Well, as much as I thought I would be busy this upcoming year, I have realized that I have a lot more time on my hands than I thought I would. I had planned on not being able to write on this blog for a while, since I would be doing track this year. Since I have the extra time, I figured I’d get back to blogging on the MLBlogosphere. And I mean c’mon. Can you blame me. I couldn’t stay away from this too long. And what a perfect time to come back, right as the playoff races are coming to a conclusionn. There is still no winner in the AL Central and NL West, the Yankees are dominating and the Red Sox got lucky to even get into the playoffs as the wild card, considering they haven’t been able to win consistently recently. Well, I’m back and… HERE WE GO!
To start off, the Tigers’- Twins series last week was phenominal. Every morning before school I would make sure I got to the t.v. and see the score of the game. It was a great series. Orlando Cabrera came up big in one game. Another, the Tigers’ pitchihng was dominating. The Twins had no answer. It was a great series.
The Yankees have been 100% untouchable over the past few weeks. Now, by untouchable, I don’t mean they haven’t been able to lose, because they have, but when they did, it hasn’t really struck anybody as a tough blow, the Yankees haven’t lost that much recently but when they did, it didn’t hurt. They have been on that kind of roll.
The Red Sox… well, I guess I can say they deserve to be in the playoffs over the Rangers who have all but fallen off the edge of the earth this past month. The Red Sox haven’t done all that much better. They clinched on a night when both them and the Rangers lost. They have been about as inconsistent of late than any other losing team. They won’t make it very far into the playoffs. If history runs its course, they will beat the Angels, but they won’t get past the Yankees in the ALCS if they even get that far.
The playoff race in the NL West has gotten a little slow lately but that is comparing it to the way it was when the Rockies were unbeatable. They have lost a few key games over the past few weeks but the race is still close. Neither the Dodgers or the Rox have clinched and it will most certainly go down to the wire. One thing that is definite… the Giants made a run but their pitching couldn’t carry them all the way. They need to hit too. All I have to say to the Rockies is this… if you’re gonna go out there and lose, you better watch out for the Braves who could easily sweep out of no where and take the wild card.
That’s all for now and I feel great. Until next time…
I am more focused on football season coming up than on the playoff races in the MLB that are going on right now. I am a huge football fan, both college and professional. I’m a Longhorn at heart and a Pats fan since forever. Football is my favorite sport overall and I really enjoy watching it. Now, being a small guy, I’m not really the kind of guy that plays competitive football at my high school, but my friends and I have our own little thing going on which we play each other every week. It’s pretty fun and I enjoy playing all the time.
Now, although I am focused on football more than baseball right now, I am still keeping up with the major headlines around the league. Here are my top three headlines from yesterday.
- Halladay one-hits Yankees
- Red Sox are slaughtered by White Sox, Rangers Creep up on Red Sox in Wild Card Race
- The Rox keep on rolling in the NL West
I didn’t even realize that the Yankees had a seven game winning streak going into last night until I saw it on Sportscenter this morning. When I saw that, I was just thinking, Wow the Yanks are unstoppable right now… then we ran into Roy Halladay.
Since the trade deadline in which Halladay was most likely to be traded, he hasn’t really been on top of his game the way he has been the first part of the year. Now, I’m not saying he was bad. Because that is the last thing he was. He still was throwing really well but the offense wasn’t giving him all the support he needed. He had his off days and his record stumbled down with a few losses. Last night was a sign of how good he really can be. And against a powerhouse like the Yankees helps his point.
Simply the only hit he gave up against the Yanks was a double down the line for Ramiro Pena. It was a really disappointing loss as a Yankee fan but you really have to appreciate how good Halladay was. He was brilliant.
Freddy Garcia was also very good last night against the Red Sox. Another great performance against a powerhouse. Garcia finished the game after throwing six innings, giving up seven hits, and one run. He struck out five in his phenominal performance. The Red Sox just could not get anything off him. It was pretty much the total opposite for Paul Byrd who started for the BoSox. Byrd was chased after two and a third innings. He was just aweful. He gave up seven runs on ten hits, including a homer. He did strike out three but that didn’t really mean much after his early departure.
