Results tagged ‘ Albert Pujols ’

This is the Game That Never Ends

In case you missed it, Brandon Moss just hit his second home run of the game for the A’s tonight and walked off with a 10-8 victory. In the 19th inning. I’m not kidding. Here is the game-winner (embedded video coming soon):

The two teams combined for 18 runs, 31 hits, 597 pitches, and three starting pitchers.

That’s not a typo.

Among the crazier aspects to this game was the A’s original starter Brett Anderson throwing nearly six innings beginning around the 12th. He was scratched with a bum ankle, but ended up pitching almost enough for a quality start by the end.

The A’s lost Coco Crisp, Chris Young and Anderson to injuries before the game ended, and Angels catcher Chris Iannetta, incredibly enough, was behind the dish for every single one of the Angels’ 297 pitches tonight. There has to be some kind of rule that allows a catcher in a game like this to get a stool to squat on. My goodness.

Well, it’s 1:46 a.m. and yours truly needs to get to bed. But here’s a video of Mark Trumbo’s monster home run that traveled an estimated 475 feet…in the second inning. Over six hours ago.

Also, Josh Hamilton was given a sarcastic “Josh Hamilton Appreciation Night” by A’s fans, who did everything in their power to remind him of his error last season that helped Oakland clinch the AL West. He responded by going 0-for-8 in the game.

But the night belonged to Moss, who continues to prove everyone who passed on him wrong as he carries the A’s and shreds Angel pitching (now has four homers in four games vs. Anaheim). He topped everything off with a very short, out of breath, postgame interview in which he pied himself in the face for winning it.

And before I pass out on the keyboard, a special shout out to friend of the podcast @vdemske and her small crew of fans who stuck out the entire damn game tonight. That is true dedication.

Ok, goodnight now.

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook for all your 2013 MLB news!

Pick a GIF, Any GIF!

I just happened to notice that a wealth of brilliant GIF’s were produced over the last week or so of baseball. I’d like to take a few minutes of yours to ask: Which one is the best?

Use whichever parameters you see fit–hilarity, overall awesomeness, quality of GIF-making abilities–to judge the best GIF among the five I present below. Then make sure to vote in the poll. Thanks for playing, and keep tuning in for more baseball fun this season:

1. Yu Darvish “throws” all his pitches to Albert Pujols

Yu makes many good pitches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. An ump gets unwanted cup check

umpire nut shot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Michael Morse hits a no-doubter, pitcher says bad things

Morse homer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. A.J. Burnett doesn’t understand baseball

stupid burnett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. John Buck is a mean pie-thrower. Really mean.

buck hates people

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook for all your 2013 MLB news

The Top Five Hip-Hop Baseball References

MLB Network’s Bob Costas quoting Ludacris got me thinking, how connected are hip-hop music and the game of baseball.  Rappers are always wearing baseball jerseys and hats when they make appearances.  We’ve even seen many hip-hip artists like Common, Pitbull, Daddy Yankee, MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, Big Sean, and Snoop Dogg throw out first pitches at games.

What are the top baseball references in hip-hop songs?  Let’s take a look!

5) Lil’ Wayne-”Swag Surf”

Lil’ Wayne dropping a line to the former Red Sox all-star is all sorts of awesome.  I wonder if he’s been kickin’ it with Garciaparra’s wife Mia Hamm lately.

Lyrics: I ain’t promise tomorrow, Now women kick it with me like Nomar Garciaparra

Plus, who can forget Lil’ Wayne singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at AT&T Park.

4) Game (feat. Chris Brown)- “Pot of Gold”

It’s safe to say Game loves sports. In this song alone he makes references to LeBron James, the New Orleans Saints, and baseball MVP and current Angels slugger Albert Pujols

Lyrics:

As I sit back and watch

The ashes on my cigar fall

Wayne just came home and

Tip back on the yard dawg

Guess Pujols ain’t the only one playing hard ball

3) Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz- Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)

There’s no actual baseball lyrics in the song, but the entire video was shot in the former home of the Mets, Shea Stadium.  They do get deductions for trying to pass it off as Yankee Stadium in the beginning of because both of them are from the Bronx.

2) Nelly and St. Lunatics-”Batter Up” and Nelly (feat. Diddy & Murphy Lee) “Shake Ya Tailfeather”

It’s fair to say Nelly loves baseball.  He’s always inserting references into songs and loves his St. Louis Cardinals.  “Batter Up” is the most baseball-dedicated song in hip-hop complete with a music video that doubles as a baseball game.  While Nelly’s “Shake Ya Tailfeather” from the Bad Boys 2 soundtrack samples the Atlanta Braves chop song.

