MLB Gave the Sports World a Two-Day Hangover

In a span of about 90 minutes on Wednesday night, Major League Baseball melted the proverbial faces of the sporting world with three dramatic win or go-home games. For a generation of sports fans that want/need/must-have information at every possible juncture, Wednesday night’s finish was just about perfect. And if that wasn’t quick enough, 48 hours later, we begin the playoffs. A couple of quick thoughts about what went down on “Wild Card Wednesday” and the days ahead for this crazy, drug-free season. Read the rest of this entry

I was catching up on some MLB transactions yesterday and I saw that the Texas Rangers just signed 23 year old Cuban defector and outfielder Leonys Martin to a Major League contract. Great move for the Rangers. They gave this 6’2″, 190lbs, left fielder a $5 million signing bonus and $15.5 million total for the second richest contract given out to a Cuban defector ever. This guy must be good huh? Judging from his stats in the Cuba league, he should be. Here’s what he did in Cuba:

He hit .398 in 2007-08 in Cuba, garnering some attention with the second-highest batting average in the league. He also had 13 stolen bases and nine triples.

In 2008-09, Martin batted .311 and had a .491 on-base percentage. He stole 17 bases and was fifth in the league in walks with 78.

To my keen baseball eye, this kid looks like he could be quite the leadoff hitter for a few years to come. He’s got a good eye, gets walks and hits and he steals bases. I mean, he sounds ideal as a leadoff hitter if he can duplicate his success in Cuba at the Major League level. He looks like everything that Nyjer Morgan wishes he was! Now, which team that I follow does not have one of those leadoff hitter type players I was just speaking of…hm…oh wait, THE WASHINGTON NATIONALS.

This really begs the question, “Why didn’t we even hear any mention of the Washington Nationals with regards to this player?” We heard their name bandied about in discussions with Aroldis Chapman who eventually signed with the Cincinnati Reds for the largest contract ever handed out to a Cuban defector (over $30 million) but we didn’t hear a peep about the Nationals with regards to Martin at all. WHAT GIVES?

Currently the Nationals have no legitimate lead-off hitter on their team. Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa have failed miserably at the #1 spot in the Nationals’ lineup. Also, the highest batting average of a regular starter on their team belongs to a pitcher, Jason Marquis, who is batting .385 in 14 at bats. Not to mention the highest on base percentage of a position player is the .415 belonging to their catcher Wilson Ramos with no other active regular player having an OBP over .333. In light of all of this lack of offensive production, do you think the Nationals might want to make an attempt to get in on the bidding of a player that could help them out sooner and/or later?

Besides being a weak hitting team with no lead-off man in sight for the immediate future, its not as if the Nationals’ outfield, as currently constructed, is under-going some sort of youth movement. Mike Morse is 29, Rick Ankiel is 31, Laynce Nix is 30 and, recently signed to a big money seven year deal, Jason Werth is 32 years old.  That is old!  Obtaining the services of  what looks like the 23 year old Cuban version of a skinny Tony Gwinn might be something a GM would want to do to keep the overall “youth” movement of the team going forward. Sure phenom Bryce Harper is going to be joining the outfield as early as next season but wouldn’t it have been great if the team could have a second young guy that could get on base in front of Harper so that he could pick up a few RBI opportunities?

Sure it is way too early to know if Martin is the real deal but the point is that Leonys Martin could be that guy and certainly appears to have a better chance at being that guy than the majority of the outfields the Nationals currently have on their roster.

Sure we don’t know all the behind the scenes discussions between agents and front office types, but the media knew about the Nationals’ discussions with Chapman and so far no one has said any of the same discussions happened with Martin. If Mike Rizzo was too busy celebrating Osama Bin Laden’s death at the White House when he could have been making phone calls trying to get another talented young outfielder on his team, then maybe the Nationals need to hire a new GM.

It was painful to miss out on the flamethrower arm of Chapman but at least the Nationals tried. Not making the same attempt to gain the services of Martin, especially in light of the lack of organizational depth and lack of production from the current Major League roster, is practically inexcusable.

