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Chapter 2: “Aparicio” means baseball to most people

Posted on 16 August 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

(Originally published in Sept. 2006 prior to the “Free The Birds” walkout, this is Part 2 of a 19 Chapter Series on how baseball and the Orioles berthed WNST)

What’s in a name anyway?

Not a week in any summer has gone by since I was born when somewhere, somebody wouldn’t ask me: “Hey, are you related to the ballplayer?” I honestly don’t know a life without that question. It’s been, by far, the most frequently asked question of my life.

When I was in Chicago working for Sporting News Radio, just pulling out my credit card would beg the question nearly 100% of the time.

It’s amazing what dropping the name of a baseball player will do in a town where baseball matters. For the most part, over the course of my lifetime the absolute biggest celebrities from Baltimore — aside from the occasional actor or TV newsperson — have always been Orioles players and this town has ALWAYS given them a pretty good deal, really.

There’s always been a job or a career or a door that could be opened if you played for the Orioles, kept your nose clean and treated the community with some respect and dignity.

And you didn’t need to be Brooks Robinson or Cal Ripken.

The number of ex-baseball players who settled here and made a nice life for themselves is too numerous to even recall. Willie Miranda. Boog Powell, Jim Palmer, Dick Hall, Mark Belanger, Terry Crowley, Al Bumbry, Mike Flanagan,

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Dear Zach Britton: We’ll forever salute you as Mister ‘What If?’ in Baltimore

Posted on 25 July 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

Dear Zach:

Your time has come to leave Angelos Island and trade in the orange and black for your most unlikely second MLB franchise – the Evil Empire and the pinstripes of the dreaded New York Yankees.

Instead of back in black, you’ll be back in blue next week.

Start spreading the news, you’re leaving today! And much like Manny Machado, this is very likely the road to City Y on the way to City X.

On the grandest stage and pitching into October – well, we think they’ll actually put you in the game in The Bronx – you’ll have a chance to throw your way back into something that looks like the contract you probably deserved after what you did here from 2014 through 2016.

I remember Don Stanhouse from my youth. I saw Gregg Olson drop deuces on 33rd Street into his prime. And I watched all of the rent-a-hats from Don Aase to Lee Smith to crazy-ass Randy Myers around here and you are the king of the firemen in the Charm City.

The closest thing I ever saw to Eckersley – and that’s high praise even if you’re not on the Red Sox charter!

No one ever did it better than you, Zach!

And I’m not holding my breathe to think we’ve ever going to see it again, late into summer nights, as Orioles fans with games on the line in money spots. The first thing we’ll need to see to ever replicate anything resembling you will be late-inning leads. And methinks there won’t be a lot of those in the pipeline in the coming years in Baltimore.

There are so many “what ifs?” around your dozen years with the Baltimore Orioles organization. I’m sure you were taking that all in – out in the bullpen for the final time on Tuesday night. Like Machado and Markakis and a few others of the modern era who “made it out” with big-time productivity and contracts with lots of zeroes, you remember the slums of Fort Lauderdale every spring and that time long ago when all the organization that drafted you did was finish in last place.

We do, too!

You were a part of changing that around here and we’ll forever salute you!

I remember your youth and promise. The whole Arrieta, Matusz, Tillman class of “growing the arms.” And now a decade later, we start to see the history of buying the bats.

Those of us who have been paying attention can easily piece together who is where, and why?

As much as the folks who watched you dazzle and become the most automatic finisher this side of the best of Eckersley in his prime, you will always be remembered – and tied to – Buck Showalter’s epic fail in Toronto in October 2016. It will forever be the black hole of modern day Orioles baseball – how a baseball genius left Ubaldo Jimenez on the hill and you in your prime on the pine at Skydome with the season on the line in extra innings.

As you kinda pointed out last week on your media exit tour, it’s still inexplicable and irreversible. It always will be, even for Buck.

It took the Baltimore Orioles 14 years to solve the Armando Benitez-Tony Fernandez bomb in 1997.

Who knows how long this current back in (the) black hole era will last? And who made who?

We’re just getting started around here with the coronation of Dillon Tate, Josh Rogers and Cody Carroll and the eight new baby Birds on the farm from this July haul and heist of the Dodgers and Yankees.

In the future, the Orioles will need dirty deeds done dirt cheap in the late innings.

Buck will fairly get his chunky and complex #DearOrioles letter later – and it certainly would be unfair to judge him solely on a pitch you never threw in Canada – but his story and yours are forever tied to Toronto and that fateful night. It’ll be the last time the Baltimore Orioles will have a chance to win a postseason MLB game for a long

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Gary Hill weighs in on the organizational changes of the Seattle Mariners

Posted on 13 October 2015 by WNST Staff

Seattle Mariners

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brian McRae discusses all things Kansas City Royals

Posted on 15 September 2015 by WNST Staff

Brian McRae

 

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Jones, Cruz, Wieters named American League All-Star starters

Posted on 06 July 2014 by WNST Staff

2014 All-Star Game Starters Announced

Jose Bautista Finishes as Baseball’s Leading Vote-Getter for Second Time in Four Years After Edging Out Fellow A.L. Outfielder Mike Trout; Troy Tulowitzki Tallies Highest Vote Total Among National Leaguers; Derek Jeter Earns Ninth Starting Assignment in Final Midsummer Classic; Adam Jones Surpasses Yoenis Cespedes for Final A.L. Outfield Spot

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, Major League Baseball’s leading vote-getter for the second time in four seasons (also 2011), and Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who led the National League in voting, will be among the starters in the 85th All-Star Game, to be played on Tuesday, July 15th at Target Field in Minnesota. The 2014 American League and National League All-Star Teams were unveiled earlier this evening during the “Taco Bell™ All-Star Selection Show” on ESPN.

