Tag Archives: @Phl_inphielder

THE KINGS OF THE NO-HITTER

This afternoon at Marlins Park in Miami a low profile noontime contest between the Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals almost made history.  For seven and a third innings Nats’ starter Max Scherzer held the Fish hitless.  His dominant performance showed no sign of being stopped either.  Marlins catcher A.J. Ellis was the first Marlin to touch Scherzer .  With one out in the eighth, Ellis hit a ground ball that deflected off of the Washington hurler toward shortstop Trea Turner.  Ellis would beat out the infield hit and end the no-hit bid.  The Marlins would go on to win the game by the score of 2-1.

You may be asking why a no-hit bid that was broken up by an infield single (and became a loss for Scherzer) was targeted for the record books.  Scherzer pitched two no-hitters back in 2015. If he would have gotten the last five Marlins without a hit, the Nationals’ hurler would have joined some elite company.

Image result for max scherzer

Max Scherzer came within five outs of his third career no-hitter today.

Only five pitchers in Major League Baseball history have three or more of these gems to their credit.  Larry Corcoran, who pitched in the 1880’s for a Chicago team that predated the Cubs and White Sox, was the first to pitch three no-hitters.  Cy Young and Bob Feller also authored no-hitters three times in their careers. Corcoran, Young, and Feller all have plaques in Cooperstown.

Image result for Bob Feller

Bob Feller threw three no-hitters in his Hall of Fame career.

The other two pitchers that hit the three no-hitter plateau went on to do it again.  Sandy Koufax threw four of them, including a perfect game.  The all-time career no-hitter king is Nolan Ryan with an amazing seven of them!

Image result for nolan ryan

Nolan Ryan pitched seven career no-hitters.

Marlins Park has already been the site of one no-hitter this year.  On June 3rd, Miami’s Edinson Volquez no-hit the Arizona Diamondbacks.  That’s the beauty of the game of baseball, where else can history be made on a Wednesday afternoon in the middle of the season?

A FATHER’S RITE OF PASSAGE

Given the fact that we will be celebrating Father’s Day this coming Sunday, I decided to reflect on how baseball has affected me, both as a son and a father.  There is no sport that bonds a father with his family together like baseball.  Hockey and football have that high energy “rah, rah” mentality and basketball has its showmanship an individual theatrics.  Baseball, however, has that slow pace and lends itself to conversation during the game.  There is the drama of anticipation, there is the thrill of a home run, the circus catch (as former Mets voice Lindsay Nelson use to call them) and the stolen base.  It is also the sport where a child can ask his or her dad a question about the game or about its history.

Baseball is handed down from generation to generation, mostly by dads to their children. In my family there is the tale of three generations and five different teams.

Image result for ebbets field

Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, NY.  Where my father spent much of his childhood watching his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers.  This iconic ballpark was demolished before I was born.

 

My father grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and as most of the borough during his childhood he was a die-hard Dodgers fan.  He spent quite a bit of his childhood years at Ebbets Field cheering  on his beloved Dodgers.  This is where he learned the grand old game.  He never forgave the Dodgers for leaving Brooklyn for Los Angeles.

The Dodgers and Giants have a storied rivalry that began in New York City and continues to this day in California.  My father in law grew up in Manhattan and rooted for the Giants at the Polo Grounds.  As a result, my wife was exposed to the other side of the war between the boroughs.

The common ground that came out of the Dodgers-Giants rivalry was the fact that both fathers handed the game down to my generation rooting for New York’s new team.

Image result for ebbets field

Shea Stadium in Flushing, NY.  Where I learned all about baseball.

The sting of the Dodgers heading to Los Angeles, and the Giants leaving New York for San Francisco following the 1957 season left a void for both fan bases.  New York would be home exclusively to the American League Yankees from 1958-1961. This was little solace to the old National League fans, who frankly, were also rivals to the Yankees.

That all changed in 1962 when the expansion New York Mets took the field for the first time.  Old Dodger fans, like my dad and old Giant fans like my father in law came together to rally around New York’s new National League team.

