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Postseason Progress [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Oct 21st, 2009 by Dan

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

Things aren’t looking good for the Dodgers. Their supposed strong point, their bullpen, is being totally trashed by the brutal Phillies offense. In fact, their starting pitching, Kuroda excluded, has been their most dominant factor and the only thing that’s been keeping them afloat most of these games. Still, you can only blow so many leads before I stop believing that your team can actually put wins on the board. In fact, the Dodgers are nice and down three games to one with little hope of winning tonight to actually make this a series. Padilla will be pitching against Cole Hamels and, since Vicente is responsible for the only Dodgers win, this is really their last chance.

In American League news, the Yankees are totally annihilating the Angels. The games have all been close, sure, but the relentless Yankees lineup just won’t cut the Angels any slack. It’s tough to play a team when you know that no matter what kind of lead you put up, no matter what inning it is, there’s always a chance for them to come back with the win. Yankees relief has been top notch while the Angels have all but given away the games that they’ve lost.

The big story of the playoffs this year has to be the rampant bad umpiring. Whether it’s the abysmal foul ball call on Mauer’s hit in the ALDS or the constant close plays that are being repeatedly missed. I have yet to see a game go by without some complaint by the announcers about the calling and a call for automated umpiring. While some of these calls are absolutely ridiculous, what would they do to fix them? Put sensors in the ball and along all the lines? It doesn’t seem like the right answer. I like the human element of baseball umpiring, but there’s also no glory or joy in seeing your team win or lose based on an incorrect call. Perhaps the proper thing to do, for now, would be to train these umpires better, because they’re doing a terrible job this year.

Besides, Bud Selig has made all the changes he needs/wants to make. Nothing more will happen along these lines until we have a new commissioner.

In other postseason baseball news, the NPB is ready to begin its semifinal round, the Climax Series. The best of three series between the Swallows and Dragons and the series between the Eagles and Hawks have resolved in precisely the way I’d want them to. Despite my hatred for DH baseball, I found myself quite fond of the Golden Eagles after seeing them play out in Japan. Darvish is still my favorite Pacific League player, but the Eagles have got to be my favorite team. They completely spanked the Hawks 11-4 in the first game and dispatched them with similar ease with great games from their starting pitching. Tanaka, Iwakumi, and the Eagles will go on to face the Fighters, sans Darvish, who is currently out with a back injury.

While my beloved Carp may not have made the playoffs, I’ve still got my second favorite Dragons to root for and they had an exciting series against the Swallows after losing the first and coming back with two wins to make it to the Climax against the Giants. Can they manage to beat the behemoths of the Central League? I certainly hope so.

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.

Almost Time… [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Apr 1st, 2009 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.

We’ve finally arrived at the last WMQ before the baseball season. Congrats are in order for us all, but I honestly don’t know how we made it so long without our beloved baseball. Here are a few quick notes about things that have been going on:

Everyone’s hurt! From Cole Hamels to Alex Rodriguez, there are tons of stars hurting who might not be ready for Opening Day starts. It’ll be a chance for some younger players to showcase their talent, but, if I were them, I wouldn’t get my hopes up too much, it’ll only be for a month or so this year, then it’s back to the bench or the minors.

Speaking of the minors, David Price has been sent back down. Many call it a travesty, asking “How awesome do you have to be to stay in the show?” but I have faith in the Rays skipper. Joe Maddon is no fool and if he thinks that Price can do with some time in the minors before he comes up, then I think it’s probably not that bad an idea. Look at Evan Longoria, American League Rookie of the Year for 2008. He started last season in the minors in April and then he came up and spanked the AL.

The Marlins are batting former leadoff man Hanley Ramirez at third again this season, an expirement that mostly failed last year. I imagine that the Fish realize that they’ve just gotta make it happen at some point. He’s just got too much power behind his bat to hold him in the one hole.

The Cubbies have selected their closer and it’s NOT Carlos Marmol. A rough spring in both the WBC and Spring Training caused Lou Piniella to select former Marlins closer Kevin Gregg instead. Marmol’s disappointed, but, as I’ve heard from multiple sources, the outs by the set-up man are just as important. There’s no reason to think that his club is spurning him an important job, he’s still gotta make vital outs.

The season starts on Sunday, with the Phillies against the Braves. Get ready for a wild one! I’m gonna hold off predictions perhaps until next week, but possibly until the end of the month. We’ll see what happens with my schedule. Ah, baseball, I can almost taste you…

Grand Slam: World Series Game 1
Oct 23rd, 2008 by Dan

We’ve reached the home stretch for the baseball season, so those of you who get bored of reading about baseball should only have a few more days left.

Game 1 did not go quite as well as I’d hoped, with the Rays losing to the Phillies 2-3 in a game that was well-pitched by both sides, just a little better by Hamels. Kazmir’s loss was sealed more or less early in the game after an Utley 2-run blast in the first and a Carlos Ruiz infield RBI that brought in Shane Victorino. He didn’t allow anything else, but the damage was done.

Which brings me to my next point: Kazmir in the post season is not as great as he is in the regular season. He’s given up too many homers and the Rays can’t necessarily deal with this against the Phillies. We’ll see what happens tonight!

Unrelated Note: I’m so pumped for the KOTOR MMO!!!

Grand Slam: Game 1 (and 0) Results
Oct 2nd, 2008 by Dan

I know I promised you some simulated game results to go along with my post-game analysis, but as I booted up MLB Power Pros 2008 and started to rearrange the final team rosters, it quickly became apparent to me that I would be much better served just waiting until we had World Series teams so I’d only have to do two (for those of you playing at home, I only managed to set up the Red Sox before I gave up).

So how did the teams do? How well are my predictions faring so far?

The first game of the playoffs yesterday was the match between the Phillies and the Brewers. It turned out about how I expected it to since the Phils had their stud, Cole Hamels, out against a relative no-name in Yovani Gallardo. The only unexpected result was that Brad Lidge, the man who has never blown a save this season, almost managed to blow the Game 1 save. Philadelphia comes out lucky with a 3-1 win and gets to go face C.C. Sabathia with a one-game buffer just in case he trounces them.

Our next match was the Cubs vs. Dodgers yesterday evening. The stakes couldn’t be higher for the Cubs as they look to erase their 100 year curse, but tonight was definitely not the night for that. Ryan Dempster, with his ridiculous glove fanning movements, came close to walking almost every player on the Dodgers lineups with seven walks. It was a very specific set that ended it for Chicago though, as James Loney hit a grand slam off of Dempster to erase the 2-0 lead the Cubs used to have. Final score: 7-2.

Finally we have the Red Sox/Angels match-up. The fated best team in baseball bent on revenge against an injury-riddled team looking to extend a dynasty. It looked to be a fine game for LA until the sixth inning when Jason Bay, Manny’s replacement, knocked in a two run blast that changed the score to 2-1. John Lester would come out in the bottom of the 6th to whiff all three Angels batters and put a nice little bang at the end of the sixth. Red Sox would put in a few more to win it 4-1.

What’s to come tonight?

Sabathia pitches against the Phils! Can the Phils avoid a loss against the most dominant pitcher in the NL?

Dice-K takes on the Angels. He’s undefeated on the road. Those Halos better watch out.

Zambrano steps up to try and get the Cubs back in it. He’s the ace, he’s got the pressure of 100 years weighing him down. Can he do it?

Tampa Bay finally goes out tonight to show the White Sox who is the boss. Will the Rays start posting their first postseason victories or will the pressure be so much they get knocked out?

Tune in tomorrow for more (there will also be a Game Overview post, so be sure to read that too!)

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