MLB

Loyalty is dead? Wake up – it’s been dead for a while.

5-3

Its all about the money.

The buzz after former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas signed for Chelsea FC, is that loyalty is dead.  Plot twist: Loyalty in professional sports is dead, and it’s been dead for a while – wake up and smell the rotting corpse everyone.

Luis Figo proved that, when he ditched Barcelona for swanky new digs at Real Madrid, fans reacted furiously, even throwing a pig head at him.

And it’s not just the beautiful game, loyalty is dead across the sporting globe.

In the NBA? There are 18 active players who have played their whole careers with one franchise – seven who were drafted by other teams.

'The Decision' Didn't go over well in Cleveland

‘The Decision’ Didn’t go over well in Cleveland

Let’s not forget about the most famous ‘Decision’ and Lebron ‘taking his talents to South Beach.’ That got a few people upset, eh?

How about the NHL where free-agency has ruined any sense of loyalty – where captains like Jerome Iginla or Daniel Alfreddson ditch their respective clubs to chase personal glory.

Heck Ilya Kovalchuk shocked the professional hockey world, ditching a $77 million dollar contract in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils for an even bigger contract in the KHL .

In baseball, just 8 active players have played more than 10 years with a single team – topped by New York Yankee Derek Jeter.

Gone are the days of Joe DiMaggio, Dan Marino, Steve Yzerman, Ryan Giggs and the Paolo Maldini’s – Legends who stuck with their teams through thick and thin. Now players chase personal glory, crave their big pay day.

And can you blame pro athletes? I can’t.

It’s a business and everyone is trying to get their payday or grab another trophy, personal glory.

Can you honestly tell me, if a rival company came to you and offered you more money, more guaranteed years that you wouldn’t consider it? That you wouldn’t jump at the chance to make more money?

Some might say no, but most would be out the door without a guilty second.

And that is the hypocrisy of where we place athletes and the false values we impose on them – it’s a business, whether we like it or not, and

Assou-Ekotto: Plays for the money, not the game.

Assou-Ekotto: Plays for the money, not the game.

business is about making money.

It’s refreshing to see comments from an athlete like Tottenham Hotspur player Assou-Ekotto, who infamously stated, “I play for the money. Football’s not my passion.”

“All people, everyone, when they go to a job, it’s for the money. So I don’t understand why, when I said I play for the money, people were shocked. Oh, he’s a mercenary. Every player is like that.”

He was lambasted by media, ripped up by fans – but why? Because we hold this idealistic mentality that players should be blindly loyal, play for the ‘love of the game’ and wear their hearts on their sleeves?

Blind loyalty a hopelessly romantic notion, sounds lovely, but it’s just not true anymore in modern sports.

So while Arsenal fans burn Fabregas shirts in the streets and Cleveland fans still reel about ‘The Decision’ – wake up and realize, Loyalty is dead and it’s not coming back.

And as Puff Daddy so eloquently said – it’s all about the Benjamins.

This Week In Sports (Jul 16th)

This week is the launch of our new segment, This Week In Sports, where we will recap what we judge to be the best, most interesting and newsworthy stories of the past week in the wide-world of Sports.

Whether it’s Baseball, Football, Darts, Cricket, Water Polo or bridge, if it’s newsworthy we’ll throw it your way. If you have suggestions or idea’s, or want to throw a newstory our way fire it to henry.whitfield@gmail.com or leave it in the comment section.

This Week In Sports (Jul 16th Ed)

  • In baseball the Year Of The Pitcher continued into the All-Star break, with a close 3-1 win by the National League over the American League. The stellar pitching also continued in the Home Run Derby, where Corey Hart’s pitcher managed to help him go homerunless in the second round.

 

  • Perenial choke-artist Evgeni Nabokov has flown the coop and run back to Europe with his tail between his legs, the San Jose Sharks had informed the goaltender that his services were no longer needed to help them with their string of playoff mishaps; They  already resigned Marleau to fill that role.

 

  • In the NBA, the Miami Heat performed a coup in bringing Toronto favorite Chris Bosh and reigning NBA MVP LeBron James to their city, whilealso  re-signing their own fan favorite Dwaye Wade. This prompted the New York Knicks to temporarily lose their mind and sign Amare Stoudemire for a contract that could be worth $100mil over five years.

