Thursday, November 22, 2007

This Is How Bonds Career Ends Not With A Bang But With A Whimper

How sad is it for the "National Pastime" that two record holders of two of the most important categories in MLB could be banned from Cooperstown? Pete Rose of course was deemed ineligible by the late MLB Commissioner Bart Giamatti for betting on games. How much do you think that current Commissioner Bud Selig is salivating over the prospects of banning his personal nemesis Barry Bonds from Baseball? And of course that would mean that the men who hold the records for most hits, and most home runs would be banned from Baseball Valhalla.

When the indictment came down on November 15, charging Bonds with perjury, and obstruction of justice, his playing days came to an end. Remember he is a free agent no team has any financial, legal, ethical, or moral obligations to him. He is adrift in a very unkind sea, that is highly unlikely to give him any solace. With these charges hanging over Bonds head no team in the Majors will have any thing to do with him. The players union can't help him, saying it's collusion, that dog won't hunt. No team is obliged to even meet with him.

As I have written often over the last ten months, Bonds is a product of the times, and his own worst enemy. To think that Bonds was some sort of exception in that he allegedly used performance enhancing substances is delusional. Not even the biggest Baseball loyalist in the world would buy that. No, as I said he is a product of the times, if not encouraged by MLB certainly not discouraged strongly enough. I have made this point before, if not for Canseco's book there would be no stronger steroid prohibitions in MLB than there was in 2002. But Canseco's book got Congress involved, who told Selig and Donald Fehr to get their house in order or they would do it for them. Just like magic tougher and more stringent rules were put in place.

But, as I also just wrote Bonds is own worst enemy. As much as athletes, and many members of the public feel the "Media" is one faceless homogeneous glob it's not true. We are depicted as soulless vampires who derive pleasure in reporting controversy. Now don't get me wrong, there are some members of my profession that fit that description. But as a whole most of us are just hard working people that just want to do our jobs in as pleasant environment as possible. Which would you rather go into a NFL locker room of a team that just won, or a team that just got their heads handed to them? Granted, I have gotten some of my best interviews after losses, but the tension in any Pro locker room after a loss is palpable. You are dealing with highly competitive athletes who are pumped with testosterone. Woe be that reporter that asks that stupid question, they will be lit up like a Christmas Tree!

Most of us who have covered the NFL, MLB, and the NBA, have formed good working relationships with athletes we cover on a daily basis. We are people with emotions and feelings just as they are. Treat me right, and I am the best friend you will ever have. But if you treat me wrong, watch your back. I believe most people are like that and respond in kind, Barry Bonds does not fit into that group.

The one word that best describes Barry Bonds in my mind is surly. He seems to have a permanent sneer on his face and always has a defensive look in his eye, as if he is ready to pounce. He who lives by the sword dies by the sword, and Bonds is feeling that blade's effects now. Ty Cobb, could be a racist piece of crud back at the turn of the last century. He would never be able to get away with that vile behavior in the days of ESPN, and the Internet. What we reap we sow, and Barry Bonds crops look like poison ivy.

© Copyright 2007

Torii Signs With Halos

USA Today is reporting that free agent center fielder Torii Hunter has signed a 5 year deal with the Los Angeles Angels. The paper says the information was conveyed to them through Hunter's agent, Larry Reynolds. According to the reports the deal for the former Minnesota Twins player is worth $90 million over the five year pact. The Angels have had a busy week, earlier trading shortstop Orlando Cabrera to the Chicago White Sox for starter Jon Garland. Hunter during the 2007 campaign hit .287 with 28 home runs and 107 RBI. Reportedly Hunter was courted by the White Sox, the Texas Rangers, and the Kansas City Royals, but chose to take the Angels pact. Hunter maybe most personified the turnaround of the Minnesota Twins during the early part of the decade. The Twins went from a team that was a candidate for being being dissolved to a playoff team. Minnesota has a young talented center fielder at their Triple A franchise in Rochester, Denard Span, but the team was not excited about season he had in 2007.

© Copyright 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Rollins Named National League MVP

MLB has announced that Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins has been named the National League MVP for the 2007 campaign. Rollins is the second consecutive Philadelphia player to win the award. Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard won the award in 2006. Rollins withstood a lot of criticism from many corners by saying before the season that he expected the Phillies to be the team to beat in the N.L. East. The New York Mets had won the division in 2006, and led for most of the 2007 season. But a combination of a Philadelphia surge and a New York collapse got the Phillies the title.

