Now I'm Hot, They all on me

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Now I'm Hot, They all on me

A year ago at this time, Alex Rodriguez was MLB enemy #1. He lied about his steroid use and was serving a 162 game suspension but like the great J. Cole said, “....your life can change in one year, even when its dark out the sun is shining somewhere”. Well I think the Sun is shining on A-Rod. 

Alex Rodriguez hit home run 661 Thursday night, passing Willie Mays on the all-time home run list, in the Yankees 4-5 win over the Orioles. A-Rod sent a Chris Tillman changeup over the wall in left center field in the third inning, giving the Yanks 3-2 lead. After he rounded the bases and entered the dugout, manager Joe Giradi gave him the nod to step out and accept his curtain call. It was definite an historical moment for A-Rod but what made it special was the humility he expressed after the game. 

Nobody will ever pass Willie Mays. I’ve talked about him being my father’s favorite player. There’s only one Willie Mays; not only what he did on the field, but what he meant off the field. He’s a legend. He’s also a role model for all of us.
— via ESPN.com

Homer 661 would have came in the 1st inning but O's right fielder, Delmon Young, robbed A-rod, snagging the ball on top of the wall in right field. Next for A-Rod to catch is “The Great Bambino” Babe Ruth, who is third with 714 bombs. 

A-Rod has been a big reason why the Yankees are leading the AL East with an 18-12 record. At DH A-Rod has hit 7 home runs and 18 RBIs with a .231 batting average.  

The New York fans has been very hospitable towards A-Rod which is somewhat surprising to me. A part of me is surprised because of the fact that he did lie and is costing the Yankees millions of dollars but then again, he is playing well and the Yankees are winning which makes the forgiving process much easier. A-Rod hasn't been voted to an All-Star game since 2011 and if he can stay at this pace, I think he will be voted in which will be a true sign that all has been forgiven. 

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The No Fans Game

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The No Fans Game

(Baltimore) 2015 has been a memorable year for me, especially the month of April, even more so this past week. I wrote about the turmoil that happened on April 25th, which I had to witness via Television. Monday, April 27th, I took a break from all sports and focused on helping create a better image of our city after one of our worst moments. 

The MLB was forced to postpone the Orioles game with the White Sox. A game in which I acquired media credentials, my first professional game as a media member. A game that was slated to be a regular O's  vs. Sox game, turned out to be a once in a lifetime moment. 

I can tell my grand kids I attended a game where there were ZERO fans in attendance, and honestly, it may have been the best game I ever experienced. Media members who were over the age 50 were marveled by the historical moment, still being able to witness something they have never seen before despite years of experience.

Prior to the game, I didn't know what to expect, which made me feel very indifferent. Fan's bring excitement to the game and  help generate momentum. I thought it would be a drag to watch a "lifeless" game  but once the first pitch was thrown, it turned out to be one of the best moments of my life. 

In the 1st inning, the O's got off to a fast start. Ubaldo Jimenez sat down the first three batters to open the game, striking out both Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu. Ubaldo had himself a good day, going 7 innings, only allowing 3 hits and 2 earned runs. I would say Ubaldo set the tone for the team and killed my curiosity about how the momentum would build. Fans outside the gate helped also. 

The game was pretty much over after the first inning. The entire Orioles' lineup got the opportunity to face White Sox's starter, Jeff Samardzija, who had a very rough day in a quiet stadium. Samardzija went 5 innings, giving up 7 earned runs, 6 of which came in the 1st.

Chris Davis hit a 3-run bomb onto to Eutaw Street, giving the O's an early 6-0 lead. 

Manny Machado also hit a home run in the 4th inning, jogging the bases in an empty stadium. It was a surreal feeling being a part of history. Oriole fans showed much support cheering from outside of the stadium, making sure you heard them loud and clear. 

Sitting in a pressbox with some well respected baseball writers was a great experience. Being from Baltimore,  it was an honor to be one of few that was able to witness "The No Fan Game" from inside the gates. (Kendall Hilton/Fan-i Sports) 

Sitting in a pressbox with some well respected baseball writers was a great experience. Being from Baltimore,  it was an honor to be one of few that was able to witness "The No Fan Game" from inside the gates. (Kendall Hilton/Fan-i Sports) 

As the game went on, I started to fall in love with the beauty of the game. No fans meant no show. I was blessed with the opportunity to watch baseball at it's purest form. You could hear the players call out fly balls in the outfield. Without the fans, there were no distractions from the game. You had to sit and actually watch the ballgame, which for me, was very refreshing and ironic, being that our brand is based solely on being a fan. 

