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Joe West Needs to Take a Rest

Watching the Chicago White Sox game today, I couldn’t help but think Joe West needs to take some time off from baseball.

Mark Buehrle had the start today against the Cleveland Indians and was called twice for a balk by West. Looking at instant replays on both calls, Buehrle clearly did not balk.

Although the calls were debatable, the umpire must make the right call at any point in the game.

After Buehrle was called for the first balk, Ozzie Guillen stormed out of the dugout, arguing with West that Buehrle has used the same pick-off move throughout his entire career. West ejected Guillen from the game.

When Buehrle was called for the second balk, out of pure frustration he dropped his glove to the ground. West immediately ejected Buehrle from the game and said he was trying to show up West.

I’m sure any umpire in the league would have thrown Buehrle out because his actions could have been perceived as showing one up. But you have to think about the situation of the game as well. He was clearly frustrated at balking twice in one game!

Buehrle is known for his great pick-off move to first base and rarely gets called for balking. He has great body control, and according to the instant replays, West blew both calls.

This is the second time this year West has taken the spotlight. The first incident came when he made a comment about the Yankees/Red Sox games lasting too long.

“They’re the two clubs that don’t try to pick up the pace,” said West, chief of the umpiring crew that worked the three-game series in Boston. He was the home plate umpire Sunday. “They’re two of the best teams in baseball. Why are they playing the slowest?

“It’s pathetic and embarrassing. They take too long to play.”

First of all, your job as an umpire isn’t to speed up the game. Your job is to make the right calls to the best of your ability.

The aspect that separates baseball from other sports is that there is no time limit. Why take away that uniqueness from the game?

I understand that umpires are humans and that we all make mistakes. But come on Joe, you were out of line in both situations. After making the comments about the pace of the game being too slow, people will be gunning for Joe to mess up again.

If West thinks baseball is too slow right now, maybe he should try another sport. Maybe he needs a job where he can sit, instead of squatting over a catcher for three to four hours.

Take some time off and get your act together.

Whatever the issue is Joe, don’t take it out on the players and managers of baseball.

Don’t try to change the game to conform to how you think it should be. If you don’t like how things work in baseball, take a long walk away from the game and let everyone else play ball.

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Why The Subway Series Doesn’t Mean Anything Anymore

When inter-league play began in 1997, New York City was ready to play ball.

The city was about to be split up between two teams that were eager to gain bragging rights and claim the city to be theirs.

The Subway Series between the New York Yankees and New York Mets used to be one of the most exciting rivalries in baseball.

There was the Roger Clemens-Mike Piazza incident.

Then Jose Reyes and David Wright came into the picture, being labeled instantly as one of the best short stop, third basemen combinations in the Major Leagues.

There was also the Francisco Rodriguez single-season saves record, which to some fanatics put him on Mariano Rivera status for a while.

Now that we are in the year 2010, lets take a step back and clear some things up.

If you asked any baseball fan today if they would rather have Derek Jeter or Jose Reyes at short stop, who do you think they would pick?

How about choosing between David Wright and Alex Rodriguez?

Francisco Rodriguez or Mariano Rivera?

Luis Castillo…sorry had to mention him, too.

Yeah, exactly.

Reyes isnt’ half the player that Derek Jeter is and Wright won’t ever put up the numbers that Alex Rodriguez has so far.

Mariano Rivera is arguably the greatest closer of all time.

As far as the actual rivalry between the teams are concerned, through 2009, the Yankees lead the series 42 games to 30.

Although the Mets have taken two out of the three games from the Yankees this season, I still don’t think the Mets belong on the same field as the Yankees.

With the Yankees owning 27 World Championships compared to the Mets lonely two championships, there simply is no comparison.

No matter how many times the Mets beat the Yankees during the regular season, they are still 25 championships behind.

Ask any Hall of Fame player from any sport what the most important accomplishment for any player or team is. I guarantee they will tell you that winning a championship is number one above any other individual achievement.

Mets fans may argue that their time will come, pleading that injuries have plagued them for the past few seasons.

Despite their injury issues, how could anybody take the Mets seriously after their epic collapse in 2007? They blew a seven game Division lead with 17 games left in the season to the Philadelphia Phillies.

You would think something like that would make a team more determined than ever to redeem themselves. Nope, not the 2008 Mets. They had a six and a half game lead on the Phillies with 17 games remaining, and blew it again!

In back-to-back years, they were denied the playoffs on the last day of the season.

Sure, the Yankees missed the playoffs in 2008.

Does anybody remember what happened in 2009?

Championship number 27 happened.

The difference between the Yankees and the Mets is that Mets have a lot of guys who LIKE to play baseball.

The Yankees on the other hand, have BASEBALL PLAYERS.

