Usually by July 4th you get a good feel for how the baseball season is shaping up. By then, many of the players are getting into their mid season form and many teams are falling into place.
Preparing for the stretch run usually happens after the All-Star Break. Teams jockey to finalize any rosters and also hunt tirelessly for trades to improve their weaknesses. Plenty of talk in the coming weeks will arise about trade rumors, proposed trades and all the players that are possibly and possibly NOT on the market.
Through all the escalating baseball mumbo jumbo I have decided to sit at my SportsRantz.com desk in the SportsRantz Office and mark this as a good halfway point in the season.
Sure, this halfway point is well ahead of what others would recognize as the season’s halfway point, but it’s the early bird who gets the work as they say.
So allow me to sound the imaginary drum roll in each of your sports-clogged minds as I unveil my roster for the All-SportsRantz Team Version 1.0.
Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers
.303 avg, 10 hr, 45 rbi
Never heard of him? You will. Avila has paced the Tigers with a great campaign thus far behind the plate. His .303 average and .373 on base percentage is one heck of an asset to receive from your catcher. At only 24 years of age he has nowhere to go but up.
Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox
.361 avg, 16 hr, 71 rbi
Who can deny the stellar season Gonzalez has been having in Beantown? Nobody. Perhaps the perfect trade for Boston to make in the offseason, Gonzalez has found a more productive home in Boston than in San Diego. A great park for him and a solid lineup has provided Gonzalez the boost he needed. His play at First Base has been nothing less than great as well.
Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
.290 avg, 14 hr, 48 rbi
This was a tough toss up between Cano and Pedroia. But Cano’s .502 slugging percentage is phenomenal and impossible to ignore. Considering this is considered a “down year” for Cano just shows you how good he truly is. Another deciding factor is Cano’s proficiency in the field. 99% proficiency and the 2nd best Range Factor in the Majors.
Jose Reyes, New York Mets
.341 avg, 3 hr, 32 rbi
Jose Reyes wants his money and is playing like a Man on Fire in his contract year. It’s not a surprise that Reyes will be on the trading block soon. It’s also a foregone conclusion his days as a Met are numbered. A shame Reyes couldn’t reach this plateau when the Mets really needed it. Helluva season!
Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
.300 avg, 13 hr, 51 rbi
So many of you may be bashing my Yankee Homerism here. But I have good reasoning why A-Rod gets this slot. His hits have been in clutch situations this year, an indicator he is now one of the Yankees primary clutch hitters. Rodriguez also has a robust .513 slugging percentage and has improved almost all of his offensive numbers from 2010. As always, A-Rod has been in the Top 10 in Fielding as well (#8)
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
.308 avg, 16 hr, 59 rbi
Braun has been quite the force in Milwaukee. Paired with Prince Fielder they have combined to be quite the offensive force for the Brewers this year. A .390 on base percentage and a hefty .554 slugging percentage have elevated Braun to our Left Field slot on the team.
Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees
.276 avg, 21 hrs, 55 rbi
Where would the Yankees be if it were not for Curtis Granderson. Granderson has been a completely different player since reinventing his swing with Yankee Hitting Coach Kevin Long at the end of 2010. This season Granderson has been the most consistent and deadly Yankee hitter in the lineup. His usual struggles against lefties has become a sort of strength for the power hitting Granderson who already has 6 triples this season.
Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
.325 avg, 23 hr, 48 rbi
The Major Leagues Home Run League Leader (currently tied at 1st with Teixeira) Bautista has been the lone offensive surge in Toronto. After breaking out with a monster 2010 campaign, Bautista has followed that up with an equally dominant 2011. A .655 slugging percentage and a .468 on base percentage has the Majors on notice.
Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees
.247 avg, 23 hr, 58 rbi
Sure we could have put DH David Ortiz here but we opted to go with a player who can fill in at 1st base as well. I was never too enamored with DH All-Star spots anyways. Teixeira is tied with Toronto’s Jose Bautista for the MLB Lead in Home Runs but Teixiera has been another consistent force in the Yankee lineup.
Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
2.38 ERA, 10-3 record
Who else could take this slot other than Verlander? Sure there are players who have a lower ERA but Verlander is tied for the MLB Lead in Wins and also has a ridiculous 0.84 WHIP which is tops. He is also 2nd in the Majors in Strikeouts (124) and #1 in Innings pitched. Not to mention he threw a No hitter and almost tossed 2 more.
Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
1.78 ERA, 20 saves
Who else would you put here than the great Mariano Rivera? Nobody. His ERA is under 2 yet again and his WHIP is 0.99. When it comes to closing out a game, especially in a pressure situation, you wouldn’t put anyone other than Rivera on the mound. He will remain on this team until any of that changes, which I don’t see ever happening.
Flyers Remove Statue of Kate Smith
The Philadelphia Flyers have joined the New York Yankees in the removal of ties to singer Kate Smith, whose famous rendition of “God Bless America” was played at both Flyers and Yankees games.
Earlier this week, the Yankees decided to suspend the use of Smith’s rendition, which was played during the seventh-inning stretch, while they investigated allegations of racism against the later singer.
According to a report from the New York Daily News, there are conflicting claims about Smith’s 1939 song “That’s Why Darkies Were Born” which
originated in the 1931 Broadway revue “George White’s Scandals” and was considered satire but includes racist language, including the line;
“Someone had to pick the cotton. … That’s why darkies were born.”
The song was recorded by Smith and Paul Robeson, who was black.
The Flyers put out the following statement on Sunday (h/t ESPN):
“The Flyers have enjoyed a long and popular relationship with ‘God Bless America,’ as performed by the late Kate Smith, a woman who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor for her patriotic contributions to our nation.
“But in recent days, we learned that several of the songs Kate Smith performed in the 1930s include lyrics and sentiments that are incompatible with the values of our organization, and evoke painful and unacceptable themes.”
Smith, who was popular during the WWII era, recorded the offensive jingle, “Pickaninny Heaven,” which she directed at “colored children” who should fantasize about an amazing place with “great big watermelons,” among various other treats.
Smith also endorsed the “Mammy Doll” back in 1939 which was based on a racist caricature of a black woman similar to Aunt Jemima.
“The Yankees have been made aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and decided to immediately and carefully review this new information,” a club spokesman said. “The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously. And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity.”
The odds aren’t good that Smith’s songs will return to their prominent places during sporting events such as they were with the Yankees and the Flyers.
There is a lot of cleaning up to do when it comes to racism in sports, and weeding out songs attached to artists with questionable, and controversial, backgrounds such as Smith’s, is important in pushing forward towards the future.
MLB Investigating Racist Social Media Messages Sent to Cubs’ Carl Edwards Jr.
Major League Baseball is investigating racial messages sent, via social media, to Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. prior to his demotion to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs back on April 6th.
According to The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney, the messages have caught the attention of both the Cubs and the MLB Players Association, leading to the launch of the investigation.
Mooney had been a solid bullpen option during the last few seasons, but had a nightmare start to the 2019 season posting a terrible 32.40 ERA in just 1.2 innings of work over four appearances.
Carlos Zambrano Attempting Comeback, Signs with Indy Team
Former MLB pitcher Carlos Zambrano is attempting a comeback and has signed with the American Association’s Chicago Dogs, according to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer.
Zambrano last pitched in the majors back in 2012 with the Miami Marlins, but earlier in his career he finished in the top five of the Cy Young voting in the National League three times as a member of the Chicago Cubs.
Zambrano started his comeback bid last fall when he took the mound for 7 starts in the Mexican League, pitching to the tune of a 5.18 ERA, and performing even worse during a short stint in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Given his recent lack of production, it is a longshot to believe that Zambrano will return to the MLB level, but stranger things have happened.
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