Wednesday, March 27, 2013

MLB donates $10 million to Welcome Back Veterans

MLB will donate all proceeds from the sale of special caps to be worn on Memorial Day to Welcome Back Veterans.
Amid a planned reduction of 34,000 U.S. military troops in Afghanistan by next February, Major League Baseball on Monday announced an expansion of its efforts to help returning American veterans and their families with a new $10 million donation to Welcome Back Veterans.
Nearing the five-year anniversary of the apolitical organization's inception, this backing brings MLB's total commitment to Welcome Back Veterans to $23 million. Welcome Back Veterans is an initiative of MLB Charities and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, helping men and women make a successful transition to civilian life when their service to their country has ended. It is promoted annually on MLB's biggest stages, including the World Series.
Welcome Back Veterans uses this funding to provide grants to hospitals and clinics that provide post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment to veterans and their families in a public/private partnership with MLB Charities, the McCormick Foundation and Centers of Excellence at university hospitals throughout the country.
The McCormick Foundation will contribute a minimum of $2.5 million in addition to the $10 million donation from MLB. Currently, Welcome Back Veterans is funding programs at Weill Cornell in New York, the University of Michigan, Rush University Medical Center, Duke University, Emory University, UCLA and the Red Sox's Home Base Program at Mass General Hospital in Boston. These institutions are developing new programs and strategies to improve the quality, quantity and access to PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI) treatment for veterans, particularly those returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Major League Baseball considers it both a privilege and a responsibility to honor and assist our troops in any way we can," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "We are proud to support this initiative, and we ask our fans to join us on Memorial Day and beyond in this effort to raise awareness and funds for this important cause."
"We are grateful for Major League Baseball and the caring fans who have stepped up and given generously to support healthcare and research to help veterans successfully return to life with their families and communities," said David Hiller, president and CEO of the McCormick Foundation.
This season, in addition to wearing "Stars & Stripes" caps on the Fourth of July, all 30 clubs will wear specially designed caps on Memorial Day (May 27) featuring an authentic military digital camouflage design officially licensed from the U.S. Marine Corps. These New Era caps will be available for sale at the Shop and clubhouse stores, and MLB Advanced Media and MLB Properties will donate all net proceeds received from sales of the caps to Welcome Back Veterans as part of the overall $10 million donation.
"We as players are extremely proud not only to wear these caps but also to represent and pay our respects to our returning veterans," Mets third baseman David Wright, who comes from the naval community of Norfolk, Va., said at that introductory news conference announcing Welcome Back Veterans. "Growing up in a military town in Virginia, I have friends and family who have given up their lives to serve a cause. Because of these men and women, I get the opportunity to play a game and live in freedom. I hope we remember these veterans."
Welcome Back Veterans also addresses needs in partnership with the Entertainment Industry Foundation, with support from MLBAM and MLB Network.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Flagrant Fan: Nick Swisher - Ready to rock Cleveland

The Flagrant Fan: Nick Swisher - Ready to rock Cleveland: Nick Swisher is ready to rock Cleveland. After four quietly terrific seasons in New York, Swisher is now taking his laughter and baseball...