Bautista, who finished with 5,859,019 votes, earns his fourth consecutive fan election and fifth All-Star selection overall. He is the 10th different A.L. outfielder in history to earn four straight fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson (four from 1972-75 and five from 1980-84); Dave Winfield (six from 1983-88); Rickey Henderson (four from 1985-88); and Kirby Puckett (four from 1992-95); as well as Ken Griffey, Jr. (10 from 1990-99); Manny Ramirez (eight from 1999-2006); Vladimir Guerrero (four from 2004-07); Ichiro Suzuki (four from 2001-04 and five from 2006-10); and Josh Hamilton (five from 2008-12). The Dominican Republic native, who also finished as the overall online vote leader, is the second player in Blue Jays franchise history to earn four fan-elected starts, joining Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar (1991-94). Bautista, the captain of the A.L. squad at the 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby, has reached base safely in 77 of his 82 starts this season entering play on Sunday. He leads the A.L. with a .423 on-base percentage and 60 walks, is seventh with 56 runs scored, eighth with a .529 slugging percentage and tied for 10th with 17 home runs.

Tulowitzki, now an All-Star for the fourth time in his career, totaled 5,349,456 votes, which was the third-highest total in the Majors. After also earning the fan election in 2013, he becomes the first N.L. shortstop to receive back-to-back starting assignments since Hanley Ramirez (2008-10). In addition, Tulowitzki is just the third player in Rockies history to earn multiple fan elections, joining Larry Walker (1997-99) and former teammate Todd Helton (2001-03). Tulowitzki, who will serve as the N.L. captain during the 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby, entered Sunday leading the Majors with a .350 batting average, .441 on-base percentage and 66 runs scored. In addition, he was second in the Majors with a .608 slugging percentage, second in the N.L. with 18 home runs, fourth with 172 total bases, fifth with a .343 batting average with runners in scoring position, tied for sixth with 29 multi-hit games and tied for eighth with 99 hits.

Tulowitzki’s A.L. counterpart will be New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who has now been elected to start by the fans nine times. Jeter, now a 14-time All-Star overall, garnered 3,928,422 votes to become the seventh player in A.L. history to earn at least nine fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr. (17 with Baltimore), George Brett (11 with Kansas City) and Rod Carew (nine with Minnesota); as well as Griffey (10 with Seattle); teammate Suzuki (nine with Seattle); and Ivan Rodriguez (nine with Texas). Jeter, who entered play on Sunday eighth on the all-time hit list with 3,397 hits, is one of three players in Major League history with at least 3,000 hits, 250 home runs and 350 stolen bases, along with Craig Biggio and Hall of Famer Henderson. In his final season, the future Hall of Famer is hitting .266 with 21 RBI and 28 runs scored.

Bautista is joined in the A.L. outfield by Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles. Trout tallied 5,559,705 votes, good for the second-highest total overall in the Majors, while Jones received 2,817,419 as he pulled ahead of Yoenis Cespedes (2,744,074) of the Oakland Athletics in the final week of balloting. Trout, now a three-time All-Star, earns his second straight fan election to become the fifth player in Angels history to receive consecutive fan-elected starts, joining Hall of Famers Carew (1979-84) and Jackson (1982-84), as well as Fred Lynn (1982-83) and Guerrero (2004-07). In 2013, Trout became the youngest A.L. position player to start a Midsummer Classic since Ivan Rodriguez in 1993. With his third All-Star selection, he becomes just the fourth A.L. outfielder in Major League history to receive three All-Star nods before his 23rd birthday, joining Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Al Kaline, as well as Griffey. For the second consecutive season, Trout has at least 15 home runs and at least 10 stolen bases before the All-Star break, joining his hitting coach Don Baylor (1978-79) as the only Angels to ever accomplish the feat in back-to-back seasons. Entering play today, Trout was batting .362 (51-for-141) over his last 36 games, and he had recorded 41 RBI over his last 46 contests. On the season, he ranks second in the A.L. with 48 extra-base hits, a .401 on-base percentage and a .606 slugging percentage, is third with 189 total bases, tied for third with 51 walks, fifth with five triples and 20 home runs, tied for fifth with 57 runs scored and tied for eighth with a .308 batting average.

Jones, selected to his fourth career Midsummer Classic, receives a starting assignment for the second consecutive season. He becomes the sixth player in Orioles history to earn multiple fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Frank Robinson (1970-71), Brooks Robinson (1971-74), Ripken (1984-87; 1989-2001) and Alomar (1996-98), as well as Boog Powell (1970-71). Jones is also the first O’s outfielder to garner consecutive fan elections since Frank Robinson and the first Orioles outfielder to make at least three consecutive All-Star squads since Robinson (1969-72). Jones, who hit .348 (39-for-112) with nine homers and 20 RBI in June, is batting .469 (15-for-32) over his nine-game hitting streak entering Sunday. He is second in the A.L. with 110 hits, tied for fifth with 32 multi-hit games and 180 total bases and seventh with a .309 batting average.

