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Archive for the ‘MLB’ Category

Steroids And The Hall Of Fame: A Study In Wimps And Nerds

Posted by Charlie Hustle on February 26, 2009

Steroid scandals are at a fever pitch. Headlines regarding Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have been replaced with Alex Rodriguez, as the world turns

However, with new steroid policies in place preventing current players from using Performance Enhancing Drugs, the focus is more on how to punish the players who used to use them.

The punishment? Withhold Hall of Fame inductions to steroid users.

The jury?

ray-ratto

That’s right. Your local nonathletic wimp sports writers.

Turn on any morning edition of Mike & Mike and you’ll hear the venom spewing from “seam-heads” like Mike Greenberg and Buster Olney. These are the self-proclaimed Defenders of the Faith, guarding the walls of the Hall of Fame from cheaters and steroid abusers.

After all, these sports writers are the decision-makers when it comes to the Hall of Fame and nobody is getting in their club unless they say so.

To fully grasp this scenario, one must understand the sports writer in his most basic form concerning 3 important facts.

1. He has always and will continue to be terrible at sports.

mitch_albom_1167163953122674 kornheiser dan_shaughnessy

Let’s face facts here folks. Do you honestly believe these fellows ever made a team they tried out for… ever?

These guys have never had an athletic bone in their body. Which would initially be a curse since their sole purpose was always a love of sports. So they had devise a way to be “part of the team.” They had to be included in the action. So they grabbed a pen and pad and headed to the press box – the sanctuary for mustaches, done-laps disease, and former gym coaches. Or any combination above.

2. He insists anyone who plays the game should appreciate “The History of the Game.”

Buster Olney and Tim Kurkjian are proud as peaches to announce every night on SportsCenter that the last time there was an unassisted triple play and somebody ate 10 ice cream cones in the dugout was in 1927 during a game between the Oakland Hitler Mustaches and the Philadelphia Bicycles With One Big Wheel and One Small Wheels.

The first compliment they always tell about Mike Tyson in his prime, or Lebron James, is that he studies the history of the game. And who teaches this history? Former jock strap washers like Mitch Albom.

moustache vs.  old-bicycle-t10100

3. Everything must be fair.

This rule is by far the most prevalent. Sports writers are the kings of fair play. They are the dads that insist that their son is the next Ricky Henderson when he steals 2nd base in a rec league game where the catcher can’t even throw the ball from Home to 2nd in the first place.

In fact, there is no doubt that they could regale you with stories of their epic stab at shortstop against their rival newspaper’s softball team (I’ve been around sports writers my whole life, and trust me, I’ve heard too many of these to count.)

softball-dude

They love to criticize overprotective parents, but that’s exactly how they act when it comes to their first child, baseball.

Have a player who’s bigger and better than the rest of the kids and won’t let him play? Little League Pitcher Banned From Play Because He’s Too Good

Sure Kornheiser, make fun of these lames but have this kid pitch in the Little League World Series:  Ex-Little Leaguer – Danny Almonte – Plays In Altus

UNFAIR!

All-star teams that kids can’t all play in?

Laugh it up… oh those overreacting parents: Little League Cancels All-Star Game To Spare Children’s Feelings

Barry Bonds hit in the home run contest? NO CHANCE!

Obviously, these over-reacting parents and the sportswriters are from the same FAIRness gene pool.

Solutions you ask?

The solution seems to me to have people who actually PLAYED the game deciding who gets into the Hall of Fame.

Dan Shaugnessy and Bob Ryan deciding who should get in the HoF because they watch more games is like having your local couch potato stoner draw the next episode of Family Guy because he just capped off 8 seasons on DVD without blinking while on a bad acid trip.

stoner

Sure he may remember each episode, but he doesn’t know anymore on how to draw Peter and Stewie than Mike Greenberg does about swinging a bat.

If we take away their right to choose who gets in the HoF, perhaps baseball writers will be a little more reticent to reel off self-righteous speeches about how “they don’t want to take their son to the Hall of Fame and explain what steroids are.”

If that’s the case then it shouldn’t be much easier to explain why Babe Ruth only played against white players, or why Mickey Mantle played centerfield drunk on scotch with a pack of Lucky Strikes rolled up in his sleeve.

For my two cents, I’d rather explain to my son why his hero became strong and powerful instead of why he died of liver disease.

And as for Mike Greenberg and Tony Kornheiser taking their kids to the HoF, who doesn’t know the history of the game, who just struck out four times in little league, I can only imagine that trip to Cooperstown with those self-righteous wimps and nerds sounds a little like this…

Little Jimmy Greenberg: Dad my favorite player is Alex Rodriguez!

Mike Greenberg: OOOOOOOOHHH GOOOOOOOOOODD!?!?!?!?!?

— Charlie Hustle

Posted in MLB | 3 Comments »

Reds Report One Coffey Short Of A Krispy Kreme Combo

Posted by Matt on February 16, 2009

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For the first time since Spring Training 2004, the Reds’ pitchers and catches reported early on Saturday and were short one Toddy Coffey, or rather were one Todd Coffey lighter.  240 pounds lighter, to be exact.

