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The 2010 Season in Review [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Oct 6th, 2010 by Dan

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Chicago Cubs 19 June 2010 Wrigley Field

Time to check out my prediction score

Another season is now behind us and the playoffs begin this afternoon at 1330 EST in Tampa Bay. How did I do in my projections? Who do I predict for the World Series? Let’s check it out!

AL East

My guess:

Yankees
Rays
Red Sox
Orioles
Blue Jays

Actual Results:

Rays
Yankees
Red Sox
Blue Jays
Orioles

Way off on Baltimore, perfect with Boston, and I got the top two mixed up.

After a (glorious) season where the Yankees didn’t make it to the playoffs for once, the Bronx Bombers came back with a vengeance and took it all. The Yanks may have lost Damon and Matsui, but they’re still in a strong position in the AL East and look poised to make the playoffs in the division. Players are getting older on that team and the pitching isn’t as strong as they’d like, but, barring some kind of major injury, I stand by that prediction.

The Red Sox also made a few big moves, getting rid of Jason Bay and adding in Adrián Beltré, and they’re projected to have a solid season with strong defense and slightly weakened bat strength. I think a lot of how well they do this year depends on whether or not they’re able to produce runs at the plate with David Ortiz, who did not perform to standards last year.

My favorite in the East, the Tampa Bay Rays, have had a super strong spring. With the best spring record of the AL, they could upset the Yankees or Red Sox if and only if their rotation and bullpen return to 2008 form. The offense is there, the defense on the field is there, it’s just a matter of making outs. Will Rafael Soriano be enough to solve their closer woes? That alone will tell you what this team will do this year.

I’m excited to see what the Orioles put together this year. Their investment in youth is starting to bear fruit as prospects make their way onto the field, but this young, inexperienced team is up against juggernauts in the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays. I’m going to call this a building year for the Orioles, even if that’s selling them a bit short. They would have a good chance in any other division, but not the East.

There are few teams in baseball that bore me more than the Blue Jays (:cough: Royals, Pirates, and Padres :cough:). This is a team that acknowledged that they have no chance to make a run of it by trading Roy Halladay to the Phillies.

When I try and underestimate my team for the sake of avoiding bias all I end up doing is getting their position in the standings wrong. As predicted, the ascent of Rafael Soriano was a real blessing to the team, allowing the bullpen to focus on being awesome and the rotation on turning in a fine season. David Price was Cy Young caliber all season, Matt Garza threw a no-hitter, and the rookies Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann made a solid statement in the rotation. Add in Jeremy “Hellboy” Hellickson to the bullpen and Tampa had great numbers off the mound. On the field, defense and small ball continued to be key. Carlos Peña had a rough season at the plate, but the rest of the team was able to pick him up. Jettisoning Pat Burrell was also a fantastic idea. Longoria continued to be amazing.

Seems I was right on the perennial favorite Yankees. Their squad got it done all year long behind a Cy Young caliber season by C.C. Sabathia. Unfortunately for the Yanks, it seems I was also right about their aging lineup. Pettitte started ten fewer games than the rest of the rotation due to injury and his ability to pitch in this postseason remains a question mark. The rest of the rotation has been pretty shaky too with Javier Vasquez putting in a poor performance and AJ Burnett getting progressively worse, but Phil Hughes looks okay while the rookie Ivan Nova was pretty good in the opening innings. Jeter and Posada have started to show their age, but, overall, this is a top tier team that has feasted on its opponents all year long.

I was way off about David Ortiz, who put in a solid season, but there’s no way I could have predicted the injury-fest that was the 2010 season for Boston. They were remarkably able to stay somewhat competitive to the end, but they just couldn’t overcome Tampa or New York.

Maybe Toronto would have put together a third place finish had they kept Halladay, but his loss did not prevent the Jays from looking mighty dangerous in the East. Their 85 wins would be hyper-competitive in plenty of other divisions and the ascent of Jose Bautista as the only 50 HR hitter this season was remarkable.

The funny thing about the Orioles is that they’ve played their best baseball when it mattered least. Replacing their manager with Buck Showalter seems to have done the trick, but it remains to be seen if they can win in situations where they play meaningful games.

AL Central

My Guess:

Twins
White Sox
Tigers
Indians
Royals

Actual Results:

Twins
White Sox
Tigers
Indians
Royals

Whoa, I was scarily on the money with this one.

For a while there, this division was the Twins’ to lose. Then the second best closer in the game, Joe Nathan, went down for the season, muddying up the waters. Add in that the team is moving to a brand new ballpark and things could get interesting. Gone are the super-competitive advantages of the Metrodome, replaced by what will be a SUPER frigid open-air ballpark that will take some getting used to. When it comes to Joe Mauer, I’m reminded of the fictional words of Michael Bluth, “You gotta lock that down.” Lucky for the Twins, they managed to get that done with an eight-year, 184 M$ contract. It should help.

I hear a lot about Chicago’s rotation being so vastly improved, but it’s almost always followed by the caveat that Peavy needs to pitch well. It’s been a long while since his 2007 Cy Young campaign and he hasn’t been able to remain healthy. Despite how much Obama loves this team, I can’t stand A. J. Pierzynski and, by extension, the team.

