Daniel Nava Is a Classic Underdog Story

Watching the Red Sox/Phillies game on Saturday afternoon in Boston, it was impossible not to get swept up in the magic happening at Fenway Park. J.D. Drew led off the second inning with a solo home run off Joe Blanton. The next three batters all reached base to load them up for rookie Daniel Nava. Nava had just been called up from Triple-A Pawtucket that same day and he proceeded to launch the first pitch he saw into the Red Sox bullpen in right field, becoming just the fourth player in history to hit a grand slam in his first career at-bat. Nava gave the fans a curtain call, doubled in the fifth, finished the game 2-for-4, and he became ingrained in the minds and hearts of Red Sox fans with his stunning debut. His improbable grand slam came out of nowhere and it sent people scrambling for their computers to find out more about Daniel Nava who became the most searched person in Google on Saturday afternoon. So the question persists: just who is Daniel Nava?

Nava is a youngster who was just 4’8″ and 70 pounds when he entered high school. Nava admits he wasn’t a special player in high school, mostly because his size kept him from fully developing as a ballplayer. After high school, Nava went to Santa Clara but was cut from their baseball team his freshman year. He hung on as the team’s manager, doing everything from running videotape to washing uniforms.

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BP Cup Name Change Suggestions

Back in April it was announced that the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs would have more than just bragging rights at stake during this year’s interleague play. The winner of the series between the teams will be awarded with the BP Crosstown Cup. Although I was excited when I heard the news, I put this into the back of my mind because there was another team in town who deserved my attention (*cough Blackhawks cough*). So it wasn’t until Friday when the Crosstown Classic began that I remembered what was on the line.

I don’t think any person who has a soul would want any association with BP after what they have done to the Gulf of Mexico. Although I’m sure there are complicated contracts that bond both teams to having BP sponsor the Crosstown Cup, I really think it needs a name change. I mean what does oil have to do with baseball anyway? So below I have listed some of my suggestions for the new cup name, feel free to submit your own:

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Stephen A. Smith Pulls Race Card When Discussing Bryce Harper

What do the two above athletes have in common?  They both passed up some form of higher-level education to pursue a career as professional athletes.  What does the athlete on the left lack in common with the one on the right?  Race.  According to Stephen A. Smith, that’s a very significant factor in examining the way the public portrays 17-year-old phenom Bryce Harper.

By now we all know what Harper is capable of physically. We also know a bit about the type of person he is — or at least that he has a pretty brutal temper from what we can see.  What some of us may not have thought about yet is any racial implications that go along with the way we look at the future Nationals superstar.  Cue Stephen A. Smith, who isn’t exactly the most respected analyst in the industry and I’m still not sure I can agree with his latest rant.  In his article for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Smith refers to all the buzz and positive coverage surrounding Harper as a “clear case of hypocrisy.”  Like many professional athletes have done in the past, Harper has foregone higher education by dropping out of high school to to get his GED, which has allowed the road to Major League Baseball to shorten.

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Stephen Strasburg May Have Been Tipping Pitches

Former Dodgers Cy Young winner, current MLB analyst, and one-time LBS favorite player, Orel Hershiser, was one of the many national media members on hand in Washington D.C. to cover the MLB debut of Stephen Strasburg that surpassed all expectations. The ’88 World Series MVP joined Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio the next morning as a guest and was incredibly impressed with Strasburg. After lavishing heaps of praise upon Strasburg, Hershiser was asked if he saw anything of concern. Hershiser, a former pitching coach, did note that Strasburg may have been tipping pitches:

“I thought he might have been tipping his pitches on certain things. I had some pitches at times and actually relayed that and passed it on. I think that he will watch that as he goes. No hitter in their right mind will try and steal pitches off of him when he’s throwing 98 miles per hour unless they’re 100% sure. There were times when I gave away pitches I think in the ’97 World Series against the Marlins and got hit pretty good, and I know we had Doc Gooden’s pitches in the ’88 playoffs with the Mets but we didn’t get the two runs off him and beat him 2-1, so we knew it was coming but still it was almost impossible to hit. When a guy throws 98, you don’t want to ‘he did that and now it’s going to be a fastball’ or ‘he did that and now it’s going to be a curveball’ because he does the opposite and it’s going to kill you.”

