Articles By Charlie Miller

Path: /mlb/new-york-mets-mt-rushmore
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MLB Mt. Rushmores

by Charlie Miller

We believe that all MLB teams should have their own Mt. Rushmores. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple. Even two guys sitting in a bar can figure that out, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.

New York Mets Mt. Rushmore
A franchise seemingly known for tough times as much as good times has 23 winning seasons in its 50-year history. Of the seven times the Mets reached the postseason, two of those experiences were simply amazing. The 1969 season, in which the Mets won 100 games en route to a World Series title, came after eight seasons of futility. Prior to 1969, the Mets escaped the cellar in the 10-team National League just twice, with a high-water mark of 73 wins. Most fans remember the unbelievable fashion in which the Mets overcame desperate odds to win the 1986 World Series. A simple Mookie Wilson ground ball to first became one of the most memorable plays in baseball history. Tom Seaver is the only clear choice for the Mets’ Mt. Rushmore. The arguments — which offer the toughest decisions of any team yet — may begin right….now.

Tom Seaver
Tom Terrific was that and more for 11-plus seasons as a Met. During his first tenure, Seaver was named Rookie of the Year, won three Cy Young awards and finished second one year. He won three ERA titles, two wins titles and five strikeout titles. His 198 wins and 2.57 ERA are easily the best in Mets history.

Dwight Gooden
Doc is second to Seaver is most every significant pitching category for the Mets, buoyed by his magical 1985 season in which he posted a 24-4 record, a 1.53 ERA and 268 strikeouts. That was his lone Cy Young award, but he finished in the top five three other times. He finished with 157 wins, 23 shutouts and a 3.10 ERA with the Mets.

David Wright 
Currently the face of the franchise, Wright is first all-time in hits, runs, total bases, doubles, RBIs, extra-base hits and second in average. The third baseman has been a model professional, through good times and bad in New York.

Davey Johnson
New York finished last or next-to-last 15 times in the franchise’s first 22 seasons. Then manager Davey Johnson arrived and the team finished either first or second in each of his seven years at the helm. That is the only seven-year stretch of winning seasons in team history. An extremely close call with Darryl Strawberry and Mike Piazza, but years down the road — if not now — fans will be more proud to call Johnson their own.

Close Calls
The franchise leader in home runs and RBIs, Darryl Strawberry was Rookie of the Year and finished second and third in MVP voting during his eight-season tenure in Flushing. Tough to leave him off.

One of the best catchers of all-time, Mike Piazza spent seven-plus seasons in New York and hit .296 with 220 home runs in 972 games. He hit one of the most dramatic home runs in Shea Stadium history as baseball returned after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

The franchise leader in hits and games played is original Met Ed Kranepool, who played in 1962 at age 17. He became the everyday first baseman in 1965 at age 20 and made the All-Star team. The Bronx native played all of his 18 seasons for the Mets, getting a pinch-hit double off Bob Forsch in his final at-bat in 1979.

Gil Hodges was the manager who took the Amazin’ Mets to the promised land in 1969.

The architect of the great teams of the 1980s, Frank Cashen, deserves credit for making the Mets relevant again after several lackluster seasons.

John Franco is the all-time leader with 276 saves.

Best Current Player
Beyond Wright, it will most likely be a pitcher if a current player proves himself worthy of Mt. Rushmore. Matt Harvey, and perhaps Zack Wheeler, are the most promising.

 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him Charlie.Miller@AthlonSports.com
 

Other teams' Mt. Rushmores:

American LeagueNational League
Baltimore OriolesArizona Diamondbacks
Boston Red SoxAtlanta Braves
Chicago White SoxChicago Cubs
Cleveland IndiansCincinnati Reds
Detroit TigersColorado Rockies
Houston AstrosMiami Marlins
Kansas City RoyalsLos Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles AngelsMilwaukee Brewers
Minnesota TwinsNew York Mets
New York YankeesPhiladelphia Phillies
Oakland A'sPittsburgh Pirates
Seattle MarinersSan Diego Padres
Tampa Bay RaysSan Francisco Giants
Texas RangersSt. Louis Cardinals
Toronto Blue JaysWashington Nationals

Teaser:
<p> Tom Seaver is the only clear choice for the Mets’ Mt. Rushmore. The arguments — which offer the toughest decisions of any team yet — may begin right….now.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 4, 2011 - 03:46
Path: /mlb/greatest-world-series-game-ever-played
Body:

Was last night’s Game 6 the greatest World Series game ever? Tough to say. After all, the World Series has been played 107 times now.

I wasn’t alive for the 1960 World Series, but that Game 7 was pretty wild. I remember staying up late and seeing the Carlton Fisk home run in 1975. I watched Reggie hit his three home runs in a row in 1977. The Kirk Gibson home run was magnificent, but it wasn’t in an elimination game; we all knew there would be a Game 2. The 2001 World Series was littered with great moments and unlikely heroes with a dramatic Game 7.

But 20 years ago last night, the 1991 World Series ended in epic fashion. I maintain that the 1991 Series was the best I saw. Game 7 was tense from the first pitch through the 10th inning. It was winner-take-all, no tomorrow. It certainly didn’t hurt that the 1991 affair was preceded by four one-run games, three won on walk-offs that enhanced the drama.

John Smoltz pitched brilliantly for 7.1 innings, Jack Morris for 10. Morris retired the Braves in order in both the ninth and 10th innings to give the Twins a chance. Dan Gladden led off the tenth with a double off Alejandro Pena, which was the difference-making at-bat.

That game, 20 years ago, was a well-played game on both sides, with one baserunning lapse by Lonnie Smith that could have made the difference.

But last night’s game?

Last night’s game was like putting Bill Buckner’s error, Joe Carter’s home run, Carlton Fisk’s home run, Luis Gonzalez’s blooper off the fist, Tony Fernandez’s misplay, Curt Flood’s misstep, Babe Ruth getting thrown out stealing second and Edgar Renteria’s hit all in one game. There were three Series-ending home runs — or at least thought to be at the time — hit by Texas. Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz and certainly Josh Hamilton all had potential game-winning home runs. It just so happened that none of them held up. The Cardinals made three errors that should have cost them the game. The Rangers returned the favor with a couple of their own.

There’s no doubt last night’s game cannot be matched for sheer drama and suspense. But until the eighth inning, it wasn’t a well-played game and left both teams — well, the Texas Rangers — kicking themselves over missed opportunities.

Pitchers were at the plate with the game on the line. Derek Holland got an out with the bases loaded to preserve a one-run lead to save the game in the sixth inning. At least 20 different players were involved in game-deciding plays. And that may have been just from the eighth inning on.

I was only a year old when the National League pennant wasn’t decided until the final day of the season in 1964, but I can’t imagine any more exciting baseball over 30 days than what we’ve witnessed since the final day of the regular season. Tonight will be the 38th of a possible 41 postseason games this year. That’s an incredible run for baseball.

The Braves and Red Sox were comfortably in as wild card teams until the Cardinals and Rays refused to die on their deathbeds. St. Louis upset the Phillies, winning an epic Game 5 in the NLDS, then defeated the best home team in the majors twice in their park to win the NLCS. And down to their last strike twice, the Cardinals managed to keep breathing while many of their fans may not have been.

I love Game 7s more than any other game in sports — more than the Super Bowl, more than the Final Four. But Game 7 tonight may not be able to live up to what we witnessed last night.

Incredible. And just for the record, I would have been disappointed if Joe Buck hadn’t honored his father with “We’ll see you tomorrow night.”

Teaser:
<p> Where does Game 6 rank among the best World Series games of all-time?</p>
Post date: Friday, October 28, 2011 - 06:53
Path: /mlb/cleveland-indians-mt-rushmore
Body:

MLB Mt. Rushmores

by Charlie Miller

We believe that all MLB teams should have their own Mt. Rushmores. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple. Even two guys sitting in a bar can figure that out, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.

Cleveland Indians Mt. Rushmore
The Cleveland franchise — known as the Blues, Bronchos and Naps before settling on Indians in 1915 — has played 111 seasons. While they have finished with a winning record 60 times, the Indians have just 10 postseason appearances, and seven of those have come since 1995, in the wild card era. The team suffered through long dry spells in which it was a habitual cellar dweller in the American League. Perhaps the most notable disappointment came in 1987. After winning 84 games in 1986 and finishing above .500 for just the fourth time since 1969, the year the league expanded into divisions, Sports Illustrated touted the Indians as favorites to win the American League in 1987. The Indians lost a league-worst 101 games that season. There have been just four managers in team history to last as many as seven years at the helm. Two, Tris Speaker and Lou Boudreau, were Hall of Fame player-managers. The others were Mike Hargrove, who led the team to two World Series appearances in the 1990s, and Eric Wedge. Heroes in recent seasons haven’t stuck around long enough to post impressive career numbers with the team, so there’s no need to look past Hall of Famers when selecting the names for the Indians Mt. Rushmore.

Bob Feller
The fireballer who made his major league debut at age 17 is the closest player to Mr. Indian. Feller was a part of the 1948 team that won the World Series, and was 13-3 on the 1954 team that won 111 games. He missed three full seasons from age 23 to 25, and part of another season due to military service. He led the American League in wins six times, ERA once and strikeouts seven times. He won 266 games, all of them coming in a Cleveland uniform. He once had 10 consecutive seasons with more wins than home runs allowed.

