Tuesday, July 29, 2008

NL Questions of contention

The MLB Playoff push is in full swing with July, and the trading deadline coming to a close. So as promised, this week we present the questions that each National League contender must address in their push for the playoffs.

NL East

Mets- The Mets have seen a lot of ups and downs this year, but thanks to the overall inconsistency of the NL East they find themselves in the division lead. The biggest question for the Amazins is their bullpen. As in if you have bullpen insurance, and your bullpen should happen to be wiped out in a “tragic and accidental” fire, are you entitled to an entirely new one?

Phillies- As usual the Fightin’ Phils are in the thick of the NL East race, but you have to wonder if their poor starting pitching will do them in. You’ve got to be a bit worried as a Phillies fan when your 2 and 3 starters are a mid-season acquisition with a 5+ ERA and a 5-12 record, and a guy who is old enough to be that mid-season acquisition’s biological grandfather.

Marlins- The Fish from Florida have been a big surprise thus far, having yet another year where they continue to win with as little as possible. The question here is how long will their minimalist ways continue to work out in their favor? They are like the sports equivalent of your college buddy who saves money and time by doing 5 shots of Devils Springs as soon as he gets to the bar. Sure he’s able to keep pace with everyone else with much less effort, but it’s only a matter of time before he wakes up naked next to some carnie with a fresh tattoo and a new pelvic itch.

NL Central

Cubs- The Cubbies have consistently been one of the league’s best teams this year, and look poised to make a legitimate run at breaking their 100-year curse… that is if nothing gets in the way. We know Bartman turned down $25k for an autograph, but what if the Wrigley Goat accepts the $50k proposition to just start showing and F’ing with everyone’s heads?

Brewers- CC Sabathia has been an absolute horse for the Brew Crew since his acquisition, winning 4 of his first 5 starts that have included 3 complete games. Missing two periods since his arrival in Milwaukee though, you have to wonder if the Brewers are just trying to squeeze as many pitches as possible out of Sabathia before he comes to the realization that he is pregnant.

Cardinals- The Cards have kept decent pace in the Central, but have struggled of late and are dealing with issues at the closer spot. Between Ryan Franklin and Jason Isringhausen the Cards have blown 13 save opportunities. I say bring in the real closer, she has cable’s #1 rated show of all time, she always gets the job done and plus, she knows drama.

NL West

Diamondbacks- Yes the D'backs have the division lead, but they could certainly improve upon it being that they are only one game over .500. Maybe manager Bob Melvin should focus a little more on why his team is hitting only .251 at the plate, and a little less on how much he loves Taco Bell’s new Fruitista Freeze.

Dodgers- The Dodgers are only one game off the division leading D’Backs, and could catch them easily if they could improve on their league 13th best run production. After promoting Don Mattingly to hitting coach recently, don’t be surprised if the boys in blue promote Donny Baseball to actually batting sometime in the near future.

Rockies- The Pittsburgh Pirates have begun trading away some of their best talent, having fallen out of contention in the NL Central, playing .462 ball and landing in last place. The Rockies however, have scorned suitors for their best player Matt Holliday as they are in third and only 6 games back of their division lead, despite playing only .449 ball. The only question I have is, just how bad would these reigning NL champs be if they didn’t play in the division for players with special needs?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

AL Questions of contention

With July winding down talks of which teams will make it to baseball's postseason are really starting to pick up. This week we present the questions that each American League contender must address in their push for the playoffs. Check back next week for the National League breakdown.

AL East

Rays- The obvious question for the Rays is whether or not they will be able to keep up their unexpected run. They are a young and talented team, but they are largely unproven and inexperienced. Removing the “Devil” from their nickname has launched them into relevance, now all they have to do is remove this botard from their fan base and they’ll also gain respectability.

Red Sox- The Red Sox are the defending champs and obviously have what it takes to win it all. However, an injury to David Ortiz along with inconsistency from Manny Ramirez does leave them a bit vulnerable. Plus there is always the possibility that Manny gets the wrong in-flight meal and decides to go all “Manny being Manny” on the pilot and kills them all.

Yankees- The Yankees have enjoyed unexpectedly solid pitching, but due largely to inconsistent offensive production and injury, still find themselves in third place. So the question is, just how lucky is this gold thong? Can they clone it so it can be worn by 3-4 players at a time? And can they get a lucky gold bra to pick up Jose Molina’s batting average/bustline?

