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Grant Balfour posted by Rays Fan

Born December 30, 1977 in Australia, Grant Balfour plays MLB for the Tampa Bay Rays as their relief pitcher. Amongst Australian pitchers in MLB, he currently holds the record for maximum strikeouts and all-time saves. Balfour made his debut in MLB in 2001, when he was drafted by Minnesota Twins. He remained with the Twins until 2004, and spent most of 2005 recovering from an injury. In 2006, Cincinnati Reds signed him, and he played for them for about a year.

Balfour was absent from the MLB scene for three years and returned in July 2007 to play for the Milwaukee Brewers. In the eighth inning against the Diamondbacks, he struck out the first hitter, and relieved Chris Capuano to end it with a tie 2-2. Later he walked a batter, hit one, and allowed a home run, which gave a 5-2 win to the Diamondbacks. In 2007, Balfour was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays, and was in their bullpen for the rest of the season. He finished the 2008 season with 82 strikeouts, 6-2 record, and 1.54 ERA. In January 2011, Balfour signed a two-year contract with Oakland Athletics, and he was named to be their closer. In July 2013, Balfour made a record of highest consecutive saves in his franchise.

In December 2013, agreed to a $15 million deal with Baltimore Orioles for two years. However, in December the deal was jeopardized, as the Orioles had issues with his physical and did not want to sign him. Balfour wanted to file a grievance challenging the Orioles decision, but later agreed to a contract with Tampa Bay Rays for two years. In 2014, during the start of the season, after pitching in 24 games, Balfour's ERA was 6.46, which was quite poor. Subsequently in June, Balfour was removed from the role of a closer.

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aj wilbur

Tigers vs Rays recap posted by aj wilbur

On a cool April day with snow in the air the Tigers again railed in late innings to beat the Rays and improve to 4-0 on the season. Rick Porcello gave a strong quality start of 7 innings with 2 earned runs, 7 hits, and a walk. The sinker was working well for Porcello when he saw the rays lineup for the second and third time. The only mishap in Porcello's day was a bases loaded walk in the 3rd inning but was able to limit any more damage when he got Matt Joyce to ground out. Matt Moore went 6 2/3 innings with 2 earned runs, 4 hits, and 5 walks. Moore pitched strong with a solid fastball but was a little erratic.

The Tigers big 2 of Cabrera and Fielder once again came through in the clutch. Cabrera led off the 8th inning with a long double of the right field wall and Fielder did what he is paid to do and hit a sharp line drive single up the center to drive in Cabrera standing up for what would be the game winning run. Austin Jackson again looked strong going 1 for 2 with two walks, two runs scored and a clutch home run in the 7th inning.

The Tigers play the Rays again tomorrow at 1.05 with Justin Verlander facing James Shields

Continue reading "Tigers vs Rays recap"

aj wilbur

Tigers vs Rays Preview posted by aj wilbur

The Tigers will take on the Rays today at 1:05 in Comerica park

Tampa bay comes in with an undefeated record after sweeping the Yankees.

The Rays phenom Matt Moore will take on Rick Porcello. Matt Moore looked dominating at the end of last year when he was called up. Moore features a lot of different pitches but mosty relies on a mid 90's fastball with some movement. Porcello is facing a little more pressure then we thought he would on opening day with Fister now on the DL. Porcello must stick to what has gotten him mild success, which is forcing ground balls. When Porcello is on the sinker is down in the zone and hopefully the defence is on there toes and can turn a couple double plays.

Keys to the game:

Make Moore works to get his outs. The Tigers need to be patient and make Moore throw a lot of pitches. The Rays bullpen is not as strong as the Tigers and if we can knock him out in the 5th or the 6th we should be in good shape.

My prediction:

Matt Moore looks good today and goes 6 six solid innings only giving up 2 runs but has to work hard to get through 6. I think Porcello will pitch well and keep the game close, final line 6 1/3 pitched with 3 earned runs.

I see the tigers pulling away with a big hit in the 8th or 9th in a lower scoring game winning 4-3

Continue reading "Tigers vs Rays Preview"

Joe Halstead

The Detroit TIgers Must Approach This April Like the Playoffs posted by Joe Halstead

It is said- and correctly so- that while a pennant may not be won in April, a pennant may be lost in April.

