Tuesday, July 29, 2008

WATCH OUT A.L.!!

It's being reported that Mark Teixeira has been traded to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim! With Vlad and Teix hitting back-to-back mixed with that pitching rotation and bullpen, I think we've got a new World Series favorite.

Ernie has a new reason to hate the Angels.

And there goes my pick for NL MVP.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The BoSox won't trade Manny.

Period.

He's too much of an integral part of that team, regardless of his attitude or his off-field remarks. He knows how to do his job, and he knows that he needs to perform in order to get paid. It's not like he's going to stop playing like he always does just because he's pissed off at Boston's front office.

On the side of the front office, they'd be absolutely insane to trade him. When you're a buyer at the trade deadline, you don't trade your stars--you don't even trade any of your starting eight (unless you're the 2006 Mets. Trading Xavier Nady did land them Oliver Perez, but I still don't think it should have been the starting right fielder that should have been used for bait, the Pirates would have taken farmhands.).

The Red Sox need Manny. He obviously doesn't need the Sox, but he's not the one in control of his own destiny. Whatever happens in the offseason will happen in the offseason, but Manny isn't going anywhere until then.

*UPDATE 6:00 p.m.*
I have to back off a little bit. The media is tearing the Manny storyline to shreds. If he does, in fact, get traded, I'll be completely shocked--but if he does get traded, it's probably because the media won't leave it alone and is making a much bigger story out of it than it should be.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I LOVE TITLE IX!!!!

As much as I love and respect women's sports, there is still the other half of me that loves some aspects for all the wrong reasons. You know...Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, Natalie Gulbis, Paula Creamer, etc...

Well I may have a new love on my dark side! The NCAA announced the newest women's sport being considered at schools is Sand Volleyball! I don't know if the implications include bikinis, but I'll take my chances.

Credit solely and completely goes to Title IX here, since colleges are RARELY Title IX compliant, meaning the ratio of male-to-female athletes is not consistent with the ratio of male-to-female students. The only instances where schools can even become close to being Title IX compliant are when a school a) doesn't have a football team, b) is all girls or all guys, or c) is a tech school where the male population actually dominates.

The only reason it is uncommon for schools to be sued or investigated over Title IX violations is because there are loopholes. As long as a school is "making progress" towards becoming Title IX compliant, they're given a break. Plus, these lawsuits are long and arduous. However, if ONE female student wants to compete in ANY sport, the school is required to offer it, risking the chance of being sued, a suit which the school has a slim-to-none chance of winning.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I forgot a word

"Bullpen"

I hate the Phillies.

and p.s. I hate the Yankees, Mariano Rivera, and his one-out, four-run saves.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Do I really have to get into this?

Jayson Stark has apparently jumped aboard with Skip Bayless on the "hate the Mets" bandwagon.

We can go through the Mets', Phillies', and Marlins' rosters, position by position and add it up...but that doesn't do us much good because somebody will get hurt down the stretch. Somebody will slump. Somebody will get hot. The Marlins lead the majors in home runs, the Phillies have Utley, Howard, and Rollins, and the Mets have Wright, Reyes, and Beltran. All three teams have role-players. Bottom line is all of these teams can score runs.

But offense doesn't win championships.

Johan Santana
John Maine
Oliver Perez
Mike Pelfrey
Pedro Martinez

Cole Hamels
Joe Blanton
Jamie Moyer
Kyle Kendrick
Brett Myers

Ricky Nolasco
Scott Olsen (my boy!)
Josh Johnson
Chris Volstad

That takes care of step one, the Marlins can be crossed off this list if I asked you to eliminate one cluster of names.

Now let's cross Brett Myers and Pedro Martinez off because those two will have more health issues than starts in the second half.

Cross off Santana and Hamels because I don't feel like getting into that discussion. That leaves us with six names.

Mike Pelfrey
Oliver Perez
John Maine

Joe Blanton
Jamie Moyer
Kyle Kendrick

Say what you will about Pelfrey's track record, and how Perez and Maine have pitched this year, but Pelfrey finally seems to be coming around and Maine and Perez can come up huge in big-game situations. They've proven it. That's why I'll take the Mets' mid-three any day.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Gotta give 'em credit

Brian Cashman made one of the best moves by ANY team this season by picking up Richie Sexson. He was terrible with Seattle since they signed him, but with the kind of lineup around him that he's going to have in the Bronx, I expect him to put up impressive numbers in pinstripes. He's hitting in between Jorge Posada and Robbie Cano tonight and already has a hit.

The roster move is also paying other dividends as Cano is actually hitting! Sexson provides ample protection for Posada, and if Can, o starts hittingit's a "pick your poison" type of lineup expected of Yankee squads. Straighten out that pitching and this is a team poised to make a run. Even if they don't straighten out the pitching, we all know they can win 15-14 day-in and day-out.

They're also lucky to be facing the A's coming out of the All-Star break. Oakland is only six games out of the division, four and a half out of the Wild Card race, and they're seven games over .500, yet they dump Rich Harden and Joe Blanton as if they're 20 games under .500 and in last place. I'd criticize the moves more, but let's be brutally honest--Oakland isn't going anywhere this season, even if they make the playoffs. Maybe GM Billy Beane is facing that reality and preparing for his next move, whatever it may be. You never know with him. A's fans have pretty much learned just to accept that his roster moves work out eventually, more often than not...the championship banners hanging from the rafters is the only hole in his tenure.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

July predictions

1) Tiger will win the British Open

[quote of the week] "I just hope they've taught the engraver how to put an asterisk on [the Claret Jug]. Then everyone will know what the tournament was all about." - Geoff Ogilvy

2) Lance Armstrong will win the Tour de France

3) Britney Spears' new album will reach #1 whenever it is finished and released

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Respect.

Marist Red Foxes: Charlie Creme's preseason #20. What now? He probably knows squat about this team, but hopefully because of this, the coaches and writers will have the same respect for proven mid-majors such as the Red Foxes coming into the season.

The '08-'09 schedule isn't out, but when it comes out we'll have a pretty good idea of how close Marist can come to repeating that 32-3 mark from the '07-'08 season.

My humble guess is that Marist goes undefeated and brings the NCAA title to Poughkeepsie.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Live All-Star blogging

Disclaimer: If you can't handle extreme scrutiny of Joe Buck and the New York Yankees, chances are good that you probably shouldn't read this.

