Tuesday, September 30, 2014

This Weekend In Baseball

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
PHOTOS BY CANDICE EBLING

How do you cap a Hall of Fame Career?

If you're Derek Jeter, a game winning RBI against the Baltimore Orioles in his last game at Yankee Stadium Thursday Night was a great start.

The Yankees 5-4 breath taking victory was better than a Hollywood Ending.

Jeter played it smart. He never wanted to play Shortstop again and wanted it to end in the Bronx.

On Sunday, at Fenway Park, the Yankees won the last game of the season 9-5 over the Boston Red Sox.

Jeter's last at bat was an RBI single in the third inning. He appeared as a Designated Hitter and even though the Yankees VS Red Sox is one of the most intense rivalries in sports, Boston and their fans demonstrated an abundance of class in their appreciation of Jeter. I've always felt that Red Sox fans were some of the best in the USA.

Jeter's career will end with five World Series Championships in 20 seasons.

In 2,747 games, the Kalamazoo, MI. native amassed 3,465 hits, a .310 average, 260 HR, 1,311 RBI's and the folks in Cooperstown, NY., are already planning for 2020 when he's inducted on the first ballot.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Turning our attention to the playoffs, I'm intrigued by some of the match-ups because there is some great history involved.

Let's start off with the Oakland A's facing the Kansas City Royals.

Once upon a time, the Oakland A's used to be the Kansas City A's. During the regular season, the Philadelphia Phillies faced Oakland in Northern California.

Once upon a time, the Oakland A's used to be the Philadelphia A's.

In the National League, we have the Barry Bonds Bowl as the San Francisco Giants face the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Bonds, 50, began his career as a Pirate player for retired Detroit Tigers Skipper Jim Leyland.

Bonds piled up stolen bases and home runs in Western Pennsylvania from 1986-1992. He signed as a free agent with the Giants and played in The Bay Area from 1993-2007. Between the two clubs, he belted 762 HR's and stole 514 bases.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A year ago, My Photographer Candice Ebling and I attended Miami Marlins Pitcher Henderson Alvarez no-hitter against the Detroit Tigers on the final game of the season in South Florida.

Sunday, history repeated itself as Jordan Zimmerman (14-5) threw a 1-0 no-hit gem against Alvarez, who is photographed here.

Yes, I said Alvarez (12-7), who has now been involved in two-consecutive final day no-hitters. This time he was on the wrong end of it. This is the fifth time in Major League Baseball History that a no-hitter has been tossed on the final day of the season.

Zimmerman, 28, struck-out 10 and allowed only two base runners. Thanks to a dramatic diving grab by little used Steven Souza Jr., who came out as a defensive replacement in the ninth, history was made.

Zimmerman's 104th pitch got smacked to deep left-center. He threw 79 strikes and 25 balls.

Zimmerman was a second round draft pick in 2007 out of Division III Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

On this day, the Nationals Park Crowd of 35,085 hope his gem is the beginning of a successful playoff run for Washington, the NL East Division Champions.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Speaking of the Washington Nationals, otherwise known as the former Montreal Expos franchise, it was 20-years ago in 1994 that the Baseball Strike cancelled the World Series.

When the season ended, Montreal had the best record in baseball with a 74-40 record. They were on a collision course to possibly face the New York Yankees 70-43.

The Expos roster consisted of Wil Cordero, Pedro Martinez, John Wetteland, Cliff Floyd, Moises Alou, Marquis Grissom, Larry Walker, Rondell White and Manager Felipe Alou.

Unfortunately, for Montreal, the city never recovered and the team moved to the Nations Capital. It ruined baseball in one of Canada's biggest cities.

I do hope that at one point , Montreal gets another team.

If there is a sentimental favorite to win, I'd be pulling for the Nationals. They squandered an opportunity in 2012 when rookie sensation Stephen Strasburg was shut down with a 15-6 record after 159.1 innings. The Nationals, who finished 98-64, imposed the innings limitation as a result of Tommy John Surgery in 2011.

Strasburg wouldn't pitch in the playoffs and Washington was eliminated by the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 in the NLDS.

This season, new manager Matt Williams has led the Nationals to a 96-66 record and he was a major part of the Arizona Diamondbacks 2001 World Series Championship. He should get strong consideration for Manager of The Year honors.

If there is a story book ending, the Nationals would win the World Series 20-years later in a celebration of what would have been, then share a piece of history with the Montreal fans.

The only time Montreal and Washington ever face each other in sports is when the Canadiens face the Capitals in the NHL.

It would kill Detroit Tigers fans that Washington acquired Pitcher Doug Fister (30) in the off-season and in his first season with the team, he posted a 16-6 mark with a 2.41 ERA.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When the Detroit Tigers face the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS later this week, it will mark their third different opponent from the AL East Division.

