Tag Archive | "Chris Davis"

Orioles exhale even as Machado goes to 15-day disabled list

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Orioles exhale even as Machado goes to 15-day disabled list

Posted on 13 August 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Even as Manny Machado officially went to the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday, the Orioles could breathe a sigh of relief as it relates to the 22-year-old’s future and their World Series chances in 2014.

A season-ending injury to the slick-fielding third baseman wouldn’t have ended the Orioles’ hopes for the postseason — especially with a 6 1/2 game lead entering Wednesday night — or a deep run in October, but it would have been an enormous obstacle to overcome given Machado’s elite defensive ability and improved offense over the last two months. Baltimore apparently won’t have to worry about that possibility after Machado underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam and was diagnosed with a minor right knee ligament sprain despite a scary scene on Monday night that conjured memories of last September’s left knee injury at Tropicana Field that eventually required offseason surgery.

Manager Buck Showalter expressed optimism that Machado could be ready to return when eligible on Aug. 27, but even if that goal sounds ambitious, the Orioles expect to have the talented infielder back in time for the final push for their second postseason appearance in the last three years.

“Talking to all of the doctors including Dr. [Neal] ElAttrache who did the [left knee surgery], we’ve got a pretty good feel we have our arms around where we are with it,” Showalter said. “Hopefully, it will manage itself during that [15-day] period, and he’ll be back there or close to it. It’s not if now, it’s when, we think.”

Since returning from his infamous five-game suspension on July 5, Machado is hitting .351 with five homers and 15 RBIs while posting a .929 on-base plus slugging percentage in 122 plate appearances. And, of course, the 2013 Gold Glove winner has produced a slew of highlight defensive plays to help one of the best defensive clubs in baseball.

The Orioles initially went with Chris Davis at third base in the series finale against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, but the anticipated weekend return of shortstop J.J. Hardy from a sprained left thumb will likely lead to Ryan Flaherty shifting to third base. Norfolk infielder Cord Phelps was promoted to Baltimore to take Machado’s place and will be another option at third base in the meantime.

Asked about his manager’s hope that he might be able to return in two weeks, Machado initially reacted with surprise before taking a more conservative stance of wanting to be 100 percent when he returns to help the Orioles try to win their first American League East title since 1997.

“Whenever I feel good. Whenever I’m able to go out there and be Manny Machado,” the 2013 All-Star selection said. “I don’t know when that’s going to be. It could be tomorrow, it could be in a month, it could be three weeks. It’s something that is a feel thing. Like [the doctor] said yesterday, it’s more of how you feel once you get out there and once I do what I need to do.”

Long-term concerns will persist about Machado’s health as he’s now experienced substantial injuries to both knees despite being only 22, but the Orioles and Machado began feeling optimistic quickly Monday night when he was able to walk in the clubhouse without the aid of crutches and the initial shock and pain subsided.

Only time will tell whether Machado returns as quickly as the Orioles anticipate and produces at the same high level with October rapidly approaching, but Wednesday’s outcome was worlds better than the sickening feeling all involved parties experienced when he collapsed in the batter’s box in the third inning on Monday night.

“Obviously, it’s a great relief,” Machado said. “It’s one of those things that when it happens, things cross your mind and you assume, already, the worst. You really can’t assume anything until you actually see the results and it’s front of your face and you have a doctor next to you and helping you make the decision.

“I’m just glad it’s not as bad as we thought and not as bad as it is. So, get it stronger, get back, and keep running forward.”

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Glenn’s Drew’s Morning Dish: What if the Red Sox had wanted Davis?

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Glenn’s Drew’s Morning Dish: What if the Red Sox had wanted Davis?

Posted on 01 August 2014 by Glenn Clark

Glenn’s Drew’s Morning Dish is brought to you by Koons Baltimore Ford. It took me five days to feel comfortable saying that. I’ll just go ahead and retire it now.

I’ll keep this one short today (or I hope I will anyway). I’m sure plenty of Friday’s D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction will include conversation about Ray Rice’s press conference Thursday-but I’ve written plenty about him this week.

Thursday’s Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline passed and the Baltimore Orioles were active. While the addition of reliever Andrew Miller seems minimal in comparison to the names that had been thrown around in connection to the O’s and the names that ultimately ended up being dealt elsewhere-Miller is a very solid part to add to the team’s bullpen.

Of course, the Detroit Tigers picked up David Price. And the St. Louis Cardinals nabbed John Lackey. Those teams probably did a bit more than the Birds to set themselves up for a run to a World Series. If the Orioles can continue to throw 12 shutout innings per game (like they did to start Thursday night’s game), they’ll probably be in good shape to win the American League themselves. They’ll also have to re-name every record book after the Orioles’ staff, which I imagine would be an arduous process.

The biggest story of Thursday’s trade deadline was the one that came down in the waning moments of Thursday morning’s show. Of course you already know the Boston Red Sox sent the one pitcher I had said I’d be willing to be overly bold in my pursuit of (Jon Lester) to the A’s along with Jonny Gomes in exchange for slugger Yoenis Cespedes.

It was a real “holy crap” moment in my life of following baseball. It was in that Ruben Sierra for Jose Canseco territory of truly stunning deals. It was bold, it is most certainly questionable and it solidifies what we already knew-that the Athletics are absolutely the team to beat when we get to October.

I had only a couple of seconds at the end of Thursday’s show to ponder what could have happened for Lester to have ended up in orange and black instead of green and yellow.

I posed a question on Twitter-if the Sox had told the O’s that instead of a package centered around Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy or Hunter Harvey (we’ll always wonder how the deadline could have been different without the injury) they wanted a package built around first baseman Chris Davis-would you have been willing to do it?

Much like Cespedes-Davis is a free agent at the end of next season and has provided quite the mixed bag at the plate this season. While he appeared to be establishing himself as one of the dominant power hitters in baseball in 2013, he’s struggled in just about every aspect of his game in 2014. He’s battled injuries, his batting average is atrocious and he hasn’t even gotten to the 20 home run mark for the season yet.

That said, where Cespedes has been better as an average hitter in 2014-Davis has actually maintained a better on-base percentage. Cespedes certainly provides a plus outfield arm, but Davis has been a solid defensive player.

I said on Thursday’s show I believed the O’s had established themselves as the second best team in the AL behind the A’s. For me, that changed when the Tigers added Price. The Orioles are a very good baseball team that has an opportunity to win a division and get to the postseason-but I can’t fathom how they could beat those other teams in a playoff series.

I would have felt differently had they added Jon Lester, even if it had cost them Chris Davis. I don’t know what the equivalent would have been for Jonny Gomes to add on to the deal, but I’d imagine they’d have to find a way to use Steve Pearce and Delmon Young regularly to try to make up for Davis’ production.

So would you have done it? Would you have parted ways with Chris Davis in order to add Jon Lester for two months? I would have and would have felt good about my chances of pursuing a World Series title.

We’ll talk about it Friday morning.

-G

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Orioles can prove to be beasts of East by surviving West Coast

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Orioles can prove to be beasts of East by surviving West Coast

Posted on 18 July 2014 by Luke Jones

Sitting in first place at the All-Star break for the first time since 1997 didn’t exactly earn the Orioles any favors as they started the second half of the season in Oakland on Friday night.

A 10-game West Coast trip against the two teams with the best records in the majors and the second wild card leader in the American League probably gave manager Buck Showalter a restless night or two over this week’s respite. Knowing the Orioles play their next 23 games against clubs with winning records — not to mention the six following that against teams with .500 marks at the break — likely made him lose even more sleep.

Of course, Showalter and the Orioles have every right to feel good about themselves after winning 25 of their last 40 to move to 10 games above .500 and turn a 4 1/2-game deficit into a four-game lead over that stretch. They’ve built themselves a small cushion in a division in which no one is without sizable warts and imperfections with Toronto and New York seemingly moving in the wrong direction and Boston and Tampa Bay being mostly bad all season.