8:52
p.m. - The game finally started at 8:47, I guess they warned us that the ceremony would take so long, but they probably could have cut it in half while getting their point across. I'm really dejected about how the game is going so far. Not only did the pre-game ceremonies take too long, but there was WAY too much Joe Girardi. I understand he's the Yankees' manager, but please. Also, the New York fans are booing 75% of the players who are announced. Ridiculous. They even booed Terry Francona, who just announced that Mariano Rivera would close the game for the AL if the opportunity arose. They should at least show some respect for everyone involved in the game, especially considering they're all kind of on the same side here.

Cliff Lee had a DOMINANT first inning. He deserves to pitch another.

Joe Buck announced Derek Jeter as the man who has "done nothing but win" since putting on pinstripes. Then Tim McCarver states that the Yankees haven't won the World Series since 2000. Good teamwork, guys.

8:55 p.m. - DAMNIT why did Jeter have to get the first hit? That was the last thing I wanted to happen. Great, now he stole a base. Showoff. May-Rod probably just got booed for not driving in the captain.

9:07 p.m. - Great work by Lee. I am not going to see "Swing Vote," nor will I rent it, nor will I watch it if it is ever on TV.

9:10 p.m. - Sheets' curveball is nasty tonight. Buck just apologized for screwing up Justin Duchscherer's name in the pre-game ceremony. Then he also mentioned that he was filling in for Bob Sheppard. Too bad Sheppard couldn't make the game, that would have added to the pageantry of the night to have him be the P.A. announcer. I didn't think of that before Buck said it.

9:28 p.m. - Yogi Berra just called Joe Buck "Jack," his father's name. Beautiful.

9:33 p.m. - That's more like it. It turns me on when Jeter grounds into double plays! They really love to be blunt about Josh Hamilton's addictions. Last night it was shooting heroin, tonight it's smoking crack.

9:48 p.m. - I wasn't sure if I wanted to see "Pineapple Express" when it comes out, but the preview just had M.I.A. "Paper Planes" playing in it. Now I'm definitely seeing it.

9:53 p.m. - Good thing Matt Holliday went deep to get the NL on top--Dan Haren is coming in, the AL has seen plenty of him and can feast on his pitching.

10:00 p.m. - I hope they don't keep playing that Heineken Light commercial all night or else I'll be singing "It's love. It's love. It's love. It's la-la-la-la-la-la-la-love!" for the next week.

10:10 p.m. - They need to get Jeter out of there. He's really dragging the AL down. Grounds into a double play then leaves two on base? If they want to win, they need to get Michael Young in there.

10:13 p.m. - I'm normally not an advocate of pimping MLB to movies and such, but the graphics for that "X-Files" segment were pretty cool and apparently Gillian Anderson is as hot as ever despite being 40. Nice.

10:15 p.m. - $20 says Utley goes deep in this at-bat.

10:18 p.m. - I owe someone $20. But the NL is about to break this game open.

10:24 p.m. - And by "break this game open," I mean "take a 2-0 lead." At least Jeter is out of there. George Steinbrenner doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame. Tim McCarver and Joe Buck are tools for thinking that unless Fox has manipulated that idea because of its partnership with the Yankees. Conspiracy? I think so.

10:29 p.m. - Joe Torre should be on Clint Hurdle's coaching staff instead of GlenAllen Hill. Just a thought.

10:41 p.m. - Joe Nathan and Russel Martin got great recognition from Joe Buck for their underrated accomplishments not just this season, but the past several seasons.
Who the hell is Josh Groban? Not that I care, his rendition of "God Bless America" is much better than that excuse for singing in the pre-game when Sheryl Crow performed the National Anthem. That was horrendous. I know it was promoting cancer research, but they could have done better than that.

10:42 p.m. - They just showed Derek Jeter crying in the dugout during "God Bless America." What a terrible facade. He's an ass.

10:48 p.m. - The advantage here in the late innings has to go to the A.L. Even though the N.L. has a 2-0 lead, Terry Francona is sending out seasoned veteran closers out to the mound the rest of the way while Clint Hurdle is still putting young starting pitchers in the game for the late innings.

10:53 p.m. - That didn't take long. 2-2. I don't think they're going to boo J.D. Drew as bad as he rounds the bases.

10:57 p.m. - No. I'm gonna be optimistic. The N.L. is going to break the hearts of all Yankee fans and win the game against Mariano! Rivera will get the loss tonight!

11:00 p.m. - Yankee fans are classless. Booing Papelbon for misconstrued remarks spun by New York media. He was already mad about that, then Yankee fans threatened his pregnant wife during the fan fest. Now they're chanting "Papelbum" and "overrated." This is pathetic and is taking everything away from the game.

11:03 p.m. - Okay, they're half right. He gave up the hit but the run was unearned and was because of the throwing error on Dioner Navarro. 3-2, N.L. and Papelbon is in line to lose. I hope Mariano gets shelled so they forget about Papelbon.

11:16 p.m. - AH! Why is Wagner in?! I know I'm supposed to have faith in my team's closer...but let's be honest. He can blow this thing.

11:19 p.m. - Apparently I'm having techinical difficulties, but this is a sped up version of my reaction to Billy Wagner screwing up. Not sure how this got put on a mega fast forward, but you get the idea.
video

11:24 p.m. - K-Rod is in, but if he pitches the whole 9th and the A.L. wins in the bottom, Mariano doesn't get in! Drama! Francona will probably put Mo in with two outs or something.

11:26 p.m. - Yeah, yeah, yeah. Here comes Mo with one out and Ludwick coming to bat. If Rivera gives up the game-winning hit, Rodriguez will get the loss since he left a runner on base. This is crap.

11:32 p.m. - New conspiracy theory. This whole game is staged so Mariano would come in and get a huge strike 'em out, throw 'em out double-play. He's obviously gonna get the win in the bottom of the ninth. I hate the Yankees.

11:37 p.m. - Stop showing Derek Jeter. He's not in the game, he has no bearing on the outcome.

11:42 p.m. - Nobody wants extra innings. Blah.

11:48 p.m. - They really want to get Mo the win. Sending him out again? I hope he loses.

