The snow is still melting here in PA, but I can still feel spring in my bones. Pitchers and catchers report tomorrow. The Phillies will have their new-look rotation together at last, poised for what will hopefully be a historic run.
When I was a kid, it was right around now that I would be signing up for little league and just a couple weeks before I’d play my heart out in the freezing cold at try outs. I’d beg my mom and dad for a new mit, new cleats, new batting gloves, anything that I could show of for the new season.
I learned baseball by watching Darren Daulton, Lenny Dykstra, John Kruk, Curt Schilling and Mickey Morandini on their run to the ’93 World Series using my livingroom sofa as a backstop, and an old hockey mask as a catcher’s mask (I still claim to have invented the idea!).
Baseball is in my blood and although my 2010 season ended in disappointment, there’s no feeling quite like the promise of a new year.
A new spring.
It’s baseball season, baby!
It’s 10:14am here in the east and I’m three days removed from my college graduation. So this is what “the real world” is like, huh? I’ve heard about this for what seems like forever. Colleges, these days, pride themselves on preparing us for the great wide world that is going to crush us if we’re not ready.
My opinion.. honestly? Kinda boring.
Okay, I don’t have a “job” yet, but I do have several things going on. I’m attending the Allentown Bartending School after the new year. That should be fun. My ultimate goal would be to get a job in a nice sports bar where I could talk sports all day long. I do that already, but my fiancee is not very receptive unless it about the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I’m also working in a new web series that I’m trying to pitch. It’s called Guys With Girl Problems (cheap plug) and I think people will find it funny. I’ve spent the last 4 1/2 years in college working my tail off toward something I have little interest in. If I’ve learned anything in that time, it’s that I need to be working toward something I believe in.
Wait a minute. This is a baseball blog, right? Sorry. On to baseball!
To quench my winter thirst for baseball in the wake of the Roy Halladay trade, I’m fixed on mlb.com eying the next big moves. One of today’s headlines was regarding the fan voted “all-decade” teams. So I thought I’d weigh in.
Now I don’t know all the rules here. From what I gather, this is like an AL/NL all-century team except just the 2000-2009 decade. So here goes.
1B: Albert Pujols – No surprises here. They don’t call this guy a machine for nothing. since breaking into the league in 2001, Pujols has hit .334 with 366 dingers and 1,112 RBI on his way to 3 MVPs and a World Series. Some guys would sell their soul for the career this guys has had in 9 years. If Ryan Howard had come into the league earlier than 2006, this might be a more difficult discussion, but Pujols is just undeniable right now.
2B: Chase Utley – Here comes the homer! Okay, yes I’m a Phillies Phanatic but you really can’t argue with Utley at all. I don’t even need to throw out numbers with him. He’s going to go down as the greatest second baseman of all time, even better than Ryne Sandberg.
3B: Chipper Jones – This was a little tougher decision. Chipper has battled some injuries which kept him out the better of one or two seasons and he’s getting up there in age. But I’ve been following his career since he was a rookie in 1995, A lot of people want to shy away from him but at the end of the day you can’t deny what he brings to the plate. Yes, he moved around position wise, playing LF for a couple years, but he’s always been a third baseman.
SS: Jimmy Rollins – This was by far the toughest decision because SS seems to be a forgotten position anymore. It was sexy in the 90’s with Ripken, Jeter, A-Rod and Garciaparra but now I can only name maybe 5 starting shortstops in all of baseball without really thinking hard. For me, it came down to Jimmy Rollins and Rafael Furcal. I went with Rollins because he’s been consistent and clutch and he’s got an MVP trophy and a World Series ring. Furcal has neither. Plus, Rollins and his club have come up victorious in the last 2 NLCS of the decade.Compelling.
LF: Barry Bonds – I’ll take the 2001-2004 Bonds who hit a billion home runs and won 4 consecutive MVPs. Not the 2005-2007 Bonds who played every other day and walked more than he ran. Literally. Steroids or not, the games count so he counts. He never could win a championship but he was playing in San Francisco. Gary Sheffield was a close second, but he spent a lot of the decade in the AL with New York and Detroit.