Earl Averill
Averill made his major league debut at age 27 after signing his first professional contract with San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League at age 24. The center fielder ranks first on the Indians all-time list in runs, RBIs and total bases. He finished in the top four in MVP balloting on three occasions. He was a member of the first seven American League All-Star teams — the only outfielder named to the first six — and collected more than 1,900 hits for the Tribe and drove in more than 1,000 runs and scored more than 1,100. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975, and his number 3 has been retired by the team.

Nap Lajoie
Lajoie joined Cleveland early in the 1902 campaign and batted .379 that season. During the 13 seasons the Hall of Fame second baseman spent in Cleveland, he collected 2,046 hits and drove in 919 runs despite hitting only 33 home runs during the Dead Ball era. With a .339 average in Cleveland, he won three batting titles and an RBI crown. Lajoie is the all-time leader in hits for Cleveland. He along with Tris Speaker and Cy Young were the three players in the second Hall of Fame class in 1937. He was a player/manager from 1905-09.

Tris Speaker
Although he spent much of his Hall of Fame career elsewhere, Speaker ranks second on the Cleveland all-time lists in batting average, runs, hits and total bases. He played just 11 of his 22 major league seasons with the Indians, and seven of those seasons were spent as player-manager. In eight of his 11 seasons in Cleveland, he batted .344 or better, but won just one batting title. As player-manager, Speaker guided the team to its first World Series title in 1920. The Grey Eagle batted .320 in the World Series triumph over Brooklyn.

Close Calls
Considering his Hall of Fame career and tenure as manager, it’s difficult to leave Lou Boudreau off the mountain.

Bob Lemon spent his entire 13-year career with the Indians and won 20 games seven times, including both the 1948 and 1954 pennant-winning seasons.

Mel Harder is second in franchise history with 223 wins and won an ERA title in 1933.

Larry Doby was the first African-American to play in the American League, making his debut less than three months after Jackie Robinson.

Beloved Jim Thome spent too much of his career away from Cleveland to make the list, but he has more home runs than anyone in a Cleveland uniform.

Omar Vizquel was a catalyst on the the great Cleveland teams in the 1990s, perhaps the best defensive shortstop in AL history.

Best Current Player
The double-play combo of Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis provides the best chances of a current Indian breaking through. The reality is that any key player on the next World Series winner has an excellent chance of making it to Mt. Rushmore.


Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him Charlie.Miller@AthlonSports.com
 

Other teams' Mt. Rushmores:

American LeagueNational League
Baltimore OriolesArizona Diamondbacks
Boston Red SoxAtlanta Braves
Chicago White SoxChicago Cubs
Cleveland IndiansCincinnati Reds
Detroit TigersColorado Rockies
Houston AstrosMiami Marlins
Kansas City RoyalsLos Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles AngelsMilwaukee Brewers
Minnesota TwinsNew York Mets
New York YankeesPhiladelphia Phillies
Oakland A'sPittsburgh Pirates
Seattle MarinersSan Diego Padres
Tampa Bay RaysSan Francisco Giants
Texas RangersSt. Louis Cardinals
Toronto Blue JaysWashington Nationals



 

Teaser:
<p> The Cleveland franchise — known as the Blues, Bronchos and Naps before settling on Indians in 1915 — has played 111 seasons. There’s no need to look past Hall of Famers when selecting the names for the Indians Mt. Rushmore.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - 10:23
Path: /mlb/florida-marlins-mt-rushmore
Body:

MLB Mt. Rushmores

by Charlie Miller

We believe that all MLB teams should have their own Mt. Rushmores. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple. Even two guys sitting in a bar can figure that out, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.

Miami Marlins Mt. Rushmore

The Miami Marlins have existed for just 21 seasons, joining the National League in 1993. Success has been rare and fleeting. The Marlins have posted just six winning seasons in the their 21 campaigns and have yet to win a division title. However, the 1997 and 2003 squads parlayed wild card berths into World Series championships. With spotty attendance and no baseball-only stadium until 2012, the Marlins have been unable (some would say unwilling) to retain or sign high-priced players. So there are no long-tenured stars in Florida history. This Mt. Rushmore will change dramatically over the next 10 years or so. The State of Baseball in Miami isn't great right now. The 2013 season was the franchise's second-worst in history.

Hanley Ramirez
The All-Star shortstop was a perennial MVP candidate during most of his tenure in Miami. He was Rookie of the year in 2006, and won a batting title with a .342 average in 2009 when he was MVP runner-up. Although he  played just six and a half seasons, he ranks first in total bases and runs created for the franchise. He is second in runs and hits.

Jeff Conine
An original Marlin, Conine was selected from the Kansas City Royals in the expansion draft. He was an integral part of both championship teams in Florida, batting .304 in 32 postseason games for the Marlins. Conine earned MVP honors in the 1995 All-Star Game, the only Marlin so honored. He is second on the Marlins all-time list in games and RBIs, third in hits and total bases.

Dave Dombrowski
The first general manager of the Marlins, Dombrowski was responsible for building the 1997 championship team, and played a significant role in re-building the team into a contender in 2003, although he left for the Detroit Tigers in 2002.

Miguel Cabrera
Cabrera made his major league debut on June 20, 2003 and quickly became a fixture in the Marlins’ lineup. During his five seasons in South Florida, Cabrera received MVP votes every year. He averaged .313 with 28 homers and 105 RBIs per season. Those numbers increased to 32 home runs and 115 RBIs if you eliminate the half season in 2003. Cabrera hit four postseason home runs during the Marlins’ championship run in 2003.


Close Calls
Jim Leyland, the manager who led the Marlins to their first title, deserves some mention.

Third baseman Mike Lowell ranks first in RBIs and second in total bases.

The ageless Livan Hernandez was just 24-24 in his four seasons with the Marlins, but he was 4-0 in the 1997 postseason, earning MVP honors in both the NLCS and World Series.

No one has more hits or scored more runs in a Marlins uniform than second baseman Luis Castillo.

Jack McKeon managed the team to the title in 2003 after taking over a losing team 38 games into the season.

Josh Beckett won just 41 games in five seasons, but the 2003 World Series MVP had one Mt. Rushmore moment as he shut out the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in Game 6 to clinch the Series.

Best Current Player
It's easy to get excited about a young pitcher like Jose Fernandez, but Giancarlo Stanton — assuming he stays with the team — is more likely to rocket up the charts and join this group. He's also much more likely to be traded or allowed to leave before obtaining that status.

 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him Charlie.Miller@AthlonSports.com

 

Other teams' Mt. Rushmores:

American LeagueNational League
Baltimore OriolesArizona Diamondbacks
Boston Red SoxAtlanta Braves
Chicago White SoxChicago Cubs
Cleveland IndiansCincinnati Reds
Detroit TigersColorado Rockies
Houston AstrosMiami Marlins
Kansas City RoyalsLos Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles AngelsMilwaukee Brewers
Minnesota TwinsNew York Mets
New York YankeesPhiladelphia Phillies
Oakland A'sPittsburgh Pirates
Seattle MarinersSan Diego Padres
Tampa Bay RaysSan Francisco Giants
Texas RangersSt. Louis Cardinals
Toronto Blue JaysWashington Nationals



 

 

Teaser:
<p> With spotty attendance and no baseball-only stadium, the Marlins have been unable to retain or sign high-priced players. So there are no long-tenured stars in Florida history. This Mt. Rushmore will change dramatically over the next 10 years or so.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - 09:22
Path: /mlb/red-sox-yankees-and-other-fans-who-really-hate-world-series
Body:

by Charlie Miller

The 2011 World Series is evolving into one of the classic matchups in history. We’ve seen a 1-0 game through eight innings won in the ninth with two sac flies. We’ve seen a monumental blowout with Albert Pujols making history with three home runs. We’ve witnessed a young pitcher coming of age with a gem in Game 4 as Derek Holland shut down the Cardinals for 8+ innings. Baseball fans must be thrilled with this fall display.

Well, most fans. But there are some fans who are not enjoying the 2011 postseason.

Boston fans can’t be too excited about October baseball this season. Red Sox fans spent almost 100 years watching the World Series believing it was meant for the Yankees and other teams. Until 2004, when a miraculous eight-game run in October changed history in Boston. Since then, Red Sox fans are convinced they are entitled to a berth in the postseason. Oops. Not this year. To make matters worse, fans lost the only manager, Terry Francona, to have won a World Series in Boston since 1918 and the team’s architect in GM Theo Epstein.

