Alternative All-Star Break Events

With the MLB All-Star break upon us, I figured it’d be a good time to share some ideas that I had to make the All-Star break a bit more fun.  The All-star game itself is perfect.  Arguably being the best all-star game across the major sports, with no one really phoning it in or not giving it their all.  Everyone goes out and plays the game.  However, comparing the MLB All-Star break to the NBA’s, the MLB lacks the fun and exciting mini games that the NBA has.  Dunk contest, skills challenge, three-point contest, all these activities make the event more fun and entertaining for all (okay, let’s exclude last year’s).  The MLB does have the Home Run Derby, but that is only one event and fails to include players whose game is not based around power.  So I thought I’d think up some other events that could help include all players and bring more excitement to the event.

 

Bunting Challenge: Okay this one may sound boring, but stick with me here.  It would be a great way to reward and test players on their skills in situations like this.  Down each line, you have different zones worth different points.  Intervals of 1, 3, and 5, should work.  If they bunt it foul, or miss the zones, they get an out.  Just like in a real game, three outs and your turn is over.  Although bunting may not be the most exciting aspect of the game, I think this event could still be an exciting one.  And since many pitchers are used in sacrifice situations, they would be able to participate in this event.MLB: Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees

Possible Players:

Elvis Andrus

Delino DeShields

Alcides Escobar

Brett Gardner

Ichiro Suzuki

Julio Teheran

Edinson Volquez

Gio Gonzalez

 

Beat The Shift: The debate over whether the flurry of defensive shifts over the years has helped or hurt baseball is still very prevalent.  In light of this debate, a good potential activity is Beat The Shift.  The goal of the game is to hit it where they’re not.  A defensive shift like the one below would be put on and the goal of the hitter is to hit it (for a base hit) through the hole in the defense.shifts2  Home runs will not count as anything.  There will be actual fielders to make the plays, so there will be a competent team out there on the field trying to stop the hitter.  You could potentially have a defensive point system in place as an incentive for the fielders to try their best.  Perhaps even have the other hitters pick out their own team of fielders and for every stop they get in the outfield, their team gets a point.  This would keep the hitters for just swinging for the warning track.  Depending on how it all goes, I figure giving the hitter 7-10 outs is fair.  

Potential Players:

Brian McCann

Carlos Beltran

Chase Headley

Mike Napoli

Brandon Belt

Curtis Granderson

Matt Wieters

Eric Thames

 

Robbery: A contest to see who can rob the most home runs would be an exciting spectacle to watch.  Each player gets as many tries as possible, but if they miss, they receive a strike.  Five strikes and you’re done.  This would keep it fast-paced, but still give them room for error.  Robbing home runs is one of the most exciting plays in all of baseball.  Everyone loves to see a player scale the wall and haul it in.  Players who thrive in the defensive aspect of the game could finally have a place during the break where they could show off their skills.  Defense is an important aspect of the game and continues to get lost and forgotten about in an age of baseball that demands the long ball. Mike Trout 

Potential Players:

Mike Trout

Kevin Kiermaier

Adam Jones

Mookie Betts

Bryce Harper

Andrew McCutchen

Billy Hamilton

Christian Yelich

 

Retired All-Star Game: This one is fairly self-explanatory.  Basically, you take former all-stars, preferably ones that retired recently and can still play, and hold an all-star game for them.  There is an old-timer’s game held every year, but you could potentially hold another one during the All-Star break.  Also this one would be treated like an actual game.  No softball, no lobbing, just real, competitive baseball.  This is why it would be preferable to get recently retired players, that way, they’d still be able to move and throw.  Risk of injury would only increase as the age grows.  Fans would love to watch their old favorites get back out there and play.  It would provide a great nostalgic vibe to the break.New York Yankees v Seattle Mariners

Potential Players:

Literally any of your favorite recent retirees

 

Pitchers Home Run Derby: Last, but certainly not least, my favorite idea.  In recent years, pitchers have spoken up about wanting to compete in the Home Run Derby, so why not give them what they want?  Fans and players would get an absolute kick out of watching the pitchers swing for the fences.  Also it wouldn’t mess up their swing, which is a concern during the actual Home Run Derby, because these pitcher’s swing is already messed up.  It’s a win-win for everyone!21pitchers-master1050

Potential Players:

Madison Bumgarner

Johnny Cueto

Jake Arrieta

Zack Greinke

C.C. Sabathia

Bartolo Colon

Marcus Stroman

Trevor Bauer (Those Batting Stances??)

 

Invisible Force Fields: A Legitimate Strategy?

Every team in baseball looks for ways to help give their team an advantage when out on the field.  Any slight advantage could be the difference between a win and a loss.  In past years, pitchers have taken this philosophy to such great lengths that they would conceal pine tar, vaseline, or any other sort of substance to help them get a better grip on the baseball or to get the ball to move more effectively.  Because this method goes against the rules of baseball, however, teams looked to more “legal” approaches.

A big thing that teams do is design a ballpark that helps fit their style of play.  Colorado’s stadium is high up in the air, allowing the ball to fly out of the ballpark easier, so the Rockies play a more power-based game.  The Yankees have that short porch in right field, so they stock their lineup with left-handed hitters who can easily pull that ball down the line into the bleachers.  The Phillies have…an invisible force field?