No, the trip to the West Coast will neither break nor make the Orioles’ chances of winning their first American League East title since 1997, but those 10 games allow them an opportunity to flex their muscles as a man amongst boys in an underwhelming division. Holding their own in Oakland, Anaheim, and Seattle — even going 5-5 — would not only keep the Orioles in first place but allow them to return home in late July in prime position to continue their quest to a second postseason appearance in the last three years.

A strong showing against the imposing AL West over the next couple weeks could be the difference between a relatively comfortable journey to October and needing to scratch and claw over the final two months of the regular season. In the same way that the Orioles took advantage of the recent struggles of the Blue Jays, the rest of the AL East will be rooting for Baltimore to wilt before finally returning to Camden Yards on July 29.

A starting rotation that’s pitched to a 3.18 ERA over its last 33 games will now face the two highest-scoring offenses in baseball over the next six contests. It was a 1-6 run against the Athletics and the Angels earlier this month that saw the Blue Jays’ one-game lead in the division turn into a 2 1/2-game deficit by the time they left the West Coast.

Even with the daunting stretch staring them in the face, the Orioles couldn’t ask for better timing as they’ll feel more rested now than they will at any point over the rest of the season. Aside from the current ankle injury to starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez — which many critics would deem a blessing anyway — the Orioles are as healthy as they’ve been at any point during the first half of the season.

Showalter has set up his rotation to include the 23-year-old Kevin Gausman — who could finally be with the Orioles for good — and will be looking for his starting pitchers to pick up where they left off to close the first half. And he’ll hope the inconsistent offense — currently ranked seventh in the AL in runs scored — will finally hit its stride and struggling first baseman Chris Davis starts looking more like the force he was a year ago and less like the .199 hitter who was lost at the plate for the first 3 1/2 months of the season.

By no means was it a perfect first half for the first-place Orioles as they lost catcher Matt Wieters for the season and saw their $50 million investment in Jimenez lead the majors in walks, but Baltimore was the least flawed of anyone in the division and still appears that way beginning the most difficult road trip of the season.

The Orioles can use these next 10 games to flex their muscles as the clear favorite in the division and solidify their first-place standing or could see themselves fall back with the rest of the imperfect pack in the AL East.

They’ve grown accustomed to being the hunter over the last three seasons; it will be interesting to see how they start the second half as the hunted after four days off to think about it.

By no means is it do or die, but the West Coast trip will be an opportunity for the Orioles to stake their claim as the overwhelming favorite in the division while sampling what they could see again in October.

 

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Aiming high only way to go if Orioles want to add starting pitching

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Aiming high only way to go if Orioles want to add starting pitching

Posted on 16 July 2014 by Luke Jones

You can never have too much starting pitching, and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has repeated that sentiment despite the Orioles enjoying a four-game lead in the American League East at the All-Star break.

The Orioles rank fifth in the American League in pitching and 11th in starting pitching, but unlike the last couple seasons in which they were often desperately looking for just a warm body or two to add to the mix, the starting rotation appears to be moving in the right direction. Even with the season-long struggles of the injured Ubaldo Jimenez, the starting pitching has posted a 3.18 ERA over the last 33 games spanning 198 innings, lowering the starting pitching ERA from 4.61 to 4.09 since June 9.

No one will mistake this rotation for the 1971 Orioles, but Duquette should be picky in any quest to add starting pitching between now and the trade deadline at the end of the month. Wondering whether the club has the quality to compete with the front end of other playoff rotations in October is fair, but the upside of Kevin Gausman and even the second-half track record of Jimenez — who has been dominant for stretches of his career when his mechanics are in order — will be worth monitoring down the stretch with an eye toward the postseason.

Even if the Orioles still lack top-half quality, they have more stability in their rotation than they’ve enjoyed in a long time.

Manager Buck Showalter has used just seven starting pitchers all year with one of them — lefty reliever T.J. McFarland — receiving only one start. In 2013, 14 different pitchers made starts and 10 made at least four starts. The year before that, 12 different hurlers made starts with 10 making at least four starts.

Stability — with relatively decent health — has afforded Duquette the luxury of not needing to look for the likes of Scott Feldman, Joe Saunders, Jair Jurrjens, and Freddy Garcia on this year’s market. That’s what made the recent news of the Orioles scouting Colorado lefty Jorge De La Rosa that much more perplexing as he doesn’t represent an apparent upgrade over anyone — including Jimenez — in the current rotation with his 4.56 ERA in 2014 and 4.69 career mark.

The Orioles have also been linked to San Diego’s Ian Kennedy, who has posted a 3.47 ERA in 20 starts, but he’s a career 3.94 ERA pitcher who’s spent most of his career in the National League. The Padres will likely be asking for a lot for the right-hander, and Duquette shouldn’t part ways with the precious few top prospects he has unless he’s positive he’s gaining a substantial upgrade. Kennedy may provide that, but his talent level should only be the baseline at which the Orioles are looking at this point.

More so than even in 2013 or 2012, the Orioles have plenty of quality when it comes to filling out the back of the rotation. They have an abundance of No. 4 and No. 5 starters.

An injury or two could obviously change that tune quickly, but Duquette must aim high if the Orioles are to add starting pitching between now and the end of the July. Jeff Samardzija has already been dealt to Oakland and David Price may not be traded at all — and they probably don’t have the freight to acquire the AL East pitcher, anyway — but those are the types of arms to be examining.

Anything less is just a waste of time and resources.

Standing pat at catcher

Many have asked about the possibility of the Orioles adding another catcher to the mix as Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley have handled the workload since Matt Wieters underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery, but Duquette has said on several occasions that they’re unlikely to make another move in that department.

Boston officially released A.J. Pierzynski on Wednesday, but the Orioles don’t view him as a significant upgrade offensively — the 37-year-old posted just a .633 on-base plus slugging percentage with the Red Sox — to compromise the rapport Joseph and Hundley have built with the pitching staff and the defensive work they’ve displayed over the better part of two months. And that’s not even mentioning Pierzynski’s outspoken personality that could potentially compromise a strong clubhouse.

Hundley has come on lately with the bat, raising his average to a respectable .250, while Joseph has posted a .690 OPS since the beginning of June and had a solid offensive track record in the minor leagues despite his current .187 average. Neither will fool you as quality offensive catchers, but trying to add an impact backstop while bringing him up to speed with the pitching staff will be extremely difficult.

If the Orioles are looking for an offensive boost, they could take another extended look at Steve Clevenger, but Showalter is going to value defensive work behind the plate and the current duo — particularly Joseph — has done an admirable job in that department.

Left-handed bat still needed

The emergence of Steve Pearce has been one of the great stories of the 2014 season, but the Orioles shouldn’t assume the 31-year-old will continue to perform at a rate that warrants everyday playing time with no questions asked.

His .316 average, 11 home runs, and 31 runs batted in are a major reason why Baltimore currently sits in first place, but it’s still a stretch to expect his current .300 average and .846 OPS against right-handed pitching to continue. For his career, Pearce is hitting just .237 with a .667 OPS against right-handers and that’s including his amazing numbers this season.

In other words, a left-handed hitting outfielder that feasts against right-handed pitching should be a priority to add for the stretch as the only left-handed bats to make real contributions this season are Nick Markakis and the struggling Chris Davis. The speedy Lough has been a major disappointment at the plate, and the Orioles must anticipate the possibility of needing to platoon Pearce if he reverts to his career form.

Even if Pearce continues to thrive as an everyday player, the Orioles would benefit from a left-handed version of Delmon Young to come off the bench in the late innings as Lough and utility player Ryan Flaherty just don’t provide formidable options at the plate. The Orioles had looked into the services of Padres outfielder Seth Smith, who feasts against right-handed pitching, before he signed a two-year extension with San Diego earlier this month.

A player of that ilk would make perfect sense for the roster.

