Author Archive

MLB Playoffs 2010: The Most Important Player for Each Team

The grind of the Major League Baseball regular season has finally come to an end and for those fans that had the patience to stick with their favorite team over that 162 game marathon, they are now bracing themselves for the sprint that is the MLB playoffs.

Despite how entertaining it might be to watch your favorite team play a four game series against the Pirates, it’s time for the playoffs to usher in a new brand of baseball where everything matters just a little bit more.

Every pitch, every managerial move, every strike, and every walk matters more, simply because you no longer have the time to make up for bad play in the postseason.

When October starts, you have to get things right the first time and if your team is lethargic or sloppy out of the gate, they will probably be sitting on the couch in a matter of days, contemplating whether or not to rip the speakers out of their television so they won’t have to listen to Joe Buck anymore.

While success in October is a team effort, it’s hard to deny that the baseball playoffs are a time where individual players shine the brightest and can single handedly turn around a game or even a whole series with one swing of the bat or one dominant pitching performance.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the most important player for each playoff team as we eagerly await the start of the 2010 postseason.

Begin Slideshow

A Long Time Coming: Milton Bradley’s Revelation

Anyone who knows anything about Milton Bradley’s career wasn’t surprised to hear about him in the news again for something other than his performance on the baseball field. 

Throughout his career, Bradley has rubbed more than a few people the wrong way and he has bounced around to eight different teams during his 11 years in the major leagues.

He’s always been a serviceable player; a career batting average of .276, with decent power, and a solid throwing arm. 

He even made the All-Star team in 2008 when he had his best season with the Texas Rangers.  But the reason Bradley continues to be a topic of conversation is because of the way he conducts himself.

Bradley has had minor altercations with the law, one of which even resulted in him spending three days in jail for speeding away from a police officer while at a traffic stop. 

But Bradley is vilified and reviled by some because of his behavior on the field.  While the list of incidents that involve Bradley behaving badly is longer than anyone wants to read, here is the abridged version of his past indiscretions;

-In 2004, Bradley was traded from the Indians to the Dodgers and had made it a few months without a blow up.  

But on June 3, he would be ejected from a game for arguing balls and strikes with the home plate umpire.  After calmly placing his batting gloves and helmet in the batter’s box, Bradley completely lost his mind and proceeded to get a bag of balls from the Dodgers dugout and throw it onto the field. 

He then threw one of the balls into the outfield and would have to be restrained by Dodgers manager Jim Tracy.

-In September 2004 while the Dodgers were visiting the Padres, a fan threw a plastic bottle in Bradley’s direction while he was playing right field.  Instead of just shrugging off the action as a fan behaving badly, Bradley picked up the bottle, left his position in the outfield and while yelling at the stands threw the bottle back into the crowd. 

After being ejected from the game, Bradley ripped off his shirt and cap while proceeding towards the Dodgers dugout, and urged the fans to continue to boo him.

-Also while playing with the Dodgers; Bradley had a very public spat with second baseman and team captain, Jeff Kent.  During which Bradley accused Kent of being a bad teammate “The problem is, he doesn’t know how to deal with African-American people,” Bradley would say of Kent. 

– In 2007, after Bradley had essentially forced a trade from the Oakland A’s by refusing to appear in the minor leagues (as a part of his rehab from an injury), he found himself on the San Diego Padres. 

During a September game, in what was one of the most bizarre sports injuries ever, Bradley began arguing with first base umpire Mike Winters.  At which point, while being restrained by manager Bud Black, he fell to the ground and began clutching his knee. 

It was later revealed that Bradley tore his ACL during the argument and to make the incident even more bizarre, it came to light that Mike Winters had actually started the entire confrontation by provoking Bradley with a string of obscenities.

– While enjoying the best season of his career with the Texas Rangers in 2008 (which would see Bradley bat .321 with 22 home runs and 77 RBI), Bradley took exception to comments that were made by Royals broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre during a game in Kansas City. 

Bradley had heard the comments in the Rangers clubhouse, which compared him to Josh Hamilton, who had struggled with alcohol and drug addictions for the last four seasons. 

Bradley was upset with the comments and left the Rangers clubhouse during the game looking to confront Lefebvre.  Before he could find the announcer, Bradley was re-routed back to the clubhouse by Rangers GM Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington. 

