Archive for the ‘MLB’ Category

“I think you show them that we’re not backing down. We’re not scared of them, them and their $180 million payroll, we don’t care.”

These comments came from Orioles‘ relieving pitcher Kevin Gregg during his post-game interview.

The events leading up to these comments? Well, for starters, let’s look at the reason why Gregg was a part of the game in the first place. The Red Sox put up 8 runs on the Orioles in the first inning, clearly warranting a pitching change and leading to Baltimore’s decision to go “NHL” on Boston.

As hockey fans know, when one team gets a sizable lead on the other and loses control of the momentum, a fight is comin’. Not only will a fight pull attention from the game, giving the losing team a chance to steal back the momentum, it’s also a great way to take some frustration out on the opponent.

Well, with designated hitter David Ortiz at the plate in the bottom of the 8th, Boston up 10-3, Gregg throws 3 straight pitches inside (with the third pitch clearly thrown at Ortiz’ body). Ortiz took exception to that third pitch, approaching the mound, pointing angrily at Gregg and inciting a mild clearing of the benches. Both Ortiz and Gregg received warnings but were allowed to remain in the game.

Then came the fourth pitch.

Ortiz popped the fourth pitch up and Gregg took it upon himself to waive Ortiz down the first base line, upset that Ortiz didn’t sprint to first on a weak pop fly (apparently Kevin has never seen “Big Papi” make a less-than-100% effort in running to first). You can guess what happened then.

Ortiz charged the mound and the two men shoved each other a few times before Gregg threw the first actual punch (which missed). The benches cleared for real this time and Ortiz took a swing right back at Gregg (which also hit air), and both teams shoved and grabbed and yapped.

In the end, four players total were ejected from the game and Boston went on to win 10-3.

The post-game comments were anything but subtle or kind.

Gregg, as referenced earlier, focused his comments on Boston “…think(ing) they’re better than everybody else,” and that the Red Sox’/Ortiz’ reaction to his inside pitching was only his exercising his “…right to play the game here.”

Red Sox starting pitcher Josh Beckett clearly saw things differently, calling Gregg’s actions retaliation for going down 8 runs in the first inning. I think there’s something to that.

You pitch way inside three straight times on a star slugger to compensate for lack of success in the game and then mouth off to him after he pops out, you can’t justify venting your loser frustrations after the game too.

The Orioles may not be scared of the Red Sox or their $180 Mil. payroll, but they sure do care, ‘cuz I’ll bet ya none of the Red Sox know what the Orioles’ payroll is, or care about how the Orioles’ players will spend their time while not playing in the playoffs.

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It’s been somewhat of a roller coaster type season for the Boston Red Sox.

Acquiring outfielder Carl Crawford from division rival Tampa Bay Rays, and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres sky-rocketed the Sox to the top of many baseball analysts’ favorite lists for winning the 2011 Word Series.

With all of Major League Baseball closely watching, Boston got off to a 2-10 start, matching the worst start in franchise history.

Eventually, their bats and pitching both came together and the Red Sox capped off April by going 9-5.

Their success continued into May and June, as the Sox hopped back over the .500 mark, claimed the lead in the AL East Division, and most importantly, stayed healthy through it all.

Of course, nothing comes easy in the AL East Division and the Sox find themselves, currently, in a very familiar spot, jockeying for position with their heated rival New York Yankees.

The end of June is a tad early to pick a winning horse in the World Series due to unknown variables (injuries, trades, a division rival catching fire, etc.), but a strong case can be made for the Red Sox taking it all the way this season.

We can throw the obvious out there right away. The Red Sox are absolutely stacked when it comes to batting. Currently, the Sox are first in the Majors in runs scored, batting average and on-base percentage.

As far as pitching goes, they rank fifth in the Majors in opponents’ batting average. Boston does struggle, however, in ERA, ranking 17th overall at 3.97. John Lackey has a lot to do with that number, as his ERA sits at 7.36. Unfortunately, he’s also the second highest paid pitcher on the staff.

The biggest roadblocks on Boston’s path to a title in the American League, I would say, are the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays. The bad news is that both these teams are division rivals and, therefore, the Sox will have to play them more times than the inter-divisional teams. The good news is that should Boston make the playoffs, only one or neither of those two will join them.

