Archive for category MLB

Farewell Captain

derek-jeter-new-york-yankees

I knew this day was coming, but I still wasn’t prepared.

On Wednesday, the captain of the New York Yankees Derek Jeter announced that the 2014 season would be his final, ending one of the greatest careers in MLB history. The face of the Yankees for almost two decades will walk away from the game he loves and will be the final player from the World Series dynasty still playing, cutting all ties from the Yankees golden years. For me its the final connection to the Yankees I grew up with.

Growing up in the 90’s, Derek Jeter was the Yankees for me. Watching him along with Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte, creating what would come to be known as the “Core Four”, they became synonymous with championships for me. Winning 4 championships out of 5 years and making it back to the fall classic in 2001 and 2003 set a early example in all of their young careers making them young leaders on the Yankees. But even with older players and conflicting egos over the years, everyone knew that Jeter was their leader. He just had that aurora around him from day one. The type of player everyone he competed with and against had to respect and work towards becoming like. A constant professional. And he had the toughest market to play in wrapped around his finger.

Looking on my Facebook timeline and my Twitter feed on Wednesday, all I could see was my friends and family paying tribute to Jeter by bringing up old stories and moments of his that they hold dear to there hearts. Most of them are around the ages of 20-30 so we don’t know the Yankees without Derek Jeter. We all grew up idolizing Derek, wanting to wear the number 2 in little league and play shortstop just like him. He taught us to play the game he loved the right way when others cheated and lied their way to the top.

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One of the most impressive things about Derek Jeter to me is how he never let his ego get too out of control and never got into any controversy or trouble. Especially when some of his teammates are Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, and Jason Giambi. He has always been viewed as the face of baseball the way it should be played. Every game, every at bat he would give 100%, always hustling to first base whether it is into the gap in left center or a short dribbler to third.

Derek will go into the hall with one of the more impressive resumes in MLB history. He’s a five time World Series champion, winning the World Series MVP in 2000, a 13 time All-Star. He’s also won the Silver Slugger Award five times, the Gold Glove Award five times, and the Hank Aaron Award twice. He won the AL Rookie of the Year in 1996 and the Roberto Clemente Award in 2009. He is the all time leader for hits at the shortstop position in MLB history, he is the Yankees’ all-time career leader in hits (3,316), games played (2,602), stolen bases (348), and at bats (10,614). He also is the only Yankee to reach the 3,000 hit club and was the Yankees 14th captain in their storied history. Quite the career indeed.

As productive as he was on the field, he was just as an impact off the field serving as one of the best ambassadors for the game during the Steroid era, arguably one of the darkest periods in any professional sport in some time. Serving as the face of baseball for years and one of the few consistently great players who remained clean during the games ramped drug abuse among players. Jeter created the Turn 2 Foundation, a charitable organization, in 1996, to help children and teenagers avoid drug and alcohol addiction.

Derek Jeter has been my favorite player for as long as I’ve watched baseball. Watching him and the Yankees play in the playoffs year after year, racking up championships and making mesmerizing plays seemingly every game has been a privilege for me. For not just Yankee fans but for all baseball fans, make sure you really watch every at bat, every across the body jump throw, every moment Derek gives us this year and fully enjoy it because we only have a small number of them left.

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Moments like his walk off home run in game 4 of the 2001 World Series against Arizona crowning him “Mr. November”, or like the flip play against Oakland in the 2001 ALDS, or Derek diving into the crowd to catch a foul ball against Boston. Derek has given millions of baseball fans countless memories they can take with them the rest of their lives and showed us how the game of baseball was suppose to be played.

Simply put, Derek Jeter is everything a Yankee and a ball player should be.

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Andrew’s 2013 MLB Predictions

MLB_Opening_Day_2013-300x237

Standings

AL

East

Toronto Blue Jays

New York Yankees*

Baltimore Orioles*

Tampa Bay Rays

Boston Red Sox

Central

Detroit Tigers

Cleveland Indians

Chicago White Sox

Kansas City Royals

Minnesota Twins

West

Los Angeles Angels

Oakland Athletics

Texas Rangers

Seattle Mariners

Houston Astros

NL

East

Washington Nationals

Atlanta Braves*

Philadelphia Phillies

New York Mets

Miami Marlins

Central

St. Louis Cardinals

Pittsburgh Pirates

Cincinnati Reds

Milwaukee Brewers

Chicago Cubs

West

San Francisco Giants

Los Angeles Dodgers*

Arizona Diamondbacks

Colorado Rockies

San Diego Padres

Playoffs

American League

Wild Card
Yankees over Orioles

AL Divisional
Angels over Yankees
Tigers over Blue Jays

AL Championship
Angels over Tigers

National League

Wild Card
Dodgers over Braves

NL Divisional
Nationals over Dodgers
Giants over Cardinals

NL Championship
Nationals over Giants

World Series
Angels over Nationals

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Life Without Mo

In one instant in Kansas City while taking batting practice, one of the Yankees biggest fears came true. A future without Mariano Rivera.