11:51 p.m. - Mariano can blow this! You gotta believe!!!!

11:53 p.m. - WHY WHY WHY MUST YOU GROUND INTO A DOUBLE PLAY, DAN UGGLA?!!!

12:01 a.m. - We all know what's gonna happen. I'm done blogging.

12:04 a.m. - WOW! I can't believe Cook got out of that! This is a great game. Too long though. Way too long.

12:12 a.m. - There has got to be some crisis management plan after what happened in Milwaukee a few years back. I can't see this game going much longer if the A.L. doesn't win here in the bottom of the 11th. Advertisers are getting a steal by the game going this late while their commercials get such a huge audience.

12:19 a.m. - This is great baseball now. They're actually using strategy. Navarro thought about a sac bunt, there was a pitch out, a blown call, a walk, and now a base hit. AND NOW...Michael Young is up. This is excellent.

12:22 a.m. - It's moments like these that make you think this whole thing is staged, like the games are scripted. These guys are all proving why they're All-Stars and this is an epic ending. Everyone expected Young to get a hit and win the game, but then Navarro gets thrown out at home. The twists won't stop coming!

12:29 a.m. - This is a great strategy for McLouth. The All-Stars don't have time to go over late inning strategy with each other since the break is so short and there is so much other stuff for the players to do leading up to the game. The miscommunication on playing his bunt may turn out to be crucial if Uggla can come through here, making up for his two errors that nearly cost them the game earlier. You can't write a better story. That's why he'll probably get out! It's not what we expect...but McLouth has proven he's an All-Star since he got in the game. I'd vote for him for MVP is nothing dramatic happens to win the game and the NL prevails.

12:33 a.m. - You have to appreciate how seriously this game is being taken now. Going to Sherrill, the lefty, to face a lefty, Adrian Gonzalez. It only takes 11 innings for the All-Star game to start to be taken seriously. It should start in the 11th inning every year!

QUICK ADDITION BY MICHAEL J:
Here's why I love Grady Sizemore. He's got Grady's Ladies, he's not that hard on the eyes, he rakes for my fantasy team, and most importantly, if he ever married Tom Brady, they would become either a) Grady Brady or b) Tom Sizemore. I think I prefer Tom Sizemore.

12:44 a.m.- Still Clark. Kinsler will win this game right here, following on Hank Blalock and Michael Young's footsteps

12:46 a.m.-Please disregard previous prediction. That is why I'm a hack, ladies and gents. (Who am I kidding? Gents.) A few quick questions. Do you think Elvis deserves "Viva Viagra"? How rough of a game is Dan Uggla having? Poor guy. When will Ernie send Russell Martin his promise ring? When did Christian Guzman stop sucking? How crazy would it have been if George Sherrill threw the bat shard at David Wright on his way to first?

12:51 a.m. [Travis] - I have no idea how this game is going to end. But I imagine it will be exactly what we don't want to happen and we'll be really upset with the ending, forgetting about the glamour of this game.

12:53 a.m. - In reference to the Sizemore/Brady affair, I prefer Grady Brady. That would be a good looking love child, no? Guzman didn't stop sucking: Zimmerman, Dmitri Young, Nick Johnson, Lastings Milledge, and Elijah Dukes all got snubbed for the team! Imagine an all Nationals All-Star team! That would be like...the Nationals...eew, nevermind. But if Sherrill threw the shard at Wright, the Yankees would acquire him by the deadline.

12:58 a.m.- [Clark] How much does Rich Harden hate Carlos Marmol after what he did against the Giants? Probably as much as Roy Halladay hates his offense. If I were Halladay, I would never speak to Adam Lind.

1:00 am- [Clark] This isn't fun anymore. This is really Dan Uggla's worst nightmare. He's so much better than what he's doing tonight. I really feel for the guy. I hope he has a huge second half.

1:02 A.M. (Barrows) Dan Uggla's worst nightmare alright. It certainly isn't Josh Hamilton's dream.
1:05 AM (Clark) Hey, Carlos Quentin. You kiss your mother with that mouth?

1:07 a.m. [Travis] - Wow...all those thoughts I had about McLouth having an amazing game wasn't enough to will that ball to 315 feet...only 312. I still have my conspiracy theory that this is scripted to make the legendary Yankee Stadium highlight reel, but I'm truly enjoying this game...don't tell anyone I said that.

1:09 AM (Clark) I've seen a lot of games at Yankee Stadium. I thought Nate McClouth was going upper deck with that shot. He'll be a Yankee in three years. I can see why Travis hates us.

1:10 a.m. [Travis] - I have to give credit to Buck and McCarver now, too. They're really rising to the occasion and getting into the game.

1:11 AM (Clark) Joe Buck just asked Tim McCarver if he had Carlton's cell phone number. I know he probably meant Carlton Fisk, but how funny would it be if Tim McCarver had Alfonso Ribiero's phone number?

1:12 AM (Barrows) I still say they can bring in Boggs to pitch if they have to save Kazmir. He threw a scoreless inning once and they say knuckleball pitchers can throw forever...he has one of those.

1:14 a.m. [Travis] -I fully support bringing Boggs in to pitch for the A.L. This game would end QUICK!

1:16 A.M. (Clark) Very upset about Jake Taylor striking out like that.

1:17 a.m. [Travis] - I finally figured out how this game is going to end. Jeter will be let back in the game because he's the captain and he'll hit a walk off home run.

1:18 a.m. [Travis] - OH! OR WILL JOE GIRARDI BE ALLOWED TO PINCH HIT AND HIT A HOME RUN?! HE'LL FINALLY BE A TRUE YANKEE!

1:20 a.m. [Clark] Jimmy Leyritz is sitting at home right now incredulous that he's not at this game. Because the All-Star game should be Jimmy Leyritz's greatest concern right now.

1:22 a.m. (Barrows) Don Zimmer is going to storm the AL dugout, and take out Francona for using Kazmir. The Yankee Stadium crowd will go crazy.

1:23 a.m. [Joe Morgan] So I was talking to my good friend Pete Rose who I was on the Big Red Machine with and we think there should be instant replay. Jaret Wright having a great at bat.

1:28 a.m. [Travis] - Is it just me or does Scott Kazmir have more acne than the front row at Backstreet Boys concert?

