Sunday, May 21, 2017

Milestone Hit For Reyes

Hitting a baseball. It's one of the hardest things in all of sports to be able to do. Now try hitting a baseball over 2,000 times. Hard to imagine right? Well it's happened at the Major League level, quite a bit. In fact there have been 279 players that have accomplished that feet. Now we can add another name to that list. Last night, against the Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim, Jose Reyes collected his 2,000th career Major League hit. It just so happened to be with the team that he started his career with.

It's kind of like life coming full circle for Reyes, who at this time last year, didn't even know if he was going to be on a big league roster. Reyes was at home last year because of that off-the-field issue, suspended until May 31 because of a domestic violence charge and then optioned by the Rockies down to Triple-A. He eventually was designated for assignment, released June 23 and snatched up by the Mets two days later. The rest is history, just like Reyes earned a little piece of history with his first-inning single off Alex Meyer. Reyes went 3-for-4 with a stolen base, a walk, two RBIs and his milestone 2,000th hit. Reyes became just the eighth active player in the 2,000-hit club, joining Ichiro Suzuki, Adrian Beltre, Albert Pujols, Carlos Beltran, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano and current Yankee Matt Holliday. The single was Reyes' 1,396th hit with the Mets. He also had 370 with the Toronto Blue Jays, 184 with the Miami Marlins and 50 with the Colorado Rockies.

Jose Reyes has had an interesting fifteen year carer so far in the Biggs. He's played in 1,663 games, hitting .287 for his career, with now 2,002 career hits, 129 homers, 122 triples, 493 stolen bases, 660 RBI and 1,095 runs scored. Reyes ranks third in Mets history with the 1,396 hits, trailing Ed Kranepool at 1,418 and David Wright at 1,777. Reyes, in his prime, was one of those guys that you just had to watch play. He had an excitement and electricity about his game that only few others ever had. He could do a little bit of everything: hit, hit for occasional power, run, field, run with a ton of speed. He had the ability to electrify a crowd with the crack of the bat, because once he made contact, you knew that the possibility that anything could happen. A simple single for anybody else could possibly be turned into a double off the bat of Reyes because of that speed. He also had an infectious personality, you couldn't help but like the guy.

Since he left the Mets in 2011, after winning a batting title, he wasn't the same player. He had a decent year in Miami after signing a massive offseason contract with the Marlins. He then gets traded to Toronto in a massive multiplayer trade and things kinda just went south from there.. Two and a half average seasons at best, then he gets traded to the Rockies, where everything seemed to hit the fan. He had his off the field issues and really seemed lost. Now after getting his life back together and seeming to pay what he owed, he's back on the field once again. Sure he doesn't have the same spark he once did, Reyes is 33 years old and came up to the Majors a day before his 20th birthday. He still has flashes of his old self, sure, but its not exactly the same as his last stint here in New York.

After all that has gone down in Reye's career, the fact that he's been able to collect 2,000 hits in his career is pretty cool and says a lot about just how good a baseball player he really is.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Draft Lottery Fallout

It comes around this time each year. The Draft Lottery is held to see who gets the number one overall pick when the NBA holds the 2017 draft on June 22nd, which  emanates from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Coming out of what happened with the lottery, there leaves plenty of intrigue. Boston, who will open play in the Eastern Conference Finals tonight, claimed the first pick thanks to the 2013 trade with Brooklyn that keeps on giving. Then you have the Lakers, who would have been forced to convey their pick to the Sixers had it fallen outside the top three, instead jumped up to the 2nd overall pick. And lets not forget about the Sixers, who jumped up from the 5th spot to the 3rd pick after cashing in on a 2015 trade that included a pick swap with the Kings. Oh yeah, and there's the New York Knicks who will be picking at 8th. So there is a little bit of winner and loser fallout from this, so let's take a look at that and how things will play out possibly for the Knicks at 8th.

Winners:
Celtics 
This one is an easy one. They are playing in the Eastern Conference Finals and are getting the top pick in the draft in a little over a month. Danny Ainge, the Boston GM is looking like a genius. The Celtics had the right the right to swap their first-round and second-round picks for the Nets' first-round pick from the 2013 trade that sent Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn. So the Nets got two older players for the 2013-14 season, one in which the Nets made the playoffs, but were bounced in the 2nd round by the Heat. Boston was a bad team that year, but now here we sit three seasons later, the Celtics are the best team in the East (along with Cleveland) AND have the top pick in the draft. Oh yeah, and Boston has a laundry list of flexible contracts, young prospects and now the No. 1 pick to drive their pursuits of trades and high-profile free agents.

