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New York Yankees Stars Top List of Major League Baseball’s Best-Selling Jerseys

Although in the twilight of his Hall of Fame career, New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter’s appeal among baseball fans is eons from fading into the sunset.

According to a joint release by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Player Association, Jeter, Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer and Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay top the list of baseball’s most popular jerseys. The rankings were based on sales of official Majestic jerseys for the 2010 calendar year.

Players representing 11 different clubs made up the list of the 20 most popular jerseys—including seven of the eight teams that made the playoffs in 2010—with players from seven different teams comprising the top ten.

At the age of 36, Jeter represented as the elder statesman of the group, but yet his jersey still managed to outsell those of his younger counterparts, including the three rookie sensations that appeared on the list (Jason Heyward, Stephen Strasburg, Buster Posey).

The Yankees captain was joined on the list by teammates Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, who had the ninth and eleventh best-selling jerseys respectively.

The Phillies had the most players in the top 20 with four (Halladay, Chase Utley, Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard).

The list was comprised of two catchers, four pitchers, ten infielders, four outfielders, 16 players who made the 2010 All-Star Game and 15 players who were members of teams that qualified for the postseason.

MLB Most Popular Jerseys

Based on Majestic 2010 sales figures

1. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

2. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins

3. Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies

4. Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies

5. *Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies

6. Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals

7. Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers

8. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox

9. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees

10. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants

11. Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees

12. Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves

13. Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

14. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers

15. Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins

16. Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox

17. Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers

18. Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies

19. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

20. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays

*Lee played for the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers in 2010, before signing with Philadelphia in November. His ranking reflects sales of jerseys for all three teams.

In a related news item, Major League Baseball also announced that sales of officially licensed MLB merchandise reached an all-time high in 2010, with total licensing revenues up six percent over the previous year.

Products featuring the marks of the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Phillies and Cubs were the hottest sellers last year.

MLB Licensing 2010 Club Rankings

Based on sales of all licensed products for the 2010 calendar year

1. New York Yankees

2. Boston Red Sox

3. Los Angeles Dodgers

4. Philadelphia Phillies

5. Chicago Cubs

6. St. Louis Cardinals

7. Chicago White Sox

8. Atlanta Braves

9. Minnesota Twins

10. Detroit Tigers

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This Day in Black Sports History: February 5, 1934

On today’s edition of This Day in Black Sports History, the 77th birthday of the man who is still widely recognized as Major League Baseball’s home run king is celebrated.

Born in Mobile, AL on Feb. 5, 1934, Henry Louis Aaron grew up in relatively poor surroundings, picking cotton on a farm and hitting bottle caps with sticks because his family couldn’t afford baseball equipment.

Aaron’s early fascination with the national pastime would also be evidenced through the creation of his own bats and balls, made from materials he found on the streets.

Thus, it came as no surprise when Aaron excelled on the diamond in high school, leading his team to the Mobile Negro High School Championship as a freshman and a sophomore.

During this period, in addition to flourishing as a third baseman and outfielder for Central High School, Aaron proved to be equally adept on the gridiron, which earned him several football scholarship offers. However, Aaron would turn his back on these tempting offers to doggedly pursue a career in professional baseball.

Batting cross-handed, as a right-hander with his left hand above his right, Aaron’s power-hitting exploits would garner him a tryout with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949, at the tender age of 15.

Although Aaron didn’t make the team, he signed to a minor league contract only two years later, with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League, where his impact would be felt immediately.

As an 18-year-old standout, Aaron would play a crucial role in helping the Clowns win the 1952 Negro League World Series. As a result, after playing in only 26 official Negro League games, Aaron received offers from two MLB teams, the Boston Braves and the New York Giants.

“I had the Giants’ contract in my hand. But the Braves offered 50 dollars a month more,” Aaron recalled years later. “That’s the only thing that kept Willie Mays and me from being teammates—50 dollars.”

Despite maintaining an extremely high standard of play with the Braves’ minor league affiliates, winning the Rookie of the Year Award and the Most Valuable Player Award in successive years, Aaron, like many African-American baseball players of his time, was an undeserved victim of racism and segregation.

