May 31, 2013
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like something crazy is happening on a daily basis in the sports world. Maybe it’s always been that way and it’s just that we now have the technology that allows us to see and hear everything. Either way, there is just too much crazy for one article at the end of the year to cover it all so let’s just take it a month at a time. Here are some of the wacky sports stories from this May.
Wichita State catcher Tyler Baker chased down and captured a squirrel with his batting helmet after the animal ended up in the infield when Baker was on second base.
Boston Red Sox pitcher Joel Hanrahan threw a wild pitch that actually went right through a sign on the wall behind home plate.
The Oakland A’s lost a game to the Cleveland Indians when a blown call cost them what would have been a game-tying home run in the top of the ninth. Not only did the umpires miss the call live, but then they went to the replay and still got it wrong.
A Jacksonville Jaguars fan sent President Obama a petition asking the President to force the Jaguars to sign unemployed quarterback Tim Tebow.
MLB umpires suffered another embarrassing incident when they allowed the Houston Astros to go to their bullpen twice before a pitch was thrown. The Angels argued the call and after three huddles and a phone call, the incorrect call was upheld.
An average citizen contacted the NBA to declare himself eligible for the draft. Surprisingly, he received a personal response from the NBA informing him that he is a free agent and can sign with any team.
A fan at a San Francisco Giants game fell onto the field while reaching for a ball, lost his pants and was then ejected from the game.
A fan at a Chicago Blackhawks playoff game went into labor in the stands. But she wasn’t about to leave during an elimination game and waited until after the game to go to the hospital.
A snow cone vender at a Houston Astros game was fired after bringing the snow cones into the bathroom and leaving them on the floor while he used the toilet.
More to come in June I’m sure.
May 22, 2013
Major League Baseball has a brilliant future. Fans everywhere should be ecstatic for the next decade. Scattered throughout the league, even teams currently below .500 have budding stars.
Sure, every generation of players has their own crop of cornerstones, but this is different. The league is stacked. The competition will be fierce. Playoff races will come down to Game 162. Interest throughout will reach a fever pitch.
We all know the likes of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout are the leaders of the pack when it comes to the “next-generation”, but they are not alone. They’re joined by a bushel of future heroes. Some of which are a touch older than the young 20-somethings, but a star is a star, no matter how long it takes to shine so bright.
Here’s a quick rundown of players to fall in love with:
Catcher: Wilin Rosario, Colorado Rockies
This kid has pop at the plate and in the thin air of Colorado he’ll find the cheap seats with ease. A catcher who can hit for average is always a plus and Rosario is holding his own this season. Even though his numbers have dipped in May, he’ll be just fine. The Rockies have smooth sailing ahead of them with Rosario in their lineup for years to come.
First Base: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
Fans may not have had a chance to catch Paul Goldschmidt much due to proximity, but he’s a stud. By season’s end he’ll be in the NL MVP conversation. Possessing power, average and enough speed to motor around the bases, he also helps his team with a stealthy glove at first base. The Diamondbacks are in good hands thanks to Goldschmidt. Yes, he’s currently 25 years old, but it’s never too late to be one of the best.
Second Base: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
The Houston Astros may own a dismal record, but with Jose Altuve on their side better days are in store. At 5’5” he may be undersized, but he shouldn’t be underestimated. The dude can do it all and is the key to the future in Houston. He’s more than fun to watch and should be respected and feared by all.
Shortstop: Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers
Whoa baby! Jean Segura of the Milwaukee Brewers puts up silly numbers in the box score. Blessed with plate presence and speed to burn, Segura is a nightmare for the opposition. Just checking his numbers makes one want to move to Milwaukee and watch this guy in person 81 times a year. With the skills he has, it’s almost not fair. Cheers to Segura. Expect him to be an All-Star this season.
Third Base: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
Talk about a cornerstone, Manny Machado is it in Baltimore. He’ll be manning the hot-corner for the next 15 years for the Orioles and has yet to scratch the surface of his true talent. He’s only 20 years old. Diehard O’s fans have to be drooling when thinking of the future. Dare I say he’ll be the most beloved in Baltimore since a guy named Cal Ripken, Jr. Machado is the man. Come September, expect heroics.
No Surprise Here, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout Made the list:
It’s safe to say that the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are set in terms of a superstar. Bryce Harper and Mike Trout will bring fans out in droves until they retire. Some may argue that they aren’t “emerging” stars, but let’s be real—they are so young it’s not fair to say we’ve seen or that we can comprehend their “ceiling.” They are the future. Embrace it.
Rounding out the Outfield, Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates:
The Pittsburgh Pirates have been begging for a winner since neon slap bracelets and Nickelodeon slime were in style. Now, with the emergence of Starling Marte to compliment star Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates are built to win.
Marte looks like he’s on skates in the outfield and handles himself well at the plate. He bolsters and gives the Bucs lineup much needed depth. There should be nothing but smiles from the Pirates faithful these days after decades of futility. Marte is the difference in Pittsburgh.
