Back, back, back…GONE

I only have time for a quick entry, even though I wasn’t able to write all weekend. In the next two days, expect an entry recapping the Toronto series (quite a success considering the circumstances), and the position we’re in heading into the All-Star break.

In the meantime, enjoy David Ortiz’s display of power.

He’s in the midst of the 2010 Home Run Derby, and is putting on a show so far. Let’s go Big Papi!

All Star Confusions, NL Time

Hello, everyone out there on MLBlogs. I hope the middle of your week is going well.

Yesterday, I discussed the AL All-Star team, doing my best to not rant and complain about the game and the players that made it (or didn’t). Today, however, will call for a little ranting, mostly about the exclusion from the game of Joey Votto. You knew it was coming…

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Joey Votto, 1B, Reds

So I guess I’ll jump right in on the topic of Votto. While Votto is expected to win the Final Vote for the NL (he’s been ahead throughout the voting period), his initial exclusion is a glaring mistake by the voters, whether they be fans, assorted coaches and managers, or Bud Selig. For Votto to not make the team, a few things had to happen.

First, the fans did not give him enough votes to make the starting 8 for the ASG. Votto is a quiet and reserved player, and did not receive much attention before this year, and even during this year. He has never been a superstar, and had a good season last year on a weak Reds team, therefore not granting him much time in the limelight. He is also not a flashy player, he hits homeruns, but also has a solid average, and is a good defensive player. He does everything well, but without much showiness. Therefore, it is understandable why the fans may have missed out on voting for Votto (additionally, Votto would have had to compete with Pujols for this spot, and although their stats are close, Pujols has infinitely more name value, and perhaps deserves the spot more anyways).

Second, a mixture of players, coaches, and managers, did not select him to be the backup 1st baseman. I am not sure whether the direct backup is Adrian Gonzalez or Ryan Howard, but the choice of either over Votto is a mistake. Gonzalez, being the only Padre on the team, as well as having had a quiet but successful season so far, deserves the spot. However, Howard has had a slightly better season than Gonzalez, with a higher average and OBP, as well as more RBIs and runs scored. That makes this a tough decision. If I were to choose 2 of the 3 (Votto, Gonzalez, and Howard) to make the team, I would probably choose Votto and Howard, although the margin between Gonzalez and Howard is very slim. However, based on the rules, at least one Padre must make the team.

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Another big snub of the game is Matt Latos, a Padres pitcher who’s had a very good season thus far and in my opinion is about even with Tim Hudson and Yovani Gallardo, 2 pitchers that did make the team. If Latos had made the team as I believe he should have, the Padres would have 1 player in the game, and Howard and Votto could have their spots (while this is all biased towards Votto, it would work).

Finally, Charlie Manuel, and a mix of the other managers in the NL and Commis. Selig also passed on Votto. This means that they had already decided on either Howard or Gonzalez as the backup. They then had to decide between Votto and either of these players, a battle that Votto easily wins. However, if Howard had been decided the backup, the decision between Gonzalez and Votto would have again had to adress the rule that each team must be represented, a problem which could again have been solved by the inclusion of Matt Latos. This is all a chain reaction, caused by the mistake of not including Latos (although there are other ways to look at it as well).

Simply put, Votto (who’s batting .312 with an OBP of .412, 19 homers, 57 RBIs, and 53 runs,) deserves an All-Star spot. And he will likely get one. But it’s really a shame he wasn’t selected in the first place.

Omar Infante, utility man, Braves

The second-most talked about mistake of this All-Star team is Omar Infante. While people have made the point that utility players do not often get selected, and deserve recognition for their often unrecognized efforts, I still think this All-Star bid is over the top. I have played a utility position for my school team for the past two years, switching between mainly outfield and catcher. I know how it feels to do so much for your team under the radar, and it can get annoying. I do wish utility players could get more recognition in baseball, but the basic truth here is that Infante doesn’t really deserve this spot. He’s batting a solid .309, with 1 homer and 22 RBIs. These just aren’t All-Star numbers. I hate to say this about a player that’s worked hard all season, but Infante is taking up space from guys that deserve this more (Rickie Weeks, Dan Uggla, and more importantly Ryan Zimmerman).

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Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta

I am a big Heyward fan, and I do feel like he deserves the All-Star spot, especially with the way he’s performed right out of the gates of his career. However, I do think his starting spot is very questionable. To be honest, I would prefer any of the reserve outfielders on the team starting in front of Heyward. Marlon Byrd, Chris Young, Corey Hart, Michael Bourn to a slightly lesser extent, and especially Matt Holliday are worthy of starting in front of Heyward. But it’s nice to see a rookie in the starting lineup, and I don’t think Heyward should have any trouble beating Strasburg or anyone else for Rookie Of the Year come awards time.

