Tuesday, February 12, 2008

2008 Headlines to Watch For.

HGH Testing:
The Mitchell report rocked the sports world back in December, 2007. More then 80 players were accused of steroid use. Baseball started cracking down on the use of performance-enhancing drugs after implementing testing and penalties this decade.

Human growth hormones are a banned substance, but baseball does not test for it, and cheaters continue to seek it out.

The MLB and the NFL ahve come together and contributed $500,000 each to a former UCLA scientist, Don Catlin, to aid his efforts to develop a urine test for HGH. While a blood test for HGH is available, both the players and the commissioner's office believe it's not reliable. But the union has said it would accept urine testing, meaning that Catlin's work is essential to the integrity of not just baseball but to all sports.

Bonds & Clemens:
I'm just as sick of hearing about thess two as the next guy, but it a story that must be watched. Barry Bonds has won more MVP awards than anyone in history. Roger Clemens has the most Cy Young awards. Yet this off-season no team has called on him.

Bonds could face up to 30 years in prison on 4 charges of perjury and one obstruction of justice charge. Clemens could soon be faceing charges of his own.

Neither player has announced his retirement, but both have more pressing issues!

Fairly or not, they are the face of steroids in the majors now.

New ballparks in New York:
The 2008 All-Star game visits Yankee Stadium for a final goodbye. This is the last season at for the Yankees at their venerable stadium, just as it is for the Mets at not-so-venerable Shea stadium in Queens. The teams will leave behind a combined 131 years of history at their old homes.

The house that Ruth built has the richest history in the majors. Yankees stadium is holy ground, the site of some of the most memorable moments in sports history. Shea had its moments too. Three World Series have ended there and the Beatles nearly brought the place down in 1965.

Shea stadium will become a parking lot for the new Citi Feild, Yankee stadium, the shell will fall, but the field will remain ensuring that baseball will still be played.

Youth Movement Taking Over:
Baseball has found new power sources over the last two seasons. In 2006 Ryan Howard exploded for 58 home runs after hitting 22 the year before. Last season Prince Fielder improved from 28 homers to 50. Both were in their third season.

So what young stars will break through this season? Two candidates are Delmon Young and Alex Gordon, the tools are there. And now the opportunity is as well. Young batted in 93 runs. Gordon hit .285 with 12 homers and 52 RBIs over his last 98 games.

The best young arms in the AL in 2007 were all under 30. Cy Young winner CC Sabathia (27), while strong arguments were made for the second place and third place finishers, Josh Beckett(27) and John Lackey(29). Fausto Carmona(24), Erik Bedard(28), and Justin Verlander(24) also got Cy Young votes in 2007. Verlander is 35-15 through the first two years of his career, and already has a no-hitter on his resume.

Over the last three years the NL MVP has been under 30. 2005 Pujols was 25, 2006 Howard was 26 and last season Rollins was 28. Those victories made it three in a row for a 20-something MVP winner. Only two other times in the past 25 years have we seen three straight NL MVPs in their 20's. In 1983-85 with Dale Murphy, Ryan Sandberg and Willie McGee and again in 1992-94 with Bonds winner back-to-back and Jeff Bagwell. If you look at the top 10 finishers in the MVP voting, the average age was 26 the last two years. David Wright, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes, and Hanley Ramirez all recieved MVP votes in either 2006 and/or 2007 and all are under 25 year of age.

The NL has many other young and raising stars, like Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Zimmerman, Brain McCann, Ryan Braun, and Hunter Pence. As does the AL in Scott Kazmir, Felix Hernandez, Jon Papelbon, Houston Street ,and Nick Markakis