Well, the majors has lost one of the few truly good guys of the game.
Ken Griffey, Jr has said goodbye.
From the days of being known as The Kid to days where he was accused of falling asleep like an old man, Griffey has always been a fan favorite.
As a midwest and east guy for my entire life, my experience with teh REAL Griffey has been rather limited. I say REAL as in, the Griffey who terrified pitchers and gave fans in the outfield seats souvenirs left and right.
His time in Cincinnati was marred by injuries, and many–including myself–questioned why the guy would leave a great situation in Seattle for the inconsistent Reds.
I’ll always remember his fun side. He seemed to always have a smile on his face, which made his “acting” in the movie LITTLE BIG LEAGUE such a riot because he tried to come off as if he were some serious, arrogant superstar. It was totally against type, which is probably why he agreed to play the part.
Last season he seemed able to offer the Mariners something at the plate. This year, not so much. The rumors about Griffey might be true, but they do not erase at all the incredible career he has had.
He was never a guy caught up in the steroids scandals that have rocked baseball of late, and that is something right there that makes him a guy anybody could root for.
Cooperstown will be calling soon as he is sure to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
You can take a nap now, Kid.
You’ve earned it.
The Rays’ Single-A team, the Charlotte Stone Crabs, are in the final game of their championship series. They beat the Tampa Yankees 3-1 tonight to force a decisive Game 5.
Ok, ok, I know it isn’t MLB. But right now this is the most compelling story in the Rays organization, so deal.
A win Wednesday night would mean that the Rays franchise would get another championship under its belt (to go with those from Durham and the AL Championship last season with the MLB club) and maybe give Rays fans something to be proud of.
Not that we are disappointed with our Big Show guys, but, well…
I am sure that one guy who will be rooting hard for a Stone Crabs win tomorrow night is this one right here.
After all, he IS the owner!
No doubt Mr. Ripken will be ecstatic to see his club win it all in its inaugural season.
Game 5 will take place at 7:05 at picturesque Charlotte Sports Park–a great place to catch a ballgame.
And imagine this, tickets are still available!
Ok, that is a little tongue-in-cheek but I did a search and was tantalized by Row 1 tickets directly behind home plate for the game. Hmmmm…do I have the guts to buy ’em?
90 minutes each way.
Work on Thursday.
Either way, tomorrow night will be fun.
Be sure to tune in on the Stone Crabs’ website for free online radio streaming. That’s how I’ve been keeping up with the team.
They have some serious talent there. One guy I’m sure we’ll see in a Rays uni soon is a pitcher named David Newman. He has logged 2 wins in the playoffs against no losses and has thrown some serious baseball. He got the win tonight in a must-win game. Those are the kinds of kids we need with the big club. He won’t be there for a while, but it’ll be cool when he arrives.
So if you need a break from $20 million dollar men (and who doesn’t?), tune in to the game.
Go Ra–er–Stone Crabs!
Painful. Just painful.
The Rays left the friendly confines of Tropicana Field last Thursday ready to find a way to climb back into the fight. To take the wild card spot away from those blasted Red Sox. To start their run to the postseason.
In the news that day everything from The Sporting News to The Tampa Tribune was calling the Rays a surging team that was about to make that run we have been waiting for.
Apparently the beautiful weather of the West somehow cooled the Rays white hot squad.
Terrible West Coast
It was as ugly playing baseball in the West as the smog-plagued LA skyline: hard to tell what was going on, impossible to put fingers on landmark issues, and overall chokingly bad.
Almost as bad at that forced metaphor.
After losing today’s game to the Angels, the Rays will travel back to St. Pete for a 3-game weekend series with the Toronto Blue Jays. Their return is both welcome and full of disappointment.
The Rays left the Bay Area a mere 1 1/2 games out of the wild card spot. A spot that the Red Sox were doing everything to give away. The Rays and Texas Rangers were only too happy to oblige taking it.
The Rangers continued to snap at the spot, while the Rays had other plans.
After enduring a 1-5 West Coast swing–YES I SAID 1-5 RECORD IN THEIR LAST 6 GAMES!!!–the Rays now find themselves 4 games out of the final playoff spot and searching for answers.
Why can’t we hit?
Why can’t we pitch?
Why can’t we field?
Where’s our clutch hitting and our timely pitching?
There don’t seem to be any answers out there right now. Only results.
Friday: L 7-6
Saturday: W 10-4
Sunday: L 11-2
Monday: L 8-7
Tuesday: L 6-0
Wednesday: L 10-4
It’s like reading an autopsy report replete with all the gory pictures.
