Tag Archives: Prince Fielder

Your 2015 A.L. Award Winners

For all intents and purposes, MLB’s regular season came to a close last evening when the Houston Astros lost, clinching the 2nd A.L. wild card.  They’ll have a chance to take the field against the N.Y. Yankees at the Stadium tomorrow, but for today, it’s time to get on with the A.L. Awards, because as Josh Flagner noted in a column last November, it doesn’t make any sense for MLB to wait until the season has been completed for more than 2 weeks before announcing the major award winners.  I certainly don’t believe in doing that, either.  In last year’s attempt, I swept through the AL and NL player awards1I did not proffer any picks for Comeback Plays of the Year, but came up empty in the Manager of the Year posting.  Today, I’ll begin in the American League, and will get to the N.L. later in the week.  In addition to my own picks, I will predict who I believe the *experts* will pick when their time comes.  On to the Awards.

Continue reading Your 2015 A.L. Award Winners

References
1 I did not proffer any picks for Comeback Plays of the Year

Detroit's Dealin' Dave Dombrowski

Matthew Kline’s analysis of the David Price trade was spot on and it got me thinking about my perspective on the issue. The deal was an utter failure for the Tampa Bay Rays, their fans and the general state of baseball in Florida (do they even deserve two teams down there?).

I’ll admit I was convinced the Rays were keeping Price to make a run at this year’s pennant in an up-for-grabs AL East. Apparently the surging Baltimore Orioles convinced them it would be better to deal away the best thing (maybe the only thing) they had going for them.

Drew Smyly and Nick Franklin are serviceable Major League talents and will positively impact the team in the years to come but c’mon. The Rays should have needed a barge to haul all the prospects they got in return for the most sought-after player at the deadline. Instead, they needed only a makeshift raft. I’m left wondering how the team with seemingly all the power in these negotiations ended up getting the shortest of all possible straws.

The Seattle Mariners got an absolute bargain here! All they had to do was go along for the ride and hang on tight. They picked up a reliable everyday centerfielder in Austin Jackson just by sending Franklin to Tampa. It seems like the Rays got cheated.

If that’s what you believe then direct your anger toward the Rays’ front office. Sending away your best player while in the middle of a division race means you cannot play that “small market” public relations card that has allowed you to hide the fact you aren’t truly committed to winning championships. Having little spending money is one thing, indifference is quite another. Notice how Oakland all of a sudden doesn’t care much about payroll.

The only logical explanation I can offer is this: Dave Dombrowski, the Detroit Tigers General Manager/ President/ CEO. He is the very best in the business at what he does. At least it appears that way with all the tremendous transactions he has made in his tenure. (I also believe all but a handful of GMs aren’t given enough authority to effectively alter their teams’ rosters, thus making it hard to compete with Dombrowski who clearly does.)

The acquisition of David Price is one of the many blockbuster moves Dombrowski has pulled off for the benefit of the Tigers and their fans. The complete list is long. Most of these moves go under the radar or are forgotten about in due time, but the highlights are evident when watching the team. Take a look:

Jan. 2005: Ugueth Urbina, Ramon Martinez for Placido Polanco.

  •  Seems like ancient history by now but Polanco was invaluable during the resurrection of baseball in Detroit along with Ivan Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez.

Dec. 2007: Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Eulogio de la Cruz, Burke Badenhop for Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis.

  • Willis was fun to watch for maybe three starts but who cares about him. This deal landed the game’s best hitter in Detroit. Maybin and Miller have had marginal success in the Bigs but again, who cares.
Dombrowski laughing at the haters.
Dombrowski laughing at the haters.

Dec. 2009: Curtis Granderson, Edwin Jackson for Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, Max Scherzer, Daniel Schlereth.

  • Boy oh boy did I have a hard time talking to Tigers fans about this trade. Granderson was loved in Detroit and it seemed everyone refused to acknowledge this as a good trade simply because he was shipped out. He never would’ve become the player he is today had he not gone to the Yankees back then. Edwin Jackson continues his grand tour around baseball playing for the Cubs these days (his ninth team in his twelve seasons). Austin Jackson stepped seamlessly into the void left by Granderson and remained the starting centerfielder until recently being dealt in the Price trade. Coke struggles a lot but who in the Tigers ‘pen doesn’t nowadays. Scherzer took some time to pan out but I’d say winning last year’s Cy Young more than makes up for his late bloom. And I will continue to ask Detroiters if they still miss the Grandy man.