Traveling through the southeastern portion of the country, particularly around Jacksonville, Florida, Aaron was frequently separated from his team because of the Jim Crow laws. As a result, he often had to make his own housing and meal arrangements when the team shouldered the responsibility for his white teammates.

Encouraged by his brother, Herbert Jr., Aaron remained steadfast in his pursuit of playing in the major leagues, an opportunity he received on April 13, 1954. Aaron went hitless in five at-bats against the Cincinnati Reds.

In his rookie season, Aaron hit .280 with 13 home runs and 69 RBI’s. Aaron wouldn’t match or fall below these totals, in all three categories, until 1975, his 22nd season in the majors.

From 1955-1975, Aaron made a record-tying 21 All-Star appearances and won three consecutive Gold Glove Awards (1958-1960), while winning the National League MVP Award and a World Series Championship in the same year (1957).

Throughout this span, Aaron’s home run hitting prowess would gradually inch him closer to shattering the most hallowed record in professional sports, MLB’s all-time home run record held by Babe Ruth since 1935.

With Aaron one homer short of tying Ruth’s record leading into the offseason in 1973, a growing contingent emerged who didn’t want to see the day a black man surpass “The Babe” on the all-time home run list.

In the winter of 1973, Aaron was the unfortunate recipient of a cavalcade of hate mail and death threats. Even media members who provided positive coverage weren’t spared, called “nigger lovers” for chronicling Aaron’s chase.

But much like his experiences growing up in Alabama and playing in the minor leagues, Aaron pressed forward, and on April 8, 1974, in front of a 53,775 people in Atlanta, Aaron hit career home run number 715 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully captured the moment eloquently and poignantly:

“What a marvelous moment for baseball; what a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia; what a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly for Henry Aaron…and for the first time in a long time, that poker face in Aaron shows the tremendous strain and relief of what it must have been like to live with for the past several months.”

“Hammerin’ Hank” would retire two seasons later with a .305 batting average, 755 home runs, 2,297 RBI’s, and 3,771 hits on his ledger, clearly warranting induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility on August 1, 1982.

In 1999, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Aaron surpassing Babe Ruth’s career home run mark, and to honor Aaron’s contributions to baseball, MLB created the “Hank Aaron Award,” an annual award given to the hitters voted the most effective in each respective league. That same year, baseball fans named Aaron to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

Not bad for a kid born on this day, February 5, in 1934.

Happy birthday, Mr. Aaron.

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This Day in Black Sports History: February 4, 1952

When Jack Roosevelt Robinson made his major league debut on April 15, 1947 in front of 26,623 spectators at Ebbets Field, including more than 14,000 black patrons, he became the first African-American player to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier, which segregated the sport for more than 55 years.

But before his life and legacy were sewn into the fabric of American history, Robinson was born in 1919 to a family of sharecroppers in Cairo, Georgia, where his mother single-handedly raised Robinson and his four older siblings.

After moving to Pasadena, California, Robinson’s family lived in relative poverty while Jackie came to learn about discrimination, racism and segregation at an early age, often denied recreational opportunities because of his skin color.

Inspired by his older brothers, Frank and Mack, Robinson would excel nonetheless, winning varsity letters in four sports—baseball, basketball, football and track—at John Muir High School. He went on to play those same sports at UCLA, becoming that school’s first athlete to earn four varsity letters.

Due to financial difficulties, Robinson was forced to leave college in 1941. He decided to enlist in the United States Army, rising to the rank of second lieutenant before he was court-martialed for objecting to incidents of racial discrimination.

Robinson was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 1943.

Two years later, Robinson signed a contract to play for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Baseball League and traveled all over the Midwest with the team for a full season.

One season in the Negro Leagues was all Robinson would need to garner tremendous interest from Branch Rickey, club president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who approached Robinson about joining the organization in 1947.

Then, when he stepped onto Ebbets Field in a Dodgers uniform, Robinson pioneered the integration of professional athletics in America and courageously challenged the deeply-rooted custom of racial segregation in both the North and the South.

