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AL East

What does $324 million buy these days? Not a single extra win for the Yankees, who brought Gerrit Cole to the Bronx for October, not regular season window dressing. Chalk up a third consecutive 90-win season for the Rays, who have made believers of us all. Too much talent in Boston to dismiss the Red Sox, but trade winds, pitcher health and attrition elsewhere will all have to work in their favor if they’re to contend. Hyun-Jin Ryu buys the Blue Jays some stability, but it will take one more year for their core of legacy players to get them over the .500 mark. A handful of keepers are trickling toward Baltimore, where the Orioles may be worse than last year, but a year closer to 2022, when the ugliness may finally subside.

AL Central

The Twins will drop from a quiet 101 wins to a noisier total in the mid-90s, with Josh Donaldson giving the Bomba Squad an MVP-caliber presence. So long as the Indians hold Francisco Lindor, they will contend, but shipping out he or Mike Clevinger will send them tumbling toward the second division. “Winning the winter” usually doesn’t matter, but beware the White Sox, who made impactful moves just as the Eloy Jimenez-Luis Robert core is ready to form. Can the Royals scare up a couple more viable players in the manner Hunter Dozier and Jorge Soler stepped forward in ’19? That would make another inevitable losing campaign a little more palatable. It’s going to be another miserable year in Motown, but at least once every five days, the Tigers can hand the ball to Ivan Nova and see league-average performance, in all its glory.


AL West

Like a 34-ounce hunk of ash repeatedly slamming into a plastic receptacle, we’re seeing just a few cracks in the Astros. One of our panelists opted for Oakland while another sees a tie atop a division that figures to be decided by the Nos. 3-5 starters. For the Athletics, that group includes Houston whistleblower Mike Fiers, who will attract plenty of attention – the better to allow Sean Manaea, Jesus Luzardo and Co. to operate under the radar. Bold of the Angels to keep firing even after missing out on Cole; $245 million for Anthony Rendon will make them a much better team, but stopgap starters Julio Teheran and Dylan Bundy won’t push them much higher than .500. The Rangers finished second on Rendon but filled in shrewdly without him; at the least, they will complicate the wild-card dreams of the division’s top three teams. Are Evan White and Kyle Lewis and Shed Long and J.P. Crawford building blocks in Seattle? Or churning pieces in the Mariners' eternal five-year plan?

NL East

They’ll be the three-time division champion Atlanta Braves by October, but few will care if they can’t get out of the NL Division Series. For now, a second wave of elite young pitchers will help mitigate Donaldson’s significant loss. The Nationals wouldn’t hate a second consecutive wild-card slot, if only because it meant they survived the post-championship body blows accrued by the six trusted members of their pitching staff – along with the gaping lineup hole Rendon leaves. The Mets and Phillies will be joined at the hip, thanks to Zack Wheeler’s defection from Queens to Broad Street. Yet it will be each team’s respective bullpens determining if either challenge the Braves or Nationals. In any other division, the Marlins’ modest moves would move the wins needle a bit. In this one, they’ll be not quite good enough on a lot of nights.


NL Central

For a division that figures to be volatile, our six NL Central ballots came back surprisingly identical: Cardinals-Reds-Brewers-Cubs-Pirates. Perhaps most jarring is the Cubs’ impending irrelevance: They’re pegged for a high of 83 wins and a low of 80. A moribund off-season after three years of gradual decay won’t win many caucuses. Meanwhile, the Reds’ winter flurry certainly garnered attention, though the player they acquired last July – right-hander Trevor Bauer, a free agent after this season – will likely have more say in their fate than $64 million men Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos. The biggest mystery: Do the Brewers have another rabbit in their hat? Don’t overlook the impact Keston Hiura’s .938 OPS might have over the course of an entire season. The Pirates might have made all the right moves in rebooting their baseball operations, but this may be their worst team since losing 105 games in 2010.

NL West

Just once in their seven-year reign atop the division did the Dodgers leave the door cracked – 2018, when they won just 92 games and endured the harrowing indignity of a one-game playoff for the West title. Well, last year they went back to boat racing, lapping the field by 21 games and winning 106. Despite nemesis Madison Bumgarner aligning with a live contender in Arizona, expect another six-month October tune-up. Can the Diamondbacks crack 90 wins? MadBum, Starling Marte and a soft bottom of the division will greatly help the wild-card cause, even if they don’t keep the Dodgers up at night. When is it time for the Padres to really, really go for it? Despite aggressive acquisitions and rumblings of a blockbuster, the answer remains as it was a couple years ago: 2021. The Rockies will be bad again, and now they’ll be miserable, too. Trading, keeping or further alienating franchise player Nolan Arenado may be the lone suspense of this season. The Giants haven’t even launched a “youth movement” yet – their fun finds of 2019, Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson, each turn 30 this year, which will give them six thirty-something regulars. 

Derek Jeter Best Ever

Best shortstop ever to based off 4 categories, regular season, post-season, ambassador and career SS statistics. Look at these amazing facts about Jeter that adds to his elite SS status and separates himself from the pack. Statistics show Cal Ripken, Derek Jeter and Robin Yount are the best ever to play the position. But not the case.

    Cal Ripken and Robin Yount switched positions during their careers so their overall statistics drastically change if compared head to head at SS.  Ripken played his last 5 years at 3rd Base while Yount ended up playing centerfield his last 9 years.  Jeter played his entire career at SS. Below is the comparison:

Career-SS       AB      H        2B     RBI      HR      R    Gold Gloves

Jeter            11195  3465    544    1311     260   1902          5

Ripken           9219  2549    487    1369     353   1366          2

Yount             6049  1727    323      713     129    885           1

 * Jeter is 6th all-time hits listType your paragraph here.

            "Uncovering David Ortiz. Catch Me If You Can".

Cornelius Hanna-GSBN

   It’s time to evaluate the preposterous season of David Ortiz at the age of 40 nearing 41. Everyone in sports should call into question his performance this season.

It’s disproportionately out of the norm comparing to other 40 year old players in Major League Baseball history.
Ortiz OPS (1.047) is better than Mike Trout (.987).His numbers, measured against the most dynamic young player in the game are literally off the charts. With less then a month left in that 2016 schedule, Ortiz was being considered as the AL M.V.P. This was silly, there needed to be pressure by sports people and journalists to look past this nice guy teddy bear image.

Look at his body of work in 2016 and compare him to the listed athletes between the ages of 39 and 41. It’s clear, these former players (listed below), did not have the type of season David Ortiz is having. (Variation of players and multiple era’s)

Age  Name        Ops   SLG  G  AVG  HR  2B  RBI

40-David Ortiz  1.047 .636 118 .321 30  40 100
39-Rod Carew  .717 .345 127 .280   6  17    67
39-Mike Schmidt  .668 .372 42  .203    6   7  28
40-Ken Griffey Jr..454 .204   3  .184     0  2    7
40-Alex Rodriguez .598 .351 65 .200    9  7  31
40-Derek Jeter   .617 .313  145 .256 15  32 77
40-Barry Bonds .1045 .565 126 .276 14 66 13
40-EdgarMartinez .895 .489 145 .294 24 25  98
40-Frank Thomas .387 .364 71 .263     8  7  30
40-George Brett   .746 .434 145 .266 19 31 75
40-C. Yastzremski .812 .462 105 .275 15 21 50
40-Reggie Jackson .787 .408 132 .241 18 12 58
40-Willie Mays     .482 .425 136 .271 18 24  61
40-Babe Ruth      .789 .431 28   .181   6   0 12
40-Hank Aaron    .832 .491 112 .268 20 16 69
40-Ted Williams   .791 .419 103 .254 10 15 43
(41)  T. Williams  1.096 .645 113 .316 29 15 72

Ortiz’s stats should be called into question when compared to some of the all time greats mentioned above. Only 2 of the 15 are not     Hall of Famers. Bonds and Rodriguez PED use clouds their entry. Ortiz’s numbers are unheard-of, unless you’re Barry Bonds.

The question must be asked, how the heck was Ortiz dominating the game? Was he juiced?  

What was he taking and how he’s doing it?  I will say he’s been listed on the Mitchel Report that got uncovered. He’s been accused of taking PEDs 2 other times. Throughout his career in Minnesota and Boston his responses to PEDs and carrying multiple ID’s have been well documented as being defensive, side-stepping and disrespectful towards journalists. Ortiz is responsible for any usage of PEDs, but why isn’t anyone talking about this? Instead praising him for his 2016 success. Did anybody see what I was seeing? Did we forget? Why was he getting a free pass? It’s also disturbing and alarming the Boston Red Sox organization have been accused of promoting and educating players on the proper way to use PEDs.

The Mitchel Report, named after former (Senator-Maine) George Mitchell, was criticized for having a conflict of interest with the report when he was a director of the Boston Red Sox. Granted, no Red Sox players were named in the report, however, Red Sox stars David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were later accused to have used PEDs during the 2003 season, as reported by the New York Times on July 30, 2009.

Furthermore, Curt Schilling and Lou Merloni have spoken-out about how the Red Sox encouraged and pushed the usage of PEDs towards its players. Schilling said in a radio interview with Colin Cowerd that some in the Red Sox organization encouraged him to consider the use of banned performance-enhancing drugs to get back to playing shape. Schilling’s quote was: "At the end of my career, in 2008 when I had gotten hurt, there was a conversation that I was involved in which was brought to my attention that this is a potential path I might want to pursue.” Schilling further said the conversation occurred in the clubhouse which involved former Red Sox players. “It was an incredibly uncomfortable conversation. Because it came up in the midst of a group of people. The other people weren't in the conversation but they could clearly hear the conversation. And it was suggested to me that at my age and in my situation, why not? What did I have to lose? Because if I wasn't going to get healthy, it didn't matter. And if I did get healthy, great."

Lou Merloni spoke about a team meeting in a 2009 interview about a doctor brought in by the team, teaching players how to use steroids the right way. Merloni's exact quotes, according to The Boston Globe, were: "I'm in Spring Training, and I got an 8:30-9:00 meeting in the morning. I walk into that office, and this happened while I was with the Boston Red Sox before this last regime, I'm sitting in the meeting. There's a doctor up there and he's talking about steroids, and everyone was like, 'Here we go, we're going to sit here and get the whole thing -- they're bad for you.' "No. He spins it and says, 'You know what? If you take steroids and sit on the couch all winter long, you can actually get stronger than someone who works out clean. If you're going to take steroids, one cycle won't hurt you; abusing steroids it will.' "He sat there for one hour and told us how to properly use steroids while I'm with the Boston Red Sox, sitting there with the rest of the organization, and after this I said, 'What the heck was that?' And everybody on the team was like, 'What was that?' And the response we got was, 'Well, we know guys are taking it, so we want to make sure they're taking it the right way.' Where did that come from? That didn't come from the Players Association."

Another incident involving Ortiz and Latroy Hawkins, former pitcher, Twins teammate (1997-2002) when he got traded from Seattle to Minnesota. We all went out to dinner. I guess he wanted to order a drink and the lady asked for an ID and he pulled out, like, five different IDs. It was like, "Dude, what are you trying to do?" He was like, "Don't worry about it. Don't worry about it."

If 2016 was the year of lies and cover-ups, David Ortiz career may be the biggest in the sports world. All the gifts from teams and praising his great season has many fooled or simply giving him a free pass. There was no way the media and sports could sit back and not question a 40 year old baseball player's season stats as compared to his career stats then compare him to some of the game’s greatest. No way should he retire. Ortiz’s stats destroyed the legends mentioned above. Unless you’re Barry Bonds. Players' careers enter the twilight or the final curtain at 40. They’re just hanging-on for the most part. Ortiz seemed to be a sunrise with many playing years of ahead. His numbers were for those in their prime. But he’s retired and it was impossible for baseball to suspend him in his final year. David “Papi” Ortiz must have known this. So why not pump up for one final year. He was been protected by the establishment and ignored by majority of the media. It’s time to question his performance  and not to look past the smiling fictional character. 

                                              Making History

Aaron Judge eclipsed DiMaggio's franchise record for home runs hit by a rookie with his Major League-leading 30th home run, a solo blast that landed on the netting covering Monument Park.

"It's quite an honor," Judge said. "It's been a fun first half so far. I'm blessed to be in this position with my teammates around me, always putting me in the right spot and helping me do my best and helping me succeed."

Read more here >

2020 Major League Baseball's Predictions

My Personal Ralph Branca Story 

By Cornelius Hanna

As a kid growing up in Brooklyn during the 1970’s the baseball broadcast you could recite by memory was “The Shot Heard Around The World". The Russ Hodges 1951 call went like this “ Here’s a long drive. … It’s gonna be, I believe … the Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! Bobby Thomson hits into the lower deck of the left-field stands. The Giants win the pennant, and they’re goin’ crazy! They’re goin’ crazy! I don't believe it! I don't believe it! I do not believe it!" Ralph Branca was the man who threw the pitch to Bobby Thompson.  

    Uncharacteristically he became as famous and popular as the hero. That's unusual in sports, since history seems to forget the unfortunate one's. Does anybody recall who threw the game seven walk-off home run pitch to the Pirates Bill Mazeroski in the 1960 World Series? While infamous, the burden Branca had to carry was humungous, given the burgeoning business of broadcasting baseball on television in 1951. Moreover, series ending walk off home runs to decide championships were rare. To celebrate the point, it was twenty-five years later for New York to be the scene of another pennant winning home run when the Yankees defeated the Royals in the 1976 American League Championship Series. The jubilation of 1976 was immediately juxtaposed with that moment in 1951, reminding Branca of his disappointing effort that cost the Dodgers a chance to be champions.

     While starting my broadcast sports journalism career in South Florida in 1985, little did I know that I would have the unique experience of being the personal driver for Branca and his wife. I drove them around for three years every winter and spring, and found him (and his wife) to be friendly, warm, and loving. Branca was a confident, strong minded man. Every time he contacted me for assistance, I can still hear his voice calling to me, "Connie" he would say for short. Being in his presence you knew he was the man who threw the historic pitch to Bobby Thompson. Initially it was something I didn’t want to discuss, but he always made me feel like family or one of the guys. Being around him you felt important, and trusted, so I never asked him about the Thompson home run. When he brought it up once, I remember him saying, it’s baseball. In time he asked me questions about my youth growing up in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn where most of his Dodgers teammates lived. We connected and related to each other talking baseball, and Brooklyn. He and his wife were amazing to me. They treated me as if I were their son, giving me moral support, boosting my confidence, and made feel like the icon and hero.

     I lost touch over time - life has a way of doing that, but when I heard of his passing so near to Thanksgiving, I wanted to say thanks Ralph, for the love and trust you had in a twenty year old. You're a hero to me, for being a great human being.

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