Tag Archive | "A Rod"

A-Rod Finally Hits No. 600, anybody notice?

The wait is over, and we can all breathe easy.  No, the BP hasn’t gotten the oil leak completely plugged just yet.   

 The second-longest wait in America is over – Alex Rodriguez finally hit his 600th home run today, blasting a 2-run shot off Toronto’s Shaun Marcum into straightaway center field.  Luckily for the Yankees, the ball landed in a net that hangs above Monument Park, thus enabling the team to retrieve it and auction it off online.  Commemorative infield dirt, anyone? (the actual ball is pictured here).

 A-Rod becomes only the seventh player in MLB history to do so.  In addition, at age 35, he is now the youngest player to hit number 600 (Yankee legend Babe Ruth was the previous record-holder, hitting his at age 36).  While this is an impressive accomplishment, what’s even more astounding is the lack of interest in A-Rod’s home run.

Let’s face it – “A-Fraud” is probably only second behind “BALCO” Barry Bonds in terms of the fans’ least-favorite modern slugger.  Rodriguez is always going to have the stigma of prior performance enhancing drug use (or as he called it in his infamous 2009 press conference, “Boli”), so this should come as no surprise.  There has been very little buzz about #600 outside of the New York tri-state area.  And even there, some of the local media, such as ESPN’s Ian O’Connor, aren’t afraid to state this fact.

In fact, a lot of baseball fans were openly rooting for him to have a prolonged home run drought, similar to the anti-Bonds backlash as he prepared to break Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record.  The opposite was true in 1998 during the McGwire/Sosa home run “chase.”

The bottom line is that no one cares.  America in 2010 is a lot different than it was in previous decades.  The majority of sports fans don’t much care for athletes that cheat (Tiger Woods), think they’re above the law (Ben Roethlisberger) or are even the least bit narcissistic (LeBron James). 

At least now we can move on to more important things, like the story that stole A-Rod’s thunder − Brett Favre’s latest retire/un-retire debacle.  Now there’s an athlete who has his finger on the fans’ pulse.

Used with permission of the author.

Chris Lardieri covers the Los Angeles Dodgers for Examiner.com and has written about Major League Baseball for Inside Edge, a scouting company that provides content to ESPN Insider and Yahoo Sports. He previously wrote for 1766, the Rutgers Alumni Magazine, and popular blog, ‘The Outer Loop’.  Be sure to follow Chris on Twitter for more MLB and sports observations.

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax, LLC

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Twins’ Mauer Signs 4th Largest Contract in MLB History

The Minnesota Twins have signed catcher and local Joe Mauer to a massive eight year, $184 million contract, whichJoe Mauer Twins Photo includes a full no-trade clause. The contract is the fourth largest in Major League Baseball history in both value and average salary.

Mauer, who was entering the final year of his current contract with the Twins, got the new new deal that will cover him through the 2018 season, when he will be only 34.

In this final season of his current $33 million, four-year contract, Mauer will earn $12.5 million then under the extension agreed to yesterday, he will earn $23 million in each of the next eight years of his new contract.

Even Mauer’s teammates were impressed with the deal. Twins center fielder Denard Span reportedly tweeting, “184 million for Mauer! Wow.”

Mauer, 26, has won three American League batting titles and was last year’s American League MVP. He is considered one of the best defensive catchers in baseball.

The only contracts bigger than Mauer’s deal are the $275 deal Alex Rodriguez signed with the Yankees in December 2007, the A-Rod $252 deal he signed with Texas in 2000 and a $189 deal signed by Derek Jeter in 2001 with the Yankees. Roger Clemens’ $28,000 prorated deal in 2007 with the Yankees in which he actually received $17, 443, and the $25.2 million Rodriguez deal with Texas are the only two higher average salaries than Mauer’s. CC Sabathia, now with the Yankees, also has an average salary of $23 million.

This signing makes Mauer the highest-paid catcher, surpassing Jorge Posada’s four year $52.4 million with the Yankees.

Mauer was the Twins’ No. 1 overall pick in 2001. After sitting out the first month of last season, he hit 28 home runs and had 96 RBIs, helping propel the Twins in the AL Central Division champs.

A press conference will be held at the Twins spring training facility in Fort Myers, Florida, at 7pm this evening.

In addition to writing her Chicago Cubs column for Examiner.com, Miriam Romain has been published in several Cubs annuals by Maple Street Press and is a contributor to SportsClimax.com . She is also writing a book with the working title “Summers at Wrigley with my Dad.”