Sitting in last place in their division and sporting the worst record in the MLB, the Philadelphia Phillies realized that something needed to change.  Despite being in a “rebuilding year”,odubel-herrera_kveivilgy5le129lorfd7fjmo Phillies ownership must have gotten tired of losing so terribly.  Even for a team rebuilding they have played exceptionally poorly.  With a run differential of -98 and a total of 104 home runs given up (7th most in the league), the Phillies needed something to help keep the ball in the ballpark.  A simple solution would be to trade for better pitching, but the Phillies are rebuilding.  There would be no sense in trading away prospects just to get some better pitching for the present day.  They’re planning for the future, not right now.  Another idea would be to move the fences back, but they can’t do that midseason.  So what other choice did the Phillies have but to put in invisible force fields to keep the ball from going out?  It truly is quite the revolutionary and fool-proof plan, the only problem is, it’ll sometimes backfire on you.

During last night’s Cardinals-Phillies game, the force field must have been malfunctioning because the Phillies gave up three home runs to the Cardinals.  Luckily, the Phillies were able to tie the game up at 5 and send it into extras.  But immediately in the tenth, the Cards put across two to give themselves a 7-5 lead going into the bottom of the 10th.  The first batter up for the Phillies in the bottom half of the inning was Andrew Knapp.  With a 3-2 count on him, Knapp hit a long fly ball to right field.  The maintenance workers must have been playing around with the force field generator, trying to get it to work, and accidentally turned it back on because the ball appeared to ricochet off of nothing.  The ball bounced back into play keeping Knapp at first base, preventing the Phillies from coming within one.  Good on the crew for doing their job, but too bad on the timing.  That home run could have been the kickstart the Phil’s offense needed to come back and win.  And that win could have sparked a win streak.  And that win streak could have led to a playoff berth.  And that playoff berth could have led to a playoff run.  And that playoff run could have led to a World Series ring.  How depressing.

So what am I getting at here?  Well that’s a good question Zach.  What I am trying to say is that force field could have cost the Phillies a World Series.  Yes, the intentions of the force field are good, but one must remember that the home team has to deal with it too.  Theoretically, the grounds crew could be instructed to turn it off when the home team is up, but that would be a bit too obvious.   The league would be all over that quicker than Manfred on a game that’s lasted for more than 3 hours.  So I salute the Phillies for their creativity, and hope they can come to a decision as to what they will do with the force field.  As for my opinion on the matter, I say leave it in.  You paid the millions of dollars for the prototype technology, so why spend even more to have it removed?  Just fix the problems with it and you’ll be all set.  No more home runs for anyone.  Hope you guys have learned how to bunt…

I Am The Key to Sean Manaea’s Success

About a week ago, I sat down in front of the T.V. with my dad to watch the New York Yankees take on the Oakland Athletics.  The starting matchup for that game was Masahiro Tanaka for the Yankees, and Sean Manaea for the Oakland Athletics.  Prior to the game beginning, I commented on how every time that I saw Sean Manaea pitched, he would get lit up for seemingly 5+ runs every time, so naturally, I called him trash.  After doing so, Manaea proceeded to throw seven scoreless innings, allowing only four hits, and leading the Athletics to a 4-1 win against the Yankees in New York.  Obviously, I was astounded by the man’s outing, but I immediately wrote it off as a fluke.  “The Yankees must’ve had an off day,” I thought.  Boy was I wrong.

Fast forward to this morning when I woke up to see that Sean Manaea pitched another solid game, this time against the Blue Jays, going six innings with 7 strikeouts, only giving up 4 hits and 2 runs. In fact, since I called Sean Manaea trash, he has gone 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA. 920x1240 It was also at this moment that I realized something; I am the key to Sean Manaea’s success.   Manaea, a career 12-12 starter with an ERA sitting at 3.84 and a WHIP of 1.15, has been nothing special since he arrived to the big leagues.  Prior to the last three games, Manaea was sitting on an ERA of 5.24, but since I called him trash, he has lowered his ERA to a 3.81.   His strikeouts per start have also been consistently higher, never being below 7, showing that he is pitching more effectively, and hitting his spots more accurately in order to get those punch outs.  That can be no coincidence.  There is a direct correlation between my comment and Manaea’s success.  I just wonder how my words could have gone such a long way.

Perhaps Manaea and the Athletics have set up microphones in every household in America in order to fully grasp what the public opinion is of Manaea and upon hearing that some college student from Upstate New York called him trash, Manaea was motivated to pitch better and prove him wrong.  And prove him wrong he has.  Sadly, however, this seems unlikely, due to the cost alone.  Upon a quick search on Amazon, the cheapest microphone I could find was around $7.  Clearly this would be the model the Athletics would go with due to Billy Beane’s famous1337256000000-cached_16 “Moneyball” policy, which is just code for spend as little as possible.  Now to make it easy, let’s assume that Billy Bean puts in 3 microphones per household in America.  That would mean spending $21 per household, excluding tax.  There are roughly 125,820,000 households in America, so you multiply $21 by 125,820,000 and you get a grand total of $2,642,220,000.  I’m no financial expert, but I would have to say that the Oakland Athletics don’t have that kind of money lying around.  Also with that kind of money, the A’s would be able to pay the Los Angeles Dodger’s entire roster nearly 11 times over, so I doubt they’d put that money into spying on every American household when they could instead just get better talent.  But if it wasn’t the work of surveillance, then what was it?