MLB's stars reveal what drives them to play

Cano, Harper among players featured in 2013 Opening Day campaign

I Play00:00:30
MLB's biggest stars reveal what they play for in a brand-new commercial for Opening Day
Justin Verlander plays "for the unhittable pitch." Mike Trout plays "for the history about to be written." Andrew McCutchen plays "to steal my way to the pennant."
Willie Mays played because "winning was important." Don Drysdale played because "I hate all hitters." Christy Mathewson played because "You can learn everything from defeat."
What is that one thing that has driven baseball players since the 1800s and drives them in this Major League Baseball regular season that begins Sunday night in Houston?
What is that one thing that kids everywhere will be playing for again this summer, when they drag the diamonds and an umpire shouts "Play Ball!" on a hot afternoon?
It is time to play "I Play" and find out.
MLB has launched a new campaign to usher in the 2013 season, showcasing the intensity and passion of the game's young stars while illustrating what drives them to succeed and highlighting their desire to lead their team to the postseason.
You can see the Opening Day spot right here on, featuring Robinson Cano, Carlos Gonzalez, Bryce Harper, Adam Jones, McCutchen, Buster Posey, David Price, Trout, Verlander and David Wright. Many more videos are on the way, and you'll see them on MLB Network, ESPN, FOX and TBS throughout the season.
"I am thrilled to be a part of Major League Baseball's Opening Day campaign," said McCutchen, the Pirates' All-Star center fielder. "As a player, as soon as the final pitch of the previous season is thrown, I am marking off the days until Opening Day on my calendar. Every time you walk into a ballpark on Opening Day, it feels like the first time you ever stepped onto that field. This campaign will really give everyone a sense of the excitement we as players feel."
Mariano Rivera plays "for title No. 28." Wright plays "to turn leather into gold." CarGo plays "for no regrets." Price plays "to turn K's into Ws."
Bob Feller played because "Every day is a new opportunity." Jackie Robinson played because "I hate to lose." Tom Seaver played "for the love of the game."
The first individual spots feature Cano (in Spanish, set to run on ESPN Deportes and FOX Sports en Espanol), Harper and McCutchen.
In each spot, the camera isolates on the player's face as his inner monologue provides a glimpse into reasons why each of them plays at such a high level to reach their goal of playing in October. Additional player-specific creative featuring some of the game's top young talent will roll out throughout the season.
"The desire to play in October drives every player to push himself and his team to new heights, and this new campaign captures and showcases that desire in a compelling new way," said MLB executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan. "These spots also illustrate the intense passion our young stars have for the game and the connection they feel to the cities they play in and the fans they play for."
Look for a companion campaign throughout social media as well, targeting fans who play or have played baseball or softball. You are encouraged to share photos and videos on social media along with the hashtag #IPlay, demonstrating as creatively as possible why you play the game. The most creative user-submitted stories already are being showcased on
Daniel Reader, a Giants fan in the Bay Area, tweeted this example: "#IPlay because out on the diamond it doesn't matter that I'm Deaf."
Harper plays "for nine guys playing as one." Posey plays "for three rings in four years." Cano plays "for Yankee pride."
Yogi Berra played because the game wasn't "over." Nellie Fox played because "you don't have to be big to be a big leaguer." Bob Uecker played because of "next time." Dave Winfield played because a ballplayer "can be the hero or the goat 162 times a year."

Monday, March 25, 2013

Joe Blogs: Poll time!

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Ichiro Suzuki in perpetual motion

Veteran OF flexible in more ways than one; he once pitched in a game
03/21/2013 10:30 AM ET
By Jack Curry