AL Central

White Sox- The southside boys have shown sparks of brilliance, but overall inconsistency this year. The real question for them is whether or not they will continue to be motivated by Ozzie Guillen’s garble-mouthed, expletive ridden tirades. If Ozzie’s psycho-rants become too passé, he may have to jump it up a notch and just start slaying people (I vote he start with A.J. Pierzynski).

Twins- With the Twins constantly letting their most talented players leave town, Minnesota fans have to wonder if they even want to win. Now one of their own players, pitcher Francisco Liriano, is asking for a union investigation as to why the Twins have not called him up to the majors. So the only real question here is, how the hell do they keep winning when they’re trying so damn hard not to?

Tigers- After an absolutely dismal start, the Tigers have shown at times they can be as dangerous as everyone thought they’d be, putting up 19 runs on 3 separate occasions. On the last occasion however, their “star” catcher Ivan Rodriguez struck out in the 9th inning against the Royals last pitching option, shortstop Tony Pena Jr. They’ll need to know if Major League Baseball will allow them to pinch hit Manager Jim Leyland in Pudge's spot in the order if they’re going to make any sort of run at the playoffs.

AL West

Angels- The Angels own the best record in baseball despite the fact that their team leader in batting average is hitting only .287. Unless their absolutely superb pitching can continue, the Angels may have to begin flapping their arms in hopes for some supernatural help at the plate.

Rangers- The Rangers, thanks in large part to a certain former drug addict you probably haven’t heard much about yet this year, have been unbelievable at the dish so far, landing in the top 3 in every major offensive category. So the question for Texas is whether Josh Hamilton can pitch too, because they also own the league’s worst ERA and batting average against.

A’s- Oakland is still in the hunt as usual, even after trading away most of their key players… as usual. Their trademark trades of talent in order to stockpile youth has got to have you wondering if Billy Beane’s ultimate plan is just to remain mediocre in the majors while dominating the minors with an iron fist for years to come.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

2008 MLB All-Star Game running diary

Look, Bill Simmons (ESPN's the Sports Guy) is taking a ridiculous hiatus from his cushy job where he gets paid a ton of money to do what I do for nothing every week. So yeah, I'm stealing his running diary method. He's not using it during his hiatus anyway is he?

So here it is, my 2008 All-Star game running diary...

7:53- Catching the end of the MLB All-Star Red Carpet Parade, Fox anchor Jeanie Zelasko thanks "over a million people for showing up in the streets of New York." And only 20% of those people were of the hobo/street-preacher variety!

8:10- The All-Star Game festivities kick off with the introduction of the visiting Hall of Famers along with the starters. Incidentally, Gaylord Perry not as gay looking as his name would have you think.

8:14- Chase Utley makes it through this introduction without openly swearing on camera.

8:17- I am unashamed to admit I almost had myself a bit of a man-moment when the DER-EK JET-ER chant broke out in Yankee Stadium... don't judge me.

8:21- Hall of Fame right fielder Tony Gwynn isn't exactly at his former playing weight, he now occupies right field in its entirety.

8:24- Man-moment flares up again with chants of YO-GI, YO-GI.

8:27- Second appearance of Mohegan Sun commercial where the people sing about the casino to the tune of Superfreak has me on the verge of throwing a chair through the television.

8:33- Man-moment at full kilter as Hall of Fame Yanks throw out ceremonial first pitch to current Bombers.

8:45- Starter Cliff Lee is only two pitches into the game and already Tim McCarver has made me want to punch myself in the face.

8:56- Alex Rodriguez steps up to the plate for his first appearance. I'm not sure what the deal with the white gloves/wristbands/cleats combo is... maybe he is trying to look Like A Virgin?... Anyone?

9:16- Fox just showed a shot of Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia in the on deck circle with former Mayor of New York City and die-hard Yankee fan Rudy Giuliani right behind him in the front row. I'm no lip reader but I'm almost positive Rudy just called him a little turd.

9:32- Joe Buck reveals that breakout American League star Josh Hamilton once had a severe issue with drug addiction. Why is this the first we're hearing of this? This guy really hasn't gotten enough media coverage.

9:41- Say what you will about Carlos Zambrano, you have to admire what he has been able to accomplish in life despite his complete lack of a neck.

9:52- Matt Holliday's HR breaks a scoreless tie in the 5th and puts the National League up 1-0. Nice to see someone showed up with their bat, I was about to start chronicling the reruns of The George Lopez Show on Nick-at-Nite.

10:12- Nice to see much deserving All-Star Jason Varitek (.218 batting avg.) finally make his first appearance in tonight's game.

