Monday, July 15, 2013

Cuban Invasion

How lucky were baseball fans tuning in to New York Citi Field Monday Night soaking in Hercules with a bat in his hand? How Lucky were baseball fans sitting in stands in the “Big Apple” with eyes wide open Monday night realizing a little team playing in the outskirts of  “The City by The Bay”, beyond the shadows of the Bay Bridge on the West Coast has Goliath hitting in the middle of their Roster? How lucky are Oakland Athletics fans privileged to watch such performances 82 times during the Season at every pre-game batting practice? What used to be a home town secret weapon has now burst on the national stage! Yoenis Cespedes will no longer be a head scratching sports trivia question beyond the East Bay corridors. Major League Sports fans in North America as well as borders stretching beyond our shores will no longer wonder who is Cespedes?

Thanks to Dave Ortiz, and Robinson Cano whom played games against Oakland Athletics’ Yoenis Cespedes, invited him to compete in the All Star Home Run Derby representing the American League. It was no surprise to Ortiz, or any beat writer covering the Oakland Athletics, that Cespedes teed off for a record crushing number of 17 home runs sprayed around Citi Field in the 1st Round! ESPN may have been slack-jawed… New York City may have peed their pants… Bryce Harper even perked up! The Center of the Baseball Universe finally witnessed what Oakland already knew for two years! The Athletics have a naturally Cuban grown, home fed basher on their hands.  17 dingers being hit at or beyond 400 feet? Yawn… Yep, he does that.  Can he chase down balls in the outfield? Sigh… Yup! All over that.  Can he legitimately be the next to be a 40/40 man? (40 home runs, 40 stolen bases in a Season) According to Yoenis,  contested earlier this year, “Yes”.

Congratulations to Yoenis Cespedes winning his first Major League Baseball All Star Home Run Derby! I look forward to future adulation definitely coming in for not only Yoenis Cespedes, but his amazing cardiac pumping team, The Oakland Athletics! Oakland may have not had the lights on at the Coliseum tonight, the lights shined bright upon Oakland Athletics Fans in the Big Apple! Celebrate!
Although I truly desire a reel of back to back shots of Cespedes dingers (Obviously has not been edited this fast), I can offer up a highlight reel of the contest and some confirming shots of why Cespedes persevered! Enjoy:

Sunday, July 14, 2013

It's a No-No!

Congrats Tim Lincecum! The San Francisco Giants Ace becomes the 15th pitcher in Franchise history to throw a no-hitter! Going in to last night’s game, the 29-year-old 5’11” phenom was a shadow of his known pitching prowess with a 4-9 losing record and an ERA that has blown up closer to 5.0, than 4.0 (floating back and forth between 4.6 and 4.9). The ‘David’ figure of the San Francisco Giants pitching staff has won 2 Cy Young Awards, and was assumed by fans and sports analysts to have a higher statistical chance of pitching a No-Hit wonder well before former teammate Johnny Sanchez, or fellow “Horse” Starter, Matt Cain (who threw a Perfect Game last year at AT&T Park, 1st in Franchise history).  Many have speculated Tim may be going through adjustment challenges, realizing he no longer has his fast ball, or deceiving moving slider to lean back on that gave him early success against opposing batters.  Last night’s No Hitter was the best confidence booster a pitcher can experience to encourage future outings, and an ultimate performance confirmation that his ‘stuff’ is legit! Tim’s outing was perfect timing to quiet critics openly divulging Lincecum's days as an effective ‘Ace’ starting pitcher were behind him. With a diminishing fastball dipping downward to a maximum velocity of 89, 90 miles per hour on average, Lincecum realized he needed to add a variety of pitches (curve ball, change up, splitter), along with consistent placement across the plate, in order to retain success in a Major League starting rotation. Thanks to a Hall of Fame caliber pitching Coach in Dave Righetti, and an MVP Catcher wiser than his years Buster Posey, pumped "The Freak" with a pitch selection they knew he could serve up effectively. Now that Lincecum has the performance to confirm his ability... Warning: tread lightly dear Goliaths… The Freak may have been rattled and rising once more.

