Category Archives: Baseball

Blue Devil Baseball Sweeps Weekend Series

by Kyle Flynn

The Central Connecticut State University men’s baseball team, came into this weekends series against Mount Saint Mary’s with a record of 16-13.

Mount Saint Mary’s, who sat at 4-22 coming into this series, got behind pretty early to starting pitcher Brendan Smith, and the rest of the Blue Devils. TT Bowens opened things up with an RBI single in the first inning and the flood gates opened from there.

The Blue Devils would go on to score six more runs before Mount scored their first run of the game. Bowens finished the game with three hits in five at bats, with three RBIs. He was the major catalyst in the Blue Devils series opener, which they finished with a 7-2 victory.

The second game of the series had a completely reverse script to it. Mount Saint Mary’s led the game 5-2 going into the latter stages of the game. Bowens, Kanios, and Mahers, all had huge plate appearances in the last three innings of the game, and all three of the batters knocked in huge runs to give Central the lead and eventually the win.

The Blue Devils rallied to score five more runs after trailing 5-2 and won the contest 7-5. Freshman Chris Kanios led the way with two hits in four at bats, along with an RBI and two runs scored. Dylan Maher finished the game with three RBI’s, including the two that gave Central the lead in the top of the 9th inning.

The final game of the series came on Saturday, and the Blue Devils brought their best, and in return got one of their best offensive outings of the season. Ryan Costello started the game off with a solo home run to right field, followed by an RBI double by Mitch Guillmette, scoring TT Bowens to give Central an early 2-0 lead.

Mount Saint Mary’s got two of their three total runs in fourth inning of the game to tie it up at two a piece. That was the last hope that Mount had at winning a game in this series. In the fifth inning CCSU took the lead back 3-2, but in the sixth inning the offense started to soar. An RBI single by Dean Lockery started what would become a seven run inning for the Blue Devils.

Each team added another run for their team’s in the final three innings of the game, and Central would win the game 11-3, and sweep the weekend series to give themselves three important NEC  wins.
The Blue Devil baseball team now holds a record of 19-13 during the 2017 season, giving them the best overall record in the conference. Although Bryant is in first place in the NEC with a 6-1 record, they are just 12-18 overall. Central is right behind the Bulldogs, in second place with a conference record of 9-3.

CCSU has a big four-game home series against the Bryant Bulldogs upcoming from April 21-23, as the Blue Devils look to take sole possession of the first place spot in the NEC  heading into the second half of the season.

Guilmette’s Walk Off in Extra Innings Stuns Binghamton

Blue Devils celebrating Mitch Guilmette’s walk-off

by Dillon Meehan

With the score tied 1-1 against Binghamton in the bottom of the 10th inning with two outs and runners on first and second, Central Connecticut State University brought on junior Mitch Guilmette to pinch-hit for freshman TT Bowens.

Guilmette hit a line drive into center field and Franklin Jennings rounded third and beat the throw home to score the game-winning run.

The Blue Devils (12-11, 4-2 NEC) 2-1 win saw them split the Sunday doubleheader against Binghamton (9-5, 1-0 AEC) after losing the first game 3-0.

“We’ve struggled again offensively to be productive, but at the end of the day, if you get a split then we’re treading water. We’re still waiting for some guys to get healthy on pitching side and we have to continue to be creative offensively,” said Blue Devils head coach Charlie Hickey after the game.

The Blue Devils only scored two runs, despite getting 10 hits on the day. Not being able to capitalize with runners in scoring position has become a trend for CCSU this season.

“When you score two runs and you’re able to walk away with a win, you’re fortunate,” Hickey said of his team’s hard-fought victory.

Despite the win, Hickey made sure to mention that his team still can improve if they hope to have post-season success.

“Obviously when you get a pinch-hit single to win the ballgame, everybody feels better about themselves. But we’ve got to remember the deficiencies that we have to continue to improve on,” said Hickey.

After having consecutive losing seasons, a first for the Blue Devils under Hickey, it appears as though the team full of seasoned players is beginning to mature.

“Now we’ve got some guys who’ve been playing this game for a couple of years at this level so they have to be mature. This is going to happen in our conference where we’re going to have to play the doubleheaders. So you get stuffed a little in that first game and you have to find a way to rip and claw to win,” said Hickey of his team’s ability to respond.