CF: Jim Edmonds – I had three choices for best CF of the decade. Edmonds, Andruw Jones and Carlos Beltran. Beltran only came to the NL at the trade deadline of 2004 so he’s out. That left Jones and Edmonds. Both of these guys were staples in CF for one teams nearly the whole decade. There was a time where no fly ball was safe in St. Louis or Atlanta. I gave the nod to Edmonds because his numbers were a bit more consistent whereas Andruw Jones was more of a bell-curve.
RF: Gary Sheffield – Yes, I know I mentioned him in the Left Field discussion, but Sheff really did spend more time in Right than Left until recently. I re-thought his career and despite spending 2004-2008 in New York and Detroit, he is still hands down better than the youngsters that have been in right for the rest of the decade. A shout out goes to Will Ferrell, i mean, Adam Dunn.
C: Mike Piazza – Even though he retired in 2008, Piazza still stuck out as the best of the unsung heroes behind the plate. He was one of the few to be feared at the plate and meant a lot to the city of New York following the tragedy of 9/11. Russell Martin, Brian McCann and the Molina family are all great catchers, but Piazza is up on the pedistal in my book.
P: John Smoltz – Picking just one pitcher out of, I don’t know, A MILLION is a tall order. In the end, I went with Smoltz because he was part of what could be the greatest 1-2-3 rotation (Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz) of all time. AND he did what his team needed and stepped into the closer role and was nothing short of a lock. He was the Mo Rivera of the NL for 3 seasons.
1B: Paul Konerko – This is tricky because the 1B/DH designation is typically one and the same. You can throw around names like Jim Thome and David Ortiz, but they were typically DH. Many First basemen in the AL are there for defensive purposes. Konerko played a lot of 1B in the decade and is one of the most overlooked players of the decade. So I’m going to show him some love in this blog at least.
2B: Alfonso Soriano – It’s hard to remember his time in the AL since his astronomical contract in Chicago and his move to LF, but he was once considered the next great Yankee. After losing the 2001 and 2003 world series respectively, New York traded him away and teams have been overpaying for him ever since. Gotta give it up to a guy who looks like he weighs 150lbs but can power it to China.
3B: Alex Rodriguez – He still seems like he doesn’t know what he’s doing at 3B but what he’s done at the plate greatly overshadows it all. A lot of his great work of the decade was done at SS but its undeniable who belongs at that designation, I had to give 3B to Rodriguez.
SS: Derek Jeter – In my book, he’s still the last true great Yankee. I think he can be mentioned in the same breath as Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle. I spent most of my life loathing the Yankee organization, but I always liked Jeter. He’s a classy, old fashioned ballplayer. I really don’t think I need to say anything else.
LF: Manny Ramirez – One of the many great products of the Cleveland Indians organization to experience success somewhere else. Manny has been Manny this whole decade and while his antics on the field have been somewhat comical, he been the best and most consistent hitter we’ve had outside of DH.
CF: Torii Hunter – Center Field used to be a premier position with guys like Mantle and Griffey Jr., but now teams usually want a speedy defensive center fielder and are lucky to find one that might be able to put the bat on the ball well enough to lead off. Hunter has done all that and more and he’s done it year in and year out.
RF: Ichiro – He largely stays out of the media because he doesn’t speak much English and he plays in Seattle. But Ichiro has started almost every All-Star game since he came into the league in 2001 from Japan and he’s the one guy you DO NOT want to see when you’re looking for a safe out. Many fans also discount his defense which is amazing. I remember watch
ing him throw out a tagging runner on a frozen-rope strike from RF to third.
C: Jorge Posada – Consistency is big in my book. There are a lot of players that are hyped up because they have 1 or 2 big months, but I like the players who get it done day in and day out. Posada is one of those players who can hit almost anywhere in the lineup from either side of the plate and put the barrel of the bat on the ball. What more do you want from a catcher?
P: Roy Halladay – Yes, I know, I’m excited to see him in Philadelphia, but he was the workhorse of the AL for the entire decade. A Cy Young in 2003 doesn’t begin to describe what he did for Toronto who otherwise had to think back to Joe Carter’s series winning home run, but Mitch Williams and I don’t want to talk about that. You could make a good case for Roger Clemens or even Andy Pettite, but both of them abandoned the AL for the NL in 2004, and Clemens has been baseball’s version of Brett Favre ever since. So I had to take points away. Halladay has pitched around 200 innings a year in 6 of the last 10 seasons on his way to winning 139 games.
