SIDEBAR
»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
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.

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: State of the League – A Look at My Predictions and the Necessary Adjustments
Jul 16th, 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.

Way back on the 7th of May I published a blog post with my predictions on the way the MLB season would unfold (along with a recap of my mechanical bull and bowling experiences). How well did I do? Were the predictions spot on? Let’s take a look at the state of the league and compare it with what I thought.

AL East

Not even I could have predicted how amazingly awesome the Rays have been this season. A month in and I thought the major competition for the Rays would be the relatively unimportant Orioles. Little did I know their main competition would actually be the defending champs, the Boston Red Sox. Despite having dropped seven in a row coming into the All-Star break and losing their hold on first place, I’m fully confident that the Rays will continue to play dominant baseball all the way to the playoffs. If they don’t make it in the division due to the Red Sox, I see at least strong contention for a wild card berth.

The Red Sox are a very strong team and they will either place first or second in the AL East, based on whether or not the young Tampa team can manage to keep it together in the second half. The real wild card in the AL East is, surprisingly, the Yankees. At six games back, they’re certainly doing much worse than anticipated. For quite some time now they’ve been a second half team, so we’ll have to see what happens after the break. Can they remedy that large deficit and be competitive in the division?

Forget about the Orioles and Blue Jays. There is no way they can properly compete with three ridiculous powerhouses in the AL East.

Projected standings at the end of the year:

Rays (I really want them to win this year)
Red Sox
Yankees
Orioles
Blue Jays

AL Central

Here’s one where I was part right, but for the wrong reasons. The Twins, a team which I made almost no mention of, are especially close to first in the division, sitting only a game and a half back from the White Sox. The Tigers are further away than I thought too, sitting a whole seven games back. This division still will get more exciting and heat up, but not at all like I thought it would. The Royals and Indians are a pathetic twelve and thirteen games back, respectively, with almost no chance of actually winning. Even the Indians know that they’re a lost cause this year, after being World Series contenders last season, they’ve traded away C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers for prospects to cut their losses in the future.

The White Sox are the real story in the AL Central. They’re doing quite well and caused some to predict a Cubs vs. White Sox World Series. I’m not so sure, but they will continue to do well in their division.

Projected standings at the end of the year:

White Sox
Tigers
Twins
Royals
Indians

AL West

What a pathetically one-sided division. The Angels are a ridiculous six games up on the nearest team, the Athletics. The A’s must sense that their post-season chances have dwindled away to nothing, because they’ve just dealt away Rich Harden to the Chicago Cubs. Still, they have strong pitching and will hold on to second place in the AL West.

The Mariners are an absolute mess this season. They’ve been forced to fire management, release players, and are still TWENTY games back in the AL West. At this rate, they’ll be lucky to break a .400 win percentage. They are, without a doubt, this year’s biggest waste of money team.

Texas may have a chance to compete in the division, but it’ll take much better playing to catch up to the Angels. The release of Harden might propel them past the Athletics, but certainly not beyond Anaheim.

This is at least one division that I’ve gotten mostly right and I’m proud of that.

Projected standings at the end of the year:

Angels
Athletics
Rangers
Mariners

NL East

My favorite division, NL East, is actually shaping up to be as close and competitive as I thought it would be. After closing the gap to half a game, the Marlins fell to 1.5 games back and are now in third place behind the Mets (half a game back) and the Phillies (first place). Can it be any more tight at this point? I think not. Let’s get down to it then, after a celebratory self-pat-on-the-back about being right about two divisions so far.

I don’t think the Phils will be able to hold on for too much longer. After firing Willie Randolph as the GM, the Mets have catapulted back into a competitive position in the NL East. It may be to early to say it, but I think the Mets are back in contention in NL East this year. Can they stay above the marlins and the Phils? This I’m not so sure about.

The Marlins have gotten major pitching boosts with the return of Josh Johnson, the major league debut of Chris Volstad, and the eventual return of Anibal Sanchez after the break. As a team with remarkably weak pitching, despite its win-loss record, the Marlins are set to do much better in the second half so long as their amazing offense continues to produce runs at an AL team’s rate. Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez, Jeremy Hermida, Jorge Cantú and more have combined to give the Marlins a Major League leading 135 home runs this season. You can bet they’ll continue to do well in the second half. Many a sportscaster has lamented youth’s ability to do well in the post-season, but I say again and again, look at the 2003 Marlins World Series victory.

Oh yeah, the Braves and Nationals are also in the NL East. At sixteen games back, I think we can mostly rule out the Nationals. Despite having a strong April, they’ve continued to slip and slip this season. Miracles wouldn’t be enough to bring them a post-season berth. I can’t let my intense hatred of the Braves let me give them a fair shake either, I think they won’t really be able to make a dent in the crowded NL East.