1) Jay-Z and the New York Yankees

Screen Shot 2013-04-03 at 12.43.37 PM

There’s not a hip-hop artist more synonymous with a baseball team as the Jigga Man and the Yankees.  He always is wearing a Yankees hat and even made Bronx Bombers superstar Robinson Cano his first client of the new Roc Nation agency this week.  You can check out the top five Jay-Z Yankees references here.  I’m going with the lyrics from mega-hit “Empire State of Mind” with Alicia Keys.

Lyrics:

Catch me at the X with OG at a Yankee game

I made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can

What are your favorite baseball references in hip-hop?  Let us know in the comments!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

The Mapes Top 20 Right Now, Part Two

Part one is in the books, if you’d like to check out who crack my list from 20-16 click here. There’s one Giant name on my list still that wasn’t on the MLB Network top 20.  Who is it?  Keep reading!

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 11.06.20 PM#15, Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers (MLB Network’s #11)

I really didn’t think I would have this much of a drop on one of the biggest sluggers in the game, but there are just other players I prefer slightly better.  He’s durable (13 games missed since 2006 and only one since 2009) and is the perfect hitter to give protection to another superstar.  Please note that he’s hit directly after an MVP in each of the past two seasons.  Would Braun and Cabrera have been the best in league without Fielder looming in the next spot?  I don’t think so.  He may never be an MVP himself, but Prince knows how to help bestow the crown.

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 11.12.42 PM#14, Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (MLB Network’s #10)

Another player with a four spot drop in my rankings, which is amazing considering Hamilton is coming off a career-high 43 homer season.  I’m concerned with the drop that Hamilton had in the 2nd half last season where his OPS dropped from an other-worldly 1.016 to .833 in the second half.  I think his numbers will take another dip going from Texas to Anaheim, where the park plays more in favor of the pitcher.  He’s ahead of Fielder for me because unlike Fielder I think Hamilton CAN win an MVP award when he has it all together.

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 11.21.46 PM#13, Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (MLB Network’s #14)

Hamilton had the great 1st half in 2012 and Pujols had the great 2nd half.  If both put together full seasons in 2013, the Angels lineup will be lethal.  I also think another year of adjustment to American League pitching will continue to help Pujols return to the MVP candidate he’s always been.  Pujols had his worst home run output last season and it was still good for 30 blasts.  Pujols has had at least 30 home runs AND 99 runs batted in in each of his twelve seasons.  The man truly is a machine.

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 11.32.57 PM#12, Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants (MLB Network #21)

How can the reigning MVP not be in the top 20 in the game right now?  He led the National League in batting average and OPS+ while playing in one of the best pitchers parks in the league.  Posey handled one of the best pitching staffs in the league and brought them to a World Series title.  He’s only going to get better as he’s another year removed from that devastating ankle injury.  He was underrated by MLB Network, not by me.

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 11.40.39 PM#11, Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers (MLB Network #13)

I don’t think there’s a player that does more quietly than Adrian Beltre.  I remember watching “MLB Player Poll” last season where they asked who the best third baseman in the game was and I was shocked that the players actually picked Beltre.  That’s the kind of respect he has from his peers and should get more of it from fans.  He’s blossomed into a complete player that can hit for average, hit for power, and can field his position better than anyone.  It’s up to Beltre to continue to improve to make up for Josh Hamilton’s departure from the Lone Star State.

That’ll do it for numbers 16-11.  Do I have Posey too high?  Who do you think should crack the top 10?  Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter with the link below and use #MapesRightNow.

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Grade That Trade! Mariners Finally Make a Move Edition

I won’t lie – I have a soft spot for the Mariners. That seems a bit strange because I live near Oakland and root for the A’s in my free time. Let me explain: I went to Washington State University and spent four years surrounded by sad, wandering M’s fans.

There’s that, and the fact that they have an awesome stadium, badass jerseys, and a slew of fan-favorite heroes (A-Rod, Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey, Jr., Edgar Martinez, Felix Hernandez, Ichiro, etc.). Anyway, it’s been disappointing to see GM Jack Zduriencik not really pull the trigger on any big moves in which Seattle was set up perfectly to do so.

The Mariners have a decently sized payroll, plenty of minor league depth, and a desperate need for hitters. Despite a lack of offensive punch, the Mariners managed to finish just a handful of games short of .500 in 2012, albeit still in fourth place.

With Hernandez leading the rotation, and a plethora of young pitching talent in Triple-A, the Mariners have the pieces to move to acquire a big bat. Today, this theory finally came to fruition. They went out and traded 14-game winner Jason Vargas to Anaheim for Kendrys Morales.

