Tag Archives: Florida Marlins

The 2011 National League MVP: Buster Posey

Scoff if you will at that headline, but the idea has merit. Buster Posey has proved just how valuable he is by his absence from the San Francisco Giants.

Posey broke his leg May 25 while trying to keep Scott Cousins of the Florida Marlins from touching home. Cousins scored, the Marlins won, and it’s not much of a stretch to say that the Giants lost their season that night. The mood in the clubhouse afterward was somber, and it seemed the whole Bay Area was downcast the following day when word got out that Posey was probably through for the year.

The Giants held the National League West lead for much of the summer, many weeks after Posey was sidelined. But the lack of scoring that Posey helped San Francisco overcome in their 2010 championship drive returned with a vengeance in the second half of this season. The defending champs were punchless, with the worst offense in either league.

Posey’s replacements, backup Eli Whiteside and AAA call-up Chris Stewart, struggled at the plate most of the season. They batted at the bottom of the lineup, not in the heart where Posey had been.

Also a factor in the Giants fall from first was the drop in the level of expertise behind the plate. Whiteside and Stewart let too many balls get away. Although they never quite made the comparison in words, the Giants broadcasters conveyed the change in their tone whenever the non-Poseys let one slip past. And the backup backstops didn’t gun down many runners or stop them from trying the way Posey did.

I can’t fault Whiteside and Stewart for their handling the pitching staff, however. The Giants starters were as impressive as ever in almost every statistical category but wins.

No one should lay the Giants’ troubles this year solely at the feet of Buster Posey. Closer Brian Wilson started the year hurt and is ending it hurt. The rest of the bullpen, so brilliant down the stretch last year, proved mortal. Miguel Tejada flopped at shortstop. Aubrey Huff lost his stroke. And so on.

But Posey was the nucleus of the Giants who swept to victory last fall. The team’s diminished powers in 2011 were at the very least exaggerated once he went on the disabled list.

The Giants have not been eliminated from the playoffs, but no one seems to believe either Arizona will falter or the Giants will catch the Diamondbacks with a late surge.

Maybe if Posey came back ….

Advertisements

Adios, Carlos Delgado. Thanks for a great career.

Overcome by injuries, Carlos Delgado has retired from baseball. Even though he’s been inactive since early in the 2009 season, his departure still resonates. There’s a nice farewell piece on Carlos in the Globe and Mail that summarizes the man and his career.

Delgado piled up some impressive numbers on offense during his years with the Toronto Blue Jays and later with the Florida Marlins for one season and a few more with the New York Mets. From 1996 through 2008, he played in at least 138 games and hit 24 home runs or more – a remarkable string of productivity in a career that lasted 17 big league seasons.

Playing all those years in Canada, Delgado didn’t get the American media attention he surely would have received had he played on an American team. But he left his mark.

I always had a soft spot for Delgado, in large part because the only bobblehead I own is one of him that I got at a game at Skydome in Toronto. I went to the game with one of my good friends at The Canadian Press, and it’s the only ballgame I’ve seen outside the U.S.

Thanks for the memories, Carlos, and good luck.

Spike Lee sports a special Yankees championship cap

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=NBA&iid=7939913″ src=”5/d/7/0/NBA_All_Star_165a.jpg?adImageId=10325689&imageId=7939913″ width=”234″ height=”294″ /]

Check out the slick New York Yankees cap that Spike Lee wore to the NBA All-Star game last night in Dallas. I hadn’t seen this one before. It celebrates the Yanks’ recent World Series triumph — the 27th in franchise history — and notes the years of all of them.

Of all the teams in major league baseball, only a few could carry something like this off. You have to have won a number of times for the cap to make any sense. Wikipedia’s entry on the World Series has a nifty chart noting how many times each franchise has won the championship, and it’s amazing how few titles many of them have claimed. For example, the Blue Jays, Cubs, Indians, Marlins, Mets and Phillies have won only two titles apiece. Particularly for fans of old-line teams in Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia, that represents a lot of “wait until next year” agony.

