A blend of pop culture, humor and fantasy baseball
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The hum of pre-teen gossip could be heard as Mr. Pucci rolled the standard definition, 17-inch television set into his classroom. Sixth grade at Hickory Ridge Elementary School was split up into three separate classes, but on this day I, along with 60 of my fellow peers, had assembled to witness history as one group.
We watched Bill Clinton's inauguration as he became the 42nd President of the United States on January 20th, 1993.
We call that perspective.
Last Friday, Shaq officially wrapped up his 19-year (or nearly five presidential terms) NBA career with a press conference at his home. The big man exited stage right by also retiring his numerous nicknames. "The Big Aristotle," "The Shaq Daddy," "The Shaqtus," and, as he put it, "never to be duplicated Superman" are headed to the Hall of Fame with him.
It took a few days to hit me, but Shaq is one of the few future Hall of Famers I had the privilege to watch play his entire career. His jerseys, t-shirts, shoes, trading cards, and even a life-size cardboard cutout of the "Diesel" spent time inside the Fowler home during the mid-1990s. This is not to forget, I'm the proud owner of a VHS copy of "Blue Chips." Shaq's Hollywood debut as Neon Bordeaux has provided my brother and I hours of entertainment reciting memorable quotes from the guy who should have earned a "nuclear surfboard" as a member of the Western Dolphins.
In a way, not only did Shaq retire last Friday, but so did part of my childhood.
On a brighter note, let's talk fantasy baseball.
The Cleveland Indians bid to crash the American League playoff party took a serious hit over the weekend.
Prior to the Texas Rangers shutting them out in back-to-back games, the Tribe's offensive woes date back to May 11th when Grady Sizemore was listed disabled for the second time this season. Seven days later, Travis Hafner was shelved and hasn't returned. Cleveland has posted a 10-13 record since May 11th (Sizemore returned on May 25th) and the Detroit Tigers have climbed within 2.5 games of first place in the AL Central.
Since May 18th, the Indians have been shutout five times (shutout six times total this season, Angels April 12th). However, the Tribe's bats have averaged 4.26 runs per game in that same stretch. That is until you remove their top three scoring surges when they dropped 19 runs on the Kansas City Royals, 12 on the Cincinnati Reds and 13 on the Toronto Blue Jays. If you strip out those 44 runs and average the remaining 20 games, Cleveland scored 2.7 runs per game.
Cleveland Indians Offensive Struggles
|Time Frame||Games||Runs Per Game||Shutout||Record|
|May 11th-June 5th||23||4.3||5||10-13|
|May 11th-June 5th|
w/o top 3 games
The Indians still rank ninth in MLB batting average at .257, but over the last seven days rank 26th at .235. With the exception of Asdrubal Cabrera (.301), nobody is hitting near .300. When he was added to the DL, Hafner was hitting .345 with an OPS of .958 (team-high).
Cleveland's young pitching staff is a big reason why the team is sitting in first place and will need to work out of a recent funk (5.91 ERA over the last seven days) to keep the Indians atop the AL Central.
Outside of his remarkable 4-1 record and microscopic ERA and WHIP, which I'll touch on more here in a second, Vogelsong's journey back to the West coast is inspiring.
Following the 1998 draft, it took Vogelsong two years to make his big league debut. He played in a handful of games for the Giants in 2000. In 2001, he was 0-3 with a 5.65 ERA before he was traded in the deal that brought Jason Schmidt to San Francisco.
In five seasons with the Pirates, Vogelsong posted a 10-19 record thanks to a robust 6.00 ERA.
|A Decade's Difference|
|2001 Giants (13 gms)||0-3||5.65|
|2011 Giants (10 gms)||4-1||1.68|
From 2006-2010, he was off the grid before the Philadelphia Phillies signed him to a free agent deal. The Phillies released him by mid-July. The Angeles gave him a shot. He was released in November. Then this past January, the Giants re-signed the guy they drafted 13 years ago.
A decade after Vogelsong started 0-3 in the Bay; the starting pitcher is currently 4-4 with a 2.60 ERA in his Giants career. If his teammates could provide some offensive support when he takes the mound, Vogelsong would own a few more wins. He's allowed one or fewer runs in six straight starts and only has a 3-1 record with two no decisions to show for it. The Giants have scored 2.16 runs per game in that same stretch.
Fowl Out ... of Options
If you are still looking for a catcher to replace Buster Posey or are like me and frequent the waiver wire buffet for a catcher of the week, give Seattle's Miguel Olivo a look. In the past seven days, Olivo has slugged three homers, drove in eight runs and scored four runs. If you expand the timeframe, Olivo has roped four homers, drove in 13, and scored seven times in the last two weeks. He's owned in 44.9 percent of leagues.
Ohio State University President Gordon Gee would love to trade ... err ... swap places with New York Mets starting pitcher Dillon Gee these days. The 25-year old has won four straight outings to improve to 6-0 with a 3.33 ERA and 0.86 WHIP. He's owned in 11.7 percent of FOXSports.com fantasy baseball leagues.
Super-agent Drew Rosenhaus running into the arms of a fresh-out-of-prison Plaxico Burress made me want to throw up in my Fruit Loops this morning. Rosenhaus claims every NFL team will be interested in signing his client.
Now is when the NFL lockout is a good thing. It will give Plax the time he needs to re-sign with the only team that matters: his family.
Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.