Monthly Archives: September 2011

What a Year for Baseball

The 2011 MLB season has been one for the record books – more major milestones have been reached and records broken than any other year I can remember. Below are just some of the examples of things that have happened this season:

  • Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals broke his own 2010 record by hitting 30 home runs in 10 consecutive seasons. Now in his 11th season, Pujols has hit over 440 home runs, averaging just over 40 a year, which is a lot for one of the few sluggers never mentioned in the Mitchell Report.
  • Speaking of the Mitchell Report and power hitters, another name that was never brought up was Jim Thome. Currently playing for the Cleveland Indians again, Thome just became the 7th player in history to hit 600 home runs. This guaranteed Hall-of-Famer joins this short list with other Hall members like Babe Ruth, Willie Mays & Hank Aaron. Other notable players in the club that may not make it to Cooperstown because of their association with performance enhancing drugs include Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa & Alex Rodriguez. On a side note, I find it very interesting that the Minnesota Twins kept him both on their roster and playing regularly all the way up to his 600th home run, and then they placed him on waivers to ultimately trade him back to Cleveland. It seems they waited to ensure Thome hit the milestone while on the Twins simply to give them more publicity; I can’t imagine they weren’t already planning to trade him before he got to 600.
  • Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers has had a career-defining season on the mound, and has helped lead his team to the AL-Central title. He is not only leading the American League for the pitching Triple Crown (Wins, ERA & Strikeouts) but is leading the entire MLB as well; if it were a six-pointed crown he would win it also because he also leads in Innings Pitched, Opponents Batting Average and WHIP. The 2011 season has been one for the record books for Verlander and he was only a few innings away from making baseball history. He pitched his second career no-hitter early in the season, which was a perfect game until a late walk, and since then has had two outings where he carried a no-hitter into the 8th and another into the 6th. Verlander will likely win the AL Cy Young award and should be a favorite to win the MVP as well with his closest and possibly only competition being Curtis Granderson of the New York Yankees.
  • It should come as no surprise that America’s team, the Yankees, had two players make history in 2011. First, Derek Jeter hit his 3,000th hit, joining the exclusive club with 27 other players of which only 3 are not in the Hall of Fame (and that includes Pete Rose who is still banned). Jeter is the only player to hit the milestone with a home run besides Wade Boggs, and one of the few to complete the feat with one franchise. Jeter already holds the record for most hits by a Yankee and though he is 37, will likely play a few more years with the Bronx Bombers and end his career having never played an inning with another franchise – something very uncommon in the free-agent era.
  • Mariano Rivera, another player who has played every inning of his career with the Yankees, broke what for a while seemed to be an unbreakable record. Just recently, Rivera completed his 602nd career save, breaking Trevor Hoffman’s previous record. The next closest active pitcher is Francisco Cordero who only has 324, so this record should hold up for many years. I believe one of the reasons this record is such an accomplishment is because in this day and age, many closers throw 100 MPH or more, and doing that for numerous seasons is usually not possible for a human’s arm. Aside from the flamethrowers, many closers today did not begin their career as a closer but as a starter or long reliever that since lost their stamina. John Smoltz was the perfect example of this, playing most of his career as a starter for the Atlanta Braves, hurting his arm and transforming into a solid closer late in his career. Rivera was able to stay strong and healthy because he did not throw as hard, but instead threw a cut fastball that simply jammed hitters into hitting ground balls, keeping his ERA just over 2 for his career. He has also been the team’s closer his entire career except for his first two years in the big leagues when he was used as a starter and setup man for John Wetteland.

Pro Sports Memorabilia is lucky enough to have many collectibles celebrating these historic events, but quantities are limited, so get yours now!

2011 NFL Predictions – NFC

And now, my NFC predictions:

NFC East – Anyone who does not think the Philadelphia Eagles are going far has not been following football long enough. Michael Vick is better than ever, and with a receiving corps. of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin (who is back in uniform despite his health scare), their offense is better than it was with Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook. Don’t forget about their offseason pickups, a couple corners giving them easily the most dominant secondary in the league and a rookie kicker who set an NCAA record with his career accuracy percentage playing for the Nebraska Cornhuskers during their final season in the Big 12.

NFC North – The Green Bay Packers are by far the best team in the North and quite possibly the favorites to win the Super Bowl. My guess is that no other quarterback /wide receiver duo will have more touchdowns than Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings. Donald Driver may be near the end of his career, but he is still brave enough to do a quick slant over the middle right into the opposition’s linebackers and safeties. Last year John Kuhn was able to carry a relatively small load, but if Ryan Grant can stay healthy teams will be running all over the field trying to defend the best passing team and quite possibly a top running one as well. It does not hurt that my Chicago Bears still do not have a line to protect Jay Cutler from linebackers like A.J. Hawk and Clay Matthews, and with an aging defense the Monsters of the Midway may look more like household pets this year.

NFC South – Even with the New Orleans Saints having Drew Brees, an extremely offensive minded coach and the Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, I believe they have too many playmakers for any individual to really get in a groove and carry their team to the playoffs. The Falcons, on the other hand, have Matt Ryan (also known as “Matty Ice”) who has quickly become one of the calmest quarterbacks in the game, especially when the pressure is on. Alongside stars like Michael Turner and Roddy White, Atlanta’s offense should score over 400 points again this season, making it tough for any team to beat them.

NFC West – This division is likely the weakest in the league and can be compared to the AL Central in Major League Baseball. Last year the Seattle Seahawks won and were 2 games under .500 with only 8 teams in the NFC finishing with a worse record. After winning Rookie of the Year last season, Sam Bradford is poised to be even better in 2011 with new target in Mike Sims-Walker on the outside. Assuming the St. Louis Rams can continue to grow with Bradford and keep their workhorse Steven Jackson healthy, I see no reason why they won’t win the West by a landslide and possibly work their way into a first-round bye.

Let me know what you think! Who do you have going to Indy? Stop by Pro Sports Memorabilia for all your NFC memorabilia needs.