Folks in Atlanta can’t be too happy either. In addition to the memory of blowing a supposedly insurmountable wild card lead in September, the Braves’ fans are constantly reminded what Mark Teixeira did for the franchise. The kid who played collegiately at Georgia Tech was acquired from Texas for Matt Harrison, Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz at the trade deadline in 2007. (Jarrod Saltalamacchia was also in the deal and was subsequently traded by Texas to Boston.) After posting a .295-37-137 line in 157 games over two seasons, the Braves did not believe they could re-sign Teixeira and dealt him at the deadline in 2008 to the Angels for Casey Kotchman. Kotchman didn’t impress over 130 games, so he was traded to Boston for Adam LaRoche at the next deadline. And so the revolving door at first base for the Braves continued. LaRoche hit .325 in 57 games, but left as a free agent at the end of the year. While the Braves are home watching, Harrison, Andrus and Feliz are enjoying their second World Series in two years, a constant reminder for Braves fans what could have been. For good measure, there are also those shots of Cardinals’ ace Adam Wainwright (once an Atlanta farm hand, who missed this season while recovering from Tommy John surgery) and shortstop Rafael Furcal, whom the Braves desperately tried to re-sign after the 2005 season.

Most New York Yankees fans believe the World Series doesn’t exist if the pinstripes aren’t a part of it. But here’s news, Yankees fans: there have actually been 107 World Series in baseball history, not just 40.

Milwaukee fans are still gnashing their teeth over the fact that the Brew Crew finished six games ahead of the Cardinals over 162 games, yet couldn’t win more than two out of six against St. Louis in the playoffs. What’s worse is having to watch Nelson Cruz of the Rangers. Cruz was dealt to the Rangers along with Carlos Lee for a couple of Corderos, a Mench and Laynce Nix. Boy, did that deal work well. The Brewers, whose bullpen couldn’t hold the Cardinals down in the NLCS, could have used Mike Adams, now of the Rangers, who was originally signed and developed by Milwaukee.

Royals, Pirates, Nationals fans are enjoying it as always. After all, it’s always other teams in the World Series.

Cubs fans are certainly enjoying the party. That’s what Cubs fans do — party. They’ll pass the innings talking about how the Cubs will be there next year — although none of them actually believe it.

Think Padres fans would like to have the Jim Edmonds-David Freese trade back? Sure, he scuffles at third base, but the guy can hit, even at Petco Park. With a little better offense, the Padres might have had reason to hold onto reliever Adams, who has become the best setup man for Texas.

Reds fans are clearly miserable. Not only because the hated St. Louis Cardinals are basking in the postseason sun, but it was the Reds who took the chance on believing Josh Hamilton had resurrected his career. For some reason, they were only partially convinced and traded the future MVP to Texas. At least the Reds have Edinson Volquez, though.

Blue Jays fans may need long memories to remember Chris Carpenter in a Toronto uniform, but Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski pitched there this summer and have been important pieces for St. Louis. And just as Michael Young was on the cusp of being major league ready way back in 2000, the Jays decided they would rather have pitcher Esteban Loaiza from the Rangers. Loaiza was 25-28 for Toronto before leaving as a free agent. Young bats cleanup for the defending AL champs and is the franchise’s all-time hits leader with 2,061.

Are any Angels fans wondering what could have been if Mike Napoli had been in an Angels uniform this season instead of with Texas? The Angels finished just 10 games behind Texas, and Napoli, who was traded to Toronto (and subsequently dealt to Texas) over the winter for Vernon Wells, could have made a difference. The Halos would love to have that one back.

A’s fans may be enjoying reliving some good ole days with the movie Moneyball this fall, but they are reminded of the organization’s financial realities watching Matt Holliday play leftfield for St. Louis. Convinced he would not be re-signed, the A’s traded him to the Cardinals in 2009. Losing Alexi Ogando to Texas in the Rule 5 draft is another matter.

Any other fan groups passing on this World Series?

Teaser:
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Post date: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - 03:07
Path: /mlb/where-do-boston-red-sox-go-here
Body:

by Charlie Miller

The Boston Red Sox have no general manager, no manager and $126 million committed in players’ salaries for 2012. Maybe the 126 number would frighten most GMs, but Boston has grown accustomed to payrolls north of $160 million, so it’s not that far out of line. And with ticket sales continuing at a record pace and revenues from NESN soaring, the team isn’t close to financial trouble.

However, they may be racing toward trouble of another kind. The $126 million does not include a DH, a rightfielder or, most importantly, a closer. It also doesn’t include the handful of players who are arbitration eligible and due some big raises, the most notable Jacoby Ellsbury, arguably the team’s best player in 2011.

What the number does include is nearly $60 million committed to a starting rotation of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Clay Buchholz. And that can’t be too comforting for a new braintrust.

Lackey posted the worst ERA (6.41) in team history over a full season. Buchholz made just 14 starts. Dice-K was ineffective in seven starts before being injured. Beckett and Lester combined to go 28-16, numbers indicative of horses a team can count on in the clutch. But where were those guys when the team — leaking oil at an astounding rate — needed them most?

All indications are that they were enjoying beer and buckets of thighs and breasts. Beckett was 1-2 with a 5.48 ERA in four September starts raising his season ERA from 2.54 to 2.89. The Sox lost four of Lester’s five starts as the lefthander suffered through a 1-3 month with a 5.40 ERA.

Boston needs a fresh start of monumental proportions. Does that mean sacrificing a season and several million to get back on the winning track sooner? That’s not a bad plan. This is a mess not easily cleaned.

It’s all too easy to manage this team from afar, but I suspect bringing in a no-frills, old-school manager and identifying about five guys you want to go to war with would be the place to start. Immediately and swiftly change the culture and clean house as much as can be tolerated financially.

Teaser:
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Post date: Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 14:28
Path: /mlb/alcs-tigers-limping-finish
Body:

Courtesy of Doug Fister, the Detroit Tigers survived their must-win game last night in Detroit. Now down, two games to one, the Tigers must find a way to win three more games with a makeshift lineup and getting just two more starts combined from Fister and ace Justin Verlander. So, where will the third win come from?

For the Rangers, the formula seems fairly simple: Win Games 4 and 6, which means avoiding seeing Fister again in Game 7.

Yet Texas hasn’t exactly set the baseball world ablaze with starting pitchers this series either. And now manager Ron Washington will ask Matt Harrison to keep the Tigers at bay tonight in a matchup of No. 4 starters. Both Harrison and Detroit start Rick Porcello were 14-9 during the regular season.

However, the real story for the remainder of this series will be the health of the Tigers and just how much of the load Miguel Cabrera can carry. Delmon Young, who injured his rib cage earlier in the playoffs, was taken off the roster for the ALCS. After Magglio Ordoñez suffered a fractured ankle, Young was placed back on the roster. That’s how few options the Tigers have for outfielders, especially those who hit from the right side, which is a nice commodity to have with the Rangers starting three lefthanders in this series.

Last night, the situation worsened with the oblique injury to DH Victor Martinez. The slugger hurt himself on a home run. He labored around the bases and appears to have trouble swinging from the left side, presumably the right side as well. That we will find out today.

The bottom line is that the Tigers pitchers — other than Fister and Verlander — cannot silence the Texas bats. So it may not matter how thin the Detroit lineup is in games they don’t pitch. What will be critical is that the Tigers find a way to score runs in games that Fister and Verlander pitch, assuming the Tigers can even get to a seventh game.

This doesn’t look good for Detroit. Expect the Rangers to wrap this series up sooner rather than later.

Teaser:
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Post date: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 12:38
Path: /mlb/nlcs-classic-series-headed-memorable-finish
Body:

The NLCS shows all the signs of a classic series hanging in the balance of every pitch. There are two teams from the same division who know each other so well. The St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers split their 18-game season series 9-9. And let’s just say there is some “built-up intensity” toward one another that adds a bit more spice.

But there are two things that could allow this series to go haywire: Milwaukee’s inept supporting cast in the Brewers’ lineup and St. Louis’ inconsistent bullpen.

It’s no secret that Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder carry the Brewers’ lineup. Add to that Yuniesky Betancourt’s strong postseason and Jerry Hairston’s timely hitting and you have the Brew Crew’s complete offensive arsenal. Yep, those four guys are doing all the heavy lifting.

Non-pitchers not named Prince, Braun, Yuni or Hairston are batting .168 in the postseason. That’s half the lineup over a seven-game stretch, which is a decent sample size. They were 16-91 (.176) in the NLDS vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks and are 5-34 (.147) so far against St. Louis. Milwaukee is operating with half a lineup that can’t make outs and the other half can’t get on base. If the Cardinals are allowed to pitch around these four hitters without the supporting cast capitalizing, the Redbirds could be celebrating earlier than expected.

However, if the Cardinals’ bullpen reverts to its roots of allowing other teams to enjoy big innings, then the Brewers would waste no time dismissing St. Louis from the playoffs.

In the NLDS with Philadelphia, the St. Louis bullpen was very good. In 13.2 innings, the six relievers combined to walk only one batter and struck out 13 while allowing only 11 hits.

Teaser:
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Post date: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 12:25
Path: /mlb/brewers-enjoy-home-advanatage-will-win-7
Body:

by Charlie Miller

With little hope in mid-September, the St. Louis Cardinals somehow have managed to find their way into the NLCS for the fourth time in eight years. Meanwhile in Milwaukee, the Brewers will play in the NLCS for the first time in their history. Back in 1982, the Brewers played in the ALCS and defeated the California Angels to reach the World Series.

