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New York Mets: Troubles Continue to Drag Them Down

Forget the countless injuries to Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes.

Or the fact that Bobby Bonilla, who last played with the team in 2000, is reportedly on the payroll.

Those are just minor problems compared to what the New York Mets truly face.

On the field, things appear grim.

Despite Major League Baseball’s fifth-highest payroll, the Mets look to be missing out on the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

For two consecutive years (2007-2008), the Florida Marlins eliminated New York from fall ball down the stretch. 

Florida, with one of the lowest payrolls on a yearly basis, finished second in the NL East last year despite $110 million less to spend. 

In 2007, the Mets suffered one of the worst all-time collapses, leading the National League East by seven games with 17 days left, only to lose out to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Over-the-mill veterans like Carlos Delgado and Pedro Martinez signed with the team, but got it no closer to October. 

Beltran, a franchise-caliber player to many teams, surprised the organization by getting knee surgery in mid-January.

That sure spells trust.

Off the field, the Mets haven’t been model citizens.

General Manager Omar Minaya was questioned around the league in 2008 for his handling of the firing of manager Willie Randolph, pitching coach Rick Peterson, and first-base coach Tom Nieto.

Minaya waited for the trio to arrive back at a Los Angeles hotel following a 9-6 victory over the Angels. 

Vice President of Player Development Tony Bernazard stuck around for too long despite news that he challenged Double-A players to fight him.

He also supposedly got into quarrels with closer Francisco Rodriguez and others. Ruffling feathers, not developing missing farm talent, became his forte.

And now the players find themselves in trouble.

Just this week, ace Johan Santana had a civil lawsuit filed against him in Lee County, Fla. involving a charge of rape. The woman also says that she became pregnant as a result of the attack, but had a miscarriage.

Meanwhile, closer Francisco Rodriguez was arraigned in a courthouse in Queens County, N.Y. because of third-degree assault against his father-in-law.

On Wednesday night, Rodriguez reportedly struck inside the family lounge at Citi Field.

At this rate, it’s an easy call for fans to root even harder for New York’s other team, which is in first place and gets called the Evil Empire.

Heck, maybe all this time Lady Gaga knew something everyone else didn’t: 

The New York Mets need immediate help as they continue down the wrong path.

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St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds Brawl: Five Reasons It Sticks

Emotions got the best of both the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.

Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips made comments a few days earlier about the Cards that didn’t sit well with St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina.

Before the bottom of the first inning, the pair got into a heated argument and the benches cleared.

Managers Tony La Russa and Dusty Baker got involved. So did starting pitchers and former allies.

With a playoff chase on the line and bad blood, this rivalry won’t be going away anytime soon.

Here are five reasons why St. Louis and Cincinnati just made the race atop the NL Central division that much more interesting.

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Jim Edmonds and His Top Five Defensive Plays (With Video)

When Jim Edmonds retires, he will go down as one of the best defensive center fielders.

For six MLB teams, the eight-time Gold Glove Award winner has made SportsCenter top plays that dazzled viewers and closed out victories.

Opposing players and teammates alike stared on in disbelief. Diving catches became a regular occurrence for the long-time Angel and Cardinal.

At 40 years old, Fullerton, Calif. believes he still has baseball left in him.

With the Cincinnati Reds pushing toward an NL Central title, they traded for Edmonds and hope he can provide veteran leadership and experience.

In honor of the recent move, here are five of his top defensive plays.

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Josh Johnson, Gaby Sanchez: MLB’s and Florida Marlins’ Hidden Gems

Josh Johnson makes history each time he takes the mound.

Since he plays for the Florida Marlins, however, media outlets fail to mention him in the NL Cy Young race as often as Ubaldo Jimenez and Adam Wainwright.

Jimenez, whose 15-2 record comes thanks to a hot start in April and May, fares much better with his team’s run support.

Over his first 17 starts, the Colorado Rockies pitcher went 13-1 with a 1.15 ERA. In Jimenez’s last six starts, he is 2-1 with a 7.64 ERA.

Against the Marlins, he had his second-worst outing of the season; five 1/3 innings of a six run- (four-earned) ball game.

