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2011 Pre-Season Predictions [WMQ]
Mar 31st, 2011 by Dan

Hit! - Florida Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies 17 April 2010

Baseball is BACK!

Games start at 1300 today, so I’m still pre-season. This is also a much shorter prediction post than years past, but that’s what you’re getting.

NL Playoffs:

East: Braves
Central: Reds
West: Giants
Wild Card: Dodgers

I love Philadelphia’s rotation, but their offense has too many holes. No Utley, no RF, Ibañez is not great, Howard is getting figured out and has no protection…it just leads me to the Braves because they don’t have any huge issues, but are solid.

In the Central I don’t think the Cards can do it again this year and I definitely don’t think the Brewers (bad defense, poor pitching) or the Cubs (you’re kidding, right?) can do it. Houston and Pittsburgh aren’t even close to competitive.

The Giants have a better team than last year and they know they can win. So long as 3/5 of that rotation stays strong and healthy, they’ll win it handily. The big bold prediction is thinking that LA can rise out of the doldrums of last season and put in a good year, but I like their chances.

AL Playoffs:

East: Red Sox
Central: Twins
West: Rangers
Wild Card: Toss up…White Sox or Yankees

New York does not inspire confidence in me this year. It’s that aging field and mediocre pitching after Sabathia. Boston has a strong offense in front of good pitching and Tampa can’t quite keep up this year without too many things going right.

I never bet against the Twins in their current form. Chicago might give them trouble, but I don’t see it happening. Detroit is missing a few key pieces in their lineup and rotation and Kansas/Cleveland don’t stand a chance.

Texas’ pitching is still strong without Lee (assuming that Colby Lewis and CJ Wilson have great seasons again) and their only real competition in this division is Oakland (LA’s pitching is weak). I only say this because you never really know what you’re gonna get with Oakland.

The 2010 Season in Review [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Oct 6th, 2010 by Dan

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Chicago Cubs 19 June 2010 Wrigley Field

Time to check out my prediction score

Another season is now behind us and the playoffs begin this afternoon at 1330 EST in Tampa Bay. How did I do in my projections? Who do I predict for the World Series? Let’s check it out!

AL East

My guess:

Yankees
Rays
Red Sox
Orioles
Blue Jays

Actual Results:

Rays
Yankees
Red Sox
Blue Jays
Orioles

Way off on Baltimore, perfect with Boston, and I got the top two mixed up.

After a (glorious) season where the Yankees didn’t make it to the playoffs for once, the Bronx Bombers came back with a vengeance and took it all. The Yanks may have lost Damon and Matsui, but they’re still in a strong position in the AL East and look poised to make the playoffs in the division. Players are getting older on that team and the pitching isn’t as strong as they’d like, but, barring some kind of major injury, I stand by that prediction.

The Red Sox also made a few big moves, getting rid of Jason Bay and adding in Adrián Beltré, and they’re projected to have a solid season with strong defense and slightly weakened bat strength. I think a lot of how well they do this year depends on whether or not they’re able to produce runs at the plate with David Ortiz, who did not perform to standards last year.

My favorite in the East, the Tampa Bay Rays, have had a super strong spring. With the best spring record of the AL, they could upset the Yankees or Red Sox if and only if their rotation and bullpen return to 2008 form. The offense is there, the defense on the field is there, it’s just a matter of making outs. Will Rafael Soriano be enough to solve their closer woes? That alone will tell you what this team will do this year.

I’m excited to see what the Orioles put together this year. Their investment in youth is starting to bear fruit as prospects make their way onto the field, but this young, inexperienced team is up against juggernauts in the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays. I’m going to call this a building year for the Orioles, even if that’s selling them a bit short. They would have a good chance in any other division, but not the East.

There are few teams in baseball that bore me more than the Blue Jays (:cough: Royals, Pirates, and Padres :cough:). This is a team that acknowledged that they have no chance to make a run of it by trading Roy Halladay to the Phillies.