Detroit has a team that I want to love. Those poor guys live in a third world city that is on the verge of absolute collapse. They keep giving Dontrelle Willis chances to succeed (and he might be in the rotation this year), but I’m not sure that they will be able to keep up with the Twins this year thanks to weak pitching. I’ll be keeping an eye on these guys.

The Indians may be on the upswing and ready to bounce back, but I’m not ready to believe that yet. I don’t see much happening for this team.

Kansas City has an awful team aside from Zack Greinke.

Well, Minnesota went and won this division, like I thought. They didn’t have to worry too much about closers and they picked up Matt Capps just to make sure that they’d be fine in the stretch. Target Field seems solid and the team just played well.

Chicago had a chance to make this division closer, but they just couldn’t lock it down. Jake Peavy barely pitched and the team was just middling almost all season long. They’ll be remembered best this year for Mark Buehrle’s amazing play to first in the first game of the season.

Detroit was so close to doing something with the division! Miguel Cabrera was playing MVP-caliber baseball, but the rest of the team just wasn’t on board. Sidenote: Willis was traded to Arizona.

Cleveland still doesn’t have it. I’m skeptical that they’ll have it next year either.

Kansas City has an awful team aside from Zack Greinke (and even he was mediocre).

AL West

My Guess:

Mariners
Angels
Rangers
Athletics

Actual Results:

Rangers
Athletics
Angels
Mariners

So very wrong here. Wow…

Despite their stupid long name, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have had one of the most consistent teams of the century. They contend every year and make it to the playoffs almost every year. It’s hard to ignore how solid this team is. Unfortunately, they’ve been fighting a war of attrition these past two years with Texas and Seattle getting closer and closer to robbing AL West dominance away from them. They gained Matsui, but lost vital starter Lackey. Will it be enough?

Seattle wants it this year. They went and signed Cliff Lee and even took the risk of signing the volatile Milton Bradley to bolster their bats. Things were looking great for Seattle until Cliff Lee ended up on the DL and Milton Bradley got himself ejected from two straight spring training games. Will they be able to keep it all together and make a real run for the West?

The Rangers are solid, but they have a lot of reliance on players like Josh Hamilton who are very injury prone. They’ve been just short of the playoffs for several years now and they’re real hungry for it.

I have so much apathy for the Athletics. I’m sure their team is pretty good and has a chance this year, but it never seems to pan out for Oakland.

Texas is looking the best they have in a long time. Josh Hamilton is looking like the favorite for MVP and the boys from Arlington have a phenom on their hands with Neftali Feliz. Will they finally make it to the World Series?

Where did Oakland come from this year? Maybe it’s the east coast bias, but I had no idea these guys were doing better than the other two teams in the division. Maybe the dynasty is reemerging.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. What did you do this year? At least you made the Rays look brilliant thanks to Scott Kazmir sucking it up all year long.

Seatlle. I drank your kool-aid. All I got in return was the most anemic offense since the introduction of the Designated Hitter. Your season was historically bad. At least Ichiro continues to dominate and I got to see Griffey before he retired.

NL East:

My Guess:

Phillies
Marlins
Braves
Mets
Nationals

Actual Results:

Phillies
Braves
Marlins
Mets
Nationals

If I hadn’t let bias toward the Marlins blind me I would have had another perfect pick.

My favorite division also contains two of my least favorite teams in baseball, both of which are set to have great seasons. Last year’s NL Champions, the Philadelphia Phillies, are still just as good with Roy Halladay instead of Cliff Lee. They’ve still got a great lineup with good pitching and, even without their closer, they should still have a solid season. They are The Team To Beat (TM) in the East.

Atlanta, my least favorite team, has got stars in their eyes for Jason Heyward, a top-prospect who made the team this spring. Heyward’s bat, combined with Hanson and Kawakami’s arms, could be very formidable in the East. This is a team that worries me.

The Mets have had such terrible luck recently that it’s almost bound to start swinging back in the other direction…right? With an adjusted outfield to help home runs, their offense might perform a little better, but that injury-riddled team is not looking all that much better this year. If they outperform the Marlins, I’ll be surprised.

Speaking of teams that won’t outperform the Marlins, Washington is almost guaranteed to make marginal improvements this year. Their rotation is still a mess, but veterans like Chien-Ming Wang and Liván Hernández can combine with the brilliance of Stephen Strasburg and the promising performance of Drew Storen and produce what might actually be a major league rotation. The lineup needs some work to score runs, but pitching is infinitely more important for a team that wants to win.

Speaking of a team that emphasizes pitching, we’ve finally arrived at my favorite team, the Florida Marlins. Over the off-season they finalized a strong contract for Josh Johnson and kept Dan Uggla, keeping the rotation and lineups strong. Combined with Hanley Ramirez and Chris Coghlan destroying NL pitching and Ricky Nolasco’s brilliant performance on the mound, this is a solid team with only a few holes that need filling. If Cameron Maybin and Gaby Sanchez live up to their potential, I don’t see much standing in this team’s way. There’s always a question of pitching with the back end of the rotation, but Chris Volstad has been looking good of late and Anibal Sanchez fluctuates, but trends on the better side most times. The real question is in the bullpen where the Fish will be relying on Leo Núñez to close games. I’m not confident in Núñez yet.