This series could not be much more evenly matched. The two teams split their 18 games this season and know each other so well. Both feature big boppers in the heart of the lineup and pretty good, but not great, starting pitching. The only real difference lies in the bullpens. The Brewers’ dependable bullpen gives Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke comfort in knowing his team is 81-1 with a lead after eight innings. Setup men Takashi Saito and Francisco Rodriguez in front of closer John Axford take the pressure off the Brewers’ starters to have to go more than six innings. The much-maligned Cardinals’ bullpen was shaky at best for much of the season. But there have been fewer better performances than the Redbirds’ relievers gave with six shutout innings in their Game 2 comeback win over Philadelphia.

Milwaukee has been the best team at home throughout the season, but rest assured, the Cardinals will not be intimidated. They just survived the Halladay-Lee-Hamels-Oswalt gauntlet and won Game 5 before a raucous crowd in Philadelphia. And since August 1, after both teams made final adjustments to their rosters, the Cardinals won seven of 12 meetings. No doubt this series will be a battle between these two familiar rivals of the National League Central.

The Cardinals’ offense, which led the NL in runs during the regular season, struggled with only 19 runs and two home runs in the five NLDS games.

Keys for St. Louis
The Cardinals must get quality innings from the bullpen. Manager Tony La Russa was able to play matchups and manage his way through some tough innings, especially in Game 2, against the Phillies. Unlike the Brewers. the Cardinals don’t have the consistent go-to guys late in the game. La Russa was a master at controlling matchups in the series with Philadelphia by mixing and matching his entire bullpen.

Keys for Milwaukee
As good as the Brewers have been at home this season, they lost both games at Arizona and didn’t look like the same team. So they must hold serve at home. It was also clear how much they rely on their stars, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. As the series with Arizona wore on, the Diamondbacks pitched around the two MVP candidates. Expect similar treatment from St. Louis, so the Brewers must have clutch performances from the supporting cast.

Cardinals to Watch
Albert Pujols is poised to break out this postseason. He hit the Phillies well enough to receive an intentional walk that loaded the bases with one out for Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday late in Game 5. Rafael Furcal will set the table and spark the offense. Look for Yadier Molina to provide a clutch bat.

Brewers to Watch
Expect Jerry Hairston, Corey Hart and Nyjer Morgan to step up in support of Braun and Fielder. Hairston had a good series against St. Louis in late August and was clutch in the Arizona series. Hart drove in 15 runs in only 16 games against the Redbirds while Morgan ignited the offense with a .393 OBP. Hart, who has batted leadoff since Rickie Weeks went down with an injury, may be moved to the No. 5 spot to protect Fielder.

Prediction
Milwaukee in 7

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Sunday, October 9, 2011 - 13:13
Path: /mlb/yankees-tigers-all-set-game-5
Body:

by Charlie Miller

It’s not every series that the final deciding game is a rematch between two relievers from Game 1. But that is what this series has been about. Two teams, the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees scrambling and shuffling pitching staffs after a rainout early in Game 1.

So Doug Fister of Detroit and Ivan Nova of the Yankees will start tonight’s Game 5 after starting the re-start of Game 1 on Saturday.

Both pitchers’ outings were similar in that they were fairly sharp a couple of times through the order, then ran into trouble the third time through. And relief pitchers allowed all their runners to score damaging their ERAs. Obviously, the most crushing blow was the Robinson Cano grand slam off Al Alburquerque that added three runs to Fister’s ERA.

But let’s throw that out the window for Game 5. Game 1 means nothing now.

Without a rooting interest in this series, I love the fact that the series lies in the hands of a pitcher (Fister), who in July, was 3-12 toiling for a last-place Seattle team; and Nova, who began the year as the Yankee’s fourth starter and had a 5.82 ERA after the first month.

The Tigers couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity to close the series out at home. They’ve won two nail-biters while the Yankees have won blowouts. Even though Detroit closer Jose Valverde has had a couple of days off, it is dicey at best relying on him again in this series. He just hasn’t been sharp and has lived too close to the edge. If Game 5 goes down to the wire, the Yankees will prevail.

The only way the Tigers can win is to put the game out of reach early with big innings. That’s not likely to happen either. With these two lineups, the Yankees are the ones likely to mount big innings as they have proven thus far.

Game 5 winner will be New York and the Rangers will pack their bags for the Big Apple.

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie

Teaser:
<p> It’s not every series that the final deciding game is a rematch between two relievers from Game 1. But that is what this series has been about. Two teams, the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees scrambling and shuffling pitching staffs after a rainout early in Game 1.</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 12:21
Path: /mlb/los-angeles-angels-mt-rushmore
Body:

MLB Mt. Rushmores

by Charlie Miller

We believe that all MLB teams should have their own Mt. Rushmores. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple. Even two guys sitting in a bar can figure that out, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.

Los Angeles Angels Mt. Rushmore

Whether you know them as the Los Angeles Angels, the California Angels, the Anaheim Angels or the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, this franchise has had some success under each name. In their second season way back in 1962, the Los Angeles Angels finished third in the American League with the league’s best road record at a time when expansion teams had little chance of competing. As the California Angels, the team won three AL West titles from 1979-86, losing in the ALCS each year. In 2002, the Anaheim Angels won the organization’s only World Series title. And as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the team won four division titles. Of the franchise’s 53 seasons, there have been 23 winning seasons with more than half of those coming since 1995.


Gene Autry
The original owner of the Los Angeles Angels, Autry held the team until his death in 1998. He also served as vice-president of the American League from 1983 until his death. Autry was determined to bring a winner to Anaheim and showed the willingness to support efforts to bring top players to the team via free agency. The team made the playoffs three times and had six second-place finishes during his ownership, but never reached the World Series.

Mike Scioscia
The manager since 2000, Scioscia has directed the team to 10 winning seasons in those 14 years including five division titles and a World Series championship in 2002 as the American League wild card team. Under his leadership, the Angels have been one of the most aggressive teams on the bases and regularly have one of the best pitching staffs in the AL.

Nolan Ryan
The hard-throwing righthander became the Ryan Express in Anaheim, frequently reaching triple digits on radar guns. Among his record seven no-hitters, he threw four for the Angels from 1973-75. During his eight seasons spent in California, Ryan averaged 302 strikeouts per season and just 190 hits allowed.

Jim Fregosi
Acquired from the Boston Red Sox in the expansion draft, Fregosi was the first major star for the Angels. The shortstop made six All-Star teams, starting for the AL twice, in 1964 and 1968. He and Hall of Famer Rod Carew are the only six-time All-Stars in franchise history. He returned to manage the team in 1978 and directed the team to its first division title in 1979.


Close Calls
Garret Anderson is the all-time leader in most every offensive category.

Tim Salmon ranks second all-time in almost every offensive category.

Lefthander Chuck Finley is the franchise’s all-time leader with 165 wins.

Possibly the slowest — although one of the best — leadoff men in history, Brian Downing is third in almost every offensive category.

Before Dave Henderson one-upped Bobby Grich in 1986, the All-Star second baseman’s home run to put the Angels on the cusp of their first World Series is considered one of the greatest moments in team history.

Hall of Famer Rod Carew earned most of his accolades as a Twin, but he was a vital cog on two playoff teams.

Reggie Jackson earned his first big free agent deal by starring for three World Series winners in Oakland, then became Mr. October in New York. But he did have 123 home runs for the Angels and a cameo in Naked Gun.

The popular closer Troy Percival leads the team with 316 saves and closed out the only World Series title in team history.

Best Current Player

Some fans may already be inclined to begin carving Mike Trout's likeness on this mountain. He certainly appears to be a can't-miss candidate. But let's wait another eight years, at least.
 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him Charlie.Miller@AthlonSports.com

 

Other teams' Mt. Rushmores:

American LeagueNational League
Baltimore OriolesArizona Diamondbacks
Boston Red SoxAtlanta Braves
Chicago White SoxChicago Cubs
Cleveland IndiansCincinnati Reds
Detroit TigersColorado Rockies
Houston AstrosMiami Marlins
Kansas City RoyalsLos Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles AngelsMilwaukee Brewers
Minnesota TwinsNew York Mets
New York YankeesPhiladelphia Phillies
Oakland A'sPittsburgh Pirates
Seattle MarinersSan Diego Padres
Tampa Bay RaysSan Francisco Giants
Texas RangersSt. Louis Cardinals
Toronto Blue JaysWashington Nationals

Teaser:
<p> Whether you know them as the Los Angeles Angels, the California Angels, the Anaheim Angels or the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, this franchise has had some success under each name. But who as the four individuals comprising the Angels' Mt. Rushmore?</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 12:09
Path: /mlb/diamondbacks-look-stave-elimination
Body:

by Charlie Miller

The St. Louis Cardinals couldn’t muster enough offense yesterday and face elimination in St. Louis today. Meanwhile, rookie Josh Collmenter pitched the Diamondbacks to a win over Milwaukee, allowing Arizona to live another day.

Milwaukee at Arizona

If we are to believe what we saw last night, the Diamondbacks will force a Game 5 back in Milwaukee, which they will promptly lose. You see, the Brewers are practically unbeatable at home, quite vulnerable on the road. Why? Not sure, but it certainly seems that way. Milwaukee won a major league best 57 games at home this season, yet were below .500 on the road. The Brewers managed just two hits and one run off starter Collmenter before the rookie gave way to David Hernandez and J.J. Putz, who were just getting a little work in more than anything else.