In addition, Robinson would go on to have a 10-year Hall of Fame career, batting .311 with 137 home runs, 734 RBI, 197 stolen bases and 1,518 hits.

Along the way, Robinson was a six-time All-Star, winning the 1947 Rookie of the Year Award, the 1949 National League Most Valuable Player Award and a World Series championship (1955) in the process.

During his playing days, Robinson’s impact was also felt off the field. On February 4, 1952, he was hired as the Director of Community Activities for a radio station, WNBC, and the television station WNBT.

Thus, Robinson became the first African-American executive of a major radio and television station.

“It also gives us a chance to combat communist propaganda by showing there are plenty of opportunities for Negroes in this country,” Robinson once said about his new position.

Robinson retired from baseball on January 5, 1957, and in 1962, his first year of eligibility for the Baseball Hall of Fame, Robinson was elected, becoming the first African-American player to be inducted into Cooperstown.

Since his death on October 24, 1972, Major League Baseball has honored Robinson many times.

In 1987, the American and National League Rookie of the Year Awards were both renamed the “Jackie Robinson Award” in honor of the first recipient (Robinson’s Major League Rookie of the Year Award in 1947 encompassed both leagues).

On April 15, 1997, Robinson’s jersey number (42) was retired throughout the league, the first time any jersey number had been retired throughout one of the four major American sporting leagues.

Robinson’s profound impact on the game of baseball is absolutely unquestioned, and his courage and strength can also be viewed as the genesis of the Civil Rights Movement in America.

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This Day In Black Sports History: February 3, 1989

On April 15, 1987, the 40th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier, former Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Al Campanis sparked heated controversy when Nightline’s Ted Koppel asked him why black managers and general managers were virtually nonexistent in Major League Baseball.

Campanis’ reply was that blacks “may not have some of the necessities to be, let’s say, a field manager, or perhaps, a general manager.”

Campanis, a former teammate of Robinson, would continue to dig his own grave with remarks such as blacks are often poor swimmers “because they don’t have the buoyancy.”

Not surprisingly, a protest erupted on the morning following the interview and Campanis would resign his position two days later.

Bill White would hear much worse as a 19 year old first baseman playing in the farm system for the New York Giants, when the Jim Crow laws were alive and well in the Deep South.

“In every one of those cities, I was called words I had never even heard before…”

White once said as he recalled the verbal abuse and blatant injustices he was subjected to during the spring of 1952.

From being called “alligator,” “black cat” or “nigger” to “Having to sit on that bus while the other guys went in and ate…not being able to go into a gas station to use the bathroom, not being able to stay in a decent hotel,” this was the world White woke up to on a daily basis during his formative years in baseball.

But White would endure and persevere to break into the big leagues in May of 1956, where he would go on to play for the New York/San Francisco Giants (1956, 1958), St. Louis Cardinals (1959-1965, 1969) and Philadelphia Phillies (1966, 1968).

In his 14-year career, White hit .286 with 202 home runs and 870 RBIs in 1,673 games. White was also one of the top defensive first basemen of his era, garnering five All-Star selections while winning seven consecutive Gold Glove Awards in the process.

Following the conclusion of his playing days, White would make his mark in broadcasting, becoming the first African-American to broadcast in the National Hockey League, when he called several games for the Philadelphia Flyers, as well as the first African-American to regularly do play-by-play for a major league sports team (New York Yankees) in a distinguished 17-year career.

As a broadcaster, White is famously known for his call of former Yankees shortstop Bucky Dent’s two-out, three-run home run against the Boston Red Sox that propelled the Bronx Bombers to victory in a one-game playoff to decide the American League East.

“Deep to left! Yastrzemski will not get it–it’s a home run! A three-run home run for Bucky Dent and the Yankees now lead it by a score of three to two!”

However, on February 3, 1989, less than two years after Al Campanis’ inflammatory remarks, the crowning achievement of White’s baseball career came when he was named president of the National League, thus becoming the first African-American to head a major professional sports league and the highest-ranking African-American official in the history of professional sports.

Peter O’Malley, chairman of the search committee and owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, remarked to the New York Times: “Bill White was selected because he was the best man for the job. He was the only man who was offered the job and, fortunately, he was the only man who accepted. Race was not a factor.”

