Time to finish up the American League with the American League East where the Red Sox finally bring back bobblehead giveaways in 2014. While you’re here check out the AL Central and AL West bobblehead battles. As a reminder, each bobblehead will be rated 1-5 stars based on quality of subject, originality, number available, and overall awesomeness. Teams will be ranked by total stars, so the more giveaways (especially quality ones) the better.
Boston Red Sox (all fans in attendance)
Monday, April 7th, David Ortiz: You couldn’t ask for a better Red Sox player to start the bobblehead giveaways with. This would’ve been a perfect ***** if it had been of Ortiz raising his fist telling Boston to stay strong. Red Sox are going to rate highly giving these away to every fan. ****
Wednesday, April 30th, Dustin Pedroia: And if you were going to pick a 2nd player on the current Red Sox to immortalize on a bobblehead, it would be former AL MVP Dustin Pedroia. Better have real dirt stains! ***1/2
Tuesday, September 9th, Pedro Martinez: Come on Red Sox! No bobbling goodness in May, June, July, or August? For shame! You get some redemption with the best pitcher in Red Sox history and the man who asks “Who is Karim Garcia?” ***1/2
Total: 11 stars
New York Yankees (18,000 fans)
Thursday, June 19th, Mark Teixeira: Yankees bobbleheads in 2013 were a murderer’s row (unfortunately not the actual Murderer’s Row) with Derek Jeter, Hideki Matsui, Yogi Berra, and Mariano Rivera. This years crop? Not so much, starting off with the oft-injured Yankees first baseman. **
Wednesday, July 2nd, Lou Gehrig: I love this bobblehead and is by far the best one in the Yankees crop. It celebrates the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s “luckiest man” speech, it’s a must have, especially if you can get the Twins one to pair with it. ****1/2
Sunday, July 27th, Paul O’Neill: A solid Yankees player that has found a home in the YES broadcasts with the team, so he’ll be in attendance for this one. Don’t think there will be as much excitement for this one than Matsui last year. ** 1/2
Wednesday, August 20th, Joe Girardi: Has Yankees World Series rings as a player and as a manager and is worthy of a bobblehead, but I can’t get too excited for it. **
Total: 11 stars
Tampa Bay Rays (20,000 fans)
Saturday, April 5th, Wil Myers Rookie of the Year: I just like the way that this bobblehead looks. Props to the AL East for having larger giveaway numbers. ***
Friday, May 23rd, Alex Cobb Military Themed: I’m interested to see how this one ends up looking, but it sounds pretty solid. For now, though. ** 1/2
Saturday, September 6th, Evan Longoria 80’s Hair Band: Another Rays bobblehead that I need to see to believe. I want to have faith that this is going to be spectacular though. *** 1/2
Total: 9 stars
Toronto Blue Jays (20,000 fans)
Sunday, April 27th, R.A. Dickey: This Dickey bobblehead would’ve meant more if he had repeated his 2012 performance north of the border, but it’s a good effort and he deserves it. ** 1/2
Sunday, June 8th, Jose Reyes: I can basically say the same thing for Reyes that I said for Dickey, right? ** 1/2
Sunday, August 24th, Mark Buerhle: Let the 2013 Blue Jays disappointment bobblehead train continue! **
Total: 8 stars
Baltimore Orioles (Promotion schedule not posted as of 3/7)
What do you think is the best bobblehead collection in the AL East? Let us know in the comments!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
This is a picture of the Atlanta Braves official 2013 calendar. The current month’s picture has Martin Prado, Tim Hudson, and Brian McCann. All of them no longer play for the Braves after Prado was traded before the 2013 season, Hudson signed with the Giants, and McCann signed with the Yankees (coincidentally the latter two IN November 2013). Oops.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
Thanks to the good people over at Deadspin.com, we may have shed some light on the unsavory tactics of one of baseball’s greatest heroes. X-Rays from the same expert who found cork in a game-used Pete Rose bat a few years ago confirmed that there was cork in a Mantle bat that was going up for auction.
With all the PED allegations swirling around modern superstars like Ryan Braun and Robinson Cano, spitball accusations flung at the AL’s best pitcher, and the general degradation of the sport’s reputation over the last 15 years of steroid use, this is a frustrating, hard-to-ignore development.
We may brush this aside because it’s from half a century ago, and we couldn’t possibly tarnish the great Yankee’s legacy, but it really shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Rose is banned from baseball forever for betting on the game, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and more are pseudo-banned from Cooperstown for their involvement (allegedly, in many cases…but let’s be real) with PED’s in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, and multiple other players have been blacklisted by MLB for other significant scandals.
