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Mid-Season Predictions [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jul 22nd, 2009 by Dan

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

Here we are at the middle of the 2009 MLB season and things could not be more different than I expected. Dark horse candidates lead wild cards, division standings are mostly in shambles, it’s just not what most anyone predicted.

Let’s take a look at the current standings:

AL East

Yankees
Red Sox 1GB
Rays 4.5GB
Blue Jays 10.5GB
Orioles 15GB

No doubt about it, the AL East has seen a return to past form with the rise of the Yankees after last year’s dismal (for them) results. At the season’s opening it seemed like the Blue Jays might make a run for it, but their strong start quickly eroded away putting them way far behind in the standings. It will be interesting to see who finishes last: Baltimore or Toronto.

The East remains a three-team race this year and the Rays have a lot of ground to make up. I’ll be revising my predictions as follows:

Red Sox
Rays
Yankees
Orioles
Blue Jays

I think the Rays can win the wild card with a strong second half and the Yankees will struggle late in the season to give Tampa Bay the go ahead. Baltimore’s strong youth combined with Toronto’s impending Roy Halladay trade will allow the Os to pull ahead of the Jays.

AL Central

Tigers
White Sox 2GB
Twins 2.5GB
Royals 13GB
Indians 13.5GB

It’s a real surprise to see Detroit go from last place last year to first place this year. I guess the bigger surprise was that they were last place last year despite a strong squad. It’s a strong three team race in this division too. You can count out the surprisingly terrible Indians and predictably bad Royals this year. Will Kansas City ever field a good team in the near future?

The division will wrap up:

Tigers
Twins
White Sox
Royals
Indians

Detroit is really looking to perform this season and I think they have a great chance thanks to superb young pitching. So long as the team keeps hitting, they should be fine, especially if they can make a move before the deadline for more starting pitching. I predict that Mauer will give the Twins the needed boost to stay above the Sox all year long, but, who knows, it might come to a playoff between the teams again, they’re relatively evenly matched.

AL West

Angels
Rangers 3GB
Mariners 5.5GB
Athletics 15GB

The AL West will be one of the most surprising and exciting divisions this year, I can just feel it. LA won’t be able to hold onto their lead and the Rangers are hungry for their first World Series appearance. Seattle has done quite well for itself this season thanks to the steady lead of Don Wakamatsu and, really, all it takes is a good streak to put them in a competitive spot in the west.

Rangers
Mariners
Angels
Athletics

It’s a bold prediction, but I’m going to forecast a late season collapse for the Angels that puts them a hair behind Seattle in the west. We all know Oakland is going nowhere.

NL East

Phillies
Braves 6.5GB
Marlins 7GB
Mets 10GB
Nationals 27GB

I could not be more surprised about the way a division is turning out. NL East was close coming out of the All-Star break, but a sweep of the Marlins by the Phillies blew this wide open. All the East can hope for is a Phillies slump, but with NL competition being what it is, this may not happen. The Mets place in all of this is rather surprising too, but not unbelievable since almost their entire roster is on the DL. They’re practically fielding a AAA team.

Phillies
Marlins
Braves
Mets
Nationals

New York won’t be able to recover from all of these injuries and the Braves won’t be able to pull ahead of the Fish. Philadelphia holds on to the top and Washington is just terrible.

NL Central

Cardinals
Cubs 2GB
Astros 2GB
Brewers 2GB
Reds 5.5GB
Pirates 8.5GB

Is there a closer division in baseball than the NL Central? Four teams within two games of first place has got to be some sort of record. The most surprising story in this division has to be the terrible play of the Cubs after their amazing 2008 season.

Cardinals
Cubs
Brewers
Astros
Reds
Pirates

Predicting this one is almost like flipping a coin. St. Louis has all the pieces they need to go the distance this year, barring injury. I think they have the best chance to do well considering Chicago’s lack of initiative this year.

NL West

Dodgers
Rockies 9.5GB
Giants 9GB
Diamondbacks 20GB
Padres 23GB

After the exciting NL Central, how do we arrive at this mess? The largest first place lead in baseball goes to LA (again) this year, but in the opposite league. The Dodgers are in a dangerous position with such lax competition and could find themselves floundering in the playoffs this year. I’m still amazed that both Colorado and the Giants are leading the wild card race this year. Colorado has been on a tear since changing skippers to Jim Tracy and the Giants seem to have found their niche with standout pitching by Lincecum and Cain. If only these teams found their stride earlier in the season, this division might have been interesting.

AL Wild Card: Tampa Bay
NL Wild Card: Giants

Controversial choices, I know, but I love both of these teams and I hope to see them succeed this year.

Sweet Maps, NL East?, NL West [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jul 1st, 2009 by Dan

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

Ever wondered which baseball team you should be rooting for, based on geographic location in the US? Wonder no more.

I do believe you have now found an acceptable excuse for not rooting for a baseball team if you live in Utah.

Injuries, Home Losses, and the Fish Are Back!

The NL East has had what some may call a troubled month.

The NY Mets are basically fielding a AAA team due to all the injuries their players have suffered on the field. It’s a wonder that the team is even in contention at this point, but it seems like it’s starting to catch up to them. The recent losses in interleague didn’t matter too much, since the Marlins and Phillies also lost a few, but they’re now three games back. It’s kind of crazy to think about how close they are, considering that they’re a sub 0.500 team. Who in their right mind would have believed that the Giants, Rockies, and Reds would have better records than the Mets so close to the All-Star break?

Meanwhile, the Phillies have a bit of a problem. They almost never win at home. Their 13-22 record in Citizens Bank Park (that’s a 0.371 win rate, if you’re curious) just looks ridiculous compared to their away record of 26-12 (0.684). For those of you keeping score at home, the only team with a worse home record: the Washington Nationals (13-25 0.342). Pathetic. It’s a wonder they’re in first place.

Which brings me to my next point: the Marlins are only 1.5 games out of first! We’re coming back! This is mostly due to Josh Johnson’s fantastic pitching combined with Ricky Nolasco’s recovery from his minor league stint and some fantastic performances put up by rookie Sean West. Our young rookie didn’t do quite as well last night, but the Marlins were still able to put together a win. If they keep at it, it’s possible the Fish could even be in first by the all-star break.

West Wins?

A lot of strange things have been happening out in the west of late. While LA remains six games ahead of the Giants and wants for a challenge, the Giants have miraculously emerged as a powerhouse, leading the wild card race with the Colorado Rockies (I know!) 1.5 games back. There’s got to be something wrong with this picture…

My best guess: the NL East is really hurting right now, the NL Central is weak and beating up on each other, and the NL West is bizarrely having a great year. This could throw my pre-season predictions completely off balance!

The rest of the news

Manny Ramirez will be starting back up with the Dodgers next week as he completes his fifty game suspension. There was a lot of talk about his playing for the minor leagues when suspended, but I think it’s alright. I mean, if the rules were in place to forbid it, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. MLB wants it this way, so why does everyone care?