White served as the National League president from 1989-1994, where his main goal was to follow in the tradition of Jackie Robinson.

“I’ve been in the game since 1952,” White told the Boston Globe after the election.

“It wasn’t integrated. When I came into baseball, spring training wasn’t integrated. The country wasn’t integrated. I think we’ve both come along. I’m here now, and there have been quite a few improvements in hiring at certain levels.

“I feel that will continue, and the people here feel the same way…I’ve told people the most important thing that has happened in baseball history was Jackie Robinson getting a chance to play. It gave a lot of people before who had no hope a lot of hope.

“If I can set an example for the 28 owners [they might] say ‘Hey, White did a good job. I’m going to try somebody else of color,'” White added during his presidency, noting he believed Campanis’ 1987 comment “reflects the opinion of much of baseball.”

Thankfully, and hopefully, Bill White has changed some of those opinions for the better.


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New York Yankees Avoid Salary Arbitration With Chamberlain, Hughes and Logan

In a continuing effort to shore up their starting rotation and bullpen, the New York Yankees inked Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, and Boone Logan to one-year deals, thus avoiding salary arbitration with the trio of young hurlers, according to

Hughes, who earned $447,000 last season, agreed to a deal worth $2.7 million after coming off his best year in the majors.

The 24-year-old Hughes finished fourth in the American League in wins (18), becoming the youngest Yankees right-hander to win at least 18 games in the regular season since 1965 (Mel Stottlemyre).

Although his second half outings were increasingly dubious, Hughes was selected to his first All-Star team and set career highs in wins, strikeouts (146), and innings pitched (176.1) in 29 starts.

Meanwhile, Chamberlain, working exclusively out of the bullpen last season, was signed to a deal worth $1.4 million, an increase of over $900,000 from his salary in 2010 ($487,975).

Chamberlain finished third in the American League in holds (26) and posted a record of 3-4, with an ERA of 4.40, in a team-high 73 appearances.

With Andy Pettitte giving them the “Brett Favre Treatment,” the Yankees may flirt with the possibility of inserting Chamberlain, who turns 26 this year, into the starting rotation, but the current plan is to keep him in the bullpen.

New York’s fourth successful attempt at circumventing salary arbitration this offseason consisted of inking left-handed reliever Logan to a one-year, $1.2 million contract.

In 51 relief appearances for the Bronx Bombers last season, Logan was 2-0 with an ERA of 2.93 and 13 holds.

After acquiring him in a trade with the Atlanta Braves, the Yankees avoided arbitration with Logan last year, his first year of eligibility, by signing him to a deal worth $590,000.

And, for the majority of the season, the 26-year-old Logan was the only left-hander in the Yankees bullpen.

However, this coming season, the recently acquired Pedro Feliciano will join Logan as another left-handed relief option for manager Joe Girardi.

Last month, the Yankees also avoided going to arbitration with right-handed starting pitcher Sergio Mitre by signing him to a deal worth approximately $900,000.

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Former New York Yankees Strike Out in Hall of Fame Bids

On Wednesday afternoon, Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame class for 2011 was announced and, as anticipated, Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar amassed the number of votes necessary for their enshrinement in Cooperstown this summer. A Hall of Fame candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote from eligible Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) members to garner induction.

Considered by many to be the best second baseman in baseball history, Alomar fell short of induction by only eight votes in 2010, which was his first year on the ballot. But after garnering 73.7 percent of the vote last year, the Puerto Rican native was named on 90 percent of the ballots to become one of only two players to comprise this year’s Hall of Fame class.

Meanwhile, Blyleven, who was in his 14th year of eligibility, received 79.7 percent of the vote to warrant election in what has widely been considered one of the greatest oversights by the BBWAA.

Despite ranking fifth all-time in strikeouts, ninth in shutouts and 27th in wins, Blyleven received only 17.55 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility (1998). Astonishingly, his vote total dropped to 14.1 percent the following year.

In the past 40 years, no player who debuted on the ballot had a vote total that low and won election into the Hall of Fame.

