Tag Archive | "2011"

2011 ALDS – Texas Rangers vs Tampa Bay Rays Recap


This was hands down one of the most exciting series played in recent memory. Whether you are a Rays fan (they do exist right?) or Rangers fan, you were given a lot of intense postseason baseball.

We saw the coming out party of the best young pitching prospect in the game in Matt Moore. Moore dominated the Rangers in Game 1 going 7 innings allowing only 2 hits while striking out 6. He was simply dominate. He even came back in Game 4 on 3 days rest to pitch 3 innings and only made one mistake that Adrian Beltre hit out in left, but this kid is for real.

I like the Rays, underdogs are always fun, but I don’t root for them against the Rangers. Regardless of Rays fan or not, you have to be excited about what Moore will do in the future. While I hope it doesn’t come true, I did find it funny seeing all the comments in the Twitterverse about how Moore will be the best Yankee soon. Sure he will have his ups and downs, but the AL East is going to be competitive when you put Moore alongside Price and the rest of that young Rays staff. Look for more of the same from them in the future making the playoffs.

Game 2 sung a different tune with the Rangers holding on to win 8-6. The Dutch Oven, Derek Holland, pitched well but not great throwing a lot of pitches in 5 innings. However, the Ranger’s bats showed up this time and pounded Rays starter James Shields for 7 runs. Perhaps the most surprising thing was they did it without the long ball. They scored 8 runs, but only 1 came on a long ball while Tampa continued to hit the long ball with 2 more.

Ogando showed how valuable he is coming in and shutting down the Rays in the 6th overpowering them. Koji Uehara had a rough outing allowing a 3-run bomb to Longoria in the 7th that cut the lead to only 1.

But like all year the Rangers responded. Darren Oliver came in to quiet the Rays hitters setting it up for Adams and Feliz in the 8th and 9th. And Mitch Moreland came up with a huge home run to give the Rangers a little cushion.

Game 3 was more of the same with the Rangers holding on late to win. Desmond Jennings put the Rays on top in the 4th with a solo home run which also turned out to be the only hit Colby Lewis would allow. Texas responded in the 7th with a great at bat and a huge home run by Mike Napoli to put the Rangers up 2-1 over David Price. Still in the 7th Roy Hobbs himself Josh Hamilton came up with a huge hit to extend the lead to 4-1.

From there it was a matter of holding off the Rays rallies. They got a run back in the 7th off of Oliver who couldn’t find his way, but was bailed out by Ogando once again. Mike Adams struggled in the 8th with perhaps his worst outing of his career which all started with Desmond Jennings 2nd home run of the game.

It took a 4 out save from Feliz to close the door and give Texas the 2-1 lead in the series. But what shouldn’t be overlooked is how good Lewis was from the get go. Colby once again had a great outing in the postseason. This time he went 6 innings allowing only 1 hit and striking out 6 along the way. He has really stepped up huge in playoff games the past 2 years.

Game 4 was the Adrian Beltre show. Heading into the game Beltre didn’t have an extra base hit in the playoffs. After the game he not only had 3 extra-base hits but 3 home runs. Beltre hit 3 solo shots to power the Rangers past the Rays and into the ALCS. Two of the home runs came off of Rays starter Hellickson who hadn’t given up 3 home runs in a game ever, until tonight. Ian Kinsler also got to him leading off the game with a solo shot. But even after Hellickson left and phenom Matt Moore entered, Beltre wasn’t done. He touched up Moore for a solo shot as well in the 7th which proved to be the difference in the end.

Matt Harrison had a good outing going 5 innings and striking out a season high 9. Derek Holland came in to through an inning and a third out of the pen, and after pitching in the 6th and 7th innings in the previous 2 games Ogando threw a perfect 8th inning setting it up for Feliz to close it out in the 9th.

With the win the Rangers will face the winner of the Detroit/New York series which goes to a game 5 on Thursday night. I don’t think the Rangers care who they play since they seem to just go about their own business and get to work. Regardless of who it is, it should make for some great baseball.

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And Then There Was One…..Game Left That Is


And we were down to one.  After 161 games, the Atlanta Braves and the hated (at least by this blogger) St. Louis Cardinals are tied with a single game to go.

