Friday, July 31, 2009

I'll See You In Cooperstown!!!!


All this talk about steroids and the Hall of Fame has gotten me thinking. Shouldn't we reserve spots in Cooperstown for true American legends? And is there any more of an American legend than the great Gary Gaetti? I gasped in fear yesterday when I mistakenly read "Gatti death ruled suicide" as "Gaetti death ruled suicide" on ESPN.com. A colleague of mine reassured me "Gaetti has wat too much to live for. Like Cooperstown." In an era where cheaters are running rampant, I would like to endorse the candidacy of Gary Gaetti for the Hall of Fame effective immediately.

As if my endorsement for Gary Gaetti isn't enough, lets take a look at his credentials. They should prove more than satisfactory for any doubters out there. First of all, Gaetti was a straight up SLUGGER. He hit a home run in his first at bat in the majors, and is the career leader in home runs by players who hit one in their first at bat with 360 total. We can only assume that he could have hit more, but chose to stop on a nice round number. This nifty stat alone is enough to get Gaetti into the Hall in my mind, but I will go on.

Gaetti hit home runs in his first two post season at bats. This feat had only been accomplished by Gaetti until last year when Evan Longoria went on his post-season tear. A recent Sports Illustrated poll showed that 35% of MLB players voted Evan Longoria most likely to make the Hall of Fame out of baseball's young guns. Ipso facto, Gary Gaetti should be in the Hall of Fame.

If that is not enough for you, what about Gaetti's 2 all star selections, 4 gold gloves, 1987 World Series ring, 1995 Silver Slugger Award and 1987 ALCS MVP award? That do anything for ya? What about the fact that he is rumored to have hit a 505 foot home run while playing for Northwest Missouri State? Yeah you're starting to tingle down there.

Not only was Gaetti a force offensively (did I mention that a source told me he holds the record for the most doubles in the second week of August?), he also threw gas. In three appearances as a pitcher, he compiled a dental floss thin 7.71 ERA with 1 strikeout. Filthy. He was also involved in two triple plays in one inning. That is probably how he earned the nickname "The Rat". Probably.

Stats aside, Gaetti already has Hall of Fame experience. He has been inducted into the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame and the Northwest Missouri State Hall of Fame. If he were submitting a resume to the Hall of Fame for the open position of 3rd baseman, he would be head and shoulders above the other candidates right now. He wouldn't even need a cover letter, or resume paper.

In this age of doubt and uncertainty raised by steroid use, Gary Gaetti is a man you can count on. You can take his .255 average and 1,341 RBIs to the bank. They are good as gold. Let us spread the good word of Gary Gaetti in hopes that one day we can look at him and say "I'll see you in Cooperstown!!!".

You No Big Paaaaaaapi!!!!!!!!

Is anybody really surprised? Yesterday, when it was released that David Ortiz used performance enhancing drugs in 2003, the news sort of rolled off my back. With Manny's positive test this season and Ortiz's huge drop in production over the last few years, there was already a cloud of suspicion in my mind that perhaps the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox World Series titles were "tainted". But what does tainted really mean? My guess is that every team from 1990 on probably had at least one juicer in their clubhouse. So is any team really "untainted"? These players have lost my respect, but I'm sure there were just as many of them on every team. Moreover, there are only a few players in the entire game who I would really be hurt to see on this phantom list from 2003.

David Arias? This is bigger news to me than Big Papi being on steroids. As I was being rebuffed by scalpers outside Fenway yesterday for refusing to pay more than $40 for standing room only tickets, I was asked to be interviewed by some dude claiming he worked for NPR. Naturally, I jumped at the chance. He asked me how I felt about the Big Papi scandal, and I told him that I wasn't surprised and it doesn't really change anything for me. If you think that there was a player putting up prolific numbers on your team during the 90s and early 2000s that wasn't juicing then you are in denial. This is the era that we have grown up in.

In terms of this steroid list from 2003, it either needs to be destroyed or released in full. This media frenzy over names being released is sickening. I feel like this list is being exploited so that people can make money off of it, when it was merely supposed to be an anonymous survey. As soon as the Big Poopi controversy dies down, I'm sure another name will magically appear in some big paper and stir up another frenzy. Despicable.

There are only a few players that, if they were named in this 2003 report, would make me really lose faith in baseball. The biggest of those being Ken Griffey Jr. Ken Griffey Jr. has always been baseball's hero for this era in my book. There is no doubt in my mind that his 600+ home runs are clean. If he were named in 2003 though, I think I might have to give up on baseball altogether.

Cal Ripken and Derek Jeter are two others. Though I'm not wild about either of them personally, they stand for so much in baseball. When you think of effort, fair play, and class, these guys usually come to mind. Were it ever to come out that one of them were juicing (obviously Ripken wasn't playing in 2003, but still) the game would be dealt a huge blow.

