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The Cubs Will Win the N.L. Central Because of Milton Bradley, Just Ask Him

Even before the addition of Milton Bradley the Cubs were no doubt most people’s (myself included) favorite to win the division. The Brewers were strong last year but they still couldn’t hang with the Cubs AND they lost Ben Sheets, C.C. Sabathia, and Salomon Torres to make matter worse. The Cards are always in the mix as long as they have Pujols, but their pitching (bullpen mostly) still remains semi-suspect in my eyes. Well, if you ask Bradley, the Cubs’ $30 million man, it’s no surprise people are picking them as the favorite:

“They should,” Milton Bradley said. “I’m here.”

“I’m a winner,” he said. “When I went to the Dodgers [in 2004], after they hadn’t been to the postseason since ’88, they went to the postseason. I went to the A’s in 2006. We weren’t supposed to do anything, and we went to the ALCS. I was with San Diego [in '07]. We were one win away from making the postseason, and I got hurt. Everywhere I go, people win. It’s not a surprise.”

Actually Milton, the Dodgers did make it to the postseason before that, they just hadn’t won a playoff game since ’88. But no doubt Milton Bradley has been the common thread on all those playoff teams leading to all their successes. When you get worried this year, Cubs fans, just remember you’re still going to be O.K. and that you’re going to win the division. Milton Bradley says so.

David Price Victim of Rays’ Goals for Long-Term Success

David Price is such a baller that I made the case for him as ESPN The Magazine’s “NEXT” athlete over Matt Ryan, Joey Logano, and Ricky Rubio. Hard to go from calling him the next greatest pitcher in baseball to seeing the Rays option him down to Triple-A to start off the season. So if this guy already proved he’s the goods by nutting up huge in October, and if the Rays are serious about repeating as AL East champs, then why would they send potentially their best pitcher down to the minors to start the year? The Rays argue that they want to see Price develop more command of his fastball and better pitch efficiency. Whatever that means. I’ll tell you what they really mean.

The Rays are doing something the Yankees never would have the discipline to do — they’re taking it slowly with a player. For the Rays, most of the decision has to do with the economics of the game. Sure, in there eyes it probably can’t hurt Price to work on a few more things at a lower level but I imagine they all know he’s ready for the big time. The bottom line is that Tampa is trying to build a team that can achieve long-term success, not just be a one year wonder. And you don’t achieve long-term success by bringing guys up earlier than you should nor by starting their league service time clock earlier than needed (because it brings players that much closer to free agency). Lastly, and this is probably the part most people don’t realize, the Rays are handcuffed by Jeff Niemann and that’s why Price is suffering. Niemann was the team’s first-round pick, 4th overall in ’04. Since the 6’9″ right-hander is out of options, they have to give him a crack at the final spot in the rotation before they just let him go. Niemman’s a guy who went 17-0 his second year at Rice. They know he could be a gem. They’re not just going to let him walk for nothing, so might as well see what he can do because they could end up with some excellent trade bait that will only make the team stronger in the long run.

In the meantime, poor David Price, though he seems as ready as a pitcher can be, must grit through another April in Durham. He’ll be up with the club in no time and hopefully it won’t be too late for Tampa by then. Think long-term, Rays fans (however few you may be), and have faith in your team’s front office.

Curt Schilling: Definitely a Hall of Famer

We went through the same thing a few months ago when Mike Mussina announced his retirement. It’s times like these where we must recognize that the age old standards for induction into the Hall of Fame must change. 500 home runs doesn’t mean anything near what it used to considering two or three players eclipse that mark each year. Similarly, 300 wins is no longer a realistic plateau for pitchers to achieve. With that in mind, it’s time voters started changing their habits and take in the entire picture when they judge players for Hall of Fame worthiness.

Without a doubt, Curt Schilling is a Hall of Famer. Even though he has less than a third of the career wins Greg Maddux had, Schilling had a stretch from ’01-’04 where he was easily one of the top pitchers in the game. Schilling was second in the Cy Young voting three of those four years and finished towards the top of the MVP balloting. Curt even had years after that where he was a very good pitcher, as well as a handful of years with the Phillies where he stood out. But the difference between Schilling and guys like Maddux who have the more impressive career numbers is what Curt did in the postseason.