Detroit has had success in the playoffs against the New York Yankees. Last year against the Boston Red Sox, Detroit's bullpen prevented it from reaching the World Series.

This season Detroit is 5-1 against Baltimore and by next week, we'll know whether this matters. Regular season records in many cases mean nothing when it comes to the playoffs because I've seen teams often get revenge.

Now that the Central Division winning Tigers (90-72) are making their fourth straight playoff appearance, it will be interesting to see how far they advance since once again, the bullpen is full of question marks.

I'm not going to predict a World Series Championship yet for the Motor City Kitties.

However, that Three Headed Monster of Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and David Price is scary to look at if you're an opposing manager. With Detroit's bullpen issues, these guys might have to complete some games.

When I think of the Detroit Tigers VS Baltimore Orioles, it brings back some memories of their rivalry back in the 1970's.

Baltimore had great pitchers like Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar along with Elrod Hendricks, Boog Powell, Davey Johnson, Brooks Robinson, Mark Belanger, Paul Blair, Frank Robinson and were led by legendary Manager Earl Weaver.

For Detroit, they had some fine players. Bill Freehan, Norm Cash, Dick McAuliffe, Aurelio Rodriguez, Ed Brinkman, Willie Horton, Mickey Stanley, Al Kaline, Jim Northrup, Mickey Lolich, Joe Coleman, Joe Niekro, Dean Chance, Fred Scherman and Tom Timmerman.

Billy Martin piloted these guys.

There were some Hall of Famers from these two squads.

Time will tell how much star power and Hall of Famers will come from these two teams. But one thing is for certain, this figures to be a fun series to watch.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For that matter, all of these series should be enjoyable.

Last year, the Pittsburgh Pirates ended a 20-straight losing season streak making it to the playoffs and followed that up in 2014 reaching the post-season.

This year, the Kansas City Royals snapped a 29-year playoff drought.

Does Cinderella exist?

I wish I had late Yankees Announcer Mel Allen to give us a narrated version of "This Week In Baseball" because it will be loaded with a lot of information and great feature stories as it was years ago before NBC's Game of The Week.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pro & College Football Observations

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
PHOTOS BY CANDICE EBLING

Ever since Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf were selected as the top two QB's in the 1988 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers respectively, I've always been intrigued by Booms VS Busts.

Colts General Manager Bill Polian's selection of Manning produced a Super Bowl Championship for Indianapolis. Meanwhile, Leaf is currently one of the biggest busts in NFL History! He's currently in a Montana Jail because of Burglary trying to steal Prescribed Pain Killers, to go along with his other criminal issues.

When the Detroit Lions defeated the New York Jets 24-17 on Sunday, the fans in The Big Apple had to be biting their lips and nails.

In the 2009 NFL Draft, Lions QB Matthew Stafford (6-3, 232) was the top selection, and the second signal caller was Mark Sanchez (6-2, 225), whom they traded up with the Cleveland Browns for the No. 5 spot.

During this meeting only one of them was at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

It was Stafford, who led the Lions to the triumph by amassing 293 yards, tossed two touchdown passes and ran for another.

The early returns for Sanchez were good as he led the Jets to a pair of AFC Championship Game appearances in 2009 and 2010.

By no means was Sanchez a bust. He was playing for a defensive coach in Rex Ryan that wanted him to manage the game. Ryan failed to come up with a suitable offense for Sanchez.

How badly did it end for Sanchez in New York? The guy was injured in the final pre-season game in 2013 with the second and third string units, which ended his season before it started as he spent the year on injured reserve.

Sanchez's final numbers with the Jets were 12,092 yards, with 68 TD's and 69 interceptions in a five year stint.

Fortunately, for Sanchez (27), he got released and he's the back-up QB in Philadelphia under offensive genius Chip Kelly.

There is no doubt that Sanchez will start again in the NFL. For now being the Eagles back-up gives him a chance to regain his confidence.

As for Stafford, the Lions made out extremely well as he has shattered every franchise passing record at the age of 26. I can only imagine what his numbers will be like when his career is complete.

What the Jets saw Sunday was their dream of hoping that the Lions would botch the No.1 pick was just that.

Through Sunday's game, Stafford has 18,633 yards, 114 TD's and 76 interceptions in his NFL Career.

This season, he has 1,176 yards with five TD's and three interceptions leading Detroit to a 3-1 record.

Detroit can only hope more playoff wins are on the way, but now New York is trying to develop another franchise QB in Geno Smith. The Jets are currently 1-3.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have never been a fan of celebrations and on Sunday September 21 at Ford Field, Lions Linebacker Stephen Tulloch did nothing to change my attitude. He suffered an ACL Injury on a sack of Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers in Detroit's 19-7 win.