Cincinnati designated Big Red for assignment on September 9th of last year and the Brewers signed him off waivers one day later.  It is hard to put in to words how exciting it is for me and Charlie Hustle to see a Reds’ roster Coffey-less in camp for the first time in a long time.  It wasn’t that Todd was Eric Milton-bad but he wasn’t that good either, posting a 4.62 ERA in just over 206 innings for the Red Legs, and his “trademarked” sprint from the Bullpen to the pitcher’s mound became more of a annoyance than a crowd-pleaser.  In addition to being obnoxious, aforementioned sprint also made no noticeable difference on his waistline.

Coffey will once again lace ’em up for the Brewers in 2009 in what will presumably be his first full season for the franchise assuming he can make it to the end of the year on their active roster.  Milwaukee, known for their tasty brews, should be a good fit for Todd where that beer belly will feel right at home.

Posted in Cincinnati Reds, MLB | Comments Off on Reds Report One Coffey Short Of A Krispy Kreme Combo

Bowden: ‘I Wish I Knew How To Quit You’

Posted by Matt on February 15, 2009

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The Washington Nationals signed free-swinger Adam Dunn to a 2-year, $20,000,000 dollar contract this week, or approximately $60,606 per strikeout.  The signing reunites Dunn with former Reds running mates Austin Kearns and Wily Mo Pena, a trio of outfielders who all played ball for my hometown Dayton Dragons before making their way through the Reds system under the tenure of then-Reds GM Jim Bowden.  I am glad to see The Donkey staying with the National League, though, so we can all continue to be witness to his fielding prowess in the outfield.

witness2

Between Dunn, Kearns, and Pena along with Dmitri Young, Felipe Lopez, Aaron Boon, and Corey Patterson, it is beginning to look like Bowden has a penchant for pillaging the table scraps of the perpetually sub-.500 Red Legs.  I guess the more things change the more they stay the same.  In Bowden’s defense, Dunn is a virtual lock for exactly 40 home runs, 100 rbis, 110 walks, 165 strike outs, and an obp of .386 each and every year.

I guess there’s something to be said about consistency these days.  Even if it’s not all that impressive.

Linkage: ESPN.com

Posted in Cincinnati Reds, MLB | Comments Off on Bowden: ‘I Wish I Knew How To Quit You’

Radomski Finds HGH Receipt Under TV; Also Finds Two Cheetos, A Nickel

Posted by Matt on July 16, 2008

“See, it was right here all along…”

Noted street pharmacist and former New York Mets lackey, Kirk Radomski, allegedly found a receipt on Sunday night after moving a broken television set from his dresser that documents the shipping of human growth hormone to the home of Roger Clemens.

“My TV broke and I said, ‘Damn, I got to get it off the dresser,'” Radomski said Wednesday. “And it was right there.”

Great story, Kirk.  I, too, like to curse and dictate to myself what I am going to do before I do it:  “Shiiit, I GOTTA cook these pork and beans!”

The receipt-in-question allegedly proves what the investigators have known from day one, but had yet to find documented proof: that Clemens received a shipment of HGH from Radomski on at least on occasion, of which The Rocket denies.  The receipt was found under the now-infamous broken television set along with “seven or eight other receipts.”

An interesting twist if true;  however, if I had to guess — and you know I do — the receipt was never “missing” under some dresser-top television set.  No, it has been filed away this entire time for safe keeping in the ‘Screw Clemens’ file until it could be used at a later date and time to incriminate Clemens on cheating AND perjury, blowing The Rocket’s case completely to hell.

Well played, K-Rad.  Well. Played.

Linkage: ESPN.com

Posted in MLB | Tagged: | Comments Off on Radomski Finds HGH Receipt Under TV; Also Finds Two Cheetos, A Nickel

Naturally Speaking, It Was Hamilton’s Night

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on July 15, 2008

In my 20 years as a baseball fan, ten of those as your favorite neighborhood sports columnist in Cooper-Young, Whitehaven, and now North Highland Park, I have been witness to some of the most memorable moments in the annual All-Star Home Run Derby.

In 1994, as a scrawny 9 year-old, I watched Frank Thomas knock the cover off the ball at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium in the Home Run Derby only to see a month later that the players, unlike me, cared more about having a money line longer than Lil’ Wayne’s dreads than playing the game they loved.

There was the All-Star festivities in 1998 in which Mark McGwire, Ken Griffey, Jr, and my favorite player of all time, Jim Thome, went toe-to-toe at Coors Field in a battle that was to be won by Griffey.

And there was the tape measure shot that I remember seeing Sosa hit back in 2002 at Miller Park in Milwaukee, something that I myself would copy in a sandlot baseball game in Whitehaven a week later when I hit one that went over everything and into the pool in the apartment complex I lived in.

But along with Bobby Abreu’s 2005 HR Derby win and the improbable title that was won by Garrett Anderson in 2003, last night’s Home Run Derby, the first and last to be held in historic Yankee Stadium, was something straight out of a Disney movie.

