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Gabe Kapler’s Pair of Storied Careers

Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, MLB,

Gabe Kapler

In late September, 2005, Gabe Kapler’s major league career took a turn common to many others, but in a very uncommon way. While standing on first base, with teammate Tony Graffanino at the plate, Kapler watched as Graffanino launched a fly ball to left-center field. As the ball came down over the wall to give the Boston Red Sox a 3-2 lead over the Toronto Blue Jays, Kapler came down on the other side of second base.

Having thought the ball might land for a double, Kapler was hustling around the bases and ended up rupturing his left Achilles tendon and wound up being pinch…jogged for to complete the home run. Kapler went on the disabled list and his season was over. He returned in June 2006 and went on to have another successful season, but on December 12, 2006, his career took yet another road common to all players, but again in an uncommon way. At the age of 31, right in the prime of his career, Gabe Kapler retired from playing in the majors. Gabe quit playing and was offered a managerial position with the Red Sox’s Single-A affiliate club, the Greenville Drive, where he would coach the team to a 58-81 record and finish seventh in the South Atlantic League’s Southern Division.

At this time at least, a managerial career was not in Kapler’s list of duties. In December of 2007, Kapler signed with the Milwaukee Brewers as a fourth outfielder. However, he played as if he were never injured, and his superior defense gave him a leg up over teammates Tony Gwynn Jr. and Gabe Gross. As the season went on, Gwynn was sent to the minors and Gross went to Tampa Bay, and Kapler became the fill-in outfielder for all positions when needed. After 2008, Kapler went to Tampa, signing a one-year contract with the team. He is currently splitting time in a platoon role with Gross, playing against lefties.

With six teams and parts of eleven seasons on his resume, Gabe Kapler has established himself as one of the best bench players in the game. While not one of the fastest guys on the base paths, his power and his defense more than makeup for his speed and his patience. Even at the age of 34, if Kapler can learn to hit righties better and show some plate discipline, he could find himself an everyday job to ride out the second leg of his already successful career.

Gallery: Gabe Kapler’s Pair of Storied Careers


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The Toughest League in Baseball

Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Editorial, MLB,

Mariano Rivera

Baseball has been widely criticized in recent years for its “unbalanced” schedule. Thanks to 18 interleague games per season, teams in each league face teams in other divisions an unequal amount of times, which seems unfair since every team not in first place competes for the same Wild Card playoff berth. This makes it extremely hard for some teams to compete, especially in a division such as the American League East, which is arguably not just the toughest division in baseball, but also the toughest division in professional sports.

If you’re a fan of the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, or Baltimore Orioles, you need to face a grim reality. There are 27 other teams in the majors who have a better chance at making the playoffs than your team. With money-spending powerhouses like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, teams with smaller payrolls need a lot more to go “right” for them in order to compete. A lot of people argue this with the fact that the Rays made it all the way to the World Series in 2008, but face it – that was the only AL East team in the last 11 seasons who were not the Yanks or Sox to make it into the playoffs, and it was also the first time in franchise history that the Rays had a winning record.

The Toronto Blue Jays have had six winning records in the last 11 years, but have only finished better than third once. With an 86-76 record last year, they actually finished in fourth place in the AL East. It took the Los Angeles Dodgers 84 victories to win the NL West by two full games. The Orioles haven’t been as fortunate. Ever since Cal Ripken Jr. left town, the O’s haven’t finished with more than 78 wins and have only reached as high as third place once.

It’s very likely that the AL East has three or four of the best teams in the league, but only two can get into the playoffs. The only way to make it fair – to give the four best teams a chance to be in the playoffs – is to eliminate divisional play. But we all know that isn’t going to happen. At the very least, balancing the schedule and eliminating interleague play would give every team a chance to face every other team an equal amount of times, giving value and fairness to the always important Wild Card team. But while baseball stands to make money by sending the Yankees and the Red Sox to any city in the majors, don’t hold your breath.

Gallery: The Toughest League in Baseball


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