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MLB Needs To End This All-Star Game Charade

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MLB Needs To End This All-Star Game Charade

Posted on 16 July 2014 by Peter Dilutis

Fast forward three months. Our Baltimore Orioles have made it to the World Series for the first time since 1983, matching up against the Atlanta Braves. It’s the situation that we all dream about when we’re kids playing catch in the backyard or taking batting practice on the neighborhood fields.

Game 7 of the World Series. Bottom of the 9th inning. Tied game. Bases loaded. Two outs. Full count. The fans are going absolutely bonkers. Baltimore is a ball four, walk, hit or error away from walking off with their first World Series win in 21 years.

And why is it they are in position to walk off with the win?

Because just three months earlier, Pat Neshek entered the All-Star Game, played at Target Field, home of the 44-50 Minnesota Twins, and gave up three runs to the American League, including a sacrifice fly from Jose Altuve, member of the 40-56 Houston Astros.

Wait…what?

It has absolutely nothing to do with what team had the better regular season record. Where the seventh game of the World Series is played has nothing to do with either of the teams participating in the series, unless of course members of those respective teams made an impact, positively or negatively, in the All-Star game.

Rather, representatives from all 30 teams, 20 of which will not make the postseason and 22 of which will not make it past the play-in games, determine where that legacy-defining Game 7 is played.

In what alternate universe does that make sense? You’re telling me that a bunch of millionaires in $25,000 suits got together, deliberated in a boardroom and came out with this solution?

Imagine if Luis Gonzalez’ hit over Derek Jeter’s glove in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series would have simply put the Diamondbacks up 3-2 rather than ending the game? What if history was re-written and that Game 7 had actually been played in New York? In 2001, the American League won the All-Star game. Under our current All-Star game rules, that legacy-defining game would have in fact been played at Yankee Stadium. How might that have changed the legacy of Derek Jeter? He could have six rings instead of five. Joe Torre would have another World Series under his belt. Even Mike Mussina could have a ring to display on his mantle had the location of the seventh game been switched to the Big Apple. Crazy stuff.

We’re talking about a game in which AL manager John Farrell admitted that his main objective was not to win, but to get as many players in the game as possible. And let’s be honest – why does John Farrell care who wins the game? His Boston Red Sox are 43-52, 9.5 games behind the Orioles and they’re more concerned with what kind of young haul they can get for Jon Lester at the deadline than what stadium they’re going to be playing in come October. We’re talking about a game in which Adam Wainwright admitted to grooving pitches right down 5th Avenue to leadoff man Derek Jeter in his final “farewell” All-Star Game sendoff. Jeter doubled in his first at bat and later scored. The American League went on to score three runs in the first inning.

Ultimately, they won the game by two runs, 5-3.

Had Adam Wainwright actually tried to pitch to Derek Jeter, the National League very well may have won the All-Star Game on Tuesday night, awarding them home field advantage in the 2014 World Series. Meaning, of course, that in my above scenario, a run would not walk the game off for the Orioles. Instead, the Atlanta Braves, or whoever their opponent would be in our dream scenario, would get one more at bat in the bottom of the inning with a chance to tie or win the game.

Hundreds of years from now, when all of us are dead and gone, the 2014 World Series winner will live in infamy in countless record books and libraries throughout the sports world. Legacies will be defined. Future contracts will be signed. Statues may very well be erected. Hall of Fame candidacy will be voted upon.

And all of that history could be changed in a flash – because of an All-Star Game played in July amongst members of all 30 MLB teams that served more as a spectacle and farewell tour to Derek Jeter than it did as a real game.

The NBA All-Star game is nothing more than a glorified dunk contest. Roger Goodell has threatened to put an end to the NFL Pro Bowl because the players just won’t take it seriously. And as we saw from Adam Wainwright on Tuesday night, major league baseball players don’t REALLY care about winning. Derek Jeter’s 4th inning moment yesterday was always going to more important than the end result of the game. Undoubtedly, more people know about that moment than know the end result of the game. The same thing happened last year at Citi Field when Mariano Rivera was paraded out in the 8th inning as Enter Sandman blasted over the speakers.

The All-Star Game is an entertainment spectacle. It is NOT a competitive game. Not even close.

