We shed some light on our spring training regime last week and asked you which training activity you thought sounded like the most fun. Of 6 votes, the majority of you voted for planning the Jeter wedding. We figured this would be the winner, but what surprised us is that the “majority” only equaled to 2 votes. We really thought that the Jeter wedding would win unanimously. The rest of the votes were scattered among the other choices. 1 for “gazing longingly at our suitcases,” 1 for “fundraising,” 1 for “letter writing…totally can’t wait for the home run apple letter to be posted,” and 1 for “recycling for change.” Apparently no one found “pumping it up at the gym, Guido style,” “craft time,” “crunching to trashy television and Mortal Kombat,” or “watching football and drinking from yard sticks” very entertaining. Weird. We thought the whole Mortal Kombat thing was a nice touch. Oh well.
By now you may have noticed that we favor certain players, regardless of what team they play for. The list is admittedly pretty long, but when push comes to shove there are the select few that rise to the top of the pile. We have our common ground Favorites, which are players whom we share an equal amount of affection for and then there are our personal Favorites. Just because a player falls under the category of “Personal Favorite,” does not mean that he is disliked by the other member of the TBB. He’s simply not high ranking in her world of favorite professional baseball players. What makes a player become a Favorite? Several factors. It could be his charitable contributions, statistics, personality, or even something as simple as his looks. It could even be all or some of those reasons combined. The favoritism might even be based on a personal encounter with said athlete that left a lasting impression. Below, we will discuss our top Favorites and why we favor them. Then we will break down our Personal Favorites. We have only one rule for picking Favorites: the Favorite must be an active player (or else this list will get out of hand). Retired Favorites may have to be an entirely different post.
The Traveling Baseball Babes’ Favorites:
Let us begin by stating the obvious: Mike Jacobs is HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT! Billy Madison said it best when he sang, “want to touch the hiney!”
Like Adam LaRoche, who you will read about next, Jacobs’ placement amongst our Favorites has less to do with his playing abilities and more to do with our personal encounter with the man. Jacobs was the first. The first what, you ask? Our first photo. When the strapping lad played firstbase for the Mets, we met him near the right field foul pole at Shea Stadium. He was sweating, but still smelled like hot, musky man. He didn’t run from us in fear like other players who we will not list here because it’s not the right venue. He stood erect like a true man, a soldier if you will, allowed Lisa to grab his face, and smiled as Serena snapped the photo. He even signed Lisa’s jersey, which her dog, Rexysula, then peed on.
This might sound like a strange choice as LaRoche’s abilities rest mostly on his strong defensive skills and he’s never played for either New York team. However, there is a real reason for our affection toward good ole’ LaRoche. LaRoche is the man who threw Serena’s first ball at our first baseball game together…ever. Where the Traveling Baseball Babes began you might say. You may not think this is impressive because players throw balls into the stands all the time, but this wasn’t just like all the other times. On this occasion, LaRoche actually faced us (and we know it was us because no one was standing near us) and flipped Serena the ball specifically. Granted, he had been egged on by the drunk older man standing in our section demanding that LaRoche throw a ball to the “hot ladies over here” (which was a strange description considering we were sweating through our tank tops at the time), however the point remains that he singled us out and tossed us a ball. For that, Mr. LaRoche will forever remain a Favorite.
Plus, Keith Hernandez inappropriately announced on national television that LaRoche has ADHD and we commend him for overcoming his obstacles.
C’mon, people. We have an entire Appreciation Day dedicated to the boy. We’ve retired his number for pete’s sake. His number is the only number retired in TBB history. Must we explain further?
Johan Santana’s pitching resume probably does not to be described here as it is already well-known, but we’re going to do it anyway. The 2 time AL Cy Young Award winner (2004 & 2006) and 4 time All Star boasts a career win-loss record of 122-60, an ERA of 3.12, and 1,733 strikeouts. He was named AL Pitcher of the Month in August 2002, which was also his first full month as a big-league starter. Quite the first impression. In 2004, his first Cy Young Award winning year, he became the first pitcher in more than 40 years to go 10 starts without giving up more than 4 hits or 4 runs. He also decided to sell his SUV on eBay, kindly throwing in a signed jersey for the buyer. The man’s got personality! In 2006, In addition to his second Cy Young Award, he won the Triple Crown for pitching, leading the league in wins (19), strikeouts (245), and ERA (2.77). He earned his first Gold Glove in 2007, proving that he is more than just a pitcher- he’s an athlete.
While Santana is technically attractive, it is not just his physical attributes that make him adorable. His team spirit, drive, athletic prowess, competitive fire, and all around “good guy” aura contributes to his adorableness. Not to mention, when other teammates “give up,” Santana continues to strive for excellence. Even if the team is out of playoff contention, he still shows up and endeavors to pitch a well executed game.
