August 19, 2013
Charlie Manuel fired as Phillies manager – With players like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Cliff Lee, the Philadelphia Phillies were expected to contend for the World Series this year. But with the Phils more than 20 games behind the division-leading Atlanta Braves, that hasn’t happened. Because of that, the team figured that they’ve seen enough of manager Charlie Manuel and gave him the boot last week. Third base coach and Chicago Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg will take over in his place for now. Ironically, Sandberg had some prior history with the club as he was dealt from the Phillies to the Cubs before his historic career got off the ground.
Little League No-hitter – Grant Holman of California threw a no-hitter in a Little League World Series game against Michigan as the event kicked off in Williamsport, PA. A no-hitter is impressive no matter what, but making the feat even more difficult is that there is a strict 85-pitch count in the games. Holman’s no-hitter is the first in the event’s history since the pitch count rule was put into play. It’s easy to see why Holman might be a little intimidating to opposing batters. The 13-year old stands 6’4”.
Kobe says it’s Lakers or bust – Kobe Bryant announced in a conversation with Jimmy Kimmel that the Lakers would be the only NBA team he ever plays for. There’s been a lot of talk about Los Angeles possibly needing to dump their biggest star, but Kobe says he’s a Laker for life. The interview was part of a one-hour special that sold tickets to fans who could watch and proceeds benefited Bryant’s charity.
Mice on skateboards – Skateboarding is a sport, right?
MLB to expand instant replay – Major League Baseball opened a can of worms when it was announced that instant replay would be expanded to include managerial challenges. Lots has been made of baseball’s foray into the replay universe via the review of home run calls, but this is sure to anger even more fans. Personally, though, I’ve never understood the furor by those who are fine with instant replay in other sports but not baseball. Ultimately, any sacrifice in convenience by an interruption in play should be made for the sake of getting the call right. And when you think about it, baseball is actually the more relaxed game of any of the four major sports. If there’s a place where replay belongs, it’s baseball.
A-Rod group reportedly leaks names in Biogenesis scandal – The Biogenesis PED scandal just got a bit more interesting as a report broke last week that members of Alex Rodriguez’ ‘inner circle’ of friends leaked the names of Ryan Braun and teammate Francisco Cervelli after they were redacted from the original Miami New Times article. Leaking the names of anyone would be a low blow of sorts, but to do it to a teammate would trump just about all levels of scumbaggery. A-Rod, for his part, has denied the allegations.
Al Harrington signs with Wizards, almost 110% - Forward Al Harrington signed with the Washington Wizards last week after playing with the Orlando Magic. Harrington played in only a few games with the Magic last year before going down with a knee injury. He isn’t the same player he once was, but Harrington can still contribute to the frontcourt for a franchise that is on the rise with young stars John Wall, Bradley Beal, and 2013 Draft Pick, Otto Porter. And hey, if there were any doubts about Harrington’s lingering injury, the forward did his best to alleviate those fears by declaring he was ‘almost 110%’ on Twitter. Um, yeah.
Nashville Predators want to keep Blackhawks fans away – The NHL’s Nashville Predators implemented an interesting ticket policy recently as they tried to discourage fans of the Chicago Blackhawks from attending the game against the two teams in Nashville. Fed up with the large contingent of Blackhawks fans that have attended their team’s road games in Nashville, the Predators will now only sell tickets to that game with the purchase of another game. In addition, for the pre-sale, fans of certain zip codes (presumably in the Chicago area) will not be allowed to purchase the tickets at all. The tactic has been used before by other franchises but it’s hardly a guaranteed fix. In the digital age with ticket websites, message boards, and other forums to buy and sell tickets, if Blackhawks fans really want to get in, they’ll find a way.
Zach Hodskins receives college offer to play at Florida – News of a player heading off to college to play sports isn’t rare, but in the case of high schooler Zach Hodskins, it is. Hodskins was born without the lower part of his left arm because of a birth defect, but has excelled as a basketball player nonetheless. So much so that he received an offer as a preferred walk-on by the Florida Gators. Hodskins has been impressive in high school and in AAU games and watching him get his chance against the best college players in the nation will be fun to watch.
