That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: The Wild Card Game-Will It Be History?

The Los Angeles Dodgers Cody Bellinger scores ahead of Chris Taylor who hit the game winning two run home run in the bottom of the ninth on Wed Oct 6, 2021 at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles in the NL Wild Card game to advance to face the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS on Fri Oct 8, 2021 (AP News photo)

The Wild Card Game – Will It be History?

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

By Amaury Pi-González

Major League Baseball Wild Card game was added to the postseason in 2012. I would be surprised if the powers to be, maintain the Wild Card Game for years to come. Once in a while, you get a great result that makes justice from a Wild Card game. Best example: the LA Dodgers who won 106 games and finished second to the 107-win-season of the SF Giants defeated the St Louis Cardinals and therefore the Dodgers advanced to what should be an epic showdown in the National League Divisional Series against the SF Giants. These great rivals (only surpassed by the Yankees vs Red Sox rivalry) will face each other for the first time in a postseason since 1883 when both franchises played in New York.

(History) In 1951 both the NY Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers finished season with identical record. Played a NL 3-game tie-breaker series to decide the winner. In game three Giants Bobby Thompson hit the walk off home run known as “Shot ‘Heard ‘Round the World”. I believe the Wild Card should also be a 3-game series, not a one-game win or go home.

In a sport where you play a 162 game season, there is no reason than a team that finishes with 106 wins, which could have won anyplace except their own division, has to play an elimination game in order to stay alive in the playoffs.

It just doesn’t make any sense. If the Cardinals would have eliminated the Dodgers, everybody and their uncle, would be talking today about it and forever. Okay, so everybody agrees that baseball is a marathon.

A marathon is a a race of 26.1 miles. Have you ever seen a marathon where the winner is then asked to run a 100 meter sprint with the guy that finished behind, to decide the race?

This 2021 was a great season for baseball, specially after a covid-shortened 60 game season last year. A week ago there was a chaotic scenario in the American League, where a total of 4 teams could have finished in a tie fighting for two (2) wild card spots.

That did not happened, but it will repeat itself under the current playoff structure. Although I understand the other opinion, where people say “that’s a lot of fun” to have a half dozen teams involved at the end of the season, prior to the postseason.

A lot of casual fans, the ones that do not attend baseball games with frequency, love to watch a game where one team celebrates and the other team cry. It is the thrill and drama of a guaranteed conclusion.

We can all expect more changes in baseball in the years to come and I cannot say today that the Wild Card game is here to stay. The season will come to an end later this month and we will crown a new champion. The most exciting game in baseball is not the Wild Card game, the most exciting game in baseball is the seventh game of the World Series. Period.

Amaury Pi-González elected the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame (BARHOF), Cuban Sports Hall of Fame (Miami), Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame, Advisory Board of ASA (American Sportscasters Association) NYC, Broadcasting sports for over 40 years, and does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

San Jose Sharks podcast with Len Shapiro: Kane story will over shadow everything at Sharks training camp

Things are mounting against San Jose Sharks Evander Kane who was cleared for gambling on hockey and now is not participating in training camp until he’s cleared for sexual assault allegations made by his wife Anna. Here is Kane holding bricks of cash. (file photo Sports Illustrated)

Len Shapiro on the San Jose Sharks:

#1 Len going into Sunday’s split squad games how much of a distraction will the Evander Kane assault allegations by his wife Anna create with the media and fans asking more questions about the accusation than about hockey.

#2 The players will not be available for in person interviews which might be a saving grace for the organization and the dressing room as the Sharks now will be scouting and looking at rookies and diamonds in the rough without in person interviews Kane.

#3 Head coach Bob Boughner and general manager Doug Wilson don’t know if Kane will ever be welcomed back to the club, Kane was expected back after he was cleared of the gambling on hockey accusations but with the domestic sexual assault allegations by Anna even if there is a lack of evidence again it’s a stain between Kane and his teammates if he was to come back.

