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2011 MLB World Series doesn’t want Dirk Nowitzki


Well, well, well, it looks like the MLB wants to stand by its pro league counterpart.

In case you didn’t know, the 2011 MLB World Series is set as the Texas Rangers play the St. Louis Cardinals to decide who will be this year’s kings of the diamond.

With the Texas Rangers being in their second consecutive appearance in the world championship series, it was understandable for them to seek ties with Texas’ own world champions, the Dallas Mavericks.

It was no surprise that the Rangers wanted Dirk Nowitzki to throw the first pitch for them.

Unfortunately, MLB doesn’t want to see Dirk on the mound and according to rumors, it’s because of the ongoing labor battle that led to the NBA lockout.

Of course, MLB denies it. ”MLB absolutely denies that any part in selecting the first ball pitcher had anything to do with the current labor situation in the NBA,” MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said.

”You want the club’s input in what makes sense for them and then we talk about what makes sense for the team and a good broad-base national appeal.”

”It’s a nice problem to have that you get a list of 10 or 15 names and you work your way through them. We know Nowitzki’s been at the games, and that’s wonderful. We’re glad he’s there.”

I mean, who’s the MLB kidding here? You have Dirk Nowitzki, one of the…

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Derek Jeter just 3 hits away from 3,000


And as bad as he has been lately, getting there will surely erase any doubts about who is the face of the Yankees.

He’s close to setting a milestone on the record books this 2011 MLB baseball season. It all started last Tuesday.

With two outs in the second inning Tuesday night, Carlos Carrasco threw Derek Jeter a fastball on a 2-0 count. It was not just any fastball. It was a 90-mile-per-hour fastball that hummed in on the same plane as Jeter’s belt.

Jeter drilled the fastball into the left-center-field gap for a two-run double — a clutch hit for extra bases. And with one swing, he turned back time. Such hits have been in short supply this season for Jeter, but that double, his second hit of the night and No. 2,996 of his career, keyed a five-run outburst as the Yankees whipped the Cleveland Indians, 9-2, at Progressive Field.

”I don’t care how I get hits. I have no ego whatsoever,” the New York Yankees shortstop said. ”But no, it did feel good to hit the ball good. It’s the hardest-hit ball I’ve hit in three weeks.”

It was somewhat fitting that Jeter, who finished 2 for 6, stepped up his pursuit of one of baseball’s hallowed milestones against Carrasco, who allowed his previous hit, on June 13 at Yankee Stadium.

Last Wednesday, he got another one, lining a double in three at-bats against Cleveland’s Justin Masterson.

Manager Joe Girardi said Jeter would receive one of the next four…

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The 2011 MLB All-Star Game will be Red Hot


seth-edward-oneal.jpgSince it will be played under the hot sun of Arizona, that’s a certainty.

It’s so hot out there right now that there are rumors that claim the MLB will move the 2011 MLB All-Star Game from Arizona to Cincinnati. Of course, the MLB was quick to deny it.

“Absolutely untrue,” MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said. “Nobody is more sensitive to that stuff than me. But take the game away from them? No. We wouldn’t do that.”

Fortunately for Major League Baseball, the climate in Arizona has improved dramatically, even if the weather remains perfectly awful. Today, the focus is not on politics. It’s on roster selection. It’s the excitement of Justin Upton trying his hand in the Home Run Derby. It’s the outrage that pitcher Ian Kennedy must hope his way onto the team, either through fan vote or another pitcher bowing off the roster.

Today, the focus is not on agendas, megaphones and mobilization. It’s on the weather forecast, and how dripping armpits will affect media members entrusted to frame the game and the region.

Face it, summertime in the Valley is a source of rage and wonder. A singer for a major rock band once took the stage at one of Arizona’s outdoor venues in July and proclaimed the temperature to be “Africa hot.” He thought we were all nuts.

The All-Star Game surely will proceed with the roof closed. That will hurt the ambience, and how Chase Field plays across America.

Given Arizona’s personal flight patterns in the summer, MLB executives also were concerned how many moneyed people would be in the Valley during All-Star week. Or maybe staging the…

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Bankrupt LA Dodgers want judge to override MLB rules


seth-edward-oneal.jpgSeems to me that the Dodgers are in a whole lot of trouble lately.

In case you didn’t know, the LA Dodgers find themselves in the middle of some financial trouble this 2011 MLB season as Frank McCourt hopes to secure a $150-million loan to meet payroll, retain control of the team and hold an auction for TV rights. The league plans to present an alternate plan and may attempt to strip McCourt of his franchise rights.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have filed for bankruptcy protection, a bid by Frank McCourt to preserve his ownership of the team by prodding a judge to override the rules of Major League Baseball.

