April 24, 2014
The Miami Marlins are the most underrated team in Major League Baseball. It’s hard to find a more entertaining team. On the surface they’re the punch-line of many jokes. Their orange uniforms only rival the sun. Their stadium is a certain shade of green that can certainly be seen from space. It contains a neon spectacle nicknamed the “Tremenda Mierda Fountain.” Needless to say, it’s an eye sore—a monstrosity. It looks like it belongs in a circus and for a long time fans and pundits alike agreed that the team did, too.
That notion of thought needs to cease. The Marlins are an abundance of wondrous adventure these days.
While their roster may look like a rag-tag bunch of has-beens it’s anything but these days. Yes, it appears that they are experimenting with their own version of “Moneyball” but they are on the brink of real success. They have a shopping cart full of discounted veterans. What they also have, which separates them from others in the league, is a bevy of premier young talent that gives the club a certain panache that only Miami has to offer. Combined, the Marlins have a chemistry that makes it easy for fans to jump on their bandwagon.
Take your pick—Giancarlo Stanton or Jose Fernandez? It all comes down to a matter of taste. Do you prefer big time offense or shutdown defense from the pitching mound? Both of these young players are the future face of baseball.
Stanton has the body stature of a Greek God and Fernandez has a repertoire that puts him in the debate for best in the game. He’s only 21 years old and makes fooling MLB batters look like a cake walk. Given, it’s still April but if the season ended today Stanton and Fernandez would be named NL MVP and Cy Young, respectively.
Fernandez’s 14 strike outs on April 22 against the Atlanta Braves is just one example of his dominance. Another, he did not allow a base-on-balls in that outing. He is a phenom and makes the game fun—he even kisses his grandmother after games. What’s not to love? He’s 3-1 on the young season with a 47/6 K/BB ratio. His ERA is 1.99 and he’s dynamite on the mound. He’s worth the price of admission alone. “Fans” unwilling to watch him when he pitches because of perception surrounding his team should be imprisoned—it’s a crime.
Stanton is another Marlin who is worth his weight in gold. The 24-year-old behemoth is quickly becoming the games top slugger. He may never hit .300 in a season but his towering home runs are something to tell your grandchildren about. He’s hit six home runs thus far in the season and leads the league with 27 RBI. He may strike out nearly 33 percent of the time but when he connects a shockwave occurs. He’s committed to maximizing his abilities and the sky is the limit.
We can gush over the hype surrounding both Fernandez and Stanton for another 2,000 words but don’t believe for one second that the Marlins are a two-man band. The have a core of young talent to complement their two stars. Outfielder Christian Yelich is currently in the middle of a 17-game hitting streak. Fellow outfielder Marcell Ozuna makes great contact and young starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi can touch 96-mph with regularity, striking out a handful of batters per appearance. The fountain of youth doesn’t end there as top prospect Andrew Heaney, a lefty with a three-pitch variety of nastiness, will make a splash by the end of 2014.
Face it–everybody wants to see David defeat Goliath. The Marlins are the underdog. They are exuberant by nature and will be a factor this season.
The Marlins will be a force now and for years to come. These guys have something special going on in South Beach. Their record may not reflect winning quite yet, but everybody wins when they watch the Marlins.
June 24, 2013
Miami Heat repeat as NBA Champs: The Miami Heat won Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs and, in the process, brought home their second consecutive title. The Heat didn’t always play well this postseason, but when all the chips were down, they stepped up and denied the Spurs a fifth championship. LeBron James won the MVP Award of the Finals and rightfully so. He started the series slowly, scoring less than 20 points in each of the first three games. But he saved his best performance for the end, averaging 34.5 points, 11 rebounds, and 7.5 assists over the last two games. Winning three titles in a row won’t be easy but if there’s one player that can do it, it’s James – the best player in the league.
Carlos Lee retires: Carlos Lee quietly retired from Major League Baseball after sitting out since the end of last year. Seeking a multi-year contract when his current deal expired last season, Lee didn’t get one and has officially left the game last week. Lee never quite reached superstardom as other players in his era, but he was a legitimate power threat for more than a decade. From 2000 – 2010, Lee had at least 24 home runs every season and was one of the game’s feared power hitters. He finished his career with 358 bombs and unlike other home run hitters, never struck out 100 times in a season. While he won’t make the Hall of Fame, the three-time All-Star was a very good player for a long time.
Introduction of Deacon Jones Award: The NFL reached into its past to honor the deceased defensive end, Deacon Jones. The NFL’s league leaders in sacks will be given the new award. Jones, long regarded as one of the league’s best in that category despite it not becoming an official statistic until after he retired, passed away earlier this month.
Francisco Rodriguez picks up 300th career save: Milwaukee Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez earned his 300th career save over the weekend. He nearly didn’t get the chance, though. After a 2-7 record and an ERA well over 4.00, K-Rod was released by the Brewers after last season and was out of baseball for a little while. But Milwaukee gave him another chance and Rodriguez has been perfect in save opportunities this season. And at only 31 with an ERA under 1.00, he could still have plenty left in the tank.
