In the past week, the baseball world has seen three players announce their retirement. At one time, all were prominent sluggers in the MLB. Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira held a press conference last Friday during which he stated that he’d be hanging up his cleats for good at the end of this season. Two days later, his teammate Alex Rodriguez had a press conference with the team in which he stated that his final game with the Yankees would be at the end of the week. After tonight’s game, the Yankees will release him. On Tuesday, Texas Rangers first baseman/designated hitter Prince Fielder became the latest player to announce his retirement.
Fielder, 32, is a little younger than Teixeira and Rodriguez. In his prime, he was one of the most dangerous power hitters in all of baseball. He was originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers with the seventh overall pick of the 2002 MLB Draft. During his rookie season in 2006, he batted .271 with 28 home runs and 81 RBIs. The next season, he hit .288 and had 50 homers and 119 RBIs. That year, he finished third in the NL MVP voting.
It was at this point in his career that Fielder was starting to make a name for himself. In 2009, he hit 46 homers and drove in an NL-best 141 runs. He had a few more good seasons in Milwaukee, including 2011. He batted .299 with 38 home runs and 120 RBIs that year, again finishing third in the NL MVP voting. He also helped carry the Brewers to the NLCS, but they lost the series in six games to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Following his stellar 2011 season, Fielder signed a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Detroit Tigers. His first season in Detroit was a successful one, as he played in all 162 games and hit a career-high .313 with 30 home runs and 108 RBIs. He also played in his first World Series that year, but the Tigers were swept by the San Francisco Giants. Fielder had another solid offensive season in 2013, hitting 25 homers and knocking in 106 runs.
In November of 2013, the Tigers traded Fielder to the Rangers for second baseman Ian Kinsler and $30 million. His first season with the Rangers was certainly one to forget. After playing in 42 games, he needed to have season-ending neck surgery. At the time, Fielder had started 547 straight games. Before the surgery, he was hitting .247 and had only three home runs.
Unfortunately, the neck issue did not go away permanently. Although Fielder was able to have a strong comeback season in 2015, batting .305 with 23 home runs and 98 RBIs while being named to the AL All-Star Team, it was not exactly a sign of good things to come. Fielder made 88 starts this season before he went down with another neck injury last month. After electing to have surgery to repair the herniation of disks in his neck, he decided that his career was over.
The Rangers held a news conference on Wednesday to officially announce the news. With a neck brace on, Fielder told reporters that doctors said that he could no longer play baseball. It’s a sad ending to a good career. Overall, he was a six-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger Award winner. Fielder finished his career with 319 home runs and 1,028 RBIs. Ironically, Prince’s father Cecil Fielder also hit exactly 319 home runs in his MLB career. Cecil finished with 1,008 RBIs, 20 less than his son.
It’s unfortunate that Prince Fielder’s career had to end early. He was such a feared slugger for so many years. A reoccurring neck injury held him back in the end however. Enjoy retirement, Prince.
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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