Last but not least, if Ryan Howard was singled out in those whole steroid witch hunt, I would be very upset. To me he represents a new generation of sluggers coming out of the steroid era. Albert Pujols would also be on this list. Looking at these guys, sometimes I really have no idea whether they are juicing or not. Needless to say though, if they were it would be terrible for baseball. We would have made no progress since 2003.

I believe that baseball fans are slowly becoming numb to steroid allegations. We are ready to move on and there are only a few names that would really surprise and shock us to find that they were using. Other than those names, nobody really cares any more. You can only be outraged so many times before it becomes old hat. I am becoming more outraged with the handling of this magical list from 2003 than anything else. This thing either needs to be destroyed or released in full. The way that it is being manipulated now is very disgusting in my opinion. Fire Bud Selig.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Where Will Ron Mexico Go?


It appears that Ron Mexico is on his way back to the NFL after his long and strange journey through the Virginia State correctional system. Having spent over a year in jail, and over two years out of pro football it is natural to wonder how Michael Vick will fare whenever he decides to return. It seems crazy to think that no team would want to take a chance on someone with so much talent though. The Vikings had been goosing up Brett Favre for the last 3 months to try to get him to come back. Michael Vick should be able to instill that curiosity into some teams, right? Here are some possible options I see for Ron Mexico's return to football.


Minnesota- The Vikings are clearly not happy with the QBs they have in camp, otherwise they would not have tried so hard to get a 39 year old jort wearer to sign with them. Moreover, I think that the Minnesota brass hoped that Tarvaris Jackson would turn into a Michael Vick type player with some seasoning. Why buy the cow when you can get the herpes for free?

Miami- How wild would the wildcat be if Michael Vick were added to the fold? Imagine an offense with Pat White, Ronnie Brown, Tedd Ginn, Ricky Williams, Michael Vick and the cunning and elusive Chad Pennington all lined up together. I wouldn't know whether to poop or go blind as a defender. PETA was all over the Dolphins for their treatment of Snowflake though, so adding Michael Vick might not go over so well.

Cleveland- Just imagine how crazy the "Dawg Pound" would go for Vick!

San Francisco- Alex Smith has not panned out for the Niners so far, and I don't think Shaun Hill is the answer. Sometimes you can just tell by a guy's name if he is going to be a good player or not. Shaun Hill would fall into the same category that I put Wes Helms in about 10 years ago; loser. Vick could make this team very dynamic, and if he got out of line Mike Singletary could either drop his pants, or send Vick to "time out" in any number of S.F. gay bars.

New England- Bill Billabill has been known to take problem athletes and bring them on board to his program with great success. We haven't heard a peep out of Randy Moss since he was traded to New England. Moreover, I'm sure Bill Billabill wouldn't bat an eye at Vick's past problems because of the talent he has. Nor would anyone in New England question the decision of the great Bill Billabill.

UFL- As previously mentioned on ESPN.com, going to the UFL for the duration of his NFL suspension could benefit Vick greatly. He could make some dough, NFL teams could guage the fan reaction to his signing, and Vick could get his feet back under him as a player. I would probably go pay to see Michael Vick play in the UFL if he were playing for the Hartford (insert name here). The UFL is also considering a team in Monterey, Mexico. Imagine the marketing opportunities for Ron Mexico there.

The next few months will definitely be interesting for Michael Vick and all of football. We will find out just which teams are desperate enough to take a chance on Michael Vick. Such a big risk could carry with it a huge reward. Or herpes.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Every Rose Has Its Thorn


MLB Commissioner and resident moron Bud Selig sent shock waves through the media yesterday when it was announced that he was considering lifting Pete Rose's lifetime ban from baseball for betting on the Reds when he was player/coach in the late 80's. I for one have always been a big fan of Pete Rose (especially the Pete Rose haircut) and think that he deserves a place in Cooperstown. He must first come completely clean though. If he does that, his past does not merit him being banned from baseball for life.

To this day, I still think of Pete Rose as the hardest working athlete of all-time. Rose took nothing for granted. This is how he acquired the nickname Charlie Hustle. His head first slides and all out effort were indicative of how much he loved to play baseball, and how seriously he took it. Despite his tarnished legacy, I still consider Pete Rose the perfect role model for how the game should be played.

Gambling on the game of baseball is clearly a terrible offense. Especially if Rose bet against his own team. But I personally think that Pete Rose was addicted to gambling. It took over his life, similar to those down and out souls who you see spending all of their money on scratch tickets or pumping quarter after quarter into a slot machine. An addiction is the only way that I can imagine that Pete Rose would desecrate the game that he clearly cared for so much.

That being said, there are many people who have struggled with addictions in the Hall of Fame. Mickey Mantle was a fall down drunk, and also smoked cigarettes until the day he died. Orlando Cepeda was a drug smuggler and was addicted to marijuana. Ty Cobb was an enormous racist and was probably addicted to drugs that don't even exist anymore. Finally, and this is purely speculation, but who's to say that there is not an athlete in the Hall of Fame already that used steroids in the early days but didn't get caught? Is Rose's crime any worse than these? Maybe. But I would argue that these people disrespected the game of baseball just as much. So where is the line drawn?

