Articles By Charlie Miller

All taxonomy terms: Gary Carter, Montreal Expos, MLB
Path: /news/remembering-hall-fame-catcher-gary-carter
Body:

by Charlie Miller

In the summer of 1974, I attended my first minor league baseball game. Although I had been to a handful of major league games with larger crowds and familiar players, this was my first experience seeing players in a more intimate setting — and watching players I had never heard about.

But there were a couple of players on the Memphis Blues that were familiar to me. One was leftfielder and leadoff hitter, Pepe Mangual, the other, Gary Carter. I didn’t understand the ramifications of a 20-year-old catcher playing at the Triple-A level. My dad made sure that I knew to watch Carter and Mangual because they would be major league players one day.

So when Carter made his first All-Star team as a rookie in 1975, I felt somehow closer to him than the other stars on TV. He played left field in that game and seeing him in that All-Star Game made me eager to attend more minor league games and the game’s rising stars.

But more than the memory of watching Carter play in my first minor league game, I’ll remember his energy and smile. He always played the game with effort and with a broad smile. He made baseball look like so much fun when he was on the field.

I know his family, as well as his baseball family, will dearly miss The Kid, who died Thursday at age 57. His daughter, Kimmy Bloemers, softball coach at Palm Beach Atlantic, reported Carter’s death on the family website.

“I am deeply saddened to tell you all that my precious dad went to be with Jesus today at 4:10 p.m. This is the most difficult thing I have ever had to write in my entire life but I wanted you all to know. He is in heaven and has reunited with his mom and dad. I believe with all my heart that dad had a STANDING OVATION as he walked through the gates of heaven to be with Jesus,” Bloemers wrote.

His friends around baseball were saddened with news, although it was not unexpected. Carter had been battling malignant tumors for some time.

“Gary Carter was everything you wanted in a sports hero: a great talent, a great competitor, a great family man, and a great friend,” former Mets pitcher and teammate Ron Darling said.

“I am so sad! The Kid has left us,” fellow Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench tweeted. “I started calling him Kid the first time I met him. He was admired and loved. Thank you for our past.”

Teaser:
<p> Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter died Thursday at age 57. He was catching for the Memphis Blues at my first minor league game.</p>
Post date: Friday, February 17, 2012 - 14:31
Path: /mlb/new-york-yankees-mt-rushmore
Body:

MLB Mt. Rushmores

by Charlie Miller

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

New York Yankees Mt. Rushmore

The team that started the entire Mt. Rushmore discussion. Now that I’ve waded through the likes of Brandon Webb, Aaron Cook, Jeff Conine and Randy Jones as faces on teams’ Mt. Rushmores, it’s time to attempt to cull the illustrious history of the New York Yankees down to four men. Four. From Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig to Joe DiMaggio to Mickey Mantle to Reggie Jackson to Derek Jeter. Perhaps we should allow an organization with 27 World Series titles eight faces on its Mt. Rushmore — or at least six. But we’re sticking to the rule of only four faces on Mt. Rushmore, even with the Yankees. And for a team that boasts 15 retired numbers (with Jeter’s No. 2, Mariano Rivera’s No. 42 and possibly Joe Torre’s No. 6 to follow), there are numerous candidates. But we’ll have to identify the four guys who have risen above all others. I’m sure the arguments will be aplenty. Here goes:

Babe Ruth
The Sultan of Swat was larger than life. He transformed his career from one of the game’s best pitchers to, perhaps, the game’s greatest hitter of all-time, not just his era. The Babe was a household name for generations nationwide. Ruth ushered in the Live Ball Era making the home run something to behold. As a pitcher, Ruth won an ERA title and led the AL in shutouts with nine in 1916. That season he became one of five pitchers to toss more than 320 innings without giving up a long ball. He was 3-0 with a 0.87 ERA in three World Series starts. But for, oh about 714 reasons, Babe gave up pitching for right field. He then proceeded to win 12 home run titles, a batting title and six RBI crowns on his way to establishing the standard for home runs hit during a season and career. From 1918-29 Ruth hit more than 10 percent of the home runs in the American League. He outhomered half (or more) of the teams in the league during eight of those 12 seasons, outswatting all seven rivals in both 1920 and 1927.

Lou Gehrig
Ruth’s partner in offensive assaults was the Iron Horse. Gehrig spent most of his career batting cleanup behind Ruth and set the all-time mark with 23 grand slams. But much like Ruth, Gehrig was much bigger than stats, or the game itself. After Wally Pipp’s famous injury in June of 1925, Gehrig quickly became the Iron Horse, establishing a mark once thought to be unbreakable of 2,130 consecutive games. Without a doubt, Gehrig’s proclamation upon his retirement precipitated by ALS — now known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease — that he considered himself “the luckiest man on the face of the earth” rings loudly still in the hearts of baseball fans. As it turns out, the two MVPs, the Triple Crown, the 2,721 hits, 493 home runs and 1,995 RBIs were just icing on the cake.

Mickey Mantle
Few players can ever replace a legend. But in 1952, a 20-year-old from Oklahoma was handed the keys to center field in Yankee Stadium, patrolled by Joe DiMaggio just the year before. Mantle never disappointed. On his way to 536 home runs, three MVPs and three runner-up finishes, the Commerce Comet was third in MVP voting in ’52, finishing behind two pitchers. Mantle hit 18 home runs in World Series play covering 65 games and 12 Series. From the 1950s until his death in 1995, Mantle was the most beloved Yankee.

Mariano Rivera
Okay. Here’s where it gets a little tricky. Well, maybe more than a little. Why not DiMaggio, Jeter, or even Yogi? As beloved as those three icons are, none dominated his position like Rivera. The premier closer of all-time conquered enemy hitters for 19 seasons. Pitching in an offensive era, Rivera’s WHIP is an even 1.000 and his ERA is 2.21. He owns the all-time record with 652 saves and converted saves at an 89 percent rate. In the postseason, Rivera has been even better. In 141 innings, Rivera has 42 saves, a 0.70 ERA and 0.759 WHIP.

Close Calls
The fact that he played in New York, had a 56-game hitting steak and was married to Marilyn Monroe for almost a year — not to mention a little shout-out from Simon and Garfunkel — has put Joe DiMaggio on a higher pedestal than he deserves. And he deserves a pretty high pedestal.
The only player to get 3,000 hits in pinstripes is Derek Jeter, the most celebrated shortstop in team history.
Few fans talk about Yogi Berra anymore, probably because he’s so talked about.
George Steinbrenner bought a struggling franchise in 1973 and turned it into the Evil Empire — and made no apologies for his efforts or success.

Best Current Player
Beyond Jeter, there are no current Yankees with status of a Close Call for the most historic and decorated franchise in baseball.

 

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

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

Teaser:
<p> The team that started the entire Mt. Rushmore discussion. From Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig to Joe DiMaggio to Mickey Mantle to Reggie Jackson to Derek Jeter. Perhaps we should allow an organization with 27 World Series titles eight faces on its Mt. Rushmore — or at least six.</p>
Post date: Monday, February 6, 2012 - 11:41
Path: /mlb/st-louis-cardinals-mt-rushmore
Body:

MLB Mt. Rushmores

by Charlie Miller

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

St. Louis Cardinals Mt. Rushmore
The Mt. Rushmore for the team nearest and dearest to my heart also proves to be the most difficult for me to select. There are six strong candidates — five Hall of Famers and one who will be — and a handful of others who would make most teams’ mountains. One of the most storied and tradition-laden franchises in baseball, the Cardinals have enjoyed more success than any other National League team. They won six World Series and lost three in the 21 seasons from 1926-46. Since that time, it’s been a little bit of every-other-decade success for the Redbirds. No World Series appearances in the 1950s; three in the ’60s, winning two. None in the ’70s; three in the ’80s, winning one. None in the ’90s; two in the ’00s, winning one, before winning another in 2011. With 11 titles, the Cardinals rank second all-time, a distant second behind the Yankees. The organization has been loyal to managers. Since 1965 (47 seasons), only four men — Red Schoendienst, Whitey Herzog, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa — have managed more than 91 percent of the Redbirds’ games. Obviously, the discussion begins with Stan the Man. Musial is the No. 1 name on all Cardinals fans’ lists. After that, it becomes a tough choice.