However, the sabermetrics boom resulted in a closer inspection of Blyleven’s candidacy, which caused his vote totals to steadily rise to a high of 74.2 percent in 2010, leaving him only five votes short of induction.

But in his penultimate year of eligibility, Blyleven received the call that finally put the exclamation point on his distinguished career.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for former New York Yankees on this year’s ballot, whose respective Hall of Fame bids don’t look too promising for the most part.

Out of the eight former Yankees on the ballot, five fell short of the 5 percent required to remain on the ballot next year, including beloved first baseman Tino Martinez, who received just six votes (1 percent) from the BBWAA.

Joining Martinez in unsuccessful Hall of Fame bids were Al Leiter (0.7 percent), Kevin Brown (2.1 percent), John Olerud (0.7 percent) and Raul Mondesi (0 votes).

On the flip side of the coin, there were former Yankees who weren’t invited to join this year’s class but will remain on the ballot for future consideration, with the most prominent name being Don Mattingly.

In his 11th year of eligibility, Mattingly saw his appearance on the ballots drop from 16.1 percent last year to 13.6 percent this year, a clear indication that the Hall’s doors will remain shut to a man viewed as one of the greatest Yankee players in franchise history.

But the former six-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glove Award-winning first baseman has been extremely candid about his Hall of Fame credentials.

“I don’t think I’m a Hall of Famer,” Mattingly was quoted as saying. “I don’t think I have the numbers. Part of it is longevity, and I wasn’t able to do that and do the things that I did early in my career.”

Many Yankees fans would disagree with Donnie Baseball’s assessment, which speaks volumes to how popular Mattingly still is in the Big Apple and how memorable his tenure was with the bronx bombers.

In addition to Mattingly, Lee Smith (45.3 percent) and Tim Raines (37.5 percent), who both had brief stints with the Yankees in the ’90s, will also see their names on next year’s ballot.

Raines, a two-time World Series Champion with the Yankees (1996, 1998), has been gaining a groundswell of support for induction, evidenced by the dramatic rise in his vote totals from 22.6 percent in 2009 to 30.4 percent in 2010 to 37.5 percent this year.

Smith, who appeared in eight games for the Yankees in 1993, ranks third in MLB history with 478 saves. 

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New York Yankees: Are Don Mattingly & Tino Martinez Worthy Of The Hall Of Fame?

On January 5, Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame class for 2011 will be announced on a live MLB Network simulcast at Among the distinguished list of candidates are two former New York Yankee first basemen who will always occupy a special place in the hearts of Bronx Bomber fans.

Don Mattingly, one of the most popular players in Yankee lore, is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the 11th year while Tino Martinez, who received a curtain call in the old Yankee Stadium as an opposing player, makes his first appearance on the ballot.

A Hall of Fame candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote from eligible Baseball Writers Association of America members to garner induction. The ballots are slated to be collected on January 4 and the tallied results will be announced on January 5. All inductees will be introduced at a press conference in New York on January 6.

For the man affectionaly known as “Donnie Baseball”, the likelihood of Mattingly becoming the 45th Yankee player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame diminishes with each passing year he fails the litmus test for enshrinement.

In his 14-year playing career, all spent as a member of the Yankees, Mattingly posted a .307 batting average with 222 home runs and 1,099 RBI’s.  

Along the way, Mattingly was a 6-time All-Star selection (1984-1989), a 9-time Gold Glove Award winner (1985-1989, 1991-1994), a 3-time Silver Slugger Award winner (1985-1987) and the American League Most Valuable Player in 1985.

From 1984-1989, Mattingly averaged 27 home runs and 114 RBI’s per season while hitting a robust .327 from the plate.

However, in the following six seasons, back injuries severely hampered Mattingly’s ability to put up the aforementioned prodigious numbers as well as his capacity to stay on the field.

So although he continued to play stellar defense at first base, Mattingly would only hit .286 in these final seasons of his career with per season averages of 10 home runs and 64 RBI’s.

In addition to his longevity, another factor that doesn’t bode well for Mattingly’s Hall of Fame aspirations is that he has only five playoff games to show for his fourteen seasons with the Bronx Bombers.