Let’s break this thing down:

Angels Get:

SP Jason Vargas

Mariners Get:

1B/DH Kendrys Morales

It’s hard to decide who wins this trade, but my gut tells me both teams come out pretty hot. The Angels, with the losses of Zack Greinke, Ervin Santana and Dan Haren this winter were in dire need of a pitching upgrade (and no, Joe Blanton doesn’t count). They made a nifty move in acquiring Tommy Hanson from Atlanta, but it wasn’t enough.

I’m not sure if you can say Vargas is the final piece they need, but it surely won’t hurt. This gives the Angels a pair of very good lefty starters in Vargas and C.J. Wilson to pair with Cy Young candidate Jered Weaver. We know Los Angeles added Josh Hamilton to the lineup, making Morales expendable.

But is it enough? Can the Angels improve on a 90-win ball club and return to A.L. West supremacy? Having Vargas in the third spot in that rotation will help them inch closer. And you have to expect a full season of Mike Trout, plus Hamilton, Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo, that they will be a better team.

For the Mariners, who are chasing the Angels (and everyone else for that matter) in the division, this should spell the end of the long-drawn out Justin Smoak experiment. Morales is an instant upgrade in all departments over Smoak, and will provide a good source of punch to the lineup.

With the emergence of Kyle Seager and a likely improvement next season from Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero, the Mariners could be a sneaky dangerous team in 2013. As long as the rotation can pick up the slack left by Vargas, I expect an improvement for Seattle, though I don’t think they are quite ready to be a contender yet.

That being said, Zduriencik knows he needs another bat or two, and may be chasing an Andre Ethier or Michael Bourn-type player as the winter evolves. If they can pair one more veteran power bat like Ethier’s, or a good top-of-the-order guy like Bourn, without giving up too much pitching, I see no reason why the Mariners can’t make like the 2012 A’s and take the league by surprise.

As for grading this trade, I’m giving a slightly higher mark to the Mariners, simply for going out and being aggressive in adding a bat to a flat lineup. They have pitching depth and are on the right track with getting some power in there with Morales and Jason Bay (well…you know…maybe). Mariners Grade: B+

The Angels got an underrated starting pitcher, but still haven’t made up for lost talent in the rotation. Not to mention, Morales was as good a hitter as they could ask for in that DH/1B slot. The offense did downgrade with the loss of Morales and Torii Hunter, even after the Hamilton signing. Overall, it’s a good move, but they better make a World Series run before 2014 when Vargas is a free agent or be prepared to shell out a pretty hefty extension. Angels Grade: B

 

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- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Derek Jeter and the 5 Players We Can’t Imagine in Another Jersey

Imagine my poor blood pressure this morning when I woke up to a headline like THIS today.

Something like what Derek Jeter is alluding to would be disastrous if it actually came to fruition. I’m no Yankee fan by any measure, but I truly respect Jeter and have looked up to him since I was a little kid. And I just can’t imagine him wearing anything besides the pinstripes.

None of that Joe Montana-to-the-Chiefs, desperate-to-keep-playing, end of the career crap from Jeter, please.

Sure, the unthinkable has been done before – Ken Griffey, Jr. moved to Cincinnati from Seattle even though he looked like a super hero in the silver and teal. Heck, we had one happen this past off-season when Albert Pujols jumped ship to Anaheim, despite looking so damn good in Cardinal red.

But the super fan in me would like to keep that kind of olé B.S. to a minimum. I don’t know what it is…the players themselves, the jersey/color combo of the teams they represent, or just the nostalgia of a childhood long-gone (okay, I’m not that old), but I identify Jeter and the rest of this list as players who I could never, ever see in a different jersey:

*Disclaimer: Mariano Rivera and Chipper Jones not included because they are guaranteed to stay a Yankee and Brave, respectively, for the remainder of their Hall of Fame careers*

1. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

Let’s start with the Captain himself. Jeter has played all 18 seasons as the shortstop of the Yankees, number two plastered on his back. Needless to say, Mr. November will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the next great Yankee to have his number retired. There is no more iconic jersey in sports than those of the Yanks, and even imagining Jeter in an Angels, Cubs, Red Sox (god forbid) or any other jersey is painful.

2. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

I know he’s only been around a few years, but damn if Posey hasn’t made himself a celebrity in San Francisco at Usain Bolt-esque speed. There is no way the team will let this guy walk away as long as he’s physically able to play the game. It’s really hard to predict this early, but we could be seeing the next great “one-team” lifer in Posey, who should be representing that awful orange and black for another decade and a half.

3. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – if Mariners GM Jack Zdurineck trades Felix, he should not only be fired, but tarred, feathered and forced to watch Jack and Jill on loop. Hernandez is the King of Seattle and it should stay that way forever. I dig the silver and teal uni’s up there in the Pacific Northwest, and Hernandez wears it best. Plus, he wants to stay a Seattle Mariner. I’m sure Brian Cashman has visions, but I just can’t see this guy in Yankee garb.

4. Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies

When I say Rockies, you say Helton! “ROCKIES!” “HELTON!” Thank you. But seriously, Helton is about as synonymous with Colorado baseball as macaroni is with cheese. He’s played all 16 years of his career manning first base at Coors Field, and will most definitely have his number retired there whenever he hangs up the spikes. Todd Helton in anything but purple would be straight criminal.

5. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals

I know a few Cardinals fans who would actually sob uncontrollably if Yadi ever slips on another team’s jersey. And they should, because it would arguably be more devastating than the loss of Pujols to that devoted fan base. Whereas Pujols was the power and glam of the team, Molina is the heart, soul, lungs and kidney of the franchise. I know NL catchers have a short shelf life, but just trying to picture him as a Dodger or Phillie makes me want to elbow drop a baby penguin.

6. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

Last, but certainly not least, we have arguably the best all-around player in the National League. I don’t know what it is with him and that black and gold, but McCutchen just looks so right in a Pirates uniform. Maybe it’s the dreads, or the blindingly white smile, or the elegant physique over which the Pirates’ jersey falls. No matter, McCutchen can never go play for the Indians or Orioles or anyone else. He needs to be in Pittsburgh for life.

Honorable Mentions: Matt Kemp (Dodgers), Mike Trout (Angels), David Price (Rays)

Comment below if you think someone else should be considered for this list! And don’t forget to VOTE in the poll:

If you like what you see, you can follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Top 10 Story Lines of the 1st Half

I’m many things – among them, a journalist and a die-hard baseball fan. The journalist in me is a sucker for cool stories both read and told. The baseball fan in me is a sucker for…cool baseball related activities. Therefore, when the two are combined I’m just short of the giddiness level of a sorority girl seeing Magic Mike at midnight.

From rookies like Mike Trout making emphatic debuts, to veterans making inspiring comebacks, to underdogs atop the standings, the first half of 2012 has been chock full of epic story lines.

Here are my ten favorites, narrowed down from a seemingly infinite list:

10. Carlos Beltran Replaces Albert Pujols

Remember when Pujols signed with the Angels and everyone outside of St. Louis feared the baseball apocalypse was hitting the defending champs? Remember how weird it was to see Pujols in a different red jersey? Remember how bitterly satisfying it was to see him struggle terribly at the start of the season while Beltran put up huge numbers in his place for the Cardinals? I’m really looking forward to seeing if Beltran will finally get some love from the naysayers who told us he was over the hill last season. And to see if the suddenly red-hot Pujols will reach the 30-homer, .300 average, 100 RBI plateaus again, let alone outperform his replacement in St. Louis.

9. Former Dodgers Dominating

This is a personal one; part of me hates seeing Jonathan Broxton (Kansas City closer) and James McDonald (Pittsburgh ace) thriving in new cities. But like a proud father, I also beam when I see McDonald put up another quality start, or Broxton lock down another save. Both guys were necessary departures from L.A., but I enjoyed watching them play while they were here, even more now that they are gone. I’m rooting for these All-Star snubs to keep kickin’ butt and takin’ names this season.

8. Giancarlo Stanton Dents a Scoreboard

How rude. The Marlins spent all this money to build a beautiful, neon, psychedelic new stadium, and Stanton just up and smashes a hole in it. This is why he can’t have nice things. But really, is there any more exciting young player right now in the National League than Mapes’ boyfriend, Giancarlo? The dude has Vlad Guerrero bat speed, strength and reach, with more control. His manager Ozzie Guillen claims Stanton will kill someone with a baseball some day. And as grotesque as that is, I won’t be surprised when it happens. It’s a damn shame this kid isn’t in the Home Run Derby anymore.

7. Billy Hamilton has 100 Stolen Bases…Already

It’s okay if you read that and didn’t recognize the name. Well, it’s sort of okay. Because by now, you should know about the phenomenal base runner that is playing in the Reds’ minor league system. He has 104 steals through 82 games. And in his minor league career at all levels (329 games…in perspective: 2 full seasons and 2 playoff series), Hamilton has stolen 269 bases. He’s got super speed, obviously, but is also a very strong technical slider. Hamilton may be raw in other aspects of his game, but I can’t wait to see him get a shot at stealing a base in the big leagues!

6. Hamilton Hits Hordes of Homers

Different Hamilton this time. The one we all know and love. Forget the minor ailments and slumps that have caused his production to drop to only god-like levels, rather than titanic. Josh Hamilton continues to be the most intriguing overall story in baseball. He hit four homers in one game against the Orioles and had 18 through 36 games in 2012, prompting even the most skeptical fans to start mumbling about the possibility of 62. It would likely take a second epic homer binge to even approach Roger Maris, but I’m not putting it past this kid. By the way, no matter how cheesy the movie about him will be, I’m going at midnight.