Another letter of mine was featured on an ESPN podcast. If you listen to the 24 June Play Ball! episode you’ll get to hear a letter written by me criticizing the press’ (specifically Christine Brennan’s) perception of bloggers. I want to note that I fully support Brennan’s work as a journalist and I think she’s a fine example for women everywhere, I just took umbrage with her claims that the enthusiast press, for lack of a better term, was useless, uninformed, and unethical. We don’t have the training or the access, but I think we do an important job. I’m pretty sure my brothers would know nothing about baseball if it wasn’t for this weekly post I did, so it can’t be all that bad.

The All-Star game approacheth! The game will be played on 14 July, approximately two weeks from now. My plan is to live-blog it (for real this time) on Tuesday night. As a result, there won’t be a true WMQ post that Wednesday (15 July) unless I want to sum up the game. I can’t wait for the game. I hope the NL can finally knock the AL down from its lofty perch.

June Results [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jun 3rd, 2009 by Dan

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

Another month of baseball has passed and it’s a testament to the sport that things have gotten a bit crazy. As I write this on Tuesday, the standings look a little something like this:

AL East

Yankees
Red Sox
Blue Jays
Rays
Orioles

AL Central

Tigers
White Sox
Twins
Royals
Indians

AL West

Rangers
Mariners
Angels
Athletics

NL East

Phillies
Mets
Braves
Marlins
Nationals

NL Central

Brewers
Cardinals
Reds
Cubs
Pirates
Astros

NL West

Dodgers
Giants
Padres
Diamondbacks
Rockies

The biggest surprise would have to be the collapse of the Blue Jays in the face of stiff competition. They are a meager 6-9 in the East and have dropped from their pedestal of 3.5 games ahead at their best to 1.5 games back, amassing a nine-game losing streak to get them to where they are today.

As mentioned by Rob Neyer, the Rays are somehow leading the league in batting average, doubles, homers, RBIs, walks, stolen bases, extra base hits, and they lead the league in runs scored, among other feats. Despite all of this, the Rays happen to lie six(!) games back in the East. Hopefully things start breaking their way soon, they deserve it.

My beloved Marlins sit 6.5 back in the NL East and all the injuries the team is suffering from seem to predict that this won’t change all that much.

Zack Greinke is still murdering batters at a ridiculous pace. His ERA sits at 1.10 after 11 starts and he shows no sign of slowing down. Keep an eye out for him.

Matt Wieters made his debut for Baltimore and he’s doing alright. Expectations are high for the catcher to help turn the team’s fate around.

Evan Longoria is leading the All-Star ballot and I encourage each and every one of you to keep him on top.

Manny Ramirez just might get selected on the ballot, despite being suspended for fifty games following a drug test failure.

The Yankees set an MLB record by allowing no errors in 18 straight games.

Quick me plug: I got my e-mail read on Monday’s ESPN Baseball Today podcast. It was pretty awesome.

And for our last bit of news, good luck on win number 300 Randy Johnson. The Big Unit will go for win number 300 tonight against the Washington Nationals. There’s also a delightful bit of symmetry in the fact that Randy Johnson was first drafted by the Montreal Expos, the team now known as the Nationals, and will be facing them in this historic game.

Some MLB News [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
May 6th, 2009 by Dan

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

Poor Cole Hamels can’t catch a break. A poor spring training with injury leads to two starts where he’s beat up, another start where he’s hit by a batted ball, and another where he rolls his ankle and lands on the DL again. Hopefully his luck starts to turn around soon, a month of the season has already passed us by.

The Blue Jays lead their division by a game. An improbable fact only matched by the fact that the Royals also lead their division or the fact that Seattle leads the AL West. Zack Greinke continues to pitch like he was genetically engineered to. 0.50 ERA and six wins.

Florida finally lost its share of first place last night with a loss to the Reds putting them half a game back to the Phillies. The Mets are miraculously still ahead of the Braves.

Tampa Bay took three of four from the Red Sox, but remain in fourth in the AL East. 6.5 games is a tall mountain to climb, but hopefully twice-named player of the week and player of April Evan Longoria can help them get back to a respectable position at the very least ahead of the Yankees.

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.

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: End of the MLB Regular Season
Oct 1st, 2008 by Dan

You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ’em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

It took 163 games, but as of today we officially have our eight teams set for the 2008 postseason. How did I do in predicting the outcome of the 2008 MLB season? Well let’s take a look, division by division, at my guesses and predictions and see:

AL East

It finally happened: the Tampa Bay Rays came and took a division win for the first time ever in the organization’s ten-year existence. They’re not the first to go from last to first in one season, but it’s still a good story to see them come so far in their brief history. It’s also great to see Florida teams do so well in the season and hopefully we’ll see more attendance in Tampa (technically St. Petersburg). It was always a bit of a pipe dream on my part, despite my knowledge that this team was the real deal, mainly because their youth would have been their greatest enemy. You can’t claim that a team inexperienced with the playoff push in one of the harder divisions in baseball can confidently take first place. Good for me that they did, though, makes me look nice and smart.

Boston performed as I predicted it would too, winning the AL wild card and taking second place in the AL East. It’s a bit of a tough break for them to not win the AL East, since now they have to play the Los Angeles Angels in the first round of the playoffs. I’ll get more into this when I make my postseason predictions, but this can be either a blessing or a curse for my favorite team in the postseason.

The Yankees did about as well as I thought they would, but how strange that they did not have their typical second half push. Instead they actually fell below the Blue Jays for a few days of the season.

Only thing I got wrong about this division, the standings of the Orioles and Blue Jays being WAY off. The O’s managed to fall 18 games behind the Jays at the end of the season. I should have been able to see that the solid pitching on the Blue Jays squad would carry them further than the Orioles mediocre lineup.

Final standings (bad predictions in bold):

Rays
Red Sox
Yankees
Blue Jays
Orioles

Postseason Guess Record: 2-0 (I’m going to count the Red Sox guess in 2nd as a correct one for me for the wild card)
Regular Season Guess Record: 3-2

AL Central

Hoo boy, here’s one that I totally mixed up, even though I got the postseason right. Why in the world did I think that the Tigers would have a chance at second place in AL Central? They were absolutely the worst disappointment in baseball this year, which is a real shame for me to say, since they’re so chock full of former Marlins. Sheffield and Willis were major disappointments for the team and the huge contracts in place may still prevent major shakeups in the off-season. Let’s hope that this doesn’t stay such a pathetic team in the foreseeable future.

The actual winners, the White Sox, managed to stay alive in the 163rd game tie-breaker against the Twins this year to clinch first place in the AL Central and a playoff spot. We’ll see what happens in the postseason, but I should have seen that these two teams were the actual best ones in the central and not clung to a pipe dream that the Tigers would put together a decent showing in the second half.

