Monthly Archives: October 2009

5 Worst Things About MLB Postseason 2009

umpirefail1. Umpiring
The percentage of missed calls probably isn’t all that much different than that of past postseasons, but the gravity of the boneheaded calls has increased. Phil Cuzzi calls a ball foul that hit a players glove in fair territory and then landed in fair territory. Tim McClelland left his guide dog at home Tuesday night for Game 4 of the ALCS, botching two calls. I’m still not a proponent of any sort of additional instant-replay system, but I would be in favor of better umpires.

2. Broadcasting
TBS can’t make it back from commercial in time for the first few pitches of an inning and FOX can’t straighten out its PitchTrax thing. There are way too many off days as a result of catering to each networks desire to have as much primetime exposure as possible. Plus, TBS sucks. They’re broadcasting the most important National League games of the season after broadcasting about 35 of the least interesting National League games all season. The World Series should not be scheduled to end in November.

3. Announcing
TBS – Chip Caray (unnatural affection for the word ‘fisted’), Ron Darling (political commentator working a baseball game) and Craig Sager (would be appropriately attired in That 70s Show)

FOX – Joe Buck (sucks working a series when you hate hate hate the team that’s winning), Tim McCarver (confirmed senile) and Ken Rosenthal (needs Legolas to find him a box)

ESPN Radio – Jon Miller (bad matchup because the Angels have a lot of Hispanic players, and Jon Miller doesn’t speak Spanish), Joe Morgan (always one play or inning behind) and Steve Phillips (who has a big birthmark on his crotch, right above his penis)

My favorite moment came when Tim McCarver let everyone know that Gary Matthews, Jr. is the son of Gary Matthews, Sr. The jury is still out on Jerry Hairston Jr and Jerry Hairston Sr, however.

5164bb354db64dda9eada5c6df772096-257x3004. Fundamentals
Teams like the Twins and Angels supposedly were fundamentally sound. Then Carlos Gomez overran second and cost his team a run, Nick Punto killed a rally by running through a stop sign and the Macier Izturis threw away Game 2 of the ALCS. Go ahead and add Bobby Abreu, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Robbie Cano to the ranks of players that made baserunning mistakes since the Twins were dispatched. Although Cano’s wasn’t so much a running mistake, but rather the way he appeared to be waiting for the bus off third base while Mike Napoli tagged him. Chase Utley’s channeling his inner Chuck Knoblauch and Matt Holliday couldn’t catch an STD from a hooker. Players are forgetting how many outs there are, which base they should throw to and managers are overmanaging.

5. Commercials
The All-New Black Taco! The Black Eyed Peas! Everybody and their sister playing with their new MyTouch. Black Taco again! The George Lopez Show or the Wanda Sykes show! Quit smoking? Erectile dysfunction? Blackberries! Ninja Assassin! Did I mention the Black Taco? Okay then. Back to TBS’ broadcast of the last two outs of the top of the sixth inning!

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You Stay Classy, Dustin Pedroia

The Boston Red Sox, despite being heavily favored, were swept out of the American League Division Series by the Angels this past weekend. Boston scored one run combined over the first two games of the series, and then proceeded to blow a 6-2 lead over the final two innings of the series-clinching Game 3.

Dustin Pedroia took the loss in stride like a man, by blaming the loss on Boston’s inability to get big hits and the similar inability to put Anaheim’s betters away late in games.

Oh wait a minute. No he didn’t.

Instead, Pedroia decided to rip the Boston grounds-crew for the problems that the Red Sox ran into in Boston for Game 3.

In the eighth inning, with runners on first and second, and one out, the slow-footed Kendry Morales hit a hard grounder toward the hole between first and second.

Pedroia hustled to his left, but the ball bounced up on him. He could only knock it down and throw Morales out at first. Both runners then scored on Juan Rivera’s single.

Two costly runs that Pedroia knows would not have scored if he fielded the grounder cleanly.

“It took a bad hop,” Pedroia said. “Our infield (stinks). It’s the worst in the game.”

“I’m not lying about that. That is true. I think about those things. That stuff upsets me,” Pedroia said. “My job is to take 1,000 groundballs a day. Other guys’ job is to get the field perfect so we can play baseball.”

I guess Pedroia had already fielded his 1,000 groundball-quota before Morales’ innocent grounder in the eighth inning and was therefore unable to field the 1,001st one cleanly.

There’s no mention in his little hissy fit that the Angels’ second baseman, Howie Kendrick, had no problem fielding his position on the worst infield in the game. It’s good to know that in order for Pedroia to perform as he’s paid to do, every possible aspect needs to be perfect.

In his next contract, I think it may be beneficial for Pedroia to work in clauses that prohibit him from playing if the weather isn’t to his liking, if the infield grass isn’t properly watered or if the opposing team isn’t setting the ball up on a tee for him.

A bad hop (which happen regardless of infield quality) didn’t lose the series for the Red Sox. They were heartily outplayed over the course of three games in every aspect. Boston’s supposed pitching advantage didn’t show as Jon Lester and Josh Beckett were unable to deliver lockdown performances they’ve had in the past.

