El mes de agosto esta en los libros de historia y ahora es que comienzan a separarse los hombres de los niños.Es tiempo de victoria tras victoria en ruta a las series de post-temporada y arribar hasta el Clásico de Octubre.
Al momento de escribir estas lineas ni en la Liga Nacional ni en la Americana hay un claro favorito. El diferencial entre los equipos que están en el tope de cada división matemáticamente es mínimo y puede ocurrir cualquier sorpresa.
En el circuito americano aunque los Yankees de Nueva York, Tigres de Detroit y los Angelinos de Los Angeles están arriba en sus respectivas divisiones todos tienen conjuntos detrás de ellos hambrientos por desplazarlos.
Hay un viejo dicho en el béisbol que la pelota es redonda y viene en caja cuadrada y cualquier cosa puede suceder en el mes de septiembre.
En la Americana en el Este, los Bombarderos del Bronx tienen a sus eternos rivales Medias Rojas de Boston y los inspirados Rays de Tampa Bay tocando puertas muy cercános a ellos. En la Central, los felinos de la ciudad automotriz tienen en su cola a los Mellizos de Minnesota y nadie descarte todavia al siempre agresivo Ozzie Guillén y sus Medias Blancas de Chicago. En el Oeste los Angelitos no se pueden desconfiar en ningún momento porque tienen a los aguerridos Rancheros de Texas no muy lejos de ellos.
En la Nacional en el Este, los campeones mundiales Phillies de Philadelphia deben regresar al gran baile de post-temporada pero mucho ojo con los Marlins de Florida y los Bravos de Atlanta. Los Cardenales de San Luis han jugado gran pelota todo el año en su banderín de la central pero deben tener muy cuidado con un despertar a última hora de los Cachorros de Chicago.
También muy buen béisbol han jugado a través de toda la campaña los Dodgers de Los Angeles pero no se pueden dejar caer en la tabla de posiciones. En su gallardete del oeste los Rockies de Colorado y los Gigantes de San Francisco andan demostrando que tienen conjuntos dignos de post-temporada y así de bien están jugando a este momento.
Para llegar hasta la post-temporada siempre todos los equipos cuentan con jugadores claves y a mi entender estos son los jugadores latinoamericanos que pueden hacer la diferencia para sus conjuntos en búsqueda del deseado campeonato mundial.
New York Yankees: 3B-Alex Rodriguez; P-Mariano Rivera; 2B-Robinson Cano; C-Jorge Posada
Boston Red Sox: 3B-Mike Lowell
Tampa Bay Rays: 1B-Carlos Peña
Detroit Tigers: 1B-Miguel Cabrera; OF-Magglio Ordoñez
Minnesota Twins: SS-Orlando Cabrera
Chicago White Sox: Dirigente-Ozzie Guillen; 2B Alexei Ramírez
Los Angeles Angels: OF-Vladimir Guerrero; 1B Kendry Morales; OF-Bobby Abreu
Texas Rangers: P-Neftali Perez; C-Ivan Rodriguez; SS-Omar Vizquel
Philadelphia Phillies: 3B-Pedro Feliz; C-Carlos Ruiz
Florida Marlins: SS-Hanley Ramirez; 3B-Jorge Cantu
Atlanta Braves: SS-Yunel Escobar; P-Javier Vazquez
St.Louis Cardinals: 1B-Albert Pujols; C-Yadier Molina
Chicago Cubs-3B-Aramis Ramírez
Los Angeles Dodgers: OF-Manny Ramirez; SS-Rafael Furcal
Colorado Rockies : P-Ubaldo Jimenez; P-Jorge de la Rosa
San Francisco Giants: C-Bengie Molina; 3B-Pablo Sandoval
Since 1929 when the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians were the first major league clubs to wear uniform numbers, players have been marked forever by their jersey numbers.
In Yankee Stadium at Monument Park you can see all the famous numbers that have been immortalize by such names as Billy Martin, Babe Ruth, JoeDiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Don Mattingly and Reggie Jackson.
The most famous no. 8 ever in Baltimore Orioles history was Cal Ripken. In Boston the most notable no. 9 ever was Ted Williams. No fan in Philly have forgotten that no. 20 was property of Mike Schmidt.
In Pittsburgh never has been forgotten the no. 8 Willie Stargell and number 21 Roberto Clemente.
Every franchise has its own history. Every fan is loyal to their favorite player’s number. When I pitched in the little leagues I was no. 30 in honor of Nolan Ryan. When my pitching young days were over my jersey number was no. 8 in honor of Dickie Thon.