5. Rookies Rocking 

This has to be one of the most talented, ridiculous rookie classes to ever make their debuts in the same season. And I love it. We’re talking about a legitimate MVP candidate in Mike Trout. The spark plug for a first-place Nationals team in Bryce Harper. The intimidating physical specimen that is Brett Lawrie. Ruben Tejada. Yu Darvish. Way-too-early NL Cy Young favorite Lance Lynn. Andrelton Simmons. Arizona’s only All-Star, Wade Miley. Most of the A’s roster. And many, many more. I can’t remember a crop of talent this widespread among rookies in a long time. Baseball fans should really be excited about the future of the sport.

4. Speaking of Rookies…Look Who’s Winning!

A theme among this story line is rookie production. I’m a big fan of the underdog story, no matter how cliché. So when I see the long-time doormat Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles either leading the division or the Wild Card at the midway point…I’m a happy camper. Even teams like the Oakland A’s (I picked them to lose 100 games this season – currently sitting at .500), and the New York Mets (picked them to finish last by a mile – currently four games back of first in the NL East) can thank rookies for where they stand now. I’m really excited to see if the aforementioned teams can keep up the momentum and make a run at the playoffs, or if they’ll fade down the stretch.

3. The Man, The Myth, The Legendary Knuckleball

How can you not love R.A. Dickey? I’m one of the millions of fans whose team has been victimized by Dickey’s unhittable knuckleball, a pitch he’s re-revolutionized in an era when its been mostly forgotten. Nobody has ever thrown it this hard, this often and this effectively. But Dickey’s back-to-back 1-hitters were absolutely incredible, and if his second half is even remotely like the first, we may be looking at a 37-year-old, knuckleballing, first time All-Star win the NL Cy Young award. And that would be freakin’ AWESOME.

2. Another One Bites the Dust

Oh, Chipper where art thou? After Mariano Rivera basically announced 2012 would be his last season (later retracted after tearing his ACL shagging fly balls), I didn’t think my heart could take any more. Then BOOM. Chipper Jones. One of my childhood heroes growing up in the 90′s (along with Ken Griffey, Jr. and Derek Jeter) told the baseball world that this would be his final season in baseball. Not much later came Ivan Rodriguez. Then Omar Vizquel. And I’m suddenly no longer a child, apparently. My childhood baseball heroes are dropping like flies. But I’ve loved watching Chipper play this year and will never forget the effect he had on a generation of young baseballers everywhere. What do you think? First ballot?

1. Milestone Moments Win the Day

I don’t think even Chipper & Co. can top the unbelievable year of pitching we’ve witnessed thus far. Phil Humber, then Jered Weaver, then Johan Santana, then half of the Mariners’ bullpen, then Matt Cain. And a whole slew of near-no hitters or perfections interspersed among those. Cain’s perfecto was one of the most dominating performances I’ve ever seen, and we’re on pace for double digit no-no’s in one season? Doubtful, but in a year full of surprises…why not? Oh, and lest we forget about Aaron Hill and his apparently-not-All-Star-worthy two cycles in 11 days. Between all these moments and other career milestones like David Ortiz’s 400th homer, it’s been a historic season. And there’s still another whole half to play.

So, what is your favorite story line of the first half? What else are you excited to see in the second half? Comment below and vote in the poll! Follow Three Up, Three Down on Twitter @3u3d and LIKE us on Facebook at facebook.com/3u3dpodcast.

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Episode Eleven Sounds Like Heaven

Three Up, Three Down recaps all of baseball last week with talk about Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, and the dreaded Disabled List. The “3U3D” segment features some interesting players in lieu of injuries around the league and we get some heated debate for the match ups of the week.

Thanks for listening!

Listen below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the podcast!

or use this link to download on iTunes

http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=508049520

Twitter: @3U3D
Facebook: Three Up, Three Down

Enjoy!

Which Jersey Should YOU Buy?

Today, Major League Baseball released the list of the 20 best-selling jerseys in 2011.  Derek Jeter to no one’s surprise led MLB in jersey sales (He also was tops in 2010).  His Yankee teammate Mariano Rivera still cracked the list at #18 despite being north of 40 years old.  However, which jerseys are the best investments for the common baseball fan?  One that collects items from all teams, not just their favorite team.

Jeremy Dorn and I are going to do this draft style.  He won the toss and will pick 1st, while I get the 2nd and 3rd and then alternate after that. What we’re looking for in our jersey investments are quality of player, potential time in uniform, and overall awesomeness.  Chipper Jones, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera would have been high on this list in 1997.  Now lets see if they can crack out top 20 as their careers wind down.