Stan Musial
Stan the Man is on the short list for MLB’s Mt. Rushmore, and no doubt would be a unanimous choice among Cardinals fans. Musial dominates the Cardinals’ all-time leaderboard, even leading in triples. He spent his entire career in St. Louis and remains an icon. He made 24 All-Star teams, was MVP three times with four runner-up finishes, won seven batting titles, is fourth all-time in the majors in hits, second in total bases, ninth in runs and sixth in RBIs. That’s quite a resume. He also was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor that can be bestowed on a civilian.

Bob Gibson
Gibson had as intimidating a mound presence as any pitcher ever. The menacing righthander spent his entire career with the Cardinals and was instrumental in the three pennant winners in the 1960s. There are the two Cy Young awards and 1968 MVP, but Gibson’s World Series performances were off the charts. In three Series he made nine starts with nine complete games, going 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA. He had 92 strikeouts in 81 innings and a 0.889 WHIP.

Lou Brock
Known for his stolen base records, Brock was much more than a one-dimensional player. Other than establishing season and career stolen base records, Brock had 3,023 hits — 2,713 of them with the Cardinals. He scored 1,427 runs for St. Louis and drove in 900 runs in his career, 640 of them from the leadoff spot. He is as beloved in St. Louis now as the day he retired.

Ozzie Smith
The Wizard came to St. Louis in 1982 as a .230-hitting defensive shortstop and retired as one of the greatest shortstops to play the game. During his 15 years in St. Louis, Smith made 14 All-Star teams, won 11 Gold Gloves and even a Silver Slugger in 1987 to go with his runner-up finish in MVP balloting. He had 1,944 hits, 991 runs and 433 stolen bases for the Cardinals in addition to saving more than 1,000 runs with his glove.

Close Calls
Had Albert Pujols re-upped with the Redbirds and finished out his career in St. Louis, there is little doubt that he would have ended up on the mountain. King Albert completed the most astonishing 11 seasons in team history in 2011.

It’s equally painful leaving off Rogers Hornsby, one of the best hitters in the game prior to 1930. From 1921-25, the Cardinals’ second baseman averaged .402 with 29 homers, 120 RBIs and 123 runs. But by most accounts he wasn’t the most popular teammate and he bounced from team to team after spending 12 years in St. Louis to start his career.

During the 1980s and ’90s, Red Schoendienst was always alongside greats Musial, Gibson and Brock donning red blazers at every major Cardinal event. In addition to his Hall of Fame career, Red managed a couple of pennant winners in the 1960s and remained an influential presence as a special coach for several years after his managerial career ended.

In terms of popularity and impact on the franchise, Whitey Herzog deserves consideration. He took over a franchise in 1980 that was drawing just over one million, had drug problems and hadn’t won in 11 years. Over the next decade, “Whiteyball” accounted for three World Series appearances, lifted attendance to three million for the first time and turned the franchise down the path it travels now.

August “Gussie” Busch Jr. bought the team in 1953, and nurtured it as an iconic franchise that became Cardinal Nation, bringing six pennants and three World Series titles in the 1960s and ’80s.

For his emotional post-9/11 speech alone, Hall of Famer Jack Buck deserves some mention as the Cardinals’ long-time broadcaster.

When Dizzy Dean was in his prime, he was right there with Babe Ruth as the biggest star in the game. It was just short-lived.

Best Current Player
Few players have captured the hearts of fans in St. Louis the way that Yadier Molina has. Tony La Russa refered to him as the most indispensable player on the 2011 championship team, a club that included Pujols. Redbird pitchers will tell you that he deserves an MVP trophy.

 

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

 

Other teams' Mt. Rushmores:

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

 

Teaser:
<p> The Mt. Rushmore for the team nearest and dearest to my heart also proves to be the most difficult for me to select. There are six strong candidates — five Hall of Famers and one who will be — and a handful of others who would make most teams’ mountains. Stan the Man Musial is the No. 1 name on all Cardinals fans’ lists. After that, it becomes a tough choice.</p>
Post date: Friday, February 3, 2012 - 10:05
All taxonomy terms: Turn Back the Clock, News
Path: /news/week-sports-history-jan-28-feb-3
Body:

Turn Back the Clock
Jan. 28, 1958
Dodgers star catcher Roy Campanella was injured in an automobile crash near his home on Long Island. He was left paralyzed, ending his Hall of Fame career.

Jan. 29, 1936
The Baseball Hall of Fame elected its first members: Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner became the first-ever Hall of Fame class.

Jan. 30, 2000
In Super Bowl XXXIV, the St. Louis Rams held on for a 23-16 win over the Tennessee Titans. Tennessee receiver Kevin Dyson was tackled by linebacker Mike Jones a yard short of the end zone on the final play of the game.

Jan. 31, 1990
The first-ever all-sports daily “The National” began publishing. Headquartered in New York, the Editor-in-Chief was former Sports Illustrated writer Frank Deford. The first cover featured NBA players Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Patrick Ewing. It ceased publishing on June 13, 1991.

Feb. 1, 1914
A group of players from the Chicago White Sox and New York Giants played an exhibition game in Egypt. The game was part of a world tour that began in November of 1913 in Tokyo and ended in February in London. The tour included games in Japan, Australia, Philippines, Ceylon, China, India, France and England. Games in Paris and Rome were rained out.

Feb. 2, 1970
Pete Maravich of LSU became the first college basketball player to score 3,000 points in his career. Pistol Pete averaged 44.2 points a game during his three-year career (freshmen were not eligible) in Baton Rouge, but never played in an NCAA Tournament. He ended his career with 3,667 points.

Feb. 3, 1979
Hall of Famer Rod Carew was traded by the Minnesota Twins to the California Angels for Dave Engle, Paul Hartzell, Brad Havens and Ken Landreaux. The 12-time All-Star with seven batting titles, an MVP and more than 2,000 hits for the Twins signed a five-year contract for $4 million with the Angels, something the Twins had been reluctant to do. Carew ended his career with 3,053 hits.

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Friday, January 27, 2012 - 17:34
Path: /mlb/detroit-tigers-mt-rushmore
Body:

MLB Mt. Rushmores

by Charlie Miller

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

 

Detroit Tigers Mt. Rushmore

In their 111 seasons, the Tigers have finished at or above .500 in 67 of those seasons, pretty impressive. But Detroit has only 13 postseason appearances to show for their winning ways. In 10 World Series, the Tigers have come out on the winning side four times. Three times in their history the Tigers have had a winning percentage over .600 and not made the postseason. Once came in 1915, a year the Tigers went 100-54 for their second-best winning percentage (.649) in history. The Tigers are one of only four of the original American League franchises to call the same city home for its entire history. And the Tigers are the only AL team to go by just one name; always known as the Tigers. There is no shortage of candidates for the Tigers’ Mt. Rushmore, but Ty Cobb may be the only lock.


Ty Cobb
While the Georgia Peach has taken personal hits over the years, there is no denying his production on the field. No one played the game harder or better or with more zeal than Cobb did during his era from 1905-26. He had 3,900 hits for the Tigers. No one has more for one team. Cobb sits atop the Tigers’ all-time lists in more categories than anyone else, and it’s not even close. Cobb finished his 22-year career in Detroit with a .368 batting average. For his entire career, which included two seasons with the Philadelphia A’s, he amassed 4,189 hits and 2,246 runs.

 

Charlie Gehringer
A Michigan man through–and-through, Gehringer spent his entire 19 seasons with the Tigers and finished in the top 10 in MVP balloting for seven consecutive seasons. He won the award in 1937 along with a batting title with a .371 average. He was a narrow runner-up to teammate Mickey Cochrane in 1934, although the second baseman had clearly superior numbers. Known for his quiet nature, it has been noted that he would say hello when he arrived at spring training and good-bye when the season ended and not much in between.


Hank Greenberg
Hammerin’ Hank had a mercurial career with the Tigers in the years surrounding World War II. From 1934-46, Greenberg had just seven full seasons for Detroit, but full seasons they certainly were. In those campaigns in which he played a complete season, he averaged .322 with 40 home runs and 147 RBIs, with 43 doubles and 122 runs. He earned a couple of MVP trophies and finished third twice. He lost one season to a broken wrist after just 12 games, and three full seasons to military service, and in two more seasons he played briefly just prior to and after his service.

 

Al Kaline
The rightfielder from Baltimore quietly put together a Hall of Fame career spent exclusively with the Tigers. Kaline reached the 3,000-hit plateau and missed 400 home runs by one. Kaline entered the league in 1953 as an 18-year-old having never suited up in the minor leagues. In his second full season, Kaline won the AL batting crown with a .340 average and earned the first of his two career runner-up finishes in MVP voting. Overall, he had nine top-10 MVP finishes. He made 15 All-Star teams and was honored with 10 Gold Gloves.


