Articles By Charlie Miller

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
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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:
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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
Body:

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

Teaser:
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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
Body:

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
All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /news/remembering-911-10-years-later
Body:

by Charlie Miller

Ten years ago, our country experienced the most horrific event within our borders. Like every other aspect of our daily lives, sporting events were put on hold for more than a week. For commissioners and sports officials in 2001, there was no precedent. This wasn’t a hurricane to be dodged. This wasn’t a lightning storm. This was a real threat. For several days after the attacks, communication was spotty and even the extent of devastation wasn’t clear. Many details were sketchy, but it was clear that towers fell, the Pentagon burned and lives were lost.

Later that week, I penned the following thoughts for our weekly college football newsletter in place of what normally was game scores, a schedule and Athlon’s selections for Players of the Week.

For those of you who will never forget from someone who will always remember.

(From Athlon Sports Inside Saturday College Football newsletter, Sept. 15, 2001)
For those of us who cover sports on a daily basis, it’s natural to accept the great importance fans place on sporting events like college and pro football. In fact, we the media share much of the responsibility for fostering fans’ attitudes. For without rabid fans, the media is nothing but tinkling cymbals.

The tragic events of Sept. 11 forever changed our perspectives. I wasn’t alive when Pearl Harbor was attacked. In fact, my parents were quite young and do not recall that incident with the gravity it deserves. But the attack on American soil, on innocent, non-military individuals has until now been unthinkable.

One of the most recognized landmarks in this country, and symbolic of our national prosperity and pride, is gone. Now the Tennessee-Florida football in Gainesville seems rather meaningless.

The cowardly attack on Tuesday, which I consider war (if it is not war, I certainly hope I never see what war really is), was not an attack on buildings. It was not an attack on our military. It was an attack on our freedoms and our way of life. The fabrics of American freedoms are woven with cloth of every race, the old, the young, different religions and many national origins. That fabric is decorated with baseball games, pennant races, the chase for home run records, college football, mascots, bands at halftime, tailgate parties, touchdown passes, flea-flickers, slam dunks, no-look passes, yes, even technical fouls.

Those elements are as much a part of our heritage of freedom as the Liberty Bell, the Golden Gate Bridge and Mount Rushmore.

This attack was on all Americans and everything we love about life and our freedoms. Will we ever be as comfortable flying again? Will we ever be as comfortable sitting in the stands at the Rose Bowl? As much as we would like the answer to be yes, we know that fear and doubt have been planted in the backs of our minds. At the moment that happened, the terrorists won. If we can’t enjoy the Super Bowl and college football on a Saturday afternoon in peace, then what do we have?

I respect the decisions of officials who have postponed or canceled sporting events recently. However, I believe we must return to normalcy quickly and prove to ourselves, each other and the rest of the world that we are not afraid to be prosperous and enjoy life.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones in these tragedies. I cannot begin to imagine the terror experienced by those people in New York and at the Pentagon. I cannot begin to imagine the pain family members of those who have not come home must be feeling. And no sporting event, no World Series, no Michael Jordan jump shot will ever erase those feelings.

I am going to continue to love my daughters and teach them to throw and catch and run. But I will not teach them to hate. Here’s hoping they enjoy a lifetime of Super Bowls without fear of terrorism.

Teaser:
<p> Ten years ago, our country experienced the most horrific event within our borders. Like every other aspect of our daily lives, sporting events were put on hold for more than a week.</p>
Post date: Sunday, September 11, 2011 - 08:10
Path: /mlb/washington-nationals-franchise-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.