#4 Len in other hockey news the Sharks have announced that they will be having another Spanish broadcast for TV and live streaming on Sat Oct 30th vs. Winnipeg at SAP Center. The Spanish broadcast will only be for just one game but it’s something that fans in the South Bay would like to see the Sharks do more often.

#5 Len, At the mic for all the Sharks Spanish play by play Jesus Zerate and color analyst Amaury Pi Gonzalez. Zerate is the San Francisco 49ers play by play Spanish announcer and Pi Gonzalez is the Oakland A’s lead Spanish radio play by play announcer.

Join Len Shapiro for the San Jose Sharks podcasts each Saturday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: José Mota and the LA Angels Making History

Los Angeles Angels Spanish broadcaster Jose Mota (left) and author Amaury Pi Gonzalez (right) in the Angels TV booth at Angels Stadium (file photo from Amaury Pi Gonzalez)

José Mota and the LA Angels Making History

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

By Amaury Pi-González

José Mota longtime baseball sportscaster with the LA Angels is the first Latino and former major league player to broadcast for a major league team full-time English language. Starting this season José Mota and Marc Gubicza will alternate as Analyst with veteran Matt Vasgersian and Darren Sutton who will handle the play by play on the LA Angels television network.

With the departure of longtime Angels play by play man Victor Rojas, who took a new job as General Manager of the Texas Rangers Double-A affiliate starting 2021, the Angels hired Matt Vasgersian, well known baseball man from national television, born in Oakland and raised in Moraga, while Daron Sutton returns to the Angels organization in 2021 as a television play-by-play broadcaster.

He previously called Angels games on the radio during the 2000-01. In essence the Angels have revamped their television talent and now have a two-broadcast team. José Mota has worked for the Angels for two decades.

Until 2020 he was handling all the pre and post game shows on Angels television. José is one of three brothers, all sons of former great LA Dodgers Manny Mota. For seven seasons José handled analysis as I did the play by play for the LA Angels Fox Sports Network Spanish telecast.

In 2007 we both worked for the Angels radio station in Spanish KLAA 830AM(now their English flagship station), a 50,000 watts powerhouse, during all 162-regular season games, home and away traveling with the team.

During the 1990’s José played for the San Diego Padres and the Kansas City Royals. Personally, José is as knowledgeable as anybody I have worked with. Straight forward, honest very intelligent and verse in the game of baseball, raised from the LA Dodgers dugout by his father Manuel (Manny) Mota.

A truly great move by the LA Angels, a classy organization, who treats their people with respect and much professionalism. Congratulations to all of them, but especially to my good friend José Mota. Felicidades José.

Stay well and stay tuned.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the Oakland A’s lead Spanish play by play announcer on flagship station 1010 KIQI  Le Grande San Francisco and does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: Rangers announce capacity for opening day; What are the risks?

Opening day in Texas as the Texas Rangers line up on the foul lines at Globe Life Field in Arlington TX on July 24, 2020. The Rangers expect a full house for Opening Day Apr 5, 2021 but mask wearing enforced. (AP News file photo)

Texas Rangers Announce Capacity for Opening Day

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

By Amaury Pi-González

The Texas Rangers are the first team to announce that Globe Life Field will be open for the full capacity when they play their first game of the 2021 season at home against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 5.

Although every seat will be available for 40,518 fans, fans will be required to wear masks. Also, they will be required to maintain social distancing while they enter and exit the stadium as well as standing in line at concession stands.

This includes their two final exhibition games as well. For this Opening Day in Texas the team announced that they are going to sell tickets in “pods”.

Therefore, the Texas Rangers are the first professional team to open to a full capacity since the beginning of the Covid-10 pandemic. The front office also announced they are working with Major League Baseball on other protocols regarding player health and their safety.

With populations of approximately 30 million, Texas is the second most populous State in the country behind California.

The Oakland Athletics announce they are planning for a limited capacity at 20 percent to start of their season opener April 1 at the Oakland Coliseum vs. the Houston Astros, while the San Francisco Giants will soon announce their plans for fans allowed. The San Francisco Giants open season on the road and their home opener will take place on April 9 vs. the Colorado Rockies.

Stay well and stay tuned.

