Tag: Bleacher Buzz

10 Things That Happen After a Team Wins a Championship

Oh, the elusive championship. Teams spend countless seasons hunting for it. Some make it to the top while others are left clamoring in the dust, looking like a character out of Mad Max.

When a franchise finally is able to nab a championship, things tend to change.

Our goal here was to analyze 10 changes that happen and explain each element in detail. Whether it’s how these wins affect a city’s economy or how coaches are suddenly given more slack, these changes are evident.

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Yankees Clinch 2015 Playoff Berth: Highlights, Twitter Reaction to Celebration

Following a two-year postseason absence, the New York Yankees guaranteed they’ll be playing playoff baseball in October again thanks to a 4-1 win over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday. The victory was also the 10,000th in franchise history.

According to the New York Times‘ Tyler Kepner, the game’s final out was also historic:

With the wild-card berth, New York has now made 23 more postseason appearances than any other team in MLB history, per ESPN Stats & Info:

The Yankees’ official Twitter account celebrated the evening’s other big milestone: 

Following the on-field celebration, the Yankees took to the clubhouse to pop champagne, per Baseball Tonight:

Shortstop Didi Gregorius posted a video of the festivities: 

While the Yankees got off to a modest 26-25 start, they hit their stride during the dog days of summer. After going 15-12 in June, New York walloped the competition to the tune of a 17-7 mark in July. During that stretch, the Yankees batted a season-best .275 with a collective .344 on-base percentage while ascending to the top of the American League East.

A 14-14 August that coincided with the Toronto Blue Jays‘ 21-6 post-trade-deadline explosion brought the men in pinstripes down a peg, but they stayed competitive and banged down the postseason barrier. 

Buoyed by stellar power, New York has been one of baseball’s elite teams when it comes to pushing runs across the plate.

Back from a season-long performance-enhancing-drug suspension, Alex Rodriguez assumed vintage form and provided a jolt by crushing more than 30 home runs for the first time since 2010. In July, A-Rod spoke to Sports Illustrated‘s Tom Verducci about his comeback:

One thing I’ve been this year is consistent. Even in my really good years, I’d have some periods—two, three weeks—where I just looked terrible. It was always because of tension, trying too hard. Now I’m just happy and relaxed. I’ve been more consistent because of that.

Mark Teixeira also boosted the Yankees’ offerings at the plate before a right shin fracture ended his season early. In 111 games, Teixeira batted .255 with 31 home runs—his most since 2011. However, the Yankees were able to plug Greg Bird into the lineup and receive more than 40 dingers combined from their starting first basemen.

Coupled with Carlos Beltran’s improved production during his second season in pinstripes, the team evolved into an offensive powerhouse.

Entering the postseason, the Yankees’ primary concern will be their ability to keep the runs flowing while finding sources of consistency on the mound. Manager Joe Girardi’s club ranks around the league average in ERA, and shaky, injury-riddled seasons from CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka have left the team without a true starting ace.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi started to look like a workhorse after the All-Star break, but elbow inflammation cut his regular season short. Now the Yankees hope the 25-year-old can return in time to offer stability in some capacity.

And even if question marks abound, the Yankees and their fans can celebrate a return to the postseason as they prep for a wild-card showdown next Tuesday (8 p.m. ET on ESPN).

A trip back to the American League Championship Series may fall on the optimistic end of the spectrum, but with a power-packed lineup that can put up runs in a hurry, New York has the raw talent to pull off a stunner.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Detroit Tigers’ Dave Dombrowski Puts Club in Position to Compete in 2016

This is unfamiliar terrain for the Detroit Tigers.

The club has enjoyed a smooth ride for nearly a decade. From 2006-14, the Tigers averaged nearly 88 wins per season, captured four Central Division championships and made two World Series appearances.

It’s been a different narrative in 2015.

