Daily Archives: April 8, 2011

TTM Success: Mark McGwire Signed Baseball!!! WHOA!!!

TTM Success:  Mark McGwire Signed Baseball!!! WHOA!!!

8 days – are you serious??? 

Yes, I am – 8 days!!!!

While you may not care for how he achieved some of his baseball accomplishments, there is NO denying the impact that Mark McGwire had on the sport of baseball – putting the entire league on his back and returning the sport to glory as he chased and eventually demolished one of baseball’s most legendary single-season feats.

While on vacation with my family during Spring Break, I saw a ton of TTM returns from McGwire while he and the Cardinals were in Jupiter for Spring Training.  So, as soon as I returned I immediately got a ball and letter together and threw them in the mail.

And now, I am the proud owner of this wonderfully signed baseball…

Personalized to me, the ball and autograph look great!

An awesome addition to my rapidly growing signed baseball collection.

TOO SWEET!!!!

Manny Ramirez Retires From Major League Baseball!!!’

Manny Ramirez Retires From Major League Baseball!!!’

NEW YORK (AP) – The news that mercurial slugger Manny Ramirez had tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance and abruptly retired swept quickly through baseball, leaving players and mangers with mixed emotions.

Some were baffled that Ramirez would get caught again violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy. Others were angry that baseball is still dealing with the specter of steroid use. Still others were disappointed that another player had walked away in shame.

“Until the past couple of years, I thought he was on his way to the Hall of Fame,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “I don’t think many guys got as many big hits in their careers as he has. There weren’t many guys who had as big an effect on a game as he had.

“You hate to see greatness all of a sudden just fade.”

Ramirez decided to retire Friday rather than face a 100-game suspension for a second violation of MLB’s drug policy. The 12-time All-Star served a 50-game ban in 2009 while a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and second-time offenders get double that penalty.

“We were obviously surprised when we found out about it today, and hurt by what transpired,” said Rays vice president Andrew Friedman, who signed Ramirez to a $2 million, one-year contract in the offseason. “We were cautiously optimistic that he would be able to be a force for us.”

A person familiar with the situation confirmed to The Associated Press that Ramirez tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the nature of Ramirez’s issue with MLB’s drug policy was not publicly disclosed.

The commissioner’s office announced Ramirez’s decision but provided few details.

“Major League Baseball recently notified Manny Ramirez of an issue under Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,” MLB said in a statement. “Ramirez has informed MLB that he is retiring as an active player. If Ramirez seeks reinstatement in the future, the process under the Drug Program will be completed.”

MLB said it would have no further comment.

The 38-year-old outfielder-designated hitter left the Rays earlier this week to attend to what the team called a family matter. Manager Joe Maddon said Thursday that he expected Ramirez to be available for Friday night’s game at Chicago, but he never showed up.

“Of course you’re disappointed,” Maddon said before the Rays rallied to a 9-7 win Friday night over the White Sox, their first victory in seven games this season. “But at the end of the day, he has to make up his own mind. It’s a choice he has to make.”

Ramirez played in only five games for the Rays, with one hit in 17 at-bats, and flied out as a pinch-hitter Wednesday in his final at-bat. He had a strong spring training, then was excused from the last exhibition game for personal reasons.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Tampa Bay outfielder Johnny Damon, who helped Boston end an 86-year title drought by winning the 2004 World Series, in which Ramirez was the Most Valuable Player.

“I don’t know everything that’s been brought up. All I know is he’s a great teammate and a great player,” Damon said, when asked about the steroid allegations. “It’s going to be sad not seeing Manny Ramirez ever around a baseball field.”

A schoolboy legend on the streets of New York, Ramirez was selected 13th overall by the Cleveland Indians in the 1991 amateur draft and rose quickly through the minor leagues, with a youthful exuberance and natural charisma that endeared him to just about everyone he met.

He broke into the majors in 1993 and played his first full season the following year, when he finished second to the Royals’ Bob Hamlin in voting for Rookie of the Year. Ramirez went on to establish himself as one of the game’s most feared hitters, adopting a dreadlock hairdo that seemed to mirror his happy-go-lucky demeanor – both on the field and off.

He signed with the Red Sox as a free agent in December 2000, helping the long-suffering franchise win the World Series a few years later, then doing it again in 2007.

“It’s sad, man, to see a player with that much talent and with an unbelievable career get him out of the game,” Red Sox slugger David Ortiz said. “He got his issues like a lot of people know, but, as a player, I think he did what he was supposed to.”

The Red Sox wearied of those issues, though, and traded him to the Dodgers in July 2008.

Ramirez instantly became a fan favorite on the West Coast, with “Mannywood” signs popping up around town, as he led Los Angeles to the NL West title and a sweep of the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs. The clutch performances earned Ramirez a $45 million, two-year contract.

All that good will fizzled the following May, when Ramirez tested positive for human chorionic gonadotropin, a banned female fertility drug often used to help mask steroid use.

According to a report in the New York Times later that summer, Ramirez also tested positive for performance-enhancing substances during MLB’s anonymous survey testing in 2003.

On Friday came strike three – unofficially – and Ramirez decided he was out.

“I’m shocked,” said Colorado’s Jason Giambi, who has acknowledged taking steroids during his own career. “He always kind of portrayed that he was out there, but he knew how to hit, man. He was unbelievable when it came to hitting.”

Ramirez’s positive test for a banned substance comes as baseball, which has been working hard to put its so-called Steroids Era in the past, has another of its great hitters, Barry Bonds, on trial in San Francisco. Bonds is facing federal charges that he lied to a grand jury in 2003 by denying that he willfully used performance-enhancing drugs.

