Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bittersweet Day In The Latino Baseball Community

I know it has seemed a bit of long time since my last post but today was a day in Baseball History that was both disappointing and invigorating...all within a number of hours. First the disappointment.

It was announced earlier that Dominican outfielder Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants had been suspended for 50 games for the failing of a PED drug test. Melky seemed to find his full stride after a decent season in Kansas City and underachiving seasons in Atlanta and New York. At the time of the announcement, Melky was leading the Majors in hits (159), second in Batting average (.346), was a pivotal player in the San Francisco Giants lineup and field and not even a month ago was named Most Valuable Player of the All-Star Game. Now he is just another name added to those who were caught with performance enhancing drugs in their urine.

What a way to piss away a potentially lucrative contract in a free agent year. What a way to piss away an opportunity to move into the next level of players. Regardless what his reasons were, he just pissed them away. Now for the rest of his career he will have the scrutiny that is levied on all those who have failed a PED test. Sure he'll sign another contract and may even have a long career, but he'll forever have the stigma above him of a cheater. If he has a good season, people will suspect something foul. If he struggles, then he will be seen as someone who can't succeed without the help of a foreign substance. It really is sad and disappointing. I really thought that Melky shed that "lazy" title that he seemed to have here in with the Yankees with his performance with the Giants.

I'm really tired of my fellow Latinos continually getting caught taking this junk. I understand the pressure that they have to succeed. The pressure to often be the main provider. The pressure to be the proverbial "way off the island" for their family. I get it. Trust me, I grew up seeing how my Dad was the pivotal one here in NYC providing for those "back home" and he wasn't a professional Baseball player. Its much worse for them. But there is a system in place that catches those that cheat. Just work doubly hard to get to where you need to. Its just frustrating to me as a fan of both the game and of my fellow Latino brothers. It gets harder and harder to back them up with they go and screw things up. I guess I'll quote Alfalfa and the rest of the little rascals when I say "Don't Drink the Milk...It's spoiled". Not only was it spoiled but also tainted. Just sad.

Enough of the disappointment. After a few hours of the Cabrera announcement, another Latino ballplayer was making news for a much better reason. Seattle Mariners starter, former American League Cy Young Award winner and Venezuelan Felix Hernandez was making history. In a dominant performance against the Tampa Bay Rays, Hernandez became the 23rd pitcher to throw a Perfect Game in the history of Major League Baseball. I was lucky enough to turn the game on in the 9th inning and Hernandez was just nasty in his breaking balls and velocity. He hit 95 on the gun in the 9th inning. In total Hernandez Hernandez struck out 12 batters. Of those 12, eight were in the last four innings. And he is only 24 years old. The scary thing is that he can only get better with time!!! To bad the Mariners don't have a quality team built around arguably the best pitcher in the game. For years now I've avoided calling him by the nickname that has become synonymous with Hernandez. Now I can indeed call him King Felix. Felicidades hermano y muchas gracias for taking the sting of the day away for us for just a little bit.

On a side note to the perfect game, what is the deal with the Tampa Bay Rays and no-hitters and perfect games. Since their inaugural season of 1998, the Rays have been no-hit five times, all of them from 2002 and on. Four have come since 2009 with three of them being perfect games (Mark Buerhle 2009, Dallas Braden 2010, Felix Hernandez 2012). Talk about snake-bit. Maybe they need to throw a perfect game to break the curse.

On another side note. I have to apologize for being a bit neglecting in my blogging duties. Sometimes real life, primarily work takes a front seat other things. Yes, even Baseball. I've been trying to improve my bartending skills and have been focusing on a new endevour called Sisco Vanilla Serves and Drinks. Feel free to check it out. Let me know what you think.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Miguel Cabrera 2nd Venezuelan to 300 Home Runs

Venezolano Miguel Cabrera continues his torrid pace up the record books by becoming the 134th player in the history of MLB to reach the 300 homerun plateau at the age and only the second Venezuelan player to reach that mark. This is all done at the young age of 29. The first was one of my all-time favorite players "El Gato" Andres Galarraga who retired with a total of 399 dingers.