I think that the one thing keeping Pete Rose out of the Hall of Fame is his refusal to admit exactly what he did. We heard first that he didn't bet on baseball at all. Then that he did bet on baseball, but not the Reds. Then that he did bet FOR the Reds, but never against them. Pete needs to come completely clean, tell us everything, and then convey his remorse for his actions. If he can do that, I see no reason why the all-time leader in hits, games played, at bats, and inventor of the Pete Rose haircut should be banned from the Hall of Fame.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I'mmmmmm Back!!


Puke and rally!! My apologies to Patrick Lyons for not posting as much as he would like, but on Friday I was driving down to New Jersey and it would have been unsafe for me to type my post on my phone while driving. Despite today's picture, my article will be discussing the career of most recent Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson. To sum it up in as few words as possible; that dude was crazy.

There will always be two things that I remember about Rickey Henderson: he was born on Christmas, and he threw lefted but batted righty (just like Will Hayes in his prime). However, there was so much more to Rickey Henderson. Lets start with his amazing career.

Rickey Henderson was the best leadoff hitter of all time. He had a small strike zone that led him to walk more than any other player in baseball. He had some pop, hitting 297 career long dongs, 81 of which led off the game. And obviously, once he got on base it was over. Rickey had over 1,400 career stolen bases (including a record 130 in one season) and scored 2,295 runs, both major league records. It seems with this talent, Rickey would have been irreplacable to teams. Surprisingly though, Rickey moved around a lot in his career. My guess, because he is crazy.

Imagine being on a team with a player who took swings in front of the mirror naked yelling "Rickey's the best!". Talking about himself this way was not uncommon though, as Rickey often referred to himself in the third person. He once called up the previous year's stolen base champ Harold Reynolds and said "60 stolen bases? Rickey will have that by the all-star break!".

If that wasn't enough, he also talked to himself and his bat while he was at the plate. He also is reported to have invented the exploding fist pound, created "Rickey Time", often caught the ball with a swiping motion, and forgot that John Olerud was his teammate (he told Olerud that he used to have a teammate that wore a batting helmet in the field in New York. It was in fact Olerud). It was because of this craziness that Rickey bounced from team to team.

Rickey played for 9 teams in his career, including 4 stints with Oakland and two with San Diego. He won two World Series, was a 10 time All Star, 12 time League stolen base champ and MVP in 1990. Despite all of these accolades, I think Rickey will mostly be remembered for his insane personality. If my post wasn't enough for you, take a look at these gems.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Favre is the New Manny


Brett Favre: American hero or super villain? Americans have always idolized Brett Favre for his rocket arm, his youthful charisma, his "gunslinger" (really hate that term) mentality and the way he wore a pair of Wrangler jeans. However, I would more readily describe Favre these days as a primadonna on the level of a Manny Ramirez. He toys with franchises, he does not participate in offseason drills, and alienates teammates. Next thing you know, Favre is gonna test positive for steroids.

Brett Favre is considered to be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time; and due to his down home, aww shucks persona, he has always been admired by the press as a humble and self made man. Recently though, I have found myself becoming more and more bitter towards old Brett.

In his offseason fiascos with Green Bay and now Minnesota, Favre has been leaving each team hopelessly in limbo for the entire summer. He has no idea the effect that this causes. Last year, Aaron Rodgers was in line to be the next Packers starting qb, but his plans nearly went awry when Favre started on the comeback trail. This year, Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels are slated to compete for the starting job in Minnesota. How do you think they, and their friends on the team will feel if Favre just jumps into the driver's seat at the last second? To quote Chris Farley in this video; "ANGRY."

Favre's suitors fail to realize the problems that his late arrival will cause in the locker room each year. Look at how the Jets basically had a mutiny last year to see how adding a quarterback in the late summer effects team chemistry.

Finally, why would any team want Brett Favre when he has publicly admitted that he doesn't want to participate in training camp and offseason drills? How is he going to gain anyone's trust or confidence that way? His laziness, coupled with his "gunslinger" aka "Im going to throw the ball into double and triple coverage" mentality will not bold well for any team.

One player has the power to destroy a football team. I need go no further than to highlight the career of Terrell Owens to prove this point. In my opinion, if Brett Favre signs with the Vikings, the team will take a huge step back this year. Let the buyer beware when it comes to Brett Favre.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

An Homage to Entrance Music


One thing that has always fascinated me in baseball is each player's entrance/ walk up music. If I were a baseball player, I would spend endless amounts of time tinkering with this. What is the perfect song? The song would need to describe who I am, but also get me amped up to bat or pitch. After much deliberation with some of my colleagues, I have decided that my entrance song would definitely be the chorus to Steve Winwood's "The Finer Things". Imagine that rocking out of the stadium speakers in the bottom of the 9th. It would be the second coming of "Wild Thing". Here are some other songs that have interested me over the years.

