Sunday, October 23, 2016

David Ortiz Leaves Behind Best Legacy with Boston Red Sox

The illustrious career of the Boston Red Sox’s David Ortiz has come to a close. Given what he has meant to one of the flagship franchises of Major League Baseball for the past 14 years, his departure will create a crated-sized void. He will leave behind quite the legacy; one that had never been seen before and will never be seen again.

Getting it out of the way right off the bat, Ortiz is a Hall-of-Famer and nothing can be said to change my mind of that opinion. There is no need to go over the numbers, as they are not only impressive but have been reviewed with microscopic precision by many before me. People can pick at his record and how it compares to others all they want. They can point to the vast majority of his career being spent as a designated hitter. However, taking his entire body of work, both on and off the field, there is no way he can be denied baseball’s ultimate honor.

As someone who saw most of Ortiz’s games in a Boston uniform over the years, I can say with confidence that he is the most important player I ever saw don a Red Sox uniform. It goes well beyond his statistics. He was an integral part of three teams that won the World Series, including the memorable 2004 squad that took the title 86 years after the team had won its last championship. His gregarious personality and leadership not only defined those teams but also served as a connecting link to the trophies that were won over the span of a decade. The Red Sox probably have had more talented players in their past, such as Babe Ruth and Ted Williams, but none have combined results on the field and in the community with success quite like Ortiz has.

With the admission that the “clutch-ness” of a baseball player cannot possibly be measured, Ortiz has over and over again passed the eye test that can be given. It’s not just his .455 batting average and 1.372 OPS in 14 career World Series games, it’s the countless times he came through when the odds were long and the pressure high. Perhaps no moment was more memorable than the game-tying grand slam he hit in Game 2 of the 2013 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers, which occurred when the team was struggling to scratch out base hits let alone score runs.

Ortiz wasn’t perfect. His much-discussed alleged failed PED test in 2003 has long cast a cloud on his otherwise pristine career. Although he has never been proven to have taken steroids, the suspicion has lingered ever since. However, Commissioner Rob Manfred recently indicated that there is no reason to believe the validity of the test.

Ortiz’s passion also sometime led him to taking things to debatably appropriate lengths, such as arguing a scorer’s decision after a game, or making it known that he was not pleased with the status of his contract. However, at the end of the day, he was human and always represented the Red Sox and the city of Boston to the best of his abilities.

Ortiz would be eternally memorable simply for his feats on the field. His “Big Papi” persona only makes him all the more unforgettable. Adored by adults and children alike, he inspired commercials and Saturday Night Live bits that brought him to a more national and international stage. He used that extended reach to do myriad charitable work, and was best known for his ability to touch the lives of kids.

There is no doubt that Ortiz has left an indelible legacy now that his 2016 season has come to an end. The 40-year-old slugger has provided Boston fans with 14 years of success and amazing memories. Fittingly, he is going out just as strong and productive as when he first joined the team in 2003. It seems like he could play forever but all good things must come to an end. David Ortiz was the best and he has decided it is his time to walk away—a decision he earned the right to make many times over.

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Don Larsen's Perfect Game: Recalling the Pitching Gem On Its 60th Anniversary

Yesterday marked the 60th anniversary of one of baseball’s most cherished feats. On October 8th, 1956, New York Yankees starting pitcher Don Larsen threw the first and only perfect game in the history of the World Series (and playoffs). Not only is it one of the major gold standards in the sport, it also still captivates fans as much today as it did six decades ago.

The right-hander’s perfect came in Game 5 at Yankee Stadium against the Brooklyn Dodgers, giving the Bronx Bombers a 3-2 Series lead. They ultimately took the championship two days later in the 7th and deciding game. Here are some interesting facts about Larsen and his perfect game.

-Larsen beat tough veteran hurler Sal Maglie, 2-0. The Dodgers pitcher was no slouch himself, as he permitted just five hits and pitched a complete game in taking the hard-luck loss.

-Yankees center fielder Mickey Mantle accounted for the first run by hitting a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Right fielder Hank Bauer drove in third baseman Andy Carey with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth to cap the scoring.

-Although Larsen had a great regular season in 1956 (11-5 with a 3.26 ERA in 38 games), the 26-year-old had previously endured much rockier times. In his first two seasons (1953-54), which were spent with the St. Louis Browns/Baltimore Orioles, he was a combined 10-33 with a 4.27 ERA and a 176/153 strikeout/walk ratio.

-In 1954, Larsen had one of the most futile seasons to ever go on record for a pitcher. In 29 games with the Orioles, he was a ghastly 3-21 with a 4.37 ERA. Naturally, two of his three victories were against the Yankees.

-The perfect game ended what had been a horrendous start to Larsen’s World Series career. In his first two games, spanning 5.2 innings and two Series, he had permitted six walks and nine runs. He had started Game 2 of the 1956 Series but was knocked out after allowing four runs and four walks after just 1.2 innings.

-The perfect game came against a lineup that wasn’t exactly a tomato can. The Dodgers boasted four hitters who went on to be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame- Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Duke Snider and Pee Wee Reese. A fifth, Gil Hodges, has just missed out in previous appearances on ballots.

-Larsen struck out the first two batters (Jim Gilliam and Reese) looking.

-Maglie struck out his final three batters of the game swinging.

-Only one Dodgers batter (Reese in the first inning) was able to get as many as three balls in any one count during the game.

-The final out of the game came when Larsen caught pinch-hitter Dale Mitchell looking for his seventh punch out of the day. He was an unusual hitter for such an ending, as the left-handed swinger had one of the most discerning eyes in baseball history, resulting in just 119 strikeouts in 4,358 regular season major league plate appearances. It was also the only time he struck out in 32 career postseason trips to the dish.

-The game was the final time home plate umpire’s Babe Pinelli’s called a game. Although he umpired in the field during the remainder of the Series, he retired after Game 7, following 22 years as an arbiter and another 16 spent as a professional player.

-Making Larsen’s laser focus even more impressive is the fact that his then-wife Vivian filed for divorce prior to the game.

-Future legendary Yankees manager Joe Torre attended the game, watching as a 16-year-old from the left field bleachers.

-The final two games of the Series were both shutouts, as the Dodgers took Game 6 1-0 and the Yankees won the clincher in a 9-0 laugher.

-Larsen pitched for another 10 years in the majors after his perfect game. However, it was with the Yankees and six other teams, and he only once won as many as 10 games in a season again.

-Larsen’s next appearance on a mound came on April 20, 1957, against the Boston Red Sox. His start lasted just 1.1 innings, as five hits, a walk and four runs knocked him out (which was won by the Yankees, 10-7).

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Esurance and Minor League Baseball Recognize September Call-Up Worthy Players

SAN FRANCISCO, CA and ST. PETERSBURG, FL--(Marketwired - October 03, 2016

With the Major League Baseball postseason beginning tomorrow, Esurance and Minor League Baseball (MiLB) today announced the inaugural class of Esurance September Call-Ups. A total of 46 players were called up this September, including top prospects Yoan Moncada, Jose De Leon and Gavin Cecchini.

The 2016 Esurance September Call-Ups included the following players:
Date Player Position Team
9/1 Destin Hood OF MIA
9/1 Ty Blach LHP SF
9/1 Jed Bradley LHP ATL
9/1 Juan Minaya RHP CSW
9/2 Brady Rodgers RHP HOU
9/2 Hunter Dozier 3B KC
9/2 Jonathan Holder RHP NYY
9/2 Matt Dermody LHP TOR
9/2 Raimel Tapia OF COL
9/2 Robby Scott LHP BOS
9/2 Wandy Peralta LHP CIN
9/2 Yoan Moncada 2B BOS
9/2 Yohander Mendez LHP TEX
9/3 Joe Mantiply LHP DET
9/3 Kyle Jensen 1B ARI
9/4 Carson Kelly C STL
9/4 Jose De Leon RHP LAD
9/5 Raul Alcantara RHP OAK
9/6 Blake Smith RHP CWS
9/6 David Paulino RHP HOU
9/6 Gavin Cecchini SS NYM
9/6 German Marquez RHP COL
9/6 James Beresford 3B MIN
9/6 Jordan Patterson OF COL
9/6 Jose Martinez OF STL
9/6 Kevin McCarthy RHP KC
9/6 Matt Koch RHP ARI
9/6 Pat Valaika SS COL
9/6 Trevor Williams RHP PIT
9/7 Jake Smith RHP SD
9/7 Jharel Cotton RHP OAK
9/10 Joely Rodriguez LHP PHI
9/11 Roman Quinn OF PHI
9/12 Daniel Vogelbach 1B SEA
9/12 Matt Olson OF OAK
9/12 Renato Nunez 3B OAK
9/17 Rio Ruiz 3B ATL
9/18 Trey Mancini 1B BAL
9/20 Adam Plutko RHP CLE
9/21 Hunter Renfroe OF SD
9/21 Manuel Margot OF SD
9/21 Carlos Asuaje 2B SD
9/21 Jose Torres LHP SD
9/22 Juniel Querecuto 3B TB
9/27 Spencer Kieboom C WSH
9/27 Chris Smith RHP TOR
This season, Minor League Baseball and Esurance created the Esurance Call-Up Worthy platform, which launched exclusively on and MiLB team websites in June. The new, modern platform celebrated the iconic moment in Minor League Baseball when a player is called up to Major League Baseball, highlighting his journey through shareable digital and social content such as virtual trading cards, video highlights and the Esurance Farm Report.

"It's been a fantastic first year for Esurance Call-Up Worthy players and their fans as they've followed the players' journey online and on the field," said Cyndie Beckwith, Vice President, Marketing for Esurance. "We've celebrated 152 players being called up this season, re-living their most memorable moments together, and we continue to recognize more prospects as they make their first Major League appearance this September."

