All posts by B. George Young

B. George Young is a freelance writer who was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. He graduated from the University of Northern Arizona with a degree in humanities. George is an amateur DJ who spends lots of time watching sports.

Charles Barkley Should Be Rolling Over In His Grave

As the legendry Phoenix sports figure Charles Barkley might say “First of all Ernie, let me tell you something. The Phoenix Suns are turrible. Charles Barkley should be rolling over in his grave.” Now that the near miraculous Arizona Cardinals season has ended in disappointment, the only teams we have currently playing are the Suns and the Coyotes.

The Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks have had pretty similar paths over the past several years. The Suns have finished at or near .500 in three of their past five seasons, with one decent season in 2013-14, and a terrible campaign the year before. The team has not even made the playoffs since 2009-10. The Diamondbacks have also finished exactly at or very close to .500 in three of their last seasons, with 2014 being a very forgettable year.

While this comparison does not seem very encouraging at first, what we have learned from the Diamondbacks is that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. This offseason the D-Backs shook up the baseball hot stove with their huge signing of right handed pitcher Zach Greinke, and also signed RHP Shelby Miller from Atlanta.

During the offseason the Phoenix Suns did everything they could to try and sign coveted free agent LaMarcus Aldridge, but they did not succeed. It seems as if they will need to do something similar this year to try to get a big free agent that can turn things around. At this point the team would be best off trying to tank and lose as many games as possible so they can get more ping pong balls in the draft lottery. If they can get a high draft pick and a big name free agent, the Phoenix Suns might get back to being respectable faster than Charles Barkley can yell for their hated rival “Ginobili!”

 

The Arizona Diamondbacks 2016 Projected Starting Pitching Rotation

The Arizona Diamondbacks finally decided to spend some money and now have one of the best pitchers in MLB in Zach Greinke and a solid #2 starter in Shelby Miller. The team spent more money on Greinke alone than they have on free agents over the past several seasons combined. The D-Backs gave Greinke $206.5 million over six years, which has now become the highest salary in MLB history.

This deal may remind Valley sports fans of when Randy Johnson came to town in 1999, and we all know what happened in 2001. Many are saying that Arizona gave up too much to acquire the services of Miller, who had a terrible record last year in Atlanta. Not only did the Diamondbacks give up local favorite OF Ender Inciarte, but they also gave up #1 pick Dansby Swanson and fellow pitching prospect Aaron Blair.

Wherever you stand on the trade, the Diamondbacks want to win now and plan to do so with their pitching. As of mid-December this is how their starting rotation looks:

GettyImages-492838076#1: Zach Greinke

2015 Record: 19-3

2015 ERA: 1.66

2015 WHIP: 0.84

 

 

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves#2: Shelby Miller

2015 Record: 6-17

2015 ERA: 3.02

2015 WHIP: 1.25

 

 

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks#3: Patrick Corbin

2015 Record: 6-5

2015 ERA: 3.60

2015 WHIP: 1.27

 

 

 

during the MLB game at Chase Field on April 7, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.#4: Rubby De La Rosa

2015 Record: 14-9

2015 ERA: 4.67

2015 WHIP: 1.35

 

 

 

 

 

Houston Astros v Arizona Diamondbacks#5: Robbie Ray

2015 Record: 5-12

2015 ERA: 3.52

2015 WHIP: 1.33

The Arizona Diamondbacks Need Either Johnny Cueto Or Shelby Miller

The Arizona Diamondbacks, much like the Phoenix Suns, seem to have become stuck in mediocracy. In both 2012 and 2013 the team had exactly a .500 record with 81 wins and 81 losses. In 2014 they dropped down to an MLB worst 64 wins, but in 2015 the D-Backs were able to rebound with 79 wins.

The Diamondbacks now have a nice core of young players including Archie Bradley, Patrick Corbin, Nick Ahmed, Jake Lamb, Chris Owings, and Socrates Brito. Of course they also have team MVP Paul Goldschmidt who is still relatively young at 28 years old. Last season the Diamondbacks’ team logo was “One-62 Plus” which meant they were hoping to once again reach the postseason.  So what exactly are the team’s plans to finally have a winning season and make a playoff push?

Elsa/Getty Images
Elsa/Getty Images

The team has expressed interest in the veteran free agent pitcher Johnny Cueto as well as younger pitcher Shelby Miller. The D-Backs starting rotation has promise but certainly needs help. The problem is that the team does not want to give up enough to get someone that may be able to make a significant difference in the NL West standings. They don’t want to pay more than $18 million a year, get rid of any of their young prospects, or give up a high draft pick. With that being said, Arizona offered Cueto a six year deal for $120 million, but the veteran right hander reject the deal.