A trio of first-time starters fills the N.L. outfield, including reigning league Most Valuable PlayerAndrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who led the way with 4,519,440 votes. He is followed by Carlos Gomez (4,068,745) of the Milwaukee Brewers and Yasiel Puig (4,059,746) of the Los Angeles Dodgers. McCutchen, an All-Star for the fourth time, becomes the first Pirates player to win a fan election since outfielder Jason Bay in 2006. The 27-year-old McCutchen is also just the seventh player in Pirates history to garner a fan election, joining Bay, Barry Bonds (1992-93), Andy Van Slyke (1992-93), Dave Parker (1977-78, 1980-81), and Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente (1972) and Willie Stargell (1971-72). In addition, McCutchen is the first Pittsburgh player to be named an All-Star in four consecutive years since Clemente (1969-72). McCutchen, who has hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games entering play on Sunday, led all Major League players with 20 extra-base hits during the month of June, and he was the first Pirates player with 20 extra-base hits in one month since Brian Giles in June 2001. Coming into the day, he ranked first in the N.L. with 56 walks, second with a .423 on-base percentage, third with a .322 batting average, 42 extra-base hits and 175 total bases, tied for third with 104 hits and 26 doubles, fourth with a .542 slugging percentage and a .351 batting average with runners in scoring position, tied for fourth with 53 RBI and tied for sixth with 29 multi-hit games.

Gomez, an All-Star for the second consecutive season, joins teammate Ryan Braun (2008-11) as the only Brewers outfielders in franchise history to land a fan-elected starting assignment. Gomez, who posted a career-best and Milwaukee season-high 18-game hitting streak in June, started play today third in the N.L. with a .358 batting average with runners in scoring position, ninth with a .511 slugging percentage, tied for ninth with 162 total bases and 14 stolen bases and tied for 10th with 52 runs scored.

Puig, in his second Major League season, gives the Dodgers a fan-elected outfielder in the Midsummer Classic for the fourth time in the last five years, following the elections of Andre Ethier (2010) and Matt Kemp (2011-12). The Cuban native, who is the N.L. starting squad’s only first-time All-Star, entered Sunday tied for second in the N.L. with 30 multi-hit games, sixth with 164 total bases, seventh with a .393 on-base percentage and a .516 slugging percentage, and eighth with a .337 batting average with runners in scoring position and a .308 batting average overall. He becomes just the fifth different Cuban player to win a fan election, joining Hall of Famer Tony Perez (1970), Tony Oliva (1971), Bert Campaneris (1973-75) and Jose Canseco (1988-90, 1992, 1999).

Reigning two-time A.L. Most Valuable Player Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers led A.L. first basemen with 4,377,749 votes en route to his eighth All-Star selection and second fan-elected start following his fan election at third base a year ago. The Venezuelan native becomes just the fifth player in Tigers history to earn multiple fan-elected starting assignments at the Midsummer Classic, joining catchers Bill Freehan (1970, 1972), Lance Parrish (1984-86), Ivan Rodriguez (2004, 2006-07) and second baseman Lou Whitaker (1984-86). In addition, the 2012 Triple Crown winner joins former teammate Prince Fielder (2012) as the only fan-elected starting first basemen in Tigers history. Cabrera also becomes the first Tigers position player to be selected to the All-Star Game in five consecutive seasons since Whitaker (1983-87). Over the last eight seasons, eight different A.L. first basemen have won a fan election, including David Ortiz (2007), Kevin Youkilis (2008), Mark Teixeira (2009), Justin Morneau (2010), Adrian Gonzalez (2011), Fielder (2012) and Chris Davis (2013). Entering play today, Cabrera led the A.L. with 32 doubles, ranked second with a .370 batting average with runners in scoring position, third with 46 extra-base hits, fourth with 67 RBI, sixth with a .311 batting average and a .540 slugging percentage, seventh with 174 total bases and ninth with 100 hits.

Joining Cabrera on the right side of the A.L. infield is Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano, who will reunite with his former teammate Jeter up the middle. Cano, in his first season with Seattle, tallied 3,237,735 votes to secure his sixth All-Star selection and fifth consecutive fan election. He joins Hall of Famers Carew (six straight, 1970-75) and Alomar (five straight, 1996-2000) as the only second basemen in A.L. history to earn five straight fan elections. In addition, Cano joins Bret Boone (2001) as the only fan-elected starting second basemen in Mariners history, and he is just the fourth Seattle infielder overall to receive an election from the fans, joining Boone, John Olerud (1B, 2001) and former teammate Alex Rodriguez (SS, 1997-98; 2000). Cano entered play today leading the A.L. with a .373 batting average with runners in scoring position, tied for third with 33 multi-hit games, fourth with a .323 batting average overall, sixth with 104 hits and tied for sixth with a .383 on-base percentage. Since May 9th, Cano is batting .348 (65-for-187) with 31 runs scored, 14 doubles, five home runs and 32 RBI.

Rounding out the A.L. infield is Oakland Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson, who is the A.L. starting squad’s lone first-time All-Star. Donaldson received 3,684,820 votes to give the A’s, who entered play today with the best record in the Majors at 54-33 (.621), their first fan-elected starter since first baseman Jason Giambi in 2000. Donaldson becomes the first Oakland third baseman in team history to earn a fan-elected start, and he is the fifth different A.L. third baseman to win a fan election in the last five years, joining Evan Longoria (2010), Rodriguez (2011), Adrian Beltre (2012) and Cabrera (2013). Entering Sunday, Donaldson was third in the A.L. with 58 runs scored, sixth with 62 RBI and is tied for sixth with 19 home runs.

Joining Tulowitzki on the left side of the N.L. infield is Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who garnered 2,318,611 votes to produce his third All-Star selection and first fan-elected starting assignment. Ramirez becomes the first Brewer to win a starting job at the hot corner, and he joins second basemen Don Money (1978), Hall of Famer Paul Molitor (1980, 1988) and teammate Rickie Weeks (2011), as well as Hall of Fame shortstop Robin Yount (1982-83) and first baseman Fielder (2007, 2011) as the only infielders in Brewers history to win an election. The 36-year-old native of the Dominican Republic entered Sunday batting .286 with 11 home runs and 41 RBI on the season. Among N.L. third basemen, he was tied for fourth in home runs and tied for fifth in RBI.