Arena Wars – No, it’s not Star Wars – it’s Arena Wars. Stick with me because this one’s a bit confusing. The Sacramento Kings’ proposed move to Seattle was blocked by the NBA and that meant the cancellation of a bid to buy the team by Seattle investor Chris Hansen who planned to relocate the franchise. The move was blocked because the city had a plan for a new arena in Sacramento but Hansen, however, was not amused. A grassroots campaign to derail the arena plan anchored by a widespread petition effort began with $80,000 in funding from a mystery donor. A political watch dog group sued the law firm that had funneled the money to the group on behalf of the donor and it was recently reported that Hansen was said donor. Oh, boy. Hansen, like the majority of Seattle residents, wasn’t happy when the Supersonics left town. Still, it’s got to be pretty embarrassing for the investor to be outed like this.
June 18, 2013
There is another month of baseball to play before the MLB All-Star break so we should know who is good and who isn’t at this point, but I’ll bet there isn’t anyone out there who would have guessed that the best teams during the month of June would be Kansas City, Toronto, San Diego and Oakland. Meanwhile, teams like the Yankees, Rangers and Dodgers are struggling. Where will that leave those teams in today’s power rankings?
1. St. Louis Cardinals (44-25): As a Cubs fan, you never want to see the Cardinals at the top of the list but there’s no denying they have the best record in baseball and are +102 in run differential.
3. Cincinnati Reds (42-28): If the Reds were in any other division, they’d be in first place.
4. Oakland A’s (42-29): The A’s have made a huge jump from the 15 spot a month ago. That’s what an 18-7 record will do for you.
5. Boston Red Sox (42-29): Boston leads the majors in runs scored with 363.
6. Texas Rangers (38-31): Just like the end of last season, the Rangers have been caught by Oakland.
8. Baltimore Orioles (40-30): Baltimore has quietly taken the lead in the wild card race and pulled within just 1.5 games of Boston.
9. Arizona Diamondbacks (37-32): I don’t think anyone expected the Diamondbacks to be leading the NL West at this point.
10. Pittsburgh Pirates (41-28): Forget about finishing over .500…the Pirates are on pace to finish close to .600.
11. New York Yankees (38-31): Could this be the beginning of the end for the Yankees. They’ve lost ground in the AL East and wild card races.
13. San Diego Padres (36-34): Seven straight wins will and the Padres are back in the hunt after a 2-10 to the season.
14. Tampa Bay Rays (36-33): Wil Myers has been called up. Now let’s see what he can do.
15. Kansas City Royals (34-34): The Royals have been the best team in baseball, going 12-4 in June.
16. Washington Nationals (34-35): It’s turning into a disappointing season in the capital. The Nats better get back on track soon or it will be too late.
17. Cleveland Indians (34-35): Here’s a team that has really cooled off and is just 5-10 in June.
18. San Francisco Giants (35-34): The Giants will have to do better than 14-22 on the road if they want to defend their title.
19. Toronto Blue Jays (33-36): The Jays have six wins in a row and are climbing out of a big hole.
20. Philadelphia Phillies (34-37): The Phillies are second in the majors in quality starts but don’t have much to show for it.
21. Minnesota Twins (30-36): The Twins are near the bottom in just about every pitching category. Not good.
22. LA Dodgers (29-39): Talk about a wasted season…nobody is farther away from next-to-last in their division than the Dodgers.
23. LA Angels (31-39): Here is another team that was supposed to contend and has let their fans down.
24. Milwaukee Brewers (28-40): It’s going to be a dead heat with the Cubs for last place in the NL Central.
25. Chicago Cubs (28-40): It’s going to be a dead heat with the Brewers for last place in the NL Central.
27. Chicago White Sox (29-38): It looks like it will be a tight race for worst team in Chicago.
28. New York Mets (25-40): The Mets are making a strong run towards the worst record in baseball with a 3-10 start in June.
29. Houston Astros (26-45): An 8-8 record so far this month is a big improvement for the AL West newcomers.
30. Miami Marlins (22-47): The Marlins are playing better, posting an 8-6 record so far this month.
May 21, 2013
Now that we’ve made it a quarter of the way through the MLB season we know a few things we thought at the start of the season are right (Texas is good, Houston is not) and a few are wrong (Boston is good, the Dodgers are not). So it’s time for the first power ranking post of the season.