July 2010: Giovanni Soto for Jhonny Peralta.

  • Not Soto the catcher, some lefty who I haven’t heard anything from since. Peralta literally made history immediately dropping bombs over the Green Monster in his first two at-bats with the Tigers (the only player ever to do so). He was suspended 50 games last year and was forced to move to left field when he got back because Jose Iglesias was manning shortstop by then. Peralta still hit better than everyone not named Victor Martinez during the postseason. It would have been nice to have him at short this season too with Iglesias on the shelf.

July 2012: Jacob Turner, Brian Flynn, Rob Brantly for Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante.

  • Turner is still trying to lockdown a permanent spot in the Miami rotation while Sanchez has soared. The American League ERA leader from last year has electric stuff even though he goes mostly unnoticed considering the arms that surround him. Infante was a Tiger earlier in his career. It was nice to see him back at second base since everyone and their mother in the Tigers’ system was trotted out at the position after he left the first time. He’s moved on again, to Kansas City this time but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him come back once more to finish his career in Detroit.

July 2013: Avisail Garcia, Brayan Villareal for Jose Iglesias.

  • This was part of the trade that sent Jake Peavy to Boston. Garcia has been hurt ever since getting to Chicago which really is too bad because he and Jose Abreu would have made for an incredible 3-4 punch. Iglesias wowed everyone who watched him in the field down the stretch last year. He too has been hurt for the entirety of this season. If he can’t come back healthy and stay that way, I’ll have to say I don’t like this deal because I hated seeing Garcia go, especially to a division rival.

Nov. 2013: Ian Kinsler for Prince Fielder.

  • As a Tigers fan, the only thing better than signing Fielder was trading him away. Kinsler is the straw that stirs the Tigers’ drink. I was ecstatic when I heard this news and have not at all been disappointed by the results thus far. Rangers fans would have to disagree I’m sure since Fielder didn’t play more than a couple months this season before being diagnosed with a season-ending neck injury.

Dec. 2013: Robbie Ray, Ian Krol, Steve Lombardozzi for Doug Fister.

  • This one’s still up in the air a bit. Ray has become the Tigers’ top pitching prospect. Krol has looked too much like Coke when he’s been healthy. Lombardozzi was soon dealt to Baltimore for Alex Gonzalez (ugh). Put it this way though, without having dealt Fister the Tigers wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get Price.

So now I’m thinking maybe it wasn’t the fault of Tampa Bay’s front office. Maybe Dave Dombrowski is just that damn good at what he does.

You See a PED Cheat. I See a Gigantic Loophole.

If you’re mad at individual players for using PEDs, you’re missing the point and misplacing your anger. Focus on the penalty, or lack thereof, not the perpetrators.
Even on the off chance a guy gets caught, he only has to serve an 80-game suspension. And if he’s dumb enough to get caught twice he gets slapped with a season-long ban. That’s a 162 game, summer-long break that could actually rejuvenate a baseball player during a strenuous career.

[RELATED: You See Nelson Cruz, 20+ HR Guy. I See a PED Cheat. ~ From Matt Kline]

It really is, “3 Strikes and you’re out,” according Major League Baseball’s Performance Enhancing Drug Policy. Now to be clear, the Major League Baseball Players Association also helped shape these rules for repercussions, agreeing to them in a joint effort with MLB. A lifetime ban from the game is the result of being caught thrice. I think that’s one too many chances.

As Dunder Mifflin Regional Manager Michael Scott once mistakenly said, “You know what they say: fool me once, strike one. Fool me twice… strike three.” That’s obviously not the way the old cliché goes, but I think it’s appropriate in these cases.

There’s a difference between Ryan Braun, who lied about not taking PEDs yet ended up testing positive again later, and the other guys who have tested positive and served the suspension that was handed to them. Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, Jhonny Peralta and many others have all served their time and since come back to slightly decreased numbers, but still solid Big League production.

You can’t blame these ultracompetitive guys for taking something they think might give them the extra edge they think they need. On more occasions than not (at least according to the players), the banned substances are hidden in seemingly normal supplements that they try out. And you can’t fully understand how confusing proper supplement taking can be unless you’ve recently looked at the ingredients on the bottles in GNC.

Home run totals are down anyway.

Barring crazy breakout seasons from Chris Davis last year and Jose Bautista in 2010, nobody has hit 50+ dingers since Prince Fielder and twice caught PED-user Alex Rodriguez did it back in 2007.