I’m not calling for action against the deceased Mantle or any alteration to his Hall of Fame plaque, but we must wonder at what point we accept all forms of cheating as part of the sport, and at which point we go 100 percent intolerant of it.
However, according to a Redditor who commented on this post on r/baseball and quoted an episode of Mythbusters, corking a bat may not actually benefit a hitter in any way. In fact, it might do just the opposite:
According to the MythBusters August 8, 2007 baseball special, the ball hit by a corked bat travels at only half the speed of a ball hit by an unmodified bat, causing it to go a shorter distance. The cork inside the bat actually absorbs the kinetic energy like a sponge, hindering the batter’s performance. In addition, because corked bats are lighter, they have less momentum to transfer to the ball, bringing them to the conclusion that the use of a corked bat had fewer benefits over a regular bat. The show also notes that while filling a bat with cork makes it lighter, there is nothing in the rule book that prevents a player from simply using a lighter, uncorked bat. However, contrary to the last note in the episode, the reason players “cork” a bat is to keep it as long as a heavier bat, but make it lighter; which cannot be done without some kind of non-wood filler in the sweet spot of the bat.
Does that mean it’s forgivable? Not necessarily. But it certainly seems to be one of the most tame forms of cheating.
Share your thoughts below by voting in the poll or posting a comment.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
Another Yankees player goes down to injury. Kevin Youkilis who strangely enough has almost been the heart of the Yankees lineup this season, was placed on the 15-day DL with a back injury.
Corban Joseph here in the Yankee Stadium clubhouse; Kevin Youkilis placed on the 15-day DL
— Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) April 30, 2013
Here’s an updated list of Yankees players on the disabled list.
Shortstop Derek Jeter
Third Baseman Alex Rodriguez
Center Fielder Curtis Granderson
First Baseman Mark Teixeira
First Baseman/Third Baseman Kevin Youkilis
Catcher Francisco Cervelli
Starting Pitcher Ivan Nova
Starting Pitcher Michael Pineda
That DL-lineup could probably contend in couple divisions in baseball. The Yankees are currently 15-10 this season, because anything can happen when you put on the pinstripes.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
In the wake of the tragedy at the Boston Marathon on Monday, MLB teams showed their support for the city of Boston by playing “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. The song is a staple at Fenway Park and is sung by Red Sox fans before the bottom of the 8th inning. The song was played at home games by the Braves, Marlins, Reds, Cubs, Twins, Dodgers, Indians (who were playing the Red Sox), and even their biggest rival, the Yankees. Here is the video of “Sweet Caroline” being played at the end of the 3rd inning at Yankee Stadium.
Here’s the Target Field version:
Down in Miami at Marlins Park:
All the way on the other coast at Dodger Stadium:
And at O.co Coliseum in Oakland:
Turner Field in Atlanta where the Braves went on to hit three homers in the bottom of the 8th:
The Brewers showed their support by playing another famous Boston song, the theme from “Cheers”. That can be heard at the 1:40 mark of this video.
You have to love the support that Boston is getting from across the country. It’s the little things like this that add up to big things. It really is “so good, so good, so good.”
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
MLB Network’s Bob Costas quoting Ludacris got me thinking, how connected are hip-hop music and the game of baseball. Rappers are always wearing baseball jerseys and hats when they make appearances. We’ve even seen many hip-hip artists like Common, Pitbull, Daddy Yankee, MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, Big Sean, and Snoop Dogg throw out first pitches at games.
What are the top baseball references in hip-hop songs? Let’s take a look!
5) Lil’ Wayne-“Swag Surf”
Lil’ Wayne dropping a line to the former Red Sox all-star is all sorts of awesome. I wonder if he’s been kickin’ it with Garciaparra’s wife Mia Hamm lately.
Lyrics: I ain’t promise tomorrow, Now women kick it with me like Nomar Garciaparra
Plus, who can forget Lil’ Wayne singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at AT&T Park.
4) Game (feat. Chris Brown)- “Pot of Gold”
It’s safe to say Game loves sports. In this song alone he makes references to LeBron James, the New Orleans Saints, and baseball MVP and current Angels slugger Albert Pujols
As I sit back and watch
The ashes on my cigar fall
Wayne just came home and
Tip back on the yard dawg
Guess Pujols ain’t the only one playing hard ball
3) Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz- Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)
There’s no actual baseball lyrics in the song, but the entire video was shot in the former home of the Mets, Shea Stadium. They do get deductions for trying to pass it off as Yankee Stadium in the beginning of because both of them are from the Bronx.