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Thanks all for bearing with the extended Votto rant at the beginning, and thanks for reading!

P.S.

I just created an email for this blog, in case anyone ever wants to contact me for any reason.  If you ever have questions, comments, a topic you want me to write about, or anything else, you can write me at fenwaybc@gmail.com

I am still trying to make this the email for my account, but for now do not email me at the current email it says on my profile. This new one is the place to reach me. Thanks.

All-Stars Confusing as Always…

Happy Tuesday to everyone out there on MLBlogs.

Some of you may have been misled by the title of this post. You may be expecting a full-out rant on Bud Selig, the fan-vote, the ridiculousness of the All-Star Game, and of course, a certain Mr. Joey Votto. However, I’ve read enough of these rants in the past few days, and I’m sure you have as well. I know that another one is not needed. And while I’ve read some interesting suggestions for how the All-Star situation can be improved, most of the complaints revolve around the same issues. I agree with most of the complaints, and I support any measures people are taking to change them, but for now there is little we can do. That’s why I plan to focus more on those that are on the team, and why I’m excited for the All-Star break festivities; rather than everything that’s wrong with the ASG and all the outrageous snubs, and players that should have made it. (However, I do believe that Joey Votto exclusion from the game is a matter worth discussing, so you’ll have to bear with a little ranting when I get to that topic)
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Since I can’t write about every All-Star, I’ll focus on some picks I find interesting, or those I find most deserving. Today I’ll discuss the AL team, tomorrow the NL. Here goes…
Trevor Cahill, SP, A’s

Cahill has emerged as an ace for the surprise Oakland A’s, a team that’s hanging tough in the AL West, a very competitive division. To me, the selection of Cahill was a surprise as well, partly because I don’t watch much A’s baseball and I had honestly never really 

trevor-cahill-pic.jpgheard of the guy. And while stats never tell the whole story, his are very solid, and he definitely does deserve this spot. However, being the only Oakland player on the ro

ster, I’ve gotta wonder whether his All-Star spot is just meant to comply with the rules (each team
 must be represented) or not. This is not to take away from the honor of being an All-Star, and he seems to be a player deserving, whether it’s for the sake of rules or not.
And here I was, thinking if anyone made it from the A’s it would be Dallas Braden (
although I don’t know if A-Rod and him would even be able to share a dugout together)!
Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers and Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins
There is no doubt Miggy should be an All-Star, that’s for sure. The interesting thing about this is that he’s a guy batting .339 with 20 homers and 70 RBIs, and he’s not a starter. Many would wonder what kind of circumstances would ever cause a player having that kind of season to not be a starter in the ASG. Well, I think the only possible situation where this could happen is if the guy starting in front of you is having a season like Justin Morneau is. Morneau is simply tearing the cover off the ball, batting .344 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs. And while Miggy’s power numbers are slightly higher, I don’t at all disagree with Morneau getting the starting spot here. However, if it happens to come down to an MVP race between these two, and their stats stay similar to what they are now, my vote is with Cabrera, because he both does not have Joe Mauer on his team, and is producing significantly more r
uns than Morneau is. A stellar season for both of them so far.
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Matt Thornton, RP, White Sox 
This one seems to be even more of a “complying with the rules” vote than the pick of Cahill. I truly can’t think of any other reason for Thornton to be on the All-Star team other than the rules. He’s a reliever who pitches about an inning in every appearance, and I don’t kno
w enough about the White Sox situation to know whether he’s a setup man or some kind of short middle reliever. He’s picked up 5 saves this year, picking up a few of these in the past week in normal closer Bobby Jenks’s absence from the team. Thornton doesn’t have an abnormally high strikeout rate, or anything else I notice that really makes him stand out, so this pick is kind of a head-scratcher for me. Out of any players on the White Sox that deserve an All-Star bid, I think Paul Konerko is most deserving (he may still make it in with the Final Vote), however there was a pitching spot to fill, and I guess Thornton was the guy for it. Still a little confused on this one…
Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees
Jeter is truly a baseball icon by my standards. Having now made back-to-back All-S
tar games in the latter part of his career, he is really a player to be admired. He continues to produce day in and day out, and is a real iron man among MLB players. I look up to him both on and off the field, as he constantly reminds me why he’s my “favorite” Yankee. He is now headed to Anaheim for his 11th career All-Star game, and shows no signs of stopping 
anytime soon. I wish Jeter the best of luck in the ASG and in the future.
Just not during the division race :)
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Kevin Youkilis, 1B, Red Sox (Final Vote)

