Posts Tagged ‘MLB’

We can all, or at least most of us, recount the late 90’s-early 2000’s, and no not for the Tomagatchi and Furbee fads, not for the reality television trend, and certaintly not Cisqo’s infamous “Thong Song”. I’m talking about some of Major League Baseball’s finest moments.

The Subway Series square off between the New York Yankees and New York Mets in 2000. Cal Ripkin Jr and Tony Gwyn’s last stands. And of course, the mass quantity of  home runs.

The excitement orbiting around Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa’s chase for Roger Maris’ 61 home run mark. Raphael Palmeiro and Manny Ramirez slamming them out of the ballpark one out of every four or so at bats. And Barry Bonds’ ultimate reign of superiority of “king” by breaking the single season and career home record with 73 and 772, respectively.

It seemed as if baseball solidified itself as “America’s sport” with the hype and fandom surmounted around these sluggers and what they offered to the game. You didn’t even have to be a Cubs or Cardinals fan to appreciate what was known as “The Great Chase”. You were a fan of the game. It was second nature to watch such a historic record be broken in that fashion.

This heightened sense of euphoria around baseball’s passionate fans died down dramatically in 2007 when Senator turned “vigilante” George Mitchell released his 20 months of research on the correlation between baseball players and performance enhancing drugs called the “Mitchell Report”. It had seemed the devil had a long lost twin from Maine.

The list not only had the likes of Bonds, McGuire, Palmeiro, and Sosa, but some highly touted pitchers such as Roger Clemens, who arguably dominated the 1990’s with his fastball that has 7 Cy Youngs to back it up, and some suprise names as well, such as fellow Yankee, at the time, Andy Pettite, who resembles more of a small town farmer than a big time juicer.

I wasnt lying, was I?

For baseball fans across the world, it was like receiving a lump of coal under the Christmas tree. A favorite band selling out. A role model not living up to certain expectations. A feeling of disapointment and disheartenment. Blinded by the facade of artificial talent.

This, of course, led to federal investigations and court trials in the blink of an eye. Seeing Jason Giambi in a three piece suit rather than in pinstripes was as out of place as seeing the cast of the Jersey Shore at the Grammys this year. Accusations of perjury and lying in front of grand jury were charges I had never heard of my entire life but how quickly did they become a part of my daily vocabulary discussing with friends about what was to happen to next to our fallen heroes.

The shift in emotions of audacity to resentment from the baseball community was just the norm- why praise someone who cheated on their path to national glory? Where is there a spot in the Hall of Fame for these perpetraitors against the glorified and respectful careers of Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays?

In comes the concept of the asterisk- letting the public know on the record books that the feat was not acheived naturally. It parallels the process of a sex offender alerting their neighbors of who they are and shameful thing they did to deserve the title. The comparison may be brash but the point is evident.

In any argument there are two sides, and in this case, it was the fans who believed those players lost their right of recognition because of steroid use and that even an asterisk next to their name would be more of a privledge than punishment. On the flip side, there are fans who stand by not only the players, but in the grounds of baseball in which even while taking PEDs, it takes athleticism to hit X amount of homeruns or strike out Y number of players.

A few years have passed, as we are in the year 2011 and ESPN headlines still read with these players and the lawsuit baggage they carry. In the most reason MLB news, prosecutors are deciding on whether or not to try Bonds AGAIN after he was found guilty of the one charge left against him: obstruction of justice. And the kicker is, it has absolutely nothing related to his steroid use.

Has the Steroid Era officially run it’s course or is it coming back with vengeance? A Mitchell Report part deux? Any good-natured fan would be crossing fingers and knocking on wood for this storm that has tornadoed itself into the national spotlight for the past four years to end.

But the question at hand is what do we do now with these so-called “culprits”? Do we let them bask in their own guilt by banning them from any sort of record book or hall or will the asterisk serve it’s purpose in alarming our younger generation fans of what happens to those who don’t play the game fairly. This whole ordeal runs full circle: just like the Steroid Era itself, time will be the ultimate keeper.

Will the shameful circus ever end?

For more sports information, opinion, and shameless banter, follow me on Twitter: @sportsbyjersey

A letter on reality

Posted: November 30, 2010 in MLB
Tags: , ,

Dear Mr. Derek Jeter,

For starters, let me say that you are by far one of my favorite New York Yankees of all time and baseball player to ever play the game. Watching you as I grew up, from going through the entire Yankee farm system, to being unbelievably clutch in the post season, to just being constantly a damn good ball player your entire 15-year career , was something just plain special to watch. But Derek, I have a bone to pick with you.