Since I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as a coincidence, there has to be some sort of explanation as to how I was able to influence Mr. Manaea into performing at such an amazing level.   Clearly Oakland would not be able to afford the surveillance equipment needed to spy on every household, thus ruling out that theory.  And I was not at the stadium that day (I have my dad as my witness) so Manaea wasn’t able to hear my comment first hand, either.  So what happened?  Well here is my theory: When I called Sean Manaea trash, the front door opened and in walked my mom.  The sound waves of me calling Manaea trash must have gotten out the door, floated through the air until it got caught in a gust of wind, forcing my comment all the way to Yankee Stadium, where it was able to bounce off of countless fans before it was flung onto the field and picked up by Sean Manaea, who was standing on the mound, awaiting to make his first pitch.  Of course at this point, due to the distance they traveled, my words were merely a murmur, but they were still loud enough for Manaea to hear them and become enraged, motivating him to give it his all to prove whoever would dare say such a thing about him.  I feel as though this is the only explanation and it can be proved oh so easily with science.  I could go into more detail about it, but I wouldn’t want to bore anyone with the details.  If you wish to understand it yourself, simply do a quick google search.  It’s all pretty basic.  seanmanaea1280_saaqsufp_khqvscvz

So there you have it.  I am the reason Sean Manaea has been pitching so well as of late.  It’s all me baby.  You’re welcome Oakland.  You got yourself an ace.  May you ride him all the way to second place.  I know it sounds great, and believe me it really isn’t.  Still puts you a mere 15 games away from being in first.  But at least you can tell your kids your team finished second to the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros.  So you’re welcome.

Weighing the Parity of the MLB vs. NBA

dm_170501_mlb_fantasy_miguel_sano_twins_3bWith the baseball season roughly a third of the way through, it’s a good time to stop and appreciate how beautifully unpredictable the sport of baseball is.  So many teams are performing better than expected, and worse than expected.  The Twins and Brewers are in first, while the Royals and Pirates lie in last.  Aaron Hicks and Ryan Zimmerman are having great years, while Rougned Odor and Andrew McCutchen struggle to get going.  The league year in and year out features surprise performances (and disappointments) that keep the league entertaining and filled with uncertainty.  Uncertainty that makes it nearly impossible to anticipate who the World Series champion will be.

The NBA, meanwhile, is about to enter the third straight final featuring the Cavaliers and Warriors.  The last seven finals have featured a LeBron James team and have seen only four different winners.  Four different winners doesn’t seem too bad, but when it becomes so easy to predict who is going to be in the finals, it makes the entire season feel boring and pointless.  Take this year for example, since preseason, everyone knew it was going to be Warriors vs. Cavaliers.Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game One  Hardly anyone predicted otherwise.  Now I love a good LePerformance from LeKing in Lefinals as much as the next guy, but I do miss the mystery of it all like you get with baseball.  I felt like it wasn’t even necessary to watch any of the playoffs (still did) because I knew what the outcomes were going to be.  The only real interesting series was the Boston vs. Washington one.  I know it’s not possible, but if every series was like that one, then I would find the playoffs to be much more fulfilling.  It just sucks for the great players out there whose ceiling is losing either to LeBron or Curry.  So many great players miss out on a chance at a ring because of these two great talents and their phenomenal teams.  Yet so many people argue that a player isn’t elite if they don’t have any rings, like the way Shaq does towards Barkley.  But Barkley had to go up against some insane teams like the Pistons and the Bulls, so can you really blame him for not having any?  

Basketball is filled with dynasties and when one dies another one just rises in it’s place.   And with the way things are shaping up in recent years, it doesn’t seem like anything is going to really change.  The Warriors and Cavaliers just keep building their rosters with no other team really looking to stand in their ways.  Even if a team was able to put together a roster to take down the Warriors or Cavs, they would just take the place of the giant they conquered.  There seems to be no stopping dynasties and while I don’t mind seeing great teams, I wish there was a bit more competition against them.

Baseball, on the other hand, has been a bit more balanced.  Yes, we’ve seen the Giants win three in the past six years, but they had even year voodoo working with them that wasn’t broken until last year (Thanks Cubs).  And yes, the Yankees have won 27 in their mlb_a_yankeeswin2_576history, but they’ve been around for over a hundred years, and in recent years, the playing field has been very equal, seeing them win only two since 2000.  Different teams have made appearances in the playoffs and the World Series.  MLB playoffs in the recent years have proved to be a lot more exciting and unpredictable than the NBA’s.  Every team is beatable.  There are no juggernauts going into the playoffs that everyone knows is going to go all the way.  And like we saw with the Kansas City Royals in 2014, underdog teams are capable of making runs all the way to the championship.  But does baseball actually have more parity than the NBA?mlb_g_royals-celebration01jr_668x376

First, let’s look at the playoff lineups since the 2010.  The NBA has featured 28 different teams (Sorry Sacramento and Minnesota) and the MLB has featured 25.  But the MLB hasn’t had their 2017 playoffs yet, while the NBA has.  Also, the NBA has 16 teams make the playoffs each year, while the MLB has 10.  The NBA finals has featured eight different teams with six different champions, while the World Series has featured nine different teams with five different champions.  From the looks of these stats, it appears that they’re relatively even.  So why is this a discussion?