The Boston offense, outside a Victor Martinez RBI single was non-existent for the first two games. And Boston’s unhittable playoff closer, Jonathan Papelbon was touched up for three runs on four hits and a pair of walks in an inning of work. Pedroia didn’t do much to cure Boston’s offensive doldrums, collecting a single and a double in twelve at-bats. He drove in a pair of runs and scored one during Boston’s three consecutive losses.

So the Angels, who outworked, outhustled and all-around outplayed the overconfident Boston club will move on to take on the Yankees in this week’s American League Championship Series.

Barack Obama Wins Wendy’s French Fries

Barack Obama Wins Wendy’s French Fries

Fort Wayne, Indiana – United States President visited a local McDonalds’s restaurant yesterday and purchased a Number Two, just the sandwich thank you, with apple slices. After his meal, Obama’s wife noticed he did not get a drink, so they stopped at a neighborhood Wendy’s to buy a large soda. When Obama pulled off the gamepiece on the cup, he was delighted to find he had won a Free Medium Fries with purchase of a regular drink!

Oh, and I guess he won the Nobel Peace Prize the other day as well. But the significance of the two awards are about the same.

Remember that the Nobel Peace Prize is an arbitrary honor that is awarded by an European selection committee. Also remember that Europe is the continent that overwhelmingly supported any measure that made America less powerful in world affairs.

Since his inauguration, Obama has been everything Europe could have wanted and more. He’s backed off promises to protect foreign nations against Iran’s missile systems. He’s sat and watched as Arab nations work to replace the American dollar as trading currency for petroleum. Signs point to him getting ready for a cut-and-run in Afghanistan.

Barack Obama is suave. But he’s not politically smart. And in general, neither are the Americans that support him. Winning the Nobel Peace Prize isn’t a great accomplishment. Obama’s been great as the POTUS, but unfortunately, it hasn’t been for the United States, but rather for Europe and other foreign nations.

America has a different definition of peace than the rest of the world. While America values freedom, safety and individuality, the rest of the world simply just wants America to be as weak as possible. That, for them, is peaceful and comforting to them.

So while George Bush spent eight years protecting America’s peace and projecting it’s strength and independence by responding forcefully to terrorist attacks, freeing Iraq from a bastard dictator and his rapist sons, Europe hates him.

But as soon as Obama comes in and does his best to cripple America in front of the world’s knees, Europe overnights him an award that will stroke his ego and image for awhile, but ultimately continue to weaken America.

And that’s all Europe really wants anyway.

The Differences Between Conservatives and Liberals

I’ve always foud the differences between conservatives and liberals to be extremely intriguing. There are millions of people in this country that claim to be “moderate” – whatever that means, but to me, a moderate is just a cop-out for people that aren’t sure enough of themselves to form real opinions on anything. I found this sitting in my inbox one morning and thought it would be appropriate to pass it along.

***

If a conservative doesn’t like guns, he doesn’t buy one .. if a liberal doesn’t like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.

If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat meat .. if a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.

If a conservative sees a foreign threat, he thinks about how to defeat his enemy .. if a liberal sees a foreign threat, he wonders how to surrender gracefully and still look good.

If a conservative is a homosexual, he quietly leads his life .. if a liberal is a homosexual, he demands legislated respect.

If a person of color is conservative, they see themselves as independently successful .. if a person of color is liberal, they see themselves as victims in need of government protection.

If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to take personally care of his situation .. if a liberal is dow-and-out, he wonders who will take care of him.

If a conservative doesn’t like a talk show off, he switches channels .. if a liberal doesn’t like a talk show host, he demands that those they don’t like be shut down.

If a conservative needs healthcare, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides is .. if a liberal needs healthcare, he demands the rest of us pay for his.

If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn’t go to church .. if a liberal is a non-believer, he wants any mention of God and religion silenced (unless it’s a foreign religion, of course!)

If a conservative slips and falls in a store, he picks himself up, laughs and is embarrassed .. if a liberal slips and falls, he grabs his necks, moans as if he’s in labor and then sues.

Nebraska 27, Missouri 12

For three quarters in the pouring rain, Mizzou controlled the game defensively. The slipped in for a touchdown late in the first half, but for the most part, Nebraska played well on defense too. Then the fourth quarter came.

I think that what happened in the fourth quarter is best explained by the following excerpt from South Park.

I believe the official count was that the Huskers scored 500 points in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter.

Epic Battle – Final Update

I know I stopped updating the goings-on in our fantasy baseball league, but in my defense, things had grown a bit stagnant. Mr. Walters made a late charge and secured himself a spot in the playoff, but other than that, not much change was happening.

The playoffs opened pitting Mr. Walters against TJ and Josh against JT. Nathaniel and Zachary, as the numbers one and two seeds respectively, sat idly by and watched as they were rewarded with bye weeks.

Mr. Walters wiped the floor with TJ, handling him easily 13-4-1, while Josh squeezed out a tough-won 10-7-1 victory. Mr. Walters’ victory slotted him into the second round against myself, while Josh was left to fend for himself against the younger of two Ballance brothers.

