Tag Archive | "MLB"

Why Do You Like Baseball?


Not long ago someone asked me why I liked baseball. This person is not a fan. In fact, they are not even from a country that plays baseball so they don’t fully understand the game.

All I could come up with on short notice was “everything”.

I really do love everything about this game – the sounds, the smells, the feeling of a cool breeze on a hot summer’s night – the list goes on and on.

Besides the smell of hot dogs and fresh cut grass, there is so much to love about the game.

Some people say it’s too slow and it takes forever to finish. But I say to them that baseball is a talking sport. The periods between plays gives you time to talk about the game – to talk about what has happened, what might happen, what has happened in past games in similar situations, and so much more. In my opinion, you can’t have enough baseball and being at the park for “free” baseball (extra innings) is one of life’s little pleasures.

I love the game within the game. This is one thing that I have always loved and one reason I think that I have always wanted to be a coach. The chess match that managers play with match ups is exciting. I even love watching the fielders move between batters to see how they play one hitter to pull and the next straight up or as a slap hitter. Even the slightest movement of the middle infielders to get into position for a double play are things that I love watching for.

Then you add in the ballet at the bases with runners and balls arriving at the same time. Some of the greatest enjoyment of a game is before the game watching the middle infielders practice turning two during BP. Watching their footwork around the bag is amazing and they do it with such ease. Having tried to do the same thing they are doing only helps me appreciate it just a little bit more knowing how difficult it is.

It has been said many times that the hardest thing to do in sports is hit a round ball square with a round bat. When they do it and you hear the crack of a bat, it’s a great moment. Now add in that that ball is coming at you at speeds upwards of 100mph with movement and the feat of hitting a ball becomes even more impressive.

I love the non-verbal interactions that are going on at all times. It’s not just between catcher and pitcher or hitter and third base coach but its all over the field. Infielders are communicating with each other. Coaches are communicating with fielders and other coaches. It’s a whirlwind of signs going on at all times.

I think I could go on and on about the different things that I love about the game. Come to think of it, I can’t think of anything I don’t like about the game.

No matter who you root for, they don’t let you down. As Jimmy Fallon said in Fever Pitch:

They’re here. Every April, they’re here. At 1:05 or at 7:05, there is a game. And if it gets rained out, guess what? They make it up to you. Does anyone else in your life do that? The Red Sox don’t get divorced. This is a real family. This is the family that’s here for you. ”

It doesn’t matter if it’s the Red Sox, Cubs, or Rangers. No matter who your team is, they are always there.

The measurements are perfect. How they came up with 90 feet was a stroke of genius. No matter where you go the game is the same, yet different. Each field has its own unique character unlike many other sports where the fields are always the exact same size. The uniqueness of places like Fenway Park or Wrigley leads to added greatness.

Then there are the rivalries, the tradition, the drama, the legends, the stories, the comparisons of old and new players, and so much more.

So tell me, what do you like baseball?

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Interview: Robert Breisacher from Baseball Dreamin


Today we talk to Robert J. Breisacher from Baseball Dreamin. Robert is going on a trip to all 30 MLB stadiums this summer, but before he leaves he took some time to talk to us.

How long have you had this dream to see every MLB stadium?
I’m not exactly sure when I got this idea in my head.  I think just being so far away from home during the summer made me miss watching games.  I love being able to catch a game anytime of the day, any day of the summer.

What did your friends/family think when you told them what you were doing?
My family is very proud of me for chasing a dream like this.  They do think its rather ambitious and they are concerned about the financial toll it will take on my wallet.  Other then that they are just happy to see me go after something like this.

I see you have your schedule planned out, how long did it take you to make?
The schedule was not easy to plan out.  I can’t tell you how many times I made it through and came to the conclusion that that particular schedule wasn’t going to work out.  I had schedules for different times of the season starting in different areas of the country.  Ultimelty I decided that I wanted to start the trip as soon as I could.  Patience is a virtue that I could work on and I think the excitment of the season starting and me not on the road would drive me crazy.

