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JCBC 21, Team Cozza 12

Johns Creek pushed their winning streak to three with their most impressive all-around win of the season. Aided by some poor fielding by Team Cozza, JCBC scored a season-high 21 runs on only 14 hits.

After allowing 3 quick runs in the top of the first inning, JCBC quickly erased the deficit with a 2-run triple from John, an RBI double from Ross and a 2-run single from Nathaniel. By the end of the first inning JCBC had taken a 7-3 lead.

They would relinquish the lead in both the second and third inning, only to re-take the lead for good with another 7-spot in the bottom of the third. Three run scoring errors were bookended with run-scoring hits by Nathaniel and Perry.

After David struggled with his command for the first three innings, Josh came in and shut the door with a scoreless fourth inning. JCBC would add five more runs in the bottom of the fourth to wrap up another solid team win.

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JCBC 17, Schlappi Joes 16

JOHNS CREEK — After falling behind 2-0 in the top of the first, the first 8 men reached base and scored for JCBC in the bottom half of the first. After a scoreless second inning for both teams, JCBC would relinquish the lead in the third. A dropped ball error extended the top of the third for Schlappi Joes and they took advantage by pushing 7 runs across for a 9-8 lead.

But JCBC battled back again with four runs of their own in the bottom of the third to regain the lead. After the first two men reached base, Chris delivered a run scoring single. After two men scored on an error, David drove in another run with a ground out. JCBC tacked on two more in the bottom of the fourth on back-to-back RBI hits by Nathaniel and Bryan.

Taking a 5-run lead into the fifth inning, JCBC was bit by the big inning again. Schlappi Joes struck for seven runs, but a double play and a runner thrown out at home staunched the damage. Needing two runs to tie, Austin doubled in one run, but a base-running mishap led to an out. A few batters later, John lifted a sacrifice fly to right to bring in the tying run. With two outs and the bases loaded, Nathaniel lined a walk-off single to center to end the game.

JCBC improved to 2-0 on the season with their second come-from-behind victory. Consistent offensive production and some timely defense helped JCBC win its second straight game to open the season. They take on the Dirty Birds next week.

 

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JCBC 13, Ironmen 11

Johns Creek Baptist Church returned to the softball field after six long years, and in search of their first victory in over a decade. Relying on pitching, defense and extended rallies, JCBC fought back from an 11-7 deficit to claim a 13-11 victory in their 2014 season opener.

Aided by two errors and five consecutive singles, JCBC opened their season with a 5-run first inning. They tacked on two more runs in the second inning before running into some trouble. Josh allowed 10 runs in the bottom of the second inning to cough up a 7-0 lead.

New pitcher David Keel allowed one run in the third to push the deficit to four runs headed into the fourth inning. The top of the Johns Creek order went to work again as Austin doubled to lead off the inning and scored on Zachary’s single. Back-to-back hits by Josh and Nathaniel cut the lead to 2 and loaded the bases with two outs before Bryan delivered a 2-run single to tie the game at 11.

David shut down the opposing team in the bottom of the fourth and Johns Creek got run scoring hits from John and Jeff in the fifth to take a 13-11 lead. David loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth, but John made a leaping catch in left field to preserve the win.

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The Voice: Battle Round 3

Adam 3 — Pip vs. Nathan Parrett (You Know I’m No Good, Amy Winehouse)

Adam’s Pick: Pip

Blake complimented Nathan’s big voice, but said that Pip is the guy who can do everything. Cee Lo liked Nathan’s effortless “cool” factor and Xtina was impressed with the way Nathan’s voice commands attention, even though he came across as less confident than Pip.

My Pick: Pip
Nathan’s nerves definitely returned during the actual performance, while Pip nailed just about every note. Nathan was tentative and pretty much just let Pip sing circles around him. I really didn’t think it was even close, let alone as close as the judges made it seem.

Cee Lo 4 – Erin Martin vs. The Shields Brothers (What’s Love Got To Do With It, Tina Turner)

Cee Lo’s Pick: Erin

Adam felt that the pairing and the performance was “so weird”. He preferred the Shields Brothers when Erin overshadowed her unusual voice with quirky attempts at uniqueness. All Blake could come up with was the fact that he liked Erin’s corset-based outfit. Xtina had fun watching the battle, calling it entertainment. She didn’t think that the song really fit Erin’s talents and loved the harmonies and energy of the Shields Brothers.