Doubleheaders are common in conference play so if the Blue Devils can show that they are able to hold their own in early April, it is a promising sign for the rest of their 2017 campaign.

“We’re gonna face this some more and a win like today helps, and that’s where our experience and confidence continues to grow,” said Hickey of his team’s improvement.

Cody Brown Expected to Be Out For Season With Elbow Injury

by Dillon Meehan

Central Connecticut Sate University’s starting pitcher Cody Brown, is expected to miss the remainder of the season with an elbow injury.

It is currently unconfirmed if it is a torn UCL, which would require a second Tommy John surgery in as many years for Brown. But, it has been confirmed that he visited a doctor, yet an MRI has not yet been scheduled.

Despite the Blue Devils injury problems to their pitching staff, they have a 12-11 record and a 4-2 record.

The injury happened in the bottom of the 8th inning, during the Blue Devils 2-1 win against Sacred Heart on March 26. Brown threw an errant pitch, and immediately walked off the mound towards the dugout and dropped his right arm. A telltale sign of an elbow injury.

“Usually when you throw a pitch like that and come off the mound, It usually isn’t good news,” said Blue Devils head coach Charlie Hickey. “For a kid who’s been through a lot, it’s tough. You get glimpses of him and realize how special he has been, and you hope that you can allow him a chance to feel that again.”

Following the game against Sacred Heart, Hickey was cautiously optimistic about Brown being able to return. However, that optimism has since dissipated.

“He’s still the same kid, and he’s still gonna be part of this team and a leader on this team. He’s at every practice and he does what he can do to help his teammates. That’ll be something I always will remember from coaching him.” Hickey said. “Unfortunately, the injury is a part of baseball and having it down twice, there isn’t really a success rate for that.”

The injury will likely end Brown’s career as a Blue Devil, as it has been a rough couple of years. After a promising start to his career as a Blue Devil, Brown missed all of the 2014 season due to a battle with cancer. After making a return in 2015, Brown then tore his UCL in his fifth appearance of the season, and was forced to miss the rest of the 2015 and all of the 2016 season to recover from surgery.

After consecutive losing seasons for the first time under Charlie Hickey, the Blue Devils appear to be having a bounce-back year.

“He’s a great kid, with a positive attitude towards baseball and life. You feel for him, for all the work and time that he’s put in to get back out here and compete,” Hickey said of Brown’s commitment to return.

During Brown’s freshman year back in 2012, Brown started in all 11 games he appeared in, with a record of six wins and four loses. Brown also led the team with two complete games.

The following year, Brown started in all 12 games he made an appearance in, with a record of six wins and five loses. He was second on the team with four complete games and led the team with 44 strikeouts.

In his brief 2015 season, he had a record of two wins and zero loses in five appearances. It was capped off by earning the NEC Pitcher of the Week honors after a seven inning, 15 strikeout performance against Virginia Military Institute.

Blue Devil Comeback Halted by Uconn

by Dillon Meehan

In the bottom of the eight inning, Central Connecticut was trailing the Uconn Huskies 5-2, as Chandler Debrosse and Dean Lockery were sitting on first and second.  Ryan Costello stepped up to the plate and blasted a homerun into deep right-center field, tying the game up at 5-5.

However, in the following inning Uconn would retake the lead, after Isaac Feldstein singled in two runs with the bases loaded to make it 7-5.  In the bottom of the ninth, the Blue Devils simply couldn’t respond.

“We give them an extra out and got caught in the middle of the order and we payed for it,” said CCSU head coach Charlie Hickey after the game.

The close loss to their in-state rival snapped the Blue Devils (10-10, 4-2 NEC) three game winning streak.

Patrick Mitchell started the game for the Blue Devils. The sophomore pitcher played well, allowing only one hit before being pulled after two innings.

“With some injuries in our pitching staff at the front end, it makes us protect the pictures in the middle of the week a little bit more,” said Hickey on his decision to pull Mitchell early.

Austin Salnitis came in for relief in the top of the third. However, the junior struggled in his lone appearance this season, giving up three hits and allowing two runs before being pulled without recording an out.

Arik Sypher came on in relief of Salnitis but struggled at first, walking the first batter he faced in four pitches.