On the right side of the N.L. infield, Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, now a two-time All-Star and fan-elected starter for the first time, joins veteran second baseman Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies, who makes his sixth trip to the Midsummer Classic, all of which have come via a fan election. Goldschmidt received 3,516,890 votes en route to becoming the first D-backs first baseman, and just the fourth player in franchise history, to earn a fan election. The other three to do so were second baseman Jay Bell (1999), third baseman Matt Williams (1999) and outfielder Luis Gonzalez (2001). Goldschmidt started play today leading the N.L. with 32 doubles and 48 extra-base hits, ranked second with 63 runs scored and 181 total bases, tied for second with 30 multi-hit games, third with 56 RBI and a .544 slugging percentage, tied for third with 50 walks, sixth with 102 hits and a .395 on-base percentage and tied for eighth with 15 home runs.

Utley, who won fan elections in each season from 2006-10, tallied 2,866,529 total votes. His six fan elections trail only Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt (9) for the most in Phillies history. Te only other N.L. second basemen to draw more All-Star starts are Utley’s manager Ryne Sandberg (9) and fellow Hall of Famer Joe Morgan (7). Utley began play on Sunday batting .287 on the season with six home runs, 40 RBI, 24 doubles and 46 runs scored. Utley, who picked up his 1,500th career hit last Sunday against Atlanta, leads all N.L. second basemen in doubles and extra-base hits (33).

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina received 3,842,434 votes to secure his sixth All-Star selection along with his fourth career and second consecutive fan-elected start. He joins Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith (12) and former teammate Albert Pujols (5) as the only players in Cardinals history to receive at least four fan-elected starting assignments. Molina has thrown out 17 of 34 runners attempting to steal this season for a N.L.-best .500 percentage. At the plate, the Puerto Rican native is batting .294 with seven home runs, 30 RBI, 15 doubles and 30 runs scored. With Molina’s election, the Cardinals have now had at least one player elected to start in each of the last six seasons (since 2009), marking the longest active streak in the N.L.

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters and designated hitter Nelson Cruz round out the starting A.L. squad, giving Baltimore a trio of fan-elected starters (along with Jones) for the second consecutive season (Davis, J.J. Hardy and Jones in 2013). It marks the first time since 1997 (Alomar, Ripken and Brady Anderson) and 1998 (Alomar, Ripken) that the O’s have had multiple fan-elected starters in back-to-backs seasons. Wieters collected 2,701,310 votes en route to his third All-Star selection and first fan-elected starting assignment. He becomes just the second Orioles backstop in franchise history to win a fan election, joining Terry Kennedy (1987). Wieters, who underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in June, batted .308 with five home runs and 18 RBI over 26 games played. He will be replaced in the starting lineup by the A.L. catcher elected to the All-Star Team via the Player Ballot.

Cruz received 3,942,138 votes to secure his third All-Star selection and first career fan-elected starting assignment. He becomes just the fifth different fan-elected starter at designated hitter in history, joining Edgar Martinez (1997, 2001, 2003), Canseco (1999), Ortiz (2005, 2008, 2011-13) and Guerrero (2010). Cruz entered play today tied for first in the Majors with 27 home runs and 70 RBI. His 27 home runs are currently third in Orioles franchise history before the All-Star break, trailing teammate Davis (37 in 2013) and Anderson (30 in 1996). Cruz also ranks second in the A.L. with 191 total bases, and fifth with a .581 slugging percentage and 43 extra-base hits.

With seven different N.L. teams represented among its eight starters (only Milwaukee has two), this marks the eighth time since fan balloting began in 1970 that the N.L. has as many as seven different teams represented among the starting position players. The other years in which it occurred include 1971, 1984, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2010. The N.L. has never had eight different teams represented among the eight positional leaders. With four different teams represented in the A.L. infield, the 85th All-Star Game will mark the first time since 2003, and the 19th time overall since fan balloting began in 1970, that the four A.L. fan-elected starting infielders come from four different teams.

There are eight foreign-born players among the 17 fan-elected starters, marking the third consecutive season that at least eight foreign-born players received a fan election. Last year, eight foreign-born players also won fan elections after nine received the honor in 2012.

MLB’s All-Star Balloting Program is the largest of its kind in professional sports. More than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots were distributed at the 30 Major League ballparks, each of which had 25 dates for balloting, and in approximately 100 Minor League ballparks. After the in-stadium phase of balloting concluded on Thursday, June 26th, fans still had the opportunity to cast their votes for starters exclusively online at MLB.com, the 30 Club Web sites and their mobile devices until Thursday, July 3rd at 11:59 p.m. (EDT).

Firestone, the official tire of MLB, was once again the exclusive sponsor of the 2014 In-Stadium All-Star Balloting Program. The ballot featured an All-Star sweepstakes, in which a winner will be rewarded with a trip for two to MLB All-Star Week, including airfare, hotel accommodations, tickets to the All-Star Game and other MLB All-Star Week events, and VIP on-field access to watch batting practice before the All-Star Game with an MLB legend.