It is a discussion because I do not believe that the stats tell the entire story.  I’ve never been a big fan of statistics.  I do look at them and take them into account, but I do not dive as deeply into them as others.  I believe there are certain aspects of life and sports that stats cannot explain.  When it comes to the MLB and NBA playoffs, it simply feels like there is more competition in the MLB playoffs.  There is more uncertainty due to the nature of baseball.  There is room for more upsets because the game always comes down to a one on one situation; the pitcher vs. the batter.  If one makes a mistake, the other can prevail.  There’s nine players out there as opposed to five in basketball.  Due to this, one player in basketball is able to have a larger effect on the game, like LeBron James, who has proven that time and time again.  In baseball, one player can only affect the game so much.  A baseball team needs to be all-around solid in order to see success, while in many cases, an NBA team can ride on one or two great players.  The NBA and MLB are different breeds, so maybe it is only logical that baseball seems to have more parity than basketball.  

Overall I think the NBA has a relatively decent amount of parity, but it just appears to not.  Perhaps basketball is simply more predictable than baseball because in most situations, the best team will win unlike in baseball, which sees a larger number of upsets.  Is this a bad thing?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I personally enjoy unpredictability in sports, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying this LeDynasty.  I suppose basketball is setup to have dynasties, it appears to be only natural.  I am worried, however, on the future of the game.  In the past, NBA dynasties were birthed, while these days the NBA appears to be headed in a direction where dynasties are created.25warriors-web-master768  The Warriors and Cavaliers are fortifying their teams and are going to hold this league hostage for years.  It would be nice to enter a season for once without knowing who is going to be in the finals, but I suppose that is not going to happen for a few years at least.  At least basketball dynasties aren’t as bad as they are in football (Looking at you Tom Brady) but I do wish basketball was more like baseball and had more mystery and uncertainty, but I am not sure what it would take to stop the formation of super teams.  Would eliminating the salary cap do it?  Or would that only make matters worse?  Who knows.  And who knows if any change will come, but for now I’ll just enjoy the LeDynasty and the Warriors battle it out in the coming week.

Yankee Ticket Troubles

enhancements-1_990x624_home-platecThis past week, the New York Yankees, despite being a first place team with great success so far this year, announced that they were having trouble selling tickets this year.  They claimed that they were unsure as to why exactly this was, but alluded to it being due to a lack of interest from the younger generations.  The Yankees wish to find a way to reach that market and appeal to them. In what seemed to be an attempt to do so, they introduced the “Judge’s Chambers” a place where a small group of fans are selected to sit in the designated area named after rookie outfielder, Aaron Judge.  This was supposed to be fun little thing to help get the young fans more interested in the game.  As a young whippersnapper myself, I know exactly what the reasoning is for the lack of interest in Yankee games, not only for the younger generation, but fans of all ages, and it’s not the lack of fun gimmicks like the Judge’s Chambers.  Instead, the answer is much simpler than that:  Make the game cheaper.

The Yankees have always been known as a very prestigious and high-end organization, but as of late, it has become absolutely insane.  The Yankees are pricing out their fans and making it nearly impossible for the everyday fans to go to the games.  The game is now only affordable for those who wish to make an event out of it and not simply go to watch the team play.  Going to Yankee Stadium is almost a status symbol to show how rich you are at this point.  Me, being the poor college student I am, watch my games from my little laptop screen and when they show the fans in the front rows, I hardly see any of them paying attention.  They’re usually on their phones not even paying attention to what’s going on.  They’re there for show, rather than the Yankees.  Those are not the people you want in the front rows.  You want your passionate fans up there who are actually going to enjoy the game in front of them.  But at Yankee Stadium, that’s not going to happen.  

Now tickets like that in the front rows are expensive no matter what ballpark you go to, but it is exponentially higher in Yankee Stadium.  Now I know that Yankee Stadium does offer cheaper tickets for those who cannot afford the floor seats, but those tickets still start at around $20, depending on who’s in town, and even then it still puts you in the upper decks in the way back.  To compare that to other stadiums, I remember my dad, brother, and I went to Cleveland to see two games a few summers ago and we got three tickets for about $30 each and that put us only 13 rows away from the field.  If you want fans to go to games, make tickets that affordable and maybe they’ll show up.  

Sadly, however, it is not just the ticket prices that are the problem, it is everything about the trip that is expensive as well.  Even if you do purchase a (relatively) cheap ticket at Yankee stadium, your bill could start at upwards of $50 before you even step through the gates.  Parking for Yankee Stadium is an absolute killer, sometimes being up in the $40 range.  poughkeepsie_train_stationNow if you’re like me, a college student at New Paltz, there’s no way in hell you’re driving into the city, so you just drive over to the train station in Poughkeepsie and take the train into New York and avoid the parking fees.  But that train round trip is just about equivalent to the parking fees, so there’s really no difference in pricing there.