I’m sure a lot fewer guys are using PEDs and not being found out too. Just think how many sluggers of the 90s were never caught. Plenty of guys were successful yet overshadowed by the spectacle of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa going head-to-head with each other repeatedly while they played in the same division.
You honestly think anyone who really cares doesn’t already know who’s tested positive for PEDs? I certainly hope each and every GM in MLB would know something so important when making a decision on a player.

Singling players out in the field is silly. And in a city like Detroit where our team has maintained a consistent classic look for decades, the proposition of sewing on distracting extra letters to individual players would be considered more a defilement of art than any sort of justice. Of course, you’ll needlessly embarrass countless fathers who take their curious youngsters out to the ballparks but can’t field their questions about the strange letters only one or two players have all over them.

Again, the real issue is with the penalization, not the players. If you want to punish the guilty players, that’s fine. I’m all for that, but let’s do it in the right way. Kick them out immediately after they are proven cheaters. If they weren’t worthy of a second chance, why give them a third?

Detroit Tigers Off-Season Keys

The Detroit Tigers were two wins from playing in two consecutive World Series. If the Tigers fill some key needs they’ll be right back into the mix. Dave Dombrowski is a mastermind; we all know that, so Tigers’ Cult rest assured these needs will be filled.

Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski is a mastermind; we all know that, so Tigers’ Cult rest assured these needs will be filled.

Photo by Keith Allison

A Healthy Miguel Cabrera:

A mid-season back issue began a seemingly never-ending spiral of Miguel Cabrera injuries that included  hip, abdominal wall, and groin injuries. Cabrera underwent offseason surgery and is projected to be ready by spring training, and the Tigers definitely need him. Above all, including the bullpen’s shortcomings, Miguel Cabrera’s lack of production due to injury held the Tigers back. With a healthy Miguel Cabrera and a couple new pieces the Tigers are right back into the World Series discussion.

Bullpen Depth:

Coming into the offseason it was clear relievers, most importantly a closer, were some of the Tigers biggest offseason needs. Although Dombrowski has solidified the closer spot with the former Minnesota Twin, 39 year old Joe Nathan, you have to believe the trade that sent Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals means solid bullpen arm Drew Smyly will be moved into the starting rotation. The 8th and 9th inning guys are solidified with the 22 year old Bruce Rondon and the aforementioned Nathan in the ninth. Add Al Alburqurque and you’ve got three solid relievers, but the rest of the pen is a bit of a tossup.

Outfielders:

The Tigers need a better bat in the outfield. Everyone thought this would be Nick Castellanos, but trading Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers will mean shifting Cabrera back to first  base, which means Castellanos will be back at his natural third base spot.

Do the Tigers stick with the route they took last year with Andy Dirks in LF, Austin Jackson in CF, and Hunter in RF? Or do they make a move for a guy like Shin-Soo Choo?

As of now Dombrowski says not to expect any big names being signed, but we have all heard this before. Remember the lead up to the Prince Fielder signing?

Austin Jackson’s bat back:

Getting Austin Jackson’s batting stride and front foot settled are key to the Detroit Tigers offseason.

After hitting .300 with 16 HR 66 RBI and having a OBP of .377 in 2012, Austin Jackson’s 2013 numbers fell to .272, 12 HR 49 RBI and an OBP of .337.

Jackson’s WAR fell to 3.4 in 2013 after he amassed his highest WAR of his career at 5.5 in 2012. On the bright side Jackson hit .318 and had a OBP of .423 in the Boston series, so hopefully that little sliver of success can carry over to the 2014 season.

A Change behind the Plate:

I often notice Alex Avila’s name being drug through the dirt on twitter, I spot people calling for him to be replaced and some tweeters even like to say he is only on the Tigers because of his father, Assistant GM Al Avila. Sure you can criticize Alex for his bat at times but if you dive into what matters most with a catcher, what he is doing behind the plate, you’ll see why Avila is so valuable.

The relationship between a pitcher and catcher is often overlooked, I get it there is no chemistry stat but it’s there and when it is good you can tell:

Alex Avila caught 21 games for Anibal Sanchez. In those games Sanchez had an ERA of 2.42, with other catchers that rose to 2.94.

When Avila was behind the plate catching 18 games for Justin Verlander, Verlander had an ERA of 3.11. With Bryan Holaday and Brayan Pena, now with the Cincinnati Reds, catching Verlander in the other 16 games his ERA rose to 3.85.

