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There were SO MANY exciting stories in baseball this week it was difficult to pick only a few, but I hope that the stories that we did pick are the ones you’ll enjoy reading about!
Red Sox vs. Yankees, Oakland winning for once, steroids, and A-Rod are just some of them.
I know that everyone’s buzzing about the Red Sox and the Yankees, but I’m going to start this week by mentioning some of the other teams in the MLB that sometimes get lost in the Big Dog shuffle.
I was really excited to see the Oakland Athletics complete the sweep of the Orioles with 3-0 win. Oakland matched its longest winning streak against the Orioles at seven games and earned a three-game sweep in the final game with only two hits!
This is the A’s longest winning streak since Aug. 11-16, 2006, when they won six games in a row.
Oakland’s starting pitchers have won six straight games as well for the first time since getting eight straight victories from June 8-16, 2006.
Things are finally looking up for this team!
They usually start out poorly and then improve their performance by June, when they have the best record in MLB since 2002 in that month.
Let’s hope their winning streak continues.
Twins starter Anthony Swarzak hit A’s outfielder Aaron Cunningham square in the helmet in the fourth inning Monday night.
While the impact of it was extremely loud, it was hard not to smile once Cunningham appeared okay and got up to dust himself off. A’s trainer Steve Sayles and manager Bob Geren rushed to his side.
I can’t believe that the guy stayed in the game and ran to first base after that!
Even though he didn’t return for the remainder of the innings and was taken to the hospital with a mild concussion, he’s a trooper!
Later, Cunningham said he had a little headache, the lone remnant of the scary moment.
Be careful guys, seems like more and more pitchers are hitting guys in the head these days!
Unfortunately, power pitching led the Twins to a 10-5 win, ending A’s winning streak on Tuesday, and, on top of that, the A's Ryan Sweeney lands on the disabled list sidelined with a sprained knee.
This is Sweeney's third time on the DL over the last two seasons. He was batting .246 with two home runs and 15 RBI in 49 games with Oakland before his big meeting with Chicago's wall, remember that?
While Sweeney has already contributed at least FIVE candidates for MLB’s "play of the year" this season, he plays with such abandon that he remains an injury risk.
This is similar to what happened to Josh Hamilton; those walls are dangerous, watch out!!!
The A's have now used the DL 11 times this year with eight players there at the moment. Oakland set a club record by using the DL 25 times last year.
You’d think that because the A’s always have young players that these guys will have less of a chance of getting injured—the culprit must lie elsewhere, possibly in conditioning programs or management style.
On a good note, Evan Longoria returned to the Rays’ lineup. Since injuring a leg while running out a grounder last Tuesday, Longoria has been limited to a pair of pinch-hitting appearances against the Yankees.
He is hitting .322 with 13 homers and 55 RBI in 52 games, and he leads the AL in voting for this year’s All-Star game.
The Tampa Bay Rays have been the team that has helped raise questions about Mariano Rivera's ability to continue closing games for the New York Yankees.
However, Longoria said Rivera is still the best closer in baseball, according to the New York Daily News.
"Among the closers in the game, if I had to choose one guy, I would still want him running out there in the ninth inning," he said.
"If I was the manager, I would send him out there every day. I wasn't here when he was at the height, at the peak of his game, when every pitch he threw was 95-96 mph and cutting. The thing is, he's dropped a couple miles off his fastball, but he still puts it where he wants it...I don't really see his ability to get guys out in the ninth inning decreasing that much at all."
Does Longoria really feel this way, and do we see a blossoming Bro-mance between these two amazing athletes?
Or does Evan feel so strongly about Rivera simply because he has trouble hitting his pitches?
I think both!
I wanted to mention Raul Ibanez of the Philadelphia Phillies is very offended and mad at the suggestion in a blog that his offensive numbers could be the result of performance-enhancing drugs.
Ibanez said that he's perfectly willing to be drug tested to prove it.
"You can have my urine, my hair, my blood, my stool—anything you can test," he said, according to the report.
"I'll give you back every dime I've ever made if the test is positive," Ibanez added.
"I'll put that up against the jobs of anyone who writes this stuff," he said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
"Make them accountable. There should be more credibility than some 42-year-old blogger typing in his mother's basement. It demeans everything you've done with one stroke of the pen.”
(Did he mean keyboard?)
Ibanez, who’s 37, is off to a career-best start in his 15th major league season, his first season calling hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park home.
Ibanez is first in the National League in four offensive categories with 55 RBI, 47 runs scored, a .682 slugging percentage, and 152 total bases.