1:28 a.m. [Clark] I know the State Farm commercial where the guy gives up the ball to young kid is supposed to show selflessness and being a good neighbor, but every time I see it, I totally keep thinking that that selfish little kid has his whole life to catch a home run ball. Freeloading son of a bitch.

1:31 a.m. [Travis] -After that Ludwick catch, that reminded me...is Jeffrey Maier at this game?

1.33 AM [Clark] That was Dioneer Navarro's biggest hit since he left Jane's Addiction.

1:35 a.m.
[Travis] - I no longer want nor expect this game to end.

1:36 a.m. [Travis] - Until I found out Michael Young was up. Everything has come full circle. I understand the meaning of life now.

1:38 a.m. [Travis] - Speaking of full circle, I hate my life again because Derek Jeter found his way into the replay. I thought we were over him. HIS REPLACEMENT WON THE GAME! So I should be saying "I'm glad Jeter got voted in so Young could replace him!"

NO! I'm saying Jeter shouldn't even be in the game at all!! Young should have started and played the whole thing! He's earned it!

1:40 am [Barrows] - What a game. There's so many things to say, but nothing that hasn't been said. Amazing.

1:42 a.m. [Travis] - Agreed.

1:45 a.m. [Clark] My theory is that if only Corey Hart embraced his name and wore his sunglasses at night, he would have thrown out Justin Morneau. God damn you, Corey Hart the baseball player! You need to hang out with Adam Jones, the Oriole. Just go by Pacman already.

1:49 a.m. [Travis] - My final thoughts. Jeanie Zelasco would look much better if she were Erin Andrews, and pardon J.D. Drew for not being excited about winning a Hybrid SUV. He has three Hummers sitting in the driveway at home.

1:51 a.m. [Barrows] - I'm going to end on this note. Since JD Drew has a car he has no use for, he should donate it to the Make A Wish Foundation. I'm sure there's a 16 year old who wished he could receive a car from the MVP of the All-Star game.

NFC North power shift

Daaaaaa Bears signed Kevin Jones---that's right, my boy KJ, to a deal today to bring him to Chi Town.

Considering the Brett Favre drama, the inept offensive play calling in Detroit, and the distracting sexy parties in Minnesota, this move gives Chicago a good enough running game to open up WR routes. Chicago's defense is already among the best in the league, so I'm looking for them to take the NFC North this season. Minnesota will finish second, Green Bay third, and Detroit will be in the basement. They deserve it for letting him go and not giving him the ball last season.

I'm not starting on my NFL previews yet, but I gotta give KJ some love. His career has been ridden with injury, so he hasn't had a legitimate chance to show off how good he can be.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Home Run Hamilton

Josh Hamilton-28 homeruns, 2nd most in Home Run Derby history.

One problem history books, that was only the first round.

If you aren't watching the Home Run Derby, what's wrong with you?

Great A-Rod article

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/allstar08/news/story?id=3487298

He's not such a bad guy!

Prediction turns guarantee

I am so confident that the NL is better than the AL this year that I am not just predicting the NL to win the All-Star Game...I'm GUARANTEEING it.

Pitching is better, offense is better, and our manager is...ok well our pitching and offense are superior to that of the American League. The AL doesn't have the Giambi-stache to save it, doesn't have Vladdy, and Michael Young is probably going to ride the bench so Jeter can play the whole game for the fans at Yankee Stadium. The AL has no chance.

HR Derby

In my younger, more innocent days, I loved the derby. I looked forward to the HR Derby more than the actual main event, the All-Star Game. Once I found out what the field would look like, I would try to prognosticate who would hit how many dongs. I even loved Chris Berman chanting "BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, GONE". I think I'm most embarrassed about the Chris Berman thing, considering I see him as the biggest hack on the Worldwide Leader today. Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux were only half right when they famously figured out that chicks dig the long ball. I can't think of anyone who doesn't dig the long ball.

Over the years, the Derby has lost a little bit of spectacle for me. I don't see the joy that I saw on the faces of the participants years ago, with sluggers like Vlad and Albert Pujols treating the event as just another day in the office. I learned that Chris Berman is, essentially, a buffoon. (BTW, who wants to take bets on the following jokes from Boomer: a Evan Longoria/Eva Longoria joke, a Brawny paper towel man reference, and "there sure wasn't anything Uggla with that swing!") I learned that Joe Morgan basically reads from a script. Step one: mention that I was on the Big Red Machine. Step two: suggest that a player who has already locked a spot in the semis or finals to just quit. It's a goddamn exhibition, you pompous ass. If Justin Morneau quits just because he's guaranteed a spot in the finals, he deserves to be booed mercilessly.

Don't ask me why, but I'm amped for this Derby though, probably for the same reasons why T and others are so down on it. These eight guys represent what's good in this league (yes, even the former junkie, Josh Hamilton). There are no superegos here, just the two best second basemen in baseball (apologies to Ian Kinsler) and two of the most underrated stars of the past five years (that is, if an MVP can be underrated. I think he can. I got your back, Justin). Three future studs that, at this rate, will do the unthinkable and make Tampa, Texas, and Milwaukee exciting again, and the dreamy Grady Sizemore. This isn't your father's home run derby. And this guy couldn't be happier. Chicks may dig the long ball, but I dig the studs of tomorrow aiming for the black in centerfield. I was on the Big Red Machine.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

All-Star break...finally!

The first half of the season took WAAAY too long this year, and it wasn't just arduous for Mets' fans, but fans of almost every team.

A reminder of my preseason predictions (current standing at break):
AL East: BoSox (half a game up on the Rays)
AL Central: Tigers (7 games behind ChiSox)
AL West: Angels (6 games up on Oakland)
AL Wild Card: Injuns (14 out of Wild Card race, second worst team in AL)--I'll pat myself on the back for that one
NL East: Mets (half a game back of the Phillies)--pardon me for assuming they win tonight. When you're playing the NL West's bottom-feeders, you're allowed to assume the W.
NL Central: Cardinals (4.5 behind the Cubbies)
NL West: D'backs (1 game up on the Dodgers)
NL Wild Card: Hotlanta (7.5 out of Wild Card race)


Though that is how my results will be judged at the end of the season to decide how much money Barrows owes me, here's what I really think will happen now that we're halfway home. Each race is going to be very interesting in its own right except for the AL West:

AL East: Red Sox will maintain first, Yankees will give it a good run and finish second, Rays will fade to third place, finish about 10 games over .500, yet still not get any respect. They'll be laughing last, however, because they'll have three aces at the beginning of next year, and none of their starting pitchers will be over the age of 27. They're going to be really good for a really long time if everyone in St. Pete stays healthy. Side note: Is Dice-K really 10-1 with a 2.65 era?? WOW.