The game only took 2 hours and 3 minutes to complete. An average MLB game is at least 3 hours in duration, but things seemed to have went quickly with no one in attendance. 

At the 1:51 mark, you'll hear me ask O's manager, Buck Showalter, a question that has made a few headlines across the country. I would like to thank Buck for answering my question and giving me an honest and genuine answer. 

Baltimore is going through a crisis right now which is the reason why this historical game happened. People seem to be uncomfortable talking about why the game was fanless. I noticed a lot of the media coverage for this game choose not to speak on what was going on outside of the stadium. I understand why one would want to speak only on Baseball but when you have historical moments, you have to examine the good, the bad, and the ugly of the situation. I'm not telling other media outlets to speak on the crisis in Baltimore but I will assure you that Fan-I Sports will bring that conversation to the public. 

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O's vs White Sox Preview

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O's vs White Sox Preview

The Orioles and White Sox are coming into this series needing a string of wins to get over the .500 hump. The Orioles are currently 9-10 while the White Sox are 8-9, both riding a 2-game win streak. 

The O's are coming off a series win over division foe, Boston Red Sox. Friday Night, the Red Sox defeated the O's 7-5 thanks to an 8th inning three-run homer by Brock Holt off a Darren O'Day fastball that sat right over the plate. 

The O's would come back Saturday night with some late game magic of their own, David Lough hitting a walk-off home run in the 10th inning to give the O's a 5-4 victory, also ending their 5-game losing streak.

Unfortunately, Saturday's victory was overshadowed by chaos on the outside of the stadium .

Sunday, the O's just blew the doors off the Red Sox, driving in 18 runs off 20 hits, most points they've scored since 2000. Everyone in the lineup for the Orioles contributed in some type of way, whether it was a hit, walk, or run. The Red Sox would score 7 runs, all coming in the last 3 innings. Bud Norris also notched his first victory with his performance, pitching for 6 2/3 innings and allowing 3 earned runs. 

The White Sox are coming off a series win against their division foe, the Kansas City Royals. Thursday night both teams got into a scuffle, which led to 7 players being suspended, Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija both receiving 5 game suspensions and will likely miss this series against the Orioles pending their appeals.

White Sox took 2 out 3 against the Royals, all three games being decided by less than 2 runs. In a 3-2 victory from a suspended game on Friday that was resumed on Sunday, Avisail Garcia drove in the winning run with his RBI single in the 9th inning. Sunday's official game ended with a 5-3 result for the White Sox, all 5 of their runs coming in the 6th inning. 

Ubaldo Jimenez will start for the Orioles while Hector Noesi will start for the White Sox in the opening game of the series.

Noesi is 0-2 in 2 starts this season. He has allowed 6 earned runs in 10 innings of work. Some Orioles has had success against Noesi, most notably Adam Jones and Alejandro De Aza. Both De Aza and Jones have a +.600 batting average against Noesi, combing for 18 at-bats, 6 RBIs, and 11 hits. He also has a 1-4 record against the O's in 9 games (4 starts), allowing 17 earned runs. His last start came against the Indians on April 21st, which resulted in a loss after he allowed 4 hits and 4 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. 

Jimenz is looking for his 2nd victory of the season. So far this season, he has an ERA of 2.30 and has only allowed 4 earned runs in 15 2/3 innings. Jimenez isn't no stranger to the Sox, playing 3 seasons with the Indians in the AL Central but he hasn't had great success. 2-3 in 10 starts against the White Sox with 33 earned runs in 59 1/3 innings. 

In order for the O's to extend their two-game win streak, they must strap down on their pitching. The Orioles have the highest ERA in the league right now, 5.04, which is not championship caliber baseball. Last year the O's went 5-1 against the Sox, outscoring the Sox 27-16. 