But he got a no-decision when Florida blew a lead.

Five times this season the Florida Marlins’ troubling bullpen has lost a lead during Johnson’s starts.

It has prevented him from a 15-3 record, which would put him alongside Jimenez.

Four times this season the righty has had a no-decision when allowing just one run. The 26-year-old pitcher even lost during Roy Halladay’s perfect game despite giving up only an unearned run. 

Unlike Jimenez, Johnson has been consistent all season long.

He leads all of baseball with a 1.61 ERA, and over his last 13 starts, he has gone at least six innings and given up one run or fewer.

That streak is the longest since Greg Maddux achieved it in 1995. 

Eighteen of Johnson’s 20 starts are quality ones, with the season opener against the New York Mets his worst: a five-inning, four-run affair.

He has fanned 141 batters, fourth-best in baseball, and has walked just 29 in 134 1/3 innings. 

Despite these statistics, Bleacher Report doesn’t even have a tag for him!

And in the NL Rookie of the Year battle, 26-year-old Gaby Sanchez continues at a consistent pace.

Instead of the first baseman, though, 20-year-old phenom Mike Stanton attracts all the attention since he’s one of the top prospects in baseball.

Stanton’s power is that of legend. Five-hundred-foot homers have been sighted.

Yet, Sanchez’s numbers speak for themselves: .304 average, 11 home runs, 44 RBI, 23 doubles, and 46 runs.

In comparison, Atlanta’s Jason Heyward, who was voted as an All-Star starter, brings a media circus with him.

After coming back from a thumb injury, he is batting .266 with 11 homers and 48 RBI.

San Francisco’s Buster Posey, who has been on a tear during the month of July, is batting .358 with eight home runs and 32 RBI in just 47 games.

Time will tell if the rookie catcher stays on such a torrid pace.

All this begs this question: Where would both Johnson and Sanchez be if they played for an organization with a larger fan base and more national attention?

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MLB Trade Rumors: Five Florida Marlins Who Could Be Dealt

Fredi Gonzalez is gone, but the Florida Marlins keep losing ground.

As the Atlanta Braves slowly walk away with the National League East, the Fish remain 10 games out of first, and four games below .500.

With the Midsummer Classic in a few days, Larry Beinfest and Co. must decide whether to become a buyer or seller.

Can the team pull off a win streak and stay in the race?

At this point in time, it appears to be the latter.

Word within the organization expresses the sentiment that everyone but Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson is on the market to be traded.

Ramirez, who will be the NL’s starting shortstop in the All-Star game for the third straight year, feels like his sub-par season could be at fault.

“Cody [Ross], he’s blaming it on me if he gets traded, because we’re not winning,” he said. “I need to go to Home Depot and buy a rake.”

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2010 MLB All-Star Roster: Josh Johnson Should Be the NL Starting Pitcher



Don’t get me wrong.

Ubaldo Jimenez’ no-hitter counts for something. So do his major league-leading 14 wins. Same goes for Roy Halladay’s perfect game and major league-leading seven complete games.

But the pitcher who deserves the starting nod for the National League All-Star team plays for the Florida Marlins.

That’s right, the same team that rarely captures national attention unless the manager gets fired or it trades away a star player. 

Josh Johnson is the most dominant hurler in baseball during the “Year of the Pitcher.”

Ask the Los Angeles Dodgers, who failed to score a run on him through eight innings in a 4-0 loss Wednesday night.

Johnson did not allow a hit through the first four frames. He held the Dodgers to six hits and one walk. He struck out eight and lowered his earned-run average to 1.70.

For those keeping score, the second-best ERA in the majors is Jamie Garcia’s 2.17 clip. 

That’s 47 points higher. 

To prove how dominant Johnson, June’s NL Pitcher of the Month, has been look at the other statistics.

The 6’7″, 250 pounder hasn’t allowed more than two runs in a start in almost two months. He’s given up four runs in a game only once all season, which was during the opener at Citi Field against the New York Mets.

Every Johnson outing since then has been a quality start. Over the 15 games his ERA stands at 1.38.

His 123 strikeouts are third in the majors, behind only Tim Lincecum and Jered Weaver. 

