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A Cold Night in Philadelphia: The Weekend’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Apr 19th, 2010 by Dan

The Phanatic likes to mess around with everyone, including reporters.

I spent a far-too-cold night at Citizens Bank Park freezing my butt off, but enjoying a Marlins victory over Fish-killer Jamie Moyer. A review of the park should be hitting soon, but I’ve got to finish writing it first.

16 April

NPB
Chunichi Dragons (3) at Hiroshima Carp (4). If I’m not mistaken, this one was won in extra innings. A thrilling victory for the Carp.

Rakuten Eagles (1) at Softbank Hawks (9). The losing streak continues

MLB
Florida Marlins (6) at Philadelphia Phillies (8). Roy Halladay throws 8 innings of 2-run baseball that’s almost ruined by his relief in the 9th. Florida doesn’t have enough to get the last two, but they make it interesting.

Milwaukee Brewers (3) at Washington Nationals (5). Is this a two-game win streak I smell?

Baltimore Orioles (2) at Oakland Athletics (4). It just gets uglier and uglier for the Os.

17 April

NPB
Dragons (7) at Carp (8). It’s always refreshing to see my other Fish manage so many runs. More late-inning heroics push Hiroshima up and give them the series win.

Eagles (8) at Hawks (3). The Golden Eagles have tons of run-scoring potential, but they’re often unable to get it done. When you’ve got Iwakuma and Ma-kun pitching Saturday and Sunday, respectively, you’d better score runs to capitalize on good pitching performances.

MLB
Brewers (0) at Nationals (8). Liván Hernández shows, once again, that he is still an amazing pitcher. I’ll never forget his performance for the Fish in 1997 and it makes me happy that he’s still going so strong. 3-game win streak for the Nats.

Orioles (3) at Athletics (4). More ugliness. How much longer will Dave Trembley have a job if things continue like this? Is there some unspoken Baltimore-Washington rule that one of the teams must be terrible?

Marlins (5) at Phillies (1). The game I was at. What a beauty. Good thing the Fish got to Jamie Moyer early, because the bats were mostly silent after the first inning.

Tampa Bay Rays (3) at Boston Red Sox (1). This game started on Friday, but was rain-delayed in the 9th inning at a 1-1 tie. It resumed and went for 12 before finally getting resolved in Tampa Bay’s favor.

Rays (6) at Red Sox (5). Should have been more of a blow-out for the Rays than it was, but Longoria’s home run turned out to be the difference.

18 April

NPB
Eagles (0) at Hawks (1). Masahiro Tanaka throws a gem of a game that the Hawks win with in the bottom of the 9th while Ma-kun tried to get his 27th out. It’s a shame that he goes for so many and his offense does squat for him. Rakuten finishes the week in fifth with 8-15-0 with a huge 8.5 game deficit.

Dragons (2) at Carp (4). Was this what I think it was? A series sweep by the Carp! Could this mean fortune is beginning to favor Hiroshima? The Carp close the weekend 9-11-0 in fourth and only three games back from first.

MLB
Marlins (2) at Phillies (0). Lefty Nate Robertson does what he was hired to do: kill Phillies left-handed hitters. The Marlins win yet another series and raise their standing to 8-5 putting them half a game back on the Phils.

Rays (7) at Red Sox (1). An amazing performance by Matt Garza puts the Rays ahead of the Sox yet again. If Tampa Bay can manage one more win in this long series, they’ve got themselves a sweep on their hands. Should they manage said sweep, it would be the second sweep of the Sox at Fenway in Rays history. The Rays are 9-3 and tied for first with the Yankees.

Brewers (11) at Nationals (7). Jason Marquis has the ugliest performance of his career, giving up seven runs in the first inning without recording an out. He’s pulled and the Nats give up three more. They make a strong comeback effort, but it’s not quite enough. They’re playing 0.500 baseball, folks, with a 6-6 record that puts then in fourth, but only two games back from Philadelphia. Also great is that they’re two games above New York. Fantastic baseball being played so far.

Orioles (8) at Athletics (3). The skid ends for Baltimore, but the damage has been done. Baltimore is only 2-11 and a gigantic (for this point in the season) 7.5 games back. Ouch.

Jackie Robinson Day: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Apr 16th, 2010 by Dan

Brooklyn - Crown Heights: P.S. 375 Jackie Robinson School - Mural

Yesterday was the anniversary of the day that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and made his MLB debut. Per usual and in honor of the event, baseball had every player taking the field adopt Jackie Robinson’s uniform number for the day, 42. It makes for confusing baseball if you don’t recognize the faces of the players, but it’s a great gesture that always brings a smile to my face.

It should be noted that the number 42 is not retired in Japanese baseball, which can be jarring for MLB fans who are not used to seeing players wearing the famous number out there. At least it was for me.

Yesterday was also tax day, but that’s way less cool.

15 April

NPB
Yakult Swallows (2) at Hiroshima Carp (1). Maeda had himself another fine start where he held the Swallows to only two runs, but the Carp couldn’t provide significant run support. Hiroshima falls to 6-11-0 and are still only a tiny, half-game out of fifth.

Rakuten Eagles (3) at Seibu Lions (7). Killed by the Lions. Brutal. 7-13-0 and in fifth.

MLB
Washington Nationals (7) at Philadelphia Phillies (5). The Nats finally notch another win against the Phillies and will hopefully get a chance to win some games now that they won’t be playing the NL Champions in six of their last nine. Washington is 4-5 and still not in last.

Cincinnati Reds (2) at Florida Marlins (10). Josh Johnson finally came out looking like the ace that he is and served up six strong innings with 10 strikeouts. The Marlins are now 6-4 and 1.5 games out of first.

Baltimore Orioles (2) at Oakland Athletics (6). I wasn’t up late enough to catch this west coast game, but it looks like it was a pretty ugly one for the Orange Birds. Oakland is surprising a lot of people with their start this year. Baltimore’s 1-9 start is too, but not in the way they might have hoped.

