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The Five Worst Players To Hit 40 Home Runs

Before the 2010 season began, there were only 300 times in Major League history where someone hit 40 or more home runs in a single season. Only 150 of those occurrences were accomplished by players who have not been inducted into the Hall of Fame; it only counts as 114 if you don’t include the times when Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, and Jose Canseco reached that mark numerous times, and roughly 100 if you exclude everyone who has been linked with steroids.

124 games into the season, Major League Baseball added one more member to the 40+ Home Runs in One Season Club: Jose Bautista. He achieved the feat this past Monday after hitting two long bombs against the Yankees in a 3-2 Blue Jays victory.

With that being said, who would’ve thought that Jose Bautista, of all people, would be the first to tater 40 into the seats this season? The 40-home-run mark used to be a single season milestone for the Babe Ruths, the Willie Mayses, the Mickey Mantles, and the Hank Aarons of the world. Now that Jose Bautista has done it, along with several other people, we could probably think that any ol’ MLB player can do it.

Adam Dunn has done it five times in a row from 2004-2008, and he’s nowhere near as great as the players who have accomplished that feat.

(I was planning on writing this the day after Jose Bautista hit his 40th homer. However, now that he’s currently on pace to reach the 50-home-run mark, I thought, “What the heck… I’ll do it whenever.” Anyways… getting back on subject…)

Out of the thousands of players who have played the game, a total of 123 players have hit 40 home runs in a season, and 69 of those who are on that list are not in the Hall of Fame. It got me thinking about the Jose Bautistas of this semi-exclusive club.

We currently live in an era where people highly value the walk-off home run and giving away big bucks for a big bat. However, none of the all-time greats we think about ever appeared on the top 500 single-season strikeout list. Granted, if you pop 40 dingers in the Major Leagues, you’re worth something, but there are quite a few players who aren’t exactly what you would call a “great player”.

I keep thinking that “worst” is too strong of a word to describe these athletes, because most of these players are pretty good in their respective ways. But what other  word can I use to describe a list like this?

But as long as you get my drift, here is the presentation of the five “worst” players to ever hit 40 home runs.

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Should the Texas Rangers’ Michael Young Be an All-Star?

We are officially less than a week away from the 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

The 81st annual midseason exhibition will definitely be one to watch, as there are several dynamics to look forward to: a cluster of new faces, a bunch of superstars coming back, and the question of whether or not the National League can beat the American League for the first time in since 1996.

With that being said, there is one experienced veteran who is probably not going to see his name on the roster. He has made six consecutive All-Star appearances, and would love to see his streak continue with a seventh this year.

He is none other than the Texas Rangers’ Michael Young.

To this date, the 33-year old California native is on the verge of making it to the 200-hit plateau for the sixth time of his career.

Not only is he presently fourth in hits in the American League (106), but he is also ranked sixth in total bases (170), 10th in extra-base hits (38), and ninth in runs scored (56). He’s also hitting .306 with 12 home runs and 53 RBI.

“I love going to the All-Star Game,” Young said. “I have a great time every time I go. But we have five guys. Whether I go or not, it never changes, my goal. It’s always to have a big year and help our team win as many games as I can.”

Young finished in third place among third basemen in this year’s voting, behind Evan Longoria and Alex Rodriguez, respectively.

Four years ago, Young was the hero for the American League winners, hitting a game-winning two-run triple in the top of the ninth inning. That earned him the prestigious Ted Williams MLB All-Star MVP that year.

Young has quietly made a name for himself as one of the best contact hitters in the game today. His stellar offensive season so far for the Rangers has helped keep the franchise in first place in the American League West—not to mention lead them to the best 75-game start in franchise history.

And here is a fun fact: Michael Young’s six appearances in a row are third-most among active players, only behind Ichiro (10) and Albert Pujols (8).

However, when it comes to the 2010 All-Star Game, there is almost no chance of him making it off the Final Vote ballot.

Although he is a hitting machine, Young is surprisingly not needed to represent the American League. As consistent and productive as Young has been, there are three third basemen who deserve to be in the All-Star Game more than Young.

But what is coincidental is that all three All-Star third basemen play for the top three teams in the American League East. Let’s take a look at the third basemen who have already team.

First in line is Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays, who is leading his team in a push for a possible playoff berth with 13 homers and 61 RBI.

His WAR (wins above replacement) is also fifth in the American League. His power, speed, and defense continue to make this young star one of the best in the game. There is no way Michael Young is making the All-Star game if E-Longlorious doesn’t.

Another man at the hot corner playing in the All-Star game is a man who puts up big numbers year after year: Alex Rodriguez.

He is making his 13th appearance at the midsummer classic, and rightfully so. Third in the American League with 67 RBI, A-Rod just keeps piling up numbers which epitomizes why he is one of the best to ever play the game.

Unless he had missed a significant part of the first half, it would have been shocking if A-Rod didn’t put up a decent season and find himself in the All-Star game.