10:27- Did you know that Josh Hamilton used to be addicted to drugs?

10:39- Nice to see that Josh Groban felt the need to comb his hair before he came out to sing God Bless America. He looks like he just came straight from throwing up $9 beers in the Yankee Stadium bathrooms.

10:52- 50,000 New York fans collectively let out a half-assed cheer as Red Sox All-Star J.D. Drew ties the game for the American League with a 2-run HR.

11:04- After entering the game to an unrelenting chorus of boos, and chants of OVER-RATED, Boston reliever Jonathan Papelbon gives up the go ahead run to the National League. I am genuinely surprised he didn't pull a Jack McDowell as he walked off the mound.

11:18- Hey National League coaches, good call bringing in the always reliable Billy Wagner to hold your 1-run lead. Rookie Evan Longoria just roped a double to left field to drive in the tying run.

11:31- Yankee closer Mariano Rivera enters the game, and holds the lead for the American league with a quickly executed strike 'em out, throw 'em out. What was it again that Jonathan Papelbon said about being as reliable as Mo?

11:37- How much does Cubs reliever Ryan Dempster look like comedian Louis C.K.?

11:53- Mo just came awfully close to helping me stick my foot in my mouth, thank God for the double-play ball.

11:57- Two straight errors by Marlins 2nd baseman Dan Uggla have led to a bases loaded, no out situation for the American League. I won't jump on the easy Uggla/ugly pun opportunity here, I'll just say that sucked balls.

12:04- Miguel Tejada's gorgeous play just bailed Dan Uggla out of All-Star infamy. And they say steroids are bad for you...

12:07- Listen, I know Joakim Soria is having a great year thus far, but doesn't something feel wrong about having the game rest on the shoulders of a Kansas City Royal?

12:21- Oh Dioner Navarro you slow, slow bastard. The Rays catcher is thrown out at the plate attempting to break the tie. I just want to get some sleep.

12:35- Orioles closer George Sherrill and his extremely straight billed hat strike out Adrian Gonzalez and send the game into the bottom of the 12th.

12:38- Carlos Guillen just came about 1 foot from winning the game with a HR, while outfielder Ryan Ludwick came about 1 foot from severely disfiguring his face on the left field wall.

12:45- On we go to the 13th inning... I say we just take the smallest player from each roster and have them fight for it.

1:00- Dan Uggla's 3rd error of the night. I'm praying no more balls are hit his way, no one wants to see a guy crap himself in front of 55,000 people.

1:07- Nate McLouth you dirty Pirate hooker. The NL outfielder just missed a 14th inning HR, what a tease.

1:19- The only thing keeping me going is this hilarious Taco Bell commercial where the D'Backs coach writes in his diary about how much he loves the new "Fruitista Freeze." I don't know, maybe I'm delirious. On to the 15th.

1:22- What is up with the Padres uniforms? Are these beige or just unwashed?

1:37- Sweet relief! Michael Young drives in Justin Morneau and wins it for the AL with a 15th inning sac fly! Good thing because one more inning closer to a tie and Bud Selig might have just started punching children.

I'm out!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Major League drama ahead

The dog days of summer are approaching. The sports world is slowing to what tends to be a quite tedious mid-summer pace. With basketball over, and football not yet begun it's tough to find much excitement while surfing the internet on your company's time. Luckily though, Major League baseball has offered up some intriguing plots that could make these next couple of months just a little more interesting...


Yes, it’s on Sportscenter every day so I say it’s okay to run with it. Joining what I can only assume is now 70% of the population that ends up divorced, Alex Rodriguez and wife Cynthia (cleverly dubbed C-Rod by the mass media geniuses who spawned the unstoppable plague that is the “first initial-first syllable of last name” nickname trend) are officially ending their marriage. As much as it is difficult to say that this is a sports story at all, there is no denying its hilarity.
Of course, few are surprised at the thought that an athlete and his significant other are splitting due to his genitals playing too many away games, but the details here offer so much more than your run of the mill public divorce. Madonna and Lenny Kravitz are breaking up Alex Rodriguez’s marriage. Take a moment to read over that last sentence one more time. Is this for real or is it a story someone cooked up while getting hammered and doing MadLibs?

How can this possibly get any more random? Simple… it can’t. However, as more details surface it is likely going to get weirder and funnier. So strap in sports fans, because whether you like it or not you had better at least be ready for the ensuing circus. And never mind legit sports talk, because now you’ll have to endure heinous PTI topics like “Kabala-Rod,” “C-Rod and L-Krav,” and “Happy Trails Alex Rodriguez’s money.” Enjoy.

