Friday, October 29, 2010

Rangers need some home cookin, and we need to remember 85'

To say that I’m surprised on how the first two games of the World Series have unfolded would be an understatement, but to say I’m disappointed wouldn’t be as most fans are. Not because we’re NL guys or Giants fans, but because when given the possibilities of who could of ended up in the Fall Classic and the different storylines, the final paring, and you can be honest, for most of us was a disappointment. At least I thought we would see a competitive series, and it still could be, but the one thing this series did have over most of the other 31 different combinations was the best pitching matchup (based on the season’s body of work) that any had with Lincecum and Lee. Needless to say Game was a disappointment in that regard, but if the game was close it would have made up for it but it was a sleeper, and unfortunately game 2 was even worse. It started out promising enough, and Cain certainly held up his end of the bargain, as it looked like the World Series gitters were out of the players systems and we’d see the good pitching and defense that the two had demonstrated throughout the post season, but that faded quickly and I found myself clicking over to TNT to check on the NBA. You don’t need a big market team when you get to this level, and college football is a great example of that, but what fans do want to see is play that resembles the title winners will hold for 12 months, World Champions, and six errors in game one, and starting pitchers that can’t get out of the fifth inning hardly qualifies. Don’t get me wrong the GMen are taking care of their business and for a team that specializes in manufacturing runs, scraping 2-out rallies, and mastering one-run games they certainly seem more like Yankees in regards to putting up big numbers on the scoreboard. It’s not that I don’t like offense, I just think it would be better if each team had a little. So before I write this one off and concede that the pundits were right let’s give the Rangers a chance to get back home, regroup, and become that team that beat the two teams with the best record in baseball en route to the show. Don’t forget, we referenced the 1985 series (Cards/Royals) when this one began as a 7-game series that was one of the best ever between two teams from the same state when most of the country wanted to see the first international World Series between the Dodgers and Jays and that series started out 2-0 as well, so I’m not giving up the cause. Are you still interested in this World Series? Let us know here and in any of the quick links.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

So the World Series is David vs. David, but is it good for baseball?

Bud Selig seems to like it, and Vegas did too as of the four scenarios not only was it the least likely but it also may be the leased liked. MLB did manage to get a 5 vs. 6 matchup as Dallas is the fifth largest TV market in the US and San Francisco is the 6th, and as much as it says it didn’t, it probably wanted a 1 vs. 4 which is what NY vs. Philly would have been. But there’s quite a bit of “what might have been going around this time of year, but what we do have are two of the best stone casters, giant killers, and resourceful clubs in recent memory in regards to making the most from the least. The Ranger’s payroll was the fourth lowest in the league at 55.2 million (keep in mind they’re still paying A-Rod 18 million) and they took down the Yankees whom notoriously have the highest payroll in the league at 206.3 million. Meanwhile the Giants are tenth in the league at 97.8 million but took down team with the fourth highest payroll in Philadelphia at 141.9 million. At the end of the day it doesn’t mean you don’t get what you pay for as the TV and merchandising make up the gap but it is good to know you can’t show to much forbearance towards the salary cap in lieu of a title run. So it’s a moral victory for the anti-establishment but will it be good for the game. Of all the pairings the Giants and Rangers will have the lowest ratings and won’t have the great storylines that a rematch between Phlilly and NYY would have had, but most of all it may be bad for baseball who have already seen their ratings drop tremendously including an embarrassing ratings lost by the ALCS to a terrible Monday Night Football game between the Jaguars and Titans in a head-to –head prime time ratings matchup. However, for the true fans of the game it could turn out to be a classic pitching duel with an amazing game 1 matchup between Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee, and for those of you old enough to remember the 85’ Series where no one outside of the state of Missouri was supposed to care, and if so they missed one of the best series of all time as the I-70 Series between the Cards and Royals went all seven games. Hopefully the Giants will continue their 2010 “torture tour” so we’ll be in for several one-run games and if the rest of the country can get over the fact that their club isn’t playing they just might be in store for another great Fall Classic. Will you be watching the World Series? Let us know here and in any of the quick links, also live chat with fans from both teams in our in-game chat rooms.
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Dogs may have the masters cornered but they’d better close out the show