 

  • Roy Hodgson, former Fulham saviour and the new Liverpool manager, has come out and informed the public that neither Steven Gerrard or Fernando Torres will be leaving the club anytime soon. However, the manger seemed concerned that he was unable to locate and contact Argentine Javier Mascherano; this isn’t really news, as the midfielder was no where to be found for much of the World Cup and the 2009/2010  season.

 

  • In sad news for the world of baseball, the owner of the New York Yankees has died. George Steinbrenner, who was made a part of pop-culture through Seinfeld, passed away on the morning of the All-Star game after what was described as a massive heart attack.

 

  • Lastly, in a plug of shameless self promotion, Sports With Henry broke an exciting news story on the status of highly-touted European draft pick Martin Frk and how contract negotiations are going with the Halifax Mooseheads, Allan Walsh says Have faith.

Live-blogging the 2010 Homerun Derby

To be honest, I haven’t focused much on baseball this year and that’s mostly due to the fact I’ve been busy with the World Cup coverage and watching four hours of football a day for a month tends to take up a lot of time. Nonetheless, this week is All-Star Week in the ML and today is the Home Run Derby.

The players competing in the 2010 edition of the Home Run Derby are: Chris Young (ARZ), Vernon Wells (TOR), Corey Hart (MIL), Nick Swisher (NYY), Matt Holliday (STL), David Ortiz (BOS), Hanley Ramirez(FLO), and Miguel Cabrera (DET).

Quick reminder of the rules tonight:

Round 1: Hits that do not produce HR are outs, Top 4 totals advance

Round 2: Homeruns carry over from 1st, Top 2 aggregate totals move on.

Final Round: All Homeruns from previous rounds are cleared and it’s a head-to-head battle between the top two players.

7:55pm – My favourite to win is Corey Hart, but I think that Miguel Cabrera and David Ortiz will give him a run for his money and if Ramirez can get hot, no one will catch him.

8:00pm – After predictions from Greg Zaun and Joey Votto, the All-Star weekend opens with some Hey, Sister from Train. Ageless wonders? I think so! Doc looks like he’s having a grand old time watching and it’s great to see him at the All-Star game.

8:05pm – Fun start to the weekend and the crowd seemed to enjoy that opening song, announcer reminds us that Young has 15 homeruns this season, no Bautista, but I guess we’ll accept him eh?

8:08pm – Hmmm, fun fact for everyone: Hart’s last homerun, last night and it was a walk-off winner. How about that?

8:12pm – Ceremonial first pitch thrown out by Bo Jackson, MVP of the 1989 All-Star game,  throws a high heater and he looks like he’s still got it. Late season signing for the Blue Jays to make a final run at the post-season perhaps?

First Round

8:16pm – So it’s Chris Young who will kick the fun off this evening and he sits on 15 homeruns this season, and has also hit 84 home runs since 2007, which is tops for all Center fielders in the game. He misses his first two hits, but then bangs his first home-run out to left field. Young settles in and looks pumped up but just can’t get it going, finishing with just one home run.

8:23pm – It’s time for Vernon Wells to show if he’s got what it takes, sitting on 19 home-runs this season, he picks up his first home-run thanks to a fan leaning over and helping him out. He doesn’t pick up another run until he’s on 8 outs, but despite a few close chances he finishes with just two home-runs

8:26pm – That’s right, it took Wells just 3 minutes to crash out of the home-run derby, he wasn’t patient and saw just 18 pitches. I guess that defines the Jay’s season though, rip at the first pitch and hope for the best. I had hoped it would be Jose Bautista in the homerun derby, maybe we’ll see him rips some dingers tomorrow night though.

8:30pm – Here comes Corey Hart, who misses his first hit but then knocks out his next five straight hits before picking up his second out. Then settles right back in and knocks out another one to straight away center to take his total to 6-HR’s on three outs, wait make that seven!

8:34pmHart can’t stop hitting home-runs, he just hit his 9th home-run for 464 feet, then follows that up with his 10th for 454 feet, wait no, just can’t keep up! He just hit his 11th before I could finish writing that sentence! Saying he’s on fire just doesn’t do him justice… this is wild, Hart is sitting on 12 Homeruns and just six outs.

