Tag Archive | "National League"

Who Would Have Thought…..


Who would have thought…..

There are several of these this season so far. I think the biggest one is who would have thought the Baltimore Orioles would be this good?

Heading into tonight’s play, the Orioles are atop the AL East with a 27-15 record which is the best in the American League. Not only are they in first but the whole division seems to be turned upside down with the Yankees and Red Sox in 4th and 5th place.

There seems to be a surprise in just about every division.

AL Central

Who would have thought the Detroit Tigers would be under .500 and trailing not only the Cleveland Indians but the Chicago White Sox?

AL West

I think everyone though the Rangers would be at the top of the division, but who would have though the Angels would be bringing up the rear? They are 8 games out of first and 6 games under .500 already this season. Albert Pujols just hasn’t hit yet but they could easily turn it around. Maybe.

NL East

I think we thought the Washington Nationals would be good, but this good? They are trailing the Braves by a half game and have played really well this season. Perhaps the bigger surprise is the fall of the Phillies. So far they are in last place 5 games out and a game under  .500 but they have had a lot of big injuries.

NL Central

Not any huge surprises here. Cincinnati and St. Louis are tied for first, but Pittsburgh and Houston are next in the standings which might be the biggest surprise.

NL West

The Los Angeles Dodgers have the best record in baseball. Not sure anyone saw that coming with all the off the field issues they have had. They are hot of late (8-2 in last 10) and are almost unbeatable at home going 19-4.

I think the Orioles are the biggest surprise so far. I hope they can keep it up. It’s nice to see teams that haven’t won in a few years return to the top of the league. It’s time for some new blood in the playoffs.

What do you think is the biggest surprise so far?

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This is a Great Time of Year – Baseball is Back


The baseball season is upon us, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was needing this distraction.

I’m really looking forward to the Braves and Rangers seasons. I’ll be blogging about the Braves, my all-time favorite team, at a new site, Braves Baseball World (I’m just getting it up and going – should be finished soon).

I’m looking forward to watching a lot of Rangers as well, but not because I think they will win the World Series. But mainly because of the intense rivalry with the hated Angels this year.  It hasn’t been this exciting since Vincente Padilla pitched for the Rangers and loved starting bench clearing brawls by throwing at hitters.

C.J. Wilson is now an Angel, and has already started heating things up by Tweeting Mike Napoli’s phone number. Sure he may have played it off as a joke or accident, but nobody really thinks so. He can be a douche that way. I look forward to the games when he pitches. Not that it will be easy. He is a solid pitcher.

Then add in that the Angels signed Albert Pujols, and you have the makings of a really good pennant race. And let’s be honest, there is nothing better in baseball than a good pennant race. This one could go down to the final day of the season. We’ll just have to wait and see how things go.

I’m am really anxious to see Yu Darvish pitch as well. I watched him a bit during the spring games, but nothing is like regular season competition. I’ll be tuned in with millions of others in Asia watching his first game against Ichiro and the Mariners on Monday night.

There are a lot of other interesting teams this year too. Washington could do some damage in the NL and Toronto could make it a four team race in the NL East.

I love this time of year.

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2012 MLB Predictions


The 2012 MLB season starts in less than 24 hours for most teams. With the rosters set, I’d thought I’d take a stab at who will win what this year. I probably won’t get close, but it’s always fun to predict and see how far off you came.

NL East – You can see a more detailed explanation here.
1.Philadelphia Phillies 96-66
2.Atlanta Braves 90-72
3. Washington Nationals 87-75
4. Miami Marlins 72-90
5. New York Mets 68-94

NL West
1. Arizona Diamondbacks 91-71
2. Los Angeles Dodgers 85-77
3. San Francisco Giants 80-82
4. Colorado Rockies 80-82
5. San Diego Padres 65-97

NL Central
1. Cincinnati Reds 90-72
2. St. Louis Cardinals 87-75
3. Milwaukee Brewers 84-78
4. Pittsburgh Pirates 76-86
5. Chicago Cubs 75-87
6. Houston Astros 61-101

AL East
1. New York Yankees 97-65
2. Tampa Bay Rays 91-71
3. Boston Red Sox 85-79
4. Toronto Blue Jays 82-82
5. Baltimore Orioles 70-92

AL West
1. Texas Rangers 95-67
2. Anaheim Angels 90-72
3. Seattle Mariners 84-78
4. Oakland A’s 70-92

AL Central
1. Detroit Tigers 98-64
2. Cleveland Indians 85-77
3. Kansas City Royals 84-78
4. Chicago WhiteSox 68-94
5. Minnesota Twins 65-97

Playoffs

NL WC Playoff Atlanta def St. Louis

NLDS Philadelphia def Atlanta 3-1

NLDS Arizona def Cincinnati 3-1

NLCS Arizona def Philadelphia 4-2

AL WC Tampa Bay def Anaheim

ALDS Tampa Bay def Detroit 3-2

ALDS Texas def New York 3-1

ALCS Texas def Tampa Bay 4-2

2012 World Series Texas Rangers def Arizona Diamondbacks 4-0

I just have the feeling the Rangers will be back with a vengeance this year and will accomplish what they have never done before. Who knows what will happen, but I know it will be fun watching it all unfold.

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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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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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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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Albert Pujols – Best Player Right Now?


