MLB 2011 League Championship Gear

MLB 2011 League Championship Gear

 words // Brandon Richard

Last night, the St. Louis Cardinals captured their 18th NL pennant with a 12-6 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers to head back to the World Series. An unlikely Series participant, the Birds won 30 of their last 43 games in the regular season and closed the gap on a 10 1/2 game deficit with just 31 left to play. They clinched a spot in the postseason in their very last game before upsetting the heavily favored Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Division Series. Then, they went on to unseat the favored Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Championship series for an opportunity to play for their 11th World Series Championship.

In the series, they’ll meet the Texas Rangers, who won big over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday to advance to their second-straight Fall Classic. The Rangers’ run has been a little more along the line of expectations, after an impressive season saw them repeat as American League West Champions. They then put an end to the resilient run of the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Division Series before matching up with a game Detroit team swing-for-swing, capping off the series with an emphatic 15-5 victory.

This World Series is sure to be one for the books. If the Rangers manage to pull off a victory, it’ll be the first in franchise history and will send another major sports championship to Texas after the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA Finals earlier this year. On the other hand, this isn’t new territory for the Cardinals. St. Louis has won 10 World Series, the second most of all-time, and are looking to create a little more distance between them and the field by capturing their 11th.

To celebrate the achievement of both teams, you can now purchase official 2011 MLB League Championship Gear. The t-shirts, both red-based, were made by Majestic and feature large team logos on the front. New Era is responsible for the hats, which are done in graphite and come complete with League Championship series embroidery. Get your set today at Eastbay.

Who do you think will win this year’s World Series?

Available now: MLB League Championship Gear

Majestic 2011 MLB League Championship T-Shirt - Texas Rangers

Majestic 2011 MLB League Championship T-Shirt - St. Louis Cardinals

New Era 2011 MLB League Championship Hat - Texas Rangers

New Era 2011 MLB League Championship Hat - St.Louis Cardinals

MLB Watch: Texas Hot Streak Continues

MLB Watch: Texas Hot Streak Continues

Mitch Moreland blasts a home run wearing Franklin batting gloves.Mitch Moreland blasts a home run wearing Franklin batting gloves.

words // Nick Engvall

The Texas Rangers continue to be the hottest team in baseball. They’re current 12-game winning streak has them sitting a top of the American League with a comfortable 5 game lead over the Los Angeles Angels. For the Rangers, their pitching staff has been strong but their hitting has been near the top of the league in nearly every statistical category.

Players like Mitch Moreland and Michael Young have them sitting in second place in Runs, Batting Average, and Slugging Percentage. Not to mention Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton. With the current streak, it looks like the Rangers could be headed back to the post season again this year.

Do you think they can maintain this pace and make it back to the World Series?

MLB Watch: A look at what the pros wear.Neil Walker scoops a ground ball with his Rawlings baseball glove.Neil Walker scoops a ground ball with his Rawlings baseball glove.

Joey Votto sends one deep wearing Franklin batting gloves.Joey Votto sends one deep wearing Franklin batting gloves.

Alexi Casillas connects wearing Mizuno batting gloves.Alexi Casillas connects wearing Mizuno batting gloves.

Dustin Pedroia wearing his PE New Balance cleats.Dustin Pedroia wearing his PE New Balance cleats.

Jacoby Ellsbury takes his home run trot in Nike baseball cleats.Jacoby Ellsbury takes his home run trot in Nike baseball cleats.

Brandon Belt sends one deep in his Under Armour baseball cleats.Brandon Belt sends one deep in his Under Armour baseball cleats.

Tony Gwynn Jr. gets a base hit in his player exclusive Nike cleats.Tony Gwynn Jr. gets a base hit in his player exclusive Nike cleats.

Evan Longoria wearing a pair of player exclusive Nike baseball cleats.Evan Longoria wearing a pair of player exclusive Nike baseball cleats.

Robinson Cano continues to hit well thanks to Nike batting gloves.Robinson Cano continues to hit well thanks to Nike batting gloves.

Jeff Mathis wearing Mizuno catcher's equipment as Elvis Andrus slides in to home.Jeff Mathis wearing Mizuno catcher’s equipment as Elvis Andrus slides in to home.

 

images courtesy of Yahoo

CJ Wilson’s Children’s Charities

words_Jordan Hagedorn

Texas Rangers Ace pitcher CJ Wilson is an incredible athlete. Last year he finished the season with a 15-8 record, including 7 wins in a row in July and August, helping the Rangers get to the postseason for the first time since 1999. They went on to the World Series for the first time ever, where they unfortunately lost, but the team went on an incredible run that has set the tone for the Rangers franchise.

