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The 2009 MLB All-Star Game [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jul 14th, 2009 by Dan

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

It’s that time of year again, the MLB All-Star game is upon us! Last night was the Home Run Derby and, despite being in his team’s stadium, Albert Pujols did not quite manage to make it to the third round. Instead the final competition was between Prince Fielder, of the Milwaukee Brewers, and Nelson Cruz, of the Texas Rangers. In the end, Fielder took it and even bashed in a homer over 500 feet.

So begins the liveblogging event of the year! I’ll be making updates through the evening and night.

Time: 1929

I’m really loving the MLB Network coverage of the All-Star game. The network is in its first year and it shows in their broadcast. There are some boom microphone errors and sound issues at times, even a video error or two, but they are enthusiastic about their presentation and having so much fun that it’s just too fun to watch. I hope that the channel sticks around for the long run.

1938

There have already been some great commercials. Pepsi has one of those “Forever Young” commercials with baseball that I’m a fan of and State Farm has a great commercial featuring MLB gear. My favorite part there is when the Cubs baby is being friendly with the Cardinals baby and the parent of the Cardinals baby turns their kid away.

Get the Braves dog! Chase him away!

2001

A lot is being made of St. Louis being the greatest baseball city because the fans are so knowledgeable. I think this is great, but St. Louis felt so abandoned the last time I was there. They have such a rich NL history, between their World Series wins, the legacy of Branch Rickey, Bob Gibson, and, more recently, Albert Pujols.

I hope the game starts soon so I don’t have to keep waxing poetic. Obama’s gonna throw the opening pitch!

They’re showing footage of Obama in the locker room. So cool. He’s just shooting the breeze with these players and some are pretty awestruck. The expression on Ichiro’s face as he has Obama autograph a baseball for him is great.

2008

Introducing the teams now (minus the starting 9 for both teams).

The AL

Trey Hillman
Don Wakamatsu

Adam Jones
Josh Beckett
Kevin Youkilis
Tim Wakefield
Jonathan Papelbon
Mark Buerhle
Victor Martinez
Brandon Inge
Curtis Granderson
Justin Verlander
Edwin Jackson
Zack Greinke
Chone Figgins
Brian Fuentes
Justin Morneau
Joe Nathan
Mariano Rivera
Andrew Bailey
Felix Hernandez
Evan Longoria
Jason Bartlett
Carl Crawford
Ben Zobrist
Carlos Peña
Nelson Cruz

NL

Joe Torre
Tony La Russa

Justin Upton
Dan Haren
Ted Lily (boos? I thought these guys were nice)
Francisco Cordero
Brad Hawpe
Jason Marquis
Josh Johnson
Hunter Pence
Miguel Tejada
Orlando Hudson
Jonathan Broxton
Chad Billingsley
Prince Fielder
Trevor Hoffman
Johan Santana
Francisco Rodriguez
Ryan Howard
Jayson Werth
Freddy Sanchez
Zack Duke
Ryan Franklin
Heath Bell
Adrian Gonzalez
Matt Cain
Ryan Zimmerman

AL Manager and starting lineup:

Joe Maddon (Manager, Rays)

1. Ichiro Suzuki (RF, Mariners)
2. Derek Jeter (SS, Yankees)
3. Joe Mauer (C, Twins)
4. Mark Teixiera (1B, Yankees)
5. Jason Bay (LF, Red Sox)
6. Josh Hamilton (CF, Rangers)
7. Michael Young (3B, Rangers) – should have been Longoria =*[
8. Aaron Hill (2B, Blue Jays)
9. Roy Halladay (P, Blue Jays)

NL Manager and starting lineup:

Charlie Manuel (Manager, Phillies)

1. Hanley Ramirez (SS, Marlins) – GO HANLEY!
2. Chase Utley (2B, Phillies)
3. Albert Pujols (1B, Cardinals) – huge cheers, gigantic Pujols smiles, hat comes off like a curtain call
4. Ryan Braun (RF, Brewers)
5. Raul Ibañez (LF, Phillies)
6. David Wright (3B, Mets)
7. Shane Victorino (CF, Phillies)
8. Yadier Molina (C, Cardinals) – big applause
9.Tim Lincecum (P, Giants) – I love this guy!