The expansion Mets became the team of my generation.  Growing up in Queens, becoming a Mets fan was a natural.  Shea Stadium became my school of baseball.  That came courtesy of some fatherly teaching from the old Ebbets Field Bleacher Bum known as Daddy.  The same was true for both of my brothers.  My older brother took a liking to the Yankees, and has since passed his knowledge of the Pinstripes to his son.  That old Giants fan would hand all he knew to my wife and brother-in-law in the same hallowed halls of Shea Stadium.

In 1989 my wife and I relocated to South Florida.  After four years with only having big league baseball during Spring Training, South Florida was awarded an expansion team. As luck would have it, the new Florida Marlins would begin play in the National League in 1993.

Image result for Joe Robbie Stadium for Baseball

The ballpark that has had many names in Miami (currently its Hard Rock Stadium) where I taught my children the game of baseball.

My wife and I passed the torch to our son and daughter during the late 1990’s.  We would spend a couple of nights a year at Marlin games at their original ballpark.  We were season ticket holders for three years following the 2003 World Championship run.

As a father, no baseball season stands out more than the wonderful year of 2003.  My son, Justin and I attended many games together (just us, guys nights out). No night was more magical in that old ballpark then a late September Friday in that wonderful year.  On that night we witnessed history.  The Marlins defeated, oddly enough, the Mets, to clinch the National League Wild Card.  The crowd was in such a frenzy following the game that the ramps from the concourses to the ground were literally shaking.

During the 2003 postseason our family attended games in the Division Series and Championship Series. Additionally, I was in the ballpark along with my wife and Justin for Game 4 of the World Series.  Everyone was watching what they thought was Roger Clemens’ final start.  When Clemens exited the game he received a standing ovation from the fans, the Yankees and the Marlins.  I still get goosebumps recalling my explanation to Justin of what he was witnessing.  “We are saying thank you to a legend”  I told him.

With the birth of my granddaughter this past April, I can’t wait to see my son-in-law pass the game on to her.

I fondly recall going to see the Mets with my brothers, my father, and my grandfather.  I can still hear the arguments between my father and grandfather over who was going to pay for parking.  I cannot wait to join my children and grandchildren at the old ballgame!

I dedicate tonight’s blog to my father, David Karpel who taught me so much about the game of baseball, among many other life lessons.  I also dedicate this article to my daughter Megan, my son-in-law, Matt, my granddaughter Madeline, and lastly my beloved son, Justin who we lost this past February.  You guys are my world!

 

LOOKING BACK AT NOTHING IN BASEBALL

I begin this morning’s blog by re-winding ever so slightly to yesterday afternoon.  While my wife an I were visiting with our daughter and her family (including our beautiful granddaughter), my ESPN App notification went off.  As those of you who get notifications from ESPN can relate to the notification said that Marlins pitcher Edison Volquez had not allowed a hit through six innings.  Honestly, I don’t take these headlines seriously until around the eighth inning.  Sure enough, the notifications kept coming.

On our way home we were listening to the local broadcast of the game.  This is where it got intense.  Volquez faced the minimum 27 Diamondbacks batters, and polished off his first ever no-hitter by striking out the side in the ninth inning.  It was the sixth no-hitter in Marlins franchise history.

I began to really think about what had happened at Marlins Park on this rainy South Florida afternoon.  It was a minor piece of Major League Baseball history, one that will be etched in Marlins team lore forever after.  I started to reflect back at how a no-hitter can be a highlight for any fan base, even if they are at the bottom of the standings.  One game, one gem, and usually by one pitcher.  For that moment, for that day a pitcher is etched in history.

Image result for Edinson Volquez no-hitter

Miami Marlins pitcher Edinson Volquez is mobbed by his teammates following his no-hit shutout of the Arizona Diamondbacks yesterday.

 

The first and only time that I witnessed one of these pitching rarities was on September 6, 2003.  I had witnessed bits and pieces of many no-hitters before then.  I’ve seen the pitcher finish and be mobbed by his teammates and the celebration afterwards.  The only time I witnessed a no-hitter from beginning to end, was from the right field stands at what is now Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.  My family had partial season tickets in the old ballpark, this contest with oddly enough, the Arizona Diamondbacks was on our ticket plan.  My son was working that night, and my wife was unable to go to the game.  I went to the game by myself (which I have been known to do).

