After a rainy day, the sun returned to Florida in time for the Tampa Bay Rays vs. Pittsburgh Pirates game. I was born in Bradenton and my parents are from Pittsburgh so I have plenty of happy memories at McKechnie Field (had class today or else I would have gone to the game).
- Ben Zobrist (2B)
- Desmond Jennings (CF)
- Matt Joyce (RF)
- Yunel Escobar (SS)
- Luke Scott (DH)
- Kelly Johnson (LF)
- Jose Molina (C)
- James Loney (1B)
- Sean Rodriguez (3B)
- Jeff Niemann (P)
- Starling Marte (LF)
- Neil Walker (2B)
- Andrew McCutchen (CF)
- Pedro Alvarez (3B)
- Garrett Jones (1B)
- Gaby Sanchez (DH)
- Brad Hawpe (RF)
- Michael McKenry (C)
- Clint Narmes (SS)
- A.J. Burnett (P)
The game started off when Ben Zobrist reached 1st base on an error, but was picked off by A.J. Burnett. Pitcher Jeff Niemann and three quick outs and was done for the day. With one out in the 2nd, Luke Scott singled, followed by singles from Kelly Johnson and Jose Molina. Scott scores due to a fielding error by right fielder Brad Hawpe. James Loney grounded out but Johnson managed to score (productive outs, much better than strike outs). Sean Rodriquez reaches on a throwing error, leading to Molina scoring. With Zobrist batting, Burnett throws a wild pitch, allowing Rodriquez to score. The Rays now lead 4-0 due to singles and errors committed by the Pirates. The Pirates committed a total of 4 errors as opposed to the Rays 1 error.
Kelly Johnson made his first start in left field since September 2005. Johnson was hit on the right arm by a pitch in the 3rd inning and was replaced by Leslie Anderson. Johnson appears to be ok; he is expected to be an utility player capable of playing infield and outfield.
Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson allowed a double and a single in the 2nd inning, but strikes out the next two batters to prevent any damage. Hellickson comes out to start the third but after 2 outs and 32 pitches, Joe Maddon comes to hill and replaces him with Juan Sandoval . Hellickson’s stats: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 K, 32 Pitches, and 22 Strikes. The game ended up being a blowout due to the Rays scoring 6 runs before the 6th inning. The final score was 8-2.
- Rays play the Detroit Tigers in Port Charlotte on Thursday, February 28. Roberto Hernandez will be the starting pitcher, followed by Matt Moore.
- Coach Joe Maddon says health will play a factor in who will be in the fifth spot of the starting rotation. Maddon also says the first cuts will be soon.
- Ben Zobrist will be leaving Sunday for the World Baseball Classic. He will be playing Thursday and Saturday with the Rays.
- Evan Longoria will be playing every other day.
- There is an animated movie about a boy with cancer and his love of the New York Yankees (sorry, almost threw up there). Steroid user Alex Rodriquez will be in the movie, along with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Yogi Bera (no word on Derek Jeter, but CC Sabathia is in it). Its great having children look up to a man who cheated on his wife with strippers and used steroids throughout his career to make money. Seriously, putting Gehrig and A-Roid in the same sentence is insulting let alone a movie about the famous Yankees.
Spring Training has started and already several players (and one team) is making news. Here are the top five baseball news stories of the day.
- Carl Crawford: Crawford is currently in the Los Angeles Dodger’s rehab facility for his elbow., where he is recovering from elbow surgery. Crawford is happy with the Dodgers, but admits how awful his two years with the Red Sox were. Crawford says “I knew with the struggles I was having, it would never get better for me. I just didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. It puts you in kind of a depression stage. You just don’t see a way out.” Crawford also said he regretted signing with the Red Sox “ a lot of times” and how he thought his career was over since he did not believe any team would take over his expensive contract. Can’t believe a team organization nearly drove a player into depression.
