Archive for the ‘MLB’ Category

Ozzie Guillen finally ran his mouth right into some real trouble. The Marlins are effectively letting him get away with it. And, well, that’s rather inexcusable.

Because I’m a guy who’s all about contest, I think you should know what I was doing from about 10 am til noon earlier today:
-Watched and cringed while people on ESPN made excuses for Ozzie Guillen (more on that later)
-Re-read a pretty good post on the subject (sorta) by Keith Olbermann
-Thought about tweeting something on this subject
-Got motivated to blog about Ozzie Guillen, only to realize that I had to work today
-Got an idea to use a work tablet to post said blog, only to realize that blogging on a tablet while working at a computer is a terrible idea
-Decided to write notes in a notebook (!!!) to put on said Internet blog later

So, let’s just say that I give a crap about this. By now, you should be familiar with what Ozzie Guillen said to get in trouble in the first place. Of course, he has come out and apologized “twice”—(the first apology mentioned him being sick to his stomach—that could have just meant that he had something bad to eat the night before)—even once in Spanish!

[And this is where I interject with a note about the ridiculous Ozzie apologists. I’ve heard everything from “Well since he doesn’t normally speak English, maybe he thought he was saying something different!” to “Part of the reason you even hire Ozzie is because he’s so outspoken!” Sure, let’s just be enablers every time some fun loving guy that likes to run his mouth says something out of line! If we’re going to let people say what they want to say without any sort of boundaries, let’s just not get mad at ANYTHING! Yeah…no.]

But this post isn’t (supposed to be) as much about Ozzie as it is his employer. The Marlins suspended Guillen five games for…something. I haven’t quite figured out what this punishment is for just yet. Let’s think about what Guillen said. He respected and loved Fidel Castro. This is a guy who ruined people’s lives in Cuba. People who ended up fleeing to—Miami!!! The new Marlins Park is in–LITTLE HAVANA! There’s no excuse for what he said. Can you think of any other coach in any major sport who would still have a job after saying something like that (or at least suffer a significant suspension/fine)? I’ll wait while you think of someone…

Now, I think it is important to recognize a few things:
-The Marlins just opened a new stadium and spent money on free agents for the first time…ever.
-Ozzie Guillen was hired as manager—in part to appeal to the Latino fan base
-Should Ozzie be suspended for a significant period of time, there’s no telling how such a move would impact the team
But, that shouldn’t have mattered. Ozzie made a statement that could easily offend a group of people that his employer (the Marlins) is trying to cater to. In an effort to show that…they’re “serious about not having stuff like this happen”, they slap Guillen on the wrist. (Mind you, this is a Marlins team that sent Logan Morrison to the minors for essentially being too social.)

The Marlins seem to be turning a deaf ear to all of this. There are prominent people in the Cuban community who want Guillen fired. You know, the people the Marlins are trying to court as fans! Remember Hank Williams Jr? Al Campanis? I could go on and on with people who have said offensive statements and ended up being punished for it. You shouldn’t be able to get away with what Ozzie said. I know that he was suspended, but you get a five game suspension for throwing behind a batter. I’m sure he feels bad. That just means he has a conscience. The Marlins are dropping the ball big time. I’m not saying that he should be fired, but something more than a slap on the wrist seems warranted here. This type of stuff should never be tolerated, but the Marlins seem to think otherwise.

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Because, I think you need something to read this evening!

So, I felt compelled to write an MLB preview for the regular season. You may have read it. Now that the season is over, I thought it would be fun to look at the questions I asked, and try to come up with some answers. Just wait until we get to those predictions!!!

1. Is this the Year of the Pitcher again?
Well, ESPN would have you believe that this is the Year of the QB. But, MLB pitchers did quite well also. There were 16 pitchers who finished with an earned run average below three, 20 pitchers who finished with at least 15 wins, 3 pitchers who finished with a WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) below 1, (that’s absolutely amazing) 14 pitchers who recorded at least 200 strikeouts, and (let me get nerdy) 11 pitchers with an FIP below three, and 15 pitchers who had a WAR of at least five. So, the answer to this question was yes. A big YES, even. Also, Justin Verlander (AL) and Clayton Kershaw (NL—you may have seen his name in my preview) won the pitching Triple Crown (led in wins, ERA and strikeouts) for their respective leagues. That’s pretty impressive.