After returning to the clubhouse, Bradley would not only begin screaming at teammates in the dugout, he also broke down in tears.  

-Coming off his aforementioned career season in 2008 with the Texas Rangers, Bradley signed a 3 year, $30 million deal with the Chicago Cubs.

Bradley’s time in Chicago would be mired in controversy, and he would only play there for a single season.  Not only was Bradley unproductive on the field (.257 batting average and only 12 home runs) he also clashed with Cubs manager Lou Piniella as well as the team’s GM Jim Hendry off the field. 

He was traded to the Seattle Mariners after the 2009 season, at which point Bradley sounded off as to why he didn’t play well in Chicago.  He blamed his poor play on the fans, and also accused them of being racist saying he didn’t feel safe in Chicago, citing the amount of hate mail he received while playing for the Cubs.       

There’s no doubt that people pick on Bradley because of his reputation and the way he reacts to certain situations.  At the same time, Bradley should realize that especially because he’s a professional athlete, people are going to try and provoke him to see how he will react.

Because of this, in pretty much every stop along the way Bradley has fought with everyone; fans, coaches, umpires, broadcasters, and even teammates.  But the biggest thing that Bradley has been fighting against is himself. 

Many of the incidents that have made Bradley an infamous figure in the court of public opinion involve him losing his temper and reacting in ways that few other players ever do.

In almost all of these instances, if he would exercise some self-control and take a deep breath he could have avoided another one of the patented blow-ups that Bradley detractors continue to point to as examples of why he doesn’t belong in Major League Baseball. 

Up until yesterday, it would seem that he hasn’t been able to admit to himself that he’s the one who has the problem. 

It’s no secret that Bradley had a few rocky stays with the various teams he has played for, which always seemed to end the same way.  The team gets fed up with Bradley’s antics and ships him off to another team willing to take a chance on him. 

On his way out the door, Bradley would point the finger at anyone he could to explain why it didn’t work out, but he would never say anything about his own involvement in the situation. 

But finally, on Wednesday, he stopped blaming others for his problems and took responsibility for the situation.  

Bradley reached out to the Seattle Mariners organization and admitted that he needs help dealing with the psychological and emotional issues that he has been living with throughout his life.

These issues have not been identified and they probably never will be, but if you look at Milton Bradley’s uncanny ability to continuously put himself in these positions you can’t say that he is a mentally stable individual.

It has certainly been a long time coming for Milton Bradley’s revelation that he needs help.  He has been known for his fiery temper and out-of-control antics for as long as he has played in the league. 

Along the way, many have tried to counsel Bradley and help him to shed his negative image and behavior.  But so far it hasn’t worked out very well, and maybe it’s because Bradley himself wasn’t ready to admit that he was the problem.

Perhaps the most intelligent thing I’ve heard about this entire situation is from Justice B. Hill, who covered Bradley when he played for Cleveland early in his career:

“Some people are so angry and carry such baggage with them that you have to let them go. They’re not worth saving,” Hill said. “Bradley is not worth saving until he saves himself. Because it’s always someone else’s fault. Someone always didn’t do right by Bradley.”

A lightning rod for controversy, Bradley is always outspoken, and never at a loss for words, which has turned him into one of the most controversial players in all of baseball. 

There’s no telling where this situation ends up, as Bradley has been given both the support of the Seattle Mariners as well as time away from baseball to try and fix whatever has gone wrong in his life. 

Hopefully, Bradley will be able to get the help he needs.

If something positive does come of this situation it would certainly be ironic that for once, something he said will help him avoid trouble rather than getting him in deeper than he already is.            

Read more MLB news on

Chien-Ming Wang: The Former New York Yankees Ace’s Disappearing Act

There are plenty of players in professional sports who can have a great performance once in a while.

One day the guy is on fire, and the next he’s just an average player.

The ability to be consistently good is one of the qualities which make a professional athlete great at their job.   

The athletes described above—those who can have a breakout game once in a while—are merely role players who have a small impact on their respective teams, because they aren’t able to be consistent with their play.   

As for the stars, after a few seasons of performing well and proving themselves at the professional level, you can generally say that that player will continue to do so for many seasons to come. 

