Sports fans have it made these days. From the internet to all access channels dedicated to streaming highlights 24/7; it has never been easier to catch up on what you may have missed. And trust me there is a lot going on that you DO NOT want to miss. Growing up during the “dark days” before the internet, we had to make do with catching highlights on Sports Desk, the 6pm news, or wind up waiting for the always popular TWIB on Saturday morning. If we were lucky, we maybe had a Sports Illustrated subscription, or had a friend with one. It wasn’t just catching up on the days games that were hard, it was keeping informed on all the players and teams that were out there. I can’t even imagine what kind of impact YouTube would’ve had on my pre-pubescent being, especially during the heyday of Bo Jackson and Griffey Jr. Unfortunately I would have to wait a years in order to have sports highlights at my fingertips… anytime I wanted them.
Even now with the YouTube’s, ESPN’s, and MLB.com’s of the world, finding a specific athletic moment or feat is not as easy as it should be. MLB was one of the last major sporting associations to withhold their daily and archived highlights from the internet horde. Any and all highlights were distributed through MLB.com, or available only on MLB.com. Where the NFL and NHL allowed their fans to watch not only highlights, but WHOLE games on YouTube, the MLB kept to their Draconian ways and forbid distribution of highlights through YouTube. It wouldn’t be until early 2013 that MLB relaxed their distribution rules and allowed full access to their video archive through their website(MLB has even recently added an MLB channel to YouTube). And when the video vault was opened, it was like Quagmire discovering internet porn for the first time.
Baseball fans can now rejoice. We now have the ability to seek and view moments and players who were elevated to myth like statuses because we never had access to their highlights. Sure I had seen Bo Jackson run up the OF wall, but I never saw how the play developed. Yeah I gave Kenny Lofton a bit of respect growing up, but he never came close to Griff in my books and a lot of that had to do with the fact that the highlights catered more to the Griffey Jr’s of the world and less to the Lofton’s. I wanted to take a look back on some of the athletes who have defined why we have highlights, montages, and YouTube, and look at some of those who would have blown up YouTube and Social Media if it was around when they played.
Baseball, and the sporting world for that, is rife with athletes who are constantly pushing the envelope with out of this world athleticism, and redefining the term “human highlight reel” on a day to day basis. Some guys do it all. They grab your attention with jaw dropping power or blistering speed in the field and on the bases. These guys are the ones who make the ridiculous seem routine. But it’s not always the offense that turns heads. Sure chicks may dig the long ball, but as most of us know; defense wins you championships. Baseball is one of the few sports where an individual’s defensive forays can not only make or break a game, but also wind up on Top Ten lists for years to come.
Defense in baseball is a twofold attack; it comes down to the pitcher and the 8 guys behind him. A lights out pitcher can make both the offense irrelevant, as well as the defense behind him. Pitchers like Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, and Yu Darvish bring instant defense and potential no hit stuff with them every time they toe the rubber in the form of their pitching arsenal. In fact you don’t even have to start games in order to bring solid D, you could always close them; ask the Atlanta Braves and Craig Kimbrel. In the field, games are won and loss on the arms, legs, and most importantly gloves of the defenders. A lone defender can halt an offense single handily with a “web gem” or a strong throw to gun down an advancing runner. Middle infielders perform acrobatic double play routines, while third basemen man the hot corner waiting to make a diving stab up the line.
This past week alone baseball fans were treated to not one, but two REMARKABLE performances in less than 72 hours.
On Sunday, Miguel Cabrera mashed three home runs in a losing effort to the Texas Rangers. The second of the three home runs was on a mid 90’s two-seam fastball that ran in on Miggy’s hands. No problem however, as Miggy pulled his hands in and sent a line drive over the CF wall. The announcers were speechless and in awe. John Kruk summed it up nicely… “I don’t know what else to say…” Apparently he did though, as the booth would continue to talk about the home run for two more innings. Having already played second fiddle to Cabrera in the MVP voting; Mike Trout wasn’t about to let three home runs outshine him. So two days after Miggy had his big night in Texas, Trout went out against the Mariners and became the youngest player in AL history to hit for the cycle. For the 21 year old Trout, it was just another day at the office, and another addition to an already impressive resume.