Pondering futures of Cruz and Davis

It’s incredible to think how much can change in a year as Orioles fans were clamoring for the organization to sign Davis to a long-term contract as he entered the All-Star break with 37 home runs last year and would go on to hit a franchise record 53 in 2013. Meanwhile, Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz was a couple weeks away from beginning a 50-game suspension stemming from his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.

A year later, Davis sits with a lowly .199 average at the break while Cruz has parlayed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Orioles into what looks like a pending lucrative payday as he’s second in the majors with 28 home runs and has often carried the Baltimore offense this year while Davis and others have struggled.

It’s interesting to see so many fans crushing Davis for his poor first half — that’s not to say criticism hasn’t been warranted — while screaming for the Orioles to sign the 34-year-old Cruz to a long-term contract when many of those same fans wanted to give Davis the keys to the city last offseason.

The Orioles will certainly make Cruz a qualifying offer after the season to at least recover a draft pick and should see if he’s willing to sign a short-term extension at a higher annual cost per year, but giving him more than two or three years at the most would be a mistake for an aging player coming off what looks to be his career year.

Davis’ future will be more interesting to figure out as he tries to rebound from a miserable first half and remains under team control through next season.

 

 

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Orioles 1B Davis nominated for ESPY Award

Posted on 25 June 2014 by WNST Staff

Peyton Manning, Floyd Mayweather, David Ortiz, Kevin Durant, LA Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Rafael Nadal, Miguel Cabrera, Serena Williams, Maya Moore are all nominees for The 2014 ESPYS, hosted by Grammy Award-winner, platinum selling recording artist and multi-faceted performer Drake

WHAT:

Initial list of nominees for The 2014 ESPYS presented by Capital One, hosted by Drake, are revealed and voting has begun.

Pardon the Interruption’s Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon will host The ESPY Nomination Special on Thursday, July 3, at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

WHEN:

Voting is underway and all categories will close when the live show starts Wednesday, July 16, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.

HOW:

Fans will determine the winners in most ESPYS categories by voting online at ESPN.com/ESPYS up to the start of The 2014 ESPYS.

2014 ESPYS FACTS & FIGURES:

  • “Best Male Athlete” has stiff competition this year, with NBA MVP Kevin Durant, MLB AL MVP Miguel Cabrera, NFL MVP Peyton Manning, and undefeated boxing champ, Floyd Mayweather, all vying to take home the honor for the first time.
  • LeBron James is after his third-straight and fifth-total win in “Best NBA Player.”  Five-time nominee Kevin Durant is angling to take his first.
  • The “Best Female Athlete” category showcases a collection of fresh faces this year.  WNBA star Maya Moore is the only returning nominee.  She is joined by the first female UFC champion, Ronda Rousey, the youngest Olympic slalom gold medalist, Mikaela Shiffrin, and the college basketball Player of the Year, Breanna Stewart.
  • The Connecticut women’s basketball team is in the hunt for their second “Best Team” award on the heels of a record ninth NCAA title.  The Huskies have been nominated seven times, but have not taken home the honor since 1996.
  • Novak Djokovic is chasing his third-straight “Best Male Tennis Player” award.  He is up against two fellow 2013 nominees, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal.
  • Floyd Mayweather is going for his fifth “Best Fighter” ESPY in seven years, and his third straight.
  • Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera is nominated for the second-straight year in both the “Best Male Athlete” and “Best MLB Player” categories.  He won the “Best MLB Player” award in 2013.
  • Ronda Rousey is the first UFC athlete, male or female, to be nominated for a “Best Athlete” award.   She is the first and current UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion.
  • Serena Williams is after her 7th “Best Female Tennis Player” award, and her second straight.

The ESPYS gather top celebrities from sports and entertainment to commemorate the past year in sports by recognizing major sports achievements, reliving unforgettable moments and saluting the leading performers and performances. The 2014 ESPYS marks the show’s 22nd telecast and will recognize both sport-specific achievements, such as “Best MLB Player” and “Best WNBA Player,” and best-in-sport winners, such as “Best Team” or “Best Female Athlete” that pit nominees from different sports against each other.  The ESPYS honor ESPN’s commitment to The V Foundation for Cancer Research, a partnership launched with the late Jim Valvano at the inaugural ESPYS in 1993.

The 2014 ESPYS Categories and Nominees

BEST MALE ATHLETE

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

  • First player in 19 years to win 2 straight AL MVP awards
  • Won 3rd consecutive batting title with career high .348 BA
  • 2nd in MLB with 44 HR and 137 RBI in leading Tigers to AL Central title

Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

  • NBA MVP
  • Averaged 32 points per game, highest scoring average since ’05-’06 season
  • Led the Thunder to a 59-23 record, second-best in the league, despite Russell Westbrook missing much of the season with injuries

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

  • Set records for most TD passes (55) and most passing yards (5,477) in a season
  • Threw for 400 yards and 2 TDs in AFC Championship win over Patriots
  • Won unprecedented fifth MVP award

Floyd Mayweather, Boxing

  • Cruised to a majority decision over Saul “Canelo” Alvarez
  • Won in a decision over Marcos Maidana, improving record to 46-0

 

BEST FEMALE ATHLETE

Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx

  • WNBA Finals MVP after averaging 20 points; 6 rebounds and 2.3 assists in leading Lynx to 3-game sweep over Atlanta
  • Led Lynx to league’s best record and finished third in scoring with 18.5 ppg

Ronda Rousey, UFC

  • UFC women’s bantamweight champ
  • Defeated Sara McMann in a TKO and Miesha Tate by submission

Mikaela Shiffrin, Olympic Skiing

  • At 18, became the youngest winner, male or female, of Olympic slalom gold medal
  • First American woman to earn a slalom medal of any color since Barbara Cochran won gold at the 1972 Sapporo Olympics

Breanna Stewart, Connecticut Women’s Basketball

  • Naismith Trophy winner and AP’s National Player of the Year
  • Final 4 Most Outstanding Player for 2nd time
  • Averaged 19.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists in leading Huskies to 40-0 record and NCAA title

 

BEST CHAMPIONSHIP PERFORMANCE

Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion

  • 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion
  • Won 7 races in 2013, including 2 during the Chase for the Sprint Cup

Kawhi Leonard, NBA Finals MVP

  • Led San Antonio to a 5-game victory over Miami, averaging 17.8 points and 6.4 rebounds on 61% shooting
  • Exploded in the last 3 games, scoring 71 points on 24-for-35 shooting

Shabazz Napier, Men’s NCAA Tournament MOP

  • Had 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists in leading 7th seeded UConn over Kentucky in NCAA Tournament final
  • Named Final 4 Most Outstanding Player

David Ortiz, World Series MVP

  • Had .668 BA, .760 OBP with 2 HRs and 6 RBIs during the World Series
  • Led Red Sox to victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in 6 games

 

BEST BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETE

Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles

  • Threw 27 TDs to only 2 INTs, leading the NFL with 119.2 QB rating
  • Tied an NFL record with 7 TD passes in a game in Week 9 matchup with Raiders

Damian Lillard, Portland Trailblazers

  • Averaged 20.7 ppg and 5.6 apg in making his first NBA All-Star team
  • Closed out the Rockets with a dramatic, buzzer beating three pointer in Game 6 Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks

Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks

  • Led NFL with 8 INTs
  • Tipped pass in the end zone in NFC Championship led Seattle to Super Bowl

Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees

  • Began the season with a 6-0 start, compiling a 2.17 ERA during that stretch
  • 2nd pitcher in the league to reach 10 wins this season

 

BEST UPSET

Connecticut wins National Championship, NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

  • First No. 7 seed to win tournament (only No. 8 Villanova in 1985 was lower)
  • Trailed St. Joseph’s by 3 with 40 seconds left in opening game
  • Defeated top-seeded Florida (ending Gators’ 30-game winning streak) in Final 4