“Once you get caught once, I mean, you’re already banged 50 games, why try again?” said White Sox closer Bobby Jenks, a teammate of Ramirez for a short time last season. “I mean, it’s a little stupid, but I guess he made his own choices. Now he’s got to live with them.”

“Might have been running out of bullets,” added Phillies manger Charlie Manuel, who worked with Ramirez in Cleveland. “Father Time was catching up to him.”

The Rays had hoped Ramirez could add some pop to a lineup that lost several key pieces off last year’s AL East champions. After all, he’s a .312 career hitter with 13 seasons of 100-plus RBIs and 555 home runs, 14th on the all-time list.

Now, quite possibly an asterisk next to all those numbers.

“Major League Baseball, they’re all after those people. They don’t play around. They let the players know how tough they’re going to be,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “They say, ‘We’ll be checking you guys, we’ll be monitoring all this stuff.”’

Still, Guillen acknowledged that Ramirez was one of the game’s great hitters.

He led the American League with a .349 batting average in 2002, finished second the next year, and had an AL-best 43 home runs in 2004. He made more than $200 million during his playing career, a testament both to his hitting prowess and his ability to draw fans to ballparks.

But there was another side to Manny – his lackadaisical nature, particularly on defense and the basepaths, rubbed some managers and teammates the wrong way.

Ramirez flied out four times in his big league debut in 1993. In his second game, he hit two homers and nearly a third – a long drive at Yankee Stadium bounced over the left-field fence for a double. Trouble was, Ramirez had his head down and assumed it was a home run, so he trotted past second base and was nearing third when his cackling teammates finally stopped him.

It was simply Manny being Manny.

“He didn’t take life too seriously,” said Yankees catcher Russell Martin, who was with Ramirez on the Dodgers in 2009 and ’10. “I feel like some fans live and die with the game. He just didn’t take it to that level.”

The question now is whether his drug use will forever shame him.

Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker called the end of Ramirez’s career “a shame,” and said he should have been headed for the Hall of Fame with the numbers he put up.

Yet many sluggers from the Steroids Era, among them Mark McGwire, are finding that numbers aren’t enough. The shadow that hovered over baseball during their playing days has drifted over Cooperstown, with voters reluctant to reward them with induction into baseball’s shrine.

“It’s hard not to wonder what’s what. You just don’t know,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “You have no idea of how long it went on, how much it went on, how much it changed it.

“It just puts that doubt, I think, in your mind what was through hard work and what came through not totally their own abilities.”

1989 Headline: Abbott Makes Major League Debut!!!

1989 Headline:  Abbott Makes Major League Debut!!!

On this day in 1989 Jim Abbott made his major league debut with the California Angels.

Prior to this day, Abbott had already conquered Little League, High School baseball, Collegiate Baseball, and even The Olympics.  Yet this day stands alone.  On this day he stood toe to toe with the best baseball players in the world and was their peer.  Disability or not, he made it to the major leagues defying odds and hurdling obstacle after obstacle that was thrown his way.

On the day, and in front of more than 46,000 fans in attendance, Abbott got hit pretty hard by the Mariners.  Going just 4 2/3 innings, he allowed 6 hits and 6 runs.  He took a loss and the team lost the game 7-0. 

Mr. Jim Abbott – A true baseball hero and icon!!!!

1974 Headline: Hank Aaron Is New Home Run King!!!

1974 Headline: Hank Aaron Is New Home Run King!!!

On this day in 1974, and less than a week into the new baseball season, Hank Aaron became ball’s new home run king.  What a long offseason it must have been…

At home, and in front of 53,775 Braves fans, Hank Aaron crushed the 715th home run of his career passing Babe Ruth.  Coming to the plate in the bottom of the fourth inning, Arron faced Al Downing and sent his offering into the left field bleachers!!

And as they say, ‘The Crowd Went Wild’!!

Congratulations on this magnificent achievement Mr. Aaron!!!

Happy Birthday Gary Carter!!!!

Happy Birthday Gary Carter!!!!

‘The Kid’ turns 57 years old today!

Had it not been for a player named Johnny Bench, Gary Carter may be considered the best catcher in baseball history.  In this case, 2nd place is not too bad of a spot to be in when you’re behind one the greatest players in major league history.

Gary Carter brought a level of offensive and defensive consistency to the catching position for 19 seasons.  An 11-time All-star, Carter was the team leader during his days with the Montreal Expos and New York Mets.  His solid offensive play, highlighted by winning 5 Silver Slugger awards, and his dominant defense in which he won 3 Gold Gloves established him as one of the most complete players during the 1970’s and into the 1980’s.  With a career batting average of .262, Carter captured 2,092 hits during his playing days.  And with 324 homers, 1,225 RBI, and 1,025 runs scored, Carter provided punch to the offense that was rare from the catcher’s position during those times.  Due to the rarity of this kind of production by a catcher, Gary Carter finished in the Top 17 for the MVP award 7 times during his career.

Gary Carter played in 1 World Series match-up in 1986 and his New York Mets won the title in 7 games.  During that series, Carter batted .276 while hitting 2 home runs and knocking in an amazing 9 runs.

And oh yeah, he is quickly becoming a strong candidate for one of ’30-YOC’s next player collections too.

Happy Birthday Mr. Carter!!

Happy Birthday Jim ‘Catfish’ Hunter!!!

Happy Birthday Jim ‘Catfish’ Hunter!!!

Jim Hunter would have turned 65 years old today.

Hunter’s Hall of Fame resume includes a 224-166 record.  Catfish pitched for 15 seasons in the big leagues and was an 8-time All-Star.  He won the Cy Young award in 1974 when he went 25-12 with a 2.49 ERA.  Catfish won 5 World Series rings – 3 with the Oakland A’s and 2 with the New York Yankees.

Happy Birthday ‘Catfish’!!!