My man Youk is currently one of 5 players (Konerko, Delmon Young, Michael Young, and Nick Swisher) up to make the All-Star team by the Final Vote (voted by fans). According to the latest update, Youk is in the lead, and I am very happy for him, because he really deserves it. However, I’m currently boycotting the Final Vote based on the sugge
stion from my friends over at The Game Above All. That’s right, boycotting. And while I don’t tot
ally agree with all their complaints about the ASG, I do think that they make a good point when suggesting the boycott. Check out their blog to see why, it’s a great read. 
Therefore, I don’t have much to say about Youkilis, other than that he’s having a fantastic season, and has done an especially good job holding the team together in the wake of all the injuries we’ve suffered. I wish him the best in his quest to make the team! 
Tomorrow come my NL All-Star thoughts, but for now, thanks for reading!
P.S.

Congrats to David Ortiz on his selection to the Homerun Derby! Should be great to see Papi mashing ball after ball in Anaheim.
Also, for those
of you that are interested in the notable AL All-Star snubs, here’s a nice gallery with discussions of some of them.
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Really back… I guess? (5 Red Sox Thoughts)

Hello again, everyone out there in the MLBlogosphere.

 I’m guessing that anyone who’s ever read my blog has noticed I tend to go AWOL for long periods of time, and then return with a post from the bottom of my heart about how things have been busy in my life (aren’t they always?), and how I’ll never leave again. Last time I did this, I had something like 2 posts before I was out the door again. I’ve now done this kind of thing two or three times, and now I’m not going to apologize and promise it won’t happen again. We all have busy lives, with tons of things going on, and there’s really no use complaining about them or using them as excuses for laziness. I’ve noticed that the most successful bloggers on MLBlogs are those who update their blogs every few days; those that are consistent. I have been hardly that, and I may continue to be hardly that. I don’t know. But I’m now well into summer break, and I have a good amount of free time, so I know that I will try to blog as frequently and consistently as possible. So I guess I managed to add a promise for blogging faithfulness after all! But enough with the apologies and promises. Fenway Bleacher Creature is officially back in business!
I have missed almost an entire half of the season to write about on MLBlogs, and it would take a very long time to do a complete review post about the Red Sox and baseball this year. It has been a busy and eventful year in the MLB, and nonetheless so for my beloved Boston franchise. As an attempt to review this season (so far) as best I can, I give you my 5 First Half Red Sox thoughts for the 2010 season. I hope you enjoy these, and if you have trouble staying focused on something for a long time (like me), you can just read the bold thoughts rather than my opinions and elaborations on them. Either way, I appreciate it.
#1 – For some reason, the Red Sox are always a bandwagon team.
bandwagon, noun
-When one only likes or agrees with someone/something due to success. Even if said individual liked/agreed with something before they were successful, they “hopped on the bandwagon.”-

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Somehow, the Boston Red Sox seem to always be a bandwagon waiting to happen. In ’04 there were “the Idiots,” a time that, while sometimes annoying, was pretty hard to hate most of the time. We struggled in the early summer months, fighting the Yankees for first place in the AL East and struggling past injuries and slumps. When we reached the playoffs we defeated the Angels without much trouble, then rolled into NYC for what promised to be a series for the ages. And, oh what a series it was. But any baseball fan knows the story of that series. I’m not one to gloat or brag, so I won’t dwell on that great victory for Boston and try to get my shots in at the Yanks and their fans. However, our remarkable comeback in that series sparked a Red Sox bandwagon. Friends in California and Florida told me that they were rooting for the Sox against the Cardinals and that a lot of their friends were as well. While this was nothing like those times when the whole nation rallies around a team, but it was the start of my experience with Red Sox bandwagons and bandwagon fans.
Now, in 2010, as the Red Sox, after an absolutely dismal first month or so, have finally climbed back into contention, sitting as of now a game and a half behind New York in the AL East, have turned into a bandwagon as well. Tons of people I know are suddenly claiming that they supported the Sox all along, and that they were there through the worst of it, always knowing that things would get better. I hate to break it to everyone, but… you weren’t. I like to think that I’m a pretty big Sox fan, and there were many times I gave up on my team this year. Everyone gave up on them.
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However, now that things are all better in Red Sox Nation, these bandwagon fans are popping up everywhere, each one’s claim of undying Red Sox belief and loyalty more ridiculous than the last. And while I am slightly irritated by the most outrageous bandwagon fans, I guess it’s true that because so many of us Sox fans gave up on our team early this season, we’re all technically bandwagon fans. And I’m not gonna deny that. I also can’t deny that the Sox are somehow a bandwagon team every other year, so that long rant about our struggles and our bandwagon fans is all part of my first Red Sox thought, something that I have always found interesting and one that sums up the biggest struggle of our first half of 2010.
#2 – We know how to get injured like no one else.

