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Whenever someone asks me to play general manager, wondering what position I would fill first in assembling a team from scratch, I invariably say shortstop, unless of course there is another Roberto Alomar on the horizon at second base. Ozzie Smith Jersey Large . However, I decided to take a look at the 13 World Series since the turn of the century and what I saw may have changed my mind. Over those 13 years, eight catchers have shared those World Series rings and four have two apiece. Furthermore you could argue that four or five of those eight will be going to the Hall of Fame. Lets start with the Yankees Jorge Posada. He won the "Fall Classic" with the Yankees in 2000, (not his first) at age 28 and then won again in 2009 at age 37. Then there is the Red Sox former captain, and now front office stalwart, Jason Varitek. He won that historic “Curse of the Babe” ending 2004 World Series with Boston at age 32. Varitek won it again at 35 with Boston in 2007. Yadier Molina, the best catcher in the game right now, won his first with St. Louis in 2006 at 24. Then in 2011 he won his second at 29. Now at 31, hes into the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers, with a decent shot at winning a third. Buster Posey of the Giants has had a remarkable career so far. He won the World Series in 2010 at 23 and, after missing a sizeable chunk of the following season, came back to win again in 2012. Molina already looks like a lock for the Hall of Fame, and Posey is right on that path. You can argue for and against Posada and Varitek, but I believe both will eventually get into Cooperstown. In 2003, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez won his World Series with the then Florida Marlins at age 31. The only thing that might keep Rodriguez out of the Hall of Fame, or at least delay his entry, are the allegations that he used steroids. If youre keeping count, thats nine of the last 13 World Series winners who had No. 1 catchers worthy of Hall of Fame consideration. Included in the other four is Yadier Molinas older brother Benji, who won with the Angels in 2002 at age 28. A third brother Jose, who later played with the Blue Jays and now suits up for Tampa Bay, was one of Benjis back-ups that year. The only one I really had trouble remembering was the Arizona Diamonbacks primary catcher in 2001 when they beat the Yankees. Damian Miller was 32 that year, and is probably the only one who might be termed a journeyman, at least compared to the rest. The other 2, oddly enough are going to be free agents after the World Series. A.J Pierzynski won with the Chicago White Sox in 2005, ending that franchises drought that dated back to 1917. He was 29 at the time. And Carlos Ruiz was part of the great run the Phillies had under Charlie Manuel and won his "Fall Classic” in 2008 at age 29. Ruiz has had shoulder issues and was suspended for PED use. Hell be 35 next season. The top two potential free agents in the off season are Bostons Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Atlantas Brian McCann. The Blue Jays must upgrade behind the plate in the wake of the horrible season J.P Arencibia had. McCann and Saltalamacchia are probably beyond their reach however Pierzynski and Ruiz would both offer a short-term fix and veteran stability. Pierzynski caught Mark Buehrle in 2005, and is known as a fierce competitor, while Ruiz has caught the likes of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. Travis DArnaud, didnt exactly make a major impact with the Mets after being dealt to New York in the R.A Dickey swap, but another catcher the Jays swapped this past off-season did make his mark. 26-year-old Yan Gomes was traded to Cleveland along with utility infielder Mike Aviles for right hander Esmil Rogers, who was plugged into the rotation when injuries took their toll again this season. Rogers effectively became the compensation for John Farrell moving on to manage Boston, since Aviles was part of that trade to Cleveland. Gomes though, was the real story of the deal. The Sao Paolo native was the first Brazilian to play in the Majors when he debuted with the Jays in 2012. He was viewed as more of a utility type who could catch, play third and DH, and hit with a bit of power. For Cleveland though he caught 85 games, and had a .996 fielding percentage. He also threw out 41% of those attempting to steal bases against him. Gomes hit .294 with 11 homers and 38 runs batted in. The Blue Jays may one day regret they dealt him away, if they dont already. Matt Carpenter . The 26-year-old Regina native teamed up with Denny Morrison and Mathieu Giroux to win gold in 2010. Makowsky also was 13th in the 5,000 metres and 19th in the 1,500m in Vancouver. He also represented Canada at the 2014 Games in Sochi, helping the pursuit team finish fourth and finishing 28th in the 1,500. Mark McGwire .Y. - Major League Soccer is prepared to start its season this weekend even if there isnt a labour deal with its referees and other on-field officials. http://www.custommlbcardinalsjersey.com/custom-albert-pujols-jersey-large-211q.html . PETERSBURG, Fla.TORONTO - Kelly Olynyk was calm, cool and collected in his first NBA game at the Air Canada Centre. He let his game do the talking. Standing in front of a Celtics backdrop with his trademark locks and quiet confidence less than an hour before Wednesdays preseason game, Olynyk downplayed a night he had been dreaming about for some time. "Its something you dream about when youre a kid," said Bostons 22-year-old rookie, "especially growing up in Toronto, being born and raised in Toronto here." The Toronto native, who relocated to Kamloops, B.C. as a teenager, played well beyond his years just six exhibition games into his promising NBA career. "It was special," he admitted after scoring 13 points and adding nine boards in a 99-97 preseason loss to the Raptors. "It felt good to get out on the