Mets fan, try to learn the difference between the two before attempting to justify why your team hasn’t won a championship since 1986.

By the way, the Mets had a shot at the World Series in 2000. The Yankees came out on top once again, proving that they were New York’s team.

How long will Mets fans have to wait before they are even be considered equals to the Yankees?

Let’s just say don’t hold your breath.



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Doing The Wright Thing

So far, this season hasn’t exactly been smooth for the New York Mets third basemen David Wright.

As of today, Wright is second in the National League in strikeouts with 58. Wright is on pace to strikeout 222 times, just one shy of Mark Reynolds single-season record that he set in 2009.

In 2009, Wright struck out just 140 times. If you think we as fans are the only ones confused, imagine how he must be feeling.

Wright is hitting only .261, with eight home runs, and 32 RBIs. It is safe to say that he’s having an extremely slow start.

Playing in New York doesn’t make things any better for any struggling athlete. With the constant reminders from every newspaper and reporter in the New York media, Wright is forced to live with people throwing it in his face that he just isn’t hitting.

With the Mets starting their inter-league play against the New York Yankees, it was time that the Mets third basemen started to get his act together.

In the first game, Wright went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, while also grounding out to end the game in a 2-1 loss.

Last night, Wright sought redemption with two RBI singles, both hit with two outs. Although he recorded another strikeout, you could tell he was making adjustments at the plate.

The issue with Wright’s performance right now isn’t that his offensive numbers are bad.

Hitting .260 with eight home runs, and 32 RBIs might be great for some players in the major leagues, but Wright has set the bar so high for himself, that he is forced to be constantly improving his numbers.

The one thing that has helped Wright get through his slump was his positive attitude. As many times as reporters would question him on why he hasn’t been producing, he always remained calm, and admitted although he isn’t hitting, his swing will come eventually.

The Mets are going to need Wright to drive in some runs, and be more productive at the plate, especially with all of the injuries they have had so far.

If Wright could continue to maintain a positive attitude and become more consistent, he will be able to turn his season around, and help the Mets fight for a playoff spot.

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Will Stephen Strasburg Live Up To His Expectations?

The arrival of Stephen Strasburg in the big leagues has to be one of the most anticipated stories of 2010.

The 21-year old phenom is cruising through the Minor Leagues with a 6-1 record, posting a god-like 0.89 ERA. With 49 strikeouts in 40.1 innings, Strasburg is the most dominating pitcher in the Minor Leagues.

He hasn’t allowed a run yet in Triple AAA Syracuse and doesn’t look like he is going to slow down any time soon.

Will Strasburg be answer to the Washington Nationals prayers? Or will he be just another draft bust?

Let’s look at a few draft picks from the past who were in Strasburg’s shoes.

In the past there have been plenty of over-hyped players that were rushed from the Minors to the big leagues.

Todd Van Poppel was one of the most hyped draft picks in the 1990 draft. Like Strasburg, he had a fastball that clocked in the upper 90’s. However, he only made 32 starts in the Minors and was rushed throughout the system. He finished his career with a 40-52 record in the Major Leagues, never winning more than seven games in a season, posting a career 5.58 ERA.

Ben McDonald was a college star at Louisiana State University, the same way Strasburg was a star at San Diego State. McDonald never quite lived up to his full potential, posting a mediocre 78-70 career record with a decent 3.91 ERA. He was on the Disabled List six times and never pitched in the post-season.

Brien Taylor topped out at 100 mph. He didn’t make it past Double-AA. Enough said.

All of the above were labeled “cant-miss prospects.” These players proved that if a young player is rushed, then don’t expect much out him in the long run.

For Strasburg, another added factor to the equation is having the pressure of being the No. 1 draft pick. What comes with being the No. 1 pick is the huge contracts.

Ben McDonald was given a record-setting salary for a draft pick, making $1.1 million.

Strasburg demolished any previous record signings when he signed a contract for $15.1 million.

With the enormous amount of pressure placed on Strasburg’s shoulders so far, he has handled himself quite well. We are all hoping his success in the Minors translates into a successful Major League career but we have to remember that history often repeats itself if we don’t make adjustments.

The Nationals have to watch Strasburg closely if they want him to ever live up to his full potential.

We are in an era where college stars are given the responsibility of saving the franchise that they are drafted to. They are suppose to impact the team in such a way that turns around their season and magically turn them into a winning franchise.

That isn’t too much to ask for, is it? Not from a 21-year old pitcher making $15 million a year, right?

We’ll have to wait and see if Strasburg rises above the pressure of being the number one pick and be the savior that the Nationals desperately need.

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Awakening Of a Sleeping Giant: Ken Griffey Jr.

