Friday, May 20, 2011

WTF?! Sean Burroughs is Back In the Show

Hey Padre fans, remember Sean Burroughs?  That third baseman who was supposed to the best homegrown product since Tony Gwynn?  Well, his career never quite panned out, and traded him to Tampa Bay before the 2006 season. Well, Burroughs only amassed 25 at-bats with the Rays that year, and never played in the big leagues again.  Well, until now.

The Arizona Diamondbacks called up the now 30 year old infielder to take the spot of Melvin Mora, who went on the bereavement list.  Playing for the AAA Reno Aces, Burroughs put up a line of .386/.434/.571 in 80 at-bats so far in 2011.  The power still isn't there, as Burroughs has hit just one homer.

This is a great story of perseverance.  Burroughs could have easily walked away from the game, and moved to the next phase in life. He's made around $5 million in his career, and has had some success at the big league level.  He hadn't played a big league in five years, and it looked like he never would again.  Burroughs' story is truly an inspiration.

Note:  Burroughs went 0-1 in his first big league action since 2006.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Trouble With Milton Bradley

The Seattle Mariners made it official today, and released Bradley.  He had been designated for assignment last week, and no team was going to claim him, and pick the $9 million in salary still owed to Bradley.  He is now a free agent, and any team is free to sign him for the pro-rated minimum.  Will any team step up, and offer Bradley a contract.

For a brief time, Bradley looked like an MVP candidate.  The San Diego Padres acquired Bradley in 2007, and he provided the only protection that Adrian Gonzalez ever had in his tenure in San Diego.  He hit .313, with 11 HR's, and put up a Pujols-like OPS of 1.004.  With him and Adrian, along with solid veterans Mike Cameron and Khalil Greene, the Padres looked poised for a deep run to a pennant.  Then on "Black Sunday" Bradley and Cameron converged on a fly ball that led to Bradley stepping on Cameron's hand.  It ended Cameron's season.  Then, Bradley argued with an umpire, which lead to Padres manager Bud Black trying to restrain Bradley.  Milton tore his ACL, and was lost for the season.  The Padres went on to lose a one game playoff to Colorado.

The following year, Bradley signed with Texas and had a monster year, in which he led the American League in on-base percentage.  It resulted in Bradley signing a 3 year, $30 million deal with the Chicago Cubs.  Since then, Bradley's behavior has become increasingly erratic.

He was arrested in the offseason, for making threats to his wife.  She has since filed for divorce.  He has argued with reporters, announcers, and teammates.  At the end of the day, his production has hasn't matched the magnitude of his headaches.

Will Bradley get another chance in Major League Baseball?  I doubt it.  The guy can't play defense anymore, and he hit .209 in his tenure in Seattle.  He's 32, so he is at the end of his prime.  He is a headcase, who's risks outweigh the rewards he presents.  Sorry, Bradley, it doesn't look like you will be passing go anytime soon. 

Will We Ever See a Gay Athlete?

Articles all over the Internet have reported that Phoenix Suns president Rick Welts came out of the closet, and told the world that he was gay.  The admission is of huge importance, because he is the first person I can think of who admitted he was homosexual, while still active in professional sports.  Former athletes like John Amechi, and Billy Bean(former Padres outfielder, not the GM) have come clean about their sexual orientation, although years after they were active.  My question is:  are athletes willing to embrace a homosexual teammate?

Honestly, I have no idea.  It is a nice thought, though.  While I wasn't alive then, I remember reading about all the horror that Jackie Robinson faced when he broke the color barrier.  Teammates refused to shake his hand, or even acknowledge the fact he was alive.  Fans booed, cursed, and spit in his direction, opposing players tried to slide into him, hoping to hurt them.  But Robinson kept playing, despite all of the adversity, and became one of the most respected athletes in the history of professional sports.  His contributions to the game will never be forgotten.

Would a gay athlete face the harsh treatment that Robinson did?  Personally, I think that he would not, but I do not feel that he would be openly embraced.  Unfortunately, our society still looks down of homosexuals.  Here in California, voters rejected a bill that would have allowed gays to marry.  It has since been overturned, and gays are allowed to marry here in California, but the measure still has its fair share of opponents.

A gay athlete would face so much scrutiny.  Many closed-minded teammates wouldn't want to shower around him, because he "might stare at their junk."  Some fan would boo the athlete simply because of his sexual orientation.  The story would be all over the news, adding controversy to an athlete who just wants to play the game he loves.  While I feel many of his teammate would support their gay teammate, just as many would not want him around, potentially destroying the cohesion of the team.

Billy Bean, a former Padres outfielder said teammates Trevor Hoffman, and Brad Ausmus supported him when he decided to come out.  Former Padres catcher, and Bean's AAA roommate Brian Johnson told Bean that "he wishes he would have told him when they played together, and he would have supported him 100 percent."

While these athletes are very encouraging, there are athletes like former NBA point guard Tim Hardaway.  In 2007, during a radio interview, Hardaway admitted that "I am homophobic, I hate gay people."

His comments, although ignorant, share the sentiments of many professional athletes, Hardaway just had the gall to admit to it.

As a sports fan, I would definitely support a gay athlete.  We are all people, and a gay man has the same right to play sports as a heterosexual.  I do not think an active athlete will come out anytime soon, but I hope someone does.  It would be a big step for ensuring equality for everyone.  Kudos to Rick Welts for being a pioneer.