The rest of the division, the Indians and Royals, managed to put together solid seasons with the Indians keeping closer than the Yankees and the Royals actually managing to place higher than the Tigers. How pathetic for Detroit…

Final Standings:

White Sox
Twins
Indians
Royals
Tigers

Postseason Guess Record: 3-0
Regular Season Guess Record: 5-5

AL West

I’ll say it again: pathetic. The first place team, the Angels, clinched this division like a month ago. At the end of the season, we see them a ridiculous 21 games ahead of their nearest competitors, the Texas Rangers.

Texas managed to play better than I suspected, getting ahead of the Athletics (which I predicted as possible), but not anywhere near the wild card (16 games back).

Seattle finished an abysmal 39 games back. That’s beyond ridiculous. Like I predicted, they didn’t even break a .400 win percentage. They’re gonna have to mix some stuff up next year or more heads will fly. We’ll see if Ichiro will get dealt away during the off-season.

Final Standings:

Angels
Rangers
Athletics
Mariners

Postseason Guess Record: 4-0
Regular Season Guess Record: 7-7

NL East

Another really wrong division, but basically because I love the Marlins and wanted them to win. I’m going to be fair with my prediction standings and not try and make myself look better.

The Phillies won the division, despite strong competition from the Mets, who lost it near the end and lost the wild card in the 162nd (read: last!) game of the season against the Marlins.

As I predicted, the Marlins pitching really helped them out, but I also predicted that a failing of the bats would mess them up. Guess what? The bats stopped working, so they fell behind, but not without setting franchise records for home runs and MLB records for having an entire infield (1B, 2B, SS, and 3B) with over 25 home runs. Nice work Fish, maybe next year.

Final Standings:

Phillies
Mets
Marlins
Braves
Nationals

Postseason Guess Record: 4-1
Regular Season Guess Record: 9-10

NL Central

Another division gone wrong. I got the first two right with the spectacular Cubs and Brewers standing atop the division, but the rest being totally mixed up.

Sabathia totally helped the Cubs out and may find himself with an NL Cy Young as a reward for his stellar pitching. I’m also gonna take credit for being right about the Brewers in the postseason since I have them in the second place spot in this division.

I really thought Pujols would keep the Cardinals above the Astros, but they had a ridiculous wild card attempt that propelled them ahead. The Pirates also hurt a lot more than I thought they would have after losing key players to the trade deadline.

Final Standings

Cubs
Brewers
Astros
Cardinals
Reds
Pirates

Postseason Guess Record: 6-1
Regular Season Guess Record: 11-14

NL West

So I was wrong about the NL West, but I will claim it’s because Manny Ramirez had yet to be traded at that point. No one in their right mind could have predicted that he would get dealt away mid-season, but he went out to L.A. and brought them a division win.

Final Standings:

Dodgers
Diamondbacks
Rockies
Giants
Padres

Postseason Guess Record: 6-2
Regular Season Guess Record: 14-16

So how did I do?

I was 75% accurate in my postseasons predictions if you count my correct “wild card” predictions
I was 66% accurate when you look only at the division champs and neglect the wild card. Still respectable.

I was 46% accurate on my mid-season regular season projections (just one short of 50%)

Postseason

Eight teams. Two league winners. One champion.

AL Matchups:

Red Sox vs. Angels

White Sox vs. Rays

The Red Sox/Angels series is actually the crux of the AL playoff. Personally, I think of the Angels as an overrated team that looks great against the weak AL West. The records look a little different though, with the Angels at 8-1 against Boston, 5-5 against the White Sox, and 3-6 against the Rays. Boston will have a tough series against a team that seems to have their number, but a win will really affect the Rays, putting them up against a pumped up squad that just beat a team most consider to be the best in baseball. With Beckett not pitching until Game 3, the series could take a quick turn for the worse, but I still predict a Red Sox win, as much as it freaks me out. I want the Angels to win so they can lose to the Rays.

After barely squeaking by the Twins to make the playoffs, the White Sox are now coming up against the wall known as the Tampa Bay Rays. I fully expect (and hope) for them to lose, because the Rays are great and another all Chicago World Series (or a Chicago World Series in general) would suck.

Red Sox – Angels
Red Sox – Rays
White Sox – Rays

I predict the ALCS to be the Rays and the Red Sox and an absolute doozy at that. The Rays get home field advantage against a team well-versed in postseason appearances, so that will help them out. Lose one in the Trop and they’re in serious trouble as they could potentially lose it all in Fenway; a park the Rays barely have a winning record in. I’m going to let my emotions continue to cloud my judgment and predict that the Rays go to the World Series.

NL Matchups:

Brewers vs. Phillies

Dodgers vs. Cubs

The Phillies might have had some issues peppered throughout the second half, but I’m pretty confident that they can stand pretty strongly against a weak Brewers squad. The Brew Crew haven’t hit a postseason in so long they can’t be relied upon to perform any better than the Rays might. They’re also 1-5 against the Phillies. Sorry Wisconsin folk, but the Phillies win this one.

This here is an interesting playoff series. The Dodgers have been hotter than hot ever since they acquired Manny. The Cubs have been solid and consistent all season long. Chicago is looking to end a hundred-year-long curse. Los Angeles has a coach in Joe Torre and a player in Manny Ramirez who are both accustomed to winning World Series games by now. It will be close, but I think I’m going to give the Cubs the edge, even though I want the curse to continue to see the Cubs stay out of the World Series since 1945 (and no wins since 1908).

Dodgers – Cubs
Phillies – Cubs
Brewers – Phillies

Again, even though I want the Cubs to keep losing, I predict they will still beat the Phillies. The desire to end the curse at this point will trump the worries that they might botch the series.

World Series:

Cubs vs. Rays

The Rays will win to make me twice as happy for continuing the World Series losing streak for the Cubs and for winning their first World Series (and third for a Florida team). It will be a six game series with the Rays (obviously) winning at the 4-2 mark.

Let’s see how it goes, I’ll be sure to simulate this postseason in MLB PP (with rosters as updated as I can) and keep the blog posted. This will be a baseball-themed blog for a few weeks as a result, but who can complain about that?

Grand Slam: The MLB All-Star Game
Jul 16th, 2008 by Dan

This will be in a sort of liveblog fashion.

First off, let me state that I hope we’ll get a NL win this year, I’m so tired of seeing the NL lose to those AL jerks…

Lineup announcements:

Slight cheering in the NL until they reach Mets players, then booing. How great is that?

In AL, booing at the Red Sox players. Yankees fans can do something right, I guess? If only I can get them to boo the Yankees too.

First commercial break:

I’ve said this time and time again, Flomax commercials are like the male Tampax commercial…

House, M.D. has new doctors. Not sure if I like them…

Back to the game…More Lineup Introductions

Rollie Fingers has a great mustache

So does Goose Gossage, just not as ridiculous.

The whole Hall of Fame thing with the positions is actually really cool. In case you didn’t see, they’ve got a whole lineup of Hall of Famers standing at each position. They announce all of them and then the All-Star voted in goes up to that position and stands next to them.