But despite the 1995 American League Divisional Series against the Seattle Mariners being the only time the Yankees would taste the postseason during his tenure, Mattingly would retire as one of the most beloved players in franchise history.

The organization retired Mattingly’s number ‘23’ and a plaque was created in Monument Park to honor his career on August 31, 1997.

The plaque reads, “A humble man of grace and dignity, a captain who led by example, proud of the pinstripe tradition and dedicated to the pursuit of excellence, a Yankee forever.”

As for Mattingly’s replacement, what “Donnie Baseball” did in six healthy seasons, Tino Martinez did in 16 by averaging 27 home runs and 102 RBI’s per season.

And what Mattingly failed to do in 14 seasons with the Yankees, Martinez did in seven by winning four World Series Championships (1996, 1998-2000).

So essentially, what Martinez’s career does is provide a small window into what Mattingly’s career could have been had he remained healthy.

Surprisingly though, Martinez was only a 2-time All-Star selection (1995, 1997) during his career, despite driving in more than 100 RBI’s in a season on six different occasions, and he never won a Gold Glove Award.

Nevertheless, Martinez finished with career totals of 339 home runs and 1,239 RBI’s and continues to be considered an integral component to the Yankees’ last dynasty of the 20th century.

All this being said, which beloved former New York Yankees first baseman should first receive the call to be enshrined in Cooperstown?

Another pertinent question is SHOULD Mattingly and/or Martinez be enshrined at all considering their career numbers?

How about this final question: Are Don Mattingly and Tino Martinez any less worthy than the following Hall of Fame first basemen?

Frank Chance – .296, 20 home runs, 596 RBI’s

George Kelly – .297, 148 home runs, 1,020 RBI’s

Bill Terry – .341, 154 home runs, 1,078 RBI’s

Only time will tell the complete story.

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New York Mets’ David Wright Honors and Instructs All-Stars of the Future

After a season that saw the New York Mets miss out on the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year, third baseman David Wright got the baseball juices flowing for next season by conducting a clinic at Chelsea Piers Saturday afternoon.

Sponsored by Pirate’s Booty Snacks, the event featured the presentation of “Do Wright” Awards to four children from the After-School All-Stars (ASAS) New York Program, who were selected to participate in the clinic based on excellence in academics, athletics and community service.

ASAS provides free comprehensive after-school programs to nearly 80,000 children on over 450 school sites in thirteen different cities from New York City to Hawai’i.

The programs incorporate academic support, enrichment opportunities and health & fitness activities in concerted efforts to address America’s high school dropout, youth obesity and student dis-empowerment crises.

Ranging in age from 11-12 years-old, the students honored by the Mets five-time All-Star attend I.S. 192 The Linden (Malik Ba, Jonathan Jovin) and MS 217 Robert A. Van Wyck School (Christian Marinez, Nikolas Vasquez) in Queens.

In addition to athletic participation, the enterprising young men were noted for their continuing work on learning projects. The themes included preserving the environment, making healthy diet decisions and serving the community by providing much-needed clothes and nutritious meals to homeless people.

The afternoon’s festivities culminated with Wright teaching the four award recipients, as well as over fifty children from the New York metropolitan area, the baseball fundamentals: fielding, hitting, throwing and how to stay in shape and eat right.

“Anytime I get a chance to talk to young kids, it’s about hard work”, Wright said when asked about the most important messages he wanted to impart to his young pupils.

“Not just baseball, but school, whatever that these kids have a desire to do when they get older; try to be the best at it.”

The 28-year-old Wright, a native of Chesapeake, Virginia, also briefly shared how his upbringing helped translate a solid work ethic in the classroom into what has been, thus far, a successful baseball career.

“I was fortunate where I had parents that pushed me growing up to make good grades, that helped me study, helped me do my homework”, Wright continued.

“I always challenged myself to try to make A’s, to try to make the best grades that I possibly could, and I think a lot of that translated on to the baseball field where it taught me a lot of life lessons about hard work and being dedicated to something.”

