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All About the Pitchers

19 Jun

While the NBA season is loudly winding down and the European Soccer matches are captivating many sports fan’s attentions (during the work-day), the Major League Baseball season is hitting its stride. It’s the summer so we watch baseball, obviously.

While the baseball season is measured by wins, losses, and statistics. This year, much focus has been given to the pitching. In the last month alone, there have been a whole mix of perfect games, complete games, crazy comeback stories, and even a Seattle Mariners combined no-hitter.

Arguably, the success of a team is heavily measured by their pitching. The pitcher is the guy who really carries his team, and usually dictates the pace and success that the team will have. You can pretty much say that if the pitcher allows some runs, the team is going to have a harder time getting the W. Ultimately, if you have a “perfect” or “almost-perfect” pitcher, you should have a perfect win. Obviously, there are times when a team doesn’t score any runs to insure their pitcher or makes some fielding errors behind him, but if the pitcher was perfect, the team wouldn’t have to do much to help.

For the Yankees, its been almost all about the pitching and they have been insuring their pitchers with the perfect amount of hitting every time. Their current winning streak can be attributed to the solid pitching they have been receiving from starting guys like Phil Hughes, CC Sabathia, and Ivan Nova. It’s crazy to think about how people were ready to write off the Yankees when Mariano Rivera came down with his ACL injury just a few months ago. Then, the importance of pitching was not lost on the fans, but thankfully everyone was wrong. Once again, the Yankees have built their starting rotation and bullpen rotation into a powerhouse. Perhaps their streak is so impressive because the Yankees haven’t even scored that many runs. The pitchers have really been outstanding.

R.A. Dickey is just another pitching story that is almost too good to be true. With his win vs. the Orioles last night, he becomes the 1st pitcher to throw back-to-back 1 hitters since Dave Stieb in 1988. The 35 year old has really worked his way into this starting spot after starting the season in Triple-A minor league baseball. He has been dominant as of late striking out a myriad of batters and allowing no-earned runs in his last 5 games. What’s great about Dickey is that he’s helping his team, the New York Mets, a long the way. His Win-Loss record for this season is a solid 11-1. The only loss having come in his first appearance in April. Dickey’s current win streak is remarkable.

When the story broke yesterday that Roger Clemens received a not-guilty verdict on all accounts, fans of the game are left to wonder.  Clemens is just another example of the importance we attribute to the pitcher. His 24 year career complete with 7 CY Young Awards is a model that pitchers aspire to. No one will really ever know the complete true story and the name “Roger Clemens” will always be tainted but no one can deny the impact that he has had on the game of baseball. I’m glad this story can finally be over because now we can focus all our attention on guys like R.A. Dickey, CC Sabathia, Jered Weaver, and Stephen Strasburg.

Thankfully, for Major League Baseball, the Euro 2012 matches are during the day so sports fans really have no excuse. If you didn’t like Major League Baseball last week, you have some new reasons to watch. Can the Yankees keep up their win streak? Is R.A. Dickey the real deal? But probably the biggest question is, which teams will rely on their pitchers to get to the postseason and more importantly, which pitchers will show up? Since its really all about the pitchers, your guess is as good as mine.

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And just because I’m a Yankees fan

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The Stony Brook Cinderella Story

11 Jun

Ok. No offense to Stony Brook University, but if you ask any college sports fan to name a sport that Stony Brook has excelled in, made a championship for, or is even just known for, they probably won’t be able to name a thing. Until now…

Stony Brook’s NCAA Division I Baseball program has just earned a spot in the 2012 College World Series and what a Cinderella story it is. Stony Brook, a member of the always overlooked America East Conference, becomes just the 1st team from New York to make it to the College World Series since 1980 and doing so after only 12 years as a Division I program. Plus, they took down two powerhouses in the last 2 weeks, Miami and LSU, in their home stadiums.

I was immediately drawn to Stony Brook from the moment I saw their 13-inning game that lasted Friday afternoon through Saturday morning. While they didn’t win that game, it was a best of 3 series, and they won the 2 that counted. Last night they beat six-time national champion LSU 7-2. They made it look easy.