Lakers
This turns out to be a good thing for the Lakers. They sit in a perfect chance to take the hometown kid in Lonzo Ball at two. Ball is good, there's no doubt about that, even though there will be the headache of dealing with Ball's father Lavar. All signs point to Ball staying in Los Angeles, and the Lakers can add an up-tempo, pass-first shooter who looks like a natural fit in coach Luke Walton’s offense. It will be done now, without nearly as much criticism had they say fallen to the third overall pick.

Losers:
Nets
This one is almost a gimme, its too easy. When the trade was made, it looked like it might be the move to help get the Nets over the hump and take down the mighty Heat. Well now it turns back and it looks like it bit them in the ass four years later. Despite losing more games than any other team this season, the Nets will pick No. 27, behind every other Eastern Conference team with a first-round pick this year. Of course, it gets worse. The Nets must also convey their 2018 first-round pick to the Celtics, even if they finish with the league’s worst record again. Just to kind of add more salt to the wounds, the draft this year is at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn

D'Angelo Russell 
Russell, LA’s 2015 No. 2 pick, remains stuck in purgatory after two seasons: He hasn’t broken through as a star-to-be and he hasn’t busted out. After struggling as a rookie under coach Byron Scott and repeatedly facing questions about his maturity and commitment to defense, Russell briefly found himself benched in March—a minor red flag regarding his assumed status as LA’s point guard of the future. If the Lakers do draft Ball, they will do so knowing they must commit to him as a pace-setting, distribution-minded floor general. That means Russell will either need to be moved off the ball, a workable possibility, or shipped out of town. Given that Russell is still only 21, this qualifies as a “Life comes at your fast” predicament, like the one that his fellow 2015 lottery pick, Emmanuel Mudiay, is experiencing in Denver.

Now then, lets switch gears to the New York Knicks. This is now the 3rd time in the last twenty years that the Knicks have held the 8th pick, in 2009 they took Jordan Hill and in 2005 they took Channing Frye. Based on history, if the Knicks come away with a solid roleplayer with the eighth pick, they should be happy. They cannot under any circumstances afford to gamble and wind up with someone like Joe Alexander who gives them nothing. Finding an All-Star would be an aberration. If they can find a guy who can complement with KP then they will be plenty happy. Lauri Markkanen of Arizona and Jonathan Isaac of Florida State are the early names I'm hearing linked to possibly be the best fit for the Knicks, or at least that would fit Phil's description best of what he wants for this team.

Now comes the hard part. Finding the right guys for the right teams. That will all be decided on June 22nd!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Yankees Retire Single Digits

Just take a look at that photo for a second. Did you see it? That's right, there are now no more single digit numbers available left in the Bronx. With Derek Jeter getting his number two retired at the stadium on Mothers Day, that leaves no single digit left in circulation for the boys in the Bronx. That show's the true greatness of not only all of the players that are on this list, but it goes to show the greatness of the franchise as a whole. But before we get into the single digits that are now out of circulation, lets look at some other numbers shall we.

Lets face facts, it could be quite a while before the Yankees decide to even try and retire another number, Jeter maybe the last one we see for a long time. Yes there have been some great players that have played for the New York Yankees, but are they worthy of getting their numbers retired? Jeter is now the 22nd player to have his number retired by the Yankees, and if the team is smart it should be the last one for a good long time. But lets start a bit of a debate shall we. I personally don't think A-Rod or Roger Clemens are getting their numbers retired anytime soon, if at all. Why? The results should be obvious. If your even remotely linked to steroid usage, then no way in hell your getting your number retired by the Yankees. Or any other right thinking franchise for that matter, but that's kinda just my theory on it.

Paul O’Neill and Tino Martinez, like Willie Randolph and Mel Stottlemyre and a few others from long-ago eras, got the plaque treatment among the monuments without the additional honor of a number retirement. Hell I can throw a couple of more names out there at you. Hideki Matsui, Mike Mussina and perhaps even Robinson Cano and CC Sabathia might fall into this second-tier category down the line. All those players that were just listed have all had good playing careers in New York, that's for sure. That being said, as good as they all were, they don't quite reach the levels of the players who's numbers are retired that you see at the top of this page.

