Author Archives: William Martin

Another Great Pass Rusher Goes To Canton

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When Jimmy Johnson became the head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 1996, he vowed to do things his way in the same fashion that he did when he led the Dallas Cowboys to a pair of Super Bowl Championships as their head coach in 1992 and 1993. Johnson’s first order of business with the Dolphins was to fix the defense as for a long time Miami’s time was quarterback Dan Marino and 52 other guys. And in 1997, Johnson would use a third round pick on defensive end/outside linebacker Jason Taylor to help to remedy that.

Jason Taylor

At 6’6″, Taylor had the height to be a successful edge rusher in the National Football League, but at just 244 lbs., he was slightly undersized to deal with the mammoth offensive tackles. However there is no statistical category in place which measures a player’s heart and determination which is something that Taylor was one of the best at.

Along with the likes of middle linebacker Zach Thomas, cornerback Sam Madison, and defensive end Trace Armstrong, Taylor would go on to develop a reputation as a stalwart on the Dolphins during his tenure as Miami typically had one of the top defenses in the National Football League.

By 2000, Taylor began to solidify his reputation around the National Football League as one of the top edge rushers. That season would see Taylor have a breakthrough season as he record 14.5 sacks. And this would not go unnoticed as Taylor would earn his first Pro Bowl selection. In 2002, Taylor would lead the National Football League in sacks with 18.5 while the Dolphins had the fourth ranked defense in the league. In 2006, Taylor would record 13.5 sacks, while also returning two interceptions for touchdowns. Taylor would be named as the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year and in the process he became the first Dolphins player since defensive end Doug Betters in 1983 to win the award.

Taylor would continue to put up quality numbers in a Dolphins uniform, but after a falling out with the front office in Miami, he would be traded to the Washington Redskins in 2008. Taylor would only record 3.5 sacks in 13 games for the Redskins and after he sighted the desire to be closer to his family in South Florida, he was released by Washington in order to return to the Dolphins in 2009.

Taylor would sign a one-year deal to return to the Dolphins as he recorded 7 sacks. But in 2010, the allure of competing for a Super Bowl Title would see Taylor join the rival New York Jets. At the age of 36, Taylor was a shell of himself as he only recorded 5 sacks, but his veteran leadership would help the Jets reach the AFC Championship Game for a second consecutive year.

After one season with the Jets, Taylor would return to South Florida for this third and final stint with the Dolphins. Taylor would be used in a reserve role in order to keep him fresh, but he still managed to record 7 sacks on the season, while he also recorded a key tackle in his final game which was subsequently against the Jets who had released him after one season.

When Taylor finished his career, his 139.5 sacks were the sixth most in National Football League history, and his 131 career sacks with the Dolphins are by far tops in the history of that franchise. And aside from being the best pass rusher in the history of the Dolphins, Taylor’s name will live forever in NFL history as he is now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

It didn’t take Taylor that long to be enshrined as he made it on his first year of eligibility which gives you an idea about the respect that he earned. Taylor was one of the best pass rushers of his era, while he consistently went up against left tackles in the National Football League such as Jonathan Ogden of the Baltimore Ravens, Willie Anderson of the Cincinnati Bengals, and Matt Light of the New England Patriots. But the size of these offensive tackles who were all above 300 pounds never fazed the lighter Taylor who went about his business with speed, quickness, and leverage.

So when Taylor was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame tonight, it was only fitting that it was Johnson who inducted him. Thomas would have been a logical fit being that he and Taylor are both godfathers to each other’s kids, but it was Johnson who saw something special in him and thus he gave him a chance to succeed in the National Football League.

Taylor is now the tenth Dolphins player or coach inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he is also the first player that attended the University of Akron to be enshrined. And it is also fitting being that only 24 miles separates Akron from Canton.

Little did we know that when Johnson spent a third round pick on Taylor in the 1997 National Football League Draft that we’d see him end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame where he is now immortalized forever, and more than likely his no. 99 will never be worn by another Dolphins player.

Source: Pro-football-reference.com

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Broner Is His Own Problem

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This past Saturday night saw Adrien Broner taste defeat for the third time as a professional. Broner lost via unanimous decision to Mikey Garcia at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. And although that Broner is only 28-years of age, his career is at the crossroads. Each time that Broner enters the ring he has a tremendous amount of bravado; however in the three fights that could have taken his career to the next level, he has come up short.