Ron Jackson was the next at bat, making a diving catch at first base and fired over to Dean Lockery at second for the force out.  Lockery then threw home and beat the runner at the plate, but Nick Garland dropped the ball when attempting to tag the runner who scored safely. Instead of completing a rare triple play, the Blue Devils were now down 3-0.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Blue Devils had bases loaded with Lockery up to bat. Lockery swung on the second pitch he saw and drilled a line drive into right field, scoring two.

With the Blue Devils down 3-2, they tried to get creative to bring home the game tying run.

Dean Lockery took off to steal second, hoping to force Uconn into making an error to score the runner from third. But it backfired; instead of getting in a run down at second, the Uconn infielder threw over to third and tagged out Tyler Coleman.

“It was a sign, it’s not one of my favorite plays. It works in little league, but it doesn’t work at this level. The batter has an 0-2 count, you’re hoping that with some young infielders that they have that they’re gonna throw the ball around a bit. More often than not, at this level it doesn’t work. It’s not something I’m a fan of. If you’re better at the plate you don’t try one of those plays,” Hickey said of his decision.

The Huskies grabbed some insurance runs in the top of the seventh when Wily Yahn hit a sacrifice fly ball into deep center field, expanding the lead to 4-2. A few plays later, Zac Susi hit a double down the right field line, scoring the runner from second base to make it 5-2.

CCSU had 11 hits, which was capped off by Garland getting three hits in five at-bats.  Costello had three RBIs, thanks to his homerun while Lockery added another pair.

The Blue Devils left 13 runners on base, which was the main reason for their offensive struggles.

Nick Landell Get’s a Shot at Summer Baseball

by Nella Lastrina

While sitting in his public relations class, Nick Landell felt his phone vibrate from his pants pocket. Immediately, he stood up and walked to the hallway as everyone including the professor watched. When he answered it was the call he had been waiting for.

“My coach helped me find a collegiate team in Arizona and I was expecting a call back from the general manager,” said Landell. “Even though I knew I was getting the phone call I was still a little nervous, and I would answer my phone to every number that called even if it was a telemarketer.”

That afternoon, Landell got the news he was waiting for; he was one of the 35 men accepted into the Arizona Collegiate Wood Bat League.

“Most college baseball players play in collegiate summer leagues,” said Landell. “It was such a great feeling knowing I was officially in the league”

In the summer, many college baseball players join collegiate summer baseball teams. These programs run throughout the summer beginning early June, and operating until early August. Landell’s league is known for using wooden baseball bats thus the name “Wood Bat League”.

The process of joining is rather effortless for the student athletes. In order to find a collegiate team, Landell was scouted by the general manager for the Gila Monsters. Typically, college coaches speak with potential teams’ general managers to set up a summer league for their players.

Being nearly 3,000 miles away from home, Landell was provided transportation to practice, road games and a place to stay free of cost, but was not given a stipend for food or groceries. Instead, the 22 year-old worked online for an SAT and ACT company to design smart documents.

“I created smart documents that are basically like electronic practice ACT or SAT tests for tutors to use overseas,” said Landell.

In fact, Landell held this job throughout his college career. He made his own schedule that worked for him so he could work around school, practices and games.

“This job was perfect for me because I practice for about 2-3 hours every day, have classes for about 3-5 hours Monday through Thursday, and during the season I have baseball games,” said Landell. “Since there isn’t a set time for baseball games, they can last a long time, and not all employers can work with that kind of schedule.”

Before working for the SAT and ACT company, Landell worked at Baseball City in Hartford training people of all ages in an indoor facility.

Raised in Higganum, Connecticut with his brother Steve, Landell grew up in a sports oriented family.

“My brother and I were always playing sports growing up, and eventually both of us ended up focusing on baseball,” said Landell.

At 5 years-old, Landell began playing t-ball with his brother and quickly found his passion.

“I loved the game and just kept playing it,” said Landell.

Almost every day he would grab his bat and head outside (and sometimes even inside) to play ball. Since Landell’s brother was four years older, he began playing on a team leaving Landell to want to be like his older brother.

“Besides practicing in our backyard and at the playground, my brother and I never got to play together because we were in different age groups,” said Landell.

Growing up, Landell attended Haddam-Killingworth High school, University of Connecticut Avery Point, and now he is currently finishing up his senior year at Central Connecticut State University.

