Ubal-NO 04/18/2010Posted by sportretort in mlb, Sports.
Tags: atlanta braves, colorado rockies, mlb, mlb baseball, no hitter, ubaldo jimenez
add a comment Like most things human, the game pitched by Colorado Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez was far from perfect. Still, it was a masterpiece. Jimenez’s gem was only the 264th no-hitter in MLB history. 264 sounds like a lot. No big deal, really, untill you realize that there have been over 190,000 games played in MLB history.
Complain all you want about the 6 walks allowed, as if that somehow diminishes the accomplishment. Sure, the control was not there at the beginning. Still, this 26-year-old did something most pictures never do. Not one batter reached base safely via a batted ball. None. Nada. Center fielder Dexter Fowler made a tremendous catch in the 7th inning to save the feat. We have all seen that catch on highlight shows many times by now. If you didn’t actually watch the game, you may not know that Fowler also made a merely spectacular catch in the same inning. That will not diminish the feat. Almost all no-hitters have a key play or two that define the event. What many do not talk about is how Jimenez contributed to the game offensively. In the 4th inning, he came to the plate with two outs and two runners on. The Rockies were leading 1-0 at the time. He singled to center, driving in a run and advancing Ian Stewart from first to third, then took 2nd on the throw. That heads up base running play allowed him to score on Carlos Gonzalez’s double Instead of a 1-0 lead had he made an out, the Rockies finished the 4th, and the game for that matter, with a 4-0 lead. This game showed the ability of Jimenez.The thing is that the no-hitter came as no surprise to his teammates. Jimenez played a big role late in the 2007 season as the Rockies went on their mad run to the World Series. He won 15 games last season. To a man last night, including Manager Jim Tracey and long time Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, two old vets that are hard to impress, the Rockies talked about how they knew it would happen sooner or later for this guy. Some have been saying it since ’07. He has crazy good stuff. He consistently goes deep into games. He was in the top 5 in innings and pitches thrown in the NL last season. He makes it look effortless. In fact, his fastball was constantly hitting the speed gun at over 95 mph all night. The final pitch he threw was clocked at 98 mph. It was his 128th pitch of the evening! His teammates say he is a great guy. A real class act. One of the hardest workers on the team. As if to prove the point, did this guy rest on a job well done? Nope. There he was early Sunday morning, finishing his 6 mile run, just like he does after every start.
Congrats, Ubaldo! Keep that work ethic and this highlight is just a beginning for you. One thing is for sure. Ubaldo Jimenez is no longer one of the best pitchers that no one has heard of.
Integrity 01/12/2010Posted by sportretort in Sports.
Tags: baseball writers, Hall of Fame, mark mcgwire, mlb, mlb baseball, steroids, tony larussa
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Mark McGwire used steroids! Wow! What a shocker! As news, this revelation ranks right up there with the news flash that the sun sets in the west.
Let me state from the onset that this post is not about McGwire getting in to the Hall of Fame. If he gets in, fine. If not, fine. I have no feeling either way on the McGwire Hall candidacy.
Sure, I understand that for years McGwire has danced around the steroid issue. He repeatedly told congress when asked about his usage in a 2005 hearing that he was
there to talk about the future, not the past. But the innuendo had chased him from the game. You knew that when St Louis Cardinal manager Tony Larussa hired McGwire as the Card’s hitting coach during the off-season that this day had to come. Larussa wanted to bring his former (and some say fallen) star back to the game that he loved and that had defined him for most of his adult life. Larussa had to know that this would ultimately force McGwire to go public with his past. For his part, Larussa says that he did not know that McGwire had used steroids until he received a call from McGwire the morning of January 11, 2010. All Larussa knew was that the Cardinals ran a clean strength and conditioning program. Larussa also knows all the revelations that have come out from that era. Larussa ‘knew’ about McGwire, but he never asked the question, therefore he did not know. Baseball ‘knew’ about steroids, but turned a blind eye and counted up riches beyound belief. Heck even the fans ‘knew.’ Apparently the only people who did not know were the writers who watched players double and triple their home run output along with their size. These writers kept their head in the sand, or turned a blind eye to what was happening, and now talk about how we all were fooled or cheated. They were either incredibly obtuse, or were complicit to behavior they now condemn and distance themselves from.