2. Is it time for instant replay in baseball?
Sure, why not? I think if you mention the name Jerry Meals to Pirates fans, they might either deck you or start sobbing. There were some pretty horrific calls throughout the season, but the call by Meals is one that sticks out a little more than the others. I’m not sure how it can be implemented in a way that works, but I’m sure it’s coming. Again, I’m sorry, Pirates fans.

3. How much is Albert Pujols worth?
Well, I think we’re about to find out. He just missed hitting .300/30/100 (that’s average/HRs/RBI for those of you who didn’t know) for the 35th year in a row. (Or something close to that) The Cardinals just made the playoffs, which gives him a chance to further increase his contract demands.

(By the way, I have to give credit to the St. Louis Cardinals. Everyone and their mistress’s mother counted them out once Adam Wainwright was sidelined for the season (before it started). And, well, they looked out of it at the beginning of the month. But Lance Berkman had a great year, and Pujols came back from a broken wrist…and, they’re in the playoffs. Remarkable job.)

I think the verdict is in on Pujols. If Carl Crawford can get a bazillion dollar contract, Pujols will probably get a kajillion. I think that’s more than a bazillion. Can someone check that for me?

4. Do the Braves qualify for the Ewing Theory now that Bobby Cox is no longer the manager?
Well, uh, no. I think you had a number of things (offensive struggles, starters who could not “eat” innings, (they’d probably taste like Cracker Jack and hot dogs. Who wouldn’t want that?) an overworked bullpen, and a Cardinals team that played well while the Braves didn’t) that led to the Braves missing the playoffs. Though, you could make the case that this team backed into the postseason last year. So, the Ewing Theory turned out to be a bit of a stretch. One can only hope that the Braves will be eager to not play like they did in September, and carry that sense of urgency throughout next season.

5. Now, how about those predictions?
What I Got Right: The Nationals did have a better record than the Orioles. The Nationals finished 80-81. The Orioles? 69-93. BOOMSHAKALAKA!
What I Got Wrong: Everything else! Terry Francona as Manager of the Year? Not so much. Brad Emaus as Rookie of the Year? Uh, I don’t think he even played much this year. Braves over the Yankees in the World Series? LOLOLOLOLOL.

So, okay. My predictions turned out pretty horribly. But that’s the beauty of sports—you’re not supposed to know! I’m looking forward to the playoffs, even if it’s only for the bunting. This season had a lot of twists and turns, which means that the playoffs themselves will likely be pretty boring and anti-climactic. Sorry, folks!

Hey America, remember me?

I know, it’s been a while. I can pretend that I’ve been too busy living off the euphoria of correctly predicting the Super Bowl result, but that would be lying. I just having been motivated. But enough about my horrific case of writer’s block. There may or may not be a baseball season on the horizon!!! Of course, MLB is throwing us a curve ball by starting the season on a Thursday (who cares that a more traditional start would be the following Monday—eff yo tradition!). Because of this, I need to run out a preview that doesn’t look like I just read a bunch of stuff in ESPN the Magazine (which I did anyway, but you did too). I asked my readers what they’d like to see in this preview, and I also came up with a few questions myself. So, here goes…something, I suppose. Your All Fat 2011 MLB Preview starts right now!!!

1. Is this the Year of the Pitcher Again?
I think you can consider 2010 a successful year for pitchers in general–especially when Ubaldo Jiminez (he who started the season 16 and 1(!!)) is the 11th ranked pitcher in ESPN’s Fantasy Baseball projections. The San Francisco Giants rode their great young pitching (when a guy with the name Madison Bumgarner is winning World Series games for your team, you’re getting some sweet blessings from the Baseball Gods). The CY Young winners for the respective leagues (Roy Halladay in the NL; Felix Please Don’t Call Him King (if you want to be my friend) Hernandez in the AL) don’t seem to be slowing down. There were also notable moves (Cliff Lee to the Phillies, Zack Grienke and

If I named my child Ubaldo, would he turn into a great pitcher. If you're female and reading this, don't answer that.