Rounding out the list is Adrian Beltre, who is contributing quite well to the Boston Red Sox’s run for the playoffs.

His first All-Star appearance is well deserved, as he has maintained a .334 batting average (good for fifth in the American League) and has hit 12 homers and brought in 54 runs.

Not only is he in the top five in batting average so far, but he is currently in the top five in hits (105), doubles (25), and range factor (both per game and per nine innings); he’s also in the top ten in total bases (168) and extra-base hits (38). Statistically, he is arguably the most successful Red Sox player offensively.

Does Michael Young deserve to be on the All-Star roster instead of Beltre? No.

But teammate Ian Kinsler doesn’t agree.

“Numbers-wise, he’s probably better than two of the guys who are going. I don’t know what Longoria’s numbers are or Alex’s but I can’t believe they’re better than Mike’s. He’s the leader of our team. He’s basically the glue that keeps our team together. All of us want him to go.”

Letting go of the aspect that the American League is already loaded with decent third basemen, there are still several reasons why Michael Young doesn’t stand a chance in winning the Final Vote. Take a look at the other four players in competition with him: Kevin Youkilis, Nick Swisher, Paul Konerko, and Delmon Young.

Youkilis and Swisher are currently neck and neck, and Paul Konerko recently passed Michael Young for third place on the ballot. My guess is that Young is going to be fourth on the list once the final results come out. With the huge Red Sox and Yankees fanbases, and the years that both Swisher and Youkilis have put up so far, I’d be shocked if one of them didn’t win it.

Personally, I believe that Kevin Youkilis deserve the nod out of all five of them. We’ll just see what happens.

He’s had a marvelous year, leading the league in runs scored (66) and cracking the top five in a myriad of statistics, including: wins above replacement (3.3), on-base percentage (.409), slugging percentage (.574), on-base plus slugging percentage (.983), walks (51), adjusted OPS (156), runs created (71), adjusted batting wins (2.3), offensive winning percentage (.764), and win probability added (2.6)…not to mention that he is a spectacular defensive first baseman.

If that’s not enough for you, I don’t know what is.

The Rangers are doing everything they can to get Michael Young as much support as possible. The Rangers and Nationals just announced a voting alliance—the “Third Base Ticket”—that they hope will benefit Young and Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman. This was after finding out that Nick Swisher is using his Twitter account to do the same thing.

“If I was making a commercial, I wouldn’t be in it. I’d hire someone to do it,” Young said. “That’s really not my style. I’ve been really fortunate that all the fans here in Texas have been so supportive of me. So we’ll see how it all shakes out. I’d love to go, but I’m not going to do any campaigning or anything like that.”

He went on saying that he’d be honored to go, and that the All-Star Game is always a lot of fun.

Will Young be the third consecutive third baseman to win the AL Final Vote, following Brandon Inge last year and Evan Longoria the year before? There are several reasons why one would vote for him, but are they good enough to beat the other four on the list?

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Cash N’ Nova Recollect Pleasures in Red Sox Win

Giacomo Casanova once said, “By recollecting the pleasures I have had formerly, I renew them, I enjoy them a second time, while I laugh at the remembrance of troubles now past, and which I no longer feel.” We could say that about quite a few players on the Red Sox roster, and the Red Sox franchise itself. It’s funny how you can use a quote by a ladies man and use it for baseball, isn’t it?


The Boston Red Sox defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 3-2, on Friday, thanks to a few guys. Two of these players include Kevin Cash, who was acquired by the BoSox this past Thursday from the Houston Astros in a swap for Angel Sanchez, and the guy who hit a grand slam in his first at-bat not three weeks ago in Daniel Nava.

With both Jason Varitek and Victor Martinez on the DL, the Red Sox were in need of a catcher. With no one else worthy of catching, Theo Epstein decided to take some action and acquire someone who has caught with the Red Sox (and Wakefield) before.

Wakefield took the mound in Fenway Park for the 201st time, passing Roger Clemens for the most lifetime starts in the chapel. Looking at Tim Wakefield’s stats before the game, one would tell you that he isn’t doing as well as Boston fans would like him to be pitching. A 2-6 record with a 5.21 ERA isn’t exactly something to brag about.

Facing him off would be a young maligned pitcher in Brad Bergesen, who needed to prove that he was actually Major League material for Baltimore. Before the game, he was 3-4 with a 6.83 ERA.

It was very evenly matched until the eighth inning which was when endurance was the vital factor to winning the game for both starters. In the end, Wakefield was the better pitcher, as he threw a total of 96 pitches (66 of them being strikes) and surrendering only two runs in eight innings of work.

“I felt fresh even after eight innings,” Wakefield said. “I was ready to go the ninth, and maybe even the 10th if necessary.”

Although Bergesen surrendered one more run than the knuckleballer, he did silence his critics that day, striking out a career-high seven batters in 7 2/3 innings, and allowing just five hits with no walks.