So you finally get inside, you’re having a good time, but at some point you’re gonna have to eat.  It’s just tradition.  If you don’t get a beer and a hot dog when you’re at the stadium then what the hell are you doing?  You don’t belong there.  So you get in line, get your food and drink, and all you bought was a beer and a hot dog, yet you’re looking at a bill over $20.  That’s just absolute robbery.  I can go to my local pizza place and buy a pitcher of beer for $4.  There’s no reason to make your prices that outlandish.  I’m sure you make enough money as it is.54f93018536f8_-_yankees-nathans-hot-dog-6sfqac-xl

These next grievances are a bit off topic due to the fact that they have nothing to do with money, but they still have to do with getting people interested in going to the games.  I just wanted to address it while I’m on the subject because I don’t know when else I would be able to.  Yankee Stadium has the reputation of being sticklers when it comes to rules and such.  When at Yankee Stadium, it is nearly impossible to stop and stand anywhere.  Even if you stop for a few moments, a security guard is bound to come up to you and tell you to keep moving. It’s a good policy for keeping foot traffic moving, but it takes away the ability to stop and take in the stadium.  Sometimes I just want to enjoy a view of the stadium from a location different from my seat, but that is just simply impossible at Yankee Stadium.  At other stadiums there is plenty of room to stop and look on, but not at Yankee Stadium.  

Another rule they have at Yankee Stadium is they do not allow people to move down.  I understand this if people are taking people’s seats, but for the most part, they’re not.  And if they are, the people whose seats they are simply show them their tickets, and the people will move.  Problem solved.  I do not understand letting people enjoy seats that aren’t being used.  Not only will it please the fans, but it will also make the stadium appear fuller, thus influencing people to come out to more games, seeing it as a hot commodity, and will also bring more advertisers in because they notice that more people will be able to see their ads.  No one loses by letting people move up.  Even if they still don’t want people to move up right away due to monetary reasons, they could at least allow it after say the 5th inning or so, that way people don’t take advantage of seats that they did not pay for.

Everything that has to do with going to a Yankee game is expensive.  There is simply no way to avoid the high prices of the game, making it very difficult for your everyday fan to go to a game.  The only aspect of the game that I give them a pass for is the price of souvenirs because those prices are fairly consistent throughout all Major League stadiums.  When you pair the pricey, well, everything, of Yankee Stadium with the strict rules, the entire event seems unappealing to your everyday fans.  Turning off your everyday fans from going to the games is the biggest mistake you could make when it comes to business.  Everyday fans are the heart and soul of your business, you cannot upset them.  Sadly the Yankees have appeared to do this with their expensive tickets and such.  This has led those fans, like myself, to look to other stadiums to attend games at, or simply not go at all.  If the Yankees are to get the fans back into the stands, they need to make it more affordable for them.prog_top

Who To Root For? 2016 MLB Postseason Edition

With the AL and NL Wildcard games over, the rest of the playoffs are now a little more solid and straightforward.  The AL and NL divisional series are upon us and if your team, like mine, is not in the playoffs, it can be tough to find a team to root for.  So for those struggling to find a reason to root for someone, I’m here to help. With my flawless, absolutely, completely unbiased explanations of who you should root for and why, you’ll be certain to find that special bandwagon.  You’ll find the one that fits you right and then ride that baby straight to the World Series!  So let’s get started.

 

AL TEAMS

 

Why should you root for the Boston Red Sox?

Oh, so I see you like seeing the same teams win the world series year in and year out?  You must also really like the Giants and Cardinals too, eh?  I bet you also hate the Yankees because all they do is “win.”  Well, then the Red Sox are a perfect team for you!  They’ve only won it three times since 2004, and it’s been three years since their last one, that’s practically an eternity.  The same five teams should win it every year and that’s why Boston must win the World Series!  Screw the Cubs, they’ve waited over a hundred years for one, they can wait a hundred more.  Cleveland? Pff, they already got a championship this year, they don’t need another.  Boston needs them all,  or at least share them with the Giants and Cardinals, they need more championships too.  Every other year for the Giants just isn’t enough.  And don’t get me started as to how good of a role model David Ortiz.  So nice, calm and genuine.  He would NEVER do anything bad like roids like that damn A-Rod.  What’s that? He’s failed multiple drug tests in his career?  Doesn’t matter, those tests were probably faulty anyways.  A guy like him would never do something like that, he’s too kind.  What’s that? He once bashed the phone in the visitor’s dugout after he got out?  There was probably just a bee on the door and he knew one of his teammates was allergic.  What a guy!  I want to root for a team with his as their leader!Tlumacki_soxvsroyals432.jpg

 

Why should you root for the Cleveland Indians?

If Cleveland wins the World Series the same year as the NBA championship, then the city would completely go berserk.  Every Cleveland fan, all three of them, will have such a nice get together the police may even have to be called to calm them down.  If they win, you won’t even need to hear about Cleveland for at least another sixty years.  They’d be overly satisfied and will just go back to their homes and sit in their houses until it’s been another sixty years since they’ve won.  Then, they’ll crawl back out, make a 30 for 30 film again, repeat the events of 2016, rinse, and repeat.  That sound like a pretty fair deal to me.  Plus, who doesn’t love Francisco Lindor’s infectious smile?  And why not root for debatably the underdog with the best record I’ve ever seen? I mean come on, who doesn’t love a 1st place underdog?  Everyone loves a good oxymoron.Lindor-Mark-Cunningham-Getty-Images.jpg

 

Why should you root for the Texas Rangers?

Do you have an irrational hatred of Canada, and birds that are blue? Do you love crazy left hooks and guns?  Then the Texas Rangers are the team for you!  Most fans are rooting more for an all-out brawl with Toronto, rather than a win.  If you agree with this belief then surely you must root for the Rangers.  Actually, I think this may go without saying that most Americans will be rooting for a fight to break out between the Rangers and Blue Jays, so I guess in a way, we’re all rooting for the Rangers in this fine divisional series.  i.jpeg

 

Why should you root for the Toronto Blue Jays?

