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Archive for the category “Baseball”

Major League Baseball And Its Neverending Problems

the faces of PEDs
Baseball has been fighting an uphill battle. They have been trying to get their popularity back for years after the performance-enhancing drugs scandal that rocked the sport in 2005 with Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro. Every year it seems like the more baseball makes strides forward, the ugly side of the sport comes back again. The last time PEDs came up was when Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was accused of taking performance-enhancing drugs before the 2012 season after a failed drug test. Braun appealed and the slugger was found to be innocent due to the reported incorrect storage of the sample he gave. All seemed to be well and baseball was on its way back to clearing its name. But that all came to a screeching halt this year with the latest scandal to rock the baseball world.

Apparently, Ryan Braun was a part of an even bigger web of deceit than anyone was aware of. He, along with Alex Rodriguez and reportedly 20 other people, were involved with a Biogenesis lab in Florida that had allegedly issued PEDs to major league baseball players. What makes Rodriguez and Braun stand out even more is that they were the ones who were the most connected. And now the circumstances of their fall are about to go down. The first shoe to fall was Braun. After putting up a fight the whole time claiming innocence, he finally succumbed to the pressure of living a lie. Braun has been suspended by Major League Baseball without pay for the rest of the 2013 season. And he only has himself to blame. He lied repeatedly and in the process stole money from the Brewers organization in the form of a multi-million dollar extension to be the face of the franchise. So in conclusion, he is not only a liar but a thief. He robbed the Brewers and as of right now, he will still be able to be a millionaire while having his reputation tarnished forever.

Alex Rodriguez was someone that many people have perceived as a polarizing figure for a while. He has always been uber-talented, but some felt he still lacked a little something. And with the later admissions of PED use while a member of the Texas Rangers from 2001-2003 and the sorted past of close calls with steroids, it could be seen that he has been masking his use of steroids all this time. Even though he claimed that he had been clean the entire time he was in New York, most never believed him because of the stories he told as to how he got the steroids. Anyone remember the story about his cousin giving him something he bought in Puerto Rico? A-Rod claimed he didn’t know what he took was illegal and if he even took it correctly. That explanation alone sounds fishy. So when he was implicated in this scandal this time, no one really believed that he was innocent and apparently Major League Baseball doesn’t either. As a result of all the mess that A-Rod has done in their eyes, baseball officials are reportedly seeking substantial penalties against Rodriguez, with talks of a lifetime ban. Some are going to say that it isn’t the correct decision because this would be his first suspension. But for that explanation, there is only one answer. When you get in trouble, you never get to pick your punishment. So in this instance, if he is indeed guilty (which from all indications and reports he is), then he has to accept the punishment. And with the reported misleading of investigators to go on top of potential use of PEDs, he has become the biggest target of the investigation and could be the prime example made. Both he and Braun made their bed. They chose money over morals and now these are the consequences.

But Major League Baseball isn’t exactly free of any blame either. Baseball benefitted off the popularity created when Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire had their historic summer. In fact, some considered Sosa and McGuire the saviors of baseball. And it was at that point that the majors began to promote the long ball. Baseball put all these guys on a pedestal while turning a blind eye to all the things that may have been happening behind the scenes. This goes all the way back to 1987 and the days of McGuire and Canseco in Oakland when they were the Bash Brothers. Baseball has forever been turning a blind eye to what has been happening while they have been obtaining financial gain from it. In my opinion, the league has more than an issue with Braun, Rodriguez and any other people that are going to come out. It has an issue with how they do business. And quite honestly, this sounds like the pot calling the kettle black.

In the end, Bud Selig and his crew call the shots and they have to be the ones to make it better. And if they want to do that, they must get a “Two Strikes” policy. The first punishment should be at least 100 games suspension without pay.  And if someone was crazy enough to test that policy again, they should be banned from the game. Sure, both decisions can be appealed, but there is no excuse for not knowing what can and cannot be done. And also, if you are punished with a suspension, your contract should be voided right then and there. All the guaranteed money that you have coming with that contact, including bonus money and incentives, should be cut off as well. If baseball wants to try and rid themselves of the problem, they have to become tougher. Another big problem is the players association. They must understand that their rules are helping protect the people that are bending them. And in turn, it is making the players as a whole look worse and worse. If they do not work with the commissioner, then this problem will never get better.