It’s been about two years since Cash was behind the plate catching for Wakefield on the mound. He told the press that he barely called for anything else besides the knuckleball.

“I think he threw two breaking balls and fastballs, everything else was a knuckleball,” Cash said. “Every time I have caught him, Wake gets ahead of the hitter.”

Cash made quite an impact of his own, gunning Adam Jones at second base in the second inning. Offensively, he batted ninth in the lineup and went 0-for-3 with two ground outs and a fly out.

Later on in the game, J.D. Drew showed off his power, hitting two solo jacks in his first two at-bats. It was the 17th multi-homer game of his career, and were the only runs scored until the bottom of the eighth inning.

With the game tied at 2, Boston needed to find out how to get on base against Bergesen before heading to the ninth. That’s exactly what Marco Scutaro did. With two outs, he kept the inning alive by hitting a double to left field. After that one hit, Juan Samuel decided to pull Bergesen out and give the ball to Will Ohman.

Due up to bat against him was Eric Patterson. However, manager Terry Francona decided to make his own move and substitute him with rookie Daniel Nava. Ahead in the count, 2-1, Nava took an inside pitch to the opposite field. The ball dropped just beyond the reach of Nick Markakis, Julio Lugo, and Ty Wigginton, and Marco Scutaro scored from second to give the Red Sox a 3-2 lead, and eventually the game.

“I was just looking for anything to drive and put the ball in play hard, which is funny because that isn’t what I did,” Nava said. “But it worked and I am sure we will take it.”

Wakefield’s first victory at Fenway this season was also his first home win in nearly a year; his last home win was on July 8 against the Oakland Athletics. After 200 starts at the chapel and having sole possession of the record he once shared with Clemens, the victory couldn’t have been more special… not to mention that the park is closing in on its 100th anniversary.

Somehow… some way… the Red Sox still find ways to win. With the latest two victims of injuries in Jason Varitek and Manny Delcarmen now on the disabled list, the total number of players on Boston’s DL has been increased to nine. The list includes Dustin Pedroia, Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Jeremy Hermida.

“You look at our lineup and you know with the injuries, it isn’t how we thought it would be, but as you can see, others guys like J.D. Drew had two huge knocks,” Nava said. “I don’t think anyone is going up there think they have to carry the team.”

With their latest victory, they are now only 1/2 a game behind the New York Yankees for first place in the AL East, and the best record in baseball. How long can the Red Sox keep this streak going? We’ll find out…


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Cardinals Take Advantage of Win-Winn Situation

I think we can all agree when I say that adding depth to your lineup is a key factor to a winning team. Actually, several people overlook the fact that having a good bench is almost mandatory in a sports team where injuries frequently occur, and players go through slumps from time to time. Finally, a team that is in the National League, where pinch hitting is almost automatic and the double switch is seen a lot more often, needs to rely on someone with a good bat (and maybe some decent speed from time to time).

That’s why I believe the St. Louis Cardinals signing outfielder Randy Winn on Saturday was a great idea.

After the 35-year old switch-hitter got designated for assignment last month, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak wanted to get a hold of him as soon as possible.

“He is a veteran outfielder who we think will help improve our depth,” the GM stated. “His versatility and experience should be a real nice fit for our roster.”

The twelve-year veteran has struggled this year, playing 29 games for the Yankees and hitting a mere .213 batting average with one home run, eight RBI, and one stolen base; he only started 16 of those games.

As you may see just by looking at his statistics, Winn’s career numbers are dwindling. However, the acquisition of Winn wasn’t to get better numbers for the Cardinals; St. Louis’s three starting outfielders in Matt Holliday; Colby Rasmus; and Ryan Ludwick have already compiled 22 home runs and driven in 79 RBI, along with a nice combined .296 average.

In contrast, they Cardinals’ management decides to move Jon Jay back down to AAA, where he can spend more valuable time and experience there and collect more quality at-bats. This doesn’t even account for the fact that they just sent down Joe Mather down to AAA, as well.

Randy Winn has had his fair share of games in all three positions of the outfield. With Felipe Lopez, the two of them definitely give LaRussa a lot more options to work with.

His veteran presence on the bench, along with his flexibility on the offensive and defensive end, will contribute a great deal in the long run for St. Louis.

I have nothing but good things to say about this move, and all the respect for Randy Winn. Whether it’s in the eyes of the general manager, Randy Winn, Jon Jay, or Tony LaRussa, this move benefits everyone. It’s quite ironic how a solid move to improve the future of the franchise can be signing a 12-year vet like Winn.

Props to John Mozeliak for being on the ball about this move. Let’s see how it plays out.

On one final note: In his first at-bat as a Cardinal, Winn pinch-hit for Kyle McClellan in the sixth inning of Saturday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. In a five-pitch at-bat, starting pitcher Chris Narveson was able to get Randy Winn to ground out to shortstop with a runner or first.