As many of us know, Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton was drowning in a sea of drugs and alcohol a couple of years ago, this after being drafted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays as a #1 draft pick in 1998 and on the verge of potentially being one of the best young stars in the game.

After years of abuse, Hamilton straightened himself up with the help of his family and had a decent rookie season with the Cincinnati Reds in 2007, only to be shipped to Texas before this season. Hamilton entered the All-Star break with the fourth most RBIs of any player in baseball history, earning him a trip to Yankee Stadium for his first All-Star Game.

On Monday night, Hamilton, with the help of his former coach, gave the Yankee Stadium faithful one more moment to bask in before it heads into the memory bank of every baseball fan by hitting a record 28 homers, including three 500-foot bombs in right and 13 in a row.

How about that?

In an article that was published by USA TODAY, Hamilton said that one of his dreams was to be in the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium and use it as a sounding board to the world about the hole that God brought him out of  despite all the dark nights and lonely roads that he went through to get here and to say on baseball’s biggest stage, hope was never lost.

It’has always been there.

Posted in MLB | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

This One Is For Josh

Posted by Matt on July 14, 2008

My prediction to win the Home Run Derby is also the player I am rooting for 100%, former Cincinnati Red Josh Hamilton.

On reason — the one of which is obvious — is Hamilton’s past addiction problems and the great success story he has become.  This article from USA Today sums up Hamilton’s new lease on life almost perfectly and because of this I feel he will not only be the best swinger in the field but also the most excited and grateful to be there.

“I’ve had so many dreams, so many nightmares that made me so scared,” says Hamilton, the Texas Rangers’ center fielder, “but there was always one that kept me going … gave me hope.

“It was making the All-Star Game, and being at the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium, and having the platform to tell my story.”

Besides the determination that 33 months of sobriety takes, Hamilton’s sheer physical presence and talent should vault him to the Home Run Derby leaderboards as long as he does not get cold feet in the New York City limelight.

Says Rangers shortstop Michael Young: “Nobody can hit balls as far as he can. You’ll see it in the Derby. It’s over.”

I am looking forward to seeing Hamilton attain his ultimate goal in life at the Home Run Derby and All Star Game, completing a personal come back from the bottomless pit of drug and alcohol addiction.  Josh Hamilton is the greatest story being told in baseball today and it is a story being written on a daily basis.  When the adrenaline gets going tonight in Yankee Stadium, expect balls to be flying off of the bat of #32.

“I’m proof that hope is never lost.” – Josh Hamilton

Linkage: USA Today, ESPN.com

Posted in MLB | Tagged: | Comments Off on This One Is For Josh

Who Is Your National League All Star Starter?

Posted by Matt on July 8, 2008

Editor’s Note: Discuss this article NOW over at ACC vs. SEC! – Who Is Your National League All Star Starter?

The start of the calendar week on Sunday marked the release of the 2008 MLB All Star game rosters and defensive starters. What was not announced, however, was the starting pitchers for each team — a decision to be made by the teams’ respective managers — and when it comes to the National League the decision is going to be tough.

Tim Lincecum of the Giants and the Reds’ Edinson Volquez are currently the clear-cut leaders to land the starting job with some distance between them and the rest of a pack that includes early favorite Brandon Webb, who has faltered as of late along with his Diamondbacks.

Volquez will presumably start one more game for the Reds before the All Star break while Lincecum will have two starts beginning with tonight’s game on the road against the New York Metropolitans, giving each pitcher 19 starts heading in to the Mid-Summer Classic and one last chance to state their case.

So who will it be, Tim Lincecum or Edinson Volquez?

Wins: Volquez (11)/Lincecum (10)

The Reds’ ace has one more win than does Lincecum but he also has one more start. If Volquez can win his next start with Lincecum splitting his next two, it is possible that the two pitchers head in to the All Star game with nearly identical records.

  • Advantage: Volquez

Losses: Lincecum (1)/Volquez (3)

Lincecum has two fewer losses in one less start while the San Francisco Giants have scored 17 fewer runs than the Reds on the season. It should be noted that both pitchers’ teams went 2-3 for the games Edinson and Tim pitched to no decisions.

  • Advantage: Lincecum

ERA: Volquez (2.36)/Lincecum (2.49)

Volquez has given up three fewer earned runs (29 to 32) in one more start and both pitchers have given up a total of 36 runs on the season, earned and otherwise.

  • Advantage: Volquez

WHIP: Lincecum (1.24)/Volquez (1.25)

Walks and hits per inning pitch is somewhat of pitching’s equivalent to Moneyball’s on-base percentage for hitters and is yet another remarkably close statistical category for these two pitchers. Though the numerical advantage may go to Lincecum, the numbers say Volquez is only giving up 1 more hit OR walk per 100 at bats. Astonishingly close.

  • Advantage: Lincecum

Strikeouts: Lincecum (122)/Volquez (116)

Lincecum obviously has more strikeouts in one less start than Edinson, although Volquez was shaping up to be the early favorite for the strikeout crown at the end of the season. The difference calculates out to nearly a full strikeout more per start for Lincecum.

