What’s In a Tweet: A Lesson From Brandon McCarthy

Brandon McCarthy - Oakland - 2012 Home

Brandon McCarthy – Oakland – 2012 Home (Photo credit: BaseballBacks)

A’s pitcher Brandon McCarthy took to Twitter to provide us all with some humor. You may ask, what is so special about a professional athlete Tweeting? Simple, after suffering severe head trauma sustained by a line drive, the simple act of composing a tweet, is nothing short of a miracle.

Fans, the media, athletes themselves, are easily caught up in the day-to-day drama of professional sports. Who’s on the disabled list, who’s starting, who’s thinking about free agency, etc. McCarthy’s injury brought reality back to all of us. Sports is entertainment. That’s it. Brandon McCarthy is 29-years old with a life ahead of him.

A simple tweet to the rest of us, but for McCarthy is step towards recovering. We take for granted our daily thoughts. We can all learn nothing is for granted.

Good luck Brandon. Our thoughts are with you and your family. And thanks for the Tweets!

Stephen Strasburg: The Imminent Shutdown

English: Stephen Strasburg

English: Stephen Strasburg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Should Stephen Strasburg be shut down? That question has stirred much controversy during the second half of the Major League season. The answer to this question depends on one of three perspectives observers may hold.

The Organizational View

The Washington Nationals are leading the National League East. While possible, it is improbable the Nats won’t win the division. 2012 is the season where they can make a legitimate run in the playoffs.

The franchise however, is looking long-term. The aim of the Nationals is to protect their investment. The short-term does not appear to be of major importance to them. Rather, years of potential success is more important to this organization. I respect this dynastic view, however short-sighted. As the ticking of the Strasburg Shutdown Clock continues, we are left to wonder about the wisdom in this decision.

The Players View

Shutting down a dominant force such as Strasburg in anathema to everything players learn. A popular saying holds true regardless of the sport: you play to win the game. Strasburg gives you the advantage in winning.

Prior to signing with the Yankees, C.C. Sabathia pitched one season for the Milwaukee Brewers. With little regard for his own long-term health, Sabathia pulled that club into the National Leauge Playoffs. The Brewers didn’t seem to object. Of course the Brewers were not in a real position to sign Sabathia long-term. Maybe I’m comparing apples to oranges.

If any Nationals player is discouraged, even angry over the organization’s decision to shut Strasburg down, they have every right to be. This is a decision with the potential to bring the Nats’ stellar season to an abrupt end. We all know that playoff baseball is different, special, and significantly more competitive than the regular season.

The Fan Perspective

I am not a Nationals fan. I respect the organization in its attempt to preserve their investment. I can’t separate the immediate from the long-term. The Nats have an opportunity now they may not have later. Regardless of whether they shut down their ace pitcher or not. In my opinion, I believe the Nationals organization is looking to far into the future. Management is focusing too much on the journey, rather than the turn up ahead.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think!

Thank You King Felix

Melky Cabrera

Melky Cabrera (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thank you King Felix. Thank you for bringing baseball back to baseball. What I mean is simple. Most of the discussion around baseball, at least in the mainstream media, has been about Bobby Valentine and the debacle that is the 2012 Boston Red Sox. Today, news broke that Melky Cabrera, famed San Francisco Giant all-star used a performance enhancing substance.

The tragedy for baseball is the never-ending stink the Steroid Era left on the sport. I would be naive to think we will rid ourselves of the specter of PEDs. However, it would be nice to have one big name, one star, not be linked to anything.

As for the Bobby Valentine situation, debacle is the word that best comes to mind. Many of us questioned the hiring. Valentine’s personality had long been discussed. Most analysts and casual observers alike saw a problem immediately. Unfortunately, the Boston ownership did not.

Felix Hernandez

Thank you King Felix. What you did today is why fans watch the game. The suspense, the drama, the history cannot be better encapsulated than a Perfect Game. The baseball gods said enough is enough. Let’s have something the game truly needs in the spotlight. A  perfect game is a perfect story. Congrats to the King. Congrats to the Mariners organization and their fans. Thanks Felix, for putting baseball back into baseball for at least one night.

P.S. I’m still taking an absence from blogging. However, I was bursting at the seams when I saw the completion of the Perfecto in Seattle. The fan in me just couldn’t resist. Until the next post….Cheers Vince V.

An Extended 7th Inning Stretch, If You Will, for The Outfield

With mixed emotions, I’ve decided to take a break from blogging here on the Outfield. I don’t know how long or short this break will be. I believe in producing a quality product. With that said,  I find I simply can’t dedicate the time and necessary effort to researching and writing for the Outfield. In an effort to pursue other writing projects, my passion for writing is taking me in other directions.  Many thanks to all those who’ve read and commented.

Until next time….

Cheers,

Vince V.

