The New Face Of Fast

The New Face Of Fast

Bryon Buxton

There’s a movement going on in Major League Baseball. Every year, athletic youngsters are becoming the leaders of their respective teams, and the Minnesota Twins seem to have found their future: Byron Buxton. The centerfielder is the number one prospect in all of baseball according to many scouting sites and it’s easy to see why. He’s got it all: crazy speed, underrated power, a cannon for an arm, and rare defensive skills. It’s also easy to see that he is ready to bust out in a big way in 2016.

Bryon Buxton Eastbay

Let’s get to know more about the 22-year-old speedster:

EASTBAY: What is the biggest difference between playing in the minors and the majors?

BUXTON: “The biggest difference is how laid back as it is. You expect it to be a lot harder but it’s really the same game. You’ve just got to go out there, relax, have fun, and play your game. Everything else will fall into place.”

EASTBAY: In your major league debut, you had a great game. What are the nerves like in that moment when you first come up to the plate?

BUXTON: “I was very nervous. I was finally making my dream come true. You really just want to get up there and try not to fail. After my first at bat, I relaxed a lot and had better at bats.”

Bryon Buxton Training

EASTBAY: What do you work on in order to stay fast?

BUXTON: “I absolutely work hard to keep my speed. I get up and run a few miles every morning at about 5:00 just to stay in shape.”

EASTBAY: How does the UA Yard cleat help make you a more successful outfielder?

BUXTON: “I feel like I fly with the Yard cleats. They are so light and they can handle the quick cuts that I make. They also gave me the ankle support I need when I make quick adjustments in the outfield.”

EASTBAY: Do you have any superstitions?

BUXTON: “My biggest superstition is putting on and strapping my left batting glove first. I also always tap the outside of the plate before my at-bat. Finally, I always say a prayer when I’m on defense before the inning starts.”

EASTBAY: What role did your parents have in your baseball career?

BUXTON: “Both my parents put me through school and let me do what I wanted as long as I did my school work. I’m just very blessed and thankful for that. I talk to them every day and they tell me not to worry and to stay focused. I’m just glad I’ve got that support system behind me.”

EASTBAY: What is the ultimate goal for your career?

BUXTON: “The ultimate goal for my career is to help us win a World Series ring one day. Really, that’s the biggest goal of mine. Anything else is a plus.”

Jim Thome Hits 600th Home Run

Jim Thome Hits 600th Home Run

words // Nick Engvall

This year has already been a great year for baseball in terms of milestones, as it’s not often a player reaches 3,000 hits. However, it’s even more rare that a player reach 600 home runs in his career. Only 7 players in the history of baseball have done it, and after Monday night’s game against the Detroit Tigers, Jim Thome became the 8th and jumped into the record books with career home runs number 599 and 600 in back-to-back at-bats.Jim Thome Hits 600th Home Run

Thome’s season has been riddled with injuries, something one might expect for a player who has played for 21 years and is set to turn 41 years old in just a couple of weeks. However, last night, age was nothing but a number. Jim became one of the few to make the 600 Home Run club, but the only one to ever reach the milestone in the very next at-bat after hitting number 599.

Thome, one of the most humble athletes in the history of sports, showed a well-earned smile and an ever-so-slight pump of the fist as he rounded first base. A display of emotion that is rare for Thome who once apologized for pausing to admire one of his home runs before rounding the bases. However, as Thome rounded third base, he was greeted at home plate by his teammates. But as a testament to how great of a player he is, the rival Detroit fans, who Thome tormented most of his career, gave the slugger a well-deserved standing ovation.

Joe Mauer x Playstation x Nike Trainer Event Recap

Joe Mauer x Playstation x Nike Trainer Event Recap

Joe Mauer x Playstation x Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer Low Launch Event Recap

JOE MAUER x PLAYSTATION x NIKE ZOOM HUARACHE TRAINER LOW LAUNCH EVENT RECAP

words & images // Steve Mullholand

On April 6th, I get a call from one of my friends from PlayStation.

“Can you make it to Minnesota to capture the new PlayStation x Nike Training shoe, and by the way, it’s on the 9th?”