  • Advantage: Lincecum

Division Strength (Combined Winning % Of Division): Volquez (.517)/Lincecum (.447)

The preseason lemon in the National League has quickly become the crown jewel on the backs of the Chicago Cubs, Saint Louis Cardinals, and Milwaukee Brewers, three teams that also happen to have the top three records in the National League. The winning percentages were calculated taking in to account total wins and losses for each team in their respective divisions without strictly looking at total wins considering the West has one fewer team — skewing total wins perpetually in favor of the Central Division.

  • Advantage: Volquez

Overall: Volquez (3 advantages)/Lincecum (3 advantages)

Statistics aside, I believe Edinson may get the start by default considering Lincecum will start twice before the All Star game, with his second coming just a couple of days before the Mid-Summer Classic; however, statistically speaking the race to become the National League starter for the 2008 All Star game is still a dead heat.

Volquez’s ERA and WHIP is better overall when you consider he’s had to play an additional game but that fact also makes Lincecum’s wins and strikeouts stand out. Although Volquez clearly plays in a tougher division, not all of his starts came against divisional opponents and his team has also been privy to more run support than has Lincecum’s this season.

The advantages thus far are tied at three and it is virtually a statistical tie between the pitchers; however, to avoid taking the easy way out and calling it a tie overall or to avoid taking a wait-and-see approach I will man up and offer my opinion:

  • Advantage: Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati Reds — YOUR National League All Star starting pitcher

…and yes, I am a homer.

Posted in MLB | Tagged: | Comments Off on Who Is Your National League All Star Starter?

OUCH

Posted by Matt on July 2, 2008

Down for the count.

There are few reasons for sending Major League Baseball players to the Disabled List that actually make me physically uncomfortable. Obviously compound fractures — you know, where the bone shoots through…gross — and being plunked in the face with a Randy Johnson fastball are just about the only injuries that come to mind when I think of the worst of the worst.

Until I heard about Chris Snyder’s injury.

The Diamondback’s catcher was placed on the Disabled List yesterday with what is being diagnosed as a fractured left testicle. And yes, you read that correctly: he freakin’ broke his balls, man.

I have no idea what a testicle fracture is but I cannot even begin to tell you the amount of pain that shoots through my body when I try to discern what this injury might entail. I’m talking being-tazed-in-the-throat-while-forced-to-watch-Rosie O’Donnell Show reruns pain.

Snyder’s current situation is almost as severe as having to be placed on the Bereavement List for a death in the family; seriously, my condolences go out to Chris.

Linkage: azcentral.com

Posted in MLB | Tagged: | Comments Off on OUCH

Dysfunctional Isn’t The Word For The Mets, Disorganized Is

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on June 19, 2008

Being that I was born in 1984, fifteen years after the Mets’ improbable World Series Championship and two years before their last, I can remember all too well about some of the highs and lows of the Mets in my lifetime.

There was the 1993 season in which the Mets, despite having one of the biggest payrolls in baseball, became the epitome of failed promises and a lousy pitcher in Anthony Young.

The 2006 season in which my Cardinals, despite the fact they had 83 wins, shocked the world by beating a Mets team that could have won the World Series to win their 17th National League Championship.

And then last year’s colossal collapse, a collapse that by no means was the fault of Willie Randolph, and yes, I’m a black guy typing these words.

But while I believed in my heart the Mets should have went on and fired Randolph after the season last year, I thought for a second that the Mets would come out the gate swinging since they picked up Johan Santana in the offseason and that the last few weeks of the 2007 season was nothing more than a memory.

But I, despite the fact that I’m a Cardinals fan and am witnessing a ragtag bunch of guys that came up in the farm system for us have an incredible season, was sold a dream with a side of cole slaw and mashed potatoes when it came to the Mets.

Instead of ruling the National League East, the Mets without question have underachieved this year; underachieved to the point in which Tuesday morning while we were all sleeping, the Mets organization decides to fire Randolph after winning their series opener against the Angels in Anaheim.

In the axing, pitching coach Rick Peterson was also let go after having one of the worst pitching staffs in the National League but not third-base coach Sandy Alomar, Sr., who has done no favors for the team since he’s been on the staff.

The timing of this, if not the action done by the organization, has led me to think the same thing when it comes to the New York Mets.

Disorganization.

How can any organization, be it in the MLB or any bush league, do something like this?

You fly your manager out to the West Coast, who in turns gets you a win, and then in the middle of the night, you fire him.

Firing is part of sports, just like it is part of life.

You have to perform in order to receive a check or else they’re going to find someone else to do your job for you.

But while most places will fire you and have some courtesy behind it, this latest bungle by the Mets is another reason why they, unlike the Cardinals or even the Cubs, will always be the worst team money can buy.

That is, until the Wilpons sell the team or until they see a sea of empty seats at the brand-new Citi Field.

Oops, spoke too far in the future.

Posted in MLB | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

People Can’t Count

Posted by Bob Swerski on June 12, 2008

I’m sick of people saying that it has been a century of losing for the Chicago Cubs. Every single sports writer and/or blogger and/or sports fan has talked about the Cubs and referred to it as 100 years of losing. Since the Cubs last won the World Series in 1908, starting there I shall count the years in which the Cubs have lost since then.

