Tag Archives: Alex Rodriguez

ESPN to open 2019 Sunday Night Baseball at Citizens Bank Park

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The ESPN Sunday Night Baseball team will open 2019 at Citizens Bank Park

We are still four months away from the opening of the 2019 Major League Baseball season. But as we move through this off-season, Phillies fans will be clutching at any news of the team to help make it through these cold months.

Today comes word that the Phillies have been chosen by ESPN to host the network’s first Sunday Night Baseball telecast of that 2019 season. The game on Sunday, March 31, 2019 at Citizens Bank Park will have a 7:00PM EDT start time.


That information first came out on Monday afternoon in a Tweet from Meghan Montemurro of The Athletic.
Montemurro followed up that this will be the first time that the Phillies have led off the Sunday Night Baseball coverage since the 2009 season, with the team as defending World Series champions at that time.
The Phillies’ game against the Braves on March 31 at CBP has been chosen as MLB’s first Sunday Night Baseball game of the season. Will be a 7 p.m. start on ESPN.


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This time around the Phillies will be hosting the division-rival Atlanta Braves. The Phillies and Braves battled for the lead in the National League East Division over most of this past summer.
The Phillies spent most of July at the top of the division with the Braves doing the chasing. Atlanta finally passed the Phillies on August 14 and pulled away to win the division. The Phillies actually faded to finish in third place, falling behind the Washington Nationals by the end of the season.
The Braves are likely to enter 2019 as favorites to successfully defend their division crown. However, the Phillies are believed to be major players for a handful of big-name impact free agents who could quickly change that line of thinking.
The Phillies and Braves are scheduled to open their 2019 season with a 3:05PM game on Thursday, March 28, 2019. The two teams are then scheduled to meet again on Saturday, March 30 with another afternoon game scheduled to begin at 4:05PM.
ESPN has been broadcasting the Sunday Night Baseball program since the start of the 1990 season. Matt Vasgersian handled ESPN’s play-by-play duties this past season, with former softball star Jessica Mendoza and MLB all-star Alex Rodriguez joining him on the broadcasts as color commentator and analyst respectively.


We may still have months to go before that Sunday night, but those months will indeed pass. Before you know it, it will be time to head down to South Philly to enjoy a Phillies game at our beautiful ballpark. Or you can just stay home and enjoy the games on TV, including this broadcast from ESPN.

You can count me out on Manny Machado signing with the Phillies in free agency

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Machado will get hundreds of millions in free agency – hopefully not from Phillies

Just yesterday at Phillies Nation, Editorial Director Tim Kelly wrote a piece on Manny Machado which centered around comments the player had made on his own perceived lack of hustle at times.

In that piece, Kelly reported on a handful of quotes attributed to Machado in an interview conducted by Ken Rosenthal at The Athleticwith the pending free agent shortstop.
One of those quotes stood out enough that Kelly highlighted it in his headline:

“…I’m not the type of player that’s going to be ‘Johnny Hustle,’…That’s just not my personality, that’s not my cup of tea, that’s not who I am.”