AL Central: None of these teams can get it together. The ChiSox don't seem like they can keep their swagger, the Twins' pitching isn't good enough, and the Tigers can sneak in and win if they keep playing consistently. With all three teams having a legit chance, I'll take the Tigers. Verlander is starting to pitch really well, and good pitching is contagious.

AL West: Angels. Angels. Angels.

NL East: Mark Teixeira is a second half hitter, so he'll vault the Braves into contention. Ryan Howard is heating up at the wrong time, but Rollins and Utley have yet to have their second winds. Of course I'm picking the Mets because everything seems to finally be coming together, but I know they're going to hit another rough patch, so it should be another good race. Hopefully whichever team wins doesn't win by default because the other teams keep losing.

NL Central: The Cubs are up at the break, but they're also like the only team in all of baseball that hasn't suffered serious heartbreak so far this year. Their suffering will come again, as it has for the last 100 years. Milwaukee and Chicago both made huge acquisitions for front-line starters. Who do I think wins? Sticking with my original pick--the team that hasn't made a move yet. The trades for Harden and C.C. will cancel each other out since these teams are only going to be beating up on each other the rest of the way. The Cardinals will be getting their big pitchers back from the DL, they've got great role players in the form of Ludwick and Ankiel, and oh yeah, they have that guy...what's his name? Albert Pujols.

NL West: The Rockies and Padres are the only teams that want to win this division, but they suck. The Giants are just in a world of hell without Barry Bonds. The D'backs and Dodgers will lose their way to the finish line...I don't see Arizona making a big roster move before the deadline, and the Dodgers have been getting great pitching performances lately. Can they keep it up? Their offense can only get better, so I'll take the Dodgers. Plus, I don't want to see Webb and Haren in the postseason...if I'm even in the postseason.



I'm picking the NL to finally win the All-Star game by a score of 6-2, and I'm picking Lance Berkman to take the home run derby in one of the least impressive fields we'll ever see. Josh Hamilton will be in the finals against him, and the three right handers (Uggla, Longoria, Braun) won't see a second round. I hope Mariano Rivera starts the game like everyone wants him to and then gets lit up for a couple runs. Then I hope Derek Jeter makes a couple errors to allow the other runs. %#$&ing Yankees.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

AL All-Star Team Position Players Review

Search around the internet, you'll be hard pressed to find too many positives on many of the players selected by the fans to start in the American League All-Star game. When you break down the list, even some of the players selected by the players themselves were questioned. Where's the positives here? Let's take a look.

Key:
Starters are in bold

American League
Position: Catcher

Selected: Joe Mauer(Minn), Dioner Navarro(TB), Jason Varitek(Bos)

In 83 games this season, Joe Mauer is batting .323 and has driven in 39. All-Star numbers, though he could have more power having only hit four home runs thus far this season. On the year, he has 28 extra base hits, 23 of them doubles. A good selection overall.

Dioner Navarro has played well for the up-start Tampa Bay Rays. A key part of the surprise success in Tampa, Navarro is hitting .306 in 68 games for the Rays. Navarro's average has dropped recently, hitting .263 and .253 in June and July respectively. Still, Navarro is providing solid defense behind the plate for the Rays. Many don't expect Navarro to return to the numbers from April and May, but Navarro has earned his spot on this team.

Jason Varitek is a clubhouse leader for the Boston Red Sox. He walks into Fenway park for each game with the title of captain. Beyond that, his numbers don't scream All-Star. Outside of Fenway, it's hard to imagine too many people are thrilled with this selection. So where do the positives with this selection lie. Good question. Truthfully, there is none. His strikeout to walk ratio is weak, his OBP currently stands at .299, and with a battering average under .230, it's hard to imagine there wasn't a better choice.

Position: First Base

Selected: Kevin Youkilis(Boston) Justin Morneau (Minn)

Youkilis, a first time All-Star, has always drawn walks. He's turned up the heat this year, hitting .314, knocking 14 out of the park, and driving in 57 for the Sox. Youk is at a career high for batting average and slugging percentage(.571). While many around the league might have All-Star numbers, Youkilis has strong numbers and is a good selection at 1st base.

Morneau knows what it's like to be an All-Star and continues to put up numbers to earn him a spot as a reserve on the AL All-Star team in 2008. One could argue his numbers are better than Youkilis and he should be starting the game. Valid argument when you look at his .324 batting average and 68 rbis. Add in 53 runs scored and 14 home runs, and Morneau could make his case. The Twins have performed well this season, and if the Red Sox weren't in first place and one of the best teams in Major League's baseball for the first half, the debate for Morneau to be the starter would be even stronger.

Position: Second Base

Selected: Dustin Pedroia(Bos), Ian Kinsler(Tex)

Before the Pedroia haters jump on board and start to rant, let's break down his numbers before you start screaming he should be starting. Pedroia has had a strong first half, there's no doubt on the matter. Batting .311 with 9 home runs and 44 rbis, he's continued to produce for the Sox after winning the Rookie of the Year award last season.

Then there's Kinsler. Sporting a batting average of .323 and 14 home runs, Kinsler has played well. When you break down the stats further, it can be argued that Kinsler could be the starter. After all, he has 23 steals(14 more than Pedroia), and has driven in 53 runners of his own.

However you break it down, one thing is clear. Both are having great seasons and have earned a trip to the Bronx in 2008.

Position: Shortstop

Selected: Derek Jeter(NY), Michael Young(Tex)

The All-Star game is in the Bronx and there's no one better to start this game than Derek Jeter. While Jeter's numbers may not be quite as strong as player select Michael Young, we're talking about the captain of the Yankees starting at Yankee Stadium in the last All-Star game in the Bronx, in the final season of the House that Ruth Built. His numbers are down this season, with Jeter hitting .286, scoring 51 runs, and driving in 39. Only four home runs, it's safe to say Jeter is a rock in the Yankees organization, and has made it clear that if he never plays in another All-Star game in his career, he'll be content with this one being his last. It's his 9th All-Star Selection.

