Tag Archive | "Alex Rodriguez"

Ryan Braun – Is he a keeper?

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Ryan Braun – Is he a keeper?

Posted on 04 April 2013 by Trish Vignola

Well, I guess that’s too late to figure out now. I traded him for Steven Strasburg. Sure, Braun was named the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player. However,Strasburg was named the Nationals’ Opening Day starter. Sure, he may (or may not) have a pitch count but Ryan Braun was … connected to the Biogenesis scandal. I did not want to hedge my bets.

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You are talking to the same woman who had Joey Votto on her team last year.

The same Joey Votto who missed like a third of the season due to injury.

In fantasy baseball, I’m kind of the kiss of death.

However, did I make the right move? Is 190 innings worth losing a prospective 30 to 40 home runs? The Milwaukee Brewers outfielder collected his first RBI of 2013 season on opening day and added to that total Tuesday night against the Rockies. He went 1 for 4 with a home run in the 8-4 loss. The 29-year-old launched a two-run shot off starter Jorge De La Rosa in the third inning. Braun has gone 2 for 8 with three RBIs through two games.

As of 7 pm today on CBSsports.com, Braun has earned his lucky managers 9 fantasy points. Strasburg has earned me 29. Nonetheless, the week is far from over.

Regarding anything that would keep Braun preoccupied…like I don’t know, the Biogenesis scandal, Major League Baseball claims that Braun is not at the center of the investigation. Michael Hurcomb of CBSsports.com reported on March 20th that Major League Baseball Vice President Rob Manfred denied allegations the league was targeting the Brewers outfielder in its investigation of the Biogenesis clinic in Miami. Biogenesis, for those of you who don’t know, was an anti-aging clinic located near the University of Miami. It is alleged that the clinic sold performance-enhancing drugs to what is growing to be a laundry list of baseball players, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun.

These newer reports contradicted an earlier USA Today report which suggested that Braun was “MLB’s Public Enemy No. 1″ in its investigation of Biogenesis. “Everyone whose name has surfaced surrounding the Miami New Times story and Biogenesis is being investigated with equal vigor,” Manfred said in a statement to the Journal Sentinel.

Listen, who says that Braun is not innocent? Can you name another person who was able to dispute his testosterone test and win an appeal of his 50 game suspension? I will not cast any dispersion on his name. Nonetheless, if I kept Braun, I guarantee that he would have been tossed from the game indefinitely.

I am the black widow of fantasy baseball.

So to those of you who have Braun on your team, you are welcome. Braun is projected for 38 home runs, 109 RBIs and a .312 batting average. Steven Strasburg? I hear he’s projected to buy a new insurance policy now that he knows I kept him.

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Former Yankee Nick Swisher Gets Fresh Start

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Former Yankee Nick Swisher Gets Fresh Start

Posted on 20 March 2013 by Jennifer Gosline

It looks like Nick Swisher got away from the Yankees just in time. They seem to be plummeting down a dark hole at a rapid pace, and it is only Spring Training.

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Injury after injury, they are not having the best of luck right now. With Curtis Granderson‘s broken bone, Mark Teixeria’s injured wrist, and Alex Rodriguez out with hip issues, it seems as though the Yankees are falling apart one accident at a time. Someone over at Yankee stadium needs to turn around twice and tip their hat to the west, or some type of crazy healing superstition to help out this poor team. Thankfully, Derek Jeter’s ankle is healing up well, along with Mariano Rivera’s knee, and CC Sabathia’s elbow. That should put a little spark back into the dragging energy of the team.

They are the Yankees though. They will bounce back, even if they have to dig their way out of this hole using nothing but their helmets as shovels. These guys are fighters. Not lazy players.

While taking that persistent mentality to Cleveland, Nick Swisher hopefully left the unlucky Yankee rabbit foot behind and can start out healthy with the Indians. Superstitions aside, I think the off-season team change for the switch hitter, will work out to be a solid move for both the Indians and Swisher himself. The Indians gained a veteran player with tremendous leadership quality. He has a calming presence, but yet at the same time can rial up the team on the field by simply playing good baseball. It may not be the Hunter Pence football-style huddle of firing up his teammates, but Swisher is certainly capable of getting guys amped for a game.

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Being in New York might have held back his potential with a team full of All-Stars. And of course, that huge Yankee name is hard to live up to. Swisher was good, but now he will have the opportunity to stand out. He can take control a little more with his new team, which will push himself as well as his teammates. While proving his leadership capabilities he will ultimately be enhancing his defensive skills. With intense excitement in his eyes to play for a new team, the 32 year old is not done yet, maybe even demonstrating more power and precision at the plate this season.