Well, let me tell what else that is not. That is not going to sell in Philly.
Kelly compared Machado somewhat to former Phillies star shortstop Jimmy Rollins, a franchise icon, the all-time Phillies leader in career hits, and a future Wall of Famer.
Yes, there were times that Rollins did not hustle during his career. In fact, Kelly referenced in his piece the incident well-known to Phillies fans from 2012 in which then-manager Charlie Manuel benched ‘JRoll’ for failing to run out a fly ball.
However, whatever Rollins’ occasional lapses, Phillies fans knew him intimately. They had watched his entire career. They got to see him speed around the bases, sliding head-first into third base for a triple. They got to see him dive into the hole for balls and come up firing the runner out at first base.
Phillies fans watched Rollins proclaim theirs as “the team to beat in 2007, and then deliver an MVP season to back up it up as the club won the National League East Division crown for the first time in 15 years.
They saw him help lead the club to their first World Series championship in 28 years the following season. They roared as Rollins drilled a game-winning and possibly series-saving two-run double in Game Four of the 2009 NLCS against the Dodgers.
The point here is that Rollins was one of our own. We watched him grow from his mid-September debut at Veteran’s Stadium in 2000 through to his final appearance in red pinstripes at Citizens Bank Park in September of 2014.
We forgave him the occasional lapse in hustle or concentration because we saw first-hand the leadership, determination, and toughness over the long haul.
If the Phillies sign Machado this off-season as a free agent, something that up to this point nearly every Phillies fan has been hoping for months if not years, there could be a big problem.
Back in April, Dan Szymborski for ESPN estimated that it would take something along the lines of an eight-year, $300 million contract to land Machado as a shortstop, which is presumably where the Phillies would want him to play.
Now if you, like me, grew up in Philadelphia as a fan of this town’s sports teams, knowing the sports media in place and how involved those fans are with the teams and that media, what do you think? Do you think that a player who is being guaranteed $300 million and who is not hustling all the time is going to go over well here?
A cynic, and we have plenty of those, might say that if Machado is hitting .280-.290 with 40 bombs and 100+ RBI every year while fielding a decent shortstop, then the fans will forgive the occasional lack of hustle. I’m not so sure.
Machado is not home-grown. You pay him that much, you are going to expect that he will come in here and provide more than just his fantasy baseball numbers. Over the first 96 games of this past season, Machado was having a tremendous year. Meanwhile, his Orioles team was baseball’s worst.
Lack of hustle is not the only heavy baggage that Machado would carry with him off the plane at Philadelphia International Airport. There is also a very real “dirty player” label that the now 26-year-old carries along with him.
In last night’s Game Four of the National League Championship Series, that dirty play was on display in front of a national audience. While running through first base on a ground out in the 10th inning, Machado clearly kicked Brewers’ first baseman Jesus Aguilar.
“A dirty play by a dirty player” is how the incident was described by NL MVP favorite Christian Yelich of the Brewers per Gabe Lacques at USA Today. “It absolutely is. I have a lot of respect for him as a player, but you can’t respect someone who plays the game like that.
In the immediate aftermath of the play, former MLB star and current analyst Eric Byrnes put out a tweet that has since been deleted. It was seen, however, by yours truly and reported on by Larry Brown at Yardbarker.

“This dude is the biggest piece of (bleep) I’ve ever seen play the game… He is an absolute embarrassment & represents everything that’s WRONG with baseball. Hopefully future generations can watch & learn how NOT to play the game.” ~ Eric Byrnes

That was the message from Mark Mulder, who pitched for nine years in Major League Baseball and won 103 games in the 2000’s. Mulder is saying a whole lot in a few words with “people think what they do” regarding Machado.
During the NLCS Game Three on Monday, Machado had been involved in a pair of similarly controversial plays. During the postgame show on Fox Sports, former star player Alex Rodriguez, no stranger to controversy himself, was quoted on those incidents and their potential effect on Machado’s potential upcoming huge payday.
“You have 30 owners all want you right now. The whole world is watching baseball. You don’t want four, five owners to sit around and say, ‘Hey, did you see what Manny did? Did you see that? Oh, yeah, yeah, we’re out. We like him, but now we’re out.’ You’re losing tens of millions of dollars by the second if that becomes the narrative.”
I can guarantee you that there are a large number of Phillies fans right now who are hoping and praying that owner John Middleton is among the owners who are out. We may be seeing the Phillies offer to Bryce Harper rising by the day as the postseason moves along, and the Machado antics continue on full display.
As for myself, I don’t need to watch and listen to this kind of garbage for most of the next decade. Machado put up great numbers for the Orioles for most of seven seasons. They got one division title and three playoff appearances with those numbers, advancing past the LDS just one time.
A dirty player who admittedly doesn’t always hustle but may want $300 million? I’m out.