On another note: Winn turns 36 in three days. Happy early birthday, Randy!

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Houston Astros’ Stars Shining Again

With June officially underway in what seems to be a very entertaining baseball season, we have seen a lot of surprises in baseball, in terms of teams as well as players.

With a third of the baseball season over, Jason Heyward has led the Braves to the best record in the NL East division so far; the Cincinnati Reds’ 40-year old set-up man in Arthur Rhodes has proven that hardly anyone can get on base when he takes the mound; and the Blue Jays’ batting lineup has been crushing the ball so well that people are pondering whether or not they’ll be able to break the single-season team record for home runs.

I was checking out the current standings on, and I discovered that there is only one team left who stands undefeated in June.

There is still one team that is riding on a four-game winning streak. I’m talking about the team that started off with an 0-8 record and still has the worst record in the National League— the Houston Astros.

I would consider the Astros’ start to be pathetic.

In their eight straight losses, their offense was horrible, as they scored one run or zero runs five times; they averaged 1.75 runs if you count the other three games.

Just when it looked like they might have been starting to win again, winning eight of their next 10 games, they continued their dreadful run when they lost another eight straight; they averaged 1.625 runs during that stretch.

There was a whole lot of disappointment, not only in terms of the standings, but with regards of the productivity of the star players, as well.

Astros’ ace Roy Oswalt, for instance, wants to be traded because the Astros’ bats are silent whenever he’s on the mound.

Who could blame him, really? He is debunking his season’s 3-7 record with his 2.78 ERA and 1.079 WHIP. Lance Berkman has been more aggravated than anyone on the offensive side.

Going into June, his batting average was .227 with five home runs and 17 RBI. That is not too great for a five-time all-star.

Berkman, who has been on the Astros since 1999, took charge by waking up early in the morning and trying to get a better feel of hitting the ball; you can click on the link below to hear what he has to say about his recent struggles.

After working hard on his swing, he told reporters that he established a better feeling and a good swing pattern, thus taking a step into the right direction.

On that very same day, Berkman and the Astros defeated Matt Capps and the Nationals, 8-7, thanks to Berkman’s two-run walk-off single with two outs.

In just one game, Berkman turned his whole season around, driving in [almost] a third of the runs that he drove in during the first two months.

Since that batting practice session, he has hit .500 with a homer and eight RBI in the last four games. He’s also increased his batting average from .227 to .260 in that short amount of time, so it looks like he has found his swing.

Another star on the team who hasn’t been performing to his potential this season is Wandy Rodrgiuez. He had a pretty solid April, but he started having problems, and wasn’t performing up to par with his decent numbers in the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

He currently has an ERA of 5.07, and is looking to do a lot better with locating his pitches in the near future.

He had a pretty solid outing on June 2, pitching five innings, striking out eight, and allowing only five hits and one run. Hopefully, this is his way of redeeming himself to what was an awful May: 1-5, 6.75 ERA, .349 BAA, 1.887 WHIP.

Carlos Lee made an impact in Thursday’s game when he hit a walk-off home run against Matt Capps two games later.

As of June 5, he’s batting 16 points above the Mendoza line, and in his batted .324 with two home runs and nine RBI in his last eight games. Things are looking up for the stars of Houston.

I think it’s safe to say that the Astros have some sort of bipolar disorder if you look at the first two months of the season: they’re either red hot or ice cold.

They will face their NL Central rivals, the Chicago Cubs, for their second game of this three-game series. And guess who’s starting for Houston? None other than Roy Oswalt.

The offense will have to be dealing with star-veteran Ryan Dempster, who just came off a 125-pitch outing, and a pretty bad start (six 2/3 innings, six ER, nine H, three BB.)

Now’s the time for the ‘Stros to take advantage.

Will the Astros make it five out of five? Even though they have the second lowest run support in the National League, it’s improving day by day. Plus, they have a pretty solid starter on the mound… so it wouldn’t would be a bad bet to go with the Astros on this one. In addition to that, Oswalt only threw 53 pitches during his last outing, so he should be coming back strong.

Also, since we’re seeing some signs of improvement by Houston’s star players, do you think that there is a chance that the Astros could turn this season around and make something out of it?

I don’t think anyone in their right mind would think that Houston is going to come back from a bad start like this and clinch the division in September but you never know.

You never know what the ‘Stros can accomplish. Just look at September 2006.

Link to Lance Berkman’s recent struggles:

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Casey Blake’s Balk-Off Wins Ballgame for Bleeding Blue

Usually, when people hear about a walk-off in Dodger Stadium, it involves an Andre Ethier walk-off home run. Although he was a part of a turning point in this game, and although he was back in the lineup for the first time in 15 games after suffering a broken pinkie finger, he wasn’t the reason why they won last night: Casey Blake was.

The latest walk-off victory for the Dodgers happened against the Diamondbacks on Monday, when the jesting third baseman played possum with relief pitcher Esmerling Vasquez.