My pick: The Shields Brothers, reluctantly.
I wasn’t particularly impressed with either one of them during the blind auditions, but Erin really turned me off in the battle round. The Shields Brothers took all the advice to heart and did everything they could to improve. Erin acted like a spoiled baby the whole time and then didn’t impress me vocally. I think just about everyone else sent home in previous battles were better options than either Erin or the brothers.

Xtina 5 — Ashley de la Rosa vs. Jonathas (No Air, Chris Brown & Jordin Sparks)

Xtina’s Pick: Ashley

Adam noted that Jonathas was very comfortable on the stage, but went with the bigness of Ashley’s voice. Blake enjoyed the character in Jonathas’ voice, but was disappointed that he didn’t build on his performance. Cee Lo enjoyed the visual chemistry between the two performers, but opined that Ashley stretched out more.

My Pick: Ashley
Jonathas was more polished, but the sound that Ashley produces is just phenomenal and unexpected. I think I’ve kind of seen all that Jonathas is capable of, but with Ashley there’s huge untapped potential that I would love to get a chance to see.

Blake 4 — Alyx vs. Jermaine Paul (Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Car, Billy Ocean)

Blake’s Pick: Jermaine

The judges were unanimous in declaring Jermaine as the clear winner. Adam said that Jermaine kicked the song’s ass, while Cee Lo loved the confidence that Jermaine put on display. Xtina loved the energy and how he made the song his own.

My Pick: Jermaine
Two big voices going head-to-head, but I think that Jermaine ended up blowing Alyx out of the water. I think that the arrangement definitely lent itself to showing off Jermaine more so than Alyx and it showed.

Adam 4 — Angel Taylor vs. Katrina Parker (Keep Bleeding, Leona Lewis)

Adam’s Pick: Katrina

Blake: Loved Angel’s unique voice, but thinks Katrina flat out won the battle.
Cee Lo: Angel seemed a little uncomfortable while Katrina came in confidant .
Xtina: Unique rasp, but liked Katrina’s Adele-type voice.

My Pick: Katrina
Katrina started the song so strong and just continued getting better through the whole track. Angel was not bad, but she didn’t do anything too special to set herself apart. Katrina has this smoky, sultry aspect to her voice that just intrigues me.

Blake 5 — Gwen Sebastian vs. Erin Willett (We Belong, Pat Benatar)

Blake’s Pick: Erin

Adam was drawn in by the richness and warmth of Erin’s voice and Xtina gravitated to Erin’s style. Cee Lo preferred Gwen who completely sold him with her last phrase.

My Pick: Gwen
Erin is all power all the time, and I prefer the nuances of Gwen’s voice – with the wicked run at the end really selling it for me.

Goodbye Community?

Over the past three years, Community has quickly become one of my can’t miss TV comedies. Although I prefer Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory and The Office, Community is a completely unique type of television show. It’s off-the-wall and completely outside-the-box ideas make it a witty and entertaining half-hour. There’s an undefinable absurdity to the show that gives it and unpredictable and unmatched aspect.

Another underrated aspect Community is cuteness of Annie, played by the adorable Alison Brie. And if Community is truly on its farewell tour the rest of this season, then at least we’ll always have the GIFable memories of sweet, cute Annie.

The Justin Verlander Award Discussion

Justin Verlander failed to win his 25th game of the season the other day, but regardless of that he’s had a superb season. He has gone 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and a 250/57 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 251 innings and has MLB award voters touting him as a runaway Cy Young winner and a possible MVP winner.

Justin Verlander 24-5, 2.40

But delving deeper into his season might show otherwise. Undoubtedly, traditional stats like wins, ERA and strikeouts confirm that Verlander is the clear Cy Young winner. He will win the pitching triple crown this season by leading the league in wins, strikeouts and ERA. While not as rare as the hitting triple crown (average, HRs and RBIs) the last dozen pitchers that have won the triple crown have also won the Cy Young award.

However, more extensive statistics show that Verlander might not be the clear-cut best pitcher in the American League. His WAR of 7.0 is tied with CC Sabathia for the best in the American League, but of qualified starters, Justin Verlander ranks just fourth in FIP and second in xFIP. FIP stands for Fielding Independent Pitching and eliminates things that pitchers have no control over, such as defense. His FIP is actually the highest it has been since 2008, while his ERA this year is a career-low.

CC Sabathia has a lower FIP and xFIP than Verlander, and the 0.60 edge Verlander has in ERA is due entirely to Sabathia’s unusually high BABIP (batting average of balls in play) of .318 this season. Verlander’s 2.40 ERA is due mostly to an abnormally low BABIP and an abnormally high LOB% (left on base percentage). Both of these statistics are based mainly on “luck” and if these numbers were more in line with Verlander’s career numbers his season may have a different look. His career BABIP is .285 which is a very normal number, but in 2011 it is .238—much lower than the league average.