Will you see only 1 game at each stadium or is there time for an extra game here and there?
Right now I have only planned on one game in each park with the exception of Comerica Park which is where I will be starting and ending my trip.  Any additonal games that I see will be a decision I make on the fly.  There are a few gaps in my schedule where I will be in a paticular city for an extended period of time such as NY, LA, and Chicago.  I’m pretty sure I will end up seeing more then the scheduled games in those cities.

Where will you stay on your journey? Hotels, camp sites, couchsurfing?
I will be doing a little bit of each of the following options.  I would like to keep the costs as low as possible seeing as gas prices have the potential to get a bit out of hand this summer.  I want to find unique and interesting local places to stay whenever possible.  The ballpark chaser communtiy is a tight knit group.  Since finding websites such as ballparkchasers.com several fellow chasers have offered to let me crash at their places.  Also being a former member of the military I have friends all over the country and they have offered to let me stay with them.

Have you contacted the teams to let them know what you are doing? If so, how receptive have they been to providing assistance?
Yes, While I was still in Afghanistan I sent emails and formal mail to every single one of the teams in Major League Baseball.  At this point I have heard back from about half of the teams and most have offered to extend complimentary tickets and or parking passes.  A few teams have gone above and beyond.  The Cleveland Indians gave me four tickets for the April 9th game and are allowing me to sit in the “Social Media Suite” while I am attending a game there.  The Indians staff has been absolutely amazing to me from the very first time I contacted them.  The New York Mets have a program where the welcome home a veteran at every home game of the season.  While I am attending the game there I will recieve four tickets in the front row right behind the Mets dugout.  They will introduce me at the end of the third inning and show pictures I provided them on their jumbo screen.  Interesting enough the only non American team in Major League Baseball, The Toronto Blue Jays, offered me four tickets and free blue jays caps when I come visit them.  I am going to try to send out one last ditch email to the teams I have not heard from.  Today I recieved a voucher for two tickets to a St. Louis Cardnials game, I had previously heard nothing from the Cardnials so I’m wondering if other teams will be doing the same.

What stadium or team are you most excited to see and why?
The stadium I am most excited to see is Fenway Park.  I will be there for opening day during their 100th season at Fenway.  I am so excited to be apart of this history and see where so many legends have thrown around a ball.  I was also excited about seeing Wrigley Field.  So much so I couldn’t contain my excitement and went out to Chicago this past weekend and got a tour of the park, It was everything I thought it would be and so much more.  I can’t wait to a game there.  I’m also excited to see Comerica Park because its my home town field and is always a pleasure to see a game there.

You plan on seeing other things along the way besides MLB stadiums. What are you most excited about seeing or doing along the way that might not have anything to do with baseball?
I’m excited about seeing the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in Cleveland, Niagra Falls on the way to Toronto, and I’m hoping to be able to fit a stop by Las Vegas into my budget.

Are you going to try and stay on or off the interstate highways for most of your journey?
I will be sticking to the highways most of my trip unless I hear about something I have to see off the beaten path.  Some of my games are kind of pushing it when it comes to time so I will be looking for my fastest way between those parks.

What is the best advice someone has given you about your trip so far?
The best advice I have recieved was from one of my best friends, Melissa Craley, gave me the idea for my blog.  I was home on leave from Afghanistan and met up with her for dinner.  I told her about my trip and she told me I should document every aspect of it.  I thought that was a wonderful idea and clearly I have ran with it.  Melissa has been an incredible supporter of me on this project and will be attending a few games with me.  I would like to thank Melissa for coming up with awesome ideas and helping me out every step of the way!  I honestly could not of done this with out her.

I’d like to thank Robert for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. I am looking forward to following along with his journey as he travels across the US. You can follow along as well on his blog Baseball Dreamin, on Face Book, or on Twitter @BaseballDreamin.

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Didn’t Tony LaRussa Retire?


Tony LaRussa led the St. Louis Cardinals to the 2011 World Series Championship. Then he retired after the season. There is no taking away the end of season and post season run that he led the Cardinals on as they overcame a lot to win their 11th title. But why is he coming back to coach one more game?

Bud Selig announced that LaRussa will be back to coach the NL All-Stars in Kansas City this season. This will be the 3rd time he will lead the NL team (2005, 2007), and his 6th time overall.