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax™

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McGwire’s Brother Spills Guts in Book on Steroid Abuse

Jay McGwire and brother Mark haven’t spoken much since 2002 and with brother Jay’s book “Mark Photo Credit: Jay McGwireand Me: Mark McGwire and the Truth Behind Baseball’s Worst-Kept Secret,” scheduled to hit the bookstores Monday, don’t expect these two to exchange Christmas gifts any time soon.

In the book, Jay, an avid body-builder and heavy steroid user shares information with the world that up to this point, Mark has managed to keep away from the media, league and fans.

Jay told ESPN he reveals the details and types of performance-enhancing drugs he says Big Mac used during a three-year stretch beginning in 1994. He also suggests that Big Mac is dodging the truth since admitting his drug use days before Spring Training opened.

“Mark knows that he was getting stronger and bigger, come on,” Jay told ESPN. “He is coming across that it is only for health reasons, but he put on 30 pounds of lean muscle mass. That is why a lot of people don’t understand why he is not really coming out clean like that. Why not just admit it all? It is OK, everyone knows how powerful these drugs are.”

Back when it all started, Jay said he drove up to Sacramento with Mark and talked about the options and types of drugs available. “Mark asked a lot of questions. He was more concerned about something that is going to help him [get] healthy. At that time he had lot of foot problems, lower back problems. So we thought about getting him on HGH and Deca-Durabolin.”

As time went on, Jay said Mark’s drug menu expanded to include Dianabol, Clenbuterol, Primobolan and Winstrol.
“I just look at steroids as a shortcut,” said Jay. “It prolonged his career. He got some big contracts out of it”.

That he did as Big Mac extended his career and earned approximately $60 million between 1995 and 2001.
Jay compliments how his brother helped put Major League Baseball back on the map.

“He turned the game around. Come on, he got people in the stands. Remember when they’d go out and hit batting practice there would be 25,000 people for batting practice. That is neat. That is what baseball needed, but the steroid thing got way out of hand and Major League Baseball didn’t do anything and it got into the government.”

“I think he was freaky for a baseball player,” said Jay. “His forearms are 17½ inches. His biceps were 19-plus. That is pretty freak. His leg power is huge. If you see the before and after pictures, look back and look at them in ’98 compared to ’88. It is a huge difference. But I want to make it very clear it wasn’t just the drugs. People under estimate the training behind it. Mark busted his butt.”

During the interview with ESPN, Jay said Mark worked “ridiculously hard” sometimes as many as 6 times a week and that the changes were not just brought on by the drugs.

Seeing the payoff, Jay believes Mark’s enhanced physical stature and increased success at the plate convinced other MLB stars to get involved in steroid use.

“I think these other athletes, A-Rod, Manny, Sosa, they saw Mark way back in the mid-’80s. They saw him grow and grow and grow. He’s not the one telling everyone, ‘Hey, I’m doing steroids.’ But I think people assumed that he was doing something, so I think that he motivated a lot of people . . . the temptation is overwhelming.”

Jay also finds it odd that investigators never contacted him while exploring steroid use for MLB commish Bud Selig, even after the contents of his book leaked out last year.

“It’s funny, huh?” said Jay. “You’d think that you’d want to go to the core of the story. And no one has really suspected me. I’ve been the person all along.”

According to ESPN, Mark did not return phone requests left with his spokesman, Ari Fleischer or the St. Louis Cardinals. Mark is currently the hitting coach for his former team.

When Jay was asked about brother Mark not remembering what type of steroids or enhancers he used, Jay believes that to be untrue. “Yeah, he knows,” Jay said. “I just think he is coached. He didn’t want to talk about it.”

Copyright 2010 Sports Climax™

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Mark McGwire Admits Using Steroids During Record Home Run Season

Mark McGwire decided to come clean and finally admitted using steroids throughout his career, including the year he broke the single-season home run record.

McGwire had basically fallen off the map since McGwiredodging the steroid question in front of a congressional committee in March 2005. Now that the former Major League Baseball player is preparing to coach this season for the St. Louis Cardinals he must have thought it was best to address the issue prior to the season to avoid a media circus when spring training starts (Google Alex Rodriguez).

During an interview with the Associated Press, McGwire apologized. “The toughest thing is my wife, my parents, close friends have had no idea that I hid it from them all this time,” said McGwire. “I knew this day was going to come. I didn’t know when.”

McGwire went on to admit using steroids and HGH throughout a decade and during the time he broke Roger Maris’ home run record in 1998.