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Rebuilding the Magic: 2015 O's Preview

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Rebuilding the Magic: 2015 O's Preview

With less than two weeks remaining before Opening Day, it's time to start getting into Baseball mode. Some of you may already be in baseball mode with Spring Training in full gear but like the NFL Preaseason, it's nothing like the real thing. 

The Baltimore Orioles are coming into this season as the defending AL East Champs, their first pennant since 1996. Last season wasn't as magical as the 2012 season, when they ended the 14-year playoff drought because people expected them to make a big splash. It was fun to watch though, Nelson Cruz having an MVP caliber season, Adam Jones web gems, the 60th anniversary game, and the Pennant clinching game at the end of the season.

Now it's time to aim for a repeat. A couple big names will be missing from last year squad, Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis. Money is the reason for both players departure, Nelson receiving 4-years $57 million from the Mariners, while the Braves gave Markakis 4-years $47 million. I actually thought one of the two should have stayed, especially since they didn't have crazy price tags. According to Markakis, the O's were scared of his neck problem reason why Nick is now playing in Atlanta. 

I was disappointed to see Nelson depart only because it will be hard to match that production. Cruz had a career high 40 home runs and kept the O's in good shape while the rest of the team was still trying to find their swing. While Chris Davis struggled batting a .196, Cruz stepped up into that role as the cleanup hitter the O's needed. Now Chris Davis will have to step back up into that cleanup and he nor the Orioles, can afford another bad season from him. 

Last season the O's made a late splash in the free agency with Nelson, but have yet to mimic that this season. Mostly all of the off-season moves were in house. Oriole's worked on trying to keep their own, agreeing to terms with Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, Chris Tillman, and Tommy Hunter just to name a few. 

Matt Wieters is the biggest question mark of that list because he is coming off of Tommy John surgery. Wieters will not be apart of the Opening Day Roster for the first time in 5 years, which isn't detrimental to the team's success. It's no definite timetable when Wieters will be able to sit behind the plate but Buck Showalter said they are ahead of schedule. March 17th, Weiters was shut down due to tendinitis in his elbow, which eliminated the idea of returning on Opening Day. Here is Wieters comments about missing opening day,   

Adam is the heart and soul of this team and last year he had another MVP caliber season, batting .281 with 29 home runs and 96 RBIs,. I expect Adam to truly become a bigger household name than what he already is. I don't think the world really know how great of a player he is. (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)

Adam is the heart and soul of this team and last year he had another MVP caliber season, batting .281 with 29 home runs and 96 RBIs,. I expect Adam to truly become a bigger household name than what he already is. I don't think the world really know how great of a player he is. (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)

I was disappointed to see Nelson depart only because it will be hard to match that production. Cruz had a career high 40 home runs and kept the O's in good shape while the rest of the team was still trying to find their swing. While Chris Davis struggled batting a .196, Cruz stepped up into that role as the cleanup hitter the O's needed. Now Chris Davis will have to step back up into that cleanup and he nor the Orioles, can afford another bad season from him. 

Last season the O's made a late splash in the free agency with Nelson, but have yet to mimic that this season. Mostly all of the off-season moves were in house. Oriole's worked on trying to keep their own, agreeing to terms with Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, Chris Tillman, and Tommy Hunter just to name a few. 

Matt Wieters is the biggest question mark of that list because he is coming off of Tommy John surgery. Wieters will not be apart of the Opening Day Roster for the first time in 5 years, which isn't detrimental to the team's success. It's no definite timetable when Wieters will be able to sit behind the plate but Buck Showalter said they are ahead of schedule. March 17th, Weiters was shut down due to tendinitis in his elbow, which eliminated the idea of returning on Opening Day. Here is Wieters comments about missing opening day,   

It’s hard, and it’s what – the last five years, been able to be on the Opening Day [roster], It’s a special date, it’s always fun to experience it, but at the same time, I want to be there at the end of the year and I’d much rather be playing for the playoffs as opposed to playing on that Opening Day date.
— via Baltimore Sun

It would be nice to see Wieters on Opening Day but I agree with him, playoff is a lot more important. Caleb Joeseph will continue as Wieters replacement, which is a blessing since he has the experience from last year's playoff run. 