2) Nelly and St. Lunatics-“Batter Up” and Nelly (feat. Diddy & Murphy Lee) “Shake Ya Tailfeather”
It’s fair to say Nelly loves baseball. He’s always inserting references into songs and loves his St. Louis Cardinals. “Batter Up” is the most baseball-dedicated song in hip-hop complete with a music video that doubles as a baseball game. While Nelly’s “Shake Ya Tailfeather” from the Bad Boys 2 soundtrack samples the Atlanta Braves chop song.
1) Jay-Z and the New York Yankees
There’s not a hip-hop artist more synonymous with a baseball team as the Jigga Man and the Yankees. He always is wearing a Yankees hat and even made Bronx Bombers superstar Robinson Cano his first client of the new Roc Nation agency this week. You can check out the top five Jay-Z Yankees references here. I’m going with the lyrics from mega-hit “Empire State of Mind” with Alicia Keys.
Catch me at the X with OG at a Yankee game
I made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can
A ton happened in the American League East this offseason, the Blue Jays traded for and signed everybody under the sun, the Yankees can’t stay healthy, the Red Sox have a new manager, the Rays said goodbye to James Shields and hello to Wil Myers, and well the Orioles, they didn’t do much. Who will win possibly the most unpredictable division in the Majors? Let’s take a look!
Projected Order of Finish: Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles
Why the Rays could win the A.L. East: Let’s start off with defending Cy Young winner David Price anchoring a young and talented starting rotation. James Shields may be gone, but there is still plenty of firepower with maturing Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, Alex Cobb, and Jeff Niemann. Not to mention Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi waiting in the wings. The bullpen is the best in the division with Fernando Rodney coming off the lowest ERA in the history of the league, plus excellent setup men in Joel Peralta and Jake McGee. We’re still waiting on the superstar break out season from Evan Longoria. If it happens in 2013, the Rays are in great shape. I’ve also now gone this entire paragraph without mentioning Joe Maddon, who is the best manager in the game today.
Why the Rays wouldn’t win the the A.L. East: The young rotation guys aren’t quite ready. Evan Longoria spends more than half the season on the disabled list like in 2012. Fernando Rodney reverts back to the Fernando Rodney before 2012 and doesn’t carry over the “magic plantain” powers from the World Baseball Classic. Desmond Jennings still isn’t ready to take the next step. Yunel Escobar gets himself in trouble. The Blue Jays really are that good.
Why the Blue Jays could win the A.L. East: The talent the Jays assembled is the best that they’ve had since their 1993 World Series championship team. The starting rotation is talented and experienced with Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey, the spectacular, but oft-injured Josh Johnson, the bulldog Mark Buerhle, and “awesome when his stuff is on” Brandon Morrow. It’s not just the rotation that’s revamped though. Jose Reyes now sits atop an explosive lineup with two-time home run champion Jose Bautista and WBC teammate Edwin Encarnacion, who hit 42 home runs last season. The Jays also added Melky Cabrera, who was leading the National League in batting average, before he was suspended for fifty games.
Why the Blue Jays wouldn’t win the A.L. East: It’s not very often the team built to succeed immediately actually succeeds. Just ask the Angels and the Marlins last year. The bullpen still has a ton of question marks. Is Casey Janssen ready to be a big-time closer on a winning team? Is Sergio Santos completely healthy? Can Darren Oliver keep it up at 42 years-old? The Blue Jays better hope the answer is yes to two of three of those. Edwin Encarnacion could have had a fluke season instead of a breakout one. Plus, can Colby Rasmus and Adam Lind keep their heads on straight and hit the way they were supposed to as highly touted prospects?
Why the Red Sox could win the A.L. East: First off, maybe they really just disliked Bobby Valentine so much that they went into tanking mode to ensure he was gone. John Farrell will provide an upgrade in the dugout and in the clubhouse. Jon Lester looks ready to return to form after a terrible 2012. The lineup is solid enough, especially when David Ortiz is healthy. Shane Victorino provides enough of a clubhouse presence and more importantly, enough of a bat, to keep Boston in contention. Jackie Bradley is everything Red Sox fans think he really is.
Why the Red Sox wouldn’t win the A.L. East: The heels of David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury get the Sox off on the “wrong foot”. Jonny Gomes is primarily involved defensively. The starters after Jon Lester (and even Jon Lester if he’s in 2012 form) aren’t top-notch. Ryan Dempster needs to be the first half of 2012, not the second half. Clay Buchholz has fallen apart after showing so much promise in 2010. John Lackey is John Lackey. The bullpen is revamped with closer-quality pitchers in Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey, and Koji Uehara, but they all need to stay healthy.