The White Sox’s power surge last night was something that we know the Sox could have but the question was when would it happen. Last night is when. The Red Sox lost and that meant a huge problem was about to happen in the Wild Card race if the Rangers and Rays both won.
The Rangers won over the Orioles last night behind Scott Feldman who was just STELLAR. This win was huge for the Rangers as it moved them within two of the Wild Card lead. The Red Sox better be careful the rest of this series with the White Sox because if they can’t pull it together, they will surely lose the Wild Card spot.
Jason Giambi… everyone remembers him right? Well, after last night, you should. He hit a go ahead single to bring in the go ahead run for Colorado as they went ahead over the Arizona Diamondbacks. This come from behind win is going to prove to be huge as they win the Wilid Card spot for the playoffs. I am sure they will win it and that is my very confident prediction. The Rox have been a sight to see the past couple months as they have just streaked throughout their schedule and have really made a big impact on the league. Their presence in the playoffs is going to be great. Who knows how far they will go if they continue to streak like this.
Back to football. The Patriots open their season up against the Bills on Monday Night Football next week. It is going to be a huge stage to open the season up and the Patriots are going to start up what is going to be a super year for them. I am predicting they win the Super Bowl over the Packers this year and redeem theirselves as the champs of the league. They really are the best team in the league. And I think they will win the Super Bowl this year. With Brady back and healthy, that should be a no doubter.
The Texas Longhorns are my other favorite team, being in the NCAA’s. Colt McCoy is my favorite college player and when he gets drafted into the NFL he will then be my favorite NFL football player. Texas is always going to be my favorite team in the college level just because I have followed them for a while now. The thing about college is that players cycle through. They play in college and then are drafted and new guys come in. Texas is always going to be my favorite team even if the powerhouse goes down in the future when their star players are all gone. But I think Texas is one of those teams that continues to get new guys that will be great throughout college from their freshman year through their senior years. Colt McCoy is that kind of example.
Go Pats! Go Horns!
Over the course of the season, the Dodgers have been designated as the best team in the NL West. Well, since June, when the Rox were something like 15 games back of first place, the Rox have been one of the better overall teams in the Majors. They have been hitting, pitching, and playing good defense. The coaching has been really good as well with all the decision making they have to do over the course of a game. Jim Tracy has been the core of that team which has been so successful since June.
Last night, the Rox, as they have been for a while now, were on center stage, playing games that meant so much. If they lost, their position in either the West or the Wild Card would be affected. But they have been playing well and they have been winning. They have been moving up and past the Giants who were their closest competition in the Wild Card race. Now, they have their eyes on the Dodgers who they play a three game series against this week. Another very important series for the Rox that will keep them on the edge of their toes. That is another reason the team has been so successful lately. They know how important the games are and the way they prepare for them is effected by this.
Last night, the Rox and Giants finished off a series that took place over the weekend. The Rox really took advantage of the series as they won 3 out of 4 games. Last night’s victory came with hard work and determination. They were down late in the game and they came back from three down to win it. Jim Tracy was in a tough spot having only one bench player available to pinch hit. He worked around it though. In the final inning, Dexter Fowler took one off the knee and went down. He stayed in the game and was walked. Tracy told their pitcher who had to bat for himself since there was no one else to bat for him, to take every pitch since the opposing pitcher had walked the previous batter. The pitcher did what Tracy said and he got a nice four pitch walk to send him down to first. Another chance for the Rox.
Eventually, after a very wild inning of suspense, Ryan Spilborghs came up to the plate with the bases loaded and jacked one to right center field. A walk off grand slam ended a game that was one of the best in a while. A great game to watch I can assume. I am not anywhere near the Rockies’ television broadcasting but the replays on ESPN’s Sportscenter were amazing enough that I can assume the game was a great one.
The Rockies are in position to take over first place soon, as long as they have success against the Dodgers this week. If they can win a couple, or even complete a sweep, the Rox will surely take over first place before the season is over. The Yankees are one of the hottest teams in baseball right now…. I think the Rox are the next hottest team at the moment.
