Tag: Ken Griffey Jr.

Daily Noontime: Friday, April 3rd, 2020


By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

We have made it to Friday – yay!

I hope you are somewhat excited for the weekend – sure, Saturdays feel like Mondays and Sundays feel like Wednesdays, but at least we can take a break from our home offices and enjoy time with our family, right?

Let’s kick off a new weekend with the ‘Daily Noontime.’ As usual, be well and stay safe, everyone, and we’ll chat with you again next week – I promise!

Noontime’s Daily Headlines for Friday, April 3rd, 2020 

On this Date in History:

  • Birthday: Today is actor and comedian Eddie Murphy‘s birthday.
  • 1991: Bo Jackson signed a one-year deal with the Chicago White Sox after the Kansas City Royals released the 28-year-old outfielder.
  • 2000: Ken Griffey Jr. made his debut with his hometown Cincinnati Reds. The game was unfortunately postponed to the following day due to rain in the sixth inning.
  • 2006: Billy Donovan led the Florida men’s basketball team to its first-ever NCAA Championship with a 73-57 win over UCLA.
  • 2007: Candace Parker was named the Most Outstanding Player after leading the Tennessee women’s basketball team past Rutgers in the 26th NCAA Championship. The win against Rutgers provided the Volunteers with their seventh national title in program history.

Jon Shepard is “Living the Dream”

Jon Shepard began his career in a Wheaton College Lyons uniform, but now, he's a member of the Rockland Boulders in the CanAm League!

By Matt Noonan 

Noontime Sports had the privilege to talk with Rockland Boulders relief pitcher and former Wheaton College (MA) standout, Jon Shepard about his Minor League baseball career, as well as his dreams and aspirations.

 On being able to play Minor League Baseball: “Right now, it feels incredible. Pretty much growing up, I never [really] had the right opportunities [or knew] the right people and then having a little bit of luck out of college, I could jump into [the CanAm League] and this is pretty much my foot in the door and I love the fact that it’s on me now. Everyone knows, if you’re good enough, they’ll find you and I’m on this stage [and] I have that opportunity to display everything I learned at Wheaton [College] or throughout life and it’s just the absolute opportunity I wanted and like I said, I’m loving life [and I] get to be a boy this summer and this whole experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.”

On what you learned from Wheaton College/How have you applied it to your career: “The one thing I could take away [from my college playing days] was my approach and respect for the game. Wheaton, [Eric] Podbelski, [who is the head coach of Wheaton’s varsity baseball team], players [and] all the guys who came before me, came with me, learned exactly how to respect the game and how to understand on a good day, I’m not [at] my best [and] on a bad day, I’m not at my worst, [which] really helped me understand how to turn the page real quick and go after each pitch [by attacking batters] and being aggressive, which I lost that at the beginning of the [current] season. I was more timid and had a hard time really being the aggressor, where now being the aggressor is paying off substantially.”

On connection with certain player/What have you learned from them: Eddie Lantigua, [who plays for the New York State Federals] is an independent baseball [legend] and [he’s] made the 40-man roster for the [Los Angles] Dodgers and [Cleveland] Indians, he’s taught me so much about how to appreciate the game [and] it seemed like someone who had his success and seeing his passion for the game come out [is] astonishing. It made me find the absolute love of the game. [Also] there are so many famous guys [in the league] like Tim Raines Jr. on Newark [and] it was awesome facing him and striking him out.”

On the overall competition of the CanAm League: “Everybody in this league has experience and it’s pretty cool learning things from all [the various players] and just being caught up in it and seeing all the kids in the stands, [who] ask for the autographs, helped me appreciate [the game more]. I remember exactly being [a young boy] being like, oh boy that’d be awesome to be out there on the field and now I get to do that and I’m taking every moment in and not taking anything for granted.”

On his childhood MLB hero: Ken Griffey Jr. because he was a kid. He loved the game; he was so dominant and fun to watch. [He] was always smiling [and] it looked like he actually appreciated the game and it’s definitely hands down Griffey and then after that, [Jon] Lester. I love Lester, how he approaches the game [and] how he is his worst critic, where I feel like I am the same way with myself and how he overcame so much [when he battled cancer a few seasons ago].”