When I try and underestimate my team for the sake of avoiding bias all I end up doing is getting their position in the standings wrong. As predicted, the ascent of Rafael Soriano was a real blessing to the team, allowing the bullpen to focus on being awesome and the rotation on turning in a fine season. David Price was Cy Young caliber all season, Matt Garza threw a no-hitter, and the rookies Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann made a solid statement in the rotation. Add in Jeremy “Hellboy” Hellickson to the bullpen and Tampa had great numbers off the mound. On the field, defense and small ball continued to be key. Carlos Peña had a rough season at the plate, but the rest of the team was able to pick him up. Jettisoning Pat Burrell was also a fantastic idea. Longoria continued to be amazing.

Seems I was right on the perennial favorite Yankees. Their squad got it done all year long behind a Cy Young caliber season by C.C. Sabathia. Unfortunately for the Yanks, it seems I was also right about their aging lineup. Pettitte started ten fewer games than the rest of the rotation due to injury and his ability to pitch in this postseason remains a question mark. The rest of the rotation has been pretty shaky too with Javier Vasquez putting in a poor performance and AJ Burnett getting progressively worse, but Phil Hughes looks okay while the rookie Ivan Nova was pretty good in the opening innings. Jeter and Posada have started to show their age, but, overall, this is a top tier team that has feasted on its opponents all year long.

I was way off about David Ortiz, who put in a solid season, but there’s no way I could have predicted the injury-fest that was the 2010 season for Boston. They were remarkably able to stay somewhat competitive to the end, but they just couldn’t overcome Tampa or New York.

Maybe Toronto would have put together a third place finish had they kept Halladay, but his loss did not prevent the Jays from looking mighty dangerous in the East. Their 85 wins would be hyper-competitive in plenty of other divisions and the ascent of Jose Bautista as the only 50 HR hitter this season was remarkable.

The funny thing about the Orioles is that they’ve played their best baseball when it mattered least. Replacing their manager with Buck Showalter seems to have done the trick, but it remains to be seen if they can win in situations where they play meaningful games.

AL Central

My Guess:

Twins
White Sox
Tigers
Indians
Royals

Actual Results:

Twins
White Sox
Tigers
Indians
Royals

Whoa, I was scarily on the money with this one.

For a while there, this division was the Twins’ to lose. Then the second best closer in the game, Joe Nathan, went down for the season, muddying up the waters. Add in that the team is moving to a brand new ballpark and things could get interesting. Gone are the super-competitive advantages of the Metrodome, replaced by what will be a SUPER frigid open-air ballpark that will take some getting used to. When it comes to Joe Mauer, I’m reminded of the fictional words of Michael Bluth, “You gotta lock that down.” Lucky for the Twins, they managed to get that done with an eight-year, 184 M$ contract. It should help.

I hear a lot about Chicago’s rotation being so vastly improved, but it’s almost always followed by the caveat that Peavy needs to pitch well. It’s been a long while since his 2007 Cy Young campaign and he hasn’t been able to remain healthy. Despite how much Obama loves this team, I can’t stand A. J. Pierzynski and, by extension, the team.

Detroit has a team that I want to love. Those poor guys live in a third world city that is on the verge of absolute collapse. They keep giving Dontrelle Willis chances to succeed (and he might be in the rotation this year), but I’m not sure that they will be able to keep up with the Twins this year thanks to weak pitching. I’ll be keeping an eye on these guys.

The Indians may be on the upswing and ready to bounce back, but I’m not ready to believe that yet. I don’t see much happening for this team.

Kansas City has an awful team aside from Zack Greinke.

Well, Minnesota went and won this division, like I thought. They didn’t have to worry too much about closers and they picked up Matt Capps just to make sure that they’d be fine in the stretch. Target Field seems solid and the team just played well.

Chicago had a chance to make this division closer, but they just couldn’t lock it down. Jake Peavy barely pitched and the team was just middling almost all season long. They’ll be remembered best this year for Mark Buehrle’s amazing play to first in the first game of the season.

Detroit was so close to doing something with the division! Miguel Cabrera was playing MVP-caliber baseball, but the rest of the team just wasn’t on board. Sidenote: Willis was traded to Arizona.

Cleveland still doesn’t have it. I’m skeptical that they’ll have it next year either.

Kansas City has an awful team aside from Zack Greinke (and even he was mediocre).