Until Josh Beckett came along, if you asked me to choose a pitcher I’d want to start a playoff game in the last decade, my answer would easily be Curt Schilling (John Smoltz being a very close second). Schilling was absolutely nails in the playoffs. Let’s start with the 2001 postseason where Schilling shared World Series MVP honors with teammate Randy Johnson. In the NLDS that year, Curt threw a complete game shutout to set the tone in Game 1 against the Cardinals, and then he wrapped up the series with a complete game six-hitter for the clinching win. In the NLCS against the Braves, he threw a complete game giving up just one run for the win. In the World Series against the Yankees, he started Games 1, 4, and 7, and was just about untouchable each time out.

19 career postseason starts, 10-2 record, 2.23 ERA, sub-1.00 WHIP over 130+ innings — that’s where legends are made. Only once (Game 1 of the ALCS in ’04) did Schilling not give his team a chance to win in the playoffs. Every other time that Curt stepped to the mound in October, all his team had to do was score one or two runs and they’d win. That’s what makes Curt Schilling a Hall of Famer, all personal feelings or hatred to him aside. And if you want regular season success, Schilling had two of the best back-to-back seasons by a pitcher in the steroids era from ’01-’02 with the Diamondbacks. His strikeouts to walk ratio approached 10:1 which is unheard of, and he went 45-13 throwing over 500 innings those two years. Most of all, Curt Schilling deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame because he earned it by being one of the most clutch pitchers ever. Three rings says it all.

Brett Myers Raising His Redneck Son the Right Way

Yes, that is Phillies pitcher Brett Myers and his son. Yes, the shirt the young kid is wearing has a confederate flag on it and reads, “Redneck and proud of it.” What else would you expect from a guy who (allegedly) beat his wife, and gets into fights with reporters. Great example there, Brett.

Kevin Youkilis Rips Americans for Not Showing Up to WBC Games

You probably already know my thoughts on this since I’ve opined on the World Baseball Classic before. Still, let’s present the facts of the case first. Over the weekend around 11,000 fans showed up to watch the U.S. play Netherlands at Dolphin Stadium in South Florida (still about 10,000 more than show up for Marlins games). For the game against Puerto Rico, the attendance was around 30,000, about half of whom were fans of the island team (you can see how many people were there on Tuesday in the picture at right). Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis who’s been carrying the U.S. offensively in the WBC isn’t too happy about all this:

“I don’t think we have enough pride in this. It’s kind of a sad day – and I know it’s a tough time (economically) to buy tickets – when you see that. I don’t think there’s as much pride in the USA as there is for these other countries. There was a whole section of Dominican fans (Sunday) night just here to watch baseball. I think we’re losing a little bit of pride for, quote, ‘America’s national pastime.’ ”

“It definitely hurts a little bit to know that you’re always the away team in your own country,” he said. “There are some good people out there, but it would be nice to have a lot more of those people chanting ‘USA,’ holding up American flags. That’s the one thing we didn’t see much of the other night – there were more Puerto Rican flags than American (flags).”

You want to know why, Mr. Youkilis? It’s because this isn’t a real event. Just be happy that your Red Sox games always sell out and that you have a packed house with rabid fans who live and die by each at-bat you take. What do you really expect from the fans, to go head-over-heels for a fake, made-for-TV event? Fans are already committed to their teams, isn’t that enough? You’ll also notice that the U.S. isn’t getting too patriotic because the whole world already acknowledges the best baseball is already played here. What is there for us to prove, that we shared a popular game with the rest of the world? Fantastic, let’s all celebrate! The day this event goes away wouldn’t be soon enough for me.

(via Ben Maller)

Alex Rodriguez Thinks There’s Nobody Better Looking than Alex Rodriguez

I guess Alex Rodriguez is lacking the filter most players have that keeps them from doing stupid things you know will result in merciless mocking. How else you can explain the following picture that appear in Details Magazine? Cue the Zoolander “I can’t help that I’m ridiculously good-looking” music:

I wonder what his teammates are going to about his cute red bracelet. In case that wasn’t enough for you, the yoga pose and mattress sitting pictures were pretty cute, too. By the way, I know we’ve already been down the “How dumb can Alex Rodriguez be?” road before, but why the eff would he have a photo shoot to show off his muscles when we all know they were steroid-induced? Is this guy really paying people lots of money to advise him to do these things?

Greatest Picture Ever

The man on the right (in case you couldn’t tell since the sunglasses on his face covered up the jelly donuts under his eyes), is Yankees GM Brian Cashman. The gentleman on the left is … well nobody cares. But his shirt is hilarious, he’s got a shite-eating grin on, and it makes this picture a classic. I started busting up uncontrollably when I saw it. Big ups to Deadspin (of course) for the picture. I mean, who else would get something that great?