Articles By Charlie Miller

Path: /mlb/tigers-yankees-series-rests-game-3-aces
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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.

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

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

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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

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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
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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

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Post date: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 13:23
Path: /mlb/houston-astros-mt-rushmore
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MLB Mt. Rushmores

by Charlie Miller

Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history. We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, 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 fielding a ninth-place team. The Astros have finished above .500 24 seasons, with another four seasons at the breakeven mark. Houston won its first division title in 1980 thanks to a playoff game win over 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 in 2013, 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.
 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him [email protected]

 

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

Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history. We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, 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 a tough test 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, and added a third since then. 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
Pedro Martinez spent only seven years in a Boston uniform, but he won 117 games, winning 76 percent of his decisions. He was 6-2 in the postseason, but made just one start in the World Series, tossing seven shutout innings in 2004. In those seven seasons, he won two Cy Young awards, finished second twice, third once and fourth once.

 

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.

 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him [email protected]

 

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 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

Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history. We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, 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 strong since. 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 competing in its 47th season, the team has finished with the best record in its division twice in addition to 1994, 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 center fielder, 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.

 

While Ryan Zimmerman has become a fan favorite during his tenure, the player with the greatest upside and best chance to make Washington's Mt. Rushmore is outfielder Bryce Harper.

 

 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him [email protected]

 

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

Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history. We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, 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 took on the name Twins. The team has played 144 seasons, with 54 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 four seasons were disappointments, the produced six AL Central crowns over a nine-year span from 2002-10.


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.

 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him [email protected]

 

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

Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history. We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, 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, after winning an American League pennant in 2008, 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 second on the team’s all-time list in runs and third in hits, and second in total bases, first in home runs and RBIs. 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 nine seasons at the helm, he guided the Rays to their only six winning seasons, two division titles, two wild cards and an AL Pennant. After the 2014 season, Maddon had managed 53 percent of the team's games and 59 percent of the team's victories.

 

David Price

The lefty has the best ERA in team history (min. 500 IP) and is second in wins with 82. And he was that 23-year-old on the mound when the Rays clinched the AL pennant in 2008. According to Baseball-Reference.com, Price has the highest WAR among Tampa Bay pitchers.

 

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.

 

The versatile Ben Zobrist proved to be a defensive whiz all over the diamond and is among the all-time leaders in multiple categories.

 

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

 

Aubrey Huff is among the top five on most of the franchise’s all-time lists.

 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him [email protected]

 

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:
<br />
Post date: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 11:32
Path: /mlb/colorado-rockies-mt-rushmore
Body:

MLB Mt. Rushmores

by Charlie Miller

Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history. We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, 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 three 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—if Tulo remains with the team—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 2019.

 

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 nine 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 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, although that player-club relationship seems to be a bit strained now.
 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.

The aforementioned Carlos Gonzalez was on pace to join the group a few years ago, but injuries have dramatically slowed his production.

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).

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him [email protected]

 

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

Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history. We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, 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 20 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 Dodger Clayton Kershaw was 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.

 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him [email protected]

 

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
All taxonomy terms: Chicago Cubs, MLB GM firings, News
Path: /news/did-cubs-jim-hendry-deserve-be-fired
Body:

It’s about time.

All indications are that Hendry is one of the great guys in baseball. Honest. Hard-working. Compassionate.

But realistically, signing Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez to those contracts? And Carlos Silva?

Hendry’s tumultuous tenure with the Cubs comes to an end. He began his career with the Cubs in 1995 in Player Development, and had been the GM since midseason in 2002. Since that time the Cubs have been division winners, in last place, division winners again and had back-to-back fifth-place finishes in a six-team division.

Supporters will point to the fact that Hendry is the only GM in team history to take the Cubs to the postseason three times. I guess it’s flattering to say that the Cubs were a game over .500 during his tenure.