The American League All-Star Team has nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the National League All-Star Team has eight fan-elected starters. The pitchers and reserves for both squads – totaling 25 for the N.L. and 24 for the A.L. – were determined through a combination of “Player Ballot” choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers – A.L. skipper John Farrell of the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox and N.L. manager Mike Matheny of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Fans can now begin to vote to select the final player for each League’s 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each League over a five-day period and the winners will be announced after the voting concludes on Thursday, July 10th. Now in its 13th season with more than 430 million votes cast, fans again will be able to make their Final Vote selections on MLB.com, Club sites and their mobile phones.

The final phase of All-Star Game voting again will have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and the 30 Club sites via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining this year’s recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15th. The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International’s independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

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Cruz, Wieters continue to lead All-Star voting at respective positions

Posted on 08 June 2014 by WNST Staff

Bautista takes overall American League lead in latest balloting update for 85th All-Star Game

Jeter, Ramirez in tight battle for start at shortstop; Bautista followed by Trout, Miguel Cabrera for overall league lead 

Toronto Blue Jays four-time All-Star Jose Bautista, who was Major League Baseball’s leading vote-getter for the 2011 All-Star Game in Arizona, has surpassed Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielder Mike Trout for the overall American League lead in the third balloting update for the 85thAll-Star Game, to be played on Tuesday, July 15th at Target Field in Minnesota. The latest A.L. results were announced earlier this evening on ESPN as part of its “Baseball Tonight” telecast. The third National League balloting results will be announced at 7:30 p.m. (ET) tomorrow night via press release and local rightsholder broadcasts.

Bautista, who has been a fan-elected starter in each of the last three seasons, has received 2,135,223 votes as he looks to become the 10th different A.L. outfielder in history to earn four consecutive fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson (four from 1972-75 and five from 1980-84); Dave Winfield (six from 1983-88); Rickey Henderson (four from 1985-88); and Kirby Puckett (four from 1992-95); as well as Ken Griffey, Jr. (10 from 1990-99); Manny Ramirez (eight from 1999-2006); Vladimir Guerrero (four from 2004-07); Ichiro Suzuki (four from 2001-04 and five from 2006-10); and Josh Hamilton (five from 2008-12). Bautista is also bidding to become the second player in Blue Jays history to receive four fan-elected starting nods, joining Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar (2B, 1991-94). Bautista, who has reached base safely in 61 of his 64 games, entered play on Sunday as the A.L. leader with a .438 on-base percentage and was tied for fifth in the league with 15 home runs.

Bautista is joined in the outfield by Trout, who has garnered 1,945,170 votes, and his Blue Jays teammate Melky Cabrera, who has totaled 1,096,784 votes. Trout, who last year at 21 years old became the youngest A.L. position player to start the All-Star Game since Ivan Rodriguez in 1993, is bidding to join Hall of Famer Rod Carew (1979-84), Fred Lynn (1982-83), Jackson (1982-84) and Guerrero (2004-07) as the only Angels in history to earn consecutive fan-elected starts. Entering Sunday, the 2012 A.L. Rookie of the Year had hits in 14 of his last 15 games and had reached base safely in 26 of his last 27 games. Cabrera, a 2012 N.L. All-Star, would become the fourth different Blue Jays outfielder in history to receive a fan election, joining Bautista, Joe Carter (1993-94) and George Bell (1987). Cabrera and Bautista are trying to become the first pair of Blue Jays to start a Midsummer Classic since 1994, when Alomar and Carter were elected to start by the fans. In addition, they would become the first pair of teammates to start in the A.L. outfield since Boston’s Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez in 2005, and it would mark the 17th All-Star Game in history to feature starting teammates in the A.L. outfield. Cabrera, who entered Sunday second in the Majors with 81 hits, is followed in balloting by Baltimore Orioles three-time All-Star and 2013 starter Adam Jones (820,336); 2011 A.L. All-Star Jacoby Ellsbury (813,357) of the New York Yankees; and Oakland Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes (799,123), bidding for his first All-Star selection.

At shortstop, 13-time A.L. All-Star Derek Jeter of the Yankees, who has garnered 1,376,054 votes, is trying to hold off Alexei Ramirez (1,212,362) of the Chicago White Sox in the A.L.’s closest race for a starting assignment. Jeter, who ranks eighth on the all-time hit list with 3,370 hits, is seeking his ninth fan election, which would make him the seventh player in A.L. history to earn as many fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr. (17 with Baltimore), George Brett (11 with Kansas City) and Carew (nine with Minnesota); as well as Griffey, Jr. (10 with Seattle); Suzuki (nine with Seattle); and Ivan Rodriguez (nine with Texas). Ramirez, who is attempting to become the first White Sox shortstop to make the All-Star Game since Ozzie Guillen in 1991, entered Sunday tied for the A.L. lead with 24 multi-hit games, tied for fourth with a .321 batting average and ranked fifth with 77 hits.

Joining Jeter up the middle at second base is his former teammate and five-time All-Star Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners. Cano, in his first year with Seattle, has accumulated 1,111,880 votes as he continues to lead three-time All-Star Ian Kinsler (887,544) of the Detroit Tigers and four-time All-Star Dustin Pedroia (778,700) of the Boston Red Sox. Cano, the A.L. starting second baseman in each of the last four seasons, is aiming to become the third second baseman in A.L. history to earn five consecutive fan-elected starts, joining Hall of Famers Carew (six straight, 1970-75) and Alomar (five straight, 1996-2000). Cano, who entered Sunday with an A.L.-best .332 batting average, would join Bret Boone (2001) as the only fan-elected starting second basemen in Mariners history. In addition, Cano, who was also tied for first in the A.L. with 24 multi-hit games and ranked seventh with 75 hits, could become just the fourth Seattle infielder to receive an election from the fans, joining Boone, John Olerud (1B, 2001) and Alex Rodriguez (SS, 1997-98; 2000). Since May 3rd, Cano leads the Majors with a .375 batting average, going 45-for-120 in that span.