Do you have an irrational hatred of America, and the Texas Police/Military? Do you love crazy left hooks and hockey?  Then the Toronto Blue Jays are the team for you!  Most fans are rooting more for an all-out brawl with Texas, rather than a win.  If you agree with this belief then surely you must root for the Blue Jays.  Actually, I think this may go without saying that most Americans will be rooting for a fight to break out between the Rangers and Blue Jays, so I guess in a way, we’re all rooting for the Blue Jays in this fine divisional series.  jose-bautista-bat-flip.jpg

 

NL TEAMS

 

Why should you root for the Chicago Cubs?

Are you tired of the same teams winning year in and year out, while your team is left in the dust?  You must either be a Rays or a Twins fan, meaning hopping on the Cubs bandwagon is right for you!  They’re like your team, only good!  If you’re also tired of hearing Cubs fans say “Oh, we never win.” “Oh, it’s been over a hundred years.” “Oh, my grandma was born and died before they ever won again,” Then rooting for the Cubs is the right move for you as well!  If they win, you won’t have to suffer through those dreaded conversations about the woes of being a Cubs fan.  We may end up with having to suffer through a few years of bragging Cubs fans, but that’s all worth it for an end to the constant complaining.  And if none of this satisfies you either, then you can at least root for those beautiful eyes that Kris Bryant possesses.  Man, I could get lost in those babies for hours…. kris.jpg

 

Why should you root for the Los Angeles Dodgers?

Do you love being the largest market, living in warm weather, and still being a disappointment?  Do you love having the best pitcher in baseball, but the inability to bring him to the World Series?  Or the joy of constantly losing to a bunch of conspiracy theorists? *Cough* Giants *Cough* Then the Dodgers bandwagon is the perfect place for you.  So much history, yet so much disappointment as of late.  Such a wonderful, beautiful combination.  I know I sure would want to be a part of that.  Plus they have had everyone’s dream grandpa as their announcer for the past 67 years.  They’ve got it all, they are truly blessed.  They’ll still blow it, though, don’t you worry.  I mean come on, their ceiling is losing to the Cubs in the championship series, so if you are fond of low expectations, then come join the Dodgers!Clayton-Kershaw.jpg

 

Why should you root for the San Francisco Giants?

Do you enjoy conspiracy theories and the illuminati?  Do you require your TV to be set at an even number volume?  Then the San Francisco Giants are the team for you!  This team lives and breathes conspiracy theories!  How else could you explain them winning the World Series the past three even years in 2014, 2012, and 2010?  And then this year they proved this wild, even number theory by pulling a playoff appearance out of their ass.  They completely fell off the face of the Earth, but they then used their voodoo powers on the Cardinals and Giants, causing them to self-destruct just at the right time, paving the way for themselves to just stride right into the playoffs.  If this just doesn’t warm your heart and make you wonder which Shaman they went to for this unworldly feat, then I guess this just isn’t your team.  But if this is exactly what you were thinking, then welcome to the San Francisco bandwagon, next stop, another even year championship.  I honestly don’t even know why any of the other teams are bothering this year, when the prophecies clearly state that the Giants are going to win.  Pfff, suckers…wasting their time.060915-MLB-SF-Giants-Hunter-Pence-looks-on-during-batting-practice-MM-PI.vresize.1200.675.high.1.jpg

Why should you root for the Washington Nationals?

Do you love our nation’s capital?  With all those cute little monuments, especially the one that looks nothing like George Washington, but is supposedly the “Washington” Monument?  What about constantly knowing in the back of you mind that your star player is going to leave your team for the New York Yankees and get the largest contract ever?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then the Washington Nationals are right for you! A team so good, yet so forgetful that I even forgot to mention them in this article!  How great is that?  You can clearly tell who I WON’T be rooting for, am I right?? The Nationals got all that it takes to make it to the World Series; power, pitching, speed, defense and so much more!  They even got a a garden gnome/caveman/Jesus in the outfield.  If that doesn’t reel you in then what will?635790386449508984-usatsi-8810303

Hope this helped clear up any confusion you may have had.  May the best team win!

A Game To Remember

As I make my way through the crowded dining hall, my body there, but my mind down in Miami, I watch on my phone as the opening ceremonies to tonight’s Mets-Marlins game commence.  My body on autopilot, putting food on my plate whilst my attentions was completely on the game.  This moment was bigger than life, bigger than baseball, bigger than all of us.

Looking around and seeing all of those Fernández jerseys worn by his teammates was quite special to see.  You couldn’t look at one person in that stadium and not see the grief on their faces.  They had lost a teammate, a friend, a brother.  There was so much love and support for Fernández not only in the stadium, but around the baseball world.  People everywhere, including myself, tuning in to mourn and celebrate the life of José Fernández.  

The ceremony was short, yet touching.  Watching the Marlins take the field with heavy hearts was brutal to witness.  The players surrounded the mound and everyone removed their caps as they held a moment of silence for José.  It was gut-wrenching to watch his teammates weep into their hats as they stood out there on the field during the silence and then as “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” began to play.  I’ve never heard such a fun, lighthearted song be played in such an eerie, somber manner.