Close Calls
Ace Hal Newhouser had back-to-back MVP seasons in 1945-46 with a runner-up for the award the following season.

For three generations in Michigan, Tigers fans associated games with the voice of Ernie Harwell on the radio.
In 16 full seasons at the helm in Detroit, Sparky Anderson led his team to a winning record 11 times, including eight straight, the only Tigers manager with such a streak.

In 1968 the Tigers erased a three-games-to-one deficit in the World Series to defending champion St. Louis. It was lefthander Mickey Lolich whose heroics in Games 5 and 7 made that championship comeback possible.

 

Best Current Player
While Miguel Cabrera may seem like an obvious choice, his career numbers in Detroit may not measure up to the greats above. However, starting pitcher Justin Verlander already has an MVP trophy and appears to be on track to spend his entire career with the Tigers.

 

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

 

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

Teaser:
<p> There is no shortage of candidates for the Tigers’ Mt. Rushmore, but Ty Cobb may be the lonely lock. One thing for certain, all four honorees will be Hall of Famers.</p>
Post date: Friday, January 27, 2012 - 09:31
Path: /mlb/milwaukee-brewers-mt-rushmore
Body:

MLB Mt. Rushmores

by Charlie Miller

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

Milwaukee Brewers Mt. Rushmore
A franchise that began as the Seattle Pilots in 1969 lasted just one season in the northwest prior to moving to Milwaukee under new ownership that included Bud Selig. The Brewers have the distinction as the only franchise to compete in four different divisions at some point: the AL West from 1969-71, the AL East from 1972-93, the AL Central from 1994-97 and the NL Central from 1998-present. But Milwaukee has just two division titles, the first in 1982, and the second in 2011. In 45 seasons of competition, the Brewers have finished at .500 or better just 16 times. The 2002 season marked the only time the franchise lost 100 games, and the only season with a worse record than the expansion season of 1969. The two names that scream loudly to any Milwaukee fan for Mt. Rushmore are Robin Yount and Paul Molitor. Finding two additional names takes a bit more digging.

Robin Yount
The most popular man in Milwaukee (who never played for the Green Bay Packers, that is) won two MVP awards, one as a shortstop in 1982, the second as a centerfielder in 1989. Yount made his major league debut on Opening Day in 1974 at age 18 and spent his entire 20-year career with the Brewers. The Hall of Famer amassed 3,142 hits, 1,632 runs and 1,406 RBIs in a Brewers uniform.

Paul Molitor
With Yount firmly entrenched at shortstop, Molitor was forced to find other positions in order to break into the Brewers’ lineup. Like Yount in 1973, Molitor was drafted No. 3 overall in 1977. And also like Yount, Molitor found himself in the Brewers’ Opening Day lineup the following season. A shortstop by trade, Molitor stated at five different positions the first five Opening Days of his career (shortstop, DH, second base, left field and third base). In 15 seasons in Milwaukee, Molitor totaled 2,281 hits, 412 steals and a .303 batting average in 1,856 games.

Cecil Cooper
Ranking third in most offensive categories in Brewers history (albeit a distant third) is enough to get Coop in this honored company. He has 154 more RBIs than Molitor, which ranks him second in that category. Cooper in fifth with 201 home runs. Of the nine 120-RBI seasons in team history, Cooper owns three of them, most of anyone. The former first baseman also owns three of the team’s seven 200-hit seasons, again, tops on that list. Acquired prior to the 1977 season from Boston, Cooper batted .302 over 11 seasons with the Brew Crew. During his first seven seasons with the team, he finished fifth in MVP voting three times over four seasons with an eighth-place vote mixed in. He won two Gold Gloves and batted .316 from 1977-83, averaging 22 home runs and 95 RBIs. His .352 average in 1980 would have been good enough to win an AL batting title 22 times during the 30 years from 1962-91, but George Brett chased .400 in 1980, ending at .390, leaving Cooper to settle for runner-up.

Bud Selig
You can say what you want about Selig’s tenure in the Commissioner’s office, but he worked tirelessly to bring baseball back to Milwaukee after the Braves left for Atlanta after the 1965 season. It isn’t a stretch to say that the owner-turned-Commissioner is responsible for bringing baseball back to Milwaukee.

Close Calls
Along with Yount and Molitor, Jim Gantner shares the record for games played by three teammates.
Mike Caldwell averaged 15 wins and 231 innings from 1978-83, and won 102 games.
Had he signed a long-term contract with the franchise, Prince Fielder most certainly would have hit his way onto the mountain.
Stormin' Gorman Thomas averaged 35 home runs and 98 RBIs from 1978-82.

Best Current Player
The only current player with a shot at becoming a member of this elite foursome is Ryan Braun. But after his PED problems, he has much more ground to makeup. Putting together a couple of clean Braun-like seasons would be a nice start.

 

 

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

 

Other teams' Mt. Rushmores:

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



 

Teaser:
<p> After one disastrous year in Seattle, the Pilots became the Milwaukee Brewers in 1970. From the American League West to the AL East, to the AL Central to the National League Central, the Brew Crew has won two division titles. Two Hall of Famers — Robin Yount and Paul Molitor — are the faces of the franchise. Who else belongs on the Brewers' Mt. Rushmore?</p>
Post date: Monday, January 23, 2012 - 13:32
Path: /news/week-sports-history-jan14-20
Body:

Turn Back the Clock
Jan. 14, 1940
The NFL played its second all-star contest featuring the NFL champion Green Bay Packers against a team of All-Stars from nine other teams in the league. It was originally scheduled for Jan. 7, but delayed due to weather. Gilmore Stadium in Los Angeles was the site as the Packers defeated the All-Stars 16-7. The highlight of the game was a 92-yard touchdown pass from Cecil Isbell to Don Hutson at the close of the first half to make the score 13-0.

Jan. 15, 1892
Triangle Magazine, a publication of the International YMCA Training School (now Springfield College), published the rules of basketball. The game, invented by James A. Naismith while teaching at the school as a graduate student, featured two peach baskets hanging from the balcony in the gymnasium, and the ball more closely resembled today’s volleyball than basketball. It wasn’t until 15 years later that the bottoms were cut out of the baskets to allow the ball to fall through freely.

Jan. 16, 1970
Baseball player Curt Flood filed a lawsuit against Major League Baseball, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, both American League and National League presidents and all 24 Major League clubs. Flood argued that baseball’s reserve clause — which ostensibly kept players under the control of their teams — violated antitrust laws and the 13th Amendment, which barred slavery and involuntary servitude. Flood, only 31 at the time at the height of his career, made $90,000 in 1969 while playing for St. Louis. He was traded in October and refused to report to the Phillies. The All-Star centerfielder’s career was pretty much over as the legal wrangling reached the Supreme Court. Although Flood had the support of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, no active players agreed to testify on his behalf, and the high court voted against Flood, 5-3, in 1972.

Jan. 17, 1971
In Super Bowl V, Baltimore’s rookie kicker Jim O’Brien nailed a 32-yard field goal as time expired to defeat the favored Dallas Cowboys, 16-13, at Miami. Dallas linebacker Chuck Howley, who made two interceptions, was named the game’s MVP, the only player so honored from a losing team.

Jan. 18, 1983
After 70 years, the International Olympic Committee restored Jim Thorpe’s gold medal status, although it was 30 years after the athlete’s death. Thorpe won gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm. More than six months later it was revealed he was paid as a semi-pro baseball player in 1909-10, causing Olympic officials to strip him of his medals.

Jan. 19, 1974
The Notre Dame men’s basketball team defeated UCLA, 71-70, to end the Bruins’ 88-game winning streak. Digger Phelps coached the Irish led by John Shumate, Adrian Dantley and Gary Brokaw. But it was Dwight Clay who nailed a jumper from the right corner with 29 seconds left that provided Notre Dame with the one-point victory, after the Irish had scored the final 12 points of the game over the last three and half minutes. Incidentally, Austin Carr of Notre Dame scored 46 points to defeat UCLA on Jan. 23, 1971, the last Bruin defeat prior to this game.