This is my list of numbers that have been immortalize by latinos in Major League Baseball history:
3-Alex Rodriguez (Seattle Mariners-Texas Rangers))
11-Luis Aparicio, Edgar Martinez, George Bell
13-Alex Rodriguez (New York Yankees), Dave Concepcion, Omar Vizquel
18-Moises Alou, Omar Moreno
19-Juan Gonzalez, Bert Campaneris
20- Jorge Posada
21-Roberto Clemente, Sammy Sosa, Ruben Sierra, Carlos Delgado (New York Mets)
24-Tany Perez, Manny Ramirez, Miguel Cabrera
25-Jose Cruz, Rafael Palmeiro, Mike Lowell, Carlos Delgado (Toronto Blue Jays)
27-Juan Marichal, Vladimir Guerrero
30-Orlando Cepeda, Dennis Martinez, Magglio Ordoñez
34-David Ortiz, Fernando Valenzuela
45-Pedro Martínez, Carlos Lee. John Candelaria
46-Tony Armas Sr.
ESPN is celebrating 20 years of covering Major League Baseball and the network asked fans to vote for their all-time team of the last 20 seasons.
At this moment, fans are being asked to pick the winners for each position.
Not surprisingly, winning names in this national poll have been Edgar Martinez as the top DH, Albert Pujols top first baseman, Ivan Rodriguez as top catcher, and Mariano Rivera as the top closer in the last 20 years.
All players from Latin America.
For the last 23 years I have been covering the Major League Baseball beat of the Puerto Rican and Latin American players, and over that time I have seen a bunch of great players.
I’ve also seen how appealing they are to their fans. I have seen how hall-of-famers Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, Tany Perez, Luis Aparicio, Rod Carew, and Juan Marichal are perceived as never-gone heroes in the respective towns they played in in their hey-days.
Nowadays players like Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Manny Ramirez, Johan Santana and many others are closely watched and being regarded as the No. 1 players of their respective franchises.
Quite different to ESPN’ SportsNation Poll, I will share whom I believe are the best Latino players the last 20 years. Most possibly readers will have have a different opinion, but this is my own Latino All-Star team.
Catchers-Santos Alomar Jr., Javier López, Jorge Posada, Iván Rodríguez, Benito Santiago
First Base-Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Delgado, Andrés Galarraga, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols
Second Base-Roberto Alomar, Carlos Baerga, Julio Franco
Third Base-Vinny Castilla, Mike Lowell, Alex Rodríguez
Shortstop-Hanley Ramirez, José Reyes, Miguel Tejada, Omar Vizquel
Outfielders-Bobby Abreu, Carlos Beltran, José Canseco, Juan González, Vladimir Guerrero, Magglio Ordoñez, Sammy Sosa, Bernie Williams
Pitchers-Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana
Closers-Mariano Rivera, Francisco Rodriguez
Designated Hitter-Edgar Martinez, David Ortiz
The All-Star Game is almost here and the 2009 season have reached its historically midway point of its schedule, making the perfect moment for this year Midseason Awards.
Disregard the predictions written back in April. Both The Sporting News and Sports Illustrated had the Yankees, Twins, Angels and Red Sox making October . Both publications went Phillies, Cubs, Dodgers and Mets in the National League.
Honestly, not bad at all. Except in both Central Division, the Tigers and the Cardinals at the moment are changing the spring prognosis. Also, the Angels have to be careful with the surprising Rangers in the American League West. Moreover, in the National League wild-card race unless the Mets get a miracle as the famous New York expression “Forget About It!”. At the moment the Giants, Marlins and Brewers look best for the coveted prize in the old circuit.
I will not give any forecasts. After all, who said back in 2007 the Colorado Rockies would make it to the World Series. Nobody crystal ball predicted the Phillies and the Rays last season in the October Classic.
