A move that should surprise very few occurred today.  The Philadelphia Phillies nearing the end of their first losing season since 2002 decided to fire manager Charlie Manuel and replace him on an interim basis with MLB Hall of Famer Ryne Sanberg.

Manuel leaves the Phillies as the winingest manager in franchise history and is one of only two men to deliver a World Series title to Philadelphia.  His termination could be the first of many big moves for a team that is clearly in rebuild mode.

Although the Phillies were not expected to be title contenders this season, many experts didn’t see this level of futility coming.  After entering this years all-star on a hot streak, the team has imploded since then winning only one series since the break.  The team now sits 20.5 games out behind division leader Atlanta in the NL East.

Ryne Sandberg will now have the last few weeks of 2013 season to prove he is ready to manage long term.

MLB First Half Awards

The first half of the season is in the books and there were many great teams, players and moments. I will hand out  awards for best and worst team, AL and NL MVP’s, CY Young’s, Rookies and and Managers of the first half. We can only hope the second half lives up to the excitement we had for the first three months.

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Oakland A’s Yoenis Cespedes wins 2013 MLB Home Run Derby

In what most would consider a surprising result Oakland Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes defeated Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper 9-8 in the final round to win the 2013 MLB Home Run Derby.

ImageWith the victory Cespedes became the first player not selected to the All-Star team to win the Derby, he was also the last addition to the field after Detroit Tigers MVP Miguel Carbera turned down a spot due to a sore back.

The competition this year was fierce, but Cespedes set the pace for the night early when he bashed 17 home runs in Round 1, and eventually hit 32 home runs overall tied for third most all-time during a single derby.

Cespedes was so dominant that he won the competition over Harper with five swings to go.  Last years champion Prince Fielder and NL team captain David Wright were non-factors.  As was AL team captain Robinson Cano and overall home run leader Chris Davis.  Wright received a strong ovation in his home town park Citi Field.

Thanks to the efforts of Cespedes the AL out homered the NL 53-50 and the 103 home runs hit raised $529,000 for charity.

2013 MLB Power Rankings – Mid-June Edition


Here is a look at how teams around baseball stack up heading towards July.

#1. St. Louis Cardinals (45-26) – The Cardinals are among the best current franchises in sports. Consistently competitive along with multiple championships.  They are at it again in 2013 holding the best record in baseball to this point.

#2. Boston Red Sox (44-29) – It appears the culture and negativity has been bounced from Boston.  They’ve had a great run to this point but there are a lot of games left against a lot of talented divisional opponents.

#3. Oakland Athletics (43-30) – Who are these guys?  The A’s still don’t have many recognizable faces to the average baseball fan yet they continue to win baseball games.  Strong pitching along with clutch hitting usually = victories.

#4. Cincinnati Reds (43-29) – Consistent starting pitching. Dominating closer and a strong offense has the Reds looking to reach the postseason for the 2nd consecutive season.

#5. Atlanta Braves (42-30) – The Braves are loaded with talent both offensively and pitching wise.  We’ve seen how good they can be when they play there best. (11-1 start).  Justin Upton needs to again find his stroke. Continue reading

Giants win National League Pennant

The San Francisco Giants are the 2012 National League Champions. The Giants stomped the St. Louis Cardinals 9-0 in game seven as they clinched their 21st pennant in franchise history with a 4-3 series victory. San Francisco will host the Detroit Tigers in game one of the World Series on Wednesday, October 24th. Marco Scutaro was named NLCS MVP as he  hit .500 (14 for 28) in the series.

2012 National League Champions

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Sports with Balls Hot Stove Report

With the 2012 MLB pennant races drawing near its time for teams to declare themselves buyers or sellers for the remainder of the 2012 season. Sports with Balls will be on top of all the deals as they go down in July & August.  Check back for regular updates.

As the 2012 MLB Non-Waiver Trade Deadline comes to a close; Mike, Bill & Scott took 45 minutes to discuss the deals that went down in July click below to listen.

