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Dec. 17, 2013

Cabrera, McCutchen Win MVP’s

Robinson Cano Signs with Seattle World Series Champion 2014 Prediction Home Plate Collisions a Thing of the Past?

By Blake Hildebrand


Index Who’s Going to Win the World Series Next Year?.................Page 3 Cabrera, McCutchen Win MVP’s………………………………………..Page 4 Robinson Cano Signs with Seattle……………………………………...Page 6

MLB Votes to Eliminate Home Plate Collisions…………………...Page 8 How to Throw a Knuckleball…………………………………………….Page 10 Joe Mauer Moves to First Base….………………………………….…Page 12 Word Search…………………………………………………………………….Page 13

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Who’s Going to Win the World Series Next Year? This past fall, the Boston Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 4 games to 2 to capture the World Series title. The Red Sox had a great and eventful season, but I don’t think they have what it takes to win back to back titles, so who is going to win next year? I think that the Oakland A’s are in line to win the World Series next October. This past year, they won the American League West division with a 96-66 record and played the Detroit Tigers in the first round of the playoffs, the American League Division Series. Their season ended too soon for their liking though, losing the series 3 games to 2.

biggest division rival, the Texas Rangers. The Rangers have also found success in recent years, making it to the World Series two years in a row in 2010-2011, but never winning it. Texas has also made some big trades, like getting all-star first baseman Prince Fielder from the Detroit Tigers, but I still think that Oakland has the stronger, more rounded out team.

With these additions and lots of success in recent years, I think the A’s have what it takes to go all the way in 2014. The A’s have a bright future ahead of them and are a force to be reckoned with. I also think that even though there are many other strong teams with really good players, like the Texas Rangers, I Since then, the A’s have made some still believe that the A’s have a slight key acquisitions, signing free agent edge on other teams. pitcher Scott Kazmir to a two-year deal and trading for all-star closer Jim Johnson, to name a few. These moves already make the A’s better than they were last year, giving them another reliable starter and a consistent guy to come out of the bullpen. Oakland also has a great mix of young and experienced players, which is key for a team to be successful. To me, the main obstacle in the A’s way to winning the World Series is their Page 3


Cabrera, McCutchen Win MVP’s All those who marvel at Miguel Cabrera can only wonder what he might have done this year if completely healthy.

McCutchen drew 28 of the 30 first-place votes to finish far ahead of Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina.

Even so, Cabrera was a huge hit in Motown.

"I'm floating right now," McCutchen said in Pittsburgh. "But I definitely didn't expect it to be a Despite being hobbled by all sorts of ailments, the Detroit Tigers slugger won his second straight landslide with those other guys -- Goldschmidt and Molina. They were great candidates, and I American League Most Valuable Player award didn't know what to expect." Thursday, once again beating Angel’s outfielder Mike Trout by a comfortable margin. McCutchen ranked among the NL leaders by hitting .317 with 21 home runs and 84 RBIs. He A season after winning baseball's first Triple Crown in 45 years, Cabrera came back to lead the also scored 97 runs, stole 27 bases and had a .404 majors in hitting at .348 and finish second with 44 on-base percentage. home runs and 137 RBIs.

The 27-year-old with the long, flowing dreadlocks "I think this year was tougher because of the inju- helped the Pirates stop a record streak of 20 losries," he said on a conference call from the Miami ing seasons and make the playoffs for the first time since 1992. area. "It was the last two months. It was tough to play through it," he said. The eight-time All-Star missed several games after the break because of a bad back, a sore left hip flexor, a strained lower abdomen, shin trouble and a groin tear. He recently had surgery to fix the tear and said he'll be ready for spring training.

Cabrera finished with 385 points, while Trout got five first-place votes and 282 points. The difference was 81 points last season, when Trout was AL rookie of the year. Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis, who led the majors with 53 homers and 138 RBIs, was third. "I think all three guys deserve this trophy," Cabrera said.

Still, Cabrera got 23 of 30 first-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He became the first player to win consecutive AL MVPs since Frank Thomas for the Chicago White Sox in 1993 and 1994.

Davis and Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson each received a first-place vote.

Pirate’s center fielder Andrew McCutchen took the National League MVP award by a surprisingly wide margin after leading a baseball revival in Pittsburgh.

No AL player has won three straight MVPs. Albert Pujols was the last repeat NL MVP winner in 2008 and 2009; Barry Bonds took four straight from 2001 to '04.

Cabrera took his third AL batting title in a row. He also drew a $1 million bonus for winning a second MVP during his current contract with the Tigers.