Another aspect of Verlander’s season that must be taken into account is the competition he has faced. Pitching in the American League Central division, Verlander will have made 10 starts against teams with a winning record this season, and just three such starts since July. CC Sabathia on the other hand has made 19 starts against winning teams, 11 since June.

Traditional statistics point to Justin Verlander as a clear-cut Cy Young favorite, but advanced metrics show that CC Sabathia has been the American League’s best pitcher in 2011. Cases can be made for either man to win the award, and I wouldn’t be all that upset if either pitcher received the award.

But, I can see no case whatsoever where anyone can make a case that Justin Verlander is the Most Valuable Player.

First of all, anyone that says the Tigers would have missed the playoffs without Verlander is insane. Detroit will end up winning the division by at least 14 games, probably more. The Tigers also outscored every team in their division by anywhere from 40 to 160 runs. Hitters like Miguel Cabrera have a much better case for MVP than Verlander. Cabrera is somewhat overlooked because he is this good every season. Verlander is having a career year, but Cabrera has a career year every year. The Tigers would have made the playoffs if I replaced him in the starting rotation.

Secondly, pitchers have had much better seasons than Verlander is having this year. If Pedro Martinez didn’t win the MVP for his 1999 season, Verlander shouldn’t finish top 10. That season, Pedro struck out 63 more batters than Verlander did this year, despite facing 134 less batters. Never mind Pedro did it in the midst of the Steroid Age and Verlander’s doing his thing in an offensive decline.

Every day skill players like Jose Bautista, Jacoby Ellsbury, Curtis Granderson and Miguel Cabrera are more valuable to their team than Justin Verlander. I believe that in baseball, the best player is the most valuable player. During a short playoff series, one starting pitcher can most definitely be the most valuable player, but over the course of a 162 game season, an everyday player provides a team the most value.

Justin Verlander is having an incredible season, but it is far from the historically good year that would force me admit that he is as a runaway Cy Young winner or a serious MVP candidate.

2011 NL Predictions

1. Philadelphia Phillies (95-67)
The Phillies became so overrated this winter that it’s become trendy to pick against them, so much so in fact that I believe they are underrated again. This is a team that won 97 games last year despite some pretty bad injuries and long disappearing acts from the offense. I’d wager that at least one of their “four aces” takes a turn on the DL at some point, but they are still an excellent ball club and the team to beat.

2. Atlanta Braves (93-69)
Very quietly, the Braves have put together a very formidable team. They have rotation that is deep and talented, so much so that Mike Minor will open the season in Triple-A. The addition of Dan Uggla and the return of a healthy Chipper Jones will lengthen the lineup and provide more support to the staff. They made it to the playoffs last season despite being a lesser offensive club and dealing with significant injuries. I think they make a return trip this season, providing they can stay somewhat healthy.

3. Florida Marlins (88-74)
The 2011 Marlins have significant upside, but have a fairly high bust factor to them as well. They’ve hedging a lot of bets on pitchers that perpetually underperform their peripheral stats (Nolasco and Vazquez). The offense will undoubtedly miss Dan Uggla’s consistency, and expecting Omar Infante and John Buck to repeat their 2010 campaigns may be unrealistic. The talent is there and the team is a good one, but Atlanta and Philly are better.

4. Washington Nationals (78-84)
The future is starting to look a little better, but the nation’s capitol will have to wait a bit longer to be relevant again. The offense has become one that is actually a good unit. Jayson Werth is not worth his contract, but he’s an very good player on both sides of the ball and will fit nicely with the other offensive pieces around him. Ryan Zimmerman is perpetually underrated and Adam LaRoche’s consistency goes overlooked. If young players like Ian Desmond and Michael Morse take a step forward, Washington could prove to be an annoying spoiler team. But regardless of how many runs they score, their pitching staff is more than capable of giving up even more.

5. New York Mets (72-90)
The Mets’ new front office has its work cut out for them. The Kings of Queens have turned quickly into jokers. They’ve got some potentially nice offensive pieces, but not a particularly intimidating lineup. They’re not exactly a model of perfect health either and they are betting on some young unproven guys to repeat career performances. If a lot things break right for the Mets they could be looking at a remote wild card shot by July. If not, an enormous roster shake up wouldn’t be out of the question.