They went and mowed the arch and a famous St. Louis building into the lawn. It looks very nice.

2021

5 presidents giving a speech.

Obama, Bush, Bush, Carter, and Clinton.

These speeches are pretty standard political and feel good stuff. Not too bad, nothing too special.

2031

Sheryl Crow sings the anthem. She’s from Missouri. She does a good job! There’s a flyover, as you’d expect.

Stan Musial and Obama are due out next. Pujols is due to catch the first pitch.

Thanks for spoiling the end of the House season FOX. Why are you advertising for September in July?

2037

Stan the Man comes in from RF on a cart carrying the baseball for the first pitch.

88-years-old. Man, we’re lucky this guy is still alive.

It looks like the players are all wearing their team’s actual uniforms. I like that. It shows where they’re from compared to just a league shirt.

Obama comes onto the field in a White Sox jacket to mixed reaction. There are definitely boos mixed in there.

Doesn’t matter, he throws a great strike to the plate, maybe a little low. After the pitch the cheers FAR outweigh the boos.

2044

Some of you readers don’t ever watch commercials anymore, but I, strangely, kind of like them. I inexplicably love the rollover minute AT&T commercials.

Top of the 1st – 2047

The NL takes the field! Lincecum’s last outing in Busch Stadium was a shutout. Wow, Lincecum only weighs like 167 lbs.

Busch Stadium has some cool little Cardinal friezes on the trim. Obama likes Maddon’s glasses. He asked Wakefield how to throw a knuckleball and, when asked if he had a good curveball, he said “If I did, I wouldn’t have run for president.”

Ichiro almost hit a homer his first time up. Wow. Went foul. Lincecum has such a great rhythmic windup and delivery. It’s so cool to watch.

Broken bat single. What else would you expect from the great Ichiro?

Ouch. Lincecum just nailed Jeter on the bottom of his fist. That was a loud collision. He wasn’t very happy. Worse off, two on, no outs for the AL.

Joe Mauer grounds to third and they almost get a double play, but Pujols’ foot comes off the bag.

Teixiera hits to Pujols and he botches the catch. AL up 1-0

Bay hits one out to CF and Victorino holds Mauer at third.

Hamilton gets one to Pujols who throws Bay out at second, but they can’t make the DP. AL 2-0.

Young hits it to Wright who gets the third out.

2102 Bot 1st

Hanley’s leading off against Halladay, lucky for the NL. Ramirez and the Marlins have done quite well against the Blue Jays this year. He hits it hard to 2B, but Hill is right there. One out.

Utley up to bat. Grounds to first. A quick one-two, but Pujols approaches. Can he turn this around?

The park is on its feet with a standing ‘O’. He’s got a lot of ground to make up by making that error. Pujols is such a patient hitter. I love that about him. Ball goes right to third and Michael Young finishes off retiring the side.

AL: 2 NL: 0

Top 2nd

Aaron Hill grounds to Hanley and he makes a great catch and out.

Halladay up to bat no. Should be an easy out, so work him hard Tim. Seems that Halladay didn’t even pack a helmet for the at bat. They put a sticker in front of Longoria’s Rays helmet so that he could have a helmet. What a moron. Of course you’re gonna hit Roy. It’s a game in an NL park. Timmy strikes Hallady out looking, but it was a solid at bat.

Ichiro is back up to bat. His at-bat motion is so iconic as e holds the bat out in front of him while the pitcher sets. Ichiro lines right out to Braun. Apparently Obama told Ichiro, after handing back the ball, “Here you go hall of famer.” That will be true, I’m sure of it.

2117 Bot 2nd

Braun steps up to the plate. Obama is now in the broadcast booth. Holy cow. “This is as much fun as I’ve had in quite some time.” Obama’s in a White Sox jacket. He says his wife thinks he looks cute in it. Braun takes it up to CF and Hamilton snags it.