On this note, the Detroit Tigers have immediate cause for concern. Their early schedule- in the month of April alone- includes two more games against Boston, a three-game home series with the Tampa Bay Rays (April 10-12), a four-game home series against the American League Champion Texas Rangers (April 19-22) and, just to pour a bucket of salt water over the wounds incurred, a three-game series in the Bronx Apr. 27-29.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland is known for using his entire roster liberally. OFers Clete Thomas and Andy Dirks, and 2Bmen Danny Worth, Ramon Santiago and, eventually, Brandon Inge, might see significant playing time.

But, should they?

The Tigers made substitutions in the 2011 post-season out of necessity. They were beat up, and running out of players. Luckily, some of those substitutes stepped up in a big way, such as UT Don Kelly and Santiago.

However, the Tigers are at nearly 100% health, and they need their front line to do battle with the American League's best. 

So, here's hoping that Leyland doesn't tinker with his team too much. Obviously, he wants OF Delmon Young to continue what he's been doing for the Tigers since last August, which is to drive in runs. Surely, Leyland would also like to see one of his second basemen grab the brass ring. So far, all we have are multiple second basemen who play competently enough to hit .250 and turn the double play when necessary.

Ah, maybe, that is, until now. 2B/OF Ryan Raburn had the Spring Training of his life, batting over .400 for a stretch, eventually cooling a bit to a .268 average. However, he still slugged .661, having hit 6 HRs, 2 2Bs and a 3B. That accounts for nine of his 15 hits in the spring.

Continue reading "The Detroit TIgers Must Approach ..."


A baseball read to hold you over until Opening Day posted by David

If you’re looking for a baseball book that will keep you entertained until Opening Day, check out Dirk Hayhurst’s The Bullpen Gospels: Major League Dreams of a Minor League Veteran.  The book details Hayhurst’s 2007 season at three different levels of the minors.  He describes long bus rides, living with host families, Kangaroo Court, and battling the urge to give up on a dream.  It’s an honest story about the arduous journey it takes so many ballplayers to reach their ultimate goal, knowing they may never achieve it.

Hayhurst has since made it to the majors, pitching in 25 games, making three starts, and compiling a 0-2 record and a 5.72 ERA for the Padres and Blue Jays.  The Kent State University graduate’s book received rave reviews from Bob Costas, Keith Olbermann, Tom Verducci and Tim Kurkjian, and made The New York Times Bestseller list.

Hayhurst also played for my hometown’s college summer league team, the Bethesda Big Train, back in 2001.  After missing all of 2010 with a shoulder injury, he signed a minor league contract with the Rays and will hope to spend this season in Tampa Bay.  Dirk Hayhurst, best of luck.

A big step in my career

After spending last season working for the Toledo Mud Hens, I’ll start a new job next month in the Research Department at MLB Network.  I’m thrilled for the opportunity to work with baseball people who love the game as much as I do.  The researchers support the on-air personalities by providing statistical and analytical information for each broadcast.  In addition to Bob Costas and Peter Gammons, MLB Network on-air personalities include retired ballplayers Sean Casey, Bill Ripken, Al Leiter, Kevin Millar, Harold Reynolds, and John Smoltz.  Since I’ll be living so close to New York City, hopefully I’ll make it to Citi Field and New Yankee Stadium this year for the first time.

Continue reading "A baseball read to hold you over until Opening Day"


A new champion is crowned posted by David

Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants, who are World Champions for the first time since moving to the west coast more than 50 years ago.  Their last title in New York came in 1954, when Willie Mays made “the catch” that will be played on highlight reels forever.  The Giants came unbelievably close to not even making the playoffs this year, but the fans who claimed that watching their team was “torture” are now the happiest fans in baseball.

How ‘bout that?