MLB 2010 Season Projections [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Mar 31st, 2010 by Dan

Another year, another season! 2010 looks to be another good one. The Marlins don’t look like they’re about to run away with their division, but the Rays have a fighting chance this year. I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s back up and go through this division by division like we do every year.

AL East

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.

Projected Standings:
Yankees
Rays
Red Sox
Orioles
Blue Jays

Remember that I’m a Rays fanboy and my positioning makes sense. I think the Rays have a strong chance to take the AL wild card this year.

AL Central

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.

Projected Standings:
Twins
White Sox
Tigers
Indians
Royals

AL West

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.

Projected Standings
Mariners
Angels
Rangers
Athletics

I’m going out on a major limb there. I could be dead wrong.

NL East

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.

Projected Standings:
Phillies
Marlins
Braves
Mets
Nationals

NL Central

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.

Projected Standings:
Cardinals
Cubs
Reds
Brewers
Astros
Pirates

NL West

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?

Projected Standings
Rockies
Giants
Dodgers
Padres

I’m bound to be dead wrong, per usual, but we’ll see how I’m doing in July and again in September. I can’t wait for Sunday/Monday!

Wow, A LOT Has Happened [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jan 6th, 2010 by Dan

I’m pretty sure that I haven’t mentioned anything about the NFL this year, which I find hilarious, considering that I use a modified football saying as my sports category. Now’s as good a time as any to talk about it, I guess, since the regular season is over. As far as the playoffs go, I’d like to see the Ravens advance to the Super Bowl, but that’s just because they’re the local team. If we’re lucky, we’ll also get to see Brett Favre face-off against the Green Bay Packers (and hopefully knock them out) too in this postseason. Beyond that, I haven’t paid enough attention to the NFL this year to really care one way or another.

While I’m talking about football, I also haven’t talked too much about the Gators, who handily won their bowl game 51-24. It was Tim Tebow’s final game for UF and I’m excited to see where he ends up in this year’s draft class.

Again, let’s keep the subject on football, only to mention that I’m actually glad that the USA is in the same pool as England for the World Cup. One victory against the Queen’s team would be enough for me to make fun of Phil for the rest of my life. If Team USA can knock them out of the World Cup, I’d die a happy man, even if they were to lose every match afterward.

Beyond that, I’ve mostly been focusing on baseball (no surprise there!) in both the USA and Japan. A lot of huge moves have gone on so far, most notable among them Matsui leaving the Yankees for the Angels, but the other big move (to me) was the whole Cliff Lee/Roy Halladay trade involving Philadelphia and Seattle (and Toronto and Oakland (I think)). After seeing Cliff Lee absolutely dominate the Yankees in the World Series, it makes nearly zero sense to see the Phillies trade him away, but Halladay should be a fully adequate (and scary) replacement for the team that will most likely top the NL East yet again. Seattle also gets their hands on one of the finest pitchers in the league which should allow Wakamatsu to make a real move against the Angels who lost a lot of pitching and some offense this off-season.

In Japanese baseball news, the Seibu Lions drafted the best pitching prospect, Yusei Kikuchi, who should be ready to start tossing for the team as early as next year. Whether or not he appears in relief in 2010 is an interesting question.

My team, the Carp, avoided picking Kikuchi to go mostly for pitching, getting some of the best talent left in the pool. Their season was looking up until they lost one of their aces, Colby Lewis, to family issues stateside. It will be interesting to see if they can actually finish this season in the top three this year as they haven’t reached a Japan Series since 1991. They’re the team most removed from their last league championship and last Japan Series victory, so they’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

Man, I miss baseball season. Hurry up April!

Mid-Season Predictions [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jul 22nd, 2009 by Dan

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

Here we are at the middle of the 2009 MLB season and things could not be more different than I expected. Dark horse candidates lead wild cards, division standings are mostly in shambles, it’s just not what most anyone predicted.

Let’s take a look at the current standings:

AL East

Yankees
Red Sox 1GB
Rays 4.5GB
Blue Jays 10.5GB
Orioles 15GB

No doubt about it, the AL East has seen a return to past form with the rise of the Yankees after last year’s dismal (for them) results. At the season’s opening it seemed like the Blue Jays might make a run for it, but their strong start quickly eroded away putting them way far behind in the standings. It will be interesting to see who finishes last: Baltimore or Toronto.

The East remains a three-team race this year and the Rays have a lot of ground to make up. I’ll be revising my predictions as follows:

Red Sox
Rays
Yankees
Orioles
Blue Jays

I think the Rays can win the wild card with a strong second half and the Yankees will struggle late in the season to give Tampa Bay the go ahead. Baltimore’s strong youth combined with Toronto’s impending Roy Halladay trade will allow the Os to pull ahead of the Jays.

AL Central

Tigers
White Sox 2GB
Twins 2.5GB
Royals 13GB
Indians 13.5GB

It’s a real surprise to see Detroit go from last place last year to first place this year. I guess the bigger surprise was that they were last place last year despite a strong squad. It’s a strong three team race in this division too. You can count out the surprisingly terrible Indians and predictably bad Royals this year. Will Kansas City ever field a good team in the near future?

The division will wrap up:

Tigers
Twins
White Sox
Royals
Indians

Detroit is really looking to perform this season and I think they have a great chance thanks to superb young pitching. So long as the team keeps hitting, they should be fine, especially if they can make a move before the deadline for more starting pitching. I predict that Mauer will give the Twins the needed boost to stay above the Sox all year long, but, who knows, it might come to a playoff between the teams again, they’re relatively evenly matched.

AL West

Angels
Rangers 3GB
Mariners 5.5GB
Athletics 15GB

The AL West will be one of the most surprising and exciting divisions this year, I can just feel it. LA won’t be able to hold onto their lead and the Rangers are hungry for their first World Series appearance. Seattle has done quite well for itself this season thanks to the steady lead of Don Wakamatsu and, really, all it takes is a good streak to put them in a competitive spot in the west.