Washington Nationals Mt. Rushmore

No other franchise suffered as much from the effects of the 1994 players strike as the Montreal Expos. One of the most tragic injustices in baseball is the fate of the 1994 Expos. On pace to win 105 games and six games ahead of the mighty Atlanta Braves, the most promising season in franchise history was erased by the strike. The team never recovered from the losses at the turnstiles or in local broadcast deals and eventually fell under the control of MLB. Ted Lerner purchased the franchise in 2006, and financial stability has been good. This franchise is the only one of the 30 current organizations never to win a postseason series after a full season of play. The only series this franchise can claim is the 1981 NLDS between first- and second-half NL East champions. The Montreal Expos defeated the Philadelphia Phillies is the best-of-five series, 3-2. The Expos were then beaten by the Dodgers in the NLCS. Now entering its 46th season, the team has finished with the best record in its division twice, and second eight times. Given that history, it’s surprising to find as many worthy candidates for the Expos/Nationals Mt. Rushmore.

Andre Dawson
Along with his friend Tim Raines, Dawson was part of the first dismantling of a contender in the late-1980s (the second coming after the 1994 strike). Reportedly, Dawson signed a blank contract to join the Chicago Cubs after no other team made strong overtures for the future Hall of Famer’s services. While a member of the Expos, the Hawk won Rookie of the Year, was MVP runner-up twice, won six Gold Gloves as a centerfielder, hit 225 home runs, stole 253 bases and drove in and scored more than 800 runs in his 1,443 games. Playing all those seasons on the hard turf at Olympic Stadium took a toll on his knees, retarding his production in his later years.

Tim Raines
Raines is the franchise’s all-time leader in runs and stolen bases, and is second on the franchise list in average and hits. The seven-time All-Star finished in the top 7 in MVP voting three times as an Expo. He owns four stolen base titles, a batting title and led the NL in runs scored twice, once in 1987 even though he wasn’t signed by the Expos until May 1 after getting caught in the middle of the owners’ collusion in free agency bidding.

Vladimir Guerrero
Guerrero, who never saw a pitch he couldn’t hit, was the last real star in Montreal. He left the team via free agency prior to the 2004 season. He had three seasons of 1.000+ OPS and in 2002 he led the National League with 206 hits and was one home run shy of reaching 40-40 status. He ended his tenure in Montreal with 1,004 games, 234 home runs and a franchise-best .323 batting average.

Gary Carter
The Kid made a couple of Opening Day starts in right field before settling in behind the plate. His broad smile and fan appeal was a fixture in Montreal from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s. He ranks second, third or fourth in most offensive categories. The Hall of Famer made seven All-Star teams and won three Gold Gloves behind the plate. Four of his All-Star appearances were starts, and he hit three home runs and batted .400 in his All-Star starts. He led the National League in RBIs in 1984. The Expos reluctantly traded their superstar to the Mets for four established major league players prior to the 1985 season fearing they would not be able to afford him and would lose him to free agency. His final franchise tallies include 220 homers and more than 2,400 total bases in over 1,500 games.


Close Calls
Unlike the others on this list of candidates, Tim Wallach spent most of his productive seasons in Montreal. Consequently, he is high on the all-time list in most every category. But he didn’t seem to have the star impact the other players carried.

From 1969-76 the Expos had eight different starting pitchers on Opening Day. Steve Rogers was the eighth and made eight consecutive Opening Day starts of his nine total for the team. He leads the franchise with 158 wins and 37 shutouts.

Felipe Alou managed the team through some tough economic times for eight-plus seasons, leading the team to two of their best seasons in history (1993-94).

Le Grand Orange, aka Rusty Staub, was the first major league hero in Montreal. He was the team’s All-Star rep its first three seasons and his No. 10 is retired even though Andre Dawson wore it proudly for 10 years after Staub.

Surprisingly, Jose Vidro is fifth in hits and games played. He’s also the only player to start multiple All-Star Games as a member of the franchise other than the four players selected above.

Best Current Player

While Ryan Zimmerman has become a fan favorite during his tenure, the players with the greatest upside and best chance to make Washington's Mt. Rushmore are outfielder Bryce Harper and starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg.