It is not the first time a retired manager has come back to manage the Midsummer Classic, but it is the first time since 1972 when Danny Murtaugh managed the NL after leading the Pirates to the World Series in 1971. John McGraw was the only other inactive manager to lead a team in the All-Star game. He did it in the first All-Star game in 1933 after retiring after the 1932 season.

I know this isn’t setting any precident, and I understand that Tony LaRussa has done a lot for baseball but I am not a fan of the idea. Perhaps if the game was being played in the old manager’s stadium then it would be one thing, but it isn’t. After all doesn’t this game mean something now?

Either make the game what it is and should be, an exhibition or have everyone take it serious if you want to continue to make it mean something. To me this is just confusing the issue. It’s really frustrating to see how they have continued to screw with the All-Star game and make it a joke.

The All-Star game is an exhibition. Don’t have home field advantage to the winning team unless you want to change things. The players don’t seem to take it seriously and you have players from the Pirates and Royals determining the fate of the World Series. So here is how I would change the game if you want it to determine which league has the home field in the World Series.

1. Make the game mandatory unless players are hurt.

2. Have the best players play more – managers are too worried about having the lone Pirates player get in the game and so forth. If you let the best play longer then you won’t have to worry about running out of players.

3. Don’t let inactive managers manage – the result doesn’t effect them in the end so why are they there

However, the easiest way to fix everything is to eliminate the home field advantage from the All-Star Game. Let that go to the team with the best record from the regular season. Then we can stop giving these mixed feelings about what the Midsummer Classic really is.

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Way Back Wednesday: What Is Your Best Sports Year?


Have you ever thought about what was the best year in sports for your favorite teams? This goes beyond baseball but of course the basis of the decision is due to baseball. Easily my best sports year was 1995.

There are a lot of reasons why this was my best sports year, but the number 1 reason is the Fall Classic. I can still see Carlos Baerga’s fly ball landing in Marquis Grissom’s glove in center field to give Atlanta its first and only title.

MLB Baseball

In 1994 the world of baseball was rocked by the strike and the loss of the World Series. The Braves came back strong in 1995 winning the pennant. It was the first year of the Wild Card in baseball, and the Braves sent the young Colorado Rockies home early before sweeping Cincinnati in the NLCS.

The greatest game of the season and one of the best pitched World Series games of all-time came in Game 6. Tom Glavine pitched 8 innings of 1 hit ball, and David Justice hit a solo home run in the 6th inning off of Jim Poole for the lone run of the game. The Indians had a vaunted offense led by Albert Belle, Jim Thome, and Manny Ramirez but the Braves rotation of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Steve Avery was too much for the Tribe.

Another big thing to happen in 1995 was Cal Ripken breaking Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played. I can remember watching that game on ESPN, and I still can recall the “victory lap” he took after breaking the record.

NCAA Baseball

The College World Series was a lot of fun to watch with the Cal State Fullerton Titans slugged its way to the championship behind their MVP Mark Kotsay. Some notable names that we got to see in the series were J.D. Drew (Florida St.), Billy Koch (Clemson), Todd Helton (Tennessee), Alex Cora (Miami), and Geoff Jenkins (USC).

NFL

Even though they wouldn’t win the Super Bowl until 1996, the Dallas Cowboys were the best team in the NFL in 1995. They won the NFC East and went 12-4 on the year while they were on their way to winning their 3rd Super Bowl in 4 years. It was a great year for Troy Aikman and the gang.

Tennis

Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras dominated the year in Tennis. They had a great rivalry and they were always fun to watch. Agassi won the Australian Open and Sampras won the US Open and Wimbledon.

NBA

With Michael Jordan playing baseball for most of the regular season, the Houston Rockets won their 2nd straight title defeating Shaquille O’Neil and the Orlando Magic 4 games to 0.

So overall it wasn’t a complete sweep in every sport for my favorite teams, but in the 2 biggest that I follow it was. My favorite MLB team the Atlanta Braves won their 1st title, and my favorite NFL team the Dallas Cowboys were the best all year long and would eventually win the Super Bowl. Other sports could have been better like college football. I hate Nebraska and they would win another title. However, overall this was a great year for sports in my life.