So what will happen over the next 24-48 hours? Whatever it is, it will be fun to watch.

What looks good for Atlanta:

1. Tim Hudson is starting in game 162. Hudson has been the best pitcher for the Braves all year, and if the Braves could have 1 pitcher to throw in an important game it would be him.

2. Joe Blanton is starting for Philly. Not that Blanton is a pushover, but he isn’t exactly Cole Hamels (who was slated to start). Blanton is coming out of the bullpen to replace Hamels as the Phillies start to get their rotation in order.

3. Some Philly starters might get a rest. They may not get the entire game off, but there is a possibility that they are pulled early and/or some bullpen pitchers will not be used in order to give them a rest. This is all up in the air and may be game situation type moves, but they could go in the favor of the Braves.

What looks good for St. Louis:

1. First and maybe foremost, they are playing the Astros. Despite the fact the Astros could play spoilers to a division rival, they have still lost 100+ games.

2. The Cardinals have Chris Carpenter starting in a huge game. The numbers might not tell it, but Carpenter is a big game pitcher. His ERA and WHIP are a bit higher than normal maybe, but if I am a Cards fan I want him pitching in a big game.

Whatever happens tomorrow, the one thing I don’t want is a game 163. The Braves just don’t have the starting pitching, outside of Hudson, to really compete in a do-or-die situation. But in a game like that you never know what might happen.

I know I’ll be up early tomorrow to watch the games. The Braves start just after 8am local time for me. You can catch me on Twitter at @BaseballJourney talking baseball and either getting really excited or angry in the process. Say hey if you are on during the game.

 

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NL Wild Card Race Heating Up


The wild card race in the NL is heating up with just 3 games to go. Atlanta has played horribly over the past month, while St. Louis has really turned things on and put a lot of pressure on the Braves.

The Braves are fighting hard to stay in the lead for the NL Wild Card, but if the current trend continues, they will be on the outside looking in. They end the year against the best team in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies. However, out in St. Louis the Cardinals look like they will make the playoffs despite playing from behind. Why?

The Cardinals face off with the team with the worst record in baseball, the Houston Astros.

But don’t count the Astros as simply a push over. A few weeks ago they took 2-out-of-3 from Philly, and they have nothing to lose. That is always something to be considered. A team whose season ended long ago would love nothing better than to keep a rival out of the playoffs.

A look at the pitching match ups for the Phillies/Braves match up:

Game 1: Cliff Lee vs Randall Delgado

The Phillies have one of the best pitchers in baseball pitching the first game of the series in Cliff Lee. Lee is 16-8 and sporting a 2.38 ERA for the year. He is an ace on a team full of aces.

Randell Delgado has never pitched a bigger game in his career, and this will only be his 7th start in the Majors. But his first 6 have been good. He is coming off his career win against Florida, a game in which he went 5 shutout innings. He has pitched well, but he is young and doesn’t go deep into games.

Game 2: Roy Oswalt vs Derek Lowe

Roy Oswalt isn’t the 20 game winner of the past, but he is still a very good pitcher. His record sits at 8-10 with an ERA of 3.86. Two of his last 3 starts though he has gotten pounded by two of the worst teams in baseball (Washington and Houston). He sandwiched those bad outings with good starts against St. Louis and Atlanta.

Derek Lowe has been atrocious this year. His 9-16 record is the worst is his worst since 2010 when he went 5-10 for Boston. He has lost 4 games in a row and in only one of those did he have a “quality start”. He hasn’t pitched well of late at all.

Game 3: Cole Hamels vs Tim Hudson

Cole Hamels has been great this year. His 14-9 record might not look that impressive, but his 2.75 ERA and 0.98 WHIP sure do. He has had some good outings in the past weeks but mix in have been some not so good outings as well.

Tim Hudson has been the ace of the Braves staff again this year. So far he is 16-10 with a 3.23 ERA and a WHIP of 1.14. He has won 2 straight but the 2 before that weren’t so good and 1 was against Philly. But expect him to pitch a huge game on the final day of the season. You can bet it will matter in the end.