The sneaky veteran took a few steps away from third base for his normal baserunner lead, faked making a run for home, and moved back to his regular lead. As Vasquez came to a set position, he reacted by taking the baseball out of his glove and then stepping off the rubber. As first-base umpire Tim Timmons saw this, he called the balk, giving Blake the extra base from third and the 5-4 win.

“Most of the time it doesn’t work,” Blake explained. “But sometimes it does.”

The victory finished the Dodgers’ May with a 20-8 record—their best May since they went 21-7 in 1962.

Joe Torre had no reason behind how the Dodgers won the game except for the simple fact that “[they] lucked out.”

Not only did they win the game in a bizarre way, but they also tied the game with a little help from the Diamondbacks’ defense. Down by two runs with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Andre Ethier (baseball’s top clutch performer who just got re-activated into the lineup) came up in the clutch again by hitting a routine ground ball to Kelly Johnson with runners on second and third.

Johnson bobbled the ball, giving a chance for Ethier to make it to first. The second baseman then threw the ball away, allowing both Rafael Furcal and Matt Kemp to score and tie the game. Johnson was charged with two errors on that play.

“He made an error at a really bad time,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He’s been very sure-handed; he’s played every day and done a nice job for us. It’s unfortunate that it came at that time. It’s a killer. The ball was hit pretty hard and things like that happen, but it’s a play he normally makes.”

There was one more piece to this crazy puzzle. Before Blake’s little stunt, James Loney was on base. After drawing a walk, Blake singled to center field, putting runners on first and second. With nobody out, Russell Martin comes up to the plate.

The ball squirted away from catcher Chris Snyder, and third baseman Augie Ojeda had run toward the infield; it’s funny because the ball was about to be thrown to the pitcher by the time Ojeda moved inward. Loney attempted to steal third, but was too wary about being caught in a pickle and tried running back to second base.

In that situation, it was too late to think, as he was caught in a rundown anyway and was tagged out a few steps away from third; luckily, Casey Blake was smart enough to move to second during the rundown.

“I just saw him real close to the mound and I just reacted to him being so close to the mound,” Loney said. “If I kept going, I probably would’ve got there. But even in that situation, still, I mean why risk it? I just reacted in a bad way.”

All of that happened in one game. If that’s not a crazy game, then I don’t know what is.

On a few more notes:

This marks the first balk-off win for the Dodgers since Roger McDowell of the New York Mets balked in a run on May 28, 1989.

It is the first time a Major League game has ended on a balk since September 8, 2008.

The Diamondbacks hit three home runs in the first two innings of the ballgame. Justin Upton hit a two-run shot to the opposite field in the first inning, Chris Young led off the second inning with his eighth homer, and Chris Snyder hit his eighth of the season, as well. That’s right: all the Diamondbacks runs came off of home runs.

Manny Ramirez went deep in the second inning, hitting his 550th career home run. The solo shot put the Dodgers on the board, but still trailing, 4-1.

Chad Billingsley settled down after giving up those three home runs in the first two innings. He struck out 11 batters, which is a season high for him. The last time he struck out that many batters was on June 30, when he struck out 11 against the Rockies.

Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds was pulled out of the game in the ninth inning due to the recurrence of a right quad injury. He is currently listed as day-to-day.

This marks the Diamondbacks’ eighth straight loss. After winning four in a row, they’re back in the saddle.

After a month of battling out of last place, the Dodgers finally look like they have things back on track. They’re currently in second place (two games out of first), battling with the Padres, who look like they’re coming down to earth. The Dodgers’ pitching is only getting better, and Andre Ethier is back. Plus, they’re coming off a very good month, winning 20 games. What more could a Dodgers’ fan ask for?


Blake’s balk-off.

Kelly Johnson’s mishap.

Recap of the game , courtesy of

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Alex Rodriguez Belts 20th Career Grand Slam

It seems like when there’s one milestone for New York Yankees’ superstar, Alex Rodriguez, to achieve, another one is waiting to be accomplished right after that.

On May 14th, A-Rod passed Frank Robinson on the all-time home run list by hitting his 587th home run.

On May 17th, he hit a game-tying home run against the Red Sox that put him in the top 20 of the all-time RBI list.

There has also been a discussion about him needing only one more stolen base to become the seventh member of the elite 300-300 club.

After today’s game against the Cleveland Indians, he has something else to put in the record books. Rodriguez became the third player in Major League history to hit 20 grand slams.

This broke the tie he had with Eddie Murray, giving him sole possession of third place on the all-time grand slam list. He is only behind Lou Gehrig (23) and Manny Ramirez (21) in this category, and it doesn’t look like he is done hitting them.

With the Yankees clinging onto a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Indians intentionally walked Mark Teixeira to load the bases.