Now that we’ve mentioned a few of their accolades, let’s take an extended look at the players who define why we have YouTube and highlight packs; both past and present.
Miguel Cabrera: What more do you say about a man who is coming off the first Triple Crown performance in 45 years; not to mention the accompanying AL MVP that came with it? Nothing really, you let his bat speak for him. In 2012, the man they call Miggy went off on the baseball world to the tune of .330/44/139. That wasn’t completely shocking, that was Miggy just being Miggy. For his career (11 seasons) Miguel has averaged a 162 game line of .320/35/122. He grabbed the best player/hitter in the game today torch from Pujols about 4 years ago and hasn’t looked back. Through 44 games this season, Miggy is hitting a STUPID .387 to go along with 13 HR and 52 RBI! At this current pace he is set to defecate on his MVP season last year. As mentioned above Cabrera did recently have a 3 HR performance against an AL contender in the Rangers, and one of their top tier starters (Derek Holland)
(As I write this Cabrera has 6 HRs in his last 4 games)
Miguel has been an impact player ever since he made his debut for the Marlins as a 20 year old in 2003. Cabrera would hit .268/12/68 in his rookie season and play a big role in leading the Marlins to their 2nd World Series title in franchise history. In his 5 seasons in Florida, Cabrera would be a 4x All Star and the cornerstone of a promising Marlins franchise. Back then he also played OF and looked a little different.
Enter Jeffrey Loria’s bi-annual fire sale. Cabrera would end up being dealt to the Tigers in one of the biggest swindles in MLB history. The Tigers got Cabrera and former All Star/ROY Dontrelle Willis, while the Marlins received the turd sandwich of Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller. Miller and Maybin were both former top ten draft picks in the first round of the MLB Amateur Draft, and both turned out to be BIG disappointments for the Marlins. In Cabrera the Tigers received one of the best players in the game, who eventually turned into the BEST player in the game. You want power? He’ll give you power…
He even gives you highlights in the field… although maybe not for his glove…
You gotta give it to him for being a team player though. But then again, who wouldn’t move to 3B in order to get Prince Fielder on your team…?
Speaking of Big Prince…
Prince Fielder: Prince has been destined to MASH a baseball since he was in the womb. Prince is the son of former MLB MASH artist Cecil “Big Daddy” Fielder, a man who knew how to swat a baseball out of states and ballparks alike. What Cecil also enjoyed doing was bringing his son Prince to the ball park as much as possible. Cecil had a big hand grooming his son for his future profession, including converting him to left handed as a child. Prince also received batting practice from the Tigers, and hitting lessons from his pops. There was a popular rumour that Prince once hit a ball into the upper deck of Tiger stadium as a 12 year old. Seeing him as a kid though… you could understand how it became a popular rumour…
Prince is a walking spectacle. He’s listed as a 5’11” 275lb first basemen. He may be the largest vegan on the earth. He is surprisingly athletic and had very surprising wheels for a big man; he does have two career inside-the-park home runs.
Oh, and he can smack a pitch like no other.
As the son of a man who topped the 30HR plateau on six occasions, including 51 and 44 in a season, Prince was destined to knock the cover off the ball. He is one of those few players that you never change the channel when he is up to bat. His swing and misses are almost as powerful as the homeruns themselves. Remember Prince was genetically designed for Home Run Derby’s… remember he is a 2x winner…
Prince is a showman, a pure entertainer. He brings a child like fun to the game and can always be seen with a big ol smile on his face. His post game antics and theatrics are can’t miss TV alone.
Tigers fans should be FOREVER thankful to have both Miggy and Prince… not to mention that bad man that goes by the name of Verlander.
(Part II to come soon)