Rollins won the award in the closest contest in 16 years. He beat out Colorado Rockies left fielder Matt Holiday by a vote of 353-336. Rollins received 16 first place votes while Holliday captured 11 first place ballots. Rollins was the first shortstop in the National League to win the MVP since Barry Larkin won the award in 1995. Rollins also was awarded the NL Gold Glove at shortstop, Larkin and Dodgers legend Maury Wills are the only two other shortstops to win both awards the same year.

© Copyright 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A-Rod Wins Third MVP Award

MLB announce Monday what the world of Baseball had known for months, Alex Rodriguez was named the American League MVP. Rodriguez who had a career year, helped propel the New York Yankees back into contention in the pennant race, as they made the American League Playoffs as the Wild Card.

Rodriguez hit .316 had 54 home runs and 156 RBI. It was the third year out of the last five A-Rod has won the award. He ended up with a total of 382 votes, far outdistancing runner up Detroit outfielder Magglio Ordonez, who had 258 votes. Angels star Vladimir Guerrero finished third, and then two Boston players David Ortiz and Mike Lowell rounded out the top five.

Rodriguez is still in negotiations with the New York Yankees on a new contract, after opting out of his old deal during the World Series. Both sides say talks are progressing in a positive manner.

© Copyright 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Peavey Wins NL Cy Young

When MLB announced on Tuesday, that Cleveland Indians starter CC Sabathia was the American League's Cy Young Award winner, former Indians pitcher and MLB Hall of Fame Bob Feller was asked for his thoughts. Feller said he was very impressed. Feller told the reporter that he had never in spite of all his accomplishments in the Big Leagues won a Cy Young Award. Feller then said "Cy Young never won a Cy Young award either."

Well Jake Peavey of the San Diego Padres has won a Cy Young award, MLB announced on Thursday. Not only did he win it, he was the unanimous choice by the BBWA winning all 32 first place votes. The last time that occurred was in 2002 as the Big Unit Randy Jonson got all 32 while pitching for Arizona. Peavey led the National League in wins with 19, strikeouts with with 240, and his 2.54 ERA was a league best as well. Peavey's Padres were eliminated in a one day playoff for the Wild Card spot by the Colorado Rockies. Arizona Diamonbacks starter Brandon Webb, finished second, L.A. Dodgers Brad Penny came in third, and Cincinnati's Aaron Harang finished fourth in the voting.

© Copyright 2007

Wedge And Melvin Named Managers of the Year

MLB has announce that Arizona Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin and Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge have been named respectively National League and American League Managers of the Year. Melvin took a team that was in last place in the National League West in 2006, to Division Champions in 2007. The Diamondbacks were eliminated in the N.L.C.S. by the Colorado Rockies. Melvin received 119 votes to win the award by a comfortable margin, his nearest competitor was Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel who finished with 76 votes. Colorado Rockies manager Clint Hurdle whose team finished as the Wild card winner came in third place while Lou Piniella, in his first year managing the Chicago Cubs came in fourth.

Wedge won the award with 116 votes over Angels manager Mike Scioscia who had 62 votes. Former Yankees manager, now L.A. Dodgers manager Joe Torre finished third while World Series Champion Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona finished in fourth place. If John Wayne was ever a MLB manager he would have been Eric Wedge. When Cleveland Indians General Manager Mark Shapiro first started talking about then Triple A Buffalo Bisons manager Eric Wedge in the fall of 2002 when he was a candidate for the parent club's vacant field boss job, the words dynamic and intense came up a lot. Those words still apply. Wedge can say more with a glare or a raised eyebrow than most people could say in a 10 minute monologue. He treats people as individuals, yet realizes, no part is greater than the whole. The word TEAM means a lot to Eric Wedge, a philosophy he has stressed since day one. That is why the Cleveland Indians this year are playing better than the sum of their collective parts. Because of Wedge's team concept. I had the pleasure of covering "Skip" as I called him for four seasons, he is one of the most impressive people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

© Copyright 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

C.C. Wins American League Cy Young Award

I have known Cleveland Indians starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia since his rookie year in 2001. I have watched this young man grow up in front of me as I covered him for 81 home games from his rookie year through the 2006 season. I covered one series this season, as the Indians took on the Atlanta Braves. CC and I had an interview which is on this site

I predicted back in February of this year on our sister site that Sabathia would win 20 games in the 2007 campaign. Because of lack of offensive support, Sabathia did not fulfill my prediction, even though he could easily have had 24 victories. But C.C. ended up with two prizes that were sweeter than 20 victories. He helped lead the Cleveland Indians all the way to the 7th game of the A.L.C.S., and Tuesday MLB named him the winner of the 2007 Ameican League Cy Young Award.