Tulloch was trying to do a "State Farm Discount Double Check" and as a result, Tulloch missed his first game in nine NFL seasons against the Jets.

Amazingly, Tulloch says he doesn't regret doing the dance and would again. If Tulloch wasn't making millions of dollars then I wonder if he would change his thought process. He should have played in the 1960's and 1970's when many players had to work two jobs to make a living.

How times have changed. Maybe State Farm will sign Tulloch to an endorsement deal now that he has extra time since he's not playing football.

The only celebration I like is the Lambeau Leap in Green Bay. The Packers have made this celebration a part of them appreciating their fans, thus those normal dreadful end zone seats are extremely valuable!

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Prior to this year, I really never knew how serious Pneumonia was.

But when Detroit Lions Owner William Clay Ford died on March 9, 2014 just days before his 89th birthday, and then I experienced it in late July, then I realized it's extremely rough!

It took me close to four weeks to recover. When I had Prostate Surgery on September 10 at Bethesda Hospital East in Boynton Beach, Florida, I decided to get the Pneumonia Vaccine, which is supposed to last five years.

During the Green Bay Packers 38-17 road thrashing over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Illinois, there was a notable defensive player missing on the sidelines stuck in bed.

His name is Jared Allen (32), the Bears best defensive lineman that missed the contest because of Pneumonia.

Allen is 6-6, 270 pounds and he missed a NFC Norris Division Rivalry Game against the hated Packers. When one of the best defensive players in the NFL misses a game this way, this is serious!

Allen could play football in any era because he's an old school, hard-nosed, hard hitting player that gives 100% effort on every snap.

I'll bet he's had some great football conversations with Bears Hall of Fame Linebacker Dick Butkus. But even Butkus wouldn't be strong enough to play through Pneumonia.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On to College for a Couple of Points.

Going into Saturday's game against Cincinnati, Ohio State was unbeaten in the last 46 contests VS In-State Opponents with a 45-0-1 record.

Make it 47 contests, as the Buckeyes hammered the Bearcats 50-28 in Columbus to go 46-0-1.


Not having a Major State Rival has everything to do with this overrated streak. I wouldn't classify the Ohio Bobcats, Akron Zips, Toledo Rockets, Bowling Green Falcons and Cincinnati Bearcats as marquee opponents. Instead they're mid major programs that need a big payday to finance their athletic programs.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Finally, Tennessee Tech Football Coach Watson Brown has entered a club that no major collegiate coach has entered which is nothing to be proud of.

With his team's 50-7 loss to Northern Iowa Saturday Night, Brown has entered the 200 Loss Club.

But I'll be the last to criticize Watson Brown because the fact that he's coached 29 seasons is amazing, and he's coached at schools that are anything but storied programs.

He's coached at Cincinnati, Rice, Vanderbilt, UAB, and Tennessee Tech therefore, it's hard to move up the wins ladder.

Brown was 4-18 at Rice from 1983-84.

He moved on to Vanderbilt in 1986-90 and was 10-45.

UAB was his next stop and one of his longest from 1995-2006 and was one of his better acts, compiling a 62-74 record.

His latest stop on the coaching trail is at Tennessee Tech which began in 2007. He's currently 1-3 this season and 34-49.

Brown's overall record is now 128-200-1.

His first coaching job began in 1979 with Austin Peay and that lasted two years. He produced back-to-back 7-4 campaigns with a 14-8 record. That was his only winning stop.

In 1983, he was 4-6-1 in his lone season with Cincinnati.

Despite the record, Brown is coaching at the age of 64.

There is no telling how many young men he's had a positive influence in their lives both as a head and assistant coach.

But the guy has to have done something right to stay in the coaching profession this long.

He's the older brother of former Texas Longhorns Coach Mack Brown.

The Brown brothers have 372 wins and counting. Mack is 3-0 in their head-to-head match-ups, but I wouldn't be surprised if he got advice from his older brother in every aspect of coaching in addition to dealing with the student athletes.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com.

Baseball Insights 2014

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
PHOTOS BY CANDICE EBLING

As teams make their push to get into the Baseball Playoffs, there are some interesting Story Lines worth mentioning before the conclusion of the 2014 season.

On Friday Night, Miguel Cabrera hit career home run No. 390, tying him with Graig Nettles for 58th in Major League History. On April 18, 2015, Cabrera will turn 32 and I wouldn't be surprised if he passes Mr. Tiger Al Kaline (399) by the end of the month or in early May.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It was very disappointing to hear that the Arizona Diamondbacks fired Manager Kirk Gibson and Bench Coach Alan Trammell on Friday. The former Tiger stars had a solid run in Arizona.