8:37pm – In just seven minutes Corey Hart has hit 13 home-runs and destroyed the combined three homeruns by Wells and Young. He hit his longest for 464 feet and averaged an astonishing 431 feet… no wonder the guy leads the National League in homeruns this season.

8:41pm – I’d like to remind you that Corey Hart was my pick, but now Nick Swisher is up to bat and it is his chance to shine. A-Rod just said if he gets a homerun in his first three hits, we’ll have a Derby champion. Swisher promptly hits yard four times in his first five outs, before going out swinging in his next five outs. He hit his furthers one 440 feet and averaged 412 feet on his four homeruns.

8:51pm – After a nice quick commercial break, it’s time for Matt Holliday to step up and see if he can win the homerun derby again. He takes a couple swings to settle in, then cranks a deep homerun but can’t get in a rhythm quickly racking up eight straight outs before getting his second homerun, but that finally gets him going and he cranks out four homeruns on his last out to finish with a five homer total.

9:01pm – Well, it wouldn’t be a homerun derby without a Boston player, and David Ortiz is strutting with confidence up to the batter’s box. Big Papi misses his first hit but then hits his next three out, and picks up a few more to sit on six homeruns after six outs.

9:08pmOrtiz is still cranking out homeruns, and after hitting eight homeruns in eight outs, he calls over for a drink and a towel. Only Big Papi would do that, what a character! This is what I love about the All-Star game, because you get to see the players relax and just have fun. The Boston slugger finishes with his eighth homerun and sits in second place

9:10pm – The ESPN boys have Will Ferrell down to throw in his 2-cents while Hanley Ramirez steps up for his shot. Ferrell cracks me up, “I was downstairs and saw Hank Aaron Walk by, not sure if you guys have heard of him?” Meanwhile Ramirez quickly cranks his first couple of homeruns before settling into a rhythm, he just doesn’t look like he’s going to stop as he hits five straight homeruns to sit at six dingers after five outs.

9:18pm – He continues to crank out homeruns to get to seven and adds two on his last out, to pass David Ortiz and sit in second place with a total of nine homeruns, hitting his furthest at 472 feet and an average of 433 feet for his nine.

9:23pm – Up next is Miguel Cabrera who, the announcers reminder us for the 4,931 time, is leading two of the three Triple Crown categories. Currently Ortiz, Hart and Ramirez are through, with Holliday sitting in fourth with just five homeruns. Cabrera needs just five, misses his first two, and then quickly sends his next four hits out of the park.

9:26pm – With just three outs, Cabrera hits his sixth homerun and qualifies for the second round, knocking out Matt Holliday, who had hit the furthest homerun in the first round at 497 feet. Cabrera finished with

Round Two

9:30pm – End of round one standings look like this: Hart (13), Ramirez (9) , Ortiz (8) and Cabrera (7). Hart looks likely to go through, but anything can happen if someone gets on a roll.

9:37pm – Starting the second round Ortiz has 8 home runs and sits in third, he quickly gets going and belts out five straight homeruns to bring his total to 13. After a second out, he continues his hot streak and sends four more over the fence to sit on 9 homeruns for the round after four outs, and an overall total of 17.

9:43pm – David Ortiz is just ripping these balls out of the park, twelve in this round after 7 outs and in the lead with 20 overall. Talk about throwing down the gauntlet to the other three guys, the slugger finishes with thirteen in the round and a two-round total of twenty-one homeruns.

9:44pm – I think that’s what you calling going off? Ortiz just passed Ken Griffey Jr’s record of 70 homeruns in the Homerun Derby and he now sits atop with 75, with a chance to add more if he makes it into the final round.

9:46pm – The hottest player in baseball is up, and Miguel Cabrera wastes no time, as he hits the first pitch he sees over the fence. In case you’re wondering, he leads the league with 77 RBIs, a .651 Slugging percentage and a .346 batting average, while tied with 22 homeruns.

9:53 – Unfortunately for Cabrera he only hits just five homeruns in the second round and struggles to just get to 12 homeruns, his night is done as Corey Hart already sits on thirteen homeruns after the first round.