“I wish I had never touched steroids,” McGwire said. “It was foolish and it was a mistake.”

According to the AP, McGuire called Commissioner Bud Selig, St. Louis manager Tony La Russa and Maris’ widow, Pat to personally break the news then called the AP for the interview.

“It was a wrong thing what I did. I totally regret it. I just wish I was never in that era,” he said.

McGwire finished his career with 583 home runs, tied for eighth on the all-time list. His record of 70 home runs in 1998 only held up for three years then it was surpassed by Barry Bonds’ 73 homers in 2001. In addition, his resume includes 1987 AL Rookie of the Year and 12 trips to the All-Star Game.

Ironically this admission comes just days after the latest Hall Of Fame vote that saw McGwire get a mere 23 percent vote, well below the 75 percent necessary to make it to Cooperstown.

“This has nothing to do with the Hall of Fame,” he said. “This has to do with me coming clean, getting it off my chest, and five years that I’ve held this in. There’s no way a pill or an injection will give you hand-eye coordination or the ability or the great mind that I’ve had as a baseball player,” he said. “I was always the last one to leave. I was always hitting by myself. I took care of myself.”

He said he first used steroids between the 1989 and 1990 seasons, after helping the Oakland Athletics to a World Series sweep when he and Jose Canseco formed the Bash Brothers.

“When you work out at gyms, people talk about things like that. It was readily available,” he said. “I tried it for a couple of weeks. I really didn’t think much of it.”

He said he returned to steroids after the 1993 season after being told steroids might speed his recovery.

“I did this for health purposes. There’s no way I did this for any type of strength purposes,” he said.

McGwire’s 70 homers in 1998 was part of a head-to-head battle with Chicago Cubs Sammy Sosa who finished with 66. Sosa, like McGuire, has brushed off and denied using steroids thus far and was reprimanded when he was caught using an illegal bat around that same time.

Selig praised McGwire, saying, “This statement of contrition, I believe, will make Mark’s re-entry into the game much smoother and easier.” If anyone knows about damage control it’s Selig. The commissioner has had his hands full over the years with the New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez admitting using steroids, Bonds facing criminal charges accused of lying when questioned about steroids and Roger Clemens currently being investigated for possibly lying to Congress concerning his involvement in steroid use.

Rafael Palmeiro is another player who denied using steroids but then tested positive for one later that year.

“I’m sure people will wonder if I could have hit all those home runs had I never taken steroids,” McGwire said. “I had good years when I didn’t take any, and I had bad years when I didn’t take any. I had good years when I took steroids, and I had bad years when I took steroids. But no matter what, I shouldn’t have done it and for that I’m truly sorry.”

Related Articles:

It’s Time to Decorate Cooperstown with a Variety of Asterisks – Sports Climax

Aaron Says Bonds Should Keep Home Run Record – Sports Climax

Copyright © 2010 – Sports Climax

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Twins Get Boned, Then Lose to Yankees 4-3

NEW YORK – The botched call left field umpire Phil Cuzzi made last night during the New York Yankees 4-3 victory over the cuzzi-callvisiting Minnesota Twins is sending shock waves through the baseball world, especially in Minnesota where the Twins return home down 2-0 in their five-game series against the New York Yankees.

Detroit Tigers fans may be referring to this call as justice. Just days earlier, home plate umpire Randy Marsh missed Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge getting hit by a pitch in the 12th inning with the bases loaded in crucial Game 163 against these same Twins.

Like the Twins, the Tigers should have been guaranteed at least one run and both went on to lose in the bottom of the same inning the botched calls occurred.

In the top of the 11th inning of last night’s game, Twins’ catcher Joe Mauer ripped a line shot down the left field line that glanced off Melky Cabrera’s glove in fair territory then clearly landed fair, several inches inside the left field line.

Mauer should have been awarded a ground rule double but instead, Mauer was given a single, the Twins followed with two singles loading the bases with no out but failed to score. Cuzzi’s call took a run from the Twins as Mauer would have crossed home plate on one of those hits.

Like Tigers Manager Jim Leyland a week earlier, Ron Gardenhire did not directly blame the outcome of the game on the call considering their teams had plenty of other opportunities to win the games.

Crew chief Tim Tschida admitted seeing the tape of the Mauer hit after the game and admitted it was a blown call then offered this comment, “There’s a guy [Cuzzi] sitting over in the umpire’s dressing room right now that feels horrible. Nobody feels it worse than the umpire.”

Don’t be so sure about that.

