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Wednesday Morning Quarterback: To the Playoffs!, Strong Offense, Weak Pitching
Apr 23rd, 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.

Intramural Softball

Walt’s Winners has taken the Cornell intramural co-ed softball 03:00PM league by storm with a stunning 2-0 W-L record and is now eligible for the playoffs. Our 7-3 victory (maybe 7-4, I don’t remember) over Dangerous Minorities tied us for first place with The Eliminators and Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica all with perfect 2-0 records.

This time the pitching was split between James and Isaac with the three earned runs coming in with James, but mostly a result of sloppy fielding by Isaac (hence the substitution). Kristen continued her pattern of showing up for games in altered states, this time showing up after having taken a tequila shot with some beer to chase it down. Even with all that, she still had a really solid game, knocking in a few runs again. James was the bit slugger this game as he cleared his slump with a 3-run homer that reminded us why he was one of the better baseball players in the state of Colorado back in high school. I filled Lee Stein’s place in center, but found no action there, since it seems that wherever I stand on the field will never see any balls hit in that direction. Unfortunately, I’m one of the better gloves (in my opinion) in the outfield and when we put James out there too, no balls went his way either, so the plays were fielded by Prethy (I don’t know how to spell her name) who wasn’t out playing Ultimate Frisbee this weekend, so played right field.

Yet another highlight was some taunting of the other team. In my heightened state of excitement, I yelled “Drop it!” and was called a jerk by my own team after the catcher did drop the softball. Then, on the next play, I heard my teammates muttering “Drop it!” at another fly, which I called them out on. Later on in the game, the pitcher threw a close one at the batter, to which I was like “Whoa, things are getting a little heated on the mound!” The rest of our team began chanting “Fruuuuustrated” like good Cornell fans. It was cool. The coup de grace was after a base hit to right field when a runner was being told to head home by the base coach and Kristen had the ball at first. When he didn’t seem to back off, Kristen yelled “Go ahead and run, I dare you!” which was also way awesome. She apologized after the game, but that didn’t stop the pitcher from being sullen and not wanting to give us “Good game” handshakes after the game.

Pope = Wins?

I should address quickly that the Nationals have yet to play in their new stadium since the Pope was there, but they’ll be really putting this potential blessing to the test as they go up against the NY Mets tonight. I wish you luck, especially since the Marlins are only 1.5 games ahead of the Mets. The Fish actually lost first place for a night or two to the Mets, but regained it with strong games against Pittsburgh and Washington. Which brings me to the topic of the week: Have the Marlins been doing so well because they’ve been playing weak teams?

Strong Offense, Weak Pitching

Many view the 2008 Marlins as a fluke. Certainly no one expected them to even come close to first place, much less hold it for majority of the first month of play. Skeptics cite pitching weakness, which is definitely true, but the Marlins have an insanely well performing offense. In the National League alone, the Marlins are second in Slugging Percentage (0.477), second in Home Runs (30), fourth in Triples (5), and second in Doubles (46) (This is out of the 16 teams in the National League). If you believe that this performance is due to mainly playing losing teams, then, fine, the numbers aren’t that impressive, but in baseball you have to take account of the intangibles. Hanley Ramirez had a relatively slow start out of the gate, but now he’s back to the top performances we’re all used to thanks to those games allowing the Fish to get into the groove of things.

Take a look at the opening series against the Mets this year. Two losses for a losing series. Look next at games against another hard team, the Braves, which took place once the Marlins hit first place. This time we have two wins for a winning series. The Marlins are 3-3 against capable NL East opponents (yeah, I said it…the Nationals do not count as capable) and they’ll be putting that to the test tonight in Atlanta against the Braves for a two-game series.

Do I think they’ll be able to hold on to first place? It’s tricky. The Marlins have no pitching. There are basically only two starters who can be counted on to win, Mark Hendrickson and Scott Olsen, and the rest of the team relies on run support from the amazing offense to get wins, when they can. I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me complain about Andrew Miller, but he’s starting against Atlanta tonight and I can only pray that he manages to put a W up, what with his 9.68 ERA. I mean, only two of our five starting pitchers have an ERA below 4.00. I can only hope that allowing the young pitchers to cur their teeth on Washington and Pittsburgh will help them dominate the Mets, Braves, and Phillies. All three of those teams will make the Marlins pay if they don’t start to get their pitching in order.

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: Softball, Marlins (Again), Surprising Standings
Apr 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.

Intramural Softball

I thought it was spring. This past Sunday in Ithaca we had some snow (apparently) or some other kind of precipitation and the temperature sat in the 30s for most of the day. As a result, softball was canceled. Oh well…at least weekend forecasts don’t show 58 and rain after a stretch of 70 degree days on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday…Oh wait, it does. Stupid Ithaca.