“That’s the kind of message that I want to relay to these kids”, Wright added. “You don’t want to be average; you don’t want to be a follower. You want to be a leader and go out there and do what you want to do and make sure you accomplish it.”

Speaking of leadership, among the myriad of topics he addressed during his time with the media, Wright tackled the issue of his responsibility to be more of a team leader as the Mets enter a brave, new world going into the 2011 season.

“I think each year you kind of mature more into that kind of role”, Wright said. “I think this team; we need more from the guys that have been here for a while and that’s including me.

I plan on this year just kind of getting into that role a little bit more just like last year and the year before.”

“We do need more leadership in the clubhouse”, Wright added. “And I do need to be part of that solution as well.”

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New York Yankees’ Joe Girardi is the Most Underappreciated Manager in Baseball

“I get no respect, I tell ya.” – Rodney Dangerfield

In the aftermath of his team’s loss in the American League Championship Series, it wouldn’t be shocking to discover these are the words that sum up the feelings of New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

And who can fault him?

Not surprisingly, even before the obituary had been written on the Yankees’ season, the blame game in the Big Apple was already in full swing. But unlike the popular reality television series Survivor, no one was receiving immunity from having a finger pointed in their direction.

However, what is especially interesting to note is the growing contingent of fans who are placing all of the blame for New York’s shortened postseason squarely on Joe Girardi’s shoulders. This throng is also comprised of the same critics who do not want to see Girardi return as the Yankees’ manager next year.

When Alex Rodriguez struck out looking in Game 6 of the ALCS, the 46-year-old Girardi officially completed the final year of a three-year, $7.5 million contract with New York.

During this brief period, Girardi won a total of 287 regular season games, placing him fourth on the list of former Yankee players who became the manager of the team. In addition, Girardi guided New York to two playoff appearances (2009, 2010), an American League East Division Title (2009), an AL pennant (2009) and a World Series Championship (2009). 

By any standard, this would be considered a successful three-year run for any manager in Major League Baseball.

Bobby Cox managed the Atlanta Braves for a quarter of a century (1978-1981, 1990-2010). This span saw the Braves win 2,149 games, 14 division titles and five National League pennants.

But in twenty-five years, Cox won as many World Series Championships as Girardi has in three seasons with the Yankees. Yet Cox was a beloved figure in Atlanta when he retired and the outcry for his replacement was never as loud as it is for Girardi’s despite winning equally as many championships in twenty-two more seasons.

After fifteen seasons as the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, Tony LaRussa added 1,318 victories, seven division titles and two NL pennants to his impressive résumé.

Nevertheless, in only two seasons in the role of New York’s skipper, Girardi won as many rings as LaRussa has during his entire reign in the “Show-Me State”.

In spite of the lack of championship hardware, LaRussa was asked to return to the Cardinals for a 16th season, an offer he gladly accepted.

Meanwhile, Girardi is left to wonder whether the Yankees will place an offer on the table for his return commensurate with the success he had managing the ball club.

Bearing this in mind, it certainly appears Girardi will continue to be subjected to tremendous criticism from New York fans due to the Yankees’ failure to win back-to-back World Series Championships.

Therefore, it can only be inferred that averaging 96 victories per season and winning a World Series Championship over a three-year period isn’t enough as manager of the Bronx Bombers.

Another inference that can be made is Yankees fans have become so drunk with success that any year ending without a World Series Championship is sufficient justification for heads to roll.

Either way, the bottom line is Girardi has done more than enough to warrant another contract with New York, at a higher salary, and Yankees’ fans need to come to the stark realization that Girardi is one of the major reasons a nearly decade-long championship drought came to an end last year.

Truthfully, the operative question going into the offseason shouldn’t be whether New York wants Joe Girardi back, but whether Girardi wants to come back to the Yankees. 

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Top 5 Reasons New York Yankees Lost ALCS

For all the discussion about how Cliff Lee could decide the American League Championship Series in a potential Game 7, it turned out the Texas Rangers needed only one start from their starting ace to dethrone the New York Yankees and clinch the AL pennant for the first time in franchise history.