Anibal Sanchez took the mound for the then Florida Marlins that night.  I glanced up at the scoreboard after the fourth inning and happened to notice that the D-Backs had not gotten a base hit yet.  I thought to myself, OK it’s only the fourth inning, but it put me in tune to what might be happening.  I don’t remember what inning, or what out it was, but I do remember left fielder Josh Willingham making a diving and sliding catch.  Most no-hitters and perfect games have big plays by the defense, yesterday was no exception.

Willingham’s gem got me even more excited.  I called my wife somewhere in the middle of the game and asked her if she was watching.  I then told her that Sanchez was “pitching a really good game!”  It’s considered bad luck to utter the words “no-hitter” during the game.  The final out that night was a ground ball to Miguel Cabrera at third,  Miggy threw the ball across the diamond to Mike Jacobs at first to complete Sanchez’s history making gem.  The roar of the crowd at the old stadium rivaled that of the night that the Marlins clinched the Wild Card in 2003.  For that brief moment the Marlins and Anibal Sanchez were the story of baseball.

Image result for nolan ryan

Nolan Ryan pitched a record seven no-hitters in his Hall of Fame career.

 

The no-hitter has put many pitchers on the historical map of Major League Baseball, but no hurler says no-hitter more than Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan.  Ryan pitched 7 such gems in his career, spanning both leagues and three teams.  Ryan pitched for the New York Mets early in his career but didn’t throw is firs no-hitter until he was a member of the California Angels.

Image result for don larsen's perfect game

Yankees Don Larsen is embraced by catcher Yogi Berra following the only perfect game in World Series history.

There have been two no-hitters in postseason history.  On October 6, 2010, Roy Halliday of the Philadelphia Phillies pitched a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.  On October 8, 1956, New York Yankees’ pitcher was perfect against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 5 of the World Series.  Perfect games are an even bigger rarity, and a subject for another time.

A baseball season can come and go without a pitcher having a unique day like Edinson Volquez had in Miami yesterday.  Other years can have multiple no-no’s.  To this writer the no-hitter and the perfect game will always be a special achievement.  Congratulations Edinson!

 

A program note….Due to family commitments I will not be publishing a Wednesday Night Baseball blog this week.  See you next Sunday!

WEDNESDAY NIGHT BASEBALL- TAKE ME OUT TO THE BRAWL GAME

In the eighth inning of the Memorial Day game between the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants, Bryce Harper took exception to what he thought was a deliberate attempt by Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland to hit him with a fastball.  Harper charged the mound and threw his batting helmet at the San Francisco hurler.  Both benches emptied as a result, and the brawl was on!  Both players were ejected from the game. Harper was suspended for three games, Strickland will sit for six contests.

Washington’s Bryce Harper charges Giants’ pitcher Hunter Strickland.

 

This latest incident made me reflect and think about some of baseball’s most notable battles.  Here are the three most notable fights in my opinion:

The bout that comes in at number three happened on October 12, 2003.  At historic Fenway Park in Boston, the Yankees and Red Sox intense rivalry turned ugly.  It happened during Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.  The Yankees erased a 2-0 first inning Red Sox lead with two second inning runs and a Hideki Matsui homer in the third. In the top of the fourth, Boston pitcher Pedro Martinez took out his frustrations on New York’s Karim Garcia.  After taking his base, Garcia would run into Red Sox second baseman Todd Walker to break up a potential double play.  Manny Ramirez would lead off the bottom of the fourth.  Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens threw a pitch that came in high and tight on Ramirez.  Manny took exception to this and charged at Clemens.  Both benches emptied and the fight was on!  The most memorable moment of this melee occurred when Pedro Martinez decked Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer!  The 72-year-old coach had  charged at the Red Sox pitcher in the heat of the battle.

