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Posts Tagged ‘Torii Hunter’

The AL West shapes up as a showdown of pitching vs. offense, with the team that used to set the standard now entrenched as an also-ran and a rebuilding effort in the Great Northwest. In what should be essentially a two-team race, the nod goes to the A’s and their young guns.

Oakland surprised many by posting the best rotation ERA in the league last season. Despite trading Vin Mazzaro to Kansas City this offseason, the A’s still look to have easily the best rotation in their division, while adding Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes to what was an already impressive bullpen may give the team the best top-to-bottom staff in the league. Given their ages, one can only expect the rotation, led by Brett Anderson and strike-out machine Gio Gonzalez to continue to improve. While the offense is still underwhelming, adding Hideki Matsui, Josh Willingham and David DeJesus to the under-rated Daric Barton and Kurt Suzuki should provide enough punch to lead the A’s to their first division title since 2006.

The defending league champions will miss the departed Vladimir Guerrero‘s bat, but that’s not the piece that looks to derail the Texas Rangers bid to repeat. Losing Cliff Lee and not replacing him with anyone has led them to scramble to find starters from their relief corps and a few reclamation projects, such as Brandon Webb. The Rangers will still hit – any team that includes Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Michael Young and Ian Kinsler will score runs. Adding Mike Napoli should help, but the Adrian Beltre signing is one of those “buyer beware” type deals: Beltre’s bat has a history of coming alive only in contract years, although his glove work remains impeccable. Expect Texas to be involved in a lot of 10-8 type games.

The Angels once were considered the standard of excellence in the division, making the playoffs 6 times in an 8 year span from 2002 – 2009. Last year, the team finished below .500 and they’ll struggle to reach that mark again this year. Provided Scott Kazmir can recapture some lost magic and Joel Piniero can continue to wiggle out of jams, the rotation looks to be better than average. But the once-feared bullpen is no longer a sure thing, now led by the erratic Fernando Rodney as the closer. The line-up is ill-suited to playing manager Mike Scioscia‘s style, featuring aging players now playing out of position – with the curious addition of Vernon Wells joining former stars Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu, as well as rookie Peter Bourjos in the outfield rotation. The Angels will be further hampered by 1B Kendry Morales uncertain status; reports suggest he may not return until May from last season’s freakish broken leg.

Finally, there’s the Mariners. Last year’s pre-season Cinderella pick collapsed by April 30th and went downhill from there. At least, this season doesn’t bring those types of expectations to Seattle – which is a good thing. If Erik Bedard is healthy again, he could prove a nice one-two pairing with reigning Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez. CF Franklin Gutierrez seemed to regress last year, but the talent is still there and he may have experienced the dreaded “sophomore slump.” Seattle fans will also be able to root for Ichiro Suzuki to make it 11 consecutive seasons with 200+ hits and 25+ steals, a feat never before accomplished in major league baseball.

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Yesterday, I skipped school to go to my very first home opener at Yankee Stadium. Here is a rundown of how it went:

I woke up early in the morning to head down to the stadium so I wouldn’t miss any of the festivities. I got there before the gates opened and had a chance to walk around. While walking past Gate 4, I noticed Chris Shearn recording one of his pre-game segments for the YES Network. After he was done, I introduced myself, took a photo with him and spoke for a couple of minutes. He’s a really nice guy. Than I waited on line for the gates to open.

The Pre-Game:

Got in a few minutes after the gates opened, and I went directly to Monument Park. I wanted to take pictures with some of the monuments that I didn’t get a chance to take the first time around. I walked around the ballpark after that and saw Harlan Chamberlain, but I didn’t get a chance to meet him. He was kind of busy talking to some people, so I moved on. I also noticed Mark Feinsand of the Daily News near the press elevator, but he too was busy talking to someone..so I didn’t bother. The halls of the stadium were jam-packed and the atmosphere was terrific. Stopped off at Nathan’s for some food and went up to my seats for the ceremony.

The Food & Merchandise:

Before the game: Nathan’s Hot Dog and Fries Middle of the 5th inning: Johnny Rocket’s Double Burger, Souvenir Yankees Cup (Pepsi). I also bought a 2010 NY Yankees Yearbook, Media Guide and home opener program.

Festivities:

I was very pleased with the way the ring ceremony was done. Watching Yogi and Whitey hand out the rings to the players was a pretty cool moment. The player introductions were great, and it was really nice to see Gene Monahan and Hideki Matsui return. All the players in the dugout gave Geno a standing ovation, and it was very emotional moment for him. The Yankees also put The Boss on the centerfield scoreboard during the ceremony, and the Yankees gave him a nice ovation as well. Matsui got the biggest ovation of them all, and he certainly deserved it.

The championship flags for each of the Yankees’ 27 WS titles, the giant unfurled American flag in the outfield, and the “Fighting Omars” fly over were really a sight to see. Kristen Chenoweth (National Anthem) and Mary May Messenger (“God Bless America”) did a fine job with their performances. Bernie Williams bounced the ceremonial first pitch, but I was still happy to see him there.