Rangers
Mariners
Angels
Athletics

It’s a bold prediction, but I’m going to forecast a late season collapse for the Angels that puts them a hair behind Seattle in the west. We all know Oakland is going nowhere.

NL East

Phillies
Braves 6.5GB
Marlins 7GB
Mets 10GB
Nationals 27GB

I could not be more surprised about the way a division is turning out. NL East was close coming out of the All-Star break, but a sweep of the Marlins by the Phillies blew this wide open. All the East can hope for is a Phillies slump, but with NL competition being what it is, this may not happen. The Mets place in all of this is rather surprising too, but not unbelievable since almost their entire roster is on the DL. They’re practically fielding a AAA team.

Phillies
Marlins
Braves
Mets
Nationals

New York won’t be able to recover from all of these injuries and the Braves won’t be able to pull ahead of the Fish. Philadelphia holds on to the top and Washington is just terrible.

NL Central

Cardinals
Cubs 2GB
Astros 2GB
Brewers 2GB
Reds 5.5GB
Pirates 8.5GB

Is there a closer division in baseball than the NL Central? Four teams within two games of first place has got to be some sort of record. The most surprising story in this division has to be the terrible play of the Cubs after their amazing 2008 season.

Cardinals
Cubs
Brewers
Astros
Reds
Pirates

Predicting this one is almost like flipping a coin. St. Louis has all the pieces they need to go the distance this year, barring injury. I think they have the best chance to do well considering Chicago’s lack of initiative this year.

NL West

Dodgers
Rockies 9.5GB
Giants 9GB
Diamondbacks 20GB
Padres 23GB

After the exciting NL Central, how do we arrive at this mess? The largest first place lead in baseball goes to LA (again) this year, but in the opposite league. The Dodgers are in a dangerous position with such lax competition and could find themselves floundering in the playoffs this year. I’m still amazed that both Colorado and the Giants are leading the wild card race this year. Colorado has been on a tear since changing skippers to Jim Tracy and the Giants seem to have found their niche with standout pitching by Lincecum and Cain. If only these teams found their stride earlier in the season, this division might have been interesting.

AL Wild Card: Tampa Bay
NL Wild Card: Giants

Controversial choices, I know, but I love both of these teams and I hope to see them succeed this year.

June Results [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jun 3rd, 2009 by Dan

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

Another month of baseball has passed and it’s a testament to the sport that things have gotten a bit crazy. As I write this on Tuesday, the standings look a little something like this:

AL East

Yankees
Red Sox
Blue Jays
Rays
Orioles

AL Central

Tigers
White Sox
Twins
Royals
Indians

AL West

Rangers
Mariners
Angels
Athletics

NL East

Phillies
Mets
Braves
Marlins
Nationals

NL Central

Brewers
Cardinals
Reds
Cubs
Pirates
Astros

NL West

Dodgers
Giants
Padres
Diamondbacks
Rockies

The biggest surprise would have to be the collapse of the Blue Jays in the face of stiff competition. They are a meager 6-9 in the East and have dropped from their pedestal of 3.5 games ahead at their best to 1.5 games back, amassing a nine-game losing streak to get them to where they are today.

As mentioned by Rob Neyer, the Rays are somehow leading the league in batting average, doubles, homers, RBIs, walks, stolen bases, extra base hits, and they lead the league in runs scored, among other feats. Despite all of this, the Rays happen to lie six(!) games back in the East. Hopefully things start breaking their way soon, they deserve it.

My beloved Marlins sit 6.5 back in the NL East and all the injuries the team is suffering from seem to predict that this won’t change all that much.

Zack Greinke is still murdering batters at a ridiculous pace. His ERA sits at 1.10 after 11 starts and he shows no sign of slowing down. Keep an eye out for him.

Matt Wieters made his debut for Baltimore and he’s doing alright. Expectations are high for the catcher to help turn the team’s fate around.

Evan Longoria is leading the All-Star ballot and I encourage each and every one of you to keep him on top.

Manny Ramirez just might get selected on the ballot, despite being suspended for fifty games following a drug test failure.

The Yankees set an MLB record by allowing no errors in 18 straight games.

Quick me plug: I got my e-mail read on Monday’s ESPN Baseball Today podcast. It was pretty awesome.

And for our last bit of news, good luck on win number 300 Randy Johnson. The Big Unit will go for win number 300 tonight against the Washington Nationals. There’s also a delightful bit of symmetry in the fact that Randy Johnson was first drafted by the Montreal Expos, the team now known as the Nationals, and will be facing them in this historic game.

Rays and Marlins Update and Punch-Out!!? [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
May 20th, 2009 by Dan

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

The Rays finally managed to hit the .500 mark two days ago only to lose last night against the Athletics in a heartbreaking game that remained scoreless until the 11th. You can’t really say that the Rays have been on a tear, but they have won six of their last ten, which should continue to edge them upward in win percentage if they can continue. Two more games against the Athletics will be followed by three against the Marlins in their interleague series and we’ll see how that turns out. The Rays are three games back from the Yankees and that needs to change. Unfortunately, the Yanks are playing the Orioles, so unless the Rays start capitalizing on the fact that they’re playing a weak team in the Athletics, things are going to just get uglier for them. They’re both good teams, but I think the Rays tended to edge out the Fish last year. Interleague games: the only time I root against the Tampa Bay Rays

Florida finds itself in fourth place as well, but only four games out, thanks to a loss to the Diamondbacks after two rained out games. They’re playing alright, but they do really need to turn something around to make a run at the East.

Quick Aside: I was at the Pirates/Nats game last night where the Nats made it close in the 9th, tying up the game, and then blew it in the 10th. I also didn’t get there in time for the free t-shirt.