Along with being a great pitcher, CJ is passionate about helping others off the field. Take a look at the video below to see him talking about his charitable endeavors. For more info, check out CJ’s official website – LeftyLefty.com

CJ Wilson – From Huntington Beach to the World Series

CJ Wilson – From Huntington Beach to the World Series

words_Jordan Hagedorn

Texas Rangers pitcher CJ Wilson grew up in Huntington Beach, CA, where he played in the Seaview Little League. When talking about playing baseball as a youngster, he says, “My first year of Little League, I actually wasn’t that good at all, and the coach was so discouraging. He told me, ‘Maybe you should play soccer.'”

That off-season, his dad bought him a hitting book, The Techniques of Modern Hitting, by Wade Boggs. After that, CJ hit much better and his baseball career took off from there.

During CJ’s freshmen year of high school, he was 5 foot 2 ½ inches and 105 pounds. “I was one of the smallest kids in the whole grade but I didn’t let it get me down. I just did a lot of push-ups, pull-ups and bar-dips in P.E. class.” When it came to high school baseball, he says, “I wasn’t even the best kid on my team. I just worked; I just wanted it. I found a way to do it. I just never quit. I had guys on my high school team that were literally better than me but they just didn’t care. I cared; I just wanted it so bad. It has always been a goal of mine so I didn’t let anything stop me.”

Ron LaRuffa, CJ’s high school baseball coach at Fountain Valley High School in Fountain Valley, CA, says, “CJ transferred here for his junior year. He had very good work ethic and was self-motivated. His I.Q. was off the charts. He was very smart. He pitched here and played outfield. He was a really good hitter.” When LaRuffa talks about CJ’s journey, there is no lack of compliments. “He was very smart and always figured things out. He continued to get better and better. He’s done a lot for the Rangers. He’s very intelligent and keeps pushing the envelope.” Coach LaRuffa also says, “CJ told me it’s not about becoming a star; it’s about playing a challenging game at the highest level.”

CJ at Fountain Valley High School with his dad

CJ at Fountain Valley High School with his dad

CJ graduated from Fountain Valley High School in 1998; although he was skilled and worked hard, he wasn’t drafted by any major league team and was only given the chance to walk on at Division I schools. When he was 17, he decided to play baseball at Santa Ana Junior College. By going to Junior college, he was able to grow and develop his game to where it needed to be. It allowed him to put in the time and work to be able to play at a major league level. He played there in 1999 and 2000. His then-coach Don Sneddon says, “CJ was a driven athlete. He loved to play and be competitive every day. He did it and did it well. He was a working man. He made himself what he is today. He had the work ethic, commitment and self-belief that he could do anything and he’s doing it. It doesn’t surprise me.” When talking about CJ being in the big leagues, Coach Sneddon says “He doesn’t forget about his roots. He comes back and stays involved with the program. He’s very generous with his time and money. He shares his knowledge and is very unselfish. He keeps the dream possible for all players.” CJ’s former coach also seemed very proud and impressed when he spoke about CJ: “He doesn’t get caught up in the limelight; he just shows that with commitment and work ethic, anything is possible.”

CJ playing for Santa Ana College

CJ playing for Santa Ana College (courtesy of Santa Ana College Sports Information)

In CJ’s second year at Santa Ana College, he was named MVP of the league and the statewide Junior College Association. He had high hopes of being selected in the 2000 draft. When that didn’t happen, CJ became more motivated to improve.

CJ playing for the LMU Lions

CJ playing for the LMU Lions (courtesy of LMU Athletics)

He was offered a scholarship at Loyola Marymount University to play for the Lions. That season, he had a .289 batting average as a hitter and finished the season 3-9 with a 6.95 ERA. Although it wasn’t a great season, CJ was still selected by the Rangers in the 2001 draft. They took him in the 5th round with the 141st overall pick. According to CJ, in only 5 weeks, he was promoted from rookie ball to Low-A ball mid-season, but then suffered a stress fracture in his leg. In 2002, he was a High-A ball All-Star and threw a complete game, notching a playoff win in AA. In 2003, he was a AA ace to open the season, but then had Tommy John Surgery in August of that year. He missed the whole 2004 season with setbacks from surgery, including nerve damage. In 2005, after 18 months of missing baseball, CJ was back on the mound. He logged some innings in 2005 and 2006 before becoming the Rangers’ closer in 2007 after Eric Gagne was traded. He stepped in for Gagne, recording a save in each of his first 11 chances. As the Rangers’ closer in 2008, he converted 24 of 28 save opportunities. In 2009, he had 14 saves with a 2.81 ERA but kept asking the Rangers’ president, pitching legend Nolan Ryan, about becoming a starter. “He’s been great with me and he was probably the first guy that believed in me, like really really believed in me to be a starting pitcher, to transfer from the bullpen to the rotation.” Says CJ, “Once (Nolan) showed a little encouragement towards that idea, I was pestering him about it all year in ’09. I’d be like ‘Hey, what do I have to do to start?’” CJ then said Nolan told him that they’d talk about it during spring training of 2010. Obviously, CJ’s pestering worked, because last year he was named to the starting rotation.

