Angels Fan Returned 600th Home Run Ball to Pujos

Albert Pujols, the veteran infielder and DH for the Los Angeles Angels, hit his 600th career home run on June 3rd. An Angels fan named Scotty Steffel caught the ball and held it tight as his father pulled zealous fans off his son. Pujols’ 600th home run marked only the ninth time a played in the MLB has reached that plateau. Pujols also made history as the only player whose 600th home run was a grand slam. So it’s only natural that the fan who caught it would want something major in return for the ball. In some cases, fans demand tens of thousands of dollars for a significant piece of baseball memorabilia. But in a display of class and integrity, the Angels fan returned the ball to who he called its rightful owner.

“It’s not my ball, it’s his,” Steffel told CBS Los Angeles. “He deserves it. He’s one of theAngels Fan returned best baseball players right now. Of all time.” While many were quick to praise Steffel for giving up the ball without asking for anything in return, others were not so kind. “Of course you sell it,” someone wrote on the Facebook wall of the Institute for Baseball Studies. “One life so look out for yourself and your family. Opportunity comes so take it. So if that makes me greedy I’m fine with that.” Others were more blunt. “Oh yea, giving the Baseball back in 2017 for free………DUMBEST F*@&!#G THING I EVER DID IN MY LIFE!”

Angels Fan Returned the Baseball Out of Respect, Not Cash

Steffel allegedly could have gotten $100,00 for the baseball. But it’s not really like he walked away empty handed. He got his fifteen minutes of fame. He got to meet Pujols after the game. The newest member of the 600 home run club hugged Steffel and shook his hand. Steffel also got the chance to sit in the broadcast booth for a while. And not to mention the tremendous amount of press coverage he’ll get for weeks to come.

In a time when players’ inflated egos are causing unwarranted brawls, it’s refreshing to see someone like Steffel be so selfless. Hopefully his actions will serve as a model for others.

Red Sox Season On The Brink Of Extinction

After a terrible first half of the Major League season, the Boston Red Sox have not started their second half the way they wanted.  The Sox were swept this past weekend by the Los Angeles Angels, including dropping both games of a double-header.  And now, Sox fans are starting to realize that this season may already be over.

The Sox went into the All-Star break with a little bit of momentum.  Though they hadRed Sox dropped two of three games against the hated New York Yankees directly before the break, they were still playing probably their best baseball of the season.  Before the series against the Yankees, they had won nine of 13 games, and were actually starting to make a small push toward the Wild Card, but now those dreams have quickly been wiped away.

As of yesterday afternoon, the Sox were nine games out of first place in the American League East, and 8.5 games out of a Wild Card spot, heading into a series against the Houston Astros.  The team does not seem to be playing with any sense of urgency, and that is really the only way that a team in their position will have a chance of saving their season.

Throughout the season, there have been few things that have been seen as positive for the team.  Eduardo Rodriguez was showing some signs of being a future ace for the team.  But after having a great couple starts to begin his career, his results have fallen a large amount.  In his most recent start, he gave up six hits and seven earned runs in only 1.2 innings pitched against the Angels.

Even the bigger names on the team have not been delivering.  David Ortiz has only a .236 batting average, and a .327 on base percentage, both are well below his career averages.  And Clay Buchholz has not pitched well all season, and is now on the DL with a right flexor strain.

So far, the only good thing that can be taken out of this season is the play of Brock Holt.  Holt earned his first All-Star selection, and has been solid all season long.  He also is the only player in the league that has hit for the cycle this season.

For all of us Red Sox fans, I think it is finally time to face the reality that our team just isn’t that good this season.  There have been times that they have showed some promise, but just like Sox teams of the past, that is just their way of playing with our heads.  So if for some reason the Sox start playing a bit better over a week or two period, I would say to not get your hopes up, because their play will probably start going back down at some point soon.

Red Sox Lose 4 in a Row to Angels

I probably should have guessed that the Red Sox streak right before the All-Star game was too good to be true—and I would have been right. The Red Sox lost their first 4 games after the All-Star break against the L.A. Angels, putting up a grand total of 4 runs in 4 games. Those 4 runs all came Monday as part of a day-night double-header. Not that they did any good, though, as Los Angeles put up 18 runs in those 2 games against Red Sox pitching. The Angels out scored the Red Sox 22-4 for the series. Yikes!

A small part of me thought this would happen, that the Red Sox didn’t really stand a Red Soxchance, and I probably should have listened to that part of me, because they really are done now. This team doesn’t have the talent or the will to make a push, even in a division as weak as the AL East has been this year. Any hope I might have had died this weekend, watching this sad display against the Angels.

Now, it doesn’t really matter if the Red Sox go out and trade for Sonny Gray, Cole Hamels, Johnny Cueto, or all 3! It’s officially too late for them to dig themselves out of this hole, especially after this weekend’s display. My only hope right now is that the Red Sox can get their act together enough to at least pull themselves out of last place in the Al East, but even that might be too much to ask.

After this series, it’s pretty clear that the Red Sox should be sellers at the trade deadline, because, as I mentioned above, any hopes they might have had of playing themselves back into contention died after being so thoroughly out-played in Anaheim. I thought before the All-Star break that the Red Sox might be able acquire a few good veteran pieces and get themselves back into contention, but I’ve now given up on that. Any moves they make should be geared towards 2016, because 2015 is now a lost cause.

Red Sox Rotation for Angels Series

The Red Sox, after a four day layoff, head to the west coast to faces the Angels this weekend for a four game series that carries over to Monday. As the Red Sox prepare for this series, John Farrell set his rotation for the first three games out in the City of Angels.