So there it is. My all-decade teams for the AL and NL. Of course there are arguments to be made and I’m open to any of them.
WELL HELLO THERE!
Just logged into the Blogosphere for the first time since the great Harry Kallas passed away early last season. It’s been a hectic 8 months since my last post and I’m sorry I haven’t been around to take part in all of the interesting stories that have been going on in the world of baseball in 2009.
I got engaged down in good ol’ Disney World last May. I’m very excited about the wedding which will be this coming July 10th. I wish I could invite everyone. I also just finished up my last semester at Penn State and will be graduating on Saturday. So needless to say, I’ve had a lot going on and unfortunately my blogging had to take a back seat.
But it’s time to end the silence. I’ve got so much to say and wouldn’t rather say it anywhere else. I had some bad experiences during this past world series on facebook, and before I get into the sadness in my heart over the loss of Cliff Lee, I’d like to speak my mind very briefly.
Personally, I thought this had all the makings for one of the greatest and most competitive world series of all time. You couldn’t have put 2 more evenly-matched, equally competitive franchises if it had been written by Bill Shakespeare himself. Unfortunately, the greatness that was the 2009 world series was tarnished by the thousands of New York and Philadelphia fans on facebook, running their mouths in the most vindictive, sadistic and downright awful ways. As if it had any effect on the game itself.
This is sports, people. It’s a game. I loved the Phillies from the day I put on my first red cap, and as much as I may disagree with the Yankees’ front office philosophies, or disagree with their impact on baseball, I’m never going to root for them to fail. I just don’t believe in that anymore. There may have been a time in my young life when I did, but I’ve grown. And so should the rest of the world.
We all love different teams, but we should all love the game more. So let me take this opportunity to congratulate the New York Yankees on their World Series victory in 2009. It was well deserved and I hope to see a rematch in 2010.
Now, on to the 2009-2010 off-season.
I’ve been glued to ESPN and ESPN.com the last two weeks waiting to see what would happen with Roy Halladay much like I did mid-season when the possibility first rose. This is something Yankees fans might not be able to identify with since this is common occurrence in NY; but in Philadelphia, the possibility of acquiring someone like Roy Halladay is like Neil Armstrong landing on the moon. It just doesn’t happen that often. If at all.
It didn’t happen in July, but we ended up with Cliff Lee and he was nothing short of amazing in red pin-stripes. From the first time he put on that #34 jersey against San Francisco, Philadelphia was in love. The rest speaks for itself.
Now the rumors came up again regarding Halladay and again, this isn’t something I’m used to. Late Monday afternoon I saw the ESPN ticker go across the screen that the Phillies had agreed to a trade, time stood still… Then, the ticker completed, and I found out that Cliff Lee was then traded to Seattle. My heart sank.
We went from having arguably the best 1-2 rotation in baseball, to the Roy Halladay we’ve coveted since last June. Since late October, there has not been a bigger celebrity in Philadelphia than Cliff Lee. He’s everything the city wants in the pro athlete. He doesn’t talk smack, he doesn’t make empty guarantees, he just plays. If you’re not sure, go search YouTube for a clip of Lee catching a Johnny Damon pop-up in game 1 of the world series and watch him calmly step back onto the rubber and prepare for the next pitch.
I’m not going to lie… man-crush.
Now he’s a Mariner. He literally could not be any further away from us.
It’s awesome to have Roy Halladay who is widely considered to be the best pitcher in baseball by everyone who has an opinion. His stats in the last 2 seasons are marginally better than Cliff Lee and he’s been doing it in the AL East against the Yankees and Red Sox. He has the makings to be everything Cliff Lee was and more, but still, Philadelphia is left wanting.
I don’t like the position he’s in now. Philadelphia does not quickly forget. Lee was only a Philly for 3 months but it felt like he belonged. He was one of us. I have the eerie feeling that every pitch Halladay makes will be compared to Lee’s. That’s Philadelphia.