Let’s have fun. Here are my midseason award winners:
Best Team: Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees (tie)
Surprise Team: Texas Rangers
Disappointing Team: Cleveland Indians
Best Latino Player: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Best Latino Pitcher: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
Best Latino Rookie: Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers
Best Boricua: Mike Lowell, Boston Red Sox
Best Latino Surprise Player: Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers
Dissapointment Latino Player: Magglio Ordoñez, Detroit Tigers
Forget About Him!: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
Best Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Surprise Team: San Francisco Giants
Disappointing Team: Chicago Cubs
Best Latino Player: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
Best Latino Pitcher: Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers
Best Latino Rookie: Omir Santos, New York Mets
Best Boricua: Carlos Beltrán, New York Mets
Best Latino Surprise Player: Joel Piñeiro, St. Louis Cardinals
Dissapointment Latino Player: Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs
Forget About Him!: Manny Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers
My Midseason Latino All-Star Team:
C Victor Martinez (Indians); 1B Albert Pujols (Cardinals); 2B Robinson Cano (Yankees); 3B Mike Lowell (Boston); SS Hanley Ramirez(Marlins); OF Carlos Beltran (Mets); Carlos Lee (Astros); Juan Rivera (Angels); P Felix Hernandez (Mariners); PR Mariano Rivera (Yankees).
This column was also published by The Puerto Rico Daily Sun / MLB Notebook
This upcoming 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, Yadier Molina will be the lone boricua shining with the best of the best .
There is no doubt, the younger of the Molina brothers deserved the accolade from the fans to be the starting catcher in the National League lineup. Not because the fans wanted to award him with his first All-Star experience playing at home. The 2009 All-Star Game will be played at Busch Stadium in his Cardinal nest in St. Louis on July 14. Neither a gift because he will be celebrating his 27th birthday the night before the big mid-summer classic game.
Yadier is validating he is the best defensive catcher in the National League. At midway point of this season he has thrown out 44 percent of would-be basestealers and picked off four baserunners as well. He’s second in the league in innings caught. Numbers that are in pace to help him win his second career Gold Glove Award.
Do not misremember either his batting. The Bayamon native is hitting for a .284 average with 5 homers and 28 RBI’s.
Of course, we can not forget that Carlos Beltran was also selected to be a starter outfielder in the National League. However, the Manati native at present is receiving a second treatment in his ailing right knee and would be re-evaluated during the All-Star break.
At this moment, the New York Mets have informed if doctors cleared him, he could resume baseball-related activates, like hitting and running after the All-Star Game break. For now, he is exercising on a bike and in a pool. Beltran publicly have acknowledged he does not have a timetable how long it would take to return to the Mets.
For the rest, after 85 games, I keep asking que pasa boricua ? Besides Molina and Beltran whom this season deserve to be an All-Star. Possibly in the National League older Yadier’s brother Bengie and in the American League Mike Lowell before getting re-injured again with hip problems. That’s it !
No longer are the hey-days of full of boricuas All-Star Games. See the accompanied chart below this decade. Make your own conclusions. I know we can do better again. Hopefully soon.
Puerto Ricans in All-Star Games (2001-2009)
2001 (Seattle): Roberto Alomar, Juan González, Edgar Martínez, Jorge Posada, Iván Rodríguez, Bernie Williams
2002 (Milwaukee): José Hernández, Mike Lowell, Jorge Posada, Benito Santiago, José Vidró
2003 (Chicago): Carlos Delgado, Javier López, Mike Lowell, Edgar Martínez, Jorge Posada, Jose Vidró
2004 (Houston): Carlos Beltrán, Mike Lowell, Iván Rodríguez, Javier Vázquez
2005 (Detroit): Carlos Beltrán, Felipe López, Iván Rodríguez
2006 (Pittsburgh): Carlos Beltrán, Alexis Rios, Iván Rodríguez
2007 (San Francisco): Carlos Beltrán, Mike Lowell, Jorge Posada, Alexis Rios, Iván Rodríguez
2008 (New York): Geovany Soto
2009 (St. Louis): Yadier Molina
This column was published by The Puerto Rico Daily Sun / MLB Notebook
For the first time this season Mike Lowell is accepting a break. Not because he is pulling one of those Alex Rodriguez ‘fatigue’ stories as the ‘A-Rod’ did when the Yankees came to Miami. Lowell’ hip had grown stiff and sore lately and his Manager Terry Francona have offer him to take longer breaks. Not good news for the Puerto Rican four-time All-Star.
Let’s remember this season is one he does not want to finish hurt. Lowell pointed us out back during spring training that he very well know he needs a healthy season and finish with good numbers.
He really wants to demostrate Boston’ management he can still play and would like to be a Red Sox longer than his signed contract through 2010.
“This season is very important to me. I love Boston and I want to stay here. If not I play in Mars along their is big league baseball. After all I’m a major leaguer,” Lowell said.