Being in the media world, good things happen – and they happen fast and they happen far away. But that is what makes it fun – you never know where you will be in a week or what story you will be covering. And if PlayStation and Nike are involved, you are guaranteed a good time with some great shoes.

Luckily, I was in Portland when I got the call. A quick call to Delta later, and I was able to change my flight up so I could travel to Minnesota on the way back down to Miami. Not exactly a direct flight, but at least I was headed east. When I landed in Minneapolis early on Saturday, April 9th, I was pretty excited to see the shoes, the box and meet up with Joe Mauer. But I was also interested in seeing the Mall of America, because I had never been. I’m going to have to pre-qualify this next sentence – I dislike malls as much as the next person – but damn…! The Mall of America is no joke. The roller coaster, sheer amount of shops and the huge number of people – even when the doors opened – all made for a great experience. When I made my way to the Nike Store, it didn’t disappoint either. The well laid-out store had something special sitting on the stage awaiting us – a rather large wooden box – and the reason I made the trip.

After getting through security I met up with my friend Alex from PlayStation. We went through the run of show and then he lead me back to the stage where the custom box housing a custom PlayStation and custom cleats where waiting for me. I’ve seen a lot of sneaker boxes over the past few years – everything from carbon fiber to acrylic – and as soon as I saw this box I knew it was going to be in the top 10 sneaker boxes of all time. And man – it did not disappoint.

As you can see by the photos – the box is next level in more ways than one. The base on top of the box with the metal PlayStation logo immediately signaled that something special was within its hold. Upon opening the lid, you’ll notice an amazing customized PlayStation with a baseball controller. It was real nice. Within the second level were two sets of shoes – one pair of customized Joe Mauer player exclusives cleats with “The Show” logo on them. The second pair was the PlayStation x Nike Training Zoom Huarache Trainer Low – super clean and well done.

Joe Mauer x Playstation x Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer Low Launch Event Recap

I only had ten minutes to take photos of the shoes, box and PlayStation, so I took a quick light reading (I had no strobes, so I knew I would have to be smarter than the lights…) and went at it. I fired off 100 shots or so, and then the crowd started moving in. You could tell – these kids were really excited about the event and the chance to see their local star Joe Mauer up close and in person.

Joe Mauer x Playstation x Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer Low Launch Event Recap

Joe got up on stage and was super nice and laid back, eager to interact with everyone. Nike had already picked out three lucky kids to play PlayStation’s “The Show” with Mauer. They put the game on home run derby mode and had at it. The first three kids were pretty good – one of them really good — but when Joe got up there, you could tell he knew what he was doing. After they played a round of home run derby, we got to check out photos of several Nike Training shoes that local area students had designed on NIKEiD.

Joe Mauer x Playstation x Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer Low Launch Event Recap

All in all, it was a great event to showcase Mauer’s with really solid kicks and an amazing box. I guarantee the kids that got up early on a Saturday morning to attend the event were not disappointed. A lucky few were even able to buy the PlayStation x Nike Training Zoom Huarache Trainer Lows at the event. Afterwards, I was able to get a few questions with Twins Catcher and “The Show” front man Joe Mauer:

Steve Mullholand: Have you had the opportunity to bring your own influence to the design for catcher’s gear and cleats?
Joe Mauer: I had an opportunity to meet with the Nike team in Beaverton during the off-season.  We discussed the concept of the shoe and it was great to see them incorporate some of my feedback, and they even added my Dad’s saying on the laces, “Bear Down.”

SM: What was it like playing in cold weather growing up and is there any advice you have for kids going through similar issues of having games rained/snowed out?
JM: Growing up in Minnesota you definitely have to get used to playing in the elements.  Although I must say that with the new Target Field, you simply can’t beat playing outdoors on a perfect summer day.

SM: The catcher’s position is one where defense is most important. With you being such a huge threat on offense and defense, do you feel any added pressure to perform at a high level both at the plate and defensively as a catcher?
JM: Being a catcher, you are involved in every single play of a baseball game, so you constantly have to stay focused. I think that focus translates well when I get up to bat because I spend 90% of a game staring at pitchers.

SM: With 162 games on the schedule, Major League Baseball without a doubt has the most grueling run to the postseason. What do you think are the keys to being as mentally focused in April as you are in October?
JM: I think our team is fortunate that we have a really great spring training program that gets you into the right mindset immediately when the season starts.  The coaches promote competition from day one, and we have a great mix of players in the locker-room that thrive off of that.

SM: Did the Zoom Huarache Trainer Low play a role in your training for the current season? If so, what were your impressions and did they help you with any baseball-specific drills?
JM: The new trainers are amazing.  Because so much of what we do on the baseball field is lateral movement, it really is important to have a shoe that gives you the proper support.  You can go from the weight room directly to the field, without having to worry about changing your shoes.

SM: Though video games are generally regarded as a downtime activity, Playstation has gone above and beyond to bring a sense of realism to the players on ‘The Show.’ Do you find that being involved with the game’s development and playing at home helps you familiarize yourself with other teams and their in-game tendencies?
JM: Video games have come a long way since I was younger.  MLB The Show is definitely a useful tool because they have done such a great job of capturing every little detail.  I know our pitchers have used the game to stay current on opposing lineups and become more familiar with each players stance.

Joe Mauer x Playstation x Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer Low Launch Event Recap

Joe Mauer x Playstation x Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer Low Launch Event Recap

Joe Mauer x Playstation x Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer Low Launch Event Recap

Joe Mauer x Playstation x Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer Low Launch Event Recap

Joe Mauer x Playstation x Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer Low Launch Event Recap

Joe Mauer x Playstation x Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer Low Launch Event Recap

Joe Mauer x Playstation x Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer Low Launch Event Recap

Joe Mauer x Playstation x Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer Low Launch Event Recap

Joe Mauer x Playstation x Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer Low Launch Event Recap

Joe Mauer x Playstation x Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer Low Launch Event Recap

Joe Mauer x Playstation x Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer Low Launch Event Recap

Joe Mauer x Playstation x Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer Low Launch Event Recap

Joe Mauer x Playstation x Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer Low Launch Event Recap

Joe Mauer x Playstation x Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer Low Launch Event Recap

MLB: The 2010 Playoff Predictions

MLB: The 2010 Playoff Predictions

words_Nick Engvall

For the American League East and the National League West, it came down to the final day of the season to determine the division winners. For the Yankees and the Rays rivalry, as well as the Padres and the Giants, you really wouldn’t have expected it to end a game sooner this season. Now that the puzzle pieces are in place, let’s take a look at the first round matchups and see who has the advantages.

Evan LongoriaTexas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays

In the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays finished one game ahead of the Bronx Bombers in the American League East, securing the best record in the American League at 96-66. The Rays will host the Texas Rangers on Wednesday to open up the post-season action. The Rays will begin the series with 19-game winner David Price taking the mound in Tampa Bay against the 2008 American League Cy Young winner Cliff Lee of the Rangers. During a few days off for Evan Longoria, the Rays offense was still able to lead the team to the top spot in the AL East, and with him back for Wednesday’s game, Texas has a tough road ahead of themselves.

Prediction – Tampa Bay took the regular season series 4-2 over the Rangers, and although the Rays have had the added stress of fighting for the final playoff spot, they’re a better team than the Rangers, even if they don’t have fans that show up. If Texas can get a win in game one, they’ve got a good chance at an upset, otherwise I’m going with the Rays 3-1.

Jim Thome of the Minnesota TwinsNew York Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins

In the second of the AL playoff matchups, the Minnesota Twins, who will have to get through the playoffs without 2006 American League MVP Justin Morneau, who was recently ruled out for the entire post-season by Twins GM Bill Smith. The Twins will send Francisco Liriano to the mound for the opening game of their series against the Yankees. New York will be visiting Minnesota Wednesday evening and will be handing the ball over to one of this year’s strongest Cy Young Award candidates in 21-game winner CC Sabathia. Offensively, the Yankees “lesser known” superstars, like Robinson Cano, will be the key to victory for the Yanks this post-season, while the Twins will look to the added experience of players like Jim Thome and Orlando Hudson.

