The Chicago Cubs wrap up their dreadful season this weekend against an even worse Houston Astros squad at the Friendly Confines.
The Cubs are at 60-99 and the Astros are at 53-106. That's right the two worst teams in baseball. Why would anyone want to see these teams play? That's probably why two tickets on StubHub are for sale at $0.19.
As Red Sox fans know, this season has been, for lack of a better word, a disappointment. A huge disappointment. From upper management to coaches to the players, the Sox need some major shakeups and I have some ideas that maybe Mr. Lucchino should listen to.
1. Fire Bobby Valentine and bring in a player's manager
The hiring of Bobby V to run the Sox was mixed. Some people thought it was a good move to bring in a disciplinarian, while some thought Bobby V's track record was less than stellar to run a franchise of this caliber. The fact is this: Bobby V has been a HUGE failure in Boston and it is time for a change. The Sox should take a look at former Astros manager Brad Mills who was Terry Francona's right hand man and was a much liked figure in Boston. Another person to take a look at is the Rays' bench coach Dave Martinez, who has helped Joe Maddon turn a once hapless Rays organization into a playoff contender. Martinez is also a young coach who can better relate to an increasing younger Red Sox team.
2. The ownership group needs to focus on Red Sox and not Liverpool
John Henry and company has seemlingly been less and less involved with the team since its acquisition of Liverpool FC in 2010. Liverpool has the same problems the Sox have, both have overppaid for players and both teams have underachieved. The owners need to figure out which team they need to focus more on or both the Red Sox and Liverpool FC will continue to fail.
3. Sign Melky Cabrera
This may seem like a risky move, but the Red Sox should take a look at suspended outfielder Melky Cabrera. I still believe he is a talented player and he wouldn't command as much money as he would have before the suspension. Ryan Kalish is not the long term solution for the Sox and Cabrera's signing would be a low risk, high reward, something the Red Sox have had success in the past.
4. Ignore the temptation to sign Zack Greinke
Zack Greinke would be a great pickup for the Sox and their much maligned pitching staff, but Cherington shouldn't take the bait. Greinke is going to be commanding top dollar and rightfully so, but, after the money the Sox freed up, they shouldn't waste all of it on one player. Instead the Sox should sign solid middle of the road veterans who can mesh well with the younger Sox players.
5. Re-sign Cody Ross
The 2012 season wasn't entirely bad. We discovered that Cody Ross can be a great player in Boston. Ross has been the MVP on an otherwise infelicitous Red Sox team. He has hit .270, 21 dingers, and driven in 77 runs and has certainly put a disconcerting 2011 season behind him. Outside of Josh Hamilton, there really isn't much better on the free agent market, so you might as well keep a player that has performed very well for you.
The Sugar Land Skeeters have agreed to sign 50 year old and seven time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens, according to FOX26 in Houston.
Clemens worked out today and he reached 87 MPH on the radar gun. FOX26 also reports that Clemens will start for the Skeeters on Saturday against the Bridgeport Bluefish.
The Skeeters are based out of the Houston area where Clemens spent three years pitching for the Astros. The Skeeters are managed by former All-Star Gary Gaetti and the team has had former MLB players Scott Kazmir, Jason Lane, and Tim Redding play for them this season.
It is unknown whether Clemens is seriously considering coming back or if it is just a standard independent baseball league publicity stunt.
Earlier this summer, Clemens was acquitted on all charges of perjury when the Government claimed that he lied under oath about his steroid use. Clemens claims that he did not knowingly take steroids or HGH.
Pittsburgh Pirates fans have been waiting to see top prospect Starling Marte in action. Last night, he didn't disappoint.
The young Dominican outfielder homered on the first pitch he ever saw in the Majors. He took a Dallas Keuchel cutter into the left-center field seats.
Marte knew something special was going to happen in his at bat, he told teammates in the dugout, "I told some players in the dugout before the game that if he threw a fastball down the middle I was going to take a hack at it and that’s exactly what I did."