Detractors will ask, “What have you done for me lately.” Over the last three seasons (including 2011), the Cubs have had either the highest or second-highest payroll in the National League. Coming off back-to-back division titles in 2007-08, the Cubs finished second then plummeted in 2010, winning just 75 games. This season, the club is on pace to lose more than 90.

Does the good outweigh the bad?

His two best moves: Hiring Dusty Baker away from NL Champion San Francisco just days after the Giants lost the 2002 World Series. And firing Baker and hiring Lou Piniella in 2007.
The result after the Baker hiring was that a 95-loss team in 2002 turned into a division champion and winners of a postseason series for the first time since 1908. Not bad.

The Piniella hiring also yielded immediate positive results. A 96-loss last-place team became a back-to-back division winner.

Meanwhile, on the player front, Hendry’s moves weren’t too productive.

He managed to deal an unhappy Sammy Sosa and unload Milton Bradley, but in return for Bradley he received a bigger financial problem in Silva. He traded Bill Mueller a year before he would win a batting title in the American League. None of the players he received in trades, save Lee and Ramirez, would make significant contributions to the Cubs.

But ultimately it was his signings that led to his demise.

Alfonso Soriano, 8 years, $136M through 2014
Aramis Ramirez, 5 years, $75M
Milton Bradley, 3 years, $30M
Carlos Zambrano, 5 years, $91.5M, through 2012

And Chicago actually had the rights to Josh Hamilton for a brief time. It was the Cubs that selected him from the Rays in the Rule 5 draft before immediately selling his rights to the more astute Cincinnati Reds.

Ouch. Two years later, the Cubs purchased Jim Brower and David Patton from the Reds. So, I guess they’re kinda even.

So, was the firing necessary? Yes. And now we’ll see if the next Chicago GM can do something others haven’t been able to do in more than 100 years.

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, August 19, 2011 - 07:58
Path: /mlb/texas-rangers-mt-rushmore-0
Body:

MLB Mt. Rushmores

by Charlie Miller

Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history. We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.

 

Texas Rangers Mt. Rushmore

The Washington Senators bumbled through the 1960s, beginning play in 1961 before moving to the Dallas area and becoming the Texas Rangers in 1972. It wasn’t until 2010, when the Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS, that the franchise won its first playoff series. In fact, it had won only one playoff game prior to that. So, there isn’t a strong history of winning. The Senators/Rangers have won 90 or more games just seven times (including four in a row from 2010-13) and have lost 100 games or more six times — four times in Washington, twice in Texas. There have been only three 20-game winners. There is brief flirtation with greatness, though. Alex Rodriguez played shortstop here in his prime. Hall of Famers Gaylord Perry, Ferguson Jenkins, Bert Blyleven and Nolan Ryan all spent some time as the ace of the pitching staff. Leading the Washington Senators was Ted Williams’ only managing job. He served one season in Texas after three in Washington. Gil Hodges, Don Zimmer, Whitey Herzog, Billy Martin, Bobby Valentine, Buck Showalter, Mickey Vernon and Eddie Stanky all had stints leading the team from the dugout. Yet, manager Johnny Oates and Nolan Ryan are the only men whose numbers have been retired by the organization. All that is to say that the Mt. Rushmore in North Texas is still maturing. Perhaps, we shouldn’t etch these faces in stone quite yet. Beyond Ivan Rodriguez and Michael Young, the arguments begin to get interesting and cloudy. Here’s our take, however temporary this may be.


Ivan Rodriguez
After spending his first 12 seasons in Texas, the nomadic catcher left prior to the 2003 season and has since won a World Series, lost a World Series, earned three Gold Gloves and made four All-Star teams. While he was with Texas, he made 10 All-Star teams, won 10 Gold Gloves and an MVP award. He has more than 1,700 hits and more than 800 runs and RBIs for the Rangers. A certain Hall of Famer, Pudge will go into the Hall as a Ranger.