After jumping out to a scorching 12-3 record to start the season, the seemingly effortless ride has been derailed by pothole after pothole. Calling the Tigers’ season a struggle is an understatement. It’s been a disastrous journey for a team with World Series expectations.

Prior to the trade deadline, the road ahead was foggy. The club was bogged down by expensive contracts, aging veterans, a poor farm system and more questions than answers. After necessary maneuvering, the organization seems poised to travel less bumpy roads in 2016 and beyond.

General manager Dave Dombrowski was at a crossroads. The long-time executive was in a difficult position. On one hand, his club sat just 3.5 games behind the second wild-card spot and hardly out of the playoff race. On the other hand, the Tigers hadn’t put together a three-game win streak since early June and continued to struggle against the American League’s bottom feeders.

Dombrowski continued to wait.

Just four days before the deadline, his club sat four games under .500, trailed the Kansas City Royals by double digits in the standings and just got blown out by the Tampa Bay Rays in a game started by David Price.

A decision was needed. Buy or sell?

With owner Mike Ilitch desperate to bring a World Series title to Detroit and Dombrowski operating on an expiring contract, it would’ve been easy to try to salvage a fading season by further depleting an already-vacant farm system and attempt to win as many games as possible.

Multiple news outlets reported the organization was leaning toward making a push for the 2015 postseason.

Three days before the deadline, Jayson Stark of ESPN tweeted out that other teams were told the Tigers weren’t selling.

Still, Dombrowski realized his club was riding on a flat tire with no spare in the trunk. Acknowledging the Tigers’ season was over before the calendar flipped to August was a tough sell. Waving the white flag wasn’t easy for an organization with a heavy payroll.

Yet it became evident things weren’t turning around. The team is plagued by inconsistent offense and mediocre pitching. The Tigers fearsome lineup has a knack for hitting into double plays and stranding baserunners. According to MLB.com, the bullpen and starting rotation rank among the worst in baseball with a 4.30 ERA and 4.45 ERA, respectively.

Unlike some teams currently in the wild-card chase, simply qualifying for the playoffs isn’t the Tigers’ goal. The organization’s sole focus is winning a World Series championship.

Dombrowski told Chris McCosky of The Detroit News that his decision to sell stemmed from his belief the Tigers weren’t equipped to challenge for a World Series title this year.

We’ve won the division four years in a row but, however you would like to say it, unless you are in a position to win a world championship—that’s where we are at this time. In my heart, I didn’t think we were there with the club.

The Tigers’ trade chest was stacked with tremendous pieces to sell: David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Joakim Soria. The three represented arguably the best starter, hitter and reliever available on the trade market.

With Price, there was no indication a contract extension was imminent and most analysts expected him to join a different organization in the winter. With playoff hopes dim, the Tigers couldn’t afford letting a premier pitcher walk away for nothing more than a compensatory draft pick.

The fear of losing Price to free agency was confirmed by Dombrowski when he told Chris Iott of MLive Media Group that negotiations were far apart.

We like David. We said we wouldn’t discuss it publicly as far as dollars. But we did approach him at that point. It just was not really where we wanted to go from a financial perspective.

Less than 24 hours after informing other teams that Price was on the market, Dombrowski agreed to a deal that sent the left-hander to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd and Jairo Labourt.

The trio represents a major haul for Dombrowski, especially Norris, who ranked as the Blue Jays’ top prospect by Baseball America.

Next, the front office flipped Soria to the Pittsburgh Pirates for shortstop JaCoby Jones. Then, minutes before the deadline, Dombrowski sent Cespedes to the New York Mets in exchange for Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa.

All six prospects immediately filled the Tigers’ top 15 list by MLB Pipeline.

The Tigers received favorable reviews from most media outlets with Jim Bowden of ESPN leading the praise for Dombrowski.

Daniel Norris and Michael Fulmer are can’t-miss rotation starters, while Matt Boyd, Jairo Labourt and Luis Cessa all have good arms. Taking advantage of the Pirates’ minor league depth at shortstop to grab JaCoby Jones was also a shrewd move.