Prediction: This is hard because I really am a Braves homer. I freely admit they are my favorite team. But looking at this objectively, I think it could easily go 2-1 in favor of either squad. The Braves have a lot to play for and I think Chipper and the boys will be up for the challenge.

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I Miss Watching Baseball Regularly


I can’t remember a year where I watched less baseball than this year, and I don’t like it.

I miss being able to come home from work, relax, and catch a game on TV. Summer here in Korea is my busiest time of the year at work so I get to watch even less. When September rolls around I am needing a baseball fix and that’s when I usually get MLB.tv to catch some MLB action from back home.

It’s not a bad deal here since evening games back home come on here in the morning. I can get up at 8 or 9 am and watch a game before going to work. The only problem with that is I work late and tend to stay up late to wind down after work which makes it harder to get up in the morning. I have been watching more and more and I can tell my mood is  a little better when I get to watch baseball.

I have been busy with other endeavors as well and got sidetracked not watching very many KBO games here on weekends. I can’t remember a time when I watched so little baseball, but I plan to make up for that in September and October.

I am also looking forward to hopefully seeing a little bit of the ABL (Australian Baseball League) again this winter.

I have been wondering of late how much baseball I could watch next year if I change jobs. I wonder how many people watch 162 games a year, or get close, at least people who are not working games and just fans. I don’t know if I could do that much with my work schedule and traveling a bit, but I am going to figure out a goal to hit for next year.

I know one goal here is to write daily from now on. I miss writing about baseball, but with the small amount I have been watching it makes it harder to write.

So how much baseball do you watch in a year?

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Thoughts on September MLB Races


There are some good races heating up in the last bit of the season. While several teams have sewed up playoff spots, there are some really good races left.

Perhaps the best race is the AL West. The Rangers head into today action with only a 3.5 game lead over the LA Angels. This is going to be a great race, especially since the two teams meet to end the year with a 3 game set.

So who is going to win the West? My call is going to be the Rangers for one main reason – offense.

The Rangers may not have the 3 big horses that LA has, but they have the better offense and enough pitching to get the job done. The Rangers are getting some great seasons out of players like Michael Young, Mike Napoli, and despite what a lot of people are saying Ian Kinsler.

While the Rangers don’t have the front 3 in the rotation like the Angels do, they have a deeper starting staff and a better bullpen. This might be the difference in the race.

The only other races are for the wild cards. In the AL, Boston is battling Tampa Bay and LA for the wild card as well as the Yankees for the AL East Title.

Boston is only 3.5 games back of NY for the AL East with neither team playing well of late. If they can’t catch the Yankees, they are sitting in the wild card spot, but have two teams breathing down their necks.

Tampa Bay is only 4 games back and LA 5 games back in the wild card race. Both have picked up a lot of ground on Boston over the past 10 games.

The NL Wild Card race is heating up as well with St. Louis coming on of late trailing Atlanta by only 3.5 games. The Cardinals have picked up 4 games on the Braves in the past 10 as Atlanta has really struggled of late.

So who will come out on top?

AL East – I think NY will hold onto the top spot and win the division.

AL Wild Card – Boston will hold off Tampa Bay to get into the playoffs.

AL West – Texas

NL Wild Card – This is the hardest one to call. I am hoping the Braves can hold off the Cards, but I am a little worried about how they have played of late. However, I am going to go with the homer call and say the Braves.

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Baseball Travel Plans for 2011


I have been debating for some time about where to travel this summer in order to see some baseball. Nothing is set in stone yet, because of my schedule at work being uncertain for later in the year.

The options:

1. Late July / Early August – I am thinking of taking off to Taiwan to check out baseball on the island. There are a lot of places they play and its a relatively cheap place to travel to.

2. Mid August – This is my first choice despite the cost. This would be a trip to the Osaka, Japan area. During this time I could check out the summer Koshien, which is the biggest high school tournament of the year. While there watching the games, there is also a chance to see some professional ball in the Osaka area.

3. Late November – Again this will take place in Taiwan, but to me it seems to be a bit bigger. This would be the Asia Series. This is a series of games between the winners of the professional leagues in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Australia.

I am not sure which one I will pursue. Cost, time off, and other factors will have to be taken into consideration. I’ll be doing a lot of baseball travel around Korea, but I really want to get out and see some baseball in another country this year. This is a work in progress so we will have to wait and see where I can make it to.