In the first two games, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder practically beat Arizona by themselves. But last night, Collmenter pitched them very carefully and was willing to put the game in Rickie Weeks’ hands. Braun walked in the first inning with two outs and Fielder was hit. Weeks couldn’t capitalize. Weeks is 1-for-10 with a walk in the series. Nyjer Morgan, who hits in front of Braun, is 1-for-11 with a pair of walks. That’s not the kind of support that will force the D’backs to pitch to the big bats.

A pair of veteran lefthanders —Randy Wolf for Milwaukee, and Arizona’s Joe Saunders — will oppose each other tonight as both teams get their first looks at southpaws in this series. Current Diamondbacks have hit Wolf well over the past three seasons. Justin Upton is 5-for-15 with two home runs and four walks. Ryan Roberts is 6-for-13 with a homer. Willie Bloomquist and Gerardo Parra are both 3-for-9.

The crafty Saunders held the Brewers to two runs back on July 20 before leaving down 2-0. The D’backs scored a couple to get him off the hook prior to Arizona losing in extra innings. Over the past two seasons, Saunders had held the Brewers down. Braun, with two homers in six at-bats, has had the most success.

Playing at home and with the confidence they can get to Wolf, Arizona is expected to send this series back to Milwaukee.

Other Series:

Philadelphia at St. Louis

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie

Teaser:
<p> The St. Louis Cardinals couldn’t muster enough offense yesterday and face elimination in St. Louis today. Meanwhile, rookie Josh Collmenter pitched the Diamondbacks to a win over Milwaukee, allowing Arizona to live another day.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - 14:01
Path: /mlb/cardinals-diamondbacks-look-stave-elimination
Body:

by Charlie Miller

The St. Louis Cardinals couldn’t muster enough offense yesterday and face elimination in St. Louis today. Meanwhile, rookie Josh Collmenter pitched the Diamondbacks to a win over Milwaukee, allowing Arizona to live another day.

Philadelphia at St. Louis
Roy Oswalt, who made it clear in the past that he would like to pitch for St. Louis, will be on the mound in an effort to send the Phillies into the NLCS. The righthander spent much of the season nursing injuries, but is healthy now and will assume his position as the No. 4 starter in the best rotation in baseball. The Cardinals will send righty Edwin Jackson, whom they acquired from the White Sox in midseason, to the hill.

The Cardinals knocked Oswalt out of a start in June with four runs in the first two innings. That lineup included Colby Rasmus and Tony Cruz, not Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina. A few weeks ago, Oswalt tossed seven shutout innings at the Cardinals as they were battling to overcome the Braves in the wild card race. That lineup featured the guys most likely to be in there tonight.

Jackson has been a little Jekyll and Hyde, but mostly Jekyll of late. The Redbirds won six of his last seven starts, although he factored in the decision just three times going 3-0. He represents the biggest x-factor of this series, having very little history against the Phillies hitters. The first four hitters in the lineup, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Hunter Pence and Ryan Howard have a combined 12 plate appearances against Jackson with just one hit. That’s not much of a sample size and typically favors the pitcher.

I certainly expect more runs than last night, and for the Cardinals to send the series back to Philadelphia for Game 5.

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie

Other Series:

Milwaukee at Arizona

Teaser:
<p> The St. Louis Cardinals couldn’t muster enough offense yesterday and face elimination in St. Louis today. Meanwhile, rookie Josh Collmenter pitched the Diamondbacks to a win over Milwaukee, allowing Arizona to live another day.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - 13:52
Path: /mlb/mlb-playoffs-four-must-see-games-today-2
Body:

by Charlie Miller

Today is a day that Major League Baseball had in mind when it expanded the playoffs for what was to be 1994, but due to the strike, actually began in 1995. Four playoff games, three of which could be elimination games. All in one day.

It will be tough to match last Wednesday night for a four-game set that ranked as the best ever, but with three teams’ seasons on the line, today is must-see baseball.

Beginning today at 2:00 ET, Tampa Bay will attempt to stave off elimination at home against Texas. Then at 5:00 St. Louis hosts Philadelphia in the only non-do-or-die affair. At 7:30 the Yankees will be in Detroit trying to extend their season another few days and force a Game 5 back in New York. Milwaukee and Arizona begin at 8:30, but I suspect most of the nation will catch only the last few innings after the Yankees-Tigers tussle. The Diamondbacks will try desperately to avoid the embarrassment of being swept at the hands of the Brewers.

Milwaukee at Arizona

It’s easy to look at this series and believe that the Milwaukee Brewers have manhandled the Arizona Diamondbacks. And it’s also convenient to believe that the D’backs were happy with just making the playoffs after losing 90 games last season and being predicted by most to finish last in the NL West. But both assertions are incorrect.

The Brewers haven’t had their way with Arizona. Just Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. And content with just making the playoffs? Do you know who is managing this team? Kirk Gibson will never be content with anything short of a World Series title. He may celebrate a little with each step in that direction, but content? No way.

A quick glance at the two games played in Milwaukee shows that the Brewers outhit the Diamondbacks 20-14 and outscored them 13-5. Looks like a couple of mismatches. After all, the Brewers are batting .300 as a team. But, they’re not really batting that as a team, just as a tandem. Fielder and Braun have combined for a pair of home runs and a .563 batting average. The rest of the team has no home runs and is hitting .220 for the series. Think Gibson’s pitchers will allow Braun and Fielder to beat Arizona tonight? Doubtful. Someone else will have to step up for the Brew Crew.

And that someone is likely to be Rickie Weeks. After returning from his injury this season, Weeks has been moved to the fifth spot in the batting order. He should get at-bats tonight with runners on and the chance to be the hitting star.

The fate of the D’backs’ season rests in the hands of rookie pitcher Josh Collmenter. That’s right, Collmenter. The rookie joined the rotation in May and shut out the Dodgers and Braves over six innings each in his first two starts. The righthander had seven starts of at least five innings in which he did not allow a run. Two of those starts came in July against Milwaukee. One of those the D’backs lost 3-1, the other was a 3-0 Arizona win. So it appears there’s a chance.

However, leading MVP candidate Braun was not in the lineup for either game, dramatically changing the Brewers’ lineup. The Brewers are just too hot right now to be slowed by Collmenter. Gibson and his staff will have to take pleasure in building momentum for 2012.

Other Series:

Texas at Tampa Bay

New York at Detroit

Milwaukee at Arizona

Philadelphia at St. Louis

 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie.

Teaser:
<p> Today is a day that Major League Baseball had in mind when it expanded the playoffs for what was to be 1994, but due to the strike, actually began in 1995. Four playoff games, three of which could be elimination games. All in one day.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 16:43
Path: /mlb/mlb-playoffs-four-must-see-games-today-1
Body:

by Charlie Miller

Today is a day that Major League Baseball had in mind when it expanded the playoffs for what was to be 1994, but due to the strike, actually began in 1995. Four playoff games, three of which could be elimination games. All in one day.

It will be tough to match last Wednesday night for a four-game set that ranked as the best ever, but with three teams’ seasons on the line, today is must-see baseball.

Beginning today at 2:00 ET, Tampa Bay will attempt to stave off elimination at home against Texas. Then at 5:00 St. Louis hosts Philadelphia in the only non-do-or-die affair. At 7:30 the Yankees will be in Detroit trying to extend their season another few days and force a Game 5 back in New York. Milwaukee and Arizona begin at 8:30, but I suspect most of the nation will catch only the last few innings after the Yankees-Tigers tussle. The Diamondbacks will try desperately to avoid the embarrassment of being swept at the hands of the Brewers.

Philadelphia at St. Louis
Obviously the key to this series is giving up three runs in the first inning. Both winning teams have done just that so far. While it was not a surprise that the Phillies’ Roy Halladay retired 21 batters in a row after the hiccup in the first inning of Game 1, it is nothing less than a shock that the Cardinals’ bullpen hung up a zero after Chris Carpenter couldn’t get past the third inning of Game 2. So which will it be in Game 3?

Cole Hamels and Jaime Garcia will start today giving both managers reason to believe the three-run first innings are a thing of the past. Garcia has been at his best at home, and was stingy against Philadelphia this season. Facing a lineup without Chase Utley, Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino or Carlos Ruiz, Garcia stifled the Phillies at Busch Stadium back in May over eight innings, allowing just one unearned run. A few weeks ago, Garcia pitched seven strong innings at Philadelphia allowing a run in a St. Louis win in 11 innings.

Even though that was after the Phillies had clinched, most of the regulars played for Philadelphia. Ryan Howard and Ruiz appeared as pinch hitters.

Phillies’ starter Hamels has held St. Louis hitters in check throughout his career (.257 OBP), but has won just two of his five decisions. In 27 innings at the current Busch Stadium, Hamels has allowed just 19 hits and six walks in 27 innings while striking out 29.

However, his only start against the Cardinals this season came last week and resulted in a 5-0 St. Louis win. Allen Craig doubled and was chased home on Albert Pujols’ homer in the first inning. Could that be how the game starts tonight? Craig later homered off Hamels and reliever Joe Blanton.

