Tagged: Freddy Sanchez

Middle infielders have always been heart of Pittsburgh

globetrotters.jpgIf you were anything like me growing up there was always a few days throughout the year that we looked forward to most. Christmas, Birthdays and Opening Day go without saying, but there was always a time, usually in mid-January, when Youngstown, OH would get a little nutty. The world famous Harlem Globetrotters would pay a visit to YSU’s Beeghly for their famous act. 


As a kid, it was pure magic. The whole team of characters had their own personality and skills that put butts in the seats, but there was always two players that had me coming back year after year. The “showmen,” as they were called would be mic’d up and come out before the game to kind of warm up the crowd. With many antics and tricks up their sleeves the showmen would have me laughing all night. The game itself was really nothing more than what my friends and I tired to do in our driveway every day after school, but the showmen somehow brought it all together.

Kind of like the recent middle infielders of the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

While everyone has their favorite players, it always seems like the shortstop and second basemen receive a bulk of the attention a majority of the time. The Pirates have tried out many pieces at these two positions. Just like the showmen for the Globetrotters there are some that stick out more than others.

Here is a list of some of the past middle infielders for the Pirates since 2001:

Pat Mears
Warren Morris
Abraham Nunez
Jack Wilson
Enrique Wilson
Pokey Reese
Mike Benjamin
Jeff Reboulet
Bobby Hill
Jose Castillo
Freddy Sanchez
Luis Rivas
Brian Bixler
Neil Walker
Ronny Cedeno
Pedro Ciriaco

Some notable, others not. But everyone on that list made some appearances in Pittsburgh at the two “showmen” positions. Maybe its the flare and flash that is needed to be a quality middle infielders. Quick feet and hands are not the only attribute needed to be a showman. It also takes a vocal persona, intriguing backstory and all around love of Pittsburgh (see its not an easy role). But from the aforementioned core of 16 players, from my judgement only five up the middle players have earned the rite.

Here they are, each with their own personal and specialized title to describe their time in Pittsburgh.
Showman Emeritus: Jack Wilson

jackwilsonshowman.jpg

Still nearly two full years removed from his departure from Pittsburgh, Jack Wilson is regarded as the favorite player of many fair-weather fans. He epitomized what it means to be a major league player. When he rose through the ranks in 2001 to be the opening day starter to open PNC Park nobody could have thought some seven years later he would define Pirates baseball in the decade of the 00’s. It was not only his jaw-dropping skills at shortstop that made him appealing it was his never say die attitude. Though he played in the heart of the Pirates 18-year losing streak, you never would of guessed it. No ball was off limits and he wanted to win night in and night out.
Creative Showman: Pokey Reese
pokeyshowman.jpg
 


He didn’t wear the black and gold long but his time was marked with great happiness. Reese was a unique type of ball player. A hard nosed fielder, who like Wilson, was a human vacuum cleaner. He had one of the highest fielding percentages in the league while he played for the Pirates and was an improbable complement to Wilson. He was his own player, and although quiet, still was able to draw attention. Just look at the guy, he had the flare in his simple appearance with the cornrows and style. The bobble head pictured to the left was, and remains my personal favorite of the many promotional items given out at PNC Park over the years.







International Showman: Jose Castillo
josecastilloshowman.jpg

He was never quite understood in Pittsburgh, but was always consistent. He got lazy, especially at the plate, toward the end of his three year tenure, which overshadowed his solid glove work. Castillo spoke very little, if any English. I remember getting autographs from him throughout his time as a Pirate trying to converse with him, even in his native Spanish. Mind you, I was in my mid teens at the time and probably pretty juvenile with my adaptation of the language, nonetheless, Castillo was mute. He doesn’t exactly feel the love of Pittsburgh notion, but got the job done at second base to get him registered on this list. As his double play partner, Wilson kind of assisted Castillo’s well-being and development. It reminded me of a Michael Jordan-Scottie Pippen tandem. Both made each other better.