The team clearly needs an ace on their staff and Cueto could be just that. He has an eight year career ERA of 3.30 and in his last five seasons that is down to 2.70. The Diamondbacks have made a lot of moves in recent years, but none of them have really seemed to pay off, and they seem to shy away from big name free agents.

Butch Dill/Getty Images
Butch Dill/Getty Images

Perhaps they would be better off working out a deal for Shelby Miller of the Atlanta Braves. Negotiations between the two clubs have been taking place, with Arizona turning down a deal that included A.J. Pollock. If they are serious about getting their hands on Miller, they better work something out fast. It has been reported that as many as 20 other MLB teams have checked on the pitcher’s availability.

If the Diamondbacks stay put with their current core of young talent, they may be able to scrap out a decent 85 win season, but with the Giants and Dodgers still in their division, they are not going to get anywhere. They need to make a big move and a starting pitcher is exactly what they need. Whether it is Cueto or Miller, someone in the organization needs to get a deal done fast.

The Best Arizona Sports Announcers Of All Time

If you really stop to think about it, professional sports in Arizona is a relatively new concept. Sure the Phoenix Suns have been around since 1968, but all three other major teams have been in the Valley for less than 30 years. The Cardinals moved here in 1988, the Coyotes in 1996, and the Diamondbacks were formed in 1998. Over that period of time Arizona sports fans have been treated to some good, and bad, announcers. Here is a look at the Top 5 best announcers in the history of Arizona sports.

#5 – Dave Pasch

The NFL doesn’t really have “local announcers” for TV in the same way that the NBA, MLB, and NHL do. They do have local radio broadcasters though, and Pasch has been the play-by-play man for the Cards since 2002 when he joined the Arizona Cardinals Radio Network. Since 2012 he regularly works for ESPN and calls college football, college basketball, NBA, WNBA, and even Arena football games.

#4 – Greg Schulte

Schulte is the least nationally known on this list, but has been the radio play-by-play voice of the Diamondbacks since the team started in 1998. “The Gub’nuh” is known for his catch phrase “Deep drive…warning track…wall…you can touch ‘em all”. Schulte called Luis Gonzalez’ game winning single in the 2001 World Series and has also covered the Arizona Cardinals and Phoenix Suns.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

#3 – Mark Grace/Darren Sutton

After winning a World Series championship with the Diamondbacks, Gracie was in the running for becoming the team’s manager. Instead, he was partnered with Brenneman on television from 2004 to 2006. When Thom left the broadcast booth, Darren Sutton paired up with Grace from 2007 to 2012. The two were very entertaining to listen to, even if they went off on too many tangents. This pairing had an infamous ending which brought back Bob Brenly and newcomer Steve Berthiaume.

#2 – Thom Brenneman

Thom Brenneman was born into the business with his father Marty Brenneman being the voice of the Cincinnati Reds. Arizona baseball fans were spoiled to have Thom as the first television voice of the Diamondbacks until he left in 2006 to join his dad in Cincinnati. Thom was hired by Fox Sports in 1994 to call national NFL and MLB games. He still calls NFL playoff games as well as American and National League Division Series in baseball.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

#1 – Al McCoy/Cotton Fitzsimmons

Although Al McCoy is known as “The Voice of The Suns”, not including legendary coach and announcer Cotton Fitzsimmons would not be right. The two made a great pair calling Suns games on television and radio. McCoy has been calling NBA games on the radio since 1972 and is the longest tenured broadcaster in the league. During that time he only missed one game due to illness. McCoy also worked as a play-by-play man for the Diamondbacks during their inaugural season when he was paired up with another legend Joe Garagiola. McCoy’s catchphrases include “Shazam!”, “Heartbreak Hotel!”, “Wham Bam Slam”, “Zing go the strings”, and “Swish-a-roo for two”. Cotton Fitzsimmons was a two time NBA Coach of the Year and has been credited with helping turn around the Suns to achieve their success of the late 1980s and first half of the 1990s.

Why The NFL Has No Respect For The World Series

The NFL has done something over the past few years to prove to the world that they feel they are the only professional sports league that matters. We all know that the NFL is the top dog when it comes to professional sports, but now they seem to be laughing in the face of America’s former National Pastime.

There was a time when the National Football League actually respected Major League Baseball enough to not schedule a Sunday night game that would be played opposite the World Series. That time is over. Football is so popular in America that a Week 8 regular season NFL game gets more viewers than a possibly decisive Game 5 of the World Series.

nfl-wallpaper

 

NBC’s Sunday Night Football game between the undefeated Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos drew about 23 million viewers, while the World Series between the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets managed to bring in about 17.2 million viewers. Some will point to the fact that the baseball game ran late due to extra innings. The numbers actually show that many viewers flipped over to watch baseball after the football game ended. Game 5 of the World Series actually hit a 12 year high for ratings, but it still wasn’t enough to beat the NFL.