Hey, did you hear?  The World Series ended last night.  Ok, maybe it didn’t — I wrote the majority of this before the game was over. Either way, you probably didn’t watch it, given that there was Monday Night Football on and probably some sort of inane reality show with a bunch of washed-up former 90′s actors prancing around in just-barely there leotards.  Well, guess what? I did watch the World Series and this is what I saw: Read the rest of this entry

Congratulations to the Texas Rangers on making their first World Series appearance. As an Orioles fan, it’s great to know that two expansion teams and a bankrupt team have made it there since they last did. I digress.

There was some kind of justice in the fact that A-Rod went down looking for the last out of the ALCS. He’s going to have a much more confused look the next time he makes out with his reflection in the mirror.

The Rangers’ dominant series win also was a great way to send Yankees fans home knowing Joe Girardi managed an XXL Chalupa switch better than Game 6. Baseball couldn’t say goodbye to a “classier” set of fans. What are we talking about? Where do we start?

How about homophobic songs in the bleachers?

It’s like Boston minus the racism. The Yankees promised to put a stop to it but it’s suspect they didn’t do anything about it until they were called out. Only if they policed bigotry as much as they crack down on anyone moving during the 7th inning stretch.

Let’s go to Game 2 of the ALCS when Yankees fans started pelting the Rangers bullpen with trash since their team was down 8-0 and playing like garbage. Video via Big League Stew and Crossing Broad.

Not enough proof for you? How about a Yankees fan trying to throw beer on Cal Ripken Jr. before Game 4. He somehow avoided the shower. He hasn’t moved that fast since the mid to late 80s. He probably called Peter Angelos and said he can still play over Manny Alexander. Unfortunately there’s no video of David Wells trying to save the spilt beer.

Manager “Uncle” Ron Washington deserves credit for outmanaging Girardi and getting the most out of his journeyman pitchers and Cliff Lee. It was a decisive win to close out the series despite the umpire’s best efforts to save the game for the Yankees in the 5th inning with an awful call that Joe West would have saluted.

Celebrate how you want, Uncle Ron. You still have a World Series to play but for a day, do yours.

If it’s good enough for God, it’s good enough for you. Hell what the people say.

Last night Cliff Lee won the game for the Texas Rangers, silencing the Yankee’s bats to the tune of a 13 K shutout for the Rangers’ 8-0 victory.  I don’t feel too bad for the Yankees organization though, while the team isn’t currently winning on the field, they are winning at the cash register. The Yankees have come across one of the greatest merchandising schemes ever…selling dirt from the old Yankee Stadium.

No, we’re not just talking about the dirt around the base paths, I’m talking dirt dug up from the outfield, infield, batting box and up to two feet down before the stadium was demolished. We all know no Yankee ever set foot on that dirt if it was two feet down, but apparently dirt collectors don’t give a damn. In total, they dug up three tons of dirt. Egad.

What have they done with the dirt do you ask?  Well half of it has been used for over $10 million in collectible items such as:

* Key chains that go for $20 each.

* Posters commemorating the nine championships the team won in their former home. They sell for $150 each.

* Special player posters whose price depends on the player. Derek Jeter is the most expensive at $80

* Player plaques showing Yankee stars’ stats and biggest moments. They sell for $50 to $60

* Crystal paperweights engraved with milestone dates.

* Team-signed balls with an order of dirt on the side, selling for $60.

I mean its cool that they will sell it along with signed balls but a $20 key chain??  Look at that poster, would you pay $30 for that?  The Yankees have actually made dirt a valuable commodity…and they have THREE TONS OF IT.  Well, actually they sold off 1 1/2 tons, but they have actually saved up the other half of it in barrels for future use (sales).

I’d love to know exactly how much dirt is in these items to figure out the exact value of the dirt. Silver is a little over $24 an ounce, I’d bet this dirt is near that in value. Just think about that. Dirt that is as valuable as silver. Hold on, I just threw up in my mouth a little. Ok, I’m good.

Like fine wine, this dirt will only get better and more valuable with age.  Get your dirt while you can. In the meantime, it looks as if the Yankees will have a little bit more money to throw around free agency than they would’ve normally had.

So don’t feel too bad for their loss last night, they can afford to go out and buy Lee next year and have him do to someone else what he did to them…partially thanks to Yankee dirt.