Proposed standings at the end of the year:

Marlins
Mets
Phillies
Braves
Nationals

NL Central

Here’s another division where I didn’t do too terribly predicting. The Cubs and Cards certainly do sit at the top of the division, but the Cards are an alarming 4.5 games back with the Brewers half a game further behind at five.

I pretty much think the Cubs will be able to hold strong in this division. Their team is doing amazingly well against just about anyone in the majors, but will it be enough to end the curse? God, I hope not. I love seeing the Cubs lose every year and a World Series win would just ruin that.

The Cardinals have more or less reached their limit, so they won’t do much against the Cubs, but the Brewers could stand a chance now that they’ve added Sabathia to their starting rotation. We’ll see what happens between these three teams, but I’d more or less rule out the Pirates, Reds, and Astros. None of those three teams are closer than eleven games back on the Cubs and I don’t see them doing any better.

Proposed standings at the end of the year:

Cubs
Brewers
Cardinals
Reds
Pirates
Astros

NL West

We now come to the last division in baseball and one of my more incorrect predictions. The Diamondbacks are not, as I predicted, the best team in baseball. With a full ten wins less than both the Red Sox and the Cubs, they’re still managing to stand strong at the top of the NL West, but not with as much dominance as the earlier parts of the season. The undefeatable Brandon Webb was dealt his first loss by everyone’s favorite Marlins and hasn’t really pulled together many wins since then. That being said, they’re still a strong team, but they’ll have to work hard to stay ahead of the Dodgers who are currently one game back.

L.A. can definitely be strong this season, but I’m not sure they can knock out the Diamondbacks. Those are really the only two teams that can possibly compete in the West though, since the Rockies, Padres, and Giants will never be able to mount a proper offensive unless they have one of those amazing streaks that the Rockies had last year. I’m pretty sure the Diamondbacks will be the team to watch in this division.

Proposed standings at the end of the year:

Diamondbacks
Dodgers
Rockies
Giants
Padres

So that’s that, let’s see how my well predictions have done come October. I’m gonna hold off on World Series team predictions until, at the very earliest, the playoffs, since at this point it would just be a wild guess.

Now let’s see the All-Star game recap in the next post.

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: 2nd =[ and the MLB All-Star Game
Jun 4th, 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.

As I write this, something terrible has occurred: The Marlins are sitting in second place in their division, 1.5 games behind the :shudder: Philadelphia Phillies. “How could such a tragedy happen?” I can hear you all ask. The answer is pretty simple, the Fish have gone two for five in the last seven games they’ve been on the road. As I said before, this road trip would be a true test, and we’re not really passing it. We dropped two to the Mets, two to those dastardly Phillies, and this most recent game on Monday to Atlanta (remember, I’m writing this on Tuesday). Really, our only strong hope is to pick up these next three games against Atlanta and hope the Phillies cool off a bit on their homerun nonsense.

There are a couple of other big reasons why we haven’t been winning, but they all ultimately boil down to defensive mistakes on both the mound and the field. The Marlins are tied for first with the Pittsburgh Pirates for the most errors committed on-field (49) and are 22nd (of 30) with an Earned Run Average of 4.46 compared to the league high of 3.32 held by the Blue Jays (really?). In at least two of these last seven games, I distinctly remember watching the Marlins either come from behind or have a lead and lose it near the end of the game to end up with another loss. I think I’ve also seen another stat around somewhere that the Marlins have one of the lowest run differentials (scored vs. scored against) in the MLB and certainly the lowest among top teams in each of the divisions.

With all that thrown out there, I don’t think the Marlins are headed for a losing season all of a sudden. They’re still playing with one of the strongest offenses in the game after all, they’ve just got to turn the defense up a notch. Hopefully we’ll see some help with the starting pitching soon when Anibal Sanchez gets off of the DL and starts pitching again.

At any rate, it’s still cool to see the Marlins in a decently secure (if they don’t choke against the Braves) second place and to still have the Tampa Bay Rays standing proud atop the AL East a whole 1.5 games ahead.

I hope you’re all excited about the All-Star game coming up in just under five weeks. So far it seems that the Marlin’s own Hanley Ramirez might technically be the first Marlin to be selected to play for the NL All-Star team. The only other Marlin to ever play for the team was Gary Sheffield, who was traded to the Marlins rather close to the deadline in 1993 and received most of his votes while playing for the San Diego Padres. This would be a huge honor for the shortstop considering that Marlins fans probably contribute the least votes to the All-Star ballot (with their MLB-leading lowest attendance), yet he’s still in the lead (by only 8000 votes, but still in the lead). Now if only we could get Chase Utley to stop being so awesome, we might get Dan Uggla in as the NL second baseman…

EDIT: The Marlins finally snapped their losing streak with a 6-4 win against the Braves this afternoon. We love you Hanley!