With that being said, lets take a look at some of the men who's numbers are now out in the Bronx. It will take way too long to go over some of the career highlights of every number that's been retired by the Yankees, so for the purposes of time we will only really look at the single digits that have been retired.

#1 (Retired Aug. 10, 1986) Billy Martin: He's a 4-time world champion, who hit .333 with 19 RBI in 5 Fall Classics. Billy is more honored for 5 stormy stints as Yankee manager (winning the Series in 1977) as well as for being perfect foil to George Steinbrenner. After the ceremony, Martin vowed he would never again manage the Yankees, only to return to the dugout in 1988.

#2 (Retired May 14, 2017) Derek Jeter: The last Yankee single digit number went to great use and an obvious choice to be retired. Jeter was a 14-time All-Star, 5-time world champion, 5 Gold Gloves, team captain, Yankee career leader in hits, doubles, steals and games played> Oh yeah, was also the All-Star Game and World Series MVP. Nobody did it better at Short

#3 (Retired June 13, 1948) Babe Ruth: Put Yankees and baseball on the map> How you ask? Oh you know he just hit 714 homers, 60 homers in 1927, first HR in Yankee Stadium, .342 career average. Died of cancer 2 months after ceremony. Third number retired in baseball after Lou Gehrig (1939) and Carl Hubbell (1944).

#4 (Retired July 4, 1939) Lou Gehrig: The first number retirement in baseball became the most iconic moment in history of the sport. Gehrig played in 2,130 straight games (a record that would later be broken by Cal Ripkin), hit 23 grand slams, drove in a Yankee record 1,995 runs, hit 493 home runs and won 6 World Series. No. 4 wasn’t technically retired until Jan. 6 1940 when team president Ed Barrow announced it would never be worn again.

#5 (Retired April 18, 1952) Joe DiMaggio: Yankee Clipper’s No. 5 was retired before the home opener in 1952, 6 months after his final game. Jolting Joe was an  All-Star in each of his 13 seasons, 3-time AL MVP, .325 career average, 56-game hitting streak in 1941, nine-time world champion.

#6 (Retired Aug 23, 2014) Joe Torre: Made playoffs each of 12 Yankee seasons running the team, winning 4 World Series, 6 AL pennants, and 10 division crowns. His 1,173 wins rank second only to Joe McCarthy’s 1,460 as a manager of the Yanks. Joe wore 15 and 9 during All-Star playing career but both were retired by Yankees, so he switched to six and made it his own.

#7 (Retired June 8, 1969) Mickey Mantle: Greatest switch-hitter in baseball history, there's not even a debate. Mick was a .298 lifetime hitter, a man who smacked 536 homers, was a 3-time AL MVP, 16-time All-Star, and won the Triple Crown in 1956,. He finished his career as a 7-time world champion. Wore No. 6 in 1951 until Cliff Mapes was traded to the Browns on July 31.

#8, Yogi Berra, (Retired July 22, 1972) and Bill Dickey (Retired July 22, 1972) Dickey was a Hall of Fame catcher was 8-time world champion, 11-time All-Star, .313 career average. As a Yankee coach (switching to No. 33), he won 6 more rings and is credited with molding Yogi Berra and Elston Howard into top catchers. Yogi was a 3-time AL MVP, 10-time world champion, 16-time All-Star, 358 home runs, 1,430 RBI. Caught 3 no-hitters. Missed the ceremony on Yankee Old-Timers Day due to managing the Mets in San Francisco.

#9 (Retired July 22, 1984) Roger Maris: Belted historic 61 homers in 1961, won back-to-back AL MVP awards, hit 5 World Series homers and won 2 titles with Yankees. Hit 203 homers in seven Yankee seasons. Died just 18 months after ceremony.

So that's what just some of the numbers now look like in the Bronx!

Friday, May 12, 2017

NHL Conference Finals Preview

And now there were four. After a grueling first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there are four teams left standing in the National Hockey League. Round two of the playoffs saw all four series go at least six games, with two of them going the full seven games. The Rangers and Capitals just ran out of steam in the East, while luck simply ran out on both the Oilers and Blues. So now here we sit, with a Canadian team, a team from the music city, and the defending Stanley Cup Champions still left in the field. Round two also saw a dramatic cut back in extra time, with only four of the twenty six games needing overtime. Now that all that has been said and done, the conference finals are here and were ready to find out who will square off for hockey's ultimate prize. For the eighth season in a row (and the twelfth time in the last fourteen seasons), a California team is in the Western Conference Final.