Zachary put Josh away quite handily, securing himself a place in the finals with an 11-5-2 win. Mr. Walters seemed all but ready to meet Zachary, holding a sizable lead over Nathaniel heading into Sundays game, but some clutch pitching performances and a huge day for the offense locked up at 9-7-2 win for Nathaniel and sent him to the all-Ballance final.

The final matchup lasted two weeks instead of the customary one, and by the end of the first week, Nathaniel held a sizable advantage and Zachary began desperate roster changes to try and compensate. He began picking up every available starting pitcher and rehauled his offense in hopes of finding someone with one last hot streak left in them.

Alas, it was not enough and Nathaniel ended the season just as he began it, comfortably ahead, with a 13-3-2 win and the 2009 Fantasy Baseball Championship.

FINAL STANDINGS
1. Nathaniel (Beowulf)
2. Zachary (Gilgamesh)
3. Mr. Walters (Achilles the Brave)
4. Josh (The Argonauts)
5. JT (Ajax the Greater)
6. TJ (Paradise Lost)
7. Andy B (Soggy Bottom Boys)
8. Kevin (The Divine Comedy)

MLB Playoffs

The Colorado Rockies wrapped up the fourth and final National League playoff spot Thursday night when they beat Milwaukee and eliminated the Braves. With all four National League spots accounted for, all that remains to be determined is the order in which they finish, and who plays the Yankees over on the American League side of the bracket.

The Tigers take their 2-game lead and host the Chicago White Sox for the final three games of their season while the Twins welcome Zack Greinke and the Royals to the Metrodome for what could be the final three games in that godforsaken stadium.

Since 2000, eight major league teams have won the nine World Series titles. Hockey isn’t too far behind in parity as seven teams have won the nine Stanley Cups (although one was canceled due to a labor strike), and the NFL has seen seven teams win the ten Super Bowls since 2000. The NBA is by far the worst, with five teams winning championships in the last ten years. The Lakers have four titles, the Spurs three.

So what is it that makes baseball such a crapshoot and how do teams set themselves up for postseason champagne showers? It’s partially the make-up of the playoffs, as baseball allows the lowest percentage of teams into the end of season tournament. There are eight spots for the thirty MLB teams to fight for over the course of the season, or 26.7%. The NFL takes twelve of it’s 32 teams (37.5%), the NHL and the NBA both allow a whopping 16 of their 30 (53.3%) to become eligible for the postseason.

The Major League Baseball playoffs feature the smallest amount of games from major sports that utilize the “series” method in the playoffs. The MLB playoffs however, are the only sport that is drastically changed once the playoffs begin. Because of the drive for primetime TV ratings, instead of playing every day like they do in the regular season, teams will receive an off-day for nearly every game they play.

There are three main areas that World Series champions tend to excel in.

FRONT-LOADED STARTING PITCHING
The change in scheduling shifts the advantage from teams with starting pitching depth to the teams that have front-loaded starting rotations. Because of the off-days, teams can get by in a series, especially a short 5-game one, utilizing only their top three starting pitchers. Baseball is really the only major sport that uses something like a starting rotation.

Over the course of a regular season, you’d want to have five and preferably a few extra quality starting pitchers. If you’ve got that, then you’ll most likely ride their arms right into the playoffs. But once there, your six above-average guys are trumped by the team that has two absolute studs.

SOLID DEFENSE
Runs are typically at a premium in playoff games, so preventing as many as you can is crucial. Every out in the playoffs is important, and most of the batters are the better ones in the league, so giving up outs by making boneheaded plays just gives those hitters one more chance to scratch out a run.

Defensive fundamentals save runs, and although preventing runs is important in the regular season, it’s more so in October. Knowing which base to throw to, hitting cutoff men executing defensive game plans are of extra import in the playoffs. Good defenses keep your team off the field and gives you a chance to do something at the plate.

GUTS-OF-STEEL CLOSER
Getting a lead in a postseason game is hard enough, but holding onto it is even harder. The last three outs are still just three of twenty-seven outs you need to get in order to win the game, but for some reason, getting them has become the most impossible feat in sports to accomplish.

If you’ve got a guy sitting out in the bullpen that you know is going to jog in, toss a few warm-up pitches and then mow down the other teams 3-4-5 hitters, you can afford to start worrying about other stuff, and there’s plenty for managers to think about.

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All it really takes is for a team to get hot for a couple of weeks at the right time and you can walk away with a championship, leaving better all-around teams behind you (2006 Cardinals).

But there really is a way to build for playoff success. Set yourself up with a solid start to the game, play good defense behind your pitchers, take a few timely hits and then have your closer ready to slam the door. With all the off days, a team is only as good as it’s best pitchers.

Offense really takes a back seat in the playoffs as so many great pitchers take the ball so often. That juggernaut offense will get you into the playoffs, but the good pitching beats good hitting mantra is more truth than fiction for a reason.

The NBA and NHL playoffs are too long and have too many teams in them to be any good and there just aren’t enough games in the NFL playoffs. Major League Baseball has a goldmine of a playoff system set up and it’s getting ready to start. And I can’t wait.