In the 18 games Avila caught, Cy Young award winning pitcher, Max Scherzer, Scherzer had an ERA of 2.49 in the other 15 games with Pena behind the plate that number rose to 3.41. When you look at the improvement Avila brings behind the plate and realize that a catcher’s first job is just that, to catch, you see Avila’s true value.

Tigers Offseason Final Thought:

All Detroit needs is a healthy Miguel Cabrera, a couple of bullpen arms, and a couple of tweaks along the way. If those issues are fixed the Tigers will solidify themselves as World Series contenders – maybe even favorites – once again.

Photo Credit to Keith Allison

Reflecting On 2013 Tigers And Theorizing Where To Go From Here

It’s been over for nearly two weeks.

dt.common.streams.StreamServerThe Detroit Tigers’ latest assault on that elusive fifth World Series title fell short last Sunday, as Shane Victorino’s Game 6 grand slam (which is still airborne) catapulted the Boston Red Sox into the World Series (which they are expected to win within the next two days). The Tigers became the first team to reach the ALCS in three consecutive seasons since the New York Yankees made four in a row between 1998 and 2001. The Yankees won the World Series in 1998, 1999, and 2000, and were one win from another championship in 2001. The Tigers have won the pennant once out of these three appearances and won exactly zero games in the ensuing World Series. Pretty stark contrast.

Going so far as to call the 2013 season a “failure” appears at first glance to be a bit harsh, but consider that the organization’s brain trust has stated time and time again (especially over the past two seasons) that the goal of the Detroit Tigers is to win the World Series. They were very active at the trade deadline this season and last. They spent MORE THAN $500 MILLION DOLLARS to tie up three players: Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Justin Verlander. The Tigers have had three good teams over the past three seasons, but they all had the same fatal flaw: a failure to score in the postseason. The Tigers averaged only 3.2 runs per game in the 2013 postseason, and have averaged 3.4 runs per game over the past three Octobers. The 2013 edition was extra-special because of their abysmal bullpen; the bullpen that cost Max Scherzer two wins in the ALCS and blew three wins for Detroit overall. The team appeared to be constructed well enough, yet there’s no championship. And when the franchise credo is “World Series or bust” and the franchise doesn’t win the World Series, then yeah, there’s a mildly compelling argument that 2013 was a failure, despite the third consecutive division title, despite the likely Cy Young Award for Scherzer, and despite the very strong possibility of another MVP award for Cabrera.

The Tigers’ latest postseason power outage cost them their manager, as Jim Leyland elected to step down after eight seasons on the job. As much vitriolic crap as Leyland frequently got from scores of angry Detroit fans, there’s no denying the impact he had on the club. When he arrived in 2006, the Tigers were irrelevant. They lost 119 games in 2003, their last winning season was 1993, and their last playoff appearance was in 1987. Since 2006, the Tigers have recorded the following: six winning seasons, four playoff appearances (three times as division champion), and two pennants. What that means: Jim Leyland is the second-best manager in Tigers history, right behind Sparky Anderson.

Now, regarding this team’s future. The way this writer sees it, there are two feasible routes the Tigers can go (no, neither of them involve hiring Dusty Baker and spending $250 million on Robinson Cano):

1) hire a younger manager from outside the organization (Brad Ausmus, Torey Lovullo, Tim Wallach), trade potential 2014 free agent Scherzer, and begin to utilize younger/unproven players on the major league roster (whether it be from the Scherzer trade or to fill voids left by the departures of free agents Joaquin Benoit, Omar Infante, and Jhonny Peralta). At the end of 2014, let Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez walk as free agents, and *consider* moving 2015 free agent Cabrera (unless he takes a discount), In other words, lay the miguel-cabrera-icon2foundation for a rebuild.

2) hire from within (Tommy Brookens, Jeff Jones, Lloyd McClendon), keep the band together (perhaps add an impact free agent because #MikeIlitchPizzaMoney), and give it another go in 2014. Extend Cabrera and/or Scherzer to keep a semblance of a championship window open for the next few years.

The rumors of the Tigers shopping Scherzer won’t go away, and with three guys making $20 million per year already on the payroll, general manager Dave Dombrowski may have to consider how to cut costs and get maximum value back for some of his assets. The Tigers’ farm system is one of the worst in baseball now, and it must be replenished eventually. Going route #1 would be disappointing to many fans, but no one really knows how much more 84 year-old owner Mike Ilitch can or will spend to rope in a title. And the current “win now” approach hasn’t paid all the dividends it was expected to.