I’ll keep this one short and sweet (well, not so sweet). Red Sox players have been dropping like flies, from Varitek all the way to Clay Buccholz, the most recent Sox player to hit the DL. We currently have 4 regular starters injured, as well as a ******** 7 other players on the DL. No other team is even that close to us in terms of injuries. We still can’t compare ourselves to the ’09 Mets, but this is getting pretty bad.
And while this is nothing to be proud of, it actually makes me feel kind of good. See, while most every other team has 3-6 players injured, we have 11 PLAYERS ON THE DL! And yet, we are in a battle for first place in the AL East, lead the AL Wild Card race, and by most people’s standards, are one of the top 5 teams in baseball. Our ability to keep winning despite these misfortunes is admirable and gives me hope as to what we’ll be able to accomplish when healthy. But really, let’s stop getting injured (please)!

#3 – In my opinion, Dustin Pedroia’s “laser show” is the best baseball quote of the year so far.

Unfortunately, he’s currently injured, but this season has just reinforced my love of Dustin Pedroia. He performs in games, entertains off the field, and overall seems like a pretty good guy. This is all why I was so entertained by this quote from him earlier in the season, in response to a question about David Ortiz’s early season struggles.

I gotta say, I freaking love this guy. One of my favorite moments of our year so far for sure, and a fun moment that really shows for me why I love the Red Sox. 
“Laser show. Relax.”
(I have to give credit to the website barstoolsports.com for finding this great quote. It’s a pretty funny website most of the time, check it out if you want to, just be prepared for some pretty over the top and controversial material)
#4 – Big Papi has got to be the best 2nd month player in baseball.

In the past few years, David Ortiz has consistently had a lot of trouble in the first month of the season (which the question Pedroia was answering above is based on). However, in the past 2 years especially, he has managed to turn his game around so dramatically in the second month, that it has to get your attention. Now, I’m not a huge stats guy, but I’ve got to put some out here just to show you how crazy a turnaround Papi made this year and last in the second month of the season. 
2010
April
Batting Average- .143
Homeruns- 1
RBIs- 4
Slugging Pctg.- .286
On-base Pctg.- .238
May
Batting Average- .363
Homeruns- 10
RBIs- 27
Slugging Pctg.- .788
On-base Pctg.- .424
That is absolutely ridiculous! However, in June he bounced back to a .238 average and slightly lower stats for those other categories. So, he’s basically a second month superstar, and after that an average ballplayer. And in 2009, the same thing happened towards the end of May and into June. You can check out the stats here if you like. 
I can’t really think of anyone else who is that good in May as opposed to April, except for maybe CC Sabathia in past years. If you know of anyone, I’d be interested in seeing who, so post a comment about it. But for now, move aside Mr. October, we’ve got a Mr. May.
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#5 – The 6 Red Sox All-Stars are probably my favorite 6 Sox players, and they really deserve this recognition.

I am very happy for Clay Buccholz, Victor Martinez, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Big Papi, and first year Red Sox player Adrian Beltre. These guys are fantastic, as well as Kevin Youkilis, who is on the Final Vote ballot. He also deserves an All-Star spot, and I encourage everyone to vote for him at mlb.com, I know I will.
Tomorrow, I’ll probably write about the All-Star teams, as this is a very popular topic right now. There is both outrage and joy about these teams, so it is a very interesting thing to write about. In the meantime, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

19 Hours to Takeoff

The last couple weeks have been very busy for me, all with the Olympics, school, sports, and life in general. I know this happens a lot, and I always end up apologizing for stopping every few weeks. Life is busy, and mine is very busy right now, but I have to face the facts that I don’t have a lot of time on my hands and that I should use whatever free time I do have to do the things that matter most to me, one of which is blogging.

MLBlogs is always one of my top priorities, but I sometimes just don’t get around to it. During baseball season, there is more to write about, so everyone posts more, but during the winter months things have been straight up dull. The few huge trades of the offseason came early on, and most of January up until now have drifted along at a sluggish pace, with nothing much going on. However, we have now nearly reached Spring Training, and then the season.

 

As the countdown clock on the MLB.com homepage alerted me this afternoon, we are roughly 19 hours away from the entrance of pitchers and catchers to all Spring Training camps (some are already there). On the eve of this glorious day, as I really have nothing negative to reflect on involving the offseason, I must say that things are good in the baseball world.