With the starting pitching that the Phillies will continue to trot out every night, it’s difficult to see a scenario where the Cardinals win this series. The St. Louis bullpen will reveal its propensity to cough up leads before this five-game set is over. The Cardinals may force a Game 5, but the Phillies will move on to the NLCS.

Other Series:

Texas at Tampa Bay

New York at Detroit

Milwaukee at Arizona

Philadelphia at St. Louis

 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie.

Teaser:
<p> Today is a day that Major League Baseball had in mind when it expanded the playoffs for what was to be 1994, but due to the strike, actually began in 1995. Four playoff games, three of which could be elimination games. All in one day.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 15:33
Path: /mlb/mlb-playoffs-four-must-see-games-today-0
Body:

by Charlie Miller

Today is a day that Major League Baseball had in mind when it expanded the playoffs for what was to be 1994, but due to the strike, actually began in 1995. Four playoff games, three of which could be elimination games. All in one day.

It will be tough to match last Wednesday night for a four-game set that ranked as the best ever, but with three teams’ seasons on the line, today is must-see baseball.

Beginning today at 2:00 ET, Tampa Bay will attempt to stave off elimination at home against Texas. Then at 5:00 St. Louis hosts Philadelphia in the only non-do-or-die affair. At 7:30 the Yankees will be in Detroit trying to extend their season another few days and force a Game 5 back in New York. Milwaukee and Arizona begin at 8:30, but I suspect most of the nation will catch only the last few innings after the Yankees-Tigers tussle. The Diamondbacks will try desperately to avoid the embarrassment of being swept at the hands of the Brewers.

New York at Detroit
The mighty Yankees on the cusp of elimination? Believe it. Will they force the Tigers back to Yankee Stadium on Thursday? Not likely. I mean, how comfortable can manager Joe Girardi be putting the Yankees’ fate in the hands of A.J. Burnett? To his credit, Burnett responded from an 11.91 ERA in five August starts to a respectable 4.34 ERA in five September starts. But you have to believe that the Tigers are licking their chops.

It’s not like Rick Porcello, on the mound for Detroit, is much better. He improved a 6.82 August ERA to 3.55 in September. Porcello was a winner on May 5 against the Yankees and Burnett, but not too much can be read into that. Burnett didn’t face any of the three outfielders likely to start for Detroit tonight. Likewise, neither Derek Jeter nor Alex Rodriguez started the game for New York.

Both bullpens should be in play tonight. David Robertson and Mariano Rivera for New York have been solid and should the Yankees bridge the gap to the eighth inning, the Yankees have an advantage. Joaquin Benoit has been okay, but Daniel Schlereth has been shaky. Even though Jose Valverde has a save and closed out the other win, the game turned into an adventure with him on the mound. Can Papa Grande continue to walk the tight rope?

I keep expecting the Yankees veterans of many championships to get the big hit that turns the game. But that era in Yankees lore may be over. Jeter, the hero of postseasons past, struck out in the ninth representing the tying run in Game 2. He whiffed again with the tying run on second to end Game 3. And the torch may not have been completely passed to Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson from Jeter and Jorge Posada.

It was the Tigers’ Delmon Young with the heroic hit yesterday, a seventh inning home run off Rafael Soriano. Somehow the Tigers seem more energetic and youthful than the Yankees. I don’t see this series going back to New York.

Other Series:

Other Series:

Texas at Tampa Bay

New York at Detroit

Milwaukee at Arizona

Philadelphia at St. Louis

 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie.

Teaser:
<p> Today is a day that Major League Baseball had in mind when it expanded the playoffs for what was to be 1994, but due to the strike, actually began in 1995. Four playoff games, three of which could be elimination games. All in one day.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 14:55
Path: /mlb/mlb-playoffs-four-must-see-games-today
Body:

by Charlie Miller

Today is a day that Major League Baseball had in mind when it expanded the playoffs for what was to be 1994, but due to the strike, actually began in 1995. Four playoff games, three of which could be elimination games. All in one day.

It will be tough to match last Wednesday night for a four-game set that ranked as the best ever, but with three teams’ seasons on the line, today is must-see baseball.

Beginning today at 2:00 ET, Tampa Bay will attempt to stave off elimination at home against Texas. Then at 5:00 St. Louis hosts Philadelphia in the only non-do-or-die affair. At 7:30 the Yankees will be in Detroit trying to extend their season another few days and force a Game 5 back in New York. Milwaukee and Arizona begin at 8:30, but I suspect most of the nation will catch only the last few innings after the Yankees-Tigers tussle. The Diamondbacks will try desperately to avoid the embarrassment of being swept at the hands of the Brewers.

Texas at Tampa Bay
Two veterans (using the term relatively) couldn’t get the job done on the mound for the Rays, so once again manager Joe Maddon will have a rookie on the hill in an effort to shut down the Rangers. In Game 1, Matt Moore, making his second-ever big-league start, held the Rangers scoreless through seven innings to jumpstart the series for Tampa Bay. James Shields, author of 11 complete games this season, was knocked out in the sixth and was charged with seven runs in the Texas beatdown. David Price made one mistake too many last night and gave up a timely home run to Mike Napoli in the Rangers’ 4-3 win. Now Jeremy Hellickson, with no previous postseason experience, will start the Rays’ elimination game at home.

If the Rangers are to close out this series and continue to advance, it will be their bullpen that will carry them. The acquisition of Koji Uehara, Mike Gonzalez and Mike Adams during the season has allowed manager Ron Washington the flexibility to not only shorten games in front of superb closer Neftali Feliz, but also play matchups as well. With Alexi Ogando, who was in the rotation all season, and veteran lefty Darren Oliver, the Texas starters have no pressure to pitch deep into games, allowing them to leave it all on the mound for just a couple of times through the order.

Ogando pitched a scoreless frame in Game 2 and got out of a bases loaded, one out jam in Game 3. Oliver bailed out Uehara in Game 2, then needed a little help from Ogando the next night. Adams pitched a clean inning in Game 2, left a mess in Game 3 before Gonzalez struck out Johnny Damon then gave way to Feliz to save. The point is that this deep bullpen gives Washington lots of options.

The Rays were second to the Tigers in the American League in one-run games, and the Rangers didn’t fare well over the course of the season. But once the bullpen stabilized, Texas became much better, going 11-7 in one- and two-run games since Aug. 4.

For the Rays to move on to the ALCS, they’ll need to win a couple of blowouts like they did in Game 1.

Other Series:

Texas at Tampa Bay

New York at Detroit

Milwaukee at Arizona

Philadelphia at St. Louis

 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie.

Teaser:
<p> Today is a day that Major League Baseball had in mind when it expanded the playoffs for what was to be 1994, but due to the strike, actually began in 1995. Four playoff games, three of which could be elimination games. All in one day.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 12:25
Path: /mlb/tigers-yankees-series-rests-game-3-aces
Body:

After the unusual situation created by the Game 1 washout, the Tigers and Yankees left New York tied at one game apiece and without a day off between Games 2 and 3. Aces Justin Verlander of Detroit and CC Sabathia of New York will start Game 3 tonight after taking the mound for the brief false start last Friday.

The Tigers are certainly a confident team with Verlander on the hill, as they should be having gone 25-9 in his 34 starts this season, 11-3 at home. But in his two starts this season against New York way back on March 31 and May 2, Verlander lasted just six innings in each start, giving up three earned runs in each and not factoring in the decision of either game, both Detroit losses.

Tigers supporters will love to tell you that Verlander can stifle the heart of the Yankees’ batting order. Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano have combined to hit .154 (8-52) off Verlander in their careers.

Teaser:
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Post date: Monday, October 3, 2011 - 16:11
Path: /mlb/mlb-best-night-ever-proves-game-doesnt-need-fixing
Body:

by Charlie Miller

A couple of nights ago, I enjoyed the greatest night of my baseball life. Four teams fighting for a playoff berth in four different games, and three of them went into extra innings. Can it get it better than that? Well, if you listen to MLB, it can. But I disagree.

It appears that MLB is determined — for whatever reason — to add a couple of playoff teams, create perpetual interleague play and in so doing, make the DH rule universal.

I understand that the additional playoff teams generate more revenue. But if that is all we’re about here, let’s just have a 30-team postseason tournament in September and October to determine the champion. The team with the best record in each league gets a bye in the first round, and let’s play five rounds of seven-game series.

Of course, that sounds absurd — at least I hope it does to everyone — but where do we draw the compromise between increasing postseason revenue and maintaining the integrity of a true champion?

I submit that we have that compromise now. If anything, we’re too far on the lost integrity side, but maybe that’s just me. I just happen to believe that the truest measure of the best baseball team in any given year is over 162 games, not over 19 postseason games with days off in between.

Am I suggesting that we go back to the days of no divisions and have the two league champions meet in the World Series? No I’m not. While I do believe that is the truest measure of a champion, I understand the drama and suspense of elimination games.

But think about what opening up 2011 to an extra playoff team in each league would have taken from the game? There would not have been the incredible drama Wednesday night. The Yankees and Phillies had already clinched home field advantage. The Rangers, Diamondbacks, Tigers and Rangers had all clinched division titles. And the Red Sox, Rays, Braves and Cardinals would have clinched wild card berths.