The Phils were the best. Blah blah blah. They made it to the postseason as the national favorite to win it all, despite stupidly trading Cliff Lee away. Their starting three, Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels were solid all year long, Halladay should win the Cy Young, and…I hate this team. If the Rays don’t make it in the East, I’d love to see Texas get there and stomp on the Phils thanks to the amazing leadership of Cliff Lee

Atlanta barely scraped by to take the NL Wild Card. They came this close to making me happy and not making it to the playoffs. Despite losing Chipper Jones, they were able to hold on to their spot in the final eight thanks to fantastic performances by Jason Heyward and Tim Hudson. Bobby Cox should be proud of this team in his final year. Sidenote: Kenshin Kawakami was terrible this year.

I really thought that Florida could be a second place team this year. JJ pitched fantastically for most of the season as did Nolasco and Sanchez, but they just couldn’t hold it together long enough for the bullpen to not screw it up. That’s where the most offseason work should be focused, IMHO. Nuñez did his best as the closer, but they might need someone new next season. Losing Cogz to a season-ending knee injury on a shaving cream pie was also super ridiculous.

Everyone’s favorite Metropolitans continued to be the worst run team in the league. Thankfully for all of us, ownership has fired the GM and manager so hopefully the team can go in a new direction next year, assuming its contracts don’t weigh it down too much to make many changes.

The Nats were looking primed to be reasonably competitive this year from the getgo. Their record was solid, Strasburg was coming up, things were optimistic. Then the bottom fell out. Starting pitching failed completely before June, Strasburg got injured in August (sidelining him until 2012), and everyone’s hopes and dreams died. The simple fact is that the Nats have no starting pitching. You can’t run a team without starting pitching.

NL Central:

My Guess:

Cardinals
Cubs
Reds
Brewers
Astros
Pirates

Actual Results:

Reds
Cardinals
Brewers
Astros
Cubs
Pirates

Wrong, wrong, wrong. All I placed accurately were 4th and 5th

The Central has a chance to be interesting this year with strong squads being fielded by St. Louis, Cincinnati, and “this is our last chance for a while” Chicago. St. Louis has the best chance here thanks to strong pitchers Carpenter and Wainwright and their strong offense in Pujols and Holliday. Cincinnati has been a dark horse so many years in a row now that they’d better start performing. The promise of Aroldis Chapman could push them ahead if the offense follows, but otherwise the team has a strong uphill climb. The Cubbies don’t have much time left before they have to start “rebuilding”. If they don’t put together a playoff season this year, it might be a while before we see one happen again. I still love Fukudome, even if the Cubs don’t. He’s a consistent and solid player.

I don’t know much about Milwaukee’s squad this year, but they’re usually a solid team, but I didn’t hear much in the offseason that would convince me they were ready to push ahead of last year’s performance.

The rest of the Central, the Pirates and the Astros, really don’t make an impact in baseball nowadays. Pittsburgh is really a AAAA team and Houston has failed to make any kind of splash in a long while.

Cincinnati was the surprise here for me as they put together their best performance in something like 15 years or so. Votto might be NL MVP. Their success can be mostly attributed to Votto and the late-season call-up Aroldis Chapman’s stellar stuff in the home stretch. They get to face Philadelphia right off the bat and if they can’t hit Halladay and Oswalt right away, they could have problems.

St. Louis just gave this division away. It was theirs to win at one point in August, but they just squandered their lead proving that Pujols, Carpenter, and Wainwright a complete team does not make. Will they fire La Russa now?

What’s there to say about Milwaukee? Just not enough there at all to win. Maybe next year guys. Braun can’t carry a whole team.

Houston and Pittsburgh. You guys are terrible. The ‘Stros picked it up later in the season, but it was far too late for that to matter.

NL West:

My Guess:

Rockies
Giants
Dodgers
Padres

Actual Results:

Giants
Padres
Rockies
Dodgers
Diamondbacks

Arizona was so forgettable to me that I left them off of the list completely. The Rockies looked like they might make a run, but it fell apart and I was way off on LA and San Diego.

Colorado made the biggest turnaround I’ve seen since the last time they did it in 2007 to win the wild card last year and make the playoffs. After that strong finish and with LA’s messy divorce keeping them from making significant progress on their team, I see Colorado as the frontrunners in this division.

A messy divorce has been draining Dodger ownership of cash and the ability to run their team. At best, the Dodgers remain as good as they were last year. Realistically, they fall behind the Rockies and maybe even the Giants too.

Solid pitching, but not much offense. It’s been the same story for years now. A strong team only because it keeps the run count down on the opposing team.

What about the Padres?

San Francisco is my favorite team in the playoffs right now. Solid starting pitching (Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez) make for a potent postseason combo as well as great anchors for the 5-man rotation. Somehow this team managed to score runs despite Pablo Sandoval’s season-wide slump. I guess that the solid pitching was enough to hold off the West competition.

