6 Apr 2012
Trap of the Day: MLB
Opening Day for Major League Baseball commenced yesterday…Today the 162-game grind carries on. Follow America’s Pastime all season long with my very own featured MLB Trap!
Of all 365 days, Opening Day is one special square on the calendar I make sure to circle in thick red marker each year. It’s a beautiful thing to watch the cycle of the seasons align in perfect harmony with baseball resurfacing into our lives. Never mind the brutal allergy season kicking in, to me there is nothing quite like the smell of precision cut grass, ballpark grub fresh off the grill and pine tar painted onto the handles of handcrafted maple wood bats. It’s a time when all fan bases league-wide are still able to conceptualize a sense of this-is-our-year type hope. That is of course before castle-in-air type ambitions are burned to the ground by the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox and the various other carnivorous spenders around the league. Though these large markets traditionally feast on smaller ones, many writers believe the inequality gap is shrinking, and a sense of competitive balance is making a return to the game.
Sigh, someday Seattle Mariners, someday.
As expected, with each and every blossoming new season comes a lengthy list of gripping story lines to follow. Without a doubt, the most universally compelling headline comes out of the City of Angels regarding Anaheim’s blockbuster signing of Albert Pujols, arguably the most talented player to put on a baseball uniform this generation. After inking a deal worth over $240-million, a microscope will be held to Pujols’ performance as he transitions from the National League to the American League.
Other buzz over the grand opening of the Miami Marlins’ luxurious stadium. Fans were absolutely wowed by the beauty of the new ballpark, although I couldn’t help but wonder what on earth the designers were thinking when they built the hideous structure over the outfield fence (see photo above). Hey, at least the cuisine has been reviewed as being above average.
Could it possibly be the year the Chicago Cubs shake their infamous curse and break out in the playoffs? Which player jerseys are the hottest purchases on the shopping market to kick off 2012? For the Rangers—who have fallen short in the World Series the past two seasons—will the Japanese sensation Yu Darvish serve as the answer to their choking problems? Is there any hope for the Astros, the lone franchise to switch leagues this off-season? If you happened to catch the movie Moneyball that debuted months ago back in 2011—here’s what Oakland A’s Billy Beanehas been up to as of late. Are the Yankees going to be dominant? Easy answer: Yes. Without a doubt.
The endless questions meet their answers inside the MLB Trap! Batter up!
30 Mar 2012
Trap of the Day: Dodgers Sold
Like Magic, the revitalized Los Angeles Dodgers are back in business! After former owner Frank McCourt declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy less than a year ago, there is officially new ownership in town for one of Major League Baseball’s most storied franchises. The man at the forefront of the ownership transition is no stranger to the Hollywood lifestyle, and there is no celebrity figure more fitting for a blockbuster deal of this magnitude. A bidding group led by legendary LA Laker, Earvin “Magic” Johnson inked a deal this week to purchase the Dodgers for a mind-blogging $2.15 billion. Read that again. Two-point-one-five-BILLION-dollars!
This enormous price tag goes down as the most expensive sports franchise purchase in the history of professional athletics. To put this in perspective, back in 2009, the historic Chicago Cubs franchise was handed over to the highest bidder at a $845 million clip. For what Magic & Co. spent, they could’ve purchased the Cubs…nearly three times!
From ear-to-ear, Magic isn’t the only man smiling right now. In fact, the biggest (crooked) smile belongs to McCourt, the guy who hadn’t been able to do anything right—until now.
Ex-owner McCourt’s life had been in shambles. He led a perennially underachieving roster for eight years to just a combined record of (675-620). Four playoff stints never resonated any real hope in the City of Angels. His teams were never terrible, but seemed to always be considered underwhelming by the baseball masses. They never had that “it” factor sports gurus rave about when it comes to a championship-caliber organizations. Despite mediocrity, McCourt chose to raise both ticket and parking costs year-after-year. By Spring 2011, McCourt had dug his franchise into such tremendous debt that he couldn’t even afford to pay the team’s payroll. When word got out that McCourt sought a loan from Fox, MLB commissioner, Bud Selig had seen/heard enough. Selig snatched the keys to the city away from McCourt and forced him to sell the only team he’d ever owned. Oh, to top that off—McCourt’s wife was divorcing him, demanding a giant chunk of change he didn’t even have.
And then, like magic, the deal of the century happened. Economists estimate that the settled upon price tag was overpriced by $800 million. Three viable ownership candidates juggled an auction style bidding war that inevitably raised the financial bar much higher than it needed to be. As a result, not only will the former owner be able to settle with his wife this April for $131 million, but he’ll be able to live comfortably until the day he dies. That is clearly an understatement. Experts on the deal estimate that McCourt will soon receive a check addressed to his name for roughly one billion dollars (before taxes, of course!).