By placing such a high importance on the result of a glorified exhibition game, Bud Selig and the powers that be within Major League Baseball are putting the integrity of this great game on the line. It may not seem like such a big deal right now. It’s hard to really understand the significance of something, whether we’re talking sports or life in general, until your life and/or interests are directly impacted.

But when you’re favorite baseball team is on the mound in the bottom of the 9th in Game 7 of the World Series, watching the opposing team walking off the field with a one run win in front of the home fans, perhaps you too will question the logic and integrity of the current All-Star Game format.

In the meantime, I guess all of us Orioles fans should be thankful that the American League won, right?

 

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Matt Wieters

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Matt Wieters Has Throwing Session, Sees Progress With Elbow

Posted on 31 May 2014 by Brandon Sacks

The Orioles have finally gotten a bit of good news to the club.  Amid a four game losing streak and some borderline atrocious play, there is finally something to smile about.  Matt Wieters, who has been on the DL since May 11, has finally picked up a baseball again.  He had his first throwing session down in Houston before the second game of the series against the Astros.

As you’ll probably remember, Wieters has had a problem with his throwing elbow, which led to some speculation about his ulnar collateral ligament and whether he would need Tommy John surgery to repair it.  There was word that he was receiving platelet rich plasma injections, which is what many pitchers receive in order to avoid the surgery.

It sounds like good news to have Wieters back to throwing.  He estimated that he threw about 25 pitches during the session and felt fine, which bodes well for his future.  It looks like he will be able to avoid Tommy John surgery, and he probably will be back to the Orioles sooner rather than later.

Right now, the birds could use anything to gain some momentum.  Since the second game against the Brewers, their bats have gone cold, putting up only five runs in the next three games.  Both of Wieters’ replacements, Nick Hundley and Caleb Joseph, have limited experience in the orange and black, but neither have done incredibly well at the plate.  Hundley is batting .214/.313/.214 in 16 plate appearances and Joseph is batting .040/.172/.040 in 30 plate appearances.  As a comparison, before being placed on the DL, Wieters was batting .308/.339/.500 in 112 plate appearances.  In other words, the Orioles are missing a solid bat in the lineup right now.

Hopefully, the return of Wieters will be exactly what the Orioles need to finally return to the offensive powerhouse that they should be.  Barring any future injuries, the Orioles would finally have the entire starting lineup together for the first time all year, which could be just what they need to push back to the top of the AL East.

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jason hammel

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Jason Hammel, Smoke In Mirrors?

Posted on 24 July 2013 by timjones60

How often does a team’s number one starter fall so far into the rotation that they are now that same teams number five. Not often but with the Orioles, it seems as if it’s almost an annual occurrence. Jake Arrieta, 2012’s opening day starter was projected to be the ace of the Orioles rotation in the 2012 season, but he was cursed by lack luster performances in which he was jettisoned out of the rotation to the bullpen and even bounced back and forth between Norfolk and the major league club. Now the Orioles seem to be in a similar boat with Jason Hammel.

Hammel is 7-7 after last night’s 3-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals. And as the 2013 season keeps moving along, it seems more and more that Jason Hammel is not the pitcher that we the Orioles faithful might have thought he was. After he went 8-6 in an injury plagued season, he showed signs of hope that the Orioles finally had their front of the line starter. He logged a career low 3.43 ERA last season and even had a complete game shutout. Now that Hammel has started 20 games this season (the same number of games he started last year) his numbers are inflated. Keep in mind he has only pitched one third of an inning less this season than last season, so the wear and tear on his arm isn’t all that different than where it was last season.

Hitters are clearly seeing the ball better against him with his hits up by 30 hits, he’s given up 23 more earned runs, and his strike outs are down dramatically. So maybe his numbers of 2012 were an aberration. His track record sure points to it.

With the impending trade deadline also around the corner, Hammel’s job may be on the line. The Orioles are still actively involved on the trade front even after making a splash by acquiring Scott Feldman and Francisco Rodriguez. Multiple reports have the birds interested in some of the Houston Astros starting pitchers including Bud Norris and yes Erik Bedard. If the Orioles make a move for either pitcher, I would not be surprised to see Jason Hammel be a piece in that trade, or be pushed back into the bullpen to accommodate the new starter. Either way, Jason Hammel is not who we thought he was.