Today’s Problem Inning: The 7th
If you have read any of my past posts, you know that it seems the Rays get hit in the forehead with one 2-by-4 of an inning almost every game. Sometimes they are able to weather the storm and hang on to a win, sometimes they fall down, knocked cold.
Today they fell.
Jeff Nieman had already endured the disappointment of losing the lead of a game he could have won when Grant Balfour gave up a 3-run dinger to Gary Matthews, Jr. in the 6th.
That gave the Angels a 5-4 lead.
In the top of the 7th, Jason Bartlett led off with a double. He would end that part of the inning standing on second.
The bottom of the 7th was entertaining–in a comical kind of way.
Reliable Randy Choate entered the game and promptly gave up two consecutive singles. After a groundout moved both runners to 2nd and 3rd, he intentionally walked Vlad Guerrero.
Then, as I have said so often about the 7th inning before, and also said to my friend at Julia’s Rants this morning, it all fell apart.
A groundout into the hole at SS led to Jason Bartlett making a little league throw (actually, that insults little leaguers) to Evan Longoria at 3B that ended up being more towards the Angels dugout than anything.
Two runs scored there.
Angels up 7-4.
Choate departed in favor of Dan Wheeler. Check out what Wheeler has done before in the 7th.
Wheels got a groundout before presenting Howie Kendrick with a gift of a fastball that the latter batter flung out to deep left field.
In a snap, the game was 10-4 Angels.
Oh, and in a snap, the game was pretty much over.
Lots of teams from the East go through rough trips to the West. Don’t know why. I listened to Dewayne Staats and Kevin Kennedy debate why the Rays were so much off their game.
–Taking in the sights
–Too much time at the beach
–Strange time zone
–Sun baked brains (ok, they didn’t say this last one)
Whatever the reason, the Rays absolutely stunk on this trip. Winning 1 out of 6 games will not get you to the playoffs.
It’ll get you an early fishing trip in October.
(I’m going to watch Jaws tonight, my fave flik)
I know that the Mariners are a surging team and that the Angels are one of the best.
But the Rays were SUPPOSED to be a surging team too. And, last I checked, the defending AL Champions should be one of the best too.
Maybe neither of those are true.
Maybe their brains really were sunbaked.
Time to get into the shade of the Trop and take out our frustrations on the Blue Jays.
Forget the West.
The first post I put out a few days ago was only to rate the trades that occurred on Friday, the trading deadline day.
However, I got a few e-mails asking me why I left out one trade or the other. They got me to thinking….why NOT go through the notable trades from the trading deadline and just before?
I enjoyed arguing with some of you through comments and e-mail about what you thought of some of the trades. Good times…
This post might be more for me than anybody since I LOVE trades and how they affect teams. I think they are something that is utilized by baseball better than any other sport and is part of the reason why this game is so grand.
Again, I’m primarily looking at the team that is the bigger part of the deal, though in some cases I grade both teams.
So without further adieu….here is part deux.
Deal: Reds trade Edwin Encarcion et al to the Blue Jays for Scott Rolen
Analysis: It seemed that Encarnacion never really got it going in Cincinnati. He hit a load of dingers last year, but the average the last few years was never really what Dusty Baker wanted (.209 in 2009). I don’t see him being the 3B of the future for the Jays, unfortunately. However, from what I’ve read about the two young pitchers who were also sent to the Jays, the real value might be there. These two pitchers might make an impact on Toronto this season, which would make the Jays winners here. The Reds get an aging 3B who might be able to help out a little next year. While the Reds play in a strong offensive park, the fact is that Rolen is 34 and has seen his best years pass him by.
Grade: Reds–C+ Jays–B+
Deal: Jerry Hairston, Jr. to the Yankees for a Single-A catcher
Analysis: This just doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. Of course, the Rays are notorious for making the “not a big deal” trades that end up getting them a bunch of wins. Maybe the Yankees have been taking notes. They already went into the Rays’ playbook to make a deal for Eric Hinske earlier in the year, after all. Hairston, Jr. has speed and versatility. For those reasons he might be a nice guy to have on a team. A National League team. I don’t see him helping the Yanks out too much. Then again, New York didn’t give up much, either.
Deal: Brewers deal to get Claudio Vargas from the Dodgers
Analysis: The Brewers needed a starter. A good starter. They needed somebody to help them contend with the Cubs, Cardinals, and, suddenly, the Astros. Instead they dealt for a bullpen guy in LA who they actually had not that long ago and dumped because of his ineffectiveness. They didn’t give up much, but they didn’t get much, either.
