Monday, May 25, 2009

One Year Longer. One Year Stronger.

One Year Longer. One Year Stronger.

I look back.
I remember the times.
Football in the street. Manhunt at night.
Swinging for the fences. Guarding my man tight.
It seemed like yesterday.
One year, by one year…it becomes so far away.

Summers of endless care. Back to school in the fall.
Springing onto everywhere. Even the winter was a ball.
Yet, our vision was so dull. So shallow. And so naïve.
Grades, sports, and friends were the focus of it all.
Crushes were a reach. It kept us real. It made us believe.
It seemed like yesterday.
One Year, by one year…it becomes so far away.

High School. Dances. Cliques. Coming of age. (We Think?)
Pressure. Stress. “Hey, we figured it out!” All of it a bridging link.
Now it’s College, parties, studying, and all-nighters in the dorm.
Intellect, questioning, revolutions, as curiosity becomes the norm.
Learning life’s wrongs. Improving the cons. Lifelong bonds.
It seemed like yesterday.
One year, by one year…it becomes so far away.

The past seems like a great ride, one which no longer moves.
Taking its place in a time capsule, available for the one it behooves.
Anywhere in its travel, its essence brings experience, accompanied by doubt.
One year longer. One year stronger.
One year closer, to figuring it all out.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Legally Over, Morally Just Beginning

Redskin.

It is a term that has been creating controversy for so long amongst the Native American and football communities. The term, "Redskin", was traditionally used by european settlers and invaders to describe Native Americans who were skinned and burnt at a stake. However, "Redskin", is also a term that resonates with football fans across the nation as being synonymous with tradition and lure in Washington D.C.

One word. Two different meanings. Who's correct?

After years of appeal, struggle, argument, and polls, the United States Court of Appeals finally ruled in favor of tradition. The tradition being in favor of the Washington Redskins football team.

Yours truly has touched base on this issue in the past regarding the use of the term as a team name, and it's respect for the native American community and Indian Country (A Missing Ingredient in the Melting Pot). After a seventeen year long dispute between Indian Country and the Washington Redskins, the issue can be put to rest.

Well, sort of.

Washington Redskins owner, Daniel Snyder, and his organization won the case based on copyright laws. The Redskins, who have owned, patented, and trademarked the phrase since 1967, never had any cases brought before them based on the controversial name until 1984. Not one. Not even from Indian Country.

The case was then ruled in favor of the Washington Redskins based on the statue of time.

The judge ruled that the case's decision was not based on "the larger issue of 'appropriateness of Native American imagery for team names.'"

Although correct in her judgment in regards to the law and this trial, her quote alone is cold, and full of hopelessness.

The court's decision was then uphelded in the U.S. Court of Appeals by a three judge panel, crushing any real chance in the future of having the name removed as an NFL entity.

Following the trial, Washington Redskins attorney, Bob Raskopf stated:

"Millions have been spent on the Redskins brand and the team would have suffered great economic loss if they lost the trademark registrations. I'ts a great day for the Redskins and their fans and their owner Dan Snyder. The time when the case could have been brought was 1967. So it's not going to get any easier for anybody to bring the case now"


Legally? He's correct. Morally? That is another issue.

Somehow, some way, this is issue is far from being over.

Friday, May 08, 2009

No Excuse: The Fall of Manny Ramirez

"Manny Ramirez suspended 50 games for drug violation."

As disappointing as this is to the baseball world, it seems the steroid fallout is far from being over.

The baseball world has been recovering from the news of Alex Rodriguez's use of performance enhancing drugs, yet, the news of Ramirez's positive test opened those sore wounds of disappointment. Ramirez, who is the greatest right-handed hitter of this generation, had a cult-like following and a lovable reputation with fans, that created a fun atmosphere in a child's game.

However, now he forever will be known as...cheater. Even more so than others.

Ramirez is by far the biggest name to be caught under Major League Baseball's new drug testing policy. With all the news surrounding Ramirez's positive test, and the impact it has on baseball's image, credit needs to go to MLB for it's effective policy, and for making an example of one of it's biggest stars.