For the veteran Gold-Glove third baseman, up until few weeks ago it look his numbers were amazing hitting over .300 and taking him to the path for a run for American League Comeback Player of the Year. Some Boston media were even talking All-Star Game in St. Louis. However, the last two weeks his hitting has gone down faster than the Titanic. At this moment he’s hitting .281, 10 homers with 41 RBI’s.
According to Lowell, 35, the pain is not constant but some days his hip would feel “locked up”.
For Red Sox Nation fans this is not good news either. Specially right now that they are in command of their East Division pennant. Nonetheless, they have not forgotten that it could be déjà vu all over again as last season.
Last year Lowell went down as they were fighting the surprising Tampa Bay Rays. For most of the 2008 campaign he was hurt to the point he was left off from the Red Sox roster for the American League Championship Series. And in October 20th he decided on to go to surgery for a torn labrum in his right hip with well catalogued Dr. Bryan Kelly in New York.
Remember the Rays won and were the one with the ticket to the World Series. And this year the Red Sox besides the Rays they also have the Yankees and the Blue Jays in their back very close too.
At this moment the Red Sox are planning to put Lowell on a maintenance program starting next week up to the All-Star break where he’ll receive at least one day off a week and receive occasional lubricating injections to ease the friction in the cartilage in hip and they want to make sure he’s rested accordingly. After the All-Star Game they will check on Lowell’s progress.
The Red Sox acknowledge that they need a healthy Lowell to win it all again. In the other hand, Lowell wants to be healthy enough to go back to a post-season and who knows if he can repeat again his 2007 World Series MVP performance. And of course, stay as a Red Sox.
Last Minute Note: Lowell probably will not play this weekend against the Atlanta Braves according to various reports.
This column was also published by The Puerto Rico Daily Sun / MLB Notebook
Two months of the 2009 Major League Baseball season are in the books and the first phrase that comes to my mind is the much famous local enquiry que pasa boricua ?
Over 50 games have been played and it is very difficult to find much names of our local stars in the top of the hitting and pitching statistics charts. By now it is well known that golden years of such past as future hall of famers Roberto Alomar and Edgar Martínez and others such as Bernie Williams, Juan González, Rubén Sierra, Sandy Alomar Jr.,Javier López and many others are all gone however we ponder sometimes what’s happening with the current crop.
It is very feasible we are concern with the health of Carlos Delgado and when he will come back to play with the New York Mets or as many are following very closely Ivan Rodriguez probable last ride in the Majors with the Houston Astros. It is very genuine they have a huge army of baseball fans watching them day to day but we much need as a pueblo a little more than nostalgia. We also want to see our ballplayers be hot.
If we were going to call this date this season Puerto Rico’s MVP in the Majors it should be Carlos Beltrán. The New York Met outfielder is top among the best hitters in the National League and among the best in other three offensive categories. His over .340 average constant pace have kept him at the top among the first five batters in the old circuit with fellow latino Albert Pujols and Miguel Tejada in his tail.
If the Manati native continues his hitting stride there is a good chance it can be seen the first Puerto Rican to win a batting title in the Majors since 1998. That year Yankees’ Bernie Williams hit .339 to win the American League batting crown. Before him was Edgar Martinez with the Seattle Mariners who won the batting champion crowns in 1992 and 1995. The last boricua to win it in the National League was the late Roberto Clemente with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1967. His last of four batting titles.
In the National League other only fellow natives that truly are standing out at this moment of time are D’ Backs second baseman Felipe Lopez and brothers Bengie and Yadier Molina of the Giants and Cardinals respectively.
In the American League no boricua is among the top ten in any offensive category however the leader of the pack exceeding many of the expectations that were written for him this season is Mike Lowell. Many in Boston were not completely sure if he was going to be fully recover from his medical procedure from last season. Lowell missed post-season action and underwent arthroscopic surgery last October 20 to repair his right hip which was said at the time to be a complete success.
At this moment, the Red Sox third baseman is hitting so well for average and power and playing again as a gold glover that he is a strong candidate for American League Comeback Player of the Year. Other islander that is starting to wake up offensively lately is Blue Jays’ Alexis Rios.
Among hurlers, best news so far among leaders in the National League are Javier Vazquez (Atlanta Braves), Kiko Calero (Florida Marlins) and Pedro Feliciano (New York Mets). Let’s keep a watch on Joel Piñeiro that if he continues his course could be a strong candidate for National League Comeback Player of the Year.
This column was also published by The Puerto Rico Daily Sun / MLB Commentary