Furthermore, he shares a birthday with Serena. Serena officially now has an awesome birthday. Perhaps he will come to her “Go Irish” themed birthday party. Erin go bragh!
In 2005, Huston Street earned AL Rookie of the Year honors by posting 72 strikeouts in 78 1/3 innings pitched, opposing hitters only batting .194 against him. The only AL reliever to better Street’s ERA was Yankees’ Mariano Rivera’s 1.34. Not too shabby. Street’s fastball typically hovers in the 90-93 mph range, topping out at around 95. He also owns a sharp slider around 84-86 mph that he uses against righties and a changeup at around 81-83 that he typically throws against lefties.
As if these impressive stats weren’t sexy enough, we’ve had the privilege of seeing that man warm up in the bull pen. Needless to say, he’s very bendy. We were unaware that the male form could actually do the things that Street’s body did. Plus, Huston Street is definitely a porn star name and that just gives him extra sex appeal if that’s even possible. Yum.
Honorable Mentions: Eric Brynes, Melky Cabrera, Mariano Rivera, Bryan Roberts, Chase Utley, and Ryan Zimmerman
You might be wondering why I picked Daniel Murphy. He hasn’t been on the team long enough to become a dynasty player. His playing in the outfield is less than desirable and he’s not exactly the best first baseman, but he’s doable for right now. In his defense, he was the team leader in home runs last season with a whopping 12. Impressive.
However, I like Murphy’s swagger. He’s a team player. When the going gets tough and after dropping many balls, he still trots out onto the field and gives his all. It might not be anyone’s best, but he certainly gives it. He also looks like a really nice guy. I also like his last name. It’s fun to shout at Citi Field and I assume, in bed. I am just throwing it out there. Only time will tell if Murphy’s going to become an MVP or an All Star, but for now his award is being my Favorite.
I really hope Murphy can make it to Serena's birthday bash which is Irish themed. What kind of Irish themed party would it be without a Murphy !!!! Serena and I have selected him to be the party's mascot, which is another reason he is my personal Favorite.
When I first saw David Wright, I was at a game with Papa L. We were sitting up in the stands. David was fairly new to the team and of course, we were in a rain delay. So it doesn’t just haunt the TBB, it haunts me too. David went outside in the rain, holding his own umbrella and signed autographs. I thought to myself (little did I know), “What a nice a guy. Here he is in the rain signing autographs.” That moment, I thought, David had great character and I like character in a ball player. David, like Murphy, shows team spirit. Unlike Murphy, David has much better stats and is an all around good player. For the most part, with the exception of last year, he comes through in a clutch. David has been a All star selection 4x 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. David has 2 golden gloves under his belt and is a 2x silver slugger award winner .This is probably why he is such a fan favorite . I hate to admit that he is my Favorite for fear of being one of those girls, but clearly you can see from my story above that I had grown a liking to him when he was a peon in the Mets Organization. I mean when do you see him now signing autographs at Citi Field let alone in the rain? My other reason for David being my Favorite is he is highly charitable, just not to the TBB. The David Wright Foundation provides aid and assistance toward the health, emotional development and education for children in need. David I think is a great role model for kids. I would love for him to father my children but I am aware that is NEVER going to happen and I am ok with that.
Ken Griffey Jr.
When I recall sitting at my grandmother’s dining table in Williston Park eating a bowl of Cornflakes, there is only one thing I can remember about the back of that cereal box: the frozen image of Griffey’s finished swing. His smile was (and still is) infectious. Despite being raised in the household of Super Yankees Fan Mamadukes, I could not help but become infatuated with the center fielder that Griffey was (could we perhaps trace my affection for Bernie Williams back to the Mariners’ center fielder?). Even the “Jr.” at the end of his name sought a special place in my heart. Griffey is my first non-Yankees love.
Lets face it. Griffey is a well adored player spanning many generations (his major league debut coming in 1989) and deservedly so. He’s been selected to the All Star game a whopping 13 times and in 1999, earned a position on the Major League Baseball All-Century Team! A 10 time Golden Glove Award winner, 7 time Silver Slugger Award winner, and a 3 time Home Run Derby winner (1994, 1998, and 1999), Griffey is more than just a meathead who can hit home runs. Before being plagued by injuries, Griffey was a premier center fielder. An all around fantastic athlete. Rare in an age where offense alone puts fans in the stands. On August 22, 2007, Griffey was selected as an all-time Gold Glove winner, a list of nine players considered to be the greatest defensive players in the last fifty years (including Johnny Bench, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, and Greg Maddux). It was Griffey, not McGwire or Sosa, that I wanted to break Roger Maris’ record in 1998. I am sure that I wasn’t the only one.