The marquee matchup between the undefeated teams of Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers was a little disappointing, while the World Series game was a nail-biter for 12 innings. Fantasy football can also be partially blamed because many people likely had key players in the Sunday night game. After the ratings came out, this was the most watched Week 8 NFL prime time game in 22 years! Obviously the NFL’s schedule makers didn’t know that both teams would be undefeated, but they knew that this would be a marquee matchup that would draw ratings against the World Series.

During its first four seasons on NBC, Sunday Night Football had the decency to take one week off as to not conflict with the World Series. Since deciding not to take a Sunday night off, the NFL’s schedule makers have featured either the Green Bay Packers or New Orleans Saints in the game opposite the World Series every year since 2010. The thought process is supposedly that neither New Orleans nor Green Bay has a MLB team so there should be no conflicts of interest.

Rob Carr/Getty Images
Rob Carr/Getty Images

It seems that the NFL is not going to back down and wants high ratings no matter what it goes up against. If this trend keeps up, it may be baseball that is forced to change its postseason schedule to avoid the NFL. With the NFL now playing prime time games on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays, that doesn’t leave much for MLB to work with. The World Series might have to be played on Tuesday and Wednesday with a travel day on Thursday. They could play the next two games on Friday and Saturday, although that would not allow for the current 2-3-2 format.

Even Pete Rose decided to do something else for Game 5 of the World Series. He had a contract already signed to appear for a private dinner, speech, and autograph session and was not able to be featured as an analyst on the Fox broadcast. It would be nice for the NFL and MLB to work together even if it’s just to schedule one week in October, but that seems unlikely. The NFL regards itself so highly that it will never budge and just wants to keep gaining money and popularity.

Why Arizona is the New Baseball Capital of the World

With the Major League Baseball season coming to an end with the World Series, fans in Arizona can rejoice in knowing that we now live in the Baseball Capital of the World. While many of the Chicago and New York transplants were able to root for their teams in the playoffs, Diamondbacks fans once again had to endure a near .500 season for the third year in a row.

While the D-Backs do have some good young players and prospects, they are stuck in a difficult division along with the Giants and Dodgers. The good news is that baseball fans stuck in the valley are actually lucky to live in a place where the national pastime is thriving.

MIKE NELSON/AFP/Getty Images
MIKE NELSON/AFP/Getty Images

In order to make the claim that Arizona is the Baseball Capital of the World, we must first take a look at other locations around the world who have claimed the same thing in the past. Lake Tomahawk, Wisconsin claims to be the Snowshoe Baseball Capital of the World, we’ll let them have that one.

Earlier this year the Wall Street Journal found that St. Louis, Missouri is the “biggest baseball city” in the United States, which basically means baseball gets the highest television ratings in the Gateway City. Books written about the sport have called Chicago, New York, California, and Farmington, New Mexico the baseball capital. None of the evidence for these locations seems overwhelming, so now let’s lay out the reasons why Arizona should claim this title.

Spring Training

We all know that Arizona is home to half of the teams in Major League Baseball for Spring Training. The Cactus League is located in the cities of Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Mesa, Goodyear, Glendale, Surprise, and Peoria. Florida has the Grapefruit League, but the cities that host those teams are too spread out to be able to realistically take in a game at each ballpark without much effort.

Getty Images
Getty Images

World Baseball Classic

The World Baseball Classic first took place in 2006 as an international baseball competition to find out which country plays hardball the best. While the final games have always taken place in California, Arizona and Florida also host games for the first and second rounds of the tournament. If you pay close attention to the Spring Training schedule during a year that the WBC is played, you can catch a glimpse of the American team playing against a team from MLB somewhere in Arizona.

Arizona Fall League

Each year Arizona is the only place to catch the game’s elite prospects. Each MLB team sends six players which are arranged into six teams. This is the only place to catch professional baseball in between the regular season and Spring Training, and is designed as a finishing school for upcoming players that you might see each year at the Futures Game during All-Star Weekend.

Arizona is also home to the Diamondbacks, who won the World Series in just their 4th year as a franchise back in 2001. When looking for the Baseball Capital of the World, it appears that warm weather cities are the new likely candidates. Sure Florida and California can stake their claim since they both host the World Baseball Classic and have successful MLB franchises, but Arizona is the only state that has a MLB team, Spring Training, the World Baseball Classic, and the Fall League. For these reasons, Arizona can claim the crown of the Baseball Capital of the World.