Image result for Pedro Martinez decks Don Zimmer

Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez takes down New York Yankees 72-year-old bench coach Don Zimmer.

The Martinez-Zimmer bout seemed to be a big mismatch, but the scuffle that I rate at number two was almost as lopsided.  This one also involves a team from the Big Apple in Game 3 of a League Championship Series.

It happened on October 8, 1973, in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the National League Championship Series at New York’s Shea Stadium.  Cincinnati Reds’ baserunner (one well built baserunner) Pete Rose slid hard into second base and attempted to take out a much smaller Mets shortstop in Bud Harrelson.  Harrelson may have been a little on the small side compared to the mammoth Rose, but Bud was no pushover.  He yelled at the Cincinnati baserunner that it was “a cheap shot” since he came in a bit high after the slide into second base.  Words were exchanged, punches were thrown and history was made.  As Rose took his position in left field in the bottom of the inning he was pelted with batteries and other debris by the Flushing Faithful.  Reds manager Sparky Anderson threatened to pull his team off the field as a result.  Mets icons Tom Seaver, Willie Mays, and Yogi Berra physically went out to left field to appeal for order to be restored.

Image result for Pete Rose fights Bud Harrelson

The battle of 1973 between Pete Rose and Bud Harrelson.

The top melee on my countdown involves an old New York City rivalry that headed west in 1958.  The Dodgers and, to come full circle in this article, the Giants, have been bitter rivals since the days of Brooklyn vs. Manhattan.  The intensity of this rivalry has not waned since the Dodgers left Brooklyn for Los Angeles and the Giants bolted from Manhattan for San Francisco.

Things boiled over at  Candlestick Park in San Francisco on August 22, 1965.  Future Hall of Famer’s Juan Marichal and Sandy Koufax were to hook up in a key late season game. The pitching matchup ended up taking a back seat to the headlines.

Marichal was famous for pitching inside through most of his career.  He was in rare form on this day, so much so that Dodgers’ catcher Johnny Roseboro took exception to it.  With Marichal at the plate in the third inning, Koufax threw a ball inside that Roseboro dropped.  After picking the ball up, the LA catcher threw the ball back to the pitcher. Here’s the key though, the ball whizzed by the Giants’ hurler’s ear.  Years later Roseboro would admit to doing in on purpose.  Marichal would contest that the ball grazed him.

 

Image result for Juan Marichal and Johnny Roseboro fight

Giants pitcher Juan Marichal hits Dodgers catcher Johnny Roseboro with a bat.

Marichal turned around and confronted Roseboro, words were exchanged and in the ugliest incident in Major League Baseball history, Marichal struck Roseboro with his bat.

Much like take out slides and home plate collisions, pitchers and batters will always battle.  These battles will always flare up from time to time.  That’s basebrawl!

WEDNESDAY NIGHT BASEBALL-OBSERVATIONS APPROACHING MEMORIAL DAY

As we approach the Memorial Day weekend, and the two month benchmark of the Major League season, there have been some interesting developments in Major League Baseball.

In New York, the boys from Queens were supposed to be the story this year. This proved to be just the opposite in the early going.  The Yankees find themselves atop the American League East with a two game lead over the Baltimore Orioles.  The Mets however are in third place and currently five games under .500.  By the way, they find themselves behind the Atlanta Braves who are surprisingly in second (albeit with a 20-23 mark),

The Washington Nationals appear to be running away with the National League East.  They currently hold a 6 1/2 game lead over the Braves.

 

Image result for Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals lead the National League East by 6 1/2 games.

 

The Nationals first place position was expected when the season began.  The other two divisions in the National League have surprising leaders.  The defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs currently find themselves in third place, one percentage point behind the second place St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.  The team on top as of this writing are the Milwaukee Brewers.  The Brew Crew leads the Cards and Cubs by 1 game.

While the Brewers are the surprise in the Central Division, the leaders in the West is a total shock to this writer.  Where did the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks come from?  The Rockies currently own the best record in the National League at 30-17, the Diamondbacks sit two games behind them.  The disappointment in the NL West has to be the San Francisco Giants.  The Giants, who were supposed to battle the Los Angeles Dodgers for western supremacy are currently in fourth place, 10 games off the pace.