1. Texas Rangers (29-16): It sure looks like they picked the right time to lets Josh Hamilton leave town.
3. Boston Red Sox (27-18): Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are a combined 12-1 so far.
4. St. Louis Cardinals (28-16): The Cards lead the majors in ERA.
5. Cincinnati Reds (27-18): The Reds are 16-6 at home, the best record in the majors.
6. Cleveland Indians (26-17): Five straight wins and 8-2 in the last 10 makes the Tribe the hottest team in baseball.
7. New York Yankees (28-16): Who would have thought they would be in first place without all of their injured stars?
8. Detroit Tigers (23-19): The Tigers have scored 20 more runs than their opponents this month but are just 8-9 to show for it.
9. Pittsburgh Pirates (26-18): Forget about finishing over .500…the Pirates are on pace to finish close to .600.
10. Arizona Diamondbacks (26-19): I don’t think anyone expected the Diamondbacks to be leading the NL West at this point.
11. Colorado Rockies (24-21): The Rockies are leading the majors in runs scored with 222.
13. San Francisco Giants (25-20): The defending champs are known for their pitching but their batting average ranks second in baseball.
15. Oakland A’s (24-22): The A’s are 24th in batting average, but 9th in getting on base. Why? They lead the majors in walks with 187.
17. Kansas City Royals (20-21): After a hot April (14-10) the Royals have cooled off.
18. San Diego Padres (21-23): San Diego has recovered from a 2-10 start. Can they keep it up?
21. Chicago Cubs (18-25): Matt Garza is finally back….and the Cubs need him to be great.
23. Minnesota Twins (18-23): After losing eight of the last ten, the Twins are in the AL Central cellar.
24. LA Angels (17-27): Here is the first of three teams battling it out for most disappointing team of the season.
25. New York Mets (17-25): Where would this team be without Matt Harvey?
26. Milwaukee Brewers (17-26): With the Astros moved to the American League, the Brewers are in danger of being the worst team in the NL Central.
27. Toronto Blue Jays (18-26): Toronto tried to fight fire with fire by signing big name free agents but so far they are getting burned.
28. LA Dodgers (18-25): The Dodgers by far the most disappointing team in the National League and maybe in all of baseball.
29. Miami Marlins (13-32): The Marlins have scored just 122 runs and are last in the majors. They are also last in batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage.
30. Houston Astros (13-32): The Astros have allowed a whopping 266 runs this season and are last in the majors. They are also last in ERA, quality starts and WHIP.
March 13, 2013
MLB’s Opening day is just a couple weeks away which means it’s time for my yearly ritual of predicting the six division winners and ensuring that those teams don’t have the season they are hoping for. What can I say? It’s a gift. So let’s get on with it.
It’s gotta be now or never for the Blue Jays right? The Red Sox aren’t going to make a 25-win improvement over last season and the Yankees have been ravaged with injuries. The division door is wide open and Toronto has added several star players. Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle, R.A. Dickey and Melky Cabrera should be able to help the Blue Jays to the top in the A.L. East.
It almost feels like cheating to pick the team that won it last year. Almost. The Tigers ought to be a hungry bunch after losing in the World Series last year. They may have the best hitter and pitcher in baseball in triple-crown winner Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander. And I don’t see anyone else in the Central making a run at 90 wins.
In 2012, the Oakland A’s surprised everyone and stole the title from the Rangers. Now it’s the Angels that everyone thinks will take the title after they recruited one of the biggest stars in Texas, Josh Hamilton. Adding Hamilton to a lineup with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols makes the Angels scary, but I’m going with another surprise in the West and taking the Rangers.
Everyone in Washington is left wondering “what if” after the Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg at the end of the season and then collapsed in the playoffs. They’ll have a chance to redeem themselves this October after taking the N.L. East crown. Atlanta will fight them to the end and the Phillies won’t go quietly, but the Nats are the best overall team right now.
With all the injuries in St. Louis, this looks like the Reds’ division to lose. They won 97 games in 2012 and added a dynamic player in Shin-Soo Choo. Plus…The Astros are gone. The Cubs are the Cubs. The Pirates are still trying to find a way to finish above. 500. So I guess that leaves Milwaukee. Can the Brewers make a run at Cincinnati? It will depend on what they can get from the starting rotation.