In Broner’s losses to Marcos Maidana, Shawn Porter, and most recently Garcia, the theme was the same as he started off slow which allowed his opponent to dictate the pace. Against Garcia, Broner was able to connect with some good shots, but as he failed to follow up, it allowed Garcia to dominate the contest with flurries of punches.

Garcia outworked Broner as he threw 783 punches to the 400 of Broner. Garcia was able to win the fight 117-111 on two of the judges cards, while he got the victory 116-112 on the other card. And after the official decision on the fight was announced, it was vintage Broner as instead of accepting the fact that he had simply been defeated by the better man in Garcia, he decided to taunt the crowd, while also berating Showtime’s Jim Gray who was only asking him questions about his performance.

Broner has the type of personality that any worthwhile promoter would not want to touch with a 10-foot pole as his lack of sportsmanship is disgusting. Broner’s antics of dancing to the ring with the likes of French Montana and having one of the people in entourage brush his hair before and after the fight are good when he wins, but it loses its sizzle as the losses pile up versus quality opponents, along with the fact the he is a sore loser.

Broner tries to be a showman in the fashion of Floyd Mayweather. However being a showman and flamboyant works for Mayweather due to the fact that he is undefeated along with the fact that people love to hate him, while people simply hate Broner.

So now there will be people who still support Broner that’ll point to the fact that he is only 28-years of age which means that he still has quality years ahead of him. However with Broner being unable to rise to the challenge when the chips have been pushed to the center of the table in regards to his career, it should be difficult for anyone to become enthused in regards to thinking about him as a top-tier fighter. Broner has never headlined a pay-per-view, and the one time that this idea was floated around, he nearly got knocked out against Maidana.

But if Broner is going to turn things around it might be time for him to press the reset button in regards to his team. Broner has too many “yes men” around him as his friends and family are simply there to brush his hair and let him know that he is doing a good job. These tactics will allow Broner to win fights in a small arena in his hometown of Cincinnati, but this won’t fly when the bright lights are on him.

Broner is at the point of his career where he must ask himself whether he wants to be recognized for looking good with his nicely brushed hair, or whether it is more about being a good fighter. But if Broner wants to keep focusing on looking good, he will simply just be another fighter.

 

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Welcome To The Club

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This past Sunday afternoon saw Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre become the 31st player in Major League Baseball history to reach to golden plateau of recording 3,000 career hits. Beltre’s name is now among MLB legends such as Pete Rose, Stan Musial, and Willie Mays who reached the milestone, while he is also the first Dominican born player to achieve the feat.

Beltre’s Major League Baseball journey began as a 16-year old kid who was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995 out of the Dominican Republic. By 1998, Beltre was ready to make his MLB debut and in 77 games for the Dodgers that season, he would hit .215 with 7 home runs and 22 runs batted in. In 1999, Beltre would become the Dodgers everyday third baseman as he batted .275 with 15 homers and 67 runs batted in. Beltre’s only playoff appearance with the Dodgers would come in 2004 as he helped them win the National League West for the first time since 1995. Beltre would also finish second in the National League MVP voting that season as he batted .334 with 48 home runs and 121 runs batted in.

Following that season Beltre would leave the Dodgers as a free agent to sign with the Seattle Mariners. In five years with the Mariners, Beltre was never able to help the organization reach the postseason, but his career in the Pacific Northwest would be highlighted by him winning a pair of Gold Glove Awards.

In 2010, Beltre would join the Boston Red Sox on a one-year deal. And it appeared to be a solid signing as Beltre would be in the middle of the Red Sox lineup with another Dominican born player in designated hitter David Ortiz. That season Beltre batted .321 with 28 homers and 102, but Boston would fall short of making the playoffs. But after one season in Boston, Beltre would find something that he never had during his career which was a home.

In 2011, Beltre would join the Rangers and it has been a marriage made in heaven. That season Beltre batted .296 with 32 home runs and 105 runs batted. Beltre would help the Rangers win the American League Pennant for the second consecutive year, and in the World Series he would bat .300 while hitting a pair of home runs.

Since Beltre has been with the Rangers, they have only had one losing season, while they have made four trips to the postseason. And for Beltre he has simply continued to be the model of consistency.

For Beltre’s career he has averaged 175 hits per year, while he is a career. 286 hitter. Beltre’s career batting average with the Rangers is .308 which is tied with Will Clark for the second most in franchise history and he is only 24 homers shy of becoming the fifth player in the club’s history to hit 200 career home runs. And as Beltre reached the milestone with his fourth-inning double off of Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Wade Miley this past Sunday, he punched his ticket to Cooperstown, New York and the Baseball Hall of Fame.