The Red Sox are looking like an above-average team at this time. All baseball fans know that the sport we love is at times extremely unpredictable, so there’s really no telling what will happen to the Sox this year. Who knows what I’ll be saying in the middle of August. Last year, we consistently “had the Yankees’ number” in the beginning of the year, but spring turned to summer, and then… well, you know what happened then. Last year, a certain team from Boston was also expected to have a fabulous pitching staff. This dream was soon forgotten, as Dice-K conveniently chose not to disclose the details of an injury suffered during the World Baseball Classic.

After the Matsuzaka’s collapse, the rest of our staff slowly declined. We had a good pitching staff, but not a great one. Additionally, these next couple years will be some of the last in which guys like Josh Beckett will be able to pitch at top form. I hate to admit it, but he’s aging, and no one lasts forever. In the end, surprisingly, it was relief pitching (even our closer, Mr. Papelbon, of all people), that really killed us, both literally (e.g. Game 3, ALDS) and figuratively.

 

If the pitching staff can stay strong throughout the season and hold on for that final push at the end into the playoffs, we will be helped enormously just by that effort. However, there is still a gaping hole that has been occupied by Manny, Ortiz, and Bay, respectively: the power hitter. We need an offensive spark, someone that can clean up the bases and drive in runs. There aren’t many types of offensive players that directly translate into wins like a power hitter does. Several guys could step into that role, but right now no one seems to be ready. I’m still hoping that we might acquire someone that fits this role, but it seems unlikely.

So, aside from the normal griping and doubts about the team, I am pretty happy right now. Because, in 19 hours, we will have takeoff. Away we go!

 

 

A Higher Calling

Yesterday, I was unable to post because of the varsity basketball game I went to to support my school. I hoped in my last entry that my school would dominate the game and that it would go by fast, so that I could get home in time to post. They did win, but it was not as much domination as I had hoped. It was a one-sided game, and my school won by more than 20 points. However, there were more fouls in this game than in any high school basketball game I’ve ever seen. Therefore, I didn’t arrive home until late. It was a fun time though, and I’m glad I went.

Yesterday, there was again no real baseball news, aside from the minor signing of Gary Matthews Jr. and resigning of Shane Victorino. The most interesting news of yesterday involved a young prospect who has been quickly moving up the ranks in the Ogrant desme.jpgakland Athletics’ farm system: Grant Desme. Desme had a phenomenal season in Class A ball, hitting 31 homeruns and stealing 40 bases. He also received the MVP award in the Arizona Fall League, and was awaiting his expected invite to spring training with the A’s. However, unknown to the public or the A’s organization, Desme had been considering a higher calling for some time. Yesterday, he announced that he would be leaving baseball to become a priest. Desme had always been a very religious person, and thanks God for his success in baseball this past year. When he contacted A’s GM Billy Beane, he expected Beane to be shocked and disappointed. Surprisingly, Beane’s reaction was, “great” and he was very understanding of the decision, according to Desme. Desme also said:

“I thought, I’m doing well in baseball, but I really had to get down to the bottom of things — what was good in my life, what I wanted to do with my life. And I felt that while baseball is a good thing and I love playing, I thought it was selfish of me to be doing that when I really felt that God was calling me more, which took me awhile in my life to really trust and open up to it and aim full steam toward Him.”

While I am not a very religious person, I can see the motivation for Desme’s decision. Imagine that you are very religious and have strong faith in God from a young age. You are slowed by injuries many times in your career, and finally you have a breakout season. During the season, you struggle to dismiss feelings of wanting to pursue something more religious, to thank God for this great blessing. This is Desme’s story, and it’s an interesting one. One interesting fact is that Desme viewed the many injuries of his career as a message from God to pursue something “more important” than baseball. He says of this:

“My injuries, I would say, would be the biggest blessing God’s ever given me,” he said. “For my entire life, baseball’s been my life. I define myself as a baseball player, and when it was taken away from me, it was an eye-opener. It was a real shock that it could end. I realized that even if I played in the big leagues, it was still going to end, or it could end anytime you step on the field with an injury. I really started doing some soul searching of who I was and who I wanted to be, and this is where that’s led me.”  

There have been mixed responses about Desme’s decision, including some that I found in the comment section on this article on MLB.com:

-”He should give his signing bonus or a large chunk of it back. That would be the Christian thing to do.”

-”I really need to tip my hat to this young man. I guess I am too selfish in my thinking, but if my beliefs were as strong as his I would play the game for a few years and the money I earned I would donate to the poor. The priesthood will always be there when he is done and age isn’t part of the equation. Baseball on the other hand has such a small window of opportunity.”

-If he wanted to do good things with his life, staying in baseball and being a role model would have been the smartest thing. The priesthood?? Organized religion is more corrupt than baseball. He threw away a change to REALLY make a difference in the world. Nice job.