Dustin Pedroia: Pedroia's walk up music is "What's My Name?" by Snoop Doggy Dog. While this is clever, because his name is announced shortly thereafter, I for one hate it. Pedroia doesn't seem like a rap guy. He should be walking up to something like "Raised on the Radio" by The Ravyns, which of course is the song Judge Reinhold is listening to when he is washing his car in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High".

Manny Ramirez: Manny once walked up to this song, hit a grounder to second and didn't run it out. What a bozo

Closers: Too many closers trot out to Hells Bells or Enter Sandman, These of course were instituted by Trevor Hoffman and Mo Rivera and should be reserved for them. I'd like to see someone walk out of the bullpen with this song blaring from PA. Or if there is a shaky closer such as a Kerry Wood coming in, the people in the PA booth should reserve the right to put this song on.

Shane Victorino: A few years ago, I heard Shane Victorino come to bat to this song at Shea Stadium. Absolutely inspired.

Clete Thomas
: You may not have heard of Clete Thomas. Nor had I before I heard his walk up music a few weeks ago. He must be from the South, because he came up to an amazing set of Dierks Bentley, Alabama, and Montgomery Gentry during his three at bats. Bravo young man.

That's about all I got. Now it's time for you guys to give it some thought. What would you're walk up/entrance song be?

Monday, July 20, 2009

British Open Recap

What a heartbreaking weekend we witnessed at Turnberry this weekend. Tom Watson was on the verge of becoming the oldest golfer to win a major championship ever, only to have the rug pulled out from under him. It is unfortunate for Stewart Cink, who is a really nice guy and usually a fan favorite, that he had to beat Watson this weekend. Normally people would be much happier for him, but Watson was the obvious fan and sentimental favorite. In all though, Cink deserved to win and it couldn't have been more apparent than how each player fared on the 18th hole.

A golf tournament is a 72 hole affair. This fact worked to Tom Watson's advantage in 1977 when he birdied the 18th hole at Turnberry to defeat Jack Nicklaus in the "Duel in the Sun" to capture the British Open. Unfortunately, Turnberry was not so kind to Mr. Watson this Sunday. After hitting a perfect tee shot, he scalded his approach over the green and 3 putted his way into a playoff. As he calmly strided down 18, I'm sure he was thinking that he was about to make history. Unfortunately, this was not the case and he lost it.

On the other hand, Stewie Cink was coming off of the 17th hole upset at himself for missing a few birdie putts on holes prior. He probably thought that either Lee Westwood or Tom Watson were going to be hoisting the Claret Jug at day's end. He kept kept battling though, and managed to make a miraculous birdie on 18 that put him at -2 and made him the clubhouse leader. He then picked his ball out of the cup and gave it a 5 second frencher.

The 18th hole for each of these players said it all. Watson was riding the high of a seemingly surreal weekend and lost his focus, while Cink just kept grinding away though the odds were against him.

It would have been great to see Watson bring home the Claret Jug one more time, but I am happy for Cink also. Besides, this is Cink's first major while Watson has won the British Open 5 times before. There is no need to feel sorry for him.

What we can take from Watson's performance though is how great the British Open is. The course really levels the playing field. Every year it seems like there are a handful of well old dudes in the hunt. Meanwhile there are guys like Tiger Woods that fail to make the cut. Open courses really are the true test of a golfer in my mind.

Moreover, we can also see how difficult it is for an older player to win a major. Jack Nicklaus' Masters win in 1986 at age 46 still stands out in my mind as one of the most amazing wins of all time. We have seen several players come close (Watson at the British, Norman at the British, Perry at the Masters), but ultimately fall short at the finish line. Jack managed to make it all the way through for an improbable Masters win, and that is truly amazing.

Although I was pulling for Tom Watson all week, I really am happy for Stewart Cink and I am glad that we had such an entertaining weekend of golf. See, golf is still entertaining even if Tiger Woods is not playing!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Stupid Californians


Only enough time for a short rant today because I have to go hang out with Dill. Today's topic: California baseball fans. Are they the dumbest fans in the country? This writer says yes.

California baseball fans, specifically Giants and Dodgers fans make me sick. In the past few years we have seen them cheer wildly for two of the biggest crooks in baseball. When Barry Bonds was all but caught with a needle in his ass a few years ago, Giants fans for some reason had his back and supported him. They cheered his name even louder when he came to bat afterwards and tried to turn Bonds' guilt into some sort of a hate crime.

In La La Land yesterday, Manny Ramirez returned home to cheering, applause and a packed Mannywood section. You would think that this guy just came back from Iraq or something, but in fact he was returning from a 50 game suspension for cheating the game of baseball. What the hell is wrong with these fans?

In New York, A Rod is nowhere near the star he was. I actually think fans are rather sick of him at this point. So why are these juicers in California becoming even more beloved after they cheat? They must be high from the smog or something. Arnold, forget about the energy crisis and kick these stupid fans asses.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

British Open Preview


The Turnberry Ailsa course in Scotland has not hosted a British Open since 1994 when Nicky Price brought home the Claret Jug. This year will only be the fourth Open Championship ever at Turnberry. Therefore, it is very difficult to judge who might win since very few golfers have played a British Open here. Nonetheless, we here at TPLIYP will do our very best to give you an accurate assessment of what lies ahead for this weekend.

