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Not Quite As Predicted [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
May 27th, 2009 by Dan

It’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

I think it’s safe to say at this point in the season that things aren’t quite going as I predicted. It’s not the end of the world to be five games back in late May, but it just isn’t coming together for the Rays who are behind the Red Sox, Yankees, and Blue Jays in the AL East. Fortunately for the Rays, the Blue Jays seem to be choking against even the most trivial of AL East teams :cough: the Baltimore Orioles :cough:, but the fact of the matter is that the Rays have to start playing better to keep it alive.

Good thing the stars aren’t aligning against them, right?

Right???

Akinori Iwamura, a heavily underrated cog in the machine is out for the entire season. Not just a few weeks, the whole rest of the year. Jason Bartlett is out with a sprained ankle. Pat Burrell is still out hurting with a stiff neck. Scott Kazmir, who has been pitching poorly anyway, is out on the DL too. This is some serious personnel out for the next two weeks or so. Joe Maddon has been starting Reid Brignac, Willy Aybar, and Ben Zobrist to replace the missing players, but this is clearly not ideal. The Rays are definitely being tested right now, so it would be good for the replacement players to step up instead of…well…

David Price, the holy grail of AL rookies finally got the call up to the bigs to pitch on Monday, only it didn’t go quite as planned. Poor control managed to get him through only 3 1/3 innings with five walks and six strikeouts and, luckily only two earned runs. Some say it was because he sat for quite some time while his team racked up a 10-0 lead. The only real problem is that the bullpen, clearly not expecting their rookie phenom to throw over a hundred pitches in three and a third, couldn’t hold the 10-2 lead that Price left them with. That’s right, the Rays actually lost the game 11-10 Cleveland. Pathetic.

Pick it up Tampa, you’re making me look bad! I know you can outplay the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox, you’ve done it all year already.

Here’s some perspective: last season the starters had an ERA of 3.95 and the bullpen had a 3.55 mark to bring the team to the World Series. Meanwhile, the Rays are sporting a 4.95 starting ERA with 4.16 in the bulllpen. While I’m sure you’re admiring the neat statistical anomaly that the starting pitching’s ERA has risen by exactly one point, it still shows that the key factor in the Rays not performing this season resides in the pitching staff.

Meanwhile Florida is sitting 5.5 games back too in the NL East battling through some pitching injuries and just playing mediocre ball. I know they were playing much better last season, so it hurts to see a better squad where they are right now. On the plus side, they’re not starting Emilio Bonifacio, but they also took a big hit when Cameron Maybin didn’t hit at the start of the season. The once proud 11-1 team is now sitting at 21-26. Pick it up Marlins!

The Fish also only managed to win one of three against the Rays and were soundly spanked in the ones they lost. That was also the series that Iwamura got hurt, which makes it even more painful.

Here’s hoping for better news next week.

More Photos [WMQ]
Apr 16th, 2009 by Dan

My brother put some more photos up. Here are some more of my faves.

Adam Jones evaluating his bat

Adam Jones evaluating his bat

Longoria going for the catch

Longoria going for the catch

The drama of the windup

The drama of the windup

Ballgames arent all excitement every moment

Ballgames aren't all excitement every moment

My brother took a lot of Longoria pictures partly because we were sitting close to him, but mostly because hes my favorite player.

My brother took a lot of Longoria pictures partly because we were sitting close to him, but mostly because he's my favorite player.

About to make the out at first

About to make the out at first

I love the moments in action shots that just seem physically impossible.

I love the moments in action shots that just seem physically impossible.

Kinda like this one

Kinda like this one

Baseball-themed ads are funny

Baseball-themed ads are funny

Aki makes the grab while Bartlett watches on

Aki makes the grab while Bartlett watches on

The Rays didnt have a great hitting day...

The Rays didn't have a great hitting day...

Standings and Predictions + Pics from Os vs. Rays on 10 April [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Apr 15th, 2009 by Dan

It’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

15 April may mean the tax man is coming around, but I like to think of it from a better perspective: Jackie Robinson Day. That’s right, on 15 April 1947 Jackie Robinson debuted for the Branch Rickey’s Brooklyn Dodgers, finally breaking the color barrier in baseball and paving the way for civil rights in America. Jackie Robinson was a hero and I’m glad that baseball honors him each year on this day by allowing players to wear Robinson’s league-wide retired #42.

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
-Jackie Robinson

Now for the standings and predictions:

AL East

Baltimore Orioles
Toronto Blue Jays 0.5 Games Back (GB)
New York Yankees 2.0 GB
Tampa Bay Rays 2.0 GB
Boston Red Sox 4.0 GB

Surprising as the standings are today, I don’t think this can realistically continue throughout the year. The current bottom three are just too good for this to stay like this all year. A more realistic October looks like:

Rays
Red Sox
Yankees
Orioles
Blue Jays

Most of sports news America has the Jays above the Os and the Rays anywhere between first and third. I think the Rays outplay both the Yanks and the Sox and I’ve seen the Orioles do some major slugging. Even with the rotation difficulties they’re projected to have, I think their offense might be able to make up for it, but not enough to beat the Yankees. If the Yankees can’t get their act together with their bullpen and starting pitching (CC is looking better, but Wang is awful), things could be further shaken up.