Join Amaury Pi Gonzalez for his weekly podcast of That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

 

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary podcast: Cleveland isolates two players over Covid protocols; How Griffin fits in Brooklyn; plus more

Cleveland third baseman Jose Ramirez (pictured) and outfielder Framil Reyes have both been isolated by Cleveland after it was reported that they were out dinning with Chicago Cubs pitcher Pedro Strop after a Cactus League game (AP News photo)

On That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary pod:

#1 It’s the third time in a year that Cleveland has to isolate players due to Coronavirus protocols. This time third baseman Jose Ramirez and outfielder Franmil Reyes were both placed in isolation after telling the team they both went out for dinner.

#2 It was reported that this was the second time Reyes had broke Covid-19 protocol rules, Reyes and Ramirez had gone out to dinner with Chicago Cubs pitcher Pedro Strop and medical staff told Cleveland manager Terry Francona that they were this to the league.

#3 Former Los Angeles Clipper Blake Griffin has joined the Brooklyn Nets. Griffin joined the Detroit Pistons after leaving the Clippers and signed with the Nets after he completed a buyout agreement with Detroit giving him the opportunity to sign with any team.

#4 Matt Chapman and Matt Olson were using virtual hitting simulating hitting against Cleveland pitcher Adam Plutko. The simulation had a program showing Plutko and his pitches. As A’s reliever Jake Diekman said after watching the simulation 30 minutes later “whack”

#5 A’s second baseman Jed Lowrie who is coming back from knee surgery is expected to be in the line up today. A’s manager Bob Melvin has been watching Lowrie and Lowrie ran bases on Sunday.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez does News and Commentary podcasts each Tuesday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary podcast Tue Mar 9, 2021 by Sports Radio Service | Free Listening on SoundCloud

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: The Experience of Broadcasting during a Pandemic

September 9, 2020 at the Oakland A’s Spanish Radio Booth prior to the game. Smoke from fires over the Coliseum (Photo by Amaury Pi-González)

The Experience of Broadcasting during a Pandemic

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

By Amaury Pi-González

Here are the memories that were created last season while broadcasting in a pandemic. Many folks have asked what was the experience like, so here it is. During an abbreviated 60-game schedule last year, broadcasters did not travel and most called the games from their home parks.

Some had the luck of having equipment installed by their respective teams at their homes. This set-up allowed them the best commute of all, maybe a total of 20-50 steps to their “home park.” Getting to the Oakland Coliseum to do the games for the Athletics on Spanish radio was nothing new.

I drove like I always do when doing a home game. In the past during certain games when the Giants, Yankees, Red Sox and teams that usually sell-out, create an unusual amount of traffic, I would give my driving a rest and take BART, round-trip to broadcast the game. Because no fans were allowed, the commute coming and going was very “light”.

Arriving at the Coliseum about three hours prior to first pitch (like I always do) the whole parking lot was deserted. About 10,000 empty parking spaces and no tailgate parties. There is nothing like arriving at the Coliseum when everyone has their “tailgate cooker” in full progress.

The smells of smoked meat are just phenomenal. The team and MLB modified the way media entered the Coliseum. There were the standard ten questions or so regarding Covid, taking you temp, and then the normal checking of media work bags and the metal detection gates.

As the season progressed, the thing was the Covid-test would be later and of course during this time, the vaccines were in development…and don’t forget to mask up. Taking the elevator to the broadcast level of the Oakland Coliseum, the protocol was not to allow more than two people at the same time.

The operator was wearing a mask, there was a receptacle with hand sanitizer, (inside the elevator), for everyone to use. The Coliseum and the Oakland A’s did an excellent job. There we many places where big bottles of hand sanitizer were available.

As I got to the broadcast level and the door opened, it was an eerie feeling. The whole place was quieter that most hospitals. The broadcast level usually seats other radio reporters and media writers local and visiting. None of that was allowed.

The only people were us, doing the actual Oakland Athletics broadcasts, radio and television, English and Spanish, engineers, a producer or two and that was it. One or two A’s media staff. Maybe 12 people occupying this whole level, which during a well covered game, could seat dozens.