So what was your best sports year?

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Texas Rangers – Prince Fielder or Josh Hamilton?


Prince Fielder or Josh Hamilton? That’s a question a lot of Rangers fans have been asking of late. I’d like to weigh in with my thoughts on the issue.

Josh Hamilton has been a great Texas Ranger so far. What he has done while in Arlington can not be over shadowed one bit. However, as big a fan of Hamilton that I am if I had to choose I’d take Fielder. And here is why – 89, 133, 121.

Josh Hamilton is an injury risk as he had proven over the past 3 seasons. When healthy he is one of the best in the game, but he doesn’t do anyone any good on the disabled list. He’s a free swinger that doesn’t walk much. He hasn’t been a huge presence in the post-season for the most part, but the threat is always there.

Hamilton wants to play center field which just isn’t a good idea considering how fragile he can be and reckless going after balls. He’s a great outfielder with great speed and a great arm, but he belongs on the corner just to keep him healthy.

Many people might point to his past with drugs and throw that out as another reason to lean toward Fielder. It’s not an issue for me, and it does not garner any weight in my decision.

Prince Fielder is just the better long term bet for the Rangers regardless of how great Hamilton is in the community or clubhouse. He is 3 years younger, less of an injury risk, and has put up incredible numbers over his career. He is a huge power threat that would feast hitting in Arlington. He walks a lot more than Hamilton and thus has a bit higher on base percentage whereas the slugging is about the same.

You still get the powerful left-handed bat in the lineup that you have with Josh, but you also open up some opportunities. Mitch Moreland might not command much on the open market, but he might give you something in return. Or he could add depth to your corner outfield.

The Rangers don’t have a lot of depth in the minors at outfield, but if they do decide to go with Fielder they have some chips to move that could bring outfield help. With Fielder at first for the next 5 or 6 years and Beltre signed through 2015, that could free up Mike Olt as a trade piece. Olt is a highly thought of third base prospect who could be moved to first.

Plus with the addition of Yu Darvish to the rotation, there might be a chance to move one of your starters for prospects.

Either way the Rangers will have a star. And looking back just 3 short years you never would have thought the Rangers would be in this position. It’s an exciting time to be  a Texas Rangers fan.

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A Look at the World Series in the Year of the Dragon


It’s a quite day here in South Korea. It’s Lunar New Year so almost everything is closed and the streets are quieter than most days. It’s cold outside and I have been huddled inside my apartment passing the time by blogging, reading, and watching some TV. I threw on Moneyball because I didn’t have much else to watch when I got a thought. This year is the Year of the Dragon, but who has fared the best during the “Dragon” years?

Let’s take a look.

1904 Wood Dragon
No World Series was played. The Boston Americans won the American League pennant again with the New York Giants winning the NL Pennant. The Giants refused to play the champions of the “junior” circuit. The previous season the Americans had defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in a series set up by the two teams, not by the leagues.

1916 Fire Dragon
Boston Red Sox 4, Brooklyn Robins 1
The Red Sox won their 4th title and 2nd in a row defeating the Brooklyn Robins (Dodgers) in 5 games. The Red Sox were led by a young 23 game winning pitcher who led the league in ERA at 1.75 that goes by the name of Babe Ruth.

1928 Earth Dragon
New York Yankees 4, St. Louis Cardinals 0
For the first time a team swept the opposition in two straight series as the Yankees led by slugger Babe Ruth defeated the Cardinals for its 3rd title. The Yankees dominated the series outscoring St. Louis 27 to 10.

1940 Metal Dragon
Cincinnati Reds 4, Detroit Tigers 3
The Reds would capture their 2nd title and first since the infamous 1919 Series. Reds’ manager Bill McKechnie became the first manager to win a title with 2 different teams (he won in 1925 with Pittsburgh).

1952 Water Dragon
New York Yankees 4, Brooklyn Dodgers 3
The Yankees won their 4th title in a row (they would win a 5th in a row the next year). It was the Yankees 15th title. Mickey Mantle would hit his first World Series home run in Game 6.