With Cabrera's track record of hitting 30 or more homers a season for the last five seasons, it would stand to reason that he can surpass Galarraga by the 2015 season. He's missed the 30 homerun mark only twice in his still young career when he hit 12 with 62 RBI in his rookie season of 2003 and 26 with 114 RBI in 2006. Each season he hit 30 or more he drove in over 100 RBI with a career high 127 in 2008. Since he's sitting at 21 homers with 77 RBI (Not counting today's totals), he should again reach the 30-100 mark for the sixth straight season. And its scary to think that he is just reaching his prime.

Felicidades hermano.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Latino showing in 2012 Hall of Fame Balloting

It was announced earlier in the week that Barry Larkin received the minimum of 75% of the vote necessary in order to be enshrined into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. So I've decided to look at the performance of those Latino baseball players that were on this year's ballot and to take a look into the future to see which Latino ballplayers might be eligible for the Hall of Fame.

There were a total of six Latinos on this year's Hall of Fame ballot and before I talk about them individually, here is where they stood in terms of votes, percentage received and year of eligibility:

Edgar Martinez 209 votes (36.5%) in his 3rd Year
Rafael Palmiero 72 votes (12.6%) in his 2nd Year
Bernie Williams 55 votes (9,67%) in his 1st Year
Juan Gonzalez 23 votes (4.0%) in his 2nd Year
Vinnie Castilla 6 votes (1.0%) in his 1st Year
Ruben Sierra 0 votes (0.0%) in his 1st Year

Edgar Martinez of Venezuela has remained consistent with his Hall of Fame vote showing. Where he posted 36.5% of the vote in his first year and a drop of 32.9% in his second year, Martinez has jumped back up with a 3.6% increase to 36.5%. It is favorable for him to stay close to where he was as opposed to losing votes. To be honest, with the plethora of players becoming eligible for the Hall in the next few years (Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, Piazza, Maddux, Biggio, Schilling in 2013 and Glavine, Maddux and Thomas in 2014) votes might be hard to come by. Out of the current crop of eligible Latinos, Martinez still has the best shot to get in over the long haul.

Rafael Palmiero of Cuba still has the steroid issue surrounding him and was able to make a small increase from 11.0% his first year to 12.6% this year. We'll have to see how next year's vote comes about since steroid era players such as Bonds, Clemens and Sosa will join McGwire and Palmiero on the ballot. It will remain to be seen whether or not the voters will continue to not vote for Palmiero because of the steroids or vote for him regardless of the steroids.

Bernie Williams of Puerto Rico was the only player in his first year of eligibility in this year's ballot to garner the necessary 5% minimum of the vote to stay on the ballot. Being a pivotal part of the New York Yankees' dynasty of 1996-2000 it will be interesting to see if in fact Williams will be able to rise up the voting ladder. His career .297 batting average with 2336 hits (449 2B/55 3B/287 HR), 1257 RBI, 147 SB, 1069 BB, 1212 K's with an OPS of .858 (.381 OBP/.477 SLG) are decent. Even with his 5 All-Star appearances, 4 Gold Gloves and 1 Silver Slugger, Williams never placed better than 7th in the MVP voting and only finished in the top ten twice in a 16-year career. He was a consistent player but I don't think he'll ever get the necessary 75% of the vote.

The other three latinos who did not get the necessary 5% of the vote was two time AL MVP Juan Gonzalez of Puerto Rico (.295 average with 1936 hits of which were 434 HR, 1404 RBI, a .904 OPS and suspicions of steroid use), Vinnie Castilla of Mexico and Ruben Sierra also of Puerto Rico.

To be perfectly honest, the only Latino I see getting into the Hall of Fame any time soon is Pedro Martinez who if he stays retired is eligible for the Hall of Fame in the ballot of 2015. Carlos Delgado is also eligible for the 2015 ballot and he will be an interesting player. I'll go into more about Pedro Martinez and Carlos Delgado at a later date. I don't see Sammy Sosa in 2013 or Rafael Palmiero getting in anytime soon. They'll garner votes just as McGwire has but the steroid issue is still a raw and sensitive issue for many of the voters.

Here is the list of eligible Latinos for the Hall of Fame as of the next ballot:

2013 (Sammy Sosa, Roberto Hernandez, Jose Mesa, Julio Franco, Sandy Alomar, Tony Batista, Antonio Alfonseca)

2014 (Luis Gonzlez, Moises Allou, Armando Benitez, Jose Vidro, Esteban Loaiza)

2015 (Pedro Martinez, Nomar Garcia-Parra, Carlos Delgado, Kelvim Escobar)