- Kevin Youkilis: Mr. Red Sox is now with the New York Yankees, due to Alex Rodriquez missing half the season due to surgery. The Red Sox traded Youkilis away due to disagreements with Coach Bobby Valentine. Youkilis’ message to the Yankees fans “I’ll always be a Red Sock.” Though Youkilis met all his fellow teammates, he and Joba Chamberlain had yet to talk face-to-face due due to a previous feud in 2007 when Chamerlain threw two pitches over the head of Youkilis. Chamberlain was ejected for the first time in his career and suspended for two games. The “feud” is being overblown by the media, but Youkilis being a Yankee should make an interesting year.
- Grant Balfour: Oakland Athletics closer had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to repair a torn meniscus. The recovery time is 4-6 weeks, meaning Balfour will just probably just miss Spring Training.
- The Red Sox 793-game sellout streak at Fenway will likely come to an end, said the team president Larry Lucchino. No one, but Red Sox fans, take the streak seriously since the Red Sox organization would actually buy and give away free tickets just to keep the streak alive. Also, judging by the amount of empty seats at the stadium toward the end of the 2012 season, it seems as though not every game was a sell-out. Anyways, the fact that the team president believes he can’t count on Red Sox fans to attend games shows how the Red Sox will start off another “great” year.
- Alex Rodriguez: Last week a report came out that Rodriquez was doping in Miami, just in time for spring training. Rodriquez was due to miss half the season due to hip surgery, but the allegations that he is using steroids made sure that his name will continue to be in the news. Now some baseball fans, mainly non-Yankee fans, are wondering if A-Roid is the only Yankee player using steroids. Due to years of steroid abuse, I believe Rodriquez no longer has testicles. Quite possible that he also has man-boobs since that is also an effect of steroids. Stay away from drugs kids!
When the 2012 baseball season started, hardly anyone knew who Jeff Keppinger was but after a very successful year with the Tampa Bay Rays, all of that has changed. Since being drafted in 2001 by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Keppinger has spent the past decade with the New York Mets, the Kansas City Royals, the Cincinnati Reds, the Houston Astros, and San Francisco Giants – spending most of his time in the minors. In January 2012, the Rays signed Keppinger for a one-year, $1.525 million contract as a utility player. Due to several Rays’ players (Evan Longoria and Luke Scott) spending time on the disabled list, Keppinger became a reliable hitter on the roster. In 2012, Keppinger batted .325 and hit 40 RBIs (Sox sign Keppinger). When Longoria returned to the line-up, other Rays players would rotate their positions with Keppinger since he was always able to put the ball into play. Keppinger would be one of the reasons why the Rays were able to compete without Longoria.
After the season ended, there was talk that the Rays would go after Keppinger once again, even when Keppinger fell down his stairs at his home, breaking his fibula. But to the surprise of many, including me, there was also talk that other teams were seeking Keppinger. After the New York Yankees found out that their third baseman Alex Rodriquez would miss half the upcoming baseball season due to hip surgery, they contacted Keppinger’s agent since Keppinger had experience playing third base. This would drive up Keppinger’s price, decreasing the chance that the Rays would be able to retain him. Then on December 5, it was announced that the Chicago White Sox signed Keppinger to a three-year, $12 million deal (Jeff Keppinger to White Sox). The White Sox had lost third baseman Kevin Youkilis to free agency this off-season and needed someone to replace him.
I am disappointed that the Rays did not go after Keppinger since he was able to hit against left-handed pitchers and has been the second-toughest hitter to strike out over the past three seasons; meanwhile the Rays have had trouble with lefties
and have high strikeout rates. Keppinger also has a career batting average of .288 while the Rays’ team average is .240. The Rays currently do not have a DH and Keppinger could have filled that position for $4 million a year, not a bad deal since the Rays have wasted millions on hitters that have not worked out. The Rays also had trouble playing against the White Sox in 2012 and Keppinger’s offense will make it even harder for the Rays to beat the White Sox. I hope the Rays will be able to find a dependable hitter to replace Keppinger and wish Keppinger the best of luck with the White Sox.