As Rivera always does every game, he went out to shag fly balls hit in batting practice to get in a workout. Unfortunately approaching the warning track going for a ball his right leg gave out and falling awkwardly to the dirt the collective hearts of all of the Yankee faithful skipped a beat. As Mo rolled around on the ground in the out field everyone watching could tell it wasn’t good. Alex Rodriguez watching from home plate said what every Yankees fan was, oh my god, oh my god.

All Yankees fans have realized that Rivera’s time on the mound was ticking. The all time saves leader and living legend would eventually hang up his cleats and the Yankees would not have the automatic save machine that would make games 8 innings for the opposition. We will get a taste of that this year.

The Yankees have been prepared for this day for a while now. Their first option that they were looking ahead past Mariano’s eventual departure was signing Reliever Rafael Soriano from Tampa Bay. The closer for the Rays in 2010, Soriano racked up 45 saves and finished 8th in the AL Cy Young Award voting all while catching the eye of the Yankees. That offseason the Yankees signed Soriano to a 3 year $35 million deal to be the Yankees 8th inning man and possibly become the eventual replacement to Rivera. However things have not gone according to plan for Soriano. Struggling in his first year and winding up on the DL for a good part of the year, Soriano was demoted from his 8th inning job and replaced with David Robertson who took advantage of the opportunity making the all-star team for the first time and posting a 1.13 ERA with 100 strikeouts. Now it appears that Robertson is in line to become the new Yankees closer while Soriano may take over the 8th inning role.

Despite how horrible the situation seems for the Yankees right now it could be a whole lot worse. They could not have reliable options to fill his place for the time being like Robertson and Soriano and have a offense as potent as the Yankees can be when they are firing on all cylinders as they should. This may not take they Yankees completely out of the conversation for the World Series, but it sure doesn’t help their chances of returning this year.

Mariano has said that he completely intends on pitching next year and returning as the Yankees closer to finish out his career the way a first ballot Hall of Famer should. If anyone can come back from such a devastating injury as he has suffered, its Mo. The 42 year old who still pitches as well as he did in 1996 setting up for John Wetteland for the world champion Yankees. The man who still is as shut down as he has ever been. The Yankees have prepared for this possibly happening with two very qualified candidates for the position in the future but when Rivera is healthy this is still his job. So don’t count Mo out as he has proven time and time again why he it the greatest of all time and I expect he will next year.

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Andrew’s 2012 MLB Preview And Picks

It’s that time of the year again. Spring training starts to wrap up and teams rosters start to take shape for the season. And every team in the MLB, yes even the Mets, have World Series aspirations. As a new season starts, many players start new chapters to their careers by joining new teams. The big name free agents this offseason are now in new homes. Albert Pujols left the world champion Cardinals and headed west to Hollywood to join the Los Angeles Angels. Joining Albert in L.A. is pitcher C.J. Wilson coming over from Texas. Prince Fielder calls Detroit home now with the Tigers. But one of the biggest changes and moves in baseball was the franchise wide makeover by the Marlins. Moving downtown to a brand new shiny Miami home and changing colors was a start to the changes but not the end. Signing SS Jose Reyes, SP Mark Buehrle, and RP Heath Bell to big deals and getting Ozzy Guillen to manage the new look Marlins as they try to get back to the World Series that they have won two times.