Afterwards, came the National Anthem, which was sung beautifully by the Carrollton Choir.  Following that, the Mets came out to hug and give their condolences to the Marlins, which was a very beautiful gesture to do.  Seeing two teams put aside their competitive differences to celebrate the life of a wonderful human being.

As a tribute to José, all the Marlins players went to the mound and rubbed dirt onto their pants like José would always do, because he grew up not using a resin bag when he pitched, so he made due and would use dirt from the mound instead.  Some of the players could even be seen writing the number 16 and little messages in the dirt in memory of their fallen teammate.  Then afterwards, they all gathered behind the mound and shared an embrace while Giancarlo Stanton shared a few words with his team.1280_miami_marlins_getty610592258.jpg

What really got to me was watching Giancarlo Stanton warm up in the outfield before the first inning began.  He could hardly fight back the tears as he played catch.  It was nearly unbearable for me to watch without getting choked up.  Seeing a man who I always looked at as one of the biggest and strongest players I’ve seen break down and cry like that was too depressing to bear.  

The game itself was too perfect and too fitting and I loved every moment of it, especially when it came to Dee Gordon’s performance because not only was a Marlins win great, but his performance left us with a perfect tribute to José Fernández.  Dee Gordon to begin with, was one of the players who appeared most affected and distraught by this tragic event.  I really felt for the guy.  He had lost a good friend and it was really taking a toll on him.  Seeing him a day earlier at the mound by himself, looking at the number 16 that was painted onto the mound, in utter disbelief. 610402530.jpg Watching him made me wish I could’ve just given him a hug through the screen.  When he first got up to the plate, he stepped in right-handed, while wearing Fernández’s helmet as a tribute to teammate.  He took the first pitch, for a ball, then switched helmets and sides.  Gordon then found himself in a 2-0 count and proceeded to smack his first home run of the year to the upper deck in right to give the Marlins a quick 1-0 lead.  As he was rounding the bases, I could see him crying the whole way around, bringing tears to my eyes as well.  You simply can’t write this stuff.  As he reached home plate he looked upCtUUzO4WAAAC2yc-dee-gordon-compressor.jpg to the sky, and to José as if to say, “that one’s for you.”  Gordon reached the dugout, where he was greeted by hugs and high fives from his teammates, then proceeded to head into the locker room to have a moment to himself.  

Gordon’s home run was great enough, but he went on to finish the game with four hits and two RBIs to lead the Marlins to a 7-3 victory.  It was more than just a win, though, it was a win for José.

The death of José Fernández was a tragic loss of such a young and talented individual.  I will surely never forget his time here on this Earth and I will certainly not forget this game for it was one of the most emotional games I have ever watched.  Whoever said there was no crying in baseball clearly never experienced something like this.usatsi_9569375.jpg

Rest In Peace, José Fernández

It was truly tragic for me to wake up to the news of the death of José Fernández.  Upon hearing the news, I immediately got up and called my dad to tell him about the news.  He hadn’t heard about it, so it came as quite the shock to him as well.  Fernández was the first hero and inspiration of mine to have died within my lifetime, making this sad news even tougher to take.

José had such a promising career ahead of him, one could tell simply by looking at his stats over the past few years, having such high strikeout numbers, along with never having an ERA above 3.  You could simply tell by looking at him, that this kid was going to be great.  He just had the look of determination in his eyes that said “I’m going to be the best.” And he was one of the best during his time on this earth.  Teams feared facing him every single time out, especially when Fernández was pitching at home, a place he dominated.  What I admire most about Fernández isn’t his baseball abilities, though, it’s his heart and love of life.

Right from the start, his story was touching and inspiring.  José wanted nothing more than to pursue a good life in America, and nothing was going to stop him from getting here.  It took José four tries to escape from Cuba, including three stints in jail.  On the fourth try, he was even willing to dive into dark, cold water to rescue someone who had fallen overboard, unbeknownst to him that it was his own mother.  He had such a big heart and would do anything to help a fellow human being out in a time of need.  He constantly would do things for the kids in the community and loved working with the youth.  An all-around class act who loved the game as much as humanly possible.

Every time out, José would give his all and do it with a smile on his face.  He was always laughing and joking around with everyone, all in all having a good time playing a game that he loved dearly.  His smile was infectious, and you rarely saw him without one on his face.  His antics led to some of my favorite gifs ever.  Moments such as him catching the comeback liner by Troy Tulowitzki, giphyor his celebration after a go-ahead homer by Giancarlo Stanton, are the reasons why I love José Fernández.  He was such a happy, good spirited person who made the game of baseball so fun to watch.  He was a player loved by all of his josefernandeznutsteammates, as well as players around the league.  He had a love for the game that I haven’t seen in a player in a long time.  I wish I could have gotten a chance to watch him pitch in person, but sadly I was not, but I am still honored to have walked the same Earth as someone who had so much love and life in his heart.  

I’m truly going to miss José Fernández.  He was really something special, a player that only comes around once in a lifetime.  It’s tragic that his life was taken from him so soon, tragic that he wasn’t able to show the world what he was really capable of.  He was already a spectacular pitcher, but I knew that this was just the beginning of a long and prosperous career.  It’s a shame that the rest of his career will never be seen.  One can only speculate now as to just how good José Fernández could have been, but that’s not what is truly sad or important about this tragic moment in history.  What is truly important is the fact that the world lost a great man today.  Not only one who was only talented and gifted, but one who was truly a great, down to earth man.  A man who loved and cared about all, and wished nothing but happiness for all of those on this great Earth.  