You’ve probably heard me refer to Morneau as my “beloved” several times by now and I am sure you’ve thought the reference a strange one, if not mildly psychotic. Or incredibly psychotic…whichever. What drew me to the Twins’ first baseman? Well, what draws me to most players? Outstanding defense. Yes, the 2006 AL MVP and 3 time All Star is a highly recognized offensive player, being a 2 time Silver Slugger Award winner and 2008 Home Run Derby champ, squeaking past Josh Hamilton in the final round and effectively proving that slow and steady sometimes really does win the race (not to mention, becoming the first Canadian ever to win the Home Run Derby). And yes. One of the sexiest things about him is how his batting stance fills the box perfectly and how his swing is textbook, art in motion. Look at the picture I chose to include of him. Look at his follow through. If I took that picture to my old high school hitting coach, he’d tell me to emulate that swing. It’s beautiful. It can make a girl weak in the knees, I tell you. But what I love best about Morneau is his abilities at first. It truly disgusted me that a defenseman of his caliber played alternate to David Ortiz, above all people, in 2008. Really, people???
Besides, one of his favorite baseball players is Ken Griffey Jr. Clearly, great minds think alike. Now if only he wasn’t married… ; )
By now, I think I’ve made it perfectly clear over the course of my blogging with Lisa that I would love to get my hands on this man. You may watch him pitch now and assume that my favoritism for Zito stemmed strictly from his looks. You’d be partly right. The first thing I noticed about him was his face…and what a deliciously scruffy face it was that first time I saw him pitch in the ALDS against the Red Sox in 2003. However, after the initial “oh, who is that yummy man” awe wore off, my fascination switched from his face to his incredible curve ball. To quote the overused cliché, the pitch just “rolled off the table,” stupefying seasoned hitters like Manny Ramirez and the previously mentioned, Ortiz. It was smitten at first sight. As many of you may have noticed, there is a distinction between Oakland Zito (whom became the initial object of my affection) and San Francisco Zito. In 2002, Oakland Zito posted a 23-5 record and earned AL Cy Young honors, narrowly defeating the illustrious Pedro Martinez. He had never missed a scheduled start and led the American League in starts on four occasions. He threw 200 or more innings in each of his 6 full seasons with the A’s, giving him work horse status. He also had a streak of 14 consecutive starts (and 20 out of 21) in which he gave up fewer hits than innings pitched! I’d say he earned his contract, no? Then in 2006, Oakland Zito replaced his agent Arn Tellem with the Devil himself: Scott Boras.
Boras negotiated a 7-year deal for the now San Francisco Zito worth $126 million, plus $18 million option for 2014 with a $7 million buyout. At that time, San Francisco Zito’s contract became the highest for any pitcher in Major League history. This is where things begin to get a bit cringe worthy. In 2008, Zito ended his streak of having never missed a scheduled start! What’s worse is that the drop in velocity of his fastball (which was never very high to begin with) and loss of command in his curve ball became extremely problematic and even prompted management to temporarily move Zito to the bull pen at the end of April. He finally collected his first win of the season at the end of May. Good grief. Fortunately, in 2009 San Francisco Zito showed signs of Oakland Zito. He did begin the season with an ERA of 10 (yikes!), but managed to work it back to down to an acceptable 4.03. He only posted a 10-13 record, but he was the victim of poor run support, touting the second lowest in the majors. We can attribute the rebound in his pitching performance to an increased velocity on his fast ball and finally regaining control on that gorgeous curve ball of his. We can only hope that this carries over to the 2010 season. Come home, Zito. Come home. We miss your former self.
Lastly, despite the his issues these last few years with the Giants, there is one piece of Zito’s life that will by far endear him to me the most and that is his charity, Strikeout for Troops, which provides money to hospitals for soldiers wounded in military operations.
We don’t have much to write about this week in terms of baseball happenings, but nevertheless, we now faithfully bring you to our baseball notes: Serena’s favorite first baseman, Justin Morneau will be one of several Canadians receiving the honor of carrying the Olympic Torch leading up to the Vancouver games. This just adds to Morneau’s hotness level. Other honorees include Sidney Crosby, Steve Nash, and Shania Twain.
On Thursday, Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers finalized a deal that avoided an awkward salary arbitration heading. Verlander, who would’ve eligible for free agency following the 2011 World Series, tied the majors for most wins last season with 19 and led the league with 269 strikeouts, 240 logged innings, and 35 starts. The 2006 AL Rookie of the Year also posted a career best 3.45 ERA. The $80 million/5 year contract includes a $500,000 signing bonus, $6.75 million this season, $12.7 million next year, and $20 million in each of the following years of the contract.
Finally, in case you haven’t noticed, the TBB has been blogging openly for exactly 1 year tomorrow. Happy Anniversary to us!
Sarah McLachlan encompassed our feelings for our lovely Favorites when she wrote, “Your baseball qualities are better than ice cream, they’re better than anything else that we’ve tried…even sausage sandwiches.”