Short break for a training montage…Imagine my fat trainer riding a bicycle ahead of me while I run behind him in a pink hoodie, the Manhattan skyline flowing past behind me…

This isn’t the first time I’ve melded WMQ and Game Overview and it probably won’t be the last. I picked up Punch-Out!! (those exclamation points are important!!) for Wii at Best Buy last night and, I’ve gotta say it’s pretty awesome. If you ever played the original Punch-Out!! on the NES, you know how the game is played. The concepts remain identical, even with the new control schemes. You control Little Dan (as Little Mac becomes known when associated with my Mii in versus mode) like always who has a repertoire that includes jabs to the face and stomach, dodges to the left and right, ducking, blocking, and star punches (AKA massive uppercuts).

Each of the comically ethnically stereotyped boxers has a style all to their own. Most of their moves are wildly easy to predict or downright illegal in a real boxing ring, but still fun to counter and play. A lot of the original strategies are still there. You can still down Frenchman Glass Joe in one punch if you hit him at the right time. Piston Hondo (name changed from Piston Honda for legal (?) reasons) can still be dropped during his Hondo charge attack and King Hippo’s shorts can still be loosened with a punch to his open mouth. In a nice touch, all the boxers speak their native tongue with no translation. It’s quite funny and it really pulls you into the game to see Glass Joe babbling in French or King Hippo roaring…wait…do Hawaiians roar? Here’s who I’ve faced so far in my quest for the championship:

Glass Joe

Pushover. Lightweight. Chump. I missed the first opportunity to clean his clock with one punch, but I landed the soft spot on his jaw in the second round and ended the fight with baguettes flying around the ring.

Von Kaiser

The German Mama’s Boy returns. His tells are pretty easy and he can be knocked flat in no time at all.

Disco Kid

The first newcomer to hit the ring. Here’s a pro-tip for the Kid: don’t say “Here it comes!” before your left hooks and you might have a chance of landing one. Chump.

King Hippo

Belt Holder for the Minor Circuit and your first real challenge. This raging Hawaiian only knows that he wants to knock you out and hard. The band-aid on his belly is the dead-giveaway for his weakness. Just punch him in the face when his mouth is open and then lay into his fat, causing his shorts to drop. One knockdown will lead to a KO.

Piston Hondo

The Major Circuit starts off with this Japanese boxer. He loves to move his eyebrows before a jab. Punch him in the face to earn stars. Punching him during his little charge will put him on the mat.

Bear Hugger

The first of two Super Punch-Out!! characters in the game, this Canadian boxer served up my first loss. He likes to chug maple syrup and, here’s an interesting little trick, if you star punch him while he’s taunting you, he goes down on the mat. Hard.

Great Tiger

My second loss came from the Indian cheater Great Tiger. Ever seen a boxer poof, teleport, or create mirror images? If his turban flashes gold, you can get a star, but red flashes will lead to uppercuts. Ouch.

That’s all I’ve faced so far. I’ll keep you updated on any new fighters or fun that I have.

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: 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?

Grand Slam: The MLB All-Star Game
Jul 16th, 2008 by Dan

This will be in a sort of liveblog fashion.

First off, let me state that I hope we’ll get a NL win this year, I’m so tired of seeing the NL lose to those AL jerks…

Lineup announcements:

Slight cheering in the NL until they reach Mets players, then booing. How great is that?

In AL, booing at the Red Sox players. Yankees fans can do something right, I guess? If only I can get them to boo the Yankees too.

First commercial break:

I’ve said this time and time again, Flomax commercials are like the male Tampax commercial…

House, M.D. has new doctors. Not sure if I like them…

Back to the game…More Lineup Introductions

Rollie Fingers has a great mustache

So does Goose Gossage, just not as ridiculous.

The whole Hall of Fame thing with the positions is actually really cool. In case you didn’t see, they’ve got a whole lineup of Hall of Famers standing at each position. They announce all of them and then the All-Star voted in goes up to that position and stands next to them.

I didn’t know Cal Ripken, Jr. was originally a shortstop. I guess as he aged they moved him to a less demanding position.

FUKUDOME! Yeah, expect to see a lot of that if he does well tonight.

Josh Hamilton kicked some major ass in the home run derby last night, it’s too bad he didn’t win.

Yogi Berra is way shriveled up. Got a lotta cheering though.

Second Comercial Break:

I’ve got to see Sarah Connor Chronicles one of these days.

National Anthem/First Pitch

Sheryl Crow was ruined for me by a work CD when I was at Busch Gardens. She plays it safe. I wanna see a José Feliciano type event. Stealth bomber flyover is cool though.

Goose Gossage, Reggie Jackson, Yogi Berra, and one other guy (I missed his name) pitch to a bunch of other Yankees. Neat event.

More Commercials

Can it really still be called Prison Break if they’re not in prison? Maybe they’re trying to make a statement about the free American life being a prison itself? Maybe I’m over thinking this…

More Pre-Game…Sheesh, Start it Already…

I really wish they weren’t tearing down Yankee Stadium. It’s got so much history and awesomeness…What a crazy choice by the Yankees.

Frutista Freeze

The Diamondbacks Taco Bell Frutista Freeze commercial is HILARIOUS. I hope it’s on Youtube later…

Game Time! Top of the 1st

Hanley strikes out =[

Cliff Lee is burning through the NL so far. Two strikeouts now in under ten pitches. Too bad Chase…

Berkman flies out to center. Sheesh…1. 2. 3 first inning.

No more commercial counting…

I’m pretty sure the new Mummy movie is gonna stink…

Lou Piniella fake screaming commercial is great. Maybe I’ll reference these commercials tomorrow? (SEE BELOW FOR EMBEDDED COMMERCIAL)

Bot 1

Ichiro flies out on like the first pitch.