The most challenging competition as a whole, in the Majors, is in the National League. With the Phillies’ and Giants’ pitching staffs, any AL champ would have their hands full trying to put runs up.

If any team can put runs on the board, though, it’s the Boston Red Sox. What once was an unwavering curse, is turning into a victory in the World Series every 3-4 years.

Boiling point. Everyone’s got one. They’re all unique and maybe some people require more heat to reach theirs, but everyone snaps once their tolerance level is maxed out.

When you’re talking about a group of people reaching a boiling point collectively, my friends, you’ve got yourself a recipe for revolution.

Professional athletes all around every league, it seems, are reaching boiling points and acting contrary to tradition.

Basketball players are manipulating NBA league policies in order to get paid more money, play for a big city team with other superstars, and even forcing coaching changes.

Baseball players are using outlandish and unreasonable contract deals as precedents for minimum salary, high-balling owners into over-paying stars.

Football players are demanding more pay and fewer games, forcing owners into closing the doors on the players, fans, and of course, money.

It seems that the last 4 years or so, more than ever before, players are realizing the power they have to impact not just on but off the field, court, etc. Teams stacking themselves started long before LeBron‘s “decision”. Demanding higher pay is nothing new, seeing as Babe Ruth made only $20,000 (about $220,000 today) after the 1919 season. That was double the amount he was making the year before. How did he get the big increase? Ruth demanded it.

Just recently, 6-7 players for the Detroit Pistons “boycotted” the shoot-around before the game that night at Philadelphia. Pistons Head Coach John Kuester benched the players involved and was left with only 6 players, one of which, PG Will Bynum, played all 48 minutes. The result will likely be Kuester losing his job for lack of control.

Is it right? Of course not, but this is what happens when you have leverage, and the players are realizing that leverage.

It seems the NFL owners have reached their boiling point. How long until the other leagues’ owners reach theirs? How long until there’s war?

There is a paradox of sorts in athletics. Without the athlete, there is no product for the owners to sell, without the owners, there is no money to be made by athlete. Both need each other to survive and both hold equal leverage over the other when it comes to compensation.

The athlete, if talented enough can play the “if you won’t pay me, someone will” card, while the owner can play the “if you won’t play for the amount we can offer, someone else will.”

The NFL, NBA and MLB are in the midst of financial controversies with overpaid players and collective bargaining agreements.

The NFL is on the brink of a lockout by the owners due to rifts between the owners and the players’ union concerning the distribution of revenue between the players and management. The players believe they are entitled to a larger share of team profits, while the owners are not willing to relinquish the amount of money the players are asking for.

As far as the terms of the agreement, amounts of money allotted to each side, etc., we the fans could not care less. In fact, many fans are sickened by the talks of lockouts and holdouts, and all other “‘outs” because both players and owners are already making more money than we, the fans, could dream of. All we want is a resolution.

The NFL owners and players union have yet to come to an agreement, even though there is a deadline set for March 4th. If there is no deal by March 4th, there will be no off-season football. This means no draft, no trades, no camps or workouts.

I am of the opinion that the NFL players association (NFLPA) will continue negotiations with the owners beyond March 4th if no deal is reached, but it could be crippling to the NFL’s popularity.

The NBA also faces labor disputes in the near future, but having been through a lockout in 2000 that was very destructive for the league, I doubt they’ll fail to reach an agreement in a timely fashion.

MLB is in a situation now where players are getting bigger and bigger contracts each year where soon the bubble is going to burst. Albert Pujols, of the St. Louis Cardinals, arguably the most dominant baseball player (all around) right now, is in the last year of his contract and wanting to become the highest paid player in the league. This would mean a contract of about 10 years at around $30 million per year. Trouble is, Pujols turned 31 years old this past January. A 10 year contract would have the Cardinals paying him through age 41. Most importantly, baseball contracts are guaranteed money.

Albert Pujols watches his home run against San...

Image via Wikipedia

Not to say that Albert couldn’t play until age 41, but will he be worth $30M per year in 10 years? In 8? Even 5? Possibly, but not likely.

Again, the issue facing the Cardinals is that if they don’t pay him this money, someone will. Eventually, there will come a time when a great player will have to be the first to take a cut. Just like the housing market, there comes a time when the price tag can’t get any higher and it’ll come crashing back down.

