2014-12-13

LaTroy Hawkins to retire following 2015 season



"Next Sunday, I'll be 42 and 2015 will be my last year playing professional baseball," Hawkins told Harold Reynolds and Fran Charles. "Hopefully not my last year of professional baseball, but it'll be my last year playing professional baseball."

Hawkins, who served as the Colorado Rockies closer in 2014, will enter his final season with exactly 1,000 appearances under his belt. He became only the 16th pitcher in MLB history to reach that milestone on Sept. 27 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, which speaks to his remarkable durability and dependability over the years.

Hawkins actually began as a starting pitcher with the Minnesota Twins all the way back in 1995. In his first five seasons, 98 of Hawkins' 99 appearances were starts. The most notable, as MLB.com's Cut 4 points out, came on May 17, 1998, when he opposed David Wells during Wells' perfect game at Yankee Stadium. Hawkins never approached such success himself, posting a 26-44 record and 6.16 during that time period.

Despite those struggles, it was obvious Hawkins had a major league caliber arm. He just needed to find a niche that best suited him. For the 2000 season, legendary manager Tom Kelly shifted Hawkins to the bullpen, and he never looked back. Each of his last 901 appearances have come in relief, and the majority of those have come as a closer or set-up man.

In 20 seasons, Hawkins has suited up for 10 teams, winning at least one game with each. Overall, he has 72 wins and 124 saves.

There was some thought that Hawkins, who signed a two-year contract with Colorado prior to the 2014 season, might be a decent trade chip this winter or even at next season's trade deadline. This announcement could make that a little more difficult for Colorado, though as we've seen in the recent past, the Rockies are rarely motivated to move veteran players regardless of circumstances or the team's outlook.

Perhaps if Hawkins aspires to go out on top, that will change. But for now, it looks like he's going out a Rockie.




2014-12-13

2014 Driver Reviews: No. 25 Tony Stewart



Name: Tony Stewart

NASCAR Experience: Three Sprint Cup Series titles, most recently in 2011. The only driver to win a championship in both the full-season and Chase format. 48 Sprint Cup Series wins.

Most recent team: Stewart-Haas Racing

Most recent season finish: 25th

2014 accomplishments: Finished fourth in the Bristol spring race, fourth at Martinsville in the fall and fifth at Auto Club Speedway. Yeah, this really doesn't jive with the stats listed above. Can we call this an outlier season for a myriad of reasons?

Most memorable moment: Smiling at Martinsville after that fourth-place finish. A late gamble to not pit meant a chance for the win, but as Dale Earnhardt Jr. took fresh tires and sliced through the field, he couldn't be stopped.

Strengths: A lot of things. You remember the 48 wins, right?

2015 goals: Win races Nos. 49 and 50. Qualify for the Chase. You know, return back to normal, or establish a new normal.

FTM's Take: A Stewart resum about 2014 is brief for obvious reasons. When you add in the recovery from the broken leg he suffered in 2013 and then what happened at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in August 2014 when he struck and killed Kevin Ward, there aren't many fitting adjectives to use to describe Stewart's season. It's fair to question whether or not Stewart, 44 in May, will ever return to the form he's shown throughout his career, especially after a less-than-stellar 2013 before his sprint car accident. And those questions are likely why Stewart was forthright about his 2014 and adamant about his future at the end of the season. 2015 may be Stewart's most vital season yet. But we've learned to never bet against him.




2014-12-13

2014 Driver Reviews: No. 25 Tony Stewart



Name: Tony Stewart

NASCAR Experience: Three Sprint Cup Series titles, most recently in 2011. The only driver to win a championship in both the full-season and Chase format. 48 Sprint Cup Series wins.

Most recent team: Stewart-Haas Racing

Most recent season finish: 25th

2014 accomplishments: Finished fourth in the Bristol spring race, fourth at Martinsville in the fall and fifth at Auto Club Speedway. Yeah, this really doesn't jive with the stats listed above. Can we call this an outlier season for a myriad of reasons?

Most memorable moment: Smiling at Martinsville after that fourth-place finish. A late gamble to not pit meant a chance for the win, but as Dale Earnhardt Jr. took fresh tires and sliced through the field, he couldn't be stopped.

Strengths: A lot of things. You remember the 48 wins, right?

2015 goals: Win races Nos. 49 and 50. Qualify for the Chase. You know, return back to normal, or establish a new normal.

FTM's Take: A Stewart resum about 2014 is brief for obvious reasons. When you add in the recovery from the broken leg he suffered in 2013 and then what happened at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in August 2014 when he struck and killed Kevin Ward, there aren't many fitting adjectives to use to describe Stewart's season. It's fair to question whether or not Stewart, 44 in May, will ever return to the form he's shown throughout his career, especially after a less-than-stellar 2013 before his sprint car accident. And those questions are likely why Stewart was forthright about his 2014 and adamant about his future at the end of the season. 2015 may be Stewart's most vital season yet. But we've learned to never bet against him.




2014-12-13

Derby winner Silver Charm retires to Ky. farm



Old Friends farm founder and president Michael Blowen says the Racing Hall of Fame champion arrived at the Georgetown farm Monday.

The 1997 Derby and Preakness winner has spent about a decade in Japan, where the gray horse continued his stud career.

Blowen says the 20-year-old will be quarantined for about three weeks, as is customary. After that, he hopes the horse will be frolicking in his paddock. He says visitors will be able to take pictures of him and feed him carrots.

Blowen says the horse seemed to take to his new surroundings right away.

Silver Charm finished his racing career with $6.9 million in earnings.




2014-12-13

Derby winner Silver Charm retires to Ky. farm



Old Friends farm founder and president Michael Blowen says the Racing Hall of Fame champion arrived at the Georgetown farm Monday.

The 1997 Derby and Preakness winner has spent about a decade in Japan, where the gray horse continued his stud career.

Blowen says the 20-year-old will be quarantined for about three weeks, as is customary. After that, he hopes the horse will be frolicking in his paddock. He says visitors will be able to take pictures of him and feed him carrots.

Blowen says the horse seemed to take to his new surroundings right away.

Silver Charm finished his racing career with $6.9 million in earnings.