Johnny Manziel ‘can’t wait to leave’ Texas A&M: Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel tweeted last week that he couldn’t wait to leave Texas A&M after an apparent incident. The reason for his displeasure wasn’t known, but Manziel quickly deleted the tweet, later saying he loved the school. Far too much was made of the initial tweet by fans criticizing him. Manziel is a college sophomore with a much higher profile than he had before. There are going to be times when he’s frustrated by … whatever. Almost all college kids think they could be in a better situation at some point in their time in school and that applies to athletes, too.
Colin Kaepernick ready for majors?: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has a bright future in the NFL. After taking over as the team’s starting quarterback, he led the team to their first Super Bowl in nearly 20 years this past season. But on Friday night, the young player showed off his skills. On a baseball field. Kaepernick, a late-round draft pick of the Chicago Cubs a few years ago, hit 87 miles per hour throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the San Francisco Giants’ game against the Miami Marlins. That’s pretty impressive and to say he’s got a cannon for an arm would be an understatement. But (and yeah, I’m playing the heel role here) man, was that pitch wild. Kaepernick’s fortunate the catcher snared that ball since it wasn’t all that far from a completely relaxed cameraman. My guess is that he shouldn’t quit his day job.
Doc Rivers to Clippers: After an on-again/off-again status, the Los Angeles Clippers’ attempts to hire coach Doc Rivers away from the Celtics appear to have finally been successful. Rivers is under contract with the Celtics, but will reportedly leave the franchise for a first-round draft pick. Boston didn’t want to just give away their head coach, but in the end, the Celtics were better served by letting Doc walk and taking any compensation they can get for him. Even if they don’t think they’re getting enough in return, few things could be worse than having a coach around that doesn’t want to be there. Rivers could have decided not to return and opted for retirement, but then Boston wouldn’t get anything in exchange. A ‘trade’ was the Celtics’ best option for the franchise.
June 6, 2013
It is hard to believe, but the MLB season is already one-third of the way over. Obviously, nobody has locked up a playoff spot yet, but several teams have dug themselves into such a big hole that they won’t be able to climb out of it. Therefore, it’s time to eliminate a third of the teams. Who are the 10 teams that aren’t going anywhere in 2013?
We knew the Marlins would be bad after another fire sale sent their top talent elsewhere, but did we know they would be this bad? They are on pace to lose 120 games and are starting to make the Astros look pretty good.
Speaking of the Astros…switching leagues hasn’t seemed to help their winning percentage and they are again headed for a 100-loss campaign. On the bright side, the worst they can finish in the AL West is fifth, instead of sixth like they were in the NL Central last year.
The Brewers went 6-22 in May and were outscored by 50 runs. They weren’t just losing games. They were getting crushed. And now things could be getting worse with the news of a possible suspension coming for Ryan Braun.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are currently in last in the A.L. East. They are under .500 at home. Their pitching staff is near the bottom of the league. All the big-name acquisitions have been disappointing and the division is too tough.
San Diego Padres
They have not been the same since the 2010 season when they blew the lead in the N.L. West and missed the playoffs by a game. The Padres aren’t the worst team in California, but they aren’t going to the playoffs.
The “honor” of worst team in California is a tie between the Angels and Dodgers . Both teams entered the season with world championship aspirations and are playing .440 ball and well back in the playoff chase. The superstar signings haven’t paid off and it’s going to be a long summer in a city that is used to seeing meaningful games in October.
Speaking of big cities with disappointing teams…why can’t the Cubs or White Sox get anything going? Neither team has been to the playoffs since 2008 and it’s not happening in 2013 either. But it does look like they’ll battle for best team in Chicago all season long.
I might as well go all-in on the big market clubs being left home this October. I’m not going out on a limb to say that the Mets won’t be playing past game 162, but I’ll throw the Yankees in that boat too and make it 11 teams that aren’t going to be in the playoffs this year. Sure they’ve had guys stepping up for their injured stars all year and have guys coming back, but I’ll take the younger and fresher teams like Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Cleveland to hold off the Yankees in the AL East and Wild Card races.
April 17, 2013
We may only be a few weeks into the 2013 MLB season, but there’s plenty to talk about. With every team playing around 12 games, enough action has played out to begin to speculate on just how the season may go.
If your favorite team has stumbled out of the gates, don’t be discouraged, there are still 150 games to go.
The players and teams mentioned in this article have not struggled from the get-go. In fact, it’s just the opposite as they are red hot.
The Atlanta Braves are the Hottest Team Right Now
Baseball experts were perplexed in the preseason in regards to just which team would win the National League East. The only team not considered to contend for the divisional crown is the rebuilding Miami Marlins. At this moment, the 12-1 Atlanta Braves are the early favorites. The Washington Nationals won it last season, the Philadelphia Phillies are never to be taken lightly and the New York Mets are considered a Wild Card, but the Braves are the best. This is a playoff race that won’t end until game 162.
The Braves gave their franchise a facelift in the offseason and the gamble is paying off. Among other acquisitions, both B.J. and Justin Upton now roam their outfield. Justin, the younger of the two brothers looks like an early NL MVP candidate. His eight homers currently lead the league.
