Good morning, all! And welcome back to baseball season!
On this date two years ago, Egyptian "president" Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down after 31 years in office as millions of protestors took to the streets for an 18th consecutive day. Mabrouk, ya Misr. Hoping for better days ahead.
Also on this date in 1990, "Iron Mike" Tyson's undefeated streak as a professional boxer came to a surprising end when he was knocked out by Buster Douglas in the 10th round of their bout in Tokyo. Tyson lost his title as heavyweight champion and began his downward spiral towards prison, ear-biting, and face tattoos.
Today's timely trivia question: Who did Tyson defeat two years prior to become the undisputed heavyweight champion, and how long did that fight last? (Answer below)
The Big Three
1. Good news! You can finally turn off those silly basketball and hockey games and turn your attention to the sport that really matters. Baseball is back! The offseason is officially over today as the first horde of pitchers and catchers report to their respective camps in Arizona and Florida (check here to see when your team will arrive). Actual games don't start for a little while longer -- so there's still time for Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse to find homes before they're considered behind in their season prep -- but with pitchers throwing bullpen sessions at full bore you're sure to hear of several nagging injuries that were unknown or went unreported during the winter. Fun! Our own Matt Sullivan put together a nice Spring Training preview to get you amped for the coming weeks.
2. The Cleveland Indians capped off a busy offseason with two small but potentially exciting moves over the weekend. The Tribe signed veteran slugger Jason Giambi and right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka to minor-league contracts and deemed them both non-roster invitees for big-league camp. The Giambi deal has got to make Jim Thome feel pretty bad, considering that the Tribe called off their pursuit of him last week because they didn't want to give a roster spot to a guy who could only DH. Unless Cleveland expects Giambi to sprout wings in the next month, I'm not sure how he doesn't fit the same exact mold as Thome. The Tribe also showed up on the Michael Bourn/Kyle Lohse rumor mill for the second time in the last week -- largely due to their protected top draft pick -- but the club is still considered a longshot for either player.
3. Undoubtedly the biggest news of last week was that the Seattle Mariners had agreed to a seven-year, $175 million contract extension with ace right-hander Felix Hernandez, making him the richest pitcher in baseball history. Well, he can't claim that title just yet. Rumors surfaced yesterday that there may trouble ahead for King Felix, as an elbow issue surfaced during a routine physical over the weekend. The right-hander has pulled out of next month's World Baseball Classic, and the Mariners are believed to be re-evaluating Hernandez's monster contract. If his elbow issues do end up being serious, M's fans can breathe a serious sigh of relief that the deal wasn't set in stone. Though King Felix with elbow problems is bad/sad news for baseball in general.
In Other News...
1. The Red Sox are expected to start up extension talks with second baseman Dustin Pedroia during camp. The stocky middle infielder is already signed through the 2015 season and he's coming off a not great season, so an extension seems odd at this point in time, but, ya know, to each his own.
2. The New York Yankees are still on the hunt for a right-handed bat, despite adding Matt Diaz, Juan Rivera, and Thomas Neal in the last few months. The Bombers had another righty outfield bat in Russ Canzler, but they DFA-ed him because I don't know why.
3. Red Sox outfield prospect Bryce Brentz accidentally shot himself while cleaning a gun over the weekend. Why anyone would attempt to clean a gun while loaded is beyond stupid, but I'm glad to hear he's not seriously hurt.
- Revenge of the Base Stealers. A sort of oldie but a goodie about the stolen base renaissance. Did you know that the league was successful on almost 75 percent of stolen base attempts last season? That seems like an awfully high number.
- Capote's 'In Cold Blood' thrown into question by new evidence. One of my favorite books of all time. Of course it's not 100 percent accurate. No retelling ever is, no matter what they claim. Doesn't make the story any less compelling.
- This kid is great:
Trivia answer: While Tyson had defeated Trevor Berbick to take the heavyweight crown in 1986, he was not considered the true champion until he took on Michael Spinks -- who many considered the "lineal champion" -- in June 1988. Billed as one of the toughest fights in history, Spinks only lasted 91 seconds:
Don't know why, but I love that the referee's name is Cappuccino.