Courtesy of River Avenue Blues

Let’s talk about this lofty contract you want: $23-35 million a year for four years at age 36 where you are coming off the worst statistical year of your career, in which you batted .270 (dropping more than 30 points than your career average), 179 hits, and struck out 170 times. And usually as one continues to age, statistics continue to drop. Essentially you’d be asking New York to pay you $100 million dollars in four years to eventually watch your average drop to the low .200s and maybe even a few trips to the disabled list.

Now, you may be saying, “But I won the Gold Glove this year! That must mean something“. And you’re right it does: it’s just another trophy to put on your prestigious shelf. Quite frankly, you were not the Gold Glover that you were from your early hay days as a rightful winner back in the early 2000’s. I know you were above average in fielding percentage, but you had a low in put outs as well as losing the range of the signature “Derek Jeter-over-the-back-and-jump” throw.

There have been rumors of you testing the free agent market, specifically the Los Angeles Dodgers because of your relationship with new head coach Don Mattingly. That’s all fine and good, but you would be walking on the dark path of becoming the Brett Favre of Major League Baseball.

Our replacement for you? Eduardo Nunez, the 23-year-old shortstop from our farm leagues who ESPN.com says to be a “superlative defensive player”. Not only would this save us the money from your contract to pursue our need at pitching like Cliff Lee, but he could be the next legacy as the Bronx Bomber shortstop.

Don’t get me wrong Jeet, no Yankee fan wants you to leave. You’ve solidified your place in the Hall of Fame years ago and have led New York to five World Series titles and your leadership as captain, poise, and character on and off the field are some of the reasons millions idolize you as a hero and a role model.

Brian Cashman and the Yankee front office are offering you a nice contract of $15 million for three years to continue doing what you do best. I know it’s not the massive deal 10-year-deal your teammate Alex Rodriguez accepted a few years ago. But let’s face it, you’re 36 not 26. Let’s not shock the entire baseball, even sports world, and please return back in pinstripes for next season.

Sincerely,

John Garretson

Sports writer, avid fan, and realist

The Death Star begins to strike

Posted: October 28, 2010 in MLB
Tags: ,

It’s never to early to begin the off-season, at least for the New York Yankees. And they’re doing it in style, preparing to take home the World Series trophy that was once theirs in 2009 (as well as 26 other times, but hey, who’s counting?) With only two key moves so far, the Bronx Bombers are making it clear why they’ll take the ‘ship home in 2011.

#1. The firing of pitching coach Dave Eiland. I liked Eiland in the beginning when he took over for Ron Guidry in 2008. He oversaw the development of pitchers Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain in the Yankee’s farm systems, in which the two are arguably the crucial parts to the Yank’s pitching staff. The man helped C.C. Sabathia record an impressive 1.98 ERA in last year’s postseason that guided the Bombers to a World Series title.

That all sounds good, right? Things changed with Eiland and his efforts with his staff. Being absent for “personal reasons” for an entire month in the end of the first half, right when A.J. Burnett began his slump, arguably could have been the cause of that. In addition, Yankee starting pitchers as well as some relief pitchers (cough David Robertson cough) posted horrific ERAs against the Texas Rangers in American League Championship Series. No disrespect to the guy but things like that are unacceptable for a distinguished (and well-paying) team such as the Yankees to put up with.

Courtesy of the New York Times

#2 Re-signing Joe Girardi.  When I saw this morning on ESPN that the New York Yankees and Girardi agreed to a three-year, $9 million dollar contract, I knew that there was hope left for next season. Originally, I wasn’t a huge fan of Girardi. I wanted Don Mattingly to take the head coach position over him. But my opinion has shifted since then. Even though he didn’t lead New York to the playoffs his first season, he made up for it big time the following season. The Yanks were dominant in 2009, especially within their offense, and proved to be that powerhouse organization it has been for years by beating the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series.

His record stands at 287-199 (.591) through three seasons in New York, but that’s not the thing that really impresses me. It’s that he’s smart when it comes to baseball. I appreciated the “Joba rules” to keep the inconsistent, at the time, Chamberlain consistent. He knew when workhorse hurler C.C. Sabathia could and could not pitch 120 plus pitches a game. Last, he was smart about his outfield/designated hitter dilemma last season: Keeping Hideki Matsui on the DH for the most part with his grandpa-like knees and rotating him in whenever ailing Johnny Damon or young gun Brett Gardner needed time out.

I can almost guarantee that the next few moves the Yankees front office will try and do are going to be putting Cliff Lee in pinstripes, resigning Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and finding a way to continue to improve their bench (Interesting call, but I think they make a move for Carl Crawford down in Tampa Bay). But their is no way the organization, or the fans, are going to deal with another World Series drought like what 2001-2008 brought.