Ibañez now up to bat. Shane hits one to Hill and it’s yet another out for the NL.

David Wright comes out to hit. Obama is reluctant to predict who will win the Series without more information. Wow, he just commented on how terrible the Nationals are. Wright gets a broken bat single to short right. NL finally gets a man on.

Wow, Victorino smacks one into right. Two on, two out. Victorino apparently gave Obama Macademia nuts at the white house.

Molina’s up to bat. Obama is agreeing that the AL has been better of late. Molina takes a base hit up to center. Wright runs it in, the throw to third is wild and Victorino is able to run into home from third on the botched throw. Way to go Molina. They’ve tied it up 2-2 and Molina gets some RBIs. Turns out the ball bounced off of Victorino’s shoulder. Halladay was covering home instead of third.

The NL pinch hits for Lincecum with Prince Fielder. Fielder bashes one into the LF corner and it bounces into the stands. Molina scores on the ground rule double and Fielder stays on second.
3-1 NL. Buerhle is warming up.

The Marlins send Hanley up to plate again. They’re joking that once Buerhle is done, Obama will leave. Hanley hits it back to Hill and gets tossed out at first.

Obama’s headed home. Good times. That was so great to see him just talking baseball like a regular guy.

Top 3rd

Ryan Franklin goes out to pitch for the NL squad against Jeter. Hits a comebacker to Utley and gets tossed out at first.

The catcher, Mauer, steps back up to the plate. I’ve gotta say, I kind of wish Lincecum could have stayed in the game longer. Joe lines out to Pujols who makes a great catch.

Interview with Halladay about what it was like, but the microphone went out. Sad. Teixiera comes right back up to the plate. Franklin almost strikes Teix out, but he barely gets a piece and stays up to bat. Strong grounder to Pujols and he gets the out.

The Taco Bell “If You Like Piña Coladas” commercial is hilarious. I guess I just like Taco Bell Frutista Freeze commercials playing during all-star games. I love the boss with the exploding fist bump.

2135 Bot 3rd

Buehrle is on the mound now and Utley flies out to Hamilton.

Big Al comes back up to bat. He’s got two guaranteed at bats. Maybe third. Teixiera has good positioning to catch the Pujols grounder so Pujols grounds out.

Milwaukee’s basher Braun comes up to bat. Little grounder to Jeter and the NL is back out on the field. The score remains

NL 3 – AL 2

2141 Top 4th

The NL has swapped pitchers to Dan Haren. Apparently he was in the Cards system before he was traded and they regret that. Jason Bay hits one out to Ryan Braun for the first out.

I don’t really think that Josh Hamilton deserves to be in the game today, but he’s on thanks to the way he hit in last year’s Home Run Derby. Hard hit pop fly that’s shy of the warning track. Victorino catches for the second out.

Young angers me because he’s in for Longoria, even though Longoria can’t play. He hits a single and it upsets me.

Haren has such a strange delivery when he doesn’t have anyone on the bag with that hesitation pause. Aaron Hill at bat and Molina contains a wild pitch to hold Hamilton at first. Grounder to Ramirez and it’s half-inning over.

Bob Dylan and will.i.am are not on the same level, sorry Pepsi.

Bot 4th

Ibañez pops out to third and Greinke’s on the mound.

That brings NY Met David Wright up to the plate with one out. Greinke has been fantastic this season and he proves it with a slider that just barely got called a strike on Wright who goes down looking.

Greinke’s a monster on the mound tonight. He gets Victorino to strike out swinging.

I’m pretty excited to see Funny People. Judd Apatow’s a comedic genius, but I wonder how his more serious offering here will do.

2155 Top 5th

Ryan Zimmerman takes over at third for the NL. Brad Hawpe takes RF for Braun. Crawford is up to bat for Greinke, I believe. He’s a speedy fellow. Takes a good pitch into CF and finds himself on first against Billingsley. Will Crawford try to steal?