Also a very small crew on the Coliseum scoreboard, PA announcer and technical people area. This is a busy place during the operations of a regular baseball game in normal times. All the announcers had plenty of separation. Most announcers had their own booth. With the exception of the “cardboard fans”, it was 56,000 empty seats per game.

That is a weird experience. It is something I could never get used to. There was no access to the field to see batting practice or going inside dressing room for interviews. This was all conducted via Zoom at a specific time assigned by the A’s media department.

Technology controlled everything. Once the home plate umpire call of Play Ball! I could hear him (and I mean hear him) like he was next to me, in an empty park you can hear stuff you never heard before. Our production used a crowd noise track during all the games, to recreate the sound of fans.

The PA announcer would call the name of each player coming to the plate, like during regular times; the music will play pre-game and during some parts of the games, and very loud. And the game was the game.

MLB has scheduled to open the season on April 1st.The A’s will open at home against the Astros and then the Dodgers. Most teams are expected to allow fans, maybe 25 percent of capacity and the hope is by the All-Star break (mid July) maybe things will be close to normal times. But for broadcasters, the season will begin just like 2020, no traveling, separation, same safety measures, mask and so on, with the good news of some fans in the stands.

That is progress. I have re-created games that were played thousands of miles away of where I was calling the game, including a couple of Caribbean World Series for FOX sports in English. Those games were called from FOX studios in the LA area while the games were taking place in México and Venezuela.

There was no pandemic or national emergency then, but the ‘powers to be’ producers, chose to do those types of productions because they were more cost effective, and in our business you do what is necessary to survive.

Any major league announcers should be able to re-create the game no matter what the conditions or situations are. If they complain, then they should be sent back to the minors. None of my experiences can compare to the 2020 Season. 2020 is one for the records books. 2020 was like broadcasting in the Twilight Zone.

Stay well and stay tuned.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the lead Spanish play by play announcer for Oakland A’s baseball on the A’s flagship station 1010 KIQI Le Grande San Francisco and does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: Washington Football team Replacing traditional Cheerleaders

Quinton Peron and Napolean Jinnies became the first male cheerleaders in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams as the Washington Football Team will be using male cheerleaders as well (NBC4i.com photo)

Washington Football team Replacing traditional Cheerleaders

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

By Amaury Pi-González

The Washington Football team (once the Redskins) continues making changes after their name change last year. This week they announced they would be doing away with the Cheerleading team, the traditional way and will instead make it a coed dance group. Expect some other teams in the future to follow the Washington team.

26 of the 32 NFL teams include cheerleader’s squad in their franchise. How important is this to the average football fan, viewer, and remains to be seen. I expect ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick to have a statue erected on his likeness, because, like him or not, he basically started all these changes in the NFL and other sports with a simple knee he took in protest.

For the record: at the time it happened, I defended his right to free speech under the first amendment, and at the same time I exercise my equal right to free speech when I said I did not like what he did; but I respected it and understood his motivation.

The Washington Football team recently is making news where they do not wanted to make news. After all, they play in the weakest division in the NFL. The NFC East where last season they finished in first place, but with a 7-9 record a .438 winning percentage. They are re-branding this team in, but we all know the overwhelming majority of NFL fans could care less what you name your team, what cheerleaders you have or the color or logos of the uniform.

Even for some Raiders fans, they even travel from Oakland to Las Vegas when they play now, that is important for them, winning and losing is where the passion in football resides, not in these other issues.

In this instance of the Washington Football team and what changes they had made so far, I like to use the iconic quote by the legendary owner of the Oakland Raiders, now Las Vegas Raiders “Just win, baby” by Mr. Al Davis. Sports is part of the “very interesting”, era in history that we are living today.

Today there are arbitrary decisions made in many different places, not only in Sports. Some make sense, others are ridiculous. There was a time when sports were not intertwined with the world of entertainment as much as today.

Social media has facilitated these “changes” in our society. There is a “cancel culture” debate going on for a while now. Recently some of Dr. Seuss, children’s books have been cancelled or eliminated by some.