You may argue that the drama we witnessed on Wednesday would have remained, but moved to a later night featuring wild card games. Perhaps, but playing to get into the playoffs offers a little more drama than merely playing to advance. And what about the Orioles and Astros? Those teams and their fans were able to witness relevant games for those teams for the first time in months. And while the Houston fans weren’t treated to much drama, Camden Yards was as vibrant as ever Wednesday night. Please don’t take those opportunities away.

No matter how hard executives and networks and websites try, sports just can’t be scripted. You can’t manufacture drama. Whether it’s just two postseason teams or 16, the drama will happen on the field as played out by individuals. Some seasons play out with three or four fantastic divisional races going down to the wire. Some years don’t. This season was one of those where the dramatic line was drawn between the fourth- and fifth-best teams in each league. Next year will be different. But it is never predictable where that line will be drawn.

So please, MLB, don’t mess with the existing playoff structure.



Follow Charlie on Twitter @AthlonCharlie

Teaser:
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Post date: Friday, September 30, 2011 - 11:17
Path: /mlb/texas-rangers-outshine-rays-alds-rematch
Body:

Tampa Bay Rays v. Texas Rangers

This rematch of their ALDS last year has Tampa Bay thinking revenge and Texas believing it has unfinished business. Last year, the Rangers defeated the favored Rays in a five-game series in which the visiting team won all five. Cliff Lee, no longer with Texas, won Games 1 and 5. C.J. Wilson, who was the winner in the Rangers’ Game 2 two-hit shutout last season, is now the ace. He tossed a shutout on Sept. 6 at Tampa Bay when he allowed just five singles and three walks and induced four double plays. There’s no doubt the Rays have the best manager in the postseason, but do they have the best players? Texas didn’t experience the drama that the Rays did over the past week, but the Rangers were winning pressure-packed games in order to gain home-field advantage and to avoid playing the Yankees in the first round. That provided a reminder of what postseason baseball feels like.

Key for Tampa Bay
Last year the Rangers held Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford to a combined .177 average. Longoria is still the most feared bat, but the Rays must provide protection for him in the lineup. Few managers use their entire rosters as well as Maddon. He’ll need contributions from bench players.

Key for Texas
The Rangers acquired relievers Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez during the season with the postseason in mind. Being able to create favorable matchups and shorten games gives Texas a decided advantage.

Rays to Watch
If Upton and Ben Zobrist are able to create some offense around Longoria, the Rays can score enough runs to win.

Ranger to Watch
Neftali Feliz showed signs of fatigue during the season. But he threw on back-to-back days just twice in September, converting all six save opps.

Texas in 4

Teaser:
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Post date: Friday, September 30, 2011 - 09:29
Path: /mlb/alds-preview-tigers-no-match-yankees
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Detroit Tigers v. New York Yankees
The torch is being passed once again in New York. Aging stars Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada are passing along the great pinstripe tradition to Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner, among others. And like Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez and Bernie Williams before them, the role of postseason favorite continues. But the Tigers won four of seven during the regular season, so winning three of five is not unrealistic at all. On Opening Day, the last day of March, Justin Verlander of the Tigers faced CC Sabathia in New York. It was a marquee matchup then and it is on the last day of September. The two teams haven’t seen each other since May 5, so don’t read much into the Tigers’ 4-3 season advantage. Mariano Rivera and Jose Valverde are the best two closers in the AL making these contests eight-inning games.

Key for Detroit
Verlander, a lock for the Cy Young award if not the MVP, could get two starts, but the Tigers must find a way to win when he’s not on the mound.

Key for New York
New York must score runs in bunches. The Yankees don’t have starting pitchers — not even Sabathia — that can consistently shut down opponents, so they must outscore them.

Tiger to Watch
Doug Fister, acquired from Seattle at the trade deadline, will start Game 2 in New York. His last start for the Mariners was a 4-1 loss at Yankee Stadium. Fister tossed seven strong innings and is pitching with much more confidence with the Tigers.

Yankees to Watch
Ivan Nova (Game 2 starter) and Freddy Garcia (Game 3 starter) must prove they can keep opponents at bay and pitch deep enough into games to keep pressure off the bullpen.

New York in 5

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Post date: Friday, September 30, 2011 - 09:19
All taxonomy terms: Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, News
Path: /news/red-sox-will-miss-playoffs
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by Charlie Miller

I think the Red Sox are done. It’s over, Red Sox Nation. On Sept. 1 there seemed to be no doubt that both the Red Sox and Yankees were in the playoffs. The only question was which team would finish first and which would be the wild card. Then the Red Sox woke up and thought it was 1978.

As with Boston teams prior to the curse being reversed in 2004, this team keeps looking over its shoulder waiting for something bad to happen. And bad things keep happening.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay keeps looking forward expecting the next great thing to happen. Led by the always optimistic manager Joe Maddon, the Rays are playing as if they are in the driver’s seat and in complete control. Need a terrific diving catch? Desmond Jennings delivered, Jacoby Ellsbury could not. Need a big hit? Catcher Kelly Shoppach homered in two straight games for the Rays, Jarrod Saltalamacchia didn’t handle a relay throw to the plate on what became an inside-the-park home run and then struck out with the bases loaded in the eighth inning of a 6-3 loss on Monday.

One of these teams is forging ahead confidently, while the other is praying the clock runs out while they still have a lead. There is some baseball justice served “unlevel economic playing field style” as Carl Crawford must sit and watch his former teammates from Florida enjoy another magical run in the postseason.

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie

Teaser:
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Post date: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 13:25
All taxonomy terms: Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, News
Path: /news/cardinal-nation-will-miss-postseason-party
Body:

by Charlie Miller

While the Atlanta Braves haven’t been losing in quite the same fashion as the Red Sox, there are clear signs that this team is wearing down. Relievers Eric O’Flaherty, Jonny Venters and closer Craig Kimbrel — the strength of the team all season — struggled in September. Not one of the three has ever logged this many innings. And it’s beginning to show. Veteran Chipper Jones, the leader playing in his final games, is doing all he can, although his aching knees seem to have a different agenda. Injuries in the starting rotation have forced the Braves to rely on youngsters Randall Delgado, Julio Teheran and Mike Minor. That trio shows all the signs of being terrific in the future, but in September, they haven’t been able to pitch deep into games, increasing the pressure and workload on the bullpen.

But one advantage the Braves have that the Red Sox do not is that the Cardinals are not hitting on all cylinders either. In the weekend series with Chicago, had the Cubs not shown up as, well, the Cubs, the Redbirds might already be singing the blues. An extra-inning loss on Monday to the worst team in baseball leaves the Cardinals still on the outside looking in.

With a game advantage with two to play, the Braves will limp across the finish line and be the sacrificial team in Milwaukee this weekend.

So there you have it, baseball this weekend: Yankees host the Rangers, Tigers host the Rays. Phillies host the Diamondbacks and Brewers host the Braves. Count on it.

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie

Teaser:
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Post date: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 13:23
Path: /mlb/houston-astros-mt-rushmore
Body:

MLB Mt. Rushmores

by Charlie Miller

We believe that all MLB teams should have their own Mt. Rushmores. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple. Even two guys sitting in a bar can figure that out, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.

Houston Astros Mt. Rushmore

The franchise was born in Houston in 1962 as the Colt 45s. The name change to the Astros coincided with the move into the nation’s first indoor stadium, the Astrodome, in 1965. The team’s attendance floundered in old Colt Stadium — last in the National League — but fans immediately fell in love with the comforts of the Astrodome as Houston was second in the NL in attendance in 1965 despite a ninth-place team. While the immeidate past and forseeable future are bleak, for 24 seasons, the Astros have finished above .500 with another four seasons at the breakeven mark. Houston won its first division title in 1980 thanks to a playoff game win versus the Los Angeles Dodgers. The team won its first postseason series in 2004 and reached the World Series for the only time in 2005. From 1994-2006, the Astros finished in first or second place in every season save a fourth-place hiccup in 2000. Beginning with last season, the Astros moved over to the American League, disappointing many life-long fans in Houston. The Houston Mt. Rushmore may not be as star-studded as many teams, but Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio stack up with most teams’ top two. After the two Killer Bs, the choosing gets rather dicey.


Jeff Bagwell
Houston fans love that Larry Andersen trade. Back in August of 1990, the Boston Red Sox were so stoked to get to the playoffs and thought Andersen provided the missing piece. So much so, they were willing to trade a prospect named Jeff Bagwell. Smooth. About 15 years later, the stocky first baseman was concluding his stellar career in Houston. Bagwell is first or second on just about every major offensive category in team history. He was Rookie of the Year in 1991, MVP in 1994 and had four other top-10 MVP finishes, including second in 1999. Having spent his entire career in Houston, Bags has 449 home runs and more than 1,500 runs and RBIs. Excluding the shortened 1994 and 1995 seasons, for 14 years Bagwell averaged more than 157 games per season. His number was retired in August of 2007.