I didn’t know Cal Ripken, Jr. was originally a shortstop. I guess as he aged they moved him to a less demanding position.

FUKUDOME! Yeah, expect to see a lot of that if he does well tonight.

Josh Hamilton kicked some major ass in the home run derby last night, it’s too bad he didn’t win.

Yogi Berra is way shriveled up. Got a lotta cheering though.

Second Comercial Break:

I’ve got to see Sarah Connor Chronicles one of these days.

National Anthem/First Pitch

Sheryl Crow was ruined for me by a work CD when I was at Busch Gardens. She plays it safe. I wanna see a José Feliciano type event. Stealth bomber flyover is cool though.

Goose Gossage, Reggie Jackson, Yogi Berra, and one other guy (I missed his name) pitch to a bunch of other Yankees. Neat event.

More Commercials

Can it really still be called Prison Break if they’re not in prison? Maybe they’re trying to make a statement about the free American life being a prison itself? Maybe I’m over thinking this…

More Pre-Game…Sheesh, Start it Already…

I really wish they weren’t tearing down Yankee Stadium. It’s got so much history and awesomeness…What a crazy choice by the Yankees.

Frutista Freeze

The Diamondbacks Taco Bell Frutista Freeze commercial is HILARIOUS. I hope it’s on Youtube later…

Game Time! Top of the 1st

Hanley strikes out =[

Cliff Lee is burning through the NL so far. Two strikeouts now in under ten pitches. Too bad Chase…

Berkman flies out to center. Sheesh…1. 2. 3 first inning.

No more commercial counting…

I’m pretty sure the new Mummy movie is gonna stink…

Lou Piniella fake screaming commercial is great. Maybe I’ll reference these commercials tomorrow? (SEE BELOW FOR EMBEDDED COMMERCIAL)

Bot 1

Ichiro flies out on like the first pitch.

Ugh…Jeter…He gets on with a hit that basically bounces against Utley’s face. Should have let Uggla start instead.

Bah…Jeter steals…

Hamilton strikes out. Two outs.

Now it’s A-Rod who pops out to Soto. That wraps up the first, with Soto slipping on a weighted bat getting that pop up.

Top 2nd

Pujols to A-Rod who tosses him out.

Chipper Jones gets a single. Man do I hate the Braves.

Matt Holliday moves Chipper to second, but is out at first.

Ryan Braun, the Hebrew Hammer, strikes out. Three outs.

Bot 2nd

Manny, Manny, Manny…almost hits a home run. Foul ball saves us. Chases one into the dirt and strikes out. Way to go Ben Sheets.

Milton Bradley, whose name is a board game company, steps up. By the way, I like seeing the players in their own team uniform instead of league uniforms. Sheets walks Milton. Camera spots him mouthing a giant F-bomb.

Kevin Youkilis, one of seven Red Sox involved in the game tonight. Shameful…Bradley steals, Soto fails to stop another stolen base. Youkilis’ batting stance is so stupid. Sheets strikes him out.

Holy cow, Ben Sheets got himself a $50,000 bonus for starting tonight.

Joe Mauer steps up. Draws a walk.

Another Red Sox player up to bat, it’s Dustin Pedroia. He has the most annoying batting glove adjusting routine between pitches. Without fail, he will adjust his gloves between each and every pitch. Drives me mad. He flies out to FU! KU! DO! ME!

Top of the Third

Joe Saunders comes out to pitch for the AL. Fukudome up to bat. He almost hits a homer, it goes wide left. FOX is being cheeky, Fukudome’s name and stats appear in Japanese. Ball goes to Youkilis, Fukudome is out.

Soto flies out to Hamilton. No good.

Stop interviewing Yogi Berra, you’re not calling the game very well when you do that.

Hanley’s back up! Hanley gets a base hit with a ball to right field.

Chase is back up for his second round. He hits a bouncer to Youkilis and is out.

Holy cow, Berra is short. I saw a highlight of him in his prime as a catcher, he’s a short kid.

Bot 3

Oh man…Step Brothers looks so stupid. Why do people pay Will Ferrell to be such an idiot?

Carlos Zambrano comes out to pitch against Ichiro. Ichiro gets a base hit to right on the second pitch. This is his 8th All-Star game and he hit the first ever inside the park home run in an All-Star game last year.

Jeter hits into a 6-4-3 double play. Two outs.

You know, nice work on kicking drugs and making your life get in line again Josh Hamilton, but I’m getting tired of hearing the story so often. I think it’s just cause I’m keeping on top of baseball coverage, so I’ll be soft on this point for the rest of the night. Hamilton hits into an out.

Top of the 4th

Roy Halladay takes over pitching duty for the AL against Lance Berkman. Sheesh, another strikeout.

Pujols is up. He hits a long one into the corner, but the slowpoke gets greedy and Ichiro tosses him out at second with ease. Slow motion shows that Pujols was actually safe, but no big deal.

Chipper hits out to Jeter. That’s three.

Bottom of the Fourth

Zambrano is still in the game against A-Rod. He strikes out. Yay!

Carlos almost hits Ramirez in the head with a breaking ball that gets loose. I like their neat little breakdown of the strike zone batting averages. Ball goes to Utley, he manages to catch it this time and tosses him out at first.

Milton Bradley up to bat again. He’s safe as Hanley’s toss is high. Hanley ends up getting an error.

Youk is up. Whoops, Bradley gets thrown out at first.

Commercials

I’m excited for Pineapple Express It’s gonna be funny. I haven’t seen Judd Apatow fail yet.

Upper 5th

Josh Hamilton is now in left field, Grady Sizemore is in center, Ervin Santana is pitching.

Matt Holliday is up to bat. HELL YES! Matt Holliday homers. At this point I’d like to mention that Matt Holliday is the top home run hitter of my fake MLB Power Pros team. He even broke the MLB record with somewhere around 150 homers in fake MLB land. Nice work Matt!

Braun hits it to Pedroia.

A-Rod comes out of the game for Joe Crede at third. My man Fukudome comes up. He strikes out with an uncharacteristically undisciplined swing. Wow, that was ugly.

Useless stat: There are 41 players on the All-Star lineup whose salaries are more than what it cost to build Yankee Stadium back in the day ($2.5 million)

Geovany Soto strikes out. That’ll be the end of that half of the inning.

Bottom 5th

Dan Haren on the mound, Nate McLouth in Center, and Russell Martin at the plate

Youkilis up to bat.flies to Holliday.

This was the first game since 1990 that was scoreless into the 4th.

Joe Mauer comes up to bat. He hits one over Haren, who knocks the ball slow and kills the play. Mauer at first. Ian Kinsler comes in as a pinch runner.

Dustin Pedroia up to bat. He’s doing that stupid glove thing again. Kinsler steals because Martin’s throw is too high. They could have had it if it was lower, I think, contrary to the announcer’s comments. Pedroia walks with Ichiro coming up. Bad move Dan Haren

For someone who is 43 years old, Sarah Jessica Parker’s kind of a hottie when she’s not in her ridiculous Sex and the City getup. She gave some presentation with Sheryl Crow and another dude about cancer before the game.