CC to the Brew Crew

On Monday the Milwaukee Brewers made the first big mid-season move in acquiring pitcher CC Sabathia from the Cleveland Indians. Cleveland, feeling they have fallen too far back in the standings decided early July was as good a time as any to wave the white flag and give away a Cy Young winner (what happened to those scrappy, never say die Indians of the 80’s?). And to their credit, the Brew Crew jumped at the opportunity.

The best part about this trade however, is the explanation. Essentially the move was clarified as such: After this season they are undoubtedly losing their best pitcher, Ben Sheets, to free agency. They will also likely consider bolstering their farm system by trading their best young hitter, Prince Fielder. However, as an organization they feel they owe it to the Milwaukee faithful, who have endured 20 some-odd years without a trip to the playoffs, to take one legitimate shot before everything goes crap salad again. So they acquired Mr. Sabathia who, by the way, will also be a free agent at season’s end.

It’s time like these that I wish I actually knew a Brewers fan, just so I could hear the explanation of just how bittersweet this is. You’re hedging the most hope you’ve had in over two decades on a move that has brought an inconsistent and overweight young pitcher to the beer and cheese capitol of our nation. And so what if it doesn’t work out? You’ll have another shot in 25 years or so. I wish you the best of luck.

Remind you of a Prior Cubbie?

Speaking of taking a chance, the Cubs were not to be outdone by their divisional foes in Milwaukee. Having not won a World Series in 100 years, and only being able to explain their perpetual failures as a curse instilled upon them by a farm animal, Chicago knows the importance of taking the shot while the shot is still there. So despite owning the National League’s best record at the halfway point, the Cubbies decided a little more help couldn’t hurt… but can it?

On Tuesday the Cubs acquired pitcher Rich Harden in a 6-player deal with the Oakland Athletics. Harden has widely been considered one of the league’s best young arms (when healthy), so you can’t blame the Cubs for faulty logic in adding another hurler to an arsenal that already includes the dominant Carlos Zambrano. Then again, if you’re a Cubs fan who has no problem believing in a goat-curse, might you be a bit superstitious that adding another injury-prone pitcher to your storied history might be the move that leads to this year’s downturn?

I am not arguing that this trade will actually make the Cubs worse, because any fan would absolutely love to have a healthy Rich Harden as a member of their team’s rotation. However, the Cubbies faithful are not your average fans. So I ask you this Chicago: With such a fragile past that seemingly needs only the tiniest stroke of bad luck to dash the collective hopes of a city and a century, how comfortable are you with investing hope in such a Mark Prior-esque pitcher? Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The week in links

Thanks to a trip to Yankee Stadium to see Joba, Mo and the Yanks blow a game they should have easily won, time is at a premium this week. So take a look over the biggest stories, pictures and videos from the past week in the easiest form I can present them... sarcastic lines with links to other people's work.

- Olympic runner's new world record doesn't count as he was aided by too much tailwind and his own desperation to outrun brutal childhood mockery of his name.

- All-Star guard Baron Davis opts out of the last year of his contract with Golden State Warriors. "It was just time for me to leave Oakland, " said Davis, "I mean why do you think I wore that ridiculous prop beard? So when I removed it off-court I wouldn't be recognized, beaten, and robbed daily."

- Upstart Tampa Bay Rays have the best record in baseball, looking forward to their family and friends actually accepting the comped tickets they are offered.

- Shock rocks the Cycling world when Landis' loss of 2006 Tour De France is declared "still a loss."

- Lottery pick O.J. Mayo's genuine smile evidence that he is clearly ecstatic about prospect of leaving southern California for Minnesota.

- Red Sox outfielder Ramirez's erratic behavior continues in altercation with team's traveling secretary, hoping "Manny being Manny" will eventually hold up in court.

- Spain wins Euro 2008 title, lawless rioting ensues as they immediatley kidnap old man in frenzied celebration.

- 2008 NBA Draft yields odd picks as LA Clippers draft waiter, Phoenix Suns break years of animation discrimination, draft Sideshow Bob (draft portrait).

- Hall of Fame immediately accepts *asterisk HR ball upon hearing news that Barry Bonds will boycott if they elect to display it.

- Warren Sapp is going to follow in the footsteps of other football giants, likely to perform truffle shuffle on Dancing with the Stars.

- Unusual pairing at Buick Open Pro-Am forces first ever suspension of play to hose vomit off of putting surfaces.