Monthly Archives: March 2011

2011 Postseason Predictions!

The off-season flew by this year didn’t it?  When you’re playing into November, it doesn’t take long for Spring Training to arrive, and now here we are counting down to the season opener in two days! 

My friends over at “Diamondhoggers” have a little contest going to see who can come the closest to predicting the 2011 World Series winner!   Here’s my contribution to the cause.  Why not play along and see how you compare .  For sure I’m not making any wagers on my predictions since last years turned out to be a bust!    Maybe I’ll have better luck this year.  Good luck on yours!

AMERICAN LEAGUE:

  • East Division Champions ~  Boston Red Sox *
  • Central Division Champions ~ Detroit Tigers
  • West Division Champions ~ Oakland A’s
  • Wild Card ~ New York Yankees

NATIONAL LEAGUE:

  • East Division Champions ~ Philadelphia Phillies
  • Central Division Champions ~ Cincinnati Reds
  • West Division Champions ~ San Francisco Giants *
  • Wild Card ~ Colorado Rockies

WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS ~ SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS OVER BOSTON RED SOX!

 

 

Joe Mauer and Head and Shoulders. Why?

“The great trouble with baseball today is that most of the players are in the game for the money and that’s it, not for the love of it, the excitement of it, the thrill of it.” Ty Cobb

I was intrigued by the video this morning,  posted by one of my favorite blogs, “Babes Love Baseball“.  Okay, it’s no secret the girls love Joey Mauer, as noted in one of their recent blogs which, in effect,  proclaimed Joey Mauer one of the sexiest men in Major league baseball.

Personally, I have trouble linking the personal looks (sexiness if you prefer) of  baseball players, or any athlete for that matter, to the actual sport they play.  I don’t know.  Maybe that’s just me.  I mean, what difference does it make?

The point I’m trying to make is why would Joe Mauer feel a need to do a shampoo commercial?    It’s certainly not about the money, and it can’t be about the media exposure.  Is this one of those pesky tasks MLB assigns to the players each year?  Or maybe it’s a requirement of the  Minnesota Twins, you know, part of his contract.  Doubtful.

“Joe Mauer’s lucrative new deal  kicks in this year, and he’ll make $23 Million this season.  According to Charley Waters, the Twins’ catcher is doing so well with off-the-field endorsements, he won’t even have to touch his MLB paychecks, which are supposed to come in bi-weekly to the tune of $1.92 million. If you’re wondering, Mauer’s $23 million this year is only $11 Million less than the Pittsburgh Pirates (entire) payroll in 2010.”   Big Lead Sports 3/7/11

According to the article quoted above, Mauer’s making so much from his endorsements he doesn’t even have to touch his regular paychecks, which will  total a cool  $23 Million this year.   Okay, I’m starting to get  it.  It’s not about playing for love of the game.  It is about the money.  And Joe Mauer’s not the only one.  A lot of guys are doing it.  But “Head and Shoulders”?  Isn’t anything sacred anymore?

Roy Oswalt ……. Luck of the Irish (Scots?)

Oh no!   Not Roy Oswalt!  This video just shows how close these guys are to disaster with every pitch!   This is scary stuff!   As you’re probably aware, Roy’s one of the Phab Four for the Phillies this year and expectations are high for them and also for the Phillies.    Back in the old days,  dad always said a pitcher was supposed to be ready to field after the delivery.  Get yourself  right back in position with your mitt in front of  you to protect from this very thing.   But back in the 40′s and 50′s, I doubt very much the pitchers were throwing with the same intensity and velocity they are today.   Who has time to do that; get back into position I mean?  Baseball’s changed.   They may have thrown just as fast back then, but the players now are huge in comparison and my thought is their reflexes are not as fast as the smaller pitchers.  I don’t know, I’m just saying, there’s a reason those old fashioned rules don’t seem to apply anymore.  Pitchers now aren’t expected to play the entire nine innings like they routinely did back in the old days.   They give it their best shot, and a reliever comes in to continue where the starter left off.   And then in comes the closer!   So I doubt very much dad’s thinking would apply now.   

Last reports are that Oswalt is doing well,  and except for the baseball-sized welt on the back of his neck he should be able to start the regular season as scheduled.   He’s lucky.   His teammate Chase utley is facing surgery after his bout this spring with tendinitis in his knee, and most likely will miss a good part of the season, after missing a majority of 2010.  Heartbreaking for the players and heartbreaking for the fans. 

