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The End is Nigh [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jul 21st, 2010 by Dan

Ian's Wedding and 4th of July 184

We’ve hit the point of the season where teams are starting to know whether or not they’re gonna make it. Teams like the Marlins, Nationals, and Mariners have to realize by now that the playoffs aren’t in their futures, but other teams, like the Rangers and Padres are realizing that they’re in this thing.

What this means:

– Texas has taken on Cliff Lee.

– The Padres will not trade Adrian Gonzalez.

– Washington can rest Strasburg without worrying too much

– Florida should think about dealing Cantu or Uggla

– Tampa Bay needs to think about creative ways to bolster their lineup because New York will supplement theirs with cold hard cash

I realistically expect the Rays to either take the AL East or get in via the Wild Card. Beyond that, I think the Braves and Yankees are locks for the postseason, but those are the only three whose futures I feel good about predicting.

I’ll need to do a mid-season report soon, so expect that next week-ish.

Slightly Political: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Apr 30th, 2010 by Dan

Jorge Cantu at Citizens Bank

New Arizona laws state that he might have to prove that he can legitimately be in the state at any time.

Here at IBNttT we do not support Orwellian laws designed to penalize native born or immigrant Latino populations. I don’t support boycotting the Diamondbacks over this, but I do support moving the All-Star game out of Arizona until this law is repealed.

29 April

NPB
Rakuten Eagles (0) at Softbank Hawks (4). Another series sweep, but the bad way. Rakuten is having an awful season (but not as bad as the Fighters!) and falls to 12-19-0 in fifth.

Yokohama BayStars (8) at Hiroshima Carp (0). Another series lost to a Yokohama team that has a lot more life than last year’s. Hiroshima takes another hit to 11-17-0, putting it in last place below the Swallows.

MLB
New York Yankees (4) at Baltimore Orioles (0). At least the Orioles didn’t get swept. The series went exactly as I predicted, dropping Baltimore to 4-18, a staggering 10.5 games back from first in April.

Kansas City Royals (1) at Tampa Bay Rays (11). The Rays are on a tear right now. Granted, beating up on the Royals is like beating up on the Orioles, everyone’s doing it thanks to a terrible bullpen. Tampa Bay’s record rises to 17-5, putting them 2.5 ahead of the Yankees in first.

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

No witty captions today, sorry.

9 April

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 April

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

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

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

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

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

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

11 April

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hit Batters, Win Streaks, and More [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jun 17th, 2009 by Dan

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

Like all sports, baseball has its unspoken rules regarding conduct and retaliation on the field. It all more or less boils down to: you do something stupid or mean, the pitcher on the other team is going to drill you with a pitch. Everyone knows this, but the key is that it’s supposed to remain unspoken. The few times this year that idiots have brought it up, they’ve been suspended or fined.

Now, it’s no laughing matter to get hit by a pitch. If the opposing team locates it wrong, you could be looking at a DL stint, like the accidental HBP that knocked Jorge Cantú out of the lineup earlier this year against the Mets, or you could even see death if it hits the batter in the helmet right. Only one player has ever died from this and it was way back in 1920 (Ray Chapman of the Indians, if you’re curious).

So why do I bring this up? This past Sunday, Hanley Ramirez was at bat against the Toronto Blue Jays in Canada for the start of the second set of interleague games. He was struck by a pitch, I think after having knocked in a run or two at his last at bat. Josh Johnson, who pitched a complete game for the Fish, did not hit any Blue Jays and the Marlins coasted to an 11-3 win.

The same day, in a press conference, Hanley was complaining about not getting protection, stating:

“Everybody knows it. I think Fredi knows it. J.J. knows it,” said Ramirez, who was drilled by an 88-mph fastball. “[Hayhurst] was throwing strikes. I don’t know why [he hit me]. You’ve got to ask him why.”
[…]
“You know, incredible,” Ramirez said in remarks made in Spanish, according to the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “There’s going to come a point where I’m not going to feel protected. I’m going to be scared to hit a home run because I know I’m going to get hit.”

Naturally, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez immediately shut down the press conference when he heard of the statements and he has supposedly taken care of the situation internally.

Win Streak SNAPPED

Colorado thought that maybe it had something going. Then it hit the wall.

After a surprising 11-game win streak, their hopes and dreams were smashed by my beloved Tampa Bay Rays today with the final score being Rays: 12, Rockies: 4. It’s a good thing for Tampa Bay, considering that they’re trying to climb the AL East, but that may prove difficult with Boston playing against the Marlins in Fenway (yesterday was NOT pretty for them) and the Yankees playing the Nationals at home. Still, if Philadelphia can string together some wins the next few games against Toronto, the Rays have a chance of securing third place and starting to close that three game gap between them and New York. If only the Nats could put together a win against the Yanks…

Misc

Peavy is on the DL. Too bad San Diego didn’t trade him yet. That’s looking like a huge waste of money now…

The Rays have a few guys returning to their lineup. Bartlett was back last night and Burrell will be back soon (who cares about him though?).

Zobrist (AKA the Zorilla) is still smashing his way around the majors. He’s been a major contributor to the Rays leading baseball in runs scored.

Not really news, but I’ll be at the game tonight, Mets at Orioles, to get my Adam Jones Bobblehead. Pictures will be available if I get one and if the game isn’t rained out. Please help us out rain gods, I don’t want to miss the game!

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.

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