Michael Young's numbers make their case to be part of the hoopla in the Bronx. Batting .305, with five home runs and 50 rbis, Young has been one of the strong points on a Texas team trying to stay afloat 6.5 games back in the AL West. With six stolen bases on the season, his numbers are similar to Jeter's.

Position: Third Base

Selected: A-R0d(NY), Joe Crede(CWS), Carlos Guillen(Det), Evan Longoria(TB)

With one side of the infield full of Red Sox, it's only appropriate the other is full of Yankees. Nothing like the Yankees and Red Sox in the world of sports, and always makes for a good show in the Bronx. A-Rod adds yet another All-Star appearance to his resume. Despite missing some time earlier this season, A-Rod has played very well at third base for the Yankees. With a .311 batting average and an OBP of .394, he's had his share of time spent on the base path. That's led to 13 steals, allowing A-Rod to provide a mix of power and speed for the Yankees. The power, that would be 18 home runs in 73 games.

Joe Crede doesn't have as pretty of a batting average but has provided the White Sox with some power as well. Knocking out 16 and driving in 49, Crede has been a force in the middle of the White Sox line-up.

Carlos Guillen represents Detroit in the Bronx this year, taking up the second third base reserve spot on the AL roster. Guillen's batting average has dropped about 15 points in the last few weeks. Despite the recent drop, his .284 batting average is respectable, coupled with 8 home runs and 47 rbis. Don't forget his ability run, having swiped eight bases already this year.

The final third base spot on the AL roster made the team through the recent fan vote. Evan Longoria, in his rookie year, makes the squad with an impressive run with the Rays. A .281 batting average in his first season, Longoria has impressed many. Driving in runs for a Rays team that has lacked offense in the past few seasons helped earn a spot on the All-Star team, with 44 runs scored and 53 runs batted in. Did I mention he's hit 16 home runs and isn't too shabby on the base paths when he has to be? Well, I just did now.

Position: Outfield

Selected: Josh Hamilton(Tex),Manny Ramirez(Bos), Ichiro Suzuki(Sea),JD Drew(Bos), Carlos Quintin(CWS), Grady Sizemore(Cle)

Josh Hamilton has done just about everything for Texas this year. When they say everything is big in Texas, I guess they had Josh Hamilton in mind. The man is popular in the Longhorn state, and why not, he's only batting .313, with 21 homeruns. And he's driven in 93 runs. That's before the All-Star break. Yeah, that's a lot.

Manny Ramirez will start in the House that Ruth Built in his 12 All-Star appearance. Ramirez isn't having his best season, but is still putting up quality numbers for the Sox. The always entertaining Manny(most recently seen making a phone call in the Green Monster), is hitting .289, and has driven in 59 in 88 games this season.

Suzuki hasn't had the luxary of a break in his season in his eight years in the Majors. That's because he's made the All-Star team in each of his eight season in the Majors. The reason? It could be the .302 batting average. It could be the 62 runs scored this season. Or how about the 34 stolen bases? Something along those lines one would imagine.

Also making the squad as a reserves are JD Drew, Carlos Quintin, and Grady Sizemore. Each is with striking range of a .300 batting average and has driven over 50 thus far this season. Only JD Drew has less than 20 home runs of the three.

Position: DH

Selected: David Ortiz(Bos), Milton Bradley(Tex)

David Ortiz was selected but will not be playing. That leaves Milton Bradley starting in DH next week. Bradley certainly is deserving of the job, the switch hitter is batting .314, 37 points higher than his career batting average. Add in 39 extra base hits, including 17 home runs, and a .440 OBP, you've got the recipe for an All-Star DH.

Up next, I'll cover the National League position players. Monday night, just prior to the All-Star game on Tuesday, look forward to a look at the pitchers for both the AL and NL squads.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

"All-Stars"

I've never been huge on the All-Star game. I like the fact that it now has post-season implications. I really like that players as well as fans have a say in who plays. I just wonder how early the players vote.

The Mets only have one player representing them...Billy Wagner. He might be the 7th or 8th best closer in the NL right now. Jose Reyes and David Wright are much more deserving of spots on the team, but didn't make the roster.

Miguel Tejada was chosen as the reserve shortstop, hitting .280 with 10 homers, 44 runs batted in, 59 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. His on-base percentage is .323 and his on-base plus slugging is .759. Reasonable numbers that would warrant an all-star reserve position...if he was the only player representing the Astros.

Reyes is snubbed because he's hitting .299 with nine homers and 38 rbis. His obp is .360, ops is .845, and he has 32 stolen bases to boot. I'd quickly put him on the team over Tejada and Wagner.

Aramis Ramirez is the reserve third baseman, hitting .283 with 15 homers and 60 rbis. His obp is .379 and his ops is .877.

Wright is batting .288 with 17 homers and 70 rbis. His on-base is .382 with an .894 ops and nine stolen bases to boot.

Neither Ramirez nor Tejada got in through fan voting, and since the Cubs have six others on the All-Star roster and Tejada has been playing very poorly the past month and half, I don't understand why these two were chosen over the Mets' big two.

Alfonso Soriano at least got in through fan voting, though he doesn't deserve to be withing 3000 miles of starting the All-Star game in the outfield. Carlos Lee, Pat Burrell, and Jason Bay are much more deserving of that spot on the roster.

What I like best about the All-Star process is how the pitchers are picked. The only hiccup this year is Wagner being put on the team. He was chosen by the manager, Clint Hurdle. I guess this is why the Rockies are 14 games under .500. That was a low blow, I know.

Over on the American League side, there aren't too many ridiculous snubs. Of course David Ortiz shouldn't be on the team, but there's not much you can do about fan voting. Jermaine Dye looks like the biggest snub over there. Michael Young should be starting over Jeter, but not much you can do about that. Young will just go about business as usual and probably have another game-winning hit.

The biggest story to me is that while the Cubs and Red Sox each have seven representatives, the best team in baseball, the Rays, only have two. Scott Kazmir and Dioner Navarro. I wish Carl Crawford made the team, he's probably the most underrated player in the League. Just like what is said about Curtis Granderson and Grady Sizemore...put Crawford on a bigger stage like Boston, Chicago, or New York, and he would be a GOD.