With $110 million invested in just five players for 2016, adding young, inexpensive talent was necessary. Norris, Fulmer and Boyd are expected to compete for rotation spots next season, while Labourt and Cessa project as bullpen arms.

Dombrowski told Iott the trades put the organization in a better position moving forward.

We have traded so many guys in the past. Ideally, you don’t want to be in this position, but based on where we were, we think this gives us an influx of guys who can help us going into next year. It puts us in a good spot going into next year.

The departure of its soon-to-be free agents gives the Tigers an estimated $46 million in payroll flexibility heading into the offseason.

Adding a veteran starter and bullpen arms are the top items on Dombrowski’s to-do list. He confirmed to Iott the organization is still committed to winning in 2016.

Our starting pitching will need to be addressed in the wintertime. But I assure you that our goal going into next year will be to try to win a world championship.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted the club is expected to pursue Cespedes on the free-agent market and the interest is mutual.

A few potential impact free-agent signingsmixed with the recent youth infusion to go along with an already-promising coreindicates the future is bright in Detroit.

For the Tigers, the road ahead is clearer today than it was last week. Dombrowski is working to ensure the Tigers experience a smoother ride in 2016.

Follow Chris Hauler on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Top 20 Athletes in the History of the Bay Area

The Bay Area is one of the most beautiful and important sports areas in the country. Covering three major cities—Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose—the Bay Area has played home to some of the most prestigious franchises around.

By now, you know the drill. The point of this slideshow is to hone in and talk about the top 20 athletes in the history of the Bay Area.

Deciding who makes the cut comes down to statistics, championships won and overall legacy. With all of that info seeping into your cranium, let’s get right into it and start the countdown.

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People in Sports Who Had the Best and Worst Year Ever

In life, and in sports, nearly everyone experiences prolonged periods of both success and failure. Of course, the 2014 sports year was far from different, as fans were treated to some truly memorable performances, of both the good and bad sort.

Madison Bumgarner, for example, had a downright iconic year, establishing himself as one of baseball’s all-time greats with the type of postseason pitching we’d never seen before.

In a similar vein, Russell Wilson led his Seahawks to the mountaintop and, in so doing, catapulted himself into the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks.

In contrast, however, Tiger Woods battled injury all year long and lost his spot atop golf’s world rankings, while Robert Griffin did the same and lost his stranglehold on the starting quarterback spot in Washington.

So, with these guys and others in mind, we’ve done our best to highlight 10 People/Teams in Sports who had the best/worst year ever.

We should note, we’ve dodged the heavier side of sports in 2014, excluding from our list major violators like Donald Sterling, Jameis Winston, Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and Roger Goodell.

Instead, then, we’ve explored those who struggled for non-legal reasons, and exalted the athletes who had a dream 2014.

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The Biggest Issues the San Francisco Giants Must Address at the Trade Deadline

The San Francisco Giants have fallen on tough times in the past week, losing six of their last seven games. Fortunately for the Giants, they had built a sizable lead in the NL West and are still ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers by six games. 

During this recent skid, the Giants have had bouts of poor pitching from their starters and the bullpen. They also have had games where the bats were silenced or were unable to get a key hit. In addition, poor defense has hurt the Giants’ efforts.

There is not one thing that can be pointed at that has caused the Giants’ recent problems. However, there are some overriding concerns that become magnified when the team is losing.

With the trade deadline on the horizon, general manager Brian Sabean will be looking for areas where he can help bolster the team.

The first priority is at second base. Brandon Hicks had some big games and clutch hits early in the year. Hicks has power, with eight home runs and 22 RBI on the year.

However, Hicks’ performance has declined dramatically of late. He has not homered since May 23 and has only two RBI in his last 20 games.

Even more troubling is that Hicks has now struck out 70 times in 187 at-bats, with several of those in situations where even a ground ball would have driven in a run.