Standings

American League

East

1. New York Yankees

2. Boston Red Sox*

3. Tampa Bay Rays

4. Toronto Blue Jays

5. Baltimore Orioles

Central

1. Detroit Tigers

2. Minnesota Twins

3. Chicago White Sox

4. Cleveland Indians

5. Kansas City Royals

West

1. Los Angeles Angels

2. Texas Rangers*

3. Oakland Athletics

4. Seattle Mariners

 

National League

East

1. Philadelphia Phillies

2. Atlanta Braves*

3. Miami Marlins*

4. Washington Nationals

5. New York Mets

Central

1. St. Louis Cardinals

2. Cincinnati Reds

3. Milwaukee Brewers

4. Pittsburgh Pirates

5. Chicago Cubs

6. Houston Astros

West

1. San Francisco Giants

2. Arizona Diamondbacks

3. Colorado Rockies

4. Los Angeles Dodgers

5. San Diego Padres

 

Playoffs

American League

Wild Card Game

Red Sox over Rangers

 

AL Divisional

Angels over Red Sox

Yankees over Tigers

 

AL Championship

Angels over Yankees

 

National League

Wild Card

Marlins over Braves

 

NL Divisional

Giants over Marlins

Phillies over Cardinals

 

NL Championship

Phillies over Giants

 

World Series

Angels over Phillies

 

Awards

AL MVP- Albert Pujols 1B Los Angeles Angels

Other Candidates- Robinson Cano 2B New York Yankees, Prince Fielder 1B Detroit Tigers

 

AL Cy Young Award- Justin Verlander Detroit Tigers

Other Candidates- CC Sabathia New York Yankees, Felix Hernandez Seattle Mariners

 

NL MVP- Matt Kemp OF Los Angeles Dodgers

Other Candidates- Joey Votto 1B Cincinnati Reds, Justin Upton OF Arizona Diamondbacks

 

NL Cy Young Award- Cliff Lee Philadelphia Phillies

Other Candidates- Roy Halladay Philadelphia Phillies, Tim Lincecum San Francisco Giants

by Andrew Isaac

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One Last Hip-Hip For Jorge

Now from the core four we are down to the terrific two (Sounded better in my head).

On tuesday morning a teary eyed Jorge Posada announced his retirement from the game of baseball, a career that spans 17 years all wearing pinstripes for the New York Yankees. Posada, a member of the “core four” along with Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and already retired Andy Pettitte, were some of the key pieces for the Yankees from 1996 to the present overtime earning 5 championships.

Jorge’s first game in the MLB was in 1995 but he was sent down to AAA before the postseason so he could not be apart of the 1996 World Series. In 1997 Jorge was named the backup catcher to then starter Joe Girardi and eventually would begin to split time with Girardi. Joe Girardi began to grow into a mentor for Posada, until after the 1999 season when Girardi left New York to play for Chicago Cubs when Posada took over starting at catcher. Over the next few years, Posada flourished into one of the games best and most consistant catchers in the MLB. Posada won a Silver Slugger Award for catcher every year from 2000 to 2003 as well as starting for the American League in the All-Star Game in 2002 and 2003. From 2000 to 2007 Jorge consistently put up numbers that top the league not just for catchers, but for all players.

After the 2007 season, Jorge became an unrestricted free agent and could sign with any team that would make an offer. One of the biggest offer Jorge would receive would be from the Yankees cross town rivals, the New York Mets, offering him a five year contract. Tempted by the contract Posada turned the Mets down and resigned with the Yankees for a four year, $52 million contract, taking less money to stay in the Bronx. Jorge returned to the Yankees in 2008 and him and the rest of the core four won another World Series Championship in 2009.

In 2011 Jorge was moved away from starting catcher to be the DH where he struggled, hitting .230 which lead to manager Joe Girardi removing Jorge from the everyday starting lineup. Jorge was very vocal about being displeased with his recent playing time and when in the lineup batting 8th in the order. As the season progressed a rumor began to spread around that Jorge would retire during the season due to his displeasure of his role on this Yankee team. But Jorge held it together and played the season out with the Yankees, coming off the bench several times and eventually getting himself back into the lineup on occasion. Durring the Postseason against the Detroit Tigers, Posada got six hits (including a triple), four runs, and four walks in 14 at-bats as the starting DH for a .429 batting average and a .579 on-base percentage. After the series ended with the Yankees being eliminated from the postseason Jorge sat in his locker and fielded questions about his future with the team and the possibility that this may be the last time he ever puts on a Yankees uniform and he started to get teary eyed realizing that his future was uncertain. Over the offseason, Jorge was offered several contracts from other teams and he considered continuing his career away from the Yankees but he just could not.

Jorge Posada finished his career batting .273, hitting 275 home runs, batting in 1,065 RBI’s, appearing in 5 All-Star Games, winning 5 Silver Slugger Awards, and most importantly won 4 World Series Championships. All of his stats are great but what he ment to the Yankees goes far beyond statistics.