AL West

My Guess:

Mariners
Angels
Rangers
Athletics

Actual Results:

Rangers
Athletics
Angels
Mariners

So very wrong here. Wow…

Despite their stupid long name, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have had one of the most consistent teams of the century. They contend every year and make it to the playoffs almost every year. It’s hard to ignore how solid this team is. Unfortunately, they’ve been fighting a war of attrition these past two years with Texas and Seattle getting closer and closer to robbing AL West dominance away from them. They gained Matsui, but lost vital starter Lackey. Will it be enough?

Seattle wants it this year. They went and signed Cliff Lee and even took the risk of signing the volatile Milton Bradley to bolster their bats. Things were looking great for Seattle until Cliff Lee ended up on the DL and Milton Bradley got himself ejected from two straight spring training games. Will they be able to keep it all together and make a real run for the West?

The Rangers are solid, but they have a lot of reliance on players like Josh Hamilton who are very injury prone. They’ve been just short of the playoffs for several years now and they’re real hungry for it.

I have so much apathy for the Athletics. I’m sure their team is pretty good and has a chance this year, but it never seems to pan out for Oakland.

Texas is looking the best they have in a long time. Josh Hamilton is looking like the favorite for MVP and the boys from Arlington have a phenom on their hands with Neftali Feliz. Will they finally make it to the World Series?

Where did Oakland come from this year? Maybe it’s the east coast bias, but I had no idea these guys were doing better than the other two teams in the division. Maybe the dynasty is reemerging.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. What did you do this year? At least you made the Rays look brilliant thanks to Scott Kazmir sucking it up all year long.

Seatlle. I drank your kool-aid. All I got in return was the most anemic offense since the introduction of the Designated Hitter. Your season was historically bad. At least Ichiro continues to dominate and I got to see Griffey before he retired.

NL East:

My Guess:

Phillies
Marlins
Braves
Mets
Nationals

Actual Results:

Phillies
Braves
Marlins
Mets
Nationals

If I hadn’t let bias toward the Marlins blind me I would have had another perfect pick.

My favorite division also contains two of my least favorite teams in baseball, both of which are set to have great seasons. Last year’s NL Champions, the Philadelphia Phillies, are still just as good with Roy Halladay instead of Cliff Lee. They’ve still got a great lineup with good pitching and, even without their closer, they should still have a solid season. They are The Team To Beat (TM) in the East.

Atlanta, my least favorite team, has got stars in their eyes for Jason Heyward, a top-prospect who made the team this spring. Heyward’s bat, combined with Hanson and Kawakami’s arms, could be very formidable in the East. This is a team that worries me.

The Mets have had such terrible luck recently that it’s almost bound to start swinging back in the other direction…right? With an adjusted outfield to help home runs, their offense might perform a little better, but that injury-riddled team is not looking all that much better this year. If they outperform the Marlins, I’ll be surprised.

Speaking of teams that won’t outperform the Marlins, Washington is almost guaranteed to make marginal improvements this year. Their rotation is still a mess, but veterans like Chien-Ming Wang and Liván Hernández can combine with the brilliance of Stephen Strasburg and the promising performance of Drew Storen and produce what might actually be a major league rotation. The lineup needs some work to score runs, but pitching is infinitely more important for a team that wants to win.

Speaking of a team that emphasizes pitching, we’ve finally arrived at my favorite team, the Florida Marlins. Over the off-season they finalized a strong contract for Josh Johnson and kept Dan Uggla, keeping the rotation and lineups strong. Combined with Hanley Ramirez and Chris Coghlan destroying NL pitching and Ricky Nolasco’s brilliant performance on the mound, this is a solid team with only a few holes that need filling. If Cameron Maybin and Gaby Sanchez live up to their potential, I don’t see much standing in this team’s way. There’s always a question of pitching with the back end of the rotation, but Chris Volstad has been looking good of late and Anibal Sanchez fluctuates, but trends on the better side most times. The real question is in the bullpen where the Fish will be relying on Leo Núñez to close games. I’m not confident in Núñez yet.

The Phils were the best. Blah blah blah. They made it to the postseason as the national favorite to win it all, despite stupidly trading Cliff Lee away. Their starting three, Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels were solid all year long, Halladay should win the Cy Young, and…I hate this team. If the Rays don’t make it in the East, I’d love to see Texas get there and stomp on the Phils thanks to the amazing leadership of Cliff Lee

Atlanta barely scraped by to take the NL Wild Card. They came this close to making me happy and not making it to the playoffs. Despite losing Chipper Jones, they were able to hold on to their spot in the final eight thanks to fantastic performances by Jason Heyward and Tim Hudson. Bobby Cox should be proud of this team in his final year. Sidenote: Kenshin Kawakami was terrible this year.

