$6 million reasons…

After initially denying a meeting with their former third baseman/likely 2015 DH Alex Rodriguez, the New York Yankees are now trying to alienate him further by attempting to deny him any bonuses he might reach in the remainder of his contract. You see, A-Rod is slated to make a $6 million bonus if he can hit enough home runs to match Willie Mays’ current total, and A-Rod is only 6 homers behind Willie. So, in all likelihood, A-Rod will definitely hit more than six home runs in the 2015 if he makes the team. Now, the Yankees are saying they should not have to pay A-Rod these bonuses because he agreed to the contract under false pretenses (i.e. his PED usage, admitted or not).

Here’s the problem: this is only $6 million dollars. If it were a different team, that could be significant, but these are the Yankees and $6 million is pocket change. Heck, I have zero baseball skills and they would probably sign me to a one year/$6 million deal. To me, this is nothing but a grudge the Yanks are holding. Yes, A-Rod should not have sued the team doctor and yes, he should not have made bitter enemies with most people in the organization. However, it makes no sense to discourage a dude from hitting homers.

Now, as anyone who reads this blog knows, I am a fan of A-Rod the athlete. A-Rod the person seems like a turd burger with extra turd cheese, but I can’t help but admire his stats and the accomplishments he has had. Yeah, they are tainted but so are the accomplishments of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and so many other great athletes I grew up watching. However, in writing this, I’m not necessarily defending him. I am merely pointing out how stupid it is that the Yanks are going to let a grudge potentially harm their chances of winning.

As big of a Yankee fan as I am, I can’t help but feel embarrassed by the whole thing. This childish display is all sour grapes if you ask me. No one is particularly excited to see A-Rod come back, but I think most Yankee fans would agree with me in saying that I would rather have A-Rod on the team producing some much needed offense so we can win instead of ostracizing him and giving him reason not to play well. If he is so vindictive that he needs $6 million as an incentive to play well, give the man his money! I’d rather see the Yanks in the post-season with A-Rod than no October baseball again in 2015. It’s foolish to think that he will be the only reason the Yanks do well, but any run support he can provide will be great. He won’t play third, unless it’s as a back-up, but I’ll be happy to have his bat in the line-up (provided, of course, that he can still hit).

The Yankees are stuck with A-Rod for another three years and given the money they owe him, it’s ignorant to think that he will not be playing in some capacity. If they believe he can help the team win, he will play. Ignore him, let him do his thing, whatever. It was stupid to give A-Rod home run bonuses considering he was long suspected of PED use before he signed the 10-year deal, and now the Yanks have to deal with the ramifications. You can’t back out now just because he pisses you off. In 2009, when he came out about his PED use with the Rangers earlier in his career, you didn’t back out then. Oh, wait, he was actually a productive player in 2009! That’s right. He helped you win the 2009 World Series, so heaven forbid you back out of his home run bonuses then. Oops.

So, Yankees, just stop this childish behavior. Focus on winning, please. Keep A-Rod motivated to hit and reap the potential rewards. And if you really don’t want to pay him $6 million as motivation, I’ll gladly take that money and work in the dugout as a motivator, and by that I mean I will slap the player’s butts for encouragement. I think I’d be good at that.

An Error Yu Won’t Soon Forget

On Friday night, I was rooting so hard for Yu Darvish. I was watching a game on my TV, laptop, and I put the Rangers/Red Sox game on my phone once I got wind of a potential perfect game. He was a few innings away from a perfect game when the worst person you can think of came up to the plate.

Godammit Big Papi. 

I said that twice last night.

Of all the people you don’t want to come up to the plate, David Ortiz is at the top of my list. Frankly, he is the hitter I fear the most (as a Yankees fan, you understand why, and as a baseball fan, I respect the crap out of him). Whenever he comes up to the plate, I hold my breath because I know he is going to mash some baseballs into the middle of next week.

Everyone is talking this morning about the hit Big Papi had in the top of the 9th inning. He was the last hitter standing between Yu Darvish and a no-hitter. My first thought was “intentionally walk him”. If they did that, he would face the much-less intimidating Mike Napoli. But, they had the shift on Papi, so theoretically they should have gotten him out. But nope. He’s Big Papi. Big Papi don’t care about no shifts to cause maximum damage. 

But, it was Ortiz who was able to break up the perfect game a few innings earlier. On any other day, during any other game, his bloop to shallow right field would be ruled a hit. But it wasn’t. This hit fell between the right fielder Alex Rios and second baseman Rougned Odor (sweet name), both of whom had shifted for the Ortiz at-bat. As I was watching this ball fly towards them, I sighed a huge sigh of relief because I knew it was an easy pop-fly and Darvish would keep the perfect game going. And then the ball fell. Goddammit Big Papi.

So, we were all sitting here, knowing that Darvish’s perfect game and possible no-hitter was no longer intact. But hark! What’s that I hear? The scorer ruling the play an error? For reals? On what planet would that have been an error? This planet, apparently, and I am sure glad it was called an error. 