This phrase is one that most people know and understand, one that applies to every day life. It is a simple one. Meaning that you can’t always expect what is supposed to happen. Sometimes, unexpected occurrences happen and you don’t know what to do. Sometimes the unexpected isn’t anything hard to deal with but you just didn’t expect it to happen. It’s not that hard to understand which is why it is a critical saying to general every day life.
Now, think about this. If I asked you who would win the NL Wild Card, you would probably give me a breakdown of every division and who would come in first and second. Then you would probably figure out who has the best chance at having the best record among the second place teams. So, I did a little experiment with my pal Jay. He was unaware of my intentions to put this in my blog so he’ll figure out later.
Me: Jay, how do you think the NL playoffs will be shaped up at the end of the season.
Jay: The Dodgers, no doubt, are gonna win the West. That’s no question.
Me: I agree 100%. How could Manny and Ethier and Furcal and the O-Dog go without winning that division. They’re just too good and too consistent.
Jay. I think the Cards will pull it out in the Central because they have Holliday now to bat behind Albert. Too much power and good enough pitching to get along. Now the East is the toughy.
Me: It always is. That’s why I say the Phils are gonna repeat as NL East champs.
Jay: I think the Phils will as well. The Mets were my pre-season choice but now with all the injuries I can’t pick them and you’ve got to like what their doing down in Philly.
Me: That addition of Cliff Lee will probably end up being the biggest, most important trade of tbe year if the Phils get deep into the playoffs.
Jay: I think the Cubbies could make a run at the Wild Card. They have been playing better of late and I think they will continue winning and take themselves into the playoffs. I think that’s how it’ll all work out.
Me: That’s a very intersting look at things but it’s your decisions and I can’t make them for you. Thanks man.
Jay: No problem.
This conversation took place over the phone a day after the Cards aquired Matt Holliday from the Athletics.
Now, I agree with every one of those predictions except the one that the Cubs will win the wild card. How can you not think about the Rockies. They have been playing really well of late and they are at the top of the Wild Card standings. Jay said that he still thought the Cubs will streak right past both Colorado and San Fran but I don’t think that’s going to happen. The Cubs may be playing great of late but the Rox are too. I think they will pull away.
Now why would I go to all this trouble just top see who someone would pick to win the Wild Card? Because seriously, who would think the Rockies would be in the playoff picture at all. And how ’bout the Giants too. I don’t think I would meet anyone that thought they would have a chance at the playoffs. This is why you have to EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED.
The Rox have a real good chance at makign the playoffs as the Wild Card. They pulled away another game yesterday with a win and the Giants’ loss. The Rox are riding a four game win streak and I don’t think they will let anyone stop them from getting to the playoffs.
Even though the Rox were in the playoffs in 2007 in which the Red Sox beat them in four games, they were unexpected to be there that year too. They just weren’t considered a good enough team to get that far into the playoffs. Somehow they did and then they got swpet by a really good Red Sox team. But still, the point is that they were unexpected to be there. Same with this year but they may just do it.
Watch out MLB, here come the Rox. And maybe even the Giants.
Being a Yankee fan, or even for those Red Sox fans on this MLBlogosphere, these next four days should present nothing else but Red Sox-Yankees analysis on any Yankee fan’s or Red Sox fan’s blog. That’s so simple. The best rivalry in baseball is nothing short of what it is put up to be. It is the single best part of the MLB. It is my favorite part of the year when the Yankees and Red Sox face off and everyone else’s involved in this rivalry. And basically, it is the only thing that should be talked about by any Red Sox or Yankee fan during the 18 games they play each other every year. It is just STELLAR.
So, everyone knows that the Yankees have been unsuccessful against the Red Sox thus far this season. They have been unable to win at home or on the road; extremely disappointing to Yankee fans. Now, with first place in our posession (meaning the Yankees), the Bronx Bombers have a certain upside to things now, now that they have succeeded past the Sox without actually beating them. But these next few games they play against the Red Sox will be played with a bigger sense of importance. The Yankees can really pull away from the Red Sox, and push their already solid 2.5 game lead to maybe a 5 game lead or a 6 game lead at best. A sweep would be phenominal seeing that we haven’t beaten them once this season. Four straight wins would be STELLAR.