The Braves look like a team in midseason form and even with injuries to the likes of Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann. A pleasant surprise has been the addition of 26-year-old Evan Gattis to the lineup. His journey to the majors is one for the ages. He only made the club out of spring training due to injuries, but he’s not going anywhere and is in Atlanta to stay.
Gattis is hitting .289 in the early going with four home runs and 10 RBI. The Braves will have a good problem on their hands when Freeman and McCann return to the lineup. Gattis is their X-factor. Every winning team has one. He’s a player to root for all season no matter who your favorite team is.
Now a Member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Carl Crawford Looks Like His Old Self Again
Crawford now looks like his former self when he played outfield for the Tampa Bay Rays. Right now he’s hitting .392 as the Dodgers lead-off hitter. He looks happy and his team is looking wise to trade for him even when injured.
Most importantly, the Dodgers have positive momentum thanks to new ownership. The club may only be .500 at the moment but its only mid-April. They have an All-Star lineup from top to bottom and Crawford will be the piece that puts them over the top in 2013. When he’s on, he’s electric. He can win a game all by himself with his speed.
Don’t sleep on Crawford, he’s back to being the real deal.
New York Mets Pitcher Matt Harvey is the Early NL Cy Young Favorite
Some New York Mets fans may have cringed when the team traded away R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays this offseason. All Dickey did last season is win the NL Cy Young.
Well, the Mets front office looks brilliant right now because young pitcher Matt Harvey looks like he could win the coveted award this season.
The 24-year-old pitcher has won his first three starts and is making history. He became the first pitcher since 1947 to go at least seven innings with three hits or less allowed in his first three starts. The last man to do that was Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame hurler Bob Feller. That’s good company to be in.
Harvey tasted the majors late last season, throwing 59 innings and striking out 70 batters. He hasn’t disappointed thus far in 2013 and Mets fans have to be looking forward to the future with Harvey as their ace.
It won’t be too long before he’ll an undisputed star.
Prince Fielder Looks like he’s having an MVP season in Detroit
Many can argue that boost in average is because he had Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera batting in front of him, but Fielder also had former NL MVP winner Ryan Braun hitting ahead of him as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Tigers came up empty in the World Series last season and Fielder is making it clear that the team has unfinished business this season. He’s hitting .383 this season with four homers and 19 RBI so far and the Tigers offense is clicking on all cylinders.
Fielder almost looks angry at the plate. Like the baseball is his despised nemesis. Truth be told, anything short of a ring this season in Detroit and 2013 will be considered a failure.
Fielder is out to make that dream come true—he’s on a mission. Albeit early, the AL MVP is his to lose. In doing so, he’ll be the Tigers third consecutive MVP.
March 29, 2013
Opening Day is only a few days away and Major League Baseball will have a slightly new look this year for the first time since 1998, when the Milwaukee Brewers switched from the American League to the National league because of expansion teams Tampa Bay and Arizona.
Now, for the first time in league history, each league will have 15 teams. Also, each division will have five teams. The Astros are set to join the AL West amongst the likes of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners and their in-state and now divisional rival Texas Rangers.
Baseball is so excited for the move that the MLB decided that the very first game of 2013 will be the Astros hosting the Rangers. Houston righty Bud Norris gets the Opening Day nod against Texas lefty Matt Harrison.
One man to keep your eye on during the broadcast is Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan, who spent some of his best days of his Hall of Fame career in an Astros uniform, which will look strikingly familiar.
The Astros needed a new look, so they turned back the clock and mimicked their jerseys first introduced in 1975. Sure, they’re not quite as vibrant as the multiple shades of orange, but they definitely have that vibe. Don’t be surprised when the team goes full throwback a few times this season.
After all, the Astros have a new lease on their baseball life in the AL West. Yes, they lost 107 games last season, but a new chapter in their history is about to commence. Thanks to swapping leagues and the new look, Astros fans should have a new outlook.
The organization may have a ways to go before they reach glory, but they are beginning to put the right pieces in place. New manager Bo Porter is a great start. In his recent past, Porter was the third base coach for the Washington Nationals, who made the playoffs last year with an NL-best 98 wins last season. Knowing how to win is invaluable in sports and Porter has tasted victory. Now, his No. 1 job is to change the mindset in Houston. Porter is doing just that as he’s prepping his men to be champions. Fans can’t argue with Porter’s passion.
Another thing to look forward to as an Astros fan is young players Jose Altuve and Matt Dominguez. Altuve hit .290 in 2012 with 33 stolen bases as a second baseman. He may be small in size (5’5”), but he has a big game. Last year was his first full season in the majors and he may have run out of gas down the stretch. Expect him to be ready to go for 162 games this season.
Dominguez is a 23-year-old prospect that’s been champing at the bit to make an impact at the major league level. After being dealt to the Astros last season from the Miami Marlins, he hit five homers in just 109 at-bats and hit .284. He’ll be a welcomed star for the Astros by season’s end.
Just like the team’s motto on their webpage this season, “It’s a whole new ballgame” in Houston.