Baseball season is slowly drawing upon us, and thank goodness! It's felt like a particularly long winter with no major league baseball, but that's all soon to change. However, with the the final free agents being signed, and the last spring training invites going out, there loom a few questions and villains in the baseball world.
Let's take a look at who are the biggest villains following the 2011 season, as well as this offseason; who are those players that will be facing the wrath of the fans once they step onto the diamond?
Ryan Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers star outfielder, certainly struck out this offseason. In case you missed it, in December it was revealed that Braun had tested positive for a banned substance during the outset of the playoffs. If found to be true, the panel has not given a verdict on his appeal yet, Braun would face a 50-game suspension.
To make matters worse, Braun had a breakout year in 2011 (yes he had put up good numbers before this season but none to match what he did in 2011) and was awarded the MVP trophy, which he accepted in New York at the Baseball Writers Association of America banquet.
This is also bad news for baseball as the performance enhancing substance issue continues to rear its ugly head. Braun had been developed and brought up under the tougher drug rules by MLB; the fact that a star player, produced during the tougher sanctions period, who just won the MVP, was found to have a banned substance during testing is just about as bad as it could get.
From a personal standpoint, I was not surprised to hear Braun had tested positive for a banned substance. Anyone who knows me knows that I didn't believe in Braun last season as I would constantly recite the fact that he seemed to be losing his power since from 2007-2010 his HR total was declining each year. The spike in his HR, BA, OBP and SB just seemed out of place to me.
Furthermore, I'd also like to say that it is my personal opinion that his MVP titled should be stripped from him. I know this will never happen but he shouldn't keep it. They didn't, and never will do it, but I wish MLB would take it from him.
The question remains how will Braun bounce back. Whether he returns at the beginning of the season or in the middle of it after a suspension, what will the 2012 season look like? For all you fantasy players out there, I'd be concerned; especially since Fielder won't be there to bat behind him this year.
No question about it, Braun went from a hero and poster child for the MLB to a villain and is positioned to be made an example of. MLB certainly doesn't want to give the appearance they have dropped the ball on their policies again so expect the repercussions on Braun to be big.
We'll see what the verdict with Braun is soon enough.
Or should I say Roberto Hernandez Heredia and Juan Carlos Oviedo...
Both of these men were found to have falsified documents so that they could play professional baseball in the United States. Unfortunately for the both, they were caught this offseason.
Oviedo (Nunez) also recently agreed to a $6 million contract with the Miami Marlins, however, he needs to actually come back to the U.S. and play to get paid. Both Oviedo and Heredia (Carmona) are stuck in the Dominican Republic while the legal process continues.
Heredia also was found to have lied about his age; stating that he was three years younger than he actually was.
If, or when, either of these two men return to the States and professional baseball they will almost certainly be seen as villains (and rightfully so). The false identification is a big fear with organizations these days and lying about one's age is also another major concern; they should not be let off the hook for their actions.
Dodgers infielder James Loney was arrested for suspicion of DUI in November. It was reported that his Maserati had hit three other cars while driving on the California freeway.
The report went on to say that Loney was found passed out; after he regained consciousness he tried to leave but instead was arrested and given a blood test.
It's always sad when you see professional athletes behaving like this, especially since they are role models to so many children. It's even more unfortunate that this type of charge is not uncommon with professional players.
It is important to note that just recently the spokesman for the City Attorney's office in Los Angeles said the charges were dropped because of insufficient evidence.
ManRam is trying to make a comeback! If you recall, Manny retired back in April of last year when it was revealed that he had tested positive for PED (performance-enhancing drugs).
Currently he is in negotiations with teams, the A's and Orioles have been most closely linked with Ramirez. If he does land a job then Manny will still have to serve a 50-game suspension before he can actually play for that team. This is because he retired before ever serving any of his suspension in 2011.
I used to love Manny; his antics were fresh and entertaining. However over the years his antics became more childish and pathetic until I had no positive feelings left for him. Now, with his return after running when he was caught cheating with banned substances, I certainly will not be rooting for him.
It's bad enough to cheat, but then to run when you get caught, too? Pathetic. Some will say well, yes, he ran but he will still serve his suspension. True. Personally, though, I'd like to see his suspension increased.
These two may be more regional, however, I can assure you the fans in both LA and New York are none-to-happy with either of these owners right now.
McCourt is currently in the process of selling his team and, the way things seem to be going, it may not be too long before the Wilpons have to follow suit. Regardless, both these owners have driven away fans as their teams crumbled into the sea of disappointment.
The feeling in L.A. is the fans are happy to see McCourt go and are looking forward to getting a new owner, while the Mets' fans are hoping to see the Wilpon family run out-of-town, as it seems they've overstayed their welcome with fans.
Personally, I'd like to see the Wilpon family out, although they are very close with Bud Selig, the Commissioner of Baseball. Also, I'd be very excited to see Mark Cuban buy the Dodgers. I'm guessing the other owners would never allow it because they wouldn't want somebody like him in the sport, but wouldn't it be fun for the fans? Oh yeah, it would!
I'm happy to report that Carl Crawford has neither been found to have created a false identity nor has he tested positive for banned substances; but he's certainly not favorite to Boston fans right now.
While Crawford has not been accused of doing anything morally or legally wrong, the Red Sox Nation cannot be happy with his performance last year. Plain and simple, Crawford stunk it up. After receiving such a big contract he didn't even come close to living up to expectations.
Thus, Crawford is going to be a villain this year until he turns it around. And you can bet that if the Red Sox start to slip people will be looking to Crawford as a focal point for it.
Carl: My advice is to get out of your own head! Get back to basics and start being patient at the plate. And for God's sake, stop reading the newspapers!
Although retired from professional baseball, Roger Clemens, aka The Rocket, will certainly be a hot topic this baseball season as it is the first time his name can appear on the baseball Hall of Fame ballot.
As we all know, Clemens has been in the midst of many trials for perjury and has come under a lot of scrutiny and analysis for the suspicion of using performance-enhancing drugs. His name being on the ballot will be one of the first major players who was mixed up in the PED culture to be on the ballot. (Yes there were others already, however, none as big as Roger Clemens. He was a no-doubter if the PED issue never arose).
Of course he seems to have some still left in the tank and, if he returned, the talk of the Hall of Fame ballot would be tabled. But a return would certainly open up other cans of worms and still leave Clemens as a villain.