Like EBay which recently stop selling them, while they still sell Mein Kampf, or books on how to build a nuclear bomb as well as other highly offensive and dangerous books. I also heard in stadiums prior to games many rap songs that literally insult women and call them names. I would never use those names against anyone.

We should never be afraid of information and knowledge; after all, we all die still learning. I believe in more books not less, but as a free society it is very dangerous to be selective in what we “cancel.” I strongly believe in free speech and I can appreciate it passionately, because where I came from, that does not exist.

Some people take it for granted, not me. But I also see a lot of stuff that is silly and stupid. Sports are one of the biggest escapes we have, and still make us feel like kids. No country has a perfect history.

We learned from our mistakes of the past, if we “erase” all of our history, (bad or good) that is not smart for future generations. They are going to have machines making decisions for them, they will be ‘brain dead’ and that is not Kosher. But here is the good news. Most of the cancelling has been done by private companies, not the Government, Thank God.

Stay well and stay tuned.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez does News and Commentary podcasts every Tuesday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (1943-1954)

All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Former ladies players stand in front of the National Baseball Museum Hall of Fame front entrance (photo by the Baseball Museum Hall of Fame in Cooperstown NY)

The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (1943-1954)

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

By Amaury Pi-González

This month is Women’s History Month and to honor the women that played in this professional baseball league, we will go back in time to the 1940’s during World War II. Mr. Phillip Knight Wrigley, the chewing gum manufacturer and owner of the Chicago Cubs, always a promoter of baseball, founded the AAGPBBL, a baseball league where women will play.

Mr. Wrigley figured that since the military draft was calling young men to serve (including some baseball players) and while many minor leagues disbanded, it would be a great idea to have a league exclusively made of women players. This would keep the interest in the game of baseball while the men served in war around the world.

Mr. Wrigley asked the assistant General Manager of the Chicago Cubs to organize a committee to develop ideas on how to proceed. Originally the idea was to play at established Major League parks, but that did not materialized. After much discussion a Women Softball League (non profit) was founded in 1943.

However, the short distances from one base to another, pitching underhanded did not bode well and many thought it will not be the best representation of “baseball”. Softball and baseball differ in many ways, including different rules.

In 1950 independent team owners purchased the league. Cities chosen were Racine and Kenosha, Wisconsin, Rockford, Illinois and South Bend, Indiana. Each team consisted of 15 players, a manager/coach, a business manager and a woman chaperone.

To attract more interest by the public they selected some former Major League players and Minor League players, sports figures as managers and coaches. After the War and with the popularity of television and the Major Leagues they could not survive financially. They played until 1954, their last season. The Rockford Peaches were the most successful team and won a total of 4 titles.

Through the organization of the Players Association in 1986, and through their efforts to gain recognition by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988, the league has now come to be recognized as what it was in actuality; the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL).

The story was featured in the film “A League of Their Own”(1992) starring Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, Lorie Petty and others. At the end of the movie a few of the original players that were still living (not the actors) appeared as visitors at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, where there is an exhibit dedicated to them.

The film made around $132 million. The most memorable line in the movie from Manager Jimmy Dugan -played by Tom Hanks when he tells one of the players “there’s no crying in baseball!”

Tom Hanks, an Oakland native and two-time Academy Award winner arguably best American film actor, was once a vendor during the glory years in the 1970’s at the Oakland Coliseum, when the Oakland Athletics won three consecutive World Series.

Last time I visited the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in 2009 one of the most interesting exhibits was the one dedicated to women in baseball. “Diamond Dreams” documents the story of this league and these great women.

That exhibit was made permanent by the Hall of Fame in 2017. Every baseball fan or history aficionado should plan to visit this great American museum, where the National Pastime is always in full display. Many women during WWII worked like “Rosie the Riveter” building the weapons that won the war as well as other industries. This is the story of these women’s contribution that entertained the country during a very difficult time in history.