It is the middle of May and the New York Yankees just experienced a season high six game losing streak, a streak that included the Yankees being swept at home by their rivals, the Boston Red Sox. At the moment, nearly all the Yankees are underperforming since battings averages are lower than predicted and in the past week there has also been an internal conflict involving Yankees veterans Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada. These incidents have caused several sports outlets to declare the Yankees are experiencing a crisis.
Wait, what? A crisis?
The Yankees are only two games behind the A.L. East leader the Tampa Bay Rays and are currently ranked #6 in the power rankings; yet every day for the past week, the sports media has exaggerating the Yankee’s woes, creating a Yankee soap opera that clouds the sports news in hopes of attracting an audience that will pity the poor Yankees. Though the Yankees are not number one in baseball, it is hard to feel sorry for the America’s favorite team for these ten reasons.
10) New Yankee Stadium: The new Yankee Stadium opened in 2009 and is one of the most expensive stadiums in the world. The stadium was built to suit a team known for hitting homeruns since the dimensions of the field remain small: left field is 318 feet, center field is 408 feet, and right field is 314 feet. Though the stadium has the same field dimensions as the previous stadium, the wall in the right outfield is two feet shorter, making it easier to hit homeruns out of the park. The stadium has one of the shortest right field dimensions of 314 feet; it is 14 feet shorter than the Toronto Blue Jays Rogers Centre. There is no reason to feel bad for a team who has a brand, new expensive stadium designed to make it easier for them to hit homeruns out of the park in order to win games.
9) Alex Rodriquez: The Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriquez (A-Rod) is one of the most hated athletes, so it is no surprise that he plays for one of the most hated baseball teams (one either loves or hates the Yankees, there is no middle). A-Rod is one of the most productive baseball players in history since he is predicted to break Barry Bond’s homerun record; but he also lied about his steroid use. Though A-Rod is viewed as a disgrace to baseball by many, the Yankees realized that A-Rod’s talent was needed if they wanted to win championships; in 2007, they handed A-Rod a 10 year, $257 million contract. The Yankees deserve no sympathy since they have one of the most hated tainted talented baseball players on their team.
8 ) Yankees play Dirty: The majority of baseball teams have had baseball players who have abused steroids at one point in their lives. At the moment, the number one example is A-Rod who tested positive for steroids the year before he became a Yankee. Several Yankees who helped bring home the World Series Championship in the year 2000 also tested positive for steroids at one point of their lives, thus tainting the 2000 year. Though the current Yankees are clean, some of the players still play dirty. In 2004 during Game 6 against the Red Sox, A-Rod slapped the ball out of the glove to prevent being tagged. This led to A-Rod being called out for interference and the Yankees went on to lose the game and the series. Even Derek Jeter was forced to play dirty at one point. In a game against the Tampa Bay Rays in September 2010, Jeter faked getting hit by a pitch. Though he was awarded first base, Jeter continued to show off his acting skills by holding his arm in pain; even the Yankees trainer left the dugout to check out his arm. While Jeter was acting, Rays’ fans were watching replays that showed that Jeter was never hit by the ball, only his bat was hit. Though no baseball team has perfect players, the Yankees have several players who have shown that they are not afraid to play dirty in order to win; they do not deserve any sympathy.