We shall see how this one pans out but one thing is for sure: baseball is out of control on a lot of levels. And honestly, there may not be an end in sight for this.

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Yet Another Firesale In Miami

The Marlins were generating a lot of buzz going into this season. They were opening a new ballpark in Miami and changed their name from the Florida Marlins to the Miami Marlins. In addition to the change of name, the Marlins added players like Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle, Padres pitcher Heath Bell and Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano to ramp up the excitement even more. And for good measure, the Marlins brought in World Series-winning manager Ozzie Guillen to guide this team. The scene was set for the Marlins to make a run at another championship.

(Ozzie Guillen frustrated via )

Fast forward to now and the Marlins are in fourth place in their division and everthing is looking like a disappointment. They just shipped shortstop/third baseman Hanley Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers for some minor league players. And before that, the Marlins shipped infielder Omar Infante and pitcher Anibal Sanchez to the Detroit Tigers for prospects. The vote is in. The Marlins are having another firesale. And just like that, the optimism in has quickly gone to disappointment.

After seeing the rebuild and unload method happen over and over again in Miami, I am sure that they find a way to build and contend again. But can they continue to do this at the expense of the fans? It seems like the fans get robbed more years than they get rewarded with this team. If you look at the team’s history, when they have won a championship, they have pretty much unloaded the team during the off-season or during the next season’s trade deadline. What team does that over and over again?

(An excited fan via )

The fans in Miami, although they do not show up a lot, do not deserve this type of treatment from the organization. In my opinion, two things must happen in order for this organization to survive on South Beach. The first thing that they must do is retain some of their  homegrown talents. Pitcher AJ Burnett, infielder Miguel Cabrera, first baseman Derek Lee and third baseman/shortstop Hanley Ramirez are all special talents that grew up in the Marlin organization. Fast forward to now and none are there anymore. The Marlins shipped these players out for other young talents instead of trying to build some familiarity with the players among their fans. This clearly shows me that the Marlins are a cheap team.  In order to get the fans to come out,  the Marlins must pay to keep their in-house talent in Miami so the fans can recognize the team that represents their city. Next, the Marlins must reach out to the city and try to be involved. Maybe they could learn from the Miami Heat and be more visable in the community. It seems to me like the organization is one that cries about the fans not coming but does not do much to persuade them to come or even become more endebted to them.

If these two things are not done, then it won’t be long before the Marlins are gone in Miami. And if they leave Miami, baseball may never come back to South Beach.

What do you think of the Miami Marlins? Thoughts on the newest firesale?

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Jose Reyes: Selfish and Scared

The Mets’ Jose Reyes has had an incredible year. Despite a few injuries, he has stolen bases, hit for power and became the menace on the basepaths that many thought he could still be. Now some may say that he only had a year like this because this was his contract year, but nonetheless, he had a great year. But as great of a year as he was having, he sure picked a peculiar way to end it.

With the Mets way out of contention, Joes Reyes was still in contention for the National League batting title. Reyes knew that if he won this title, he would be the first Met to ever win this title. So, before the last game of the season, he goes up to his manager and tells him that if he gets a hit in his first at-bat, he wants to be taken out of the game. Long story short, he gets a hit in his first at-bat and Mets Manager Terry Collins removes Reyes from the game. Now, I’m I the only one that has an issue with this?

Not only did Reyes basically put his own personal gain ahead of his team, but he cheated the fans as well. Fans spend their hard-earned money to see superstars go out and play and entertain because, above all, professional sports are entertainment. For him to leave the game and admit he left because he wanted a record is just flat-out selfish. I wish a teammate of mine would do something like that to me. That teammate, in my eyes, would be viewed as someone who is only about him and was never about the team.

