April 5, 2010

Ten Milestones to Watch for in 2010

If you're a sportsfan...today is kinda like Christmas morning.

Sure, no presents under the tree (and if you still have your tree up...wow, get with the program!), but you've got 13 baseball games, Tiger Woods back on the links at Augusta and tonight, Duke versus Butler.

AND...the Yankees have the worst record in the league! Seriously, can you remember an Opening Day where New York is already 0-1?

So, as if you didn't have enough to pay attention to, here are ten things you should be watching for over the span of the 2010 baseball season.

ALEX RODRIGUEZ, New York Yankees
It would be really, really easy to write on and on about Alex Rodriguez. The fact that, at 33, he’s just 17 home runs away from becoming the youngest player to hit 600 home runs is too easy. The fact that he’s about to leapfrog plenty of Hall of Famers as he climbs up the all-time RBI list is like taking candy from a baby. The fact that, last year, by finishing with 30 home runs and 100 RBIs for the 13th time in his career, he broke a tie with Manny Ramirez, Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx for the most in MLB history...like shooting fish in a barrel. In short...dude is good.

JIM THOME, Minnesota Twins
The Twins will open their new stadium with future Hall of Famer Jim Thome in the fold and 36 home runs away from 600 for his storied career. And since it is fun to mention...also within shouting distance for Thome (provided he plays another two seasons), is the all-time strikeout record. With 2313 to his credit(?), the five-time All-Star is 284 shy of Reggie Jackson’s record 2597 whiffs.

DERREK LEE, ALFONSO SORIANO and ARAMIS RAMIREZ, Chicago Cubs
Last season, Chicago's Central division rival Houston Astros had three players top 300 home runs for their career. This year, the Cubs are in the same position by having Derrek Lee (293), Alfonso Soriano (290) and Aramis Ramirez (264) all within shouting distance of the milestone. Ramirez is the longshot given the shoulder injury that plagued him for most of 2009, but at only 31…it is worth mentioning that only the afore mentioned Pujols and Adam Dunn are younger and have hit more.

TREVOR HOFFMAN, Milwaukee Brewers
Quietly, reliever Trevor Hoffman is still out there putting up great numbers. After being left for dead following the 2008 season (really San Diego…releasing Hoffman by fax?), the future first ballot Hall of Famer took to the hill in Milwaukee and put together one of his top four or five seasons. A couple of years ago, Hoffman became the first closer to reach 500 saves. By the time the rest of us celebrate Memorial Day, he’ll have already become the first to 600.

BILLY WAGNER, Atlanta Braves
After a 2009 season that saw him bounced from his closer role in New York to setting up Jonathan Papelbon in BeanTown, Billy Wagner is being looked at as the every day closer for the Braves. Should “Billy the Kid” do the expected and notch at least 15 saves, he’ll reach 400 for his career…something only four other relievers (Trevor Hoffman, Mariano Rivera, Lee Smith and John Franco) have done. Not bad for a “rat” who was run out of Philadelphia following the 2005 campaign.

JAMIE MOYER, Philadelphia Phillies
As if you needed to be reminded of this…but Jamie Moyer is old. How old? He is the one player out there that can tell you where he was when JFK assassinated. And not only is he the oldest player out there…he bests the next closest (Trevor Hoffman) by close to five years! And since he's been out there longer than Jesus walked the Earth, he is just 14 bombs (491) behind Robin Roberts total of 505 when it comes to home runs allowed. Should Moyer get the opportunity, he’ll tick closer and closer to Hall of Famer Roberts and, hopefully, surpass the one-time Phillies hurler on the all-time list.

ALAN EMBREE, Colorado Rockies
Also from the "they've played a long time" department...veteran lefty Alan Embree is a mere 25 appearances away from tying Cy Young on the all-time games pitched list with 907. Over the span of Embree’s 17-year career, he hasn’t pitched in LESS than 25 games since 1996, when he got the call from the pen only 24 times.

FRANK THOMAS and BILL MAZEROSKI
Chicago is dusting off Luis Aparicio's number 11 for future Hall of Famer Omar Vizquel and on August 26, the Southsiders are planning on retiring Thomas’ number 35. It's the least they can do for their team leader in runs scored, total bases, doubles, home runs and RBI. Over in Pittsburgh, the Pirates will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bill Mazeroski’s game winning home run in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series by unveiling a statue outside PNC Park.

ALBERT PUJOLS, St. Louis Cardinals
“Prince Albert” starts 2010 with 366 home runs. Should he get those 34 and reach 400 by the end of this season, he’ll be the youngest National Leaguer to reach the milestone (30 years old) and second youngest overall after Alex Rodriguez who was a couple of months shy of his 30th birthday when he belted his. Now, assuming Pujols gets 30 or more home runs, 100 RBI and hits better than .300 (something he’s done in each of his nine seasons so far), he’ll not only be the only cat to start his career with ten straight seasons with those numbers, but also…he’ll be the only player to have done it in ten straight seasons in a row. It’s safe to call this guy the best in the game, right?

MATT STAIRS, San Diego Padres
When Matt Stairs hits the field for San Diego this season, it’ll be his twelfth Major League team…a record he would share with former reliever Mike Morgan and current National Ron Villone. Also interesting to me, will be that first time that Stairs goes yard for his new team. You see, when he hits that first home run (number 260 for his career), he’ll be doing something no one else has done…hit a home run for 11 Major League franchises. Add to that, this nugget…the first time he goes deep as a pinch hitter, the 18-year vet will tie Cliff Johnson as the all-time leader with 20 pinch hit home runs. Oh, and in case you were wondering what time he didn’t hit a home run with…it would be that same team that drafted him. The Montreal Expos.

For a division-by-division breakdown of the upcoming milestones this season look no further than below:
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST



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