Thank you ESPN. Thank you Seattle newspapers. Thank you Mariners fans. Thank you radio talk shows. Thank you sports world. Oh yeah, and thank you Kevin Gregg.

I say thank you to all of the above because you have awoken one of the greatest baseball players of all time from his slumber.

Throughout this season, Griffey had been criticized day in and day out on how he should retire. People have said he’s too old, doesn’t have the same bat anymore, and simply cannot perform at the Major League level.

Maybe they are right. Maybe he is getting older. Maybe he doesn’t have the same bat speed anymore. Maybe he doesn’t belong in the big leagues.

Maybe. Maybe not.

With the tying run on base in the bottom of the ninth, just two outs away from the club’s sixth loss in a row, Ken Griffey Jr. was called upon to save the day.

On a 2-1 pitch, Griffey lined a base hit to right field to deliver the game winning run and perhaps becoming the spark that the Mariners needed to turn this thing around.

On a night where all hope seemed lost, where the Mariners were just two outs away from another disheartening loss, the Kid came through with a clutch hit that will shut critics up for at least one night.

Every athlete has a mean streak in them that when tapped into, they become one of the most dangerous players on the field. A man can only take so much criticism before he starts to do something about it.

Being the leader of this team and the face of the franchise, its up to Griffey to help salvage the season.

Although he is only hitting .191 with no home runs, and as a team the Mariners they are ranked 28th in the entire league, you have to feel that the wheels are slowly turning in the Mariners’ favor.

So baseball world, sit back, relax and enjoy because I think the Mariners are on to something.

Oh and some advice on bashing one of the greatest players ever:

Don’t sleep on him.


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Professional Athletes: The Answer to Saving America’s Financial Woes

The United States is going through one of the worst financial crisis’ in American history. People are getting laid off everyday and the economy isn’t showing any signs of picking up. During this time of struggle, I turn on the TV to watch ESPN in order take my mind off the financial crisis.

The first headline I see is breaking news: “Ryan Howard Signs Contract Extension For $125 Million”.

I shake my head and turn off the TV.

At first I say to myself, “Well Howard deserves it, he hit 45 homeruns and drove in 141 runs. He helped his team reach the World Series and although they came up short to the Yanks, he has been one of their most consistent players.” 

As I try to justify Ryan Howard’s multi-million dollar contract-extension, I turn the TV back on, but this time I turn to the news channel. The first thing I see is, “MTA Laying Off More Than 1000 Workers”.

I shake my head once again, and hit the power button.

I can’t help but think about how everyday the country sinks deeper and deeper into debt. Good, hard-working people are being laid off because the government can’t afford to pay them.

But what’s confusing to me is while the government can’t afford to pay MTA workers, the Phillies can afford to pay Ryan Howard, one man, a $125 million sum for the next five years.

In a world where seemingly rational people coexist, how does this make any sense?

To put things into perspective, I did some research.

The average annual salary for a player in the MLB is $2,699,292. The average annual salary for a player in the NBA is between one and two million.

The average annual salary for an MTA track-worker is $51,000. That kind of makes you scratch your head.

For a human being to be paid what professional athletes are being paid, he should be able to do a lot more than hit a baseball 400 feet or throw a ball 90 mph.

I mean, If I’m paying someone vast amounts of money I would want these guys to be able to create new technology, or have super powers, or at least save lives.  

On a more realistic note, instead of the government imposing budget cuts to city, state, and federal workers (the people who keep our country functioning), they should be talking about making cuts to (or at least taxing) the incredible salaries that professional athletes earn.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that athletes do deserve some sort of compensation for the grueling length of long seasons and all the pressure they endure over the course of their careers.

Is A-Rod doing that much for humanity that he deserves $33 million a year? On an even more realistic note—wouldn’t as little as $10 million a year suffice?

Better yet, why pay him $30 million a year when we could pay him $100 million a year? Or how about $1 billion a year? That seems like a nice round number. Maybe we should set A-Rod up in the White House and start taking suggestions from him on foreign and domestic policy—hell, he gets paid enough. <!– /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:””; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –>


But seriously, I understand why A-Roid makes as much money as he does.

What I don’t understand is how this has been going on for so long without being addressed. With the country in debt and major companies facing financial problems, how can the Philadelphia Phillies afford to pay Ryan Howard $125 million and still sleep at night?

Imagine what that money could do if it went towards cancer research, or hiring more police officers, or firemen, or teachers. Imagine how many more jobs would be available with billions of dollars allocated away from players’ bank accounts and towards federal and state funding.

While this suggestion might seem unrealistic, it’s something that the public should think about when tax time rolls around. The next time you hear an athlete complain about his contract, I hope you’re shaking your head the same way I do when I turn on Sportcenter.


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