How about Matt Cain?  The San Francisco hurler was nearly untouchable throughout the playoffs, outshining staff ace Tim Lincecum, who had a bad outing in Game 1 of the Fall Classic.  In three postseason starts, Cain allowed only an unearned run over 21.1 innings of work, going at least 6.2 innings in each outing and providing a huge boost to his team’s hunt for glory.  He might be the best #2 starter in the majors, but Matt Cain looked like the second coming of Cy Young when it mattered most for the Giants.

How about Brian Wilson?  The flamethrower’s postseason numbers included six saves (in seven chances) and a win in 11.2 innings pitched, allowing just an unearned run.  Additionally, Wilson allowed no more than one hit per appearance while anchoring the San Francisco bullpen.  Wilson gave Bruce Bochy the confidence this postseason usually reserved for Mariano Rivera’s manager when handing his closer the ball in October (or November).

How about the fantastic class of rookies in the postseason?  Stephen Strasburg wasn’t among them, but Jason Heyward (Braves), Buster Posey (Giants), Aroldis Chapman (Reds), Danny Valencia (Twins), Wade Davis (Rays), Neftali Feliz and Mitch Moreland (both Rangers) would make an incredible young team if they all played together.  In fact, even top prospect Domonic Brown, who compiled just 62 regular-season at-bats, was on the Phillies’ playoff roster.  Expectations will be high for this talented group, and here’s hoping none of them experiences too much of a sophomore slump.

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Will Chipper hang 'em up? posted by David

Chipper Jones is out for the year with a torn ACL, but let’s hope this isn’t it for the man who has played his entire major league career for manager Bobby Cox.  Chipper has made it known since last season that retirement could be around the corner, but like Baseball Tonight’s Eduardo Perez, I don’t see Chipper calling it quits now that his season has ended unexpectedly.  He wants to go out on his own terms, and these aren’t them.  At 38, his career is nearing the end, but I find it hard to believe that he will be able to say good-bye after watching from the bench as his team battles for the National League crown.

If he’s truly done, Chipper’s numbers speak for themselves: a .306 career batting average and .405 On-Base Percentage, 436 home runs, 147 stolen bases, 2,490 hits, two Silver Sluggers and an MVP award.  The six-time All-Star won a batting title at the age of 36, hitting a staggering .364 to edge Albert Pujols, who hit .357.  He is also tied for the most home runs in a season by a switch-hitter (45 in 1999; Lance Berkman accomplished the feat in 2006).  A little known fact about Chipper is that he and Paul Waner hold the Major League record for most consecutive games with an extra-base hit (14).  Chipper will join Waner in Cooperstown as soon as he is eligible.

How ‘bout that?

How about Jered Weaver?  The 27-year-old righty leads the majors with 182 strikeouts and is having his best season (11-7, 2.87 Earned Run Average) since his rookie year (2006), when he went 11-2 with a 2.56 ERA.  Since the All-Star break, Weaver has been even better, posting a 1.93 ERA, limiting opponents to a .204 batting average, and averaging seven innings per outing over six starts.  With the Rangers playing so well in the AL West, the Angels are unlikely to win the division for the fourth straight year and may even finish under .500 for the first time since 2003, but they have to be pleased with how their ace has pitched this season.

Continue reading "Will Chipper hang 'em up?"

Joe Franciosa, Jr.

Sox sweep Rays, NBA Officials should be Ashamed posted by Joe Franciosa, Jr.

Beltre's bombs were by themselves enough to win the final game of this set. The one he literally hit from one knee was easily in the top 5 most impressive home runs I've seen from a Sox player, ever. It was like he was down on one knee, proposing to Sox Nation, hoping we'll finally accept him as a worthy replacement for our beloved Mike Lowell. Beltre, on behalf of Red Sox Nation, I can happily say, "Yes!"

 Ortiz's homerun was great simply because the Remdawg called it. "They don't want to pitch him up and in..." next pitch, up and in, and then up and out of the park. Forget drinking the kool-aid. I'm all about the new peach-mango salsa.

 Lackey... well, you didn't look like Slackey, so that's a good sign. 2 runs over 6 and 1/3 innings is good, but it still wasn't the dominant performance folks are waiting for. You got the win, that was a nice change of pace. I'll leave your performance at that for now.