The team will also get back Manny Machado who suffered a second knee injury in 3 years. Before his injury Manny was batting .278 while playing in 82 games, returning from his first knee injury in early may. Even though his bat will be needed this year, many O's fans will feel a lot more comfortable with him playing the corner at 3rd base. I don't think you can find a better defensive 3rd basemen in the MLB than Manny Machado. He rarely lets anything gets pass him and you can't forget about the cannon for an arm he has. With Machado and Wieters back in the lineup, the loss of production from Cruz and Markakis departure won't be as severe as the rest of the country predicts it will be. 

Certain spots on the field still remain unclear, especially in the outfield. Adam Jones of course is solidified in Center Field, while Alejandro De Aza will more than likely be the Opening Day starter in Left Field but Right Field is still open.

David Lough has started 8 games in the outfield and played a total of 62 innings in Spring Training so he look to be the likely starter. I don't have much faith in Lowe as an everyday starter but he has success as a utility players for the O's. Steve Pearce and Travis Snider will be waiting in the wings to replace Lough but if I had to choose one it will be Pearce. Pearce had a breakout season playing in the outfield and 1st base, batting .293 with 21 home runs. 

I hope Schoop comes out of Spring Training as the starting 2nd baseman. I was really impressed with the 22 year old Schoop last season, hitting 16 Home Runs. Buck think that Schoop can be a Gold-Glover only if he continues to work hard in spring training. I'm sure he will take heed to Buck's positive words.  (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun)

I hope Schoop comes out of Spring Training as the starting 2nd baseman. I was really impressed with the 22 year old Schoop last season, hitting 16 Home Runs. Buck think that Schoop can be a Gold-Glover only if he continues to work hard in spring training. I'm sure he will take heed to Buck's positive words.  (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun)

Lowe is also fighting for a roster spot with a few other players like Johnathan Schoop, Jimmy Paredes, Ryan Flaherty, and Evan Cabera who recently signed with the O's this season.  The one thing that matters most to Buck is defense, so whoever plays the best defense will be on the field. Even if you are a very good hitter, you're level of defense will determine how much time you will get. 

The pitching staff doesn't have many questions because the same names still remain. Chris Tillman will once again be at the top of the rotation, followed by Wei Yin Chen, and Bud Norris. Ubaldo Jimenez, Miguel Gonzales, and Kevin Gausman are fighting for the two remaining spots in the rotation and if I had to choose right now it would be Gausman and Jimenez. 

Only reason why I am throwing Jimenz in the mix is because he is owed $50 million, and you can not have that kind of investment waiting in the bullpen. The question on whether or not he is earning it is another topic. Last season, Jimenez didn't live up to that contract going 6-9 in 22 starts with a 4.81 ERA. I believe in giving people second chances and I think Jimenez deserves one. He knows that the fans were disappointed with his performance last season so expectations will be high for him.  

Kevin Gausman really impressed me in the postseason with his performance out of the bullpen, the then 23-year old (turned 24 in January) showed great poise in clutch situations only allowing 1 run with 7 strikeouts in 8 innings of work, utilizing his high heat fastball. I think the O's have found a gem with Gausman and the future looks bright with him, Tillman, and Norris still young and flourishing. I expect our young staff to perform a step up better from last year, especially Tillman and Gausman. This is the first year that I am comfortable with the team not having a BIG NAME ACE apart of the staff, instead we're grooming our own.

Overall I expect another good season from the O's. Losing Cruz and Markakis does worry me but getting Wieters and Machado back evens it out. Buck Showalters also gives me some added comfort because he can have an average team and turn them into an American League contender. No big off-season acquisition like the Cruz deal last year but I'll admit we got lucky being able to sign him for such a low price tag. I see them making a move during the season but for now, I think this is a team built for success. Very excited for opening day, See You At The Yard!

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Cheaters

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Cheaters

This is not something to bash any player that has been labeled as a cheater or a user of PEDs but instead try to figure out why players in baseball are chastised for cheating more so than athletes of the other major leagues. If you're caught cheating, the players, the fans, and the sport writers will never let you live it down. 

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Mr. 3000

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Mr. 3000

 I will say it will be bittersweet seeing Mr. November aka Captain Clutch walk away from the game.

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GET PAID

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GET PAID

The NFL has a ceiling on their players because they have a salary cap, the NBA too but it's looser than the NFL. MLB on the other hand, has no salary cap, meaning players can break the bank and then break another bank.

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