Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A-Rod: My Hero?


As we all know Alex Rodriguez has been accused of steroid use and has been suspended, putting a black mark on the career of one of the best players of all time and one with as much natural talent as any player in the history of the game. The .358 batting average and 54 doubles as a 20-year-old? Tarnished. The 40-40 season as a 23-year-old? Blemished. The 3 MVPs and 14 All-Star games? Tainted. So why do I still like A-Rod?
10-year-old me idolized Alex Rodriguez. As a shortstop forced to move to third base, he was my logical role model. Fast, powerful, and slick fielding (not to mention movie star good looks); he was everything I thought I was and wanted to become. I was enamored by the numbers, the personality, and the money. I was blinded by my own admiration; too caught up in watching the best player I had ever seen do things on the baseball field that not many before him could. The speed to steal 40 bases, the power to hit 50+ home runs, the bat to hit .300 every year, and the glove to win two Gold Gloves. I had never seen anything like him AND he was forced to move from shortstop to third base just like me? I thought I had hit the jackpot. In video games, I would build my team around him. In my 5th grade class we had to make our own magazines. Mine was a baseball magazine with a player spotlight on Alex Rodriguez (also had one on Sammy Sosa, boy did I know what I was talking about…). A-Rod could do no wrong in my eyes: until 2009; when he did wrong. He admitted to ESPN that he used steroids from 2001-2003 to justify the mega-deal that he had signed with the Texas Rangers. He claimed that he was clean and that we should all judge him from that point forward. I was na├»ve enough to believe him, again blinded by the admiration for A-Rod even after his move to the Evil Empire: the New York Yankees. He was my hero and I was standing by his side. Fast forward to 2013 and Rodriguez has again been charged with using steroids and has even been suspended this time. At 21, I can no longer justify defending A-Rod by using my boyhood idolization, nor can I defend him using any facts or logic. He made a mistake and compounded that mistake by making it over and over again; lying about it and making excuses when he got caught (Oddly enough Ryan Braun is doing the same thing because it worked so well for Alex…). But I can defend him by saying that there is no evidence that PEDs have any effect on a baseball player’s talent. So without evidence, why all the hate for A-Rod?
Rodriguez is a master of the press conference. Give people your time but never really say anything of substance and don’t answer the tough questions. He gives off the aura of an entertainer not a baseball player. He has become a prima donna worrying more about his image than his stats to the public eye. Who else would be furious about a camera spotting Cameron Diaz feed them popcorn? (That would be a top 3 moment in my life) The way he acts has rubbed people the wrong way and has made him into the villain that he is today. The ESPN and MLB Network coverage of him has turned people into full-fledged A-Rod haters, aiding the witch hunt against him. Maybe this is why I still hope he performs well. When sports networks are heaping praise, I am usually the one going the other way (e.g. Puig, LeBron, Tebow, any QB who ‘wins’ the Super Bowl) and that continues with Alex. All the bashing has me hoping he will rebound and have one more flash of brilliance, one more streak to remind people how good he actually is. 21-year-old me hopes for one more peek at the greatness 10-year-old me was so engulfed in. Call it nostalgia, call it blind ignorance, call it whatever you want, it is what it is; my childhood hero in “the battle for his life”.
I never became what 10-year-old me wanted (minus the good looks). I don’t have a MVP-type season under my belt at 21; in fact I am just starting my senior year of college and haven’t played a meaningful baseball game in three years. I don’t have a multimillion dollar endorsement deal and contract; I work for less than $10 an hour at a part time job on campus. But I still have the memories of what A-Rod was and what he was to me: an idol. He is a boyhood hero that everyone else has turned their back on. He brings 21-year-old me back to the backyard where 10-year-old me was pretending to be Rodriguez, he brings me back to the video games, building a team around the best player in the game because no one else deserved the spotlight. So maybe it is nostalgia that keeps me rooting for A-Rod. Maybe the romanticism of the whole thing makes me turn a blind eye to the mounting troubles of a man that I haven’t ever met, I’m not sure. One thing I am sure about though is that I would like nothing more than to see Rodriguez, the man with 647 home runs, hit #648, touch home plate, turn to the crowd and cameras, give a big DX chop, and walk off in the sunset forever. My hero.