Turnberry Ailsa is a classic Open style course. It is a bit shorter than Bethpage and Augusta, but the fairways are MUCH narrower. Moreover, the course is peppered with pot bunkers and the wind and the weather also play a huge factor. Accuracy is the key on this course. Golfers will have to stay in the fairway if they want to score well.

Tiger Woods' strategy is to use his long irons and 3 wood in order to stay in the fairway. He will most likely keep the driver in the bag. This information, plus the fact that he is Tiger Woods has already made him the prohibitive favorite to win. Though I think Tiger will definitely be in the hunt, we thought that he would walk away with the U.S. Open and Masters championships and were disappointed. However, if he can putt better than he did at Bethpage, he could run away with it. Here are some others who I think will definitely give Tiger a run for his money at Turnberry this weekend.

Ian Poulter- If you haven't already figured it out, I am a fan of Ian Poulter. He's a pretty focused golfer and is in the top ten in Europe in both driving accuracy and scoring average. He also seems like the kind of guy that has the stones to win a major championship. With all the limeys pulling for him, this could be his week.

Sergio Garcia
- My lasting memory of Sergio in the British Open is watching him slam his iron into a pot bunker a few years ago, much to the disgust of the respectful crowd. Most golf writers predicted him to win at least one major before he is thirty, so at age 29 he has been a popular pick this week. I disagree with them though. This bitch has been a choke artist for years and always blames his failures on something other than himself. I see him finding yet another scapegoat again this week.

Rory McIlroy- The young Irishmen has been playing very well in Europe and is due to make a statement. However, I'm just not convinced that he is consistent enough to play 4 flawless rounds of golf under such pressure. He should have plenty of fan support this weekend though, and will probably never have to buy a Guinness again.

Kenny Perry- This course seems like it would benefit some of the older guys like Kenny. Distance is not as crucial as accuracy and Kenny has a pretty sweet draw that he likes to rock. We'll see if he can handle the pressure though after his collapse at the Masters.

Camillo Villegas
- Beginning to sense a Eurotrash theme? Villegas always seems to be in the hunt and posted a round of 65 at Birkdale last year. Safe to say that he can handle to British Open conditions.

Lee Westwood- Another limey who always seems to be on the first or second page of the leaderboard. He has two top tens in the British Open in his career and could certainly get the crowd going in his favor.

Greg Norman- Norman has proven he can still hang in the British Open by going into the final round with the lead last year. He has also won the British at Turnberry before in 1986. I'd love to see him win it, but it would be crushing to see a repeat of 2008.

David Duval
- Duval has got me believing that anything is possible following his remarkable 2nd place finish at Bethpage. Double D is also a previous winner of the Open and came out of nowhere last year to finish 39th at Birkdale. An amazing feat considering that he didn't even play in any of the other majors. Dave is certainly an underdog, but plenty of people will be pulling for him.

I hope everyone watches the Open Championship over the next four days. As Americans, it is a special experience to wake up early and watch to golfers dueling it out on the other side of the pond. Afterwards, it is almost impossible not to want to tee it up in the afternoon. Hopefully this year Turnberry will provide us another "Duel in the Sun" like it did in 1977.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

All Star Game Preview


Before I get to my All Star game preview, let me share a few of my observations from the Home Run Derby last night. First things first, what the hell was that contest before the derby? That was the stupidest and most awkward 5 minutes of tv I have ever seen. Secondly, let me reiterate how much I hate Chris Berman, Joe Morgan and Steve Phillips. First words out of Joe Morgan's mouth last night, "I was voted into that All Star Game, but I was injured so I couldn't play." Dear Joe Morgan, nobody gives a FUCK about you. Moreover, if I hear Chris Berman's "as Maxwell Smart would say, "missed it by THAT much"" routine one more time, I'm gonna stab someone. Who finds these people entertaining? Their awfulness is starting to become comical. Instead of watching the Home Run Derby contestants, let's give half of the tv screen to Joe Buck and listen to him talk about his hair. God. On the lighter side of things, Nellie Cruz has one of the easiest power swings I have ever seen. He and Ernie Els must be boys. And that ends my Home Run Derby rant. Onto the real thing.

This will finally be the year for the National League. Yep, I said it. I think the biggest factor in the NL's favor is pitching. With guys like Johan Santana, Tim Lincecum and Danny Haren as starters and Coco Cordero, Heath Bell and K Rod shutting it down, the NL is finally stacked with live arms. My one request is to please leave Trevor Hoffman out of the game.

The AL has some solid arms too with Halladay, Greinke and Beckett, but with the exception of Beckett, they have not been pitching very well as of late. I think they are hittable. However, with Rivera, Papelbon and Nathan in the bullpen, the NL had better get a lead early. The biggest mistake for the AL would be putting Tim Wakefield in, he can be taken deep at any time.