With McCourt riding off into the sunset, pessimists remain. Where the Dodgers can possibly go from here? What does the roster think of the new ownership? What kind of television network will they pursue to try to mitigate the existing debt issues? Will there be any money left over to go after big names in free agency? What about the aging ballpark—how can the new ownership group possibly invest more money on facilities on top of their billions already spent? How will the new ownership go about addressing fan safety and advancements on security? Remember the Bryan Stowe incident?
The speculative debate continues in the Dodgers Sold trap!
20 Jan 2012
Trap of the Day: Yu Darvish
Who Darvish is likely the question you are asking yourself right about now. If that’s in fact the case, it’s about time you lay your eyes on the freshest face in Major League Baseball. A rookie that just signed a contract with the Texas Rangers worth over eight figures. Yes, you heard it correctly, count them—eight! Allow me to introduce to you, the Japanese right-hander, Yu Darvish!
The Texas Rangers’ brass are adamant about getting back to the World Series. It was no question that the first step this offseason would be to bolster their starting rotation. Job well done, guys. Signing the best foreign player in the world is certainly a step in the right direction. They went out and got a player they’ve been scouting for over two years while he was locked in a Japanese professional baseball contract, playing for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.
Here’s the catch. Just to gain rights of the pitcher, the Rangers were forced to fork up a record-setting $52,703,411 in chump change just to bring the stud to America. Then of course, they had to PAY HIM! Adding together his six-year deal, along with the expensive buyout stipulation, the Rangers ended up committing over $111 million on a guy that has yet to throw a pitch in an extremely competitive MLB mound. The concept of getting your money’s worth certainly must be terrifying to ponder for all those involved in this risky business decision.
How Darvish’s game will translate in the MLB is anyone’s guess. However, one thing is certain, the kid can play and has shown he possesses all the potential in the world. Having never seen him pitch in a game, I am rather anxious to see this story develop entering spring training in a couple months. Follow right along with me with the Yu Darvish Trap!
11 Nov 2011
Trap of the Day: Wilson Ramos Kidnapped
The sports world was hit with yet again another troubling story after the news broke yesterday afternoon that Wilson Ramos—the young rising star catcher for the MLB’s Washington Nationals—was kidnapped from his mother’s home by armed gunmen in central Venezuela. No demands have yet been made by his captors.
The 24-year old who had just recently finished his rookie season with the Nationals was standing just outside his mother’s front door when armed gunmen approached the property in a 4x4 vehicle, immediately abducting Ramos from the scene. Investigators were able to recover the vehicle used in the kidnapping in a nearby town and Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami is claiming it to be a “very important find” in the process of resolving the case. 618 kidnappings were reported by Venezuelan police in 2009, and those numbers have been estimated to be growing rapidly in the past few years.
The Nationals and MLB have officially issued a joint statement on the situation:
“Our foremost concern is with Wilson Ramos and his family and our thoughts are with them at this time. Major League Baseball’s Department of Investigations is working with the appropriate authorities on this matter. Both Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals have been instructed to make no further comment.”
Ramos was a standout player for the lowly Nationals batting .267, with 15 homeruns and 52 RBIs in just 113 games. Those are sensational numbers for a rookie! On top of those statistics, he ranked third in the National League defensively, throwing out 28% of runners attempting to steal a base on him.
We can only hope that Ramos’ captors will have mercy on the young athlete and set him free as soon as possible. In the meantime I will be thinking positive thoughts for Ramos and his family, and will be following the Wilson Ramos trap closely until the day he is set free!
1 Nov 2011
Trap of the Day: Tony La Russa Retires
A legend has left the game, but his legacy has stained Major League Baseball’s history forever.
At the age of 67, after 33 seasons and over 5,000 games from the dugout, the sure-fire Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa has retired from the game of baseball. As a former major leaguer and manager you simply couldn’t ask to go out on a higher note after his St. Louis Cardinals overcame improbable odds to win the World Series last week. His replacement will have enormous shoes to fill!
Back in early September the Cards were trailing by over 10 games in the National League Wild Card race. With a little help from the reeling Atlanta Braves and a red hot finish by his ballclub, they were able to sneak into the playoffs on the final night of the regular season. Series-after-series, the Cards entered as underdogs yet stole every October moment, eventually defeating the Texas Rangers in a dramatic game-seven of the World Series—the first game-seven the MLB has seen since 2002.
The sport will definitely miss a man like La Russa. He truly changed the game! La Russa is expected to head back to the Bay Area to enjoy his new life after baseball. Check out the Tony La Russa trap for all sorts of write-ups paying homage to his brilliant, illustrious career!
25 Oct 2011
Trap of the Day: World Series
The St. Louis Cardinals are officially on the brink of elimination heading home for game-six Wednesday. After losing in the World Series last season, the Texas Rangers can practically feel the championship trophy in the palms of their hands.