The Yankees and Red Sox play a total of ten games to finish off the season series. Three of those are in Boston and the rest of them are in New York. This is a huge advantage for the Yankees and they need to take advantage of it. I can’t think of any better way to say it than that. If you can’t win at home, you don’t have as good a chance to win on the road.
Victor Martinez… just aquired in a blockbuster deal from the Cleveland Indians. A catcher/first baseman that has helped the Red Sox immensely in their current infield situation. They have Mike Lowell who hasn’t been to the top of his health. Since this has been the case, he has not started at third in the recent past and has forced Kevin Youkilis to shift over to third, the position he came to the Red Sox to play. Victor Martinez has fit into the first base position and has let Jason Varitek remain behind the plate. Late in the games, Mike Lowell has appeared to pinch hit giving the Red Sox much needed depth. Martinez will get his first dose of the Yankees-Red Sox action and will be a huge part in it. Martinez is the offensive bat that has fit into an already loaded lineup for the Red Sox that has its fair share of power and just general good hitting. It will be interesting to watch how he performs.
Now, going sort of off topic. How about that Kung Fu Panda?
No not that one… this one.
Pablo Sandoval has been a huge part of bringing the San Francisco Giants back into the playoff race. They are currently first in the wild card race in the NL, only a half game ahead of their closest competitors in the NL West, the Colorado Rockies. The Giants aren’t going to get to the top of the division, with the Dodgers easily pulling away from day one, but with Sandoval leading the way offensively, the Giants could be the underdog that gets into the playoffs. They have the pitching; Lincecum and Cain. They have the defense; Rowand and Molina among them. They have the offense; Sandoval and Sanchez. What else is their that they need. Obviously they don’t have an overly great team, but they have what it takes to perform to a high standard and they could surely make it to the playoffs. Now, how far will they go in the playoffs? I’m not so sure. They do have to face off against the best of the best in the NL; the Dodgers, the Phils, most likely, and possibly the Cards, the Cubbies, or even the Brew Crew. All tough teams, but they should have enough to get into the playoffs in the first place. Sandoval leads the way offensively and all I can say to the Giants is this:
THE KUNG FU PANDA WILL LEAD YOU TO WHERE YOU NEED TO BE.
The Cards went shopping on Friday as they snagged Matt Holliday off the trading block from the Oakland Athletics. I know everyone else is talking about this but this is a big story in my opinion. So here we go.
You know that guy, Albert something… PUJOLS yeah that’s it. That guy that is really really really good. Yeah him. He’s that guy that keeps the Cardinals offense going. And now, he’s finally got the protection in that lineup that he needs to be better. But honestly, can he get any better?
Matt Holliday will slip right into the fourth spot in that lineup and will surely produce the numbers that he did with Colorado. With Albert in the same lineup, this automatically becomes one of the best 3-4 batter duos in the MLB. Albert’s got more protection and the Cardinals may have gotten the piece they need to stay ahead of the rest of the tightening NL Central race. It’s going to be good and this move makes them a lot better. And what a better start with a new team than by going 4-5 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored.
With the Athletics, Holliday struggled. Going from a homer friendly park in Coors Field to a homer not so friendly park in Oakland is a tough transition. Holliday is now in St. Louis and I think his offensive numbers will improve. His production in St. Louis will be worth the three guys the Cards gave up.
Hey. This is for all of you umps from the Yankees-Jays game yesterday that missed a bunch of calls. Most of them being involved with Mr. Jeter. Yeah, the league’s top vote getter for the All Star game. The leader of this Yankees team. Yeah. You know who I’m talking about. I think you need to take a team field trip to a store to get some of these…
When Jeter stole third in the first inning, I was extremely mad. Jeter had a right to be as well. This was the first time I’ve ever seen Jeter argue a call. He is such a classy player and will only argue if he knows he is right. He got in there with his hand before being tagged and was clearly safe. He was right and his arguing would be backed up. Here was Jeter’s reaction after the game:
“I was just baffled by the explanation. I was told I was out because the ball beat me, and he didn’t have to tag me. I was unaware the had changed the rules.” Sarcasm is always fun when you know you’re right. Girardi got tossed for arguing the call and the crowd went wild when he walked back to the dugout. This whole situation was messed up. And that was just the beginning of it.