The Friars (Padres) had a real chance of turning this into the NL West Wild Card, but they squandered it in the last few weeks and couldn’t complete. If this team can be this good next year they’re bound to win the West.

Colorado really fell off from last season. For a while in September Tulowitzki made it look like the Rockies would repeat their ridiculous last minute run for the third year in a row making me look like a genius. Ah well…maybe next year.

The McCourt divorce really sapped this team a lot more than I thought it would. Manny didn’t hit and the pitching wasn’t there. Torre will probably leave this year and I predict this team will not perform much better next year.

Oh god the Diamondbacks are awful. They need a lot of work.

The 2010 MLB All-Star Game [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jul 13th, 2010 by Dan

It’s All-Star game time again! This year the game is being played in sunny Southern California, down in Anaheim. Thanks to the peculiarities of baseball scheduling and the east coast focus of television, the game is actually being started in daylight hours, 1700 PST.

The liveblogging experience of the year is about to begin yet again! Expect updates throughout the evening and night.

Time: 1944

My cable woes are keeping me from watching the MLB Network this year (I hate you Comcast!), so instead I’m watching ESPN’s coverage, which has been somewhat interrupted with news about George Steinbrenner’s death by massive heart attack. It’s an odd thing to not have him around the Yankees anymore, even if he hasn’t really running things for two or three years. Despite my dislike for the Yankees, he will be missed as a figure in baseball.

2000

It begins! Looks like it’s displacing Hell’s Kitchen tonight. So far we’re starting with a super lame comparison of stars (like in space) to baseball players. “Daddy, what are stars made of?” I think the observatory in this intro comes from Anaheim, but it’s still pretty corny.

Also: the All-Star game is not “in the City of Angels”, it’s in Anaheim. Saw Longoria. I’m already happy. Starting for the teams, Ubaldo Jimenez and David Price.

Way to go broadcaster, you said David Wright instead of David Price for the starting pitcher. I’m only taking it personally because I’m a Rays fan.

I might have to take a break soon, my roommate is cooking dinner and I’ll have to catch up on the game using my newly acquired DVR.

2008

Reserves Lineups!

WHOOPS! My DVR only buffers a half hour. I missed the reserve lineups. You’ll have to see them as the game goes on.

Now it’s time to try to play catch up.

Starting Lineups

National League

Manager: Charlie Manuel

SS – Hanley Ramirez
2B – Martin Prado
1B – Albert Pujols
DH – Ryan Howard
3B – David Wright
LF – Ryan Braun
CF – Andre Ethier
RF – Corey Hart
C – Yadier Molina
P – Ubaldo Jimenez

American League

Manager: Joe Girardi

RF – Ichiro Suzuki
SS – Derek Jeter
1B – Miguel Cabrera
CF – Josh Hamilton
DH – Vladimir Guerrero (big applause for the former hometown hero)
3B – Evan Longoria (I love this kid!)
C – Joe Mauer
2B – Robinson Cano
LF – Carl Crawford (Go Rays!)
P – David Price

Skipped the Star-Spangled Banner…sorry. Skipped the thing to honor real American heroes. Kind of bummed, because I saw Charlize Theron and she’s hot.

Amber Riley from Glee singing “Beautiful”. She’s got a great voice, but she supports the American League. Uncool. In fact, of her backup singers, only two is a National League supporter. What gives! I guess it is an AL city. Gonna skip the rest of this song.

Commercials…fast forwarding…

Honoring Steinbrenner, Amber takes on the National Anthem. Guess I didn’t skip it after all.

I love the Pepsi Refresh baseball commercial.

The commercial for NFL coming back…in bad taste on the All-Star game day.

Opening pitch by Rod Carew. He doesn’t start on the mound, but he sidearms all the way to the plate without bouncing.

2042

One announcer predicting AL victory, but the other guy is guessing NL thanks to the amazing NL pitching. Now a neat little feature about how the NL hasn’t won since 1996. GO NL!

2049
Top 1
We’re live just in time for the first pitch to Hanley! Strike one!

David Price has the advantage of lighting in the ballpark as the sun falls. Offenses will probably start late in this game. Hanley falls behind 1-2…Price is hitting 99 mph. A tiny chopper straight to Cabrera at first and the first out has been recorded.

Martín Prado comes to try and face Price who hammers one in at 98. Wicked curvey thing gets him behind 0-2. I mean, come on, NL! Don’t let them dominate. Prado hits one to Cano who almost boots it, but Prado is thrown out 4-3.

Pujols, greatest ballplayer in the game, steps up to the place and actually gets himself a ball. This marks the first time Price starts an at-bat with a ball. Maybe he’s scared of Pujols? I don’t blame him. Price makes a mistake and Pujols almost rocks one deep into right, but Ichiro robs him of one with a running catch.

2056

Bot 1

I’m missing Frutista Freeze commercials. I’m thinking I won’t see any at all and that’s a bummer, they were pretty good. Instead we get the lamer normal Taco Bell commercials.

Ichiro pops one up on the second pitch. Hanley ropes it in for the first out.