The Houston Astros were favored to win the American League Western Division by most predictors prior to the season.  At 31-15, Houston currently owns the best mark in all of Major League Baseball.

Image result for houston astros

The Houston Astros are off to the best start in baseball.

 

The other division leaders in the American League are both surprises.  The aforementioned Yankees were supposed to be buried behind Baltimore, Toronto, and Boston, yet they lead the East.  The Blue Jays currently reside in the AL East cellar with a 21-26 mark on the heals of a horrible April.

In the American League Central the surprising Minnesota Twins are currently on top.  What’s even more crazy is the fall of the Kansas City Royals.  The 2014 American League Champions, as well as the 2015 World Series Champs currently own the worst record in the Junior Circuit.  My projected World Series Champs, the Cleveland Indians are a game and a half behind the Twins.

Yes, I know it’s not quite Memorial Day, and it’s a long way to October, but it has been an interesting start to the 2017 season.

My questions at this juncture are:

Will the Rockies, Brewers, and Twins keep it up?

Will the Cubs rebound before it’s too late?

Are the Boys from The Bronx on a mission to regain New York?

Only time will tell!  Next progress report will be on Wednesday July 5.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT BASEBALL-WHY CHANGE WHAT WORKS?

For over 160, or so, years baseball had a fairly uniform set of rules.  The game’s popularity steadily rose from the infant days when Abner Doubleday invented America’s Pastime.  The rules hadn’t changed much until recent years and everyone was fine with that set of rules.

The latest controversy took place this past Saturday in St. Louis.  Late in the contest between the Cardinals and Cubs, with Ian Happ on first, Anthony Rizzo hit a ground ball to the infield.  With a shot at a double play the St. Louis infield looked to force Happ at second.  Happ over-slid second with no intent to take out the Cardinals infielder.  The result appeared at first to be a fielder’s choice with Rizzo safe at first.

Let’s flash back for a moment to Game 2 of the 2015 NLDS between the Mets and Dodgers.  Los Angeles’ base-runner Chase Utley was in a similar position that Happ was on Saturday.  Also playing hard-nosed baseball Utley ran into Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada.  The play resulted in Tejada leaving the field on a stretcher with a broken leg.

Image result for 2015 NLDS dirty slide

Dodgers’ Chase Utley over-slides second base to break up a double play in Game 2 of the 2015 National League Division Series.

 

In Little League and other levels of baseball, kids are taught to play hard and play classy. It is the responsibility of the base-runner to try to keep the infield from turning a double play in this situation.  That was how everyone was taught, that was the way the game was played. Until Ruben Tejada was an unfortunate casualty of hard-nose baseball on a national post-season stage.

Fast forward to this past Saturday.  If Happ, who was safe at second before the slide is allowed to play the way he was taught, the Cubs would have had runners on first and second.  The Cardinals lead at the time 5-3.  But alas, we are in a baseball world today where you cannot bump anyone and we need to play a handshake version of the game. Both Happ and Rizzo were called out on the play due to the new rule set in place as a result of the collision between Utley and Tejada.  St. Louis would hold on to the two run lead and win the game.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon and starting pitcher Jon Lester were very critical of the call after the game.  ” I’m over it. I mean there was nothing malicious about that slide. He slid three inches past the bag, and we got a double play. But I’m over the rule” said Lester.  “The rule was meant for guys doing dirty slides, sliding late, taking guys out. There was nothing wrong with that slide, whatsoever. We got a double play for it, cost us a run. … I’m over it. This game was meant to be played a certain way. There’s nothing wrong with that slide that Happ did. I told him in the dugout, Next time you do the exact same thing.” Lester continued.

Maddon commented,”when you’re sliding on dirt, and you have momentum, you just keep going. You keep going,” Maddon said. “The rule does not belong in the game. … I could not disagree more with the spirit of this rule. … They (the umpires) know that the game was not intended to be manipulated in a sense where you lose based on a fabrication.”