And the insanity not only stops there. Reyes went on to say that he didn’t care what the people thought, but that he talked to many people that thought he should play and some that thought he shouldn’t play and that’s how he came to his decision. To me, that’s contradictory talk. If you did not care what other people thought, then why even admit you listened to their opinions? Why wouldn’t you just stand on your own two feet on your decision instead of trying to bring everyone else in?

Well, I have the answer for that. In all actuality, he does care what people think of him. When people don’t care what people think of them, they don’t go out of their way to bring other people into what they were thinking. They make the decision on their own and accept the consequences on their own. To me, that’s just someone that sounds scared of what people may say about him.

Reyes is a free agent now and will be free to sign with whatever team he wants. But to all the teams considering him, I hope they paid attention to this display. It could be a one-in-a-lifetime, harmless display. But it also could be a deeper look into the real personality of Jose Reyes.

Steel City Revival

The Pirates are leading the NL Central. I repeat. The Pirates are leading the NL Central. Anyone who had the Pirates leading the NL Central this late in the season also believed that there was gold at the end of the rainbow and that unicorns really exist. The Pirates are in first place in the NL Central and there are three main reason why..

Andrew McCutchen has been the heart and soul of the Pirates this year. He is leading the Pirates in batting average(.277) and homeruns(14). He is fulfilling the promise that all saw in him as he rose through the ranks of the Pirates farm system. McCutchen is the type of player that can have the same kind of effect that the Mets Jose Reyes has on the game because of his electrifying speed, power and his ability to make plays no normal outfielder can make. And the thing that’s even more scary about him is he hasn’t even reached his prime.

Another big cog on this team is the starting pitching duo of Kevin Correia and Andrew Karstens. These two guys have been the stalwarts of this revamped pitching staff that has an ERA that’s almost a full two runs better than last year and has more wins than all of last year already. And even though these guys have done so well, no one even knows who they are still. Its amazing to watch these two guys make a name for themselves. And it will also be amazing to see how they finish the season.

All the things that these three key players have done for the Pirates are great, but the undoubted captain of this ship is manager Clint Hurdle. Yes, the same guy who helped take the Rockies to a new level is now taking another unexpected team to new heights. Maybe its time for people to actually give him credit for what he can do as a manager. He should be the NL Manager of the Year for this outstanding job.

Now with all this said, the season isn’t over yet and the Pirates still have to fight off the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers to claim the crown. I think they need to make the move to go after another bat. A rumor floating around is the Pirates will be in the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes, especially if what the Mets are saying is true. The Mets are offering to pay Beltran’s contract for the rest of the year in exchange for prospects. If I’m the Pirates, I make that deal. Beltran is having a good year and we all remember what he did for the Astros the last time he was in a contract year. But for now, the Pirates have exceeded expectations and they are to be commended.


The Dead Period

Do you hear that? Exactly. Its the deafening silence that is the break between basketball and football. At this time of year, baseball and its stars are put on fill display while football is getting ready to gear up. But in all actuality, the popularity of baseball doesn’t even compare to the popularity of football.

The dead period, as I like to call it, is an incurable time because of the slowness of baseball. Baseball is a game that’s better live and in person in my opinion. Baseball doesn’t appeal to the average fan because of the lack of constant action. Now imagine this dead period extended because of the NFL being gone. Now don’t get me wrong, I love college football, but I also love watching the NFL as well. Saturdays and Sundays just wouldn’t be the same without the perfect match of the NFL and college football.

As the dead period stretches on, the collective hysteria of the fans grows more and more, it will be interesting to see what kind of unrest happens with the fans and what kind of panic sets in for the owners and the players. Only time will tell if a deal gets done. Until then, all I hear is deafening silence.


A Superstar Comparison That’s Closer Than Most Think

I was listening to ESPN Radio on my way home one day when I heard ESPN Radio show host Freddie Coleman say something that captured my attention. Coleman essentially said that Alex Rodriguez and LeBron James were the same player but in different sports. I was taken back by Coleman’s claim when I first heard it. I then looked into this a little bit more and came to one conclusion: Coleman’s right.