Despite the numerous allegations regarding BALCO, The Mitchell Report, and the remaining 103 players for the supposed "list", Manny Ramirez was caught. No allegations, reports, or suspicions about it. As much as we've heard the excuse of taking "unknown substances" in the past, Ramirez had more than enough examples to learn from and evaluate to make a sound and beneficial decision.

The culture is no more. The excuses may not have been completely accepted, but were at least feasible in such an experimentation-filled, lack of discipline era. It was somewhat understandable.

What excuse can Ramirez have?

Ramirez wants us to believe that this whole situation is a huge misunderstanding revolving around prescribed doses from a doctor. The fact is, he tested positive for hCG, a substance used for restarting the body's ability to produce testosterone after coming off a cycle of using steroids.

What excuse can Ramirez have?

We've all bought into "Manny being Manny" for so many years. If this is what Manny has been about, we've all been fools.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Under 25 and Loaded: The Future Faces of Pitching


Major League baseball has enjoyed the rise of various stars throughout the league which has added a new, interesting, and fresh dynamic to the baseball landscape. In the past, we have touched base on a few of those stars who are helping to reshape and update the image of baseball.

However, on the other side of the spectrum are many great young pitchers. A few of those, who are downright exceptional in their character, image, potential, and talent. Here, yours truly, will spotlight fifteen pitchers, twenty-five years of age and younger, that will impact the future, become household names in their respective cities, and throughout Major League Baseball as well.

1. Joba Chamberlain, 23, New York Yankees - Joba broke onto the scene two years ago with a blazing fastball and a wicked slider anchoring the Yankee bullpen, and bridging the gap to Mariano Rivera. After much debate, Joba is now utilizing all four of his plus-pitches as a starter, and is poised to be a potential number one starter in the future. Joba's recent 12 strikeout performance were flashes of Joba's ability once his potential is attained.

Career Stats - Win-Loss:7-4 Innings Pitched: 153.0 Earned Run Average: 2.47  Strike Outs: 181

2. Matt Garza, 25, Tampa Bay Rays - An already accomplished pitcher that has had success in the post-season, Garza is often overlooked due to the success of teammate Scott Kazmir. However, Garza has the tools to become a mainstay amongst the great pitchers in the league debate, while maintaining his number two slot for the Rays behind future Ray number one in...

Career Stats - Win-Loss:22-24 Innings Pitched: 358.2 Earned Run Average: 3.97 Strike Outs: 269

3. David Price, 23, Tampa Bay Rays - Price had his coming out party on a big stage in the ALCS by sealing the American League pennant for the Rays over the Red Sox. The young twenty-three year old has the make up of a traditional power lefty exhibiting a high 90's fastball, and a sharp break-in stuff.
Career Stats - Win-Loss: 0-0 Innings Pitched: 14.0 Earned Run Average: 1.93 Strike Outs: 12

4. Zack Greinke, 25, Kansas City Royals - If you didn't know about Greinke before, you are definitely discovering his talent now. Greinke, is arguably baseball's best starting pitcher today sporting a 6-0 record with 54 strikeouts in 45 innings, and a microscopic 0.60 ERA. Greinke is sure to be the face of the future for the re surging Kansas City Royals.

Career Stats - Win-Loss: 40-45 Innings Pitched: 703.2 Earned Run Average: 4.03 Strike Outs: 562 

5. Cole Hamels, 25, Philadelphia Phillies - World Series MVP. National League CY Young candidate. Dominating stuff. Hamels has arrived, and will be a handful for the rest of the NL East for a long time to come.

Career Stats - Win-Loss: 38-25 Innings Pitched: 560.1 Earned Run Average: 3.55 Strike Outs: 533 

6. Tommy Hanson, 22, Atlanta Braves - Hanson, the Braves #1 prospect is considered a can't miss prospect as he has rocketed through their farm system breaking various records along the way. Look for Hanson to make his debut mid-season helping the big league club.