I don’t have a very strong opinion on this news, but I do think that Desme is admirable for pursuing something that he finds important, and leaving another one of his great passions in order to do this. He has decided to follow his real dream, and that is something we are taught to respect from a young age. I can see why people would be annoyed by this, because he is a young man leaving baseball by choice, a game that so many of us would be overjoyed to be given the chance to play professionally. I do respect Desme’s decision, and I wish him the best in his new life.

Thanks for reading.

Of Duos and Damon

It seems to be time for another “D” themed entry, as two more “D” topics have alerted my attention today. The first of these involves the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners improved a great deal last year, and have had a great offseason so far, acquiring both Chone Figgins and Cliff Lee. Cliff Lee appears to be stronger than ever after a fantastic postseason performance for the Phillies, and the possible combo of him and 2009 AL Cy Young runner-up Felix Hernandez was seen by many people as one of the best (if not the best) duos in baseball. The only thing left for Seattle to do to make this dynamic duo a reality was resign Hernandez, who filed for arbitration this year. Today, they accomplished this, signing Hernandez for $78 million and 5 years.

Despite the large price tag, this is truly a fantastic deal. Locking this ace up for 5 years means that even if something doesn’t work out with Lee in the next few years, Hernandez is still there to anchor the rotation. Most baseball experts agree that good pitching is just about the most important factor in being a successful baseball team. Hitting and defense are instrumental for sure, but an ace pitcher is probably the most valuable type of player on the field (an all-around star like Pujols would be an exception, but players like that are so rare). Therefore, Seattle has done a great job this offseason by strengthening a good pitching staff, with the Hernandez and Lee deals and the resigning of closer David Aardsma. The Angels, who are expected to wage war with the M’s over the AL West crown in ’10, lost their ace John Lackey, and did a little bit to add to their pitching. Certainly, they didn’t do as much as Seattle, and I believe that this will hurt them this season.

Not only is a good pitching staff a must, but a good duo is always something to be reckoned with, and Seattle could have the best in the MLB. Cain and Lincecum are a fantastic duo for the Giants, both having chances at the NL Cy Young last year (with Lincecum taking the award home); Halladay and Hamels should be very strong together for Philly; Beckett and Lackey (with the added bonus of Lester) will hopefully play above expectations and should make the case for being one of the better duos in the league; Sabathia and Burnett is another great one, both playing very well last year and helping the Yankees enormously; and several others are very formidable. Not only can a dynamic duo strike fear into the hearts of opposing lineups, but it can just about guarantee 2 games out of a 3 game series when both pitchers are at their best. Hitting duos are also a great luxury, but I think pitching ones are the most imposing.

Here in Boston, we certainly had trouble with this pair last year.

Seattle’s duo will help them in many ways, and I wish luck to them in 2010. Truly a job well done in the offseason as well!

The second piece of “D” news was that of the retirement rumors surrounding Johnny Damon. Having still not come anywhere near agreement with any MLB teams as far as we know, Damon seems to either have some kind of plan, or absolutely no idea what he’s doing. Honestly, I think it’s the latter. I highly doubt that Damon will really retire (although I’ve been surprised before by this guy, *hint, hint*), but I also think that he is still a long way from agreeing on a deal with anyone as long as he keeps asking for $13 million a year. I’ve never been in a situation like the one that every baseball player faces when they become a free agent: I’ve never had to put a price tag on myself. However, I think that Damon may be asking for too much. He’s still a very good player, but the Yankees need him less than they did last year (even though he would be a great asset). The Yankees are the team that is most interested in him at this point, and they are not yet close to working out a deal with Damon. It appears that he may be forced to lower his demands, or he may find himself without a club come April. I feel bad for any ballplayer that doesn’t have a game to go to each night when Spring rolls around, and I think Johnny will see this coming and may work out a deal with someone. I can’t say I wish him luck, but he’s not such a bad guy. I’ll be interested to see how this whole thing works out.

As for any Red Sox news, there has been a shortage of it in the recent days. I hope for more this weekend. I’ll try to post tomorrow night, but I may be unable due to the varsity basketball game I’ll be attending to support my school. Let’s hope they dominate and I’m able to get home early to blog!

Thanks for reading.

New York, New York

It has been a hectic week for me, to say the least. School is still getting back into swing after winter break, and I’m currently facing the first round of tests in the new term. Luckily, during this chaotic week nothing affecting me at all has happened in baseball. Or maybe un-luckily, as the offseason stretches on and on. Where are the hot stove news, the signings and the blockbuster trades?! Maybe it’s just me, but this has seemed to be a particularly uneventful offseason and it is really starting to hit me. At least pitchers and catchers are just around the corner.