Orioles designated hitter Nelson Cruz, who entered play on Sunday leading the Majors with 21 home runs and 55 RBI, continues to hold a slight advantage over David Ortiz of the Red Sox. Cruz, a two-time All-Star, has tallied 1,404,275 votes while Ortiz, a nine-time All-Star and seven-time fan-elected starter (including two at first base), has received a total of 1,036,055 votes. Entering Sunday, Cruz had hit safely in 20 of his last 24 games since May 13th, batting .364 (32-for-88) during that span with eight doubles, 11 homers, 19 runs scored and 25 RBI. He is attempting to end Ortiz’s run of three consecutive fan-elected starts at designated hitter, and would become just the fifth different fan-elected starter at the position, joining Edgar Martinez (1997, 2001, 2003), Jose Canseco (1999), Ortiz (2005, 2008, 2011-13) and Guerrero (2010).

At the corner infield spots, first baseman Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers and third baseman Josh Donaldson of the Athletics continue to lead at their positions. Cabrera has received 1,477,420 votes, which ranks third overall in the A.L., while Donaldson has collected 1,470,544 votes, good for fourth overall in the Junior Circuit. Cabrera, an eight-time All-Star and the A.L.’s 2013 starting third baseman, leads the A.L. with a .418 batting average with runners in scoring position. In addition, he entered play on Sunday second in the league with 51 RBI, tied for second with 20 doubles, tied for third with 31 extra-base hits, fourth with a .321 batting average and seventh with 125 total bases and a .545 slugging percentage. The reigning two-time A.L. MVP (also 2012) would become just the fifth player in Tigers history to earn multiple fan-elected starting assignments at the Midsummer Classic, joining catchers Bill Freehan (1970, 1972), Lance Parrish (1984-86), Ivan Rodriguez (2004, 2006-07) and second baseman Lou Whitaker (1984-86). In addition, the 2012 Triple Crown winner would join former teammate Prince Fielder as the only fan-elected starting first basemen in Tigers history. Cabrera is followed at first base by Chicago White Sox rookie Jose Abreu (845,059). Donaldson, in search of his first All-Star selection, is batting .296 (29-for-98) with 26 runs scored, two doubles, a triple, 10 home runs and 26 RBI over his last 26 games. He would become the first A’s third baseman to earn a fan-elected start, and the first Oakland player overall to receive a fan-election since first baseman Jason Giambi in 2000. Entering the day on Sunday, Donaldson leads the Majors with 51 runs scored, ranks third in the A.L. with 132 total bases, is tied for third with 50 RBI and 17 home runs, is sixth with 30 extra-base hits and is ninth with a .543 slugging percentage. He is followed at the hot corner by three-time All-Star Evan Longoria (729,092) of the Tampa Bay Rays. With four different teams currently represented in the A.L. infield, the 85th All-Star Game could mark the first time since 2003, and the 19th time overall since fan balloting began in 1970, that the four A.L. fan-elected starting infielders come from four different teams.

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters continues to pace the field behind the plate, drawing 1,235,369 votes to lead seven-time All-Star Brian McCann (827,200) of the Yankees and Athletics backstop Derek Norris (813,053). Wieters, a two-time All-Star, is seeking his first fan-elected start and would join Terry Kennedy (1987) as the only catchers in Orioles history to earn a fan election. Wieters, who is batting .308 with five home runs and 18 RBI on the season, is currently on the disabled list with a right elbow strain. Along with Cruz, the duo is aiming to give the Orioles multiple starters in consecutive years (Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones in 2013) for the first time since 1997 (Alomar, Ripken, Brady Anderson) and 1998 (Alomar, Ripken).

MLB’s All-Star Balloting Program is the largest of its kind in professional sports. The last two years represent the two highest totals in balloting history, including a record 40.2 million ballots cast in 2012. More than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots will be distributed at MLB’s 30 ballparks, each of which will have 23 dates for balloting.

In addition, fans around the world can cast their votes for starters 25 times exclusively at MLB.com and all 30 Club web sites – online or via their mobile devices – with the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian. The All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian is available in English and Spanish, and offers audio CAPTCHA functionality for visually-impaired fans. Banco BHD sponsors online All-Star balloting in the Dominican Republic, making Spanish-language ballots available to fans in the Dominican Republic via LasMayores.com, the official Spanish-language Web site of Major League Baseball.

Every Major League Club began its in-stadium balloting no later than May 12th. When the in-stadium phase of balloting concludes no later than June 26th, fans will have the opportunity to cast their ballots exclusively online at MLB.com, the 30 Club Web sites and their mobile devices until Thursday, July 3rd at 11:59 p.m. (EDT).

Firestone, the official tire of MLB, is once again the exclusive sponsor of the 2014 In-Stadium All-Star Balloting Program. The ballot features an All-Star sweepstakes, in which a winner will be rewarded with a trip for two to MLB All-Star Week, including airfare, hotel accommodations, tickets to the All-Star Game and other MLB All-Star Week events, and VIP on-field access to watch batting practice before the All-Star Game with an MLB legend.