Why the Yankees could win the A.L. East: They’re the Yankees and you can never count them out. They rally around Mariano Rivera, who’s retiring at the end of the season, to get him one more chance in the playoffs. The injuries that they’ve experienced in Spring Training aren’t as bad as originally thought for Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Phil Hughes, and Alex Rodriguez and they can provide enough, especially in the 2nd half. The pitching keeps it together (minus Hughes) with experience at the top (CC Sabathia, Huroki Kuroda, and Andy Pettitte) and youth at the bottom (Ivan Nova and David Phelps). The bullpen with a returning Rivera, David Robertson, and a fully-healthy Joba Chamberlain could be the best in the division. Robinson Cano plays completely out of his mind for a contract and is the clear-cut AL MVP.
Why the Yankees wouldn’t win the A.L. East: The injury bug is just too much. The names “Vernon Wells”, “Juan Rivera”, “Lyle Overbay” and “Travis Hafner” are predominantly involved in the lineup after the All-Star break. They stick to their payroll to stay under the luxury tax and it prevents them from going after what they need at the trade deadline.
Why the Orioles could win the A.L. East: Winning one-run games (MLB best 29-9 in 2012) was actually skill and not luck. The bullpen of Darren O’ Day, Pedro Strop, and Jim Johnson doesn’t wear down in a bullpen than threw the 4th most innings in MLB last season. Buck Showalter continues to work his magic in Charm City and wins A.L. Manager of the Year. Baltimore calls up Dylan Bundy and he immediately becomes a lights-out staff ace. Manny Machado excels in his first full year in the Majors, while Adam Jones continues his path to super-stardom evolving into a near 30-30 player.
Why the Orioles wouldn’t win the A.L. East: The statistics guys are right and the Orioles regress to the mean in one-run games. The starting pitching doesn’t hold up like it did last year. Seriously though, this is the worst rotation on paper in the division. With the lineups in the A.L. East it might be tough for them to keep afloat.
Evan Longoria and David Price-Rays
Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista-Blue Jays
Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia-Red Sox
David Price and Fernando Rodney-Rays
CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera-Yankees
Jon Lester-Red Sox
R.A. Dickey and Brandon Morrow-Blue Jays
Rookie of the Year
Wil Myers and Chris Archer-Rays
Jackie Bradley and Jose Iglesias-Red Sox
Who do you think takes the crown in the A.L. East? Let us know in the comments!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
I was lucky enough to attend game 3 of the ALDS between the Orioles and Yankees in the Bronx. It ranks up there among the best games I’ve ever attended, thanks to one Raul Ibanez. I was able to capture the game-tying home run on video from the left field bleachers. You can hear the fans second-guessing Joe Girardi’s decision to bench Alex Rodriguez. Their second-guessing changed with just one pitch.
Sadly though, my phone died as I was trying to record Ibanez’s game-winning home run in the bottom of the 12th. Ibanez also knocked that one out of the park on the first pitch.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
Imagine my poor blood pressure this morning when I woke up to a headline like THIS today.
Something like what Derek Jeter is alluding to would be disastrous if it actually came to fruition. I’m no Yankee fan by any measure, but I truly respect Jeter and have looked up to him since I was a little kid. And I just can’t imagine him wearing anything besides the pinstripes.
None of that Joe Montana-to-the-Chiefs, desperate-to-keep-playing, end of the career crap from Jeter, please.
Sure, the unthinkable has been done before – Ken Griffey, Jr. moved to Cincinnati from Seattle even though he looked like a super hero in the silver and teal. Heck, we had one happen this past off-season when Albert Pujols jumped ship to Anaheim, despite looking so damn good in Cardinal red.
But the super fan in me would like to keep that kind of olé B.S. to a minimum. I don’t know what it is…the players themselves, the jersey/color combo of the teams they represent, or just the nostalgia of a childhood long-gone (okay, I’m not that old), but I identify Jeter and the rest of this list as players who I could never, ever see in a different jersey:
*Disclaimer: Mariano Rivera and Chipper Jones not included because they are guaranteed to stay a Yankee and Brave, respectively, for the remainder of their Hall of Fame careers*
1. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
Let’s start with the Captain himself. Jeter has played all 18 seasons as the shortstop of the Yankees, number two plastered on his back. Needless to say, Mr. November will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the next great Yankee to have his number retired. There is no more iconic jersey in sports than those of the Yanks, and even imagining Jeter in an Angels, Cubs, Red Sox (god forbid) or any other jersey is painful.