C.C. beat out Red Sox starter Josh Beckett for the award by a large margin, he had 19 first place votes and 119 votes in total. Beckett received 8 first place votes and a total of 86 votes. Sabathia went 19-7 his best year in the Majors. As I wrote at the beginning of this piece, I have known C.C. since he was a rookie. He represents everything that is good about Sports, he's a team player, he's humble, and most importantly he is a good man. Congratulations C.!

© Copyright 2007

Braun & Pedroia Named Rookies Of The Year

MLB have named Milwaukee Brewers Ryan Braun third baseman the National League Rookie of the Year. They also named Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia as the American League Rookie of the year. Pedroia, of course was a member of the team that won the 2007 World Series.
Braun won the award in the closest vote ever as he beat out Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki by just 2 votes 128-126. Braun hit .324 with 34 home runs, and a .623 slugging percentage. He lead all rookies in home runs.
Pedroia bounced back from a terrible month of April to win the award. He hit an anemic .182 in April but finished the campaign with a .317 batting average. Pedroia accumulated 132 votes, he beat out Tampa Bay Devil Rays rightfielder Delmon Young. Pedroia won by a much larger margin than his N.L. counterpart, getting 132 votes to Young's 56.

© Copyright 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Bo-Sox Sign Schilling For 2008

The World Series Champions Boston Red Sox have signed veteran pitcher Curt Schilling for a one year contract for the 2008 campaign. Schilling signed a one year pact with Boston reported to be for $8 million, but could possibly be worth as much as another $5 million in incentives and bonuses. There was much speculation that Schilling pitched his final game for Boston during the Red Sox victorious sweep of the Colorado Rockies in the Series. Boston is now in talks with free agent third baseman Mike Lowell who was the MVP in the World Series for the Red Sox.

© Copyright 2007

Monday, November 05, 2007

Dodgers Make It Official Torre Manager

The Los Angeles Dodgers Monday for the first time in the almost 50 years the franchise has been in L.A. held a press conference in center field in Dodgers Stadium. It was also the first time that Los Angeles had ever hired a high profile manager, as former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre was officially hired as Dodgers manager.

The press conference concluded a chaotic week for the Dodgers organization, as rumours of first Joe Girardi, and the Torre surfaced as the new Los Angeles manager. There was only one problem, the Dodgers had a manager that was give public assurance that he would be back. But Grady Little who had spent two seasons as the Dodgers manager did not need a rock to fall on him to tell him he was not wanted. He resigned from the position last week calling it a "mutual resignation."

Torre said he was feeling very emotional as he was introduced to the media and the fans of Los Angeles. He also said that he believed the "Dodgers were always special and I certainly expect the Dodgers will always be special." He said that he had not slept at all the previous night.

© Copyright 2007

John Russell New Pirates Skipper

Two years ago John Russell was fired as third base coach of the Pittsburgh Pirates, a casualty of a regime change as the Bucs fired manager Lloyd McClendon. Pittsburgh hired former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Jim Tracy to take over as bench boss, but he was let go at the end of the season that just ended. Monday must have felt like Deja-Vu for Russell as he was brought back to the Pirates, this time as manager.

Russell who managed the Ottawa Lynx in the International League the past two seasons, was excited to be back in Pittsburgh. It was the first major hire by new Pirates General Manager Neil Huntington who came over to the Bucs from the Cleveland Indians organization. Russell believes that the Pirates have a good core of players and they are not far away from winning. That would certainly be good news to fans of the Pirates, a team that has not had a winning season since 1992.

© Copyright 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Torre Named As Dodgers Manager

The Associated Press announced Thursday that the Los Angeles Dodgers have hired Joe Torre to be their new manager. The report says that the former Yankee skipper has agreed to a three year deal for $13 million. The report also says that his bench coach with New York Don Mattingly will be going to Los Angeles as well as part of his staff. Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda speaking for team owner Frank McCourt said that the team was excited by the hiring. Torre turned down a one year incentive laden contract to remain with the Yankees last month. He will be introduced as the manager of the Dodgers on Monday. Next year the team will be celebrating their 50th anniversary in Los Angeles. The team moved from Brooklyn, New York where there still remain grieving fans.
© Copyright 2007

RedBirds Name Mozeliak As New G.M.

The ST. Louis Cardinals announced Wednesday that they have filled their vacant General Manager position with a very familiar face. They have named former assistant G.M. John Mozeliak to take over from his former boss Walt Jocketty. The 38 year old Mozeliak had been Jocketty's assistant for the last five years, he was given a three year pact. The Cardinals did interview outside candidates for the job, Chris Antonetti who is assistant General Manager for the Indians, Rick Hahn from Colorado, and Peter Woodfork from the D-Backs. Mozeliak has been with ST. Louis for the last 12 years holding a variety of positions within the organization.
© Copyright 2007

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