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: Bowling, Mechanical Bulls, Standings and Predictions
May 7th, 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.

Free bowling last night at the lanes in Helen Newman. I’ll be the first guy to say that I’m not a great bowler at all. I oftentimes don’t even break 100 in my score and last night was no different. It took me a while to find my bowling groove as I threw countless gutter balls in my 81 point first game, but once I figured out the best way for me to throw the ball (cannon it down the lane to give it less time to veer), I started doing a little better, finishing off the night with 96. The highlight of the night had to be Steph’s tenth frame turkey. She’s a little better than I am…

Another little quickie, the crew at Noyes brought some Moe’s food and a mechanical bull to the outdoor basketball courts this past Monday. My sore thighs will tell you that I got on that sucker three times, with a top time of 32 seconds before being bucked off. The highlight was, without a doubt, Nolan’s bull ride where he almost fell off and held on to the bull for at least ten seconds at about a 90 degree angle to the saddle. If you want to see some great pics of the bull, check out Facebook, there are a bunch up of us.

Almost as if to keep me from looking bad in this column this week, the Marlins have regained the first place position they lost during their series against the L.A. Dodgers. Their 3-0 win against the Brew-Crew pushed them into a two-way tie for first with the Phillies who lost last night to the phenomenally good Arizona Diamondbacks. Any time that NL East guys go to play the D-Backs I cheer for the inevitable losses they will suffer, but I know that these losses will probably hit the Marlins at some point soon, which almost makes them not count. Let’s not bother with that for now though, I’m just happy to keep seeing the Marlins near the top.

The American League exploded a week ago, with an unprecedented three-way tie between the Orioles, Rays, and Red Sox. Far from being the uncompetitive, under 0.500 team they have been since their beginnings in 1998, the Tampa Bay Rays are a game up on the Yankees and 3.5 back on the Red Sox in second place in the AL East.

AL Central has a surprising first place team in the Minnesota Twins, topping both the White Sox and Indians. The good ‘ol Tigers are still 3.5 games back, but are actually approaching the 0.500 no thanks to their abysmal April. AL West has the Angels on top with the Athletics right behind, light years ahead of the Rangers and Mariners who are both a pathetic 7.5 games back.

The National League is looking a bit more like what you’d expect it to look like (aside from the Fish tied for first in NL East) with the Diamondbacks a whole three games up on the Dodgers in NL West and the Cardinals 2.5 above the Cubbies in NL Central.

My standings predictions based on my limited baseball knowledge:

– The Cards and Cubs will keep competing for top in NL Central with only moderate competition from the Brewers
– The NL East will stay in a state of flux, at least until the All-Star break. If the Marlins are still holding strong even halfway through the season (Anibal Sanchez will be back!), it could stay tight until the Fall
– AL East will proceed in a more predictable fashion. Even under different management, the Yankees won’t be content in third for too much longer and the Red Sox will remain as dominant as they typically are. Tampa Bay and Baltimore will have to work their butts off to fight for second, unless the Red Sox and Yankees knock each other down the standings. Of course, this is what happened to the O’s and Rays when they were tied for first. The Rays are very hot though, I’d put my money on them over the Orioles at least until the All-Star break.
– AL Central has the potential to be the most exciting division of them all. The Tigers have finally found their game, the White Sox will put up a good fight, Cleveland will continue to be a strong team this year, and the Royals are under new, stronger management. The worst standings in the division (Tigers) are only 3.5 games back. This will make for an interesting year for AL Central fans unless one of the teams awakens into a dominant force and starts to control the division.
– AL West has all but been decided. The Angels and A’s will battle it out, but the A’s haven’t been a post-season team in God knows how long. No matter how well their season finishes, they just always collapse in October. Still, it’s definitely an impressive team. Hope that the Mariners and Rangers put something together, for Christ’s sake, or this will be the most boring division in baseball…
– The Diamondbacks will continue to be the best team in baseball for the foreseeable future. NL West is theirs to rule over as they see fit. San Francisco’s team is garbage with a weak offense and bad pitching :cough: Barry Zito :cough:, San Diego’s not gonna put up a fight, and the Rockies were a flash in the pan last post-season. The Dodgers are the only competition for the D-Backs, making this truly a one-sided division.

EDIT: I just wanted to add in that Micah Owning’s (a Diamondback and starting pitcher against the Phillies tonight) pinch hit home run last Wednesday was pretty sweet. Before you say “big deal,” remember one thing: Micah Owning is a PITCHER. There are even rumblings of including him in this year’s Home Run Derby

»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa