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Senior Ahmad Fitts Leaves a Baseball Legacy at DHS

Senior Fitts at bat

Senior Fitts at bat

Durant senior, Ahmad Fitts, is an accomplished baseball player at Durant High School. He’s excelled on the field with a .342 career batting average and .964 OPS. Some players put up numbers like that and get a big head, but not Fitts.

“Fitts, in general, is one of the greatest people to be around,” said junior and Durant second baseman, Javier Quintana. “He never boasts and never puts anyone down.”

Quintana wasn’t the only one who felt this way. Junior and Cougars’ pitcher, Zander Fisk, also described Fitts as a great teammate. “He is good friends with everyone on the team and hardworking on and off the field.”

Even the coaching staff had good things to say about Fitts. Coach Keith Farina, assistant to Head Coach Butch Valdes, described Fitts as a “quiet kid who works his butt off.”

Fitts has enjoyed his time at Durant thoroughly. “I loved just being around the whole environment and my brothers,” he said.

“Fitts, in general, is one of the greatest people to be around.””

— Javier Quintana

Fitts talked about one of his teammates who made a big impact on his life–Durant class of 2019 player, Brendan Queen.

“When I was a freshman and watched Queen play he seemed like a pretty good player,” Fitts said. “Then my sophomore year, Queen ended up getting moved to the outfield and I really got to know him well.” Playing with Queen, and the many other guys he’s shared the field with at Durant, has been “just fun all around” for Fitts. “My experience playing for Durant has been so great, I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Fitts also has enjoyed his coaches at Durant. He liked having Coach Valdes around. “Valdes really makes you tough both physically and mentally.” Fitts insists, “When you really get to know Valdes, he’s just a buff teddy bear.”

Coach Scolaro is also a favorite of Fitts’. “He is one of the funniest coaches I’ve ever had” but also “knows what it takes to be great.” He addded, “Scolaro takes a lot of time to help each player be better at what they do.”

The feeling is very mutual from the coaching staff. “It’s been a pleasure to coach him,” Coach Farina said. “He’s a polite and respectful kid who only wants to continue to learn and improve his game.”

Fitts’ great attitude, top tier talent, and fantastic work ethic all paid off as last fall he committed to Florida Southern College and will be a part of the Mocs’ program there. Fitts was able to take a deep breath after he committed.

“I was so relieved because getting recruited is a very hard and stressful process,” he said. “When you finally find that school that’s for you it’s the best feeling.”

Unfortunately, during the winter, Fitts tore his ACL and was told by doctors he could not play the remainder of his senior season. Thankfully the injury hasn’t affected his relationship with Florida Southern. “They just want me to take my time and get healthy,” said Fitts.

The rehab for Fitts has progressed as planned. “For the moment I can’t exactly run or do anything extreme, but I walk normally and can do minimum weights,” said Fitts. He isn’t worried about his recovery–he is excited about returning to the sport he loves. “I will return better than ever.”

Quintana thanked Fitts for his positive attitude and leadership on the team, and then added: “Fitts, I’m up.”

About the Writer
Photo of David Fackson
David Fackson, Staff Writer

David is a junior and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint Newspaper. He is a huge baseball fan, specifically a Rays fan who loves writing about the...

More Ideas to Pass Time in Quarantine

America is now a month into a shutdown; schools, restaurants and bars are all closed. There’s no sports for the foreseeable future, and to some it feels like the sky is falling. Well I have news for you: Life will go on, no matter how boring it gets. 

So with all this free time you have your first thought is probably, “What do I do now?” Well you came to the right place because today I will be giving you ideas of how to pass time during your quarantine break. So, with that being said, let’s dive in.

Make Sure You Have Supplies

Number one make sure you have enough things such as non-perishable foods, Lysol wipes, and toilet paper so you can be okay at home for a while without leaving the house. It wouldn’t hurt to get cooking supplies either so you don’t have to get take out from a place that might be contaminated. This alone could take up a whole day due to the supply not being able to keep up with mass demand. 

Time to Binge Watch

Have you been wanting to watch “Better Call Saul” but haven’t had the time? Well now is your time to shine. Get on Netflix and finish that show you’ve been wanting to watch. Want to prepare for season 8 of the Clone Wars? Well there’s no better time than now to watch seasons 1-7. If you let yourself fall down into the depths of the Netflix abyss, the coronavirus will be gone in a jiffy.