Rodriguez has been a talented player for as long as I can remember. But for as much talent as he was given, he couldn’t be “the man” in Seattle and ultimately in Texas. A-Rod always put up great numbers in the regular season, but he never routinely led his teams to the playoffs. And even when he was in the playoffs, he didn’t come through like he did in the regular season. He eventually got traded to New York because of his massive contract crippling the Rangers’ organization. There he joined forces with then Mr. Clutch Derek Jeter and the Yankees won the championship. A-Rod got the title that had eluded him for so long, but unfortunately, I don’t think the Yankees won because of his talent. They won because of the clutch play of Jeter and pitching.

LeBron James was a star before he even hit the age of 18. He was big, athletic, quick and at times unstoppable. The Ohio native was drafted number 1 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers and soon we were all witnesses to some of his greatest moments as he grew up right in front of our eyes. But for all the growing up LeBron did, he never quite has turned the corner as far as taking his team to the ultimate prize. Like A-Rod, a lot of people expected him to have won a title by now. But after disappointments in the NBA playoffs numerous years, James decided to take his talents to South Beach during “The Decision”. LeBron is on the doorstep of achieving his first title, but if the Heat win the title, it won’t be the way that many envisioned the title being won for LeBron. LeBron has played well this playoffs, but in clutch time in the NBA Finals, Miami has become D Wade’s team. Wade has shown up at the right time with that same clutch gene that he and Jeter share.

Now, I will say that LeBron still has more years to play than A-Rod and LeBron even has more time this series to change how he is perceived right now. But as of this moment and time, he and Alex Rodriguez are the same type of athlete. They are supremely talented. They produce huge numbers as well, but in regards to that clutch gene, that’s what they both seem to be missing that their superstar teammates Jeter and D Wade seem to have.

In Sports Decisions, Feelings Can’t Get In The Way Of Business

The Yankees lost to the Boston Red Sox last night 11-6. But what was glaringly obvious was the play of the Captain, shortstop Derek Jeter. Jeter went 1-5 as he continues his year-long slump. Jeter is getting paid roughly $17 or $18 million this year and he has produced a measly .261 with 2 homeruns and 17 RBIs. In my opinion, the Yankees overpaid and thought too much with their heart and not their business mind. I understand his meaning to the Yankees organization, but is his meaning worth $17 million when his production has been steadily declining?

Another example of a player who was declining being overpaid is Yankees catcher Jorge Posada. He’s been a good player for the Yankees, but he’s been in decline for a while and now the Yankees are stuck with his contract too. Posada can’t even catch anymore because of health issues and he hasn’t exactly been the best designated hitter either. So, let’s recap. The Yankees have a catcher whose body has broken down and a shortstop who doesn’t have the same range and is slumping at the plate.

Jeter and Posada are just the newest examples of players who are overpaid because an organization thought more with their feelings than with their business minds. If I was the Yankees, if Jeter wouldn’t have accepted my first offer, he could have walked. And in terms of Posada, I would have let him move on so a younger catcher could be brought in. These types of situations happen all the time in sports and it has to stop. When sports franchises do things like this, they set their franchises back ultimately a couple years more. Owners and general managers have to start being smarter and thinking two moves ahead.

I’m not professing that I would be a good general manager, but what I am saying is that being general manager is like a chess game. You have to be two moves ahead, but if you make a one bad move, it could be the end of your job and tenure. General managers, take your emotions out of decisions please. Fans want a winning team and a championship-caliber team, not a team full of sentimental players or lovable losers. Ask the Cubs what the “lovable loser” label ever won them.

Did Manny Ramirez Retire Or Did He Try To Run And Hide?

Manny Ramirez has been a great hitter for many years in his career. He helped bring a championship to Boston and combined with David Ortiz to be one of the scariest 1-2 combinations in baseball at one time. Manny, who was most recently playing with the Tampa Bay Rays, abruptly decided to retire. But his retirement comes with a huge cloud over it.

Manny came up in the Cleveland Indian organization as a power-hitting outfielder with a sweet swing and an eye at the plate. He lived up to the billing in Cleveland and eventually moved on to Boston and then to Los Angeles and this year landed in Tampa. But for as much as Manny was known as a great hitter, all that will be erased because of his two big run-ins with performance-enhancing drugs.