Although his record shows that he’s just 9-3, it’s not his fault. Until Wednesday night’s four-run second inning, the Marlins had scored just five runs over his last four starts.

During that span, JJ struck out at least seven batters during each of those contests—33 in all—while walking two.

Even more remarkable is the history attached to what he has accomplished.

From May 13 to June 26, Johnson went eight consecutive starts throwing at least six innings and giving up no more than one earned run. Only two other pitchers had accomplished that over the past 100 years: Bob Gibson (11 straight in 1968) and J.R. Richard (eight straight in 1979).

When Halladay pitched his perfect game, what got overlooked was Florida’s ace’s line: seven innings, seven hits, six strikeouts, one walk, and an unearned run in a 1-0 loss.

Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has seen the Marlins pitcher enough since his return from Tommy John surgery in 2008, which came in less than 11 months, to convince him.

And if all of this was not enough reason for the 26 year old to become the National League starter in Anaheim, the outing against the Dodgers closes out his half.

Last year when he made the All-Star team for the first time in his career, Johnson remained in the dugout because he had pitched on that Sunday.

Come Tuesday, it doesn’t have to be that way.


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2010 MLB All-Star Game Lineup: 10 Players Snubbed From the NL Roster

You can’t please everybody.

That is, unless you picked the most deserving players.

With the MLB All-Star Game just around the corner (July 13), lineups were announced today on TBS.

National League mainstays like David Wright and Hanley Ramirez were voted in by the fans, while the rest were left up to their fellow peers and Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.

There are questionable players on the roster and, with that, deserving guys who didn’t make the list of 34.

This list gives you 10 players who were snubbed, and one player who made it, that makes us scratch our heads.

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Edwin Rodriguez and the Florida Marlins: A Win-Win Scenario In Puerto Rico

Simply call it perfect timing.

It’s only fitting that MLB’s first Puerto Rican-born manager stood in Hiram Bithorn Stadium for baseball’s return to the island.

Edwin Rodriguez’s story, though uncertain with the mystery surrounding who will be the Florida Marlins’ permanent manager, is a good one. 

He lives five minutes from the stadium.

More than 150 people greeted him at the airport and began chanting his name when the Marlins arrived.

Owner Jeffrey Loria told Rodriguez that he should be first off the team bus as it reached the hotel. His mother, who rarely drives, was waiting for him. 

Better than any weekday game at Sun Life Stadium, 18,703 fans watched Rodriguez become the first Puerto Rican native to win a major league game on the island.

It was a party from the beginning, with noisemakers that would put vuvuzelas to shame.

From drums to singing, fans relished the return of baseball.

The Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins were the last two teams to play in San Juan in 2004, when the Expos played part of their home schedule in the U.S. territory. 

As part of MLB’s initiative to expand the sport more globally, the New York Mets and Fish finalized a deal during Spring Training.

For Florida, it was a no-brainer.

With Miami’s close proximity to the Caribbean, it’s an excuse to reach out to a new fan base. As Marlins Ballpark continues to be built in Little Havana, the front office hopes that fans from Latin America will visit in 2012 and beyond.

Plus, it’s a different atmosphere from the troubling problems back home following a sweep by the NL West-leading San Diego Padres.

Whether Rodriguez is promoted from his role as interim manager remains to be seen. His record is 2-4 since his “call-up” from Triple-A New Orleans.

Reports state that talks with Bobby Valentine have stalled.

Rodriguez played just three years in the majors and never found the success fellow countrymen Roberto Clemente and Pudge Rodriguez did on the baseball diamond.

But his achievements over the past week might be more meaningful.

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Florida Marlins Fire Fredi Gonzalez a Few Years Too Late

In 2006, first-year manager Joe Girardi led the inexperienced Florida Marlins to a 78-84 record. The team, which started six rookies, became the only club to pass the .500 mark after being 20 games below earlier in the season. Four rookie starting pitchers—Josh Johnson (who now has the NL’s third-best ERA), Ricky Nolasco, Scott Olsen, and Anibal Sanchez—each won at least 10 games.