Ugh…Jeter…He gets on with a hit that basically bounces against Utley’s face. Should have let Uggla start instead.

Bah…Jeter steals…

Hamilton strikes out. Two outs.

Now it’s A-Rod who pops out to Soto. That wraps up the first, with Soto slipping on a weighted bat getting that pop up.

Top 2nd

Pujols to A-Rod who tosses him out.

Chipper Jones gets a single. Man do I hate the Braves.

Matt Holliday moves Chipper to second, but is out at first.

Ryan Braun, the Hebrew Hammer, strikes out. Three outs.

Bot 2nd

Manny, Manny, Manny…almost hits a home run. Foul ball saves us. Chases one into the dirt and strikes out. Way to go Ben Sheets.

Milton Bradley, whose name is a board game company, steps up. By the way, I like seeing the players in their own team uniform instead of league uniforms. Sheets walks Milton. Camera spots him mouthing a giant F-bomb.

Kevin Youkilis, one of seven Red Sox involved in the game tonight. Shameful…Bradley steals, Soto fails to stop another stolen base. Youkilis’ batting stance is so stupid. Sheets strikes him out.

Holy cow, Ben Sheets got himself a $50,000 bonus for starting tonight.

Joe Mauer steps up. Draws a walk.

Another Red Sox player up to bat, it’s Dustin Pedroia. He has the most annoying batting glove adjusting routine between pitches. Without fail, he will adjust his gloves between each and every pitch. Drives me mad. He flies out to FU! KU! DO! ME!

Top of the Third

Joe Saunders comes out to pitch for the AL. Fukudome up to bat. He almost hits a homer, it goes wide left. FOX is being cheeky, Fukudome’s name and stats appear in Japanese. Ball goes to Youkilis, Fukudome is out.

Soto flies out to Hamilton. No good.

Stop interviewing Yogi Berra, you’re not calling the game very well when you do that.

Hanley’s back up! Hanley gets a base hit with a ball to right field.

Chase is back up for his second round. He hits a bouncer to Youkilis and is out.

Holy cow, Berra is short. I saw a highlight of him in his prime as a catcher, he’s a short kid.

Bot 3

Oh man…Step Brothers looks so stupid. Why do people pay Will Ferrell to be such an idiot?

Carlos Zambrano comes out to pitch against Ichiro. Ichiro gets a base hit to right on the second pitch. This is his 8th All-Star game and he hit the first ever inside the park home run in an All-Star game last year.

Jeter hits into a 6-4-3 double play. Two outs.

You know, nice work on kicking drugs and making your life get in line again Josh Hamilton, but I’m getting tired of hearing the story so often. I think it’s just cause I’m keeping on top of baseball coverage, so I’ll be soft on this point for the rest of the night. Hamilton hits into an out.

Top of the 4th

Roy Halladay takes over pitching duty for the AL against Lance Berkman. Sheesh, another strikeout.

Pujols is up. He hits a long one into the corner, but the slowpoke gets greedy and Ichiro tosses him out at second with ease. Slow motion shows that Pujols was actually safe, but no big deal.

Chipper hits out to Jeter. That’s three.

Bottom of the Fourth

Zambrano is still in the game against A-Rod. He strikes out. Yay!

Carlos almost hits Ramirez in the head with a breaking ball that gets loose. I like their neat little breakdown of the strike zone batting averages. Ball goes to Utley, he manages to catch it this time and tosses him out at first.

Milton Bradley up to bat again. He’s safe as Hanley’s toss is high. Hanley ends up getting an error.

Youk is up. Whoops, Bradley gets thrown out at first.

Commercials

I’m excited for Pineapple Express It’s gonna be funny. I haven’t seen Judd Apatow fail yet.

Upper 5th

Josh Hamilton is now in left field, Grady Sizemore is in center, Ervin Santana is pitching.

Matt Holliday is up to bat. HELL YES! Matt Holliday homers. At this point I’d like to mention that Matt Holliday is the top home run hitter of my fake MLB Power Pros team. He even broke the MLB record with somewhere around 150 homers in fake MLB land. Nice work Matt!

Braun hits it to Pedroia.

A-Rod comes out of the game for Joe Crede at third. My man Fukudome comes up. He strikes out with an uncharacteristically undisciplined swing. Wow, that was ugly.

Useless stat: There are 41 players on the All-Star lineup whose salaries are more than what it cost to build Yankee Stadium back in the day ($2.5 million)

Geovany Soto strikes out. That’ll be the end of that half of the inning.

Bottom 5th

Dan Haren on the mound, Nate McLouth in Center, and Russell Martin at the plate

Youkilis up to bat.flies to Holliday.

This was the first game since 1990 that was scoreless into the 4th.

Joe Mauer comes up to bat. He hits one over Haren, who knocks the ball slow and kills the play. Mauer at first. Ian Kinsler comes in as a pinch runner.

Dustin Pedroia up to bat. He’s doing that stupid glove thing again. Kinsler steals because Martin’s throw is too high. They could have had it if it was lower, I think, contrary to the announcer’s comments. Pedroia walks with Ichiro coming up. Bad move Dan Haren

For someone who is 43 years old, Sarah Jessica Parker’s kind of a hottie when she’s not in her ridiculous Sex and the City getup. She gave some presentation with Sheryl Crow and another dude about cancer before the game.

Ichiro strikes out (whew), but now Jeter’s up (uh oh)

He’s showing some discipline in the count, racking it up to a full count with two outs. It’s go time now Dan. Jeter hits it back to Haren, he catches it this time, tosses him out on first.

Piniella commercial again, I love it.

Couldn’t find

Top of the 6th

Justin Morneau on first, Ian Kinsler on second, Pedroia out, J.D. Drew in right, Jason Varitek at the plate.

Justin Duchscherer is pitching. What a long name. He pitches a great pitch to Hanley who gets a base hit with a ball to Left field.