He's second in home runs with 20, just three behind his career average. He's hitting .327, a full 39 points higher than his .288 career batting average. His career slugging percentage is .491, and he's averaged 96 RBI a season.
It seems like Ibanez is having a great season, and, for someone who’s at the end of their career, this does seem out of the ordinary.
But, Ibanez is playing in the wake of the steroid era where big statistical leaps raise eyebrows and educe whispers. He's also playing in the Internet era, where those whispers can take on a life of their own.
Ibanez really shouldn’t be this defensive about this subject if he is clean.
Just brush it off man!
If you are naturally good, some 42-year-old blogger typing in his mother's basement shouldn’t get you that fired up, in my opinion.
Manny Ramirez has slowly continued to fall in voting for baseball's All Star game, which is coming up in St. Louis in July. Still fifth in NL All-Star voting, Phillie's Ibanez leads the NL outfielders followed by the Brewers Braun, Beltran of the Mets, and Soriano of the Cubs.
Ramirez recently visited and greeted with teammates and reporters Tuesday in the Dodger’s Clubhouse, which is a violation of baseball's rules regarding suspended players.
The Dodgers have been warned by the commissioner’s office to keep him out. Ramirez has continued to work out at Dodger's Stadium during his 50 game suspension and may well do a rehab stint in the minors before his return on July 3rd.
In his appearance on Tuesday, he spoke with reporters telling them he had apologized to fans, teammates, and ownership but had no plans to hold a news conference.
"I didn't kill nobody, I didn't rape nobody, so that’s it," Ramirez said.
"I'm just going to come and play the game."
I for one can't wait to see the Dodgers, who’ve been red hot incidentally since losing Ramirez, adjusting to his return.
Being Mannywood, the fans will embrace him, but his fellow players, especially the ones who stepped in his place and have stepped up their games, will they give him a welcome back party?
It will be interesting to watch.
In twitter news (when is it NOT in the news), MLB has launched its first online integration of the Draft 2009 on Twitter.
As the Draft got underway this week, fans were able to follow along every minute but also interact with draft eligible players.
It featured special tweeters, such as MLB.com Draft expert @johnathanMayoB3, serving as on-air talent for the three days of the draft.
At the twitter account @MLBdraft, fans were able to stay updated on every piece of info as it became available. The most exciting part was the online twittering of some of the top prospects in the Draft who were updating fans on their personal experiences as the draft took place.
We started following all the Draft experts, and it is very interesting to see all of their predictions and sometimes even interact with these guys.
How awesome is that!
"This may sound crazy, but I wouldn't change a thing about my path to the big leagues, I wouldn't even change the 26 tattoos that cover so much of my body, even though they're the most obvious signs of my life temporarily leaving the tracks.”
You're probably thinking bad decisions and addiction almost cost him his life and he wouldn't change anything?
"But if I hadn't gone through all the hard times, this whole story would be just about baseball. If I'd made the big leagues at 21 and made my first All Star team at 23 and done all the things expected of me, I would be a baseball player and that's it."
Those words and that attitude are two of the reasons why I like Josh Hamilton so much.
His personal story has touched so many people’s lives on and off the field, and his desire and willingness to reach out to those he knows and those he doesn't who are struggling is truly inspirational.
I only hope he won't be sidelined long with his most recent injury.
Hamilton was hurt on May 17th when he crashed into an outfield wall, making a leaping catch and tore his abdominal muscle. He has commented in the past that his immune system has been compromised by his years of abusing drugs.
Monday, he had surgery to repair the tear and is already slowly trying to get back on the field with the hopes of being ready for the All Star break.
He is currently second in voting for the American League outfield, but the Rangers also wonder about the recovery process.
"The years of drug abuse tore up my immune system pretty good," he said at the time.
"He’s such a great story," Vazquez said.
"He’s been forgiven, he has a great message, but the consequences are still there to be seen."
Our thoughts are with him for a speedy recovery.
According to the sales of this book fading very fast, no one really knows and/or cares about this book.
It was published in early May by HarperCollins with an announced first printing of 150,000. "A-Rod," the book, has sold just 16,000 copies so far, according to Nielsen BookScan.
The book sold 11,000 in its first week and then quickly faded. "A-Rod" fell off The New York Times' hardcover list of non-fiction best sellers after three weeks, peaking at No. 9 in late May.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the book ranked No. 2,904 on Amazon.com, where even James Frey's discredited memoir "A Million Little Pieces" at 1,776 is outselling it.
