What to Make of the Rockies’ Hot Start

Being only three weeks into the MLB Season, of course we are going to see a lot of surprises.  Teams who we thought would be World Series contenders are sitting in the cellar of their division, and some MVP-caliber players have yet to hit a home run.  And finally, there are those surprise teams who seem to be unbeatable, who before the season were considered afterthoughts.  After finishing 64-98 last season, the Colorado Rockies are off to a 13-4 start this year, tied for the best record in baseball with the Atlanta Braves.  Now we’re faced with the question: will this run continue, or will they come back down to earth where most people think they belong?

My response: they will come back down to earth and probably will finish somewhere around 77-85, not a bad season considering last year.

The Rockies have the advantage of playing in the most hitter-friendly park in baseball.  They are 8-0 at home this season and 5-4 on the road.  The benefits of playing at Coors Field have shown for the Rockies to this point, as they lead the majors in runs scored, on base and slugging percentage, and rank second in batting average.  They boast a strong middle of the order with Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, Michael Cuddyer, and Wilin Rosario.  The stats and names of an October contender are all there… at least on offense.

Before I continue, I want you to think of the name of a pitcher from the Rockies’ starting rotation.  Got one?  Didn’t think so.  Chances are, unless you are an avid Rockies fan, you cannot name a single starter.  To this point, the starters have been decent, ranking 13th in the majors in ERA and 18th in WHIP.  However, I doubt all of these starters will be able to continue their success.  The NL West is home to a lot of strong pitching, and on days when Gonzalez and Tulowitzki are stifled by the likes of Clayton Kershaw and others, I don’t think this rotation will be able to carry the team.



Are The Yankees Too Old?

As March passes by, the smell of hot dogs and peanuts become familiar again. Baseball is back and this year might be different than most years for the Yankees. They’re aging rapidly and are battling injuries before their first pitch has even been thrown. Historians have cited the underachieving 1965 Yankees as an example for this year’s squad. The 1965 team, which included Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford, and numerous other household names was beset by injuries and old age from the start. That Yankee team went 77-85 and finished in 6th place. The Yankees did not rebound from their free fall until 1974.

The Yankees will continue their quest for 28 World Series rings this year

The 2013 edition has a similar feel to the 1965 team. Among those injured is their captain Derek Jeter, who looks to come out strong after an all star caliber year in 2012. Also among the wounded is Curtis Granderson, who tallied 43 homers last year for the Bombers, and reigning Gold Glove first baseman Mark Teixeira. Then there’s Alex Rodriguez. The 37 year old third baseman is dealing with a steroid allegation and is also out until at least June recovering from hip surgery. They’ve also lost Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Raul Ibañez and Eric Chavez to free agency. With all of the losses, the Yankees will head into opening day without a combined 180 homeruns from last season. With a hole at 3rd base, the Yankees went out and signed Kevin Youkilis. The former Red Sox player will be a fan favorite in the Bronx after flipping sides in the Yanks-Sox rivalry. The Bombers also brought in Travis Hafner, Ben Francisco, Brennan Boesch and Vernon Wells to round out the lineup.

The rotation this year could be the most critical factor in determining where the Yankees will fall in the standings. C.C. Sabathia will lead the pack as the Yanks’ ace. Hiroki Kuroda will follow, a season after establishing career highs in wins, starts, innings and strikeouts. Andy Pettitte, Ivan Nova and David Phelps will round out the rotation. Looking ahead to July, the Phillies will almost certainly be shopping Cliff Lee if he doesn’t perform to their high expectations. The Yankees have looked at adding Lee over the last couple years, so don’t be surprised if they contact the Phillies for an asking price.
In the bullpen, Mariano Rivera looks to finish his career in style this season, and you can be sure that most, if not all of the stadiums he visits will honor him with gifts and tributes. A confident David Robertson is what the Yankees need, after he lost the closer job last season to Rafael Soriano. He’ll be the setup man for Mo this year and hopes to be the closer next season.
If the Yankees can make it to June without falling apart, I expect them to slip into the playoffs as the 2nd wild card team and prove the historians wrong. While the team remains confident headed into the season, it could be a very bumpy ride.



6 Things to Watch this MLB Season

With the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros kicking off the 2013 MLB Season tonight, we embark on a 7-month journey that should feature some great baseball.  Just like every year, there are predictions and expectations.  Whether or not the teams and players live up to these will be decided in the coming months.  I thought I’d offer my opinion on the 6 things to watch this MLB season.