Shawn Marcum to the Brewers) and guys expected to make The Leap (which really doesn’t matter, since Major League Baseball is shockingly bad at marketing its stars, but anyway—Clayton Kershaw and Tommy Hanson to name a few). Of course, it will probably be the Era of the Pitcher because of one thing…

Don’t act like you’re not thinking what I’m thinking…

PLAYERS CAN’T JUICE UP ANYMORE!!! Because of this, the high home run seasons (I’m looking at you, Jose Bautista) will be more the exception than the norm. And with teams treating young pitchers like babies with care, there will be more pitchers ready to make a splash as the years go by. And I lose more hair.

2. Is it time for instant replay in baseball?
I really consider myself rather old-fashioned. I’m not necessarily resistant to change, but I do have a little bit of trouble with having to change things just because people are complaining about it. Case in point: replay in baseball! Do you know how long this league has been in existence? (Yes, there are varying opinions of when the league started, but whatever) If you guessed “142 years,” you would be correct. So, a league that’s been in existence for that long needs replay now? My God, can we keep the human element in something?!!? Now, being the wannabe historian that I am, I can think of three times in my lifetime where having replay (beyond the current setup of determining whether or not someone hit/didn’t hit a home

OK, so this was a bit controversial.

run) could have mattered:
1. The 1985 World Series, Game 6
2. The 1996 ALCS, Game 1. Perhaps you know of one Jeffrey Maier?
3. Tigers-Indians, last year. Or, when Jim Joyce “kicked the shit” at the end of the game.
That’s it! Braves fans, please don’t talk to me about last year’s NLDS. The ability to instantly flip out about something and broadcast it to everyone has really made this more of an issue than it needs to be. That doesn’t mean that we need to adopt a system where plays can be challenged (similar to football). These poor umpires are already under enough pressure as it is. Let’s keep the human element in something, please?

3. How much is Albert Pujols worth?
You may have heard about a guy named Albert Pujols being a free agent after the season ends. You may have also heard that he’s pretty good. Both of these are true. His first ten years in the league have been more prolific than just about anyone else.

Now, the money part. According to sources, (easily my second least favorite thing about news behind unfortunate fashion from sports broadcasters on TV) Albert wants a ten-year, 300 million dollar contract. Yes, you read that correctly. 300 million dollars. And oh, by the way, he’s 31 years old. You’ll never hear me actually use “in this economy” and mean it. I’m sure that the Cardinals actually have the money. But. Do you want a quarter of your salary tied up in an aging slugger (when recent history shows that these guys don’t age well)? On the flip side, can you really let the greatest current hitter in the league just get away? While

The current highest paid player in baseball. Pucker up!

the Pirates may have never recovered from letting Barry Bonds go, (way back in 1993) the Cardinals actually have other good players throughout the roster. It’s hard for me to justify making someone the highest paid player in baseball “just because he deserves it.” But hey, I’m not a decision maker for the Cardinals (that’s probably a good idea, obviously). Will Albert end up getting what he “wants”? Or will he be in another uniform next year? (I gotta say, if he does an MLB version of The Decision, I’d probably be OK with that)

4. Do the Braves qualify for the Ewing Theory now that Bobby Cox is no longer the manager?
You may or may not have heard of the Patrick Ewing Theory in sports. Of course, it’s never really been applied to a coach or manager. But, Bobby Cox coached the Braves for 25 years! And yes, as great as those teams were, you’d be kidding yourself if you didn’t have reservations about Cox’s “strategy” in the playoffs. I’m not saying that you should be winning the championship every year, but let’s do a quick run through of the MLB champions in the years that the Braves made the playoffs (*denotes a year where the Braves made the World Series):
1991-Twins*
1992-Blue Jays*
1993-Blue Jays
1994-Guess. And yes, that’s a trick question
1995-Braves (which people will dispute since only 144 games were played–those people can suck it)
1996-Yankees*
1997-Marlins. Yes THE FLORIDA MARLINS
1998-Yankees
1999-Yankees*
2000-Yankees
2001-Diamondbacks
2002-Angels
2003-Marlins
2004-Red Sox
2005-White Sox
2010-Giants
So, out of 16 seasons in the playoffs, Atlanta has one really ugly trophy title to show for it. Really? Once again, your team’s not the best team every year. But this list just feels so empty. I really think that this change will be for the better—when it comes to winning titles. Because I’m not winning a “my team’s better than yours!” argument when I’m bragging about a bunch of division titles. Unless I’m debating with a Pirates fan.