Last season, Swisher had 93 RBIs and crossed home plate 75 times. He had a slash line of .272/.364/.473 which has been fairly consistent over the years with his career numbers at .256/.361/.467. Although some may think his age might start to limit him, this is evidence that he can be counted on.

He is already settling into his new uniform nicely smashing 3 home runs along with 10 RBIs in 30 plate appearances this spring. Comparing Spring Training stats, he has had more RBIs this spring since 2010, and more home runs since 2007. I have a good feeling about him.

In 2012, the Indians started out toward the top of their division and made a strong push to take the AL Central title, but could not hold it together in the second half of the season. These guys have ample potential and Swisher might just be the key man to keep them on top of their game. They will likely be a strong contender the entire season with their new addition taking the reins. He will be joining Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana, and Michael Brantley all with solid careers. And also new to the Indians, Michael Bourn, has some hustle and can give a little extra grit to the club.

Nick Swisher will become an even bigger household name in 2013, as long as having come from New York, he is not infected with the Yankee injury bug that is going around.

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Tarnished Todd

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Tarnished Todd

Posted on 19 February 2013 by Chris Caylor

Pro athletes can be enigmatic people. So, too, can the people who cover the games pro athletes play.

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When sportswriters – especially the folks who get paid to cover a team – interject their opinions on their Twitter feed or a blog post, then they become part of the story as well. We see this every year at Hall-of-Fame voting time. Another perfect example in baseball is when an athlete gets busted for using performance-enhancing drugs. Baseball writers love (no, LOVE!) to get up on their soapboxes and rail at the sky about how those players are destroying the game. Just look back at some of the Grade A conniption fits some writers have thrown over Melky Cabrera, Alex Rodriguez, Yasmani Grandal and others.

I don’t begrudge them those opinions, even if I may not share their vitriol. What I ask is this: where is the outrage over a DUI?

Yes, using PEDs is now forbidden in baseball. Yes, using PEDs creates a competitive imbalance within the game and puts an athlete’s accomplishments into question. But does using PEDs put innocent lives at risk the way driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol does? While Alex Rodriguez brings embarrassment to himself, the New York Yankees, and baseball as a whole, did he endanger lives the way Todd Helton did a couple of weeks ago?

Simply put: no.

When the longtime Colorado Rockies’ first baseman decided to get behind the wheel of his Ford F-150 truck at 2 am on February 6, 2013, he put lives at risk. His driving was so erratic that police were rightfully called. His mugshot now belongs in the Celebrity Mugshot Hall of Shame. Helton’s iconic moment – fists raised to the sky, shouting in triumph as he catches the final out of the 2007 NLCS – has been sullied with photoshop images of him guzzling wine from an Igloo cooler instead of celebrating the Rockies’ lone trip to the World Series.

Let’s be clear on one thing: no one was injured or killed as a result of Helton’s appalling decision. Thank heavens for that. But it does not excuse his appalling lack of judgment. His apparent motivation for this dangerous drive was lottery tickets and chewing tobacco. Is that worth a human life?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, almost 30 people in the U.S. die every day in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. The CDC says that translates to one death every 48 minutes. In statistics reported by MADD, Colorado drunk-driving deaths increased 9% from 2010 to 2011. In fact, 36% of Colorado traffic-related deaths in 2011 were drunk-driving related.

Being arrested for a DUI has devastating effects on the offender. Typically, by the time one pays for bail, court fees, penalty fines, and insurance costs, the price tag is about $10,000 – and that’s if you didn’t hit anything or injure anyone (hat tip: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

This doesn’t even begin to take into account the devastation visited on a victim. I can’t and won’t even begin to quantify something like that. Ten thousand dollars is pocket change to Todd Helton, who has made over $150 million in his major-league career.

Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock foolishly drove while drunk and died in a 2007 crash. The Angels’ Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver in 2009. So, sadly, there is tragic precedent between drinking and driving and baseball players.

You might think the media would be critical of Helton, similar to how the media excoriated former Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa or outfielder Delmon Young after their alcohol-related incidents.

Sadly, they were not.

Not comparing Helton to Young (who is, by many published accounts, a terrible human being), but local Denver Post writers practically fell over themselves to EXCUSE Helton for his crime. One columnist flippantly began a column thusly: “So now the statistical line for Rockies star Todd Helton reads: 354 home runs, .320 batting average and 1 DUI arrest. Helton is sorry, Denver.” Another has completely glossed over the seriousness of what could have happened in favor of emphasizing that Helton is a “prideful” man who is contrition was obvious before he uttered a single word of explanation to his fans.

