Ken Griffey Jr. Leads Mariners to Victory

June 7, 2009 by Stephen Kersey  
Filed under Baseball

Although Ken Griffey Jr. has had his ups and downs during his return to the Seattle Mariners, he came up big on Saturday. In the eighth inning, hit a double to knock in Ichiro. That hit gave the Mariners a 2-1 lead that they would prove to be enough to beat the Minnesota Twins.

Ichiro and Ken Griffey Jr. key the Mariners victory (Image: Zuma Press)

Ichiro and Ken Griffey Jr. key the Mariners victory (Image: Zuma Press)

Griffey, who was batting cleanup, is now hitting .224 on the season with six homers and 16 RBI. He’s also scored 16 runs and has an on-base percentage of .335.

Ichiro, a day after his 27-game hitting streak came to an end, was also a hero. He went 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI. He’s now hitting .354 on the season, which is good enough to be tied for second in the American League.

With the win, the Mariners are 27-29. The loss dropped the Twins to 28-29. The two teams end their series on Sunday afternoon.

Ichiro has a 26-game Hitting Streak

June 3, 2009 by Stephen Kersey  
Filed under Baseball

To begin the season, Ichiro was in uncharted waters — the disabled list. Now that we are a couple of months in the the baseball season, Ichiro is at the top of his game.

By getting two hits in five at-bats on Tuesday against the Baltimore Orioles, Ichiro extended his hitting streak to 26 games. That’s not only his career-best streak, it’s also the best streak in the history of the Mariners.

Ichiro's Hitting Streak -- How Long Can He Last? (Image: Zuma Press)

Ichiro's Hitting Streak -- How Long Can He Last? (Image: Zuma Press)

The 35-year-old native of Japan is now hitting .355 and has five homers, 16 RBI and 21 runs. His batting average is the second highest of his MLB career, trailing only the .372 average he had in 2004.

With help from Ichiro, the Mariners were able to defeat the Orioles on Tuesday by a final count of 8-2. The Mariners got homers from Russell Branyan and Ken Griffey, Jr. and a strong outing from starting pitcher Erik Bedard to improve their record to 25-28.

Could baseball’s fastest man challenge Usain Bolt?

August 22, 2008 by Tony Baldwin  
Filed under Baseball

New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes running the bases
Is New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes the fastest player in Major League Baseball?
Photo: Newscom

Baseball speed is usually measured in the 60-yard dash and the sprint from home to first. However, some players are called “fast” for stealing bases, covering ground in the field and having great base running ability. But, who’s the fastest? Did you ever wonder if any of the current MLB players would challenge Usain Bolt in a race? Well, it’s time for the 2008 MLB Track Olympics. Here are 16 guys that could give him a run for his money.

If Bud Selig decided to hold a MLB’s Fastest Man competition, there would be several players that would come to mind: Ichiro, Willy Taveras, Jose Reyes, etc… However, what if you lined them up on a track. No baseball uniforms and no batting helmets or gloves. Which speedy baseball player would come out on top?

My ideal 100-meter lineup would be comprised of two heats. Here are the competitors for heat number one: Read more

Thursday 10 - Worst Major League Baseball teams of 2008

June 12, 2008 by Tony Baldwin  
Filed under Baseball

There’s no doubt that 2008 has been a crazy and unpredictable season so far. Some teams are rising to the occasion, while others are completely bombing. So today on the ‘Thursday 10′ I bring to you the Top 10 Worst Major League Baseball Teams of 2008. This list probably won’t be very controversial. It’s almost impossible to argue about any of the teams making this list. Also - as a follow-up to this list - next week I’ll be bringing you the Top 10 Worst Players of 2008. So - you won’t want to miss that!

Here it is:

Top 10 Worst Major League Baseball Teams of 2008

10. Houston Astros - Sure, many experts didn’t expect the Astros to compete in the National League Central this season. Mainly because of the Astros’ suspect starting pitching rotation. After you get past Roy Oswalt - it was expected that Houston was in trouble. Well - unfortunately, even with Oswalt on the mound this season, Houston is having problems. If it weren’t for Lance Berkman, the ‘Stros could already be in the NL Central cellar. However, Berkman’s offensive numbers have helped keep Houston in the middle of the division so far. Yet, the Astros are falling fast and could drop far enough out of contention before the All-Star break even makes it here.