Jan. 20, 1991
It was Championship Sunday in the NFL. Buffalo trounced the Los Angeles Raiders 51-3 in the AFC Championship Game as the Bills intercepted six passes and amassed 502 yards on offense led by Thurman Thomas with 199 yards rushing and receiving. There was very little offense in the NFC tilt as the New York Giants dethroned the two-time defending Super Bowl Champion San Francisco 49ers, 15-13, with a 42-yard field goal by Matt Bahr as time expired. Bahr was good on five of six field goal tries for the only points for the G-Men.

 

Previous Weeks

Jan. 7-13

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Sports turns back the clock and relives special moments in sports history.</p>
Post date: Friday, January 13, 2012 - 16:17
All taxonomy terms: Turn Back the Clock, News
Path: /news/week-sports-history-jan7-13
Body:

Turn Back the Clock
Jan. 7, 1972
The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Atlanta Hawks, 134-90, to win their 33rd game in a row. The winning streak still stands as an NBA record. Led by veterans Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West, the Lakers would lose at Milwaukee two nights later to end the streak, but Los Angeles finished the regular season with a 69-13 mark and defeated the Bucks in six games in the NBA Finals to win the franchise’s first title since moving to L.A. in 1960.

Jan. 8, 1962
The legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus made his professional debut at the Los Angeles Open, won by Phil Rodgers by nine shots over Bob Goalby and Fred Hawkins. The Golden Bear, who would go on to win an incredible 18 majors, finished 50th. Nicklaus, who had a distinguished amateur career, won his first professional tournament at the 1962 US Open, defeating Arnold Palmer in a playoff.

Jan. 9, 1977
In Super Bowl XI, the Oakland Raiders won their first Super Bowl, 32-14 over the Minnesota Vikings. Playing at the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, Calif., in front of a record 103,438 fans, the Raiders rolled up 429 total yards against the Purple People Eaters of Minnesota. Running back Clarence Davis ran for 137 yards, and receiver Fred Biletnikoff was named MVP.

Jan. 10, 1982
In one of the coldest NFL games on record, the Cincinnati Bengals hosted the San Diego Chargers in the AFC Championship Game. With game time temperatures at -9 degrees and winds gusting to 35 mph, the wind chill reached a frigid 59 below. The Chargers’ high-scoring offense was held in check by the weather more than the Cincinnati defense. Committing four turnovers, San Diego never mustered much offense. Pete Johnson barreled his way for 80 yards to lead the Bengals. Ken Anderson threw for two scores in the Bengals’ 27-7 win.

Jan. 11, 1970
The AFL once again flexed its muscles in the Super Bowl as the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the favored Minnesota Vikings of the NFL, 23-7, in Super Bowl IV. Jan Stenerud opened the scoring with a 48-yard field goal, then added two more kicks for a 9-0 lead. Otis Taylor ended the scoring on a 46-yard touchdown reception from MVP Len Dawson.

Jan. 12, 1958
Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes scored the 11,770th point of his NBA career, setting a new record. Two years later, he would become the first player to top the 15,000-point mark. He spent his entire NBA career with the same franchise, the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers.

Jan. 13, 1962
NBA great Wilt Chamberlain set a new NBA record with 73 points in the Philadelphia Warriors’ 135-117 win over the expansion Chicago Packers. It was the most points scored in regulation. A month prior, Chamberlain scored 78 points in a triple-overtime game. And two months later, he tallied 100 points against the New York Knicks in a game played at Hershey, Penn., to break his own record and set a mark that still stands.

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Sports turns back the clock and relives special moments in sports history.</p>
Post date: Friday, January 13, 2012 - 14:01
Path: /mlb/who-wins-world-series-first-st-louis-cardinals-or-los-angeles-angels
Body:

by Charlie Miller

With Albert Pujols signing with the Los Angeles Angels, ending his 11-year tenure in St. Louis, just how much does that swing the balance of power in baseball? While the Cardinals are coming off their second World Series title in six years, even with Pujols they would have not been a favorite to win again in 2012. But how far does Pujols’ defection knock St. Louis down the pecking order in the National League? The NL Central isn’t exactly the toughest division in baseball.

And how much do the signings of both Pujols and starting pitcher C.J. Wilson push the Angels up the depth chart in the American League? Are those two signings enough to tip the scales to L.A. in the AL West? Remember, two-time AL champion Texas resides in that division. And with the strong AL East — eight of the last 10 AL wild card teams have come from the AL East — winning the division is the only realistic shot at the postseason if you play in the Central or West.

So, who wins the World Series first, St. Louis or the Angels?

Good question.

The Case for St. Louis
St. Louis has a few loose ends to tie up in order to lock up some key players, but World Series hero David Freese, clean-up hitter Matt Holliday, rising star Allen Craig, centerfielder Jon Jay, starter Jaime Garcia, prospect Shelby Miller and essentially an entire bullpen are locked up for the next four years or beyond. And at relatively reasonable prices. Ace Chris Carpenter, who was one of the Redbirds’ postseason heroes last season, is signed for two more years. So not only do the Cardinals have a proven core in place, but there remains enough payroll flexibility to fill holes.

Now back to the “loose ends.” They hold the key to the Cardinals’ next five years. Catcher Yadier Molina can be a free agent after 2012 and Adam Wainwright is signed through 2013. Getting extensions done for Molina and Wainwright will keep the Cardinals squarely in the hunt in the National League.

They may not be the odds-on favorite to win any single season, but as we’ve seen over and over again, once teams reach the postseason, the season resets enough for any hot team to win. Were the Cardinals really the best team in baseball in 2011? No. Not even the best in the National League. They squeaked into the playoffs courtesy of the Atlanta Braves on the final day of the season. Having an ace in Wainwright and stalwart Molina behind the plate gives the Redbirds a terrific opportunity to reach the postseason. Then anything can happen.

The final loose end is securing one more first baseman/outfielder. Not only for 2012 while the Cardinals wait for Craig to return from knee surgery, but for 2013 and beyond after Lance Berkman is presumably gone.

It’s easy to see how the Cardinals can be in the hunt in the NL Central for the next several seasons. The reigning champion Brewers are about to lose Prince Fielder and MVP Ryan Braun is facing a 50-game suspension. That’s a huge blow to the lineup in Milwaukee. It remains to be seen how quickly the Cubs can become contenders again, but at this point there are no real signs of improvement. They lost their best hitter from last season and have two ugly contracts (Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano) strangling their payroll. I suspect new president Theo Epstein will right the ship soon, but I don’t see the Cubs becoming a juggernaut in the near future. The Reds can be contenders, but they face payroll constraints and must deal with the impending free agency of Brandon Phillips after 2012 and former MVP Joey Votto after 2013.

Let’s face it, there are no dominant teams in this division, leaving an opportunity for St. Louis.

What could go wrong
St. Louis is beginning a new era, and not simply because No. 5 is no longer hitting in the No. 3 hole. Tony La Russa is no longer in charge in the dugout. Rookie manager Mike Matheny is the new sheriff in town and has little experience. While Matheny played a role in the development of both Molina and Wainwright, both could leave just as Pujols — a close friend of Molina — did this winter.
And what if Matheny just isn’t ready? Having a veteran pitching coach in Dave Duncan in the dugout and experienced Jose Oquendo still on the staff provides some kind of safety net. But if Matheny falters badly, the franchise could be set back a few years. The bullpen, which was much maligned early last season, became a team strength down the stretch. But counting on arms like Jason Motte, Eduardo Sanchez, Fernando Salas, Lance Lynn and Marc Rzepczynski could prove to be fool’s gold. And what if Freese’s World Series performance turns out to be the peak of his career?

Bottom Line
There are certainly no guarantees, far from it. But the Cardinals will continue to put themselves in position to make the playoffs for the next several seasons. And that alone gives them a shot at winning the franchise’s 12th championship.

Teaser:
<p> Now that Albert Pujols has departed St. Louis for sunny Los Angeles, just how does his move shift the balance of power in baseball?</p>
Post date: Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 08:34
Path: /mlb/ryan-brauns-positive-drug-test-more-bad-news
Body:

by Charlie Miller

Steroids, Steroids, Steroids.

Will talk of steroids in baseball ever go away? When will this loathsome subject that dirtied the past two decades of baseball become a distant memory?

Unfortunately, the subject of steroids and other PEDs in baseball will never go away. Never ever, ever.

NL MVP Ryan Braun is the latest player to test positive for something on the restricted list. With his camp adamantly denying wrongdoing, the appeal process will drag through much of the offseason. And what should be made of the award Braun has yet to actually receive? If it is determined that he in fact cheated, can the award be rescinded?