Posada was one of the most stable and reliable players the Yankees could have hoped for at one of the most important positions in the field. Being a leader in the clubhouse along with Jeter gave the team an identity of professionalism that he showed every time he went out on the field. Jorge didn’t have to put up MVP numbers all the time, he was consistently good putting up numbers that topped hitting stats for catchers all throughout his career. Batting in the heart of the Yankees order for years he was a stable rock that the Yankees could depend on. In his career he has caught pitchers such as Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, David Wells, David Cone, Mike Mussina, and hundreds of Mariano Rivera’s record 603 saves. Not to mention the success of his charity, Jorge Posada Foundation to help find a cure for the disease, Craniosynostosis which his son suffers from, and support families with children affected by the condition. Jorge has made an impact on and off the field.

Growing up watching the Yankees in the late 1990’s and now through the 2000’s, Posada was one of those players who you would just always expect to see behind the plate and batting 6th or 7th in the lineup day in and day out. It will be very odd for years to come to now see someone else behind the plate wearing the traditional Yankees pinstripes catching for CC or Rivera but Yankee fans are going to have to get use to seeing players that they have made huge impacts on the Yankees success over the past 15 years.

As players like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera get older, the end of the road for the members of the “core four” is within sight and the Yankees organization and their fans will have to prepare for life without them. Whether the players leave and join another team or retire, there will be a day when someone else will be lining up at shortstop or catcher and the numbers 2, 20 and 42 will be retired in monument park.

I believe in the future a place in Cooperstown will await Jorge wearing a New York Yankees cap as he has done his entire career adding that to his already impressive resume putting him in the long list of great Yankee catchers where he belongs. Forever in Pinstripes.

But for now lets celebrate and remember the career of one of the great Yankees catchers to put on the pinstripes and one last time,

Hip-Hip…JORGE!!!!

by Andrew Isaac

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Andrew’s 12 Bold Predictions for 2012

12 quick predictions I have for the 2012 year.

1. The Buffalo Bills will draft Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III in the 2012 NFL Draft

2. Tim Tebow will struggle and will get benched.

2a. Tim Tebow will file a restraining order against Skip Bayless when Skip gets Tim’s face tattooed on his chest.

3. Lebron James will hit a game winning jumper to win game 7 of the NBA Finals to silence critics.

4. Albert Pujols will struggle in his first year with the Los Angeles Angels.

5. Peyton Manning will start the season as the New York Jets Quarterback after the Jets drop Mark Sanchez.

6. Tiger Woods will win multiple tournaments including a Major.

7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will win 3 races in Sprint Cup.

8. Sidney Crosby will miss the rest of the 2011-2012 season.

9. A double digit seed will make the Final Four.

10. Dwight Howard will play for the Nets in the 2011-2012 season.

11. The SEC will win their 7th consecutive National Championship in Football

12. The Buffalo Bills will make the playoffs!!! (Hey I can dream right)

Happy New Year!

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2011 A Year in Review

Taking a look back at this past year in sports, there has been everything. Stories of triumph and underdogs and comebacks were everywhere but seemed to be overshadowed by the dark events that have taken place this year. Tragic, horrific and disturbing stories that take the magic that sports can bring to people away and brings everyone to the realization that there is much more important things in sports.

Tragedy struck hard for me personally as me and a nationally televised audience watched a extremely talented driver and kind human being lost his life. Dan Wheldon’s life reached the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in 2011. Getting a one race ride together for the Indianapolis 500 was difficult for Dan, who was a former winner of the race in 2005. Getting into the race was hard enough but to compete and have a chance to win the race was a task that seemed unreal. But it was becoming real as the race continued as Dan was in second with one lap left in the race. Trailing rookie J.R. Hildebrand (the very driver who replaced Dan) heading into the final turn it appeared that a second place finish was in Dans future when the unthinkable happened as Hildebrand took a turn too wide attempting to pass a lap car and crashed into the wall coming off turn four. Dan made the pass taking first and his second Indy 500 victory. It seemed like a dream that a driver who everyone seemed to give up on and nobody wanted could reach the highest peak in his sport again. The emotion that race brought to Dan and his family made us all believe in the magic that sports can bring to us. Unfortunately the next time we would see Dan on a national stage would be the last.

