Pepper: Duel in Fenway
Posted on: May 19, 2011 10:23 am
Edited on: May 19, 2011 6:24 pm
By Matt Snyder
BASEBALL TODAY: There's no more tasty matchup than Josh Beckett and Justin Verlander squaring off in Fenway Park as the Tigers take on the red hot Red Sox. Also, how will CC Sabathia, Jair Jurrjens and Madison Bumgarner fare? I discuss all of these items in CBSSports.com's Baseball Today. See above.
MOST MARKETABLE: Three baseball players check in as members of the top 50 most marketable athletes in the world. Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt is at the top with LeBron James second. The MLB guys are Albert Pujols (25), Joe Mauer (31) and Brian Wilson (34). (SportsMedia.com) Great, so now everyone is going to grow out a beard like that?
MORE ON PHILLIPS' VISIT: Remember the story about Brandon Phillips going to watch a 14-and-under All-Star game being played by one of his Twitter followers? Well, the Dayton Daily News has the full story. Not only did Phillips show up, but he stayed for six innings. Here's what the parents of the young Twitter follower, named Connor, had to say about Phillips: "[He was] bombarded by people. He must have signed a hundred autographs. Connor kind of wanted to invite him into the dugout to give him some relief, but it seemed like Brandon was enjoying himself. And whenever Connor got up to hit, he’d always stop and watch him." Connor ended up gathering two singles and a double in front of Phillips, as his team won 12-4. As for Phillips' comments? “I had a good time. The parents were really into the game. Everybody had a lot of fun, and it reminded me again of why I play and why I do what I do on the field ... and off. It’s about love. I just love the game.”
ACKLEY KID: Michael Pineda's done a decent job (understatement alert) in his rookie campaign, so what about the Mariners promoting their top hitting prospect, Dustin Ackley? Once Stephen Strasburg was off the board, you may have quit paying attention, but Ackley was the second overall pick in that draft. Ackley plays second base and is swinging a good bat in Triple-A -- .280 average with six home runs, 21 RBI, 27 runs, nine doubles, six stolen bases and an .844 OPS in 40 games. Thus, it's rather obvious why Mariners fans would be pining for the 23 year old. The always-thoughtful Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times discusses why Ackley hasn't gotten the call yet and when he might get it (hint: sometime in June).
NEW RIVALRY: A good discussion with the writers on StLtoday.com: Has the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry been surpassed by the Cardinals-Reds? I'll weigh in as our resident Cubs fan. I think there's a difference between historic fan rivalries and present on-field rivalries. I don't think the rivalry between Cubs and Cardinals fans would ever be surpassed by that of the Reds vs. Cardinals in terms of historic stature, but in 2011 as a stand-alone season, it's Reds-Cardinals and it's not even close. This is because those are the two best teams in the division and they seem to genuinely dislike each other. To use another midwest example, Indiana and Purdue are always top rivals in basketball, but with Indiana down the past few years, Purdue had much bigger games on the slate.
MORE ON THE CARDS-REDS: Meanwhile, Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan calls remarks made by Reds announcer Marty Brennaman "classless." (StLtoday.com)
THE UNKNOWN: The first round of the MLB draft is June 6, and the Pirates are narrowing down the field for their first selection. It's interesting to say that because for the first time since 2008, it's not a foregone conclusion who the top pick is going to be. Both Strasburg and Bryce Harper were the obvious No. 1 picks in the past two drafts. On the flip-side, the Pirates are considering around five different players. Reportedly, the three favorites are UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole, Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon and Virginia pitcher Danny Hultzen. (MLB.com)
POSTING CHANGE: NPB (that's Japan's professional league to those unaware) may change it's posting system for players looking to sign with Major League Baseball. The most famous posting issue is when the Red Sox ponied up just over $50 million just for the rights to exclusively negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka. By the time the Red Sox signed him to a contract, they'd paid over $100 million. There are lots of other cases, obviously, that's just the most notorious. Anyway, the proposed change would be to award negotiating rights to the top three bidders. This would probably help the players make more money and be more fair to the bidding MLB teams. (NPB Tracker)
DEROSA DOWN: Giants third baseman Mark DeRosa is out "for a long time" after re-injuring his surgically repaired wrist. This may speed up a move of Aubrey Huff across the diamond with Brandon Belt taking over at first base -- at least until Pablo Sandoval is ready to come back. (SFgate.com) While we're here, I'm going to stand up for DeRosa as a man to the Giants fans (it's a minority, so let's not paint the entire fan base with one brush) celebrating his injury just because he's underperformed on the field. DeRosa is a great guy and great teammate. It takes a special kind of (bad) person to wish chronic injuries on someone else, especially when those bad wishes are upon a good person. Oh, while we're here ...
WHY THOLE QUIT TWITTER: Mets catcher Josh Thole joined Twitter to interact with fans, and instead had to close his account because he was tired of everyone taking shots at him -- including one loser who said he didn't care if Thole died. (NYDailyNews.com) It's amazing how "tough" people get under the cloak of anonymity. Actually, amazing is the wrong word. It's pathetic. There are few places where I'll ever break out the sanctimony, but this is one of them. If you use the Internet to tell people you want them dead because of how they play baseball -- or anything comparable such as political views, religious views, favorite musicians or taste in TV shows -- you are dregs of society and seriously need to get a life.
RECOVERED RINGS: Kyle Kendrick had his 2008 World Series championship ring stolen from his home on March 30, but it has been recovered by police in an unrelated investigation. There were several other items recovered by police, including Kendrick's 2009 NLCS ring. (CSNPhilly.com)
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Tags: AL Central, AL Central, AL East, AL East, AL West, Albert Pujols, Brandon Phillips, Braves, Brian Wilson, Cardinals, CC Sabathia, Dustin Ackley, Giants, Jair Jurrjens, Joe Mauer, Josh Beckett, Josh Thole, Justin Verlander, Kyle Kendrick, Madison Bumgarner, Mariners, Mark DeRosa, Mets, NL Central, NL East, NL East, NL West, Phillies, Pirates, Red Sox, Reds, Tigers, Twins, Yankees