I know he’s only been around a few years, but damn if Posey hasn’t made himself a celebrity in San Francisco at Usain Bolt-esque speed. There is no way the team will let this guy walk away as long as he’s physically able to play the game. It’s really hard to predict this early, but we could be seeing the next great “one-team” lifer in Posey, who should be representing that awful orange and black for another decade and a half.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – if Mariners GM Jack Zdurineck trades Felix, he should not only be fired, but tarred, feathered and forced to watch Jack and Jill on loop. Hernandez is the King of Seattle and it should stay that way forever. I dig the silver and teal uni’s up there in the Pacific Northwest, and Hernandez wears it best. Plus, he wants to stay a Seattle Mariner. I’m sure Brian Cashman has visions, but I just can’t see this guy in Yankee garb.
When I say Rockies, you say Helton! “ROCKIES!” “HELTON!” Thank you. But seriously, Helton is about as synonymous with Colorado baseball as macaroni is with cheese. He’s played all 16 years of his career manning first base at Coors Field, and will most definitely have his number retired there whenever he hangs up the spikes. Todd Helton in anything but purple would be straight criminal.
I know a few Cardinals fans who would actually sob uncontrollably if Yadi ever slips on another team’s jersey. And they should, because it would arguably be more devastating than the loss of Pujols to that devoted fan base. Whereas Pujols was the power and glam of the team, Molina is the heart, soul, lungs and kidney of the franchise. I know NL catchers have a short shelf life, but just trying to picture him as a Dodger or Phillie makes me want to elbow drop a baby penguin.
Last, but certainly not least, we have arguably the best all-around player in the National League. I don’t know what it is with him and that black and gold, but McCutchen just looks so right in a Pirates uniform. Maybe it’s the dreads, or the blindingly white smile, or the elegant physique over which the Pirates’ jersey falls. No matter, McCutchen can never go play for the Indians or Orioles or anyone else. He needs to be in Pittsburgh for life.
Honorable Mentions: Matt Kemp (Dodgers), Mike Trout (Angels), David Price (Rays)
Comment below if you think someone else should be considered for this list! And don’t forget to VOTE in the poll:
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
Well we hit a bump in the road after Kyle Kendrick, Andrew Cashner, and Dan Straily evened out the greatness that had been the Mapes Fantasy Special. Naturally, the secondary picks of Francisco Liriano, Tommy Milone, Jeremy Guthrie, and Mike Minor were the ones I should have gone with. Hopefully you find yourself in the next round of the playoffs. Here’s what I like for Tuesday, September 18th.
I’m going with Mets rookie Matt Harvey making his last start of the season at home against the Phillies. The 39% owned righty was solid pitching at Philadelphia on August 29th going 6.1 IP and giving up just two earned runs. I think Harvey will want to leave a lasting impression on Mets fans as they head to the offseason. Harvey’s strikeout potential (63 in 52.1 IP) is tremendous if you’re looking for a push in that category. Plus, you’ve got to like him pitching in Citi Field where he has a 2.12 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 17 innings.
We’re double dipping today for Mapes Fantasy Special with one of our favorites Baltimore’s Wei-Yin Chen. Chen provided great numbers for us last week (7.1 IP, 8H, 2ER, 1BB, 7K) against the Rays. He now gets to pitch in possibly the best pitchers park in Seattle. Last time he faced the Mariners at Safeco, Chen just dropped a pitching line of 7.1 IP, 2H, 2ER, 0BB, and 9K. That exactly what we’re looking for in a Mapes Fantasy Special and what Orioles are looking for in their playoff push. Chen is owned in just 45% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
If You’re Desperate: Yankees veteran Andy Pettitte returns from a broken fibula after three months to take on the Blue Jays. He’s a big game pitcher, but not a risk I think I’m willing to take, Pettitte is owned in 22% of leagues. Athletics rookie A.J. Griffin (46% owned) has been an absolute stud since getting called up, but I’m not sure I’m willing to trust him on the road against the Tigers team that has the 3rd best OPS against righties in MLB. Padres Eric Stults (18% owned) has a matchup at Chase Field against the D’Backs, which is usually scary, but Stults threw 7 scoreless at Arizona just four starts ago. Braves Paul Maholm (44% owned) has been Jeckyll & Hyde lately alternating good and horrible starts. He’s due for a good start this time (if you believe that sort of thing) at the Marlins who he held to one earned over eight innings last time he faced them. Reds Homer Bailey (34% owned) has three straight starts of 2ER or less, but faces a Cubs team who he gave up nine hits and four earned runs last time he pitched in the Windy City.
If You’re Desperate Rankings: Maholm, Griffin, Stults, Pettitte, Bailey
Good luck in your fantasy leagues!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)