I’m not Reuben Amaro, and I suppose it’s a good thing because I’m much more impulsive. I would have looked at the opportunity to have Lee and Halladay in the same uniform and not given a crap how bare the cupboard was. I would have done everything possible to sign Lee to an extension and keep Cliff and Doc in Philly for the next 4-5 years. Lee-Halladay-Hamels. That spells unstoppable.
Reuben said that his job was to put a championship caliber team on the field every year beyond 2010. I agree. But Reuben, your tenure as GM of the Phillies will not be measured in how many years your “could have” won the world series, it will be measured in how many years you did. 2008 belongs to Pat Gillick. You had the opportunity to, in essence, lock in a trip to the 2010 series, and have a great shot at winning it, and you balked. All because you wanted a couple of guys who might be good players 4 or 5 years from now.
In my book, that’s a bad trade. I see your reasoning and I don’t disagree with your job description. I’m glad you want to win year in and year out. But in Philadelphia, we don’t just want to be competitive, we want parades down Broad Street.
The Yankees gave Joe Girardi number 27 because they wanted a 27th championship and they got it. Roy Halladay will wear 34, which happens to be the number of the guy he’s inevitable replacing. They should have given him #3.
/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
Michael Wilbon, co-host of ‘Pardon the
Interruption’ (ESPN – 5:30PM EST) is my favorite sports writer in the world. He
tells it like it is, doesn’t shy away from his north-side Chi-town allegiance
and he isn’t afraid to get to the heart of the issue. His opinions are justified
and he always seems to look at the big picture.
Most of the time, I agree with him.
This time, however, I do not.
Last week, when the Yankees signed CC
Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, a topic was brought up by the president of the
Florida Marlins, David Samson. He is quoted as saying that the Yankees’
offseason strategies are ridiculous and giving CC Sabathia a $161 million
contract is a bad move for the franchise. Both Michael Wilbon and his co-host,
Tony Kornheiser, bashed Samson for this statement and said that the Yankees’
duty (hehehe… duty) is to the fans, and as such, thir responsibility is to put
the best team on the field.
HOLD ON A MINUTE!
I may be a young man, but I have been around
baseball my whole life. Yes, the Yankees loyalty should be to the fans and to
some extent, it is; on the surface, at least. Yankess fans love it when they
sign a brand new all-star free agent who is romanticized as being the savior of
the franchise and will bring them back to their winning ways. From this
perspective, yes, the loyalty is to the fans.
But lets look at this from a different
So far this off-season, the Yankees have
spent, let’s see: $161 million + $82.5 million ÷ 5, carry the…………….. = about
$242.5 million over the next 5 – 6 years. Couple that with the new stadium they
just build (which there was no real reason for except to bring more attention
to them) and you have something along the lines of $1.8 BILLION. That’s… a lotta
meatballs, some may say.
Where, pray tell, do you think this money is
coming from? The Steinbrenners? HA! They may tell you that, but where does it
really come from?
You guessed it. YOU GUYS!
How, Michael, is this activity in loyalty to
the fans who filled the OLD Yankee Stadium for the last 80 years? While ticket
prices, hot dog prices, beer prices, foam finger prices, cotton candy prices,
and souvenir prices will certainly rise, where does this put your everyday fan
who just so happens to be in the middle of a recession right now?
In Philly, we’re sweating over ticket price increases of $10-$15. I would hate to see what’s going to happen in the Bronx.
Nice work, Hal… You too, Hank!
Give me a break. The Yankees care nothing
about the fans, only that they spend their money to come watch the team. What
the Steinbrenners care about is ego; nothing else.
If they really cared about the fans, they
wouldn’t have four players making an excess of $20 million a season. If they
really cared about the fans, they would hire someone who knows how to build a
TEAM. Any idiot can write big checks and offer the world to whoever happens to
be the best on the market that winter, but it takes a true baseball mind to
build a championship team. The Yankees front office collectively doesn’t have
half the baseball knowledge of this man.
Since 2000 (The last Yankee championship):
Arizona, Anaheim, Florida, Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia
have all won championships as a TEAM. A concept lost in New York City.