Manny tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2009 while playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was suspended for 50 games that season. When Manny came back, he seemed to be a shell of what he was before the suspension. His batting average went down .100 points, his RBI production started to diminish and his at bats per homeruns went from around 12 to 24. It was apparent that whatever he was taking was gone and had been carrying his game.

Manny was traded to the Chicago White Sox at the end of last year and he was a free agent this summer. The Tampa Bay Rays took a chance on him and signed Ramirez to a one year deal. Well, apparently, Ramirez didn’t learn from the first time he tested positive for PED’s because he tested positive again during spring training. This time he was faced with a 100 game suspension. Well, instead of Ramirez serving the suspension, he retired. Now his legacy will forever be tainted.

Ramirez joins a list of players who we don’t know what all they did clean and what they did when they were under the influence of the PED’s. And its because of this, Ramirez will never be recognized by the Hall of Fame nor will he be considered by most fans as a great baseball player. In my opinion, he will now be considered a cheater who never learned and retired only to hide from his issues.

How Much Is Too Much?

Albert Pujols is scheduled to be a free agent after this season is over. He claims that he will not give the Cardinals a discount like he did last time when he got a huge contract. Pujols wants a new deal in place before spring training is scheduled to start and he is seeking a 10 year $300 million deal.

Pujols is now a 31 year old first baseman. He has achieved a lot in his career. He has had 100+ RBIs and 30+ homeruns every year of his professional career. He has basically carried the Cardinal offense for the last few years, but is he really worth $30 million a year? I personally think he isn’t worth that much money.

For all the great things that Pujols does, he can’t pitch every 5th day, he can’t close out ballgames on the mound and he cannot play two positions at one time in the same game. If the Cardinals sign him to the big deal he craves, they would cripple their franchise and ensure that they would be a losing franchise for a long time. If the Cardinals are smart, they will let Pujols move on if they cannot agree to a contract.

The plan of action would be to attempt to trade Pujols before the trade deadline and get some pieces in return for him. If the Cardinals let him walk after the season, they won’t be able to get the maximum amount for him in return. The Cardinals can take the prospects and the freed up money and go get a replacement for Pujols in the free agent market. They would be able to fill more holes with the money freed up. Also, at the end of the proposed deal, Pujols will be 41 and the fact of the matter is that not many players play to the level of their contract after they get in their upper 30s, let alone early 40s.

I’m a Pujols fan and I applaud what he has done in his career, but for him to think that he can sign for 30 million a year in St. Louis and still be playing for a contending team is crazy. The only way he could do that is if he plays for the Yankees or Red Sox, and both teams have their first basemen in Mark Texiera and Adrian Gonzalez respectively.

America’s Favorite Past Time?

The World Series is going on. It is going to be a good matchup. The Texas Rangers versus the San Francisco Giants. The problem is no one is interested and no one will be watching.

There used to be a time when baseball captured people’s imaginations and the excitement would capture the nation. It just seems like these days baseball is just something that is on television to occupy space. You would think there would be a way that the former favorite sport of America could make a comeback. In my eyes, if baseball is to make a comeback, some adjustments need to be made.

The first adjustment would be to integrate baseball into the inner-city neighborhoods. It seems like these days there are no baseball teams in the inner city. The issue isn’t that the sport isn’t liked, it just isn’t introduced. Baseball is seen as a sport where people have to have a lot of money to play, when in all actuality, you don’t.

Another thing that baseball should do is shorten the season. The season runs right into football season every year. If I took a poll of people interested in baseball during football season, 1 out of 10 people would be interested. Why not shorten the season and take advantage of the summertime and the absence of pro and college football.

And finally, baseball should try and speed up the tempo. A lot of times, baseball is the sport considered by most to put people to sleep because of the constant staling of the pitchers and the stalling of the managers. The shorter the game, the more people would be interested.

So, when you turn on your TV tonight and some of you watch the World Series, take these theories and thoughts into consideration and think what the game would be. It would be a game where kids would see more of themselves out there and also the sport would be the main attraction throughout the summer.

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