Stunning Showman: Freddy Sanchez
FreddySanchezFielding.jpg
When I hear the mere mention of Freddy Sanchez, I get a smile on my face. He wanted to be a Pirate, Jerry Seinfeld, and countless big league ballplayers would never dream of it, but Sanchez yearned to be here. He gave it all. His blood, sweat and tears are still embedded in the PNC Park dirt. He was worth the price of admission and was the centerpiece for many memories for many fans. He was not only a ballplayer, but a quality family man, his kids and wife were as much a part of the club as he was. Always worth respect.
All-American Showman: Neil Walker
neilwalker.jpg
The current showman for this team in ruins is Neil Walker. Known as the “Pittsburgh Kid,” he has something that not even Wilson and Sanchez had, he actually is from Pittsburgh! That fact alone makes him one of the most marketable players on the team, a needed fresh face. In just 127 games he has proven his many doubters that he will be the 2nd baseman for the Pirates for many years. His determination is his driving factor and that will soon give him fans from across the country. He now has a great reputation to carry forth leading a new generation.
It may not be the most notable group you could think of but its what defined Pittsburgh baseball throughout a dark time. Each guy had special attributes and a solid knack for the game of baseball. The past is in the past, but Walker has the chance to be a Wilson or a Sanchez. In fact, he has the opportunity to do what no showman has done before him, lead the Bucs to a winning season.
photo credits: energeticcity.ca, cantstopthebleeding.com, chicago.sbnation.com, postgazette.com, babeslovebaseball.com

Celebrities in the wake of greatness

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The Giants are taking the world by storm.

After the remarkable World Series win, San Francisco seems to be the mecca of baseball these days.

Rightfully so.

giants.jpgThese guys sure know how to party.

A reported 1.5 million were on hand last week for the parade celebration. Talk about coming in with style. Keeping with the famed cable car tradition of the beautiful city the team rode in on cable cars among ticker tape flowing by the thousands. Without a doubt a lovely display of black and orange.

The honor didn’t stop there.

Probably the most recognizable of all the champions is “The Beard” Brian Wilson.

brian_wilson_fear_the_beard_black_tshirt.jpgAlways notorious for his outlandish behavior, the playoffs gave him an outlet to let loose and get recognition. Described as a “real life Kenny Powers” by the good folks at TMZ, Wilson found his way into the mainstream after the World Series.

brian wilson.jpegWilson has helped bring in a new wave of baseball fans to the sport, in my opinion. His mentality and persona is unlike that of any player in the game today, really. It is refreshing to see a Rick Vaughn type “Wild Thing” take the mound to close out a game.  Let’s just hope he doesn’t flame out or end up in the California Penal League.

Another hero made his way to late night, my man Freddy Sanchez.
freddy.jpgI honestly got chills as I sat watching him take shots of Jameson on Lopez Tonight, with George Lopez. Aside from a cheap latino joke, Sanchez handled himself very well and looked like he embraced the limelight. In nearly every interview I have seen with him he always speaks at length about his time in Pittsburgh. He talked about how much he enjoyed being a Pirate after Lopez took a shot at the club. Lopez’s main objective was to divert attention away from Pittsburgh to talk about Sanchez being a Los Angeles native. Nonetheless, it was a brilliant five minutes and hopefully people begin to relaize once again that a Freddy Sanchez type human being are a dime a dozen.

Another classy Giant has to be MVP Edgar Renteria.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for er.jpgRenteria turned down an offer from his native Columbia. His country had asked to throw a parade for him honoring his MLB achievements. He respectfully turned it down and asked the money, time and effort be put towards that of helping flood victims in the area.

The Giants may not be where they were this year, next year. It will be hard to forget the memories and characters from the improbable victory, though.

photo credits: sacbee.com, yahoo.com

Messin with Texas

 

bumgarner2.jpgI spent my Sunday night on my couch, eating popcorn, drinking chocolate milk and eatching TV.

Fellow 21 year old, Madison Bumgarner took his evening to the mound of Rangers Stadium and made it his own.

Bumgarner coasted through the Rangers’ lineup in game 4 en route to a 4-0 blanking thanks to his offense. Hs three hits over eight innings drew the nation’s attention as Bumgarner may have found his spot in the record books as one of the most dominant, youngest pitchers in any postseason.

Hard to believe we are the same age.

Although the Giants lost game 3 on Saturday, they were competitive.

Losing just 4-2 I still feel somewhat responsible because I did not watch the game due to Halloween festivities. I saw many clever costumes out and about, but this little guy in Texas may have taken the cake.

lilron.jpgLil Wash has taken the internet by storm and got his spot in the limelight Sunday with the play ball announcement. Camera crews surrounded him but I was totally impressed by the 7 year olds demeaner. He was enjoying it all.

Great attire and perfect humor. In a series that has drawn some of the lowest ratings in postseason history he provided a dash of entertainment.

Although I strongly disagree with the people who aren’t tuning in.

Developing right in front of us we are seeing a dynasty take place. Buster Posey joins Bumgarner as two of the most talented younger players in the game. Juan Uribe has revived himself and the outfield core is combining speed, power and chemistry.

The most exciting player of the series is non other than Freddy Sanchez.

 

 

freddyyyyy.jpgSanchez has been getting his uniform dirty, climbing the ladder and making plays. His inspired defense has been a sorce of energy for San Francisco.

His bat has been thunderous as well providing key hits out of the two-hole.

Game 5 takes place Tuesday night.

Eric Karros said whoever won Sunday will win it all.

Looks like the trophy is coming to the Bay Area

photocredits:athbaseball.com, deadspin.com, wltx.com

2 out lightning

 

 

caint.jpgPitching was going to be the dominant force in this series.

That was well documented.

Matt Cain breezed through the Rangers en route to a 9-0 beatdown.

It was Game 1 that was pictured as a pitches duel but when Cain faced off with C.J. Wilson. Both pitchers looke dominant until WIlson suffered a finger bruise and was forced to sit for the remainder of the contest.

That’s when it went downhill.

The heralded bullpen of Texas went haywire and surrendered seven runs. The wheels successfully fell off.

The left side of the infield was the saving grace for the Giants. Juan Uribe was the hero in game 1 and shorstop Edgar Renteria followed in game 2 with a solo shot to get San Francisco on the board in the fifth inning.

edgarsi.jpgHe’s been in this position before.

In 1997 he downed the Indians in Game 7 of the World Series with a sharp line drive that brought in Craig Counsel for the winning run.

I love a good walk-off and they just seem more special in the Series.

Renteria finished the game 2-for-4 with 3 RBI.

Nealry every Giant reached base and hero awards could be given to many players.

Aaron Rowand delievered a key, pinch-hit triple that brought in a pair of runs.

Uriber continued to contribute with a double that brought in two as well.

 

There is no doubt the game ball goes to Cain. He really is in line for playoff MVP after scorching through round by round. He has yet to give up a run.

That’s history book material.

Now not every event that occured by the bay tonight was good.

Freddy Sanchez laid an egg going 0-for-5. A horrific display after garnering four hits and three doubles the night before.

Despite the struggles he was featured in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette column by Ron Cook.

 

freddyhappy.jpgTranscribing the tribulations throughout his life Sanchez said playing major league baseball was a miracle. He was born with a foot deficiency and overcame the inability to walk, to play professional baseball. Cook concluded the article with a quote from Sanchez that brought tears to my eyes.  

“I just hope Pittsburgh gets to experience this one day.”

He hasn’t forgotten the little people!

photo credits: espn.com, mccoveychronicles.com, getty images

 

 

Happy Halladays to start the postseason

In a somewhat sarcastic way I proclaimed on October 5th that the Reds would not get a hit throughthe NLDS against the Philies.

 

halladay.jpgSo far so good huh.

There was not a better way to script the opening day of the postseason than the first playoff no hitter since Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1962.

So close to a perfect game too. Unbelievable. And to do it twice in one year simply baffles me. Just imagine if Roy Halladay happened to be out of Toronto for more of his career. He could possibly be one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball history. He still has a lot of gas in the tank and judging by this season alone he has punched his ticket to Cooperstown. A first ballot hall of famer in my book.

One game that may hold him out could very well be May 18, 2010.

He lost to the Pirates.

Zach Duke went toe-to-toe with the Philadelphia ace in a 2-1 ballgame where both pitchers
halladay1.jpg went the complete game. It was one of the most precise games the Pirates put together in 2010 and the best contest of Duke’s wretched year.

As I type this the game in Minnesota is going swimmingly well for the Twins. Something to say that I am pleased to see. Francisco Liriano is pitching masterfully.

Pitching has been a common theme when discussing the highs of the 2010 MLB season. So far it looks like the playoffs are going to be no exception. Cliff Lee shut down the Rays this afternoon. Halladay had a freaking no hitter. Liriano is coasting right now.

Tomorrow presents a new day with two similiar teams pinned against each other. It is sure to be anothers pitchers duel as Tim Lincecum faces Derek Lowe.

When it comes to picking a team to root for in the postseason, it hasn’t been the easiest thing. Last year I chose the Dodgers because of my good blogging friends Emma and Cat were so very kind to me. This season is a bit trickier, but not really. I am sticking with the NL West theme and will be adorning the orange and black.

 

sf.jpgI’ve always liked the logo and color scheme. The city is one of a kind. The ballpark blew me away. Besides those intangibles the Giants also offer something special for the playoff run, one of my favorite players of all time.

FREDDY.jpgFreddy Sanchez.

His time in Pittsburgh was headlined by a batting title in 2006 but what may have been overshadowed was his hospitality. Sanchez is a class act and was always a fan favorite. His work ethic and gritty glove work is topped only by his consistent bat. He is finally overcoming injuries that have haunted his whole career and he is showing he belongs in an everday lineup, especially on a contending team.

Nobody deserves the honor of winning games in the post season than Freddy Sanchez.

Go Giants!

photos: ap, yahoo.com

The streak ends with a mediocre contest

I had a checklist with two short requests heading into the 2010 season. The first was to have the Pirates finish the year with thier first winning season since 1992. With an All-Star break record of 30-58 that doesn’t look like a possibility now.

My other note was to have the National League dethrone the American League during the mid-summer classic. My NL boys did just that in last night’s 3-1 victory. Thanks to Brian McCann the Senior Circuit (why has the NL always been called the Senior Circuit? It’s not like the PGA Champions League) won thier first All-Star game since 1996. So check and mate on getting one of my two wishes granted.

mccanhit.jpg

The Brave’s catcher’s 3-run double provided the only relative excitment in an otherwise boring game. The only run scored by the AL was un earned.

Not only was this game excruciating to watch, it dissapointed me on two seperate levels.

First off the lone Pirates representative did not even sniff the field. Evan Meek was not even called on to warm up in the bullpen. This has been the second straight year a Pirate’s representative has not seen game action. Last year Freddy Sanchez and Zach Duke went to St. Louis and were held out of the lineup.
Thumbnail image for meek.jpg Manager Charlie Manuel led the NL squad both years and refused to play a Pirate. Now obviously nobody outside of myself and a handful of others around Pittsburgh cared to see Evan Meek play, but he dang well deserved to be in Anaheim. I still think Andrew McCutchen was the better choice but Meek is having an All-Star caliber year. His ERA is the lowest among MLB relievers. People criticize him because he is a no-name but team’s will be salivating to trade for him around the July 31st trade deadline. He is a nice guy who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Pirate’s Caravan event in the winter. If only Manuel wasn’t bitter at the fact the Pirates recently took 3 of 4 from his Philies he would have given Meek a shot to enjoy his first ever All-Star game.

My other pet peeve about last night can be summed up in two words-Ryan.Braun.

If anybody follows me on twitter I was very critical of my least favorite baseball player calling him out from the very beginning last night. He looked lost and the plate and missed an easy fly ball in right field, I blamed him for not hustling. However, it was Braun who got the last laugh as he pulled off a beauty of a diving catch a few innings later.

 

braun catch.jpgI do tip my cap to the pretty boy. It was a heckuva grab.

I had the pleasure of watching the game with family and good friends at Jerome Bettis Grille in Pittsburgh. It is one of my favorite eateries and bars in the Steel City and reccommed the food and atmosphere to any one passing by.