For the sixth consecutive year, the ballot features the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans have the opportunity to select three players in each League who they would most like to see participate in the Home Run Derby. The Fan Poll is also available online at MLB.com. The 2014 Home Run Derby, part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day, will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 8:00 p.m. (ET)/7:00 p.m. (CT) on Monday, July 14th. The 10 American League candidates are Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays; Carlos Beltran of the New York Yankees; Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers; Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners; 2013 Home Run Derby Champion Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics; Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles; Prince Fielder of the Texas Rangers; All-Star Ambassador Joe Mauer of the Twins; David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox; and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The 10 National League candidates are Pedro Alvarez of the Pittsburgh Pirates; Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds; Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks; Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals; Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves; Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants; Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers; Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins; Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies; and David Wright of the New York Mets.

The 2014 American League and National League All-Star Teams will be unveiled on the 2014 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show during the weekend of July 5th-6th, with further details to follow.   The A.L. All-Star Team will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the N.L. All-Star Team will have eight fan-elected starters. The pitchers and reserves for both squads – totaling 25 for the N.L. and 24 for the A.L. – will be determined through a combination of “Player Ballot” choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers – N.L. skipper Mike Matheny of the St. Louis Cardinals and A.L. manager John Farrell of the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox.

Immediately following the announcement of the American League and National League All-Star rosters, fans will begin voting to select the final player for each League’s 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each League over the balloting period. Now in its 13th season with more than 430 million votes cast, fans again will be able to make their Final Vote selections on MLB.com, Club sites and their mobile phones.

This year’s final phase of All-Star Game voting again will have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and the 30 Club sites via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining this year’s recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15th. The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International’s independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

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Orioles don’t stand out in “ifs, coulds, and maybes” AL East division

Posted on 01 April 2013 by Luke Jones

From the moment catcher Matt Wieters grounded out to end Game 5 of the American League Division Series and the Orioles began setting their sights toward the 2013 season, the same question has been asked over and over.

Will they build upon the surprising success that resulted in their first postseason appearance in 15 years?

Regardless of what executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter try to tell you, it wasn’t a successful offseason. The stated goals of acquiring a middle-of-the-order bat and an established starting pitcher were never realized unless you count the minor-league signings of Jair Jurrjens and 36-year-old Freddy Garcia, who will each begin the year at Triple-A Norfolk.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the Orioles can’t and won’t compete in the AL East this season. Critics arguing that the Orioles won’t repeat their 29-9 record in one-run games and 16-2 mark in extra-inning affairs overlook the fact that the club was built to excel in late-and-close situations with a stellar bullpen and arguably the best tactician in the game with Showalter in the dugout.

That success rate will be very difficult to repeat, but the Orioles will point to last year’s injuries to Nick Markakis, Nolan Reimold, Jason Hammel, and Brian Roberts and the overall lack of progress by their young starting pitchers last year as evidence that they didn’t need a perfect set of circumstances to win a year ago. Better overall health for the aforementioned group as well as the emergence of just an arm or two from the likes of Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Dylan Bundy, and Kevin Gausman would do wonders in overcoming a more realistic record in games decided by one run.

“I like our guys” has been Showalter’s battle cry since the end of last season, and the Orioles will need to validate that feeling if they’re to break the 90-win mark for the second straight year. It’s difficult not to trust the Baltimore skipper after orchestrating a 24-game improvement from 2011 to 2012.

A core group of position players including Adam Jones, Wieters, Manny Machado, and Markakis as well as top pitching prospects Bundy and Gausman paint a very bright future in Baltimore in the years to come. The ceiling for the 2013 Orioles — and even more so in the next few years — is substantially higher than it’s been in a very long time.

This year’s AL East lacks Yankees and Red Sox teams — or even one of them — that will inevitably run away with the division crown. The parity existing top to bottom has made this race more difficult to forecast than any in recent memory.

Toronto appears to be the best on paper, but will a plethora of new additions mesh quickly or experience growing pains as many revamped teams often do?

Tampa Bay has more than enough starting pitching to offset the departure of James Shields, but will the Rays have enough offense to separate themselves?

The Yankees are old and banged up and the Red Sox are coming off their worst season in 47 years, but both clubs still have enough talent to hang in the division race with enough good fortune.

It’s a division full of ifs, coulds, and maybes everywhere you look, but there aren’t enough answers present to place the Orioles a cut above the rest.

The lineup has quality but not enough depth to overcome an injury or two, whereas the starting rotation has plenty of options but lacks the necessary quality to give you great confidence in the Orioles getting what they’ll need on the mound for 162 games.

Baltimore’s Opening Day order top to bottom is good enough to compete, but there’s little help waiting in the minors if the injury bug strikes virtually any position on the field. The club will depend on the return of Reimold and the continued development of Machado to offset the loss of power hitter Mark Reynolds for a club that finished ninth in the AL in runs score last season.

The starting rotation was in flux most of last season but was able to depend on Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, and a revamped Chris Tillman in the second half of the season. You have to wonder if Chen and Gonzalez can duplicate their rookie success with the book now out on how they work and it’s difficult to trust any other young pitchers to simply put it together after the underwhelming results of the past few years. Even Hammel, the de facto ace, doesn’t have a track record you’d like to see in a No. 1 starter. Any combination of hurlers put together by Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair feels too much like a group of third, fourth, and fifth starters.

The late-season arrival of Gausman or Bundy would spark plenty of excitement, but expecting either young pitcher to thrive in the thick of a pennant race is — again — asking a lot.

Lots of promise, but more questions than answers at this point.

A bullpen that competes with Tampa Bay to be the best in the division will again be asked to shoulder an extremely heavy load, but it’s difficult to demand Jim Johnson and his mates to do what they did last year in throwing more innings than all but two bullpends (Minnesota and Kansas City) in the American League. Johnson’s club-record 51 saves sent the 29-year-old to his first All-Star Game, but an underwhelming rate of 5.4 strikeouts per nine innings pitched strongly suggests the sinkerballer is in line to come back to the pack when pitching to contact so frequently as a closer.