Ichiro strikes out (whew), but now Jeter’s up (uh oh)

He’s showing some discipline in the count, racking it up to a full count with two outs. It’s go time now Dan. Jeter hits it back to Haren, he catches it this time, tosses him out on first.

Piniella commercial again, I love it.

Couldn’t find

Top of the 6th

Justin Morneau on first, Ian Kinsler on second, Pedroia out, J.D. Drew in right, Jason Varitek at the plate.

Justin Duchscherer is pitching. What a long name. He pitches a great pitch to Hanley who gets a base hit with a ball to Left field.

Utley up to bat with Hanley on first. Apparently there are twelve players in the game who have never played a game in Yankee Stadium. This is Chase Utley’s first. Hit and run play, Utley gets a base hit to Right, Hanley gets himself all the way to third base with the cleanup hitters of the NL coming in. This means trouble for the AL.

Berkman up to bat. He hits one all the way back to the warning track. Sac fly for Berkman as Ramirez runs in. 2-0. Gross…Hanley gives Chipper a high five. I guess they’re on the same team, but still.

Derek Jeter comes out for Michael Young of the Rangers. Pujols comes up to bat. He doesn’t swing at a beautiful first pitch, but that’s ok. Base hit into center up the middle. Utley to second, Pujols to first.

Laaaaarry is up to bat. Chipper may have the highest batting average in the Majors and play for the National League, but I can’t put my Braves hatred aside. I silently pray that he gets out. Chipper strikes out. I am happy.

Holliday back up to bat. Pop fly to Kinsler. End of inning.

Bottom of the 6th

“You either discover a star or you don’t. You arrogant punk”

Adrian Gonzalez now at first. Dan Uggla at second. Miguel Tejada at short. Aramis Ramirez at third. Corey Hart in right.

Hamilton gets a base hit. Holy cow, I remember this guy’s story now. Back after the Marlins world series win there was an article in Sports Illustrated about how the Tampa Bay Devil Rays picked Josh Hamilton over Josh Beckett. Back then he was so stoned and suspended from baseball that it looked like a really stupid idea. I’m actually now really happy about this guy’s story. Too bad Tampa lost him, he’s really producing now. Good work dude.

Crede up to bat. Pops out to Uggla. What defensive work =p

Sizemore up to bat. Hamilton steals. Martin throws a WILD ball to second that goes into center. Fourth stolen base for the AL. Grady racks up a full count. He strikes out on a ball to the corner. You gotta swing at those buddy.

Bradley up to bat. He’s caused lots of trouble, but he flies out to McLouth in Center.

7-Up

Carlos Quinten in Left, Joe Nathan pitching.

Ryan Braun steps up to the plate. Things are gonna get tougher for both teams now with closers coming in to pitch. Ryan Braun has a really terrible check swing and strikes out.

Nate McLouth up to bat taking over for Fukudome (boo!). Fly ball to Grady Sizemore in Center. Two out.

Up to bat is Russell Martin for his first at bat. Another fly ball to Sizemore. 7th inning stretch time.

Josh Groban comes out to sing “God Bless America.” Whatever happened to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”? This lanky kid has a deeper voice than one would expect. I guess the song is a classic, but I find “God Bless America” boring. What a voice Groban’s got on him though. Good stuff for a small guy.

Can’t wait to see Heath Ledger’s Joker soon. The Dark Knight should rock.

7-Down

Ryan Ludwick in Left. Edinson Volquez on the mound.

Justin Morneau at the plate. Hits one past Corey Hart in center to get a double.

Ian Kinsler up to bat. Grounder to Tejada. Morneau to third, Kinsler out at first.

Dioner Navarro of the Tampa Bay Rays comes up to bat for Jason Varitek. He stays at the plate for a while, racking up six pitches before striking up looking. Two outs.

J.D. Drew up to bat now. Damage control time Volquez, keep Morneau from scoring. Camera cuts to show former catcher Joe Girardi catching in the bullpen. That’s crazy to see a GM catching in the pen. J.D. Drew hits a homer to right. Tie game against the pitcher with the lowest ERA in the majors. Barely makes it over the fence too. Too bad the Yankees fans cheered this Red Sox home run.

Now up to bat, Michael Young. I’m starting to worry now. NL hasn’t won an All-Star game since 1996. I’d like to see this streak end. Young strikes out.

Top of the 8th

Dioner Navarro is catching now. Jonathan Papelbon is pitching. Greeted with boos. He supposedly said he should close the game, so the Yankees hate him.

Tejada up to bat. Single to Right field.

Dan Uggla up to bat. Strikes out on a terrible pitch.

Adrian Gonzalez up to bat. Tejada steals second and a bat throw gets him to third. Sac fly brings Tejada in. That could have been bad, but how awesome is that? NL has the lead.

David Wright up to bat for Pujols. He strikes out. Yankees fans boo Papelbon off the mound. I love it. If only there was another stadium full of people to boo Yankees fans tonight.

Bottom of the 8th

Roommate just made some cup noodles. He’s making me hungry for some cheap, salty noodles.

Carlos Quinten up to bat. Brian Wilson up to bat. NL leader in saves. He’s pitching poorly on his first two pitches. Fly ball to Nate McLouth in Center. One out.

Carlos Guillen pinch hits for Joe Crede. Francona out of bench players at this point. He’s supposedly the last substitution. What about Evan Longoria? Guillen gets up to a full count on seven pitches. He strikes out. That’s two.

Billy Wagner comes in for the last out in this inning. Sizemore up to bat. Longoria on deck. I saw Giuliani in the stands. Sizemore singles to right.

Evan Longoria up to bat for Milton Bradley. Was this wise? Bradley’s done one of the best offensive jobs in this game, but I guess they wanna give Evan a chance to hit. Sizemore steals second, this is bad…Martin doesn’t even throw. Longoria hits a double down the left field line. As much as I love the kid, I can’t help but be upset about the RBI ground rule double.

Morneau taps one to Wagner, Morneau out at first.

This is upsetting since Papelbon won’t get the loss and now the NL win is looking like it might be in dire straits, what with Mariano Rivera coming in to pitch.

I like the Cubs girls in that BoA commercial.

Top of the 9th!

Huh, I was wrong. K-Rod comes in. Francisco Rodriguez is pitching for the AL.

Aramis Ramirez up to bat. Aramis is taking some terrible swings. He takes it to a full count. The walk goes to Ramirez.

We watch Tejada’s stolen base again that brings the NL to three runs and then Sizemore’s run and Longoria’s hit.

Cristian Guzman pinch runs for Ramirez. Hart flies out to right.

Ryan Ludwick up to bat. K-Rod goes out of the game, Mariano Rivera comes in. They play “Enter Sandman.” Great music to come in on. Flashes all around the cheering stadium.