Watch Old Sports Highlights

To all the sports fans out there desperately needing to watch their team play, look no further than YouTube. Just google your team and I’m positive there will be a video for you to watch. Whether it be postseason highlights, a blooper reel, or Stephen A. Smith yelling at Max Kellerman, there’s plenty for you to watch to pass the time. 

Become an Epic Gamer

Whether you’re getting that diamond in MLB The Show or completing the battle pass in Fortnite now’s your time to get on the grind. As a gamer myself I know how quickly the hours can wither away when you’re getting crushed for hours on end in Call of Duty. Corona can’t get to you if you don’t leave your room the whole day because you were busy playing 2K. Be productive during break and cement yourself as a gaming legend.

Catch Up on Sleep

Life can be stressful, so when you get an ultra-long break like this take advantage and regain some sleep you’ve been missing. Been having to worry about homework for 4 AP classes? Deadlines are now more flexible, so take a break, kick back, relax and get some sleep. 

Hopefully this helped you pass the time during your quarantine. These are tough times we’re living in right now so do what you can to stay positive. However, the most important thing you should do to pass the time is to STAY SAFE. While that may not eat up hours like Netflix does it should be priority number one. Stay healthy people, and enjoy your quarantine break. 

About the Writer
Photo of David Fackson
David Fackson, Staff Writer

David is a junior and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint Newspaper. He is a huge baseball fan, specifically a Rays fan who loves writing about the...

Rays Make Another Interesting Swap With Padres

Hunter Renfroe joins the 2020 Tamoa Bay Rays season lineup.

Hunter Renfroe joins the 2020 Tamoa Bay Rays season lineup.

If you got déjà vu from the Rays recent trade, it’s understandable considering how similar this deal is to another trade the two teams made only a month before. In January Tampa Bay made a shocking deal to trade outfielder Tommy Pham to San Diego in exchange for outfielder Hunter Renfroe and second base prospect Xavier Edwards. Just a couple weeks later the Rays traded another established Major League player to the Pads in relief pitcher Emilio Pagan for another Padres outfielder in Manuel Margot. Also headed to the Bay is catching and outfield prospect Logan Driscoll who had a slash line of .340/.458/.797 in the Northwest league. He’ll start the 2020 season in Class-A Bowling Green for Tampa Bay. 

Why did the Rays make this trade?

Fans may be curious as to why the Rays traded Pagan, the team’s leader in saves with twenty. For starters, Tampa Bay felt confident in their many bullpen arms, including Nick Anderson, Colin Poche, Diego Castillo, and Oliver Drake. They’re also counting on a rebound year from Jose Alvarado, who struggled after a scorching start last season. On top of that if guys like Brent Honeywell and Anthony Banda can fully recover from Tommy John surgery and be effective, it’s safe to say Tampa Bay will have a deep enough bullpen. 

The fact the Rays had four outfielders before this trade occurred also makes it interesting. Margot is a defensive outfielder, primarily in centerfield, with a very similar profile to Kevin Kiermaier but from the right side of the plate. However, Margot is coming off a year in which he hit .330/.420/.466 clip against lefties, making him an ideal platoon with Kiermaier, who struggles against left handers. Outfielder Randy Arozarena, acquired from St. Louis this offseason, is affected the most by this deal as instead of having a chance to be the fourth outfielder on the Opening Day roster, Margot will take that spot. Chances are Arozarena will start the year in Triple-A Durham.

General Manager of the Rays Erik Neander told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that they had been on Margot for a while, and had tried to acquire him with prospects. When that didn’t work the Rays resorted to trading from a place of depth to acquire a needed position player. Neander also told Topkin, “We feel really good about where we stand right now.” At the end of the day this trade sends a message to Tampa Bay: We want to win now. 

Why did the Padres make this deal?

This one’s a little easier to explain. The main reason for San Diego agreeing to this is they wanted to bolster an already solid bullpen. MLB Network rated Padres closer Kirby Yates as the top relief pitcher in baseball and now they can throw Pagan into that mix, which should be lethal. Having a strong bullpen will be crucial for San Diego as they will need to eat up innings to back a very young and inexperienced starting rotation.

However there are negatives to this deal for San Diego as centerfield is wide open for the Pads. Without the rangy Margot in center the outfield defense takes a significant hit. Newcomers such as Trent Grisham and former Ray Tommy Pham may have to plug that hole for the Friars, both of which are used to playing the corner outfield positions. The Padres took a risk in the outfield to strengthen the ‘pen, and only time will tell if it was worth it.