Rodriguez showed them that one must never put a runner on base intentionally when he comes up to bat, hitting a tater off a 3-1 pitch from reliever Chris Perez to dead center field; the ball must have landed well over 410 feet.

I guess when you have runners on first and second, and you intentionally walk the batter before A-Rod, he will let you know that you made a mistake putting a man on base.

If you’re keeping track, A-Rod is now only 10 home runs away from accomplishing a feat that only six other players have done: hit 600 home runs. Surely, he’ll be able to do it by the end of this season (if he doesn’t get injured). The question is, “When will that special day be?”

Fun fact: the other grand slam that A-Rod hit during this season was, indeed, the homer that broke the tie that he had with Frank Robinson on the all-time home run list. The Yankees were facing the Twins that day… and the Twins also walked Teixeira intentionally before came up to bat.

Seriously… it seems as if teams want him to break the record.

On another note: What other feats will A-Rod be able to accomplish this season? Feel free to write them down below…

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Seattle Mariners: Great Pitching Wins Games

Of late, everyone has been talking about how terrible the Mariners are.

“Chone Figgins is a bust.”

“Jose Lopez can’t play defense.”

“Ken Griffey Jr. should retire.”

These are some of the printable examples of what fans have said on the Internet over the past couple of months.

After winning 85 games last season, they got rid of their weakest starting pitcher in Carlos Silva; acquired an outfielder they hoped would provide them with offense in Milton Bradley; and acquired one of the best lead-off men in the game, and one of the top free agents, in Chone Figgins.

Yet, things are worse than they were before.

47 games into the season Seattle is 19-28, six-and-a-half games behind the AL West-leading Texas Rangers.

No one has anything good to say about the Mariners—at all.

There was so much hype about the Mariners’ offseason moves: from stealing Chone Figgins from a division rival, to acquiring former Cy Young award winner Cliff Lee, to signing several players they believed would jump-start their awful offense.

These were all great ideas, which is why several people jumped on the, “Mariners winning the AL West,” bandwagon.

Last season, the Mariners were dead last in the American League in runs scored, on-base percentage (OBP), and on-base slugging percentage (OPS).

They were second-to-last in hits, batting average, slugging percentage, and total bases.

Take out those categories, and which meaningful categories do you have left?

Stolen bases? Okay, Seattle was middle-of-the-pack (eighth out of 14 teams) in stolen bases.

Strikeouts? Seattle was eighth out 14 in that category, too. Home runs? 11th.

With 640 runs scored, and 692 runs allowed, the Pythagorean winning percentage theory estimated that the Mariners won only 75 games, 10 games less than they actually won.

I think it’s safe to say that the Mariners’ offense didn’t carry them to a 24-game improvement.

What really won the Mariners all those games was their phenomenal pitching staff.

Rick Adair, and John Wetteland have done a very good job coaching the Mariners staff, and they have one of the best pitchers in baseball with Felix Hernandez on their side.

However, it took more than just King Felix to lower the team’s ERA to 3.87; they were first in the league in that category.

Jarrod Washburn, for example (a career 4.13 ERA pitcher before 2009) was 8-6 in 20 starts, and had a career-low ERA and WHIP.

It doesn’t end there as Ryan Rowland-Smith, finished with a 3.74 ERA and a 1.183 WHIP.

Erik Bedard was even better, posting a 2.82 ERA, a 1.193 WHIP with 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings.

I also failed to mention, King Felix’s 19-5 record, 2.49 ERA, 217 strikeouts, and 1.135 WHIP (all career bests), which earned him enough votes for second place in the AL Cy Young voting.

If you thought their starting rotation was good, take a few seconds to reflect on their bullpen.

David Aardsma was the new closer, and really impressed with 38 saves in 42 opportunities. He really improved his game, and cut his ERA down by over three runs.

Mark Lowe was his set-up man, and did very well during the last four months of the season. Sure, he blew a few leads and had a rough beginning and end of the season, but he was almost unhittable during the entire summer with a .176 opponent batting average, and a 2.06 ERA.

Sean White had a very good season as well, and Shawn Kelley was good backup middle reliever during his rookie season.

Now that everyone remembers the key reasons why the Mariners were so good last year, one might wonder, “Why aren’t they doing just as good? Even though they still have an atrocious offense, they still have the pitching.”

The answer is simple.

How easy is it for Seattle’s pitching staff to repeat their incredible season? Not very, to say the least.

The Mariners are still doing well when it comes to pitching, but not AS well. 

They’re second in ERA so far this season (3.72), but they still need a catalyst outside of pitching to propel the Mariners forward.

On top of that, the Mariners have resembled an infirmary from the get-go.

Eric Bedard is on the 60-day DL, Cliff Lee injured himself in a Spring Training game, Josh Bard (Seattle’s most productive catcher) was recently placed on the DL for the second time this season, Adam Moore (another catcher) has a bruised left heel and a jammed left knee, and infielder Jack Wilson is dealing with a hamstring injury.