Stony Brook is led by head coach, Matt Senk, who has been there since 1991. He has taken the program from a Division III baseball program to a team who just made the College World Series. Stony Brook has stars too. They are led by Travis Jankowski, Maxx Tissenbaum, and freshman, Kevin Krause. In fact, one of their star players, Jankowski, was just selected in the Major League Baseball draft with a few other teammates as well.

Stony Brook now has the daunting task of trying to be just the 2nd #4 seed to win the College World Series. If there is any team up to the task right now, I would say it is Stony Brook Baseball. They even earned the respect of the over 10,000 LSU fans who showed up to watch their heavily favored LSU Tigers. After the game, the fans stayed around to cheer on Stony Brook and even give the team high fives and hand shakes. Making it to the College Baseball World Series is just another example of how far Stony Brook has come.

So if you’re looking for a good sports story right now, look no further then Stony Brook Baseball from Long Island, NY. For many of my readers, that’s right in your backyard. Stony Brook Baseball is shocking the College Baseball World as we speak and hopefully this is just the beginning of their Cinderella story.

Josh Hamilton is a Pretty Big Deal

9 May

A home run in Major League Baseball is a pretty big deal. A few home runs in Major League Baseball is a pretty big deal. Hitting the most home runs in the 2008 Home Run Derby is a pretty big deal. Being the 2010 ALCS MVP is a pretty big deal. It comes as no surprise then, that hitting 4 home runs in one Major League Baseball game is a really big deal. Last night at the historical Camden Yards, in Baltimore, Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers hit 4 home runs in a single game and if you didn’t think he made the record books already, he definitely did with that performance.

4 home runs in a game doesn’t happen every day. Hamilton became just the 16th player to hit 4 home runs in a single game. I’m sure if you asked the Baltimore Orioles players and fans what the game was about they wouldn’t tell you the winner or the final score, J0sh Hamilton was the game. Josh Hamilton is really one of those professional athletes who everyone strives to be. Clearly, one of the Most Valuable Players in the MLB right now, he also leads the American league in home runs (10), RBIs (28) and slugging percentage (.691). He really is just that much of a big deal.

But, perhaps the best part about Josh Hamilton isn’t even his record setting baseball abilities as it is his life story. Everyone always knew he was good at baseball. Hamilton was the Number 1 overall pick by Tampa Bay in 1999 but wasn’t able to show the world his baseball prowess right away. Hamilton spent a significant amount of years in the minor leagues while battling with a drug and alcohol addiction. He failed numerous drug tests and lost three years in the minors to drug suspensions. It wasn’t until 2006 that he made a Major League Roster with the Cincinnati Reds. Things still weren’t easy for Hamilton as he was then traded to the Texas Rangers in 2007.

2008 was when the world was really introduced to Josh Hamilton and when he finally got the introduction he truly deserved.

A true victim of alcohol and drug addiction, Hamilton doesn’t deny his story and recognizes that its a struggle for him every single day.  Despite battling recent injuries, criticism, and drug addiction, Hamilton is the model athlete who also relies on his faith.

As a fan of baseball, I am truly happy for guys like Josh Hamilton who have made it this far. Watching him succeed makes me feel like I am successful. What’s so great about Hamilton, is we know he is not taking any performance enhancing drugs or breaking any rules of the game. Josh Hamilton is the reason we love sports.  He is another example of the greatness of the game of baseball. Each night, you never really know what is going to happen and Hamilton is that reminder. Josh Hamilton is a true athlete who is really just that good.

This is Why You Should Love Sports

3 May

I woke up this morning with 2 more reasons to love sports.

Last night, Jered Weaver of the Anaheim Angels did what most pitchers hope to do in a lifetime. Against the Minnesota Twins, Weaver threw a no-hitter and solidified his name among the Major League Baseball greats. Phil Humber of the Chicago White Sox threw a no-hitter just 2 weeks ago as well.