“I wanted to play Division I baseball, and CCSU provided me with a good opportunity to do that,” said Landell when asked why he chose Central.

At Haddam-Killingworth High School, Landell was named All-Conference in his senior year and at UConn of Avery Point, the then sophomore was named Defensive Player of the Year.

With dreams of one day playing profession baseball in the Major League Baseball (MLB), Landell pushes his limits to fulfill his dreams, but he understands that sometimes things do not work out the way people want. He is pursuing a major in communication, with an emphasis in public relations and marketing and a minor in business.

“If I don’t get to play in the MLB, my second best option is working in marketing for a professional sports organization,” said Landell. “That way I will still be working in a field I’m passionate about, and I don’t think I can ever get sick of that.”

 

The Curse Is Over!

 

by Kimberly Pena

One of the greatest post seasons that this generation will ever see has come to an end and the conclusion was nothing short of incredible. The Chicago Cubs ended America’s longest championship drought with their first World Series win in 108 years. They ended their magical season in dramatic fashion by roaring back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Cleveland Indians in a nerve-wracking Game Seven.

“Game Seven,” for many sports fans, is one of the most anticipated and greatest words ever spoken in sports. All hands are on deck and every rule in the book is off the table. Both managers will do everything in their power to assure victory, even if it means that they have to make bizarre decisions that they would never make in the regular season. That is how pivotal Game Seven is: winner takes all.

Game Seven was filled with that and more. The game began with a bang as Dexter Fowler became the first player in MLB history to hit a lead-off home run to begin a Game Seven. Later on the game, Cubs manager Joe Maddon made a questionable move in the fifth inning when he removed pitcher Kyle Hendricks from the game after a harmless two-out walk. Prior to the walk, Hendricks was absolutely dominating the Indian’s offense and had an 5-1 cushion. With the new pitcher in, John Lester was a bit erratic and threw a wild pitch, which led to two runs across the board. One of those runners got on from an infield hit against Lester, cutting the lead to 5-3.

The Cubs would eventually get one of those runs back by a home run from the veteran catcher David Ross. The game was really beginning at that point. In the eighth inning, with two outs and a runner on base, Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman came in the game to get the final out of the inning. However, an obvious fatigue, Chapman was not able to get the job done as he allowed a dramatic game tying two-run home run from the bat of Indians’s outfielder Rajai Davis, tying the game 6-6.

The game remained tied heading into the 10th inning. But before the inning began, there was a 17-minute rain delay, allowing the Cubs to recompose themselves after the momentum swung to the side of the Indians. During the delay, Jason Heyward gave a pep-talk to the Cubs, reminding them of who they are.

“I had to let them know that we had 103 wins because we had overcome every bit of adversity that we’ve had thrown at us to this point,” said Heyward to reporters. “We needed 114 wins, and I told them, everybody in this room could go out and get this 114th. It was a venting thing for me, letting these guys know to keep that fire.”

His talk did seem to resonate as the team would take a 7-6 lead in the top of the 10th from the bat of the eventual World Series MVP Ben Zobrist. Miguel Montero would tack on an insurance run and the eventual game-winning run.

With one out away from World Series galore, Mike Montgomery pitching with a one-run lead allowed a weak ground ball to third baseman Kris Bryant, who threw across the infield to first baseman Anthony Rizzo, sealing the team’s first ever World Series championship in over a century. Something that 108 different Cubs’s teams were not able to accomplish, this 2016 group was able to do. The city of Chicago jolted of excitement and had the party of a century, uniting the city once again.

“Just blow for blow, everybody playing their heart out,” said MVP Zobrist. “The Indians never gave up either, and I can’t believe we’re finally standing, after 108 years, finally able to hoist the trophy.”

The series was highlighted by bullpen dominance and sub par hitting with runners in scoring position. Both teams depended heavily on their bullpens as neither team’s starter were able to pitch past the sixth inning. Left handed pitcher Andrew Miller was Cleveland’s secret weapon; meanwhile, flame thrower Aroldis Chapman was the Cubs.  Both pitchers threw a combination of 15 and 1/3 of an inning with each pitcher throwing seven and 2/3 of an inning.

The organization is hoping with this monkey off their back, the team can hold up to this caliber of excellence and potentially create a dynasty. With the youth and strong talent that the team has, it is not something too big to dream of for the Chicago hopefuls. With the World Series loss, the Cleveland Indians became the new team with the longest drought without a World Series championship (68 years).

