MLB Week in Review (July 22-28)

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This week the eyes of most baseball fans turned to a small town in New York State where two legends of the game entered the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame class was not the biggest this year but it was a class with two of the biggest names over the last two decades.

For one it was a big name that was much more regional than others while his classmate was a name that might go down as the biggest ever.

When thinking of Mike Piazza the first thing that pops into most people’s mind is a grinder from New York.

He didn’t start there though as Piazza began his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers before moving to Florida and then finding his home in New York.

He came into the league a relatively unknown prospect with his father apparently asking a family friend, Tommy Lasorda, to draft the young first baseman as a favour.

Lasorda did just that in the 64th round and told Piazza to learn how to catch in order to have a better chance at sticking around.

Piazza shifted to catcher and the rest is history as he became one of the best hitting catchers in the history of the MLB.

He won the rookie of the year in 1993 and finished second in MVP voting after the 1996 and 1997 seasons with the Dodgers.

In 1998 he was traded to the Florida Marlins who quickly turned him around to the place that would become his true home, the New York Mets.

He became a hero for the Mets as he continued to build his resume as one of the best hitting catchers.

He was a great player but he was a legend in the Northeast more than he was everywhere else.

That might have been why he had to wait for a little to get into the hall of fame but he is in.

He went in with a player that everyone knew was going to be in on the first ballot.

That is because Ken Griffey Jr. was the first true nationwide celebrity to play baseball in the MLB.

He was always a baseball player first after getting his talent from his father who also played in the MLB.

His swing would become the model for so many while his athleticism in the outfield made him a true all-around player.

His talent got him plenty in baseball but his personality got him everywhere outside of baseball.

Griffey was truly the first player to translate outside of sports and into the mainstream media.baseball-sidebar

Part of this was that Griffey came around at the perfect time when sports stars were just beginning to enter into the world of celebrity.

That mixed with the fact that he was young, good-looking, and one of the best players in the game made him a perfect candidate to be a celebrity.

That celebrity grew as time went on as he quickly earned the cover of the Wheaties box and signed a massive deal with Nike.

Then came Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball for the Super NES.

It is still considered one of the key steps in the development of the games that are seen today. The follow-up games got better and better.

The video bearing his name made him an even bigger star in the mainstream especially at a time when video games were just taking off.

Griffey was one of the biggest stars in baseball and in sports and as a result, everyone knows his name.

He didn’t make the Hall of Fame as a result of his fame though as he paved the road to Cooperstown through his spectacular play on the field.

Both he and Piazza earned their spots and although they had different recognition outside of the field they both ended up in the same place.

This week was a time to look back into the history of the MLB before the gaze turns forward with only two months left before the postseason begins.

Extra Innings
(More on this week in baseball)

Sale Makes a Stand
The week started off strange when Chris Sale was pulled from his start after apparently taking scissors to the throwback uniform he was supposed to wear that day as he reportedly believed it affected his mechanics and was upset that the White Sox wouldn’t change the uniforms

Lesser Moves
Last year the Toronto Blue Jays made the biggest splash at the trade deadline landing David Price and Troy Tulowitzki for their postseason run this year they made more moves, albeit not as big picking up Melvin Upton Jr. and struggling relief man Joaquim Benoit

A Controversial Move
The Chicago Cubs are still one of the best teams in the game and they looked to load up before the postseason run trading for Aroldis Chapman despite his issues with domestic violence that have made him a scary signing

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Key Series:
Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1 Philadelphia Phillies
– The battle of Pennsylvania took hold over the weekend as the Phillies tried to gain some bragging rights in the midst of a bad season but they couldn’t take anything after the first game with the Pirates coming out on top

Texas Rangers 2-1 Kansas City Royals
– The Rangers came into the series looking to remain at the top of their division while the Royals were looking to get back to the top of theirs and the Rangers came out on top taking two games and remaining the best team in the west

Chicago Cubs 3-1 Chicago White Sox
– The Crosstown Classic has gained some new life recently as the Cubs have become a much better team and this tie they proved it taking three games in this home and home series

Washington Nationals 1-1 Cleveland Indians
– The Nationals are under the radar for the first time in a long time and they are enjoying it as they sit at the top of the east but they couldn’t gain much ground splitting a series against Cleveland who is trying to keep some of their momentum from the first half

Upcoming Series:
Washington Nationals vs. San Francisco Giants [July 29-31]
– The East and West meet in a series between two of the best teams in the National League face-off with both teams looking to stay on top of their respective divisions before as the postseason race approaches

Baltimore Orioles vs. Toronto Blue Jays [July 29-31]
– The Jays may not have started their season off well but they have begun making a charge and now they sit in second place they will look to take out the Orioles who have been sitting at or near the top of the division all year

New York Yankees vs. New York Mets [Aug. 1-4]
– The rivalry theme continues as the Subway Series gets underway in the Big Apple with the Mets now looking like the better team and the Yankees struggling to stay alive in the hunt for the postseason

Boston Red Sox vs. Seattle Mariners [Aug. 1-4]
– The Red Sox had a great start to the year but are beginning to fall behind in the AL East as they look to gain some ground quickly against the Mariners who are in their own fight for the West against another two teams

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