MLB Week in Review (April 14-20)

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Major League Baseball is a league full of great history and they love to point it out every chance they get. The MLB dates back before the 20th century as the official date of the first MLB team, The Cincinnati Red Stockings, is 1869. Since that point there have been many changes in the league with TV coming into play in the late 1900s and money going up. Although many things have come and gone in the MLB there are still many aspects of the game that hark back to the old days. Many of these aspects are the teams themselves as the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves can look back to the 1870s to their beginnings. There is one thing that seems to change more often in the MLB though as the ball park is one of the fastest changing aspects of the league. With the Marlins just recently opening their new ballpark the time between an old park and a new park is shrinking. With new amenities and more money to be made many teams are looking to be the best and flashiest places to play their games. Even old ball clubs like the New York Yankees, established in 1901, changed their ballparks as they moved from the legendary Yankee Stadium that was opened in 1923 to the New Yankee Stadium in 2009. The stadiums are becoming new and improved and some have lost their appeal as they no longer concentrate on the feel of the game but what else you can do during the game. There are some teams that have such a connection with their ballpark that they may never change. Places like Dodgers Stadium, opened in 1962, or Wrigley Field, opened in 1916. Then there is the oldest stadium left in the MLB as the Boston Red Sox celebrate the 100th year of Fenway Park. Fenway is baseball, and that is coming from a Blue Jays fan, with the tight seats and the amazing atmosphere. It is an awkward park made to fit the small plot in the city with dimensions that seem to be straight out of a fun house. The first thing that any fan notices is the small distance from home plate to left field, 310 feet, but to make up for the lack of distance there is the 37 foot tall Green Monster. Then there is the right field foul pole, named Pesky’s Pole, that is slightly off-line from the first base line and has caused some issues in the past. The seats have not been changed since the beginning even with some seats having a fully obstructed view with a support beam directly in front of the seat. Fenway Park is an authentic view into the history of the MLB and is a living historical artifact. This week Fenway celebrated its 100th birthday with a classic matchup between the Yankees and the Red Sox. The Red Sox have been struggling this year and so have the Yankees, although the Yankees are beginning to look like their dominant selves. Although the Red Sox lost their birthday party for their beloved park the fact remains that Fenway is the top of the baseball world. It may not be the fanciest park with the newest and best amenities in the baseball world but there is something to be said about the type of park that makes you feel like a part of history when you enter. That is what Fenway does as it leads the charge for the old in a league that continues to evolve yet still wants to hold on to its past.

One of the biggest changes in the MLB since the beginning of the league has been the increase in money involved in the league. This year continued the trend as three big name free agents made headlines all winter for their big time contracts. First was Yu Darvish, a Chinese pitcher who had a 1.44 ERA in the Japanese league in 2011 and was rumoured to have close to 8 pitches in his arsenal. The bidding war started with many teams in the running but the Rangers won offering $51.7 million to his Japanese club for the right to negotiate with the pitcher. They then signed him to a 6-year $60 million contract. Then came Albert Pujols who left his longtime home of St. Louis to test the waters and was rewarded by signing a 10-year $254 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels. Finally after leaving it to the last-minute Prince Fielder signed a 9-year $214 million contract with the Detroit Tigers. The contract watch has started as people look at all three players to see if they play up to their contract. So far the watch is the usual bad news as Albert Pujols has not yet hit a Home Run and only earning 4 RBIs with his new team disappointing many people. Yu Darvish has been even worse getting touched in his first start and coming slightly back in the second start. He is currently 2-0 with a 3.57 ERA but has 13 walks to his 14 strikeouts. Meanwhile Prince Fielder has been the one bright spot in the free agent pool as he has hit 2 HRs has 8 RBIs and is hitting .357 so far this year. Of course it is hard to judge so early in the season but the pressure is on for all three players this year as they need to play up to their contract or they will quickly become busts. The contract watch will be a big story line to watch this season as Yu Darvish and Albert Pujols look to get back to what got them the big contracts while Prince Fielder looks to keep going.

 

MLB Standings:

American League:

East:

1. Baltimore Orioles (.571)

2. New York Yankees (.571)

3. Toronto Blue Jays (.538)

4. Tampa Bay Rays (.500)

5. Boston Red Sox (.308)

Central:

1. Detroit Tigers (.692)

2. Cleveland Indians (.583)

3. Chicago White Sox (.538)

4. Minnesota Twins (.357)

5. Kansas City Royals (.231)

West:

1. Texas Rangers (.846)

2. Oakland Athletics (.467)

3. Seattle Mariners (.467)

4. Los Angeles Angels (.357)

 

National League

East:

1. Washington Nationals (.733)

2. Atlanta Braves (.643)

3. New York Mets (.538)

4. Miami Marlins (.500)

5. Philadelphia (.500)

Central:

1. St. Louis Cardinals (.714)

2. Cincinnati Reds (.429)

3. Milwaukee Brewers (.429)

4. Pittsburgh Pirates (.385)

5. Houston Astros (.357)

6. Chicago Cubs (.214)

West:

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (.786)

2. Colorado Rockies (.538)

3. San Francisco Giants (.538)

4. Arizona Diamondbacks (.500)

5. San Diego Padres (.200)

 

Key Scores:

Boston Red Sox 13 – 5 Tampa Bay Rays

– The Red Sox kicked off the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park with a series against the Rays and were able to get out to a big lead in the second game as the bats came alive scoring 13 runs against the Rays

 

Baltimore Orioles 10 – 4 Chicago White Sox

– The Orioles continued their strong start to the season as they continued to stay on top in the ultra competitive AL East when they beat the struggling Chicago White Sox who have not gotten off to a great start but remain at the top of the division

 

New York Yankees 7 – 6 Minnesota Twins

– The Yankees began their surge up the standings in this series and capped it off with history as Curtis Granderson became the first person to hit three home runs in the New Yankee Stadium leading to the win in a battle of the bats

 

New York Yankees 6 – 2 Boston Red Sox

– The Yankees spoiled the party for the Red Sox who celebrated the 100th year of Fenway Park on the same day that the park opened in 1912 but that couldn’[t help them to get out of their funk as they lost to their longtime rivals

 

Next Week:

New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox (April 21st; 4:05 pm)

– The celebration continues for the Red Sox as they try to take the next game in their Fenway celebration but the Yankees look to continue their surge to the top of the division as they look to be the beasts of the east again this year

 

Baltimore Orioles vs. Los Angeles Angels (April 22nd; 3:35 pm)

– The Orioles are playing great at in the first month as they continue to win key games and stay on top of the AL East but the Angels will try to stop them while getting back on track in their own division after a very disappointing start

 

New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers (April 25th; 8:05 pm)

– Two of the best teams in the American League over the last two years will face off as the Yankees look to continue the great momentum while the Rangers look to continue their own dominant play in the first month

 

San Diego Padres vs. San Francisco Giants (April 27th; 10:15 pm)

– The Padres and Giants have both struggled and although the Padres are not very surprised the opposite is true for the Giants who were looking to get back to their winning ways but have stumbled out of the gate

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