Any thoughts on which one I should try to get to?

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Interview: UWF Argos Pitcher Philip Ebert


Recently I was able to have a chat with Philip Ebert, a pitcher with the #1 ranked West Florida Argonauts. Philip was an outfielder his first 3 years in school (1 was a red-shirt) and had now converted over to the pitching staff. Philip has been writing a popular blog throughout the season over at CBLineup.com and can be found tweeting about his time in college at @PhillyBert36.

I’d like to thank Philip for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions.

You were an outfielder the past two seasons. Why the switch to the mound this year?

-I actually have been an outfield at UWF for the past 3 seasons.  I was red-shirted my freshmen year.  After a year of a consistent slump all year at the plate, I knew that I needed to do something different. I made the decision to go to Coach Jeffcoat and talk to him about the idea of being a sidearm pitcher.  He was completely honest with me, and I knew what he was gonna say before he even said it… He told me realistically I wasn’t going to play for the next two years unless there was some type of injury.  We had a grad-assistant last year who was a senior when I was a freshmen, David Pedro, and he was a sidearm pitcher while at UWF.  I went to him and asked if he would teach me the basics and help me learn to pitch.  The main reason for the switch was that I wanted to help contribute to the team more on the field than being a cheerleader for two more years.  If it didn’t work out, I could hold my head up high knowing I tried everything I could.

Did you pitch any in high school?

-I actually never had pitched before last year… and I started pitching around the last month of the season.

Did you get a bigger rush in your first inning on the hill, or your first at bat in college?

-Definitely first inning on the hill!!  It was against Columbus State, and we were winning 24-12 or something and coach told me in the 8th to go get loose..  It was just great having all of my teammates that I endlessly support everyday to give back the same support to me.  My first at-bat I was a lot more nervous… On the mound I feel a lot more calm and feel like I can compete better than at the plate.  I will say though, one of the good things I did at the plate was a game winning hit that helped us make the conference tournament, and that was a great feeling.  Its two separate situations, but I like the control of being a pitcher and working on repeating something over and over and knowing I’m trying to throw a certain pitch and being able to execute it.

You are playing with the #1 team in the nation. What has it been like to be the one with the target on your backs this season with the #1 ranking?

-This is the 5th week we’ve been #1, and since we made it to the top the bulls-eye has been on us… We’ve gotten every teams best game, and none of them have come easy!  We know how it is, because we’ve played a #1 team before… Its just a different feeling being able to knock off the team that noticed as the BEST in the country.  People are trying to get their name on the map every game they play us, and it has forced us to be more competitive and keep our intensity up.

You have some guys on your team having some pretty special seasons both at the plate and on the mound. What has it been like seeing this on a daily basis?

-This team is very very close, and its always an interesting day when we all get together.  For me personally, being around a pitching staff with as much experience we have, and the ability we have, its been very helpful.  There are still things about pitching that are new to me and it helps having guys that have been out there doing it consistently to help.  From an offensive perspective, Greg Pron is having one of the most unbelievable year I have seen.  He’s very humble and a funny guy that brings 4 years of experience, and when he says something, people listen.  Practices are always competitive, because with the amount of depth we have, someone is always nipping at the starters heels.

You are writing a pretty popular blog over at cblineup.com. How did that start, and how has it been this season writing?

-When the website was previously PingBaseball I would always read the weekly blog about the DII week preview.  It was also one of the main ranking sources.  I’ve always been a good writer so I emailed College Baseball Lineup and told them I was interested in blogging for them.  I told them we had a good team with a lot of potential, and I wanted to help get the name West Florida Argonauts out to a national audience.  The writing has been fun… I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from parents and other supporters.  I always try to write each entry in a way so it would almost seem like I was talking to the reader face to face.  Its not meant to be a baseball weekly report, but just of the everyday life that a DII baseball player lives and especially coming from the eyes of a guy who doesn’t start and is working to find any way onto the field.

I loved your Senior Week video where some players insisted they didn’t speak English. Have your teammates given you any grief, or tried to influence you in any way about what you write?