I have seen so many of those hits over the years, the kinds of hits that could have easily been caught, but no one did. These balls are not hard to catch, so I like to think of this situation as a Team Brain Fart, or a “TBF”. TBF’s are a hilarious thing to watch because of the over-riding stupidity on the part of the players. I would rather see two players run into each other trying to catch the ball than have two or more players run to a perfectly catchable ball and just let it drop. Need I remind you how funny it was to watch Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright watch a sky-high pop fly drop between the two of them in front of the mound? (Here’s a link to a slo-mo video. Pay attention to the look of pure disappointment on Wainwright’s face: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mViXPYhgBNg)

People have been debating since last night as to whether or not this Big Papi blooper should have been ruled a hit. Not surprisingly, all of the Red Sox think it should have been. Also not surprisingly, baseball journalists and experts all think it should NOT have been a hit, but an error. So, I think the official scorer got the call right. It can be hard to assign blame for TBF’s, which is why I think they are not called errors very often. However, that should not stop officials from calling TBF’s errors. 

Over the course of the coming off-season, I think MLB should look at this. They have a gazillion other rules to potentially re-evaluate this year, so why not add one more? If a number of players could have made a play but they didn’t, guess what, that should be an error. TBF’s are errors, and should be scored as such.

So, while Yu Darvish can blame his teammates for breaking up the perfect game, the Red Sox cannot blame the Rangers for not allowing a “true” hit. The Sox didn’t get a hit, they got lucky. They were lucky that the Rangers had a TBF in the 7th and that Big Papi can hit against a shift. Other than that, the Sox were the Rangers’ and Darvish’s bitch last night. 

And as a Yankee fan, it made me really happy to see that. But it made me even happier to see some of the filthy stuff Darvish can throw, because he is a very fun pitcher to watch. He’s gonna have his no-hitter soon and with any luck, a perfect game is not far off.

 

Here is a link for Buster Olney’s take: http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/buster-olney/post?id=6140

My Picks for the Post-Season!

I am of no authority to make my picks for who will win a division. No matter how many stats you look at or how many injuries you take into account, predicting the outcomes of the standings is far from an exact science. Too many factors are involved over the course of 162 games per team to make any kind of accurate prediction. But for now, I will look into my crystal ball and tell you how I think things might shape up…

National League:

NL EAST: Washington Nationals. Hands down, I think these guys are gonna take it. After the Braves went down with numerous injuries and so many players coming off bad years, I can’t see them winning the division. Washington has the offense, pitching, and leadership to take this team into the post-season.

NL CENTRAL: St. Louis Cardinals. This one is a bit trickier because the Pirates are looking good so far this spring, but I just don’t think the Pirates can win the division. The Cardinals have done everything right during winter break and acquired good pieces to fill holes left vacant. Add a bomb farm system and you have yourself a great team.

NL WEST: Los Angeles Dodgers. I hate to say it, but they are so good. If they can keep their front-line starters healthy and keep Puig from making embarrassing gaffs, this team is a lock for the post-season. Yes, there are a million huge personalities to tame, Don Mattingly’s included, but if they don’t all kill each other first, they will be just fine. Oh, and I just saw that they are now baseball’s highest spenders this year, taking away the Yankees’ 15-year run, so they REALLY better not suck.

WILD CARD(S): Pittsburg Pirates, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, or San Francisco Giants. All of these teams are good, but I doubt they are “win the division” good. Pittsburg has the momentum, the Braves always scrap their way in, the Reds have everything to prove, and the Giants have pitching for days. How these teams will preform if they do get into the post-season is not in their favor, but gosh darn it, they will try. Also, look for the Arizona Diamondbacks as a sleeper team. If the Goldschmidt/Prado/Trumbo sandwich works out, the offense could be insane.

American League:

AL EAST: Tampa Bay Rays. Talk about the hardest division in baseball! Good Lord, this is going to be a knock-out drag-down fight until the end, I can feel it! Honestly, any team could take it, but I would put money on the super awesome Joe Maddon and the Rays.

AL CENTRAL: Detroit Tigers. A perennial contender, the Tigers will be great this year. There have been some question marks with injuries and front office crap, but I think they can pull it out. But this one will be close because the Indians are really good, as are the Royals.

AL WEST: Oakland Athletics. This is the one division I was most unsure about. On paper, the Angels and Rangers look the best, but Oakland has a way to quietly dominate. Add the injuries to the Rangers and the uncertainty about the Angels, Oakland still looks the best. Seattle may have sold their soul to get Robinson Cano, but their offense is still weak and I doubt they will be contenders this year.

WILD CARDS: Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, or Kansas City Royals. There is a reason there are 3 AL East teams. All of them could take over the division with no problem, so don’t be surprised if three or four of them hit the post-season. I view the Yankees as the dark horse team, a team that will be very dangerous offensively and off the mound. Boston still looks great so far and they have to motivation from winning the World Series, but back-to-backs Series wins are rare. The Royals have everything to prove here, so I expect them to work their butts off this year. I was tossing up between Baltimore and Texas, but just because of injuries, I have to go with Baltimore.