One on one out. Rivera has never missed a save opportunity this season…

Ludwick will have to do his best to get a hit. He’s having a disciplined at bat when he whiffs and brings the count up to 2-2. Cheers erupt from the crowd. You’d think he struck out. Full count. Strikes out. Guzman caught stealling at second by Navarro. End of the inning with a double play. Talk about dramatics. Wish it would have gone the other way.

Bottom of ze 9th

Is Bones any good? Saw a funny commercial tat makes me curious.

Ryan Dempster pitching to Ian Kinsler. He’s got a crazy pitch with wavy glove motions designed to confuse the batter, I guess. Francona’s kind of in trouble if this game continues, what with no position players left on his bench. Kinsler strikes out.

Dioner Navarro comes up to bat. That goofy glove motion is really strange to watch. I’m gonna have to see if they try to reproduce that in MLB Power Pros 2008. Dioner racks up a full count and then strikes out.

J.D. Drew comes up. Dempster will have to be careful. Full count again. Drew watches strike three. EXTRA INNINGS! Way to go Dempster! Three straight strike outs.

10p of the 10th

Nate McLouth up to bat. Rivera still pitching. How long can he hold out? Doesn’t really matter, since Francona has plenty of pitching left. He racks up a full count. Strikes out looking.

Russell Martin is up now. Interesting fact about Rivera, he only throws one non-fastball pitch, he just can move it in two directions. Martin is staying alive in this at bat with four foul balls and seven pitches before a base hit past Kinsler to Drew.

Miguel Tejada steps up to the plate. Let’s make something happen NL. Tejada gets a base hit down the middle past Young. I can see Rivera’s sad face as he sees the situation he’s in: runners on first and third.

Dan Uggla up to bat. Can he make a difference? Man I hope so. Marlins having a decent showing tonight, it would be sweet to see more. Uggla hits into a double play. Dammit…

Rivera gets lucky.

Bottom of the 10th

If Tejada had slid in, would we have seen a slower throw keep Uggla safe? Michael Young hits one to Uggla, it bounces out of his glove. Error.

Carlos Quentin up to bat. By the way, Aaron Cook is pitching. Ball smashes to Uggla under his glove. Runners at first and third. Error.

Uggla doesn’t get pulled from the game. He’s gotta feel terrible right now. I feel bad.

Cook intentionally walks Carlos Guillen. This is looking way dangerous.

Grady Sizemore up to bat. Outfield and infield playing in. No outs. Sizemore hits to Uggla. Dan catches it, tosses it home, gets the out.

Evan Longoria up to bat. Uh oh. Infield plays back for double play. Evan looks like this is the easiest thing he’s ever done. He’s laughing at the plate. Longoria to third. Guzman gets it, throws it home. Two outs. Come on NL, you can get out of this yet…

Now we see Morneau. My heart is beating rather quickly now. They keep showing Dan Uggla. Slow roller to Tejada who barely gets the toss off to first. What a save! Uggla is thanking the baseball gods right about now.

Let’s finish this up, please NL. I’ve got to go to work in the morning.

Top of the 11th

I’m pretty sure we won’t see Rivera when the 11th starts. We’ll probably see George Sherrill of the Orioles.

I’m wrong, Joakim Soria of the Royals is pitching instead. Adrian Gonzalez is up to bat. Base hit to Sizemore in center.

The announcers are talking about a potential Tie. I was pretty sure that baseball wasn’t gonna ever do that again.

David Wright steps up to bat. Whiffs his way to 0-2. Strikes out. Thanks dude.

We’re now up to Cristian Guzman with one out, man on first. He takes two quick strikes before popping out to Sizemore and getting the second out of the inning.

Corey Hart is now batting for the NL. Hart misses a pitch down the pipe. Misses another for a 2-2 count. Pops out to J.D. Drew in Right.

:sigh: Bottom of the 11t

Ian Kinsler lines to center for a base hit.

Dioner Navarro. Looks to bunt, but abandons on the next pitch. Martin FINALLY throws someone out as he catches Ian Kinsler. Replay shows it’s a miss. Navarro walks.

Drew gets a hit down the center. Runners on first and second.

Michael Young at bat. Ball up the middle, base hit. Navarro comes around third, but Nate McLouth throws him out from center. Great out.

Last out of the inning. Runners on second and third. Aaron Cook is having a crazy night. Announcer states that three of the last five NL outs have come at home plate. Quentin is up to bat. Ball to Guzman who makes the play at first. Three blessed outs.

Top of the Twelfth

OK NL, it’s 0026, make it happen tonight.

Ludwick at the plate against Soria. He walks to first base.

Nate McLouth puts a bunt down and MAKES IT TO FIRST SAFE. What a good call by the first base ump, that was really close. No outs, runners at first and second.

Russell Martin up now. Pushes a bunt to first, runners at second and third. One out.

The hot bat of Miguel Tejada is up, Soria intentionally walks him to load up the bases for the double play. This will put Dan Uggla up again. Oh man do I hope that the last double play was just setting up for this great game-winning hit. Uggla’s great at the walk-off in Florida, please let us take this now.

Dan steps up. Swinging strike one. My heart thumps yet again for this game. He watches a beautiful strike two. Uggla strikes out. Damn.

Francona comes out to swap in George Sherrill for the Adrian Gonzalez at bat.

Man…I was really hoping Dan Uggla would be able to redeem his errors. I didn’t want him to feel bad about this game. At least Hanley did a great job tonight.

Francona’s only got one pitcher left: Scott Kazmir. Gonzalez is up to bat. Two strikes right off the bat (ha ha). Strike three. We move on to the bottom of the twelfth.

Bot 12

“The Most Interesting Man in the World on Rollerblading:”

“No”

Carlos Guillen comes within two feet or so of being a game-ending home run. Guillen gets to second.

Sizemore’s dangerous bat comes up against Cook. Aaron does a questionable balk move. Ball goes to Uggla who can’t catch it, but knocks it down and sends it to first. Guillen is at third. Normally a great defensive player, I think Dan is just feeling the pressure of the game, but then again, every error on the NL team has come from the Marlins, one of the weakest defenses in baseball.

Now we see Longoria at the dish yet again. Martin makes another great defensive play on a foul ball. Longoria strikes out. What luck for Aaron Cook’s first strikeout.

Cook now faces Aaron Morneau. who is intentionally walked for Ian Kinsler.

A perplexing choice, but will they also walk Kinsler? Runners at first and third for Ian. Morneau steals second. Doesn’t get a stolen base due to indifference. Ball to Guzman, tossed out at first.

Wright, Guzman, and Hart coming up.

Top of the Unlucky 13th

David Wright picks up a stick against Sherrill. Base hit on a shattered bat pop fly into center that no one can reach.

Now we see Cristian Guzman at the plate. He signs bunt, but Guzman bunts too far to Sherrill who is able to take out Wright at second.

Corey Hart steps up. Whiffs and strikes out for the second out.