When Helton did finally address the media this past Sunday (11 days after his arrest), he was apologetic, but gave no explanation for the delay. Helton refused to discuss why he decided to drink and drive that night, and no media members pushed for an explanation. Helton claims that he has “gotten help” for his “monumental mistake,” yet he would not elaborate what sort of help he is getting. Is it because the investigation is ongoing? If so, then say so.

And is it just me, or did he seem irritated that he had to speak about his DUI at all? Local TV stations also reported that this would be “the first and the last time” that Helton would address this matter. That sound contrite to you? Me either.

No one asked Helton if it ever occurred to him that he could have injured – or killed – a child wearing a Helton jersey or t-shirt. Has Helton considered what such an unspeakable tragedy would do to his legacy? I’d like to know the answer to that question, yet the media has not asked it. Why? Could it be that it is easier to screech and preach about intangible things like the “spirit of the game” or “integrity” than it is to deal with all-too common occurrences in life like drinking and driving, alcohol dependency or automobile crashes? I don’t have an answer. I just wish someone were willing to ask the question.

No questions will be forthcoming from Major League Baseball. Bud Selig has offered no comment whatsoever on Helton’s DUI. The Denver Post has reported that the Rockies do not plan to discipline Helton for his crime, but they did issue a STRONGLY WORDED statement the day after Helton’s arrest. The team used phrases like “extremely disappointed,” “full accountability,” and “severity of the situation.” But an organization that has for years trumpeted how much it values “character” in its players, coaching staff and management, will take no further action other than issuing a statement that essentially says “STOP! Or I’ll say stop again.” Three cheers for hypocrisy, everyone!

Here’s a question for the media, Rockies management and fans: what if it had been a player other than Todd Helton, the franchise icon? What if it had been one of the Rockies’ many young pitchers? A 20-something, perhaps single guy, trying to establish a major league career? Would everyone be so quick to come to that player’s defense, espousing deep insights into his psyche and rationalizing a horrible decision? Or would they be raking him over the coals, demanding his release and entry into a rehab program? Interesting question, isn’t it? The cynic in me has a guess what the answer would be, and the answer is disappointing.

Check out these numbers tweeted by Anthony Witraudo of The Sporting News: “By Sporting News’ count, 12 MLB players, an exec, a bullpen catcher, an announcer and a HOFer have been busted for DUIs since start of 2011.”

Pardon the turn of phrase, but that’s a sobering statistic. The way so many baseball writers harp about PEDs, you’d think the ratio of PED users to DUI arrests was 50-to-1. Again, I ask, where are the priorities of baseball writers? Shouldn’t the DUI issues at least get equal time?

In fairness, the National Football League has a much higher number of players who have been arrested for driving under the influence. But no one grandstands about the prevalence of PEDs in the NFL, either.

Helton said Sunday he is taking “all the right steps to make sure (drinking and driving) doesn’t happen again.” Let’s hope it doesn’t. He played Russian roulette with his massive pick-up truck and got lucky. If it were to happen again, the end result might be a tragedy far more heartbreaking than an athlete caught using steroids. I hope that is something members of the baseball media come to realize sooner rather than later.

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Ryan Braun – Here we go…again?

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Ryan Braun – Here we go…again?

Posted on 12 February 2013 by Trish Vignola

Major League Baseball’s investigation into the widening Biogenesis scandal has become more complicated. Tuesday, four more players, including Brewers superstar Ryan Braun, were linked to the now-defunct Florida clinic alleged to have distributed performance-enhancing substances.

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Here we go again.

Yahoo Sports named Braun, Orioles’ third baseman – Danny Valencia and Yankees’ catcher – Francisco Cervelli in a report as being included in handwritten logs of clinic operator Anthony Bosch. Mariners’ catcher (and former Yankees’ farm hand) Jesus Montero also appears in the clinic’s records as the New York Daily News reported.

At the rate the Yankees are going, I’ll be behind the dish this year.

Is it me or is inclusion of Braun, the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player, on this list as frustrating as Alex Rodriguez? Braun won last season an appeal of a positive test. An arbitrator ruled his urine sample had not been handled properly. Although it may or may not be significant that, unlike the previous names surfaced, there were no specific illegal substances listed next to Braun’s name. Nonetheless, can’t these guys stay home and stay out of trouble? There was a number next to his name which many have interpreted as dollar amounts he might have paid or been billed for undisclosed reasons.

I don’t want someone to be guilty until proven innocent, but come on.

The Miami New Times had previously named Alex Rodriguez, Nelson Cruz, Gio Gonzalez and Cesar Carrillo, as well as three players who have previously been suspended for use of illegal substances: Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and Yasmani Grandal.

At that time, MLB confirmed that it had been independently investigating Biogenesis and that it planned to attempt to interview any player whose name surfaced in connection with the lab. The Commissioner’s Office released a statement Tuesday night, saying: “We have an active ongoing investigation in Florida. Until that is completed we can’t comment on any of the details or information that has surfaced.”