Sports with Balls Show – MLB Trade Deadline Special

The Buyers:

Yankees, Orioles, Blue Jays, Tigers, White Sox, Rangers, Angels, Athletics, Nationals, Braves, Reds, Pirates, Cardinals, Giants, Dodgers

The Sellers:

Twins, Royals, Mariners, Marlins, Phillies, Brewers, Cubs, Astros, Rockies

Players potentially available via trade in August:

Jeff Francoeur, Denard Span, Josh Willingham, Matt Capps, Kevin Millwood, Carlos Lee, Josh Johnson, Heath Bell, Aramis Ramirez, Francisco Rodriguez, Randy Wolf, Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, Cliff Lee, Joe Blanton, Chase Headley, Clayton Richard, Alfonso Soriano, Matt Garza, Carlos Marmol,  Jason Giambi, Rafael Betancourt,  Stephen Drew.

The Deals that have gone down:

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2012 Sports With Balls Show Midseason Baseball Awards

The National League dominated the Midsummer Classic in Kansas City by a score of 8-0. This marks that the 1st half of the baseball season has come to a close.

It also signifies that it is time to hand out the Sports With Balls Show Midseason Baseball Awards, or the Ballsies, as Bill Fucich likes to call them.

(All seven members of the Sports With Balls Blog were balloted to select the winner of each award. Listed are the winners of the ballot, with the next leading vote-getters in descending order. Each ballot was cast with a vote for 1st, 2nd & 3rd place. Point totals were added to declare winners.)

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Take a peek at last seasons Midseason Awards

Best Team of the 1st Half

Texas Rangers (17 votes)“The Rangers are trying to do the unthinkable and appear in their third straight World Series. Despite losing their ace in the off season they still have been among the best teams in all of baseball. A key reason for continued success is Josh Hamilton’s impressive numbers..” – Glenn Coyle

“The Rangers may not have the best record but they’re still a tremendously dangerous team. They hit, they pitch, they field. They do all of them extremely well and have limited weaknesses. .” – Michael Bedard

“Despite injuries seemingly all season to their pitching staff and a surge by the Angels, the Rangers hold a four-game lead at the break. Their quest for a third straight AL pennant is in full gear.” – Matt Sherman

Close but no Cigar:

New York Yankees (16 votes)“The Rangers are still the favorite in the AL come October, but the Yankees had the slightly more impressive first half of the season. Their lineup can mash but the Bombers need to sure up their rotation before the playoff push. Is a Yankees/Rangers Hamels arms race preeminent?” – Bill Fucich

“Pineda, Pettitte, Sabathia, Robertson & Rivera have all missed significant time due to injury and the Yanks continue to lead the American League East by 7 games.  As players begin to get healthy and reinforcements arrive toward the trade deadline the Yanks will become a force in the AL playoff race.” – Mike Orzechowski

Washington Nationals (8 votes)“Some predicted the Nationals as a much improved team in 2012, but 3rd best team in baseball? Quite the jump for a franchise which needs to build a fanbase, a season like this will put them well on their way. The Nationals show no signs of collapse, even with the impending shut down of ace Stephen Strasburg. Easily the most consistent NL team of baseball’s first half.” – Bill Fucich

Also receiving votes:

Los Angeles Angels (1 vote)“Despite a rough start the Angels now find themselves among baseballs best. Team leader, great hitter, gold glove defense….Mike Trout is the team MVP. Where you expecting another name that just signed a monster contract in the off-season?” – Warren Croxton

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Cain Is Able

Matt Cain made Giants history Wednesday night. He became the first Giants pitcher to throw a perfect game as he baffled the Astros hitters all night. Cain struck out 14 batters on 125 pitches to pick up his 8th win of the season. With Tim Lincecum struggling this season, Cain has made his case as the new Giants ace. The last Giant to thrown a no-hitter was Jonathan Sanchez against the San Diego Padres on July 10, 2009. Cain’s gem was the 22nd perfect game in MLB history.

Cain struck out 14 Astros in his gem.

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Johan Santana tosses Mets First No-Hitter

Big smiles down in Arlington, VA……..


Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana tossed  a no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals in a 8-0 victory.

Johan Santana career profile & statistics

Santana kept the Cardinals lineup off-balance all night striking out 8 while walking 5.

The Mets have been one of the pleasant surprises in 2012, they’ve compiled at 29-23 record good for 3rd in the NL East and sit only 1 game behind the division leading Nationals.  Santana has been a bright spot, He’s been as rock solid in 2012 improving to 3-2 with a 2.38 era.


Johan Santana with a special moment in Mets history

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