5. So, humor us. Any predictions for the year?
I looked back at my predictions for the NBA season, and let’s just say that I probably got ahead of myself in saying that the Wizards, Pistons and Clippers would make the playoffs. But then again, who’s to say that I actually have to be RIGHT?!!? So, some random predictions:
-The Nationals will have a better record than the Orioles. Love Buck Showalter without wondering why he was fired from three different teams if you dare.
-NL Rookie of the Year: Brad Emaus. I dunno, I just like that name.
-AL Manager of the Year: Terry Francona. Because the fact that Boston spent 200+ million on marquee free

I did an image search for "LA Dodgers," and this came up. Whatever. Go with it.

agents couldn’t in any way help them get back to the playoffs, right?
-AL surprise team: Baltimore Orioles. Because they will be surprisingly awful.
-NL surprise team: Los Angeles Dodgers. Because I said so!
-Champion: Braves over Yankees in six. Because we owe them.
(Please, do not hold me to these predictions. But if I’m right, then, well, I told you so!!!)

Author’s note: I do want to thank those of you who take the time to read my posts. They’re a bit disjointed, and they’re always about sports. Hopefully I’ll get more active with posts down the road, including a view live blogs here and there. Anyway, thanks again for reading, I hope it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

I’m not making any promises, but the goal is to throw out three random thoughts from the weekend that hopefully are original each week. Let’s just hope that I can make it to three.

1. Brooks Conrad: Le sigh.
You know the story by now: The Atlanta Braves stormed back from a 4-0 deficit in Game 2, and were hosting the Giants before a packed house and lots of foam tomahawks. Then Brooks Conrad happened. And by

He'd probably commit an error here too, if given the chance.

“happened,” I mean, “I’m pretty sure he’s being paid by Brian Sabean.” Conrad had three errors in the game, two of which led to runs for San Francisco. The final score: 3-2, Giants. Yes, he had two pinch-hit grand slams during the regular season, including one that made Joe Simpson pull the “rodeo card.” Yes, I’m a Braves fan, and I may or may not have said mean things about Conrad after the game. But! There’s still a game left, and Brooks didn’t put any of those guys on base. Also, the Braves still had a chance to at least tie the game in the bottom of the inning, even though they had to do it against Brian Wilson. Still, there’s another chance for Brooks to either be a hero tonight, or he will remain a very plausible scapegoat for a team whose overall defense slipped mightily in the second half of the year, and stopped hitting sometime in 2003.

2. Alabama: Making everyone prisoners of the moment.
Obviously, you may have heard that Alabama lost to South Carolina, 35-21 Saturday. For some strange reason, the question I was asked the most was where both teams would be ranked after the game. (Let’s be honest, I think only three people asked me. But hey, who’s counting?) I was certain that the Tide would fall no further than fifth. This was the same team that had won 19 in a row, had the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, and a quarterback who had not lost since the eighth grade, right? Just one week ago, you could be convinced that Alabama was far and away the clear top team in the nation. Then Saturday happened. So, after that loss, while albeit a convincing one, Alabama is now the eighth best team in the country? And we’re still working with the premise that the SEC is the best conference, correct? And we knew that Alabama had a tough stretch of two road conference games in three weeks, all against ranked teams, correct? Are the pollsters really convinced that the seven teams in front of them are actually better than Alabama? But then again, it’s only Week 6. I guess that there’s plenty of time for things to get straightened out.