First up, its the Eastern Conference Finals. We have the 2nd best team in the Metropolitan Division the Pittsburgh Penguins, taking on the 2nd best team in the Atlantic Division, the Ottawa Senators. For the Ottawa Senators, this marks the 3rd ever appearance in the conference finals, having lost in 2003 to the Devils and beating the Sabres in 2007. Ottawa got here by beating the Boston Bruins in the opening round and the New York Rangers in round two. Both series went six games. Ottawa has now won 77 games all time in the post season. The Senators are trying to make the Stanley Cup Finals for only the 2nd time in franchise history. As for the Penguins, they are the defending Stanley Cup Champions. This marks the 2nd straight year, and 9th time overall, that the Penguins have reached this round of the playoffs. Pittsburgh got here after beating the Columbus Blue Jackets in five games in the opening round and the Washington Capitals in seven games in round two. Pittsburgh has now won 192 lifetime playoff games. This is the fifth playoff meeting between these teams with Pittsburgh winning three of the four previous series. They last met in the 2013 Eastern Conference Semifinals, which Pittsburgh won in five games. This is the second consecutive Conference Finals for Pittsburgh who defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning last year in seven games. Ottawa last went to the Conference Finals in 2007; they defeated the Buffalo Sabres in five games. Ottawa won two of the three games against Pittsburgh in this year's regular season series.

Here are the date and times for every game in this series:
May 13 Ottawa Senators 7:00 p.m. Pittsburgh Penguins PPG Paints Arena
May 15 Ottawa Senators 8:00 p.m. Pittsburgh Penguins PPG Paints Arena
May 17 Pittsburgh Penguins 8:00 p.m. Ottawa Senators Canadian Tire Centre
May 19 Pittsburgh Penguins 8:00 p.m. Ottawa Senators Canadian Tire Centre
May 21 Ottawa Senators 3:00 p.m. Pittsburgh Penguins PPG Paints Arena
May 23 Pittsburgh Penguins 8:00 p.m. Ottawa Senators Canadian Tire Centre
May 25 Ottawa Senators 8:00 p.m. Pittsburgh Penguins PPG Paints Arena

So just exactly how good are the Champs? Depends on how Craig Anderson plays for Ottawa. He stood on his head at times in the last round against the Rangers, and may be called upon to have to do it again in this round against the Penguins. He did play stellar in game six, turning aside 37 Rangers shots in that hockey game, including a number of pressing attacks late in the game, which goes to show just how dialed in Anderson is right now in the post season. He's not the only one that's going to be counted on bigtime in this series. Erik Karlsson will have to once again produce in this series. Karlsson had seven points during three regular season meetings between the teams this year, so look for him to have another big series again now. He's going to need to if the Senators are looking to move on.

Now if your the defending champs, you got something to build off of from the last round. Hell just look at what the Pens have going for them now. They got home ice advantage in this series and the Pens have managed to make it this far with Matt Murray, Trevor Daley, Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang all banged up to varying degrees. But the Pens made a statement against the Capitals in that game seven victory, proving to themselves and the rest of the hockey world that they are still going to be the team to beat here in the playoffs. What's seperating the Pens from everybody else right now is the play of Marc-Andre Fleury, who has started to show signs of his old self again and is looking like the dominant goalie the league saw in both 2008 and 2009 when the Penguins had their last great deep playoff runs. He's been on his game, Evgeni Malkin is currently leading all players in scoring right now in the post season with 18 points, followed by Jake Gentzel and Sidney Crosby (who's been dealing with injuries) each with 14.

Anybody who saw the last round knows that the Senators are a good hockey team and more then capable of putting up a fight. With how well Craig Anderson has played to this point in the post season, he might be a be to steal a game or two away from the champs, but the Pens are too loaded a hockey team to get knocked out that easily by Ottawa. All signs point to a return trip to the finals for the Penguins.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins in 6!