9. Cincinnati Reds - The Reds are the worst team in the NL Central. Even super rookie Jay Bruce hasn’t been able to right the ship. However, the Reds will not finish in the cellar this season, but don’t expect a playoff run either. The problem with the Reds is plain-and-simple. No pitching. Sure, Edinson Volquez is having a great season, but what about the rest of the staff? How about looking at earned run averages that are all above 4.30. Three of the other four starters have ERA’s above five, including Matt Belisle, who boasts a 7.28 ERA. Combined, the entire Cincinnati staff has a 4.54 ERA.

8. San Diego Padres - If it were not for the great pitching by the Padres, San Diego would be the worst team in baseball. San Diego’s offense is struggling. Coming into Thursday, the Padres had score less runs that everyone in the National League, except the Washington Nationals. At 3.6 runs per game - you are expecting a lot out of your pitching staff. The Padres pitching staff has done a good job this season, keeping this team out of the NL West cellar, however, the entire offense boasts only one hitter with a .300 batting average. As a team, San Diego is batting .243 overall and has struck out 528 times (7.9 per game) this season. If only Jake Peavy could hit like Micah Owings (or any of the offensive player could hit like Ownings for that matter).

7. New York Mets - Surprised? I am. This team should not be on this list. Not with the players they have on their current roster. Sure, if the Mets don’t get into contention anytime soon with the hot Florida Marlins, you can bet Willie Randolph’s days will be numbered. Before we go on and blame this underachieving season on injuries - I will say that the Mets have been playing a little better lately. However, it’s still not good enough to be the team everyone expected them to be before the 2008 season began. Only one .300 hitter (with over 100 at bats) is on the roster (Ryan Church). This team seemed to be lifted by the return of none other than Fernando Tatis, but even he can’t help out that much. The problem is too many players on the offensive end that are just trying to get through another season. Carlos Delgado is getting old. Carlos Beltran is not the big-money player everyone thought he was in the 2005 playoffs. Even David Wright is not putting up the best numbers right now. With the best pitcher in baseball (Johan Santana) and a couple of the best young stars (Wright and Jose Reyes), this team needs to get things together, and quick.

6. Washington Nationals - Do you remember opening night (well, opening night in the United States) this season on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball? The Nationals started Odalis Perez and won the game on a walk-off home run by Ryan Zimmerman. Nats fans were celebrating the opening of their new ballpark with a bang. Well - that’s ages ago (at least it seems like). Now, the Nationals are the worst team in the NL East. The team batting average is .234 and the pitching staff has combined for a 4.56 ERA. Skipper Manny Acta is in for a long season. The Nationals just don’t have the star power to really put up much of a fight this year and most likely will end up with the worst record in the National League.

5. Kansas City Royals - Much like the Nationals, the Royals started out the year looking like a .500 ball club. However, things change fast. Kansas City has slipped to the bottom of the American League Central, even below the woeful Detroit Tigers. The Royals are just too young across the board to even compete. The offense is churning out only 3.7 runs per game, while the pitching staff is allowing 4.8 runs per game. Manager Trey Hillman is in a race, but it’s not for the divisional lead. He’s in a race to keep his job and he seems to be losing. The only question is whether Hillman or Seattle Mariners manager John McLaren gets the ax first.

4. New York Yankees - Yes, I know the Yankees are .500 now. Congratulations. It seems that the order of the universe is almost restored, Hank. Except, it’s not. New York is at the bottom of the AL East, tied with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles. They are chasing the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays. Never thought you would hear that one, right? The Yankees seem to be that team that just can’t catch a break this year. Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada have all caught the injury bug at one time or another this year. And the pitching staff is in shambles. Joba Chamberlain was supposed to be inserted into the rotation to help stop the bleeding, but he hasn’t really taken off in that role. I doubt anyone in New York would have guessed that Mike Mussina would be the owner of the best ERA in the starting rotation (3.82). Now - if the Yanks want to catch the Red Sox or even the Rays, they need to start clicking right now. They can’t wait until after the All-Star break. They need to get momentum going into the All-Star break and begin putting together 4-5 game win streaks regularly.