What’s next for Tampa Bay?

That’s a tough question with the always innovative Rays’ front office. After the Jose Martinez trade most Rays’ fans, including me, felt the Rays were pretty much set with their roster heading into Spring Training other than a few minor league signings. Clearly we were wrong as the Rays made another significant trade only days before pitchers and catchers reported. 

However, with only about two weeks before the Rays’ Spring Training opener, I just don’t see the Rays making another big trade, especially one that removes current players from the 25-man roster. Although Tampa Bay’s front office has a knack of making surprising trades so I wouldn’t completely rule it out. One thing is for certain, the Rays want to win, and now. If they can make another trade to improve the roster significantly for the right cost, they’ll do it.

About the Writer
Photo of David Fackson
David Fackson, Staff Writer

David is a junior and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint Newspaper. He is a huge baseball fan, specifically a Rays fan who loves writing about the...

Twitter Q&A: 2020-2021 Rays Season

Fans are rallying with excitement for the upcoming baseball season. Tickets are already on sale, more information is provided at mlb.com.

Tampa Bay Rays

Fans are rallying with excitement for the upcoming baseball season. Tickets are already on sale, more information is provided at mlb.com.

The baseball season is almost upon us, so what better way to get ready than to answer your fan questions? I asked fellow fans on twitter and many students at Durant High School to send me any questions you have regarding the upcoming Rays season, and as the old saying goes, “Ask and you shall receive.”

Do you foresee anymore trades being done before opening day?

[email protected] on Twitter

I’d be shocked if the Rays made a major trade that really shakes up the clubhouse in the next month or so. After the Martinez trade it seems like the 25- man roster is set and ready to rock. Other than a few minor league signings and invitations to Spring Training I don’t see the Rays making anymore moves leading up to March 26th.


Do you think the Rays have a good starting rotation for this upcoming season?

[email protected] on Twitter

I’d be willing to argue Tampa Bay has the best starting rotation in baseball led by the three-headed monster of Charlie Morton, Tyler Glasnow, and Blake Snell. They also have a very solid back of the rotation including Ryan Yarbrough, Yonny Chirinos, Brendan McKay and possibly Brent Honeywell, depending on his progression from Tommy John surgery. What’s going to determine if the rotation lives up to its potential will be health. If the Rays can avoid the avalanche of injuries they experienced last season with the starting rotation they have a real shot of doing some serious damage this season. Expect there to be managed workloads on both Glasnow and Snell to avoid injury in 2020.


What do you think the Rays fallback plan is if Mike Zunino doesn’t work out?

[email protected] on Twitter

There’s no getting around it, Mike Zunino had a horrendous year on offense in 2019. However his defense was still spectacular, possibly being the reason why the Rays re-signed him this offseason. Tampa Bay has faith in him rebounding, but if he continues to struggle with the bat the Rays could opt to give Michael Perez the primary catching job and make Zunino the backup. If Perez struggles to produce at the big-league level Tampa Bay could give Kevan Smith or Chris Herrmann a shot, both of which recently signed minor league contracts with an invite to spring training. Another route they could go down is acquiring a catcher from another team, like they did last season stealing Travis d’Arnaud from the Dodgers. If the Rays want to hoist the World Series trophy, they are going to have to figure out the catching position one way or another.


Do you think Nate Lowe has a future on the team with Choi and Martinez?

[email protected] on Twitter

After acquiring Jose Martinez from St. Louis, the first base position is extremely crowded with Choi, Lowe, and now Martinez all needing playing time. Martinez can play outfield but his defense is shaky and could fit better at first base. If he struggles with the glove in the outfield but is effective at 1st then Lowe will be in trouble as both Choi and Martinez are under control for a few more years. On top of that they make the perfect platoon as Choi hits righties and Martinez rakes lefties. If this is the case then I don’t see how Lowe could fit on the current roster and could be dangled as trade bait for a midseason need the Rays have, such as a catcher.


Will Brent Honeywell be worth the wait? 

[email protected]_ on Twitter

Absolutely, yes, he will. Not only does he provide depth to an already deep pitching staff, the guy throws a screwball, which is unheard-of nowadays.  He’s been rated highly on every prospect list for years now and is rated as the 91st overall best prospect according to MLB Pipeline. He’s going to be fun to watch, that I can assure you.


Do you think we’ll see an opener being used as often as we saw it last season?