I really thought that Florida could be a second place team this year. JJ pitched fantastically for most of the season as did Nolasco and Sanchez, but they just couldn’t hold it together long enough for the bullpen to not screw it up. That’s where the most offseason work should be focused, IMHO. Nuñez did his best as the closer, but they might need someone new next season. Losing Cogz to a season-ending knee injury on a shaving cream pie was also super ridiculous.

Everyone’s favorite Metropolitans continued to be the worst run team in the league. Thankfully for all of us, ownership has fired the GM and manager so hopefully the team can go in a new direction next year, assuming its contracts don’t weigh it down too much to make many changes.

The Nats were looking primed to be reasonably competitive this year from the getgo. Their record was solid, Strasburg was coming up, things were optimistic. Then the bottom fell out. Starting pitching failed completely before June, Strasburg got injured in August (sidelining him until 2012), and everyone’s hopes and dreams died. The simple fact is that the Nats have no starting pitching. You can’t run a team without starting pitching.

NL Central:

My Guess:

Cardinals
Cubs
Reds
Brewers
Astros
Pirates

Actual Results:

Reds
Cardinals
Brewers
Astros
Cubs
Pirates

Wrong, wrong, wrong. All I placed accurately were 4th and 5th

The Central has a chance to be interesting this year with strong squads being fielded by St. Louis, Cincinnati, and “this is our last chance for a while” Chicago. St. Louis has the best chance here thanks to strong pitchers Carpenter and Wainwright and their strong offense in Pujols and Holliday. Cincinnati has been a dark horse so many years in a row now that they’d better start performing. The promise of Aroldis Chapman could push them ahead if the offense follows, but otherwise the team has a strong uphill climb. The Cubbies don’t have much time left before they have to start “rebuilding”. If they don’t put together a playoff season this year, it might be a while before we see one happen again. I still love Fukudome, even if the Cubs don’t. He’s a consistent and solid player.

I don’t know much about Milwaukee’s squad this year, but they’re usually a solid team, but I didn’t hear much in the offseason that would convince me they were ready to push ahead of last year’s performance.

The rest of the Central, the Pirates and the Astros, really don’t make an impact in baseball nowadays. Pittsburgh is really a AAAA team and Houston has failed to make any kind of splash in a long while.

Cincinnati was the surprise here for me as they put together their best performance in something like 15 years or so. Votto might be NL MVP. Their success can be mostly attributed to Votto and the late-season call-up Aroldis Chapman’s stellar stuff in the home stretch. They get to face Philadelphia right off the bat and if they can’t hit Halladay and Oswalt right away, they could have problems.

St. Louis just gave this division away. It was theirs to win at one point in August, but they just squandered their lead proving that Pujols, Carpenter, and Wainwright a complete team does not make. Will they fire La Russa now?

What’s there to say about Milwaukee? Just not enough there at all to win. Maybe next year guys. Braun can’t carry a whole team.

Houston and Pittsburgh. You guys are terrible. The ‘Stros picked it up later in the season, but it was far too late for that to matter.

NL West:

My Guess:

Rockies
Giants
Dodgers
Padres

Actual Results:

Giants
Padres
Rockies
Dodgers
Diamondbacks

Arizona was so forgettable to me that I left them off of the list completely. The Rockies looked like they might make a run, but it fell apart and I was way off on LA and San Diego.

Colorado made the biggest turnaround I’ve seen since the last time they did it in 2007 to win the wild card last year and make the playoffs. After that strong finish and with LA’s messy divorce keeping them from making significant progress on their team, I see Colorado as the frontrunners in this division.

A messy divorce has been draining Dodger ownership of cash and the ability to run their team. At best, the Dodgers remain as good as they were last year. Realistically, they fall behind the Rockies and maybe even the Giants too.

Solid pitching, but not much offense. It’s been the same story for years now. A strong team only because it keeps the run count down on the opposing team.

What about the Padres?