Monday, December 3, 2012

San Francisco Giants re-sign CF Angel Pagan


The defending World Series Champions are one step closer to having the old group put back together again. The San Francisco Giants have agreed to a 4 year $40 million deal with CF Angel Pagan. The new contract comes with a $5 million signing bonus, and will pay Pagan $7 million this season , $9 million in 2014 and 2015 and $10 million in 2016.

The Giants acquired Angel Pagan last offseason when they traded OF Andres Torres and RP Ramon Ramirez to the New York Mets. Pagan immediately became the Giants starting CF but expectations were low. Pagan surpassed all expectations in 2012, finishing the regular season with a .288 BA, 29 SB's and 95 Runs. What made Pagan's season even more spectacular was his major league leading 15 triples. He also broke the Giants team record for triples in a season, which was previously held by Willie Mays. Pagan's game went beyond the stats as he provided the Giants excellent defense in a vast center field and gave the team the leadoff hitter it had been lacking for some time.

Before the Giants signed Pagan, there was speculation that Pagan was being looked at by the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, and several other clubs. The Giants also looked into CF's Shane Victorino and Michael Bourn, but focused their efforts on re-signing Pagan. Now with Pagan locked up, expect San Francisco to go hard after 2B Marco Scutaro. "Blockbuster" as he was nicknamed by his teammates was a mid-season acquisition from the Colorado Rockies. If the Giants could bring back Scutaro, they would have the same lineup that won Game 4 against the Detroit Tigers.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Real Motives Behind the Spurs Fine


This all started Thursday afternoon when San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich announced that the team sent PF Tim Duncan, PG Tony Parker, SG's Danny Green and Manu Ginobili home early. It was just hours before the team was set to face the Miami Heat in a big East vs. West game that would be on TNT. While most respected the decision and understood what Popovich was doing, NBA Commissioner David Stern was irate.

When David Stern learned what Gregg Popovich was doing he immediately issued a statement saying "I apologize to all NBA fans. This was an unacceptable decision by the Spurs. Substantial sanctions will be forthcoming. Many thought Stern was collapsing under the heat of the moment and if the sanctions would be severe at all. We learned today that the Spurs were fined a whopping $250,000 by the NBA. While Stern claims to be caring about the fans, his decision had nothing to do with people in attendance or watching on television. The only thing Stern cares about is making money and it doesn't matter if logic gets in the way, they just run over it for financial gain.

Gregg Popovich made the right move in sending his star veterans home early ahead of this game. The Spurs were playing their 4th road game in 5 days, while the Heat had 4 days off at home before their Thursday night battle. If anyone should be fined it would have to be David Stern for setting up this ridiculous schedule. It puts the Spurs at a complete disadvantage to play 4 road games in 5 nights, while Miami rested at home. That is an unprecedented mismatch that was bound to turn ugly. This is an 82 game season and Popovich had to rest his veterans. San Antonio has the day off on Friday but a crucial game against the Memphis Grizzlies, a game far more important than some non conference game. It is simply absurd to fine a team $250K because a coach made a decision for the health of his players, something it appears the NBA has little interest in.

I understand fans in attendance would be upset over not being able to see Duncan, Parker, and Manu play, but you take that risk when you go to a game. I know that ticket prices are insane, and even going to one game is hard to do for families. The fine has nothing to do with you not being able to see someone play, in fact if this were a Spurs vs. Washington Wizards game we never would never have heard a peep out of David Stern. I also ask David Stern, is any part of the fine going to the fans who bought tickets. This is just another instance of David Stern reaching his hands into basketball and squeezing out every last penny. I know I am not alone when I say, I can't wait until David Stern retires.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

This is Our Team!