The Home Run Derby field is looking pretty shoddy this year. Right now it's Chase Utley, Josh Hamilton, Dan Uggla, Lance Berkman, and Grady Sizemore. The big names are completely absent. I don't blame A-Rod for electing not to play, it has shown to mess up players' swings. As long as players don't drop out of the All-Star game like the NBA players do, I don't mind them not participating in the derby. There were rumors of Vlad Guerrero wanting to play in it, but I don't see him on the roster, so I don't know if he'll be in the derby. If he makes it, he's my pick to win. Jason Giambi is on the final ballot, so if he makes the team, I'd take him to win it all if Vlad isn't there. Otherwise, my pick is Berkman.

I'll wait until this weekend when the first half standings are finalized to take a look at them. How about that NL West race?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Brett Gardner

I got to say, one of my favorite new Yankees is Brett Gardner. Not only because of his walk-off hit against Paps, but I love every one of his at-bats. Even when the Yanks get healthy and the entire team is back, it would be a mistake to send him back to Scranton. The Yankees need someone like Gardner for pinch running and to fill in every now and then.

Chris, anything you can tell us about Gardner? What did you see from him in Scranton?

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Ironically, I was on my way to write up something, and Travis(err, Clarkie I mean) beat me to it. Let me first make it clear, it's said you shouldn't have too many favorites when you're in journalism. Brett Gardner makes that hard.

Gardner is not just a nice guy, he's a realist. He knows how it is, he understands the business of baseball, and was ready to accept what was offered to him. He was never sure if he was going to have a shot in New York, but he knew he'd have a shot somewhere.

Right now, I'm glad he did get his shot, he's deserved it for sometime. Everything you've heard from announcers on the YES Network, ESPN, Fox Sports, or wherever you get your sports news, it's most likely true. But just in case you haven't heard a scouting report on Gardner, here's one for you.

Brett Gardner is an 80/80 when it comes to speed. I think that was evident from his first at bat. He grounded out to first base, yet nearly had a single because of his speed. That's a testament to the type of player Gardner is.

At the plate, he isn't going to wow you with power, but he's smart. He knows what his weapon is, and he'll utilize it. He's improved his bunting ability greatly since last year, much to the advice of a few major leaguers who made their way to Scranton at some point throughout last year. He's a fighter at the plate, if that isn't clear to you already, I'm telling you he's a fighter. He won't give up, and he'll get on base.

While he's got a great eye, he's been trying to become more aggressive over the past year and a half. It's worked. He still needs to cut down on his strikeouts, but his OBP is going to be strong for you. He generally takes about 35-50 at bats to adjust to the new level of pitching his facing, and he's slowly approaching that number.

I think the at bat tonight against Paps shows he just might be turning over that comfort level sooner than he usually does, but I'm not sold just yet. One way or another, he's going to get on base.

One thing, he's not a guy who the Yankees want to sit on a bench too much. If he's on the Major League roster, he's going to play. No doubt about that. If he has a day off at some point, he's likely to pinch hit or pinch run. He shouldn't have more than a day off in a row in the Bronx, however, as Cashman sees too much value in him.

My only fear, and it's natural as we know the Yankees, is Gardner as trade bait. If the Yankees trade Gardner, it's a huge mistake. I think him and Cabrera are a hot topic right now due to the fact that Gardner has been tagged by some to replace him. Should he? That's up for debate as Cabrera is younger and still has room to grow. He's got a rocket, but in the long run, is he just a fourth outfielder? You be the judge.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Try managing this team:

Baseball has a lot of over-privileged, self-righteous players who overdose from the fumes of their own brand. Without any hesitation, I present my MLB-all-ass team of this generation:

Macon Mudslingers

C: A.J. Pierzynski - Altercations with Michael Barrett and Carlos Zambrano on back-to-back days, multiple complaints from teammates, and just as Derek Jeter won the "most overrated" award from MLB players, Pierzynski won "most deserving to get beaned," with an overwhelming 18 percent.
1b: Jeff Kent - A racist redneck who didn't reach his prime until after the Mets traded him. Arguments with teammates, breaking contract by riding his motorcycle, getting in an accident, and blaming the injuries on "falling while I was washing my truck." I only list him as 1b because of the 2b listed below...
2b: Roberto Alomar - September 27, 1996, after being called out on strikes, Alomar began to argue with home plate umpire John Hirschbeck. Words were exchanged, and Alomar ended up spitting in Hirschbeck's face. He was only suspended five games...let's see what would happen nowadays. Don't even get me started on how poorly he played in his years with the Mets.
SS: Derek Jeter - "The Captain" is anything but a captain. He doesn't speak up and support his teammates publicly, he is grossly overpaid, and these "intangibles" everyone speaks of are becoming less and less apparent as the years go on. He thinks he runs the show, but can't back it up on the field. Then off the field, he gets all the beautiful women I wish I could get.
3b: Scott Rolen - Drama with Tony LaRussa during the 2006 season and during the playoffs earns Rolen a spot on my list. Third base is a shallow category here. Plus, I love A-Rod too much to put him on my list.
OF: Barry Bonds - Doesn't talk to the media, won't play in Boston because it's a racist city, won't admit ever knowingly taking steroids, and won't sign autographs for white fans...I still believe he belongs in the Hall of Fame, but he also belongs atop this list.
OF: Milton Bradley - Career highlights include tearing his ACL while arguing with an umpire, and rampaging through Kauffman Stadium looking for Royals' play-by-play announcer, Ryan Lefebvre for making questionable comments about him. Another team's announcer talking trash about the opponent of the team that pays him??? It's a good thing Bradley wasn't watching or listening when the Rangers just played the Yankees. Michael Kay and John Sterling would be on Bradley's mantle right now.
OF: Carl Everett - Where to start? He doesn't believe in homosexuality or dinosaurs. I know, it's a strange combination, but it's true. He threatened to set any gay teammates straight. He also said since dinosaurs aren't in the bible and nobody saw them, then they don't exist. People saw Adam and Eve, so they exist. Umpires don't like him, fans don't like him, and teammates don't like him. He loves being hated.