This is not a new concept, though. The Yankees just don’t want to learn. Just look at USA Basketball from 1999 – 2007. If you read down the roster, there was more talent on the Team USA Baseketball team than the rest of the world teams combined. They were all-stars, all of them. But they weren’t a team and thereby failed. They couldn’t play as a team until they were forced to at least practice together for three years, and even then, had to rally late against Spain to win the gold.
I want to root for the Yankees. I really do.
For everything they were in the past and everything they meant to baseball.
They were America’s team back then, and made baseball fans out of a lot of
Now, the Yankees represent everything wrong
with baseball and everything baseball shouldn’t be. As much of a fan of a
Yankees I want to be, I can’t. I can’t because I’m too much of a fan of the
sport of baseball, and everything baseball SHOULD be.
I’d like to start by wishing everyone on MLBlogs a Merry Christmas, no matter what race, religion or nationality you may be.
My father is a Methodist Minister (one of the best in the state of Pennsylvania) so the religious aspects of Christmas were never a wonder to me. I was taught well what Christmas means in that respect. As I grow older, however, I have come to realize the true scope of this holiday season and how some of that may be lost in all the commotion.
I watched a good part of a movie this Saturday called “Christmas With The Kranks” starring our favorite Santa Claus impersonator, Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis. In short, the movie is about a middle-aged couple who wants to “skip” Christmas one year and take a break from all the hassle, all the traditions and all the stress. What caught my attention during the movie the most was the way their neighbors reacted. The couple was shunned from the community for not taking part in a holiday season that is riddled with what had become meaningless traditions. Boy Scouts (**cough** **cough** – Scott Boras) jack up prices on christmas trees, neighborhood children throw snowballs at their un-decorated house and neighbors try to pressure them into a change of heart.
What has happened to people? What has happened to Christmas?
I was unable to catch the end of the movie, but I can imagine it was a heart-warming, cookie-cutter type conclusion where someone makes a Linus-like holiday speech and everyone drinks egg nog together. Hollywood? Yes. Reality? NO!
What amazes me day-in and day-out is how horrible the whole of humanity has become. We treat each other with such bitterness and hatred which is completely unwarranted. Life has become nothing but a competition which no one can win because no one is playing by the same set of rules.
Life has apparently become a football player standing at home-plate trying to hit a basketball with a hockey stick.
Christmas was always a time of year when we could all forget about the everyday struggles of life. A time when we could all curl up on the couch with our loved ones, our friends or even our pets and just appreciate this forgotten gift we all call life.
We all-too-often forget the importance of life itself. We treat it like a sprint: First one to die with lots of money wins!
This is a concept I struggle with constantly and I don’t see any end in sight. I fear this holiday season will turn out to be a blood-feud with every other shopper at the mall over the last pink iPod.
I almost cried when I heard about the poor man who was trampled to death by a mob of Wal-Mart shoppers who then refused to leave the store while his body was taken away. I have never been so disgusted with my fellow man. When this happens, all we teach our children is that material posession is worth more than life, and that Chistmas is about presents under a tree.
So I urge you, wherever you may live, whatever religion (or lack thereof) you are, or whoever you love; appreciate this time we have together. I have always believed life is like baseball. When people forgot to appreciate the game, it was well on the path to being taken away. Only when that became a real possibility did anyone do anything. With baseball, we have that luxury. In life, we do not.
While baseball sleeps, enjoy Christmas for all it is worth. Not just a religious celebration, but a short time of year where we can appreciate all that we have instead of lusting after what we don’t. Give a gift to someone you love that shows how much you love them instead of how much money you have. Treat Christmas the way it should be treated, before it’s too late.
/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
Evening, boys and girls!
for one, am incredibly bored right now. I’m sure there is a lot going on behind
the scenes across every MLB front office but so far, not much has gone
publicly. This is for a number of reasons, the primary reason being the
arbitration deadline that will take place Monday night at midnight. Most teams
are waiting for that deadline to pass before making any decisions on free agents.
player that would sign before the deadline is technically eligible for
arbitration as well as draft compensation. According to league rules, “A” tier
players that sign during arbitration will technically allow for a transfer of
two draft picks from the player’s new team to the player’s old team. (1 pick
for a “B” tier player).
my calendar, I really don’t think there will be any moves worth writing about
until after the deadline and the December 8-11 winter GM meetings. This is
going to be an important year for a lot of ball clubs and it is showing in the
mass-hesitation we’ve seen thus far.