The performance of relief pitchers is more difficult to project than any other position, with peaks and valleys consuming most careers like unpredictable investments on Wall Street.

The Orioles don’t have the lineup or starting rotation of the Blue Jays, but Toronto’s bullpen has plenty of uncertainty.

Baltimore’s lineup tops the Rays’ order, but the starting five doesn’t stack up to Tampa Bay’s rotation.

Ironically enough, the Orioles appear to match up well against the traditional heavyweights that beat the rest of the division like a drum for the better part of 15 years, but New York and Boston are no longer the class of the AL East.

The outlook of the division appears murky, with the Orioles having enough going for them to envision them at the top if all goes well but not enough to feel strongly about that possibility.

These questions have answers that are tough to predict as the Orioles aren’t terribly different from the rest of the division in that regard.

It could mean an AL East title or even a last-place finish if most of their questions fetch negative answers this season.

You could even draw the order of finish out of a hat if you’d like, which might be as accurate as any expert trying to look into a crystal ball.

My guess is the Orioles will fall somewhere in the middle, but that doesn’t mean anything as Showalter’s Orioles are used to hearing their critics doubt them.

And they know ifs, coulds, and maybes will only be answered on the diamond.

To view The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction 2013 MLB Predictions, click HERE.

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Orioles’ playoff destination comes down to final day of season

Posted on 03 October 2012 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 9:45 a.m.)

It all comes down to the final game of the season as the Orioles determine where they’ll begin their first postseason run in 15 years.

With races in the American League East and American League West yet to be decided, all eyes will be focused on what happens in St. Petersburg, the Bronx, and Oakland on Wednesday.

The scenarios are predictably simpler after Tuesday night’s action that included the Orioles’ 1-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees’ 4-3 extra-inning victory over Boston, and the Athletics’ 3-1 win over the Texas Rangers to force a tie in the AL West.

If the Orioles win Wednesday night:

Baltimore controls its own fate to at least host the wild card play-in game in the event of a win over the Rays in the regular-season finale on Wednesday night. However, the Orioles will pay close attention to what happens elsewhere.

A Yankees loss to Boston means the Orioles and New York would both finish 94-68 and tie for the top spot in the AL East. The two clubs would play a division tiebreaker game on Thursday in Baltimore due to the Orioles having a superior division record (the clubs were tied 9-9 in the season series this season). The winner in that game would be considered the division champion while the loser would host the wild card play-in game on Friday.

For those wondering where the Orioles would be seeded should they beat New York in a potential tiebreaker game, Baltimore would be the No. 2 seed behind the winner of Wednesday’s Oakland-Texas game since they both own the tiebreaker over the Orioles (the division tiebreaker game does not apply to seeding for the playoffs). This means the Orioles would play Game 1 of the Division Series at No. 3 seed Detroit on Saturday.

A loss to the Yankees in a potential tiebreaker game means the Orioles would still host the loser of Oakland-Texas in the wild card play-in game on Friday.

A New York win clinches the AL East for the Yankees and locks the Orioles into the top wild card spot. Baltimore would then welcome the loser of the Texas-Oakland game to Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the wild-card play-in game. A victory for New York would also mean the Yankees are the top seed and would face the winner of the wild card game in the American League Division Series, with Game 1 taking place Sunday at the winner of the play-in game.

The Athletics and Rangers each sit atop the AL West with a 93-68 record, meaning the winner of Wednesday afternoon’s game in Oakland is the division champion while the loser is assured of the second wild card spot.

If the Orioles lose Wednesday night:

A loss against the Rays locks the Orioles into the second wild card spot and means the Yankees win the AL East regardless of how they fare against Boston.The Orioles would go on the road Friday to play the loser of Wednesday’s Athletics-Rangers game, who would finish with the same record as Baltimore.

Both the Athletics and Rangers own head-to-head tiebreakers over the Orioles.

A Rangers win means the Athletics will host the Orioles while an Athletics victory means the Orioles would travel to Arlington for the wild card play-in game.

If the Yankees lose Wednesday night, an Orioles loss and an Oakland loss would still lock New York into the top seed in the American League since it owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rangers but not the Athletics.

Incredibly, Oakland would be the No. 1 seed in the American League with a win and a Yankees loss.

 

 

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Jones just behind Bautista in AL All-Star voting

Posted on 18 June 2012 by WNST Staff

FROM PRESS RELEASE:

Center fielder Adam Jones has jumped up to fourth place among American League outfielders. He is still the top-ranking vote-getter among Orioles players with 1,959,207 votes and is closing in on Toronto’s Jose Bautista (1,996,940 votes) for the final starting OF spot.

Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy are both in third place among their positions with 1,242,247 and 968,963 votes, respectively. Other Orioles in the running include Robert Andino, who is in fifth place among second basemen and Nick Markakis ranks 13th in the AL outfield race.

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Orioles among All-Star Game leading vote getters

Posted on 05 June 2012 by WNST Staff

(FROM PRESS RELEASE)

Several Orioles players dotted the leaderboard according to the voting results released Tuesday for this year’s All-Star Game selections. Center fielder Adam Jones is the top-ranking vote-getter among Orioles players with 857,543 votes and is in fifth place among outfielders. Matt Wieters is in second place among AL catchers with 713,469 votes.

Other Orioles in the running after the initial voting results were revealed include J.J. Hardy, who is third among shortstops and Robert Andino, who is in fourth place among second basemen. Nick Markakis ranks 12th in the AL outfield race.

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