The lineup gets us back to Ryan Ludwick. Sherrill runs the count to 3-0 before he throws his first strike. Ludwick wisely doesn’t swing at it, but it’s a clean fastball down the pipe. Pops up to Kinsler. Time for the bottom.

We’re Still Going? Bottom of the 13th

Here’s hoping for a 14th, even though I need to go to sleep. New Yankee Stadium is gonna have the same dimensions, which I think is pretty cool. Hopefully the feeling doesn’t change much.

Carlos Marmol gets on the mound against Dioner Navarro. Ball goes to Uggla who tosses Dioner out at first.

J.D. Drew against Marmol now. He works to a full count. Bad hop ball to Uggla, Drew makes it to first. Jeez that looks bad. Error again for Dan. All four NL errors against Marlins, three against Dan. It’s a tough break for the guy, but we all know he’s good.

Dan has set the record for most errors by any one player in an All-Star game.

By the way, Michael Young has been up to bat and he’s at a full count. Young strikes out, Drew steals second on a bad toss to Uggla. Martin tosses out a few profanities.

Carlos Quinten at the plate. This guy is dangerous. He thankfully strikes out. 14th, here we come.

Time-Wise Longest All-Star Game’s Top of the 14th Inning

I’m afraid to say it, but I can’t stay up longer than 0200 tonight. I hope it doesn’t come to that.

Sherrill pitching against McLouth. Goes back to the track, almost fools us into believing it’s a home run. He’s out.

Russell Martin up again. Pretty soon some of these guys are gonna be approaching a real nine inning game. Rest-wise it’s way better to be a starter in the All-Star game, I guess. Martin knocks one almost to the warning track getting everyone’s hopes up again.

One of the better players on the NL team steps up with Miguel Tejada. The out comes with a hit to Young tossed back to first.

Bottom of the Gruelingly Long All-Star Game’s 14th Inning

I can’t hate Evan Longoria, but I can be annoyed that he’s made me stay up this late.

Brandon Webb takes the mound for the NL against Carlos Guillen. Tejada catches a nice line drive for the first out.

So many dangerous bats on the AL. Grady Sizemore comes up against Webb. Funny thing about saving starters for the end of the game is that I feel they lack a lot of the oomph that a closer brings to these games. Starters are about the stamina, not taking these hitters out with stellar stuff. Webb totally makes me look stupid by sinking a ridiculous pitch against Sizemore and scoring the strikeout.

Webb vs. Longoria. If anyone was gonna end this, I wouldn’t mind it being him. He strikes out on a pitch in the dirt.

15th Inning…Wow. The Top

Longest ever All-Star game goes to the 15th. Will this game beat it? After making home field advantage such a huge part of the game, will Selig end the game in a tie again if Kazmir pitches too many innings?

Uggla up again against Kazmir. I don’t think Dan has historically hit well against Kazmir. Stirke out again.

Adrian Gonzalez up to bat. Francona has gone through his pitching too fast. What will he do if Kazmir racks up a huge pitch count? Fly ball to Quinten.

David Wright! Can he do it? Walked.

Guzman. Grounder. Game continues.

Bottom of the (Yippee!) 15th

Still amused by the Piniella commercial.

Brad Lidge up to pitch against Morneau. I’m seeing the wear of the long game start to take its toll against the hitters who have been in the game a lot longer. Base hit into center.

Sportscasters tell me to expect Kinsler to bunt, but he swings away. Two strikes, his bunt chance is more or less eliminated. Ryan Ludwick makes an amazing diving catch to keep the game in check. One out.

What’s gonna happen now with Navarro at bat? Base hit into Center. Men on first and second.

Oh no. J.D. Drew up to bat. Lidge seems to be pitching outside of the zone. I’m not sure I can watch another inning, my eyelids are getting quite heavy. Wild pitch kept down by Brian McCann whose entrance into the game I completely missed. Lidge issues a walk. Bases loaded.

Michael Young up to bat. Pops up to right. Will this be a sac fly? WHAT! He was totally tagged out, but he’s called safe. The streak continues with an AL win.

The ASG MVP has been named to be J.D. Drew. I, quite frankly don’t buy it. Evan Longoria’s tying RBI was way more valuable than Drew’s 2-run home run. I guess he had a lot of things happen with him throughout the game, but I just don’t see it for him. Oh well, he gets a car.

Night guys, it was a wild night. On replay, the tag was late. It was a clear win. Nice work AL, I hate you guys. See you guys tomorrow.

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: State of the League – A Look at My Predictions and the Necessary Adjustments
Jul 16th, 2008 by Dan

You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ’em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

Way back on the 7th of May I published a blog post with my predictions on the way the MLB season would unfold (along with a recap of my mechanical bull and bowling experiences). How well did I do? Were the predictions spot on? Let’s take a look at the state of the league and compare it with what I thought.

AL East

Not even I could have predicted how amazingly awesome the Rays have been this season. A month in and I thought the major competition for the Rays would be the relatively unimportant Orioles. Little did I know their main competition would actually be the defending champs, the Boston Red Sox. Despite having dropped seven in a row coming into the All-Star break and losing their hold on first place, I’m fully confident that the Rays will continue to play dominant baseball all the way to the playoffs. If they don’t make it in the division due to the Red Sox, I see at least strong contention for a wild card berth.

The Red Sox are a very strong team and they will either place first or second in the AL East, based on whether or not the young Tampa team can manage to keep it together in the second half. The real wild card in the AL East is, surprisingly, the Yankees. At six games back, they’re certainly doing much worse than anticipated. For quite some time now they’ve been a second half team, so we’ll have to see what happens after the break. Can they remedy that large deficit and be competitive in the division?

Forget about the Orioles and Blue Jays. There is no way they can properly compete with three ridiculous powerhouses in the AL East.

Projected standings at the end of the year:

Rays (I really want them to win this year)
Red Sox
Yankees
Orioles
Blue Jays

AL Central

Here’s one where I was part right, but for the wrong reasons. The Twins, a team which I made almost no mention of, are especially close to first in the division, sitting only a game and a half back from the White Sox. The Tigers are further away than I thought too, sitting a whole seven games back. This division still will get more exciting and heat up, but not at all like I thought it would. The Royals and Indians are a pathetic twelve and thirteen games back, respectively, with almost no chance of actually winning. Even the Indians know that they’re a lost cause this year, after being World Series contenders last season, they’ve traded away C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers for prospects to cut their losses in the future.

The White Sox are the real story in the AL Central. They’re doing quite well and caused some to predict a Cubs vs. White Sox World Series. I’m not so sure, but they will continue to do well in their division.

Projected standings at the end of the year:

White Sox
Tigers
Twins
Royals
Indians

AL West

What a pathetically one-sided division. The Angels are a ridiculous six games up on the nearest team, the Athletics. The A’s must sense that their post-season chances have dwindled away to nothing, because they’ve just dealt away Rich Harden to the Chicago Cubs. Still, they have strong pitching and will hold on to second place in the AL West.

