both teams mentioned, but no one is noticing- Chicago White Sox

It’s a team with more questions than the GRE. Is Jake Peavy healthy? Will Alex Rios ever return to the form that made him tantalizing in Toronto? Will Alexei Ramirez, Carlos Quentin and Gordon Beckham put up the numbers that they should put up yearly? Can Ozzie Guillen keep his job? How can you not like the makeup of this team? They have a great rotation lead by Mark Buerhle, a steady bat in Jermaine Dye and of course the mad scientist Guillen who is heavily underrated as a Manager. The problem is you really don’t know what to expect from them on a game to game basis. They seem to have the tools to be great, but it may take time. Also you have to wonder if eventually this team will tune out Ozzie. His fiery style may finally be wearing thin, and unless he can deliver on the field he might be in a studio by October.

AL East: Old Kevin- New York Yankees. Smart Kevin-Tampa Bay Rays

Expect The Rays to win the east and this guy to win the MVP.

Ok I had to throw in one shocker. Why don’t I trust the defending champs? The best looking pitcher in spring training was A.J. Burnett for one (C.C. Sabathia looked miserably bad). Two, A-rod has been in the news for things other than baseball, again. Three,  Joba Chamberlain isn’t saying it, but he looks like a disgruntled reliever after losing a rotation spot to Phil Hughes. I think these Yankees also have to go through being the prey for the first time to get a good feel for them. This is a different Yankee team because these boys are more blue-collar than the teams of Yankees past. You have to wonder if that laid back style will falter when the pennant race heats up, and the pressure of repeating kicks in.

So why Tampa? Like I said, this is their last chance to win a title for another ten years. They won’t keep Crawford and Pena after this year. They may deal Matt Garza. This might be a different team next year. They will play like their lives depend on it. This team is so undisciplined at the plate (ahem, B.J. Upton), so streaky and so hit or miss that you love them one second, and pull your hair out the next. Yet Joe Madden had righted the ship for two straight years. He’s molded Matt Garza into an ace, Evan Longoria into a star (he’s my AL MVP) and a league laughingstock into a respectable contender. The urgency is there and I think Madden will mold it into another division title and possibly a World Series birth.

Team to fear in two years (once they get some pitching)- Baltimore Orioles

I hate admitting this, but Baltimore is almost back. If Peter Angelos can somehow spend a little money on a pitcher next year or down the line (how crazy would it sound to get Cliff Lee or Zach Greinke in Baltimore?) then this team could be better than Boston or New York. The outfield is set for years to come with Nolan Reimold, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, and Matt Wieters behind the plate will be a monster. Yet it’s that product on the mound that hurts them more than anything else. They thought Jeremy Guthrie was an ace, oops. They thought Erik Bedard was as well, oops number two. Instead of getting pitching one year they got Sammy Sosa. Angelos had been so bad in making this team competitive that it’s a wonder that all of this talent fell into their lap.

He has routinely made decisions that hurt the Orioles on and off of the field. Go to an O’s game when the Red Sox or Yankees are in town and you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s embarrassing that Camden Yards becomes Yankee Stadium and Fenway South. Angelos has ticked off his own fans and turned them into fans of the enemy. Yet here he is on the cusp of reviving baseball in Baltimore, one of the best baseball towns in America. Will he finally get it right? (Probably not. If you ever live in Maryland than you know that Peter Angelos is loved about as much as the Yankees. AND YOU KNOW HE WONT DO ANYTHING REMOTELY CLOSE TO MAKING THE ORIOLES LOOK GOOD!)

World Series: Old Kevin- Yankees vs. Phillies with the Phillies winning it all

Smart Kevin- Tigers vs. Cardinals with the Cardinals winning it all

I really like the Cardinals this year. I like the rotation with the addition of Brad Penny. I like the subtraction of Rick Ankiel and having Cody Rasmus in Centerfield. I like the lineup headed by Scott Schumaker with Pujols, Holliday and Ryan Ludwick in the middle. This team is capable of winning the title with what they have, save for possibly acquiring a middle reliever at the trade deadline. It is a good mix of youth and experience. Plus the best player in the game plays for them so why not take a flyer on them.

So there you have it. No crazy picks, no ridiculous obsession over the Yankees. A smart pick to win the title from a crazed baseball fan. However, you all know I think the Yankees will win it all. You’ll read my facebook statuses and watch me cry, whine and moan every time A-rod strikes out or Robby grounds into a double play. Just remember don’t blame me, blame Cashman and the powers that be. They made all Yankees fans like this. I just have to keep reminding myself that we’re World Champions. That does sound great doesn’t it?

AL EAST- RAYS                         NL EAST- PHILLIES

CENTRAL- TIGERS                   CENTRAL- CARDINALS

WEST-MARINERS                    WEST- ROCKIES

WILDCARD-YANKEES              WILDCARD- DIAMONDBACKS

NLCS- PHILLIES VS. CARDINALS          ALCS- YANKEES VS. TIGERS

WORLD SERIES- CARDINALS VS. TIGERS        CARDINALS-WORLD CHAMPS

AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR- DON WAKAMATSU NL- TONY LARUSSA

AL CY YOUNG- CLIFF LEE        NL- CHRIS CARPENTER

AL MVP- EVAN LONGORIA      NL- RYAN HOWARD