The left-handed Ichiro will make a throw harder for Molina, but Mo is top notch. All Billingsley has to do is get it to the plate quickly to hold Crawford. Ichiro is also pretty fast, this is a bad situation. Crawford goes, hit-and-run, and Ichiro fouls it back, phew. Crawford’s got such great acceleration. Billingsley tries to catch Crawford sleeping at first, but fails. Utley makes a daring toss to 2nd to get Crawford out and his high toss is well handled by Hanley to get Carl out. The announcers don’t seem to be giving Hanley Ramirez his due. He really stretched to grab that.

Ichiro Suzuki on first. He’s also fast. Jeter at the bat. Quickly works an 0-2 count on Jeter. Billingsley is trying to keep the runners honest with plenty of tosses to first. The ball goes ripping at Pujols and he’s able to keep Ichiro off second, but Jeter’s too fast for the DP.

The hitless Joe Mauer comes up to bat. It’s been a good game so far. I’m loving the close score. Chad Billingsley falls behind Joe 2-0. Saw Jason Bay on the sidelines and, let me tell you, it sure is nice to not have Pedroia in the game with that stupid batting glove nonsense that he subjects everyone to each pitch. Braun kind of jobs to retrieve Mauer’s ball to LF and that allows Jeter to get into home from first base. I suppose it’s not really Ryan’s fault, Mauer’s a left-handed hitter and Ryan was positioned with that in mind.

Baltimore-native Mark Teixiera on base with Joe Mauer on second. Pujols makes yet another fantastic dive to throw out Teixiera for the third out.

NL 3 – AL 3

2209 Bot 5th

Carl Crawford remains in the game and Adam Jones pops in while Edwin Jackson comes up to pitch. Yadier Molina grounds out to Jeter.

Jackson’s success in Detroit is bittersweet for me. He’s doing so well out there that I can’t help but be happy for him, but I wish he were still pitching for the Rays. Ryan Zimmerman makes good contact, but he flies out to Hamilton in center.

Hanley is, thankfully, still in the game, but he grounds out to Michael Young, ending the inning.

I love that line in the Punch-Out Wii commercials, “I’m gonna make him cry like a little girl and then I’m gonna mop the floor with his tears.”

Top 6th

Remember when Gatorade wasn’t called G? Those were better days. Adam Jones is up against Trevor Hoffman and he sends one all the way out to Brad Hawpe in RF. It worried me for a second.

Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton gets himself a single to RF.

Lincecum could use a haircut, but his glorious mane probably gives him strength. Young could have used more strength as he hits into a 4-6-3 double play (that’s 2B Utley, to SS Ramirez, to 1B Pujols).

The Taco bell Roosevelts commercial is dumb, but I’m strangely drawn to it.

2219 Bot 6th

Jason Bartlett is mislabeled as Ben Zobrist at SS and Curtis Granderson is in CF while Victor Martinez is catching and King Felix Hernandez is pitching. The O-Dog, Orlando Hudson, flies out to Adam Jones in right.

The last Pujols at bat of the night. I’m hoping for some power from Albert, but grounds to Bartlett and the NL has two outs. I hope he doesn’t feel to badly, he’s had some great defensive plays.

An NL substitution in place with Justin Upton coming in for Ryan Braun. Upton is Rays player B.J. Upton’s younger brother. Another ball straight to Bartlett and Upton is the third out.

Top 7th

It’s been a great game so far. This tie has got my heart rate at a nice, high level. Go NL! You guys can do it! Pujols comes out for Adrian Gonzalez after a curtain call from his hometown. Francisco Cordero is up to pitch and Aaron Hill flies one to Justin Upton. It hasn’t been mentioned, but Jayston Werth seems to be in CF for Shane Victorino.

Crawford is back up again? Scary. Hits it straight to Miguel Tejada (when did he come in?) and gets thrown out.

Last year’s Derby winner Justin Morneau of the twins comes up to bat and he whiffs for two straight strikes. Line drive to Zimmerman ends the inning and we go into the 7th inning stretch while my keyboard gives me problems every time I try to push the ‘h’ key.

