It’s everyone’s favorite time of the year. Not opening day or the conclusion of the NCAA Tournaments — it’s the starts of the AtD Playoffs. For the first week top-seeded Sports Assistant Brandon Gould will match up against Sports Editor Garrett Rasko-Martinis and Editor-in-Chief Bobby Olivier. Staff Writer Chris Rotolo will be asking if amateur baseball games should use wooden bats, the merits of the Eagles trading McNabb and who will be the next MLB star?
1. A 16-year-old from Marin Catholic High School in Marin County, California is the latest victim of a severe aluminum baseball bat induced injury, when he was struck in the head by a line drive on March 11 during a pre-season game. This incident has once again spurred the argument of whether wooden bats should be mandatory in amateur baseball events. Do you believe amateurs should be forced to use wood bats for safety reasons alone if at all?
GRM: In any sport there will be freak accidents and players are going to get hurt. Is it something that should be done to protect these kids? It probably is. Will it happen? I doubt it. The reason they have aluminum bats in the first place is to help the younger players hit the balls further and get more home runs. This in turn leads to better TV and more ratings and more money. Sure, if you take away aluminum bats, the balls won’t jump off the bat as quickly, but there will still be freak accidents where players are struck in the head with line drives. In the end making the kids use wooden bats will probably lessen the severity of some of these incidents, but the rule won’t be implemented because it would cost TV viewers in the long run because there would be less home runs.
BG: I believe that amateurs should be switched over to wooden bats not only for safety, but also to prepare them for a possible future in baseball as well. Last time I checked they use wooden bats in the major leagues, so why should youth, high school and college players be using aluminum? Sure, it makes home runs look and sound cooler, but it’s not really helping anyone. A ball that is hit with an aluminum bat travels about four miles-an-hour faster than a ball hit with a wooden bat. In some cases that lower velocity could save a life. The transition from aluminum to wood will take some time, but in the long run it’ll be better for everyone if we scrap the aluminum and go with wood.
BO: Honestly, I had not heard about this incidence until just now and was not aware that this was a growing problem. Having heard this, I would have to agree that, if it is proven that wooden bats make a significant difference in potential injuries, wooden bats are the answer. The fact that balls coming off of aluminum bats and killing or severely injuring those who play the game, is an aspect that should be remedied if possible. Also, getting kids used to the weight distribution of a wooden bat early is probably a good thing considering when I switched from an aluminum bat league to a wooden bat league during high school, it was a huge difference in feel. When it comes down to it, baseball is a game, it’s not worth risking lives if a small change like what the bats are made out of can avoid a fatal problem.
CR: Garrett gets 3 for pointing out the probable course of action … nothing, and basing the non-action on money. Brandon gets 2 for pointing out that a switch should be made, not only for safety reasons, but to prepare an amateur for the future. Bobby gets the 1.
2. Donovan McNabb, the Eagles franchise quarterback for more that a decade, is on the brink of being traded to the Oakland Raiders. McNabb has led the Eagles to five NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl appearance in 2004. Is it the right decision for the Eagles to part ways with McNabb and if so, do they owe him more than shipping him off to one of the worst teams in the NFL?
GRM: Even as a die-hard Giants fan I have always felt bad for Donovan McNabb. If you talk to an Eagles fan they all have different reasons for hating McNabb, but all that guy has done is played his heart out for fans that started booing him literally the second he was drafted. The only way trading him makes sense is if the Eagles think they have another quarterback who could step in and be a winner right away and the Eagles don’t have that. Kevin Kolb may have played well in a few games last season, but that was way too small a sample size to convince me he can play as well as McNabb. And Michael Vick, even if he could play anywhere near his level of play pre-incarceration, is still not as good a quarterback as McNabb. If the Eagles still decide to ship him they should have the decency to not stick him in a broken franchise like the Raiders without his consent.