"The September call-up has long been a pivotal moment in a player's career, marking a coming of age of sorts," said David Wright, Chief Marketing & Commercial Officer for Minor League Baseball. "Through the Esurance Call-Up Worthy platform, we celebrate these prospects in their quest to make a big-time impact with their Major League teams."

In June, Esurance and Minor League Baseball announced a strategic multi-year partnership making it the exclusive home and auto insurance partner of Minor League Baseball. To learn more about Esurance's Call-Up Worthy campaign with Minor League Baseball, visit

About Minor League Baseball
Minor League Baseball, headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida, is the governing body for all professional baseball teams in the United States, Canada, and the Dominican Republic that are affiliated with Major League Baseball® clubs through their farm systems. Fans are coming out in unprecedented numbers to this one-of-a-kind experience that can only be found at Minor League Baseball ballparks. In 2015, Minor League Baseball attracted 42.5 million fans to its ballparks to see the future stars of the sport hone their skills. From the electricity in the stands to the excitement on the field, Minor League Baseball has provided affordable family-friendly entertainment to people of all ages since its founding in 1901. For more information, visit

Follow Minor League Baseball on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

About Esurance®
Esurance, insurance for the modern world®, provides auto, homeowners, motorcycle, and renters insurance direct to consumers online, over the phone, and through select agents. With an easy-to-use mobile app, helpful online tools like photo claims and Coverage Counselor®, and knowledgeable experts available around the clock, Esurance is the smart choice for today's web-savvy consumer. And as a member of the Allstate family with an A+ rating from A.M. Best, Esurance offers auto and home insurance anytime with service just a click, call, or tap away. For more information, visit or call 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262).

Follow Esurance on the Esurance BlogFacebookTwitter, and YouTube.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Jair Bogaerts: Former Boston Red Sox Prospect Talks Baseball and Brother Xander

In shortstop Xander Bogaerts, the Boston Red Sox have one of the most exciting young players in baseball. The native of Aruba has blossomed into a true star, showing five-tool talent and still clocking in at the tender age of 24. Although some fans may not realize it, not that long ago, the team was fortunate enough to have two Bogaerts in their organization, with Xander’s (fraternal) twin brother Jair making up the other half of the tandem.

Jair and Xander signed with the Red Sox at the same time as 16-year-olds in 2009. With a bigger build than his brother, Jair was a catcher and first baseman. A right-handed batter, he made his professional debut in 2010 with the organization’s Dominican Summer League team, hitting a disappointing .170 with two home runs and 20 RBIs in 46 games. However, he rebounded the following year as an 18-year-old, producing a .280 batting average, two homers and 27 RBIs for the same team.

Although such strong results should have jump-started his track with Boston, he was instead sent to the Chicago Cubs as part of a deal that relocated current Chicago team president Theo Epstein from Beantown. Shockingly, he was released before he ever played a game in the Chicago system. He wound up trying out for a number of other teams but never found a taker.

Fortunately, the tide has turned for Bogaerts and he has found a new path that has kept him in baseball. He is currently working for the Beverly Hills Sports Council and one of their top agents, Rafa Nieves. Still just 24, he has gone from being a baseball prospect to an ingénue in the competitive and high-octane world of sports agents. He has taken a different path than he may have originally thought he would be on, but his future remains as promising as ever. Keep reading for his thoughts on his career and that of his brother.

Who was your favorite baseball team and player growing up, and why?: Growing up I was a big Atlanta Braves fan because of Andruw Jones. Almost every kid on the island of Curacao and Aruba idolized Andruw Jones growing up; he was the big thing.

How big is baseball in Aruba, and how did you get interested in playing?: Soccer is the first sport in Aruba and then it’s baseball. Baseball always gave better results internationally than Soccer. Our uncles played baseball in their younger days and were really good, so that’s how we got introduced to baseball. We are definitely a baseball family.

You and your brother Xander both signed with the Red Sox when you were 16. What did you two do to celebrate that once everything was final and it was clear you were going to play professionally?: We signed at Fenway Park and that was very special for us being 16-year-olds and becoming part of the Red Sox. We had our families there and we enjoyed our first Red Sox game.

If you could do one thing about your playing career differently, what would that be and why?: I wouldn’t do anything different; just would have hoped for a fair chance after being traded. That’s all.

How do you feel about what Xander has been able to accomplish with the Red Sox?: I’m as proud as anyone can be. I’m definitely his number one fan and always in his corner since day one. He's had an awesome career leading up to the majors and it was just a matter of time to see him become the everyday shortstop of the Red Sox. Now seeing him become this great player at such a high level, being mentioned with the great players of today; it’s special man. Words can’t describe the feeling about how proud I am of that kid. He works hard and it’s definitely paying off.

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