Michael Young
There are probably no better examples of a company man in baseball. Young excelled at three different positions, and was asked by the organization to move three times. After a couple of seasons as a second baseman, he was asked to move to short. After five All-Star seasons at the position, he was asked to move to third the year after winning a Gold Glove. He again made the All-Star team as a third baseman and was asked to assume a utility role. Through all that Young amassed the most hits, runs, doubles and triples in franchise history.

Nolan Ryan
Ryan pitched his sixth and seventh no-hitters for the Rangers, and his roughing up of Robin Ventura is reason enough to consider the Ryan Express as a permanent icon in Texas. However, it was his leadership that built one of the best organizations in baseball as the Rangers appeared in back-to-back World Series in 2010-11.

Juan Gonzalez
Gonzalez was in a Rangers’ uniform for 13 seasons, earning two MVP awards. He led the American League in home runs twice and hit more than 40 on three other occasions. He also topped the circuit in RBIs once. He leads the franchise in home runs, RBIs and total bases.

Close Calls
Perhaps, if he hadn’t shaken his finger at Congress, then tested positive for steroids, Rafael Palmeiro might well be on the list. He ranks high in most statistical categories, but he was in the top eight in MVP voting just twice as a Ranger.

Charlie Hough, with his knuckleball, is the all-time wins leader with 139.

Few fans in Dallas will remember the Capital Punisher, Frank Howard, since he spent only five months in a Rangers uniform. He was a feared hitter in the 1960s, spending the majority of eight seasons with the franchise. He was the Senators’ lone star and enjoyed back-to-back-to-back seasons of 44+ home runs in 1968-70, truly a second dead ball era. He finished in the top eight in MVP voting three times for the Senators.

Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins had the best season of any pitcher in a Ranger uniform with 25 wins in 1974. In six seasons spread over two stints, Jenkins won 93 games and pitched 17 shutouts.

Jeff Burroughs became the franchise’s first major award winner with the 1974 MVP.

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him [email protected]

 

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 quest continues to name the four elite members of each franchise's Mt. Rushmore. Who are the four individuals that have risen above all others for the Texas Rangers? The question sounds simple. But it isn't as easy as it sounds. Let the arguments begin.</p>
Post date: Thursday, August 18, 2011 - 16:26
Path: /news/jim-thome-hits-home-run-no-600
Body:

by Charlie Miller

When I was a kid in the 1970s, I knew three home run numbers: 755, 714, 660. Those were the totals from Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays. I didn’t know who was fourth. I knew fourth place had fewer than 600 home runs. And I thought 600 was almost as magical as 700.

Ah, those were the days. Now everyone it seems has 600 homers.

Good thing that it only seems that way and it’s not reality.

You see, 600 home runs is still a tremendous accomplishment. Barry Bonds may have tarnished the meaning of home run records, but there are still only eight men who have hit 600. Eight.

Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa and Jim Thome. That’s it. No McGwire, no Robinson, no Jackson, no Williams, no Mantle, no Musial, no Killebrew, no Palmeiro and no Manny.

The 600-Club remains an elite group. And congrats to Jim Thome for becoming the eighth member.

To put this into perspective with other recent milestones: Derek Jeter became the 28th member of the 3,000-hit club, a group just as tainted by the recent era of PEDs. It would take 3,420 hits to reach eighth place on the hits list; 2,000 runs and 1,923 RBIs.

The next member? Albert Pujols, but he’s 163 away, which puts his ETA in September of 2015.

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie

Teaser:
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Post date: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 15:20
Path: /mlb/toronto-blue-jays-mt-rushmore
Body:

MLB Mt. Rushmores

by Charlie Miller

Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history. We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.

 

Toronto Blue Jays Mt. Rushmore

The Toronto Blue Jays began play in 1977 along with the Seattle Mariners. It took the Jays six seasons to escape the cellar, but the team managed to win a division title as soon as 1985. Having competed in the same division as the Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox during their entire existence, the Jays have always had tough competition. Their success has been pretty compact with all five postseason appearances in the span of nine years from 1985-93, culminating in back-to-back World Series titles. The Jays have finished above the breakeven mark in 20 of their 38 seasons heading into 2015. Success has been difficult to come by in recent seasons. They’ve won as many as 88 games just once (1998) since the title seasons of 1992-93, and finished in the upper half of the five-team AL East just once in 20 years (2006). Toronto was once the envy of all of other MLB teams when attracting fans. During the team’s heyday in the early 1990s, the Jays topped 4 million three successive seasons. However, since the strike in 1994, attendance hasn’t reached 3 million in a season.