Pick #1: Matt Kemp, Dodgers

You know I have to go with my boy Matt Kemp. He was one home run shy of 40/40 last season, and just signed a long-term deal with the Dodgers. So to meet the criteria, we have the quality, we have the time spent in uniform, and the overall awesomeness speaks for itself. But I’ll elaborate anyway, because I have an unhealthy bromance with Kemp. Undoubtedly the best five-tool player in baseball today, Kemp hits for average (.324 in 2011), power (39 home runs, 126 RBI last year), steals bases (40), plays defense, and guns people from the outfield (NL Gold Glove for center field). He does all these things while being incredibly handsome. That’s all. Go buy a #27 jersey, everyone.

Pick #2: Joey Votto, Reds

A pick I don’t think you saw coming.  After signing a long extension, Votto will be in a Reds uniform potentially through the 2024 season.  That’s what I’m looking for in my picks.  It’s much easier for me to buy a jersey, when I have the security that player won’t be gone any time soon.  Votto is no slouch of a player either.  He is the 2010 NL MVP and his 162 game averages of .313 BA/31 HR/105 RBI will only get better as he continues in his current prime.  He’ll end up on a short list of greatest Reds of all-time especially if he leads the Queen City to their first World Series title since 1990.  What also helps Votto’s case is what other Reds jersey would you buy?  Brandon Phillips?  Johnny Cueto?  Jay Bruce?  Drew Stubbs?  Give me Votto all day.

Pick #3: Albert Pujols, Angels

The player you probably thought I was going with at #2, but the extra length on Votto’s contract gave him the nod over Pujols.  It’s always nice to get in on the ground floor of a new player that has just joined a team.  Especially when he signs a NINE-year contract.  Angels fans won’t go wrong having a Pujols #5 jersey in their closet as he passes milestone after milestone and ends his career in Anaheim.  Pujols’ credentials speak for themself, 3-time MVP, 9-time All-Star, 2-time World Series champion, and 445 home runs and counting.  You gave me potentially the greatest player in MLB history in my closet, hope you can recover from that.

Pick #4: Matt Cain, Giants

Hah! Gotcha, Mapes. I hate the Giants with all my might, but I can’t deny greatness when I see it. Cain just signed a long extension in San Francisco and should be at the top of the rotation, dominating poor National League hitters for almost another decade. If you want a guy who not only oozes talent and will be in one place for a long time, but is also generally accepted as one of baseball’s good guys, go buy a Matt Cain #18 jersey. Even if it is that ugly orange and black.

Pick #5: Ryan Braun, Brewers

Hah!  Gotcha, Dorn.  That wouldn’t be the Giants jersey I would buy AND I just got the Dodger fan to take a Giants jersey.  I’ll take Ryan Braun last year’s NL MVP.  With Prince Fielder now in Detroit, it doesn’t leave many options for a Brewers jersey in your closet.  Braun is signed in Milwaukee through the 2020 season with a mutual option for 2021, or as I like to call it “longer than Matt Cain.”  I love that I have now locked up the last four years worth of National League MVP’s in my closet while you’re sitting with your favorite player and not even the best pitcher on your hated rival.  Advantage Mapes.  Bonus point for Braun is you get the sweet, baseball mitt style Brewers uniform.

Pick #6: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

First of all, I only took Cain because I’m butt hurt that the Dodgers can’t sign him. It makes sense, just let the logic sink in. I guess we’ll see which Giants jersey you WOULD take here soon *cough, Posey, cough* and that’s nice that you want to represent a player who roids. Well done. I’m taking Miggy for Detroit and his yearly MVP quest. I recently ranked him as the second best player in all of baseball and his numbers back that up. I don’t even care to look how long he will be with the Tigers under his current contract. Why? Because if he moves to a new team, I’ll gladly go out and get the new jersey anyway! That’s how badass this guy is.

Pick #7: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

Sure go buy a new Cabrera jersey after 2015, maybe he’ll even go to the Dodgers.  Nah, he’ll probably be another free agent they don’t sign.  I’m taking the best shortstop in the game, Mr. Troy Tulowitzki.  Rockies lock up their players long-term, if you had bought a Todd Helton jersey in 1997, you’d still be wearing it proudly today. (Top 4: Chipper Jones, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Helton)  I’ll take nine years of Tulo than 4 years of Cabrera any day.  He hasn’t even hit his peak and has batting titles in his future hitting in Coors Field.  Plus, chicks dig the purple.  It’s science.