The bad news for Braun is that one of two things will happen after his appeal is heard with MLB: He’ll be found guilty of using illegal substances and shelved for 50 games, costing him about $1.85 million and forever tarnishing his otherwise pristine image; or he will be exonerated and show up for spring training in February with a clean record, yet forever placed on the “suspicious list” by most fans and members of the media.

And the news gets worse. As long as there is more money in cheating than in testing, the sinister laboratory minds and illicit athletes will always be one step (or more) ahead of the chemists developing tests.

So we are stuck with the curse of these insidious drugs. I believe that MLB testing is working, but it’s not absolute — and never will be. But baseball will always have this problem as long as substances can allow players to run faster, throw harder, hit with more power and prolong careers. With every 10-year, $254 million contract signed, players will try to cut corners. And every spring when clean players are cut, many will face unimaginable temptations.

And so it goes. Until the long list of players from the “Steroid Era” are no longer on the Hall of Fame ballot, we will continue to hear arguments about Hall of Fame voting as many writers will allow their suspicions, or proven allegations, about PED use to determine their Hall voting.

This subject is not going away.

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie.

Teaser:
<p> Will talk of steroids in baseball ever go away? NL MVP Ryan Braun is the latest player to test positive for something on the restricted list, keeping the subject of PEDs front and center in baseball news.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - 10:19
Path: /mlb/albert-pujols-really-worth-it
Body:

by Charlie Miller

Question: Would you rather be the GM that allowed Albert Pujols to walk? Or would rather be the GM, who seven years from now, will be associated with a contract that is crippling an organization?

That, in a nutshell, is the dilemma for St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak. There are no shortage of stories from writers citing this source or that source saying Pujols is close to reaching a deal with the Miami Marlins, or the St. Louis Cardinals, that the Chicago Cubs are squarely in the mix and even the Los Angeles Angels are in the hunt. And I’m sure they are all true, to a certain extent.

However, the decision rests with the Cardinals. They know what it will take to convince Pujols to finish his career in St. Louis. They know the dollars and they know how many years they must guarantee. And St. Louis ownership appears committed to the cause of keeping King Albert in Cardinal red.

But is the price worth it? Seven years from now, as Pujols approaches 40, there could be another three years of guaranteed salary if the contract is for 10 years. That is a tough pill to swallow. Unless, of course, you plan on being the general manager of another organization by that time, then of course, it doesn’t matter to you.

It appears the Cardinals and Pujols are on the cusp of reaching an agreement. All will be smiling, as will fans from every corner of Cardinal Nation.

But the follow-up question to the one above is: Will the next five years of Albert being Albert outweigh the next five years of an aging star approaching 40 and carrying an albatross of a contract?

If Pujols begins to show signs of age, gets injured or we discover that his 2011 season has become the norm rather than the anomaly, this contract will quickly strangle the organization. And that is a real possibility.

In order to answer either of the questions we’ve posed here, you must determine whether you are signing the player whose 10-year average production was off the charts, or the 2011 player whose numbers were merely above average.

Last season Pujols had 14 fewer doubles, four fewer homers, 24 fewer RBIs, hit 32 points lower and saw his OPS drop by 0.144 from his 10-year averages.

It says here that Cardinal fans are getting what they’ve clamored for (re-signing Pujols at any cost), and the front office is getting what it fears (an aging star’s astronomical salary hamstringing the team in seven years).

Of course, by that time, Pujols will have cemented his legacy in St. Louis much like Derek Jeter has in New York and will own numerous records, and potentially be within reach of 763 home runs. But it will take another World Series title to make this a PennyWise contract, rather than a DollarFoolish deal.

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 - 17:11
Path: /mlb/does-ron-santo-deserve-be-hall-fame
Body:

by Charlie Miller

I guess the Veterans' Committee, which can designate former players for Hall of Fame selection, feels like it needs to elect someone every year. At least that’s the way it seems. Today, the committee announced that Ron Santo, a longtime Chicago Cubs player then broadcaster, has been elected to the Hall of Fame. Santo was a terrific third baseman and clutch hitter. He meant so much to the game and the city of Chicago as a broadcaster after his retirement. But is he a Hall of Famer?

Not in my mind. However, if Phil Rizzuto and Bill Mazeroski have bronze plaques at Cooperstown, then Santo should as well. The problem? With each borderline player elected to the Hall, the membership becomes that much more diluted.

It seems more than fair for a player to be included on the BBWAA ballot for 15 years. If more than 25% of the BBWAA members shun a player for 15 years, you know, maybe he isn’t Hall of Fame caliber.

And the Veterans' Committee members aren’t the only ones to blame. As writers elect pitchers like Bert Blyleven, then Jack Morris and Tommy John become more viable candidates, and Jim Kaat, who just missed election by the committee by two votes, has an even stronger argument.

At some point, perhaps the Hall should acknowledge an official distinction between Ron Santo and Brooks Robinson. Between Bert Blyleven and Tom Seaver. Between Bill Mazeroski and Rogers Hornsby.

Follow Charlie on Twitter @AthlonCharlie.

Teaser:
<p> Ron Santo isn't deserving of Hall of Fame status in my mind, but he's ranks well with several players already enshrined.</p>
Post date: Monday, December 5, 2011 - 12:52
All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /news/bobby-valentines-day-boston
Body:

When I heard that the Red Sox — upon coming in second in the Dale Sveum sweepstakes — had narrowed their choices to manage the team in 2012 to Bobby Valentine and Gene Lamont, I thought, ‘Are Art Howe and Jim Fregosi not available?’

The last time Lamont won a division title was in 1993, when he managed the Chicago White Sox. At the time, Fregosi was leading the Philadelphia Phillies to the World Series.

Valentine last managed a winner in 2000, leading the Mets to the NL wild card and eventually reaching the World Series before losing to the crosstown Yankees. That was the same year Art Howe won the first of two division titles in Oakland before moving to New York to succeed Valentine as manager of the Mets.

The Red Sox seemed to be on the right path with interjecting a fresh managerial spirit into the clubhouse with Sveum.

But, you know, I get it. If all the stories of drinking, munching on fried chicken and video gaming it up in the clubhouse during games are at all accurate, then the Red Sox need a veteran, respected presence moreso than a fresh outlook.

Boston could use a dose of getting whipped into shape for a year or two before a younger, more energetic manager can take them to new heights.

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie.

Teaser:
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Post date: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 17:42
Path: /mlb/seattle-mariners-mt-rushmore
Body:

MLB Mt. Rushmores

by Charlie Miller

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

Seattle Mariners Mt. Rushmore

In 37 years of existence, the Seattle Mariners have enjoyed very little success, although the franchise can claim the most single-season wins by any team — 116 in 2001 — since the M’s joined the American League in 1977. There have been just four postseason appearances, and the Mariners have never reached the World Series. The signature moment for the franchise is Ken Griffey, Jr. racing home from first base with the winning run on an Edgar Martinez double to give the 1995 team the first playoff series win in franchise history. The Mariners overcame a two-games-to-none deficit to defeat the Yankees 6-5 in 11 innings to win the series in five games. This is clearly the simplest selection process of any of the Mt. Rushmores.


Ken Griffey
From the time he was selected No. 1 overall in the 1988 draft out of Moeller High School in Cincinnati, the kid with the broad grin and hat on backwards became a favorite son in Seattle. On the field during his 11 seasons as a Mariner he hit 398 home runs, scored 1,063 runs and drove home 1,152. He was named AL MVP in 1997 when he hit 56 homers and had 147 RBIs. He finished in the top 5 in MVP voting another four times and had two more top 10 finishes. He made 10 All-Star teams and won 10 Gold Gloves.

Edgar Martinez
Having spent his entire 18 seasons in Seattle, Martinez became the face of the franchise once Ken Griffey was traded to Cincinnati. In the 12 seasons in which he had as many as 500 plate appearances, Martinez batted better than .300 10 times and topped .320 seven times. For his career he batted .312, had an on-base percentage of .418 and slugged .515. He finished third in MVP voting in 1995 after leading the American League with a .356 average, a .479 on-base percentage, 52 doubles, 121 runs and a 1.107 OPS. He ranks first in franchise history in games, runs, RBIs and total bases.