This is what makes the disappearing act of former New York Yankees ace Chien-Ming Wang so interesting.

Despite rehabbing from an injury after the 2008 season came to a close, it appeared that Wang had legitimized himself as a consistent starting pitcher in the major leagues. Especially when you consider that the righty had started 97 games and had been pitching in the majors for four seasons.

The 2009 season would see Wang take a huge step back, though, even from where he was when he first started in the majors.

In 2005, the 6’3’’ Taiwanese native made his MLB debut for the New York Yankees and was a breath of fresh air for fans.  

The Yankees were finally able to point to a pitcher who had been brought up through the Yankees farm system, as opposed to the high-priced free agents the team had been bringing in for years.

In his first season, Wang pitched admirably, especially for a player who had never appeared in the majors before. He started 17 games for the Bronx Bombers and compiled a record of 8-5 with a solid 4.02 earned-run average.

Wang seemed to learn a lot from his 17 starts in 2005, because he came back in 2006 and had one of the best pitching seasons in the majors. 

Utilizing his patented sinker to induce ground balls, Wang went on to win 19 games and had the eighth-lowest ERA in the American League, at 3.63.

Wang’s 19 wins were tied with Johan Santana for the most in the majors and he finished second to Santana in the AL Cy Young voting.

In 2007, Wang set out to prove the prior season’s success was not an aberration. Despite starting the season on the disabled list, Wang didn’t miss much time and returned to the Yankees rotation at the end of April. 

It didn’t take long for him to return to midseason form, either, as Wang brought a perfect game into the eighth inning against the Seattle Mariners on May 5. 

Wang’s bid for baseball immortality was broken up by a home run off the bat of Ben Broussard, and after the game Broussard had this to say about Wang’s performance: “It’s not like he was completely dominating, but he did a good job of keeping us off balance.” 

In what sounded like a ridiculous statement, Broussard summed up Wang’s entire career with the Yankees. 

He didn’t have a blazing fastball (though he routinely got into the mid-90s,) and he was never a strikeout pitcher. But he worked fast, kept his pitch counts low, rarely walked anyone, and generally kept the ball on the ground thanks to his amazing sinker. 

Despite the fact that Wang threw sinkers almost exclusively, he was able to get major league hitters out because of the velocity with which he threw them. 

Wang didn’t have to pitch like current Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia in order to be effective. He was an unassuming, quiet assassin, and if you were playing against him you would look up in the seventh inning and realize you only had four hits the whole game. 

Despite falling short of a perfect game against the Mariners, Wang never looked back in 2007 and won 19 games for the second consecutive season. Wang also compiled a respectable 3.70 ERA, which ranked 14th in the American League. 

However, Wang’s regular season success didn’t translate into the postseason. Wang was solid in both the 2005 and 2006 ALDS series against the Angels and Tigers, respectively, but the Yankees went on to lose both series. 

In the 2007, ALDS Wang started two games against the Cleveland Indians and did not fare nearly as well.

In Game One he gave up eight earned runs in only 4.2 innings pitched, and in Game Four he only recorded three outs while allowing four earned runs, putting the Yankees in a hole they couldn’t dig themselves out of.    

In a lot of ways, Wang embodied the Yankees’ World Series drought from 2001 to 2008.

Like the Yankees, he was great in the regular season, but when the playoffs started he looked like a completely different player.     

Despite his struggles in the playoffs, Wang had entrenched himself as the Yankees ace heading into the 2008 season, ahead of veterans Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte. 

Even though the Yankees got off to a slow start, Wang began the season with a 5-0 record. Heading into the second half of the season, Wang had won eight of his first 15 starts and looked to be one of the catalysts to lead a slumping Yankees team to the playoffs. 

These hopes came to an end in Houston when, during an Inter league game against the Astros, Wang came up lame while rounding third base. It was later revealed that he had a partially torn tendon and had sprained his right foot, the combination of which caused him to miss the rest of the 2008 season. 

Wang’s season-ending injury in June was a big part of the Yankees’ most disappointing season in recent memory, as they failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 1994. 

In December of 2008, the Yankees were dead set on fixing what had been their worst season in well over a decade. They went out and signed free agents Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett. 