Bob Sheppard’s recorded voice introduces Derek Jeter. Famous voice and we’re all sad to have lost him. Jetes will get that intro for the rest of the season. Both Jimenez and Price are pretty lanky compared to a lot of pitchers. Craziness. Ubaldo falls behind on Derek with three straight balls, the third of which rides WAY in on him. Scary with this glare. Ubaldo manages to walk Jeter. This is frustrating already, haha. Pitching is supposed to be the NL forte.

Miguel Cabrera comes in and Ubaldo goes right after him. I’m loving how FOX is putting everyone’s infographic in team colors. Cabrera puts a little blooper into RF and it’s now first and third.

Things are already looking bad when Josh Hamilton steps up. A mean breaking ball starts the count off right and a 98 mph fastball keeps him up 0-2. Third pitch goes right back up the middle to Jimenez who turns a beautiful 1-6-3 with Hanley and Pujols. Phew…

Score: 0-0

2105

Top 2nd

Ryan Howard comes in for the top of the second. All the batters are saying it’s near impossible to see in the batters box right now. This is bad, since the best offenses will be in early in the game. Howard falls behind early, but he battles back to 2-2. Unfortunately, he whiffs on a high fastball outside. He’s way underneath it.

David Wright comes out in one of the new helmets. It makes him look less ridiculous, but his head is still too small for this. Wright gets on thanks to a hard hit ball to Cano who boots it again. Will they rule it an error?

Ryan Braun now in to try and push David around the bases. broken bat grounder to Longo who makes a beautiful 5-4-3 double play. David Price almost ate a bat there.

Bot 2nd

Vladimir Guerrero takes the plate for the AL against Jimenez. He’s still going 98, but, then again, why save anything for the tank? The next NL pitcher will be in in an inning or two. In typical Vlad-fashion, he chases a pitch down in the dirt and strikes out.

Longo comes up! Almost eats a baseball or two. Longoria cracks a monster double on a mistake pitch by Jimenez. I mean, you don’t pitch Longoria fast and inside.

Mauer pops up to center. Whoops

Cano steps up. He almost spins around on the second pitch. Tiny grounder to Martín Prado, 4-3, inning half over. Black screen? I hope I didn’t lose cable in this thunderstorm.

Top 3rd

TV comes back when I futz with the DVR a bit, thankfully. Andy Pettitte now on the mound. Ethier at bat. He’s playing CF for the first time in his career, but he’s doing pretty well. That is, until he just struck out on a cut fastball low and outside.

Corey Hart’s insane season puts him in this game and he’s ready to hit (I hope). Update on the Cano fielding, no errors recorded. Hart falls behind, 1-2, and he swings and misses at another low cutter.

Yadier Molina grounds one right up the middle right after the announcer says he’s having a tough time at the plate.

Man on first for Hanley, but he grounds to his counterpart, Jeter, who puts Molina out at second.

Bot 3rd

Josh Johnson is now on the mound for the NL against Carl Crawford. Unlucky for JJ, since Crawford and Longo are probably the people on the AL squad who have seen him the most.

His strong pitching and a lucky reflex by Wright get Crawford on a liner to third.

The lineup rolls around to Ichiro. JJ is continuing the fast pitching with 97 fastballs all over. Ichiro is looking good, but he falls behind in the count 1-2 before he whiffs on an outside fastball at 98 mph.

JJ now faces Jeter and the trend of backing him off with high fastballs continues. Yadier is like a gymnast behind the plate with the way he sits and bends. Jeter breaks his bat fouling off a JJ pitch. Full count to the Yankee slugger who’s probably also seen JJ once. A beautiful breaking ball takes Jeter out for strike three. He just looks at it and knows he should have swung. The NL gets out of the 3rd safe.

Score: 0-0

Top 4th

Torii Hunter comes into CF and Ichiro comes out. Prado grounds to Jeter, 6-3. Cliff Lee is on the mound too, btw. One inning for Pettitte? Really?

Pujols at the plate. He uncharacteristically takes three strikes from Lee, but at least he goes down swinging. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Pujols do ridiculous stuff in any All-Star games.

Howard broken bat grounder to Cano. Inning over.

Bot 4th

I’m really not liking any of these freecreditscore.com commercials. They’re not great songs.

JJ stays on the mound against Cabrera. Adrian Gonzalez takes over at first. Weak hit to Wright and Cabrera is out.

Josh Hamilton comes back up to face the Marlins fireballer. There’s ridiculous echo on the pitches. Like a booming echo every time it hits the catcher’s mitt. What’s up with that? Ryan Braun makes a fantastic catch to ob Hamilton of a hit, but his wrist bends like crazy. I can’t believe he came out of that ok. JJ is grateful.

Vlad, naturally, swings at a fastball way high and inside, but somehow lays off a more reasonable outside pitch. Vlad lines out to Gonzalez at first and we’re in the 5th.

Top 5th

Justin Verlander on the mound for the AL. David Wright nabs a single on the first pitch. First lead-off batter to get on in the game.

Braun steps up to face the Tigers hurler. Ryan needs to not hit into a double play tonight. David Wright goes to steal, Mauer throws it FAR away, but David doesn’t notice and he stays on 2nd. Missed opportunity. There was a funny moment before where they showed Howard joking that Braun’s catch was just for tv and he could have made it. Verlander hits 99 and Braun fouls. The AL has another pitcher loose in the bullpen. I like the way Manuel is managing instead. Gotta save some! The at-bat continues…Ryan Braun misses the opportunity to get stuff moving swinging over an inside fastball.