Ichiro Suzuki
Since coming to America at the ripe age of 27 back in 2001, Ichiro has been known by one name and for his complete game as a player. During his 11-plus seasons in Seattle, he batted .322 with 2,533 hits, 1,176 runs and 438 steals. He made 10 All-Star teams, won 10 Gold Gloves and was named both MVP and Rookie of the Year in 2001 after winning the first of two batting titles and leading the AL with 56 stolen bases.

Randy Johnson
The Big Unit launched his career with the Mariners after a trade from the Expos in 1989. He won four strikeout titles and an ERA title while in Seattle. He surrounded an injury-plagued 1996 season when he went 5-0 with 18-2 and 20-4 seasons. Johnson had four top-3 finishes in the Cy Young race including a win in 1995 when he finished sixth in MVP voting.


Close Calls
Manager Lou Piniella guided the team to its only four postseason appearances including the record 116-win season in 2001.

Current ace Felix Hernandez is moving up the pecking order, but hasn’t been around quite long enough yet.

Alvin Davis spent just eight seasons in Seattle, but he was named AL Rookie of the Year in 1984 and received MVP votes in ’84 and ’89.

Alex Rodriguez didn’t endear himself to fans in Seattle when he left town in 2001, but from 1996-2000 he averaged .315-37-115 with 122 runs, 25 steals and a .956 OPS.

Jamie Moyer is the all-time leader with 145 wins for the M’s and owns two of the franchise’s three 20-win seasons.

Best Current Player
No doubt that Hernandez will be among the four greatest Mariners before his current contract is up.

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

 

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 latest in the series of MLB teams' Mt. Rushmores, the Seattle foursome is the easiest selection of all teams. Should they be carved from Mt. Rainier?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 12:50
Path: /mlb/2012-mlb-free-agent-projectionssignings
Body:

The 2012 Free Agency fun has really begun now. The Angels opened the Disney vault for Pujols and Wilson, while the Marlins make headlines on the other coast. Teams listed for Unsigned players are projections for 2012. The chart is updated daily. Some salary figures are rounded and all salary numbers are in millions.

Updated Dec. 8, 5:00p

 

                 
    Signed            
Rank   Player Team Years Total 2011 Salary   Comment
1   Albert Pujols Angels 10 254.00 14.50   Angels must put together a team to win now, because in six years this contract will be an albatross.
2   Jose Reyes Marlins 6 106.00 11.00   Exciting offensive catalyst and flashy defender must prove he can play every day.
3   CJ Wilson Angels 5 77.50 7.00   Stealth Angels reeled in their slugger and pitcher.
6   Mark Buehrle Marlins 4 58.00 14.00   As consistent as anyone, the lefty will be reunited with manager Ozzie Guillen.
9   Jonathan Papelbon Phillies 4 50.00 12.00   Closing games wasn't a problem for the Phillies in 2011, and shouldn't be in 2012.
15   Heath Bell Marlins 3 27.00 7.50   Marlins begin buildking process from back of bullpen.
20   Mark Ellis Dodgers 2 7.75 6.00   Brings solid defense, but has played in 135 games just twice.
21   Aaron Hill Diamondbacks 2 11.00 5.00   Serendipity at the trade deadline for Hill leaving Toronto for first-place Arizona.
22   Clint Barmes Pirates 2 10.50 3.93   Good money for Barmes; Pirates active in secondary market.
25   Bruce Chen Royals 2 9.00 2.00   Chen has led the Royals in wins the last two seasons.
38   Ramon Hernandez Rockies 2 6.50 2.95   Part-time catcher offers intangibles and veteran presence.
39   Ryan Doumit Twins 1 3.00 5.20   His bat and defense suggest he belongs in American League.
41   Ramon Santiago Tigers 2 4.20 1.35   Utility infielder stays put in Detroit.
44   Rod Barajas Pirates 1 4.00 3.25   Pirates needed a catcher, Barajas needed a job.
47   Aaron Harang Dodgers 2 12.00 3.50   Always seems to be underrated, but not worth this investment.
49   Jerry Hairston Dodgers 2 6.00 2.00   Should have an opportunity to play at second and third.
51   Alex Gonzalez Brewers     2.50   Shortstop market getting a bit thin and Brewers actually improved this position.
52   David DeJesus Cubs 2 10.00 6.00   Just your typical $4.25 mil outfielder. Total includes a $1.5 mil buyout if $6.5 mil option isn't picked up.
53   Willie Bloomquist Diamondbacks 2 3.80 .90   Goes from full-time shortstop to utility role.
63   Jamey Carroll Twins 2 6.50 2.29   Twins may not like this deal when they see Carroll's range at short.
65   Frank Francisco Mets 2 12.00 4.00   Mets' bullpen getting a total makeover.
69   Grady Sizemore Indians 1 5.00 7.67   Indians declined $9 million option, then added $4.5 million in incentives to this deal.
71   Juan Rivera Dodgers 1 4.00 5.25   Inexpensive complement to Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp in L.A. outfield.
72   Jim Thome Phillies 1 1.25 3.00   Will keep the position warm until Ryan Howard return from Achilles injury.
73   Joe Nathan Rangers 2 14.50 11.25   Is there anything left in his rebuilt arm?
75   Henry Blanco Diamondbacks 1 1.20 1.00   Blanco, who turns 41 in August, has nabbed 44% of base stealers since 2008.
76   Matt Capps Twins 1 4.75 7.15   Will once again have the opportunity to close.
82   Jonathan Broxton Royals 1 .80 7.00   Does he still have it? We think so. Will set up for Royals then get traded at deadline.
83   Chien-Ming Wang Nationals 1 4.00 1.20   If fully healthy, he'll be the best bargain of the winter.
85   Jose Molina Rays 1 1.50 1.20   Should fits Rays' system very well.
86   John McDonald Diamondbacks 2 3.00 1.50   I guess you never have too many middle infielders if you're Arizona.
88   Mark Kotsay Padres 1 1.25 .80   Had three of his best seasons in San Diego from 2001-03, but he was in his mid-20s.
91   Gerald Laird Tigers 1 1.00 1.00   Solid backup to giet Alex Avila badly needed rest.
96   Nate McLouth Pirates 1 1.75 7.00   Returns to only city where he found success.
97   Laynce Nix Phillies 2   .70   After four years of minor league contracts, Nix finally gets a guaranteed deal.
103   Adam Kennedy Dodgers 1 .80 .75   Veteran infielder landed a major league deal with Dodgers.
112   Matt Treanor Dodgers 1 .85 .85   Still not as accomplished (or attractive) as his wife.
153   Brian Schneider Phillies 1 .80 1.63   Offense was woeful last season, defense was sub-par.
NR   Chris Capuano Dodgers 2 10.00 1.50   Two-time Tommy John patient should love pitching at Dodgers Stadium.
                 
