This time of year is always the greatest. Not because of the hot weather that people seem to enjoy or that August usually means vacation, but because the sports world is generally on fire. With UFC On Fox 4 taking place Saturday and the first NFL preseason game on Sunday (between the Arizona Cardinals and the New Orleans Saints), let’s not forget that the baseball season is more exhilarating than ever. The trade deadline just passed and teams are trying to build momentum by bringing in some fresh blood to boost their clubs as division races wind down. Here’s what’s been happening in the MLB:
The New York Yankees have been playing mediocre ball since the All-Star break and were dealt a fairly significant blow when their 37-year-old third baseman, Alex Rodriguez, got drilled on the hand by an 88 mph changeup from Felix Hernandez. It’s believed that he’ll miss roughly six-to-eight weeks and while he’s nowhere near the slugger he used to be, he’s still their cleanup hitter. However, according to ESPN Stats & Information, numbers have indicated that the Bronx Bombers are much better sans A-Rod. Since 2010, the Yankees are a combined 63-29 without him in the lineup and 188-142 with him. Still, he was just starting to actually hit extra-base hits and his loss will definitely be felt in the heart of their lineup.
Prior to A-Rod’s unintentional beaning, New York acquired Ichiro Suzuki from the Seattle Mariners for a pair of minor leaguers putting up pedestrian numbers in AAA. As soon as they made the move, I thought it was an absolute steal, as Ichiro finally seemed to be fed up with the poor supporting cast in Seattle. He’ll be highly motivated to play for the team with the best record in baseball and should thrive by swiping a ton of bases. I’d be shocked if he hit less than .310 for the rest of his pinstripes tenure.
Speaking of stellar trades, the Los Angeles Dodgers brought in Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate for a pair of unproven pitchers. While Han-Ram has been on the decline since 2010, the Dodgers needed to make a move to catch up with my San Francisco Giants. He’s a three-time All-Star, a Rookie Of The Year award-winner, and MVP runner-up at the age of 28. At the very least he’ll give L.A. an intimidating force in their lineup and be a terror on the base paths, something they desperately needed. Trades like these really irk me seeing as how the rival Dodgers brought in a solid shortstop for what clearly appears to be a salary dump for the Marlins.
Remember when I told you a few weeks ago that while the New York Mets have been a good story so far, I wouldn’t read much into it? Hate to say I told you so, but I kinda did. They’re 3-13 over their last 16 games at press time and have been making history in the process. For instance, they’re only the third team ever to lose two consecutive games, both in extra innings, by five or more runs. Their lone bright spot over this stretch was Matt Harvey’s debut appearance last Thursday, when he struck out 11 hitters over 5.1 scoreless innings. It wasn’t the best debut I’ve ever seen (that belongs to Stephen Strasburg’s electric 14 K performance) but I enjoyed watching this kid mow down batters. Still, the team is floundering and I wouldn’t be shocked if they finished last in the NL East.
While the Oakland A’s and Cincinnati Reds have been hot to start the second half of the season, the Houston Astros have dropped 10 straight while trading away most of their team. After dealing Carlos Lee, Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, J.A. Happ and Brandon Lyon, amongst others, they now have only two players on their roster making over a million dollars this year. Apparently they thought that they were moving to Double-A next season instead of the AL West because I’m pretty sure the Trenton Thunder are more talented than this squad.
Cole Hamels signed an extension with the Philadelphia Phillies worth a staggering $144 million, the highest contract ever for a pitcher behind only CC Sabathia. Do I think he’s worth that kind of money? I don’t. He’s a very good pitcher but I’d probably leave him off my list of pitchers I’d have in my dream rotation (Verlander, Halladay, Sabathia, Cain and Jered Weaver make my list, with honorable mention given to David Price).
Josh Hamilton was called out in public last week by Texas Rangers president Nolan Ryan about his recent slump on a radio station in Dallas. He mentioned that “there’s a lot of at-bats that he just gives away,” in addition to stating that he didn’t, “seem to be locked in at all.” While I don’t necessarily disagree with his assessment of Hamilton at the plate, why couldn’t he talk to him in private rather than bash him on the airwaves? Did Ryan really think that would help him get out of his funk? He’s one of the best players in the game and is in a contract year—don’t give him a reason to feel slighted enough to walk.
And finally, Shaq Thompson is going back to football after putting together the worst minor league career the world has ever seen. Thompson finishes his baseball career 0-for-39 with 37 strikeouts to his name. Somewhere, Michael Jordan is saying, “C’mon man! How hard is it to hit a baseball?” email@example.com
(Photo credit: RICK SCUTERI/AP)