 

 

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> No other franchise suffered as much from the effects of the 1994 players strike as the Montreal Expos. One of the most tragic injustices in baseball is the fate of the 1994 Expos. On pace to win 105 games and six games ahead of the mighty Atlanta Braves, the most promising season in franchise history was erased by the strike. The faces on this monument played in Montreal, but some youngsters in Washington could soon replace them.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 9, 2011 - 11:55
Path: /mlb/twins-franchise-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.

Minnesota Twins Mt. Rushmore

The Minnesota Twins franchise began in Washington as the Senators (sometimes known as Nationals) in 1901. The team moved to Minneapolis in 1961 and became known as the Twins. The team has played 113 seasons, with 53 of them in Minneapolis. There have been 14 first-place finishes, six pennants and three World Series titles. The Twins have just one 100-win season, which came in 1965, a year they lost the World Series in seven games to the Dodgers. The Twins hold the distinction of winning the first two AL West titles in 1969-70, and were also one of two teams in 1991 (along with the Braves) to turn a last-place team into a winner. The Twins defeated the Braves in an epic World Series, winning Game 7 1-0 in extra innings. While the past two seasons were disappointments, the first nine seasons under current manager Ron Gardenhire produced six AL Central crowns.


Walter Johnson
The Big Train would be in the discussion for MLB Mt. Rushmore. Certainly he would appear on the Pitchers Mt. Rushmore. His 417 wins, 3,509 strikeouts and 2.17 ERA are all franchise bests — by far. He completed 531 games and pitched 110 shutouts, a major league record not likely to be broken. Of the nine 25-win seasons in team history, Johnson owns seven of them. He owns 11 of the team’s 13 best ERA seasons — all better than 1.90. No way to argue this selection.

Harmon Killebrew
The Killer’s career spanned Washington and Minnesota and began as an 18-year-old in 1954. Killebrew hit 559 home runs and reached base via hit, walk or HBP 3,576 times. The versatile Hall of Famer made 11 All-Star teams, but was conspicuously not selected in 1962, a year he hit 48 home runs and finished third in MVP balloting. He started six of those All-Star Games, one in left, two at third and three at first. The owner of six home run titles was the 1969 AL MVP and finished in the top 4 five other times.

Rod Carew
Carew played for the Twins for 12 seasons, and 12 times was selected to the All-Star team. He missed the 1970 game due to injury, but started the other 11, getting two triples in the 1978 game, his last in a Minnesota uniform. The Hall of Famer was named Rookie of the Year and MVP as a Twin and finished in the top 10 in MVP voting six times. He won seven batting titles and was hitting .366 in 1970 when a knee injury shortened his season to just 204 plate appearances. His .334 batting average ranks first in franchise history and his 2,085 hits, fifth. Of his 19 stolen bases in 1969, seven of them were steals of home.

Kirby Puckett
Before his career was cut short due to complications from glaucoma, Puckett was a favorite in Minnesota as he anchored the lineup on two World Series champs. The 10-time All-Star finished in the top seven in MVP voting seven times and was runner-up in 1992. He totaled 2,304 hits for the Twins and another 30 in 24 postseason games, including five home runs.


Close Calls
Sam Rice, a Hall of Famer, ranks first in runs and hits and second in games and total bases, but doesn’t carry the same excitement as the other members of the Hall.

Jim Kaat, whose career began in Washington, is second on the wins list with 190 and won 12 Gold Gloves while pitching for the Twins. He finished as high as fifth in MVP voting in 1966 with 25 wins.

One of the first stars in Minnesota, Tony Oliva was named Rookie of the Year, made eight All-Star teams, won three batting titles and was twice MVP runner-up. But he amassed just 1,917 hits and 220 home runs.

Along with Puckett, a stalwart of the 1987 and 1991 champions, Kent Hrbek had his No. 14 retired by the Twins in 1995

Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven, began his career with the Twins and rejoined the team later. Now a broadcaster for the team, he won 149 games in a Minnesota uniform.