Deal: Cubs get John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny from Pirates
Analysis: This is a case where I think both teams won out. The Pirates got a young hurler in Kevin Hart and a strong piece of the bullpen in Jose Ascanio. The Cubs needed a starter in Gorzelanny (he’ll start this week) to fill in for Ted Lilly and they needed a strong lefty in the ‘pen in Grabow who will take the place of the Tommy John-bit Neal Cotts. Grabow will complement Sean Marshall in the bullpen and add some stability to a shakey group.
Grade: A for both teams (especially because of the mad kung fu skills of Gorzelanny)
Deal: Royals get Josh Anderson from the Tigers
Analysis: This guy was got for cash. That’s it. Typically these deals are non-issues. This one fits in with that characterization. So why are we talking about it?
Grade: Who cares?
Deal: The Giants get Freddy Sanchez from the Pirates
Analysis: The Pirates are becoming to be old hat in these trade discussions. With that said, the Bucs are doing the right thing. Sanchez was scheduled to make $8 mill next year. That’s too rich for a team with so many holes. I was hoping that the Rays would get this guy–he’s one of my faves–so that they could move Ben Zobrist’s rocket arm and huge bat to right field. Alas, not to be. This move will probably lead to the Giants releasing Rich Aurelia and his salary. Sanchez will help the Giants. The Pirates got a pitcher in Tim Alderson who will help them–in the future.
Deal: Phillies land Cliff Lee from Indians
Analysis: C’mon, do we have to talk about this one? I was hoping the Rays might get active here, and they were, but not as active as the Series champs. They got Lee, gave up some guys they’ll miss, and promptly saw him throw a complete game shutout. ‘Nuff said.
Deal: Mariners get Jack Wilson from Pirates for a bunch o’ guys
Analysis: The M’s got the shortstop they had hoped they had in Yuniesky Betancourt. When they realized Betancourt was a flop defensively, they shipped him to Kansas City–where he’s struggled. Wilson is a solid piece of the future puzzle for the M’s and will get them some wins in the future. The guys the Pirates got will be helpful, but not too helpful right away. Ronny Cedeno is flopping right now and catcher Jeff Clement was not sparking the way the Mariners wanted. I thought that the addition of Clement might lead to the Bucs moving Ryan Doumit–to the Rays. Not so. Oh well.
Grade: Mariners–B+ Pirates–B
Deal: White Sox get Mark Kotsay, Red Sox get Brian Anderson
Analysis: No doubt, the White Sox won this trade–right now. The White Stockings got a premiere pinch hitter who can play almost any corner position. He is a veteran who can fit in immediately with is new team and pay dividends as they push for October. The Red Stockings got a supreme underachiever in Anderson. He might develop, though, into a guy who might be the utility outfielder Rocco Baldelli is supposed to be. With JD Drew on his way out (c’mon, folks, he’s hurt, like, ALL THE TIME) this might be a good add–next year.
Grade: White Sox–B+ Red Sox–B+ (potentially)
Deal: Giants get Ryan Garko for Single-A pitcher
Analysis: Garko was a fan fave in Cleveland, but he was going to be up for big money in the off season. So he was shipped. He was taking playing time away from guys the Indians really wanted to see and they did not view him as a piece of the future. He has a gift for being offensive–in a good way–and should help the Giants offense get going. The guy Cleveland got will be good two years from now. That’s something to be happy about in Clevelend–and there isn’t much these days. However, the move will give more AB’s to superstar-in-the-making Matt LaPorta
Deal: Matt Holliday goes to St. Louis
Analysis: Waste of time to talk about. He’s hitting .529!!!
Grade: A+ (and it sickens me to say that)
Sorry if the pics got a little weird there at times. I’m as distracted by the strange moments of our favorite sport as anybody.
I think that runs down most of the more notable trades that have occurred the last few weeks (and a couple of not-so-notable trades).
I think that this time of year is the most captivating of any sport out there. Teams are fighting for division titles. Others are scrambling for wildcard berths. Franchises are deciding whether to buy or sell. Squads are scouting for both this and next year–and with a do-or-die attitude.
It’s just great.
And the waiver-wire trades are going to get going soon too. Teams have to make waiver deals before August 30th if they want that guy to be eligible for the post season.
And the countdown begins.
And if anybody asks me about the Julio Lugo deal……..