New Players Abound In 2011 MLB Season

With the shortest offseason in major sports, a lot can happen in around baseball during the winter, and this year was no different. There were a number of high quality free agents available for the taking, and as a result a lot of teams will have a new look come opening day. 

Few teams did more to improve their stock than the Boston Red Sox. In early December, the Sox landed the coveted first basemen Adrian Gonzalez in a trade with the San Diego Padres. Not only will this provide Boston with a big left-handed bat in the middle of its lineup, but also strengthens their defense. Several days later, Boston signed free agent left fielder Carl Crawford, a player that will be a spark at the top of the batting order throughout the season. Boston also bolstered its bullpen by signing Bobby Jenks as a setup man.

Cliff Lee, who brought the Texas Rangers to the World Series last season, was also up for grabs this offseason. After an intense bidding war, the Phillies beat out the Yankees and acquired the talented southpaw. Lee took less money to accept the Phillies offer, a team he took to the Fall Classic in 2009, and joins Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels as arguably the best rotation in the majors.

Another coveted pitcher, Zach Grienke, also changed hands. The subdued right hander had long been the lone bright spot for the Kansas City Royals over the years, but was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers during the offseason in an effort to keep up with a loaded NL Central.  

There are a number of new players in Tampa Bay as well. Just one season after winning the AL East for the second time in three years, the Rays have a virtually new team. Crawford is gone along with Matt Garza (Cubs), Carlos Pena (Cubs) and Jason Bartlett (Padres). To help fill the void, the Rays brought in some very familiar faces – Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon – hoping for some veteran production out of the two former Sox.

Staying in the East, the Baltimore Orioles have long been in the basement, but they took steps to compete with the Sox, Yankees, Rays and even Jays this offseason. The Orioles acquired a few big bats in shortstop J.J. Hardy, first baseman Derek Lee and slugger Mark Reynolds. Add that to a bolstered pitching staff, highlighted by Justin Duchscherer, and teams should watch out for Baltimore.

The Week in TicketCity Search – July 2nd

The concert performers have mostly returned to the top 5. Sure, Wicked popped back into the number five spot, but that’s close enough for me. The Esteemed Mr. Bieber retakes the top spot from Tool, who, as expected, are nowhere to be found after their tour departed central Texas. Likewise, Aventura’s leg through Central Texas is also in full swing, and their second place showing is a direct result. Lady Gaga isn’t scheduled to show up around here for a few weeks but she’s already firmly back in the top 3.

New to the countdown is Eminem, who’s recently released album Recovery is a bright spot for the plastic disc industry, appears at #4. This is his first showing on the countdown. Having been off the touring circuit for a while, it seems fans are hungry for some live shows. Only two have been announced so far, both in September and both in stadiums: Commerica Park and Yankee Stadium.

Rounding out the bottom of the countdown are some returning faces and the World Cup, which continues without the US team. Dave Matthews, Rush, and Michael Buble, all return, while the Rays remain steady at #9 for reasons unknown to me.

1 2 Justin Bieber
2 7 Aventura
3 4 Lady Gaga
4 - Eminem
5 - Wicked
6 6 World Cup
7 - Dave Matthews Band
8 - Rush
9 9 Tampa Bay Rays
10 - Michael Buble

The Week in TicketCity Search – June 25th

It has been a while, but a non-pop concert performer as topped the list. Rockers Tool played the Cedar Park Center earlier this week, enough so that even after they left town, the volume was enough to keep them at the top of the list. By early July they’ll be up in Canada, so my guess is we may not be seeing them again on the list next week. The esteemed Mr. Bieber’s time at the top was short lived, though he will have a another run at it next week, and the College World Series continues out in Omaha. You can still make it for the championship games.