1964 Wood Dragon
St. Louis Cardinals 4, New York Yankees 3
The Cardinals won their 7th World Series title defeating the Yankees. The Yankees would not be seen again in the World Series until 1976.

1976 Fire Dragon
Cincinnati Reds 4, New York Yankees 3
The Big Red Machine won its second title in a row cruising by the Yankees for its 4th title overall. This was the first World Series to use the DH. The Reds dominated outscoring the Yankees 22-8 in the 4 games.

1988 Earth Dragon
Los Angeles Dodgers 4, Oakland Athletics 1
This one will be remembered for the heroics of Kirk Gibson in Game 1. The Dodgers were led by Cy Young winner Orel Hershiser (23-8) who would also win the series MVP award. The Dodgers outscored the heavily favored A’s 21-11.

2000 Metal Dragon
New York Yankees 4, New York Mets 1
The Yankees would win their 3rd straight championship and 26th overall. Derek Jeter won the MVP in what was dubbed the “subway series”. This was the last time we have seen a repeat winner.

2012 Water Dragon ????
So who will come out on top in this year of the dragon?

In the previous 8 World Series played during years of the dragon, both leagues have 4 wins. Of those 4 wins for the AL, 3 of them are from the New York Yankees. For the NL, the Reds have the most wins with 2. Does this mean we could have a Yankees/Reds World Series this year? I guess anything is possible.

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Major League Baseball Will Miss Drayton McLane


Major League Baseball will miss Drayton McLane, former owner of the Houston Astros. He was simply one of the good guys in the game and not enough can be said about how this game could use more men like him.

Too many times we read of an owner who is meddling with the team and doesn’t know when to step back and let others do their jobs. Or a team is owned by a huge corporation where there is no face of the franchise and thus little or no personality. Some are outspoken which can be good and bad. Some are only in it for the money to be made and not putting a winner on the field. But I never got this feeling about the Astros when they were owned by McLane.

I am not here to say that all owners in baseball are bad. Honestly I don’t know most of them. I don’t read a lot about them, nor do I really care too much about them. McLane was a little different though. He was from my home town of Temple, Texas.

I have never been a huge Astros fan but I have never been a huge Astros hater either. A large part of the later comes from the fact McLane owned the team for so many years.

McLane purchased the Astros in 1993 when I was in high school. It was a big deal in our small little town of about 50,000 people. The first year or two he owned the team they had a special day called “Temple Day in the Dome” where may of the people from my hometown went to a game and had a reception following the game. Busses of people went down to show their support, but I was never able to attend. Even before this, he was always a generous kind man.

During the summer of 1993 my Pony League baseball team needed money to travel to Dallas for a regional tournament. Who stepped up? Drayton McLane did. Even though we were not able to make the trip due to other circumstances, he was there donating the money we needed to make the trip. He always showed support for our high school baseball program, and even spoke at our awards banquet my senior year. It was a pleasure getting to know him even just a little.

McLane did a lot of good for Houston and the Astros. He built Minute Maid Park, took the Astros to their first ever World Series in 2005, and for a period of 13 seasons the Astros ranked 2nd in the National League in winning percentage at .543.

I have read a lot of articles and interviews where the press said he was always available. He always answered their questions and made time for them. He was a visible owner at all times but not so much in a Jerry Jones in your face way. Every time I turned on the Astros game, you could see him sitting behind home plate sometimes with the likes of former president George H. W. Bush.

Some have said he was too involved, especially these last few years when the Astros have been horrible. Even if that is true, which I don’t know for sure, he has done more good for the team and the city that he ever did harm.

MLB will miss Drayton McLane. Whatever he decides to do in the future I know everyone wishes him well and he will be successful. I will continue to root for the Astros, except when they play my favorite teams of course and most of that is simply because of Mr. McLane and what he has done.

So thank you Drayton McLane for all you have done. You will be missed. MLB was a better place with you in its ranks.

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2011 ALDS – Texas Rangers vs Tampa Bay Rays Recap


This was hands down one of the most exciting series played in recent memory. Whether you are a Rays fan (they do exist right?) or Rangers fan, you were given a lot of intense postseason baseball.