Rest easy, José Fernández, we were all lucky to have known you.  We will all miss you dearly.060516-MLB-Miami-Marlins-Jose-Fernandez-smile-PI.vresize.1200.675.high.83.jpg

My Encounter With Stephen Drew: A Sestina by Zach Percy

I take my first step in the convenience store

In search for a drink that interests me.

I walk to the freezer section and take in the place,

When who should walk in none other than Stephen Drew.

The infielder walks directly to my side on the left

And proceeds to look at me up and down.

 

He nods at me and in awe I put my head down.

What brings him to this tiny little store?

“Aw they have no Cool Blue left.”

Stephen, upset, looks right back at me

“Hey what flavor you got there?” questions Stephen Drew.

I look at the gatorade in my arms resting in place.

 

“Riptide Rush, there’s plenty in this place.”

He asks “Where?” and I point down.

“Thanks.  Is it good?” asked the legendary Stephen Drew

“Yes, it’s a flavor I hold in great store.”

Suddenly, on the radio played You’ve Got a Friend in Me

It was as if fate put him to my left

 

He grabs one out of the many that were left.

He picked it up and set it down in place.

“Hey thanks for helping me.”

“No problem.” I replied, shyly looking down.

He took a baseball card and marker out of a pocket where he did store,

And on it a signature he had drew.

 

But he was not done, that kind Stephen Drew.

The National held a ticket in his hand on the left.

I was filled with excitement for what was in store

That I was practically jumping in place,

But I tried my best to calm myself down

He took the items and handed them to me.

 

“You’re a very kind person for helping me.”

“It’s nothing, I’m a big fan of you Stephen Drew.”

He told me how good the seats were and to come on down.

The seat was right behind their dugout on the left

The dugout of the Washington Nationals who lay in first place.

Ahead of me today, much fun was in store.

 

I went down to the game with my Nationals  jersey on me.

With the gatorade from the store that I bought with Stephen Drew.

He held the same in his left, turned around and we toasted each other in place

 

Black Magic

I’m honestly at a loss of words to describe this Yankee season.  By all calculations I have made this year, what the Yankees are currently doing, simply makes no sense.  I mean, I’m not complaining, but it just makes no sense.  At the end of April, they were sitting at 8-14, yet now here they are fighting for a playoff spot, a mere 4 games out of 1st place in the East, and only 2.5out of the wild card.  This series with the Blue Jays is just one of many important series’ the Yankees will play in September, and they are not rolling over, having finished off the sweep earlier tonight with a clutch homer from Castro and stellar pitching.  But what a finish the second game of the series featured.

Due to my dorm room having no cable, I am subject to blackouts online so I was not able to watch it, (had to settle for  Houston vs. Cleveland) but I was still following it play-by-play (Okay so maybe I wasn’t really watching the Indians game), and my god what a game it was.  With the Yankees offense being so hit or miss, I thought for sure it was game over when the Blue Jays took that 4-3 lead in the top of the 8th, but, like many, many times this year, I was wrong.  Ellsbury gets the leadoff walk, then later a triple by Gregorius scores him to tie the game.  Then, next at-bat, Castro hits a sac fly to give the Yanks a 5-4 lead.  After that, I thought, Perfect, that’s all we need with Betances on our side, yet the Bronx Bombers weren’t done.  

With two outs, McCann draws a walk to bring up Chase Headley, who has really improved since his slow start to the year.  On a 0-1 count, Headley drives a scorcher to right that just barely gets out to give the Yankees some insurance runs.

Going into the ninth, I was confident the Yankees had the win in the bag.  A three run lead going into the ninth with Betances on the mound?  Who wouldn’t be confident?  Yet Betances comes in and walks the first two batters he faces, then throws a wild pitch to allow the runners to move up, which sets up Encarnacion for an RBI single to bring in Bautista.  Okay, okay, don’t panic, it’s just one run, he’s got this.  Next at-bat, Betances strikes out Martin.  See self, you have nothing to worry about.  Buuuuuuuut then he walks the pinch hitter Navarro, aaaaaand then gives up a single to the player formerly known as BJ Upton.

By this point I had already tied the noose and had the noose around my neck.  Betances was pulled and in comes Blake Parker, a player acquired off waivers from Seattle a month prior.  To be quite honest, with the amount of bullpen arms the Yankees go through in a season, I had never even heard of this guy, but I damn sure will not forget him.  Parker comes in and gets two quick strikes on Pillar.  On an 0-2 count, Parker proceeds to throw a wild breaking pitch that Sanchez manages to miraculously block with his forearm by sliding all the way to Cambodia, saving the day once again.  Parker recovers to strike out Pillar on the next pitch.   2 down now and I put the noose down.  Now, up comes Justin Smoak, and I’m pretty confident in myself.  We can get Smoak out no problem, he’s only a .225 hitter.  Then, BAM!  First pitch he takes to deep left field.  I immediately pick the noose back up and put it around my neck.  But right as I was about to end it all, Gardner makes an incredible catch at the wall to save the game.  I threw that noose aside and began to weep tears of joy.  

This team is truly magical and keeps making me happier and prouder every day to call myself a Yankee fan.  It seems the Evil Empire is destined for their return to being the villain of baseball, and I cannot wait.