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The Tigers have virtually owned the major postseason awards during a three-year run of success. Justin Verlander was the MVP and Cy Young winner in 2011, Cabrera took the MVP last season, and Detroit ace Max Scherzer won this year's Cy Young Award on Wednesday.

career saves leader Mariano Rivera.

"I'm on the right team," Cabrera said.

Cabrera had bedeviled the Yankees before. As a 20year-old rookie, he helped the Marlins beat New York in the 2003 World Series.

The 30-year-old third baseman from Venezuela also captured the AL MVP last year when he hit .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBIs. Cabrera topped Trout 22-6 in first-place votes in that balloting.

His shot in the opener was the most impressive, even though Detroit eventually lost. After fouling two balls off his left shin, Cabrera was having trouble standing in the batter's box when he tagged Rivera for a tying, two-run drive with two outs in the ninth inning.

McCutchen, third in MVP balloting last season, got 409 points. Goldschmidt finished second with 242, while Molina received the other two first-place votes and came in third.

Trout hit .323 with 27 homers and 97 RBIs this year, stole 33 bases, and led the AL in runs and walks. Cabrera clearly was baseball's most dominant hitter for most of the season as the Tigers won their third straight AL Central crown. Voting for the BBWAA awards was done before the playoffs. Cabrera hit .262 with two homers and seven RBIs in 11 postseason games, and made a couple of key outs in Detroit's six-game loss to Boston in the AL Championship Series.

McCutchen's win came two days after Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was picked as the NL manager of the year. McCutchen was the first Pittsburgh player to win the MVP since Bonds in 1992. The Pirates went 94-68 this year, a season after going 79-83. Along the way, McCutchen became the face of the franchise and heard loud "MVP!" chants when he would step to the plate at PNC Park this summer.

Cabrera was in contention for a second straight Triple Crown for much of the year, and was hitting .359 with 43 homers and 130 RBIs through Aug. 26. But he managed only two extra-base hits in his next 25 games through the end of the regular season.

"I'd lie to you if I said it didn't enter my mind ever," he said. "It's awesome to hear something like that."

Cabrera said he didn't think rest would have helped heal his injuries near the end.

Boston wound up beating St. Louis in the World Series. No one on the Red Sox or Cardinals won any of the major BBWAA awards.

Instead, he took a different approach: "OK, let's play through it and see what happens," he said.

Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati in the NL wild-card game, and then lost to St. Louis in a division series that went the full five games.

Cabrera still became the first right-handed hitter to win three straight batting titles in either league since Rogers Hornsby from 1920 to '25. Cabrera also kept amazing his teammates with his prowess at the plate.

http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/9977377/miguel-cabrera-detroit-tigersandrew-mccutchen-pittsburgh-pirates-win-mlb-mvps

In mid-August, he homered in all three games of a series at Yankee Stadium, twice connecting off Page

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Robinson Cano Signs with Seattle Robinson Cano, this year’s most sought after free agent, has signed a 10 year deal worth $240 million with the Seattle Mariners. This contract is tied with Albert Pujols for the third largest contract ever with the other two larger contracts both going to Alex Rodriguez.

takes to go all the way, because in 2009, his Yankees team won the World Series. His veteran presence in the clubhouse everyday will make a difference to the Mariners, who have a lot of young, developing ballplayers.

Cano immediately boosts the Seattle Mariners in every aspect, especially offensively, which is where the Mariners have struggled the most in recent years. Cano has been one of the most consistent players in the MLB since getting the starting second base role with the Yankees in 2007. He has only missed 14 games in the past six seasons, which has allowed him to make four all-star teams and average 25 homers, 100 RBI’s (runs batted in), and a .305 batting average.

Angels in the 2011 offseason. In his first season with the Angels, he had similar production to what he had before he signed his big contract, but last year, he had a significantly lower batting average. Pujols is also already showing signs of aging because he was out for 63 games last season because of injuries.

Cano also loves the fact that the Seattle Cano’s old team, the New York Yankees, Mariners have treated him just like family ever offered Cano a contract of around seven years since they started negotiating a contract. "I and $170 million, but Cano and his agent, rap- can't explain how happy I am right now," he per Jay-Z, decided to turn said. "Not because of the down the offer. One main contract, but just the way reason why he turned down I've been embraced here by this generous was because the Mariners organization." of the amount of years he Despite Cano being great on was getting. "I was looking and off the field, players that for a contract where I would have gotten similar deals at a just be able to play and fosimilar age have not panned cus on the game and wouldn't wonder when out. One example of this is Albert Pujols. PuI'm 37, 38 would I have a job one day. Would I jols signed an identical contract to Cano, 10 be able to play?" years and $240 million, with the Los Angeles

Robinson Cano also knows what it

Long deals like this are always going to involve lots of risk, but if Cano can stay healthy and produce for even 6-7 years of his contract and bring leadership to a young team will make this deal worth every penny.