 Pedroia, you're still the heart of this team. That head's up baserunning on the Ortiz groundout was indescribably excellent. As my father commented last night, your uniform is dirty every game. Aside from winning, there's not much else we fans could ask of a player.

 So the Sox swept the Rays, and my only complaint is that we didn't have 4 games this series. I don't think the Rays have an answer for the Sox right now, and I'd love to pay them back for their 4 game sweep of us back in April. Ah well. We might not be able to catch the Rays or the Yankees just yet, but at least we've finally clawed past the Blue Jays by half a game...

Continue reading "Sox sweep Rays, NBA Officials should be Ashamed"

Joe Franciosa, Jr.

Real men don't need Brooms posted by Joe Franciosa, Jr.

Give the Magic credit, they didn't lay down, roll over, or get swept out of Boston.

 J.J. Redick redeemed himself in game 4. Without his three pointers the Magic never would have had a second chance in OT. Jameer Nelson also found his three-point stroke. Howard played to his strengths. He scores more points by being in position for offensive rebounds, and it seemed as though he was there to dunk with authority immediately after every missed shot. Just once I'd like to see Perkins gather a rebound and throw down with that type of authority.

 Now folks are going to be all over Pierce for losing his dribble in the final seconds of the game. Sadly, this is the problem with the Celtics team. If Pierce had been in the same position at the end of regulation I would have trusted him more to get to the basket or to draw a foul. In OT, I think Pierce's age and past injuries catch up with him, and he simply does not have the stamina to take on a team by himself. Ray Allen should have taken the final shot. Ah well.

 So now the series moves back to Orlando, and I'm willing to bet that Rondo is going to have a bounce-back game, and he will carry the team to the Finals. That is, assuming the SI cover curse doesn't smite him. Damn you SI!!!

 Red Sox! The Red Sox took two out of three from the Phillies (made Doc look like he was a Blue Jay again) and then Buckholz dominated the Rays last night at the Trop. It's a damn shame that the Rays are in 1st place in the most competitive division in the major leagues, and there are still more Sox fans at the field than Rays. For Shame Tampa Bay! For Shame for St. Pete!

Continue reading "Real men don't need Brooms"

Ed West

Sox Begin 2010 posted by Ed West

I have folded up the Tom Brady jersey and put it away.  I have set aside the Kevin Garnett jersey until i take it out for the Celtics playoff push.  It is time now to don the jersey of your favorite Red Sox players and get ready for another exciting Major League Baseball season.  Spring is finally here.  I have to hand it to Major League Baseball.  I think that this year they got it right.  They didn't ship the World Series winners overseas to play in Japan or China or somewhere and they didn't open the season with Royals vs Tigers or some other match-up without much appeal.  This year the season began on Easter Sunday with a match-up between the defending World Series champion New York Yankees and their arch rival the Boston Red Sox.  This is, hands down, the best rivalry in sports.  The series didn't go the way I wanted it to, but we did get our first win against the Yankees under our belt and the games were well played for the most part.  Hey, when you think about it last year the Sox won the first 8 games against the Yankees only to lose 9 out of the next 10 so maybe losing 2 out of the first 3 ain't bad.

All I can say is that I watched 3 very entertaining games to start this year and I am looking to watch 159 more throughout the regular season.  And I have a feeling that there will be meaningful baseball played in Fenway Park well into October.  The Red Sox have an exciting mix of young players and veterans both in the field and on the mound.  You have to like your team when your 3rd starter is John Lackey and your 4th or 5th starter has thrown a no-hitter.  It's also nice when your back-up catcher is Jason Varitek and the first bat off your bench is in the very capable hands of Mike Lowell.  I know that the "experts" picked the Red Sox to finish 3rd in the East behind both the Yankees and the Rays, but I think those experts are underestimating the heart this Sox team has.  We have seen 3 great games against the Yankees and get to look forward to 15 more.  We also have 18 games against the Rays and that equals one great season.