09,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,

43,44,45,46,47,48,49,50,51,52,53,54,55,56,57,58,59,60,61,62,63,64,65,66,67,68,69,70,71,72,73,74,75,76,

77,78,79,80,81,82,83,84,85,86,87,88,89,90,91,92,93,94,95,96,97,98,99,00,01,02,03,04,05,06,07.

I only count 99 numbers there… So it has apparently only been 99 seasons of losing and not 100. Even if you claim that “they haven’t won since 1908,” you would have to count ’08 and you still can’t consider it 100 years until October 10, 2008. You wouldn’t consider the Red Sox as not having won in a year because they are reigning champions. Considering that logic, it only makes sense that the Cubs have this year and next year to win the World Series before it genuinely becomes 100 seasons of losing. At worst they have until the end of this year.

Since they are going to finally win this year, it apparently is a moot point.

Posted in MLB | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Junior Griffey Swings In To History

Posted by Matt on June 9, 2008

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Ken Griffey, Junior has forever inscribed his name in the annals of history after sending his 600th career home run to its normal right field landing strip.  Junior becomes just the sixth person in the history of Major League Baseball to reach the 600 home run plateau behind Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Sammy “Say It Ain’t” Sosa with a first inning, two-run bomb off of Florida Marlin Mark Hendrickson.  Unfortunately the landmark home run came in front of a mere 12 fans at Dolphin Stadium in the last game of an extensive eight game road stand and had he waited just one more game, he would’ve had nine straight home games to reach 600 in from a larger, more appreciative home crowd starting tomorrow.

There is something to be said for Junior’s success with the recent injury-plaugued seasons he’s had to go along with the advent of the “Steroid Era” in baseball — a movement Griffey’s name has NEVER been linked to.  I fully attribute Ken’s growing list of injuries to both his years spent on the carreer-shortening Astroturf in Seattle as well as him being presumably steroid free throughout his career.  I would love to know where Junior would be on the all time home run list had he’d stayed healthy his entire career as I firmly believe he would be sitting somewhere between 650-675 career home runs and on pace to possibly challenge Barry Bonds at the top.

Griffey is as much of a class act as there comes and a rare talent with the sweetest swing we may ever see.  I feel nobody in Major League Baseball right now deserves this accomplishment more than #3 and my congratulations go out to Donora, Pennsylvania’s own Ken Griffey, Junior.

Posted in Cincinnati Reds, MLB | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Benson Needs A Lesson

Posted by Bob Swerski on June 7, 2008

Cedric Benson needs to take a lesson from Lance Briggs about how to avoid getting a DUI. 

In all seriousness, it is time for the Chicago Bears and Cedric Benson to say arrivederci.  In only 2 months now, Benson has been arrested for boating while intoxicated (who knew that was a crime), and driving while intoxicated.  While he didn’t need to be pepper sprayed in this incident, he was thrown into jail and is currently out after visiting Chico’s Bail Bonds.  Benson has denied all charges, much like everyone else in his situation would do (He doesn’t look drunk in the picture above, does he?).  Here is a letter which I am sending Cedric:

Dear Mr. Benson,

You avoid the law like you avoid the opposing defense.  Which might be why you can’t seem to get any yards.  Have fun in prison and say hi to Tank Johnson for me.

Your’s Truly,

Bob

P.S.  You suck.

Posted in MLB | Tagged: , | Comments Off on Benson Needs A Lesson

My Cubs Are Better Than (Insert Your Team Here)

Posted by Bob Swerski on June 2, 2008

That’s right folks, my Cubs are on a 7 game win streak (As of noon on Monday, June 2.) and currently sport the best record in Major League Baseball. The last time the Cubs had the best record at the start of June was in 1908, and we all remember what happened that year… The Cubbies won the World Series. Now I’m not predicting a World Series Championship… wait a minute, yes I am. THE CUBS WILL WIN THE WORLD SERIES!!!

P.S. The Cardinals still suck.

P.S.S. Apparently porn stars love the Cubs.

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MLB First Quarter Power Ten

Posted by Matt on May 13, 2008

Editor’s Note: Discuss this article NOW over at ACC vs. SEC! – MLB First Quarter Power Ten

**Thanks goes to Condo for assistance on these rankings!**

By my rough estimation — and I do mean rough — today marks the end of the first quarter of Major League Baseball’s regular season. Now that the smoke is beginning to clear, the landscape of the league is beginning to take hold. Thus, I bring you the ‘First Quarter Power Ten’:

On the outside looking in: Philadelphia Phillies (21-18), New York Mets (19-17), Los Angeles Dodgers (19-18).

10. Minnesota Twins (20-17): The #10 spot was tough with the Phillies lurking but a divisional leader couldn’t be left out of the Power Ten no matter how bad their division is playing overall. The Twins are 7-3 in their last ten but many expected the American League Central to be far more competitive than it has been thus far.