CJ lost his first game of the year, on April 16th against the Yankees, but then had three wins in a row between April 22nd and May 7th. Following those wins, he lost two consecutive starts but then rattled off wins in 11 out of 13 games, including seven in a row from July 18th to August 30th. He finished the regular season with a 15-8 record, led Rangers starting pitchers in games started, innings pitched, and ERA, and was second in strikeouts behind Colby Lewis. The Rangers were 24-9 in the 33 regular season games in which CJ pitched.

CJ Wilson Eastbay Photo Shoot

CJ Wilson Eastbay Photo Shoot

When asked about the 2010 season, CJ says, “This year, to go to the playoffs for the first time and all the way through the playoffs to the World Series, was like a dream come true…except for the part where we lost. It doesn’t seem real sometimes, because I just think I’m sort of just like a regular dude, so to be like a popular baseball player or something, every once in a while I flash back to the difficult moments and it makes me really happy to be here right now to be here through everything.”

Since the Rangers’ former ace Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies in December of 2010, CJ is now the Rangers’ number 1 pitcher. He signed a 1 year, $7 million deal and is looking to have another strong campaign in 2011. If he pitches like he did last season he’ll set himself up to cash in on a huge new contract in the off season.

Not bad for a kid whose Little League coach suggested he play soccer.

CJ Wilson – From Huntington Beach to the World Series

MLB Watch: The Drought is Over in San Francisco

words_Nick Engvall

At the beginning of the 2010 baseball season, the San Francisco Giants, just like their opponents the Texas Rangers, weren’t expected by many to even make the playoffs. Both teams have surprised nearly everyone but their fans in getting to the World Series. After all, for the Giants it had been 56 years since they won a World Series and for the Rangers they were making their MLB Playoffs debut.

While Game 1 of the World Series put two of the game’s best pitchers on the mound to face each other, in the end the scoreboard would have never let you know that. Both pitcher’s seemed to be off from their normal self, and when it was over the Giants won 11-7.

For Game 5, Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee would be called upon again to lead their team. This time, it turned out to be everything that was expected. Both pitchers were nearly unhittable through 6 innings.

In the 7th inning one of the few Giants that has experienced the playoffs, Edgar Renteria ended the scoreless streak by hitting a 3-run home run to put the Giants ahead. The Giants were able to hold off the Rangers thanks to another inning of stellar pitching from Tim Lincecum and a 3 up, 3 down inning in the ninth by animated closer Brian Wilson to win the 2010 World Series.

Check out some of the images from the game below.

Ron Washington throws batting practice wearing the Nike Air Diamond Trainer.Ron Washington throws batting practice wearing the Nike Air Diamond Trainer.

Ian Kinsler warms up wearing the Reebok Zig Pulse II.Ian Kinsler warms up wearing the Reebok Zig Pulse II.

Tim Lincecum pitches wearing the upcoming Reebok Vero IV Low baseball cleats.Tim Lincecum pitches wearing the upcoming Reebok Vero IV Low baseball cleats.

Cliff Lee pitches wearing the Nike Zoom Coop V.Cliff Lee pitches wearing the Nike Zoom Coop V.

Michael Young wearing the Nike Shox Fuse 2 PE.Michael Young wearing the Nike Shox Fuse 2 PE.

Buster Posey wearing Under Armour catcher's gear.Buster Posey wearing Under Armour catcher’s gear.

Edgar Renteria hits a three run home run in the Nike Zoom Coop V.Edgar Renteria hits a three run home run in the Nike Zoom Coop V.

Cody Ross scores in the Nike Air Show Elite 2.Cody Ross scores in the Nike Air Show Elite 2.

Brian Wilson throws wearing the Wilson A2000 glove.Brian Wilson throws wearing the Wilson A2000 glove.

Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants celebrate.Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants celebrate.