Before reading another excellent posting by one of my baseball and statistics students, here is an update on free agency signings and non-signings. As a Yankee fan, I can’t tell you how excited I am about the signing of Brian McCann, the 30 year old former Braves catcher. The 2013 Yankee catchers were near the bottom in most offensive categories. By signing McCann the Yankees now have a catcher who was a seven time All-Star, hit 20+ home runs for the last six years, has a lifetime OPS of .823 and in 2010 led all catchers by throwing out 36 base-runners. He is a left-handed pull hitter perfect for the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium. Cano is still unsigned. The only team I see that might contend for Cano is the L.A. Dodgers. But the Dodgers must first get rid of a high salary like Kemp before they can afford Cano. The downside of Cano is he cannot carry a team and for most of the nation he is an unknown quantity. I believe Cano will be a Yankee next year. The rumor mill now is chirping that the Yankees are chasing Carlos Beltran. The Yankees are still waiting for the MLB and the Japanese League to reach an agreement on the signing of their players to MLB contracts. Then the Yankees will go after Masahiro Tanaka, a 25 year-old top pitching prospect. News Flash: The Cardinals have just signed Jhonny Peralta, the former Tiger 31 year old SS, to a 4-year $53 million contract. In 2013, Peralta hit .303 with 11 home runs. He missed 50 games due to a suspension after baseball’s investigation into the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal. Baseball owners have just sent the following message: It pays to be a cheater.
As everybody knows by now, the 2013 Boston Red Sox are World Series Champions. For the first time since 1918, the Red Sox were able to celebrate being world champions at home, in Fenway Park. The tradition behind Fenway Park is just magnificent. No other ballpark in baseball comes close to how magical Fenway Park really is, for a baseball park. Everything about the park is just golden. The Green Monster, Pesky’s Pole, Yastremski’s Pole, the Citgo sign, I could go on for days. Seeing the Sox win a World Series came twice in the last ten years before this World Series, when Boston clinched the title in Colorado and in St. Louis. But when it happens at home and in the most epic stadium of all-time, it brought about just the best moment you could dream up for baseball. In a time where steroids are dulling the game and people are more interested in their fantasy football teams, switching to the NFL, this is just what baseball needed for a spark plug. This moment definitely got me going and now I can’t wait to watch baseball next season again.
I’ve been to numerous ballparks in my day. My collection of ballpark visits include Shea Stadium in New York, the old Yankee Stadium, the new Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Camden Yards in Baltimore, Nationals Park in Washington, Coors Field in Colorado, and Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. While Yankee Stadium, the old one and the new one, was a beautiful park full of history and just a breath-taking stadium, the only other field that can be mentioned in the same conversation as Fenway is Wrigley Field. The ivy covering the outfield wall, the brick behind the backstop, and the homemade bleachers on top of apartments deep behind left and right field are what makes Wrigley Field unique. Whoever says home field advantage doesn’t matter or that baseball is the same in every city, couldn’t be more wrong. Standing in Wrigley and Fenway sent chills throughout my body. What do these two parks have in common? They are the two oldest parks in the game. It broke my heart when I heard that the old Yankee Stadium was going to be replaced by the new Yankees Stadium. One thought to leave you with is: The older the ballpark, the better the baseball.