 

Roy Halladay
Although he ranks behind Dave Stieb on most of the career lists, Halladay dominated the American League while he was Toronto. He made his debut in 1998, but joined the rotation full-time for good in 2002. From 2002-09, Halladay made six All-Star teams and was in the top five in Cy Young voting six times as well, winning the award in 2003 with 22 wins. Over that span, Doc Halladay averaged 16-7 and 214 innings.

 

Tony Fernandez
The slick-fielding shortstop made three All-Star teams, won four Gold Gloves and amassed 1,583 hits for the Blue Jays. He’s the Jays’ all-time leader in games and hits, fourth in runs and total bases. Fernandez was traded back to the Blue Jays in June of 1993, and teamed with Alomar to give the Jays one of the best defensive middle infields in baseball. Fernandez rapped out seven hits and nine RBIs in the six-game World Series win over Philadelphia.

 

Roberto Alomar
The Hall of Fame second baseman essentially launched his Hall of Fame career in Toronto. He spent just five seasons in Toronto, but made five All-Star teams and won five Gold Gloves. He finished sixth in MVP voting three times while with the Blue Jays. He averaged 90 runs and 41 steals in his five seasons and batted .307.

 

Joe Carter
The likeable Carter doesn’t rank in the top five in any category other than RBIs, but no Blue Jays fans will ever forget him jumping with joy after his walk-off home run off Mitch Williams to end the 1993 World Series. Carter anchored the lineup in the No. 3 and No. 4 spots in the batting order for the two championship teams.


Close Calls
Few GMs have had as positive an impact on a franchise as Pat Gillick had in Toronto. The Hall of Famer built the team that captured the back-to-back titles in 1992-93.

 

The leader in franchise wins, Dave Stieb was the team’s ace throughout the 1980s and made eight All-Star teams.

 

Tom Henke is the all-time leader in saves with 217.

 

Carlos Delgado, the catcher-turned-first baseman, leads the franchise in runs, homers and RBIs.

 

Cito Gaston managed the Jays to their two World Series titles.


Slugger Jose Bautista should hit his way into the discussion before he's through in Toronto.

 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him [email protected]

 

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:
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Post date: Monday, August 15, 2011 - 10:01
Path: /news/bobby-cox-honored-braves-retire-6
Body:

by Charlie Miller

Today the Atlanta Braves will retire No. 6 in honor of long-time manager Bobby Cox.

With 2,504 wins, Cox is fourth all-time. Having won 503 more games than he lost ranks him third behind John McGraw, long-time manager of the Giants for 33 seasons, and Joe McCarthy, leader of the seven world champion Yankees squads.

Cox took a bad Braves team in the 1970s and turned a laughingstock team into a .500 team. He then turned a next-to-last Blue Jays team into a division winner in four seasons. And even more remarkable was the turnaround the Braves enjoyed going from last in 1990 to first in 1991. Led by Cox, Atlanta sustained first place from 1991-2005, save for the strike-shortened 1994 season. Cox won 15 division titles, 14 with the Braves, five pennants and a World Series.

So where does Cox stand in terms of all-time great managers? McGraw and McCarthy are probably 1-2. McGraw managed over a long period of time even as the game changed dramatically, coming out of the Dead Ball Era. McCarthy was blessed with great players, but he delivered World Series titles with regularity.

I’ll put Cox third. Even though Connie Mack won 3,731 games, he finished below .500. Among his contemporaries, Cox stands above Tony La Russa, Joe Torre, Sparky Anderson, Tommy Lasorda, Jim Leyland and Lou Piniella.