With their present looking just perfect, the Chicago Cubs cannot look anywhere but up. The curse is over, the drought is done with and the Chicago Cubs are the World Series Champions.

New Baseball Team May not Actually Help The New Britain Economy

 

by Kimberly Pena 

NEW BRITAIN- Mayor Erin Stewart is hoping with the new baseball team in town, it will revitalize the city once again. However, economical experts seem to believe the New Britain Bees will not cause an economic boom as hoped for.

Donn M. Johnson, a Interim Chair of Economics and a professor of Sports Economics at Quinnipiac University, suggests that bringing a new team to a town does little to none economical improvement.

According to Johnson, if the people who are going to the games are largely local then it is just arranging the way town citizens use their money. For example, the eight dollars used to buy a game ticket could instead be used to buy a small pizza from a local business owner. The only thing being changed is where the eight dollars are being spent.

“Benefits are going largely to owners, not really to the community,” said Johnson. “Not much will change within the town.”

If those attending the games are out of town, then it probably could lead to some potential change to the New Britain economy. However, minor league teams affiliated with Major League baseball usually do not attract many out of town citizens to the games, so for the situation to be any different for an Atlantic League Baseball team, who are not associated with Major League baseball, seems unlikely, said Johnson.

Mayor Erin Stewart seems to think otherwise. She believes bringing in the new team would continue on New Britain’s strong legacy of baseball.

“Every year, minor league baseball draws hundreds of thousands of residents, families, and visitors to the games at New Britain stadium,” said Stewart. “I wanted to make sure that tradition continues.”

The moves came after the Yard Goats, formerly known as the Rock Cats, announced on June 2014 that they would be relocating themselves to Hartford. The team left behind unpaid utility bills of up to $150,000.

According to the Hartford Courant, the team has not reimbursed the town for the gas, electricity, water and sewer bills it used up in its final season in New Britain. The bills due are as followed: $80,582.62 to Eversource, $47,907.37 to TransCanada, $8,635.85 to Connecticut Natural Gas and $12,245.37 for water and sewer use.

Yard Goats officials said they will keep their end of the deal and pay the bills out in the upcoming four months.

With the Rock Cats already behind her, Stewart plans to use the Bees as a way to fill the void that the Rock Cats left.

The lease that the town negotiated with the team officials was approved just last year. The organization will pay $150,000 a year in rent, pay all the electricity and utility bills and the team will receive all the parking revenue.

Under the terms, the team is guaranteed to stay in their new home for the next 20 years.

The agreement comes with great pleasure to New Britain Bees General Manager, Patrick Day, who was named team GM just last December. He appreciates the baseball history that New Britain offers and believes that the Bees are a perfect fit.

“Its history that New Britain has had, its always been a successful market,” said Day.
Day also said the team currently has 12 full-time employees in the front office and when the summers comes along, up to 200 part-time workers could be employed.

However, according to Johnson, these are not the type of jobs one would like to have for their town to improve the economy. He says usually those who take on those part-time jobs are young people and students who know it is not a lifetime employment and are willing to be paid minimum wage.

“No one is getting rich from this,” said Johnson.

But team officials are happy the way the town citizens have responded and are looking forward to the beginning of this new journey.

The team is already off to a positive start in ticket sales, as they have sold close to 500 full season tickets, says Day. A full season ticket is worth $500 and a single game ticket is worth eight dollars. Parking costs five dollars.

For further information, email info@nbbees.com, call 860-826-BEES (2337), or visit nbbees.com.

Tebow Signs Deal with Mets

by Tyler Roaix

Tim Tebow just cant seem to find a sport that suites him. He made his triumphant return to the sports world on September when he signed a deal with, none other than, the New York Mets. The minor league deal means Tebow will make his professional baseball debut in the Instructional League on Sept. 19th, in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

The Mets have come out and said this had nothing to do with publicity. “While I and the organization, I think, are mindful of the novel nature of this situation, this decision was strictly driven be baseball,” said Sandy Alderson, general manager of the Mets. “This was not something driven by marketing considerations or anything of the sort. We are extremely intrigued with the  potential that Tim has. He has demonstrated over his athletic career that he is a tremendous athlete, has a great character, a competitive spirit.”