As for hitting, I would definitely give the advantage to the NL. With the exceptions of Catcher and 3rd base, I would say the the NL is better at every position. They get the nod in the outfield because of Josh Hamilton's limited time this year. I'm also expecting Charlie Manuel to get creative with the lineup so that 2 of his 3-headed monster of Albert, RyHo and Prince Fielder can be playing at the same time. Maybe move Albert to 3rd base? It could be a little tricky, but its definitely a good problem to have.

As I said before, I picture the NL winning by a count of 7-4. Danny Haren will get the W and Albert will have slugged a 2 or 3 run homer on his way to being named MVP. The AL has had a good run, but its time for it to come to an end.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Home Run Derby Preview

We are in for a real treat tonight. Some of the greatest hitters in all the land have been brought together to compete in this year's Home Run Derby in St. Louis. There are a couple of things that strike me about this year's derby; the first being my disappointment in the American League field. Leading to my next point, it is really going to be a race between 3 horses, Pujols, Howard, Fielder. While we may not have any "Boo? Fuck you" moments or 500 foot blasts by Josh Hamilton, this year's derby promises to excite.

What do Evan Longoria, Josh Hamilton, Justin Morneau, Jason Bay, Mark Teixeira, Torii Hunter, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro all have in common? They were all invited to participate in the Home Run Derby this year and declined. Thus, we are left with Nellie Cruz, Joe Mauer, Brandon Inge and Carlos Pena on the AL squad.

Not that these men aren't capable of winning the derby (Carlos Pena is a definite sleeper pick), but they are not really the household names you'd expect. Brandon Inge will no doubt join John Jaha as one of the more obscure Derby participants of all time. I think that all those players declining the home run derby is an insult to the fans. Whatever happened to going to the All Star game and competing in the Home Run Derby being an honor? These guys treat it as a chore and that is pretty disrespectful.

With that said, the NL side is most likely where this year's derby champion will come from. Ryan Howard is a past winner (he also went on to win MVP that year for those who argue that participating in the home run derby ruins your swing for the second half of the year), Albert Pujols has the best power stroke in baseball and will be energized by his home crowd, and if Prince Fielder can get all of his weight behind anything it is going to go a long way. Adrian Gonzalez looks like a mouse and will probably disappoint like he has since I traded for him in fantasy baseball.

I like Fielder, Howard, Pujols and Pena to make it into the second round, and then Howard and Pujols to slug it out in the finals. By this point, it will be anybody's game since the scores reset to zero, and sicne the stadium design does not give an advantage to either righties of lefties. It will all be about who has the most energy left. Because I am a homer, and because he has won in the past, I will give the nod to Ryan Howard. Moreover, Albert might get a little too jacked up from the crowd and use up too much energy early. Regardless of the outcome, I think a final round of Pujols vs. Howard would be epic. Who do you guys like?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pedro?

Despite the fact that the U.S. Women's Open is being held at Saucon Valley Country Club this week, our focus will once again be baseball and the Phillies in specific. Yesterday I recognized the fruits of my labor when Shane Victorino was elected to the All Star Game with over 15 million votes from the fans. I trust that many of them read my blog the other day and that is what turned the tides, but that is not what I will be discussing today.

The biggest news in Philadelphia today is the possible signing of free agent pitcher Pedro Martinez. Jamie Moyer's struggles this year, coupled with the stat that the Phillies have become only the second team ever to have four guys hit 20 home runs before the All Star Break make it abundantly clear that pitching is the Phillies biggest problem. Moyer was rock solid last year, but a 5.99 ERA is unacceptable for a starter. If he wasn't so beloved in Philly, he would be on a tugboat out of town just like Adam Eaton.

Somehow though, Moyer is 8-6 on the season, including a win last night despite going 5 innings and giving up 6 earned runs. All the Phillies need is 5 guys that can average a 4.50 ERA. That's it. 5 Joe Blantons would be perfect. 38 year old Pedro Martinez might be able to do just this. I for one would welcome the signing. I don't think that he could do worse than Moyer has this year, and maybe, just maybe he could flash some signs of the Pedro of old.

I also think that signing Pedro would not necessarily mean that the Phils are out of the Roy Halladay sweepstakes. I think Pedro would be the small addition that the Phillies front office is known for, and would buy them some time for the Jays to get desperate. If Pedro doesn't pan out, then maybe they go after Halladay.

Pitching is at a premium in baseball. As the Phillies have learned, you can hit the ball all over the yard, but if you don't have pitching you will be unsuccessful. Pedro Martinez would be a welcome addition to the Phillies staff and might just be able to give them the boost they need. And if he cannot, we'll all just sit around saying "Pedro?".