Let this year be a testament to how difficult it is to not only repeat as champion but to even get an opportunity to do so. When the playoffs started the Yankees and Phillies were both the consensus and the odds makers favorite to get back to the show with the Phillies holding a slight betting edge everywhere except in the Tri-State area. However with just over ten days to go in October they both are one loss away from Winter vacation and we’re trying to figure out how everyone was so wrong. In the most poignant case of the NL, where absolutely NO ONE saw this coming and if you say you did you ether were smokin’ out in Haght-Ashbury or lying, the pitching outside of Tim Lincecum has been the surprise. Huge performances by an 11-loss pitcher in Matt Cain, and even Madison Bumgarner (7-6) got as far as they needed him too before “the Beards” could take over. So this is as good as an opportunity as there ever was for team that hasn’t won the World Series in a half-century. At home, with the two-time Cy Young Award winner on the bump, with a 3-1 lead so there isn’t the added pressure of lose or go home, and one win sends you to the show. Now, he does have a another blister issue on his throwing hand and the Phillies better hope it’s the size of a quarter. Conversely, if the Phillies can somehow get to ‘the freak’ and get into the pen, the Giants’ arms have been working overtime and it may not be such an open and shut (the door) situation. SF used four relief pitchers to close out game 4 and two in game 3, with of course Brian Wilson putting out the fire in both. So IF, and the size of that font could not be large enough, the Philly bats can get by TL going home for games 6 and 7 may not be that big of a stretch for the club with the best record in the League since the all-star break. I won’t go so far to say there is even 20% the amount of pressure on the Giants as the Phillies, but don’t think if Lincecum is taking slow walk to the dugout and the number on the top of the scoreboard is larger than the one on the bottom it won’t be in the back of everyone’s mind. Can Philadelphia pull off the miraculous comeback or can we slate one upset winner into WS?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Series could sway on the outcome of game 3

Back in the city by the bay the Giants could not have asked for a better opportunity. If someone would have told them they would have a three-game set at home, with ‘The Freak’ on the bump for the third they would surely take it, and they had better make it happen or it may be their last homestand of the season. I know they’ve stolen home field advantage and you have to like the way they’ve won every one-run game they’ve played in the post season this year, but it may be fool’s gold. Firstly, they have had virtually no production from the top half of their lineup as three of the first four are under .150, Sanchez .222 and the top is Burrell at .286. Additionally Uribe is listed as day-to-day with a sore wrist and even if he does go the chances of him catching up to the cheese of the Phillies’ arms is slim, and as great as he has been you cant expect Cody Ross, a season .269 hitter, to keep bailing them out, which is why they’re home dogs in game 3 at AT & T Park. Furthermore, another ‘go to guy’ during the season was the Panda who has yet to even register an at bat during this series. Going up against Hammels they will need age gem today from Matt Cain who needs to stay right around is ERA of 3.14 to keep them in it. It would be remised to not acknowledge that the Philly sticks were well in check until the 7th inning of game 2 and all eyes will be on weather that is a continuing trend or an aberration but they’ve gotta’ believe if they can get to Cain and put 4 or 5 on the board they’ve got a good chance of taking the series back to the city of brotherly love. Game 3 is pivotal not just because home field hangs in the balance but with a win in game 3 the GMen know they are just one game away from getting Lincecum on the mound with a chance to close it out and rest assured the Phillies know that too, and then the pressure completely shifts to their shoulders and don’t for minute think they don’t know what an impact the Ranger ace Cliff Lee has on that series which on paper should favor the Yankees. So much like the AL if there is one game which could portend the World Series representative, this is it. Can the Giants win it at home with the missing links in their lineup?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Is the ALCS a one-game series?

Yankees vs. Rangers – Texas had to pinching themselves on the way to the Ballpark this afternoon when it finally hit them that they were not only playing in the ALCS but HOSTING, and I don’t think this is a “be careful what you wish for” scenario because they’re exactly where they want to be and facing the club they want to beat. Obviously, we poke at the Yankees like most, with our evil empire comments, but also like so many, it’s done out of respect for an organization that has consistently been on the top since the invention of the game and you know you reach that stage when it only really makes news when you lose not when you win. With that in mind if you want to be the best, you gotta’ beat the best, and now the Rangers got them, and their 6’8 tight end ace CC is not only in their house, but they’ve sat down in kitchen and popped a brew. With all the nuances of the game/series itself, the deciding factor could be determined this afternoon with game 1 for a multitude or reasons. Firstly, there is home field advantage which will either be held by the Rangers or stolen by the Yankees. Both clubs won over 50 games at home this season (NY 52, TX 51) and although it probably doesn’t hold as much value as in the NFL or NBA, the Rangers seem to bring their stick to park more at home than on the road with a much better home batting average. Secondly, if you beat CC tonight then you get into the question mark that is the Yankee pitching staff. If you can get past CC then Yankees bring on Phil Hughes (18 game winner) who did go seven scoreless against the Twins but is still only in his second season and you don’t know how he’ll react to that kind of pressure. In game 3 it’s the crafty vet and Pettitte certainly delivered in his outing against the Twins but how many times can he deliver in the post season is the question. I think he has the heart of a lion and wouldn’t bet against him but in addition to the Rangers bats he’s fighting father time, whom seldom loses. Now if the October Yankees show up like it seems they always know how to come as the leaves turn brown then all of this is rhetoric and we’ll be the first to point out how it’s more of the same, conversely this is what pundits will be pointing to if Texas makes it to the classic for the first time in history. Who do you like in this series?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A pair of Aces in a hole