In the third inning, Jeter grounded a ball hit into the hole between third and short and did his signature jumping throw to get Aaron Hill out at second. The only problem was this… the ump called Hill safe when he was clearly out. Now Jeter didn’t argue this call because he didn’t have the best view of that end of the play. But the replays that they showed on t.v. clearly showed Hill getting to the bag late and that he was out. Yet another frustrating moment for Jeter courtesy of the umps.
Now, Jeter’s day was pretty tough, the Yankees lost, but not all was bad. Remember that Eric Hinske? Yeah, he made his debut for the Yanks yesterday and wasn’t too bad. In fact, his first at bat, he blasted a shot to deep right for his first homer. It was great. Also in the game, Hinske ended the first inning with a diving catch to rob Vernon Wells of a hit. He had a great debut. It could have been even better when he stepped up to the plate in the ninth inning with the Yankees down one. They had scored a couple runs already in hope of making a comeback, but Hinske struck out and the game was over leaving the Yankees with a loss. It was tough, but Hinske still had a really good game.
The ninth inning was yet another crazy comeback inning that the Yankees have had so abundantly this season. Thanks to the early struggles of the bullpen, the Yankees offense has had to make comeback after comeback. Well, that hasn’t been the case recently but it was last night and it almost happened again. We were only down one when Hinske stepped up to the plate. We were down three at the beginning of the inning. Alomst another crazy comeback but this time we took the loss. The upside to this is that the Red Sox also lost to the Oakland Athletics.
On Other Notes Around the MLB
- The Phils scored 10 runs in the first inning of their game against the Reds. Johnny Cueto, who many believe to have been and All Star snub, had 9 earned runs in 2/3 of an inning. When he was taken out, he was extremely mad at himself.
- Jason Marquis made another STELLAR start for the Rockies. He went eight innings giving up seven hits and two walks. He struck out three.
- A’s rookie Brett Anderson two hits Red Sox in first career shutout. A’s win 6-0 in Nomar Garciaparra’s return.
- Pujols, Fielder, Howard, and Gonzalez to compete for NL in home run derby.
So it was a busy day yesterday, huh? I’m wiped from being outside all day for the first time all summer with beautiful weather. So I’m out.
For any of you who don’t know Riley Poole, he is one of the main characters in the National Treasure movies. Acting alongside Nicholas Cage and Diane Kruger (Ben Gates and Abigale Chase), Justin Bartha (Riley Poole) makes the wise cracks that make the movie great. Amidst the action and adventure, Bartha’s wise cracks keep the movie going. To me, he is the funniest character in the movie and a very important one in that.
Now, there is a reason I am talking about Mr. Riley Poole on this MLBlog. It is because there is a strong comparison between Riley and many of the MLB players out there who don’t get a ton of credit for what they do on a daily basis. The guys who put up good, consistent numbers to keep the team in it to win it. Those are what I am calling the Riley Pooles of Baseball. I mean, how would Ben Gates have stolen the Declaration of Independance without Riley at his side talking him through it? How would they have survived the constant threats from Ian Howe and his men? How would they have gotten to the treasure? Riley was a very important character in this movie and there are many of them around the MLB.
Riley Poole of Baseball #1: Jacoby Ellsbury- Now, I’m not saying that nobody knows about this kid or doesn’t appreciate him. Because I know first hand how much he is loved around here in Boston. He is one of the favorites among every single fan. But his job with the Boston Red Sox is extremely important and it hasn’t been recognized that much (at least I haven’t heard any talk about him). Ellsbury is currently second to Carl Crawford with 30 steals on the season. He is on a phenominal pace and will easily end the season with over 40 stolen bases. He gets on base to produce runs and to score them himself. He has already stolen home this season in one of the biggest moments for the Red Sox all season- in a game against the Yankees. Ellsbury is also a great defender. He plays a STELLAR center field. He makes diving catches all the time. Despite not having a great arm, he has a respectable one and makes up for it with his amazing diving catches. With all the talent surrounding him, this kid is doing as well as anyone. All in all, this kid has a great amount of talent and is not getting recognized for it.