9. Houston Astros (22-17): There really isn’t a National League Central bias to this list, I promise. The Astros are a top five run-scoring team and are jockeying for position with the big dogs of their division in the Cubs and Cardinals. Also, being 9-1 in their last ten helps.

8. Florida Marlins (23-15): Some people may plead for the Marlins to be higher considering they are tied with the best winning percentage in ‘The Bigs’ but we have to remember, it is the Marlins. They average less in attendance per home game than the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team and their 2008 team salary of $21,836,500 is roughly $6,000,000 less than what Alex Rodriguez makes for one season. They are playing good now, but can they sustain it?

7. Los Angeles Angels (23-17): The Angels are still among the lead leaguers in runs scored despite Vladimir Guerrero only notching four RBIs since April 14th. The Angels are only a half of a game behind the division-leading Athletics and are just a few games shy of .600 baseball. When John Lackey returns to full health and Vlad returns to his old self, beware of the Angels.

6. Tampa Bay Rays (22-16): Some will argue the Rays don’t deserve to be this high as they are not knocking down the statistical record books and they are also still the Rays, a team that has never finished with a winning record and has never befre been six games above .500 until now. However, Tampa Bay is getting it done thanks in part to pitching and, more specifically, their Bullpen. The Rays are only half of a game back of the Boston Redsox in arguably baseball’s toughest division in any year.

5. Saint Louis Cardinals (23-17): I am really not trying to drink the red Kool-Aid of the Cards, mainly because they are a divisional rival of the Reds and I pretty much hate them. However, without Isringhausens’ five blown saves the Cardinals are 28-12 and sporting the best record in baseball by a long shot.

4. Okland Athletics (23-16): I make no bones about my love for Billy Beane around here along with his ‘more for less’ mentality. The A’s are leading the Majors in pitching and just picked up some guy they are calling “Big Hurt.” It may also help that the Athletics own the best team ERA in the MLB.

3. Boston Red Sox (24-17): The pitching for the Sox hasn’t been as good this year as last year with Buchholz sporting a lofty 4.50 ERA and with Beckett not being quite as dominate as in years past. But, hey, they are the Boston Red Sox and experience accounts for a lot. Plus the Sox are leading the American League in runs scored and have the most wins in the Majors.

2. Arizona Diamondbacks (23-15): The D-Backs are 5th in ERA and 2nd in batting average against, while being 3rd in runs scored and 9th in batting average in all of Major League Baseball. Oh yeah, they got that Brandon Webb guy, too (did I ever mention he’s my new hero?). And no, I don’t care that the Diamondbacks are currently on a losing streak of three games.

1. Chicago Cubs (23-15): Bob’s boys from Chi-Town are hitting well (1st overall in runs scored, 3rd in batting average) and they are pitching well (6th overall in ERA, 4th in batting average against) and all of this adds up to the Cubbies leading a surprisingly competitive National League Central — four teams at or above .500, a list that does not include my Redlegs but are you surprised?

Posted in MLB | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Brandon Webb Is My New Hero

Posted by Matt on May 8, 2008

As of Commencement this past Sunday, Brandon Webb and I now share one thing in common: we’re both alumni of the greatest university this side of Harvard, the University of Kentucky.

What we don’t share in common is our prowess on a pitching mound as Mr. Webb moved to 8-0 in eight starts for the Arizona Diamondbackes tonight after a complete game, three earned run performance against the Phillies. 

Webb is sporting an impressive 2.49 ERA while holding opposing hitters to below the Mendoza Line with an astounding .194 batting average against.  Brandon has only given up two home runs this season while striking out 41.

Brandon Webb, you sir have become my new hero and you sir are a complete bad ass.

Linkage: ESPN.com

Posted in MLB | Tagged: | 7 Comments »

Chris Hansen Would Like A Word With Clemens

Posted by Matt on April 30, 2008

“Why don’t you have a seat over there, I’d like to ask you a few questions. Try the lemonade, go ahead — help yourself. Do you know who I am? I am Chris Hansen from Dateline NBC.”

To be honest, I am not quite sure how I missed this subtle detail yesterday — and by subtle detail I mean hilarious revelation — but I blame the bourbon. However, thanks goes to loyal reader The General who pointed out that although Roger Clemens’ alleged affair with Mind McCready WAS a decade long, it supposedly started when McCready was an aspiring 15-year old singer while The Rocket was a 28-year old pitching phenom who could have had most any legal woman he wanted.

I still maintain per the Mindy mugshot from yesterday that if Clemens was going to cheat on his wife he should have at least made it worth while, and now knowing Mindy was 15 does not change that position much unless…well, you’re in to that sort of thing. If this isn’t the makings of this week’s To Catch A Predator I don’t know what is and if all of this is true then it sounds like Rog has some explaining to do.

Ahh, back-to-back Clemens posts…I really need to get out more. Did someone say bourbon?

Linkage: Daily News

Posted in MLB | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Clemens Could Have Done Better

Posted by Matt on April 29, 2008

Hands off Emmylou, Rog…you’ve already had your taste of Nashville.