Best Current Player
Hometown kid Joe Mauer is likely to spend his entire career with the Twins. His move to first base this season should allow him to stay in the lineup everyday and post significant career numbers.

 

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 Minnesota Twins franchise began in Washington as the Senators (sometimes known as Nationals) in 1901. The team moved to Minneapolis in 1961 and became known as the Twins. There have been many Hall of Famers perform for this franchise, but only four can be enshrined on our Mt. Rushmore.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 9, 2011 - 11:45
Path: /mlb/tampa-bays-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.

Tampa Bay Rays Mt. Rushmore

The Devil Rays spent nine of their first 10 years of existence languishing in last place, with seemingly no hope of competing with the heavyweights in New York and Boston. Then came a minor name change from Devil Rays to just Rays, and a major cultural change under manager Joe Maddon. The team wore shirts that said 9+9=8. Their motivation was that nine guys playing hard for nine innings equals one of eight teams playing in the postseason. Certainly a key to their success was that during the years spent in last place, the team was spending more than the big market teams on draft picks and player development. That strategy paid off, and the Rays are now going head-to-head with wealthier teams in the AL East.


Carl Crawford
There can absolutely be no argument here. The only category among the franchise’s all-time list that I could find without Crawford’s name at the top was home runs, and he is fourth in team history with 104. The team’s first real star, Crawford made four All-Star teams and stole 409 bases. From 2003 (the year he became a full-time starter) to 2010, he averaged .299 with 13 homers, 70 RBIs, 50 stolen bases, 93 runs and 12 triples. The fans’ warm reception upon his return to Tropicana Field in 2011 in a Red Sox uniform spoke volumes to his popularity.

Evan Longoria
The popular third baseman is fourth on the team’s all-time list in runs and fifth in hits, and second in total bases, home runs and RBIs. With two homers and 49 RBIs, he will become the franchise leader in both categories. He is currently the face of the franchise and under contract through 2022 with a team option for 2023. He has seven postseason home runs in 21 games.

Joe Maddon
The innovative manager is responsible for all the good seasons in team history. In his eight seasons at the helm, he’s guided the Rays to their only six winning seasons, two division titles, two wild cards and an AL Pennant. He has managed 50 percent of the team's games and 57 percent of the team's victories.

Andrew Friedman
In 2005, at the age of 28, Friedman was promoted from his position in player development to general manager. Under his leadership, the franchise saw its first success in 2008.


Close Calls
James Shields' 87 wins, eight shutouts and 19 complete games are tops on the team’s all-time lists.

The former No. 2 overall draft pick, B.J. Upton, was a fixture in center field from 2007-12 and was a key player in the Rays’ AL Championship in 2008.

Lefty David Price has the best ERA in team history (min. 500 IP) and is second in wins with 71. And he was that 23-year-old on the mound when the Rays clinched the AL pennant in 2008.

Aubrey Huff is second or third on most of the franchise’s all-time lists.

Best Current Player
With Longoria already one of the four, Price shouldn't be too far behind, except for the fact that he may not be a member of the Rays much longer. If the Rays can sign him long-term, then Price will rocket onto the shrine before the ink is dry on the contract.
 

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 Tampa Bay franchise hasn't been around that long, but there are four individuals who have distinguished themselves enough to be honored on Mt. Rushmore.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 9, 2011 - 06:12
Path: /news/stephen-strasburg-takes-mound-again
Body:

by Charlie Miller

Last night the capital was abuzz with excitement not seen in a few years. And it had nothing to do with job creation, bond ratings or tax relief.


Mr. Strasburg was in the house.

Yes, Stephen Strasburg made the second most anticipated start of his career last night. The first came on June 8, 2010.

Amidst all the anticipation, speculation and exhilaration the media mustered pregame, there stood a calm, relaxed, tall righthander, seemingly taking it all in stride.