If it was the Heisman Trophy ceremony then David Price would be one of the finalist on the podium, and some believe to be the favorite, however if he loses game 5 of the ALDS tonight regardless of how the voting turns out it will seem like he didn’t live up to expectations. Particularly after his performance in game one, which wasn’t terrible but they did hit him, almost in every inning, and had multiple opportunities. In a deciding game, too many ducks on the pond usually leads to short hook because all it takes is a seeing-eye grounder or a ball off a shattered stick that finds a home and your season could be over. This is the very situation you have an ace on staff for, in a deciding game where the only other player you’ll need in the pen is a closer, maybe. Ala, Jack Morris or Orel Hershiser where the only way you’re taking them off the bump is on your shoulders in the midst of confetti. However, across the table sits the Texas Rangers with their ace Cliff Lee who would need a very similar introduction to describe what is expected of him, but the difference is that Lee is ‘all in’ on this hand and needs to cash in as his status as a free agent after this season is still up in the air and it would be a much easier sell to Daddy Nolan if the Rangers win their first series since he was the one with a ball in hand. No doubt Price will be in a Rays uniform next year even though that uniform may not know where IT will be, but this may be Lee’s last stand with “Walker” if the season ends, conversely, a win to bring the series home for the first time in years, and no one will question re-signing the ace that brought it home. Lastly, as we make it to the river card, the importance of this win to both franchises is gargantuan and that is not hyperbole. For the Rangers from Nolan, to solidify the new ownership, to Ron Washington with drug issues earlier in the season, and on down it breaks a string of futility that is not only not tolerated in the state of Texas, but could help bring them up from the cellar of Texas sports franchises where they sit behind the Horns, Cowboys, Texans, Mavericks, Stars, Spurs, Rockets, etc., even auto racing. As for the Rays it simply can not be over stated that this could be the most important game since the World Series as most of the team could and probably will be dismantled, and a series win is the only chance they have of retaining the talent that garnished the best record in Baseball this season. It also could be the ticket to a new home city or at least a new stadium but a loss and St. Pete could wish them good riddance. Suffice to say both are all in, so let’s turn em’ over! Who has more to lose other than the obvious, Price or Lee? Who do you think will have a better outing? Let us know here and in any of the quick links, also live chat with fans from both teams in our in-game chat rooms.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The theme for the 10 playoffs? Don’t write the dogs off.

