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On Philly Fan Getting Tasered

May 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Think about this. You’re at a ballgame. You’re cheering on your favorite team. Everything is going well as you’re enjoying your experience.

Then, a fan decides to run onto the field. At first, you laugh. Maybe you encourage the unruly fan as he runs around the field, eluding security.

After a few seconds of nonsense you expect security to take him down and walk him off the field.

But wait. instead of the typical tackle and escort. Security pulls out the taser.

[record scratch]

Cheers quickly turned into boos as this series of events is precisely what happened at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

Check out the video here

At first, many cried foul.

To be honest, it isn’t the kind of history a sports team wants to make.

But I have three words: It’s about time.

It is definitely hard to sound unbiased here, especially since Philadelphia’s sports fans already have a bad reputation, but the fact that it happened there is simply a matter of unfortunate coincidence.

Frankly, this should have started happening a long time ago. There is no doubt in my mind that this event will cause a paradigm shift when it comes to trespassing fans.

The fan, a 17-year-old high school student, was not under the influence.

His intentions, like other fans who decide to run onto the field, were probably not malicious. But one thing is for sure, it is better to be proactive than reactive.

Categories: Around the league

Keeping Up With the Uptons

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment

One is lanky, the other stocky.

One is graceful, the other powerful.

But for B.J. and Justin Upton, 25 and 22, respectively, that’s about where the differences end.

And unlike the Gwynn brothers, the Maddux brothers, the Guerrero brothers and even the Martinez brothers, the Uptons both have superstar and even hall of fame potential. Justin is poised to be an MVP any year now, and B.J.’s play in center field is third only to Franklin Gutierrez and Mike Cameron. I’ve been lucky enough to witness some of his dazzling catches live and can’t imagine anyone being better than he.

Though both have been criticized for their lack of maturity at times, their raw talent is undeniable. They were both drafted for their 5-tool potential, which they have achieved at the major league level.

Let’s cut them a little slack, too. Don’t forget that they both made their major league debuts at just 19 years of age. And that’s just the start of their striking similarities.

Both Uptons were first-round draft picks, B.J. was the second overall pick by the Devil Rays in 2002, then Justin the first overall pick by Arizona in 2005. They are the only set of brothers in baseball history to both be selected so high. And they were both infielders–both shortstops–but they were a little too raw to succeed as professionals, so they were both converted to outfielders. Hardly a bad decision.

Both had tremendous hype, Jason Heyward like. Both were touted to lead in their respective team’s upcoming crop of players, which included other hyped names like Stephen Drew (Diamondbacks) and Delmon Young (Rays), also first-rounders as well as brothers of major leaguers, albeit underachieving ones.

Most impressive of all, both B.J. and Justin Upton could have pursued professional football careers, but they both chose baseball. Their choosing America’s favorite pastime was no accident though, as their passion for baseball was as strong as their talent.

And it was a passion that started early. Their baseball careers have lasted as long as they’ve been alive. They’ve always been there for each other and have constantly encouraged each other to be the best that they can be. Even though they now drive Cadillacs and are financially set for life, they are hardly satisfied.

They’ve both had their breakout seasons, B.J. at 22 and Justin at 21. Though B.J. has struggled since, you can bet that the six-year, $51.25 million contract given to his younger brother as well as the comments of Justin having more upside will serve as his inspiration to bounce back.

Now, finally free from injury, B.J. is off to a great start for the 2010 season. One of my (not so) bold predictions was that he would be the first 30-30 player in Rays history.

And for which one is better? That’s only for time to decide. The sky is the limit for both of these guys, and watching them as they flourish in the majors will be nothing short of special.

The Greatest Day of the Year

April 5, 2010 1 comment

Opening day is here, and I have made a few observations.

    1. The Red Sox will have no problem scoring runs.
    2. The Reds are still too immature to win.
    3. Jason Heyward is the real deal.
    4. Following Ozzie Guillen on Twitter isn’t as satisfying as I thought it would be.
    5. Albert Pujols wastes no time making his case for his 3rd MVP in a row
    6. Kevin Youkilis is on pace for 162 triples.
    7. Jeff Samardzijojiozdjsoja should have stuck with football.

Jay-Hey has arrived

All things aside, here are a few (not so) bold predictions for the 2010 season

Jason Heyward wins NL ROY… And NL MVP. Sorry Albert, but this guy may end your streak this year. He is a legitimate 5-tool player that has as much discipline as he does talent. Look out, world.

The AL Central will NOT be a three team race. That’s because I see the Twins running away with it. They possess what I feel is the best lineup in the American league, and they may still have the best bullpen in their division even without Joe Nathan. They also have the best manager in their division with Ron Gardenhire.

Cliff Lee flops. Yup. I said it. This guy has a lot of pressure on him, and he’s already having problems. First was the suspension, then the nagging injuries. If he does have a good year, it will come after a rough first half.

Finally, The NL West will be the most exciting playoff race come September. The AL East, AL West and NL East should all have a good three team race. But what sets the NL West apart is the possibility of a four team race. The Dodgers are ready to win their third consecutive title, and we all know what the Rockies and Giants are capable of. But don’t forget about the Diamondbacks, who have perhaps the most dynamic athlete in the league (Yes, I’m talking about Justin Upton), as well as a much improved starting rotation.

A Few More

  • Angels win the AL West again (yawn)
  • B.J. Upton goes 30-30. You watch.
  • The Orioles will play .500 ball
  • So will the Pirates
  • Youkilis will not hit 162 triples. You heard it here first.
Categories: Around the league

A Tribute to the Most Overrated Rivalry in Baseball

April 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Yes, I’m talking about the Yankees and the Red Sox. You’re probably shaking your head.