Pick #8: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates

Who doesn’t love a little Cutch? McCutchen is locked up for the next half decade at least with Pittsburgh, and when the Pirates finally climb back above .500 and start to contend again, McCutchen is going to be the face of the new era. He plays a solid center field and can rake with the best of them. He’s still young too…give him another two or three years and you’ll be seeing #22 jerseys everywhere. Not just in Pittsburgh.

Pick #9: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins

You finally have a pick I like.  I have to go with my man Giancarlo Stanton before you snap him up on me.  Hell, I’m wearing his jersey t-shirt in my favorite color (orange) right now.  I don’t have to worry about the Marlins changing their uniforms so I know I’m getting full tenure of the jersey when he’s in Miami.  Stanton isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season, where I might get worried that he moves on in free agency.  Even then he’ll just be entering his prime and I have no qualms of getting another Stanton jersey, preferably a Braves one.

Pick #10: Yadier Molina, Cardinals

Bring on the girlfriend jokes. I know, I know. But is there really a cooler catcher to get a jersey of in baseball right now? Not only is he far and away the best defensive catcher in baseball, but he really brought on his offensive game in 2011. Talk all you want about Pujols and Freese and Carpenter from last year’s World Series run, but Yadi is the heart and soul of that team. There’s a reason he looks so angry all the time – he’s a very intense, focused player. And even though he wouldn’t care, I’d love to rep his jersey. That #4 is going to be the backstop for the Cards through at least 2017.

Pick #11: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

I’ll even let you take Jose and Bengie Molina’s jerseys too.  You could’ve had Molina in the last round if you wanted, but I’m sure you do look good in Cardinal red.  I’m gonna go with the jersey t-shirt I actually bought today.  I had a Jonathan Papelbon jersey t-shirt and we had a good run from 2006-2011, I picked Gonzalez today over Jacoby Ellsbury.  The Red Sox have A-Gon in the lineup through 2018, I’ll take a solid seven years out of this shirt.  There are no worries about the Red Sox changing uniforms.  There’s a guy sitting out there that I thought would go top 5, but I can’t bring myself to take him yet.  Maybe next round.

Pick #12: Felix Hernandez, Mariners

King Felix is still one of the most underappreciated pitchers in baseball. Mostly because he’s been buried on bad teams in Seattle. You’ve to go love this guy. He’s already established himself as one of the best pitchers in the game, and he’s still surprisingly young. If you have any baseball fashion sense (says the guy wearing jeans, $25 Nikes and a 10-year-old sweater), you know the Mariners jerseys are sick. And when you throw the “Hernandez” across the shoulders, you’re really stylin’! Felix loves living in the Pacific Northwest and is already signed there for a while longer. But I feel like by the time he’s due a new deal, the M’s will be contending, so I’ll take my chances.

Pick #13: Prince Fielder, Tigers

You really just picked a guy who’s rampant in trade rumors and is more than likely gone after 2014?  You’re gonna go poor with all the jersey you have to buy.  I’ll take the player I thought was going to go in the top 5 picks, the Tiger you should have picked, and a slugger that’s signed in the uniform through 2020, Prince Fielder!  Chicks dig the long ball and Fielder provides that.  Tigers also have a timeless uniform and worst case if he leaves, I can always pretend it’s a Cecil Fielder jersey.

Pick #14: Eric Hosmer, Royals

I have so much bro love for Hosmer that it hurts. He’s still on his rookie deal and will more than likely be the next long-term deal handed out by Royals management. You know I have to get a Hosmer jersey in that powder blue, too. As for the Fielder jersey, it’s a solid choice. He’s going to be a popular choice though, and I am more of a dark horse jersey kind of man. For example, I rep my James Loney Dodger jersey proudly all the time. Now imagine another pretty blue jersey with another first baseman’s name across the back? Hosmer is the best young first baseman in the game, Freddie Freeman be damned.

Pick #15: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals

That is the first pick you’ve made that made slam something in anger.  I should’ve gone Hosmer over Prince because you already had a Tigers jersey.  That was a misstep on my part.  I’ll redeem myself with taking the ONLY pitcher jersey I would buy and that is Strasburg.  I fear the big injury with pitchers and they never recover, but I think Strasburg already has that out of the way.  There is no player in MLB that gets the attention he does when he’s on his game.  He’s under contract until 2016 and I look really good in red.

Pick #16: Matt Moore, Rays

Whoa, calm down there buddy! Strasburg is the ONLY pitcher’s jersey you would take? I think the fact that he’s already been injured is reason to NOT take him. What if the same problem crops up again? Once you’re damaged goods, you will literally always have the injury questions following you. So I’ll go with a guy who’s very young, very talented and going to be a breakout star in Tampa in 2012. He’s still on a rookie deal so he should be around for at least four more years, and he will have a chance to contend for a Cy Young by 2013 in my opinion. Moore, Felix and Cain. I dig my pitcher jerseys!