Cox won in Atlanta with a different closer every year it seemed, and only Cox could convince Smoltz to assume the closer’s role for the good of the team. Cox got the best from Deion Sanders and John Rocker. How many managers could pull that off? He won with speed (Otis Nixon) and power (Fred McGriff).

And players loved to play for Cox. He respected players, allowed them to play their games and understood how to put players in the best position to succeed.

Well-deserved recognition today, Mr. Cox.

Teaser:
<p> Atlanta manager Bobby Cox receives recognition tonight at Braves game</p>
Post date: Friday, August 12, 2011 - 06:38
Path: /mlb/giants-mt-rushmore
Body:

MLB Mt. Rushmores

by Charlie Miller

Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history. We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.

 

San Francisco Giants Mt. Rushmore
This organization began playing in 1883 as the New York Gothams before becoming known as the Giants in 1885. The Giants broke the hearts of many New York fans when the team moved to San Francisco in 1958. The Giants won five World Series while in New York. Attendance has always been strong for the Giants. They led the NL in attendance for most seasons prior to World War II. Upon moving to the Bay Area, they ranked in the top four in the NL in attendance the first eight seasons by the Pacific. Since 2000, the Giants have enjoyed crowds ranking among the top five in the league every season but two. There are few franchises with more difficult decisions for Mt. Rushmore. A franchise rich in tradition and success will certainly claim many worthy candidates. Tough calls all the way around here. Arguments will ensue.

 

Willie Mays
Perhaps the only player with no arguments against him would be the Say Hey Kid. Triples, stolen bases, RBIs and walks would be the only significant offensive categories in which you won’t find his name atop the list for the all-time franchise leaders. (And he’s second or third on those lists.) In fact, the Hall of Famer is widely considered among the best to ever play the game for any team at any position. He hit 646 home runs for the Giants and totaled 3,187 hits and scored 2,011 times. His career spanned both New York and San Francisco, making him a fan favorite in both cities.

 

Mel Ott
The first-ballot Hall of Famer reached base more as a Giant and drove in more runs than Mays. Only Mays has more total bases and hits. Ott made his debut with the Giants at age 17 in 1926, but didn’t become a regular until 1928. From that season through 1945, his last season as a full-time player, he averaged 28 home runs, 102 RBIs and 102 runs. Not a bad 18-year run. He walked 100 times in 10 of those seasons and had a .400 or better OBP 14 times. His OPS topped 1.000 seven times. He won six home run titles and finished in the top 11 in MVP voting eight times. As a 20-year-old in 1929, he posted career highs in home runs (42), RBIs (151) and OPS (1.084), and none of those led the National League.

 

Christy Mathewson
One of the first five players inducted into the Hall of Fame, Mathewson won 372 games with the Giants. From 1901-14 he averaged 26 wins a season. In those days it wasn’t unusual for an ace to make occasional relief appearances. Big Six, as he was called, did that a handful of times each year, notching what would now be known as a couple of saves each year to go with his 26 wins. He led the NL in wins four times, ERA five times and strikeouts five times. Mathewson is the only hurler to win 30 games four times since 1900. The New York ace perhaps did his best work in the World Series. He tossed three complete game shutouts in the 1905 World Series against the Philadelphia A’s. Over those 27 innings, he gave up 13 hits and walked one batter. He made 11 starts in the Series over his career with an ERA of 0.97.

 

Barry Bonds
Okay, let’s get the controversy out of the way up front. Did Barry Bonds use steroids or not? Most everyone believes it, but it has yet to be proven. And did MLB have a rule in place restricting or banning their use when Bonds played? No. What about HGH or other PEDs? But the numbers are what the numbers are. Bonds owns the six best on-base seasons in team history and the six best slugging seasons. His slugging percentage as a Giant is 100 points higher than Mays’. Bonds won five MVPs with the Giants (one of which was five years before his head expanded). He batted .312 with 586 home runs and 263 stolen bases in San Francisco. But the strongest argument for Bonds stems from the excitement he created at the ballpark. Just once in franchise history had the Giants drawn 2 million fans until Mr. Bonds showed up in 1993. That season, the Giants welcomed 2.6 million through the gates. And from 2000-04, the height of the Barry Bonds Era, the franchise enjoyed its five largest attendance seasons. And that doesn't count the many kayakers anxiously awaiting Bonds' home run balls in McCovey Cove.