Florida became the first organization to achieve that feat, and the Marlins nearly made the playoffs as the NL Wild Card. For his efforts, Girardi earned National League Manager of the Year.

And a pink slip.

Rumor had it that Girardi didn’t get along with owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson. Along came Fredi Gonzalez, a long-time coach in the Marlins’ minor league system and a former third base coach for the Atlanta Braves.

Friendly and welcoming, Gonzalez was the opposite of Girardi’s hard-nosed demeanor.

The following year, Florida finished in last place with a 71-91 record and virtually the same lineup. Gone was Girardi’s discipline and accountability for mental and physical mistakes. Instead, in charge was a manager who wanted to be everyone’s friend and who answered directly to the ownership.

Last year, Girardi led the stacked New York Yankees to a World Series championship in just his second season. Gonzalez, meanwhile, faced trouble in South Florida despite garnering NL Manager of the Year honors.

Superstar Hanley Ramirez, recently taken out of a game for a lack of hustle, doesn’t give it his all through a 162-game season. He would go on to criticize Gonzalez, and make no mistake that Ramirez is more important to the organization than a manager with a 276-279 career record.

Players like Dan Uggla continue to swing at the same bad pitches for six years. Relief pitcher Renyel Pinto took the mound in key situations for several seasons despite a lack of control.

Lineup confusion helped the Tampa Bay Rays defeat the Marlins in a vuvuzela-fueled game Saturday night. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the same air horns that express triumph during the FIFA World Cup indirectly led to Gonzalez’s firing?

With Triple-A New Orleans’ Edwin Rodriguez as the interim manager, it will be interesting to see whether Bobby Valentine is asked to coach the Marlins. Before this season started, Gonzalez was considered on the hot seat and Valentine was seen as a prime target to take over.

Many would call Loria, Samson, and Larry Beinfest, the president of baseball operations, crazy for believing that Florida has been underachieving. What with the fifth-lowest payroll in baseball, just two of the teams below them have better records (the first place Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres).

But through 70 games, the Marlins remain two games below .500, just as they were last year. Though the bullpen can’t be blamed on Gonzalez, it’s about time this season stopped from spiraling out of control.

So long, Fredi.

Have a great time coaching the first-place Braves next season as a replacement to legend and friend Bobby Cox.

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Lady Gaga: Strangest Fan of MLB’s New York Yankees, New York Mets

Who else would be allowed into Yankee Stadium or Citi Field in that outfit?

That’s a rhetorical question, so no need to answer it.

Who else could manage to sneak past security and talk to players inside the clubhouse after a loss?

Maybe only a handful of celebrities come to mind.

Who else could make New Yorkers suddenly consider the middle finger to be an obscene gesture after years of it?

Only a pop singer that talks about monsters.

So is the story of Lady Gaga attending a New York Mets/San Diego Padres game on June 10 and a New York Yankees/New York Mets game on Friday night.

Who knew that the boys of summer’s biggest fan was the “Bad Romance” singer? 

Maybe the infamous disco stick really refers to a Louisville Slugger?

Or “Poker Face” can be attributed to a pitcher’s look at the batter before a key pitch?

In the unlikeliest of possibilities, best to hop on the train and take advantage of it.

The Mets are doing just that on Wednesday when they host “Go Gaga for Wright Night” and hand out 20,000 blue foam hands with the index finger pointed up as the “best finger.”

This promotion hopes to boost third baseman David Wright’s election onto the National League All-Star Team.

Wright needs the extra push to get past Philadelphia’s Placido Polanco.

It also mocks Gaga, who stuck up her middle finger to paparazzi (ah, the irony) during the Mets-Padres game.

In both games the pop singer attended, the home teams lost. Maybe she’s slowly turning into Jessica Simpson.

And what possibly could Lady Gaga talk about in the clubhouse with Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez?

“Hey, I heard you have a thing for blonds?”

“What’s gotten into you this year? A .367 batting average with 14 homers and 49 RBI?”

Initial reports stated that she is now banned from the clubhouse. General manager Brian Cashman denied the claim.

Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before she’ll be penning a tribute to the Yankees during their inevitable playoff run come October.

“I watch your games wearing next to nothing/Yankees and I could write a bad romance.”

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