San Francisco is my favorite team in the playoffs right now. Solid starting pitching (Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez) make for a potent postseason combo as well as great anchors for the 5-man rotation. Somehow this team managed to score runs despite Pablo Sandoval’s season-wide slump. I guess that the solid pitching was enough to hold off the West competition.

The Friars (Padres) had a real chance of turning this into the NL West Wild Card, but they squandered it in the last few weeks and couldn’t complete. If this team can be this good next year they’re bound to win the West.

Colorado really fell off from last season. For a while in September Tulowitzki made it look like the Rockies would repeat their ridiculous last minute run for the third year in a row making me look like a genius. Ah well…maybe next year.

The McCourt divorce really sapped this team a lot more than I thought it would. Manny didn’t hit and the pitching wasn’t there. Torre will probably leave this year and I predict this team will not perform much better next year.

Oh god the Diamondbacks are awful. They need a lot of work.

Abe Is My Homeboy: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Jun 10th, 2010 by Dan

Abe and I at Nationals Park

"Honest" Abe and I fist bumping

For some reason Abe has become my favorite of the racing presidents. Maybe it’s his arrogant stride or maybe it’s the way he’s a sore loser when he doesn’t win, but I just love everything about the persona they’ve crafted for #16.

09 June

NPB
Chunichi Dragons (1) at Rakuten Eagles (4). Satoshi Nagai hurls eight innings of eight hit ball, miraculously only giving up one run. Nice work, Nagai. Rakuten’s record improves to 29-30-1, tied for fourth.

Hiroshima Carp (2) at Chiba Lotte Marines (2). Kenta Maeda battled the Marines to a tie over nine and his bullpen held on for him to secure Hiroshima’s second tie in like a week. The tie allows Hiroshima to edge forward to 22-34-2 in fourth.

MLB
New York Yankees (4) at Baltimore Orioles (2). I watched the Orioles blow a bases-loaded opportunity against Sabathia in the 7th (I believe). Such a disappointing team. 16-43.

Florida Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies. The much vaunted Johnson vs Halladay rematch was postponed due to rain.

Pittsburgh Pirates (5) at Washington Nationals (7). Washington proves that it can win without Strasburg. Can they sweep the Bucs? Their record improves to 29-31, putting them in fourth.

Toronto Blue Jays (1) at Tampa Bay Rays (10). David Price has just been unbelievable of late. Very nice work. Tampa retains its two game lead with its 39-20 record.

Griffey Retired: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Jun 4th, 2010 by Dan

Ken Griffey Jr. (1997)

Ken Griffey, Jr.’s retirement was overshadowed by the perfect game controversy of the same day. I just wanted to take a few moments to state that he had an amazing career that should be honored. It’s a shame to see him out of the game, but I’m so glad he played.

03 June

NPB
No games.

MLB
Baltimore Orioles (3) at New York Yankees (6). When you put David against the Goliath that is C.C. Sabathia and the Yankees, you should expect this, not the Biblical outcome. The Orioles record is now 15-39.

Washington Nationals (4) at Houston Astros (6). Capps gives up a walk-off home run partly thanks to a blown catch by Guzman. A tough loss for the 26-29 Nationals to swallow.

Milwaukee Brewers (2) at Florida Marlins (3). Josh Johnson pitches yet another gem to keep the Marlins in third place with their 28-27 record.

Mixed Bag: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Apr 29th, 2010 by Dan

Waiting to get in at Citizens Bank Park

No matter how poorly my teams did or didn’t do today, nothing can match my disappointment in the Washington Capitals for losing Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs. Way to suck, guys.

28 April

NPB
Yokohama BayStars (2) at Hiroshima Carp (1). These close losses are the most heartbreaking ones. The Carp fall to 11-16-0 in fifth. At least the Swallows lost too.

Rakuten Eagles (2) at Softbank Hawks (13). This team really has a hard time winning on non-Tanaka and non-Iwakuma days. They’ve got a similar record, but I find myself more disappointed in them, for some reason. 12-18-0 in fifth.

MLB
San Diego Padres (6) at Florida Marlins (4). Another disappointing loss to the Friars. Florida goes on to face the Nationals this weekend. The Fish are actually in fourth place now with their 11-11 record.

Washington Nationals (3) at Chicago Cubs (2). Luis Atilano’s second outing goes well too. The Nats are now in third place with their 12-10 record, half a game back.