We saw the coming out party of the best young pitching prospect in the game in Matt Moore. Moore dominated the Rangers in Game 1 going 7 innings allowing only 2 hits while striking out 6. He was simply dominate. He even came back in Game 4 on 3 days rest to pitch 3 innings and only made one mistake that Adrian Beltre hit out in left, but this kid is for real.

I like the Rays, underdogs are always fun, but I don’t root for them against the Rangers. Regardless of Rays fan or not, you have to be excited about what Moore will do in the future. While I hope it doesn’t come true, I did find it funny seeing all the comments in the Twitterverse about how Moore will be the best Yankee soon. Sure he will have his ups and downs, but the AL East is going to be competitive when you put Moore alongside Price and the rest of that young Rays staff. Look for more of the same from them in the future making the playoffs.

Game 2 sung a different tune with the Rangers holding on to win 8-6. The Dutch Oven, Derek Holland, pitched well but not great throwing a lot of pitches in 5 innings. However, the Ranger’s bats showed up this time and pounded Rays starter James Shields for 7 runs. Perhaps the most surprising thing was they did it without the long ball. They scored 8 runs, but only 1 came on a long ball while Tampa continued to hit the long ball with 2 more.

Ogando showed how valuable he is coming in and shutting down the Rays in the 6th overpowering them. Koji Uehara had a rough outing allowing a 3-run bomb to Longoria in the 7th that cut the lead to only 1.

But like all year the Rangers responded. Darren Oliver came in to quiet the Rays hitters setting it up for Adams and Feliz in the 8th and 9th. And Mitch Moreland came up with a huge home run to give the Rangers a little cushion.

Game 3 was more of the same with the Rangers holding on late to win. Desmond Jennings put the Rays on top in the 4th with a solo home run which also turned out to be the only hit Colby Lewis would allow. Texas responded in the 7th with a great at bat and a huge home run by Mike Napoli to put the Rangers up 2-1 over David Price. Still in the 7th Roy Hobbs himself Josh Hamilton came up with a huge hit to extend the lead to 4-1.

From there it was a matter of holding off the Rays rallies. They got a run back in the 7th off of Oliver who couldn’t find his way, but was bailed out by Ogando once again. Mike Adams struggled in the 8th with perhaps his worst outing of his career which all started with Desmond Jennings 2nd home run of the game.

It took a 4 out save from Feliz to close the door and give Texas the 2-1 lead in the series. But what shouldn’t be overlooked is how good Lewis was from the get go. Colby once again had a great outing in the postseason. This time he went 6 innings allowing only 1 hit and striking out 6 along the way. He has really stepped up huge in playoff games the past 2 years.

Game 4 was the Adrian Beltre show. Heading into the game Beltre didn’t have an extra base hit in the playoffs. After the game he not only had 3 extra-base hits but 3 home runs. Beltre hit 3 solo shots to power the Rangers past the Rays and into the ALCS. Two of the home runs came off of Rays starter Hellickson who hadn’t given up 3 home runs in a game ever, until tonight. Ian Kinsler also got to him leading off the game with a solo shot. But even after Hellickson left and phenom Matt Moore entered, Beltre wasn’t done. He touched up Moore for a solo shot as well in the 7th which proved to be the difference in the end.

Matt Harrison had a good outing going 5 innings and striking out a season high 9. Derek Holland came in to through an inning and a third out of the pen, and after pitching in the 6th and 7th innings in the previous 2 games Ogando threw a perfect 8th inning setting it up for Feliz to close it out in the 9th.

With the win the Rangers will face the winner of the Detroit/New York series which goes to a game 5 on Thursday night. I don’t think the Rangers care who they play since they seem to just go about their own business and get to work. Regardless of who it is, it should make for some great baseball.

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And Then There Was One…..Game Left That Is


And we were down to one.  After 161 games, the Atlanta Braves and the hated (at least by this blogger) St. Louis Cardinals are tied with a single game to go.

So what will happen over the next 24-48 hours? Whatever it is, it will be fun to watch.