On his biggest role model: “What motivates me is having the opportunity to do what I love and being paid for it. There’s nothing better than that and my [mom] obviously [motivates] me so much. Having [my mother] for support [is the best feeling] because obviously every [mother] wants to see their kid happy and I know I’m happy playing, win or lose, having this opportunity and not taking anything for granted and being able to show her that all those times she dragged [herself] out of bed at five in the morning to [drive me to my double-headers] or all the time that she put in. It’s nice to kind of give back and show her that I appreciate it more than anything and obviously with my head accident and growing up and the situations that I had, having [people around me doubt me], not to sound like LeBron James, it actually helps having all those people [who doubted men] because even the worse things you take the best from and you let it push you and make you better rather than put you down.”  

MLB 2010 Season Preview: American League

AL East:

1.) New York Yankees: Lets admit it Sox fans, the Yankees are great, but are they better than the Sox? Age could catch up to this team, but coming off their 27th World Series victory, they will be a team to watch this spring, summer and fall. Also, I like this pitching rotation to continue to succeed and shut down the weaker, as well as tougher opponents.

Jon Lackey will have to perform at his best for the Sox this season.

2.) Boston Red Sox: The Sox will compete, but still a variety of questions remain. Can David Ortiz come out of the gates swinging for the fence? Will Mike Lowell remain in Boston? How will the recent acquisitions adjust to Fenway Park? Will Lackey improve his Northeastern record? The Sox will compete for the division, but I do not know if they have an offense that can challenge the Bronx Bombers come August and September.

3.) Tampa Bay Rays: This squad is still the “Devil” Rays to me, so fine me a $1 Florida! The young squad will continue to challenge the Sox and Yankees, but I don’t see this team finishing higher than second or third place.

4.) Baltimore Orioles: The O’s are headed in the right direction, but still time will tell how this squad will be in the coming years. I like their pitching, but again, offense is the major concern. Can Julio Lugo be a spark plug? We shall see!

5.) Toronto Blue Jays: This team is just down right pathetic. They are awful all over the place, as well as gave up the greatest pitcher in baseball, Roy Halladay. Sorry Canada, stick with hockey because I think that is the best bet for now.

AL Central:

1.) Minnesota Twins: I am picking the Twinkies to rule this division. Great pitching, as well as some young studs will make the Twins a competitive squad to beat. Also, lets keep our fingers crossed for no snow in Minneapolis because there is a new stadium in the “Twin City” these days. Also, is this possibly another team for Brett Favre to join after another fake retirement this Summer?

2.) Chicago White Sox: The Windy City needs some love, which is why I am picking them to finish second. I love Peavey and Danks to lead this squad in pitching, as well as a young offense to gel. The White Sox could possibly be a dark horse, so watch out Minnesota and Detroit, the Sox are coming for you!

3.) Detroit Tigers: Still a team that needs to discover their true identity, but also a squad that has talent and a great deal of depth. The acquisition of Johnny Damon will most likely do nothing, yet, we shall see if the Tigers can come together as one, as well as challenge the Twins and Sox.

Could Greinke be a key player again for the Royals?

4.) Cleveland Indians/ Kansas City Royals: Both of these two teams will be basement squads, but will steal some wins from the Sox, Twins, and Tigers all season. I would not call either of them spoilers, but if I were to pick a better squad, I like where the Royals are headed. Sorry Cleveland, you may want to see if LeBron could play for you after his NBA Championship appearance in June. Besides, didn’t he want to play for the Browns too?

AL West:

1.) Seattle Mariners: I like the M’s in a terrible division. Off-season acquisitions have improved this squad all around. Great pitching on paper that needs to deliver on an every day basis, as well as an offense that will cause nightmares for opposing managers. I like the M’s to win this division in middle of September and Ken Griffey Jr. to have 10-15 homeruns in possibly his final year in the major’s.

2.) Los Angles of Anaheim Angels: Okay California, please decide which city or location the Angels represent, this is driving me bonkers! Losing key players will hurt the Halo’s, as well as their pitching staff too. Also, is anyone sticking around past the 7th inning anymore? The Angels will compete in this weaker division with the M’s, but won’t make the playoffs come October of 2010, unless they trade for hitting or pitching.

I sure hope Griffey has a healthy, happy and fun season in Seattle!

3.) Texas Rangers: Texas is one of those teams in the MLB that is either a player or a few young prospects away from making a run toward a championship. Sadly, I think the “Lone Star” state might want to focus on their Dallas Mavericks and Cowboys because they are the two top dogs that rule Texas.

4.) Oakland Athletics: Just an awful team. They make college squads that are lousy look good. I don’t see the A’s doing anything special this season, but finishing in 4th place. Yet, didn’t Oakland rule the sports world in the late 20th century? Also, how are the Raiders doing these days?