As I have shared previously, I emotionally came back to baseball during baseball’s summer of love. I, like most fans, was disheartened during the work stoppage of ’94 and ’95. I still followed baseball when the game resumed in late April of ’95, and the Rockies first ever playoff appearance at the end of that season made baseball easier for me to accept, but something was missing. The magical home run chase in 1998 changed all that. I was a season ticket holder in Colorado, and made sure to see every swing by Sosa and McGwire when the Cubs and Cards came to town. In addition, Colorado had the good fortune to be the host of the All Star Game that season. The main attraction that year was the home run derby. With both Sosa and McGwire locked on pace to break the single season HR total of 61, along with such luminaries Jim Thome, A Rod and Griffey, Jr., swinging in the thin air, it was going to be quite a show. (Sosa came to Denver but had to withdraw from derby participation.) I was sitting at Coors Field during the Derby with 3 buddies and we, as fans, talked about steroid usage as it related to the players we were watching. We did not know, but we ‘knew.’ We were not sure who used, but we had our suspicion. That assumption did not diminish the pleasure of the event, or of the great home run chase that season. Both players involved that summer have been implicated in steroid usage. One has now admitted it. Still, baseball cashed in on the new popularity of the game, and writers covered every swing. Many were apparently too blind to see what we saw. Yet many of these same writers who enjoyed increased readership because of baseball’s returning popularity and thus cashed in themselves now feel that they must protect the integrity of the game. They will not vote for anyone associated with steroids for the Hall of Fame. They did not mind, however, when the ball bashing kept the parks full and therefore kept them employed. In a very real sense, they owe their livelihood to the very people they covered and built up at the time, but now villafy. We all ‘knew’ what was going on, yet these pundits did not? These writers vote on Hall membership because they know better than we do. They have access to locker rooms and travel with the teams. They have more exposure to the game and players than the average fan, therefore they are better qualified to judge. With all that access, they did not know at the time?
Apparently the one of the biggest flaws of many players who used steroids is that they have not admitted their usage nor been contrite for their transgression. Is it not
time that the same people calling for these acts of contrition make one of their own? Many of the writers who now pontificate about how these players stained the game were in a position to know at the time, yet said nothing and thus were complicit in the era as well. Perhaps it is time for these bloviators to ‘man up’ and come clean themselves. Stop with the hypocrisy. If the writers can not come clean and admit their complicity in keeping the story quiet within the steroid era, then it is time to take the writers out of the Hall selection process. If these individuals did not have the moral fortitude to be honest about what was going on at the time, why should they now have the moral authority to sit in judgement on Hall membership?
Rocky Bottom 10/08/2009Posted by sportretort in Sports.
Tags: colorado rockies, mlb baseball, nlds, philadelphia phillies, playoffs
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Cliff Lee dominated the Colorado Rockies in game 1 of their best of 5 NLDS playoff series. Mr everything for the Phillies even singled and stole a
base in the third inning.
The Rockies had chances to score in the first and second innings, but failed to come up with a timely hit. Lee then settled in and was tossed a six hitter en route to the 5-1 win. The Rockies must now put this game behind them quickly if they wish to have a shot at this series. While game two is not a must win situation, with Aaron Cook on the mound for game 2 and Jorge De La Rosa left off the roster because of a groin pull, the Rockies must find a way to win this game. The Phillies are starting another left hander in Cole Hammels. Colorado needs to get into the Phillies suspect bullpen.
The Rockies looked lost in the wind blown sixth inning. They looked lost at the plate all day. They need to make some changes in todays line up. The Rockies took off after Jim Tracy became their manager. He made 2 changes that ignited the team. One was to make Clint Barmes the every day second baseman. The other was to place Ian Stewart at third base. Garrett Atkins had struggled there and at the plate. I understand the lefty-righty platoon that had Atkins at third yesterday, but the spark is needed from Stewart. He needs to start today despite the lefty on the mound today from Philadelphia. In addition, Ian Stewart needs to be behind the plate. And watch for Mr late night, Seth Smith, to make an appearance in the outfield if Dexter Fowler looks lost in the moment again in the outfield. Fowler is a good outfielder, and his speed is a plus, but the guy started the season in AA ball and looked tentative yesterday. Expect him to start today, but watch for a mid inning substitution if a spark is needed.
Speaking of replacement, I was surprised that yesterday’s starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez came back out to the mound for the 6th inning. Jimenez had lost it in the 5th, but the Rocks were still in the game, down 2-0. With a bullpen that had performed admirably down the stretch, and with the importance of each game magnified by the short series, it was not the time to work on pitcher confidence. And the Phillies pounced in the sixth inning to put the game away. All 5 runs were charged to Jimenez. Tracy needed to give his team a better chance at that point. so look for changes in the line up this afternoon for the Rockies. The biggest tell will be the rested right arm of Cook. If he keeps the ball down and the sinker is working, the Rockies will square this series at a game each, and head back to Colorado with their swagger back.
Wild 09/16/2009Posted by sportretort in mlb, Sports.
Tags: colorado rockies, mlb baseball, nl wild card race, san francisco giants
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It’s not time to panic…. yet!