Tebow himself has tried to downplay the publicity of the deal.

“I would consider success giving everything I have,” Tebow said. “I would consider success putting in the work and looking back on this opportunity and this journey 10, 15, 20 years from now and saying that I gave everything I had, I did everything I could do to be the best that I could be. I don’t necessarily view success or failure as how many rings or championships or promotions you get.”

Truth be told, it’s hard to me to sit here and buy into anything Tebow, Alderson and the Mets are actually selling. First off, Tim Tebow has played organized baseball since his junior year of high school in 2005.

No professional franchise, in any sport, would ever in their right mind offer a contract to someone who hasn’t actually played the sport in over a decade.

Maybe if they knew they were going to make money. The former Heisman trophy winner’s contract includes a $100,000 signing bonus, which is at least 10 times the amount a real prospect actually gets. If I am Alderson and the Mets, it would be easy to think the promotional benefits alone will quickly make up for whatever they pay him.

Tebow is, in fact, one of the most famous athletes in recent memory. Along with the Heisman, Tebow won two national championships at Florida. His NFL career was not as successful, but wherever he went fans followed. Tebow is also famous for his role at ESPN, as a college football analyst.

That leads into what might be the most ridiculous part of this contract. Tebow’s responsibilities at ESPN will not be affected at all by his baseball career because, the contract allows him to take a couple days off every week to take his seat at the analysts desk.

This part of the deal resulted in a lot of backlash from the sports world. Many players feel as though if Tebow was fully committed to a career in baseball, he would leave ESPN so he could focus 100 percent on baseball. Former pitcher Dallas Braden has been one of those to speak out against the deal.

“Wonder how the kid who doesn’t get to go to instructs feels about Tebow breaking down a defense as opposed to taking hacks or fly balls,” said Braden.

It is still up in the air as to what Tebow’s future looks like in baseball. The Mets may send him to the Arizona Fall League or a winter league, if they feel as though he is ready.

But the only way that I really understood any part of this deal is the fact that it is the Mets simply trying to bring in attention and, in turn, revenue. If I’m a Mets player or fan, I’m taking a hard look at the team and questioning just what on Earth they are doing.

 

The New York Yankees Forcing Themselves into the Playoff Picture

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by Kimberly Pena

When you see the Yankees as of late compared to earlier in this season, it is like night and day. The Yankees began the season with an 8-14 record and for most of the season couldn’t maintain themselves over .500. In the month of August, there was a huge change in the Yankees level of play as they went on to a 17-11 record, their best month to date.

At the All Star break, the Yankees were at 44-44, 7.5 games out of first place and 5.5 out of the Wild Card race. The Yankees as of September 11 face their smallest deficit as they sit four games out of first place and two games out of the postseason berth.

With 17 of their last 18 games against teams from the American League East, as the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox are also in the playoff mix, the Bronx Bombers have the pen to their own script right in front of them.

The Yankees recently swept, at the time, the first place Blue Jays to give notice to the teams in front of them that the Yankees are not going down without a fight.

Manager Joe Girardi claims to have never given up on the season even after the front office traded All Star players like Carlos Beltran, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman in the non-waiver trade deadline and the release of Alex Rodriguez in August.

“I told you we expected to win from day one,” Manager Girardi said. “Everything is in front of us. Would I like to be 15 games up? Yeah. But, hey, we have a shot and in this game that’s what you look forward to.”

A month ago it didn’t look like the Yankees had a shot. Baseball analysts counted the team out, believing it was nearly impossible for the team to make a run and that the organization should think about next season.

It seemed as if the Yankees were going to take that route when in August they called up minor league players Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge to give Yankee fans a taste of what the future would like in New York. But the move actually seemed to revitalize the team and their season.

Sanchez, now the Yankees regular catcher, had a torrid start to his MLB career. In his first 23 games, Sanchez hit for a .400 average, smashed 11 home runs and 21 runs batted in. Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge were the first rookie duo in MLB history to hit back-to-back home runs in their MLB debuts. The Baby Bronx Bombers gave the Yankees the energy they needed to make a push to the playoffs and play their best baseball of the season.

The Yankees before them seem to agree. Closer Dellin Betances can sense the new feel in the clubhouse and is enjoying every second of it.