[email protected] on Twitter

Assuming the health of the rotation, I just don’t see the Rays using as many openers as last season. The opener was born out of necessity and now that the Rays have a full and healthy (hopefully) rotation the opener won’t be as necessary as it was in previous seasons. It may make an appearance here and there but don’t expect one or two per week like 2019.


Do you think Wander Franco will be called up this year?

[email protected] on Twitter

I’d be very surprised if we see him in a Rays uniform this year. Keep in mind the kid is only 18, going to be 19, and hasn’t played in Double-A yet. It’s very unlike the Rays to rush a prospect, even one of Franco’s caliber, to the big leagues. He’ll start the year in Class-A Advanced, play a few games and be promoted to Double-A very early in the year. I don’t think it’s outlandish to say he’ll be in Triple-A by year’s end and be on the Rays’ Opening Day lineup card in 2021.


Who will be the most surprising player to watch this season?

-Zander Fisk, Junior at Durant High School

The easy or more popular choices would be Hunter Renfroe or Jose Martinez but I’m going to go out of the box a little here with Randy Arozarena. In the trade that sent Liberatore to the Cards the Rays got Martinez, but they also got the less talked about Arozarena. He’s pegged to be the fourth outfielder on the Opening Day roster if he impresses during Spring Training. First of all, the kid can flat out fly, automatically making him a fun guy to watch. He can also hit for average, he’s got a cannon and Gold Glove caliber defense. The power is still developing but the tools he has right now makes him a very intriguing player for 2020.


Will the Rays win the A.L. East?

[email protected] on Twitter

Looking at the roster right now, if the Rays can stay healthy, I truly believe the Rays can and will win this division. They have a top three starting rotation in all of baseball and the best bullpen, both of which led the league in ERA last season. In addition they have a newly revamped lineup with more power and a young core of guys who are hungry to win. If Tampa Bay can figure out how to win at Yankee Stadium and bury the Red Sox like they did last year, nothing is stopping them from claiming their first A.L. East title since 2010.

About the Writer
Photo of David Fackson
David Fackson, Staff Writer

David is a junior and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint Newspaper. He is a huge baseball fan, specifically a Rays fan who loves writing about the...

MLB faces major scandal

Owner of the team Jim Crane, was dissapointed, and had higher expectations for the members of his organization.

Yi-Chin Lee

Owner of the team Jim Crane, was dissapointed, and had higher expectations for the members of his organization.

On Monday, January 14th the Houston Astros were handed one of the harshest penalties in baseball history since the Black Sox Scandal of 1919. Eight White Sox players were given life bans for throwing a World Series for money from gamblers, who were betting against the White Sox in the Fall Classic.

The Astros, who were being investigated for cheating electronically using a centerfield camera to decode signs given by the opposing catchers, then banging on a trash can to tell the Houston batters that an off-speed pitch was coming.

Commissioner Rob Manfred caught the Red Sox in 2017 using a smart watch to get signs from the Yankees and were given a light suspension and fine. Manfred declared that if he caught a team cheating electronically again the penalty would be massive.

On Monday night he didn’t disappoint as Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were both suspended a year from baseball, the Astros lost all their first and second round draft picks for 2020 and 2021 and were fined 5 million dollars, the most a team can be fined under the MLB constitution. 

The report released by Major League Baseball Investigation Unit, stated that the main perpetrators included but were not limited to current managers Alex Cora of the Red Sox, who was the bench coach at the time, Carlos Beltran of the Mets, who was the designated hitter for Houston, as well as Hinch and Luhnow.

Cora and Beltran both actively participated and relayed signs to the dugout and batter, while no evidence linked Hinch and Luhnow to participating in the cheating, the two still made no efforts to stop the activity. No players were suspended by MLB for the scandal, thus Beltran was not penalized.

Once Manfred announced the penalty the Astros immediately fired both Hinch and Luhnow as owner Jim Crane had “higher standards for the city and the fans.”

The Boston Red Sox, who were also being investigated for electronically cheating, followed suit as they fired their manager Alex Cora on Tuesday, before MLB released Cora’s punishment.

According to Major League Baseball’s report Cora ran the cheating operation in Houston, as he relayed the signs from the monitor in the clubhouse to a player or coach in the dugout, who would then proceed to bang on a trash can to inform the batter of the incoming pitch.

After leaving Houston to manage the Red Sox in 2018 he continued to cheat in Boston using a similar system, and proceeded to win the World Series. 