3. Detroit Tigers - Like the Yankees, the Tigers had high expectations. Many thought they would see a Tigers-Yankees AL championship series. However, that idea is in danger. The Tigers acquired Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera prior to the season with hopes of having one of the best offensive lineups in the league. Yet, Cabrera hasn’t produced and Willis has been shipped down to the minors. The entire pitching staff is having problems this season. Justin Verlander hasn’t been dominating and his velocity has slipped. The Tigers’ best pitcher was brought up to take Willis’ spot in the rotation early on in the season (Armando Galarraga). Yes, Detroit has had many injuries. But, give me a good reason why they are just above the AL Central cellar. I don’t think anyone can really explain it.

2. Seattle Mariners - The Mariners recognize that they are not doing well this year. However, they are playing the blame game. The pitching staff is complaining that catcher Kenji Johjima’s pitch selection is leading to the sixth-worst ERA in the majors this season. Management decided to blame hitting coach Jeff Pentland for the fourth-worst batting average in the majors (.247) and fired him. How does the acquisition of Erik Bedard look now? Bedard is 4-4 with a 4.26 ERA. Not exactly ace-like numbers. On the offensive side of things, not one player (not even Ichiro) is hitting over the .300 mark. Skipper John McLaren better pack his bags and keep them packed. He’s the next to go.

Colorado Rockies outfielder Matt Holliday
Matt Holliday and the entire Colorado Rockies team are heading for the worst record in baseball if things don’t change quick.
Photo: Newscom

1. Colorado Rockies - How do you go from winning the NL pennant a year ago to being the worst team in the NL the very next season? I’m not sure how it happened, but things are not looking up for the Rockies. Now - looking at the Rockies stats, they aren’t the worst in the league. However, they aren’t the best either. Colorado is near the bottom in ERA (4.74) and close to the middle in batting average (.256). It’s been the slow starts by many of the offensive players that have really hampered the Rockies. Matt Holliday is hitting .314 but only has eight home runs. Todd Helton is hitting .294 and Troy Tulowitzki has been really slow to get going this season with a .193 average. No one has expected the Rockies pitching staff to ever be the best in the league, especially pitching in the thin air. However, outside of Aaron Cook (9-2), no Rockies pitcher has over two wins. I think it’s safe to say that there will not be a repeat appearance in the World Series for the Rockies this season.

Jackie Robinson: The Most Important Ballplayer to Ever Play the Game

April 15, 2008 by Jim Walker  
Filed under Baseball

Now before everybody goes crazy, misinterpreting the title of this, let me just clear something up: I’m not saying he was the best to ever play the game. That debate can rage on for all time, though personally you’re wrong if you say anybody else but Mickie Mantle (I kid… or do I?). I am saying that, for what he did for the game of baseball and for Major League Baseball as an organization, Jackie Robinson was the single most important individual to ever play the game of baseball. I don’t feel I have to explain why, because if you watched a single baseball game tonight, you are well aware.

What Robinson did for the game of baseball simply cannot be measured. Without Robinson, names like Pujols, Rodriguez, Gonzalez, Sheffield, and Ichiro would probably mean nothing to you. Without Robinson, the Hall of Fame would lack some of the greatest to ever play the game: Bob Gibson, Willie Mays, and Roberto Clemente come to mind immediately. No, what Jackie Robinson did for the game of baseball, and in a larger perspective, for the advancement of civil rights in the United States cannot be measured by any man. In recent years, MLB has adopted a new tradition on Jackie Robinson Day, where players are allowed to wear the number #42. While I love this idea, Major League Baseball has handled the tradition’s implementation poorly.

330 players (including nine entire teams) wore #42 today. While I’m happy to see so many players wanting to honor Robinson, this is simply over-saturation. If I were running things in Major League Baseball, I would handle this far differently than Bud Selig. First, and foremost, the only team that should be allowed to have their whole roster wear #42 is (naturally) the Dodgers. Of course, in a perfect world the team would also have to play their game in Brooklyn on that day, but one step at a time. Secondly, ONLY ONE representative from each team NOT named the Dodgers would be allowed the number for the day. Also, the player in question would not be a white player. No offense to all the white folks reading this (I’m a white guy, myself), but there is just something unfitting about a white player wearing #42 on Jackie Robinson day. If I’m alone in this sentiment, I’ll shut up about it.

If you want to go the other way with this, then have every player on every team wear #42. This way you at least have some kind of uniformity with the celebration.

Regardless, today was about Jackie Robinson, and just as baseball has done with this day every year since I can remember, they have handled the celebration with honor and grace.

*Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

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