    Unsigned            
Rank   Player Team Years Total 2011 Salary   Comment
4   Prince Fielder Cubs 5 100.00 15.50   Fielder will become the fresh Prince of Chicago.
5   Carlos Beltran Giants 2 20.00 19.30   Injuries and spotty production will scare off most would-be suitors.
7   Aramis Ramirez Diamondbacks 4 60.00 14.60   What a year for a third baseman, especially a good one, to hit the market.
8   David Ortiz Red Sox 2 24.00 12.50   Can Big Papi actually leave Boston?
10   Hiroki Kuroda Dodgers 2 27.00 11.77   Best fit would be West Coast ballparks and should feel at home in L.A.
11   Jimmy Rollins Phillies 3 35.00 8.50   J-Roll is asking for five years, but he'll likely get only three.
12   Roy Oswalt Nationals 2 22.00 16.00   Would love to pitch for St. Louis, but Cardinals rotation has no vacancy.
13   Yu Darvish Yankees 4 35.00     Shouldn't expect a posting fee anywhere close to $51 million for Dice-K.
14   Ryan Madson Reds 4 40.00 4.83   Thought he had a deal with Philadelphia, but Cincinnati needs a closer as well.
16   Francisco Rodriguez Orioles 3 25.00 12.17   Many teams may be nervous to commit to K-Rod as closer, but O's won't mind.
17   Johnny Damon Rays 1 7.00 5.25   Questions of Hall of Fame worthiness begin as his career winds down.
18   Edwin Jackson Mets 3 27.00 8.75   Ultra-talented Jackson always seems to slip below expectations.
19   Javier Vazquez Marlins 1 8.00 7.00   Retire, or go one more year in Miami?
23   Kosuke Fukudome Indians 2 15.00 14.50   With Grady Sizemore gone, Fukudome could become Tribe's full-time CF.
24   Francisco Cordero Blue Jays 2 18.00 12.13   Cordero has averaged 39 saves over the last five seasons.
26   Michael Cuddyer Braves 3 27.00 10.50   Only bright spot for Minnesota last season appears to be a good fit in Atlanta.
27   Freddy Garcia Rangers 1 7.00 1.50   Garcia out to prove last season was no fluke in New York.
28   Carlos Pena Rangers 1 8.00 9.96   The Ballpark at Arlington should suit Pena well.
29   Yoenis Cespedes Marlins 5 30.00     Escaping the Marlins' grasp would be a major surprise.
30   Koji Uehara Rays 2 14.00 3.00   Koji had an incredible 23.0 SO/BB ratio, but allowed 2.5 homers per nine innings.
31   Casey Kotchman Rays 1 6.00     In successive years, he was traded for Mark Teixeira, Adam LaRoche and Bill Hall.
32   Josh Willingham Orioles 2 15.00 6.00   Willingham would love hitting at Camden Yards.
33   Kelly Johnson Rockies 2 11.00 5.85   Johnson would love hitting in Colorado, the question but could Rox stomach all those Ks?
34   Paul Maholm Twins 1 6.00 6.25   Needs a one-year deal to prove himself worthy of more.
35   JD Drew Nationals 1 5.20 14.00   Nats could be latest team to be duped by Drew's "talent."
36   Coco Crisp Tigers 1 4.80 5.75   Tigers needs a leadoff hitter and Crisp swiped 49 bases last season.
37   Rick Ankiel Reds 1 4.50 1.50   Consummate fourth outfielder brings speed, defense and occasional pop.
40   Joel Peralta Red Sox 2 13.00 .93   Another good arm who "found it" in Tampa Bay.
42   Chris Young Nationals 1 3.20 1.00   Needs a one-year deal to prove himself.
43   Rafael Furcal Brewers 1 3.80 13.00   His defense is unquestioned, but his health and offense are uncertain.
45   Jeff Francis Angels 1 4.40 2.00   Could benefit from starting over out west.
46   Jason Kubel Orioles 2 8.20 5.25   Lots of pop for Camden Yards.
48   LaTroy Hawkins Dodgers 1 4.30 4.25   Stuff of a closer, mindset of a setup man.
50   Derrek Lee Nationals 2 7.00 7.25   Nationals will finish fourth or fifth in first baseman derby.
54   Jon Garland Royals 2 6.00 4.44   Can he resurrect his career?
55   Wilson Betemit Royals 1 2.80 1.00   Role will be a super utility man in K.C.
56   Brad Lidge Twins 1 4.00 12.00   Lidge still wants to be a closer; little pressure in Minnesota in 2012.
57   Octavio Dotel Cardinals 2 7.00 3.00   Meant too much to Redbirds' late-season surge not to be re-signed.
58   Darren Oliver Rangers 1 4.50 3.25   Another season in Texas for the ageless lefty.
59   Kevin Millwood Padres 1 3.20     Will find a job by spring training.
60   Andruw Jones Yankees 1 2.10 1.50   Yankees actually like him in the clubhouse.
61   Cody Ross Twins 1 2.50 6.30   His 45 days of fame in San Francisco in 2010 now a distant memory.
62   Yuniesky Betancourt Phillies 2 7.50 4.30   Not as much of a downgrade at short as you might think for Phils.
64   Jack Wilson Braves 1 2.00 5.00   Still has something to offer as an everyday player.
66   Jamey Wright Cardinals 1 2.00 .90   Relishes the opportunity to reunite with Mike Matheny.
67   Vladimir Guerrero Blue Jays 1 3.00 7.60   Vlad's return to Canada could be his final stop.
68   Ivan Rodriguez Cardinals 1 1.50 3.00   Pudge and Yadier would be fun to watch.
70   Chris Snyder White Sox 1 2.50 6.25   Made $11.5 mil over the last two years, won't get near that in 2012-13.
74   Kerry Wood Rays 2 5.50 1.50   Maybe the new regime in Chicago can convince him to stay.
77   Nick Punto Cardinals 1 2.00 .75   Must find a team in need of utility role and must accept the role.
78   Kelly Shoppach Indians 1 1.30 3.00   He'll find a job as a backup somewhere, like in AL.
79   George Sherrill Rays 1 2.00 1.20   Nice lefty setup man for Joe Maddon?
80   Ryan Ludwick Blue Jays 1 1.50 6.78   Still living off one magical season in St. Louis.
81   Edgar Renteria Brewers 1 1.50 2.00   Would be a nice complement to Furcal in Milwaukee.
84   Marcus Thames 1 ML 1.00   Will have to make a team in spring training.
87   Hideki Matsui Yankees 1 2.00 4.25   Return to Gotham?
89   Mike Gonzalez Cubs 1 .90 6.00   Can be an effective situational guy.
90   Rich Harden Cardinals 1 1.00 1.50   Dave Duncan's next reclamation project?
92   Aaron Miles Dodgers 1 1.00 .50   Likely return to L.A.
93   David Aardsma Mariners 1 .80 4.50   After Tommy John Surgery in July, he's not likely to pitch until late in the season.
94   Ronny Cedeno Phillies 1 .90 1.85   Some team could use a veteran backup infielder.
95   Austin Kearns 1 ML 1.30   Minor league contract with invite to spring training.
98   Jonny Gomes A's 1 1.00 1.75   Can still drive in runs.
99   Cesar Izturis 1 ML 1.50   Minor league contract with invite to spring training.
100   Brandon Webb 1 ML     Wouldn't surprise to see him sign a rich, incentive-laden deal.
101   Casey Blake 1 ML 5.50   Minor league contract with invite to spring training.
102   Lyle Overbay Padres 1 1.20 5.00   Padres could use a cheap veteran pinch-hitter/first baseman.
104   Ramon Castro 1 ML 1.20   Minor league contract with invite to spring training.
105   Jason Marquis 1 ML .75   Minor league contract with invite to spring training.
106   Juan Cruz 1 ML .85   Minor league contract with invite to spring training.
107   Jon Rauch 1 ML 3.50   Minor league contract with invite to spring training.
108   Mark DeRosa Phillies 1 1.00 6.00   Can be a valuable piece if completely healthy.
109   Nori Aoki Dodgers 2 1.90     Japanese star should debut on West Coast.
110   Carlos Guillen 1 ML 12.90   Minor league contract with invite to spring training.
111   Raul Ibanez Indians 1 1.00 12.17   Will never see $12 million per season again.
113   Jason Varitek Rockies 1 .90 2.00   Rox could use a mentor like Varitek.
114   Brad Penny 1 ML 3.00   Minor league contract with invite to spring training.
115   Juan Pierre 1 ML 8.50   Minor league contract with invite to spring training.
116   Arthur Rhodes 1 ML 3.90   Minor league contract with invite to spring training.
117   Livan Hernandez 1 ML 1.25   Minor league contract with invite to spring training.
118   Todd Coffey 1 ML 1.35   Minor league contract with invite to spring training.
119   Pat Burrell 1 RET 1.00   Retirement seems to be in order.
120   Scott Linebrink 1 ML 5.50   Minor league contract with invite to spring training.
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 

Teaser:
<p> The 2012 Free Agency fun has begun, but the dominoes we all are waiting to fall — Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and C.J. Wilson — have yet to show signs of the slightest wobble.</p>
Post date: Monday, November 28, 2011 - 09:08
Path: /college-football/2011-johnny-unitas-golden-arm-award-0
Body:

Too often, scandals like the ones at the University of Miami or Ohio State or USC overshadow the positive aspects of college athletics. The Golden Arm Award, presented annually to the top senior quarterback — as qualified by academic year — by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Foundation, encapsulates all that is good in college sports. The award acknowledges performance on the field, for sure. However, it goes beyond completion percentage and touchdown passes. The Golden Arm Award rewards character, citizenship, integrity and those who honor the game.

Athlon Sports is proud to partner with the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Foundation in sponsoring this award in 2011.


Three Golden Arm Award candidates post big performances this week.


Andrew Luck, Stanford

Andrew Luck, a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, led the Cardinal to a 28-14 win over Notre Dame and completed a 11-1 regular season, likely good enough to put Stanford in a BCS bowl for the second consecutive season.

In the win over the Irish, Luck tossed four touchdown passes giving him 80 for his career, breaking the school record of 77 set by John Elway. It took Luck just three seasons to surpass what Elway did in four. Luck now owns every major passing record at Stanford.