After the Astros and Red Sox both let go of their respective managers for a clean slate the Mets were feeling pressure from their fans to fire their manager Carlos Beltran, who had just been hired this offseason and hadn’t even managed a single game.

Finally, on Thursday, January 16, Beltran reportedly “stepped down” from being the manager of the New York Mets, ending the fallout of this cheating scandal which took three managers and a general manager who may never work in baseball again.

It’s very obvious this wasn’t an accident, this was a refined system used for cheating electronically and directly influenced the outcome and the integrity of the game. Reaction from the baseball world was split, reporters such as Ken Rosenthal and Jayson Stark felt the penalty was plenty harsh. “The goal of this punishment was to prevent teams from doing this again, I think this accomplished that,” Stark said on MLB Network.

However former players such as David Freese felt MLB needed to go further as on Twitter he simply said, “Should’ve taken the ring,” referring to the 2017 World Series title the Astros won, their only title in franchise history and it will forever be tainted by this scandal. 

It was a momentous day for baseball, one we had never seen the likes of and hopefully never have to see again. When the integrity of the game comes into question it’s the commissioner’s job to restore it, and the punishment handed out to Houston will hopefully deter other teams from trying to cheat electronically and never force fans to question whether the game was played fairly again.

Scandals like these don’t just make the Houston Astros or the Boston Red Sox look bad, it’s much bigger than that. It makes the game of baseball look bad, its reputation tarnished. Yes it was a sad day for baseball, the Astros, A.J. Hinch and Jeff Luhnow, but most of all it was a sad day for the fans. A day that made them question the fairness and integrity of this great game, the game they love. It was hopefully a day we never have to experience again.

About the Writer
Photo of David Fackson
David Fackson, Staff Writer

David is a junior and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint Newspaper. He is a huge baseball fan, specifically a Rays fan who loves writing about the...

Online shopping overtakes local malls

The online shopping phenomenon is the new dircetion of holiday shopping. This could lead to a decrease in comercial malls.

The online shopping phenomenon is the new dircetion of holiday shopping. This could lead to a decrease in comercial malls.

In an era of convenience, it’s not shocking that people prefer sitting on the couch eating lunch while they order their loved ones’ Christmas gifts. This is especially ture after a long Thanksgiving Day, for many it is easier to take advantage of Black Friday deals without waiting in lines, getting ran over by rabid shoppers, or even camping out fir the hottest items of the season. Simply click a button and your gifts are on their way to your house. 

So when the news broke that online shopping overtook a major part of retail for the first time ever, unless people were living under a rock, no one was surprised. The main disadvantage of online shopping is waiting for items to be shipped. Amazon eliminated this issue when they introduced Amazon Prime, a service provided where if you pay a small yearly fee you get  quick shipping.

Malls have too many obstacles to climb for the short attention span of this new generation. There’s the ridiculous traffic to fight through, the insane walking patterns, the people and of course the infamously rude shop clerks, one of the few stereotypes in this world that holds up. Why deal with that when you can just click a button in between games of Call of Duty? There’s a reason Amazon has been so profitable, it really doesn’t give the malls a chance. 

It’s the same reason why platforms like Netflix and Hulu profit so much and take customers away from cable and the movie theaters. It’s just, you guessed it, convenience. Why deal with the ridiculously priced popcorn or cable bills when you can pay a monthly fee and watch all the movies and shows you want. You can watch as much as your heart desires, making it easier to enjoy your favorite TV shows.

Even Black Friday, which ropes in shoppers from all around to get those ridiculous deals, online is beating out retail stores. What used to be a crazy day for stores like Walmart and Target have turned into massive amounts of clicks for websites like Amazon. Do not not be concerned, as retail stores like Walmart aren’t going out of business anytime soon. However, to say that online shopping can’t compete with those same stores would be a blatant lie. 

Simply put, online shopping is the future for shoppers looking for the maximum amount of convenience. No lines, no people, no hassle. Just a click and your holiday shopping is done. This is just the beginning, sites like Amazon will only grow bigger and slowly but surely beat out stores such as Target. It’s all about convenience and Amazon has it.

About the Writer
Photo of David Fackson
David Fackson, Staff Writer

David is a junior and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint Newspaper. He is a huge baseball fan, specifically a Rays fan who loves writing about the...

MLB Predictions for the 2020 season

While the performance of teams can be unpredictable, based on performance this season, these are the most likely outcomes of the 2020 season.

Steel Maiden

While the performance of teams can be unpredictable, based on performance this season, these are the most likely outcomes of the 2020 season.