At the season ending race in Las Vegas, Dan was racing for a $2.5 million prize if he won this race as well as the Indy 500 while other drivers were racing for a championship. It was learned before the race that Dan would replace Danica Patrick and race full seasons for Andretti Autosport. Several people around Indy Car and complained about the dangers of the high speeds the cars obtain on the oval in Vegas reaching over 200 MPH at times. At lap 11 running in a pack of about 15 cars, one car got loose, taped another car and all hell broke loose. Cars hitting other cars, getting airborne and flying everywhere. It was a mess. As the cleanup began, one by one drivers walked away from the accident until there was only one driver who did not. Dan was loaded into a helicopter and taken to a local hospital. As we all waited watching the accident again and again on tv and still not hearing any news about Dan, everyone started to fear the worse might have happened. At 1:54 PM PST Dan Wheldon was pronounced dead. Because of the events the race was called and the grieving began for the entire sports world. The sport lost one of its bright stars.

Losing faith and trust in coaches is a unfortunate fact that we all have had to cope with this year. The horrific atrocities that allegedly have occurred at Penn State from former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and his inappropriate relationships with young boys and the events that have taken place afterwords still shake all of us to the core that all of these acts can go undiscovered or just pushed under the rug for so many years. And knowing that head coach Joe Paterno knew about all of this and did not do everything in his power to make sure the truth came out and keep Sandusky away from his program and report him to the proper authorities is just as disturbing.

Having these types of stories at one organization is bad enough but to have more coaches from more universities now being brought to light pushes the issue of really knowing who is around your children. Former Syracuse mens basketball coach Bernie Fine sexual abuse allegations shows that this is and has been a problem all over and has been happening for a longer time than we first thought. Parents must pay attention to who they are letting their children around and really know who that person is.

Along with the NBA lockout that stretched into the beginning of the NBA season and resulted in lost games for the season, all of the colleges breaking rules for recruiting and obtaining illegal benefits showed that not all things in sports are nice and good and friendly.

Hidden behind all of the dark stories are the moments in sports that we all love to see.

The Vince Lombardi Trophy returning home in Green Bay as the Packers beat the Steelers in the Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers escaping from the shadow of Brett Favre and reaching the potential greatness that people had projected him to reach. The unbelievable season that Tom Brady had and the unexpected exit that the Patriots had all lead to a exciting NFL season that lead into a lockout that scared all NFL fans into the reality that their might not be a NFL season in 2012.

The excitement of the final day of the Major League Baseball regular season and the craziness that ensued. Having two of the biggest collapses in MLB history with the Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves falling to the Tampa Bay Rays and the St. Louis Cardinals. Who would have thought in August that the St. Louis Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Rays would be in the post season. As the playoffs continued the Cardinals continued their miraculous run all the way to the World Series to face the Texas Rangers returning to the Fall Classic for the second consecutive year. In game 6 the Rangers lead the Cardinals 3 games to 2 as the Rangers led the game in the 9th inning with one out remaining from their first championship. But David Freese hit a game tying 2 run Triple to send the game into extras. After the teams exchanged runs again in the 10th inning again the Cardinals coming back from the brink of elimination to send the game into the 11th inning. Again David Freese came to the plate and again he came up clutch. Smacking a solo shot to dead center over the fence sent St. Louis into madness and into game 7 and the eventual championship. The unbelievable events that occurred in game 6 have caused many people around baseball to call this one of the best games they have ever seen.

Several other examples of sports moments like the Mavericks winning the NBA championship over the Miami Heat and their superteam, The US Women Soccer teams run in the World Cup and falling short of the championship, the exciting finish to the NASCAR season between Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards, the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup, Derek Jeter hitting his 3000th hit in grand fashion with a homer, Cam Newtons rise to prominence and winning a national championship with Auburn, University of Connecticut winning the NCAA Basketball championship behind Kemba Walker’s impressive run, and of course the media’s obsession with Tebow Mania, are only a few of the events that made the 2011 sports year the one that it is.

What we all must remember when these type of scandals and tragedies occur is that there is much more in this world than just sports and we all have to remember that. At the end of the day it is just a game that gifted athletes play against each other and should not be taken so serious some times. You must take a step back and look at the bigger picture. But when sports can show us good in the world and make us feel good, that is when it is more than just a silly game. It can heal woulds and give hope to people without it.

Unfortunately all of the other events that showed what good sports can do to for people was overshadowed by the countless stories of tragedy, scandals, and accusations.

This is what the 2011 year in sports will be remembered for.

by Andrew Isaac

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