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Stephen Strasburg Scouting Report

21-year-old pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg made his major league debut in front of a sold out Washington crowd Tuesday night and, as he has done again and again, managed to surpass every expectation that comes with being an historical talent. What can we possibly say about Stephen Strasburg that hasn’t already been said about previous hyped, top prospects with great potential?

Needing only 94 pitches, Strasburg made it through seven innings allowing four hits and two runs on a Delwyn Young home run. The fireballer struck out 14 batters without walking anyone and he retired the last ten batters he faced, striking out the last seven.

Drafted first overall by the Washington Nationals in the 2009 MLB amateur draft out of San Diego State and billed as one of the greatest amateur pitchers in draft history, the expectation was that Strasburg would move quickly through the minor leagues and make his debut before the 2010 All-Star break. He did just that, making 11 starts between Double and Triple-A, posting a 7-2 record with a 1.30 ERA, striking out 65, walking 13 in 55.1 IP (one home run allowed). Everyone who saw him pitch came away impressed. Curt Schilling proclaimed Strasburg would be one of the best pitchers in baseball immediately upon arrival and more than a few eyebrows were raised. We even noted how Strasburg would combine with Bryce Harper to form the new faces of the Nats’ franchise.

So what makes Strasburg such a widely-acclaimed talent?

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Harper, Strasburg Are The New Faces of the Washington Nationals

It’s no surprise that the Washington Nationals chose 17-year-old prodigy Bryce Harper with the first overall draft pick on Tuesday, but it was exciting to finally see it happen. Last year, the Nats chose pitcher Stephen Strasburg with the same pick and he’s already set to make his major league debut Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates. If you’re a Nationals fan, you have a couple of legitimate reasons to be excited about the future. Heck, if you’re a Washington sports fan in general we gave you a list of reasons why you should be optimistic just a few weeks ago.

I think it’s awesome how Harper and Strasburg have yet to play a game for the Nats and they’re already becoming the faces of the franchise. The only concern could be that these two kids will have a lot of pressure looming over their heads. I’m personally not concerned because I believe this duo is phenomenal, but making the majors is something that every little league player dreams of. When it finally happens, there’s added pressure to be the best — especially when people are already calling you the best.

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Pete Rose Corked His Bat

Anyone think Pete Rose was inching closer and closer to having his lifetime ban from Major League Baseball lifted?  Think again.  Deadspin broke a major story on Tuesday that is going to break the hearts of the Pete Rose faithful.  You can say what you’d like about his gambling problems and his behavior off the field, but until Tuesday morning it didn’t appear that anyone had any hard evidence to prove that Rose cheated at the game of baseball.  He’s been accused of corking his bat before, but it’s never been proven and he of course denied it like he denied betting on baseball for so long.  The photo above seems like pretty clear evidence that Pete Rose used a corked bat in his pursuit of a record.

The Deadspin report provides an unbelievably detailed description of the history of the bat, including where it came from and images that clearly prove it was indeed a bat used by Pete Rose.  Here are a few key snip-its from the Deadspin story:

Rose was in hot pursuit of Ty Cobb’s iconic record of 4,191 hits. It was the only reason he was still playing baseball. Before the season, Rose had a box of about 30 black Mizuno bats specially made for him. His trademark quick swing not nearly as quick as it used to be, Rose ordered his bats a little lighter than usual to shorten up his motion. The bats were 34 inches long, and weighed 31.6 ounces. In honor of his quest for 4,192 hits, they were dubbed the PR4192.

Steve Wolter was a huge Pete Rose fan. He got to know Pete, came to consider him a friend. So, on Sept. 11, the very day Rose broke baseball’s all-time hit record, Wolter made him an offer. Though the Hall Of Fame requested it, Pete Rose sold the record-breaking bat to Steve Wolter. The Wolter family won’t discuss the actual price, but they claim it was the highest amount ever paid for a single piece of sports memorabilia at that time.

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