Or maybe at the end of a long hallway. That’s a little more realistic for the way most baseball fans are feeling.

Due to the lack of baseball in my life, I’ve turned my attention to other sports, as well as other things. The NFL playoffs have also been relatively uneventful, with the only surprise so far being the New York Jets’ upset of the San Diego Chargers. Now that a New York team is once again on a quest for playoff domination, Boston fans can only stand and watch, since our Pats were dethroned in the first round by the Ravens. It’s a lot like last October, when we watched the Yankees defeat the Angels as we stood helplessly on the side. Now we’re here again, with no means to stop New York, helplessly on the side yet again.

While we still have basketball on our side, New York has calmly seized control of both the NFL and the MLB. Some may say that the Giants and the Jets still aren’t safely in consideration as the top teams year in and year out, but I would argue that they certainly are powerhouses. The Jets may be returning to their glory of earlier years, with a squad of young stars, and the Giants need work, but can certainly come back strong after a good offseason.

The Yankees are never not  in consideration as one of the top 5 teams in baseball, literally every year. The growing truth is that New York is on its way to surpassing nearly any city as the premiere American sports town, a title that many would agree Boston has held in the last decade. Unfortunately, New York has almost reached that state of total sports domination.  

While we Boston fans can do little to entirely stop NYC, we can certainly surpass them, and as the NFL season is over for us, we must turn our view to the upcoming MLB season. What better stage on which to overtake New York? After all, a little competition never hurt anybody!

We play 15 games vs. the Yankees in 2010, and we will have that many chances to show the world what we can do against them. I would say that a reasonable goal to set would be to win at least 10 of those games. Last year we started off unbelievably strong against the Yanks, but we fell apart when we really needed to beat them. We only added to the Yankees’ fantastic late season run as they pulled the lead in the AL East farther and farther from us. I don’t think we would have beaten them even if we had in fact beaten the Angels; they truly were unstoppable.

The Yankees are still one of the most talented all around teams in baseball. They have improved a great deal over this offseason, but so have we. If we can keep our cool and win the big games against the Yankees, I think the rest will work itself out. I have faith in my Sox.

However, I’m not a Yankee hater by any means. I consider myself a good sport and I try not to be a sore loser. I’ll leave it at “may the best team win.” We will see, New York, we will see.

 

Drank (and Dice-K) Prove Unsuccessful

Earlier today, on the recommendation of a friend, I decided to try out the new “anti-energy” drink, “Drank”.

Drank is a unique drink because, unlike energy drinks, it is designed to help you relax, or “slow your roll,” as the company puts it. While I’m not sure exactly how they pull this off (and I probably don’t want to know), it’s an interesting idea and the beverage has become very popular, despite only one flavor having been released so far. Just like anyone, I’ve been taught and urged not to drink energy drinks, and I know that they are bad for you and result in some of the worst crashes you can get. I am always wary of health issues and I’m proud to say that I had only had one energy drink in my life so far (a green apple “Monster”, which was pretty awful).

However, I have had a very long week and I really felt the need for a little relaxation. After my disappointing effort in the first half of the year (grades-wise), I have stepped up my focus and I’m working harder. So, really, I don’t blame myself for needing to relax a little. The thing is, I probably could have done that without Drank. Anyways, back to my interesting afternoon.

I opened the can and tried my first sip of Drank. I had hoped for it to be good, and it was. The sugary grape taste was delicious, almost making you forget the immense amount of sugar you’re really consuming. I finished it over the course of about 45 minutes, and lay back to take a quick nap, or something along those lines. About 25 minutes after that, I began to feel my eyes drooping and I felt nice and relaxed. Unfortunately that’s really all it amounted to. The rest of this “experience” was one long yawn-fest and then a terrible stomach ache that I still have. My high hopes for Drank had crashed and burned, and I was left with a sour and disappointed feeling.

 
disappointed.jpg Therefore, I would not recommend this so-called “anti-energy” drink to anyone, unless you really need the sleep or something. But why am I writing this on a baseball blog?, you may wonder. Honestly, I didn’t really have much baseball-related stuff to write about, and I wanted to share my Drank adventure with you. But have no fear, for after much thought I have found a lame way to connect Drank and baseball.

I thought about the characteristics of Drank: it is something I had high hopes for, appeared to be good at first, and then failed miserably, along with much pain. Well, to me that sounds a little like Daisuke Matsuzaka’s 2009 season.