Utley up to bat with Hanley on first. Apparently there are twelve players in the game who have never played a game in Yankee Stadium. This is Chase Utley’s first. Hit and run play, Utley gets a base hit to Right, Hanley gets himself all the way to third base with the cleanup hitters of the NL coming in. This means trouble for the AL.

Berkman up to bat. He hits one all the way back to the warning track. Sac fly for Berkman as Ramirez runs in. 2-0. Gross…Hanley gives Chipper a high five. I guess they’re on the same team, but still.

Derek Jeter comes out for Michael Young of the Rangers. Pujols comes up to bat. He doesn’t swing at a beautiful first pitch, but that’s ok. Base hit into center up the middle. Utley to second, Pujols to first.

Laaaaarry is up to bat. Chipper may have the highest batting average in the Majors and play for the National League, but I can’t put my Braves hatred aside. I silently pray that he gets out. Chipper strikes out. I am happy.

Holliday back up to bat. Pop fly to Kinsler. End of inning.

Bottom of the 6th

“You either discover a star or you don’t. You arrogant punk”

Adrian Gonzalez now at first. Dan Uggla at second. Miguel Tejada at short. Aramis Ramirez at third. Corey Hart in right.

Hamilton gets a base hit. Holy cow, I remember this guy’s story now. Back after the Marlins world series win there was an article in Sports Illustrated about how the Tampa Bay Devil Rays picked Josh Hamilton over Josh Beckett. Back then he was so stoned and suspended from baseball that it looked like a really stupid idea. I’m actually now really happy about this guy’s story. Too bad Tampa lost him, he’s really producing now. Good work dude.

Crede up to bat. Pops out to Uggla. What defensive work =p

Sizemore up to bat. Hamilton steals. Martin throws a WILD ball to second that goes into center. Fourth stolen base for the AL. Grady racks up a full count. He strikes out on a ball to the corner. You gotta swing at those buddy.

Bradley up to bat. He’s caused lots of trouble, but he flies out to McLouth in Center.

7-Up

Carlos Quinten in Left, Joe Nathan pitching.

Ryan Braun steps up to the plate. Things are gonna get tougher for both teams now with closers coming in to pitch. Ryan Braun has a really terrible check swing and strikes out.

Nate McLouth up to bat taking over for Fukudome (boo!). Fly ball to Grady Sizemore in Center. Two out.

Up to bat is Russell Martin for his first at bat. Another fly ball to Sizemore. 7th inning stretch time.

Josh Groban comes out to sing “God Bless America.” Whatever happened to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”? This lanky kid has a deeper voice than one would expect. I guess the song is a classic, but I find “God Bless America” boring. What a voice Groban’s got on him though. Good stuff for a small guy.

Can’t wait to see Heath Ledger’s Joker soon. The Dark Knight should rock.

7-Down

Ryan Ludwick in Left. Edinson Volquez on the mound.

Justin Morneau at the plate. Hits one past Corey Hart in center to get a double.

Ian Kinsler up to bat. Grounder to Tejada. Morneau to third, Kinsler out at first.

Dioner Navarro of the Tampa Bay Rays comes up to bat for Jason Varitek. He stays at the plate for a while, racking up six pitches before striking up looking. Two outs.

J.D. Drew up to bat now. Damage control time Volquez, keep Morneau from scoring. Camera cuts to show former catcher Joe Girardi catching in the bullpen. That’s crazy to see a GM catching in the pen. J.D. Drew hits a homer to right. Tie game against the pitcher with the lowest ERA in the majors. Barely makes it over the fence too. Too bad the Yankees fans cheered this Red Sox home run.

Now up to bat, Michael Young. I’m starting to worry now. NL hasn’t won an All-Star game since 1996. I’d like to see this streak end. Young strikes out.

Top of the 8th

Dioner Navarro is catching now. Jonathan Papelbon is pitching. Greeted with boos. He supposedly said he should close the game, so the Yankees hate him.

Tejada up to bat. Single to Right field.

Dan Uggla up to bat. Strikes out on a terrible pitch.

Adrian Gonzalez up to bat. Tejada steals second and a bat throw gets him to third. Sac fly brings Tejada in. That could have been bad, but how awesome is that? NL has the lead.

David Wright up to bat for Pujols. He strikes out. Yankees fans boo Papelbon off the mound. I love it. If only there was another stadium full of people to boo Yankees fans tonight.

Bottom of the 8th

Roommate just made some cup noodles. He’s making me hungry for some cheap, salty noodles.

Carlos Quinten up to bat. Brian Wilson up to bat. NL leader in saves. He’s pitching poorly on his first two pitches. Fly ball to Nate McLouth in Center. One out.

Carlos Guillen pinch hits for Joe Crede. Francona out of bench players at this point. He’s supposedly the last substitution. What about Evan Longoria? Guillen gets up to a full count on seven pitches. He strikes out. That’s two.

Billy Wagner comes in for the last out in this inning. Sizemore up to bat. Longoria on deck. I saw Giuliani in the stands. Sizemore singles to right.

Evan Longoria up to bat for Milton Bradley. Was this wise? Bradley’s done one of the best offensive jobs in this game, but I guess they wanna give Evan a chance to hit. Sizemore steals second, this is bad…Martin doesn’t even throw. Longoria hits a double down the left field line. As much as I love the kid, I can’t help but be upset about the RBI ground rule double.

Morneau taps one to Wagner, Morneau out at first.

This is upsetting since Papelbon won’t get the loss and now the NL win is looking like it might be in dire straits, what with Mariano Rivera coming in to pitch.

I like the Cubs girls in that BoA commercial.

Top of the 9th!

Huh, I was wrong. K-Rod comes in. Francisco Rodriguez is pitching for the AL.

Aramis Ramirez up to bat. Aramis is taking some terrible swings. He takes it to a full count. The walk goes to Ramirez.