Pick #17: Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays

You’re right, I’d probably take a Matt Moore jersey too.  I even picked him to win AL Cy Young this year somewhere on this blog.  You took Hosmer, so I’ve to get a young stud in a blue jersey too and none better than Brett Lawrie.  Toronto just updated their uniforms coming into this season, so hopefully they stick with them for a while.  Lawrie is also a Canadian born and bred, so I have a feeling he can be a lifetime Blue Jay, unless they stick a team in Vancouver in the next 15 years, making this a safer investment.

Pick #18: Carlos Santana, Indians

You can’t take a guy who hasn’t actually proved anything yet…can you? I’m going with a sure bet. I don’t know if Santana will ever bring his average up, but the power game alone is going to keep fans in love with this young catcher. Plus, I’m still a little bitter that the Dodgers traded him away for Casey Blake. Talk about a bad decision. Right now, I’ve got the best young catcher in the AL Central, the best young first baseman, and the best overall player in the division all tied up on my team. I’m not a huge fan of that division, but I’ll gladly wear these guys’ jerseys.

Pick #19: Buster Posey, Giants

I’ll take the guy I knew you wouldn’t pick or be ridiculed for being a Dodgers fan with two Giants jerseys in his closet.  Posey went to my favorite college when I was little (Florida State) and we have the same birthday!  How do I NOT take him?  As previously mentioned, orange is my favorite color too.  Posey is on his way to super stardom and being the best catcher in the game, unless Joe Mauer can get himself back on track.  A steal this late in the jersey draft as Posey’s jersey was in the top 20 sold in 2011 and he was hurt for the 2nd half.

Pick #20: Robinson Cano, Yankees

How can you have an epic jersey collection without a Yankee in there? I know they are the Evil Empire but if you think those classic threads are ugly, you are a sad, sorry person. If I’m going to take a Yank, it’s gotta be Cano. He’s the future of their franchise and has already established himself as a legit MVP candidate. He’ll be there for life more than likely as all great Yankees are. When I put that on, I’ll get evil glares until they see the big #20 on my back.

Clearly, I’ve out-drafted you tonight, Mapes. I’ll give you props for taking Giancarlo, Tulo and Strasburg. They are bold picks and we could be talking about those three for years to come. But Votto, Prince, Pujols and A-Gon? Come on, I know you’re more original than that! Everyone already has those ones, and while they look pretty, you’ll be matching about 5,000 other fans at any given game.

My team is clearly the more solid one, what with a classic Yankee jersey, the best young star in baseball (Kemp), and three awesome pitchers included on the rack. When making these choices, one must consider first how the jersey looks, then how relevant the player is. And anyone who thinks a Yadi Molina Cards jersey won’t just be pure glory is clearly in contact with Ryan Braun’s dealer.

Robinson Cano was going to make my honorable mention list, but they fact that he’s a free agent after next season kept me at bay.  If he got signed to a 7-year extension tomorrow, he catapults to top 3.  I was for players that I know I will get many years of enjoyment out of.   You will be buying jerseys left and right while I’ll still slip on my Votto, Pujols, Fielder, and Gonzalez late into this decade.  Gonzalez isn’t as owned as you think in Boston, I’ve actually been to Fenway Park.  Plus, I have the color wheel completely covered red, purple, navy blue, bright blue, black, and orange.  My quality of player is also far better and I didn’t pick a jersey of my biggest rival with my 2nd pick, what kind of fan are you?

Here are our honorable mentions!

Jeremy: Yonder Alonso (Padres), Justin Upton (Diamondbacks), and Jose Bautista (Blue Jays)

Bryan: Starlin Castro (Cubs), Jason Heyward/Freddie Freeman (Braves), and Joe Mauer (Twins)

Final Jersey Rosters:

Jeremy: Kemp (Dodgers), Cain (Giants), Cabrera (Tigers), McCutchen (Pirates), Molina (Cardinals), Hernandez (Mariners), Hosmer (Royals), Moore (Rays), Santana (Indians), and Cano (Yankees)

Bryan: Votto (Reds), Pujols (Angels), Braun (Brewers), Tulowitzki (Rockies), Stanton (Marlins), Gonzalez (Red Sox), Fielder (Tigers), Strasburg (Nationals), Lawrie (Blue Jays), Posey (Giants)

The fact that we got through twenty players and there are still a bunch of players that I would proudly wear on the street, shows what a great place America’s pastime is in.

Who would you want in your collection?  Vote in the poll, eave a comment or yell at us on Twitter @Mapes4FanCave for Bryan or @Jamblinman for Jeremy!

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