Because we love sports, we will pay to watch and pay to support. Because we pay to support, there will be a market and money to be made. And because people stand to make money, there will be conflict that we, the fan must endure. Sad that in all reality, we are just asking the owners and players to continue to let us pay their checks that they are arguing over.

In a world of perfect justice, all fans would boycott the professional teams in order to show the real pecking order, but again, our love for sports will rule over ethics in most cases.

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What a year 2010 turned out to be in sports. From the Alabama Crimson Tide winning the national championship to the Giants winning the World Series.

2010 saw Tiger Woods’ first full calendar year without notching a single victory, neither in majors nor non-major events.

2010 was host to both the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the World Cup in South Africa. Surprisingly, South Africa seemed to handle the role better with seemingly less to work with. Really, the only negative throughout the World Cup were those Vuvuzelas (they haunt my dreams).

2010 was the year of the media. Endless talk of where LeBron James would play the ’10-’11 season and beyond hijacked every sports radio station, column, channel, etc. until finally, it built up to “the Decision”, a poorly thought out plan by the LeBron James group to publicly announce his contract plans live on ESPN.

“The Decision” badly backfired when James chose against returning to Cleveland, where he was drafted 6 years ago, and left to play in Miami with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. The backlash was instant in Cleveland and soon even the media, which profited greatly from “the Decision” threw James under the bus, calling his actions classless, selfish, and pretty much all the things the audience was wanting to hear.

Nearing the end of the year, and with the season under way, many of the media are forgiving of James and are more focussed on his play on the court.

2010 was a shaky shaky year for college football. It started with expansion rumors out of the Big East and the Big 10. The Big 10 fired first, inviting Big 12 member Nebraska into their ranks. Nebraska accepted the invite. The PAC-10, not to be outdone, fired next. They invited Colorado, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M. Colorado was the only school to accept. They later invited the University of Utah, who gladly accepted.

BYU, being passed over and no longer sharing a conference tie with rival Utah, left for far greener pastures as an Independent in Division 1A football, and far browner pastures in everything else, joining the West Coast Conference in all other sports.

TCU left for the Big East, and the top half of the WAC in football shifted over to the Mountain West Conference, to fill the holes left by the power trio that had, for nearly a decade, ruled the top of the conference.

Cam Newton burst onto the scene, dominating all in his way to winning the Heisman trophy and leading the Auburn Tigers into the national championship game. Looming over his accomplishments, however, were allegations that he was involved in a pay for play scheme with his father and an agent. Cam was ruled eligible for lack of evidence that he knew anything about the scheme. Let’s hope 5 years from now that we don’t have another Reggie Bush situation.

2010 was the year of the pitcher in the MLB. Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, Cliff Lee, and numerous others were in the spotlight this season. The Giants’ pitching staff received praise all season and they showed why. Solid pitching and late season play from Rookie Buster Posey led the Giants into the playoffs and hot bats at perfect times in the World Series sealed the deal for them.

The Lakers won their 2nd straight title, beating the Celtics and avenging their 2008 defeat in the finals to that nearly identical Celtics team.

Jimmie Johnson won his 5th straight Sprint Chase for the Cup title in a row (first ever to do so).

The UConn women’s basketball team broke the once thought impossible win streak record of 88 wins, set by the UCLA men’s basketball team under coach John Wooden. The lady Huskies’ record ended at 90 games.

All in all, a very crazy year. Can’t wait to see what 2011 brings.

“That’s a grand slam!!! Kalish will touch em all! … He got a 3-1 pitch and just murdered it!” – (name unknown) red sox radio announcer
When I heard this on “ESPN late night radio” I got so excited for my Sox.
This Kalish kid was called up due to numerous injuries to the Red Sox starters including Jacoby Ellisbury, Dustin Pedroia, etc. and he has been makin plays!!! Cartwheel diving catches, great hitting and base running, and now grand slams against good division rivals Tampa Bay Rays.
If we can stay healthy next season, we will be a contender!

Written by Dan Condie

Alex Rodriguez Hits 600th HR

Lets face it, apart from avid Yankees/Rodriguez fans, no one is excited for A-Rod’s 600th HR.

Rodriguez had been sitting on 599 HR’s for upwards of 50 at bats. It seemed like people were more excited each time they got the news that he had gone “HR-less” that outing than when he eventually did hit big 600 and we all know why.

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