McCourt will ask a Delaware bankruptcy judge Tuesday to approve interim financing to meet this week’s payroll. McCourt would then retain immediate control of the Dodgers, with the intention of negotiating a television rights deal that would satisfy the court by paying off all creditors in full.

The bankruptcy proceedings mean the Dodgers could end a third consecutive season with no resolution to an ownership issue clouded by the divorce of McCourt and his ex-wife, Jamie.

The divorce case — nearing its two-year anniversary — revealed how the McCourts had diverted more than $100 million from the team to keep up a lavish lifestyle that included side-by-side homes in Holmby Hills and Malibu, private jet travel and his-and-hers house calls from hairdressers.

The specter of additional months — or years — of court proceedings comes…

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Manny Ramirez retires after testing positive for steroids


seth-edward-oneal.jpgAnother one bits the dust.

As the 2011 MLB baseball season is just beginning to warm up, Manny Ramirez already called it quits, deciding to retire instead of going through an impending MLB drug treatment program after he was tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Sources say that Manny Ramirez was facing a 100-game suspension. It should come as no surprise that he took this route, as he was simply not the Manny Ramirez everyone knew after testing positive back in May 2009, where he was suspended for 50 games.

”Major League Baseball recently notified Manny Ramirez of an issue under Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,” the league said in a statement.

”Rather than continue with the process under the program, Ramirez has informed MLB that he is retiring as an active player. If Ramirez seeks reinstatement in the future, the process under the Drug Program will be completed. MLB will not have any further comment on this matter.”

After the suspension, Manny had a .460 slugging percentage and had only nine home runs in 90 games for the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers, his lowest numbers since his rookie year back in 1993, when he was 21 years old.

Manny wished to retire this time around…

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How good will the Yankees be this 2011 MLB Season?


seth-edward-oneal.jpgCan they play in the World Series this year?

Coming to the 2011 MLB baseball season, the Yankees are once again trying to finish the year as the MLB world champions. Heck, the Yankees seem to be in the middle of the World Series chase every single season anyway and I reckon this season won’t be any different.

When you have the payroll that the New York Yankees do, it’s expected. Thankfully, they always come through, doing well in reaching the ALCS the last two seasons. Though they were quiet this off-season compared to the Red Sox and even the Rays, they still are a World Series contender.

After missing out on all of the major free agents, the Yankees settled on adding complimentary pieces, signing back-up/starting catcher in Russell Martin, a setup man (Rafael Soriano – to the tune of $35 million) and a lefty specialist in Pedro Feliciano.

The Yankees are older on the positional side, but this is still a team of Hall of Famers and Hall of Very Good-Types. Maybe Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Jorge Posada, Curtis Granderson and Russell Martin all won’t have comeback seasons, but I bet some of them will. Combine that with an MVP-candidate in Robinson Cano and great guys/great hitters in Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner, and this team will put up some runs.

Of course, they still really, really need to add a starting pitcher. Their number four and five starter, if Andy Pettitte retires, are some guys named Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre. Those two started 10 games combined in 2010. If they ever had plans to convert Joba Chamberlain back into a starter, this is the season to do it. I certainly would. Look for the Yankees to get creative mid-season and pick up a good starting pitcher or two for…

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The Tigers look to put some pride back in Detroit


seth-edward-oneal.jpgThings haven’t been smooth for sports fans in Detroit lately.

Last season did not pan out the way the Detroit Tigers had planned and that is putting it kindly. To make matters worse, you can say the same thing about the Pistons, the Lions, and the Red Wings.

Injury-ridden across the board, it is a miracle within itself that the Tigers managed to finish with an 81-81 record last year. Is the 2011 MLB baseball season the year Tigers can finally get it together?

The Tigers off-season easily ranks as one of the most productive in baseball, with the additions of catcher Victor Martinez, RHP Joaquin Benoit and RHP Brad Penny.

The big splash was signing Martinez to a 4-year deal worth $50 million. Martinez is one of the best hitting catchers in the game and in my guess is he will hit fifth, right behind arguably the best hitter in the game, Miguel Cabrera. This is a huge upgrade behind the plate, as Martinez is that good.

The Tigers are looking forward to the return of OF Magglio Ordonez, after he broke his ankle in 2010. Ordonez is the top half of the Cabrera sandwich hitting in the third spot. Ordonez is 37 years old and entering his 15th season, but his first 14 years makes an average season of 38 doubles, 27 home-runs and 111 RBIs. If Ordonez can get anywhere near those numbers, watch out.

Rookie OF Austin Jackson came to the Tigers as part of the…

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Teams to Bet On in the 2011 MLB Season


Because it’s never too early to set them bets straight right?

Ah yes, the 2011 MLB baseball season is here and as always, we have got to get them betting action ready and rolling right? So who should you be betting on this year?

Without a shadow of a doubt, the Philadelphia Phillies should be one of them. After reaching the World Series two years in a row, the Phillies fell short of their goal in 2010 when they lost to the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS. The Giants will have most of their players back next season, but it doesn’t stop us from making the Phillies one of our favorites to reach the Fall Classic in the upcoming season.

The Philadelphia Phillies had an outstanding off-season, re-signing J.C. Romero and backup catcher Brian Schneider, and those were not their only moves. Most notably, they signed the best pitcher in baseball who wasn’t already on their team, Cliff Lee. They also made the easiest decision of the off-season, not paying Jayson Werth $126 million.

Their rotation is historically good. With four Hall of Fame-caliber pitchers, this team will win A LOT of ball games and will be very exciting to watch in the playoffs, if they all stay healthy. They also have a balanced offense (power/speed), are well-coached and play well as a unit. They should be serviceable defensively at every position except for left field and probably first base.

Of course, we also have the Boston Red Sox. Sure, they are stumbling out of the starting gates but let’s face it, no team did more to improve themselves in the 2010-11 off-season than these guys.

Offering up both long-term financial commitment and prospects…

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Red Sox look to improve from last year this season


seth-edward-oneal.jpgIt’s time for the boys from Boston to show just how much have they improved from last year.

Theo Epstein made it clear that 2010 was going to be a rebuilding year of sorts for the Boston Red Sox, but he also hinted at being aggressive in the future. At the time some might have thought he was just trying to appease the voracious Boston sports media.

Coming to the 2011 MLB baseball season, the Red Sox made some key acquisitions, adding Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to an already potent offense. Last year the Red Sox scored 5.1 runs per game, good enough for second in the league.

Crawford essentially replaces the combination of Daniel Nava and a slew of utility players who put up a .312 wOBA and a negative WAR. Crawford adds a wOBA of .378 (6th in MLB for LF) and a WAR of 6.9 (2nd for LF behind only AL MVP Josh Hamilton). Some of Crawford’s defensive value is lost with the Monster out in left, but his impact on the offense will be huge. Needless to say, this is a major upgrade for the Red Sox.

The addition of Gonzalez, while a big deal in the headlines, will not have quite as large an impact on the Red Sox offensive production as the guy he replaced. Gonzalez replaces Adrian Beltre who put up some MVP type numbers last year. Beltre had a wOBA of .390 and a WAR of 7.1. Both are huge numbers. Gonzales brings to Boston a .378 wOBA and 5.3 WAR.

The defensive numbers can’t be compared as they play…

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Red Sox kickoff the MLB Season against Texas Rangers


seth-edward-oneal.jpgCan the Red Sox win the big one this season?

The Red Sox will welcome the new 2011 MLB baseball season with a huge test as they play the defending American League champions Texas Rangers this weekend.

Last year, the Texas Rangers won their first American League pennant, but eventually lost the World Series to the San Francisco Giants. Their drive to the Fall Classic was spurred by an MVP season from LF Josh Hamilton, a Rookie of the Year campaign from closer Neftali Feliz, and all-star efforts from five players.

Unfortunately for them, they lost southpaw Cliff Lee through free agency this winter. It seems to me that Lee’s loss, in combination with the loss of several quality prospects they traded to Seattle in exchange for him, will be difficult to overcome in the short term, especially with the Boston Red Sox challenging them to start the season.

The Rangers needed another starting pitcher after his departure, and while Brandon Webb may prove to be a nice addition, he’s more likely to be this year’s version of Rich Harden.

On the bump the Red Sox should have one of the top rotations in baseball. Lester, Becket, Bucholz, Lackey, Dice-K, and Wakefield look great on paper. Lester had an xFIP of 3.29, good for third best in the AL. He’s one of the legitimate aces in all of baseball.

The Sox need a big bounce back from Beckett. Between 2003 and 2009, Beckett only had one season where his xFIP was higher than 3.63 (2006, he put up an ugly 4.39). Last year in just 21 starts his xFIP was 4.01. Beckett needs to stay healthy and produce like he has throughout his career. If he can do this, the Sox should be the favorite in…

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