-The videos have been fun to make, I usually bring out my Flip Camera once a week.. It was just something else that was going to be funny that I could add to the blog and YouTube to increase our exposure.  No one really influences me about what to write, but I do get some grief if I make a mistake during practice.. usually its something like “you should blog about that error” because of the weekly pitching updates I give in the blogs.

What are your plans for next season? Will you stay on the hill or will you move back to the field?

-I am a full time pitcher now for UWF… I gave up the bat when I went to coach last year!  I’ve gotten 2 innings this year, threw strikes, and I have all the confidence in the world right now.  I’m working hard everyday to find more consistency, but I’m LOVING pitching!!  I’m going to San Francisco to play summer ball where I intend to eat up a lot of innings and come back in the fall ready to compete!  I want to be the guy that the team wants out there to get a big out when we need it!

What are your plans for after graduation?

-I’m going to be graduating with a Dual Major in Elementary Education and Special Education.  Ideally, I would like to teach 4th or 5th grade.  I know I’m destined to coach baseball… Where?? I’m not sure.. I have so many baseball connections throughout the country that if I was offered a graduate position, I would probably take it and get my masters degree.  Realistically, I’m going to worry about finding a good teaching position, and coach high school.  Don’t be surprised if you see me coaching in the College World Series though… It’s been my dream to be a college coach at a big school.

I’d really like to thank Philip for taking the time to answer some questions for me. Currently the UWF Argos are getting ready for the NCAA Div II Regionals. As a former resident of the Pensacola area, and the son of a UWF Alum, I wish them well. I’ll be following them to see how they do from Korea, and you can to at GoArgos.com. And don’t forget to follow his blog at CBLineup.com.

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Baseball Weekend in Seoul


Friday night I headed up to Seoul for a baseball filled Saturday. I had met my friend Kihoon Jung via Twitter and Facebook about a year ago, but I never had the opportunity to meet him in person until this weekend. The plan was to see Kihoon play in 2 games with 2 different teams early in the morning. Then the two of us were going to head to Jamsil Baseball Stadium to see the Doosan Bears and Lotte Giants play.

Early Saturday morning we headed out to Kihoon’s first baseball game of the day. We left before 6am since the game started at 6:30. It had rained a bit the night before, but the rain had left by morning. It remained cool and cloudy, but turned out to be a good day for a game. It wasn’t that great for taking photos though with the low light. I had brought my camera to take some action photos of the guys playing.

Game 1 was a lot of fun. Kihoon was playing with his company team from Doosan, the Doozins. They had a pretty good team and were definitely better than their opposition from a bank. Soon it was evident that the game would not be close. I loved watching these guys play. You could see the love they had for the game, and everyone was very friendly to me as I took photos. Despite the low light, and my camera doesn’t do great with low light action shots, I felt I got a few good shots. Here are some photos of the guys playing hard and having fun.

Doozins Baseball

Kihoon Jung at bat for the Doozins

#22 "The Rocket" on the hill for the Doozins

Hitting the ball hard

The Doozins Baseball Team

Thanks to all the guys for making me feel right at home. Good luck the rest of the season.

Kihoon’s 2nd game got canceled. Too much rain fell the night before and the grounds were too wet to play. So we came up with alternative plans. After returning home, we went to a nearby middle school and played catch in the school yard. That was a lot of fun for me. I don’t get the chance to play catch often, so anytime I do get that chance I have to take it. Surprisingly my arm felt okay after throwing, and it felt good the next day as well.

We then decided to get cleaned up and head into town before the Doosan/Lotte game that night. We ventured around town a bit and I got to see some parts of Seoul that I hadn’t seen before which was nice. While walking around, Kihoon led us to some batting cages and we decided to take some swings. It was great. I love the batting cages here. They generally throw around 60-65 mph with the faster cages getting up to about 80 mph. I didn’t do too bad, but it was nice to get my first swings of the year. I have some cages nearby, but I have yet to venture over to them yet this year. I have to get over there soon and get in some more swings.

After a trip around town, we headed over to Jamsil Baseball Stadium for the Doosan Bears game against the Lotte Giants. Kihoon is originally from Busan, so he is a huge Giants fan. I had seen the Giants play in Busan last year, but I had never seen Doosan play before (they share Jamsil with the LG Twins). The two teams fans are some of the crazier and with a sold out game, it was going to be a great time. And it was.