A few hour before, the New York Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals in a triple overtime playoff game. Regardless of the winner, this game was a playoff game for the ages. A true defensive game filled with all the pressure of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

These are the nights that sports fans live for.

The amazingness of a no-hitter in the MLB and the sweet victory and triumph of an NHL playoff win is a reminder that in today’s scandal filled world of sports, there is still the untouchable quality that makes sports what it really is today. While we are constantly faced with the harsh realities of a world in which bounty scandals, NCAA violations, and contract negotiations seem to take over, its the record breaking and hard work of the athletes that should be celebrated. The human interest stories about perseverance and determination is what really makes a sports fan love sports.

That being said, a true sports fan feels for the athletes and the teams. Ask any sports fan and they will tell you, with their team’s wins and losses, a fan really does feels the emotion.

Earlier in the afternoon, it was announced that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had signed a new free agent. Eric LeGrand, the defensive tackle from Rutgers University saw his dreams come true when he was signed to an NFL team. As a personal friend of mine, I am so proud and happy for Eric. Greg Schiano has illustrated another positive that can come out of the world of sports and for that I am grateful. Eric’s story is just beginning as he will no doubt continue to shock the world of sports with each passing day.

It can’t be denied that the sports world feels the great loss of someone like Junior Seau, a true superstar, model athlete, and NFL great. His death is one that the entire world of sports will feel and it just shows the harsh realities of the world we live in.

While there will always be down times of sadness and scandal in the world of sports, there will always be times of incredible highs and elation. As sports fans we should take notice of joy in moments like a professional league draft, the victories of the playoffs, and the triumphs of those who break records.

finally time for some baseball

4 Apr

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major league baseball season is officially upon us! while many of us are still invested in the nhl and some even in the nba (not me really), the baseball season is about to get underway.

too many people say that the game of baseball is too slow for them and they can’t watch because the games are so long but if you’re a true sports fan, then you like the game of baseball. there is just so much going on in each game and series to not care and just like every baseball season, its almost impossible to pick who is really going to win the world series. last year’s winner, the st. louis cardinals were a huge surprise throughout the regular and post seasons. and just like last year, i expect this year to be no different.

i’m not going to sit here and predict who will win the world series. things can change so much over baseball season and from game to game, that a prediction from me would be foolish. but i will tell you what i’m excited about this season and a few of the exciting things i will be watching for now until the last pitch is thrown in october.

so there’s this new guy. his name is yu darvish. he is the new japanese pitcher for the texas rangers and the hype that follows him around is everywhere. the thing about darvish is that aside from his numbers in japan and in the preseason, we really have no idea what to expect. if what they’re saying about him is true though, then i’d say, expect him to be good.

another loud story are 2 big coaching changes that occurred this offseason. both ozzie guillen (miami marlins) and bobby valentine (boston red sox) have a lot to prove. will both the red sox and the marlins be able to capitalize on their coaches or will the coaching changes hurt them. bobby valentine seems like he has only brought more hostility to the red sox franchise so it’ll be interesting to see how the team responds once the season starts.

the detroit tigers are one of the teams that have some really high standards set for them coming into the season. they signed prince fielder in the off season and already have perfect pitching in justin verlander. the major analysts haven’t picked them as the preseason #1 but they have put them in the top 5. this could be good for them. the standards for the tigers are high but not too high.

the yankee fan in me wants to say that they are the best and most exciting team to watch but obviously there are many people who think otherwise. however, i do think it’ll be interesting to see how andy petite pitches when he is back with the yankees (since he has come out of retirement) and if robinson cano can pick up where he left off last season. i would hope that again cano will be in the running this season for mvp. the yankees are a team that thrives because of their history which can be good and bad. their star players, derek jeter and alex rodriguez are aging but they do have some young guys who should be able to compliment the aging greats.

i could talk about baseball for days but i better stop while i can. obviously, i have left many teams off and ignored others, but i have a whole baseball season ahead of me. more posts about the 2012 mlb season to come.