Everyone’s Doing the Fish

Just a quickie for this week’s sports (ie: Florida Marlins): the Marlins continue to have really crummy pitching being saved by aggressive hitting. Andrew MIller still isn’t quite there (IMHO) and Burke Badenhop had an apparently promising start that still resulted in a loss. At least the Marlins shut out the Braves thanks to some great Scott Olsen pitching (one of the more veteran pitchers). This brings a great smile to my face since I truly loathe the Atlanta Braves. Also, Mike Jacobs is consistently bringing the heat to the plate and is in the top five for home runs so far this year. Keep it up Mike.

Where do you stand?

MLB standings are in a crazy state right now. I’ll start with the best news: As of right now, the Marlins (8-5) are sitting pretty at numero uno for the NL East with the Phillies 1.5 games back. Everyone writes off the Marlins every year. We’ll see if the youth on the team has the maturity to consistently compete against the Braves (1-0 this year), Mets (1-2), and Phillies (0-0). So far they’ve proven they can more than handle the rest of NL East (they are 3-0 against the Nats), but the rest of the NL East is no walk in the park, they’ve all got tremendous talent and they’ve all got way more experience.

Now for other strange happenings: St. Louis (10-4) is atop the NL Central, despite being flagged for a losing season due to a cheap payroll. The Nats (4-10) plummeted to the bottom of the NL East after a tremendous win streak that many hoped would mean the end of crappy Washington baseball. I can feel the collective sobbing of D.C., but I can’t help but smile after the Marlins swept them last week. Until last night the Baltimore Orioles (8-6) were sitting atop the AL East standings, perplexing many. Last night’s loss still has them only 0.5 games back from the Bo Sox, so they’re still doing way better than expected this season. My last, favorite story of the year are the seriously troubled Detroit Tigers (4-10). They’ve managed a few wins since we last saw them (most recently against the Twins last night), but they’re a huge (at this point of the season) 4.5 games behind and it’s gonna take some great playing to even begin to approach Chicago (8-5) and the strangely high ranked Kansas City Royals (8-6).

Now what you’d expect: The Arizona Diamondbacks (10-4) are kicking just as much ass as everyone thought they would as they hold a 1.5 game lead over the closest NL West competition. Despite some early sparks of brilliance, the Tampa Bay Rays (6-8, and man do I hate the name change from Devil Rays) have fallen to precisely where everyone in baseball expects them to sit: in last place in the AL East, 2.5 games back. Pull it together Tampa. I may hate the AL, but I do like it when Florida teams do well. Let’s get a Marlins-Rays World Series this year, seriously guys!

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: Marlins, Red Sox, Tigers, and Intramural Softball
Apr 9th, 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.

So the Marlins are off to a decent start this season, leading the NL East at the moment with 4 wins, 3 losses. They suffered two brutal losses to the Mets, but came back and slapped the Pirates around for two games. The Pirates fought back the third game with a large victory, but the Marlins have hit the road strong with a 10-7 victory over the Washington Nationals. Check the videos on the game recap to watch Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez, and Robert Andino’s 2nd home runs of the season, bringing the Marlins to 5 players with 2 home runs each.

This probably won’t be the Marlins’ season though for one great big reason: pitching. The Marlins just don’t have the men on the mound to keep the opposing offenses in check. With VandenHurk sent back down to the minors and Anibal Sanchez getting oh so close to healthy again, we should hopefully see decent arms on the mound very soon. The majority of the starters are very green though, so I expect needing a season or two to really hit their stride. If Jack McKeon is actually right and Andrew Miller is the next Beckett, he’d better start shaping up. He has yet to go more than 5 innings in a ball game. He hasn’t been dropped to the AAs like Vandenhurk though, so the Marlins must see something budding in Miller.

The Boston Red Sox were looking a bit bad after losing three straight to the Toronto Blue Jays, of all teams. What could they possibly do to bolster their confidence? Play their home season opener against the still winless Detroit Tigers. We’re all actually quite surprised that a team with as tremendous an offense as Detroit does have can still be 0-7. Most cite poor pitching and I’m inclined to agree. Even when the Tigers aren’t getting shut out 5-0 (!) by the reigning World Series Champs in Boston, they still can’t hold back any offense. When the Kansas City Royals are kicking your butt rather soundly, I think that you need to go back to the drawing board and come up with something. Anyway, as much as I love watching Detroit sit at the bottom of the standings, I do rather love Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera, two former Marlins who ended up on this squad, and my hatred for the Bo Sox wants them to snap out of it and bring the hurt to Boston.

In more local news, our coed intramural softball team, Walt’s Winners, managed to dominate the law school grad student team 11-4. This was completed even with two of female players (that’s half of them) HUNGOVER. Still, Lee was a monster out in CF, catching everything that came his way, Kristen was ruthless on the bags, advancing bases every chance she got and picking up something like four or five RBIs, and the other team just couldn’t mount an appropriate defense. Even I did pretty well, batting in at least one that I remember, but probably more. The standings (select Softball->Leagues->Co Rec->Sun 03:00PM) have yet to be updated, but with our team as strong as it is this year (especially compared to last year’s disaster) we’re looking to be very competitive this season.

This has been Wednesday Morning Quarterback. And now, back to Bob with the weather.

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