Albert Pujols is an amazing hitter. At only 31 years-old, Pujols has already reached elite status with some astounding stats. When you look at his worst year in the big leagues, it looks like the stat line of someone’s career year. In 2007, he only hit .327 (in 1 full seasons he only hit lower twice), 32 homeruns  (his lowest total ever), 103 RBI (again his lowest total), and only 99 runs (the only time he was below 100). That stat line is better than most players can dream of in the big leagues and this was probably his worst season in the bigs. Simply put he is a crazy good hitter.

If you add that to some of the other stats he has put up, he is a sure fire first ballot hall of famer. Six times he has hit 40 homeruns, hit 50 doubles twice, the 2003 NL batting champ, two time gold glove winner, a 30 game hitting streak, a nine time all-star, three time NL MVP, 2001 NL Rookie of the Year, six time silver slugger winner, and apart of the 2006 World Series champions.

But one of the more amazing things with Pujols, is how everyone says how great a guy he is. Do you hear that about some of the other big stars? No! I have NEVER heard anyone say that about Alex Rodriguez who might be the best comparable star. And recently 60 Minutes did a gret job showing what a great guy Pujols is. The only hope for this baseball fan, and I am not a Cardinals fan, is that Pujols is never linked to PEDs (steroids). I don’t think it will happen, but in today’s day and age you never really know.

Pujols is not only putting up amazing numbers, but he is doing it in a time where fans are skeptical and they need a star who they know is clean. I think Pujols is that player. Of course, I don’t know 100% that he never took them, but I am confident he never has. That means the game of baseball has a star, and perhaps the best of the biggest, that is clean AND a good guy. In today’s day and age that is something that is hard to find.

If you missed it, check out the interview with Pujols and see just why everyone says he is a great guy. I’d love to hear your thoughts after you have seen it.

Albert Pujols on 60 Minutes – Click Here to watch it on YouTube

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Opening Day Memories


Opening Day is romantic, rejuvenating, sentimental, fun, and exciting all rolled in one and to me it should be a national holiday. Baseball is a reminder that spring is here and things are starting a new. For many teams it is the only time of year that many teams have a glimmer of hope.

When I was back in the States working I would use a vacation day to take the day off and either attend a game or sit at home and watch baseball all day long. But with all the good memories come some not so great ones as well.

First, let me take a look at some of the better memories.

I can remember several times waking up early in the morning to catch the first pitch of the season coming from somewhere overseas like Japan. In 2008, the Oakland A’s and Boston Red Sox started the season out in Japan and I was up at 3am (or whatever time it was in the US) to watch those games. Some may call me crazy or say that I am hardcore, but I love it.

Several times I was able to attend Opening Day at the Ballpark in Arlington (dubbed the “Temple” by the guys from Sports Radio 1310 in Dallas). Each time I made it the weather was gorgeous, the fans were lively, and the games were great no matter who won. I love seeing pomp and circumstance around the first game. The pagentry of seeing the anthem being sung by a star sometimes (saw Jessica Simpson sing it before I knew who she was), seeing the giant flag out on the field and either jets/bombers flying over the stadium or the bald eagle flying to home plate. With it all wrapped up in one, it makes for such a great experience.

If I couldn’t make it to a game, my routine would be gathering some “baseball” food such as hot dogs, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and a cold beverage to sit down on the couch and watch as many games as possible. ESPN always did a great job of showing multiple games throughout the day. Then the Holy Grail came along in MLB Extra Innings which used to (don’t know if they still do it) give a free preview for a week.

Missing the first pitch of the season is not something I like to do, but sometimes it happens. This year I just arrived back in South Korea and was a little jet lagged still from the 30 hour trip out here. The first game of the year started about 2am here locally, and I was simply unable to stay up and watch it. It was a little frustrating, but it just wasn’t going to happen. It looks like I will miss the Rangers first game as well on Friday because I don’t have internet in my apartment yet. Again, it is a little frustrating but once things get rolling here again I will be able to watch a lot of baseball since the night games back home come on here in the morning before I go to work.

I seem to have little luck in watching my favorite team play on Opening Day, the Atlanta Braves. This year was jet-lag. Last year I was again in South Korea, but I was up and ready to watch the game only to have MLB.tv not work. That was VERY frustrating. I was up early in the morning and the game was not being shown due to technical difficulties. But this wasn’t the only time I had issues. In 2009, I got the chance to go to Atlanta to see the opening game. I couldn’t have been more excited. For the previous 20+ years I had rooted for the Braves good or bad, but it was always from afar. Being able to attend the festivities was going to be amazing for me. The only problem was nobody told mother nature how excited I was.

The game went into a rain delay as it stormed quite hard. The game was halted and my friend and I went home to watch the game on TV only to have the game to go into extra innings. The Braves did win, I did have a good time, but it wasn’t what I had expected for my first Opening Day in Atlanta. I hope to go back one day to see it once again.

Overall, Opening Day is one of the best days for me, but it really is only the beginning of my favorite part of the year – baseball season. After today there is another 182 days of what I like to refer to as “summer greatness”. Then it gets even better with all the greatness that comes with the fall season and the Fall Classic.

So no matter who you root for, today is a day to renew your love of the game, have faith in your team, and have a little hope that your team will see the light of day in October.

I’d love to hear any stories you have of Opening Day’s from the past.

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New Era (eFashion Solutions)

Quote of the Month

There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem - once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit. ~Al Gallagher, 1971

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