1. Cincinnati Reds (91-71)
Apart from Joey Votto, nobody particularly stands out on a rather blase Reds team. But they were good enough to win a weak division last year and it doesn’t look like the division got much better. As is the norm with most upstart teams, the Reds got a lot of unexpected contributions this year and the trick now is to see if they can repeat those.

2. Milwaukee Brewers (90-72)
The Brewers did not struggle to score runs last season, nor did their opponents. While they will remain a very strong offensive team, they did vastly improve their rotation situation which no longer boasts Randy Wolf as a main attraction. Both Zack Greinke and Shawn Marcum are excellent additions, although they’ll need to avoid any more pick-up basketball games. The Brewers are definitely the most improved NL Central team and could very well nudge the Reds out for the division crown.

3. St. Louis Cardinals (89-73)
Adam Wainwright’s injury really threw the rotation out of whack, to the point where it probably won’t be all that good. Carpenter is solid, but not a given to stay on the field. Chances are he’ll either be on the DL or on a different team come the trade deadline. After Pujols, Holliday and Rasmus, the lineup is void of any serious offensive threats. The Cardinals are the epitome of stars and scrubs, and with less stars than they had last year, they shouldn’t expect much this summer under the Arch.

4. Chicago Cubs (80-82)
The rotation should be solid and the back of the bullpen is excellent, but the offense seems to be comprised of too many overpaid and underperforming aging veterans. Starlin Castro is a nice injection of youth and ability, but he’s just one guy.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates (75-87)
At least they’re not in last place! They have some nice young offensive pieces like Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker, but the rotation is mostly garbage and the bullpen is not much better. They’re moving in the right direction, but at an exponentially slow pace. The fifth place finish is less a vote of confidence in the Pirates, but rather a complete disbelief in the awfulness of the Astros.

6. Houston Astros (69-93)
Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers did a nice job last year at the front of the rotation, but the back of the rotation is filled with question marks, the bullpen is less than intimidating and the offense isn’t going to out-score anybody enough to consistently win ballgames. And considering the Astros shocking lack of high-end talent in the minors, don’t be surprised to see some veterans shipped off for prospects, like Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman were last season.

1. San Francisco Giants (92-70)
World Series hangover or not, this is still a very good club. I don’t think they’ll get quite the same production that they got last year from Aubrey Huff, Andres Torres and Pat Burrell, but offense isn’t what won them a championship anyways. The 2011 Giants will go just as far as their pitching takes them. And with a rotation fronted by 2-time Cy Young award winning Tim Lincecum and filled out with guys like Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner, that’s a long way. Because of their ability to develop young pitching, it’s made making $185 million dollar man, Barry Zito a very expensive fifth starter a little bit easier.

2. Colorado Rockies (86-76)
I don’t see San Francisco being better than they were last year, but I do see the Rockies being better. However, the Rockies were only an 83 win team last season and didn’t do much to improve themselves except that they expect Troy Tulowitzki to be around for a full season this year. The rotation has a lot of boom or bust potential, and can we really expect the same numbers from Carlos Gonzalez again? Maybe, but I still see them as an also-ran rather than a frontrunner this year.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers (78-84)
Kershaw-Billingsley-Kuroda is a damn good front three and they have some depth at the back of the rotation. The bullpen’s not terrible, but I can not foresee the offense scoring with enough frequency to support what should be a nice year from their pitchers. They lack a high impact bat on offense, but could have several nice pieces if they can stay healthy. A bounceback from Matt Kemp would be nice, especially if it settles some questions about his dedication and work ethic. Funny how production answers those. Truth is, the Dodgers really need to smooth out their ownership status before they can truly rebuild themselves into a perennial contender.

4. San Diego Padres (76-86)
Now that Adrian Gonzalez no longer anchors the lineup, the Padres offense is among the games worst units—Ryan Ludwick probably bats cleanup for San Diego this year. Take a terrible offense and make it play 81 games in one of the most offense-suppressing ballparks in baseball and you end up with very ugly results. The rotation isn’t anything special and since that is the case, the shutdown bullpen is typically going to be rendered to lower-leverage situations.

5. Arizona Diamondbacks (70-92)
A bounceback from Justin Upton would go a long way into re-establishing this lineup, but apart from him there are a lot of decent players with big holes. They strikeout way too much and get on base way too infrequently. Those two characteristics lead to a very inconsistent and ineffective offense which is the last thing the Diamondbacks need with its pitching situation in absolute shambles. Ian Kennedy profiles more as a back of the rotation guy, but draws an Opening Day start for Arizona.