As for the Western Conference Finals, we have the Wild Card Winning Nashville Predators, taking on the Pacific Division Champion Anaheim Ducks. For the Ducks, this is the 2nd time in three years and the 5th time overall that they have managed to reach the Western Conference Finals. Anaheim got here by sweeping the Calgary Flames in the opening round and then dispatching the Edmonton Oilers in seven games in the second round. The Ducks are looking to make it to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since winning it all in 2007. In the history of the team, Anaheim has won 87 total playoff games. As for their opponent, the Nashville Predators, this is the first time that the team has ever reached the Western Conference Finals. They got here by sweeping the Chicago Blackhawks in the opening round and dispatching the St Louis Blues in six games in round two. Nashville has now won 36 playoff games in the history of the franchise. They are looking to make their first ever appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals. This is the second consecutive playoff meeting and the third overall between these teams with Nashville winning both previous series including last year's first round confrontation in seven games. Anaheim won two of the three games in this year's regular season series.

Here are the date and times for every game in this series:
May 12 Nashville Predators 9:00 p.m. Anaheim Ducks Honda Center
May 14 Nashville Predators 7:30 p.m. Anaheim Ducks Honda Center
May 16 Anaheim Ducks 8:00 p.m. Nashville Predators Bridgestone Arena
May 18 Anaheim Ducks 8:00 p.m. Nashville Predators Bridgestone Arena
May 20 Nashville Predators 7:15 p.m. Anaheim Ducks Honda Center
May 22 Anaheim Ducks 8:00 p.m. Nashville Predators Bridgestone Arena
May 24 Nashville Predators 9:00 p.m. Anaheim Ducks Honda Center

This is a huge moment for the Predators who have never, ever gone this far in the post season. And why not. This is a Predators team that has been scalding since the postseason started. As if a first-round sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks weren't impressive enough, the Predators dispatched the St. Louis Blues in six games and have enjoyed an extended rest following Sunday's 3-1 series-clinching victory. I mean, hello, just look at who's been carrying the load for the Preds so far in the playoffs. Pekka Rinne has been playing out of his damn mind. He's gone 8-2 in ten games with a 1.37 GAA and a .951 save percentage. Yeah, he's been kinda good. He gets a lot of the credit as he should, but its not all on him. The defense that plays in front of him has been kinda good too. Nashville's defense has allowed a grand total of 14 goals through 10 playoff games. That's the same amount of goals that both Calgary and Montreal let up and those two teams played in a combined 11 games. That's really an amazing number when you stop and think about it for a second. And let us not forget that this Nashville team can score a little bit too. Ryan Ellis, Ryan Johansen and Roman Josi are leading the offensive charge for this team.

But now they're playing a team that has had a huge weight lifted off their shoulders. The Ducks, who hosted a seventh for 5th straight year, snapped a 4-game home losing streak in such contests and 5-game skid overall.As a matter of fact, the Ducks are the only division winner that's still left standing in the post season. Leading the charge for the Ducks has been This postseason, the Ducks have been led by center Ryan Getzlaf, third in playoff scoring with 15 points, trailing only Evgeni Malkin of the Pens (18 points) and the recently eliminated Leon Draisaitl of the Oilers (16 points). Nick Ritchie is going to be counted on a little bit more to step up in this series. He scored the game-winning goal in Game 7 against the Oilers. He scored it playing on the first line, moved there during the game to give that line more size and grit. He could remain there against the Predators. He has two goals in nine playoff games. While they count on him for scoring, the boys from Cali need to do a better job of protecting the creaser of John Gibson. Don't get me wrong Gibson has done well in the playoffs, but has been a bit shaky at times in the crease as well. So if the Ducks want to advance to the finals, they have to get a better performance from Gibson. He might not be able to hit the same level that Rinne has been playing at, but it has to be up there at least if he wants to have a chance at this thing working.

At the end of the day, as good as the Ducks are, they are going to get outplayed. Nashville doesn't have the offensive firepower that can really match what has been going on in Nashville, but the goaltending has been way better coming out of the music city.

Prediction: Nashville Predators in 7!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Winter Classic Invades New York

Rejoice fellow hockey fans, we have a date announced for New Years Day. Every year, on January 1st, the NHL takes the game of hockey back to its roots and goes outside for a day. Its a day on the schedule that a lot of fans look forward to watching every year, because the idea of seeing pro hockey played outside is cool. And it is a very cool concept. This year, the NHL announced that the Winter Classic will invade New York. On January 1st, 2018, Citi Field in Queens will be the site, while the Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers will be the teams.

It was announced Tuesday night that the game will take place in Queens, with Buffalo participating as the home team. This marks the 10th Winter Classic, which is kind of ironic that the Sabres played in the first one, and are now playing here again ten years later. Buffalo is playing this game as the home team because of rules surrounding the Rangers playing all home games at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers played in the 2012 Winter Classic in Philadelphia and took part in Stadium Series games against the Devils and Islanders at Yankee Stadium in 2014.

