PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT/BASEBALL FOTTER AND OTHER NEWS AND NOTES

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     Here we are, its Thursday February 13th.  The day before another Valentines Day.  Just a note, in my opinion Valentine’s Day is extremely overrated as you should always treat your loved ones to such things as flowers, jewelry, etc. on a consistent basis.  Too many people are shallow in my mind as they wait for this day to flex their muscles.  This shallow behavior is all too familiar.  Anyways, sorry to get off track, but I had to voice my opinion on the day otherwise known as Saint Valentine’s Day.  Well, today is also the official day for pitchers and catchers to report to spring training for many Baseball Teams, which marks the beginning of the longest run in sports.  Here in Philly we are having another super snow storm that has added to an already unheard of total of 52 Inches of snow so far this winter.  So as snow, sleet, ice and rain are pelting the North East once again, our baseball teams head south to sunny Florida and Arizona.

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     So as we head into another Baseball Season, there are many questions that remain for every team in the league.  I would say that this may have been the quietest offseason as far as free agency goes.  There were not many big name signings throughout the league as Robinson Cano lead the way.  Jay Z made sure his client got his pay day.  The Yankees made some noise as always as they signed Jacoby Ellsbury (Boston), Brian McCann(Atlanta), Carlos Beltran(Saint Louis), and Mashiro Tanaka(The Best Free Agent Pitcher from Japan).  So the Yankees were very proactive in Free Agency, but this is no surprise.  The Seattle Mariners signed the top free agent, Yankee’s 2B Robinson Cano.

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     There were some other Free Agent transactions, however for the most part these moves involved average players.  In a stocking move yesterday, the Philadelphia Phillies signed free agent Pitcher A.J. Burnett to a one year 16 Million Dollar Contract…are you kidding me?  No folks, this is correct.  The Phillies are at the end of the line and I guess Ruben Amaro is trying to load up for one last magical run that will never come.  The Phillies window has closed.  And signing A.J. Burnett for 16 million is a major disappointment for me as a baseball fan.  If A.J. Burnett is worth 16 million, then what is Jon Lester worth.  The Red Sox signed Lester to a 13 Million Dollar Contract and Lester is a far better pitcher than Burnett, with a higher upside as well.

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     If we take a look back at the past few World Series winners, the formula remains the same.  Keep getting younger, mix in a few key free agents at position of need and build from the farm.  Well, Amaro has completely emptied the Phillies minor league system.  Since their World Series win in 2008, the Phillies have been on a constant decline.  Ryan Howard has only played in half of the Phillies games the past two seasons, due to various injuries.  Chase Utley has also missed significant time.  Jimmy Rollins is maybe one year from retirement.  The Phillies main offseason signing, Marlon Byrd is 36 Years old and definitely overrated and overpaid.  If the Phillies were going to try and revamp the outfield, why did they not just keep Shane Victorino.  Victorino is not only a better player than Byrd, but he is much younger and is a playoff beast.  Pitching, the back bone of the Phillies the past few years has also been a question mark.  Roy Halladay retired.  So that leaves Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee as the Phillies top 2 Guns.

     Well, yesterday it was reported that Cole Hamels has tendinitis in his shoulder and will not be ready for the start of the season, maybe not playing until May1st.  This is not exactly the news that the team wanted to hear that is going into the season expecting their entire roster to have career years to just have a chance of making the post season.  So what does Ruben Amaro do?  He goes and signs A.J. Burnett to a 16 Million Dollar Contract.  Don’t get me wrong, Burnett is not a horrible player.  However, he is 36 years old, and he has had major control problems his past five seasons.  He is definitely not the same pitcher he was with the Blue Jays and Marlins.  Yes he could be a nice third starter for the Phils.  However, I think this was an act of panic on Amaro’s part.  Why not save the 16 Million and ride the young talent in the pitching realm.

     The Phillies should have began rebuilding a few years back.  Instead, they head into the 2014 season with the oldest team in Major League Baseball with an average age of 33.  On top of that, they sign 40 Year Old Bobby Abreu to a minor league contract and 36 Year Old A.J. Burnett.  I would have to point to that Ruben Amaro has ruined this franchise.  But all of these moves in the offseason are typical of how the Phillies conduct business.  In a future post I will give my Preview and Predictions for MLB this season.  The Yankees have to be the favorite in the AL and the Dodgers in the NL.  However, never count out the Saint Louis Cardinals or San Francisco Giants who have won 4 of the last 5 World Series.

    Yesterday at work, I saw a coworker who had tears in his eyes.  I thought, what could possibly be wrong.  At that moment he informed me that Derek Jeter has announced that he will retire after this season.  Derek Jeter is that kind of player.  He is like Mariano Rivera.  These type of players are icons that bring fans so much joy and happiness.  Derek Jeter is one of those players that becomes a fan’s childhood idol so this is very big news for any Yankee fan, as well as Baseball Fans alike.  Of course in other notes, we had all of the Replay institutions that were put into the Rule Books.  I am sure this should ad to an already ever-changing game.