9:58 – Now we have the smooth-swinging Hanley Ramirez walking up, he currently has nine homeruns and will be looking to book his place into the next round by passing Ortiz’s current total of 21. Quick reminder that Corey Hart has not hit for almost two hours, but here’s Ramirez now.

10:05pm – The Florida Marlin’s star wasted no time hitting his first three homeruns of round two, he slows down but eventually gets going again and hits out night more homeruns, but just can’t get ahead of David Ortiz and he finishes tied with a total of 21 homeruns.

10:07pmOrtiz and Ramirez sit tied on twenty-one homeruns each and if Corey Hart gets past their total, we’ll see a swing-off. Yes, that’s what you just read: A swing-off. You’ve got to love this exciting action!

10:09pm – Corey Hart now into the batter’s box, but he hasn’t hit in two hours and quickly picks up seven outs without a homerun. Looking dire now, as he’s got two outs to play with and needs at least 8 home runs. Another mishit and he is on his last out of the second round, 8 home runs needed in case you missed that.

10:11pm – It’s a cruel game isn’t it? After an impressive 13 homeruns in the first round, Corey Hart comes back up and drops a goose egg and fails to hit a homerun in the second round. Well, it’ll be veteran slugger David Ortiz and young star Hanley Ramirez going head-to-head for the Homerun Derby title.

Final Round

10:14pm – It’s a battle of age verse youth, flashy shoes verse baggy shirts and the old rivalry of National League against American League. Ortiz is up first, followed by Ramirez.

10:15pm – Experts gave Ortiz the edge as he’s a lefty and he doesn’t let them down, he quickly pops four straight homeruns, duffs his next hit for an out but gets back on a roll and cranks out another four straight homeruns. Wow. This is unbelievable stuff.

10:20pm – Big Papi takes a break and it’s a good time to remember that he’s got the support of Tori Hunter guess he’s got a hometown boost tonight?

10:24pm – While Ortiz cranks his 10th of the round, there’s a touching moment as Ramirez is interviewed and says that the big man is like a father to him and thankful for the mentorship that Big Papi provided when he was in the Redsox minor league system.

10:28pm – What a fantastic display of slugging, Ortiz hits eleven over the fence in the final round and has a total 86 homeruns in the derby, doing the math that’s 16 more than second place all-time Ken Griffey Jr.

10:30 – The fans watch on in anticipation while Hanley Ramirez relaxes and settles into the batter’s box, the youngster needs to hit 11 homeruns to push for a tie-break and anymore than that will see him crowned 2010 homerun Derby Champion. No pressure kid.

10:31 – Hanley Ramirez has a slower start than Ortiz, and picks up two quick outs before hitting his first homerun. Line of the night by the announcer, “How would you like that homerun? I’d like it on the rocks please,” as Ramirez hits the rocks at center field once again.

10:35pm – The Florida Marlin’s player isn’t putting much pressure on Ortiz, as he sits with four homeruns after five hits but he could get hot at any moment… but Ramirez steps back and takes a break, this time its Ortiz who runs up and brings him a towel, they hug and it’s another classy moment on the night.

10:37pm – Tense moments with Ramirez sitting on 9 outs and just five homeruns, interestingly enough a Boston player has never won the homerun derby, can Ramirez break Boston’s heart on the last ball?

10:38pm – We have our 2010 Homerun Derby Champion: David Ortiz wins with 11 final round homeruns.


10:39pm – What a story this is, David Ortiz was in the slump of his career to start the season and papers in Boston were asking for the team to release him but fast-forward three months and it’s David Ortiz with 18 regular season homeruns and now being crowned the 2010 Home Run Derby Champion. I’m sure Boston is glad they held onto the slugger eh?

10:43pm – Well that’s all she wrote folks, David Ortiz proves his worth but Hanley Ramirez and Corey Hart both gave us some exciting moments in a great warm-up for tomorrow evenings 2010 edition of the MLB All-star Game.

Hope you enjoyed the live blogging of the game and if there’s positive feedback we’ll try it again in an upcoming event.

Enjoy the 2010 MLB All-Star game tomorrow evening and make sure you tune into 88.1 FM tomorrow to hear me talk Lebron, World Cup, Baseball and much more on the Bill McLean Sports show. You can also listen online @ CKDU.ca or check out the archives after its aired.