Lady Gaga’s stumble was short lived, both here and in reality, while Cirque continues to hold steady in the middle of the countdown. Like the CWS, the World Cup is still going on and there’s yet more time to catch the greatest, and possibly noisiest, spectacle soccer has to offer. The US team has made it to the second stage where it looks to face Ghana next. Germany and England will also be locking up in a hotly anticipated game.

Rounding the out the list we have Aventura popping back in. They’ve got some shows coming up all across Texas, so that’s not surprising. Phish holds steady at 8 while MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays enter the countdown and The Eagles finish things off. Like Aventura, the Eagles will are also in Texas for shows in Houston and Dallas.

1 5 Tool
2 1 Justin Bieber
3 2 College World Series
4 10 Lady Gaga
5 6 Cirque Du Soleil
6 3 World Cup
7 - Aventura
8 8 Phish
9 - Tampa Bay Rays
10 - Eagles

World Series Tickets for Rays, Phillies at!

It has been another amazing season for Major League Baseball, filled with individual player milestones and team accomplishments.  Now that we are gearing up for the World Series, let’s look at the accomplishments of players around the League:  Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks recorded his 4,673rd strikeout to place him at 2nd on the All-Time Career Strikeout Leaders list; Kenny Rogers of the Detroit Tigers became the all-time career pickoff leader with 92, Ken Griffey, Jr. hit his 610th career homerun to pass Sammy Sosa and place fifth all-time for career home runs; Carl Crawford of the Tampa Bay Rays stole his 300th base on July 7th to become only the ninth player in history to have stolen that many bases before the age of 27. 

This year, we welcome the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Raysto the Fall Classic.  Both teams have dazzled their audiences, outperformed their opponents and captivated the nation.  The Phillies, for the first time since 1900, posted two 20+ run games this year.  The Rays had their best start in franchise history, and are the first team since 1900 to achieve the best record in the League by July 4th after posting the worst record in the League the previous season.  This is also the first time in franchise history that the Rays have reached the postseason – do you believe it?!

We have watched these two teams emerge from the pack, hungry for a National Championship.  And the best part:  They are not the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox.  No, this year we will watch the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies square-off for the League’s biggest trophy and all the marbles.  The Tampa Bay Rays have stepped up to the plate to bring their franchise just four games away from the National Championship, a season after they were “nobodys.”  Get ready for one heck of a World Series – The Phillies haven’t won a title in 28 years, and the Rays had never won a postseason game until this season.  For once in recent World Series history, baseball fans will have a chance to watch true underdog teams play solid, American baseball.  Here’s to our favorite pastime.

Rays, Angels, Cubs Look Strong. Red Sox, Brewers Close Behind.

With a little more than a month to go in the regular season, the Los Angeles Angels, Chicago Cubs and Tampa Bay Rays are dominating the MLB standings.  Both the Cubbies and the Rays have an excellent home game record, winning 45 of 62 home games.  The Rays have not lost a series since the All-Star break, though Oakland threatens to end that streak tonight, as the series is tied 1-1.  The Cubs are on a hot streak, winning three straight games heading into the final game of their series versus the Atlanta Braves.

The Angels, on the other hand, are doing just fine on the road, winning 38 of 59 games (the best away record in the league).  Though the Angels lost the series closer versus Seattle at home, they are on the road again tonight to play the Indians on Friday.  Considering their away record is dominant – and Cleveland is struggling for a win - you can bet the series is going to be cake for the Angels.

The Boston Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers are not far behind in the standings, so watch out for these future series where anything can happen:

(For tickets to these games, click on the dates below)
Aug. 18, 19, and 20- Tampa Bay vs. Los Angeles Angels
Sep. 8, 9, and 10- Tampa Bay Rays @ Boston Red Sox
Sep. 15, 16, and 17- Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox
Sep. 16, 17, and 18 -  Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Sep. 26, 27,  and 28* -  Chicago Cubs @ Milwaukee Brewers

*Last day of the regular season

Remember, the 2008 baseball season is rounding third, heading for home.  Grab your tickets today before it is too late.