Close Calls
With 469 home runs for the Giants, Willie McCovey ranks fourth in hits, homers, RBIs and total bases. He won the Rookie of the Year award in 1959 and an MVP 10 years later.

 

In one of the most spectacular feats in All-Star Game history, Carl Hubbell struck out five Hall of Famers in succession in 1934. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin all went down on strikes.

 

Juan Marichal won 238 games for the Giants, tied for third behind Hubbell and Mathewson.

 

Long-time manager John McGraw led the club to 10 pennants between 1903-32 and won three World Series.

 

Bill Terry was the last player in the National League to hit .400 and ranks in the top five in hits, runs and RBIs. His .341 batting average is best in team history.

 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him [email protected]

 

 

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 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, August 11, 2011 - 17:33
Path: /mlb/arizona-diamondbacks-mt-rushmore
Body:

MLB Mt. Rushmores

by Charlie Miller

Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history. We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.

 

Arizona Diamondbacks Mt. Rushmore

One of the two youngest franchises in baseball, the Diamondbacks joined the National League in 1998 and have enjoyed some postseason success, proving the world is different for expansion teams in recent years. Born the same year as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the D’backs won 100 games in their second season, still the high-water mark for the franchise. Free agent Randy Johnson was the ace of the staff. Three players — Steve Finley, Matt Williams and Jay Bell — hit as many as 34 homers and a fourth player, Luis Gonzalez, joined that group in driving in more than 100 runs. Tony Womack stole 72 bases, proving Arizona could win with speed and power. As with any franchise this young, the choices for Mt. Rushmore are few, and likely to change several times over the next 15 years.

 

Luis Gonzalez
The only Diamondback with his number retired, Gonzo is the franchise leader in every offensive category other than slugging, triples, strikeouts and steals. As a hitter in Arizona history, there is no equal. The left fielder spent eight seasons in Phoenix and made five All-Star teams, and was third in MVP voting in 2001. During those eight seasons, Gonzalez batted .298 and averaged 98 runs and 97 RBIs with 39 doubles and 28 homers; pretty good numbers even in the Steroid Era. He was there for three of the team’s four division titles, and had the most memorable hit in franchise history, the bloop single over second base for a World Series walk-off in 2001.

Randy Johnson
The Big Unit arrived in Arizona as a free agent in 1999 as a 35-year-old ace and immediately won four consecutive Cy Young awards. He shared the 2001 World Series MVP award with fellow ace, Curt Schilling. In two stints with the team, Johnson was present for the first four division titles. And during his eight seasons as a member of the Diamondbacks, the team averaged 85 wins per season.

Steve Finley
A top center fielder, Finley won two Gold Gloves as a member of the D’backs. He scored 100 runs a couple of times and drove in 103 once. He hit more than 30 homers twice and was an All-Star in 2000. Finley ranks second behind Gonzalez on the D’backs career lists in most offensive categories.

Brandon Webb
Webb made 198 starts and won 87 games during his tenure with Arizona — all second to Johnson. The eighth-round draft pick in 2000 made his debut in 2003 and won the Cy Young award in 2006 before finishing second in the voting in 2007-08.

Close Calls
With just a little more time in Phoenix, Paul Goldschmidt would likely have earned a spot.

The 2001 World Series co-MVP, Curt Schilling, had too short of a tenure in Arizona to make the mountain. His career numbers in an Arizona uniform pale next to Webb’s.