There my dad, brother and friends Andrew and Ed watched the 81st mid summer classic. We basically stayed until the game was over and the bar shut down at midnight. We anticipated the start as we were anxious in our seats but the real spectacle came in our attire.

nlbeeral.jpgOn our Spring Break trip to Cooperstown Andrew and I purchased these old umpire hats with the respective leagues on them. We had a friendly competition as I cheered for the National League and Andrew, being a Yankee fan wore his American League emblem proudly.

We were a loud and rambunctious bunch watching the game, seeming to be the only ones in the joint that cared. I was the only one to stand and cheer for Meek when he was introduced. My brother, Zach, answered the pre-game trivia question.The bartender asked who was is the Pirates representative? After crickets sounded Zach went up and won himself a free t-shirt.

With the All-Star break nearing an end the second half brings anticipation and hop for a more successful age of this Pirates Generation. While the Pirates are hosting the Astros this weekend my family and I will be on vacation in the Sunshine State of Florida.

AP Photos 

 

Sanchez? Who is Sanchez?

If you are one of my good buddies reading this you will know where I am coming from with that title. If you are not, I will briefly explain.

The year was 2006 and my family and I were on a trip to Washington, D.C. On this one specific day we visited the U.S. Mint. Now I can’t say I remember too much about our tour of the mint but one moment will surely stick out for many years, and it has.

sanchez.jpgI was wearing my Freddy Sanchez All-Star T-Shirt. No big deal right?

But to Julio Martinez, the Mint security guard, it was.

“Sanchez!?! Who is Sanchez?” he excalims to me.

After I explain who the Pittsburgh second baseman was he showed a slight grin and hinted that he hopes to hear more about the solid player. Some four years later I hope he has had his fill of Freddy.

Now that wasn;t the best story in world but shoot it is in my circle of family and friends, we always get a laugh out of it.

While Sanchez’s career in Pittsburgh is over, he has began to make his mark in San Francisco. After battling through injuries at the end of last season after being traded to beginning this season on the disabled list Sanchez has started to turn things around.

After going 3-for-4 against the Pirates Friday night he continued to have a big series and drove in the winning run on Sunday, a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning.

Sanchez is now batting .371 although he has appeared in just 17 games. He was said to have started to wind down in his carrer but still has that knack at the plate. I feel he will be swinging strongly for quite sometime.

 

sanchez1.jpgThere may not be a classier ballplayer than Freddy Sanchez. In interviews after the trade that send him to San Francisco in exchange for minor league pitcher Tim Alderson, Sanchez has been nothing but respectful of his former city and club.

. The way the fans treated me was just awesome,” Sanchez told Post Gazette reporter Dejan Kovacevic, “I can’t wait to be back there and play in that stadium again.”

He recieved loud ovation this weekend and rightfully so, he earned it. While it may have been dissapointing, yet fitting, that he drove in the winning run to break open a 5-5 tie on Sunday what he did the day before is entirely admirable.

After donating much more $50,000 dollars to Western Pennsylvania Charities and other outlets to build baseball fields for special needs children, Sanchez and his family showed up at one of those fields to play ball with those kids. The Post-Gazette and USA Today have picked up on this story and I am sure we will be hearing more of it. Sanchez the humanitarian is a fitting nickname that will stick because of his strong willed attributes. 

How many players, scratch that, how many visiting team players would do that the afternoon before a game, let alone the day after playing a game that did not start until ten o’clock and probably did not finsih until almost 1 a.m.

Sanchez enjoyed his time in Pittsburgh. He was a loser only because of his team’s win-loss
Thumbnail image for 21.jpg record but still through all of it remianed a good sport and wanted to be in the Steel City. He has taken the high road by only talking about the good of Pittsburgh and wanting to come back. Players such as Nate McLouth, Adam LaRoche, Eric Hinske, Sean Burnett and other who have recently been traded have come right out and said they were happy to move on. To quote Frank Sinatra, Sanchez’s vagabond shoes were longing to stray, just not in New York City, but in Pittsburgh, Pa. He now reps the number 21. A shoutout to Clemente and Pittsburgh? Maybe.

photo credits: fansedge.com, postgazette.com, bayareasportsguy.com