Craig Biggio
Along with Bagwell, Biggio was the face of the franchise during its most successful era. Biggio arrived in Houston as an undersized, athletic catcher. He was converted to second base, and made back-to-back All-Star teams as a catcher and second baseman. He earned four Gold Gloves at his new position and made seven All-Star teams total. The second baseman finished fourth and fifth in MVP voting in 1997 and ’98. Biggio is one of 15 players with 3,000 hits with one team, and one of 10 to accomplish it while spending his entire career in one place. He ranks fifth all-time — in all of baseball — in doubles with 668, and has the most of all right-handed hitters. He started more than 250 games at catcher, second base and centerfield for the Astros.

Larry Dierker
Dierker made his debut with the Colt 45s at age 17 in 1964 and by May of the next season had joined the rotation where he would stay through the 1976 season. Dierker won 137 games for Houston and tossed 25 shutouts. He was the franchise’s first 20-game winner in 1969 and made two All-Star teams. His effect on the baseball community goes far beyond his playing career. First as a broadcaster, then as manager, Dierker was a part of the franchise for more than 35 years. He managed the team for just five seasons (1997-2001), but won four division titles. He couldn’t get over the postseason hump as his teams won just two of 14 postseason games in those four years.

Lance Berkman
The Big Puma spent the last few seasons of his career away from Houston, but he established himself among Astros greats over a 12-year career. He ranks first in on-base percentage, second in slugging and is in the top 3 in runs, total bases, home runs and RBIs. A popular member of the Astros, who along with Bagwell and Biggio, formed a trio known as the Killer Bs. Berkman was vital to the team’s postseason success in 2004-05. Over those two seasons, he batted .340 in 26 postseason games — including .385 in the 2005 World Series — with six home runs and 26 RBIs.


Close Calls
Having spent his first 12 seasons in Houston, Cesar Cedeno made four All-Star teams and won five Gold Gloves from 1972-76.

After an outstanding 13-year playing career in Houston, Jose Cruz spent another 13 years as first base coach. With 1,937 hits for Houston, Cruz had his number retired by the club in 1992.

With 11 seasons in Houston, Joe Niekro leads in all-time wins with 144 and finished second and fourth in Cy Young voting in 1979-80.

During the first eight seasons of Roy Oswalt’s tenure in Houston, the righthander averaged 16 wins and only eight losses while finishing in the top 5 in Cy Young voting five times.

A tragic stroke during the season in 1980 sidelined J.R. Richard at the height of his prime.

Nolan Ryan became the game’s first million dollar player with the Astros, but was with the team just nine years. He had two ERA titles and two strikeout titles with Houston. In six postseason starts, the Ryan Express had a 0.898 WHIP.

In nine full seasons from 1965-73, Jim Wynn, aka the Toy Cannon, averaged 24 homers, 75 RBIs and 87 runs in the very unfriendly (for hitters) Astrodome.
 

Best Current Player

It would take another sustained run of success for any current player to make his way onto to this list. Second baseman Jose Altuve is probably the best bet, but a long, long shot.
 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him Charlie.Miller@AthlonSports.com

 

Other teams' Mt. Rushmores:

American LeagueNational League
Baltimore OriolesArizona Diamondbacks
Boston Red SoxAtlanta Braves
Chicago White SoxChicago Cubs
Cleveland IndiansCincinnati Reds
Detroit TigersColorado Rockies
Houston AstrosMiami Marlins
Kansas City RoyalsLos Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles AngelsMilwaukee Brewers
Minnesota TwinsNew York Mets
New York YankeesPhiladelphia Phillies
Oakland A'sPittsburgh Pirates
Seattle MarinersSan Diego Padres
Tampa Bay RaysSan Francisco Giants
Texas RangersSt. Louis Cardinals
Toronto Blue JaysWashington Nationals

 

Teaser:
<p> This franchise was born in Houston in 1962 as the Colt 45s. The name change to the Astros coincided with the move into the nation’s first indoor stadium, the Astrodome, in 1965. The Houston Mt. Rushmore may not be as star-studded as many teams, but Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio stack up with most teams’ top two. After the two Killer Bs, the choosing gets rather dicey.</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 22, 2011 - 10:22
Path: /mlb/boston-red-sox-mt-rushmore
Body:

MLB Mt. Rushmores

by Charlie Miller

We believe that all MLB teams should have their own Mt. Rushmores. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple. Even two guys sitting in a bar can figure that out, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.

 

Boston Red Sox Mt. Rushmore

The overplayed drought of championships from 1918 to 2004 and the Curse of the Bambino have overshadowed what has been a very successful franchise. By 1918 the team had won five World Series and another AL pennant in 1904, a year there was no Series. Dark days followed from 1922-33 when they finished in last place in nine of 12 seasons and next-to-last in another two. But Sox fans have had much to cheer for recently. Even going back to 1966, there have been just seven losing seasons. They have finished worse than second place just three times since 1997. The Sox have made 13 postseason appearances in the past 28 years. And since the Curse was reversed in 2004, Boston has won two more titles (2007, 2013). However, the team has won 100 games in a season only three times, the last all the way back in 1946. The famous 1978 playoff game with the Yankees would have been the Sox 100th win had Bucky Dent not shattered Boston’s championship plans. The Red Sox pose the toughest test to date in selecting just four individuals. Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski are easy choices. The list of candidates for the last two spots is long, and filled with strong arguments.


Ted Williams
There is absolutely no doubt that Teddy Ballgame belongs here. The Splendid Splinter is also in the discussion for the MLB Hitters Mt. Rushmore. There may not have been a better hitter ever. His entire career was spent in Boston and was interrupted twice by stints in the U.S. Marine Corps — first in World War II then again during the Korean War. The 10 best on-base percentages in Boston history, ranging from .479-.553, all belong to Williams.

 

Carl Yastrzemski
It isn’t easy to step into a legend’s shoes, especially at the age of 21 and a legend the size of Williams. But that’s what was asked of Yastrzemski in 1961. But 3,308 games later, Yaz had cemented his place alongside Williams as the two greatest players in Red Sox history. Yastrzemski won three batting titles, a triple crown, made 18 All-Star teams and earned seven Gold Gloves. At ages 22 and 38 he finished 18th in MVP voting. In between, he had nine finishes that high or better, including winning the award in his triple crown season of 1967. Sadly, Yaz never won a World Series, but he batted .400 and hit three home runs in the 1967 Classic and hit .310 in the 1975 Series. Overall, he batted .369 in the postseason with 11 RBIs and 15 runs in 17 games.

 

David Ortiz
Big Papi has embodied the spirit of the Red Sox in the 2000s. Over his first five seasons with the team, he averaged .302 with 42 home runs, 128 RBIs, 105 runs and 41 doubles, and finished in the top 5 in MVP votes each year. And most importantly, the Sox won two World Series in that time. He has 17 postseason home runs and owns a .455 average with 14 RBIs in 14 World Series games.

Jim Rice
Rice is third on the Red Sox list in hits, total bases and RBIs. He and Hank Aaron (in 1959) are the only two hitters with as many as 400 total bases in a season between 1948 and 1997. From the mid-1970s to the mid-’80s, Rice was the most feared hitter in the American League.


Close Calls
You would think any player with a foul pole named for him would deserve a Mt. Rushmore honor. And Johnny Pesky remains a beloved player to fans of several generations.

 

The Game 6 home run in 1975 by Carlton Fisk certainly is on Boston’s Mt. Rushmore of moments, but the catcher had a tough breakup and spent too much time in white socks.

 

Third in career runs, fourth in hits and total bases, Dwight Evans was as good a rightfielder as we’ve seen since the 1970s.

Cy Young has an award named for him, but fewer than 200 wins in Boston.

 

Bobby Doerr made nine All-Star teams and drove in 100 runs six times. He missed a full season due to military service at age 27. He played only second base in his career and wore no other uniform.

 

From 1935 to 1947, Joe Cronin managed Lefty Grove, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr, among others, to a pennant, four second-place finishes and 10 .500 seasons or better in 13 years.

 

Tris Speaker won the 1912 MVP in a Boston uniform. In seven full-time seasons from 1909-15, he averaged .342-6-76 with 99 runs, 34 doubles and 15 triples and a .909 OPS.

 

Jimmie Foxx made six All-Star teams and won an MVP with the Sox.

 

Best Current Player
This is obviously a tough foursome to crack, but if any current member of the Red Sox can do that, it would be second baseman Dustin Pedroia. He's gritty, clutch and a fan favorite who is locked up long-term in Boston.
 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him Charlie.Miller@AthlonSports.com
 

Other teams' Mt. Rushmores:

American LeagueNational League
Baltimore OriolesArizona Diamondbacks
Boston Red SoxAtlanta Braves
Chicago White SoxChicago Cubs
Cleveland IndiansCincinnati Reds
Detroit TigersColorado Rockies
Houston AstrosMiami Marlins
Kansas City RoyalsLos Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles AngelsMilwaukee Brewers
Minnesota TwinsNew York Mets
New York YankeesPhiladelphia Phillies
Oakland A'sPittsburgh Pirates
Seattle MarinersSan Diego Padres
Tampa Bay RaysSan Francisco Giants

 

Teaser:
<p> The overplayed drought of championships from 1918 to 2004 and the Curse of the Bambino have overshadowed what has been a very successful franchise. The Red Sox pose the toughest test to date in selecting just four individuals. Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski are easy choices. The list of candidates for the last two spots is long, and filled with strong arguments.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 09:50

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