7) Aging Yankee Veterans: Many veteran Yankees are approaching the age of 40, a number that implies that an athlete is too old to be playing ball. Jeter, team captain and fan favorite, became a free agent for the first time in his career this past offseason. Though it was widely predicted that the Yankees would create a contract for Jeter to ensure that he retires as a Yankees, no one could have predicted that the drama involving the contract negotiations would become one of the biggest stories of baseball during the offseason. The 2010 baseball season was not one of Jeter’s best and the Yankees realized that Jeter’s skills would only worsen as he aged. During a meeting that involved Jeter, Jeter’s agent, Jeter’s attorney, Yankees’ General Manager Brian Cashman, Team President Randy Levine, and Yankees’ Co-owner Hal Steinbrenner, Jeter lasted only 45 minutes due to his anger about how the Yankees were making the negotiations public. Cashman even went to the media and recommended that Jeter test the baseball market to see if he could get a better deal, a statement that showed how the relationship between Jeter and the Yankees now strained. Though Jeter ended up signing a three-year, $51 million contract with an option year, baseball fans continue to debate when the Yankees will assign Jeter to a different fielding position. Another aging Yankees player is Jorge Posada, a player who once served as the main catcher of the Yankees but was forced to hang his catching gear due to multiple injuries during the 2010 season. Posada was assigned the DH role, a role he has failed at since his batting average is currently .165 and he remains hitless against left-handed pitchers. Posada is playing in his last year of his four-year, $52.4 million contract with the Yankees; but, if he does not begin to hit the ball, his season may end earlier than expected. The Yankees deserve no sympathy for the way they dealt with their veterans. Though teams should not let emotions get in the way of contract negotiations, Jeter and Posada deserved more respect than what the Yankees gave them.
6) Yankees let the Public Know about Internal Problems: Though all baseball teams deal with drama, the Yankees have purposely made some of the drama public. On March 14th, Posada saw that he was batting in the ninth spot for the first time since 1999. Posada was furious and embarrassed at the situation and benched himself that night, a night in which the Red Sox were in town. As mentioned earlier, Cashman is not afraid of using the media for his gain. During the game, Cashman told the media that Posada’s benching had nothing to do with an injury, but that Posada benched himself. Though Posada’s action was selfish and immature, the way the Yankees dealt with it was also selfish and immature. The drama continued to worsen when Jeter defended Posada and said he did not have to apologize to anyone, a move that further angered the Yankees. Even Red Sox DH David Ortiz came to Posada’s defense. It is hard to feel bad for a team that purposely blows a situation out of proportion.
5) Yankees have Spoiled “Fans”: Since the Yankees are known for producing World Series Titles, their fans have become accustomed to winning. Since the Yankees have the most World Series Titles, some Yankee fans are only Yankee fans because the Yankees are considered the best baseball team in the United Sates. Though the majority of Yankee fans will follow their team in the good times and the bad times, certain Yankee “fans” expect the Yankees to always win. Toward the end of the 2010 baseball season, the Yankees lost the A.L. East Title to the Tampa Bay Rays and entered the playoffs as the A.L. wild card. Even though the Yankees still made it to the playoffs, the fans wanted Yankees Coach Joe Girardi gone. Girardi was blamed for the Yankee’s poor September record since he made bizarre bullpen moves and kept changing the lineup. Rumors of Girardi leaving the Yankees to manage the Chicago Clubs emerged, causing some Yankee fans to become excited at the possibility of a new coach. Though Girardi ended up agreeing to a three-year deal with the Yankees, the Girardi drama demonstrated how quick Yankee fans are to turn on a Yankee. The Yankees’ fan base includes spoiled fans and bandwagoners that do not deserve any sympathy since there are several teams who do not even have one World Series Title.
4) MLB Favorites: The Yankees are one of the oldest teams in baseball, have the most World Series Titles (27), and have numerous players in Baseball Hall of Fame; thesis reasons have caused the Yankees to become the most popular team in baseball. Since the Yankees have a huge fan base, this also means that they make the most profit. According to Forbes magazine, the Yankees are worth $1.6 billion; the team that comes in second is the Boston Red Sox, who are worth $870 million. Since the Yankees are American’s favorite team, they are also favored by sports outlets. When the Yankees lose a game on national television, the ESPN announcers seem to mourn along with the Yankee fans. During any baseball game, the umpires seem to favor the Yankees, ensuring that the Yankees make it to the post season and bring their fans (and high television ratings) with them. There is no reason to feel bad for a team that has major league baseball rooting for them to make it to the post season.