Former personal trainer and glorified Andy Dick look-alike Brian McNamee has spilled the beans on Clemens’ decade-long bout of infidelity with country music singer Mindy McCready. The news is the latest in a series of mudslinging accusations between The Rocket and McNamee as part of the defamation of character suit Roger filed against Brian earlier this year.

Now I normally don’t care what people do with their own time as it is none of my business, but apparently when Clemens is suing for questioning his character we have to care. Truth be told I have lost all respect for Roger Clemens.

And not because he cheated on his wife but because it was with this:

Seriously Roger…this was the best you could do? Was Shania Twain not available?…Dude, remember, you’re THE ROCKET.

Linkage: ESPN.com

Posted in MLB | Tagged: | 6 Comments »

Barry Zito Is A Rich Loser

Posted by Matt on April 29, 2008

“I plan on winning THIS many more games while I’m a Giant.”

Just shy of a year and a half ago Barry Zito signed a very large contract for a pitcher. $126M over 7 years large. Since signing his absurd contract, Zito is a combined 11-19 for the Giants over the past two seasons including a 3 inning, 8 earned run loss in his most recent start against the Redlegs.  No, not the reigning World Champions, those Redlegs. Now, a mere 16 months later, Zito is being demoted to the Bullpen to provide the most expensive 1 inning relief appearances in Major League Baseball history.

Zito earned $10.0M last year and will earn a cool $14.5M for the 2008 season meaning the Giants paid $909,090 per win last season and, well, I would tell you how much they’ve paid per win so far this season but that whole divide by zero issue may crash the site or kill us all.

Clearly Zito’s contract may end being one of the all-time worst contracts for a pitcher, ranking way up there with the Mike Hampton debacle from a few years back. However, It is tough to feel sorry for Zito as he is getting paid a very large sum of money for being a loser.

Linkage: ESPN.com

Posted in MLB | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Cubs Go For 10,000

Posted by Bob Swerski on April 23, 2008

The Cubs are going for their 10,000 win today (Wednesday, April 23) against the Colorado Rockies. It is nice to talk about such a historic franchise and NOT talk about a record having to do with losing. There is only 1 other team to reach this historic mark, the New York/San Fran Giants. This begs the question: “How can a team that hasn’t won a championship in 100 years and hasn’t even seen the World Series since the ’40s possibly have more wins than a team like the Yankees who have 25 championships?”

The answer is that I have no idea, but it is pretty amazing.

Posted in MLB | Tagged: , | 23 Comments »

Chicks Dig The Long…Career

Posted by Matt on April 15, 2008

Editor’s Note: Discuss this article NOW over at ACC vs. SEC! – Chicks Dig The Long…Career

The now-42-year-old Greg Maddux won his 349th game on Sunday — a day before his birthday — in a 5.0 inning outing against his former hotel stop, the Los Angeles Dodgers. I admittedly couldn’t stand Maddux when he was an Atlanta Brave and, to be truthful, I couldn’t so much as stand John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Steve Avery or, well, any of the Braves either during their run of domination in the 1990s and early 2000s.

But I will also admit that the longer a player most pundits describe as a “class act” continues to perform at high levels in years long after he should be able to, the more I tend to like and respect that player. I think this is the case for most other sports fans and is best outlined most recently with the Brett Favre Love Fest this past NFL season. Most people — myself included — want to see just how long a particular player can continue on at a successful and high professional level past the 40-year-old plateau.

What is more remarkable about Maddux, however, is that he has been taking care of business with unparalleled consistency and durability since 1988, his third year in the league after entering as a rookie in 1986 with the Chicago Cubs, and with a fastball that only tops out around 47 MPH. The “Chicks Dig The Long Ball” commercial for Nike may have vaulted Maddux in to mainstream baseball popularity and 349 wins is an impressive feat, but a quit look at his season-by-season statistics tell the real story:

21 consecutive seasons with 25, or more, starts. 20 consecutive seasons with 198, or more, innings pitched. 20 consecutive seasons with 14, or more, wins. 14 total seasons with an ERA at, or below, 3.50. And all of this while sporting a career winning percentage of .620 with four different teams.

That is durability, that is consistency, and that is longevity.

Greg Maddux may very well be the greatest pitcher of my lifetime and he has acquired this designation without over powering size or power, but with unmatched control and a cerebral approach to the game of baseball. Maddux is a man among boys on the baseball mound in what has come to be known as “the steroid era” in Major League Baseball and all in a frame barely six feet tall and barely 170 pounds.

Greg Maddux’s career is simply amazing and though chicks may in fact dig the long ball, they also dig the long career.

Linkage:

Yahoo! Sports

Baseball Reference

Posted in MLB | Tagged: | 6 Comments »

A Red Observation

Posted by Matt on April 9, 2008

For the love of God, can somebody PLEASE teach Adam Dunn how to slap one down the 3rd Base line?!?!  Everytime I listen to a Reds radio broadcast, when Adam Dunn comes to bat all that I ever hear is:

“The defense has put the shift on Adam Dunn, the Shortstop is playing directly behind 2nd Base and the 3rd Baseman is playing where the Shortstop would on a double-play situation.  Well I tell ya’, the 3rd Base line is WIDE. OPEN.”