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Tampa Bay Rays News

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Red Sox-Rays preview (The Associated Press)

The Tampa Bay Rays are reeling from an 11-game losing streak, their longest since 2009. All of those losses have come against division-leading teams, but they'll have a chance at redemption against another one of the American League's premier teams as they open a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox. "We'll continue to look at some positives, the way the offense battled back ... a lot of guys swung the bats well," manager Kevin Cash said after a 12-5 loss to the Orioles on Sunday to complete a sweep at Baltimore. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Rays-Orioles preview (The Associated Press)

BALTIMORE-- The return of Manny Machado helps the Baltimore Orioles in several ways and one should be easy to see during Saturday's split doubleheader with the Tampa Bay Rays, who will be trying to snap an eight-game losing streak. Since Machado was serving a four-game suspension, the Orioles were not able to replace him on their roster. Machado returned to the Orioles (42-30) in Friday's 6-3 victory over Tampa Bay (31-40), and Showalter said he's glad to be playing with a full team once more. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Bill Murray helps minor league team celebrate postseason berth (Big League Stew)

It's only June, but postseason berths are already being clinched around the minor leagues.  On Tuesday, the Low Class-A Charleston RiverDogs — an affiliate of the New York Yankees — became one of the first to punch their ticket. With a 3-0 win against Augusta , they clinched the first half Southern Division title in the South Atlantic League, and right there leading the celebration was the team's partial owner and the official "Director of Fun," actor and comedian Bill Murray. "Tastes like victory" — Charleston RiverDogs (@ChasRiverDogs) June 15, 2016 Tastes like victory indeed.  [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Baseball contest now ] Murray, of course, is one of the biggest celebrity baseball fans around. His MLB loyalties are directly tied to the Chicago Cubs, but he's been connected to several minor league teams as well over the years. In fact, he currently owns small stakes in the Single-A Hudson Valley Renegades (Tampa Bay Rays affiliate) and the Brockton Rox, a collegiate summer baseball team, in addition to the RiverDogs.  He's also made several appearances for the St. Paul Saints, which is perhaps the most well-known independent baseball team.  Murray has been on a baseball kick recently, spending his weekend watching the Cubs in Atlanta , before swinging over to spend time with the RiverDogs as their clinching moment approached. That led to a memorable scene and epic celebration that will be difficult for MLB teams to top.  Have yourself a night @ChasRiverDogs ! Clinch first playoff berth in 11 years- Bill Murray, champagne and celebration — Daren Stoltzfus (@DarenStoltzfus) June 15, 2016 Things are pretty loose in the clubhouse right now. — Charleston RiverDogs (@ChasRiverDogs) June 15, 2016 Consider us jealous. Also, if this is what a first-half division championship celebration looks like, imagine what it'll be like Charleston wins the entire league. Beyond that, imagine Murray's excitement if the Cubs finally do win the big to end their 108-year World Series championship drought. Prepare yourselves, Chicago. Big things may be going down soon. More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813 [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Gomez, Valbuena homer, Astros hold off Rays for 4-3 victory (The Associated Press)

Will Harris walked himself into trouble before pitching his way out. The Houston Astros reliever worked through a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the ninth inning, losing his club-record streak of 26 consecutive scoreless appearances before escaping with his third save in Saturday's 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. Steven Souza Jr.'s sacrifice fly trimmed Houston's lead to one run, but Harris held on by getting Desmond Jennings to hit into a game-ending double play. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

The Walk Off: Jose Fernandez outduels Matt Harvey with 14-K outing (Big League Stew)