NL East

Florida Marlins
Atlanta Braves 1.0 GB
Philadelphia Phillies 2.0 GB
New York Mets 3.0 GB
Washington Nationals 6.0 GB

The Nats are off to an awful start, mostly thanks to the incredible Florida Marlins who are a MLB-best 6-1 right now. They’re riding high off of good hitting and pitching, but I don’t think they have the depth to stay that high. Their hitting is a little too inconsistent and the rest of the division is just so darn good. That being said, I don’t think that the Phils can win the East again, mostly thanks to an ailing Cole Hamels, so I see them coming in definitely behind the Mets who have a rebuilt bullpen. Nats will continue to suck. The Braves are good, but I don’t know if they’re contenders yet. We’ll have to see as the season progresses.

Mets
Marlins
Phillies
Braves
Nationals

AL Central

Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox 0.5 GB
Detroit Tigers 1.0 GB
Minnesota Twins 1.5 GB
Cleveland Indians 4.0 GB

Trey Hillman is doing a heck of a job with his Royals so far this year, but I don’t think they can stay atop the Central all year long. I predict that the newly rebuilt and re-motivated Tigers will do much better, Cleveland will continue to suffer from whatever losing disease they have (no starting pitching), and the Twins will suffer some major losses thanks to Mauer’s injury. Here’s how I see it ending up:

Tigers
White Sox
Royals
Twins
Indians

I think I might be wrong with the Twins and Royals, but we’ll see when I reevaluate at the All-Star break.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs
St. Louis Cardinals 0.0 GB
Cincinnati Reds 1.0 GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 1.0 GB
Milwaukee Brewers 3.5 GB
Houston Astros 4.0 GB

This one is harder for me to predict cause it’s the division I know the least about. The Cubs are on top, as most would predict, partially thanks to my boy Fukudome doing his part again. I really hope he stays strong all year this time. The Cards are tearing it up with Pujols and I think they’re a lock for second in this division. Despite being everyone’s dark horse for the NL Central, I don’t think the Reds can outplay the Cubs or the Cards. Pirates are doing well out of the gate, but for how long? The Astros just stink and the Brewers can’t compete without the pitching they had last year.

Cubs
Cardinals
Reds
Brewers
Pirates
Astros

AL West

Seattle Mariners
Oakland Athletics 2.0 GB
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 2.5 GB
Texas Rangers 3.0 GB

If you would have told me at the end of last year that the Mariners would be atop the AL West at any point I would have called you crazy. Some key things have changed out west, making it an open division. Injuries plague the Angels bullpen, the Athletics are just mediocre, and the Rangers stink, but somehow Wakamatsu, the new Mariners skipper, has pulled his team together to make them compete. Maybe it’s the return of Griffey, Jr. or something Wakamatsu’s putting in the water, but the team is jiving together much better and it shows.

Mariners
Angels
Athletics
Rangers

IFF the Angels starting pitching is out for an extended period of time.

NL West

San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Dodgers 1.0 GB
Colorado Rockies 2.5 GB
Arizona Diamondbacks 3.0 GB
San Francisco Giants 3.5 GB

The Padres are off to a great, but unmaintainable start. No offense and no pitching means no winning. They’ll fall back in place. The rest of the West is pretty ugly too. San Francisco has great pitching, when Lincecum isn’t sucking, but no offense. The Rockies lost Matt Holliday, and the D-Backs have Webb on the DL. LA is easily the best in the division.

Dodgers
Diamondbacks
Rockies
Giants
Padres

Arizona is only high if Webb comes back soon. Otherwise they can’t hold on.

Those are my early season predictions, but we’ll see how well I’m doing come mid-season and adjust from there.

Pictures from the 10 April game:

Longoria at 3B

Longoria at 3B

View of Camden from our sweet seats

View of Camden from our sweet seats

I like this shot of Aki, even though hes in the background

I like this shot of Aki, even though he's in the background

Preparing for the next pitch.

Preparing for the next pitch.

Sonnanstine getting ready to throw

Sonnanstine getting ready to throw

Rounding the bases

Rounding the bases

Adam Jones hit well that night.

Adam Jones hit well that night.

Looks like a diving miss

Looks like a diving miss

Good swing

Good swing

Scoreboard in the 2nd. Zobrist up to bat

Scoreboard in the 2nd. Zobrist up to bat

Good hit and baserunning

Good hit and baserunning

Domo-kun was at the game too

Domo-kun was at the game too

A vital part of the game experience: park vendors

A vital part of the game experience: park vendors

The end of Hendricksons windup

The end of Hendrickson's windup

Kapler coming in Pete Rose style

Gross coming in Pete Rose style

Im convinced this mental misstep cost us the game. Way to go Kapler...pay attention to the game!

I'm convinced this mental misstep cost us the game. Way to go Kapler...pay attention to the game!

Loosening up to make the calls

Loosening up to make the calls

Nice, Japanese-style swing. Good work Aki

Nice, Japanese-style swing. Good work Aki

AKINORI IWAMURA! Seriously, try cheering that three times fast.

AKINORI IWAMURA! Seriously, try cheering that three times fast.

Infield meeting to slow down the Os. Longoria doesnt pay much attention, but Aki, Bartlett, Navarro, and Peña do.

Infield meeting to slow down the O's. Longoria doesn't pay much attention, but Aki, Bartlett, Navarro, and Peña do.

One of Longorias two homers for the night.

One of Longoria's two homers for the night.

A disappointing loss, but a great time had by me and my friends.

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