Sports Climax received several emails from our readers slamming this call. One reader asked if that were a case of a “Jersey Ump on the Take?” The email continued, “I would check his [Cuzzi’s] bank account today to see if the bookee’s [sic] check has cleared. He was less than 20 feet away, staring right at it and missed it twice. Yankee Magic! Yankee Cheat!!”

Not sure about bookies or payoffs but after viewing the video of the play, a visit to his optician should certainly be recommended.

Copyright © 2009 – Sports Climax

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Selig continues his damage control tour

ATLANTA – While Barry Bonds prepares for his trial and Roger Clemens awaits word on perjury charges, Major League Baseball (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)commissioner Bud Selig remains on the hot seat following New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez’ press conference yesterday in Tampa.While the media spends their time over-analyzing how much truth A-Rod’s statements contained, many people still question whether Selig has spent the past decade ignoring his league’s steroid abuse problem.

Selig is quick to deflect the blame.

During a Newsday interview, Selig continued defending his reputation, “I don’t want to hear the commissioner turned a blind eye to this or he didn’t care about it,” said Selig. “That annoys the you-know-what out of me. You bet I’m sensitive to the criticism.”

“A lot of people say we should have done this or that, and I understand that. They ask me, ‘How could you not know? When I look back at where we were in ’98 and where we are today, I’m proud of the progress we’ve made.”

“Starting in 1995, I tried to institute a steroid policy,” Selig continued. “Needless to say, it was met with strong resistance. We were fought by the union every step of the way.”

Many of us close to baseball assumed there was enhancement help of some kind during the 1998 home run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire. Why would it suddenly be possible for not only one, but two players to breeze past Maris’ HR record the same year with one guy nailing 70 out of the park.

I remember driving down the interstate in Chicago during that summer of ’98 with my wife and most every day that week the numbers on the banner keeping tabs on Sosa’s race were increasing by the day, reaching far past Roger Maris’ record of 61. Sosa ended up with 66 that year, four behind McGuire’s record-setting 70.

When asked about that home run race, Selig continues to defend himself and the league. In diminutive defense of Selig, the MLBPA union and the owners did not implement a joint drug program until 2002 with that agreement allowing punishment starting in 2004 so his argument is that his hands were somewhat tied.

“It is important to remember that these recent revelations relate to pre-program activity,” Selig told Newsday. “Under our current drug program, if you are caught using steroids and/or amphetamines, you will be punished. Since 2005, every player who has tested positive for steroids has been suspended for as much as 50games.”

While receiving a little bit of help from icons like Hank Aaron, Selig remains in a difficult position, being asked to throw his players and league under the bus and may be forced to remain in the damage-control mode for many months to come.

The Commish could always consider deflecting some of the recent attention of the ’98 home run race by blaming Sosa’s corked bats.

Copyright © 2009 – Sports Climax

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A-Rod finally admits syringe use

TAMPA – Alex Rodriguez, following in the past footsteps of teammates Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte, kick-started the New (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)York Yankees training camp with a press conference regarding steroid use.Last season, Pettitte stepped up to the mics and said, “I never did it (injections) to get an edge on anyone. I did it to get off the DL”.

This year, in a highly-publicized media session, A-Rod stepped up to the plate against a standing room only crowd of 150-200 media members who were hoping to get an opportunity to pitch a few questions at one of MLB’s biggest stars.

A-Rod started the session reading a written statement before taking questions. “Like everyone else, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life”, said Rodriguez. “The only way I can learn to handle them is to learn from them and move forward”.

After referring to the substance he had injected as an “energy booster”, the 2003 MVP went on to say, “My cousin would inject it in me. We consulted no one it was pretty evident we didn’t know what we were doing. I stopped taking it in 2003 and haven’t taken it since”.

It seemed like a lot of work, setting up additional satellite trucks and sophisticated equipment at Steinbrenner Field just to watch a guy read a statement then avoid a few reporter’s brush-back deliveries and foul off a few of the curveball questions.

Many people will want to elaborate on some of the vague responses he gave throughout the session and how his statements are changing over time. During his interview with Peter Gammons last week, A-Rod said he did not remember being injected but in today’s statement he mentions taking the syringe.

Today, Rodriguez said when he used the substance from 2001-03, he did not believe it was anything illegal and he thought it was an energy booster.

Many of the media and fans believe the player’s recent admissions are only occurring because he was out-ed and A-Rod fielded that exact question, “If your name was never revealed in the SI report, would you have come out on your own?” one reporter asked.