New York Yankees (8) at Baltimore Orioles (3). We knew they couldn’t beat CC. They don’t disappoint. 4-17 in last.

Oakland Athletics (3) at Tampa Bay Rays (10). Another stellar performance by Tampa Bay. This team is on a real roll this month. 16-5 in first with the Yankees 2.5 behind.

ORIOLES WIN!: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Apr 28th, 2010 by Dan

Domo-kun loves Oriole Part at Camden Yards

Even Domo-kun is happy that the Orioles won

Normally your fourth win, twenty-four games into the season, is nothing to celebrate. When you do it against the Yankees, I think you can take a minute to be proud of notching a ‘W’.

27 April

NPB
Yokohama BayStars (0) at Hiroshima Carp (3). Nothing like a shutout to brighten your day. The Carp are sitting on an 11-15-0 record in fourth, just half a game shy of passing the Swallows.

Rakuten Eagles (2) at Softbank Hawks (3). The Eagles really seem to be having trouble with the Hawks. Hopefully they can turn it around tomorrow. Rakuten’s 12-17-0 record puts it in fourth, same as the Carp.

MLB
New York Yankees (4) at Baltimore Orioles (5). Despite an error almost derailing the whole thing, I managed to attend the first Orioles home win of the season (against the Yankees, no less!). Absolutely awesome until you realize that they’ve also lost 20. Hopefully this can be a turning point for the season, but they probably won’t beat C.C. Sabathia tomorrow. 4-20 in last.

San Diego Padres (4) at Florida Marlins (1). Sloppy play helped to mar Florida’s chances last night. This takes some of the sting off of the 10-1 loss San Diego suffered last night, but hopefully Nate Robertson puts the Padres in their place tomorrow. The Fish lose second by half a game with their 11-10 record and are now tied for third.

Oakland Athletics (6) at Tampa Bay Rays (8). Not the prettiest win for Wade Davis, but a win is a win. Tampa Bay retains their stranglehold on first with their 15-5 record with a 2.5 game lead on the Yanks.

Washington Nationals (3) at Chicago Cubs (1). I’ve always known Liván Hernández was good, but he’s really coming out as the staff ace until Strasburg shows up. A stellar performance against the Cubs puts the team at 11-10, tied with the Fish for third.

First MLB Weekend Complete: Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Apr 12th, 2010 by Dan

No witty captions today, sorry.

9 April

NPB
Hiroshima Carp (0) at Yokohama Baystars (5). Not the outcome I would have expected, but Yokohama is deceptively strong at times (and Hiroshima is pretty weak this year).

Orix Buffaloes (8) at Rakuten Eagles (3). Orix made some serious upgrades in the off-season, but I wonder if they can keep this pace up all season.

MLB
Toronto Blue Jays (7) at Baltimore Orioles (6). The Orioles blow their home opener and not many are surprised. Tough break for the (orange) birds.

Los Angeles Dodgers (7) at Florida Marlins (3). Tough loss for the Fish who had an awful showing for their home opener.

New York Yankees (3) at Tampa Bay Rays (9). David Price might just have that season everyone thought he would have last year this year.

Washington Nationals (2) at New York Mets (8). About what you’d expect.

10 April

NPB
Carp (7) at Baystars (3). Now that’s what I’m talking about.

Buffaloes (1) at Eagles (6). More wins for my teams.

MLB
Nationals (4) at Mets (3). Surprising comeback for the Nats (almost any win is kind of surprising for them). Can they take the rubber game too?

Yankees (10) at Rays (0). An embarrassing shutout in which C.C. Sabathia throws 8 innings of no-hitter baseball. This one hurt.

Blue Jays (3) at Orioles (0). At least it wasn’t the Orioles closer who blew this game.

Dodgers (6) at Marlins (7). Walk-off wins are always nice.

11 April

NPB
Buffaloes (1) at Eagles (4). Yet another win for the Eagles. Their record rises to 7-10-0 for the weekend, but they’re still in fifth by 1.5 games.

Carp (3) at Baystars (6). It’s good to see them scoring runs, but the Carp couldn’t take the series. Their record falls to 4-10-0, but they’re surprisingly only 5.5 games back from first and 1.5 from fifth.