 

1.  Third time the charm for the Pirates?  In 2011 and 2012 the Pittsburgh Pirates entered the All-Star Break as not only playoff contenders, but NL Central Pennant contenders.  Both of those years the Pirates failed to finish .500, extending their streak of consecutive losing seasons to 20 after the collapse last season.  They were 16 games over .500 with only 54 games remaining in the season last year.  My question is: will Pittsburgh be able to start and finish strong this year, or will it be another year of despair for Pittsburgh?  Unfortunately I think it will be the latter.  The Pirates were 12-5 against the Houston Astros last season, and this year they will not have the opportunity to earn more than three games against a dismal Astros team that has moved to the American League.  Obviously a few wins over the Astros are not the only thing keeping the Pirates from getting over the .500 mark, but this division seems too strong for the Pirates at this point.  I’m pulling for them this year, but it will be tough, and it is certainly something to watch for.

2.  Can they live up to the hype?  No, I’m not talking about Mike Trout or Bryce Harper (they will come later), I’m talking about the Washington Nationals and Stephen Strasburg.  Two seasons ago, this team finished with a record of 80-81.  Last year, they improved it to 98-64 and now everybody is jumping on the bandwagon with the World Series predictions.  Don’t get me wrong, I think the Nationals are a great team and have a good shot at playing deep into October.  The starting rotation is perhaps the best in the game, and they have some bats that can produce runs.  However, this is a lot of hype considering that the Nationals are coming out of nowhere.  They will have a lot to prove this year, and there will be pressure on the team to produce.  One of the players under the microscope will be Stephen Strasburg, who will have to demonstrate why Nationals GM Mike Rizzo made the right decision in shutting him down by having a dominant season.  Both the Nationals and Strasburg are capable, and their run towards October will certainly be one to watch.



The members of the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame Class ARE. . .

This afternoon, The Baseball Writers Association of America announced the results of the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2013 balloting.

NO ONE reached the required 75% to be voted to the Hall of Fame in 2013.

This is the first time since 1996 that no one was elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America for induction into the Hall of Fame.

First timer Craig Biggio got the closest with 68% of the vote and was only 39 vote short of being elected this year.



Please Welcome to Twitter — @wstrophy

Please Welcome to Twitter the highly sought after World Series Trophy!

Currently residing in San Francisco, California; also home of the 2012 World Series Champions Giants, “The Trophy” seems to need some help looking for an apartment for the next few months — so if any Bay Area Residents can help, please make sure to sent him out a Tweet.



Cal Ripken, Jr. or Ray Lewis, who means more to Baltimore?

Thank you to the NFL Network for raising this interesting question today:  Who means more to the city of Baltimore:  For Baltimore Orioles great Cal Ripken, Jr. or Baltimore Ravens great Ray Lewis who announced his retirement as soon as this playoff season is over?



What will you remember from 2012?

Happy New Year Baseball Fans!

As the holiday season come to and end the new year begins, we take one last look at 2012 with a simple question, what will you remember most?

The arrival of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper?  The Triple Crown of Miguel Cabrera?

The San Francisco Giants winning their second World Series Championship in three seasons?



Remembering Roberto Clemente 40 years later

Forty years ago, on December 31, 1972, Roberto Clemente Walker died in a plane crash soon after departing Puerto Rico’s San Juan airport; Clemente was attempting to bring aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.  It is believed that the age on the aircraft and the extra weight from all the relief supplies Clemente was trying to bring caused the play to crash on take off.

Roberto Clemente played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball playing right field for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1955 to 1972 where he won 12 Gold Glove and was a 12-time All-Star; he also ended his career with exactly 3,000 hits with the last one coming on the last day of 1972 season.    In 1960 he was the first Latin-American player to win a World Series as a starter, in 1966 in was the first to win a league MVP and in 1971 became the first to win a World Series MVP.  In 1973, soon after the plane crash, Roberto Clemente was posthumously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame when the normal five year waiting period was waived for only the second time in history, the first time was for Lou Gehrig.

Major League Baseball gives out the Roberto Clemente Award annually to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team”; the award was renamed in 1973 in honor and remembrance of Clemente.



What are the Atlanta Braves thinking?

The Atlanta Braves, as many Major League Baseball teams, will have newly designed batting practice uniforms in 2013.

While many professional teams and college teams still use Native American names, most are moving away from using images that are offensive toward the rich culture and history of Native American, they are trying not to use images that show Native American as just warriors.

Now hear comes the new logo that will appear on the Atlanta Braves’ batting practice caps — the simple and stupid question is WHY?  Why would they want to use this logo?  They could not come up with anything better?  What ideas were rejected that left them with this idea?



Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus

I grew up in New York City and always loved reading newspapers and still do to this day.  One of my favorite parts of the Christmas holiday season is a get to reread the original letter published on September 21, 1897 in The Sunone of the many newspapers of its day.

As the story goes, Dr. Philip O’Hanlon who lived in Manhattan was asked by his eight year old daughter Virginia if there really was a Santa Claus; the doctor told her to write The Sun and said, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.”  The newspaper’s editor, Francis Pharcellus Church gave this reply:

Dear Editor,

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say that there is no Santa Claus. Papa says “If you see it in the Sun, it is so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?