It felt like a must-win elimination game for the Rangers, playing at home for the final time this season. With the Major League Baseball World Series all tied up at two games apiece Monday night, if the Rangers happened to fall short to the Cards, they would be forced to win two in a row away from home in a hectic road environment if they wanted to take home their first ever championship in franchise history.
Much to the relief of Texas fans, the Rangers collected their third victory of the series with help from a clutch eighth inning double by catcher Mike Napoli that gave the Rangers a 4-2 lead they would end up preserving. However, the winning runs would not cross home plate without a little controversy.
Prior to Napoli’s big hit, St. Louis manager Tony La Russa hopped on the phone in the eighth inning and made the call for his star closer to begin warming up. However, much to La Russa’s surprise, Jason Motte didn’t appear from his team’s bullpen but instead, reliever Marc Rzepczynski was the face he saw trotting onto the field. The move was deemed a mistake with intense crowd noise causing the miscommunication. Rzepczynski eventually gave up the game winner to Napoli on a ball that was crushed into the right-center gap just moments after he was called to take his place on the pitcher’s mound.
Perhaps La Russa will resort to sending a text message next time.
Either way, you can rest assure that the Cardinals will not be hanging their heads come Wednesday. They will be heading home to their comfort zone for the final two games of the series…that’s if the Rangers don’t put them out of their misery first. Now’s the time to step up to the plate with the World Series Trap! Batter up!
3 Oct 2011
Trap of the Day: Terry Francona
It just keeps getting worse for Red Sox Nation. Terry “Tito” Francona has officially stepped down as manager of the Red Sox after eight years with the club, and two World Series titles.
Just a month ago, the Red Sox were sitting on a comfortable lead in the American League wildcard race and remained clinging on to a chance to steal the AL East title away from their rivals, the New York Yankees. Nobody could’ve imagined how drastically things would change once the calendar flipped pages heading into September, the final month of the MLB season.
In dramatic fashion, the Red Sox lost their final game of the season after star closer Jonathan Papelbon blew a save in the bottom of the 9th inning, allowing the tying and winning run to cross home plate with two outs. The Red Sox finished the month of September with a (7-20) record, blowing a nine-game lead in the wildcard race.
Apparently, it was too much for Francona to handle and he sensed that it was time to move on. The Red Sox management made the announcement Friday that Francona and the Sox will be parting ways after failing to make the post-season with an absolutely loaded lineup. The Red Sox brass had this to announce shortly after the news broke that Francona would be heading elsewhere:
We met with Terry Francona, Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington Friday morning to discuss the 2011 season, ways to improve the club in the future, and Tito’s status. During the meeting, Tito, Theo and Ben agreed that the Red Sox would benefit from an improved clubhouse culture and higher standards in several areas. Tito said that after eight years here he was frustrated by his difficulty making an impact with the players, that a different voice was needed, and that it was time for him to move on.
The Red Sox have now lost one of the great coaches in all of Major League Baseball, and fans have to be concerned that the exit of their heralded leader will haunt the club for years to come. On the other hand, things are looking up for Francona with vacant coaching positions available around the league. Many baseball analysts are speculating that Francona should be expecting a big pay day, filling the open manager position in either of the Chicago franchises, the Cubs or the White Sox.
Francona should be able to move on just fine, but how will the Red Sox fare? To find out the latest on this unfolding Bean Town saga, follow the Terry Francona Trap!
10 Jul 2011
Trap of the Day: Yankees
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, we’re talking Yankees baseball!
It was a historic afternoon at Yankee Stadium Saturday, as Derek Jeter became the first Yankee player in league history to reach the prestigious 3,000-hit milestone. Around the league, everyone seems to be tipping their caps towards Jeter’s impressive achievement.
But not all news was sunny in New York this weekend. Behind the scenes of the Jeter jubilation, the Yankees staff announced that all-star Alex Rodriguez has a partial meniscus tear in his right knee that may require surgery. With A-Rod out of the lineup, can Captain Jeter return to his former self and carry the offense on his shoulders?
Follow the Yankees Trap all the way through October to see if Jeter can live up to his legacy and bring one more home to New York.
3 Jul 2011
Trap of the Day: Roger Clemens
It has been nearly forty months since Major League Baseball legend Roger Clemens went under oath in front of a congressional committee, denying any wrongdoing.
For baseball fans back then, the burning questions were simple: Did he use illicit drugs? Did he cheat himself, his fans, and the game of baseball by using steroids and human growth hormone? From that day forward Congress developed a question of their own for Clemens: Did he lie under oath and commit perjury? After a U.S. Justice Department investigation led to a six-count federal grand jury indictment, the Roger Clemens’ trial has finally arrived and is set to begin this week, July 6. Should the words of Clemens’ ex-trainer be considered credible? Will former Senator George Mitchell be called to testify? What will Clemens’ former teammates say about him?
Follow the Roger Clemens Trap for the latest trial updates as this seemingly never-ending sports saga searches for closure.