I guess it’s a good thing that they support the country with “God Bless America” now, but I miss “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” The lady who’s singing GBA is way over fake tanned. She’s almost orange. Looks like Kevin Nealon in the most recent episode of Weeds. That’s not a good thing, they were making fun of him for it for a lot of the episode. Her name was Sarah Evans. Sarah, you did a great job, I’m not harping on that at all, just, you know, cut back on the fake tanning stuff.

2233 Bot 7th

Looks like Jonathan Papelbon won’t get to close again today. Brad Hawpe comes within inches of a home run, but Carl Crawford robs all chances with his amazing catch. So close.

The Houston Astros send in Miguel Tejada for the second NL batter of the inning. He hits one out to the warning track and the bubblegum chewing Adam Jones gets the ball.

Two exciting hits precede Jayson Werth’s at bat. He doesn’t take the first pitch, unlike the previous two batters. Werth’s goatee makes him look like an evil villain to me. Ugh, now I’m watching Jonatan Papelbon make his stupid lip-pursing ‘O’ that he does before each pitch. I hate that stupid look so much, but it’s just based on Red Sox resentment. Werth works up to a full count. Come on NL, score a run on Papelbon again. Make me happy. Jayson is really keeping this at-bat alive with plenty of foul balls and a full count on top of that. Swing and a miss and the NL goes down with no extra points thanks to Carl Crawford.

2242 Top 8th

Heath Bell of the Padres is now pitching for the NL. First pitch almost hits Bartlett in the head. Wow, that was wild. Bartlett taps one to Tejada who sets and throws Jason out at first.

Curtis Granderson gets up to bat now in the 8th. Bell has a really short, quick windup and throw. It’s awkard and hard to follow. Granderson makes it to third on a triple…great. Now he’s in position for a sac fly. It’s up to you Bell.

For some reason the NL decides to intentionally walk Victor Martinez. I guess it makes sense, setting up for the DP, but everyone on this club is a pretty darn good hitter.

This puts the speedy Adam Jones up to bat and the infield returns to double play depth. I’m feeling pretty tense about all of this, especially as the announcers claim that Heath Bell has never pitched in any all-star situations. He works the count to 0-2 on Jones. If the NL don’t get the DP, they’v egot Youkilis up next. Damned if you do…

Jones gets himself a sac fly and the score becomes 4-3 AL. Ugh.

Now we’ve got the Youkilis up to bat and things could turn ugly. Base hit to center. AL has men on first and second.

Ben Zobrist, the Zorilla, steps up to bat. He has homered from five different positions this season, according to the announcers. Pence strikes him out swinging. Hurts to see, but I’m happy for it.

AL 4 – NL 3

Bot 8th

Brandon Inge is now in the game along with Joe Nathan. Brian McCann is at bat with his glasses. Poor guy had a Lasik procedure go terribly wrong and had to return to glasses. He pops up for an easy out to Victor Martinez.

That brings everyone’s favorite Ryan Zimmerman to the plate. Flies out to cross-town rival Adam Jones.

We’ve got power hitter Adrian Gonzalez at the plate now, hopefully to save the NL. It’s crazy how well this guy hits considering that the Padres play in a hitter hostile park. Nathan walks Gonzalez. Let’s make something happen now.

O-Dog time. Orlando Hudson up to bat. Grounder up the middle deflects off of Bartlett’s glove despite a terrific dive allowing Adrian Gonzalez to get to third.

This allows the NL to put Ryan Howard up to bat. A great pinch hitter for the Phillies, let’s see if he can make something great happen. The shift is put on for Howard. Will the St. Louis native be the key to the NL victory in this game? The stadium is going wild for Ryan. Howard quickly gets to 0-2. Orlando Hudson takes advantage of the up and away pitch to steal second. Two in scoring position now and the count gets up to 2-2. It is tense in my living room right now. Ryan Howard makes a stupid check swing at a ball in the dirt and the NL ruins a great chance. So close! We’ve still got one more inning, don’t worry!

2309 Top 9th

Man, I’m getting tired. Last year I made it much longer, but I wasn’t working then. K-Rod comes up to pitch against Inge who hits a broken bat grounder to Tejada for the 6-3 out.