David Ortiz: the Silver Lining In the Red Sox Season

David Ortiz

David Ortiz (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

The 2012 season for the Boston Red Sox is less than stellar. The addition of Bobby Valentine, as suspected, hasn’t yielded the desired results of making Boston a contender. Granted, we need to factor in the injuries to Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and Carl Crawford. But, the Red Sox are just not the same old Red Sox of the recent past.

There is however, a silver lining to the cloud hanging over Fenway Park: David Ortiz. The perennial designated hitter and only member of the 2004 championship team remaining in Boston.

Ortiz will be the lone representative for the Red Sox in this season’s All-Star Game in Kansas City on July 10th. In the series against Oakland this past week, Ortiz sent home run number 400 into the stands. The question surrounding him now, is David Ortiz, a designated hitter, a future member of the hall of fame?

When David Ortiz completes his career, let’s see what his statistics look like. As a fan and observer of the game, I feel Ortiz specifically would need at least 500 homers, an average closer to .300 (his current career average is .284), and at least 2,500 hits to be considered. The hesitation, he’s a DH. The lack of playing the field hurts his chances.

Ortiz is the one bright spot in an otherwise gloomy season for the Red Sox Nation. The recent trading of Kevin Youkilis to the South Side of Chicago, and the long season 2012 is turning out to be, must be rough for Red Sox fans. Ortiz represents the baseball fan’s love of the long ball. When we think of present-day sluggers, David Ortiz is in the top five of the list.

Congrats to Ortiz for slugging number 400. He now sits 49th all-time in baseball history. Consider that approximately 17,000 men, have put on a major league uniform, Ortiz is a special player. Cooperstown special? Time will tell.

Happy 4th of July

A quick post to say Happy 4th of July to all! We all know what this day means.

Baseball All-Stars, Jim Thome, and Robinson Cano’s June: Some Thoughts on the Week In Baseball

English: Jim Thome

English: Jim Thome (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The All-Star selections are nearly complete. There is no surprise the Rangers and Yankees dominated the American League roster. Every season we seem to have issue with some selections. The most conspicuous snub is Matt Wieters. Wieters should be starting behind the plate. Wieters can thank the Rangers growing fan base for the snub. Fans, please select players for their performance, not the team jersey they wear.

The most impressive, Mike Trout of the Angels. The rookie sensation is simply phenomenal. The 20-year-old is batting a cool .339 with 9 homers and 33 RBI. What impresses the most, is his mastery of the lost art of the stolen base. Trout currently leads the American League with 22. Needless to say this rookie earned a well-deserved selection.

Centerfield for the American League is perplexing. Why is Granderson starting? Baltimore’s Adam Jones, and the aforementioned Mike Trout are more deserving of the starting job for the AL.

The question remains, will that other rookie phenom, Bryce Harper join the Mid-Summer Classic? When left to the fans who knows. My pick for the National League vote-in all-star is Chipper Jones. Call me sentimental, but his numbers .292/6/29, warrant the selection in my eyes. Consider this, 2012 is his last go-around. Let’s not discount anything Harper brings to the table, however he has his whole career ahead of him.

As Texas and New York dominated the American League selections; Giants fans exercised their voting power for the National League. That said, the Mets David Wright belongs starting at third base.

One last note about the selections and this goes out to Melky Cabrera. As a Yankee fan this is slightly frustrating. Melky put together an awesome first half. Where was this Melky when you were in Pinstripes? 2006 was the closest you came hitting .280. I digress. Congrats Cabrera.

Jim Thome Moving Down I-95

The Baltimore Orioles acquired power hitter Jim Thome from the Phillies. Thome will provide veteran leadership in the Oriole clubhouse. I’m interested to see what Showalter will do with Thome long-term. As with all players, Thome is not the significant threat he once was. Yet, I get the sense his .227 average is misleading. Batting in the middle of the order may just get the hitting juices going. But, time will tell.

Robinson Cano’s June

As Thome is in the twilight of his career, Robinson Cano is in the prime of his. 11 home runs in the month of June is rather impressive. Did I mention his 34 hits as well? Check out this from ESPN to see who Cano joins in the universe of Yankee history.

Cano will join Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson when the American League takes the field on July 10th. Jeter’s selection is truly deserving. All three will look to lead the Yanks into the post season with another division title.

The week that was in baseball was entertaining to say the least.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think!

All data from espn.com

Watching Derek Jeter’s Iconic Career

Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Previously I posted about the iconic career of Cal Ripken, Jr. Yesterday,  another icon passed Ripken on the all-time hits list. Derek Jeter notched hit 3,185 in the Yankees 14-7 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

You may ask why is this important on the grand scale of baseball history? The answer is simple: we are watching, live, the career of a living legend. Baseball stories revolve around players. All fans have stories about their favorite players, legends in their own time. Mays, Gehrig, Mantle, Ripken himself. Regardless of whether you love or “hate” the Yankees, Jeter is a rare staple of the game. He reached 3,000 hits on a home run. This, after most, including myself, questioned whether he had anything left to give.

