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Preview: The Queen of Diamonds

The Queen of Diamonds

Powerful words from a Baseball Fanatic

Updated: 2012-04-16T02:07:01.262+00:00


81 Games Left


Here we are... the half-way point.The winter months of the off season felt like years while the last few months went by like the blink of an eye.So again, here we are.It's the All-Star break and there's no baseball today. What will millions of Americans do with themselves?Reflect.A lot has changed since the chilly days of April. For instance, The White Sox have the best record in the majors and the Nationals are sitting on top of their division. Like many fans, my predictions have turned out to be all wrong. Sure the Cardinals running away with the NL Central was expected, but are the New York Yankees really in third place?Not for long, maybe.This is the best part about the All-Star break. Although Bobby Abreu's 41 home runs in the first round of the Derby and thundering boos for Kenny Rodgers were exciting, they fail in comparison to the hope. The hope that your team will still be alive in October. If trash talk is still acceptable by Baltimore and San Diego fans, then there's a whole lot more baseball to play.So here are the revised predictions for the 2005 season from the Queen of Diamonds:American League:- East - The Red Sox are currently on top with the Orioles and Yankees trailing. Sorry Baltimore fans, but there is just no way your boys can hold on. Javy's hurt and you don't have the means to make mid-summer moves like Epstein and Cashman. So that leaves the eternal under dogs and the evil empire in the race. The Yankees showed signs of great strength right before the break. Johnson's last two starts have looked more like Johnson and even Giambi is hitting the ball well. They won't run away with the division, but rhey are not going to giveit to the Red Sox either. So if they want it, they're going to have to earn it. For most of the first half, this seemed like an easy task. But in the last two weeks before the break, the Sox lost two-out-of-three to the Blue Jays and three-out-of-four to the Orioles. This division will be fun to watch. The GM's are going to have to pull something big out of their sleeves if they want to play in October. We'll still be watching this race the last week of the regular season.- Central - Chicago. Is there anything else to say? Maybe the addition of Bret Boone will help out the Twins, but chances are the White Sox will have very little trouble holding on to their division.- West - This is a hard one. Oakland had a pretty weak start but they've been making a push lately. They're proving that if you're talented, age does not matter. They may be young, but if Beane can keep them together for a few years they will be a real threat. Seattle's big winter moves have not produced the way they were supposed to. So that leaves the division in Vlad's hands. but with Texiera and the Rangers, anything is possible. This one is going to be close.National Leauge:- East - The Washington Nationals are in first place. In other words, the Montreal Expos are in first place. It's hard to believe this is not an expansion team, but the nation's capitol seems to be their perfect fit. But before you start celebrating on the Mall, keep your eye on the Mets. Pedro is pitching like Pedro and athough they're only playing 500 baseball, they're an experienced team that will not lose steam as the season goes on. Similarly, Andruw Jones is having a great year and I think if you've got John Smoltz on your team, that's a lot. Sorry Marlins. Maybe next year.- Central - St. Louis has gold glovers at almost every position, plus a great rotation and batting order. Pujols is chasing after the triple crown along with Derek Lee of the Cubs. Despite the impossiblity of this happening, Pujols has the best shot at it. His lineup will give him more chances to drive runs in than the cubs will. But it's still too early to talk triple crown.- West - Despite their best start since 1955, the Dodgers are struggling. The Padres biggest competition will be the Diamondbacks. Bonds will not be back this season, so pay no attention to the mid-August rumors. Bonds will only play when he feels 100% like his home run hitting self . We're at the[...]