Crawford remains in the game. I can’t be too mad at the guy for catching that out since he’s a Rays player, but I want the NL to win so badly. K-Rod strikes out Crawford. It was a fantastic pitch.

The AL squad sends Justin Morneau to the plate for their third man of the inning and he knocks one back that Jayson Werth barely catches. What a great play.

2315 Bot 9

It’s crunch time for the NL. We’re down to the final three outs and the scary-good Mariano Rivera is on the mound. Justin Upton grounds out to Bartlett. One down.

The second batter to step up is Brad Hawpe who was robbed a home run his last at bat. The AL dugout seems so cheery. It also seems overfull. Hawpe goes down looking on a pitch to the outside. Brad Hawpe looked lost. Two outs.

Our final hopes rest on Miguel Tejada’s bat. Tejada hits a shallow fly to Zobrist and the AL wins it 4-3.

The streak of losses continues.

It didn’t quite go as long as other years, but that dramatic robbery by Carl Crawford really changed this game.

Maybe next year NL. See you guys for another live blog next year!

25 Random BASEBALL Things About Me
Feb 22nd, 2009 by Dan

When Schneider tagged me in her version of this I almost pulled a Linus Torvalds (http://torvalds-family.blogspot.com/2009/02/25-things-about-me.html), but instead I decided not to do one at all.

Then I came across two “25 Random Baseball Things” articles and fell in love with the idea as a way to release pent up excitement about the upcoming baseball season. Hope you enjoy it..

1. Baseball was the first team sport I ever played. To this day I don’t really understand what motivated my father to sign me up for the game. My grandfather is afraid of playing catch due to an incident where he got beaned, my dad is mostly apathetic toward sports in general, including baseball, and my older brother hated little league baseball. My best guess is that we were living in the mostly Cuban (at the time) Hialeah where little league baseball is the predominant sport.

2. I always wanted to play catcher as a kid, but I never got the chance to. I wasn’t ever going to be a pitcher, but I figured that catching involved the second most amount of action on the field. Instead most of my time was spent in the outfield, where I did a pretty good job, and one glorious season at second base. Whenever I play softball or baseball, I will usually play catcher or second base, unless the team needs me to play outfield.

3. My favorite team is the Florida Marlins and I still remember going to a game at Joe Robbie Stadium, as it was called then, to see them play in April of 1993. This was the first professional baseball game I ever attended and was the coolest thing that had ever happened to me before then until I actually walked on the field some years later.

4. I very quickly developed an intense hatred for the Atlanta Braves that still sticks with me to this day. It’s no coincidence that I also despise the Florida State Seminoles who share the absurdly racist and obnoxious tomahawk chop chant. Last year I found out that my uncle used to be a Braves fan since they were the closest team to Florida before 1993. I still feel deeply betrayed by this fact, even though he is now a Marlins fan.

5. When my family moved to Oregon sometime in 1995, I experienced something of a baseball Dark Ages that I didn’t really kick until 2003 and didn’t fully kick until last year, despite moving back to South Florida in 1997. Between 1995 to 2003 I went to one AAA baseball game (Portland Rockies), two pro baseball games (Seattle Mariners and Florida Marlins), one spring training game (Tigers at Yankees) and watched almost no baseball on tv.

6. I’m very ashamed to say that I maybe watched one or two of the games of the 1997 World Series, neither of which were Game 7. To this day I still root against the Cleveland Indians, partly because of that World Series, partly because they remind me of the Braves, and partly because living with Ohio-native Dean Strelau in 2007 allowed me to gloat about snatching two National Championships away from Ohio State, which led to a general dislike of any team from Ohio.

7. I quit playing baseball and started swimming competitively in 1998, a decision that I regret to this day. Sure, I wasn’t a very good ball player at that point, considering I did it mostly for fun, but I wish I had stuck with it. In case you were wondering, I wasn’t a very good swimmer either.