RHA Election Debates

Monday played host to the RHA President and Vice President debates. It went fairly well, with Greg and myself clearly establishing a stronger slate and representing more experience and qualifications. But that doesn’t win elections. Here’s the article from Tuesday’s Maneater edition.

“The Residence Halls Association presidential slates faced off in front of the Internal Affairs Committee and External Affairs Committee Monday night.

RHA Vice President Greg Davis is running for RHA president with running mate Nate Ballance. The pair will run against presidential candidate B.T. Daramola and vice presidential candidate Scotty Faust. Last year, Ballance and Daramola ran for RHA president and vice president as a slate but lost to senior Justin Ginter and former vice president, junior Jennifer Williams.

The RHA election will take place Thursday. All students living in MU residence halls are eligible to vote. The elected president and vice president of RHA will be announced at the Residence Halls Inaugural Ball Friday night at the Upper Crust Bakery.

Faust has never worked with RHA but says he’s qualified because of his belief that it is a key organization on campus.

“If there was any way I could get involved and serve the community on this campus, I would gladly get involved in a heartbeat,” Faust said.

Ballance served as the communications chairman for RHA this year and said he wants to take those skills and apply them more widely to the organization.

At the debate, the slates addressed the policy of not allowing student staff members in the organization to hold the positions of president and vice president.

Davis said he agreed with the policy.

“A CA or a PA job is a huge job,” Davis said. “The president or vice president of RHA is also a larger responsibility. When you add 15-17 credit hours on top of that, you can have one stressed-out individual. It’s not an entirely healthy situation to be in.”

But Daramola said he and Faust believe that student staff members have all qualities necessary to fill the highest positions.

“We feel that a student staff member and everything that characterizes that person, that character and that strength of will, are exactly the qualities of a person who should be serving us as RHA president or vice president,” he said.

Daramola said the organization and the student body are robbed of many quality candidates with this policy.

What does the president of RHA do, and how will you go above and beyond that role?

DARAMOLA: The role of the president of RHA is first to maintain the integrity of the organization because we are the only organization that is set to serve the residents of the residence halls. What I would do as president, if I am elected, would be to just sit down and to evaluate because that is one of the main parts of that platform — fixing the organization from the inside out.

DAVIS: The president is also head of RHA’s executive board, and as such is seen as the face of RHA to other organizations on campus. The president also does a lot of things in the background of the organization. It could be anything from subtle encouragement to individual members, to coordinating with Campus Dining Services and setting up meetings or anything like that.

How do you intend to promote RHA?

DARAMOLA: One of the main problems, as far as hall council goes, and a relative problem is that they’re not permanent. They change through time. The one aspect of that hall council that stays the same longer than anything else is the Hall Coordinator. One of our plans of attack is to, when the semester first kicks off, to go to the HC, and explain to them what RHA is, the importance of it, and to make sure the first thing on that hall council agenda is to elect someone to be in RHA.

DAVIS: That’s part of what our visits to the hall councils are all about. We go there and talk up RHA and what it’s all about. Even if we can talk to the hall councils, and we can even have a larger scale meeting with the general residents of a hall and group, and we can talk it up there too. We’re going to have these events, and we can even have brochures and things like that.

How do you plan to approach, confront or address the social justice issues that we encounter on campus?

DARAMOLA: To combat social injustice, or to confront the problem at hand, we can hold more socially responsible events, such as the racism wall. Basically, what it is is a wall that’s set up where any negative derogatory comment you can think of will be written on that wall. At the end of the allotted time period, that wall will be broken down, representing the breaking down of stereotypes on that campus.

DAVIS: Nate and I are planning on having some kind of programming once a month. And these programs aren’t always going to be social programs necessarily. We’re going to have service programs. We’re also looking at having a great deal of diversity programming, including probably the racism wall, and talking up diversity to the external committee a bit, and seeing what they come up with.”

Greg and I stopped counting our misquotes after four (which I’ve highlighted in orange). In our opinion this article is a very poor article. Not only does it completely ignore the Vice Presidential debate, but one slate was covered more so than the other. The reporter showed up halfway through and was given a talk by the current President, Justin. We’ll see how the article effects the polls on Thursday.

We had the Pershing Area Council meeting tonight at which the Daramola/Faust slate showed up unannounced – which quite surprised Christa (the President) but she allowed them to speak anyways. Oh, if the reporter had been there tonight. Christa hit them with questions that tore them apart. The Council was slightly amused, being that none of them would been swayed anyways. They politely listened then I fielded questions after they had left correcting various incorrect statements that they had been told.