As Julia reminded me, I have forgotten to comment on the recent news about Dice-K and what we all thought was an injury developed early in the ’09 season and in the World Baseball Classic that kept Matsuzaka from returning to the form of his ’07 and ’08 seasons. Apparently it has recently been discovered that in fact that the injury happened before the WBC and that Dice-K neglected to clarify this with anyone in the Red Sox organization. Maybe this is one of those moments where you don’t really know what the guy was thinking, but it does annoy me a little that I had thought all along that this injury really couldn’t have been prevented, and in fact Matsuzaka has now said that he may have “stressed it too much.” I love the guy, but that’s pretty bad. I have high hopes once more for Matsuzaka’s 2010 season, in which he will hopefully rebound from ’09 and become one of our aces again.

Before I regret ever posting this ridiculous attempt on my part at connecting bad energy drinks and Daisuke Matsuzaka, I should go ahead and post it. I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to blog during the weekend, but I’ll try to get at least one post done.

Thanks for reading.

Thoughts for Haiti

All of you have heard about the earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12, no doubt. The images and news we have heard or seen on numerous websites and on the news each night are hard to bear. Seeing pictures of the wreckage and chaos the people of Haiti are living in really makes one stop and pause for a moment. When reading my favorite blogs yesterday, I saw that Jane Heller (Confessions of a She-Fan) had written an entry on the earthquake and was taking “a time-out for Haiti.” I thought this was a very admirable thing to do and I decided to write a Haiti-related post today (I hope you don’t mind me copying you, Jane).

This terrible news related to me especially because my younger brother is adopted from Haiti. Although my family is no longer in contact with his birth parents, there is the possibility that his grand-parents or relatives were seriously injured or worse in the earthquake (thankfully, the last we heard from his parents, they were living in Florida). My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and all the Hatian-Americans who don’t know the fate of their relatives, but most especially to the residents of Haiti.

Despite the many troubles Haiti has encountered over the years, the country has produced some excellent athletes that have succeeded in several major sports in the United States. I feel that paying tribute to a few of my favorite Haitian athletes is a fitting sports-related gesture to the country in this difficult time.

Samuel Dalembert

samuel dalembert.jpg

Samuel Dalembert is a Hatian born professional basketball player. He currently plays center for the Philadelphia 76ers, and has put up respectable numbers during each of his 7 years in the NBA. He is most renowned for his excellent shot-blocking skills, averaging about 2 blocks per game. He is one of the top shot blockers in the game today, and is a force to be reckoned with when driving the lane. For the sake of space, I’ll provide you with links to two youtube clips showcasing Dalembert blocking two of the most powerful players in the NBA:

-Dalembert blocks Shaquille O’Neal twice

-Dalembert blocks Yao Ming twice

Dalembert is a player who has always been very well respected by his teammates and other players in the NBA. So far, the news from Haiti has been good for Dalembert, as he found out recently that his father survived the earthquake and is well. He is yet to hear from any other relatives. Best wishes to Dalembert, and good luck to him with the rest of his season.

Pierre Garcon

Pierre Garcon was born in New York, but has many relatives in Haiti. He is currently a wide-receiver for the Indianapolis Colts
pierre-garcon.jpg. Although Garcon served as a backup in his rookie year last season, he had hopes of getting more playing time coming in to the current NFL season. Due to an early season injury to second-string WR Anthony Gonzalez this year, Garcon was given the starting job as the #2 WR in Peyton Manning’s unstoppable passing attack. Garcon proved to be the perfect target for Manning, racking up great stats and helping the Colts earn the #1 AFC seed in the playoffs. The Colts play on Saturday in their first playoff game this year, and Garcon is listed as probable for that game, due to a thumb injury that has sidelined him for the past 2 weeks. Apparently Garcon has also received good news about his relatives so far, and now that my Patriots are out of the picture, I have no problem rooting for this young wide reciever to put on a show come Sunday. I hope you tune in to check him out as well, he is a phenomenal young player.

Reginal Simon

There are currently no Haitian players in the MLB,
Reginal%20Simon_JPG.jpgbut there are several up and coming prospects that hail from Haiti throughout the Minor Leagues. Although I was previously not familiar with any of these prospects (a list can be found here), Simon is described as “the most advanced” of the group by the MLB.com article I linked. He is a pitcher for the Williamsport Crosscutters, a class A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. Simon boasted a 4-4 record this past season, but went 5-0 with a 1.11 ER in the 2007 season. While I do not know of any news surrounding Simon’s relatives and his family, I hope that they are all well and that his career continues to be a succesful one. Maybe we’ll see him someday on the mound at Citizens Bank Park.

It’s too bad that there aren’t more Haitian baseball players, but at least there are a good deal of minor leaguers. The important thing to focus on, however, is the current news from Haiti. I ask you to keep the people of Haiti in your thoughts.

Thanks for reading.

 

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