7. Jon Lester, 25, Boston Red Sox - Lester, like Hamels, is young, but has already thrown a no-hitter in the show, and has proven himself on the big stage in October. Lester, a cancer survivor, has given the Red Sox a left-handed, strikeout, innings-eating, pitcher that will eventually become their ace.

Career Stats - Win-Loss: 29-10 Innings Pitched: 391.2 Earned Run Average: 3.93 Strike Outs: 305 

8. Tim Lincecum, 24, San Francisco Giants - Lincecum, the small framed, funky delivery right hander has shown exemplary strikeout stuff in the bay area. The reigning National Cy Young award winner is off to a great 2009 as well, as he slowly becomes the face of the Giants.

Career Stats - Win-Loss: 28-11  Innings Pitched: 411.2 Earned Run Average: 3.15 Strike Outs: 465

9. Clayton Kershaw, 21, Los Angeles Dodgers - Kershaw, another dominating strikeout phenom out west has given the Dodgers a viable bid to fill their #1 slot. Kershaw, who had a brief playoff experience last year, looks to build upon his experience, develop his circle change, and continue growing into the lock down ace the Dodgers need in a pitching heavy NL West.

Career Stats - Win-Loss: 5-7 Innings Pitched: 135.2 Earned Run Average: 4.51 Strike Outs: 129

10. Stephen Strasburg, 20, San Diego State Aztecs; USA Baseball - Strasburg, the potential (most likely lock) number one pick in the 2009 MLB draft is expected to be selected by the Washington Nationals. Strasburg, who played on Team USA in the 2008 Olympics, has been labeled by scouts as a "once every twenty-five years" type of pitcher. He has recorded a 23 strikeout game this year. Strasburg has a fastball that consistently reaches 101mph, and has topped out at 103mph. Strasburg is currently 10-0 with 147 strikeouts in 78.1 innings for the Aztecs.

11. Brandon Morrow, 24, Seattle Mariners - Probably the best kept secret due to playing in the northwest, Morrow has nasty stuff. For most of 2008, Morrow was a reliever, then eventually taking over the closer's role for the injured J.J. Putz. The Mariners, who pushed Morrow back into the starter's role due to his dominant performances, managed to no-hit the Yankees for 7 2/3 in his first start. However, Morrow, who suffers from diabetes, will be placed back into relief, where he is sure to continue giving hitters problems.

Career Stats - Win-Loss: 6-9 Innings Pitched: 134.2 Earned Run Average: 3.74 Strike Outs: 149

12. Josh Johnson, 25, Florida Marlins - Johnson, selected by Hall of Famer, Peter Gammons, to be the 2009 National League Cy Young winner has done everything to prove Gammons correct. Johnson has good stuff that has already matched up with Johan Santana on two occasions this season.

Career Stats - Win-Loss: 21-11 Innings Pitched: 314.1 Earned Run Average: 3.41 Strike Outs: 272

13. Edinson Volquez, 25, Cincinnati Reds - Volquez, finally put it together in Cincinnati after struggling in the Rangers organization. Volquez, went on to start the All-Star Game for the National League. Volquez is expected to lead a young, but talented rotation for the Reds in 2009.

Career Stats - Win-Loss: 24-19 Innings Pitched: 312.1 Earned Run Average: 4.27 Strike Outs: 296 

14. Matt Cain, 24, San Francisco Giants. Cain is often overshadowed these days due to Lincecum's recent success. Nonetheless, Cain compliments Lincecum nicely as a young and dangerous one-two punch for San Francisco.

Career Stats - Win-Loss:  32-44 Innings Pitched: 591 Earned Run Average: 3.71 Strike Outs: 579

15. Felix Hernandez, 23, Seattle Mariners - Hernandez blew onto the scene at the age of 19 in to 2005 with a power fastball. Today, Hernandez, Seattle's best pitcher, continues to dominate, and appears to be set to do so for the foreseeable future.

Career Stats - Win-Loss:  43-37 Innings Pitched: 706.1 Earned Run Average: 3.77 Strike Outs: 638