Information: The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is currently open 7 days a week until 5PM. Toll-free number 1-877-290-1300. Address: 25 Main Street, Cooperstown, New York, 13326. customerservice@baseballhall.org

Stay well and stay tuned.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the vice president of the MLB Hispanic Heritage Hall of Fame Museum and does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

That’s Amaury News and Commentary podcast: Satchel Paige at 59 with the Athletics

Kansas City Athletics pitchers long time veteran Satchel Paige (left) and rookie Jim “Catfish” Hunter sits for a photo op in this 1965 photo (file photo from MLB Hispanic Heritage Hall of Fame Museum)

Satchel Page at 59 with the Athletics

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

By Amaury Pi-González

If age is a state of mind or like some say “age is just a number”, Satchel Paige proved it when at 59 years of age started a game for the Kansas City Athletics in 1965, becoming the oldest player to see action in a Major League game.

History has it that on September 29, 1965 Paige started a game against the Boston Red Sox. He pitched three complete inning allowed just one hit to lead off hitter and center fielder Jim Gosger and was relieved by Diego Segui.

That 1965 Kansas City Athletics team had such popular players as Dagoberto “Campy” Campaneris and Dick Green who were two of the players that would make the transition from Kansas City to Oakland when the franchise moved to the Bay Area in 1968.

Satchel Paige dominated the Negro Leagues in the 1920’s and 1930’s way before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the LA Dodgers in 1947. His real name was Leroy Paige, who got his nickname Satchel, from carrying suitcases at the Union Railroad Station in Mobile, Alabama as a teenager, where he was born in 1906.

Leroy “Satchel “Paige was truly one of the great characters of the game, here are some of his famous quotes: “I never threw and illegal pitch. The trouble is, once in a while I toss one that ain’t never been seen by this generation”

“I don’t generally like running. I believe in training by rising gently up and down from the bench.” said Paige

“Just take the ball and throw it where you want to. Throw strikes. Home plate don’t move.”

“My pitching philosophy is simple – keep the ball way from the bat.”

“My feet ain’t got nothing to do with my nickname, but when folks get it in their heads that a Feller’s got big feet, soon the feet start looking big.” said Paige

“The only change is that baseball has turned Paige from a second class citizen to a second class immortal.”

“When a batter swings and I see his knees move, I can tell just what his weaknesses are then I just put the ball where I know he can’t hit it.”

“Money and women. They’re two of the strongest things in the world. The things you do for a woman you wouldn’t do for anything else. Same with money.”

“I’ve said it once and I’ll say it a hundred times, I’m forty-four years old.”

“Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”

“Avoid running at all times.”

“If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.”

“Avoid fried foods, which angry up the blood.”

“Not to be cheered by praise, not to be grieved by blame, but to know thoroughly one’s own virtues or powers are the characteristics of an excellent man.”

Note: Cuban-born Diego Segui who came to relieve Paige during this historical game, was also the only Opening Day pitcher for two different teams in the same city. Segui was Opening Day pitcher in the history of the Seattle Pilots in 1969 (only year of their existence) and nine years later when baseball returned to Seattle in 1977 with the Seattle Mariners. Seguí a member the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame. He threw one of the most famous fork-balls.

Stay well and stay tuned.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the vice president of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame Museum and does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: Latino Power The Top Sluggers in Baseball

The Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols poses for a portrait on Feb 18, 2020 at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe during last year’s spring training in Arizona (Orange County Register file photo)

Latino Power The Top Sluggers in Baseball

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

By Amaury Pi-González

The 2021 baseball season is scheduled to begin on April 1. Today, among all active players, the top four (4) active sluggers with the most home runs are all Latinos. Albert Pujols (Angels) 662, Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) 487, Edwin Encarnación (Free Agent) 424, Nelson Cruz (Twins) 417.

They all play with teams in the American League and are the only active Latino players with 400 plus home runs. 1-Albert Pujols (Dominican Republic) will begin the last year of a $240 million ten-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels. Pujols played 2001-2011 with the St Louis Cardinals and since 2012 to date with the Angels.