Pitcher: Matt Harvey, New York Mets
While it’s tough to pick just one pitcher, have you seen Matt Harvey on the mound? The 24-year-old is off to a ridiculous start to his career. He looks like Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers and future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux wrapped into one.
A fine blend of power and finesse, Harvey may be considered the best pitcher in baseball by the end of 2014. His fastball is tough enough to blow back hitters while his offspeed arsenal makes them weak in the knees.
After just 19 career starts, he’s being considered a legend. Watching him is a must.
April 3, 2013
Finally, spring has officially sprung as the 2013 MLB season is upon us. While there’s plenty to debate about in regards to the rest of the league, the main focus will be on Bryce Harper and Mike Trout.
The two sophomore sensations are nothing short of miraculous as they helped reshape baseball forever last season. Their ridiculous display of athleticism and flare for the dramatic are simply astounding. Teams have long groomed their prized prospects until they’re deemed fit by outdated unwritten rules.
Now, thanks to Harper and Trout, many prospects will be brought up as early as 19 years old. They’ve changed the way GMs think, how fans act and how fantasy diehards draft.
Baseball couldn’t ask for anything more from these young men in terms of proximity—what we have is a classic East vs. West battle, which ensures Major League Baseball that the entire country is engulfed in the debate.
So, who’s better?
Harper has been highly touted since he left high school early to play college ball. He was hitting homers out of major league ballparks before kids his age got their driver’s license. The buzz surrounding his arrival at “The Show” reached a fever pitch. The Nationals couldn’t hold him back any longer as they wanted to cash in and put their best possible team on the field.
Harper didn’t disappoint as a rookie, but there’s room for improvement. Relax; before you jump out of your seat screaming, I’ll say it for you—he was only 19 last season. He hit a modest .270 last season with 22 home runs, which is nothing to scoff at from a kid who’s seen minimal big league pitching.
Things can only go up from here. Soon he’ll become comfortable filling in his big league shoes, become patient at the plate and learn the ropes of the outfield.
He started 2013 off with a bang as he hit two homers en route to a 2-0 Nationals win on Opening Day. To put his growing legacy into perspective, he received a standing ovation, at 20 years old, in the fourth inning. Whoa!
Trout is a year older than Harper but is currently viewed as the more well-rounded talent. Trout’s 49 stolen bases in 139 games in 2012 have him going No. 1 in many fantasy drafts, even ahead of Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers. Oh, not to mention he hit .326 with 30 homers and 83 RBI.
For sake of this debate, Trout did get a cup of tea with the Angels toward the end of 2011. He hit .220 in 123 at-bats. On the other hand, Harper got 74 at-bats at AAA Syracuse before his call came last season.
Never mind his taste of the majors in 2011, Trout made the Angels immensely better and turned into an MVP candidate in 2012. He even has many thinking he’s the best player in baseball.
This is where Harper has the advantage this season—all the pressure is on Trout right now. It’s true that both players have big expectations to meet, but Trout has all eyes on him. With slightly less attention on him, Harper can easily slide safely back into the pole position amongst themselves.
So, who’s better? Who cares! They are both awesome. Watch them as much as you can. Appreciate them. They have revolutionized baseball and given us a new batch of stars to root for.
One last thing to ponder—the scary thought is that both of these boys have yet to fill out. We have to wait until they turn 25 years old before they’ll be “full grown.”
This is one debate fans will be having 50 years from now. And that is why we love this game.
May 14, 2012
Who doesn’t love a night at the ballpark? Even if baseball doesn’t happen to be your favorite sport, attending a live game is still a good time. So when Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals came to town to play the Pittsburgh Pirates, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the evening. And the fact that I found seats about ten rows off the field behind the visitors’ dugout for half-price through an online vendor made it even more of a slam dunk.
The on-field action, though, wasn’t the only part of the night. Here’s a brief recap of the evening:
6:40 – Arrive at PNC Park (seriously, if you’ve never been there, you’re missing out) and promptly head into souvenir shop with time to kill. After browsing the hat section, I find a minor league prospect paperback book that caught my attention … until I noticed the $24.00 price tag. Quickly head out, opting for the $7.00 yearbook instead.
7:05 – Settle into my seat just in time for the opening pitch. Seated next to me are a father and son, each with the largest bucket of wings available. My only thoughts are, ‘Good luck finishing those, guys.’
Bottom of 2nd Inning – Strasburg strikes out the side. Eh, not so impressive.
Top of the 3rd Inning – Strasburg gets hit by a pitch and is jeered relentlessly when he asks for a jacket at first base. A female Pirates fan in front of me asks her companion, “Who is this Strasburg guy,” pronouncing it “Strays-burg.” I can’t help but think this is going to be a long night.
Bottom of the 3rd inning – Strasburg strikes out the side. Again.
Top of the 4th Inning – When Ryan Zimmerman comes to the plate, a somewhat drunk fan behind me tells his friend how great he is, repeatedly calling him ‘Ray.’ This all happens despite the fact that we happen to be facing the scoreboard with his name on it in gigantic letters.