The Colorado Rockies entered their final 3 game series in San Francisco 4 1/2 games ahead of the Giants in the NL Wild Card race with 18 games
left to play. In their last trip to San Fran two weeks ago, the Giants swept the 3 game series. It would be to Colorado’s benefit to avoid that same fate this time. So here we are heading into the third and final game of the series with the Rockies trying to avoid the sweep. Their lead is down to 2 1/2 games. The 2 game swing in tonights game could make a world of difference. Obviously, the Rockies will leave the City by the Bay in the lead regardless of the outcome of the game this evening. Last time, San Fran sent the Rockies packing tied in the Wild Card. But the Rockies, primarily due to a 9-1 home stand, opened up a good sized lead during the intervening 2 weeks. But a 3 1/2 game lead, which the Rockies would have with a win tonight , would feel much better than a 1 1/2 game lead.
The Rockies road trip continues with a 3 game set at Arizona after tonight. The Giants head up
the coast to Division leading LA for a 3 game set after the game. The Rockies then head back to Coors Field in Denver for their final 9 home games of the season. It would be helpful if the Rockies take care of business over the next 13 games, because they close the season with 3 games at LA. Including tonights game, the Giants have 9 of their final 17 games on the road. They also close the season with their final 3 games away from home, visiting San Diego. This is significant because the Giants have the best home record in the NL with a 48-25 mark. They are 10 games below .500 on the road. That is why tonights game is so important. With a win, the Rockies will give themselves some breathing room. Win tonight, and then go 8-7 for the remainder of the season, and the Rockies will force the Giants into needing to finish 12- 4 to end the season. Not much margin for error there. Drop tonights game, and finish 8-7, then San Fran needs just a 10-6 mark to force game 163. A game that would be played by the Bay.
The good news is that Colorado entered the series needing 1 win to put the pressure squarely on the Giants. They still have a chance to make that happen. If they don’t, they will still be in the drivers seat, but the margin for error will be razor thin. Tonights starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa must shut down the Giants who suddenly are feasting on Rockies pitching. And the bats must come alive against Matt Cain, who is 2-1 in 4 starts against the Rockies this season, allowing 10 earned runs in 25 innings pitched. Colorado has amassed 19 hits (including 5 home runs) and 15 walks against 23 strike outs against Cain this season. For his part, De La Rosa is 2-0, allowing 8 earned runs on 15 hits (2 HR) in 13 1/3 innings. He has 12 strike outs and issued just 1 walk in his 2 starts against SF.
The Rockies have answered the bell all season long. In the last 2 games, they have been sluggish in the field, anemic at the plate and allowed the Giants to score at will. When the bell sounds tonight, look for the return of the Rockies of the last 3 months. The Wild Card race ends tonight.
Contending 07/20/2009Posted by sportretort in mlb, Sports.
Tags: chicago cubs, colorado rockies, contenders, hot teams, jason marquis, mlb baseball, national league, streaking teams, wild card race
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There is life. Ok, so it was the lowly Nationals, but in case you haven’t noticed, the Chicago Cubs have come to life. They swept a 4 game series from the Washington Nationals, baseball’s worst team, over the weekend in the first series
since the all star break. The encouraging thing about the series, however, is not that they won, but how. In the 4 games they did it in every conceivable way. They won with timely hitting, they won with clutch hitting, they came from behind and won. They won close games. They won going away. And they did it on the road. This team has been struggling all season. Perhaps now they have found a groove.
Even more important, they won 2 of the last 3 games before the break from the division leading Cardinals. In the tightly packed NL Central Division, the Cubs find themselves in 2nd place, 2 games behind St Louis. during the week before the break they had fallen to 5th and 5 games back. This team should be the class of the division. They have won the Central each of the past 2 years. But there has been no consistency in their play so far this season. They would get good pitching but struggle at the plate. They would score runs, but give up the lead in the late innings. They have fought through injuries and player suspensions. But perhaps that frustrating, seemingly fruitless first half is now behind them. The Cubs have won 7 of their last 8 ball games. If this team has the second half they are capable of, they will again be the Central champs.
Speaking of teams on a roll, the Colorado Rockies show no signs of slowing down. On June 4th, this team was a dismal 20 – 32 and in a free fall. All they have done since that date is go 30 – 10. They are 8 games behind the LA Dodgers in the NL West, but they trail the San Francisco Giants by only 1/2 game in the NL Wild Card race. They are in the Wild Card Race, and do not count them out of the division race because as good as LA is, their pitching is suspect and may not hold up all season long. Many pundents believe the Rockies are one or two middle relievers away from being the best team in the National League. Watch for a move with the trade deadline fast approaching. The starting pitching has been spectacular since early June, lead by Jason Marquis who became the first 12 game winner in the Major Leagues last night. This team has seen consistent hitting and great fielding during this stretch. They are one of a small number of teams that have a winning record on the road. They approach each game expecting to win, and have played .750 ball for the last 6 weeks.
Look for the Rockies to join the Cubs as participants in the National League playoffs at the end of the season.