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Pro Baseball | Hot Sports Topics - Part 3

Pro Baseball Archives

He’s No Average Joe… Joe Madden

Before Joe Madden arrived in 2006, the Rays were 518-775 under their first three managers. Since his arrival, and working with perennially one of the lowest team payrolls in baseball, all Joe Maddon has done is make the playoffs three times, win two AL East titles, reach the World Series once, and win TWO AL Manager of the Year awards (2008 and 2011). The 58-year old learned all the tricks of the trade serving in the Angels organization for 31 years, and has been nothing short of a miracle worker with the Rays on their shoestring budget. For all his devotion and success, the Rays front office gave Maddon a $6M, 3-year contract extension last week. But I say the cheap Rays’ brass dropped the ball on Maddon!   Joe Maddon is loved and respected by all those that play for him. Only three other current MLB managers have been…

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Grapefruit League is Ripe for the Picking

I’ve lived in Florida now for almost 25 years, and without a doubt MLB spring training is one of my favorite things about this state. Die-hard baseball fans like me love the rituals of spring training. Legendary Cardinal second baseman Rogers Hornsby once said, “People ask me what I do in the winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” I don’t quite stare out the window, but I certainly do look forward to the first rosters and schedules being posted. Every year like clockwork, full-team workouts start by late February and the 25 or so exhibition games are played throughout the month of March in the Grapefruit League.   It used to be that most of the 30 MLB teams trained in Florida; in fact venues in Tampa, St. Pete, Bradenton, Clearwater, Lakeland and Sarasota have hosted teams for…

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Marlins Bringing a New Ballgame to Miami

Never before has a major league baseball franchise transformed itself so dramatically and so quickly.  Despite twice winning World Championships (1997 and 2003) as wild card entries in the only two times they have made it to the post-season, their band-wagoning fans have simply NOT supported them over 19 years of existence.  Unloading key players after each title season and playing in a football-oriented, open-air stadium has not helped turnstile counts.  Following a dismal 2011, finishing last in the NL Eastern Division at 72-90, the Marlins are overhauling EVERYTHING!   First, they rightfully changed their name from Florida Marlins to the Miami Marlins.  The team never was embraced by the entire state, plus there’s another Florida-based MLB team in St. Pete getting a lot of press these days.  Next, with the new team name, a new logo and uniforms were also unveiled.   A new $515M retractable-dome stadium has been…

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How Many Chances Does Josh Hamilton Deserve?

Josh Hamilton is a “recovering” alcoholic and drug addict.  His never-ending struggle with addictions has certainly been well documented.  Josh Hamilton also  happens to be an extraordinarily talented professional baseball player.  Last Friday, after his second drinking relapse in three years, he very admirably went before the media (taking no questions though) to say he was sorry.  With sunglasses atop backwards hat and without shedding any tears, the 30-year old apologized for letting so many people down that love and support him.  I don’t know or understand the demons that he has to fight everyday of his life, but enough is enough!   The first overall selection in the 1999 MLB draft by the Tampa Bay Rays, he admittedly blew most of his $3.96M signing bonus on booze, drugs, and partying.  Nevertheless, the Rays stood by Josh Hamilton for nearly seven years as he tried to stay clean and sober,…

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The baseball off-season nearly passed before its prized free agent, Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, found a new home. We were hearing Nationals, Dodgers, even the Rangers, but the 27-year old Fielder shocked the baseball world and came home to where his father Cecil had once shined in the early 1990s.  Prince Fielder is now a Detroit Tiger… just like his daddy!  It’s like a “dream come true”! His big daddy blasted 219 home runs and knocked in 678 runs in his very memorable six years with the Tigers, but he wasn’t as large as you might have thought (a svelte 230lbs. over a 6’-3” frame compared to Prince’s surprising 275lbs. overloaded on a 5’-11” fire hydrant-type body). How many more MLB seasons will he be able to endure the rigors and consistently produce? Funny though, just weeks earlier Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski had remarked that “the fit really is…

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Rangers’ President and CEO Nolan Ryan was so impressed with the 25-year old Yu Darvish that his Texas Ranger ballclub “posted” a $51.7M fee just to win his exclusive negotiating rights, then recently signed the so-called “Bob Gibson of Japanese baseball” to a $60M, 6-year contract. Wow!!!! In return for dropping the A-bomb on them, I guess we must have agreed to employ over-priced pitchers from Japan. All-time, a total of 43 Japanese-born players have played at least one MLB game, but come on….plenty of home-grown pitchers can throw 94-95 MPH fastballs for a whole lot less than $111M!  As far as Japonic pitchers go, Hideo Nomo did well for the Dodgers and Red Sox (throwing no-hitters for both), but the over-hyped Daisuke (Dice-K) Matsuzaka never fulfilled Boston’s expectations and the late Hideki Irabu was a total bust for the Yankees (recall that Steinbrenner was so frustrated at one point, he…

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Is Bud Selig Really the Best We Can Do?

I was certainly not shocked, but VERY discouraged, to see that the major league baseball owners voted a two-year contract extension to Commissioner Allan Huber “Bud” Selig this week. Afterall, he was once one of them too (as a former owner of the Milwaukee Brewers prior to his current tenure as MLB Commissioner that began in 1992). This guy makes watching paint dry more exciting to look forward to. He’ll be 80 when this contract expires, and I just hope that’s the end of the road for this deadbeat. It’s unfortunate that the owners have made Bud Selig nothing more than a puppet, and history will certainly not look favorably on him given some of the fiascos under his watch (e.g., All-Star game tie, steriod investigation-Mitchell Report, L.A. Dodgers ownership, talks toward further expansion/dilution of talent, and even possibly more teams eligible for the post-season playoffs).   Bring back the…

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Future Baseball Hall of Fame Members

I look forward to the annual baseball Hall of Fame elections each January more than any other sports Hall of Fame voting.   Very enjoyable to see Barry Larkin (statistics) get voted in this past week on his third try, capturing 86% of vote (75% minimum required to get in). The 12-time All-Star was the first 30-30 infielder, and was the standard at shortstop for his 19-year career….all with the Reds.   Perhaps Jack Morris, Lee Smith, Jeff Bagwell, and Tim Raines will get voted in soon….they’re getting close and improving each year. Over the next 5 years, voters will have the usual slate of no-brainers the baseball hall of fame (Biggio next year, Maddux, Glavine, and Frank Thomas in 2014; Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez in 2015; and Ken Griffey in 2016). However, next year will begin the era when known or highly-suspected steriod users will begin to populate the ballot…

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