Out of the, soon to be, ten games played as the winter Classic, six of them will have been played in Baseball stadiums. We had Wrigley Field in 2009, Fenway Park in 2010, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia in 2012, Nationals Park in Washington in 2015, Busch Stadium in St Louis in 2017 and now Citi Field in Queens in 2018. For Citi Field, hosting an event such as this is nothing new, at least as far as hosting non baseball events go. Citi Field has hosted sold-out concerts by Beyonce, Dave Matthews Band, Paul McCartney and the Zac Brown Band, as well as soccer matches between European clubs and national teams. The venue's next challenge will be constructing an outdoor hockey rink.

It really is very cool to have a Winter Classic held in the New York City area, something I feel is long overdue. Its fantastic that its finally coming to New York and that the Rangers are playing in the game. There is just one little bug a boo I have with the team selection.

Now Yankee Stadium hosted the Stadium Series with the Islanders, Rangers and Devils the first year of the Stadium Series, which made a lot of sense having all three teams playing against each other. But why, in all good conscience, is this game Rangers-Sabres? I'm not taking anything away from the Sabres, they are a New York team. However this game is in the New York-Metro area, the Sabres are not a inkling down here in this area of the state, no offense to Sabres fans. This game needs to be Islanders-Rangers I'm sorry but it should have been.

I mean think about it, the Islanders are based in the area, much like the Rangers. I know its not exactly the same thing, but come on the Islanders are a stronger connection down here then the Sabres. This to me seems almost like a slap in the face to the Islanders, by putting the Sabres into this hockey game. For the NHL to be smart, show at least you have a little support in the Islanders franchise and give them something to show you at least care somewhat about the teams that play in your league. As an Islanders fan, I'm a little insulted honestly. When I heard the game was being played in Queens, I figured Islanders vs Rangers, or at least Rangers vs Devils. Both great matchups, great rivals. Why not put a big rivalry on a big stage? You did it with Hawks vs Wings in 2009, you did it with, Flyers vs Rangers in 2012, you did it in 2014 with Leafs vs Wings and you did it last year with Blues vs Hawks in St Louis. This Islanders and Rangers matchup should have been the next most logical stop.

I know its ten years of the game, and the Sabres played in the first one, but they don't need to be in this one if its in Queens. It should have been Islanders vs Rangers. Its an outdoor game, in prime time, in an area where the Islanders are trying to build a possible rink and its in Islanders country, more or less. That's the way it should have been and I think the league dropped the ball on the matchup. The concept is still cool ten years later, but the matchup isn't exactly a thriller for the area. If you wanted it that way the game should have been in Buffalo, not down here.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Don't Call It A Comeback

Playing in the Major Leagues is the dream of every kid who has ever picked up a baseball and stepped on a field. We've all had that dream, there's no way around it. All of us want to be there, but only a select few ever have the talent to actually make it there. Once you've made the show, you want to try and stay there for as long as you possibly can. For somebody like Eric Gagne, trying to make a comeback and get back to the show could be an uphill climb.

There was a three year stretch, from 2002-2004, Eric Gagne was one of the more dominate pitchers in all of Major League Baseball. To show how good he was, with his 55 saves, in 2003 Gagne was named the Cy Young Award winner in the National League. He had one more great year, if you want to call it that, in 2004, when he finished the year, with a 7-3 record and 45 saves. After that, Gagne had a falling out and couldn't find his game again. He didn't play very much in 2005 or 2006, gets traded in 2007 and finished up in 2008 with the Brewers at age 32. He hasn't been back in the Majors since. He tried making a comeback in 2010 with the Dodgers, but it didn't go as planned. Now, seven years after that attempted comeback, at age 41, he's trying to make another return to the big leagues. He just signed a deal with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League. Gagne has a good mix of piches, throwing anything from a four seam fastball, a two seam fastball, a changeup, curveball and a slider (something he rarely throws). He has the talent, but who knows if time has actually caught up to the former relief star.