This would be his 20th season. His most impressive statistic is his runs batted in, which shows his great and consistent hitting excellence. Pujols is #3 among the all-time RBI leaders in history with 2,100 runs-batted-in.

Only Henry Aaron (2,297) and Babe Ruth (2,213) is ahead of him. He doesn’t like to talk about his statistics while playing, he always told me; “hablaremos de eso cuando me retire, pero no ahora” -trans: “when I retire we can talk about it, but not now”.

Pujols is #5 on the All-Time home run list behind, Barry Bonds, Henry Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Alex Rodríguez.  Pujols begins 2021 with 662 home runs; no other active player is remotely close. 2-Miguel Cabrera (Venezuela) Detroit Tigers. He is also at the twilight of his career, one of the top clutch hitters of his generation.

I once asked Cabrera how he manages to hit so well – over .360 with runners in scoring position: “I don’t know, but I have the same approach every time I come to the plate.” Cabrera began with the Florida Marlins in 2003 and played there until 2007.

From 2008 until today with the Detroit Tigers Cabrera is the ninth player in history to win three (3) consecutive batting titles. In 2012 became first player since Carl Yastremski (1967) to win the Triple Crown. He has won most hitting awards. Hard working and an easy going player that is also a future Hall of Famer.

Cabrera is a lifetime .313 hitter in his 18 years of play. Cabrea begins 2021 with 487 round-trippers. 3-Edwin Encarnación (Dominican Republic) at the time of this article he is a Free Agent and looking to return for his 17th Major League Season.

The Chicago White Sox declined their $12 million club option for his services last November, after a disappointing 2020 season he played 44 of the 60 game-schedule with the White Sox hit .157 with ten home runs and 19 RBIs.

During his years in Toronto Encarnación produced the best power numbers at the plate and is considered the best Designated Hitter in the history of the Blue Jays. Played with the Reds, Blue Jays, Indians, Mariners, Yankees and White Sox. Colorful and happy-go-lucky player, after he hits a home run he sticks out his right arm and holds it parallel to the ground as he rounds the bases, the fans called it “Walking the Parrot” – he said, he is fine with it.

He stands today with 424 home runs. 4-Nelson Cruz (Dominican Republic) Cruz is back this season as the Designated Hitter for the Minnesota Twins, a heavy-laden home run line-up. The Twins own the current single season record for most home runs by a team with 307 in 2019.

From 2005-2020 a 16-year career for “Nelly “considered one of the most dangerous and impressive home run hitters in the game, many of his shots flirting with the 500 foot distance are real mammoth shots.

When younger players talk about ‘launch angle’ it is like they’re talking about this man swing, Cruz always swings for the fences. There is no joke to his nickname, “Boomstick”. One of his most memorable quotes: “I always have high expectations for me” At 40 years of age, Cruz is still a very dangerous hitter. He will begin 2021 with 417 home runs.

MLB is altering the baseball slightly this season. A memo was sent to all 30 clubs citing an independent lab that found the new balls will fly one to two feet shorter on balls hit over 375 feet.

However, this will not affect Pujols, Cabrera, Encarnación or Cruz, because for these types of power guys when they square a ball, it would not matter if the ball is heavier or not, it will fly. Latinos not active (all-time home run list) #4 Alex Rodríguez 696, #9 Sammy Sosa 609, #13 Rafael Palmeiro 569, #14 Reggie(Martínez) Jackson 563, #15 Manny Ramírez 555, #17 David Ortíz 541, #20 Ted Williams 521 #31 Adrián Beltré 477, #34 Carlos Delgado 473, #37 José Canseco 462, #40 Vladimir Guerrero 449, #46 Carlos Beltrán 435, #47 Juan González 434, #55 Alfonso Soriano 412.

There are many more great Latino players who retired with less than 400 home runs’ Longest Home Run ever? George Herman “Babe” Ruth (NY) in 1921 hit a 575 foot blast at Navin Field in Detroit; there are stories of Ruth hitting some even longer.

Stay well and stay tuned.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the lead play by play announcer for the Oakland A’s Spanish radio Network and does News and Commentary each week at http://www.sportsradioservice.com