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Mixed Bag: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Apr 29th, 2010 by Dan

Waiting to get in at Citizens Bank Park

No matter how poorly my teams did or didn’t do today, nothing can match my disappointment in the Washington Capitals for losing Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs. Way to suck, guys.

28 April

NPB
Yokohama BayStars (2) at Hiroshima Carp (1). These close losses are the most heartbreaking ones. The Carp fall to 11-16-0 in fifth. At least the Swallows lost too.

Rakuten Eagles (2) at Softbank Hawks (13). This team really has a hard time winning on non-Tanaka and non-Iwakuma days. They’ve got a similar record, but I find myself more disappointed in them, for some reason. 12-18-0 in fifth.

MLB
San Diego Padres (6) at Florida Marlins (4). Another disappointing loss to the Friars. Florida goes on to face the Nationals this weekend. The Fish are actually in fourth place now with their 11-11 record.

Washington Nationals (3) at Chicago Cubs (2). Luis Atilano’s second outing goes well too. The Nats are now in third place with their 12-10 record, half a game back.

New York Yankees (8) at Baltimore Orioles (3). We knew they couldn’t beat CC. They don’t disappoint. 4-17 in last.

Oakland Athletics (3) at Tampa Bay Rays (10). Another stellar performance by Tampa Bay. This team is on a real roll this month. 16-5 in first with the Yankees 2.5 behind.

ORIOLES WIN!: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Apr 28th, 2010 by Dan

Domo-kun loves Oriole Part at Camden Yards

Even Domo-kun is happy that the Orioles won

Normally your fourth win, twenty-four games into the season, is nothing to celebrate. When you do it against the Yankees, I think you can take a minute to be proud of notching a ‘W’.

27 April

NPB
Yokohama BayStars (0) at Hiroshima Carp (3). Nothing like a shutout to brighten your day. The Carp are sitting on an 11-15-0 record in fourth, just half a game shy of passing the Swallows.

Rakuten Eagles (2) at Softbank Hawks (3). The Eagles really seem to be having trouble with the Hawks. Hopefully they can turn it around tomorrow. Rakuten’s 12-17-0 record puts it in fourth, same as the Carp.

MLB
New York Yankees (4) at Baltimore Orioles (5). Despite an error almost derailing the whole thing, I managed to attend the first Orioles home win of the season (against the Yankees, no less!). Absolutely awesome until you realize that they’ve also lost 20. Hopefully this can be a turning point for the season, but they probably won’t beat C.C. Sabathia tomorrow. 4-20 in last.

San Diego Padres (4) at Florida Marlins (1). Sloppy play helped to mar Florida’s chances last night. This takes some of the sting off of the 10-1 loss San Diego suffered last night, but hopefully Nate Robertson puts the Padres in their place tomorrow. The Fish lose second by half a game with their 11-10 record and are now tied for third.

Oakland Athletics (6) at Tampa Bay Rays (8). Not the prettiest win for Wade Davis, but a win is a win. Tampa Bay retains their stranglehold on first with their 15-5 record with a 2.5 game lead on the Yanks.

Washington Nationals (3) at Chicago Cubs (1). I’ve always known Liván Hernández was good, but he’s really coming out as the staff ace until Strasburg shows up. A stellar performance against the Cubs puts the team at 11-10, tied with the Fish for third.

Walk-Off Walk: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Apr 27th, 2010 by Dan

Chicago Cubs Kosuke Fukudome

Fukudome ALMOST hit the game-winning walk-off home run. That's enough for me to put a picture of him up today, haha.

It was a light baseball day yesterday with only two teams that matter to me playing baseball. I don’t know when it happened, but at some point in the offseason I became a Nats fan. The Marlins will always come first for me, but Washington has made a pretty good case for itself. I love an underdog and I love seeing the pieces of this team come together.

26 April

NPB
No games on Mondays!

NOTE: That’s not entirely true, but they seem to only make up rain delays on Mondays, by my count.

MLB
San Diego Padres (1) at Florida Marlins (10). Josh Johnson does what JJ does best. He doesn’t quite notch the shut out, but a complete game win is always fine by me. JJ’s slider was still hitting in the 90s in the 9th and he even helped himself out going 3-4 with 3 RBIs. What a pitcher. Florida rises to sole possession of second place with an 11-9 record, half a game back from the Phillies (who lost to San Francisco last night).

Washington Nationals (3) at Chicago Cubs (4). Is there anything more anti-climactic than the walk-off walk? The Nats couldn’t find the strike zone in the 10th and walked in the Cubs’ fourth run. Their performance was good enough that Duffy wasn’t ashamed to wear her Nats hat at the game, but it wasn’t good enough. The Nats record falls back to 0.500, 10-10, and they fall to third, half a game back from the Mets and 1.5 from the Phils. I really hope this division stays this competitive all year, I’m loving it right now.

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!

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.

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

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

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

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

Time: 1929

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

1938

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

Get the Braves dog! Chase him away!

2001

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

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

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

2008

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

The AL

Trey Hillman
Don Wakamatsu

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

NL

Joe Torre
Tony La Russa

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

AL Manager and starting lineup:

Joe Maddon (Manager, Rays)

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

NL Manager and starting lineup:

Charlie Manuel (Manager, Phillies)

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

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

2021

5 presidents giving a speech.

Obama, Bush, Bush, Carter, and Clinton.

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

2031

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

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

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

2037

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

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

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

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

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

2044

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

Top of the 1st – 2047

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Young hits it to Wright who gets the third out.

2102 Bot 1st

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

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

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

AL: 2 NL: 0

Top 2nd

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

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

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

2117 Bot 2nd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 3rd

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

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

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

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

2135 Bot 3rd

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

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

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

NL 3 – AL 2

2141 Top 4th

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

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

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

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

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

Bot 4th

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

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

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

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

2155 Top 5th

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

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

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

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

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

NL 3 – AL 3

2209 Bot 5th

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

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

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

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

Top 6th

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

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

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

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

2219 Bot 6th

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

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

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

Top 7th

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

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

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

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

2233 Bot 7th

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

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

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

2242 Top 8th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AL 4 – NL 3

Bot 8th

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

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

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

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

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

2309 Top 9th

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

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

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

2315 Bot 9

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

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

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

The streak of losses continues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Win Streak SNAPPED

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

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

Misc

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

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

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

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

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.

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?

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