Keuchel expected Marte to work the count considering Marte was the leadoff batter and, after all, it was his first ever at bat.
"I figured he’d take a strike to see what I got; I never thought he would hit a homer on the first pitch of the game." The young Astro pitcher said.
Marte became the first Pirate since Walter Mueller in 1922 to homer on his first big league pitch.
We continue our Year in Review, albeit a bit late, with our look at the Best Sports Moments 0f 2011.
Abby Wambach Keeps US Hopes Alive With Miracle Goal
Remember in the 2010 World Cup when Landon Donovan's goal lifted the US into the knockout round, only to lose to Ghana, GHANA!, and made Americans care about soccer for a hot minute. Well, Abby Wambach's goal in the 2011 Women's World Cup was perhaps bigger than Donovan's. If not for that goal, the US don't make it to the Finals, where they eventually lose to upstart Japan. This goal does not get nearly enough credit like Donovan's did.
Mavericks Defeat Big Three, Nation Rejoices
The Miami Heat have become the villains of the NBA ever since LeBron and Chris Bosh decided that it would just be easier to join a team of superstars to win a title rather than lead one, like Michael Jordan did. So when they reached the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, most of the US, except for a smattering of people in South Florida, were rooting for the Mavs. The Heat finally met their match going up against Dirk Nowitzki and Jason "Jet" Terry as the Mavs won the series in six games. I don't think I've been that happy during an NBA Finals since Jordan pushed off Byron Scott in the '98 Finals to give the Bulls their most recent title.
David Freese Goes From Goat To Hero In One Game
St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese had quite a postseason winning the NLCS MVP and World Series MVP, but Game 6 every baseball fan can agree was quite a roller coaster. Freese had committed an awful error in the 5th inning when he dropped a routine pop up from Michael Young. That error allowed the Rangers to score later in the inning to take a one run lead. Then in the 9th inning, Freese stepped up to the plate with two outs against a young flame throwing closer in Neftali Feliz and hits a bases clearing triple to tie the game.
After the Rangers blew a two run lead in the 11th inning, Freese once again came to the plate against Mark Lowe, perhaps the Rangers weakest reliever, and hit a bomb to dead center field to force a Game 7 that the Cards would eventually win. ESPN's Buster Olney has said that Game 6 was the greatest game in baseball history.
Eric LeGrand Leads His Team On The Field After Spinal Cord Injury
This is perhaps the most inspirational moment of the year. Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand had suffered a severe spinal cord injury while making attempting to make a tackle last season in a game against Army. Doctors said that LeGrand would be paralyzed from the neck down, but in January, LeGrand defied the odds and regained feeling in his shoulders and sensation throughout his entire body. In July, LeGrand was able to stand with some assistance and was gaining feeling back in his arms.
On October 29, Eric LeGrand led his Rutgers teammates onto a snowy field for its game against West Virginia. LeGrand sat in his wheelchair with an ax across his lap symbolizing coach Greg Schiano's message to "Keep Chopping". LeGrand has indeed taken that motto to new heights.
Tim Thomas, Tim Thomas, Tim Thomas
As a Bruins fan, I feel I need to put this down on my list of moments. Without the outstanding goaltending of Thomas, the Bruins don't win the Cup. Hands down. Sure the Bruins have great pieces around him, but without solid goaltending you can't go far. Case in point, the Philadelphia Flyers.
In the epic seven game series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Thomas was perhaps his best in Game 7. The Bruins won Game 7 by the score of 1-0 and Thomas was a huge, if not the main, reason they won that game and the series. The Lightning gave the best challenge to the Bruins all playoffs, not the Canucks. Dwayne Roloson would not back down and if the Canucks had Roloson in net, Vancouver would be hoisting the Cup not Boston. Thomas' GAA was an outstanding 1.98 and his save percentage was .940. So, yeah Tim Thomas big, huge part of the Bruins Cup run.