As far as the team he has signed with, the Long Island Ducks, they have a good reputation in the Atlantic League. They are three time league champions and have seen there fair share of current and former Major League players come through the club. Current Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill played a part of the 2015 season on Long Island. He's the biggest name in the big leagues that used to play on the Island. But now Gagne joins a long list of former big league stars that have played on Long Island after their Major League career ended. The list of former Major Leaguers to play for the Ducks is as follows (Not yet including Gagne):

Bill Hall (2013-15)
Armando Benítez (2012)
Dontrelle Willis (2013)
John Rocker (2005)
Edgardo Alfonzo (2007)
Carlos Baerga (2001)
Carl Everett (2007-2008)
Richard Hidalgo (2008)
Sidney Ponson (2010)
Duaner Sanchez (2011)
Kip Wells (2010)
Nelson Figueroa (2010)
Preston Wilson (2009)
Jose Offerman (2007)
Danny Graves (2007)

So now for the big question. Does Eric Gagne have a chance to make the big leagues again? Bottom line, Gagne is a long, long way removed from his prime. While he might be able to gear up for one or two outings here and there, now he’ll be forced to prove he can do it consistently and in a competitive environment.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Crazyness Abound In Boston

Things have really seemed to start to get heated at Fenway park in Boston over the last couple of days. As a matter of fact, it seems as things are on the opposite end of the scale between the Red Sox and the Orioles.  One has to do with a few stupid fans that reside amongst the Fenway faithful. The other has to do with what appears to be bad blood between Boston pitchers and one of the top hitters in the Baltimore lineup.

This all got started on Monday night in the series opener between the O's and Sox. Some idiot fan, or fans as the case may be we don't know the exact details yet, start off by throwing Peanuts and O's center fielder Adam Jones. Then to make matters worse one, or possibly more, decided to start dropping the N word in Jones direction and at Jones. A number of fans were thrown out of Fenway because of this incident. Although Jones noted that racism exists everywhere, he cited "a long history of these incidents in Boston." Speaking to reporters in New York, Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia said Boston is the only place he has heard the N-word. The Red Sox were the last major league team to integrate, this coming 12 years after Jackie Robinson's debut. Jones mentioned the intolerance that Boston Celtics great Bill Russell dealt with during his career.

Now we live in a day and age where, I would love to think, that stuff like this had been taken out of society. I mean come on people grow up! This kind of stupidity and idiotic action has no place in public, in any way shape or form whatsoever. People really need to check themselves before going outside everyday. Its just sad that there's still this kind of hate and ignorance in society today. In sports, you get a lot of hate from fans to players, but more often then not it has to do with a good player hurting the team you root for. I will be the first to admit I bash players on other teams in all of sports. I'll yell things like you suck, just go away and leave us all alone stuff like that. Stuff like that is supposed to be all in good fun, or at least I hope it is.  Bringing in race to ripping into a player is not good natured fun, its disgusting and has no place in sports or the rest of the world for that matter.

I will give Mookie Betts all the credit in the world for taking a stand and getting Boston to rally against this type of stuff. It worked, because Jones got a standing ovation during his first at bat in the game between the two teams on Tuesday. That goes to show that there are good still left in the world, and what happened on Monday should be a reflection on all of the city of Boston, just an idiotic few.

Now for the other bizzaro story from this series. Tuesday night, Chris Sale, one of the best control pitchers in the game, threw behind Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado. This happened once already after what happened with Mike Napoli getting spiked, on accident, by Machado, last week in a game in Baltimore. Some think this had to do with the spiking, while others feel this was in response to Mookie Betts getting hit on Monday. Whatever the reason, it didn't sit too well with Manny. He let the press around him know he was not happy about the whole situation. The following is an exact quote from Machado after the game, according to the Sporting News:

“That’s stuff that you don’t f— do. But I’m not on that side, not in that organization. They are still thinking about that same slide [into Dustin Pedroia]. I had no intention on hurting anybody and I’m still paying — trying to get hit at. Getting thrown at my f— head, you’re throwing at f— everywhere. It’s f— bulls—. It's f—ing bulls—. I’ve lost respect for that organization, for that coaching staff, for everyone over there. “If you’re going to f—hit me, hit me, go ahead. Don’t let the s— keep f— lingering around and keep trying to f— hit people. It’s f— bulls—. MLB should do something about it. F— pitchers out there with f— balls in their hands throwing 100 mph trying to hit people. I’ve got a f— bat too. I could go up there and crush somebody if I wanted to. But you know what? I’ll get suspended for a year and the pitcher only gets suspended for two games. That’s not cool.”

Think there will be more fuel on this fire as the season goes along. It makes for must see TV that's for sure!