Ichiro is not only a legend on the baseball diamond, he's full of surprises.(AP)
TAMPA - Ichiro Suzuki was listening to my questions intently. At least that's what I wanted to believe. He nodded over and over as Allen Turner, his translator, told him my questions. He answered them quickly. We were talking about the Yankees' offense and Suzuki seemed engaged with the topic.
An interview with Suzuki can be an interesting experience. He might suddenly mention how he once pitched in a professional game in Japan 17 years ago, which is the curveball he tossed at me. We'll cover that compelling tidbit later, but Suzuki can be intriguing because he is in perpetual motion. He did a lengthy interview while doing a series of stretching experiences on the clubhouse carpet last October.
On this recent morning, Suzuki was sitting in a folding chair. But, as the conversation continued, he maneuvered his body so that his feet were planted on the seat and he was crouching like a catcher in the chair. Not only was Suzuki flexible enough to do this, and do it as easily as he snapped his fingers, he appeared quite comfortable.
When I asked Suzuki his preference in the Yankees' lineup, he smiled and said he would be satisfied in any spot "as long as it's not tenth." Before the Yankees acquired Suzuki from the Seattle Mariners last July, they told him he would have to be willing to hit in the bottom of the order and to play anywhere in the outfield. He accepted those parameters and hit .322 in 67 games.
"Last year, I came over and hit in many different spots in the lineup," Suzuki said. "That was a good experience. I wanted to be ready for anything. Not just in the lineup, but also in left field, center field or right field. I want to be prepared and do well."
While Suzuki has hit third several times this spring, manager Joe Girardi isn't expected to use him there this season. I thought the Yankees might use Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter and Suzuki as their first three batters and put Robinson Cano in the fourth spot, especially because the Yankees don't have an obvious cleanup batter. But Girardi dismissed that possibility. Girardi has hit Suzuki third in Florida as a way to make sure Suzuki gets enough at-bats. Cano is the best choice to hit third, but he's also the best candidate to hit fourth.
Wherever Cano hits, he will be the most lethal hitter in a revamped and leaner lineup. The Yankees belted 245 homers last season, but Cashman and Girardi have acknowledged that the 2013 Yankees will not have as much power. Of the Yankees' 10 leading home run hitters from 2012, eight won't be with them at the start of the season because they are playing elsewhere or they are injured. The Yankees won't be able to rely on the long ball to rescue them and will need to be a more creative offensive team.
Since Suzuki was with the Yankees for less than half a season and Gardner only had 31 at-bats last season, the Yankees are hoping those two players can combine to give their offense a boost. Home runs can cure a lot of headaches. Without as much power, the Yankees hope Suzuki and Gardner can combine to score 200 runs, steal 90 bases and create some headaches for opposing teams.  
"Home runs can change the momentum of the game," Suzuki said. "The Yankees had a team that did that and this franchise has been known for that. But you don't have to win games by 10 runs. You can win by one run. Baseball is so deep. There are many different ways to score runs."
And there are different ways to get outs, too. Seventeen years ago, that included using Suzuki as a pitcher. As Suzuki stressed how he would play any outfield spot for the Yankees, he added, "I played third base and pitched in Japan." I thought Suzuki was being playful about the pitching part, but he was serious. In fact, the evidence is on YouTube.
In the 1996 Japanese League All-Star Game, Suzuki was brought in to face Hideki Matsui and try to secure the final out for the Pacific League. As the thin-as-a-foul-pole Suzuki warmed up, he threw 90 mile per hour fastballs. Matsui watched from the on-deck circle, seemingly amused. But the manager of Matusi's Central League team wasn't amused. He thought that having Suzuki, an outfielder, pitch to Matsui was disrespectful to the game. So he inserted Shingo Takatsu, a pitcher, as a pinch-hitter for Matsui. Suzuki explained what happened next.
"One batter, groundout to shortstop, game over," he said.
Interview over, too. We weren't going to top that story.
Follow Jack Curry on Twitter: @JackCurryYES

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ryan Braun is “MLB’s Public Enemy No.1″