Texas Rangers / Washington Senators All-Time 25-Man Roster

The Texas Rangers were formed from a failed attempt by Major League Baseball to forcibly keep a big league team in the Nation’s Capital.
The original Washington Senators had been one of the American League’s eight charter franchises. That club traced its existence back to the 1901 founding of the junior circuit.
Those first Senators relocated to Minnesota in 1961, where they became the current Twins. Wanting to keep baseball in D.C., an expansion club was created by MLB as a replacement.
The new expansion Washington Senators thus began play in that 1961 season. The team would remain there through the 1971 season.
The Senators had a losing record through each of their first eight seasons. With the nearby Baltimore Orioles as a consistent contender, attendance became a serious issue.
In 1969, baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams was brought in as the skipper with no prior managerial experience. “The Splendid Splinter” would guide the club to its only winning campaign. Williams’ 1969 Senators team finished 86-76 in the first year of MLB divisional play.


The Senators quickly fell back to their losing ways in 1970. This finally resulted in the ball club relocating out to Arlington, Texas where they became the current Texas Rangers ahead of the 1972 season.
In 1974, Texas rose to second place in the AL West, finishing just five games out. Their 84-76 record was just the second winning campaign in franchise history up to that point.
By 1977 the Rangers had become a major contender for the first time. They won 94 games and again finished in second place, eight games short of an extremely talented Kansas City Royals team.
For most of the next two decades the Rangers would see-saw up and down the standings. Texas would lose as many as 99 games in 1985, then win as many as 87 games the very next year.


The Rangers were sold in 1989 to a group that included future U.S. President George W. Bush. A minority owner, Bush was nonetheless elected as the team’s Managing General Partner.
The future President became a key player in setting up deals over the next few years which would result in the building of The Ballpark in Arlington. That facility would later be renamed as Globe Life Park.
Bush gave up his position with the team after being elected as the Governor of Texas in 1994, the same year that the Rangers finally moved into their new home.
Emerging from the crippling baseball strike of 1994, the Rangers quickly became a consistent contender in their new home. Texas won 90 games in 1996, capturing the first AL West crown in franchise history.
The Rangers would again capture division championships in both 1998 and 1999. After each of those three first place finishes, Texas was knocked out in the ALDS by the dynastic New York Yankees teams of the late 1990’s.


As the 21st century dawned, the club fell back to their losing ways. For eight of the nine seasons between 2000-2008 the Rangers suffered through losing campaigns.
Texas rose in the standings once again in the 2009 season. They have once again become consistent contenders, with seven winning seasons over the last eight.
In 2010, the Rangers reached the World Series for the first time. Texas then returned the following season, capturing back-to-back American League pennants.
In both of these Fall Classic appearances the club appeared on the verge of capturing their first world championship. Both times, fate intervened to deny them the title. Texas remains one of eight clubs to never win a World Series crown.
The Rangers have now captured the AL West title in four of the last seven seasons. Division winners the last two years, they remain a strong contender entering the 2017 season.


Many great players have pulled on a Rangers jersey over the last four and a half decades. In fact, players from the Texas years make up the vast majority of this All-Time 25-Man Roster for the franchise. Only two men who ever wore a Senators jersey have made the cut.
In putting together this feature for other organizations, I have stuck with a formula. I normally name 11 pitchers to the roster, with a breakdown of nine starters and two relievers. The position players have usually broken down as two catchers, six infielders, and six outfielders.
In evaluating the Rangers history, there were just too many great infielders to keep that balance. Frankly, with a handful of notable exceptions, great pitching has rarely been an organizational strength. Only 10 pitchers are named here to the Rangers list: eight starters and two relievers.
There are a full eight infielders named to the roster. The two catchers are still here, and the team has five outfielders named instead of the usual six.


Even with making these adjustments, a number of strong position players were left off the roster.
My apologies go out to those who have been left off. Included among these are position players such as Julio FrancoKen McMullenNelson CruzMark TeixeiraMike HargroveBump WillsAl Oliver, and Will Clark.
Failing to make the cut on the mound were Gaylord PerryCole HamelsJon MatlackJose GuzmanDick BosmanJohn Burkett, and Rick Helling.
Let’s take a look now at who did make the final cut for the Texas Rangers / Washington Senators All-Time 25-Man Roster.

Seattle Mariners: All-Time 25-Man Roster

I will be doing a handful of MLB organizational “All-Time 25-Man Roster” pieces for the “Call to the Pen” site with Fansided this off-season. This is part of that series.