Andre Ethier comes up to try and make up for his strikeout last at-bat. It’s been 30 years since the last Dodgers player was voted in to play. Insane. He ropes one into right for a single and we’re first and third. Wright intelligently is held up, which is safe.

Now we’ve got Corey Hart, who I think is lucky to be in this game. Sorry Corey. If he can make an RBI happen…Unfortunately it seems that Verlander’s got his number as he falls behind 0-2. He gets struck out on an appeal, but it was close. Just a little too far.

Yadier is out for Brian McCann, a more offensive catcher. Let’s hope he doesn’t squander the NL’s best chance for the night. It’s funny to see the camera men perched on the rocks in the Angels batters eye/waterfall. His first strike almost kills Hanley Ramirez as his bat flies out of his hands. McCann is battling, but Verlander seems to have the upper hands as the count shifts to 3-2. The ball goes way far out back in RF, but it stops at the track, one out too late for the sac fly.

0-0!

Bot 5th

Scott Rolen takes over at third while Matt Holliday and Marlon Byrd move in. Hong-Chih Kuo steps in to pitch for the NL. The lefty specialist gets to face many after Longo. Kuo hasn’t allowed a hit to a leftie all season and he’ll get three after Longo. The Dodgers hurler fills up the count pitching around the hot Longoria, but he walks him on a breaker that goes way inside.

Time for Kuo’s lefty powers to take form as Joe Mauer steps in. Just learned that Kuo is the first Taiwanese all-star. Mauer takes two strikes, but the commentators are saying Kuo’s specialties, hard and outside, are actually Mauer’s specialties too. I’m a little worried. A slow chopper to Kuo which should be a routine out at first, but Kuo throws it far over Adrian Gonzalez’s head, earning him an error and runners on 2nd and 3rd.

Cano, a dangerous hitter, steps up to challenge Kuo. Goddammit…this situation is awful. Long fly ball into LF, which means sac fly. Longoria scores and the AL pulls ahead. One out.

Crawford steps up to bat. Another lefty for Kuo to handle. A hard hit goes to Hanley who makes a heads-up play and throws Mauer out at third. It was really aggressive baserunning by Mauer and an intelligent move for Hanley. Kuo’s done for the night, Heath Bell moves in.

Torii Hunter is at bat for the AL. First Angels player at the plate. McCann drops a pitch getting up too early to get Crawford before he stole 2nd and he’s now at 2B. Hunter smacks one to the RF corner, ending the inning with Andre Ethier’s catch.

Top 6th

Hanley Ramirez is still in the game, facing Jon Lester and Jon Buck. Ian Kinsler is at 2B and Vernon Wells is in LF. Small chopper doesn’t get Hanley a base, Lester fields it with difficulty and manages to underhand to first.

Martín Prado shows bunt, but doesn’t connect and the at-bat moves to 3-1. He nearly makes a dramatic hit for a homer, but he’s way, way early. Count goes full, but Prado stays alive. It’s a pop up to Jeter for the second out.

The NL’s next batter, Adrian Gonzalez, steps up against Lester. I’m hoping for good things. The count goes full. Can he do something big? Small grounder to second and Ian Kinsler throws him out.

Inception sneak peak coming up. I kind of don’t want to see it, I mean, I want to see this movie and not have it be spoiled.

Bot 6th

Looks like Longo is all the offense so far. Halladay is the pitcher for the NL, but Jeter barely gets a hit past Marlon Byrd. He’s pinch run for with Elvis Andrus.

Brandon Phillips at second, Rafael Furcal at short. Paul Konerko at bat. A foul ball pushes Andrus back to first on an attempted steal. Halladay is going pretty strong against Konerko, but he’s having problems punching him out. Andrus runs, Konerko misses and strikes out, McCann almost loses the ball and Brandon Phillips tags Andrus out after he passes the bag.

Now it’s time for Josh Hamilton, thankfully with two outs. Roy likes to stay ahead of his hitters as he gets both to 1-2 relatively quickly before trying to get them on the outside stuff. He can’t get Hamilton to take the bait when he offers and the count fills up. He belts one past Gonzalez and lands on first.

David Ortiz, Big Papi, makes his way to the plate. Halladay is out. Hamilton gets pinch run for too, but I miss who it is. Jose Bautista is the runner and Matt Capps of the Nats steps up to take on Ortiz. His fastball down the pipe gets Ortiz looking to end the inning.

Top 7th

Joey Votto at DH with Phil Hughes pitching. Grounds out to second.

This interview with Jeter is making it hard for me to WATCH THE GAME! Scott Rolen is now at 2-1 when we decide to watch him hit. He manages a base hit to center.

Matt Holliday takes over batting duties next. Another ball down the middle and Scott Rolen takes advantage of the opportunity to run to third. He’s very lucky the throw was off-line. First and third, nice.