“These young guys keep doing it,” says Betances. “These young guys are bringing all the energy and the other guys are feeding off of them. You know obviously we are just trying to win as many ballgames as we can. We are playing fun baseball and hopefully we can continue to do this.”

Although the road has been bumpy, the Yankees have come back all the way from the dead to let the baseball world know that they are alive and well. Like one of the Yankees greats, Yogi Berra said, ”It ain’t over till it’s over.”

And that might be the case for this year’s New York Yankees.

The A-Rod I’ll Remember

 

by Kimberly Pena & Tyler Roaix

In 1994, an 18-year-old kid from Miami named Alex Rodriguez broke into spring camp with the Seattle Mariners in an attempt to make the team. Almost immediately after stepping onto a Major League Baseball field, he became a household name. Within two years, he was an All-Star; within five, a regular 40-homer player. By the turn of the century, many were already putting him into the Hall of Fame discussion.

On August 12, 2016, Rodriguez played his final game as a New York Yankee after an incredible 12 years in New York. Considering the 41-year-old’s lack of playing time and declining production after a resurgent effort in 2015, this may very well be the end of the A-Rod era entirely. For A-Rod, he was prepared to leave the game he fell in love with as a child.

“I do want to be remembered as someone who was madly in love with the game of baseball, someone who loves it at every level,” said Rodriguez. “Someone who loves to learn it, play it, teach it, coach it. And also, I’m going to be hopefully remembered as someone who tripped and fell a lot, but someone that kept getting up.”

Rodriguez has led a very controversial 22-year baseball career, his lowest moment being when he was infamously suspended for the entire 2014 season following the Biogenesis investigation — the longest suspension ever served in Major League Baseball history. But his story did not end there.

In his 2015 campaign, in an attempt to redeem himself and earn back the love from the fans of New York, A-Rod wrote his own Cinderella story. He smashed 33 home runs and had 86 runs batted in. He was the most consistent hitter for the Yankees all season long, helping the team reach the playoffs after a two-year-long absence. It seemed as though he knew that the theme of that season was his redemption, because that is exactly what he did. His incredible leadership and production seemed to make Yankees fans forget all of his wrongdoings, at least temporarily.

For each reason you list off as to why you loved him, it would be just as easy to throw out a reason on why you hated him. Alex Rodriguez was a great player, even one of the best ever, depending on who you ask. But no matter how many incredible stats he put up, his use of steroids will always question the legitimacy of his legacy in baseball.

Steroids were not the only instance where Rodriguez’s character was called into question. His wife divorced him in 2008 after he was seen entering a hotel room in Toronto with a stripper. During a game against the Blue Jays, he yelled “I got it,” while running by two Toronto players who were converging on a popup. Then, of course, the brawl of the century with former Red Sox’s catcher Jason Varitek. The list goes on and on.

But what will his lasting legacy be? For one of the most polarizing players in the history of sports, that is a very difficult question to answer. Will he be remembered for his unquestionable talent or for his lies?

It is funny to think about how different of an answer this would be if Rodriguez had not had a great season in 2015 after his year-long suspension.

From the perspective of a Yankees fan, it is hard not to respect just how good Alex Rodriguez was for the team. Since 2004, his first year with New York, A-Rod racked up 351 home runs and 1096 RBIs. Highlighted by two MVP Awards, Rodriguez has been nothing short of outstanding in terms of on the field play while wearing pinstripes.

That’s why for me, the story of Alex Rodriguez will always be that of untaught talent over the lies and the cheating. To put it simple, Alex Rodriguez is one of the most gifted baseball players we will ever see. It is very rare when a player comes along and can single-handedly change the way we think about a certain sport. Alex Rodriguez was that guy.

Rodriguez will always be in that dreaded category of players who maybe look like Hall-of-Famers on paper but cheated their way through the sport with the use of performance enhancing drugs. However, much like Barry Bonds, I would like to think that Rodriguez’s steroid use does not mask the fact that he was still incredibly talented on his own. It was obvious from the start that he was going to be someone special that you would never see again.

I will always think of Alex Rodriguez as the man who hit 696 career home runs — 18 homeruns shy of Babe Ruth’s home run record. The man who led the Yankees to the 2009 World Series championship, someone who loved the fans almost as much as he loved playing the game. That’s the Alex Rodriguez I will always remember.