And in all the chatter about pitch count, first-pitch strikes, velocity, command and all the other buzz words, no one talked about the maturity of Strasburg. As a pitcher or as an athlete.

But last night Strasburg performed like a polished pitcher, a vast improvement from the flame-thrower he was last June. And that’s taking nothing away from just how good he was last season.

In his first major league start, he threw 94 pitches, many of them clocking triple digits on radar guns, and he whiffed 14 batters in seven innings. Batters swung and missed 17 times.

Last night, he threw just 56 pitches, 40 for strikes and there were only four swings from Dodgers that came up empty. He was intentional and efficient with an assortment of pitches. He threw not so much like a young buck with all the talent in the world, but like an experienced veteran understanding just how to use his immense talent.

Whether it was soul-searching expected from a pitcher rehabbing from Tommy John surgery or just a matter of time, Stephen Strasburg has matured into an elite pitcher and what a future he will have in Washington. A brighter future than anyone else working in that town.

Teaser:
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Post date: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 11:32
Path: /mlb/colorado-rockies-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.

Colorado Rockies Mt. Rushmore
For a franchise that began in 1993, there has been very little to celebrate. With no division titles, the Rockies have made just three postseason appearances as the National League wild card team, and won two playoff series, both in 2007 before getting swept in the World Series. Amazingly, there have been just six managers and virtually only two first basemen in team history. Beyond Todd Helton and Larry Walker, there is plenty to argue about.

Todd Helton
There is no doubt that Helton is Mr. Rockie. He may be challenged over the next 10 years by Troy Tulowitzki, but for now there is no argument. He is the franchise leader in games, hits, runs, homers, RBIs, total bases and more. The career .316 hitter has more than 2,500 hits and 1,300 walks. He has topped 1,400 in both runs and RBIs. He owns three Gold Gloves to boot. Helton, who once started at quarterback at the University of Tennessee (ahead of Peyton Manning), will receive serious Hall of Fame consideration in five years.

Larry Walker
Ranking second to Helton in all those categories is Walker. The former right fielder leads the franchise in average and OPS. Walker signed as a free agent prior to the 1995 season and put together nine-plus outstanding seasons in Denver, including an MVP season in 1997. As a member of the Rockies, Walker won three batting titles, a home run crown and five Gold Gloves in addition to his MVP award.

Troy Tulowitzki
It’s way too early — or so it seems — to put Tulowitzki on Mt. Rushmore. But, he has made seven consecutive Opening Day starts. Only Helton (16) and Walker (8) have more more Opening Day starts for the Rockies. He’s creeping up the all-time lists and with a contract that ostensibly makes him a lifetime Rockie, Tulo is poised to become the most beloved of all. He certainly earns brownie points here by signing a long-term deal and showing loyalty to the franchise.
But his spotty injury history may prevent him from overtaking the Toddfather.

Aaron Cook
So maybe you didn’t expect to see a pitcher on the Rockies’ mountain. Chances are that he’ll be usurped by Carlos Gonzalez in a few years. But for now, we like the franchise leader with 74 wins. He’s the only Colorado pitcher to start more than 200 games and log more than 1,300 innings.

Close Calls
Clint Hurdle managed the team to its only appearance in the World Series.

In the days before the humidor, hitters like Vinny CastillaDante Bichette and Andres Galarraga posted huge numbers in the thin air of the Mile High City.

Matt Holliday’s career in Colorado was brief, but he won a batting title and will always be remembered for scoring the winning run in the 13th inning of the one-game playoff that put the Rockies into the playoffs in 2007 (even if he never really touched the plate).

Best Current Player
As mentioned above, Carlos Gonzalez is quickly playing himself onto this shrine. But he hasn't cracked the top 10 in hits just yet.