In 2011 a controversy along the same lines happened when Florida Marlins’ Scott Cousins ran into San Francisco Giants’ Buster Posey while Posey was blocking home plate.  Posey was doing what he was taught to do, so was Cousins.  Posey also suffered a broken leg as a result of the play.

Why is baseball at such a juncture where the rules are changed due to unfortunate injuries?  Injuries are part of the game!  Collisions are part of the game!  Lets leave what has worked for over 160 years alone!

WEDNESDAY NIGHT BASEBALL-THE NIGHT OF THE CYCLE AND THE LEAP

The game of baseball is unique compared to other professional sports given the fact that there aren’t many breaks in the schedule.  This would mean that on any given day anyone can beat anyone despite their record or place in the standings.  It also means that on any given night something historic or unusual can happen.  Last night we had a piece of history in the lore of the Washington Nationals, and something unusual courtesy of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Image result for trea turner cycle

Nationals’ Trea Turner slides into third for a triple to complete the third cycle in team history.

Last night was an interesting evening at baseball’s version of the Frozen Tundra.  Gametime temperatures were in the low 40’s at Coors Field in Denver, with wind gusts making it feel much colder.  There was a threat of snow and a frozen rain delay during the game between the home standing Colorado Rockies and the Washington Nationals.

The frigid air made for some interesting baseball.  “Coors Field at it’s finest” Nats manager Dusty Baker told the Washington Post.  Washington would score the first seven runs of the game, the Rockies would score the last seven.  The result was a Nationals 15-12 victory.

But the score and the conditions weren’t what made last night historic.  Nationals shortstop Trea Turner drove in seven runs, Daniel Murphy knocked in five.  Turner’s RBI total placed him in a second place tie  for the most in a single game in Washington’s history.  That still isn’t the historic significance of this night.  In addition to his RBI explosion, Turner hit for the cycle.  He becomes the third player in the team’s history to accomplish the feat, Cristian Guzman and Brad Wilkerson are the other two.  Bench coach Chris Speier also hit for the cycle as a member of the Montreal Expos who are the current day Nats.

Now let’s move on to the unusual.

Image result for chris coghlan dive

Blue Jays Chris Coghlan leaps over Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina to give Toronto a 3-2 lead.

In a 2-2 ballgame at Busch Stadium in St. Louis last night, Toronto Blue Jays center-fielder Kevin Pillar hit a screaming fly ball into right field.  Chris Coghlan, who entered the game as a pinch hitter was on first.  Coghlan came all the way around on the play and was heading for a collision with Cards catcher Yadier Molina.  What happened next was absolutely amazing!  Rather than try to jar the ball loose from Molina, Coghlin went airborne!  He leaped over the St. Louis catcher and flipped his way onto home plate to give the Jays a 3-2 lead.

The game would go eleven innings, resulting in a 6-5 Toronto victory.  Without a doubt, Chris Coghlan gets this week’s play of the week, and could be a finalist for play of the year!

Finally, I need to be old school for a moment.  On the heels of Trea Turner’s cycle last night I have to turn my attention to another exciting rarity, the no-hitter.  To me there is nothing more exciting in baseball than watching a pitcher go deep in a game without either allowing a baserunner or giving up a hit.

With the focus on pitch counts in today’s game I’m really concerned that a complete no hit ballgame may be on its way to extinction.  Locally I have seen this happen twice. Marlins pitchers Dan Straily and Wei Yin Chen both had no-no’s in progress when they were taken out because they had reached their pitching limit.  C’mon, really??? What would have happened if Turner was pulled because he had too many at-bats last night?  If a pitcher has something special going, let him try to finish it!

Time for a program note.  After tonight’s blog, Wednesday Night Baseball will be on hiatus and will return on Wednesday night May 17.  This will allow me some time to spend with my new granddaughter as well as my daughter and son-in-law.  The Sunday blog will publish as usual this weekend.

 

WEDNESDAY NIGHT BASEBALL-ON THURSDAY!

I would like to begin tonight’s blog with an explanation of why Wednesday Night Baseball is being published on Thursday this week.