The lesson learned is don’t count out an icon. Jeter will leave the game when he is ready. The talk around Jeter changes with the seasons. Now Jeter’s name is mentioned in the same sentence as Pete Rose. Jeter would need an average of 214 hits a season for the next five years to reach 4,256 career hits. Jeter, at 38, may not have the gas needed to continue playing, and hitting until age 43. Is it possible? Anything is possible.

Let’s not crown Jeter just yet. Instead, let’s enjoy his career one day at a time. In case you missed it, here’s a brief run down of Jeter’s career to date:

3,185 Hits

247 HR

.313 BA

Gold Glove 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, and 2010 (shortstop)

1996 ROY

5 World Series Championships

The Best Shortstop In Cooperstown

Jeter will be a first ballot inductee into the Hall of Fame. However, will he be the best shortstop to enter the hallowed ground of Cooperstown? Honus Wagner, Ozzie Smith, Cal Ripken, John Ward, and several others may object. Intentionally missing from this brief list is a popular HOF member: Phil Rizzuto. My opinion on Rizzuto changed after reading a piece by Bill Miller, author of The On Deck Circle. You can find the current list of Hall of Fame shortstops here.

Statistically Jeter is compiling a compelling argument for best shortstop all-time. Some may contend he played for a perennial winning team. Should championships be considered? Should lack of winning an MVP be considered? What about offensive WAR? OPS+? etc.

The debate over who is the best shortstop, all-time will never be settled. One thing is sure, we are all witness to a legendary career right before our eyes. So sit back, and enjoy. Careers such as this are rare.

All data from retrosheet.org, baseballhall.org, and baseball-reference.com

A Yankee fan freaking out…not really

Andy Pettitte

Andy Pettitte (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The world is ending Yankee fans. Let’s hunker down. I hope your doomsday bunker is ready. As soon as we adjusted to life without Mariano Rivera, the baseball gods struck another blow. Both C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte went down in one day. Give me a moment while I down some strawberry flavored Tums.

OK, now that I’m done with the dramatic behavior, let’s think about this. Sabathia is only missing two starts. Life really won’t come to an end. The bigger concern is the comeback kid, Andy Pettitte.

Pettitte’s Return In Jeopardy

Is Pettitte’s return truly in jeopardy? I don’t think so. Considering what Andy accomplished so far in his Major League return, I believe he will be just fine. What’s more, when he returns he’ll be fresh. A rejuvenated and ready-to-pitch Andy is just what the Yankees will need down the stretch.

I’ve said this before, baseball is a long season. Emphasis on the long. The Yankees are nothing if not able to cope with adversity. Thankfully I’m not a manager in the big leagues. I’m not sure if there are enough antacids to cope.

So my fellow Yankee fans, relax. Breathe. Things will be just fine in the Bronx. Let’s just hope Freddy Garcia can go more than two innings.

Disclaimer: this post is more personal therapy than anything else. There are times when, as a fan, you just need to vent. Thanks for reading.

Kevin Youkilis and the trade to the Chicago White Sox

English: Kevin Youkilis is warming up before t...

English: Kevin Youkilis is warming up before the Min @ Bos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kevin Youkilis, the fan-favorite third baseman for Boston traded in his red socks for some white ones. The trading of Youkilis to the White Sox is a surprise, but isn’t surprising. Youkilis was a rock at third for the Red Sox through eight seasons and two World Championships. This trade is the right move at the right time for both organizations.

The Red Sox are going through probably one of the rougher transitions in recent sports memory. Terry Francona leaving, the adjustment to Bobby Valentine, the usual competition in the American League East. Youkilis’ numbers are not stellar. It was his time to leave Boston. If David Ortiz departs, the transition will be complete. The addition of Youkilis to the South Side of Chicago was a smart move for the White Sox organization. Youkilis not only brings experience at third, but he brings veteran leadership to the clubhouse. His leadership and experience are the true asset the White Sox acquired.

The Fans

The fans in Chicago always struck me as some of the most passionate. Regardless if they cheer for the ChiSox or the Cubs, Chicagoans know their baseball and expect much from their teams. This is where Youkilis will fit perfectly. Boston is as much a baseball pressure-cooker second maybe to New York (this statement is debatable and may just be a future post). Youkilis is better for having played in the Boston baseball fishbowl. The Chicago fans will adopt him quickly.

The Player

As I still believe it was the right time for Francona, and former Boston GM Theo Epstein to leave, so it goes for Youkilis. Almost all players reach a point where the time has come. In many ways all of us, regardless of profession, reach similar crossroads.

Finally, as a Yankee fan, I can finally feel good about Youkilis being successful. I always respected his play and what he brought to the team. Unfortunately, it was for those pesky Red Sox.

Good luck Youk.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think!