But let’s face it. The rivalry is everywhere. Whenever the two teams face off, you can bet your house and your car that every game will be televised nationally. And if that’s not enough, it will be the first highlight on SportsCenter.

I guess what I’m saying is, “Less is more.”

The rivalry has its history, i know, and the two teams have the biggest fan bases in all of baseball, I get it. but there’s no denying that some fans are getting tired of this overhyped matchup.

And now we have to watch it on opening day.

ESPN has had exclusive rights to televise the first game of the MLB season for quite some time. With all of the opening day excitement, people will tune in regardless of who is playing, and since the Yanks and Sox will get great ratings no matter what time of season, why not give some other teams the chance to have the spotlight?

Because that would make too much sense.

Now, I don’t want anyone to believe that I hate this rivalry. In fact, I believe that Yankees vs. Red Sox in September is some of the best baseball a fan will watch. What I’m saying is that this rivalry is simply not what it used to be, for a number of reasons.

I blame it on the 2003 and 2004 playoffs. This is when the rivalry reached its most recent peak. In ’03, we had the Martinez-Zimmer incident, as well as the epic game 7 in the ALCS, the game that the Red Sox spent the entire ’04 season avenging.

And did they ever. The 3-0 comeback the Red Sox pulled off in the ALCS that year is one of the best stories in the history of professional sports.

But maybe Boston’s World Series title is what put the dagger in the rivalry for fans like myself.

For years, fans wanted to see the Red Sox break the curse. Every time they came up just short, baseball nation rooted for them that much more. When they finally won the title–and made a four year mini-dynasty, they stopped caring. And with the emergence of the Rays as a legitimate contender, the rivalry has certainly lost its charm.

I used to joke that I likes any team that beat the Yankees. Now, I say like any team that beats the Yankees–and LOVE any team the beats the Red Sox.

Categories: Around the league

Analysts Should Stop Trying to Pick Next “Worst to First” Team

April 3, 2010 Leave a comment

In 2008, the Rays made magic.

An organization that experienced nothing but futility for its first 10 years suddenly broke out, and we watched them go from the worst team in baseball to the best.

One thing is for sure, though, it didn’t happen overnight. And it prompted a new kind of debate every spring. Which is the next team to go worst to first?

photo from tampabay.com

But analysts need to realize that the ‘08 Rays club was a special case, and that many things had to fall in place for them to have the winning season that they did. Suggesting that a different team is capable to replicate that every season is silly.

There were many factors that led to Rays’ climb to the top.

It started with the name change. Now, I’m not saying that every last place team needs to change their name to have a chance, but it was no secret that the new look brought a new sense of enthusiasm and excitement.

Next was the nucleus. The Rays added veterans as well as young talent, and more importantly, got rid of problems. This led to the team chemistry needed to win consistently.

Finally, the manager. I know Joe Maddon makes his mistakes, and he is often criticized for being too loyal to certain players, but there is no question that he gets the best out of them. Maddon’s guys are motivated, and that’s a big key to his success.

When it comes to other popular “worst to first” picks, the Royals were a popular pick in ’09 and the Diamondbacks this year, they just don’t have the spark the ’08 Rays had to make such a drastic improvement.

I’m not saying that the Royals and Diamondbacks are unimproved, but it takes much more that adding a few good players to a roster.

A plethora of things had to come together for the ’08 Rays. It was a combination of great ownership, young talent and team chemistry that got the job done. Not only will they be the last team to go worst to first for a long time, they have turned themselves into a legitimate contender and are ready to get back to the top.

And for the baseball geniuses who keep trying to pick the next worst to first team, keep dreaming.

Categories: Around the league

In Baseball, 30 is the New 40.

April 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Let’s take a trip way back to 1998.

In this year, Kevin Brown was the league’s best pitcher, and would inevitably become Major League Baseball’s first $100 million player. He signed the record breaking 7 year contract at age 34.

Starting in the late 90’s up until the retirement of Barry Bonds, it was all too common for players to have their best years past 35.

We all know about Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens and others who seemed to get better with age, players who’s numbers continued to get better well after their prime.

And what do they all have in common? You guessed it. But I’m not here to be accusatory, I’m just pointing out a change in the trend.

Now that baseball is clean(ish), players are finding it difficult to find work with many teams going for the youth movement. And if they have too much pride to back up a twenty-something starter, their best option may be to take a deep pay cut, play for a losing team, and hope to get traded to a contender.

Sometimes it leaves me scratching my head.

Capable players like Jon Garland (30), Jason Marquis (31) and Orlando Hudson (32) will all enter 2010 with their third team in as many seasons. They are all coming off one of the top three years of their careers.

photo from dallasobserver.com


Hank Blalock, who is only 29(!), couldn’t even make the Tampa Bay Rays’ roster after he signed a minor league deal with the team this spring. To be fair, he had suffered a few injuries in recent years, but he seemed to bounce back in 2009, and don’t forget that he was a staple in the Rangers’ offense for quite some time.

What does this mean? That baseball players are becoming humans again. They are aging much faster, and they getting more and more fragile.

Now that we’re past the era of performance enhancing drugs, very seldom will we see another player put together a string of MVP’s in their late 30’s. And as a result, contracts like Kevin Brown’s will be few and far between.

The true telling will come when the game’s current elite start to fade and when the league’s young phenoms reach their peaks in the coming years.

Categories: Around the league