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him [email protected]

 

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> I am continuing the series of MLB Mt. Rushmores. 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: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - 11:01
Path: /mlb/yadier-molina-suspended-5-games
Body:

Watching the tension-filled Cardinals-Brewers game Tuesday, I was prepared for some kind of fireworks. What I didn’t see coming was St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina going ballistic. The All-Star catcher has been hitting well this season, and has been as stellar behind the plate as usual. He’s been a steady producer in a lineup of big hitters and has been a steadying influence for the pitching staff.

So why did Molina fly off the handle Tuesday night? There didn’t seem to be anything brewing between Yadi and home plate umpire Rob Drake. In fact, Drake seemed tardy in warning both benches when Cardinals reliever Jason Motte’s first attempt to hit Ryan Braun failed.

And the pitch that Drake called Molina out on just wasn’t that bad. In fact, it could have been argued by the Brewers had it been called a ball. Evidently, Molina felt the Cardinals’ pitchers weren’t getting the same breaks their opponents were from Drake. But isn’t there a better, more diplomatic way to handle that?

I’m not sure what, but I believe it was more than just one missed pitch that lit Molina’s fuse. He exploded as I’ve never seen before. And his actions will hurt his team. If Molina doesn’t appeal the suspension, which all players do, he’ll miss some or all of the Milwaukee series in St. Louis next week. If he accepts the punishment beginning tonight at Florida, he’ll miss the first game Tuesday night against the Brew Crew — if none of the four scheduled games in Florida are hurricaned out. At any rate, this is not a time for the Cardinals to lose their catcher.

Molina has been one of my favorite players to watch. He battles at the plate, is a defensive force behind it and has a cannon. But this time, his poor judgment could cost his team. And why? No sound reason at all.

Teaser:
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Post date: Thursday, August 4, 2011 - 17:16
Path: /mlb/oakland-athletics-mt-rushmore
Body:

MLB Mt. Rushmores

by Charlie Miller

Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history. We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.

 

Oakland A's Mt. Rushmore

The Athletics have won nine World Series titles, five in Philadelphia, four in Oakland. In between Philadelphia and Oakland, the organization spent 13 losing years in Kansas City before moving to the West Coast in 1968. For 50 seasons, Connie Mack led the team in his business suit from the dugout. There have been several short impressive stretches for the A’s, but overall, the franchise is below breakeven. From 1910-14 the A’s won four AL pennants and three World Series, then finished in last place the next seven seasons. From 1925-33, the A’s were first, second or third with three consecutive pennants and a couple more World Series. From 1971-75, the A’s won five straight AL West crowns and three World Series in a row. From 1988-92 they won four of five division titles and went to the playoffs from 2000-03. Of their 10 100-win seasons, half of them came in Philadelphia, half in Oakland. Whether it was in Philadelphia or Oakland, the organization seems to have a knack for developing Hall of Famers who spend only parts of their careers with the franchise. That’s certainly the case for the four gentlemen selected for the mountain.


Al Simmons
Few, if any, fans living today remember watching Simmons for the Philadelphia A’s. From 1924-32 he was considered among the 10 best players in the American League. He still holds the franchise records for total bases, RBIs and batting average. He’s second in hits and fifth in runs.

 

Jimmie Foxx
Double X was a huge pain for opponents, winning back-to-back MVP awards in 1932-33 as a member of the Philadelphia A’s, and teamed with Al Simmons as a feared 1-2 punch in the lineup almost equal to Ruth-Gehrig. Simmons and Foxx hit 4-5 in the lineup for the 1929-30 World Champs. Foxx is second in average and RBIs, and third in total bases.

 

Rickey Henderson
The most prolific base stealer of all-time scored more runs than any other player in baseball. All of his stats weren’t accumulated with the A’s, but across his four stints with the club, the six-time A’s All-Star amassed 1,768 hits, 1,270 runs and 867 stolen bases over 14 seasons. He won an MVP award in 1990 and finished second in 1981.