We watch Tejada’s stolen base again that brings the NL to three runs and then Sizemore’s run and Longoria’s hit.

Cristian Guzman pinch runs for Ramirez. Hart flies out to right.

Ryan Ludwick up to bat. K-Rod goes out of the game, Mariano Rivera comes in. They play “Enter Sandman.” Great music to come in on. Flashes all around the cheering stadium.

One on one out. Rivera has never missed a save opportunity this season…

Ludwick will have to do his best to get a hit. He’s having a disciplined at bat when he whiffs and brings the count up to 2-2. Cheers erupt from the crowd. You’d think he struck out. Full count. Strikes out. Guzman caught stealling at second by Navarro. End of the inning with a double play. Talk about dramatics. Wish it would have gone the other way.

Bottom of ze 9th

Is Bones any good? Saw a funny commercial tat makes me curious.

Ryan Dempster pitching to Ian Kinsler. He’s got a crazy pitch with wavy glove motions designed to confuse the batter, I guess. Francona’s kind of in trouble if this game continues, what with no position players left on his bench. Kinsler strikes out.

Dioner Navarro comes up to bat. That goofy glove motion is really strange to watch. I’m gonna have to see if they try to reproduce that in MLB Power Pros 2008. Dioner racks up a full count and then strikes out.

J.D. Drew comes up. Dempster will have to be careful. Full count again. Drew watches strike three. EXTRA INNINGS! Way to go Dempster! Three straight strike outs.

10p of the 10th

Nate McLouth up to bat. Rivera still pitching. How long can he hold out? Doesn’t really matter, since Francona has plenty of pitching left. He racks up a full count. Strikes out looking.

Russell Martin is up now. Interesting fact about Rivera, he only throws one non-fastball pitch, he just can move it in two directions. Martin is staying alive in this at bat with four foul balls and seven pitches before a base hit past Kinsler to Drew.

Miguel Tejada steps up to the plate. Let’s make something happen NL. Tejada gets a base hit down the middle past Young. I can see Rivera’s sad face as he sees the situation he’s in: runners on first and third.

Dan Uggla up to bat. Can he make a difference? Man I hope so. Marlins having a decent showing tonight, it would be sweet to see more. Uggla hits into a double play. Dammit…

Rivera gets lucky.

Bottom of the 10th

If Tejada had slid in, would we have seen a slower throw keep Uggla safe? Michael Young hits one to Uggla, it bounces out of his glove. Error.

Carlos Quentin up to bat. By the way, Aaron Cook is pitching. Ball smashes to Uggla under his glove. Runners at first and third. Error.

Uggla doesn’t get pulled from the game. He’s gotta feel terrible right now. I feel bad.

Cook intentionally walks Carlos Guillen. This is looking way dangerous.

Grady Sizemore up to bat. Outfield and infield playing in. No outs. Sizemore hits to Uggla. Dan catches it, tosses it home, gets the out.

Evan Longoria up to bat. Uh oh. Infield plays back for double play. Evan looks like this is the easiest thing he’s ever done. He’s laughing at the plate. Longoria to third. Guzman gets it, throws it home. Two outs. Come on NL, you can get out of this yet…

Now we see Morneau. My heart is beating rather quickly now. They keep showing Dan Uggla. Slow roller to Tejada who barely gets the toss off to first. What a save! Uggla is thanking the baseball gods right about now.

Let’s finish this up, please NL. I’ve got to go to work in the morning.

Top of the 11th

I’m pretty sure we won’t see Rivera when the 11th starts. We’ll probably see George Sherrill of the Orioles.

I’m wrong, Joakim Soria of the Royals is pitching instead. Adrian Gonzalez is up to bat. Base hit to Sizemore in center.

The announcers are talking about a potential Tie. I was pretty sure that baseball wasn’t gonna ever do that again.

David Wright steps up to bat. Whiffs his way to 0-2. Strikes out. Thanks dude.

We’re now up to Cristian Guzman with one out, man on first. He takes two quick strikes before popping out to Sizemore and getting the second out of the inning.

Corey Hart is now batting for the NL. Hart misses a pitch down the pipe. Misses another for a 2-2 count. Pops out to J.D. Drew in Right.

:sigh: Bottom of the 11t

Ian Kinsler lines to center for a base hit.

Dioner Navarro. Looks to bunt, but abandons on the next pitch. Martin FINALLY throws someone out as he catches Ian Kinsler. Replay shows it’s a miss. Navarro walks.

Drew gets a hit down the center. Runners on first and second.

Michael Young at bat. Ball up the middle, base hit. Navarro comes around third, but Nate McLouth throws him out from center. Great out.

Last out of the inning. Runners on second and third. Aaron Cook is having a crazy night. Announcer states that three of the last five NL outs have come at home plate. Quentin is up to bat. Ball to Guzman who makes the play at first. Three blessed outs.

Top of the Twelfth

OK NL, it’s 0026, make it happen tonight.

Ludwick at the plate against Soria. He walks to first base.

Nate McLouth puts a bunt down and MAKES IT TO FIRST SAFE. What a good call by the first base ump, that was really close. No outs, runners at first and second.

Russell Martin up now. Pushes a bunt to first, runners at second and third. One out.

The hot bat of Miguel Tejada is up, Soria intentionally walks him to load up the bases for the double play. This will put Dan Uggla up again. Oh man do I hope that the last double play was just setting up for this great game-winning hit. Uggla’s great at the walk-off in Florida, please let us take this now.

Dan steps up. Swinging strike one. My heart thumps yet again for this game. He watches a beautiful strike two. Uggla strikes out. Damn.

Francona comes out to swap in George Sherrill for the Adrian Gonzalez at bat.

Man…I was really hoping Dan Uggla would be able to redeem his errors. I didn’t want him to feel bad about this game. At least Hanley did a great job tonight.

Francona’s only got one pitcher left: Scott Kazmir. Gonzalez is up to bat. Two strikes right off the bat (ha ha). Strike three. We move on to the bottom of the twelfth.