Spring training!   A must for getting back into shape and letting the players gel with each other.  But what a price to pay for these guys!    The Giants closer, Brian Wilson, suffered a strained oblique muscle, and is looking at possibly sitting out just the first couple of regular season games, if he’s lucky.   It could be much more and Cody Ross caught what appeared to be a routine fly ball yesterday, only to limp off the field with a calf strain.   A visit to an MRI center resulted in a walking “boot” and crutches for Ross.  It’s anyone’s guess how long he’ll be out.  Here’s a list of a few other incidents this spring:

  • St Louis Cardinals starting pitcher, Adam Wainwright had Tommy John surgery last week and will most likely miss the entire 2012 season.
  • Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher, Shaun Marcum, suffered a “tight shoulder” after his last outing.  Whether he’ll be sidelined for the beginning of the season is questionable. 
  • Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher, Zach Greinke, broke a rib in a “basketball game” and remains on the disabled list this spring training.  (Okay, okay, probably not entirely related to spring training!)
  • Los Angeles Angels First Baseman Kendry Morales was sidelined with a broken foot for the majority of 2010, and spring training hasn’t been able to help Morales get back on “foot” still.   Looks like more rehab time for him before he’s back in the regular season.
  • Yankees lead-off hitter, Brett Gardner, is back in the line-up after suffering a bruised shin during spring training.

The list goes on and on.  But wait!   Believe it or not, there’s actually some good news for the rest of us.   The 2012 Regular Baseball Season begins next week!   So it’s time to clean up the barbecue, get out those scorecards, stock up on popcorn and hotdogs, and get out the gear.   Makes me all emotional just thinking about it.  

And cross your fingers for all those guys on the disabled list so they’ll be able to join us soon.   Let’s face it.  It’s just not the same playing a game with one or more of your guys sitting on the bench with a disability!   Too bad we can’t just go from post season to regular season and skip the Spring Training!    Save us all some headaches!

Spring Training Odds & Ends ……

David Letterman’s Top 10 List of  Things you Don’t want to hear During Spring Training!

Pablo Sandoval "Before"

I’m not a huge fan of David Letterman, but still ……. this was kinda sorta funny.   I’ve been following Spring Training this year,  more than in the past and I’m seriously thinking about running down to Arizona next year to see what all the fuss is about!    One of the things that struck my funnybone this year was all the

Pablo Sandoval "After"

hubbub that’s going around about Tim Lincecum‘s In ‘n Out Burger runs.  When one of the  analysts asked him today if he took the Panda with him,  Tim assured him he always went solo, at least during spring training.  Panda, if  you’re not from the Bay Area, refers to Pablo Sandoval who, at the end of last season, weighed in around 289 pounds much to the dismay of management.   At the threat of being sent back to the Minors this year if he didn’t get back into serious shape, Panda Pablo managed to drop 38 pounds, while adding some muscle,  and looks and acts fit as a fiddle.  Good news for Giants fans, that’s for sure!   But the conversation about Timmy’s lunch relates to his daily routine of three double-decker burgers, two orders of fries and a vanilla/chocolate combo milkshake.   That’s about 3,400 calories just for lunch each day and Tim only weighs 165 pounds!    Sure would be great to have a metabolism that could burn that off!

Luis Salazar

One thing that always bothers me about spring training is how many players get injured.   I’m pretty sure the reason for spring training is to get back in shape after the three months “vacation” from regular and postseason.   One of the injured this year is Chase Utley, who’s always been a powerhouse for Philadelphia.   But a real casualty this year happened not to a player, but to a spectator.  Actually, he’s  Luis Salazar,  a Minor League Manager for the Atlanta Braves and he was hit in the face by a line drive during a Spring Training game on March 9.  Salazar, 54, was leaning up against the railing on the top step of the dugout when Brian McCann slammed a foul ball directly towards Salazar, who didn’t see it coming.  He ended up losing his left eye, a real tragedy in any ballpark.    I know, I know, accidents happen, and this was indeed a tragic accident, but it’s still really sad when we hear about them.    We still have a few more weeks of Spring Training left and let’s cross our fingers we can get through without any more casualties.  A big hug and a “get well soon” to  Luis!

Those Phooey Phillies ….. Just Won’t Go Away!

Well, to be honest with you, I’ve always liked Roy Halladay, even if he is a Phillie!   I saw this video for the first time today and wondered if all Major League pitchers feel the same way about their catchers as Roy feels about his.   I can see Lincecum and Cain showing Buster a little love, but all bets are off when it comes to Wilson.  Can you just see Brian Wilson in the kitchen, making pancakes while  discussing the morning with a balloon replica of Buster Posey? 

I saw an interview  with Buster Posey after the season was over, and as I recall, Buster said at one point he started to go out on the mound to talk with Wilson, took one look at those dark green eyes glaring off into space, promptly turned around and went back behind the plate.  Later he explained, he just thought it was something he should do, not that Wilson wanted it or needed it.  Posey didn’t say he was intimidated, but that was the implication.

One can only hope  Roy Halladay spends a lot of time in the kitchen talking to blow-up dummies for the next  six months.   Is it post season yet?

The 4-Strike Out Inning? …… Who Knew?