The idea was to pair Sabathia and Burnett with Wang and Pettitte (who also re-signed in the off-season,) to form one of the more formidable starting rotations in the majors. 

But as the 2009 season got under way, it became clear that something was wrong with Wang, who started off the season going 0-3 with an astronomical ERA of 34.50 during the month of April. 

Many theorized that Wang’s struggles were because he had changed his pitching mechanics as a result of the foot injury that he had suffered the season prior.

Shortly thereafter, the Yankees sent Wang to the minors to try and correct his pitching motion, and he was subsequently placed on the disabled list a few days later. 

When Wang came off the disabled list he was relegated to pitching out of the bullpen to try and regain his confidence. 

Wang soon returned to his familiar starting role, but he continued to pitch poorly in what was a surreal experience for most Yankee fans. 

Although the player on the mound looked like Chien-Ming Wang, wore Wang’s No. 40, had the same calm demeanor both in the dugout and on the field, and featured a similar repertoire of pitches,  he was not the same player who had anchored the Yankees rotation the past three seasons. 

He went go on to start nine games in 2009, accumulating a record of 1-6 with an ERA of 9.64 before he was placed on the disabled list for the second time, on July 15. 

Wang would have season ending surgery on his shoulder just 15 days later. 

Without their former ace, the Yankees nonetheless went on to finish the regular season with 103 wins and eventually defeated the Philadelphia Phillies for their 27th World Series title. 

Perhaps because they were winning, or perhaps because C.C. Sabathia had taken over as the new Yankees ace, there was very little talk of Wang the rest of the season. 

There were few updates about how he was progressing with his rehab, and despite the fact that his contract was coming to an end after the season, there wasn’t much talk of whether or not the Yankees would re-sign him. 

Wang was absent during the parade down the canyon of heroes when the Yankees celebrated their newest championship, and it had seemed as if Wang had simply disappeared.  

During the 2009 off-season, amid concerns about how quickly Wang (who would soon be turning 30-years-old) would be able to return from major shoulder surgery, the Yankees decided to allow him to become a free agent when they failed to offer him a contract for the 2010 season. 

To many, it had seemed like the Yankees simply gave up too quickly on Wang, who had been the team’s best pitcher for nearly three seasons. 

Wang’s detractors will point out that while he won a lot of games, he did so on one of the best teams in baseball and that he was essentially a one-pitch pitcher who had failed to add any other effective pitches since being called up to the Yankees in 2005. 

While these arguments are valid, the numbers speak for themselves; omitting his injury-riddled 2009 season, Wang had won a total of 54 games in 95 starts. Simply put, the guy was a winner. 

Regardless of how many runs the Yankees were scoring for him, Wang still had to come out and finish the job, which he did more often than not. 

It’s somewhat hard to believe that a player who had a career record of 54-20 with an ERA under 4.00 going into the 2009 season all of a sudden forgot how to pitch because of a foot injury. 

Obviously, it’s a lot more complicated than that, but after the Yankees essentially gave up on him, it didn’t appear that many other major league clubs had much of an interest in Wang either. 

He eventually signed a one-year contract with the Washington Nationals, who have been one of the worst teams in all of Major League Baseball for many seasons. 

In their last two campaigns the Yankees have lost a combined 205 games, which is only 68 fewer losses than they had in the four seasons Wang pitched for them from 2005 through 2008.  

He has yet to pitch this season as he is still recovering from shoulder surgery. Wang was placed on the 60-day disabled list on April 4 but hopes to rejoin the team sometime before mid-season.   

Just when it seemed like Wang had established himself as an effective major league starting pitcher, he dropped off the face of the earth. 

What legitimizes his demise even more is that the Yankees were willing to let him go and few other teams showed much of an interest in the 2006 Cy Young runner-up. What says even more is that the team that decided to take a chance on Wang only gave him a one-year deal just to test the waters. 

Generally speaking, when a magician makes something disappear, they make it re-appear just to show the crowd that it actually existed.

As it stands, Yankees fans and anyone who took an interest in Wang’s career is still waiting for the guy that was the cornerstone of the Yankees rotation for nearly three seasons to re-appear, even if he has to do so with another team.

Read more MLB news on

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress