The All-Star Game Counts, But Do We Act Like It?

It’s the tenth anniversary of the travesty that was the 2002 MLB All-Star Game. You know, the one that ended in a 7-7 tie and led to the decision that from then on, the winning side in the game would receive home-field advantage in the World Series. Prior to 2003, the year the rule was implemented, home-field advantage alternated between the AL and NL from year to year.  It’s one of three separate but inarguably connected rule-based controversies that dog the “Midsummer Classic” year in and year out. The second being that popular fan vote decides the starting hitters for each side. The third is that all 30 teams must have at least one representative in the game.

The rules are linked because what was formerly an exhibition game meant to showcase baseball’s best and brightest (in other words, a money-making scheme) now has actual value. As such, many take issue with the game’s starters being decided based on fans clicking mouses and sticking mini pencils through holes. Equally many argue that requiring a player from each team often leaves superior players off the rosters, which detracts from the notion that the contest spotlights the game’s best.

It’s impossible to gauge the impact of playing the first and last two games of the World Series at home. In the nine years the rule has been in effect, the American League has won the All-Star Game seven times. The AL won the game every year from 2003-2009, but its representatives were only champions in four of those seven years. The rule’s effects were minimal, if it had any, as the World Series never saw a seventh game. But in the past two years, the National League has had home-field. In 2010, the San Francisco Giants quickly won their first two home games, and had the Rangers playing scared en route to a 4-1 series victory. Last year was the first time the Series went seven, and the St. Louis Cardinals won the game, and the series, at home.

Even if it is impossible to truly gauge the effects, if you’re a fan of a contending AL team, does it sit right with you that Billy Butler might be in a position to decide if your team gets home-field advantage with two outs and the bases loaded in the ninth? Or if your team’s in the NL, that Huston Street (who has only pitched 21 innings this season) might have to get that final out? Those are just some examples of the possibilities of the “one from each team” rule. Let’s take a look at who the fans chose, and decide whether they deserve to be starting, or in some cases, even playing.

Read the rest of this entry »

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Rangers advance to ALCS with Game 4 win over Rays

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Matt Harrison throws against the Tampa Bay Rays in the third inning of Game 4 in their MLB American League Divisional Series baseball playoffs in St. Petersburg, Florida, October 4, 2011. REUTERS/Steve Nesius (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

The Tampa Bay Rays had an incredible season, but the Texas Rangers were more than ready for them. Adrian Beltre smacked three solo home runs to power the Rangers to a 4-3 victory.

Beltre has been a terrific — if imperfect — player over the course of his career. But many fans have viewed him as disappointment, especially in Seattle, after the Mariners signed him to a big free-agent contract following his monster 2004 season with the Dodgers and he was never able to replicate that .334, 48-homer season. But with the Mariners, I liked that he always played hard, played great defense (recognized with Gold Glove awards in 2007 and 2008) and hit for power in a tough park for right-handed pull hitters.

After a year in Boston where he compiled his best numbers since 2004, the Rangers signed him to play third base. The signing was controversial, not because of Beltre’s abilities, but because it left Michael Young without a position. In the end, it all worked out. Young filled in at DH and around the infield while contending for the AL batting crown and Beltre loved hitting in The Ballpark in Arlington — he hit a .326/.372/.706 at home with 23 of his 32 home runs, compared to .271/.297/.440 on the road.

Let’s see if the Tigers can wrap thing up against the Yankees tonight.

A very early look at the top 5 free agents in baseball

August 10, 2010: Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Carl Crawford ( ) during game action between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. The Rays defeated the Tigers 8-0.

The Giants haven’t been World Series Champions for 24 hours yet, but it’s never too early to take a look at which names will dominate the headlines this winter.

Here’s a very preliminary look at the top-5 free agents in baseball for 2011.

1. Carl Crawford, OF, Rays
Mark my words: The Yankees and Red Sox will be battling over this guy for the next couple of months. The Bombers could fall behind as they focus their attention on Cliff Lee, but you know their wallets are deep enough to best any offer that teams come to the table with for Crawford. There’s little to no chance he returns to Tampa next year and I fully expect him to man one of the outfields in either New York or Boston next season.

2. Cliff Lee, SP, Rangers
He probably cost himself a couple of million by throwing a 2-0 cutter in the zone to Edgar Renteria (who put it over the wall) in Game 5 of the World Series, but every team knows Lee is one of the best. And he’s certainly the best free agent pitcher on the market this offseason. Will he take the money and head up to the Big Apple or will he stay with the Rangers? Texas probably has a leg up, but it needs to put together a decent offer because in the end, money talks. The Yankees will do everything they can to get Lee in pinstripes next season.

3. Adrian Beltre, 3B, Red Sox
Beltre continues to be one of the best defensive third basemen in the league and he’s coming off a solid season in Boston. He has a player option for the 2011 season, but chances are he’ll move on and try to sign a multi-year deal elsewhere.

4. Jayson Werth, OF, Phillies
Personally, I think Werth is a tad overrated. I think he’s Aaron Rowand re-born and some team will foolishly overpay for his services. But he’s a middle-of-the-order power threat, so he’s worth the shot. The question is whether or not the Phillies pony up to retain him or if he heads off to greener pastures. Call it a hunch, but I think he stays in the NL.

5. Victor Martinez, C, Red Sox
The Tigers have already been linked to V-Mart, but the Red Sox could wind up re-signing him when it’s all said and done. At 32 his skills are declining but he’s a .300 lifetime hitter with a little pop, which is always big from the catcher’s position.

Other names to keep an eye on: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Aubrey Huff, Paul Konerko, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Derrek Lee, Adam Dunn.

Red Sox, Yankees open 2010 season with a bang

There’s really no other way to open up a baseball season then to pit the Yankees and Red Sox against each other on national TV, which the MLB did last night.

The BoSox’s Dustin Pedroia had a two-run homer and an RBI single to power Boston past New York 9-7 in a wild opener. The Red Sox overcame an early 5-1 deficit thanks to timely hitting by Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and newcomer Adrian Beltre. The biggest hit came off Pedroia’s bat when he took a Chan Ho Park pitch over the Green Monster in the seventh inning, giving him dingers on consecutive Opening Days now.

As usual for this time of year, the starting pitching was spotty. CC Sabathia went 5.1 innings, allowing five runs on six hits while striking out four. Josh Beckett only went 4.2 innings while giving up five runs on eight hits and allowing two home runs. He struck out only two batters.

Game 2 of this three-game series will be played on Tuesday.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

2010 MLB Preview: AL East

In order to help get you ready for the MLB season, we’re doing division-by-division rankings with quick overviews on how each club could fair in 2010. Next to each team, you’ll also find a corresponding number written in parenthesis, which indicates where we believe that club falls in a league-wide power ranking. Be sure to check back throughout the next two weeks leading up to the season, as we will be updating our content daily. Enjoy.

All 2010 MLB Preview Content | AL East Preview | AL Central Preview | AL West Preview | NL East | NL Central | NL West

First up is the AL East.

1. New York Yankees (1)
If you think I would get cute in these rankings and suggest that some upstart team would derail the Yankees this season, then you sir, are sadly mistaken. I just don’t have the conjones to bet against them, especially after they added Curtis Granderson, Javier Vazquez and Nick Johnson to their already stacked roster. Sure they lost World Series MVP Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon, the latter of which loved to work the count and provided the Yanks with some pop over the last couple of seasons. But thanks to Granderson, Johnson, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Texeira, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada, the lineup is still stacked from top to bottom. Vazquez, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mariano Rivera will once again highlight a strong pitching staff and assuming they don’t suffer any major injuries, there’s nothing to suggest that the Bombers won’t make another championship run. That said, let’s not be oblivious to the potential problems that could arise for the Yanks this season. Age is a factor, as is the fact that Granderson can’t hit lefties and will be under the spotlight as the club’s biggest offseason acquisition. Plus, for as good as Vazquez was over the past couple of years, he was a disaster the last time he wore pinstripes (Boston fans remember this well.) Should the Yankees win another World Series? Yeah – especially considering they have the best-purchased roster in baseball. But just like last year, they still have to prove it between the lines and they’re not immune to hurdles getting in their way.

Read the rest of this entry »

Related Posts