So, there you have it. I have the right to change my picks, not that I will because I don’t care. You can just read newer posts. Psh, this post will be on the elusive second page by the time I need to change my picks. Anyway, enjoy the picks I have made and let’s hope they don’t just suck baseballs by the time the season gets going…

 

 

RECOMMENDED ARTICLE

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/major-league-baseball-execs-open-to-signing-gay-player-021014

With football prospect Michael Sam coming out of the closet, the NFL is poised to sign its first openly gay player. I, for one, couldn’t be happier. If the guy is good, it shouldn’t matter who he goes home to after the game. Is the NFL ready? I hope so. Is MLB ready? I hope so. I think this article gives me hope that a person’s sexuality should not matter when it comes to getting drafted. If he can hit a baseball or pitch like a fiend, it should never matter. 

Winning and Losing Starts Before the Season Does

With the off-season coming to a close and spring training starting this week (YAHOO!!!!!), it is that time when everyone is really analyzing the off-season moves made by all of the teams. I decided to look into who made the best moves and the worst moves. Here is a list of the teams who I think won the off-season and the teams who didn’t make much of a splash:

Winners:

New York Yankees: Dumping almost half a billion dollars during the off-season is a great place to start for a team who has money and really needed to make changes. They needed offense, so that’s what they got (okay, bought). They needed pitching, so that’s what they got. I think they made a lot of smart moves and put some much needed power in their lineup. I mean, spending that much money should be a good thing…right? Please?

Boston Red Sox: I’m including them because they covered their butts by getting AJ Pierzynski to catch for them once Saltalamacchia left. Clearly, the Sox have a pension for catchers with long last names. They just won the World Series and look poised for another post-season run. Besides, they have Mike Napoli’s beard to remind them of their success, and as a warning to never grow those nasty things ever again.

Tampa Bay Rays: They did not get rid of David Price. Forget all the good moves they made and extensions they signed. They are winners this off-season because they kept Price.

Texas Rangers: They picked up Prince Fielder (granted, he was not his best in 2013) and Shin-Soo Choo, so they are already looking better. With some post-season trips and near misses, they are poised to use that momentum to propel themselves forward. It would be fun to see them do that.

Honorable Mentions:

– Seattle Mariners: Giving Robinson Cano an arm, leg, and their soul was an interesting way to start the off-season, but hey, I guess they mean business.

– Kansas City Royals: Will they be Royal this year? Can I call them Queen Bee (get the Lorde reference? I think I tried too hard, but can you blame me??)? I sure hope so. 2013 was such a turn-a-round year for this club, it would be fun to see them really let loose.

– Los Angeles Dodgers: They didn’t really lose any key players and gave Clayton Kershaw a massive, yet deserving, extension. Now how funny would it be if they bombed like they did the first half of last year?

– Arizona Diamondbacks: Getting Mark Trumbo and Addison Reed was huge, but they had to surrender some prospects to get there. Hopefully, this will work out in their favor because I really want to see these Trumbombs everyone keeps talking about.

– Atlanta Braves: Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman. That’s all.

– Washington Nationals: A new manager (Matt Williams) and a new pitcher (Doug Fister) poise the Nats to give Atlanta a run for their money.

Losers:

Baltimore Orioles: In a division as hard as the AL East, you’d think Baltimore would have made some more moves. I was optimistic when they picked up Grant Balfour, mostly because I think he is awesome, but to see them drop him like a hot, Aussie potato was surprising. And they didn’t need that, either. Without any moves made, I can’t see how they can be contenders for 2014.

Toronto Blue Jays: Again, the AL East is a nasty place to be. Last off-season, Toronto made some rocking moves, but it never happened for them last year. I want to be optimistic, but I really doubt they will make magic. Really, the only cool thing about the Jays are the knuckle balls that will supposedly come out during Spring Training.

Cincinnati Reds: They lost Shoo, Dusty Baker, and will probably lose Bronson Arroyo. Bum deal, huh?

Pittsburg Pirates: I include them because they didn’t really do much this year. They lost some good players and might lose AJ Burnett, but they have a great farm system. Will it be enough to propel them into the post-season? Eh…it’s a little up in the air.

All remaining free agents: Geez, it must really suck to be a free agent and not be signed by now! I thought that once Masahiro Tanaka signed, the other pitchers would be prime real estate. As it turns out, no one wants to surrender a first-round pick for these guys and I don’t really blame them. It’s kinda of messed up that a solid pitcher is punished because a team won’t give up a draft pick, but that’s how it works.

Not-so-Honorable Mentions:

– Atlanta Braves: Yes, they are in both categories because while they gave extensions to the players who needed it, they lost good players. They better hope BJ Upton gets hot again and Dan Uggla can bounce back.

– Houston Astros: LOL.

– Miami Marlins: see Houston Astros.