This will be the most interesting race I believe. There is a young up-and-coming team in Arizona; the defending world champs in San Francisco and the new Yankees in Los Angeles. The Diamondbacks are probably another year away and the Giants appear to be out-manned by the All-Stars the Dodgers brought in to win last year. A full season with guys like Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez and the addition of Zack Greinke make L.A. the pick.
February 20, 2013
Baseball fans, it may seem like we’re in the doldrums of winter, but the 2013 MLB season is now just a few short weeks away.
With pitchers and catchers reporting across the league recently, general excitement is beginning to brew within diehard fans yearning for the boys of summer. Spring training is set to get into full swing later this week and don’t be fooled, Opening Day is April 1.
While there is a laundry list of topics to talk about regarding the upcoming season, this article is dedicated to the teams who made a big splash this offseason. With key additions to their rosters, these teams have created positive momentum, reinvigorated their fan base and have a bright future ahead of them.
Each of these teams now expect to make the playoffs, don’t be surprised when they shake up the standings and reach their goal.
The Cleveland Indians Saved Themselves from Further Disappointment
The Cleveland Indians have finished no better than an even .500 every year since 2007. Just when fans thought they were in for another decade of futility, the front office did everything right this offseason.
First, they completed a three-team trade with the Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondacks. What the Indians got in the deal was outfielder Drew Stubbs, who needed a change of scenery and a young pitcher named Trevor Bauer, who will someday be their No. 1. Bauer was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 MLB draft and has all the attributes a franchise could want in an ace.
The front office also made some noise via free agency when the inked prized outfield Michael Bourn just a few weeks ago. Bourn was highly coveted heading into the offseason but was lost in the shuffle. What he brings to the Indians is an Opening Day leadoff man, superior defense and ridiculous speed on the base paths.
The organization did themselves a world of good with the moves they made this offseason. The Indians could be real spoilers come late season.
The Atlanta Braves Have a Pair of New Faces Fans Will Love
The Atlanta Braves made a plethora of moves in the offseason, highlighted with the acquisition of both B.J. and Justin Upton.
Sure, the likes of pitcher Tommy Hanson and super-utility sensation Martin Prado may be out, but the Upton brothers are two of the best in the league.
It can easily be argued that younger brother Justin is better than B.J., but Justin’s presence will push B.J. to reach his full potential. It was the acquisition of B.J. that led the Braves to not chase after free agent Michael Bourn. Now, the sky is the limit for the insanely talented pair of brothers.
The Braves have one of the best bullpens in all of baseball and with all the offensive weapons they now have, anything short of a deep playoff run will be considered a failure.
Don’t Forget About the Philadelphia Phillies
Ask any Phillies fan and they’ll tell you that a .500 finish to the 2012 season was a major disappointment.
Not wanting to repeat, the Phillies front office went on the offensive this offseason and once again made the Phillies feared.
A trio of new Phillies has made them a contender in 2013. Although Delmon Young is a liability in the outfield and will start the season on the DL, he’s pure gold in the playoffs. Another outfield addition that will pay dividends is Ben Revere, who was brought over via trade. He’s young, can hit for average and is an automatic threat on the bases. Phillies fans will fall in love with him quickly.
The biggest move they made was for infielder Michael Young, who may be 36 years old, but is a .301 career hitter and brings that veteran presence to a team that needs some added focus.
A bonus, reliever Mike Adams is dominant and will bolster the back end.
Although it may seem that they are an afterthought, the Phillies will be primetime contenders for the World Series this season.
The Toronto Blue Jays Simply Dominated this Offseason
There’s no doubt that the AL East has been the toughest division in baseball. The Toronto Blue Jays felt the pressure to compete and made a splash so big they emptied the pool this winter.
Where to begin?
Well, 2012 NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey is now a Blue Jay.
Also, former Miami Marlins players Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and John Buck are now all Blue Jays. This was a blockbuster trade that MLB fans live for. Yes, the Blue Jays took on a ridiculous amount of money, but they instantly made themselves favorites.
They also added Melky Cabrera, who may be guilty of using banned substances, but is still an above-average baseball player.
If this roster doesn’t bring fans flocking to their games, then I don’t know what will. They have an All-Star team all by themselves. If Toronto comes to town, do yourself the pleasure and buy a ticket.
On paper, they’re World Series favorites.