A No-No, is a No-No.... Regardless of the MLB team on the receiving end. I do believe San Francisco may have San Diego's number, though. This is the 2nd No hitter thrown against the Padres in 4 years! Slingin' Johnny Sanchez threw one at AT&T Park versus San Diego July 12, 2009. Crazier statistic is Tim being the losing pitcher when a No-No was thrown by Cincinnati's Reds Pitcher Homer Bailey against San Francisco. Two weeks later... San Francisco Giants fans were blessed at a near perfect performance by the 2-time Cy Young recipient. This is a Season changing moment San Francisco needs. As I stated in a tweet when San Francisco beat San Diego on Friday night, "Padres couldn't have appeared at a better time on San Francisco’s 162 game Schedule!" I look forward to seeing what "The Freak" and the Giants can bring for the 68 game stretch in the 2nd half! San Francisco has potential and proven tools to climb back in the NL West race!

Enjoy this amazing moment between players and coaches of a team that obviously admires and respects one another, as well as  proud of everyone’s contributions and achievements! (Watch the video)

The ‘Puig’ Effect

If you’re any level of a baseball fan, and have not heard of  Yasiel Puig, you’re either on a research sabbatical in the Antarctic, or literally living under a rock.  In 30 days, Puig has not only revitalized San Francisco’s number one nemesis (Damn Dirty Dodgers!), he may be single handedly changing the future landscape of baseball.  In 30 days, this  Cuban Rookie has single-handedly increased MLB’s dropping fan base and interest with heart stopping offensive prowess and gutsy outfield grabs filling up highlight reels across North America.  In  30 days,  this twenty-something Cuban has wracked up 8 home runs,  19 RBIs, a .467 on base percentage, and a .407 batting average. He wracked up 27 hits in his first 18 games. MLB hasn’t seen such numbers since the likes of Joe DiMaggio when he made his New York Yankees debut. Puig had a .313 Batting average, and 37 RBIs within 40 games in AA Baseball with Los Angeles Dodgers Chattanooga Club.  Puig was batting .526 in Spring Training, and was assumed he would make the 25 man roster with the Dodgers Breaking North at the end of March.  More important, he is revitalizing interest in baseball with young  American male athletes not seen in decades.
Although I am a staunch Dodger hater (yes… I said that word), I cannot deny greatness. I cannot deny an athlete that has sparked new life back into a Rivalry that has survived over a Century and moves by both franchises turning the frigid Atlantic Coastline in for the warmer Golden Shores of the Pacific Ocean off California.  Yasiel Puig is a smashing All Star. Yes, I said “All Star”.  NL All Star Manager Bruce Bochy was smart to place Puig on the popular ballot to be the last All Star placed on the National League squad voted by the public. Unfortunately, I feel a biased journalism, and broadcast sports analysts campaign literally smeared any chance of him being voted in. There was significant back lash from baseball purists stating “Puig hasn’t earned” it as a player to be considered an All Star. In my humble opinion, I have to disagree.   How can you say he hasn’t earned it? He’s worked majority of his life in Cuba becoming one of the most promising Cuban prospects by 2010.  He has statistics that leap off the page regardless of the team roster Puig filled in Cuba, or MLB’s minor leagues.

All Star to me, means outstanding performance among your peers where a player in his position statistically outshines the competition holding the same position. Of  course, we all know having fans  cast votes of the starters who make up each opposing roster, it can become somewhat of a ‘popularity’ contest, versus actual All Star performances.  I mean, Derek Jeter has just come back from injury this past week, and I believe was voted in as the AL Short Stop.  Luckily, the AL manager will substitute a performing “All Star” for Jeter, who has returned to the injury list.  Yasiel Puig is an All Star. He has paid dues through the Cuban Leagues,  International appearances, the minor leagues, and finally has shown MLB fans what we have been missing since the days of Willy Mays.   The NL ballot broke voting records between Yasiel Puig and Atlanta Braves (who made the team by 3 million votes, which sound like a lot, but actually close margin when you look at the total votes cast for both players) Freddie Freeman. Freeman won 19 million votes to Puig’s 16 million.  More votes were cast between those two players (35 million between the two) than majority votes cast for the NL Roster! Don’t get me wrong, I love Hunter Pence, but I cast my alloted votes to see Puig. Pence’s numbers have significantly slacked off, while Puig’s were rising.  Like the masses quietly appreciated Barry Bonds while spewing Boos at his dominating performance, I look forward to admiring (while booing what he does against my San Francisco Giants) Yasiel Puig finally earning his All Star status he obviously deserves.

What is your take? Here is an interesting article entertaining the debate even further: