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MLB Weekend Matchups: New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays

To kick-off the second-half of the baseball season the New York Yankees will play host to the Tampa Bay Rays.

It’s number one vs. number two team of not only the AL East, but across the MLB.

Entering the All-Star break the Yankees lead the Rays by two games, but this series will be watched because it sets a tone for which team is better. It’s a great reality check for the Rays to show their stuff, as this battle might go down to the wire.

Pitching will dictate the series, so let’s break down the two AL East Rival weekend match-ups:

CC Sabathia vs. James Shields

Sabathia has won his last eight starts, pitching a minimum of seven innings and a 2.37 ERA. Sabathia has 12 wins this season and at the break was the best pitcher in the AL. Sabathia is historically better in the second-half, so expect big things for the ace.

Sabathia will face James Shields who has not had the best first-half with a 7-9 record and an ERA of 4.20. Shields has 109 strike-outs and issued only 26 walks. That makes for a great strike-outs to walks ratio, which shows the youngster has the stuff to be much better.

Winner: CC SABATHIA has the advantage as everything from velocity to location is working great. The Yankee bats cannot go silent, as Yankees middle relievers tend to give up runs.

AJ Burnett vs. Jeff Niemann

Burnett is 7-7 with a 4.75 ERA so far, but it is no secret that is just fresh off his worst down period in his career. Burnett has to continue using his change-up more because it wins. Last time Burnett faced the Rays was not pretty, but it’s a waiting game to see what Burnett we will get. Continue reading ‘MLB Weekend Matchups: New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays’ »

The Boss Says Goodbye

As most baseball fans know already, New York Yankees owner died this morning at 6:30am in Tampa, Florida. Mr. Steinbrenner was 80 years old.

The Boss was one of my idols. Many disagree with me because of his winning-only motto and demanding ways.

Find me someone who does not want to win? I know I sure do.

Winning is demanding, in any aspect of life because if it was easy it would not define people as much as it does.

Mr. Steinbrenner was the architect for free agency that changed the future of not only baseball, but of sports forever.

Not only was he the Boss of the Yankees, but he was beyond generous to the less fortunate. The Boss would beat you to the punch by asking, “What do you need?” Just fly down to Tampa, FL and ask anyone what he has done for the city.

Being able to make fun of yourself is what defines an extraordinary man, this makes a man authentic and enables people to relate. This was signature of the Boss.

It makes his passing so surreal on the day of the All-Star Game, as George Steinbrenner was an All-Star of sports and he will be sorely missed by all of New York City and especially his Yankee fans.

MLB’s Half-Time Who’s Hot And Who’s Not Part Two

Let’s continue with summing up the wild first-half of the MLB season, by looking at the National League.

One thing is for sure, the NL is no longer “the other” league in baseball. The NL is providing plenty of drama and talent to compete with their AL counterparts.

NL EAST:

The hottest team in the NL is the first place Atlanta Braves. Braves fans finally have something to cheer about. After a sluggish start to 2010, the Braves have been on fire once everything started to click. Rookie sensation, Jason Heyward who was voted an All-Star but due to a deep bruised thumb will not participate. Thus far, the 20-year old Heyward has 13 doubles, three triples, 11 home-runs, 45 RBIs, 42 walks and five stolen bases. The Braves strong pitching staff lead by Time Hudson has made this team a real force.

Coming in second are the New York Mets, who are four games. Right on the Mets heels are the 2008 and 2009 NLCS champion Philadelphia Phillies who are just a half-game. Mets David Wright is back on his game again, but Mets fans are starting to believe again. Jose Reyes and the nifty Angel Pagan make-up a solid line-up. It’s the pitching that will dictate their future.

Hopefully, the Mets won’t give-up and pout if the Phillies squeak past them down the stretch. It would not be the first time, so the Mets have to mentally stay strong.

The Phillies, like the Red Sox are injured all-around. The Phillies are getting their stride back as of late, so don’t be dumb and count them out. The 2009 Yankees were exactly where the Phillies are now, not in first but getting momentum from all the walk-off wins.

The Marlins (10 back) and Nationals (13.5 back) have fallen to the back of the pack. Still both ball-clubs have bright futures, the Marlins have young ace Josh Johnson and hard-hitting and headed Hanley Ramirez. The Nats have prodigy pitcher Steven Strasburg. Strasburg is on a 110 innings limit for good reason and already has the hottest selling jersey in all of MLB.

NL CENTRAL:

The Cincinnati Reds are the real deal. Featuring a deep line-up with the newly awakened Scott Rolen, Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Drew Stubs and Jay Bruce. They have a arsenal of talent arms, as Travis Wood almost threw a perfect game against the Phillies just last week. Continue reading ‘MLB’s Half-Time Who’s Hot And Who’s Not Part Two’ »

MLB’s Half-Time Who’s Hot And Who’s Not

The All-Star break is upon us, which means half the MLB season is over.

Still, there is a lot of baseball to play and the second half looks to be even more drama-filled than ever.

Division races are no longer an AL East only feature, as each division is still up for grabs. It looks to be a second-half for the books and baseball fans should be elated.

Let’s look how each division at the halfway point, starting with the American League:

AL EAST:

The New York Yankees have the best record in baseball for the first time since 2004. The Yankees know that means nothing when you share the division with the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox. The Yankees are not just getting by anymore, they are playing really well just earlier than normal. Tex and Arod are on fire which is plain out lethal.

The young and talented Rays are only two games behind the Yankees. The Rays will visit the Bronx immediately following the All-Star break. It doesn’t get easier with series against the Twins, Tigers and Yankees again, with the O’s and Indians somewhere in between. This will be a telling test for the Rays.

The Red Sox are hurting, literally hanging just five games off New York’s pace. Pedoria, Ellsbury, Martinez, Bucholtz and Beckett to name just five of the 11 active players on the DL, a team’s worst nightmare. No pity party for the Red Sox is needed as this team’s experience will keep them in the running, so don’t think it’s over in Boston ever.

Toronto Blue Jays are falling fast after a nice start, again.

Do I even need to mention the Baltimore Orioles? Camedon Yard is a sad place and the O’s are on pace to post the worst record in franchise history. The O’s are improving ending the half with a sweep, so as usual the O’s will cause a headache in the division, as usual. Continue reading ‘MLB’s Half-Time Who’s Hot And Who’s Not’ »

Lady Loves Pinstripes Presents: Cliff Lee “The Trade”

A Kings Crown.

A Kings Crown.

ESPN was almost unwatchable because plugging “The Decision” starring Lebron James was on 24/7.

Lebron is no Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter or Kobe Bryant professionally. He may never be considering he nicknamed himself ‘King James’ in high school.

Lebron, the brand was something the NBA desperately needed after there were no Jordans’, Birds’, Clydes’ or Magics’ left. Still, he lacked grace on the court and made me think maybe Jordan took ballet classes or something.

The problem or difference with Lebron is he thinks he is king, but of what himself?

Any pro-athlete that can’t shake hands after a loss in the playoffs, or follow up with the media who helped them get fame needs a reality check. That sends a message that Lebron is bigger than basketball.

Post-airing of “The Decision” the self-proclaimed King James did prove he is the most entitled athlete without a title. Continue reading ‘Lady Loves Pinstripes Presents: Cliff Lee “The Trade”’ »

New York Yankees Sweep A’s But Double Trouble In Seattle

The New York Yankees brought their brooms out West, as the Bombers easily swept the Oakland Athletics for three-games. Pitching set the tome, as Javy, AJ and Sabathia all were phenomenal in their starts.

The timing could not be better as the Yankees head to Seattle for four-games against the Mariners.

In case Yankee fans forgot on purpose, the Mariners were just in the Bronx a week ago. Trust me, never facing the Mariners one-two knockout of Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez ever again would have been fine with me.

Lee and King Felix totally massacred the Yankee bats last week. It was not pretty, or fun for Yankee fans to watch because it was that scary.

For a group who can’t score runs, the Mariners have certainly found the perfect solution. Putting Lee and the King on the mound is a guaranteed relief for the Mariner bats.

This makes today’s game a must win for the Yankees because double trouble starts are slated for Friday and Saturday’s games.

The Yankees best pitcher in these situations is on the mound tonight. Do I even need to type the name Andy Pettitte? Continue reading ‘New York Yankees Sweep A’s But Double Trouble In Seattle’ »