Matt Thornton is called in to pitch to pinch hitter Chris Young. He’s got a big chance here, but Thornton is a strikeout pitcher. He hits a pop up right to first. Dammit.

Marlon Byrd’s got a chance to make something happen now. The NL really needs this. Thankfully, Thornton loads the count up for Byrd. It’s been a beautiful at-bat, considering it started out 0-2. Another ball loads up the bases.

This puts Brian McCann at the plate with the chance to pull ahead with a strong hit. He thankfully fouls it just out of play on the first pitch. Patience, grasshopper. Make sure it’s a good pitch! Ripped into the RF corner and THREE RUNS SCORE! The announcers are calling it the “biggest NL hit in 13 years”.

Thornton is out of the game with the score 3-1. Now pitching for the AL, Andrew Bailey. Rafael Furcal up to bat for the NL. Wiggington is in the game now? When did that happen. Walk.

First and second and we’ve got Brandon Phillips up to bat, but he swings at a dirty, dirty breaking ball that lands in the dirt.

Score: 3-1

Bot 7th

Who’s Colbie Callat? She’s singing “God Bless America” and she’s a country singer. Stereotypical Southern California blonde beauty. Damn, I love a girl in a jersey and I’m digging this simple acoustic version. Nice cowboy boots too.

Nick Swisher at bat. Adam Wainwright pitching. He totally burns Swisher with a beautiful curve. Brutal.

John Buck steps up to bat now. He hits a bullet to LF, but Holliday lets the pitch bounce right out of his glove. Is it just me or does Matt Holliday make a lot of errors in important places? Buck is on second with one out.

Now Wainwright’s got to face Kinsler as the tying run. Vernon Wells is on deck. This is a bad situation. I wonder how many of these players McCann has strategies for facing. He walks Kinsler, setting it up for a strong power hitter.

Seems that Price hit 100 mph while Verlander and JJ both hit 99. Vernon Wells has been bouncing back this year with strong numbers, but he grounds to SS who makes an awful toss to Phillips at 2B. No double play.

Now it’s Torii Hunter who had a good hit to right last time up. Can Wainwright stay safe in this game? I love a good curveball. I got to see Torii Hunter’s knees buckle on a great Wainwright curve. What does Adam do? Pitch a brilliant ball to the outside to strike out Hunter. End of 7th.

Top 8th

How many new Firestone tire commercials are there? I hate these “Legendary Drivers” commercials. The song is stupid.

Now would be a fantastic time for the NL to add on some insurance runs. Rafael Soriano comes in for the AL and he induces a fly out to LF.

Joey Votto back up to bat. Hits it deep to center, but not deep enough. Two out.

Rolen is up now! Flies out to LF.

Bot 8th

Michael Bourn takes LF. Brian Wilson is up to keep the NL in contention. Elvis Andrus is trying to catch up for the AL, but he grounds out softly to second.

The AL puts Paul Konerko up to bat. He grounds to the third basemen who GUNS it for no reason.

And now it’s Bautista! Pops up to first.

Top 9th!

NL is still up. Can they win this thing? Hopefully they put an insurance run on the board just in case.

Jose Valverde is the AL pitcher for the 9th. Michael Bourn up to bat, but he strikes out.

The NL has Chris Young to pin their hopes on now. Can they get an extra run in? Chris Young chases too and it’s two outs for Valverde.

Marlon Byrd! Valverde’s stuff is pretty dirty. Byrd makes it to 3-2, but he strikes out.

Bot 9thPRESSURE!

Jonathan Broxton in to close the game for the NL. Can he do it? Big Papi gets a single.

Now Adrian Beltre comes up to bat. Whoa, strong 99 mph fastball up and in, but Beltre chases for strike three. Ugly pitch to swing, but at that speed, you’re almost just guessing.

Catcher John Buck can’t be pinch hit for, so he’s up. Can Broxton induce a double play? Don’t walk Buck, A-Rod will come up! 3-0 at this point…3-1, swinging strike. Lucky, lucky. Second swinging strike almost right down the pipe. Full count, full drama. Pop fly to RF that Byrd has to run to. Ortiz can’t run just in case it drops, giving Byrd the chance to throw him out at second. Beautiful.

Just one more out. Ian Kinsler comes up to bat instead of Rodriguez. Fly to CF, Chris Young nabs it and the NL does what it hasn’t been able to do since 1996! FINALLY! Go NL! WOO!

Griffey Retired: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Jun 4th, 2010 by Dan

Ken Griffey Jr. (1997)

Ken Griffey, Jr.’s retirement was overshadowed by the perfect game controversy of the same day. I just wanted to take a few moments to state that he had an amazing career that should be honored. It’s a shame to see him out of the game, but I’m so glad he played.

03 June

NPB
No games.

MLB
Baltimore Orioles (3) at New York Yankees (6). When you put David against the Goliath that is C.C. Sabathia and the Yankees, you should expect this, not the Biblical outcome. The Orioles record is now 15-39.

Washington Nationals (4) at Houston Astros (6). Capps gives up a walk-off home run partly thanks to a blown catch by Guzman. A tough loss for the 26-29 Nationals to swallow.