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MLB Votes to Eliminate Home Plate Collisions A busy day of meetings that will result in significant differences in the way baseball games will be governed on the field was capped off Wednesday with an announcement that the Playing Rules Committee has voted overwhelmingly to outlaw home-plate collisions between runners and catchers.

as other sports. So that's part of the impetus for this rule change as well." Alderson admitted that drafting language that will be practical and effective won't be a simple task.

"There are college and high school rules currently that address this issue," Alderson said. "It has to do with a That followed a morning meeting at which managers number of different things: Positioning, intent, a variand general managers were briefed on the proposal ety of things that we are going to look at. Umpires will for expanded instant replay, which could end up look- have some discretion, but at the same time, umpires ing much different from what was being discussed have other things to do, deciding whether the run just weeks ago at the last Owners Meetings. scores or doesn't score. The decision to eliminate collisions didn't become a "So it's a little more complicated than it would apserious topic of conversation until last month at the pear," he said. "But I think ultimately what we want General Managers Meetings, but the idea quickly to do is change the culture of acceptance that these caught fire. Managers Mike Matheny of the Cardinals plays are ordinary and routine and an accepted part and Bruce Bochy of the Giants, both former catchers, of the game, that the risks and individual risks, the led the push. Both spoke on the subject and others in costs associated in terms of health and injury just no attendance were asked for their input before the longer warrant the status quo. measure was passed. "So the actual detail, frankly the kinds of plays that The exact language of the new rule has not been we're trying to eliminate, we haven't finally deterwritten. The final draft will be approved by the Rules mined. But what I would expect is to put together 100 Committee and then submitted for a vote at the next of these plays and identify which ones we want to quarterly Owners Meetings in January. Finally, it must continue to allow and others that we want to prohibit be approved by the Major League Baseball Players and draft a rule accordingly." Association. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, Enforcement will be two-fold. A runner who is chairman of the committee, is confident all that can deemed to have intentionally run over the catcher be accomplished before the 2014 season opens. may be called out, for example, even if he touches The primary consideration is player safety. the plate without being tagged. There can also be fur"This is, I think, in answer to a few issues that have ther penalties in terms of fines and ejections. arisen," Alderson said on the last full day of the annu- The owners are also expected to vote on expanded al Winter Meetings. "One is just the general occurreplay, including a manager challenge system, in Janurence of injuries from these incidents that affected ary after approving funding for the program in Noplayers, both runners and catchers. And also kind of vember. But after the briefing, several managers indithe general concern about concussions that exists not cated that what they were told was far different from only in baseball but throughout professional sports what was being discussed at the GM Meetings. and amateur sports today. It's an emerging issue, and one that we in baseball have to address as well Continued on next page

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"It's changing every day," one manager said.

see no challenges through the course of the ballgame. We have to be realistic, but the fewer, the better. Right MLB executive vice president for baseball operations now, I think our take on it is we've missed like one call Joe Torre, however, downplayed that angle. every 5.7 or 5.8 games. The fact is that there is nothing "The fact of the matter is we still have [to receive apinsignificant about any play that happens during the proval from the MLBPA and umpires union], so there is course of a game, because it can turn into something really nothing that is in stone at this point in time," Tor- big. re said. "But I thought it was a good opportunity to give "We just sort of planted some seeds today on some of the managers a little head's up, and especially the fact our thinking, on how we're thinking," Torre said. "As far that the next time we see them it will be Spring Trainas how many challenges, you know the fewer the better ing, just give them something to think about, and to let for me. Because it is probably easier to increase later as them call us with any questions or suggestions. opposed to pulling back, because the game would suffer "So it certainly wasn't a meeting where we said, 'This is if I think we've had too many of those." the way it's going to be,' Torre said. "It was basically, One thing that remains unchanged is that the replays 'This is where we are right now,' and I really don't want will be viewed and a decision made at MLB Advanced to go into it only because it may not be the same thing Media headquarters in New York. we start the season with. We have a pretty good idea of where we want to be, but, again, we still have to wait From the beginning, Torre has been mindful of how all for the unions to sign off." of this will impact the pace of play. As recently as last month, Torre was talking about ways to keep managers from stalling to allow a coach or press box employee to look at replays and give a signal whether or not he should appeal. Multiple managers were under the impression Wednesday, however, that not only would they be allowed to get electronic help, but that they had been told it would be available within 10 seconds and that each ballpark would have equal access to a monitor from either dugout. Asked specifically about that point, Torre didn't deny it, but added: "It's just that we've talked about a lot of stuff. The one thing in this process that our goal is to make everything uniform for all the teams. So you have a road team and a home team, we are making sure that that home team is not going to have an advantage over the road team. ... We plan on having the technology standardized for everybody."