March 6th, 2011 at 10:34 pm   In response to my question about how Tim Lincecum would have been able to get 4 strike-outs in one inning today, D to the P  on Andrew Baggarly’s Blog , writes the following:

“On a swing-and-miss for strike three, if the ball hits the ground and skips by the catcher, the batter can either concede the strike out (walk shamefully back to his dugout) or can try to reach 1st base and be safe — in which case, the catcher will either have to tag him out or throw to 1st to complete the out. However, the pitcher still gets credit for the strikeout regardless of the final outcome (batter makes

Illustration Right Protected

it to first base safe, or the catcher tags/throws him out).  During today’s game, the ball got by the Catcher, Buster Posey, on a swinging strike 3 yet the batter made it safely to 1st base after a high throw from Posey.  Pitcher Tim Lincecum got credit for the strikeout (it shows up in the box score as a strike out) but the out does not get recorded. Therefore, there is still zero outs (provided there wasn’t any outs to begin with). Had Timmy been able to then strike out the side (for the necessary 3 outs), he would have had the rare 4 strikeout inning.   One can assume, that theoretically a pitcher can have 5, 6, or more strikeouts in an inning if the above explanation were to occur multiple times an inning,  although, this is HIGHLY improbable. I wonder what the record is for most K’s in an inning? Forgive me, as I am too lazy to search myself …..Hope this helps! ” 

Thanks buddy, it really does help.  This was a new one to me.  And I’m a little lazy tonight too, but had to look it up.   Just in case you’re interested, the most strike-outs in an inning?  Four!  And it’s happened more often than you’d think!   Here, Baseball Almanac  lists the pitchers for both the American League and National league.  Amazingly, Pitcher Chuck Finley has managed this feat on three separate occasions!    Just wondering how the scorekeeper would score the strikeout without recording the out in the inning.   Well, that’s a search engine chore for another time.   G’nite all!

The Intentional Walk ….. And “Walk’r” the Chicken!

  “We weren’t trying to walk him; he just wouldn’t swing at any bad pitches.”  -Bobby Cox, on the Braves walking Barry Bonds 7 times in a series

There’s nothing that irks me quite as much as the intentional walk.  I’ve always wondered how the pitchers feel about it.   If  the batter’s a real crackerjack, would they be glad they don’t have to pitch to him or would they welcome the challenge?   If the pitcher is a really good pitcher, and has a lot of confidence in knowing he’s a really good pitcher, wouldn’t you think he’d welcome the chance to get a strikeout, knowing he had the competitive edge?  You know the saying, “Good pitching beats good hitting anytime”.    Personally, if I were a pitcher I think I’d be a little insulted if the manager gave me the signal to walk a batter. I’d think he probably didn’t have enough confidence in me to be able to get the guy out.  But that’s just me.  On February 4, 1956, the  American League announced it would begin testing the automatic intentional walk during spring training.    I don’t know when the National League jumped on the bandwagon, but at some point they definitely did.   Before that time, I guess the pitcher always pitched the ball and the batter swung,  or not, depending on the pitch.  Geez, what a novel idea huh?   I think here in San Francisco we’ve had a belly-full of the stuff and that’s why I’m a little antagonistic on the subject.  Back in 2004, ESPN reported the Giants concessions would start  selling “rubber chickens” , appropriately named Walk’r, to protest the number of walks at AT&T Park.  The chicken was an instant success and the chickens, if necessary, are still evident in the park today.  To illustrate how bad it had become, you might be surprised to know that Barry Bonds today still holds the career record for most “Intentional Bases on Balls” (since 1955)  with a startling 645 intentional walks.   George Brett  is second with 229.   It’s highly unlikely Bonds’ record will be broken anytime soon.   Here’s some statistics on Intentional Bases on Balls Records, provided by Baseball Almanac:  

 
Intentional Bases On Balls Records
Records Only Kept Officially Since 1955
Single Season Records
Record Lg Name(s) Team(s) Data
Most
In A Season
(Top 100)
AL John Olerud Toronto 33 1993
Ted Williams Boston 1957
NL Barry Bonds San Francisco 120 2004
Most
In A Season
By A Lefthander
AL John Olerud Toronto 33 1993
Ted Williams Boston 1956
NL Barry Bonds San Francisco 120 2004
Most
In A Season
By A Righthander
AL Frank Howard Washington 29 1970
Frank Thomas Chicago 1995
NL Albert Pujols St. Louis 44 2009
Most
In A Season
By A Rookie
AL Alvin Davis Seattle 16 1984
NL Willie Montanez Philadelphia 14 1971
Most
In A Season
By A Switch-Hitter
AL Eddie Murray Baltimore 25 1984
NL Tim Raines Montreal 26 1987
Most At Bats
In A Season
No Intentional Walks
AL Kirby Puckett Minnesota 691 1985
NL Jose Reyes New York 696 2005
 
According to Baseball Almanac, the one event in baseball that signifies true respect is the intentional walk with bases loaded.  The implication, I guess, is that the pitcher is showing respect to the batter by walking him instead of pitching to him, out of  fear he might hit the ball.   Personally, I’d  like to see the pitcher, pitch to the batter and strike the socks off  him, or not.  Now that, my friends, would command some real respect, don’t you think?