The advice I have for Mariners fans, or for anyone who follows the Mariners, is to stay positive. This is a long season and the Mariners are 19-28, six-and-a-half games behind the Texas Rangers in a division where anything can happen, in a league where anything can happen, and in a sport where anything can happen.

The reason I say this is because anyone could’ve said the same thing about the Mariners last year (without the hype in the beginning of the season,) when they were 21-26, and seven games out of first in their first 47 games.

All one can hope for is a more productive offense (like last year), quick healing for those on the DL, good pitching to continue, and more wins.

All I know is, that I don’t think the second-best hitter on any team should be a 36-year-old designated hitter.

No disrespect to Mike Sweeney, because he’s doing pretty well for himself, but the Mariners need to rely on someone else for their offense; someone younger, and more versatile.

Good pitching (all around) is the key to a successful season, and the Mariners proved that last year.

However, to become a successful team, everyone has to pitch in. It doesn’t look like the offense or defense has done much to help Seattle yet, aside from Ichiro.

Incredible pitching is what got Seattle above .500 last year, and there’s still plenty of time for these guys to get out of their slumps.


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The Orioles’ Biggest Problem (and How to Fix It)

It’s been nearly 12.5 years since the Baltimore Orioles have been in a playoff game. It’s been 12.5 years since Baltimore has last finished a season with a final record above the .500 mark. It’s been nearly 5.5 years since the Orioles have seen any place in the final standings better than fourth (and if you don’t count the 2004 season, it’s been nearly 12.5 years, as well).

There have been a number of stars on the Orioles who have come and gone during this time span: guys like Cal Ripken, Mike Mussina, Roberto Alomar, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Belle, B.J. Surhoff, Brady Anderson, Melvin Mora, Tony Batista, Javy Lopez, Miguel Tejada, B.J. Ryan, Erik Bedard, Aubrey Huff, Nick Markakis, and Brian Roberts, just to name a few.

Even with all of these acquisitions and players who have come up in the Orioles’ farm system, the team has yet to improve. The team that has now been considered mediocre (or worse) for over a decade.

With all these great stars, you might be thinking, “How come they haven’t done well?” To be quite honest, some of the teams the Baltimore Orioles crafted in the first decade of the new millennium had more talent than the teams in 1996 and 1997 (the only two times they have made it to the playoffs since they last won the World Series in 1983).

For instance, look at at the lineup for 2004 (the only time they managed to seal a place outside of fourth or fifth in the AL East):

1. Brian Roberts (2B)

2. David Newhan (DH)

3. Melvin Mora (3B)

4. Miguel Tejada (SS)

5. Rafael Palmeiro (1B)

6. B.J. Surhoff (LF)

7. Jay Gibbons (RF)

8. Larry Bigbie (CF)

9. Geronimo Gil (C)


That’s a pretty talented batting lineup if you ask me. Granted their pitching wasn’t all that great, but it wasn’t all that horrible.

Now, it’s six seasons after the 2004 season, and the Orioles are not only struggling, but with almost a third of the season over they are atrociously on their worst downfall since 1937 (winning-percentage wise) if they don’t turn things around quickly. Some even remember those days when Baltimore was actually considered a winning franchise, through the 60s up until the mid 80s, and again in the mid 90s. The Orioles have watched several legends come and go, but those days are long gone… or so it seems.

Why is this? Well, they still have some pretty experienced veterans who are still worth the money on their contracts in Markakis, Kevin Millwood, and Roberts ( although Roberts is injured), and they have quite a few young guys in Matt Weiters, Adam Jones, and Nolan Reimold, who all emerged last season and proved that they have what it takes to stay in the big leagues. They have an experienced starting pitcher who still has game in Millwood, along with a couple of stars who have the potential to have bright futures in Jeremy Guthrie, Chris Tillman, and Brian Matusz. To top it all off, to work with their pitching, they have a pitching coach who won Baseball America’s MLB Coach of the Year award in 2006 with the Marlins in Rich Kranitz.

*Fun fact: Rich Kranitz was Greg Maddux’s first professional pitching coach in Pikeville, Kentucky in 1984 when Maddux pitched for the Pikeville Cubs.

Better pitching and offense cannot be the solution to this long problem in particular. Could it be the fact that Baltimore needs a new manager? As of late, there has been speculation that there will be a sixth change coming up soon, and that current manager Dave Trembley will lose his job fairly soon. Trembley took Sam Perlozzo’s spot in 2007, 69 games into the season. With the O’s riding on the worst two-month start of the season in the Majors, people think it is time for a new manager.  

Since ’97, the Orioles management has made five managerial changes, which includes a four-year segment with Mike Hargrove; Hargrove led the Indians to five straight division titles and two American League pennants in the mid 90s. None of them were successful in achieving the goal that seems like an eternity to achieve: to reach .500.