September 28, 2011: Greatest Night of Baseball Ever
Four teams entered the final night of the baseball regular season with two spots on the line. The Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox were trying to find a way to stop the bleeding and back their way into the postseason. The St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays were just trying to complete to epic comebacks and surprise the baseball world by making the postseason.
The Cards won rather easily over the Major's worst Houston Astros, but the other three games were of epic proportion. The Atlanta Braves blew a 9th inning lead to the Philadelphia Phillies and lost the game in extras to complete the meltdown. The Red Sox seemed to have the game locked up, at least according to Boston Globe writer Dan Shaughnessy, and all of New England was calling for the umps to call the game early due to rain, but to no avail. Papelbon ends up blowing the save when Red Sox killer Robert Andino lined a hit to left field that came up short from a diving Carl Crawford's glove. The Red Sox lost to the Orioles and were now rooting for the Yanks.
The Yankees had a SEVEN run lead in their game against the Rays, but in true Boston sports fan tradition the Rays came all the way back to tie it in the 9th inning when seldom used Dan Johnson just cleared the right field fence to tie the game. Red Sox fans should have known something was up when Joe Girardi kept one of his seldom used, worst relievers in the game for 2 and 2/3 innings and didn't use Rivera to close the game. Again in true Boston sports fans tradition, Evan Longoria launched a ball just over the left field wall and sent the Rays to the postseason and the Red Sox, and Terry Francona, packing.
I'm sure there is more, but I can't keep typing forever. If you have any more moments I should have mentioned, feel free to comment below. Have a Happy New Years, folks.
The Houston Astros will soon get a new owner and now it appears they will be in a new league in two seasons.
Houston area businessman Jim Crane was told by Major League Baseball that in order to buy the team, he must move the Astros from the National League to the American League.
Crane is said to be getting a $70 million discount from the $680 million used to buy the team for moving to the American League. With Houston's move, both the AL and NL will now have an equal 15 teams each. The most likely destination for Houston in the AL is the AL West which only has four teams, the smallest in MLB.
The Astros have been in the National League since their existence in 1962. They have also won a National League pennant in 2005, when they defeated their division rival St. Louis Cardinals in a six game series.
I was on my computer the other night "wanderclicking", the art of starting somewhere on YouTube or Wikipedia and ending in a completely different place, and came across a Coca-Cola commercial celebrating the 1993 World Champion Toronto Blue Jays, with its catchy jingle, and it led me to search out for the finish of the 1993 World Series. I had seen it before, but still is exciting to watch, and I had never noticed it before how Mitch Williams looked so dejected after Joe Carter's home run blast that made him a hero to a nation and Williams a pariah in the worst sports city in America.
Going into the 1993 World Series, Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams had just racked up a career high 43 saves as he helped lead the upstart Philadlephia Phillies to a surprising playoff berth. Williams had an unconventional pitching delivery as he almost fell down every time he threw a ball. It was odd, but it worked.
Joe Carter almost didn't play for the Jays in 1993, Carter was close to a deal with his hometown Kansas City Royals, but opted to re-sign with Toronto. Carter was an All-Star in '93 and tied a career high in RBI's with 121. However, he only hit .254 and his on base percentage was a paltry .312.
The Phillies entered the playoffs as underdogs to the mighty Atlanta Braves. Mitch Williams won Game 1 for the Phillies in relief and saved two games, including the series clinching Game 6 in Philadelphia. The Phillies had stunned the Atlanta Braves and were on their way to the World Series.
The Blue Jays faced the Chicago White Sox for the American League pennant a second straight year. The Jays eventually prevailed over the White Sox as Joe Carter caught the final out. Carter was pretty much a non-factor in the series, only driving in two runs and hitting .259.
The Blue Jays and Phillies were now to square off for the 1993 World Series. The series went back and forth through the first three games with Toronto winning Games 1 and 3 and the Phillies winning Game 2.