court I grew up watching and grew up idolizing. I got into the game pretty quick." Son of a former coach - his mother also immersed in the game as an official scorer with the Raptors for nine years - Olynyk proved to be ahead of the curve as a rookie and justified the praise hes been getting for his high basketball IQ. "Hes got a lot of ability," Celtics rookie head coach Brad Stevens said of Olynyk. "His mind allows him to play the game at a really high level and then his physical skill is very good." Trailing by as many as 13 points in the first quarter, Olynyk helped Boston fight back in the second, getting the best of fellow Gonzaga alum Austin Daye with a devastating combination of size, strength and pristine footwork around the basket. The Celtics rookie fuelled a 13-1 Boston run with nine points and four rebounds during that stretch, giving his team a four-point lead and chasing Daye, who would go on to foul out in 10 minutes, from the game. Selected by the Mavericks with the 13th-pick and immediately traded to Boston in this summers draft, Olynyk impressed in the Orlando Summer League and continues to surprise people, providing a rebuilding Celtics team with hope for the future. "I probably had a better feel for Kelly than most NBA coaches because I coached against him [in college]," said Stevens, the former Butler head coach. "But hes better than I thought he was when we played against him." "I love him," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of Olynyk, admitting the former Bulldog may have been overlooked prior to the draft. "I think his basketball IQ is off the charts. Hes [an] inside-outside player, probably just as much outside now as he is inside." "I like his hairdo," Casey joked. "His future is going to be really, really bright in the NBA." An opportunity for the Raptors reserves to prove themselves Once again the Raptors starters were effective out of the gate, getting Toronto off to a quick 20-9 lead. Kyle Lowry and Rudy Gay both enjoyed their best and most efficient quarter of the preseason on both ends of the floor. Lowry led the team with 11 points in the period, three of them coming from the line, and his four field goals (on five attempts) were all layups, most coming in transition. Gay added 10 points and also attacked the basket and created fast-break opportunities with good defence. Gay and Lowry, along with Amir Johnson, played the entire first quarter before getting the rest of the night off. DeMar DeRozan played the opening period and the first 1:17 of the second before joining theem. Ozzie Smith. . "We wanted to make sure we got younger guys some run," Casey said of his decision to give second-unit players and sophomore Jonas Valanciunas the bulk of the minutes Wednesday. "I have a good feel for what they can do," he said of his first unit. "Believe me, were nowhere near where we need to be as a whole entire team. It wasnt any disrespect to Boston but we need to find out what our second unit can do. We need to find out what they can do and the only way we can do that is [giving] them minutes on the court. Whether we win, lose or draw, that wasnt important." After the second-quarter collapse, Torontos reserves, led by Terrence Ross and Landry Fields, created some breathing space with a strong third-quarter performance. The Raptors third-stringers held on in the fourth despite a missed, uncontested dunk by Julyan Stone that could have sealed the victory in the dying seconds. Ross shines Ross was quiet, verging on unnoticeable for the first six minutes he was in the game, as Boston went on its second-quarter run, but caught fire in a hurry. The second-year guard raked in 11 points in the final 4:46 of the first half and continued his strong play in the third quarter. "He was engaged, he was bouncy," Casey said of Ross, who finished with 19 points and three rebounds. "Im not just looking for points from Terrence Im looking for him to make [good] decisions with the ball and definitely [work] on the defensive end. The points are gravy." Ross, like Lowry and Gay in the first quarter, benefited from opportunistic defence as he was able to get out on the break and dazzle the home crowd with his usual brand of aerial acrobatics. "Im just focused on defensive," he said after the game. "Offence will come, they always tell me that. Thats not what Im really worried about Im just trying to go out there and try to make an impression on defence." "The way Im looking at it is defence leads to offence." Fields excels as point forward Without consistent production from the point guard position coming off Torontos bench, Fields has proven to be a valuable member of the second unit with his ability to handle the ball and initiate the offence in transition. "He did a heck of job running the show," Casey said of Fields, who added 14 points and seven rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench. "He made some shots which we really dont need from him but it helped us in that situation until we get a grove, a rhythm with that second unit offensively." Casey is still searching for consistency from his bench, hence the increased playing time, and until he finds it we should expect to see much of the same in terms of the rotation over Torontos final three preseason games. "Nobodys really differentiating [themselves]," he said of his second unit. "Were looking for cohesiveness [and for] who can possibly step in with the first unit if something happened. So nobodys really emerged." "With that said we still have to develop an offensive identity, whether its multiple pick and rolls, set plays, how we want to live with that second group. We kind of know what we want to do with the first group." Up Next The Raptors will hit the gym for some much-needed practice time this weekend before hosting Andrea Bargnani and the New York Knicks in a rematch of last weeks victory on Monday evening. ' ' '


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