3) Yankees can afford to make Mistakes: The Yankees are able to produce high paying contracts without worrying about the negative consequences. In 2007, Posada signed a four year, $52.4 million extension contract. The reason why the contract is so expensive is because the New York Mets were after the Yankee’s star catcher. Now, with all the drama involving Posada, the Yankees are probably regretting the contract. Posada missed time last year due to injuries and is rumored to be released by the Yankees if his batting average does not increase by the All-Star break. In 2007, A-Rod received a 10-year, $257 million contract. This means that the Yankees will have a 42-year old player on their team in 2017. During the 2010 offseason, Jeter signed a three-year, $51 million contract, even though his numbers have been decreasing with old age. At the moment, the Yankees are wondering how long Jeter can last at shortstop before breaking his hip. Another contract signed during the 2010 offseason was to Rafael Soriano, a former Ray who led the A.L. in saves during the 2010 season. Though Soriano had a history of injuries, the Yankees signed him to a three year, $35 million contract. At the moment, Soriano is currently on the 15-day disabled list. Though several of these contracts may be viewed as a mistake in hindsight, the Yankees are able to afford these mistakes since they have the money. While some teams may suffer for a year due to a bad contract, the Yankees can afford to move on. Their ability to not suffer from costly mistakes is another reason why no one should feel bad for the Yankees.
2) Hank Steinbrenner’ Comments: In 2007, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner stepped aside and let his sons Hal Steinbrenner and Hank Steinbrenner take over the responsibilities. In July 1020, George Steinbrenner died, leaving behind the Yankee legacy and charity work he performed in Tampa, Florida. This past season, Hank Steinbrenner tried explaining why the Yankees failed to win the World Series championship; some Yankees are too busy building mansions. Though he did not name anyone, everyone knows Jeter is building a mansion in Tampa. Steinbrenner also commented how the current revenue sharing and luxury tax system was communism. It is hard to feel bad for an owner who is complaining about how he lost $130 million due to this system when the Yankees are worth over a billion dollars. Steinbrenner even hinted that small market teams should not be playing in the major leagues; hinting that he wants the Rays contracted. It seems as though Steinbrenner is upset that the expensive Yankees are not bringing home the World Series rings every single year because of certain competitive teams. Major League Commissioner ended up telling Steinbrenner that he better keep his mouth shut.
1) Pay Roll: The current Yankees payroll is $196,854,639 million, the largest payroll in baseball. In fact, Alex Rodriquez makes $32,000,000, a number that is viewed outlandish when the Kansas City Royals’ payroll is $35,712,400. The Yankees are known for scouting for the best player in a needed position and writing him an enormous check in order to persuade him to come over to the dark side. Meanwhile, small market teams spend the year scouting for players with potential and planning deals and trades, knowing that there is always a possibility for the new player to not live up to their potential, resulting in the team to suffer. Since the Yankees have a huge payroll, their fans assume that the Yankees are guaranteed a play-off appearance every year and an A.L East Title. This idea has begun to dissipate since the Rays, who own baseball’s second lowest payroll of $41,932,171, continue to remain a threat to the Yankee’s plan. At the moment, the Rays lead the A.L. East and are two games above the Yankee. Though the Yankees must be hurting knowing that their payroll is 4.7x the amount of the Rays, yet they still have trouble beating them; the Yankees do not deserve anyone’s sympathy. After all, the Yankees are the ones who decided that money was the main thing needed to win championships and they still have a large amount of money to buy new players.
Bobbie Dittmeier Study: Design cause of Stadium homers MLB.com
Derek Jeter fakes getting hit by Pitch Associated Press
Hank Steinbrenner: Some Yankees Not Concentrating on Winning Huffpost Sports
Ken Davidoff Cashman needs to take Command Charlotte Observer
Lisa Swan A-Rod Gets Slappy NYDailyNews.com
Mark Feinsand Rafael Soriano heads to 15-day DL NY Daily News
Murray Chass Does Yankees’ Steroid Use Taint Torre? The New York Times
Ryan Mink Planning for Future with Prospects New MLB.com
Talks hurt Derek Jeter-GM Relationship ESPNNewYork.com
Yankees worth $1.6 billion The Associated Press