“I haven’t thought about it”, said A-Rod. “But I’m her to share my story and put it out there and hopefully I can put this behind me and my teammates don’t have to carry the burden of answering all the questions for me”.

Chances are, after fouling off a bunch of the questions and leaving the media wanting more, A-Rod and his Yankees should expect to field a lot more questions on the topic.

Copyright © 2009 – Sports Climax

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Aaron says Bonds should keep HR record

ATLANTA – As the Barry Bonds’ March 2 trial grows closer and pieces of the prosecutors’ case against MLB’s home run record- (AP Photo/John Amis)holder continue to go public, if there was any doubt whether Hank Aaron supports Bonds as home run king, those questions may have been answered.

In an interview Aaron this week with the Atlanta-Journal-Constitution, the retired player made his opinion clear saying the HR record belongs to Bonds and should not be taken away.

“In all fairness to everybody, I just don’t see how you really can do a thing like that and just say somebody isn’t the record holder anymore, and let’s go back to the way that it was,” Aaron told the AJC.

“If you did that, you’d have to go back and change all kinds of records. It (the home run record) is probably the most hallowed record out there, as far as I’m concerned, but it’s now in the hands of somebody else. It belongs to Barry.”

“Really, it’s sort of a tricky call when you start going down that road of who is legitimate,” Aaron added in the interview.

These are strong points made by one of baseball’s greatest players of all time. If Bonds is stripped of the record, does that force MLB to strip A-Rod of his MVP award he won in 2003 and Roger Clemens, if convicted, of his laundry-list of strikeout records and seven Cy Young awards.

The list would go on and on. Major League Baseball would have to rewrite their record books and Cooperstown would have to apply asterisks to or garage sale many of their memorabilia displays.

Copyright © 2009 – Sports Climax

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To pay or not to pay Manny…that is the $25 million question

Los Angeles – Manny Ramirez’s agent, Scott Boras has made it clear that the Dodgers’ offer (he still won’t confirm the details) wasn’t sufficient. The length of the proposed contract is too short for Boras’ taste. To buttress his negotiating position that age shouldn’t matter in the case of a hitter like Manny, Boras offered this:

“There is evidence of major league teams giving a player that’s older a contract for five years.”

Of course, that refers to the contract Barry Bonds signed when he was 37. And look how well that worked out for the San Francisco Giants, right? They got the revenue from his chase for the record books as he passed Hank Aaron on the career home run record and were able to dump him immediately thereafter when his the contract expired.

Ned Colletti, the Dodgers GM, was quoted yesterday as warning Boras that the Dodgers offer, whatever it is, would not be on the table forever. I’m sure Scott is shaking in his boots. Do you think he wears boots?

In Southern California, sports talk radio has been ablaze with talk about the Dodgers offer to Manny Ramirez and if it will fly with his agent Scott Boras.

Boras threw out the fishing line at season’s end with the announcement that the bidding would start at $25,000,000 for a multi-year deal of four years or more. The Dodgers have a short and exclusive period to see if they want to bite on what Boras is dangling on that line and Wednesday afternoon the team released a cryptic statement about an offer.

It was described by the Dodgers as “the highest average annual value in the history of the franchise and the second-highest average annual value in baseball”.

In other words, the offer was less than what A Rod makes and more than Johan Santana’s annual haul. Neither Dodgers’ GM Ned Colletti nor Scott Boras was willing to be specific about the dollar amount or the length of the deal on the table.

Notice the use of the words, “annual average”. Obviously this is a multi-tiered compensation package that either front-loads or back-loads some of the money and might include various bonuses. As I wrote yesterday, the looming new tax bite on the top income earners has agents trying to get clubs to shell out bonus money prior to year’s end.

The Dodgers are being very tight lipped about it as is Boras. No one else can intervene with an official offer until fifteen days after the final game of the World Series was played. But you have to presume that Boras was mixing and mingling with club officials and owners during the meeting held this week here in So Cal and knowing winks and nods were presumably exchanged. Whether they turn into definitive offers remains to be seen.

What is certain is that Dodger fans are saying their prayers that their team lands the biggest fish they’ve had in their pond for a couple of decades.

Tired of the same old sports page? Then check out Paula Duffy’s insightful (and often humorous) take on the sports day at her Examiner.com page! The popular co-host for Sports Journey Radio is also a contributor to the Huffington Post and founder of the sports learning site Incidental Contact. In her spare time, Duffy practices law in Los Angeles. But don’t hold that against her.

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