Mercer over Duke, NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

  • 14th-seeded Mercer beat 3rd-seeded Duke 78-71 in the 1st round
  • Jabari Parker’s team knocked out in one of the biggest upsets of the tournament

Chris Weidman over Anderson Silva, UFC 162

  • Weidman handed Silva his first UFC loss with a knockout in the 2nd round
  • Silva had previously defended his title a record 10 times

 

BEST GAME

Alabama vs. Auburn, Iron Bowl

  • Auburn’s Chris Davis returned a missed 57-yard FG 109 yards on the final play to upset undefeated Alabama 34-28, sending Auburn to the SEC Championship
  • Auburn tied the game on a 39-yard touchdown pass from Nick Marshall to Sammie Coates with 32 seconds left after Auburn blocked a field-goal attempt

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Indianapolis Colts, AFC Wild Card Playoff

  • Indianapolis trailed 38-10 in the third quarter before rallying to win, 45-44
  • Andrew Luck threw for 3 TDs and ran for a TD on a fumble recovery in the 2nd half

New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings, Stanley Cup Finals Game 5

  • Kings secured the Stanley Cup in a tense 3-2 win in double OT
  • Alec Martinez scored the winning goal after more than 94 minutes of action

 

BEST TEAM

Boston Red Sox, MLB

  • Defeated St. Louis in 6 games to win their third World Series since 2004
  • Tied for the best record (97-65) in MLB with the Cardinals during the regular season

Connecticut Women’s Basketball

  • Finished 40-0 for its 5th undefeated season
  • Won its record 9th NCAA championship by routing previously unbeaten Notre Dame

Florida State Football

  • Won national title with 14-0 record, defeating Auburn 34-31 in BCS title game
  • Average margin of victory was 39.5 points per game (second in scoring at 51.6 ppg and first in points allowed at 12.1)

Los Angeles Kings, NHL

  • • Won 3 consecutive 7-game series to make the Stanley Cup Finals
  • • Defeated the Rangers in 5 to claim their 2nd Stanley Cup championship in 3 years
  • • Their 26 playoff games were the most ever for a Stanley Cup champion

San Antonio Spurs, NBA

  • • Defeated the Miami Heat in 5 games to win their 5th NBA championship
  • • Finished the regular season with a league-best 62-20 record

Seattle Seahawks, NFL

  • Won Super Bowl with a 43-8 win over the Denver Broncos
  • Had the best record in the NFC at 13-3, tied with Denver for best in the NFL
  • No. 1-ranked defensive team, allowing only 14.4 points and 273.6 yards per game

 

BEST COACH/MANAGER

Geno Auriemma, Connecticut Women’s Basketball

  • Huskies finished 40-0 for his 5th undefeated season, routing Notre Dame, also unbeaten, in the final
  • Broke a tie with Pat Summitt with his record 9th NCAA championship

Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks

  • Led Seahawks to first Super Bowl title, dominating Denver 43-8
  • Had No. 1-ranked defense, allowing only 14.4 points and 273.6 yards per game

John Farrell, Boston Red Sox

  • In his first season as Boston’s manager, led the Red Sox to a World Series title
  • Managed Boston to an AL best 97-65 record a year after team finished last in AL East at 69-93

Kevin Ollie, Connecticut Men’s Basketball

  • 2nd year head coach led UConn to NCAA championship, defeating top-ranked Florida in Final 4 and Kentucky in title game
  • First No. 7 seed to win the tournament (Only Villanova, at No. 8 in 1985, was a lower seed to win)

Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs

  • Led Spurs to a league-best 62-20 record and their 5th NBA championship
  • Won his 3rd Coach of the Year award

 

BEST COMEBACK ATHLETE

Josh Beckett, LA Dodgers

  • After missing most of the 2013 season with a nerve condition, Beckett returned to throw a no-hitter in May 2014, the first of the season and his career
  • The oldest pitcher (34) to throw a no-hitter since Randy Johnson in 2004

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Playing 80 games for the first time since the 2009-2010 season, Crosby led the NHL with 104 points and is a finalist for the Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP)
  • Led Team Canada to gold at the Sochi Olympics

Dominic Moore, NY Rangers

  • Moore made an inspiring return to the ice this season after taking 18 months off to care for his ailing wife and mourn her passing
  • Scored the game-winning goal in game 6 of the Rangers East Conference Final against the Canadiens, sending New York to the Stanley Cup

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Missed two months after re-injuring his knee in December, but returned to help the Thunder finish with a 59-23 record and the #2 seed in the West
  • First person to average at least 26 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds in the playoffs since Oscar Robertson in 1964

 

BEST INTERNATIONAL ATHLETE

Rafael Nadal, Tennis

  • Won his 13th and 14th Grand Slam singles titles at the 2013 U.S. Open and 2014 French Open
  • Won 10 ATP tournaments in 2013, with match record of 75-7

Inbee Park, Women’s Golf

  • Became the fourth woman in LPGA history to win three majors in a year, winning all three consecutively
  • Finished 2013 ranked No. 1 after 6 LPGA tournaments

Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal/Real Madrid

  • Won FIFA’s Ballon d’Or Award as World Player of the Year
  • Star forward for Portugal and Real Madrid scored 66 goals in 56 games in 2013

Sebastian Vettel, Formula One

  • The German won fourth straight Formula One championship
  • Won his final 9 races in 2013 to equal the 9 consecutive wins of Alberto Ascari
  • Won 13 races in 2013, matching Michael Schumacher’s record

 

BEST NFL PLAYER

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs

  • •Had 1,980 yards from scrimmage
  • •Scored 19 total TD’s (12 rushing, 7 receiving)

Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers MLB

  • Broke the NFL record for most tackles in a single game with a 26-tackle performance against the New Orleans Saints
  • Won the 2013 AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

  • Set records for most TD passes (55) and most passing yards (5,477) in a season
  • Led Denver to 13-3 record, best in AFC and tied with Seattle for best in NFL
  • Won fifth MVP award

LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles

  • •Won the NFL rushing title with 1,607 yards, despite playing only 15 games
  • •Also the all-purpose yards leader with 2,146
  • •Set Eagles records for most rushing yards and most yards from scrimmage

Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks QB

  • Led the Seahawks to a decisive 43-8 Super Bowl win over the Broncos
  • Guided Seattle to a 13-3 record, tied with Denver for best in the NFL
  • 1st player in Super Bowl era to post a 100+ passer rating in 1st 2 seasons

 

BEST MLB PLAYER

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

  • First player to win 2 straight AL MVP awards in 19 years
  • Won 3rd consecutive batting title with career high .348 BA
  • Tied his high in homers with 44 and knocked in 137 runs, both second in MLB

Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles

  • Led the majors with career-highs in homers (53) and RBIs (138)
  • Third player in history (after Babe Ruth and Albert Belle) with 50 HRs and 40 doubles in a season
  • Second in majors with .634 slugging percentage

Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Won his second NL Cy Young Award in 3 years
  • His 1.83 ERA was the lowest in the majors in 13 years
  • Had 16-9 record

Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers

  • AL Cy Young Award winner with 21-3 record and 2.90 ERA
  • Only 20-game winner in majors in 2013
  • Second in MLB with 240 strikeouts !