Atlanta vs. San Francisco – You can’t really say there is an underdog in this series as these two were caught in the log jam that came down to the final week (game) of the NL season. Although separated by only one game at the end of the season, and with the season series going to the Braves 4-3, the 441 on the Giants has been that if there was one team other than the Phillies that you didn’t want to mess with in the first round it was the SF. Dealing with The Freak twice in one week, Cain, and Sanchez runs the risk of getting one hot pitcher that can end your season. The Braves will try and counter with the craftiness of one Robert Cox, patience, and timely hitting. They game plan is pretty simple, work the work, get the pitch count up, and get into the bullpen. Atlanta was 4th in on base pct. and 14th in runs scored, and they’ll need to get the Giant pitchers in the showers early if they want to move on.
Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays - If there was an underdog to take in the first round the Rangers would have to be it. They have not been to the playoffs since last century (1999) and their MVP Josh Hamilton is nursing some very sore ribs as the travel to take on the club who has consistently had the best record in baseball most of the season, also have not been outside of the top 10 in the power rankings at any one time during the 27 week season, and won MLB’s toughest division. On the flipside the Rays also have (arguably) their MVP playing hurt as we will have to wait and see how effective Evan Longoria will be. However even if these two cancel out the issue becomes pitching where the Rays have a slight advantage with David Price (19-6, 2.72) and Matt Garza (15 wins, 3.91), but game 2 starter James Shields (13-15) and Wade Davis (12-10) are more than reachable and if Cliff Lee (12-9, 3.18) can take game one on the road where the crowd is not known to be a factor then Texas could take this series. Once concern is despite the light crowds the Rangers have lost 10 of their last 12 games at Tropicana Field, including all three this year which will need to be broken if they are to advance but keep in mind the Ranges have the highest average rank of the four tracking categories of runs batting average on base pct. and slugging, and if they could get into the Rays bullpen early, the top seed may fall in this one.
Cincinnati Reds vs. Philadelphia Phillies – If there was one dog that was the toughest to take in the first round it would be the Reds, and not because they backed into the playoffs but because of the way the Phillies stormed in (23-7 over the last 30 games, the best in the League). To make matters worse the short playoff rotation means that the Reds are going to have to beat Roy Halladay a 21-game winner, Roy Oswalt, or Cole Hamels with sizeable playoff experience. Or find themselves facing a substantial deficit. However, is there is one team who has the stick to do just that, it’s the Reds. With an offense that ranks in the top five in Runs, Batting Ave., On Base Pct., and Slugging, don’t expect the Phillies to be taking these games 2-0, but can they get the timely hits in clutch situations that can get them the all important road win that they will need to move on?
Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees – In the words of the immortal Yankee Yogi Bera, it’s daja vu all over again as the Twins come back for the second year in a row to try and derail the Yankee express. Last year they were merely a speed bump (swept in 3 games) en route to the Evil Empire hanging another banner. So obviously the first question is what’s going to be different this time around? Well first off, New York is not nearly the dominating pitching machine that they were last year and there are some serious question marks on the depth of their staff after CC Sabathia, particularly how effective will Andy Pettitte be coming back from injury as he is slated to pitch game 2. If the Twins can get a split in Yankee Stadium and head back to the dome 1-1, then other than the obvious reason of stealing home field, force the Yankees to beat the team with the best home record in the AL and 2nd best overall in their house. So if you can manage to ignore the names on the jerseys (the Twins will need to do this as well) you might not be as surprised at the level of play or the outcome. Do you think there will be any upsets in the first round of the LDS? Let us know here and in any of the quick links, also live chat with fans from both teams in our in-game chat rooms.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

An October day that defies description

As if 161 games weren’t enough, and obviously they weren’t, we’re down to one more game with the AL East, NL West, and both Wild Cards still to be decided and the fate of five teams hangs in the balance. Obviously the stakes are not that high for the Yanks and Ray because the loser gets the Wild Card birth but there’s more to it than that. Actually the Rays should have wrapped this thing up a long time ago but have only managed to go 5-4 over their last 9 against the worst in the AL Mariners, Orioles, and Royals so even if they do win tomorrow how much momentum are they really bringing into the post season and how big a difference will home field really make if you only bring 10k to the ballpark? Conversely, even with all of that said, It may mean more to the Yankees who could be in trouble if they are away from the confines of the new Yankee Stadium as their pitching staff has a few question marks, specifically how effective will AP be in the post season and what happens if CC drops a game? In both cases the post season actually starts a day early. What was unpredictable has turned into pure madness in the NL as the Padres who looked like they shot themselves in the foot as they made the final turn on the last 220 of the race but have suddenly found themselves in a position to control their own destiny after taking two straight from the Giants in their head-to-head matchup. Aided by some divine intervention and from the defending NL Champs who took the first two games from the slumping Braves the Padres now find themselves in a tie for the wildcard and only one game back of the Giants for the NL West division crown. What seemed impossible at the beginning of the week and after losing at home to Cub s to put themselves in a must SWEEP position against the Giants, IN SAN FRANCISCO, they are just one game away. But, as you know, this is when I rain on the parade by letting the SD fans know that the GMen are sending out Jonathan Sanchez to the bump (6-2) his last 8 decisions and has only given up more than 2 runs once during that span and the Giants scored 17 in that same game and that was one of his six wins. The Padres will counter with a rookie, although a very good one, in 14-9 Mat Latos. I for one will tune in just to see how the kid responds. Which brings us to the train wreck that seems to be the Atlanta Braves, losers of 6 in their last 10, including two straight to the Phillies, when one more would have wrapped up the Wild Card. Now they find themselves in a must win and go through Cole Hammels (5-1) his last six decisions with two shutouts, or end the dream of sending Bobby Cox out a champion. Who do you think will advance in both the NL and AL? Let us know here and in any of the quick links.
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