30 Teams in 30 Days – New York Yankees

The Dark Lord New York Yankees, they’re one of the most hated teams in all of baseball. Most of the reason for this is because, I hate to say it, but they’re good. People will argue that it’s because they have the highest payroll, but if they didn’t win, I doubt anyone would complain. Let’s see how they did in 2011.
New York Yankees
Record: 97-65
Finished: 1st in the AL East
Playoffs: Eliminated in ALDS by the Tigers
Top Pitcher: C.C. Sabbathia 19-8, 3.00 ERA, 230 SO
Top Hitter: Curtis Granderson .262 AVG, 41 HR, 119 RBI
Manager: Joe Girardi
Important Off-season acquisitions: Jayson Nix, Dewayne Wise, Michael Pineda, Hiroki Kuroda, Russel Branyan, Bill Hall, Raul Ibanez, David Aardsma,
Important Off-season Losses: Jesus Montero SEA, Jorge Posada Retired, A.J Burnett PIT, Scott Proctor FA, Luis Ayala BAL, Bartoro Colon OAK, Damaso Marte FA, Sergio Mitre FA, Hector Noesi SEA

After being in a battle all year with the Red Sox for the AL East Title, the Yankees won the battle after a September collapse by the Red Sox. So, for a lot of teams in the MLB, it would be considered a successful season, but when it comes to the Yankees, success is measured by championships, and after being eliminated in the ALDS by the Tigers, that marked the 11th year that the Yankees have gone with just 1 championship (2009). Expectations are high for a reason, the Yankees have had the highest payroll in the league for a long time now. With the amount of money they spend on players, they should pretty much be given the World Series before the season even starts, but year after year they find a way not to win it. Their problem seems to be pretty consistent from year-to-year, starting pitching, it seems like every year people are talking about the Starters of the Yankees in a negative way. For good reason, however as of their 6 starters to start at least 14 games last season, 3 of them had an ERA of 4.00 or more, and 2 of those 3 had an ERA of 5.00 or more, for a team spending 200 MIL+/yr, it needs to be better. However, they’re rotation has promise this year, despite losing Burnett and Colon, they’ve added Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda, who posted a 3.07 ERA last year, got very little offensive support, playing on the Dodgers, however, this year, he should get nothing but offensive support  playing with the always talented offensive unit of the New York Yankees. Meanwhile, Michael Pineda showed great promise in his rookie campaign with the Mariners last year, posting a 3.74 ERA, to go along with a whopping 9.1 Strikeouts per nine innings, after showing off his great changeup in spring training, he’s already got Yankee nation in a buzz. Those two will be added in to the rotation along with consistent Cy Young candidate and one-time winner, C.C Sabathia and Ivan Nova, who’s coming off a stellar rookie campaign, finishing with a 16-4 record. The fifth spot seems to be between Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes, Garcia pitched pretty well for the Yanks last year, going 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA. While Hughes pitched terribly in an injury-filled season . That being said, Hughes is still young (25), with lots of potential, he also had a pretty good year for the pinstripes in 2010, going 18-8. So the job will ultimately be decided in Spring Training. The Yankees bullpen has lost a couple key pieces, which the signing of Hideki Okajima was supposed to resolve, but after a failed physical due to an undisclosed injury, the Yankees released him, 6 days later they signed David Aardsma, who isn’t a terrible consolation prize, yet their bullpen will still be worse than last year. The lineup, despite being a bit on the older side, will still be deadly, especially with the signing of probable DH, Raul Ibanez, and a few very good veteran acquisitions for their bench in Bill Hall, Russel Branyan, Dewayne Wise and Jayson Nix, with these signins, the Yankees can really cement themselves as the best offensive team in the league. With their big improvement to their Starting Pitching, their small improvement to their offense and a slight decline to their bullpen, I see the Yankees taking the AL East once again, but they’re going to have to do better than 6-12 against the Red Sox this time around.
Prediction
Record: 99-63
Finish: 1st in AL East
Playoffs: Eliminated in ALCS
Top Pitcher: C.C Sabathia 22-7, 2.91 ERA, 236 SO
Top Hitter: Robinson Cano .309 AVG, 31 HR, 129 RBI
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-Kipling Ronald & Vernon Smells

Are Headshots in Hockey Killing the Game?

Max Pacioretty with the hit on Letang which brought him a 3-game suspension

If a team could be made up of all the players who have been out this season or are out with concussions right now, there would be little doubt that they would be serious contenders for sports’ greatest prize, the Stanley Cup. So far this season the players that have been out with concussions; which include the best player in the National Hockey League, Sydney Crosby, the leader in points (at the time, when he was concussed) Claude Giroux, and the leader in goals (at the time, when he was concussed) Milan Michalek.

Concussions are becoming an epidemic in the NHL. The main reason for all these concussions is too many headshots which are obviously illegal. What really grinds my gears is the inconsistency in disciplinary actions towards players who commit the crime. This is undoubtedly a cause for concern. Both the players and refs are getting confused because they don’t know what’s right or wrong anymore.

Infractions that appeared similar in intensity and motive are receiving different disciplinary responses. That is just unacceptable. Some players with a history of dirty play appear to be suffering worse consequences than others. For example: On December 9th, the Edmonton Oilers’ defenseman Andy Sutton got an 8-game suspension and a fine of $200,000 for a dirty hit on the Carolina Hurricanes’ left winger, Alexei Ponikarovsky. Although it appeared deliberate, and it was a headshot, that punishment was way too extreme. Sutton likely got this massive punishment because of his tough guy reputation. However, on October 1st, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s left winger, Ryan Malone absolutely demolished the Habs’ defenseman, Chris Campoli with a headshot. It looked just as nasty as the one dished out by Sutton but there was no suspension, no major penalty and not even a minor penalty. In these two similar instances, giving Sutton 8 games and a fine for $200,000 and letting Ryan Malone off the hook is an absolute joke.

The NHL and its Senior Vice President of Player Safety, Brendan Shanahan need to protect its players better. End of story. There’s too much grey area and too much inconsistency with these calls. The intent for reducing headshots in the NHL is good but the league has to make the disciplinary measures more black and white for the refs. We realize this isn’t an exact science as to what hits are acceptable and what hits deserve suspensions but the league has to get its act together regarding its disciplinary practices. This may take some time but hopefully they will get it right and ultimately we will see a dramatic reduction in headshots in the future.