Game 4 was the beginning of the end for Mitch Williams. The game was full of offense with seven combined runs scored in the first inning and Philadelphia took a 14-9 lead heading into the eighth inning. Phillies manager Jim Fregosi put Williams into the game to relieve pitcher Larry Andersen and promptly gave up three runs as the Jays took a 15-14 lead that they never relinquished. Williams was the losing pitcher of that game and had received death threats phoned into Veterans Stadium. Williams, however, was not aware of the threats until Game 5.
After the Phillies shutout the Jays in Game 5, they headed North of the Border for Game 6. The Phillies took a 6-5 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth and looked like they were going to force Game 7. Williams took the mound to save the game, his first appearance since his Game 4 debacle and the notification of death threats.
Williams walked Rickey Henderson to start the inning and because of that Williams tried to counter Henderson's speed by using a side step delivery that cut down his velocity. After Devon White flied out, Paul Molitor singled to center and moved Henderson to second. Up to the plate stepped Joe Carter. Carter, who was unproductive in the World Series at this point, was 0-4 in his career versus Williams. Williams worked Carter to a 2-2 count when Carter took Williams' next pitch into the left field seats for an 8-6 win and the Jays' second World Series title.
With one swing of the bat Carter became a hero in Canada. His exuberant jumping up and down while running the bases is an iconic photo in baseball and made many memories for the province of Ontario and all of Canada. Carter became a Blue Jays legend after that, staying until 1997 and was inducted into the Blue Jays Level of Excellence at Rogers Centre, formerly SkyDome. Carter was also inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for his years with Toronto and the walk off home run.
Mitch Williams would never pitch for the Phillies after 1993. The Phillies traded him to the Houston Astros prior to the start of the 1994 season. Williams would only save six games for the Astros and bounced around from the California Angels to the Kansas City Royals after leaving Houston. He would never be the same pitcher again. Williams retired after the 1997 season after an uneventful season in Kansas City. Williams has blames himself for the World Series loss, but added that he has gotten past it.
However, he hasn't gotten past Curt Schilling's antics in the '93 Series. Schilling would cover his head in a towel whenever Williams took the mound as Schilling was always a little leery whenever Williams came into the game. Williams was offended by this, as were many of his teammates, and to this day has never forgiven Schilling for it.
You would have to wonder if Williams' career would have been changed had he not given up that home run. Philadelphia probably wouldn't have traded him and he could have been playing for more than just four more seasons. That's how life works out sometimes and you have to roll with the punches. I think Mitch Williams himself said it best when he was talking about his feelings regarding the Carter home run, "Life's a bitch. I could be digging ditches. I'm not."
The New York Yankees are ending their pursuit of free agent pitcher Roy Oswalt after expressing concern about his chronic back issues.
Oswalt has a history of back problems starting when he was with the Houston Astros. He reportedly has two degenerative discs in his lower back and was placed on the disabled list in June with back problems.
The Yankees are very scared of his past back problems leading to one insider saying that's why the Houston Astros traded him. Oswalt was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies at the 2010 trade deadline for J.A. Happ and minor leaguers. He has a record of 16-11 during his time in Philadelphia.
The Phillies declined Oswalt's option last week, most likely, because of his chronic back problems and did not want to be stuck with paying him $16 million.
The Yankees are still trying to pursue another starting pitcher this winter and are likely to make a bid for Texas Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson and Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle.
The New York Yankees are looking at free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran. Beltran, who spent last season with the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants, would replace Nick Swisher in the Bronx.
Swisher has a $10.25 million option that the Yankees must decide to pick up or decline by November 1st. The Yankees must decide whether to pick up Swisher's option or go after Beltran as they cannot have both players.
The Yankees have a list of potential right field replacements for Nick Swisher and Beltran's name is the only one publicly known. In Carlos Beltran's time in New York with the Mets, he has had up and down seasons and not living up to his contract after his breakout season with the Houston Astros in 2004.