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Possible Orioles Trade Targets (Part 3)

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Possible Orioles Trade Targets (Part 3)

Posted on 15 July 2013 by Brett Dickinson

As the All-Star festivities commence, the trade market will heat up.  Teams are set to buy, in order to push them to the top of their respective division.  For the first time since 1997, the Orioles are definitely considered contenders around the entire league.  As so, the stakes are higher to improve a roster that currently sits in third place in the AL East and 1.5 games out of the Wild Card race.

The best franchises over the past couple seasons were able to make the smart moves at the deadline, to propel them into the playoffs.  The Orioles do not have much to offer, as far as prospects go, but can package enough together to get some of the better trade options on the market. Now the Orioles will not risk their future, by trading away all of them, but a deal centered around one or two of their higher prospects is definitely a possibility for a team that is ready to win now.

This is the latest installment of Orioles trade options:

 

Jason Kubel (OF/1B/DH Arizona Diamondbacks)

The Diamondbacks are in contention in the NL West, so any deal will have to improve their chances to make the playoffs.  They have a surplus of OFs, especially since the return of up-and-comer, Adam Eaton. Finding at bats for Eaton, Kubel, A.J. Pollock, Gerardo Parra, Martin Prado and Eric Chavez, has been a challenge. Moving one would make sense to garner more offensive consistency.

Though Kubel is only batting .242 (with 5 HR and 27 RBI), he still has a respectable .321 OBP and .363 Slugging Percentage.  He is probably suffering from irregular playing time, with only 190 at bats (on pace for under 400 for the season). The Orioles could utilize his versatility in several roles, like added rest for Chris Davis and the OF, but would be mostly played at the DH.

With only one left-handed reliever on the roster, Arizona will look to add bullpen depth in any trade before the deadline.

Projected Trade: Troy Patton (LHP) to the Diamondbacks for Kubel.

 

Luke Gregerson (RHP San Diego Padres)

The Padres officially announced that they will be sellers in the coming weeks, as they are behind in the tightest division race in baseball.  They do have a sense of ‘being close’, so any move will need to benefit their chances in 2014.

Gregerson is having the best season out of anyone in San Diego’s bullpen, sporting a 2.93 ERA and 1.03 WHIP.  He also filled in as a closer for a couple weeks stint, while Huston Street was on the 15-Day DL.  He would benefit the Orioles as an added setup man and spot closer; giving the overworked combination of O’Day, Matusz and Johnson extra rest during the playoff run.

Projected Trade: Zach Britton (RHP) to the Padres for Gregerson.

 

Chris Carter (OF/1B/DH Houston Astros)

Like Kubel, Carter is valuable because of the versatility he would add to the Orioles roster.  The Astros are obviously in sell mode, with one of the worst records in baseball.  Carter is only 26 and having his best MLB season to date, after bouncing around the past couple of years.  Though he does not provide much in terms of average (batting .229), he does get on base, evident by his .326 OBP.

Carter has also become a power threat, with 18 HR’s in the middle of a bad lineup.  Handling duties at 1B, will give the Orioles a chance to rest Chris Davis more, without taking him out of the lineup and playing him in the DH spot.  He can also fill in the corner outfield positions as well, but is probably best suited to be an everyday DH.

Projected Trade: Jason Esposito (3B) and Oliver Drake (RHP) to the Astros for Carter.

 

Matt Garza (RHP Chicago Cubs)

Now this trade was visited a couple weeks ago, but the Orioles decided the price was too high and went with Scott Feldman instead.  But if Garza continues on his current pace, he has the look of a front of the rotation starter for a contending team. He has experience in the AL East and was successful in his time with the Rays.

He is a power arm and can be a stopper every fifth day.  If the Orioles decide they still need to upgrade the rotation, Garza may be their best option.  It will cost their No. 3 organizational prospect, Jonathan Schoop, and other pieces, but it is worth it in the end. The Orioles already have three 2B on the roster and with Flaherty, a player capable of holding the position for a couple seasons.

If the team is really ready to win, then making the move should be a simple decision. Baltimore could move Feldman to the bullpen or try to trade struggling, Jason Hammel, to clear a spot in the rotation.

Projected Trade: Jonathan Schoop (2B), Mike Wright (RHP) and Henry Urrutia (OF) to the Cubs for Garza.

*All Photos and stats courtesy of ESPN.com.*

 

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