Less than excited about baseball wild card races

We’re in a wild card race. Awesome!!!

Well, hardly. Wild-card races in Major League Baseball have been running for a couple of decades, and I still can’t fully accept them.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ll take a wild card berth. As I write this post, I’m listening to the Giants and the Dodgers. I want the Giants to sweep LA this weekend as I simultaneously pray for the Colorado Rockies to drop each game in their series with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

But the race for a wild card berth doesn’t nearly get me as excited as someone claiming a league or division title. Way back in the late 60s as baseball contemplated following the NFL into multi-division playoffs, I can remember my father telling me that the playoffs were supposed to be the antidote to the all-too-frequent runaway teams atop the old single-division American and National leagues.

In many years, that vision has come through. But — Yankees and Red Sox fans, don’t hate me — I grow weary of the same teams returning to the playoffs year after year after year. The seemingly endless run of playoff appearances by the Atlanta Braves is a good example. They hoarded playoff appearances, although I must admit my judgment carries the bitter tinge from their only Series victory in recent memory, in 1995 over the Cleveland Indians.

Then there was the ’97 series, in which the NL wild card team – the Florida Marlins – defeated the Tribe in the series. Where’s the justice in that?

I know I’m fighting the last war by whining about the wild card concept, so let this be my last harangue on the subject. I will now turn my attention back to the Giants, and hope against hope that their stellar pitching and anemic hitting manage to sneak them into the playoffs, on the road to a World Series victory against an AL team that won 20 more games in the regular season.

The All-American baseball cap, by way of China

This is 2009, and Google pretty much rules the world. For no particular reason, tonight I typed “baseball caps” into the Google Images search bar to see what would come up first.

And here it is, at right: the “6 Panels Baseball Cap with Brass Buckle” as displayed on made-in-china.com.

The irony cannot be escaped. The first image for the All-American baseball cap is a generic black hat on a Web site in China where, for all I know, the people are banned from viewing my blog (poor comrades!).

I did a quick check of several of the caps in my closet, and at least half were made in China. Of the Major League Baseball caps I checked, the Giants, Cubs and Nationals all said “made in China.” My Phillies and Mariners caps are from Macau, and the Marlins lid is from Bangladesh. I couldn’t determine the origin of my Brewers lid, which is from New Era.

I’ve come to two conclusions. The Chinese must love our national pastime, if only for economic reasons. And I need to find a few more caps from the American League.

Network TV baseball choices play it safe

If there’s a network TV baseball game on the tube, chances are it involves the Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, or some combination thereof. I know that New York rules the media world — I worked in Manhattan for a certain worldwide wire service for five years — but the air and cable time the Yankees get is way out of proportion to what most fans in most places want.

At right is my Florida Marlins cap, which I was given by the coach of my son’s ball team a few years back in thanks for the photos of the players that I took and distributed to the team families. How often do the Florida Marlins appear on network TV? I cannot recall seeing them even once this season.

Every time I turn on ESPN, I see Tony Larussa contemplating his next move from the Cardinals’ dugout. Or there’s A-Rod and the gang in pinstripes. Or it’s the hulking Green Monster at Fenway Park, sheltering the BoSox.

I admit, a mid-season tilt between the Padres and Pirates doesn’t exactly bring fans en masse to the TV. But I would occasionally like to get a look at Jody Gerut or Ryan Doumit or some other new talent who at present is only a name in a box score.

Would I like to see the Marlins? Sure. They’re hanging in there in the NL East this season, and I’d like a look.

This Marlins cap has a fun little side story. A friend from Miami was in New York for a visit during the 2003 World Series between the Yankees and Marlins. We went into Midtown Manhattan on a Saturday afternoon, and I wasn’t even aware that the cap I had chosen was that of the opposition Marlins. A few New Yorkers good-naturedly got after me because of it, and I said, “Hey, it’s from my son’s Little League team.” My friend had asked to borrow a cap, so I lent him — naturally — my Yankees cap.