The 2019 MLB season was full of surprises, from break out teams such as the Rays, A’s, and Twins, to teams failing to meet expectations like the Mets, Phillies, Cubs, and Red Sox. Of course, the most unpredictable of all, the Nats going from 19-31 to 2019 World Champions. Some say baseball is unpredictable, something you shouldn’t bet on. Well, it’s worth a shot!

A.L. East:

1) Rays

 2) Yankees

3) Blue Jays

4)  Red Sox

5) Orioles

A bold prediction to say the least, but the Rays will win the East. Before an injury crisis struck Tampa Bay, sitting down two of their three best pitchers in Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow, and two of their best hitters in Brandon Lowe and Yandy Diaz, the Rays led the East through June before succumbing to the Yankees and settling for the second Wild Card. If they can manage to stay healthy they are a superpower in the American League. The Yankees are no slouch and should make for a good race atop the standings. The Blue Jays, with their new young core of Vlad Guerrero Jr, Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio, could be on the rise and be a sneaky playoff team. The Red Sox, in the opposite direction of Toronto, are looking to cut payroll, which could also cut wins putting them in fourth. The Os, in the midst of a massive rebuild, are staring another disappointing year in the face, which is saying a lot considering they’ve lost 219 games in the last two years combined.

 A.L. Central:

1) Twins

2) White Sox

3) Indians

4) Royals

5) Tigers

The A.L. Central, home to two of the three worst teams in the A.L. in Detroit and KC, might find a way to look worse in 2019. The Twins, who slugged their way to their first division title since 2010 leading all of baseball in homeruns, will repeat their success in 2020. The White Sox, led by their rising core of Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson, and Lucas Giolito, will be the break out team of 2020. The Indians, who, similarly to Boston, are looking to slim payroll, will trade away valuable pieces such as Francisco Lindor and Corey Kluber, causing them to slide to third place after just missing the playoffs in 2019. The Royals and Tigers could be interchangeable due to their equal incompetency to win games but Detroit will be the worse of the two, possibly snagging the number one pick.

A.L. West:

1) Astros

2) A’s

3) Angels

4) Rangers

5) Mariners

The Astros dominance of the West, winning their fourth straight division title behind the seemingly unstoppable core of Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, and Justin Verlander. Despite losing Geritt Cole to free agency they will ride the arms of JV and Zack Greinke to victory. The A’s will finish just short of a division but will put up a good fight, winning 90+ games yet again in a tough American League. The Angels and Rangers will both add this offseason possibly making some big splashes such as Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon but will still manage to be mediocore due to lack of pitching depth, causing Mike Trout to miss yet another October. The Mariners, with their always creative General Manager Jerry Dipoto will improve through trades but they are the last dog at the bowl in a tough division, finishing last for the second straight year. Expect this race to go down to the wire come late September.

N.L. East:

1) Braves

2) Phillies

3) Nationals

4) Mets

5) Marlins

In 2019, the N.L. East probably the most disappointing. What was expected to be a strong four team race between everyone but the Marlins, turned into Atlanta running away with the division whilst the Mets and Phillies failed to win 90 games. However, the Nationals snuck into October and made the most of it, winning the whole thing for the first time in franchise history. The Braves, however, will reign supreme again, behind the strong rotation led by Mike Soroka and Mike Foltynewicz, and a powerful lineup including the likes of Ronald Acuna Jr and Freddie Freeman, who both hit over .290 with 30 bombs. The Phillies will manage to snag second place just behind the Bravos but ahead of the reigning champs in the Nationals riding the bat of Bryce Harper. The Nationals, losing Rendon, Stephen Strasburg and Ryan Zimmerman to free agency will struggle to fill the gaps, missing October. The Mets continue to be a mess, burning through another manager and somehow losing with a rotation that stars Jacob Degrom and Noah Syndergaard. They will follow that trend in 2020, not even making the top three in the division. The Marlins will carry on their rebuild, remaining one of the worst teams in baseball again in 2020.

N.L. Central:

1) Cardinals

2) Cubs

3) Brewers

4) Reds

5) Pirates

This division might be the most competitive in all of baseball. For three months of the 2019 season all five teams were within six games of each other, something simply non-existent in today’s baseball world of tanking and super teams. However, in 2020 the Cardinals will come out as division champs for the second straight year, edging out their hated rivals from Chi-town. The Cubs, with their new manager David Ross, will continue to be good, but not good enough as they will miss out on October again in 2020, due to an aging core that isn’t cutting the mustard anymore. The Brewers, who are losing Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas to free agency will regress from 2019 and also miss October. Their heavily used and taxed bullpen and thin starting pitching they refuse to address will be their undoing. The Reds are the opposite, lacking hitting with plenty of pitching in the form of Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, and Trevor Bauer. The Pirates will begin their rebuild with a new president, general manager, and manager causing a new ideology to take over, which will result in a rough year for the black and yellows.