- Riley Poole of Baseball #2: Brad Hawpe- Now this guy is definitely not getting enough respect for what he has done this season in Colorado. He is one of the biggest reasons for the Rockies’ recent success. He is currently batting .333, has a .604 slugging percentage, has 11 homers, 53 RBI, and 136 total bases. He is tearing it up. Now I’m not saying he is having an MVP worthy season, because he has a lot to compete with (Pujols, Wright, Fielder). He has earned an All Star vote from me though. He is doing everything right in Colorado and I don’t think he is getting even close to the amound of appreciation he deserves. Even I am appreciating him and I’m not even a Rockies fan.
3. Riley Poole of Baseball #3: Pablo Sandoval- The reason I chose this guy as #3 is because he is having a STELLAR season in a place where so many people go unrecognized. Sandoval is one of them. Now, you’ve got Tim Lincecum and Bengie Molina, but what about those other guys that contribute so much to the team and don’t get the respect and appreciation they deserve. Sandoval, Randy Winn, Aaron Rowand, and Edgar Renteria (sort of) are all playing well but don’t get back what they give. Well, Sandoval is playing the best out of these guys so I chose him, He is batting .336, has a .544 slugging percentage, has hit eight homers (respectable), has driven in 34 runs, and has 131 total bases. He is having a good season and no one is giving him credit. Well I am. Now, I don’t really care at all about what is going on in Frisco but this guy deserves the credit and I am giving it to him. Congrats man.
So I hope all of you get what I am trying to say here. Professional baseball would be going no where without the Riley Pooles of Baseball.
My favorite pitch in baseball. It is almost unhittable if it is mastered. It allows you to get ground ball outs which gets you deeper into games. And it is and has been the key pitch for so many pitchers to play the game of baseball. Some of the names that pop out to you on stat sheets are those of power pitchers. But so many of the good pitchers in baseball establish their supremacy with their finesse. Their changeups, their sliders, their sinkers. Those are my types of pitchers. The guys that work around a count with their secondary pitches, not just their fastball. Nothing against guys like Tim Lincecum or Randy Johnson or any other power pitchers (I am a big fan of Lincecum), but finesse pitching is the stuff I enjoy watching. The likes of Derek Lowe, Aaron Cook and Johan Santana (despite being a big strikeout guy) are who I am talking about.
Derek Lowe spent about a year in Seattle with the Mariners where he picked up his first win on June 6th against the Twins. He was then traded to Boston along with catcher Jason Varitek. In Boston, Lowe thrived. He was very successful both in the bullpen and in the starting rotation. After being in Boston for seven years. He was part of the team that won the first championship in 86 years, breaking the “Curse of the Bambino.” He then went on to play with the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 2004 championship run. He did return to Boston in a Red Sox jersey for their ring ceremony. He played with LA for three years before signing with the Atlanta Braves where he is currently playing. Over his career, Lowe never put up big strikeout numbers, never was a huge name that the opposing team highlighted on their game board before a series. He was good, but he wasn’t considered the toughest guy that would be on the mound.
Aaron Cook came up to the big leagues in 2002. He has played with the Rockies his whole career. He doesn’t have as interesting a story as Lowe does, but nonetheless, he is relevant to what I am talking about right now. He is another guy who doesn’t rely on the fastball 100% of the time. He is a finesse pitcher. He uses his sinker a lot to get guys out. He gets a lot of ground ball outs from this and he has been a very reliable guy for the Rockies over his career. Like Lowe, Cook’s strikeout numbers are never very high. But he is still a very big part of what is going on over in Colorado.
Johan Santana has a little bit of a different style of pitching than Lowe and Cook do. They both have very good sinkers but don’t have as good third and fourth pitches. Santana has the fastball, the very good changeup, and some other pitches that he uses to get guys out. Santana creates finesse pitching differently because he does it with the changeup. His strikeout numbers are generally up there. He has been the strikeout leader before and has always been close. Santana’s finesse is fun to watch because you never know when he is going to pull out that changeup. He doesn’t have the sinker, but he has that changeup.
So, I hope you all see how important finesse pitchers are to baseball. It’s not all about strikeouts. Although they are good to get, ground ball outs do the job just as well as strikeouts. It’s just that they don’t get on the stat sheet.