The game turned out to be one of the best I have ever seen. Doosan jumped out early, but Lotte’s big bats soon bounced back to take a 6-3 lead. They pounded new Doosan starter Fernando Nieve in his first KBO start and ended his night early.  It was a back and forth game and got rough at the end cheering for the Giants. The Giants defense let them down late in the game. The shortstop made an error that led to an unearned run. Then up 1 late in the game, the Giants center fielders dove for a ball and just missed it. When the left fielder slipped backing up the play, the lead off batter wound up at 3rd with a triple. He soon scored to tie the game, and Doosan would eventually take a 7-6 lead into the 9th inning.

This is when it got interesting. The Bears didn’t immediately bring in their closer, and the Giants lead off hitter singled up the middle. Doosan then decided to bring in the closer to face the reigning triple crown winner Lee Dae-ho. Dae-ho is a beast. He had been beaned earlier in the game after driving one deep over the fence but foul. This at bat he kept it fair. He lined a home run over the left field fence for a 8-7 Giants lead in the top of the 9th. The crowd, half of who were Giants fans, went nuts. It was great. Why they decided to pitch to the biggest threat in the KBO I’ll never know, but I am glad they did.

The game was a thrilling one as the Giants came back and won the game, and I had an amazing time. I can’t wait to get back and see more baseball in Seoul, and I am really looking forward to getting back down to Busan to see more Giants games. They really do have the craziest fans, and I love it.

View from our seats in center field

The Giants version of a rally hat for fans?

Final Linescore

 

 

I had an amazing time in Seoul. Thanks to Kihoon for inviting me up to see some baseball.

 

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That’s the Way Baseball Go


When it comes to the Josh Hamilton situation, Rangers manager Ron Washington said it best when he said, “That’s the way baseball go.”

There have been a lot of people trying to put blame on Dave Anderson, and some have put the blame on Josh Hamilton. I am not here to pass blame on anyone, but in the end its Josh’s choice on whether to go or not.

It’s definitely not going to be easy for the Rangers in the next 6-8 weeks, but I feel that they are better equipped to deal with something like this than they ever have been.

Sure you can’t replace a bat and presence like Hamilton in the middle of the lineup, but through contributions from various players such as David Murphy, Michael Young, and others the Rangers will be okay. The best thing they have going for them is the division is rather weak.

So let’s get off pointing the finger at who is to blame for Josh’s broken arm. It was a simple case of dumb luck. If he scores and doesn’t get hurt, everyone is doing the claw. But that didn’t happen. Time to move on and keep playing ball. The game doesn’t wait for anyone, and every other team will have injuries as well.

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Goodbye Manny!


This past week Manny Ramirez retired from baseball. He did so not because he felt he could no longer help his team, but because he tested positive yet again for steroids or PEDs (performance enhancing drugs). He would have been the first player to test positive twice for PEDs, although Neifi Perez did test positive twice for amphetamines.

Manny Ramirez was one of the greatest hitters to come a long in a long time. But how much of his greatness is due to his steroid use? How long did he get away with it before he was caught? Those questions will probably never be answered because Manny, being Manny, took the coward way out of this by retiring. Manny won’t take his punishment (100 game suspension) and face the cameras. Instead he will run and hide and count all the money he got by defrauding the baseball world.

I for one am tired of Manny’s act. The circus he brought to the game is a tired act.  I gave up on Manny when he gave up on his teammates. There isn’t a bigger foul that a player can commit than quitting on your own team. I won’t miss him. I was a little saddened when Tampa Bay signed him. I like the Rays and they always seem to be fighting an uphill battle in the AL East. With a guy like Manny on their team, it was only 1 more battle to overcome.

So the only silver lining in all of this is Tampa Bay will be able to move on without further distractions from the Manny circus which you know was going to come sooner or later.

I don’t think he really even cared about it, but Manny will be yet another player with amazing stats that will never get into the Hall of Fame. And in this writer’s humble opinion, he doesn’t belong there.

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New Era (eFashion Solutions)

Quote of the Month

There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem - once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit. ~Al Gallagher, 1971

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