The Game:

I sat in Section: 329 Row: 2 Seat (Terrace ††). The view from my seat was pretty good.

  • The Bleacher Creatures did their first roll call of the season, and everyone was watching to see how Curtis Granderson would salute them.
  • I give major props to Andy Pettitte for stepping off the mound when Matsui came up to the plate, so the fans could give him his due.
  • Nick Johnson was stepping up to the plate to Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” song, because his little daughter was in the building. A lot of the fans around me were making fun of him, and I thought that was interesting. He shut them all up when he went yard in the 1st inning.

Andy Pettitte pitched a hell of a game, throwing six shutout innings while striking out 6 batters.. There is no other guy on the team that I would’ve rather had starting that game than him.

Interestingly enough, many fans started to head for the exit when the Yankees took a 7-1 lead heading into the 9th. I stayed for the last out, as I always do. I kind of got that feeling that something was going to happen, and that the home opener wouldn’t be complete without The Sandman. I was right about that. David Robertson gave up a grand slam to Bobby Abreu, and the Angels trailed by only two runs. When Mo came in, you pretty much knew the game was over and there was nothing to worry about. Mariano did what he does best and nailed down the 2-out save for the victory. Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today. I want to be a part of it – New York, New York…

The Press Gate:

After the game was over, my friend and I walked over to the press gate in the back of the stadium. I wasn’t actually prepared to get autographs this time around, so I was just looking to take some photos with anyone I met. Next time, I’ll be sure to bring a ball and a pen.

We waited for the players, front office staff, broadcasters and celebrities to walk out. Who did we miss? Mayor Bloomberg, Jay-Z, John Sterling, Michael Kay and Suzyn Waldman. I stayed there for about an hour, and we saw pretty much all of the Yankee players roll out in their cars. Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher, Phil Hughes, Tony Pena, Fransisco Cervelli, and many other strolled out of the gate in their cars. You couldn’t identify many of them because of the tinted windows on their cars. Hal Steinbrenner walked out of the Yankees offices, signed some autographs for the fans and was on his way. The rest of the Steinbrenner clan followed (including Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal).

Nick Johnson also showed up with his family. His little daughter stood right next to him, as he signed autographs and took some quick photos with the fans. I got a chance to meet and take a photo with Randy Levine, Bob Lorenz, and Kim Jones. They were all glad to take a photo with me. Bob took the time to chat with me, and I really appreciated that. We spoke about the game, twitter, and our respective blogs. Unfortunately, my photo with Mr. Levine came out terrible so I had to delete it. Haha

Torii Hunter came out of the gate and signed autographs and posed for a photograph with anyone who wanted one. I don’t think he said no to one fan. He was doing this all for Yankee fans, so I thought that was pretty cool. You don’t see that out of many all-star caliber ball players these days. Ervin Santana, Eric Aybar, Bobby Abreu and Richard Gere (donning a Yankees cap) all walked out as well. I tried to get Gere’s attention by yelling out his name, but he didn’t want to be bothered and that’s fine with me. No hard feelings.

All in all, it was a great day.

(more…)

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     These threats from Bud Selig about punishing A-Rod is a bunch of bologna. I don’t think it will happen. A-Rod claims that he used steroids from 2001-2003 with the Texas Rangers. At that time..there were no punishments for players who tested positive for PED’s. The following year, penalties would be given out if they tested positive for banned substances.

This is what Bud had to say:

“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am saddened by the revelations concerning Alex Rodriguez’s use of performance-enhancing substances. While Alex deserves credit for publicly confronting the issue, there is no valid excuse for using such substances and those who use them have shamed the game.

“What Alex did was wrong and he will have to live with the damage he has done to his name and reputation. His actions are also a reminder to everyone in baseball—under our current drug program, if you are caught using steroids and/or amphetamines, you will be punished. Since 2005, every player who has tested positive for steroids has been suspended for as much as 50 games. Eradicating performance-enhancing substances from the game of baseball has been my first priority over the past decade and it is important to remember that these recent revelations relate to pre-program activity.”

The other thing Selig said was that he was “not dismissing” re-instating his friend, Hank Aaron, as baseball’s all-time home run king, while admitting that “once you start tinkering you create more problems.”

My question is..why didn’t Bud punish Giambi & Pettitte…?

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an interesting report:

Johnny Damon: I turned down steroids:

“When I was 13, somebody tried to push it on me, but since I was 6-1 and 180 pounds, I knew I didn’t ever have to take it,” Damon told the radio station. “I’m a big boy by nature, I’ve been blessed with strength. … I made the right decision, but sometimes guys don’t make that right decision.”

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GIAMBI GLAD PLAYERS ARE TALKING / B.A.T. creates Bobby Murcer Award

Brian Cashman: Players who tested positive for steroids should come clean

Cashman can’t say whether Alex used performance-enhancing drugs w/Yanks

Hunter saddened by A-Rod’s admission / Welcome to Fun City

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