Living Up to the Hype


Of all the players who actually make it to the big leagues few become stars, and even fewer become legends. Babe Ruth was a legend, Bud Black was not. (You may be asking yourself who Bud Black was. He was a mediocre relief pitcher at best, but that is not important).We all have memories of our fathers and grandfathers sitting around for hours discussing players like DiMaggio, Williams and Mantle. For my generation those players are larger than life. They were on a completely different level than anyone I have seen play the game. We do not think of them as striking out or having a bad game. Players like that contribute to the myth that is American baseball.So in the year of 2005, who are our legends? Who are the players we will tell our grandchildren about? Today's ballplayers have sadly been tarnished by steroids and the stigma of free agency. At first glance we assume many of them to be anti-heroes, or having no heart. But as long as players like Paul O'Neill are still throwing bats and coolers after a striking out looking or Curt Schilling is pitching in a bloody sock, there is heart on the field.Players come and go. This year's all stars are next year's utility guys. So who stands out amongst the crowd of fast legs, quick gloves, good eyes and great heart? At 6'3 and 195 pounds, Derek Jeter is a leader on and off the field. His commitment to the pinstripes is admirable. He has thrown himself, headfirst, into the stands on the third base line in July to make the play. No sports fan can forget the time he came out of nowhere along the first base side. It was Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS when he relayed the bad throw from right field to get Jeremy Giambi at the plate.However it is not his larger-than-life moments that ports Center replays 100 times, but it his day-to-day quiet heroics that make him an unforgettable part of baseball.He is only one of 25 guys on the New York Yankees. He does not want to stand out as an individual; it is not the "Derek Jeter Show". He is a leader to his fellow players, an ambassador to the media, and most importantly a good guy to his fans. His current contract, signed in 2001, is worth $189 million for ten years. George Steinbrenner considers him worth every penny. At the time it was the second largest contract in baseball history, second only to Alex Rodriguez's $252 million for ten years. Some ballplayers with huge contracts view them contract like badges of honor, not Jeter. Jeter works hard every day to earn his salary and make all the players around him better. Chuck Knoblauch and Scott Brosius are not headed for Cooperstown, but playing along side Rookie Jeter made them better.This writer could supply her readers with a long list of arrogant, "in it for themselves" type of players, but she will not. That would be un-Jeter-ly.Jeter is too respectful to bring down other players or hoard the credit for himself. It is for this reason that he is an ideal baseball role model for today. His career numbers are enough to make him a fan favorite. He is a career .315 average hitter, the 2000 All Star Game and World Series MVP, and a 2004 Gold Glove Winner. He has played in October each of his ten major league seasons; playing in 6 World Series and winning 4 them. He has this miraculous ability to be in the right place at the right time and that is heroic. But it is the combination of his on-the-field skills with his off-the-field dignity that makes him the Yankees' captain.Jeter always refers to the Yankee skipper as "Mr. Torre" in a sign of respect. Respect is an interesting word that does not always belong in the same sentence as today's professional athletes. However it is synonymous with Jeter.Mr. Jeter (out of respect for #2) uses his good reputation for more than just dating a famous pop star or a Miss Universe. The Turn 2 Foundation was started in 1996, his first full season, to help promote healthy lifestyles. It is called "Turn 2" not only to recognize his ability to turn double plays, but to encourage kids to “turn to” Jeter for help in staying away from dru[...]

The Best Time of The Year


After the final out of the 2004 World Series some people screamed, some people cried, and some people changed the channel to football. But for me, the countdown began. It is not because the Red Sox won the title or because my beloved Yankees choked that started the countdown. It is when the fans sit in their winter coats and gloves, and freezing to death in order to cheer for their team when it hits you: the term "boys of summer" does not apply anymore.Yes, October baseball is exciting and it keeps all the fans glued to their seats. But just as fast as those frontrunners appear out of the woodwork, that's how quickly the season ends. Then comes the off-season.If you are a true fan of the game you know the withdrawal you go through without Peter Gammons and Harold Reynolds every night. Your morning paper is just not the same when you there are no standings to check, but you know the end of the Superbowl automatically means baseball will finally reclaim the pages of the New York Times' Sportspage. You know that Spring Training is not just for the scrubs with numbers like 87 or 92, but it is when you can finally exhale.So take a deep breath because the wait is over.This season is sure to be unforgettable. Barry Bonds' says he will not play this season and Alex Sanchez of the Devil Rays has already been suspended for 10 games due to a violation of the drug policy. Are you kidding me?Steroids are nothing new. They have been a part of the game longer than anyone realizes. Steroids probably made Bonds bigger and kept him at his peak longer, but they don't do anything for your eye, it was all Bonds every time he sent a fastball into McCovey Cove. So let us forget about the drugs and move on.So here we are, Bonds-less, at the start of the 2005 season, and we are gearing up for one of the most exciting seasons of our lives? The Yankees and Red Sox rivalry is finally a rivalry and with so many top players in new uniforms, no team is going to have any easy path to a pennant.the love affair of the Big Three has broken up, Pedro is no longer in Boston, Big Unit has signed with the eternal enemy and Carlos Beltran is the next king of New York. It would be next to impssoble to predict how the season will play out, but let me try anyway.American League:-East: The Yankees are clearly going to win the division. They won over 100 games in 2004 and this year they have one of the best southpaws in history in pinstripes. It is more than possible that the Red Sox will take the wild card but they're going to have to win 90+ games to do it. Sorry Orioles, Devil Rays and Blue Jays but if you want to ever win a division title, I suggest finding a new division. But hey, Boston won it all last year so I guess anything is possible.-Central: This is possibly the hardest one to predict. The Twins are definitely the clear favorite, but the Indians and White Sox could surprise us all.-West: There are three teams in this division that could easily win over 90 games: Angels, A's and Mariners. All three made big moves this winter and can't be counted out. Seattle added Sexson and Beltre while the Angels still have Vlad. Billy Beane may have traded away Mulder and Hudson but he still has Cy Young winner Barry Zito. Besides Beane never seems to make the wrong move. Last season he let Tejada go and Bobby Crosby, the scrub no one had ever heard of, won Rookie of the Year. Maybe Paul DePodesta should buy that book.National League:-East: The Braves are going for their 13th straight division title. Ok, what's new? Well Smoltz is back in the starting rotation and Tim Hudson will be there with him. The Marlins are still a threat with their rotation and the Mets are ready to play. This division has the potential to be the closes race this season. DC is so excited to have finally have a team back so maybe the fans will not be too upset when they finish somewhere around 500, hopefully.-Central: St. Louis Cardinals. Do I need to say anything else? The cardinals will win this division. Mulder is going to put up career[...]