At 4:57 Eastern Time yesterday afternoon my daughter gave birth to a 7 pound 8 ounce baby girl!  I am pleased, and thrilled, to announce the arrival of Madeline Grace Beauchamp into this world!  She is the first-born to my daughter and son and law.  She is also our first grandchild!  Mom, dad, grandparents, great grandparents and baby are all doing fine!

Now on to some baseball.

I want to start out by discussing the suspension of Pittsburgh Pirates star Starling Marte.   The Buccos star outfielder was given an 80 game suspension for testing positive for PED use.  The Pirates were planning on holding a Marte jersey giveaway on July 2nd, but have canceled it due to the suspension.  The jerseys were supposed to be given to kids.

Pirates outfielder Starling Marte is the latest player to be suspended for half the year over PED use.

 

First off, when will players learn that they will eventually be caught?  Look at the long line of stars that have been  caught over the years.  We all know that Barry Bonds, despite hitting more home runs than any other player in MLB history has been essentially black-balled from the Hall of Fame because of his steroid use.  Same is true for Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire.  It remains to be seen what will happen when Alex Rodriguez is eligible in 2021.  Is it really worth losing half a season and have that black mark on your career?

Secondly, if you are a Pirates fan, and you have a son that idolizes Marte, how do you break the news to him?  How do you tell your son, who might be playing Little League ball that your star idol was caught cheating?  We went through this here in South Florida with Dee Gordon’s 80 game suspension last year.  I honestly don’t know the answer, but it puts the game in such a bad light.

Besides the Marte suspension, the story of the week has to be the New York Yankees.  After beginning the season on a road trip that took them to Tampa Bay and Baltimore the Bombers were 2-4.  The Yankees won the finale in Baltimore, and opened up for business in the Bronx on Monday afternoon.  The Yankees won their first six home games by sweeping three game series’ against the Rays and the Cardinals.  They also won the opener of a weekend series with the White Sox on Friday, before losing on Saturday.  With the road win in Baltimore, the Yanks won eight straight, seven of them at home and finished the homestand 9-1.

Image result for Yankees 9-1 homestand

The New York Yankees go 9-1 on their opening homestand.

 

Following the dramatic turnaround, the boys from the Bronx  are in second place in the American League East.  They trail the first place Orioles by 25 percentage points.

Here’s hoping for an eventful upcoming week in the Majors.  Barring any more births, this proud Grandpa will see you Wednesday!

 

WEDNESDAY NIGHT BASEBALL-GREAT TIMES AT WRIGLEY FIELD

All but one of Major League Baseball’s thirty clubs have now staged their home openers. Sun Trust Park in suburban Atlanta awaits to be christened on Friday night.  Julio Teheran will open the Braves new home against the visiting Padres.

Out of the twenty-nine season premiers that have been staged so far there was one that was over a century in the making.  Before Monday night’s home opener at Wrigley Field, the Cubs held a ceremony for the first time in 108 years!  They raised the World Series Championship flag and paraded the World Series Trophy!

Image result for cubs raising championship banner

Chicago Cubs take turns raising the 2016 World Series Flag at Wrigley Field Monday night.

 

So how do you put the finishing touches on a championship 108 years in the making? Well, the Cubs literally did it themselves!  Members of the squad went into the bleachers and took turns raising the championship banner up the flagpole.  Let it be known for all time that the curse is over, the drought has ended.  The 2016 World Series Championship banner now hangs amid the iconic scoreboard and team flags.  The W’s and L’s for years to come will hang in the shadow of the biggest Cubs flag of them all.

Oh and by the way, the Cubs hosted the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday night.  Yes, the same Dodgers that were on the wrong end of history last October, when the Cubs headed back to the Series for the first time since 1945.

How did things end on this magical night on the Near North Side of Chicago?  It ended with a walk-off single, courtesy of Anthony Rizzo!  It ended with a 3-2 Cubs win!  It ended with the “W” flag hanging next to what is now its big brother!

The Cubs will receive their championship rings tonight.