Welcome to The Walk Off, the nightly MLB recap from Big League Stew. Here we'll look at the top performers of the night, show you a must-see highlight and rundown the scoreboard. First, we start with a game you need to know about.   Sunday's battle of the aces between Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and New York Mets hurler Matt Harvey did not disappoint. While only one player could come away the winner, at least both sides gave the fans one heck of a show. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Baseball contest now ]   Ultimately, though, Fernandez and the Marlins came out on top in the 1-0 victory . Miami's 23-year-old ace posted possible his finest start of the season during the outing. Fernandez tossed seven scoreless innings, giving up just four hits and no walks. He tied a career high, striking out 14 batters.  On the other side, Harvey turned in his second straight positive start. He also lasted seven innings, giving up one run on four hits. Harvey struck out three, and did not issue any walks during the contest. After posting a 6.08 ERA over his first 10 starts this year, Harvey has given up just one earned run over his last two. While that's a small sample, it's still incredibly encouraging to see him pitch like an ace again.  Fernandez has also been pretty good lately. Over his last six starts, he's given up just three earned runs. During that period, he's struck out 63 batters in 41 innings. TOP PERFORMERS Evan Longoria: The Minnesota Twins may have jumped out to an ealry lead, but Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria refused to let his team go quietly. Longoria battled back against the Twins, playing a huge role in the Rays' 7-5 win . With the Rays trailing by one in the sixth inning, Longoria belted a solo home run to tie the game. In the eighth, he broke that tie with another solo shot. That wasn't all, though. Longoria added an insurance run on a single in the ninth inning. He finished the contest 3-for-4, with three runs scored and three RBI. [Elsewhere: The Diamondbacks did something no club has been able to do in nearly a year ] Jon Gray: It's been a few years, but the Colorado Rockies may once again have a legitimate ace. Jon Gray certainly pitched like one during Sunday's 10-2 victory over the San Diego Padres. Gray tossed seven innings in the start, giving up two runs on five hits. He walked one and struck out 12. It was the first time any Rockies pitcher has accomplished that feat since 2010. Jon Gray first #Rockies pitcher to strike out 12 or more batters since 2010 - Ubaldo Jimenez (13, 5/3/10) and Jhoulys Chacin (12, 6/27/10). — Rockies PR (@RockiesPR) June 6, 2016 Corey Seager: Is 22-year-old Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Corey Seager already the best shortstop in the National League? It's certainly looked like it over the past two days. Seager followed up his three home run performance Saturday with another multi-home run game Sunday. Seager smashed two more home runs during the Dodgers' 12-6 win over the Braves. He finished 3-for-5, with two runs scored and four RBI. Seager is now hitting .286/.341/.533 in 249 plate appearances. MUST-SEE HIGHLIGHT    It's hard enough to come off the bench and pinch-hit in a major-league game. It's something else entirely to do that and expect to get a hit against New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman. With the game on the line, the Baltimore Orioles asked catcher Matt Wieters to do just that. With the bases loaded and the Orioles down by one in the bottom of the eighth, Wieters entered the game hoping to give his team a lead. Things didn't look promising at first, as Wieters fell behind 0-2 in the count. On the third pitch of the at-bat, Wieters shot a 101 mph fastball up the middle for a two-run single to put his team ahead. Another run would score on an error, giving the Orioles the eventual 3-1 victory . THE REST OF THE SCOREBOARD    Indians 7, Royals 0: Corey Kluber went six scoreless innings, and was backed by home runs from four different Indians, including Carlos Santana and Francisco Lindor.  Tigers 5, White Sox 2: The Tigers posted a four-run inning in the fifth, helping Justin Verlander win his fifth game of the season. Nationals 10, Reds 9 : Jonathan Papelbon nearly blew the lead in the ninth inning, but was able to escape from a bases-loaded jam to pick up the save. Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 4: Marco Estrada took a no-hitter into the eighth inning. Roberto Osuna nearly blew the lead in the ninth, but managed to hold on. Phillies 8, Brewers 1: Aaron Nola pitched out of trouble early, eventually going six scoreless innings despite eight hits. Nola struck out nine in the win. Angels 5, Pirates 4: Albert Pujols' blast put the Angels ahead in the eighth. Huston Street held off a Pirates come back in the ninth to nail down the save. Astros 5, Athletics 2: Carlos Gomez and Evan Gattis homered to bring the Astros back after an early deficit. Diamondbacks 3, Cubs 2: The Diamondbacks tagged Jake Arrieta for three runs over five innings, giving him his first regular season loss since last July. Rangers 3, Mariners 2: The Rangers rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to complete the sweep against Seattle. Cardinals 6, Giants 3: Madison Bumgarner showed off his pop in batting practice , but the Cardinals bats carried over their pre-game success during the contest. More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: The StewPod: A baseball podcast by Yahoo Sports Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed - - - - - - - Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

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