Yankees have missed the playoffs for the first time in what seems like forever,
and the division was taken by the Tampa Bay Rays. Is this a fluke? Or have the
Rays really arrived? Can the Yankees turn it around immediately? Or are they in
a – gasp – rebuilding period?
winter there seems to be one or two big-time free agents on the market and
everyone watches the MLB.com front page to see where they end up. This year,
though, it would appear that almost every team – no matter what their 2008
outcome was – could go from pretender to contender and vice versa. It will be
one great winter to watch, and with every move my anticipation for April 5th
will rise and rise.
pass the time, here’s a suggestion I have for my beloved Phillies.
heard me right.
I am a Philadelphia Phillies fan but I can’t stand the Eagles. If you look at
the numbers, Donovan McNabb is the best quarterback in Eagles history despite
having no one worth mentioning to throw to except for T.O. in 2004. He has a
cannon for an arm, and while he sometimes has an off-night, he’s still a great
here’s my suggestion: Switch careers and move across South Street to Citizens
Bank Park and we’ll put him in the bullpen. I would assume he could throw in
the mid to high 90’s judging by the bullets he throws at the Link, so if someone
could teach him a good changeup, I think we could have a decent relief pitcher.
about it. This is a great career move for him. The Eagles are the worst run
team in football coupled with psychotic fans. He’s blamed for everything that
goes wrong with the team. Who would want to play like that?
red pin-stripes, the combination of Carlos Ruiz and Chris Coste would be the
best receivers he’s ever worked with. He wouldn’t face all the blame in a loss,
either. He would come in for an inning or two every so often and throw hard,
that’s it. No plays to memorize, no miscommunications, and the best part? THERE ARE NO TIES IN BASEBALL!
sounds like a great move to me. But what do I know? I’m just a baseball writer.
/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
I realize now that it’s
after midnight on the east coast so it’s technically not Thanksgiving anymore
but I’m going to go ahead with this post anyway.
Thanksgiving was always a day that put things into perspective for me year
after year. Lately, my turkey days have been about driving to Philadelphia from
Reading, enjoying dinner with the family that I rarely see followed my a nice
drive home in the dark to work early the next morning.
This year is no different in that respect but I did take a moment or two to
take a look around and think about what this world has come to on a day where
we are all technically supposed to be giving “thanks” to what we
This year, America was introduced to an idiot…
Three if you count the guy
in the background slaughtering a turkey while looking for some ill-advised
But that’s not really my point. I just wanted to point out that Sarah Palin and
Glenn Beck (and the turkey farmer) are idiots.
We’re entering into a holiday season that is projected to be rough. Jobs are
scarce, loans are down, the economy is bad and companies all over the country
are just trying to figure out a way to get us to spend money we really don’t
want to spend. Instead of exchanging gifts with everyone, my family is doing a
The outlook is dim. America right now is like the Royals in September; do we
trade away our assets and hope to rebuild for next season? or do we bring up
some of our better prospects and try to make a run at becoming a playoff
In baseball, there’s always next season, but America doesn’t have that luxury.
While some see turmoil, however, I see opportunity.
I see the opportunity to take a step back and look at what we’ve got right in
front of us instead of lusting over what we don’t have. I see opportunity to
take a new path in how we go about our everyday lives. I look around and I see
a country that has become infatuated with money, possessions, and power while
emphasis is all but lost on the one thing I think matters most. Family.
I have a great family. There’s always someone there to talk to, to ask for
advice, to be a shoulder to cry on. It’s easy to lose perspective on what’s
really important. It’s no flashy, it’s not cool and it doesn’t pay the bills.
We’re all guilty of it at one time or another. So while everything that takes
away from those we love is in financial distress, maybe we can take the chance
to find out what we’ve missed.
It’s always been my philosophy to believe that everything happens for a reason.
And even that which seems insurmountable may be just be the perfect chance to
explore the unexplored.
To quote Benjamin Franklin (hometown hero!): “Every obstacle is an
opportunity in disguise.”