It’s pretty embarrassing to be outsold by James Frey, who is that guy anyway?
Just goes to show you that A-Rod is WAY overrated and not taken seriously by the baseball community, what a shame for the highest paid player in MLB!
Small update on our favorite player on decline, (or is he on the rise?) none other than Big Papi!
It looks like Ortiz’s eyesight isn’t the cause of his season-long slump (we could have told you that!).
His vision checked out “very well” during an examination Monday, and the Boston Red Sox designated hitter was given drops for dry eyes.
Papi has two homers and 22 RBI with a .197 batting average in 51 games. In his other six years with Boston, he averaged 38.5 homers and hit below .287 just once when he batted .264 in an injury-plagued 2008 season.
Despite Papi’s struggles, he’s fared much better against the Yankees (34-24). He’s 7 for 23 (.304) with a home run, seven RBI, and four runs scored in six games against them.
We have to give him some credit here.
Even Terry Francona said, “There’s no getting around how important he is to us. When he does something like that, I think we feel better about ourselves.”
Papi deserves a high five!
As we remember, Ortiz has been dropped from the third to the sixth spot in the lineup, but has hit better recently (not much though...).
Papi has a six-game hitting streak with seven hits in 25 at-bats, raising his average from .185. to .197!
Wow, how impressive is that!
He probably woke up one morning and realized that if he doesn’t start hitting, he won’t have much time left in the big leagues, and he can’t have that with his celebrity life style to support!
Now, we can’t forget about the Yankees and the Red Sox saga.
This week has been a historic one for both of those teams.
On Tuesday night, Josh Beckett allowed only an infield hit in six innings, and David Ortiz (who would have thought?) hit his third homer of the year as the Red Sox beat the Yankees 7-0 and improved to 6-0 against New York for the first time since 1912!
They beat the New York Highlanders 14 consecutive times to open that season, including the first-ever game at Fenway Park.
On a historical note: Fenway is now the oldest ballpark in the major leagues; the original Yankee Stadium, which was replaced this season by a $1.5 billion replica that hadn’t even been built yet.
The struggle continued when Mike Lowell homered off struggling Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang, and Kevin Youkilis also connected to help give Boston a 6-5 victory on Wednesday night and a 7-0 record against New York this year.
Now the Red Sox are 8-0 against the Yankees, and they’ll have most of the summer to lord it over their AL East rivals.
The Yankees did not lead against Boston at any time in the previous four games. That has happened only eight times in the 107-year-old rivalry, the last in 1974, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Now that the Red Sox are ahead of the Yankees in the AL East, it is very interesting to look at their standings.
While the Sox are 8-0 vs. NY this season so far, they are only 2.0 games above them. What this means is that the Yankees are playing everybody else really well since Boston has blown them out head to head, yet they’re barely off the division lead.
So, if you look at the team vs. team standings, you can see that NY has the following records against everyone else:
6-3 vs. Baltimore, 5-3 vs. Cleveland, 2-1 vs. Detroit, 2-1 vs. Kansas City, 2-1 vs. LA Angles, 4-0 vs . Minnesota, 2-0 vs. Oakland, 4-4 vs. Tampa Bay, 4-2 vs. Texas, 2-1 vs. Toronto, and 1-2 vs. Inter-league Teams
You can see that THE ONLY team the Yankees have a losing record against is the Red Sox, but, if they continue to play everyone else well, the chances are good that that they will "come around" against Boston.
Boston will then be in trouble because Boston has NOT played that well against everyone else.
In fact, the only teams Boston has a winning record against besides NY are, Orioles 4-0 and Tigers 3-0 and the Twins 4-2 that is a "highly suspect" division leader.
So, don’t get too discouraged Yankee fans!
I think that they will come through in the end.
Lastly, many of you I'm sure remember the tragic story of Nick Adenhart who was killed by a drunk driver following a brilliant performance with the Angels.
If that wasn't sad and heart wrenching enough, the man charged with killing him and two others in a drunken-driving crash pleaded not guilty Monday to three counts of murder as relatives of the victims looked on.
Tests have shown that the driver had nearly triple the legal alcohol limit when the minivan he was driving crashed into Adenhart's car—he was on his way to celebrate his performance.
The scumbag's lawyer said later, in an interview, that he will seek a change of venue because he believes Gallo cannot get a fair trial in Orange County, home of the Angels.
I think that this is the BEST place for a trial for that lowlife!
And in the end, we’re really hoping that justice will be served.