Middle of the 4th Inning – The Pirates host their own version of the Price is Right’s Hi Lo game. The team provides a statistic and a selected fan has to determine whether a certain Pirates player had a higher or lower amount of that statistic than the previous player shown. The category in question is the amount of career walks.
Honus Wagner comes up as one of the players and the previously-referenced fan is at it again saying, “Honus Wagner couldn’t have walked a lot since he swung at everything.” I’m not sure which was more amusing – the certainty with which he said it or the fact that he appears to have studied Wagner’s prowess in actual game footage from nearly 100 years ago. At any rate, a somewhat confused contestant reaches the final question and after giving what is clearly the wrong answer, an exasperated host asks her if she wants to reconsider her choice. After a brief pause, she says no and loses. Fun, fun, fun.
Top of the 5th Inning – Strasburg smashes a double at the plate. Is there anything this guy can’t do? By the end of the night, he’s hitting .308 on the season. Forget the pitching, I’m thinking he’d look pretty good in the middle of the Pirates’ anemic batting order.
Middle of the 5th Inning – The Pittsburgh Pierogi mascot race also features the Washington Nationals’ President mascots. The mascots run around the park, much to the fans’ delight. Well, at least the ones under the age of 12.
Top of the 6th Inning – Zimmerman again comes to bat and the now clearly drunk fan behind me calls him Ray yet again. After his friend politely corrects him by saying, “I think his name’s Ryan,” there’s an eerie silence followed by an “Oh.” Said fan then ceases to talk for the rest of the inning, which quickly becomes the highlight of the night.
Middle of the 6th Inning – Father and son duo next to me not only finish off both buckets of wings relatively easy, but leave and return with a jumbo-sized portion of nachos. Yeah, I got that one wrong.
Top of the 7th Inning – Steve Lombardozzi comes to bat as a pinch-hitter as Strasburg exits the game. Despite a close contest, many fans follow suit, heading for the turnstiles after watching him toss 13 strikeouts in only six innings.
Middle of the 7th Inning– Another fan loses an inning break game. This time, a guy misses out on a jacket and then a hat, selecting a mystery box, which included an assortment of beef jerky instead. The irony that the fans are losing seemingly as much as the Pirates do isn’t lost on me.
Top of the 8th Inning – Harper comes up for his final at bat. After striking out, more than half of the remaining crowd files out.
9:43 – Game ends as Pirates lose, 4-2. All in all, well worth the $21.00 ticket price. I’d traveled to Altoona to witness Strasburg’s debut in AA two years ago and though he’s lost some velocity either because of his surgery last year or through his own choice (he topped 100 miles per hour then and touched the upper 90s only a few times last week), he’s still one of the most dominant pitchers in all of baseball.
May 3, 2012
Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals was anointed MLB’s next phenom when he left high school to play college baseball at the age of 16. At 17, he proved that was a worthy decision when he batted .443 with 31 homers and 98 RBI as a freshman at the College of Southern Nevada. His numbers were so impressive that he won baseball’s most prestigious award for a college player, the Golden Spikes Award. Even better, a month before he won the award, he was selected No. 1 in the 2010 MLB draft.
Now just 19 years old, Harper is present in the Washington Nationals lineup and is here to stay. In his first game on April 28, Harper took Hollywood by storm as the Nationals took to the road to face the Los Angeles Dodgers. The game was special as it featured the games’ best player, Matt Kemp, and the games’ most talked about 19-year-old.
Harper looked his age early-on in that game as he took in the sights and sounds of the game with eyes as big as baseballs. He didn’t disappoint either, smacking a double off the center field wall and later brought home an RBI with a sacrifice fly. In the end it was Kemp who let Harper know who is top dog as he belted a walk-off homer in the tenth. Regardless, Harper had a most impressive MLB debut.
Considering the times, Harper has more hype surrounding him than any other player in history. This goes for all four major American sports. The MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL have never had a kid create this much buzz. To be under such an intense spotlight, Harper is handling himself quite well. After all, he’s only 19. While most 19 year olds are trying to discover themselves in their transition to adulthood, Harper is thriving in a dog-eat-dog world.
When the Nationals announced that Harper would be making his MLB debut, there were plenty of skeptics saying he’s not ready, only hitting .250 at International League’s Syracuse and too young. The organization didn’t care as they threw Harper in to see if he could swim. So far he looks like Michael Phelps on an MLB diamond.
In just four games Harper is hitting .385(5-for-13) with two runs scored and two RBI. The thing that stands out the most is not his bat, but his arm as Harper has made a couple of dazzling throws from the outfield. Fans should find a way to watch this budding Hall of Famer play ball. Yes, he’s only 19 and that’s a very bold statement considering he’s played four games in the big leagues, but this kid is downright spectacular. Just wait until the day when his body matures. Only then will we begin to see what Harper can truly accomplish.
So far, his life is reading like a story book as every diehard MLB fan is drooling at this kid’s raw talent. If he’s within a tank of gas from your town, take the time to be awestruck.