MLB: Detroit Tigers-Prince Fielder Press Conference

Route #2 would appease hungry fans and likely keep the Tigers in that upper echelon in MLB. However, the farm system would still be in tatters and the Tigers would be paying at least $20 million per season to FOUR players for the next several years. Close to half the payroll would be tied up in two pitchers and two hitters, and at least three will be getting paid well into their late-30’s, unless a Marlins-esque salary dump occurs. This payroll constriction will be a problem in the years to come if the Tigers develop any top-flight prospects in the next year or so, or if secondary guys on the roster need a raise.

The Tigers are definitely a team to watch this offseason because of all the questions they have to answer. They’ve blown two golden opportunities to win a World Series for Mr. Ilitch and a rabid fanbase over the last two Octobers, and 2013 could very well prove to be the swan song for this era of Tigers baseball. Only time will tell.

The Indians: What Just Happened?

Four long and brutal days ago, I wrote this piece filled with my hopes and dreams for the Cleveland Indians and their upcoming series with the Detroit Tigers.

Today, I sit dejected, mulling over my thoughts and searching for any kind of answer.

What just happened?

Four days ago, the Indians were three games out in the AL Central Division and in the lead for the second AL Wild Card. Today, they’re seven games back of Detroit and three games back of the Wild Card spot.

Four days ago, Corey Kluber pitched, Mark Reynolds sat on the bench, and Ryan Raburn was still on a minor league contract. Today, Corey Kluber is on the DL, Mark Reynolds is no longer a Cleveland Indian, and Ryan Raburn is now a Cleveland Indian for the next two years.

Four days ago, I was filled with hope and optimism for this Tribe team. Today, I am working as hard as possible to keep up my optimism and my passion for this Indians team.

Only so much could happen in four days, you would think. In the past four days, however, it seemed as if the Indians completely fell apart.

It started in the ninth inning on Monday, an inning I was there to see. As I sat in the bleachers, I watched Chris Perez blow his first save since his return from the DL and break the collective spirit of the city of Cleveland at the same time.

In one mighty swing, Alex Avila may have crushed the Indians playoff hopes for this season.

Game two was more of a laugher, as Justin Verlander was essentially untouchable. Throwing by far his best game of the season just in time for the Indians, they had no chance of beating him, especially with Don Kelly’s .458 batting average against Justin Masterson.

Then came game three, the most heartbreaking of them all.

A back and fourth 14 inning affair when the stars shone brightest for the Tribe. Danny Salazar was incredible in his 7.2 innings of work. Nick Swisher finally got it going offensively, hitting two RBI doubles and putting the Indians ahead by a run. It seemed as if in the “must win” game of the series, the Indians were going to get the job done.

The bullpen was masterful for 5.1 innings until Prince Fielder, again, destroyed the city’s hope in one fell swoop, banging a gaper off of the newly acquired Mark Rzepcynski.

Nevertheless, the Tribe wasn’t done. Two out hits from Mike Aviles and Michael Bourn set up a scenario in which they were down a run with a man on third and two outs; a chance to comeback once again. Unfortunately, the hole that would have normally been filled by Nick Swisher instead held Drew Stubbs, who ultimately failed to deliver.

Down 3-0, the Indians had to face Max Scherzer, the undoubted 2013 Cy Young winner,  and had no chance from the get go. For many Tribe fans, they just wanted to see the series end, regardless of where the Indians are.

10 runs later, the Indians fell to 0-4 in their biggest series since 2007 and in the meantime lost one of their most reliable starters, least reliable power hitters, and that budding optimism that kept fans around the ballpark for the entire series.

Long story short, the Indians blew their chance in so many ways.

First of all, they blew a chance to prove that they belonged in the race for the AL Central. Clearly Detroit is a MUCH better team, but it seemed as if the Indians didn’t belong in the same breath as the mighty Tigers.

They also blew a chance to put this talk of an annual “August Collapse” – a thing in which I did not believe that I’m starting to put some thought into – and keep the Cleveland fans in the ballpark for the rest of the season. The Browns played a very nice game last night and in doing so, may have turned the focus of this town to the gridiron.

Finally, and worst of all, the Indians fell three games back in the Wild Card- their seemingly only route to the playoffs thus far. It seemed as if the Indians were all but a lock to contend for the play-in-game, but now even that seems far off in the distance.

