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Monday, November 14, 2011

30 Teams In 30 Days

For the next 30 days or so, I'll be highlighting each MLB team and going over general strengths and weaknesses. In addition, I'll highlight a few available players that maybe a great fit for that team. At the end I will be posting my overall predictions for the league including final standings, playoff outcomes and world series winners. Enjoy

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Red Sox and Yankees, Baseballs Heroes?

   The A.L East enjoys a rarity in professional sports. They have the two best teams always fighting for the top and dominating the American League year after year by putting together great teams that scare opposing teams much to the delight of the home and away crowds. Every where they go stadiums sell out or at least give a significant boost to the attendance and always provide exciting baseball to watch, no matter time of year it is. The success the A.L East has is unparalleled in sports. Which brings up the debate:

   Is this fair to the other teams in the division? Should it really be like this, two teams dominating so much? Is it time to entertain the thought of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees going into different divisions' to try to create a sense of equality in the American League? Or go a step farther and put them into different leagues?

   If you had asked me before the 2008 season I would have said yes, we need a change. At that point, only the Orioles had managed to win the division outside the Bronx Bombers and the BoSox in 13 seasons. I thought it was ridiculous that two teams would be allowed to destroy other teams in the A.L and be virtually guaranteed a playoff spot. How is it fair when two teams that have most of the money in the league gets to beat up on their opponents all the time. Not to mention how boring it is to always have the same teams in the playoffs. From 1995 to 2010, only two teams not named the Red Sox or Yankees have won the A.L East. Baltimore won it in 1997 and Tampa Bay won it in 2008 and 2010. In 15 years, 12 titles were won by them. To go even further. Since the wild card berth was added to the playoff format in 1995, a A.L East team as won it 12 times. Of those 12 times only one team other than Boston or New York won it. That was Baltimore in 1996. That means that in the 15 years of the Wild Card era. Only five seasons finished without both the New York Yankee's and the Boston Red Sox playing playoff baseball. Five times in 15 years. In fact, since the '95 season either New York or Boston has always been in the playoffs. When you think about it this seems like a little overkill and needs to stop.

   But what if all this success is really good for the teams in the division and baseball as a whole? Should we be looking at Boston and New York as the bad guys or the heroes of baseball? Take a step back and look at the big picture, not as a fan of a team but as a fan of baseball.

   Critics and fans of other teams always paint the Yankee's and Red Sox as bad guys because of the money, as if the team with the most money wins the World Series every year. When 2008 came, Tampa Bay finally proved that you do not need to spend much money if you grow from the bottom up with good solid scouting, coaching and player development. They showed that it doesn't matter if Boston has hundreds of millions of dollars to spend , not only that but they earned it all, so they can spend it. It doesn't matter if it's not fair they can get all those high profiled players. Sports business is not fair. The Rays built from the ground up and used less money than anyone in the American League. The Rays only spent $43,820,597, which ranked 29th in the league. The payroll myth has been busted.

Come again? Say what?
The Rays won the division with $43 million? While the Yankees spent $209 million. Boston spent $133. Even the Toronto Blue Jays spent $97 million. And the Rays won it and made it to the World Series?

   When you look what the Red Sox and Yankees bring to the table for the MLB, you notice that they are one of the best thing to happen to baseball. Not only from a business standpoint but a fans point of view as well. It gives the league a benchmark for excellence, you know you are performing at high level when you have matched or bettered their records or if you have taken them out the playoff picture. They are a model for success. They spend the money to make their teams great which has always been the biggest knock on the Yankees & Red Sox. Well hold on a moment. How do you think companies like Wal-Mart or Home Depot got big? The spend a lot of money to market themselves and get in the public eye, backing it with all the products that customer want and the top pro teams do the same thing. There is a saying that you have to spend money to make money and baseball, in no shape, way or form is different. Baseball has a business side that determines the quality of a team. And the market themselves very well teams do doesn't just benefit them, it benefits the league as a whole. From the money small market teams make from the luxury tax to the money they make when the Yankees come to town, all combine to make a pretty penny that you do not get when say, Oakland visits for a weekend series. The Yankees paid $26 million in 2009 and $18 million in 2010 and have paid it every year since 2003. That is injecting a lot of much needed cash into teams that do not make a lot. The A.L East teams benefit from having the Yankees and the Red Sox coming to their home diamond and generating much needed income from ticket and merchandise sales at the stadium not to mention excitement for otherwise boring seasons. If they lost that income then we would be talking about how much money they lost now.