BG: McNabb has done about everything he could, except win a Super Bowl, in Philadelphia and it looks like it is Kevin Kolb’s time, so if
the Eagles can get the pick that they are looking for than I don’t see why they wouldn’t trade McNabb. The Eagles owe McNabb more than a ticket to Oakland, but there aren’t any better options right now. Don’t forget that the New England Patriots traded Richard Seymour, a key part to their Super Bowl victories, to the Black Hole for a first round pick last offseason. Sometimes an organization has to move on to take that next step forward and if the Eagles need to trade Donavan McNabb to do that than so be it.
BO: I have talked to a few Eagles fans about this potential trade and most are in support of getting McNabb out of Philadelphia to make room for Kevin Kolb. I am going to have to agree, simply because without Brian Westbrook to dump the ball off to, McNabb does not really fit with the Eagles’ offense anymore. Historically, McNabb has not been very accurate throwing the long ball and has been prone to low throws in the mid-level passes as well. He got lucky this past year with DeSean Jackson being able to break free and chase down several balls that were not on the money, but this year, teams are going to know about Jackson as the deep threat, and a more accurate passer is going to be needed with that tighter coverage. The Eagles are ready to move away from the McNabb-to-Westbrook screens and unfortunately for McNabb, it’s time to catch a flight to Oakland.
CR: Garrett gets 3 for commenting on Kolb’s inadequacies and lack of in game experience at the position. Bobby earns 2 for crediting the players around McNabb for making the quarterback what he is. Brandon grabs 1.
3. There are a slew of young 20 year olds winning roster spots and starting jobs out of spring training this year, namely Jayson Heyward of the Braves, Austin Jackson of the Tigers, not to mention all the young talent coming back like Rick Porcello (Detroit) and NL Rookie of the Year Chris Coglan. Not confined to these four players, who will be the next super star in Major League Baseball?
GRM: Stephen Strasburg is going to be an absolute stud for a long time. He may be starting the season in the minors, but it’s only a matter of time before he’s called up and will likely be the only reason people will be interested in the Nationals this season. When
comparing him to Aroldis Chapman, the other anticipated pitching prospect to make his debut this spring training, Strasburg may not throw as hard but he has way more polish. As opposed to Chapman, Strasburg has more than two Major League-caliber pitches and he has significantly better control. Chapman struggled in spring training but Strasburg was absolutely lights out and he is poised to enter the Major Leagues and give the Nationals their first dominant ace. Heyward has all the tools to be an All-Star and an overwhelming offensive force, but I think Strasburg has the raw ability to be one of the best, if not the best, pitchers in the majors in a few years.
BG: Those four players have certainly shot their way up the ladder pretty quick, but I think the next big superstar in Major League baseball is going to be Buster Posey. Posey is a 23-year-old catcher in the San Francisco Giants’ organization who has some serious potential. He hit 18 home runs, drove in 80 runs and posted a .325 batting average last season in A+ and AAA play. He’s already made it to the show, he played in seven games in 2009, and some scouts say the sky will be the limit once Posey takes over for Bengie Molina. I’m not saying that Posey is the next Joe Mauer, but I think he has the tools to be one of the best catchers in the league.
BO: As a Yankee fan, I really hope Austin Jackson does not turn out to be the next big thing, as they just dealt him away, but I really like what I have seen with New Jersey’s own Rick Porcello. It is quite depressing that he is less than a year older than me and is already hurling in the majors, but Porcello definitely has the potential to be great. He can dial it up to 96-97 mph with his fastball and has very good control for a rookie (2.7 walks per nine innings). Porcello also sported a 3.96 ERA in the American League, not an easy task for any pitcher. Finally, he has Justin Verlander, another hard thrower to model himself after. He has what it takes to be an All-Star in the next few years.
CR: Brandon picks up 3 for offering an intriguing answer to this question with Buster Posey. Looking back, Posey did win every major collegiate award in 2008 when he hit a robust .463, with 26 home runs and 93 RBIs for Florida State. Bobby gets 2 for his Porcello argument. And Garrett picks up 1 … I’m still skeptical about Strasburg , his off-speed stuff is not on the level and anybody can hit a fastball in the show.
Garrett moves on to the finals, 7 – 6 – 5
“I’m gonna pull a John Elway and retire on top after I win the finals.”