Besides the heroics at the Friendly Confines, there were other highlights during the first week and a half of the 2017 season.  New York Mets left-fielder Yoenis Cespedes launched three home runs last night in Philadelphia.  The Mets tallied 20 total hits in a 14-4 route of the Phillies.

The Phillies had an explosion of their own on Saturday night against Washington.  Philadelphia erupted for twelve runs in the bottom of the first inning on their way to a 17-3 victory.

Image result for Christian Yelich catch vs Mets

This week’s defensive gem belongs to Miami’s center-fielder Christian Yelich.

 

On Saturday night at Citi Field in New York, Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich robbed Cespedes of what would’ve been either a home run or a double.  This is my defensive gem of the week.  Miami defeated the home standing Mets 8-1.

That’s it for this week.  I’ll be back next Wednesday for more!

IT’S BASEBALL SEASON! PART II

Since I last left you, all thirty Major League teams have opened their season.  Yes, the rite of every April has come to pass for half the league.  Over the next week and a half those who began play on the road will celebrate their home openers.  Then we will have the grand old game every day until October, and then most nights until early November.

Sunday was the American League’s preview, tonight it’s the Senior Circuit’s turn.

Pitching is going to be the theme in the National League East.  The Washington Nationals boast arguably two of the best individual arms in the game with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.  The Mets might have the best starting rotation in Majors.  Noah Syndergaard leads the rotation, followed by fellow long-haired stud Jacob deGrom.  Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler follow behind the long blonde tandem.  The big question mark in Flushing is the elbow injury to Steven Matz.  For now, Robert Gsellman will take Matz’s spot in the rotation.

The Mets biggest off-season moves are the players they kept.  Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker were both re-signed.  As for the Nats, Adam Eaton was the big addition, Wilson Ramos, the most notable loss.

In Miami the biggest and most stinging loss has to be Jose Fernandez.  Not only the devastating loss of a player, but the loss of an energetic leader and the face of the franchise.  The big question in Little Havana is will this team, and franchise for that matter, rebound after the tragedy at the end of last year?

The Marlins decided to fill the void left by Fernandez’ death by building a communal pitching staff.  Edinson Volquez, who was acquired as a free agent was the Opening Day starter.

The sleeper in this division could very well be the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Phils are stocked with a lot of young talent that might not know they’re supposed to lose.  The only attraction in Atlanta this year will be its new billion dollar ballpark.

Image result for cubs w flag

After 108 long years the ultimate “W” flag will fly over Wrigley Field!

In the Central Division, the big question is can the Cubs, fresh off their first championship in 108 years, repeat as champs?  Two main pieces of the championship puzzle have gone elsewhere.  Closer Aldoris Chapman decided to return to the Bronx, and centerfielder (and leadoff man) Dexter Fowler went to the dark side in St. Louis.  Former Royal Wade Davis joins the pitching staff, and former rival John Jay looks to replace Fowler in center.

The Cardinals’ pickup of Dexter Fowler and the loss of Matt Holliday were their two most significant changes.  There weren’t any major moves in Pittsburgh or Milwaukee. In Cincinnati, The Reds continue to be in full-out rebuilding mode.

Out west last year the Dodgers and Giants battled into the final days of the season.  The Dodgers really didn’t make any major moves.  The Giants added closer Mark Melancon, and parted ways with Angel Pagan.

The rest of the division, is just that.  The rest.  It’s going to be a two-horse race in the National League West.  The Padres, Rockies, and Diamondbacks are all in rebuilding mode.

So now it’s prediction time!

Eastern Division:

New York Mets

Washington

Miami

Philadelphia

Atlanta

 

Central Division:

Chicago Cubs

St. Louis

Pittsburgh

Milwaukee

Cincinnati

 

Western Division:

Los Angeles Dodgers

San Francisco

San Diego

Colorado

Arizona

 

Wild Cards will go to Washington and San Francisco.

National League Champions:  Los Angeles Dodgers

World Series Champions:  Cleveland Indians!

Yes, folks I’m putting it on the line.  Another drought will end!

See you next Wednesday for a wrap up of the opening week of Major League Baseball!