   The also bring exposure to the game. Is there anybody in the U.S. that doesn't know either the Red Sox or the Yankees? Aren't these teams household names in most of the world? Try to find a NBA or NHL team that people in Japan know their top teams. This exposure brings people to the games, which in turn brings cash flow.

    Instead of complaining that they have to face these teams so much because it's not fair, other teams should be upset that they DON'T get to face the Red Sox as much. That could be money in their pockets. Think of the Pittsburgh Pirates or the San Diego Padres, for example. I am sure they would not mind playing either team if it meant a full stadium and income. I will also note that most people do not care if it is or not. This is professional sports, it's a business. Fair is not part of the equation.
    From what the Bronx Bombers and BoSox bring to the game of baseball, it's clear that they have a such a profound positive impact on baseball that is in the best interest of everyone is baseball. In my mind that makes them heroes in baseball.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Baseball Cheaters

   In the past 20 years there has only been one thing that I can honestly say I hated about baseball. It wasn't anything to do with the umpires, nothing about whether there wasn't enough home runs or to many, Inter-League play doesn't bother me, I don't care if the Yankees have a surreal payroll. The worst thing I can think of, are players who break the rules. Willingly and often. And then get compared to REAL baseball players. These cheaters show complete disrespect to fellow players, their coaches, their teams, their fans and most importantly, the game of baseball.Whether your Sammy Sosa using corked bats to swing the bat fast or your Barry Bonds using steroids to break the biggest record in baseball, it's disgusting and appalling that we even consider them in the same sentence as Hank Aaron, Ted Williams or Sandy Koufax.

   For instance, Alex Rodriguez is now chasing some of Hank Aaron's records. Aaron is the only player to amass 700 Home Runs, 3000 Hits, 2000 RBI's and 2000 Runs Scored. A-Rod is very close to getting to these milestones. To date he has 626 homers, 2,746 hits, 1,875 RBIs and 1,804 runs scored. But how can we treat these stats as legitimate? He admitted to taking Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) during the 2001-2003 seasons with the Texas Rangers and that right away should tip us off that this may not be the whole truth. It's not like he came forward on his own, reports were leaked and the ONLY reason he admitted to taking PED was for damage control. He knew that all that could be proven was that he took them during that time span, because there was no drug testing in the 90's. For all we know Rodriguez has been "juicing" since he came into the league. And now he thinks that just because he manned up that we should be OK with it.

   And by no means was he the only one. Quite a few of the "superstars" of the late 90's and early 2000's were taking PED's. Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Jose Conseco, Manny Ramirez, Jason Giambi, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Rafael Palmeiro, Gary Sheffield, Éric Gagné, David Justice, Chuck Knoblauch, Brian Roberts, Miguel Tejada, Mo Vaughn and Kevin Brown, to name a few have been proven to test positive. Truly there was and is, a massive stain on the game as a result of the huge mistakes these men have made. I think it's despicable to even consider these players as great.

   The argument that steroids didn't improve the skills of players is ridiculous and besides the point. No, the PED's may not have improved their skills, but it certainly improved their stats and that's what I'm talking about. I'll admit that Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez were very good athletes. They have a ton of skill that I only dream of. Let's face it, they are good. They made it into the Major Leagues, which right off the bat, puts them in a small minority of the population that can do that. They have my respect for managing to make it there and staying there.

   However, the steroids dramatically increase the strength of a player. If you compare two players; one taking steroids, the other not. They both hit the same amount of ground balls and fly balls and in the same places to the same fielders. I would put a lot of money down that the guy taking steroids would have more hits because his balls would be hit harder, thus making it more difficult for a fielder to catch the ball and make an out. he would have more home runs for obvious reasons. Suddenly said steroid filled player has his average go up a .100 points and doubles the amount of doubles and homers he hits. This is the difference between a Hall of Fame career and a great career. And that's why these guys did it in the first place. They would not and could not be the players who would become Hall of Famers and post the stats they did WITHOUT the steroids.

   And I sincerely hope that if Pete Rose is held out of the HOF for gambling on baseball. (which I completely agree with) Those same people had better keep any player that has taken and/or been proven to take PED's. I don't care if he's sorry, I don't care if he "didn't mean to" I don't care if he brought it up himself. PED's cause artificial stats and the HOF is not the place for artificial players, and everyone associated with the MLB or MLBPA should take 0 tolerance on PED's.