MLB
Nationals (5) at Mets (2). Washington takes the series with a huge win over Johan Santana who gave up a grand slam to Josh Willingham. The Nats are a decent 3-3 and tied for third (with Atlanta) in the NL East.

Dodgers (5) at Marlins (6). Another close one that the Fish won thanks to the powerful bat of the Mexican slugger, Jorge Cantú. The Marlins now have a 4-2 record and sole control of second in the NL East.

Blue Jays (5) at Orioles (2). Baltimore needs to do something (but not for the next three games against Tampa) to start turning this team around. They are 1-5 in last for the AL East which, surprisingly, has Toronto leading it at 5-1.

Yankees (7) at Rays (3). Another tough loss to swallow, but Tampa Bay needs to turn around and beat up on the Os to lift their record and spirits before they head to Boston at the end of the week. Tampa Bay is 3-3 and tied for third with the BoSox.

Game 6! [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Nov 4th, 2009 by Dan

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

Look at that, a World Series actually amounting to something in this day and age. Heck, with Pettitte on the mound tonight, we may even get a Game 7 for the first time in ages!

The series started out with a real bang and looked like it would be close after Cliff Lee took the mound against Sabathia, but it quickly took a turn for the Yankees as they mostly dominated the next three games with great performances from Burnett, Pettitte, and Sabathia.

Game 5 was a complete surprise, given Burnett’s great performance in Game 2, but the Phillies pounded him and held a respectable lead most of the game (but almost lost it). Special mention should be made of Chase Utley, who has tied Reggie Jackson for the most home runs hit in a single World Series at five (he locked down the most for the National League and most for a second baseman earlier). Tonight he just might pass him against a short rest Pettitte.

With the series now at 3-2 Yankees, we can all only hope to see the Phillies turn in a win tonight make the series even for a super-exciting Game 7. Rumor has it there might even be snow showers on Thursday, so it will be interesting.

In Japan Series news, their series is 2-1 in favor of the Giants. After a big win in Game 1, the Fighters surprised everyone by trotting out Yu Darvish to take on the Giants. Still hurt, he pitched with a modified delivery, relied on his curve ball and other junk pitches, and still turned in a marvelous game for the Fighters’ only win. They’ve really got to even up the series next game or they’ll be in a huge hole against the Giants

World Series and Japan Series About to Begin! [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Oct 28th, 2009 by Dan

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

We now know all the participants in the championship series for both countries. In the states we have the Philadelphia Phillies squaring off against the New York Yankees starting tonight. Both of these teams are pretty solid, so it should be a competitive and close series. If it goes to Game 7, I’ll be ecstatic. There hasn’t been a Game 7 World Series since 2002 and we’re in dire need of some drama.

The key to Philadelphia winning has got to be their performance against left-handed pitching. Between Sabathia and Pettitte, the Yankees have got some potent, left-handed pitching and the Phillies are notoriously bad at hitting against lefties. With such powerhouse pitching, the normally home run-reliant Phils will have to be sure to manufacture some runs with intelligent stealing and timely hits instead of the long ball.

Yankee victory can be easily assured by making sure the series ends fast and hoping their bullpen and Girardi don’t botch the series. Philadelphia has a weak bullpen too, but weakness from Joba Chamberlain or Phill Hughes will put the Yankees in a tough spot when trying to get to Rivera. Other than that, they’re the clear favorites for the World Series with a slightly stronger lineup and great pitching. The downside to that pitching and the reason they should finish fast, is that they’ve only got three quality starters. That three-man rotation nonsense they’ve been pulling might not keep working if they have to send C.C. out three times.

One thing’s for sure, this will be an interesting series.

In Nippon, the Japan Series teams have been set and I’m pretty disappointed with the results there too. Neither of my teams won. Instead, the Giants and the Fighters will be competing on the national stage for dominance.

I don’t know enough about these teams to really say anything conclusively about their chances, but I do know that without Yu Darvish on the mound, the Fighters chances are diminished. The Giants have a strong lineup that is mostly composed of power hitting, for which the only known cure is strong pitching. It’s often said that pitching wins the world series. It’s up to Nippon-Ham to stifle the Giants bats if they want even a slight chance of winning.

The Nippon series starts this Saturday.

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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