Milwaukee Brewers (2) at Florida Marlins (3). Josh Johnson pitches yet another gem to keep the Marlins in third place with their 28-27 record.

Memorial Day: The Holiday Weekend’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Jun 1st, 2010 by Dan

leave the BBQing to the Aussies

I’m gonna blame Memorial Day weekend for making me forget that I was supposed to do this yesterday. All those barbecues were so good!

28 May

NPB
No games (with the Carp or Eagles)

MLB
Baltimore Orioles (0) at Toronto Blue Jays (5). Division rival mega match! Ok, I can’t keep a straight face on that one. The AL East’s two least interesting teams (to me) start a series that will inevitably bore me to death.

Philadelphia Phillies (3) at Florida Marlins (2). A close one that could have gone either way, really. Volstad gets the hard-luck loss.

Chicago White Sox (4) at Tampa Bay Rays (2). I’m so used to David Price being so amazing that it catches me by surprise when he loses. After the Alex Rios home run in the fourth the Rays couldn’t quite catch up.

Washington Nationals (5) at San Diego Padres (3). What should have been an unimportant series suddenly becomes an interesting one about two teams far outperforming expectations. Lannan notches the win and Capps notches another save.

29 May

NPB
Hiroshima Carp (2) at Rakuten Eagles (3). My teams face off yet again. Katsuhiro Nagakawa, fresh off the DL, gets the loss in a walk-off in the 10th. Hiroshima should still be proud after scoring two on Iwakuma.

MLB
Orioles (2) at Blue Jays (5). You know, the Jays are actually a really good team this year. It’s too bad that there are already three other good teams in the AL East.

Phillies (1) at Marlins (0). Oh my god, how did I miss this? Roy Halladay threw a perfect game and Josh Johnson served up a magnificent effort himself allowing only one unearned run. Why are Florida teams surrendering so many perfect games?!

White Sox (5) at Rays (8). Wade Davis finally gets himself another win. Way to go, rookie. PS: I hate the White Sox.

Nationals (2) at Padres (4). J.D. Martin takes the loss to a Padres team that’s hitting pretty well.

30 May

NPB
Carp (2) at Eagles (4). I love Ma-kun (Masahiro Tanaka) as much as the next guy, just not when he’s beating my team. Oh well. Hiroshima’s record is now 20-31-0 in fifth while Rakuten sports a 24-28-1 mark.

MLB
Orioles (1) at Blue Jays (6). The battle of the birds comes to a close with the Orioles (predictably) getting the series loss. The Orange Birds end the weekend at 15-36, but get a breather before moving on to the Yankees.

Phillies (0) at Marlins (1). After the Phillies blank the Fish, Florida comes back and blanks the Phils, but not with a perfect game like the night before. Anibal Sanchez was in his dominant form and the Fish struggled to put just one on the board against Jamie Moyer, as usual.

White Sox (8) at Rays (5). The Sox return the favor against Shields. Sad.

Nationals (2) at Padres (3). 11th inning walk-off loss. They can go either way at that point. Tough break for Washington.

31 May – Memorial Day

NPB
Nada.

MLB
Milwaukee Brewers (5) at Marlins (13). The Fish return to their hitting ways, and how! Cody Ross and Cameron Maybin both knock in some mashers and plenty of RBIs are scored. The Fish record sits at 26-26 in a three-way tie for third with the Mets and Nats.

Nationals (14) at Houston Astros (4). The Nats also got in a hitting mood. What a showing! As stated before, their record is 26-26.

Rays (2) at Blue Jays (3). Garza just couldn’t keep the Jays low enough to keep the win. The Rays are still in first with their 34-18 record, 4.5 up on the Yanks.

Lopsided Victory: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
May 6th, 2010 by Dan

Seibu Lions snack

The Lions went and slaughtered my precious Golden Eagles, leaving them with something to think about over the next two off days. It was not a great day for my favorite baseball teams.

05 May

NPB
Rakuten Eagles (3) at Seibu Lions (19)! The Lions really dished out some punishment. Rakuten is still miraculously in fourth place with its 16-21-0 record, but that’s no real consolation since there’s a three-way tie for first 6.5 games up.

Hiroshima Carp (4) at Yokohama BayStars (5). Tough losses to the ‘Stars push Hiroshima back two games. Why can’t Maeda start every day? The Carp are now 14-20-0 in fifth.

MLB
Baltimore Orioles (5) at New York Yankees (7). They came so close to winning this, but it just wasn’t enough. The Orioles record is such a joke at 7-21 that I almost don’t want to mention it any more. Suffice it to say that they’re in last.

Atlanta Braves (7) at Washington Nationals (6). Matt Capps notches his first loss in extras (still no blown saves) in a hard fought game against Atlanta. Washington’s 14-13 record is good enough for third.

San Francisco Giants (3) at Florida Marlins (2). Barry Zito pitches himself a great game and the Marlins just don’t have the bats to win. When Hanley goes 0-4, what can you expect?

Tampa Bay Rays (8) at Seattle Mariners (2). A pitchers duel that somehow ends with Cliff Lee getting tagged for four just goes to show how potent the Rays offense is. Tampa had to win to maintain their lead with their 20-7 record.

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