So what do we do now? What do they do now? The questions have piled up in ways they wouldn’t have, should the Indians have won a game or two in this series.

For the Indians, the most important thing to do is to show resilience. While they are on the precipice of a stunning collapse, there is no reason why they should fall. They’re not an elite-level baseball team like the Tigers, but they’re also certainly not the 2012 Cleveland Indians either. Stay away from the August collapse and hope that it’s good enough for a Wild Card berth; just take things day-by-day. The AL Central chapter is over. Open up a new chapter, the Wild Card chapter, and find the love, hope, and optimism that you possessed just before this heartbreaking set. It’s as easy, and as difficult, as that.

For the fans, just keep the faith. Just keep watching this team until they have in fact “collapsed” in the month of August. I truly believe that this team will meet my expectations and hunt for the Wild Card deep into September, but most fans don’t share my optimism. The fact of the matter is, the only way to keep fans around is to win, and in the biggest series of the year, they didn’t. Now, they have to start winning again and giving this town reason to believe in their Tribe.

Regardless of what you may say, Cleveland is itching for the Tribe to return to the playoffs, despite the Browns and their season. Cleveland hasn’t seen the playoffs since 2010 and would support any team that got them back to the promised land.

While this has been a gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, and demoralizing week, just believe. Believe that this team is going to prove to us that they’re in this for the long-haul. Give them the opportunity to prove to us that they deserve to have our butts in those seats. Give them the opportunity to prove that despite their recent struggles, they’re still a strong and resilient baseball team.

Despite this horrible, terrible, awful week, I still have faith that this is the team that’s going to get us back in the postseason, be it this year or next. Until that becomes fact, however, don’t give up on this team. They’ve done too much to this point to have their fans abandon them just as the going got rough.

Although it’s tough, and the wind is completely out of our sails, this season isn’t done yet. There’s still a month and a half to go and it’s an “easy” month and a half in terms of the schedule.

Believe that this Indians team won’t fall short of our expectations again.

It’s not over.

Not even close.

Alex Rodriguez Needs to Learn Some Perspective

by Ryan Isley

The most deadly combination in Major League Baseball is no longer Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder – it is Alex Rodriguez and a microphone. Every time Rodriguez gets behind a mic and talks about PEDs, he may as well just be wearing a squeaky red nose and big red shoes because he comes off as nothing more than a clown.

This Monday was no different. As Rodriguez met with the gathered media in Chicago to discuss the 211-game suspension that was handed down to the New York Yankees third baseman, he said the following six words:

“I am fighting for my life”

My first reaction to this statement contained more than a couple expletives, as my wife can confirm. The reason for this was simple – it was apparent to me that Alex Rodriguez still simply does not get it. Rodriguez has no sense of perspective whatsoever, and even worse – it is becoming more and more obvious as time goes by that he is clueless.

If he wants to talk about fighting for life, I can share with him a couple of stories that fall under that category.

I can tell him about September 18, 1982. It was just two weeks before my 2nd birthday. We were visiting my grandparents, which meant my brother would be giving me a ride around the yard. Those rides consisted of me sitting in a wagon that was attached to back of the riding lawnmower.  Unfortunately on this day, the ride wasn’t fun. The mower jumped gears, putting itself into reverse and flipping the wagon. When the mower was finally stopped, I was underneath it.

Let that sink in for a minute. Here is an infant who is not yet two years old and he is now stuck under a riding lawnmower with severe cuts to his head.

That is a fight for life.

I was rushed to Akron Children’s Hospital, where doctors did everything they could to not only save my life, but make sure they limited any damage that may have been done. They did a skin graft on my head and put so many stitches in that the doctor didn’t even bother to count the number.

Celebrating My 2nd Birthday
Celebrating My 2nd Birthday – bandaged head and all

I won my fight for life that day. And even now when I look at pictures from that time and see the bandage on my head, I get a tear in my eyes because I realize how lucky I am to be here today.

If that isn’t enough to give some perspective on fighting for life, how about this:

Flash forward 18 years and five months to February 18, 2011.

My mom had been in Akron General Medical Center for her second extended stay in two months, fighting the effects of her hepatic cirrhosis. It was getting to be late Friday afternoon when her doctor approached me and said he was recommending that she be transferred to the Cleveland Clinic. Of course I knew what that meant – as much as I didn’t want to think about it, my mom was fighting for her life.