N.L. West:

1) Dodgers

2) Padres

3) D-Backs

4) Rockies

5) Giants

The Dodgers, who have mauled the West for the past seven years, will continue their dominance, winning their eighth straight division title but will be meet with more resistance in the form of the up and coming Padres, who will utilize their deep farm system, which is second best in Major League Baseball. Youngsters such as Chris Paddack and Fernando Tatis Jr will lead the squad to a wild card berth, breaking their 13-year playoff drought. The Diamondbacks surprised fans last year, sneakily winning 85 games on a low budget payroll, but still missed the playoffs. They will improve but not enough to win a Wild Card spot in a very competitive National League. The Rockies will continue to falter due to a lack of starting pitching, who pitched to a staggering 5.87 ERA last season. The Giants will lose franchise icon Madison Bumgarner and with their aging core, they will have a rough season, possibly being the worst team in the national league.

About the Writer
Photo of David Fackson
David Fackson, Staff Writer

David is a junior and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint Newspaper. He is a huge baseball fan, specifically a Rays fan who loves writing about the...

Cash Snubbed for Manager of the Year

Kevn Cash, a native to the Tampa Bay, has managed the Tampa Bay Rays for five years.

ESPN

Kevn Cash, a native to the Tampa Bay, has managed the Tampa Bay Rays for five years.

On November 13th MLB announced that Rocco Baldelli had won A.L. Manager of the Year. He was one of the 3 finalists, including Aaron Boone, manager of the Yankees, and Kevin Cash, skipper of the Rays. The final vote totals were 106 for Baldelli, 96 for Boone, and a staggeringly low 33 for Cash. After reports from Ken Rosenthal that it would be close between Boone and Cash it came as a surprise that not only that Baldelli won, but also that Kevin Cash got beaten so badly.

Not only should it have been at least close between Cash and Boone, but Cash was truly the most deserving candidate, not Baldelli or Boone. Kevin Cash led the Rays to 96 wins, the second straight year of 90+ wins with him at the helm. That’s impressive for any team in the majors, but when you have the lowest payroll in the sport it makes it that much more amazing. On top of all that, the Rays used 57 players, 30 pitchers, and Kevin Cash trotted out to change the pitcher an incredible 603 times, 2nd most in baseball. And if that wasn’t enough, the Rays won those 96 games while residing in the A.L. East, the toughest division in baseball including juggernauts like the Yankees and Red Sox. 

Aaron Boone was deserving as he had injury problems of his own, dealing with 30 players being injured 39 times. However, lets face it, Boone was given a Ferrari and told not to crash it, and even if he somehow did, he had 200 million dollars to repair it. Cash had to deal with a 60-million-dollar payroll, while talented, he did not have a whole lot of resources to back it up in case of mass injury. The Rays not only had more injuries, they had less than a third of the Yankees’ payroll to fill the gaps. 

Rocco, who was the least deserving to win, but somehow came away with the award. While it was his 1st year managing and he did win 101 games, his team plays in the A.L. Comedy Central, the weakest division in baseball, and feasted off the weak teams such as the Royals, White Sox, and Tigers. He basically had no adversity to face as injuries were limited, they had the 2nd fewest in MLB history and cruised to the division, with the second-best team finishing 8 games behind them. Yet he was voted on as the winner, taking votes away from the more deserving managers such as Cash and Boone. 

The thing that seems to be the real problem is how Cash got so little amount of recognition only receiving 33 votes, finishing 66 votes behind Rocco. The manager with less payroll, more injuries, and more overall adversity not only lost but lost in a landslide. Looking at the postseason provides a great example of Cash’s leadership. The Rays and Twins both were down 2-0 heading into Game 3 of their respective series. The Rays, facing Houston, rallied back at home to tie the series 2-2 and bring the series back to Houston, while the Twins didn’t even put up a fight, losing in front of the disappointed home crowd 5-1 and failing to even win a game in October for the 19th straight year. 