8. In that final season, my team played in a tournament against a team that traveled over to the states from Japan. We held our own for the first two or three innings, but eventually they got the best of us. I still remember that we had to use Japanese-style balls, but we didn’t have Japanese bats, which had some sort of rough coating on them that made them a bit different. I have a sneaking suspicion that we might have played a little better with access to their special equipment or if we used the standard American baseballs and bats instead.

9. The event that led to my baseball renaissance was the Steve Bartman incident in the 2003 postseason. Bartman will always be a hero of mine thanks to his paving the way for the Marlins 2003 World Series victory. I will gleefully ask any Cubs fan about how devastated they felt back in 2003 to be robbed of a pennant.

10. When the Marlins made it to the World Series in 2003 I wore a Marlins jersey that I’ve owned since the mid-90s to school. I’ll never forget that day, because in first period AP Statistics, Dan Gollins called me a front runner because he’d never seen me wear any Marlins paraphernalia before. I stand by the fact that I’ve been a Marlins fan since their inaugural year and I still get mad thinking about him calling me that, but I also kind of understand where he’s coming from and begrudgingly admit he’s got something of a point.

11. Speaking of the 2003 World Series, I have distinct memories of watching two of the seven games at Cornell during a campus visit that DPE flew me up for. I watched one of the games in the now-destroyed Class of ’26 with two Yankees fans. The other I watched in my brother’s apartment down on Gunn Hill.

12. This is a complicated one: I attended middle school and one year of high school down in South Florida at Cooper City High and the rest of them up in Central Florida at Sickles High. After prom at Sickles, I was invited down to Cooper City for prom with my old friends as my ex-girlfriend’s date, much to the ire of my current girlfriend. I still remember being quite insensitive as I called my girlfriend from their prom and told her that I wanted so badly to stay an extra day so that I could go with Josh Kushner to see the Marlins play the Diamondbacks that Sunday (23 May 2004 – http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/FLO/FLO200405230.shtml) because Dontrelle Willis was pitching against Randy Johnson. Better sense prevailed and I ended up going home as scheduled. The Marlins lost 4-3 that day and I’ve still yet to see Randy Johnson or Dontrelle Willis pitch in person.

13. The first Orioles game I went to was on 27 July 2005 against the Texas Rangers (http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BAL/BAL200507270.shtml). I’m pretty sure it was Sammy Sosa Bobblehead Night, although I could be wrong. It was a Wednesday, so I was worried about how long it would take me to get home cause I had work in the morning, but I figured it wouldn’t be that bad. After a 97-minute rain delay, the game FINALLY got underway. The Os and Rangers tied up the game in the 9th and the game ended in the 11th with the Rangers winning 11-8. I got home at 0200AM, but that baseball game is one of the best I’ve ever experienced.

14. One of my goals in life is to see a baseball game played in every ballpark. So far I’ve seen games in Joe Robbie Stadium/Pro Player Stadium/Dolphin Stadium (Marlins), the Kingdome (Mariners), Tropicana Field (Rays), Camden Yards (Orioles), RFK Stadium (Nationals), and Shea Stadium (Mets). Of these stadiums, the Kingdome, Shea, and RFK no longer house their respective teams, the Marlins will be leaving Dolphin Stadium by 2010ish, and the Rays are trying to get a new stadium approved leaving me with one solid stadium visited out of thirty. I’ve got a lot of work to do.

15. Once I’ve visited all the MLB stadiums, barring further stadium moves, I have decided to undertake the much more ambitious and difficult goal of seeing a game in all 13 Nippon Professional Baseball stadiums. I’ve only been to Japan once and Okinawa doesn’t have a baseball team, but I will get this done some day. Koshien Stadium here I come!

16. I am absolutely opposed to the DH rule in baseball. To me, it makes sense that any player who takes the field should have to bat for himself. Sure, it allows aging players or players with poor defense to have a spot on the roster, but I just think it takes away from the spirit of the game to have a guy whose only job is to bat while you have a whole group of guys whose only job it is to pitch. You could argue that pinch hitters serve that role in the NL, but the rules state that those guys have to step onto the field after they hit, unless there’s another substitution. Lack of a DH promotes greater strategy in baseball, period.