Once at the Cleveland Clinic, my mom underwent multiple procedures over the next couple of days and some of those procedures were done simply to keep her alive. At one point during one of the procedures, they lost my mom. They were able to bring her back with the defibrillator, but not before she had gone several minutes without oxygen to her brain.

With my mom still struggling, but not scheduled for any procedures until later Sunday, I decided to try to get some sleep after being awake for 60+ hours in a row. Of course, just as I fell asleep, I was awoken by the doctor telling me my mom had begun having seizures during the night and that they would not recommend reviving her should they lose her again.

As I have written before, I went through making that decision as I watched her and knew that she was not really there, even though she was physically in front of me. My main priority was to keep her alive until her brother and sister could get there to basically say their goodbyes, as they were both coming in from out of town.

After making the decision to let her go, I held her hand for that last hour of her life, watching her every breath, knowing that any one of them could be her last. While my mom may have ultimately lost the battle, she continued to fight and never gave up even through those last breaths.

Now THAT is a person fighting for their life.

Back to Alex Rodriguez…

Rodriguez isn’t fighting for his life. He may be fighting for his livelihood, but there is a stark difference between the words life and livelihood.  And let’s not get it twisted – Alex Rodriguez only cares about two things: Alex Rodriguez and money. Beyond those two things, Rodriguez is oblivious to anything else that is happening around him or in the world. His self-centered attitude and indifference to all things not related to himself have been one of the 38-year-old’s biggest downfalls since his arrival into Major League Baseball.

As far as I am concerned, nothing that Rodriguez has accomplished or may accomplish in the future matters. Every one of his numbers and possible records will forever be tainted and I cannot respect him. My lack of respect goes far beyond his cheating and shaming the game, however. It is because he never has and never will get it – and that is a shame.

From here on out, Alex Rodriguez is dead to me.

Well what do you know – maybe he really was fighting for his life…

Comments? Questions? You can leave them here or email Ryan at ryan@morethanafan.net

Face of the Franchise- N.L. Central

We’ve made our way in to the N.L. Central, home of some of the most storied franchises in MLB’s history- and the Milwaukee Brewers.  If you’re new to the Face of the Franchise series (or if you simply forgot to tell me how big of an idiot I am), you can get started here, and then work your way to the beginning.

The Chicago Cubs were once one of the most successful franchises in MLB’s history.  Of course, the last time that statement was true was sometime shortly after they won the 1908 World Series.  Up to that point, they were the home of Cap Anson, Tinkers to Evers to Chance, “Three Finger” Brown, and Grover Cleveland Alexander.  In later years Andre Dawson, Mark Grace, and Ryne Sandberg would call Wrigley home.  They are a franchise that has the best winning percentage in a single season (1906:  116-36, .763) as well as the 3rd best winning percentage in a single season (1886:  90-34, .726.)

Continue reading Face of the Franchise- N.L. Central

Fixing the MLB All-Star Home Run Derby

by Ryan Isley

As Monday evening came along, I turned on ESPN just in time to hear Chris Berman’s voice announcing the start of the Major League Baseball All-Star Home Run Derby. Immediately, I tuned it out.

As the evening wore on and I found myself actually enjoying the celebrity softball game more than the Home Run Derby, I decided that we needed a change in how All-Star Monday is handled – especially the Home Run Derby.

The first change?  Berman would never be back (back, back, back). Not only has he grown to agitate almost everyone I have spoken with, but his references are older than the players he is using them to describe.

I actually enjoy John Kruk and Nomar Garciaparra on the set, so they would stay. Replacing Berman? That would be the highly underrated Joe Tessitore, as I think Tessitore is the one of the best announcers that is employed by ESPN and is versatile enough to handle the Home Run Derby.

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The Detroit Tigers: Ferocious Felines or Pussy Cats?

The Indians just came off what was definitely the biggest series of the season thus far. They swept the Detroit Tigers. For me, however, the Tigers don’t pose as big a threat as the White Sox. In all honesty, if the Indians keep it up, they won’t be touched by either team. But, it’s way too early for that.

When I look at the Tigers lineup, I am not scared. Three players put fear into me: Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, and Justin Verlander. Verlander pitches once every five games, so he doesn’t scare me much. Fielder and Cabrera are Fielder and Cabrera and can hit the ball wherever they please. As for the rest of the lineup, it’s darn right crappy. Just a lack of talent on the diamond.

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