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Maeda Does It Again: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
May 28th, 2010 by Dan

Hiroshima Carp Calbee

I don't have any pictues of Kenta Maeda to put up, so this is the next best thing.

I don’t know why I’m surprised to see Maeda pitched when I see the Carp played a shutout. He really is the best pitcher in the Central League so far.

27 May

NPB
Chiba Lotte Marines (0) at Hiroshima Carp (3). Maeda scatters four hits over 8 while Yokoyama notches the save. This brings Hiroshima’s record up to 20-29-0 in fifth.

Rakuten Eagles (3) at Yakult Swallows (3). Both teams battle into a tie in the 12th, unable to break the deadlock. Rakuten’s record kind of rises to 22-28-1, tying them with the Fighters in fifth.

MLB
Washington Nationals (4) at San Francisco Giants (5). The Nats lose the game in a disastrous 7th inning pitched by Stammen, Burnett, and Walker. Their 24-24 record ties them for fourth with Florida.

Oakland Athletics (7) at Baltimore Orioles (5). Mark Hendrickson blows this game in the eighth by giving up three. It’s no wonder the Marlins got rid of him. Baltimore’s record falls to 15-33 on the year in last.

Atlanta Braves (8) at Florida Marlins (3). Ricky Nolasco has a mediocre start cut short at four innings by a rain delay and the Marlins relief corp couldn’t hold on. Their bats couldn’t contribute either, so the Fish went down, yet again, to the accursed Braves. They are now playing 0.500 ball again at 24-24

Chicago White Sox (1) at Tampa Bay Rays (5). It’s important to establish dominance yet again after the embarrassing sweep the Rays just suffered. Not to mention the fact that Jeff Niemann is the last remaining lossless starter in the American League. He holds on to that title, improving to 5-0 while the Rays increase to 33-15.

Standings and Predictions + Pics from Os vs. Rays on 10 April [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Apr 15th, 2009 by Dan

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

15 April may mean the tax man is coming around, but I like to think of it from a better perspective: Jackie Robinson Day. That’s right, on 15 April 1947 Jackie Robinson debuted for the Branch Rickey’s Brooklyn Dodgers, finally breaking the color barrier in baseball and paving the way for civil rights in America. Jackie Robinson was a hero and I’m glad that baseball honors him each year on this day by allowing players to wear Robinson’s league-wide retired #42.

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
-Jackie Robinson

Now for the standings and predictions:

AL East

Baltimore Orioles
Toronto Blue Jays 0.5 Games Back (GB)
New York Yankees 2.0 GB
Tampa Bay Rays 2.0 GB
Boston Red Sox 4.0 GB

Surprising as the standings are today, I don’t think this can realistically continue throughout the year. The current bottom three are just too good for this to stay like this all year. A more realistic October looks like:

Rays
Red Sox
Yankees
Orioles
Blue Jays

Most of sports news America has the Jays above the Os and the Rays anywhere between first and third. I think the Rays outplay both the Yanks and the Sox and I’ve seen the Orioles do some major slugging. Even with the rotation difficulties they’re projected to have, I think their offense might be able to make up for it, but not enough to beat the Yankees. If the Yankees can’t get their act together with their bullpen and starting pitching (CC is looking better, but Wang is awful), things could be further shaken up.

NL East

Florida Marlins
Atlanta Braves 1.0 GB
Philadelphia Phillies 2.0 GB
New York Mets 3.0 GB
Washington Nationals 6.0 GB

The Nats are off to an awful start, mostly thanks to the incredible Florida Marlins who are a MLB-best 6-1 right now. They’re riding high off of good hitting and pitching, but I don’t think they have the depth to stay that high. Their hitting is a little too inconsistent and the rest of the division is just so darn good. That being said, I don’t think that the Phils can win the East again, mostly thanks to an ailing Cole Hamels, so I see them coming in definitely behind the Mets who have a rebuilt bullpen. Nats will continue to suck. The Braves are good, but I don’t know if they’re contenders yet. We’ll have to see as the season progresses.

Mets
Marlins
Phillies
Braves
Nationals

AL Central

Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox 0.5 GB
Detroit Tigers 1.0 GB
Minnesota Twins 1.5 GB
Cleveland Indians 4.0 GB

Trey Hillman is doing a heck of a job with his Royals so far this year, but I don’t think they can stay atop the Central all year long. I predict that the newly rebuilt and re-motivated Tigers will do much better, Cleveland will continue to suffer from whatever losing disease they have (no starting pitching), and the Twins will suffer some major losses thanks to Mauer’s injury. Here’s how I see it ending up:

Tigers
White Sox
Royals
Twins
Indians

I think I might be wrong with the Twins and Royals, but we’ll see when I reevaluate at the All-Star break.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs
St. Louis Cardinals 0.0 GB
Cincinnati Reds 1.0 GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 1.0 GB
Milwaukee Brewers 3.5 GB
Houston Astros 4.0 GB

This one is harder for me to predict cause it’s the division I know the least about. The Cubs are on top, as most would predict, partially thanks to my boy Fukudome doing his part again. I really hope he stays strong all year this time. The Cards are tearing it up with Pujols and I think they’re a lock for second in this division. Despite being everyone’s dark horse for the NL Central, I don’t think the Reds can outplay the Cubs or the Cards. Pirates are doing well out of the gate, but for how long? The Astros just stink and the Brewers can’t compete without the pitching they had last year.

Cubs
Cardinals
Reds
Brewers
Pirates
Astros

AL West

Seattle Mariners
Oakland Athletics 2.0 GB
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 2.5 GB
Texas Rangers 3.0 GB

If you would have told me at the end of last year that the Mariners would be atop the AL West at any point I would have called you crazy. Some key things have changed out west, making it an open division. Injuries plague the Angels bullpen, the Athletics are just mediocre, and the Rangers stink, but somehow Wakamatsu, the new Mariners skipper, has pulled his team together to make them compete. Maybe it’s the return of Griffey, Jr. or something Wakamatsu’s putting in the water, but the team is jiving together much better and it shows.

Mariners
Angels
Athletics
Rangers

IFF the Angels starting pitching is out for an extended period of time.

NL West

San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Dodgers 1.0 GB
Colorado Rockies 2.5 GB
Arizona Diamondbacks 3.0 GB
San Francisco Giants 3.5 GB

The Padres are off to a great, but unmaintainable start. No offense and no pitching means no winning. They’ll fall back in place. The rest of the West is pretty ugly too. San Francisco has great pitching, when Lincecum isn’t sucking, but no offense. The Rockies lost Matt Holliday, and the D-Backs have Webb on the DL. LA is easily the best in the division.

Dodgers
Diamondbacks
Rockies
Giants
Padres

Arizona is only high if Webb comes back soon. Otherwise they can’t hold on.

Those are my early season predictions, but we’ll see how well I’m doing come mid-season and adjust from there.

Pictures from the 10 April game:

Longoria at 3B

Longoria at 3B

View of Camden from our sweet seats

View of Camden from our sweet seats

I like this shot of Aki, even though hes in the background

I like this shot of Aki, even though he's in the background

Preparing for the next pitch.

Preparing for the next pitch.

Sonnanstine getting ready to throw

Sonnanstine getting ready to throw

Rounding the bases

Rounding the bases

Adam Jones hit well that night.

Adam Jones hit well that night.

Looks like a diving miss

Looks like a diving miss

Good swing

Good swing

Scoreboard in the 2nd. Zobrist up to bat

Scoreboard in the 2nd. Zobrist up to bat

Good hit and baserunning

Good hit and baserunning

Domo-kun was at the game too

Domo-kun was at the game too

A vital part of the game experience: park vendors

A vital part of the game experience: park vendors

The end of Hendricksons windup

The end of Hendrickson's windup

Kapler coming in Pete Rose style

Gross coming in Pete Rose style

Im convinced this mental misstep cost us the game. Way to go Kapler...pay attention to the game!

I'm convinced this mental misstep cost us the game. Way to go Kapler...pay attention to the game!

Loosening up to make the calls

Loosening up to make the calls

Nice, Japanese-style swing. Good work Aki

Nice, Japanese-style swing. Good work Aki

AKINORI IWAMURA! Seriously, try cheering that three times fast.

AKINORI IWAMURA! Seriously, try cheering that three times fast.

Infield meeting to slow down the Os. Longoria doesnt pay much attention, but Aki, Bartlett, Navarro, and Peña do.

Infield meeting to slow down the O's. Longoria doesn't pay much attention, but Aki, Bartlett, Navarro, and Peña do.

One of Longorias two homers for the night.

One of Longoria's two homers for the night.

A disappointing loss, but a great time had by me and my friends.

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: 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.

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