Luck completed 20 of his 30 passes for 233 yards leading the Cardinal to a 21-0 halftime lead.

 

Robert Griffin III, Baylor

Even though Robert Griffin III, a Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award finalist, missed the second half with a concussion, the dual threat scored two rushing touchdowns and passed for another as the Baylor Bears trounced Texas Tech, 66-42.

Griffin connected with Kendall Wright on a 33-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, then scored on runs of four and three yards before leaving the game late in the second quarter.

After running around the right side for a first down on third-and-six to the Tech five-yard line, a late hit on Griffin knocked the quarterback out with 2:19 left in the half.

 

Landry Jones, Oklahoma

In a game played in 30-40 mph winds, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award finalist Landry Jones struggled with his accuracy, but he and his fellow Sooners stormed the Iowa State Cyclones 26-6 at Norman.

Jones completed just 22 of his 43 throws, but led the Sooners to a 23-6 halftime lead before weather conditions thwarted both offenses in the second half.

Jones threw for 256 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.

Teaser:
<p> Too often, scandals like the ones at the University of Miami or Ohio State or USC or Penn State overshadow the positive aspects of college athletics. The Golden Arm Award rewards character, citizenship, integrity and those who honor the game.</p>
Post date: Monday, November 28, 2011 - 05:38
Path: /college-football/three-golden-arm-award-candidates-post-big-performances-week
Body:

2011 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award

Too often, scandals like the ones at the University of Miami or Ohio State or USC overshadow the positive aspects of college athletics. The Golden Arm Award, presented annually to the top senior quarterback — as qualified by academic year — by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Foundation, encapsulates all that is good in college sports. The award acknowledges performance on the field, for sure. However, it goes beyond completion percentage and touchdown passes. The Golden Arm Award rewards character, citizenship, integrity and those who honor the game.

Athlon Sports is proud to partner with the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Foundation in sponsoring this award in 2011.

Top Performances Last Week

Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State

How did Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden respond to the pressure that comes with being ranked No. 2 for the first time in school history? By throwing for 423 yards and five touchdowns in a resounding 66-6 victory at Texas Tech.

The Red Raiders made three costly turnovers early that led to three touchdowns, and the rout was on, as OSU built a 49-0 halftime advantage.

Weeden, a Unitas Golden Arm award finalist, completed 31-of-37 attempts with no interceptions. Weeden spread the wealth among several receivers as the Cowboys had two receivers, Josh Cooper and Justin Blackmon, with more than 100 yards. Weeden left the game after tossing his fifth scoring strike of the day to Josh Stewart with 4:11 left in the third quarter.


Robert Griffin III, Baylor

Dual threat Robert Griffin led Baylor to three fourth-quarter touchdowns in a sterling comeback overtime win at Kansas. The vaunted Baylor offense was stymied for much of the first three quarters before Griffin found his groove.

Baylor scored on three possessions with scoring drives of 80-plus yards. Griffin’s dash around the left end for a 49-yard score capped a five-play, 89-yard drive with just under 12 minutes to play.

The Bears took over at their own two-yard line, and Griffin needed just six plays to find paydirt, connecting with Terrance Williams for a 36-yard touchdown strike that cut the Kansas lead to 24-17 with just under eight minutes left.

The Unitas Golden Arm award candidate completed the comeback with a 67-yard touchdown pass to Tevin Reese that finished off a three-play, 80-yard drive to send the game into overtime.

Griffin tossed a 14-yard pass to Reese in overtime before Kansas failed on a two-point conversion to give the Bears a 31-30 win. Griffin finished the game with 312 yards passing and 103 rushing.

 

Kellen Moore, Boise State

The loss was painful, and fortunately, not a very familiar feeling for Kellen Moore, quarterback of Boise State. The Broncos lost at home for the first time in 36 games, and the first home loss of the senior’s career. But Moore did his part.

In a back-and-forth game in which neither team ever held more than a one-score advantage, TCU converted a two-point conversion with 1:05 to play to take a 36-35 lead. Moore led the Broncos into scoring position, but the 39-yard field goal attempt of freshman kicker Dan Goodale sailed wide.

Moore was 28-for-38 passing for 320 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. His 54-yard scoring pass to Dallas Burroughs broke a 28-28 tie at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

For his career, the Prosser, Wash., native has completed 69.3% of his passes for 13,416 yards and 130 touchdowns.

 

To see all the candidates for this year’s Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, please click here.

Teaser:
<p> Brandon Weeden of Oklahoma State, Robert Griffin of Baylor and Kellen Moore of Boise State posted top performances last week as all three have been named Finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. Andrew Luck of Stanford and Landry Jones of Oklahoma are also among the five Finalists.</p>
Post date: Monday, November 14, 2011 - 06:33
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Joe Paterno, Big Ten
Path: /college-football/joe-paterno-legacy-destroyed
Body:

by Charlie Miller

In 1987, my first year in a full-time capacity at Athlon Sports, we named Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky as Athlon’s Assistant Coach of the Year. I was incredibly green in this business — needless to say — but I knew Penn State Joe Paterno to be a legend among coaches.

And for the second year, Athlon celebrated what we considered unheralded men who performed some heavy lifting and were directly responsible for the success of football programs. First it was Tennessee defensive coordinator Ken Donahue to be recognized by our magazine as Assistant Coach of the Year.

Then in 1986, the Penn State Nittany Lions did something that no other team had been able to do that season, stop Miami’s vaunted, explosive offense. Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde owned streaks of 116 and 114 consecutive passes without interceptions over the 1985 and 1986 seasons. But Sandusky engineered a defense that intercepted Testaverde five times, leading to a 14-10 Penn State victory and a national championship.

At the time, Sandusky was described by the writer Bill Lyon as “a cerebral, aw-shucks-humble, relentless watcher and analyzer of films, and most importantly the defensive coordinator for the Lions.”

The defensive genius of Sandusky was clear back in 1987 as Joe Paterno went out of his way to make sure that Sandusky was known nationally.

Paterno responded to questions about Sandusky’s prospects for a head coaching job: “Many people have talked to me about hiring him….Jerry has been reluctant to talk to anybody about a head coaching job, though, because of all the commitments he has in the community.”

The Sanduskys, Jerry and wife Dottie, had just fulfilled a dream of establishing a group home for troubled youngsters. The program, known as the Second Mile, was a home for six children at a time and 20 acres of land a mere two miles from Beaver Stadium.
Paterno continued, “Jerry and Dottie are special, special people. We’re all so proud of what they have done, and we would certainly hate to lose them.”

A Sandusky quote from the article: “We believe in the saying that it isn’t what happens to you, but how you react to it that is important.”

The final two paragraphs of the story:
“Will Sandusky be a career assistant coach? Or, one day, will there be a team identified as his and his alone? Some speculate that he will be Paterno’s successor. Paterno, who is 60, said after the Fiesta Bowl that he would coach “for another four years, maybe five, but no more than that.” Would Sandsuky’s loyalty then be rewarded?


There is precedent. For 16 years, Rip Engle had an assistant on his staff who was skinny, wore thick glasses and was bright, and everyone wondered why he never took a head coaching job. Joe Paterno always answered that he was happy just being in Happy Valley. Jerry Sandusky says the same thing. He has always been so selfless that you cannot help but believe him.”

Teaser:
<p> For more than 60 years, when Paterno was alerted to one of his players cheating on an exam, was he this reticent? By all accounts, his players were held to high standards. So why couldn’t those same standards be expected of members of his staff?</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 10, 2011 - 12:05
Path: /mlb/new-york-mets-mt-rushmore
Body:

MLB Mt. Rushmores

by Charlie Miller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Other teams' Mt. Rushmores:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But last night’s game?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MLB Mt. Rushmores

by Charlie Miller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Other teams' Mt. Rushmores:

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



 

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

MLB Mt. Rushmores

by Charlie Miller

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

Miami Marlins Mt. Rushmore

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Other teams' Mt. Rushmores:

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



 

 

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

by Charlie Miller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any other fan groups passing on this World Series?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Post date: Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 14:28
Path: /mlb/alcs-tigers-limping-finish
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Courtesy of Doug Fister, the Detroit Tigers survived their must-win game last night in Detroit. Now down, two games to one, the Tigers must find a way to win three more games with a makeshift lineup and getting just two more starts combined from Fister and ace Justin Verlander. So, where will the third win come from?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Post date: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 12:38

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