 

Connie Mack
The Tall Tactician is most remembered for wearing a business suit in the dugout for 50 seasons. In many respects, Mack represents the face of the franchise — or at least he did for 50 years as owner/manager. During his 50 years at the helm, the A's finished with 25 winning seasons and 25 losing seasons. His teams played in eight World Series, winning five.

 

Close Calls

Lefty Grove, the ace of the dominant Philadelphia teams from 1929-31, spent just nine seasons with the A’s, but led the AL in wins four times, ERA five times, strikeouts seven times and even had what would have been nine saves had that been a statistic at the time to lead the league the same year he led in wins. He was 195-79 for Philadelphia, averaging 22 wins and six “saves” per season. He was named AL MVP in 1931.

 

Eddie Plank was the ace of the staff for its first 14 seasons. During that time he averaged 20 wins a season, totaling 284, most all-time for the franchise.

 

The franchise leader in games and hits, Bert Campaneris, must get some consideration. Besides, he once played all nine positions in one game.

 

Mr. October was a different player as No. 9 for the A’s before he became No. 44 in the Bronx. The athletic Reggie Jackson stole bases and was adept in right field with one of the strongest throwing arms in the game. His No. 9 is retired in Oakland.

 

A Hall of Famer and member of three World Series teams in Oakland, Catfish Hunter won 161 games and a Cy Young award in 10 seasons with the A’s.

 

One of the relief pitchers who defined the role of closer, Rollie Fingers appeared in more than 500 games and had 136 saves.

 

Dennis Eckersley redefined his career as a closer in Oakland under the tutelage of Dave Duncan. Eck notched 320 saves for the A’s, earning an MVP and Cy Young trophy along the way.

 

Sal Bando was the captain of five straight division winners in the 1970s, winning three World Series.

 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him [email protected]

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> I am continuing the series of MLB Mt. Rushmores. 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, August 4, 2011 - 05:58
Path: /mlb/mlb-trade-deadline-winners-and-losers
Body:

by Charlie Miller

Winners
Philadelphia Phillies
After making a run at Carlos Beltran of the Mets, the Phillies acquired Hunter Pence (right) from Houston. It would have been a surprise had the Mets actually dealt with a division rival. It was also surprising that the Phillies focused their efforts on improving their lineup. They must believe getting Brad Lidge back will be enough to deepen their bullpen, which actually had been a strength this season despite being hit hard with injuries.

Texas Rangers
Strengthened their bullpen with two of the dominant setup men in the game in Mike Adams from San Diego and Koji Uehara from Baltimore. With closer Neftali Feliz set for the ninth inning, Adams and Uehara essential turn Texas games into 6-inning games. In the 95 innings the two have combined to pitch this season, they have 11 strikeouts and only 17 walks with a 1.42 ERA. As the rotation begins to tire, taking pressure off the starters to go deep into games should really bolster the staff. The Texas offense should continue to be no problem. These moves also give the Rangers a better chance to compete with New York and Boston in the playoffs. Right now, the Rangers might be favored in a series with either team.

Atlanta Braves
The Braves traded youngster Jordan Schafer and two Double-AA starters to obtain the MLB steals leader Michael Bourn from Houston. With catcher Brian McCann out for significant time with a rib cage injury, the Braves desperately need to boost their lineup. Chipper Jones should return this week to improve the middle of the order, but Bourn provides a spark at the top of a lineup that will rely more on manufacturing runs. With a pitching staff that keeps the Braves in just about every game, using speed to put pressure on defenses will serve Atlanta well.

Cleveland Indians
It may not be enough to finish off the deal in the AL Central, but acquiring Ubaldo Jimenez was a coup for the upstart Indians. If nothing else, the organization has convinced its fans that it is serious this season. Jimenez, who can be a horse atop the rotation for the stretch drive, is under contract for less than $10 million per season through 2014.

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Sports editor Charlie Miller evaluates the deadline deals and determines winners and losers.</p>
Post date: Monday, August 1, 2011 - 12:55

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