When Beltre collected his 3,000th hit on Sunday afternoon, it wasn’t just him who was rounding first base to mark this magical moment, but it was entire nation which was on his back. The Dominican Republic has a proud baseball tradition that includes the likes of Pedro Guerrero, Vladimir Guerrero, and Ortiz, but it was Beltre who was the first from this nation to get to 3,000. And it is amazing that when Pedro Martinez was enshrined in Cooperstown last summer, he was only the second player from the Dominican Republic who received the honor. However that will be changing as Vladimir Guerrero should be a lock next year after barely missing out this time around and the same can be said about Ortiz in 2022. Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Albert Pujols in the next Dominican born player on the list as he is 86 hits shy of 3,000, while he already has 607 home runs, and when his playing career is over he will be Cooperstown bound as well.

But right now it is all about Beltre who was able to enjoy his moment with his family as well as the home fans at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas. And even though that Beltre has an intense hatred for people who attempt to touch his head, there isn’t a person who is associated with Major League Baseball that didn’t take joy in seeing him collect his 3,000th, while he also solidified his Cooperstown resume.

Source: Baseball-reference.com

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The Rich Just Got Richer

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Will the acquisition of starting pitcher Yu Darvish help the Los Angeles Dodgers make the World Series?

 

 

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Manny’s Not Being Manny

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The 2010 Major League Baseball Draft could go down as one of the best in baseball history as it has produced plenty of studs. Some of the names from this draft include Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper and Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale. And one name in that mix as well is Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado.

Machado was the third overall pick of that draft and in playing third base has been compared to former New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez for his size, speed, and power. Machado began to show his potential when the Orioles called him up from the minors in 2012. That season Machado would appear in 51 games for the O’s as he batted .262 with 7 homers and 26 runs batted in. In 2013, Machado was selected to his first All-Star team, however things would take a turn for the worse for him on September 23, 2013 when he suffered a knee injury against the Tampa Bay Rays. Machado was jogging to first base when his knee gave out. Machado would undergo reconstructive surgery with the initial diagnosis calling for him to be sidelined for four-six months.

Because of the injury Machado was only be able to appear in 82 games for Baltimore in 2014, but he was still able to help the Orioles win their first American League East Title in 17 years. By 2015, Machado was finally healthy as he was able to appear in all 162 games for the O’s. For the season Machado batted .286 with 35 home runs, 86 runs batted in, and 20 stolen bases and in the process he finished fourth in the American League MVP voting. Machado would keep that trend going in 2016 by hitting .294 with 37 homers and 96 runs batted in to help Baltimore once again make the postseason. And even though that the Orioles lost in heartbreaking fashion to the Toronto Blue Jays last October in the A.L. Wild Card Game, there was still optimism around this club heading into 2017 due to Machado. However this season has been a struggle for the Orioles and Machado alike.

This year Machado is only batting .241 with 18 homers and 53 runs batted in. Baltimore is currently 48-53 as they are 7 games behind the Boston Red Sox for first place in the American League East and 5.5 games behind the Kansas City Royals for the final wild card spot. Machado cannot be blamed for all of the Orioles problems this year, but the fact that he is having a subpar season cannot be overlooked.

Machado’s timing at the plate simply has not been there for the majority of the year. After two months Machado was only batting .191 which was very surprising. And although that Machado has gotten his batting average up to .241, he just has not had the impact that was anticipated when the season began.

And whereas this season appears to be a wash for the Orioles as their current record is 48-53, it is not that far-fetched to believe that the Orioles can begin to prepare for next season which starts with Machado seeking to improve his game.

I don’t believe that it would take too much for Machado to get back on track as making and adjustment in his batting stance could do wonders. Machado has also found himself fishing for pitches that in the past he would lay off of. Machado has been chasing too many breaking pitches this year, while he has been missing fastballs that are right in his wheelhouse over the plate. There is also the possibility that Machado could be the victim of Major League Baseball changing its strike zone which has thrown several players off this season.

But whereas the Orioles have made the playoffs in all of the even numbered years since 2012, while missing out during the odd numbered years, all signs point to them turning it around next year. And if that is the case, Machado will need to be a big part of it which means that he’ll have to regain the form that has made him a three-time All-Star.

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