This brings me to the main point of this article: what the Orioles have been lacking for the past 12.5 years. If you look at the attendance numbers, you can see that they have decreased radically. They were ranked first in the American League in attendance at one point in time. 1997’s total crowd attendance was the franchise’s peak, as they generated an audience of 3,711,132 people (45,816 per game). Since then, there have only been two occurrences in which the Orioles’ attendance has increased… and both times were not significant at all.

The numbers speak for themselves:

1998: 3,684,650 (45,490 per game), ranked 1st in the AL in attendance

1999: 3,433,150 (42,385 per game), ranked 2nd in the AL in attendance

2000: 3,297,031 (40,704 per game), ranked 2nd in the AL in attendance

2001: 3,094,841 (38,686 per game), ranked 4th in the AL in attendance

2002: 2,682,439 (33,117 per game), ranked 3rd in the AL in attendance

2003: 2,454,523 (30,303 per game), ranked 5th in the AL in attendance

2004: 2,744,018 (33,877 per game), ranked 5th in the AL in attendance (improvement)

2005: 2,624,740 (32,404 per game), ranked 5th in the AL in attendance

2006: 2,153,139 (26,582 per game), ranked 10th in the AL in attendance

2007: 2,164,822 (26,726 per game), ranked 11th in the AL in attendance (improvement)

2008: 1,950,075 (24,376 per game), ranked 10th in the AL in attendance

2009: 1,907,163 (23,545 per game), ranked 9th in the AL in attendance

So that’s that. The Orioles’ total attendance per year has dropped by over 1 1/2 million in just a little over a decade…


It’s amazing what can happen in 12 years. It seems like yesterday when people were talking about being excited about going to an Orioles game. Now, for those devoted Orioles fans who have watched several games it may seem like a chore. The fans have no motivation for their team to give, and therefore have no motivation to give for their players. At Camden Yards, it’s almost safe to say that there is no home-field advantage for the O’s because there are more fans for the other team than Baltimore’s very own. There is, pretty much, no hope in what the O’s do and fans almost know what the outcome is… so why bother go?

*If that doesn’t say enough for you, 2010’s season has reached an ultimate low. On April 12, just a month and a half ago, the Orioles (or shall I say their fans) set a franchise record for the lowest attendance figure since the opening of Camden Yards. Not only that, but it still stands as the record to beat for the lowest attendance figure so far this season in the MLB.

What really interested me, however, was when I looked at the attendance numbers and found that there was a drastic downfall from 2005 to 2006. What could have possibly gone wrong? They only lost four more games than they did the previous year (going from 74-88 to 70-92), so what caused this huge decrease? Well… how about the fact that Sammy Sosa played for the Orioles at the time? It may strike people as odd, but even though he sucked, a name like Sammy Sosa generates money for the franchise. Big names like Sosa, Bonds, A-Rod, Pujols, etc. generate a lot of money. The fans get behind them and start rooting for them… and the team.

Not only that, but bigger names in the MLB tend to have a lot of experience under their belts. A great example is Ivan Rodriguez with the Nationals. One of the greatest catchers of all time, and not only is his contract worth very little for a superstar ($3 million), but he’s playing a very big part in why the Nationals are currently above .500 and in third place in the NL East division.

However, with that being said, guys that generate a lot of money usually cost a lot of money. Now… do the Orioles have money like that to acquire someone who will generate that kind of money for the Orioles organization? No… not really. Their payroll this year is a little over $81 million, which is good for 17th in the MLB. Plus, with the attendance they’ve been getting day in and day out, it seems like owner Peter Angelo might get into some financial trouble with that payroll and might need to keep a tighter budget.

This made me think about a couple of players who might be interested in contributing to the organization. Well, Ken Griffey Jr. is a big name, and he’s making only $2.35 million this year. I don’t think he’ll be up for that, though. Many baseball fans are pressuring him saying that it’s time for him to retire, and I think he’d much rather do it in Seattle than anywhere else.

Pedro Martinez? Eh…  looking back at his history with the Boston Red Sox, I don’t think he’d accept a contract with the Orioles even if they offered him a decent amount of money.

What about: Jim Thome? He’s a pretty interesting case. He’s in the 500 home run club currently playing for the Twins. He’s not doing so well, so it’s not like he’s going to be asking for a lot more than his current $1.5 million contract with the Twins. However, he has yet to win a World Series… and I don’t think he’s going to want to go to a team that’s on its way of going on 13 straight seasons under .500. Plus, if he sticks around long enough, Thome could be on the verge of hitting 600 home runs. He’s 31 shy of the record now.

There are limited options here, but general manager Andy MacPhail needs to realize that he needs to generate a profit somehow… some way. And let’s face it: he isn’t really doing it with the roster he currently has. He’s not putting butts in seats… and he needs to get those butts back in there to cheer the Orioles on.

Do something… or keep “phailing.”

Anyone have any other ideas or feedback…? Please feel free to comment. I’m always up for new suggestions and/or different opinions.

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