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Let's Keep It Going


After yesterday's rant on Shane Victorino I figured I would be tapped out for chances to talk about the Phillies. However, the good Lord has seen it fit to send me two stories that relate to the Fightin's on this fine Wednesday afternoon. First we have the state of California versus Leonard Kyle Dykstra as he files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Did anyone not see this coming? And secondly, we have whispers around the league that the Philadelphia Philadelphians might be in the mix to acquire Doc Halladay from the Blue Jays as reparations for Joe Carter's blast in 1993. Let us dissect both of these stories, shall we?

Lenny Dykstra, aka "The Dude" aka "Nails" will always hold a special place in the hearts of Philadelphians. His balls to the wall attitude, mouth full of Redman, and general stupidity helped galvanize the 1993 Phillies surprise run to the World Series. Somehow after he retired, he managed to make a fortune in the car wash business, but has now lost it all in the magazine and investment fields.

Recently I saw a HBO Real Sports special on Dykstra (still on demand for those interested) and wondered why anyone would work with this guy. I knew he was an idiot from his days on the Phillies; but for those that did not know, just hearing him talk should have removed all doubt for them. He sounds brain damaged and still talks like a 17 year old. Anybody who trusted this guy enough to invest in him or work for him must have been drinking more bong water than Todd. Most of them now have taken him to court for the money he owes them. Serves 'em right for trusting The Dude.

Despite his shortcomings and impending bankruptcy, I wouldn't be surprised to see The Dude back on top again someday. Either that or he will put a bullet in his brain.

In a completely unrelated story, rumors abound that Roy Halladay might be headed to the Phillies. The Phils are supposedly the only team that has the prospects and the money to bring on Doc Halladay. As much as I think that this move would really help the Phils, I don't think I like it because of what they would have to give up.

The Phillies have always adhered to the strategy that the big trade rarely brings success. Last year when C.C. Sabathia and Rich Harden were traded to NL playoff teams, the Phils quietly went out and got Joe Blanton. The rest is history.

Plus, the Phillies farm system is finally stocked with talented young players. With a lot of money committed to a few players on this team, I would like to see the Phils effectively bring guys up to replace free agents and the like. This is the way a team stays competitive.

If the Phils trade for Halladay, they would have to give up 4 or 5 guys that have the potential to start in the future, and would only have Doc for this year and next. To me, it is not worth it. But it would make this year and next very exciting. If they made the trade, it certainly wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, but I think the Phillies are better off standing pat and possibly acquiring a lower level pitcher once a few more teams drop out of the playoff race.

Who knows what tomorrow will hold for Phillies headlines. Hopefully some good stuff.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rock the Vote for Victorino


In the following sentences and pargraphs I will explain to you why Shane Victorino deserves your vote for the final spot on the NL All Star team. Unfortunately, fans are being mislead on who to vote for by people like Peter Gammons and Tim Kurkjian, when they should be listening to the Krukker and voting for Victorino. You can vote for whomever you would like in the AL, but when it comes to defense, effort, speed, and a bat that is heating up, Shane Victorino is the obvious choice for the final NL All Star vote.

Peter Gammons and Timmy Kurkjian have really been hurting Victorino's cause by touting fat young Pablo Sandoval as the deserved choice for the final vote for the All Star team. They are applauding the fact that he can play multiple positions and that he is batting .332 on the year. Well, to them I would say that I'd rather play one position really well than several positions average. And that doesn't even tell the whole truth. Victorino could play any outfield position on an All Star team that has several banged up outfielders voted in as starters. Moreover, he won the Gold Glove in center field last year and has only made 6 errors in his career with the Phillies. Sandoval has 6 errors this year. The need is for an solid outfielder, not for a fat corner infielder/catcher.

As far as Sandoval's batting average, .332 is pretty good. However, Victorino is batting at a clip of .308 and has 40 more at bats than Sandoval. Victorino is obviously much more of a speed threat than the Kung Fu Panda, and speed can be crucial late in the All Star Game. Moreover, I would say that their power is even although Sandoval has 7 more home runs (13 to 6). Let's face it, a guy with 13 home runs isn't gonna be an All-Star for his power numbers, and Victorino's numbers are better everywhere else. Case closed.

In the case of Mark Reynolds, I admire his power numbers, but the NL team already has Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Adrian Gonzalez and Albert Pujols. Not to mention David Wright and Ryan Zimmerman already at 3rd base. Clearly, the NL team has no shortage of sluggers. A guy that can play defense and steal bags is what they need.

The way I see it, Matt Kemp should be Victorino's closest competition. He has 4 more home runs, 5 more RBIs and 6 more stolen bases than Victorino while only sitting 3 points lower in OBP and batting average. My argument for Victorino in this case would be his 17 more runs scored and the fact that he covers much more ground in the outfield than Kemp. Kemp is a good defender, but Victorino is a great defender. Moreover, Victorino has been scalding the ball lately and I look for this to continue as the season goes on.

Last but not least, Victorino is a gamer. He loves to play and you can tell it by watching him. Matt Kemp sometimes appears to be putting in minimal effort out there. The All Star nod would be a testament to Victorino's hard work throughout his career, whereas Matt Kemp appears to get by on god given talent mostly.