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

  • Led the AL in runs (109) for second straight year
  • Led AL in walks (110), second in OBP (.432) and third in batting (.323)
  • Second in AL MVP voting for second straight year

 

BEST NHL PLAYER

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Led NHL with 104 points, 17 more than his closest contender
  • Led NHL in assists with 68

Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks

  • Finished 2nd in the league in points with 87
  • Led Ducks to their first finish atop the Western Conference in franchise history, as well as franchise records for wins (54) and points (116)

Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings

  • •Led the Kings with 70 points in the regular season
  • •Scored a league-high 26 points in the playoffs, helping the Kings secure their 2nd championship in 3 years

Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

  • Propelled the Rangers through the postseason with a .928 save percentage
  • Recorded 33 wins and a .920 save percentage on the season

Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

  • •A dominant presence in the playoffs, scoring 4 game-winning goals and leading the Blackhawks to the Western Conference Finals
  • •Had 68 points in the regular season, 28 goals and 40 assists

 

BEST DRIVER

Scott Dixon, IndyCar

  • 2013 IndyCar Series champion (his third title)
  • Won 4 races in 2013

Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR

  • Won the 2014 Daytona 500
  • Won 2014 Pocono; his first time since 2004 to win two or more races in a season

John Force, NHRA

  • Won his 16th NHRA Funny Car Championship at age 64
  • Amassed 4 wins, 5 runner-up finishes, and 6 No. 1 qualifying positions in his championship run

Ryan Hunter-Reay, IndyCar

  • Won 2014 Indianapolis 500
  • First American to win the Indy 500 since 2006

Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR

  • 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup; champion
  • At 38, he’s the youngest driver to win 6 titles, beating Richard Petty by 83 days
  • Won 7 races in 2013, including 2 during the Chase for the Sprint Cup;, the Daytona 500 and NASCAR Sprint All-Star race

 

BEST NBA PLAYER

Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

  • NBA MVP led the league in scoring with 32 ppg while shooting 50% from the field
  • Durant surpassed Michael Jordan’s record for most consecutive games scoring at least 25 points with 41

Blake Griffin, LA Clippers

  • From January 20 to March 26, Griffin recorded 20+ points for a franchise-record 31 straight games
  • Led the Clippers with 24 points per game

LeBron James, Miami Heat

  • Averaged 27 points per game while shooting 57% from the field
  • Became the youngest player in NBA history to score 4000 playoff points

Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

  • NBA Defensive Player of the Year
  • 2nd straight All-Star selection

 

BEST WNBA PLAYER

Elena Delle Donne, Chicago Sky

  • Unanimous winner of 2013 Rookie of the Year
  • Fourth in the league in scoring (18.1 ppg), fifth in blocked shots (1.8 bpg) as she helped Chicago make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history

Angel McCoughtry, Atlanta Dream

  • Led WNBA in scoring for second straight season (21.5 ppg)
  • Led The Dream to the WNBA Finals

Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx

  • Finals MVP after averaging 20 points, 6 rebounds and 2.3 assists in leading Lynx to 3-game sweep
  • Third in the league in scoring at 18.5 ppg

Candace Parker, LA Sparks

  • 2013 MVP (her second)
  • Ranked fourth in blocks (1.84 bpg), sixth in scoring (17.9 ppg), seventh in rebounding (8.7 rpg) and 12th in assists (career-high 3.8 apg)

 

BEST FIGHTER

Jon “Bones” Jones, MMA

  • Defended his Light Heavyweight title with wins at UFC 165 & 172
  • Won the toughest fight of his career vs. Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165

Floyd Mayweather, Boxing

  • Cruised to a majority decision over Saul “Canelo” Alvarez
  • Improved record to 46-0 with a decisive win over Marcos Maidana

Manny Pacquiao, Boxing

  • Retook WBO welterweight title with a decisive win over Timothy Bradley in the rematch of their highly disputed 2012 fight
  • Beat Brandon Rios to take vacant WBO International welterweight title

Ronda Rousey, MMA

  • Defended title as UFC women’s bantamweight champ
  • Defeated Sara McMann in a TKO and Miesha Tate by submission

Andre Ward, Boxing

  • Defeated Edwin Rodriguez to bring his record to 27-0
  • Ward dominated Rodriguez, winning by unanimous decision

 

BEST MALE GOLFER

Martin Kaymer

  • •Won the 2014 US Open
  • Set a US Open record for lowest 36-hole score at 130

Adam Scott

  • Won the 2013 PGA Grand Slam of Golf
  • Won the 2013 Australian Masters

Henrik Stenson

  • Won twice in his final three 2013 PGA Tour events to win the FedEx Cup
  • Finished No. 2 on the 2013 PGA Tour money list ($6,388,230)

Bubba Watson

  • Won the 2014 Masters, his 2nd Masters title
  • Earned his 5th career PGA Tour victory at the 2014 Northern Trust Open

 

BEST FEMALE GOLFER

Stacy Lewis

  • Won her second career LPGA major at the 2013 Women’s British Open
  • Won 3 LPGA tournaments in 2013

Inbee Park

  • 4th woman in LPGA history to win 3 majors in a year
  • Finished 2013 ranked No. 1 after winning 6 LPGA tournaments
  • 2013 LPGA money leader with $2,456,619

Suzann Pettersen

  • Won her 2nd career LPGA major with a 2-stroke victory at the Evian Championship
  • Won 4 LPGA tournaments in 2013

Michelle Wie

  • Won her 1st career LPGA major at the 2014 US Women’s Open at Pinehurst
  • Won the 2014 LPGA Lotte Championship

 

BEST MALE TENNIS PLAYER

Novak Djokovic

  • Won 7 ATP tournaments in 2013, with a match record of 74-9
  • Finished 2013 ranked No. 2

Andy Murray

  • Captured his second Grand Slam singles championship by defeating Novak Djokovic in straight sets at Wimbledon
  • Won 4 ATP tournaments in 2013

Rafael Nadal

  • Won his 14th Grand Slam singles title at the 2014 French Open, his 5th-straight French Open win and 9th overall
  • Won the 2013 US Open
  • Won 10 ATP tournaments in 2013, with match record of 75-7

 

BEST FEMALE TENNIS PLAYER

Li Na

  • Won the 2014 Australian Open
  • Defeated Dominka Cibulkova in straight sets in the final

Agnieszka Radwanska

  • Made her first BNP Paribas Open final
  • Made the Semifinals at the 2014 Australian Open

Maria Sharapova

  • •Won the 2014 French Open in a highly regarded final match against Simona Halep
  • •Her 3rd consecutive French Open Final and her 2nd French Open Victory

Serena Williams

  • 2013 U.S. Open win was her 17th Grand Slam singles title
  • Finished 2013 ranked No. 1 after winning 11 WTA tournaments, having a 78-4 record, and earning $12,385,572

 

BEST MALE COLLEGE ATHLETE

Johnny Gaudreau, Boston College Hockey

  • Won the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s top player
  • Highest point total in the last 11 seasons with 80 points (36 goals, 44 assists)
  • Tied a Hockey East conference by scoring in 31 straight games

Doug McDermott, Creighton Basketball

  • Won Wooden, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and AP player of the year
  • Led country in scoring, averaging 26.7 points
  • Shot 52.6% from the field, including 44.9% on 3-pointers

David Taylor, Penn State Wrestling

  • Helped Penn State win its 4th consecutive NCAA team title by shutting out Oklahoma State’s Tyler Caldwell 6-0 in the 165-pound final
  • Named the NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Wrestler and won the NCAA’s Most Dominant Wrestler Award
  • Went 34-0 in winning his second national championship

Lyle Thompson, Albany Lacrosse

  • Shared the 2014 Tewaaraton Award with his brother, Miles, first to ever share the award and the first Native Americans to win it (its name honors the Native American roots of the sport)
  • Scored 128 points on the season (51 goals, 77 assists), shattering the previous record of 114

Jameis Winston, Florida State Football

  • Second freshman to win Heisman Trophy; at 19, first teenager to win it
  • Led FSU to BCS title with 14-0 record
  • Threw for 4,057 yards (10.6 yards per attempt) and 40 TD passes, completing 66.9% of his passes (257-of-384). Intercepted 10 times

 

BEST FEMALE COLLEGE ATHLETE

Morgan Brian, Virginia Soccer

  • Won the 2013 Hermann Trophy as the best female collegiate soccer player
  • Led the ACC in scoring (46 points) with 16 goals and 14 assists
  • Helped Virginia to No. 1 ranking most of the season before it lost to eventual champ UCLA on penalty kicks in the semifinals