17. Rookie of the Year was the first baseball movie I ever saw. I’ve also seen Little Big League, A League of Their Own, Major League, Mr. Baseball, Hardball, and The Sandlot. My Netflix queue includes Field of Dreams, Mr. 3000, The Bad News Bears, and Fever Pitch. I think A League of Their Own and Little Big League are my two favorites.

18. I have a man-crush on 2008 Rookie of the Year Evan Longoria.

19. I’ve been to two games at Tropicana Field, one when the team was known as the Devil Rays and one after the name change. I was initially totally opposed to the name change, but it’s amazing what a name change, color scheme change, and a winning season will do for a team and their venue. The Trop is still one of the worst stadiums I’ve ever been to, but it was a lot more fun to go this past year.

20. I boo Darek Jeter when he comes up to bat for absolutely no reason. In retrospect, I should have been booing A-Rod this whole time.

21. There’s something about eating a hot dog in a ballpark that makes it taste infinitely better.

22. I always semi-rooted for the Devil Rays, but I definitely jumped on the Rays bandwagon this year and I fully intend to continue to root for them as my AL team. My NL team is, of course, the Marlins. I will actively root against the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Braves, and Indians. In the All-Star game, a non-Braves/Phillies game, or any Interleague game, I will root for the National League team. I don’t mind rooting for the Cubs unless they are in the postseason. I think it’s funny that they haven’t won a World Series in 100 years and I want the streak to continue.

23. My favorite ballplayers through the years: Benito Santiago, Chuck Carr, Cris Carpenter, Brian Harvey, Josh Beckett, Dontrelle Willis, Hanley Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, Mike Lowell, and Evan Longoria

24. I have never caught a foul ball, ground rule double, or home run in the stands. It’s a selfish thing to do as a grown man, but I’m not sure I’d be able to give any ball I caught in the future to a kid at a game. Wouldn’t it be enough to give the second or third away?

25. Once they are old enough to enjoy it, I plan to take my recently adopted little brothers and sister to a ball game in the hopes that it will inspire the same love for the game that I have in them.

Grand Slam: Day 3 of the LDS
Oct 4th, 2008 by Dan

Another day another pair of division games, this time exclusively ALDS games. With these two the Division Series are all looking rather one-sided.

Thanks to the always clutch hitting of Dioner Navarro, the Rays were able to start posting runs and making up the two run deficit that Kazmir rounded up in Game 2 of their series. After scoring two in the first, the White Sox are unable to answer any of the next six runs scored by the Rays. They win it 6-2 and push their lifetime postseason record to 2-0.

Boston put together a nice, timely ninth-inning home run by J.D. Drew to push them ahead for a 7-2 victory. While a nice, solid sweep is likely, I’d hate to see the Sox come out of their series with so much momentum. How likely is it to not happen? Josh Beckett pitches tomorrow. The Sox will be playing Tampa soon.

Tonight’s NLDS games have a chance to deliver a winner. I predict the Phillies will win, but I’m hopeful the Cubs at least make it interesting. We’ll see tonight.

Grand Slam: LDS Day 2 Results
Oct 3rd, 2008 by Dan

What a great day for baseball yesterday was! Boston had a bye today (lucky them and lucky Beckett), the Rays and Evan Longoria made franchise history, and the NLDS races are starting to look a bit more one-sided.

We start in Philadelphia with the Brew Crew putting its faith in C.C. Sabathia to even out the series. What happened instead was a Shane Victorino grand slam that kept the Phillies up above the Brewers for a 5-2 finish.

The Cubs continue to prove that they cannot break the curse as they had an error riddled second inning allowing the Dodgers to post FIVE RUNS and eventually come to a 10-3 victory. Pathetic.

Best story of the night: Evan Longoria hits two homeruns in his first two at bats, the first rookie to ever do that in the postseason and the second ballplayer to do it in general. The Rays continue their dream with their first ever postseason victory at 6-4.

Red Sox get the bye and it’s looking like Josh Beckett will be ready for his Game 3 pitching match against the Angels.

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?

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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