Christian Guzman does not deserve to be on this list as he plays for the Nats. There is no way that they deserve more than one All Star, and his numbers are not even that good. That's all I have to say about that.

So, before you go to the polls today think about what I have written. Think about how much this honor would mean to Shane Victorino, and how hard he has worked to get where he is. Think about what the NL All Star team really needs to win this game. If you think about these things, then you will have no choice but to vote for Victorino. Then go vote for whomever you want in the AL. Thank you.

Monday, July 6, 2009

All Star Team Reactions


It is that time of year once again sports fans. All Star fever has reached epidemic levels and citizens of the United States and abroad are in definite need of a prescription of the Summer Classic. Yet, there are a few players on each all star team this year that once again the fans have managed to vote in that clearly don't belong on each team. Despite this malfeasance however, the fans got it right and kept steroid linked players out of the game. Here are my thoughts on this year's All Star team rosters.

In the American League, there are a few players that really don't deserve to start in my mind. Dustin Pedroia is having nowhere near the year he did last year, and has been struck by a rather serious power outage. Meanwhile, Aaron Hill is a reserve that deserves to start, and Ian Kinsler is on the outside looking in for now.

The legendary Derek Jeter (aka Jeet-uh) should not be a starter considering that Jason Bartlett (aka Fartlett) has put up better numbers than him in 13 less games. Jeter has been an All-Star mainstay though, so even if Fartlett was voted in by the fans I bet he would let Jeter start.

Finally, it is fairly obvious that Josh Hamilton should not be a starter in the All Star game. My vote for that spot would have been for Adam Jones or Carl Crawford. The most notable snub in the AL though was probably 10 game winner Kevin Slowey. How in the world did he get left off the roster?

In the National League, the only names that stand out at me are Yadier Molina and Carlos BelTRAN. I understand that the game is in St. Louis, but Brian McCann should really be starting this game at catcher. And as for BelTRAN, hopefully he will be replaced by Shane Victorino or Matt Kemp. Either man would make a fine addition to the team. I also would like to see Brad Hawpe starting in his place. Raul Ibanez is another guy that might not be able to play, but his numbers are well deserving of the nod. The only other snubs I see are Trevor Hoffman, whom I will never forgive for blowing the All Star game in 2006 so it's fine with me that he didn't make it, and Brian Wilson of the Giants.

For starting pitchers, I like King Felix from the Mariners and Tim Lincecum from the Giants in a Pacific Coast showdown. As far as predictions go, I think the fact that the game is in St. Louis will drive Albert Pujols to put the team on his back and carry the NL to their first victory since 1996 in Philadelphia.

NL: 7
AL: 4
MVP: Albert
Winning Pitcher: Danny Haren

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Big Moses?


With the Shaqtus supposedly on his way to Cleveland, NBA fans are already beginning to wonder what his new nickname will be. The Big Cuyahoga? The Big Rock Star? Hopefully Shaq will come up with something more clever. What Cavs fans are wondering though is will Shaq be able to help get Lebron and the Cavs over the hump and win the championship. When it comes to winning a championship, I think Shaq's nickname in Cleveland might become The Big Mistake (get it? because Cleveland is also known as the Mistake by the Lake). He is already into the twilight of his career and he is mirroring the career of Moses Malone quite eerily.

Moses Malone began his career in the mid 70s with the Houston Rockets and was a dominant force on their team for years. In Houston he would start a string of 12 straight all star appearances and win multiple MVPs. He would not win a title though until he was traded to the Sixers in the early 80s. The Sixers needed to get over the hump and after acquiring Malone in 1982 ran roughshod over the competition in the playoffs in 1983 and won the title. After that Malone had several more good years with the Sixers but the team began to decline. Malone was traded to the Bullets in the mid 80s and bounced back for a few more productive years.

Similarly, the Shaqtus came into the league in 1992 and immediately became a dominant force with the Magic. He led them to the finals with Penny Hardaway, but they were not able to bring home the title. A year later the Shaqtus signed with the Lakers and was able to get them over the hump, taking them to the promised land three times. Eventually though, Shaq was considered to be less important than Kobe to the Lakers' future and was traded to the Heat. Here he tacked on a few more good years and even won another title with Dwayne Wade. Sound like anybody you know so far?

After the Bullets, Moses Malone became a journeyman. He went from Atlanta to Milwaukee back to Philadelphia and eventually to San Antonio. He was no longer considered a dominant force anymore and his teams were not serious playoff contenders.

I think that Shaq may have entered this phase of his career as well. During his time with Phoenix he would have flashes of brilliance, but the Suns ultimately could not compete. Now he has gone on to the Cavs where I think he might just slow down their up tempo playing style. The Cavs might actually take a step back next year with the Big Cuyahoga (I'm going with this one) on their team. They might even send him on his way to another team as fast as they brought him in.

Shaq and Moses Malone were both at considered the be the best big men in the NBA during their careers. But you can't stay on top forever, and Shaq appears to be headed the along the same path that Moses has already been down.