Hicks’ average is down to .176, with an OBP of .289 and OPS of .637. Defensively, he has been better than expected, but the Giants can no longer live with his complete lack of production.

Manager Bruce Bochy has also given Ehire Adrianza some opportunities, but he is proving that he is not ready to be in the majors. 

In 63 at-bats, Adrianza is hitting only .190 with no home runs and four RBI. He has a soft .190 batting average to go along with an OBP of .235 and OPS of .458. Watching him at the plate, he is frequently overmatched.

Adrianza has also made too many mistakes defensively for a player that is supposed to be an outstanding defensive player. 

The only reason Adrianza is on the team is because he is out of minor league options. The Giants are afraid another team will claim him if they expose him to waivers.

Joaquin Arias is another potential option, but he is often used at other positions or as a defensive replacement for Pablo Sandoval in the late innings. Arias is also not producing at this point.  

In 79 at-bats, Arias is hitting only .177, with an OBP of .214 and OPS of .392. Arias has no home runs and seven RBI. However, at least Arias looks like he has a chance to hit the ball with authority, which can rarely be said about Adrianza.

Also, do not expect anything out of Marco Scutaro this season. If he ultimately does make it back, it will be a bonus, but at this point, he cannot be counted on.

With the NL West race beginning to tighten up, it will be up to Sabean to get a top-flight second baseman. 

Daniel Murphy of the Mets is the perfect solution. Murphy is a very good offensive player and a solid, though unspectacular, defender. With the Mets currently eight games under .500, their playoff hopes are virtually nil.

In 281 at-bats, Murphy has five home runs, 26 RBI, 11 stolen bases and has scored 45 runs. His batting average is .299, with an OBP of .359 and OPS of .778.

Murphy is a solid, professional hitter and would be a huge upgrade for the Giants at second base. He is making $5.7 million this year, so if the Giants acquired him toward the end of July, they would be on the hook for roughly $2.5 million. 

Murphy is arbitration eligible in 2015, so the Giants would have him under their control for another season. He does not become eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season.

Sabean may be able to pry Murphy away from the Mets by offering Adrianza plus a decent pitching prospect like Clayton Blackburn or Chris Stratton. This is a deal the Giants should make, even if it costs them a little bit more, as it will fill the huge void they have at second base.  

The other potential acquisition at the trade deadline would be for a starting pitcher. However, this pitcher would need to be measurably better than either Tim Lincecum or Ryan Vogelsong.

One such pitcher who is available is Jeff Samardzija of the Cubs. He is making only $5.345 million this year, and like Murphy, he will be in his final year of arbitration eligibility in 2015.

Money will not be an issue for the Giants for the remainder of 2014, although it could be an issue for the Giants to sign him for the 2015 season and beyond.

However, Samardzija is not eligible to become a free agent until after next season, so this is not a rent-a-player scenario. 

Samardzija has thrown 91 innings this season, allowing 81 hits and 26 walks while striking out 82. His ERA is 2.77, and he has a WHIP of 1.176. Both of these numbers are very good. 

The Cubs will demand a king’s ransom for Samardzija. Any deal would need to include the Giants’ top pitching prospect Kyle Crick. In addition, the Cubs will likely want a couple more decent prospects in the deal.

If the Giants had to part with Crick and two other top prospects, such as catcher Andrew Susac and pitcher Martin Agosta, this is a deal they should do. Whenever you have a real chance to win now, it’s something you must capitalize on. The Giants have that chance in 2014.

If Samardzija becomes a Giant, the resulting move would be Ryan Vogelsong or Tim Lincecum to the bullpen. If Lincecum is willing to make the move, that will benefit the team, but if not, the Giants should be perfectly fine moving Vogelsong.

Look for things to start heating up in July around the All-Star break as Sabean starts maneuvering to strengthen his team. A couple of stellar moves like acquiring Murphy and Samardzija could be the Giants’ next ticket to the World Series.  

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