Taylor Cummings, Maryland Lacrosse

  • •Guided her team to the NCAA championship title, scoring 3 goals in the final and winning MVP of the tournament
  • •Won the 2014 Tewaaraton Award, the first sophomore to ever do it
  • •Led her team with 63 goals

Breanna Stewart, Connecticut Basketball

  • Naismith Trophy winner and AP’s National Player of the Year
  • Final 4 Most Outstanding Player for 2nd time
  • Averaged 19.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists in leading Huskies to 40-0 record and NCAA title

Micha Hancock, Penn State Volleyball

  • •Led PSU to the NCAA championship title with her excellent service game
  • •Named MOP of the NCAA tournament

Hannah Rogers, Florida Softball

  • •Pitched her team to victory in the NCAA women’s softball world series, going 7-0 in the tournament
  • Named MOP of the tournament

 

BEST MALE ACTION SPORTS ATHLETE

Grant Baker, Surfing

  • •Overall title on the 2013/2014 Big Wave World Tour; he won two of three events
  • •Won the Surfline Best Overall Performance Award

Tucker Hibbert, Snowmobile

  • •Won 7th straight X Games SnoCross gold medal
  • •Won ISOC Pro Open championship, including 15 of 17 finals in 2013/2014
  • •Broke career record for national Pro-class snocross victories (84); now has 95
  • •Won ISOC Pro Open championship, his 8th such title

Nyjah Huston, Skateboarding

  • X Games Los Angeles 2013 & X Games Austin 2014 Skateboard Street Gold
  • •1st, Street League 2013 series points
  • •1st, Street League Los Angeles in May 2014; 1st, Tampa Pro in March 2014

Ryan Villopoto, Motocross/Supercross

  • •Won the 2013 AMA Motocross title
  • •Captured the his 4th straight AMA Supercross crown, winning 7 of 17 rounds

David Wise, Halfpipe Skiing

  • •X Games Aspen 2014 Ski SuperPipe gold
  • •Olympic gold medal in ski halfpipe

 

BEST FEMALE ACTION SPORTS ATHLETE

Jamie Anderson, Snowboard Slopestyle

  • •Olympic gold medal in snowboard slopestyle
  • •X Games Aspen 2014 SBD Slopestyle silver
  • •1st overall for slopestyle, World Snowboard Tour

Maddie Bowman, Freestyle Skiing

  • •X Games Aspen 2014 Ski SuperPipe gold
  • •Olympic gold medal in ski halfpipe
  • •2014 Association of Freesking Professionals halfpipe champ
  • •1st, 2013 Dew Tour superpipe comp

Kelly Clark, Snowboard Superpipe & Halfpipe

  • •X Games Aspen 2014 SBD SuperPipe gold—her 12th X Games medal, women’s career record
  • •Halfpipe bronze at Sochi Games, her third Olympic halfpipe medal
  • •1st overall for halfpipe, World Snowboard Tour

Vicki Golden, Moto Racing

  • •X Games Los Angeles 2013 Women’s Racing gold, her third straight
  • •XG LA 2013 Best Whip bronze; The first woman to compete against men in X Games Moto X

Carissa Moore, Surfing

  • • Overall title, 2013 ASP Women’s World Championship Tour (surfing)

 

BEST JOCKEY

Javier Castellano

  • Voted Eclipse Award as top jockey in 2013
  • Led all jockeys with 362 wins (in 1,617 starts) and earnings of $26,213,507 in 2013
  • Finished in the top 3 54% of the time

Victor Espinoza

  • The jockey for California Chrome
  • Won the 2014 Kentucky Derby and the 2014 Preakness Stakes

Joel Rosario

  • Won the 2014 Belmont Stakes

Mike Smith

  • Currently in 4th place for total winnings ($6,379,380), despite starting in far fewer races than his competitors

 

BEST MALE ATHLETE WITH A DISABILITY

Mark Bathum, Alpine Skiing

  • Won two silver medals at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in the men’s visually impaired super-G and super combined with his guide Cade Yamamoto
  • Excelled in the speed disciplines all season long, winning all three downhill and all four super-G races he entered

Declan Farmer, Sled Hockey

  • The 16-year-old helped USA win gold at the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics
  • Voted Best Male Athlete of the 2014 Winter Paralympics
  • Scored two goals and had an assist in Team USA’s 3-0 win against Canada to secure a spot in the gold medal game versus Russia

Raymond Martin, Wheelchair Racing

  • The first man to win five gold medals at an IPC Athletics Championships as he won the men’s T52 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1500 meter races
  • Swept the same five events at the U.S. Paralympics Track & Field National Championships
  • Named the USOC’s 2013 Male Paralympic athlete of the year

Mike Shea, Snowboarding

  • Won the silver medal in the first-ever men’s Paralympic snowboard cross event at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games
  • Won the first ever overall World Cup title

Evan Strong, Snowboarding

  • Won the first-ever gold medal in the men’s Paralympic snowboard cross event at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games
  • Picked up victories at the 2014 National Championships, the World Cup La Molina and the World Cup Copper Mountain

 

BEST FEMALE ATHLETE WITH A DISABILITY

Minda Dentler, Handcyclist

  • Became the first woman in history to officially complete the World Championship

Kona Ironman

  • Won the 2013 NYC Marathon in the women’s hand cycle division

Oksana Masters, Sitting Skier

  • Won the first U.S. women’s Paralympic cross-country medal in 20 years with her silver medal win in the 12km sitting event at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games
  • Also won bronze in the women’s 5km cross-country sitting event

Tatyana McFadden, Sitting Skier/Track & Field

  • Won a silver medal in the women’s 1km cross-country sprint event in Sochi
  • In 2013, she became the first athlete to win four major world marathons in a single year and six world titles at the IPC Athletics World Championships
  • Won the 2014 London and Boston Marathons

Laurie Stephens, Alpine Monoskier

  • Won two bronze medals in women’s alpine skiing at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games
  • Took 1st in the slalom and giant slalom at the 2014 US Paralympics National Championships
  • Won women’s sitting Overall World Cup Speed Globe

Jamie Whitmore, Para-cycling

  • Won gold medals and set world records in the time trial and pursuit events at the 2014 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships
  • Took first place in the road race at the 2014 UCI World Cup in Italy
  • Undefeated in competition at the 2013 Road World Cup series and the 2013 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships

 

BEST BOWLER

Jason Belmonte

  • 2012-13 Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year
  • Won 2 titles, including the USBC Masters, his first major
  • Led 2013 PBA Tour in points

Wes Malott

  • Won 2013 U.S. Open
  • Second highest scoring average (228.09) on 2013 PBA Tour
  • Second on tour in points

Sean Rash

  • Led 2013 PBA Tour in earnings ($248,317)
  • Cashed in tour-high 22 times (in 30 events)
  • Third on tour in points

Pete Weber

  • Won the 2013 USBC Senior Masters
  • Runner up for 2013 Player of the Year

 

BEST MLS PLAYER

Tim Cahill, New York Red Bulls

  • Red Bulls MVP, led team with 11 goals, 5 of them game-winners
  • Named an MLS Best XI selection and All-Star
  • Set record for fastest goal in MLS history, scoring in 7 seconds against Houston

Marco Di Vaio, Montreal Impact

  • With 20 goals in 2013, the striker led team to first playoff appearance
  • Third in MLS MVP voting

Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy

  • Striker led Galaxy with 16 goals and 11 assists in just 23 regular-season games in 2013 to help team to fifth straight postseason appearance
  • Only player in league with double figures in goals and assists
  • Second in MLS MVP voting

Mike Magee, Chicago Fire

  • 2013 MLS MVP
  • After being traded from Galaxy to the Fire he posted 15 goals to finish with 21, second in league

 

BEST MALE U.S. OLYMPIC ATHLETE

Joss Christensen, Slopestyle Skiing

  • Won gold in slopestyle skiing and led U.S. to only its third podium sweep in Winter Olympics history
  • Last slopestyle skier named to U.S. Team, first run in the finals produced a 95.80