What looks good for Atlanta:

1. Tim Hudson is starting in game 162. Hudson has been the best pitcher for the Braves all year, and if the Braves could have 1 pitcher to throw in an important game it would be him.

2. Joe Blanton is starting for Philly. Not that Blanton is a pushover, but he isn’t exactly Cole Hamels (who was slated to start). Blanton is coming out of the bullpen to replace Hamels as the Phillies start to get their rotation in order.

3. Some Philly starters might get a rest. They may not get the entire game off, but there is a possibility that they are pulled early and/or some bullpen pitchers will not be used in order to give them a rest. This is all up in the air and may be game situation type moves, but they could go in the favor of the Braves.

What looks good for St. Louis:

1. First and maybe foremost, they are playing the Astros. Despite the fact the Astros could play spoilers to a division rival, they have still lost 100+ games.

2. The Cardinals have Chris Carpenter starting in a huge game. The numbers might not tell it, but Carpenter is a big game pitcher. His ERA and WHIP are a bit higher than normal maybe, but if I am a Cards fan I want him pitching in a big game.

Whatever happens tomorrow, the one thing I don’t want is a game 163. The Braves just don’t have the starting pitching, outside of Hudson, to really compete in a do-or-die situation. But in a game like that you never know what might happen.

I know I’ll be up early tomorrow to watch the games. The Braves start just after 8am local time for me. You can catch me on Twitter at @BaseballJourney talking baseball and either getting really excited or angry in the process. Say hey if you are on during the game.

 

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NL Wild Card Race Heating Up


The wild card race in the NL is heating up with just 3 games to go. Atlanta has played horribly over the past month, while St. Louis has really turned things on and put a lot of pressure on the Braves.

The Braves are fighting hard to stay in the lead for the NL Wild Card, but if the current trend continues, they will be on the outside looking in. They end the year against the best team in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies. However, out in St. Louis the Cardinals look like they will make the playoffs despite playing from behind. Why?

The Cardinals face off with the team with the worst record in baseball, the Houston Astros.

But don’t count the Astros as simply a push over. A few weeks ago they took 2-out-of-3 from Philly, and they have nothing to lose. That is always something to be considered. A team whose season ended long ago would love nothing better than to keep a rival out of the playoffs.

A look at the pitching match ups for the Phillies/Braves match up:

Game 1: Cliff Lee vs Randall Delgado

The Phillies have one of the best pitchers in baseball pitching the first game of the series in Cliff Lee. Lee is 16-8 and sporting a 2.38 ERA for the year. He is an ace on a team full of aces.

Randell Delgado has never pitched a bigger game in his career, and this will only be his 7th start in the Majors. But his first 6 have been good. He is coming off his career win against Florida, a game in which he went 5 shutout innings. He has pitched well, but he is young and doesn’t go deep into games.

Game 2: Roy Oswalt vs Derek Lowe

Roy Oswalt isn’t the 20 game winner of the past, but he is still a very good pitcher. His record sits at 8-10 with an ERA of 3.86. Two of his last 3 starts though he has gotten pounded by two of the worst teams in baseball (Washington and Houston). He sandwiched those bad outings with good starts against St. Louis and Atlanta.

Derek Lowe has been atrocious this year. His 9-16 record is the worst is his worst since 2010 when he went 5-10 for Boston. He has lost 4 games in a row and in only one of those did he have a “quality start”. He hasn’t pitched well of late at all.

Game 3: Cole Hamels vs Tim Hudson

Cole Hamels has been great this year. His 14-9 record might not look that impressive, but his 2.75 ERA and 0.98 WHIP sure do. He has had some good outings in the past weeks but mix in have been some not so good outings as well.

Tim Hudson has been the ace of the Braves staff again this year. So far he is 16-10 with a 3.23 ERA and a WHIP of 1.14. He has won 2 straight but the 2 before that weren’t so good and 1 was against Philly. But expect him to pitch a huge game on the final day of the season. You can bet it will matter in the end.

Prediction: This is hard because I really am a Braves homer. I freely admit they are my favorite team. But looking at this objectively, I think it could easily go 2-1 in favor of either squad. The Braves have a lot to play for and I think Chipper and the boys will be up for the challenge.

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