Dunn has all four infielders playing on the right side of 2nd Base….

JUST STICK YOUR BAT OUT.

And oh, to answer your question…he struck out.  I’m not kidding.

Posted in Cincinnati Reds, MLB | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Standing O!

Posted by Vega on April 9, 2008

The Detroit Tigers, in pre-season, were a hot ticket for not only a playoff selection but a possible contender for the World Series. With a fantastic start of 0-7 following their 5-nil defeat to the Red Sox, the Tigers were mathematically  eliminated from the playoffs. Let’s be honest, there has never been a team in MLB history to start 0-7 and make the playoffs and I’d put my left nut on the line and say they are officially done for. History simply doesn’t lie and I’ll stand by my statement. With their recent trades and signings this off-season, Detroit now has the Major Leagues’ 2nd highest payroll at around $138 million just ahead of the Mets and far behind the Yankees, at $209 million.

Although Curtis Granderson suffered a timely injury they did bring in the same level of production with Miguel Cabrera. We are still talking about the same Tigers team that finished 3rd in the Major Leagues in runs scored with 5.5 runs/game, and yet this season has started off in DEAD LAST averaging 2.1 runs/game. When Curtis does return, with it being a hand injury, he won’t be 100% until he mentally puts the injury behind them. Once that happens Detroit can finally get back on track but by then the Central Division will be out of reach and we know the Wildcard will come out of the east between New York or Boston; chance of playoffs…IT’S A WRAP!

Speaking of Boston, Bill Buckner received a standing ‘O’ from the Red Sox faithful at Fenway. It is officially about time Red Sox Nation pulled the monkey, and the blame, off of Buckner. It is simply childish to blame one single player for a team’s loss in a series long event. Don’t forget it wasn’t even Game 7 so they still had an opportunity to finish off the Mets one game later and failed AS A TEAM. When my Cleveland Indians lost two World Series’ in the 90’s, I as a fan never blamed ONE player for our loss. Omar Vizquel pointed the finger at Jose Mesa for blowing the save against the Marlins. However, no closer is 100% in the history of save opportunities, and it simply was nothing more than bad timing.  So I’m happy to see that after winning two World Series the Red Sox fans finally grew up and came to a realization that there was no such thing as a curse or that Bill Buckner is a (fill in the blank).

Posted in MLB | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

Let The Misery Begin

Posted by Bob Swerski on March 31, 2008

whitesoxmarquee.jpg 

Another season of Cubs baseball begins today (March 31), and maybe this year the Cubs will end their century long drought and finally win a Championship.  Here’s to hoping.

Prediction: 89 wins and a Central Division Championship.  End up losing to Mets in the NLCS in 5 games.

Posted in MLB | Tagged: , | Comments Off on Let The Misery Begin

Remembering Harry Caray

Posted by Bob Swerski on February 20, 2008

caray.jpg

It was 10 years ago, Feb 18, 1998 that the beloved Cubs’ announcer Harry Caray passed away due to brain damage following cardiac arrest. Many people around the league and Cub fans especially have their favorite Harry Caray moment. Whether it be Will Farrel playing him on Saturday Night Live, The Budweiser and Bud Light commercials, or the seventh inning stretch, there are certain things which will forever remind us of the man with those big glasses. To some Harry Caray might have been a big joke or an embarrassment, but being a kid at the time; to me Harry was a hero. A recognizable voice coming out of the radio to broadcast the lovable losers on warm summer days. His stories, his enthusiasm, and his love of baseball is the reason I still watch baseball and the Cubs. With a hot dog and an ice cold Budweiser, I say this proudly “Holy Cow! Cubs win! Cubs win!”

Posted in MLB | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Miami, Marlins Planning $515M Hole In The Ground

Posted by Matt on February 18, 2008

marlins.gif

The Florida Marlins are quite an enigma.  They have two World Series rings since 1997, which is tied for second most with the Boston Red Sox behind the Yankees’ three since that year.  The team also operates out of Miami, Florida where the beer flows like wine and it would seem baseball enthusiasts are in tow considering the Grapefruit League that holds court in the state of Florida each spring.   Yet, despite this, the Florida Marlins have the lowest average attendance for home games in Major League Baseball, averaging just over 16,000 cut-throat fans each game — which is less than half of the 37,000 seat capacity of the new, 2011 stadium.

The average Marlins home game:

marlins-home-game.jpg

Now the franchise has made the claim that they cannot survive in south Florida without a new stadium — and I tend to agree that it would suck to play in what is normally an NFL stadium — but it seems tough to justify a $515-million dollar undertaking, with Miami-Dade contributing $347-million of that, when attendance is so low despite some of the recent successes.

I would think a better marketing department would be first in order if they expect to survive in south Florida, among other changes, and I don’t know that building a half-billion dollar stadium for people to not come to will be the long term solution.

Linkage: Yahoo! Sports 

Linkage: ESPN.com

Posted in MLB | Tagged: | 6 Comments »