     As we sit in our homes watching another snow storm, pitchers and catchers are on their flights to Spring Training.  This should put a smile on any sports fans face that is going through withdrawal as Football Season is over.  Baseball means nice weather.  This alone puts a smile on my face.  Well, as I said I will have my preview and predictions soon to come.  The start of a new season also means a new Fantasy Baseball season.  Im sure there will be many draft parties to come.  Until next time, enjoy your day off of work here on the East Coast.  Thanks again to INTHENEUTRALZONE.  Until next time have an awesome weekend.

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THE IDES OF MARCH

February comes to a close today as we head into the month of March. The term “Ides of March” used to represent the middle of the month on the Roman Calendar. It was a festive day and dedicated to the “God Mars” and a Military Parade was usually held. In modern day history, the term refers to the date on which Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group of Senate Conspirators in 44 B.C.

In today’s society, The Ides of March marks the end of February and the transition from winter to spring. The Ides of March can truly share many meanings for many different people and many different cultures. In today’s American culture, the term can refer to many things, but mostly relates to the change of season, going from the long cold winter to the refreshing season of Spring.

My own version of the Ides of March can be summed up by sports and music etymology. First of all, this year does not have a 29th day of February meaning there is no leap year. March marks the luminous sound of balls pounding leather, bats cracking at the sound of a ball being rocketed from home plate, the smell of fresh cut grass, the chants of “Hot Dogs Here”, the sounds of fans shouting (either cheering or booing), the sight of young kids as they try to get their favorite player’s (heroes) autograph or picture, the sight of a manager scolding one of his young players for making a mistake in hopes that the player will learn from this mistake. The Ides of March marks spring training Baseball, the start of another new Season and everyone is at square one.

March also marks the beginning of the NFL combine, the rigorous tests on college football stars with the hopes of getting drafted by some NFL team, it is the hopes and dreams of young college players just waiting for the chance to display their physical skills for the entire NFL to see, it marks the numerous General Manager Meetings, Free Agency begins, Teams are finalizing their coaching staffs and making player personnel decisions based on where the team finished last season, it is the prelude to the NFL Draft which comes in April.

The Ides of March means the beginning of the sprint towards the playoffs in both basketball and hockey. Teams are jockeying for position and are making roster moves and trades to either help them now or better their future, they are gearing up for the most spirited grind in sports, coaches on the hot seat, players changing jerseys, veterans slowing down, rookies become stars, the spotlight is on in full force on both of these sports. Only one team will win the prize and March is where it all begins to come to a Climax.

The Ides of March represents the sprint to the finish line for High School Seniors. It marks the race towards the Senior Prom, Senior Trips, and finally High School Graduation. It also marks the start of many college hopefuls visiting different colleges In hopes of finding the one that best fits their needs. It also is the time where testing is done to qualify students strengths and weaknesses.

The Ides of March also marks the true beginning if the new Music/Movie Season as the Grammys and Oscars have been completed and now we look forward to all of the new material that will come about in 2013. Bands are working in new albums. Recording studios are scouring the local clubs and bars to find that next great talent. Tours begin to kick off as fans wait in line for days to purchase tickets. New Movie Releases are pouring out weekly, each week trying to outdo the last. Actors and Actresses are either coming to their end or are on the rise.

The Ides of March is a very fun time in my opinion. The change of season is always welcome and going from the winter weather to the spring and summer months is just a mile away. As we come to the end of another February, let us ponder how our new year has began so far. For many if us this year has started off terrible. Well, there is good news. March is here and it’s time for change. There is hope to turn things around. You have to want to change. You have to have the will to change. March should bring a welcome opportunity to embrace this change and come full circle.

As I conclude this blog, I believe it is very important for people to realize that this time of the year is where you can make or break the choices you will make for the upcoming year. Enjoy the change of weather. Spring and Summer Sun should lead us to happier days. They say that the Sun can “pull you out of depression”. So as the Ides of March approach, praise God that you are alive and well and that you wake up everyday to a new day. Be thankful for what you do have not envious of what you don’t have. Remain positive and always move forward. The Ides of March are here…Embrace

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SUPER SUNDAY: QUICK FACTS AND NOTES

Super Bowl Sunday 2013 has arrived. I feel like these years keep getting shorter and shorter the older I get ugghhh! Anyways, last year saw the New York Football Giants upset the New England Patriots for the second time in 3 years in the Super Bowl. This years addition brings a few new teams to the big dance, well not new, both teams have won Super Bowls. The 49ers have Five…Baltimore has One…ironically they beat the same New York Giants in a blowout. They became only the third wild card team in history to win a Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl is really a giant overrated day of eating tons of food, people getting sloppy drunk, partying to the late hours of the night, many people not even watching the game, expensive commercials and much more hoopla. My friend Aaron said it best…the anticipation builds and builds and builds and then it is a giant letdown. Truly, these games are hard to enjoy unless your team is playing in it and for us Eagles fans…this has only been twice in the last 34 years!!!! 2004 was the last time the Eagles were in a Super Bowl…and of course we all know how that game ended. We felt like broken bones…we felt like a piece of our own was taken away that day.

Aaron also made another very good point the other day…and this is really true if you research the numbers. The past Ten Super Bowls have probably been the most entertaining ones in the modern era. I can remember the 80’s and 90’s the Super Bowls were major blowouts with one team demolishing the other. I remember a few of the Dallas Cowboy routes, as well as the Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, etc. These games were over before they began. And another odd fact was that the NFC dominated the big day. As of late, the AFC has turned the tide drastically barring the few Giants wins and Packers. New England, of course, has been the Pittsburgh Steelers of the Seventies, the 49ers of the Eighties, the Dallas Cowboys of the Nineties.

Today when you are all watching the game, remember that this game will feature brother against brother. The HarBowl. The 49ers are favored by 4 and many analysts are saying this game will not be close. I am if the other opinion…I am picking the Baltimore Ravens to win their Second Super Bowl in 13 years. I think Ray Lewis is going to go out with a bang. I think Joe Flacco is going to shine and represent the Delaware Valley proud. I think the Ravens Defense is going to pick the 49ers offense apart. I am taking the Ravens to win the game 21-17. The game will not be as close as the score in essence.

Well, well, well…the Philadelphia Flyers actually won a game last night. The New line combination of Danny Briere and Claude Giroux looked like a match made in Heaven. Power Play Goal…check. Penalty Kill solid…check. Shots on goal…check. And stellar goaltending…check. Ilya Bryzgalov has been the Flyers best player this far this season. He is in a zone and is playing like he did in his Vezina finish season. Standing tall, square to the shooter. Last night he made 39 Saves, many at point blank range. If he can keep playing like this we can only hope that the Flyers can find their scoring touch.

The Alex Rodriguez debacle is just another example if how Major League Baseball has failed in its attempt to rid the game of cheaters and illegal substances that enhance performance. I know that Ryan Braun was acquitted last year of his charges, but I am sure that a few years from now it will come out that he was doping. MLB must get more strict even if it goes against popular beliefs in the league. This commissioner has not impressed me I e bit. This league for all the good things has a black cloud over it. Less players of our time will make the Hall of Fame and rightfully so. These players are a joke and they mock the league. Baseball used to be sacred and these scum bags are ruining the sanctity of the game. Well speaking if the game…pitchers and catchers report next week so this is where it gets exciting once again. Spring Training is right around the corner.

So today…everyone have a happy day and enjoy the game and all of the wild parties. Be safe and don’t drink and drive. Don’t act stoopid. Don’t get silly drunk in front of kids. That’s just not cool anymore. Maybe when you were in college…but CMon! Please, grow up and just enjoy the game without all of the drama. Lets go Ravens!!!!!!!

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PHILLIES TALK

Hello…Wishing everyone a Healthy and Happy 2013. So anyways, this is my first post of the New Year and I’m gonna go a different direction. We have been talking Eagles for months and there really is not much going on in the Music World Today. So I thought we would take a break and talk some Phillies Baseball. Yeah that’s right…the team that won 4 Division Championships in a Row! Yes, last year was a bitter disappointment, but 2013 could bring another way. With a healthy Halladay, a vintage Lee, and a Homegrown Hammels, the Phillies still arguably have the best Trio of Starting Pitchers in Baseball. Last year, the Phillies dropped off dramatically on the offensive side of the ball and never got in sync. Placido Polonco has given his heart to this team, as he was traded away years ago when Utley was brought up and then resigned 3 years ago as the Phillies 3rd Baseman. He is not the same player that he was with Detroit, Phillies, and Cardinals. Polonco when he is on his game is one of the toughest players in the league. However, his back has been a sore spot every year and continues to plague him. Going into the offseason, the Phillies knew that they had to address the 3rd Base Position and also the Outfield. Well, they did a very decent job in the offseason by signing Jeff Young at 3rd and Ben Revere a prospect on the rise to replace Shane Victorino who is no longer with the team. They also made a few other signings including Mike Adams to Set up Papplebon. The other outfield positions will be a platoon of Domenic Brown, Lance Nix, John Mayberry, and Tyson Gillies. That is unless they make another signing. I truly believe 2013 will be another good season for the Phillies. For starters, even though Michael Young is approaching 40…he is still capable of putting up huge numbers and I could see him in the middle of Utley and Howard. Secondly, they will hopefully have a healthy Halladay and even though the win/loss category did not show it, Cliff Lee was awesome down the stretch and started to look like the Lee we are used to. And what can we say about Cole Hammels, he has improved every year and he may be this teams true Ace. The Phillies will also get back a healthy Backstop Chooch. Chooch put up huge numbers last year as the team struggled on offense. Michael Young can easily hit 30-35 HR with 100 RBI. I also believe that Chase Utley and Ryan Howard will have stellar seasons. This team needed a shakeup. Ben Revere is not a power
Hitter, but he will thrive at Citizens Bank Park this year. So the Phillies definitely have a good team that will contend for the playoffs and possibly another World Series. They have one of the better bullpens and closer in Baseball so the key will be a healthy Halladay, Lee, and Hammels. John Lannan, and Tyler Cloyd will round out the rotation. It will be good to have more lefties on the staff. This team will contend and we as Phillies fans can only hope that Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins can have productive seasons. One may say there are too many what ifs…but these are all definitely possible. Stay tuned its coming fast.

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