Wade Miley, who closed out the first half, will open the second half—pitching on regular rest. Rick Porcello will get the start Saturday night while Eduardo Rodriguez will take the mound on Sunday. Red Sox RotationNo starter has been announced for Monday as of yet, but likely Brian Johnson will be making his major league debut or Justin Masterson will take the ball again.

The time is now for the Red Sox to make a statement. After a series with the Angels the Sox will travel to Houston for three games before returning home. The Sox took 2 of 3 from Houston just last weekend. The Sox sit at 42-47; not exactly where they should be after the off-season they had. Being 5 games under .500 does have them in last place, but they are only 6.5 games behind the first place Yankees.

The trade deadline is only two weeks away and label of buyer or seller is something the Red Sox have embraced. Clay Buchholz’ injury hurts the Red Sox in the present and the future—he could help them keep winning or help them get some good pieces back at the trade deadline. The extent of his injury is unknown as is how long he will be out for, but the Red Sox rotation likely will not stack up without Buchholz entering it again sometime soon.

Rick Porcello needs to continue to keep the ball down. Ryan Hanigan will likely catch Porcello for the rest of the season as they try to replicate his most recent start where he gave up two runs and lowered his ERA to a still high 5.90. The time is now for Porcello to make a statement that he can be the pitcher the Red Sox acquired to help anchor the top of the rotation.

David Ortiz Starting Slow In 2015

With the additions to Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez it was expected the pressure would be taken off David Ortiz to be the main guy in the middle of the Red Sox order. Ortiz has performed up to and even above the standards many have expected the 39 year old to live up to in recent years but this season Ortiz has been struggling in the middle of the Sox order.

Ortiz has been a victim of the shift, obviously not much he can do about it unless he startsDavid Ortiz going the other way more, but easier said than done. With his average now just .221 Ortiz could be quietly having one of his worst seasons in a Red Sox uniform. Obviously no one expected him to hit 50 home runs again, or win a batting title. But, the offense of the Red Sox needs him to perform at a high level. Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval are battling injuries that don’t look to be going away any time soon.

Ortiz is not the only Red Sox hitter struggling, but I feel he is the most important right now. He is the identity of this Red Sox team and the offense will be most successful when he is on. The lineup changes manager John Farrell made over the weekend were small and he seemed to revert back to the usual lineup already after flip flopping Ortiz and Ramirez this weekend. They were back to their normal spots in the lineup Monday. I feel Farrell is too reliant on going right-left in the lineup and should just have the best hitters at the top of the lineup. A hot Xander Bogaerts should not be hitting 7th, and a struggling David Ortiz should not still be hitting 3rd.

Mike Napoli had been struggling with his average dipping as low as .171 last week but with a great weekend series against the Angels he raised it to .211. 40 points in a weekend is a lot to expect but it is time for Ortiz to get on a roll and carry this Red Sox offense like he has the past ten plus years.

If and hopefully when Ortiz comes around with the bat, the Red Sox offense will be what many expected it to be before the season. Expecting the team to score 900 runs and be one of the best offenses in the American League, while stepping up in an American League East that no ones seems to be grabbing a hold of.

Ortiz has been the guy for the Red Sox for so long, admitting that he is struggling at the plate is something many people will refuse to believe, but his stat line is down and so is the Red Sox offense.

Anthony Ranaudo Makes Texas Debut

Anthony Ranaudo

During the off season, in the wake of all the acquisitions to this years pitching staff, general manager Ben Cherington made the move to trade away 25-year-old Anthony Ranaudo to the Texas Rangers. Boston acquired left-handed specialist, Robbie Ross Jr. in return from Texas.

The Ranaudo trade to Texas caught a lot of Boston fans by surprise. Anthony Ranaudo ranked in Anthony Ranaudothe top-three of pitching prospects in the Red Sox organization and seemed to be on the rise. Ranaudo was outstanding in 2014 while pitching for the Pawtucket Red Sox, posting a 14-4 record to compliment a 2.61 ERA en route to International Pitcher of the Year honors. Ranaudo also had a nasty curveball—winning best curve ball in the Boston Red Sox organization for two straight years. Ranaudo got some brief time with the MLB club down the stretch, going 4-3 with a 4.81 ERA in seven starts.

Ranaudo’s brief struggles in the show weren’t necessarily the reason he was dealt, but more or so the reason of where does he fit in? Boston was able to bring in veteran starters, Rick Porcello, Justin Masterson and Wade Miley in the offseason leaving no room for Ranaudo in the rotation. Boston also has top-tier prospects named Henry Owens, Brian Johnson and Matt Barnes knocking on the door so, in the big scheme of things, Ranaudo didn’t have a spot; Boston had a need for a left-handed reliever.

Ranaudo made his first start for a depleted Ranger rotation on Wednesday as he was opposed by Hector Santiago of the Los Angeles Angels. He would only go 1.2 innings in this one, allowing six hits, six runs to go with a 1-1 strikeout to walk ratio.

After a relatively smooth first inning, Ranaudo struggled heavily in the second. David Freese’s single to center lead to a Chris Iannetta walk, followed by a walk soon after- making it bases loaded with one-out. Angels second baseman, Johnny Giavotella, would deliver the big blower with a liner to left field scoring two and it would just get worse from there. Los Angeles was able to tack on four more runs off of Ranaudo en route to a 10-2 win.

Obviously Ranaudo wasn’t as prepared for this start as he would have liked to have been. It’s also obvious that he still needs some work down in the minor leagues before he can come up and make that impact the Rangers need him to make.