Sage Kotsenburg, Snowboard Slopestyle

  • Won gold in snowboard slopestyle
  • His first run in finals ended with a 93.50 score that held up

Ted Ligety, Alpine Skier

  • Won the giant slalom at the Sochi Games with a dominating performance
  • Finished his 2 runs in 2:45.29, 0.48 seconds faster than the runner-up
  • Became the first American man to win 2 Olympic gold medals in Alpine skiing

Charlie White, Ice Dancing

  • Won Gold at Sochi in Ice Dancing with partner Meryl Davis
  • First Americans ever to win the Olympic Gold in Ice Dancing

David Wise, Halfpipe Skiing

  • Won the first Olympic ski halfpipe contest
  • Scored a 92 on his first run

 

BEST FEMALE U.S. OLYMPIC ATHLETE

Jamie Anderson, Snowboard Slopestyle

  • Won gold in the first Olympic slopestyle snowboarding competition
  • Down to her last trip in the final, she soared to victory with a near flawless run to score 95.25, winning by 2.75

Maddie Bowman, Halfpipe Skiing

  • Had the two best scores in the finals in winning gold
  • Scored 85.50 on her first run and 89.00 on her second

Meryl Davis, Ice Dancing

  • Won Gold at Sochi in Ice Dancing with partner Charlie White
  • First Americans ever to win the Olympic Gold in Ice Dancing

Kaitlyn Farrington, Snowboard Halfpipe

  • After qualifying 7th for finals, she scored upset to take the gold medal
  • A surprise champion; she was the last snowboarder named to the USA team

Mikaela Shiffrin, Alpine Skier

  • 18-year-old is the youngest ever Olympic slalom gold medal winner – male or female
  • First American woman to earn a slalom medal of any color since Barbara Cochran won gold at the 1972 Sapporo Olympics

 

BEST PLAY

Best Play will be voted on bracket-style

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Orioles option Clevenger to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for returning Davis

Posted on 27 May 2014 by Luke Jones

As expected, the Orioles activated first baseman Chris Davis from the paternity leave list prior to Tuesday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

What wasn’t expected was the decision to option catcher Steve Clevenger to Triple-A Norfolk in order to make room. The Orioles figured to option one of their three catchers on the 25-man roster following the Saturday acquisition of veteran Nick Hundley, but many assumed rookie Caleb Joseph would be sent back to the Tides.

Clevenger had been serving as the starting catcher with Matt Wieters on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow discomfort, but it appears that the 30-year-Hundley will now step into the primary starting role. Hundley is a career .238 hitter and provided the game-winning hit in the top of the 10th inning of Monday’s 7-6 win over Milwaukee.

Joseph is just 1-for-23 with the Orioles since being promoted earlier this month, but the 27-year-old is 4-for-10 throwing out runners attempting to steal. Never known as a strong defensive catcher in the minor leagues, Joseph has impressed manager Buck Showalter with his work behind the plate.

The right-handed-hitting Hundley is only a .199 career hitter against left-handed pitching, making it likely that Joseph will receive regular work against southpaw starters. This alignment would make more sense than Clevenger remaining with the Orioles since he doesn’t hit left-handed pitching well (a .128 career average).

Clevenger was hitting .243 with eight runs batted in and appeared to have the higher offensive upside, but Tuesday’s move appears to be the latest example of manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette going with the stronger defensive option in Joseph. However, it’s a tough sell convincing critics that Joseph’s edge in defense is greater than the discrepancy in offensive production between Clevenger and Joseph in Baltimore this season.

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It’s time to lower expectations on O’s

Posted on 23 May 2014 by Tony Wisniewski

Right now, the Orioles aren’t bad.  They aren’t good either.

By and large, they’re, shall we say, “Okay.”

With a lineup that features inconsistent contributions from guys like David Lough and Ryan Flaherty, and a bullpen that is starting to look like the train-wreck many feared coming into the season, it might be time to settle down on the notion that Baltimore will be featuring October baseball.

Prior to the start of the season, on paper, the Orioles looked like the next coming of Murder’s Row.  It didn’t seem out-of-reach to expect that there could be a run at team home run records.

Now, approaching the dog-days of summer, it’s ludicrous to believe that this Orioles lineup is any better than anything that the club featured through the early-to-mid 2000s.

Chris Davis hasn’t been Chris Davis of the last few years.  Perhaps it’s injury-related, maybe it’s the fact that he’s public-enemy-number-one when it comes to opposing pitchers and detailed scouting reports, but he hasn’t provided the production that this lineup needed.

Adam Jones hasn’t figured out patience.  Matt Wieters and Manny Machado are dealing with injury issues.  And JJ Hardy looks to have regressed back to his Minnesota days, when he became an afterthought in terms of a power-threat.

Realistically, if it weren’t for the resurgence of Nelson Cruz, this team would be floundering near the bottom of what’s turning out to be arguably the most mediocre division in baseball–what a difference a few years makes, eh?

It’s not unrealistic to expect that the Orioles will turn this thing around.  Given the parity in the AL East, this current crop of Birds is probably good enough to make a late-season run and steal the division.  But it’s hard to expect that something that radical will happen.

There are too many injury-questions and bullpen issues to expect anything other than a roller-coaster season. There are too many questions over role-players and which “just another guy” to trot out to left field each night to think that this team has any real shot at doing anything spectacular or out-of-the-ordinary in 2014.

Perhaps this is the new version of “Why Not” baseball.

Could the Orioles make a run, why not?  Could they finish 20-games below .500, why not?  Is it possible that they’ll continue to almost be good and almost be bad, depending on which night you watch them, why not?

Right now the Orioles are just okay.  Can that change?  Why not?

But just don’t expect too much.

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Struggling Orioles reliever Hunter lands on DL with groin injury

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Struggling Orioles reliever Hunter lands on DL with groin injury

Posted on 22 May 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — A week after surrendering the closer job due to his early-season struggles, Orioles relief pitcher Tommy Hunter was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left groin strain.

The right-hander said he suffered the strain while throwing prior to Wednesday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hunter was unavailable on Wednesday night and was replaced on the 25-man roster by right-hander Preston Guilmet, who had a brief stint with the Orioles earlier this month before being optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk on May 13.

“Anytime you do anything to move it around, it’s going to be sore,” Hunter said prior to Thursday’s series opener against the Cleveland Indians. “I shut it down as soon as it happened, so I went in and got treatment and showed up today.”

Hunter has a history of groin issues that dates back to his days with the Texas Rangers as the 27-year-old had a stint on the DL that lasted two months, but manager Buck Showalter is optimistic that the club was being proactive in shutting down the struggling reliever immediately to allow him to return quickly.

Named the Baltimore closer at the end of spring training, Hunter has a 6.06 earned run average and was 11-for-14 in converting save opportunities, but consecutive blown saves last week prompted Showalter to remove the hard-throwing pitcher from the role. Left-hander Zach Britton has converted the only situation the Orioles have had since Hunter blew a save against the Detroit Tigers on May 13.

It remains unclear whether the reliever will remain with the club for the next road trip or travel to Sarasota to continue treatment and rehab for the injury. Hunter made it known that the groin strain was not what was causing his struggles over the first two months of the season as he’s posted a 1.84 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) in 19 appearances spanning 16 1/3 innings.

“There is really no excuses for those [games], sorry,” Hunter said. “If that is what everyone is fishing for. I apologize.”

The 26-year-old Guilmet has appeared in two games for the Orioles this season, striking out three without allowing a run in 1 2/3 innings. Showalter was hopeful that Guilmet could provide some length out of the bullpen if necessary after Chris Tillman was knocked out in the second inning of Wednesday’s game at Pittsburgh.