3. Because you didn’t ask: My top ten in college football.
Just to clear a few things up: No, I am not a pollster. No, this shouldn’t be taken (very) seriously. But, I’ve seen at least a portion of games played by the teams in this list. I also tried to consider opponents played, as well as…well, whatever, my criteria doesn’t really matter. I know that people will likely disagree, but this may or may not be an opinion. So, let’s calm down before you say, “OH MY GOD, HOW CAN YOU RANK THEM THERE?” So, without further ado:
1. Oregon (Only team in this list to beat another top ten team at the time. Also a win three time zones away in Knoxville)
2. Boise State (Every win except one by double digits, and, well, I liked those unis from the Virgina Tech game)
3. TCU (Only loss in the since last season happened to be to the team ranked above them)
4. Alabama (ONE loss in the last 20 games. And because there’s no way you’d say every one below would actually beat Alabama)
5. Ohio State (Plenty of double digit wins. But only one road game, and can you really trust the Buckeyes?)
6. Nebraska (All double digit wins. And Taylor Martinez is no Joe Ganz. Which is good, obviously)

Can someone give this guy a better name than T-Mobile, please?


7. LSU (Tell me you wouldn’t take Les Miles to a casino with you)
8. Utah (I don’t really like the defensive prospects of the two teams below, so, uh, yeah)
9. Auburn (We’ll see what they’re all about very soon, with games against LSU and Alabama all to come)
10. Oklahoma (Blew out Florida State, yes. But can you see them actually beating anyone above them in this list?)

I must say that I’m pretty surprised that I got through three subjects here. Hopefully, I’ll be able to drop one of these on a weekly basis. So, having said that, tune in next Monday!

In the 20 years that I’ve been watching sports, I could probably find about 34962 things that really stood out to me (Hey there, LeBron James!). However, since themes are cooler, I will turn them into twenty. Here’s the second of 20 sports moments (sincce 1990 that have made me the psycho sports fan that I am today. Cue the music!

Oh my, Luis Gonzalez, what big arms you have!

For the few, the proud people who proudly claim themselves to be an Arizona Diamondbacks fan, isn’t it weird to think that it’s almost been ten years since your team won the World Series? There are a lot of reasons why the 2001 World Series was great. (George Bush throwing out the first pitch, two Yankee comebacks against Byung-Hyun Kim, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling sharing MVP honors, and Derek Jeter becoming “Mr. November” are some examples.)

My (used to be) President can throw a baseball!

Also, it was the first major sports championship that was decided after 9/11. Lots of “big deal” potential with this World Series.

Fortunately, the teams staged a Game 7 to remember (unlike the *cough* most recent NBA Finals *cough*). Curt Schilling dueled against Roger Clemens (I mean, it was 2001, folks). The game was knotted at one until the 8th inning, when Alfonso Soriano (do you realize he’s played for four teams in the past seven years?) hit a home run to give the Yankees the lead. Since the Yankees had the lead, it was time for Mariano Rivera. You may have heard of him ; he happens to be the best postseason closer of all time. So…game over, right? You had to think that the Yankees were on their way to their fifth title since 1996.

Well, that’s why they play the game! You never know. While Rivera struck out the side in the eight,

Probably more than you ever expected to see of Luis Gonzalez, I'm sure.

things fell apart in the ninth. The Diamondbacks were able to load the bases, and Luis Gonzalez’s love tap bloop(?) single scored Jay Bell to win the game (and the Series, obviously). What’s more amazing about the Diamondbacks’s comeback was the not-quite Murderer’s Row of players that faced Rivera in the 9th inning (Damian Miller, Jay Bell, Tony Womack, Craig Counsell?? Le sigh.). I may have been the only person that I knew who legitimately “cared” about this game, though I could say that about…most of the moments that will end up here.

What’s happened since then? Well, the Yankees did not win another World Series until last year (even losing to the Marlins at the not that old Yankee Stadium in 2003). The Diamondbacks? Meh. While they did return to the playoffs in 2007, (losing in the NLCS to the Colorado Rockies). But hey, they will always have 2001 to fall back on! Georgia and Clemson football fans still consider themselves nationally relevant, even though their last championships happened in the (gulp) 1980s. Yes, you read that correctly. As a matter of fact, you can probably bet the farm on Arizona doing some sort of commemorative event next year. Because, you know, they can never, EVER take away a championship. Unless you’re Southern Cal football. Wait, too soon?