There were too many outfielders to choose from, so I have to include an honorable mention:

Honorable Mention:
Vince Coleman (injured Doc Gooden while wildly swinging a golf club in the clubhouse, throwing lit fireworks into a crowd of fans, injuring a three-year old), Elijah Dukes (throwing bats at umpires, fighting with managers in dugouts), Albert Belle (probably should be in my starting outfield...check out his resume under "controversy"), Lastings Milledge (publicly upstaging veterans, making C-list rap songs), Jose Guillen (continuing drama with Mike Scioscia, one of the best managers in the game, ratted out Brendan Donnelly for "illegal substances" on his glove, played for 9 teams in 11 seasons...there's got to be something wrong there) , Paul Lo Duca (little man syndrome, likes underage girls, and likes picking fights he can't win), Karim Garcia (beating up grounds crew members at Fenway), Michael Barrett (fighting with teammates and opponents--Roy Oswalt [twice], A.J. Pierzynski, Carlos Zambrano), Doug Mientkiewicz (trying to keep Boston's '04 W.S. ball. Earn some street cred with the city and the team before trying to own history.), Coco Crisp (spiking Akinori Iwamura without proper justification, saying he thought it was Jason Bartlett...I don't see the resemblance--Crisp was drilled the next day, inciting a brawl that probably hasn't been settled yet now that the Rays are in first), Gerald Williams (mound-charger extraordinaire), Jose Reyes (I'm waiting for the day Carlos Delgado punches him in the face for acting up), and Gary Sheffield (accusing everyone and their mother of being racist, speaking out on controversial topics at inopportune times...I don't know if he can coexist on the same team as Jeter seeing as how Jeter "ain't all the way black")


SP: Roger Clemens - Broken bat incident with Mike Piazza, 9th on the all-time hit batsmen list, accused on more than one occasion of being a headhunter, cheats on his wife with 15-year old girls, and dare we even begin to mention the Mitchell Report?
SP: Randy Johnson - Third all-time on the hit batsmen list, several testy run-ins with the media, and he killed a dove with a 100-mph fastball. Shave that mullet.
SP: Scott Olsen - Olsen makes my starting rotation just because of his upside. He's still only 24, but an entire division hates him. He has an insane temper, publicly fights with teammates (Miguel Cabrera, Sergio Mitre), surfaces with black eyes from other teammates (Randy Messenger), and is cited for disciplinary problems from Managers. Tells the media he "hates" Chase Utley and the Phillies because they own the Marlins. Fled from Police after being pulled over for driving 48 in a 35. He was found sitting in a plastic chair in his front yard. Police had to taser him when he resisted arrest by kicking at them...he failed the ensuing sobriety test. This kid has a great future ahead of him in the MLB.
SP: Curt Schilling - His blog makes more headlines than he does nowadays, talking trash about players, management, and media...Schilling is more concerned about getting face time on TV than he is about playing the game or helping his team.
SP: Pedro Martinez - I hate to do it, but it's only right. Pedro speaks a little too much of what's on his mind with the media, and he's never been afraid to pitch high and tight...then admit it either after the game, if not on the field. See: Pointing at Jorge Posada's head saying he'll drill him.
RP: Billy Wagner - Another racist redneck to join Kent, Clemens, and Johnson. I forsee Wagner picking on the minorities of this team when they lose games and he blows the save. He likes to burn bridges after leaving teams.
RP: Todd Jones - A closer nicknamed "rollercoaster" is never a good start. We can sum Jones up in one quote: "I wouldn't want a gay guy being around me. It's got nothing to do with me being scared. That's the problem: All these people say he's got all these rights. Yeah, he's got rights or whatever, but he shouldn't walk around proud. It's like he's rubbing it in our face. 'See me, Hear me roar.' We're not trying to be close-minded, but then again, why be confrontational when you don't really have to be?"
RP: John Rocker - We probably don't need Kent, Clemens, Johnson, or Wagner. We've got the racist of all racists! Just for Rocker's sake, we'll make this team from Macon, Georgia, so he doesn't have to deal with kids with purple hair, queers with AIDS, people who have just gotten out of jail for the fourth time, or 20-year old moms with four kids. I just hope he doesn't have take issue with any overweight people on the team. He doesn't like them, either.

Honorable Mention:
Jeff Nelson (helping Karim Garcia beat up the grounds crew) , Kevin Brown (finally activated from the DL and breaks his hand punching a wall), Armando Benitez (drilled Tino Martinez after giving up a three-run shot to Bernie Williams...then challenged the entire Yankees' roster to a fight...they complied and Darryl Strawberry knocked Benitez out), Carlos Zambrano (likes to drill the same player multiple times in a game where he hits a home run off Big Z), Kenny Rogers (dirtgate, beating up cameramen)

Of course, every team needs management and front office:

President/Owner/CEO: George and Hank Steinbrenner - I could write about 2,500 words on why these two get the nod, but if you've been reading the whole way, I'll spare you and assume you can figure it out yourself.
General Manager: J.P. Ricciardi - Where's Pat Gillick? The man who brought two titles to Toronto, drafted John Olerud, one of the greatest guys to ever play the game, and only talked about his own players...Ricciardi, who has never met Adam Dunn, claims on a radio show that Dunn has no passion for the game and has no place on his last-place team. He should be begging to have a .220 hitter with 40 home runs on his squad.
Manager: Ozzie Guillen - Even if he can't light a fire under this team's ass, he'll at least make the post-game interviews worthwhile.
Bench Coach: Don Zimmer - There might not be any controversial players left for Zimmer to attack when the benches clear, but it's safe to assume that this team will cause some brawls...they could use Zimmer on their side to provide some spunk.

Honorable Mention:
Billy Beane (though I like his style, outspoken GMs drive me nuts), Jerry Reisndorf (pays more attention to the Bulls than he does to the White Sox. I also need to give the Steinbrenners a chance to deal with Ozzie Guillen), Joe Girardi (I've never liked him...reminds me of Paul lo Duca with the little-man syndrome and the pompous personality), and Lou Piniella (a God among men on this list)

I wonder how this team would do in a 162-game season...

Umpires: Joe West, C.B. Bucknor, Doug Eddings, and Angel Hernandez


Purposely left off this list: Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Glendon Rusch, and Mark Cuban