Davis healthy and expecting

First baseman Chris Davis hopes to build on the momentum of Tuesday night’s three-homer performance in Pittsburgh and says the strained oblique that landed him on the 15-day DL in late April is no longer a factor as he tries to bounce back from a slow start to the 2014 season.

The 2013 All-Star selection quipped that his left elbow was hurting after being hit by a pitch on Wednesday, but his oblique has held up well since returning from the DL on May 11.

“The first couple of games I came back, I don’t want to say it was stiff, but it was almost like it was rusty,” Davis said. “I hadn’t done anything for a couple of weeks. But it hasn’t bothered me. There were a couple times this last series when I took some hard check swings, but stopping [my swing] was something that killed me. I didn’t feel it, so it’s good to know that it is behind me.”

Davis’ wife, Jill, is expecting the couple’s first child and is scheduled to be induced on Sunday morning, meaning the Orioles are planning for Davis to miss games on Sunday and Monday before rejoining the club in Milwaukee. Of course, that timetable would change if she goes into labor prior to then, and Davis will be placed on the paternity list, which allows a player to be removed from the roster for up to three days.

Infielders Jemile Weeks and Steve Lombardozzi are considered the prime candidates to take Davis’ place on the roster.

Santana making more progress

Veteran left-hander Johan Santana continues to impress in his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery as he threw 58 pitches in a four-inning outing in an extended spring training game.

Santana allowed one run on a home run and his velocity was once again in the upper 80s as his fastball was clocked as high as 90 miles per hour. Santana is expected to pitch in one more extended spring game before being assigned to pitch for an affiliate.

After signing the former two-time American League Cy Young Award winner in early March, the Orioles estimated that Santana would need until early June to continue rehabbing his surgically-repaired left shoulder, a timetable that appears to be very accurate as he continues making progress and increasing his velocity.

More baby news

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and his wife, Amy, welcomed a baby boy named Colt shortly after midnight on Thursday morning.

 

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Vintage Davis Breaks Through, Leads Team To 9-2 Victory

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Vintage Davis Breaks Through, Leads Team To 9-2 Victory

Posted on 21 May 2014 by Brandon Sacks

This season has just seemed off for Chris Davis.  We have not seen the same power from him that he has shown the past two seasons.  In 2012, he hit 33 home runs in 515 at bats, averaging a home run every 15.6 at bats.  In 2013, he posted career numbers, blasting 53 round trippers in 584 at bats, which averages to be one homer about every 11 at bats.  This year, he has only hit three home runs in 104 at bats.  A quarter of the way through the season, this is not what the fans had expected from the silver slugger.

Apparently Davis got the memo that he led the league in home runs last year and wasn’t anywhere close this year.  Davis teed up on the Pirates in the first game of the series, blasting three home runs on three consecutive at bats.  Just in case that was impressive enough, he did it on three different pitchers.  Davis is the first Oriole to have a 3 HR game since…himself.  His last three homer day came back on August 24, 2012 against the Blue Jays.  In one night, he was able to double the number of home runs he had on the year.  He drove in five of the Orioles runs on the way to the 9-2 thrashing of the Pirates.

Another bright side to the game is that Nelson Cruz drove in his 13th homer of the year.  The entire lineup contributed to the win, which included a Caleb Joseph bases loaded walk to break the 1-1 tie in the fourth inning to give the birds the lead that would stand for the rest of the game.  The birds have now scored 15 runs in their past two games.  Hopefully this is the sign that the team’s bats have finally started coming alive.  With strong bats combined with the recent success of the starting pitching, which has dramatically improved as of late.  Combined with the Masahiro Tanaka’s first loss as a major leaguer, the Orioles are now back on top of the AL East.

If the bats come alive with how well our pitchers have been doing, then there is no saying what this team is capable of doing.  Let’s hope this keeps up.

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Waiting the hardest part for Orioles’ slumbering offense

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Waiting the hardest part for Orioles’ slumbering offense

Posted on 19 May 2014 by Luke Jones

Memorial Day is rapidly approaching, which brings the unofficial end of the mantra uttered countless times to explain an Orioles offense that continues to sputter over the first seven weeks of the 2014 season.

“It’s still early” doesn’t fly anymore as the season has passed the quarter pole and Baltimore ranks 13th in runs, 12th in on-base percentage, ninth in home runs, and eighth in slugging percentage in the American League. Of course, the Orioles’ free-swinging tendencies and 10th-ranked on-base percentage from a season ago made it clear that the lineup had its flaws, but no one could forecast such a dramatic power outage from a club that led the majors in long balls and was fourth in the AL in runs during the 2013 season.

Save for free-agent acquisition Nelson Cruz, whose 12 home runs are twice the output of any other player on the roster, the Orioles’ power outage has been felt up and down the lineup.

Chris Davis has only three home runs in 30 games after hitting a club-record 53 a season ago. Since returning from a strained oblique on May 11, the first baseman is hitting just .179 and has been out in front of nearly everything, evident by his four groundouts to the right side in Sunday’s loss to Kansas City, instead of waiting to drive the ball the other way like he does when at his best.

J.J. Hardy is without a long ball after hitting 77 in his first three seasons in Baltimore. Early-season back and hamstring issues appear to be in the rear-view mirror, but the All-Star shortstop has yet to find his usual power stroke.

Manny Machado still hasn’t hit a double — he hit a league-leading 51 last year — and has only one home run in his first 73 plate appearances after starting the season on the 15-day disabled list and completing his recovery from offseason knee surgery. The 21-year-old deserves the benefit of the doubt after a seven-month recovery from last September’s injury, but his .240 average in the second half last year reminds us that the third baseman is far from a finished product even when healthy.

Injuries have impacted all three, but the likes of Adam Jones and Nick Markakis have also tailed off in the power department in comparison to their career averages. Of course, the order hasn’t been helped by the elbow injury to catcher Matt Wieters, who was off to the best offensivee start of his career prior to being placed on the disabled list earlier this month.

So, what is manager Buck Showalter to do?

Short of taking a closer look at alternative options at second base, catcher, and left field (or designated hitter if the Orioles elect to have Cruz play in the outfield), there isn’t much to be done except continuing to run the aforementioned players out there on a daily basis.

For some perspective, Davis hit only five homers through May 19 of the 2012 season before ultimately hitting 33, a reminder that a hot stretch or two would put any of these players back on a favorable pace in the power department. In Davis’ case, reaching 53 home runs was always going to be extremely difficult, but he’s still more than capable of posting big numbers in 2014 despite the slow start.

The club’s poor on-base percentage and inability to work counts are valid criticisms and a conscious effort should be made to enhance those areas, but only marginal improvement should be expected when you’re talking about veteran hitters who’ve carried a given approach — flawed as it may be — throughout their careers. Free swingers don’t suddenly transform themselves into selective hitters at the big-league level unless you want to stunt their biggest strengths in the process.

If Showalter wants to change the mindset of veterans who might be pressing, a shakeup of the order might be a simple way to rejuvenate a group clearly capable of much better. Here’s only one example of what could be done:

RF Markakis
DH Cruz
1B Davis
CF Jones
LF Delmon Young/Steve Pearce
C Steve Clevenger
3B Machado
SS Hardy
2B Jonathan Schoop

Such an order would provide Davis with a better on-base percentage option in front of him while also taking some pressure off Machado as he tries to get his 2014 season on track. Showalter also prefers keeping his lineup balanced with right-handed and left-handed hitters to make it more difficult for opposing managers to match up with their bullpen arms late in games.

This alignment would call for Young or Pearce to be in the lineup regularly, which is preferred if the Orioles are to continue carrying both on the 25-man roster. Neither has played much since Davis’ return from the DL.

Are those suggested changes dramatic? Of course not, but there is only so much you can try as a manager when so many core members of your lineup are sputtering. Staying the course sounds cliched, but it’s the only real choice in trusting that proven track records will ultimately prevail over the results of the first 42 games of the season — as concerning as they might be.

Hitting the “Lough” point

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