Mar 20, 2013, 8:47 AM EDT
Ryan Braun APAP
Bob Nightengale reports in USA Today about Major League Baseball’s efforts to investigate players named in the Biogenesis documents. Of somewhat surprising note: Nightengale says some 90 players appear in the records. Of less surprising note: it’s the big fish that MLB is clearly focusing on:Alex Rodriguez and, even more so, Ryan Braun:
There might be plenty of minor leaguers to go down before this is over, maybe a few major league players, too, but there are really two players who captivate MLB’s interest. New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and Braun. And Braun happens to be MLB’s Public Enemy No.1.
His successful appeal of a positive testosterone test led to major revisions in baseball’s sample collection process last year. Baseball officials, from the top executives in New York to their field investigators, refuse to let it go. They want Braun — badly. They have been relentless in their pursuit, trying to make life as miserable as possible for him.
Nightengale describes MLB investigators “talking to his friends … talking to his peers … talking to his associates. They are scouring through paperwork. They keep digging.”
Which, hey, that’s what you do when you investigate. And with all due respect to Braun and the players under the microscope, kudos to Major League Baseball if it is, in fact, trying to actually build cases against these guys rather than do the instantaneous judge/jury/executioner thing that so many in the media decided to do a day after the Miami New Times story came out.
But there is a troubling element to it. The biggest mistake of the Mitchell Report was how it was hellbent to get a list of names and make examples/token victims out of some while failing, almost entirely, to grasp what was really going on with PEDs in baseball in such a way as to actually combat their proliferation and use.  If, in this case, baseball has a monomaniacal focus on carrying out some vendetta against Braun and, because of it, fails to undertake a systematic investigation of the Biogenesis matter, it is once again going down the road of the Mitchell Report.
If Nightengale is right and there are 90 players named, there should be interviews and investigations of 90 players. Or, at the very least, investigations of enough of them to get a full picture of what’s going on down in Miami. The point should not be to settle some score with Ryan Braun. He should be meted out justice, if justice is so justified, in the same manner and measure as any other player involved.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Joe Blogs: Hochevar To The Bullpen

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Flagrant Fan: Allen Craig and his projections

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Fantasy Baseball: Tristan Cockcroft's Top 10 For 2013

Tristan Cockcroft discusses his top 10 for fantasy baseball in 2013.

2013 Fantasy: First Basemen

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2013 Fantasy: Second Basemen

ESPN fantasy analysts discuss the depth at second base this season and some potential sleepers.
February 19, 2013

2013 Fantasy: Shortstops

ESPN fantasy analysts discuss the depth at shortstop this season and potential sleepers.

The Flagrant Fan: Norichika Aoki - regression candidate?

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

2013 Fantasy: Outfielders

ESPN fantasy analysts discuss the top 10 outfielders and the depth of the position this season.
February 19, 2013

2013 Fantasy: Shortstops

ESPN fantasy analysts discuss the depth at shortstop this season and potential sleepers.

2013 Fantasy: Third Basemen

ESPN fantasy analysts discuss the top 10 at third base and who might rise this season.

2013 Fantasy: Third Basemen

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2013 Fantasy: Starting Pitchers

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Joe Blogs: The Closer You Get ...

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Monday, March 11, 2013

The Flagrant Fan: Adrian Gonzalez's optimistic projections

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Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Flagrant Fan: Morrow and Johnson quite the one-two punch

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2013 Fantasy: Stephen Strasburg

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2013 Fantasy: Giancarlo Stanton

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2013 Fantasy: Justin Upton

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Friday, March 8, 2013

2013 Fantasy: Who's No. 1?

ESPN fantasy analysts discuss who should be the first pick overall heading into this season.

2013 Fantasy: Yadier Molina vs. Matt Wieters

ESPN fantasy analysts discuss expectations for Yadier Molina and Matt Wieters this season.

2013 Fantasy: Dan Uggla vs. Chase Utley

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2013 Fantasy: Josh Hamilton vs. Jose Bautista

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Field Of Dreams Video: 2 Min's ...

Until next time, so long everybody ...

Lee [ Cowboy ]

Baseball MLB News and Rumors, Analysis and Predictions-Ruthlessly » Nolan Ryan’s Present And Future

Baseball MLB News and Rumors, Analysis and Predictions-Ruthlessly » Nolan Ryan’s Present And Future

Craig 'humbled' by five-year contract with Cards

Deal worth $31M, buys out three arbitration years and first free agency year

Cardinals extend Allen Craig00:02:31's Matthew Leach talks about the benefits of first baseman Allen Craig agreeing to a 5-year contract extension with the Cardinals
VIERA, Fla. -- Once a hitter without an obvious fit in the field, Allen Craig is now cemented into the Cardinals' long-term plans.
The Cardinals announced on Friday that they had reached a five-year, $31 million contract agreement with Craig that buys out the first baseman's three upcoming arbitration years and his first year of free agency. The deal also includes a $13 million club option for the 2018 season, with a $1 million buyout.
"I just think it made sense for both sides and that's how an agreement is made," Craig said. "It was something where I wanted security for my family and the team thought it was a good idea, too, so it's a tremendous opportunity, and I'm incredibly humbled by it. It's something I can't really fathom at this moment, but I'm just excited to be a part of this team going forward."
Though Craig was already guaranteed to be under team control through 2016, the Cardinals gain financial security by locking in his yearly salaries now. Craig's salary would have started to escalate quickly next winter when he began the arbitration process.
"I do think it was a deal that worked well for both sides," general manager John Mozeliak said. "We look at his career path and it certainly gives him some security that he hadn't had up until this point. He wasn't an extremely high Draft pick where he had a high signing bonus. This, for him, is a very big deal. For us, it gives us some protection in the middle of the lineup for a long time."
Craig, who is represented by Sam and Seth Levinson of ACES, asked the agency to reach out to the Cardinals in late October and let the organization know of his interest in negotiating a multiyear deal. Talks continued casually while the club worked through other offseason priorities and then picked up momentum during Spring Training.

"I just think it made sense for both sides and that's how an agreement is made. "It was something where I wanted security for my family and the team thought it was a good idea, too, so it's a tremendous opportunity, and I'm incredibly humbled by it. It's something I can't really fathom at this moment, but I'm just excited to be a part of this team going forward."
-- Allen Craig

As it turned out, the announcement ended up falling on the same day Craig made his spring debut at first base. He had been on a slowed spring program due to some earlier soreness in his right shoulder.
This spring marked the first time that Craig, 28, arrived at camp knowing that the Cardinals had blocked out a position for him. He made his Major League debut in 2010, but didn't find a consistent home in the field. By the end of '11, he had already appeared at five different positions.
Craig's defensive assignment was fluid even as he entered 2012. Though the Cardinals wanted Craig's bat in the lineup, he entered spring seemingly blocked by Carlos Beltran in right and Lance Berkman at first. But Berkman's injury-plagued year cleared the way for Craig to become the team's starting first baseman, and Craig thrived when given everyday playing time.
In 119 games, he hit .307 with 35 doubles, 22 home runs and 92 RBIs. The start of Craig's season was delayed a month as he wrapped up his recovery from knee surgery, but it could be argued that there was no better first baseman in the league once Craig entered the picture.
For the last five months of the season, Craig led all NL first basemen in RBIs and batting average. He became the team's cleanup hitter in mid-August and is expected to retain that spot in the batting order this year.
"I'm excited for him," manager Mike Matheny said. "I'm excited for all our guys when they get the opportunity to move forward and be acknowledged for what they've accomplished and for what we foresee them doing in the future."
The Cardinals' plans for the immediate are to keep Craig as the starting first baseman. But his ability to also handle the corner outfield spots makes Craig a flexible defensive option in the coming years.
"It's been a tough road to get to the big leagues and stick and get playing time and what not," Craig said. "But along the road, I've had a tremendous opportunity to play for Tony La Russa and play with Albert [Pujols] and Lance [Berkman] and Carlos [Beltran] and Yadi [Molina] and Matt [Holliday] and the list goes on and on. I've been extremely blessed to put the Cardinal uniform on, and I'm just glad that it's going to continue."
The length of Craig's contract mirrors that of Molina, who is also signed through 2017 with a club option that could extend the contract one year further. Holliday's seven-year deal ends one season earlier. Craig, a former eighth-round Draft pick, will turn 33 during the final guaranteed year of his deal.
"We have a great team, a lot of great veterans and young players and guys in the middle," Craig said. "I just think the future is so bright here that I'm just honored that they wanted me to be a part of it."