The Seattle Mariners arrived in the Pacific Northwest for the 1977 season as an MLB expansion team.
The franchise joined the American League that year along with the Toronto Blue Jays, with Seattle assigned to the AL West Division.
It took the M’s until the 1991 season to experience their first winning campaign, and then until 1995 to win their first American League West Division crown.
Featuring players such as future Baseball Hall of Famers Ken Griffey Jr and Randy Johnson, and possible future Hall of Famers Alex Rodriguez and Edgar Martinez, they became regular contenders for the first time in those mid-1990’s.
The best team in franchise history, which won an American League record 116 games in 2001, developed a few years later when another future Hall of Famer, Ichiro Suzuki, arrived from Japan to begin the 21st century.
Putting together an all-time roster in a 25-man format for the Mariners was not as difficult as it might be for some big league clubs with a longer history. My toughest choice turned out to be deciding upon a 10th pitcher.
However, there certainly were some decisions that I made where other fans may have gone in a different direction. 
I would love to read your comments as to any players who I might have missed, all-time great Mariners players who you feel should be recognized here.
The following are my choices for the Mariners all-time 25-man roster, along with a brief explanation of the reasoning based on the statistics.

Aaron Nola Impressive in Phillies Debut

On Friday afternoon in a rain-shortened game at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida the New York Yankees demolished the Philadelphia Phillies 10-0 in Grapefruit League action.
It would seem to be a pretty dreary result, particularly for the Phillies pitching staff. But in actuality, nothing could be further from the truth.
The most interesting and important aspect of this game involved the Phils’ main pitcher on the day, and from that perspective, things went very well for the club.
Taking the mound against the legendary Yankees franchise was none other than 2014 first round draft pick Aaron Nola. The team’s top pitching prospect was making his first-ever appearance in Phillies red pinstripes.
Nola was scheduled to make a start in the game. But the ominous weather forecast and the Phils’ desire to get game work in for Jonathan Papelbon resulted in the unusual situation of the closer making the start.

The Phillies should be very excited about him.” ~ ARod, on Nola

Papelbon allowed a walk and struck out a batter, got his work in, and turned the game over to Nola. 
So the 6’1, 195-pound righthander finally took the mound to start the top of the 2nd inning with the game still scoreless. When he left after the 4th, it was still scoreless.
Nola went 3 innings, scattering 5 hits, walking none, and struck out four New York batters. He left a big impression on the visitors, including Alex Rodriguez
As quoted by Ryan Lawrence at Philly.com, ARod stated that Nola has a “Good arm. Power slider. Power changeup. I think he has a bright future. … The Phillies should be very excited about him.
Nola’s four K’s came in his final seven opposing hitters, and included not only ARod, but also veterans Carlos Beltran and Chase Headley.
CSN’s Neil Hartman did a nice feature on Nola earlier, prior to this start, including an interview with the pitcher: “Phillies Focus” 
Aaron Nola
Nola tossed 3 shutout innings, struck out 4, scattered 5 hits. (Photo: Baseball Betsy)
Aaron Nola is a Louisiana native, born in Baton Rouge, and was first drafted out of Catholic High School by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 22nd round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft. 
He declined to sign, instead attending LSU where he became a consensus All-American and a Golden Spikes Award finalist a year ago.
The Phillies then made Nola their first round pick in last June’s Amateur Draft, the 7th overall selection. 
He appeared in a dozen games between High-A Clearwater and AA-Reading, going 4-3 with a 2.93 ERA. He allowed 49 hits in 55.1 innings, with an outstanding 45:10 K/BB ratio and a 1.066 WHIP.
Nola will start out the 2014 season as a key member of an extremely talented Reading Phillies rotation that should include fellow highly-rated prospects Jesse BiddleZach Eflin, and Ben Lively
If he stays healthy and effective, it is not unreasonable to think that he could get a shot with the big league club at some point later in the summer.
For one dreary weather afternoon in the Grapefruit League in Florida, Aaron Nola gave the Phillies and fans watching on TV a glimpse into what is a hoped-for warmer and brighter future with the National League team in Philadelphia.