Prediction – The Twins have lost to the Yankees in their last three playoff meetings. This year, the Yankees went 4-2 in their meetings, and the Yankees know how to step it up in the playoffs. With that said, the Twins can push New York to five games with home field advantage, but whether they’ll be able to finally overtake the Yanks is still uncertain. However, with Joe Mauer, Jim Thome and the new Target Field, I’m going with the favorite that is really the underdog, the Minnesota Twins in five games.

Brad Lidge of the PhilliesCincinnati Reds vs. Philadelphia Phillies

In the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies will look to continue their hot streak into the post-season by sending the NL’s top Cy Young Award candidate to the mound, Ray Halladay. Halladay has been the leader of one of the most dominating starting rotations in baseball this season, and the Phillies best record in baseball of 97-65 record reiterates that. Cincinnati will send Edinson Volquez out for the first game of the series on Wednesday evening. The Cincinnati Reds play well together and have surprised many behind Dusty Baker’s leadership. Their bats are capable of beating the Phillies, but their lack of experience compared to the veteran Philly lineup will be their downfall.

Prediction – Both of these teams can play well against each others’ weaknesses, which could make for an unpredictable series, and considering their closing pitchers Brad Lidge and Francisco Cordero both have a track record of cold streaks, either team could be the benefactor. The way the Phillies have been playing recently, and their experience in the post season, gives them the edge. Philadelphia wins this one 3-0.

Brian Wilson of the San Francisco GiantsAtlanta Braves vs. San Francisco Giants

The last series to get underway in the 2010 MLB Playoffs will be in San Francisco, where the Wild Card winning Atlanta Braves will take on the National League Division West champs, the San Francisco Giants. The Giants will send last week’s Pitcher of the Week, Tim Lincecum, who is back to his old form that won him back-to-back Cy Young Awards in the last two seasons. The Braves will counter with veteran right-hander Derek Lowe, who has won his last five consecutive starts. Offensively, the Braves will look to Derrek Lee, Troy Glaus and Rookie of the Year candidate Jason Heyward. Both of these teams have more emotion tied into their post-season hopes than any of the other matchups, which will make for some great baseball. What gives the Giants the ultimate edge is not their starting pitchers, but the dominance of their bullpen pitchers, like Sergio Romo and Brian Wilson.

Prediction – Atlanta is playing for Bobby Cox, one of the most respected coaches in baseball’s history, which is reason to fight until the end. However, the Braves have really held tightly to the final spot in the National League, and that momentum may cause difficulties for the Giants. The Giants have the healthiest balance of youngsters and veterans in the league and one of the best pitching staffs in the league. The Giants struggle against Atlanta ace Tim Hudson, who pitches in game three against SF’s Jonathan Sanchez. Otherwise, I don’t see the Braves getting much more than one win in the series. The Giants will take this one 3-1.

images via yahoo

MLB: The 2010 Playoff Predictions

MLB: Minnesota Secures First Playoff Spot

words_Nick Engvall

Minnesota Twins secure AL Central Division title.Baseball’s post-season has begun to take shape. The Minnesota Twins 6-4 victory Tuesday night over the Cleveland Indians gives them the first ticket into the 2010 MLB Playoffs.

With some help from the Oakland A’s, who defeated the Chicago White Sox 7-2 on Tuesday, Minnesota clinches their sixth division title in the last nine years. The Twins pushed their record to 91-60, giving them a 12 game lead over the White Sox, which all but eliminates Chicago from the post-season.

It didn’t start out looking like the Twins would clinch, however a four-run outburst in the eighth inning gave them the lead. Matt Capps secured the save, his 15th of the season, by pitching a perfect ninth inning. Capps did so in emphatic fashion by striking out Michael Brantley for the final out of the game.

Minnesota’s road through the post-season won’t be an easy one. They’ll face either the New York Yankees or the Tampa Bay Rays. Two teams that are right at the top of the league’s best, despite the fact that one will eventually have to settle for the American League Wild Card spot.

image via yahoo