Articles in Category: Baseball
Yankee Great Speaks with BSP
It was a cool November morning in 1992 when Paul O’Neill learned his life was about to change forever. He was being traded away from his favorite childhood team, the Cincinnati Reds. Growing up in Ohio, it was O’Neill’s dream to play for the same organization as Pete Rose and Johnny Bench. In 1970, O’Neill had a picture taken of him at old Crosley Field in Cincinnati with a Reds helmet on and a toy bat in his hands. In the background was Pittsburgh Pirate Roberto Clemente warming up in the outfield. Fifteen years later, O’Neill would get his start there in the Cincinnati Reds outfield, wearing jersey number 21, just like Clemente.
An Interview with Athletic Trainer Barry Weinberg
When you’re in the majors for 33 years, you end up witnessing some historical moments. For Barry Weinberg, those moments include an earthquake during a World Series game, the death of Thurman Munson and the St. Louis Cardinals’ unbelievable run to a championship in 2011. And to think, he almost chose a different career.
Editor's Note: All statistics used in this column are as of Friday, August 31, 2012.
He didn't play center field until his senior year in high school. That year, he set a New Jersey state record by hitting 18 home runs. He's faster than everyone else. He's more coordinated, has better balance and is regularly clocked at getting to first base in under four seconds, something that is unheard of for a right-handed batter. So how did everyone miss him? Everyone except the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and East Carolina University, the college he had originally committed to.
Twenty-one Major League Baseball teams passed on him in the 2009 MLB Draft. 21. He is already the most dynamic player in the majors. He is, only somewhat arguably, the best. Fortunately for Angels fans, their team did not pass on this blue chipper.
In August 2008, a scout for the Angels by the name of Greg Morhardt had been scouting baseball talent in the northeast for almost a decade, originally for the New York Mets.
Morhardt was the Angels' 2nd round pick of the 1984 MLB Draft. He played most of the next three seasons alongside a player who would soon become a close friend. That player's name was Jeff Trout. Jeff did not see climbing the ladder to becoming a major league player in his future. In 1986 he moved back to Millville, New Jersey to become a teacher and a coach.
Some 12 years later, long after he had lost touch with Trout, Morhardt was putting together a team for an annual East Coast High School Showcase Game. When looking over a list of potential players, he had noticed one of the player's last names was Trout. That player was Mike Trout, Jeff's youngest son. The rest, as they say, is history.
Los Angeles selected Trout 25th overall in the 2009 MLB Draft. Before the 2010 season began, Trout was ranked as the 85th best prospect by Baseball America. He started the 2010 season playing for the Cedar Rapids, where he came out gunning. Trout hit .362/.454/.526 with six home runs, 39 runs batted in and 45 stolen bases in 82 games. He was then selected to play in the All-Star Futures Game, and immediately after was promoted to Class A to play for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (no, I'm not making that up) in the Advanced California League. After the 2010 season concluded, Mike received the J.G. Taylor Spink Award as the Topps Minor League Player of the Year. At the age of 19 years and two months, Trout was the youngest player to ever win the award.
When 2011 rolled around, Trout started the year in Double A. It was also the year he made his first MLB appearance, replacing then-injured center fielder Peter Bourjos. Trout went 0-3 in his MLB debut and all told, he played 40 MLB games (two separate stints) with .220/.281/.390 splits. It's important to note that those numbers far from stand out, but as any athlete will tell you, it's hard to get going when you don't have a defined roll, or a regimen to work from. Athletes are creatures of habit and routine. It's like being a rookie quarterback and your coach can't decide whether you should start or not, so you flip flop from starter to coming off the bench in games when your team is in disarray. The only difference is, those cases usually don't end well. Fortunately for the Angels and Trout, he found his place on this team and well... We're getting there. By comparison, that same year in the minors he hit .326/.414/.544 with 11 home runs, 38 RBI and 33 stolen bases in 91 minor league games. Phenomenal. I know it's the minors, but still.
Trout went on to start 2012 in Triple A. At the time he was called up by the Angels, he was hitting .403/.477/.623 in 20 games for the Salt Lake Bees (I swear you couldn't make these minor league teams' names up). It was time. Trout had his first career four-hit game on June 4. His second four-hit game was 15 days later.
On June 27, in a game at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Trout robbed J.J. Hardy of what should have been an easy home run. It is impossible to put into words how incredible this play was. Trout shouldn't have had a chance; instead, Hardy's ball didn't. We'll be seeing that play for years, especially if his career holds up the way his first full MLB season has. Oh by the way, that same day, Trout had another four-hit game. I think it's safe to say he arrived on the scene.
Mike broke the AL rookie record when he crossed home plate for the 14th consecutive game on July 22. He was an All-Star. He won the AL Player of the Month and Rookie of the Month awards for July. By the way, he's the first rookie ever to win both awards for the same month. His 34 runs scored in July tied the rookie record set by Hal Trosky in the year... You guessed it, 1934. He became the first rookie to drive in at least 55 runs and to score 80 runs in 81 games since none other than Joe DiMaggio in 1936. He's the youngest player ever to hit at least 20 home runs and steal 40 bases in a season. Want some more fuel for the fire? On Sunday, August 26, he became the second Angel rookie ever to score 100 runs in his rookie season.
He's 21 years old, barely, and he leads the American League in runs scored with 103, batting average with .336 and stolen bases with 41, in just 45 attempts.
So how did this kid fly under the radar for 21 straight teams, a few with more than one shot to select him? I cannot answer that. In the Angels' and Morhardt's case, you know what they say--sometimes it's not what you know, but who you know.
by Nick Singleton
It’s no secret in Chicago that the Cubs championship drought is the longest in all professional sports. Dating back to their last World Series championship in 1908, twelve men have landed on the moon, nineteen different Presidents have held office, and the New York Yankees have won twenty-seven World Series titles.
Nevertheless, a neighborhood rich in family and nightlife has helped prosper one of the most influential communities in all of sports.
A CLOSER REMEMBERED
One of the biggest compliments that a professional sports organization can give to a player is retiring their number. It really is an unbelievable honor for that player to know that no one will ever wear jersey number ever again. Such a compliment was given from the San Diego Padres to their legendary closer Trevor Hoffman this past Sunday afternoon.