"The game is the most important thing," Torre said. "I know we have technology. We can't ignore it. But we certainly don't want to affect the rhythm of the game. Our sport is a little different than other sports. We don't have the built-in timeouts that other sports have where they can do stuff. And we're trying to make sense of what we can do without interfering, and what is important for us." Torre remains confident that expanded replay, which was tested in the Arizona Fall League, can be implemented in time for the upcoming season despite the numbers of wrinkles that still need to be ironed out.

"I think it can come together very quickly," Torre said. "We're certainly not going to force something if we're not ready to do it the right way. We're pretty confident we can do it with the six or seven weeks of Spring Training and that will be our practice ground both in Florida The managers were also under the impression that they and Arizona. I think we'll be in pretty good shape by that would be given just one challenge per game, but would time. But they're just loose ends not tied up. It's not like we're all over the place." get another if their first was upheld. "Umpires are my responsibility," Torre said. "I'd like to

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http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/mlb-rules-committee-votes -to-end-home-plate-collisions? ymd=20131211&content_id=64598138&vkey=news_mlb


How to Throw a Knuckleball The knuckleball is a pitch that when thrown, the ball has little or no spin. Knuckleballs, when thrown correctly, can be the hardest pitch to hit and can get a pitcher a bunch of strikeouts. Not very many professional baseball players throw them anymore, mainly because it is hard to master the pitch and the catcher has a hard time getting in front of the ball because of all the movement. Some successful pitchers to throw them are R.A. Dickey, Tim Wakefield, and Phil Niekro. Here are some tips on how you can learn to master the knuckleball.

fingers out so that there is less spin on the ball. Some good ways to practice the knuckleball is to while playing catch with your buddy, use the knuckleball grip every time you throw it back to him. Also, if your team is having a batting practice, throw them some knuckleballs and ask them how much it is moving and spinning.

Don’t get frustrated if your knuckleball doesn’t work very well right away. Most people practice the pitch for a year or two before they will even throw The first step is to grip the baseball it in a game. If you follow these tips and by digging your fingernails into the ball, tricks, you will have a good place to start excluding your thumb and pinky fingers. to learn to throw that perfect knuckleIt can be anywhere on the ball because ball. the air resistance is what makes the ball move, not the seam location. Put your thumb and pinky on each side of the ball, supporting it. Let the rest of the ball rest against the palm of your hand, otherwise you won’t get any speed behind it. Once you have done that, you are ready to throw the pitch. When you release the ball, you want to push your Page 10


Joe Mauer Moves to First Base On November 11, the Minnesota Twins announced that Joe Mauer will permanently move from catcher to first base. Mauer, who has played catcher for his whole career, agreed with the general manager’s decision to move him to first base.

fairly well.

The Twins still aren’t exactly sure who is going to replace Mauer behind the plate, but it is likely that rookie Josmil Pinto will step into the starting catcher role. Pinto got called up to the MLB in September and impressed everyMauer responded by saying, "I kept one by how well he played. In 21 games, Pinto searching to see if it was going to be OK, if it had a .342 batting average and had four homwas going to be safe for me to go back there ers and 12 runs batted in. Pinto is expected to and catch and I just wasn't finding that." be the catcher of the future for the Twins, but Mauer received yet another concussion they feel like he could use one more year for in August 2013 and finished the season on the development. disabled list. The last couple of years, he has Mauer is expected to make a smooth transition to his new position and should see had multiple concussions which has caused slight increases in his offensive numbers behim to play much less games. cause of his hand not getting pounded by He also added, "All it could take is one pitches every game. The next couple of years foul tip in pitcher's batting practice, and I'm should be exciting for the Twins franchise to out for two or three months or even more." see what else they can do to make their team Despite his recent injuries, Mauer has better. still made the American League all-star team in three of the last four seasons, only missing the team in 2011. This last season, along with being voted as the starting catcher for the allstar game, Mauer also won the silver slugger award, which is given to the top offensive player at each position. Joe will be replacing Justin Morneau at first base, who played the position for the Twins since 2005 but was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in August. Morneau had lots of problems with concussions as well but has started to stay healthy and has played Page 12


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