I have been a Sacramento Kings fan since I could even remember the game of basketball. The Kings were my team and Sacramento was my home. The Sacramento Kings have long been the love of so many sports fans in Northern California, and now George and Gavin Maloof want to rip that away from us.

C-Webb was my childhood idol
Before I dive into the inevitable move, let me just talk about what this team has meant to me. I still remember the first ever Kings game I went to. it was April 10th, 2001 against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Kings went on to win that game in overtime 116-109 and I became even more attached to my local team. One year later it was the Western Conference Finals against the hated Los Angeles Lakers. A rivalry for the ages with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line. Entering Game 6 I thought we had the series in hand, and as I sat anxiously in front of our television I counted down every second. Even at 8 years old just watching that game you knew something wasn't right. The foul calls always seemed to go against the Kings and it cost them in the end. I won't get into what we learned years later, but I will never forget that series for as long as I live. Even that series though doesn't come close to the day I learned the Kings traded Chris Webber. I was heartbroken the franchise I had loved for so long traded my favorite player and childhood idol. I couldn't understand how they could do that to me, and while I don't remember it I was told that I did cry about it. Now we fast forward to today, the Kings haven't made the playoffs in 6 years but I have supported them all the way.

I know I am not in the minority when it comes to my love for the Sacramento Kings. While I know there are Kings fans all across the globe, I want to focus here on the local fans. The fans who kept going to games despite the ineptitude of the front office to improve the team. Even when George and Gavin Maloof raised ticket prices as the team fell further into the standings, families continued to find ways to shell out the money and attend games. Attendance slowly declined as the future of the team grew more and more bleak. Rumors swirled that George and Gavin Maloof were ready to move the team in order to get a new stadium. Nobody was entirely sure how a stadium could be built in the financial crisis we were experiencing, especially when the owners themselves were on the brink of bankruptcy. Then the rumors turned into reality as the Maloofs began talks to move the franchise to Anaheim. The Maloofs threw salt in the wound when they had the team where classic "Royals" jerseys that many considered were going to be the new design when the team moved. When all looked lost for this team, it was the same fans who stepped up to the plate to keep their team in Sacramento.

In Sacramento we were given a choice; let the Maloofs walk out the door with our heart and soul or fight for this team until the end. Thanks to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, local businesses and hundreds of thousands of fans we achieved the impossible. The city was able to raise enough money to put the wheels in motion for a brand new arena. The light at the end of the tunnel was there, and that light grew even brighter on February 27th, 2012 when the Maloofs reached an agreement with the city to build a new stadium. Only a few days later they came out on the floor and started waving their hands to the crowd celebrating the great news with cheering fans. Unfortunately, just a month later the Maloofs backed out of the deal saying it was too expensive and that they were lied to during negotiations. Now we stand here today, he relationship between the city and the owners is beyond repair. It is no longer if the team moves but when. The same team this city has supported since 1985 is on the verge of being ripped out of our hands. All because 2 owners living off of their inheritance have let greed take over. It doesn't matter how many billionaires offer them money to buy the team and keep them in Sacramento. The Maloofs have tied themselves to the ship and are going to go sink it, just like they have with their casino and wine company. 

In the end there will no longer be the Sacramento Kings. Sleep Train Arena will fall apart, the rafters will hang empty, and we will be forgotten by the NBA. The greatest tragedy in all of this is what can never be replaced. That spot in the heart of every Kings fan young or old, who will never forget the memories. 

THIS IS OUR TEAM!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I AM BACK!

GUESS WHO'S BACK!

Ladies and Gentleman I am back and better than ever. After nearly a five month layoff I am coming back for my original blog "247 Sports Zone". When I left you last I was going to become a writer for "The Pigskin Report" among several other websites. I am still going to write for The Pigskin Report, but I wanted to come back to my beginning.

I left 247 Sports Zone suddenly and I come back just as I left, without any warning. I just wanted to let everyone know that I am back and I hope you are as excited as I am for my return.