 

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:
<br />
Post date: Monday, September 5, 2011 - 09:58
Path: /mlb/dodgers-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 Dodgers Mt. Rushmore

The Dodgers’ franchise owns a rich history in both Brooklyn — for 74 seasons dating to 1884 — and Los Angeles, where the Dodgers have played since 1958. There was only one World Series title in Brooklyn (1955), but the team made nine World Series appearances while in Brooklyn, six of them coming in the franchise’s final 11 seasons there before moving west. There have been nine World Series appearances since moving to L.A., with the Dodgers winning five of them, the latest coming in 1988.

 

Jackie Robinson
For reasons that transcend the game itself, Robinson arguably belongs on baseball’s Mt. Rushmore. In his relatively short career with the Dodgers, Robinson won NL Rookie of the Year, an MVP in 1949 and the hearts of Dodgers fans, many of whom initially shunned the Hall of Famer. With his speed, defense, determination — not to mention talent — he was a catalyst in every aspect of the game.

 

Sandy Koufax
Four pitchers have more wins in a Dodgers’ uniform than Koufax, including three Hall of Famers. But during a five-year stretch from 1962-66, Koufax averaged 22 wins, seven shutouts, a 0.926 WHIP and 1.95 ERA. Suffice it to say that any manager would sign up for those numbers just once. And two months before his 31st birthday, Koufax turned in his uniform, citing elbow pain as becoming too severe.

 

Duke Snider
The Duke had seven All-Star seasons in Brooklyn before moving west and having another two solid seasons in Los Angeles. From 1953-55 he finished in the top four in MVP voting each season, narrowly missing the award in 1955, falling just five points shy of teammate Roy Campanella. He is the Dodgers’ all-time leader in home runs and RBIs and is second in total bases and third in runs.

 

Vin Scully
It’s true that the historic franchise has several players and at least a couple of managers worthy of having their likenesses etched in Dodger stone, but Scully’s list of honors and awards and Hall of Fame memberships is endless. He received a lifetime achievement Emmy Award 18 years ago. Scully began broadcasting for the team in Brooklyn in 1950. The native of New York made the move west with the team and has become synonymous with the franchise. Always working alone in the booth, the adept storyteller’s warm, conversational commentary not only describes the action on the field, but bestows upon listeners insight and knowledge in as entertaining way as anyone ever has from behind the microphone. Current Dodgers Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw were not yet born when the legendary voice was inducted into the broadcasters’ wing of the Hall of Fame in 1982.


Close Calls

Zack Wheat, the franchise’s all-time leader in games played, hits and total bases, led the team to two World Series.

Perhaps there has never been an ambassador for the game of baseball like Tommy Lasorda, not to mention an ambassador for Dodger Blue.

 

Working on one-year contracts, Walter Alston managed the team from 1954-76, leading the Dodgers to seven World Series, winning four. He had just four losing seasons, and of the 20 95-win seasons in team history, Alston was at the helm for seven of them.

 

Roy Campanella was an All-Star in eight of his 10 major league seasons, winning the MVP award three times.

Third all-time in games played as a Dodger, Pee Wee Reese tops the list in runs and is second in hits.

 

An intimidating presence on the mound, Don Drysdale won 209 games in his career spent exclusively with the Dodgers.

Dazzy Vance was 28-6 with a 2.16 ERA as NL MVP in 1924, his best season.

 

No one won more games, logged more innings or had more strikeouts as a Dodger than Don Sutton.

 

Best Current Player

Left-handed pitcher Clayton Kershaw has drawn a few comparisons to Koufax. Kershaw is going for his fourth straight ERA title in 2014.

 

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 is the latest in the series naming the greatest individuals in the history of each franchise — or each franchise's own Mt. Rushmore. The question was posed earlier this season whether Derek Jeter should be considered as part of the Yankees’ Mt. Rushmore. That certainly piqued my interest. Not really the Jeter-Yankees part, but the idea that all MLB teams should have their own Mt. Rushmores. Who are the four individuals that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple. But it isn't as easy as it sounds. Let the arguments begin.</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 1, 2011 - 12:48

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