In four plus seasons with the Diamondbacks, Gibson led Arizona to a 353-375 mark. He won an NL West Division Title in 2011 with a 94-68 record as well as Manager of The Year.

The following two years, Arizona was 81-81, but unfortunately, due to some questionable front office trades and a rash of injuries, the Diamondbacks stumbled badly this season to a 63-96 mark before Gibson was let go by Arizona Chief Baseball Officer Tony LaRussa.

It was inevitable that when former Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers was fired three weeks ago, that Gibson's days were numbered. LaRussa and his newly hired General Manager Dave Stewart were destined to seek a fresh start.

But for whatever it's worth, the Diamondbacks previously fired Oakland A's Manager Bob Melvin and it's safe to say, the folks in the East Bay have been happy with the skipper.

With a good front office, if there is anybody worthy of another opportunity, it's Gibson. He's one of the greatest competitors in baseball and his young players in Arizona admired him. There are going to be some open managerial jobs this fall, I hope Gibson lands one of them.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There has been a lot of talk about the Farewell Tour of legendary New York Yankees Shortstop Derek Jeter and rightfully so.

But on the South Side of Chicago, another player is quietly retiring. His name is Paul Konerko of the White Sox. Whether Konerko ever gets into the Baseball Hall of Fame remains to be seen by the Baseball Writers. Since his first season with the White Sox in 1999, Konerko has been an All-Star six times, won a World Series in 2005 and has been the team captain since 2006.

On Saturday, a statue of Konerko was unveiled, and his No. 14 will be retired. Going into the White Sox final game against the Kansas City Royals, he's amassed 439 home runs, 2,340 hits, 1,412 RBI, 1,162 runs scored, 2,348 games played and 8,390 at bats.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Despite watching his team falter late in the season, Milwaukee Brewers Owner Mark Attanasio gave his own tribute to outgoing Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig by retiring uniform No. 1 at Miller Park. This will happen in 2015.

Back in 1969, Selig moved the Seattle Pilots to Wisconsin and they began play in April of 1970 at Milwaukee's County Stadium.

Milwaukee was a National League City when the Braves called Wisconsin it's home from 1953-1965.

The Brewers lone World Series appearance was as an American League team and they lost a classic to the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3 in 1982.

During Selig's ownership, Robin Yount played his entire career with the Brewers while fellow Hall of Famer Paul Molitor had a great run as both played big roles in the franchise's history as well as their contributions in the World Series.

Former Milwaukee Braves Outfielder Hank Aaron finished his Hall of Fame career with the Brewers. Two other Hall of Fame players include Rollie Fingers and Don Sutton, along with legendary Announcer Bob Uecker.

In his role as commissioner, Selig had an office in Milwaukee as well as in New York.

He proved that a good owner can make it in a small market and this tribute that will be paid is Very Deserving!

Without Selig, there wouldn't be Miller Park, let alone another franchise in Milwaukee.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Finally, a year ago when Selig suspended New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez for 162 games, which turned out to be the entire 2014 season, due to the Biogenesis Baseball Scandal, I thought this guy's career was in serious jeopardy.

But with Jeter's retirement and the Yankees 83-78 mark, plus not making the playoffs for the second straight year, New York needs Rodriguez back.

They saved $25 million for Rodriguez's salary in 2014 and the 39-year-old has three years left on his contract.

Going into 2015, Rodriguez currently has 654 Home Runs, 1,969 RBI, 2,939 Hits, and 1,919 Runs Scored.

In the end, nobody will care about his tarnished milestones. Rodriguez will never be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame because he's already in the Public Hall of Shame.

With Jeter gone, who will play shortstop for the Yankees?

Rodriguez used to play the position before moving to third base.

He's had two hip operations, but would Rodriguez return to shortstop next summer when he turns 40 on July 27, 2015?

It's a thought but perhaps a long shot.

But at least Jeter won't be around for the Rodriguez Circus. He knew when to walk away from baseball on his own terms and not due to injury.

Is baseball ready for Alex Rodriguez in 2015?

Who knows.

But the guy served his punishment.

I have a feeling that the hardcore Yankees fans will show a compassionate side and welcome him back with open arms.

Then they'll boo him again when he strikes out with the bases loaded and he'll feel at home again getting booed by millions then questioned or second guessed by the tons of The Big Apple Media.

But once again, the Yankees really do need Rodriguez back.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com.

About Me

My photo
My Super Passion: In 40-years in the Sports Media Business, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience some Great Moments with Championship People. I look forward to any feedback you readers have. I encourage you to look at the MOTOR CITY MAD MOUTH HALL OF FAME ON August 8, 2012 because these people have made the Journey in Sports Media as fun as it's been.

Blog Archive