Bot 12

“The Most Interesting Man in the World on Rollerblading:”

“No”

Carlos Guillen comes within two feet or so of being a game-ending home run. Guillen gets to second.

Sizemore’s dangerous bat comes up against Cook. Aaron does a questionable balk move. Ball goes to Uggla who can’t catch it, but knocks it down and sends it to first. Guillen is at third. Normally a great defensive player, I think Dan is just feeling the pressure of the game, but then again, every error on the NL team has come from the Marlins, one of the weakest defenses in baseball.

Now we see Longoria at the dish yet again. Martin makes another great defensive play on a foul ball. Longoria strikes out. What luck for Aaron Cook’s first strikeout.

Cook now faces Aaron Morneau. who is intentionally walked for Ian Kinsler.

A perplexing choice, but will they also walk Kinsler? Runners at first and third for Ian. Morneau steals second. Doesn’t get a stolen base due to indifference. Ball to Guzman, tossed out at first.

Wright, Guzman, and Hart coming up.

Top of the Unlucky 13th

David Wright picks up a stick against Sherrill. Base hit on a shattered bat pop fly into center that no one can reach.

Now we see Cristian Guzman at the plate. He signs bunt, but Guzman bunts too far to Sherrill who is able to take out Wright at second.

Corey Hart steps up. Whiffs and strikes out for the second out.

The lineup gets us back to Ryan Ludwick. Sherrill runs the count to 3-0 before he throws his first strike. Ludwick wisely doesn’t swing at it, but it’s a clean fastball down the pipe. Pops up to Kinsler. Time for the bottom.

We’re Still Going? Bottom of the 13th

Here’s hoping for a 14th, even though I need to go to sleep. New Yankee Stadium is gonna have the same dimensions, which I think is pretty cool. Hopefully the feeling doesn’t change much.

Carlos Marmol gets on the mound against Dioner Navarro. Ball goes to Uggla who tosses Dioner out at first.

J.D. Drew against Marmol now. He works to a full count. Bad hop ball to Uggla, Drew makes it to first. Jeez that looks bad. Error again for Dan. All four NL errors against Marlins, three against Dan. It’s a tough break for the guy, but we all know he’s good.

Dan has set the record for most errors by any one player in an All-Star game.

By the way, Michael Young has been up to bat and he’s at a full count. Young strikes out, Drew steals second on a bad toss to Uggla. Martin tosses out a few profanities.

Carlos Quinten at the plate. This guy is dangerous. He thankfully strikes out. 14th, here we come.

Time-Wise Longest All-Star Game’s Top of the 14th Inning

I’m afraid to say it, but I can’t stay up longer than 0200 tonight. I hope it doesn’t come to that.

Sherrill pitching against McLouth. Goes back to the track, almost fools us into believing it’s a home run. He’s out.

Russell Martin up again. Pretty soon some of these guys are gonna be approaching a real nine inning game. Rest-wise it’s way better to be a starter in the All-Star game, I guess. Martin knocks one almost to the warning track getting everyone’s hopes up again.

One of the better players on the NL team steps up with Miguel Tejada. The out comes with a hit to Young tossed back to first.

Bottom of the Gruelingly Long All-Star Game’s 14th Inning

I can’t hate Evan Longoria, but I can be annoyed that he’s made me stay up this late.

Brandon Webb takes the mound for the NL against Carlos Guillen. Tejada catches a nice line drive for the first out.

So many dangerous bats on the AL. Grady Sizemore comes up against Webb. Funny thing about saving starters for the end of the game is that I feel they lack a lot of the oomph that a closer brings to these games. Starters are about the stamina, not taking these hitters out with stellar stuff. Webb totally makes me look stupid by sinking a ridiculous pitch against Sizemore and scoring the strikeout.

Webb vs. Longoria. If anyone was gonna end this, I wouldn’t mind it being him. He strikes out on a pitch in the dirt.

15th Inning…Wow. The Top

Longest ever All-Star game goes to the 15th. Will this game beat it? After making home field advantage such a huge part of the game, will Selig end the game in a tie again if Kazmir pitches too many innings?

Uggla up again against Kazmir. I don’t think Dan has historically hit well against Kazmir. Stirke out again.

Adrian Gonzalez up to bat. Francona has gone through his pitching too fast. What will he do if Kazmir racks up a huge pitch count? Fly ball to Quinten.

David Wright! Can he do it? Walked.

Guzman. Grounder. Game continues.

Bottom of the (Yippee!) 15th

Still amused by the Piniella commercial.

Brad Lidge up to pitch against Morneau. I’m seeing the wear of the long game start to take its toll against the hitters who have been in the game a lot longer. Base hit into center.

Sportscasters tell me to expect Kinsler to bunt, but he swings away. Two strikes, his bunt chance is more or less eliminated. Ryan Ludwick makes an amazing diving catch to keep the game in check. One out.

What’s gonna happen now with Navarro at bat? Base hit into Center. Men on first and second.

Oh no. J.D. Drew up to bat. Lidge seems to be pitching outside of the zone. I’m not sure I can watch another inning, my eyelids are getting quite heavy. Wild pitch kept down by Brian McCann whose entrance into the game I completely missed. Lidge issues a walk. Bases loaded.

Michael Young up to bat. Pops up to right. Will this be a sac fly? WHAT! He was totally tagged out, but he’s called safe. The streak continues with an AL win.

The ASG MVP has been named to be J.D. Drew. I, quite frankly don’t buy it. Evan Longoria’s tying RBI was way more valuable than Drew’s 2-run home run. I guess he had a lot of things happen with him throughout the game, but I just don’t see it for him. Oh well, he gets a car.

Night guys, it was a wild night. On replay, the tag was late. It was a clear win. Nice work AL, I hate you guys. See you guys tomorrow.

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