And as the Yankees attempt to pick up the pieces from a failed quest to win their 28th World Series championship, they should be able to point to a myriad of reasons why a season in which they finished with the second-best record in the American League ended in disappointment.

This on-going analysis should also result in the identification of five main reasons New York is entering an offseason full of uncertainty much sooner than they could have possibly imagined. Ultimately though, any which way the pie is sliced, the Bronx Bombers were humbled by a team that could have destiny on their side in this year’s postseason.


5. David Robertson’s Inability to Hold Close Games

In the 61 innings he was called upon during the regular season, Yankees right-handed reliever David Robertson held 14 games and amassed 71 strikeouts. Robertson’s numbers included an ERA of 3.82 and a WHIP of 1.50.

But among New York’s relievers in the ALCS, the Rangers roughed up Robertson more than any other to the tune of six earned runs on eight hits in only two innings. Robertson finished the series with a dismal ERA of 20.25 and a WHIP of 3.38.

Robertson’s unreliability allowed Texas to blow open close games in Game 3 and Game 6 to expand deficits from which the Yankees were unable to recover.

Game 3 saw the Rangers turn a 3-0 contest into a 8-0 blowout with Robertson on the mound while in Game 6, outfielder Nelson Cruz belted a two-out, two-run home run off Robertson to give the Rangers a 5-1 lead and propel them into the World Series.


4. Power Outage of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira

For a duo that combined for 63 home runs and 233 RBI, to say that Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira failed to come through in the ALCS would be a gross understatement.

In 21 plate appearances, Rodriguez managed to come up with only four hits and two RBI to finish with an anemic batting average of .190. Meanwhile, Teixeira didn’t register a single hit in his 14 at-bats prior to bowing out of the series with a hamstring injury in Game 4.

The lack of production from the Yankees corner infielders left AL MVP candidate Robinson Cano to carry the offensive load for the team, which he did with flying colors. However, Cano’s power display needed to be supplemented by similar efforts from Rodriguez and Teixeira for New York to have a shot at winning the series.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, the power went off somewhere between the end of the American League Divisional Series and the beginning of the ALCS and they’re still waiting for it to come back on.


3. Ineffectiveness of Phil Hughes

Phil Hughes won an impressive 18 games in the regular season for New York but he also had an unusually high 4.19 ERA, which translates to having a significant amount of run support during his starts. But as evidenced in the ALCS, when the run support wasn’t as robust, Hughes’ shortcomings became increasingly glaring.

Hughes was the loser of Game 2 and Game 6 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, where he gave up 11 earned runs on 14 hits and walked seven while only striking out six. Hughes’ ERA in his two starts was 11.42.

When the No. 2 starter puts up those kinds of numbers in a best-of-seven series, chances are his team isn’t advancing to the next round. This holds true for any team in baseball; even the New York Yankees.


2. Colby Lewis Outshines Cliff Lee

Of all the starters on the Rangers pitching staff, Colby Lewis was arguably the last one who would have been expected to shine the brightest against the Yankees. Nevertheless, it was Lewis who channeled his inner Cliff Lee to shut down New York’s vaunted offense in Game 2 and Game 6.

Thus, the same Colby Lewis who finished with a 12-13 record and an ERA of 3.72 this season went 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA on the biggest stage of his career. More importantly, Lewis’ performances keyed Texas to a critical victory in Game 2 to even the series and a win in Game 6 to clinch the pennant.

He may have not been a household name prior to the ALCS but, as far as the Yankees are concerned, Colby Lewis is a name that will not soon be forgotten.


1. The Rangers Were the Better Team

As hard as it might be for Yankees fans to admit, the Rangers outhit, outhustled and outpitched New York throughout a series that could have just as easily been a sweep as opposed to a six-game affair.

Texas scored twice as many runs (38-19), their batting average was more than a hundred points higher (.304 vs. .201) and their pitching staff’s ERA was nearly three points lower (2.76 vs. 6.58) compared to the Yankees.

So, in essence, the ALCS really wasn’t as close as the six-game outcome would make it appear. Simply put, the Rangers wanted it more.

And that may very well be the toughest reason for the Yankees and their fans to accept of them all.


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