Jeter & Rivera Make 2013 Debuts; Rivera to Retire

The baseball world spent most of Saturday focused on the New York Yankees; more specifically, on Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. Both played in their first official games since being injured last season–Jeter with a broken ankle, Rivera with a torn ACL–and, not all that shockingly, both had great Spring Training debuts. A good sign for the Yankees. mo113010--525x400

But the big news of the day wasn’t the debuts of two veteran Yankees, but rather the announcement by all time saves leader, Mariano Rivera, that the 2013 season would be his last.

“Now is the time”, stated the 43-year-old Rivera, in an early morning press conference. “I have given everything, and the time is almost ending. The thing that I have, the little gas I have left is everything for this year. After that, I’ll empty everything. There’s nothing left. I did everything, and I’m proud of it. That’s why it’s time.”

The time would have come at the end of the 2012 season, had Rivera not have suffered from a torn ACL. An injury which occurred while Rivera was shagging fly balls–his normal pregame routine–during batting practice in Kansas City. But, as expected, Rivera didn’t want to go out like that.

No, not Mariano Rivera. Wanting to go out on his own terms, he has far greater plans.

“The last game, I hope, will be throwing the last pitch in the World Series”, said Rivera. “That’s how I envision to be my last game of my last pitch on the mound. Winning the World Series, that would be my ambition.”

A great ambition indeed, but one that will be somewhat hard to pull off, in my opinion. As although I foresee the Yankees barely making the playoffs this year, with all of the injuries the team currently suffers, I’m not so sure they can make a deep playoff run.

For Mariano Rivera’s sake, I sure hope I’m wrong.

Having already broken a number of MLB records in his 18 seasons, all spent with the Yankees, the 12-time All-Star already has a resume to go out as one of the games’ greats, but a sixth World Series ring would obviously be icing on the cake.

It would truly make for a storybook ending to a storybook career.

TTM Autograph Requests Update # 2

Around a month ago, I blogged about the through the mail (TTM) autograph requests I was planning to send off to players during Spring Training. At the end of the post, I stated that I was going to be publishing a blog post every time I received back a couple autographs. Having received two more TTM autograph requests since my last update, I’ve now gotten back half of the requests I sent out, so I figured I’d post another update:

CASEY KELLY–PADRES ORGANIZATION

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Casey Kelly is currently ranked as the number 69 prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB.com. He would probably be higher had it of not been for an elbow injury he endured for most of last season. An injury that limited Kelly to just 14 games pitched; 6 of which came in the majors. In the 6 games pitched at the big league level, Kelly went 2-3, with a 6.21 ERA, but showed signs of his readiness to be a major league pitcher. If Kelly doesn’t begin the season with the Padres, it would be a real shame. He has the ability to be an impact player for an improving Padres team.

JASON MOTTE–ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

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Although the ink from the autograph smudged off a bit in the mail, I’m very happy to add Jason Motte’s autograph to my collection. Topping out at 100, and regularly hitting the upper 90’s, Motte’s overpowering fastball is what makes him one of the best closers in the game. Last season, Motte saved a total of 42 games for the Cardinals, recording 86 strikeouts in 72 innings pitched, on a 2.75 ERA. This season should see Motte posting more of the same type of stats as last year.

I still have autograph requests out for Mariano Rivera, Adam Jones, Tyler Skaggs, A.J. Pierzynski and Justin Masterson, so hopefully they’ll come back soon, so I can write about them; though there’s no guarantee they’ll come back at all.

2013 Final MLB Standings Predictions

We’re quickly approaching Opening Day, and so starts the predictions of where each team will finish in the coming year. Most of the time there’s always a team or two that comes along and completely throws off your predictions, but that’s what makes it fun. I’m going to be doing a seperate blog post on my predictions for how I feel each team will fare this season, in the next week or two, but for now I want to hear what you all think.

Cast your vote below for which team you feel is most likely to win each division in 2013:

The 2013 MLB regular season has begun, and the polls are now closed. Thanks for voting.

2013 Durham Bulls Fan Fest

About a year ago, I made the statement that I’d love to take batting practice and play catch on a professional baseball field, should the opportunity ever present itself. Little did I know that there was a way to make my wish a reality, as the local Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, the Durham Bulls, hold a fan fest twice a year, giving fans the chance to participate in both of the activities I was looking to take part in.

When I first learned that there was such a thing as fan fest, in October of last year, I already had a vacation planned with my family, so I unfortunately couldn’t attend. Therefore, when it was announced that they were holding another one in March, I made sure to mark the date on my calendar.

I wasn’t going to miss it this time around.

Accompanied by my dad, I arrived at fan fest at 12:30, right at an hour and a half after the gates first opened:

image2The line you see extending from the batting cage is (obviously) the line of fans waiting for their chance to hit.

With the line being so long (continuing further out of the frame in the picture above), we decided to go ahead and play catch first. So we made our way down the steps, and into the outfield:

image4All of the balls were being used when we first arrived–we weren’t told to bring our own, though I think most people did–however, a couple of kids were nice enough to let the both of us play catch with them, in a square formation, of sorts.

After the four of us played catch for around 30 minutes, the plan was to head to the batting cage, to take some hacks, but after watching a few people take their turn, it came to my attention that you only received five swings. Knowing that I would more than likely swing and miss on every pitch, I figured it wasn’t worth it. So after a stop in the Bulls’ dugout….

image6….I decided to take a trek around the outfield warning track:

image9Here’s what it looked like from straight away center field:

image8From where I was standing, it’s exactly 400 feet to home plate.

I continued my walk, ending up over by the blue monster….

image11….where I had my picture taken, just before my dad and I made our way out of the ballpark:

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I had a great time at Bulls fan fest. It’s something I’d recommend to anyone, if you’re ever in the area when they hold it. But then again, it’s hard not to have fun anytime baseball is involved.

All of the pictures were taken on my phone, so if they seem a bit blurry, that’s why.