The Mariners are an absolute mess this season. They’ve been forced to fire management, release players, and are still TWENTY games back in the AL West. At this rate, they’ll be lucky to break a .400 win percentage. They are, without a doubt, this year’s biggest waste of money team.

Texas may have a chance to compete in the division, but it’ll take much better playing to catch up to the Angels. The release of Harden might propel them past the Athletics, but certainly not beyond Anaheim.

This is at least one division that I’ve gotten mostly right and I’m proud of that.

Projected standings at the end of the year:

Angels
Athletics
Rangers
Mariners

NL East

My favorite division, NL East, is actually shaping up to be as close and competitive as I thought it would be. After closing the gap to half a game, the Marlins fell to 1.5 games back and are now in third place behind the Mets (half a game back) and the Phillies (first place). Can it be any more tight at this point? I think not. Let’s get down to it then, after a celebratory self-pat-on-the-back about being right about two divisions so far.

I don’t think the Phils will be able to hold on for too much longer. After firing Willie Randolph as the GM, the Mets have catapulted back into a competitive position in the NL East. It may be to early to say it, but I think the Mets are back in contention in NL East this year. Can they stay above the marlins and the Phils? This I’m not so sure about.

The Marlins have gotten major pitching boosts with the return of Josh Johnson, the major league debut of Chris Volstad, and the eventual return of Anibal Sanchez after the break. As a team with remarkably weak pitching, despite its win-loss record, the Marlins are set to do much better in the second half so long as their amazing offense continues to produce runs at an AL team’s rate. Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez, Jeremy Hermida, Jorge Cantú and more have combined to give the Marlins a Major League leading 135 home runs this season. You can bet they’ll continue to do well in the second half. Many a sportscaster has lamented youth’s ability to do well in the post-season, but I say again and again, look at the 2003 Marlins World Series victory.

Oh yeah, the Braves and Nationals are also in the NL East. At sixteen games back, I think we can mostly rule out the Nationals. Despite having a strong April, they’ve continued to slip and slip this season. Miracles wouldn’t be enough to bring them a post-season berth. I can’t let my intense hatred of the Braves let me give them a fair shake either, I think they won’t really be able to make a dent in the crowded NL East.

Proposed standings at the end of the year:

Marlins
Mets
Phillies
Braves
Nationals

NL Central

Here’s another division where I didn’t do too terribly predicting. The Cubs and Cards certainly do sit at the top of the division, but the Cards are an alarming 4.5 games back with the Brewers half a game further behind at five.

I pretty much think the Cubs will be able to hold strong in this division. Their team is doing amazingly well against just about anyone in the majors, but will it be enough to end the curse? God, I hope not. I love seeing the Cubs lose every year and a World Series win would just ruin that.

The Cardinals have more or less reached their limit, so they won’t do much against the Cubs, but the Brewers could stand a chance now that they’ve added Sabathia to their starting rotation. We’ll see what happens between these three teams, but I’d more or less rule out the Pirates, Reds, and Astros. None of those three teams are closer than eleven games back on the Cubs and I don’t see them doing any better.

Proposed standings at the end of the year:

Cubs
Brewers
Cardinals
Reds
Pirates
Astros

NL West

We now come to the last division in baseball and one of my more incorrect predictions. The Diamondbacks are not, as I predicted, the best team in baseball. With a full ten wins less than both the Red Sox and the Cubs, they’re still managing to stand strong at the top of the NL West, but not with as much dominance as the earlier parts of the season. The undefeatable Brandon Webb was dealt his first loss by everyone’s favorite Marlins and hasn’t really pulled together many wins since then. That being said, they’re still a strong team, but they’ll have to work hard to stay ahead of the Dodgers who are currently one game back.

L.A. can definitely be strong this season, but I’m not sure they can knock out the Diamondbacks. Those are really the only two teams that can possibly compete in the West though, since the Rockies, Padres, and Giants will never be able to mount a proper offensive unless they have one of those amazing streaks that the Rockies had last year. I’m pretty sure the Diamondbacks will be the team to watch in this division.

Proposed standings at the end of the year:

Diamondbacks
Dodgers
Rockies
Giants
Padres

So that’s that, let’s see how my well predictions have done come October. I’m gonna hold off on World Series team predictions until, at the very earliest, the playoffs, since at this point it would just be a wild guess.

Now let’s see the All-Star game recap in the next post.

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: Whoa, What?
May 28th, 2008 by Dan

You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ’em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

I know I talk about how insane this is to begin with all the time, but how about those Tampa Bay Rays tied for the best record in the MLB with the Chicago Cubs. Who could have ever expected this last year? The Rays have been an under 0.500 team for their entire history. Maybe that name change wasn’t as stupid an idea as I initially thought it was…

Florida continues to hold on to first place mostly thanks to an amazing sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Another challenge is upon us as we take on the slumping Mets (they did just win one against us though), the NL East second place Phillies, and the dominant-at-home Braves before coming back home to take on the anemic Reds. Go Fish, stay strong.

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: Senior Week
May 21st, 2008 by Dan

You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ’em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

Yesterday saw two amazing athletic events up here at Cornell’s Senior week with a miniature golf tournament and two games of bowling.

Golf did not go so well for me, as I fell one stroke behind Yin and brought up the rear of seven golfers. The best part was that it all came down to the last hole, which I botched on the last shot to give Yin the win. The main event was $5 placed on Lee and James’ game, which Lee was in jeopardy of losing for about 3/4 of the match, but a few bad holes put him securely in first (of the two).

The surprise mostly came from Ben, who had a very disappointing outing in their last match (which neither Yin nor I were a part of) that he mostly blames on using a red ball and his inability to contrast the ball with the felt due to colorblindness. One neon yellow ball later, he dominated us all with a great golf score.

Bowling went a little better for me with my first over 100 game of the year (I’m not very good). This match was a lane vs. lane cumulative score competition. Yin and Duffy couldn’t manage to make it in for the first game, so we played with our abridged rosters and lost by about 40 pins. After getting warmed up, our completed roster came back for victory in the second game after naming ourselves Team Awesome and naming our neighbors, due to their bowling at the time of naming, Team Meltdown. In the end our awesomeness didn’t quite end up demolishing the competition, but we still won by about 10 pins and I bowled a 106, which is pathetic, but still over 100 and so I am proud.

In more serious sports news, the Marlins are still in first, but are facing their largest challenge in the year so far with a three game set against the Diamondbacks. So far they managed to put up a win against Micah Ownings, but tonight’s game is against the 9-0 powerhouse Brandon Webb. Those nine wins are not just a National League high, but a high in the entire majors. The next highest win count is a three-way tie between Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Red Sox, Joe Saunders of the Los Angeles Angels, and Edinson Volquez of the Cincinnati Reds, each with 7 wins this season. It’ll take a bit of a prayer and hopefully great bat-work by the Fish to hold on to the wins. Speaking of great hitting, it should be noted that as of today, there is at least one Florida Marlin in the top five of every one of the categories measured by baseball for league leading hitting. Keep it up Florida.

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