Kevin Cash was the most deserving manager to win this award and he was robbed blind by the Writer’s Association who voted. At the very least he deserved more recognition for his incredible accomplishments this season than the meager 33 votes he received. Kevin Cash didn’t win the A.L. Manager of the Year, but he was the most deserving candidate and it’s a disgrace he wasn’t the winner.

About the Writer
Photo of David Fackson
David Fackson, Staff Writer

David is a junior and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint Newspaper. He is a huge baseball fan, specifically a Rays fan who loves writing about the...

Rays rebound sends Series back to Houston

Two players enjoy camaraderie as the Rays' record recovers.

Yahoo Sports

Two players enjoy camaraderie as the Rays’ record recovers.

The Rays were on the plane back to St.Petersburg, down 2-0 in the ALDS against the heavily favored Houston Astros. They had run into the buzz saw of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, the top 2 pitchers in A.L. Cy Young voting, in Games 1 and 2. The Rays’ chances were bleak coming into the series but now they were at an all-time low. Most sports channels such as FS1 and MLB Network already had written off the Rays, and with New York up 2-0 in their series, they were preparing for an Astros v Yankees ALCS. However, baseball is rarely that simple, just ask the 2011 Red Sox who were up 10 games in September with 28 games remaining and managed to miss the playoffs, ironically to these same Rays. 

“We got nothing to lose,” Willy Adames said after Game 2 loss by the score of 3-1, where Gerrit Cole struck out 15 in 7.2 innings. Heading into Game 3, that mantra showed as the Rays looked to be playing much looser than the first 2 games. They played better defense, committing only 1 error between Games 3 and 4, didn’t chase as many bad pitches and most importantly, hit with runners in scoring position which led to a 10 run outburst and a 10-3 win in Game 3, cutting the series lead to 2-1. 

The Houston starter Zack Greinke struggled, not making it out of the 4th while giving up 6 runs including a 3 run blast by Kevin Kiermaier, and the bullpen didn’t do much better. Hector Rondon and Wade Miley gave up 4 runs over 2.2 innings to give the Rays a commanding 10-3 lead they would not relinquish.

The Rays, who were not a power hitting team in the regular season, finishing in the bottom 3rd for homeruns in Major League Baseball, rode the gopher ball to victory as Kiermaier, Adames, Choi, and Brandon Lowe all went deep, making sure to send the raucous 32,000 plus at Tropicana Field home happy. 

Now the series was cut to 2-1 but with Verlander looming in Game 4, the celebration from Game 3 turned into determination to win Game 4. Verlander, for the 1st time in his career, was pitching on the three days rest and he did not look sharp early, giving up a solo homerun to Tommy Pham, igniting the crowd who was ear-deafening loud, and remained that way for the remainder of the game.

After the homerun, Travis d’Arnaud snuck a ground ball through the hole to score Choi, followed by a RBI double from Joey Wendle to put up three in the 1st against a future Hall of Famer in Justin Verlander, who had shut them down just four days earlier. Suddenly the Rays were in the driver’s seat to send the series back to Houston, and since it was a bullpen day, the Rays needed the bullpen to hold the Astros, who had been dominant in the 2nd half led by power arms like Emilio Pagan, Diego Castillo, and trade deadline pick-up Nick Anderson, who pitched to the tune of a 2.11 ERA with the Rays. 

After the offense added another run on a Willy Adames solo blast and the bullpen put up 8 dominant innings it was looking like game was a lock with Tampa Bay up 4-1 after 8. However, Emilio Pagan struggled, giving up back to back singles after getting the 1st out. Kevin Cash then proceeded to make an out of the box move.

Needing two more outs to push the series to Game 5 he put in reigning Cy Young award winner Blake Snell to get the save. With runners on 1st and 3rd with one out, everyone on their feet, Snell broke out a nasty curve to finish off Yordan Alvarez on 3 pitches. Next was Yuli Gurriel, who on the 1st pitch hit a rocket up the middle. Luckily, because of the shift, Joey Wendle was right there, made the play, and the Rays had done what most experts and fans thought was impossible, they had forced a Game 5.

Suddenly, after being up 2-0, Houston was now facing elimination. With one more win, Tampa Bay could “shock some people” as Kevin Cash put it and turn October on its head. Kevin Kiermaier put it best: “We ain’t done yet, we ain’t yet.”

About the Contributor
Photo of David Fackson
David Fackson, Staff Writer

David is a junior and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint Newspaper. He is a huge baseball fan, specifically a Rays fan who loves writing about the...

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