Yahoo reported that it had been given three documents by a former Biogenesis employee with Braun’s name attached. One matchef a list the New Times posted online with Braun’s name redacted and Cervelli and Valencia cut off. Another showed Braun on a line connected to the notation “RB 20-30K.” That is similar to how Bosch listed the amounts owed by other players, although, in this case, the number was markedly higher than most.

Added by Yahoo, “Later in the document are multiple mentions of Chris Lyons, one of Braun’s attorneys during the 2011-12 offseason when he fought a positive drug test. While Braun never contested the findings of the test, which found elevated testosterone levels in his urine, a 50-game suspension was overturned after chain-of-custody issues arose from the test-taker keeping the specimen in his basement over the weekend instead of immediately shipping it to a testing lab. Braun denied use of testosterone publicly. … When reached by Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday evening, Lyons declined comment.

The third record is a letter from Bosch that appears to be Juan Nunez, a former runner for the ACES sports agency that represents Cabrera, Cruz and Gonzalez. Though undated, it congratulates ‘Juan’ on ‘the MVP award’ – a possible reference to Cabrera’s All-Star Game MVP – and continues: ‘This smells like the ‘Braun’ advantage.’”

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He Without Sin…Should not Represent Roger Clemens – Rusty Hardin on A-Rod

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He Without Sin…Should not Represent Roger Clemens – Rusty Hardin on A-Rod

Posted on 31 January 2013 by Trish Vignola

“The sports world has turned the assumption of innocence on its head,” Rusty Hardin (Roger Clemens’ attorney) said Thursday in a telephone interview with USA TODAY Sports. “I am thoroughly convinced there is no way an innocent ballplayer can get out in front of these allegations.

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“I truly know nothing about Alex Rodriguez, but do you think anybody is going to believe Alex Rodriguez now? Nobody is going to listen to him or any of these guys accused.”

“The presumption is so strong that they did it, and they’re lying. The only way Alex Rodriguez is going to get a fair shake is by going to court and proving it.”

“Who the hell wants to wish that on anyone? Even if acquitted, the majority of the sports world still is going to assume he did it.”

Roger Clemens vehemently denied Senator George Mitchell’s 2007 report that he used performance-enhancing drugs. He filed a defamation lawsuit against his former trainer, Brian McNamee. He swore under oath that he never took steroids, and after being indicted by a grand jury on charges of making false statements to Congress, he was still found not guilty on all counts of lying to Congress.

“That was the only way Roger could get a fair hearing,” Hardin said, “but like Roger told Congress, ‘He still lost his innocence.’ People still don’t believe him.”

Has he given us a reason to believe him though?

“The problem now is that so many players deny it, and later on admit it, so the accusation carries additional weight,” Harden continued.
If the Miami New Times report is accurate and Rodriguez did indeed purchased performance-enhancing drugs in 2009 and 2012 from Biogenesis, a clinic in Coral Gables, Florida, Harden says that Rodriguez should follow the lead of Yankees starter Andy Pettitte. He publicly admit his transgressions.

“If you did it,” Hardin says, “the way Andy Pettitte went about it is exactly the way to go. You admit it, accept responsibility, and move on.”

“If you didn’t do it, then you’ve got follow your conscience and recognize it’s not going to work. People are too cynical to believe you.”

“What we did with Roger didn’t work. He denied it from every rooftop he could. What we discovered with Roger was that his denial just brought more scorn. After awhile, we just shut up. There was nothing more we could offer from the dialogue.”

“But I will say that if a person didn’t do it, they shouldn’t cave in and say they did it, just to make it go away.”

Hardin realized that even after being victorious in trial, the public perception of Clemens wouldn’t be dramatically altered. That was confirmed this year when the seven-time Cy Young award winner received only 37.6% of the vote in the Hall of Fame ballot.

“I don’t think nobody will ever look at the evidence before they cast their next vote,” Hardin says. “The trouble is that Roger was lumped together with (Barry) Bonds and (Sammy) Sosa. The other two guys, everybody knows they did it.”

Do they? They’ve denied it as much as Clemens.

“There’s no question that Bonds did it.”

Which is interesting because many people can say that about Hardin’s client.

“Everybody knows that. And Sosa proved positive. And since Roger was accused, he was thrown in the same group,” Hardin continued.

Bonds testified that he never knowingly used steroids. Sosa tested positive in an anonymous 2003 test, according to the New York Times, but has denied that he ever used steroids.

“I don’t think anything is ever going to change,” Hardin says, “no matter what Roger says.”

“You never get your reputation back.”

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